Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman
by W. H. G. Kingston
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"Why, as I have not a notion where we are, we had better wait till daylight, or we shall run a great chance of going over the cliffs in reality," said he. "The sun will rise in little more than an hour hence, I hope, and then we shall be able to ascertain whereabouts we are."

In accordance with his advice, I sat myself down by his side, and remained silent for some time, while I watched the stars glittering overhead. At length I remarked, "It is very odd, uncle, that Myers did not murder us, as he did the poor wretch we found under the cliff."

"I fully expected he would; but, after all, there are several reasons against such an act," he answered.

"He put the spy to death, both for the sake of vengeance and that he might not betray any more of his secrets, or show us the smugglers' hides. Myers, however, knew that if he murdered a king's officer, the Government authorities would not rest till they had brought him to punishment. There is also a wild notion of justice among these outlaws; and as they know we are but doing our duty in pursuing them, they have not the same bitter feeling towards us as they have towards any of their companions who turn traitors. Myers, perhaps, might have wished to secure a friend, in case of need. The fellows who had charge of us, however, could not resist the temptation of playing us a trick, and trying to frighten us out of our wits. Some years ago, also, Myers was in my custody, and I treated him, as I should any fellow-creature, with some kindness and consideration. I spoke to him seriously, and endeavoured to win him from his evil courses. I did not consider myself either as his judge or executioner. Perhaps, therefore, gratitude may have induced him to spare our lives."

"I have no doubt of it," said I. "I have to thank you, therefore, uncle, for my life."

"I don't suppose they would have hurt you, Neil, had you been alone," he observed, laughing.

"Do you think that we shall be able to discover the cavern?" I asked.

"I fear not," he replied. "Even if we did, it would be emptied of its contents. Depend on it, the smugglers were prepared to carry off everything into the interior, and all the valuable goods are by this time a long way on their road to London. At all events, whatever were the motives of the smugglers, let us offer our thanks to God for the preservation of our lives, for they have been in great peril."

We knelt and prayed. I hope I did so sincerely. What other remarks he made I do not remember, for I soon after this felt very drowsy, and quickly fell asleep. I dreamed all the time that I was tumbling head over heels down precipices, but never reached the ground. So I shall end this chapter at the bottom of a chalk-pit.



I was awoke by my uncle, and looking up, I saw that the stars had grown dim, and that the rosy dawn was rapidly spreading over the sky. When there was sufficient light to enable us to see distinctly, we discovered that we were in an unusually large and deep chalk-pit. We had, however, but little difficulty in climbing out of it, and in reaching the top of the down in which it was situated. What was our surprise, on looking seaward, to discover the cutter riding at anchor below us, and the boats just going off to her! We therefore went to the most conspicuous height, and waved our caps and handkerchiefs, in the hopes that some one might by chance be on the look-out with a telescope, and perceive us. We waited for some time, and were just giving up the case in despair, when one of the boats put off from the cutter, and pulled directly for the beach, above which we were standing; so we hurried down by a rough zigzag path cut in the cliff, and were ready on the shore to receive her when she pulled in. Who should we see in the boat but Stretcher, whom we fancied all the time held in durance vile by the smugglers. The honest fellow's satisfaction at seeing us was even greater than our surprise; for he had fully believed that we had been murdered, and had reported our death on board. The boat's crew gave three cheers as they ran up on the beach; and in their delight they almost lifted my uncle and me into the boat. We were not long in getting on board again, when the cheers were repeated by all hands; and I must do honest old Hanks the justice to say, that, though he had doubtless begun to indulge in dreams of getting his promotion and the death vacancy, his pleasure was as genuine as that of the rest. He had, we found, been already arranging a plan to search for us, and to discover and capture the smugglers. The latter part of it, our Commander determined forthwith to execute. Before we went to breakfast, Stretcher was sent for to make his report—a proceeding of which I did not approve, for I was very sharp-set; but midshipmen's appetites are seldom much thought of on such occasions. Jack soon made his appearance, with his hat in one hand, while he smoothed down his hair most pertinaciously with the other.

"Well, Stretcher, my man; I wish to know how you managed to escape so well out of the fangs of those rascals," said my uncle.

"Why, your honour," he answered, "I scarcely know how it all happened myself, for after the blackguards dragged off you and Mr D'Arcy, I was in such a taking, thinking that they were going to heave you over the cliff, that I didn't seem to know where I was or what I was doing. At last they made the handkerchief fast round my eyes again, so that I couldn't see a wink; and they began to haul me along, till I found that I was out of the cave and in the open air. On I went, up and down hill, some way inland, it seemed; and then back again through a chine down to the seashore. After a bit they led me up hill, and making me sit down on a rock, they told me that if I stirred an inch before daylight, I should meet with the same fate my master had done.

"'How am I to tell when daylight comes, you lubbers, if you leave me with my eyes blinded,' said I.

"No one answered, but I fancied I heard some one laugh close to me. They then lashed my arms behind me, so that I could not cast off the bandage from my eyes.

"'So you are not going to carry me to foreign parts,' said I, for I thought, as they didn't mind killing my officer, they would think nothing of sending me over the cliffs also.

"'We've changed our minds,' said they, 'and can't be troubled with you; so ask no questions.'

"I didn't like the answer at all, for I made sure they was going to do away with me somehow; but, as I couldn't help myself, I was not going to show them what a funk I was in; so I pretended to whistle, quite happy like. I had been whistling away some time, when I thought I heard their footsteps moving off; and so it proved; for when I next sung out to them, no one answered. I called them all manner of names, and blackguarded them like fun; but it didn't make them angry, because, you see, there was no one there to hear me. At last, when I'd grown hoarse with hallooing after them, I thought I might as well go to sleep a bit, seeing as how I couldn't manage to move, or to cast off the lashings round my arms. How long I slept I don't know; but I was woke up by hearing some one hail me, and I soon knew that they were some of the cutter's people. When they got up to me, and cast off the handkerchief from my eyes, then I found I had been sitting not ten feet above the beach, and directly opposite where the cutter is brought up. That, your honour, is all I know about it; but who the people are who played us the trick, or whereabouts the cave is, is more than I can say."

"Do not you think that we might manage to discover the cave, though?" asked the Commander.

"No, sir, certainly not," answered Stretcher, positively. "It may be close to us, or it may be five miles off. To my mind, it's some very clever hide; and those who took us there knew very well we should never find it again."

"We must see about that," observed my uncle. "By-the-bye, Stretcher, I gave you some things to take charge of; where are they?"

"Here, sir; they never overhauled my pockets, which shows that they have some manners, at all events," said Jack, producing a pistol, a handkerchief, and a card. My uncle took the card, and on it were written the words, "This is the way we punish informers and traitors."

"Perhaps, sir, you don't know who the man was who took the lead of the rest in the cave," said Stretcher.

"Who was he?" asked the Commander.

"No other than Bill Myers himself," answered Jack. I knew him directly, and several of those with him; but I thought it better to keep a silent tongue in my head, so they didn't suspect me. To my mind, Myers murdered the man as a warning to others not to attempt to play a like trick upon him. From what I happened to hear, I suspect the lugger has run her cargo, and is by this time off again; for I am certain some of the people we saw belonged to her, and they wouldn't be likely to stay in this place after the work which has been done.

Nothing more of importance being elicited from Jack, he was dismissed; and my uncle arranged with Hanks that all the boats should visit the shore, and that a strict search should be made to discover the cave; while we should communicate with the authorities, and state what had occurred. The mist of the morning having cleared off, a look-out was kept at the masthead for the lugger, should she be in sight, but not a sign of her appeared; and as soon as breakfast was over, a large party of officers and seamen went on shore to hunt for the cave. My uncle, Stretcher, and I, meantime, went off to the nearest magistrate, to make our depositions. Mr Gibson, the magistrate, received us very politely, and expressed his anxiety to sift the affair to the bottom, and to bring the offenders to justice. He took charge of the things we had found; and while he entertained us at luncheon, he sent about to make inquiries on the subject. The man, whose corpse we believed we had seen, was found to be missing, and we learned that he was well-known to be connected with the smugglers; but of the cave, and the cargo which we suspected to have been run, no one could, or rather would, afford any information. When, however, it was known that murder had been committed, several persons, who had no objection to assist in simple smuggling, but had a prejudice against murdering people, came voluntarily forward to state all they knew and suspected about the matter. By several, Myers had been seen on shore during the previous day; and, what is extraordinary, one of the witnesses, an alehouse-keeper, swore that he had seen him use the very handkerchief we had found to sweep the crumbs off a table at which he had been eating bread and cheese, in order to have it clean for writing. He had also given him a letter to post, which he had forgotten to do. The handwriting was exactly like that on the card. Another witness said that he knew Myers by sight perfectly; that later in the day, as he was taking a cut across some fields near the cliffs, he had seen him seated under a tree, and that he was either loading or cleaning a pistol of the size and shape of the one now produced. Indeed there was ample circumstantial evidence to enable Mr Gibson to issue a warrant for the apprehension of Myers on a charge of murder, whenever and wherever he could be found. A reward was afterwards offered to whoever should capture him. It is very extraordinary that the cave could not be discovered, nor could we gain any information about the goods which had been seen. Of Myers himself no tidings could be obtained. There was no doubt that he had committed the murder, and he must have been aware that many of his old friends might be tempted by the prospect of the reward to deliver him up, should he venture again among them. The general opinion was, therefore, that we should hear nothing more of him. We, however, continued cruising in search of his lugger; but, though we chased at different times several craft which we thought might be his, we never got them within range of our guns. We, however, captured several other smuggling vessels, and made prize of a considerable number of tubs. The latter we picked up, either floating out at sea, or we got them by groping after they had been sunk. Smuggling vessels carry a considerable portion of their cargo lashed along outside, just above the water. When hard pressed these are cut away, and the rest are thrown overboard, so that when overhauled, nothing contraband may be found on board. When within a short distance of land, so that marks on the shore can be seen, weights are attached to the tubs, which are all fastened together; and the marks being observed, so that the spot should be known again, they are sunk. Sometimes we saw them being hove overboard and sunk; and then, of course, we did our best to get them again. We at length took a longer cruise than usual, and were for some time knocking about in the longitude of Plymouth, and that turbulent portion of the aqueous world—the Chops of the Channel. There was a light wind and a smooth sea, and we were dodging along under easy sail, being in no hurry to get anywhere. I was walking the deck with Hanks, talking on matters doubtless very erudite and abstruse; but I now forget what they were. Scriven was casting up his accounts—literally, not metaphorically, be it understood; Growl was endeavouring to forget his cares, with eyes fast closed, on two chairs in the gun-room; and our Commander was below, reading.

