Salt Water - The Sea Life and Adventures of Neil D'Arcy the Midshipman
by W. H. G. Kingston
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"Down, every youngster, from the rigging. Clue up—haul down—let fly of all!"

It was too late. Before the words were out of his mouth, the ship was over on her beam-ends, and lay like a log, neither sails nor rudder having longer power over her. To describe the wild horror of the scene would be almost impossible. The rent sails flashing and flapping in the gale; the ropes lashing furiously, as if in an attempt to seize some one within their deadly coils; every timber quivering and groaning; the wind roaring; and the foam in thick sheets flying over us. Though the helm, as I have said, was hard up, still she lay in the trough of the sea, without a hope of once more rising.

"Send the carpenter and his crew aft, with their axes," shouted the captain.

Chissel and his mates quickly obeyed the summons, for he had seen from the first that his services would too probably be required.

"Stand by, to cut away the masts," added Captain Poynder.

It was a melancholy alternative, but the only one to save the ship from foundering. Afterwards we must trust to our anchors; and if they failed to hold with the wind as it then was, we could not fail of being driven on the inhospitable coast of Africa. And who could tell how many might reach the shore alive!—perhaps none. The uplifted axes gleamed in the hands of Chissel and his mates, as they stood round the mizen-mast; others were sent to cut away the shrouds, and clear the wreck of the mast as it fell. Once more Captain Poynder raised his trumpet to his lips. It was to give the dire orders to cut, when, at that moment, the ship with a violent jerk righted herself, and, speedily answering to the helm, away she flew before the wind. As such a course would very quickly have brought us up, sail was taken off her; and then, merely under her spanker and fore-staysail, she was brought to the wind, for it was discovered that the bowsprit was badly sprung, and that the topsail sheets were carried away. Happily the squall, having vented its fury on our heads, quickly passed over, and we were left with much less wind than before.

"This is all that young beggar Bobby Smudge's doing, I'll warrant," I heard Ned Grummit, a topman, exclaim, as he came down from aloft. "I never knowed a chap of that sort who went for to go for to drown hisself, if he threatened to do mischief, but found means to do it. I knowed it would be so from the first, and we shall be lucky if worse doesn't come of it."

I tried to expostulate with the man, for whom I had a liking, for he was an honest fellow; but to no purpose. He still persisted in the belief that poor Bobby, who, while alive, had never done anybody harm, was destined to work us all sorts of mischief.

Everything had been made as snug as circumstances would allow. The watch below had been piped down, and had turned in; and silence reigned on board, and on the face of the ocean around us. It had been my watch on deck, and I was just about being relieved, when the silence was broken by a loud, unearthly cry; and the carpenter rushed on deck in his shirt, his hair standing on end, and his eyeballs starting from their sockets. Had not several men laid hold of him, I believe he would have thrown himself overboard. He was carried back to his cabin, and the doctor was summoned. All Chissel could say was, "Bobby Smudge! Bobby Smudge! you young villain, be off with you!" The doctor gave him some stuff or other, and the carpenter went off into a sound sleep; but a man was ordered to sit up by his side, and watch him.

"Now," thought I, "this has been one of Dicky Sharpe's tricks, and all my good advice has been thrown away." But when I looked into Dicky's hammock, he was sleeping away with such unfeigned soundness that I could scarcely fancy that he had played any trick; and the next morning he assured me, on his word of honour, that he knew nothing whatever about the matter. I had never known Dicky to tell an untruth, and I felt very sure that he would not conceal anything he had done from me; indeed, the great pleasure he had in playing any mischievous prank was, to tell me of it afterwards, if I happened not to be a partaker of it,—a very rare occurrence, by-the-bye.

"Suppose you had played your trick on old Chissel, and what he has seen was really an evil spirit, how very dreadful it would have been for you to have met the unnameable thing at his bedside!" said I.

"Oh! don't talk of such a thing," exclaimed Dicky, shuddering. "I am sure I will never again think of carrying out such a joke as I contemplated. The idea is too frightful."

I advised him not; and, after talking the subject over, and turning it in every way, we came to the conclusion that, as no one else was likely to have tried to frighten old Chissel, if he had not really seen a ghost, his terror had been the result of his own evil conscience.

"Yes, it is a dreadful thing to have a bad conscience," said Dicky, with a sigh. "Do you know, D'Arcy, I sometimes wish that I had not played so many wild pranks in my life. I know that they will some time or other bring me into trouble; and yet, when the fit seizes me, I cannot help it. I wish that you would remind me of my good resolutions when I next propose anything of the sort."

I promised that I would, but suggested that unless he had some higher motive than the fear of being brought into trouble, he would in all probability continue as great a pickle as ever, if he did not go on from bad to worse. Indeed I read my chum a very severe lecture, which he took with perfect composure, feeling at the time that he fully deserved it; though I fear that he was not in the end very much the better for my sage advice.

We were busy all day repairing damages as well as we could at sea; but it was found that they were so considerable that the captain resolved to return to Malta, instead of pursuing our course to Tunis. While the work was going forward, a man in the forechains discovered a jacket and waistcoat, which were known to have belonged to Bobby Smudge. This was considered still stronger proof that the poor lad had destroyed himself, as no doubt he had hung them there before jumping into the sea. Seamen are certainly the most superstitious beings alive, for this trifling matter made them talk the whole evening after they had knocked off work about Bobby and his ways; and scarcely one but believed that his spirit would haunt the ship as long as she remained in commission. The crippled state of the ship prevented our making much sail on her, and as we had frequently baffling winds, our voyage to Malta was considerably prolonged.

Dirty Bob, as poor Bobby Smudge was generally called, excited far more interest after his death than he had done during his lifetime, as is not unfrequently the case with much greater men. The night succeeding the squall passed off, as far as I know, quietly enough; but the next morning I saw several groups of men talking together, as if something mysterious had occurred.

"I knowed it would be so," said Ned Trunnion, as I passed by. "He was as bold a topman as ever stepped. I knowed the little chap wouldn't let us alone, after he'd given Mr Chissel a taste of his quality. No, no; depend on't he'll haunt the ship for many a long day, if he don't manage to run her ashore, or to send her to Davy Jones' locker outright."

"What's that about?" I asked, for I suspected the observation was intended for my ears.

"Why, sir," said Tom Barlow, another topman, "Dirty Bob (saving your presence) has been aboard again, a playing off his pranks, and many of us see'd him as clear as we see you."

"Nonsense, man," said I. "If you mean Bobby Smudge, he's snug enough at the bottom of the sea, fifty miles astern of us, by this time; besides, if any of you saw him, why did you not catch him?"

"It wasn't 'xactly him we saw, sir," blurted out Ned. "It was his spirit or ghost like; and a chap might just as well try to catch one of them things as to grip an eel with greased fingers."

"How do you know it was his spirit, though?" I asked; for I suspected that the men had been working on each other's imagination till all fancied they had seen what perhaps only one had dreamed of.

"Why, sir," replied Tom Barlow, with a hitch to his waistband, "we knowed it was him, because it was as like him as he could stare, only a good deal blacker and dirtier even than he was in his lifetime. It had just gone two bells in the middle watch, when three or four of us who was awake saw him as plainly as we do you, sir, now—creeping about for all the world like a serpent, in and out among the hammocks. It was more, just then, than any one of us wished to do, to speak to him; but, thinks I, there can't be any harm telling him to cut his stick, just civilly like; so I lifts up my head, and sings out, 'Be off, you dirty son of a sea cook!' But scarcely was the words out of my mouth, than he was away like a shot up the main-hatchway, and through one of the ports, or right through the bottom of the ship, for what I knowed; for I couldn't see, you may suppose. All the others who saw him said, too, there was a strong smell of sulphur, wherever he'd been, and that he vanished away in a flame of fire; but I can't 'xactly swear to that myself."

I laughed outright at the absurdity of the story, and was more convinced than ever that the men had allowed their imaginations to be worked up to a pitch which would make them believe anything.

Dicky Sharpe and I talked the matter over, and agreed not to say anything about it, as were the circumstances to get to the ears of the captain, it would certainly make him very angry.

I thought we should hear no more about the matter; but two days after this I found the people more busy than ever talking about Bobby Smudge's ghost. Numbers declared they had seen it. Some described it as having one shape, some another. Not a few gave it a tail, and horns, and fiery eyes. All described it as black; and several were ready to affirm on oath that it smelt strongly of sulphur and other horrible odours. At length many of the men showed a great unwillingness to go below, and to turn into their hammocks.

