The Project Gutenberg EBook of Tom Cringle's Log, by Michael Scott

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Title: Tom Cringle's Log

Author: Michael Scott

Release Date: January, 2005  [EBook #7281]
Last Updated: November 19, 2016

Language: English

Character set encoding: UTF-8


Produced by John Edward Heaton and David Widger


By Michael Scott



CHAPTER I.—The Launching of the Log.

CHAPTER II.—The Cruise of the Torch.

CHAPTER III.—The Quenching of the Torch.

CHAPTER IV.—Scenes on the Costa Firme.

CHAPTER V.—The Piccaroon

CHAPTER VI.—The Cruise of the Spark

CHAPTER VII.—Scenes in Jamaica

CHAPTER VIII.—The Chase of the Smuggler

CHAPTER IX.—Cuba Fishermen

CHAPTER X.—Vomito Prieto.

CHAPTER XI.—More Scenes in Jamaica.

CHAPTER XII.—The Cruise o the Firebrand

CHAPTER XIII.—The Pirate’s Leman

CHAPTER XIV.—Scenes in Cuba

CHAPTER XV.—The Cruise of the Wave. The Action with the Slaver.

CHAPTER XVI.—The Second Cruise of the Wave

CHAPTER XVII.—The Third Cruise of the Wave

CHAPTER XVIII. Tropical High-links

CHAPTER XIX.—The Last of the Log—Tom Cringle’s Farewell.

CHAPTER I.—The Launching of the Log.

Dazzled by the glories of Trafalgar, I, Thomas Cringle, one fine morning in the merry month of May, in the year one thousand eight hundred and so and so, magnanimously determined in my own mind, that the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland should no longer languish under the want of a successor to the immortal Nelson, and being then of the great perpendicular altitude of four feet four inches, and of the mature age of thirteen years, I thereupon betook myself to the praiseworthy task of tormenting, to the full extent of my small ability, every man and woman who had the misfortune of being in any way connected with me, until they had agreed to exert all their interest, direct or indirect, and concentrate the same in one focus upon the head and heart of Sir Barnaby Blueblazes, vice-admiral of the red squadrons a Lord of the Admiralty, and one of the old plain K.B.‘s (for he flourished before the time when a gallant action or two tagged half of the letters of the alphabet to a man’s name, like the tail of a paper kite), in order that he might be graciously pleased to have me placed on the quarterdeck of one of his Majesty’s ships of war without delay.

The stone I had set thus recklessly a-rolling, had not been in motion above a fortnight, when it fell with unanticipated violence, and crushed the heart of my poor mother, while it terribly bruised that of me, Thomas; for as I sat at breakfast with the dear old woman, one fine Sunday morning, admiring my new blue jacket and snow white trowsers, and shining well soaped face, and nicely brushed hair, in the pier glass over the chimney piece, I therein saw the door behind me open, and Nicodemus, the waiting man, enter and deliver a letter to the old lady, with a formidable looking seal.

I perceived that she first ogled the superscription, and then the seal, very ominously, and twice made as if she would have broken the missive open, but her heart seemed as often to fail her. At length she laid it down-heaved a long deep sigh—took off her spectacles, which appeared dim-wiped them, put them on again, and making a sudden effort, tore open the letter, read it hastily over, but not so rapidly as to prevent her hot tears falling with a small tiny tap tap on the crackling paper.

Presently she pinched my arm, pushed the blistered manuscript under my nose, and utterly unable to speak to me, rose, covered her face with her hands, and left the room weeping bitterly. I could hear her praying in a low, solemn, yet sobbing and almost inarticulate voice, as she crossed the passage to her own dressing-room.—“Even as thou wilt, oh Lord—not mine, but thy holy will be done—yet, oh! it is a bitter bitter thing for a widowed mother to part with her only boy.”

Now came my turn—as I read the following epistle three times over, with a most fierce countenance, before thoroughly understanding whether I was dreaming or awake—in truth, poor little fellow as I was, I was fairly stunned.

“Admiralty, such a date.

“DEAR MADAM, It gives me very great pleasure to say that your son is appointed to the Breeze frigate, now fitting at Portsmouth for foreign service. Captain Wigemwell is a most excellent officer, and a good man, and the schoolmaster on board is an exceedingly decent person I am informed; so I congratulate you on his good fortune in beginning his career, in which I wish him all success, under such favourable auspices. As the boy is, I presume, all ready, you had better send him down on Thursday next, at latest, as the frigate will go to sea, wind and weather permitting, positively on Sunday morning.”

“I remain, my dear Madam,”

“Yours very faithfully,”


However much I had been moved by my mother’s grief, my false pride came to my assistance, and my first impulse was to chant a verse of some old tune, in a most doleful manner. “All right—all right,” I then exclaimed, as I thrust half a doubled up muffin into my gob, but it was all chew, chew, and no swallow—not a morsel could I force down my parched throat, which tightened like to throttle me.

Old Nicodemus had by this time again entered the room, unseen and unheard, and startled me confoundedly, as he screwed his words in his sharp cracked voice into my larboard ear. “Jane tells me your mamma is in a sad taking, Master Tom. You ben’t going to leave us, all on a heap like, be you? Surely your stay until your sister comes from your uncle Job’s? You know there are only two on ye—You won’t leave the old lady all alone, Master Thomas, win ye?’ The worthy old fellow’s voice quavered here, and the tears hopped over his old cheeks through the flour and tallow like peas, as he slowly drew a line down the forehead of his well-powdered pate, with his fore-finger.

“No—no—why, yes,” exclaimed I, fairly overcome; “that is—oh Nic, Nic you old fool, I wish I could cry, man—I wish I could cry!” and straightway I hied me to my chamber, and wept until I thought my very heart would have burst.

In my innocence and ignorance, child as I was, I had looked forward to several months preparation; to buying and fitting of uniforms, and dirks, and cocked hat, and swaggering therein, to my own great glory, and the envy of all my young relations; and especially I desired to parade my fire—new honours before the large dark eyes of my darling little creole cousin, Mary Palma; whereas I was now to be bundled on board, at a few days warning, out of a ready-made furnishing shop, with lots of ill-made, glossy, hard mangled duck trowsers, the creases as sharp as the backs of knives, and—“oh, it never rains, but it pours,” exclaimed I; “surely all this promptitude is a little de plus in Sir Barnaby.”

However, away I was trundled at the time appointed, with an aching heart, to Portsmouth, after having endured the misery of a first parting from a fond mother, and a host of kind friends; but, miserable as I was, according to my preconceived determination, I began my journal the very day I arrived, that nothing connected with so great a man should be lost, and most weighty did the matters therein related appear to me at the time; but seen through the long vista of, I won’t say how many years, I really must confess that the Log, for long long after I first went to sea in the Breeze, and subsequently when removed to the old Kraaken line-of-battle ship, both of which were constantly part of blockading squadrons, could be compared to nothing more fitly than a dish of trifle, anciently called syllabub, with a stray plum here and there scattered at the bottom. But when, after several weary years, I got away in the dear old Torch, on a separate cruise, incidents came fast enough with a vengeance—stem, unyielding, iron events, as I found to my heavy cost, which spoke out trumpet-tongued and fiercely for themselves, and whose tremendous simplicity required no adventitious aid in the narration to thrill through the hearts of others. So, to avoid yarn-spinning, I shall evaporate my early Logs, and blow off as much of the froth as I can, in order to present the residuum free of flummery to the reader—just to give him a taste here and there, as it were, of the sort of animal I was at that time. Thus:

Thomas Cringle, his log-book.

Arrived in Portsmouth by the Defiance at ten, A.M. on such a day. Waited on the Commissioner, to whom I had letters, and said I was appointed to the Breeze. Same day, went on board and took up my berth; stifling hot; mouldy biscuit; and so on. My mother’s list makes it fifteen shirts, whereas I only have twelve.

Admiral made the signal to weigh, wind at S.W. fresh and squally. Stockings should be one dozen worsted, three of cotton, two of silk; find only half a dozen worsted, two of cotton, and one of silk.

Fired a gun and weighed.

Sailed for the Fleet off Vigo, deucidly sea-sick was told that fat pork was the best specific, if bolted half raw; did not find it much of a tonic passed a terrible night, and for four hours of it obliged to keep watch, more dead than alive. The very second evening we were at sea, it came on to blow, and the night fell very dark, with heavy rain. Towards eight bells in the middle watch, I was standing on a gun well forward on the starboard side, listening to the groaning of the main-tack, as the swelling sail, the foot of which stretched transversely right athwart the ship’s deck in a black arch, struggled to tear it up, like some dark impalpable spirit of the air striving to burst the chains that held him, and escape high up into the murky clouds, or a giant labouring to uproot an oak, and wondering in my innocence how hempen cord could brook such strain when just as the long waited-for strokes of the bell sounded gladly in mine ear, and the shrill clear note of the whistle of the boatswain’s mate had been followed by his gruff voice, grumbling hoarsely through the gale, “Larboard watch, ahoy!” The look-out at the weather gangway, who had been relieved, and beside whom I had been standing a moment before, stepped past me, and scrambled up on the booms “Hillo, Howard, where away, my man?” said I.

“Only to fetch my”—

Crack!—the main tack parted, and up flew the sail with a thundering flap, loud as the report of a cannon-shot, through which, however, I could distinctly hear a heavy smash, as the large and ponderous blocks at the clew of the sail struck the doomed sailor under the ear, and whirled him off the booms over the fore-yard-arm into the sea, where he perished, as heaving-to was impossible, and useless if practicable, as his head must have been smashed to atoms.

This is one of the stray plums of the trifle, what follows is a whisk of the froth, written when we looked into Corunna, about a week after the embarkation of the army:—


     Farewell, thou pillar of the war,
     Warm-hearted soldier, Moore, farewell,
     In honour’s firmament a star,
     As bright as ere in glory fell.

     Deceived by weak or wicked men,
     How gallantly thou stood’st at bay,
     Like lion hunted to his den,
     Let France tell, on that bloody day.

     No boastful splendour round thy bier,
     No blazon’d trophies o’er thy grave;
     But thou had’st more, the soldier’s tear,
     The heart-warm offering of the brave.

     On Lusitania’s rock-girt coast,
     All coffinless thy relics lie,
     Where all but honour bright was lost,
     Yet thy example shall not die.

     Albeit no funeral knell was rung,
     Nor o’er thy tomb in mournful wreath
     The laurel twined with cypress hung,
     Still shall it live while Britons breathe.

     What though, when thou wert lowly laid,
     Instead of all the pomp of woe,
     The volley o’er thy bloody bed
     Was thunder’d by an envious foe:—

     Inspired by it in after time,
     A race of heroes will appear,
     The glory of Britannia’s clime,
     To emulate thy bright career.

     And there will be, of martial fire,
     Those who all danger will endure;
     Their first, best aim, but to aspire
     To die thy death—the death of Moore.

To return. On the evening of the second day, we were off Falmouth, and then got a slant of wind that enabled us to lie our course.

Next morning, at daybreak, saw a frigate in the northeast quarter, making signals;—soon after we bore up. Bay of Biscay—tremendous swell—Cape Finisterre—blockading squadron off Cadiz—in-shore squadron—and so on, all trifle and no plums.

At length the Kraaken, in which I had now served for some time, was ordered home, and sick of knocking about in a fleet, I got appointed to a fine eighteen-gun sloop, the Torch, in which we sailed on such a day for the North Sea—wind foul—weather thick and squally; but towards evening on the third day, being then off Harwich, it moderated, when we made more sail, and stood on, and next morning, in the cold, miserable, drenching haze of an October daybreak, we passed through a fleet of fishing-boats at anchor. “At anchor,” thought I, “and in the middle of the sea,”—but so it was—all with their tiny cabooses, smoking cheerily, and a solitary figure, as broad as it was long, stiffly walking to and fro on the confined decks of the little vessels. It was now that I knew the value of the saying, “a fisherman’s walk, two steps and overboard.” With regard to these same fishermen, I cannot convey a better notion of them, than by describing one of the two North Sea pilots whom we had on board. This pilot was a tall, raw-boned subject, about six feet or so, with a blue face—I could not call it red—and a hawk’s-bill nose of the colour of bronze. His head was defended from the weather by what is technically called a south-west, pronounced sow-west,—cap, which is in shape like the thatch of a dustman, composed of canvass, well tarred, with no snout, but having a long flap hanging down the back to carry the rain over the cape of the jacket. His chin was embedded in a red comforter that rose to his ears. His trunk was first of all cased in a shirt of worsted stocking-net; over this he had a coarse linen shirt, then a thick cloth waistcoat; a shag jacket was the next layer, and over that was rigged the large cumbrous pea jacket, reaching to his knees. As for his lower spars, the rig was still more peculiar;—first of all, he had on a pair of most comfortable woollen stockings, what we call fleecy hosiery—and the beauties are peculiarly nice in this respect—then a pair of strong fearnaught trowsers; over these again are drawn up another pair of stockings, thick, coarse, rig-and-furrowed as we call them in Scotland, and above all this were drawn a pair of long, well-greased, and liquored boots, reaching half-way up the thigh, and altogether impervious to wet. However comfortable this costume may be in bad weather in board, it is clear enough that any culprit so swathed, would stand a poor chance of being saved, were he to fall overboard. The wind now veered round and round, and baffled, and checked us off, so that it was the sixth night after we had taken our departure from Harwich before we saw Heligoland light. We then bore away for Cuxhaven, and I now knew for the first time that we had a government emissary of some kind or another on board, although he had hitherto confined himself strictly to the captain’s cabin.

All at once it came on to blow from the north-east, and we were again driven back among the English fishing boats. The weather was thick as buttermilk, so we had to keep the bell constantly ringing, as we could not see the jib-boom end from the forecastle. Every now and then we heard a small, hard, clanking tinkle, from the fishing-boats, as if an old pot had been struck instead of a bell, and a faint hollo, “Fishing-smack,” as we shot past them in the fog, while we could scarcely see the vessels at all. The morning after this particular time to which I allude, was darker than any which had gone before it; absolutely you could not see the breadth of the ship from you; and as we had not taken the sun for five days, we had to grope our way almost entirely by the lead. I had the forenoon watch, during the whole of which we were amongst a little fleet of fishing-boats, although we could scarcely see them, but being unwilling to lose ground by lying to, we fired a gun every half hour, to give the small craft notice of our vicinity, that they might keep their bells a-going. Every three or four minutes, the marine drum-boy, or some amateur performer,—for most sailors would give a glass of grog any day to be allowed to beat a drum for five minutes on end—beat a short roll, and often as we drove along, under a reefed foresail, and close reefed topsails, we could hear the answering tinkle before we saw the craft from which it proceeded; and when we did perceive her as we flew across her stern, we could only see it, and her mast, and one or two well-swathed, hardy fishermen, the whole of the little vessel forward being hid in a cloud.

I had been invited this day to dine with the Captain, Mr Splinter, the first lieutenant being also of the party; the cloth had been withdrawn, and we had all had a glass or two of wine a-piece, when the fog settled down so thickly, although it was not more than five o’clock in the afternoon, that the captain desired that the lamp might be lit. It was done, and I was remarking the contrast between the dull, dusky, brown light, or rather the palpable London fog that came through the skylight, and the bright yellow sparkle of the lamp, when the second lieutenant, Mr Treenail, came down the ladder.

“We have shoaled our water to five fathoms, sir—shells and stones.—Here, Wilson, bring in the lead.”

The leadsman, in his pea-jacket and shag trowsers, with the raindrop hanging to his nose, and a large knot in his cheek from a junk of tobacco therein stowed, with pale, wet visage, and whiskers sparkling with moisture, while his long black hair hung damp and lank over his fine forehead and the stand-up cape of his coat, immediately presented himself at the door, with the lead in his claws, an octagonal-shaped cone, like the weight of a window-sash, about eighteen inches long, and two inches diameter at the bottom, tapering away nearly to a point at top, where it was flattened, and a hole pierced for the line to be fastened to. At the lower end—the but-end, as I would say there was a hollow scooped out, and filled with grease, so that when the lead was cast, the quality of the soil, sand, or shells, or mud, that came up adhering to this lard, indicated, along with the depth of water, our situation in the North Sea; and by this, indeed, we guided our course, in the absence of all opportunity of ascertaining our position by observations of the sun.

The Captain consulted the chart—“Sand and shells; why, you should have deeper water, Mr Treenail. Any of the fishing-boats near you?”

“Not at present, sir; but we cannot be far off some of them.”

“Well, let me know when you come near any of them.”

A little after this, as became my situation, I rose and made my bow, and went on deck.

By this time the night had fallen, and it was thicker than ever, so that, standing beside the man at the wheel, you could not see farther forward than the booms; yet it was not dark, either,—that is, it was moonlight, so that the haze, thick as it was, had that silver gauze-like appearance, as if it had been luminous in itself, that cannot be described to any one who has not seen it. The gun had been fired just as I came on deck, but no responding tinkle gave notice of any vessel being in the neighbourhood. Ten minutes, it may have been a quarter of an hour, when a short roll of the drum was beaten from the forecastle, where I was standing. At the moment I thought I heard a holla, but I could not be sure. Presently I saw a small light, with a misty halo surrounding it, just under the bowsprit.

“Port your helm,” sung out the boatswain,—“port your helm, or we shall be over a fishing-boat!”

A cry arose from beneath a black object was for an instant distinguishable and the next moment a crash was heard. The sprit-sail-yard rattled, and broke off sharp at the point where it crossed the bowsprit; and a heavy smashing thump against our bows told, in fearful language, that we had run her down. Three of the men and a boy hung on by the rigging of the bowsprit, and were brought safely on board; but two poor fellows perished with their boat. It appeared, that they had broken their bell; and although they saw us coming, they had no better means than shouting, and showing a light, to advertise us of their vicinity.

Next morning the wind once more chopped round, and the weather cleared, and in four-and-twenty hours thereafter we were off the mouth of the Elbe, with three miles of white foaming shoals between us and the land at Cuxhaven, roaring and hissing, as if ready to swallow us up. It was low water, and, as our object was to land the emissary at Cuxhaven, we had to wait, having no pilot for the port, although we had the signal flying for one all morning, until noon, when we ran in close to the green mound which constituted the rampart of the fort at the entrance. To our great surprise, when we hoisted our colours and pennant, and fired a gun to leeward, there was no flag hoisted in answer at the flag-staff, nor was there any indication of a single living soul on shore to welcome us. Mr Splinter and the Captain were standing together at the gangway—“Why, sir,” said the former, “this silence somewhat surprises me: what say you, Cheragoux?” to the government emissary or messenger already mentioned, who was peering through the glass close by.

“Why, mi Lieutenant, I don’t certain dat all ish right on sore dere.’

“No?” said Captain Deadeye; “why, what do you see?”

“It ish not so mosh vat I shee, as vat I no shee, sir, dat trembles me. It cannot surely be possib dat de Prussian an’ Hanoverian troop have left de place, and dat dese dem Franceman ave advance so far as de Elbe autrefois, dat ish, once more?’

“French!” said Deadeye, “Poo, nonsense; no French hereabouts; none nearer than those cooped up in Hamburgh with Davoust, take my word for it.”

“I sall take your vord for any ting else in de large vorld, mi Capitain; but I see someting glance behind dat rampart, parapet you call, dat look dem like de shako of de infanterie legere of dat willain de Emperor Napoleon. Ah! I see de red worsted epaulet of de grenadier also; sacre! vat is dat pof of vite smoke?”

What it was we soon ascertained to our heavy cost, for the shot that had been fired at us from a long 32-pound gun, took effect right abaft the foremast, and killed three men outright, and wounded two. Several other shots followed, but with less sure aim. Returning the fire was of no use, as our carronades could not have pitched their metal much more than halfway; or, even if they had been long guns, they would merely have plumped the balls into the turf rampart, without hurting any one. So we wisely hauled off, and ran up the river with the young flood for about an hour, until we anchored close to the Hanoverian bank, near a gap in the dike, where we waited till the evening.

As soon as the night fell, a boat with muffled oars was manned, to carry the messenger on shore. I was in it; Mr Treenail, the second lieutenant, steering. We pulled in right for a breach in the dike, lately cut by the French, in order to inundate the neighbourhood; and as the Elbe at high water is hereabouts much higher than the surrounding country, we were soon sucked into the current, and had only to keep our oars in the water, pulling a stroke now and then to give the boat steerage way. As we shot through the gap into the smooth water beyond, we once more gave way, the boat’s head being kept in the direction of lights that we saw twinkling I in the distance, apparently in some village beyond the inner embankment, when all at once we dashed in amongst thousands of wild-geese, which rose with a clang, and a concert of quacking, screaming, and hissing, that was startling enough. We skimmed steadily on in the same direction “Oars, men!” We were by this time close to a small cluster of houses, perched on the forced ground or embankment, and the messenger hailed in German.

“Qui vive!” sung out a gruff voice; and we heard the clank of a musket, as if some one had cast it from his shoulder, and caught it in his hands, as he brought it down to the charge. Our passenger seemed a little taken aback; but he hailed again, still in German. “Parole,” replied the man. A pause. “The watchword, or I fire.” We had none to give.

“Pull round, men,” said the lieutenant, with great quickness; “pull the starboard oars; we are in the wrong box; back water the larboard. That’s it! give way, men.”

A flash-crack went the sentry’s piece, and ping sung the ball over our heads. Another pause. Then a volley from a whole platoon. Again all was dark and silent. Presently a field-piece was fired, and several rockets were let off in our direction, by whose light we could see a whole company of French soldiers standing to their arms, with several cannon, but we were speedily out of the reach of their musketry. Several round shots were now fired, that hissed, recochetting along the water close by us. Not a word was spoken in the boat all this time; we continued to pull for the opening in the dike, although, the current being strong against us, we made but little way; while the chance of being cut off by the Johnny Crapeau, getting round the top of the embankment, so as to command the gap before we could reach it, became every moment more alarming.

The messenger was in great tribulation, and made several barefaced attempts to stow himself away under the stem sheets.

The gallant fellows who composed the crew strained at their oars until every thing cracked again; but as the flood made, the current against us increased, and we barely held our own. “Steer her, out of the current, man,” said the lieutenant to the coxswain; the man put the tiller to port as he was ordered.

“Vat you do soch a ting for, Mr Capitain Lieutenant?” said the emissary. “Oh! you not pershave you are rone in order de igh bank! How you sall satisfy me no France infanterie legere dere, too, more as in de fort, eh? How you sall satisfy me, Mister Capitain Lieutenant, eh?”

“Hold your blasted tongue, will you,” said Treenail, “and the infantry legere be damned simply. Mind your eye, my fine fellow, or I shall be much inclined to see whether you will be Legere in the Elbe or no. Hark!”

We all pricked up our ears, and strained our eyes, while a bright, spitting sparkling fire of musketry opened at the gap, but there was no ping pinging of the shot overhead.

“They cannot be firing at us, sir,” said the coxswain; “none of them bullets are telling hereaway.”

Presently a smart fire was returned in three distinct clusters from the water, and whereas the firing at first had only lit up the dark figures of the French soldiery, and the black outline of the bank on which they were posted, the flashes that answered them shewed us three armed boats attempting to force the passage. In a minute the firing ceased; the measured splash of oars was heard, as boats approached us.

“Who’s there?” sung out the lieutenant.

“Torches,” was the answer.

“All’s well, Torches,” rejoined Mr Treenail; and presently the jollyboat, and launch, and cutter of the Torch, with twenty marines, and thirty-six seamen, all armed, were alongside.

“What cheer, Treenail, my boy?” quoth Mr Splinter.

“Why, not much; the French, who we were told had left the Elbe entirely, are still here, as well as at Cuxhaven, not in force certainly, just sufficiently strong to pepper us very decently in the outgoing?”

“What, are any of the people hurt?”

“No,” said the garrulous emissary. “No, not hurt, but some of us frightened leetle piece—ah, very mosh, je vous assure.”

“Speak for yourself, Master Plenippo,” said Treenail. “But, Splinter, my man, now since the enemy have occupied the dike in front, how the deuce shall we get back into the river, tell me that?”

“Why,” said the senior lieutenant, “we must go as we came.”

And here the groans from two poor fellows who had been hit were heard from the bottom of the launch. The cutter was by this time close to us, on the larboard side, commanded by Mr Julius Caesar Tip, the senior midshipman, vulgarly called in the ship Bathos, from his rather unromantic name. Here also a low moaning evinced the precision of the Frenchmen’s fire.

“Lord, Mr Treenail, a sharp brush that was.”

“Hush!” quoth Treenail. At this moment three rockets hissed up into the dark sky, and for an instant the hull and rigging of the sloop of war at anchor in the river glanced in the blue-white glare, and vanished again, like a spectre, leaving us in more thick darkness than before.

“Gemini! what is that now?” quoth Tip again, as we distinctly heard the commixed rumbling and rattling sound of artillery scampering along the dike.

“The ship has sent up these rockets to warn us of our danger,” said Mr Treenail. “What is to be done? Ah, Splinter, we are in a scrape—there they have brought up field-pieces, don’t you hear?”

Splinter had heard it as well as his junior officer. “True enough, Treenail; so the sooner we make a dash through the opening the better.”


By some impulse peculiar to British sailors, the men were just about cheering, when their commanding officer’s voice controlled them. “Hark, my brave fellows, silence, as you value your lives.”

So away we pulled, the tide being now nearly on the turn, and presently we were so near the opening that we could see the signal lights in the rigging of the sloop of war. All was quiet on the dike.

“Thank God, they have retreated after all,” said Mr Treenail.

“Whoo—o, whoo—o,” shouted a gruff voice from the shore.

“There they are still,” said Splinter. “Marines, stand by, don’t throw away a shot; men, pull like fury. So—give way, my lads, a minute of that strain will shoot us alongside of the old brig—that’s it—hurrah!”

“Hurrah!” shouted the men in answer, but his and their exclamations were cut short by a volley of musketry. The fierce mustaches, pale faces, glazed shakoes, blue uniforms, and red epaulets, of the French infantry, glanced for a moment, and then all was dark again.

“Fire!” The marines in the three boats returned the salute, and by the flashes we saw three pieces of field. Artillery in the very act of being unlimbered. We could distinctly hear the clash of the mounted artillerymen’s sabres against their horses’ flanks as they rode to the rear, their burnished accoutrements glancing at every sparkle of the musketry.

We pulled like fiends, and being the fastest boat, soon headed the launch and cutter, who were returning the enemy’s fire brilliantly, when crack—a six-pound shot drove our boat into staves, and all hands were the next moment squattering in the water. I sank a good bit, I suppose, for when I rose to the surface, half drowned and giddy and confused, and striking out at random, the first thing I recollected was a hard hand being wrung into my neckerchief, while a gruff voice shouted in my ear.

“Rendez vous, mon cher”

Resistance was useless. I was forcibly dragged up the bank, where both musketry and cannon were still playing on the boats, which had, however, by this time got a good offing. I soon knew they were safe by the Torch opening a fire of round and grape on the head of the dike, a contain proof that the boats had been accounted for. The French party now ceased firing, and retreated by the edge of the inundation, keeping the dike between them and the brig, all except the artillery, who had to scamper off, running the gauntlet on the crest of the embankment until they got beyond the range of the carronades. I was conveyed between two grenadiers along the water’s edge so long as the ship was firing; but when that ceased, I was clapped on one of the limbers of the field-guns, and strapped down to it between two of the artillerymen.

We rattled along, until we came up to the French bivouac, where, round a large fire, kindled in what seemed to have been a farmyard, were assembled about fifty or sixty French soldiers. Their arms were piled under the low projecting roof of an outhouse, while the fire flickered upon their dark figures, and glanced on their bright accoutrements, and lit up the wall of the house that composed one side of the square. I was immediately marched between a file of men into a small room, where the commanding officer of the detachment was seated at a table, a blazing wood fire roaring in the He was a genteel, slender, dark man, with very large black mustaches, and fine sparkling black eyes, and had apparently just dismounted, for the mud was fresh on his boots and trowsers. The latter were blue, with a broad gold lace down the seam, and fastened by a strap under his boot, from which projected a long fixed spur, which to me was remarkable as an unusual dress for a Dire, the British army being, at the time I write of, still in the age of breeches and gaiters, or tall boots, long cues and pipeclay—that is, those troops which I had seen at home, although I believe the great Duke had already relaxed a number of these absurdities in Spain.

His single-breasted coat was buttoned up to his throat, and without an inch of lace except on his crimson collar, which fitted close round his neck, and was richly embroidered with gold acorns and oak leaves, as were the crimson cuffs to his sleeves. He wore two immense and very handsome gold epaulets.

“My good boy,” said he, after the officer who had captured me had told his story—“so your Government thinks the Emperor is retreating from the Elbe?”

I was a tolerable French scholar as times went, and answered him as well as I could.

“I have said nothing about that, sir; but, from your question, I presume you command the rear-guard, Colonel?”

“How strong is your squadron on the river?” said he, parrying the question.

“There is only one sloop of war, sir”—and I spoke the truth.

He looked at me, and smiled incredulously; and then continued “I don’t command the rear-guard, sir—but I waste time—are the boats ready?”

He was answered in the affirmative.

“Then set fire to the houses, and let off the rockets; they will see them at Cuxhaven—men,” fall in—march—and off we all trundled towards the river again.

When we arrived there, we found ten Blankanese boats, two of them very large, and fitted with sliding platforms. The four fieldpieces were run on board, two into each; one hundred and fifty men embarked in them and the other craft, which I found partly loaded with sacks of corn. I was in one of the smallest boats with the colonel. When we were all ready to shove off, “Lafont,” he said, “are the men ready with their couteaux?”

“They are, sir,” replied the sergeant.

“Then cut the horses’ throats—but no firing.” A few bubbling groans, and some heavy falls, and a struggling splash or two in the water, showed that the poor artillery horses had been destroyed.

The wind was fair up the river, and away we bowled before it. It was clear to me that the colonel commanding the post had overrated our strength, and, under the belief that we had cut him off from Cuxhaven, he had determined on falling back on Hamburgh.

When the morning broke, we were close to the beautiful bank below Altona. The trees were beginning to assume the russet hue of autumn, and the sun shone gaily on the pretty villas and bloomin Gartens on the hill side, while here and there a Chinese pagoda, or other fanciful pleasure-house, with its gilded trellised work, and little bells depending from the eaves of its many roofs, glancing like small golden balls, rose from out the fast thinning recesses of the woods.

But there was no life in the scene—‘twas “Greece, but living Greece no more,”—not a fishing-boat was near, scarcely a solitary figure crawled along the beach.

“What is that?” after we had passed Blankanese, said the colonel quickly. “Who are those?” as a group of three of four men presented themselves at a sharp turning of the road, that wound along the foot of the hill close to the shore.

“The uniform of the Prussians,” said one.

“Of the Russians,” said another.

“Poo,” said a third, “it is a picket of the Prince’s;” and so it was, but the very fact of his having advanced his outposts so far, showed how he trembled for his position.

After answering their hail, we pushed on, and as the clocks were striking twelve, we were abreast of the strong beams, that were clamped together with iron, and constituted the boom or chief water defence of Hamburgh. We passed through, and found an entire regiment under arms, close by the Custom-house. Somehow or other, I had drank deep of that John Bull prejudice, which delights to disparage the physical conformation of our Gallic neighbours, and hugs itself with the absurd notion, “that on one pair of English legs doth march three Frenchmen.” But when I saw the weather-beaten soldierlike veterans, who formed this compact battalion, part of the elite of the first corps, more commanding in its aspect from severe service having worn all the gilding and lace away—“there was not a piece of feather in the host” I felt the reality before me fast overcoming my preconceived opinion. I had seldom or ever seen so fine a body of men, tall, square, and muscular, the spread of their shoulders set off from their large red worsted epaulets, and the solidity of the mass increased by their wide trowsers, which in my mind contrasted advantageously with the long gaiters and tight integuments of our own brave fellows.

We approached a group of three mounted officers, and in a few words the officer, whose prisoner I was, explained the affair to the chef de baton, whereupon I was immediately placed under the care of’ a sergeant and six rank and file, and marched along the chief canal for a mile, where I could not help remarking the numberless large rafts—you could not call them boats—of unpainted pine timber, which had arrived from the upper Elbe, loaded with grain: with gardens, absolute gardens, and cowhouses, and piggeries on board; while their crews of Fierlanders, men, women, and children, cut a most extraordinary appearance,—the men in their jackets, with buttons like pot-lids, and trowsers fit to carry a month’s provender and a couple of children in; and the women with bearings about the quarters, as if they had cut holes in large cheeses, three feet in diameter at least, and stuck themselves through them—such sterns—and as to their costumes, all very fine in a Flemish painting, but the devils appeared to be awfully nasty in real life.

But we carried on until we came to a large open space fronting a beautiful piece of water, which I was told was the Alster. As I walked through the narrow streets, I was struck with the peculiarity of the gables of the tall houses being all turned towards the thoroughfare, and with the stupendous size of the churches. We halted for a moment, in the porch of one of the latter, and my notions of decency were not a little outraged, by seeing it filled with a squadron of dragoons, the men being in the very act of cleaning their horses.

At length we came to the open space on the Alster, a large parade, faced by a street of splendid houses on the left hand, with a row of trees between them, and the water on the right.

There were two regiments of foot bivouacking here, with their arms piled under the trees, while, the men were variously employed, some on duty before the houses, others cleaning their accoutrements, and others again playing at all kinds of games. Presently we came to a crowd of soldiers clustered round a particular spot, some laughing, others cracking coarse jests, but none at all in the least serious. We could not get near enough to see distinctly what was going on; but we afterwards saw, when the crowd had dispersed, three men in the dress of respectable burghers, hanging from a low gibbet,—so low in fact, that although their heads were not six inches from the beam, their feet were scarcely three from the ground. I was here placed in a guard-house, and kept there until the evening, when I was again marched off under my former escort, and we soon arrived at the door of a large mansion, fronting this parade, where two sentries were walking backwards and forwards before the door, while five dragoon horses, linked together, stood in the middle of the street, with one soldier attending them, but there was no other particular bustle, to mark the headquarters of the General commanding. We advanced to the entrance—the sentries carrying arms—and were immediately ushered into a large saloon, the massive stair winding up along the walls, with the usual heavy wooden balustrade. We ascended to the first floor, where we were encountered by three aides-de-camp, in full dress, leaning with their backs against the hardwood railing, laughing and joking with each other, while two wall-lamps right opposite cast a bright flashing light on their splendid uniforms. They were all decorated with one order or another.

We approached.

“Whence, and who have we here?” said one of them, a handsome young man, apparently not above twenty-two, as I judged, with small tiny black, jet-black, mustaches, and a noble countenance; fine dark eyes, and curls dark and clustering.

The officer of my escort answered, “A young Englishman, enseigne de vaisseau.”

I was no such thing, as a poor middy has no commission, but only his rating, which even his captain, without a court-martial, can take away at any time, and turn him before the mast.

At this moment, I heard the clang of a sabre, and the jingle of spurs on the stairs, and the group was joined by my captor, Colonel——.

“Ah, Colonel!” exclaimed the aides, in a volley, “where the devil have you come from? We thought you were in Bruxelles at the nearest.”

The colonel put his hand on his lips and smiled, and then slapped the young officer who spoke first with his glove. “Never mind, boys, I have come to help you here—you will need help before long;—but how is—?” Here he made a comical contortion of his face, and drew his ungloved hand across his throat. The young officers laughed, and pointed to the door.

He moved towards it, preceded by the youngest of them, who led the way into a very lofty and handsome room, elegantly furnished, with some fine pictures on the walls, a handsome sideboard of plate, a rich Turkey carpet an unusual thing in Germany—on the floor, and a richly gilt pillar, at the end of the room farthest from us, the base of which contained a stove, which, through the joints of the door of it, appeared to be burning cheerily.

There were some very handsome sofas and ottomans scattered through the room, and a grand piano in one corner, the furniture being covered with yellow, or amber-coloured velvet, with broad heavy draperies of gold fringe, like the bullion of an epaulet. There was a small round table near the stove, on which stood a silver candlestick, with four branches filled with wax tapers; and bottles of wine, and glasses. At this table sat an officer, apparently about forty five years of age. There was nothing very peculiar in his appearance; he Was a middle-sized man, well made apparently. He sat on one chair, with his legs supported on another.

His white-topped boots had been taken off, and replaced by a pair of slipshod slippers; his splashed white kerseymere pantaloons, seamed with gold, resting on the unfrayed velvet cushion; his blue coat, covered with rich embroidery at the bosom and collar, was open, and the lapels thrown back, displaying a crimson-velvet facing, also richly embroidered, and an embroidered scarlet waistcoat; a large solitary star glittered on his breast, and the grand cross of the Legion of Honour sparkled at his buttonhole; his black neckerchief had been taken off; and his cocked hat lay beside him on a sofa, massively laced, the edges richly ornamented with ostrich down; his head was covered with a red velvet cap, with a thick gold cord twisted two or three turns round it, and ending in two large tassels of heavy bullion; he wore very large epaulets, and his sword had been inadvertently, as I conjectured, placed on the table, so that the steel hilt rested on the ornamental part of the metal stove.

His face was good, his hair dark, forehead without a wrinkle, high and massive, eyes bright and sparkling, nose neither fine nor dumpy—a fair enough proboscis as noses go. There was an expression about the upper lip and mouth that I did not like—a constant nervous sort of lifting of the lip as it were; and as the mustache appeared to have been recently shaven off, there was a white blueness on the upper lip, that contrasted unpleasantly with the dark tinge which he had gallantly wrought for on the glowing sands of Egypt, and the bronzing of his general features from fierce suns and parching winds. His bare neck and hands were delicately fair, the former firm and muscular, the latter slender and tapering, like a woman’s. He was reading a gazette, or some printed paper, when we entered; and although there was a tolerable clatter of muskets, sabres, and spurs, he never once lifted his eye in the direction where we stood. Opposite this personage, on a low chair, with his legs crossed, and eyes fixed on the ashes that were dropping from the stove, with his brown cloak hanging from his shoulders, sat a short stout personage, a man about thirty years of age, with fair flaxen hair, a florid complexion, a very fair skin, and massive German features. The expression of his face, so far as such a countenance could be said to have any characteristic expression, was that of fixed sorrow.

But before I could make any other observation, the aide-de-camp approached with a good spice of fear and trembling, as I could see.

“Colonel——to wait on your Highness.”

“Ah!”—said the officer to whom he spoke,—“ah, colonel, what do you here? Has the Emperor advanced again?”

“No,” said the officer, “he has not advanced; but the rear-guard were cut off by the Prussians, and the light, with the grenadiers, are now in Cuxhaven.”

“Well,” replied the general, “but how come you here?”

“Why, Marshal, we were detached to seize a depot of provisions in a neighbouring village, and had made preparations to carry them off, when we were attacked through a gap in the dike, by some armed boats from an English squadron, and hearing a distant firing at the very moment, which I concluded to be the Prussian advance, I conceived all chance of rejoining the main army at an end, and therefore I shoved off in the grain-boats, and here I am.”

“Glad to see you, however,” said the general, “but sorry for the cause why you have returned.—Who have we got here—what boy is that?”

“Why,” responded the colonel, “that lad is one of the British officers of the force that attacked us.”

“Ha,” said the general again, “how did you capture him?”

“The boat (one of four) in which he was, was blown to pieces by a six-pound shot. He was the only one of the enemy who swam ashore. The rest, I am inclined to think, were picked up by the other boats.”

“So,” grumbled the general, “British ships in the Elbe!”

The colonel continued. “I hope, Marshal, you will allow him his parole? he is, as you see, quite a child.”

“Parole!” replied the Marshall,—“parole! such a mere lad cannot know the value of his promise.”

A sudden fit of rashness came over me.

“He is a mere boy,” reiterated the Marshall. “No, no—send him to prison;” and he resumed the study of the printed paper he had been reading.

I struck in, impelled by despair, for, young as I was, I knew the character of the man before whom I stood, and I remembered that even a tiger might be checked by a bold front—“I am an Englishman, sir, and incapable of breaking my plighted word.”

He laid down the paper he was reading, and slowly lifted his eyes, and fastened them on me,—“Ha,” said he, “ha—so young—so reckless!”

“Never mind him, Marshal,” said the colonel. “If you will grant him his parole, I.”—“Take it, colonel—take it—take his parole, not to go beyond the ditch.”

“But I decline to give any such promise,” said I, with a hardihood which at the time surprised me, and has always done so.

“Why, my good youth,” said the Marshal in great surprise, “why will you not take advantage of the offer—a kinder one, let me tell you, than I am in the habit of making to an enemy?”

“Simply, sir, because I will endeavour to escape on the very first opportunity.”

“Ha!” said the Marshal once more, “this to my face? Lafontaine,”—; to the aide-de-camp,—“a file of soldiers.” The handsome young officer hesitated hung in the wind, as we say, for a moment—moved, as I imagined, by my extreme youth.

This irritated the Marshal rose, and stamped on the floor. The colonel essayed to interfere. “Sentry—sentry—a file of grenadiers—take him forth,” and—here he energetically clutched the steel hilt of his sword, and instantly dashed it from him—“Sacre!—the devil—what is that?” and straightway he began to pirouette on one leg round the room, shaking his right hand, and blowing his fingers.

The officers in waiting could not stand it any longer, and burst into a fit of laughter, in which their commanding officer, after an unavailing attempt to look serious—I should rather write fierce joined, and there he was, the bloody Davoust—Duke of Auerstad Prince of Eckmuhl—the Hamburgh Robespierre—the terrible Davoust—dancing all around the room, in a regular guffaw, like to split his sides. The heated stove had made his sword, which rested on it, nearly red-hot.

All this while the quiet, plain-looking little man sat still. He now rose; but I noticed that he had been fixing his eyes intently on me. I thought I could perceive a tear glistening in them as he spoke.

“Marshal, will you intrust that boy to me?”

“Poo,” said the Prince, still laughing, “take him—do what you will with him;”—then, as if suddenly recollecting himself, “But, Mr——, you must be answerable for him—he must be at hand if I want him.”

The gentleman who had so unexpectedly patronized me rose, and said, “Marshal, I promise.”

“Very well,” said Davoust. “Lafontaine, desire supper to be sent up.”

It was brought in, and my new ally and I were shown out.

As we went down stairs, we looked into a room on the ground floor, at the door of which were four soldiers with fixed bayonets. We there saw, for it was well lit up, about twenty or five-and-twenty respectable-looking men, very English in appearance, all to their long cloaks, an unusual sort of garment to my eye at that time. The night was very wet, and the aforesaid garments were hung on pegs in the wall all around the room, which being strongly heated by a stove, the moisture rose up in a thick mist and made the faces of the burghers indistinct.

They were all busily engaged talking to each other, some to his neighbour, the others across the table, but all with an expression of the most intense anxiety.

“Who are these?” said I to my guide.

“Ask no questions here” said he, and we passed on.

I afterwards learned that they were the hostages seized on for the contribution of fifty millions of francs, which had been imposed on the doomed city, and that this very night they had been tom from their families, and cooped up in the way I had seen them, where, they were advertised, they must remain until the money should be forthcoming.

As we walked along the streets, and crossed the numerous bridges over the canals and branches of the river, we found all the houses lit up, by order, as I learned, of the French marshal. The rain descended in torrents, sparkling past the lights, while the city was a desert, with one dreadful exception; for we were waylaid at almost every turn by groups of starving lunatics, their half-naked figures and pale visages glimmering in the glancing lights, under the dripping rain; and, had it not been for the numerous sentries scattered along the thoroughfares, I believe we should have been tom to pieces by bands of moping idiots, now rendered ferocious from their sufferings, in consequence of the madhouses having been cleared of their miserable, helpless inmates, in order to be converted into barracks for the troops. At all of these bridges sentries were posted, past which my conductor and myself were franked by the sergeant who accompanied us giving the countersign. At length, civilly touching his cap, although he did not refuse the piece of money tendered by my friend, he left us, wishing us good-night, and saying the coast was clear.

We proceeded, without farther challenge, until we came to a very magnificent house, with some fine trees before it. We approached the door, and rung the doorbell. It was immediately opened, and we entered a large desolate, looking vestibule, about thirty feet square, filled in the centre with a number of bales of goods, and a variety of merchandise, while a heavy wooden stair, with clumsy oak balustrades, wound round the sides of it. We ascended, and, turning to the right, entered a large well furnished room, with a table laid out for supper, with lights, and a comfortable stove at one end. Three young officers of cuirassiers, in their superb uniforms, whose breast and back pieces were glittering on a neighbouring sofa, and a colonel of artillery, were standing round the stove. The colonel, the moment we entered, addressed my conductor:

“Ah,——, we are devilish hungry—Ich bin dem Verhungern nahe and were just on the point of ordering in the provender had you not appeared.”

“A little more than that,” thought I; for the food was already smoking on the table.

Mine host acknowledged the speech with a slight smile.

“But who have we here?” said one of the young dragoons. He waited a moment “Etes—vous Francais?” I gave him no answer. He then addressed me in German—“Sprechen sie geldufig Deutsch?”

“Why,” chimed in my conductor, “he does speak a little French indifferently enough; but still....”

Here I was introduced to the young officers, and we all sat down at table; the colonel, civility itself, pressing my host to drink his own wine, and eat his own food and even rating the servants for not being sufficiently alert in their attendance on their own master.

“Well, my dear——, how have you sped with the Prince?”

“Why, colonel,” said my protector, in his calm way, “as well as I expected. I was of some service to him when he was here before, at the time he was taken so very ill, and he has not forgotten it; so I am not included amongst the unfortunate detainees for the payment of the fine. But that is not all; for I am allowed to go tomorrow to my father’s, and here is my passport.”

“Wonders will never cease,” said the colonel; “but who is that boy?”

“He is one of the crew of the English boats which tried to cut off Colonel——the other evening, near Cuxhaven. His life was saved by a very laughable circumstance certainly; merely, by the marshal’s sword, from resting on the stove, having become almost red-hot.” And here he detailed the whole transaction as it took place, which set the party a-laughing most heartily.

I will always bear witness to the extreme amenity with which I was now treated by the French officers. The evening passed over quickly. About eleven we retired to rest, my friend furnishing me with clothes, and warning me, that next morning he would call me at daylight, to proceed to his father’s country-seat, where he intimated that I must remain in the meantime.

Next morning I was roused accordingly, and a long, low, open carriage rattled up to the door, just before day—dawn. Presently the reveille was beaten, and answered by the different posts in the city, and on the ramparts.

We drove on, merely showing our passport to the sentries at the different bridges, until we reached the gate, where we had to pun up until the officer on duty appeared, and had scrupulously compared our personal appearance with the written description. All was found correct, and we drove on.

It surprised me very much, after having repeatedly heard of the great strength of Hamburgh, to look out on the large mound of green turf that constituted its chief defence.

It is all true that there was a deep ditch and glacis beyond; but there was no covered way, and both the scarp and counterscarp were simple earthen embankments; so that, had the ditch been filled up with fascines, there was no wall to face the attacking force after crossing it,—nothing but a green mound, precipitous enough, certainly, and crowned with a low parapet of masonry, and bristling with batteries about half way down, so that the muzzles of the guns were flush with the neighbouring country beyond the ditch. Still there was wanting, to my imagination, the strength of the high perpendicular wall, with its gaping embrasures, and frowning cannon. All this time it never occurred to me, that to breach such a defence as that we looked upon was impossible. You might have plumped your shot into it until you had converted it into an iron mine, but no chasm could have been forced in it by all the artillery in Europe; so battering in a breach was entirely out of the question, and this, in truth, constituted the great strength of the place.

We arrived, after an hour’s drive, at the villa belonging to my protector’s family, and walked into a large room, with a comfortable stove, and extensive preparations made for a comfortable breakfast.

Presently three young ladies appeared. They were his sisters,—blue-eyed, fair-haired, white-skinned, round-sterned, plump little partridges.

“Haben sie gefruhstucht?” said the eldest.

“Pas encore,” said he in French, with a smile. “But, sisters, I have brought a stranger here, a young English officer, who was recently captured in the river.”

“An English officer!” exclaimed the three ladies, looking at me, a poor, little, dirty midshipman, in my soiled linen, unbrushed shoes, dirty trowsers and jacket, with my little square of white cloth on the collar; and I began to find the eloquent blood mangling in my cheeks, and tingling in my ears; but their kindly feelings got the better of a gentle propensity to laugh, and the youngest said—“Sie sind gerade zu rechter zeit gekommen:” when, finding that her German was Hebrew to me, she tried the other tack “Vous arrivez a propos, le dejeuner est pret.”

However I soon found, that the moment they were assured that I was in reality an Englishman, they all spoke English, and exceedingly well too. Our meal was finished, and I was standing at the window looking out on a small lawn, where evergreens of the most beautiful kinds were checkered with little round clumps of most luxuriant hollyhocks, and the fruit trees in the neighborhood were absolutely bending to the earth under their loads of apples and pears. Presently my friend came up to me; my curiosity could no longer be restrained.

“Pray, my good sir, what peculiar cause, may I ask, have you for showing me, an entire stranger to you, all this unexpected kindness? I am fully aware that I have no claim on you.”

“My good boy, you say true; but I have spent the greatest part of my life in London, although a Hamburgher born, and I consider you, therefore, in the light of a countryman. Besides, I will not conceal that your gallant bearing before Davoust riveted my attention, and engaged my good wishes.”

“But how come you to have so much influence with the general, I mean?”

“For several reasons,” he replied. “For those, amongst others, you heard the colonel—who has taken the small liberty of turning me out of my own house in Hamburgh—mention last night at supper. But a man like Davoust cannot be judged of by common rules. He has, in short, taken a fancy to me, for which you may thank your stars although your life has been actually saved by the Prince having burned his fingers,—But here comes my father.”

A venerable old man entered the room, leaning on his stick. I was introduced in due form.

“He had breakfasted in his own room,” he said, “having been ailing; but he could not rest quietly, after he had heard there was an Englishman in the house, until he had himself welcomed him.”

I shall never forget the kindness I experienced from these worthy people. For three days I was fed and clothed by them as if I had been a member of the family.

Like a boy as I was, I had risen on the fourth morning at grey dawn, to be aiding in dragging the fish-pond, so that it might be cleaned out.

This was an annual amusement, in which the young men and women in the family, under happier circumstances, had been in the invariable custom of joining; and, changed as these were, they still preserved the fashion. The seine was cast in at one end, loaded at the bottom with heavy sinks, and buoyant at the top with cork floats. We hauled it along the whole length of the pond, thereby driving the fish into an enclosure, about twenty feet square, with a sluice towards the pond, and another fronting the dull ditch that flowed past beyond it. Whenever we had hunted the whole of the finny tribes—(barring those slippery youths the eels, who, with all their cleverness, were left to dry in the mud)—into the toils, we filled all the tubs, and pots, and pans, and vessels of all kinds and descriptions, with the fat, honest looking Dutchmen, the carp and tench, who really submitted to their captivity with all the resignation of most ancient and quiet fish, scarcely indicating any sense of its irksomeness, except by a lumbering sluggish flap of their broad heavy tails.

A transaction of this kind could not take place amongst a group of young folk without shouts of laughter, and it was not until we had caught the whole of the fish in the pond, and placed them in safety, that I had leisure to look about me. The city lay about four miles distant from us. The whole country about Hamburgh is level, except the right bank below it of the noble river on which it stands, the Elbe. The house where I was domiciled stood on nearly the highest point of this bank, which gradually sloped down into a swampy hollow, nearly level with the river. It then rose again gently until the swell was crowned with the beautiful town of Altona, and immediately beyond appeared the ramparts and tall spires of the noble city itself.

The morning had been thick and foggy, but as the sun rose, the white mist that had floated over the whole country, gradually concentrated and settled down into the hollow between us and Hamburgh, covering it with an impervious veil, which even extended into the city itself, filling the lower part of it with a dense white bank of fog, which rose so high that the spires alone, with one or two of the most lofty buildings, appeared a bove the rolling sea of white fleece-like vapour, as if it had been a model of the stronghold, in place of the reality, packed in white wool, so distinct did it appear, diminished as it was in the distance. On the tallest spire of the place, which was now sparkling in the early sunbeams, the French flag, the pestilent tricolor, that waved sluggishly in the faint morning breeze.

It attracted my attention, and I pointed it out to my patron. Presently it was hauled down, and a series of signals was made at the yard-arm of a spar, that had been slung across it. Who can they be telegraphing to? thought I, while I could notice my host assume a most anxious and startled look, while he peered down into the hollow. But he could see nothing, as the fog bank still filled the whole of the space between the city and the acclivity where we stood.

“What is that?” said I; for I heard, or thought I heard, a low rumbling rushing noise in the ravine. Mr —— heard it as well as I apparently, for he put his finger to his lips—as much as to say, “Hold your tongue, my good boy nous verrons.”

It increased—the clattering of horses hoofs, and the clang of scabbards were heard, and, in a twinkling, the hussar caps of a squadron of light dragoons emerged from out the fog bank, as, charging up the road, they passed the small gate of green basket-work at a hand gallop. I ought to have mentioned before, that my friend’s house was situated about half way up the ascent, so that the rising ground behind it in the opposite direction from the city shut out all view towards the country. After the dragoons passed, there was an interval of two minutes, when a troop of flying artillery, with three six-pound field-pieces, rattled after the leading squadron, the horses all in a lather, at full speed, with the guns bounding and jumping behind them as if they had been playthings, followed by their caissons. Presently we could see the leading squadron file to the right—clear the low hedge—and then disappear over the crest of the hill. Twenty or thirty pioneers, who had been carried forward behind as many of the cavalry, were now seen busily employed in filling up the ditch, and cutting down the short scrubby hedge; and presently, the artillery coming up also, filed off sharply to the right, and formed on the very summit of the hill, distinctly visible between us and the grey cold streaks of morning. By the time we had noticed, this, the clatter in our immediate neighbourhood was renewed, and a group of mounted officers dashed past us, up the path, like a whirlwind, followed at a distance of twenty yards, by a single cavalier, apparently a general officer. These did not stop, as they rode at speed past the spot where the artillery were in position, but, dipping over the summit, disappeared down the road, from which they did not appear to diverge, until they were lost to our view beyond the crest of the hill. The hum and buzz, and, anon, the “measured tread of marching men,” in the valley between us and Hamburgh, still continued. The leading files of a light infantry regiment, now appeared, swinging along at a round trot, with their muskets poised in their right hands—no knapsacks on their backs. They appeared to follow the route of the group of mounted officers, until we could see a puff of white smoke, then another and a third from the field-pieces, followed by thudding reports, there being no high ground nor precipitous bank nor water in the neighborhood to reflect the sound, and make it emulate Jove’s thunder. At this, they struck across the fields, and forming behind the guns, lay down flat on their faces, where they were soon hid from our view by the wreaths of white smoke, as the sluggish morning breeze rolled it down the hill-side towards us.

“What the deuce can all this mean—is it a review?” said I, in my innocence.

“A reconnoissance in force,” groaned my friend. “The Allied troops must be at hand—now, God help us!”

The women, like frightened hares, paused to look up in their brother’s face, as he kept his eye steadily turned towards the ridge of the hill, and, when he involuntarily wrung his hands, they gave a loud scream, a fearful concerto, and ran off into the house.

The breeze at this moment “aside the shroud of battle cast” and we heard a faint bugle-call, like an echo, wail in the distance, from beyond the hill. It was instantly answered by the loud, startling blare of a dozen of the light infantry bugles above us on the hill-side, and we could see them suddenly start from their lair, and form; while between us and the clearing morning sky, the cavalry, magnified into giants in the strong relief on the outline of the hill, were driven in straggling patrols, like chaff, over the summit—their sabres sparkling in the level sunbeams, and the reports of the red flashes of their pistols crackling down upon us.

“They are driven in on the infantry,” said Mr —— He was right but the light battalion immediately charged over the hill, with a loud hurrah, after admitting the beaten horse through their intervals, who, however, to give the devils their due, formed again in a instant, under the shelter of the high ground. The artillery again opened their fire the cavalry once more advanced, and presently we could see nothing but the field-pieces, with their three separate groups of soldiers standing quietly by them,—a sure proof that the enemy’s pickets were now out of cannon-shot, and had been driven back on the main body, and that the reconnoissance was still advancing.

What will not an habitual exposure to danger do, even with tender women?

“The French have advanced, so let us have our breakfast, Julia, my dear,” said Mr——as we entered the house. “The Allied Forces would have been welcome, however; and surely, if they do come, they will respect our sufferings and helplessness.”

The eldest sister, to whom he spoke, shook her head mournfully; but, nevertheless, betook herself to her task of making coffee.

“What rumbling and rattling is that?” said to an old servant who had just entered the room.

“Two wagons with wounded men, sir, have passed onwards towards the town.”

“Ah!” said mine host, in great bitterness of spirit.

But allons, we proceeded to make the best use of our time—ham, good—fish, excellent eggs, fresh—coffee, superb—when we again heard the fieldpieces above us open their fire, and in the intervals we could distinguish the distant rattle of musketry. Presently this rolling fire slackened, and, after a few scattering shots here and there, ceased altogether; but the cannon on the hill still continued to play.

We were by this time all standing in a cluster in the porch of the villa, before which stood the tubs with the finny spoil of the fish-pond, on a small paddock of velvet grass, about forty yards square, separated from the high-road by a low ornamental fence of green basket-work, as already mentioned. The firing from the great guns increased, and every now and then I thought I heard a distant sound, as if the reports of the guns above us had been reflected from some precipitous bank.

“I did not know that there was any echo here,” said the youngest girl.

“Alas, Janette!” said her brother, “I fear that is no echo;” and he put up his hand to his ear, and listened in breathless suspense. The sound was repeated.

“The Russian cannon replying to those on the hill!” said Mr with startling energy. “God help us! it can no longer be an affair of posts; the heads of the Allied columns must be in sight, for the French skirmishers are unquestionably driven in.”

A French officer at this moment rattled past us down the road at speed, and vanished in the hollow, taking the direction of the town.

His hat fell off, as his horse swerved a little at the open gate as he passed. He never stopped to pick it up. Presently a round shot, with a loud ringing and hissing sound, pitched over the hill, and knocked one of the fish-tubs close to us to pieces, scattering the poor fish all about the lawn. With the recklessness of a mere boy I dashed out, and was busy picking them up, when Mr——called to me to come back.

“Let us go in and await what may befall; I dread what the ty”—here he prudently checked himself, remembering, no doubt, “that a bird of the air might carry the matter,”—“I dread what he may do, if they are really investing the place. At any rate, here, in the very arena where the struggle will doubtless be fiercest, we cannot abide. So go, my dear sisters, and pack up whatever you may have most valuable, or most necessary. Nay, no tears; and I will attend to our poor old father, and get the carriage ready, if, God help me, I dare use it.”

“But where, in the name of all that is fearful, shall we go?” said his second sister. “Not back to Hamburgh—not to endure another season of such deep degradation—not to be exposed to the Oh brother, you saw we all submitted to our fate without a murmur, and laboured cheerfully on the fortifications, when compelled to do so, by that inhuman monster Davoust, amidst the ribaldry of a licentious soldiery, merely because poor Janette had helped to embroider a standard for the brave Hanseatic Legion you know how we bore this”—here the sweet girl held out her delicate hands, galled by actual and unwonted labour and many other indignities, until that awful night, when—“No, brother, we shall await the arrival of the Russians, even should we see our once happy home converted into a field of battle; but into the city we shall not go.”

“Be it so, then, my dearest, sister.—Wilhehn, put up the stuhl wagen.”

He had scarcely returned into the breakfast-room, when the door opened, and the very handsome young officer, the aide-de-camp of the Prince, whom I had seen the night I was carried before Davoust, entered, splashed up to the eyes, and much heated and excited. I noticed blood on the hilt of his sword. His orderly sat on his foaming steed, right opposite where I stood, wiping his bloody sabre on his horse’s mane. The women grew pale; but still they had presence of mind enough to do the honours with self-possession.

The stranger wished us a good morning; and on being asked to sit down to breakfast, he unbuckled his sword, threw it from him with a clash on the floor, and then, with all the grace in the world, addressed himself to discuss the comestibles. He tried a slight approach to jesting now and then; but seeing the heaviness of heart which prevailed amongst the women, he, with the good breeding of a man of the world, forbore to press his attentions.

Breakfast being finished, and the ladies having retired, he rose, buckled on his sword again, drew on his gloves, and taking his hat in his hand, he advanced to the window, and desired his men to “fall in.”

“Men—what men?” said poor Mr——.

“Why, the Marshal has had a company of sapeurs for these three days back in the adjoining village—they are now here.”

“Here!” exclaimed——; “what do the sappers here?” Two of the soldiers carried slow matches in their hands, while their muskets were slung at their backs. “There is no mine to be sprung here?”

The young officer heard him with great politeness, but declined giving any answer. The next moment he turned towards the ladies, and was making himself as agreeable as time and circumstances would admit; when a shot came crashing through the roof, broke down the ceiling, and knocking the flue of the stove to pieces, rebounded from the wall, and rolled harmlessly beneath the table. He was the only person who did not start, or evince any dread. He merely cast his eyes upward and smiled. He then turned to poor——, who stood quite collected, but very pale, near where the stove had stood, and held out his hand to him.

“On my honour,” said the young soldier, “it grieves me to the very heart; but I must obey my orders. It is no longer an affair of posts; the enemy is pressing on us in force. The Allied columns are in sight; their cannon shot have but now penetrated your roof; we have but driven in their pickets; very soon they will be here; and in the event of their advance, my orders are to burn down this house and the neighbouring village.”

A sudden flush rushed into Mr——‘s face.

“Indeed! does the Prince really—”

The young officer bowed, and with something more of sternness in his manner than he had yet used, he said, “Mr——, I duly appreciate your situation, and respect your feelings; but the Prince of Eckmuhl is my superior officer, and under other circumstances”—Here he slightly touched the hilt of his sword.

“For myself I don’t care,” said——, “but what is to become of my sisters?”

“They must proceed to Hamburgh.”

“Very well—let me order the stuhl wagen, and give us, at all events, half an hour to move our valuables.”

Here Mr——exchanged looks with his sisters.

“Certainly,” said the young officer; “and I will myself see you safe into the city.”

Who says that eels cannot be made used to skinning? The poor girls continued their little preparations with an alacrity and presence of mind that truly surprised me. There was neither screaming nor fainting, and by the time the carriage was at the door, they, with two female domestics, were ready to mount. I cannot better describe their vehicle, than by comparing it to a canoe mounted on four wheels, connected by a long perch, with a coachbox at the bow, and three gig bodies hung athwart ships, or slung inside of the canoe, by leather thongs. At the moment we were starting, Mr —— came close to me and whispered, “Do you think your ship will still be in the river?”

I answered that I made no doubt she was.

“But even if she be not,” said he, “the Holstein bank is open to us. Anywhere but Hamburgh now.” And the scalding tears ran down his cheeks.

At this moment there was a bustle on the hill top, and presently the artillery began once more to play, while the musketry breezed up again in the distance. A mounted bugler rode half way down the hill, and sounded the recall. The young officer hesitated. He man waved his hand, and blew the advance.

“It must be for us—answer it.” His bugle did so. “Bring the pitch, men the flax—so now—break the windows, and let the air in—set the house on fire; and, Sergeant Guido, remain to prevent it being extinguished I shall fire the village as we pass through.”

He gave the word to face about; and, desiring the men to follow at the same swinging run with which the whole of the infantry had originally advanced, he spurred his horse against the hill, and soon disappeared.

My host’s resolution seemed now taken. Turning to the sergeant, “My good fellow, the reconnoissance will soon be returning; I shall precede it into the town.”

The man, a fine vieux moustache, hesitated.

My friend saw it, and hit him in a Frenchman’s most assailable quarter.

“The ladies, my good man—the ladies!—You would not have them drive in pell-mell with the troops, exposed most likely to the fire of the Prussian advanced-guard, would you?”

The man grounded his musket, and touched his cap—“Pass on.” Away we trundled, until, coming to a cross-road, we turned down towards the river; and at the angle we could see thick wreaths of smoke curling up into the air, showing that the barbarous order had been but too effectually fulfilled.

“What is that?” said——.

A horse, with his rider entangled and dragged by the stirrup, passed us at full speed, leaving a long track of blood on the road.

“Who is that?”

The coachman drove on, and gave no answer; until, at a sharp turn, we came upon the bruised and now breathless body of the young officer, who had so recently obeyed the savage behests of his brutal commander. There was a musket-shot right in the middle of his fine forehead, like a small blue point, with one or two heavy black drops of blood oozing from it. His pale features wore a mild and placid expression, evincing that the numberless lacerations and bruises, which were evident through his tom uniform, had been inflicted on a breathless corpse.

The stuhl wagen had carried on for a mile farther or so, but the firing seemed to approximate, whereupon our host sung out, “Fahrt Zu, Schwager—Wir Kommen nicht weiter.”

The driver of the stuhl wagen skulled along until we arrived at the beautiful, at a mile off, but the beastly, when close to, village of Blankanese.

When the voiture stopped in the village, there seemed to be a nonplusation, to coin a word for the nonce, between my friend and his sisters. They said something very sharply, and with a degree of determination that startled me. He gave no answer. Presently the Amazonian attack was renewed.

“We shall go onboard,” said they. “Very well,” said he; “but have patience, have patience!”

“No, no. Wann wird man sich einschiffen mussen?”

By this time we were in the heart of the village, and surrounded with a whole lot, forty at the least, of Blankanese boatmen. We were not long in selecting one of the fleetest-looking of those very fleet boats, when we all trundled on board; and I now witnessed what struck me as being an awful sign of the times. The very coachman of the stuhl wagen, after conversing a moment with his master, returned to his team, tied the legs of the poor creatures as they stood, and then with a sharp knife cut their jugular veins through and through on the right side, having previously reined them up sharp to the left, so that, before starting, we could see three of the team, which consisted of four superb bays, level with the soil and dead; the near wheeler only holding out on his fore-legs.

We shoved off at eleven o’clock in the forenoon; and after having twice been driven into creeks on the Holstein shore by bad weather, we arrived about two next morning safely on board the Torch, which immediately got under weigh for England. After my story had been told to the Captain, I left my preserver, his father, and his sisters in his hands, and I need scarcely say that they had as hearty a welcome as the worthy old soul could give them, and dived into the midshipmen’s berth for a morsel of comfort, where, in a twinkling, I was far into the secrets of a pork pie.

CHAPTER II.—The Cruise of the Torch.

     Sleep, gentle sleep—
     Wilt thou, upon the high and giddy mast,
     Seal up the shipboy’s eyes, and rock his brains,
     In cradle of the rude imperious surge;
     And in the visitation of the winds,
     Who take the ruffian billows by the top,
     Curling their monstrous heads, and hanging them
     With deafning clamour in the slippery clouds,
     That, with the hurry, death itself awakes—
     Canst thou, O partial sleep! give thy repose
     To the wet sea-boy in an hour so rude?

     2 HENRY IV, Ill. 1. 5, 18—27.

Heligoland light-north and by west—so many leagues—wind baffling weather hazy—Lady Passengers on deck for the first time.

Arrived in the Downs—ordered by signal from the guard—ship to proceed to Portsmouth. Arrived at Spithead—ordered to fit to receive a general officer, and six pieces of field artillery, and a Spanish Ecclesiastic, the Canon of——. Plenty of great guns, at any rate—a regular park of artillery.

Received General —— and his wife, and aide-de-camp, and two poodle dogs, one white man-servant, one black ditto, and the Canon of ——, and the six nine-pound field-pieces, and sailed for the Cove of Cork.

It was blowing hard as we stood in for the Old Head of Kinsale pilot boat breasting the foaming surge like a sea gull—“Carrol Cove” in her tiny mainsail-pilot jumped into the main channel a bottle of rum swung by the lead line into the boat—all very clever.

Ran in, and anchored under Spike Island. A line-of-battle ship, three frigates, and a number of merchantmen at anchor-men of war lovely craft, bands playing—a good deal of the pomp and circumstance of war. Next forenoon, Mr Treenail, the second lieutenant, sent for me.

“Mr Cringle,” said he, “you have an uncle in Cork, I believe?”

I said I had.

“I am going there on duty to-night; I daresay, if you asked the Captain to let you accompany me, he would do so.” This was too good an offer not to be taken advantage of. I plucked up courage, made my bow, asked leave, and got it; and the evening found my friend the lieutenant, and myself, after a ride of three hours, during which I, for one, had my bottom sheathing grievously rubbed, and a considerable botheration at crossing the Ferry at Passage, safe in our inn at Cork. I soon found out that the object of my superior officer was to gain information amongst the crimp shops, where ten men, who had run from one of the West Indiamen, waiting at Cove for convoy, were stowed away, but I was not let farther into the secret; so I set out to pay my visit, and after passing a pleasant evening with my friends, Mr and Mrs Job Cringle, the lieutenant dropped in upon us about nine o’clock. He was heartily welcomed, and under the plea of our being obliged to return to the ship early next morning, we soon took leave, and returned to the inn. As I was turning into the public room, the door was open, and I could see it full of blowsy-faced monsters, glimmering and jabbering, through the mist of hot brandy grog and gin twist; with poodle Benjamins, and greatcoats, and cloaks of all sorts and sizes, steaming on their pegs, with Barcelonas and comforters, and damp travelling caps of seal-skin, and blue cloth, and tartan, arranged above the same.

Nevertheless, such a society in my juvenile estimation, during my short escapade from the middy’s berth, had its charms, and I was rolling in with a tolerable swagger, when Mr Treenail pinched my arm.

“Mr Cringle, come here, into my room.”

From the way in which he spoke, I imagined, in my innocence, that his room was at my elbow; but no such thing—we had to ascend a long, and not overclean staircase, to the fourth floor, before we were shown into a miserable little double-bedded room. So soon as we had entered, the lieutenant shut the door.

“Tom,” said he, “I have taken a fancy to you, and therefore I applied for leave to bring you with me; but I must expose you to some danger, and, I will allow, not altogether in a very creditable way either. You must enact the spy for a short space.”

I did not like the notion certainly, but I had little time for consideration.

“Here,” he continued—“here is a bundle.” He threw it on the floor. “You must rig in the clothes it, contains, and make your way into the celebrated crimp shop in the neighbourhood, and pick up all the information you can regarding the haunts of the pressable men at Cove, especially with regard to the ten seamen who have run from the West Indiaman we left below. You know the Admiral has forbidden pressing in Cork, so you must contrive to frighten the blue jackets down to Cove, by representing yourself as an apprentice of one of the merchant vessels, who had run from his indentures, and that you had narrowly escaped from a press-gang this very night here.”

I made no scruples, but forthwith arrayed myself in the slops contained in the bundle; in a pair of shag trowsers, red flannel shirt, coarse blue cloth jacket, and no waistcoat.

“Now,” said Mr Treenail, “stick a quid of tobacco in your cheek, and take the cockade out of your hat; or stop, leave it, and ship this striped woollen night-cap—so—and come along with me.”

We left the house, and walked half a mile down the Quay.

Presently we arrived before a kind of low grog-shop—a bright lamp was flaring in the breeze at the door, one of the panes of the glass of it being broken.

Before I entered, Mr Treenail took me to one side—“Tom, Tom Cringle, you must go into this crimp shop; pass yourself off for an apprentice of the Guava, bound for Trinidad, the ship that arrived just as we started, and pick up all the knowledge you can regarding the whereabouts of the men, for we are, as you know, cruelly ill manned, and must replenish as we best may.” I entered the house, after having agreed to rejoin my superior officer, so soon as I considered I had obtained my object. I rapped at the inner door, in which there was a small unglazed aperture cut, about four inches square; and I now, for the first time, perceived that a strong glare of light was cast into the lobby, where I stood, by a large argand with a brilliant reflector, that like a magazine lantern had been mortised into the bulkhead, at a height of about two feet above the door in which the spy-hole was cut. My first signal was not attended to; I rapped again, and looking round I noticed Mr Treenail flitting backwards and forwards across the doorway, in the rain with his pale face and his sharp nose, with the sparkling drop at the end on’t, glancing in the light of the lamp. I heard a step within, and a very pretty face now appeared at the wicket.

“Who are you saking here, an’ please ye?”

“No one in particular, my dear; but if you don’t let me in, I shall be lodged in jail before five minutes be over.”

“I can’t help that, young man,” said she; “but where are ye from, darling?”

“Hush!—I am run from the Guava, now lying at the Cove.”

“Oh,” said my beauty, “come in;” and she opened the door, but still kept it on the chain in such a way, that although, by bobbing, I creeped and slid in beneath it, yet a common-sized man could not possibly have squeezed himself through. The instant I entered, the door was once more banged to, and the next moment I was ushered into the kitchen, a room about fourteen feet square, with a well sanded floor, a huge dresser on one side, and over against it a respectable show of pewter dishes in racks against the wall. There was a long stripe of a deal, table in the middle of the room—but no tablecloth—at the bottom of which sat a large, bloated, brandy, or rather whisky-faced savage, dressed in a shabby great-coat of the hodden grey worn by the Irish peasantry, dirty swan down vest, and greasy corduroy breeches, worsted stockings, and well-patched shoes; he was smoking a long pipe. Around the table sat about a dozen seamen, from whose wet jackets and trowsers the heat of the blazing fire, that roared up the chimney, sent up a smoky steam that cast a halo round the lamp, that depended from the roof, and hung down within two feet of the table, stinking abominably of coarse whale oil. They were, generally speaking, hardy, weather beaten men, and the greater proportion half, or more than half drunk. When I entered, I walked up to the landlord.

“Yo ho, my young un, whence and whither bound, my hearty?”

“The first don’t signify much to you,” said I, “seeing I have wherewithal in the locker to pay my shot; and as to the second, of that hereafter; so, old boy, let’s have some grog, and then say if you can ship me with one of them cowers that are lying alongside the quay?”

“My eye, what a lot of brass that small chap has!” grumbled mine host.

“Why, my lad, we shall see to-morrow morning; but you gammons so bad about the rhino, that we must prove you a bit; so, Kate, my dear,”—to the pretty girl who had let me in—“score a pint of rum against—why, what is your name?”

“What’s that to you?” rejoined I, “let’s have the drink, and don’t doubt but the shiners shall be forthcoming.”

“Hurrah!” shouted the party, most of them now very tipsy. So the rum was produced forthwith, and as I lighted a pipe and filled a glass of swizzle, I struck in, “Messmates, I hope you have all shipped?”

“No, we haven’t,” said some of them.

“Nor shall we be in any hurry, boy,” said others.

“Do as you please, but I shall, as soon as I can, I know; and I recommend all of you making yourselves scarce to-night, and keeping a bright look-out.”

“Why, boy, why?”

“Simply because I have just escaped a press-gang, by bracing sharp up at the corner of the street, and shoving into this dark alley here.”

This called forth another volley of oaths and unsavoury exclamations, and all was bustle and confusion, and packing up of bundles, and settling of reckonings.

“Where,” said one of the seamen,—“where do you go to, my lad?”

“Why, if I can’t get shipped to-night, I shall trundles down to Cove immediately, so as to cross at Passage before daylight, and take my chance of shipping with some of the outward-bound that are to sail, if the wind holds, the day after to-morrow. There is to be no pressing when blue Peter flies at the fore—and that was hoisted this afternoon, I know, and the foretopsail will be loose to-morrow.”

“D—n my wig, but the small chap is right,” roared one.

“I’ve a bloody great mind to go down with him,” stuttered another, after several unavailing attempts to weigh from the bench, where he had brought himself to anchor.

“Hurrah!” yelled a third, as he hugged me, and nearly suffocated me with his maudling caresses, “I trundles wid you too, my darling, boy the piper!”

“Have with you, boy—have with him,” shouted half-a-dozen other voices, while each stuck his oaken twig through the handkerchief that held his bundle, and shouldered it, clapping his straw or tarpaulin hat, with a slap on the crown, on one side of his head, and staggering and swaying about under the influence of the poteen, and slapping his thigh, as he bent double, laughing like to split himself, till the water ran over his cheeks from his drunken half-shut eyes, while jets of tobacco juice were squirting in all directions.

I paid the reckoning, urging the party to proceed all the while, and indicating Pat Doolan’s at the Cove as a good rendezvous; and promising to overtake them before they reached passage, I parted company at the corner of the street, and rejoined the lieutenant.

Next morning we spent in looking about the town—Cork is a fine town, contains seventy thousand inhabitants, more or less-safe in that—and three hundred thousand pigs, driven by herdsmen, with coarse grey greatcoats. The pigs are not so handsome as those in England, where the legs are short, and tails curly; here the legs are long, the flanks sharp and thin, and tails long and straight.

All classes speak with a deuced brogue, and worship graven images; arrived at Cove to a large dinner and here follows a great deal of nonsense of the same kind.

By the time it was half-past ten o’clock, I was preparing to turn in, when the master at arms called down to me,—“Mr Cringle, you are wanted in the gunroom.”

I put on my jacket again, and immediately proceeded thither, and on my way I noticed a group of seamen, standing on the starboard gangway, dressed in pea jackets, under which, by the light of a lantern, carried by one of them, I could see they were all armed with pistol and cutlass. They appeared in great glee, and as they made way for me, I could hear one fellow whisper, “There goes the little beagle.” When I entered the gunroom, the first lieutenant, master, and purser, were sitting smoking and enjoying themselves over a glass of cold grog—the gunner taking the watch on deck the doctor was piping any thing but mellifluously on the double flageolet, while the Spanish priest, and aide-de-camp to the general, were playing at chess, and wrangling in bad French. I could hear Mr Treenail rumbling and stumbling in his stateroom as he accoutred himself in a jacket similar to those of the armed boat’s crew whom I had passed, and presently he stepped into the gunroom, armed also with cutlass and pistol.

“Mr Cringle, get ready to go in the boat with me, and bring your arms with you.”

I now knew whereabouts he was, and that my Cork friends were the quarry at which we aimed. I did as I was ordered, and we immediately pulled on shore, where, leaving two strong fellows in charge of the boat, with instructions to fire their pistols and shove off a couple of boat-lengths, should any suspicious circumstance indicating an attack take place, we separated, like a pulk of Cossacks coming to the charge, but without the hourah, with orders to meet before Pat Doolan’s door, as speedily as our legs could carry us. We had landed about a cable’s length to the right of the high precipitous bank—up which we stole in straggling parties—on which that abominable congregation of the most filthy huts ever pig grunted in is situated, called the Holy Ground. Pat Doolan’s domicile was in a little dirty lane, about the middle of the village. Presently ten strapping fellows, including the lieutenant, were before the door, each man with his stretcher in his hand. It was a very tempestuous, although moonlight night, occasionally clear, with the moonbeams at one moment sparkling brightly in the small ripples on the filthy puddles before the door, and on the gem like water-drops that hung from the eaves of the thatched roof, and lighting up the dark statue like figures of the men, and casting their long shadows strongly against the mud wall of the house; at another, a black cloud as it flew across her disk, cast every thing into deep shade, while the only noise we heard was the hoarse dashing of the distant surf, rising and falling on the fitful gusts of the breeze. We tried the door. It was fast.

“Surround the house, men,” said the lieutenant, in a whisper. He rapped loudly. “Pat Doolan, my man, open the door, will ye?” No answer. “If you don’t, we shall make free to break it open, Patrick, dear.”

All this while the light of a fire, or of candles, streamed through the joints of the door. The threat at length appeared to have the desired effect. A poor decrepid old man undid the bolt and let us in. “Ohon a reel Ohon a reel What make you all this boder for—come you to help us to wake poor ould Kate there, and bring you the whisky wid you?”

“Old man, where is Pat Doolan?” said the lieutenant.

“Gone to borrow whisky, to wake ould Kate, there—the howling will begin whenever Mother Doncannon and Mistress Conolly come over from Middleton, and I look for dem every minute.”

There was no vestige of any living thing in the miserable hovel, except the old fellow. On two low trestles, in the middle of the floor, lay a coffin with the lid on, on the top of which was stretched the dead body of an old emaciated woman in her grave-clothes, the quality of which was much finer than one could have expected to have seen in the midst of the surrounding squalidness. The face of the corpse was uncovered, the hands were crossed on the breast, and there was a plate of salt on the stomach.

An iron cresset, charged with coarse rancid oil, hung from the roof, the dull smoky red light flickering on the dead corpse, as the breeze streamed in through the door and numberless chinks in the walls, making the cold, rigid, sharp features appear to move, and glimmer, and gibber as it were, from the changing shades. Close to the head, there was a small door opening into an apartment of some kind, but the coffin was placed so near it, that one could not pass between the body and the door.

“My good man,” said Treenail, to the solitary mourner, “I must beg leave to remove the body a bit, and have the goodness to open that door.”

“Door, yere honour! It’s no door o’mine—and it’s not opening that same, that old Phil Carrol shall busy himself wid.”

“Carline,” said Mr Treenail, quick and sharp, “remove the body.” It was done.

“Cruel heavy the old dame is, sir, for all her wasted appearance,” said one of the men.

The lieutenant now ranged the press-gang against the wall fronting the door, and stepping into the middle of the room, drew his pistol and cocked it. “Messmates,” he sung out, as if addressing the skulkers in the other room, “I know you are here—the house is surrounded—and unless you open that door now, by the power, but I’ll fire slap into you.” There was a bustle, and a rumbling tumbling noise within. “My lads, we are now sure of your game,” sung out Treenail, with great animation. “Sling that clumsy bench there.” He pointed to an oaken form about eight feet long, and nearly three inches thick. To produce a two-inch rope, and junk it into three lengths, and rig the battering-ram, was the work of an instant. “One, two, three,”—and bang the door flew open, and there were our men stowed away, each sitting on the top of his bag, as snug as could be, although looking very much like condemned thieves. We bound eight of them, and thrusting a stretcher across their backs, under their arms, and lashing the fins to the same by good stout lanyards, we were proceeding to stump our prisoners off to the boat, when, with the innate devilry that I have inherited, I know not how, but the original sin of which has more than once nearly cost me my life, I said, without addressing my superior officer, or any one else, directly—“I should like now to scale ‘my pistol through that coffin. If I miss, I can’t hurt the old woman; and an eyelet hole in the coffin itself, will only be an act of civility to the worms.”

I looked towards my superior officer, who answered me with a knowing shake of the head. I advanced, while all was silent as death—the sharp click of the pistol lock now struck acutely on my own ear. I presented, when—crash the lid of the coffin, old woman and all, was dashed off in an instant, the corpse flying up in the air, and then falling heavily on the floor, rolling over and over, while a tall handsome fellow, in his stripped flannel shirt and blue trowsers, with the sweat pouring down over his face in steams, sat up in the shell.

“All right,” said Mr Treenail—“help him out of his berth.”

He was pinioned like the rest, and forthwith we walked them all off to the beach. By this time there was an unusual bustle in the Holy Ground, and we could hear many an anathema, curses, not loud but deep, ejaculated from many a half-opened door as we passed along. We reached the boat, and time it was we did so, for a number of stout fellows, who had followed us in a gradually increasing crowd, until they amounted to forty at the fewest, now nearly surrounded us, and kept closing in. As the last of us jumped into the boat, they made a rush, so that if we had not shoved off with the speed of light, I think it very likely that we should have been overpowered. However, we reached the ship in safety, and the day following we weighed, and stood out to sea with our convoy.

It was a very large fleet nearly three hundred sail of merchant vessel and a noble sight truly.

A line-of-battle ship led—and two frigates and three sloops of our class were stationed on the outskirts of the fleet, whipping them in as it were. We made Madeira in fourteen days, looked in, but did not anchor; superb island—magnificent mountains—white town,—and all very fine, but nothing particular happened for three weeks. One fine evening, (we had by this time progressed into the trades, and were within three hundred miles of Barbadoes,) the sun had set bright and clear, after a most beautiful day, and we were bowling along right before it, rolling like the very devil; but there was no moon, and although the stars sparkled brilliantly, yet it was dark, and as we were the sternmost of the men of war, we had the task of whipping in the sluggards. It was my watch on deck. A gun from the commodore, who showed a number of lights. “What is that, Mr Kennedy?” said the captain to the old gunner.—“The commodore has made the night signal for the sternmost ships to make more sail and close, sir.” We repeated the signal—and stood on hailing the dullest of the merchantmen in our neighbourhood to make more sail, and firing a musket-shot now and then over the more distant of them. By and by we saw a large West Indiaman suddenly haul her wind, and stand across our bows.

“Forward there!” sung out Mr Splinter, “stand by to fire a shot at that fellow from the boat gun if he does not bear up. What can he be after? Sergeant Armstrong,”—to a marine, who was standing close by him in the waist—“get a musket, and fire over him!”

It was done, and the ship immediately bore up on her course again; we now ranged alongside of him on his larboard quarter.

“Ho, the ship, ahoy!”—“Hillo!” was the reply.—“Make more sail, sir, and run into the body of the fleet, or I shall fire into you; why don’t you, sir, keep in the wake of the commodore?” No answer. “What meant you by hauling your wind, just now, sir?”

“Yesh, Yesh,” at length responded a voice from the merchantman.

“Something wrong here,” said Mr Splinter. “Back your maintopsail, sir, and hoist a light at the peak; I shall send a boat on board of you. Boatswain’s mate, pipe away the crew of the jolly boat.” We also hove to, and were in the act of lowering down the boat, when the officer rattled out. “Keep all fast, with the boat; I can’t comprehend that chap’s manoeuvres for the soul of me. He has not hove to.” Once more we were within pistol-shot of him. “Why don’t you heave to, sir?” All silent.

Presently we could perceive a confusion and noise of struggling on board, and angry voices, as if people were trying to force their way up the hatchways from below; and a heavy thumping on the deck, and a creaking of the blocks, and rattling of the cordage, while the mainyard was first braced one way, and then another, as if two parties were striving for the mastery. At length a voice hailed distinctly “We are captured by a”—A sudden sharp cry, and a splash overboard, told of some fearful deed.

“We are taken by a privateer or pirate,” sung out another voice. This was followed by a heavy crunching blow, as when the spike of a butcher’s axe is driven through a bullock’s forehead deep into the brain.

By this time all hands had been called, and the word had been passed to clear away two of the foremost carronades on the starboard side, and to load them with grape.

“On board there—get below, all you of the English crew, as I shall fire with grape,” sung out the captain.

The hint was not taken. The ship at length came to the wind—we rounded to, under her lee—and an armed boat, with Mr Treenail, and myself, and sixteen men, with cutlasses, were sent on board.

We jumped on deck, and at the gangway, Mr Treenail stumbled, and fell over the dead body of a man, no doubt the one who had hailed last, with his scull cloven to the eyes, and a broken cutlass blade sticking in the gash. We were immediately accosted by the mate, who was lashed down to a ringbolt close by the bits, with his hands tied at the wrists by sharp cords, so tightly that the blood was spouting from beneath his nails.

“We have been surprised by a privateer schooner, sir; the lieutenant of her, and twelve men, are now in the cabin.”

“Where are the rest of the crew?”

“All secured in the forecastle, except the second mate and boatswain, the men who hailed you just now; the last was knocked on the head, and the former was stabbed and thrown overboard.”

We immediately released the men, eighteen in number, and armed them with boarding pikes. “What vessel is that astern of us?” said Treenail to the mate. Before he could answer, a shot from the brig fired at the privateer showed she was broad awake. Next moment Captain Deadeye hailed. “Have you mastered the prize crew, Mr Treenail?”—“Aye, aye, sir.”—“Then keep your course, and keep two lights hoisted at your mizzen peak during the night, and blue Peter at the main topsail yardarm when the day breaks; I shall haul my wind after the suspicious sail in your wake.”

Another shot, and another, from the brig—the time between each flash and the report increasing with the distance. By this the lieutenant had descended to the cabin, followed by his people, while the merchant crew once more took the charge of the ship, crowding sail into the body of the fleet.

I followed him close, pistol and cutlass in hand, and I shall never forget the scene that presented itself when I entered. The cabin was that of a vessel of five hundred tons, elegantly fitted up; the panels filled with crimson cloth, edged with gold mouldings, with superb damask hangings before the stem windows and the side berths, and brilliantly lighted up by two large swinging lamps hung from the deck above, which were reflected from, and multiplied in, several plate glass mirrors in the panels. In the recess, which in cold weather had been occupied by the stove, now stood a splendid grand piano, the silk in the open work above the keys corresponding with the crimson cloth of the panels; it was open, a Leghom bonnet with a green veil, a parasol, and two long white gloves, as if recently pulled off, lay on it, with the very mould of the hands in them.

The rudder case was particularly beautiful; it was a richly carved and gilded palm tree, the stem painted white, and interlaced with golden fretwork, like the lozenges of a pine-apple, while the leaves spread up and abroad on the roof.

The table was laid for supper, with cold meat, and wine, and a profusion of silver things, all sparkling brightly; but it was in great disorder, wine spilt, and glasses broken, and dishes with meat upset, and knives, and forks, and spoons, scattered all about. She was evidently one of those London West Indiamen, on board of which I knew there was much splendour and great comfort. But, alas! the hand of lawless violence had been there. The captain lay across the table, with his head hanging over the side of it next to us, and unable to help himself, with his hands tied behind his back, and a gag in his mouth; his face purple from the blood running to his head, and the white of his eyes turned up, while his loud stentorous breathing but too clearly indicated the rupture of a vessel on the brain.

