The Missing Ship - The Log of the "Ouzel" Galley
by W. H. G. Kingston
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Gerald then crept back into the state cabin. He first went into Norah's berth, and uttered a few words in her ear in a low voice. She had not undressed, having been warned by Owen of what was likely to happen, and she had resolved to give every assistance in her power; though her arm was weak, she possessed nerve and courage, and might be able to keep watch over the French officer, or even to turn the scale in favour of her friends, should any part of the plan miscarry.

"Give me the pistol," she whispered; "I know that it is ready for use, as I saw the lieutenant loading it this afternoon."

"Do you think he suspected anything?" asked Gerald.

"That was no sign of his doing so," answered Norah; "he has frequently withdrawn the charges and reloaded his pistols since he came on board."

"All right, you shall have it," said Gerald; "but you mustn't mind shooting him if it is necessary. Remember, if you don't we may possibly be overpowered, and shall be much worse off than we are now."

"I hope that no such necessity may arise," answered Norah, and her voice trembled as she spoke.

"There, stay quiet till you're called, and I'll take the sword to our father," said Gerald. The captain was awake, and prepared for the attempt to recapture the ship, he and Owen having decided on the best plan for carrying it out. He took the sword which his son brought him— the lamp which swung from the deck above shed a feeble light throughout the cabin—he had just quickly dressed, when Norah appeared.

"I had wished you to remain in your berth till we had secured the Frenchmen," he whispered.

"Pray do not insist on my doing so," she answered. "I may be able to help you, and I cannot bear the thoughts of hiding away while you are exposed to danger. Do let me try to be of use, father; I shall run no greater risk than I should by keeping in my berth. See, Gerald has given me a pistol, and I know how to use it. It will serve, at all events, to frighten the Frenchmen."

The captain, seeing Norah was determined, at length consented to do as she proposed. Owen now joined them, and he and the captain crept to the foot of the companion-ladder, up part of which they mounted, to be in readiness to attack the man at the helm as soon as Gerald's signal should be heard. Meantime, Gerald had made his way on deck. He had on a dark jacket and trousers and dark worsted socks, and by creeping along close under the bulwarks he would be able, he hoped, to get forward without much risk of being seen. Jacques Busson, the officer of the watch, was slowly pacing the deck, now looking up at the canvas which like a dark pyramid seemed to tower into the sky, now addressing the man at the helm to keep the sails full or else to steer rather closer to the wind, now shouting to the look-out forward to ascertain that he was awake and attending to his duty. Gerald stopped to observe what Jacques Busson was about; he could distinguish the Frenchman's figure against the sky, as he paced backwards and forwards on the raised poop, halting now and then to take a glance to windward, and again taking a few steps towards the stern. The moment Gerald thought that his back was turned he again crept forward. He had no fear of being discovered by the man at the helm, whose eyes, dazzled by the binnacle lamp, were not likely to distinguish him. Thus on he went, quickly doubling round the guns, till he reached the fore hatchway, down which he slipped without being perceived by either of the Frenchmen on deck, who were seated under the weather bulwarks, and, as he rightly concluded, with their eyes shut.

"We shall have no difficulty in tackling those two fellows," he thought. The Frenchmen were berthed on the starboard side of the forecastle, the Ouzel Galley's people on the larboard side; Gerald was thus easily able to find his friends. He had previously made all the arrangements with Dan and Pompey—they had communicated them to the rest of the crew, who only waited his arrival to carry them out. Gerald and Dan had undertaken to get possession of the Frenchmen's pistols. It was the most perilous part of the work to be performed, for should they be awakened they might give the alarm, and put the watch on deck on their guard. Both Dan and the black had noted accurately the places where the Frenchmen had put their weapons, who, instead of depositing the pistols under their pillows, had hung them up just above their heads, within reach of their hands, while their cutlasses lay by their sides. To remove the latter might be difficult without making a noise, and it was, besides, considered of less importance to get hold of them. Stealing silently across the fore-peak, Gerald and Dan reached one of the bunks; Dan then leaning over, felt for the occupant's pistol, which he carefully unhooked and handed to Gerald, who, almost breathless with eagerness, grasped it tightly. They then went to the next berth, and possessed themselves of the other weapons in the same manner. The third man turned as they approached, and uttered a few incoherent words; Dan and Gerald crouched down out of sight lest he should awake, but a loud snore showed them that there was no great fear of his doing that, and his pistols were successfully abstracted. The fourth man seemed restless, and at length raised himself on his shoulder, and looked out.

"Qui va la?" he asked in French. Gerald and Dan were standing in deep shade, and remained still as mice, scarcely daring to breathe. The Frenchman, seeing no one, must have thought that he had been dreaming, and again lying down composed himself to sleep. They waited till they heard him also begin to snore, and Dan then crept forward and got hold of his pistols. They each took one, and gave the remainder to their shipmates. Tim was then sent up, furnished with a piece of line, with directions to conceal himself close to the hatchway, down which he was to let the line hang, and his pulling it up was to be the signal that the Frenchmen were off their guard. On feeling it pulled all the party below were to spring up on deck and overpower the crew forward. Gerald accompanied by Dan and Pompey were, however, to make their way aft in the same cautious manner in which he had come forward. The black, in order to run less risk of being discovered, had stripped himself naked, and oiled his body all over. The doing so was his own idea, and he grinned when he proposed it to Dan.

"I like one big eel, and if dey try to catch me I slip out of dere hands," he observed, chuckling.

"We could not hope for a better opportunity than the present," whispered Gerald into Dan's ear.

"All right, sir," answered Dan, touching Pompey and Tim. The former, as agreed on, noiseless as a cat, crept up on deck, when he immediately gave a tug to the string. Gerald, with Dan and Pompey, followed, and, crawling on all-fours, began to make their way aft. The booms and boats would have concealed them for some part of the distance from Jacques Busson even had it been daylight; they therefore ran no risk of being discovered till they reached the after-part of the quarter-deck. Pompey had now to play the chief part in the drama. Crawling up on the lee side of the poop, he lay flat on the deck, while Gerald and Dan stole after him, ready to spring up to his aid directly he had thrown himself on Busson, leaving the helmsman to be dealt with by the captain and Owen. Pompey had just reached the break of the poop, having waited for the moment that Jacques Busson's back was towards him: a few seconds passed, when the Frenchman again turned round, and, advancing a pace or two forward, shouted to the man on the look-out. No answer came. "Bete," he exclaimed, "he is asleep. I must arouse him with a rope's end."

As he spoke he advanced, about to descend the steps leading to the quarter-deck—at that moment Pompey, who had been watching him as a serpent does its expected victim, springing to his feet, threw his arms round the Frenchman's neck, while he at the same moment shoved a large lump of oakum into his mouth before he could even utter a cry. Dan, quick as lightning, joined him, while Gerald whistled shrilly the promised signal to his father and Owen. It was heard too by Tim, who pulling the line, the rest of the Ouzel Galley's crew sprang up, some throwing themselves on the two Frenchmen slumbering under the weather bulwarks before they had time to draw their pistols. The men on the forecastle, however, aroused by the noise, fired theirs at their advancing opponents; but owing to the darkness and their hurry the bullets missed their aim, and just as they got their hands on their cutlasses they were both knocked over with well-planted blows in their faces, and brought to the deck, at the same instant that Tim, to whom the duty had been confided, closed down the hatch on the watch below. The helmsman, on hearing the scuffle, was turning his head to see what was the matter, when he found his arms pinioned by the captain and Owen. On seeing this, Gerald ran forward to where Tim had concealed the rope. He soon returned with a sufficient number of lengths to lash the arms of Busson and the men, while Tim carried the rest of the rope to his shipmates forward, who were not long securing the three Frenchmen. The remaining four of the French crew, who had been aroused by the scuffle, were now making desperate efforts to force their way up on deck, and one on the top of the ladder had just succeeded in lifting up the hatch, when Tim saw his head protruding above the combing.

