Jack then related their adventures, which gradually brought a smile to the pale lips of Fritz.
"But the water?" inquired Fritz, after he had heard the story.
"Oh, water; they offered us something to drink on shore that will prevent us being thirsty for a month to come, but we shall see to that to-morrow."
Towards dark, some fireworks were discharged on board the pinnace, by way of demonstrating that Willis's pipe was not the only fiery terror the great Rono had at his command.
Early next morning a flotilla of canoes were observed rounding one of the points that formed the bay. The one in advance was larger than the others, and was evidently the trunk of a large tree hollowed out. Jack's new friend, the Portuguese, hailed the pinnace, and announced the King and Queen of Hawai, who thereupon scrambled into the pinnace. His majesty King Toubowrai had probably felt it incumbent upon himself to do honor to the illustrious Rono, for he wore an old uniform coat, very likely the produce of a wreck, through the sleeves of which the angular knobs of his copper-colored elbows projected. He did not seem very much at his ease in this garment, which contrasted oddly with the tight-fitting tattooed skin that served him for pantaloons.
His wife, Queen Tonico, princess-like was half stifled in a thick blanket or mat of cocoa-nut fibre. Her ears were heavily laden with teeth and ornaments of various kinds, made out of bone, mother of pearl, and tortoise-shell. Her nails were two or three inches long; and, to judge by the number of finger-joints that were wanting, she was either troubled with delicate nerves, or was slightly hypochondriac.
The royal pair were accompanied by a band of music: fortunately, this remained in the regal barge. It consisted of a flute with four holes, a nondescript instrument, seemingly made of stones; a drum made out of the hollow trunk of a tree, covered at each end with skin, of what kind it is needless to inquire. The sounds emitted by this orchestra were of an ear-rending nature, and of a kind graphically termed by the Germans Katzenmusik.
"Illustrious Rono," cried Jack, "for goodness sake, tell these gentlemen you are not a lover of sweet sounds."
"Belay there!" roared Willis.
This command, however, had no effect; the artists continued thumping and blowing away as before. Willis, thinking to make himself better heard, placed his hands on his mouth, and roared the same order through them. This action seemed to be received as a mark of approbation, for the noise became absolutely terrific.
"No use," said Willis: "I can make nothing of them. You try what you can do."
"Very good," said Jack, lighting what is technically termed an artichoke, but better known as a zig-zag cracker; "if they do not understand English, perhaps they may comprehend pyrotechnics."
The artichoke was thrown into the royal barge. At first there was only a slight whiz, finally it gave an angry bound and leaped into the midst of the musicians. Startled, they tried to get out of its way; but they were no sooner at what they thought to be a safe distance, than the thing was amongst them again. Their majesties, who were just then engaged in kissing the Rono's feet, started up in alarm; but when they saw the danger did not menace themselves, they burst into a hearty laugh at the antics of their suite.
This episode over, and the orchestra silenced, the Sovereign of Hawai proceeded to inspect the pinnace. He expressed his delight every now and then by uttering the syllables "ta-ta." Fritz handed one of those shaving glasses to the Queen that lengthen the objects they reflect. This astonished her Majesty vastly, and caused her to ta-ta at a great rate. She looked behind the mirror, turned it upside down, and at last, when she felt assured that it was the royal person it caricatured, she commenced measuring her cheeks to account for the extraordinary disproportion.
They next all sat down to a repast that was spread on deck. Their Majesties observing Rono use a fork, did so likewise; but though they stuck a piece of meat on the end of it, and held it in one hand, they continued carrying the viands to their mouths with the other. At the conclusion of the feast, Willis took a pinch of snuff out of a canister. Their Majesties insisted upon doing so likewise. Willis handed them the canister, and they filled their noses with the treacherous powder. Then followed a duet of sneezing, accompanied with facial contortions. The royal personages thinking, probably, that they were poisoned, leaped into the sea like a couple of frogs, and swam to the royal barge.
"Holloa, sire," cried Jack, "where are you off to?"
This was answered by the barge paddling away rapidly towards land. Hitherto, the whole affair had been a farce; but now the natives, who had collected in great numbers along the shore, seeing their king and queen leap into the water with a terrified air, supposed that an attempt had been made to cut short their royal lives, and, under this impression, discharged a cloud of arrows at the pinnace, and matters began to assume a serious aspect.
"What!" exclaimed Jack, "shooting at the great Rono!"
"That," said Fritz, "only proves they are men like ourselves. He who is covered with incense one day, is very often immolated the next."
"And that simply because Rono treated Mr. and Mrs. What's-their-names to a pinch of snuff. Serve them right to discharge the contents of the four-pounder amongst them."
"No, no," cried Willis; "the worthy people are, perhaps, fond of their king and queen."
"Worthy people or not," said Fritz, drawing out an arrow that had sunk into the capstan, "it is very likely that if this dart had hit one of us, there would only have been two instead of three in the crew of the pinnace."
"Well," said Willis, "Master Jack thought the voyage rather dull; now something has turned up to relieve the monotony of his log."
"We are still without fresh water though, Willis; I wish you could say that had turned up as well."
"It will be prudent to go in search of that somewhere else now," said Willis, unfurling the sails. "Fortunately the wind is fresh, and we can make considerable headway before night."
As they steered gently out of the bay a second cloud of arrows was sent after them, but this time they fell short.
"The belief in Rono is about to be seriously compromised," remarked Fritz; "I should advise the priestess to retire into private life."
"Because she is too fat to live in an ordinary house, she could only breathe in a temple. But, O human vicissitudes!" added Jack, rolling himself up in a sail after the manner of the Roman senators; "behold Rono the Great banished from his country, and compelled to go and pillow his head on a foreign sail, like Marius at Minturnus—like Coriolanus amongst the Volcians—like Hannibal at the house of Antiochus—like Alcibiades at the castle of Grunium in Phrygia, given to him out of charity by the benevolent Pharnabazus, and in which he was burnt alive by his countrymen—like Cimon, voted into exile by ballot and universal suffrage—like Aristides, whom the people got tired of hearing called the Just, and many others."
"Who are all these personages?" inquired Willis.
"They were worthies of another age," replied Fritz; "very excellent men in their way, and you are in no way dishonored by being numbered amongst them."
"Yesterday," continued Jack, "an entire people were upon their knees before you; they offered up sacrifices, and poured out incense on their altars for you; fruit and pigs were scattered in heaps, like flowers, upon your path; the crowd were prostrated by the fumes of your pipe. To-day—alas, the change!—a cloud of arrows, and not a single glass of cold water!"
"That gives you an opportunity of quenching your thirst with the nectar offered to you yesterday," said Fritz; "as for myself, I have no such resource."
"Yes, that was a posset to quench one's thirst withal; I only wish I had a cupful to give you. I do not regret having had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with the people though. They have enabled me to rectify some erroneous notions I formerly entertained. If, for example, I were to ask you what air consists of? you would, no doubt, reply that is a compound body made of oxygen and hydrogen or azote, in the proportion of twenty-one of the one to seventy-nine of the other."
"Yes, most undoubtedly."
"Well, such is not the case; there are other elements in the air besides these."
"If you mean that the air accidentally, or even permanently, holds in solution a certain quantity of water, or a portion of carbonic acid gas, and possibly some particles of dust arising from terrestrial bodies, then I grant your premises."
"No; what I mean is, that the air of Hawai is composed of three distinct elements."
"Possibly; but if so, the air in question is not known to chemists."
"These three elements are oxygen, hydrogen, and insects."
"Ah, insects! I might have fancied you were driving at some hypothesis of that sort."
"I intend to communicate this discovery to the first learned society we fall in with."
"In the Pacific Ocean?"
"Yes: there or elsewhere."
"I always understood," observed Willis, "that air was a sort of cloud, one and indivisible."
"A cloud if you like, Willis; but do you know the weight of it you carry on your shoulders?"
"Well, it cannot be very great, otherwise I should feel it."
"What do you say to a ton or so, old fellow?"
"If you wish me to believe that, you will have to explain how, where, when, why, and wherefore."
"Very good. Willis; you have bathed sometimes?"
"In the sea?"
"Do you know what water weighs?"
"No, but I know that it is heavy."
"Well, a square yard of air weighs two pounds and a half, but a square yard of water weighs two thousand pounds. Now, can you calculate the weight of the water that is on your back and pressing on your sides when you swim?"
"No, I cannot."
"You are not sufficiently up in arithmetic to do that, Willis?"
"Nor am I either, Willis; but let me ask you how it is that the waves do not carry you along with them?"
"Because one wave neutralises the effect of another."
"Very good; but how is it that these ponderous waves, coming down upon you, do not crush you to atoms by their mere weight?"
"Well, I suppose that liquids do not operate in the same way as solids: perhaps there is something in our bodies that counterbalances the effect of the water."
"Very likely; and if such be the case as regards water, may it not be so also as regards air?"
"But I do not feel air; whereas, if I go into water, I not only feel it, but taste it sometimes, and I cannot force my way through it without considerable exertion."
"That is because you are organized to live in air and not in water. You ask the smallest sprat or sticklebake if it does not, in the same way feel the air obstruct its progress."
"But would the stickleback answer me, Master Fritz?"
"Why not, if it is polite and well bred?"
"By the way, Willis," inquired Jack, "do you ever recollect having lived without breathing?"
"Can't say I do."
"Very well, then; had you felt the weight of the air at any given moment, it must have produced an impression you never felt before, but you have not, because circumstances have never varied. A sensation supposes a contrast, whilst, ever since you existed, you have always been subject to atmospheric pressure."