He was a stout portly man, and, although we released him on the instant, and had him bled, and threw water on his face, and did all we could for him, he never spoke afterwards, and died in half an hour.

Four gentlemanly-looking men were sitting at table, lashed to their chairs, pale and trembling, while six of the most ruffian-looking scoundrels I ever beheld, stood on the opposite side of the table in a row fronting us, with the light from the lamps shining full on them. Three of them were small, but very square mulattoes; one was a South American Indian, with the square high-boned visage, and long, lank, black glossy hair of his cast. These four had no clothing besides their trowsers, and stood with their arms folded, in all the calmness of desperate men, caught in the very fact of some horrible atrocity, which they knew shut out all hope of mercy. The two others were white Frenchmen, tall, bushy-whiskered, sallow desperadoes, but still, wonderful to relate, with, if I may so speak, the manners of gentlemen. One of them squinted, and had a hair-lip, which gave him a horrible expression. They were dressed in white trowsers and shirts, yellow silk sashes round their waists, and a sort of blue uniform jacket, blue Gascon caps, with the peaks, from each of which depended a large bullion tassel, hanging down on one side of their heads. The whole party had apparently made up their minds that resistance was vain, for their pistols and cutlasses, some of them bloody, had all been laid on the table, with the buts and handles towards us, contrasting horribly with the glittering equipage of steel, and crystal, and silver things, on the snow-white damask table-cloth. They were immediately seized and ironed, to which they submitted in silence. We next released the passengers, and were overpowered with thanks, one dancing, one crying, one laughing, and another praying. But, merciful Heaven! what an object met our eyes! Drawing aside—the curtain that concealed a sofa, fitted into a recess, there lay, more dead than alive, a tall and most beautiful girl, her head resting on her left arm, her clothes disordered and tom, blood on her bosom, and foam on her mouth, with her long dark hair loose and dishevelled, and covering the upper part of her deadly pale face, through which her wild sparkling black eyes, protruding from their sockets, glanced and glared with the fire of a maniac’s, while her blue lips kept gibbering an incoherent prayer one moment, and the next imploring mercy, as if she had still been in the hands of those who knew not the name; and anon, a low hysterical laugh made our very blood freeze in our bosoms, which soon ended in a long dismal yell, as she rolled off the couch upon the hard deck, and lay in a dead faint.

Alas the day!—a Maniac she was from that hour. She was the only daughter of the murdered master of the ship, and never awoke, in her unclouded reason, to the fearful consciousness of her own dishonour and her parent’s death.

The Torch captured the schooner, and we left the privateer’s men at Barbadoes to meet their reward, and several of the merchant sailors were turned over to the guardship, to prove the facts in the first instance, and to serve his Majesty as impressed men in the second, but scrimp measure of justice to the poor ship’s crew.

Anchored at Carlisle Bay, Barbadoes.—Town seemed built of cards—black faces—showy dresses of the negroes—dined at Mr C——‘s, capital dinner little breeze mill at the end of the room, that pumped a solution of saltpetre and water into a trough of tin, perforated with small holes, below which, and exposed to the breeze, were ranged the wine and liqueurs, all in cotton bags; the water then flowed into a well, where the pump was stepped, and thus was again pumped up and kept circulating.

Landed the artillery, the soldiers, officers, and the Spanish Canon discharged the whole battery.

Next morning, weighed at day—dawn, with the trade for Jamaica, and soon lost sight of the bright blue waters of Carlisle Bay, and the smiling fields and tall cocoa-nut trees of the beautiful island. In a week after we arrived off the east end of Jamaica, and that same evening, in obedience to the orders of the admiral on the Windward Island station, we hove to in Bull Bay, in order to land despatches, and secure our tithe of the crews of the merchant-vessels bound for Kingston, and the ports to leeward, as they passed us. We had fallen in with a pilot canoe off Morant Bay with four negroes on board, who requested us to hoist in their boat, and take them all on board, as the pilot schooner, to which they belonged, had that morning bore up for Kingston, and left instructions to them to follow her in the first vessel appearing afterwards. We did so, and now, as it was getting dark, the captain came up to Mr Treenail.

“Why, Mr Treenail, I think we had better heave-to for the night, and in this case I shall want you to go in the cutter to Port Royal to deliver the despatches on board the flag-ship.”

“I don’t think the admiral will be at Port Royal, sir,” responded the lieutenant; “and, if I might suggest, these black chaps have offered to take me ashore here on the Palisadoes, a narrow spit of land, not above one hundred yards across, that divides the harbour from the ocean, and to haul the canoe across, and take me to the agent’s house in Kingston, who will doubtless frank me up to the pen, where the admiral resides, and I shall thus deliver the letters, and be back again by day—dawn.”

“Not a bad plan,” said old Deadeye; “put it in execution, and I will go below and get the despatches immediately.”

The canoe was once more hoisted out; the three black fellows, the pilot of the ship continuing on board, jumped into her alongside.

“Had you not better take a couple of hands with you, Mr Treenail?” said the skipper.

“Why, no, sir, I don’t think I shall want them; but if you will spare me Mr Cringle I will be obliged, in case I want any help.”

We shoved off, and as the glowing sun dipped under Portland Point, as the tongue of land that runs out about four miles to the southward, on the western side of Port Royal harbour, is called, we arrived within a hundred yards of the Palisadoes. The surf, at the particular spot we steered for, did not break on the shore in a rolling curling wave, as it usually does, but smoothed away under the lee of a small sandy promontory that ran out into the sea, about half a cable’s length to windward, and then slid up the smooth white sand, without breaking, in a deep clear green swell, for the space of twenty yards, gradually shoaling, the colour becoming lighter and lighter, until it frothed away in a shallow white fringe, that buzzed as it receded back into the deep green sea, until it was again propelled forward by the succeeding billow.

“I say, friend Bungo, how shall we manage? You don’t mean to swamp us in a shove through that surf, do you?” said Mr Treenail.

“No fear, massa, if you and toder leetle man-of-war buccra, only keep dem seat when we rise on de crest of de swell dere.”

We sat quiet enough. Treenail was coolness itself, and I aped him as well as I could. The loud murmur, increasing to a roar, of the sea, was trying enough as we approached, buoyed on the last long undulation.

“Now sit still, massa, bote.”

We sank down into the trough, and presently were hove forwards with a smooth sliding motion up on the beach—until grit, grit, we stranded on the cream-coloured sand, high and dry.

“Now jomp, massa, jomp.”

We leapt with all our strength, and thereby toppled down on our noses; the sea receded, and before the next billow approached, we had run the canoe twenty yards beyond high water mark.

It was the work of a very few minutes to haul the canoe across the sandbank, and to launch it once more in the placid waters of the harbour of Kingston. We pulled across towards the town, until we landed at the bottom of Hanover Street; the lights from the cabin windows of the merchantmen glimmering as e passed, and the town only discernible from a solitary sparkle here and there. But the contrast when we landed was very striking. We had come through the darkness of the night in comparative quietness; and in two hours from the time we had left the old Torch, we were transferred from her orderly deck to the bustle of a crowded town.

One of our crew undertook to be the guide to the agent’s house. We arrived before it. It was a large mansion, and we could see lights glimmering in the ground floor; but it was gaily lit up aloft. The house itself stood back about twenty feet from the street, from which it was separated by an iron railing.

We knocked at the outer-gate, but no one answered. At length our black guide found out a bell-pull, and presently the clang of a bell resounded throughout the mansion. Still no one answered. I pushed against, the door, and found it was open, and Mr Treenail and myself immediately ascended a flight of six marble steps, and stood in the lower piazza, with the hall, or lower vestibule, before us. We entered. A very well-dressed brown woman, who was sitting at her work at a small table, along with two young girls of the same complexion, instantly rose to receive us.

“Beg pardon,” said Mr Treenail, “pray, is this Mr——‘s house?” “Yes, sir, it is.”

“Will you have the goodness to say if he be at home?”

“Oh yes, sir, he is dere upon dinner wid company,” said the lady.

“Well,” continued the lieutenant, “say to him, that an officer of his Majesty’s sloop Torch is below, with despatches for the admiral.”

“Surely, sir,—surely,” the dark lady continued;—“Follow me, sir; and dat small gentleman,—[Thomas Cringle, Esquire, no less!]—him will better follow me too.”

We left the room, and, turning to the right, landed in the lower piazza of the house, fronting the north. A large clumsy stair occupied the easternmost end, with a massive mahogany balustrade, but the whole affair below was very ill lighted. The brown lady preceded us; and planting herself at the bottom of the staircase, began to shout to some one above.

“Toby!—Toby!—buccra gentlemen arrive, Toby.” But no Toby responded to the call.

“My dear madam,” said Treenail, “I have little time for ceremony. Pray usher us up into Mr——‘s presence.”

“Den follow me, gentlemen, please.”

Forthwith we all ascended the dark staircase until we reached the first landing-place, when we heard a noise as of two negroes wrangling on the steps above us.

“You rascal!” sang out one, “take dat; larn you for teal my wittal!”—then a sharp crack, as if he had smote the culprit across the pate; whereupon, like a shot, a black fellow, in a handsome livery, trundled down, pursued by another servant with a large silver ladle in his hand, with which he was belabouring the fugitive over his flinthard skull, right against our hostess, with the drumstick of a turkey in his hand, or rather in his mouth.

“Top, you tief—top, you tief!—for me piece dat,” shouted the pursuer.

“You dam rascal!” quoth the dame. But she had no time to utter another word, before the fugitive pitched, with all his weight, right against her; and at the very moment another servant came trundling down with a large tray-full of all kinds of meats—and I especially remember that two large crystal stands of jellies composed part of his load—so there we were regularly capsized, and caught all of a heap in the dark landing-place, half way up the stair; and down the other flight tumbled our guide, with Mr Treenail and myself, and the two blackies, on the top of her, Tolling in our descent over, or rather into, another large mahogany tray which had just been carried out, with a tureen of turtle soup in it, and a dish of roast-beef, and platefulls of land-crabs, and the Lord knows what all besides.

The crash reached the ear of the landlord, who was seated at the head of his table in the upper piazza, a long gallery about fifty feet long by fourteen wide, and he immediately rose and ordered his butler to take a light. When he came down to ascertain the cause of the uproar, I shall never forget the scene.

There was, first of all, mine host, a remarkably neat personage, standing on the polished mahogany stair, three steps above his servant, who was a very well-dressed respectable elderly negro, with a candle in each hand; and beneath him, on the landing-place, lay two trays of viands, broken tureens of soup, fragments of dishes, and fractured glasses, and a chaos of eatables and drinkables, and table gear scattered all about, amidst which lay scrambling my lieutenant and myself, the brown housekeeper, and the two negro servants, all more or less covered with gravy and wine dregs. However, after a good laugh, we gathered ourselves up, and at length we were ushered on the scene. Mine host, after stifling his laughter the best way he could, again sat down at the head of his table, sparkling with crystal and wax lights, while a superb lamp hung overhead. The company was composed chiefly of naval and military men, but there was also a sprinkling of civilians, or Muftees, to use a West India expression. Most of them rose as we entered, and after they had taken a glass of wine, and had their laugh at our mishap, our landlord retired to one side with Mr Treenail, while I, poor little middy as I was, remained standing at the end of the room, close to the head of the stairs. The gentleman who sat at the foot of the table had his back towards me, I and was not at first aware of my presence. But the guest at his right hand, a happy-looking, red-faced, well-dressed man, soon drew his attention towards me. The party to whom I was thus indebted seemed a very jovial-looking personage, and appeared to be well known to all hands, and indeed the life of the party, for, like Falstaff, he was not only witty in himself, but the cause of wit in others.

The gentleman to whom he had pointed me out immediately rose, made his bow, ordered a chair, and made room for me beside himself, where the moment it was known that we were direct from home, such a volley of questions was fired off at me, that I did not know which to answer first. At length, after Treenail had taken a glass or two of wine, the agent started him off to the admiral’s pen in his own gig, and I was desired to stay where I was until he returned.

The whole party seemed very happy, my boon ally was fun itself, and I was much entertained with the mess he made when any of the foreigners at table addressed him in French or Spanish. I was particularly struck with a small, thin, dark Spaniard, who told very feelingly how the night before, on returning home from a party to his own lodgings, on passing through the piazza, he stumbled against something heavy that lay in his grass-hammock, which usually hung there. He called for a light, when, to his horror, he found the body of his old and faithful valet lying in it, dead and cold, with a knife sticking under his fifth rib—no doubt intended for his master. The speaker was Bolivar. About midnight, Mr Treenail returned, we shook hands with Mr——, and once more shoved off; and, guided by the lights shown on board the Torch, we were safe home again by three in the morning, when we immediately made sail, and nothing particular happened until we arrived within a day’s sail of New Providence. It seemed, that about a week before, a large American brig, bound from Havanna to Boston, had been captured in this very channel by one of our men-of-war schooners, and carried into Nassau; out of which port, for their own security, the authorities had fitted a small schooner, carrying six guns and twenty-four men. She was commanded by a very gallant fellow—there is no disputing that—and he must needs emulate the conduct of the officer who had made the capture—for in a fine clear night, when all the officers were below rummaging in their kits for the killing things they should array themselves in on the morrow, so as to smite the Fair of New Providence to the heart at a blow—Whiss—a shot flew over our mast-head.

“A small schooner lying-to right ahead, sir,” sung out the boatswain from the forecastle.

Before we could beat to quarters, another sung between our masts. We kept steadily on our course, and as we approached our pigmy antagonist, he bore up. Presently we were alongside of him.

“Heave-to,” hailed the strange sail; “heave-to or I’ll sink you.”

The devil you will, you midge, thought I.

The captain took the trumpet—“Schooner, ahoy”—no answer “D—n your blood, sir, if you don’t let every thing go by the run this instant, I’ll fire a broadside. Strike, sir, to his Britannic Majesty’s sloop Torch.”

The poor fellow commanding the schooner had by this time found out his mistake and immediately came on board, where, instead of being lauded for his gallantry, I am sorry to say he was roundly rated for his want of discernment in mistaking his Majesty’s cruiser for a Yankee merchantman.

Next forenoon we arrived at Nassau.

In a week after we again sailed for Bermuda, having taken on board ten American skippers, and several other Yankees, as prisoners of war.

For the first three days after we cleared the Passages. We had fine weather. Wind at east south-east; but after that it came on to blow from the north-west, and so continued without intermission during the whole of the passage to Bermuda. On the fourth morning after we left Nassau, we descried a sail in the south-east quarter, and immediately made sail in chase. We overhauled her about noon; she hove-to, after being fired at repeatedly; and, on boarding her, we found she was a Swede from Charleston, bound to Havre-de-Grace. All the letters we could find on board were very unceremoniously broken open, and nothing having transpired that could identify the cargo as enemy’s property, we were bundling over the side, when a nautical looking subject, who had attracted my attention from the first, put in his oar.

“Lieutenant,” said he, “will you allow me to put this barrel of New York apples into the boat as a present to Captain Deadeye, from Captain——of the United States navy?”

Mr Treenail bowed, and said he would; and we shoved off and got on board again, and now there was the devil to pay, from the perplexity old Deadeye was thrown into, as to whether, here in the heat of the American war, he was bound to take this American captain prisoner or not. I was no party to the councils of my superiors, of course, but the foreign ship was finally allowed to continue her course.

The next day I had the forenoon watch; the weather had lulled unexpectedly, nor was there much sea, and the deck was all alive, to take advantage of the fine blink, when the man at the mast-head sung out—“Breakers right ahead, sir.”

“Breakers!” said Mr Splinter, in great astonishment. “Breakers! why the man must be mad—I say, Jenkins!”

“Breakers close under the bows,” sung out the boatswain from forward.

“The devil,” quoth Splinter, and he ran along the gangway, and ascended the forecastle, while I kept close to his heels. We looked out a-head, and there we certainly did see a splashing, and boiling, and white foaming of the ocean, that unquestionably looked very like breakers. Gradually, this splashing and foaming appearance took a circular whisking shape, as if the clear green sea, for a space of a hundred yards in diameter, had been stirred about by a gigantic invisible spurtle, until every thing hissed again; and the curious part of it was, that the agitation of the water seemed to keep ahead of us, as if the breeze which impelled us had also floated it onwards. At length the whirling circle of white foam ascended higher and higher, and then gradually contracted itself into a spinning black tube, which wavered about, for all the world, like a gigantic loch-leech, held by the tail between the finger and thumb, while it was poking its vast snout about in the clouds in search of a spot to fasten on.

“Is the boat gun on the forecastle loaded?” said Captain Deadeye.

“It is, sir.”

“Then luff a bit—that will do—fire.”

The gun was discharged, and down rushed the black wavering pillar in a watery avalanche, and in a minute after the dark, heaving billows rolled over the spot whereout it arose, as if no such thing had ever been.

This said troubling of the waters was neither more nor less than a waterspout, which again is neither more nor less than a whirlwind at sea, which gradually whisks the water round and round, and up and up, as you see straws so raised, until it reaches a certain height, when it invariably breaks. Before this I had thought that a waterspout was created by some next to supernatural exertion of the power of the Deity, in order to suck up water into the clouds, that they, like the wine-skins in Spain, may be filled with rain.

The morning after the weather was clear and beautiful, although the wind blew half-a-gale. Nothing particular happened until about seven o’clock in the evening. I had been invited to dine with the gunroom officers this day, and every thing was going on smooth and comfortable, when Mr Splinter spoke. “I say, master, don’t you smell gunpowder?”

“Yes I do,” said the little master, “or something deuced like it.”

To explain the particular comfort of our position, it may be right to mention that the magazine of a brig sloop is exactly under the gunroom. Three of the American skippers had been quartered on the gunroom mess, and they were all at table. Snuff, snuff, smelled one, and another sniffled,

“Gunpowder, I guess, and in a state of ignition.”

“Will you not send for the gunner, sir?” said the third.

Splinter did not like it, I saw, and this quailed me.

The captain’s bell rang. “What smell of brimstone is that, steward?” “I really can’t tell,” said the man, trembling from head to foot; “Mr Splinter has sent for the gunner, sir.”

“The devil!” said Deadeye, as he hurried on deck. We all followed. A search was made.

“Some matches have caught in the magazine,” said one.

“We shall be up and away like sky-rockets,” said another.

Several of the American masters ran out on the jib-boom, coveting the temporary security of being so far removed from the seat of the expected explosion, and all was alarm and confusion, until it was ascertained that two of the boys, little skylarking vagabonds, had stolen some pistol cartridges, and had been making lightning, as it is called, by holding a lighted candle between the fingers, and putting some loose powder into the palm of the hand, and then chucking it up into the flame. They got a sound flogging, on a very unpoetical part of their corpuses, and once more the ship subsided into her usual orderly discipline. The northwester still continued, with a clear blue sky, without a cloud overhead by day, and a bright cold moon by night. It blew so hard for the three succeeding days, that we could not carry more than close reefed topsails to it, and a reefed foresail. Indeed, towards six bells in the forenoon watch, it came thundering down with such violence, and the sea increased so much, that we had to hand the fore-topsail.

This was by no means an easy job. “Ease her a bit,” said the first lieutenant, “there—shake the wind out of her sails for a moment, until the men get the canvass”—whirl, a poor fellow pitched off the lee fore yardarm into the sea. “Up with the helm—heave him the bight of a rope.” We kept away, but all was confusion, until an American midshipman, one of the prisoners on board, hove the bight of a rope at him. The man got it under his arms, and after hauling him along for a hundred yards at the least—and one may judge of the velocity with which he was dragged through the water, by the fact that it took the united strain of ten powerful men to get him in—he was brought safely on board, pale and blue, when we found that the running of the rope had crushed in his broad chest below his arms, as if it had been a girl’s waist, cutting into the very muscles of it and of his back half an inch deep. He had to be bled before he could breathe, and it was an hour before the circulation could be restored, by the joint exertions of the surgeon and gunroom steward, chafing him with spirits and camphor, after he had been stripped and stowed away between the blankets in his hammock.

The same afternoon we fell in with a small prize to the squadron in the Chesapeake, a dismasted schooner, manned by a prize crew of a midshipman and six men. She had a signal of distress, an American ensign, with the union down, hoisted on the jury-mast, across which there was rigged a solitary lug-sail. It was blowing so hard that we had some difficulty in boarding her, when we found she was a Baltimore pilot-boat—built schooner, of about 70 tons burden, laden with flour, and bound for Bermuda. But three days before, in a sudden squall, they had carried away both masts short by the board, and the only spar which they had been able to rig, was a spare topmast which they had jammed into one of the pumps fortunately she was as tight as a bottle—and stayed it the best way they could. The captain offered to take the little fellow who had charge of her, and his crew and cargo, on board, and then scuttle her; but no—all he wanted was a cask of water and some biscuit; and having had a glass of grog, he trundled over the side again, and returned to his desolate command. However, he afterwards brought his prize safe into Bermuda.

The weather still continued very rough, but we saw nothing until the second evening after this. The forenoon had been even more boisterous than any of the preceding, and we were all fagged enough with “make sail,” and “shorten sail,” and “all hands,” the whole day through; and as the night fell, I found myself, for the fourth time, in the maintop. The men had just lain in from the main topsail yard, when we heard the watch called on deck, “Starboard watch, ahoy,”—which was a cheery sound to us of the larboard, who were thus released from duty on deck and allowed to go below.

The men were scrambling down the weather shrouds, and I was preparing to follow them, when I jammed my left foot in the grating of the top, and capsized on my nose. I had been up nearly the whole of the previous night, and on deck the whole of the day, and actively employed too, as during the greatest part of it it blew a gale. I stooped down in some pain, to see what had bolted me to the grating, but I had no sooner extricated my foot, than, over-worked and over fatigued as I was, I fell over in the soundest sleep that ever I have enjoyed before or since, the back of my neck resting on a coil of rope, so that my head hung down within it.

The rain all this time was beating on me, and I was drenched to the skin. I must have slept for four hours or so, when I was awakened by a rough thump on the side from the stumbling foot of the captain of the top, the word having been passed to shake a reef out of the topsails, the wind having rather suddenly gone down. It was done; and now broad awake, I determined not to be caught napping again, so I descended, and swung myself in on deck out of the main rigging, just as Mr Treenail was mustering the crew at eight bells. When I landed on the quarterdeck, there he stood abaft the binnacle, with the light shining on his face, his glazed hat glancing, and the rain-drop sparkling at the brim of it. He had noticed me the moment I descended.

“Heyday, Master Cringle, you are surely out of your watch. Why, what are you doing here, eh?”

I stepped up to him, and told him the truth, that, being over fatigued, I had fallen asleep in the top.

“Well, well, boy,” said he, “never mind, go below, and turn in; if you don’t take your rest, you never will be a sailor.”

“But what do you see aloft?” glancing his eye upwards, and all the crew on deck as I passed them looked anxiously up also amongst the rigging, as if wondering what I saw there, for I had been so chilled in my noose, that my neck, from resting in the cold on the coil of rope, had become stiffened and rigid to an intolerable degree; and although, when I first came on deck, I had by a strong exertion brought my caput to its proper bearings, yet the moment I was dismissed by my superior officer, I for my own comfort was glad to conform to the contraction of the muscle, whereby I once more staved along the deck, glowering up into the heavens, as if I had seen some wonderful sight there.

“What do you see aloft?” repeated Mr Treenail, while the crew, greatly puzzled, continued to follow my eye, as they thought, and to stare up into the rigging.

“Why, sir, I have thereby got a stiff neck—that’s all, sir.”

“Go and turn in at once, my good boy—make haste, now—tell our steward to give you a glass of hot grog, and mind your hand that you don’t get sick.”

I did as I was desired, swallowed the grog, and turned in; but I could not have been in bed above an hour, when the drum beat to quarters, and I had once more to bundle out on the cold wet deck, where I found all excitement. At the time I speak of, we had been beaten by the Americans in several actions of single ships, and our discipline had improved in proportion as we came to learn by sad experience that the enemy was not to be undervalued. I found that there was a ship in sight, right a-head of us apparently carrying all sail. A group of officers were on the forecastle with night-glasses, the whole crew being stationed in dark clusters round the guns at quarters. Several of the American skippers were forward amongst us, and they were of opinion that the chase was a man-of-war, although our own people seemed to doubt this. One of the skippers insisted that she was the Hornet, from the unusual shortness of her lower masts, and the immense squareness of her yards. But the puzzle was, if it were the Hornet, why she did not shorten sail. Still this might be accounted for, by her either wishing to make out what we were before she engaged us, or she might be clearing for action. At this moment a whole cloud of studdingsails were blown from the yards as if the booms had been carrots; and to prove that the chase was keeping a bright look-out, she immediately kept away, and finally bore up dead before the wind, under the impression, no doubt, that she would draw a-head of us, from her gear being entire, before we could rig out our light sails again.

And so she did for a time, but at length we got within gun-shot. The American masters were now ordered below, the hatches were clapped on, and the word passed to see all clear. Our shot was by this time flying over and over her, and it was evident she was not a man-of-war. We peppered away—she could not even be a privateer; we were close under her lee-quarter, and yet she had never fired a shot; and her large swaggering Yankee ensign was now run up to the peak, only to be hauled down the next moment. Hurrah! a large cotton ship, from Charlestown to Bourdeaux, prize to H.M.S. Torch.

She was taken possession of, and proved to be the Natches, of four hundred tons burden, fully loaded with cotton.

By the time we got the crew on board, and the second lieutenant, with a prize crew of fifteen men, had taken charge, the weather began to lour again, nevertheless we took the prize in tow, and continued on our voyage for the next three days, without any thing particular happening. It was the middle watch, and I was sound asleep, when I was startled by a violent jerking of my hammock, and a cry “that the brig was amongst the breakers.” I ran on deck in my shirt, where I found all hands, and a scene of confusion such as I never had witnessed before. The gale had increased, yet the prize had not been cast off, and the consequence was, that by some mismanagement or carelessness, the swag of the large ship had suddenly hove the brig in the wind, and taken the sails a-back. We accordingly fetched stern way, and ran foul of the prize, and there we were, in a heavy sea, with our stern grinding against the cotton ship’s high quarter.

The main boom, by the first rasp that took place after I came on deck, was broken short off, and nearly twelve feet of it hove right in over the taffril; the vessels then closed, and the next rub ground off the ship’s mizzen channel as clean as if it had been sawed away. Officers shouting, men swearing, rigging cracking, the vessels crashing and thumping together, I thought we were gone, when the first lieutenant seized his trumpet “Silence, men,—hold your tongues, you cowards, and mind the word of command!”

The effect was magical.—“Brace round the foreyard; round with it—set the jib—that’s it—fore-topmast stay-sail—haul—never mind if the gale takes it out of the bolt rope”—a thundering flap, and away it flew in truth down to leeward, like a puff of white smoke.—“Never mind, men, the jib stands. Belay all that—down with the helm, now don’t you see she has sternway yet? Zounds! we shall be smashed to atoms if you don’t mind your hands, you lubbers—main-topsail sheets let fly—there she pays off, and has headway once more, that’s it—right your helm now—never mind his spanker-boom, the forestay will stand it—there—up with the helm, sir we have cleared him hurrah!”—And a near thing it was too but we soon had every thing snug; and although the gale continued without any intermission for ten days, at length we ran in and anchored with our prize in Five Fathom Hole, off the entrance to St George’s Harbour.

It was lucky for us that we got to anchor at the time we did, for that same afternoon, one of the most tremendous gales of wind from the westward came on that I ever saw. Fortunately it was steady and did not veer about, and having good ground-tackle down, we rode it out well enough. The effect was very uncommon; the wind was howling over our mast-heads, and amongst the cedar bushes on the cliffs above, while on deck it was nearly calm, and there was very little swell, being a weather shore; but half a mile out at sea all was white foam, and the tumbling waves seemed to meet from north and south, leaving a space of smooth water under the lee of the island, shaped like the tail of a comet, tapering away, and gradually roughening and becoming more stormy, until the roaring billows once more owed allegiance to the genius of the storm.

There we rode, with three anchors a-head, in safety through the night; and next day, availing of a temporary lull, we ran up, and anchored off the Tanks. Three days after this, the American frigate President was brought in by the Endymion, and the rest of the squadron.

I went on board, in common with every officer in the fleet, and certainly I never saw a more superb vessel; her scantling was that of a seventy-four, and she appeared to have been fitted with great cares. I got a week’s leave at this time, and, as I had letters to several families, I contrived to spend my time pleasantly enough.

Bermuda, as all the world knows, is a cluster of islands in the middle of the Atlantic. There are Lord knows how many of them, but the beauty of the little straits and creeks which divide them, no man can describe who has not seen them. The town of Saint George’s, for instance, looks as if the houses were cut out of chalk; and one evening the family where I was on a visit proceeded to the main island, Hamilton, to attend a ball there. We had to cross three ferries, although the distance was not above nine miles, if so far. The Mudian women are unquestionably beautiful—so thought Thomas Moore, a tolerable judge, before me. By the by, touching this Mudian ball, it was a very gay affair—the women pleasant and beautiful; but all the men, when they speak, or are spoken to, shut one eye and spit;—a lucid and succinct description of a community.

The second day of my sojourn was fine—the first fine day since our arrival and with several young ladies of the family, I was prowling through the cedar wood above St George’s, when a dark good-looking man passed us; he was dressed in tight worsted net pantaloons and Hessian boots, and wore a blue frock-coat and two large epaulets, with rich French bullion, and a round hat. On passing he touched his hat with much grace, and in the evening I met him in society. It was Commodore Decatur. He was very much a Frenchman in manner, or, I should rather say, in look, for although very well bred, he, for one ingredient, by no means possessed a Frenchman’s volubility; still, he was an exceedingly agreeable and very handsome man.

The following day we spent in a pleasure cruise amongst the three hundred and sixty-five islands, many of them not above an acre in extent—fancy an island of an acre in extent!—with a solitary house, a small garden, a red-skinned family, a piggery, and all around clear deep pellucid water. None of the islands, or islets, rise to any great height, but they all shoot precipitously out of the water, as if the whole group, had originally been one huge platform of rock, with numberless grooves subsequently chiselled out in it by art.

We had to wind our way amongst these manifold small channels for two hours before we reached the gentleman’s house where we had been invited to dine; at length, on turning a corner, with both latteen sails drawing beautifully, we ran bump on a shoal; there was no danger, and knowing that the Mudians were capital sailors, I sat still. Not so Captain K——, a round plump little homo,—“Shove her off, my boys, shove her off.” She would not move, and thereupon he in a fever of gallantry jumped overboard up to the waist in full fig; and one of the men following his example, we were soon afloat. The ladies applauded, and the Captain sat in his wet breaks for the rest of the voyage, in all the consciousness of being considered a hero. Ducks and onions are the grand staple of Bermuda, but there was a fearful dearth of both at the time I speak of; a knot of young West India merchants, who, with heavy purses and large credits on England, had at this time domiciled themselves in St George’s, to batten on the spoils of poor Jonathan, having monopolized all the good things of the place. I happened to be acquainted with one of them, and thereby had less reason to complain, but many a poor fellow, sent ashore on duty, had to put up with but Lenten fair at the taverns. At length, having refitted, we sailed, in company with the Rayo frigate, with a convoy of three transports, freighted with a regiment for New Orleans, and several merchantmen, bound for the West Indies.

“The still vexed Bermoothes”—I arrived at them in a gale of wind, and I sailed from them in a gale of wind. What the climate may be in the summer I don’t know; but during the time I was there, it was one storm after another.

We sailed in the evening with the moon at full, and the wind at west-north-west. So soon as we got from under the lee of the land, the breeze struck us, and it came on to blow like thunder, so that we were all soon reduced to our storm staysails; and there we were, transports, merchantmen, and men-of-war, rising on the mountainous billows one moment, and the next losing sight of every thing but the water and sky in the deep trough of the sea, while the seething foam was blown over us in showers from the curling manes of the roaring waves. But overhead, all this while, it was as clear as a lovely winter moon could make it, and the stars shone brightly in the deep blue sky; there was not even a thin fleecy shred of cloud racking across the moon’s disk. Oh, the glories of a northwester!

But the devil seize such glory! Glory, indeed! with a fleet of transports, and a regiment of soldiers on board! Glory! why, I daresay five hundred rank and file, at the fewest, were all cascading at one and the same moment, a thousand poor fellows turned outside in, like so many pairs of old stockings. Any glory in that? But to proceed.

Next morning the gale still continued, and when the day broke, there was the frigate standing across our bows, rolling and pitching, as she tore her way through the boiling sea, under a close-reefed main-topsail and reefed foresail, with topgallant-yards and royal masts, and every thing that could be struck with safety in war time, down on deck. There she lay with her clear black bends, and bright white streaks and long tier of cannon on the maindeck, and the carronades on the quarterdeck and forecastle grinning through the ports in the black bulwarks, while the white hammocks, carefully covered by the hammock-cloths, crowned the defences of the gallant frigate fore and aft, as she delved through the green surge,—one minute rolling and rising on the curling white crest of a mountainous sea, amidst a hissing snowstorm of spray, with her bright copper glancing from stem to stem, and her scanty white canvass swelling aloft, and twenty feet of her keel forward occasionally hove into the air clean out of the water, as if she had been a sea-bird rushing to take wing,—and the next, sinking entirely out of sight, hull, masts, and rigging, behind an intervening sea, that rose in hoarse thunder between us, threatening to overwhelm both us and her. As for the transports, the largest of the three had lost her fore topmast, and had bore up under her foresail; another was also scudding under a close reefed fore-topsail; but the third or head-quarter ship was still lying to windward, under her storm stay-sails. None of the merchant vessels were to be seen, having been compelled to bear up in the night, and to run before it under bare poles.

At length, as the sun rose, we got before the wind, and it soon moderated so far, that we could carry reefed topsails and foresail; and away we all bowled, with a clear, deep, cold, blue sky, and a bright sun overhead, and a stormy leaden-coloured ocean, with whitish green-crested billows, below. The sea continued to go down, and the wind to slacken, until the afternoon, when the Commodore made the signal for Torch to send, a boat’s crew, the instant it could be done with safety, on board the dismasted ship, to assist in repairing damages, and in getting up a jury-fore-topmast.

The damaged ship was at this time on our weather-quarter; we accordingly handed the fore-topsail, and presently she was alongside. We hailed her, that we intended to send a boat on board, and desired her to heave-to, as we did, and presently she rounded to under our lee. One of the quarter-boats was manned, with three of the carpenter’s crew, and six good men over and above her complement; but it was no easy matter to get on board of her, let me tell you, after she had been lowered, carefully watching the rolls, with four hands in. The moment she touched the water, the tackles were cleverly unhooked, and the rest of us tumbled on board, shin leather growing scarce, when we shoved off. With great difficulty, and not without wet jackets, we, the supernumeraries, got on board, and the boat returned to the Torch. The evening when we landed in the lobsterbox, as Jack loves to designate a transport, was too far advanced for us to do anything towards refitting that night; and the confusion, and uproar, and numberless abominations of the crowded craft, were irksome to a greater degree than I expected even, after having been accustomed to the strict and orderly discipline of a man-of-war. The following forenoon the Torch was ordered by signal to chase in the south-east quarter, and hauling out from the fleet, she was soon out of sight.

“There goes my house and home,” said I, and a feeling of desolateness came over me, that I would have been ashamed at the time to have acknowledged. We stood on, and worked hard all day in repairing the damage sustained during the gale.

At length dinner was announced, and I was invited, as the officer in charge of the seamen, to go down. The party in the cabin consisted of an old gizzened Major with a brown wig, and a voice melodious as the sharpening of a saw—I fancied sometimes that the vibration created by it set the very glasses in the steward’s pantry a-ringing three captains and six subalterns, every man of whom, as the devil would have it, played on the flute, and drew bad sketches, and kept journals. Most of them were very white and blue in the gills when we sat down, and others of a dingy sort of whitey-brown, while they ogled the viands in a most suspicious manner. Evidently most of them had but small confidence in their moniplies; and one or two, as the ship gave a heavier roll than usual, looked wistfully towards the door, and half rose from their chairs, as if in act to bolt. However, hot brandy grog being the order of the day, we all, landsmen and sailors, got on astonishingly, and numberless long yarns were spun of what “what’s-his-name of this, and so-and-so of t’other, did or did not do.”

About half-past five in the evening, the captain of the transport, or rather the agent, an old lieutenant in the navy, and our host, rang his bell for the steward.

“Whereabouts are we in the fleet, steward?” said the ancient.

“The stern most ship of all, sir,” said the man.

“Where is the Commodore?” “About three miles a-head, sir.”

“And the Torch, has she rejoined us?”

“No, sir; she has been out of sight these two hours; when last seen she was in chase of something in the south-east quarter, and carrying all the sail she could stagger under.”

“Very well, very well.”

A song from Master Waistbelt, one of the young officers. Before he had concluded, the mate came down. By this time it was near sun-down.

“Shall we shake a reef out of the main and mizzen-topsails, sir, and set the mainsail and spanker? The wind has lulled, sir, and there is a strange sail in the northwest that seems to be dodging us—but she may be one of the merchantmen after all, sir.”

“Never mind, Mr Leechline,” said our gallant captain. “Mr Bandalier—a song if you please.”

Now the young soldiers on board happened to be men of the world, and Bandalier, who did not sing, turned off the request with a good-humoured laugh, alleging his inability with much suavity; but the old rough Turk of a tar-bucket chose to fire at this, and sang out—“Oh, if you don’t choose to sing when you are asked, and to sport your damned fine airs....”

“Mr Crowfoot.”

“Captain,” said the agent, piqued at having his title by courtesy withheld.

“By no mean,” said Major Sawrasp, who had spoken—“I believe I am speaking to Lieutenant Crowfoot, agent for transport No.—, wherein it so happens I am commanding officer—so”—

Old Crowfoot saw he was in the wrong box, and therefore hove about, and backed out in good time—making the amende as smoothly as his gruff nature admitted, and trying to look pleased.

Presently the same bothersome mate came down again—“The strange sail is creeping up on our quarter, sir.”

“Ay?” said Crowfoot, “how does she lay?”

“She is hauled by the wind on the starboard tack, sir,” continued the mate.

We now went on deck, and found that our suspicious friend had shortened sail, as if he had made us out, and wag afraid to approach, or was lying by until nightfall.

Sawrasp had before this, with the tact and ease of a soldier and a gentleman, soldered his feud with Crowfoot, and, with the rest of the lobsters, was full of fight. The sun at length set, and the night closed in when the old major again addressed Crowfoot.

“My dear fellow, can’t you wait a bit, and let us have a rattle at that chap?” And old Crowfoot, who never bore a grudge long, seemed much inclined to fall in with the soldier’s views; and, in fine, although the weather was now moderate, he did not make sail. Presently the Commodore fired a gun, and showed lights. It was the signal to close. “Oh, time enough,” said old Crowfoot—“what is the old man afraid of?” Another gun and a fresh constellation on board the frigate. It was “an enemy in the northwest quarter.”

“Hah, hah,” sung out the agent, “is it so? Major, what say you to a brush let her close, eh?—should like to pepper her—wouldn’t you—three hundred men, eh?”

By this time we were all on deck—the schooner came bowling along under a reefed mainsail and jib, now rising, and presently disappearing behind the stormy heavings of the roaring sea, the rising moon shining brightly on her canvass pinions, as if she had been an albatross skimming along the surface of the foaming water, while her broad white streak glanced like a silver ribbon along her clear black side. She was a very large craft of her class, long and low in the water, and evidently very fast; and it was now clear, from our having been unable as yet to sway up our fore-topmast, that she took us for a disabled merchantman, which might be cut off from the convoy.

As she approached, we could perceive by the bright moonlight, that she had six guns of a side, and two long ones on pivots, the one forward on the forecastle, and the other choke up to the mainmast.

Her deck was crowded with dark figures, pike and cutlass in hand; we were by this time so near that we could see pistols in their belts, and a trumpet in the hand of a man who stood in the fore rigging, with his feet on the hammock netting, and his back against the shrouds. We had cleared away our six eighteen-pound carronades, which composed our starboard broadside, and loaded them, each with a round shot, and a bag of two hundred musket-balls, while three hundred soldiers in their foraging jackets, and with their loaded muskets in their hands, were lying on the deck, concealed by the quarters, while the blue jackets were sprawling in groups round the carronades.

I was lying down beside the gallant old Major, who had a bugler close to him, while Crowfoot was standing on the gun nearest us; but getting tired of this recumbent position, I crept aft, until I could see through a spare port.

“Why don’t the rascals fire?” quoth Sawrasp.

“Oh, that would alarm the Commodore. They intend to walk quietly on board of us; but they will find themselves mistaken a little,” whispered Crowfoot.

“Mind, men, no firing till the bugle sounds,” said the Major.

The word was passed along.

The schooner was by this time ploughing through it within half pistolshot, with the white water dashing away from her bows, and buzzing past her sides her crew as thick as peas on her deck. Once or twice she hauled her wind a little, and then again kept away from us, as if irresolute what to do. At length, without hailing, and all silent as the grave, she put her helm a-starboard, and ranged alongside.

“Now, my boys, give it him,” shouted Crowfoot—“Fire!”

“Ready, men,” shouted the Major—“Present—fire!”

The bugles sounded, the cannon roared, the musketry rattled, and the men cheered, and all was hurra, and fire, and fury. The breeze was strong enough to carry all the smoke forward, and I saw the deck of the schooner, where the moment before all was still and motionless, and filled with dark figures, till there scarcely appeared standing room, at once converted into a shambles. The blasting fiery tempest had laid low nearly the whole mass, like a maize plant before a hurricane; and such a cry arose, as if “Men fought on earth, and fiends in upper air.”

Scarcely a man was on his legs, the whole crew seemed to have been levelled with the deck, many dead, no doubt, and most wounded, while we could see numbers endeavouring to creep towards the hatches, while the black blood, in horrible streams, gushed and gurgled through her scuppers down her sides, and across the bright white streak that glanced in the moonlight.

Some one on board of the privateer now hailed, “We have surrendered; cease firing, sir.” But devil a bit—we continued blazing away—a lantern was run up to his main gaff, and then lowered again.

“We have struck, sir,” shouted another voice, “don’t murder us don’t fire, sir, for Godsake.”

But fire we still did; no sailor has the least compunction at even running down a privateer. Mercy to privateersmen is unknown. “Give them the stem,” is the word, the curs being regarded by Jack at the best as highwaymen; so, when he found we still peppered away, and sailing two feet for our one, the schooner at length, in their desperation, hauled her wind, and speedily got beyond range of our carronades, having all this time never fired a shot. Shortly after this we ran—under the Rayo’s stern she was lying to.

“Mr Crowfoot what have you been after? I have a great mind to report you, sir.”

“We could not help it, sir,” sung out Crowfoot in a most dolorous tone, in answer to the captain of the frigate; “we have been nearly taken, sir, by a privateer, sir—an immense vessel, sir, that sails, like a witch, sir.”

“Keep close in my wake then, sir,” rejoined the captain, in a gruff tone, and immediately the Rayo bore up.

Next morning we were all carrying as much sail as we could crowd. By this time we had gotten our jury-fore-topmast up, and the Rayo, having kept astern in the night, was now under topsails, and top-gallant sails, with the wet canvass at the head of the sails, showing that the reefs had been freshly shaken out—rolling wedge like on the swell, and rapidly shooting a-head, to resume her station. As she passed us, and let fall her foresail, she made the signal to make more sail, her object being to get through the Caicos Passage, into which we were now entering, before nightfall. It was eleven o’clock in the forenoon. A fine clear breezy day, fresh and pleasant, sometimes cloudy overhead, but always breaking away again, with a bit of a sneezer, and a small shower. As the sun rose there were indications of squalls in the north-eastern quarter, and about noon one of them was whitening to windward. So “hands by the topgallant clew-lines” was the word, and we were all standing by to shorten sail, when the Commodore came to the wind as sharp and suddenly as if he had anchored; but on a second look, I saw his sheets were let fly, haulyards let go, and apparently all was confusion on board of her. I ran to the side and looked over. The long hearing dark blue swell had changed into a light green hissing ripple.

“Zounds, Captain Crowfoot, shoal water—why it breaks—we shall be ashore!”

“Down with the helm-brace round the yards,” shouted Crow foot; “that’s it steady—luff, my man;” and the danger was so imminent that even the studding-sail haulyards were not let go and the consequence was, that the booms snapped off like carrots, as we came to the wind.

“Lord help us, we shall never weather that foaming reef there set the spanker—haul out—haul down the foretopmast—staysail—so, mind your luff, my man.”

The frigate now began to fire right and left, and the hissing of the shot overhead was a fearful augury of what was to take place; so sudden was the accident, that they had not had time to draw the round shot. The other transports were equally fortunate with ourselves, in weathering the shoal, and presently we were all close hauled to windward of the reef, until we weathered the easternmost prong, when we bore up. But, poor Rayo! she had struck on a coral reef, where the Admiralty charts laid down fifteen fathoms water; and although there was some talk at the time of an error in judgment, in not having the lead going in the chains, still do I believe there was no fault lying at the door of her gallant captain. By the time we had weathered the reef, the frigate had swung off from the pinnacle of rock on which she had been in a manner impaled, and was making all the sail she could, with a fothered sail under her bows, and chain-pumps clanging, and whole cataracts of water gushing from them, clear white jets spouting from all the scuppers, fore and aft. She made the signal to close. The next, alas! was the British ensign, seized, union down in the main rigging, the sign of the uttermost distress. Still we all bowled along together, but her yards were not squared, nor her sails set with her customary precision, and her lurches became more and more sickening, until at length she rolled so heavily, that she dipped both yardarms alternately in the water, and reeled to and fro like a drunken man.

“What is that splash?”

It was the larboard-bow long eighteen-pound gun hove overboard, and watching the roll, the whole broadside, one after another, was cast into the sea. The clang of the chain-pumps increased, the water rushed in at one side of the main-deck, and out at the other, in absolute cascades from the ports. At this moment the whole fleet of boats were alongside, keeping way with the ship, in the light breeze. Her main-topsail was hove aback, while the captain’s voice resounded through the ship.

“Now, men—all hands—bags and hammocks—starboard watch, the starboard side—larboard watch, the larboard side—no rushing now—she will swim this hour to come.”

The bags, and hammocks, and officers’ kits, were handed into the boats; the men were told off over the side, as quietly by watches as if at muster, the officers last. At length the first lieutenant came down. By this time she was settling perceptibly in the water; but the old captain still stood on the gangway, holding by the iron stanchion, where, taking off his hat, he remained uncovered for a moment, with the tears standing in his eyes. He then replaced it, descended, and took his place in the ship’s launch—the last man to leave the ship; and there was little time to spare, for we had scarcely shoved off a few yards, to clear the spars of the wreck, when she sended forward, heavily and sickly, on the long swell.—She never rose to the opposite heave of the sea again, but gradually sank by the head. The hull disappeared slowly and dignifiedly, the ensign fluttered and vanished beneath the dark ocean—I could have fancied reluctantly as if it had been drawn down through a trap-door. The topsails next disappeared, the fore-topsail sinking fastest; and last of all, the white pennant at the main-topgallant-mast head, after flickering and struggling in the wind, flew up in the setting sun as if imbued with—life, like a stream of white fire, or as if it had been the spirit leaving the body, and was then drawn down into the abyss, and the last vestige of the Rayo vanished for ever. The crew, as if moved by one common impulse, gave three cheers.

The captain now stood up in his boat—“Men, the Rayo is no more, but it is my duty to tell you, that although you are now to be distributed amongst the transports, you are still amenable to martial law; I am aware, men, this hint may not be necessary, still it is right you should know it.”

When the old hooker clipped out of sight, there was not a dry eye in the whole fleet. “There she goes, the dear old beauty,” said one of her crew. “There goes the blessed old black b——h,” quoth another. “Ah, many a merry night have we had in the clever little craft,” quoth a third; and there was really a tolerable shedding of tears and squirting of tobacco juice. But the blue ripple had scarcely blown over the glasslike surface of the sea where she had sunk, when the buoyancy of young hearts, with the prospect of a good furlough amongst the lobster boxes for a time, seemed to be uppermost amongst the men. The officers, I saw and knew, felt very differently.

“My eye!” sung out an old quartermaster incur boat, perched well forward with his back against the ring in the stem, and his arms crossed, after having been busily employed rummaging in his bag, “my eye, what a pity—oh, what a pity!”

Come, there is some feeling, genuine, at all events, thought I.

“My,” said Bill Chestree, the captain of the foretop, “what is can’t be helped, old Fizgig; old Rayo has gone down, and”—“Old Rayo be d——d, Master Bill,” said the man; “but may I be flogged, if I han’t forgotten half a pound of negro head baccy in Dick Catgut’s bag.”

“Launch ahoy!” hailed a half drunken voice from one of the boats astern of us. “Hillo,” responded the coxswain. The poor skipper even pricked up his ears. “Have you got Dick Catgut’s fiddle among ye?” This said Dick Catgut was the corporal of marines, and the prime instigator of all the fun amongst the men. “No, no,” said several voices, “no fiddle here.” The hail passed round among the other boats, “No fiddle.” “I would rather lose three days grog than have his fiddle mislaid,” quoth the man who pulled the bow oar.

“Why don’t you ask Dick himself?” said our coxswain.

“Aye—true enough—Dick, Dick Catgut!” but no one answered. Alas! poor Dick was nowhere to be found; he had been mislaid as well as his fiddle. He had broken into the spirit room, as it turned out, and having got drunk, did not come to time when the frigate sunk.

Our ship, immediately after the frigate’s crew had been bestowed, and the boats got in, hoisted the Commodore’s light, and the following morning we fell in with the Torch, off the east end of Jamaica, which, after seeing the transports safe into Kingston, and taking out me and my people, bore up through the Gulf, and resumed her cruising ground on the edge of the Gulf stream, between 25 degrees and 30 degrees north latitude.

CHAPTER III.—The Quenching of the Torch.

     “Then rose from sea to sky, the wild farewell.”
      BYRON, DON JUAN, II. 409

The evening was closing in dark and rainy, with every appearance of a gale from the westward, and the weather had become so thick and boisterous, that the lieutenant of the watch had ordered the look-out at the mast-head down on deck. The man, on his way down, had gone into the maintop to bring away some things he had placed there in going aloft, and was in the act of leaving it, when he sung out,—“A sail on the weather-bow.”

“What does she look like?”

“Can’t rightly say, sir; she is in the middle of the thick weather to windward.”

“Stay where you are a little.—Jenkins, jump forward, and see what you can make of her from the foreyard.”

Whilst the topman was obeying his instructions, the look-out again hailed “She is a ship, sir, close-hauled on the same tack——the weather clears, and I can see her now.”

The wind, ever since noon, had been blowing in heavy squalls, with appalling lulls between them. One of these gusts had been so violent as to bury in the sea the lee-guns in the waist, although the brig had nothing set but her close-reefed main-topsail, and reefed foresail. It was now spending, its fury, and she was beginning to roll heavily, when, with a suddenness almost incredible to one unacquainted with these latitudes, the veil of mist that had hung to windward the whole day was rent and drawn aside, and the red and level rays of the setting sun flashed at once, through a long arch of glowing clouds, on the black hull and tall spars of his Britannic Majesty’s sloop, Torch. And, true enough, we were not the only spectators of this gloomy splendour; for, right in the wake of the moon-like sun, now half sunk in the sea, at the distance of a mile or more, lay a long warlike-looking craft, apparently a frigate or heavy corvette, rolling heavily and silently in the trough of the sea, with her masts, yards, and the scanty sail she had set, in strong relief against the glorious horizon.

Jenkins now hailed from the foreyard—“The strange sail is bearing up, sir.”

As he spoke, a flash was seen, followed, after what seemed a long interval, by the deadened report of the gun, as if it had been an echo, and the sharp, half-ringing half-hissing sound of the shot. It fell short, but close to us, and was evidently thrown from a heavy cannon, from the length of the range.

Mr Splinter, the first lieutenant, jumped from the gun he stood on.

“Quartermaster, keep her away a bit”—and dived into the cabin to make his report.

Captain Deadeye was a staid, stiff-rumped, wall-eyed, old first lieutenantish-looking veteran, with his coat of a regular Rodney cut, broad skirts, long waist, and standup collar, over which dangled either a queue, or a marlinspike with a tuft of oakum at the end of it,—it would have puzzled Old Nick to say which. His lower spars were cased in tight unmentionables of what had once been white kerseymere, and long boots, the coal-skuttle tops of which served as scuppers to carry off the drainings from his coat-flaps in bad weather; he was, in fact, the “last of the sea-monsters,” but, like all his tribe, as brave as steel, and, when put to it, as alert as a cat.

He no sooner heard Splinter’s report, than he sprung up the ladder, brushing the tumbler of swizzle he had just brewed clean out of the fiddle into the lap of Mr Saveall, the purser, who had dined with him, and nearly extinguishing the said purser, by his arm striking the bowl of the pipe he was smoking, thereby forcing the shank half-way down his throat.

“My glass, Wilson,” to his steward.

“She is close to, sir; you can see her plainly without it,” said Mr Treenail, the second lieutenant, from the weather nettings, where he was reconnoitring.

After a long look through his starboard blinker, (this other skylight had been shut up ever since Aboukir,) Deadeye gave orders to “clear away the weather-bow gun;” and as it was now getting too dark for flags to be seen distinctly, he desired that three lanterns might be got ready for hoisting vertically in the main-rigging.

“All ready forward there?”

“All ready, sir.”

“Then hoist away the lights, and throw a shot across her forefoot I fire!” Bang went our carronade, but our friend to windward paid no regard to the private signal; he had shaken a reef out of his topsails, and wars coming down fast upon us.

It war clear that old Blowhard had at first taken him for one of our own cruisers, and meant to signalize him, “all regular and shipshape,” to use his own expression. Most of us, however, thought it would have been wiser to have made sail, and widened our distance, a little, in place of bothering with old fashioned manoeuvres, which might end in our catching a tartar; but the skipper had been all his life in line-of-battle ships, or heavy frigates; and it was a tough job, under, any circumstances, to persuade him of the propriety of “up-stick-and-away,” as we soon felt to our cost.

The enemy, for such he evidently was, now all at once yawed, and indulged us with a sight of his teeth; and there he was, fifteen ports of a side on his maindeck, with the due quantum of carronades on his quarterdeck and forecastle; whilst his short lower masts, white canvass, and the tremendous hoist in his topsails, showed him to be a heavy American frigate; and it was equally certain that he had cleverly hooked us under his lee, within comfortable range of his long twenty-fours. To convince the most unbelieving, three jets of flame, amidst wreaths of white smoke, now glanced from his main-deck; but in this instance, the sound of the cannon was followed by a sharp crackle and a shower of splinters from the foreyard.

It was clear we had got an ugly customer—poor Jenkins now called to Treenail, who was standing forward near the gun which had been fired “Och, sir, and it’s badly wounded we are here.”

The officer was a Patlander, as well as the seaman. “Which of you my boy?” the growing seriousness of the affair in no way checking his propensity to fun,—“Which of you,—you, or the yard?”

“Both of us, your honour; but the yard badliest.”

“The devil!—Come down, then, or get into the top, and I will you looked after presently.”

The poor fellow crawled off the yard into the foretop, as he was ordered, where he was found after the brush, badly wounded by a splinter in the breast.

Jonathan, no doubt “calculated,” as well he might, that this taste of his quality would be quite sufficient for a little eighteen-gun sloop, close under his lee; but the fight was not to be so easily taken out of Deadeye, although even to his optic it was now high time to be off.

“All hands make sail, Mr Splinter; that chap is too heavy for us. Mr Kelson,” to the carpenter, “jump up and see what the foreyard will carry. Keep her away, my man,” to the seaman at the helm. “Crack on, Mr Splinter, shake all the reefs out,——set the fore-topsail, and loose topgallant-sails;—stand by to sheet home; and see all clear to rig the booms out, if the breeze lulls.”

In less than a minute we were bowling along before it; but the wind was breezing up again, and no one could say how long the wounded foreyard would carry the weight and drag of the sails. To mend the matter, Jonathan was coming up hand over hand with the freshening breeze, under a press of canvass; it was clear that escape was next to impossible.

“Clear away the larboard guns!” I absolutely jumped off the deck with astonishment—who could have spoken it? It appeared such downright madness to show fight under the very muzzles of the guns of an enemy, half of whose broadside was sufficient to sink us. It was the captain, however, and there was nothing for it but to obey.

In an instant, the creaking and screaming of the carronade slides, the rattling of the carriage of the long twelve-pounder amidships, the thumping and punching of handspikes, and the dancing and jumping of jack himself, were heard through the whistling of the breeze, as the guns were being shotted and run out. In a few seconds all was still again, but the rushing sound of the vessel going through the water, and of the rising gale amongst the rigging.

The men stood clustered at their quarters, their cutlasses buckled round their waists, all without jackets and waistcoats, and many with nothing but their trowsers on.

“Now, men, mind your aim; our only chance is to wing him. I will yaw the ship, and as your guns come to bear, slap it right into his bows. Starboard your helm, my man, and bring her to the wind.” As she came round, blaze went our carronades and long-gun in succession, with goodwill and good aim, and down came his foretop-sail on the cap, with all the superincumbent spars and gear; the head of the topmast had been shot away. The men instinctively cheered. “That will do; now knock off, my boys, and let us run for it. Keep her away again; make all sail.”

Jonathan was for an instant paralysed by our impudence; but just as we were getting before the wind, he yawed, and let drive his whole broadside; and fearfully did it transmogrify us. Half an hour before we were as gay a little sloop as ever floated, with a crew of 120 as fine fellows as ever manned a British man-of-war. The iron-shower sped—ten of the hundred and twenty never saw the sun rise again; seventeen more were wounded, three mortally; we had eight shot between wind and water, our maintop-mast shot away as clean as a carrot, and our hull and rigging otherwise regularly cut to pieces. Another broadside succeeded; but by this time we had bore up thanks to the loss of our after sail, we could do nothing else; and what was better luck still, whilst the loss of our maintop-mast paid the brig off on the one hand, the loss of head-sail in the frigate brought her as quickly to the wind on the other; thus most of her shot fell astern of us; and, before she could bear up again in chase, the squall struck her, and carried her maintop-mast overboard.

This gave us a start, crippled and bedevilled though we were; and as the night fell, we contrived to lose sight of our large friend. With breathless anxiety did we carry on through that night, expecting every lurch to send our remaining topmast by the board; but the weather moderated, and next morning the sun shone on our bloodstained decks, at anchor off the entrance to St George’s harbour.

I was the mate of the watch, and, as day dawned, I had amused myself with other younkers over the side, examining the shot holes and other injuries sustained from the fire of the frigate, and contrasting the clean, sharp, well-defined apertures, made by the 24-pound shot from the long guns, with the bruised and splintered ones from the 32-pound carronades; but the men had begun to wash down the decks, and the first gush of clotted blood an water from the scuppers fairly turned me sick. I turned away, when Mr Kennedy, our gunner, a good steady old Scotchman, with whom I was a bit of a favourite, came up to me—“Mr Cringle, the Captain has sent for you; poor Mr Johnstone is fast going, he wants to see you.”

I knew my young messmate had been wounded, for I had seen him carried below after the frigate’s second broadside; but the excitement of a boy, who had seldom smelled powder fired in anger before, had kept me on deck the whole night, and it never once occurred to me to ask for him, until the old gunner spoke.

I hastened down to our small confined berth, where I saw a sight that quickly brought me to myself. Poor Johnstone was indeed going; a grapeshot had struck him, and torn his belly open. There he lay in his bloody hammock on the deck, pale and motionless as if he had already departed, except a slight twitching at the corners of his mouth, and a convulsive contraction and distension of his nostrils.

His brown ringlets still clustered over his marble forehead, but they were drenched in the cold sweat of death. The surgeon could do nothing for him, and had left him; but our old captain—bless him for it—I little expected, from his usual crusty bearing, to find him so employed—had knelt by his side, and, whilst he read from the Prayer-book one of those beautiful petitions in our Church service to Almighty God, for mercy to the passing soul of one so young, and so early cut off, the tears trickled down the old man’s cheeks, and filled the furrows worn in them by the washing up of many a salt spray. On the other side of his narrow bed, fomenting the rigid muscles of his neck and chest, sate Mistress Connolly, one of three women on board—a rough enough creature, Heaven knows! in common weather; but her stifled sobs showed that the mournful sight had stirred up all the woman within her. She had opened the bosom of the poor boy’s shirt, and untying the riband that fastened a small gold crucifix round his neck, she placed it in his cold hand. The young midshipman was of a respectable family in Limerick, her native place, and a Catholic—another strand of the cord that bound her to him. When the Captain finished reading, he bent over the departing youth and kissed his cheek. “Your young messmate just now desired to see you, Mr Cringle, but it is too late, he is insensible and dying.” Whilst he spoke, a strong shiver passed through the boy’s frame, his face became slightly convulsed, and all was over!

The Captain rose, and Connolly, with a delicacy of feeling which many might not have looked for in her situation, spread one of our clean mess tablecloths over the body. “And is it really gone you are, my poor dear boy!” forgetting all difference of rank in the fulness of her heart. “Who will tell this to your mother, and nobody here to wake you but ould Kate Connolly, and no time will they be giving me, nor whisky—Ochon! ochon!”

But enough and to spare of this piping work. The boatswain’s whistle now called me to the gangway, to superintend the handling up, from a shore boat alongside, a supply of the grand staples of the island—ducks and onions. The three Mudians in her were characteristic samples of the inhabitants. Their faces and sins, where exposed, were not tanned, but absolutely burnt into a fiery-red colour by the sun. They guessed and drawled like any buckskin from Virginia, superadding to their accomplishments their insular peculiarity of always shutting one eye when they spoke to you. They are all Yankees at bottom; and if they could get their 365 Islands—so they call the large stones on which they live—under weigh, they would not be long in towing them into the Chesapeake.

The word had been passed to get six of the larboard-guns and all the shot over to the other side, to give the brig a list of a streak or two a-starboard, so that the stage on which the carpenter and his crew were at work over the side, stopping the shot holes about the water line, might swing clear of the wash of the sea. I had jumped from the nettings, where I was perched, to assist in unbolting one of the carronade slides, when I slipped and capsized against a peg sticking out of one of the scuppers. I took it for something else, and d——d the ring-bolt incontinently. Caboose, the cook, was passing with his mate, a Jamaica negro of the name of John Crow, at the time. “Don’t d——n the remains of your fellow-mortals, Master Cringle; that is my leg.” The cook of a man-of-war is no small beer; he is his Majesty’s warrant-officer, a much bigger wig than a poor little mid, with whom it is condescension on his part to jest.

It seems to be a sort of rule, that no old sailor who has not lost a limb, or an eye at least, shall be eligible to the office; but as the kind of maiming is so far circumscribed that all cooks must have two arms, a laughable proportion of them have but one leg. Besides the honour, the perquisites are good; accordingly, all old quartermasters, captains of tops, etc. look forward to the cookdom, as the cardinals look to the popedom; and really there is some analogy between them, for neither are preferred from any especial fitness for the office. A cardinal is made pope because he is old, infirm, and imbecile,—our friend Caboose was made cook because he had been Lord Nelson’s coxswain, was a drunken rascal, and had a wooden leg; for, as to his gastronomical qualifications, he knew no more of the science than just sufficient to watch the copper where the salt junk and potatoes were boiling. Having been a little in the wind overnight, he had quartered himself, in the superabundance of his heroism, at a gun where he had no business to be, and in running it out, he had jammed his toe in a scupper hole, so fast that there was no extricating him; and notwithstanding his piteous entreaty “to be eased out handsomely, as the leg was made out of a plank of the Victory, and the ring at the end out of one of her bolts,” the captain of the gun finding, after a stout pull, that the man was like to come home in his hand without the leg, was forced “to break him short off,” as he phrased it, to get him out of the way, and let the carriage traverse. In the morning when he sobered, he had quite forgotten where the leg was, and how he broke it; he therefore got Kelson to splice the stump with the but-end of a mop; but in the hurry it had been left three inches too long, so he had to jerk himself up to the top of his peg at every step. The Doctor, glad to breathe the fresh air after the horrible work he had gone through, was leaning over the side speaking to Kelson. When I fell, he turned round and drew Cookee’s fire on himself. “Doctor, you have not prescribed for me yet.”

“No, Caboose, I have not; what is wrong?”

“Wrong, sir? why, I have lost my leg, and the Captain’s clerk says I am not in the Return!—Look here, sir, had Doctor Kelson not coopered me, where should I have been?—Why, Doctor, had I been looked after, amputation might have been unnecessary; a fish might have done, whereas I have had to be spliced.”

He was here cut short by the voice of his mate, who had gone forward to slay a pig for the gunroom mess. “Oh, Lad, oh!—Massa Caboose!—Dem dam Yankee!—De Purser killed, massa!—Dem shoot him troo de head!—Oh, Lad!”

Captain Deadeye had come on deck. “You John Crow, what is wrong with you?”

“Why, de Purser killed, Captain, dat all.”

“Purser killed?—Doctor, is Saveall hurt?”

Treenail could stand it no longer. “No, sir, no; it is one of the gunroom pigs that we shipped at Halifax three cruises ago; I am sure I don’t know how he survived one, but the seamen took a fancy to him, and nicknamed him the Purser. You know, sir, they make pets of any thing, and every thing, at a pinch!”

Here John Crow drew the carcass from the hog-pen, and sure enough a shot had cut the poor Purser’s head nearly off. Blackee looked at him with a most whimsical expression; they saynno one can fathom a negro’s affection for a pig. “Poor Purser! de people call him Purser, sir, because him knowing chap; him cabbage all de grub, slush, and stuff in him own corner, and give only de small bit, and de bad piece, to de older pig; so Captain.”

Splinter saw the poor fellow was like to get into a scrape. “That will do, John Crow—forward with you now, and lend a hand to cat the anchor.—All hands up anchor!” The boatswain’s hoarse voice repeated the command, and he n turn was re-echoed by his mates. The capstan was manned, and the crew stamped, round to a point of wart most villainously performed by a bad drummer and a worse fifer, in as high glee as if those who were killed had been snug and well in their hammocks on the berth-deck—, in place of at the bottom of the sea, with each a shot at his feet. We weighed, and began to work up, tack and tack, towards the island of Ireland, where the arsenal is, amongst a perfect labyrinth of shoals, through which the Mudian pilot conned the ship with great skill, taking his stand, to our no small wonderment, not at the gangway or poop, as usual, but on the bowsprit end, so that he might see the rocks under foot, and shun them accordingly, for they are so steep and numerous, (they look like large fish in the clear water,) and the channel is so intricate, that you have to go quite close to them. At noon we arrived at the anchorage, and hauled our moorings on board.

We had refitted, and been four days at sea, on our voyage to Jamaica, when the gunroom officers gave our mess a blow-out.

The increased motion and rushing of the vessel through the water, the groaning of the masts, the howling of the rising gale, and the frequent trampling of the watch on deck, were prophetic of wet jackets to some of us; still, midshipman-like, we were as happy as a good dinner and some wine could make us, until the old gunner shoved his weather beaten phiz and bald pate in at the door. “Beg pardon, Mr Splinter, but if you will spare Mr Cringle on the forecastle for an hour until the moon rises.”

(“Spare, quotha, is his Majesty’s officer a joint stool?”)

“Why, Mr Kennedy, why? here, man, take a glass of grog.”

“I thank you, sir. It is coming on a roughish night, sir; the running ships should be crossing us hereabouts; indeed more than once I thought there was a strange sail close aboard of us, the scud is flying so low, and in such white flakes; and none of us have an eye like Mr Cringle, unless it be John Crow, and he is all but frozen.”

“Well, Tom, I suppose you will go”—Angelice, from a first lieutenant to a mid—“Brush instanter.”

Having changed my uniform, for shag-trowsers, pea-jacket, and south-west cap, I went forward, and took my station, in no pleasant humour, on the stowed foretopmast-staysail, with my arm round the stay. I had been half an hour there, the weather was getting worse, the rain was beating in my face, and the spray from the stem was flashing over me, as it roared through the waste of sparkling and hissing waters. I turned my back to the weather for a moment, to press my hand on my strained eyes. When I opened them again, I saw the gunner’s gaunt high-featured visage thrust anxiously forward; his profile looked as if rubbed over with phosphorus, and his whole person as if we had been playing at snap-dragon. “What has come over you, Mr Kennedy?—who is burning the bluelight now?”

“A wiser man than I am must tell you that; look forward, Mr Cringle—look there; what do your books say to that?”

I looked forth, and saw, at the extreme end of the jib-boom, what I had read of, certainly, but never expected to see, a pale, greenish, glowworm coloured flame, of the size and shape of the frosted glass shade over the swinging lamp in the gunroom. It drew out and flattened as the vessel pitched and rose again, and as she sheered about, it wavered round the point that seemed to attract it, like a soapsud bubble blown from a tobacco pipe before it is shaken into the air; at the core it was comparatively bright, but gradually faded into a halo. It shed a baleful and ominous light on the surrounding objects; the cup of sailors on the forecastle looked like spectres, and they shrunk together, and whispered when it began to roll slowly along the spar towards where the boatswain was sitting at my feet. At this instant something slid down the stay, and a cold clammy hand passed round my neck. I was within an ace of losing my hold, and tumbling overboard. “Heaven have mercy on me, what’s that?”

“It’s that skylarking son of a gun, Jem Sparkle’s monkey, sir. You, Jem, you’ll never rest till that brute is made shark bait of.”

But Jackoo vanished up the stay again, chuckling and grinning in the ghostly radiance, as if he had been the “Spirit of the Lamp.” The light was still there, but a cloud of mist, like a burst of vapour from a steam boiler, came down upon the gale, and flew past, when it disappeared. I followed the white mass as it sailed down the wind; it did not, as it appeared to me, vanish in the darkness, but seemed to remain in sight to leeward, as if checked by a sudden flaw; yet none of our sails were taken aback. A thought flashed on me. I peered still more intensely into the night. I was now certain. “A sail, broad on the lee bow.”

The ship was in a buz in a moment. The Captain answered from the quarterdeck—“Thank you, Mr Cringle. How shall we steer?”

“Keep her away a couple of points, sir, steady.”

“Steady,” sung the man at the helm; and the slow melancholy cadence, although a familiar sound to me, now moaned through the rushing of the wind, and smote upon my heart as if it had been the wailing of a spirit.

I turned to the boatswain, who was now standing beside me—“Is that you or Davy Jones steering, Mr Nipper? if you had not been here bodily at my elbow, I could have sworn that was your voice.”

When the gunner made the same remark it startled the poor fellow he tried to take it as a joke, but could not. “There may be a laced hammock with a shot in it, for some of us ere morning.”

At this moment, to my dismay, the object we were chasing shortened, gradually fell abeam of us, and finally disappeared. “The Flying Dutchman.”

“I can’t see her at all now.”

“She will be a fore-and-aft-rigged vessel that has tacked, sir,” said the gunner. And sure enough, after a few seconds, I saw the white object lengthen, and draw out again abaft our beam.

“The chase has tacked sir,” I sung out; “put the helm down, or she will, go to windward of us.”

We tacked also, and time it was we did so, for the rising moon now showed us a large schooner under a crowd of sail. We edged down on her, when finding her manoeuvre detected, she brailed up her flat sails, and bore up before the wind. This was our best point of sailing, and we cracked on, the captain rubbing his hands—“It’s my turn to be the big un this time.” Although blowing a strong north-easter, it was now clear moonlight and we hammered away from bow guns, but whenever a shot told amongst the rigging, the injury was repaired as if by magic. It was evident we had repeatedly hulled her, from the glimmering white streaks along her counter and, across her stern, occasioned by the splintering of the timber, but it seemed to produce no effect.

At length we drew well up on her quarter. She continued all black hull and white sail, not a soul to be seen on deck, except a dark object, which we took for the man at the helm. “What schooner’s that?” No answer. “Heave-to, or I’ll sink you.” Still all silent. “Sergeant Armstrong, do you think you could pick off that chap at the wheel?” The marine jumped on the forecastle, and levelled his piece, when a musket-shot from the schooner crashed through his skull, and he fell dead. The old skipper’s blood was up. “Forecastle, there! Mr Nipper, clap a canister of grape over the round shot into the boat-gun, and give it to him.”

“Ay, ay, sir!” gleefully rejoined the boatswain, forgetting the augury and every thing else in the excitement of the moment. In a twinkling, the square foresail-topsail-topgallant-royal—and studdingsail haulyards were let go by the run on board of the schooner, as if they had been shot away, and he put his helm hard aport as, if to round to.

“Rake him, sir, or give him the stem. He has not surrendered. I know their game. Give him your broadside, sir, or he is off to windward of you like a shot.—No, no! we have him now; heave to, Mr Splinter, heave-to!” We did so, and that so suddenly, that the studdingsail booms snapped like pipe-shanks, short off by the irons. Notwithstanding, we had shot two hundred yards to leeward before we could lay our maintopsail to the mast. I ran to windward. The schooner’s yards and rigging were now black with men, clustered like bees swanning, her square-sails were being close furled, her fore and—aft sails set, and away she was, close-hauled and dead to windward of us.

“So much for undervaluing our American friends,” grumbled Mr Splinter.

We made all sail in chase, blazing away to little purpose; we had no chance on a bowline, and when our amigo had satisfied himself of his superiority by one or two short tacks, he deliberately hauled down his flying jib and gaff-topsail, took a reef in his mainsail, triced up the bunt of his foresail, and fired his long thirty-two at us. The shot came in at the third aftermost port on the starboard side, and dismounted the carronade, smashing the slide, and wounding three men. The second shot missed, and as it was madness to remain to be peppered, probably winged, whilst every one of ours fell short, we reluctantly kept away on our course, having the gratification of hearing a clear well-blown bugle on board the schooner play up “Yankee Doodle.”

As the brig fell off, our long-gun was run out to have a parting crack at her, when the third and last shot from the schooner struck the sill of the midship-port, and made the white splinters fly from the solid oak like bright silver sparks in the moonlight. A sharp piercing cry rose into the air—my soul identified that death-shriek with the voice that I had heard, and I saw the man who was standing with the lanyard of the lock in his hand drop heavily across the breech, and discharge the gun in his fall. Thereupon a blood-red glare shot up into the cold blue sky, as if a volcano had burst forth from beneath the mighty deep, followed by a roar, and a shattering crash, and a mingling of unearthly cries and groans, and a concussion of the air, and of the water, as if our whole broadside had been fired at once. Then a solitary splash here, and a dip there, and short sharp yells, and low choking bubbling moans, as the hissing fragments of the noble vessel we had seen fell into the sea, and the last of her gallant crew vanished for ever beneath that pale broad moon. We were alone, and once more, all was dark, and wild, and stormy. Fearfully had that ball sped, fired by a dead man’s hand. But what is it that clings black and doubled across that fatal cannon, dripping and heavy, and choking the scuppers with clotting gore, and swaying to and fro with the motion of the vessel, like a bloody fleece?

“Who is it that was hit at the gun there?”

“Mr Nipper, the boatswain, sir. The last shot has cut him in two.”

After this most melancholy incident we continued on our voyage to Jamaica, nothing particular occurring until we anchored at Port Royal, where we had a regular overhaul of the old Bark, and after this was completed, we were ordered down to the leeward part of the island to afford protection to the coasting trade. One fine morning, about a fortnight after we had left Port Royal, the Torch was lying at anchor in Bluefields Bay. It was between eight and nine; the land-wind had died away, and the sea-breeze had not set in—there was not a breath stirring. The pennant from the masthead fell sluggishly down, and clung amongst the rigging like a dead snake, whilst the folds of the St George’s ensign that hung from the mizzen-peak, were as motionless as if they had been carved in marble.

The anchorage was one unbroken mirror, except where its glass-like surface was shivered into sparkling ripples by the gambols of a skipjack, or the flashing stoop of his enemy the pelican; and the reflection of the vessel was so clear and steady, that at the distance of a cable’s length you could not distinguish the water-line, nor tell where the substance ended and shadow began, until the casual dashing of a bucket overboard for a few moments broke up the phantom ship; but the wavering fragments soon reunited, and she again floated double, like the swan of the poet. The heat was so intense, that the iron stanchions of the awning could not be grasped with the hand, and where the decks were not screened by it, the pitch boiledout from the seams. The swell rolled in from the offing in long shining undulations, like a sea of quicksilver, whilst every now and then a flying fish would spark out from the unruffled bosom of the heaving water, and shoot away like a silver arrow, until it dropped with a flash into the sea again. There was not a cloud in the heavens, but a quivering blue haze hung over the land, through which the white sugar-works and overseers’ houses on the distant estates appeared to twinkle like objects seen through a thin smoke, whilst each of the tall stems of the cocoa—nut trees on the beach, when looked at steadfastly, seemed to be turning round with a small spiral motion, like so many endless screws. There was a dreamy indistinctness about the outlines of the hills, even in the immediate vicinity, which increased as they receded, until the Blue Mountains in the horizon melted into sky. The crew were listlessly spinning oakum, and mending sails, under the shade of the awning; the only exceptions to the general languor were John Crow the black, and jackoo the monkey. The former (who was an improvisatore of a rough stamp) sat out on the bowsprit, through choice, beyond the shade of the canvass, without hat or shirt, like a bronze bust, busy with his task, whatever that might be, singing at the top of his pipe, and between whiles confabulating with his hairy ally, as if he had been a messmate. The monkey was hanging by the tail from the dolphin-striker, admiring what John Crow called “his own dam ogly face in the water.”

“Tail like yours would be good ting for a sailor, jackoo, it would leave his two hands free aloft—more use, more hornament, too, I’m sure, den de piece of greasy junk dat hangs from de Captain’s taffril.—Now I shall sing to you, how dat Corromantee rascal, my fader, was sell me on de Gold Coast.

     “Two red nightcap, one long knife,
     All him get for Quackoo,
     For gun next day him sell him wife,
     You tink dat good song, lackoo?”

“Chocko, chocko,” chattered the monkey, as if in answer.

“Ah, you tink so—sensible honimal!—What is dat? shark?—Jackoo, come up, sir: don’t you see dat big shovel—nosed fis looking at you? Pull your handout of the water—Caramighty!”

The negro threw himself on the gammoning of the bowsprit to take hold of the poor ape, who, mistaking his kind intention, and ignorant of his danger, shrunk from him, lost his hold, and fell into the sea. The shark instantly sank to have a run, then dashed at his prey, raising his snout over him, and shooting his head and shoulders three or four feet out of the water, with poor Jackoo shrieking in his jaws, whilst his small bones crackled and crunched under the monster’s triple row of teeth.

Whilst this small tragedy was acting—and painful enough it was to the kind-hearted negro—I was looking out towards the eastern horizon, watching the first dark-blue ripple of the sea-breeze, when a rushing noise passed over my head. I looked up and saw a gawnaso, the large carrion-crow of the tropics, sailing, contrary to the habits of its kind, seaward over the brig. I followed it with my eye, until it vanished in the distance, when my attention was attracted by a dark speck far out in the offing, with a little tiny white sail. With my glass I made it out to be a ship’s boat, but I saw no one on board, and the sail was idly flapping about the mast.

On making my report, I was desired to pull towards it in the gig; and as we approached, one of the crew said he thought he saw some one peering over the bow. We drew nearer, and I saw him distinctly.

“Why don’t you haul the sheet aft, and come down to us, sir?”

He neither moved nor answered, but, as the boat rose and fell on the short sea raised by the first of the breeze, the face kept mopping and mowing at us over the gunwale.

“I will soon teach you manners, my fine fellow! give way, men” and I fired my musket, when the crow that I had seen, rose from the boat into the air, but immediately alighted again, to our astonishment, vulture-like with out-stretched wings, upon the head.

Under the shadow of this horrible plume, the face seemed on the instant to alter like the hideous changes in a dream. It appeared to become of a deathlike paleness, and anon streaked with blood. Another stroke of the oar—the chin had fallen down, and the tongue was hanging out. Another pull—the eyes were gone, and from their sockets, brains and blood were fermenting and flowing down the cheeks. It was the face of a putrefying corpse. In this floating coffin we found the body of another sailor, doubled across one of the thwarts, with a long Spanish knife sticking between his ribs, as if he had died in some mortal struggle, or, what was equally probable, had put an end to himself in his frenzy; whilst along the bottom of the boat, arranged with some show of care, and covered by a piece of canvass stretched across an oar above it, lay the remains of a beautiful boy, about fourteen years of age, apparently but a few hours dead. Some biscuit, a roll of jerked beef, and an earthen water-jar, lay beside him, showing that hunger at least could have had no share in his destruction but the pipkin was dry, and the small water-cask in the bow was staved, and empty.

We had no sooner cast our grappling over the bow, and begun to tow the boat to the ship, than the abominable bird that we had scared settled down into it again, notwithstanding our proximity, and began to peck at the face of the dead boy. At this moment we heard a gibbering noise, and saw something like a bundle of old rags roll out from beneath the stem-sheets, and whatever it was, apparently make a fruitless attempt to drive the gallinaso from its prey. Heaven and earth, what an object met our eyes! It was a full-grown man, but so wasted, that one of the boys lifted him by his belt with one hand. His knees were drawn up to his chin, his hands were like the talons of a bird, while the falling in of his chocolate-coloured and withered features gave an unearthly relief to his forehead, over which the horny and transparent skin was braced so tightly that it seemed ready to crack. But in the midst of this desolation, his deep-set coal-black eyes sparkled like two diamonds with the fever of his sufferings; there was a fearful fascination in their flashing brightness, contrasted with the deathlike aspect of the face, and rigidity of the frame. When sensible of our presence he tried to speak, but could only utter a low moaning sound. At length—“Agua, agua”—we had not a drop of water in the boat. “El muchacho esta moriendo de sed—Agua.”

We got on board, and the surgeon gave the poor fellow some weak tepid grog. It acted like magic. He gradually uncoiled himself, his voice, from being weak and husky, became comparative strong and clear. “El hijo—Agua para mi Pedrillo—No le hace pari mi—oh la noche pasado, la noche pasado!” He was told to compose himself, and that his boy would be taken care of. “Dexa me verlo entonces, oh Dios, dexa me verlo”——and he crawled, grovelling on his chest, like a crushed worm, across the deck, until he got his head over the port sill, and looked down into the boat. He there beheld the pale face of his dead son; it was the last object he ever saw, “Ay de mi!” he groaned heavily, and dropped his face against the ship’s side—He was dead.

After spending several months in the service already alluded to, we were ordered on a cruise off the coast of Terra Firma.

Morillo was at this time besieging Carthagena by land, while a Spanish squadron, under Admiral Enrile, blockaded the place by sea; and it pleased the officer who commanded the inshore division to conceive, while the old Torch was quietly beating up along the coast, that we had an intention of forcing the blockade.

The night before had been gusty and tempestuous—all hands had been called three times, so that at last, thinking there was no use in going below, I lay down on the stern sheets of the boat over the stern—an awkward berth certainly, but a spare tarpaulins had that morning been stretched over the after part of the boat to dry, and I therefore ensconced myself beneath it. just before daylight, however, the brig, by a sudden shift of wind, was taken aback, and fetching stern-way, a sea struck her. How I escaped I never could tell, but I was pitched right in on deck over the poop, and much bruised, where I found a sad scene of confusion, with the captain and several of the officers in their shirts, and the men tumbling up from below as fast as they could—while, amongst other incidents, one of our passengers who occupied a small cabin under the poop, having gone to sleep with the stern port open, the sea had surged in through it with such violence as to wash him out on deck in his shirt, where he lay sprawling among the feet of the men. However, we soon got all right, and in five minutes the sloop was once more tearing through it on a wind; but the boat where I had been sleeping was smashed into staves, all that remained of her being the stem and stern-post dangling from the tackles at the ends of the davits.

At this time it was grey dawn, and we were working up in shore, without dreaming of breaking the blockade, when it fell stark calm. Presently the Spanish squadron, anchored under Punto Canoa, perceived us, when a corvette, two schooners, a cutter, and eight gunboats, got under weigh, the latter of which soon swept close to us, ranging themselves on our bows and quarters; and although we showed our colours, and made the private international signal, they continued firing at us for about an hour, without, however, doing any damage, as they had chosen a wary distance. At length some of the shot falling near us, the skipper cleared for action, and with his own hand fired a 32-pounder at the nearest gun-boat, the crew of which bobbed as if they, had seen the shot coming. This opened the eyes of the Dons, who thereupon ceased firing; and as a light breeze had now set down, they immediately made sail in pursuit of a schooner that had watched the opportunity of their being employed with us to run in under the walls, and was at this moment chased by a ship and a gun-boat, who had got within gun-shot and kept up a brisk fire on her. So soon as the others came up, all hands opened on the gallant little hooker who was forcing the blockade, and peppered away; and there she was, like a hare, with a whole pack of harriers after her, sailing and sweeping in under their fire towards the doomed city. As the wind was very light, the blockading squadron now manned their boats, and some of them were coming fast, when a raffle of musketry from the small craft sent them to the right about, and presently the chase was safely at anchor under the battery of Santa Catalina.

But the fun was to come-for by this time some of the vessels that held her in chase, had got becalmed under the batteries, which immediately opened on them cheerily; and down came a topgallant-mast here, and a topsail-yard there, and a studdingsail t’other place-and such a squealing and creaking of blocks and rattling of the gear, while yards braced hither and thither, and topping-lifts let go, and sheets let fly, showed that the Dons were in a sad quandary; and no wonder, for we could see the shot from the long 32-pounders on the walls, falling very thick all around several of them. However, at 4 P.M. we had worked up alongside of the Commodore, when the old skipper gave our friend such a rating, that I don’t think he will ever forget it.

On the day following our being fired at, I was sent, being a good Spaniard, along with the second lieutenant—poor Treenail—to Morillo’s headquarters. We got an order to the officer commanding the nearest post on shore, to provide us with horses; but before reaching it, we had to walk, under a roasting sun, about two miles through miry roads, until we arrived at the barrier, where we found a detachment of artillery, but the commanding officer could only give us one poor broken-winded horse, and a jackass, on which we were to proceed to headquarters on the morrow; and here, under a thatched hut of the most primitive construction, consisting simply of cross sticks and palm branches, we had to spend the night, the poor fellows being as kind as their own misery would let them.

Next morning we proceeded, accompanied by a hussar, through dreadful roads, where the poor creatures we bestrode sunk to the belly at every flounder, until about four p.m., when we met two negroes and found, to our great distress, that the soldier who was our guide and escort, had led us out of our way, and that we were in very truth then travelling towards the town. We therefore hove-about and returned to Palanquillo, a village that we had passed through that very morning, leaving the hussar and his horse sticking fast in a slough. We arrived about nightfall, and as the village was almost entirely deserted, we were driven to take up our quarters in an old house, that seemed formerly to have been used as a distillery. Here we found a Spanish lieutenant and several soldiers quartered, all of them suffering more or less from dysentery; and after passing a very comfortless night on hard benches, we rose at grey dawn, with our hands and faces blistered from musquitto bites, and our hair full of wood ticks, or garapatos. We again started on our journey to headquarters, and finally arrived at Torrecilla at two o’clock in the afternoon. Both the Commander-in-Chief Morillo, and Admiral Enrile, had that morning proceeded to the works at Boca Chica, so we only found El Senor Montalvo, the Captain-General of the Province, a little kiln-dried diminutive Spaniard. Morillo used to call him “uno muneco Creollo,” but withal he was a gentlemanlike man in his manners.

He received us very civilly; we delivered our despatches; and the same evening we made our bow, and having obtained fresh horses, set out on our return, and arrived at the village of Santa Rosa at nine at night, where we slept; and next morning continuing on our journey, we got once more safely on board of the old Brig at twelve o’clock at noon, in a miserable plight, not having had our clothes off for three days. As for me I was used to roughing it, and in my humble equipment any disarrangement was not particularly discernible, but in poor Treenail, one of the nattiest fellows in the service, it was a very different matter. He had issued forth on the enterprise, cased in tight blue pantaloons that fitted him like his skin, over which were drawn long well-polished Hessian boots, each with a formidable tassel at top, and his coat was buttoned close up to the chin, with a blazing swab on the right shoulder, while a laced cocked hat and dress sword completed his equipment. But, alas! when we were accounted for on board of the old Torch, there was a fearful dilapidation of his external man. First of all, his inexpressibles were absolutely tom into shreds by the briers and prickly bushes through which we had been travelling, and fluttered from his waistband like the stripes we see depending from an ancient Roman or Grecian coat of armour; his coat had only one skirt, and the bullion of the epaulet was reduced to a strand or two, while the tag that held the brim, or flaps of the cocked hat up, had given way, so that, although he looked fierce enough, stem on, still, when you had a sternview, the after part hung down his back like the tail of the hat of one of Landseer’s flying dustmen.

After this, we experienced, with little intermission, most dreadful weather for two weeks, until at length we were nearly torn in pieces, and the Captain was about abandoning his ground, and returning to Port Royal, when it came on to blow with redoubled violence. We struggled against it for twelve hours, but were finally obliged to heave-to, the sea all the while running tremendously high.