Old Chissel had become a completely altered character. His conscience told him that he was the cause of poor Bobby's death. He grew thin and pale; his voice was no longer heard in loud dispute with his brother officer, the boatswain; and even his manner was softened towards his inferiors. The men remarked the change; and all argued that the ghost had done him some good at all events, though it certainly confirmed them in their belief of its existence. Night after night, no sooner was it dark, and the watch below turned in, than Dirty Bob's ghost was sure to appear to some one or other; till at length the gun-room officers heard of the matter, and ultimately the captain himself was informed of it.

At the same time a curious circumstance occurred. Every morning one or other of the messes had to complain that their bread-bags had been rifled, and different sorts of eatables had disappeared in a most unaccountable manner. None of the men suggested for a moment that the ghost had anything to do with the matter—for what could a ghost want with biscuit, bacon, or cheese; but Captain Poynder, who at length heard of this also, had, it appeared, formed a different notion on the subject.

Two of the marines—steady old hands—who were ready to believe or disbelieve in ghosts or spirits, and to fight carnal or spiritual enemies in any shape or of any colour, as their superior officers might command them, were sent for into the cabin. What their orders were I do not know; but one of them, Jabez Cartridge, was placed that night as sentry on the lower deck.

The first watch had nearly run out, and Jabez, who had his eyes about him in every direction, had seen nothing of the ghost, when, as it had just gone seven bells, he fancied that he observed a dark object gliding about under the hammocks. He stood as upright and stiff as his own ramrod. So immovable was he, that any one might have supposed him asleep on his post; but his little black eyes were not the less vigilant. The dark object moved slowly and cautiously on till it reached the lockers, where the men's mess things were kept.

Jabez saw that it had hands, and, by the peculiar movement of those hands, he came to the conclusion that it had pockets. Still a ghost might have hands, and trousers too, for what he knew to the contrary. To convince himself, he sprang forward, and the ghost, with an unearthly shriek, took to flight; but Jabez was too quick for the phantom, and grasping him tight, he sung out, "I don't care if you be a ghost or not, but I've got you, at all events."

"Oh, let me go, let me go! and I'll lie snug and quiet till we get into harbour, and then I'll leave the ship and never come back—that I won't," answered the ghost, in piteous accents.

But Jabez was inexorable, and dragging him to the sentry's lantern, by its sickly light discovered features which belonged to no other than Bobby Smudge.

"Why, where have you been, you young scoundrel, all the time?" asked Jabez.

"In the coal-hole," blubbered out poor Bobby. "I never thought of doing harm to no one; but I can't live without eating. Oh! let me go back,— oh! do, now."

"My order is to take you to the captain," replied Jabez, unmoved; and forthwith to the captain's cabin the unhappy Smudge was led captive.

He was soon, however, sent out again under charge of the sentry, and kept in durance vile till the next morning.

After breakfast the men were called aft; and the captain appeared on the quarter-deck with Bobby, in the same garb and condition in which he had been captured. He was truly a wretched object, as he stood trembling, and blubbering, and covered with coal dust and dirt, before all the crew.

"I have called you aft, my men, to show you how foolish you have been to allow yourselves to be frightened by the equally foolish trick of this miserable lad," said Captain Poynder. "I am not angry with you; but I wish you to learn, from this event, that all the ghosts you are ever likely to see will turn out to be no more ghosts than is this poor fellow at the present moment. He confesses that to avoid punishment, and in the hopes of ultimately escaping from the ship, he devised the scheme for making it appear that he had destroyed himself. He managed, it seems, to get a lump of coal in the forechains, and after heaving it into the water, and crying out that a man was overboard, to get in at a port, and to stow himself away in the coal-hole. Trusting to the superstition and folly which the people have exhibited, he thought he might venture out at night to supply himself with food. His plan succeeded; and had the story not come to my ears, I conclude he would have kept up the farce till the ship got into port. I ask, my men, do you think it possible that God, who made this mighty universe, and governs it by just and wise laws, would allow a mischievous imp, who could do no harm while alive, to return to earth, merely for the sake of wreaking his own petty malice, or for troubling and frightening a number of grown men such as you are. To believe such a thing is both wicked and absurd, for it is mistrusting God's wisdom and providence; and I hope, when you come calmly to consider the matter over, you will think as I do. I have another word to say, both to petty-officers and men. The lad must have received much cruel treatment to make him attempt to escape from it by the expedient he followed. Remember, for the future, I will have no bullying. The discipline of the ship will be kept up far better by strict justice. Had it not been for this, I should have punished the lad severely for the prank he has played. As it is, he has pretty well suffered already. But beware. If anybody attempts to imitate his example, he will find I do not overlook the matter so easily. Now pipe down."

The captain's speech did much good in several ways. It put a stop to any outrageous bullying for some time; for the men knew perfectly well that what he threatened he would effectually carry out. It also tended to cure some of them of their superstitious belief in ghosts and goblins.

"Well, I never heard the like afore," said Tom Barlow, as he and his messmate, Ned Trunnion, were talking over the affair of the previous day. "The skipper says as how there is no such thing as ghosts; and I suppose, seeing as how he has as much larning as a parson, he knows all about it. It don't come within my category, though."

"What he says is all shipshape," replied Ned. "I never yet met the man who really did see a ghost, though I've met scores who've heard of some one who's seen them, and for that matter come to fisticuffs with them; and certain sure I never see'd one myself till that young cheese-nibble made himself into one. Then, if he hadn't been found out, I'd have staked my davy that he was one in reality."

"That is what the captain says," I remarked, as I stopped a moment. "All the ghosts which have been seen will turn out to be only shams after all."

But enough of Bobby Smudge and his ghost.



Two days after this, much shorn of the pride and beauty with which we left it, we entered Malta harbour. As may be supposed, Mr Vernon hastened to the post-office as soon as he could get on shore. I accompanied him, with a note Captain Poynder had to send to the governor. His eye brightened as it glanced at the superscription of a letter which was handed to him. He read it over eagerly.

"I hope, sir, that you have good accounts from your friends," I said.

"They have had most provoking light winds and calms; and, when this letter was written, had not made good half the distance. Heaven grant that the Ariadne may have escaped any squall such as crippled us."

"Indeed, sir, I trust so," I replied; but as he again turned to his letter, I made no further remark. I found a letter also for myself, to my no little surprise, for I thought no one would take the trouble of writing to me. I did not deserve a letter, I felt, for I had not written a line to any one since I left England. It was from my uncle. I put it in my pocket, to read at my leisure when I returned on board. It ran as follows:—