"D'Arcy, I have taken a fancy to you, and I want to give you some good advice," remarked my companion, after some time. "Just remember what I say, and it will be useful to you in elbowing your way, as you must, through this crowded world. First, then, keep that potato-trap of yours shut, except when you want to catch potatoes in it; and your eyes and ears open on all occasions. There is little harm in knowing a thing, but there is a very great deal in repeating it; and much harm often in letting others be aware that you do know it. Then, my boy, always remember to look before you leap, and not to let go one rope before you have a firm gripe of another. You pretty boys from green Erin's Isle are too apt to do things in a hurry—to knock a fellow down, and then to ask his pardon, on finding that he wasn't the man you intended to floor; like the Irish soldier officer who declared that anchovies grew on the walls of Gibraltar, and when he had shot his friend for doubting his statement, recollected that it was capers he meant."

I laughed at Hanks' old story, though it was a hit against my countrymen; for I have always found it far better to laugh off anything said against one's self, than to put on the dignities and to look grand. Laughter and good humour are like polished shields, which make the shafts of satire glance off on either side; but sulkiness and dignity are sure to bring them thick around them.

Our conversation was interrupted by the cry of "A sail on the weather bow!" The wind was about south-east, and the cutter's head was up Channel. I went to report her to the Commander, who immediately came on deck, and, looking at her attentively through his glass, ordered a boat to be lowered. He then returned below, and brought up a package.

"Mr D'Arcy," said he—and I felt very grand to be so called,—"take this parcel on board yonder ship. I think I know her. If she is bound to —-, leave it with the master, to be delivered immediately on his arrival; if not, bring it back." I forget now the name of the place he mentioned.

"Ay, ay, sir," I answered; and jumping into the boat, shoved off. Jack Stretcher, who, in consequence of his behaviour with the smugglers, had gained the estimation of all on board, was with me in the boat. Away we pulled towards the ship with rapid strokes, for we knew that the faster we pulled the less distance we should have to go. We were about half-way between the cutter and the ship, when a bank of mist came rolling slowly along from the southern horizon, the opposite extremities seeming to close in, till a circle was formed around us, still, however, having the cutter and the ship within its confines. On we rowed, the circle growing smaller and smaller, till, by the time we reached the ship, our own vessel was completely shrouded from view. As I knew exactly where she was, that did not trouble me. The ship proved to be the one I was sent to board—the Ajax, I think, was her name.

I delivered my despatches. The master asked me down into the cabin to take a glass of wine, which it would have been against the principles of a midshipman to refuse. I took two or three, and ate some cold chicken and ham into the bargain. There were, I remember, a number of passengers, who were very civil, and some gave me letters to take on shore; indeed it is just possible that one of the reasons why I was so hospitably entertained was that time might be obtained to finish and close the said letters. At last the package of farewells, last words, and before-forgotten directions, being ready, I tumbled with it into the boat, and shoved off to return to the cutter.

I calculated that she bore about north-north-west from the ship; and not having a compass, the last thing I did was to take a careful glance at the one on board. I then pulled away, thinking that I should not lose sight of the merchantman before we got hold of our own craft. In about ten minutes I found that I was not a little mistaken. I had told Stretcher, who was pulling stroke-oar, to keep his eye on the ship, while I, meantime, was looking out for the cutter. Every moment I expected to see her; but, as we advanced, the fog appeared to rise up with redoubled thickness around us; and my difficulty was still further increased when Jack Stretcher exclaimed—

"I can't see the ship nowhere, sir! She was there not a moment ago, and just as I passed my hand over my brow, she was gone."

"Well, we must pull on," I exclaimed. "If we keep the breeze on the starboard quarter, we cannot be far wrong."

However, not many minutes afterwards, the wind, true to its proverbial character of fickleness, died away, and we were left without any guide by which to steer our course across the trackless deep. Still we pulled on, I fancied, in the direction of the coast. We should have been wise had we laid on our oars, and gone to sleep. As I could not see ahead, I steered by the wake astern, and was under the impression that I was keeping a wonderfully straight line. How long we had gone on I can scarcely tell, when we heard the sound of a gun booming along the water; but, instead of coming from the direction in which we were steering, it seemed to be astern of us. Still we thought it must be the cutter firing. The men even declared that they knew the sound of the gun. The probability was, certainly, that it was her gun, as she would be sure to fire to show her whereabouts to us; and it was not likely that any other vessel near us would be firing for a similar purpose. Although I was very confident, from the straight wake I fancied I had kept, that Jack was mistaken, and that the sound of the gun had come from some other vessel, yet I yielded to his opinion, and pulled in the direction whence we thought it proceeded. We had not made good a quarter of a mile when we again heard the sound; but still, to our surprise and vexation, it was indubitably right astern.

"That gun's from the cutter, sir," said Jack; "but I can't make it out how it comes from away there."

No more could I; but determined this time, at all events, not to miss our vessel, we pulled away directly towards the spot whence we were certain the sound proceeded.

"Give way, my lads, we shall soon be up with her," I shouted; and the crew sent the boat flying through the smooth water. I kept looking out on either bow for the cutter, expecting every instant to see her looming through the fog; when, for the third time, a gun was heard, but in spite of all our hopes and expectations, and almost against our belief, it also sounded right astern, and further away than any of the others. I was ready to cry with vexation. It seemed like the work of magic, and as if a set of mischievous imps or spirits, like those on Prospero's island, were employed in trying our tempers and patience. There seemed no use in going on thus, to be constantly baulked; so I ordered the men to lay on their oars, resolved to wait either till the mist cleared off, or till we could devise some better means of finding our way to the shore than we now possessed. Thus for an hour or more we floated listlessly on the water.



"Hillo! where does that come from?" I exclaimed, as the low deep boom of a gun came rolling over the calm water.

Another and another report followed, and then, as if affected by the concussion, the mist on a sudden lifted a few feet from the surface, and revealed, about three miles off, the hull of a large ship on which the rays of the now setting sun glittered brightly for an instant, ere she sank beneath the wave. It was sufficient to show us our position, and we might easily have found our way towards the shore; but, as I was about putting the boat's head in that direction, Jack observed—

"There's something wrong with that ship yonder, sir, or she wouldn't be firing in the way she does."

I listened attentively. There could be no doubt—those were minute-guns, the well-known signal of distress at sea. We could do but little good, probably; but what good we could do I determined to attempt. My men needed no encouragement. The fact that fellow-creatures wanted help was sufficient to nerve their arms. Had an enemy been in sight, and had there been heads to be cracked, it would have been much the same. Round spun the boat, and away they pulled as hard as they could lay their backs to the oars. The breeze which had cleared off the mist, had likewise got up the sea a little, and the spray flew over our bows as we dashed through the dancing waves. Away we went; the big sea-serpent could not have beaten us. Every minute the low, dull sound of the gun reached our ears, growing louder and louder as we drew nearer the ship. Her distress was evidently great. From the somewhat irregular way the gun was fired, and from its tone, Jack pronounced the ship to be a merchantman, as he remarked that minute-guns from a man-of-war would have been far louder and more regular. The mist, fortunately, did not again settle down thickly over the ship, so that, although twilight was coming on, we could still distinguish her whereabouts. As we drew near, we saw that she was of considerable size, and that all her masts had gone by the board. We were evidently not perceived, even though we had got close up to her, for she continued firing as before.

"Now, my lads, we'll let the poor fellows know that we are at hand to help them," I exclaimed; and on this my men joined me in raising a right hearty cheer, which must have given the people on board no unpleasing notice of our approach. There was a pause, as if they were recovering from their surprise; and then it was answered by a shout so feeble, that it sounded more like the sighing of the wind among the crumbling walls of some old building, than a cheer of welcome. It was now too dark to distinguish any one, but I fancied that I saw the heads of several people over the taffrail, as if eagerly watching us. We were soon alongside, when some one attempted to heave us a rope, but it fell short of the boat. We, however, hooked on to the main-chains, and, followed by Jack, I was not long in scrambling on board. A seaman stood there, holding a ship's lantern, which shed a feeble light around, where all was wreck and confusion; and it besides exhibited more strongly his own countenance, which looked haggard and emaciated in the extreme. The greater part of the bulwarks, the spare spars, the caboose, and the boats had been carried away,—indeed, the sea must have made a clean sweep over her; and it seemed not a little surprising, from the appearance of the deck, that any human beings should have remained, and that the ship herself should have escaped foundering. Besides the man who held the lantern, three equally wretched-looking beings came to meet us. I observed that some others were lying on the deck, round one of the chain-pumps, as if they had sunk down with fatigue; while two more were stretched out alongside the only remaining gun, the report of which we had heard. I thought to myself, Can those poor fellows be dead? but I dared not ask the question.

