As Newton had foreseen, the ebb-tide was soon over; a short pause of "slack water" ensued, and there was an evident and rapid increase of the water around him: the wind, too, freshened, and the surface of the ocean was in strong ripples. As the water deepened, so did the waves increase in size: every moment added to his despair. He had now remained about four hours on the bank! the water had risen to underneath his arms, the waves nearly lifted him off his feet, and it was with difficulty that he could retain his position. Hope deserted him, and his senses became confused. He thought that he saw green fields, and cities, and inhabitants. His reason was departing; he saw his father coming down to him with the tide, and called to him for help, when the actual sight of something recalled him from his temporary aberration. There was a dark object upon the water, evidently approaching. His respiration was almost suspended as he watched its coming. At last he distinguished that it must either be a whale asleep, or a boat bottom up. Fortunately for Newton, it proved to be the latter. At last it was brought down by the tide to within a few yards of him, and appeared to be checked. Newton dashed out towards the boat, and in a minute was safely astride upon it. As soon as he had recovered a little from his agitation, he perceived that it was the very boat belonging to the brig, in which Jackson had so treacherously deserted and left him on the island!
At three o'clock it was high water, and at five the water had again retreated, so that Newton could quit his station on the bottom of the boat, and walk round her. He then righted her, and discovered that the mast had been carried away close to the step, but, with the sail, still remained fast to the boat by the main-sheet, which had jammed on the belaying pin, so that it still was serviceable. Everything else had been lost out of the boat, except the grapnel, which had been bent, and which hanging down in the water, from the boat being capsized, had brought it up when it was floated on the sand-bank. Newton, who had neither eaten nor drunk since the night before, was again in despair, tormented as he was by insufferable thirst: when he observed that the locker under the stern-sheets was closed. He hastened to pull it open, and found that the bottles of wine and cider which he had deposited there were remaining. A bottle of the latter was soon poured down his throat, and Newton felt as if restored to his former vigour.
At seven o'clock in the evening the boat was nearly high and dry. Newton baled her out, and, fixing the grapnel firmly in the sand, lay down to sleep in the stern-sheets, covered over with the sail. His sleep was so sound that he did not wake until six o'clock the next morning; when the boat was again aground. He refreshed himself with some wine, and meditated upon his prospect. Thanking Heaven for a renewed chance of escape, and lamenting over the fate of the unprepared Jackson, who had evidently been upset, from the main-sheet having been jammed, Newton resolved to make for one of the English isles, which he knew to be about two hundred miles distant.
The oars had been lost, but the rudder of the boat was fortunately made fast by a pennant. In the afternoon he drew up his grapnel, and made sail in the direction, as well as he could judge from the position of the sun, to the English isles. As the night closed in, he watched the stars, and steered his course by them.
The next day came, and, although the boat sailed well, and went fast before a free wind, no land was in sight. Newton had again recourse to the cider and the wine.
The second night he could hardly keep his eyes open; yet, wearied as he was, he still continued his course, and never quitted his helm. The day again dawned, and Newton's strength was gone, from constant watching; still he bore up against it, until the sun had set.
No land was yet to be seen, and sleep overpowered him. He took a hitch of the main-sheet round his finger, that, should the breeze freshen, he might be roused, in case he should go to sleep; and, having taken this precaution, in a few minutes the boat was steering herself.
"But man, proud man, Dress'd in a little brief authority, Most ignorant of what he's most assured, His glassy essence, like an angry ape, Plays such fantastic tricks before high Heaven." SHAKESPEARE.
The reef upon which the brig had been wrecked was one of those extending along the southward of the Virgin Isles. Newton had intended to steer well to the eastward, with the view of reaching one of the northernmost English colonies; but not having a compass, he naturally was not very equal in his course. The fact was that he steered well to the southward of it; and after he fell asleep, the boat ran away still further off her course, for she was on the larboard tack, and having no weight in her except Newton, who was aft in the stern-sheets, she did not feel inclined to keep her wind. Newton's sleep was so profound, that neither the pulling of the main-sheet, which he held with a round turn round his hand, nor the dancing of the boat, which during the night had run fast before an increasing breeze, roused him from his lethargy. On sailed the boat, left to the steerage of Providence; on slept Newton, as if putting firm reliance in the same. It was not until the break of day that his repose was very abruptly broken by a shock, which threw him from the stern-sheets of the boat, right over the aftermost thwart. Newton recovered his legs, and his senses, and found himself alongside of a vessel. He had run stem on to a small schooner, which was lying at anchor. As the boat was drifting fast by, Newton made a spring, and gained the deck of the vessel.
"Ah! mon Dieu!—les Anglais—les Anglais—nous sommes prisonniers!" cried out the only man on deck, jumping on his feet, and making a precipitate dive below.
The vessel, of which Newton had thus taken possession, was one employed in carrying the sugars from the plantations round to Basse Terre, the port of Guadaloupe, there to be shipped for Europe,—Newton's boat having run away so far to the southward, as to make this island. She was lying at anchor off the mouth of a small river, waiting for a cargo.
It happened that the crew of the schooner, who were all slaves, were exactly in the same situation as Newton, when their vessels came in contact—viz., fast asleep. The shock had awakened them; but they were all below except the one who had kept such a remarkably good watch.
Exhausted as Newton was, he could not but smile at his uninterrupted possession of the vessel's decks. Anxious to have communication with the people on board, he sat down, awaiting their coming up from below. In a minute or two, a black head was seen to rise slowly and fearfully out of the fore-scuttle; then it disappeared. Another rose up and went down again as before; and thus it went on until Newton reckoned ten different faces. Having individually ascertained that there was but one man, and that one not provided with any weapons, the negroes assumed a degree of courage. The first head that had made its appearance, the woolly hair of which was of a grizzly gray from age, was again popped up the fore-scuttle, with an interrogatory to Newton, in French, who he was, and what he wanted? Newton, who did not understand a word of the language, shook his head, and, opening his hands and extending his arms, to show that he had no means of defence, he beckoned to them to come up. The man's head had again disappeared, and, after a little demur, nine or ten negroes crawled up out of the fore-scuttle, one after another, each with some weapon or another by way of security. They remained on the forecastle of the vessel until the last was up; and then at a nod given by their grizzle-headed leader, they advanced aft in a body towards Newton. Newton rose and pointed to the boat, which had now drifted about a quarter of a mile astern. He then made signs to give them to understand that he had been wrecked.
"Apparemment c'est un pauvre miserable, qui a fait naufrage," observed the old negro, who appeared to have the charge of the vessel; "Gustave Adolphe, tu parles bien l'Anglais; demandez-lui les nouvelles," continued the old man, folding his arms across, and looking very big indeed, as he reclined against the mainmast of the vessel.
Gustave Adolphe stood forward from the rest of the negroes. He was a short, fat, shiny-faced fellow, with his hair platted into about fifty little tails. He first bowed to his old commander, then placing his arms akimbo, walked up to Newton, and looking him full in the face, commenced his duty of interpreter, as follows:—
"I say—God dam—"
"Oui, monsieur, c'est un Anglais."
"Continuez, Gustave Adolphe," replied the old negro, with a majestic air.
Gustave Adolphe, with another bow, resumed:
"I say—where com?"
"Barbadoes," replied Newton.
"Monsieur, il vient de Barbadoes."
"Continuez, Gustave Adolphe," replied his superior, with a wave of his hand.
"I say—where go?"
"Where go?" replied Newton, "go to the bottom."
"Monsieur, il allait au port de Bo—tom."
"Bo—tom," repeated the old negro. "Ou diable est ca?"
Here a general consultation was held, by which it appeared that such a port had never been heard of in the West Indies.
"Gustave Adolphe, demandez-lui si c'est un port Anglais."
"I say—Bo—tom—English port?"
"No," replied Newton, amused with the mistake; "I should rather call it neutral."
"C'est un port neutral, monsieur."
"Gustave Adolphe, demandez-lui de quelle ile."
"I say, what isle—Bo—tom?"
Newton, who was faint with hunger and thirst, was not inclined at the moment to continue the conversation, which otherwise would have been a source of amusement. He replied by making signs that he wished to eat and drink.
"Monsieur," said Gustave Adolphe to the old negro, "le prisonnier refuse de faire reponse, et demande a manger et a boire."
"Va l'en chercher, Gustave Adolphe," replied the old man. "Allons, messieurs," continued he, addressing the other negroes. "Il faut lever l'ancre de suite, et amener notre prisonnier aux autorites; Charles Philippe, va chercher mon porte-voix."
The negro captain walked up and down the deck of the schooner, a vessel about thirty feet long, until Charles Philippe made his appearance with the speaking-trumpet. He then proceeded to get the vessel under weigh, with more noise and fuss than is to be heard when the proudest three-decker in the English navy expands her lofty canvas to the gale.
Gustave Adolphe, in obedience to the commands he had received, brought up to Newton a bunch of bananas, a large piece of salt fish, and a calabash of water. The latter was immediately applied to his lips, and never removed while a drop remained, much to the astonishment of the negro, who again sported his English.
"I say—very good—ab more?"
"If you please," replied Newton.
"Monsieur," said Gustave Adolphe to his commander, "le prisonnier a soif, et demande encore de l'eau."
"Va l'en chercher donc," replied the old negro, with a wave of his speaking-trumpet. "Charles Philippe, attention a la barre, sans venir au vent, s'il vous plait. Matelots du gaillard d'avant," continued he, roaring through his speaking-trumpet! "bordez le grand foc."
[Footnote 1: Mind your weather-helm.] [Footnote 2: Forecastlemen, haul aft the jib-sheet.]