"Bear a hand here, or shure the mounseers will be out of the trap," he shouted, at the same time seizing a capstan-bar, which was close at hand, and dealing a blow with it at the head of the Frenchman, who fell stunned off the ladder, back upon his companions following at his heels. Notwithstanding this, immediately they had recovered themselves they again attempted to get up, and another man had succeeded in raising half his body above the hatchway. Tim attacked him as he had done the first; the man, however, who was a powerful fellow, grasped the capstan-bar, and getting his knee on the combing was about to deal a blow at Tim which would have felled him to the deck, when one of the English crew, attracted by his cries, sprang to his assistance, and, wrenching the weapon from the Frenchman's hands, struck him dead. Two more only had now to be disposed of; they, still in ignorance of the fate of their companions, sprang up the hatchway, and before they had time to gain their feet were thrown down and secured. The man who had fallen below was groaning heavily.

"He'll do no harm," observed Pat Casey.

"Arrah, don't be too shure of that," said Tim; "if he was to come to life, he'd be after letting loose the others. It will be wiser to lash him too; and unless the dead man is kilt entirely, I'd advise that we prevent him from doing mischief."

Pat felt the Frenchman's head. "Shure, I never knew a man come to life with a hole like this in his skull," he remarked, "but to make shure in case of accidents, we'll heave him overboard;" and without more ado the body of the Frenchman, who was undoubtedly dead, was shoved through the foremost port.

Lieutenant Vinoy had not vainly boasted that he was a sound sleeper, for notwithstanding the scuffle over his head, he did not awake; and happily Norah, who had been stationed at his cabin door to keep him in check should he attempt to break out, was not called upon to exercise her courage. The two events which have been described were, it will be understood, taking place at the same time. During those exciting moments no one thought of what the ship was about; the consequence was that she flew up into the wind, and it became necessary to box her off. All hands were required for this purpose—the fore-yards had to be braced round, the after-yards squared away. Owen, from his wound, being the least able to exert himself, went to the helm, the captain hauling away with the rest of the crew.

"Gerald, do you go forward and keep a look-out on our prisoners," cried the captain. "If their arms by chance are not securely lashed, one or more of them may be getting free and setting the others at liberty. Call Tim Maloney to help you."

Gerald was about to obey this order, when the sound of loud knocking and Norah's voice came from below, exclaiming, "The lieutenant is awake and trying to break out of his cabin." Gerald heard it, and shouting to Tim to look after the Frenchmen forward, he sprang down the companion-ladder. He was not a moment too soon, for the French officer, awaking and believing from the sounds which reached him that something was the matter, had leaped out of bed with the intention of hastening on deck, when he found the door fastened on him—then, hearing the captain issuing orders, he guessed truly what had occurred. Supposing that there might yet be time to regain possession of the ship, he frantically endeavoured to break open the door. The only weapon he could discover was the leg of a stool, which having wrenched off, he managed with it to prise open the door. The light from the state cabin fell on him as he appeared at the opening; just at that moment Gerald sprang down from the deck. Catching sight of the lieutenant, he presented his pistol.

"Stay, monsieur," he exclaimed, "if you venture out of your cabin, I shall be under the disagreeable necessity of shooting you."

The Frenchman hesitated, for, the light glancing on the pistol-barrel, he recognised his own weapon, which he knew never missed fire, and showed him also that he was totally unarmed. Gerald saw his advantage. "Let me advise you, monsieur, to go back and sit down quietly, and no harm will happen to you," he continued. "The ship is ours, and we intend to keep her."

"Parbleu!" exclaimed the Frenchman, shrugging his shoulders; "you have indeed gained an advantage over me."

"Very true—but not an unfair one," said Gerald, laughing, but still keeping his pistol pointed at the officer, who now caught sight of Norah, also with a pistol in her hand, standing a little behind her brother. He might have made an attempt to spring upon Gerald and wrench the weapon from his hand, but from the determined look of the young lady he thought, in all probability, that she would fire over her brother's head should he do so. He therefore stepped back and sat down on the only remaining stool in the cabin, folding his arms with an air of resignation.

"I acknowledge myself defeated," he exclaimed; "but when I have a young lady as an opponent my gallantry forbids me to resist."

"It all comes of being a sound sleeper, monsieur," said Gerald, "but if you had kept your weather eye open it might not have happened. However, you may turn in again now and sleep as soundly as you like till we got into Waterford harbour, where we shall be, I hope, if the wind holds fair, in another day or two. But don't agitate yourself we'll treat you as politely as you treated us, except that we shall be compelled to keep you a prisoner, in case you should try again to turn the tables on us."

The ship had now been brought round; the head-yards were squared, and the course laid for Waterford. Still there was a great deal to be done; it was necessary to secure the prisoners, so that there might be no risk of their rising. Jacques Busson was a powerful and determined fellow, and he would to a certainty, if he had the opportunity, get free and try to set his countrymen at liberty. The lieutenant also, though addicted to sleeping soundly, was likely to be wide enough awake for the future, and would in all probability try to regain possession of the ship. He was therefore requested to confine himself to his cabin.

"I am sorry to treat you so inhospitably," said Captain Tracy, "but necessity compels me, and I hope that it will be but for a short time. I must warn you, however, if you attempt to break out, that we shall be obliged to secure you as we have done your men; but to save you from temptation, we shall secure your cabin door on the outside in a way which will prevent you from doing so. If, however, you will give me your promise not to attempt to regain your liberty, you will be treated with no further rigour."

"I must make a virtue of necessity," answered the lieutenant; "it is a very disagreeable one, but I submit." And without more ado he threw off his coat and quietly turned into his cot.

"Don't trust him, Gerald, whatever he may say," whispered Captain Tracy, "till we have the door firmly secured."

"Ay, ay, father," answered Gerald; "if he shows his face at the door without leave, I'll make him draw it back again pretty quickly."

Pompey had been left to watch over Jacques Busson and the man who had been serving at the wheel. He had no pistol, but instead he held in his hand a sharp, long-bladed sheath-knife, which effectually kept the prisoners from stirring. He evidently took especial delight in his office, and reluctantly consented to drag Jacques Busson into a cabin, where it was arranged that he should be confined, but at the same time with his arms and legs firmly secured. The rest of the men were carried down into the forecastle, and were placed in their bunks, the captain having examined each of them to be certain that they were lashed in a way from which they could not liberate themselves.

Morning dawned soon after these arrangements had been made. Jacques Busson grumbled greatly at the treatment he had received.

"What for you make all dis fuss?" said Pompey, who was standing sentry over him. "You want to take us into French port—we take you into Irish port. Waterford berry nice place, and when we get dere we take you out of limbo, and you live like one gentleman."

"Sacre!" answered the Frenchman, who had only caught a word or two of what Pompey had said, "if we fall in with a French ship before we get there, I'll pay you off, mon garcon, for nearly strangling me with your greasy arms."

Pompey only grinned a reply. There was no use wasting words, considering that neither understood the other's language. The lieutenant took matters more philosophically than his inferior. He was, however, not to be trusted, and either Gerald or Dan kept watch at his door with a loaded pistol. The arms and legs of the other men were too securely lashed to afford much risk of their getting loose; still, a trusty man was stationed over them, as there was no doubt that they would make the attempt could they gain the opportunity, and if one could cast off his lashings he might speedily set the others at liberty.

The sea was smooth; the sun shone brightly; and the Ouzel Galley made good way towards Waterford. She was, however, upwards of a hundred miles from that port, and might before reaching it fall in with another French ship. She was, indeed, now in a part of the ocean in which privateers were likely to be cruising, on the look-out for homeward-bound vessels. It was necessary, therefore, to avoid any strange sail till her character could be positively ascertained. A hand was accordingly stationed aloft to give timely notice should a sail appear in sight. This, of course, weakened the crew, who were already insufficient to work the ship; the wounded men, though they had aided in overpowering the Frenchmen, were but little capable of performing continuous work. Owen felt his wound very painful, yet he persisted in attending to his duty, and could scarcely be persuaded to lie down on the sofa for a short time to rest, while the captain took his watch on deck. Gerald was highly applauded by his father and Owen for his courage and judgment, which had so much contributed to the recapture of the vessel; even the French lieutenant expressed his admiration of the way he had behaved.

"If young English boys are so brave and cool, no wonder that we should have been overpowered," he observed. "I only wish that we had had a French boy on board, and it is not impossible that he might have discovered your plot and counteracted it. The next time I have charge of a prize, I will place a French boy to watch the English boys, and then we shall see which is the sharpest."

