Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Afloat And Ashore by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 1 out of 10

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.2 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Team (www.pgdp.net)

AFLOAT AND ASHORE

A SEA TALE

BY

JAMES FENIMORE COOPER

"Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits."
_Two Gentlemen of Verona_

PREFACE.

The writer has published so much truth which the world has insisted
was fiction, and so much fiction which has been received as truth,
that, in the present instance, he is resolved to say nothing on the
subject. Each of his readers is at liberty to believe just as much, or
as little, of the matter here laid before him, or her, as may suit
his, or her notions, prejudices, knowledge of the world, or
ignorance. If anybody is disposed to swear he knows precisely where
Clawbonny is, that he was well acquainted with old Mr. Hardinge, nay,
has often heard him preach--let him make his affidavit, in
welcome. Should he get a little wide of the mark, it will not be the
first document of that nature, which has possessed the same weakness.

It is possible that certain captious persons may be disposed to
inquire into the _cui borio?_ of such a book. The answer is
this. Everything which can convey to the human mind distinct and
accurate impressions of events, social facts, professional
peculiarities, or past history, whether of the higher or more familiar
character, is of use. All that is necessary is, that the pictures
should be true to nature, if not absolutely drawn from living
sitters. The knowledge we gain by our looser reading, often becomes
serviceable in modes and manners little anticipated in the moments
when it is acquired.

Perhaps the greater portion of all our peculiar opinions have their
foundation in prejudices. These prejudices are produced in consequence
of its being out of the power of any one man to see, or know, every
thing. The most favoured mortal must receive far more than half of all
that he learns on his faith in others; and it may aid those who can
never be placed in positions to judge for themselves of certain phases
of men and things, to get pictures of the same, drawn in a way to give
them nearer views than they might otherwise obtain. This is the
greatest benefit of all light literature in general, it being possible
to render that which is purely fictitious even more useful than that
which is strictly true, by avoiding extravagancies, by pourtraying
with fidelity, and, as our friend Marble might say, by "generalizing"
with discretion.

This country has undergone many important changes since the
commencement of the present century. Some of these changes have been
for the better; others, we think out of all question, for the
worse. The last is a fact that can be known to the generation which is
coming into life, by report only, and these pages may possibly throw
some little light on both points, in representing things as they
were. The population of the republic is probably something more than
eighteen millions and a half to-day; in the year of our Lord one
thousand eight hundred, it was but a little more than five
millions. In 1800, the population of New-York was somewhat less than
six hundred thousand souls; to-day it is probably a little less than
two millions seven hundred thousand souls. In 1800, the town of
New-York had sixty thousand inhabitants, whereas, including Brooklyn
and Williamsburg, which then virtually had no existence, it must have
at this moment quite four hundred thousand. These are prodigious
numerical changes, that have produced changes of another
sort. Although an increase of numbers does not necessarily infer an
increase of high civilization, it reasonably leads to the expectation
of great melioration in the commoner comforts. Such has been the
result, and to those familiar with facts as they now exist, the
difference will probably be apparent in these pages.

Although the moral changes in American society have not kept even pace
with those that are purely physical, many that are essential have
nevertheless occurred. Of all the British possessions on this
continent, New-York, after its conquest from the Dutch, received most
of the social organization of the mother country. Under the Dutch,
even, it had some of these characteristic peculiarities, in its
patroons; the lords of the manor of the New Netherlands. Some of the
southern colonies, it is true, had their caciques and other
semi-feudal, and semi-savage noblesse, but the system was of short
continuance; the peculiarities of that section of the country, arising
principally from the existence of domestic slavery, on an extended
scale. With New-York it was different. A conquered colony, the mother
country left the impression of its own institutions more deeply
engraved than on any of the settlements that were commenced by grants
to proprietors, or under charters from the crown. It was strictly a
royal colony, and so continued to be, down to the hour of
separation. The social consequences of this state of things were to be
traced in her habits unlit the current of immigration became so
strong, as to bring with it those that were conflicting, if not
absolutely antagonist. The influence of these two sources of thought
is still obvious to the reflecting, giving rise to a double set of
social opinions; one of which bears all the characteristics of its New
England and puritanical origin, while the other may be said to come of
the usages and notions of the Middle States, proper.

This is said in anticipation of certain strictures that will be likely
to follow some of the incidents of our story, it not being always
deemed an essential in an American critic, that he should understand
his subject. Too many of them, indeed, justify the retort of the man
who derided the claims to knowledge of life, set up by a neighbour,
that "had been to meetin' and had been to mill." We can all obtain
some notions of the portion of a subject that is placed immediately
before our eyes; the difficulty is to understand that which we have no
means of studying.

On the subject of the nautical incidents of this book, we have
endeavoured to be as exact as our authorities will allow. We are fully
aware of the importance of writing what the world thinks, rather than
what is true, and are not conscious of any very palpable errors of
this nature.

It is no more than fair to apprize the reader, that our tale is not
completed in the First Part, or the volumes that are now published.
This, the plan of the book would not permit: but we can promise those
who may feel any interest in the subject, that the season shall not
pass away, so far as it may depend on ourselves, without bringing the
narrative to a close. Poor Captain Wallingford is now in his
sixty-fifth year, and is naturally desirous of not being hung up long
on the tenter-hooks of expectation, so near the close of life. The
old gentleman having seen much and suffered much, is entitled to end
his days in peace. In this mutual frame of mind between the principal,
and his editors, the public shall have no cause to complain of
unnecessary delay, whatever may be its rights of the same nature on
other subjects.

The author--perhaps editor would be the better word--does not feel
himself responsible for all the notions advanced by the hero of this
tale, and it may be as well to say as much. That one born in the
Revolution should think differently from the men of the present day,
in a hundred things, is to be expected. It is in just this difference
of opinion, that the lessons of the book are to be found.

AFLOAT AND ASHORE.

CHAPTER I.

"And I--my joy of life is fled,
My spirit's power, my bosom's glow;
The raven locks that grac'd my head,
Wave in a wreath of snow!
And where the star of youth arose,
I deem'd life's lingering ray should close,
And those lov'd trees my tomb o'ershade,
Beneath whose arching bowers my childhood play'd."
MRS. HEMANS.

I was born in a valley not very remote from the sea. My father had
been a sailor in youth, and some of my earliest recollections are
connected with the history of his adventures, and the recollections
they excited. He had been a boy in the war of the revolution, and had
seen some service in the shipping of that period. Among other scenes
he witnessed, he had been on board the Trumbull, in her action with
the Watt--the hardest-fought naval combat of that war--and he
particularly delighted in relating its incidents. He had been wounded
in the battle, and bore the marks of the injury, in a scar that
slightly disfigured a face, that, without this blemish, would have
been singularly handsome. My mother, after my poor father's death,
always spoke of even this scar as a beauty spot. Agreeably to my own
recollections, the mark scarcely deserved that commendation, as it
gave one side of the face a grim and fierce appearance, particularly
when its owner was displeased.

My father died on the farm on which he was born, and which descended
to him from his great-grandfather, an English emigrant that had
purchased it of the Dutch colonist who had originally cleared it from
the woods. The place was called Clawbonny, which some said was good
Dutch others bad Dutch; and, now and then, a person ventured a
conjecture that it might be Indian. Bonny it was, in one sense at
least, for a lovelier farm there is not on the whole of the wide
surface of the Empire State. What does not always happen in this
wicked, world, it was as good as it was handsome. It consisted of
three hundred and seventy-two acres of first-rate land, either arable,
or of rich river bottom in meadows, and of more than a hundred of
rocky mountain side, that was very tolerably covered with wood. The
first of our family who owned the place had built a substantial
one-story stone house, that bears the date of 1707 on one of its
gables; and to which each of his successors had added a little, until
the whole structure got to resemble a cluster of cottages thrown
together without the least attention to order or regularity. There
were a porch, a front door, and a lawn, however; the latter containing
half a dozen acres of a soil as black as one's hat, and nourishing
eight or ten elms that were scattered about, as if their seeds had
been sown broad-cast. In addition to the trees, and a suitable
garniture of shrubbery, this lawn was coated with a sward that, in the
proper seasons, rivalled all I have read, or imagined, of the emerald
and shorn slopes of the Swiss valleys.

Clawbonny, while it had all the appearance of being the residence of
an affluent agriculturist, had none of the pretension of these later
times. The house had an air of substantial comfort without, an
appearance that its interior in no manner contradicted. The
ceilings, were low, it is true, nor were the rooms particularly large;
but the latter were warm in winter, cool in summer and tidy, neat and
respectable all the year round. Both the parlours had carpets, as had
the passages and all the better bed-rooms; and there were an
old-fashioned chintz settee, well stuffed and cushioned, and curtains
in the "big parlour," as we called the best apartment,--the pretending
name of drawing-room not having reached our valley as far back as the
year 1796, or that in which my recollections of the place, as it then
existed, are the most vivid and distinct.

We had orchards, meadows, and ploughed fields all around us; while the
barns, granaries, styes, and other buildings of the farm, were of
solid stone, like the dwelling, and all in capital condition. In
addition to the place, which he inherited from my grandfather, quite
without any encumbrance, well stocked and supplied with utensils of
all sorts, my father had managed to bring with him from sea some
fourteen or fifteen thousand dollars, which he carefully invested in
mortgages in the county. He got twenty-seven hundred pounds currency
with my mother, similarly bestowed; and, two or three great landed
proprietors, and as many retired merchants from York, excepted,
Captain Wallingford was generally supposed to be one of the stiffest
men in Ulster county. I do not know exactly how true was this report;
though I never saw anything but the abundance of a better sort of
American farm under the paternal roof, and I know that the poor were
never sent away empty-handed. It as true that our wine was made of
currants; but it was delicious, and there was always a sufficient
stock in the cellar to enable us to drink it three or four years
old. My father, however, had a small private collection of his own,
out of which he would occasionally produce a bottle; and I remember to
have heard Governor George Clinton, afterwards, Vice President, who
was an Ulster county man, and who sometimes stopped at Clawbonny in
passing, say that it was excellent East India Madeira. As for clarets,
burgundy, hock and champagne, they were wines then unknown in America,
except on the tables of some of the principal merchants, and, here and
there, on that of some travelled gentleman of an estate larger than
common. When I say that Governor George Clinton used to stop
occasionally, and taste my father's Madeira, I do not wish to boast of
being classed with those who then composed the gentry of the state. To
this, in that day, we could hardly aspire, though the substantial
hereditary property of my family gave us a local consideration that
placed us a good deal above the station of ordinary yeomen. Had we
lived in one of the large towns, our association would unquestionably
have been with those who are usually considered to be one or two
degrees beneath the highest class. These distinctions were much more
marked, immediately after the war of the revolution, than they are
to-day; and they are more marked to-day, even, than all but the most
lucky, or the most meritorious, whichever fortune dignifies, are
willing to allow.

The courtship between my parents occurred while my father was at home,
to be cured of the wounds he had received in the engagement between
the Trumbull and the Watt. I have always supposed this was the moving
cause why my mother fancied that the grim-looking scar on the left
side of my father's face was so particularly becoming. The battle was
fought in June 1780, and my parents were married in the autumn of the
same year. My father did not go to sea again until after my birth,
which took place the very day that Cornwallis capitulated at
Yorktown. These combined events set the young sailor in motion, for he
felt he had a family to provide for, and he wished to make one more
mark on the enemy in return for the beauty-spot his wife so gloried
in. He accordingly got a commission in a privateer, made two or three
fortunate cruises, and was able at the peace to purchase a prize-brig,
which he sailed, as master and owner, until the year 1790, when he was
recalled to the paternal roof by the death of my grandfather. Being
an only son, the captain, as my father was uniformly called, inherited
the land, stock, utensils and crops, as already mentioned; while the
six thousand pounds currency that were "at use," went to my two aunts,
who were thought to be well married, to men in their own class of
life, in adjacent counties.