About noon on the day I speak of, the weather had begun to look a little better, but the sea had if any thing increased. I had just come on deck, when Mr Splinter sung out—“Look out for that sea, quartermaster!—Mind your starboard helm!—Ease her, man—ease her!”

On it came, rolling as high as the foreyard, and tumbled in over the bows, green, clear, and unbroken. It filled the deep waist of the Torch in an instant, and as I rose half smothered in the midst of a jumble of men, pigs, hencoops, and spare spars, I had nearly lost an eye by a floating boarding-pike that was lanced at me by the jauglet of the water. As for the boats on the booms, they had all gone to sea separately, and were bobbing at us in a squadron to leeward, the launch acting as commodore, with a crew of a dozen sheep, whose bleating as she rose on the crest of a wave came back upon us, faintly blending with the hoarse roaring of the storm, and seeming to cry, “No more mutton for you, my boys!”

At length the lee ports were forced out—the pumps promptly rigged and manned—buckets slung and at work down the hatchways; and although we had narrowly escaped being swamped, and it continued to blow hard, with a heavy sea, the men, confident in the qualities of the ship, worked with glee, shaking their feathers, and quizzing each other. But anon a sudden and appalling change came over the sea and the sky, that made the stoutest amongst us quail and draw his breath thick. The firmament darkened—the horizon seeme to contract—the sea became black as ink—the wind fell to a dead calm—the teeming clouds descended and filled the murky arch of heaven with their whirling masses, until they appeared to touch our mast-heads, but there was neither lightning nor rain, not one glancing flash, not one refreshing drop—the windows of the sky had been sealed up by Him who had said to the storm, “Peace, be still.”

During this deathlike pause, infinitely more awful than the heaviest gale, every sound on board, the voices of the men, even the creaking of the bulkheads, was heard with startling distinctness; and the water-logged brig, having no wind to steady her, laboured so heavily in the trough of the sea, that we expected her masts to go overboard every moment.

“Do you see and hear that, sir?” said Lieutenant Treenail to the Captain.

We all looked eagerly forth in the direction indicated. There was a white line in fearful contrast with the clouds and the rest of the ocean, gleaming on the extreme verge of the horizon—it grew broader—a low increasing growl was heard—a thick blinding mist came driving up a-stern of us, whose small drops pierced into the skin like sharp hail.

“Is it rain?”

“No, no—salt, salt.”

And now the fierce Spirit of the Hurricane himself, the sea Azrael, in storm and in darkness, came thundering on with stunning violence, tearing off the snowy scalps of the tortured billows, and with tremendous and sheer force, crushing down beneath his chariot wheels their mountainous and howling ridges into one level plain of foaming water. Our chainplates, strong fastenings, and clenched bolts, drew like pliant wires, shrouds and stays were torn away like the summer gossamer, and our masts and spars, crackling before his fury like dry reeds in autumn, were blown clean out of the ship, over her bows, into the sea.

Had we shown a shred of the strongest sail in the vessel, it would have been blown out of the bolt-rope in an instant; we had, therefore, to get her before the wind, by crossing a spar on the stump of the foremast, with four men at the wheel, one watch at the pumps, and, the other clearing the wreck. But our spirits were soon dashed, when the old carpenter, one of the coolest and bravest men in the ship, rose through the forehatch, pale as a ghost, with his white hairs streaming straight out in the wind. He did not speak to any of us, but clambered aft, towards the capstan, to which the Captain had lashed himself.

“The water is rushing in forward like a mill-stream, sir; we have either started a but, or the wreck of the foremast has gone through her bows, for she is fast settling down by the head.”

“Get the boatswain to father a sail then, man, and try it over the leak; but don’t alarm the people, Mr Kelson.”

The brig was, indeed, rapidly losing her buoyancy, and when the next heavy sea rose ahead of us, she gave a drunken sickening lurch, and pitched right into it, groaning and trembling in every plank, like a guilty and condemned thing in the prospect of impending punishment.

“Stand by, to heave the guns overboard.”

Too late, too late—Oh God, that cry!—I was stunned and drowning, a chaos of wreck was beneath me, and around me, and above me, and blue agonized gasping faces, and struggling arms, and colourless clutching hands, and despairing yells for help, where help was impossible; when I felt a sharp bite on the neck, and breathed again. My Newfoundland dog, Sneezer, had snatched at me, and dragged me out of the eddy of the sinking vessel.

For life, for dear life, nearly suffocated amidst—the hissing spray, we reached the cutter, the dog and his helpless master.

For three miserable days, I had been exposed, half naked and bareheaded, in an open boat, without water, or food, or shade. The third fierce cloudless West Indian noon was long passed, and once more the dry burning sun sank in the west, like a red-hot shield of iron. In my horrible extremity, I imprecated the wrath of Heaven on my defenceless head, and shaking my clenched hands against the brazen sky, I called aloud on the Almighty, “Oh, let me never see him rise again!” I glared on the noble dog, as he lay dying at the bottom of the boat; madness seized me, I tore his throat with my teeth, not for food, but that I might drink his hot blood it flowed, and vampire-like, I would have gorged myself; but as he turned his dull, grey, glazing eye on me, the pulses of my heart stopped, and I fell senseless.

When my recollection returned, I was stretched on some fresh plantain leaves, in a low smoky hut, with my faithful dog lying beside me, whining and licking my hands and face. On the rude joists that bound the rafters of the roof together, rested a light canoe with its paddles, and over against me, on the wall, hung some Indian fishing implements, and a long-barrelled Spanish gun. Underneath lay a corpse, wrapped in a boat-sail, on which was clumsily written, with charcoal,—“The body of John Deadeye, Esq. late Commander of his Britannic Majesty’s Sloop, Torch.”

There was a fire on the floor, at which Lieutenant Splinter, in his shirt and trowsers, drenched, unshorn, and deathlike, was roasting a joint of meat, whilst a dwarfish Indian, stark naked, sat opposite to him, squatting on his hams, more like a large bull-frog than a man, and fanning the flame with a palm leaf. In the dark corner of the hut half a dozen miserable sheep shrunk huddled together. Through the open door I saw the stars in the deep blue heaven, and the cold beams of the newly risen moon were dancing in a long flickering wake of silver light on the ever-heaving bosom of the ocean, whilst the melancholy murmur of the surf breaking on the shore, came booming on the gentle night-wind. I was instantly persuaded that I had been nourished during my delirium; for the fierceness of my sufferings was assuaged, and I was comparatively strong. I anxiously enquired of the Lieutenant the fate of our shipmates.

“All gone down in the old Torch; and had it not been for the launch and our four-footed friends there, I should not have been here to have told it; but raw mutton, with the wool on, is not a mess to thrive on, Tom. All that the sharks have left of the Captain and five sea men came ashore last night. I have buried the poor fellows on the beach where they lay as well as I could, with an oar-blade for a shovel, and the bronze ornament there [pointing to the Indian] for an assistant.”

Here he looked towards the body; and the honest fellow’s voice shook as he continued.

“But seeing you were alive, I thought if you did recover, it would be gratifying to both of us, after having weathered it so long with him through gale and sunshine, to lay the kind-hearted old man’s head on its everlasting pillow as decently as our forlorn condition permitted.”

As the Lieutenant spoke, Sneezer seemed to think his watch was up, and drew off towards the fire. Clung and famished, the poor brute could no longer resist the temptation, but, making a desperate snatch at the joint, bolted through the door with it, hotly pursued by the Bull-frog.

“Drop the leg of mutton, Sneezer,” roared the Lieutenant, “drop the mutton-drop it, sir, drop it, drop it.” And away raced his Majesty’s officer in pursuit of the canine pirate.

After a little, he and the Indian returned, the former with the joint in his hand; and presently the dog stole into the hut after them, and patiently lay down in a corner, until the Lieutenant good-humouredly threw the bone to him after our comfortless meal had been finished.

I was so weak that my shipmate considerately refrained from pressing his society on me; and we, therefore, all betook ourselves to rest for the night.



Your chief devil has got me into a terrible mess by a misprint in last Chapter—confound my cramp fist—regarding which Old Splinter (erst of the Torch,) has ever since quizzed me very nearly up to gunpowder mark.

To the matter—The said imp makes me say, in page 84, standing on the bowsprit, that “the spray from the stern was flashing over me, as it roared through the waste of sparkling and hissing waters.” Now, I don’t dispute the roaring of sterns-in season. But,—me, if you or any other man shall make Tom Cringle’s stern roar, out of season, on compulsion. I wrote STEM, the cutwater of the ship, the coulter as it were—the head of her, not the tail, as the devil would have it. And again, when the privateer hauls his wind suddenly to let the Torch shoot past him, and thereby gain the weather-gage, when old Splinter should sing out, as it was written—but, confound the fist once more “Give her the stem”—that is, run her down and sink her, the stem being the strongest part, as the stern is the weakest, he, Belzebub, judging, I presume, of the respective strength of the two ends from his own comparative anatomy, makes him say, “Give her the stern,” as if he were going to let drive at her with that end. “Poo, nonsense—it don’t signify.” But it does signify, old man.

To touch you more near—you yourself have been known to get fou and pugnacious on great occasions—the visit of royalty, for instance—it is on record. A mountain foreigner from Rossshire engages you, for some unknown insult, in single combat, and, leagued with John Barleycorn, (let us imagine an impossibility,) floors you by a peg on the gnomon—the wound is in the front—your snout is broken, but your honour is whole. Would it be so, were the Gael to allege, that “her mainsell had coupit you by a pig kick on her preach?” By all the gods, he of the laconic garment, the “thousand hill man,” would have been careering on a cloud after his “freen” Ossian, with the moon shining through him, within that very hour.

Still I would not have bothered you; but I know his Most Gracious Majesty King William, God bless him! (who can forget poor Burns’s “Tarry Breeks?”) either has noticed it, or will notice it, the instant he comes to that part of the Log. Now this, without explanation, is inconvenient, trowsers being likely to come as high up in these days as pantaloons, and I have some claim on him, seeing that my uncle, Job Cringle, some five-and-forty years ago, at Jamaica, in the town of Port Royal, had his headrails smashed, the neb of his nose (stem) bitten off by a bungo, and the end of his spine (stern-post), that mysterious point, where man ends, and monkey begins, grievously shaken in a spree at Kitty Finnans, in Prince William Henry’s company.

“Poo, nonsense.” Indeed!—Why, the very devil himself, the author of the evil, shall be convinced that there is much peril in the transposition of ends. I will ask him—“What is a sternutation?” (words being his weapons) “What is a sternutation?” He shall answer learnedly by the card—“A sneeze,” the nose or stem being the organ. Then he shall ask Jem Sparkle “What is a sternutation?”—You laugh, old gentleman; but your devil’s “mistack” looks every inch as queer to a sailor as our topman’s answer would sound to you.

Yours with all cordiality, notwithstanding,


CHAPTER IV.—Scenes on the Costa Firme.

     “Here lies a sheer hulk, poor Tom Bowline.”
     Charles Dibdin,

     “Tom Bowling,” Line 1.

I was awakened by the low growling, and short bark of the dog. The night was far spent; the tiny sparks of the fire-flies that were glancing in the doorway began to grow pale; the chirping of the crickets and lizards, and the snore of the tree-toad, waxed fainter, and the wild cry of the tiger-cat was no longer heard. The terral, or land-wind, which is usually strongest towards morning, moaned loudly on the hillside, and came rushing past with a melancholy sough, through the brushwood that surrounded the hut, shaking off the heavy dew from the palm and cocoa-nut trees, like large drops of rain.

The hollow tap of the woodpecker; the clear flute-note of the Pavo del monte; the discordant shriek of the macaw; the shrill chirr of the wild Guinea fowl; and the chattering of the paroquets, began to be heard from the wood. The ill-omened gaflinaso was sailing and circling round the hut, and the tall flamingo was stalking on the shallows of the lagoon, the haunt of the disgusting alligator, that lay beneath, divided from the sea by a narrow mud-bank, where a group of pelicans, perched on the wreck of one of our boats, were pluming themselves before taking wing. In the east, the deep blue of the firmament, from which the lesser stars were fast fading, all but the “Eye of Mom,” was warming into magnificent purple, and the amber rays of the yet unrisen sun were shooting up, streamer-like, with intervals between, through the parting clouds, as they broke away with a passing shower, that fell like a veil of silver gauze between us and the first primrose-coloured streaks of a tropical dawn.

“That’s a musket shot,” said the Lieutenant. The Indian crept on his belly to the door, dropped his chin on the ground, and placed his open palms behind his ears. The distant wail of a bugle was heard, then three or four dropping shots again, in rapid succession. Mr Splinter stooped to go forth, but the Indian caught him by the leg, uttering the single word “Espanoles.”

On the instant, a young Indian woman, with a shrieking infant in her arms, rushed to the door. There was a blue gunshot wound in her neck, from which two or three large black clotting gouts of blood were trickling. Her long black hair was streaming in coarse braids, and her features were pinched and sharpened, as if in the agony of death. She glanced wildly behind, and gasped out “Escapa, Oreeque, escape, para mi, soi muerto ya.” Another shot, and the miserable creature convulsively clasped her child, whose small shrill cry I often fancy I hear to this hour blending with its mother’s death-shriek, and, falling backwards, rolled over the brow of the hill out of sight. The ball had pierced the heart of the parent through the body of her offspring. By this time a party of Spanish soldiers had surrounded the hut, one of whom, kneeling before the low door, pointed his musket into it. The Indian, who had seen his wife and child thus cruelly shot down before his face, now fired his rifle, and the man feel dead. “Siga mi Querida Bondia—maldito.” Then springing to his feet, and stretching himself to his full height, with his arms extended towards Heaven, while a strong shiver shook him like an ague fit, he yelled forth the last words he ever uttered, “Venga la suerte, ya soi listo,” and resumed his squatting position on the ground.

Half a dozen musket balls were now fired at random through the wattles of the hut, while the Lieutenant, who spoke Spanish well, sung out lustily, that we were English officers who had been shipwrecked.

“Mentira,” growled the officer of the party, “Piratas son ustedes.” “Pirates leagued with Indian bravoes; fire the hut, soldiers, and burn the scoundrels!”

There was no time to be lost; Mr Splinter made a vigorous attempt to get out, in which I seconded him with all the strength that remained to me, but they beat us back again with the butts of their muskets.

“Where are your commissions, your uniforms, if you be British officers?” We had neither, and our fate appeared inevitable.

The doorway was filled with brushwood, fire was set to the hut, and we heard the crackling of the palm thatch, while thick stifling wreaths of white smoke burst in upon us through the roof.

“Lend a hand, Tom, now or never, and kick up the dark man there;” but he sat still as a statue. We laid our shoulders to the end wall, and heaved at it with all our might; when we were nearly at the last gasp it gave way, and we rushed headlong into the middle of the party, followed by Sneezer with his shaggy coat, that was full of clots of tar, blazing like a torch. He unceremoniously seized par le queue, the soldier who had throttled me, setting fire to the skirts of his coat, and blowing up his cartouche box. I believe, under Providence, that the ludicrousness of this attack saved us from being bayoneted on the spot. It gave time for Mr Splinter to recover his breath, when, being a powerful man, he shook off the two soldiers who had seized him, and dashed into the burning hut again. I thought he was mad, especially when I saw him return with his clothes and hair on fire, dragging out the body of the Captain. He unfolded the sail it was wrapped in, and pointing to the remains of the naval uniform in which the mutilated and putrefying corpse was dressed, he said sternly to the officer—“We are in your power, and you may murder us if you will; but that was my Captain four days ago, and you see, he at least was a British officer—satisfy yourself.” The person he addressed, a handsome young Spaniard, with a clear olive complexion, oval face, small brown mustaches, and large black eyes, shuddered at the horrible spectacle, but did as he was requested.

When he saw the crown and anchor, and his Majesty’s cipher on the appointments of the dead officer, he became convinced of our quality, and changed his tone—“Es verdad, son de la marina Englesa. But, gentlemen, were there not three persons in the hut?”

There were indeed—the flames had consumed the dry roof and walls with incredible rapidity, which by this time had fallen in, but Oreeque was nowhere to be seen. I thought I saw something move in the midst of the fire, but it might have been fancy. Again, the white ashes heaved, and a half-consumed hand and arm were thrust through the smouldering mass, then a human head, with the scalp burnt from the skull, and the flesh from the chaps and cheekbones; the trunk next appeared, the bleeding ribs laid bare, and the miserable Indian, with his limbs like scorched rafters, stood upright before us, like a demon in the midst of the fire. He made no attempt to escape, but reeling to and fro like a drunken man, fell headlong, raising clouds of smoke and a shower of sparks in his fall. Alas! poor Oreeque, the newly risen sun was now shining on your ashes, and on the dead bodies of the ill-starred Bondia and her child, whose bones, ere his setting, the birds of the air, and beasts of the forest, will leave as white and fleshless as your own. The officer, who belonged to the army investing Carthagena, now treated us with great civility; he heard our story, and desired his men to assist us in burying the remains of our late commander.

We remained all day on the same part of the coast, but towards evening the party fell back on the outpost to which they belonged—after travelling an hour or so we emerged from a dry river course, in which the night had overtaken us, and came suddenly on a small plateau, where the post was established on the promontory of “Punto Canoa.” There may be braver soldiers at a charge, although that I doubt, if they be properly led, but none more picturesque in a bivouac than the Spanish. A gigantic wild cotton-tree, to which our largest English oaks would have been but as dwarfs, rose on one side, and overshadowed the whole level space. The bright beams of the full moon glanced among the topmost leaves, and tipped the higher branches with silver, contrasting strangely with the scene below, where a large watch-fire cast a strong red glare on the surrounding objects, throwing up dense volumes of smoke, which eddied in dun wreaths amongst the foliage, and hung in the still night air like a canopy, about ten feet from the ground, leaving the space beneath comparatively clear.

A temporary guard-house, with a rude verandah of bamboos and palm leaves, had been built between two of the immense spurs of the mighty tree, that shot out many yards from the parent stem like wooden buttresses, whilst overhead there was a sort of stage, made of planks laid across the lower boughs, supporting a quantity of provisions covered with tarpaulins. The sentries in the background with their glancing arms, were seen pacing on their watch; some of the guard were asleep on wooden benches, and on the platform amongst the branches, where a little baboon-looking old man, in the dress of a drummer, had perched himself, and sat playing a Biscayan air on a sort of bagpipe; others were gathered round the fire, cooking their food, or cleaning their arms. It shone brightly on the long line of Spanish transports that were moored below, stem on to the beach, and on the white sails of the armed craft that were still hovering under weigh in the offing, which, as the night wore on, stole in, one after another like phantoms of the ocean, and letting go their anchors with a splash, and a hollow rattle of the cable, remained still and silent like the rest. Farther off, it fell in a crimson stream on the surface of the sheltered bay, struggling with the light of the gentle moon, and tinging with blood the small waves that twinkled in her silver wake, across which a guard boat would now and then glide, like a fairy thing, the arms of the men flashing back the red light.

Beyond the influence of the hot smoky glare, the glorious planet reassumed her sway in the midst of her attendant stars, and the relieved eye wandered forth into the lovely night, where the noiseless sheet-lightning was glancing, and ever and anon lighting up for an instant some fantastic shape in the fleecy clouds, like prodigies forerunning the destruction of the stronghold over which they impended; while beneath, the lofty ridge of the convent-crowned Popa, the citadel of San Felipe bristling with cannon, the white batteries and many towers of the fated city of Carthagena, and the Spanish blockading squadron at anchor before it, slept in the moonlight.

We were civilly received by the captain, who apologized for the discomfort under which we must pass the night. He gave us the best he had, and that was bad enough, both of food and wine, before showing us into the hut, where we found a rough deal coffin lying on the very bench that was to be our bed. This he ordered away with all the coolness in the world. “It was only one of his people who had died that morning of vomito, or yellow fever.”

“Comfortable country this,” quoth Splinter, “and a pleasant morning we have had of it, Tom!”

Next morning, we proceeded towards the Spanish headquarters, provided with horses through the kindness of the captain of the outpost, and preceded by a guide on an ass. He was a moreno, or man of colour, who in place of bestriding his beast, gathered his limbs under him, and sat crosslegged on it like a tailor; so that when you saw the two “end on,” the effect was laughable enough, the flank and tail of the ass appearing to constitute the lower part of the man, as if he had been a sort of composite animal, like the ancient satyr. The road traversed a low swampy country, from which the rank moisture arose in a hot palpable mist, and crossed several shallow lagoons, from two to six feet deep of tepid, muddy, brackish water, some of them half a mile broad, and swarming with wild waterfowl. On these occasions, our friend the Satyr was signalled to make sail ahead on his donkey to pilot us; and as the water deepened, he would betake himself to swimming in its wake, holding on by the tail, and shouting, “Cuidado Burrico, Cuidado que no te ahogas.”

While passing through the largest of these, we noticed several calabashes about pistol-shot on our right; and as we fancied one of them bobbed now and then it struck me they might be Indian fishing floats. To satisfy my curiosity, I hauled my wind, and leaving the track we were on, swam my horse towards the group. The two first that I lifted had nothing attached to them, but proved to be mere empty gourds floating before the wind; but when I tried to seize the largest, it eluded my grasp in a most incomprehensible manner, and slid away astern of me with a curious hollow gabbling sort of noise, whereupon my palfrey snorted and reared, and nearly capsized me over his bows. What a noble fish, thought I, as I tacked in chase, but my Bucephalus refused to face it. I therefore bore up to join my companions again; but in requital of the disappointment, smashed the gourd in passing with the stick I held in my hand, when, to my unutterable surprise, and amidst shouts of laughter from our moreno, the head and shoulders of an Indian, with a quantity of sedges tied round his neck, and buoyed up by half-a-dozen dead teal fastened by the legs to his girdle, started up before me. “Ave Maria, purissima! you have broken my head, senior.” But as the vegetable helmet had saved his skull, of itself possibly none of the softest, a small piece of money spliced the feud between us; and as he fitted his pate with another calabash, preparatory to resuming his cruise, he joined in our merriment, although from a different cause.—“What can these English simpletons see so very comical in a poor Indian catching wild-ducks?”

Shortly after, we entered a forest of magnificent trees, whose sombre shade, on first passing from the intolerable glare of the sun, seemed absolute darkness. The branches were alive with innumerable tropical birds and insects, and were laced together by a thick tracery of withes, along which a guana would occasionally dart, coming nearest of all the reptiles I had seen to the shape of the fabled dragon.

But how different from the clean steams and beautiful green sward of our English woods! Here, you were confined to a quagmire by impervious underwood of prickly pear, penguin, and speargrass; and when we rode under the drooping branches of the trees, that the leaves might brush away the halo of musquittoes, flying ants, and other winged plagues that buzzed about our temples, we found, to our dismay, that we had made bad worse by the introduction of a whole colony of garapatos, or wood-ticks, into our eyebrows and hair. At length, for the second time, so far as I was concerned, we reached the reached the headquarters at Torrecilla, and were well received by the Spanish commander-in-chief, a tall, good-looking, soldierlike man, whose personal qualities had an excellent foil in the captain-general of the province, an old friend of mine, as already mentioned, and who certainly looked full as like a dancing-master, or, at the best, perruquier en general to the staff, as a viceroy.

General Morillo, however, had a great share of Sancho Panza shrewdness, and I will add kindness, about him. We were drenched and miserable when we arrived, yet he might have turned us over, naturally enough, to the care of his staff. No such thing; the first thing he did was to walk both of us behind a canvass screen, that shut off one end of the large barnlike room, where a long table was laid for dinner. This was his sleeping apartment, and drawing out of a leather bag two suits of uniform, he rigged us almost with his own hands. Presently a point of war was sounded by half-a-dozen trumpeters, and Splinter and I made our appearance each in the dress of a Spanish general. The party consisted of Morillo’s personal staff, the captain-general, the inquisidor general, and several colonels and majors of different regiments. In all, twenty people sat down to dinner; among whom were several young Spanish noblemen, some of whom I had met on my former visit, who, having served in the Peninsular war under the great Duke, made their advances with great cordiality. Strange enough—Splinter and I were the only parties present in uniform; all the others, priests and soldiers, were clothed in gingham coats and white trowsers.

The besieging force at this time was composed of about five thousand Spaniards, as fine troops as I ever saw, and three thousand Creoles under the command of that desperate fellow Morales. I was not long in recognising an old friend of mine in the person of Captain Bayer, an aide-de-camp of Morillo, amongst the company. He was very kind and attentive, and rather startled me by speaking very tolerable English now, from a kindly motive I make no question, whereas, when I had known him before in Kingston, he professed to speak nothing but Spanish or French. He was a German by birth, and lived to rise to the rank of colonel in the Spanish army, where he subsequently greatly distinguished himself, but he at length fell in some obscure skirmish in New Granada; and my old ally Morillo, Count of Carthagena, is now living in penury, an exile in Paris.

After being, as related, furnished with food and raiment, we retired to our quatres, a most primitive sort of couch, being a simple wooden frame, with a piece of canvass stretched over it. However, if we had no mattresses, we had none of the disagreeables often incidental to them, and, fatigue proved a good opiate, for we slept soundly until the drums and trumpets of the troops, getting under arms, awoke us at daylight. The army was under weigh to occupy Carthagena, which had fallen through famine, and we had no choice but to accompany it.

I knew nothing of the misery of a siege but by description; the reality even to me, case-hardened as I was by my own recent sufferings, was dreadful. We entered by the gate of the raval, or suburb. There was not a living thing to be seen in the street; the houses had been pulled down, that the fire of the place might not be obstructed in the event of a lodgment in the outwork. We passed on, the military music echoing mournfully amongst the ruined walls, to the main gate, or Puerto de Tiera, which was also open, and the drawbridge lowered. Under the archway, we saw a delicate female, worn to the bone, and weak as an infant, gathering garbage of the most loathsome description, the possession of which had been successfully disputed by a carrion crow. A little farther on, the bodies of an old man and two small children were putrefying in the sun, while beside them lay a miserable, wasted, dying negro, vainly endeavouring to keep at a distance with a palm branch a number of the same obscene birds that were already devouring the carcass of one of the infants; before two hours, the faithful servant, and those he attempted to defend, were equally the prey of the disgusting gallinaso. The houses, as we proceeded, appeared entirely deserted, except where a solitary spectre like inhabitant appeared at a balcony, and feebly exclaimed, “Viva, los Espanoles! Viva, Fernando Septimo!”—We saw no domestic animal whatsoever, not even a cat or a dog; but I will not dwell on these horrible details any longer.

One morning, shortly after our arrival, as we strolled beyond the land gate, we came to a place where four banquillos (a sort of short bench or stool, with an upright post at one end firmly fixed into the ground) were placed opposite a dead wall. They were painted black, and we were not left long in suspense as to their use; for solemn music, and the roll of muffled drums in the distance, were fearful indications of what we were to witness.

First came an entire regiment of Spanish infantry, which, filing off, formed three sides of a square,—the wall near which the banquillos were placed forming the fourth; then eight priests, and as many choristers chanting the service for the dying; next came several mounted officers of the staff, and four firing parties of twelve men each. Three Spanish American prisoners followed, dressed in white, with crucifixes in their hands, each supported, more dead than alive, by two priests; but when the fourth victim appeared, we could neither look at nor think of any thing else.

On enquiry we found he was an Englishman, of the name of S——: English, that is, in all except the place of his birth, for his whole education had been English, as were his parents and all his family; but it came out, accidentally I believe, on his trial, that he had been born at Buenos Ayres, and having joined the patriots, this brought treason home to him, which he was now led forth to expiate. Whilst his fellow-sufferers appeared crushed down to the very earth, under their intense agony, so that they had to be supported as they tottered towards the place of execution, he stepped firmly and manfully out, and seemed impatient when at any time, from the crowding in front, the procession was obliged to halt. At length they reached the fatal spot, and his three companions in misery being placed astride on the banquillos, their arms twisted round the upright posts, and fastened to them with cords, their backs being towards the soldiers. Mr S——walked firmly up to the vacant bench, knelt down, and covering his face with his hands, rested his head on the edge of it. For a brief space he seemed to be engaged in prayer, during which he sobbed audibly, but soon recovering himself, he rose, and folding his arms across his breast, sat down slowly and deliberately on the banquillo, facing the firing party with an unshrinking eye.

He was now told that he must turn his back and submit to be tied like the others. He resisted this, but on force being attempted to be used, he sprung to his feet, and stretching out his hand, while a dark red flush passed transiently across his pale face, he exclaimed in a loud voice, “Thus, thus, and not otherwise, you may butcher me, but I am an Englishman and no traitor, nor will I die the death of one.” Moved by his gallantry, the soldiers withdrew, and left him standing. At this time the sun was intensely hot, it was high noon, and the monk who attended Mr S——held an umbrella over his head; but the preparations being completed, he kissed him on both cheeks, while the hot tears trickled down his own, and was stepping back, when the unhappy man said to him, with the most perfect composure, “Todavia padre, todavia, mucho me gusta la sombra.” But the time had arrived, the kind-hearted monk was obliged to retire. The signal was given, the musketry rattled, and they were as clods of the valley “Truly,” quoth old Splinter, “a man does sometimes become a horse by being born in a stable.”

Some time after this we were allowed to go to the village of Turbaco, a few miles distant from the city, for change of air. On the third morning after our arrival, about the dawning, I was suddenly awakened by a shower of dust on my face, and a violent shaking of the bed, accompanied by a low grumbling unearthly noise, which seemed to pass immediately under where I lay. Were I to liken it to any thing I had ever experienced before, it would be to the lumbering and tremor of a large waggon in a tempestuous night, heard and felt through the thin walls of a London house.—Like—yet how fearfully different!

In a few seconds the motion ceased, and the noise gradually died away in hollow echoes in the distance—whereupon ensued such a crowing of cocks, cackling of geese, barking of dogs, lowing of kine, neighing of horses, and shouting of men, women, and children amongst the negro and coloured domestics, as baffles all description, whilst the various white inmates of the house (the rooms, for air and coolness, being without ceiling, and simply divided by partitions run up about ten feet high) were, one and all, calling to their servants and each other, in accents which did not by any means evince great composure. In a moment this hubbub again sank into the deepest silence—man, and the beasts of the field, and the fowls of the air, became mute with breathless awe, at the impending tremendous manifestation of the power of that Almighty Being in whose hands the hills are as a very little thing—for the appalling voice of the earthquake was once more heard growling afar off, like distant thunder mingling with the rushing of a mighty wind, waxing louder and louder as it approached, and upheaving the sure and firm-set earth into long undulations, as if its surface had been the rolling swell of the fathomless ocean. The house rocked, pictures of saints fell from the walls, tables and chairs were overturned, the window frames were forced out of their embrasures and broken in pieces, beams and rafters groaned and screamed, crushing the tiles of the roof into ten thousand fragments. In several places the ground split open into chasms a fathom wide, with an explosion like a cannon-shot; the very foundation of the house seemed to be sinking under us; and whilst men and women rushed like maniacs naked into the fields, with a yell as if the Day of Judgment had arrived, and the whole brute creation, in an agony of fear, made the most desperate attempts to break forth from their enclosures into the open air, the end wall of my apartment was shaken down; and falling outwards with a deafening crash, disclosed, in the dull grey mysterious twilight of morning, the huge gnarled trees that overshadowed the building, bending and groaning, amidst clouds of dust, as if they had been tormented by a tempest, although the air was calm and motionless as death.

CHAPTER V.—The Piccaroon

     “Ours the wild life in tumult still to range.”
     Byron, The Corsair, I. 7.

Some time after this, we once more returned to Carthagena, to be at hand should any opportunity occur for Jamaica, and we were lounging about one forenoon on the fortifications, looking with sickening hearts out to seaward, when a voice struck up the following negro ditty close to us:

     “Fader was a Corramantee,
     Moder was a Mingo,
     Black picaniny buccra wantee,
     So dem sell a me Peter, by jingo,
     Jiggery, jiggery, jiggery.”

“Well sung, Massa Bungo,” exclaimed Mr Splinter; “where do you hail from, my hearty?”

“Hiflo! Bungo, indeed! free and easy dat, anyhow. Who you yousef, eh?”

“Why, Peter,” continued the Lieutenant, “don’t you know me?” “Cannot say dat I do,” rejoined the negro, very gravely, without lifting his head, as he sat mending his jacket in one of the embrasures near the water gate of the arsenal—“Have not de honour of your acquaintance, sir.”

He then resumed his scream, for song it could not be called:—

     “Mammy Sally’s daughter,
     Lose him shoe in an old canoe,
     Dat lay halffull of water,
     And den she knew not what to do.
     Jiggery, jig”—

“Confound your jiggery, jiggery, sir! But I know you well enough, my man; and you can scarcely have forgotten Lieutenant Splinter of the Torch, one would think?”

However, it was clear that the poor fellow really had not known us; for the name so startled him, that, in his hurry to unlace his legs from under him, as he sat tailor-fashion, he fairly capsized out of his perch, and toppled down on his nose—a feature fortunately so flattened by the hand of nature, that I question if it could have been rendered more obtuse had he fallen out of the maintop on a timber-head, or a marine officer’s.

“Eh!—no—yes, him sure enough; and who is de picaniny hofficer—Oh! I see, Massa Tom Cringle? Garamighty, gentlemen, where have you drop from?—Where is de old Torch? Many a time hab I Peter Mangrove, pilot to Him Britanic Majesty squadron, taken de old brig in and through amongst de keys at Port Royal!”

“Ay, and how often did you scour her copper against the coral reefs, Peter?”

His Majesty’s pilot gave a knowing look, and laid his hand on his breast “No more of dat if you love me, massa.”

“Well, well, it don’t signify now, my boy; she will never give you that trouble again—foundered—all hands lost, Peter, but the two you see before you.”

“Werry sorry, Massa Plinter, werry sorry—What! de black cooksmate and all?—But misfortune can’t be help. Stop till I put up my needle, and I will take a turn wid you.” Here he drew himself up with a great deal of absurd gravity. “Proper dat British hofficer in distress should assist one anoder—We shall consult togeder.—How can I serve you?”

“Why, Peter, if you could help us to a passage to Port Royal, it would be serving us most essentially. When we used to be lying there, a week seldom passed without one of the squadron arriving from this; but here have we been for more than a month, without a single pennant belonging to the station having looked in: our money is running short, and if we are to hold on in Carthagena for another six weeks, we shall not have a shot left in the locker—not a copper to tinkle on a tombstone.”

The negro looked steadfastly at us, then carefully around. There was no one near.

“You see, Massa Plinter, I am desirable to serve you, for one little reason of my own; but, beside dat, it is good for me at present to make some friend wid de hofficer of de squadron, being as how dat I am absent widout leave.”

“Oh, I perceive—a large R against your name in the master attendant’s books, eh?”

“You have hit it, sir, werry close; besides I long mosh to return to my poor wife, Nancy Cator, dat I leave, wagabone dat I is, just about to be confine.”

I could not resist putting in my oar.

“I saw Nancy just before we sailed, Peter,—fine child that; not quite so black as you, though.”

“Oh, massa,” said Snowball, grinning and showing his white teeth, “you know I am soch a terrible black fellow—But you are a leetle out at present, massa—I meant, about to be confine in de workhouse, for stealing de admiral’s Muscovy ducks;” and he laughed loud and long.—“However, if you will promise dat you will stand my friends, I will put you in de way of getting a shove across to de east end of Jamaica; and I will go wid you, too, for company.”

“Thank you,” rejoined Mr Splinter; “but how do you mean to manage this? There is no Kingston trader here at present, and you don’t mean to make a start of it in an open boat, do you?”

“No, sir, I don’t; but in de first place—as you are a gentleman, will you try and get me off when we get to Jamaica? Secondly, wi you promise dat you will not seek to know more of de vessel you may go in, nor of her crew, than dey are willing to tell you, provided you are landed safe?”

“Why, Peter, I scarcely think you would deceive us, for you know I saved your bacon in that awkward affair, when through drunkenness you plumped the Torch ashore, so”—

“Forget dat, sir,——forget dat!—Never shall poor black pilot forget how you saved him from being seized upt when de gratings, boatswain’s mates, and all, were ready at de gangway@never shall poor black rascal forget dat.”

“Indeed I do not think you would wittingly betray us into trouble, Peter; and as I guess you mean one of the forced traders, we will venture in her, rather than kick about here any longer, and pay a moderate sum for our passage.”

“Den wait here five minute,”—and so saying he slipt down through the embrasure into a canoe that lay beneath, and in a trice we saw him jump on board of a long low nondescript kind of craft, that lay moored within pistol-shot of the walls.

She was a large shallow vessel, coppered to the bends, of great breadth of beam, with bright sides, like an American, so painted as to give her a clumsy mercantile sheer externally, but there were many things that belied this to a nautical eye: her copper, for instance, was bright as burnished gold on her very sharp bows and beautiful run; and we could see from the bastion where we stood, that her decks were flush and level. She had no cannon mounted that were visible, but we distinguished grooves on her well-scrubbed decks, as from the recent traversing of carronade slides, while the bolts and rings in her high and solid bulwarks shone clear and bright in the ardent noontide. There was a tarpawling stretched over a quantity of rubbish, old sails, old junk, and hencoops rather ostentatiously piled up forward, which we conjectured might conceal a long gun.

She was a very taught-rigged hermaphrodite, or brig forward and schooner aft. Her foremast and bowsprit were immensely strong and heavy, and her mainmast was so long and tapering, that the wonder was, how the few shrouds and stays about it could support it: it was the handsomest stick we had ever seen. Her upper spars were on the same scale, tapering away through topmast, topgallant-mast, royal and skysail-masts, until they fined away into slender wands. The sails, that were loose to dry, were old, and patched, And evidently displayed to cloak the character of the vessel, by an ostentatious show of their unserviceable condition, but her rigging was beautifully fitted, every rope lying in the chafe of another being carefully served with hide. There were several large bushy-whiskered fellows lounging about the deck, with their hair gathered into dirty net bags, like the fishermen of Barcelona; many had red silk sashes round their waists, through which were stuck their long knives, in shark-skin sheaths. Their numbers were not so great as to excite suspicion; but a certain daring reckless manner, would at once have distinguished them, independently of any thing else, from the quiet, hard-worked, redshirted merchant seaman.

“That chap is not much to be trusted,” said the Lieutenant; “his bunting would make a few jackets for Joseph, I take it.” But we had little time to be critical before our friend Peter came paddling back with another blackamoor in the stem, of as ungainly an exterior as could well be, imagined. He was a very large man, whose weight every now and then, as they breasted the short sea, cocked up the snout of the canoe with Peter Mangrove in it, as if he had been a cork, leaving him to flourish his paddle in the air, like the weatherwheel of a steam-boat in a sea-way. The new-comer was strong and broad-shouldered, with long muscular arms, and a chest like Hercules; but his legs and thighs were, for his bulk, remarkably puny and misshapen. A thick fell of black wool, in close tufts, as if his face had been stuck full of cloves, covered his chin and upper lip; and his hair, if hair it could be called, was twisted into a hundred short plaits, that bristled out, and gave his head, when he took his hat off, the appearance of a porcupine. There was a large sabre-cut across his nose, and down his cheek, and he wore two immense gold earings. His dress consisted of short cotton drawers, that did not reach within two inches of his knee, leaving his thin cucumber shanks (on which the small bullet-like calf appeared to have been stuck before, through mistake, in place of abaft) naked to the shoe; a check shirt, and an enormously large Panama hat, made of a sort of cane, split small, and worn shovel-fashion. Notwithstanding, he made his bow by no means ungracefully, and offered his services in choice Spanish, but spoke English as soon as he heard who we were.

“Pray, sir, are you the master of that vessel?” said the lieutenant.

“No, sir, I am the mate, and I learn you are desirous of a passage to Jamaica.” This was spoken with a broad Scotch accent.

“Yes, we are,” said I, in very great astonishment; “but we will not sail with the devil; and who ever saw a negro Scotchman before, the spirit of Nicol Jarvie conjured into a blackamoor’s skin!”

The fellow laughed. “I am black, as you see; so were my father and mother before me.” And he looked at me, as much as to say, I have read the book you quote from. “But I was born in the good town of Port—Glasgow, notwithstanding, and many a voyage I have made as cabin-boy and cook, in the good ship the Peggy Bogle, with worthy old jock Hunter; but that matters not. I was told you wanted to go to Jamaica; I dare say our captain will take you for a moderate passage-money. But here he comes to speak for himself.—Captain Vanderbosh, here are two shipwrecked British officers, who wish to be put on shore on the east end of Jamaica; will you take them, and what will you charge for their passage?”

The man he spoke to was nearly as tall as himself; he was a sunburnt, angular, raw-boned, iron-visaged veteran, with a nose in shape and colour like the bowl of his own pipe, but not at all, according to the received idea, like a Dutchman. His dress was quizzicaly enough, white trowsers, a long-flapped embroidered waistcoat, that might have belonged to a Spanish grandee, with an old-fashioned French-cut coat, showing the frayed marks where the lace had been stripped off, voluminous in the skirts, but very tight in the sleeves, which were so short as to leave his large bony paws, and six inches of his arm above the wrist, exposed; altogether, it fitted him like a purser’s shirt on a handspike.

“Vy, for von hondred thaler, I will land dem safe in Mancheoneal Bay; but how shall ve manage, Villiamson? De cabin vas point yesterday.”

The Scotch negro nodded. “Never mind; I dare say the smell of the paint won’t signify to the gentlemen.”

The bargain was ratified, we agreed to pay the stipulated sum, and that same evening, having dropped down with the last of the seabreeze, we set sail from Bocca Chica, and began working up under the lee of the headland of Punto Canoa. When off the San Domingo Gate, we burned a blue light, which was immediately answered by another in shore of us. In the glare, we could perceive two boats, full of men. Any one who has ever played at snapdragon, can imagine the unearthly appearance of objects when seen by this species of firework. In the present instance, it was held aloft on a boat-hook, and cast a strong spectral light on the band of lawless ruffians, who were so crowded together, that they entirely filled the boats, no part of which could be seen. It seemed as if two clusters of fiends, suddenly vomited forth from hell, were floating on the surface of the midnight sea, in the midst of brimstone flames. In a few moments, our crew was strengthened by about forty as ugly Christians as I ever set eyes on. They were of all ages, countries, complexions, and tongues, and looked as if they had been kidnapped by a pressgang, as they had knocked off from the Tower of Babel. From the moment they came on board, Captain Vanderbosh was shorn of all his glory, and sank into the petty officer, while, to our amazement, the Scottish negro took the command, evincing great coolness, energy, and skill. He ordered the schooner to be wore, as soon as we had shipped the men, and laid her head off the land, then set all hands to shift the old suit of sails, and to bend new ones.

“Why did you not shift your canvass before we started?” said I to the Dutch captain, or mate, or whatever he might be.

“Vy vont you be content to take a quiet passage and hax no question?” was the uncivil rejoinder, which I felt inclined to resent, until I remembered that we were in the hands of the Philistines, where a quarrel would have been worse than useless. I was gulping down the insult as well as I could, when the black captain came-aft, and, with the air of an equal, invited us into the cabin to take a glass of grog. We had scarcely sat down before we heard a noise like the swaying up of guns, or some other heavy articles, from the hold.

I caught Mr Splinter’s eye—he nodded, but said nothing. In half an hour afterwards, when we went on deck, we saw by the light of the moon, twelve eighteen-pound carronades mounted, six of a side, with their accompaniments of rammers and sponges, water buckets, boxes of round, grape, and canister, and tubs of wadding, while the combings of the hatchways were thickly studded with round shot. The tarpawling and lumber forward had disappeared, and there lay long Tom ready levelled, grinning on his pivot.

The ropes were all coiled away, and laid down in regular man-of-war fashion; while an ugly gruff beast of a Spanish mulatto, apparently the officer of the watch, walked the weather-side of the quarter-deck, in the true pendulum style. Look-outs were placed aft, and at the gangways and bows, who every now and then passed the word to keep a bright look-out, while the rest of the watch were stretched silent, but evidently broad awake, under the lee of the boat. We noticed that each man had his cutlass buckled round his waist, that the boarding-pikes had been cut loose from the main boom, round which they had been stopped, and that about thirty muskets were ranged along a fixed-rack, that ran athwart ships, near the main hatchway.

By the time we had reconnoitred thus far, the night became overcast, and a thick bank of clouds began to rise to windward; some heavy drops of rain fell, and the thunder grumbled at a distance. The black veil crept gradually on, until it shrouded the whole firmament, and left us in as dark a night as ever poor devils were out in. By and by, a narrow streak of bright moonlight appeared under the lower edge of the bank, defining the dark outlines of the tumbling multitudinous billows on the horizon, as distinctly as if they had been pasteboard waves in a theatre.

“Is that a sail to windward, in the clear, think you?” said Mr Splinter to me in a whisper. At this moment it lightened vividly. “I am sure it is,” continued he—“I could see her white canvass glance just now.”

I looked steadily, and, at last, caught the small dark speck against the bright background, rising and falling on the swell of the sea like a feather.

As we stood on, she was seen more distinctly, but, to all appearance, nobody was aware of her proximity. We were mistaken in this, however, for the captain suddenly jumped on a gun, and gave his orders with a fiery energy that startled us.

“Leroux!” A small French boy was at his side in a moment. “Forward, and call all hands to shorten sail; but, doucement, you land crab!—Man the fore clew-garnets.—Hands by the topgallant clewlines-peak and throat haulyards—jib down-haul—rise tacks and sheets—let go—clew up—settle away the main—gaff there!”

In almost as short a space as I have taken to write it, every inch of canvass was close furled—every light, except the one in the binnacle, and that was cautiously masked, carefully extinguished—a hundred and twenty men at quarters, and the ship under bare poles. The head yards were then squared, and we bore up before the wind. The stratagem proved successful; the strange sail could be seen through the night glasses, cracking on close to the wind, evidently under the impression that we had tacked.

“Dere she goes, chasing de Gobel,” said the Dutchman.

She now burned a blue light, by which we saw she was a heavy cutter without doubt our old fellow-cruiser the Spark. The Dutchman had come to the same conclusion.

“My eye, Captain, no use to dodge from her; it is only dat footy little King’s cutter on de Jamaica station.”

“It is her, true enough,” answered Williamson; “and she is from Santa Martha with a freight of specie, I know. I will try a brush with her by....”

Splinter struck in before he could finish his irreverent exclamation. “If your conjecture be true, I know the craft—a heavy vessel of her class, and you may depend on hard knocks, and small profit if you do take her; while, if she takes you”—

“I’ll be hanged if she does”—and he grinned at the conceit—then setting his teeth hard, “or rather, I will blow the schooner up with my own hand before I strike; better that than have one’s bones bleached in chains on a key at Port Royal.—But, you see you cannot control us, gentlemen; so get down into the cable tier and take Peter Mangrove with you. I would not willingly see those come to harm who have trusted me.”

However, there was no shot flying as yet, we therefore staid on deck. All sail was once more made; the carronades were cast loose on both sides, and double-shotted; the long gun slewed round; the tack of the fore-and-aft foresail hauled up, and we kept by the wind, and stood after the cutter, whose white canvass we could still see through the gloom like a snow-wreath.

As soon as she saw us she tacked and stood towards us, and came bowling along gallantly, with the water roaring and flashing at her bows. As the vessels neared each other, they both shortened sail, and finding that we could not weather her, we steered close under her lee.

As we crossed on opposite tacks her commander hailed, “Ho, the brigantine, ahoy!”

“Hillo!” sung out Blackie, as he backed his maintopsail.

“What schooner is that?”

“The Spanish schooner Caridad.”

“Whence, and whither bound?”

“Carthagena to Porto Rico.”

“Heave-to, and send your boat on board.”

“We have none that will swim, sir.”

“Very well—bring-to, and I will send mine.”

“Call away the boarders,” said our captain, in a low stern tone; “let them crouch out of sight behind the boat.”

The cutter wore, and hove-to under our lee quarter, within pistol shot. We heard the rattle of the ropes running through the davit blocks, and the splash of the jolly boat touching the water, then the measured stroke of the oars, as they glanced like silver in the sparkling sea, and a voice calling out, “Give way, my lads.”

The character of the vessel we were on board of was now evident; and the bitter reflection that we were chained to the stake on board of a pirate, on the eve of a fierce contest with one of our own cruisers, was aggravated by the consideration that the cutter had fallen into a snare, by which a whole boat’s crew would be sacrificed before a shot was fired.

I watched my opportunity as she pulled up alongside, and called out, leaning well over the nettings, “Get back to your ship! treachery! get back to your ship!”

The little French serpent was at my side with the speed of thought, his long clear knife glancing in one hand, while the fingers of the other were laid on his lips. He could not have said more plainly, “Hold your tongue or I’ll cut your throat;” but Sneezer now startled him by rushing between us, and giving a short angry growl.

The officer in the boat had heard me imperfectly; he rose up—“I won’t go back, my good man, until I see what you are made of; and as he spoke he sprung on board, but the instant he got over the bulwarks he was caught by two strong hands, gagged and thrown bodily down the main hatchway.

“Heave,” cried a voice, “and with a will!” and four cold 32-pound shot were hove at once into the boat alongside, which crashing through her bottom, swamped her in a moment, precipitating the miserable crew into the boiling sea. Their shrieks still ring in my ears as they clung to the oars and some loose planks of the boat.

“Bring up the officer, and take out the gag,” said Williamson.

Poor Walcolm, who had been an old messmate of mine, was now dragged to the gangway half-naked, his face bleeding, and heavily ironed, when the blackamoor, clapping a pistol to his head, bid him, as he feared instant death, hail “that the boat had swamped under the counter, and to send another.” The poor fellow, who appeared stunned and confused, did so, but without seeming to know what he said.

“Good God,” said Mr Splinter, “don’t you mean to pick up the boat’s crew?”

The blood curdled to my heart as the black savage answered in a voice of thunder, “Let them drown and be d——d! fill, and stand on!”

But the clouds by this time broke away, and the mild moon shone clear and bright once more, upon this scene of most atrocious villainy. By her light the cutter’s people could see that there was no one struggling in the water now, and that the people must either have been saved, or were past all earthly aid; but the infamous deception was not entirely at an end.

The captain of the cutter, seeing we were making sail, did the same, and after having shot ahead of us, hailed once more.

“Mr Walcolm, why don’t you run to leeward, and heave-to, sir?”

“Answer him instantly, and hail again for another boat,” said the sable fiend, and cocked his pistol.

The click went to my heart. The young midshipman turned his pale mild countenance, laced with his blood, upwards towards the moon and stars, as one who had looked his last look on earth; the large tears were flowing down his cheeks, and mingling with the crimson streaks, and a flood of silver light fell on the fine features of the poor boy, as he said firmly, “Never.” The miscreant fired, and he fell dead.

“Up with the helm, and wear across her stern.” The order was obeyed. “Fire!” The whole broadside was poured in, and we could hear the shot rattle and tear along the cutter’s deck, and the shrieks and groans of the wounded, while the white splinters glanced away in all directions.

We now ranged alongside, and close action commenced, and never do I expect to see such an infernal scene again. Up to this moment there had been neither confusion nor noise on board the pirate—all had been coolness and order; but when the yards locked, the crew broke loose from all control they ceased to be men they were demons, for they threw their own dead and wounded, as they were mown down like grass by the cutter’s grape, indiscriminately down the hatchways to get clear of them. They had stript themselves almost naked; and although they fought with the most desperate courage, yelling and cursing, each in his own tongue, most hideously, yet their very numbers, pent up in a small vessel, were against them. At length, amidst the fire, and smoke, and hellish uproar, we could see that the deck had become a very shambles; and unless they soon carried the cutter by boarding, it was clear that the coolness and discipline of my own glorious service must prevail, even against such fearful odds, the superior size of the vessel, greater number of guns, and heavier metal. The pirates seemed aware of this themselves, for they now made a desperate attempt forward to carry their antagonist by boarding, led on by the black captain. Just at this moment, the cutter’s main-boom fell across the schooner’s deck, close to where we were sheltering ourselves from the shot the best way we could; and while the rush forward was being made, by a sudden impulse Splinter and I, followed by Peter and the dog, (who with wonderful sagacity, seeing the uselessness of resistance, had cowered quietly by my side during the whole row) scrambled along it as the cutter’s people were repelling the attack on her bow, and all four of us in our haste jumped down on the poor Irishman at the wheel.

“Murder, fire, rape, and robbery! it is capsized, stove in, sunk, burned, and destroyed I am! Captain, Captain, we are carried aft here—Och, hubbaboo for Patrick Donnally!”

There was no time to be lost; if any of the crew came aft, we were dead men, so we tumbled down through the cabin skylight, men and beast, the hatch having been knocked off by a shot, and stowed ourselves away in the side berths. The noise on deck soon ceased the cannon were again plied gradually the fire slackened, and we could hear that the pirate had scraped clear and escaped. Some time after this, the lieutenant commanding the cutter came down. Poor Mr Douglas! both Mr Splinter and I knew him well. He sat down and covered his face with his hands, while the blood oozed down between his fingers. He had received a cutlass wound on the head in the attack. His right arm was bound up with his neckcloth, and he was very pale.

“Steward, bring me a light.—Ask the doctor how many are killed and wounded; and, do you hear, tell him to come to me when he is done forward, but not a moment sooner. To have been so mauled and duped by a cursed buccaneer; and my poor boat’s crew.”

Splinter groaned. He started—but at this moment the man returned again.

“Thirteen killed, your honour, and fifteen wounded; scarcely one of us untouched.” The poor fellow’s own skull was bound round with a bloody cloth.

“God help me! God help me! but they have died the death of men. Who knows what death the poor fellows in the boat have died?” Here he was cut short by a tremendous scuffle on the ladder, down which an old quarter-master was trundled neck and crop into the cabin. “How now, Jones?”

“Please your honour,” said the man, as soon as he had gathered himself up, and had time to turn his quid, and smooth down his hair; but again the uproar was renewed, and Donnally was lugged in, scrambling and struggling, between two seamen—“this here Irish chap, your honour, has lost his wits, if so be he ever had any, your honour. He has gone mad through fright.”

“Fright be d——d!” roared Donnally; “no man ever frightened me: but as his honour was skewering them bloody thieves forward, I was boarded and carried aft by the devil, your honour—pooped by Beelzebub, by—,” and he rapped his fist on the table until every thing on it danced again. “There were four of them, yeer honour—a black one and two blue ones—and a piebald one, with four legs and a bushy tail—each with two horns on his head, for all the world like those on Father M’Cleary’s red cow—no, she was humbled—it is Father Clannachan’s I mane—no, not his neither, for his was the parish bull; fait, I don’t know what I mane, except that they had all horns on their heads, and vomited fire, and had each of them a tail at his stem, twisting and twining like a conger eel, with a blue light at the end on’t.”

“And dat’s a lie, if ever dere was one,” exclaimed Peter Mangrove, jumping from the berth. “Look at me, you Irish tief, and tell me if I have a blue light or a conger eel at my stem?”

This was too much for poor Donnally. He yelled out, “You’ll believe your own eyes now, yeer honour, when you see one o’dem bodily before you! Let me go—let me go” and, rushing up the ladder, he would, in all probability, have ended his earthly career in the salt sea, had his bullet head not encountered the broadest part of the purser, who was in the act of descending, with such violence, that he shot him out of the companion several feet above the deck, as if he had been discharged from a culverin; but the recoil sent poor Donnally, stunned and senseless, to the bottom of the ladder. There was no standing all this; we laughed outright, and made ourselves known to Mr Douglas, who received us cordially, and in a week we were landed at Port Royal.

CHAPTER VI.—The Cruise of the Spark

     “Ours are the tears, though few, sincerely shed.”
     Byron, The Corsair, I.35.

The only other midshipman on board the cutter beside young Walcolm, whose miserable death we had witnessed, twas a light delicate little fellow, about fourteen years old, of the name of Duncan; he was the smallest boy of his age I ever saw, and had been badly hurt in repelling the attack of the pirate. His wound was a lacerated puncture in the left shoulder from a boarding pike, but it appeared to be healing kindly, and for some days we thought he was doing well. However, about five o’clock in the afternoon on which we made Jamaica, the surgeon accosted Mr Douglas as we were walking the deck together.

“I fear little Duncan is going to slip through my fingers after all, sir.”

“No!—I thought he had been better.”

“So he was till about noon, when a twitching of the muscles came on, which I fear betokens lock jaw; he wavers, too, now and then, a bad sign of itself where there is a fretting wound.”

We went below, where, notwithstanding the wind—sail that was let down close to where his hammock was slung, the heat of the small vessel was suffocating. The large coarse tallow candle in the purser’s lantern, that hung beside his shoulder, around which the loathsome cockroaches fluttered like moths in a summer evening, filled the between decks with a rancid oil smell, and with smoke as from a torch, while it ran down and melted like fat before a fire. It cast a dull sickly, gleam on the pale face of the brown-hefted, girlish-looking lad, as he lay in his narrow hammock. When we entered, an old quartermaster was rubbing his legs, which were jerking about like the limbs of a galvanized frog, while two of the boys held his arms, also violently convulsed. The poor little fellow was crying and sobbing most piteously, but made a strong effort to compose himself and “be a man” when he saw us.

“This is so good of you, Mr Cringle! you will take charge of my letter to my sister, I know you will?—I say, Anson,” to the quartermaster, “do lift me up a little till I try and finish it.—It will be a sore heart to poor Sarah; she has no mother now, nor father, and aunt is not over kind,”—and again he wept bitterly. “Confound this jumping hand, it won’t keep steady, all I can do.—I say, Doctor, I shan’t die this time, shall I?”

“I hope not, my fine little fellow.”

“I don’t think I shall; I shall live to be a man yet, in spite of that bloody buccaneer’s pike, I know I shall.” God help me, the death rattle was already in his throat, and the flame was flickering in the socket; even as he spoke, the muscles of his neck stiffened to such a degree that I thought he was choked, but the violence of the convulsion quickly subsided. “I am done for, Doctor!” he could no longer open his mouth, but spoke through his clenched teeth—“I feel it now!—God Almighty receive my soul, and protect my poor sister!” The arch-enemy was indeed advancing to the final struggle, for he now gave a sudden and sharp cry, and stretched out his legs and arms, which instantly became as rigid as marble, and in his agony he turned his face to the side I stood on, but he was no longer sensible. “Sister,” he said with difficulty—“Don’t let them throw me overboard; there are sharks here.”

“Land on the lee bow,”—sung out the man at the masthead.

The common life sound would not have moved any of us in the routine of duty, but bursting in, under such circumstances, it made us all start, as if it had been something unusual; the dying midshipman heard it, and said calmly—“Land,—I will never see it.—But how blue all your lips look.—It is cold, piercing cold, and dark, dark.” Something seemed to rise in his throat, his features sharpened still more, and he tried to gasp, but his clenched teeth prevented him—he was gone.

I went on deck with a heavy heart, and, on looking in the direction indicated, I beheld the towering Blue Mountain peak rising high above the horizon, even at the distance of fifty miles, with its outline clear and distinct against the splendid western sky, now gloriously illumined by the light of the set sun. We stood on under easy sail for the night, and next morning when the day broke, we were off the east end of the magnificent Island of Jamaica. The stupendous peak now appeared to rise close aboard of us, with a large solitary star sparkling on his forehead, and reared his forest-crowned summit high into the cold blue sky, impending over us in frowning magnificence, while the long dark range of the Blue Mountains, with their outlines hard and clear in the grey light, sloped away on each side of him as if they had been the Giant’s shoulders. Great masses of white mist hung on their sides about half-way down, but all the valleys and coast as yet slept in the darkness. We could see that the land-wind was blowing strong in shore, from the darker colour of the water, and the speed with which the coasters, only distinguishable by their white sails, slid along; while astern of us, out at sea, yet within a cable’s length, for we had scarcely shot beyond its influence, the prevailing trade-wind blew a smart breeze, coming up strong to a defined line, beyond which and between it and the influence of the land-wind, there was a belt of dull lead-coloured sea, about half a mile broad, with a long heavy ground-swell rolling, but smooth as glass, and without even a ripple on the surface, in the midst of which we presently lay dead becalmed.

The heavy dew was shaken in large drops out of the wet flapping sails, against which the reef points pattered like hail as the vessel rolled. The decks were wet and slippery, and our jackets saturated with moisture; but we enjoyed the luxury of cold to a degree that made the sea water when dashed about the decks, as they were being holystoned, appear absolutely warm. Presently all nature awoke in its freshness so suddenly, that it looked like a change of scene in a theatre. The sun, as yet set to us, rose to the huge peak, and glanced like lightning on his summit, making it gleam like a ruby; presently the clouds on his shaggy ribs rolled upwards, enveloping his head and shoulders, and were replaced by the thin blue mists which ascended from the valleys, forming a fleecy canopy, beneath which appeared hill and dale, woods and cultivated lands, where all had been undistinguishable a minute before, and gushing streams burst from the mountain sides like gouts of froth, marking their course in the level grounds by the vapours they sent up. Then breeze—mill towers burst into light, and cattle—mills, with their cone—shaped roofs, and overseers houses, and water-mills, with the white spray falling from the wheels, and sugar-works, with long pennants of white smoke streaming from the boiling-house chimneys seaward in the morning wind. Immediately after, gangs of negroes were seen at work; loaded waggons, with enormous teams of fourteen to twenty oxen dragging them, rolled along the roads; long strings of mules loaded with canes were threading the fields; drogging vessels were seen to shove out from every cove; the morning song of the black fishermen was heard, while their tiny canoes, like black specks, started up suddenly on all sides of us, as if they had floated from the bottom of the sea; and the smiling scene burst at once, and as if by magic, on us, in all its coolness and beauty, under the cheering influence of the rapidly rising sun. We fired a gun, and made the signal for a pilot; upon which a canoe, with three negroes in it, shoved off from a small schooner lying to about a mile to leeward. They were soon alongside, when one of the three jumped on board. This was the pilot, a slave, as I knew; and I remember the time, when, in my innocence, I would have expected to see something very squalid and miserable, but there was nothing of the kind; for I never in my life saw a more spruce saltwater dandy, in a small way. He was well dressed, according to a seaman’s notion—clean white trowsers, check shirt, with white lapels, neatly fastened at the throat with a black ribbon, smart straw hat; and altogether he carried an appearance of comfort—I was going to write independence—about him, that I was by no means prepared for. He moved about with a swaggering roll, grinning and laughing with the seamen.

“I say, blackie,” said Mr Douglas.

“John Lodge, massa, if you please, massa; blackie is not politeful, sir;” whereupon he showed his white teeth again.

“Well, well, John Lodge, you are running us in too close surely;” and the remark seemed seasonable enough to a stranger, for the rocks on the bold shore were now within half pistol shot.

“Mind your eye,” shouted old Anson. “You will have us ashore, you black rascal!”

“You, sir, what water have you here?” sung out Mr Splinter.

“Salt water, massa,” rapped out Lodge, fairly dumfounded by such a volley of questions—“You hab six fadom good here, massa;” but suspecting he had gone too far—“I take de Tonnant, big ship as him is, close to dat reef, sir, you might have jump ashore, so you need not frighten for your leetle dish of a hooker; beside, massa, my character is at stake, you know”—then another grin and bow.

There was no use in being angry with the poor fellow, so he was allowed to have his own way until we anchored in the evening at Port Royal.

The morning after we arrived, I went ashore with a boat’s crew to perform the magnanimous operation of cutting brooms; we pulled ashore for Green Bay, under the guns of the Twelve Apostles—a heavy battery of twelve cannon, where there is a tombstone with an inscription, setting forth that the party over whom it was erected, had been actually swallowed up in the great earthquake that destroyed the opposite town, but subsequently disgorged again; being, perchance, an unseemly morsel.

We approached the beach—“Oars”—the men laid them in.

“What sort of nuts be them, Peter Coamings?” said the coxswain to a new hand who had been lately impressed, and was now standing at the bow ready to fend off.

Peter broke off one of the branches from the bush nearest him.

“Smite my timbers, do the trees here bear shellfish?”

The tide in the Gulf of Mexico does not ebb and flow above two feet, except at the springs, and the ends of the drooping branches of the mangrove-trees, that here cover the shore, are clustered, within the wash of the water, with a small well-flavoured oyster. The first thing the seamen did when they got ashore, was to fasten an oakum tail to the rump of one of the most lubberly of the cutter’s crew; they then gave him ten yards’ law, when they started in chase, shouting amongst the bushes, and switching each other like the veriest schoolboys. I had walked some distance along the beach, pelting the amphibious little creatures, half crab, half lobster, called soldiers, which kept shouldering their large claws, and running out and in their little burrows, as the small ripple twinkled on the sand in the rising sun, when two men-of-wars boats, each with three officers in the stern, suddenly pulled round a little promontory that intercepted my view ahead. Being somewhat out of the line of my duty, so far from my boat, I squatted amongst the brushwood, thinking they would pass by; but, as the devil would have it, they pulled directly for the place where I was ensconced, beached their boats, and jumped on shore. “Here’s a mess,” thought I.

I soon made out that one of the officers was Captain Pinkem of the Flash, and that the parties saluted each other with that stern courtesy which augured no good.

“So, so, my masters, not enough of fighting on the coast of America, but you must have a little private defacing of God’s image amongst yourselves?”

Pinkem spoke first. “Mr Clinch,” (I now knew he addressed the first lieutenant of the flagship)—“Mr Clinch, it is not too late to prevent unpleasant consequences; I ask you again, at the eleventh hour, will you make an apology?”

He seemed hurried and fidgety in his manner; which rather surprised me, as I knew he was a seasoned hand in these matters, and it contrasted unfavourably with the calm bearing of his antagonist, who by this time had thrown his hat on the ground, and stood with one foot on the handkerchief that marked his position, the distance, twelve paces, having already been measured. By the by, his position was deucedly near in a line with the grey stone behind which I lay perdu; nevertheless, the risk I ran did not prevent me noticing that he was very pale, and had much the air of a brave man come to die in a bad cause. He looked upwards for a second for two, and then answered, slowly and distinctly, “Captain Pinkem, I now repeat what I said before; this rencontre is none of my seeking. You accuse me of having spoken slightingly of you seven years ago, when I was a mere boy. You have the evidence of a gallant officer that I did so; therefore I may not gainsay it; but of uttering the words imputed to me, I declare, upon my honour, I have no recollection.” He paused.

“That won’t do, my fine fellow,” said Pinkem.

“You are unreasonable,” rejoined Clinch, in the same measured tone, “to expect farther amende for uttering words which I have no conviction of having spoken; yet to any other officer in the service I would not hesitate to make a more direct apology, but you know your credit as a pistol-shot renders this impossible.”

“Sorry for it, Mr Clinch, sorry for it.”

Here the pistols were handed to the principals by their respective seconds. In their attitudes, the proficient and the novice were strikingly contrasted; (by this time I had crept round so as to have a view of both parties, or rather, if the truth must be told, to be out of the line of fire.) Pinkem stood with his side accurately turned towards his antagonist, so as to present the smallest possible surface; his head was, as it struck me, painfully slewed round, with his eye looking steadily at Clinch, over his right shoulder, whilst his arm was brought down close to his thigh, with the cock of the pistol turned outwards, so that his weapon must have covered his opponent by the simple raising of his arm below the elbow. Clinch, on the other hand, stood fronting him, with the whole breadth of his chest; holding his weapon awkwardly across his body, with both hands. Pinkem appeared unwilling to take him at such advantage, for, although violent and headstrong, and but too frequently the slave of his passions, he had some noble traits in his character.

“Turn your feather edge to me, Mr Clinch; take a fair chance, man.”

The lieutenant bowed, and I thought would have spoken, but he was checked by the dread of being thought to fear; however, took the advice, and in an instant the word was given—“Are you both ready?”


“Then fire!”

Clinch fired without deliberation. I saw him, for my eyes were fixed on him, expecting to see him fall. He stood firm, however, which was more than I did, as at the instant, a piece of the bullion of an epaulet, at first taken for a pellet of baser metal, struck me sharply on the nose, and shook my equanimity confoundedly; at length I turned to look at Pinkem, and there he stood with his arm raised, and pistol levelled, but he had not fired. He stood thus whilst I might have counted ten, like a finger-post, then dropping his hand, his weapon went off, but without aim, the bullet striking the sand near his feet, and down he came headlong to the ground. He fell with his face turned towards me, and I never shall forget the horrible expression of it. His healthy complexion had, given place to a deadly blue, the eyes were wide open and straining in their sockets, the upper lip was drawn up, showing his teeth in a most frightful grin, the blood gushed from his mouth as if impelled by the strokes of a force pump, while his hands griped and dug into the sand.

Before the sun set, he was a dead man.

“A neat morning’s work, gentlemen,” thought I.

The two surgeons came up, opened his dress, felt his pulse, and shook their heads; the boats crews grouped around them—he was lifted into his gig, the word was given to shove off, and—I returned to my broom-cutters.

When we got on board, the gunner who had the watch was taking his fisherman’s walk on the starboard side of the quarterdeck, and kept looking steadily at the land, as if to avoid seeing poor little Duncan’s coffin, that lay on a grating near the gangway. The crew, assisted by thirty men from the flag-ship, were employed in twenty different ways, repairing damages, and were bustling about, laughing, joking, and singing, with small regard to the melancholy object before their eyes, when Mr Douglas put his head up the ladder—“Now, Jackson, if you please.”

The old fellow’s countenance fell as if his heart was wrung by the order he had to give.

“Aloft there! lie out, you Perkins, and reeve a whip on the starboard yard-arm to lower Mr”—The rest stuck in his throat, but, as if ashamed of his softheartedness, he threw as much gruffness as he could into his voice as he sung out—“Beat to quarters there!—knock off, men!”

The roll of the drum stayed the confusion and noise of the people at work in an instant, who immediately ranged themselves, in their clean frocks and trowsers, on each side of the quarterdeck. At a given signal, the white deal coffin, wrapped in its befitting pall, the meteor flag of England, swung high above the hammock nettings between us and the bright blue sky, to the long clear note of the boatswain’s whistle, which soon ending in a short chirrup, told that it now rested on the thwarts of the boat alongside. We pulled ashore, and it was a slight perchance to move a woman, to see the poor little fellow’s hat and bit of a dirk lying on his coffin, whilst the body was carried by four ships boys, the eldest scarcely fourteen. I noticed the tears stand in Anson’s eyes as the coffin was lowered into the grave,—the boy had been wounded close to him,—and when we heard the hollow battle of the earth on the coffin,—an unusual sound to a sailor,—he shuddered.

“Yes, Master Cringle,” he said, in a whisper, “he was as kind hearted, and as brave a lad as ever trod on shoe leather,—none of the larkings of the men in the clear moonlight nights ever reached the cabin through him,—nor was he the boy to rouse the watch from under the lee of the boats in bad weather, to curry with the lieutenant, while he knew the look-outs were as bright as beagles,—and where was the man in our watch that wanted baccy while Mr Duncan had a shiner left?” The poor fellow drew the back of his horny hand across his eyes, and grumbled out as he turned away, “And here am I, Bill Anson, such a swab as to be ashamed of being sorry for him.”

We were now turned over into the receiving ship the old Spark, and fortunately there were captains enough in port to try us for the loss of the Torch, so we got over our court-martial speedily, and the very day I got back my dirk, the packet brought me out a lieutenant’s Commission. Being now my own master for a season, I determined to visit some relations I had in the island, to whom I had never yet been introduced; so I shook hands with old Splinter, packed my kit, and went to the wharf to charter a wherry to carry me up to Kingston. The moment my object was perceived by the black boat-men, I was surrounded by a mob of them, pulling and hauling each other, and shouting forth the various qualifications of their boats, with such vehemence, that I was nearly deafened.

“Massa, no see Pam be Civil, sail like a witch, tack like a dolphin?”

“Don’t believe him, massa; Ballahoo is de boat dat can beat him.”

“Dam lie dat, as I am a gentleman!” roared a ragged black vagabond.

“Come in de Monkey, massa; no flying fish can beat she.”

“Don’t boder de gentleman,” yelled a fourth,—“massa love de stamp and go—no so, massa?” as he saw me make a step in the direction of his boat. “Oh yes—so get out of de way, you black rascals,”—the fellow was as black as a sloe himself—“make room for man-of-war buccra; him leetle just now, but will be admiral one day.”

So saying, the fellow who had thus appropriated me, without more ado, levelled his head like a battering ram, and began to batter in breach all who stood in his way. He first ran a tilt against Pam be Civil, and shot him like a rocket into the sea; the Monkey fared no better; the Ballahoo had to swim for it; and having thus opened a way by main force, I at length got safely moored in the stern sheets; but just as we were shoving off, Mr Callaloo, the clergyman of Port Royal, a tall yellow personage, begged for a passage, and was accordingly taken on board. As it was high water, my boatmen chose the five foot channel, as the boat channel near to Gallows Point is called, by which a long stretch would be saved, and we were cracking on cheerily, my mind full of my recent promotion, when, scur, scur, scur, we stuck fast on the bank. Our black boatmen, being little encumbered with clothes, jumped overboard in a covey like so many wild-ducks, shouting, as they dropped into the water, “We must all get out,—we must all get out;” whereupon Mr Callaloo, a sort of Dominie Sampson in his way, promptly leaped overboard up to his waist in the water. The negroes were thunderstruck.

“Massa Parson Callaloo, you mad surely, you mad!”

“Children, I am not mad, but obedient—you said we must all get out”

“To be sure, massa, and you no see we all did get out?”

“And did you not see that I got out too?” rejoined the parson, still in the water, and somewhat nettled.

“Oh, lud, massa! we no mean you—we meant poor nigger, not white man parson.”

“You said all, children, and thereupon I leaped,” pronouncing the last word in two syllables—“be more correct in your grammar next time.”

The worthy but eccentric old chap then scrambled on board again, amidst the suppressed laughter of the boatmen, and kept his seat, wet clothes and all, until we reached Kingston.

CHAPTER VII.—Scenes in Jamaica

     ‘Excellent—why this is the best fooling when all is done.’ 

     Twelfth Night, II. iii. 29—30.

I confess that I did not promise myself much pleasure from my cruise ashore; somehow or other I had made up my mind to believe, that in Jamaica, putting aside the magnificence and natural beauty of the face of he country, there was little to interest me. I had pictured to myself the slaves—a miserable, squalid, half fed, ill-clothed, over-worked race—and their masters, and the white inhabitants generally, as an unwholesome-looking crew of saffron faced tyrants, who wore straw hats with umbrella brims, wide trowsers, and calico jackets, living on pepper pot and land crabs, and drinking sangaree and smoking cigars the whole day; in a word, that all that Bryan Edwards and others had written regarding the civilisation of the West Indies was a fable. But I was agreeably undeceived; for although I did meet with some extraordinary characters, and witnessed not a few rum scenes, yet, on the whole, I gratefully bear witness to the great hospitality of the inhabitants, both in the towns and in the country. In Kingston the society was exceedingly good, as good, I can freely affirm, as I ever met with in any provincial town anywhere; and there prevailed a warmth of heart, and a kindliness both in the males and females of those families to which I had the good fortune to be introduced, that I never experienced out of Jamaica.

At the period I am describing, the island was in the hey-day of its prosperity, and the harbour of Kingston was full of shipping. I had never before seen so superb a mercantile haven; it is completely landlocked, and the whole navy of England might ride in it commodiously.

On the sea face it is almost impregnable, for it would be little short of a miracle for an invading squadron to wind its way through the labyrinth of shoals and reefs lying off the mouth of it, amongst which the channels are so narrow and intricate, that at three or four points the sinking of a sand barge would effectually block up all ingress; but, independently of this, the entrance at Port Royal is defended by very strong works, the guns ranging the whole way across, while, a little farther on, the attacking ships would be exposed to a cross fire from the heavy metal of the Apostles’ Battery; and even assuming all these obstacles to be overcome, and the passage into the harbour forced, before they could pass the narrows to get up to the anchorage at Kingston, they would be blown out of the water by a raking fire from sixty pieces of large cannon on Fort Augusta, which is so situated that they would have to turn to windward for at least half an hour, in a strait which, at the widest, would not allow them to reach beyond musket-shot of the walls. Fortunately, as yet Mr Canning had not called his New World into existence, and the whole of the trade of Terra Firma, from Porto Cavello down to Chagres, the greater part of the trade of the islands of Cuba and San Domingo, and even that of Lima and San Blas, and the other ports of the Pacific, carried on across the Isthmus of Darien, centred in Kingston, the usual supplies through Cadiz being stopped by the advance of the French in the Peninsula. The result of this princely traffic, more magnificent than that of Tyre, was a stream of gold and silver flowing into the Bank of England, to the extent of three millions of pounds sterling annually, in return for British manufactures; thus supplying the sinews of war to the government at home, and, besides the advantage of so large a mart, employing an immense amount of British tonnage, and many thousand seamen; and in numberless ways opening up new outlets to British enterprise and capital. Alas! alas! where is all this now? The echo of the empty stores might answer “where!”

On arriving at Kingston, my first object was to seek out Mr the admiral’s agent, and one of the most extensive merchants in the place, in order to deliver some letters to him, and get his advice as to my future proceedings. Mr Callaloo undertook to be my pilot, striding along a-beam of me, and leaving in his wake two serpentine dottings on the pavement from the droppings of water from his voluminous coat-skirts, which had been thoroughly soaked by his recent ducking.

Every thing appeared to be thriving, and as we passed along, the hot sandy streets were crowded with drays conveying goods from the wharfs to the stores, and from the stores to the Spanish Posadas. The merchants of the place, active, sharp-looking men, were seen grouped under the piazzas in earnest conversation with their Spanish customers, or perched on the top of the bales and boxes just landed, waiting to hook the gingham-coated, Moorish-looking Dons, as they came along with cigars in their mouths, and a train of negro servants following them with fire buckets on their heads, filled with pesos fuertes. The appearance of the town itself was novel and pleasing; the houses, chiefly of two stories, looked as if they had been built of cards, most of them being surrounded with piazzas from ten to fourteen feet wide, gaily painted green and white, and formed by the roofs projecting beyond the brick walls or shells of the houses. On the ground-floor these piazzas are open, and in the lower part of the town, where the houses are built contiguous to each other, they form a covered way, affording a most grateful shelter from the sun, on each side of the streets, which last are unpaved, and more like dry river courses, than thoroughfares in a Christian town. On the floor above, the balconies are shut in with a sort of movable blinds, called “jealousies,’ like large bladed Venetian blinds, fixed in frames, with here and there a glazed sash to admit light in bad weather when the blinds are closed. In the upper part of the town the effect is very beautiful, every house standing detached from its neighbour, in its little garden filled with vines, fruittrees, stately palms, and cocoa-nut trees, with a court of negro houses and offices behind, and a patriarchal-looking draw-well in the centre, generally overshadowed by a magnificent wild tamarind. When I arrived at the great merchant’s place of business, I was shown into a lofty cool room, with a range of desks along the walls, where a dozen clerks were quill-driving. In the centre sat my man, a small sallow, yet perfectly gentlemanlike personage.

“Dat is massa” quoth my black usher.

I accordingly walked up to him, and presented my letter. He never lifted his head from his paper, which I had half a mind to resent; but at the moment there was a bustle in the piazza, and a group of naval officers, amongst whom was the admiral, came in. My silent friend was now alert enough, and profuse of his bows and smiles.

“Who have we here? Who is that boy, L——?” said the admiral to his secretary.

“Young Cringle, sir; the only one except Mr Splinter saved from the Torch; he was first on the Admiralty list t’other day.”

“What, the lad Willoughby spoke so well of?”

“The same, sir; he got his promotion by last packet.”

“I know, I know. I say, Mr Cringle, you are appointed to the Firebrand, do you know that?”—I did not know it, and began to fear my cruise on shore was all up.—“But I don’t look for her from Havanna for a month; so leave your address with L——, that you may get the order to join when she does come.”

It appeared that I had seen the worst of the agent, for he gave me a very kind invitation to stay some days with him, and drove me home in his ketureen, a sort of sedan chair with the front and sides knocked out, and mounted on a gig body.

Before dinner we were lounging about the piazza, and looking down into the street, when a negro funeral came past, preceded by a squad of drunken black vagabonds, singing and playing on gumbies, or African drums, made out of pieces of hollow trees, about six feet long, with skins braced over them, each carried by one man, while another beats it with his open hands. The coffin was borne along on the heads of two negroes—a negro carries every thing on his head, from a bale of goods to a wine-glass or tea-cup. It is a practice for the bearers, when they come near the house of any one against whom the deceased was supposed to have had a grudge, to pretend that the coffin will not pass by, and in the present case, when they came opposite to where we stood, they began to wheel round and round, and to stagger under their load, while the choristers shouted at the top of their lungs.

“We beg you, shipmate, for come along—do, broder, come away;” then another reel. “What, you no wantee go in a hole, eh? You hab grudge against somebody lif here, eh?”—Another devil of a lurch “Massa——‘s housekeeper, eh? Ah, it must be!”—A tremendous stagger—“Oh, Massa——, dollar for drink; someting to hold play [negro wake] in Spring-path, [the negro burying-ground;] Bediacko say him won’t pass ‘less you give it.” And here they began to spin round more violently than before; but at the instant a drove of bullocks coming along, they got entangled amongst them, and down went body and bearers and all, the coffin bursting in the fall, and the dead corpse, with its white grave-clothes and black face, rolling over and over in the sand amongst the feet of the cattle. It was immediately caught up, however, bundled into the coffin again, and away they staggered, drumming and singing as loudly as before.

The party at dinner was a large one; every thing in good style, wines superb, turtle, &c., magnificent, and the company exceedingly companionable. A Mr Francis Fyall, (a great planting attorney, that is, an agent for a number of proprietors of estates, who preferred living in England, and paying a commission to him for managing in Jamaica, to facing the climate themselves,) to whom I had an introduction, rather posed me, by asking me during dinner, if I would take any thing in the long way with him, which he explained by saying he would be glad to take a glass of small beer with me. This, after a deluge of Madeira, Champagne, and all manner of light wines, was rather trying; but I kept my countenance as well I could. One thing I remember struck me as remarkable; just as we were rising to go to the drawing-room, a cloud of winged ants burst in upon us through the open windows, and had it not been for the glass-shades would have extinguished the candles; but when they had once settled on the table, they deliberately wriggled themselves free of their wings, as one would cast off a great-coat, and crept away in their simple and more humble capacity of creeping things.

Next day I went to wait on my relation, Mrs Palma. I had had a confoundedly hot walk through the burning sand streets, and was nearly blinded by the reflection from them, as I ascended the front stairs. There are no carpets in the houses in Jamaica; but the floors, which are often mahogany, are beautifully polished, and shine like a well-kept dinner table. They are, of course, very slippery, and require wary walking till one gets accustomed to them. The rooms are made exceedingly dark during the heat of the day, according to the prevailing practice in all ardent climates. A black footman, very handsomely dressed, all to his bare legs, (I thought at first he had black silk stocking on,) preceded me, and when he reached the drawing-room door, asked my name. I told him, “Mr Cringle,”—whereupon he sung out, to my dismay—“Massa Captain Ringtail to wait pan Misses.”

This put me out a little—especially as I heard some one say “Captain who—what a very odd name?”

But I had no time for reflection, as I had not blundered three steps out of the glare of the piazza, into the palpable obscure of the darkened drawing-room, black as night from the contrast, when I capsized headlong over an ottoman in the middle of the apartment, and floundered right into the centre of a group of young ladies, and one or two lapdogs, by whom it was conjointly occupied. Trying to recover myself, I slipped on the glasslike floor, and came down stern foremost; and being now regularly at the slack end, for I could not well get lower, I sat still, scratching my caput in the midst of a gay company of morning visitors, enjoying the gratifying consciousness that I was distinctly visible to them, although my dazzled optics could as yet distinguish nothing. To add to my pleasurable sensations, I now perceived, from the coldness of the floor, that in MY downfall the catastrophe of my unmentionables had been grievously rent, but I had nothing for it but sitting patiently still amidst the suppressed laughter of the company, until I became accustomed to the twilight, and they, like bright stars, began to dawn on my bewildered senses in all their loveliness, and prodigiously handsome women some of’ them were, for the Creoles, so far as figure is concerned, are generally perfect, while beautiful features are not wanting, and my travel had reconciled me to the absence of the rose from their cheeks. My eldest cousin Mary (where is there a name like Mary?) now approached; she and I were old friends, and many a junketing we used to have in my father’s house during the holydays, when she was a boarding-school girl in England. My hardihood and self-possession returned, under the double gratification of seeing her, and the certainty that my blushes (for my cheeks were glowing like hot iron) could not have been observed in the subdued green light that pervaded the room.—“Well, Tom, since you are no longer dazzled, and see us all now, you had better get up, hadn’t you—you see mamma is waiting there to embrace you?”

“Why, I think myself I had better;—but when I broached—to so suddenly, I split my lower canvass, Mary, and I cannot budge until your mother lends me a petticoat.”

“A what? you are crazy, Tom”

“Not a whit, not a whit, why I have split my—ahem. This is speaking plain, an’t it?”

Away tripped the sylph-like girl, and in a twinkling reappeared with the desired garment, which in a convulsion of laughter she slipped over my head as I sat on the floor; and having fastened it properly round my waist, I rose and paid my respects to my warm hearted relations. But that petticoat—it could not have been the old woman’s, there could have been no such virtue in an old woman’s petticoat; no, no, it must either have been a charmed garment, or—Mary’s own; for from that hour I was a lost man, and the devoted slave of her large black eyes, and high pale forehead. “Oh, murder you speak of the sun dazzling; what is it to the lustre of that same eye of yours, Mary!”

In the evening I escorted the ladies to a ball, (by the way, a West India ball-room being a perfect lantern, open to the four winds of heaven, is cooler, notwithstanding the climate, than a ball-room anywhere else,) and a very gay affair it turned out to be, although I had more trouble in getting admittance than I bargained for, and was witness to as comical a row (considering the very frivolous origin of it, and the quality of the parties engaged in it) as ever took place even in that peppery country, where, I verily believe, the temper of the people, generous though it be in the main, is hotter than the climate, and that, God knows! is soporiferous enough. I was walking through the entrance saloon with my fair cousin on my arm, stepping out like a hero to the opening crash of a fine military band, towards the entrance of the splendid ball-room filled with elegant company, brilliantly lighted up and ornamented with the most rare and beautiful shrubs and flowers, which no European conservatory could have furnished forth, and arched overhead with palm branches and a profusion of evergreens, while the polished floor, like one vast mirror, reflected the fine forms of the pale but lovely black-eyed and black haired West Indian dames, glancing amidst the more sombre dressed of their partners, while the whole group was relieved by being here and there spangled with a rich naval or military uniform. As we approached, a constable put his staff across the doorway.

“Beg pardon, sir, but you are not in full dress.”

Now this was the first night whereon I had sported my lieutenant’s uniform, and with my gold swab on my shoulder, the sparkling bullion glancing in the corner of my eye at the very moment, my dress-sword by my side, gold buckles in my shoes, and spotless white trowsers, I had, in my innocence, considered myself a deuced killing fellow, and felt proportion ably mortified at this address.

“No one can be admitted in trowsers, sir,” said the man.

“Shiver my timbers!” I could not help the exclamation, the transactions of the morning crowding on my recollection; “shiver my timbers! is my fate in this strange country to be for ever irrevocably bound up in a pair of breeches?”

My cousin pinched my arm.—“Hush, Tom; go home and get mamma’s petticoat.”

The man was peremptory; and as there was no use in getting into a squabble about such a trifle, I handed my partner over to the care of a gentleman of the party, who was fortunately accoutred according to rule, and, stepping to my quarters, I equipped myself in a pair of tight nether integuments, and returned to the ball-room. By this time there was the devil to pay; the entrance saloon was crowded with military and naval men, high in oath, and headed by no less a person than a general officer, and a one-armed man, one of the chief civil officers in the place, and who had been a sailor in his youth. I was just in time to see the advance of the combined column to the door of the ball-room, through which they drove the picket of constables like chaff, and then halted. The one-armed functionary, a most powerful and very handsome man, now detached himself from the phalanx, and strode up to the advanced guard of stewards clustered in front of the ladies, who had shrunk together into a corner of the room, like so many frightened hares.

The place being now patent to me, I walked up to comfort my party, and could see all that passed. The champion of the Excluded had taken the precaution to roll up the legs of his trowsers, and to tie them tightly at the knee with his garters, which gave him the appearance of a Dutch skipper; and in all the consciousness of being now properly arrayed, he walked up to one of the men in authority—a small pot bellied gentleman, and set himself to intercede for the attacking column, the head of which was still lowering at the door. But the little steward speedily interrupted him.

“Why, Mr Singlefist, rules must be maintained, and let me see,” here he peered through his glass at the substantial supporters of our friend,—“as I live, you yourself are inadmissible.”

The giant laughed.