"I don't know which may prove the sharpest, but I am ready to fight any two French boys of my own age I have ever met in my life," answered Gerald, laughing; "first one come on, and then the other, or both together, provided they'll keep in front, or let me have a wall at my back, when they're welcome to do their worst."

"Ah, you are too boastful," said the lieutenant.

"Pardon me, monsieur, not at all. I am only sticking up for the honour of Old Ireland," answered Gerald.

The Ouzel Galley was drawing nearer to her port, and the chances of recapture diminished; still there was another night's run, and no one liked to boast till they were out of the fire. The crew of the Ouzel Galley were pretty well worn out, and it was with the greatest difficulty many of them could keep their eyes open. Perhaps the Frenchmen counted on this, and the hope that they yet might regain their liberty prevented them from losing their spirits, and they amused themselves by singing snatches of songs and every now and then shouting out to each other. They were also well supplied with food, and as much grog as they chose to drink.

"It's shure to comfort their hearts," observed Dan, as he went round with a big can and a tin cup; "besides, they'll be less likely to prove troublesome."

The night came on; the captain, Owen, and Gerald did their best to encourage the men and to urge them to keep awake, however sleepy they might feel, continually going among them and reminding them that in a few hours more they might turn in and sleep for as many hours as they might like at a stretch, without the fear of being knocked on the head and thrown overboard. "And, my lads," observed the captain, "if the Frenchmen retake us, depend upon it that's the way we shall be treated— they'll not give us another chance."

The only person who slept that night was Norah, who, although she had not gone through any physical exertion, had felt more anxiety than any one, from knowing the risk those whom she loved were about to run. It would be difficult to describe her feelings as she saw her father and Owen steal upon dock to attack the man at the helm; and often during that night she started up, believing that the scene was again being enacted.

The wind continued fair; the Ouzel Galley held on her course, and no suspicious sail came near her during the night.



"Land! land!" shouted Gerald, who had gone aloft at daybreak to be ready the moment there was light enough to catch eight of the looked-for shores of Ireland. As the sun rose the coast could be distinguished, indented with numerous deep inlets; but at first it was difficult to see what part of it the ship was approaching. At length, however, Gerald, whose eyes were as sharp as those of any one on board, made out a tall tower standing at the end of a long, low point of land. "Hurrah! I see Hook Tower!" he shouted out; "we're all right!"

"Never made a better land-fall in my life," exclaimed the captain, who had gone up the rigging, and had been examining the coast with his glass. As he spoke, Gerald shouted from the mast-head, "A sail on the larboard bow!"

"What does she look like?" asked the captain, who had returned on deck.

"A ship close-hauled under all sail," answered Gerald; "she's standing this way, and seems to have come out of Dungarvon Bay, as I can see Helvick Head beyond her."

"Whatever she may prove, we shall be well in with Waterford harbour before she can reach us," observed the captain.

"An enemy is not likely to have ventured so close in to the Irish coast, with the risk of encountering a British man-of-war," said Owen.

"Not quite so certain of that," observed the captain; "she may have run in hoping to pick up a few merchant craft and coasters without much trouble, and may have ascertained from other prizes she has taken that there are no men-of-war on the coast. For my part, I would rather be safe up the harbour than have to speak her."

The captain and Owen agreed that at all events it would be unnecessary to keep Lieutenant Vinoy shut up in his cabin. "As he has behaved like a gentleman," said the captain, "go and tell him, Owen, that if he will give his word of honour not to interfere with the other prisoners, I beg that he will come on deck, should he feel so disposed; and that I regret having been under the necessity of confining him to his cabin for so many hours—but, Owen, keep an eye on him, notwithstanding; it may be as well not to trust him too much, and if he were to release that desperate fellow Busson, the two together might play us some trick we shouldn't like."

"No fear of that, sir," answered Owen, glad to show the French lieutenant an act of courtesy, "but I'll keep my eyes about me."

He immediately went below and gave Monsieur Vinoy the captain's message.

"Certainly," answered the lieutenant; "I willingly accept the conditions. I have nothing to complain of—it was the fortune of war; you acted towards me as, under the same circumstances, I should have behaved to you. I will gladly come on deck."

Saying this, he preceded Owen up the companion-ladder, making a polite bow to Norah, who had just before joined her father, and was looking out eagerly towards the land. In a short time the ship could be clearly discerned from the deck. The squareness of her yards and the cut of her canvas made it evident that she was not a merchant vessel; but whether an English or French man-of-war, or a privateer, it was difficult at that distance to determine. She was making good way with the tide, which was then about half flood, running to the eastward; as this was almost across the course of the Ouzel Galley, it was rather against than in favour of the latter, whereas it added greatly to the rapid progress of the stranger. Under ordinary circumstances probably neither the captain nor Owen could have had much doubt about the character of the vessel in sight; but having so narrowly escaped the loss of the ship, they both felt more than usually anxious. Every stitch of canvas the Ouzel Galley could carry was set on her, the sails being wetted that they might the better hold the wind. The captain kept his glass constantly turned towards the approaching ship. When first seen, she was about twelve miles off, while the Ouzel Galley was supposed to be about eight miles from the Hook Tower. At the rate she was going it would take her upwards of an hour to get off it; whereas, should the wind hold, the stranger, with the advantage of the tide, would get her within range of her guns before that time. No flag had as yet been seen flying from her peak; but even should she show British colours it would be no proof that she was not an enemy, as she would be certain to hoist them for the sake of deceiving any merchant vessels she might meet with.

"I very much fear that she is a privateer," observed Owen, after carefully examining the stranger through his glass; "still the wind may fall light and prevent her reaching us—or, better still, shift to the eastward and throw her to leeward, and we may then soon run up the harbour, and got under shelter of Duncannon Fort before she can reach us."

Lieutenant Vinoy had been eagerly gazing at the stranger—a look of perplexity appeared in his face.

"What do you think of yonder ship?" asked Owen.

"I will not disguise my belief from you that she is the Coquille," answered the lieutenant. "I know her too well to be mistaken, even at this distance; but remain tranquil—should she recapture your vessel, of which I entertain, I confess, very little doubt, Captain Thurot will treat you with the same courtesy he did before, notwithstanding what has occurred. I am the person he will chiefly blame; and I must beg you to inform him how long I had been on watch and how fatigued I was when I retired to my cabin. Morbleu! to tell you the truth, I am as anxious as you can be to keep out of his way, but don't tell him that I said so."

"You may rest assured that we will do our best to avoid an encounter," answered the captain, "and, should we be recaptured, that we will say all that we can in your favour; but I trust that we shall escape—it would be cruel to be caught after all."

The wind was becoming lighter and lighter, and thus their anxiety was prolonged. Still the Coquille—for that such she was very little doubt existed—kept creeping up. The sea became much calmer.

"I will send a boat away with Norah and Gerald; it were better to save her from the annoyance to which she would be exposed should we again fall into the Frenchmen's hands," said Captain Tracy. "I should wish to let you go too, Owen; suffering from your wound, you are but ill able to stand the confinement of a French prison."

"I am grateful to you, captain; and thankfully would I escort your daughter, but she will be safe with her brother, and I cannot bring myself to desert the ship," answered Owen.

"That is like you, Owen," replied the captain; "perhaps I might have said the same were I in your place. It is my principle that every officer should stick to his ship as long as a plank holds together; but we shall have hands enough to take her in, should yonder stranger prove not to be the Coquille, but a friend—or should we be recaptured, the fewer people there are on board, the fewer will there be to suffer. I have therefore made up my mind that you shall go. I will send Dan Connor or Pompey, and Tim and Gerald can pull an oar and you can steer; you'll not have more than ten or twelve miles to row before you can get fresh hands, either at Duncannon Fort or at Passage, to take you up to Waterford. See, we are scarcely making three knots an hour; the boat can pull nearly twice as fast as that, and you will be able to keep well ahead of the enemy. Come, I wanted to see what you would say, but I have resolved you should go; so order the boat to be got ready, and the sooner you are off the better."

Owen was, of course, willing enough to go for the sake of Norah; he had no choice but to obey his commander.