My father never went to sea after he inherited Clawbonny. From that
time down to the day of his death, he remained on his farm, with the
exception of a single winter passed in Albany as one of the
representatives of the county. In his day, it was a credit to a man
to represent a county, and to hold office under the State; though the
abuse of the elective principle, not to say of the appointing power,
has since brought about so great a change. Then, a member of congress
was _somebody_; now, he is only--a member of congress.

We were but two surviving children, three of the family dying infants,
leaving only my sister Grace and myself to console our mother in her
widowhood. The dire accident which placed her in this, the saddest of
all conditions for a woman who had been a happy wife, occurred in the
year 1794, when I was in my thirteenth year, and Grace was turned of
eleven. It may be well to relate the particulars.

There was a mill, just where the stream that runs through our valley
tumbles down to a level below that on which the farm lies, and empties
itself into a small tributary of the Hudson. This mill was on our
property, and was a source of great convenience and of some profit to
my father. There he ground all the grain that was consumed for
domestic purposes, for several miles around; and the tolls enabled him
to fatten his porkers and beeves, in a way to give both a sort of
established character. In a word, the mill was the concentrating point
for all the products of the farm, there being a little landing on the
margin of the creek that put up from the Hudson, whence a sloop sailed
weekly for town. My father passed half his time about the mill and
landing, superintending his workmen, and particularly giving
directions about the fitting of the sloop, which was his property
also, and about the gear of the mill. He was clever, certainly, and
had made several useful suggestions to the millwright who occasionally
came to examine and repair the works; but he was by no means so
accurate a mechanic as he fancied himself to be. He had invented some
new mode of arresting the movement, and of setting the machinery in
motion when necessary; what it was, I never knew, for it was not named
at Clawbonny after the fatal accident occurred. One day, however, in
order to convince the millwright of the excellence of this
improvement, my father caused the machinery to be stopped, and then
placed his own weight upon the large wheel, in order to manifest the
sense he felt in the security of his invention. He was in the very act
of laughing exultingly at the manner in which the millwright shook his
head at the risk he ran, when the arresting power lost its control of
the machinery, the heavy head of water burst into the buckets, and the
wheel whirled round carrying my unfortunate father with it. I was an
eye-witness of the whole, and saw the face of my parent, as the wheel
turned it from me, still expanded in mirth. There was but one
revolution made, when the wright succeeded in stopping the works. This
brought the great wheel back nearly to its original position, and I
fairly shouted with hysterical delight when I saw my father standing
in his tracks, as it might be, seemingly unhurt. Unhurt he would have
been, though he must have passed a fearful keel-hauling, but for one
circumstance. He had held on to the wheel with the tenacity of a
seaman, since letting go his hold would have thrown him down a cliff
of near a hundred feet in depth, and he actually passed between the
wheel and the planking beneath it unharmed, although there was only an
inch or two to spare; but in rising from this fearful strait, his head
had been driven between a projecting beam and one of the buckets, in a
way to crush one temple in upon the brain. So swift and sudden had
been the whole thing, that, on turning the wheel, his lifeless body
was still inclining on its periphery, retained erect, I believe, in
consequence of some part of his coat getting attached, to the head of
a nail. This was the first serious sorrow of my life. I had always
regarded my father as one of the fixtures of the world; as a part of
the great system of the universe; and had never contemplated his death
as a possible thing. That another revolution might occur, and carry
the country back under the dominion of the British crown, would have
seemed to me far more possible than that my father could die. Bitter
truth now convinced me of the fallacy of such notions.

It was months and months before I ceased to dream of this frightful
scene. At my age, all the feelings were fresh and plastic, and grief
took strong hold of my heart. Grace and I used to look at each other
without speaking, long after the event, the tears starting to my eyes,
and rolling down her cheeks, our emotions being the only
communications between us, but communications that no uttered words
could have made so plain. Even now, I allude to my mother's anguish
with trembling. She was sent for to the house of the miller, where the
body lay, and arrived unapprised of the extent of the evil. Never can
I--never shall I forget the outbreakings of her sorrow, when she
learned the whole of the dreadful truth. She was in fainting fits for
hours, one succeeding another, and then her grief found tongue. There
was no term of endearment that the heart of woman could dictate to her
speech, that was not lavished on the lifeless clay. She called the
dead "her Miles," "her beloved Miles," "her husband," "her own darling
husband," and by such other endearing epithets. Once she seemed as if
resolute to arouse the sleeper from his endless trance, and she said,
solemnly, "_Father_--dear, _dearest_ father!" appealing as
it might be to the parent of her children, the tenderest and most
comprehensive of all woman's terms of endearment--"Father--dear,
dearest father! open your eyes and look upon your babes--your precious
girl, and noble boy! Do not thus shut out their sight for ever!"

But it was in vain. There lay the lifeless corpse, as insensible as if
the spirit of God had never had a dwelling within it. The principal
injury had been received on that much-prized scar; and again and again
did my poor mother kiss both, as if her caresses might yet restore her
husband to life. All would not do. The same evening, the body was
carried to the dwelling, and three days later it was laid in the
church-yard, by the side of three generations of forefathers, at a
distance of only a mile from Clawbonny. That funeral service, too,
made a deep impression on my memory. We had some Church of England
people in the valley; and old Miles Wallingford, the first of the
name, a substantial English franklin, had been influenced in his
choice of a purchase by the fact that one of Queen Anne's churches
stood so near the farm. To that little church, a tiny edifice of
stone, with a high, pointed roof, without steeple, bell, or
vestry-room, had three generations of us been taken to be christened,
and three, including my father, had been taken to be buried.
Excellent, kind-hearted, just-minded Mr. Hardinge read the funeral
service over the man whom his own father had, in the same humble
edifice, christened. Our neighbourhood has much altered of late
years; but, then, few higher than mere labourers dwelt among us, who
had not some sort of hereditary claim to be beloved. So it was with
our clergyman, whose father had been his predecessor, having actually
married my grand-parents. The son had united my father and mother,
and now he was called on to officiate at the funeral obsequies of the
first. Grace and I sobbed as if our hearts would break, the whole
time we were in the church; and my poor, sensitive, nervous little
sister actually shrieked as she heard the sound of the first clod that
fell upon the coffin. Our mother was spared that trying scene, finding
it impossible to support it. She remained at home, on her knees, most
of the day on which the funeral occurred.

Time soothed our sorrows, though my mother, a woman of more than
common sensibility, or, it were better to say of uncommon affections,
never entirely recovered from the effects of her irreparable loss. She
had loved too well, too devotedly, too engrossingly, ever to think of
a second marriage, and lived only to care for the interests of Miles
Wallingford's children. I firmly believe we were more beloved because
we stood in this relation to the deceased, than because we were her
own natural offspring. Her health became gradually undermined, and,
three years after the accident of the mill, Mr. Hardinge laid her at
my father's side. I was now sixteen, and can better describe what
passed during the last days of her existence, than what took place at
the death of her husband. Grace and I were apprised of what was so
likely to occur, quite a month before the fatal moment arrived; and we
were not so much overwhelmed with sudden grief as we had been on the
first great occasion of family sorrow, though we both felt our loss
keenly, and my sister, I think I may almost say, inextinguishably. Mr.
Hardinge had us both brought to the bed-side, to listen to the parting
advice of our dying parent, and to be impressed with a scene that is
always healthful, if rightly improved. "You baptized these two dear
children, good Mr. Hardinge," she said, in a voice that was already
enfeebled by physical decay, "and you signed them with the sign of the
cross, in token of Christ's death for them; and I now ask of your
friendship and pastoral care to see that they are not neglected at the
most critical period of their lives--that when impressions are the
deepest, and yet the most easily made. God will reward all your
kindness to the orphan children of your friends." The excellent
divine, a man who lived more for others than for himself, made the
required promises, and the soul of my mother took its flight in peace.

Neither my sister nor myself grieved as deeply for the loss of this
last of our parents, as we did for that of the first. We had both
seen so many instances of her devout goodness, had been witnesses of
so great a triumph of her faith as to feel an intimate, though silent,
persuasion that her death was merely a passage to a better state of
existence--that it seemed selfish to regret. Still, we wept and
mourned, even while, in one sense, I think we rejoiced. She was
relieved from, much bodily suffering, and I remember, when I went to
take a last look at her beloved face, that I gazed on its calm
serenity with a feeling akin to exultation, as I recollected that pain
could no longer exercise dominion over her frame, and that her spirit
was then dwelling in bliss. Bitter regrets came later, it is true,
and these were fully shared--nay, more than shared--by Grace.

After the death of my father, I had never bethought me of the manner
in which he had disposed of his property. I heard something said of
his will, and gleaned a little, accidentally, of the forms that had
been gone through in proving the instrument, and of obtaining its
probate. Shortly after my mother's death, however, Mr. Hardinge had a
free conversation with both me and Grace on the subject, when we
learned, for the first time, the disposition that had been made. My
father had bequeathed to me the farm, mill, landing, sloop, stock,
utensils, crops, &c. &c., in full property; subject, however, to my
mother's use of the whole until I attained my majority; after which I
was to give her complete possession of a comfortable wing of the
house, which had every convenience for a small family within itself,
certain privileges in the fields, dairy, styes, orchards, meadows,
granaries, &c., and to pay her three hundred pounds currency, per
annum, in money. Grace had four thousand pounds that were "at use,"
and I had all the remainder of the personal property, which yielded
about five hundred dollars a-year. As the farm, sloop, mill, landing,
&c., produced a net annual income of rather more than a thousand
dollars, besides all that was consumed in housekeeping, I was very
well off, in the way of temporal things, for one who had been trained
in habits as simple as those which reigned at Clawbonny.

My father had left Mr. Hardinge the executor, and my mother an
executrix of his will, with survivorship. He had also made the same
provision as respected the guardians. Thus Grace and I became the
wards of the clergyman alone on the death of our last remaining
parent. This was grateful to us both, for we both truly loved this
good man, and, what was more, we loved his children. Of these there
were two of ages corresponding very nearly with our own; Rupert
Hardinge being not quite a year older than I was myself, and Lucy, his
sister, about six months younger than Grace. We were all four
strongly attached to each other, and had been so from infancy,
Mr. Hardinge having had charge of my education as soon as I was taken
from a woman's school.

I cannot say, however, that Rupert Hardinge was ever a boy to give his
father the delight that a studious, well-conducted, considerate and
industrious child, has it so much in his power to yield to his
parent. Of the two, I was much the best scholar, and had been
pronounced by Mr. Hardinge fit to enter college, a twelvemonth before
my mother died; though she declined sending me to Yale, the
institution selected by my father, until my school-fellow was
similarly prepared, it having been her intention to give the
clergyman's son a thorough education, in furtherance of his father's
views of bringing him up to the church. This delay, so well and kindly
meant, had the effect of changing the whole course of my subsequent
life.