In the space of two hours, the schooner was brought to an anchor, with as much noise and importance as she had been got under weigh. A boat capable of holding three people—one rower and two sitters—was shoved off the vessel's deck, and the negro captain, having first descended to his cabin for a few minutes, returned on deck dressed in the extremity of their fashion, and ordered the boat to be manned.
Gustave Adolphe accordingly manned the boat with his own person, and the negro captain politely waved his hand for Newton to enter; and then, following himself, Gustave Adolphe rowed to a landing-place, about twenty yards from the schooner.
"Gustave Adolphe, suivez en arriere, et gardez bien que le prisonnier n'echappe pas;" so saying, monsieur le capitaine led the way to a large white house and buildings, about two hundred yards from the river's banks. On their arrival, Newton was surrounded by twenty or thirty slaves of both sexes, who chattered and jabbered a thousand questions concerning him to the negro captain and Gustave Adolphe, neither of whom condescended to reply.
"Monsieur de Fontanges—ou est-il?" inquired the old negro.
"Monsieur dort," replied a little female voice.
The captain was taken aback at this unfortunate circumstance; for no one dared to wake their master.
"Et Madame?" inquired he.
"Madame est dans sa chambre."
There again he was floored—he could not venture there; so he conducted Newton, who was not very sorry to escape from the burning rays of the sun, to his own habitation, where an old negress, his wife, soon obtained from the negro that information relative to the capture of Newton which the bevy of slaves in the yard had attempted in vain—but wives have such winning ways with them!
"What elegance and grandeur wide expand, The pride of Turkey and of Persia land! Soft quilts on quilts, on carpets carpets spread, And couches stretch'd around in seemly band, And endless pillows rise to prop the head.
* * * * * Here languid Beauty kept her pale-faced court." THOMSON.
The female slaves who could not obtain the history of Newton immediately repaired to the chamber of their mistress, knowing that if they could succeed in raising her curiosity, they would at the same time gratify their own. Madame de Fontanges was, as they asserted, in her chamber, or, what may now be more correctly styled, her boudoir. It was a room about fourteen feet square, the sides of which were covered with a beautiful paper, representing portions of the history of Paul and Virginia: the floor was covered with fine matting, with here and there a small Persian carpet above it. Small marble tables were decorated with a variety of ornaments and French perfumes, or vases filled with the splendid flowers of a tropical clime. There was a large window at each end of the room, cut down to the ground, in the French fashion; and outside of both was a little balcony—the trellice-work covered with passion-flower and clematis. The doors and other compartments of the room were not papered, but had French mirrors let into the pannelling. On a low ottoman of elegant workmanship, covered with a damasked French silk, reposed Madame de Fontanges, attended by three or four young female slaves, of different complexions, but none of pure African blood. Others were seated upon the different Persian carpets about the room, in listless idleness, or strewing the petals of the orange-flower, to perfume the apartment with its odour. The only negro was a little boy, about six years of age, dressed in a fantastic costume, who sat in a corner, apparently in a very sulky humour. Madame de Fontanges was a Creole,—that is, born in the West Indies of French parents. She had been sent home to France for her education, and had returned at the age of fourteen to Guadaloupe, where she soon after married Monsieur de Fontanges, an officer of rank, and brother to the governor of the island. Her form was diminutive, but most perfect; her hand and arm models for the statuary; while her feet were so small as almost to excite risibility when you observed them. Her features were regular, and when raised from her usual listlessness, full of expression. Large hazel eyes, beautifully pencilled eyebrows, with long fringed eyelashes, dark and luxuriant hair, Grecian nose, small mouth, with thin coral lips, were set off by a complexion which even the climate could not destroy, although it softened it into extreme delicacy.
Such was the person of Madame de Fontanges, now about eighteen years old, and one of the most beautiful specimens of the French Creole which could be imagined. Her perfect little figure needed no support; she was simply attired in a muslin robe de chambre, as she reposed upon the ottoman, waiting with all the impatience of her caste for the setting in of the sea-breeze, which would give some relief from the oppressive heat of the climate.
"Eventez! Nina, eventez!" cried she to one of her attendants, who was standing at the head of the sofa with a large feather fan.
"Oui, madame," replied the girl, stirring up the dormant atmosphere.
"Eventez! Caroline, eventez mes mains, vite."
"Oui, madame," replied the second, working away with another fan.
"Eventez! eventez mes pieds, Mimi."
"Oui, madame," replied the third, fanning in the direction pointed out.
"Louise," said Madame de Fontanges, languidly, after a short pause, "apportez-moi de l'eau sucree."
"Oui, madame," replied another, rising, in obedience to the order.
"Non, non! Je n'en veux pas—mais j'ai soif horrible. Manchette, va chercher de l'eau cerise."
"Oui, madame," replied Manchette, rising from her seat. But she had not quitted the room before Madame de Fontanges had changed her mind.
"Attendez, Manchette. Ce n'est pas ca. Je voudrais de limonade. Charlotte, va l'en chercher."
"Oui, madame," said Charlotte, leaving the room to execute the order.
"Ah, mon Dieu! qu'il fait une chaleur epouvantable.
"Mimi, que tu es paresseuse? Eventez! vite, vite.
"Ou est Monsieur?"
"Ah! qu'il est heureux. Et Cupidon—ou est-il?"
"II est ici, au coin, madame. Il boude."
"Qu'est-ce qu'il a fait donc?"
"Ah, madame! Il a vole le dindon roti, et l'a tout mange."
"Ah, le petit polisson! Venez ici, Cupidon."
Cupidon, the little negro-boy we have before mentioned as sitting in the corner of the room, walked up with a very deliberate pace to the side of the ottoman, his two thick lips sticking out about six inches in advance of the remainder of his person.
"Cupidon," said the lady, turning a little on one side to speak to him, "tu as mange le dindon entier. Tu as mal fait, mon ami. Tu seras malade. Comprends-tu, Cupidon, c'est une sottise que tu as fait?"
Cupidon made no reply; his head was hung down a little lower, and his lips extended a little further out.
"Sache que tu es un petite voleur!" continued his mistress.
Cupidon did not condescend to answer.
"Allez, monsieur; ne m'approchez pas."
Cupidon turned short round without reply, and walked back to his corner with the same deliberate pace as before, when he came out of it.
Charlotte now returned with the lemonade for which she had been despatched, and informed her mistress as she presented it, that Nicholas, who had charge of the schooner, had returned with an European prisoner; but that neither he nor Gustave would give her any further information, although she had requested it in the name of her mistress. This was quite an event, and gave a fillip to the inertness of Madame de Fontanges, whose curiosity was excited.
"A-t-il bonne mine, Charlotte?"
"Oui, madame, c'est un bel homme."
"Et ou est-il?"
"Il faut l'eveiller. Faites bien mes compliments au Monsieur de Fontanges, et dites-lui que je me trouve fort malade, et que je voudrais lui parier. Entends-tu, Celeste; je parle a toi."
"Oui, madame," replied the girl, throwing some orange flowers off her lap, and rising to deliver her message.
M. de Fontanges, who, like most of the Europeans, slept through the hottest portion of the day, rose in compliance with his wife's message, and made his appearance in the boudoir, dressed in a white cotton jacket and trousers. A few polite inquiries after the health of Madame de Fontanges, which, as he had conjectured from similar previous occurrences, was not worse than usual, were followed by his receiving from her the information of Newton's arrival, coupled with an observation, that it would amuse her if the prisoner were interrogated in her presence.
Newton was summoned to the boudoir, where M. de Fontanges, who spoke very good English, received from him the history of his disasters, and translated them into French, to gratify the curiosity of his wife.
"C'est un beau garcon," observed M. de Fontanges. "Mais que faire? Il est prisonnier. Il faut l'envoyer a mon frere, le gouverneur."
"Il est joli garcon," replied Madame de Fontanges.
"Donnez-lui des habits, Fontanges; et ne l'envoyez pas encore."
"Et pourquoi, mon amie?"
"Je voudrais lui apprendre le Francais."
"Cela ne se peut pas, ma chere; il est prisonnier."
"Cela se peut, Monsieur de Fontanges," replied the lady.
"Je n'ose pas," continued the husband.
"Moi j'ose," replied the lady, decidedly.
"Je ne voudrais pas," said the gentleman.
"Moi, je veux," interrupted the lady.
"Mais il faut etre raisonnable, madame."
"II faut m'obeir, monsieur."
"Pschut!" replied the lady; "c'est une affaire decidee. Monsieur le gouverneur ne parle pas l'Anglais. C'est absolument necessaire que le jeune homme apprenne notre langue; et c'est mon plaisir de l'enseigner. Au revoir, Monsieur de Fontanges. Charlotte, va chercher des habits."
"'Tis pleasing to be school'd in a strange tongue By female lips and eyes; that is, I mean When both the teacher and the taught are young, As was the case, at least, where I had been. They smile so when one's right, and when one's wrong They smile still more." BYRON.
M. de Fontanges, aware of the impetuosity and caprice of his wife (at the same time that he acknowledged her many redeeming good qualities), did not further attempt to thwart her inclinations. His great objection to her plan was the impropriety of retaining a prisoner whom he was bound to give up to the proper authorities. He made a virtue of necessity, and having acquainted Newton with the wish of Madame de Fontanges, requested his parole of honour that he would not attempt to escape, if he was not delivered up to the authorities, and remain some time at Lieu Desire. Newton, who had no wish to be acquainted with a French cachot sooner than it was absolutely necessary, gave the promise required by M. de Fontanges, assuring him that ingratitude was not a part of his character. M. de Fontanges then requested that Newton would accept of a portion of his wardrobe, which he would direct to be sent to the room that would be prepared for him. This affair being arranged, Newton made his bow to the lady, and in company with M. de Fontanges, retired from the boudoir.