"Norah," said the captain, turning to his daughter, to whom the French officer was endeavouring to make himself agreeable, and who had not heard the conversation between her father and the mate, "go and get your traps together, my girl; I am going to send you and Gerald with the mate on shore, and I hope that we shall be soon after you."

Norah was too well accustomed to obey her father to question the command, and immediately went below.

"Gerald!" shouted the captain to his son, who had some time before come down from the mast-head, "go and help your sister; you must be smart about it—the boat will be in the water in less than five minutes."

In a short time Dan and Tim, who had been sent into the cabin, appeared with Norah's trunks. She quickly followed. Having learned from Gerald the reason of her being sent on shore, she addressed her father. "Oh, father, I must not, I ought not to leave you," she exclaimed; "you think that the Ouzel Galley will after all be recaptured, and you will be carried off to France, and perhaps ill-treated by those men from whom you have retaken the ship, while I shall be left."

"Far better that it should be so than that we should both be made prisoners and ill-treated," replied the captain; "so be, as you always have been, an obedient girl—and now, my child, may Heaven bless and protect you!" and the captain, giving his daughter an affectionate kiss, led her to the gangway. The boat was already alongside, and Owen in her ready to help Norah down. She was soon seated in the boat; Gerald followed her. Just then the captain took another glance at the stranger, which was about three miles off; as he did so, the French flag was seen to fly out at her peak. At the same moment the sails of the Ouzel Galley gave a loud flap; the captain looked round.

"Praise Heaven! here comes the breeze from the eastward," he exclaimed. "Hold fast with the boat; come on deck again, Norah—we'll not part with you yet;" and, leaning down, he took her arm as she quickly climbed up the side. The rest of the party followed; and to save time the boat was dropped astern. All hands were busily engaged in bracing up the yards. The Ouzel Galley was now well to windward; the French ship tacked, but was still able to steer a course which would bring her within gunshot. The two vessels stood on; the Ouzel Galley was rapidly approaching the land, while the Coquille was getting further from it. Another tack would, however, place her astern, and it would then be a question whether she could overtake the Ouzel Galley before the latter could run up the harbour. Much would depend upon the way the wind blew when she got inside; it might come down the harbour, and in that case the Frenchman might overtake her before she could get up to Credda Head, within which it was not likely even Thurot himself would venture. The breeze held firm; the captain looked over the side.

"The good ship seems to know her danger, and is slipping along famously," he observed to Owen. "We shall be up to Waterford Quay before nightfall, I hope; we have still a good part of the flood, and when Captain Thurot finds that there is no chance of taking us, he'll give up the chase."

"He'll not do so till the last moment, captain," observed Lieutenant Vinoy. "There is no man like him; and should the wind fail us when we are inside the harbour, he will, or I am much mistaken, send in the boats to cut your vessel out."

"We'll hope, then, that the wind will not fail us," answered the captain—and he much doubted whether the Frenchman would venture on so bold an act. "If your friends come, we'll give them a warm reception, and we shall be under the necessity of shutting you up in your cabin again."

"I shall be ready to submit to your orders," said the lieutenant, shrugging his shoulders.

Poor Norah naturally felt very anxious, even though Owen endeavoured to reassure her by pointing out the position of the French ship, which could not tack with advantage till a considerable way astern. The breeze was every moment freshening, and the tall lighthouse on the east side of Waterford harbour became more and more distinct.

"No fear now," cried Gerald at length, as the very beach on it stood, with the water rippling on it, could be clearly discerned, and the harbour up to Duncannon Fort opened out to view. The Ouzel Galley was just abreast of Hook Tower when the French ship was seen to tack and boldly to stand after her.

"That looks as if the lieutenant were right in his notion; and should we get becalmed inside, or find the wind drawing down the harbour, Thurot will send in his boats after us," observed Owen to the captain.

"I have no fear of being becalmed till we get inside of Credda Head, and still less of the wind, as it is outside, drawing down the harbour," answered the captain. "Should the boats get up with us, we must try and beat them off; we were not afraid of the ship herself, and those Frenchmen, though brave enough, are not like our own fellows in cutting-out affairs. See to the guns, however, and get ammunition up on deck, for, should they come, we mayn't have much time to spare."

The Ouzel Galley stood on in mid-channel; the well-known landmarks, church steeples, country-seats, and castles on either side were recognised; Credda Head, a long, high point at the entrance of the harbour, was neared, when Duncannon Fort came into view. Still the daring privateer followed as if her bold captain did not yet despair of overtaking the chase. The wind, as the captain had hoped it would do, held fair, blowing over the low land on the east side of the harbour; once up with Duncannon Fort the Ouzel Galley would be safe, both from the privateer herself and from an attack by her boats. At length Credda Head was rounded.

"Hurrah!" cried Gerald, who, not having to attend to the navigation of the ship, was watching the privateer, "she's afraid of standing on further—she's about; but, hillo!—she has hoisted English colours."

"No proof that she is not French, though," answered the captain; "it is simply to deceive the people on shore."

"At all events, she's standing out of the harbour again, and won't do us any mischief," cried Gerald.

"Thank Heaven!" exclaimed the captain, "we're safe at last." And the long breath he drew clearly showed how anxious he had been.

"A boat coming off from under the Head!" sang out Dan from forward. The topsail sheets were let fly, the courses trailed up to allow the boat to come alongside, and a river pilot stopped on deck.

"Welcome back to Old Ireland!" he exclaimed, as he shook the captain's hand. "Shure, it's a pleasure to see the Ouzel Galley again, for it's long we've been looking for her, and many began to say that she was lost, or taken by the French."

"We very nearly were so, but we managed to take some of these same gentlemen instead," answered the captain with a laugh, to which he could now give vent; "and only just now we had a narrow squeak for it. What do you think of yonder ship, Pat?"

"Of course, she's an English man-of-war," answered the pilot; "we've been expecting one in here for some days past, and we thought that craft was her. To say the truth, we were going on board her; for, shure, the Ouzel Galley knows her way up to George's Quay by herself."

"Had you done so, Pat, you'd have been carried off, and made to serve as pilot on board a French ship till the end of the war," answered Captain Tracy.

"Maybe you're right, captain; but see, she carries the English flag, and no Frenchman would have the impudence to come into our harbour," said the pilot.

"That gentleman says she is French, and he ought to know, for he belonged to her," observed the captain, pointing to Lieutenant Vinoy. Pat Monaghan, however, was not convinced; though, as the stranger was rapidly running out of the harbour again, he had no opportunity of ascertaining for himself. Under Pat's pilotage the Ouzel Galley stood on up the harbour, which now narrowed considerably. At length she rounded Cheek Point, when with a fair wind she ran up the Suir, on the south bank of which Waterford is situated. It was late in the evening when at last she dropped her anchor off George's Quay. Before her canvas was furled, Mr Ferris, the senior partner of her owners, Ferris, Twigg, and Cash, came on board, and warmly congratulated the captain on his safe return. On hearing of the gallant way in which possession of the Ouzel Galley had been regained, Mr Ferris invited Norah and Gerald to his house.

"My daughter Ellen will be delighted to see her old schoolfellow, Miss Tracy, who was a great favourite of hers," he said; "and many of my friends will be glad to see your son, who from your account was the principal actor in your adventure."

"I must not praise Gerald too much," said Captain Tracy, after he had accepted the invitation; "my mate, Owen Massey, was the chief concoctor of the plot, and had I not a high opinion of his judgment and courage, I should not have ventured to give my consent to it."

Before leaving the ship, Captain Tracy was anxious to be relieved of his prisoners. Mr Ferris hurried back to the chief magistrate of the town, who at once sent down a guard to march them off to the jail. The lieutenant, however, on being brought before him, was more courteously treated, and on giving his parole not to leave the town or to communicate with the enemy, he was allowed to be at large. As soon as he was set at liberty he received an invitation from Mr Ferris to take up his abode at his house in King Street.