"My Dear Nephew,—As a word or two now and then from those who are deeply interested in your welfare, will but tend to keep them in your remembrance, and to cheer your spirits, should you find yourself surrounded by troubles or hardships, your aunt and I hope occasionally to send you a sheet of paper, with an account of what is going on at home; and I must beg you in return to let us know how the world speeds with you. Your aunt and cousins are well, and one day passes with them so like another, that I have little to tell of them. Terence grows apace, and seems resolved to go to sea. I will not baulk the lad of his wish when he is big enough; and I hope better times will come in the navy, both for you and him, than I have seen for some time past. I have given the cutter plenty of work, and have made several captures; but the prize I most covet, that villain Myers, has again slipped through my fingers. I must tell you all about it. It is supposed, indeed, that he has at length gone to render up his final account in another world; but even now I can scarcely believe but that he will yet turn up somewhere or another in this. I had received notice that he had been again seen in England, and that he had got command of a cutter of about sixty tons,—a very fast craft, which nothing could come up to; so, of course, I resolved to try and catch him. I soon found that he was visiting his old haunts. I conclude that he fancied no one would believe he would have the audacity to go there after all the crimes he had committed, and that therefore no one would be on the watch for him. He had succeeded in running two cargoes, and all the goods were got up to London. He had gone away for a third, and I learned that preparations were made to receive it in West Bay, not far from Beere. For two days and nights we had been cruising about, just far enough out not to be seen from the shore, in the best spot for cutting him off, when it came on to blow very hard from the north-west. It had blown long enough to kick up a heavy sea, when, just as it had gone three bells, in the middle watch, we caught sight of a cutter standing in for the shore, and going along at a tremendous rate, not the eighth of a mile to the eastward of us. We were on the larboard tack; but we were instantly about, and in chase of her. We could just make her out through the darkness; but I do not think many eyes could have seen her, but those long accustomed to such work as ours. It was some time before she perceived us; for, from the way we were standing, we were end on to her. As soon, however, as she saw us, she kept away, and off she went like a shot before the wind. We packed everything on the cutter she could carry, and rather more canvas, as you may suppose, than under ordinary circumstances I should like to set; but the stranger, at all events, seemed resolved not to be outdone; and though by this time it was blowing half a gale of wind, had not only his whole mainsail, but his square-sail and gaff-topsail all set. This circumstance made me pretty certain that Myers was on board, for he knew well that a halter would be his lot if he was caught. I think he would have done better by keeping on a wind, for before the wind her larger size gave the Serpent a decided advantage over him. After an hour's chase, if we had not overhauled him, he certainly had not increased his distance from us; and we had great hopes, should the wind increase, or the sea get up any more, that we should at last catch him. It was a trial of the strength of our sticks, and the goodness of our rigging. I had every confidence in ours; but I also knew that the smuggler would not fail to have got a tough stick for a mast, and sound rigging also. Another half-hour passed, and Hanks agreed with me that we were certainly gaining on the chase. To give us a chance of winging him, we now ran a gun forward; but with the heavy sea there was, and the way both vessels were pitching into it, there was very little probability that we should do so. We, however, fired several times; but with no effect. Only think! the fellow had the audacity to run out a couple of guns, and to return the fire. To be sure, it was his only chance of escaping; for if he could manage to knock away any of our spars, he would, he thought, show us a clean pair of heels. His practice was not a bit better than ours; indeed, it would only have been by chance that a shot could have hit its mark. However, we both of us kept blazing away at each other with hearty good-will. In the meantime the wind and sea, already high, were getting up very much. At any other time I should have hove the cutter to; but now, follow I must; and I hoped, from our greater power, we should be able to hold out the longest, and that at last the smuggler must give in. We were now nearing Portland Race, and never in my life had I observed the sea running higher on it than it now did. 'The fellows will never attempt to cross it,' observed Hanks: 'they'll be swamped if they do; and if they haul up to round it, we shall catch them to a certainty.' 'Cross it they will try, at all events,' I replied; 'they can never carry canvas on a wind, in a breeze and with a sea like this. See, they are standing into the very thickest of the breakers.' Sure enough, there was the cutter approaching the most dangerous part of the Race. The spring-tide was making down, and the wind, meeting it, threw the foaming breakers higher up than usual. Still it was possible, if everything was battened down, that the cutter might shove through them. We all held our breath. If she got through, we also must follow. We had everything secured, and were better prepared than she was. On she went—her white sails appearing against the dark sky—her whole hull enveloped in foam. For some seconds she pushed on bravely. I never took my eye off her. Suddenly the white canvas seemed to bend low down—the breakers danced on as before. I rubbed my eyes, but without avail: the sail had disappeared. There was a cry of horror on board the cutter, but no shout of triumph, though our long-sought-for foe was no more. He and everybody on board must have been swallowed up in those foaming billows. We had barely time to shorten sail and to haul off, to avoid sharing the same fate; for I scarcely think, on that day, that even we could have run through the race. Some days after this I was on shore on Portland Bill, and the lighthouse-keeper told me that he had witnessed the catastrophe. He told me, also, that several planks and spars had shortly after come on shore, and with these the body of a man. When, however, he went down to the beach to look for the body, he could nowhere find it; so he concluded that it had been swept away by the tide. Such is the fate of the smuggler Myers, and certainly no one ever deserved it more richly. I have no other events to narrate.

"I should like to give you some good advice, Neil; but I am so little accustomed to lecture others, I cannot find words to do it. I will try, however. Never forget that you were sent into this world to do your duty to Heaven and to man; not to amuse yourself, but to obey God's laws,—to prepare for another world, which will last for ever. Remember always that this world is only a place of trial—of probation. Trials of all sorts are sent on purpose to prove us. When man, through disobedience, fell, and sin entered the world, the devil was allowed to have power over him. He would have gained entire power, and man in his fallen state would have been inextricably lost for ever; but Christ in his mercy interfered, and by His obedience, His sufferings on earth,—by His death on the cross,—was accepted by God as a recompense for all sinners who believe in Him. By His resurrection, He became a mediator for us, showing us also that we too shall rise, like Him, from the dead, in the bodies in which we died. Thus a pure and just God, who cannot otherwise than hate sin, was able at the same time to show forth his justice and his mercy,—to punish those who go on in their wickedness, but to pardon those who believe in their great Mediator, and repent of their sins. I remind you of these important truths, Neil, because I know all men are too apt to forget them. Endeavour always to remember them, and I am sure that they will keep you from evil more than any other safeguards which I can offer you. I do not tell you, my boy, not to do this, or not to do that; but I remind you that Christ came down on earth, on account of the sins of mankind, to teach men His laws; that He suffered pain, toil, and disgrace, and a dreadful death; and that, in gratitude to Him, we are bound to do our utmost to obey Him. Read your Bible constantly—not now and then, but every day; learn what His will is, and do your best to follow it. Remember, also, that the devil is ever at your elbow, endeavouring to persuade you not to follow it,— telling you that sin is sweet and pleasant; that God will not be angry with you if you sin a little; that hell is far off; that God would not be so cruel as to send you there; and that it is cowardly to be afraid. Oh, my boy, let me entreat you to pray to God for grace to enable you to resist those temptations. Come they will, assuredly; and never trust in your own strength to resist them. Christ will give you strength. Fly to Him in prayer. Go to your Bible,—read that, and you will be strong to resist all temptations. Of course, never mind what your companions may say or think on the subject. I ask, are you to be biassed by the opinions of poor, weak, sinful mortals; or to obey the laws of the great all-powerful God, who made the whole universe—the innumerable globes you see in the sky—the world we inhabit, with all its wonders—man, with his proud intellect—the animals of the forest, the birds of the air, the creeping things innumerable, scarcely the nature of one of which you can comprehend,—of the merciful Saviour, who died for you, and who is eager to preserve you and all who believe on him? Still I know that, with a full consciousness of God's greatness and goodness—of Christ's mercy—man is so weak that nothing but constant prayer for grace will enable him to keep in the right way. I feel, my dear nephew, that I could not write too much on this all-important subject; but still I must conclude. Keep my letter by you, and look at it at times when you are inclined to forget its advice. Your aunt joins me in earnest prayer for your welfare.

"Your affectionate uncle,—

"Terence O'Flaherty."

I am most grateful to my kind uncle for having sent this letter to me. It had a very beneficial effect on my mind. I do not mean to say that at the time I received it I thought as seriously of its contents as I did afterwards; yet I tried somewhat to follow its advice,—not as I might have done; but I read my Bible more frequently, and prayed more earnestly than I had ever done before. I do not mean to say that I knelt down by the side of my hammock to pray, as those on shore are able to do by the side of their beds; but I found many an opportunity to offer up my prayers during a watch on deck at night, and on those occasions I felt more freedom and earnestness. Also I often would do so after I had turned into my hammock, and before I turned out in a morning. I own that when I was first observed to read my Bible I was frequently called by my messmates a Methodist and a saint, and Dicky Sharpe was especially liberal in his application of such epithets to me; but Adam Stallman soon silenced him as well as others.

"Let me ask you, Master Dicky, what you mean by a Methodist?" he inquired. "If it is applied to a man who acts the part of a consistent Christian, and does his duty methodically—with system, and not by fits and starts,—it is a very high compliment you pay him; and as for the term saint, let me assure you that those who do not become saints have their souls in a very perilous condition."

These remarks of Stallman's, though my young messmate tried to look unconcerned and indifferent to them at the time, had, I believe, a very beneficial effect on him. I will not, however, dwell longer on this subject, important though it is, or my readers may declare that, instead of writing my adventures for their amusement, I am giving them a book of sermons. I will not do that; but still I must urge them to pay attention to what I have said—never to be ashamed of their religion; far, far rather to be proud of it, and ever to make God's word the rule of their conduct.—To return to my narrative. The repairs of the frigate having been completed, we once more put to sea, and made sail for Tripoli and Tunis. Our poor Italian master, Signor Mezzi, had declared most positively that nothing would ever again tempt him to venture on the treacherous ocean; but a few weeks on the smooth water of Malta harbour had wonderfully reassured him, and he continued therefore with us, to our somewhat problematical benefit. Nothing occurred on our passage to and from those places.