"Ah, now I begin to get at the gist of your argument. You mean, for example, that I would never have appreciated the delicate flavor of Maryland or Havanna, had I not been accustomed to smoke the cabbage-leaf manufactured in Whitechapel."
"Precisely so; and take for another example the farm of Antisana, which is situated about midway up the Cordilleras, mountains of South America. When travellers, arriving there from the summits which are covered with perpetual snow, meet others arriving from the plain where the heat is intense, those that descend are invariably bathed in perspiration, whilst those that have come up are shivering with cold and covered with furs. The reason of this is, that we cannot feel warm till we have been cold, and vice versa."
"Our bodies," resumed Fritz, "however much the thermometer descends, never mark less than thirty-five degrees above zero. In winter the skin shrinks, and becomes a bad conductor of heat from without; but, at the same time, does not allow so much gas and vapor to escape from within. In summer, on the contrary, the skin dilates and allows perspiration to form, a process that consumes a considerable amount of latent heat. Starting from this principle, it has been calculated that a man, breathing twenty times in a minute, generates as much heat in twenty-four hours as would boil a bucket of water taken at zero."
"If means could be found," remarked Jack, "to furnish him with a boiler, by fixing a piston here and a pipe there man might be converted into one of the machines we were talking about the other day."
"Were I disposed to philosophize," added Fritz, "I might prove to you that for a long time men have been little else than mere machines."
Before night they had run about thirty miles further to the north-east, without seeing any thing beyond a formidable bluff, guarded by a fringe of breakers, that would soon have swallowed up the Mary had she ventured to reach the land. It was necessary however to obtain fresh water at any price before they resumed their voyage.
It was to be feared that all the islanders of the Pacific were not in expectation of a great Rono, consequently Willis suggested that it would be as well to search for an uninhabited spot. The only question was, how long they might have to search before they succeeded; for they knew that there were plenty of small islands in these latitudes unencumbered by savages, and furnished with pools and springs of water.
Night at length closed in upon them, and with it came a dense mist, that enveloped the Mary as if in a triple veil of muslin.
"Willis," inquired Jack, "what difference is there between a mist and a cloud?"
"None that I know of," replied the Pilot, "except that a cloud which we are in is mist, and mist that we are not in is a cloud. And now, my lads," he added, "you may turn in, for I intend to take the first watch."
Before turning in, however, all three joined in a short prayer. The young men had not yet forgotten the pious precepts of their father. Prayer is beautiful everywhere, but nowhere is it so beautiful as on the open sea, with infinity above and an abyss beneath. Then, when all is silent save the roar of the waves and the howling of the winds, it is sublime to hear the humble voice of the sailor murmuring, "Star of the night, pray for us!"
That night the star of the night did pray for the three voyagers, for the rays of the moon burst through the darkness and the mist, and fell upon a long line of reefs under the lee of the pinnace. Had they held on their course a few minutes longer, our story would have been ended.
LYING TO—HEART AND INSTINCT—SPARROWS VIEWED AS CONSUMERS—MIGRATIONS—POSTING A LETTER IN THE PACIFIC—CANNIBALS—ADVENTURES OF A LOCKET.
The glimpse of moonshine only lasted a second, but it was sufficient to light up the valley of the shadow of death. All around was again enveloped in obscurity. The moon, like a modest benefactor who hides himself from those to whose wants he has ministered, concealed itself behind its screen of blackness.
The pinnace was thrown into stays, and they resolved to lie-to till daybreak. There might be rocks to windward as well as to leeward; at all events, they felt that their safest course lay in maintaining, as far as possible, their actual position; and, after having returned thanks for their almost miraculous escape, they made the usual arrangements for passing the night.
Next morning they found themselves in the midst of a labyrinth of rocks, from which, with the help of Providence, they succeeded in extricating themselves. The rocks, or rather reefs, amongst which they were entangled, are very common in these seas. As they are scarcely visible at high water, they are extremely dangerous, and often baffle the skill of the most expert navigator.
Whilst Willis steered the pinnace amongst the islands and rocks of the Hawaian Archipelago, Fritz kept a look-out for savages, fresh water, and eligible landing-places. And Jack, after having posted up his log, set about inditing a letter for home.
"The voyage," said he, "has lately been so prolific in adventure, that I scarcely know where to begin."
"Begin by saluting them all round," suggested Fritz.
"But, brother of mine, that is usually done at the end of the letter," objected Jack.
"What then? you can repeat the salutations at the end, and you might also, for that matter, put them in the middle as well."
"I have written lots of letters on board ship for my comrades," remarked Willis, "and I invariably commenced by saying—I take a pen in my hand to let you know I am well, hoping you are the same."
"What else could you take in your hand for such a purpose, O Rono?" inquired Jack.
"Sometimes, after this preamble, I added, 'but I am afraid.'"
"I thought you old salts were never afraid of anything, short of the Flying Dutchman."
"Yes; but the letters I put that in were for young lubbers, who, instead of sending home half their pay, were writing for extra supplies, and were naturally in great fear that their requests would be refused."
"I scarcely think I shall adopt that style, Willis, even though it were recognized by the navy regulations."
"Do you think the pigeon will find its way with the letter from here to New Switzerland?" inquired Willis.
"I have no doubt about that," replied Fritz, "it naturally returns to its nest and its affections. If you had wings, would you not fly straight off in the direction of the Bass Rock or Ailsa Craig, to hunt up your old arm-chair?"
"Don't speak of it; I feel my heart go pit-pat when I think of home, sweet home."
"So do the birds. When they soften the grain before they throw it into the maw of their fledgelings—when they fly off and return laden with midges to their nests—when they tear the down from their breasts to protect their eggs and their young, do you think their hearts do not beat as well as yours?"
"But all that is said to be instinct."
"Heart or instinct, where is the difference? The Abbe Spallanzani saw two swallows that were carried to Milan return to Pavia in fifteen minutes, and the distance between the two cities is seven leagues."
"That I can easily believe."
"When you see a little, insignificant bird flying backwards and forwards, perching on one branch and hopping off to another, whistling, carolling, perching here and there, you think that it has no cares, that it does not reflect, and that it does not love!"
"Well, I have heard in my time a great many wonderful stories of robin-redbreasts and jenny-wrens, but I always understood that they were intended only to amuse little boys and girls."
"You consider, doubtless, that a field-sparrow is not a creature of much importance; but do you know that he consumes half a bushel of corn annually?"
"If that is his only merit, the farmers, I dare say, would be glad to get rid of him."
"But it is not his only merit. What do you think of his killing three thousand insects a week."
"That is more to the purpose. But, to return to the pigeon, supposing it is possible for it to find its way, how long do you suppose it will take to get there?"
"It is estimated that birds of passage fly over two hundred miles a day, if they keep on the wing for six hours."
"Two hundred miles in six hours is fast sailing, anyhow."
"Swallows have been seen in Senegal on the 9th of October, that is, eight or nine days after they leave Europe; and that journey they repeat every year."
"They must surely make some preparations for such a lengthy excursion."
"When the period of departure approaches, they collect together in troops on the chimneys or roofs of houses, and on the tops of trees. During this operation, they keep up an incessant cry, which brings families of them from all quarters. The young ones try the strength of their wings under the eyes of the parents. Finally, they make some strategic dispositions, and elect a chief."
"You talk of the swallows as if they were an army preparing for battle, with flags flying, trumpets sounding, and ready to march at the word of command."
"The resemblance between flocks of birds and serried masses of men in martial array is striking. Wild ducks, swans, and cranes fly in a kind of regimental order; their battalions assume the form of a triangle or wedge, so as to cut through the air with greater facility, and diminish the resistance it presents to their flight.
"But how do you know it is for that?"
"What else could it be for? The leader gives notice, by a peculiar cry, of the route it is about to take. This cry is repeated by the flock, as if to say that they will follow, and keep the direction indicated. When they meet with a bird of prey whose attacks they may have to repulse, the ranks fall in so as to present a solid phalanx to the enemy."
"If they had a commissariat in the rear and a few sappers in front, the resemblance would be complete."
"If a storm arises," continued Fritz, without noticing Willis's commentary, "they lower their flight and approach the ground."
"Forgotten their umbrellas, perhaps."
"When they make a halt, outposts are established to keep a look out while the troop sleeps."
"And, in cases of alarm, the outposts fire and fall in as a matter of course."
"Great Rono," said Jack, "you are become a downright quiz. I have finished my letter whilst you have been discussing the poultry," he added, handing the pen to his brother, "and it only waits your postscriptum." Fritz having added a few lines, the epistle was sealed, and was then attached to one of the pigeons, which, after hovering a short time round the pinnace, took a flight upwards and disappeared in the clouds.
They were now in sight of a large island, which bore no traces of habitation. There was a heavy surf beating on the shore, but the case was urgent, so Willis and Jack embarked in the canoe, and, after a hard fight with the waves, landed on the beach.
Each of them were armed with a double-barrelled rifle, and furnished with a boatswain's whistle. The whistle was to signal the discovery of water, and a rifle shot was to bring them together in case of danger. These arrangements being made, Jack proceeded in the direction of a thicket, which stood at the distance of some hundred yards from the shore. He had no sooner reached the cover in the vicinity of the trees than he was pounced upon by two ferocious-looking savages. They gave him no time to level his rifle or to draw a knife. One of his captors held his hands firmly behind his back, whilst the other dragged him towards the wood. At this moment the Pilot's whistle rang sharply through the air. This put an end to any hopes that Jack might have entertained of being rescued through that means. Had he sounded the whistle, it would only have led Willis to suppose that he had heard the signal, and was on his way to join him.