“Damn the body, he must have been a tailor!—Charge, my fine fellows, and throw the constables out of the window, and the stewards after them. Every man his bird; and here goes for my Cock Robin.” With that he made a grab at his Lilliputian antagonist, but missed him, as he slid away amongst the women like an eel, while his pursuer, brandishing his wooden arm on high, to which I now perceived, for the first time, that there was a large steel hook appended, exclaimed in a broad Scotch accent, “Ah, if I had but caught the creature, I would have clapt this in his mouth, and played him like a salmon.”

At this signal, in poured the mass of soldiers and sailors; the constables vanished in an instant; the stewards were driven back upon the ladies; and such fainting and screaming, and swearing and threatening, and shying of cards, and fixing of time and place for a cool turn in the morning, it had never been my good fortune to witness before or since. My wig! thought I, a precious country, where a man’s life may be periled by the fashion of the covering to his nakedness!

Next day, Mr Fyall, who, I afterwards learned, was a most estimable man in substantials, although somewhat eccentric in small matters, called and invited me to accompany him on a cruise amongst some of the estates under his management. This was the very thing I desired, and three days afterwards I left my kind friends in Kingston, and set forth on my visit to Mr Fyall, who lived about seven miles from town..

The morning was fine as usual, although about noon the clouds, thin and fleecy and transparent at first, but gradually settling down more dense and heavy, began to congregate on the summit of the Liguanea Mountains, which rise about four miles distant, to a height of near 5000 feet, in rear of the town. It thundered too a little now and then in the same direction, but this was an every-day occurrence in Jamaica at this season, and as I had only seven miles to go, off I started in a gig of mine host’s, with my portmanteau well secured under a tarpawlin, in defiance of all threatening appearances, crowding sail, and urging the noble roan that had me in tow close upon thirteen knots. I had not gone above three miles, however, when the sky in a moment changed from the intense glare of a tropical noontide to the deepest gloom, as if a bad angel had suddenly overshadowed us, and interposed his dark wings between us and the blessed sun; indeed, so instantaneous was the effect, that it reminded me of the withdrawing of the foot-lights in a theatre. The road now wound round the base of a precipitous spur from the Liguanea Mountains, which, instead of melting onto the level country by gradual decreasing undulations, shot boldly out nearly a mile from the main range, and so abruptly, that it seemed mortised into the plain, like a rugged promontory running into a frozen lake. On looking up along the ridge of this prong, I saw the lowering mass of black clouds gradually spread out, and detach themselves from the summits of the loftier mountains, to which they had clung the whole morning, and begin to roll slowly down the hill, seeming to touch the tree tops, while along their lower edges hung a fringe of dark vapour, or rather shreds of cloud in rapid motion, that shifted about, and shot out and shortened like streamers.

As yet there was no lightning nor rain, and in the expectation of escaping the shower, as the wind was with me, I made more sail, pushing the horse into a gallop, to the great discomposure of the negro who sat beside me.

“Massa, you can’t escape it, you are galloping into it; don’t massa hear de sound of de rain coming along against de wind, and smell de earthy smell of him like one new-made grave?”

“The sound of the rain.” In another clime, long, long ago, I had often read at my old mother’s knee, “And Elijah said unto Ahab, there is a sound of abundance of rain, prepare thy chariot, and get thee down, that the rain stop thee not; and it came to pass, in the meanwhile, that the heaven was dark with clouds and wind, and there was a great rain.”

I looked, and so it was, for in an instant a white sheet of the heaviest rain I had ever seen (if rain it might be called, for it was more like a water-spout) fell from the lower edge of the black cloud, with a strong rushing noise, that increased as it approached to a loud roar like that of a waterfall. As it came along, it seemed to devour the rocks and trees, for they disappeared behind the watery screen the instant it reached them.

We saw it a-head of us for more than a mile coming along the road, preceded by a black line from the moistening of the white dust, right in the wind’s eye, and with such an even front, that I verily believe it was descending in bucketsful on my horse’s head, while as yet not one drop had reached me. At this moment the adjutant-general of the forces, Colonel F——, of the Coldstream Guards, in his tandem, drawn by two sprightly blood bays, with his servant, a light boy, mounted Creole fashion on the leader, was coming up in my wake at a spot where the road sank into a hollow, and was traversed by a watercourse already running knee deep, although dry as a bone but the minute before.

I was now drenched to the skin, the water pouring out in cascades from both sides of the vehicle, when just as I reached the top of the opposite bank, there was a flash of lightning so vivid, accompanied by an explosion so loud and tremendous, that my horse, trembling from stem to stem, stood dead still; the dusky youth by my side jumped out, and buried his snout in the mud, like a porker in Spain nuzzling for acorns, and I felt more queerish than I would willingly have confessed to. I could have knelt and prayed. The noise of the thunder was a sharp ear-piercing crash, as if the whole vault of heaven had been made of glass, and had been shivered at a blow by the hand of the Almighty.

It was, I am sure, twenty seconds before the usual roar and rumbling reverberation of the report from the hills, and among the clouds, was heard.

I drove on, and arrived just in time to dress for dinner, but I did not learn till next day, that the flash which paralysed me, had struck dead the Colonel’s servant and leading horse, as he ascended the bank of the ravine, by this time so much swollen, that the body of the lad was washed off the road into the neighbouring gully, where it was found, when the waters subsided, entirely covered with sand.

I found the party congregated in the piazza around Mr Fyall, who was passing his jokes, without much regard to the feelings of his guests, and exhibiting as great a disregard of the common civilities and courtesies of life as can well be imagined. One of the party was a little red-faced gentleman, Peregrine Whiffle, Esquire, by name who, in Jamaica parlance, was designated an extraordinary master in Chancery; the overseer of the pen, or breeding farm, in the great house as it is called, or mansionhouse of which Mr Fyall resided, and a merry, laughing, intelligent, round, red-faced man, with a sort of Duncan Knockdunder nose, through the wide nostrils of which you could see a cable’s length into his head; he was either Fyall’s head clerk, or a sort of first lieutenant; these personages and myself composed the party. The dinner itself was excellent, although rather of the rough and round order; the wines and food intrinsically good; but my appetite was not increased by the exhibition of a deformed, bloated negro child, about ten years old, which Mr Fyall planted at his elbow, and, by way of practical joke, stuffed to repletion with all kinds of food and strong drink, until the little dingy brute was carried out drunk.

The wine circulated freely, and by and by Fyall indulged in some remarkable stories of his youth, for he was the only speaker, which I found some difficulty in swallowing, until at length, on one thumper being tabled, involving an impossibility, and utterly indigestible, I involuntarily exclaimed, “by Jupiter!”

“You want any ting, massa?” promptly chimed in the black servant at my elbow, a diminutive kiln-dried old negro.

“No,” said I, rather caught.

“Oh, me tink you call for Jupiter.”

I looked in the baboon’s face—“Why, if I did; what then?”

“Only me Jupiter, at massa service, dat all.”

“You are, eh, no great shakes of a Thunderer; and who is that tall square man standing behind your master’s chair?”

“Daddy Cupid, massa.”

“And the old woman who is carrying away the dishes in the piazza?”

“Mammy Weenus.”

“Daddy Cupid, and Mammy Weenus—Shade of Homer!”

Jupiter, to my surprise, shrunk from my side, as if he had received a blow, and the next moment I could hear him communing with Venus in the piazza.

“For true, dat leetle man-of-war buccra must be Obeah man: how de debil him come to sabe dat it was stable-boy Homer who broke de candle shade on massa right hand, dat one wid de piece broken out of de edge?” and here he pointed towards it with his chin—a negro always points with his chin.

I had never slept on shore out of Kingston before; the night season in the country in dear old England, we all know, is usually one of the deepest stillness—here it was any thing but still;—as the evening closed in, there arose a loud humming noise, a compound of the buzzing, and chirping, and whistling, and croaking of numberless reptiles and insects, on the earth, in the air, and in the water. I was awakened out of my first sleep by it, not that the sound was disagreeable, but it was unusual; and every now and then a beetle, the size of your thumb, would bang in through the open window, cruise round the room with a noise like a humming-top, and then dance a quadrille with half-a-dozen bats; while the fire-flies glanced like sparks, spangling the folds of the muslin curtains of the bed. The croak of the tree-toad, too, a genteel reptile, with all the usual loveable properties of his species, about the size of the crown of your hat, sounded from the neighbouring swamp, like some one snoring in the piazza, blending harmoniously with the nasal concert got up by Jupiter, and some other heathen deities, who were sleeping there almost naked, excepting the head, which every negro swathes during the night with as much flannel and as many handkerchiefs as he can command. By the way, they all slept on their faces—I wonder if this will account for their flat noses.

Next morning we started at daylight, cracking along at the rate of twelve knots an hour in a sort of gig, with one horse in the shafts, and another hooked on a-breast of him to a sort of studdingsail-boom, or outrigger, and followed by three mounted servants, each with a led horse and two sumpter mules.

In the evening we arrived at an estate under Mr Fyall’s management, having passed a party of maroons immediately before. I never saw finer men tall, strapping fellows, dressed exactly as they should be and the climate requires; wide duck trowsers, over these a loose shirt, of duck also, gathered at the waist by a broad leathern belt, through which, on one side, their short cutlass is stuck, while on the other hangs a leathern pouch for ball, and a loose thong across one shoulder, supports, on the opposite hip, a large powder-horn and haversack. This, with a straw hat, and a short gun in their hand, with a sling to be used on a march, completes their equipment—in better keeping with the climate, than the padded coats, heavy caps, tight cross-belts, and ponderous muskets of our regulars. As we drove up to the door, the overseer began to bawl, “Boys, boys!” and kept blowing a dog-call. All servants in the country in the West Indies, be they as old as Methuselah, are called boys. In the present instance, half-a-dozen black fellows forthwith appeared, to take our luggage, and attend on massa in other respects. The great man was as austere to the poor overseer, as if he had been guilty of some misdemeanour, and after a few short, crabbed words, desired him to get supper, “do you hear?”

The meat consisted of plantation fare-salted fish, plantains and yams, and a piece of goat mutton. Another “observe,”—a South Down mutton, after sojourning a year or two here, does not become a goat exactly, but he changes his heavy warm fleece, and wears long hair; and his progeny after him, if bred on the hot plains, never assume the wool again. Mr Fyall and I sat down, and then in walked four mutes, stout young fellows, not over-well dressed, and with faces burnt to the colour of brick-dust. They were the bookkeepers, so called because they never see a book, their province being to attend the negroes in the field, and to superintend the manufacture of sugar and rum in the boiling and distilling-houses.

One of them, the head bookkeeper, as he was called, appeared literally roasted by the intensity of the sun’s rays.

“How is Baldy Steer?” said the overseer to this person.

“Better to-day, sir—I drenched him with train—oil and sulphur.”

“The devil you did,” thought I—“alas! for Baldy.” “And Mary, and Caroline, and the rest of that lot?” “Are sent to Perkin’s Red Rover, sir; but I believe some of them are in calf already by Bullfinch—and I have cut Peter for the lampas.” The knife and fork dropped from my hands. “What can all this mean? is this their boasted kindness to their slaves? One of a family drenched with train-oil and brimstone, another cut for some horrible complaint never heard of before, called lampas, and the females sent to the Red Rover, some being in calf already!” But I soon perceived that the baked man was the cowboy or shepherd of the estate, making his report of the casualties amongst his bullocks, mules, and heifers.

“Juliet Ridge will not yield, sir,” quoth another.

“Who is this next? a stubborn concern she must be.”

“The liquor is very poor.” Here he helped himself to rum and water, the rum coming up about an inch in the glass, regular half and half, fit to float a marlinspike.

“It is more than yours is,” thought I; and I again stared in wonderment, until I perceived he spoke of the juice of a cane patch.

At this time a tall, lathy gentleman came in, wearing a most original cut coatee. He was a most extraordinary built man; he had absolutely no body, his bottom being placed between his shoulders, but what was wanted in corpus was made up in legs, indeed he looked like a pair of compasses, buttoned together at the shoulders, and supporting a yellow phiz half a yard long, thatched with a fell of sandy hair, falling down lank and greasy on each side of his face. Fyall called him Buckskin, which, with some other circumstances, made me guess that he was neither more nor less than an American smuggler.

After supper, a glass of punch was filled for each person, the overseer gave a rap on the table with his knuckles, and off started the bookkeepers, like shots out of shovels, leaving the Yankee, Mr Fyall, the overseer, and myself, at table.

I was very tired, and reckoned on going to bed now—but no such thing. Fyall ordered Jupiter to bring a case from his gig-box, containing some capital brandy. A new brewage of punch took place, and I found about the small hours that we were all verging fast towards drunkenness, or something very like that same. The Yankee was specially plied by Fyall, evidently with an object, and he soon succeeded in making him helplessly drunk.

The fun now “grew fast and furious,”—a large wash-tub was ordered in, placed under a beam at the corner of the room, and filled with water; a sack and a three-inch rope were then called for, and promptly produced by the blackies, who, apparently accustomed to Fyall’s pranks, grinned with delight.—Buckskin was thrust into the sack, feet foremost; the mouth of it was then gathered round his throat with a string, and I was set to splice a bight in the rope, so as to fit under his arms without running, which might have choked him. All things being prepared, the slack end was thrown over the beam. He was soused in the tub, the word was given to hoist away, and we ran him up to the roof, and then belayed the rope round the body of the overseer, who was able to sit on his chair, and that was all. The cold bath, and the being hung up to dry, speedily sobered the American, but his arms being within the sack, he could do nothing for his own emancipation; he kept swearing, however, and entreating, and dancing with rage, every jerk drawing the cord tighter round the waist of the overseer, who, unaware of his situation, thought himself bewitched as he was drawn with violence by starts along the floor, with the chair as it were glued to him. At length the patient extricated one of his arms, and laying hold of the beam above him, drew himself up, and then letting go his hold suddenly, fairly lifted the drunken overseer, chair and all, several feet from the ground, so as to bring him on a level with himself, and then, in mid air, began to pummel his counterpoise with right goodwill. At length, fearful of the consequences from the fury into which the man had worked himself, Fyall and I dashed out the candles, and fled to our rooms, where, after barricading the doors, we shouted to the servants to let the gentlemen down.

The next morning had been fixed for duck-shooting, and the overseer and I were creeping along amongst the mangrove bushes on the shore, to get a shot at some teal, when we saw our friend the pair of compasses crossing the small bay in his boat, towards his little pilotboat-built schooner, which was moored in a small creek opposite, the brushwood concealing every thing but her masts. My companion, as wild an Irishman as I ever knew, hailed him,—

“Hillo, Obadiah—Buckskin—you Yankee rascal, heave-to. Come ashore here—come ashore.”

Obed, smoking his pipe, deliberately uncoiled himself—I thou as he rose, there was to be no end of him—and stood upright in the boat, like an ill-rigged jurymast.

“I say, Master Tummas, you ben’t no friend of mine, I guess, a’ter last night’s work; you hears how I coughs?”—and he began to wheezle and crow in a most remarkable fashion.

“Never mind,” rejoined the overseer; “if you go round that point, and put up the ducks—by the piper, but I’ll fire at you!”

Obed neighed like a horse expecting his oats, which was meant as a laugh of derision. “Do you think your birding-piece can touch me here away, Master Tummas?” And again he nichered more loudly than before.

“Don’t provoke me to try, you yellow snake, you!”

“Try, and be d——d, and there’s a mark for thee,” unveiling a certain part of his body, not his face.

The overseer, or bushes, to give him his Jamaica name, looked at me and smiled, then coolly lifted his long Spanish barrel, and fired. Down dropped the smuggler, and ashore came the boat.

“I am mortally wounded, Master Tummas,” quoth Obed; and I was confoundedly frightened at first, from the unusual proximity of the injured part to his head; but the overseer, as soon as he could get off the ground, where he had thrown himself in an uncontrollable fit of laughter, had the man stripped and laid across a log, where he set his servant to pick out the pellets with a penknife.

Next night I was awakened out of my first sleep by a peculiar sort of tap, tap, on the floor, as if a cat with walnut shells had been moving about the room. The feline race, in all its varieties, is my detestation, so I slipped out of bed to expel the intruder; but the instant my toe touched the ground, it was seized as if by a smith’s forceps. I drew it into bed, but the annoyance followed it; and in an agony of alarm and pain, I thrust my hand down, when my thumb was instantly manacled to the other suffering member. I now lost my wits altogether, and roared murder, which brought a servant in with a light, and there I was, thumb and toe, in the clinch of a land-crab.

I had been exceedingly struck with the beauty of the negro villages on the old settled estates, which are usually situated in the most picturesque spots, and I determined to visit the one which lay on a sunny bank full in view from my window, divided on two sides from the cane pieces by a precipitous ravine, and on the other two by a high logwood hedge, so like hawthorn, that I could scarcely tell the difference, even when close to it.

At a distance it had the appearance of one entire orchard of fruit trees, where were mingled together the pyramidal orange, in fruit and in flower, the former in all its stages from green to dropping ripe,—the citron, lemon, and lime-trees, the stately, glossy-leaved star-apple, the golden shaddock and grape-fruit, with their slender branches bending under their ponderous yellow fruit,—the cashew, with its apple like those of the cities of the plain, fair to look at, but acrid to the taste, to which the far-famed nut is appended like a bud,—the avocada, with its brobdignag pear, as large as a purser’s lantern,—the bread-fruit, with a leaf, one of which would have covered Adam like a bishop’s apron, and a fruit for all the world in size and shape like a blackamoor’s head; while for underwood you had the green, fresh, dew-spangled plantain, round which in the hottest day there is always a halo of coolness,—the coco root, the yam and granadillo, with their long vines twining up the neighbouring trees and shrubs like hop tendrils,—and peas and beans, in all their endless variety of blossom and of odour, from the Lima bean, with a stalk as thick as my arm, to the mouse pea, three inches high,—the pineapple, literally growing in, and constituting, with its prickly leaves, part of the hedgerows,—the custard-apple, like russet bags of cold pudding,—the cocoa and coffee bushes, and the devil knows what all, that is delightful in nature besides; while aloft, the tall graceful cocoa-nut, the majestic palm, and the gigantic wild cotton-tree, shot up here and there like minarets far above the rest, high into the blue heavens.

I entered one of the narrow winding footpaths, where an immense variety of convolvuli crept along the penguin fences, disclosing their delicate flowers in the morning freshness, (all that class here shut shop at noon,) and passion flowers of all sizes, from a soup plate to a thumb ring.

The huts were substantially thatched with palm leaves, and the walls woven with a basket-work of twigs, plastered over with clay, and whitewashed; the floors were of baked clay, dry and comfortable. They all consisted of a hall and a sleeping-room off each side of it: in many of the former I noticed mahogany sideboards and chairs, and glass decanters, while a whole lot of African drums and flutes, and sometimes a good gun, hung from the rafters; and it would have gladdened an Irishman’s heart to have seen the adjoining piggeries. Before one of the houses an old woman was taking care of a dozen black infants, little naked, glossy, black guinea pigs, with party coloured beads tied round their loins, each squatted like a little Indian pagod in the middle of a large wooden bowl, to keep it off the damp ground.

While I was pursuing my ramble, a large conch-shell was blown at the overseer’s house, and the different gangs turned in to dinner; they came along, dancing and shouting, and playing tricks on each other in the little paths, in all the happy anticipation of a good dinner, and an hour and a half to eat it in, the men well clad in Osnaburg frocks and trowsers, and the women in baize petticoats and Osnaburg shifts, with a neat printed calico short gown over all.

“And these are slaves,” thought I, “and this is West Indian bondage! Oh that some of my well-meaning anti-slavery friends were here, to judge from the evidence of their own senses!”

The following night there was to be a grand play or wake in the negro houses, over the head cooper, who had died in the morning, and I determined to be present at it, although the overseer tried to dissuade me, saying that no white person ever broke in on these orgies, that the negroes were very averse to their doing so, and that neither he, nor any of the white people on the estate, had ever been present on such an occasion. This very interdict excited my curiosity still more; so I rose about midnight, and let myself gently down through the window, and shaped my course in the direction of the negro houses, guided by a loud drumming, which, as I came nearer, every now and then sunk into a low murmuring roll, when a strong bass voice would burst forth into a wild recitative; to which succeeded a loud piercing chorus of female voices, during which the drums were beaten with great vehemence; this was succeeded by another solo, and so on. There was no moon, and I had to thread my way along one of the winding footpaths by starlight. When I arrived within a stone-cast of the hut before which the play was being held, I left the beaten track, and crept onwards, until I gained the shelter of the stem of a wild cotton-tree, behind which I skulked unseen.

The scene was wild enough. Before the door a circle was formed by about twenty women, all in their best clothes, sitting on the ground, and swaying their bodies to and fro, while they sung in chorus the wild dirge already mentioned, the words of which I could not make out; in the centre of the circle sat four men playing on gumbies, or the long drum formerly described, while a fifth stood behind them, with a conch-shell, which he kept sounding at intervals. Other three negroes kept circling round the outer verge of the circle of women, naked all to their waist cloths, spinning about and about with their hands above their heads, like so many dancing dervishes. It was one of these three that from time to time took up the recitative, the female chorus breaking in after each line. Close to the drummers lay the body in an open coffin, supported on two low stools or trestles; a piece of flaming resinous wood was stuck in the ground at the head, and another at the feet; and a lump of kneaded clay, in which another torchlike splinter was fixed, rested on the breast. An old man, naked like the solo singer, was digging a grave close to where the body lay. The following was the chant:—

“I say, broder, you can’t go yet.”


“When de morning star rise, den we put you in a hole.”


“Den you go in a Africa, you see Fetish dere.”


“You shall nyam goat dere, wid all your family.”


“Buccra can’t come dere; say, dam rascal, why you no work?”


“Buccra can’t catch Duppy, no, no.”


Three calabashes, or gourds, with pork, yams, and rum, were placed on a small bench that stood close to the head of the bier, and at right angles to it.

In a little while, the women, singing-men, and drummers, suddenly gave a loud shout, or rather yell, clapped their hands three times, and then rushed into the surrounding cottages, leaving the old grave-digger alone with the body.

He had completed the grave, and had squatted himself on his hams beside the coffin, swinging his body as the women had done, and uttering a low moaning sound, frequently ending in a loud pech, like that of a paviour when he brings down his rammer.

I noticed he kept looking towards the east, watching, as I conjectured, the first appearance of the morning star, but it was yet too early.

He lifted the gourd with the pork, and took a large mouthful.

“How is dis? I can’t put dis meat in Quacco’s coffin, dere is salt in de pork; Duppy can’t bear salt,” another large mouthful—“Duppy hate salt too much,”—here he ate it all up, and placed the empty gourd in the coffin. He then took up the one with boiled yam in it, and tasted it also.

“Salt here too—who de debil do such a ting?—must not let Duppy taste dat.” He discussed this also, placing the empty vessel in the coffin as he had done with the other. He then came to the calabash with the rum. There is no salt there, thought I.

“Rum! ah, Duppy love rum—if it be well strong, let me see Massa Niger, who put water in a dis rum, eh? Duppy will never touch dat”—a long pull—“no, no, never touch dat.” Here he finished the whole, and placed the empty vessel beside the others; then gradually sunk back on his hams with his mouth open, and his eyes starting from the sockets, as he peered up into the tree, apparently at some terrible object. I looked up also, and saw a large yellow snake, nearly ten feet long, let itself gradually down directly over the coffin, between me and the bright glare, (the outline of its glossy mottled skin glancing in the strong light, which gave its dark opaque body the appearance of being edged with flame, and its glittering tongue, that of a red hot wire,) with its tail round a limb of the cottontree, until its head reached within an inch of the dead man’s face, which it licked with its long forked tongue, uttering a loud hissing noise.

I was fascinated with terror, and could not move a muscle; at length the creature slowly swung itself up again, and disappeared amongst the branches.

Quashie gained courage, as the rum began to operate, and the snake to disappear. “Come to catch Quaccols Duppy, before him get to Africa, sure as can be. De metody parson say de debil old sarpant—dat must be old sarpant, for I never see so big one, so it must be debil.”

He caught a glimpse of my face at this moment; it seemed that I had no powers of fascination like the snake, for he roared out, “Murder, murder, de debil, de debil, first like a sarpent, den like himself; see him white face behind de tree; see him white face behind de tree;” and then, in the extremity of his fear, he popt, head foremost, into the grave, leaving his quivering legs and feet sticking upwards, as if he had been planted by the head, like a forked parsnip reversed.

At this uproar, a number of negroes ran out of the nearest houses, and, to my surprise, four white seamen appeared suddenly amongst them, who, the moment they got sight of my uniform, as I ran away, gave chase, and having overtaken me, as I stumbled in the dark path, immediately pinioned me. They were all armed, and I had no doubt were part of the crew of the smuggling schooner, and that they had a depot amongst the negro houses.

“Yo ho, my hearty, heave-to, or here goes with a brace of bullets.”

I told them who I was, and that curiosity alone brought me there.

“Gammon, tell that to the marines; you’re a spy, messmate, and on board you go with us, so sure as I be Paul Brandywine.”

Here was a change with a vengeance. An hour before I was surrounded by friends, and resting comfortably, in my ward bed, and now I was a prisoner to a set of brigands, who were smugglers at the best, and what might they not be at the worst? I had no chance of escape by any sudden effort of strength or activity, for a piece of a handspike had been thrust across my back, passing under both of my arms, which were tightly lashed to it, as if I had been trussed for roasting, so that I could no more run, with a chance of escape, than a goose without her pinions. After we left the negro houses, I perceived, with some surprise, that my captors kept the beaten tract, leading directly to, and past the overseer’s dwelling. “Come, here is a chance, at all events,” argued I to myself. “If I get within hail, I will alarm the lieges, if a deuced good pipe don’t fail me.”

This determination had scarcely been framed in my mind, when, as if my very thoughts had been audible, the smuggler next me on the right hand drew a pistol, and held it close to my starboard ear.

“Friend, if you tries to raise the house, or speaks to any Niger, or other person we meets, I’ll walk through your skull with two ounces of lead.”

“You are particularly obliging,” said I; “but what do you promise yourselves by carrying me off? Were you to murder me, you would be none the richer; for I have no valuables about me, as you may easily ascertain by searching me.”

“And do you think that freeborn Americans like we have kidnapped you for your dirty rings, and watch, and mayhap a few dollars, which I takes you to mean by your waluboles, as you calls them?”

“Why, then, what, in the devil’s name, have you kidnapped me for?” And I began to feel my choler overpowering my discretion, when Mr Paul Brandywine, who I now suspected to be the mate of the smuggler, took the small liberty of jerking the landyard, that had been made fast to the middle of the handspike, so violently, that I thought both my shoulders w ere dislocated; for I was fairly checked down on my back, just as you may have seen a pig-merchant on the Fermoy road bring an uproarious boar to his marrowbones; while the man who had previously threatened to blow my brains out, knelt beside me, and civilly insinuated, that “if I was tired of my life, he calculated I had better speak as loud again.”

There was no jest in all this; so I had nothing for it but to walk silently along with my escort, after having gathered myself up as well as I could. We crept so close under the windows of the overseer’s house, where we picked up a lot of empty ankers, slung on a long pole, that I fancied I heard, or really did hear, some one snore—oh how I envied the sleeper! At length we reached the beach, where we found two men lying on their oars, in what, so far as I could distinguish, appeared to be a sharp swift-looking whale boat, which they kept close to, with her head seaward, however, to be ready for a start should any thing suspicious appear near to them.

The boat-keeper hailed promptly, “Who goes there?” as they feathered their oars.

“The tidy little Wave,” was the answer.

No more words passed, and the men who had, in the first instance, pulled a stroke or two to give the boat way, now backed water, and tailed her on to the beach, when we all stepped on board.

Two of my captors now took each an oar; we shoved off, and glanced away through the darkness, along the smooth surface of the sparkling sea, until we reached the schooner, by this time hauled out into the fairway at the mouth of the cove, where she lay hove short, with her mainsail hoisted up, riding to the land-wind, and apparently all ready to cants and be off the moment the boat returned.

As we came alongside, the captain of her, my friend Obediah, as I had no difficulty in guessing, from his very out of the way configuration, dark as it was, called out, “I says, Paul, who have you got in the starn-sheets there?”

“A bloody spy, captain; he who was with the overseer when he peppered your sheathing t’other morning.”

“Oho, bring him on board—bring him on board. I knows there be a man-of-war schooner close aboard of the island somewheres hereabouts. I sees through it all, smash my eyes!—I sees through it. But what kept you, Paul? Don’t you see the morning star has risen?”

By this time I stood on the deck of the little vessel, which was no above a foot out of the water; and Obediah, as he spoke, pointed to the small dark pit of a companion, for there was no light below, nor indeed anywhere on board, except in the binnacle, and that carefully masked, indicating by his threatening manner, that I was to get below as speedily as possible.

“Don’t you see the morning star, sir? Why, the sun will be up in an hour, I calculate, and then the sea-breeze will be down on us before we get any thing of an offing.”

The mention of the morning star recalled vividly to my recollection the scene I had so recently witnessed at the negro wake; it seemed there was another person beside poor Quacco, likely to be crammed into a hole before the day broke, and to be carried to Africa too, for what I knew; but one must needs go when the devil drives, so I slipped down into the cabin, and the schooner having weighed, made sail to the northward.

CHAPTER VIII.—The Chase of the Smuggler

     Would I were in an alehouse in London,
     I would give all my fame for a pot of ale, and safety.’ 

     Henry V, III. II. 12—13.

The crib in which I was confined was as dark as pitch, and, as I soon found, as hot as the black-hole in Calcutta. I don’t pretend to be braver than my neighbours, but I would pluck any man by the beard who called me coward. In my small way I had in my time faced death in various shapes; but it had always been above board, with the open heaven overhead, and generally I had a goodly fellowship in danger, and the eyes of others were upon me. No wonder, then, that the sinking of the heart within me, which I now experienced for the first time, was bitter exceedingly, and grievous to be ‘borne. Cooped up in a small suffocating cabin, scarcely eight feet square, and not above four feet high, with the certainty of being murdered, as I conceived, were I to try to force my way on deck, and the knowledge that all my earthly prospects, all my dreams of promotion, were likely to be blasted, and for ever ruined by my sudden spiriting away, not to take into the heavy tale the misery which my poor mother and my friends must suffer, when they came to know it—and “who will tell this to thee, Mary?” rose to my throat, but could get no farther for a cursed bump that was like to throttle me. Why should I blush to own it—when the gipsy, after all, junked an old rich goutified coffee-planter at the eleventh hour, and married me, and is now the mother of half-a-dozen little Cringles or so? However, I made a strong effort to bear my misfortunes like a man, and, folding my arms, I sat down on a chest to abide my fate, whatever that might be, with as much composure as I could command, when half-a-dozen cockroaches flew flicker against my face.

For the information of those who have never seen this delicious insect, I take leave to mention here, that, when full grown, it is a large dingy brown-coloured beetle, about two inches long, with six legs, and two f eelers as long as its body. It has a strong anti-hysterical flavour, something between rotten cheese and assafoetida, and seldom stirs aboard when the sun is up, but lies concealed in the most obscure and obscene crevices it can creep into; so that, when it is seen, its wings and body are thickly covered with dust and dirt of various shades, which any culprit who chances to fall asleep with his mouth open, is sure to reap the benefit of, as it has a great propensity to walk into it, partly for the sake of the crumbs adhering to the masticators, and also, apparently, with a scientific desire to inspect, by accurate admeasurement with the aforesaid antennae, the state and condition of the whole potato trap.

At the same time I felt something gnawing the toe of my boot, which I inferred to be a rat—another agreeable customer for which I had a special abhorrence; but, as for beetles of all kinds, from my boyhood up, they had been an abomination unto me, and a cockroach is the most abominable of all beetles; so between the two I was speedily roused from my state of supine, or rather dogged endurance; and, forgetting the geography of my position, I sprung to my feet, whereby I nearly fractured my skull against the low deck above. I first tried the skylight; it was battened down—then the companion hatch; it was locked—but the ladder leading up to it being cooler than the noisome vapour bath I had left, I remained standing in it, trying to catch a mouthful of fresh air through the joints of the door. All this while we had been slipping along shore with the land-wind on our beam, at the rate of five or six knots, but so gently and silently, that I could distinctly hear the roar of the surf, as the long smooth swell broke on the beach, which, from the loudness of the noise, could not be above a mile to windward of us. I perceived at the same time that the schooner, although going free, did not keep away nor take all the advantage of the land-wind to make his easting, before the sea-breeze set down, that he might have done, so that it was evident he did not intend to beat up, so as to fetch the Crooked Island Passage, which would have been his course, had he been bound for the States; but was standing over to the Cuba shore, at that time swarming with pirates.

It was now good daylight, and the terral gradually died away, and left us rolling gunwale under, as we rose and fell on the long seas, with our sails flapping, bulkheads creaking and screaming, and mainboom jig-jigging, as if it would have torn every thing to pieces. I could hear my friend Obed walking the deck, and whistling manfully for the sea-breeze, and exclaiming from time to time in his barbarous lingo, “Souffle, souffle, San Antonio.” But the saint had no bowels, and there we lay roasting until near ten o’clock in the forenoon. During all this period, Obed, who was shortsighted, as I learned afterwards, kept desiring his right arm, Paul Brandywine, to keep a bright look-out for the sea-breeze to windward, or rather to the eastward, for there was no wind—because he knowed it often times tumbling down right sudden and dangerous at this season about the corner of the island hereabouts; and the pride of the morning often brought a shower with it, fit to level a maize plat smooth as his hand.

“No black clouds to windward yet, Paul?”

Paul could see nothing, and the question was repeated three or four times.

“There is a small black cloud about the size of my hand to windward, sir, right in the wake of the sun, just now, but it won’t come to any thing; I sees no signs of any wind.”

“And Elijah said to his servant, Go up now, and look towards the sea, and he went up and looked, and said there is nothing; and he said go again seven times, and it came to pass the seventh time, that he said behold there ariseth a little cloud out of the sea, like a man’s hand.”

I knew what this foreboded, which, as I thought, was more than friend Obed did; for he shortened no sail, and kept all his kites abroad, for no use as it struck me, unless he wished to wear them out by flapping against the masts. He was indeed a strange mixture of skill and carelessness; but, when fairly stirred up, one of the most daring and expert and self-possessed seamen I had ever seen, as very soon had an ugly opportunity of ascertaining.

The cloud on the horizon continued to rise rapidly, spreading over the whole eastern sky, and the morning began to lower very ominously; but there was no sudden squall, the first of the breeze coming down as usual in cats’ paws, and freshening gradually; nor did I expect there would be, although I was certain it would soon blow a merry capful of wind, which might take in some of the schooner’s small sails, and pretty considerably bother us, unless we could better our offing speedily, for it blew right on shore, which, by the setting in of the sea-breeze, was now close under our lee.

At length the sniffler reached us, and the sharp little vessel began to speak, as the rushing sound through the water is called; while the wind sang like an Eolian harp through the taut weather-rigging. Presently I heard the word given to take in the two gaff-topsails and flying jib, which was scarcely done, when the moaning sound roughened into a roar, and the little vessel began to yerk at the head seas, as if she would have cut through them, in place of rising to them, and to lie over, as if Davy Jones himself had clapperclawed the mast heads, and was in the act of using them as levers to capsize her, while the sails were tugging at her, as if they would have torn the spars out of her, so that I expected every moment, either that she would turn over, keel up, or that the masts would snap short off by the deck.

All this, which I would without the smallest feeling of dread, on the contrary with exhilaration, have faced cheerily on deck in the course of duty, proved at the time, under my circumstances, most alarming and painful to me; a fair-strae death out of the maintop, or off the weather-yard arm, would to my imagination have been an easy exit comparatively; but to be choked in this abominable hole, and drowned darkling like a blind puppy—the very thought made me frantic, and I shouted and tumbled about, until I missed my footing and fell backwards down the ladder, from the bottom of which I scuttled away to the lee-side of the cabin, quiet, through absolute despair and exhaustion from the heat and closeness.

I had remarked that from the time the breeze freshened, the everlasting Yankee drawling of the crew, and the endless confabulation of the captain and his mate, had entirely ceased, and nothing was now heard on deck but the angry voice of the raging elements, and at intervals a shrill piercing word or two from Obed, in the altered tone of which I had some difficulty in recognising his pipe, which rose clear and distinct above the roar of the sea and wind, and was always answered by a prompt, sharp, “ay, ay, sir,” from the men. There was no circumlocution, nor calculating, nor guessing now, but all hands seemed to be doing their duty energetically and well. “Come, the vagabonds are sailors after all, we shan’t be swamped this turn;” and I resumed my place on the companion ladder, with more ease of mind, and a vast deal more composure, than when I was pitched from it when the squall came on. In a moment after I could hear the captain sing out, loud even above the howling of the wind and rushing of the water, “There it comes at last—put your helm hard a-port-down with it, Paul, down with it, man-luff, and shake the wind out of her sails, or over we goes, clean and for ever.’ Everything was jammed, nothing could be let go, nor was there an axe at hand to make short work with the sheets and haulyards; and for a second or two I thought it was all over, the water rushing half way up her decks, and bubbling into the companion through the crevices; but at length the lively little craft came gaily to the wind, shaking her plumage like a wild duck; the sails were got in, all to the foresail, which was set with the bonnet off, and then she lay-to like a seagull, without shipping a drop of water. In the comparative stillness I could now distinctly hear every word that was said on deck.

“Pretty near it; rather close shaving that same, captain,” quoth Paul, with a congratulatory chuckle; “but I say, sir, what is that wreath of smoke rising from Annotta Bay over the headland?”

“Why, how should I know, Paul? Negroes burning brush, I guess.”

“The smoke from brushwood never rose and flew over the bluff with that swirl, I calculate; it is a gun, or I mistake.”

And he stepped to the companion for the purpose, as I conceived, of taking out the spy-glass, which usually hangs there in brackets fitted to hold it; he undid the hatch and pushed it back, when I popped my head out, to the no small dismay of the mate; but Obed was up to me, and while with one hand he seized the glass, he ran the sliding top sharp up against my neck, till he pinned me into a kind of pillory, to my great annoyance; so I had to beg to be released, and once more slunk back into my hole. There was a long pause; at length Paul, to whom the skipper had handed the spy-glass, spoke.

“A schooner, sir, is rounding the point.”

As I afterwards learned, the negroes who had witnessed my capture, especially the old man who had taken me for his infernal majesty, had raised the alarm, so soon as they could venture down to the overseer’s house, which was on the smuggling boat shoving off, and Mr Fyall immediately despatched an express to the Lieutenant commanding the Gleam, then lying in Annotta Bay, about ten miles distant, when she instantly slipped and shoved out.

“Well, I can’t help it if there be,” rejoined the captain. Another pause.

“Why, I don’t like her, sir; she looks like a man-of-war-and that must have been the smoke of the gun she fired on weighing.’

“Eh?” sharply answered Obed, “if it be, it will be a hanging matter if we are caught with this young splice on board; he may belong to her for what I know. Look again, Paul.”

A long, long look.

“A man-of-war schooner, sure enough, sir; I can see her ensign and pennant, now that she is clear of the land.”

“Oh Lord, oh Lord!” cried Obed, in great perplexity, “what shall we do?”

“Why, pull foot, Captain,” promptly replied Paul; “the breeze has lulled, and in light winds she will have no chance with the tidy little Wave.”

I could now perceive that the smugglers made all sail, and I heard the frequent swish—swish of the water, as they threw bucketfuls on the sails, to thicken them and make them hold more wind, while we edged away, keeping as close to the wind, however, as we could, without stopping her way.

“Starboard,” quoth Obed—“rap full, Jem—let her walk through it, my boy—there, main and foresail, flat as boards; why, she will stand the main-gaff-topsail yet—set it, Paul, set it;” and his heart warmed as he gained confidence in the qualifications of his vessel. “Come, weather me now, see how she trips it along—poo, I was an ass to quail, wan’t I, Paul?”

No chance, now, thought I, as I descended once more; “I may as well go and be suffocated at once.” I knocked my foot against something, in stepping off the ladder, which, on putting down my hand, I found to be tinder-box, with steel and flint. I had formerly ascertained there was a candle in the cabin, on the small table, stuck into a bottle; so I immediately struck a light, and as I knew that meekness and solicitation, having been tried in vain, would not serve me, I determined to go on the other tack, and to see how far an assumption of coolness and self-possession, or, it might be, a dash of bravado, whether true or feigned, might not at least ensure me some consideration and better treatment from the lawless gang into whose hands I had fallen.

So I set to and ransacked the lockers, where, amongst a vast variety of miscellaneous matters, I was not long in finding a bottle of very tolerable rum, some salt junk, some biscuit, and a goglet or porous earthen jar of water, with some capital cigars. By this time I was like to faint with the heat and smell; so I filled a tumbler with good half-and-half and swigged it off. The effect was speedy; I thought I could eat a bit, so I attacked the salt junk and made a hearty meal, after which I replenished my tumbler, lighted a cigar, pulled off my coat and waistcoat, and, with a sort of desperate glee, struck up at the top of my pipe, “Ye Mariners of England.” My joviality was soon noticed on deck.

“Eh, what be that?” quoth Obed,—“that be none of our ditties, I guess? who is singing below there?’

“We be all on deck, sir,’ responded Paul.

“It can’t be the spy, eh?—sure enough it must be he, and no one else; the heat and choke must have made him mad.”

“We shall soon see,” said Paul, as he removed the skylight, and looked down into the cabin.

Obed looked over his shoulder, peering at me with his little short-sighted pig’s eyes, into which, in my pot valiancy, I immediately chucked half a tumbler of very strong grog, and under cover of it attempted to bolt through the scuttle, and thereby gain the deck; but Paul, with his shoulder of mutton fist, gave me a very unceremonious rebuff, and down I dropped again.

“You makes yourself at home, I sees, and be hanged to you,” said Obed, laying the emphasis on the last word, pronouncing it “yoo—oo” in two syllables.

“I do, indeed, and be d——d to yoo—oo,” I replied; “and why should I not? the visit was not volunteered, you know so come down, you long-legged Yankee smuggling scoundrel, or I’ll blow your bloody buccaneering craft out of the water like the peel of an onion. You see I have got the magazine scuttle up, and there are the barrels of powder, and here is the candle, so”—

Obed laughed like the beginning of the bray of the jackass before he swings off into his “heehaw, heehaw.”—“Smash my eyes, man, but them barrels be full of pimento, all but that one with the red mark, and that be crackers fresh and sharp from the Brandywine mills.”

“Well, well, gunpowder or pimento, I’ll set fire to it if you don’t be civil.”

“Why, I will be civil; you are a curious chap, a brave slip, to carry it so, with no friend near; so, civil I will be.”

He unlocked the companion hatch and came down to the cabin, doubling his long limbs up like foot-rules, to suit the low roof.

“Free and easy, my man,” continued the Captain, as he entered. “Well, I forgive you—we are quits now—and if we were not beyond the Island Craft, I would put you ashore, but I can’t stand back now.” “Why, may I ask?” “Simply, because one of your men-of-war schooners an’t more than hull down astarn of me at this moment; she is working up in shore, and has not chased me as yet; indeed she may save herself the trouble, for ne’er a schooner in your blasted service has any chance with the tidy little Wave.”

I was by no means so sure of this.

“Well Master Obediah, it may turn up as you say, and in a light wind, I know you will either sail or sweep away from any one of them; but, to be on the square with you, if it comes on to blow, that same hooker, which I take to be his Britannic Majesty’s schooner Gleam, will, from his greater beam, and superior length, out carry and forereach on you, ay, and weather on you too, hand over hand; so this is my compact—if he nails you, you will require a friend at court, and I will stand that friend; if you escape—and I will not interfere either by advice or otherwise, either to get you taken or to get you clear will you promise to put me on board of the first English merchant vessel we fall in with, or, at the longest, to land me at St Jago de Cuba, and I will promise you, on my honour, notwithstanding all that has been said or done, that I will never hereafter inform against you, or in any way get you into trouble if I can help it. Is it done? Will you ive me your hand upon it?”

Obed did not hesitate a moment; he clenched my hand, and squeezed it till the blood nearly spouted from my finger-ends; one might conceive of Norwegian bears greeting each other after this fashion, but I trust no Christian will ever, in time coming, subject my digits to a similar species of torture.

“Agreed, my boy, I have promised, and you may depend on me; smuggler though I be, and somewhat worse on occasion mayhap, I never breaks my word.”

There was an earnestness about the poor fellow, in which I thought there could be no deception, and from that moment we were on what I may call a very friendly footing for a prisoner and his jailer.

“Well, now, I believe you, so let us have a glass of grog, and”—

Here the mate sung out, “Captain, come on deck, if you please; quickly, sir, quickly.”

By this time it had begun to breeze up again, and as the wind rose, I could see the spirits of the crew fell, as if conscious they had no chance if it freshened. When we went on deck, Paul was still peering through the telescope.

“The schooner has tacked, sir.” A dead silence; then giving the glass a swing, and driving the joints into each other, with such vehemence as if he would have broken them in pieces, he exclaimed, “She is after us, so sure as I ben’t a niger.”

“No! is she though?” eagerly enquired the captain, as he at length seized the spy-glass, twisting and turning it about and about, as he tried to hit his own very peculiar focus. At length he took a long, long, breathless look, while the eyes of the whole crew, some fifteen hands or so, were riveted upon him with the most intense anxiety.

“What a gaff-topsail she has got—my eye!—and a ringtail with more cloths in it than our squaresail—and the breeze comes down stronger and stronger!”

All this while I looked out equally excited, but with a very different interest. “Come, this will do,’ thought I; ‘she is after us; and if old Dick Casket brings that fiery sea-breeze he has now along with him, we shall puzzle the smuggler, for all his long start.”

“There’s a gun, sir,” cried Paul, trembling from head to foot.

“Sure enough,” said the skipper; “and it must be a signal. And there go three flags at the fore.—She must, I’ll bet a hundred dollars, have taken our tidy little Wave for the Admiral’s tender that was lying in Morant Bay.”

“Blarney,” thought I; “tidy as your little Wave is, she won’t deceive old Dick—he is not the man to take a herring for a horse; she must be making signals to some man-of-war in sight.”

“A strange sail right a-head,” sung out three men from forward all at once.

“Didn’t I say so?”—I had only thought so. “Come, Master Obediah, it thickens now, you’re in for it,” said I.

But he was not in the least shaken; as the matter grew serious, he seemed to brace up to meet it. He had been flurried at the first, but he was collected and cool as a cucumber now, when he saw every thing depending on his seamanship and judgment. Not so Paul, who seemed to have made up his mind that they must be taken.

“Jezebel Brandywine, you are but a widowed old lady, I calculate. I shall never see the broad, smooth Chesapeake again—no more peach brandy for Paul;” and folding his arms, he set himself doggedly down on the low tafferel.

Little did I think at the time how fearfully the poor fellow’s foreboding was so soon to be fulfilled.

“There again,” said I, “a second puff to windward.” This was another signal gun I knew; and I went forward to where the captain was reconnoitring the sail a-head through the glass. “Let me see,” said I, “and I will be honest with you, and tell you if I know her.”

He handed me the glass at once, and the instant I saw the top of her courses above the water, I was sure, from the red cross in her foresail, that she was the Firebrand, the very corvette to which I was appointed. She was so well to windward, that I considered it next to impossible that we should weather her, but Obediah seemed determined to try it. After seeing his little vessel snug under mainsail, foresail, and jib, which was as much as she could stagger under, and every thing right and tight, and all clear to make more sail should the breeze lull, he ordered the men below, and took the helm himself. What queer animals sailors are! We were rising the corvette fast; and on going aft again from the bows, where I had been looking at her, I cast my eye down the hatchway into the men’s berth, and there were the whole crew at breakfast, laughing and joking, and enjoying themselves, as heartily, apparently, nay, I verily believe in reality, as if they had been in a yacht on a cruise of pleasure, in place of having one enemy nearly within gunshot astern, and another trying to cut them off ahead.

At this moment the schooner in chase luffed up in the wind, and I noticed the foot of the foresail lift. “You’ll have it now, friend Obed; there’s at you in earnest.” While I spoke, a column of thick white smoke spouted over the bows of the Gleam, about twenty yards to windward, and then blew back again amongst the sails and rigging, as if a gauze veil had for an instant been thrown over the little vessel, rolling off down the wind to leeward, in whirling eddies, growing thinner and thinner, until it disappeared altogether. I heard the report this time, and the shot fell close alongside of us.

“A good mark with that apple,” coolly observed the Captain; “the Long Tom must be a tearer, to pitch its mouthful of iron this length.”

Another succeeded; and if I had been still pinned up in the companion, there would have been no log now, for it went crash through into the hold.

“Go it, my boys,” shouted I; “a few more as well aimed, and heigh for the Firebrand’s gunroom!”

At the mention of the Firebrand I thought Obed started, but he soon recovered himself, and looking at me with all the apparent composure in the world, he smiled as he said, “Not so fast, Lieutenant; you and I have not drank our last glass of swizzle yet, I guess. If I can but weather that chap ahead, I don’t fear the schooner.”

The corvette had by this time answered the signal from the Gleam, and had hauled his wind also, so that I did not conceive it possible that the Wave could scrape clear, without coming under his broadside.

“You won’t try it, Obed, surely?’

“Answer me this, and I’ll tell you,” rejoined he. “Does that corvette now carry long 18’s or 32-pound carronades?”

“She carries 32-pound carronades.’

“Then you’ll not sling your cot in her gunroom this cruise.”

All this time the little Wave was carrying to it gallantly, her jib-boom bending like whalebone, and her long slender topmasts whipping about like a couple of fishing-rods, as she thrashed at it, sending the spray flashing over her mastheads at every pitch; but notwithstanding her weatherly qualities, the heavy cross sea, as she drove into it, headed her off bodily, and she could not prevent the Gleam from creeping up on her weather quarter, where she peppered away from her long 24-pounder, throwing the shot over and over us.

To tack, therefore, would have been to run into the lion’s mouth, and to bear up was equally hopeless, as the corvette, going free, would have chased her under water; the only chance remaining was to stand on, and trust to the breeze taking off, and try to weather the ship, now about three miles distant on our lee bow, braced sharp up on the opposite tack, and evidently quite aware of our game.

As the corvette and the Wave neared each other, he threw a shot at us from the boat gun on his topgallant forecastle, as if to ascertain beyond all doubt the extent of our insanity, and whether we were serious in our attempt to weather him and escape.

Obed held right on his course, like grim Death. Another bullet whistled over our mastheads, and, with the aid of the glass, I could see by the twinkling of feet, and here and there a busy peering face through the ports, that the crew were at quarters fore and aft, while fourteen marines or so were all ready rigged on the poop, and the nettings were bristling through the whole length of the ship, with fifty or sixty small-arm men.

All this I took care to communicate to Obediah. “I say, my good friend, I see little to laugh at in all this. If you do go to windward of him at all, which I greatly doubt, you will have to cross his fore-foot within pistol-shot at the farthest, and then you will have to rasp along his whole broadside of great and small, and they are right well prepared and ready for you, that I can tell you; the skipper of that ship has had some dedication, I guess, in the war on your coast, for he seems up to your tricks, and I don’t doubt but he will tip you the stem, if need be, with as little compunction as I would kill a cockroach, devil confound the whole breed! There,—I see his marines and small-arm men handling their firelocks, as thick as sparrows under the lee of a hedge in a snow-storm, and the people are training the bull-dogs fore and aft. Why, this is downright, stark staring lunacy, Obed; we shall be smashed like an eggshell, and all hands of us whipped off to Davy, from your cursed foolhardiness.”

I had made several pauses in my address, expecting an answer, but Obed was mute as a stone. At length I took the glass from my eye, and turned round to look at him, startled by his silence.

I might have heard of such things, but I had never before seen the working of the spirit so forcibly and fearfully demonstrated by the aspect of the outward man. With the exception of myself, he was the only man on deck, as before mentioned, and by this time he was squatted down on it, with his long legs and thighs thrust down into the cabin, through the open skylight. The little vessel happened to carry a weather helm, so that his long sinewy arms, with their large veins and leaders strained to cracking, covered but a small way below the elbow by his jacket, were stretched as far as they could clutch the tiller to windward, and his enormous head, supported on his very short trunk, that seemed to be countersunk into the deck, gave him a most extraordinary appearance. But this was not all; his complexion, usually sallow and sunburnt, was now ghastly and blue, like that of the corpse of a drowned man; the muscles of the neck, and the flesh of the cheeks and chin were rigid and fixed, and shrunk into one half of their usual compass; the lips were so compressed that they had almost entirely disappeared, and all that marked his mouth was a black line; the nostrils were distended, and thin and transparent, while the forehead was shrivelled into the most minute and immovable wrinkles, as if done with a crimping instrument while over his eyes, or rather his eye, for he kept one closed as if it had been hermetically sealed, he had lashed with half a dozen turns of spun-yarn a wooden socket, like the but-end of an opera glass, fitted with some sort of magnifier, through which he peered out ahead most intensely, stooping down, and stretching his long bare neck to its utmost reach, that he might see under the foot of the foresail.

I had scarcely time to observe all this, when a round shot came through the head of the mainsail, grazing the mast, and the very next instant a bushel of grape, from one of the bow guns, a 32-pound carronade, was crashed in on us amidships. I flung down the glass, and dived through the companion into the cabin—I am not ashamed to own it; and any man who would undervalue my courage in consequence, can never, taking into consideration the peculiarities of my situation, have known the appalling sound, or infernal effect of a discharge of grape. Round shot in broadsides is a joke to it; musketry is a joke to it; but only conjure up in your imagination, a shower of iron bullets, of the size of well-grown plums, to the number of from sixty to one hundred and twenty, taking effect within a circle, not above ten feet in diameter, and that all this time there was neither honour nor glory in the case, for I was a miserable captive, and I fancy I may save myself the trouble of farther enlargement.

I found that the crew had by this time started and taken up the planks of the cabin floor, and had stowed themselves well down into the run, so as to be as much out of harm’s way as they could manage, but there was neither fear nor flinching amongst them; and although totally devoid of all gasconade—on the contrary, they had taken all the precautions men could do in their situation, to keep out of harm’s way, or at least to lessen the danger—there they sat, silent, and cool, and determined. “I shall never undervalue an American as an enemy again,” thought I. I lay down on the side of the little vessel, now nearly level as she lay over, alongside of Paul Brandywine, in a position that commanded a view of Obed’s face through the small scuttle. Ten minutes might have elapsed—a tearing crash—and a rattle on the deck overhead, as if a shower of stones had been thrown from aloft on it.

“That’s through the mainmast, I expect,” quoth Paul.

I looked from him to the Captain; a black thick stream of blood was trickling down behind his ear. Paul had noticed it also.

“You are hurt by one of them splinters, I see; give me the helm now, Captain;” and, crushed down as the poor fellow appeared to be under some fearful and mysterious consciousness of impending danger, he nevertheless addressed himself to take his Captain’s place.

“Hold your blasted tongue”—was the polite rejoinder.

“I say, Captain,”—shouted your humble servant, “you may as well eat pease with a pitchfork, as try to weather him. You are hooked, man, flounder as you will. Old Nick can’t shake you clear—so I won’t stand this any longer;” and making a spring, I jammed myself through the skylight, until I sat on the deck, looking aft, and confronting him, and there we were, stuck up like the two kings of Brentford, or a couple of smiling cherries on one stalk. I have often laughed over the figure we must have cut, but at the time there was that going on that would have made Comus himself look grave. I had at length fairly aroused the sleeping devil within him.

“Look out there, Lieutenant—look out there,”—and he pointed with his sinister claw down to leeward. I did so—whew!—what a sight for poor Master Thomas Cringle! “You are booked for an outside place, Master Tommy,” thought I to myself—for there was the corvette in very truth—she had just tacked, and was close aboard of us on our lee quarter, within musket-shot at the farthest, bowling along upon a wind, with the green, hissing, multitudinous sea surging along her sides, and washing up in foam, like snow flakes, through the mid-ship ports, far aft on the quarterdeck, to the glorification of jack, who never minds a wet jacket, so long as he witnesses the discomfiture of his ally, Peter Pipeclay. The press of canvass she was carrying laid her over, until her copper sheathing, clear as glass, and glancing like gold, was seen high above the water, throughout her whole length, above which rose her glossy jet black bends, surmounted by a milk-white streak, broken at regular intervals into eleven goodly ports, from which the British cannon, ugly customers at the best, were grinning, tompion out, open-mouthed at us; and above all, the clean, well-stowed white hammocks filled the nettings, from tafferel to cathead oh! that I had been in one of them, snug on the berth deck! Aloft, a cloud of white sail swelled to the breeze, till the cloth seemed inclined to say goodby to the bolt ropes, bending the masts like willow-wands, as if the devil, determined to beat Paganini himself, was preparing fiddlesticks to play a spring with, on the cracking and straining weather shrouds and backstays, and tearing her sharp wedge-like bows out of the bowels of the long swell, until the cutwater, and ten yards of the keel next to it, were hove clean out of the sea, into which she would descend again with a roaring plunge, burying every thing up to the hause-holes, and driving the brine into mist, over the fore-top, like vapour from a waterfall, through which, as she rose again, the bright red copper on her bows flashed back the sunbeams in momentary rainbows. We were so near, that I could with the naked eye distinctly see the faces of the men. There were at least 150 determined fellows at quarters, and clustered with muskets in their hands, wherever they could be posted to most advantage.

There they were in groups about the ports, (I could even see the captains of the guns, examining the locks,) in their clean white frocks and trowsers, the officers of the ship, and the marines, clearly distinguishable by their blue or red jackets. I could discern the very sparkle of the epaulets.

High overhead, the red cross, that for a thousand years “has braved the battle and the breeze,” blew out strong from the peak, like a sheet of flickering white flame, or a thing instinct with life, struggling to tear away the ensign haulyards, and to escape high into the clouds; while, from the main-royal-masthead, the long white pennant streamed upwards into the azure heavens, like a ray of silver light. Oh! it was a sight “most beautiful to see,” as the old song hath it,——-but I confess I would have preferred that pleasure from t’other side of the hedge.

There was no hailing nor trumpeting, although, as we crossed on opposite tacks when we first weathered her, just before she hove in stays, I had heard a shrill voice sing out, “Take good aim, men—Fire”; but now each cannon in thunder shot forth its glance of flame, without a word being uttered, as she kept away to bring them to bear in succession, while the long feathery cloud of whirling white smoke that shrouded her sides from stem to stem, was sparkling brilliantly throughout with crackling musketry, for all the world like fire-flies in a bank of night fog from the hills, until the breeze blew it back again through the rigging, and once more unveiled the lovely craft in all her pride and glory.

“You see all that?’ said Obed.

“To be sure I do, and I feel something too’; for a sharp rasping jar was repeated in rapid succession three or four times, as so many shot struck our hull, and made the splinters glance about merrily; and the musketballs were mottling our top sides and spars, plumping into the timber, whit whit! as thick as ever you saw schoolboys’ plastering a church door with clay-pellets. There was a heavy groan, and a stir amongst the seamen in the run.

“And, pray, do you see and hear all that yourself, Master Obed? The iron has clenched some of your chaps down there.—Stay a bit, you shall have a better dose presently, you obstinate old”—

He waved his hand, and interrupted me with great energy—“I dare not give in, I cannot give in; all I have in the world swims in the little hooker, and strike I will not so long as two planks stick together.

“Then,” quoth I, “you are simply a damned, cold-blooded, calculating scoundrel—brave I will never call you.” I saw he was now stung to the quick.

“Lieutenant, smuggler as I am, don’t goad me to what worse I may have been; there are some deeds done in my time, which at a moment like this I don’t much like to think upon. I am a desperate man, Master Cringle; don’t, for your own sake, as well as mine, try me too far.’

“Well but”—persisted I. He would hear nothing.

“Enough said, sir, enough said; there was not an honester trader nor a happier man in all the Union, until your infernal pillaging an burning squadron in the Chesapeake captured and ruined me; but I paid it off on the prize-master, although we were driven on the rocks after all. I paid it off, and, God help me, I have never thriven since, enemy although he was. I see the poor fellow’s face yet, as I!”—He checked himself suddenly, as if aware that he might say more than could be conveniently retracted. “But I dare not be taken; let that satisfy you, Master Cringle, so go below—below with you, sir”—I saw he had succeeded in lashing himself into a fury—“or, by the Almighty God, who hears me, I shall be tempted to do another deed, the remembrance of which will haunt me till my dying day.”

All this passed in no time, as we say, much quicker than one can read it; and I now saw that the corvette had braced up sharp to the wind again, on the same tack that we were on; so I slipped down like an eel, and once more stretched myself beside Paul, on the lee side of the cabin. We soon found that she was indeed after us in earnest, by the renewal of the cannonade, and the breezing up of the small arms again. Two round shot now tore right through the deck, just beneath the larboard coamings of the main hatchway; the little vessel’s deck, as she lay over, being altogether exposed to, the enemy’s fire, they made her whole frame tremble again, smashing every thing in their way to shivers, and going right out through her bottom on the opposite side, within a dozen streaks of her keel, while the rattling of the clustered grapeshot every now and then made us start, the musketry all the while peppering away like a hail shower. Still the skipper, who I expected every moment to see puffed away from the tiller like smoke, held upon deck as if he had been bullet-proof, and seemed to escape the hellish tornado of missiles of all sorts and sizes by a miracle.

“He is in league with the old one, Paul,” said I; “howsoever, you must be nabbed, for you see the ship is forereaching on you, and you can’t go on t’other tack, surely, with these pretty eyelet holes between wind and water on the weather side there? Your captain is mad why will you, then, and all these poor fellows, go down, because he dare not surrender, for some good deed of his own, eh?”

The roar of the cannon and noise of the musketry made it necessary for me to raise my voice here, which the small scuttle, like Dionysius’s ear, conveyed unexpectedly to my friend, the captain, on deck.

“Hand me up my pistols, Paul.”

It had struck me before, and I was now certain, that from the time he had become so intensely excited as he was now, he spoke with a pure English accent, without the smallest dash of Yankeeism.

“So, so; I see—no wonder you won’t strike, you renegade,” cried I.

“You have tampered with my crew, sir, and abused me,” he announced, in a stem, slow tone, much more alarming than his former fierceness, “so take that, to quiet you;” and deuce take me if he did not, the moment he received the pistols from his mate, fire slap at me, the ball piercing the large muscle of my neck on the right side, missing the artery by the merest accident. Thinking I was done for, I covered my face with my hands, and commanded myself to God, with all the resignation that could be expected from a poor young fellow in my grievous circumstances, expecting to be cut off in the prima vera of his days, and to part for ever from—. Poo, that there line is not my forte. However, finding the haemorrhage by no means great, and that the wound was in fact slight, I took the captain’s rather strong hint to be still, and lay quiet, until a 32-pound shot struck us bang on the quarter. The subdued force with which it came, showed that we were widening our distance, for it did not drive through and through with a crash, but lodged in a timber; nevertheless it started one of the planks across which Paul and I lay, and pitched us both with extreme violence bodily into the run amongst the men, three of them lying amongst the ballast, which was covered with blood, two badly wounded, and one dead. I came off with some slight bruises, however; not so the poor mate. He had been nearest the end or but that was started, which thereby struck him so forcibly, that it fractured his spine, and dashed him amongst his shipmates, shrieking piercingly in his great agony, and clutching whatever he could grasp with his hands, and tearing whatever he could reach with his teeth, while his limbs below his waist were dead and paralysed.

“Oh, Christ! water, water,” he cried, “water, for the love of God, water!” The crew did all they could; but his torments increased—the blood began to flow from his mouth—his hands became clay—cold and pulseless—his features sharp, blue, and death—like—his respiration difficult—the choking death—rattle succeeded, and in ten minutes he was dead.

This was the last shot that told—every report became more and more faint, and the musketry soon ceased altogether.

The breeze had taken off, and the Wave, resuming her superiority in light winds, had escaped.

CHAPTER IX.—Cuba Fishermen

     “El Pescador de Puerto Escondido,
     Pesca mas que Peseado,
     Quando la Luna redonda Reflexado en la mar profunda.
     Pero cuidado,
     El pobre sera el nino perdido Si esta por Anglisman cogido.
     Ay de mi”.

It was now five in the afternoon, and the breeze continued to fall, and the sea to go down, until sunset, by which time we had I run the corvette hull down, and the schooner nearly out of sight. Right ahead of us rose the high land of Cuba, to the westward of Cape Maize, clear and well-defined against the northern sky; and as we neither hauled our wind to weather the east end of the island, nor edged away for St Jago, it was evident, beyond all doubt, that we were running right in for some one of the piratical haunts on the Cuba coast.

The crew now set to work, and removed the remains of their late messmate, and the two wounded men, from where they lay upon the ballast in the Run, to their own berth forward in the bow of the little vessel; they then replaced the planks which they had started, and arranged the dead body of the mate along the cabin floor, close to where I lay, faint and bleeding, and more heavily bruised than I had at first thought.

The captain was still at the helm; he had never spoken a word either to me or any of the crew, since he had taken the trifling liberty of shooting me through the neck, and no thanks to him that the wound was not mortal; but he now resumed his American accent, and began to drawl out the necessary orders for repairing damages.

When I went on deck shortly afterwards, I was surprised beyond measure to perceive the injury the little vessel had sustained, and the uncommon speed, handiness, and skill, with which it had been repaired. However lazily the command might appear to have been given, the execution of it was quick as lightning. The crew, now reduced to ten working hands, had, with an almost miraculous promptitude, knotted and spliced the rigging, mended and shifted sails, fished the sprung and wounded spars, and plugged and nailed lead over the shot-holes, and all within half an hour.

I don’t like Americans; I never did, and never shall like them; I have seldom met with an American gentleman, in the large and complete sense of the terms. I have no wish to eat with them, drink with them, deal with, or consort with them in any way; but let me tell the whole truth, nor fight with them, were it not for the laurels to be acquired, by overcoming an enemy so brave, determined, and alert, and every way so worthy of one’s steel, as they have always proved. One used to fight with a Frenchman, as a matter of course, and for the fun of the thing as it were, never dreaming of the possibility of Johnny Crapeau beating us, where there was any thing approaching to an equality of force; but, say as much as we please about larger ships and more men, and a variety of excuses which proud John Bull, with some truth very often I will admit, has pertinaciously thrust forward to palliate his losses during the short war, a regard for truth and fair dealing, which I hope are no scarce qualities amongst British seamen, compels me to admit, that although I would of course peril my life and credit more readily with an English crew, yet I believe a feather would turn the scale between the two countries, so far as courage and seamanship goes; and let it not be forgotten, although we have now regained our superiority in this respect, yet, in gunnery and smallarm practice, we were as thoroughly weathered on by the Americans during the war, as we overtopped them in the bulldog courage with which our boarders handled those genuine English weapons, the cutlass and the pike.

After the captain had given his orders, and seen the men fairly at work, he came down to the cabin, still ghastly and pale, but with none of that ferocity stamped on his grim features, from the outpouring of which I had suffered so severely. He never once looked my way, no more than if I had been a bundle of old junk; but folding his hands on his knee, he sat down on a small locker, against which the feet of the dead mate rested, and gazed earnestly on his face, which was immediately under the open skylight, through which, by this time, the clear cold rays of the moon streamed full on it, the short twilight having already fled, chained as it is in these climates to the chariot wheels of the burning sun. My eye naturally followed his, but I speedily withdrew it. I had often bent over comrades who had been killed by gunshot wounds, and always remarked, what is well-known, that the features wore a benign expression, bland and gentle, and contented as the face of a sleeping infant, while their limbs were composed decently, often gracefully, like one resting after great fatigue, as if nature, like an affectionate nurse, had arranged the deathbed of her departing child with more than usual care, preparatory to his last long sleep; whereas those who had died from the thrust of a pike, or the blow of a cutlass, however mild the living expression of their countenance might have been, were always fearfully contorted both in body and face.

In the present instance, the eyes were wide open, white, prominent, and glazed like those of a dead fish; the hair, which was remarkably fine, and had been worn in long ringlets, amongst which a large gold earring glittered, the poor fellow having been a nautical dandy of the first water was drenched and clotted into heavy masses with the death-sweat, and had fallen back on the deck from his forehead, which was well formed, high, broad and massive. His nose was transparent, thin, and sharp, the tense skin on the bridge of it glancing in the silver light, as if it had been glass. His mouth was puckered on one side into angular wrinkles, like a curtain drawn up awry, while a clotted stream of black gore crept from it sluggishly down his right cheek, and coagulated in a heap on the deck. His lower jaw had fallen, and there he lay agape with his mouth full of blood.

His legs, indeed his whole body below his loins, where the fracture of the spine had taken place, rested precisely as they had been arranged after he died; but the excessive swelling and puffing out of his broad chest, contrasted shockingly with the shrinking of the body at the pit of the stomach, by which the arch of the ribs was left as well defined as if the skin had been drawn over a skeleton, and the distortion of the muscles of the cheeks and throat evinced the fearful strength of the convulsions which had preceded his dissolution. It was evident, indeed, that throughout his whole person above the waist, the nervous system had been utterly shattered; the arms, especially, appeared to have been awfully distorted, for when crossed on his breast, they had to be forcibly fastened down at the wrists by a band of spun-yam to the buttons of his jacket. His right hand was shut, with the exception of the forefinger, which was extended, pointing upwards; but the whole arm, from the shoulder down, had the horrible appearance of struggling to get free from the cord which confined it.

Obed, by the time I had noticed all this, had knelt beside the shoulder of the corpse, and I could see by the moonlight that flickered across his face as the vessel rolled in the declining breeze, that he had pushed off his eye the uncouth spyglass which he had fastened over it during the chase, so that it now stood out from the middle of his forehead like a stunted horn; but, in truth, “it was not exalted,” for he appeared crushed down to the very earth by the sadness of the scene before him, and I noticed the frequent sparkle of a heavy tear as it fell from his iron visage on the face of the dead man. At length he untied the string that fastened the eyeglass round his head, and taking a coarse towel from a locker, he spunged poor Paul’s face and neck with rum, and then fastened up his lower jaw with the lanyard. Having performed this melancholy office, the poor fellow’s feelings could no longer be restrained by my presence.

“God help me, I have not now one friend in the wide world. When I had neither home, nor food, nor clothing, he sheltered me, and fed me, and clothed me, when a single word would have gained him five hundred dollars, and run me up to the fore yardarm in a wreath of white smoke; but he was true as steel; and oh that he was now doing for me what I have done for him! who would have moaned over me,—me, who am now without wife or child, and have disgraced all my kin! alack-a-day, alack-a-day!”—And he sobbed and wept aloud, as if his very heart would have burst in twain.—“But I will soon follow you, Paul; I have had my warning already; I know it, and I believe it.” At this instant the dead hand of the mate burst the ligature that kept it down across his body, and slowly rose up and remained in a beckoning attitude. I was seized with a cold shivering from head to foot, and would have shrieked aloud, had it not been for very shame, but Obed was unmoved.—“I know it, Paul. I know it. I am ready, and I shall not be long behind you.”

He fastened the arm down once more, and having called a couple of hands to assist him, they lashed up the remains of their shipmate in his hammock, with a piece of iron ballast at his feet, and then, without more ado, handed the body up through the skylight; and I heard the heavy splash as they cast it into the sea. When this was done, the captain returned to the cabin, bringing a light with him, filled and drank off a glass of strong grog. Yet he did not even now deign to notice me, which was by no means soothing; and I found that, since he wouldn’t speak, I must, at all hazards.

“I say, Obed, do you ever read your Bible?” He looked steadily at me with his lacklustre eyes. “Because, if you do, you may perhaps have fallen in with some such passages as the following:—Behold I am in your hand; but know ye for certain, that if ye put me to death, ye shall surely bring innocent blood upon yourselves.”

“It is true, Mr Cringle, I feel the truth of it here,” and he laid his large bony hand on his heart. “Yet I do not ask you to forgive me; I don’t expect that you can or will; but unless the devil gets possession of me again—which, so sure as ever there was a demoniac in this world, he had this afternoon when you so tempted me—I hope soon to place you in safety, either in a friendly port, or on board of a British vessel; and then what becomes of me is of little consequence, now since the only living soul who cared a dollar for me is at rest amongst the coral branches at the bottom of the deep green sea.”

“Why, man,” rejoined I, “leave off this stuff; something has turned your brain, surely; people must die in their beds, you now, if they be not shot, or put out of the way somehow or other; and as for my small affair, why I forgive you, man—from my heart I forgive you; were it only for the oddity of your scantling, mental and corporeal, I would do so; and you see I am not much hurting—so lend me a hand, like a good fellow, to wash the wound with a little spirits—it will stop the bleeding, and the stiffness will soon go off.”

“Lieutenant Cringle, I need not tell what I know you have found out, that I am not the vulgar Yankee smuggler, fit only to be made a butt of by you and your friends, that you no doubt at first took me for; but who or what I am, or what I may have been, you shall never know—but I will tell you this much....”

“Devil confound the fellow!—why this is too much upon the brogue, Obed. Will you help me to dress my wound, man, and leave off your cursed sentimental speeches, which you must have gleaned from some old novel or another? I’ll hear it all by and by.”

At this period I was a reckless young chap, with strong nerves, and my own share of that animal courage, which generally oozes out at one’s finger ends when one gets married and turned of thirty; nevertheless I did watch with some anxiety the effect which my unceremonious interruption was to have upon him. I was agreeably surprised to find that he took it all in good part, and set himself, with great alacrity and kindness even, to put me to rights, and so successfully, that when I was washed and cleansed, and fairly coopered up, I found myself quite able to take my place at the table; and having no fear of the College of Surgeons before my eyes, I helped myself to a little of the needful, and in the plenitude of my heart, I asked Obed’s pardon for my ill-bred interruption.

“It was not quite the thing to cut you short in the middle of your Newgate Calendar, Obed—beg pardon, your story I mean; no offence now, none in the world—eh? But where the deuce, man, got you this fine linen of Egypt?” looking at the sleeves of the shirt Obed had obliged me with, as I sat without my coat. “I had not dreamt you had any thing so luxurious in your kit.”

I saw his brow begin to lower again, so the devil prompted me to advert, by way of changing the subject, to a file of newspapers, which, as it turned out, might have proved to be by far the most dangerous topic I could have hit upon. He had laid them aside, having taken them out of the locker when he was rummaging for the linen. “What have we here? Kingston Chronicle, Montego Bay Gazette, Falmouth Advertiser. A great newsmonger you must be. What arrivals?—let me see;—you know I am a week from headquarters. Let me see.”

At first he made a motion as if he would have snatched them out of my hands, but speedily appeared to give up the idea, merely murmuring “What can it signify now?”

I continued to read—“Chanticleer from a cruise—Tonnant from Barbadoes Pique from Port-au-Prince. Oh, the next interests me the Firebrand is daily expected from Havanna; she is to come through the gulf, round Cape Antonio, and beat up the haunts of the pirates all along the Cuba shore.” I was certain now that at the mention of this corvette mine host winced in earnest. This made me anxious to probe him farther. “Why, what means this pencil mark—‘Firebrand’s number off the Chesapeake was 1022?’ How the deuce, my fine fellow, do you know that?”

He shook his head, but said nothing, and I went on reading the pencil memoranda—“But this is most probably changed; she now carries a red cross in the head of her foresail, and has very short lower masts like the Hornet.” Still he made me no answer. I proceeded—“Stop, let me see what merchant ships are about sailing. Loading for Liverpool, the John Gladstone, Peter Ponderous master;” and after it, again in pencil “Only sugar: goes through the gulf.—Only sugar,” said I, still fishing; “too bulky, I suppose.—Ariel, Jenkins Whitehaven;” remark—“sugar, coffee, and logwood. Nuestra Senora de los Dolores, to sail for Chagres on 7th proximo;” remark—“rich cargo of bale goods, but no chance of overtaking her.” “El Rayo to sail for St Jago de Cuba on the 10th proximo;” remark—“sails fast; armed with a long gun and musketry; thirty hands; about ten Spanish passengers; valuable cargo of dry goods; mainmast rakes well aft; new cloth in the foresail about half-way up; will be off the Moro about the 13th.—And what is this written in ink under the above?—The San Pedro from Chagres, and Marianita from Santa Martha, although rich, have both got convoy.—Ah, too strong for your friends, Obed—I see, I see.—Francis Baring, Loan French, master—an odd name, rather, for a skipper;” remark—“forty seroons of cochineal and some specie; is to sail from Morant Bay on 5th proximo, to go through the windward passage; may be expected off Cape St Nicolas on the 12th, or thereby.” I laid down the paper and looked him full in the face. “Nicolas is an ominous name. I fear the good ship Francis Baring will find it so. Some of the worthy saint’s clerks to be fallen in with off the Mole, eh? Don’t you think as I do, Obed?” Still silent. “Why you seem to take great delight in noting the intended departures and expected arrivals, my friend—merely to satisfy your curiosity, of course; but, to come to close quarters with you, captain, I now know pretty well the object of your visiting Jamaica now and then you are indeed no vulgar smuggler.”

“It is well for you and good for myself, Mr Cringle, that something weighs heavy at my heart at this moment, and that there is that about you which, notwithstanding your ill-timed jesting, commands my respect, and engages my goodwill—had it not been so, you would have been alongside of poor Paul at this moment.” He leant his arms upon the table, and gazed intensely on my face as he continued in a solemn tremulous tone—“Do you believe in auguries, Mr Cringle? Do you believe that coming events cast their shadows before?’”—oh, that little Wiggy Campbell had been beside me to have seen the figure and face of the man who now quoted him!

“Yes, I do, it is part of the creed of every sailor to do so; I do believe that people have had forewarnings of peril to themselves or their friends.”

“Then what do you think of the mate beckoning me with his dead hand to follow him?”

“Why, you are raving, Obed; you saw that he had been much convulsed, and that the limb, from the contraction of the sinews, was forcibly kept down in the position it broke loose from—the spunyarn gave way, and of course it started up—nothing wonderful in all this although it did at the time somewhat startle me, I confess.”

“It may be so, it may be so. I don’t know,” rejoined he, “but taken along with what I saw before”—Here his voice sank into so hollow and sepulchral a tone as to be almost unintelligible. “But there is no use in arguing on the subject. Answer me this, Lieutenant Cringle, and truly, so help you God at your utmost need, did the mate leave the cabin at any moment after I was wounded by the splinter?” And he seized one of my hands convulsively with his iron paw, while he pointed up through the open scuttle towards heaven with the other, which trembled like a reed. The moon shone strong on the upper part of his countenance, while the yellow smoky glare of the candle over which he bent, blending harshly and inharmoniously with the pale silver light, fell full on his uncouth figure, and on his long scraggy bare neck and chin and cheeks, giving altogether a most unearthly expression to his savage features, from the conflicting tints and changing shadows cast by the flickering moonbeams streaming fitfully through the skylight, as the vessel rolled to and fro, and by the large torchlike candle as it wavered in the night wind. The Prince of the Powers of the Air might have sat for his picture by proxy. It was just such a face as one has dreamed of after a hot supper and cold ale, when the whisky had been forgotten—horrible, changing, vague, glimmering, and undefined; and as if something was still wanting to complete the utter frightfulness of his aspect, the splinter wound in his head burst out afresh from his violent agitation, and streamed down in heavy drops from his forehead, falling warm on my hand. I was much shaken at being adjured in this tremendous way, with the hot blood gluing our hands together, but I returned his grasp as steadily as I could, while I replied, with all the composure he had left me, and that would not have quite filled a Winchester bushel.

“He never left my side from the time he offered to take your place after you had been wounded.”

He fell back against the locker as if he had been shot through the heart. His grasp relaxed, he drew his breath very hard, and I thought he had fainted.

“Then it was not him that stood by me; I thought it might have been him, but I was a fool, it was impossible.”

He made a desperate effort to recover his composure, and succeeded.

“And, pray, Master Obediah,” quoth I, “what did you see?”

He answered me sharply—“Never mind, never mind—here, Potomac, lend us a hand to sling a cot for this gentleman; there now, see the lanyard is sound, and the lacing all tight and snug—now put that mattrass into it, and there is linen in the chest.”

In a trice my couch was rigged, all comfortable, snow-white linen, nice pillow, soft mattrass, &c. and Obed, filling me another tumbler, helped himself also; he then drank to my health, wished me a sound sleep, promised to call me at daylight, and as he left the cabin he said, “Mr Cringle, had it been my object to have injured you, I would not have waited until now. You are quite safe so far as depends on me, so take your rest—good night, once more.”

I tumbled into bed, and never once opened my eyes until Obed called me at daylight, that is, at five in the morning, according to his promise.

By this time we were well in with the Cuba shore; the land might be two miles from us, as we could see the white surf. Out at sea, although all around was clear as crystal, there was nothing to be seen of the Gleam or Firebrand, but there were ten or twelve fishing canoes, each manned with from four to six hands, close aboard of us;—we seemed to have got becalmed in the middle of a small fleet of them. The nearest to us hailed in Spanish, in a very friendly way.

“Como estamos Capitan, que hay de nuevo; hay algo de bueno, para los pobres Pescadores?” and the fellow who had spoken laughed loudly.

The Captain desired him to come on board, and then drew him aside, conversing earnestly with him. The Spanish fisherman was a very powerful man; he was equipped in a blue cotton shirt, Osnaburg trowsers, sandals of untanned bullock’s hide, a straw hat, and wore the eternal greasy red sash and long knife. He was a bold, daring looking fellow, and frequently looked frowningly on me, and shook his head impatiently, while the Captain, as it seemed, was explaining to him who I was. Just in this nick of time my friend Potomac handed up my uniform coat, (I had previously been performing my ablutions on deck in my shirt and trowsers,) which I put on, swab and all, thinking no harm. But there must have been mighty great offence nevertheless, for the fisherman, in a twinkling, casting a fierce look at me, jumped overboard like a feather, clearing the rail like a flying fish, and swam to his canoe that had shoved off a few paces.

When he got on board he stood up and shook his clenched fist at Obed, shouting, “Picaro, traidor, Ingleses hay abordo, quieres enganarnos!” He then held up the blade of his paddle, a signal which all the canoes answered in a moment in the same manner, and then pulled towards the land, from whence a felucca, invisible until that moment, now swept out, as if she had floated up to the surface by magic, for I could see neither creek nor indentation on the shore, nor the smallest symptom of any entrance to a port or cove. For a few minutes the canoes clustered round this necromantic craft, and I could notice that two or three hands from each of them jumped on board; they then paddled off in a string, and vanished one by one amongst the mangrove bushes as suddenly as the felucca had appeared. All this puzzled me exceedingly I looked at Obed he was evidently sorely perplexed.

“I had thought to have put you on board a British vessel before this, or failing that, to have run down, and landed you at St Jago, Mr Cringle, as I promised; but you see I am prevented by these honest men there. Get below, and as you value your life, and, I may say, mine, keep your temper, and be civil.”

I did as he suggested but peeped out of the cabin skylight to see what was going on, notwithstanding. The felucca was armed with a heavy carronade on a pivot, and as full of men as she could hold, fierce, half naked, savage looking fellows,—she swept rapidly up to us, and closing on our larboard quarter, threw about five-and-twenty of her genteel young people on board, who immediately secured the crew, and seized Obed. However, they, that is, the common sailors, seemed to have no great stomach for the job, and had it not been for the fellow I had frightened overboard, I don’t think one of them would have touched him. Obed bore all this with great equanimity.

“Why, Francisco,” he said, to this personage, in good Spanish, “why, what madness is this? your suspicions are groundless; it is as I tell you, he is my prisoner, and whatever he may have been to me, he can be no spy on you.”

“Cuchillo entonces,” was the savage reply.

“No, no,” persisted Obediah, “get cool, man, get cool; I am pledged that no harm shall come to him; and farther I have promised to put him ashore at St Jago, and I will be as good as my word.”

“You can’t if you would,” rejoined Francisco; “the Snake is at anchor under the Moro.”

“Then he must go with us.”

“We shall see as to that,” said the other; then raising his voice he shouted to his ragamuffins, “Comrades, we are betrayed; there is an English officer on board, who can be nothing but a spy; follow me!”

And he dashed down the companion ladder, knife in hand, while I sprung through the small scuttle, like a rat out of one hole when a ferret is put in at the other, and crept as close to Obed as I could; Francisco when he missed me, came on deck again. The Captain had now seized a cutlass in one hand, and held a cocked pistol in the other. It appeared he had greater control, the nature of which I now began to comprehend, over the felucca’s people, than Francisco bargained for, as the moment the latter went below, they released him, and went forward in a body. My persecutor again advanced close up to me, seized me by the collar with one hand, and tried to drag me forward, brandishing his naked knife aloft in the other.

Obed promptly caught his sword-arm—“Francisco,” he exclaimed, still in Spanish, “fool, madman, let go your hold! let go, or by the Heaven above us, and the hell we are both hastening to, I will strike you dead!”

The man paused, and looked round to his own people, and seeing one or two encouraging glances and gestures amongst them, he again attempted to drag me away from my hold on the tafferel. Something flashed in the sun, and the man fell! his left arm, the hand of which still clutched my throat, while mine grasped its wrist, had been shred from his body by Obed’s cutlass, like a twig; and, oh God, my blood curdles to my heart even now when I think of it! the dead fingers kept the grasp sufficiently long to allow the arm to fall heavily against my side, where it hung for some seconds, until the muscles relaxed and it dropped on the deck. The instant that Obed struck the blow, he caught hold of my hand, threw away his cutlass, and advanced towards the group of the felucca’s men, pistol in hand.

“Am I not your captain, ye cowards—have I ever deceived you yet—have I ever flinched from heading you where the danger was greatest—have you not all that I am worth in your hands, and will you murder me now?”

“Viva, el noble capitan, viva!”

And the tide turned as rapidly in our favour as it had lately ebbed against us.

“As for that scoundrel, he has got no more than he deserves,” said he, turning to where Francisco lay, bleeding like a carcass in the shambles; “but tie up his arm some of ye, I would be sorry he bled to death.”

It was unavailing, the large arteries had emptied his whole lifeblood he had already gone to his account.

This most miserable transaction, with all its concomitant horrors, to my astonishment, did not seem to make much impression on Obed, who now, turning to me, said, with perfect composure,—“You have there another melancholy voucher for my sincerity,” pointing to the body; “but time presses, and you must now submit to be blindfolded, and that without further explanation at present.”

I did so with the best grace I could, and was led below, where two beauties, with loaded pistols, and a drawn knife each, obliged me with their society, one seated on each side of me on the small locker, like two deputy butchers ready to operate on an unfortunate veal. It had now fallen dead calm, and, from what I heard, I conjectured that the felucca was sweeping in towards the land with us in tow, for the sound of the surf grew louder and louder. By and by we seemed to slide beyond the long smooth swell into broken water, for the little vessel pitched sharp and suddenly, and again all was still, and we seemed to have sailed into some landlocked cove. From the loud echo of the voices on deck, I judged that we were in a narrow canal, the banks of which were reflecting the sound; presently this ceased, and although we skimmed along as motionless as before, I no longer heard the splash of the felucca’s sweeps; the roar of the sea gradually died away, until it sounded like distant thunder, and I thought we touched the ground now and then, although slightly. All at once the Spanish part of the crew, for we still had a number of the felucca’s people with us, sang out “Palanca,” and we began to pole along a narrow marshy lagoon, coming so near the shore occasionally, that our sides were brushed by the branches of the mangrove bushes. Again the channel seemed to widen, and I could hear the felucca once more ply her sweeps. In about ten minutes after this the anchor was let go, and for a quarter of an hour, nothing was heard on deck but the bustle of the people furling sails, coiling down the ropes, and getting every thing in order, as is usual in coming into port. It was evident that several boats had boarded us soon after we anchored, as I could make out part of the greetings between the strangers and Obed, in which my own name recurred more than once. In a little while all was still again, and Obed called down the companion to my guards, that I might come on deck,—a boon I was not long in availing myself of.

We were anchored nearly in the centre of a shallow swampy lagoon, about a mile across, as near as I could judge; two very large schooners, heavily armed, were moored ahead of us, one on each bow, and another rather smaller lay close under our stern; they all had sails bent, and every thing apparently in high order, and were full of men. The shore, to the distance of a bow-shot from the water all around us, was low, marshy, and covered with an impervious jungle of thick strong reeds and wild canes, with here and there a thicket of mangroves; a little farther off, the land swelled into lofty hills, covered to the very summit with heavy timber, but every thing had a moist, green, steamy appearance, as if it had been the region of perpetual rain. “Lots of yellow fever here,” thought I, as the heavy rank smell of decayed vegetable matter came off on the faint sickly breeze, and the sluggish fog banks crept along the dull clay-coloured motionless surface of the tepid water. The sea view was quite shut out—I looked all round and could discern no vestige of the entrance. Right ahead there was about a furlong of land cleared at the only spot which one could call a beach,—that is, a hard shore of sand and pebbles. Had you tried to get ashore at any other point, your fate would have been that of the Master of Ravenswood; as fatal, that is, without the gentility; for you would have been suffocated in black mud, in place of clean sea-sand. There was a long shed in the centre of this cleared spot, covered in with boards, and thatched with palm leaves; it was open below, a sort of capstan-house, where a vast quantity of sails, anchors, cordage, and most kinds of sea stores were stowed, carefully covered over with tarpawling. Overhead there was a flooring laid along the couples of the roof, the whole length of the shed, forming a loft of nearly sixty feet long, divided by bulkheads into a variety of apartments, lit by small rude windows in the thatch, where the crews of the vessels, I concluded, were occasionally lodged during the time they might be under repair. The boat was manned, and Obed took me ashore with him.