We were once more entering Malta harbour. Mr Vernon at once went on shore, and I again accompanied him. He repaired to the post-office, but there were, to his evident disappointment, no letters for him. He considered for a moment. "We'll go to the agents of the Ariadne; she must have arrived at Gibraltar long before the last mails left."

The agent's office was close to the harbour. We threaded our way to it among bales, and casks, and packages.

The senior partner, Mr Dunnage, received us very politely; and when Mr Vernon inquired for the brig, his countenance assumed a grave look.

"We must hope for the best," he replied; "but she is, I own, very long overdue, and we have had no tidings whatever of her. She may have put into some little-frequented port, with the loss of her spars or masts, and the master may not have been able to communicate with us."

"Nay, I am sure it must be so," he continued, seeing the agitation into which the information had thrown my lieutenant.

"Was the master a steady and good seaman?" asked Mr Vernon, in a voice husky with emotion.

"Not a steadier man nor a better seaman comes to this port," replied Mr Dunnage. "If his craft was caught by a squall, or got into any other difficulty, I am sure he would have done all that could be done for her."

"We fell in with a terrific squall soon after she was at sea," mused Mr Vernon. "Heaven grant that she was not exposed to it."

"It is impossible to say," answered the merchant in a kind tone. "I feel more than usually anxious, on account of her passengers, I own. Sailors are accustomed to hardships; they expect to meet them in their career; and they are aware, when they go afloat, that they must be prepared to lose their lives in the gale or the battle."

Mr Vernon shuddered. He began to realise the possibility of the loss— the dreadful death of her he loved. Still he was a right-minded, brave man, and what is more, a sincere Christian; and he resolved not to give way to despair.

Mr Dunnage perceived, at length, the effect his information had produced, and he now did his best to mitigate the anxiety of my lieutenant, entering warmly into all his plans for gaining information as to the fate of the brig.

It was agreed that he should write round to all the ports on the shores of the Mediterranean, near which it was possible the Ariadne could have been driven; and that his correspondents there should send boats along the coast from port to port, so that no part should remain unexplored.

"I should advise you also to see the Admiral; he will, I am sure, take a warm interest in the matter."

No sooner said than done. When sensible men are in earnest about an affair, they do not lose time by talking, the plan of action being at once decided on.

Mr Dunnage having penned the draft of a circular letter to be sent to the ports, left it to be copied by his clerks, while we set forth to see the Admiral, who was, fortunately, at Malta.

The worthy old man at once entered into all the proposed plans for searching for the brig, and suggested others.

"We'll send the Harold to sea at once; and I'll despatch all the small craft I can spare on the search. Stay,—you shall take an order to Captain Poynder to sail forthwith. I suppose he's ready to go?" said he to Mr Vernon.

"We are well supplied with provisions, and can soon fill up with water; we can be off this evening, I know," replied Mr Vernon.

"Away with you! and may your search be prosperous," said the Admiral, with much feeling.

The order to go to sea again was at first received with no little surprise on board; but the fact that the Ariadne was missing being generally known on shore, and the blue-peter being hoisted, the officers who had gone on leave came hurrying back.

That night, with a fine breeze we had run Malta out of sight.



"Something black and low over the starboard bow," sung out the man stationed on the main-topgallant-masthead.

"How far off is it?" hailed the first-lieutenant.

"Two miles or thereabout, sir," was the reply.

"What does it look like?" was again asked.

"A boat, I think, sir, as much as anything," answered the look-out.

Scarcely had the seaman aloft hailed the deck, than Mr Vernon, his countenance paler than usual, showing the agitation within, had slung his glass over his shoulder, and was on his way up the rigging. At the topgallant-masthead he now sat, eagerly looking out towards the point indicated. The ship's course was instantly directed towards it. It was an exciting moment. It might prove to be a boat, keel uppermost, and have no tale to tell, except to let us surmise that she had proved no ark of safety to those who had trusted to her; or she might have living beings on board, whom our discovery of her might rescue from starvation and death. Other officers followed Mr Vernon aloft.

"She is a boat afloat, and pulling towards us," sung out one of them.

Everybody on board was looking over the sides or out of the ports at the boat, which we neared rapidly. We soon made out that there were several people in her besides those who were pulling; but whether there was a lady or not, we could not discover. I pitied poor Mr Vernon's feelings all the time very much. He came down on deck again, and stood at the gangway pale as death, but manfully suppressing his emotion. The boat drew near us. She was evidently belonging to a merchantman, and, from her build, and the appearance of the people, they were English; but there was no female form among them. Mr Vernon scrutinised the countenances of those in the boat as she came alongside; but he soon, apparently, recognised none as those he had seen on board the Ariadne, for he drew a deep breath, and, I thought, seemed more composed.

The people from the boat now came up the side, and she was hoisted up. She was in a very battered condition, and had evidently been lately repaired in a hurried manner.

They were received at the capstern by Captain Poynder. An honest, sturdy-looking gentleman stepped forward as spokesman.

"I see that I am fortunate enough to have got on board a British man-of-war," he began. "Well, sir, I have a pretty account of piracy and attempted wholesale murder to give."

"Let me hear it at once, sir, that I may judge what is to be done," said Captain Poynder.

"Yes, sir, certainly. My name is Hudson, sir. You must know that I am, or rather was, master of the Helen brig. We sailed from Liverpool, where we took in a valuable cargo of manufactured goods, chiefly silks and fine cottons. We were bound for Leghorn. While we were taking in our cargo, there lay alongside of us a fine new brig, the William, owned by some very respectable merchants of our port. Her master was a certain Captain Delano, a very well-spoken, fine-looking man. I cannot say that I ever liked him. There was something in his eye, and way of talking, which made me doubt him. Not but that he said many things that were very good and right, but there was nothing hearty in them; and now and then he let out opinions which made me sure he was a bad man, notwithstanding the way he had managed to come over his owners. There were several suspicious things which I had heard of him from time to time. He was an American, hailing from New York; yet he fought very shy of all masters coming from thence, and had refused, on some excuse or other, to take charge of a vessel going there. He, two years ago, had command of a barque, the Brunswick, trading up the Straits. Some queer things were said to have taken place in her; and I'm very much mistaken if the black flag did not fly aboard her more than once. At last this Mr Delano was caught attempting to carry out a large smuggling transaction in Malta harbour, as, perhaps, you may have heard, sir, when you have been there. He was convicted, and thrown into prison. After having been shut up for a year, he was liberated, ruined in character, and without a penny in his pocket. Any other man, almost, would never again have been able to lift up his head; but his tongue served him in good stead, and finding his way to Liverpool, he had the impudence to present himself before his owners, and the wit to persuade them that he was a much-injured individual, and innocent as the new-born babe of all the charges brought against him. They gave him in consequence, as I said, the command of the William, a new brig just off the stocks. On some pretext or other, he was constantly aboard us as we were taking in our cargo; and, with the thoughts I had of him, I cannot say that I quite liked it. I understood also, from my people, that four of the Brunswick's crew had found him out, and shipped with him; and the night before he sailed another very suspicious-looking character shipped aboard, and, as the vessel went out of harbour, was seen doing duty as mate. I mention these things, sir, that you may judge whether I am likely to be right in my conjectures as to what afterwards occurred. I will not now keep you longer than I can help. We had a fine passage to the Gut, though with three or four days of light and baffling winds. We had got through the Straits; and about a couple of days after we had passed them, we made out on our weather-bow, a brig, under easy canvas, standing across our course.

"'Where can she be bound to?' says I to my mate, here.

"'Only to the coast of Africa,' says he; 'for you see, sir, she had a fair wind up or down the Mediterranean.'

"'She is in no hurry, at all events,' says I, 'with that sail she has set.'

"'I can't make it out,' says he. 'See, sir, she looks as if she intended to speak us. She has altered her course a couple of points. Ay, I see how it is—she is short-handed, by the way those sails are set, and the ropes, too, are all hanging slack about her. Perhaps she has lost some of her people by fever, or maybe they have been washed overboard in a squall.'