Poor Jack judged, from the aspect of the men who held him, that they were cannibals, and consequently that his fate was sealed, for if his surmises were correct, there was little chance of the wretches relinquishing their prey. Jack had often amused himself at the expense of the anthropophagi, but here he was actually within their grasp. Though death terminates the sorrows and the sufferings of man, and though the result is the same in whatever shape it comes, yet there are circumstances which cause its approach to be regarded with terror and dismay. In one's bed, exhausted by old age or disease, the lips only open to give utterance to a sigh of pain; life, then, is a burden that is laid down without reluctance; we glide imperceptibly and almost voluntarily into eternity.
At twenty years of age, however, when we are full of health and ardor, the case is very different. Then we are at the threshold of hope and happiness; our illusions have not had time to fade, the future is a brilliant meteor sparkling in sunshine. At that age our seas are always calm, and the rocks and shoals are all concealed. Our barks glide jauntily along, the sailors sing merrily, the perils are shrouded in romance, and the flag flutters gaily in the breeze. Then life is not abandoned without a tear of regret.
To die in the midst of one's friends is not to quit them entirely. They come to see us through the marble or stone in which we are shrouded. It is another thing to have no other sepulchre than the aesophagus of a cannibal. How the recollections of the past darted into Jack's mind! He felt that he loved those whom he was on the point of leaving a thousand times more than he did before. What would he not have given for the power to bid them one last adieu? The idea of quitting life thus was horrible.
It was in vain that he tried to shake off his assailants; his adolescent strength was as nothing in the arms of steel that bound him. He saw that he was powerless in their hands, and at length ceased making any further attempts to escape.
The savages, finding that he had relaxed his struggles, commenced to rifle and strip him. They tore off his upper garments, and discovered a small locket, containing a medallion of his mother, which the unfortunate youth wore round his neck. This prize, which the savages no doubt regarded as a talisman of some sort, they both desired to possess. They quarrelled about it, and commenced fighting over it. Jack's hands were left at liberty. In an instant he had seized his rifle. He ran a few paces back, turned, took deliberate aim at the most powerful of his adversaries, who, with a shriek, fell to the ground. The other savage, scared by the report of the shot and its effects upon his companion, took to flight, but he carried off the locket with him.
Jack had now regained his courage. He felt, like Telemachus in the midst of his battles, that God was with him, and he flew, perhaps imprudently, after the fugitive. Seeing, however, that he had no chance with him as regards speed, he discharged his second rifle. The shot did not take effect, but the report brought the savage to his knees. The frightened wretch pressed his hands together in an attitude of supplication. Jack stopped at a little distance, and, by an imperious gesture, gave him to understand that he wanted the locket. The sign was comprehended, for the savage laid the talisman on the ground.
"Now," said Jack, "in the name of my mother I give you your life."
By another sign, he signified to the man that he was at liberty, which he no sooner understood than he vanished like an arrow.
Great was the consternation of Fritz when he heard the reports; he feared that the whole island was in commotion, and that both his brother and the Pilot were surrounded by a legion of copper-colored devils. From the conformation of the coast he could see nothing, and, like Sisiphus on his rock, he was tied by imperious necessity to his post.
The Pilot, on hearing the first shot, ran to the spot, and both he and Jack arrived at the same instant, where the savage lay bleeding on the ground.
"You are safe and sound, I hope?" said Willis, anxiously.
"With the exception of some slight contusions, and the loss of my clothes, thank God, I am all right, Willis."
"We are born to bad luck, it seems."
"Say rather we are the spoilt children of Providence. I have just passed through the eye of a needle."
"Is this the only savage you have seen?"
"No, there were two of them; and, to judge from their actions, I verily believe the rascals intended to eat me. As for this one, he is more frightened than hurt."
And so it was, he had escaped with some slugs in his shoulders; but he seemed, by the contortions of his face, to think that he was dying.
"Fortunately," said Jack, "my rifle was not loaded with ball. I should be sorry to have the death of a human being on my conscience."
"Well," said Willis, "I am not naturally cruel, but, beset as you have been, I should have shot both the fellows without the slightest compunction."
"Still," said Jack, giving the wounded savage a mouthful of brandy, "we ought to have mercy on the vanquished—they are men like ourselves, at all events."
"Yes, they have flesh and bone, arms, legs, hands, and teeth like us; but I doubt whether they are possessed of souls and hearts."
"The chances are that they possess both, Willis; only neither the one nor the other has been trained to regard the things of this world in a proper light. Their notions as to diet, for example, arise from ignorance as to what substances are fit and proper for human food."
"As you like," said Willis; "but let us be off; there may be more of them lurking about."
"What! again without water?"
"No, this time I have taken care to fill the casks; the canoe is laden with fresh water."
"Fritz must be very uneasy about us; but this man may die if we leave him so."
"Very likely," said the Pilot; "but that is no business of ours."
"Good bye," said Jack, lifting up the wounded savage, and propping him against a tree; "I may never have the pleasure of seeing you again, and am sorry to leave you in such a plight; but it will be a lesson for you, and a hint to be a little more hospitable for the future in your reception of strangers."
The savage raised his eyes for an instant, as if to thank Jack for his good offices, and then relapsed into his former attitude of dejection.
Twenty minutes later the canoe was aboard the pinnace.
"Fritz," said Jack, throwing his arms round his brother's neck, "I am delighted to see you again; half an hour ago I had not the shadow of a chance of ever beholding you more."
THE UTILITY OF ADVERSITY—AN ENCOUNTER—THE HOROKEN—BILL ALIAS BOB.
A light but favorable breeze carried them away from land, and they were once again on the open sea. Willis, after a prolonged investigation of the sun's position, taken in relation to some observations he had made the day before, concluded that the best course to pursue, under existing circumstances, was to steer for the Marian Islands.[H] In addition to the distance they had originally to traverse, all the way lost during the storm was now before them. As regards provisions, they had little to fear; they could rely upon falling in with a boobie or sea-cow occasionally, and fresh fish were to be had at any time. Their supply of water, however, gave them some uneasiness, for the quantity was limited, and they might be retarded by calms and contrary winds. The chances of meeting a European ship were too slender to enter for anything into their calculations.
"It appears to me," said Jack, one beautiful evening, when they were some hundreds of miles from any habitable spot, "that, having escaped so many dangers, the watchful eye of Providence must be guarding us from evil."
"Very possibly," replied Fritz; "one of the early chroniclers of the Christian Church says that Lazarus, whom our Saviour resuscitated at the gates of Jerusalem, became afterwards one of the most popular preachers of Christianity, and in consequence the Jews regarded him with implacable hatred."
"But what, in all the world, has that to do with the Pacific Ocean?" inquired Jack.
"Very little with the Pacific in particular, but a great deal with the ocean in general. Lazarus, his sisters, and some of his friends, were thrown into prison, tried, and condemned."
"And stoned or crucified," added Jack.
"No; the high priest of the temple had a great variety of punishments on hand besides these. He resolved to expose them to the mercy of the waves, without provisions, and without a mast, sail, or rudder."
"Thank goodness, we are not so badly off as that."
"He, for whom Lazarus suffered, and who is the same that nourishes the birds of the air and feeds the beasts of the field; watched over the forlorn craft; under his guidance, the little colony of martyrs were wafted in safety to the fertile coasts of Provence. They landed, according to the tradition, at Marseilles, of whom Lazarus was the first bishop, and has always been the patron saint. Who knows?—the same good fortune may perhaps await us."
"We are not martyrs."
"True; but Providence does not always measure its favors by the merits of those upon whom they are bestowed—misfortune, alone, is often a sufficient claim; so it is well for us to be patient under a little suffering, for sweet often is the reward."
"A little hardship, now and then," added Jack, "is, no doubt, salutary. The Italians say: 'Le avversita sono per l'animo cio ch' e un temporale per l'aria.' Suffering teaches us to prize health and happiness; were there no such things as pain and grief, we should be apt to regard these blessings as valueless, and to estimate them as our legitimate rights. For my own part, I was never so happy in my whole life as when I embraced you the other day, after escaping out of the clutches of the savages."
"There are many charms in life that are almost without alloy: the perfume of flowers—music—the singing of birds—the riches of art—the intercourse of society—the delights of the family circle—the treasures of imagination and memory. Some of the most beneficent gifts of Nature we only know the existence of when we are deprived of them; occasional darkness alone enables us to appreciate the unspeakable blessing of light. Man has a multitude of enjoyments at his command; but so many sweets would be utterly insipid without a few bitters."
"The rheumatism, for example," said Willis, rubbing his shoulders.
"Many enjoyments," continued Fritz, "spring from the heart alone; the affections, benevolence, love of order, a sense of the beautiful, of truth, of honesty, and of justice."
"On the other hand," said Willis, "there are dishonesty, injustice, disappointment, and blighted hopes; but you are too young to know much about these. When you have seen as much of the world on sea and on land as I have, perhaps you will be disposed to look at life from another point of view. In old stagers like myself, the tender emotions are all used up; it is only when we are amongst you youngsters that we forget the present in the past; when we see you struggling with difficulties, it recalls our own trials to our mind, rouses in us sentiments of commiseration, and softens the asperities of our years."
"According to you, then," said Fritz, levelling his rifle at a petrel, "the misfortunes of the one constitute the happiness of the other?"