Thankful indeed was Owen Massey when, the prisoners having been carried off, he was able to give up charge of the ship and go on shore. He had a home to go to, though an humble one, with his mother, who resided in a pretty little cottage in the outskirts of the town. She had seen better days, for both she and her husband were of ancient lineage; but he had been engaged in a long-protracted lawsuit, which he ultimately lost, and died, leaving her very limited means with which to support herself and their only child Owen. Captain Tracy, an old friend, offered to take Owen to sea; and the lad was delighted with the thoughts of the life in prospect. His mother had not only given him the best education the place afforded, but had sent him to Trinity College, Dublin, to complete his education. Here his means, however, did not allow him to remain long; but, being clever and diligent, he was better prepared than most lads were at that time for his future calling. He knew nothing about the Royal Navy, or he would certainly have desired to enter it, which he might easily have done had he possessed any friend able to get him placed on the deck of a man-of-war. He had, like other youths, read accounts of the voyages of the old explorers, of the adventures of the buccaneers, and other works; he was scarcely aware of the difference which then existed between the officers of the Royal Navy and merchant service. Captain Tracy, though anxious to promote his interests, did not think fit to enlighten him, as he fully believed that during the "piping times of peace" he would be far more likely to succeed in the latter than in the former service; and belonging to it himself, he rightly looked upon it as an honourable one.

Mrs Massey was struck by her son's pale face and languid manner. The voyage over, the effects of his severe wound, and the long-continued anxiety he had suffered, at once told on him. She immediately sent for the best surgeon in the place. Dr Roach quickly arrived; he had a great respect for Widow Massey, and had known Owen, from his boyhood. On examining his wound he put on a grave face.

"It surprises me, my dear boy, that you could have managed to move about with so fearful a laceration," he said; "it has been well and carefully dressed, I will allow, or you would not have been alive at this moment. Many a poor fellow has died from a less hurt than this. However, you will do well now, if you follow my directions; but you must lie by and get your mother to nurse you. Come, turn into bed at once; you are not fit to be about—you'll get well the sooner."

Owen expostulated; he had been on his legs for several days, and why should he now lie by? he asked.

"For the very reason that you have done more than you have strength for," answered the doctor.

"But the duty of the ship must be attended to, and I am anxious to see my captain," urged Owen.

"And your captain's daughter, eh, my young friend—is it not so?" said Dr Roach. "Well, I will let her know your wishes; I have been called in to attend on Captain Tracy, who requires some doctoring, though not as much as you do—and as to the ship, there are others whose duty it is to look after her; it was yours to bring her safely into port, and you did that in a very gallant way, I hear. Now, Mrs Massey, I lay my commands on your son to remain quietly in bed till I tell him to get up; if he disobeys me, we shall be having a stiff arm or something worse, so he is warned. I will come and see him regularly, and you'll give him the medicines as I direct;" and Dr Roach, kindly shaking the widow's hand, walked away towards the town, with his gold-headed cane pressed to his lips—a sure sign that he was lost in thought.

Captain Tracy was, as the doctor had said, really ill; he was even worse than it was at first supposed, and required all Norah's attention. Though much wishing to see Owen and Mrs Massey, she could not venture to leave him. Gerald, however, willingly undertook to pay a visit to the mate, who not being positively prohibited from seeing visitors, Gerald was admitted. Owen more clearly understood the message which Norah had sent than Gerald did himself. Though longing to see her, he acknowledged that it was her duty to remain with her father.

"However, Owen, you need not be in a hurry to get well," said Gerald, "for the Ouzel Galley won't be fit for sea again for many months; she suffered so much during her last voyage, and got so knocked about by the enemy's shot, that she is to undergo a thorough repair. My father, not wishing me to be idle, talks of sending me to sea in some other craft— if I have my choice, I would go on board a man-of-war, where I might have plenty of opportunities of fighting the enemies of our country. I don't like the idea of sailing in a ship which may be attacked and captured by any French privateer we might fall in with."

"I am sorry to hear you say that, Gerald, for I had hoped to have you with me when I next go afloat;" answered Owen. "To my mind, the merchant service is as honourable as that of the Royal Navy, if a man does his duty. I am very sure that God did not design men to be fighting animals; it was Satan, and no one else, who put it into their heads that it is a fine and noble thing to attack and kill each other."

"Why, Owen, I always thought you a brave fellow, and as fond of fighting as any man," exclaimed Gerald.

"I grant you that I am ready to fight in defence of the life and liberty of my shipmates and the property committed to my charge, because I can see that to be my duty," answered Owen. "The merchant service affords ample opportunity for the exercise of a man's courage and determination. Though I respect the officers and men of the Royal Navy, who are engaged in fighting for their king and country, I have a very different opinion of privateersmen, who go forth to plunder the harmless merchantmen of other nations merely for the sake of enriching themselves. It may be necessary to destroy the commerce of the enemy for the purpose of crippling their means of offence; but privateersmen seldom trouble their heads about that—they are incited by the instinct of pirates, and plunder is their sole object. Whatever you do, let me urge you, Gerald, never to turn privateersman; if you were to consult your father, he would, I know, say as I do, for we have often spoken about the matter."

"I dare say you are right, Owen," answered Gerald. "If the Ouzel Galley were going at once to sea I would gladly sail in her. The owners, as I heard from my father, intend to give the command of her to you."

"I am thankful to him, and very happy to hear it," said Owen; "and I hope, Gerald, that if you go afloat in the mean time, which it is very right you should do, that you will be back soon enough to join me. Tell your father that I will try to get well as fast as I can, that I may attend to fitting out the Ouzel Galley."

Gerald did not give a very favourable report of Owen Massey; he described him as looking pale and ill, and dreadfully out of spirits, quite unlike himself. It made poor Norah exceedingly anxious; she had bestowed on him her heart's best affections, with the full sanction of her father, who highly esteemed him.

To give Gerald employment till arrangements could be made for his going to sea, he was sent on board the Ouzel Galley, to assist in landing her stores and unrigging her, previous to her being hauled up on the slip to be repaired.

A few days on shore had so far restored Captain Tracy's health that Norah was able to pay her promised visit to Mrs Massey, and Ellen Ferris offered to accompany her. They set off together. Ellen was nearly a year older than Norah; both were remarkable for their beauty. Ellen was somewhat taller and slighter than her friend, with dark brown hair and clear complexion, and fine, sparkling eyes; many persons would have admired her the most. Having mixed in good society in Dublin, she had more the manners of the world than Norah, though in reality equally artless and unsophisticated; while she was able to take her part in conversation on any of the topics of the day, of which, naturally, Norah knew but little. She was amiable, lively, and right-principled, and altogether allowed to be a very charming girl, the pride of her father, who had no other child. She was therefore, of course, looked upon as an heiress; she did not, however, give herself any airs, but was thoroughly unaffected, her aim simply being properly to do the honours of her father's house. Their chief residence was in Dublin, but she was always his companion when he came to his house at Waterford. It was a pleasant place, a rus in urbe, as the worthy merchant delighted to call it. The house itself, a large, well-built mansion, with nothing remarkable about it, faced the street. On the other side was an extensive piece of ground. Immediately behind the house it was level, and laid out with a lawn and flower-beds. Beyond this a hill rose to a considerable height, the hillside being cut into slopes and terrace-walks, with an artificial canal fed by an ever-flowing stream at the bottom of it. In accordance with the taste of the day, these terraces were ornamented with statues; and at one end was a fine arch, part of the ruin of an ancient Gothic chapel. At the other end was an aviary filled with numerous feathered songsters, several species of gay plumage. Further round the hill was an enclosure stocked with various kinds of deer, and a white doe, an especial favourite of the fair mistress of the garden. Besides the canal, at the foot of the hill were two large reservoirs for the purpose of supplying it with water, containing carp and tench and other fish; and at the summit of the hill stood an obelisk to the memory of King William, whom the owner held in especial reverence. The views from the hill of the city on one side, and of the rough rocks and wild uncultivated hills on the opposite side, of the river, the shipping at anchor, with vessels and boats decked with gay flags constantly moving up and down the stream, were picturesque and attractive, and afforded an object of interest to the numerous guests whom the hospitable owner was wont to entertain at his house. The place was laid out more according to Dutch than English taste, and of course was especially admired by the natives of Holland, among whom the firm of Ferris, Twigg, and Cash had extensive connections, as well as with the West Indies, to which part of the world they chiefly traded. The Ouzel Galley was only one of the numerous vessels owned by the firm, and all being strongly built, well found, and well officered, with sufficient crews, they made successful voyages. Mr Ferris himself was a dignified, good-looking, and somewhat portly gentleman, frank and hearty in his manners, fond of a good joke and a good story, and highly respected for his upright and liberal conduct.