"You seem in a bad plight," I observed, as I looked round.

"Bad enough," answered one of the seaman; "and if you don't bear a hand, we shall have the ship sinking under us."

"We'll do our best for you; but how can our boat carry all your ship's company?" I asked, for I thought I saw other people moving aft, and fancied that some must be below.

"Oh, she'll carry all of us that's alive," returned the same rough-spoken seaman. "But, sir," he continued, "we have two aboard here whom we must get out of harm's way before we look after ourselves."

"Where are they?" I asked.

"Right aft, sir," he answered, leading the way along the deck.

As I followed him, I passed two bodies stretched out at full length.

"They'll never break biscuit again," observed one of the men. "We were near thirty souls in all, and this night there only remain six of us alive."

There was no time just then to ask questions. The companion-hatch had not been washed away, and as the seaman held up the lantern, its light fell on the figure of a man kneeling on the deck, bending over the fair face of a young girl, who reclined on a seat by the side of it.

"Rouse up a bit, sir; there's help come when we didn't expect it," said the seaman.

The gentleman, for such I saw that he was, had not his voice proved it, rose from his knees. "Heaven be praised, my child may yet be saved!" he exclaimed, clasping his daughter in his arms, and scarcely appearing to notice my presence. "Alice, dearest, bear up but a little longer; we may once more hope to reach the shore."

The young girl endeavoured, to raise herself, and feebly returned his embrace.

Then turning to me, he said, "You have arrived most opportunely. We had well nigh abandoned all hope of escaping death. What do you propose we should do?"

"As the people on board seem to say that the ship may go down any moment with slight warning," I replied, "I think, sir, the sooner you and the young lady get into the boat, the better. We will follow you when it becomes absolutely necessary. Meantime we must see what can be done on board."

I then told him that I belonged to a cutter, which could not be far off, and that I hoped by daylight we should see her, and that she would come to our assistance.

The gentleman, on this, took his daughter in his arms and carried her to the gangway.

"How are the poor men who were so ill?" I heard her ask.

"They are free from all pain," was the evasive answer; but it seemed to satisfy her.

We soon got them safely placed in the boat, in which I left two boat-keepers, with orders to be ready to shove off at a moment's notice. The rest of the boat's crew came on board to lend a hand to what might be required.

I then set to work to see what was best to be done. There was no time to ask questions as to how the ship had got into her present condition. My first care was to attend to the wants of the sick. The seaman who had received us and my own people went round with me. Unhappily, we found that most of the other poor fellows were beyond human aid. Three only were still alive, verging on the portals of death. We fortunately had a flask of spirits, a keg of water, and some biscuits in the boat; of these I served out sparingly among the crew. The food had the effect of speedily reviving them. I next took a lantern, and, accompanied by Jack, went below to discover, if I could, how much water the ship had in her. I was not quite comfortable during the time, for I thought she might take it into her head to go down before we could regain the deck. The water we found was over the cabin floors; but, as far as we could judge, it was not gaining on her. Half of it might have got in while the sea broke over the ship. The contents of the cabin, bedding, and tables, and chairs, and crockery, and books, and clothing, were washing about together. Returning on deck, we went forward. The forepeak was much in the same condition.

"She'll not sink yet awhile, sir," said Jack. "Hark, now! don't you hear a bubbling sound right forward, there? Now, to my mind, if we were to get a sail thrummed and brought across her bows, we might carry her into harbour yet."

"If you think so, we'll try it, by all means," I answered, feeling no little pride at the prospect of saving the ship.

No time was to be lost in setting about the work, if it was to be done. I had only three men; and the four we found able to move about on board were still too weak to be of much use. Officers there were none. I shall have to tell a sad tale on that subject, by-and-by. We had no little difficulty in getting at the sail-room; but, after much rummaging about, we discovered a spare topsail, with which we set to work as we proposed. What with searching for the ropes and getting the sail ready, it took us an hour before it was brought under the ship's bows. Meantime the water gained very slowly on us. It was nervous work, for we could not tell at what moment the last bucketful might come in which would send her to the bottom.

"That will do, sir, I think," said Jack Stretcher, who, I must own, was the prime mover. "The leak seems to suck in the sail, and we may now try to clear her of the water."

With a will we manned the chain-pumps, and after an hour's hard work it became evident that we had materially lessened its depth. In the meantime the little girl and her father, with the weakest of those we found on board, had remained in the boat.

"You may come on board again, sir; I don't think the ship is going to sink this time," I sung out, as I looked down on them.

At first the gentleman would not venture to quit the boat, for he could not believe that the ship was not on the point of sinking. After some persuasion, however, I got him and his daughter on deck, and we wrapped her up comfortably, and placed her on the seat by the companion-hatch, for the cabin was too damp for her to occupy. The sick men we placed on the poop, with a sail stretched over them, to shelter them somewhat from the night air. The dead were carried forward. We had no time, however, to spare from the pumps; but, with the aid of the fresh hands, we again set to for a spell, the gentleman helping, as far as his strength would allow him. As may be supposed, I was curious to know who he was; and while we were pumping away, I bethought me I would ask him his name.

"You may call me Marlow," he answered. "I ought to have mentioned that before."

The reply made me fancy that there was some mystery or other, and my imagination conjured up all sorts of romantic stories. "And that young lady," thought I, "is Miss Alice Marlow." "Alice Marlow—Alice Marlow; what a very pretty name," I kept repeating to myself, while my arms were aching with the exertion of pumping. Fortunately it remained very calm, or I suspect we should not have gained on the leak. Mr Marlow was anxious to get on shore for the sake of his daughter, and would willingly have abandoned the ship; but at the same time he was glad to save some valuable property he had on board. All hands worked with a will, spelling each other, till we were almost knocked up. I thought the night the longest I had ever spent. We had no time for conversation, so I was still ignorant of how the ship had been brought into her present condition. At last the cold grey light of the coming day appeared. I looked out in the hope of discovering the blue line of the land on the northern board; but the dull, leaden sea surrounded us on every side, fortunately, unruffled as a looking-glass. Neither the cutter nor any other sail was in sight. We had given our own provisions to the half-famished crew, and were becoming very sharp-set ourselves. Some nutritious food had, I found—much to the credit of those on board,—been reserved for the exclusive use of the little girl, and this had been the means of preserving her life, notwithstanding all the hardships she had undergone. Mr Marlow, overcome with fatigue, had wrapped himself in a cloak, and lay asleep at his daughter's feet. Two of the ship's crew had fairly given in, and dropped off also; but my own fellows, urged on by Jack, worked away like Trojans at the pump.

"Do ye see, lads, if we get this here craft into harbour, we shall make a better job of it than of any prize we are ever likely to pick up in the whole course of our lives; but if she sinks, why, do ye see, we shall get nothing," he remarked, whenever he saw them inclined to flag in their exertions; and each time he spoke, the water always seemed to flow faster than before out of the scuppers.

Our prospect was not a very pleasant one. We had a boat certainly; but with any sea running she would scarcely carry the remnant of the crew and passengers; and while the ship floated I would on no account desert her.

The beams of the sun, as he rose out of the ocean, fell on the little girl's face. I had fancied her rather pretty at night, but I now thought her very lovely. While my arms were resting I stood watching her, when the dazzling light of the sun aroused her from her sleep, and opening a very bright pair of blue eyes, she fixed them on me with a look of extreme surprise. It may be laid down as a general rule that a midshipman, especially an Irish one, does not take a long time to fall in love, nor, it must be confessed, to fall out again—which latter, taking all things into consideration, will be considered a very fortunate circumstance. I, accordingly, instantly conceived a very ardent affection for Miss Alice Marlow, and felt ready to go right round the world, and to perform all sorts of prodigies for her sake. She looked at me, and then around her, as if trying to collect her scattered senses.

"Where are we—where are we going?" she asked, in a very sweet and musical voice.

"We are in the Chops of the Channel; and we are going nowhere at present, but we hope soon to be," I answered. "We must try to rig a sort of a jury-mast, and if we get a little breeze from the southward, we may hope to fetch Plymouth."

The idea of getting up a jury-mast had only just occurred to me.

Her voice aroused Mr Marlow. It was pleasant to see the way in which the father and daughter greeted each other. I left them together, offering up their thanks to Heaven for having preserved them to see another day, while I went forward to propound my idea to Jack. He was about to propose the same to me, the only want being the spars with which to make the mast. A few remained, certainly, on deck, but they were short and broken. On putting them, however, together, we found that we might splice them so as to form a mast and a yard of sufficient length to answer our purpose. All hands set to with a will, in the hopes that a breeze might spring up from the southward or westward, and blow us on to the English coast. The ebb, I found, had drifted us down Channel, and the flood, now again making strong, sent us the way we wished to go. As the sun also rose, and the mist which had so long hung over the sea cleared off somewhat, we at length made out the land to the northward, which we had no doubt was the coast of Cornwall.

Things now began to wear a much more cheering aspect. We had to knock off mast building, however, every now and then, to take a spell at the pumps. Mr Marlow assisted us at either work to the best of his power; and even little Miss Alice seemed very anxious to lend a hand, and, though I own she could have been but of slight use, her presence encouraged us to perseverance. It did me at all events. I have all my life felt doubly energetic in the presence of a lady, and fancy, at all events, that there is not a deed which I would not dare for the sake of winning the smile of an amiable girl.

At last we got something like a mast built, and lashed to the stump of the foremast. We stayed it up, got a yard across it, and bent a topsail to it, which we fortunately found below. This was but very little sail: but it was all we could hope to be able to set, and without a wind even that was of no use to us.