"As I looked at the brig more attentively, there was a strange foreign look about the paint on her sides and figure-head which puzzled me, and still the cut of her sails and the rake of her masts was English. Presently, however, an ensign, with the stars and stripes of the United States, flew out at her peak. That seemed to set the matter at rest. The stranger soon bore down on us, and I hailed her to know who she was, and what she wanted.

"'The Crescent, from New York, bound for the Levant,' was the answer. 'We've lost more than half our ship's company in trying to save some people off a wreck, and have ourselves sprung a leak. Can you send any of your people aboard to help us to try and stop it?'

"'Ay, ay,' I answered; for you see, sir, I am always glad to lend a hand to any other ship's company requiring assistance. To show that what he stated was true, three or four hands were working at the pumps, though I did not see that they were forcing much water over the sides. We lowered a boat accordingly, and I jumped in, with four hands, and pulled aboard the stranger. As the bowman caught hold of the main-chains—

"'Why, she has canvas over her sides,' he remarked.

"'Shove off, my lads; it's not all right,' I sung out.

"But before the bowman could clear his boat-hook, a couple of cold shot were hove into the boat, and she began to fill rapidly. We had no choice but to scramble on board, or to go down with her. As soon as we were on the deck of the stranger, we found ourselves knocked over; and before we could get on our legs, we were bound hand and foot. The men who acted as officers, as well as the crew of the vessel, were rigged out in so odd a fashion, and their faces so covered up with hair and black patches, that I could not have recognised them had I known them ever so well; but still, at the time, it struck me that the fellow who seemed to be the captain, had a figure very like that of Delano. Of course I did not say anything, as I knew that to do so would be a sure way of getting knocked on the head, and made food for fishes. Leaving my people and me on the deck to think what we might, the villains, who had now got a boat in very good condition, lowered her, and, with pistols hid under their shirts, and cutlasses and muskets stowed away underneath the thwarts, went aboard my brig. In a few minutes they hailed, which showed me that they had made quick work in taking possession. The two vessels were now brought alongside each other, and lashed together, and my men and I were then handed on board our own craft, and carried below—I into my cabin, and the rest into the forepeak, where others of the crew had been already conveyed. I won't attempt to tell you how I felt, as I saw the villains rifling my boxes and lockers, and carrying off everything worth having. They made quick work of it, being hurried on by their captain; and then they set-to to take possession of our cargo. They left me in my own sleeping-berth, on my back, so that I could see nothing; but, from the sounds I heard, I judged that they were handing bale after bale of our cargo into their own craft. Their cargo, if they had one, I suppose they hove overboard, to make room for ours. How long they continued at this work, I don't know. It seemed to me an age, you may be sure, sir. At last they knocked off, and there was silence for some time. I thought they were going to leave us, when I heard them return on board; and there was a sound which I could not mistake. The murderous villains were boring holes in the ship's bottom. I felt it was all up with us. They intended to let the brig founder, with all her crew, so that there should be no witnesses to their robbery. In vain I tried to get my hands loose. They were too well secured, and I had, therefore, nothing to do but to resign myself to my fate. It was not the first time that I had faced death; and, sirs, I knew in whom to trust. He had before preserved my life. Gentlemen, I should be an ungrateful wretch if I did not thus at once acknowledge God's great mercy to us. He has preserved our lives, and we are here."

The reverential way in which the worthy master spoke made a deep impression on me. There was no ostentation, no hypocrisy, no cant; but heartfelt gratitude, and humble reliance on God's protecting hand.

"No excuse necessary. What you say is right—perfectly right. You speak as a Christian should, and I honour you for it; but go on," replied Captain Poynder, who was evidently anxious to arrive at the conclusion of the master's somewhat prolix narrative.

"Well, sir," he continued, "of one thing I felt pretty certain, that Delano was the perpetrator of this horrible outrage. It was the very trick he was reported to have played before, and which, from what I had seen of him, I judged he would be ready to play again. I could hear the water begin to rush into the ship, but it did not reach the deck of the cabin so soon as I expected. There was a good deal of noise on deck, as if the pirates were knocking things to pieces; and then I judged that the vessels had separated, and that the pirate had sheered off to leave us to our fate. All was silent, and I could not tell whether my poor fellows had been carried off or been left to share my fate with the brig. Some twenty minutes or half an hour had passed in this state of uncertainty, when I heard a noise, as if bulkheads were being knocked in, and my own name was called by a voice which I recognised as that of my mate. I shouted joyfully in return, and in a few seconds he and some of the crew rushed into the cabin and released me. 'The brig seems in no way inclined to go down, captain,' they exclaimed. 'If we could but get the pumps rigged, we might save her as well as our lives; but the pirate has only sheered off to a short distance, and if the villains on board were to catch sight of our faces on deck, they would soon return and put a finishing stroke to us.' 'Let's see if we can do anything to keep the water out,' said I, though I had little hope of success. On going into the hold, which was pretty well free of cargo, on examination I discovered that the holes had been bored through the timbers, instead of through the planks. 'Either a friend or a lubber has done this,' exclaimed my mate. 'I think the former,' I observed. 'Get some plugs as fast as you can, my lads, and we'll soon stop these leaks, and yet keep the old barkie afloat.' The holes were bored mostly high up, so that they were easily got at, and we thus had the greater number of them quickly plugged. There is no doubt in my mind that the man who bored the holes hoped by that means to save our lives. One of the crew, who had all been shut up in the forepeak, told me that the man who had lashed his hands took occasion to pass him, when he whispered, 'Don't move till we're clear off. Things are not so bad for you as they look.' When I heard this, I was sure that all on board the pirate were not as great villains as their leaders. As soon as this man had got his hands free—which he did without difficulty, for they were purposely ill secured—he loosed the rest; and then, afraid to show themselves on deck, lest the pirates should see them, they worked their way aft to my cabin. A strong confirmation to my suspicions that the pirate brig is no other than the William, commanded by Delano, is, that as one of my people lay bound on her deck, when we were knocked down on boarding her, he observed the name of the sailmaker on her fore-topsail—John Reynolds, of Liverpool. He remarked the name particularly, because he was the maker who had furnished the sails of the last vessel he had sailed in; and he remembered that he had observed the same name on the William's sails. We remained below for some little time after we had plugged the holes, and then we managed to wrench off the hatches of the forepeak. When we had done this, I crept cautiously out, and looking over the bulwarks, I saw the pirate about a quarter of a mile off, laying by us apparently to watch till we should go down. This made our position very perilous, for any moment the pirates might return and knock us all on the head, though, for that matter, I resolved that if they attempted it, we would sell our lives at no cheap rate. As I glanced my eyes along our deck and up aloft, a sad scene of havoc and destruction met them. Our running rigging was un-rove and carried off, our standing rigging was cut through, and what sails remained on the yards were hanging in shreds. On deck, our boats were stove in, the caboose knocked to pieces, and the cooking things gone. Indeed I could scarcely have supposed that so much mischief could have been committed by a few people in so short a time. Having made these observations, I again went below to hold a consultation with my mates as to what was best to be done. We made up our minds that as long as the water did not gain on us, and the pirate lay near us, all we could do was to remain quiet below; but we agreed to arm ourselves in the best way we could, and, if the pirates returned, to rush out on them in a body, and to attempt to take them by surprise. The arms from my cabin had been carried off; but there were three brace of pistols and a couple of fowling-pieces in a chest in the after-hold, which had escaped their notice; as also some ammunition. We had also among us a couple of axes, and some thick ends of crowbars; so that we were likely to prove pretty formidable in a close scuffle. When we were ready, we almost wished that the fellows would come back, that we might punish them for what they had done, and I believe that we should have rendered a good account of them. But at the same time, as bloodshed must have followed—and that in any case is bad,—and we could not have regained our property, I cannot say but what I am glad they did not make the attempt. If we had had the brig under control, we might have done something; but without sails, and almost sinking, we were helpless. I now returned on deck, to watch the movements of the pirate. All this time the water kept coming in, and I began to fear that our brig would not keep afloat till the pirate had sheered off, when suddenly I saw her sheet home her topsails, let fall her courses, and make sail away to the eastward. After watching her for a quarter of an hour—which seemed four times as long a period,—to make sure that the pirates could no longer see us, I called the people up from below to rig the pumps. The pirates had, however, done their utmost to render them useless, and we soon found that we must give up all hopes of clearing the ship of water. We then turned-to to examine the boats. One was so completely stove in that she was perfectly useless; and we made up our minds that we should have to take to a raft, when the carpenter reported that he could in a very short time render the other boat seaworthy. We accordingly did our best to make her fit to float, though darkness came down upon us before we had finished. We could only find one lantern, which enabled us to continue our work, but very slowly. We made a rough sort of a raft to keep us afloat, in case the brig should go down suddenly; but I never passed a more anxious night. It was noon the next day before the boat was ready. Scarcely had we got clear of the brig before she went down; and certainly it was from no mercy of Delano's that we did not sink in her. I at once shaped a course for Malta, as the wind had shifted round to the westward, and it was the British port we could most easily reach, and where we could at the same time get aid to go in search of the pirate. What with baffling winds, we have been a long time knocking about, and might have been still longer, had we not fallen in with you, sir. All I can say more is, that the sooner a stop is put to the career of those villains, the better. It is impossible to tell what other atrocities they may have committed."