Ellen, of course, had many admirers, but as yet it was generally believed that she had favoured no one. She was, in truth, the light of her father's home, and he had no wish to part with her. She and Norah set off one bright afternoon on their walk to Widow Massey's cottage. Norah had confided to Ellen her engagement to Owen.

"I am young, and so is he, and we are to wait till he has made two or three more voyages, while I am to keep house for my father, who does not intend again to go to sea," she remarked. "He inherited some property lately, which prevents the necessity of his doing so, and though I enjoyed the voyage to the West Indies, and the beautiful scenery and strange sights I saw there, I am very glad to have him remain at home, especially since the war has broken out, and there is now the risk of capture by an enemy, such as we so narrowly escaped from. I wish, indeed, that Owen could give up the sea, but he is very fond of it, and promises me not to run into more danger than can be helped; and as it is the lot of so many poor women to have those they love at sea, I must not complain."

Ellen, sighed. Norah looked up with an inquiring glance at her countenance, but Ellen only observed, "It must be borne with patience; and then, you know, you can pray for those you love, and that is a great comfort."

Mrs Massey, who had from her front windows seen her visitors approaching, opened the door to admit them. She welcomed Norah with an affectionate embrace, putting back her hair to kiss her fair brow.

"I beg your pardon, Miss Ferris," she said, "for neglecting you; but you will excuse me—it is so long since I have seen this dear girl, and I so rejoice to have her back in safety. My son Owen, the doctor says, owes his life to the careful way she dressed his wounds." She continued, after her guests were seated, "He will be wishing to come down and see you, Norah, and I cannot forbid him, though he is not fit to present himself before Miss Ferris."

"Do not let me prevent Mr Massey from coming down," said Ellen, rising, and giving a smile to Norah; "I will go out and take a look at your pretty garden, Mrs Massey, and you shall show me the flowers."

Norah felt grateful for the tact of her friend, and the widow having gone upstairs to tell Owen that he need not fear the meeting with a stranger, she returned and took Ellen into her garden, which contained a shrubbery, a lawn and flower-beds, and an arbour with a view of the river and shipping in the distance, and invited them to sit down.

"This is a very pretty spot, Mrs Massey," said Ellen. "Now you have got your son back, you must be perfectly happy."

"I ought to be so, my dear young lady, and am indeed thankful to have him with me," answered the widow; "but recollections of the past will intrude. I cannot help thinking how different would have been his lot had he not been unjustly deprived of his inheritance; and little good has it done those who got it. Wealth gained by fraud or violence never benefits the possessors."

The widow, who spent much of her time in solitude, was inclined to talk when she found a willing listener. Ellen's looks betokened sympathy, for she was aware of the wrongs the Massey family had endured.

"The O'Harralls were ever a lawless race," continued Mrs Massey; "they were leaders among the Rapparees in Cromwell's and James's times, and lived by robbing their countrymen and neighbours, till William of Orange established a firm government. They then exercised their cunning by means of the law, and, supported by the Evil One, their frauds were successful. Scarcely, however, had they gained possession of Tramore Castle and its broad lands than they took to their wicked courses. Denis O'Harrall set all the laws of God and man at defiance; yet, as he kept open house and entertained guests of high and low degree, he was universally popular till he had been brought to the verge of ruin. Such a father could not fail to bring up his sons ill: his eldest son was as extravagant and reckless as himself. Brian, his second, had more talent than his brother. Having been sent to college in Dublin, he at first gave some promise of turning out well. Owen was at that time acquainted with him, and, harbouring no ill-feeling, was ready to be on friendly terms; but Brian soon showed the cloven foot, and although he remained for some time, he was at length dismissed with ignominy. Living near the sea, he had been accustomed from his earliest days to go out with the fishermen, and to make short trips to Drogheda, Dungarvon, Youghal, and occasionally even further. After his return home, having no means of indulging in the bad courses to which he was addicted, he, it was said, joined a band of smugglers, who under his leadership became the most daring and successful of all the gangs of desperate men who carry on their illicit trade across the English Channel. Now they appeared in one part of the coast, now in another; so that, although a constant watch was kept for them, owing to the vigilance of their agents for several years, they never failed to escape the king's cruisers. From long impunity becoming less cautious, a valuable cargo in which he had ventured all his property was captured, with himself and several of his companions, by a king's ship. They were brought into Waterford, and were imprisoned in Reginald's Tower, on the quay. During the night, however, they rose on the guard, whom they killed, to prevent alarm being given, and stealing a boat made their way down the river. In the harbour they found a Dutch ship, the Saint Peter, of Hamburg, which had put in from stress of weather. As she was on the point of sailing, they pretended that they had come down on purpose to take a passage on board her to Dantzic, for which port she was bound. The captain, believing their story, willingly received them, as they offered to pay a considerable sum for their passage-money. Scarcely, however, had they got out of sight of land than they set upon the captain and his officers and killed them all, and so overawed the men that no one dared to offer the slightest resistance. By threats and promises they induced the greater number to join them, and those who would not do so were thrown overboard. One, however, a good swimmer, recovering from the blows which had apparently killed him, got hold of a grating and was picked up the next morning. Being carried into Cork harbour, he gave information of what had occurred, and the authorities in all places along the coast were informed that they might seize the pirates should they appear. Their intention was to proceed up the British Channel, to plunder any vessel they could fall in with, and afterwards, when they had completed their cargo, to sell it and the ship. A violent north-easterly gale, however, drove them far away to the westward, and it was not till many days were over that they were again able to stand to the eastward. They had, as it happened, from not taking proper observations, got out of their reckoning; while steering, as they thought, up the Channel, they found themselves close in with the Irish coast. By this time being short of water and provisions, they ran into Dunmanus Bay, supposing that, no one suspecting their character, they might remain as long as was necessary to repair damages and to procure whatever they wanted. Among the crew was a young black, whose life had been spared under the idea that he was too stupid and ignorant to think of betraying them. As he appeared to be perfectly contented on board, he was allowed to be at liberty; but he was in reality a remarkably sharp lad, and only waited his opportunity to get on shore. One night, after the ship had been there two or three days, he managed to slip overboard, and, getting safely to land, made his way to Dunbeacon Castle, at the head of the harbour. He here described what had occurred, and it was at once guessed that the vessel in the bay was the one for which the authorities had been directed to be on the watch. A despatch was immediately sent off to Bantry; before the morning a party of soldiers arrived, and, procuring boats, boarded the ship and captured all found in her. The ringleader, however, Brian O'Harrall, was on shore, and though strict search was made for him he was nowhere to be discovered. He had friends in the neighbourhood, and it was only sufficient for them to know that the officers of justice were after him to induce them to assist in his escape. My son happened to be in Bantry at the time, just before he went to sea; to save the boy, who was carried there, from the vengeance of O'Harrall, he took him back to Waterford, and Captain Tracy received him on board the Ouzel Galley. It was from Pompey I heard all the particulars I have narrated. The five other men on board the Saint Peter were tried and condemned to death, and after their execution their heads were set up at Waterford, Youghal, Cork, Kinsale, and Blantyre. The ship and cargo being restored to the owners, O'Harrall was outlawed, and a price set on his head; but though, from time to time, he was heard of in connection with various desperate acts, he never failed to escape the grasp of justice. It was supposed that he at length joined a band of smugglers, though he has not for a year or more been heard of. He has, I should have said, a younger brother remarkably like him in character and appearance, who greatly assisted in his escape. This brother, Michael, made his appearance now in one part of the country, now in another, letting it be supposed that he was Brian; thus distracting the attention of those in search of the culprit. He is himself, from what I have heard, fully as determined a ruffian as Brian, and has long followed the same lawless pursuits."

"What a fearful character!" exclaimed Ellen, shuddering; "and yet you say that Brian was at one time at college, mixing with young men of education and refinement."