The pumps, in the meantime, kept us fully occupied; clang—clang—clang they went, till I thought I never should get the sound out of my ears. Jack every now and then turned his eye over the smooth, glassy sea to the northward, as if he observed some sign which I did not. Before long he gladdened our ears by exclaiming, "Here it comes! We'll stand by, sir, if you please, to hoist the sail." I went aft to the helm. A nice fresh, laughing breeze came rippling and curling up briskly the hitherto sullen waters. It struck us abeam on the larboard side. The sail was hoisted, the ship answered her helm, and I steered her in the direction in which I believed that Plymouth was to be found.

As the binnacle had been swept off the deck, and the only compass I could find in the cabin had been so damaged by water as to be of no use, I had only the distant blue land to steer by.

Our sail, fortunately, required but little attention, so that my whole ship's company were at liberty to work at the pumps, which was very necessary, as, whenever they relaxed in their efforts, the water again rapidly gained on us.

Miss Alice, being of no assistance to them, came and stood by me to help me to steer the ship, which, I assured her, was very kind of her.

As all danger appeared past, and the sun shone forth bright and warm, her spirits revived. Her voice was very sweet and low, and I thought that I had never heard anything more musical.

"What is your name, little officer?" she asked, putting her hands on the spokes of the wheel, and imitating my attitude as I stood on the other side of it.

"Neil D'Arcy, little lady," I answered, not quite liking the epithet she bestowed on me.

"Oh, I so much wished to know it; for papa and I are so very, very grateful to you for coming to save our lives, and we can never thank you enough," said she.

"Oh, I have done nothing at all to be thanked for; I wish that I had," I replied. "I wouldn't mind any trouble or danger to serve you; and I would go right round the world for your sake, that I would."

"It's very kind of you to say so," said Miss Alice. "And I know that I shall like you some day very much—indeed I do so now—for the service you have been to us; but tell me, Mr Neil D'Arcy, are you a captain of a ship?"

"No, I am a midshipman," I replied, modestly.

"Is a midshipman higher than a captain?" she inquired, innocently.

"Sometimes; when he's mast-headed," I answered. This seemed to satisfy her; and I, not wishing to be lowered in her estimation, was anxious to change the subject. I therefore said, "It seems very odd that though I've been on board so many hours, and seem to be so well acquainted with you, I do not know where you have come from, or how you got into this terrible plight."

"Oh, I will tell you all about it, then," she replied. "You must know that papa has been a great merchant in the Brazils, where we have lived almost since I can remember. Dear mamma died there; and if it had not been for my sake, I believe papa would have died too. You cannot tell how fond he is of me, for I have no brothers or sisters, and there was no one else in that country for him to love. At last the doctor told him he must come to England, so he took a passage in this ship, which is called the Poictiers. There were some other passengers, and I had an old black nurse to take care of me. At first we had fine weather, and things seemed to go pretty well; but, sad to say, the captain was a very tipsy man, and we, I believe, lost our way, and the wind blew against us and kept us back a long time."

"Oh, I see! the master got out of his reckoning, and met with a succession of foul winds," I remarked.

"I don't know, but I know we were very uncomfortable, and had very little to eat, and what we had was very bad," she continued. "It was very horrid, was it not? A fever also, which one of the passengers had brought from Rio, spread among the people on board. Several of the other passengers and many of the crew died of it, and among others, my poor nurse Josefa. God was very kind, and saved dear papa and me. I do not think the captain caught it; but he was always very tipsy, and now was worse than ever. One night he fell into the sea and was drowned."

"Drinking brought on delirium tremens, and in his madness he jumped overboard probably," I remarked. "No wonder his ship was in so bad a condition; but go on."

"Both the mates died, and we were left without any officers. Fortunately the crew were very steady, and behaved well; and at last the fever went away, and those who were sick recovered. The carpenter was the only person on board who had any idea how we should steer, so the rest made him act as captain."

"It was a mercy, under such circumstances, that you found your way into the Chops of the Channel."

"Where is that?" asked Miss Alice, naively.

"Where we now are," said I; and I should probably have gone on to explain the reason of the name, but that I was very anxious to hear more of her account. As far as I could make out, three very anxious weeks passed by while the ship remained in this condition, when, as they were getting near soundings, a gale sprang up and drove her furiously before it. "One evening," continued the little girl, "papa and I were in our cabins, when suddenly the ship rolled over dreadfully on her side, and— most horrible!—the water came rushing down into them. At the same time there was a frightful crash, and we heard sad shrieks and cries. Poor papa flew into my cabin, and seized me in his arms, for he thought the ship was sinking, so did I, and we wished to die together."

"The ship had broached to, and had been thrown on her beam-ends, and the masts had gone by the board," I remarked. "It was fortunate they did so, or she would have been sent to the bottom to a certainty. When the masts went the ship righted, and you saw there was a chance of escape."

"I was too frightened to think anything just then," said she. "All I know is, that papa, carrying me in his arms, found his way in the darkness to the companion-ladder, and then up on deck. When we got there, I wished that we were in our cabin again. We were in the midst of high, black, foaming waves and bright flashes of lightning; and when I looked up, there were no masts and no sails, but the deck was covered with their broken remains. It was so very dreadful, I cannot talk more about it now. I did not cry or faint, but I felt my heart beat very quick as I clung to papa, while he held tight to the companion-hatches, which, as you see, still remain firm."

"But where have you lived all the time you have been on the wreck?" I asked.

"Oh, I remained where you first found me," she answered. "At night they covered me up with cloaks and a sail, and in the daytime I was able to walk about, for the sea, fortunately, was tolerably smooth. The kind sailors also, though suffering much from hunger, I heard papa say, brought me all I required to eat, which was not much, you may suppose."

This was all about the shipwreck I heard from Miss Alice at the time. It appeared that when the masts had been carried away, the mizen-mast had hung on by some of the rigging, and by dragging astern had assisted in making the head of the ship pay off. This caused her to drive before the gale, and saved the decks from being swept by the seas, which would otherwise have cleared them of every human being. As soon as all the damage had been committed, the wind and sea began to go down, and by the morning there was only a moderate breeze. The carpenter, however, discovered that the ship had sprung a leak, and all hands were now summoned to work the pumps; but weakened by disease and famine, and overcome with fatigue, they were soon obliged to give up the almost hopeless task. Three days of horror passed away without any ship coming near them, while several of them died from sheer starvation. Fortunately, at last they discovered some gunpowder which, being in tin cases, was not spoilt, and with it they managed to fire the guns which had attracted our attention.

Miss Alice told me many more incidents, which I now forget. Our conversation was interrupted by Jack Stretcher, who came aft.

"Sir," said he, touching his hat, "I'm afraid we shall have to take to the boat, for the people are almost all knocked up; and, do all we can, the ship won't float much longer."

"I'm sorry to hear that, for I should have liked to have got her safe into harbour," I answered. "But I suppose there is no help for it."

"We'll take another spell at the pumps before we give in," he replied. "But I wanted to tell you, sir, that to my mind that poor gentleman will be killing himself if he works away as he does; and as he is of no great use to us, it would be better if he sat down and rested himself."

On hearing this, Miss Marlow darted forward to her father, and seizing him by the arm, tried to force him away from the pumps. He soon yielded to her entreaties, and almost fainting with fatigue, came and sat down aft.

"Now, my lads," cried Jack to the men, who, one after the other, had thrown themselves down on the deck, "we'll see if we can't keep the old craft afloat till we get her into harbour."

But no one responded to his summons. Just then my eye fell on the white sail of a vessel appearing above the dark horizon right ahead of us. I pointed it out to Jack.

"It's the cutter, sir, to a certainty," he exclaimed, after scrutinising it attentively. "Huzza! my lads, there's help at hand, if you will but hold out an hour longer."

The men, encouraged by his words and example, resumed their labours, and again sent the water gushing through the scuppers. It was an anxious time; for after all I felt that the sail in sight might not prove to be the cutter, or she might be crossing our course and not see us. Our last remnant of food and water had been served out, with the exception of a biscuit, which I had kept for the little girl and her father; so that all hands were very hungry as well as fatigued. I had tightened my belt round my waist to serve me for my breakfast. I watched the vessel as she rose higher and higher above the horizon; and, to my great joy, I at length saw that she was, at all events, a large cutter, beating up towards us. I called Jack to look at her again.

"She's the Serpent, and no mistake," he exclaimed. "She'll be down to us in another hour, if the wind holds. My doubt is if the ship will swim as long," he added in a whisper to me; "but we'll do our best, sir."

"Let me know in time if the water gains much on us, that we may get the young lady and the gentleman into the boat," said I.

"Ay, ay, sir," he answered, as he went forward, and with a loud cheer, resumed his labours.

The minutes dragged slowly on; for, though I had no fear for our lives, I was anxious to get fresh hands to keep the ship afloat.

"Is that little vessel yours?" asked Miss Marlow, pointing to the cutter as she approached.

"Yes," said I. "I hope before long to take you on board her."

"That will be very nice; for dear papa and I want to leave this dreadful ship. You will carry us home to Old England, will you!" she said.

"If the cutter makes us out, I hope to get you on shore this evening or to-morrow," I replied. "But I am not quite certain that she sees us."

She had just then tacked, and was apparently standing away from us. I watched her eagerly. Again she tacked, and I was certain she saw us. I steered towards her, and now, the breeze freshening, we rapidly neared each other. She stood on, and passing under our stern, kept alongside of us.

"Hillo, D'Arcy, my boy, how did you get there?" hailed my uncle, as he recognised me at the helm.