It may be suspected by the reader, that Madame de Fontanges was one of those ladies who cared a great deal about having her own way, and very little for her husband. As to the first part of the accusation, I can only observe, that I never yet had the fortune to fall in with any lady who did not try all she could to have her own way, nor do I conceive it to be a crime. As to the second, if the reader has formed that supposition, he is much mistaken. Madame de Fontanges was very much attached to her husband, and the attachment as well as the confidence was reciprocal.
It was not, therefore, from any feeling of jealousy that M. de Fontanges had combated her resolution; but, as we have before observed, from a conviction that he was wanting in his duty, when he did not report the arrival of Newton at the plantation. The wish of Madame de Fontanges to detain Newton was, as she had declared, a caprice on her part, which had entered her head, to amuse herself by teaching him French. It is true that had not Newton been remarkably prepossessing in his appearance, the idea would in all probability have never been conceived; but, observing that he was much above the common class, and wishing to relieve the general monotony of her life by anything which would create amusement, she had formed the idea, which, when combated by her husband, was immediately strengthened to a resolution.
Of this Newton received the benefit. An excellent dinner or rather supper with M. de Fontanges, a comfortable bed in a room supplied with all that convenience or luxury could demand, enabled him to pass a very different night from those which we have lately described.
About twelve o'clock the ensuing day, Newton was summoned by one of the slave girls to the boudoir of Madame de Fontanges. He found her on the ottoman, as before. Newton, who had been operated upon by a black barber, and was dressed in the habiliments of M. de Fontanges, made a much more respectable appearance than upon his former introduction.
"Bon jour, monsieur," said the lady.
Newton bowed respectfully.
"Comment vous appelez-vous?"
Newton, not understanding, answered with another bow.
"Le jeune homme n'entends pas, madame," observed Mimi.
"Que c'est ennuyant. Monsieur," said Madame Fontanges, pointing to herself, "moi,—Madame de Fontanges: vous?" pointing to him.
"Nu-tong Fasta—ah, c'est bon; cela commence," said the lady. "Allons, mes enfans, repetez-lui tous vos noms."
"Moi—Mimi," said the girl bearing that name, going up to Newton, and pointing to herself.
"Mimi," repeated Newton, with a smile and nod of his head.
"Et moi—Cupidon," finished the little black boy, running up, and then retreating as fast back into his corner.
Newton repeated all the names, as the individuals respectively introduced themselves to him. Then there was a pause, during which, at the desire of Madame de Fontanges, Newton was offered a chair, and sat down.
"Allons, dites-lui les noms de toute la garniture," said Madame de Fontanges to her attendants.
"Oui, madame," said Mimi, going up to Newton, and, pointing to the fan in her hand,—"eventail."
"Eventail," repeated Newton, who began to be amused, and who now repeated every French word after them.
"Flacon," said Charlotte, showing him the eau-de-Cologne bottle.
"Chaise," cried Louise, holding up a chair.
"Livre," said Nina, pointing to a book.
"Mouchoir," said Caroline, holding up an embroidered handkerchief.
"Montre," followed up Manchette, pointing to her mistress's watch.
"Canape," cried Celeste, pointing to the ottoman.
"Joli garcon," bawled out Cupidon, coming up to Newton, and pointing to himself.
This created a laugh, and then the lesson was continued. Every article in the room was successively pointed out to Newton, and he was obliged to repeat the name; and afterwards the articles of their dress were resorted to, much to his amusement. Then, there was a dead stand:—the fact is that there is no talking with noun substantives only.
"Ah! mon Dieu! il faut envoyer pour Monsieur de Fontanges," cried the lady; "va le chercher, Louise."
M. de Fontanges soon made his appearance, when the lady explained to him their dilemma, and requested his assistance. M de Fontanges laughed, and explained to Newton, and then, by means of his interpretation, connected sentences were made, according to the fancy of the lady, some of which were the cause of great merriment. After an hour, the gentlemen made their bows.
"I think," observed M. de Fontanges, as they walked away, "that if you really are as anxious to learn our language as madame is to teach you, you had better come to me every morning for an hour. I shall have great pleasure in giving you any assistance in my power, and I trust that in a very short time, with a little study of the grammar and dictionary, you will be able to hold a conversation with Madame de Fontanges, or even with her dark-complexioned page."
Newton expressed his acknowledgments, and the next day he received his first lesson; after which he was summoned to support the theory by practice in the boudoir of Madame de Fontanges. It is hardly necessary to observe that each day increased the facility of communication.
For three months Newton was domiciled with Monsieur and Madame Fontanges, both of whom had gradually formed such an attachment to him, that the idea of parting never entered their heads. He was now a very tolerable French scholar, and his narratives and adventures were to his benefactors a source of amusement, which amply repaid them for the trouble and kindness which they had shown to him. Newton was, in fact, a general favourite with every one on the plantation, from the highest to the lowest; and his presence received the same smile of welcome at the cottage of the slave as at the boudoir of Madame de Fontanges.
Whatever may have been the result of Newton's observations relative to slavery in the English colonies, his feelings of dislike insensibly wore away during his residence at Lieu Desire; there he was at least convinced that a slave might be perfectly happy. It must be acknowledged that the French have invariably proved the kindest and most considerate of masters, and the state of bondage is much mitigated in the islands which appertain to that nation. The reason is obvious: in France, there is a bonhommie, a degree of equality, established between the different grades of society by universal politeness. A French servant is familiar with his master at the same time that he is respectful: and the master, in return, condescends to his inferior without forgetting their relative positions. This runs through society in general: and as no one can well be polite without some good-nature (for politeness, frivolous as it may appear, is a strong check upon those feelings of selfishness too apt to be indulged in), it leads to a general feeling of good-will towards others. This has naturally been practised by Frenchmen wherever they may be; and the consequence is that the slaves are treated with more consideration, and, in return, have warmer feelings of attachment towards their owners than are to be found in colonies belonging to other nations. Newton perceived and acknowledged this, and, comparing the condition of the people at Lieu Desire with that of most of the peasantry of Europe, was unwillingly obliged to confess that the former were in every respect the more fortunate and the more happy of the two.
One morning, soon after Newton had breakfasted with M. de Fontanges, and had been summoned to the boudoir, a letter was brought in. It was from the governor to M. de Fontanges, stating that he had heard with great surprise that M. de Fontanges concealed an English prisoner in his house, and desiring that he might be immediately sent up to head-quarters. That there might be no delay or refusal, a corporal, accompanied by two file of men, brought down the intimation to the plantation.
Newton was in the very middle of a long story, Madame de Fontanges on the ottoman, and her attendants collected round her, seated on the floor—even Cupidon had advanced from his corner to within half-distance, his mouth and eyes wide open, when M. de Fontanges entered the boudoir, with anxiety and chagrin expressed in his countenance.
"Qu'est-ce qu'il y a, mon ami?" said Madame de Fontanges, rising hastily, and running up to her husband.
M. de Fontanges answered by putting the governor's letter into his wife's hands.
"Ah! les barbares!" cried Madame de Fontanges; "est-il possible? Pauvre Monsieur Nutong! On l'amene au cachot."
"Au cachot!" cried all the coloured girls at a breath and bursting into tears—"Oh, ciel!"
M. de Fontanges then explained to Newton the order which he had received. Newton replied that he had had no right to expect otherwise on his first landing on the island; that he had incurred a heavy debt of gratitude to them for having preserved him so long from a prison; and that the remembrance of their kindness would tend to beguile the tedious hours of captivity (from which it may appear that Newton, in point of expressing himself, was half a Frenchman already). He then kissed the hand of Madame de Fontanges, tried to console the little slave girls, who were all au desespoir, patted Cupidon on the head, by way of farewell, and quitted the boudoir, in which he had passed so many happy hours. When he was outside, he again expressed his obligations to M. de Fontanges, who then stated his determination to call upon his brother, the governor, and try to allieviate the hardships of his lot as much as was possible. In less than an hour, Newton, in company with his host, was on the road to Basse Terre, leaving the corporal and his two file of men to walk back as fast as they could; the corporal having sufficient savoir vivre not to refuse the pledge of the governor's brother for the safe delivery of the prisoner.
It was not until late in the evening that they arrived at Basse Terre, when they immediately proceeded to the house of the governor, and were admitted to his presence.
The governor, who had been much displeased at the circumstance of Newton having remained so long on the island, was more pacified when M. de Fontanges explained to him the way in which he had been made prisoner, and the hardships which he had previously endured. M. de Fontanges accounted for his long detention at Lieu Desire by stating the real fact, viz., the pertinacity of Madame de Fontanges; which, although it might have been considered a very poor argument in England, had its due weight in a French colony.
The governor entered into conversation with Newton, who detailed to him the horrors of the shipwreck which he had undergone. The narrative appeared to affect him much. He told Newton that under such circumstances he could hardly consider him as a prisoner, and would take the first opportunity of releasing him, and would accept his parole for not quitting the island. Newton returned his thanks for so much courtesy, and withdrew in company with M. de Fontanges.
"Monsieur le Marquis has much sympathy for those who have been shipwrecked," observed Monsieur de Fontanges, after they had quitted the room. "Poor man! he lost his wife, a beautiful young woman, and his only child, a little girl, about seven years back, when they were proceeding home in a vessel bound to Havre. The vessel has never been heard of since, and he has never recovered the loss."