My father, it seems, wished to make a lawyer of me, with the natural
desire of seeing me advanced to some honourable position in the
State. But I was averse to anything like serious mental labour, and was
greatly delighted when my mother determined to keep me out of college
a twelvemonth in order that my friend Rupert might be my classmate. It
is true I learned quick, and was fond of reading; but the first I
could not very well help, while the reading I liked was that which
amused, rather than that which instructed me. As for Rupert, though
not absolutely dull, but, on the other hand, absolutely clever in
certain things, he disliked mental labour even more than myself, while
he liked self-restraint of any sort far less. His father was sincerely
pious, and regarded his sacred office with too much reverence to think
of bringing up a "cosset-priest," though he prayed and hoped that his
son's inclinations, under the guidance of Providence, would take that
direction. He seldom spoke on the subject himself, but I ascertained
his wishes through my confidential dialogues with his children. Lucy
seemed delighted with the idea, looking forward to the time when her
brother would officiate in the same desk where her father and
grandfather had now conducted the worship of God for more than half a
century; a period of time that, to us young people, seemed to lead us
back to the dark ages of the country. And all this the dear girl
wished for her brother, in connection with his spiritual rather than
his temporal interests, inasmuch as the living was worth only a
badly-paid salary of one hundred and fifty pounds currency per annum,
together with a small but comfortable rectory, and a glebe of
five-and-twenty acres of very tolerable land, which it was thought no
sin, in that day, for the clergyman to work by means of two male
slaves, whom, with as many females, he had inherited as part of the
chattels of his mother.

I had a dozen slaves also; negroes who, as a race, had been in the
family almost as long as Clawbonny. About half of these blacks were
singularly laborious and useful, viz., four males and three of the
females; but several of the remainder were enjoying _otium_, and
not altogether without _dignitate_, as heir-looms to be fed,
clothed and lodged, for the good, or evil, they had done. There were
some small-fry in our kitchens, too, that used to roll about on the
grass, and munch fruit in the summer, _ad libitum;_ and stand so
close in the chimney-corners in cold weather, that I have often
fancied they must have been, as a legal wit of New York once
pronounced certain eastern coal-mines to be, incombustible. These
negroes all went by the patronymic of Clawbonny, there being among
them Hector Clawbonny, Venus Clawbonny, Caesar Clawbonny, Rose
Clawbonny--who was as black as a crow--Romeo Clawbonny, and Julietta,
commonly called Julee, Clawbonny; who were, with Pharaoh, Potiphar,
Sampson and Nebuchadnezzar, all Clawbonnys in the last resort. Neb, as
the namesake of the herbiferous king of Babylon was called, was about
my own age, and had been a sort of humble playfellow from infancy; and
even now, when it was thought proper to set him about the more serious
toil which was to mark his humble career, I often interfered to call
him away to be my companion with the rod, the fowling-piece, or in the
boat, of which we had one that frequently descended the creek, and
navigated the Hudson for miles at a time, under my command. The lad,
by such means, and through an off-hand friendliness of manner that I
rather think was characteristic of my habits at that day, got to love
me as a brother or comrade. It is not easy to describe the affection
of an attached slave, which has blended with it the pride of a
partisan, the solicitude of a parent, and the blindness of a lover. I
do think Neb had more gratification in believing himself particularly
belonging to Master Miles, than I ever had in any quality or thing I
could call my own. Neb, moreover liked a vagrant life, and greatly
encouraged Rupert and myself in idleness, and a desultory manner of
misspending hours that could never be recalled. The first time I ever
played truant was under the patronage of Neb, who decoyed me away from
my books to go nutting on the mountain stoutly maintaining that
chestnuts were just as good as the spelling-book, or any primer that
could be bought in York.

I have forgotten to mention that the death of my mother, which
occurred in the autumn, brought about an immediate change in the
condition of our domestic economy. Grace was too young, being only
fourteen, to preside over such a household, and I could be of little
use, either in the way of directing or advising. Mr. Hardinge, who had
received a letter to that effect from the dying saint, that was only
put into his hand the day after the funeral, with a view to give her
request the greater weight, rented the rectory, and came to Clawbonny
to live, bringing with him both his children. My mother knew that his
presence would be of the greatest service to the orphans she left
behind her; while the money saved from his own household expenses
might enable this single-minded minister of the altar to lay by a
hundred or two for Lucy, who, at his demise, might otherwise be left
without a penny, as it was then said, cents not having yet come much
into fashion.

This removal gave Grace and me much pleasure, for she was as fond of
Lucy as I was of Rupert, and, to tell the truth, so was I, too. Four
happier young people were not to be found in the State than we thus
became, each and all of us finding in the arrangement exactly the
association which was most agreeable to our feelings. Previously, we
only saw each other every day; now, we saw each other all day. At
night we separated at an early hour, it is true, each having his or
her room; but it was to meet at a still earlier hour the next morning,
and to resume our amusements in company. From study, all of us were
relieved for a month or two, and we wandered through the fields;
nutted, gathered fruit, or saw others gather it as well as the crops,
taking as much exercise as possible in the open air, equally for the
good of our bodies, and the lightening of our spirits.

I do not think vanity, or any feeling connected with self-love,
misleads me, when I say it would have been difficult to find four
young people more likely to attract the attention of a passer-by, than
we four were, in the fall of 1797. As for Rupert Hardinge, he
resembled his mother, and was singularly handsome in face, as well as
graceful in movements. He had a native gentility of air, of which he
knew how to make the most, and a readiness of tongue and a flow of
spirits that rendered him an agreeable, if not a very instructive
companion. I was not ill-looking, myself, though far from possessing
the striking countenance of my young associate. In manliness,
strength and activity, however, I had essentially the advantage over
him, few youths of my age surpassing me in masculine qualities of this
nature, after I had passed my twelfth year. My hair was a dark auburn,
and it was the only thing about my face, perhaps, that would cause a
stranger to notice it; but this hung about my temples and down my neck
in rich ringlets, until frequent applications of the scissors brought
it into something like subjection. It never lost its beauty entirely,
and though now white as snow, it is still admired. But Grace was the
one of the party whose personal appearance would be most likely to
attract attention. Her face beamed with sensibility and feeling, being
one of those countenances on which nature sometimes delights to
impress the mingled radiance, sweetness, truth and sentiment, that men
ascribe to angels. Her hair was lighter than mine; her eyes of a
heavenly blue, all softness and tenderness; her cheeks just of the
tint of the palest of the coloured roses; and her smile so full of
gentleness and feeling, that, again and again, it has controlled my
ruder and more violent emotions, when they were fast getting the
mastery. In form, some persons might have thought Grace, in a slight
degree, too fragile, though her limbs would have been delicate models
for the study of a sculptor.

Lucy, too, had certainly great perfection, particularly in figure;
though in the crowd of beauty that has been so profusely lavished on
the youthful in this country, she would not have been at all remarked
in a large assembly of young American girls. Her face was pleasing
nevertheless; and there was a piquant contrast between the raven
blackness of her hair the deep blue of her eyes, and the dazzling
whiteness of her skin. Her colour, too, was high, and changeful with
her emotions. As for teeth, she had a set that one might have
travelled weeks to meet with their equals; and, though she seemed
totally unconscious of the advantage, she had a natural manner of
showing them, that would have made a far less interesting face
altogether agreeable. Her voice and laugh, too, when happy and free
from care, were joyousness itself.

It would be saying too much, perhaps, to assert that any human being
was ever totally indifferent to his or her personal appearance. Still,
I do not think either of our party, Rupert alone excepted, ever
thought on the subject, unless as it related to others, down to the
period Of which I am now writing. I knew, and saw, and felt that my
sister was far more beautiful than any of the young girls of her age
and condition that I had seen in her society; and I had pleasure and
pride in the fact. I knew that I resembled her in some respects, but I
was never coxcomb enough to imagine I had half her good-looks, even
allowing for difference of sex. My own conceit, so far as I then had
any--plenty of it came, a year or two later--but my own conceit, in
1797, rather ran in the direction of my athletic properties, physical
force, which was unusually great for sixteen, and stature. As for
Rupert, I would not have exchanged these manly qualities for twenty
times his good looks, and a thought of envy never crossed my mind on
the subject. I fancied it might be well enough for a parson to be a
little delicate, and a good deal handsome; but for one who intended to
knock about the world as I had it already in contemplation to do,
strength, health, vigour, courage and activity, were much more to be
desired than beauty.

Lucy I never thought of as handsome at all. I saw she was pleasing;
fancied she was even more so to me than to any one else; and I never
looked upon her sunny, cheerful and yet perfectly feminine face,
without a feeling of security and happiness. As for her honest eyes,
they invariably met my own with an open frankness that said, as
plainly as eyes could say anything, there was nothing to be concealed.

CHAPTER II.

"Cease to persuade, my loving Proteus;
Home-keeping youth have ever homely wits;--
I rather would entreat thy company
To see the wonders of the world abroad."
_Two Gentlemen of--Clawbonny._

During the year that succeeded after I was prepared for Yale,
Mr. Hardinge had pursued a very judicious course with my
education. Instead of pushing me into books that were to be read in
the regular course of that institution, with the idea of lightening my
future labours, which would only have been providing excuses for
future idleness, we went back to the elementary works, until even he
was satisfied that nothing more remained to be done in that
direction. I had my two grammars literally by heart, notes and all.
Then we revised as thoroughly as possible, reading everything anew,
and leaving no passage unexplained. I learned to scan, too, a fact
that was sufficient to make a reputation for a scholar, in America,
half a century since. [*] After this, we turned our attention to
mathematics, a science Mr. Hardinge rightly enough thought there was
no danger of my acquiring too thoroughly. We mastered arithmetic, of
which I had a good deal of previous knowledge, in a few weeks, and
then I went through trigonometry, with some of the more useful
problems in geometry. This was the point at which I had arrived when
my mother's death occurred.

[Footnote *: The writer's master taught him to scan Virgil in
1801. This gentleman was a graduate of Oxford. In 1803, the class to
which the writer then belonged in Yale, was the first that ever
attempted to scan in that institution. The quantities were in sad
discredit in this country, years after this, though Columbia and
Harvard were a little in advance of Yale. All that was ever done in
the last college, during the writer's time, was to scan the ordinary
hexameter of Homer and Virgil.]

As for myself, I frankly admit a strong disinclination to be
learned. The law I might be forced to study, but practising it was a
thing my mind had long been made up never to do. There was a small
vein of obstinacy in my disposition that would have been very likely
to carry me through in such a determination, even had my mother lived,
though deference to her wishes would certainly have carried me as far
as the license. Even now she was no more, I was anxious to ascertain
whether she had left any directions or requests on the subject, either
of which would have been laws to me. I talked with Rupert on this
matter, and was a little shocked with the levity with which he treated
it. "What difference can it make to your parents, _now_," he
said, with an emphasis that grated on my nerves, "whether you become a
lawyer, or a merchant, or a doctor, or stay here on your farm, and be
a farmer, like your father?"

"My father had been a sailor," I answered, quick as lightning.

"True; and a noble, manly, gentleman-like calling it is! I never see
a sailor that I do not envy him his advantages. Why, Miles, neither
of us has ever been in town even, while your mother's boatmen, or your
own, as they are now, go there regularly once a-week. I would give the
world to be a sailor."

"You, Rupert! Why, you know that your father in tends, or, rather,
wishes that you should become a clergyman."

"A pretty appearance a young man of my figure would make in the
pulpit, Miles, or wearing a surplice. No, no; there have been two
Hardinges in the church in this century, and I have a fancy also to
the sea. I suppose you know that my great-grandfather was a captain in
the navy, and _he_ brought _his_ son up a parson; now, turn
about is fair play, and the parson ought to give a son back to a
man-of-war. I've been reading the lives of naval men, and it's
surprising how many clergymen's sons, in England, go into the navy,
and how many sailors' sons get to be priests."

"But there is no navy in this country now--not even a single
ship-of-war, I believe."