"Fell in with her, sir. Pray send some fresh hands, for we are sinking; and some prog, for we are starving," I shouted, in return.

The cutter flew by us, and hove-to a short distance ahead. A boat was lowered, and as we came up, she hooked on to our main-chains, and my uncle stepped on board. I was thus speedily shorn of the honour of command. As soon as I had introduced Mr Marlow and his daughter to him, and given him a brief account of what had occurred, he invited them on board the cutter, ordering me to take charge of them, and to send Hanks with another boat's crew to assist in working the ship. He had brought some provisions, which very soon restored my hungry people, and enabled them to pull me and my charges on board the cutter, while the fresh hands took their places at the pumps. Even when Miss Alice discovered my unexalted position, she did not seem to esteem me the less, for I had already, I rather fancy, established myself in her good graces. I did my best to make her and her father comfortable in my uncle's cabin; and Flitch, his steward, soon placed before them such a breakfast as they had not seen for many a long day, to which I, at all events, did not fail to do ample justice. The young lady appeared to think that naval officers were very hungry mortals, as she saw numberless slices of bacon and eggs disappear down my throat.

"We have no lady's maid on board to attend on you, Miss Marlow," said I, as I got up to leave the cabin; "but Flitch will put your berth to rights; and if you'll follow my advice, you'll turn in and take a good snooze, for you want it, I think."

The poor little girl was almost falling asleep at table. Mr Marlow thanked me for my good advice, which he said he and his daughter would follow.

When I went on deck I found that the cutter had taken the ship in tow, and that we were running up Channel. My uncle soon came on board, and praising me for my behaviour, said he should try and carry our prize into Portsmouth. He was in high spirits, for he expected to get a good round sum for salvage. The breeze held favourable, and in two days we were steering safely through the Needles passage.



I may as well say that my uncle got a fair round sum for the salvage of the good ship the Poictiers, and a very welcome addition to his year's pay. Our passengers went on shore at Portsmouth, and as soon as we arrived there, I thought I was to see no more of them, when, having accompanied them to the door of the George Hotel, I was about to bid them farewell.

"What! we are not going to part yet," said Mr Marlow. "Come in, young gentleman—come in."

There was the usual bustle consequent on the arrival of a party at an inn. It soon subsided. Rooms were selected, and we found ourselves seated in a parlour, which looked doubly comfortable after the deck of the dismasted ship and the small cabin of the cutter.

"You will come and dine with us to-day, Mr D'Arcy; and I must beg you to convey an invitation to your uncle," said Mr Marlow.

As midshipmen are not always their own masters, I had to explain that I would, if I could; though I did not think my uncle would refuse me leave. I was not disappointed; and at six o'clock I found myself seated at Mr Marlow's dinner-table, and opposite my Commander. I thought the little lady, Miss Alice, still looked very much fatigued.

"She is scarcely yet fit to perform the journey to London," observed her father. "Still I am anxious to be there, and must also visit Liverpool in the course of a few days."

"If you will allow her to remain with Mrs O'Flaherty, I can answer for my wife being most happy to receive her," said my uncle.

To my great joy, though I was afraid of showing if, Mr Marlow at once acceded to the proposal.

"I will, then, bring Mrs O'Flaherty over to fetch her," added my uncle. "You will, I suspect, agree very well, Miss Alice."

"Indeed, my dear sir, you are laying me under a tenfold obligation," said Mr Marlow. "All our connections are, I believe, in the North, and in dreary London there is no one with whom I could leave the dear child."

I don't remember the rest of our conversation. I know that I discussed a very good dinner; and that same evening we got under weigh and ran over to Ryde, and my uncle went up to Daisy Cottage. The next morning my aunt accompanied him on board, and we returned to Portsmouth. She received little Alice, as I knew she would, most kindly, and before many hours had passed they became great friends; and, to make a long story short, Miss Marlow became an inmate for several weeks of Daisy Cottage.

We were lying one day soon after this in Portsmouth Harbour, off Haslar Creek, ready to start for the westward. It was Sunday. My uncle had gone over to Ryde, and I was in hopes of getting across in the afternoon to visit my aunt and her guest. I had turned out in full fig; and while all the people were below dressing for muster, I walked the deck as officer of the watch, with my spy-glass under my arm, looking out for the signal from the flag-ship to make it eight-bells. I felt very important, but I have reasons to doubt whether I looked proportionably consequential. All the ships in the harbour and at Spithead ran up their bunting at the same moment; and I had just belayed our signal halliards when I saw a boat, crowded with seamen and marines, putting off from a frigate lying right ahead of us. The tide was running strong out of the harbour. A young midshipman was at the helm, and he did not seem to have made due allowance for the strength of the current. The consequence was that the boat drifted down some way below the intended place of landing, and while he was putting her head up the harbour to regain his lost ground, her keel struck the mast of a barge which had sunk the day before, and which scarcely showed above the water. In an instant over she went, and the people in her were spilt out into the eddying, rushing tide-way. Some struck out for the shore, a few clung on the boat, and others came drifting down helplessly with the current.

So suddenly had the accident occurred, that I had not a moment to consider what was best to be done, nor to call any one from below. Fortunately we had a punt alongside. Casting off the painter, I jumped into her, and shoved off to where three men were struggling, close ahead of the cutter. I caught hold of one who was just sinking, and hauled him over the bows, while the other two got in without my help. I looked round to see what had become of the rest of the people. Two marines were clinging to the keel of the boat, and she was on the point of striking our stern, by which she would have been carried under our bottom, when I sculled alongside and got the two jollies on board. By the glance I had had at her just before, I observed that another person had been with them, while, as I was getting in the three first men, a cry for help had reached my ears.

"Oh! sir, there's Mr —- gone, poor fellow!" exclaimed one of the marines saved. "There he is, though!"

Directly under the water, where he pointed, I saw a head of hair or a bunch of seaweed, I could not tell which; but, on the chance of its being the former, I sculled up to it. The sun shone forth brightly, and I caught a glimpse of a human face convulsed with agony beneath the tide. Twice it eluded me; but stretching out my arm, and almost going overboard and capsizing our already over-crowded boat, I got firm hold of a person by the hair, who, I saw, had a midshipman's patch on the collar of his jacket. I had some difficulty in getting the seemingly lifeless body of my brother officer into the boat.

Seeing that there was no one else to be saved—for several boats had shoved off from the shore and vessels at anchor near at hand to pick up the rest of the people—I paddled my nearly sinking boat alongside the cutter. Hearing my hail as I jumped into the punt, the crew had rushed on deck, and were standing ready to hand on board the half-drowned midshipman and the men I had been the means of saving. The latter were none the worse for their ducking, except that their clothes were wettish.

"You'll want a clean shirt, mate," said one of our people to a Patlander from the frigate.

"Arrah! now didn't I put a dry one in my pocket this blessed morning; so it will be all handy for me," he exclaimed, diving into the recesses of his dripping peacoat.

The midshipman, who was still insensible, was, by Hanks' advice, carried down into the gun-room. We were unwilling to run the risk of the delay which must have occurred had he been conveyed on board his own ship.

"Bring a glass of hot grog; and let it be pretty stiff, steward!" said Hanks, as we were engaged in stripping our patient and putting him into my berth between the blankets.

We then set to work to rub his body with a coarse worsted sock, the first suitable thing which came to hand. Having got some of the salt water he had swallowed out of his mouth, Hanks poured a little warm grog into it instead. This, with the rubbing, had the effect of speedily restoring animation. In a few minutes he opened his eyes, and tried to sit up and look about him.

"Hillo! where am I? I say, are the poor fellows all picked up?" he asked, in a weak tone.

I liked him at once for thinking of his men.

"All right, mate," I answered; "no harm has come of the capsize, except a few wet jackets."

Just then, on looking round, I saw a man, who by his uniform I knew to be a naval surgeon, standing near me. "So I see you've saved me my work, gentlemen," he said, smiling. "You could not have acted better than you appear to have done; and, thanks to you, we shall soon have him all right again."

"Thank'ee, Doctor, I've come round pretty well already," sung out the midshipman. "But, I say, mate, I just want another glass of your stuff. It's prime physic."

The medico smelt the tumbler, which stood on the table full of grog, and then felt the youngster's pulse and looked at his tongue.

"You may take half a glass—it's quite enough for you, and then we'll have you wrapped up in blankets, and carried on board," he answered.

"Oh, thank'ee, Doctor, I'm very comfortable where I am, and my clothes ain't dried yet; so if you'll let me stay here, I think it would be the better for me," said the midshipman.

The Doctor's objections, if he had any, were soon overruled; and, telling the midshipman to return on board the frigate as soon as his clothes were dry, he quitted the cutter.

"What's your name, mate?" asked my new friend, as he was sipping his glass of grog.

I told him.

"Mine's Richard Sharpe; but I'm mostly called Dicky Sharpe," he answered. "Some of my messmates give me all sorts of names; but I don't mind them. As long as they don't cob me, it's all very well. I'm a happy fellow, and ready for all the ups and downs of life. I'm pretty well wide awake, and know my duty, so I don't often get mast-headed. If I happen to get a fall, I generally manage to pitch on my feet; and as I'm some day or other to come into a fortune, I'm not troubled about the future. If the Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty give me my promotion, it will be all very well; if not, why they'll have to dispense with my valuable services, and the country will be the loser."

I was highly edified by Master Dicky's philosophy, and I at once conceived a great regard and respect for him.

"Now, D'Arcy, my boy," he continued, in his free and easy tone, "it's stupid work lying here between the blankets; so if you'll just give me the loan of some of your toggery till mine are dry, I'll sit up at table and crack a bottle of wine with you."