"In what year was it?" inquired Newton.
"In the autumn of the year—"
"There were many vessels wrecked on our coast during that dreadful winter," replied Newton; "I myself, when in a coaster, picked up several articles belonging to a French vessel. I have them in my possession now;—they are of some value."
"What did they consist of?" inquired Monsieur de Fontanges.
"A large trunk, containing the wearing apparel of a female and a child: there were also several orders of knighthood, and some jewels; but I hardly know what they were, as it is some time since I have looked at them."
"How strange that you could find no clue to discover the names of the parties!"
"There were French letters," replied Newton, "which I could not read; they were only signed by initials, which did not correspond with the marks on the linen belonging to the lady, although the surname might have been the same as that of the child."
"Do you recollect the initials?"
"Perfectly well: the marks on the lady's apparel were L.C., that on the linen of the infant J.F."
"Mon Dieu! mon Dieu!" cried Monsieur de Fontanges; "then it may indeed have been the apparel of the Marquise de Fontanges. The linen must have been some marked with her maiden name, which was Louise de Colmar. The child was christened Julie de Fontanges, after her grandmother. My poor brother had intended to take his passage home in the same vessel, his successor being hourly expected; but the frigate in which the new governor had embarked was taken by an English squadron, and my brother was forced to remain here."
"Then the property must undoubtedly belong to the marquis," replied Newton: "I only wish I could have been able to assure him that his wife and child were equally safe; but that I am afraid is impossible, as there can be no doubt but that they were all lost. Do you mean to communicate what I have told you to the marquis?"
"By no means: it will only tear open a wound which has but partially healed. If you will send me all the particulars when you return I shall feel much obliged, not that the effects are of any consequence. The marquise and her child are undoubtedly lost; and it could be no consolation to my brother to ascertain that a trunk of their effects had been saved."
Here the conversation dropped, and was never again renewed.
Newton was heartily welcomed again at Lieu Desire, where he remained three weeks, when a note from the governor informed him that a cartel was about to sail.
It was with mutual pain that Newton and his kind friends took their farewell of each other. In this instance M. de Fontanges did not accompany him to Basse Terre, but bade him adieu at his own door. Newton, soon after he was on the road, perceived that M. de Fontanges had acted from a motive of delicacy, that he might not receive the thanks of Newton for two valises, well furnished, which overtook Newton about a quarter of a mile from the plantation, slung on each side of a horse, under the guidance of a little negro, perched on the middle. Newton made his acknowledgments to the governor for his kind consideration, then embarked on board of the Marie Therese schooner, and in three days he once more found himself on shore in an English colony; with which piece of information I conclude this chapter.
"Mercy on us! a bairn, a very pretty bairn, A boy, a child." SHAKESPEARE.
When Newton was landed from the cartel at Jamaica, he found the advantage of not being clad in the garb of a sailor, as all those who were in such costume were immediately handed over to the admiral of the station, to celebrate their restoration to liberty on board of a man-of-war; but the clothes supplied to him by the generosity of M. de Fontanges had anything but a maritime appearance, and Newton was landed with his portmanteaus by one of the man-of-war's boats, whose crew had little idea of his being a person so peculiarly suited to their views, possessing as he did the necessary qualifications of youth, activity, and a thorough knowledge of his profession. Newton was so anxious to return home, that after a few days' expensive sojourn at an hotel, frequented chiefly by the officers of the man-of-war in port, he resolved to apply to the captain of a frigate ordered home with despatches, to permit him to take a passage. He had formed a slight intimacy with some of the officers, who assured him that he would experience no difficulty in obtaining his request. His application was made in person; and after his statement that he had been released in the last cartel which had come from Guadaloupe, his request was immediately granted, without any further questions being put relative to his profession, or the manner in which he had been captured. The captain very civilly gave him to understand that he might mess with the gun-room officers, if he could arrange with them, and that he expected to sail on the evening of the ensuing day. Newton immediately repaired on board of the frigate, to ascertain if the officers would receive him as a messmate; and further, whether the amount of his mess-money would be more than he could in prudence afford. At the bottom of one of the portmanteaus he had found a bag of two hundred dollars, supplied by his generous host, and in the same bag there was also deposited a small note from Madame de Fontanges, wishing him success, and enclosing (as a souvenir) a ring, which he had often perceived on her finger; but, adequate as was this supply to his own wants, Newton did not forget that his father was, in all probability, in great distress, and would require his assistance on his return. He was, therefore, naturally anxious not to expend more than was absolutely necessary in defraying his passage. The old first lieutenant, to whom, upon his arrival on board, he was introduced as commanding officer, received him with much urbanity; and, when Newton stated that he had obtained the captain's permission to make the application, immediately acceded to his wishes on the part of his messmates as well as of himself, when Newton followed up his application, by requesting to know the expense which he would incur, as, in case of its being greater than his finances could meet, he would request permission to choose a less expensive mess.
"I am aware," replied the veteran, "that those who have been shipwrecked, and in a French prison, are not likely to be very flush of cash. It is, however, a point on which I must consult my messmates. Excuse me one moment, and I will bring you an answer: I have no doubt but that it will be satisfactorily arranged; but there is nothing like settling these points at once. Mr Webster, see that the lighter shoves off the moment that she is clear," continued the first lieutenant to one of the midshipmen as he descended the quarter-deck ladder, leaving Newton to walk the quarter-deck.
In a few minutes the first lieutenant reappeared, with one or two officers of the gun-room mess, who greeted him most cordially.
"I have seen all that are requisite," said he to Newton. "Two I have not spoken to, the master and the purser; they are both poor men with families. If, therefore, you will not be too proud to accept it, I am requested to offer you a free passage from the other officers of the mess, as we feel convinced that your company will more than repay us. The proportion of the expense of your passage to the other two will be but one or two pounds; a trifle, indeed, but still of consequence to them; and that is the only expense which you will incur. If you can afford to pay that, any time after your arrival in England, we shall be most happy to receive you, and make the passage as comfortable and pleasant as circumstances will permit."
To this most liberal proposition Newton most gladly acceded. The officers who had come on deck with the first lieutenant invited Newton below, where he was introduced to the remainder of the mess, who were most of them fine young men, as happy and careless as if youth was to last for ever. Having pledged each other in a glass of grog, Newton returned on shore. The next morning he made his arrangements, paid his bill at the hotel, and before twelve o'clock was again on board of the frigate, which lay with the Blue Peter hoisted, and her fore-topsail loose, waiting for her captain, who was still detained on shore while the admiral and governor made up their despatches.
When Newton had applied to the captain of the frigate for a passage home, he could hardly believe it possible that the person to whom he was introduced could be entrusted with the command of so fine a vessel. He was a slight-made, fair complexioned lad, of nineteen or twenty years at the most, without an incipient mark of manhood on his chin. He appeared lively, active, and good-natured; but what were the other qualifications he possessed, to discover such a mark of confidence, were to Newton an enigma requiring solution.
It was, however, to be explained in very few words. He was the son of the admiral of the station, and (as at that period there was no regulation with respect to age, to check the most rapid promotion), after he had served his time as midshipman, in less than two months he had been raised through the different ranks of lieutenant, commander, and post-captain. On receiving the latter step, he was at the same time appointed to the frigate in question,—one of the finest which belonged to his Majesty's service. In order, however, that he should to a certain degree be in leading-strings, a very old and efficient officer had been selected by the admiral as his first lieutenant. Whether, in common justice, the captain and his subordinate ought not to have changed places, I leave the reader to guess; and it was the more unfair towards the worthy old first lieutenant, as, if the admiral had not entertained such a high opinion of his abilities and judgment as to confide to him the charge of his son, he would long before have been promoted himself to one of the many vacancies which so repeatedly occurred.
Captain Carrington had all the faults which, if no inherent, will naturally be acquired by those who are too early entrusted with power. He was self-sufficient, arbitrary, and passionate. His good qualities consisted in a generous disposition, a kindness of heart when not irritated, a manly courage, and a frank acknowledgment of his errors. Had he been allowed to serve a proper time in the various grades of his profession—had he been taught to obey before he had been permitted to command—he had within him all the materials for a good officer: as it was, he was neither officer, sailor, nor anything else, except a spoiled boy. He would often attempt to carry on the duty as captain, and as often fail from want of knowledge. He would commence manoeuvring the ship, but find himself unable to proceed. At these unfortunate break downs, he would be obliged to resign the speaking-trumpet to the first lieutenant; and if, as sometimes happened, the latter (either from accident, or perhaps from a pardonable pique at having the duty taken out of his hands), was not at his elbow to prompt him when at fault—at these times the cant phrase of the officers, taken from some farce, used to be, "York, you're wanted."
About an hour before sunset the juvenile captain made his appearance on board, rather fresh from taking leave of his companions and acquaintances on shore. The frigate was got under weigh by the first lieutenant, and, before the sun had disappeared, was bounding over the foaming seas in the direction of the country which had nurtured to maturity the gnarled oak selected for her beautiful frame. Newton joined his new messmates in drinking a prosperous passage to old England; and, with a heart grateful for his improved prospects, retired to the hammock which had been prepared for him.
When Newton rose in the morning, he found that the wind had shifted contrary during the night, and that the frigate was close hauled, darting through the smooth water with her royals set. At ten o'clock the master proposed tacking the ship, and the first lieutenant went down to report his wish to the captain.
"Very well, Mr Nourse," replied the captain; "turn the hands up."
"Ay, ay, sir," replied the first lieutenant, leaving the cabin.