We landed near the shed I have described, beneath which we encountered about forty of the most uncouth and ferocious-looking rascals that my eyes had ever been blessed withal; they were of every shade, from the woolly Negro and long-haired Indian, to the sallow American and fair Biscayan; and as they intermitted their various occupations of mending sails, fitting and stretching rigging, splicing ropes, making spun-yam, coopering gun carriages, grinding pikes and cutlasses, and filling cartridges, to look at me, they grinned and nodded to each other, and made sundry signs and gestures which made me regret many a past peccadillo that in more prosperous times I little thought on or repented of, and I internally prayed that I might be prepared to die as became a man, for my fate appeared to be sealed. The only ray of hope that shot into my mind, through all this gloom, came from the respect the thieves, one and all, paid the Captain; and, as I had reaped the benefit of assuming an outward recklessness and daring, which I really did not at heart possess, I screwed myself up to maintain the same port still, and swaggered along, jabbering in my broken Spanish, right and left, and jesting even with the most infamous-looking scoundrels of the whole lot, while, God he knows, my heart was palpitating like a girl’s when she is asked to be married. Obed led the way up a ladder into the loft, where we found several messes at dinner; and passing through various rooms, in which a number of hammocks were slung, we at length arrived at the eastern end, which was boarded off into an apartment eighteen or twenty feet square, lighted by a small port-hole in the end, about ten feet from the ground. I could see several huts from this window, built just on the edge of the high wood, where some of the country people seemed to be moving about, and round which a large flock of pigs and from twenty to thirty bullocks were grazing. All beyond, as far as the eye could reach, was one continuous forest, without any vestige of a living thing; not even a thin wreath of blue smoke evinced the presence of a fellow-creature; I seemed to be hopelessly cut off from all succour, and my heart again died within me.

“I am sorry to say you must consider yourself a prisoner here for a few days,” said Obed.

I could only groan.

“But the moment the coast is clear, I will be as good as my word, and land you at St Jago.”

I groaned again. The man was moved.

“I would I could do so sooner,” he continued; “but you see by how precarious a tenure I hold my control over these people; therefore I must be cautious, for your sake as well as my own, or they would make little of murdering both of us, especially as the fellow who would have cut your throat this morning has many friends amongst them; above all, I dare not leave them for any purpose for some days. I must recover my seat, in which, by the necessary severity you witnessed, I have been somewhat shaken. So goodbye; there is cold meat in that locker, and some claret to wash it down with. Don’t, I again warn you, venture out during the afternoon or night. I will be with you betimes in the morning. So goodbye so long. Your cot, you see, is ready slung.”

He turned to depart, when, as if recollecting himself, he stooped down, and taking hold of a ring, he lifted up a trap door, from which there was a ladder leading down to the capstan-house. “I had forgotten this entrance; it will be more convenient for me in my visits.”

In my heart I believe he intended this as a hint that I should escape through the hole at some quiet opportunity; and he was descending the ladder, when he stopped and looked round, greatly mortified, as it struck me.

“I forgot to mention that a sentry has been placed, I don’t know by whose orders, at the foot of the ladder, to whom I must give orders to fire at you, if you venture to descend. You see how the land lies; I can’t help it.”

This was spoken in a low tone, then aloud—“There are books on that shelf behind the canvass screen; if you can settle to them, they may amuse you.”

He left me, and I sat down disconsolate enough. I found some Spanish books, and a volume of Lord Byron’s poetry, containing the first canto of Childe Harold, two numbers of Blackwood, with several other English books and magazines, the names of the owners on all of them being carefully erased.

But there was nothing else that indicated the marauding life of friend Obediah, whose apartment I conjectured was now my prison, if I except a pretty extensive assortment of arms, pistols, and cutlasses, and a range of massive cases, with iron clamps, which were ranged along one side of the room. I paid my respects to the provender and claret; the hashed chicken was particularly good; bones rather large or so, but flesh white and delicate. Had I known that I was dining upon a guana, or large wood lizard, I scarcely think I would have made so hearty a meal. Long cork, No. 2, followed ditto, No. 1; and as the shades of evening, as poets say, began to fall by the time I had finished it, I toppled quietly into my cot, said my prayers such as they were, and fell asleep.

It must have been towards morning, from the damp freshness of the air that came through the open window, when I was roused by the howling of a dog, a sound which always moves me. I shook myself; but before I was thoroughly awake, it ceased; it appeared to have been close under my window.

I was turning to go to sleep again, when a female, in a small suppressed voice, sung the following snatch of a vulgar Port Royal ditty, which I scarcely forgive myself for introducing here to polite society.

     “Young hofficer come home at night,
     Him give me ring and kisses;
     Nine months, one picaniny white,
     Him white almost like missis.
     But missis fum my back wid switch,
     Him say de shild for massa;
     But massa say him”

The singer broke off suddenly, as if disturbed by the approach of some one.

“Hush, hush, you old foolish—” said a man’s voice, in the same low whispering tone; “you will waken de dronken sentry dere, when we shall all be put in iron. Hush, he will know my voice more better.”

It was now clear that some one wished to attract my attention; besides, I had a dreamy recollection of having heard both the male and female voices before. I listened, therefore, all alive. The man began to sing in the same low tone.

“Newfoundland dog love him master de morest Of all de dog ever I see; Let him starve him, and kick him, and cuff him de sorest, Difference none never makee to he.”

There was a pause for a minute or two.

“It no use,” the same voice continued; “him either no dere, or he won’t hear us.”

“Stop,” said the female, “stop; woman head good for someting. I know who he shall hear.—Here, good dog, sing psalm; good dog, sing psalm,’ and thereupon a long loud melancholy howl rose wailing through the night air.

“If that be not my dear old dog Sneezer, it is a deuced good imitation of him,” thought I.

The woman again spoke—“Yowl leetle piece more, good dog,” and the howl was repeated.

I was now certain. By this time I had risen, and stood at the open window; but it was too dark to see any thing distinctly below. I could barely distinguish two dark figures, and what I concluded was the dog sitting on end between them.

“Who are you?” “What do you want with me?”

“Speak softly, massa, speak softly, or the sentry may hear us, for all de rum I give him.”

Here the dog recognised me, and nearly spoiled sport altogether; indeed it might have cost us our lives, for he began to bark and frisk about, and to leap violently against the end of the capstan-house, in vain endeavours to reach the window.. “Down, Sneezer, down, sir; you used to be a dog of some sense; down.”

But Sneezer’s joy had capsized his discretion, and the sound of my voice pronouncing his name drove him mad altogether, and he bounded against the end of the shed, like a battering-ram.

“Stop, man, stop,” and I held down the bight of my neckcloth, with an end in each hand. He retired, took a noble run, and in a trice hooked his forepaws in the handkerchief, and I hauled him in at the window. “Now, Sneezer, down with you, sir, down with you, or your rampaging will get all our throats cut.” He cowered at my feet, and was still as a lamb from that moment. I stepped to the window. “Now, who are you, and what do you want?” said I.

“Ah, massa, you no know me?”

“How the devil should I? Don’t you see it is as dark as pitch?”

“Well, massa, I will tell you; it is me, massa.”

“I make no great doubt of that; but who may you be?”

“Lord, you are de foolis person now; make me talk to him,” said the female. “Massa, never mind he, dat stupid fellow is my husband, and surely massa know me?”

“Now, my very worthy friends, I think you want to make yourselves known to me; and if so, pray have the goodness to tell me your names, that is, if I can in any way serve you.”

“To be sure you can, massa; for dat purpose I come here.”

The woman hooked the word out of his mouth. “Yes, massa, you must know me is Nancy, and dat old stupid is my husband Peter Mangrove, him who” here Peter chimed in—“Yes, massa, Peter Mangrove is de person you have de honour to address, and”—here he lowered his voice still more, although the whole dialogue from the commencement had been conducted in no higher tone than a loud whisper—“we have secured one big large canoe, near de mout of dis dam hole, which, wid your help, I tink we shall be able to launch troo de surf; and once in smoot water, den no fear but we shall run down de coast safely before de wind till we reach. St Jago.”

My heart jumped against my ribs. Here’s an unexpected chance, thought I. “But, Peter, how in the name of mumbo jumbo, came you here?”

“Why, massa, you do forget a leetle, dat I am a Creole negro, and not a naked tatooed African, whose exploits, dat is de wonderful ting him never do in him’s own country, him get embroidered and pinked in gunpowder on him breach; beside, I am a Christian gentleman like youshef; so d——n mumbo jumbo, Massa Cringle.”

I saw where I had erred. “So say I, Peter, d——n mumbo jumbo particularly; but how came you here, man? tell me that.”

“Why, massa, I was out in de pilot boat schooner, wid my wife here, and five more hands, waiting for de outward bound, finking no harm, when dem piratical rascal catch we, and carry us off. Yankee privateer bad enough; but who ever hear of pilot being carry off? blasphemy dat—carry off pilot! Who ever dream of such a ting? every shivilized peoples respect pilot—carry off pilot!—oh Lord” and he groaned in spirit for several seconds.

“And the dog?” enquired I.

“Oh, massa, I could not leave him at home; and since you was good enough to board him wid us, he has messed wid us, ay and slept wid us; and when we started last, although he showed some dislike at going on board, I had only to say, Sneezer, we go look for you master and he make such a bound, dat he capsize my old woman dere, heel, over head; oh dear, what display, Nancy, you was exhibit!”

“Hold your tongue, Peter; you hab no decency, you old willain.”

“Well, but, Peter, speak out; when are we to make the attempt? where are the rest of your crew?”

“Oh dear! oh dear! dat is de worstest; oh dear!” and he began to cry and sob like the veriest child. “Oh, massa,”—after he had somewhat recovered himself;—“Oh, massa, dese people debits. Why, de make all de oder on board walk de plank, wid two ten pound shot, one at each foot. Oh, if you had seen de clear shining blue skin, as de became leetle and leetle, and more leetler, down far in de clear green sea! Oh dear! oh dear! Only to tink dat each wavering black spot was fellow-creature like one-shef, wid de heart’s blood warm in his bosom at de very instant of time we lost sight of him for ever!”

“God bless me,” said I; “and how did you escape, and the black dog, and the black—ahem—beg pardon—your wife I mean; how were you spared?”

“Ah, massa! I can’t say; but bad as de were, de seemed to have a liking for brute beasts, so dem save Sneezer, and my wife, and myshef; we were de only quadrupeds saved out of de whole crew Oh dear! Oh dear!”

“Well, well; I know enough now. I will spare you the pain of any farther recital, Peter; so tell me what I am to do.”

“Stop, massa, till I see if de sentry be still sound. I know de fellow, he was one on dem; let me see”—and I heard him through the loose flooring boards walk to the foot of the trap ladder leading up to my berth. The soliloquy that followed was very curious of its kind. The negro had excited himself by a recapitulation of the cruelties exercised on his unfortunate shipmates, and the unwarrantable caption of himself and rib, a deed that in the nautical calendar would rank in atrocity with the murder of a herald or the bearer of a flag of truce. He kept murmuring to himself, as he groped about in the dark for the sentry “Catch pilot! who ever hear of such a ting? I suppose dem would have pull down light-house, if dere had been any for pull. Where is dis sentry rascal?—him surely no sober yet?”

The sentry had fallen asleep as he leant back on the ladder, and had gradually slid down into a sitting position, with his head leaning against one of the steps, as he reclined with his back towards it, thus exposing his throat and neck to the groping paw of the black pilot.

“Ah—here him is, snoring heavy as my Nancy—well, dronk still; no fear of him overhearing we—nice position him lie in—quite convenient—could cut his troat now—slice him like a pumpkin—de debil is surely busy wid me, Peter. I find de very clasp—knife in my starboard pocket beginning to open of himshef.”

I tapped on the floor with my foot.

“Ah, tank you, Massa Tom—de debil nearly get we all in a scrape just now. However, I see him is quite sound—de sentry dat is, for de oder never sleep, you know.” He had again come under the window. “Now, Lieutenant, in two word, to-morrow night at two bells, in de middle watch, I will be here, and we shall make a start of it; will you venture, sir?”

“Will I?—to be sure I will; but why not now, Peter? why not now?”

“Ah, massa, you no smell de daylight; near daybreak already, sir. Can’t make try dis night, but to-morrow night I shall be here punctual.”

“Very well, but the dog, man? If he be found in my quarters, we shall be blown, and I scarcely think he will leave me.”

“Garamighty! true enough, massa; what is to be done? De people know de dog was catch wid me, and if he be found wid you, den de will sospect we communication togidder. What is to be done?”

I was myself not a little perplexed, when Nancy whispered, “De dog have more sense den many Christian person. Tell him he must go wid us dis one night, no tell him dis night, else him won’t; say dis one night, and dat if him don’t, we shall all be deaded; try him, massa.”

I had benefited by more extraordinary hints before now, although, well as I knew the sagacity of the poor brute, I could not venture to hope it would come up to the expectations of Mrs Mangrove. But I’ll try. “Here, Sneezer, here, my boy; you must go home with Peter tonight, or we shall all get into a deuced mess; so here, my boy, here is the bight of the handkerchief again, and through the window you must go; come, Sneezer, come.”

To my great joy and surprise, the poor dumb beast rose from where he had coiled himself at my feet, and after having actually embraced me, by putting his forepaws on my shoulders, as he stood on his hind legs, and licked my face from ear to ear, uttering a low, fondling, nuzzling sort of whine, like a nurse caressing a child, he at once leapt on the window sill, put his forepaws through the handkerchief, and was dropped to the ground again. I could immediately perceive the two dark figures of the pilot and his wife, followed by the dog, glide away as noiselessly as if they had been spirits of the night, until they were lost under the shade of the thick jungle.

I turned in, and—what will not youth and fatigue do?—I fell once more fast asleep, and never opened my eyes until Obed shook me in my cot about eight o’clock in the morning.

“Good morning, Lieutenant. I have sent up your breakfast, but you don’t seem inclined to eat it.”

“Don’t you believe it, my dear Obed. I have been sound asleep till this moment; only stop till I have slipped on my—those shoes, if you please thank you—waistcoat—that will do. Now—coffee, fish, yams, and plantains, and biscuit, white as snow, and short as—and eggs and zounds! claret to finish with?—Why, Obed, you surely don’t desire that I should enjoy all these delicacies in solitary blessedness?”

“Why, I intend to breakfast with you, if my society be not disagreeable.”

“Disagreeable! Not in the least, quite the contrary. That black grouper looks remarkably beautiful. Another piece of yam, if you please.—Shall I fill you a cup of coffee, Obed? For my own part, I always stow the ground tier of my cargo dry, and then take a topdressing. Write this down as an approved axiom with all thorough breakfast eaters. Why, man, you are off your feed; what are you turning up your ear for, in that incomprehensible fashion, like a duck in thunder? A little of the claret—thank you. The very best butter I have ever eaten out of Ireland—now, some of that avocado pear—and as for biscuit, Leman never came up to it. I say, man,—hillo, where are you?—rouse ye out of your brown study, man.”

“Did you hear that, Mr Cringle?”

“Hear what?—I heard nothing,” rejoined I; “but hand me over that land crab.—Thank you, and you may send the spawl of that creeping thing along with it; that guana. I had a dislike to eating a lizard at first, but I have got over it somehow;—and a slice of ham, a small taste of the unclean beast, Obed—peach-fed, I’ll warrant.”

There was a pause. The report of a great gun came booming along, reverberated from side to side of the lagoon, the echoes growing shorter and shorter, and weaker and weaker, until they growled themselves asleep in a hollow rumble like distant thunder.

“Ha, ha! Dick Casket for a thousand! Old Blowhard has stuck in your skirts, Master Obed—but Lord help me, man! let us finish our breakfast; he won’t be here this half hour.”

I expected to see mine host’s forehead lowering like a thunder cloud from my ill-timed funning; but to my surprise, his countenance exhibited more amenity than I thought had been in the nature of the beast, as he replied,—

“Why, lieutenant, the felucca put to sea last night, to keep a bright look-out at the mouth of our cove here. I suppose that is him overhauling some vessel.”

“It may be so;—hush! there’s another gun—Two!”

Obed changed countenance at the double report.

“I say, Obed, the felucca did not carry more than one gun when I saw her, and she has had no time to load and fire again.”

He did not answer a word, but continued, with a piece of guana on the end of, his fork in one hand and a cup of coffee in the other, as if he had been touched by the wand of a magician. Presently we heard one or two dropping shots, quickly thickening into a rattle of musketry. He threw down his food, picked up his hat, and trundled down stairs, as if the devil had kicked him. “Pedro, que hay?” I could hear him say to some one below, who appeared to have arrived in great haste, for he gasped for breath.

“Aqui viene la feluca,” answered Pedro; “perseguido por dos Lanchas Canoneras llenas de Gente.”

“Abordo entonces, abordo todo el mundo; arma arma, aqui vienen los Engleses; arma, arma!”

And all from that instant was a regular hillabaloo. The drums on board the schooners beat to quarters, a great bell, formerly the ornament of some goodly ship, no doubt, which had been slung in the fork of a tree, clanged away at a furious rate, the crews were hurrying to and fro, shouting to each other in Creole Spanish, and Yankee English, while every cannon-shot from the felucca or the boat guns came louder and louder, and the small arms peppered away sharper and sharper. The shouts of the men engaged, both friends and foes, were now heard, and I could hear Obed’s voice on board the largest schooner, which lay full in view from my window, giving orders, not only to his own crew, but to those of the others. I heard him distinctly sing out, after ordering them to haul upon the spring on his cable, “Now, men, I need not tell you to fight bravely, for if you are taken every devil of you will be hanged, so hoist away the signal,” and a small black ball flew up through the rigging, until it reached the main topgallant-masthead of the schooner, where it hung a moment, and in the next blew out in a large black swallow-tailed flag, like a commodore’s broad pennant.

“Now,” shrieked he, “let me see who dares give in with this voucher for his honesty flying aloft!” I twisted and craned myself out of the window, to get a view of what—was going on elsewhere; however, I could see nothing but Obed’s large schooner from it, all the other craft were out of the range of my eye, being hid by the projecting roof of the shed. The noise continued—the shouting rose higher than ever—the other schooners opened their fire, both cannon and musketry; and from the increasing vehemence of the Spanish exclamations, and the cheering on board Obed’s vessels, I concluded the attacking party were having the worst of it. My dog Sneezer now came jumping and scrambling up the trap stair, his paws slipping between the bars at every step, his mouth wide open, and his tongue hanging out, while he barked, and yelled, and gasped to get at me, as if his life depended on it. After him I could see the round woolly pate of Peter Mangrove, Esquire, as excited apparently as the dog, and as anxious to get up; but they got jammed together in the small hatch, and stuck there, man and beast. At length Peter spoke—

“Now, sir, now! Nancy has run on before to the beach wid two paddles; now for it, now for it.”

Down trundled master, and dog, and pilot. By this time there was no one in the lower part of the shed, which was full of smoke, while the infernal tumult on the water still raged as furiously as ever, the shot of all sorts and sizes hissing, and splashing, and ricochetting along the smooth surface of the harbour, as if there had been a sleet of musket and cannonballs and grape. Peter struck out at the top of his speed, Sneezer and I followed: we soon reached the jungle, dashed through a path that had been recently cleared with a cutlass or billhook, for the twigs were freshly shred, and in about ten minutes reached the high wood. However, no rest for the wicked, although the row seemed lessening now.

“Some one has got the worst of it,” said I.

“Never mind, massa,” quoth Peter, “or we shan’t get de betterest ourshef.”

And away we galloped again, until I had scarcely a rag an inch square on my back, or anywhere else, and my skin was tom in pieces by the prickly bushes and spear grass. The sound of firing now ceased entirely, although there was still loud shouting now and then.

“Push on, massa—dem will soon miss we.”

“True enough, Peter—but what is that?” as we came to a bundle of clouts walloping about in the morass.

“De debil it must be, I tink,” said the pilot. “No, my Nancy it is, sticking in the mud up to her waist; what shall us do? you fink, massa, we hab time for can stop to pick she out?”

“Heaven have mercy, Peter—yes, unquestionably.”

“Well, massa, you know best.”

So we tugged at the sable heroine, and first one leg came home out of the tenacious clay, with a plop, then the other was drawn out of the quagmire. We then relieved her of the paddles, and each taking hold of one of the poor half-dead creature’s hands, we succeeded in getting down to the beach, about half a mile to leeward of the entrance to the cove. We found the canoe there, plumped Nancy stem foremost into the bottom of it for ballast, gathered all our remaining energies for a grand shove, and ran her like lightning into the surf, till the water flashed over and over us, reaching to our necks. Next moment we were both swimming, and the canoe, although full of water, beyond the surf, rising and falling on the long swell. We scrambled on board, set Nancy to bale with Peter’s hat, seized our paddles, and skulled away like fury for ten minutes right out to sea, without looking once about us, until a musket-shot whistled over our heads, then another, and a third; and I had just time to hold up a white handkerchief, to prevent a whole platoon being let drive at us from the deck of his Britannic Majesty’s schooner Gleam, lying-to about a cable’s length to windward of us, with the Firebrand a mile astern of her out at sea. In five minutes we got on board of the former.

“Mercy on me, Tom Cringle, and is this the way we are to meet again?” said old Dick Gasket, as he held out his large, bony, sunburnt hand to me. “You have led me a nice dance, in a vain attempt to redeem you from bondage, Tom; but I am delighted to see you although I have not had the credit of being your deliverer—very glad to see you, Tom; but come along man, come down with me, and let me rig you, not quite a Stultze’s fit, you know, but a jury rig you shall have, as good as Dick Casket’s kit can furnish forth, for really you are in a miserable plight, man.”

“Bad enough indeed. Mr Casket—many thanks though—bad enough, as you say; but I would that your boats crew were in so good a plight.”

Mr Gasket looked earnestly at me—“Why, I have my own misgivings, Cringle; this morning at day-break, the Firebrand in company, we fell in with an armed felucca. It was dead calm, and she was out of gun shot, close in with the land. The Firebrand immediately sent the cutter on board full armed, with instructions to me to man the launch, and arm her with the boat-gun, and then to send both boats to overhaul the felucca. I did so, standing in as quickly as the light air would take me, to support them; the felucca all this while sweeping in shore as fast as she could pull. But the boats were too nimble for her, and our launch had already saluted her twice from the six pounder in the bow, when the sea-breeze came thundering down in a white squall, that reefed our gaff-topsail in a trice, and blew away a whole lot of light sails, like so many paper-kites. When it cleared away, the devil a felucca, boat, or any thing else, was to be seen. Capsized they could not have been, for all three were not likely to have gone that way; and as to any creek they could have run into, why we could see none. That they had pulled in shore, however, was our conclusion; but here have we been, the whole morning, firing signal guns every five minutes without success.”

“Did you hear no firing after the squall?” said I.

“Why, some of my people thought they did, but it was that hollow, tremulous, reverberating kind of sound, that it might have been thunder; and the breeze blew too strong to have allowed us to hear musketry a mile and a half to windward. I did think I saw some smoke rise, and blow off now and then, but” “But me no buts, Master Richard Casket; Peter Mangrove here, as well as myself, saw your people pursue the felucca into the lion’s den, and I fear they have been crushed in his jaws.” I briefly related what we had seen—Casket was in great distress.

“They must have been taken, Cringle. The fools! to allow themselves to be trepanned in this way. We must stand out and speak the corvette. All hands make sail!”

I could not help smiling at the grandeur of Dick’s emphasis on the all, when twenty hands, one-third of them boys, and the rest landsmen, scrambled up from below, and began to pull and haul in no very seamanlike fashion. He noticed it.

“A—h, Tom, I know what you are grinning at, but I fear it has been no laughing matter to my poor boats crew—all my best hands gone, God help me!”

Presently being under the Firebrand’s lee quarter, we lowered down the boat and went on board, where, for the first time, the extreme ludicrousness of my appearance and following flashed on me. There we were all in a bunch, the dog, Mr and Mrs Mangrove, and Thomas Cringle, gentleman, such in appearance as I shall shortly describe them.

Old Richard Gasket, Esq., first clambered up the side and made his bow to the Hon. Captain Transom, who was standing near the gangway, on the snow-white deck, amidst a group of officers, where every thing was in the most apple-pie order, himself, both in mind and apparel, the most polished concern in the ship; while the whole crew, with the exception of the unfortunate absentees in the cutter, were scrambling, to get a good view of us.

I have already said, that my uniform was torn to pieces; trowsers ditto; my shoes had parted company in the quagmire; and as for hat, it was left in my cot. I had a dirty bandage tied round my neck, performing the twofold office of a cravat and a dressing to my wound; while the blood from the scratches had dried into black streaks adown and across my face and paws, and I was altogether so begrimed with mud that my mother would not have known me. Dick made his salaam, and then took up a position beside the sally-port, with an important face, like a showman exhibiting wild beastesses, a regular “stir-him-up-with-a-long pole” sort of look. I followed him “This is Lieutenant Cringle, Captain Transom.”

“The devil it is!” said Transom, trying in vain to keep his gravity. “Why, I see it is—How do you do, Mr Cringle? glad to see you.”

“This is Peter Mangrove, branch-pilot,” continued Casket, as Peter, bowing, tried to slide past out of sight.

Till this instant I had not time to look at him—he was even a much queerer-looking figure than myself. He had been encumbered with no garment besides his trowsers when we started, and these had been reduced, in the scramble through the brake, to a waistband and two knee bands, from which a few shreds fluttered in the breeze, the rest of his canvass having been entirely torn out of the bolt-ropes. For an upper dress he had borrowed a waistcoat without sleeves from the purser of the schooner, which hung loose and unbuttoned before, while behind, being somewhat of the shortest, some very prominent parts of his stem frame were disclosed, as even an apology for a shirt he had none. Being a decent man, however, he had tied his large straw hat round his waist, by strings fastened to the broad brims, which nearly met behind, so that the crown covered his loins before, like a petard, while the sameness of his black naked body was relieved by being laced with blood from numberless lacerations.

Next came the female—“This is the pilot’s wife, Captain Transom,” again sung out old Dick; but decency won’t let me venture on a description of poor Nancy’s equipment, beyond mentioning, that one of the Gleam’s crew had given her a pair of old trowsers, which, as a sailor has no bottom, and Nancy was not a sailor, were most ludicrously scanty at top, and devil another rag of any kind had the poor creature on, but a handkerchief across her bosom. There was no standing all this; the crew forward and in the waist were all on the broad grin, while the officers, after struggling to maintain their gravity until they were nearly suffocated, fairly gave in, and the whole ship echoed with the most uproarious laughter; a young villain, whether a Mid or no I could not tell, yelling out in the throng, “Hurra for Tom Cringle’s Tail!”

I was fairly beginning to lose countenance, when up jumped Sneezer to my relief out of the boat, with an old cocked hat lashed on his head, a marine’s jacket buttoned round his body, and his coalblack muzzle bedaubed with pipe-clay, regularly monkeyfied, the momentary handiwork of some wicked little reefers, while a small pipe sung out quietly, as if not intended to reach the quarterdeck, although it did do so, “And here comes the last joint of Mr Cringle’s Tail.” The dog began floundering and jumping about, and walloping amongst the people, most of whom knew him, and immediately drew their attention from me and my party to himself; for away they all bundled forward, dog and men tumbling and scrambling about like so many children, leaving the coast clear to me and my attendants. The absurdity of the whole exhibition had for an instant, even under the very nose of a proverbially taught hand, led to freedoms which I had believed impossible in a man-of-war. However, there was too much serious matter in hand, independently of any other consideration, to allow the merriment created by our appearance to last long.

Captain Transom, immediately on being informed how matters stood, with seamanlike promptitude determined to lighten the Gleam, and send her in with the boats, for the purpose of destroying the haunt of the pirates, and recovering the men, if they were still alive; but before any thing could be done, it came on to blow, and for a week we had great difficulty in maintaining our position off the coast against the strength of the gale and lee current.

It was on the Sunday morning after I had escaped that it moderated sufficiently for our purpose, when both vessels stood close in, and Peter and I were sent to reconnoitre the entrance of the port in the gig. Having sounded and taken the bearings of the land, we returned on board, when the Gleam’s provisions were taken out and her water started. The ballast was then shifted, so as to bring her by the head, that she might thus draw less water by being on an even keel, all sharp vessels of her class requiring much deeper water aft than forward; the corvette’s launch, with a 12-pound carronade fitted, was then manned and armed with thirty seamen and marines, under the command of the second lieutenant; the jolly boat and the two quarter boats, each with twelve men, followed in a string, under the third lieutenant, the master, and the senior midshipman; thirty picked hands were added to the schooner’s crew, and I was desired to take the gig with six smart hands and Peter Mangrove, and to accompany the whole as pilot; but to pull out of danger so soon as the action commenced, so as to be ready to help any disabled boat, or to carry orders from the commanding officer.

At nine in the morning, we gave three cheers, and leaving the corvette, with barely forty hands on board, the Gleam made sail towards the harbour’s mouth, with the boats in tow; but when we got within musket shot of the entrance, the breeze failed us, when the order of sailing was reversed, the boats now taking the schooner in tow, preceded by your humble servant in the gig. We dashed safely through the small canal of blue water, which divided the surf at the harbour’s mouth, having hit it to a nicety; but when about a pistolshot from the entrance, the channel narrowed to a muddy creek, not more than twenty yards wide, with high trees, and thick underwood close to the water’s edge. All was silent, the sun shone clown upon us like the concentrated rays of a burning glass, and there was no breeze to dissipate the heavy dank mist that hovered over the surface of the unwholesome canal, nor was there any appearance of a living thing, save and except a few startled waterfowl, and some guanoes on the trees, and now and then an alligator, like a black log of charred wood, would roll off a slimy bank of brown mud, with a splash into the water.

We rowed on, the schooner every now and then taking the ground, but she was always quickly warped off again by a kedge; at length, after we had in all proceeded, it might be, about a mile from the beach, we came to a boom of strong timber clamped with iron, stretching across the creek. We were not unprepared for this; one of two old 32-pound carronades, which, in anticipation of some obstruction of the sort, had been got on deck from amongst the Gleam’s ballast, and properly slung, was now made fast to the middle timber of the boom, and let go, when the weight of it sunk it to the bottom, and we passed on. We pulled on for about half a mile further, when I noticed, high up on a sunny cliff, that shot boldly out into the clear blue heavens, a small red flag suddenly run up to the top of a tall, scathed, branchless palm tree, where it flared for a moment in the breeze like the flame of a torch, and then as suddenly disappeared. “Come, they are on the look-out for us I see.”

The hills continued to close on us as we advanced, and that so precipitously, that we might have been crushed to pieces had half-a dozen active fellows, without any risk to themselves, for the trees would have screened them, simply loosened some of the fragments of rock that impended over us, so threateningly, it seemed, as if a little finger could have sent them bounding and thundering down the mountain side; but this either was not the game of the people we were in search of, or Obed’s spirit and energy had been crushed out of him by the heart depressing belief that his hours were numbered, for no active obstruction was offered.

We now suddenly rounded an abrupt corner of the creek, and there we were full in front of the schooners, who, with the felucca in advance, were lying in line of battle, with springs on their cables. The horrible black pennant was, in the present instance, nowhere to be seen; indeed, why such an impolitic step as ever to have shown it at all was taken in the first attack, I never could understand; for the force was too small to have created any serious fear of being captured, (unless indeed it had been taken for an advanced guard, supported by a stronger,) while it must have appeared probable to Obediah, that the loss of the two boats would in all likelihood lead to a more powerful attempt, when, if it were successful, the damning fact of having fought under such an infernal emblem must have ensured a pirate’s death on the gibbet to every soul who was taken, unless he had intended to have murdered all the witnesses of it. But since proof in my person and the pilot’s existed, now, if ever, was the time for mortal resistance, and to have hoisted it, for they knew that they all fought with halters about their necks. They had all the Spanish flag flying except the Wave, which showed American colours, and the felucca, which had a white flag hoisted, from which last, whenever our gig appeared, a canoe shoved off, and pulled towards us. The officer, if such he might be called, also carried a white flag in his hand. He was a daring-looking fellow, and dashed up along-side of me. The incomprehensible folly of trying at this time of day to cloak the real character of the vessels, puzzled me, and does so to this hour. I have never got a clew to it, unless it was that Obed’s strong mind had given way before his superstitious fears, and others had now assumed the right of both judging and acting for him in this his closing scene. The pirate officer at once recognised me, but seemed neither surprised nor disconcerted at the strength of the force which accompanied me. He asked me in Spanish if I commanded it; I told him I did not, that the captain of the schooner was the senior officer.

“Then will you be good enough, to go on board with me, to interpret for me?”


In half a minute we were both on the Gleam’s deck, the crews of the boats that had her in tow lying on their oars.

“You are the commander of this force?” said the Spaniard.

“I am,” said old Gasket, who had figged himself out in full puff, after the manner of the ancients, as if he had been going to church, instead of to fight; “and who the hell are you?”

“I command one of these Spanish schooners, sir, which your boats so unwarrantably attacked a week ago, although you are at peace with Spain. But even had they been enemies, they were in a friendly port, which should have protected them.”

“All very good oysters,” quoth old Dick; “and pray was it an honest trick of you to cabbage my young friend, Lieutenant Cringle there, as if you had been slavers kidnapping the Bungoes in the Bight of Biafra, and then to fire on and murder my people when sent in to claim him?”

“As to carrying off that young gentleman, it was no affair of ours; he was brought away by the master of that American schooner; but so far as regards firing on your boats, I believe they fired first. But the crews are not murdered; on the contrary, they have been well used, and are now on board that felucca. I am come to surrender the whole fifteen to you.”

“The whole fifteen! and what have you made of the other twelve?”

“Gastados,” said the fellow, with all the sangfroid in the world, “gastados, (spent or expended) by their own folly.”

“Oh, they are expended, are they? then give us the fifteen.”

“Certainly, but you will in this case withdraw your force, of course.”

“We shall see about that—go and send us the men.” He jumped down into the canoe, and shoved off;—whenever he reached the felucca, he struck the white flag, and hoisted the Spanish in its stead, and by hauling on a spring, he brought her to cover the largest schooner so effectually, that we could not fire a shot at her without going through the felucca. We could see all the men leave this latter vessel in two canoes, and go on board one of the other craft. There was now no time to be lost, so I dashed at the felucca in the gig, and broke open the hatches, where we found the captured seamen and their gallant leader, Lieutenant——, in a sorry plight, expecting nothing but to be blown up, or instant death by shot or the knife. We released them, and, sending to the Gleam for ammunition and small arms, led the way in the felucca, by Mr Gasket’s orders, to the attack, the corvette’s launch supporting us; while the schooner with the other craft were scraping up as fast as they could. We made straight for the largest schooner, which with her consorts now opened a heavy fire of grape and musketry, which we returned with interest. I can tell little of what took place till I found myself on the pirate’s quarterdeck, after a desperate tussle, and having driven the crew overboard, with dead and wounded men thickly strewn about, and our fellows busy firing at their surviving antagonists, as they were trying to gain the shore by swimming.

Although the schooner we carried was the Commodore, and commanded by Obediah in person, yet the pirates, that is, the Spanish part of them, by no means showed the fight I expected. While we were approaching, no fire could be hotter, and their yells and cheers were tremendous; but the instant we laid her along-side with the felucca, and swept her decks with a discharge of grape from the carronade, under cover of which we boarded on the quarter, while the launch’s people scrambled up at the bows, their hearts failed, a regular panic overtook them, and they jumped overboard, without waiting for a taste either of cutlass or boarding-pike. The captain himself, however, with about ten Americans, stood at bay round the long gun, which, notwithstanding their great inferiority in point of numbers to our party, they manfully fired three several times at us, after we had carried her aft; but we were so close that the grape came past us like a round shot, and only killed one hand at each discharge, whereas at thirty yards farther off, by having had room to spread, it might have made a pretty tableau of the whole party. I hailed Obed twice to surrender, while our people, staggered by the extreme hardihood of the small group, hung back for an instant; but he either did not hear me, or would not, for the only reply he seemed inclined to make was by slewing round the gun so as to bring me on with it, and the next moment a general rush was made, when the whole party was cut down, with three exceptions, one of whom was Obed himself, who getting on the gun, made a desperate bound over the men’s heads, and jumped overboard. He struck out gallantly, the shot pattering round him like the first of a thunder shower, but he dived apparently unhurt, and I lost sight of him.

The other vessels having also been carried, the firing was all on our side by this time, and I, along with the other officers, was exerting myself to stop the butchery.

“Cease firing, men; for shame, you see they no longer resist.” And my voice was obeyed by all except the fifteen we had released, who were absolutely mad with fury-perfect fiends; such uncontrollable fierceness I had never witnessed, indeed, I had nearly cut one of them down before I could make them knock off firing.

“Don’t fire, sir,” cried I to one.

“Ay, ay, sir; but that scoundrel made me wash his shirts,” and he let drive at a poor devil, who was squattering and swimming away towards the shore, and shot him through the head.

“By heavens! I will run you through, if you fire at that man!” shouted I to another, a marine, who was taking aim at no less a personage than friend Obed, who had risen to breathe, and was swimming after the others, but the very last man of all.

“No, by G—? he made me wash his trowsers, sir.”

He fired—the pirate stretched out his arms, turned slowly on his back, with his face towards me. I thought he gave me a sort of “Et tu, Brute” look, but I dare say it was fancy—his feet began to sink, and he gradually disappeared, a few bubbles of froth and blood marking the spot where he went down. He had been shot dead. I will not attempt to describe my feelings at this moment, they burned themselves in on my heart at the time, and the impression is indelible. Whether I had or had not acted, in one sense, unjustly, by ousting myself so conspicuously forward in the attempt to capture him, after what had passed between us, forced itself upon my judgment. I had certainly promised that I would, in no way that I could help, be instrumental in his destruction or seizure, provided he landed me at St Jago, or put me on board a friendly vessel. He did neither, so his part of the compact might be considered broken; but then it was out of his power to have fulfilled it; besides, he not only threatened my life subsequently, but actually wounded me; still, however, on great provocation. But what “is writ, is writ.” He has gone to his account, pirate as he was, murderer if you will; yet I had, and still have, a tear for his memory,—and many a time have I prayed on my bare knees that his blue agonized dying look might be erased from my brain; but this can never be. What he had been I never learned; but it is my deliberate opinion, that, with a clear stage and opportunity, he would have forced himself out from the surface of society for good or for evil. The unfortunates who survived him, but to expiate their crimes on the gibbet at Port Royal, said he had joined them from a New York privateer, but they knew nothing farther of him beyond the fact, that by his skill and desperate courage, within a month he had by common acclaim been elected captain of the whole band. There was a story current on board the corvette, of a small trading craft, with a person answering his description, having been captured in the Chesapeake, by one of the squadron, and sent to Halifax for adjudication, (the master, as in most cases of the kind, being left on board,) which from that hour had never been heard of, neither vessel, nor prize crew, nor captain, until two Americans were taken out of a slaver, off the Cape de Verds by the Firebrand, about a year afterwards, after a most brave and determined attempt to escape, both of whom were however allowed to enter, but subsequently deserted off Sandy Hook by swimming ashore, in consequence of a pressed hand hinting that one of them, surmised to be Obed, had been the master of the vessel above mentioned.

All resistance having ceased, the few of the pirates who escaped having scampered into the woods, where it would have been vain to follow them, we secured our prisoners, and at the close of a bloody day, for fatal had it been to friend and foe, the prizes were got under weigh, and before nightfall we were all at sea, sailing in a fleet, under convoy of the corvette and Gleam.

CHAPTER X.—Vomito Prieto.

     “This disease is beyond my practice.”
     Macbeth, Vi.59.

The second and acting third-lieutenants were on board the prizes—the purser was busy in his vocation—the doctor ditto Indeed, he and his mates had more on their hands than they could well manage. The first lieutenant was engaged on deck, and the master was in his cot, suffering from a severe contusion; so when got on board the corvette, and dived into the gunroom in search ol some crumbs of comfort, the deuce a living soul was there to welcome me, except the gunroom steward, who speedily produced some cold meat, and asked me if I would take a glass of swizzle.

The food I had no great fancy to, although I had not tasted a morsel since six o’clock in the morning, and it was now eight in the evening; but the offer of the grog sounded gratefully in mine ear, and I was about tackling to a stout rummer of the same, when a smart dandified shaver, with gay mother-of-pearl buttons on his jacket, as thick set as peas, presented his tallow chops at the door.

“Captain Transom desires me to say, that he will be glad of your company in the cabin, Mr Cringle.”

“My compliments—I will wait on him so soon as I have had a snack. We have had no dinner in the gunroom to-day yet, you know, Mafame.”

“Why, it was in the knowledge of that the Captain sent me, sir. He has not had any dinner either; but it is now on the table, and he waits for you.”

I was but little in spirits, and, to say sooth, was fitter for my bed than society; but the Captain’s advances had been made with so much kindliness, that I got up, and made a strong endeavour to rouse myself; and, having made my toilet as well as my slender means admitted, I followed the Captain’s steward into the cabin.

I started—why, I could not well tell—as the sentry at the door stood to his arms when I passed in; and, as if I had been actually possessed by some wandering spirit, who had taken the small liberty of using my faculties and tongue without my concurrence, I hastily asked the man if he was an American?—He stared in great astonishment for a short space, turned his quid—and then rapped out, as angrily as respect for a commissioned officer would let him,—“No, by ——, sir!”

This startled me as much as the question I had almost unconsciously—and, I may say, involuntarily—put to the marine had surprised him, and I made a full stop, and leant back against the door-post. The Captain, who was walking up and down the cabin, had heard me speak, but without comprehending the nature of my question, and now recalled me in some measure to myself, by enquiring if I wanted any thing. I replied, hurriedly, that I did not.

“Well, Mr Cringle, dinner is ready—so take that chair at the foot of the table, will you?”

I sat down, mechanically, as it appeared to me—for a strange swimming dizzy sort of sensation had suddenly overtaken me, accompanied by a whoreson tingling, as Shakespeare hath it, in my ears. I was unable to eat a morsel; but I could have drunk the ocean, had it been claret or vin-de-grave-to both of which I helped myself as largely as good manners would allow, or a little beyond, mayhap. All this while the Captain was stowing his cargo with great zeal, and tifting away at the fluids as became an honest sailor after so long a fast, interlarding his operations with a civil word to me now and then, without any especial regard as to the answer I made him, or, indeed, caring greatly whether I answered him or not.

“Sharp work you must have had, Mr Cringle—should have liked to have been with you myself. Help yourself, before passing that bottle—zounds, man, never take a bottle by the bilge—grasp the neck, man, at least in this fervent climate—thank you. Pity you had not caught the captain though. What you told me of that man very much interested me, coupled with the prevailing reports regarding him in the ship—daring dog he must have been—can’t forget how gallantly he weathered us when we chased him.”

I broke silence for the first time. Indeed, I could scarcely have done so sooner, even had I chosen it, for the gallant officer was rather continuous in his yam-spinning. However, he had nearly dined, and was leaning back, allowing the champaigne to trickle leisurely from a glass half a yard long, which he had applied to his lips, when I said, “Well, the imagination does sometimes play one strange tricks—I verily believe in second sight now, Captain, for at this very instant I am regularly the fool of my senses,——but pray don’t laugh at me;” and I lay back on my chair, and pressed my hands over my shut eyes and hot burning temples, which were now throbbing as if the arteries would have burst.

The Captain, who was evidently much surprised at my abruptness, said something hurriedly and rather sharply in answer, but I could not for the life of me mark what it was. I opened my eyes again, and looked towards the object that had before riveted my attention. It was neither more nor less than the Captain’s cloak, a plain, unpretending, substantial blue garment, lined with white, which, on coming below, he had cast carelessly down on the locker, that ran across the after part of the cabin behind him. It was about eighteen feet from me, and as there was no light nearer it than the swinging lamp over the table at which we were seated, the whole of the cabin thereabouts was thrown considerably into shade. The cape of the cloak was turned over, showing the white lining, and was rather bundled as it were into a round heap, about the size of a man’s head. When first I looked at it, there was a dreamy, glimmering indistinctness about it that I could not well understand, and I would have said, had it been possible, that the wrinkles and folds in it were beginning to be instinct with motion, to creep and crawl as it were. At all events, the false impression was so strong as to jar my nerves, and make me shudder with horror. I knew there was no such d—ting, as well as Macbeth—, but nevertheless it was with an indescribable feeling of curiosity, dashed with awe, that I stared intently at it, as if fascinated, while almost unwittingly I made the remark already mentioned.

I had expected that the unaccountable appearance which had excited my attention so strongly would have vanished with the closing of my eyes; but it did not, for when I looked at it again, the working and shifting of the folds of the cloth still continued, and even more distinctly than before.

“Very extraordinary all this,” I murmured to myself.

“Pray, Mr Cringle, be sociable, man,” said the Captain; “what the deuce do you see, that you stare over my shoulder in that way? Were a woman now, I should tremble to look behind me, while you were glaring aft in that wild, moonstruck sort of fashion.”

“By all that is astonishing,” I exclaimed in great agitation, “if the folds of the cape have not arranged themselves into the very likeness of his dying face! Why it is his face, and no fanciful grouping of my heated brain. Look there, sir—look there—I know it can’t be but there he lies,—the very features and upper part of the body, lith and limb, as when he disappeared beneath the water when he was shot dead.”

I felt the boiling blood, that had been rushing through my system like streams of molten lead, suddenly freeze and coagulate about my heart, impeding my respiration to a degree that I thought I should have been suffocated. I had the feeling as if my soul was going to take wing. It was not fear, nor could I say I was in pain, but it was so utterly unlike any thing I had ever experienced before, and so indescribable, that I thought to myself—“this may be death.”

“Why, what a changeable rose you are, Master Cringle,” said Captain Transom, good-naturedly; “your face was like the north-west moon in a fog but a minute ago, and now it is as pale as a lily@blue white, I declare. Why, my man, you must be ill, and seriously too.”

His voice dissipated the hideous chimera—the folds fell, and relapsed into their own shape, and the cloak was once more a cloak, and nothing more—I drew a long breath. “Ah, it is gone at last, thank God!”—and then aware of the strange effect my unaccountable incoherence must have had on the skipper, I thought to brazen it out by trying the free and easy line, which was neither more nor less than arrant impertinence in our relative positions. “Why, I have been heated a little, and amusing myself with sundry vain imaginings, but allow me to take wine with you, Captain,” filling a tumbler with vin-de-grave to the brim, as I spoke. “Success to you, sir—here’s to your speedy promotion—may you soon get a crack frigate; as for me I intend to be Archbishop of Canterbury, or maid of honour to the Queen of Sheba, or something in the heathen mythology.”

I drank off the wine, although I had the greatest difficulty in steadying my trembling hand, and carrying it to my lips; but notwithstanding my increasing giddiness, and the buzzing in my ears, and swimming of mine eyes, I noticed the Captain’s face of amazement as he exclaimed, “The boy is either mad or drunk, by Jupiter!”

I could not stand his searching and angry look, and in turning my eye, it again fell on the cloak, which now seemed to be stretched out at greater length, and to be altogether more voluminous than it was before. I was forcibly struck with this, for I was certain no one had touched it.

“By heavens! it heaves,” I exclaimed, much moved—“how is this? I never thought to have believed such things,——it stirs again—it takes the figure of a man—as if it were a pall covering his body. Pray, Captain Transom, what trick is this?—Is there any thing below that cloak there?”

“What cloak do you mean?”

“Why, that blue one lying on the locker there—is there any cat or dog in the cabin? “—and I started on my legs.—“Captain Transom,” I continued, with great vehemence, “for the love of God tell me what is there below that cloak.”

He looked surprised beyond all measure.

“Why, Mr Cringle, I cannot for the soul of me comprehend you; indeed I cannot; but, Mafame, indulge him. See if there be any thing below my cloak.”

The servant walked to the locker, and lifted up the cape of it, and was in the act of taking it from the locker, when I impetuously, desired the man to leave it alone.

“I can’t look on him again,” said I; while the faintishness increased, so that I could hardly speak. “Don’t move the covering from his face, for God’s sake—don’t remove it,” and I lay back in my chair, screening my eyes from the lamp with my hands, and shuddering with an icy chill from head to foot.

The Captain, who had hitherto maintained the well-bred, patronizing, although somewhat distant, air of a superior officer to an inferior who was his guest, addressed me now in an altered tone, and with a brotherly kindness.

“Mr Cringle, I have some knowledge of you, and I know many of your friends; so I must take the liberty of an old acquaintance with you. This day’s work has been a severe one, and your share in it, especially after your past fatigues, has been very trying, and as I will report it, I hope it may clap a good spoke in your wheel; but you are overheated, and have been over-excited; fatigue has broken you down, and I must really request you will take something warm, and turn in.—Here, Mafame, get the carpenter’s mate to secure that cleat on the weather-side there, and sling my spare cot for Mr Cringle. You will be cooler here than in the gunroom.”

I heard his words without comprehending their meaning. I sat and stared at him, quite conscious, all the time, of the extreme impropriety, not to say indecency, of my conduct; but there was a spell on me; I tried to speak, but could not; and, believing that I was either possessed by some dumb evil, or struck with palsy, I rose up, bowed to Captain Transom, and straightway hied me on deck.

I could hear him say to his servant, as I was going up the ladder, “Look after that young gentleman, Mafame, and send Isaac to the doctor, and bid him come here now;” and then, in a commiserating tone—“Poor young fellow, what a pity!”

When I got on deck all was quiet. The cool fresh air had an instantaneous effect on my shattered nerves, the violent throbbing in my head ceased, and I began to hug myself with the notion that my distemper, whatever it might have been, had beaten a retreat.

Suddenly I felt so collected and comfortable, as to be quite alive to the loveliness of the scene. It was a beautiful moonlight night; such a night as is nowhere to be seen without the Tropics, and not often within them. There was just breeze enough to set the sail to sleep, although not so strong as to prevent their giving a low murmuring flap now and then, when the corvette rolled a little heavier than usual on the long swell. There was not a cloud to be seen in the sky, not even a stray shred of thin fleecy gauzelike vapour, to mark the direction of the upper current of the air, by its course across the moon’s disk, which was now at the full, and about half-way up her track in the liquid heavens.

The small twinkling lights from millions of lesser stars, in that part of the firmament where she hung, round as a silver pot-lid shield I mean, were swamped in the flood of greenish-white radiance shed by her, and it was only a few of the first magnitude, with a planet here and there, that were visible to the naked eye, in the neighbourhood of her crystal bright globe; but the clear depth, and dark translucent purity of the profound, when the eye tried to pierce into it at the zenith, where the stars once more shone and sparkled thick and brightly, beyond the merging influence of the pale cold orb, no man can describe now——one could, once—but rest his soul, he is dead and then to look forth far into the night, across the dark ridge of many a heaving swell of living water—but, “Thomas Cringle, ahoy where the devil are you cruising to” So, to come back to my story. I went aft, and mounted the small poop, and looked towards the aforesaid moon, a glorious resplendent tropical moon, and not the paper lantern affair hanging in an atmosphere of fog and smoke, about which your blear-eyed poets haven’t so much. By the by, these gentry are fond of singing of the blessed sun—were they sailors they would bless the moon also, and be—to them, in place of writing much wearisome poetry regarding her blighting propensities. But I have lost the end of my yarn once more, in the strands of these parentheses. Lord, what a word to pronounce in the plural!—I can no more get out now, than a girl’s silk worm from the innermost of a nest of pill boxes, where, to ride the simile to death at once, I have warped the thread of my story so round and round me, that I can’t for the life of me unravel it. Very odd all this. Since I have recovered of this fever, every thing is slack about me; I can’t set up the shrouds and backstays of my mind, not to speak of bobstays, if I should die for it. The running rigging is all right enough, and the canvass is there; but I either can’t set it, or when I do, I find I have too little ballast, or I get involved amongst shoals, and white water, and breakers—don’t you hear them roar?—which I cannot weather, and crooked channels, under some lee-shore, through which I cannot scrape clear. So down must go the anchor, as at present, and there—there goes the chain cable, rushing and rumbling through the hausehole. But I suppose it will be all right by and by, as I get stronger.

“But rouse thee, Thomas! Where is this end of your yarn, that you are blameying about?”

“Avast heaving, you swab you—avast—if you had as much calomel in your corpus as I have at this present speaking—why you would be a lad of more mettle than I take you for, that is all.—You would have about as much quicksilver in your stomach, as I have in my purse, and all my silver has been quick, ever since I remember, like the jests of the gravedigger in Hamlett—but, as you say, where the devil is the end of this yarn?”

Ah, here it is! so off we go again—and looked forward towards the rising moon, whose shining wake of glow-worm-coloured light, sparkling in the small waves, that danced in the gentle wind on the heaving bosom of the dark blue sea, was right a-head of us, like a river of quicksilver with its course diminished in the distance to a point, flowing towards us, from the extreme verge of the horizon, through a rolling sea of ink, with the waters of which for a time it disdained to blend. Concentrated, and shining like polished silver afar off—intense and sparkling as it streamed down nearer, but becoming less and less brilliant as it Widened in its approach to us, until, like the stream of the great Estuary of the Magdalena, losing itself in the salt waste of waters, it gradually melted beneath us and around us into the darkness.

I looked aloft—every object appeared sharply cut out against the dark firmament, and the swaying of the mast-heads to and fro, as the vessel rolled, was so steady and slow, that they seemed stationary, while it was the moon and stars which appeared to vibrate and swing from side to side, high over head, like the vacillation of the clouds in a theatre, when the scene is first let down.

The masts, and yards, and standing and running rigging, looked like black pillars, and bars, and wires of iron, reared against the sky, by some mighty spirit of the night; and the sails, as the moon shone dimly through them, were as dark as if they had been tarpawlings. But when I walked forward and looked aft, what a beauteous change! Now each mast, with its gently swelling canvass, the higher sails decreasing in size, until they tapered away nearly to a point, though topsail, topgallant sail, royal and skysails, showed like towers of snow, and the cordage like silver threads, while each dark spar seemed to be of ebony, fished with ivory, as a flood of cold, pale, mild light streamed from the beauteous planet over the whole stupendous machine, lighting up the sand white decks, on which the shadows of the men, and of every object that intercepted the moonbeams, were cast as strongly as if the planks had been inlaid with jet.

There was nothing moving about the decks. The lookouts, aft, and at the gangways, sat or stood like statues half bronze, half alabaster. The old quartermaster, who was cunning the ship, and had perched himself on a carronade, with his arm leaning on the weather nettings, was equally motionless. The watch had all disappeared forward, or were stowed out of sight under the lee of the boats; the first Lieutenant, as if captivated by the serenity of the scene, was leaning with folded arms on the weather gangway, looking abroad upon the ocean, and whistling now and then either for a wind, or for want of thought. The only being who showed sign of life was the man at the wheel, and he scarcely moved, except now and then to give her a spoke or two, when the cheep of the tiller-rope, running through the well-greased leading blocks, would grate on the ear as a sound of some importance; while in daylight, in the ordinary bustle of the ship, no one could say he ever heard it.

Three bells!—“Keep a bright look-out there,” sung out the Lieutenant.

“Ay, ay, sir,” from the four look-out men, in a volley.

Then from the weather-gangway, “All’s well” rose shrill into the night air.

The watchword was echoed by the man on the forecastle, re-echoed by the lee-gangway look-out, and ending with the response of the man on the poop. My dream was dissipated—and so was the first lieutenant’s, who had but little poetry in his composition, honest man.

“Fine night, Mr Cringle. Look aloft, how beautifully set the sails are; that mizzen-topsail is well cut, eh? Sits well, don’t it? But confound the lubbers! Boatswain’s mate, call the watch.”

Whi—whew, whi—whew, chirrup, chip, chip—the deck was alive in an instant, “as bees biz out wi” angry fyke.

“Where is the captain of the mizzen-top?” growled the man in authority.

“Here, sir.”

“Here, sir!—look at the weather-clew of the mizzen-topsail, sir, look at that sail, sir,—how many turns can you count in that clew, sir? Spring it, you no—sailor you—spring it, and set the sail again.”

How weary, stale, flat, and unprofitable all this appeared to me at the time I will remember; but the obnoxious turns were shaken out, and the sail set again so as to please even the fastidious eye of the Lieutenant, who, seeing nothing more to find fault with, addressed me once more.

“Have had no grub since morning, Mr Cringle; all the others are away in the prizes; you are as good as one of us now, only want the order to join, you know—so will you oblige me, and take charge of the deck, until I go below and change my clothes, and gobble a bit?”

“Unquestionably,—with much pleasure.”

He forthwith dived, and I walked aft a few steps towards where the old quartermaster was standing on the gun.

“How is her head, Quartermaster?”

“South-east and by south, sir. If the wind holds, we shall weather Morant Point, I think, sir.”

“Very like, very like.—What is that glancing backwards and forwards across the port-hole there, Quartermaster?”

“I told you so, Mafame,” said the man; “what are you skylarking about the mizen-chains for, man?—Come in, will you, come in.”

The Captain’s caution to his servant flashed on me.

“Come in, my man, and give my respects to the Captain, and tell him that I am quite well now; the fresh air has perfectly restored me.”

“I will, sir,” said Mafame, half ashamed at being detected in his office of inspector-general of my actions; but the Doctor, to whom he had been sent, having now got a leisure moment from his labour in the shambles, came up and made enquiries as to how I felt.

“Why, Doctor, I thought I was in for a fever half an hour ago, but it is quite gone off, or nearly so—there, feel my pulse.”—It was regular, and there was no particular heat of skin.

“Why, I don’t think there is much the matter with you. Mafame, tell the Captain so; but turn in and take some rest as soon as you can, and I will see you in the morning—and here,” feeling in his waistcoat pocket, “here are a couple of capers for you; take them now, will you?” (And he handed me two blue pills, which I the next moment chucked overboard, to cure some bilious dolphin of the liver complaint.) I promised to do so whenever the Lieutenant relieved the deck, which would, I made no question, be within half an hour.

“Very well, that will do—good-night. I am regularly done up myself,” quoth the Medico, as he descended to the gunroom.

At this time of night, the prizes were all in a cluster under our lee quarter, like small icebergs covered with snow, and carrying every rag they could set. The Gleam was a good way a-stern, as if to whip them in, and to take care that no stray piccaroon should make a dash at any of them. They slid noiselessly along like phantoms of the deep, every thing in the air and in the water was so still—I crossed to the lee side of the deck to look at them—The Wave, seeing some one on the hammock nettings, sheered close to, under the Firebrand’s lee quarter, and some one asked, “Do you want to speak us?” The man’s voice, reflected from the concave surface of the schooner’s mainsail, had a hollow, echoing sound, that startled me.

“I should know that voice,” said I to myself, “and the figure steering the schooner.”

The throbbing in my head and the dizzy feel, which had capsized my judgment in the cabin, again returned with increased violence—“It was no deception after all,” thought I, “no cheat of the senses—I now believe such things are.”

The same voice now called out, “Come away, Tom, come away,” no doubt to some other seaman on board the little vessel, but my heated fancy did not so construe it. The col real again overtook me, and I ejaculated, “God have mercy upon me a sinner!”

“Why don’t you come, Tom?” said the voice once more.

It was Obed’s. At this very instant of time, the Wave forged a-head into the Firebrand’s shadow, so that her sails, but a moment before white as wool in the bright moonbeams suffered a sudden eclipse, and became black as ink.

“His dark spirit is there,” said I, audibly, “and calls me—go I will, whatever may befall.”

I hailed the schooner, or rather I had only to speak, and that in a low tone, for she was now close under the counter “Send your boat, for since you call, I know I must come.”

A small canoe slid off her deck; two ship boys got into it, and pulled under the starboard mizzen-chains, which entirely concealed them, as they held on for a moment with a boat-hook in the dark shadow of the ship. This was done so silently, that neither the lookout on the poop, who was rather on the weather-side at the moment, nor the man at the lee gangway, who happened to be looking out forward, heard them, or saw me, as I slipped down unperceived.

“Pull back again, my lads; quick now, quick.”

In a moment, I was along-side, the next I was on deck, and in this short space a change had come over the spirit of my dream, for I now was again conscious that I was on board the Wave with a prize crew. My imagination had taken another direction.

“Now Mr——, I beg pardon, I forget your name,”—I had never heard it, “make more sail, and haul out from the fleet for Mancheoneal Bay; I have despatches for the admiral—So, crack on.”

The midshipman who was in charge of her never for an instant doubted but that all was right; sail was made, and as the light breeze was the very thing for the little Wave, she began to snorer through it like smoke. When she had shot a cable’s length a-head of the Firebrand, we kept away a point or two, so as to stand more in for the land, and, like most maniacs, I was inwardly exulting at the success of my manoeuvre, when we heard the corvette’s bell struck rapidly. Her maintop-sail was suddenly laid to the mast, whilst a loud voice echoed amongst the sails—“Any one see hi—in in the waist—anybody see him forward there?”

“No, sir, no.”

“After guard, fire, and let go the life—buoy—lower away the quarter boats—jolly-boat also.”

We saw the flash, and presently the small blue light of the buoy, blazing and disappearing, as it rose and fell on the waves, in the corvette’s wake, sailed away astern, sparkling fitfully, like an ignis fatuus. The cordage rattled through the davit blocks, as the boats dashed into the water—the splash of the oars was heard, and presently the twinkle of the life-buoy was lost in the lurid glare of the blue lights, held aloft in each boat, where the crews were standing up, looking like spectres by the ghastly blaze, and anxiously peering about for some sign of the drowning man.

“A man overboard,” was repeated from one to another of the prize crew.

“Sure enough,” said I.

“Shall we stand back, sir?” said the midshipman.

“To what purpose?—there are enough there without us—no, no; crack on, we can do no good—carry on, carry on!”

We did so, and I now found severe shooting pains, more racking than the sharpest rheumatism I had ever suffered, pervading my whole body. They increased until I suffered the most excruciating agony, as if my bones had been converted into red-hot tubes of iron, and the marrow in them had been dried up with fervent heat, and I was obliged to beg that a hammock might be spread on deck, on which I lay down, pleading great fatigue and want of sleep as my excuse.

My thirst was unquenchable; the more I drank, the hotter it became. My tongue, and mouth, and throat, were burning, as if molten lead had been poured down into my stomach, while the most violent retching came on every ten minutes. The prize crew, poor fellows, did all they could once or twice they seemed about standing back to the ship, but, “make sail, make sail,” was my only cry. They did so, and there I lay without any thing between me and the wet planks but a thin sailor’s blanket and the canvass of the hammock, through the livelong night, and with no covering but a damp boatcloak, raving at times during the hot fits, at others having my power of utterance frozen up during the cold ones. The men, once or twice, offered to carry me below, but the idea was horrible to me.

“No, no—not there—for heaven’s sake not there! If you do take me down, I am sure I shall see him, and the dead mate—No, no overboard rather, throw me overboard rather.”

Oh, what would I not have given for the luxury of a flood of tears!—But the fountains of mine eyes were dried up, and seared as with a red-hot iron—my skin was parched, and hot, hot, as if every pore had been hermetically sealed; there was a hell within me and about me as if the deck on which I lay had been steel at a white heat, and the gushing blood, as under the action of a force-pump, throbbed through my head, like it would have burst on my brain—and such a racking, splitting headache—no language can describe it, and yet ever and anon in the midst of this raging fire, this furnace at my heart, seven times heated, a sudden icy shivering chill would shake me, and pierce through and through me, even when the roasting fever was at the hottest.

At length the day broke on the long, long, moist, steamy night, and once more the sun rose to bless every thing but me. As the morning wore on, my torments increased with the heat, and I lay sweltering on deck, in a furious delirium, held down forcibly by two men, who were relieved by others every now and then, while I raved about Obed, and Paul, and the scenes I had witnessed on board during the chase, and in the attack. None of my rough but kind nurses expected I could have held on till nightfall; but shortly after sunset I became more collected, and, as I was afterwards told, whenever any little office was performed for me, whenever some drink was held to my lips, I would say to the gruff sunburnt, black-whiskered, square shouldered topman who might be my Ganymede for the occasion, “Thank you, Mary; Heaven bless your pale face, Mary; bless you, bless you!”

It seemed my fancy had shaken itself clear of the fearful objects that had so pertinaciously haunted me before, and occupying itself with pleasing recollections, had produced a corresponding cahn in the animal; but the poor fellow to whom I had expressed myself so endearingly, was, I learned, most awfully put out and dismayed. He twisted and turned his iron features into all manner of ludicrous combinations, under the laughter of his mates—“Now, Peter, may I be—but I would rather be shot at, than hear the poor young gentleman so quiz me in his madness.”

Then again—as I praised his lovely taper fingers—they were more like bunches of frosted carrots, dipped in a tar-bucket, with the tails snapt short off, where about an inch thick.

“My taper fingers—oh lord! Now, Peter, I can’t stomach this any longer, I’ll give you my grog for the next two days, if you will take my spell here—My taper fingers—murder!”

As the evening closed in we saw the high land of Jamaica, but it was the following afternoon before we were off the entrance of Mancheoneal Bay. All this period, although it must have been one of great physical suffering, has ever, to my ethereal part, remained a dead blank. The first thing I remember afterwards, was being carried ashore in the dark in a hammock slung on two oars, so as to form a sort of rude palanquin, and laid down at a short distance from the overseer’s house where my troubles had originally commenced. I soon became perfectly sensible and collected, but I was so weak I could not speak; after resting a little, the men again lifted me and proceeded. The door of the dining-hall, which was the back entrance into the overseer’s house, opened flush into the little garden through which we had come in—there were lights, and sounds of music, singing, and jovialty within. The farther end of the room, at the door of which I now rested, opened into the piazza, or open veranda, which crossed it at right angles, and constituted the front of the house, forming, with this apartment, a figure somewhat like the letter T. I stood at the foot of the letter, as it were, and as I looked towards the piazza, which was gaily lit up, I could see it was crowded with male and female negroes in their holyday apparel, with their wholesome clear brown-black skins, not blue-black as they appear in our cold country, and beautiful white teeth, and sparkling black eyes, amongst whom were several gumbie-men and flute-players, and John Canoes, as the negro Jack Pudding is called; the latter distinguishable by wearing white false faces, and enormous shocks of horsehair, fastened on to their woolly pates. Their character hovers somewhere between that of a harlequin and a clown, as they dance about, and thread through the negro groups, quizzing the women and slapping the men; and at Christmas time, the grand negro carnival, they don’t confine their practical jokes to their own colour, but take all manner of comical liberties with the whites equally with their fellow bondsmen.

The blackamoor visitors had suddenly, to all appearance, broken off their dancing, and were now clustered behind a rather remarkable group, who were seated at supper in the dining-room, near to where I stood, forming, as it were, the foreground in the scene. Mr Fyall himself was there, and a rosy-gilled, happy-looking man, who I thought I had seen before; this much I could discern, for the light fell strong on them, especially on the face of the latter, which shone like a star of the first magnitude, or a lighthouse in the red gleam—the usual family of the overseer, the book-keepers that is, and the worthy who had been the proximate cause of all my sufferings, the overseer himself, were there too, as if they had been sitting still at table where I saw them now, ever since I left them three weeks before—at least my fancy did me the favour to annihilate, for the nonce, all intermediate time between the point of my departure on the night of the cooper’s funeral, and the moment when I now revisited them.

I was lifted out of the hammock, and supported to the door between two seamen. The fresh, nice-looking man before mentioned, Aaron Bang, Esquire, by name, an incipient planting attorney in the neighbourhood, of great promise, was in the act of singing a song, for it was during some holyday-time, which had broken down the stiff observances of a Jamaica planter’s life. There he sat, lolling back on his chair, with his feet upon the table, and a cigar, half consumed, in his hand. He had twisted up his mouth and mirth-provoking nose, which, by an unaccountable control over some muscle, present in the visage of no other human being, he made to describe a small circle round the centre of his face, and slewing his head on one side, he was warbling, ore Yotundo, some melodious ditty, with infinite complacency, and, to all appearance, to the great delight of his auditory, when his eyes lighted on me,—he was petrified in a moment, I seemed to have blasted him,——his warbling ceased instantaneously, the colour faded from his cheeks, but there he sat, with open mouth, and in the same attitude as if he still sung, and I had suddenly become deaf, or as if he and his immediate compotators, and the group of blackies beyond, had all been on the instant turned to stone by a slap from one of their own John Canoes. I must have been in truth a terrible spectacle; my skin was yellow, not as saffron, but as the skin of a ripe lime; the white of my eyes, to use an Irishism, ditto; my mouth and lips had festered and broke out, as we say in Scotland; my head was bound round with a napkin—none of the cleanest, you may swear; my dress was a pair of dirty duck trowsers, and my shirt, with the boat-cloak that had been my only counterpane on board of the little vessel, hanging from my shoulders.

Lazarus himself could scarcely have been a more appalling object, when the voice of him who spoke as never man spake, said, “Lazarus come forth.”

I made an unavailing attempt to cross the threshold, but could not. I was spellbound, or there was an invisible barrier erected against me, which I could not overleap. The buzzing in my ears, the pain and throbbing in my head, and racking aches, once more bent me to the earth, ill and reduced as I was, a relapse, thought I; and I felt my judgment once more giving way before the sweltering fiend, who had retreated but for a moment to renew his attacks with still greater fierceness. The moment he once more entered into me—the instant that I was possessed—I cannot call it by any other name—an unnatural strength pervaded my shrunken muscles and emaciated frame, and I stepped boldly into the hall. While I had stood at the door, listless and feeble as a child, hanging on the arms of the two topmen, after they had raised me from the hammock, the whole party had sat silently gazing at me, with their faculties paralysed with terror. But now, when I stumped into the room like the marble statue in Don Juan, and glared on them, my eyes sparkling with unearthly brilliancy under the fierce distemper which had anew thrust its red hot fingers into my maw, and was at the moment seething my brain in its hellish caldron, the negroes in the piazza, one and all, men, women, and children, evanished into the night, and the whole party in the foreground started to their legs, as if they had been suddenly galvanized; the table and chairs were overset, and whites and blacks trundled, and scrambled, and bundled over and over each other, neck and crop, as if the very devil had come to invite them to dinner in propria personal horns, tail, and all.

“Duppy come! Duppy come! Massa Tom Cringle ghost stand at for we door; we all shall dead, oh—we all shall go dead, oh!” bellowed the father of gods, my old ally Jupiter.

“Guid guide us, that’s an awful sicht!” quod the Scotch bookkeeper.

“By the hockeytt speak if you be a ghost, or I’ll exercise [exorcise] ye wid this butt of a musket,” quoth the cowboy@an Irishman to be sure, whose round bullet head was discernible in the human mass, by his black, twinkling, half-drunken-looking eyes.

“Well-a-day,” groaned another of them, a Welshman, I believe, with a face as long as my arm, and a drawl worthy of a Methodist parson; “and what can it be-flesh and blood, it is not—can these dry bones live?”

Ill as I was, however, I could perceive that all this row had now more of a tipsy frolic in it—whatever it might have had at first—than absolute fear; for the red-faced visitor, and Mr Fyall, as if half ashamed, speedily extricated themselves from the chaos of chairs and living creatures, righted the table, replaced the candles, and having sat down, looking as grave as judges on the bench, Aaron Bang exclaimed—“I’ll bet a dozen, it is the poor fellow himself returned on our hands, half-dead from the rascally treatment he has met with at the hands of these smuggling thieves!”

“Smugglers, or no,” said Fyall, “you are right for once, my peony rose, I do believe.”

But Aaron was a leetle staggered, notwithstanding, when I stumped towards him, as already described, and he shifted back and back as I advanced, with a most laughable cast of countenance, between jest and earnest, while Fyall kept shouting to him—“If it be his ghost, try him in Latin, Mr Bang—speak Latin to him, Aaron Bang—nothing for a ghost like Latin, it is their mother tongue.”

Bang, who, it seemed, plumed himself on his erudition, forthwith began “Quae maribus solum tribuunter.” Aaron’s conceit of exorcising a spirit with the fag-end of an old grammar rule would have tickled me under most circumstances; but I was far past laughing. I had more need, God help me, to pray. I made another step. He hitched his chair back. “Bam, Bo, Rem!” shouted the incipient planting attorney. Another hitch, which carried him clean out of the supper-room, and across the narrow piazza; but, in this last movement, he made a regular false step, the two back feet of his chair dropping over the first step of the front stairs, whereupon he lost his balance, and toppling over, vanished in a twinkling, and rolled down half-a-dozen steps, heels over head, until he lay sprawling on the manger or mule-trough before the door, where the Ceases are fed under busha’s own eye on all estates—for this excellent and most cogent reason, that otherwise the maize or guinea-com, belonging of right to poor mulo, would generally go towards improving the condition, not of the quadruped, but of the biped quashiet who had charge of him—and there he lay in a convulsion of laughter.

The two seamen, who supported me between them, were at first so completely dumfoundered by all this, that they could not speak. At length, however, Timothy Tailtackle lost his patience, and found his tongue.

“This may be Jamaica frolic, good gentlemen, and all very comical in its way; but, d——n me, if it be either gentlemanlike or Christian like, to be after funning and fuddling, while a fellow creature, and his Majesty’s commissioned officer to boot, stands before you, all but dead of one of your blasted fevers.”

The honest fellow’s straightforward appeal, far from giving offence to the kindhearted people to whom it was made, was not only taken in good part, but Mr Fyall himself took the lead in setting the whole household immediately to work, to have me properly cared for. The best room in the house was given up to me. I was carefully shifted and put to bed; but during all that night and the following day, I was raving in a furious fever, so that I had to be forcibly held down in my bed, sometimes for half an hour at a time.

I say, messmate, have you ever had the yellow fever, the vomito prieto, black vomit, as the Spaniards call it?—No?—have you ever had a bad bilious fever then? No bad bilious fever either?—Why, then, you are a most unfortunate creature; for you have never known what it was to be in Heaven, nor eke the other place. Oh the delight, the blessedness of the languor of recovery, when one finds himself in a large airy room, with a dreamy indistinct recollection of great past suffering, endured in a small miserable vessel within the tropics, where you have been roasted one moment by the vertical rays of the sun, and the next annealed hissing hot by the salt sea spray;—in a broad luxurious bed, some cool sunny morning, with the fresh sea breeze whistling through the open windows that look into the piazza, and rustling the folds of the clean wire gauze musquitto net that serves you for bed-curtains; while beyond you look forth into the sequestered court-yard, overshadowed by one vast umbrageous kennip tree, that makes every thing look green and cool and fresh beneath, and whose branches the rushing wind is rasping cheerily on the shingles of the roof-and oh, how passing sweet is the lullaby from the humming of numberless glancing bright-hued flies, of all sorts and sizes, sparkling among the green leaves like chips of a prism, and the fitful whirring of the fairy-flitting humming bird, now here, now there, like winged gems, or living atoms of the rainbow, round which their tiny wings, moving too quickly to be visible, form little haloes—and the palm tree at the house-corner is shaking its long hard leaves, making a sound for all the world like the pattering of rain; and the orange-tree top, with ripe fruit, and green fruit, and white blossoms, is waving to and fro flush with the window-sill, dashing the fragrant odour into your room at every whish; and the double Jessamine is twining up the papaw (whose fruit, if rubbed on a bull’s hide, immediately converts it into a tender beef-steak) and absolutely stifling you with sweet perfume; and then the sangaree old Madeira, two parts of water, no more, and nutmeg and not a taste out of a thimble, but a rummerful of it, my boy, that would drown your first-born at his christening, if he slipped into it, and no stinting in the use of this ocean; on the contrary, the tidy old brown nurse, or mayhap a buxom young one, at your bedside, with ever and anon a lettle more panada, (d——n panada, I had forgotten that!) “and den some more sangaree; it will do massa good, strengthen him tomack”—and, but I am out of breath, and must lie to for a brief space.

I opened my eyes late in the morning of the second day after landing, and saw Mr Fyall and the excellent Aaron Bang sitting one on each side of my bed. Although weak as a sucking infant, I had a strong persuasion on my mind that all danger was over, and that I was convalescent. I had no feverish symptom whatsoever, but felt cool and comfortable, with a fine balmy moisture on my skin; as yet, however, I spoke with great difficulty.

Aaron noticed this.

“Don’t exert yourself too much, Tom; take it coolly, man, and thank God that you are now fairly round the corner. Is your head painful?”

“No—why should it?”

Mr Fyall smiled, and I put up my hand—it was all I could do, for my limbs appeared loaded with lead at the extremities, and when I touched any part of my frame, with my hand for instance, there was no concurring sensation conveyed by the nerves of the two parts; sometimes I felt as if touched by the hand of another; at others, as if I had touched the person of some one else. When I raised my hand to my forehead, my fingers instinctively moved to take hold of my hair, for I was in no small degree proud of some luxuriant brown curls, which the women used to praise. Alas and alack-a-day! in place of ringlets, glossy with Macassar oil, I found a cool young tender plantain-leaf bound round my temples.

“What is all this?” said I. “A kale-blade, where my hair used to be!”

“How came this kale-blade here, And how came it here?”

Sung friend Bang, laughing, for he had great powers of laughter, and I saw he kept his quizzical face turned towards some object at the head of the bed, which I could not see.

“You may say that, Aaron—where’s my wig, you rogue, eh?”

“Never mind, Tom,” said Fyall, “your hair will soon grow again, won’t it, miss?”

“Miss! miss!” and I screwed my neck round, and lo!—“Ah, Mary, and are you the Delilah who have shorn my locks—you wicked young female lady you!”

She smiled and nodded to Aaron, who was a deuced favourite with the ladies, black, brown, and white, (I give the pas to the staple of the country—hope no offence,) as well as with every one else who ever knew him.

“How dare you, friend Bang, shave and blister my head, you dog?” said I. “You cannibal Indian, you have scalped me; you are a regular Mohawk.”

“Never mind, Tom—never mind, my boy,” said he. “Ay, you may blush, Mary Palma. Cringle there will fight, but he will have ‘Palmam qui meruit ferat’ for his motto yet, take my word for it.”

The sight of my cousin’s lovely face, and the heavenly music of her tongue, made me so forgiving, that I could be angry with no one.—At this moment a nice-looking elderly man slid into the room as noiselessly as a cat.

“How are you, Lieutenant? Why, you are positively gay this morning! Preserve me!—why have you taken off the dressing from your head?”

“Preserve me—you may say that, Doctor—why, you seem to have preserved me, and pickled me after a very remarkable fashion, certainly! Why, man, do you intend to make a mummy of me, with all your swaddlings? Now, what is that crackling on my chest? More plantain-leaves, as I live!”

“Only another blister, sir.”

“Only another blister—and my feet—Zounds! what have you been doing with my feet? The soles are as tender as if I had been bastinadoed.”

“Only cataplasms, sir; mustard and bird-pepper poultices nothing more.”

“Mustard and bird-pepper poultices!—and pray, what is that long fiddle case supported on two chairs in the piazza!”

“What case?” said the good Doctor, and his eye followed mine. “Oh, my gun-case. I am a great sportsman, you must know—but draw down that blind, Mr Bang, if you please, the breeze is too strong.”

“Gun-case! I would rather have taken it for your game-box, Doctor. However, thanks be to Heaven, you have not bagged me this bout.”

At this moment, I heard a violent scratching and jumping on the roof of the house, and presently a loud croak, and a strong rushing noise, as of a large bird taking flight—“What is that, Doctor?”

“The devil,” said he, laughing, “at least your evil genius, Lieutenant, it is the carrion crows, the large John—Crows, as they are called, flying away. They have been holding a council of war upon you since early dawn, expecting (I may tell you, now you are so well) that it might likely soon turn into a coroner’s inquest.”

“John—Crow!—Coroner’s inquest!—Cool shavers those West India chaps, after all!” muttered I; and again I lay back, and offered up my heart, warm thanks to the Almighty, for his great mercy to me a sinner.

My aunt and cousin had been on a visit in the neighbourhood, and overnight Mr Fyall had kindly sent for them to receive my last sigh, for to all appearance I was fast going. Oh, the gratitude of my heart, the tears of joy I wept in my weak blessedness, and the overflowing of heart that I experienced towards that almighty and ever-merciful Being who had spared me, and brought me out of my great sickness, to look round on dear friends, and on the idol of my heart, once more, after all my grievous sufferings! I took Mary’s hand—I could not raise it for lack of strength, or I would have kissed it; but, as she leant over me, Fyall came behind her and gently pressed her sweet lips to mine, while the dear girl blushed as red as Aaron Bang’s face. By this my aunt herself had come into the room, and a warm congratulations, and last, although not least, Timothy Tailtackle made his appearance in the piazza at the window, with a clean, joyful, well shaven countenance. He grinned, turned his quid, pulled up his trowsers, smoothed down his hair with his hand, and gave a sort of half-tipsy shamble, meant for a bow, as he entered the bedroom.

“You have forereached on Davy this time, sir. Heaven be praised for it! He was close aboard of you, howsomdever, sir, once or twice.” Then he bowed round the room again, with a sort of swing or caper, whichever you choose to call it, as if he had been the party obliged. “Kind folk, these, sir,” he continued, in what was meant for sotto voce, and for my ear alone, but it was more like the growling of a mastiff puppy than any thing else. “Kind folk, sir—bad as their mountebanking looked the first night, sir—why, Lord bless your honour, may they make a marine of me, if they han’t set a Bungo to wait on us, Bill and I, that is—and we has grog more than does us good—and grub, my eye!—only think, sir—Bill and Timothy Tailtackle waited on by a black Bungo!” and he doubled himself up, chuckling and hugging himself, with infinite glee.

“All now went merry as a marriage bell.” I was carefully conveyed to Kingston, where I rallied under my aunt’s hospitable roof, as rapidly almost as I had sickened, and within a fortnight, all bypast strangeness explained to my superiors, I at length occupied my berth in the Firebrand’s gunroom, as third lieutenant of the ship.

CHAPTER XI.—More Scenes in Jamaica.

     There be land-rats and water-rats—water-thieves
     and land-thieves I mean pirates.

     The Merchant Of Venice, I. iii. 22—24.

The malady from whose fangs I had just escaped, was at this time making fearful ravages amongst the troops and white inhabitants of Jamaica generally; nor was the squadron exempted from the afflicting visitation, although it suffered in a smaller degree.

I had occasion at this time to visit Uppark camp, a military post about a mile and a half from Kingston, where two regiments of infantry, and a detachment of artillery, were stationed.

In the forenoon, I walked out in company with an officer, a relation of my own, whom I had gone to visit; enjoying the fresh sea breeze that whistled past us in half a gale of wind, although the sun was vertical, and shining into the bottom of a pint pot, as the sailors have it.

The barracks were built on what appeared to me a very dry situation (although I have since heard it alleged that there was a swamp to windward of it, over which the sea breeze blew, but this I did not see,) considerably elevated above the hot sandy plain on which Kingston stands, and sloping gently towards the sea. They were splendid, large, airy two story buildings, well raised off the ground on brick pillars, so that there was a perfectly free ventilation of air between the surface of the earth and the floor of the first story, as well as through the whole of the upper rooms. A large balcony, or piazza, ran along the whole of the south front, both above and below, which shaded the brick shell of the house from the sun, and afforded a cool and convenient lounge for the men. The outhouses of all kinds were well thrown back into the rear, so that in front there was nothing to intercept the sea-breeze. The officers’ quarters stood in advance of the men’s barracks, and were, as might be expected, still more comfortable; and in front of all were the field-officer’s houses, the whole of substantial brick and mortar. This superb establishment stood in an extensive lawn, not surpassed in beauty by any nobleman’s park that I had ever seen. It was immediately after the rains when I visited it; the grass was luxuriant and newly cut, and the trees, which grew in detached clumps, were most magnificent. We clambered up into one of them, a large umbrageous wild cotton-tree, which cast a shadow on the ground—the sun being, as already mentioned, right overhead—of thirty paces in diameter; but still it was but a dwarfish plant of its kind, for I have measured others whose gigantic shadows, at the same hour, were upwards of one hundred and fifty feet in diameter, and their trunks, one in particular that overhangs the Spanish Town road, twenty feet through of solid timber; that is, not including the enormous spurs that shoot out like buttresses, and end in strong twisted roots, that strike deep into the earth, and form stays, as it were, to the tree in all directions.

Our object, however—publish it not in Askalon was, not so much to admire the charms of nature, as to enjoy the luxury of a real Havannah cigar, in solitary comfort; and a glorious perch we had selected. The shade was grateful beyond measure. The fresh breeze was rushing, almost roaring, through the leaves and groaning branches, and every thing around was green, and fragrant, and Cool, and delicious; by comparison that is, for the thermometer would, I daresay, have still vouched for eighty degrees. The branches overhead were alive with a variety of beautiful lizards, and birds of the gayest plumage; amongst others, a score of small chattering green paroquets were hopping close to us, and playing at bopeep from the lower surfaces of the leaves of the wild pine, (a sort of Brobdignag parasite, that grows, like the mistletoe, in the clefts of the larger trees,) to which they clung, as green and shining as the leaves themselves, and ever and anon popping their little heads and shoulders over to peer at us; while the red-breasted woodpecker kept drumming on every hollow part of the bark, for all the world, like old Kelson, the carpenter of the Torch, tapping along the top sides for the dry rot. All around us the men were lounging about in the shade, and sprawling on the grass in their foraging caps and light jackets, with an officer here and there lying reading, or sauntering about, bearding Phoebus himself, to watch for a shot at a swallow, as it skimmed past; while goats and horses, sheep and cattle, were browsing the fresh grass, or sheltering themselves from the heat beneath the trees. All nature seemed alive and happy—a little drowsy from the heat or so, but that did not much signify—when two carts, each drawn by a mule, and driven by a negro, approached the tree whereon we were perched. A solitary sergeant accompanied them, and they appeared, when a bowshot distant, to be loaded with white deal boxes.

I paid little attention to them until they drove under the tree.

“I say, Snowdrop,” said the non-commissioned officer, “where be them black rascals, them pioneers—where is the fateague party, my Lily white, who ought to have the trench dug by this time?”

“Dere now,” grumbled the negro, “dere now—easy ting to deal wid white gentleman, but debil cannot satisfy dem worsted sash.” Then aloud—“Me no know, sir—me can’t tell—no for me business to dig hole—I only carry what you fill him up wid;” and the vampire, looking over his shoulder, cast his eye towards his load, and grinned until his white teeth glanced from ear to ear.

“Now,” said the Irish sergeant, “I could brain you, but it is not worth while!”—I question if he could, however, knowing as I did the thickness of their skulls, “Ah, here they come!”—and a dozen half drunken, more than half-naked, bloated, villainous-looking blackamoors, with shovels and pick-axes on their shoulders, came along the road, laughing and singing most lustily. They passed beneath where we sat, and, when about a stonecast beyond, they all jumped into a trench or pit, which I had not noticed before, about twenty feet long, by eight wide. It was already nearly six feet deep, but it seemed they had instructions to sink it further, for they first plied their pickaxes, and then began to shovel out the earth. When they had completed their labour, the sergeant, who had been superintending their operations, returned to where the carts were still standing beneath the tree. One of them had six coffins in it, with the name of the tenant of each, and number of his company, marked in red chalk on the smallest end!

“I say, Snowdrop,” said the sergeant, “how do you come to have only five bodies, when Cucumbershin there has six?”

“To be sure I hab no more as five, and weight enough too. You no see Corporal Bumblechops dere? You knows how big he was.”

“Well, but where is Sergeant Heavystern? why did you not fetch him away with the others?”

The negro answered doggedly, “Massa Sergeant, you should remember dem no die of consumption—cough you call him—nor fever and ague, nor any ting dat waste dem—for tree day gone—no more—all were mount guard—tout and fat; so as for Sergeant Heavystern, him left in de dead-house at de hospital.”

“I guessed as much, you dingy tief,” said the sergeant, “but I will break your bones, if you don’t give me a sufficing reason why you left him.”—And he approached Snowdrop, with his cane raised in act to strike.

“Top, massa,” shouted the negro; “me will tell you—Dr Plaget desire dat Heavystern should be leave.”

“Confound Dr Plaget”—and he smote the pioneer across the pate, whereby he broke his stick, although, as I anticipated, without much hurting his man—but the sergeant instantly saw his error, and with the piece of the baton he gave Snowdrop a tap on the shin-bone, that set him pirouetting on one leg, with the other in his hand, like a tee-totum.

“Why, sir, did you not bring as many as Cucumbershin, sir?” “Becaase” screamed Snowdrop, in great wrath, now all alive and kicking from the smart—“Becaase Cucumbershin is loaded wid light infantry, sir, and all of mine are grenadier, Massa Sergeant—dat dem good reason surely!”