I had to remind him of the early hour, and to confess that wine our mess did not possess, but that he should have some breakfast and hot tea, which would be better for him, and that he should be welcome to my clothes.

While he was seated at table, Hanks, who had gone on deck to see the medico off, returned. "Well, D'Arcy, I told him how you had saved the youngster and the other men," he said. "It will be a feather in your cap, my lad, and you deserve to wear it."

"What!" exclaimed my volatile young friend, grasping my hand, while the tears came into his eyes, "you saved me from drowning. On my word, I'm very much obliged to you. I shouldn't like to have become food for fishes just yet. I'd rather eat a few dinners off them first."

"Oh, faith, I could not have done less if you'd been only a sheep or a pig," I answered, laughing; "so you've little to thank me for."

"I suppose, though, even a sheep or a pig would have tried to show their gratitude, unless you had intended to turn them into mutton and pork directly afterwards," replied Dicky Sharpe. "So, D'Arcy, I must look upon you as my friend and preserver; and I just wish, when you can get leave, that you would come down and see my governor and mother and sisters. They won't make much of you, won't they, that's all."

I told him that I should be very glad to accept his invitation if I could; but at the time I was thinking that my aunt and Miss Alice would admire the feather Hanks said I might wear in my cap more than anybody else. I never met a merrier or more contented fellow than Dicky Sharpe. I was quite sorry to lose him when his clothes were dry and a boat came alongside to take him on board his ship, the Cynthia, What was my surprise to receive by her, at the same time, a note from the captain of the frigate, inviting me to dine with him on the following day, stating that he wished to thank me for the presence of mind I had displayed in saving the lives of one of his midshipmen and several of his people.

"I'm glad to hear it," exclaimed Hanks. "It shows your talents are not hid under a bushel; and now get away over to Ryde with that note in your pocket, and explain its meaning in the best way you can."

I jumped into a wherry just then passing, and in less than an hour landed at Ryde Pier, whence I found my way up to Daisy Cottage. My aunt was delighted to hear my story, which, I flatter myself, I told with all the innate modesty of an Irishman. Alice, I thought, blushed her approval most sweetly; and my uncle congratulated me warmly. I spent a very pleasant evening, some of the time walking with Alice on the shore, and resting under the trees, which come almost close down to the water's edge. I found that I could not dine with Captain Bruff, as we were to sail next morning for the westward; so I was obliged to be content with the empty honour of the invitation; and, I dare say, my absence did not break his heart. I was more sorry to miss seeing Dicky Sharpe again, as I should have liked to have had another palaver with him; and before our return the Cynthia would probably have sailed.



At the hour I was asked to dine with Captain Bruff we were running out at the Needles, with a fresh breeze and a thick, drizzling rain, which called pea-coats and sou'westers into requisition. We cruised about for three or four days without seeing anything suspicious; not a tub afloat, nor a craft with a smuggling look about her. At last we found something to give us employment. One evening a mist settled down over the water, which, though there was a good breeze, was perfectly calm. Although the night was in no ways dark, yet the density of the fog prevented our seeing beyond the bowsprit end, or even so far. It was just such a night as a smuggler delights in. The cutter was on her old ground, off Portland Bill. We were slipping through the water at the rate of some five or six knots an hour, when Stretcher, who was standing close to me, exclaimed, "Ah! see there, sir; there's a craft of some sort right away to leeward, trying to steal off from us." I looked, and could just distinguish the shadowy form of a sail through the mist. The Commander was called, and the cutter was instantly kept away in chase. Jack pronounced her to be a wherry; but I thought her something much larger. The wind was from the southward, and she, choosing what was probably her best point of sailing, made for the English coast. She sailed well; but we kept her in sight, for daylight had just broke, and the mist had partially cleared away. As soon as my uncle came on deck he ordered a shot to be fired wide of her, to make her heave-to. She paid no attention to it.

"Fire another, Stretcher, right into her this time, and we will make her show her quality," said he.

The mists had now cleared off sufficiently to show that she was a wherry, though rather a small one. The shot went through her foresail, but still she held on. She was heavily laden, and her crew must have seen that her chance of escape was small, if not impossible. To render this still more difficult, it was every instant growing lighter and lighter. There were numerous sharp eyes on board the cutter fixed on her, and we now perceived her crew heaving the tubs overboard as fast as they could. They fancied, probably, that we could not see them. There were no weights attached to them, so they floated; but as we had no time to stop and pick them up, we noted carefully our course as we passed them, so as to be able to find them again.

"Fire away at her, my lads, till she heaves-to," cried my uncle, seeing that she still held on.

"Surely she'll not get away from us," I remarked to Jack.

"Not so sure of that, Mr D'Arcy," he answered. "Now she's got her cargo out of her, should the wind fall on a sudden, and the fog come on thicker, she may contrive to hide herself away in it before we can get our boats out."

The fog deceived us as to her true distance from us, for after the first, none of our shot struck her, though that mattered nothing, for the breeze freshening, we were now coming up with her hand over hand.

"Lower your canvas!" shouted my uncle, as we got near.

Her people thought it wise to obey, to avoid the shot, which could not now well miss its aim. She was next ordered to pull alongside, which she immediately did; but there was not a symptom of a cask or keg of spirits in her. She had five hands in her. They were desired to come on board. One of them acknowledged himself the skipper.

"We want to know why you chased and fired at us, sir," he said, in the most innocent manner possible, addressing my uncle.

"For having contraband goods on board," he answered.

"Lord love ye, sir—we have contraband goods aboard, sir!" replied the skipper, with a feigned look of surprise. "We was just taking our pleasuring, and didn't know but what you was an enemy, or a pirate, or some chap of that sort, so we runned away, sir, do ye see."

"Very well; you'll remain on board the cutter for the present, and perhaps I may prove to the contrary," said my uncle.

The smugglers were compelled, with a very bad grace, to go below; the wherry was dropped astern, and the cutter stood back over the ground we had before crossed. Before eight-bells we had picked up fifty tubs of brandy. As plenty of our people could swear that they saw a number of tubs thrown overboard from the wherry, there was no doubt of her being condemned. When our prisoners perceived that their escape was impossible, they seemed to screw themselves up to bear their reverses like brave men. Though somewhat down in the mouth, they apparently felt no ill-will, but were obedient and respectful. Luck was against them. They had tried to smuggle, and we, as in duty bound, had stopped them. The worst they had to expect was a few months' residence in Winchester gaol. My uncle had each of them down separately in his cabin, to try and obtain any information they might be inclined to give, especially about Myers, whom he was most anxious to get hold of. From one of them he learned that a large lugger was to run across the following night but one, from Cherbourg; and he resolved to intercept her. A course was immediately shaped for that port. He had explained his plan to Hanks, who was to take the wherry with four hands and to keep a bright look-out for the lugger, and to board her if he met her, as soon as she was half-way across Channel. I obtained leave to accompany him, for though I could not be expected to do much while blows were being given and taken, I was considered a good hand at steering; and my uncle was glad to let me see as much service as possible, holding the opinion that in that way only could I become a good practical officer.

When we had got about mid Channel between Saint Catharine's and Cherbourg, the cutter was hove-to and the wherry hauled up alongside.

"Success attend you," said my uncle, as Hanks and I stepped into the wherry. "Mind, Mr Hanks, keep a sharp look-out for the lugger; but do not let anything else with a smuggling air about her escape unexamined."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Hanks, as we shored off. "I hope to get hold of the lugger, and Myers in her."

We had in the boat provisions for four or five days; cloaks, blankets, a compass, and lantern; with three muskets, and pistols and cutlasses for each person. Our directions were to cruise about for three days, should the weather remain moderate, and then to rejoin the cutter off the Needles. We started away with a light breeze and a smooth sea, and stood for a short way towards Cherbourg, while the cutter returned over part of the course she had come. The weather was very pleasant, and the sunbeams sparkled cheerily on the rippling wavelets caused by the meeting of the tide and wind, as we ran through the water at the rate of some five or six knots an hour. Hanks lighted his favourite short black pipe, such as in Ireland we should call a "dodeen." He never indulged in a cigar, except one was given him. While he leaned back, with his legs stretched along the seats, I steered. I used to think it very hard that he would never let me smoke, but I have since been much obliged to him.

"This is what I call comfort, Neil," said he. "One of the smooths of life; but it won't last, so let us enjoy it while we can. Before long we may be getting broken heads, with a gale of wind into the bargain."

So he smoked his pipe, took ever and anon a sip from the rum-bottle, sang a snatch from a song, and joked and talked away till the sun began to hasten his descent into the ocean. We were all the time keeping a look-out for any suspicious craft.

At last the sails of a lugger appeared against the evening sky as she got clear of the land. We made sure it was the vessel we were in search of, and prepared for action.

"D'Arcy, do you stay at the helm, and keep the wherry alongside, while the rest of us jump aboard," said Hanks. "Stretcher, you must knock down the fellow at the helm; I'll grapple with the skipper, if they show fight."

On came the lugger. I thought it very unlikely if Myers was on board, from his well-known character, that he would fail to show fight; indeed, it seemed much more probable that he would do his best to knock us all on the head, and heave us overboard again, should we manage to set foot on his deck. However, I said nothing, and felt just as eager for the fray as if such an idea had not crossed my mind.

Hanks had been taking a steady look at the lugger through his spy-glass. "Well!" he exclaimed, "hang me if I don't think, after all, that she's one of those French chasse marees. Our lugger hasn't yet come out."

"D'ye think, sir, that they chaps was deceiving of us?" said Jack. "They be up to all sorts of dodges."