"That is the worst of it. Congress _did_ pass a law, two or three
years since, to build some frigates, but they have never been
launched. Now Washington has gone out of office, I suppose we shall
never have anything good in the country."

I revered the name of Washington, in common with the whole country,
but I did not see the _sequitur_. Rupert, however, cared little
for logical inferences, usually asserting such things as he wished,
and wishing such as he asserted. After a short pause, he continued the
discourse.

"You are now substantially your own master," he said, "and can do as
you please. Should you go to sea and not like it, you have only to
come back to this place, where you will be just as much the master as
if you had remained here superintending cattle, cutting hay, and
fattening pork, the whole time."

"I am not my own master, Rupert, any more than you are yourself. I am
your father's ward, and must so remain for more than five years to
come. I am just as much under his control as you, yourself."

Rupert laughed at this, and tried to persuade me it would be a good
thing to relieve his worthy fether of all responsibility in the
affair, if I had seriously determined never to go to Yale, or to be a
lawyer, by going off to sea clandestinely, and returning when I was
ready. If I ever was to make a sailor, no time was to be lost; for all
with whom he had conversed assured him the period of life when such
things were best learned, was between sixteen and twenty. This I
thought probable enough, and I parted from my friend with a promise of
conversing further with him on the subject at an early opportunity.

I am almost ashamed to confess that Rupert's artful sophism nearly
blinded my eyes to the true distinction between right and wrong. If
Mr. Hardinge really felt himself bound by my father's wishes to
educate me for the bar, and my own repugnance to the profession was
unconquerable, why should I not relieve him from the responsibility at
once by assuming the right to judge for myself, and act accordingly?
So far as Mr. Hardinge was concerned, I had little difficulty in
coming to a conclusion, though the profound deference I still felt for
my father's wishes, and more especially for those of my sainted
mother, had a hold on my heart, and an influence on my conduct, that
was not so easily disposed of. I determined to have a frank
conversation with Mr. Hardinge, therefore, in order to ascertain how
far either of my parents had expressed anything that might be
considered obligatory on me. My plan went as far as to reveal my own
desire to be a sailor, and to see the world, but not to let it be
known that I might go off without his knowledge, as this would not be
so absolutely relieving the excellent divine "from all responsibility
in the premises," as was contemplated in the scheme of his own son.

An opportunity soon occurred, when I broached the subject by asking
Mr. Hardinge whether my father, in his will, had ordered that I should
be sent to Yale, and there be educated for the bar. He had done
nothing of the sort. Had he left any particular request, writing, or
message on the subject, at all? Not that Mr. Hardinge knew. It is
true, the last had heard his friend, once or twice, make some general
remark which would lead one to suppose that Captain Wallingford had
some vague expectations I might go to the bar, but nothing further. My
mind felt vastly relieved by these admissions, for I knew my mother's
tenderness too well to anticipate that she would dream of absolutely
dictating in a matter that was so clearly connected with my own
happiness and tastes. When questioned on this last point, Mr. Hardinge
did not hesitate to say that my mother had conversed with him several
times concerning her views, as related to my career in life. She
wished me to go to Yale, and then to read law, even though I did not
practise. As soon as this, much was said, the conscientious servant
of God paused, to note the effect on me. Reading disappointment in my
countenance, I presume, he immediately added, "But your mother, Miles,
laid no restraint on you; for she knew it was _you_ who was to
follow the career, and not herself. 'I should as soon think of
commanding whom he was to marry, as to think of forcing, a profession
on him,' she added. 'He is the one who is to decide this, and he only.
We may try to guide and influence him, but not go beyond this. I leave
you, dear sir, to do all you think best in this matter, certain that
your own wisdom will be aided by the providence of a kind Master.'"

I now plainly told Mr. Hardinge my desire to see the world, and to be
a sailor. The divine was astounded at this declaration, and I saw that
he was grieved. I believe some religious objections were connected
with his reluctance to consent to my following the sea, as a
calling. At any rate, it was easy to discover that these objections
were lasting and profound. In that day, few Americans travelled, by
way of an accomplishment, at all; and those few belonged to a class in
society so much superior to mine, as to render it absurd to think of
sending, me abroad with similar views. Nor would my fortune justify
such an expenditure. I was well enough off to be a comfortable and
free housekeeper, and as independent as a king on my own farm; living
in abundance, nay, in superfluity, so far as all the ordinary wants
were concerned; but men hesitated a little about setting up for
gentlemen at large, in the year 1797. The country was fast getting
rich, it is true, under the advantages of its neutral position; but it
had not yet been long enough emancipated from its embarrassments to
think of playing the nabob on eight hundred pounds currency
a-year. The interview terminated with a strong exhortation from my
guardian not to think of abandoning my books for any project as
visionary and useless as the hope of seeing the world in the character
of a common sailor.

I related all this to Rupert, who, I now perceived for the first time,
did not hesitate to laugh at some of his father's notions, as
puritanical and exaggerated. He maintained that every one was the best
judge of what he liked, and that the sea had produced quite as fair a
proportion of saints as the land. He was not certain, considering the
great difference there was in numbers, that more good men might not be
traced in connection with the ocean, than in connection with any other
pursuit.

"Take the lawyers now, for instance, Miles," he said, "and what can
you make out of them, in the way of religion, I should like to know?
They hire their consciences out at so much _per diem_, and talk
and reason just as zealously for the wrong, as they do for the right."

"By George, that is true enough, Rupert. There is old David Dockett, I
remember to have heard Mr. Hardinge say always did double duty for his
fee, usually acting as witness, as well as advocate. They tell me he
will talk by the hour of facts that he and his clients get up between
them, and look the whole time as if he believed all he said to be
true."

Rupert laughed at this sally, and pushed the advantage it gave him by
giving several other examples to prove how much his father was
mistaken by supposing that a man was to save his soul from perdition
simply by getting admitted to the bar. After discussing the matter a
little longer, to my astonishment Rupert came out with a plain
proposal that he and I should elope, go to New York, and ship as
foremastlads in some Indiaman, of which there were then many sailing,
at the proper season, from that port. I did not dislike the idea, so
far as I was myself concerned; but the thought of accompanying Rupert
in such an adventure, startled me. I knew I was sufficiently secure of
the future to be able to risk a little at the present moment; but such
was not the case with my friend. If I made a false step at so early an
age, I had only to return to Clawbonny, where I was certain to find
competence and a home; but, with Rupert, it was very different. Of the
moral hazards I ran, I then knew nothing, and of course they gave me
no concern. Like all inexperienced persons, I supposed myself too
strong in virtue to be in any danger of contamination; and this
portion of the adventure was regarded with the self-complacency with
which the untried are apt to regard their own powers of endurance. I
thought myself morally invulnerable.

But Rupert might find it difficult to retrace any serious error made
at his time of life. This consideration would have put an end to the
scheme, so far as my companion was concerned, had not the thought
suggested itself that I should always have it in my own power to aid
my friend. Letting something of this sort escape me, Rupert was not
slow in enlarging on it, though this was done with great tact and
discretion. He proved that, by the time we both came of age, he would
be qualified to command a ship, and that, doubtless, I would naturally
desire to invest some of my spare cash in a vessel. The accumulations
of my estate alone would do this much, within the next five years, and
then a career of wealth and prosperity would lie open before us both.

"It is a good thing, Miles, no doubt," continued this tempting
sophist, "to have money at use, and a large farm, and a mill, and such
things; but many a ship nets more money, in a single voyage, than your
whole estate would sell for. Those that begin with nothing, too, they
tell me, are the most apt to succeed; and, if we go off with our
clothes only, we shall begin with nothing, too. Success may be said to
be certain. I like the notion of beginning with nothing, it is so
American!"

It is, in truth, rather a besetting weakness of America to suppose
that men who have never had any means for qualifying themselves for
particular pursuits, are the most likely to succeed in them; and
especially to fancy that those who "begin poor" are in a much better
way for acquiring wealth than they who commence with some means; and I
was disposed to lean to this latter doctrine myself, though I confess
I cannot recall an instance in which any person of my acquaintance has
given away his capital, however large and embarrassing it may have
been, in order to start fair with his poorer competitors.
Nevertheless, there was something taking, to my imagination, in the
notion of being the fabricator of my own fortune. In that day, it was
easy to enumerate every dwelling on the banks of the Hudson that
aspired to be called a seat, and I had often heard them named by those
who were familiar with the river. I liked the thought of erecting a
house on the Clawbonny property that might aspire to equal claims, and
to be the owner of a _seat_; though only after I had acquired the
means, myself, to carry out such a project. At present, I owned only a
_house_; my ambition was, to own a _seat_.

In a word, Rupert and I canvassed this matter in every possible way
for a month, now leaning to one scheme, and now to another, until I
determined to lay the whole affair before the two girls, under a
solemn pledge of secrecy. As we passed hours in company daily,
opportunities were not wanting to effect this purpose. I thought my
friend was a little shy on this project; but I had so much affection
for Grace, and so much confidence in Lucy's sound judgment, that I was
not to be turned aside from the completion of my purpose. It is now
more than forty years since the interview took place in which this
confidence was bestowed; but every minute occurrence connected with it
is as fresh in my mind as if the whole had taken place only yesterday.

We were all four of us seated on a rude bench that my mother had
caused to be placed under the shade of an enormous oak that stood on
the most picturesque spot, perhaps, on the whole farm, and which
commanded a distant view of one of the loveliest reaches of the
Hudson. Our side of the river, in general, does not possess as fine
views as the eastern, for the reason that all our own broken, and in
some instances magnificent back-ground of mountains, fills up the
landscape for our neighbours, while we are obliged to receive the
picture as it is set in a humbler frame; but there are exquisite bits
to be found on the western bank, and this was one of the very best of
them. The water was as placid as molten silver, and the sails of every
vessel in sight were hanging in listless idleness from their several
spars, representing commerce asleep. Grace had a deep feeling for
natural scenery, and she had a better mode of expressing her thoughts,
on such occasions, than is usual with girls of fourteen. She first
drew our attention to the view by one of her strong, eloquent bursts
of eulogium; and Lucy met the remark with a truthful, simple answer,
that showed abundant sympathy with the sentiment, though with less of
exaggeration of manner and feeling, perhaps. I seized the moment as
favourable for my purpose, and spoke out.

"If you admire a vessel so much, Grace," I said, "you will probably be
glad to hear that I think of becoming a sailor."

A silence of near two minutes succeeded, during which time I affected
to be gazing at the distant sloops, and then I ventured to steal a
glance at my companions. I found Grace's mild eyes earnestly riveted
on my face; and, turning from their anxious expression with a little
uneasiness, I encountered those of Lucy looking at me as intently as
if she doubted whether her ears had not deceived her.

"A sailor, Miles!"--my sister now slowly repeated--"I thought it
settled you were to study law."

"As far from that as we are from England; I've fully made up my mind
to see the world if I can, and Rupert, here--"

"What of Rupert, here?" Grace asked, a sudden change again coming over
her sweet countenance, though I was altogether too inexperienced to
understand its meaning. "_He_ is certainly to be a clergyman--his
dear father's assistant, and, a long, long, _very_ long time
hence, his successor!"

I could see that Rupert was whistling on a low key, and affecting to
look cool; but my sister's solemn, earnest, astonished manner had more
effect on us both, I believe, than either would have been willing to
own.

"Come, girls," I said at length, putting the best face on the matter,
"there is no use in keeping secrets from _you_--but remember that
what I am about to tell you _is_ a secret, and on no account is
to be betrayed."

"To no one but Mr. Hardinge," answered Grace. "If you intend to be a
sailor, he ought to know it."