While the master of the Helen was giving his narrative, I saw Mr Vernon turn very pale; and as he made this last observation, I thought he would have fallen. It had evidently occurred to him that the Ariadne might have been seized by Delano. By a mighty effort of self-command, however, he recovered himself.

"I am much pleased with your clear statement, Mr Hudson," said Captain Poynder. "We will return to Malta immediately, and take steps to discover what has become of the William, or rather the pirate which plundered you. I cannot doubt that they are one and the same craft."

"Thank you, sir; that's what I think should be done," said the worthy master. "I've no doubt the pirate will be found before long."

"Captain Poynder, is it possible that the pirate could have fallen in with the Ariadne?" said Mr Vernon in a hollow voice, trembling with agitation.

"I trust not—I trust not," replied the captain. "We'll hope for the best: at the same time we will do our utmost to ascertain the truth."



We had a foul wind, and it took us three days to beat back into Malta harbour. Our return caused much surprise, for it was deemed prudent to keep Captain Hudson's narrative a secret till we had ascertained what had become of Delano, lest any of his friends should hear of it, and, by giving him notice, might enable him to escape. I was again Mr Vernon's companion on shore, where we went as soon as we had dropped our anchor. We first bent our steps to the office of Mr Dunnage, as he seemed to take a warmer and more active interest than anybody else in the mysterious disappearance of the Ariadne. We were shown into the worthy merchant's private room, where he sat surrounded by piles of tin boxes, with long bygone dates marked on their sides, and heaps of old ledgers and journals; with pictures of ships on the walls, and a model of one of antique build, fully rigged, over an old dark oak press at his back. Mr Dunnage had a full fresh, Anglo-Saxon countenance, which, though I at first thought rather grave and cold, after a few minutes' conversation seemed to beam with kindness and good nature. He looked grave as we entered, and having motioned us to be seated, shook his head as he remarked, "I have no news, lieutenant, of the brig, I am grieved to say. Have you anything to report."

"The worst surmises only, sir," said Mr Vernon; and he then gave him an account of our having picked up the master and crew of the Helen, and of the outrage they had suffered.

Mr Dunnage listened with deep interest.

"Ah! that fully accounts for a circumstance which has puzzled me exceedingly. That very brig, the William, belongs to my friends, Hodge, Podge, and Company, of Liverpool; and I am sure they would have consigned her to me, had they intended her to come here. Here she came, however, consigned to a Jew, a man of very disreputable character; and I understand that she discharged but a very small part of her cargo. We must try and find out what has become of it, and see if Captain Hudson can identify any portion of it. When I sent down to inquire about her, I found that she had sailed again, and, it was reported, had proceeded up to the Levant. Altogether my suspicions were very much excited, especially when I found, on inquiry, that Delano was her master. Her crew, also, were said to have come on shore in gay-coloured silk waistcoats, and to have spent more money than seamen are likely to have lawfully possessed."

"Oh, let us at once try and find out what was the nature of the cargo sold by Delano," exclaimed Mr Vernon. "Can you tell me what the Ariadne had on board?"

"I see the drift of your question," answered Mr Dunnage; "but I do not think that, foolhardy as Delano may be, he would have ventured to offer for sale articles which had been shipped from this, and would be so easily recognised. No; all that we can hope to prove without a doubt is, that the William is the brig which plundered the Helen; and we must then take means to find out, without delay, what has become of her, and to put a stop to her career. Stay; let me consider what is best to be done. The Admiral will, I am sure, gladly send all the men-of-war that can be spared to look out for her."

"I have thought of that already," said Mr Vernon; "but, my dear sir, I suspect that such would not be the best way to capture the pirate crew. They would very likely hear of our being on the search for them, or would become suspicious at the sight of a man-of-war, and contrive to make their escape. We shall require to use great caution to get hold of so clever a fellow as Delano is described to be. I would propose rather to fit out a small merchantman, a xebeque or schooner, and to man her with men-of-war's men. We may, in a craft of that description, be able to get alongside the William, unsuspected, and to capture her without loss of life."

"A capital idea," exclaimed Mr Dunnage. "I have a craft in my eye, which I think you will consider suitable for the object; and I am certain the merchants here will gladly defray all expenses."

So the matter was settled; and as neither Mr Dunnage nor my lieutenant were men who would allow the anchor to block up Mr Neptune's cottage door for many days together, we immediately set off to have a look of the vessel proposed. She was a small schooner, the Thisbe,—most vessels in the Mediterranean have classical names; and the result of the examination was the opinion that she was well suited for the purpose.

"Now, my dear lieutenant," said Mr Dunnage, "do you go on board and beat up for a crew. I will run round to the merchants to get them to share the expenses. By this evening she shall have her stores on board and be ready for sea. Don't suppose I'm bragging. Where there is a will there is a way."

Off ran our excellent friend, while Mr Vernon and I hastened on board to describe the proposed plan to Captain Poynder, and to get his leave to borrow some of the Harold's men. As may be supposed, there were plenty of volunteers for the expedition,—indeed, everybody wanted to go; but we had to wait patiently till Mr Dunnage came on board, as he promised to do, to announce what arrangements he had made. When I got back into the berth, I found all the youngsters discussing the subject of the disappearance of the Ariadne. It was the general opinion that it was possible Delano and his crew might have fallen in with her; but still she had had ample time to reach Gibraltar. We made up our minds that Mr Vernon would be placed in command of the expedition, and we each of us hoped to be selected to accompany him. Adam Stallman, who was in the berth, did not make any remark; but after a time he got up and went on deck. He looked, I observed, more sad and full of care than even Mr Vernon. At last Mr Dunnage came on board with a despatch from the Admiral to Captain Poynder. Mr Vernon was soon afterwards sent for into the cabin. The consultation was very short. When he came out, he informed Adam Stallman that he had applied for him as his mate, and, to my great satisfaction, told me that I was also to accompany him. I was very anxious to get Dicky Sharpe; so, mustering up all my courage, I boldly asked Captain Poynder if he might be of the party.

"I suppose Mr Du Pre can dispense with his valuable services in the ship for a time," replied the captain; "so, if Mr Vernon will take charge of him, and you, Mr D'Arcy, will undertake that he gets into no mischief, he has my leave to go."