"Unquestionably," said Jack; "for instance, if you miss that bird, so much the worse for you, and so much the better for the petrel."
"It is very rarely, brother, that you do not interrupt a serious conversation with some nonsense."
"Keep your temper, Fritz; I am about to propose a serious question myself. How is it that the petrel you are aiming at does not come and perch itself quietly on the barrel of your rifle?"
"Jack, Jack, you are incorrigible."
"Did you ever see a hare or a pheasant come and stare you in the face when you were going to shoot it?"
"Stunsails and tops!" cried Willis, "if I do not see something stranger than that staring us in the face."
"The sea-serpent, perhaps," said Jack.
"I thought it was a sea-bird at first," said Willis, "but they do not increase in size the longer you look at them."
"They naturally appear to increase as they approach," observed Fritz.
"Yes, but the increase must have a limit, and I never saw a bird with such singular upper-works before. Just take a cast of the glass yourself, Master Fritz."
"Halls of AEolus!" cried Fritz, "these wings are sails."
"So I thought!" exclaimed Willis, throwing his sou'-wester into the air, and uttering a loud hurrah.
"If it is the Nelson" said Jack, "it would be a singular encounter."
"The Nelson!" sighed Willis, "in the latitude of Hawai; no, that is impossible."
"She is bearing down upon us," said Fritz.
"Just let me see a moment whether I can make out her figure-head," said Willis. "Aye, aye!"
"Can you make it out?"
"No; but, from the sheer of the hull, I think the ship is British built."
"Thank God!" exclaimed both the young men.
"Yes, you may say 'Thank God;' but, if it turns out to be a man-of-war, I must report myself on board, and I doubt whether my story will go down with the captain."
"But if it is the Nelson?" insisted Jack.
"Aye, aye; the Nelson," replied Willis, "is not going to turn up here to oblige us, you may take my word for that."
"I have better eyes than you, Willis; just let me see if I can make her out. No, impossible; nothing but the hull and sails."
"It is just possible," persisted Jack, "that the Nelson may have been detained at the Cape, and afterwards blown out of her course like ourselves."
"All I can say is," replied Willis, "that if Captain Littlestone be on board that ship, it will make me the happiest man that ever mixed a ration of grog. But these things only turn up in novels, so it is no use talking."
"She has hoisted a flag at the mizzen," cried Fritz.
"Can you make it out?"
"Well, let me see—yes, it must be so."
"What, the Union Jack?" cried Willis.
"No, a red ground striped with blue."
"The United States, as I am a sinner!" cried Willis. "Well, it might have been worse. We can go to America; there are surgeons there as well as in Europe—at all events, we can get a ship there for England. But let me see, we must hoist a bit of bunting; unfortunately, we have only British colors aboard, and I am afraid they are not in particularly high favor with our Yankee cousins just now."
"Never mind a flag," said Fritz.
"Oh, that will never do, they have hoisted a flag and are waiting a reply. But let me see," added Willis, rummaging amongst some stores, "here is one of our Shark's Island signals—that, I think, will puzzle the Yankee considerably."
The Pilot's signal was answered by a gun, the report of which rang through the air. The strange ship's sails were thrown back and she stood still. A boat then put off with a young man in uniform and six rowers on board.
"Pinnace ahoy!" cried the officer through a speaking trumpet, "who are you?"
"Shipwrecked mariners," cried Fritz, in reply.
"What is the name of your craft?"
"I was not aware that Switzerland was a naval power," observed Willis.
"She has no sea-port," said Jack, "but she has a fleet—of row boats."
"Where do you hail from?" inquired the officer.
"That gentleman is very curious," observed Jack.
Here a silence of some minutes ensued; the officer seemed at fault in his geography.
"Where away?" at last resounded from the trumpet.
"Bound for Europe," replied Fritz.
This reply elicited an expression of doubt, accompanied with such a tremendous exjurgation as made both Fritz and Jack almost shrink into the hold.
A few minutes after the Yankee in command stepped on board, and explanations were entered into that perfectly satisfied the republican officer. He continued, however, to eye Willis curiously.
The Hoboken, for that was the name of the strange ship, was an American cruiser, carrying twelve ship guns and a long paixhan. She was attached to the Chinese station, but had recently obtained information that war had been declared between England and the States. She was now making her way to the west by a circuitous route to avoid the British squadron, and, at the same time, with a view to pick up an English merchantman or two.
Fritz and Jack being citizens of a sister republic, and subjects of a neutral power, were received on board with a hearty welcome, and with the hospitality due to their interesting position. Willis also received some attention, and was treated with all the courtesy that could be shown to the native of an enemy's country.
The pinnace was taken in tow till the young men made up their minds as to the course they would adopt. A free passage to the States was kindly offered to them, and even pressed upon their acceptance; but the captain left the matter entirely to their own option.
Fritz and Jack were delighted with the warmth of their reception; and, after being so long cooped up in the narrow quarters of the pinnace, looked upon the Yankee cruiser, with its men and officers in uniform, as a sort of floating palace. The Nelson having been only a despatch-boat, it had given them but an indifferent idea of a man-of-war. On board the Yankee every thing was kept in apple-pie order. Discipline was maintained with martinet strictness. The fittings shone like a mirror. The brass cappings glistened in the sun. Complicated rolls of cable were profusely scattered about, but without confusion. The deck always seemed as fresh as if it had been planked the day before. The sails overhead seemed to obey the word of command of their own accord. The boatswain's whistle seemed to act upon the men like electricity. The seamen's cabins, six feet long by six feet broad, in which a hammock, locker, and lashing apparatus were conveniently stowed, were something very different from the accommodation on board the pinnace. These things were regarded by Fritz and Jack with great interest; and nowhere is the genius of man so brilliantly displayed as on board a well-appointed ship of war.
The young men, however, when they sat down to dinner in the captain's cabin, and beheld a long table flanked with cushioned seats, commanded at each end by arm-chairs, the side-board plentifully garnished with plate and crystal of various kinds, fastened with copper nails to prevent damage from the ship's pitching, they did not reflect that they were in the crater of a volcano, and that two paces from where they sat there was powder enough to blow the ship and all its crew up into the air.
They were likewise highly amused by the perpetual "guessing," "calculating," "reckoning," and inexhaustible curiosity of the crew; but their admiration of the ship, her guns, her stores, and her tackle, were boundless; they felt that their pinnace was a mere toy in comparison. The urbanity of the officers also was a source of much gratification to them; Jack even declared that all the civilization of Europe had been shipped on board the Hoboken, and in so far as that was concerned, they had no occasion to go on much further.
The object of this expedition, however, was a surgeon. There was one on board. Would he go to New Switzerland? Jack determined to try, and accordingly he walked straight off to the personage in question.
"Doctor," said he, "would you do myself and my brother a great favor?"
"Certainly; and, if it is in my power, you may consider it done."
"Well, will you embark with us for New Switzerland?"
"For what purpose, my friend?"
"My mother is laboring under a malady, which there is every reason to fear is cancer."
"And suppose a fever was to break out in this ship whilst I am absent, what do you imagine is to become of the officers and crew?"
"There are no symptoms of disease on board; but my mother is dying."
"You forget, young man, that disease may make its appearance at any moment. There are many sons on board whose lives are as dear to their mothers as your mother's is to you, and for every one of these lives I am officially accountable."
Jack hung down his head and was silent.
"No, my good friend, it is impossible for me to grant such a request; but, from what I know of your history, and the means at your command, you may be able to obtain the services of a competent medical man. I would, therefore, recommend you to abandon your boat, and proceed with us to our destination."
After a lengthy consultation, the two brothers and Willis determined to adopt this course. The cargo of the pinnace was accordingly transferred to the hold of the Hoboken. A short summary of their history was written, corked up in a bottle, and fastened to the mast of the Mary, which was then cut adrift. A tear gathered on the cheeks of the young men as they saw their old friend in adversity dropping slowly behind, and they did not withdraw their eyes from it till every vestige of its hull was lost in the shadows of the waters.
As Fritz and Jack were thus engaged in gazing listlessly on the ocean, and reflecting upon their altered prospects, and perhaps trying to penetrate the veil of the future, Willis came towards them rubbing his breast, as if he had been seized with a violent internal spasm.
"Hilloa," cried Jack, "the Pilot is sea-sick! Shall I run for some brandy, Willis?"
"No, stop a bit; we were in hopes of falling in with Captain Littlestone, were we not?"
"Yes; but what then?"
"We were disappointed, were we not?"
"Yes. That has not made you ill, has it?"
"No; somebody else has turned up; there is one of the Nelson's crew on board this ship."
"One of the Nelson's crew?"
"Aye, and if you only knew how my heart beat when I saw him."
"I can easily conceive your feelings," said Jack, "for my own heart has almost leaped into my mouth."
"And I am thunderstruck," added Fritz.
"I went towards my old friend," continued Willis, "with tears in my eyes, threw my arms round him, and gave him a hearty but affectionate hug."
"And what did he say?"
"Nothing, at first; but, as soon as I left his arms at liberty, he gave me such a punch in the ribs as almost doubled me in two; it was enough to knock the in'ards out of a rhinoceros—ugh!"
"A blow in earnest?" exclaimed Fritz in astonishment.
"Yes; there was no mistake about it; it was a real, good, earnest John Bull knock-down thump; it put me in mind of Portsmouth on a pay day—ugh!"
"Extremely touching," said Jack, smiling.