"That comes from looking at our duties superficially," I had caught
this phrase from my friend, "and not distinguishing properly between
their shadows and their substance."

"Duties superficially! I do not understand you, Miles. Certainly
Mr. Hardinge ought to be told what profession you mean to
follow. Remember, brother, he now fills the place of a parent to you."

"He is not more _my_ parent than Rupert's--I fancy you will admit
that much!"

"Rupert, again! What has Rupert to do with your going to sea?"

"Promise me, then, to keep my secret, and you shall know all; both you
and Lucy must give me your words. I know you will not break them,
when once given."

"Promise him, Grace," said Lucy, in a low tone, and a voice that, even
at that age, I could perceive was tremulous. "If we promise, we shall
learn everything, and then may have some effect on these headstrong
boys by our advice."

"Boys! _You_ cannot mean, Lucy, that Rupert is not to be a
clergyman--your father's assistant; that Rupert means to be a sailor,
too?"

"One never knows what boys will do. Let us promise them, dear; then we
can better judge."

"I do" promise you, Miles, "said my sister, in a voice so solemn as
almost to frighten me.

"And I, Miles," added Lucy; but it was so low, I had to lean forward
to catch the syllables.

"This is honest and right,"--it was honest, perhaps, but very
wrong,--"and it convinces me that you are both reasonable, and will be
of use to us. Rupert and I have both made up our minds, and intend to
be sailors."

Exclamations followed from both girls, and another long silence
succeeded.

"As for the law, hang all law!" I continued, hemming, and determined
to speak like a man. "I never heard of a Wallingford who was a
lawyer."

"But you have _both_ heard of Hardinges who were clergymen," said
Grace, endeavouring to smile, though the expression of her countenance
was so painful that even now I dislike to recall it.

"And sailors, too," put in Rupert, a little more stoutly than I
thought possible. "My father's grandfather was an officer in the
navy."

"And _my_ father was a sailor himself--in the navy, too."

"But there is no navy in this country now, Miles," returned Lucy, in
an expostulating tone.

"What of that? There are plenty of ships. The ocean is just as big,
and the world just as wide, as if we had a navy to cover the first. I
see no great objection on that account--do you, Ru?"

"Certainly not. What we want is to go to sea, and that can be done in
an Indiaman, as well as in a man-of-war."

"Yes," said I, stretching myself with a little importance. "I fancy
an Indiaman, a vessel that goes all the way to Calcutta, round the
Cape of Good Hope, in the track of Vasquez de Gama, isn't exactly an
Albany sloop."

"Who is Vasquez de Gama?" demanded Lucy, with so much quickness as to
surprise me.

"Why, a _noble_ Portuguese, who discovered the Cape of Good Hope,
and first sailed round it, and then went to the Indies. You see,
girls, even _nobles_ are sailors, and why should not Rupert and I
be sailors?"

"It is not that, Miles," my sister answered; "every honest calling is
respectable. Have you and Rupert spoken to Mr. Hardinge on this
subject?"

"Not exactly--not spoken--hinted only--that is, blindly--not so as to
be understood, perhaps."

"He will _never_ consent, boys!" and this was uttered with
something very like an air of triumph.

"We have no intention of asking it of him, Grace. Rupert and I intend
to be off next week, without saying a word to Mr. Hardinge on the
subject."

Another long, eloquent silence succeeded, during which I saw Lucy bury
her face in her apron, while the tears openly ran down my sister's
cheek.

"You _do_ not--_cannot_ mean to do anything so cruel,
Miles!" Grace at length said.

"It is exactly because it will not be cruel, that we intend to do
it,"--here I nudged Rupert with my elbow, as a hint that I wanted
assistance; but he made no other reply than an answering nudge, which
I interpreted into as much as if he had said in terms, "You've got
into the scrape in your own way, and you may get out of it in the same
manner." "Yes," I continued, finding succour hopeless, "yes,
_that's_ just it."

"What is just it, Miles? You speak in a way to show that you are not
satisfied with yourself--neither you nor Rupert is satisfied with
himself, if the truth were known."

"I not satisfied with _myself!_ Rupert not satisfied with
_himself!_ You never were more mistaken in your life, Grace. If
there ever were two boys in New York State that _were_ well
satisfied with themselves, they are just Rupert and I."

Here Lucy raised her face from the apron and burst into a laugh, the
tears filling her eyes all the while.

"Believe them, dear Grace," she said. "They are precisely two
self-satisfied, silly fellows, that have got some ridiculous notions
in their heads, and then begin to talk about 'superficial views of
duties,' and all such nonsense. My father will set it all right, and
the boys will have had their talk."

"Not so last, Miss Lucy, if you please. Your father will not know a
syllable of the matter until you tell him all about it, after we are
gone. We intend 'to relieve him from all responsibility in the
premises.'"

This last sounded very profound, and a little magnificent, to my
imagination; and I looked at the girls to note the effect. Grace was
weeping, and weeping only; but Lucy looked saucy and mocking, even
while the tears bedewed her smiling face, as rain sometimes falls
while the sun is shining.

"Yes," I repeated, with emphasis, "'of all responsibility in the
premises.' I hope that is plain English, and good English, although I
know that Mr. Hardinge has been trying to make you both so simple in
your language, that you turn up your noses at a profound sentiment,
whenever you hear one."

In 1797, the grandiose had by no means made the deep invasion into the
everyday language of the country, that it has since done. Anything of
the sublime, or of the recondite, school was a good deal more apt to
provoke a smile, than it is to-day--the improvement proceeding, as I
have understood through better judges than myself, from the great
melioration of mind and manners that is to be traced to the speeches
in congress, and to the profundities of the newspapers. Rupert,
however, frequently ornamented his ideas, and I may truly say
everything ambitious that adorned my discourse was derived from his
example. I almost thought Lucy impertinent for presuming to laugh at
sentiments which came from such a source, and, by way of settling my
own correctness of thought and terms, I made no bones of falling back
on my great authority, by fairly pointing him out.

"I thought so!" exclaimed Lucy, now laughing with all her heart,
though a little hysterically; "I thought so, for this is just like
Rupert, who is always talking to me about 'assuming the
responsibility,' and 'conclusions in the premises,' and all such
nonsense. Leave the boys to my father, Grace, and he will 'assume the
responsibility' of 'concluding the premises,' and the whole of the
foolish scheme along with it!"

This would have provoked me, had not Grace manifested so much sisterly
interest in my welfare that I was soon persuaded to tell
_her_--that minx Lucy overhearing every syllable, though I had
half a mind to tell her to go away--all about our project.

"You see," I continued, "if Mr. Hardinge knows anything about our
plan, people will say he ought to have stopped us. 'He a clergyman,
and not able to keep two lads of sixteen or seventeen from running
away and going to sea!' they will say, as if it were so easy to
prevent two spirited youths from seeing the world. Whereas, if he knew
nothing about it, nobody can blame him. That is what I call 'relieving
him from the responsibility.' Now, we intend to be off next week, or
as soon as the jackets and trowsers that are making for us, under the
pretence of being boat-dresses, are finished. We mean to go down the
river in the sail-boat, taking Neb with us to bring the boat back. Now
you know the whole story, there will be no occasion to leave a letter
for Mr. Hardinge; for, three hours after we have sailed, you can tell
him everything. We shall be gone a year; at the end of that time you
may look for us both, and glad enough shall we all be to see each
other. Rupert and I will be young men then, though you call us boys
now."

This last picture a good deal consoled the girls. Rupert, too, who had
unaccountably kept back, throwing the labouring-oar altogether on me,
came to the rescue, and, with his subtle manner and oily tongue, began
to make the wrong appear the right. I do not think he blinded his own
sister in the least, but I fear he had too much influence over mine.
Lucy, though all heart, was as much matter-of-fact as her brother was
a sophist. He was ingenious in glozing over truths; she, nearly
unerring in detecting them. I never knew a greater contrast between
two human beings, than there was between these two children of the
same parents, in this particular. I have heard that the son took after
the mother, in this respect, and that the daughter took after the
father; though Mrs. Hardinge died too early to have had any moral
influence on the character of her children.

We came again and again to the discussion of our subject during the
next two or three days. The girls endeavoured earnestly to persuade us
to ask Mr. Hardinge's permission for the step we were about to
undertake; but all in vain. We lads were so thoroughly determined to
"relieve the divine from all responsibility in the premises," that
they might as well have talked to stones. We knew these just-minded,
sincere, upright girls would not betray us, and continued obdurate to
the last. As we expected, as soon as convinced their importunities
were useless, they seriously set about doing all they could to render
us comfortable. They made us duck bags to hold our clothes, two each,
and mended our linen, stockings, &c., and even helped to procure us
some clothes more suited to the contemplated expedition than most of
those we already possessed. Our "long togs," indeed, we determined to
leave behind us, retaining just one suit each, and that of the
plainest quality. In the course of a week everything was ready, our
bags well lined, being concealed in the storehouse at the landing. Of
this building I could at any moment procure the key, my authority as
heir-apparent being very considerable, already, on the farm.

As for Neb, he was directed to have the boat all ready for the
succeeding Tuesday evening, it being the plan to sail the day after
the Wallingford of Clawbonny (this was the name of the sloop) had gone
on one of her regular trips, in order to escape a pursuit. I had made
all the calculations about the tide, and knew that the Wallingford
would go out about nine in the morning, leaving us to follow before
midnight. It was necessary to depart at night and when the wharf was
clear, in order to avoid observation.

Tuesday was an uneasy, nervous and sad day for us all, Mr. Hardinge
excepted. As the last had not the smallest distrust, he continued
calm, quiet, and cheerful as was his wont. Rupert had a
conscience-stricken and furtive air about him, while the eyes of the
two dear, girls were scarcely a moment without tears. Grace seemed now
the most composed of the two, and I have since suspected that she had
had a private conversation with my ingenious friend, whose convincing
powers were of a very extraordinary quality, when he set about their
use in downright earnest. As for Lucy, she seemed to me to have been
weeping the entire day.

At nine o'clock it was customary for the whole family to separate,
after prayers. Most of us went to bed at that early hour, though
Mr. Hardinge himself seldom sought his pillow until midnight. This
habit compelled us to use a good deal of caution in getting out of the
house, in which Rupert and myself succeeded, however, without
discovery, just as the clock struck eleven. We had taken leave of the
girls in a hasty manner, in a passage, shaking hands, and each of us
kissing his own sister, as he affected to retire for the night. To
own the truth, we were much gratified in finding how reasonably Grace
and Lucy behaved, on the occasion, and not a little surprised, for we
had expected a scene, particularly with the former.

We walked away from the house with heavy hearts, few leaving the
paternal roof for the first time, to enter upon the chances of the
world, without a deep sense of the dependence in which they had
hitherto lived. We walked fast and silently, and reached the wharf in
less than half an hour, a distance of near two miles. I was just on
the point of speaking to Neb, whose figure I could see in the boat,
when I caught a glimpse of two female forms within six feet of
me. There were Grace and Lucy, in tears, both waiting our arrival,
with a view to see us depart! I confess I was shocked and concerned at
seeing these two delicate girls so far from their home, at such an
hour; and my first impulse was to see them both safely back before I
would enter the boat; but to this neither would consent. All my
entreaties were thrown away, and I was obliged to submit.

I know not exactly how it happened, but of the fact I am certain; odd
as it may seem, at a moment like that, when about to separate, instead
of each youth's getting his own sister aside to make his last
speeches, and say his last say to, each of us got his friend's sister
aside. I do not mean that we were making love, or anything of the
sort; we were a little too young, perhaps, for that; but we obeyed an
impulse which, as Rupert would have said, "produced that result."