“No, it is not, sir; go back and fetch Heavystern immediately, or by the powers but I will”—“Massa Sergeant, you must be mad—Dr Plaget—you won’t yeerie—but him say, five grenadier—especially wid Corporal Bumblechop for one—is good load—ay, wery tif load—equal to seven tallion company [battallion, I presume], and more better load, great deal, den six light infantry—beside him say, tell Sergeant Pivot to send you back at five in de afternoon wid four more coffin, by which time he would have anoder load, and in trute de load was ready prepare in de deadhouse before I come away, only dem were not well cold just yet.”

I was mightily shocked at all this—but my chum took it very coolly.—He slightly raised one side of his mouth, and, giving a knowing wink with his eye, lighted a fresh cigar, and continued to puff away with all the composure in the world.

At length the forenoon wore away, and the bugles sounded for dinner, when we adjourned to the messroom. It was a very large and handsome saloon, standing alone in the lawn, and quite detached from all the other buildings, but the curtailed dimensions of the table in the middle of it, and the ominous crowding together of the regimental plate, like a show-table in Rundle and Bridge’s back shop, gave startling proofs of the ravages of the “pestilence that walketh in darkness, and the destruction that wasteth at noonday;” for although the whole regiment was in barracks, there were only nine covers laid, one of which was for me. The lieutenant-colonel, the major, and, I believe, fifteen other officers, had already been gathered to their fathers, within four months from the day on which the regiment landed from the transports. Their warfare was o’er, and they slept well. At the first, when the insidious disease began to creep on apace, and to evince its deadly virulence, all was dismay and anxiety—downright, slavish, unmanly fear, even amongst casehardened veterans, who had weathered the whole Peninsular war, and finished off with Waterloo. The next week passed over—the mortality increasing, but the dismay decreasing and so it wore on, until it reached its horrible climax, at the time I speak of, by which period there was absolutely no dread at all. A reckless gaiety had succeeded not the screwing up of one’s courage for the nonce, to mount a breach, or to lay an enemy’s frigate aboard, where the substratum of fear is present, although cased over by an energetic exertion of the will; but an unnatural light-heartedness, for which account, ye philosophers, for I cannot—and this, too, amongst men who, although as steel in the field, yet whenever a common cold overtook them in quarters, or a small twinge of rheumatic pain, would, under other circumstances, have caudled and beflannelled themselves, and bored you for your sympathy, at no allowance, as they say.

The major elect, that is, the senior captain, was in the chair; as for the lieutenant-colonel’s vacancy, that was too high an aspiration for any man in the regiment. A stranger of rank, and interest, and money, would of course get that step, for the two deaths in the regimental staff made but one captain a major, as my neighbour on the left hand feelingly remarked. All was fun and joviality; we had a capital dinner, and no allusion whatever, direct or indirect, was made to the prevailing mortal epidemic, until the surgeon came in, about eight o’clock in the evening.

“Sit down, doctor,” said the president—“take some wine; can recommend the Madeira, claret but so, so your health.”

The doctor bowed, and soon became as happy and merry as the rest; so we carried on, until about ten o’clock, when the lights began to waltz a little, and propagate also, and I found I had got enough, or, peradventure, a little more than enough, when the senior captain rose, and walked very composedly out of the room—but I noticed him pinch the doctor’s shoulder as he passed.

The Medico thereupon stole quietly after him; but we did not seem to miss either—a young sub had usurped the deserted throne, and there we were all once more in full career, singing and bousing, and cracking. bad jokes to our hearts’ content. By-and-by, in comes the doctor once more.

“Doctor,” quoth young sub, “take some wine; can’t recommend the Madeira this time,” mimicking his predecessor very successfully; “the claret, you know, has been condemned, but a little hot brandy and water, eh?”

The doctor once more bowed his pate, made his hot stuff, and volunteered a song.—After he had finished, and we had all hammered on the table to his honour and glory, until every thing danced again as if it had been a matter of very trivial concern, he said, “Sorry I was away so long; but old Spatterdash has got a damned thick skin, I can tell you—could scarcely get the lancet into him—I thought I should have had to send for a spring phleme—to tip him the veterinary, you know—and he won’t take physic: so I fear he will have but a poor chance.”

Spatterdash was no other than mine host who had just vacated!

“What, do you really think he is in for it?” said the second oldest captain who sat next me; and as he spoke he drew his leg from beneath the table, and, turning out his dexter heel, seemed to contemplate the site of the prospective fixed spur.

“I do, indeed,” quoth Dr Plaget. He died within three days!

But as I do not intend to write an essay on yellow fever, I will make an end, and get on shipboard as fast as I can, after stating one strong fact, authenticated to me by many unimpeachable witnesses. It is this; that this dreadful epidemic, or contagious fever—call it which you will, has never appeared, or been propagated at or beyond an altitude of 3000 feet above the level of the sea, although people seized with it on the hot sultry plains, and removed thither, have unquestionably died. In a country like Jamaica, with a range of lofty mountains, far exceeding this height, intersecting the island through nearly its whole length, might not Government, after satisfying themselves of the truth of the fact, improve on the hint? Might not a main-guard suffice in Kingston, for instance, while the regiments were in quarters half-way up the Liguanea Mountains, within twelve miles actual distance from the town, and within view of it, so that during the day, by a semaphore on the mountain, and another at the barrack of the outpost, a constant and instantaneous communication could be kept up, and, if need were, by lights in the night?

The admiral, for instance, had a semaphore in the stationary flagship at Port Royal, which communicated with another at his Pen, or residence, near Kingston; and this again rattled off the information to the mountain retreat, where he occasionally retired to careen; and it is fitting to state also, that in all the mountain districts of Jamaica which I visited, there is abundance of excellent water and plenty of fuel. These matters are worth consideration, one would think; however, allons—it is no business of Tom Cringle’s.

Speaking of telegraphing, I will relate an anecdote here, if you will wait until I mend my pen. I had landed at Greenwich wharf on duty—this was the nearest point of communication between Port Royal and the Admiral’s Pen—where, finding the flag lieutenant, he drove me up in his ketureen to lunch. While we were regaling ourselves, the old signalman came into the piazza, and with several most remarkable obeisances, gave us to know that there were flags hoisted on the signalmast, at the mountain settlement, of which he could make nothing, the uppermost was neither the interrogative, the affirmative, nor the negative, nor in fact any thing that with the book he could make sense of.

“Odd enough,” said the lieutenant; “hand me the glass,” and he peered away for half a minute. “Confound me if I can make heads or tails of it either; there, Cringle, what do you think? How do you construe it?”

I took the telescope. Uppermost there was hoisted on the signal mast a large tablecloth, not altogether immaculate, and under it a towel, as I guessed, for it was too opaque for bunting, and too white, although I could not affirm that it was fresh out of the fold either.

“I am puzzled,” said I, as I spied away again. Meanwhile there was no acknowledgment made at our semaphore—“There, down they go,” I continued “Why, it must be a mistake, Stop, here’s a new batch going up above the green trees—There goes the tablecloth once more, and the towel, and deuce take me, if I can compare the lowermost to any thing but a dishclout—why, it must be a dishclout.”

The flags, or substitutes for them, streamed another minute in the breeze, but as there was still no answer made from our end of the string, they were once more hauled down—We waited another minute—“Why, here goes the same signal up again, tablecloth, towel, dishclout, and all—What the diable have we got here? A red ball, two pennants under. What can that mean?—Ball—it is the bonnet-rouge, or I am a Dutchman, with two short streamers” Another look—“A red night-cap and a pair of stockings, by all that is portentous!” exclaimed I.

“Ah, I see, I see!” said the lieutenant, laughing, “signal-man, acknowledge it.”

It was done, and down came all the flags in a trice. It appeared, on enquiry, that the washing cart, which ought to have been sent up that morning, had been forgotten; and the Admiral and his secretary having ridden out, there was no one who could make the proper signal for it. So the old housekeeper took this singular method of having the cart despatched, and it was sent off accordingly.

For the first week after I entered on my new office, I was busily engaged on board; during which time my mind was quite made up, that the most rising man in his Majesty’s service, beyond all compare, was Lieutenant Thomas Cringle, third of the Firebrand. During this eventful period I never addressed a note to any friend on shore, or to a brother officer, without writing in the left-hand lower corner of the envelope, “Lieutenant Cringle,” and clapping three dashing, &c. &c. &c below the party’s name for whom it was intended.

“Must let ‘em know that an officer of my rank in the service knows somewhat of the courtesies of life, eh?”

In about ten days, however, we had gotten the ship into high order and ready for sea, and now the glory and honour of command, like my only epaulet, that had been soaked while on duty in one or two showers, and afterwards regularly bronzed in the sun, began to tarnish, and lose the new gloss, like every thing else in this weary world. It was about this time, while sitting at breakfast in the gunroom one fine morning, with the other officers of our mess, gossiping about I hardly remember what, that we heard the captain’s voice on deck.

“Call the first lieutenant.”

“He is at breakfast, sir,” said the man, whoever he might have been, to whom the order was addressed.

“Never mind then—Here, boatswain’s mate—Pipe away the men who were captured in the boats; tell them to clean themselves, and send Mr——to me”—(This was the officer who had been taken prisoner along with them in the first attack)—“they are wanted in Kingston at the trial today. Stop, tell Mr Cringle also to get ready to go in the gig.”

The pirates, to the amount of forty-five, had been transferred to Kingston jail some days previously, preparatory to their trial, which, as above-mentioned, was fixed for this day.

We pulled cheerily up to Kingston, and, landing at the Wherry wharf, marched along the hot dusty streets, under a broiling sun, Captain Transom, the other Lieutenant, and myself, in full puff, leading the van, followed by about fourteen seamen, in white straw hats, with broad black ribbons, and clean white frocks and trowsers, headed by a boatswain’s mate, with his silver whistle hung round his neck—as respectable a tail as any Christian could desire to swinge behind him; and, man for man, I would willingly have perilled my promotion upon their walloping, with no offensive weapons but their stretchers, the Following, claymores and all, of any proud, disagreeable, would-be mighty mountaineer, that ever turned up his supercilious, whisky blossomed snout at Bailie Jarvie. On they came, square-shouldered, narrow-flanked, tall, strapping fellows, tumbling and rolling about the piazzas in knots of three and four, until, at the corner of King Street, they came bolt up upon a well-known large, fat, brown lady, famous for her manufacture of spruce beer.

“Avast, avast a bit”—sung out one of the topmen—“let the nobs heave a head, will ye, and let’s have a pull.”

“Here, old mother Slush,” sung out another of the cutter’s crew. “Hand us up a dozen bottles of spruce, do you hear?”

“Dozen battle of pruce!” groaned the old woman—“who shall pay me?”

“Why, do you think the Firebrands are thieves, you old canary, you?”

“How much, eh?” said the boatswain’s mate.

“Twelve feepennies,” quoth the matron.

“Oh, ah!” said one of the men—“Twelve times five is half a crown; there’s a dollar for you, old mother Popandchokem—now give me back five shillings.”

“Eigh, oh!” whined out the spruce merchant; “you dem rascal, who tell you dat your dollar more wort den any one else money eh? How can give you back five shilling and keep back twelve feepenny—eh?” The culprit, who had stood the Cocker of the company, had by this time gained his end, which was to draw the fat damsel a step or two from the large tub half-full of water, where the bottles were packed, and to engage her attention by stirring up her bile, or corruption, as they call it in Scotland, while his messmates instantly seized the opportunity, and a bottle a-piece also, and, as I turned round to look for them, there they all were in a circle taking the meridian altitude of the sun, or as if they had been taking aim at the pigeons on the eaves of the houses above them with Indian mouth tubes.

They then replaced the bottles in the tub, paid the woman more than she asked; but, by way of taking out the change, they chucked her stern foremost into the water amongst her merchandise, and then shouldered the vessel, old woman and all, and away they staggered with her, the empty bottles clattering together in the water, and the old lady swearing and bouncing and squattering amongst them, while jack shouted to her to hold her tongue, or they would let her go by the run bodily. Thus they stumped in the wake of their captain, until he arrived at the door of the Courthouse, to the great entertainment of the bystanders, cutting the strings that confined the corks of the stone bottles as they bowled along, popping the spruce into each other’s faces, and the faces of the negroes, as they ran out of the stores to look at jack in his frolic, and now and then taking a shot at the old woman’s cockemony itself, as she was held kicking and spurring high above their heads.

At length the captain, who was no great way ahead, saw what was going on, which was the signal for doucinog the whole affair, spruce-woman, tub, and bottles; and the party gathering themselves up, mustered close aboard of us, as grave as members of the General Assembly.

The regular courthouse of the city being under repair, the Admiralty Sessions were held in a large room occupied temporarily for the purpose. At one end, raised two steps above the level of the floor, was the bench, on which were seated the Judge of the Admiralty Court, supported by two post captains in full uniform, who are ex-officio judges of this court in the colonies, one on each side. On the right, the jury, composed of merchants of the place, and respectable planters of the neighbourhood, were enclosed in a sort of box, with a common white pine railing separating it from the rest of the court. There was a long table in front of the bench, at which a lot of blackrobed devil’s limbs of lawyers, were ranged—but both amongst them, and on the bench, the want of the cauliflower wigs was sorely felt by me, as well as by the seamen, who considered it little less than murder, that men in crops-black shock-pated fellows—should sit in judgment on their fellow-creatures, where life and death were in the scales.

On the left hand of the bench, the motley public, white, black, and of every intermediate shade—were grouped; as also in front of the dock, which was large. It might have been made with a view to the possibility of fifteen unfortunates or so being arraigned at one time; but now there were no fewer than forty-three jammed and pegged together into it, like sheep in a Smithfield pen the evening before market-day. These were the forty thieves—the pirates. They were all, without exception, clean, well shaven, and decently rigged in white trowsers, linen or check shirts, and held their broad Panama sombreros in their hands.

Most of them wore the red silk sash round the waist. They had generally large bushy whiskers, and not a few had earrings of massive gold, (why call wearing earrings puppyism? Shakspeare wore earrings, or the Chandos portrait lies,) and chains of the same metal round their necks, supporting, as I concluded, a crucifix, hid in the bosom of the shirt. A Spaniard can’t murder a man comfortably, if he has not his crucifix about him.

They were, collectively, the most daring, intrepid, Salvator Rosa looking men I had ever seen. Most of them were above the middle size, and the spread of their shoulders, the grace with which their arms were hung, and finely developed muscles of the chest and neck, the latter exposed completely by the folding back of their shirt collars, cut large and square, after the Spanish fashion, beat the finest boat’s-crew we could muster all to nothing. Some of them were of mixed blood, that is, the cross between the European Spaniard and the aboriginal Indian of Cuba, a race long since sacrificed on tile altar of Mammon, the white man’s god.

Their hair, generally speaking, was long, and curled over the forehead black and glossy, or hung down to their shoulders in ringlets, that a dandy of the second Charles’s time would have given his little finger for. The forehead in most was high and broad, and of a clear olive, the nose straight, springing boldly from the brow, the cheeks oval, and the mouth—every Spaniard has a beautiful mouth, until he spoils it with the beastly cigar, as far as his well-formed firm lips can be spoiled; but his teeth he generally does destroy early in life. Take the whole, however, and deduct for the teeth, I had never seen so handsome a set of men; and I am sure no woman, had she been there, would have gainsayed me. They stood up, and looked forth upon their judges and the jury like brave men, desperadoes though they were. They were, without exception, calm and collected, as if aware that they had small chance of escape, but still determined not to give that chance away. One young man especially attracted my attention, from the bold, cool self-possession of his bearing. He was in the very front of the dock, and dressed in no way different from the rest, so far as his under garments were concerned, unless it were that they were of a finer quality. He wore a short green velvet jacket, profusely studded with knobs and chains, like small chain-shot, of solid gold, similar to the shifting button lately introduced by our dandies in their waistcoats. It was not put on, but hung on one shoulder, being fastened across his breast by the two empty sleeves tied together in a knot. He also wore the red silk sash, through which a broad gold cord ran twining like the strand of a rope. He had no earrings, but his hair was the most beautiful I had ever seen in a male—long and black, jet black and glossy. It was turned up and fastened in a club on the crown of his head with a large pin, I should rather say skewer, of silver; but the outlandishness of the fashion was not offensive, when I came to take into the account the beauty of the plaiting, and of the long raven lovelocks that hung down behind each of his small transparent ears, and the short Hyperion-like curls that clustered thick and richly on his high, pale, broad forehead. His eyes were large, black, and swimming, like a woman’s; his nose straight and thin; and such a mouth, such an under-lip, full and melting; and teeth regular and white, and utterly free from the pollution of tobacco; and a beautifully moulded small chin, rounding off, and merging in his round, massive, muscular neck.

I had never seen so fine a face, such perfection of features, and such a clear, dark, smooth skin. It was a finer face than Lord Byron’s, whom I had seen more than once, and wanted that hellish curl of the lip; and, as to figure, he could, to look at him, at any time have eaten up his lordship stoop and roop to his breakfast. It was the countenance, in a word, of a most beautiful youth, melancholy, indeed, and anxious evidently anxious; for the large pearls that coursed each other down his forehead and cheek, and the slight quivering of the under-lip, every now and then evinced the powerful struggle that was going on within. His figure was, if possible, superior to his face. It was not quite filled up, set, as we call it, but the arch of his chest was magnificent, his shoulders square, arms well put on; but his neck—“Have you seen the Apollo, neighbour?”—“No, but the cast of it at Somerset House.”—“Well, that will do—so you know the sort of neck he had.” His waist was fine, hips beautifully moulded; and although his under limbs were shrouded in his wide trowsers, they were evidently of a piece with what was seen and developed; and this was vouched for by the turn of his ankle and well-shaped foot on which he wore a small Spanish grass slipper, fitted with great nicety. He was at least six feet two in height, and such as I have described him; there he stood, with his hands grasping the rail before him and looking intently at a wigless lawyer who was opening the accusation, while he had one ear turned a little towards the sworn interpreter of the court, whose province it was, at every pause, to explain to the prisoners what the learned gentleman was stating. From time to time he said a word or two to a square-built, dark, ferocious-looking man standing next him, apparently about forty years of age, who, as well as his fellow prisoners, appeared to pay him great respect; and I could notice the expression of their countenances change as his rose or fell.

The indictment had been read before I came in, and, as already mentioned, the lawyer was proceeding with his accusatory speech, and, as it appeared to me, the young Spaniard had some difficulty in understanding the interpreter’s explanation. Whenever he saw me, he exclaimed, “Ah! aqui viene, el Senor Teniente—ahora sabremos ahora, ahora;” and he beckoned to me to draw near. I did so.

“I beg pardon, Mr Cringle,” he said in Spanish, with the ease and grace of a nobleman “but I believe the interpreter to be incapable, and I am certain that what I say is not fittingly explained to the judges; neither do I believe he can give me a sound notion of what the advocate (avocado) is alleging against us. May I entreat you to solicit the bench for permission to take his place? I know you will expect no apology for the trouble from a man in my situation.”

This unexpected address in open court took me fairly aback, and I stopped short while in the act of passing the open space in front of the dock, which was kept clear by six marines in white jackets, whose muskets, fixed bayonets, and uniform caps, seemed out of place to my mind in a criminal court. The lawyer suddenly suspended his harangue, while the judges fixed their eyes on me, and so did the audience, confound them! To be the focus of so many eyes was trying to my modesty; for, although unacquainted with bettermost society, still, below any little manner that I had acquired, there was, and always will be, an under stratum of bashfulness, or sheepishness, or mauvaise honte, call it which you will; and the torture, the breaking on the wheel, with which a man of that temperament perceives the eyes of a whole courthouse, for instance, attracted to him, none but a bashful man can understand. At length I summoned courage to speak.

“May it please your honours, this poor fellow, on his own behalf, and on the part of his fellow-prisoners, complains of the incapacity of the sworn interpreter, and requests that I may be made the channel of communication in his stead.”

This was a tremendous effort, and once more the whole blood of my body rushed to my cheeks and forehead, and I “sweat extremely.” The judges, he of the black robe and those of the epaulet, communed together.

“Have you any objection to be sworn, Mr Cringle?”

“None in the least, provided the court considers me competent, and the accused are willing to trust to me.”

“Si, si!” exclaimed the young Spaniard, as if comprehending what was going on—“Somos contentos—todos, todos!” and he looked round, like a prince, on his fellow—culprits. A low murmuring, “Si, si—contento, contento!” passed amongst the group.

“The accused, please your honours, are willing to trust to my correctness.”

“Pray, Mr Cringle, don’t make yourself the advocate of these men, mind that,” said the—, lawyer sans wig.

“I don’t intend it, sir,” I said, slightly stung; “but if you had suffered what I have done at their hands, peradventure such a caution to you would have been unnecessary.”

The sarcasm told, I was glad to see; but remembering where I was, I hauled but of action with the man of words, simply giving the last shot “I am sure no English gentleman would willingly throw any difficulty in the way of the poor fellows being made aware of what is given in evidence against them, bad as they may be.”

He was about rejoining, for a lawyer would as soon let you have the last word as a sweep or a baker the wall, when the officer of court approached and swore me in, and the trial proceeded.

The whole party were proved by fifty witnesses to have been taken in arms on board of the schooners in the Cove; and farther, it was proved that no commission or authority to cruise whatsoever was found on board any of them, a strong proof that they were pirates.

“Que dice, que dice?” enquired the young Spaniard already mentioned.

I said that the court seemed to infer, and were pressing it on the jury, that the absence of any commission or letter of marque from a superior officer, or from any of the Spanish authorities, was strong evidence that they were marauders—in fact pirates.

“Ah!” he exclaimed; “gracias, gracias!” Then, with an agitated hand, he drew from his bosom a parchment, folded like the manifest of a merchant ship, and at the same moment the gruff fierce-looking elderly man did the same, with another similar instrument from his own breast.

“Here, here are the commissions—here are authorities from the Captain General of Cuba. Read them.”

I looked over them; they were regular to all appearance; at least as there were no autographs in court of the Spanish Viceroy, or any of his officers, whose signatures, either real or forged, were affixed to the instruments, with which to compare them, there was a great chance, I conjectured, so far as I saw, that they would be acquitted: and in this case we, his majesty’s officers, would have been converted into the transgressing party; for if it were established that the vessels taken were bona fide Guarda Costas, we should be placed in an awkward predicament, in having captured them by force of arms, not to take into account the having violated the sanctity of a friendly port.

But I could see that this unexpected production of regular papers by their officers had surprised the pirates themselves, as much as it had done me,—whether it was a heinous offence of mine or not to conceal this impression from the court, (there is some dispute about the matter to this hour between me and my conscience,) I cannot tell; but I was determined to stick scrupulously to the temporary duties of my office, without stating what I suspected, or even translating some sudden expressions overheard by me, that would have shaken the credibility of the documents.

“Comissiones, comissiones!” for instance, was murmured by a weather beaten Spaniard, with a fine bald head, from which two small tufts of grey hair stood out above his ears, and with a superb Moorish face “Comissiones es decir patentes—Si hay comissiones, el Diablo, mismo, les ha hecho!”

The court was apparently nonplussed—not so the wigless man of law. His pea green visage assumed a more ghastly hue, and the expression of his eyes became absolutely blasting. He looked altogether like a cat sure of her mouse, but willing to let it play in fancied joy of escaping, as he said softly to the Jew crier, who was perched in a high chair above the heads of the people, like an ugly corbie in its dirty nest—“Crier, call Job Rumbletithump, mate of the Porpoise.”

“Job Rumbletithump, come into court!”

“Here,” quoth Job, as a stout, bluff honest-looking sailor rolled into the witnessbox.

“Now, clerk of the crown, please to swear in the mate of the Porpoise.” It was done. “Now, my man, you were taken going through the Caicos Passage in the Porpoise by pirates, in August last—were you not?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Turn your face to the jury, and speak up, sir. Do you see any of the honest men who made free with you in that dock, sir? Look at them, sir.”

“The mate walked up to the dock, stopped, and fixed his eyes intently on the young Spaniard. I stared breathlessly at him also. He grows pale as death—his lip quivers—the large drops of sweat once more burst from his brow. I grew sick, sick.

“Yes, your honour,” said the mate.

“Yes—ah!” said the devil’s limb, chuckling—“we are getting on the trail at last. Can you swear to more than one?”

“Yes, your honour.”

“Yes!” again responded the sans wig. “How many?”

The man counted them off. “Fifteen, sir. That young fellow there is the man who cut Captain Spurtel’s throat, after violating his wife before his eyes.”

“God forgive me, is it possible?” gasped Thomas Cringle.

“There’s a monster in human form for you, gentlemen,” continued devil’s limb. “Go on, Mr Rumbletithump.”

“That other man next him hung me up by the heels, and seared me on the bare”—Here honest job had just time to divert the current of his speech into a loud “whew.”

“Seared you on the whew!” quoth the facetious lawyer, determined to have his jest, even in the face of forty-three of his fellow creatures trembling on the brink of eternity. “Explain, sir, tell the court where you were seared, and how you were seared, and all about your being seared.”

Job twisted and lolloped about, as if he was looking out for some opening to bolt through; but all egress was shut up.

“Why, please your honour,” the eloquent blood mantling in his honest sunburnt cheeks; while from my heart I pitied the poor fellow, for he was absolutely broiling in his bashfulness—“He seared me onon—why, please your honour, he seared me on—with a redhot iron!”

“Why, I guessed as much, if he seared you at all; but where did he sear you? Come now,” coaxingly, “tell the court where and how he applied the actual cautery.”

Job being thus driven to his wit’s end, turned and stood at bay. “Now I will tell you, your honour, if you will but sit down for a moment, and answer me one question.”

“To be sure; why, Job, you brighten on us. There, I am down now for your question.”

“Now, sir,” quoth Rumbletithump, imitating his tormentor’s manner much more cleverly than I expected, “what part of your honour’s body touches your chair?”

“How, sir!” said the man of words—“how dare you, sir, take such a liberty, sir?” while a murmuring laugh hummed through the court.

“Now, sir, since you won’t answer me, sir,” said Job, elevated by his victory, while his hoarse voice roughened into a loud growl, “I will answer myself. I was seared, sir, where”—

“Silence!” quoth the crier at this instant drowning the mate’s voice, so that I could not catch the words he used.

“And there you have it, sir. Put me in jail, if you like, sir.”

The murmur was bursting out into a guffaw, when the judge interfered. But there was no longer any attempt at ill-timed jesting on the part of the bar, which was but bad taste at the best on so solemn an occasion.

Job continued, “I was burnt into the very muscle until I told where the gold was stowed away.”

“Aha!” screamed the lawyer, forgetting his recent discomfiture in the gladness of his success. “And all the rest were abetting, eh?”

“The rest of the fifteen were, sir.”

But the prosecutor, a glutton in his way, had thought he had bagged the whole forty-three. And so he ultimately did before the evening closed in, as most of the others were identified by other witnesses; and when they could not actually be sworn to, the piracies were brought home to them by circumstantial evidence; such, for instance, as having been captured on board of the craft we had taken, which again were identified as the very vessels which had plundered the merchantmen and murdered several of their crews, so that by six o’clock the jury had returned a verdict of Guilty—and I believe there never was a juster—against the whole of them. The finding, and sentence of death following thereupon, seemed not to create any strong effect upon the prisoners. They had all seen how the trial was going; and, long before this, the bitterness of death seemed to be past.

I could hear one of our boat’s crew, who was standing behind me, say to his neighbour, “Why, Jem, surely he is in joke. Why, he don’t mean to condemn them to be hanged seriously, without his wig, eh?”

Immediately after the judgment was pronounced, which, both as to import, and literally, I had translated to them, Captain Transom, who was sitting on the bench beside his brother officers, nodded to me, “I say, Mr Cringle, tell the coxswain to call Pearl, if you please.”

I passed the word to one of the Firebrand’s marines, who was on duty, who again repeated the order to a seaman who was standing at the door.

“I say, Moses, call the clergyman.”

Now this Pearl was no other than the seaman who pulled the stroke-oar in the gig; a very handsome negro, and the man who afterwards forked Whiffle out of the water—tall, powerful, and muscular, and altogether one of the best men in the ship. The rest of the boat’s crew, from his complexion, had fastened the sobriquet of the clergyman on him.

“Call the clergyman.”

The superseded interpreter, who was standing near, seemingly took no notice, immediately traduced this literally to the unhappy men. A murmur arose amongst them.

“Que—el padre ya! Somos en Capilla entonces—poco tiempo, poco tiempo!”

They had thought that the clergyman having been sent for, the sentence was immediately to be executed, but I undeceived them; and, in ten minutes after they were condemned, they were marched off under a strong escort of foot to the jail.

I must make a long story short. Two days afterwards, I was ordered with the launch to Kingston, early in the morning, to receive twenty-five of the pirates who had been ordered for execution that morning at Gallows Point. It was little past four in the morning when we arrived at the Wherry wharf, where they were already clustered, with their hands pinioned behind their backs, silent and sad, but all of them calm, and evincing no unmanly fear of death.

I don’t know if other people have noticed it, but this was one of several instances where I have seen foreigners—Frenchmen, Italians, and Spaniards, for instance—meet death, inevitable death, with greater firmness than British soldiers or sailors. Let me explain. In the field, or grappling in mortal combat, on the blood-slippery quarterdeck of an enemy’s vessel, British soldier or sailor is the bravest of the brave. No soldier or sailor of any other country, saving and excepting those damned Yankees, can stand against them—they would be utterly overpowered—their hearts would fail them—they would either be cut down thrust through, or they would turn and flee. Yet those same men who have turned and fled, will meet death, but it must be as I said, inevitable, unavoidable death, not only more firmly than their conquerors would do in their circumstances, but with an intrepidity oh, do not call it indifference!—altogether astonishing. Be it their religion, or their physical conformation, or what it may, all I have to do with, is the fact, which I record as undeniable. Out of five-and twenty individuals, in the present instance, not a sigh was heard, nor a moan, nor a querulous word. They stepped lightly into the boats, and seated themselves in silence. When told by the seamen to make room, or to shift so as not to be in the way of the oars, they did so with alacrity, and almost with an air of civility, although they knew that within half an hour their earthly career must close for ever.

The young Spaniard who had stood forward so conspicuously on the trial, was in my boat; in stepping in he accidentally trod on my foot in passing forward; he turned and apologized, with much natural politeness “he hoped he had not hurt me?”

I answered kindly, I presume—who could have done so harshly? This emboldened him apparently, for he stopped, and asked leave to sit by me. I consented, while an incomprehensible feeling crept over me; and when once I had time to recollect myself, I shrunk from him, as a blood stained brute, with whom even in his extremity it was unfitting for me to hold any intercourse. When he noticed my repugnance to remain near him, he addressed me hastily, as if afraid that I would destroy the opportunity he seemed to desire.

“God did not always leave me the slave of my passions,” he said, in a low, deep, most musical voice. “The day has been when I would have shrunk as you do—but time presses. You have a mother?” said he—I assented—“and an only sister?” As it happened, he was right here too. “And—and”—here he hesitated, and his voice shook and trembled with the most intense and heart-crushing emotion—“y una mas cara que ambos?” Mary, you can tell whether in this he did not also speak truth. I acknowledged there was another being more dear to me than either. “Then,” said he, “take this chain from my neck, and the crucifix, and a small miniature from my bosom; but not yet—not till I leave the boat. You will find an address affixed to the string of the latter. Your course of service may lead you to St Jago if not, a brother officer may.” His voice became inaudible; his hot scalding tears dropped fast on my hand, and the ravisher, the murderer, the pirate, wept as an innocent and helpless infant. “You will deliver it. Promise a dying man—promise a great sinner.” But it was momentary—he quelled the passion with a fierce and savage energy, as he said sternly, “Promise! promise!” I did so, and I fulfilled it.

The day broke. I took the jewels and miniature from his neck, as he led the way with the firm step of a hero, in ascending the long gibbet. The halters were adjusted, when he stepped towards the side I was on, as far as the rope would let him, “Dexa me verla—dexa me verla, una vez mas!” I held up the miniature. He looked—he glared intensely at it. “Adios, Maria, seas feliz mi querida, feliz—feliz Maria—adios—adios—Maria Mar”.

The rope severed thy name from his lips, sweet girl; but not until it also severed his soul from his body, and sent him to his tremendous account—young in years, but old in wickedness—to answer at that tribunal, where we must all appear, to the God who made him, and whose gifts he had so fearfully abused, for thy broken heart and early death, amongst the other scarlet atrocities of his short but ill spent life.

The signal had been given—the lumbering flap of the long drop was heard, and five-and-twenty human beings were wavering in the sea breeze in the agonies of death! The other eighteen suffered on the same spot the week following; and for long after, this fearful and bloody example struck terror into the Cuba fishermen.

“Strange now, that the majority—ahem—of my beauties and favourites through life have been called Mary. There is my own Mary—un peu passee certainly—but deil mean her, for half a dozen lit”—“Now, Tom Cringle, don’t bother with your sentimentality, but get along, do.”—“Well, I will get along—but have patience, you Hottentot Venus—you Lord Nugent, you. So once more we make sail.”

Next morning, soon after gunfire, I landed at the Wherry wharf in Port Royal. It was barely daylight, but, to my surprise, I found my friend Peregrine Whiffle seated on a Spanish chair, close to the edge of the wharf, smoking a cigar. This piece of furniture is an arm-chair strongly framed with hard-wood, over which, back and bottom, a tanned hide is stretched, which, in a hot climate, forms a most luxurious seat, the back tumbling out at an angle of 45 degrees, while the skin yields to every movement, and does not harbour a nest of biting ants, or a litter of scorpions, or any other of the customary occupants of a cushion that has been in Jamaica for a year.

He did not know me as I passed; but his small glimmering red face instantly identified the worthy little old man to me.

“Good morning, Mr Whiffle—the top of the morning to you, sir.”

“Hillo,” responded Peregrine—“Tom, is it you?—how d’ye do, man—how d’ye do?” and he started to his feet, and almost embraced me.

Now, I had never met the said Peregrine Whiffle but twice in my life; once at Mr Fyall’s, and once during the few days I remained in Kingston, before I set out on my travels; but he was a warm hearted kindly old fellow, and, from knowing all my friends there very intimately, he, as a matter of course, became equally familiar with me.

“Why the diable came you not to see me, man? Have been here for change of air, to recruit, you know, after that demon, the gout, had been so perplexing me, ever since you came to anchor—the Firebrand, I mean—as for you, you have been mad one while, and philandering with those inconvenient white ladies the other. You’ll cure of that, my boy you’ll come to the original comforts of the country soon, no fear!”

“Perhaps I may, perhaps not.”

“Oh, your cousin Mary, I forgot—fine girl, Tom—may do for you at home yonder,” (all Creoles speak of England as home, although they may never have seen it,) “but she can’t make pepper-pot, nor give a dish of land crabs as land crabs should be given, nor see to the serving up of a ringtail pigeon, nor rub a beefsteak to the rotting turn with a bruised papaw, nor compose a medicated bath, nor, nor—oh, confound it, Tom, she will be, when you marry her, a cold, comfortless, motionless Creole icicle!”

I let him have his swing. “Never mind her then, never mind her, my dear sir; but time presses and I must be off, I must indeed, so good morning; I wish you a good morning, sir.”

He started to his feet, and caught hold of me. “Sha’n’t go, Tom, impossible—come along with me to my lodgings, and breakfast with me. Here, Pilfer, Pilfer,” to his black valet, “give me my stick, and massu the chair, and run home and order breakfast—cold calipiver—our Jamaica salmon, you know, Tom-tea and coffee pickled mackerel, eggs, and cold tongue—any thing that Mother Dingychops can give us; so bolt, Pilfer, bolt!”

I told him that before I came ashore I had heard the gig’s-crew piped away, and that I therefore expected, as Jonathan says, that the captain would be after me immediately; so that I wished at all events to get away from where we were, as I had no desire to be caught gossiping about when my superior might be expected to pass.

“True, boy, true”—as he shackled himself to me, and we began to crawl along towards the wharf-gate leading into the town. Captain Transom by this time had landed, and came up with us.

“Ah, Transom,” said Whiffle, “glad to see you. I say, why won’t you allow Mr Cringle here to go over to Spanish Town with me for a couple of days, eh?”

“Why, I don’t remember that Mr Cringle has ever asked leave.”

“Indeed, sir, I neither did ask leave, nor have I thought of doing so,” said I.

“But I do for you,” chimed in my friend Whiffle. “Come, captain, give him leave, just for two days, that’s a prime chap. Why, Tom, you see you have got it, so off with you and come to me with your kit as soon as possible; I will hobble on and make the coffee and chocolate; and, Captain Transom, come along and breakfast with me too. No refusal, I require society. Nearly drowned yesterday, do you know that? Off this same cursed wharf too—just here. I was looking down at the small fish playing about the piles, precisely in this position; one of them was as bright in the scales as a gold fish in my old grandmother’s glass globe, and I had to crane over the ledge in this fashion,” suiting the action to the word, “when away I went”—

And, to our unutterable surprise, splash went Peregrine Whiffle, Esquire, for the second time, and there—he was shouting, and puffing, and splashing in the water. We were both so convulsed with laughter that I believe he would have been drowned for us; but the boat-keeper of the gig, the strong athletic negro before mentioned, promptly jumped on the wharf with his boat-hook, and caught the dapper little old beau by the waistband of his breeches, swaying him up, frightened enough, with his little coat skirts fluttering in the breeze, and no wonder, but not much the worse for it all.

“Diable porte l’amour,” whispered Captain Transom.

“Swallowed a Scotch pint of salt water to a certainty—run, Pilfer, bring me some brandy—gout will be into my stomach, sure as fate—feel him now—run, Pilfer, run, or gout will beat you—a dead heat that will be!” And he keckled at his small joke very complacently.

We had him carried by our people to his lodgings, where, after shifting and brandying to some tune, he took his place at the breakfast table, and did the honours with his usual amenity and warm heartedness.

After breakfast Peregrine remembered, what the sly rogue had never forgotten I suspect, that he was engaged to dine with his friend Mr Pepperpot Wagtail, in Kingston.

“But it don’t signify, Wagtail will be delighted to see you, Tom hospitable fellow Wagtail—and, now I recollect myself, Fyall and Aaron Bang are to be there; dang it, were it not for the gout, we should have a night on’t!”

After breakfast we started in a canoe for Kingston, touching at the Firebrand for my kit.

Moses Yerk, the unpoetical first lieutenant, was standing well forward on the quarterdeck as I passed over the side to get into the canoe, with the gunroom steward following me, carrying my kit under his arm.

“I say, Tom, good for you, one lark after another.”

“Don’t like that fellow,” quoth Whiffle; “he is quarrelsome in his drink for a thousand, I know it by the cut of his jib.”

He had better have held his tongue, honest man; for as he looked up broad in Yerk’s face, who was leaning over the hammocks, the scupper immediately over head, through whose instrumentality I never knew, was suddenly cleared, and a rush of dirty water, that had been lodged there since the decks had been washed down at daydawn, splashed slapdash over his head and shoulders and into his mouth, so as to set the dear little man a-coughing so violently that I thought he would have been throttled. Before he had recovered sufficiently to find his tongue, we had pulled fifty yards from the ship, and a little farther on we overtook the captain, who had preceded us in the cutter, into which we transhipped ourselves. But Whiffle never could acquit Yerk of having been, directly or indirectly, the cause of his suffering from the impure shower.

This day was the first of the Negro Carnival or Christmas Holydays, and at the distance of two miles from Kingston the sound of the negro drums and horns, the barbarous music and yelling of the different African tribes, and the more mellow singing of the Set Girls, came off upon the breeze loud and strong.

When we got nearer, the wharfs and different streets, as we successively opened them, were crowded with blackamoors, men, women, and children, dancing and singing and shouting, and all rigged out in their best. When we landed on the agents wharf we were immediately surrounded by a group of these merry-makers, which happened to be the Butchers John Canoe party, and a curious exhibition it unquestionably was. The prominent character was, as usual, the John Canoe or Jack Pudding. He was a light, active, clean made young Creole negro, without shoes or stockings; he wore a pair of light jean small-clothes, all too wide, but confined at the knees, below and above, by bands of red tape, after the manner that Malvolio would have called cross-gartering. He wore a splendid blue velvet waistcoat, with old-fashioned flaps coming down over his hips, and covered with tarnished embroidery. His shirt was absent on leave, I suppose, but at the wrists of his coat he had tin or white iron frills, with loose pieces attached, which tinkled as he moved, and set off the dingy paws that were stuck through these strange manacles, like black wax tapers in silver candlesticks. His coat was an old blue artillery uniform one, with a small bell hung to the extreme points of the swallow-tailed skirts, and three tarnished epaulets; one on each shoulder, and, O ye immortal gods! O Mars omnipotent! the biggest of the three stuck at his rump, the point d’appuit for a sheep’s tail. He had an enormous cocked hat on, to which was appended in front a white false-face or mask, of a most methodistical expression, while, Janus like, there was another face behind, of the most quizzical description, a sort of living Antithesis, both being garnished and overtopped with one coarse wig, made of the hair of bullocks tails, on which the chapeau was strapped down with a broad band of gold lace. He skipped up to us with a white wand in one hand and a dirty handkerchief in the other, and with sundry moppings and mowings, first wiping my shoes with his mouchoir, then my face, (murder, what a flavour of salt fish and onions it had!) he made a smart enough pirouette, and then sprung on the back of a nondescript animal, that now advanced capering and jumping about after the most grotesque fashion that can be imagined. This was the signal for the music to begin. The performers were two gigantic men, dressed in calf-skins entire, head, four legs, and tail. The skin of the head was made to fit like a hood, the two fore-feet hung dangling down in front, one over each shoulder, while the other two legs, or hind-feet, and the tail, trailed behind on the ground; deuce another article they had on in the shape of clothing except a handkerchief, of some flaming pattern, tied round the waist. There were also two flute-players in sheepskins, looking still more outlandish from the horns on the animals heads being preserved; and three stout fellows, who were dressed in the common white frock and trowsers, who kept sounding on bullocks horns. These formed the band as it were, and might be considered John’s immediate tail or following; but he was also accompanied by about fifty of the butcher negroes, all neatly dressed-blue jackets, white shirts, and Osnaburgh trowsers, with their steels and knife-cases by their sides, as bright as Turkish yataghans, and they all wore clean blue and white striped aprons. I could see and tell what they were; but the Thing John Canoe had perched himself upon I could make nothing of. At length I began to comprehend the device.

The Magnus Apollo of the party, the poet and chief musician, the nondescript already mentioned, was no less than the boatswain of the butcher-gang, answering to the driver in an agricultural one. He was clothed in an entire bullock’s hide horns, tail, and the other particulars, the whole of the skull being retained, and the effect of the voice growling through the jaws of the beast was most startling. His legs were enveloped in the skin of the hind-legs, while the arms were cased in that of the fore, the hands protruding a little above the hoofs, and, as he walked reared up on his hind-legs, he used, in order to support the load of the John Canoe who had perched on his shoulders, like a monkey on a dancing bear, a strong stick, or sprit, with a crutch top to it, which he leant his breast on every now and then. After the creature, which I will call the Device for shortness, had capered with its extra load, as if it had been a feather, for a minute or two, it came to a stand-still, and, sticking the end of the sprit into the ground, and tucking the crutch of it under its chin, it motioned to one of the attendants, who thereupon handed, of all things in the world, a fiddle to the ox. He then shook off the John Canoe, who began to caper about as before, while the Device set up a deuced good pipe, and sung and played, barbarously enough, I will admit, to the tune of Guinea Corn, the following ditty:

     “Massa Buccra lobfor see,
     Bullock caper like monkee,
     Dance, and shump, and poke him toe,
     Like one humane person—just so.”

And hereupon the tail of the beast, some fifty strong, music men, John Canoe and all, began to rampauge about, as if they had been possessed by a devil whose name was Legion:

     “But Massa Buccra have white love,
     soft and silken like one dove.
     To brown girl—him barely shivel,
     to black girl—oh, Lord, de Devil!”

Then a tremendous gallopading, in the which Tailtackle was nearly capsized over the wharf. He looked quietly over the edge of it.

“Boat keeper, hand me up that switch of a stretcher,” (Friend, if thou be’st not nautical, thou knowest what a rack-pin, something of the stoutest is.)

The boy did so, and Tailtackle, after moistening well his dexter claw with tobacco juice, seized the stick with his left by the middle, and balancing it for a second or two, he began to fasten the end of it into his right fist, as if he had been screwing a bolt into a socket. Having satisfied himself that his grip was secure, he let go the hold with his left hand, and crossed his arms on his breast, with the weapon projecting over his left shoulder, like the drone of a bagpipe.

The Device continued his chant, giving the seaman a wide berth, however:

     “But when him once two tree year here,
     Him tink white lady wery great boder;
     De coloured peoples, never fear,
     Ah, him lob him de morest nor any oder.”

Then another tumblification of the whole party.

     “But top-one time bad fever catch him,
     colour’d peoples kindly watch him
     in sick-room, nurse voice like music
     from him hand taste sweet de physic.
     Another trampoline.”
     “So alway come—in two tree year,
     and so wid you, massa never fear
     brown girl for cook—for wife—for nurse:
     buccra lady—poo—no wort a curse.”

“Get away, you scandalous scoundrel,” cried I; “away with you, sir!”

Here the morrice-dancers began to circle round old Tailtackle, keeping him on the move, spinning round like a weathercock in a whirlwind, while they shouted, “Oh, massa, one macaronilt if you please.” To get quit of their importunity, Captain Transom gave them one. “Ah, good massa, tank you, sweet massa!” And away danced John Canoe and his tail, careering up the street.

In the same way all the other crafts and trades had their Gumbimen, Hornblowers, John Canoes, and Nondescript. The Gardeners came nearest of any thing I had seen before to the Mayday boys in London; with this advantage, that their jack-in-the—Green was incomparably more beautiful, from the superior bloom of the larger flowers used in composing it.

The very workhouse people, whose province it is to guard the Negro culprits who may be committed to it, and to inflict punishment on them, when required, had their John Canoe and Device; and their prime jest seemed to be every now and then to throw the fellow down who enacted the latter at the corner of a street, and to administer a sound flogging to him. The John Canoe, who was the workhouse driver, was dressed up in a lawyer’s cast off gown and bands, black silk breeches, no stockings nor shoes, but with sandals of bullock’s hide strapped on his great splay feet, a small cocked hat on his head, to which were appended a large cauliflower wig, and the usual white false-face, bearing a very laughable resemblance to Chief-justice S——, with whom I happened to be personally acquainted.

The whole party which accompanied these two worthies, musicians and tail, were dressed out so as to give a tolerable resemblance of the Bar broke loose, and they were all pretty considerably well drunk. As we passed along, the Device was once more laid down, and we could notice a shield of tough hide strapped over the fellow’s stem frame, so as to save the lashes of the cat, which John Canoe was administering with all his force, while the Device walloped about and yelled, as if he had been receiving the punishment on his naked flesh. Presently, as he rolled over and over in the sand, bellowing to the life, I noticed the leather shield slip upwards to the small of his back, leaving the lower story uncovered in reality; but the driver and his tail were too drunk to observe this, and the former continued to lay on and laugh, while one of his people stood by in all the gravity of drunkenness, counting, as a first Lieutenant does, when a poor fellow is polishing at the gangway,—“Twenty-twenty-one twenty-two”—and so on, while the patient roared you, an it were any thing but a nightingales At length he broke away from the men who held him, after receiving a most sufficient flogging, to revenge which he immediately fastened on the John Canoe, wrenched his cat from him, and employed it so scientifically on him and his followers, giving them passing taps on the shins now and then with the handle, by way of spice to the dose, that the whole crew pulled foot as if Old Nick had held them in chase.

The very children, urchins of five and six years old, had their Lilliputian John Canoes and Devices. But the beautiful part of the exhibition was the Set Girls. They danced along the streets, in bands of from fifteen to thirty. There were brown sets, and black sets, and sets of all the intermediate gradations of colour. Each set was dressed pin for pin alike, and carried umbrellas or parasols of the same colour and size, held over their nice showy, well put on toques, or Madras handkerchiefs, all of the same pattern, tied round their heads, fresh out of the fold.—They sang, as they swam along the streets, in the most luxurious attitudes. I had never seen more beautiful creatures than there were amongst the brown sets—clear olive complexions, and fine faces, elegant carriages, splendid figures,—full, plump, and magnificent.

Most of the Sets were as much of a size as Lord——‘s eighteen daughters, sailing down Regent Street, like a Charity School of a Sunday, led by a rum-looking old beadle—others again had large Roman matron-looking women in the leading files, the figurantes in their tails becoming slighter and smaller, as they tapered away, until they ended in leetle picaniny, no bigger as my tumb, but always preserving the uniformity of dress, and colour of the umbrella or parasol. Sometimes the breeze, on opening a corner, would strike the stern most of a set composed in this manner of small fry, and stagger the little things, getting beneath their tiny umbrellas, and fairly blowing them out of the line, and ruffling their ribbons and finery, as if they had been tulips bending and shaking their leaves before it. But the colours were never blended in the same set—no blackie ever interloped with the browns, nor did the browns in any case mix with the sables—always keeping in mind—black woman—brown lady.

But, as if the whole city had been tom-fooling, a loud burst of military music was now heard, and the north end of the street we were ascending, which leads out of the Place d’Armes or parade, that occupies the centre of the town, was filled with a cloud of dust, that rose as high as the house tops, through which the head of a column of troops sparkled; swords, and bayonets, and gay uniforms glancing in the sun. This was the Kingston regiment marching down to the Court-house in the lower part of the town, to mount the Christmas guards, which is always carefully attended to, in case any of the John Canoes should take a small fancy to burn or pillage the town, or to rise and cut the throats of their masters, or any little innocent recreation of the kind, out of compliment to Dr Lushington, or Messrs Macauley and Babington.

First came a tolerably good band, a little too drummy, but still not amiss—well dressed, only the performers being of all colours, from white, down to jet-black, had a curious hodge-podge, or piebald appearance. Then came a dozen mounted officers at the very least colonels-in-chief, and colonels, and lieutenant-colonels, and majors all very fine, and very bad horsemen. Then the grenadier company, composed of white clerks of the place, very fine-looking young men indeed—another white company followed, not quite so smart looking—then came a century of the children of Israel, not over military in appearance—the days of Joshua, the son of Nun, had passed away, the glory had long departed from their house,—a phalanx of light browns succeeded, then a company of dark browns, or mulattoes; the regular half and—half in this, as well as in grog, is the best mixture after all, then quashie himself, or a company of free blacks, who, with the browns, seemed the best soldiers of the set, excepting the flank companies—and after blackie the battalion again gradually whitened away, until it ended in a very fine light company of buccras, smart young fellows as need be—all the officers were white, and all the soldiers, whatever their caste or colour, free of course. Another battalion succeeded, composed in the same way, and really I was agreeably surprised to find the indigenous force of the colony so efficient. I had never seen any thing more soldier-like amongst our volunteers at home. Presently a halt was called, and a mounted officer, evidently desirous of showing off, galloped up to where we were standing, and began to swear at the drivers of a wagon, with a long team of sixteen bullocks, who had placed their vehicle, whether intentionally or not I could not tell, directly across the street, where being met by another wagon of the same kind, coming through the opposite lane, a regular jam had taken place, as they had contrived, being redolent of new rum, to lock their wheels, and twist their lines of bullocks together in much admired confusion.

“Out of the way, sir, out of the way, you black rascals—don’t you see the regiment coming?”

The men spanked their long whips, and shouted to the steers by name “Back, back—Caesar—Antony—Crab, back, sir, back;” and they whistled loud and long, but Caesar and the rest only became more and more involved.

“Order arms,” roared another officer, fairly beaten by the bullocks and wagons—“Stand at ease.”

On this last signal, a whole cloud of spruce-beer sellers started fiercely from under the piazzas.

“An insurrection of the slave population, mayhap,”—thought I, but their object was a very peaceable one, for presently, I verily believe, every man and officer in the regiment, had a tumbler of this, to me, most delicious beverage at his head—the drawing of the corks was more like street—firing than any thing else—a regular feu de joue. In the meantime, a council of war seemed to be holden by the mounted officers, as to how the obstacle in front was to be overcome; but at this moment confusion became worse confounded, by the approach of what I concluded to be the white man’s John Canoe party, mounted by way of preeminence. First came a trumpeter John Canoe with a black face, which was all in rule, as his black counterparts wore white ones; but his Device, a curious little old man, dressed in a sort of blue uniform, and mounted on the skeleton, or ghost, of a gig-horse, I could make nothing of. It carried a drawn sword in its hand, with which it made various flourishes, at each one of which I trembled for its Rosinante’s ears. The Device was followed by about fifty other odd-looking creatures all on horseback; but they had no more seat than so many pairs of tongs, which in truth they greatly resembled, and made no show, and less fun. So we were wishing them out of the way, when some one whispered that the Kingston Light Horse mustered strong this morning. I found afterwards that every man who kept a good horse, or could ride, invariably served in the foot—all free persons must join some corps or other; so that the troop, as it was called, was composed exclusively of those who could not ride, and who kept no saddle horses.

The line was now formed, and after a variety of cumbrous manoeuvres out of Dundas, sixteen at the least, the regiment was countermarched, and filed along another street, where they gave three cheers, in honour of their having had a drink of spruce, and of having circumvented the bullocks and wagons. A little farther on we encountered four beautiful nine-pounder fieldpieces, each lumbering along, drawn by half a dozen mules, and accompanied by three or four negroes, but with no escort whatsoever.

“I say, quashie, where are the bombardiers, the artillerymen?”

“Oh, massa, dem all gone to drink pruce.”

“What, more spruce!—spruce—nothing but spruce!” quoth I.

“Oh, yes, massa—after dem drink pruce done, dem all go to him breakfast, massa—left we for take de gun to de barrack—beg one feepenny, massa”—as the price of the information, I suppose.

“Are the guns loaded?” said I.

“Me no sabe, massa—top, I shall see.” And the fellow to whom I addressed myself stepped forward, and began to squint into the muzzle of one of the fieldpieces, slewing his head from side to side, with absurd gravity, like a magpie peeping into a marrow-bone. “Him most be load— no daylight come troo de touch-hole—take care make me try him.” And without more ado he shook out the red embers from his pipe right on the touch-hole of the gun, when the fragment of a broken tube spun up in a small jet of flame, that made me start and jump back.

“How dare you, you scoundrel?” said the captain.

“Eigh, massa, him no hax me to see if him be load—so I was try see. Indeed, I tink him is load after all yet.”

He stepped forward, and entered his rammer into the cannon, after an unavailing attempt to blow with his blubber-lips through the touch hole.

Noticing that it did not produce the ringing sound it would have done in an empty gun, but went home with a soft thud, I sung out, “Stand clear, sir. By Jupiter, the gun is loaded.”

The negro continued to bash at it with all his might.

Meanwhile, the fellow who was driving the mules attached to the fieldpiece, turned his head, and saw what was going on. In a trice he snatched up another rammer, and, without any warning, came crack over the fellow’s cranium to whom we had been speaking, as hard as he could draw, making the instrument quiver again.

“Dem you, ye, ye Jericho—ah so you bash my brokefast—eh? You no see me tick him into de gun before we yoke de mule, dem, eh? You tief you, eh?”

“No!” roared the other—“You Walkandyam, you hab no brokefast, you liard, at least I never see him.”

“Dem lie dat!” replied Walkandnyam—“look in de gun.” Jericho peered into it again.

“Dere, you son of a—” (I sha’n’t say what)—“dere, I see de red flannin wadding over de cartridge—Your brokefast!—you be dem!” roared Jericho.

And he made at him as if he would have eaten him alive.

“You be dem youshef!” shrieked Walkandnyam—“and de red wadding be dem!” as he took a screw, and hooked out, not a cartridge certainly, but his own nightcap, full of yams and salt fish, smashed into a paste by Jericho’s rammer.

In the frenzy of his rage, he dashed this into his opponent’s face, and they both stripped in a second. Separating several yards, they levelled their heads like two telescopes on stands, and ran butt at each other like ram-goats, and quite as odoriferous, making the welkin ring again as their flint-hard skulls cracked together. Finding each other invulnerable in this direction, they closed, and began scrambling and biting and kicking, and tumbling over and over in the sand; while the skipper and I stood by cheering them on, and nearly suffocated with laughter. They never once struck with their closed fists I noticed; so they were not much hurt. It was great cry and little wool; and at length they got tired, and hauled off by mutual consent, finishing off as usual with an appeal to us—“beg one feepenny, massa!”

At six o’clock we drove to Mr Pepperpot Wagtail’s. The party was a bachelor’s one, and, when we walked up the front steps, there was our host in person, standing to receive us at the door; while, on each side of him, there were five or six of his visitors, all sitting with their legs cocked up, their feet resting on a sort of surbase, above which the jealousies, or movable blinds of the piazza, were fixed.

I was introduced to the whole party seriatim—and as each of the cock legs dropped his trams, he started up, caught hold of my hand, and wrung it as if I had been his dearest and oldest friend.

Were I to designate Jamaica as a community, I would call it a handshaking people. I have often laughed heartily upon seeing two cronies meeting in the streets of Kingston after a temporary separation; when about pistol-shot asunder, both would begin to tug and rug at the right-hand glove, but it is frequently a mighty serious affair in that hissing hot climate to get the gauntlet off; they approach,—one, a smart urbane little man, who would not disgrace St James’s Street, being more kiln-dried and less moist in his corporeals than his country friend, has contrived to extract his paw, and holds it out in act to shake.

“Ah! how do you do, Ratoon?” quoth the Kingston man.

“Quite well, Shingle,” rejoins the gloved, a stout red-faced sudoriferous yam-fed planter, dressed in blue-white jean trowsers and waistcoat, with long Hessian boots drawn up to his knee over the former, and a spannew square-skirted blue coatee, with lots of clear brass buttons: a broad brimmed black silk hat, worn white at the edge of the crown—wearing a very small neckcloth, above which shoots up an enormous shirt collar, the peaks of which might serve for winkers to a starting horse, and carrying a large whip in his hand—“Quite well, my dear fellow,” while he persists in dragging at it—the other homo all the while standing in the absurd position of a finger-post—at length off comes the glove—piecemeal perhaps—a finger first, for instance—then a thumb—at length they tackle to, and shake each other like the very devil—not a sober pump-handle shake, but a regular jiggery jiggery, as if they were trying to dislocate each other’s arms—and, confound them, even then they don’t let go—they cling like sucker fish, and talk and wallop about, and throw themselves back and laugh, and then another jiggery jiggery.

On horseback, this custom is conspicuously ridiculous—I have nearly gone into fits at beholding two men careering along the road at a hand gallop each on a goodish horse, with his negro boy astern of him on a mule, in clean frock and trowsers, and smart glazed hat with broad gold band, with massa’s umbrella in a leathem case slung across his shoulders, and his portmanteau behind him on a mail pillion covered with a snow white sheep’s fleece—suddenly they pull up on recognising each other, when, tucking their whips under their arms, or crossing them in their teeth, it may be they commence the rugging and riving operation. In this case, Shingle’s bit of blood swerves, we may assume—Ratoon rides at him—Shingle fairly turns tail, and starts out at full speed, Ratoon thundering in his rear, with out-stretched arm; and it does happen, I am assured, that the hot pursuit often continues for a mile, before the desired clapperclaw is obtained. But when two lusty planters meet on horseback, then indeed Greek meets Greek. They, begin the interview by shouting to each other, while fifty yards off, pulling away at the gloves all the while—“How are you, Canetop?—glad to see you, Canetop. How do you do, I hope.”—“How are you, Yamfu, my dear fellow?” their horses fretting and jumping all the time—and if the Jack Spaniards or gadflies be rife, they have, even when denuded for the shake, to spur at each other, more like a Knight Templar and a Saracen charging in mortal combat, than two men merely struggling to be civil; an after all they have often to get their black servants alongside to hold their horses, for shake they must, were they to break their necks in the attempt. Why they won’t shake hands with their gloves on, I am sure I can’t tell. It would be much cooler and nicer—lots of Scotchmen in the community too.

This hand-shaking, however, was followed by an invitation to dinner from each individual in the company. I looked at Captain Transom, as much as to say, “Can they mean us to take them at their word?” He nodded.

“We are sorry, that being under orders to go to sea on Sunday morning, neither Mr Cringle nor myself can have the pleasure of accepting such kind invitations.”

“Well, when you come back you know—one day you must give me.”

“And I won’t be denied,” quoth a second.

“Liberty Hall, you know, so to me you must come, no ceremony,” said a third—and so on.

At length, no less a man drove up to the door, than Judge——. When he drew up, his servant, who was sitting behind on a small projection of the ketureen, came round and took a parcel out of the gig, closely wrapped in a blanket—“Bring that carefully in, Leonidas,” said the Judge, who now stumped up stairs with a small saw in his hand. He received the parcel, and, laying it down carefully in a corner, he placed the saw on it, and then came up and shook hands with Wagtail, and made his bow very gracefully.

“What—can’t you do without your ice and sour claret yet?” said Wagtail.

“Never mind, never mind,” said the Judge; and here dinner being announced, we all adjourned to the dining room, where a very splendid entertainment was set out, to which we set to, and in the end, as it will appear, did the utmost justice to it.

The wines were most exquisite. Madeira, for instance, never can be drunk in perfection anywhere out of the Tropics. You may have the wine as good at home, although I doubt it, but then you have not the climate to drink it in—I would say the same of most of the delicate French wines—that is, those that will stand the voyage—Burgundy of course not included; but never mind, let us get along.

All the decanters were covered with cotton bags, kept wet with saltpetre and water, so that the evaporation carried on powerfully by the stream of air that flowed across the room, through the open doors and windows, made the fluids quite as cool as was desirable to worthies sitting luxuriating with the thermometer at 80 or thereby; yet, from the free current, I was in no way made aware of this degree of heat by any oppressive sensation; and I found in the West Indies as well as in the East, although the wind in the latter is more dry and parching, that a current of heated air, if it be moderately dry, even with the thermometer at 95 in the shade, is really not so enervating or oppressive as I have found it in the stagnating atmosphere on the sunny side of Pall Mall, with the mercury barely at 75. A cargo of ice had a little before this arrived at Kingston, and at first all the inhabitants who could afford it iced every thing, wine, water, cold meats, fruits, and the Lord knows what all, tea, I believe, amongst other things; (by the way, I have tried this, and it is a luxury of its kind;) but the regular old stagers, who knew what was what, and had a regard for their interiors, soon began to eschew the ice in every way, saving and expecting to cool the water they washed their thin faces and hands in; so we had no ice, nor did we miss it, but the judge had a plateful of chips on the table before him, one of which he every now and then popped into his long thin bell-glass of claret, diluting it, I should have thought, in rather a heathenish manner; but n’importe, he worked away, sawing off pieces now and then from the large lump in the blanket, (to save the tear and wear attending a fracture,) which was handed to him by his servant, so that by eleven o’clock at night, allowing for the water, he must have concealed his three bottles of pure claret, besides garnishing with a lot of white wines. In fine, we all carried on astonishingly, some good singing was given, a practical joke was tried on now and then by Fyall, and we continued mighty happy. As to the singing part of it,—the landlord, with a bad voice, and worse ear, opened the rorytory, by volunteering a very extraordinary squeak; fortunately it was not very long, but it gave him a plea to screw a song out of his right-hand neighbour, who in turn acquired the same right of compelling the person next to him to make a fool of himself; at last it came to Transom, who, by the by, sung exceedingly well, but he had got more wine than usual, and essayed the coquette a bit.

“Bring the wet nightcap!” quoth our host.

“Oh, it is that you are at?” said Transom, and he sung as required; but it was all pearls before swine, I fear.

At last we stuck fast at Fyall. Music! there was not one particle in his whole composition; so the wet nightcap already impended over him, when I sung out, “Let him tell a story, Mr Wagtail! Let him tell a story!”

“Thank you, Tom,” said Fyall; “I owe you a good turn for that, my boy.”

“Fyall’s story—Mr Fyall’s story!” resounded on all hands. Fyall, glad to escape the song and wet nightcap, instantly began.

“Why, my friends, you all know Isaac Grimm, the Jew snuff merchant and cigar maker, in Harbour Street. Well, Isaac had a brother, Ezekiel by name, who carried on business in Curacao; you may have heard of him too. Ezekiel was often down here for the purpose of laying in provisions, and purchasing dry goods. You all know that?”

“Certainly!” shouted both Captain Transom and myself in a breath, although we had never heard of him before.

“Hah, I knew it!”—Well then, Ezekiel was very rich; he came down in August last, in the Pickle schooner, and, as bad luck would have it, he fell sick of the fever.—“Isaac,” quoth Ezekiel, “I am wery sheek; I tink I shall tie.” “Hope note, dear proder; you hab no vife, nor shildir; pity you should tie, Ezekiel. Ave you make your vill, Ezekiel?” “Yesh; de vill is make. I leavish every ting to you, Isaac, on von condition, dat you send my pody to be bury in Curacao. I love dat place; twenty years since I lef de Minories, all dat time I cheat dere, and tell lie dere, and lif dere happily. Oh, you most sent my pody for its puryment to Curacao!” “I will do dat, mine proder.” “Den I depart in peace, dear Isaac;” and the Israelite was as good as his word for once. He did die. Isaac, according to his promise, applied to the captains of several schooners; none of them would take the dead body. “What shall I do?” thought Isaac, “de monish mosh not be loss.” So he straightway had Ezekiel (for even a Jew won’t keep long in that climate) cut up and packed with pickle into two barrels, marked, “Prime mess pork, Leicester, M’Call and Co. Cork” He then shipped the same in the Fan Fan, taking bills of lading in accordance with the brand, deliverable to Mordecai Levi of Curacao, to whom he sent the requisite instructions. The vessel sailed. Off St Domingo she carried away a mast, tried to fetch Carthagena under a jury-spar—fell to leeward, and finally brought up at Honduras.

Three months after, Isaac encountered the master of the schooner in the streets of Kingston. “Ah, mine goot captain—how is you you lookish tin ave you been sheek?” “No, Moses I am well enough, thank you—poor a bit, but sound in health, thank God. You have heard of my having carried away the mainmast, and, after kicking about fifteen days on short allowance, having been obliged to bear up for Honduras?” “I know noting of all dat,” said Isaac; “sorry for it, captain—very sad inteed” “Sad—you may say that, Moses. But I am honest although poor, and here is your bill of lading for your two barrels of provisions; Prime mess, it says damned tough, say I—Howsomedever,” pulling out his purse, “the present value on Bogle, Jopp, and Co’s. wharf is L.5, 6s. 8d. the barrel; so there are two doubloons, Moses, and now discharge the account on the back of the bill of lading, will you?” “Vy should I take payment, captain? if de”—(pork stuck in his throat like ‘amen’ in Macbeth,) “if de barrel ish lost, it can’t be help—de act of God, you know.” “I am an honest man, Isaac,” continued the captain, “although a poor one, and I must tell the truth—we carried on with our own as long as it lasted, at length we had to break bulk, and your two barrels being nearest the hatchway, why we ate them first, that’s all. Lord, what has come over you?”—Isaac grew pale as a corpse.—“Oh, mine Got—mine poor proder, dat you ever was live, to tie in Jamaic—Oh tear, oh tear!”

“Did they eat the head and hands and—”

“Hold your tongue, Tom Cringle, don’t interrupt me; you did not eat them; I tell it as it was told to me. So Isaac Grimm,” continued Fyall, “was fairly overcome; the kindly feelings of his nature were at length stirred up, and as he turned away, he wept—blew his nose hard, like a Chaldean trumpet in the new moon—and while the large tears coursed each other down his care-worn cheeks, he exclaimed, wringing the captain’s hand, in a voice tremulous and scarcely audible from extreme emotion,” “Oh, Isaac Grimm, Isaac Grimm—tid not your heart mishgive you, ven you vas commit te great blasphemy of invoish Ezekiel—flesh of your flesh, pone of your pone—as por—de onclean peast, I mean. If you hat put invoish him ash peef, surely te earthly tabernacle of him, as always sheet in de high places in te Sinacogue, would never have been allow to pass troo te powels of te pershicuting Nazareen. Ah, mine goot captain mine very tear friend—vat—vat—vat av you done wid de cask, captain?”

“Oh most lame and impotent conclusion,” sung out the judge, who by this time had become deucedly prosy, and all hands arose, as if by common consent, and agreed that we had got enough.

So off we started in groups.—Fyall, Captain Transom, Whiffle, Aaron Bang, and myself, sallied forth in a bunch, pretty well inclined for a lark, you may guess. There are no lamps in the streets of Kingston, and as all the decent part of the community are in their cavies by half-past nine in the evening, and as it was now “the witching time o’ night,” there was not a soul in the streets that we saw, except a solitary town guard now and then, lurking about some dark corner under the piazzas. These same streets, which were wide and comfortable enough in the daytime, had become unaccountably narrow and intricate since six o’clock in the evening; and, although the object of the party was to convoy Captain Transom and myself to our boat at the Ordnance Wharf, it struck me that we were as frequently on a totally different tack.

“I say, Cringle, my boy,” stuttered out my superior, Lieutenant and Captain being both drowned in and equalized by the claret—“why, Tom, Tom Cringle, you dog—don’t you hear your superior officer speak, sir, eh?”

My superior officer, during this address, was standing with both arms round a pillar of the piazza.

“I am here, sir,” said I.

“Why, I know that; but why don’t you speak when I Hillo where’s Aaron, and Fyall, and the rest, eh?”

They had been attracted by sounds of revelry in a splendid mansion in the next street, which we could see was lit up with great brilliancy, and had at this time shot about fifty yards ahead of us, working to windward, tack and tack, like Commodore Trunnion.

“Ah, I see,” said Transom; “let us heave ahead, Tom—now, do ye hear?— stand you with your white trowsers against the next pillar.” The ranges supporting the piazza were at distances of about twenty feet from each other.—“Ah, stand there now—I see it.”—So he weighted from the one he had tackled to, and making a staggering bolt of it, ran up to the pillar against which I stood, its position being marked by my white vestments, where he again hooked on for a second or two, until I had taken up a new position.

“There, my boy, that’s the way to lay out a warp—right in the wind’s eye, Tom—we shall fairly beat those lubbers who are tacking in the stream—nothing like warping in the dead water near the shore—mark that down, Tom—never beat in a tideway when you can warp up along shore in the dead water—Damn the judge’s ice” (hiccup) “he has poisoned me with that piece he plopped in my last whitewash of Madeira. He a judge! He may be a good crim—criminal judge, but no judge of wine—Why don’t you laugh, Tom, eh?—and then his saw—the rasp of a saw I hate—wish it, and a whole nest more, had been in his legal stomach—full of old saws Shakespeare—he, he—why don’t you laugh, Tom?—Poisoned by the judge, by Jupiter—Now, here we are fairly abreast of them—Hillo! Fyall, what are you after?”

“Hush, hush,” said Fyall, with drunken gravity.

“And hush, hush,” said Aaron Bang.

“Come here, Tom, come here,” said Whiffle, in a whisper. We were now directly under the piazza of the fine house, in the first floor of which some gay scene was enacting. “Here, Tom, here—now stand there—hold by that pillar there. I say, Transom, give me a lift.”

“Can’t, Whiffle, can’t, for the soul of me, Peregrine, my dear—but I see, I see.”

With that the gallant captain got down on all fours; Whiffle, a small light man, got on his back, and, with the aid of Bang and Fyall, managed to scramble up on my shoulders, where he stood, holding by the window sill above, with a foot on each side of my head. His little red face was thus raised flush with the window sill, so that he could see into the dark piazza on the first floor, and right through into the magnificent and sparkling drawing room beyond.

“Now tell us what’s to be seen,” said Aaron.

“Stop, stop,” rejoined Whiffle—“My eye, what a lot of splendid women no men—a regular lady party—Hush! a song.” A harp was struck, and a symphony of Beethoven’s played with great taste—A song, low and melancholy, from two females followed.

“The music of the spheres!” quoth Whiffle.

We were rapt—we had been inspired before—and, drunk as we were, there we sat or stood, as best suited us, exhibiting the strange sight of a cluster of silent tipsy men. At length, at one of the finest swells, I heard a curious gurgling sound overhead, as if some one was being gagged, and I fancied Peregrine became lighter on my shoulders—Another fine dieaway note—I was sure of it.

“Bang, Bang—Fyall—He is evaporating with delight—no weight at all, growing more and more ethereal—lighter and lighter, as I am a gentleman he is off—going, going, gone—exhaled into the blue heavens, by all that is wonderful!”

Puzzled beyond measure, I stept hurriedly back, and capsized over the captain, who was still enacting the joint-stool on all-fours behind me, by which Whiffle had mounted to my crosstrees, and there we rolled in the sand, master and man.

“Murdered, Tom Cringle—murdered—you have hogged me like the old Ramilies—broke my back, Tom—spoiled my quadrilling for ever and a day; d——n the judge’s ice though, and the saw particularly.”

“Where is he—where is Whiffle?” enquired all hands, in a volley.

“The devil only knows,” said I; “he has flown up into the clouds, catch him who can. He has left this earth anyhow, that is clear.”

“Ha, ha!” cried Fyall, in great glee, who had seen him drawn into the window by several white figures, after they had tied a silk handkerchief over his mouth; “Follow me, my boys;” and we all scrambled after him to the front door of the house, to which we ascended by a handsome flight of marble steps, and when there, we began to thunder away for admittance. The door was opened by a very respectable looking elderly gentleman, with well powdered hair, and attended by two menservants in handsome liveries, carrying lights. His bearing and gentlemanlike deportment had an immediate effect on me, and I believe on the others too. He knew Fyall and Whiffle, it appeared.

“Mr Fyall,” he said, with much gentleness, “I know it is only meant as a frolic, but really I hope you will now end it. Amongst yourselves, gentlemen, this may be all very well, but considering my religion, and the slights we Hebrews are so often exposed to, myself and my family are more sensitive and pervious to insult than you can well understand.”

“My dear fellow,” quoth Fyall, “we are all very sorry; the fact is, we had some d——d bad shaddock after dinner, which has made us very giddy and foolish somehow. Do you know, I could almost fancy I had been drinking wine.”

“Cool and deliciously impudent that same, (hiccup,)” quoth the skipper.

“But hand us back little Whiffle,” continued Fyall, “and we shall be off.”

Here Whiffie’s voice was heard from the drawing room. “Here, Fyall!— Tom Cringle!—Here, here, or I shall be murdered!”

“Ah! I see,” said Mr H. “this way, gentlemen. Come, I will deliver the culprit to you;” and we followed him into the drawing room, a most magnificent saloon, at least forty feet by thirty, brilliantly lit up with crystal lamps, and massive silver candelabra, and filled with elegant furniture, which was reflected, along with the chandeliers that hung from the centre of the coach roof, by several large mirrors, in rich frames, as well as in the highly polished mahogany floor.

There, in the middle of the room, the other end of it being occupied by a bevy of twelve or fifteen richly-dressed females, visitors, as we conjectured, sat our friend Peregrine, pinioned into a large easy chair, with shawls and scarfs, amidst a sea of silk cushions, by four beautiful young women, black hair and eyes, clear white skins, fine figures, and little clothing. A young Jewess is a beautiful animal, although, like the unclean—confound the metaphor—which they abhor—they don’t improve by age.

When we entered, the blushing girls, who had been beating Whiffle over his spindle shins, with their large garden fans, dashed through a side door, unable to contain their laughter, which we heard long after they had vanished, echoing through the lofty galleries of the house. Our captive knight being restored to us, we made our bows to the other ladies, who were expiring with laughter, and took our leave, with little Whiffle on our shoulders—the worthy Hebrew, whom I afterwards knew in London, sending his servant and gig with Captain Transom and myself to the wharf. There we tumbled ourselves into the boat, and got on board the Firebrand about three in the morning. We were by this time pretty well sobered; at four a gun was fired, the topsails were let fall, and sheeted home, and topgallant-sails set over them, the ship having previously been hove short; at half-past, the cable being right up and down—another gun the drums and fifes beat merrily, spin flew the capstan, tramp went the men that manned it. We were under weigh— Eastward, ho!—for Santiago de Cuba.

CHAPTER XII.—The Cruise o the Firebrand

     Shewing, amongst other pleasant matters well worthy of being
     recorded, how Thomas communed with his two Consciences.
     “Oh, who can tell, save he whose heart hath tried,
     And danced in triumph o’er the waters wide,
     The exulting sense, the pulse’s maddening play,
     That thrills the wanderer of that trackless way?”
     Byron, The Corsair, 1.9—16.

We had to beat up for three days before we could weather the east end of Jamaica, and tearing work we had of it. I had seen bad weather and heavy seas in several quarters of the globe—I had tumbled about under a close-reefed main-topsail and reefed foresail, on the long seas in the Bay of Biscay—I had been kicked about in a seventy-four, off the Cape of Good Hope, as if she had been a cork—I had been hove hither and thither, by the short jumble of the North Sea, about Heligoland, and the shoals lying off the mouth of the Elbe, when every thing over head was black as thunder, and all beneath as white as snow—I had enjoyed the luxury of being tom in pieces by a northwester, which compelled us to lie-to for ten days at a stretch, under storm stay-sails, off the coast of Yankeeland, with a clear, deep, cold, blue sky above us, without a cloud, where the sun shone brightly the whole time by day, and a glorious harvest moon by night, as if they were smiling in derision upon our riven and strained ship, as she reeled to and fro like a wounded Titan; at one time buried in the trough of the sea, at another cast upwards towards the heavens by the throes of the tormented waters, from the troubled bosom of the bounding and roaring ocean, amidst hundreds of miniature rainbows, (ay, rainbows by night as well as by day,) in a hissing storm of white, foaming, seething spray, torn from the curling and rolling bright green crests of the mountainous billows. And I have had more than one narrow squeak for it in the neighbourhood of the “still vexed Bermoothes,” besides various other small affairs, written in this Boke; but the devil such another tumblefication had I ever experienced-not as to danger, for there was none except to our spars and rigging, but as to discomfort as I did in that short, cross, splashing, and boiling sea, off Morant Point. By noon, however, on the second day, having had a slant from the land wind in the night previous, we got well to windward of the long sandy spit that forms the east end of the island, and were in the act of getting a small pull of the weather braces, before edging away for St Jago, when the wind fell suddenly, and in half an hour it was stark calm—‘una furiosa calma,’ as the Spanish sailors quaintly enough call it.

We got rolling tackles up, and the topgallant-masts down, and studding sails out of the tops, and lessened the lumber and weight aloft in every way we could think of, but, nevertheless, we continued to roll gunwale under, dipping the main-yardarm into the water every now and then, and setting every thing adrift, below and on deck, that was not bolted down, or otherwise well secured.

When I went down to dinner, the scene was extremely good. Old Yerk, the first lieutenant, was in the chair—one of the boys was jammed at his side, with his claws fastened round the foot of the table, holding a tureen of boiling pease-soup, with lumps of pork swimming in it, which the aforesaid Yerk was baling forth with great assiduity to his messmates. Hydrostatics were much in vogue—the tendency of fluids to regain their equilibrium (confound them, they have often in the shape of claret destroyed mine) was beautifully illustrated, as the contents of each carefully balanced soup-plate kept swaying about on the principle of the spirit level. The Doctor was croupier, and as it was a return to dinner to the captain, all hands were regularly figged out, the lieutenants, with their epaulets and best coats, and the master, purser, and doctor, all fittingly attired. When I first entered, as I made my obeisance to the captain, I thought I saw an empty seat next him, but the matter of the soup was rather an engrossing concern, and took up my attention, so that I paid no particular regard to the circumstance; however, when we had all discussed the same, and were drinking our first glass of Tenerife, I raised my eyes to hob and nob with the master, when ye gods and little fishes—who should they light on, but the merry phiz merry, also! no more—of Aaron Bang, Esquire, who, during the soup interlude, had slid into the vacant chair unperceived by me.

“Why, Mr Bang, where, in the name of all that is comical, where have you dropped from?” Alas! poor Aaron—Aaron in a rolling sea was of no kindred to Aaron ashore. His rosy gills were no longer rosy, his round plump face seemed to be covered with parchment from an old bass drum, cut out from the centre where most bronzed by the drumstruck—there was no speculation in his eyes that he did glare withal—and his lips, which were usually firm and open, disclosing his nice teeth, in frequent grin, were held together, as if he had been in grievous pain. At length he did venture to open them—and, like the ghost of Hamlet’s father, “it lifted up its head and did address itself to motion, as it would speak.” But they began to quiver, and he once more screwed them together, as if he feared the very exertion of uttering a word or two might unsettle his moniplies.

The master was an odd garrulous small man, who had a certain number of stated jokes, which, so long as they were endured, he unmercifully inflicted on his messmates. I had come in for my share, as a new comer, as well as the rest; but even with me, although I had been but recently appointed, they had already began to pall, and wax wearisome; and blind as the beetle of a body was, he could not help seeing this. So poor Bang, unable to return a shot, sea-sick and crestfallen, offered a target that he could not resist taking aim at. Dinner was half over, and Bang had not eaten any thing, when, unseasonable as the hour was, the little pot—valiant master, primed with two tumblers of grog, in defiance of the captain’s presence, fairly fastened on him, like a remora, and pinned him down with one of his longwinded stories about Captain David Jones, in the Phantome, during a cruise off Cape Flyaway, having run foul of a whale, and thereby nearly foundered; and that at length having got the monster harpooned and speared, and the devil knows what, but it ended in getting her alongside, when they scuttled the leviathan, and then, wonderful to relate, they found a Greenlandman, with royal yards crossed, in her maw, and the captain and mate in the cabin quarrelling about the reckoning.

“What do you think of that, Mr Bang—as well they might be, Mr Bang—as well they might be?” Bang said nothing, but at the moment—whether the said Aaron lent wings to the bird or no I cannot tell—a goose, swimming in apple sauce, which he was, with a most stern countenance, endeavouring to carve, fetched away right over the gunwale of the dish; and taking a whole boat of melted butter with it, splashed across the table during a tremendous roll, that made every thing creak and groan again, right into the small master’s lap who was his vis-a-vis. I could hear Aaron grumble out something about—“Strange affinity-birds of a feather.” But his time was up, his minutes were numbered, and like a shot he bolted from the table, skulling or rather clawing away towards the door, by the backs of the chairs, like a green parrot, until he reached the marine at the bottom of the ladder, at the door of the captain’s cabin, round whose neck he immediately fetterlocked his fins.

He had only time to exclaim to his new ally, “My dear fellow, get me some brandy and water, for the love of mercy”—when he blew up, with an explosion like the bursting of a steam-boiler—“Oh dear, oh dear,” we could hear him murmuring in the lulls of his agony then another loud report—“there goes my yesterday’s supper-hot grog and toasted cheese” another roar, as if the spirit was leaving its earthly tabernacle “dinner-claret—Madeira—all cruel bad in a second edition-cheese, teal, and ringtail pigeon—black crabs calapi and turtle soup”—as his fleshly indulgences of the previous day rose up in judgment against him, like a man’s evil deeds on his death-bed. At length-the various strata of his interior were entirely excavated—“Ah!—I have got to my breakfast-to the simple tea and toast at last.—Brandy and water, my dear Transom, brandy and water, my darling, hot, without sugar”—and “Brandy and water” died in echoes in the distance as he was stowed away into his cot in the captain’s cabin. It seems that it had been all arranged between him and Transom, that he was to set off for St Thomas in the East, the morning on which we sailed, and to get a shove out in the pilot-boat schooner, from Morant Bay, to join us for the cruise; and accordingly he had come on board the night previous when I was below, and being somewhat qualmish he had wisely kept his cot; the fun of the thing depending, as it seemed, on all hands carefully keeping it from me that he was on board.

I apprehend most people indulge in the fancy that they have Consciences, such as they are. I myself now—even I, Thomas Cringle, Esquire, amongst sundry vain imaginings, conceive that I have a Conscience somewhat of the caoutchouc order I will confess stretching a little upon occasion, when the gale of my passions blows high, nevertheless a highly respectable Conscience, as things go a stalwart unchancy customer, who will not be gainsaid or contradicted; but he may be disobeyed, although never with impunity. It is all true that a young, well-fledged gentlewoman, for she is furnished with a most swift pair of wings, called Prosperity, sometimes gets the better of Master Conscience, and smothers the Grim Feature for a time, under the bed of eider down, whereon you and her ladyship are reposing. But she is a sad jilt in many instances, this same Prosperity; for some fine morning, with the sun glancing in through the crevices of the window-shutters, just at the nick when, after turning yourself, and rubbing your eyes, you courageously thrust forth one leg, with a determination to don your gramashes without more delay. “Tom,” says she “Tom Cringle, I have got tired of you, Thomas; besides, I hear my next door neighbour, Madame Adversity, tirling at the door pin; so give me my down bed, Tom, and I’m off.” With that she bangs open the window, and before I recover from my surprise, launches forth, with a loud whir, mattrass and all, leaving me, Pilgarlic, lying on the paillasse. Well, her nest is scarcely cold, when in comes me Mistress Adversity, a wee outspoken sour crabbit gizzened anatomy of an old woman—“You ne’erdoweel, Tam,” quoth she, “is it no enough that you consort with that scarlet limmer, who has just yescaped thorough the winday, but ye maun smoors my firstborn, puir Conscience, atween ye? Whare hae ye stowed him, mantell me that?” And the ancient damosel gives me a shrewd clip on the skull with the poker. “That’s right, mother,” quoth Conscience, from beneath the straw mattrass—“Give it to him—he’ll no hear me another devel, mother.” And I found that my own weight, deserted as I was by that—ahem—Prosperity, was no longer sufficient to keep him down. So up he rose, with a loud pech; and while the old woman keelhauled me with a poker on one side, he yerked at me on the other, until at length he gave me a regular cross buttock, and then between them they diddled me outright. When I was fairly floored, “Now, my man,” said Adversity, “I bear no spite; if you will but listen to my boy there, we shall be good friends still. He is never unreasonable. He has no objections to your consorting even with Madame Prosperity, in a decent way; but he will not consent to your letting her get the better of you, nor to your doting on her, even to the giving her a share of your bed, when she should never be allowed to get farther than the servants hall, for she should be kept in subjection, or she’ll ruin you for ever, Thomas.—Conscience is a rough lad, I grant you, and I am keen and snell also; but never mind, take his advice, and you’ll be some credit to your freens yet, ye scoonrel.” I did so, and the old lady’s visits became shorter and shorter, and more and more distant, until at length they ceased altogether; and once more Prosperity, like a dove with its heaven-borrowed hues all glowing in the morning sun, pitched one morning on my windowsill. It was in June. “Tom, I am come back again.” I glowered at her with all my bir. She made a step or two towards me, and the lesson of Adversity was fast evaporating into thin air, when, lo! the sleeping lion himself awoke. “Thomas,” said Conscience, in a voice that made my flesh creep, “not into your bed, neither into your bosom, Thomas. Be civil to the young woman, but remember what your best friend Adversity told you, and never let her be more than your handmaiden again; free to come, free to go, but never more to be your mistress.” I screw myself about, and twist, and turn in great perplexity—Hard enough all this, and I am half inclined to try to throttle Conscience outright.

But to make a long story short—I was resolute—“Step into the parlour, my dearest I hope we shall never part any more; but you must not get the upper hand, you know. So step into the other room, and whenever I get my inexpressibles on, I will come to you there.”