The truth was, the captain was glad to allow the mates and youngsters to go away in small craft, as he considered that they thus gained more knowledge of seamanship, and confidence in their own resources, than they could have done by remaining on board. Twenty picked men were selected from among the volunteers to man the schooner. Mr Hudson, and four of his crew, were also asked to go, to identify, if they could, the pirates. As soon as the volunteers had got their bags ready, and been mustered, we were ordered away in the boats to bring the schooner down to the frigate, from up a creek in the harbour where she lay; while the purser was directed in the meantime to get provisions and stores in readiness for her. Where a body of disciplined men labour with a will, a large amount of work can be done in a short time; and thus, before night set in, we had the Thisbe fitted for sea, provisioned, stored, and watered. We shipped, likewise, four light guns, and a supply of small-arms and cutlasses, that we might make sure of mastering the pirates, in case the plan of taking them by surprise should miscarry. We were also ordered to take with us our rough clothes, that we might look as much as possible like merchant seamen. Our shipmates in the Harold gave us three cheers as we cast off from her side, and, with a light breeze and a clear sky, stood out of the harbour. The merchants had left full discretion to Mr Vernon to proceed as he judged best from the information he might obtain; but they suggested, at the same time, that he should run through the Greek islands, among which it was probable the pirate would have gone; and, not finding her there, proceed to Smyrna, where it was reported one of the pirates had said they were going. Both Mr Vernon and Adam Stallman had been on shore all day picking up what information they could. Among other things, they found that the crew of the William had been very profuse in their expenditure on shore; and, as if to account for the quantity of cash they possessed, had said that they had the luck to fall in with an abandoned vessel. To show, however, how difficult it is for rogues to agree in a false story, one had said that they had met her in the Bay of Biscay, and another, inside the Straits, while a third had the audacity or blind folly to declare that the name was the Helen, though the others gave her different names. As soon as it was known that suspicions were attached to the crew of the William, several tradesmen came forward to say what they knew about them. One of these gentlemen said that he thought it rather odd, as I think indeed he might, when one of the men ordered twenty silk waistcoats of him of different gay patterns, and paid the price down at once, while another bought six green coats. I dare say Mr Snip charged him a full price. He declared that he had not sufficient reason to give any information to the police about the matter, as seamen were curious fellows, and sometimes fond of displaying fine clothes. Another had spent large sums in a jeweller's shop, and had gone out with several gold chains about his neck. From what was reported, indeed, it appeared that the wretched crew had spent a large part of their ill-gotten wealth. To account for their having so much cash, it was ascertained that they had at first gone to Leghorn, where Delano had doubtless disposed of some part of the cargo. It is only surprising that the authorities at Leghorn had not detained her, when there were so many suspicious circumstances about her. Thus, all the time that the wretches were under the idea that their crime was unknown, and themselves unsuspected, they were insuring the means of their own detection and capture. I kept the first watch, with Adam Stallman, the night we sailed, when he made the above remark, and many others.

"You will observe, D'Arcy," said he, "as you go through life, that evil-doers nearly always lay nets for their own destruction: I might, I think, safely say always. These men have already given us evidence which must be sufficient to convict them; and, if not, depend on it, we shall find it before long. Now, how do you think this happens? Because, as I believe the Evil Spirit is ever going about seeking whom he may devour, he tempts men to commit sin; and then so blinds their minds, that they can no longer form a right judgment, even to save themselves from the detection of their fellow men. His temptations, also, are so weak and frivolous, when viewed in their proper light, that, did not one know the folly of man, one would be surprised that he could venture to make use of them. His baits are always of a tinselly or shadowy nature, either worthless when caught, or altogether illusions, as useless to people in general as the gold chains and silk waistcoats are to these rough pirates. Should it not make our hearts sink with sorrow, when we see the worthless wealth, the empty titles, for which men barter away their souls?"

I agreed with Stallman as to the correctness of his remarks. My excellent messmate was very fond of endeavouring, in a similar mode, to give instruction to the youngsters brought in contact with him. To do him justice, he contrived to do so in a more interesting way than my account might leave my readers to suppose. We had a fair wind, though light, for the first twenty-four hours, and the schooner made good way; but at the end of that time it shifted round to the eastward, a regular sneezer came on, the sea got up, and, close-hauled, the little schooner was soon ploughing her way through the foaming waves. My long service in the cutter made me perfectly at home; but Dicky Sharpe, who had never been in a small craft in his life, was very soon done up. He threw himself down on a locker in the little cabin aft, looking the very picture of misery.

"Oh! D'Arcy, my dear fellow, do have the kindness to heave me overboard," he groaned out. "I can be of no further use to any one in this world, and it would be a charity to put me out of it. It would, indeed, I assure you."

"Oh, nonsense, Sharpe," I answered. "You are speaking gross folly: only your sea-sickness excuses you."

"Now, don't scold me, Neil,—don't," he replied. "If you felt as I do, you would not be inclined to be very sensible."

"Well, then, get up, and be a man," said I. "If you give in like that, and fancy yourself dying, and all sorts of things, you deserve to be thrown overboard; though I'm not the person going to do it."

"All hands shorten sail!" sung out Adam Stallman, who had charge of the deck.

I sprang up the companion-ladder, followed by Dicky, and from that moment he forgot all about his sea-sickness.

We soon got the little craft under snug canvas, and time it was to do so; for, as man-of-war's men often do small craft, we had been treating her like a big ship, and carrying on till the last moment. Never had the Thisbe been shoved through the water, probably, at the rate we had lately been going; but more haste the worst speed, as we ran a great chance of proving to our cost, for we were very near carrying the masts over the sides, or making the small craft turn the turtle.

For two days we beat up against the gale, not one of us keeping a dry thread on our backs; but after forty-eight hours of a good honest blow, the wind seemed to have done enough for the present, and turning into a light baffling breeze, left us to make an easy, though slow, passage across the blue calm sea. This sort of weather continued till we made the mountainous and wild-looking coast of the island of Cephalonia. We ran in close along shore, as there are no rocks to bring up a vessel; and, standing up a deep bay on the western side, with Guardiana, or Lighthouse Island, on the north, dropped our anchor off Argostoli, the chief town. Most of the people were ordered to keep quiet below, while Mr Vernon, in plain clothes, went on shore in the dinghy. He came back in a short time, and reported that he could gain no tidings answering to the description of the William.

My own knowledge of Cephalonia is but slight; but Stallman, who had been there before, gave me some information about it. It is one of the Ionian Islands, under the protection of England, and had an English garrison, at that time consisting of about five hundred of the rifle brigade. Thanks to Sir Frederick Adams, the country appears to be in a flourishing condition; the roads are excellent, and the inhabitants cultivate not only the fertile valleys, but every inch of soil to be found among its rocky heights. There is another neatly-built and pleasantly—situated town, called Luxuria, about three miles from Guardiana.

If we thought Cephalonia interesting, Zante, the next place at which we touched, was far more so. Its citadel occupies a lofty hill, situated at the head of a deep bay. The citadel, bristling with guns,—the town, with its steeples and domes,—and the surrounding country, with its groves of olives, its fields of waving corn, and its villas and hamlets, presented to our eyes a scene of surpassing loveliness. Not a word of information could we obtain of the objects of our search; so we again weighed anchor and stood on towards Corfu, the most beautiful and interesting of all the Ionian Islands, within sight of the lofty and picturesque mountains of Albania. The citadel of Corfu, standing on an island on the southern side of the town, may, from its lofty position, surmounted by a lighthouse, be discovered at a considerable distance out at sea. Its southern side is completely inaccessible, and art has rendered the other sides equally difficult to ascend; so that it is almost, if not entirely, impregnable. The island is connected to the mainland by a bridge, at the end of which is the fine open place called the Esplanade, extending from the west side of the bay, to the palace of the Lord High Commissioner on the east. Most of the streets run at right angles to each other; the principal, the Strada Real, runs to the gate which forms the chief entrance to the town. The houses are for the most part built in an irregular and slovenly manner; and even the public buildings cannot boast of much beauty. The inhabitants, of the town especially, are a mixture of Greeks and Venetians. In the country the population is more purely Greek. The roads, constructed chiefly by fatigue parties from the garrison, are excellent, and extend to every corner of the island, and must contribute much to its material prosperity. At all events, British rule has been of great benefit to the Ionian people. It might have been of greater. More might have been done to educate and improve the people, both morally and religiously; but had they been left to themselves, they would most probably be in a far worse position than they now are.

Our inquiries here were as little satisfactory as at other places; and we were just tripping our anchor, when a merchant-brig, coming up the harbour, passed us. Mr Vernon hailed her, to learn where she came from.

"Smyrna," was the reply.

She brought up near us, and he went on board. He returned shortly with more animation in his countenance than I had long seen there.

"I have at last notice of the fellow," he said. "A vessel answering the description of the William was in Smyrna harbour when the brig came out. The crew, by their conduct, seem to have excited some suspicion; and my only fear is that they may find it not safe for them to remain, and will, therefore, take their departure."

This information put us all in spirits, for we had begun almost to despair of catching the pirate after all. Not a moment was lost in getting under weigh, and in making all sail the schooner could carry.

We had a fair wind, and nothing worthy of note occurred on the passage, till we made the entrance of Smyrna harbour, in the outer port of which we dropped anchor. Mr Vernon then dressed himself like the mate of a merchantman, and with one of our own people, and one of the crew of the Helen, prepared to leave the schooner's side in the dinghy. Just at the last moment I mustered courage to beg that he would let me accompany him. I had rigged myself in plain clothes, and might, I fancied, have been taken for a steward, or the captain's son. Mr Vernon considered for a moment.