What passed between Grace and her companion, I do not know. As for
Lucy and myself, it was all plain-sailing and fair dealing. The
excellent creature forced on me six gold pieces, which I knew had come
to her as an heirloom from her mother, and which I had often heard her
declare she never meant to use, unless in the last extremity. She knew
I had but five dollars on earth, and that Rupert had not one; and she
offered me this gold. I told her Rupert had better take it; no,
_I_ had better take it. I should use it more prudently than
Rupert, and would use it for the good of both. "Besides, you are
rich," she said, smiling through her tears, "and can repay me--I
_lend_ them to you; to Rupert I should have to _give_ them."
I could not refuse the generous girl, and took the money, all
half-joes, with a determination to repay them with interest. Then I
folded her to my heart, and kissed her six or eight times with
fervour, the first time I had done such a thing in two years, and tore
myself away. I do not think Rupert embraced Grace, but I confess I do
not know, although we were standing within three or four yards of each
other, the whole time.

"Write, Miles--write, Rupert," said the sobbing girls leaning forward
from the wharf, as we shoved off. It was not so dark but we could see
their dear forms for several minutes, or until a bend in the creek put
a dark mass of earth between us and them.

Such was the manner of my departure from Clawbonny, in the month of
September, 1797. I wanted a few days of being seventeen; Rupert was
six months older, and Neb was his senior, again, by near a
twelvemonth. Everything was in the boat but our hearts. Mine, I can
truly say, remained with the two beloved creatures we left on the
wharf; while Rupert's was betwixt and between, I fancy--seldom
absolutely deserting the dear tenement in which it was encased by
nature.

CHAPTER III.

"There's a youth in this city, it were a great pity
That he from our lasses should wander awa';
For he's bonny and braw, weel-favoured witha',
And his hair has a natural buckle and a'.
His coat is the hue of his bonnet so blue;
His pocket is white as the new-driven snaw;
His hose they are blue, and his shoon like the slae,
And his clean siller buckles they dazzle us a'."
BURNS.

We had selected our time well, as respects the hour of departure. It
was young ebb, and the boat floated swiftly down the creek, though the
high banks of the latter would have prevented our feeling any wind,
even if there were a breeze on the river. Our boat was of some size,
sloop-rigged and half-decked; but Neb's vigorous arms made her move
through the water with some rapidity, and, to own the truth, the lad
sprang to his work like a true runaway negro. I was a skilful oarsman
myself, having received many lessons from my father in early boyhood,
and being in almost daily practice for seven mouths in the year. The
excitement of the adventure, its romance, or what for a short time
seemed to me to be romance, and the secret apprehension of being
detected, which I believe accompanies every clandestine undertaking,
soon set me in motion also. I took one of the oars, and, in less than
twenty minutes, the Grace & Lucy, for so the boat was called, emerged
from between two, high, steep banks, and entered on the broader bosom
of the Hudson.

Neb gave a half-suppressed, negro-like cry of exultation, as we shot
out from our cover, and ascertained that there was a pleasant and fair
breeze blowing. In three minutes we had the jib and mainsail on the
boat, the helm was up, the sheet was eased off, and we were gliding
down-stream at the rate of something like five miles an hour. I took
the helm, almost as a matter of course; Rupert being much too indolent
to do anything unnecessarily, while Neb was far too humble to aspire
to such an office while Master Miles was there, willing and ready. In
that day, indeed, it was so much a matter of course for the skipper of
a Hudson river craft to steer, that most of the people who lived on
the banks of the stream imagined that Sir John Jervis, Lord Anson, and
the other great English admirals of whom they had read and heard,
usually amused themselves with that employment, out on the ocean. I
remember the hearty laugh in which my unfortunate father indulged,
when Mr. Hardinge once asked him how he could manage to get any sleep,
on account of this very duty. But we were very green, up at Clawbonny,
in most things that related to the world.

The hour that succeeded was one of the most painful I ever passed in
my life. I recalled my father, his manly frankness, his liberal
bequests in my favour, and his precepts of respect and obedience; all
of which, it now seemed to me, I had openly dishonoured. Then came the
image of my mother, with her love and sufferings, her prayers, and her
mild but earnest exhortations to be good. I thought I could see both
these parents regarding me with sorrowful, though not with reproachful
countenances. They appeared to be soliciting my return, with a species
of silent, but not the less eloquent, warnings of the consequences.
Grace and Lucy, and their sobs, and admonitions, and entreaties to
abandon my scheme, and to write, and not to remain away long, and all
that tender interest had induced two warm-hearted girls to utter at
our parting, came fresh and vividly to my mind. The recollection
proved nearly too much for me. Nor did I forget Mr. Hardinge, and the
distress he would certainly feel, when he discovered that he had not
only lost his ward, but his only son. Then Clawbonny itself, the
house, the orchards, the meadows, the garden, the mill, and all that
belonged to the farm, began to have a double value in my eyes, and to
serve as so many cords attached to my heart-strings, and to remind me
that the rover

"Drags at each remove a lengthening chain.'"

I marvelled at Rupert's tranquility. I did not then understand his
character as thoroughly as I subsequently got to know it. All that he
most prized was with him in the boat, in fact, and this lessened his
grief at parting from less beloved objects. Where Rupert was, there
was his paradise. As for Neb, I do believe his head was over his
shoulder, for he affected to sit with his face down-stream, so long as
the hills that lay in the rear of Clawbonny could be at all
distinguished. This must have proceeded from tradition, or instinct,
or some latent negro quality; for I do not think the fellow fancied
_he_ was running away. He knew that his two young masters were;
but he was fully aware he was my property, and no doubt thought, as
long as he staid in my company, he was in the line of his legitimate
duty. Then it was _my_ plan that he should return with the boat,
and perhaps these backward glances were no more than the shadows of
coming events, cast, in his case, _behind_.

Rupert was indisposed to converse, for, to tell the truth, he had
eaten a hearty supper, and began to feel drowsy; and I was too much
wrapped up in my own busy thoughts to solicit any communications. I
found a sort of saddened pleasure in setting a watch for the night,
therefore, which had an air of seaman-like duty about it, that in a
slight degree revived my old taste for the profession. It was
midnight, and I took the first watch myself, bidding my two companions
to crawl under the half-deck, and go to sleep. This they both did
without any parley, Rupert occupying an inner place, while Neb lay
with his legs exposed to the night air.

The breeze freshened, and for some time I thought it might be
necessary to reef, though we were running dead before the wind. I
succeeded in holding on, however, and I found the Grace & Lucy was
doing wonders in my watch. When I gave Rupert his call at four
o'clock, the boat was just approaching two frowning mountains, where
the river was narrowed to a third or fourth of its former width; and,
by the appearance of the shores, and the dim glimpses I had caught of
a village of no great size on the right bank, I knew we were in what
is called Newburgh Bay. This was the extent of our former journeyings
south, all three of us having once before, and only once, been as low
as Fishkill Landing, which lies opposite to the place that gives this
part of the river its name.

Rupert now took the helm, and I went to sleep. The wind still
continued fresh and fair, and I felt no uneasiness on account of the
boat. It is true, there were two parts of the navigation before us of
which I had thought a little seriously, but not sufficiently so to
keep me awake. These were the Race, a passage in the Highlands, and
Tappan Sea; both points on the Hudson of which the navigators of that
classical stream were fond of relating the marvels. The first I knew
was formidable only later in the autumn, and, as for the last, I hoped
to enjoy some of its wonders in the morning. In this very justifiable
expectation, I fell asleep.

Neb did not call me until ten o'clock. I afterwards discovered that
Rupert kept the helm for only an hour, and then, calculating that from
five until nine were four hours, he thought it a pity the negro should
not have his share of the glory of that night. When I was awakened, it
was merely to let me know that it was time to eat something--Neb
would have starved before he would precede his young master in that
necessary occupation--and I found Rupert in a deep and pleasant sleep
at my side.

We were in the centre of Tappan, and the Highlands had been passed in
safety. Neb expatiated a little on the difficulties of the navigation,
the river having many windings, besides being bounded by high
mountains; but, after all, he admitted that there was water enough,
wind enough, and a road that was plain enough. From this moment,
excitement kept us wide awake. Everything was new, and everything
seemed delightful. The day was pleasant, the wind continued fair, and
nothing occurred to mar our joy. I had a little map, one neither
particularly accurate, nor very well engraved; and I remember the
importance with which, after having ascertained the fact myself, I
pointed out to my two companions the rocky precipices on the western
bank, as New Jersey! Even-Rupert was struck with this important
circumstance. As for Neb, he was actually in ecstasies, rolling his
large black eyes, and showing his white teeth, until he suddenly
closed his truly coral and plump lips, to demand what New Jersey
meant? Of course I gratified this laudable desire to obtain knowledge,
and Neb seemed still more pleased than ever, now he had ascertained
that New Jersey was a State. Travelling was not as much of an
every-day occupation, at that time, as it is now; and it was, in
truth, something for three American lads, all under nineteen, to be
able to say that they had seen a State, other than their own.

Notwithstanding the rapid progress we had made for the first few hours
of our undertaking, the voyage was far from being ended. About noon
the wind came out light from the southward, and, having a flood-tide,
we were compelled to anchor. This made us all uneasy, for, while we
were stationary, we did not seem to be running away. The ebb came
again, at length, however, and then we made sail, and began to turn
down with the tide. It was near sunset before we got a view of the two
or three spires that then piloted strangers to the town. New York was
not the "commercial emporium" in 1796; so high-sounding a title,
indeed, scarce belonging to the simple English of the period, it
requiring a very great collection of half-educated men to venture on
so ambitious an appellation--the only emporium that existed in
America, during the last century, being a slop-shop in Water street,
and on the island of Manhattan. _Commercial_ emporium was a
flight of fancy, indeed, that must have required a whole board of
aldermen, and an extra supply of turtle, to sanction. What is meant by
a _literary_ emporium, I leave those editors who are "native and
to the _manor_ born," to explain.

We first saw the State Prison, which was then new, and a most imposing
edifice, according to our notions, as we drew near the town. Like the
gallows first seen by a traveller in entering a strange country, it
was a pledge of civilization. Neb shook his head, as he gazed at it,
with a moralizing air, and said it had a "wicked look." For myself, I
own I did not regard it altogether without dread. On Rupert it made
less impression than on any of the three. He was always somewhat
obtuse on the subject of morals.[*]

[Footnote *: It may be well to tell the European who shall happen to
read this book, that in America a "State's Prison" is not for
prisoners of State, but for common rogues: the term coming from the
name borne by the local governments.]

New York, in that day, and on the Hudson side of the town, commenced a
short distance above Duane street. Between Greenwich, as the little
hamlet around the State Prison was called, and the town proper, was an
interval of a mile and a half of open fields, dotted here and there
with country-houses. Much of this space was in broken hills, and a few
piles of lumber lay along the shores. St. John's church had no
existence, and most of the ground in its vicinity was in low swamp. As
we glided along the wharves, we caught sight of the first market I had
then ever seen--such proofs of an advanced civilization not having yet
made their way into the villages of the interior. It was called "The
Bear," from the circumstance that the first meat ever exposed for sale
in it was of that animal; but the appellation has disappeared before
the intellectual refinement of these later times--the name of the
soldier and statesman, Washington, having fairly supplanted that of
the bear! Whether this great moral improvement was brought about by
the Philosophical Society, or the Historical Society, or "The
Merchants," or the Aldermen of New York, I have never ascertained. If
the latter, one cannot but admire their disinterested modesty in
conferring this notable honour on the Father of his country, inasmuch
as all can see that there never has been a period when their own board
has not possessed distinguished members, every way qualified to act as
god-fathers to the most illustrious markets of the republic. But
Manhattan, in the way of taste, has never had justice done it. So
profound is its admiration for all the higher qualities, that Franklin
and Fulton have each a market to himself, in addition to this bestowed
on Washington. Doubtless there would have been Newton Market, and
Socrates Market, and Solomon Market, but for the patriotism of the
town, which has forbidden it from going out of the hemisphere, in
quest of names to illustrate. Bacon Market would doubtless have been
too equivocal to be tolerated, under any circumstances. Then Bacon was
a rogue, though a philosopher, and markets are always appropriated to
honest people. At all events, I am rejoiced the reproach of having a
market called "The Bear" has been taken away, as it was tacitly
admitting our living near, if not absolutely in, the woods.