But this Conscience, about which I am now hovering, seldom acts the monitor in this way, unless against respectable crimes, such as murder, debauching your friend’s wife, or stealing. But the chield I have to do with for the present, and who has led to this rigmarole, is a sort of deputy Conscience, a looker—out after small affairs—peccadilloes. The grewsome carle, Conscience Senior, you can grapple with, for he only steps forth on great occasions, when he says sternly—and the mischief is, that what he says, we know to be true—says he, “Thomas Cringle”—he never calls me Tom, or Mister, or Lieutenant—“Thomas Cringle,” says he, “if you do that thing, you shall be damned.” “Lud-a mercy,” quoth I, Thomas, “I will perpend, Master Conscience” and I set myself to eschew the evil deed, with all my might. But Conscience the Younger—whom I will take leave to call by Quashie’s appellative hereafter, Conshy—is a funny little fellow, and another guess sort oft a chap altogether. An instance—“I say, Tom, my boy—Tom Cringle—why the deuce now”—he won’t say “the Devil” for the world—“Why the deuce, Tom, don’t you confine yourself to a pint of wine at dinner, eh?” quoth Conshy. “Why will you not give up your toddy after it? You are ruining your interior, Thomas, my fine fellow—the gout is on the look out for you, your legs are spindling, and your paunch is increasing. Read Hamlet’s speech to Polonius, Tom, and if you don’t find all the marks of premature old age creeping on you, then am I, Conshy, a Dutchman, that’s all.” Now Conshy always lectures you in the watches of the night; I generally think his advice is good at breakfast time, and during the forenoon, egad, I think it excellent and most reasonable, and I determine to stick by it and if Conshy and I dine alone, I do adhere to his maxims most rigidly; but if any of my old allies should topple in to dinner, Conshy, who is a solitary mechanic, bolts instanter. Still I remember him for a time—we sit down—the dinner is good. “I say, Jack, a glass of wine, Peter what shall we have?” and until the pint a-piece is discussed, all is right between Conshy and I. But then comes some grouse. Hook, in his double-refined nonsense, palavers about the blasphemy of white wine after brown game—and he is not far wrong either;—at least I never thought he was, so long as my Hermitage lasted; but at the time I speak of, it was still to the fore—so the moment the pint a-piece was out, “Hold hard, Tom, now,” cheeps little Conshy. “Why, only one glass of Hermitage, Conshy.” Conshy shakes his head. Cheese—after the manner of the ancients—Hook again—“Only one glass of port, Conshy.” He shakes his head, and at length the cloth is drawn, and a confounded old steward of mine, who is now installed as butler, brings in the crystal decanters, sparkling to the wax lights poor as I am, I consider mutton fat still damnable—and every thing as it should be, down to a finger-glass. “Now, Mary, where are the children?” I am resolute. “Jack, I can’t drink—out of sorts, my boy so mind yourself, you and Peter.—Now, Conshy,” says I, “where are you now, my boy?” But just at this instant, jack strikes out, with “Cringle, order me a tumbler—something hot—I don’t care what it is.”—“Ditto,” quoth Peter; and down crumbles all my fine fabric of resolutions, only to be rebuilt tomorrow, before breakfast again, or at any odd moment, when one’s flesh is somewhat fishified. Another instance. “I say, Tom,” says Conshy, “do give over looking at that smart girl tripping it along t’other side of the street.”—“Presently, my dear little man,” says I. “Tight little woman that, Conshy; handsome bows; good bearings forward; tumbles home sweetly about the waist, and tumbles out well above the hips; what a beautiful run! and spars clean and tight; back-stays well set up.”—“Now, Tom, you vagabond, give over. Have you not a wife of your own?”—“To be sure I have, Conshy, my darling; but toujours per” “Have done, now, you are going too far,” says Conshy.—“Oh, you be—“. “Thomas,” cries a still stern voice, from the very inmost recesses of my heart. Wee Conshy holds up his finger, and pricks his ear. “Do you hear him?” says he.—“I hear,” says I, “I hear and tremble.” Now, to apply. Conshy has been nudging me for this half hour to hold my tongue regarding Aaron Bang’s sea-sickness.—“It is absolutely indecent,” quoth he. “Can’t help it, Conshy; no more than the extra tumbler; those who are delicate need not read it; those who are indelicate won’t be the worse of it.”—“But,” persists Conshy—“I have other hairs in your neck, Master Tommy—you are growing a bit of a buffoon on us, and sorry am I to say it, sometimes not altogether, as a man with a rank imagination may construe you, a very decent one. Now, my good boy, I would have you to remember that what you write is condemned in the pages of Old Christopher to an amber immortalization,” (Ohon for the Provost!) “nay, don’t perk and smile, I mean no compliment, for you are but the straw in the amber, Tom, and the only wonder is, how the deuce you got there.”

“But, my dear Conshy”

“Hold your tongue, Tom—let me say out my say, and finish my advice—and how will you answer to my father, in your old age, when youth, and health, and wealth, may have flown, if you find any thing in this your Log calculated to bring a blush on an innocent cheek, Tom, when the time shall have for ever passed away wherein you could have remedied the injury? For Conscience will speak to you then, not as I do now, in friendly confidence, and impelled by a sincere regard for you, you right hearted, but thoughtless, slapdash vagabond.”

There must have been a great deal of absurd perplexity in my visage, as I sat receiving my rebuke, for I noticed Conshy smile, which gave me courage.

“I will reform, Conshy, and that immediately; but my moral is good, man.”

“Well, well, Tom, I will take you at your word, so set about it, set about it.”

“But, Conshy—a word in your starboard lug—why don’t you go to the fountain-head—why don’t you try your hand in a curtain lecture on Old Kit North himself, the hoary sinner who seduced me?”

Conshy could no longer contain himself; the very idea of Old Kit having a conscience of any kind or description whatever, so tickled him, that he burst into a most uproarious fit of laughter, which I was in great hopes would have choked him, and thus made me well quit of him for ever. For some time I listened in great amazement, but there was something so infectious in his fun, that presently I began to laugh too, which only increased his cachinnation, so there were Conshy and I roaring, and shouting, with the tears running down our cheeks.

“Kit listen to me!—Oh, Lord”

“You are swearing, Conshy,” said I, rubbing my hands at having caught him tripping.

“And enough to make a Quaker swear,” quoth he, still laughing. “No, no, Kit never listens to me—why, he would never listen even to my father, until the gout and the Catholic Relief Bill, and last of all, the Reform Bill, broke him down, and softened his heart.”

So there is an allegory for you, worthy of John Bunyan.

Next morning we got the breeze again, when we bore away for Santiago de Cuba, and arrived off the Moro Castle on the fifth evening at sunset, after leaving Port Royal harbour. The Spaniards, in their better days, were a kind of coral worms; wherever they planted their colonies, they immediately set to covering themselves in with stone and mortar; applying their own entire energies, and the whole strength of their Indian captives, first to the erection of a fort; their second object (postponed to the other only through absolute necessity) being then to build a temple to their God. Gradually vast fabrics appeared, where before there was nothing but one eternal forest, or a howling wilderness; and although it does come over one, when looking at the splendid moles, and firm-built bastions, and stupendous churches of the New World—the latter surpassing, or at the lest equalling in magnificence and grandeur those of Old Spain herself—that they are all cemented by the blood and sweat of millions of gentle Indians, of whose harmless existence in many quarters, they remain the only monuments, still it is a melancholy reflection to look back and picture to one’s self what Spain was, and to compare her, in her high and palmy state, with what she is now—to compare her present condition even with what she was when, as a young midshipman, I first visited her glorious Transatlantic colonies.

Until the Peninsula was overrun by the French, Buenos Ayres, La Guayra, Porto Cavello, Maracaibo, Santa Martha, and that stronghold of the west, the key of the Isthmus of Darien, Cartagena de las Indias, with Porto Bello, and Vera Cruz, on the Atlantic shores of South America, were all prosperous and happy—“Llenas de plata;” and on the Western coast, Valparaiso, Lima, Panama, and San Bias, were thriving and increasing in population and wealth. England, through her colonies, was at that time driving a lucrative trade with all of them; but the demon of change was abroad, blown thither by the pestilent breath of European liberalism. What a vineyard for Abbe Sieyes to have laboured in! Every Capitania would have become a purchaser of one of his cut and dried constitutions. Indeed he could not have turned them out of hand fast enough. The enlightened few, in these countries, were as a drop in the bucket to the unenlightened many; and although no doubt there were numbers of the former who were well-meaning men, yet they were one and all guilty of that prime political blunder, in common with our Whig friends at home, of expecting a set of semi-barbarians to see the beauty of, and to conform to, their newfangled codes of free institutions, for which they were as ready as I am to die at this present moment. Bolivar, in his early fever of patriotism, made the same mistake, although his shrewd mind, in his later career, saw that a despotism, pure or impure—I will not qualify it—was your only government for the savages he had at one time dignified with the name of fellow-patriots. But he came to this wholesome conclusion too late; he tried backs it is true, but it would not do; the fiend had been unchained, and at length hunted him broken hearted into his grave.

But the men of mind tell us, that those countries are now going through the political fermentation, which by and by will clear, when the sediment will be deposited, and the different ranks will each take their acknowledged and undisputed stations in society; and the United States are once and again quoted against we of the adverse faction, as If there were the most remote analogy between their population, originally composed of all the cleverest scoundrels of Europe, and the barbarians of Spanish America, where a few master spirits, all old Spaniards, did indeed for a season stick fiery off from the dark mass of savages amongst whom their lot was cast, like stars in a moonless night, but only to suffer a speedy eclipse from the clouds and storm which they themselves had set in motion. We shall see. The scum as yet is uppermost, and does not seem likely to subside, but it may boil over. In Cuba, however, all was at the time quiet, and still is, I believe, prosperous, and that too without having come through this said blessed political fermentation.

During the night we stood off and on under easy sail, and next morning, when the day broke, with a strong breeze and a fresh shower, we were about two miles off the Moro Castle, at the entrance of Santiago de Cuba.

I went aloft to look round me. The sea-breeze blew strong, until it reached within half a mile of the shore, where it stopped short, shooting in cat’s-paws occasionally into the smooth belt of water beyond, where the long unbroken swell rolled like molten silver in the rising sun, without a ripple on its surface, until it dashed its gigantic undulations against the face of the precipitous cliffs on the shore, and flew up in smoke. The entrance to the harbour is very narrow, and looked from my perch like a zig-zag chasm in the rock, inlaid at the bottom with polished blue steel; so clear, and cahn, and pellucid was the still water, wherein the frowning rocks, and magnificent trees on the banks, and the white Moro, rising with its grinning tiers of cannon, battery above battery, were reflected veluti in speculum, as if it had been in a mirror.

We had shortened sail, and fired a gun, and the signal for a pilot was flying, when the Captain hailed me. “Does the sea breeze blow into the harbour yet, Mr Cringle?”

“Not yet, sir; but it is creeping in fast.”

“Very well. Let me know when we can run in. Mr Yerk, back the main topsail, and heave the ship to.”

Presently the pilot canoe, with the Spanish flag flying in the stem, came alongside; and the pilot, a tall brown man, a Moreno, as the Spaniards say, came on board. He wore a glazed cocked hat, rather an out-of-the-way finish to his figure, which was rigged in a simple Osnaburg shirt, and pair of trowsers. He came on the quarterdeck, and made his bow to the captain with all the ease in the world, wished him a good morning, and taking his place by the quartermaster at the conn, he took charge of the ship. “Senor,” quoth he to me, “is de harbour blow up yet? I mean, you see de viento walking into him?—de terral—dat is land-wind—has he cease?”

“No,” I answered; “the belt of smooth water is growing narrower fast; but the sea breeze does not blow into the channel yet. Now it has reached the entrance.”

“Ah, den make sail, Senior Capitan; fill de main-topsail.” We stood in, the scene becoming more and more magnificent as we approached the land.

The fresh green shores of this glorious island lay before us, fringed with white surf, as the everlasting ocean in its approach to it gradually changed its dark blue colour, as the water shoaled, into a bright joyous green under the blazing sun, as if in sympathy with the genius of the fair land, before it tumbled at his feet its gently swelling billows, in shaking thunders on the reefs and rocky face of the coast, against which they were driven up in clouds, the incense of their sacrifice. The undulating hills in the vicinity were all, either cleared, and covered with the greenest verdure that imagination can picture, over which strayed large herds of cattle, or with forests of gigantic trees, from amongst which, every now and then, peeped out some palm thatched mountain settlement, with its small thread of blue smoke floating up into the calm clear morning air, while the blue hills in the distance rose higher and higher, and more and more blue, and dreamy, and indistinct, until their rugged summits could not be distinguished from the clouds through the glimmering hot haze of the tropics.

“By the mark seven,” sung out the leadsman in the starboard chains. “Quarter less three,” responded he in the larboard, showing that the inequalities of the surface at the bottom of the sea, even in the breadth of the ship, were at least as abrupt as those presented above water by the sides of the natural canal into which we were now running. By this time, on our right hand, we were within pistol shot of the Moro, where the channel is not above fifty yards across; indeed there is a chain, made fast to a rock on the opposite side, that can be hove up by a capstan until it is level with the water, so as to constitute an insurmountable obstacle to any attempt to force an entrance in time of war. As we stood in, the golden flag of Spain rose slowly on the staff at the Water Battery, and Cast its large sleepy folds abroad in the breeze; but, instead of floating over mailclad men, or Spanish soldiers in warlike array, three poor devils of half naked mulattoes stuck their heads out of an embrasure under its shadow. “Senor Capitan,” they shouted, ‘una Botella de Roma, por el honor del pais.’ We were mighty close upon leaving the bones of the old ship here, by the by; for at the very instant of entering the harbour’s mouth, the land wind checked us off, and very nearly hove us broadside on upon the rocks below the castle, against which the swell was breaking in thunder.

“Let go the anchor,” sung out the captain.

“All gone, sir,” promptly responded the boatswain from the forecastle. And as he spoke, we struck once, twice, and very heavily the third time. But the breeze coming in strong, we fetched away again; and as the cable was promptly cut, we got safely off. However, on weighing the anchor afterwards, we found the water had been so shoal under the bows, that the ship, when she stranded, had struck it, and broken the stock short off by the ring. The only laughable part of the story consisted in the old cook, an Irishman, with one leg and half an eye, scrambling out of the galley nearly naked, in his trowsers, shirt, and greasy nightcap, and sprawling on all fours after two tubsful of yams, which the third thump had capsized all over the deck. “Oh you scurvy-looking tief,” said he, eying the pilot; “if it was running us ashore you were set on, why the blazes couldn’t ye wait until the yams, were in the copper, bad luck to ye—and them all scraped too! I do believe, if they even had been taties, it would have been all the same to you.” We stood on, the channel narrowing still more the rocks rising to a height of at least five hundred feet from the water’s edge, as sharply and precipitously as if they had only yesterday been split asunder; the splintered projections and pinnacles on one side, having each their corresponding fissures and indentations on the other, as if the hand of a giant could have closed them together again.

Noble trees shot out in all directions wherever they could find a little earth and a crevice to hold on by, almost meeting overhead in several places, and alive with all kinds of birds and beasts incidental to the climate; parrots of all sorts, great and small, clomb, and hung, and fluttered amongst the branches; and pigeons of numberless varieties; and the glancing woodpecker, with his small hammer like tap, tap, tap; and the West India nightingale, and humming birds of all hues; while cranes, black, white, and grey, frightened from their fishing-stations, stalked and peeped about, as awkwardly as a warrant-officer in his long skirted coat on a Sunday; while whole flocks of ducks flew across the mastheads and through the rigging; and the dragon-like guanas, and lizards of many kinds, disported themselves amongst the branches, not lazily or loathsomely, as we, who have only seen a lizard in our cold climate, are apt to picture, but alert, and quick as lightning, their colours changing with the changing light or the hues of the objects to which they clung, becoming literally in one respect portions of the landscape.

And then the dark, transparent crystal depth of the pure waters under foot, reflecting all nature so steadily and distinctly, that in the hollows, where the overhanging foliage of the laurel-like bushes darkened the scene, you could not for your life tell where the elements met, so blended were earth and sea.

“Starboard,” said I. I had now come on deck. “Starboard, or the main topgallant-masthead will befoul of the limb of that tree. Foretop, there—lie out on the larboard fore-yardarm, and be ready to shove her off, if she sheers too close.”

“Let go the anchor,” struck in the first lieutenant.

Splash—the cable rumbled through the hause-hole.

“Now here are we brought up in paradise,” quoth the doctor.

“Curukity coo-curukity coo,” sung out a great bushy-whiskered sailor from the crows nest, who turned out to be no other than our old friend Timothy Tailtackle, quite juvenilffied by the laughing scene. “Here am I, Jack, a booby amongst the singing-birds,” crowed he to one of his messmates in the maintop, as he clutched a branch of a tree in his hand, and swung himself up into it. But the ship, as Old Nick would have it, at the very instant dropped astern a yew yards in swinging to her anchor, and that so suddenly, that she left him on his perch in the tree, converting his jest, poor fellow, into melancholy earnest. “Oh Lord, sir!” sung out Timotheus, in a great quandary. “Captain, do heave ahead a bit—Murder—I shall never get down again! Do, Mr Yerk, if you please, sir!” And there he sat twisting and craning himself about, and screwing his features into combinations evincing the most comical perplexity.

The captain, by the way of a bit of fun, pretended not to hear him. “Maintop, there,” quoth he.

The midshipman in the top answered him, “Ay, ay, sir.”

“Not you, Mr Reefpoint; the captain of the top I want.”

“He is not in the top, sir,” responded little Reefpoint, chuckling like to choke himself.

“Where the devil is he, sir?”

“Here, sir,” squealed Timothy, his usual gruff voice spindling into a small cheep through his great perplexity. “Here, sir.”

“What are you doing there, sir? Come down this moment, sir. Rig out the main-topmast-studding-sail-boom, Mr Reefpoint, and tell him to slew himself down by that long water-withe.”

To hear was to obey. Poor Timothy clambered down to the fork of the tree, from which the withe depended, and immediately began to warp himself down, until he reached within three or four yards of the starboard fore-topsail-yardarm; but the corvette still dropped astern, so that, after a vain attempt to hook on by his feet, he swung off into mid air, hanging by his hands.

It was no longer a joke. “Here, you black fellows in the pilot canoe,” shouted the captain, as he threw them a rope himself. “Pass the end of that line round the stump yonder—that one below the cliff, there—now pull like devils, pull.”

They did not understand a word he said; but, comprehending his gestures, did what he wished.

“Now haul on the line, men—gently, that will do. Missed it again,” continued the skipper, as the poor fellow once more made a fruitless attempt to swing himself on to the yard.

“Pay out the warp again,” sung out Tailtackle—“quick, quick, let the ship swing from under, and leave me scope to dive, or I shall be obliged to let go, and be killed on the deck.”

“God bless me, yes,” said Transom, “stick out the warp, let her swing to her anchor.”

In an instant all eyes were again fastened with intense anxiety on the poor fellow, whose strength was fast failing, and his grasp plainly relaxing.

“See all clear to pick me up, messmates.”

Tailtackle slipped down to the extreme end of the black withe, that looked like a scorched snake, pressed his legs close together, pointing his toes downwards, and then steadying himself for a moment, with his hands right above his head, and his arms at the full stretch, he dropped, struck the water fairly, entering its dark blue depths without a splash, and instantly disappeared, leaving a white frothy mark on the surface.

“Did you ever see any thing better done?” said Yerk. “Why he clipped into the water with the speed of light, as clean and clear as if he had been a marlinspike.”

“Thank heaven!” gasped the captain; for if he had struck the water horizontally, or fallen headlong, he would have been shattered in pieces every bone would have been broken—he would have been as completely smashed as if he had dropped upon one of the limestone rocks on the ironbound shore.

“Ship, ahoy!” We were all breathlessly looking over the side where he fell, expecting to see him rise again; but the hail came from the water on t’other side. “Ship, ahoy—throw me a rope, good people—a rope, if you please. Do you mean to careen the ship, that you have all run to the starboard side, leaving me to be drowned to port here?”

“Ah, Tailtackle! well done, old boy,” sung out a volley of voices, men and officers, rejoiced to see the honest fellow alive. He clambered on board, in the bight of one of twenty ropes that were hove to him.

When he came on deck the captain slyly said, “I don’t think you’ll go a bird nesting in a hurry again, Tailtackle.”

Tim looked with a most quizzical expression at his captain, all blue and breathless and dripping as he was; and then sticking his tongue slightly in his cheek, he turned away, without addressing him directly, but murmuring as he went, “A glass of grog now.”

The Captain, with whom he was a favourite, took the hint. “Go below now, and turn in till eight bells, Tailtackle. Mafame,” to his steward, “send him a glass of hot brandy grog.”

“A northwester,” whispered Tim aside to the functionary; “half and half, tallow chops—eh!”

About an hour after this a very melancholy accident happened to a poor boy on board, of about fifteen years of age, who had already become a great favourite of mine from his modest, quiet deportment, as well as of all the gunroom-officers, although he had not been above a fortnight in the ship. He had let himself down over the bows by the cable to bathe. There were several of his comrades standing on the forecastle looking at him, and he asked one of them to go out on the spritsail-yard, and look round to see if there were any sharks in the neighbourhood; but all around was deep, clear, green water. He kept hold of the cable, however, and seemed determined not to put himself in harm’s way, until a little wicked urchin, who used to wait on the warrant-officers mess, a small meddling snipe of a creature, who got flogged in well-behaved weeks only once, began to taunt my little mild favourite.

“Why, you chicken-heart, I’ll wager a thimbleful of grog, that such a tailor as you are in the water can’t for the life of you swim out to the buoy there.”

“Never you mind, Pepperbottom,” said the boy, giving the imp the name he had richly earned by repeated flagellations. “Never you mind. I am not ashamed to show my naked hide, you know. But it is against orders in these seas to go overboard, unless with a sail underfoot; so I sha’n’t run the risk of being tattooed by the boatswain’s mate, like some one I could tell of.”

“Coward,” muttered the little wasp, “you are afraid, sir;” and the other boys abetting the mischief-maker, the lad was goaded to leave his hold of the cable, and strike out for the buoy. He reached it, and then turned, and pulled towards the ship again, when he caught my eye.

“Who is that overboard? How dare you, sir, disobey the standing order of the ship? Come in, boy; come in.”

My hailing the little fellow shoved him off his balance, and he lost his presence of mind for a moment or two, during which he, if any thing, widened his distance from the ship.

At this instant the lad on the spritsail-yard sung out quick and suddenly, “A shark, a shark!”

And the monster, like a silver pillar, suddenly shot up perpendicularly from out the dark green depths of the sleeping pool, with the waters sparkling and hissing around him, as if he had been a sea demon rushing on his prey.

“Pull for the cable, Louis,” shouted fifty voices at once—“pull for the cable.”

The boy did so—we all ran forward. He reached the cable grasped it with both hands, and hung on, but before he could swing himself out of the water, the fierce fish had turned. His whitish green belly glanced in the sun—the poor little fellow gave a heart splitting yell, which was shattered amongst the impending rocks into piercing echoes, and these again were reverberated from cavern, to cavern, until they died away amongst the hollows in the distance, as if they had been the faint shrieks of the damned—yet he held fast for a second or two—the ravenous tyrant of the sea tug, tugging at him, till the stiff, taught cable shook again. At length he was torn from his hold, but did not disappear; the animal continuing on the surface crunching his prey with his teeth, and digging at him with his jaws, as if trying to gorge a morsel too large to be swallowed, and making the water flash up in foam over the boats in pursuit, by the powerful strokes of his tail, but without ever letting go his hold. The poor lad only cried once more but such a cry—oh God, I never shall forget it!—and, could it be possible, in his last shriek, his piercing expiring cry, his young voice seemed to pronounce my name—at least so I thought at the time, and others thought so too. The next moment he appeared quite dead. No less than three boats had been in the water alongside when the accident happened, and they were all on the spot by this time. And there was the bleeding and mangled boy, torn along the surface of the water by the shark, with the boats in pursuit, leaving a long stream of blood, mottled with white specks of fat and marrow in his wake. At length the man in the bow of the gig laid hold of him by the arm, another sailor caught the other arm, boat-hooks and oars were dug into and launched at the monster, who relinquished his prey at last, stripping off the flesh, however, from the upper part of the right thigh, until his teeth reached the knee, where he nipped the shank clean off, and made sail with the leg in his jaws.

Poor little Louis never once moved after we took him in.—I thought I heard a small still stem voice thrill along my nerves, as if an echo of the beating of my heart had become articulate. “Thomas, a fortnight ago you impressed that poor boy—who was, and now is not—out of a Bristol ship.” Alas conscience spoke no more than the truth.

Our instructions were to be at St Jago, until three British ships, then loading, were ready for sea, and then to convey them through the Caicos, or windward passage. As our stay was therefore likely to be ten days or a fortnight at the shortest, the boats were hoisted out, and we made our little arrangements and preparations for taking all the recreation in our power; and our worthy skipper, taught and stiff as he was at sea, always encouraged all kinds of fun and larking, both amongst the men and the officers, on occasions like the present. Amongst his other pleasant qualities, he was a great boat racer, constantly building and altering gigs and pulling boats, at his own expense, and matching the men against each other for small prizes.

He had just finished what the old carpenter considered his chef d’oeuvre, and a curious affair this same masterpiece was. In the first place it was forty-two feet long over all, and only three and a half feet beam—the planking was not much above an eighth of an inch in thickness, so that if one of the crew had slipped his foot off the stretcher, it must have gone through the bottom. There was a standing order that no man was to go into it with shoes on. She was to pull six oars, and her crew were the captains of the tops, the primest seamen in the ship, and the steersman, no less a character than the skipper himself.

Her name, for I love to be particular, was the Dragonfly; she was painted out and in of a bright red, amounting to a flame colour, oars red the men wearing trowsers and shirts of red flannel, and red net nightcaps—which common uniform the captain himself wore. I think I have said before, that he was a very handsome man, but if I have not I say so now, and when he had taken his seat, and the gigs, all fine men, were seated each with his oar held upright upon his knees ready to be dropped into the water at the same instant, the craft and her crew formed to my eye as pretty a plaything for grown children as ever was seen. “Give way, men,” the oars dipped as clean as so many knives, without a sparkle, the gallant fellows stretched out, and away shot the Dragonfly, like an arrow, the green water foaming into white smoke at the bows, and hissing away in her wake.

She disappeared in a twinkling round a reach of the canal where we were anchored, and we, the officers, for we must needs have our boat also, were making ready to be off, to have a shot at some beautiful cranes that, floating on their large pinions, slowly passed us with their long legs stuck straight out astern, and their longer necks gathered into their crops, when we heard a loud shouting in the direction where the Captain’s boat had vanished. Presently the Devil’s Darning Needle, as the Scotch part of the crew loved to call the Dragonfly, stuck her long snout round the headland, and came spinning along with a Spanish canoe manned by four negroes, and steered by an elderly gentleman, a sharp acute-looking little man, in a gingham coat, in her wake, also pulling very fast; however, the Don seemed dead beat, and the captain was in great glee. By this time, both boats were alongside, and the old Spaniard, Don Ricardo Campana, addressed the captain, judging that he was one of the seamen. “Is the Captain on board?” said he in Spanish. The Captain, who understood the language, but did not speak it, answered him in French, which Don Ricardo seemed to speak fluently, “No, sir, the Captain is not on board; but there is Mr Yerk, the first lieutenant, at the gangway.” He had come for the letter-bag he said, and if we had any newspapers, and could spare them, it would be conferring a great favour on him.

He got his letters and newspapers handed down, and very civilly gave the Captain a dollar, who touched his cap, tipped the money to the men, and winking slightly to old Yerk and the rest of us, addressed himself to shove off. The old Don, drawing up his eyebrows a little, (I guess he rather saw who was who, for all his make-believe innocence,) bowed to the officers at the gangway, sat down, and desiring his people to use their broad-bladed, clumsy looking oars, or paddles, began to move awkwardly away. We, that is the gunroom officers, all except the second Lieutenant, who had the watch, and the master, now got into our own gig also, rowed by ourselves, and away we all went in a covey; the purser and doctor, and three of the middies forward, Thomas Cringle, gentleman, pulling the stroke oar, with old Moses Yerk as coxswain; and as the Dragonflies were all red, so we were all seagreen, boat, oars, trowsers, shirts, and nightcaps. We soon distanced the cumbrous looking Don, and the strain was between the Devil’s Darning Needle and our boat the Watersprite, which was making capital play, for although we had not the bottom of the topmen, yet we had more blood, so to speak, and we had already beaten them, in their last gig, all to sticks. But Dragonfly was a new boat, and now in the water for the first time.

We were both of us so intent on our own match, that we lost sight of the Spaniard altogether, and the Captain and the first Lieutenant were bobbing in the stern sheets of their respective gigs like a couple of souple Tams, as intent on the game as if all our lives had depended on it, when in an instant the long black dirty prow of the canoe was thrust in between us, the old Don singing out, “Dexa mi lugar, paysanos, dexa mi lugar, mis hijos.” We kept away right and left, to look at the miracle;—and there lay the canoe, rumbling and splashing, with her crew walloping about, and grinning and yelling like incarnate fiends, and as naked as the day they were born, and the old Don himself so staid and so sedate and drawley as he was a minute before, now all alive, shouting “Tira diablitos, tira!” flourishing a small paddle, with which he steered, about his head like a wheel, and dancing and jumping about in his seat, as if his bottom had been a haggis with quicksilver in it.

“Zounds,” roared the skipper,—“why, topmen—why, gentlemen, give way for the honour of the ship—Gentlemen, stretch out—Men, pull like devils; twenty pounds if you beat him.”

We pulled, and they pulled, and the water roared, and the men strained their muscles and sinews to cracking, and all was splash, splash, and whiz, whiz, and pech, pech, about us, but it would not do the canoe headed us like a shot, and in passing, the cool old Don again subsided into a calm as suddenly as he had been roused from it, and sitting once more, stiff as a poker, turned round and touched his sombrero, “I will tell that you are coming, gentlemen.”

It was now the evening, near nightfall, and we had been so intent on beating our awkward-looking opponent, that we had none of us time to look at the splendid scene that burst upon our view, on rounding a precipitous rock, from the crevices of which some magnificent trees shot up—their gnarled trunks and twisted branches overhanging the canal where we were pulling, and anticipating the fast-falling darkness that was creeping over the fair face of nature; and there we floated, in the deep shadow of the cliff and trees Dragonflies and Water Sprites, motionless and silent, the boats floating so lightly that they scarcely seemed to touch the water, the men resting on their oars, and all of us rapt with the magnificence of the scenery around us, beneath us, and above us.

The left or western bank of the narrow entrance to the harbour, from which we were now debauching, ran out in all its precipitousness and beauty, (with its dark evergreen bushes overshadowing the deep blue waters, and its gigantic trees shooting forth high into the glowing western sky, their topmost branches gold-tipped in the flood of radiance shed by the rapidly sinking sun, while all below where we lay was grey cold shade,) until it joined the northern shore, when it sloped away gradually towards the east; the higher parts of the town sparkled in the evening sun, on this dun ridge, like golden turrets on the back of an elephant, while the houses that were in the shade covered the declivity with their dark masses, until it sank down to the water’s edge. On the right hand the haven opened boldly out into a basin about four miles broad by seven long, in which the placid waters spread out beyond the shadow of the western bank into one vast sheet of molten gold, with the canoe tearing along the shining surface, her side glancing in the sun, and her paddles flashing back his rays, and leaving a long train of living fire sparkling in her wake.

It was now about six o’clock in the evening; the sun had set to us, as we pulled along under the frowning brow of the cliff, where the birds were fast settling on their nightly perches, with small happy twitterings, and the lizards and numberless other chirping things began to send forth their evening hymn to the great Being who made them and us, and a solitary white sailing owl would every now and then flit spectre like from one green tuft, across the bald face of the cliff, to another, and the small divers around us were breaking up the black surface of the waters into little sparkling circles as they fished for their suppers. All was becoming brown and indistinct near us; but the level beams of the setting sun still lingered with a golden radiance upon the lovely city, and the shipping at anchor before it, making their sails, where loosed to dry, glance like leaves of gold, and their spars, and masts, and rigging like wires of gold, and gilding their flags, which were waving majestically and slow from the peaks in the evening breeze; and the Moorish-looking steeples of the churches were yet sparkling in the glorious blaze, which was gradually deepening into gorgeous crimson, while the large pillars of the cathedral, then building on the highest part of the ridge, stood out like brazen monuments, softening even as we looked into a Stonehenge of amethysts. One half of every object, shipping, houses, trees, and hills, was gloriously illuminated; but even as we looked, the lower part of the town gradually sank into darkness, and faded from our sight—the deepening gloom cast by the high bank above us, like the dark shadow of a bad spirit, gradually crept on, and on, and extended farther and farther; the sailing water-fowl in regular lines, no longer made the water flash up like flame; the russet mantle of eve was fast extending over the entire hemisphere; the glancing minarets, and the tallest trees, and the topgallant-yards and masts of the shipping, alone flashed back the dying effulgence of the glorious orb, which every moment grew fainter and fainter, and redder and redder, until it shaded into purple, and the loud deep bell of the convent of La Merced swung over the still waters, announcing the arrival of even-song and the departure of day.

“Had we not better pull back to supper, sir?” quoth Moses Yerk to the captain. We all started, the men dipped their oars, our dreams were dispelled, the charm was broken—“Confound the matter-of-fact blockhead,” or something very like it, grumbled the captain—“but give way, men,” fast followed, and we returned towards the ship. We had not pulled fifty yards, when we heard the distant rattle of the muskets of the sentries at the gangways, as they discharged them at sundown, and were remarking, as we were rowing leisurely along, upon the strange effect produced by the reports, as they were frittered away amongst the overhanging cliffs in chattering reverberations, when the captain suddenly sung out, “Oars!” All hands lay on them. “Look there,” he continued—“There—between the gigs—saw you ever any thing like that, gentlemen?” We all leant over; and although the boats, from the way they had, were skimming along nearer seven than five knots—there lay a large shark; he must have been twelve feet long at the shortest, swimming right in the middle, and equidistant from both, and keeping way with us most accurately.

He was distinctly visible, from the strong and vivid phosphorescence excited by his rapid motion through the sleeping waters of the dark creek, which lit up his jaws, and head, and whole body; his eyes were especially luminous, while a long wake of sparkles streamed away astern of him from the lashing of his tail. As the boats lost their speed, the luminousness of his appearance faded gradually as he shortened sail also, until he disappeared altogether. He was then at rest, and suspended motionless in the water; and the only thing that indicated his proximity, was an occasional sparkle from the motion of a fin. We brought the boats nearer together, after pulling a stroke or two, but he seemed to sink as we closed, until at last we could merely perceive an indistinct halo far down in the clear black profound. But as we separated, and resumed our original position, he again rose near the surface; and although the ripple and dip of the oars rendered him invisible while we were pulling, yet the moment we again rested on them, there was the monster, like a persecuting fiend, once more right between us, glaring on us, and apparently watching every Motion. It was a terrible spectacle, and rendered still more striking by the melancholy occurrence of the forenoon.

“That’s the very identical, damnable baste himself, as murthered poor little Louis this morning, yeer honour; I knows him from the tom flesh of him under his larboard blinker, sir—just where Wiggens’s boathook punished him,” quoth the Irish captain of the mizentop. “A water-kelpie,” murmured another of the Captain’s gigs, a Scotchman.

The men were evidently alarmed. “Stretch out, men; never mind the shark. He can’t jump into, the boat surely,” said the skipper. “What the deuce are you afraid of?”

We arrived within pistol-shot of the ship. As we approached, the sentry hailed, “Boat, ahoy!”

“Firebrand,” sung out the skipper, in reply.

“Man the side-gangway lanterns there,” quoth the officer on duty; and by the time we were close to, there were two sidesmen over the side with the manropes ready stuck out to our grasp, and two boys with lanterns above them. We got on deck, the officers touching their hats, and speedily the Captain dived down the ladder, saying, as he descended, “Mr Yerk, I shall be happy to see you and your boat’s crew at supper, or rather to a late dinner, at eight o’clock; but come down a moment as you are. Tailtackle, bring the gigs into the cabin to get a glass of grog, will you?”

“Ay, ay, sir,” responded Timothy. “Down with you, you flaming thieves, and see you don’t snort and sniffle in your grog, as if you were in your own mess, like so many pigs slushing at the same trough.’

“Lord love you, Tim,” rejoined one of the topmen, “who made you master of the ceremonies, old Ironfist, eh? Where learnt you your breeding? Among the cockatoos up yonder?”

Tim laughed, who, although he ought to have been in his bed, had taken his seat in the Dragonfly when her crew were piped over the side in the evening, and thereby subjected himself to a rap over the knuckles from the Captain; but where the offence might be said to consist in a too assiduous discharge of his duty, it was easily forgiven, unfortunate as the issue of the race had been. So down we all trundled into the cabin, masters and men. It was brilliantly lighted up, the table sparkling with crystal and wine, and glancing with silver plate; and there on a sofa lay Aaron Bang in all his pristine beauty, and fresh from his toilet, for he had just got out of his cot after an eight-and-forty hours sojourn therein—nice white neck cloth white jean waistcoat and trowsers, and span—new blue coat He was reading when we entered; and the Captain, in his flame-coloured costume, was close aboard of him before he raised his eyes, and rather staggered him a bit; but when seven sea-green spirits followed, he was exceedingly nonplussed, and then came the six red Dragonflies, who ranged themselves three on each side of the door, with their net-bags in their hands, smoothing down their hair, and sidling and fidgeting about at finding themselves so far out of their element as the cabin.

“Mafame,” said the Captain, “a glass of grog apiece to the Dragonflies” and a tumbler of liquid amber (to borrow from my old friend Cooper) sparkled in the large bony claw of each of them. “Now, drink Mr Bang’s health.” They, as in duty bound, let fly at our amigo in a volley.

“Your health, Mr Bang.”

Aaron sprung from his seat, and made his salaam, and the Dragonflies bundled out of the cabin again.

“I say, Transom, John Canoeing still—always some frolic in the wind.”

We, the Water Sprites, had shifted and rigged, and were all mustered aft on the poop, enjoying the little air there was, as it fanned gently, and waiting for the announcement of supper. It was a pitch-dark night, neither moon nor stars. The murky clouds seemed to have settled down on the mastheads, shrouding every object in the thickest gloom.

“Ready with the gun forward there, Mr Catwell?” said Yerk.

“All ready, sir.”


Pent up as we were in a narrow channel, walled in on each side with towering precipitous rocks, the explosion, multiplied by the echoes into a whole broadside, was tremendous, and absolutely deafening.

The cold, grey, threatening rocks, and the large overhanging twisted branches of the trees, and the clear black water, and the white Moro in the distance, glanced for an instant, and then all was again veiled in utter darkness, and down came a rattling shower of sand and stones from the cliffs, and of rotten branches, and heavy dew from the trees, sparkling in the water like a shower of diamonds; and the birds of the air screamed, and, frightened from their nests and perches in crevices, and on the boughs of the trees, took flight with a strong rushing noise, that put one in mind of the rising of the fallen angels from the infernal council in Paradise Lost; and the cattle on the mountain-side lowed, and the fish, large and small, like darts and arrows of fire, sparkled up from the black abyss of waters, and swam in haloes of flame round the ship in every direction, as if they had been the ghosts of a shipwrecked crew, haunting the scene of their destruction; and the guanas and large lizards which had been shaken from the trees, skimmed and struggled on the surface in glances of fire, like evil spirits watching to seize them as their prey. At length the screaming and shrieking of the birds, and clang of their the cattle, ceased; and the startled fish oozy caverns at the bottom of the sea, disappeared; and all was again black and undistinguishable, the deathlike silence being only broken by the hoarse murmuring of the distant surf.

“Magnificent!” burst from the Captain. “Messenger, send Mr Portfire here.” The gunpowder functionary, he of the flannel cartridge, appeared. “Gunner, send one of your mates into the maintop, and let him bum a blue light.”

The lurid glare blazed up balefully amongst the spars and rigging, lighting up the decks, and blasting the crew into the likeness of the host of Sennacherib, when the day broke on them, and they were all dead corpses. A—stem of us, indistinct from the distance, the white Moro Castle reappeared, and rose frowning, tier above tier, like a Tower of Babel, with its summit veiled in the clouds, and the startled sea-fowl wheeling above the higher batteries, like snowflakes blown about in storm; while, near at hand, the rocks on each side of us looked as if fresh splintered asunder, with the sulphurous flames which had split them still burning; the trees looked no longer green, but were sicklied o’er with a pale ashy colour, as if sheeted ghosts were holding their midnight orgies amongst their branches-cranes, and waterfowl, and birds of many kinds, and all the insect and reptile tribes, their gaudy noontide colours merged into one and the same fearful deathlike sameness, flitted and sailed and circled above us, and chattered, and screamed, and shrieked; and the unearthly-looking guanas, and numberless creeping things, ran out on the boughs to peer at us, and a large snake twined itself up a scathed stump that shot out from a shattered pinnacle of rock that overhung us, with its glossy skin, glancing like the brazen serpent set up by Moses in the camp of the Israelites; and the cattle on the beetling summit of the cliff craned over the precipitous ledge to look down upon us; and while every thing around us and above us was thus glancing in the blue and ghastly radiance, the band struck up a low moaning air; the light burnt out, and once more we were cast, by the contrast, into even more palpable darkness than before. I was entranced, and stood with folded arms, looking forth into the night, and musing intensely on the appalling scene which had just vanished like a feverish dream—“Dinner waits, sir,” quoth Mafame.

“Oh! I am coming;” and kicking all my romance to Old Nick, I descended, and we had a pleasant night of it, and some wine and some fun, and there an end—but I have often dreamed of that dark pool, and the scenes I witnessed there that day and night.

CHAPTER XIII.—The Pirate’s Leman

     “When lovely woman stoops to folly,
     And finds too late that men betray,
     What charm can soothe her melancholy,
     What art can wash her guilt away?”
     “The only art her guilt can cover,
     To hide her shame from every eye,
     To give repentance to her lover,
     And wring his bosom, is to die.”
     —Oliver Goldsmith, “Song” From The Vicar Of Wakefield.
     “Ay Dios, si sera possible que he ya hallado lugar que pueda
     servir de escondida sepultura a la carga pesada deste
     cuerpo, que tan contra mi voluntad sostengo?”
     —Don Quixote De La Mancha.

The next morning after breakfast I proceeded to Santiago, and landed at the custom house wharf, where I found everything bustle, dust, and heat; several of the captains of the English vessels were there, who immediately made up to me, and reported how far advanced in their lading they were, and enquired when we were to give them convoy, the latest news from Kingston, &c. At length I saw our friend Ricardo Campana going along one of the neighbouring streets, and I immediately made sail in chase. He at once recognised me, gave me a cordial shake of the hand, and enquired how he could serve me. I produced two letters which I had brought for him, but which had been forgotten in the bustle of the preceding day; they were introductory, and although sealed, I had some reason to conjecture that my friend, Mr Pepperpot Wagtail, had done me much more than justice. Campana, with great kindness, immediately invited me to his house. “We foreigners,” said he, “don’t keep your hours; I am just going home to breakfast.” It was past eleven in the forenoon. I was about excusing myself on the plea of having already breakfasted, when he silenced me. “Why, I guessed as much, Mr Lieutenant, but then you have not lunched; you can call it lunch, you know, if it will ease your conscience.” There was no saying nay to all this civility, so we stumped along the burning streets, through a mile of houses, large massive buildings, but very different in externals from the gay domiciles of Kingston. Aaron Bang afterwards used to say that they looked more like prisons than dwelling-houses, and he was not in this very much out. Most of them were built of brick and plastered over, with large windows, in front of each of which, like the houses in the south of Spain, there was erected a large heavy wooden balcony, projecting far enough from the wall to allow a Spanish chair, such as I have already described, to be placed in it. The front of these verandas was closed in with a row of heavy balustrades at the bottom, of a variety of shapes, and by clumsy carved woodwork above, which effectually prevented you from seeing into the interior. The whole had a Moorish air, and in the upper part of the town there was a Sabbath— like stillness prevailing, which was only broken now and then by the tinkle of a guitar from one of the aforesaid verandas, or by the rattling of a crazy volante, a sort of covered gig, drawn by a broken kneed and broken winded mule, with a kiln dried old Spaniard or dona in it.

The lower part of the town had been busy enough, and the stir and hum of it rendered the quietude of the upper part of it more striking.

A shovel hatted friar now suddenly accosted us.

“Senor Campana—ese pobre familia de Cangrejo! Lastima! Lastima!” “Cangrejo—Cangrejo!” muttered I; “why, it is the very name attached to the miniature.”

Campana turned to the priest, and they conversed earnestly together for some moments, when he left him, and we again held on our way. I could not help asking him what family that was, whose situation the “padre” seemed so feelingly to bemoan.

“Never mind,” said he, “never mind; they were a proud family once, but that is all over now—come along.”

“But,” said I, “I have a very peculiar cause of interest with regard to this family. You are aware, of course, of the trial and execution of the pirates in Kingston, the most conspicuous of whom was a young man called Federico Cangrejo, from whom....”

“Mr Cringle,” said he, solemnly, “at a fitting time I will hear you regarding that matter; at present I entreat you will not press it.”

Good manners would not allow me to push it farther, and we trudged along together, until we arrived at Don Ricardo Campana’s door. It was a large brick building, plastered over as already described, and whitewashed. There was a projecting stair in front, with a flight of steps to the right and left, with a parapet wall towards the street. There were two large windows, with the wooden veranda or lattice already described, on the first floor, and on the second a range of smaller windows, of the same kind. What answered to our ground floor was used as a warehouse, and filled with dry goods, sugar, coffee, hides, and a vast variety of miscellaneous articles. We ascended the stairs, and entered a lofty room, cool and dark, and paved with large diamond— shaped bricks, and every way desirable for a West India lounge, all to the furniture, which was meagre enough; three or four chairs, a worm— eaten old leathern sofa, and a large clumsy hardwood table in the midst.

There were several children playing about, little sallow devils, although, I dare say, they could all of them have been furnished with certificates of white parentage, upon whom one or two negro women were hovering in attendance beyond a large folding door that fronted the entrance.

When we entered, the eldest of the children, a little girl of about eight years old, was sitting in the doorway, playing with a small blue toy that I could make nothing of, until on a nearer inspection I found it to be a live land-crab, which the little lady had manacled with a thread by the foot, the thread being fastened to a nail driven into a seam of the floor.

As an article of food, I was already familiar with this creature, but I had never seen a living one before; it was in every respect like a sea crab, only smaller, the body being at the widest not above three inches across the back. It fed without any apparent fear, and while it pattered over the tiled floor, with its hard claws, it would now and then stop and seize a crum of bread in its forceps, and feed itself like a little monkey. By the time I had exchanged a few words with the little lady, the large door that opened into the hall on the right hand moved, and mine hostess made her appearance; a small woman, dressed in a black gown, very laxly fitted. She was the very converse of our old ship, she never missed stays, although I did cruelly.

“This is my friend, Lieutenant Cringle,” said mine host.

“A las pies de usted, senora,” responded your humble servant.

“I am very glad to see you,” said the lady; “but breakfast is ready; welcome, sir, welcome.”

The food was not amiss, the coffee decidedly good, and the chocolate, wherein, if you had planted a teaspoon, it would have stood upright, was excellent. When we had done with substantials, dulce, that is the fruit of the guava preserved, in small wooden boxes, (like drums of figs,) after being made into a kind of jam, was placed on the table, and mine host and his spouse had eaten a bushel of it apiece, and drank a gallon of that most heathenish beverage, cold clear water, before the repast was considered ended. After a hearty meal and a pint of claret, I felt rather inclined to sit still, and expatiate for an hour or so, but Campana roused me, and asked whether or not I felt inclined to go and look at the town. I had no apology, and although I would much rather have sat still, I rose to accompany him, when in walked Captain Transom and Mr Bang. They were also kindly received by Don Ricardo.

“Clad of the honour of this visit,” said he in French, with a slight lift of the corner of his mouth; “I hope neither you nor your boat’s crew took any harm after the heat of yesterday.”

Transom laughed.

“Why, you did beat us very neatly, Don Ricardo. Pray, where got you that canoe? But a lady Mrs Campana, I presume?—Have the goodness to introduce me.”

The skipper was presented in due form, the lady receiving him without the least mauvaise honte, which, after all, I believe to be indigenous to our island. Aaron was next introduced, who, as he spoke no lingo, as I knows of, to borrow Timotheus Tailtackle’s phraseology but English, was rather posed in the interview.

“I say, Tom, tell her I wish she may live a thousand years. Ah, so, that will do.”

Madama made her conge, and hoped “El Senora Maria un asiento.” “Mucho, mucho,” sung out Bang, who meant by that that he was much obliged.

At length Don Ricardo came to our aid. He had arranged a party into the country for next morning, and invited us all to come back to a tertulia in the evening, and to take beds in his house, he undertaking to provide bestias to carry us.

We therefore strolled out, a good deal puzzled what to make of ourselves until the evening, when we fell in with one of the captains of the English ships then loading, who told us that there was a sort of hotel a little way down the street, where we might dine at two o’clock at the table d’hote. It was as yet only twelve, so we stumbled into this hotel to reconnoitre, and a sorry affair it was. The public room was fitted with rough wooden tables, at which Spaniards, Americans, and Englishmen, sat and smoked, and drank sangaree, hot punch, or cold grog, as best suited them, and committed a vast variety of miscellaneous abominations during their potations. We were about giving up all thoughts of the place, and had turned to go to the door, when in popped our friend Don Ricardo. He saw we were somewhat abroad.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “if I may ask, have you any engagement to dinner?”

“No, we have none.”

“Well, then, will you do me the honour of partaking of my family fare, at three o’clock? I did not venture to invite you before, because I knew you had other letters to deliver, and I wished to leave you masters of your own time.” We gladly accepted his kind offer; he had made his bow, and was cruising amongst the smokers, and punch drinkers, where the blue coated masters of the English merchantmen and American skippers, were hobbing and nobbing with the gingham-coated Dons, for the whole Spanish part of the community were figged out in Glasgow and Paisley ginghams; when the priest, who had attracted our attention in the morning, came up to him, and drew him aside. They talked earnestly together, the clerigo, every now and then, indicating by significant nods and glances towards us, that we formed the burden of his song, whatever that might be. Campana seemed exceedingly unwilling to communicate the message, which we guessed he had been entreated to carry to us, and made one or two attempts to shove the friar in propria persona towards us, that he might himself tell his own story. At length they advanced together to where we stood, when he addressed me.

“You must pardon me, Lieutenant; but as the proverb hath it, strange countries, strange manners; my friend here, Padre Carera, brings a message from El Senor Picador Cangrejo, one of our magnates, that he will consider it an especial favour if you will can on him, either this forenoon or tomorrow.”

“Why, who is this Cangrejo, Don Ricardo? if he be not the father of the poor fellow I mentioned, there must be some mystery about him.”

“No mystery,” chimed in the monk; “no mystery, God help us, but mucha, mucha miseria, hijo mio; much misery, sir, and more impending, and none to help save only”—He did not finish the sentence, but taking off his shovel hat, and shewing his finely turned bald head, he looked up to heaven, and crossed himself, the tears trickling down his wrinkled cheeks. “But,” continued he, “you will come, Mr Cringle?”

“Certainly,” said I, “tomorrow I will call, if my friend Don Ricardo will be my guide.” This being fixed, we strolled about until dinnertime, friend Aaron making his remarks regarding the people and their domiciles with great naivety.

“Strange now, Tom, I had expected to see little else amongst the slave population here than misery and starvation; whereas, so far as I can observe, they are all deucedly well cared for, and fat, and contented; and from the enquiries I was making amongst the captains of the merchantmen”—(“Masters,” interjected Captain Transom, “Master of a merchantman, Captain of a man-of-war.”) “Well, captains of merchantmen,—masters, I mean,—I find that the people whom they employ are generally free; and, farther, that the slaves are not more than three to one free person, yet they export a great deal of produce, Captain Transom—must keep my eyes about me.” And so he did, as will be seen by and by. But the dinner hour drew near, and we repaired to Don Ricardo’s, where we found a party of eight assembled, and our appearance was the signal for the repast being ordered in. It was laid out in the entrance hall. The table was of massive mahogany, the chairs of the same material, with stuffed bottoms, covered with a dingy-coloured morocco, which might have been red once. But devil a dish of any kind was on the snow-white table-cloth when we sat down, and our situations, or the places we were expected to fill at the board, were only indicated by a large knife and silver fork and spoon laid down for each person. The company consisted of Don Ricardo Campana, la Senora Campana, and a brother of hers, two dark young men, who were Don Ricardo’s clerks, and three young women, ladies, or senoras, as I ought to have called them, who were sitting so far back into the shade, at the dark end of the room, when we entered, that I could not tell what they were. Our hostess was, although a little woman, a good looking dark Spaniard, not very polished, but very kind; and seeing that our friend Aaron was the most helpless amongst us, she took him under her especial care, and made many a civil speech to him, although her husband did not fail to advertise her, that he understood not one word of Spanish, that is, of all she was saying to him. However, he replied to her kindnesses by his never-failing exclamation of “mucho, mucho,” and they appeared to be getting on extremely well. “Bring dinner,” quoth Don Ricardo, “trae la comida;” and four black female domestics entered, the first with a large dish of pillaffe, or fowls smothered in rice and onions; the second with a nondescript melange, flesh, fish, and fowl apparently, strongly flavoured with garlic; the third bore a dish of jerked beef, cut into long shreds, and swimming in seba or lard; and the fourth bore a large dish full of that indescribable thing known by those who read Don Quixote, as an olla podrida. The sable handmaidens began to circulate round the table, and every one helped himself to the dish that he most fancied. At length they placed them on the board, and brought massive silver salvers, with snow white bread, twisted into strands in the baking, like junks of a cable; and water jars, and yams nicely roasted and wrapped in plantain leaves. These were in like manner handed round, and then deposited on the table, and the domestics vanished.

We all got on cheerily enough, and both the Captain and myself were finishing off with the olla podrida, with which, it so happened, we were familiar, and friend Bang, taking the time from us, took heart of grace and straightway followed our example. There was a pause rather an irksome one from its continuance, so much so indeed, that knocking off from my more immediate business of gorging the aforesaid olla podrida, I looked up, and as it so happened, by accident towards our friend Bang and there he was munching and screwing up his energies to swallow a large mouthful of the mixture, against which his stomach appeared to rebel. “Smollet’s feast after the manner of the ancients,” whispered Transom. At length he made a vigorous effort and straightway sung out “l’eau de vie, Don Ricardibus—some brandy, mon ami—for the love of all the respectable saints in your heathenish calendar.”

Mine host laughed, but the females were most confoundedly posed. The younger ones ran for aromatic salts, while the lady of the house fetched some very peculiar distilled waters. She, in her kindness, filled a glass and helped Bang, but the instant he perceived the flavour, he thrust it away.

“Anniseed—damn anniseed—no, no—obliged—mucho, mucho but brandy plaino, that is simple of itself, if you please—that’s it Lord love you, my dear madam—may you live a thousand years though.”

The pure brandy was administered, and once more the dark beauties reappeared, the first carrying a bottle of vin-de-grave, the second one of vino tinto, or claret, and the third one of l’eau de vie, for Aaron’s peculiar use. These were placed before the landlord, who helped himself to half a pint of claret, which he poured into a large tumbler, and then putting a drop or two of water into it, tasted it, and sent it to his wife. In like manner, he gave a smaller quantity to each of the other Senoras, when the whole female part of the family drank our healths in a volley. But all this time the devil a thing drinkable was there before we males, but goblets of pure cold water. Bang’s “mucho mucho” even failed him, for he had only in his modesty got a thimbleful of brandy to qualify the olla podrida. However, in a twinkling a beautiful long-necked bottle of claret was planted at each of our right hands, and of course we lost no time in returning the unlooked-for civility of the ladies. Until this moment I had not got a proper glimpse of the three Virgins of the Sun, who were seated at table with us. They were very pretty Moorish-looking girls, as like as peas, dark hair, black eyes, clear colourless olive complexion, and no stays; but young and elastic as their figures were, this was no disadvantage. They were all three dressed in black silk petticoats, over a sort of cambric chemise, with large frills hanging down at the bosom, but gown, properly so called, they had none, their arms being unencumbered with any clothing heavier than a shoulder-strap. The eldest was a fine full young woman of about nineteen; the second was more tall and stately, but slighter; and the youngest, was—oh, she was an angel of light—such hair, such eyes, and such a mouth; then her neck and bosom when the wearer is, as in the present case she was, young and beautiful. They all wore a long plain white gauze strap, like a broad ribbon, (little Reefpoint afterwards said they wore boat pennants at their mastheads,) I don’t know what Madam Maradon Carson would call it, in their hair, which fell down from amongst the braids nearly to their heels, and then they replied in their magnificent language, when casually addressed during dinner, with so much naivete. We, the males of the party, had drank little or nothing, a bottle of claret or so apiece, and a dram of brandy, to qualify a little vin-de-grave that we had flirted with during dinner, when our landlord rose, along with his brother-in-law, wished us a good afternoon, and departed to his counting house, saying he would be back by dark, leaving the Captain and I, and friend Bang, to amuse the ladies the best way we could, as the clerks had taken wing along with their master. Don Ricardo’s departure seemed to be the signal for all hands breaking loose, and a regular romping match took place, the girls producing their guitars, and we were all mighty frolicsome and happy, when a couple of padres from the convent of La Merced, in their white flannel gowns, black girdles, and shaven crowns, suddenly entered the hall. We the foreign part of the society, calculated on being pulled up by the clerigos, but deuce a bit; on the contrary, the young females clustered round them, laughing and joking, while the Senora Campana presented them with goblets of claret, in which they drank our healths, once and again, and before long they were gamboling about, all shaven and shorn, like a couple of three-year olds. Bang had a large share of their assiduity, and to see him waltzing with a fine active, and what I fancy to be a rarity, a clean looking priest, with his ever recurring “mucho, mucho,” was rather entertaining.

The director of the postoffice, and a man who was called the “Corregidor de Tabaco,” literally the “corrector of tobacco,” dropped in about this time, and one or two ladies, relatives of Mrs Campana, and Don Ricardo returning soon after, we had sweet meats and liqueurs, and coffee, and chocolate, and a game at monte, and maco, and were, in fact, very happy. But the happiest day, as well as the most miserable, must have an end, and the merry party dropped off, one after another, until we were left all alone with our host’s family. Madama soon after took her departure, wishing us a goodnight. She had no sooner gone, than Bang began to shoot out his horns a bit. “I say, Tom, ask the Don to let us have a drop of something hot, will you, a tumbler of hot brandy and water after the waltzing, eh? I don’t see the bedroom candles yet.” Nor would he, if we had sat there till doomsday. Campana seemed to have understood Bang, the brandy was immediately forthcoming, and we drew in to the table to enjoy ourselves, Bang waxing talkative. “Now what odd names,— why, what a strange office it must be for his Majesty of Spain to employ at every port a corrector of tobacco; that his liege subjects may not be imposed on, I suppose—what capital cigars this same corrector must have, eh?”

I suppose it is scarcely necessary to mention, that throughout all the Spanish American possessions, tobacco is a royal monopoly, and that the officer above alluded to is the functionary who has the management of it. Don Ricardo, hearing something about cigars, took the hint, and immediately produced a straw case from his pocket, and handed it to Bang.

“Mucho, mucho,” quoth Bang; “capital, real Havannah.”

So now, since we had all gotten fairly into the clouds, there was no saying how long we should have remained in the seventh heaven much would have depended upon the continuance of the supply of brandy—but two female slaves presently made their appearance, each carrying a quatre. I believe I have already described this easily rigged couch somewhere; it is a hard-wood frame, like what supports the loose top of a laundry table, with canvass stretched over the top of it, but in such a manner that it can be folded up flat, and laid against the wall when not in use, while a bed can be immediately constructed by simply opening it and stretching the canvass. The handmaidens accordingly set to work to arrange two beds, or quatres, one on each side of the table where we were sitting, while Bang sat eyeing them askance, in a kind of wonderment as to the object of the preparations, which were by no means new either to the Captain or me, who, looking on them as matters of course, continued in close confabulation with Don Ricardo during the operations.

“I say, Tom,” at length quoth Bang, “are you to be laid out on one of those outlandish pieces of machinery—eh?”

“Why, I suppose so; and comfortable enough beds they are, I can assure you.”

“Don’t fancy them much, however,” said Bang; “rather flimsy the framework.”

The servants now very unceremoniously, no leave asked, began to clear away all the glasses and tumblers on the table.

“Hillo!” said the skipper, casting an enquiring glance at Campana, who, however, did not return it, but, as a matter of course apparently, rose, and taking a chair to the other end of the room, close by the door of an apartment which opened from it, began in cold blood to unlace and disburden himself of all his apparel, even unto his shirt.

This surprised us all a good deal, but our wonderment was lost on the Don, who got up from his seat, and in his linen garment, which was deucedly laconic, made his formal bow, wished us goodnight, and presenting the reverse of his medal, which was extremely picturesque, he vanished through the door. By this, the ebony ladies had cleared the table of the crystal, and had capped it with a yellow leather mattrass, with pillows of the same, both embossed with large tufts of red silk; on this they placed one sheet, and leaving a silver apparatus at the head, they disappeared—“Buenos noches, senores—las camas estan listas.”

Bang had been unable to speak from excess of astonishment; but the skipper and I, finding there was no help for it, had followed Campana’s example, and kept pace with him in our peeling, so that by the time he disappeared, we were ready to topple into our quatres, which we accordingly did, and by this time we were both at full length, with our heads cased each in one of Don Ricardo’s silk nightcaps, contemplating Bang’s appearance, as he sat in disconsolate mood in his chair at the head of the table, with the fag-end of a cigar in the corner of his cheek.

“Now, Bang,” said Transom, “turn in, and let us have a snooze, will ye?”

Bang did not seem to like it much.

“Zounds, Transom, did you ever hear of a gentleman being put to bed on a table? Why, it must be a quiz. Only fancy me dished out and served up like a great calipi in the shell! However, here goes—But surely this is in sorry taste; we had our chocolate a couple of hours ago—capital it was by the by—in vulgar Staffordshire china, and now they give us silver....”

“Be decent, Bang,” cut in the skipper, who was by this time more than half asleep. “Be decent, and go to bed—that’s a good fellow.”

“Ah, well” Aaron undressed himself, and lay down; and there he was laid out, with a candle on each side of his head, his red face surmounted by a redder handkerchief tied round his head, sticking out above the white sheet; and supported by Captain Transom and myself, one on each side. All was now quiet. I got up and put out the candles, and as I fell asleep, I could hear Aaron laughing to himself “Dished, and served up, deuced like Saint Barts. I was intended for a doctor, Tom, you must know. I hope the Don is not a medical amateur; I trust he won’t have a touch at me before morning. Rum subject I should make. Possibly he may want to practice cutting for the stone—he! he!” All was silent for some time.

“Hillo—what is that?” said Aaron again, as if suddenly aroused from his slumbers—“I say, none of your fun, Transom.”

A large bat was flaffing about, and I could hear him occasionally whir near our faces.

“Oh, a bat—hate bats—how the skipper snores! I hope there be no resurrection-men in St Jago, or I shall be stolen away to a certainty before morning. How should I look as a skeleton in a glass-case, eh?”

I heard no more, until, it might be, about midnight, when I was awakened, and frightened out of my wits, by Bang rolling off the table on to my quatre, which he broke in his fall, and then we both rolled over and over on the floor.

“Murder!” roared Bang. “I am bewitched and bedevilled. Murder! a scorpion has dropped from the roof into my mouth, and stung me on the nose. Murder! Tom—Tom Cringle—Captain—Transom, my dear fellows, awake and send for the doctor. Oh my wig—oh dear oh dear.”

At this uproar I could hear Don Ricardo striking a light, and presently he appeared with a candle in his hand, more than half naked, with la senora peering through the half-opened door behind him.

“Ave Maria purissima—what is the matter? Where is el Senior Bang?”

“Mucho, mucho,” shouted Bang from below the table. “Send for a doctoribus, Senor Richarsum. I am dead and t’other thing help!—help!”

“Dios guardo usted,” again ejaculated Campana. “What has befallen him?” addressing the skipper, who was by this time on his head’s antipodes in bed, rubbing his eyes, and in great amazement.

“Tell him, my dear Transom, that a scorpion fell from the roof, and stung me on the nose.”

“What says he?” enquired the Spaniard.

Poor Transom’s intellect was at this time none of the clearest, being more than half asleep, and not quite so sober as a hermit is wont to be; besides, he must needs speak Spanish, of which he was by no means master, which led to a very comical blunder. Alacran, in Spanish, means scorpion, and Cayman, an alligator, not very similar in sound certainly, but the termination being the same, he selected in the hurry the wrong phrase.

“He says,” replied Transom in bad Spanish, “that he has swallowed an alligator, or something of that sort, sir.” Then a loud yawn.

“Swallowed a what?” rejoined Campana, greatly astonished.

“No, no,” snorted the captain—“I am wrong—he says he has been stung by an alligator.”

“Stung by an alligator!—impossible.”

“Why, then,” persisted the skipper, “if he be not stung by an alligator, or if he has not really swallowed one, at all events an alligator has either stung or swallowed him—so make the most of it, Don Ricardo.”

“Why this is absurd, with all submission,” continued Campana; “how the deuce could he swallow an alligator, or an alligator get into my house to annoy him?”

“D—n it,” said Transom, half tipsy and very sleepy, “that’s his look out. You are very unreasonable, Don Ricardo; all that is the affair of friend Bang and the alligator; my purpose is solely to convey his meaning faithfully”—a loud snore.

“Oh,” said Campana, laughing, “I see, I see; I left your friend sobre mesa, [on the table,] but now I see he is sub rosa.”

“Help, good people, help!” roared Bang—“help, or my nose will reach from this to the Moro Castle—Help!”

We got him out, and were I to live a thousand years, which would be a tolerably good spell, I don’t think I could forget his appearance. His nose, usually the smallest article of the kind that I ever saw, was now swollen as large as my fist, and as purple as a mulberry—the distension of the skin, from the venomous sting of the reptile—for stung he had been by a scorpion—made it semi—transparent, so that it looked like a large blob of currant jelly hung on a peg in the middle of his face, or a gigantic leech, gorged with blood, giving his visage the semblance of some grotesque old-fashioned dial, with a fantastic gnomon.

“A poultice—a poultice—a poultice, good people, or I shall presently be all nose together,”—and a poultice was promptly manufactured from mashed pumpkin, and he was put to bed, with his face covered up with it, as if an Italian artist had been taking a cast of his beauties in plaster of Paris.

In the application of this said poultice, however, we had nearly extinguished poor Aaron amongst us, by suffocating him outright; for the skipper, who was the operating surgeon in the first instance, with me for his mate, clapped a whole ladleful over his mouth and nose, which, besides being scalding hot, sealed those orifices effectually, and indeed about a couple of tablespoonfuls had actually been forced down his gullet, notwithstanding his struggles, and exclamations of “Pumpkin bad—softened with castor oil—d——n it, skipper, you’ll choke me” spurt—sputter—sputter—“choke me, man.”

“Cuidado,” said Don Ricardo; “let me manage”—and he got a small tube of wild cane, which he stuck into Bang’s mouth, through a hole in the poultice-cloth, and set a negro servant to watch that it did not sink into his gullet, as he fell asleep, and with instructions to take the poultice off whenever the pain abated; and there he lay on his back, whistling through this artificial beak, like a sick snipe.

At length, however, all hands of us seemed to have fallen asleep, but towards the dawning I was awakened by repeated bursts of suppressed laughter, and upon looking in the direction from whence the sounds proceeded, I was surprised beyond all measure to observe Transom in a corner of the room in his trowsers and shirt, squatted like a tailor on his hams, with one of the sable damsels on her knees beside him holding a candle, while his Majesty’s Post Captain was plying his needle in a style and with a dexterity that would have charmed our friend Stultze exceedingly, and every now and then bending double over his work, and swinging his body backwards and forwards with the water welling from his eyes, laughing all the while like to choke himself. As for his bronze candlestick, I thought she would have expired on the spot, with her white teeth glancing like ivory, and the tears running down her cheeks, as she every now and then clapped a handkerchief on her mouth to smother the uncontrollable uproariousness of her mirth.

“Why, captain, what spree is this?” said I.

“Never you mind, but come here. I say, Mr Cringle, do you see him piping away there”—and there he was, sure enough, still gurgling through the wild cane—with his black guardian, whose province it was to have removed the poultice, sound asleep, snoring in the huge chair at Bang’s head, wherein he had established himself, while the candle at his patient’s cheek was flickering in the socket.

My superior was evidently bent on wickedness.

“Get up and put on your trowsers, man.”

I did so.

“Now wait a bit till I cooper him—Here, my darling”—to the sable virgin who was now on the qui vive, bustling about—“here,” said the captain, sticking out a leg of Bang’s trowsers, “hold you there, my dear.”

She happened to be a native of Haiti, and comprehended his French.

“Now hold you that, Mr Cringle.”

I took hold of the other leg, and held it in a fitting position, while Transom deliberately sewed them both up.

“Now for the coat sleeves”

We sealed them in a similar manner.

“So—now for his shirt.”

We sewed up the stem, and then the stern, converting it into an outlandish-looking pillow-case, and finally both sleeves; and last of all, we got two live land-crabs from the servants, by dint of persuasion and a little plata, and clapped one into each stocking foot.

We then dressed ourselves, and when all was ready, we got a piece of tape for a landyard, and made one end fast to the handle of a large earthen water-jar, full to the brim, which we placed on Bangs pillow, and passed the other end round the neck of the sleeping negro.

“Now get you to bed,” said the captain to the dingy handmaiden, “and stand by to be off, Mr Cringle.”

He stepped to Don Ricardo’s bedroom door, and tapped loudly.

“Hillo!” quoth the Don. On this hint, like men springing a mine, the last who leave the sap, we sprang into the street, when the skipper turned, and taking aim with a large custard apple which he had armed himself with (I have formerly described this fruit as resembling a russet bag of cold pudding), he let fly. Spin flew the apple—bash on the blackamoor’s obtuse snout. He started back, and in his terror and astonishment threw a somersault over the back of his chair—gush poured the water—smash fell the pipkin—“murder” roared Bang, dashing off the poultice—cast, with such fury that it lighted in the street—and away we raced at the top of our speed.

We ran as fast as our legs could carry us for two hundred yards, and then turning, walked deliberately home again, as if we had been out taking a walk in the cool morning air.

As we approached, we heard the yells of a negro, and Bang high in oath.

“You black rascal, nothing must serve your turn but practising your John Canoe tricks upon a gentleman—take that, you villain, as a small recompense for floating me out of my bed—or rather off the table,” and the ludicrousness of his couch seemed to come over the worthy fellow once more, and he laughed loud and long—“Poor devil, I hope I have not hurt you? here, Quashi, there’s a pistole, go buy a plaster for your broken pate.”

By this we had returned in front of the house, and as we ascended the front stairs, we again heard a loud racketing within; but blackie’s voice was now wanting in the row, wherein the Spaniard and our friend appeared to be the dramatis personae—and sure enough there was Don Ricardo and Bang at it, tooth and nail.

“Allow me to assist you,” quoth the Don.

“Oh no—mucho—mucho,” quoth Bang, who was spinning round and round in his shirt on one leg, trying to thrust his foot into his trowsers; but the garment was impervious; and after emulating Noblet in a pirouette, he sat down in despair. We appeared—“Ah, Transom, glad to see you some evil spirit has bewitched me, I believe—overnight I was stung to death by a scorpion—half an hour ago I was deluged by an invisible spirit—and just now when I got up, and began to pull on my stockings, Lord! a land crab was in the toe part, and see how he has scarified me” forking up his peg—“I then tried my trowsers,” he continued in a most doleful tone—“and lo! the legs are sealed. And look at my face, saw you ever such an unfortunate? But the devil take you, Transom, I see through your tricks now, and will pay you off for this yet, take my word for it.”

The truth is, that our amigo Aaron had gotten an awful fright on his first awakening after his cold bath, for he had given the poor black fellow an ugly blow upon the face, before he had gathered his senses well about him, and the next moment seeing the blood streaming from his nose, and mixing with the custard-like pulp of the fruit with which his face was plastered, he took it into his noodle that he had knocked the man’s brains out. However, we righted the worthy fellow the best way we could, and shortly afterwards coffee, was brought, and Bang having got himself shaven and dressed began to forget all his botherations. But before we left the house, madama, Don Ricardo’s better-half, insisted on anointing his nose with some mixture famous for reptile-bites. His natural good-breeding made him submit to the application, which was neither more nor less than an infusion of indigo and ginger, with which the worthy lady painted our friend’s face and muzzle in a most ludicrous manner—it was heads and tails between him and an ancient Briton. Reefpoint at this moment appeared at the door with a letter from the merchant captains, which had been sent down to the corvette, regarding the time of sailing, and acquainting us when they would be ready. While Captain Transom was perusing it, Bang was practising Spanish at the expense of Don Ricardo, whom he had boxed into a corner; but all his Spanish seemed to be scraps of schoolboy Latin, and I noticed that Campana had the greatest difficulty in keeping his countenance. At length Don Ricardo approached us—“Gentlemen, I have laid out a little plan for the dav; it is my wife’s saint’s day, and a holyday in the family, so we propose going to a coffee property of mine about ten miles from Santiago, and staying till morning—What say you?”

I chimed in—“I fear, sir, that I shall be unable to accompany you, even if Captain Transom should be good enough to give me leave, as I have an errand to do for that unhappy young fellow that we spoke about last evening—some trinkets which I promised to deliver here they are”—and I produced the miniature and crucifix.

Campana winced—“Unpleasant, certainly, Lieutenant”—said he.

“I know it will be so myself, but I have promised”

“Then far be it from me to induce you to break your promise,” said the worthy man. “My son,” said he, gravely, “the friar you saw yesterday is confessor to Don Picador Cangrejo’s family; his reason for asking to obtain an interview with you was from its being known that you were active in capturing the unfortunate men with whom young Federico Cangrejo, his only son, was leagued. Oh that poor, poor boy! Had you known him, gentlemen, as I knew him, poor, poor Federico!”

“He was an awful villain, however, you must allow,” said the Captain.

“Granted in the fullest sense, my dear sir,” rejoined Campana; “but we are all frail, erring creatures, and he was hardly dealt by. He is now gone to his heavy, heavy account, and I may as well tell you the poor boy’s sad story at once. Had you but seen him in his prattling infancy, in his sunny boyhood!”

“He was the only son of a rich old father, an honest worldly man, and of a most peevish, irascible temper. Poor Federico, and his sister Francisca, his only sister, were often cruelly used; and his orphan cousin, my sweet god-daughter, Maria Olivera, their playmate, was, if any thing, more harshly treated; for although his mother was and is a most excellent woman, and always stood between them and the old man’s ill temper, yet at the time I speak of she had returned to Spain, where a long period of ill health detained her for upwards of three years. Federico by this time was nineteen years of age, tall, handsome, and accomplished beyond all the youth of his rank and time of life in Cuba: But you have seen him, gentlemen—in his extremity; it is true—yet, fallen as he was, I mistake if you thought him a common man or good, or for evil, my heart told me he would be conspicuous, and I was, alas the day! too true a prophet. His attachment to his cousin, who, on the death of her mother, had become an inmate of Don Picador’s house, had been evident to all but the purblind old man for a long time; and when he did discover it, he imperatively forbade all intercourse between them, as, forsooth, he had projected a richer match for him, and shut Maria up in a corner of his large mansion, Federico, haughty and proud, could not stomach this. He ceased to reside at his father’s estate, which had been confided to his management, and began to frequent the billiard table, and monte-tables, and taverns, and in a thousand ways gave, from less to more, such unendurable offence, that his father at length shut his door against him, and turned him, with twenty doubloons in his pocket, into the street.”

“Friends interceded, for the feud soon became public, and, amongst others, I essayed to heal it; and with the fond, although passionate father, I easily succeeded; but how true it is, ‘that evil communication corrupts good manners!’ I found Federico, by this time, linked in bands of steel with a junto of desperadoes, whose calling was any thing but equivocal; and implacable to a degree, that, knowing him as I had known him, I had believed impossible. But, alas, the human heart is indeed desperately wicked. I struggled long with the excellent Father Carera to bring about a reconciliation, and thought we had succeeded, as Federico was induced to return to his father’s house once more, and for many days and weeks we all flattered ourselves that he had reformed; until one morning, about four months ago, he was discovered coming out of his cousin’s room about the dawning by his father, who immediately charged him with seducing his ward. High words ensued. Poor Maria rushed out and threw herself at her uncle’s feet. The old man, in a transport of fury, kicked her on the face as she lay prostrate; whereupon, God help me, he was felled to the earth by his own flesh, and bone, and blood—by his abandoned son.”

     ‘What rein can hold licentious wickedness,
     When down the hill he holds his fierce career?’ 

“The rest is soon told;—he joined the pirate vessels at Puerto Escondido, and, from his daring and reckless intrepidity, soon rose to command amongst them, and was proceeding in his infernal career, when the God whom he had so fearfully defied at length sent him to expiate his crimes on the scaffold.”

“But the priest”—said I, much excited.

“True,” continued Don Ricardo, “Padre Carera brought a joint message from his poor mother, and sister, and—and, oh my darling god-child, my heart—dear Maria!”. And the kind old man wept bitterly. I was much moved.

“Why, Mr Cringle,” said Transom, “if you have promised to deliver the trinkets in propria persona, there’s an end, take leave—nothing doing down yonder—send Tailtackle for clothes. Mr Reefpoint, go to the boat and send up Tailtackle; so go you must to these unfortunates, and we shall then start on our cruise to the Coffee Estate with our worthy host.”

“Why,” said Campana; “the family are in the country; they live about four miles from Santiago, on the very road to my property, and we shall call on our way; but I don’t much admire these interviews there will be a scene, I fear.”

“Not on my part,” said I; “but call I must, for I solemnly promised,” and presented the miniature to Don Ricardo.

Campana looked at it. It was exquisitely finished, and represented a most beautiful girl, a dark, large-eyed, sparkling, Spanish beauty. “Oh, my dear, dear child,” murmured Don Ricardo, “how like this was to what you were; how changed you are now from what it is—alas! alas! But come, gentlemen, my wife is ready, and my two nieces,” the pretty girls who were of our party the previous evening—“and here are the horses.”

At this moment the little midshipman, Master Reefpoint, a great favourite of mine, by the by, reappeared, with Tailtackle behind him, carrying my bundle. I was regularly caught, as the clothes, on the chance of a lark, had been brought from the ship, although stowed out of sight under the stern-sheets of the boat.

“Here are your clothes, Mr Cringle,” quoth middy.

“Devil confound your civility,” internally murmured I.

The captain twigged, and smiled. Upon which little Reefy stole up to me “Lord, Mr Cringle, could you but get me leave to go, it would be such a....”

“Hold your tongue, boy, how can I....”

Transom struck in—“Master Reefpoint, I see what you are driving at; but how shall the Firebrand be taken care of when you are away, eh? besides, you have no clothes, and we shall be away a couple of days most probably.”

“Oh, yes, sir, I have clothes; I have a hair-brush and a tooth-brush, and two shirt collars, in my waistcoat pocket.”

“Very well, can we venture to lumber our kind friends with this giant, Mr Cringle, and can we really leave the ship without him?” Little Reefy was now all alive. “Tailtackle, go on board—say we shall be back to dinner the day after tomorrow,” said the Captain.

We now made ready for the start, and certainly the cavalcade was rather a remarkable one. First, there was an old lumbering family volante, a sort of gig, with four posts or uprights supporting a canopy covered with leather, and with a high dash-iron or splashboard in front. There were curtains depending from this canopy, which on occasion could be let down, so as to cover in the sides and front. The whole was of the most clumsy workmanship that can be imagined, and hung by untanned leather straps in a square wooden frame, from the front of which again protruded two shafts, straight as Corinthian pillars, and equally substantial, embracing an uncommonly fine mule, one of the largest and handsomest of the species which I had seen. The harnessing partook of the same kind of unwieldy strength and solidity, and was richly embossed with silver and dirt. Astride on this mulo sat a household negro, with a huge thong of bullock’s hide in one hand, and the reins in the other. In this voiture were ensconced La Senora Campana, a portly concern, as already mentioned, two of her bright black-eyed laughing nieces, and Master Reefpoint, invisible as he lay smothered amongst the ladies, all to his little glazed cocked hat, and jabbering away in a most unintelligible fashion, so far as the young ladies, and eke the old one, were concerned. However, they appeared all mightily tickled by little Reefy, either mentally or physically, for off they trundled, laughing and skirting loud above the noise and creaking of the volante. Then came three small, ambling, stoutish long-tailed ponies, the biggest not above fourteen hands high; these were the barbs intended for mine host, the skipper, and myself, caparisoned with high demipique old-fashioned Spanish saddles, mounted with silver stirrups, and clumsy bridles, with a ton of rusty iron in each poor brute’s mouth for a bit, and curbs like a piece of our chain cable, all very rich, and, as before mentioned with regard to the volante, far from clean. Their pace was a fast run, a compound of walk, trot, and canter, or rather of a trot and a canter, the latter broken down and frittered away through the instrumentality of a ferocious Mameluke bit, but as easy as an armchair; and this was, I speak it feelingly, a great convenience, as a sailor is not a Centaur, not altogether of a piece with his horse, as it were; yet both Captain Transom and myself were rather goodish horsemen for nauticals, although rather apt to go over the bows upon broaching-to suddenly. Don Ricardo’s costume would have been thought a little out of the way in Leicestershire; most people put on their boots when they do a riding go, but he chose to mount in shoes and white cotton stockings, and white jean small-clothes, with a flowing yellow-striped gingham coat, the skirts of which fluttered in the breeze behind him, his withered face shaded by a huge Panama hat, and—with enormous silver spurs on his heels, the rowels two inches in diameter.

Away lumbered the volante, and away we pranced after it. For the first two miles the scenery was tame enough; but after that, the gently swelling eminences on each side of the road rose abruptly into rugged mountains; and the dell between them, which had hitherto been verdant with waving guinea grass, became covered with large trees, under the dark shade of which we lost sight of the sun, and the contrast made every thing around us for a time almost undistinguishable. The forest continued to overshadow the high-road for two miles further, only broken by a small cleared patch now and then, where the sharp-spiked limestone rocks shot up like minarets, and the fire scathed stumps of the felled trees stood out amongst the rotten earth in the crevices, from which, however, sprang yams and cocoas, and peas of all kinds, and granadillos, and a profusion of herbs and roots, with the greatest luxuriance.

At length we came suddenly upon a cleared space; a most beautiful spot of ground, where, in the centre of a green plot of velvet grass, intersected with numberless small walks, gravelled from a neighbouring rivulet, stood a large one-story wooden edifice, built in the form of a square, with a court-yard in the centre. From the moistness of the atmosphere, the outside of the unpainted weatherboarding had a green damp appearance, and so far as the house itself was concerned, there was an air of great discomfort about the place. A large open balcony ran round the whole house on the outside; and fronting us there was a clumsy wooden porch supported on pillars, with the open door yawning behind it.

The hills on both sides were cleared, and planted with most luxuriant coffee-bushes, and provision grounds, while the house was shaded by several splendid star-apple and kennip-trees, and there was a border of rich flowering shrubs surrounding it on all sides. The hand of woman had been there!

A few half-naked negroes were lounging about, and on hearing our approach they immediately came up and stared wildly at us.

“All fresh from the ship these,” quoth Bang.

“Can’t be,” said Transom. “Try and see.”

I spoke some of the commonest Spanish expressions to them, but they neither understood them, nor could they answer me. But Bang was more successful in Eboe and Mandingo, both of which he spoke fluently accomplishments which I ought to have expected, by the by, when I declared he was little skilled in any tongue but English.

Large herds of cattle were grazing on the skirts of the wood, and about one hundred mules were scrambling and picking their food in a rocky river-course which bisected the valley. The hills, tree-covered, rose around this solitary residence in all directions, as if it had been situated in the bottom of a punch-bowl; while a small waterfall, about thirty feet high, fell so near one of the corners of the building, that when the wind set that way, as I afterwards found, the spray moistened my hair through the open window in my sleeping apartment. We proceeded to the door and dismounted, following the example of our host, and proceeded to help the gentlewomen to alight from the volante. When we were all accounted for in the porch, Don Ricardo began to shout, “Criados, criados, ven aca-pendejos, ven aca!” the call was for some time unattended to; at length, two tall, good-looking, decently— dressed negroes made their appearance, and took charge of our bestias and carriage; but all this time there was no appearance by any living creature belonging to the family.

The dark hall, into which the porch opened was paved with the usual diamond-shaped bricks or tiles, but was not ceiled, the rafters of the roof being exposed; there was little or no furniture in it, that we could see, except a clumsy table in the centre of the room, and one or two of the leather-backed reclining chairs, such as Whiffle used to patronize. Several doors opened from this comfortless saloon, which was innocent of paint, into other apartments, one of which was ajar.

“Estrailo,” murmured Don Ricardo, “muy estrailo!”

“Coolish reception this, Tom.” quoth Aaron Bang.

“Deucedly so,” said the skipper.

But Campana, hooking his little fat wife under his arm, while we did the agreeable to the nieces, now addressed himself to enter, with the constant preliminary ejaculation of all well-bred Spaniards in crossing a friend’s threshold, “Ave Maria purissima,” when we were checked by a loud tearing fit of coughing, which seemed almost to suffocate the patient, and female voices in great alarm, proceeding from the room beyond.

Presently a little anatomy of a man presented himself at the door of the apartment, wringing his hands, and apparently in great misery. Campana and his wife, with all the alacrity of kind hearted people, immediately went up to him, and said something which I did not overhear, but the poor creature to whom they spoke appeared quite bewildered. “What is it, Don Picador?” at length we could hear Campana say,—“what is it? Is it my poor dear Maria who is worse, or what—speak, man—may my wife enter?”

“Si, si—yes, yes,” said the afflicted Don Picador—“yes, yes, let her go in—send—for I am unable to think or act—send one of my people back post to Santiago for the doctor—haste, haste. Sangre—hecha sangre por la boca.”

“Good God, why did you not say so before?” rejoined Campana.

Here his wife called loudly to her husband, “Ricardo, Ricardo, por amor de su alma, manda por el medico, she has burst a blood vessel Maria is dying!”

“Let me mount myself; I will go myself.”—And the excellent man rushed for the door, when the poor heart-broken Picador clung to his knees.

“No, no, don’t leave me. Send some one else”

“Take care, man, let me go”

Transom and I volunteered in a breath—“No, no, I will go myself,” continued Don Ricardo; “let go, man—God help me, the old creature is crazed,—el viejo no vale.”

“Here, here! help, Don Ricardo!” cried his wife.

Off started Transom for the doctor, and into the room rushed Don Picador and Campana, and, from the sounds in the sick-chamber, all seemed bustle and confusion; at length the former appeared to be endeavouring to lift the poor sufferer, so as to enable her to sit up in bed; in the meantime her coughing had gradually abated into a low suffocating convulsive gasp.

“So, so, Ii ft her up, man,’ we could hear Campana say; ‘lift her up quick—or she will be suffocated.”

At length, in a moment of great irritation, excited on the one hand by his intense interest in the poor suffering girl, and anger at the peevish, helpless Don Picador, Don Ricardo, to our unutterable surprise, rapped out, in gude broad Scotch, as he brushed away Senor Cangrejo from the bedside with a violence that spun him out of the door—“God—the auld doited deevil is as fusionless as a docken.”

My jaw dropped—I was thunderstruck—Bang’s eye met mine “Murder!” quoth Bang, so soon as his astonishment let him collect breath enough, “and here I have been for two whole days practising Spanish, to my great improvement no doubt, upon a Scotchman how Edified he must have been!”

“But the docken, man,” said I—“fusionless as a docken—how classic! what an exclamation to proceed from the mouth of a solemn Don!”

“No gibes regarding the docken,” promptly chimed in Bang; “it is a highly respectable vegetable, let me tell you, and useful on occasion, which is more.”

The noise in the room ceased, and presently Campana joined us. “We must proceed,” said he, “it will never do for you to deliver the jewels now, Mr Cringle; she is too much excited already, even from seeing me.”

But it was more easy to determine on proceeding than to put it in execution, for a heavy cloud, that had been overhanging the small valley the whole morning, had by this time spread out and covered the entire face of nature like a sable pall; the birds of the air flew low, and seemed perfectly gorged with the superabundance of flies, which were thickly betaking themselves for shelter under the evergreen leaves of the bushes. All the winged creation, great and small, were fast hastening to the cover of the leaves and branches of the trees. The cattle were speeding to the hollows under the impending rocks; negroes, men, women, and children, were hurrying with their hoes on their shoulders past the windows to their huts. Several large bloodhounds had ventured into the hall, and were crouching with a low whine at our feet. The huge carrion crows were the only living things which seemed to brave the approaching chubasco, and were soaring high up in the heavens, appearing to touch the black agitated fringe of the lowering thunderclouds. All other kinds of winged creatures, parrots, and pigeons, and cranes, had vanished by this time under the thickest trees, and into the deepest coverts, and the wild-ducks were shooting past in long lines, piercing the thick air with outstretched neck and clanging wing.

Suddenly the wind fell, and the sound of the waterfall increased, and grew rough and loud, and the undefinable rushing noise that precedes a heavy fall of rain in the tropics, the voice of the wilderness, moaned through the high woods, until at length the clouds sank upon the valley in boiling mists, rolling halfway down the surrounding hills; and the water of the stream, whose scanty rill but an instant before hissed over the precipice, in a small transparent ribbon of clear glass-green, sprinkled with white foam, and then threaded its way round the large rocks in its capacious channel, like a silver eel twisting through a dry desert, now changed in a moment to a dark turgid chocolate colour; and even as we stood and looked, lo! a column of water from the mountains pitched in thunder over the face of the precipice, making the earth tremble, and driving up from the rugged face of the everlasting rocks in smoke, and forcing the air into eddies and sudden blasts which tossed the branches of the trees that overhung it, as they were dimly seen through clouds of drizzle, as if they had been shaken by a tempest, although there was not a breath stirring elsewhere out of heaven; while little wavering spiral wreaths of mist rose up thick from the surface of the boiling pool at the bottom of the cataract, like miniature water spouts, until they were dispersed by the agitation of the air above.

At length the swollen torrent rolled roaring down the narrow valley, filling the whole water-course, about fifty yards wide, and advancing with a solid front a fathom high—a fathom deep does not convey the idea like a stream of lava, or as one may conceive of the Red Sea, when, at the stretching forth of the hand of the prophet of the Lord, its mighty waters rolled back and stood heaped up as a wall to the host of Israel. The channel of the stream, which but a minute before I could have leaped across, was the next instant filled, and utterly impassable.