"Call the boatswain, quarter-master—all hands 'bout ship."
"All hands 'bout ship," was now bellowed out by the boatswain, and re-echoed by his mates at the several hatchways, with a due proportion of whistling from their pipes.
"Tumble up, there—tumble up smartly, my lads."
In a minute every man was on deck, and at his station; many of them, however, tumbling down in their laudable hurry to tumble up.
"Silence there, fore and aft—every man to his station," cried the first lieutenant through his speaking-trumpet. "All ready, sir," reported the first lieutenant to the captain, who had followed him on deck. "Shall we put the helm down?"
"If you please, Mr Nourse."
"Down with the helm."
When the master reported it down, "The helm's a-lee," roared the first lieutenant.
But Captain Carrington, who thought light winds and smooth water a good opportunity for practice, interrupted him as he was walking towards the weather gangway "Mr Nourse, Mr Nourse, if you please, I'll work the ship."
"Very good, sir," replied the first lieutenant, handing him the speaking-trumpet. "Rise tacks and sheets, if you please, sir," continued the first lieutenant (sotto voce), "the sails are lifting."
"Tacks and sheets!" cried the captain.
"Gather in on the lee main-tack, my lads," said the first lieutenant, going to the lee gangway to see the duty performed.
Now, Captain Carrington did know that "mainsail haul" was the next word of command; but as this order requires a degree of precision as to the exact time at which it is given, he looked over his shoulder for the first lieutenant, who usually prompted him in this exigence. Not seeing him there, he became disconcerted; and during the few seconds that he cast his anxious eyes about the deck, to discover where the first lieutenant was, the ship had passed head to wind.
"Mainsail haul!" at last cried the captain; but it was too late; the yards would not swing round; everything went wrong; and the ship was in irons.
"You hauled a little too late, sir," observed the first lieutenant who had joined him. "You must box her off, sir, if you please."
But Captain Carrington, although he could put the ship in irons, did not know how to take her out.
"The ship is certainly most cursedly out of trim," observed he; "she'll neither wear nor stay. Try her yourself, Mr Nourse," continued the captain, "I'm sick of her!"—and with a heightened colour, he handed the speaking-trumpet over to the first lieutenant.
"York, you're wanted," observed the lieutenant abaft to the marine officer, dropping down the corners of his mouth.
"York, you're wanted," tittered the midshipmen, in whispers, as they passed each other.
"Well, I've won your grog, Jim," cried one of the marines, who was standing at the forebrace; "I knew he'd never do it."
"He's like me," observed another, in a low tone; "he left school too 'arly, and lost his edication."
Such were the results of injudicious patronage. A fine ship entrusted to a boy, ignorant of his duty; laughed at, not only by the officers, but even by the men; and the honour of the country at stake, and running no small risk of being tarnished, if the frigate met with a vigorous opponent. Thank God, this is now over! Judicious regulations have put a stop to such selfish and short-sighted patronage. Selfish, because those who were guilty of it risked the honour of the nation to advance the interests of their proteges; short-sighted, because it is of little use making a young man a captain if you cannot make him an officer. I might here enter into a discussion which might be of some use, but it would be out of place in a work intended more for amusement than for instruction; nor would it in all probability be read. I always make it a rule myself, to skip over all those parts introduced in a light work which are of denser materials than the rest; and I cannot expect but that others will do the same. There is a time and place for all things; and like the master of Ravenswood, "I bide my time."
[Footnote 1: It is true that an officer must now serve a certain time in the various grades before promotion, which time is supposed to be sufficient for him to acquire a knowledge of his profession; but whether that knowledge is obtained depends, as before, upon the young officer's prospects in life. If from family interest he is sure of promotion, he is not quite so sure of being a seaman.]
The frigate dashed gallantly through the water, at one time careening to an adverse wind, at another rolling before a favouring gale: and, to judge from her rapid motion, she was not in such very bad trim as Captain Carrington had found out. Each day rapidly brought her nearer to their cherished home, as "she walked the waters like a thing of life." I can conceive no prouder situation in this world than being captain of a fine frigate, with a well-disciplined crew; but d—n your eight-and-twenties!
"We had better take in the royals, if you please, sir," said the first lieutenant, as he came, with his hat in his hand, into the cabin, where the captain was at dinner with several of the officers, the table crowded with a variety of decanters and French green bottles.
"Pho! nonsense! Mr Nourse; we'll carry them a little longer," replied the captain, who had been carrying too much sail another way. "Sit down and take a glass of wine with us. You always cry out before you're hurt, Nourse."
"I thank you, sir," replied the first lieutenant, seriously; "you will excuse me: it is time to beat to quarters."
"Well, then, do so; I had no idea it was so late. Mr Forster, you don't pass the bottle."
"I have taken enough, I thank you, sir."
The officers present also made the same statement.
"Well, then, if you won't, gentlemen—steward, let's have some coffee."
The coffee appeared and disappeared; and the officers made their bows and quitted the cabin as the first lieutenant entered it to report the muster at quarters.
"All present and sober, sir. I am afraid, sir," continued he, "the masts will be over the side if we do not clew up the royals."
"Stop a moment, if you please, Mr Nourse, until I go up and judge for myself," replied the captain, who was inclined to be pertinacious.
Captain Carrington went on deck. The men were still ranged round the decks at their quarters; more than one pair of eyes were raised aloft to watch the masts, which were bending like coach-whips, and complaining bitterly.
"Shall we beat a retreat, and pipe hands to shorten sail, sir? We had better take in the third reefs, sir;—it looks very squally to-night," observed the first lieutenant.
"Really, Mr Nourse, I don't exactly perceive the necessity—"
But at that moment the fore and main-top-gallant-masts went over the side; and the look-out man at the fore-top-gallant-mast head, who had been called down by the first lieutenant, but did not hear the injunction, was hurled into the sea to leeward.
"Helm down!" cried the master.
"Man overboard!—man overboard!" echoed round the decks; while some of the officers and men jumped into the quarter-boats, and hastily cast off the gripes and lashings.
Captain Carrington, who was immediately sobered by the catastrophe, which he felt had been occasioned by his own wilfulness, ran aft to the taffrail; and when he saw the poor sailor struggling in the waves, impelled by his really fine nature, he darted overboard to save him; but he was not by any means a powerful swimmer, and, encumbered with his apparel, it was soon evident that he could do no more than keep himself afloat.
Newton, who perceived how matters stood, with great presence of mind caught up two of the oars from the boat hanging astern, and darted over to the assistance of both. One oar he first carried to the seaman, who was exhausted and sinking. Placing it under his arms, he then swam with the other to Captain Carrington, who could not have remained above water but a few seconds more without the timely relief. He then quietly swam by the side of Captain Carrington, without any attempt at extra exertion.
The boat was soon lowered down, and in a few minutes they were all three again on board, and in safety. Captain Carrington thanked Newton for his assistance, and acknowledged his error to the first lieutenant. The officers and men looked upon Newton with respect and increased good-will; and the sailors declared that the captain was a prime little fellow, although he hadn't had an "edication."
Nothing worthy of remark occurred during the remainder of the passage. The ship arrived at Plymouth, and Newton took leave of his friendly shipmates, Captain Carrington requesting that Newton would command any interest that he had, if ever it should be required. It was with a throbbing heart that Newton descended from the outside of the coach which conveyed him to Liverpool, and hastened towards the obscure street in which he left his father residing. It was about four o'clock in the afternoon when Newton arrived at his father's door. To his delight, he perceived through the shop-window that his father was sitting at his bench; but his joy was checked when he perceived his haggard countenance. The old man appeared to be absorbed in deep thought, his cheek resting upon his hand, and his eyes cast down upon the little bench, to which the vice used to be fixed, but from which it was now removed.
The door was ajar, and Newton entered with his portmanteau in his hand; but whatever noise he might have made was not sufficient to rouse Nicholas, who continued in the same position.
With one glance round the shop, Newton perceived that it was bare of everything; even the glazed cases on the counter, which contained the spectacles, &c., had disappeared. All bespoke the same tale, as did the appearance of his father—misery and starvation.
"My dearest father!" cried Newton, unable to contain himself any longer.
"How!—what?" cried Nicholas, starting at the voice, but not looking round. "Pho! nonsense!—he's dead," continued the old man, communing with himself, as he again settled into his former position.
"My dearest father, I'm not dead!—look round—'tis Newton! alive and well."
"Newton!" replied the old man, rising from his stool, and tottering to the counter, which was between them, on which he laid both his hands to support himself, as he looked into his son's face. "'Tis Newton, sure enough! My dear, dear boy!—then you an't dead?"
"No, indeed, father; I am alive and well, thank God!"
"Thank God, too!" said Nicholas, dropping his face on the counter, and bursting into tears.
Newton sprang over to the side where his father was, and embraced him. For some time they were locked in each other's arms; when Nicholas, who had recovered his composure, looked at Newton, and said, "Are you hungry, my dear boy?"
"Yes, indeed I am," replied Newton, smiling, as the tears coursed down his cheeks; "for I have had nothing since breakfast."
"And I have had nothing for these two days," replied Nicholas, leaning back to the wall in evident exhaustion.
"Good God! you don't say so?" cried Newton; "where can I buy something ready cooked?"
"At the shop round the corner: there's a nice piece of boiled beef there; I saw it yesterday. I offered my improvement on the duplex for a slice; but he would not trust me, even for that."