"Then, when I called him by his name Bill Stubbs, and asked what had become of the sloop, he said that he knew nothing at all about the sloop, and swore that he had never set his eyes on my figure-head before, the varmint—ugh!"
"Odd," remarked Jack.
"Are you sure of your man?" inquired Fritz.
"But you say his name is Bill, whilst he declares his name is Bob."
"Aye, he has evidently been up to some mischief, and changed his ticket."
"Then what conclusion do you draw from the affair."
"I am completely bewildered, and scarcely know what to think; perhaps the crew has mutinied, and turned Captain Littlestone adrift on a desert island. That is sometimes done. Perhaps—"
"It is no use perhapsing those sort of melancholy things," said Fritz; "we may as well suppose, for the present, that Captain Littlestone is safe, and that your friend has been put on shore for some misdemeanour."
"May be, may be, Master Fritz; and I hope and trust it is so. But to have an old comrade amongst us, who could give us all the information we want, and yet not to be able to get a single thing out of him—"
"Except a punch in the ribs," suggested Jack.
"Exactly; and a punch that will not let me forget the lubber in a hurry," added Willis, clenching his fist; "but I intend, in the meantime, to keep my weather eye open."
A few weeks after this episode the Hoboken was slowly wending her way along the bights of the Bahamas. Fritz, Jack, and Willis were walking and chatting on the quarter-deck. The sky was of a deep azure. The sea was covered with herbs and flowers as far as the eye could reach—sometimes in compact masses of several miles in extent, and at other times in long straight ribbons, as regular as if they had been spread by some West Indian Le Notre. The ship seemed merely displaying her graces in the sunshine, so gentle was she moving in the water. The air was laden with perfumes, and a soft dreamy languor stole over the friends, which they were trying in vain to shake off. In one direction rose the misty heights of St. Domingo, and in another the cloud-capped summits of Cuba. Sometimes the highest peaks of the latter pierced the veil that enveloped them, and seemed like islands floating in the sky, or heads of a race of giants.
"The air here is almost as balmy and fragrant as that of New Switzerland," remarked Fritz.
"Aye, aye," said the Pilot; "but it is not all gold that glitters: in these sweet smells a nasty fever is concealed, with which I have no wish to renew my acquaintance."
"By the way, talking about acquaintances, Willis, have you obtained any further intelligence from your friend Bill, alias Bob?" inquired Jack.
"No, not a syllable; the viper is as cunning as a fox, and keeps his mouth as close as a mouse-trap."
"He seems as obstinate as a mule, and as obdurate as a Chinaman into the bargain."
"All that, and more than that; but," added Willis, "I have found out from the mate that he was pressed on board this ship at New Orleans."
"Pressed on board?" said Fritz, inquiringly.
"Yes; that is a mode of recruiting for the navy peculiar to England and the United States. Would you like to hear something about how the system is carried out?"
"Yes, Willis, very much."
"The transactions, however, that I shall have to relate are in no way creditable, either to myself or anybody else connected with them; and I am afraid, when you hear the particulars, you will be ready to turn round and say, your friend the Pilot is no good after all."
"Have you, then, been desperately wicked, Willis?"
"Well, that depends entirely upon the view you take of what I am to tell you. Listen."
[H] Sometimes called the Ladrones or Archipelago of Saint Lazarus.
IN WHICH WILLIS SHOWS, THAT THE TERM PRESS-GANG MEANS SOMETHING ELSE BESIDES THE GENTLEMEN OF THE PRESS.
"When I was a youngster, about a year or two older than you are now, Master Fritz, I slipped on board the brig Norfolk as boatswain's mate. The ship at the time was short of hands, so there was no immediate probability of her weighing anchor; but on the same day I scratched my name on the books a despatch arrived, in consequence of which we left the harbor, and proceeded out to sea under sealed orders. One day, when off the Irish coast, I was called aft by the first lieutenant.
"'You know something of Cork, my man, I believe?' said he.
"'Yes, your honor, I have been ashore there once or twice,' said I.
"'Very good,' said he; 'get ready to go ashore there again as quick as you like.'
"Leave to go on shore is always agreeable to a sailor. He prefers the sea, but likes to stretch himself on land now and then, just to enjoy a change of air, and look about him a bit; so it was with all possible expedition that I made the requisite preparations.
"When I reappeared, I found a party of twenty men mustered on deck in pipe-clay order. A full ration of small arms was served out to them, and, under the command of the lieutenant, we embarked in the long-boat and rowed ashore. We landed at a point of the coast some miles distant from Cork, and it was dark before we reached the military barracks of that town, which, for the present, appeared to be our destination.
"I had not the slightest idea of what we were to do on shore. From our being so heavily armed, I knew it was no mere escort or parade duty that was in question, and began to think there was work of some kind on hand. This gave me no kind of uneasiness. I only wondered whatever it could be, for there was clearly a mystery of some kind or other. Were we going to besiege Paddy, in his own peaceable city of Cork? Had some of the peep-o'-day boys been burning down farmer Magrath's ricks again? or was there a private still to be routed out and demolished? I could not tell.
"Half an hour after our arrival, I was called into a private room by the lieutenant, who was seated at a table with a package of clothes beside him. The first lieutenant of the Norfolk, I must remark, was a bit of an original. He had won his way up to the rank he then held from before the mast. His build was rather squat, and his face was garnished with a pair of fiery red whiskers, so he was no beauty, added to which he was reckoned one of the most rigid martinets in the service; yet, for all that, his crew liked him, for they knew his heart was in the right place.
"'See, my man,' said he, 'take this package, and rig yourself out in the toggery it contains.'
"I obeyed this order, and soon after stood before him, in a pair of jack-boots, with a slouching sort of tarpauling hat on my head, so that I might either have passed for a manner out of luck or a dustman.
"'Well,' said the lieutenant, laughing, 'now you have quite the air of the hulks about you.'
"This remark not being very complimentary, I did not feel called upon to make any reply.
"'You know,' he continued, 'that the brig is short about a dozen hands, and I want you to pick up a few likely lads here. I understand there are a number of able-bodied seamen skulking about the public-houses, where they will likely remain as long as their money lasts. I should like to secure as many of them as possible, and then capture a few stout landsmen to make up the number; but, in the first place, I want you to go and find out the best place to make a razzia.'
"I stared when I found myself all at once promoted to the post of pioneer for a party of kidnappers, and muttered something or other about honor.
"'Honor, sir!' roared the lieutenant, 'what has honor to do with it, sir? It is duty, sir. It is the laws of the service, sir, and you must obey them, sir.'
"'But it is hard, your honor,' said I, 'that the laws of the service should force men to do what they think is wrong.'
"'And what right, sir, have you to think it is wrong, or to judge the acts of your superiors? If the laws of the service order you fifty lashes at the yard-arm to-morrow, you will find that you will get them. Do you want to be handed over to the drummer, and to cultivate an acquaintance with the cat?'
"'No, your honor,' said I, laughing.
"The lieutenant's face by this time was as red as his whiskers, and, though he was in a towering rage, he quickly calmed down again, like boiling milk when it is taken off the fire.
"'Then,' said he, quietly, 'am I to understand you refuse?'
"'No, your honor,' said I. 'If it is my duty, I must obey; but you will pardon the liberty, when I say that it is hard to be forced to drag away a lot of poor fellows against their wills.'
"'Look ye,' replied the lieutenant, 'I tolerate your freedom of speech for two reasons—the first, because we are here alone, and no harm is done; the second, because I entertain the same opinion myself; but, mind you, we are both bound by the regulations of the service, and it is mutiny for either of us to disobey.'
"According to the moral law, the mission with which I was charged could scarcely be considered honorable; but, according to the laws of the land, or rather of the sea, it was perfectly unexceptionable. Amongst the seamen, a foray amongst the landlubbers was regarded more in the light of a spree than anything else. If, indeed, it were possible to pick up the lazy and idle amongst the population, this mode of enlistment might be useful; but often the industrious head of a family was seized, whilst the idle escaped. It was rare, however, that a ship's crew were employed in this sort of duty; men were more usually obtained through the crimps on shore, who often fearfully abused the authority with which they were invested for the purpose. As for myself, the lieutenant's arguments removed all my scruples, if I ever had any.
"I then suggested a plan of operations, which was approved. The men were to be kept ready for action, and the lieutenant himself was to await my report at the 'Green Dragon,' one of the hotels in the town.
"At that time there was in the outskirts of Cork a sort of tavern and lodging-house, called the 'Molly Bawn.' This establishment was frequented by the lowest class of seamen and 'tramps.' Thither I wended my way. It was late when I arrived in front of the place; and whilst hesitating whether I should venture into such a precious menagerie, I happened to look round, and, by the light of a dim lamp that burned at the corner of the street, I caught a glimpse of the lieutenant leaning against the wall, quietly smoking an Irish dudeen."
"Like Rono the Great in the island of Hawai," suggested Jack.
"Something. This, however, cut short my deliberations. I walked in. There was a crowd of men and women drinking and smoking about the bar. These, however, were not the people I sought. The regular tenants of the house were not amongst that lot, and it was essential for me to find out in what part of the premises they were stowed. I commenced proceedings by ordering a noggin of whisky, and making love to the damsel that brought it in. After having formally made her an offer of marriage, I asked after the landlord. She told me he was engaged with some customers, but offered to take a message to him.
"'Then,' said I, 'just tell him that a friend of One-eyed Dick's would like to have a parley with him.'"
"And who was One-eyed Dick?" inquired Fritz.
"One of the crew of a piratical craft captured by one of our cruisers a few months before, and who at that time was safely lodged in Portsmouth jail.