"Yes, and, with the talents and advantages he possessed, might have gained an honourable position in the county," replied Mrs Massey; "for, his elder brother having no children, he would probably have succeeded to the estate. I should have been more reconciled to the loss of Tramore had it been in possession of honourable people, who would have attended to the property and watched over the interests of the tenantry; and it is sad to see the place going to ruin, and the unfortunate people who might look up to the owner for assistance becoming every day more degraded and wretched."

"But perhaps, Mrs Massey, if the present owner should die, and as the wretched men you have been describing cannot succeed, you, or rather your son, may recover the property," observed Ellen.

"I fear not," answered the widow, with a sigh. "I do not understand legal matters, but the youngest brother might, I fancy, succeed in spite of his crimes, and without ample pecuniary means I believe that it would be impossible to regain the estate. I have long been reconciled to my lot, though I should be thankful could Owen avoid the necessity of going to sea, and enjoy a sufficient fortune to enable him to marry our dear Norah in the course of a year or two."

"Now you have told me the particulars of this strange history, I shall not despair of success," said Ellen. "The want of money must, at all events, not be a hindrance; there are, I am sure, those who would be ready to assist your son."

Ellen sat on, readily listening to all the widow's conversation; for, heartily sympathising with Norah, she was in no hurry to break in upon her and Owen's tete-a-tete. However, the length of the shadows stretching across the lawn at last warned her that the evening was approaching, and she remembered that it would be disagreeable, if not dangerous, to be compelled to walk home in the dark. Norah, however, had not noted how time had gone by; but when she looked out of the window and saw that the sun was on the point of setting, she expressed her readiness to return home without delay. Ellen, wishing Mr Massey good-bye, and hoping that he would soon recover, hurried to the door, leaving Norah, who was putting on her cloak and hat, to follow and pay her parting adieux in the way she might think proper. Had Owen not been absolutely forbidden, in spite of his weakness he would have accompanied them—though Ellen laughed at the idea of there being any cause for apprehending danger during the short walk into the town.



Just after the young ladies had set off on their walk to visit Mrs Massey, a Dungarvon hooker arrived at the quay, and her skipper brought the intelligence that a sloop of war had anchored that morning in the mouth of the harbour. She carried eighteen guns, for he had counted nine on a side; having boarded her to dispose of some of his fish, he was sure that he could not be mistaken. When he was more than half-way up the river, he added, the wind being light, a gig had passed him; but though he looked everywhere, he had not again seen her. He believed that she belonged to the sloop, as an officer was seated in the stern, and she had the appearance of a man-of-war's boat; but of that he could not be certain.

Mr Ferris had invited a party to dinner, and as he always wished to pay attention to naval officers, he immediately despatched a letter by a fast rowing-boat, requesting the company of the commander and officers of the sloop at the intended banquet. Mr Ferris received a letter in reply, signed "Jean Dupin, commander of the Orestes, private ship of war," observing that Mr Ferris had been misinformed as to the character of the vessel he had the honour to command, she not being a king's ship, but belonging to Jersey, and the property of a firm with which he was probably well acquainted, Messrs. Saint Croix and Cie; and he was unwilling to sail under false colours—but that if Mr Ferris still desired his company, he and his officers would have infinite pleasure in availing themselves of his hospitable invitation. Mr Ferris immediately sent back the boat, assuring Captain Dupin that it would afford him the greatest possible satisfaction to receive him, and any of his lieutenants and junior officers who might be able to accompany him.

"Ellen will be disappointed when she finds that the ship is not a man-of-war," he said to himself. "She takes much interest in the navy; she saw a good specimen of the naval officer in that gentlemanly and pleasing young lieutenant, Norman Foley, who was occasionally at our house in Dublin when his ship lay off Kingstown, and she has consequently an idea that all naval officers are like him. However, many of the Jersey privateers are commanded and officered by gentlemen of good family in the island, and I doubt not that Captain Dupin will prove an agreeable addition to our party. I wish that Captain Tracy were well enough to be present; he and Captain Dupin might find that they were old acquaintances, and would, at all events, have many subjects in common to talk about."

We must now return to Norah and Ellen. They hastened their steps, for the sun had set, and darkness was stealing over the landscape, and unless they hurried on they would scarcely have light sufficient to see their way through the narrow and dimly illuminated street, and might perhaps meet with drunken men who would cause them annoyance.

"I am pretty well known here, so that it is not likely any one will insult us; but it would be unpleasant to encounter strangers," said Ellen. "I am very sorry, Norah, for it was my fault remaining so long listening to Mrs Massey's dreadful accounts of the O'Harrall family. I was much interested, and I have taken it into my head that Mr Massey may be able to regain his ancestral property. You know I am somewhat romantic, and I should be so delighted to see you mistress of Tramore Castle."

"I am afraid there is very little hope of that," said Norah; "nor am I ambitious, but shall be content to enjoy with my dear Owen the limited fortune we shall be able to muster."

They had just reached the most secluded part of the road, when they heard footsteps behind them; and Norah, looking round, saw a man following, his figure shrouded in a Spanish cloak, a broad-brimmed hat ornamented with a feather drawn down over his brow, partly concealing his countenance. The end of a scabbard which appeared beneath his cloak showed that he was a gentleman, while his firm though hurried step gave proof of what was of still more consequence, that he was perfectly sober. As he passed them he lifted his hat, an act which served rather to conceal further than to show his features. After going on a short distance he stopped; then, facing about, walked rapidly towards them.

"Miss Tracy," he exclaimed, "I have been impelled by an irresistible power to endeavour to see you, and I am more fortunate than I expected. Will your fair friend favour me by going on a few paces before us, while I speak what I wish to reach no other ear but yours?"

"Who is this gentleman?" exclaimed Ellen. "Is it your wish that I should do as he requests?"

"Oh no, no! do not leave me on any account," whispered Norah, tightly grasping Ellen's arm. "Surely you must be under a mistake, sir, and take me for some one else," she continued, turning to the stranger.

"Miss Tracy, your features, your voice, your figure, are all too indelibly impressed upon my mind," he replied. "Do not you remember the last words I spoke to you ere we parted?"

Norah, on hearing this, was still more convinced than at first that the stranger was under a mistake. And yet the stranger had addressed her by name! Could he be out of his senses?

"Know you not that you have inspired the deepest and most devoted affection, which death alone can destroy?" he continued. "To meet you again I have gone through difficulties and dangers which would otherwise have appeared insuperable; and can you be so cold-hearted as to regard with indifference a love so ardent and true?"

His voice as he spoke had more of a tone of anger than affection in it.

"I must not listen to such language as this," answered Norah, the idea of who the person was now flashing across her mind; "I beg that you will not stop my friend and me, as we are anxious to return home without delay."

"I must and will be heard," exclaimed the stranger, attempting to grasp Norah's hand. "Come with me; I offer you a heart which loves you to desperation, and mine you must be. I have the means of enforcing my request—if your friend interferes, she must take the consequences, and will be compelled to accompany you."

"You are mad, sir, to suppose for a moment that I would consent to such a proposal; let me and my friend go, I entreat you."

"For your refusal I was prepared," exclaimed the stranger, "but it will not avail you;" and putting a silver whistle to his mouth, he blew it shrilly. It was answered from a distance, and Ellen, looking in the direction from which the sound came, saw two mounted men, each with a led horse, approaching. Ellen now gave way to her fears, and uttered loud shrieks for help. Norah felt all her energies paralysed by the threatened act of violence, and could only cling to Ellen's arm and murmur, "Don't leave me! don't leave me!"

A wall rather too high to be leaped over intervened between them and the horsemen. They had to make a circuit to reach a gate which opened into the road before they gained it. The rattle of wheels was heard, and loud shouts of laughter between snatches of song. Just then Ellen saw a line of cars, the horses at full speed, coming along the road; the stranger saw them too, and seizing Norah round the waist, endeavoured to drag her to the wall; but Ellen and she clung frantically to each other, Ellen again and again shrieking loudly for help. On came the cars; some men in seamen's dresses sprang from the first, one of them shouting out, "Shure, it's the young mistress! Be alive, and dale smartly with the outrageous thief of the world who's dared to lay hands on her;" and, joined by a dozen or more men from the other cars, armed with stout shillelaghs, Dan Connor dashed forward at headlong speed. The stranger glanced round to see how far off their horses still were from him, and finding that they had not yet passed through the gate, and that all hope of carrying off Norah must be abandoned, vaulted over the wall and ran towards them. His companions, seeing what had occurred, hurried up to his assistance. Just as the party of seamen had got close upon his heels, he threw himself upon one of the led horses and galloped off, followed by the shouts and execrations of the seamen, who were, fortunately for him, without firearms.