Newton ran out, and in a few minutes reappeared with the beef in question, some bread, and a pot of porter, with two plates and knives and forks, which the people had lent him, upon his putting down a deposit. He had laid them on the counter before his father, who, without saying a word, commenced his repast: the beef disappeared—the bread vanished—the porter-pot was raised to his mouth, and in a moment it was dry!
"Never made a better dinner, Newton," observed Nicholas: "but I wish there had been a little more of it."
Newton, who had only been a spectator, immediately went out for another supply; and on his return assisted his father in its demolition.
"Newton," said Nicholas, who for a few minutes had relinquished his task, "I've been thinking—that—I should like another slice of that beef! and Newton, as I said before—I'll trouble you for the porter!"
"ORLANDO—Then forbear your food a little while, While, like a doe, I go to find my fawn, And give it food. There is a poor old man Oppressed with two weak evils, age and hunger." SHAKESPEARE.
Reader, were you ever really hungry? I do not mean the common hunger arising from health and exercise, and which you have the means of appeasing at the moment, when it may be considered a source of pleasure rather than of pain:—I refer to the gnawing of starvation; because, if you have not been, you can form no conception of the agony of the suffering. Fortunately, but very few of my readers can have any knowledge of it; the general sympathy which it creates is from an ideal, not a practical knowledge. It has been my lot during the vicissitudes of a maritime life to have suffered hunger to extremity; and although impossible to express the corporeal agony, yet some notion of it may be conceived from the effect it had upon my mind. I felt that I hated the whole world, kin or no kin; that theft was a virtue, murder excusable, and cannibalism anything but disgusting; from which the inference may be safely drawn, viz., that I was devilish hungry.
I mention this, because Nicholas Forster, although he had been two days without food, and had disposed of every article which was saleable, was endued with so much strength of principle as not to have thought (or if he had thought of it, immediately to have dismissed the thought) of vending the property found in the trunk by his son, and which had remained so long in their possession. That few would have been so scrupulous, I will acknowledge: whether Nicholas was over-scrupulous, is a question I leave to be debated by those who are fond of argument. I only state the fact.
Until the arrival of the ship brought home by Mr Berecroft, the allotment of Newton's wages had been regularly paid to his father; but when the owner discovered that the brig had parted company with the convoy, and had not since been heard of, the chance of capture was considered so great that the owner refused to advance any more on Newton's account. Nicholas was thus thrown upon his own resources, which were as small as they well could be. The crew of the brig, who quitted her in the boat, were picked up by a homeward-bound vessel, and brought what was considered the certain intelligence of Jackson and Newton having perished on the wreck. Nicholas, who had frequently called at the owner's since his allowance had been stopped, to obtain tidings of his son, was overwhelmed with the intelligence of his death. He returned to his own house, and never called there again. Mr Berecroft, who wished to find him out and relieve him, could not ascertain in what quarter of the town he resided, and shortly after was obliged to proceed upon another voyage. Thus was the poor optician left to his fate; and it is probable that, but for the fortunate return of Newton, it would soon have been miserably decided.
Newton was much pleased when he learnt from his father that he had not disposed of the property which he had picked up at sea, for he now felt assured that he had discovered the owner at Guadaloupe, and intended to transmit it to M. de Fontanges as soon as he could find a safe conveyance; but this at present was not practicable. As soon as his father had been re-established in his several necessities and comforts, Newton, aware that his purse would not last for ever, applied to the owner of the brig for employment; but he was decidedly refused. The loss of the vessel had soured his temper against anyone who had belonged to her. He replied that he considered Newton to be an unlucky person, and must decline his sailing in any of his vessels, even if a vacancy should occur.
To every other application made elsewhere, Newton met with the same ill fortune. Mr Berecroft was not there to recommend or to assist him, and months passed away in anxious expectation of his patron's return, when the intelligence was brought home that he had been carried off by yellow-fever, which that year had been particularly malignant and fatal. The loss of his only protector was a heavy blow to poor Newton; but he bore up against his fortune and redoubled his exertions. As before, he could always obtain employment before the mast; but this he refused, knowing that if again impressed, however well he might be off himself, and however fortunate in prize-money, his father would be left destitute, and in all probability be starved before he could return. The recollection of the situation in which he had found him on his return from the West Indies made Newton resolve not to leave his father without some surety of his being provided with the means of subsistence. He was not without some employment, and earned sufficient for their mutual maintenance by working as a rigger on board of the ships fitting for sea; and he adhered to this means of livelihood until something better should present itself. Had Newton been alone in the world, or his father able to support himself, he would have immediately applied to Captain Carrington to receive him in some capacity on board of his frigate, or have entered on board of some other man-of-war. Newton's heart was too generous, and his mind too truly English, not to bound when he read or heard of the gallant encounters between the vessels of the rival nations, and he longed to be one of the many thousands so diligently employed in twining the wreath of laurel round their country's brow.
Nearly one year of constant fatigue, constant expectation, and constant disappointment was thus passed away; affairs grew daily worse, employment scarce, money scarcer. Newton, who had been put off from receiving his wages until the ensuing day, which, as they had no credit, was in fact putting off their dinner also to the morrow, went home, and dropped on a chair in a despondent mood, at the table where Nicholas was already seated.
"Well, Newton, what's for dinner?" said Nicholas, drawing his chair close to the table in preparation.
"I have not been paid the money due to me," replied Newton; "and, father, I'm afraid there's nothing."
Nicholas backed his chair from the table again, with an air of resignation, as Newton continued:
"Indeed, father, I think we must try our fortune elsewhere. What's the use of staying where we cannot get employment? Everything is now gone, except our wearing apparel. We might raise some money upon mine, it is true; but had we not better, before we spend it, try if fortune will be more favourable to us in some other place?"
"Why, yes, Newton, I've been thinking that if we were to go to London, my improvement on the duplex—"
"Is that our only chance there, sir?" replied Newton, half smiling.
"Why no; now I think of it, I've a brother there, John Forster, or Jack, as we used to call him. It's near thirty years since I heard of him; but somebody told me, when you were in the West Indies, that he had become a great lawyer, and was making a large fortune. I quite forgot the circumstance till just now."
Newton had before heard his father mention that he had two brothers, but whether dead or alive he could not tell. The present intelligence appeared to hold out some prospect of relief, for Newton could not for a moment doubt that if his uncle was in such flourishing circumstances, he would not refuse assistance to his brother. He therefore resolved not to wait until their means were totally exhausted: the next day he disposed of all his clothes except one suit, and found himself richer than he had imagined. Having paid his landlord the trifle due for rent, without any other incumbrance than the packet of articles picked up in the trunk at sea, three pounds sterling in his pocket, and the ring of Madame de Fontanges on his little finger, Newton, with his father, set off on foot for the metropolis.
"I labour to diffuse the important good Till this great truth by all be understood, That all the pious duty which we owe Our parents, friends, our country, and our God, The seeds of every virtue here below, From discipline and early culture grow." WEST.
The different chapters of a novel remind me of a convoy of vessels. The incidents and dramatis personae are so many respective freights, all under the charge of the inventor, who, like a man-of-war, must see them all safely, and together, into port. And as the commanding officer, when towing one vessel which has lagged behind up to the rest, finds that in the meantime another has dropped nearly out of sight, and is obliged to cast off the one in tow, to perform the same necessary duty towards the sternmost, so am I necessitated for the present to quit Nicholas and Newton, while I run down to Edward Forster and his protegee.
It must be recollected that, during our narrative, "Time has rolled his ceaseless course," and season has succeeded season, until the infant, in its utter helplessness to lift its little hands for succour, has sprung up into a fair blue-eyed little maiden of nearly eight years old, light as a fairy in her proportions, bounding as a fawn in her gait; her eyes beaming with joy, and her cheeks suffused with the blush of health, when tripping over the sea-girt hills; meek and attentive when listening to the precepts of her fond and adopted parent.
"Faithful," the Newfoundland dog, is no more, but his portrait hangs over the mantel-piece in the little parlour. Mrs Beazely, the housekeeper, has become inert and querulous from rheumatism and the burden of added years. A little girl, daughter of Robertson, the fisherman, has been called in to perform her duties, while she basks in the summer's sun or hangs over the winter's fire. Edward Forster's whole employment and whole delight has long been centred in his darling child, whose beauty of person, quickness of intellect, generous disposition, and affectionate heart, amply repay him for his kind protection.
Of all chapters which can be ventured upon, one upon education is perhaps the most tiresome. Most willingly would I pass it over, not only for the reader's sake, but for mine own; for his—because it cannot well be otherwise than dry and uninteresting; for mine—because I do not exactly know how to write it.
But this cannot be. Amber was not brought up according to the prescribed maxims of Mesdames Appleton and Hamilton; and as effects cannot be satisfactorily comprehended without the causes are made known, so it becomes necessary, not only that the chapter should be written, but, what is still more vexatious, absolutely necessary that it should be read.
Before I enter upon this most unpleasant theme—unpleasant to all parties, for no one likes to teach, and no one likes to learn,—I cannot help remarking how excessively au fait we find most elderly maiden ladies upon every point connected with the rearing of our unprofitable species. They are erudite upon every point ab ovo, and it would appear that their peculiar knowledge of the theory can but arise from their attentions having never been diverted by the practice.
Let it be the teeming mother or the new-born babe—the teething infant or the fractious child—the dirty, pinafored urchin or sampler-spoiling girl—school-boy lout or sapling Miss—voice-broken, self-admiring hobby-de-hoy, or expanding conscious and blushing maiden, the whole arcana of nature and of art has been revealed to them alone.