We passed the Albany basin, a large receptacle for North River craft,
that is now in the bosom of the town and built on, and recognized in
it the mast-head of the Wallingford. Neb was shown the place, for he
was to bring the boat round to it, and join the sloop, in readiness to
return in her. We rounded the Battery, then a circular stripe of
grass, with an earthen and wooden breastwork running along the margin
of the water, leaving a narrow promenade on the exterior. This
brought us to White-Hall, since so celebrated for its oarsmen, where
we put in for a haven. I had obtained the address of a better sort of
sailor-tavern in that vicinity, and, securing the boat, we shouldered
the bags, got a boy to guide us, and were soon housed. As it was near
night, Rupert and I ordered supper, and Neb was directed to pull the
boat round to the sloop, and to return to us in the morning; taking
care, however, not to let our lodgings be known.

The next day, I own I thought but little of the girls, Clawbonny, or
Mr. Hardinge. Neb was at my bed-side before I was up, and reported the
Grace & Lucy safe alongside of the Wallingford, and expressed himself
ready to wait on me in my progress in quest of a ship. As this was the
moment of action, little was said, but we all breakfasted, and sallied
forth, in good earnest, on the important business before us. Neb was
permitted to follow, but at such a distance as to prevent his being
suspected of belonging to our party--a gentleman, with a serving-man
at his heels, not being the candidate most likely to succeed in his
application for a berth in the forecastle.

So eager was I to belong to some sea-going craft, that I would not
stop even to look at the wonders of the town, before we took the
direction of the wharves. Rupert was for pursuing a different policy,
having an inherent love of the genteeler gaieties of a town, but I
turned a deaf ear to his hints, and this time I was master. He
followed me with some reluctance, but follow he did, after some
remonstrances that bordered on warmth. Any inexperienced eye that had
seen us passing, would have mistaken us for two well-looking, smart
young sailor-boys, who had just returned from a profitable voyage, and
who, well-clad, tidy and semi-genteel, were strolling along the
wharves as _admirateurs_, not to say critics, of the craft.
_Admirateurs_ we were, certainly, or _I_ was, at least;
though knowledge was a point on which we Were sadly deficient.

The trade of America was surprisingly active in 1797. It had been
preyed upon by the two great belligerents of the period, England and
France, it is true; and certain proceedings of the latter nation were
about to bring the relations of the two countries into a very
embarrassed state; but still the shipping interest was wonderfully
active, and, as a whole, singularly successful. Almost every tide
brought in or took out ships for foreign ports, and scarce a week
passed that vessels did not arrive from, or sail for, all the
different quarters of the world. An Indiaman, however, was our object;
the voyage being longer, the ships better, and the achievement
greater, than merely to cross the Atlantic and return. We accordingly
proceeded towards the Fly Market, in the vicinity of which, we had
been given to understand, some three or four vessels of that
description were fitting out. This market has since used its wings to
disappear, altogether.

I kept my eyes on every ship we passed. Until the previous day, I had
never seen a square-rigged vessel; and no enthusiast in the arts ever
gloated on a fine picture or statue with greater avidity than my soul
drank in the wonder and beauty of every ship I passed. I had a large,
full-rigged model at Clawbonny; and this I had studied under my father
so thoroughly, as to know the name of every rope in it, and to have
some pretty distinct notions of their uses. This early schooling was
now of great use to me, though I found it a little difficult, at
first, to trace my old acquaintances on the large scale in which they
now presented themselves, and amid the intricate mazes that were drawn
against the skies. The braces, shrouds, stays and halyards, were all
plain enough, and I could point to either, at a moment's notice; but
when it came to the rest of the running rigging, I found it necessary
to look a little, before I could speak with certainty.

Eager as I was to ship, the indulgence of gazing at all I saw was so
attractive, that it was noon before we reached an Indiaman. This was a
pretty little ship of about four hundred tons, that was called the
John. Little I say, for such she would now be thought, though a vessel
of her size was then termed large. The Manhattan, much the largest
ship out of the port, measured but about seven hundred tons; while few
even of the Indiamen went much beyond five hundred. I can see the
John at this moment, near fifty years after I first laid eyes on her,
as she then appeared. She was not bright-sided, but had a narrow,
cream-coloured streak, broken into ports. She was a straight,
black-looking craft, with a handsome billet, low, thin bulwarks, and
waistcloths secured to ridge-ropes. Her larger spars were painted the
same colour as her streak, and her stern had a few ornaments of a
similar tint.

We went on board the John, where we found the officers just topping
off with the riggers and stevedores, having stowed all the provisions
and water, and the mere trifle of cargo she carried. The mate, whose
name was Marble, and a well-veined bit of marble he was, his face
resembling a map that had more rivers drawn on it than the land could
feed, winked at the captain and nodded his head towards us as soon as
we met his eye. The latter smiled, but did not speak.

"Walk this way, gentlemen--walk this way, if you please," said
Mr. Marble, encouragingly, passing a ball of spun-yarn, all the while,
to help a rigger serve a rope. "When did you leave the country?"

This produced a general laugh, even the yellow rascal of a mulatto,
who was passing into the cabin with some crockery, grinning in our
faces at this salutation. I saw it was now or never, and determined
not to be brow-beaten, while I was too truthful to attempt to pass for
that I was not.

"We left home last night, thinking to be in time to find berths in one
of the Indiamen that is to sail this week."

"Not _this_ week, my son--not till _next_," said Mr. Marble,
jocularly. "Sunday is _the_ day. We run from Sunday to Sunday--the
better day, the better deed, you know. How did you leave father and
mother?"

"I have neither," I answered, almost choked. "My mother died a few
months since, and my father, Captain Wallingford, has now been dead
some years."

The master of the John was a man of about fifty, red-faced,
hard-looking, pock-marked, square-rigged, and of an exterior that
promised anything but sentiment. Feeling, however, he did manifest,
the moment I mentioned my father's name. He ceased his employment,
came close to me, gazed earnestly in my face, and even looked kind.

"Are you a son of Captain Miles Wallingford?" he asked in a low
voice--"of Miles Wallingford, from up the river?"

"I am, sir; his only son. He left but two of us, a son and a daughter;
and, though under no necessity to work at all, I wish to make this
Miles Wallingford as good a seaman as the last, and, I hope, as honest
a man."

This was said manfully, and with a spirit that must have pleased; for
I was shaken cordially by the hand, welcomed on board, invited into
the cabin, and asked to take a seat at a table on which the dinner had
just been placed. Rupert, of course, shared in all these favours. Then
followed the explanations. Captain Robbins, of the John, had first
gone to sea with my father, for whom I believe he entertained a
profound respect. He had even served with him once as mate, and talked
as if he felt that he had been under obligations to him. He did not
question me very closely, seeming to think it natural enough that
Miles Wallingford's only son should wish to be a seaman.

As we sat at the table, even, it was agreed that Rupert and I should
join the ship, as green hands, the very next morning, signing the
articles as soon as we went on shore. This was done accordingly, and
I had the felicity of writing Miles Wallingford to the roll
d'equipage, to the tune of eighteen dollars per month--seamen then
actually receiving thirty and thirty-five dollars per month--wages.
Rupert was taken also, though Captain Robbins cut _him_ down to
thirteen dollars, saying, in a jesting way, that a parson's son could
hardly be worth as much as the son of one of the best old ship-masters
who ever sailed out of America. He was a shrewd observer of men and
things, this new friend of mine, and I believe understood "by the cut
of his jib" that Rupert was not likely to make a weather-earing
man. The money, however, was not of much account in our calculations;
and lucky enough did I think myself in finding so good a berth, almost
as soon as looked for. We returned to the tavern and staid that night,
taking a formal leave of Neb, who was to carry the good news home, as
soon as the sloop should sail.

In the morning a cart was loaded with our effects, the bill was
discharged, and we left the tavern. I had the precaution not to go
directly alongside the ship. On the contrary, we proceeded to an
opposite part of the town, placing the bags on a wharf resorted to by
craft from New Jersey, as if we intended to go on board one of
them. The cartman took his quarter, and drove off, troubling himself
very little about the future movements of two young sailors. Waiting
half an hour, another cart was called, when we went to the John, and
were immediately installed in her forecastle. Captain Robbins had
provided us both with chests, paid for out of the three months'
advance, and in them we found the slops necessary for so long a
voyage. Rupert and I immediately put on suits of these new clothes,
with regular little round tarpaulins, which so much altered us in
appearance, even from those produced by our Ulster county fittings,
that we scarce knew each other.

Rupert now went on deck to lounge and smoke a segar, while I went
aloft, visiting every yard, and touching all three of the trucks,
before I returned from this, my exploring expedition. The captain and
mates and riggers smiled at my movements, and I overheard the former
telling his mate that I was "old Miles over again." In a word, all
parties seemed pleased with the arrangement that had been made; I had
told the officers aft of my knowledge of the names and uses of most of
the ropes; and never did I feel so proud as when Mr. Marble called
out, in a loud tone--

"D'ye hear there, Miles--away aloft and unreeve them fore-top-gallant
halyards, and send an end down to haul up this new rope, to reeve a
fresh set."

Away I went, my head buzzing with the complicated order, and yet I had
a very tolerable notion of what was to be done. The unreeving might
have been achieved by any one, and I got through with that without
difficulty; and, the mate himself helping me and directing me from the
deck, the new rope was rove with distinguished success. This was the
first duty I ever did in a ship, and I was prouder of it than of any
that was subsequently performed by the same individual. The whole time
I was thus occupied, Rupert stood lounging against the foot of the
main-stay, smoking his segar like a burgomaster. His turn came next,
however, the captain sending for him to the cabin, where he set him at
work to copy some papers. Rupert wrote a beautiful hand, and he wrote
rapidly. That evening I heard the chief-mate tell the dickey that the
parson's son was likely to turn out a regular "barber's clerk" to the
captain. "The old man," he added, "makes so many traverses himself on
a bit of paper, that he hardly knows at which end to begin to read it;
and I shouldn't wonder if he just stationed this chap, with a quill
behind his ear, for the v'y'ge."

For the next two or three days I was delightfully busy, passing half
the time aloft. All the sails were to be bent, and I had my full share
in the performance of this duty. I actually furled the mizen-royal
with my own hands--the ship carrying standing royals--and it was said
to be very respectably done; a little rag-baggish in the bunt,
perhaps, but secured in a way that took the next fellow who touched
the gasket five minutes to cast the sail loose. Then it rained, and
sails were to be loosened to dry. I let everything fall forward with
my own hands, and, when we came to roll up the canvass again, I
actually managed all three of the royals alone; one at a time, of
course. My father had taught me to make a flat-knot, a bowline, a
clove-hitch, two half-hitches, and such sort of things; and I got
through with both a long and a short splice tolerably well. I found
all this, and the knowledge I had gained from my model-ship at home of
great use to me; so much so, indeed, as to induce even that indurated
bit of mortality, Marble, to say I "was the ripest piece of green
stuff he had ever fallen in with."