"Shure, Miss Norah, jewel, you're all safe now, and that mighty big blackguard, whoever he may be, will do you no harm," exclaimed Dan. "If you and the young lady will just mount on the car, we'll escort you safe into Waterford; and if he and a score of Rapparees like himself were to come back, we'd bate them all off before they could come near you."

"Let us get up on the car, as the sailor advises us," said Ellen; and she mounted and helped Norah up, when the seamen running on each side, they set off at a brisk pace, followed by the other cars.

"It's at the wake of poor Pat Casey we've been, Miss Norah. He niver was himself after the wound he got when we fought the privateer—and shure, we were coming home at daybreak; but somehow or other, what with the potheen, and the friends we met, and a scrimmage or two, we made a long morning of it; and bedad, good luck it was, or we wouldn't have come up in time to put that fellow to flight."

Ellen, who had somewhat recovered from her alarm, assured Dan how thankful she felt to him and his shipmates and friends for the service they had rendered Norah and herself.

"Service, Misthress Ferris! it was the greatest pleasure I've had since I was born, and I only wish I'd the same every day of my life. What would Mr Massey have been after doing if that thundering villain had got you and Miss Norah upon his horses and galloped off through the country wid ye!—but he'd betther not be showing his face again in these parts, whoever he is," answered Dan. "As soon as we've seen you both safe home, we'll go in chase of him, and it will be hard if we don't catch him, too."

Norah did not say whom she suspected the ruffian to be who had attempted the outrage; indeed, she was far too nervous to speak, and it was not till, escorted by Dan and his friends, they arrived safely at home, that she mentioned her suspicions to Ellen. She begged her to make as light as possible of the matter, for fear of agitating Captain Tracy in a way which might be injurious to him in his present state of health. Still, the circumstance could not be altogether concealed from him. Abduction was at that time too common in Ireland for what had occurred to create much surprise. The only difficulty was to ascertain who the man could be, though it was generally believed that his intention was to carry off Miss Ferris, who was known to be an heiress. At that time there actually existed in the neighbourhood an association known as the Abduction Club, all the members of which had sworn to assist each other in carrying off such young ladies as either of them fixed upon. By means of their spies, they made themselves acquainted with the fortunes of every marriageable girl and the domestic arrangements of the family. Sometimes, when she had not been claimed by any particular member, they drew lots to whom she should belong, and the rest were then bound to assist the fortunate winner. No class of society, from the highest to the opulent farmer or tradesman, was exempt from the depredations of the associates. They themselves were mostly the younger sons or relations of families of some standing, who, looking upon commerce as beneath them, with too little education to succeed in the learned professions, if they could not obtain a commission in the army, spent their lives in idleness, and were known as squireens. Generally being able to borrow good horses from their rich friends, they rode about the country habited in red waistcoats lined with narrow gold or silver lace or fur, tight leather breeches, and top-boots; making themselves conspicuous at fairs, markets, races, and assizes, and in other places where people congregated. They excelled in athletic sports, especially in the game of hurling, when they took the lead among the young men of the peasant class who engaged in it, and thus became identified with them, and could on all occasions rely on their support. Though the crime of abduction was punishable with death, as the girls who were thus carried off were in most instances immediately married, few were found willing to prosecute their husbands. The law was consequently almost inoperative, and the abominable practice up to this day had continued unchecked.

Mr Ferris was of course highly indignant. He at once took steps to discover the offender, though, as he had not succeeded in his attempt, there was little probability that he would be captured, or if so, punished. The annoyance, also, to which his daughter and her friend must in future be subjected, from being unable to venture outside the garden without a strong guard, was provoking in the extreme; still, the daring characters of the men who were known to be combined for the purpose rendered it unsafe for the young ladies to go abroad unless thus protected.

Dan and Pompey, with the other seamen of the Ouzel Galley, and several friends who joined them, as soon as they had left Norah and Ellen safe at home, set off in chase of the ruffians, armed with such weapons as they could hastily obtain, in addition to the shillelaghs they had before possessed. Following in the direction they had seen the horsemen going, they made their way over all impediments, inquiring of every one they met, and hoping by perseverance to overtake them. They learnt, however, after proceeding a considerable distance, that the men had separated, one going off with the led horses in the direction of the mountains to the westward, another turning southward towards Tramore Bay, while the third followed a road which would conduct him to Passage, near the mouth of the river, whence he could cross into Wexford. The parties accordingly divided, but had not gone far when they lost all trace of the fugitives, and as Dan observed, "They might as well be looking for a needle in a bottle of hay, as hope to find the spalpeen." Late at night they returned to Kingscourt House, the residence of Mr Ferris, to report the ill-success of their expedition.

"Bedad, your honour, we'll be after keeping a sharp look-out on the fellows, and if any one of them shows his ugly face in the neighbourhood, we'll be down upon him as quick as lightning," said Dan.

"But if you don't know the men—and from what I understand, you only saw their backs in the gloom—you will find a considerable difficulty in recognising them," observed Mr Ferris, "and may chance to lay hands on the wrong persons."

"Shure, your honour, we'll ask them if they're the right ones before we give them a taste of the shillelagh," answered Dan.

"At all events, Connor, I wish you, and a dozen stout fellows you may pick out, to act as a guard at my house, to protect my daughter and her friend, should any yet more daring attempt be made to carry them off," replied Mr Ferris.

"I'll do that same with all the pleasure in life," answered Dan, "though it may be a hard matter to keep our eyes open to-night, seeing we were waking Pat Casey till a late hour this morning, and then, after seeing him laid dacently under the turf, had to drink long life and success to his sperrit and a short stay in purgatory, where the praste told us he had gone—though, being a kind-hearted man, he'd do his best to pray him out of it."

"I have no fear of any fresh attempt being made to-night, so you may all sleep soundly in your beds," said Mr Ferris; "but I shall require you to-morrow, and for some time to come after that, while I remain at Waterford."

In those days the dinner-hour, even in the houses of the opulent, was at two o'clock, and some time before that two well-manned boats, from the stern of which floated the British ensign, reached the quay at Waterford. Only three officers, however, stepped on shore, the captain and two others, whom he introduced as his lieutenants to Mr Ferris, who went down to meet him. All were dressed in uniforms closely resembling that of the British navy, for such privateersmen were wont to wear. Captain Dupin, who spoke with a slight French accent, as most Jersey men did at that period, was a fair, good-looking young man, with a somewhat short though well-knit figure, his countenance betoking courage and determination. His first lieutenant, whom he introduced as Mr Macarthy, was a man of a very different mould. His well-bronzed features were concealed by a large beard and moustache, while a black patch over one eye, and another down his cheek, showing that he had suffered in the fight, did not add to the attractiveness of his appearance.

"As he is a countryman of yours, he was anxious to avail himself of your invitation, though scarcely recovered from wounds he received is our last action with a French ship, which we captured after a determined resistance," observed the captain. "He was shot through the mouth, which considerably impedes his speech; but he will be able notwithstanding to do justice to your good fare, as I have no doubt you will perceive."

Mr Macarthy shook hands with Mr Ferris, and expressed his satisfaction at finding himself once more on his native soil.

"It is many a long year since I left the old country, and from that time till I landed a few months ago in Jersey I have been knocking about in distant seas," said the lieutenant. "Although Ballyadare, in Sligo, is my native place, I have more than once in my younger days visited Waterford, and this is not the first time I have been on shore at your beautiful town. Faith, sir, it is a place to boast of; so fine a river, such magnificent quays, and that old tower I see there—I forget its name—where will you find the like?"

Mr Ferris, pleased with the compliment paid to his city, was ready to overlook the somewhat rough manner and exterior of his guest.

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