Let it be the scarlet fever or a fit of passion, the measles or a shocking fib—whooping-cough or apple-stealing—learning too slow or eating too fast—slapping a sister or clawing a brother—let the disease be bodily or mental, they alone possess the panacea; and blooming matrons, spreading out in their pride, like the anxious clucking hen, over their numerous encircling offspring, who have borne them with a mother's throes, watched over them with a mother's anxious mind, and reared them with a mother's ardent love, are considered to be wholly incompetent, in the opinion of these dessicated and barren branches of Nature's stupendous, ever-bearing tree.
Mrs Beazely, who had lost her husband soon after marriage, was not fond of children, as they interfered with her habits of extreme neatness. As far as Amber's education was concerned, all we can say is, that if the old housekeeper did no good, she certainly did her no harm. As Amber increased in years and intelligence, so did her thirst for knowledge on topics upon which Mrs Beazely was unable to give her any correct information. Under these circumstances, when applied to, Mrs Beazely, who was too conscientious to mislead the child, was accustomed to place her hand upon her back, and complain of the rheumatiz—"Such a stitch, my dear love, can't talk now—ask your pa when he comes home."
Edward Forster had maturely weighed the difficulties of the charge imposed upon him, that of educating a female. The peculiarity of her situation, without a friend in the wide world except himself; and his days, in all probability, numbered to that period at which she would most require an adviser—that period, when the heart rebels against the head and too often overthrows the legitimate dynasty of reason, determined him to give a masculine character to her education, as most likely to prove the surest safeguard through a deceitful world.
Aware that more knowledge is to be imparted to a child by conversation than by any other means (for by this system education is divested of its drudgery), during the first six years of her life Amber knew little more than the letters of the alphabet. It was not until her desire of information was excited to such a degree as to render her anxious to obtain her own means of acquiring it that Amber was taught to read; and then it was at her own request. Edward Forster was aware that a child of six years old, willing to learn, would soon pass by another who had been drilled to it at an earlier age and against its will, and whose mind had been checked in its expansive powers by the weight which constantly oppressed its infant memory. Until the above age, the mind of Amber had been permitted to run as unconfined through its own little regions of fancy, as her active body had been allowed to spring up the adjacent hills—and both were equally beautified and strengthened by the healthy exercise.
Religion was deeply impressed upon her grateful heart; but it was simplified almost to unity, that it might be clearly understood. It was conveyed to her through the glorious channel of nature, and God was loved and feared from the contemplation and admiration of His works.
Did Amber fix her eyes upon the distant ocean, or watch the rolling of the surf; did they wander over the verdant hills, or settle on the beetling cliff; did she raise her cherub-face to the heavens, and wonder at the studded firmament of stars, or the moon sailing in her cold beauty, or the sun blinding her in his warmth and splendour;—she knew that it was God who made them all. Did she ponder over the variety of the leaf; did she admire the painting of the flower, or watch the motions of the minute insect, which, but for her casual observation, might have lived and died unseen;—she felt, she knew that all was made for man's advantage or enjoyment, and that God was great and good. Her orisons were short, but they were sincere; unlike the child who, night and morning, stammers through a "Belief" which it cannot comprehend, and whose ideas of religion are, from injudicious treatment, too soon connected with feelings of impatience and disgust.
Curiosity has been much abused. From a habit we have contracted in this world of not calling things by their right names, it has been decried as a vice, whereas it ought to have been classed as a virtue. Had Adam first discovered the forbidden fruit he would have tasted it, without, like Eve, requiring the suggestions of the devil to urge him on to disobedience. But if by curiosity was occasioned the fall of man, it is the same passion by which he is spurred to rise again, and reappear only inferior to the Deity. The curiosity of little minds may be impertinent; but the curiosity of great minds is the thirst for knowledge—the daring of our immortal powers—the enterprise of the soul, to raise itself again to its original high estate. It was curiosity which stimulated the great Newton to search into the laws of heaven, and enabled his master-mind to translate the vast mysterious page of Nature, ever before our eyes since the creation of the world, but never, till he appeared, to be read by mortal man. It is this passion which must be nurtured in our childhood, for upon its healthy growth and vigour depends the future expansion of the mind.
How little money need be expended to teach a child, and yet what a quantity of books we have to pay for! Amber had hardly ever looked into a book, and yet she knew more, that is, had more general useful knowledge than others who were twice her age. How small was Edward Forster's little parlour—how humble the furniture it contained!—a carpet, a table, a few chairs, a small China vase, as an ornament, on the mantel-piece. How few were the objects brought to Amber's view in their small secluded home! The plates and knives for dinner, a silver spoon or two, and their articles of wearing apparel. Yet how endless, how inexhaustible was the amusement and instruction derived from these trifling sources!—for these were Forster's books.
The carpet—its hempen ground carried them to the north, from whence the material came, the inhabitants of the frozen world, their manners and their customs, the climate and their cities, their productions and their sources of wealth. Its woollen surface, with its various dyes—each dye containing an episode of an island or a state, a point of natural history, or of art and manufacture.
The mahogany table, like some magic vehicle, transported them in a second to the torrid zone, where the various tropical flowers and fruit, the towering cocoa-nut, the spreading palm, the broad-leaved banana, the fragrant pine—all that was indigenous to the country, all that was peculiar in the scenery and the clime, were pictured to the imagination of the delighted Amber.
The little vase upon the mantel-piece swelled into a splendid atlas of eastern geography, an inexhaustible folio describing Indian customs, the Asiatic splendour of costume, the gorgeous thrones of the descendants of the Prophet, the history of the Prophet himself, the superior instinct and stupendous body of the elephant; all that Edward Forster had collected of nature or of art, through these extensive regions, were successively displayed, until they returned to China, from whence they had commenced their travels. Thus did the little vase, like the vessel taken up by the fisherman in the "Arabian Nights," contain a giant confined by the seal of Solomon—Knowledge.
The knife and spoon brought food unto the mind as well as to the body. The mines were entered, the countries pointed out in which they were to be found, the various metals, their value, and the uses to which they were applied. The dress again led them abroad; the cotton hung in pods upon the tree, the silkworm spun its yellow tomb, all the process of manufacture was explained. The loom again was worked by fancy, until the article in comment was again produced.
Thus was Amber instructed and amused: and thus, with nature for his hornbook, and art for his primer, did the little parlour of Edward Forster expand into the "universe."
"——they boast Their noble birth: conduct us to the tombs Of their forefathers, and from age to age Ascending, trumpet their illustrious race." COWPER.
Devoted as he was to the instruction of his adopted child, Edward Forster was nevertheless aware that more was required in the education of a female than he was competent to fulfil. Many and melancholy were his reveries on the forlorn prospects of the little girl (considering his own precarious life and the little chance that appeared of restoring her to her friends and relations), still he resolved that all that could should be done; the issue he left to Providence. That she might not be cast wholly unknown upon the world, in case of his death, he had often taken Amber to a neighbouring mansion, with the owner of which, Lord Aveleyn, he had long been on friendly terms; although, until latterly, he had declined mixing with the society which was there collected. Many years before, the possessor had entered the naval service, and had, during the few months that he had served in the capacity of midshipman, been intrusted to the charge of Edward Forster.
It is a curious fact, although little commented upon, how much society in general is affected by the entailment of property in aristocratical families upon the male heir; we may add, how much it is demoralised. The eldest son, accustomed from his earliest days to the flattery and adulation of dependents, is impressed with but one single idea, namely, that he is the fortunate person deputed by chance to spend so many thousands per annum, and that his brothers and sisters, with equal claims upon their parent, are to be almost dependent upon him for support. Of this, the latter are but too soon made conscious, by the difference of treatment which they experience from those around them; and feelings of envy and ill-will towards their eldest brother are but too often the result of such inequality. Thus, one of the greatest charms of life, unity between brethren, is destroyed.
The possessor of the title and the estates is at last borne to his long home, there to lie until summoned before that Presence where he, and those who were kings, and those who were clowns, will stand trembling as erring men, awaiting the fiat of eternal justice. In his turn, the young lord revels in his youth.
Then how much more trying is the situation of the younger brothers. During their father's lifetime they had a home, and were brought up in scenes and with ideas commensurate with the fortune which had been entailed. Now, they find themselves thrown upon the world, without the means of support, even adequate to their wants. Like the steward in the parable, "They cannot dig, to beg they are ashamed;" and, like him, they too often resort to unworthy means to supply their exigencies.
Should the young heir prove sickly, what speculations on his demise! The worldly stake is so enormous that the ties of nature are dissolved, and a brother rejoices at a brother's death! One generation is not sufficient to remove these feelings; the barrenness of his marriage-bed, or the weakly state of his children, are successively speculated upon by the presumptive heir. Let it not be supposed that I would infer this always to be the fact. I have put the extreme case, to point out what must ensue, according to the feelings of our nature, if care is not taken to prevent its occurrence. There is a cruelty, a more than cruelty, in parents bringing up their children with ideas which seldom can be realised, and rendering their future lives a pilgrimage of misery and discontent, if not of depravity.