"The girl soon returned. She told me to walk with her, and led me through some narrow passages into what appeared to be another house. She knocked at a door that was strongly barred and fastened inside. A slight glance at these precautions made me aware that there was no chance of making a capture here without creating a great disturbance. So, after reflecting an instant, I decided upon adopting some other course.
"When the door was opened I could see nothing distinctly; there was a turf-fire throwing a red glare out of the chimney, a dim oil-lamp hung from the roof, but everything was hidden in a dense cloud of tobacco smoke, through which the light was not sufficiently powerful to penetrate."
"The atmosphere must have been stifling," observed Fritz.
"Yes, it puts me in mind of your remark about the air, which, you said, consists of—let me see—"
"Oxygen and hydrogen."
"Just so; but the air a sailor breathes when he is at home consists almost entirely of tobacco smoke. At last, I could make out twenty or thirty rough-looking fellows seated on each side of a long deal table covered with bottles, glasses, and pipes. Dan Hooligan, the landlord, sat at the top—a fit president for such an assembly. He was partly a smuggler, partly a publican, and wholly a sinner. I should say that the liquor consumed at that table did not much good to the revenue. How Dan contrived to escape the laws, was a mystery perhaps best known to the police."
"So you are a pal of One-eyed Dick's, are you?' said he.
"'Rather,' said I, adopting the slang of the place.
"'Well,' said he, 'Dick has been a good customer of mine, and all his pals are welcome at the 'Molly.' I have not seen him lately, however—how goes it with him now?'
"'Right as a trivet,' said I, 'and making lots of rhino.'
"'Glad to hear it; and what latitude does he hail in now?'
"'That,' said I, 'is private and confidential.'
"'Oh,' said he, 'there are no outsiders here, we are all sworn friends of Dick's, every mother's son of us.'
"'Then,' said I, 'Dick is off the Cove in the schooner Nancy, of Brest,'"
"Holloa, Willis," cried Jack, "there was a fib!"
"Well, I told you to look out for something of that sort when I began."
"'What!' cried the landlord, 'Dick in a schooner off the Irish coast?'
"'Yes,' said I; 'and aboard that schooner there is as tight a cargo of brandy and tobacco as ever you set eyes upon.'
"Here the landlord pricked up his ears, and the rest of the company began to listen attentively. The fellow that sat next me coolly told me that both he and Dick had been lagged for horse-stealing, and had subsequently broken out of prison and escaped. He further told me that most of the gentlemen present had been all, one way or another, mixed up with Dick's doings; from which I concluded they were a rare parcel of scamps, and resolved, within myself, to try and bag the whole squad. They were all stout fellows enough, most of them seamen. I thought they might be able to 'do the State some service,' and determined to convert them into honest men, if I could.'
"'Dick cannot come ashore,' said I; 'some one of his old pals here has peached, and there is a warrant out against him.'
"This information threw the assembly into a state of violent commotion. They rose up, and swore terrible vengeance against the head of the unfortunate culprit when they caught him. The oaths rather alarmed me at first, for they were of a most ferocious stamp.
"'Yes,' continued I, 'Dick is aboard the schooner, but, as there are two or three warrants out against him, he does not care about coming ashore; so said he to me, 'We want a lugger and a few hands to run the cargo ashore; and if you look in at the 'Molly,' and see my old pal, Dan, perhaps you will find some lads there willing to give us a turn. The captain said, if the thing was done clean off, he would stand something handsome."
"'Just the thing for us!' shouted half a dozen voices.
"'But the lugger?' said I.
"'Oh, Phil Doolan, at the Cove, has a craft that has landed as many cargoes as there are planks in her hull. Besides, he has stowage for a fleet of East Indiamen.'
"'Well, gentlemen," said I, 'the chaplain, One-eyed Dick, and myself, will be at Phil Doolan's to-morrow at midnight; do you agree to meet us there?'
"This question was answered by a universal 'Yes;' and by way of clenching the affair, I ordered a couple of gallons of the stiffest potheen in the house. This was received with three cheers, and before I left the 'Molly' every man-jack of them had disappeared under the table. Dan himself, however, kept tolerably sober, and promised, on account of his friendship for One-eyed Dick, to have the whole kit safe at Phil Doolan's by twelve o'clock next night, and with this assurance I made my exit from the premises, and steered for the 'George and Dragon.'
"The lieutenant agreed with me in thinking that it would cause too much uproar to attack the 'Molly Bawn.' He congratulated me on my success in laying a trap for the people, and promising to meet me at the Cove, he ordered a car, and drove off in the direction of the Norfolk's boat. Early next morning I started to reconnoitre the ground and organize my plan of operations. I found Phil Doolan's mansion to be a mud-built tenement, larger, and standing apart from, the houses that then constituted the village. It was ostensibly a sailor's lodging-house and tavern for wayfarers, but, like the 'Molly Bawn,' was in reality a rendezvous of smugglers, occasionally patronized by fugitive poachers and patriots. It was known to its familiars as 'The Crib,' but was registered by the authorities as the 'Father Mahony,' who was represented on the sign-post by a full-length portrait of James the Second. What gave me most satisfaction was to observe that the building was conveniently situated for a sack.
"When night set in I marched the Norfolk's men in close order, and as secretly as possible, to the Cove. Approaching Phil Doolan's in one direction, I could just catch a glimpse of the red coats of a file of marines advancing in another, with the lieutenant at their head, and, exactly as twelve o'clock struck on the parish clock, the 'Father Mahony' was surrounded on all sides by armed men. Two or three lanterns were now lit, and dispositions made to close up every avenue of escape."
"'There he is!' cried Willis, interrupting himself, and staring into the air.
"Who?" inquired Jack—"Phil Doolan?"
"No—Bill Stubbs, late of the Nelson."
"That squat, broad-shouldered man there, bracing the maintops."
"Yes, now that you point him out, I think I have seen him before," said Fritz.
"Holloa, Bill," cried Jack.
"You see," said Willis, "he turned his head."
"How d'ye do, Bill?" added Jack.
"Are you speak'ng to me, sir?" inquired the sailor.
"Then was your honor present when I was christened? I appear to have forgotten my name for the last six-and thirty years."
"No use, you see," said Willis; "he is too old a bird to be caught by any of these dodges. But I have lost the thread of my discourse."
"You had surrounded the cabin, and were lighting lamps."
"Half a dozen men were stationed at the door, pistol in hand, ready to rush in as soon as it opened. The lieutenant and I went forward and knocked, but no one answered. We knocked again, louder than before, but still no answer.
"'Open the door, in the King's name!' thundered the lieutenant. Silence, as before.
"Calling to the marines, he ordered them to root up Phil Doolan's sign-post, and use it as a battering ram against the door. The first blow of this machine nearly brought the house down, and a cracked voice was heard calling on the saints inside.
"'Blessed St. Patrick!' croaked the voice, 'whativer are ye kicking up such a shindy out there for? Whativer d'ye want wid an old woman, and niver a livin' sowl in the house 'cept meself and Kathleen in her coffin?'
"'Kathleen is dead, then?' said the lieutenant with a grin.
"'Save yer honor's presence, she's off to glory, an' as dead as a herrin,' replied the voice.
"'Really!' said the lieutenant, 'and where is Phil Doolan?'
"'Och, yer honor? he's gone to get some potheen for the wake.'
"'Well,' said the lieutenant, 'I should like to take a share in waking the defunct—what's her name?'
"'Kathleen, yer honor.'
"'Well, just let us in to take a last look at the worthy creature.'
"The door then creaked on its rusty hinges, and we entered. Not a soul, however, was to be seen anywhere, save and except the old woman herself. The coffin containing the remains of Kathleen, resting on two stools, stood in the middle of the floor, with a plate of salt as usual on the lid. I fairly thought I had been done, and looked upon myself as the laughing stock of the entire fleet."
"So far," remarked Jack, "your story has been all right, but the last episode was rather negligently handled."
"How?" inquired Willis.
"Why, you did not make enough of the coffin scene; your description is too meagre. You should have said, that the wind blew without in fierce gusts, the weathercocks screeched on the roofs, and caused you to dread that the ghost of the defunct was coming down the chimney; large flakes of snow were rushing through the half-open door; a solitary rushlight dimly lit up the chamber, and cast frightful shadows upon the wall."
"Well; but the night was fine, and there was not a breath of wind."
"What about that? A little wind, more or less, a weathercock or so, some drops of rain, or a few flakes of snow, do not materially detract from the truth, whilst they heighten the color of the picture."
"And if some lightning tearing through the clouds were added?"
"Yes, that would most undoubtedly increase the effect; but go on with your story."
"I knew Phil to be an artful dodger, and was determined not to be foiled by a mere trick, so I laid hold of a lantern and closely examined the walls and flooring. My investigation was successful, for just under the coffin I detected traces of a trap-door."
"'Well, my good woman, what have you got down there?" inquired the lieutenant.
"'Is it underground, ye mane, yer honor? divil a hail's there, if it isn't the rats.'
"'Well, just remove the coffin a little aside; we shall see if we cannot pepper some of the rats for you.'
"Here the old woman appealed to a vast number of saints, and protested against Kathleen's remains being disturbed. The lieutenant, however, grew tired of this farce, and ordered the coffin to be shifted. A sailor accordingly laid hold of each end.
"'Blazes!' said one, 'here is a body that weighs.'
"'Perhaps,' said the other, 'the coffin is lined with lead.'
"The trap-door was drawn up, and the lieutenant, pistol in hand, descended alone.