"Yes, come along, D'Arcy," said he. "You will not do us any harm in that dress, and your eyes and judgment may be of service."

I was delighted at the permission I had gained, and eagerly jumped into the boat. Away we then pulled up the harbour, in the lazy fashion of a collier's crew. We scrutinised narrowly each vessel in our course, but none answered the description of the William. At last John Norris, the seaman from the Helen, exclaimed—

"There, sir, that's her; inside the barque there. See, she's got her fore-topsail loosed, and there's the name of the maker on it—the very thing which first let us know that she was the William."

To make more sure that the man was not mistaken, we pulled up the harbour a little way, and then touching the shore, so as not to excite the suspicion of the pirates, should they by chance observe us, we passed close by the vessel on our return. There was, I thought, as I watched her, a dark, ill-boding look about her; but that might have been fancy. One man only was to be seen. He was walking the deck, with his hands in his pockets, and occasionally looking over the side. He caught sight of us as we pulled by, and seemed to be watching us narrowly. I felt almost sure that he suspected something was wrong; but probably he had got a habit of scrutinising everything which approached him, as a London pickpocket does when he knows that the police are aware of his course of life. As we dropped past the brig's quarter, I got a better view of his countenance, and I felt sure that I had seen it before. It was that of a man I supposed to have been hidden long ago, with all his crimes, beneath the waves—no other than Bill Myers. It was a countenance I could not readily forget, after our encounter in the cavern. Then, in spite of all probabilities, he had contrived to escape from the breakers of the Portland Race. I was afraid to look up again, lest he should also recognise me, and give the alarm to his shipmates; indeed, I was not at all satisfied that he had not already suspected our intentions. A small boat was floating astern of the brig. He watched us for some time, as we returned towards the schooner, and as long as I could observe him, he was keeping his eye on us. We lost not a moment, on returning on board, in getting out a merchantman's long-boat, which we had brought with us. She pulled four oars, and was a large, roomy boat. Besides the hands to pull her, eight of our men were stowed away under a tarpaulin, which was thrown over them, to look exactly as if it were covering up some merchandise. All hands under the tarpaulin were strongly armed, and arms were placed in readiness, stowed away for the use of those who were pulling.

Mr Vernon again changed his dress, and I followed his example, lest Myers—or the man I took for him—might recognise us. With beating hearts we once more left the schooner. We pulled slowly up the harbour, and soon came in sight of the pirate brig. The people, who had probably been at their dinners when we before passed, were now some of them aloft, fitting the rigging, and others working on deck. It required, therefore, careful management on our part to take them by surprise. We pulled up, as if we were going to pass them at some little distance on the starboard side. The men imitated admirably the lubberly, sluggish fashion in which some merchant seamen handle their oars. Just as we were abeam, each of the two men pulling our port oars pretended to catch crabs, and this suddenly brought the boat broadside on to the brig's side. Before, however, we could hook on, even the hands aloft seemed to suspect that something was not right, and came sliding down the rigging. But notwithstanding this, we were too quick for them, and before they could get below to alarm the rest, the party under the tarpaulin had thrown it off, and we all together sprung up the sides, and attacked every one we encountered. Some fought desperately. One fellow tried to throw himself overboard; but we soon overpowered them, and had them lashed hands and feet. To rush into the cabin was the work of a moment. The door was locked, but we burst it open. The noise made the captain, who was in his hammock, start up. He gazed at us for a moment, wildly and fiercely, and then drawing a pistol from under his pillow, fired it at us. The ball passed close to Mr Vernon's ear, and buried itself in the bulkhead. With a savage oath, the pirate was drawing out another pistol, when we threw ourselves on him and seized his arms. The weapon went off in the struggle, and very nearly finished my career—the ball actually taking off the rim of my tarpaulin hat. Before he could make any further resistance, three of our people followed us into the cabin, and we soon had him, with his arms lashed behind him, and his feet secured together. While the operation was going on, he glanced at us like a tiger, but did not utter a word. The remaining few of the pirates, who had been asleep forward in their hammocks, had been secured without resistance. I looked round for Myers, or the man I had taken for him, but he was nowhere to be seen.

Just as we had finished securing Delano, I bethought me that I smelt an unusual sulphurous odour. A dreadful suspicion had seized me. Outside the main cabin was a door, leading to a smaller one. I forced it open, with a strength I did not think myself capable of exerting. I felt that there was not a moment to be lost. On the deck were a couple of casks, and a slow match, burning at one end, communicated with one of them. I cannot say that I thought, and yet I was conscious, that in another moment I and all on board might be blown into eternity. I know not what impulse moved me; but, bending down my mouth, I seized the burning match between my teeth, and, though it much burned my lips and tongue, held it there till it was extinguished. Then, overcome by the excitement of my feelings, I sunk down over one of the casks. There I lay for a moment, almost unconscious of anything. I need scarcely say that the casks were filled with gunpowder. I should have fainted had not Mr Vernon come in, and had me carried on deck.

"Your presence of mind has saved all our lives, D'Arcy, and I can never forget it," he exclaimed. "But we have still more work to do. Lift off the hatches, my lads."

This order was quickly obeyed. With eager haste he hunted through every part of the ship. I guessed at length what was in his mind. He was seeking to discover any property of the Normans, or any articles which might have been on board the Ariadne. It was a moment of dreadful anxiety. Nothing, however, was to be found which could lead us to suppose that the Ariadne had fallen into the power of Delano. Mr Vernon had directed Adam Stallman to get the schooner under way, and to bring her up alongside the pirate brig, as soon as he calculated we could have taken possession. She now appeared, and, furling sails, dropped her anchor close to us. The scuffle on board the William had attracted the attention of the crews of the vessels lying near, several boats from which presently came alongside; and it was, I fancy, at first believed that we were a band of pirates, attempting to cut out a British merchantman. Mr Vernon explained to them what had occurred, and after a little time satisfied them that we had full authority for what we were doing. I can scarcely describe events in the order they occurred. Our search over the brig having been concluded, and no one else being discovered, we made inquiries among the pirate crew, to learn who had laid the plan for blowing up the ship; but one and all denied having any knowledge of it. Even Delano was taken by surprise when he was told of it by Mr Vernon.

"Ah! that's the work, then, of that unhung scoundrel, my mate, Dawson," he exclaimed. "It was a thought worthy of him. What! and has he escaped?"

"We found no one who appears to be your mate," said Mr Vernon. "But what could have induced him to commit such an atrocious act?"

"To try and save his own neck by sending us all to perdition before our time," exclaimed Delano, evidently for the moment forgetting all caution, from his feeling of exasperation, and thus clearly inculpating himself.

"Where do you think he has gone, then?" inquired Mr Vernon, quickly, hoping to gain further information from the pirate in his present mood.

"That's not for me to say," he replied; but not another word could we elicit from him on the subject.

He kept his fierce eyes glaring on us as we searched the cabin. We came on a box of cigars in one of the lockers.

"Ah! bring me one of those," he growled out. "You will let a man make himself comfortable in his own cabin, at all events."

A seaman, as sentry, had been placed over him, with a pistol in his hand.

"May I give it him, sir?" asked the man.

"No; not on any account," replied Mr Vernon; "but do you, D'Arcy, light one and put it in his mouth."

As I stooped down to follow my superior's directions, I fancied the pirate would have tried to bite off my fingers, he gave so vindictive and fierce a look at me. As I stood by him, I asked, "Has your mate, whom you call Dawson, ever been known by the name of Myers?"

"What's that to you, youngster? Most men have more than one name," was his somewhat equivocal answer.

His manner, however, rather confirmed me in my suspicion that the man I had seen on deck was no other than the daring smuggler we had so often tried in vain to capture in the cutter. Having thoroughly examined the ship, we transferred Delano and five of his crew into the schooner, while the remainder were secured on board the brig, into which Adam Stallman and Sharpe, with ten of our people, were sent as a prize crew. Before sailing, Mr Vernon went on shore to report to the English Consul, as well as to the Turkish authorities, what had occurred. He got great credit from the merchants for the mode in which he had captured the pirate. It appeared that even there the conduct of the crew had begun to excite suspicion; but as it happened to be nobody's business to inquire into the affair, they would have escaped, had we not opportunely arrived, that very day.

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