"Oh, hang it, no; I hope not," answered Hanks, with considerable doubt, notwithstanding, in his tone. "The Commander cross-questioned them a great deal too close for them to deceive us. We shall see the right craft by-and-by."

We were soon convinced, however, that the lugger in sight was a chasse maree. She hauled her wind, and stood along shore. Had she observed us she would probably have had no little suspicion of our business out there.

After watching for the lugger to no purpose for three hours or more, the moon rose out of the dark water, and gave us a wider range of vision. Hour after hour passed away, and still she did not appear. We began at last to be afraid either that the smugglers had deceived us, or that she had slipped out and passed us unobserved. As our blockade might be somewhat long, Hanks divided the crew into watches; he taking command of one, and I of the other. When it was my turn to sleep, I rested as soundly as I usually did in my own berth, though I dreamed that I had caught sight of Myers, and that I was chasing him round and round the world with a pair of ten-league boots on my legs. How he kept ahead of me I could not tell. Hanks awoke me to take some breakfast, and then let me go to sleep again, for I was so drowsy that I could not keep my eyes open. While I was still more asleep than awake, I heard Jack's voice exclaim—

"That's her, sir, I'll take my davy."

"Yes, that's her, and no mistake, this time," added Hanks.

I was on my feet in a moment, and looking towards the French coast, I saw a lugger about two miles off, running down to us. All hands were on the alert, and every preparation was made to ensure the success of our enterprise. We hauled our wind, and steered a course so as to intercept her, without, if possible, exciting the suspicion of the smugglers till we were alongside. As the sea was perfectly smooth and the wind light, we should have no difficulty in getting on board. Hanks, Jack, and I alone showed ourselves; the rest were ordered to lie down in the bottom of the boat. The lugger, we could see, was heavily laden, and her general appearance betokened her to be French.

"Remember, my lads, we shall have to give and take some hard blows; but sharp's the word, and she'll be ours before her people know what we are after," exclaimed Hanks, in an inspiriting tone. It was an exciting moment. As we drew near, we could count some twelve men or more on her deck. We were by this time well over on the British half of the Channel.

"Keep her away a little, D'Arcy," said Hanks. The smugglers had been watching us without apparently suspecting our intentions. "Now, hard up!—ease off the mainsheet!—hook on!—follow me, my lads!"

As Hanks uttered the last words we had run alongside. The next moment he leaped over the bulwarks of the lugger on to her deck, and grappling with her captain, a Frenchman, tripped him up. Jack at the same time knocked down the man at the helm with a boat's stretcher. There was a mighty deal of jabbering and swearing in French, and some round oaths uttered in English, when, as Hanks was working his way forward, some of the crew, plucking courage, made a rush, and, seizing him, bore him overboard, fortunately on the larboard side, on the same which the wherry was: small thanks to the smugglers on that account. We were going through the water, it must be remembered, though not very quick. Hanks made a desperate attempt to clamber on board again by the lugger's forechains, but missed his aim; then, giving a glance of defiance at the rascals, he kept himself afloat while he sung out, "Hillo, D'Arcy, lend me a hand here!"

Directly I saw what had happened I seized an oar, and thrust it out towards him. He grasped it as we passed by, and quickly clambered into the wherry. The moment after, with the stretcher, which he had never let out of his grasp, he was again on the lugger's deck, belabouring both right and left those of the crew who still resisted. As none of the smugglers had seen him get out of the water, they were completely taken by surprise, and without striking another blow, sung out for quarter.

"You don't deserve it, you blackguards, for daring to resist a king's officer in the execution of his duty," cried Hanks, flourishing his stretcher. "But, forward with you, there, and don't move till I give you leave." The Frenchmen did not understand him, but the English smugglers did, and his action showed what he desired. The crew were soon penned up in the fore part of the vessel, with the exception of the captain and the man Jack had knocked down, who were sitting on deck rubbing their eyes, hardly yet recovered. Scarcely three minutes had passed since we ran alongside, and the lugger was ours. I was still in the boat, waiting for orders.

"Come on board, D'Arcy," said Hanks at length, looking over the side. "We'll lower the wherry's sails, and tow her astern."

I gladly jumped out of her when we had stowed her canvas and made fast the painter. Our prize turned out to be a valuable one, for she had not only spirits, but silk and lace on board. Her papers clearly proved also that these goods were intended to be smuggled, so I remember Hanks saying; but how that was I did not trouble myself, nor do I to this day know. The smugglers, as well as they might, were certainly sulky; and Hanks, as a gentle hint for them to behave themselves, stationed a man with a double-barrelled pistol in his hand close to them, while they stood huddled together on the little forecastle. I took the helm, while the sails were trimmed and a course shaped for the Needles. In a short time a breeze sprang up, and we spanked along at a furious rate. The French skipper had now recovered, and getting on his legs, with a polite bow, expressed a hope, in tolerable English, that we would make ourselves at home on board his vessel.

"No fear of that, monsieur," answered Hanks. "Cool, is he not, D'Arcy?"

"You no have taken dinner, sare," continued the skipper. "I will tell de cook to make dinner ready."

"Not a bad idea, monsieur," said Hanks. "Which of you chaps is cook?"

The Frenchman pointed to the fellow whose head Jack had nearly broken. He spoke a few words to him, and the man—having got up and stretched himself to ascertain, I suppose, that no bones were broken—dived below, and presently returned with a white cap and apron, and several pans and dishes, and began busying himself in the mysteries of his art. Again he dived, the fire in the forepeak burned up brightly, and savory smells began to ascend therefrom. In about an hour the skipper, with another bow, invited us into his little well-like cabin aft, where a collation, such as an epicure might envy, was placed before us. What were its component parts I did not inquire. They may have been cats and frogs, but neither Hanks nor I were in any way particular, and no dreadful surmises crossed my mind. An Englishman would have broached a keg of brandy, but our friend, Monsieur Didot, placed a bottle of fine-flavoured claret and a variety of first-rate liqueurs before us, not that either Hanks or I was well able to appreciate the former.

"Come, monsieur, hand us out a bottle of some real stuff or other; I'm not fond of your pink vinegars," exclaimed Hanks, as he tossed off a tumbler of the claret. "This isn't bad for washing the dust out of a fellow's throat on a hot day, but there's no life-blood in it."

The skipper, with a twinkle of his eyes which betokened mischief, though unfortunately Hanks did not perceive it, produced a large square bottle, thick at the top, from which he poured out a glass of first-rate Scheidam. Hanks smacked his lips as he tasted it.

"Take care, Neil, my child," said he, "you don't swallow much of that stuff; it's too good. I'll just smack at another glass, and then we'll go on deck out of the way of temptation."

The Frenchman looked mightily disappointed when he saw that Hanks was not so easily taken in as he doubtless expected he would be. I happened to look round as we left the cabin, and saw him shrugging his shoulders and making hideous grimaces, and no very complimentary gestures at us. Before this little incident I had thought him the pink of politeness. He wore love-locks and rings in his ears, and was dressed with the most accurate French nautical precision; in fact he looked thoroughly unlike an English seaman. In his manners he was a very mild man, and certainly he had nothing of the ruffian about him. I cannot say as much for his crew, some of whom were very ill-looking dogs. It would have been wiser in Hanks to have handcuffed them all, including the skipper and cook (though we should thereby have gone without a good dinner), and stationed a sentry with a loaded musket over them, with orders to shoot the first who should attempt to escape.

The French skipper, when he found that his plan to obfuscate the brains of the knowing old Hanks had totally failed, went and sat himself down forward among his people, apparently in a fit of the sulks.

Hanks, who was in high spirits at the success of our enterprise, walked the deck with me, looking out for the high land of the Isle of Wight above the Needle rocks, which we were approaching. The breeze had increased and kicked up a little sea, and we were running fast through the water.

"D'Arcy, my boy, this is a fine haul, isn't it?" exclaimed my superior, rubbing his hands. "Credit and prize-money together. Both good things. When I was a youngster I thought something about the first; but now, do you see, Mrs Hanks and I have a fancy for t'other. It keeps the pot boiling, do ye see? I should think your uncle, by this time, was much of my way of thinking, though he's a round number of years younger than I am."

"I'm not so sure of that," said I. "My uncle thinks a good deal of gaining honour, and I believe he'd rather take an enemy's frigate after a hard-fought action, than capture a Spanish galleon without a blow."

"Well, it's the proper spirit," said Hanks, with a sigh. "The revenue service don't nourish it much, though. Take my advice; get out of it as soon as you can; or," he continued with much feeling, "it will spoil you otherwise, depend on it."

We continued walking the deck for some time longer. We then sat down to rest, watching the coast, from which we were about three miles distant.

Jack was at the helm, and the rest of our people were giving a hand to the sheets, as the wind had veered a little to the westward.

The smugglers were seemingly fast asleep, with the exception of the skipper, who had lighted a cigar to console himself under his mishap.



Everything was going on as tranquilly as possible. Hanks was sweeping the horizon with his glass, looking out for the cutter, when suddenly, without the slightest warning, I saw the sentry's pistol knocked out of his fist, and he himself hove headlong into the sea. Away flew the skipper's cigar, and up he jumped as lively as a cricket, and, with two of his men, threw himself upon Hanks, who, taken unawares (his eyes engaged in his telescope), was bundled overboard. I tried to catch him by the leg, but his old blue trousers tore in my grasp, and a big Frenchman dealt me such a blow on the head that I was for an instant stunned.

When I came to my senses, I saw the wherry dropping astern, and the Frenchmen, with pump-handles and boat-hooks, striking at the poor fellows they had hove overboard, with the foul intent of drowning them. I observed that somebody was in the wherry, for her sails were being hoisted, and I was bolting aft for the purpose of jumping into the water and swimming to her, when the skipper caught me by the arm. "Stay, my little fellow," he exclaimed; "we don't want to hurt you, and don't want witnesses to this work. You must go with us."