"'Now, my lads,' said he, addressing some invisible personages, 'we know you are here, and I call upon you to yield in the King's name—resistance is useless, the house is surrounded, and we are in force, so you had better give in without more ado.'
"No answer was returned to this exordium; but we heard the murmuring of muffled voices, as if the rapscallions were deliberating. I now descended with my lamp, followed by some of the seamen, and beheld my friends of the night before either stretched on the ground or propped up against the walls, like a lot of mummies in an Egyptian tomb.
"They were handcuffed one by one, pushed or hauled up the stairs, and then tied to one another in a line. When we had secured the whole lot of them in this way—
"'Lieutenant,' said I, winking, 'will you permit me to send a ball into that coffin?'
"'Please yourself about that, young man,' said he.
"Here the old woman recommenced howling again and called upon all the saints in the calendar to punish us for my sacrilegious design.
"'Shoot a dead body,' said I, 'where's the harm?' Besides, what is that salt there for?'
"'To keep away evil spirits,' was the reply.
"'Very well,' said I, 'my pistol will scare them away as well.' Then, cocking it with a loud clink, I presented it slowly at the coffin."
"The lid all at once flew off—the salt-was thrown on the ground with a crash—the defunct suddenly returned from the other world in perfect health, and sat half upright in his bier. I did not recognize the individual at first, but, on closer inspection, found him to be my communicative companion of the preceding night—the horse-stealer of the 'Molly Bawn;' and, being a stout young fellow, he was harnessed to the others, and we commenced our march to the boats."
"You do not appear to have had much trouble in effecting the capture," remarked Fritz.
"No; the men were unarmed, and were nearly all intoxicated. You never saw such a troop; scarcely one of them could walk straight; they assumed all sorts of figures; the file of prisoners was just like a bar of music, it was a string of quavers, crotchets, and zig-zags. Luckily, it was late at night, else we might have had the village about our ears, and, instead of flakes of snow and screeching weathercocks, we might have had a shower of dead cats and rotten eggs. Probably a rescue might have been attempted; at all events, we might have calculated on a volley of brickbats on our way to the boats. There would have been no end of commotion, uproar, confusion, and hubbub, possibly smashed noses, blackened eyes, broken beads—"
"You said just now that a little colouring was necessary."
"Certainly; but the privilege ought not to be abused. Besides, broken heads and smashed faces are the realities, and not the accessories of the picture."
"Oh, I see. If it is night, the moon should be introduced; and if it is day, the sun—and so on?"
"Of course; and, if the circumstances are of a pleasing nature, you must leave horrors and terrors on your pallette; change gusts into zephyrs, snow into roses and violets, and the weathercocks into golden vanes glittering in the sunshine."
"You want to color a popular outbreak, do you not?"
"Then you should introduce a tempest howling, the waves roaring, the lightning flashing, and discord raging in the air as well as on the earth."
"Well, to continue my story. Although it was midnight, the disturbance began to wake up the villagers, and a crowd was collecting, so we hurried off our prisoners to the boats as speedily as we could. Some five and twenty able bodied men were thus added to his Majesty's fleet. The object of our visit to the Irish coast was accomplished, and the Norfolk continued her voyage to the West Indies. Now you know what is meant by the word pressed, and likewise the nautical signification of the word press-gang."
"And you say that Bill Stubbs has been trapped on board this ship by such means?"
"Yes, at New Orleans."
"According to your story, then, that does not say very much in his favor?"
"No, not a great deal; still, that proves nothing—the fact of his calling himself Bob is a worse feature. A man does not generally change his name without having good, or rather bad, reasons for it."
"What appears to me," remarked Fritz, "as the most singular feature of your press-gang adventure is, that you are alive to tell it."
"Because I think it ought to end thus: 'The victims of the press-gang strangled Willis a few days after,'"
"Aye, aye, but you do not know what a sailor is; our recruits had not been a fortnight at sea before they entirely forgot the trick I had played them."
Just as Willis concluded his narrative, the man at the mast-head called out, "Sail ho!"
"Where away?" bawled the captain.
"Right a-head," replied the voice.
The Hoboken had hitherto pursued her voyage uninterruptedly, and the Yankee captain now prepared to signalize himself by a capture.
A SEA FIGHT—ANOTHER IDEA OF THE PILOT'S—THE BOUDEUSE.
The captain of the Hoboken was rather pleased than otherwise when the look-out reported the strange sail to show English colors. He looked rather glum, however, half an hour afterwards, when the same voice bawled that she was a bull-dog looking craft, schooner-rigged, and pierced for sixteen guns. The Yankee had hoped to fall in with a fat West Indiaman, instead of which he had now to deal with a man-of-war, carrying, perhaps, a larger weight of metal than himself.
The heads of the two ships were standing in towards each other, there was no wind to speak of, but every hour lessened the distance that separated the antagonists.
"Pilot," said the captain, addressing Willis, "be kind enough to let me know what you think of that craft."
"I think," said Willis, taking the telescope, "I have had my eyes on her before. Aye, aye, just as I thought. An old tub of a Spaniard converted into an English cruiser, and commanded by Commodore Truncheon, I shouldn't wonder. She has caught a Tartar this time, however. Nothing of a sailer. If a breeze springs up, you may easily give her the slip, if you like, captain."
"Give her the slip! No, not if I can help it. My cruise hitherto has not been very successful, and I must send her into New York as a prize. Mr. Brill," added he, addressing the officer next in command, "prepare for action."
In an instant all was commotion and bustle on deck. Half an hour after, the captain, now in full uniform, took a hasty glance at the position of his crew. A portion of the men were stationed at the guns, with lighted matches. Others were engaged in heating shot, and preparing other instruments of destruction. Jack and Fritz, armed with muskets, were ready to act as sharp-shooters as soon as the enemy came within range, and Willis was standing beside them, with his hands in his pockets, quietly smoking his pipe.
"What, Pilot!" exclaimed the captain in passing, "don't you intend to take part in the skirmish?"
"I am much your debtor, captain, but I cannot do that."
"And these young men?"
"They are not Englishmen, and your kindness to them entitles you to claim their assistance. I am sorry that honor and duty prevent me giving you mine."
"No matter, captain," said Fritz, "my brother and myself will do duty for three."
"Then, Pilot, you had better go below."
"With your permission, captain, I would rather stay and look on."
"But what is the use of exposing yourself here?"
"It is an idea of mine, captain. But I shall remain perfectly neutral during the engagement."
"As you like then, Pilot, as you like," said the captain, as he resumed his place on the quarter-deck.
At this moment a cannon ball whistled through the air.
"Good," said Willis; "the commodore gives the signal."
"That shot," observed Jack, "passed at no great distance from your head, Willis. You had better take a musket in self-defence. Besides, that ship is English, and you are a Scotchman."
"The ship is a Spaniard by birth," replied Willis, "and it is pretty well time it was converted into firewood, for the matter of that. But it is the flag, my boy—that is neither Spanish nor English."
"What is it, then?" inquired Fritz.
"It is the union-jack, Master Fritz. It is the ensign of Scotland, England, and Ireland united under one bonnet; and as such, it is as sacred in my eyes as if it bore the cross of St. Andrew."
Musket balls were now rattling pretty freely amongst the shrouds. The young men levelled their muskets and fired.
Soon after, the two ships were abreast of each other, and almost at the same instant both discharged a deadly broadside. The conflict became general. The crashing of the woodwork and the roaring of the guns was deafening. A thick smoke enveloped the two vessels, so that nothing could be seen of the one from the other; still the firing and crashing went on. The sails were torn to shreds, the deck was encumbered with fragments of timber; men were now and then falling, either killed or wounded, and a fatigue party was constantly engaged in removing the bodies. There are people who consider such a spectacle magnificent; but that is only because they have never witnessed its horrors.
Already many immortal souls had returned to their Maker; many sons had become orphans, and many wives had been deprived of their husbands; but as yet there was nothing to indicate on which side victory was to be declared. Soon, however, a cry of fire was raised, which caused great confusion; and another cry, announcing that the captain had fallen, increased the disorder.
A ball crashed through the taffrail, near where Jack and Fritz were standing; it passed between them, but they were both severely wounded by the splinters, and were conveyed by Willis to the cockpit. The doctor, seeing his old friend Jack handed down the ladder, hastened towards him and tore out a piece of wood from the fleshy part of his arm. He next turned to Fritz, who had received a severe flesh-wound on the shoulder. When both wounds were bandaged, he left the care of the young men to Willis, who had escaped with a few scratches, which, however, were bleeding pretty freely—to these he did not pay the slightest attention.
"How stands the contest?" inquired Fritz in a weak voice.
"The Hoboken is done for," replied Willis; "the commodore was preparing to board when we left the deck; but it does not make much difference; we shall go to England instead of America, that is all."
"God's will be done," said Fritz.
Just then Bill Stubbs was swung down in a hammock; both his legs had been shot off by a cannon ball. The surgeon could only now attend to a tithe of his patients, so numerous had the wounded become. A glance at the new comer satisfied him that he was beyond all human skill, and he directed his attention to the cases that promised some hopes of recovery. Willis, seeing that his old comrade was abandoned to die almost uncared for, staunched his wounds as well as he could, fetched him a panniken of water, and performed a number of other little acts of kindness and good will. This he did, less with a view of obtaining an explanation from him at a moment when no man lies, than to mitigate the pangs of his last convulsions. For an instant the old mariner's body appeared re-animated with life. His eyes were fixed upon Willis with an ineffable expression of recognition and regret. He convulsively grasped the Pilot's hand and pressed it to his breast, and his lips parted as if to speak. Willis bent his ear to the mouth of the dying man, but all that followed was an expiring sigh. His earthly career was ended.