“You can’t possibly move,” said Don Picador; “you can neither go on nor retreat; you must stay until the river subsides.” And the rain now began pattering in large drops, like scattering shots preceding an engagement, on the wooden shingles with which the house was roofed, gradually increasing to a loud rushing noise, which, as the rooms were not ceiled, prevented a word being heard.

Don Ricardo began to fret and fidget most awfully,—“Beginning of the seasons—why, we may not get away for a week and all the ships will be kept back in their loading.”

All this time, the poor sufferer’s tearing cough was heard in the lulls of the rain; but it gradually became less and less severe, and the lady of the house, and Senora Campana, and Don Picador’s daughter, at length slid into the room on tiptoe, leaving one of Don Ricardo’s nieces in the room with the sick person.

“She is asleep—hush.” The weather continued as bad as ever, and we passed a very comfortless forenoon of it, Picador, Campana, Bang, and myself, perambulating the large dark hall, while the ladies were clustered together in a corner with their work. At length the weather cleared, and I could get a glimpse of mine hostess and her fair daughter. The former was a very handsome woman, about forty; she was tall, and finely formed; her ample figure set off by the very simple, yet, to my taste, very elegant dress formerly described: it was neither more nor less than the plain black silk petticoat over a chemise, made full at the bosom, with a great quantity of lace frills; her dark glossy hair was gathered on the crown of her head in one long braid, twisted round and round, and rising up like a small turret. Over all she wore a loose shawl of yellow silk crape. But the daughter, I never shall forget her! Tall and full, and magnificently shaped—every motion was instinct with grace. Her beautiful black hair hung a yard down her back, long and glossy, in three distinct braids, while it was shaded, Madonna-like, off her high and commanding forehead; her eyebrows—to use little Reefy’s simile—looked as if cut out of a mouse’s skin; and her eyes themselves, large, dark, and soft, yet brilliant and sparkling at the same time, however contradictory this may, read; her nose was straight, and her cheeks firm and oval, and her mouth, her full lips, her ivory teeth, her neck and bosom, were perfect, the latter if any giving promise of too matronly a womanhood; but at the time I saw her, nothing could have been more beautiful; and, above all, there was an inexpressible charm in the clear transparent darkness of her colourless skin, into which you thought you could look; her shoulders, and the upper part of her arms, were peculiarly beautiful. Nothing is so exquisitely lovely as the upper part of a beautiful woman’s arm, and yet we have lived to see this admirable feature shrouded and lost in those abominable gigots.—Why won’t you, Master Kit North, lend a hand, and originate a crusade against those vile appendages? I will lead into action if you like—“Woe unto the women that sew pillows to all armholes,” Ezekiel, xiii. 18. May I venture on such a quotation in such a place?—She was extremely like her brother; and her fine face was overspread with the pale cast of thought a settled melancholy, like the shadow of a cloud in a calm day on a summer landscape, mantled over her fine features; and although she moved with the air of a princess, and was possessed of that natural politeness which far surpasses all artificial polish, yet the heaviness of her heart was apparent in every motion, as well as in all she said.

Many people labour under an unaccountable delusion, imagining, in their hallucination, that a Frenchwoman, for instance, or even an Englishwoman nay, some in their madness have been heard to say that a Scotchwoman has been known to walk. Egregious errors all! An Irishwoman of the true Milesian descent can walk a step or two sometimes, but all other women, fair or brown, short or tall, stout or thin, only stump, shuffle, jig, or amble—none but a Spaniard can walk.

Once or twice she tried to enter into conversation with me on indifferent subjects; but there was a constant tendency to approach (against her own prearranged determination) the one, all-absorbing one, the fate of her poor brother. “Oh, had you but known him, Mr Cringle had you but known him in his boyhood, before bad company had corrupted him!” exclaimed she, after having asked me if he died penitent and she turned away and wept. “Francisca,” said a low hoarse female voice from the other room; “Francisca, ven aca, mi querida hermana.” The sweet girl rose, and sped across the floor with the grace of Taglioni, (oh, the legs Taglionis! as poor dear Bang would have ventured to have said, if the sylphide had then been known,) and presently returning, whispered something to her mother, who rose and drew Don Picador aside. The waspish old man shook himself clear of his wife, as he said with indecent asperity—“No, no, she will but make a fool of herself.”

His wife drew herself up.

“She never made a fool of herself, Don Picador, but once; and God forgive those who were the cause of it. It is not kind of you, it is not kind.”

“Well, well,” rejoined the querulous old man, “do as you will, do as you will,—always crossing me, always crossing.”

His wife took no farther notice, but stepped across the room to me, “Our poor dying Maria knows you are here; and probably you are not aware that he wrote to her after his”—her voice quavered after his condemnation, the night before he suffered, that you were the only one who shewed him kindness; and she has also read the newspapers giving an account of the trial. She wishes to see you will you pleasure her? Senora Campana has made her acquainted that you are the bearer of some trinkets belonging to him, from which she infers you witnessed his last moments, as one of them, she was told, was her picture, poor dear girl; and she knew that must have grown to his heart till the last. But it will be too agitating. I will try and dissuade her from the interview until the doctor comes, at all events.’

The worthy lady stepped again into Maria’s apartment, and I could not avoid hearing what passed.

“My dear Maria, Mr Cringle has no objection to wait on you; but after your severe attack this morning, I don’t think it will be wise. Delay it until Dr Bergara comes—at any rate, until the evening, Maria.”

“Mother,” she said, in a weak, plaintive voice, although husky from the phlegm which was fast coagulating in her throat—“Mother, I already have ceased to be of this world; I am dying, dearest mother, fast dying; and oh, thou All-good and All-merciful Being, against whom I have fearfully sinned, would that the last struggle were now o’er, and that my weary spirit were released, and my shame hidden in the silent tomb, and my sufferings and very name forgotten!” She paused and gasped for breath; I thought it was all over with her; but she rallied again and proceeded “Time is rapidly ebbing from me, dearest mother,—for mother I must call you, more than a mother have you been to me—and the ocean of eternity is opening to my view. If I am to see him at all, I must see him now; I shall be more agitated by the expectation of the interview than by seeing him at once. Oh! let me see him now, let me look on one who witnessed his last moments.”

I could see Senora Cangrejo where she stood. She crossed her hands on her bosom, and looked up towards heaven, and then turned mournfully towards me, and beckoned me to approach. I entered the small room, which had been fitted up by the poor girl with some taste; the furniture was better than any I had seen in a Spanish house before, and there was a mat on the floor, and some exquisite miniatures and small landscapes on the walls. It was her boudoir, opening apparently into a bedroom beyond. It was lighted by a large open unglazed window, with a row of wooden balustrades beyond it, forming part of a small balcony. A Carmelite friar, a venerable old man, with the hot tears fast falling from his old eyes over his wrinkled cheeks, whom I presently found to be the excellent Padre Carera, sat in a large chair by the bedside, with a silver cup in his hand, beside which lay a large crucifix of the same metal; he had just administered extreme unction, and the viaticum, he fondly hoped, would prove a passport for his dear child to another and a better world. As I entered he rose, held out his hand to me, and moved round to the bottom of the bed.

The shutters had been opened, and, with a suddenness which no one can comprehend who has not lived in these climates, the sun now shone brightly on the flowers and garden plants which grew in a range of pots on the balcony, and lighted up the pale features of a lovely girl, lovely even in the jaws of death, as she lay with her face towards the light, supported in a reclining position on cushions, on a red morocco mattrass, laid on a sort of frame or bed.

“Light was her form, and darkly delicate, that brow, whereon her native sun had sat, but had not marr’d.”

She was tall, so far as I could judge, but oh, how attenuated! Her lower limbs absolutely made no impression on the mattrass, to which her frame appeared to cling, giving a ghastly conspicuousness to the oedematoust swelling of her feet, and to her person, for, alas! She was in a way to have become a mother.

     The offspring of his wayward youth,
     When he betrayed Bianca’s truth;
     The maid whose folly could confide
     In him, who made her not his bride.

Her hand, grasping her pocket-handkerchief, drenched, alas, with blood, hung over the side of the bed, thin and pale, with her long taper fingers as transparent as if they had been fresh cut alabaster, with the blue veins winding through her wrists, and her bosom wasted and shrunk, and her neck no thicker than her arm, with the pulsations of the large arteries as plain and evident as if the skin had been a film, and her beautiful features, although now sharpened by the near approaching death agony, her lovely mouth, her straight nose, her arched eyebrows, black, like pencilled jet lines, and her small ears,—and oh, who can describe her rich black raven hair, lying combed out, and spread all over the bed and pillow? She was dressed in a long loose gown of white crape; it looked like a winding-sheet; but the fire of her eyes—I have purposely not ventured to describe them—the unearthly brilliancy of her large, full, swimming eye!

When I entered, I bowed, and remained standing near the door. She said something, but in so low a voice that I could not catch the words; and when I stepped nearer, on purpose to hear more distinctly, all at once the blood mantled in her cheeks and forehead and throat, like the last gleam of the setting sun; but it faded as rapidly, and once more she lay pale as her smock.

     “Yet not such blush, as mounts when health would show,
     All the heart’s hue in that delightful glow;
     But ‘twas a hectic tint of secret care,
     That for a burning moment fever’d there;
     And the wild sparkle of her eye seemd caught
     From high, and lighten’d with electric thought;
     Though its black orb these long low lashes fringe,
     Had temper’d with a melancholy tinge.”

Her voice was becoming more and more weak, she said, so she must be prompt. “You have some trinkets for me, Mr Cringle?” I presented them. She kissed the crucifix fervently, and then looked mournfully on her own miniature. “This was thought like once, Mr Cringle.—Are the newspaper accounts of his trial correct?” she next asked. I answered, that in the main facts they were. “And do you believe in the commission of all these alleged atrocities by him?” I remained silent. “Yes, they are but too true. Hush, hush,” said she “look there.”

I did as she requested. There, glancing bright in the sunshine, a most beautiful butterfly fluttered in the air, in the very middle of the open window. When we first saw it, it was flitting gaily and happily amongst the plants and flowers that were blooming in the balcony, but it gradually became more and more slow on the wing, and at last poised itself so unusually steadily for an insect of its class, that even had Maria not spoken, it would have attracted my attention. Below it, on the window sill, near the wall, with head erect, and its little basilisk eyes upturned towards the lovely fly, crouched a camelion lizard; its beautiful body, when I first looked at it, was a bright sea-green. It moved into the sunshine, a little away from the shade of the laurel bush, which grew on the side it first appeared on, and suddenly the back became transparent amber, the legs and belly continuing green. From its breast under the chin, it every now and then shot out a semicircular film of a bright scarlet colour, like a leaf of a tulip stretched vertically, or the pectoral fin of a fish.

This was evidently a decoy, and the poor fly was by degrees drawn down towards it, either under the impression of its being in reality a flower, or impelled by some impulse which it could not resist. It gradually fluttered nearer and more near, the reptile remaining all the while steady as a stone, until it made a sudden spring, and in the next moment the small meally wings were quivering on each side of the camelion’s tiny jaws. While in the act of gorging its prey, a little fork, like a wire, was projected from the opposite corner of the window; presently a small round black snout, with a pair of little fiery blasting eyes, appeared, and a thin black neck glanced in the sun. The lizard saw it. I could fancy it trembled. Its body became of a dark blue, then ashy pale; the imitation of the flower, the gaudy fin was withdrawn, it appeared to shrink back as far as it could, but it was nailed or fascinated to the window sill, for its feet did not move. The head of the snake approached, with its long forked tongue shooting out and shortening, and with a low hissing noise. By this time about two feet of its body was visible, lying with its white belly on the wooden beam, moving forward with a small horizontal wavy motion, the head and six inches of the neck being a little raised. I shrunk back from the serpent, but no one else seemed to have any dread of it; indeed, I afterwards learned, that this kind being good mousers, and otherwise quite harmless, were, if any thing, encouraged about houses in the country. I looked again; its open mouth was now within an inch of the lizard, which by this time seemed utterly paralysed and motionless; the next instant its head was drawn into the snake’s mouth, and by degrees the whole body disappeared, as the reptile gorged it, and I could perceive from the lump which gradually moved down the snake’s neck, that it had been sucked into its stomach. Involuntarily I raised my hand, when the whole suddenly disappeared.

I turned, I could scarcely tell why, to look at the dying girl. A transient flush had again lit up her pale wasted face. She was evidently greatly excited. “Can you read me that riddle, Mr Cringle? Does no analogy present itself to you between what you have seen, between the mysterious power possessed by these subtle reptiles, and Look—look again.”

A large and still more lovely butterfly suddenly rose from beneath where the snake had vanished, all glittering in the dazzling sunshine, and after fluttering for a moment, floated steadily up into the air, and disappeared in the blue sky. My eye followed it as long as it was visible, and when it once more declined to where we had seen the snake, I saw a most splendid dragonfly, about three inches long, like a golden bodkin, with its gauze-like wings moving so quickly, as it hung steadily poised in mid air, like a hawk preparing to stoop, that the body seemed to be surrounded by silver tissue, or a bright halo, while it glanced in the sunbeam.

“Can you not read it yet, Mr Cringle? can you not read my story in the fate of the first beautiful fly, and the miserable end of my Federico, in that of the lizard? And oh, may the last appearance of the ethereal thing, which but now rose, and melted into the lovely sky, be a true type of what I shall be! But that poor insect, that remains there suspended between heaven and earth, shall I say hell, what am I to think of it?”

The dragonfly was still there. She continued—“En purgatorio, ah Dios, tu quedas en purgatorio,” as if the fly had represented the unhappy young pirate’s soul in limbo. Oh, let no one smile at the quaintness of the dying fancy of the poor heart-crushed girl. The weather began to lower again, the wind came past us moaningly—the sun was obscured large drops of rain fell heavily into the room—a sudden dazzling flash of lightning took place, and the dragonfly was no longer there. A long low wild cry was heard. I started, and my flesh creeped. The cry was repeated. “Es el—el mismo, y ningun otro. Me venga, Federico; me venga, mi querido!” shrieked poor Maria, with a supernatural energy, and with such piercing distinctness that it was heard shrill even above the rolling thunder.

I turned to look at Maria—another flash. It glanced on the crucifix which the old priest had elevated at the foot of the bed, full in her view. It was nearer, the thunder was louder. “Is that the rain-drops which are falling heavily on the floor through the open window?” Oh God! Oh God! it is her warm heart’s-blood, which was bubbling from her mouth like a crimson fountain. Her pale fingers were clasped on her bosom in the attitude of prayer—a gentle quiver of her frame and the poor broken hearted girl, and her unborn babe, “sleeped the sleep that knows no waking.”

CHAPTER XIV.—Scenes in Cuba

     Ariel.—Safely in harbour,
     Is the king’s ship; in the deep nook, where, once,
     Thou call’dst me up at midnight to fetch dew,
     From the still—vexed Bermoothes—there she’s hid.

     The Tempest, I. ii 227—29.

The spirit had indeed fled—the ethereal essence had departed—and the poor wasted and blood-stained husk which lay before us, could no longer be moved by our sorrows, or gratified by our sympathy. Yet I stood riveted to the spot, until I was aroused by the deep-toned voice of Padre Carera, who, lifting up his hands towards heaven, addressed the Almighty in extempore prayer, beseeching his mercy to our erring sister who had just departed. The unusualness of this startled me.—“As the tree falls, so must it lie,” had been the creed of my forefathers, and was mine; but now for the first time I heard a clergyman wrestling in mental agony, and interceding with the God who hath said, “Repent before the night cometh, in which no man can work,” for a sinful creature, whose worn-out frame was now as a clod of the valley. But I had little time for consideration, as presently all the negro servants of the establishment set up a loud howl, as if they had lost their nearest and dearest. “Oh, our poor dear young mistress is dead! She has gone to the bosom of the Virgin! She is gone to be happy!”—“Then why the deuce make such a yelling?” quoth Bang in the other room, when this had been translated to him. Clad to leave the chamber of death, I entered the large hall, where I had left our friend.

“I say, Tom—awful work. Hear how the rain pours, and murder—such a flash! Why, in Jamaica, we don’t startle greatly at lightning, but absolutely I heard it hiss—there, again”—the noise of the thunder stopped further colloquy, and the wind now burst down the valley with a loud roar.

Don Ricardo joined us. “My good friends—we are in a scrape here—what is to be done?—a melancholy affair altogether.”—Bang’s curiosity here fairly got the better of him.

“I say, Don Ricardibus—do—beg pardon, though—do give over this humbugging outlandish lingo of yours—speak like a Christian, in your mother tongue, and leave off your Spanish, which now, since I know it is all a bam, seems to sit as strangely on you as my grandmother’s toupe would on Tom Cringle’s Mary.”

“Now do pray, Mr Bang,” said I, when Don Ricardo broke in “Why, Mr Bang, I am, as you now know, a Scotchman.”

“How do I know any such thing—that is, for a certainty—while you keep cruising amongst so many lingoes, as Tom there says?”

“The docken, man,” said I.—Don Ricardo smiled.

“I am a Scotchman, my dear sir; and the same person who, in his youth, was neither more nor less than wee Richy Cloche, in the long town of Kirkaldy, and in his old age Don Ricardo Campana of St Jago de Cuba. But more of this anon,—at present we are in the house of mourning, and alas the day! that it should be so.”

By this time the storm had increased most fearfully, and as Don Ricardo, Aaron, and myself, sat in the dark damp corner of the large gloomy hall, we could scarcely see each other, for the lightning had now ceased, and the darkness was so thick, that had it not been for the light from the large funeral wax tapers, which had been instantly lit upon poor Maria’s death, in the room where she lay, that streamed through the open door, we should have been unable to see our very fingers before us.

“What is that?” said Campana; “heard you nothing, gentlemen?”

     “By this the storm grew loud apace,
     The water-wraith was shrieking;
     And in the scowl of heaven each face,
     Grew dark as they were speaking.”

In the lulls of the rain and the blast, the same long low cry was heard which had startled me by Maria’s bedside, and occasioned the sudden and fatal exertion which had been the cause of the bursting out afresh of the blood vessel.

“Why,” said I, “it is little more than three o’clock in the afternoon yet, dark as it is; let us sally out, Mr Bang, for I verify believe that the hollo we have heard is my Captain’s voice, and, if I conjecture rightly, he must have arrived at the other side of the river, probably with the Doctor.”

“Why, Tom,” quoth Aaron, “it is only three in the afternoon, as you say, although by the sky I could almost vouch for its being midnight,—but I don’t like that shouting—Did you ever read of a water-kelpie, Don Richy?”

“Poo, poo, nonsense,” said the Don; “Mr Cringle is, I fear, right enough.” At this moment the wind thundered at the door and window shutters, and howled amongst the neighbouring trees and round the roof, as if it would have blown the house down upon our devoted heads. The cry was again heard, during a momentary pause.

“Zounds!” said Bang, “it is the skipper’s voice, as sure as fate—he must be in danger—let us go and see, Tom.”

“Take me with you,” said Campana,—the foremost always when any good deed was to be done——and, in place of clapping on his great-coat to meet the storm, to our unutterable surprise, he began to disrobe himself, all to his trowsers and large straw hat. He then called one of the servants, “Trae me un lasso.” The lasso, a long thong of plaited hide, was forthwith brought; he coiled it up in his left hand. “Now, Pedro,” said he to the negro servant who had fetched it, (a tall strapping fellow,) “you and Caspar follow me. Gentlemen, are you ready?” Caspar appeared, properly accoutred, with a long pole in one hand and a thong similar to Don Ricardo’s in the other, he as well as his comrade being stark naked all to their waistcloths. “Ah, well done, my sons,” said Don Ricardo, as both the negroes prepared to follow him. So off we started to the door, although we heard the tormenta raging without with appalling fury. Bang undid the latch, and the next moment he was flat on his back, the large leaf having flown open with tremendous violence, capsizing him like an infant.

The Padre from the inner chamber came to our assistance, and by our joint exertions we at length got the door to again and barricaded, after which we made our exit from the lee-side of the house by a window. Under other circumstances, it would have been difficult to refrain from laughing at the appearance we made. We were all drenched in an instant after we left the shelter of the house, and there was old Campana, naked to the waist, with his large sombrero and long pigtail hanging down his back, like a mandarin of twenty buttons. Next followed his two black assistants, naked as I have described them, all three with their coils of rope in their hands, like a hangman and his deputies; then advanced friend Bang and myself, without our coats or hats, with handkerchiefs tied round our heads, and our bodies bent down so as to stem the gale as strongly as we could.

But the planting attorney, a great schemer, a kind of Will Wimble in his way, had thought fit, of all things in the world, to bring his umbrella, which the wind, as might have been expected, reversed most unceremoniously the moment he attempted to hoist it, and tore it from the staff, so that, on the impulse of the moment, he had to clutch the flying red silk and thrust his head through the centre, where the stick had stood, as if he had been some curious flower. As we turned the corner of the house, the full force of the storm met us right in the teeth, when flap flew Don Ricardo’s hat past us; but the two blackamoors had taken the precaution to strap each of theirs down with a strong grass lanyard. We continued to work to windward, while every now and then the hollo came past us on the gale louder and louder, until it guided us to the fording which we had crossed on our first arrival. We stopped there;—the red torrent was rushing tumultuously past us, but we saw nothing save a few wet and shivering negroes on the opposite side, who had sheltered themselves under a cliff, and were busily employed in attempting to light a fire. The holloing continued.

“Why, what can be wrong?” at length said Don Ricardo, and he shouted to the people on the opposite side.

He might as well have spared his breath, for, although they saw his gestures and the motion of his lips, they no more heard him than we did them, as they very considerately in return made mouths at us, bellowing no doubt that they could not hear us.

“Don Ricardo—Don Ricardo!” at this crisis sung out Caspar, who had clambered up the rock, to have a peep about him—“Ave Maria—Alla son dos pobres, que peresquen pronto, si nosotros no pueden Hydros.”

“Whereabouts?” said Campana—“whereabouts? speak, man, speak.”

“Down in the valley—about a quarter of a league, I see two men on a large rock, in the middle of the stream; the wind is in that direction, it must be them we heard.”

“God be gracious to us! true enough—true enough—let us go to them then, my children.” And we again all cantered off after the excellent Don Ricardo. But before we could reach the spot, we had to make a detour, and come down upon it from the precipitous brow of the beetling cliff above, for there was no beach nor shore to the swollen river, which was here very deep and surged, rushing under the hollow bank with comparatively little noise, which was the reason why we heard the cries so distinctly.

The unfortunates who were in peril, whoever they might be, seemed to comprehend our motions, for one of them held out a white handkerchief, which I immediately answered by a similar signal, when the shouting ceased, until, guided by the negroes, we reached the verge of the cliff, and looked down from the red crumbling bank on the foaming water, as it swept past beneath. It was here about thirty yards broad, divided by a rocky wedge like islet, on which grew a profusion of dark bushes and one large tree, whose topmost branches were on a level with us where we stood. This tree was divided, about twelve feet from the root, into two limbs in the fork of which sat, like a big monkey, no less a personage than Captain Transom himself, wet and dripping, with his clothes besmeared with mud, and shivering with cold. At the foot of the tree sat in rueful mood, a small antique beau of an old man in a coat which had once been blue silk, wearing breeches, the original colour of which no man could tell, and without his wig, his clear bald pate shining amidst the surrounding desolation like an ostrich’s egg. Beside these worthies stood two trembling way-worn mules with drooping heads, their long ears hanging down most disconsolately. The moment we came in sight, the skipper hailed us.

“Why, I am hoarse with bawling, Don Ricardo, but here am I and el Doctor Pavo Real, in as sorry a plight as any two gentlemen need be. On attempting the ford two hours ago, blockheads as we were beg pardon, Don Pavo”—the doctor bowed, and grinned like a baboon—“we had nearly been drowned; indeed, we should have been drowned entirely, had we not brought up on this island of Barataria here.—But how is the young lady? tell me that,” said the excellent-hearted fellow, even in the midst of his own danger.

“Mind Yourself, my beautiful child,” cried Bang. “How are we to get you on terra firma?”

“Poo—in the easiest way possible,” rejoined he, with true seamanlike self-possession. “I see you have ropes—Tom Cringle, heave me the end of the line which Don Ricardo carries, will you?”

“No, no—I can do that myself,” said Don Ricardo, and with a swing he hove the leathern noose at the skipper, and whipped it over his neck in a twinkling. The Scotch Spaniard, I saw, was pluming himself on his skill, but Transom was up to him, for in an instant he dropped out of it, while in slipping through he let it fall over a broken limb of the tree.

“Such an eel—such an eel!” shouted the attendant negroes, both expert hands with the lasso themselves.

“Now, Don Ricardo, since I am not to be had, make your end of the thong fast round that large stone there.” Campana did so. “Ah, that will do.” And so saying, the skipper warped himself to the top of the cliff with great agility. He was no sooner in safety himself, however, than the idea of having left the poor doctor in peril flashed on him.

“I must return—I must return! If the river rises, the body will be drowned out and out.”

And notwithstanding our entreaties, he did return as he came, and descending the tree, began apparently to argue with the little Medico, and to endeavour to persuade him to ascend, and make his escape as he himself had done; but it would not do. Pavo Real—as brave a little man as ever was seen—made many salaams and obeisances, but move he would not. He shook his head repeatedly, in a very solemn way, as if he had said, “My very excellent friends, I am much obliged to you, but it is impossible; my dignity would be compromised by such a proceeding.”

Presently Transom appeared to wax very emphatic, and pointed to a pinnacle of limestone rock, which had stood out like a small steeple above the surface of the flashing, dark red eddies, when we first arrived on the spot, but now only stopped the water with a loud gurgle, the top rising and disappearing as the stream surged past, like, buov jangling in a tideway. The small man still shook his head, but the water now rose so rapidly, that there was scarcely dry standing room for the two poor devils of mules, while the doctor and the skipper had the greatest difficulty in finding a footing for themselves.

Time and circumstances began to press, and Transom, after, another unavailing attempt to persuade the doctor, began apparently to rouse himself, and muster his energies. He first drove the mules forcibly into the stream at the side opposite where we stood, which was the deepest water, and least broken by rocks and stones, and we had the pleasure to see them scramble out safe and sound; he then put his hand to his mouth, and hailed us to throw him a rope, it was done—he caught it, and then by a significant gesture to Campana, gave him to understand that now was the time. The Don, comprehending him, hove his noose with great precision, right over the little doctor’s head, and before he recovered from his surprise, the captain slipped it under his arms, and signed to haul taught, while the Medico kicked, and spurred, and backed like a restive horse. At one and the same moment, Transom made fast a guy round his waist, and we hoisted away, while he hauled on the other line, so that we landed the Lilliputian Esculapius safe on the top of the bank, with the wind nearly out of his body, however, from his violent exertions, and the running of the noose.

It was now the work of a moment for the Captain to ascend the tree and again warp himself ashore, when he set himself to apologize with all his might and main, pleading strong necessity; and having succeeded in pacifying the offended dignity of the doctor, we turned towards the house.

“Look out there,” sung out Campana sharply.

Time indeed, thought I, for right ahead of us, as if an invisible gigantic ploughshare had passed over the woods, a valley or chasm was suddenly opened down the hill-side with a noise like thunder, and branches and whole limbs of trees were instantly torn away, and tossed into the air like straws.

“Down on your noses, my fine fellows,” cried the skipper. We were all flat in an instant except the Medico, the stubborn little brute, who stood until the tornado reached him, when in a twinkling he was cast on his back, with a violence sufficient, as I thought, to have driven his breath for ever and aye out of his body. While we lay we heard all kinds of things hurtle past us through the air, pieces of timber, branches of trees, coffee-bushes, and even stones. Presently it lulled again, and we got on end to look round us.

“How will the old house stand all this, Don Ricardo?” said the drenched skipper. He had to shout to be heard. The Don was too busy to answer, but once more strode on towards the dwelling, as I expected something even worse than we had experienced to be still awaiting us. By the time we reached it, it was full of negroes, men, women, and children, whose huts had already been destroyed, poor, drenched, miserable devils, with scarcely any clothing and to crown our comfort, we found the roof leaking in many places. By this time the night began to fall, and our prospects were far from flattering. The rain had entirely ceased, nor was there any lightning, but the storm was most tremendous, blowing in gusts, and veering round from east to north with the speed of thought. The force of the gale, however, gradually declined, until the wind subsided altogether, and every thing became quite still. The low murmured conversation of the poor negroes who environed us, was heard distinctly; the hard breathing of the sleeping children could even be distinguished. But I was by no means sure that the hurricane was over, and Don Ricardo and the rest seemed to think as I did, for there was not a word interchanged between us for some time.

“Do you hear that?” at length said Aaron Bang, as a low moaning sound rose wailing into the night air. It approached and grew louder.

“The voice of the approaching tempest amongst the higher branches of the trees,” said the Captain.

The rushing noise overhead increased, but still all was so calm where we sat, that you could have heard a pin drop. Poo, thought I, it has passed over us after all—no fear now, when one reflects how completely sheltered we are. Suddenly, however, the lights in the room where the body lay were blown out, and the roof groaned and creaked as if it had been the bulkheads of a ship in a tempestuous sea.

“We shall have to cut and run from this anchorage presently, after all,” said I; “the house will never hold on till morning.”

The words were scarcely out of my mouth, when, as if a thunderbolt had struck it, one of the windows in the hall was driven in with a roar, as if the Falls of Niagara had been pouring overhead, and the tempest having thus forced an entrance, the roof of that part of the house where we sat was blown up, as if by gunpowder—ay, in the twinkling of an eye; and there we were with the bare walls, and the angry heaven overhead, and the rain descending in bucketfuls. Fortunately, two large joists or couples, being deeply embedded in the substance of the walls, remained, when the rafters and ridgepole were torn away, or we must have been crushed in the ruins.

There was again a deathlike lull, the wind fell to a small melancholy sough amongst the tree-tops, and once more, where we sat, there was not a breath stirring. So complete was the calm now, that after a light had been struck, and placed on the floor in the middle of the room, showing the surrounding group of shivering half-naked savages, with fearful distinctness, the flame shot up straight as an arrow, clear and bright, although the distant roar of the storm still thundered afar off as it rushed over the mountain above us.

This unexpected stillness frightened the women even more than the fierceness of the gale when at the loudest had done.

“We must go forth,” said Senora Campana; “the elements are only gathering themselves for a more dreadful hurricane than what we have already experienced. We must go forth to the little chapel in the wood, or the next burst may, and will, bury us under the walls;” and she moved towards Maria’s room, where, by this time, lights had again been placed. “We must move the body,” we could hear her say; “we must all proceed to the chapel; in a few minutes the storm will be raging again louder than ever.”

“And my wife is very right,” said Don Ricardo; “so, Caspar, call the other people; have some mats, and quatres, and mattresses carried down to the chapel, and we shall all remove, for, with half of the roof gone, it is but tempting the Almighty to remain here longer.”

The word was passed, and we were soon under weigh, four negroes leading the van, carrying the uncoffined body of the poor girl on a sofa; while two servants, with large splinters of a sort of resinous wood for flambeaux, walked by the side of it. Next followed the women of the family, covered up with all the cloaks and spare garments that could be collected; then came Don Picador Cangrejo, with Ricardo Campana, the skipper, Aaron Bang, and myself; the procession being closed by the household negroes, with more lights, which all burned steadily and clear.

We descended through a magnificent natural avenue of lofty trees (whose brown moss-grown trunks and fantastic boughs were strongly lit up by the blaze of the torches; while the fresh white splinter-marks where the branches had been tom off by the storm, glanced bright and clear, and the rain-drops on the dark leaves sparkled like diamonds) towards the river, along whose brink the brimful red-foaming waters rushed past us, close by the edge of the path, now ebbing suddenly a foot or so, and then surging up again beyond their former bounds, as if large stones or trunks of trees above, were from time to time damming up the troubled waters, and then giving way. After walking about four hundred yards, we came to a small but massive chapel, fronting the river, the back part resting against a rocky bank, with two superb cypress-trees growing, one on each side of the door; we entered, Padre Carera leading the way. The whole area of the interior of the building did not exceed a parallelogram of twenty feet by twelve. At the eastern end, fronting the door, there was a small altar-piece of hard-wood, richly ornamented with silver, and one or two bare wooden benches standing on the tiled floor; but the chief security we had that the building would withstand the storm, consisted in its having no window or aperture whatsoever, excepting two small ports, one on each side of the altar piece, and the door, which was a massive frame of hardwood planking.

The body was deposited at the foot of the altar, and the ladies, having been wrapped up in cloaks and blankets, were safely lodged in quatres, while we, the gentlemen of the comfortless party, seated ourselves, disconsolately enough, on the wooden benches.

The door was made fast, after the servants had kindled a blazing wood fire on the floor; and although the flickering light cast by the wax tapers in the six large silver candlesticks which were planted beside the bier, as it blended with the red glare of the fire, and fell strong on the pale uncovered features of the corpse, and on the anxious faces of the women, was often startling enough, yet being conscious of a certain degree of security from the thickness of the walls, we made up our minds to spend the night where we were, as well as we could.

“I say, Tom Cringle,” said Aaron Bang, “all the females are snug there, you see; we have a blazing fire on the hearth, and here is some comfort for we men slaves;” whereupon he produced two bottles of brandy. Don Ricardo Campana, with whom Bang seemed now to be absolutely in league, or, in vulgar phrase, as thick as pickpockets, had brought a goblet of water, and a small silver drinking cup, with him, so we passed the creature round, and tried all we could to while away the tedious night. But, as if a sudden thought had struck Aaron, he here tucked the brandy bottle under his arm, and asking me to carry the vessel with the water, he advanced, cup in hand, towards the ladies.

“Now, Tom, interpret carefully.”

“Ahem—Madam and Senoras, this is a heavy night for all of us, but the chapel is damp—allow me to comfort you.”

“Muchisimos gracias,” was the gratifying answer, and Bang accordingly gave each of our fair friends a heart-warming taste of brandy and water. There was now calm for a full hour, and the Captain had stepped out to reconnoitre; on his return he reported that the swollen stream had very much subsided.

“Well, we shall get away, I hope, tomorrow morning, after all,” whispered Bang.

He had scarcely spoken when it began to pelt and rain again, as if a waterspout had burst overhead, but there was no wind.

“Come, that is the clearing up of it,” said Cloche.

At this precise moment the priest was sitting with folded arms, beyond the body, on a stool or trestle, in the alcove or recess where it lay. Right overhead was one of the small round apertures in the gable of the chapel, which, opening on the bank, appeared to the eye a round black spot in the whitewashed wall. The bright wax lights shed a strong lustre on the worthy Clerigo’s figure, face, and fine bald head which shone like silver, while the deeper light of the embers on the floor was reflected in ruby tints from the large silver crucifix that hung at his waist. The rushing of the swollen river prevented me hearing distinctly, but it occurred to me once or twice, that a strange! gurgling sound proceeded from the aforesaid round aperture. The Padre seemed to hear it also, for every now and then he looked up, and once he rose and peered anxiously through it; but apparently unable to distinguish any thing, he sat down again. However, my attention, had been excited, and half asleep as I was, I kept glimmering in the direction of the Clerigo.

The Captain’s deep snore had gradually lengthened out, so as to vouch for his forgetfulness, and Bang, Ricardo, Dr Pavo Real, and the ladies, had all subsided into the most perfect quietude, when I noticed, and I quaked and trembled like an aspen leaf as I did so, a long black paw, thrust through, and down from the dark aperture immediately over Padre Carera’s head, which, whatever it was, it appeared to scratch sharply, and then giving the caput a smart cuff, vanished. The Priest started, put up his hand, and rubbed his head, but seeing nothing, again leant back, and was about departing to the land of nod, like the others, once more. However, in a few minutes, the same paw again protruded, and this time a peering black snout, with two glancing eyes, was thrust through the hole after it. The paw kept swinging about like a pendulum for a few seconds, and was then suddenly thrust into the Padre’s open mouth as he lay back asleep, and again giving him another smart crack, vanished as before.

“Hobble, gobble,” gurgled the Priest, nearly choked.

“Ave Maria purissima, que bocado—what a mouthful!—What can that be?”

This was more than I knew, I must confess, and altogether I was consumedly puzzled, but, from a disinclination to alarm the women, I held my tongue. Padre Carera this time moved away to the other side from beneath the hole, but still within two feet of it—in fact, he could not get in this direction farther for the altar-piece—and being still half asleep, he lay back once more against the wall to finish his nap, taking the precaution, however, to clap on his long shovel hat, shaped like a small canoe, crosswise, with the peaks standing out from each side of his head, in place of wearing it fore and aft, as usual. Well, thought I, a strange party certainly; but drowsiness was fast settling down on me also, when the same black paw was again thrust through the hole, and I distinctly heard a nuzzling, whining, short bark. I rubbed my eyes and sat up, but before I was quite awake, the head and neck of a large Newfoundland dog was shoved into the chapel through the round aperture, and making a long stretch, with the black paws thrust down and resting on the wall, supporting the creature, the animal suddenly snatched the Padre’s hat off his head, and giving it an angry worry—as much as to say, “Confound it—I had hoped to have had the head in it”—it dropped it on the floor, and with a loud yell, Sneezer, my own old dear Sneezer, leaped into the midst of us, floundering amongst the sleeping women, and kicking the firebrands about, making them hiss again with the water he shook from his shaggy coat, and frightening all hands like the very devil.

“Sneezer, you villain, how came you here!” I exclaimed, in great amazement—“How came you here, sir?” The dog knew me at once, and when benches were reared against him, after the women had huddled into a corner, and every thing was in sad confusion, he ran to me, and leaped on my neck, gasping and yelping; but finding that I was angry, and in no mood for toying, he planted himself on end so suddenly, in the middle of the floor, close by the fire, that all our hands were stayed, and no one could find in his heart to strike the poor dumb brute, he sat so quiet and motionless. “Sneezer, my boy, what have you to say—where have you come from?” He looked in the direction of the door, and then walked deliberately towards it, and tried to open it with his paws.

“Now,” said the Captain, “that little scamp, who would insist on riding with me to St Jago, to see, as he said, if he might not be of use in fetching the surgeon from the ship in case I could not find Dr Bergara, has come back, although I desired him to stay on board. The puppy must have returned in his cursed troublesome zeal, for in no other way could your dog be here. Certainly, however, he did not know that I had fallen in with Dr Pavo Real;” and the good-natured fellow’s heart melted, as he continued—“Returned—why, he may be drowned—Cringle, take care little Reefpoint be not drowned.”

Sneezer lowered his black snout, and for a moment poked it into the white ashes of the fire, and then raising it and stretching his neck upwards to its full length, he gave a short bark, and then a long loud howl.

“My life upon it, the poor boy is gone,” said I.

“But what can we do?” said Don Ricardo; “it is as dark as pitch.”

And we again set ourselves to have a small rally at the brandy and water, as a resolver of our doubts, whether we should sit still till daybreak, or sally forth now and run the chance of being drowned, with but small hope of doing any good; and the old priest having left the other end of the chapel, where the ladies were once more reposing, now came to join our council of war, and to have his share of the agua ardiente.

The noise of the rain increased, and there was still a little puff of wind now and then, so that the Padre, taking an alfombra, or small mat, used to kneel on, and placing it on the step where the folding doors opened inwards, took a cloak on his shoulders, and sat himself down with his back against the leaves, to keep them closed, as the lock or bolt was broken, and was in the act of swigging off his cupful of comfort, when a strong gust drove the door open, as if the devil himself had kicked it, capsized the Padre, blew out the lights once more, and scattered the brands of the fire all about us. Transom and I started up, the women shrieked; but before we could get the door to again, in rode little Reefpoint on a mule, with the doctor of the Firebrand behind him, bound, or lashed, as we call it, to him by a strong thong. The black servants and the females took them for incarnate fiends, I fancy, for the yells and shrieks they set up were tremendous.

“Yo, ho!” sung out little Reefy; “don’t be frightened, ladies—Lord love ye, I am half drowned, and the doctor here is altogether so quite entirely drowned, I assure you.—I say, Medico, an’t it true?” And the little Irish rogue slewed his head round, and gave the exhausted doctor a most comical look.

“Not quite,” quoth the doctor, “but deuced near it. I say, Captain, would you have known us? why, we are dyed chocolate colour, you see, in that river, flowing not with milk and honey, but with something miraculously like pea soup, water I cannot call it.”

“But Heaven help us, why did you try the ford, man?” said Bang.

“You may say that, sir,” responded wee Reefy; “but our mule was knocked up, and it was so dark and tempestuous, that we should have perished by the road if we had tried back for St Jago; so seeing a light here, the only indication of a living thing, and the stream looking narrow and comparatively quiet—confound it, it was all the deeper though—we shoved across.”

“But, bless me, if you had been thrown in the stream, lashed together as you are, you would have been drowned to a certainty,” said the Captain.

“Oh,” said little Reefy, “the doctor was not on the mule in crossing no, no, Captain, I knew better—I had him in tow, sir; but after we crossed he was so faint and chill, that I had to lash myself to him to keep him from sliding over the animal’s counter, and walk he could not.”

“But, Master Reefpoint, why came you back? did I not desire you to remain on board of the Firebrand, sir?”

The midshipman looked nonplussed. “Why, Captain, I forgot to take my clothes with me, and—and—in truth, sir, I thought our surgeon would be of more use than any outlandish Gallipot that you could carry back.”

The good intentions of the lad saved him farther reproof, although I could not help smiling at his coming back for his clothes, when his whole wardrobe on starting was confined to the two false collars and a toothbrush.

“But where is the young lady?” said the doctor.

“Beyond your help, my dear doctor,” said the skipper; “she is dead—all that remains of her you see within that small railing there.”

“Ah, indeed!” quoth the Medico, “poor girl—poor girl—deep decline, wasted, terribly wasted,” said he, as he returned from the railing of the altar-piece, where he had been to look down upon the body; and then, as if there never had been such a being as poor Maria Olivera in existence, he continued, “Pray, Mr Bang, what may you have in that bottle?”

“Brandy, to be sure, doctor,” said Bang.

“A thimbleful then, if you please.”

“By all means”—and the planting attorney handed the black bottle to the surgeon, who applied it to his lips, without more circumlocution.

“Lord love us!—poisoned—Oh, gemini!”

“Why, doctor,” said Transom, “what has come over you?”

“Poisoned, Captain—only taste.”

The bottle contained soy. It was some time before we could get the poor man quieted; and when at length he was stretched along a bench, and the fire stirred up, and new wood added to it, the fresh air of early morning began to be scented. At this time we missed Padre Carera, and, in truth, we all fell fast asleep; but in about an hour or so afterwards, I was awoke by some one stepping across me. The same cause had stirred Transom. It was Aaron Bang who had been to look out at the door.

“I say, Cringle, look here—the Padre and the servants are digging a grave close to the chapel—are they going to bury the poor girl so suddenly?”

I stepped to the door; the wind had entirely fallen—but it rained very fast—the small chapel door looked out on the still swollen, but subsiding river, and beyond that on the mountain, which rose abruptly from the opposite bank. On the side of the hill facing us was situated a negro village, of about thirty huts, where lights were already twinkling, as if the inmates were preparing to go forth to their work. Far above them, on the ridge, there was a clear cold streak towards the east, against which the outline of the mountain, and the large trees which grew on it, were sharply cut out; but overhead, the firmament was as yet dark and threatening. The morning star had just risen, and was sparkling bright and clear through the branches of a magnificent tree, that shot out from the highest part of the hill; it seemed to have attracted the Captain’s attention as well as mine.

“Were I romantic now, Mr Cringle, I could expatiate on that view. How cold, and clear, and chaste, every thing looks! The elements have subsided into a perfect calm, every thing is quiet and still, but there is no warmth, no comfort in the scene.”

“What a soaking rain!” said Aaron Bang; “why, the drops are as small as pin points, and so thick!—a Scotch mist is a joke to them. Unusual all this, Captain. You know our rain in Jamaica usually descends in bucketfuls, unless it be regularly set in for a week, and them, but then only, it becomes what in England we are in the habit of calling a soaking rain. One good thing, however,—while it descends so quietly, the earth will absorb it all, and that furious river will not continue swollen.”

“Probably not,” said I.

“Mr Cringle,” said the skipper, “do you mark that tree on the ridge of the mountain, that large tree in such conspicuous relief against the eastern sky?”

“I do, Captain. But—heaven help us!—what necromancy is this! It seems to sink into the mountain-top—why, I only see the uppermost branches now. It has disappeared, and yet the outline of the hill is as distinct and well defined as ever; I can even see the cattle on the ridge, although, they are running about in a very incomprehensible way certainly.”

“Hush!” said Don Ricardo, “hush!—the Padre is reading the funeral service in the chapel, preparatory to the body being brought out.”

And so he was. But a low grumbling noise, gradually increasing was now distinctly audible. The monk hurried on with the prescribed form—he finished it—and we were about moving the body to carry it forth—Bang and I being in the very act of stooping down to lift the bier, when the Captain sung out sharp and quick,—“Here, Tom!” the urgency of the appeal abolishing the Mister—“Here!—zounds, the whole hill-side is in motion!” And as he spoke I beheld the negro village, that hung on the opposite bank, gradually fetch way, houses, trees, and all, with a loud, harsh, grating sound.

“God defend us!” I involuntarily exclaimed.

“Stand clear,” shouted the skipper; “the whole hill-side opposite is under weigh, and we shall be bothered here presently.”

He was right—the entire face of the hill over against us was by this time in motion, sliding over the substratum of rock like a first rate gliding along the well-greased ways at launching—an earthy avalanche. Presently the rough, rattling, and crashing sound, from the disrupture of the soil, and the breaking of the branches, and tearing up by the roots of the largest trees, gave warning of some tremendous incident. The lights in the huts still burned, but houses and all continued to slide down the declivity; and anon a loud startled exclamation was heard here and there, and then a pause, but the low mysterious hurtling sound never ceased.

At length a loud continuous yell echoed along the hillside. The noise increased—the rushing sound came stronger and stronger the river rose higher, and roared louder; it overleaped the lintel of the door—the fire on the floor hissed for a moment, and then expired in smouldering wreaths of white smoke—the discoloured torrent gurgled into the chapel, and reached the altar-piece; and while the cries from the hillside were highest, and bitterest, and most despairing, it suddenly filled the chapel to the top of the low doorpost; and although the large tapers which had been lit near the altar-piece were as yet unextinguished, like meteors sparkling on a troubled sea, all was misery and consternation.

“Have patience, and be composed, now,” shouted Don Ricardo. “If it increases, we can escape through the apertures here, behind the altar piece, and from thence to the high ground beyond. The heavy rain has loosened the soil on the opposite bank, and it has slid into the river course, negro houses and all. But be composed, my dears nothing supernatural in all this; and rest assured, although the river has unquestionably been forced from its channel, that there is no danger, if you will only maintain your self-possession.”

And there we were—an inhabitant of a cold climate cannot go along with me in the description. We were all alarmed, but we were not chilled cold is a great daunter of bravery. At New Orleans, the black regiments, in the heart of the forenoon, were really the most efficient corps of the army; but in the morning, when the hoarfrost was on the long wire-grass, they were but as a broken reed. “Him too cold for brave today,” said the sergeant of the grenadier company of the West India regiment, which was brigaded in the ill-omened advance, when we attacked New Orleans; but here, having heat, and seeing none of the women egregiously alarmed, we all took heart of grace, and really there was no quailing amongst us.

Senora Campana and her two nieces, Senora Cangrejo and her angelic daughter, had all betaken themselves to a sort of seat, enclosing the altar in a semicircle, with the pea soup-coloured water up to their knees. Not a word—not an exclamation of fear escaped from them, although the gushing eddies from the open door showed that the soil from the opposite hill was fast settling down, and usurping the former channel of the river.

“All very fine this to read of,” at last exclaimed Aaron Bang. “Zounds, we shall be drowned. Look out, Transom; Tom Cringle, look out; for my part, I shall dive through the door, and take my chance.”

“No use in that,” said Don Ricardo; “the two round openings there at the west end of the chapel, open on a dry shelf, from which the ground slopes easily upward to the house; let us put the ladies through them, and then we males can shift for ourselves as we best may.”

At this moment the water rose so high, that the bier on which the corpse of poor Maria Olivera lay stark and stiff, was floated off the trestles, and turning on its edge, after glancing for a moment in the light cast by the wax tapers, it sank into the thick brown water, and was no more seen.

The old priest murmured a prayer, but the effect on us was electric. “Sauve qui peut” was now the cry; and Sneezer, quite in his element, began to cruise all about, threatening the tapers with instant extinction.

“Ladies, get through the holes,” shouted Don Ricardo. “Captain, get you out first.”

“Can’t desert my ship,” said the gallant fellow; “the last to quit where danger is, my dear sir. It is my charter; but, Mr Cringle, go you, and hand the ladies out.”

“I’ll be d——d if I do,” said I. “Beg pardon, sir; I simply mean to say, that I cannot usurp the pas from you.”

“Then,” quoth Don Ricardo—a more discreet personage than any one of us “I will go myself;” and forthwith he screwed himself through one of the round holes in the wall behind the altar-piece. “Give me out one of the wax tapers—there is no wind now,” said Don Ricardo “and hand out my wife, Captain Transom.”

“Ave Maria!” said the matron, “I shall never get through that hole.”

“Try, my dear madam,” said Bang, for by this time we were all deucedly alarmed at our situation. “Try, madam;” and we lifted her towards the hole—fairly entered her into it head foremost, and all was smooth, till a certain part of the excellent woman’s earthly tabernacle stuck fast.

We could hear her invoking all the saints in the calendar on the outside to “make her thin;” but the flesh and muscle were obdurate through she would not go, until—delicacy being now blown to the winds, Captain Transom placed his shoulder to the old lady’s extremity, and with the regular “Oh, heave oh!” shot her through the aperture into her husband’s arms. The young ladies we ejected much more easily, although Francesca Cangrejo did stick a little too. The priest was next passed, then Don Picador; and so we went on, until in rotation we had all made our exit, and were perched shivering on the high bank. God defend us! we had not been a minute there when the rushing of the stream increased the rain once more fell in torrents several large trees came down with a fearful impetus in the roaring torrent, and struck the corner of the chapel. It shook—we could see the small cross on the eastern gable tremble. Another stump surged against it—it gave way—and in a minute afterwards there was not a vestige remaining of the whole fabric.

“What a funeral for thee, Maria!” said Don Ricardo.

Not a vestige of the body was ever found.

There was nothing now for it. We all stopped, and turned, and looked, there was not a stone of the building to be seen—all was red precipitous bank, or dark flowing river—so we turned our steps towards the house. The sun by this time had risen. We found the northern range of rooms still entire, so we made the most of it; and, by dint of the Captain’s and my nautical skill, before dinner-time, there was rigged a canvass jury-roof over the southern part of the fabric, and we were once-more seated in comparative comfort at our meal. But it was all melancholy work enough. However, at last we retired to our beds; and next morning, when I awoke, there was the small stream once more trickling over the face of the rock, with the slight spray wafting into my bedroom, a little discoloured certainly, but as quietly as if no storm had taken place.

We were kept at Don Picador’s for three days, as, from the shooting of the soil from the opposite hill, the river had been dammed up, and its channel altered, so that there was no venturing across. Three Negroes were unfortunately drowned, when the bank shot, as Bang called it. But the wonder passed away; and by nine o’clock on the fourth morning, when we mounted our mules to proceed, there was little apparently on the fair face of nature to mark that such fearful scenes had been. However, when we did get under weigh, we found that the hurricane had not passed over us without leaving fearful evidences of its violence.

We had breakfasted—the women had wept—Don Ricardo had blown his nose— Aaron Bang had blundered and fidgeted about and the bestias were at the door. We embraced the ladies.

“My son,” said Senora Cangrejo, “we shall most likely never meet again. You have your country to go to—you have a mother. Oh, may she never suffer the pangs which have wrung my heart But I know—I know that she never will.” I bowed. “We may never indeed, in all likelihood we shall never meet again!” continued she, in a rich, deep-toned, mellow voice; “but if your way of life shall ever lead you to Cordova, you will be sure of having many visitors, and many a door will open to you, if you will but give out that you have shown kindness to Maria Olivera, or to any one connected with her.” She wept—and bent over me, pressing both her hands on the crown of my head. “May that great God, who careth not for rank or station, for nation or for country, bless you, my son—bless you!”

All this was sorry work. She kissed me on the forehead, and turned away. Her daughter was standing close to her, “like Niobe, all tears.” “Farewell, Mr Cringle—may you be happy!” I kissed her hand—she turned to the Captain. He looked inexpressible things, and taking her hand, held it to his breast; and then, making a slight genuflection, pressed it to his lips. He appeared to be amazingly energetic, and she seemed to struggle to be released. He recovered himself, however—made a solemn bow——the ladies vanished. We shook hands with old Don Picador, mounted our mules, and bid a last adieu to the Valley of the Hurricane.

We ambled along for some time in silence. At length the skipper dropped astern, until he got alongside of me. “I say, Tom”—I was well aware that he never called me Tom unless he was fou, or his heart was full, honest man—“Tom, what think you of Francesca Cangrejo?”

Oh ho! sits the wind in that quarter? thought I. “Why, I don’t know, Captain—I have seen her to disadvantage—so much misery fine woman though—rather large to my taste—but....”

“Confound your buts,” quoth the Captain. “But, never mind push on, push on.”—I may tell the gentle reader in his ear, that the worthy fellow, at the moment when I send this chapter to the press, has his flag, and that Francesca Cangrejo is no less a personage than his wife.

However, let us get along. “Doctor Pavo Real,” said Don Ricardo,.now since you have been good enough to spare us a day, let us get the heart of your secret out of you. Why, you must have been pretty well frightened on the island there.’

“Never so much frightened in my life, Don Ricardo; that English captain is a most tempestuous man—but all has ended well; and after having seen you to the crossing, I will bid you good-by.”

“Poo—nonsense.” “Come along—here is the English Medico, your brother Esculapius; so, come along, you can return in the morning.” “But the sick folk in Santiago....”

“Will be none the sicker for your absence, Doctor Pavo Real,” responded Don Ricardo.

The little Doctor laughed, and away we all cantered—Don Ricardo leading, followed by his wife and nieces, on three stout mules, sitting, not on side-saddles, but on a kind of chair, with a foot-board on the larboard side to support the feet—then followed the two Calens, and little Reefpoint, while the Captain and I brought up the rear. We had not proceeded five hundred yards, when we were brought to a stand-still by a mighty tree, which had been thrown down by the wind fairly across the road. On the right hand there was a perpendicular rock rising up to a height of five hundred feet; and on the left an equally precipitous descent, without either ledge or parapet to prevent one from falling over. What was to be done? We could not by any exertion of strength remove the tree; and if we sent back for assistance, it would have been a work of time. SO we dismounted, got the ladies to alight, and Aaron Bang, Transom, and myself, like true knights-errant, undertook to ride the mulos over the stump.

Aaron Bang led gallantly, and made a deuced good jump of it, Transom followed, and made not quite so clever an exhibition—I then rattled at it, and down came mule and rider. However, we were accounted for on the right side.

“But what shall become of us?” shouted the English doctor.

“And as for me, I shall return,” said the Spanish Medico.

“Lord love you, no,” said little Reefpoint; “here, lash me to my beast, and no fear.” The doctor made him fast, as desired, round the mule’s neck with a stout thong, and then drove him at the barricade, and over they came, man and beast, although, to tell the truth, little Reefy alighted well out on the neck with a hand grasping each ear. However, he was a gallant little fellow, and in nowise discouraged, so he undertook to bring over the other quadrupeds; and in little more than a quarter of an hour we were all under weigh on the opposite side, in full sail towards Don Ricardo’s property. But as we proceeded up the valley, the destruction caused by the storm became more and more apparent. Trees were strewn about in, all directions, having been tom up by the roots—road there was literally none; and by the time we reached the coffee estate, after a ride, or scramble, more properly speaking, of three hours, we were all pretty much tired. In some places the road at the best was but a rocky shelf of Limestone not exceeding twelve inches in width, where, if you had slipped, down you would have gone a thousand feet. At this time it was white and clean, as if it had been newly chiselled, all the soil and sand having been washed away by the recent heavy rains.

The situation was beautiful; the house stood on a platform scraped out of the hillside, with a beautiful view of the whole country down to St Jago. The accommodation was good; more comforts, more English comforts, in the mansion than I had yet seen in Cuba; and as it was built of solid slabs of limestone, and roofed with strong hardwood timbers and rafters, and tiled, it had sustained comparatively little injury, as it had the advantage of being at the same time sheltered by the overhanging cliff. It stood in the middle of a large platform of hard sun-dried clay, plastered over, and as white as chalk, which extended about forty feet from the eaves of the house, in every direction, on which the coffee was cured. This platform was surrounded on all sides by the greenest grass I had ever seen, and overshadowed, not the house alone, but the whole level space, by one vast wild fig-tree.

“I say, Tom, do you see that Scotchman hugging the Creole, eh?”

“Scotchman!” said I, looking towards Don Ricardo, who certainly did not appear to be particularly amorous; on the contrary, we had just alighted, and the worthy man was enacting groom.

“Yes,” continued Bang, “the Scotchman hugging the Creole; look at that tree—do you see the trunk of it?”

I did look at it. It was a magnificent cedar, with a tall straight stem, covered over with a curious sort of fretwork, wove by the branches of some strong parasitical plant, which had warped itself round and round it, by numberless snakelike convolutions, as if it had been a vegetable Laocoon. The tree itself shot up branchless to the uncommon height of fifty feet; the average girth of the hunk being four-and twenty feet, or eight-feet in diameter. The leaf of the cedar is small, not unlike the ash; but when I looked up, I noticed that the feelers of this ligneous serpent had twisted round the larger boughs, and blended their broad leaves with those of the tree, so that it looked like two trees grafted into one; but, as Aaron Bang said, in a very few years the cedar would entirely disappear, its growth being impeded, its pith extracted, and its core rotted, by the baleful embraces of the wild fig, of “this Scotchman hugging the Creole.” After we had fairly shaken into our places, there was every promise of a very pleasant visit. Our host had a tolerable cellar, and although there was not much of style in his establishment, still there was a fair allowance of comfort, every thing considered. The evening after we arrived was most beautiful. The house, situated on its white plateau of barbicues, as the coffee platforms are called, where large piles of the berries in their red cherry like husks had been blackening in the sun the whole forenoon, and on which a gang of negroes was now employed covering them up with tarpawlins for the night, stood in the centre of an amphitheatre of mountains, the front box, as it were, the stage part opening on a bird’s eye-view of the distant town and harbour, with the everlasting ocean beyond it, the currents and flaws of wind making its surface look like ice, as we were too distant to discern the heaving of the swell, or the motion of the billows. The fast falling shades of evening were deepened by the sombrous shadow of the immense tree overhead, and all down in the deep valley was now becoming dark and undistinguishable, through the blue vapours that were gradually floating up towards us. To the left, on the shoulder of the Horseshoe Hill, the sunbeams still lingered, and the gigantic shadows of the trees on the right hand prong were strongly cast across the valley on a red precipitous bank near the top of it. The sun was descending beyond the wood, flashing through the branches, as if they had been on fire. He disappeared. It was a most lovely still evening—the air—but hear the skipper.

     “It is the hour when from the boughs,
     The nightingale’s high note is heard;
     It is the hour when lovers vows,
     Seem sweet in every whisper’d word;
     And gentle winds and waters near,
     Make music to the lonely ear.
     Each flower the dews have lightly wet,
     And in the sky the stars are met,
     And on the wave is deeper blue,
     And on the leaf is browner hue,
     And in the heaven that clear obscure,
     So softly dark, and darkly pure,
     Which follows the decline of day,
     When twilight melts beneath the moon away.”

“Well recited, skipper,” shouted Bang. “Given as the noble poet’s verses should be given. I did not know the extent of your accomplishments; grown poetical ever since you saw Francesca Cangrejo, eh?”

The darkness hid the gallant captain’s blushes, if blush he did.

“I say, Don Ricardo, who are those?”—half-a-dozen well-clad negroes had approached the house by this time—“Ask them, Mr Bang; take your friend Mr Cringle for an interpreter.”

“Well, I will. Tom, who are they? Ask them—do.”

I put the question, “Do you belong to the property?”

The foremost, a handsome Negro answered me, “No, we don’t, sir; at least, not till tomorrow.”

“Not till tomorrow?”

“No, sir; somos caballeros hoy” (we are gentlemen to-day.)

“Gentlemen today; and, pray, what shall you be tomorrow?”

“Esclavos otra ves,” (slaves again, sir,) rejoined the poor fellow, nowise daunted.

“And you, my darling,” said I to a nice well-dressed girl, who seemed to be the sister of the spokesman, “.what are you today, may I ask?”

She laughed—“Esclava, a slave to-day, but to-morrow I shall be free.”

“Very strange.”

“Not at all, senor; there are six of us in a family, and one of us is free each day, all to father there,” pointing to an old grey-headed negro, who stood by, leaning on his staff—“he is free two days in the week; and as I am going to have a child,”—a cool admission,—“I want to buy another day for myself too—but Don Ricardo will tell you all about it.”

The Don by this time chimed in, talking kindly to the poor creatures; but we had to retire, as dinner was now announced, to which we sat down.

Don Ricardo had been altogether Spanish in Santiago, because he lived there amongst Spaniards, and every thing was Spanish about him; so with the tact of his countrymen he had gradually been merged into the society in which he moved, and having married a very high caste Spanish lady, he at length became regularly amalgamated with the community. But here, in his mountain retreat, sole master, his slaves in attendance on him, he was once more an Englishman, in externals, as he always was at heart, and Richie Cloche, from the Lang Toon of Kirkaldy, shone forth in all his glory as the kind hearted landlord. His head household servant was an English, or rather a Jamaica negro; his equipment, so far as the dinner set out was concerned, was pure English; he would not even speak any thing but English himself.

The entertainment was exceedingly good,—the only thing that puzzled us uninitiated subjects, was a fricassee of Macaca worms, that is, the worm which breeds in the rotten trunk of the cotton-tree, a beautiful little insect, as big as a miller’s thumb, with a white trunk and a black head in one word, a gigantic caterpillar.

Bang fed thereon—he had been accustomed to it in Jamaica in some Creole families where he visited, he said—but it was beyond my compass. However, all this while we were having a great deal of fun, when Senora Campana addressed her husband—“My dear, you are now in your English mood, so I suppose we must go.” We had dined at six, and it might now be about eight. Don Ricardo, with all the complacency in the world, bowed, as much as to say, you are right, my dear, you may go, when his youngest niece addressed him.

“Tio—my uncle,” said she, in a low silver-toned voice, “Juana and I have brought our guitars”—

“Not another word to be said,” quoth Transom—“the guitars by all means.”

The girls in an instant, without any preparatory blushing, or other botheration, rose, slipped their heads and right arms through the black ribbons that supported their instruments, and stepped into the middle of the room.

“The Moorish Maid of Granada,” said Senora Campana. They nodded.

“You shall take Fernando, the sailor’s part,” said Senora Candalaria, the youngest sister, to Juana, “for your voice is deeper than mine, and I shall be Anna.”

“Agreed,” said Juana, with a lovely smile, and an arch twinkle of her eye towards me, and then launched forth in full tide, accompanying her sweet and mellow voice on that too much neglected instrument, the guitar. It was a wild, irregular sort of ditty, with one or two startling arabesque bursts in it. As near as may be, the following conveys the meaning, but not the poetry.

     The Moorish Maid of Granada


     The setting moon hangs over the hill;
     On the dark pure breast of the mountain lake
     Still trembles her greenish silver wake,
     And the blue mist floats over the rill.
     And the cold streaks of dawning appear,
     Giving token that sunrise is near;
     And the fast clearing east is flushing,
     And the watery clouds are blushing;
     And the day-star is sparkling on high,
     Like the fire of my Anna’s dark eye.
     The ruby-red clouds in the east
     Float like islands upon the sea,
     When the winds are asleep on its breast;
     Ah, would that such calm were for me!

     And see, the first streamer-like ray
     From the unrisen god of day,
     Is piercing the ruby-red clouds,
     Shooting up like golden shrouds:
     And like silver gauze falls the shower,
     Leaving diamonds on bank, bush, and bower,
     Amidst many unopened flower.
     Why walks the dark maid of Granada?


     At evening when labour is done,
     And cool’d in the sea is the sun;
     And the dew sparkles clear on the rose,
     And the flowers are beginning to close,
     Which at nightfall again in the calm.

     Their incense to God breathe in balm;
     And the bat flickers up in the sky,
     And the beetle hums moaningly by;
     And to rest in the brake speeds the deer,
     While the nightingale sings loud and clear.

     Scorched by the heat of the sun’s fierce light,
     The sweetest flowers are bending most
     Upon their slender stems;
     More faint are they than if tempest tost,
     Till they drink of the sparkling gems
     That fall from the eye of night.

     Hark! from lattices guitars are tinkling,
     And though in heaven the stars are twinkling,
     No tell-tale moon looks over the mountain,
     To peer at her pale cold face in the fountain;
     And serenader’s mellow voice,
     Wailing of war, or warbling of love,
     Of love, while the melting maid of his choice,
     Leans out from her bower above.

     All is soft and yielding towards night,
     When blending darkness shrouds all from the sight;
     But chaste, chaste, is this cold, pure light,
     Sang the Moorish maid of Granada.

After the song, we all applauded, and the ladies having made their conges, retired. The Captain and I looked towards Aaron Bang and Don Ricardo; they were tooth and nail at something which we could not understand. So we wisely held our tongues.

“Very strange all this,” quoth Bang.

“Not at all,” said Ricardo. “As I tell you, every slave here can have himself or herself appraised, at any time they may choose, with liberty to purchase their freedom day by day.”

“But that would be compulsory manunmission,” quoth Bang.

“And if it be,” said Ricardo, “what then? The scheme works well here why should it not do so there—I mean with you, who have so many advantages over us?”

This is an unentertaining subject to most people, but having no bias myself, I have considered it but justice to insert in my log the following letter, which Bang, honest fellow, addressed to me, some years after the time I speak of.


“Since I last saw you in London, it is nearly, but not quite, three years ago. I considered at the time we parted, that if I lived at the rate of L3000 a-year, I was not spending one-half of my average income, and on the faith of this I did plead guilty to my house in Park Lane, and a carriage for my wife,——and, in short, I spent my L3000 a year. Where am I now? In the old shop at Mammee Gully—my two eldest daughters, little things, in the very middle of their education, hastily ordered out, shipped as it were, like two bales of goods to Jamaica—my eldest nephew, whom I had adopted, obliged to exchange from the—Light Dragoons, and to enter a foot regiment, receiving the difference, which but cleared him from his mess accounts. But the world says I was extravagant. Like Timon, however—No, d——n Timon. I spent money when I thought I had it, and therein I did no more than the Duke of Bedford, or Lord Grosvenor or many another worthy peer; and now when I no longer have it, why, I cut my coat by my cloth, have made up my mind to perpetual banishment here, and I owe no man a farthing.”

But all this is wandering from the subject. We are now asked in direct terms to free our slaves. I will not even glance at the injustice of this demand, the horrible infraction of rights that it would lead to; all this I will leave untouched; but, my dear fellow, were men in your service or the army to do us justice, each in his small sphere in England, how much good might you not do us? Officers of rank are, of all others, the most influential witnesses we could adduce, if they, like you, have had opportunities of judging for themselves. But I am rambling from my object. You may remember our escapade into Cuba, a thousand years ago, when you were a lieutenant of the Firebrand. Well, you may also remember Don Ricardo’s doctrine regarding the gradual emancipation of the negroes, and how we saw his plan in full operation at least I did, for you knew little of these matters. Well, last year I made a note of what then passed, and sent it to an eminent West India merchant in London, who had it published in the Courier, but it did not seem to please either one party or the other; a signal proof, one would have thought, that there was some good in it. At a later period, I requested the same gentleman to have it published in Blackwood, where it would at least have had a fair trial on its own merits, but it was refused insertion. My very worthy friend, who acted for old Kit at that time as secretary of state for colonial affairs, did not like it, I presume; it trenched a little, it would seem, on the integrity of his great question; it approached to something like compulsory manumission, about which he does rave. Why will he not think on this subject like a Christian man? The country—I say so—will never sanction the retaining in bondage of any slave, who is willing to pay his master his fair appraised value.

Our friend——injures us, and himself too, a leetle by his ultra notions. However, hear what I propose, and what, as I have told you formerly, was published in the Courier by no less a man than Lord——.

Scheme for the gradual Abolition of Slavery.

The following scheme of redemption for the slaves in our colonies is akin to a practice that prevails in some of the Spanish settlements.

We have now bishops, (a most excellent measure,) and we may presume that the inferior clergy will be much more efficient than heretofore. It is therefore proposed,—That every slave, on attaining the age of twenty one years, should be, by act of Parliament, competent to apply to his parish clergyman, and signify his desire to be appraised. The clergyman’s business would then be to select two respectable appraisers from amongst his parishioners, who should value the slave, calling in an umpire if they disagreed.

As men even of good principles will often be more or less swayed by the peculiar interests of the body to which they belong, the rector should be instructed, if he saw any flagrant swerving from an honest appraisement, to notify the same to his bishop, who, by application to the governor, if need were, could thereby rectify it. When the slave was thus valued, the valuation should be registered by the rector, in a book to be kept for that purpose, an attested copy of which should be annually lodged amongst the archives of the colony.

We shall assume a case, where a slave is valued for L120, Jamaica currency. He soon, by working by-hours, selling the produce of his provision grounds, etc. Acquires L20; and how easily and frequently this is done, every one knows, who is at all acquainted with West India affairs.

He then shall have a right to pay to his owner this L20 as the price of his Monday for ever, and his owner shall be bound to receive it. A similar sum would purchase him his freedom on Tuesday; and other four instalments, to use a West India phrase, would buy him free altogether. You will notice, I consider that he is already free on the Sunday. Now, where is the insurmountable difficulty here? The planter may be put to inconvenience, certainly, great inconvenience, but he has compensation, and the slave has his freedom—if he deserves it; and as his emancipation in nine cases out of ten would be a work of time, he would, as he approached absolute freedom, become more civilized, that is, more fit to be free; and as he became more civilized, new wants would spring up, so that when he was finally free, he would not be content to work a day or two in the week for subsistence merely. He would work the whole six to buy many little comforts, which, as a slave suddenly emancipated, he never would have thought of.

As the slave becomes free, I would have his owner’s allowance of provisions and clothing decrease gradually.

It may be objected—suppose slaves partly free, to be taken in execution, and sold for debt. I answer, let them be so. Why cannot three days of a man’s labour be sold by the deputy marshal as well as six?

Again—Suppose the gang is mortgaged, or liable to judgments against the owner of it. I still answer, let it be so—only, in this case let the slave pay his instalments into court, in place of paying them to his owners, and let him apply to his rector for information in such a case.

By the register I would have kept, every one could at once see what property an owner had in his gang—that is, how many were actually slaves, and how many were in progress of becoming free. Thus well disposed and industrious slaves would soon become freemen. But the idle and worthless would still continue slaves, and why the devil shouldn’t they?

(Signed) A. B——.

There does seem to be a rough, yet vigorous sound sense in all this. But I take leave of the subject, which I do not profess to understand; only I am willing to bear witness in favour of my old friends, so far as I can, conscientiously.

We returned next day to Santiago, and had then to undergo the bitterness of parting. With me it was a slight affair, but the skipper! However, I will not dwell on it. We reached the town towards evening. The women were ready to weep, I saw; but we all turned in, and next morning at breakfast we were moved, I will admit—some more, some less. Little Reefy, poor fellow, was crying like a child; indeed he was little more, being barely fifteen.

“Oh! Mr Cringle, I wish I had never seen Miss Candalaria de los Dolores; indeed I do.”

This was Don Ricardo’s youngest niece.

“Ah, Reefy, Reefy,” said I, “you must make haste, and be made post, and then....”

“What does he call her?” said Aaron.

“Senora Tomassa Candalaria de los Dolores Gonzales y Vallejo,” blubbered out little Reefy.

“What a complicated piece of machinery she must be!” gravely rejoined Bang.

The meal was protracted to a very unusual length, but time and tide wait for no man. We rose. Aaron Bang advanced to make his bow to our kind hostess; he held out his hand, but she, to Aaron’s great surprise apparently, pushed it on one side and regularly closing with our friend, hugged him in right earnest. I have before mentioned that she was a very small woman; so, as the devil would have it, the golden pin in her hair was thrust into Aaron’s eye, which made him jump back, wherein he lost his balance, and away he went, dragging Madama Campana down on the top of him. However, none of us could—laugh now; we parted, jumped into our boat, and proceeded straight to the anchorage, where three British merchantmen were by this time riding all ready for sea. We got on board. “Mr Yerk,” said the Captain, “fire a gun, and hoist blue Peter at the fore. Loose the foretopsail.” The masters came on board for their instructions; we passed but a melancholy evening of it, and next morning I took my last look of Santiago de Cuba.

CHAPTER XV.—The Cruise of the Wave. The Action with the Slaver.

    ‘O’er the glad waters of the dark blue sea,
    Our thoughts as boundless, and our souls as free,
    Far as the breeze can bear the billow’s foam,
    Survey our empire, and behold our home.
    These are our realms, no limits to their sway.
    Our flag the sceptre all who meet obey.’ 

    Byron, The Corsair, I. 1-6.

At three o’clock next morning, about an hour and a half before daydawn, I was roused from my cot by the gruff voice of the boatswain on deck “All hands up anchor.”

The next moment the gunroom steward entered with a lantern, which he placed on the table—“Gentlemen, all hands up anchor, if you please.”

“Botheration!” grumbled one.

“Oh dear!” yawned another.

“How merrily we live that sailors be!” sung another in a most doleful strain, and in all the bitterness of heart consequent on being roused out of a warm nest so unceremoniously. But no help for it; so up we all got, and opening the door of my berth, I got out, and sat me down on the bench that ran along the starboard side of the table.

For the benefit of the uninitiated, let me describe a gunroom on board of a sloop of war. Everybody knows that the Captain’s cabin occupies the after part of the ship; next to it, on the same deck, is the gunroom. In a corvette, such as the Firebrand, it is a room, as, near as may be, twenty feet long by twelve wide, and lighted by a long scuttle, or skylight, in the deck above. On each side of this room runs a row of small chambers, seven feet long by six feet wide, boarded off from the main saloon, or, in nautical phrase, separated from it by bulkheads, each with a door and small window opening into the same, and, generally speaking, with a small scuttle in the side of the ship towards the sea. These are the officers’ sleeping apartments, in which they have each a chest of drawers and basin-stand; while overhead is suspended a cot, or hammock, kept asunder by a wooden frame, six feet long by about two broad, slung from cleats nailed to the beams above, by two lanyards fastened to rings, one at the head, and the other at the foot; from which radiate a number of smaller cords, which are fastened to the canvass of the cot; while a small strip of canvass runs from head to foot on each side, so as to prevent the sleeper from rolling out. The dimensions of the gunroom are, as will be seen, very much circumscribed by the side berths; and when you take into account, that the centre is occupied by a long table, running the whole length of the room, flanked by a wooden bench, with a high back to it, on each side, and a large clumsy chair at the head, and another at the foot, not forgetting the sideboard at the head of the table, (full of knives, forks, spoons, tumblers, glasses &c. &c. &c. stuck into mahogany sockets,) all of which are made fast to the deck by strong cleats and staples, and bands of spunyarn, so as to prevent them fetching way, or moving, when the vessel pitches or rolls, you will understand that there is no great scope to expatiate upon, free of the table, benches, and bulkheads of the cabins. While I sat monopolizing the full light of the lantern, and accoutring myself as decently as the hurry would admit of, I noticed the officers, in their nightgowns and night-caps, as they extricated themselves from their coops; and picturesque-looking subjects enough there were amongst them, in all conscience. At length, that is in about ten minutes from the time we were called, we were all at stations—a gun was fired, and we weighed, and then stood out to sea, running along about four knots, with the land—wind right aft. Having made an offing of three miles or so, we outran the terral, and got becalmed in the belt of smooth water between it and the sea-breeze. It was striking to see the three merchant-ships gradually draw out from the land, until we were all clustered together in a bunch, with a half a gale of wind curling the blue waves within musket-shot, while all was long swell and smooth water with us. At length the breeze reached us, and we made sail with our convoy to the southward and eastward, the lumbering merchantmen crowding every inch of canvass, while we could hardly keep astern, under close-reefed topsails, foresail, jib, and spanker.

“Pipe to breakfast,” said the Captain to Mr Yerk.

“A sail abeam of us to windward!”

“What is she?” sung out the skipper to the man at the masthead who had hailed.

“A small schooner, sir; she has fired a gun, and hoisted an ensign and pennant.”

“How is she steering?”

“She has edged away for us, sir.”

“Very well.—Mr Yerk, make the signal for the convoy to stand on.” Then to the boatswain—

“Mr Catwell, have the men gone to breakfast?”

“No, sir, but they are just going.”

“Then pipe belay with breakfast for a minute, will you? All hands make sail!”

“Crack on, Mr Yerk, and let us overhaul this small swaggerer.”

In a trice we had all sail set, and were staggering along on the larboard tack, close upon a wind. We hauled out from the merchant ships like smoke, and presently the schooner was seen from the deck.—“Go to breakfast now.” The crew disappeared, all to the officers, man at the helm, quartermaster at the conn, and signalman.

The first lieutenant had the book open on the drum of the capstan before him. “Make our number,” said the Captain. It was done. “What does she answer?”

The signalman answered from the fore-rigging, where he had perched himself with his glass—“She makes the signal to telegraph, sir—3, 9, 2, at the fore, sir”—and so on; which translated was simply this—“The Wave, with despatches from the admiral.”

“Oh, ho,” said Transom; “what is she sent for? Whenever the people have got their breakfast, tack, and stand towards her, Mr Yerk.”

The little vessel approached.—“Shorten sail, Mr Yerk, and heave the ship to,” said the Captain to the first lieutenant.

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“All hands, Mr Catwell.”

Presently the boatswain’s whistle rung sharp and clear, while his gruff voice, to which his mates bore any thing but mellow burdens, echoed through the ship—“All hands shorten sail-fore and mainsails haul up-haul down to jib—in topgallant sails—now back the main-topsail.”

By heaving-to, we brought the Wave on our weather bow. She was now within a cable’s length of the corvette; the captain was standing on the second foremost, gun, on the larboard side. “Mafame,” to his steward, “hand me up my trumpet.” He hailed the little vessel “Ho, the Wave, ahoy!”

Presently the responding “hillo” came down the wind to us from the officer in command of her, like an echo—“Run under our stern and heave to, to leeward.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

As the Wave came to the wind, she lowered down her boat, and Mr Jigmaree, the boatswain of the dockyard in Jamaica, came on board, and, touching his hat, presented his despatches to the Captain. Presently he and the skipper retired into the cabin, and all hands were inspecting the Wave in her new character of one of his Britannic Majesty’s cruisers. When I had last seen her she was a most beautiful little craft, both in hull and rigging, as ever delighted the eye of a sailor; but the dockyard riggers and carpenters had fairly bedeviled her, at least so far as appearances went. First, they had replaced the light rail on her gunwale, by heavy solid bulwarks four feet high, surmounted by hammock nettings, at least another foot, so that the symmetrical little vessel, that formerly floated on the foam light as a seagull, now looked like a clumsy dish-shaped Dutch dogger. Her long slender wands of masts, which used to swig about, as if there were neither shrouds nor stays to support them, were now as taut and stiff as church steeples, with four heavy shrouds of a side, and stays and back-stays, and the Devil knows what all.

“Now,” quoth Tailtackle, “if them heave’em taughts at the yard have not taken the speed out of the little beauty, I am a Dutchman.” Timotheus, I may state in the bygoing, was not a Dutchman; he was fundamentally any thing but a Dutchman; but his opinion was sound, and soon verified to my cost. Jigmaree now approached.

“The Captain wants you in the cabin, sir,” said he. I descended, and found the skipper seated at a table with his clerk beside him, and several open letters lying before him. “Sit down, Mr Cringle.” I took a chair. “There—read that,” and he threw an open letter across the table to me, which ran as follows:


“The Vice—Admiral, commanding on the Jamaica station, desires me to say, that the bearer, the boatswain of the dockyard, Mr Luke Jigmaree, has instructions to cruise for, and if possible to fall in with you, before you weather Cape Maize, and falling in with you, to deliver up charge of the vessel to you, as well as of the five negroes, and the pilot, Peter Mangrove, who are on board of her. The Wave having been armed and fitted with every thing considered necessary, you are to man her with thirty-five of your crew, including officers, and to place her under the command of Lieutenant Thomas Cringle, who is to be furnished with a copy of this letter authenticated by your signature, and to whom you will give written instructions, that he is first of all to cruise in the great Cuba channel, until the 14th proximo, for the prevention of piracy, and the suppression of the slave-trade carried on between the island of Cuba and the coast of Africa, and to detain and carry into Havanna, or Nassau, New Providence, all vessels having slaves on board, which he may have reason to believe have been shipped beyond the prescribed limits on the African coast as specified in the margin; and after the 14th he is to proceed direct to New Providence if unsuccessful, there to land Mr Jigmaree, and the dockyard negroes, and await your return from the northward, after having seen the merchantmen clear of the Caicos passage. When you have rejoined the Wave at Nassau, you are to proceed with her as your tender to Crooked Island, and there to await instructions from the Vice-Admiral, which shall be transmitted by the packet to sail on the 9th proximo, to the care of the postmaster. I have the honour to be, sir, your obedient servant.”

————, Sec.

To the Hon. Captain Transom, etc.

To say sooth, I was by no means amorous of this independent command, as an idea had, at the time I speak of, gone abroad in the navy, the lieutenants, commanding small vessels, seldom rose higher, unless through extraordinary interest, and I took the liberty of stating my repugnance to my captain.

He smiled, and threw over another letter to me; it was a private one from the Admiral’s Secretary, and was as follows:(Confidential.)


“The Vice Admiral has got a hint from Sir——, to kick that wild splice, young Cringle, about a bit. It seems he is a nephew of Old Blueblazes, and as he has taken a fancy to the lad, he has promised his mother that he will do his utmost to give him opportunities of being knocked on the head, for all of which the old lady has professed herself wonderfully indebted. As the puppy has peculiar notions, hint, directly or indirectly, that he is not to be permanently bolted down to the little and that if half a dozen skippers (you, my darling, among the rest) were to evaporate during the approaching hot months, he may have some small chance of t’other swab. Write me, and mind the claret and curacoa. Put no address on either; and on coming to anchor, send notice to old Peterkin in the lodge at the Master Attendant’s, and he will relieve you and the pies de gallo, some calm evening, of all farther trouble regarding them. Don’t forget the turtle from Crooked Island, and the cigars.”

“Always, my dear Transom,”

“Yours sincerely,”

“Oh, I forgot. The Admiral begs you will spare him some steady old hands to act as gunner, boatswain, &c.—elderly men, if you please, who will shorten sail before the squall strikes him. If you float him away with a crew of boys, the little scamp will get bothered, or capsized, in a jiffy. All this for your worship’s government. How do you live with your passenger—prime follow, an’t he? My love to him. Lady——is dying to see him again.”

“WELL, MR CRINGLE, what say you?”

“Of course, I must obey, sir;—highly flattered by Mr Secretary’s good opinion, any how.”

The Captain laughed heartily.

“It is nearly calm, I see. We must set about manning this seventy four for you, without delay. So, come along, Captain Cringle.”

When we got on deck,—“Hail the Wave to close, Mr Yerk,” said Transom. “Lower away the boat, and pipe away the yaulers, boatswain’s mate.”

Presently the Captain and I were on the Wave’s deck, where I was much surprised to find no less personages than Pepperpot Wagtail, and Paul Gelid, Esquires. Mr Gelid, a conch, or native of the Bahamas, was the same yawning, drawling, long-legged Creole as ever. He had been ill with fever, and had asked a passage to Nassau, where his brother was established. At bottom, however, he was an excellent fellow, warm hearted, honourable, and upright. As for little Wagtail—oh, he was a delight!—a small round man, with all the Jamaica Creole irritability of temper, but also all the Jamaica warmth of heart about him straightforward, and scrupulously conscientious in his dealings, but devoted to good cheer in every shape. He had also been ailing, and had adventured on the cruise in order to recruit. I scarcely know how to describe his figure better than by comparing his corpus to an egg, with his little feet stuck through the bottom of the shell; but he was amazingly active withal.

Both the Captain and myself were rejoiced to see our old friends; and it was immediately fixed that they should go on board the corvette, and sling their cots alongside of Mr Bang, so long as the courses—of the two vessels lay together. This being carried into execution, we set about our arrangements. Our precious blockheads at the dockyard had fitted a thirty-two pound carronade on the pivot, and stuck two long sixes, one on each side of the little vessel. I hate carronades. I had, before now, seen thirty-two pound shot thrown by them jump off a ship’s side with a rebound like a football, when a shot from an eighteen— pounder long gun went crash, at the same range, through both sides of the ship, whipping off a leg and arm, or aiblins a head or two, in its transit.

“My dear sir,” said I, “don’t shove me adrift with that old pot there do lend me one of your long brass eighteen-pounders.”

“Why, Master Cringle, what is your antipathy to carronades?”

“I have no absolute antipathy to them, sir—they are all very well in their way. For instance, I wish you would fit me with two twelvepound carronades instead of those two popgun long sixes. These, with thirty muskets, and thirty-five men or so, would make me very complete.”

“A modest request,” said Captain Transom.

“Now, Tom Cringle, you have overshot your mark, my fine fellow,” thought I; but it was all right, and that forenoon the cutter was hoisted out with the guns in her, and the others dismounted and sent back in exchange; and in fine, after three days’ hard work, I took the command of H.B.M. schooner, Wave, with Timothy Tailtackle as gunner, the senior midshipman as master, one of the carpenter’s crew as carpenter, and a boatswain’s-mate as boatswain, a surgeon’s mate as surgeon, the captain’s clerk as purser, and thirty foremast-men, besides the blackies, as the crew. But the sailing of the little beauty had been regularly spoiled. We could still in light winds weather on’ the corvette, it is true, but then she was a slow top, unless it blew half a gale of wind; and as for going any thing free, why a sand barge would have beaten us.—We kept company with the Firebrand until we weathered Cape Maize. It was near five o’clock in the afternoon, the corvette was about half a mile on our lee-bow, when, while walking the deck, after an early dinner, Tailtackle came up to me.

“The Commodore has hove-to, sir.”

“Very like,” said I; “to allow the merchant-ships to close, I presume.”

“A gun,” said little Reefpoint. “Ah—what signal now?”—It was the signal to close.

“Put the helm up and run down to him,” said I. It was done—and presently the comfortable feeling of bowling along before the breeze, succeeded the sharp yerking digging motion of the little vessel, tearing and pitching through a head sea, close upon a wind. The water was buzzing under our bows, and we were once more close under the stern of the corvette. There was a boat alongside ready manned. The Captain hailed, “I sent your orders on board, Mr Cringle, to bear up on your separate cruise.” At the same moment, the Firebrand’s ensign and pennant were hoisted—we did the same—a gun from the Commodore—ditto from the tidy little Wave—and lo! Thomas Cringle, esquire, launched for the first time on his own bottom.

By this time the boat was alongside, with Messieurs Aaron Bang, Pepperpot Wagtail, and Paul Gelid—the former with his cot, and half a dozen cases of wine, and some pigs, and some poultry, all under the charge of his black servant.

“Hillo,” said I—“Mr Wagtail is at home here, you know, Mr Bang, and so is Mr Gelid; but to what lucky chance am I indebted for your society, my dear sir?”

“Thank your stars, Tom—Captain Cringle, I beg pardon—and be grateful; I am sick of rumbling tumbling in company with these heavy tools of merchantmen, so I entreated Transom to let me go and take a turn with you, promising to join the Firebrand again at Nassau.”

“Why, I am delighted,”—and so I really was. “But, my dear sir—I may lead you a dance, and, peradventure into trouble—a small vessel may catch a Tartar, you know.

“D—n the expense,” rejoined my jovial ally; “why, the hot little epicurean Wagtail, and Gelid, cold and frozen as he is, have both taken a fancy to me—and no wonder, knowing my pleasant qualities as they do ahem; so, for their sakes, I volunteer on this piece of knight-errantry as much as’—

“Poo—you be starved, Aaron dear,” rapped out little Wagtail; “you came here, because you thought you should have more fun, and escape the formality of the big ship, and eke the Captain’s sour claret.”

“Ah,” said Gelid, “my fine fellow,” with his usual Creole drawl, “you did not wait for my opinion. Ah—oh—why, Captain Cringle, a thousand pardons. Friend Bang, there, swears that he can’t do without you; and all he says about me is neither more nor less than humbug—ah.”

“My lovely yellowsnake,” quoth