While he was speaking, some of the smugglers had got hold of the muskets which our people had brought on board, and presenting them at the wherry, snapped the locks. Fortunately they were not loaded, or the priming had fallen out, and the villains were saved from the perpetration of further crimes.

The men in the water swam towards the wherry, and I judged from her movements that those in her were engaged in picking them up. I sang out and struggled in vain; but the Frenchman held me fast, and finally, to save himself further trouble, lifted me up by the collar and shoved me down the companion-hatch into the cabin, closing the slide over me. There was I, like a mouse caught in a trap. At first I burst into a fit of tears, more from rage and indignation at being outwitted and surprised by the Frenchman than from the prospect in store for me, which was not, however, very pleasant. I might expect to be kept a prisoner in some out-of-the-way place in France, or perhaps, to be shipped to the other side of the globe and to be unable to return home for years to come. I made ineffectual attempts to get on deck to see what had become of Hanks and our men; but as I could not move the slide, I was obliged to sit down quietly in the cabin. My melting mood was soon over. "Better now," thought I to myself. "I won't let these big blackguards of Frenchmen see me down-hearted, any how. For the honour of old Ireland and the name of D'Arcy, I'll put a bold face on the matter," and I began to sing.

There was a row on deck, and a great deal of jabbering; and the little vessel heeled over to the breeze; but I had no means of discovering what was taking place, nor where we were going.

The only light let into the vessel was through a bulls-eye in the deck, so that at first I thought I was shut up in darkness. As, however, my sight got accustomed to the glimmer, I discovered a fiddle and bow hung up against the bulkhead.

"Come," thought I, "I'll show the froggies that, though they may shut me up, they can't damp my spirits in a hurry," and seizing the instrument, I struck up an Irish jig. It was the most jolly tune I could recollect, and seldom failed to move the heels of all who heard it. I played away for some time without any notice being taken of my music; then I heard one fellow begin to shuffle away overhead, and then another, and presently it appeared as if the whole crew were toeing and heeling it in fine style. Then there were loud fits of laughter; and afterwards the slide was withdrawn and the skipper descended into the cabin.

"Vell, you are, bon garcon, one merry fellow," he said, laughing. "You make good use of my violin."

"I am fond of music, and play when I can," I answered in an indifferent tone; "but I'm tired now, and intend to go to sleep."

"Well, but I have come to take you on deck to play to my people," said he. "They are pleased with you, and it will be better for you if you do."

"What! you ask me to play for the amusement of the men who have been ill-treating my shipmates, and murdering them, for what I know to the contrary," I answered, indignantly. "No! I played for my own amusement, and do not intend to play any more."

"Your shipmates attacked us first; and besides, my little man, we have not murdered them, or done them much harm either, except depriving them of your company, and of a few muskets and pistols," he answered. "Take my advice: be as obliging as you can; they will be civil to you in return."

"Well, monsieur, I believe you are right," I replied. "If they really have not hurt my brother officer and our men, I will fiddle for them as long as they like."

Saying this, I followed him on deck, where I seated myself on the companion-hatch; and as I played away, in spite of the tumbling of the little vessel in the heavy sea running, all the Frenchmen, including Monsieur Didot, kept skipping, and jumping, and whirling about, hugging each other like bears, and shouting with glee at having saved their cargo from the clutches of the revenue people. We were standing, close-hauled, towards the French coast. I looked anxiously for the wherry, for I thought Hanks would have followed; but she was nowhere in sight. One of the Englishmen was at the helm, and the other two were forward. They were sulky brutes, and seemed much more bitter against me than were the Frenchmen. Whenever I ceased playing, the skipper gave me a hint to go on again; and there sat I, one of His Majesty's officers, scraping away on an old Cremona for the amusement of a set of smugglers and outlaws. The scene struck me as so ludicrous that I burst into a loud fit of laughter till the tears began to stream down my cheeks. I fiddled all the faster, till the delight of the Frenchmen knew no bounds; and as a proof of their regard, some of them came up and actually almost hugged the breath out of my body, calling me a brave garcon, a jolly garcon and an ornament to my country. This fun continued till we made the land, about dark. Some time afterwards, I found that we were running into a small harbour, with a pier on one side and a lighthouse on it. Its name I could not learn; but I supposed it was somewhere to the eastward of Cherbourg. I was trying to make out the look of the place, when the captain, touching me on the shoulder, said, "Go down below, my boy; when I want you I will come for you." There was that in his tone which showed me that it would be useless to dispute his orders; so I returned to the cabin. Finding a berth with some bed-clothes in it, I crept in, and coiling myself away, was soon, fast asleep. I was awoke after some time by the skipper's voice. He was holding up a lantern, and looking round, seemingly much surprised at not seeing me. He laughed as I poked my head out of my crib.

"Ah, mon petit, you make yourself at home wherever you go," he exclaimed. "But get up; you must come with me, and I will find a worthy lady who will take good care of you for some time to come."

I answered that I was very much obliged to him, but that I wanted to return home as soon as possible.

"Ah, that cannot be," said he, in a quiet tone. "I am sorry to inconvenience you; but you will allow that it is better to be kept a prisoner than to have been thrown overboard as food for the fish."

"Much obliged to you, monsieur," I replied. "I cannot dispute your reasoning; so just be good enough to tell me what you want me to do."

"To get up and come with me," said he; "and listen, my young friend,—if you attempt to run away, I will simply blow your brains out. I don't wish you any harm, as I have proved; but necessity compels me to be explicit."

I did not know whether or not he was in earnest; but as it is dangerous to trifle with a man who has the power to put so unpleasant a threat in execution, I thought it wisest to obey him. I accordingly followed him on deck, when he took my hand and led me along a plank which was thrown from the vessel to the shore. We walked through the narrow street of a village odoriferous of fish, and then out into the country, which in agreeable contrast smelt of fresh grass and flowers. Proceeding along a road which, by looking at the stars overhead, I judged ran inland, we reached a farm-house, standing a little back from the road. The smuggler knocked with his fist at the floor, but no one answered, nor was any light seen through the windows. We waited some further time without receiving any answer to our summons.

"Morbleu! I forgot the hour; they have all gone to bed. I must knock again," said he, giving several thundering blows on the door.

At length a female voice asked who was there.

"It is Captain Didot and a friend; open quick, good Madeleine," he said in French. "We are tired and hungry and sleepy, and wish to be inside instead of outside your door."

"Ah! it is you, Monsieur Didot, I know full well," answered the voice. "I will let you in."

We were, however, kept some time longer, and at last the door opened, and a young woman made her appearance, dressed in a high white cap and short petticoats, dark woollen stockings, and wooden shoes, but very neat and trim. I had never before seen a woman in so odd a rig. She smiled a welcome to my companion, and shutting the door behind us, a good deal of talking took place; but though I could manage to make out Captain Didot's French, I did not understand a word she said. We then went into a nice clean parlour, with a red-brick floor, and sat down and talked again. Suddenly, up jumped the lady in the high cap, and after an absence of ten minutes or so, returned with a tray covered with eatables and drinkables. I instinctively drew my chair to the table at the sight without waiting to be bid, whereat our hostess smiled, and observed that the pauvre enfant was hungry. Captain Didot took the hint and helped me; nor did he forget himself; and setting to work, we made a very capital supper.

"I must now be off," observed Monsieur Didot, as he came to an anchor; "but before I go, I must give you a caution, Monsieur Englishman. You are not to make your appearance outside these garden walls for the next fortnight. If you attempt to get away, ill-will come of it. Remember that madame here will take care of you, and you may have as much fruit to eat and wine to drink as you like; and now, good night, my friend. You hear, do you not?"

I did hear; but I was so very sleepy that I could not recollect enough French to answer him. While he continued talking to madame, I dropped off asleep in my chair, and for long in my dreams I heard the buzz of their voices. When I was at last awoke, by feeling a hand placed on my shoulder, the smuggling captain was gone.

"Come," said the good-natured woman; "you want rest, my boy;" and taking a candle, she led me into a neat little room with a comfortable bed in it, where I very soon forgot myself in slumber.

The next morning, when I turned out, I found that I was an occupant of a comfortable farm-house, with a garden attached, full of fruit-trees and vegetables. An old man and his wife made their appearance, and I discovered that the young woman who had received us the previous night was their daughter. While we were at breakfast, I heard the old couple complaining of Captain Didot for having brought me there. They evidently fancied that I did not understand French.

"He will be getting us into trouble with his tricks, one of these days," remarked the old lady. "Ah! Madeleine, my daughter, it would be much wiser in you to have nothing more to say to him."

Mademoiselle looked very glum, as if she did not like the counsel. I pretended to be deeply absorbed, discussing the fresh eggs and other eatables placed before me.

"Ha, ha!" thought I to myself; "I see how the wind blows. They will not dare, then, to keep me a prisoner longer than I like to stay. Well, I'm very comfortable here at present; so I will spend a day or so with the good people."

I saw that I was narrowly watched wherever I went; but I did not forget the French skipper's advice to take advantage of the fine fruit with which the garden abounded. When Madeleine saw that I was apparently contented, we became very good friends; and I must own that I spent the day not unpleasantly. I began, however, to reflect that I had no business to remain where I was if I had the power of getting away; so I turned in my mind how I could best make my escape. I guessed that to do so would not be quite so easy as at first appeared; for I had observed a labourer continually near me, and I remarked that whenever I went to a distant part of the garden his occupation invariably took him in the same direction.

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