The hardy sailor who is supposed never to shed a tear, then wiped the corner of his eyes. Next he turned to the children of his adoption, whose pale faces indicated the amount of blood they had shed, and whose wounds, if he could have transferred them to himself, would have less pained his powerful muscles than they now grieved his excellent heart.
A party of boarders from the enemy had taken possession of the ship. Willis reported himself to the officer in command, and at his request, Fritz and Jack, together with the cargo of the pinnace, were conveyed on board the victorious schooner. Shortly after the Hoboken was despatched to Bermuda as a prize, with the prisoners, the wounded, and the dying.
The old tub that had gained this victory was named the Arzobispo, having, as Willis supposed, been captured in the Spanish Main. It was under the command of Commodore Truncheon, better known in the fleet by the soubriquet of Old Flyblow.
The Arzobispo, though old and clumsy, was a stout-built craft; and so thick was its hide, that the broadsides of the Yankee had done the hull no damage to speak of. The superstructure, however, was completely shattered; the masts and rigging hung like sweeps over the sides; and, to the unpractised eye, the ship was a complete wreck. A few days, however, sufficed to put everything to rights again so far as regards external appearance; but how this impromptu carpentry would stand a storm was another question.
The commodore was on his way to Europe when he fell in with the Yankee, and, notwithstanding the disabled condition of the ship, he resolved to continue his voyage. Some of the officers expostulated with him on the hazard of crossing the Atlantic in so shaky a trim. He only got red in the face, and said that he had crossed the herring-pond hundreds of times in crafts not half so seaworthy. He was like the
Froggy who would a wooing go, Whether his mother would let him or no.
The consequences of this defiance of advice were fatal to Old Flyblow; for, a week or two after his victory, he was pounced upon by the French corvette, Boudeuse, which was fresh, heavily armed, and well manned. The commodore's jury masts were knocked to pieces by the first broadside, his flag went by the board, and he was completely at the enemy's mercy. Willis lent a hand this time with a good will; but it was of no use, the wreck would not obey the helm, and the corvette hovered about, firing broadsides, and sending in discharges of musketry, when and where she liked. It was only when the commodore saw clearly that there was neither mast nor sail enough to yaw the ship, that he waved his cocked hat in token of surrender.
Fritz and Jack were still confined below with their wounds, when Willis brought them word that they would have to shift themselves and their cargo once more. The captain received them on board the Boudeuse with marked courtesy, and informed them that he was bound direct for Havre de Grace.
"It seems, then," said the Pilot, "that neither America nor England is to be our destination after all. But never mind, there are no lack of surgeons amongst the mounseers."
"If we go on this way much longer," said Jack, sighing, "we shall be carried round the world without arriving anywhere. Alas, my poor mother!"
DELHI—WILLIAM OF NORMANDY AND KING JOHN—ISABELLA OF BAVARIA AND JOAN OF ARC—POITIERS AND BOVINES—HISTORY OF A GHOST, A GRIDIRON, AND A CHEST OF GUINEAS.
At first the three adventurers were regarded as prisoners of war; when, however, their entire history came to be known, and their extraordinary migrations from ship to ship authenticated, they were looked upon as guests, and treated as friends.
"I thought I had only obtained possession of an English cruiser," said the captain; "but I find I have also acquired the right of being useful to you."
The commander of the Boudeuse was a very different sort of a person from Commodore Truncheon; the former treated his men as if every one of them had a title and great influence at the Admiralty, whilst the latter swore at his crew as if the word of command could not be understood without a supplementary oath. The English commodore might be the better sailor of the two, but certainly the French captain carried off the palm as regards politeness, urbanity, and gentlemanly bearing.
The wounds of Fritz and Jack were healing rapidly under the skilful treatment of the French surgeon, and, with a lift from Willis, they were able to walk a portion of the day on deck. With reviving health, their cheerful hopes of the future returned, their dormant spirits were re-awakened, and their minds regained their wonted animation.
"The corvette spins along admirably," said the Pilot, "and is steering straight for the Bay of Biscay."
"Ah!" said Jack sighing, "it is very easy to steer for a place, but it is not quite so easy to get there. I am sick of your friend the sea, Willis; and would give my largest pearl for a glimpse of a town, a village, or even a street."
"If you want to see a street in all its glory, Master Jack, you must try and get the captain to alter his course for Delhi."
"But I should think, Willis, that there is nothing in the street-scenery of Delhi to compare with the Boulevards of Paris, Regent-street in London, or the Broadway of New York."
"Beg your pardon there, Master Jack; I know every shop window in Regent-street; I have often been nearly run over in the Broadway, and can easily imagine the turn out on the Boulevards; but they are solitudes in comparison with an Indian street."
"How so, Willis?"
"Well, it is not that there are more inhabitants, nor on account of the traffic, for no streets in the world will beat those of London in that respect—it is because the people live, move, and have their being in the streets; they eat, drink, and sleep in the streets; they sing, dance, and pray in the streets; conventions, treaties, and alliances are concluded in the streets; in short, the street is the Indians' home, his club, and his temple. In Europe, transactions are negotiated quietly; in India, nothing can be done without roaring, screaming, and bawling."
"There must be plenty of deaf people there," observed Jack.
"Possibly; but there are no dumb people. Added to the endless vociferations of the human voice, there is an eternal barking of dogs, elephants snorting, cows lowing, and myriads of pigs grunting. Then there is the thump, thump of the tam-tam, the whistling of fifes, and the screeching of a horrible instrument resembling a fiddle, which can only be compared with the Belzebub music of Hawai. If, amongst these discordant sounds, you throw in a cloud of mosquitoes and a hurricane of dust, you will have a tolerable idea of an Indian street."
"There may be animation and life enough, Willis, but I should prefer the monotony of Regent-street for all that. Would you like to air yourself in Paris a bit?"
"Yes, but not just now; the less my countrymen see of France, under present circumstances, the better."
"What is England and France always fighting about, Willis?"
"Well, I believe the cause this time to be a shindy the mounseers got up amongst themselves in 1788. They first cut off the head of their king, and then commenced to cut one another's throats, and England interfered."
"That," observed Fritz, "may be the immediate origin of the present war . But for the cause of the animosity existing between the two nations, you must, I suspect, go back as far as the eleventh century, to the time of William, Duke of Normandy."
"What had he to do with it?"
"A great deal. He claimed a right, real or pretended, to the English throne. He crossed the Channel, and, in 1066, defeated Harold, King of England, at the battle of Hastings."
"Both William and Harold were originally Danes, were they not?" inquired Jack.
"Yes; I think Rollo, William's grandfather, was a Norman adventurer, or sea-king, as these marauders were sometimes called. William, after the victory of Hastings, proclaimed himself King of England and Duke of Normandy, and assumed the designation of William the Conqueror."
"Then how did France get mixed up in the affair?" inquired Willis.
"William's grandfather, when he seized the dukedom cf Normandy, became virtually a vassal of the King of France, though it is doubtful whether he ever took the trouble to recognize the suzerainty of the throne. As sovereign, however, the King of France claimed the right of homage, which consisted, according to feudal usage, in the vassal advancing, bare-headed, without sword or spurs, and kneeling at the foot of the throne."
"Was this right ever enforced?"
"Yes, in one case at least. John Lackland—or, as the French called him, John Sans Terre—having assassinated his nephew Arthur, Duke of Brittany, in order to obtain possession of his lands, was summoned by Philip Augustus, King of France, to justify his crime. John did not obey the summons, was declared guilty of felony, and Philip took possession of Normandy. Thus the first step to hostilities was laid down."
"The English having lost Normandy, the vassalage ceased."
"Yes, so far as regards Normandy; but, in the meantime, Louis le Jeune, King of France, unfortunately divorced his wife, Elenor of Aquitaine, who afterwards married an English prince, and added Guienne, another French dukedom to the English crown."
"So another vassalage sprung up."
"Exactly. All the French King insisted upon was the homage; but Edward III. of England, instead of bending his knee to Philip of Valois, argued with himself in this way: 'If I were King of England and France as well, the claim of homage for the dukedom of Guienne would be extinguished.'"
"Rather cool that," said Jack, laughing.
"'We shall then,' Edward said to himself, 'be our own sovereign, and do homage to ourself, which would save a deal of bother.'"
"Well, he was right there, at least," remarked the Pilot.
"The King of France, however, entertained a different view of the subject. Hence arose an endless succession of sieges, battles, conquests, defeats, exterminations, and hatreds, which, no doubt, gave rise to the ill-feeling that exists at present between England and France. It is curious, at the same time, to observe what mischief individual acts may occasion. If William of Normandy had remained contented with his dukedom, and Louis le Jeune had not divorced his wife, France would not have lost the disastrous battles of Agincourt and Poitiers."
"Nor gained the brilliant victory of Bovines," suggested Jack.
"Certainly not; but she would have been spared the indignity of having one of her kings marched through the streets of London as a prisoner."
"True; but, on the other hand, the captured monarch would not have had an opportunity of illustrating the laws of honor in his own person. He returned loyally to England and resumed his chains, when he found that the enormous sum demanded by England for his ransom would impoverish his people: otherwise he could not have given birth to the maxim, 'That though good faith be banished from all the world beside, it ought still to be found in the hearts of kings.'"