But the major part of our aristocracy are neither deficient in talent nor in worth. They set a bright example to the nobles of other countries, and very frequently even to the less demoralised society of our own. Trammelled by the deeds of their forefathers, they employ every means in their power to remedy the evil; and a large proportion of their younger branches find useful and honourable employment in the army, the navy, or the church. But their numbers cannot all be provided for by these channels; and it is the country at large which is taxed to supply the means of sustenance to the younger scions of nobility—taxed directly in the shape of place and sinecure, indirectly in various ways; but in no way so heavily as by the monopoly of the East India Company, which has so long been permitted to oppress the nation, that these detrimentals (as they have named themselves), may be provided for. It is a well-known fact, that there is hardly a peer in the Upper House, or many representatives of the people in the lower, who are not, or who anticipate to be, under some obligation to this Company, by their relations or connections being provided for in those distant climes; and it is this bribery (for bribery it is, in whatever guise it may appear) that upholds one of the most glaring, the most oppressive of all monopolies, in the face of common sense, common justice, and common decency. Other taxes are principally felt by the higher and middling classes; but this most odious, this most galling tax, is felt even in the cottage of the labourer, who cannot return to refresh himself after his day of toil with his favourite beverage, without paying twice its value out of his hard-earned pittance, to swell the dividend of the Company, and support these pruriencies of noble blood.
And yet, deprecating the evils arising from the system of entail, I must acknowledge that there are no other means by which (in a monarchical government) the desirable end of upholding rank is to be obtained. I remember once, when conversing with an American, I inquired after one or two of his countrymen, who, but a few years before, were of great wealth and influence. To one of my remarks he answered, "In our country, all the wealth and power at the time attached to it does not prevent a name from sinking into insignificance, or from being forgotten soon after its possessor is dead, for we do not entail property. The distribution scatters the amassed heap, by which the world around him had been attracted; and although the distribution tends to the general fertilisation of the country, yet with the disappearance, the influence of the possessor, and even his name, are soon forgotten."
These remarks, as will appear in the sequel, are apposite to the parties whom I am about to introduce to the readers. As, however, they are people of some consequence, it may appear to be a want of due respect on my part, if I were to introduce them at the fag-end of a chapter.
"'Twas his the vast and trackless deep to rove. Alternate change of climates has he known, And felt the fierce extremes of either zone, Where polar skies congeal th' eternal snow, Or equinoctial suns for ever glow; Smote by the freezing or the scorching blast, A ship-boy on the high and giddy mast." FALCONER.
The father of the present Lord Aveleyn had three sons, and, in conformity with the usages commented upon in the preceding chapter, the two youngest were condemned to the army and navy; the second, who had priority of choice, being dismissed to gather laurels in a red coat, while the third was recommended to do the same, if he could, in a suit of blue. Fairly embarked in their several professions, a sum of fifty pounds per annum was placed in the hands of their respective agents, and no more was thought about a pair of "detrimentals."
Lord Aveleyn's father, who had married late in life, was summoned away when the eldest brother of the present Lord Aveleyn, the heir, was yet a minor, about two years after he had embarked in the ship to which Edward Forster belonged. Now it was the will of Providence that, about six months after the old nobleman's decease, the young lord and his second brother, who had obtained a short furlough, should most unadvisedly embark in a small sailing boat on the lake close to the mansion, and that, owing to some mismanagement of the sail, the boat upset, and they were both drowned.
As soon as the melancholy intelligence was made known to the trustees, a letter was despatched to Captain L——, who commanded the ship in which young Aveleyn was serving his time, acquainting him with the catastrophe, and requesting the immediate discharge of the young midshipman. The captain repaired on board; when he arrived on the quarter-deck, he desired the first lieutenant to send down for young Aveleyn.
"He is at the mast-head, sir," replied the first lieutenant, "for neglect of duty."
"Really, Mr W——," replied the captain, who had witnessed the boy's ascent at least a hundred times before with perfect indifference, and had often sent him up himself, "you appear to be very sharp upon that poor lad; you make no allowance for youth—boys will be boys."
"He's the most troublesome young monkey in the ship, sir," replied the first lieutenant, surprised at this unusual interference.
"He has always appeared to me to be a well-disposed, intelligent lad, Mr W——; and I wish you to understand that I do not approve of this system of eternal mast-heading. However, he will not trouble you any more, as his discharge is to be immediately made out. He is now," continued the captain, pausing to give more effect to his communication, "Lord Aveleyn."
"Whew! now the murder's out," mentally exclaimed the first lieutenant.
"Call him down immediately, Mr W——, if you please—and recollect that I disapprove of the system."
"Certainly, sir; but really, Captain L——, I don't know what I shall do if you restrict my power of punishing the young gentlemen; they are so extremely unruly. There's Mr Malcolm," continued the first lieutenant, pointing to a youngster who was walking on the other side of the deck, with his hands in his pockets, "it was but yesterday that he chopped off at least four inches from the tail of your dog 'Ponto' at the beef-block, and pretends it was an accident."
"What! my setter's tail?"
"Yes, sir, he did, I can assure you."
"Mr Malcolm," cried the captain, in great wrath, "how came you to cut off my dog's tail?"
Before I went to sea I had always considered a London cock-sparrow to be the truest emblem of consummate impudence; but I have since discovered that he is quite modest compared to a midshipman.
"Me, sir?" replied the youngster, demurely. "I didn't cut off his tail, sir; he cut it off himself!"
"What, sir?" roared the captain.
"If you please, sir, I was chopping a piece of beef, and the dog, who was standing by, turned short round, and put his tail under the chopper."
"Put his tail under the chopper, you little scamp!" replied Captain L——, in a fury. "Now just put your head above the maintop-gallant cross-trees, and stay there until you are called down. Mr W——, you'll keep him up till sunset."
"Ay, ay, sir," replied the first lieutenant, with a satisfactory smile at the description of punishment inflicted.
When I was a midshipman, it was extremely difficult to avoid the mast-head. Out of six years served in that capacity, I once made a calculation that two of them were passed away perched upon the cross-trees, looking down with calm philosophy upon the microcosm below. Yet, although I never deserved it, I derived much future advantage from my repeated punishments. The mast-head, for want of something worse to do, became my study; and during the time spent there, I in a manner finished my education. Volumes after volumes were perused to while away the tedious hours; and I conscientiously believe it is to this mode of punishment adopted by my rigid superiors that the world is indebted for all the pretty books which I am writing.
I was generally exalted either for thinking or not thinking; and as I am not aware of any medium between the active and passive state of our minds (except dreaming, which is still more unpardonable), the reader may suppose that there is no exaggeration in my previous calculation of one-third of my midshipman existence having been passed away upon "the high and giddy mast."
"Mr M——," would the first lieutenant cry out, "why did you stay so long on shore with the jolly-boat?"
"I went to the post-office for the officers' letters, sir."
"And pray, sir, who ordered you?"
"No one, sir; but I thought—"
"You thought, sir! How dare you think?—go up to the mast-head, sir."
So much for thinking.
"Mr M——," would he say at another time, when I came on board, "did you call at the admiral's office?"
"No, sir; I had no orders. I didn't think—"
"Then why didn't you think, sir? Up to the mast-head, and stay there till I call you down."
So much for not thinking. Like the fable of the wolf and the lamb, it was all the same; bleat as I pleased, my defence was useless, and I could not avert my barbarous doom.
To proceed: Captain L—— went over the side; the last pipe had been given, and the boatswain had returned his call into his jacket-pocket and walked forward, when the first lieutenant, in pursuance of his orders, looked up aloft, intending to have hailed the new lord, and have requested the pleasure of his company on deck; but the youngster, feeling a slight degree of appetite, after enjoying the fresh air for seven hours without any breakfast, had just ventured down the topmast rigging, that he might obtain possession of a bottle of tea and some biscuit, which one of his messmates had carried up for him, and stowed away in the bunt of the maintopsail. Young Aveleyn, who thought that the departure of the captain would occupy the attention of the first lieutenant, had just descended to, and was placing his foot on the topsail yard, when Mr W—— looked up, and witnessed this act of disobedience. As this was a fresh offence committed, he thought himself warranted in not complying with the captain's mandate, and the boy was ordered up again, to remain till sunset. "I would have called him down," muttered Mr W——, whose temper had been soured from long disappointment; "but since he's a lord, he shall have a good spell of it before he quits the service; and then we shall not have his recommendation to others in his own rank to come into it and interfere with our promotion."
Now, it happened that Mr W——, who had an eye like a hawk, when he cast his eyes aloft, observed that the bunt of the maintopsail was not exactly so well stowed as it ought to be on board of a man-of-war; which is not to be wondered at, when it is recollected that the midshipmen had been very busy enlarging it to make a pantry. He therefore turned the hands up, "mend sails," and took his station amidship on the booms, to see that this, the most delinquent sail, was properly furled.—"Trice up—lay out—All ready forward?"—"All ready, sir."—"All ready abaft?"—"All ready, sir."—"Let fall."—Down came the sails from the yards, and down also came the bottle of tea and biscuit upon the face of the first lieutenant, who was looking up; the former knocking out three of his front teeth, besides splitting open both his lips and chin.
Young Aveleyn, who witnessed the catastrophe, was delighted; the other midshipmen on deck crowded round their superior, to offer their condolements, winking and making faces at each other in by-play, until the first lieutenant descended to his cabin, when they no longer restrained their mirth.
About an hour afterwards, Mr W—— reappeared, with his face bound up, and summoned all the young gentlemen on deck, insisting upon being informed who it was who had stowed away the bottle in the bunt of the sail; but midshipmen have most treacherous memories, and not one of them knew anything about it. As a last resource, young Aveleyn was called down from the mast-head.
"Now, sir," said Mr W——, "either inform me directly who it was who stowed away the bottle aloft, or I pledge you my word you shall be discharged from his Majesty's service to-morrow morning. Don't pretend to say that you don't know—for you must."
"I do know," replied the youngster, boldly; "but I never will tell."
"Then either you or I shall leave the service. Man the first cutter;" and when the boat was manned, the first lieutenant sent some papers on shore, which he had been desired to do by the captain.