All this time, Rupert was kept at quill-driving. Once he got leave to
quit the ship--it was the day before we sailed--and I observed he went
ashore in his long-togs, of which each of us had one suit. I stole
away the same afternoon to find the post-office, and worked up-stream
as far as Broadway, not knowing exactly which way to shape my course.
In that day, everybody who was anybody, and unmarried, promenaded the
west side of this street, from the Battery to St. Paul's Church,
between the hours of twelve and half-past two, wind and weather
permitting. There I saw Rupert, in his country guise, nothing
remarkable, of a certainty, strutting about with the best of them, and
looking handsome in spite of his rusticity. It was getting late, and
he left the street just as I saw him. I followed, waiting until we got
to a private place before I would speak to him, however, as I knew he
would be mortified to be taken for the friend of a Jack-tar, in such a
scene.

Rupert entered a door, and then reappeared with a letter in his
hand. He, too, had gone to the post-office, and I no longer hesitated
about joining him.

"Is it from Clawbonny?" I asked, eagerly. "If so, from Lucy,
doubtless?"

"From Clawbonny--but from Grace," he answered, with a slight change of
colour. "I desired the poor girl to let me know how things passed off,
after we left them; and as for Lucy, her pot-hooks are so much out of
the way, I never want to see them."

I felt hurt, offended, that my sister should write to any youngster
but myself. It is true, the letter was to a bosom friend, a
co-adventurer, one almost a child of the same family; and I had come
to the office expecting to get a letter from Rupert's sister, who had
promised, while weeping on the wharf, to do exactly the same thing for
me; but there _is_ a difference between one's sister writing to
another young man, and another young man's sister writing to
oneself. I cannot even now explain it; but that there _is_ a
difference I am sure. Without asking to see a line that Grace had
written, I went into the office, and returned in a minute or two, with
an air of injured dignity, holding Lucy's epistle in my hand.

After all, there was nothing in either letter to excite much
sensibility. Each was written with the simplicity, truth and feeling
of a generous-minded, warm-hearted female friend, of an age not to
distrust her own motives, to a lad who bad no right to view the favour
other than it was, as an evidence of early and intimate friendship.
Both epistles are now before me, and I copy them, as the shortest way
of letting the reader know the effect our disappearance had produced
at Clawbonny. That of Grace was couched in the following terms:

DEAR RUPERT:

Clawbonny was in commotion at nine o'clock this morning, and well it
might be! When your father's anxiety got to be painful, I told him the
whole, and gave him the letters. I am sorry to say, he wept. I wish
never to see such a sight again. The tears of two such silly girls as
Lucy and I, are of little account--but, Rupert, to behold an aged man
we love and respect like him, a minister of the gospel too, in tears!
It was a hard sight to bear. He did not reproach us for our silence,
saying he did not see, after our promises, how we could well do
otherwise. I gave your reasons about "responsibility in the premises;"
but I don't think he understood them. Is it too late to return? The
boat that carried you down can bring you back; and oh! how much
rejoiced shall we all be to see you! Wherever you go, and whatever you
do, boys, for I write as much to one as to the other, and only address
to Rupert because he so earnestly desired it; but wherever you go, and
whatever you do, remember the instructions you have both received in
youth, and how much all of us are interested in your conduct and
happiness.

Affectionately, yours,

GRACE WALLINGFORD.

To Mr. Rupert Hardinge.

Lucy had been less guarded, and possibly a little more honest. She
wrote as follows:

DEAR MILES:

I believe I cried for one whole hour after you and Rupert left us,
and, now it is all over, I am vexed at having cried so much about two
such foolish fellows. Grace has told you all about my dear, dear
father, who cried too. I declare, I don't know when I was so
frightened! I thought it _must_ bring you back, as soon as you
hear of it. What will be done, I do not know; but _something_, I
am certain Whenever father is in earnest, he says but little. I know
he is in earnest _now_. I believe Grace and I do nothing but
think of you; that is, she of _you_, and I of Rupert; and a
little the other way, too--so now you have the whole truth. Do not
fail, on any account, to write before you go to sea, if you _do_
go to sea, as I hope and trust you will not.

Good-bye.

LUCY HARDINGE.

To Mr. Miles Wallingford.

P.S. Neb's mother protests, if the boy is not home by Saturday night,
she will go after him. No such disgrace as a runaway ever befel her or
hers, and she says she will not submit to it. But I suppose we shall
see _him_ soon, and with him _letters_.

Now, Neb had taken his leave, but no letter had been trusted to his
care. As often happens, I regretted the mistake when it was too late;
and all that day I thought how disappointed Lucy would be, when she
came to see the negro empty-handed. Rupert and I parted in the street,
as he did not wish to walk with a sailor, while in his own long-togs.
He did not _say_ as much; but I knew him well enough to ascertain
it, without his speaking. I was walking very fast in the direction of
the ship, and had actually reached the wharves, when, in turning a
corner, I came plump upon Mr. Hardinge. My guardian was walking
slowly, his face sorrowful and dejected, and his eyes fastened on
every ship he passed, as if looking for his boys. He saw me, casting a
vacant glance over my person; but I was so much changed by dress, and
particularly by the little tarpaulin, that he did not know me. Anxiety
immediately drew his look towards the vessels, and I passed him
unobserved. Mr. Hardinge was walking _from_, and I _towards_
the John, and of course all my risk terminated as soon as out of
sight.

That evening I had the happiness of being under-way, in a real
full-rigged ship. It is true, it was under very short canvass, and
merely to go into the stream. Taking advantage of a favourable wind
and tide, the John left the wharf under her jib, main-top-mast
staysail, and spanker, and dropped down as low as the Battery, when
she sheered into the other channel and anchored. Here I was, then,
fairly at anchor in the stream, Half a mile from any land but the
bottom, and burning to see the ocean. That afternoon the crew came on
board, a motley collection, of lately drunken seamen, of whom about
half were Americans, and the rest natives of as many different
countries as there were men. Mr. Marble scanned them with a knowing
look, and, to my surprise, he told the captain there was good stuff
among them. It seems he was a better judge than I was myself, for a
more unpromising set of wretches, as to looks, I never saw grouped
together. A few, it is true, appeared well enough; but most of them
had the air of having been dragged through--a place I will not name,
though it is that which sailors usually quote when describing
themselves on such occasions. But Jack, after he has been a week at
sea, and Jack coming on board to duty, after a month of excesses on
shore, are very different creatures, morally and physically.

I now began to regret that I had not seen a little of the town. In
1797, New York could not have had more than fifty thousand
inhabitants, though it was just as much of a paragon then, in the eyes
of all good Americans, as it is today. It is a sound patriotic rule
to maintain that _our_ best is always _the_ best, for it
never puts us in the wrong. I have seen enough of the world since to
understand that we get a great many things wrong-end foremost, in this
country of ours; undervaluing those advantages and excellencies of
which we have great reason to be proud, and boasting of others that,
to say the least, are exceedingly equivocal. But it takes time to
learn all this, and I have no intention of getting ahead of my story,
or of my country; the last being a most suicidal act.

We received the crew of a Saturday afternoon, and half of them turned
in immediately. Rupert and I had a good berth, intending to turn in
and out together, during the voyage; and this made us rather
indifferent to the movements of the rest of our extraordinary
associates. The kid, at supper, annoyed us both a little; the notion
of seeing one's food in a round _trough_, to be tumbled over and
cut from by all hands, being particularly disagreeable to those who
have been accustomed to plates, knives and forks, and such other
superfluities. I confess I thought of Grace's and Lucy's little white
hands, and of silver sugrar-toogs, and of clean plates and glasses,
and table-cloths--napkins and silver forks were then unknown in
America, except on the very best tables, and not always on them,
unless on high days and holidays--as we were going through the
unsophisticated manipulations of this first supper. Forty-seven years
have elapsed, and the whole scene is as vivid to my mind at this
moment, as if it occurred last night. I wished myself one of the
long-snouted tribe, several times, in order to be in what is called
"keeping."

I had the honour of keeping an anchor-watch in company with a grum old
Swede, as we lay in the Hudson. The wind was light, and the ship had a
good berth, so my associate chose a soft plank, told me to give him a
call should anything happen, and lay down to sleep away his two hours
in comfort. Not so with me. I strutted the deck with as much
importance as if the weight of the State lay on my shoulders--paid a
visit every five minutes to the bows, to see that the cable had not
parted, and that the anchor did not "come home"--and then looked
aloft, to ascertain that everything was in its place. Those were a
happy two hours!

About ten next morning, being Sunday, and, as Mr. Marble expressed it,
"the better day, the better deed," the pilot came off, and all hands
were called to "up anchor." The cook, cabin-boy, Rupert and I, were
entrusted with the duty of "fleeting jig" and breaking down the coils
of the cable, the handspikes requiring heavier hands than ours. The
anchor was got in without any difficulty, however, when Rupert and I
were sent aloft to loose the fore-top-sail. Rupert got into the top
via the lubber's hole, I am sorry to say, and the loosing of the sail
on both yard-arms fell to my duty. A hand was on the fore-yard, and I
was next ordered up to loose the top-gallant-sail. Canvass began to
fall and open all over the ship, the top-sails were mast-headed, and,
as I looked down from the fore-top-mast cross-trees, where I remained
to overhaul the clew-lines, I saw that the ship was falling off, and
that her sails were filling with a stiff north-west breeze. Just as my
whole being was entranced with the rapture of being under-way for
Canton, which was then called the Indies, Rupert called out to me from
the top. Ha was pointing at some object on the water, and, turning, I
saw a boat within a hundred feet of the ship. In her was Mr.
Hardinge, who at that moment caught sight of us. But the ship's sails
were now all full, and no one on deck saw, or at least heeded, the
boat. The John glided past it, and, the last I saw of my venerated
guardian, he was standing erect, bare-headed, holding both arms
extended, as if entreating us not to desert him! Presently the ship
fell off so much, that the after-sails hid him from my view.

I descended into the top, where I found Rupert had shrunk down out of
sight, looking frightened and guilty. As for myself, I got behind the
head of the mast, and fairly sobbed. This lasted a few minutes, when
an order from the mate called us both below. When I reached the deck,
the boat was already a long distance astern, and had evidently given
up the idea of boarding us. I do not know whether I felt the most
relieved or pained by the certainty of this fact.

CHAPTER IV.

"There is a tide in the affairs of men,
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows, and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat;
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures."
Brutus--Julius Caesar.

In four hours from the time when Rupert and I last saw Mr. Hardinge,
the ship was at sea. She crossed the bar, and started on her long
journey, with a fresh north-wester, and with everything packed on that
she would bear. We took a diagonal course out of the bight formed by
the coasts of Long Island and New Jersey, and sunk the land entirely
by the middle of the afternoon. I watched the highlands of Navesink,
as they vanished like watery clouds in the west, and then I felt I was
at last fairly out of sight of land. But a foremast hand has little
opportunity for indulging in sentimen, as he quits his native shore;
and few, I fancy, have the disposition. As regards the opportunity,
anchors are to be got in off the bows, and stowed; cables are to be
unbent and coiled down; studding-gear is to be hauled out and got
ready; frequently boom-irons are to be placed upon the yards, and the
hundred preparations made, that render the work of a ship as ceaseless

Book of the day: