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or, The Chase.
A Tale of the Sea.
By J. Fenimore Cooper.
"Is 't not strange, Canidius.
That from Tarentum and Brundusium
He could so quickly cut the Ionian Sea,
and take in Toryne."--SHAKSPEARE.
Complete in One Volume.
Published by Hurd and Houghton,
Cambridge: Riverside Press.
In one respect, this book is a parallel to Franklin's well-known apologue
of the hatter and his sign. It was commenced with a sole view to exhibit
the present state of society in the United States, through the agency, in
part, of a set of characters with different peculiarities, who had freshly
arrived from Europe, and to whom the distinctive features of the country
would be apt to present themselves with greater force, than to those who
had never lived beyond the influence of the things portrayed. By the
original plan, the work was to open at the threshold of the country, or
with the arrival of the travellers at Sandy Hook, from which point the
tale was to have been carried regularly forward to its conclusion. But a
consultation with others has left little more of this plan than the
hatter's friends left of his sign. As a vessel was introduced in the first
chapter, the cry was for "more ship," until the work has become "all
ship;" it actually closing at, or near, the spot where it was originally
intended it should commence. Owing to this diversion from the author's
design--a design that lay at the bottom of all his projects--a necessity
has been created of running the tale through two separate works, or of
making a hurried and insufficient conclusion. The former scheme has,
consequently, been adopted.
It is hoped that the interest of the narrative will not be essentially
diminished by this arrangement.
There will be, very likely, certain imaginative persons, who will feel
disposed to deny that every minute event mentioned in these volumes ever
befell one and the same ship, though ready enough to admit that they may
very well have occurred to several different ships: a mode of commenting
that is much in favour with your small critic. To this objection, we shall
make but a single answer. The caviller, if any there should prove to be,
is challenged to produce the log-book of the Montauk, London packet, and
if it should be found to contain a single sentence to controvert any one
of our statements or facts, a frank recantation shall be made. Captain
Truck is quite as well known in New York as in London or Portsmouth, and
to him also we refer with confidence, for a confirmation of all we have
said, with the exception, perhaps, of the little occasional touches of
character that may allude directly to himself. In relation to the latter,
Mr. Leach, and particularly Mr. Saunders, are both invoked as
Most of our readers will probably know that all which appears in a New
York journal is not necessarily as true as the Gospel. As some slight
deviations from the facts accidentally occur, though doubtless at very
long intervals, it should not be surprising that they sometimes omit
circumstances that are quite as veracious as anything they do actually
utter to the world. No argument, therefore, can justly be urged against
the incidents of this story, on account of the circumstance of their not
being embodied in the regular marine news of the day.
Another serious objection on the part of the American reader to this work
is foreseen. The author has endeavoured to interest his readers in
occurrences of a date as antiquated as two years can make them, when he is
quite aware, that, in order to keep pace with a state of society in which
there was no yesterday, it would have been much safer to anticipate
things, by laying his scene two years in advance. It is hoped, however,
that the public sentiment will not be outraged by this glimpse at
antiquity, and this the more so, as the sequel of the tale will bring down
events within a year of the present moment.
Previously to the appearance of that sequel, however, it may be well to
say a few words concerning the fortunes of some of our _characters_, as it
might be _en attendant_.
To commence with the most important: the Montauk herself, once deemed so
"splendid" and convenient, is already supplanted in the public favour by a
new ship; the reign of a popular packet, a popular preacher, or a popular
anything-else, in America, being limited by a national _esprit de corps_,
to a time materially shorter than that of a lustre. This, however, is no
more than just; rotation in favour being as evidently a matter of
constitutional necessity, as rotation in office.
Captain Truck, for a novelty, continues popular, a circumstance that he
himself ascribes to the fact of his being still a bachelor.
Toast is promoted, figuring at the head of a pantry quite equal to that of
his great master, who regards his improvement with some such eyes as
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden regarded that of his great rival Peter,
after the affair of Pultowa.
Mr. Leach now smokes his own cigar, and issues his own orders from a
monkey rail, his place in the line being supplied by his former "Dickey."
He already speaks of his great model, as of one a little antiquated it is
true, but as a man who had merit in his time, though it was not the
particular merit that is in fashion to-day.
Notwithstanding these little changes, which are perhaps inseparable from
the events of a period so long as two years in a country as energetic as
America, and in which nothing seems to be stationary but the ages of
Tontine nominees and three-life leases, a cordial esteem was created among
the principal actors in the events of this book, which is likely to
outlast the passage, and which will not fail to bring most of them
together again in the sequel.
An inner room I have,
Where thou shalt rest and some refreshment take,
And then we will more fully talk of this
The coast of England, though infinitely finer than our own, is more
remarkable for its verdure, and for a general appearance of civilisation,
than for its natural beauties. The chalky cliffs may seem bold and noble
to the American, though compared to the granite piles that buttress the
Mediterranean they are but mole-hills; and the travelled eye seeks
beauties instead, in the retiring vales, the leafy hedges, and the
clustering towns that dot the teeming island. Neither is Portsmouth a very
favourable specimen of a British port, considered solely in reference to
the picturesque. A town situated on a humble point, and fortified after
the manner of the Low Countries, with an excellent haven, suggests more
images of the useful than of the pleasing; while a background of modest
receding hills offers little beyond the verdant swales of the country. In
this respect England itself has the fresh beauty of youth, rather than the
mellowed hues of a more advanced period of life; or it might be better to
say, it has the young freshness and retiring sweetness that distinguish
her females, as compared with the warmer tints of Spain and Italy, and
which, women and landscape alike, need the near view to be appreciated.
Some such thoughts as these passed through the mind of the traveller who
stood on the deck of the packet Montauk, resting an elbow on the
quarter-deck rail, as he contemplated the view of the coast that stretched
before him east and west for leagues. The manner in which this gentleman,
whose temples were sprinkled with grey hairs, regarded the scene, denoted
more of the thoughtfulness of experience, and of tastes improved by
observation, than it is usual to meet amid the bustling and common-place
characters that compose the majority in almost every situation of life.
The calmness of his exterior, an air removed equally from the admiration
of the novice and the superciliousness of the tyro, had, indeed, so
strongly distinguished him from the moment he embarked in London to that
in which he was now seen in the position mentioned, that several of the
seamen swore he was a man-of-war's-man in disguise. The fair-haired,
lovely, blue-eyed girl at his side, too seemed a softened reflection of
all his sentiment, intelligence, knowledge, tastes, and cultivation,
united to the artlessness and simplicity that became her sex and years.
"We have seen nobler coasts, Eve," said the gentleman, pressing the arm
that leaned on his own; "but, after all England will always be fair to
"More particularly so if those eyes first opened to the light in the
eighteenth century, father."
"You, at least, my child, have been educated beyond the reach of national
foibles, whatever may have been my own evil fortune; and still, I think
even you have seen a great deal to admire in this country, as well as in
Eve Effingham glanced a moment towards the eye of her father, and
perceiving that he spoke in playfulness, without suffering a cloud to
shadow a countenance that usually varied with her emotions, she continued
the discourse, which had, in fact, only been resumed by the remark first
"I have been educated, as it is termed, in so many different places and
countries," returned Eve, smiling, "that I sometimes fancy I was born a
woman, like my great predecessor and namesake, the mother of Abel. If a
congress of nations, in the way of masters, can make one independent of
prejudice, I may claim to possess the advantage. My greatest fear is,
that in acquiring liberality, I have acquired nothing else."
Mr. Effingham turned a look of parental fondness, in which parental pride
was clearly mingled, on the face of his daughter, and said with his eyes,
though his tongue did not second the expression, "This is a fear, sweet
one, that none besides thyself would feel."
"A congress of nations, truly!" muttered another male voice near the
father and daughter. "You have been taught music in general, by seven
masters of as many different states, besides the touch of the guitar by a
Spaniard; Greek by a German; the living tongues by the European powers,
and philosophy by seeing the world; and now with a brain full of learning,
fingers full of touches, eyes full of tints, and a person full of grace,
your father is taking you back to America, to 'waste your sweetness on the
"Poetically expressed, if not justly imagined, cousin Jack," returned the
laughing Eve; "but you have forgot to add, and a heart full of feeling for
the land of my birth."
"We shall see, in the end."
"In the end, as in the beginning, now and for evermore."
"All love is eternal in the commencement."
"Do you make no allowance for the constancy of woman? Think you that a
girl of twenty can forget the country of her birth, the land of her
forefathers--or, as you call it yourself when in a good humour, the land
"A pretty specimen _you_ will have of its liberty!" returned the cousin
sarcastically. "After having passed a girlhood of wholesome restraint in
the rational society of Europe, you are about to return home to the
slavery of American female life, just as you are about to be married!"
"Married! Mr. Effingham?"
"I suppose the catastrophe will arrive, sooner or later, and it is more
likely to occur to a girl of twenty than to a girl of ten."
"Mr. John Effingham never lost an argument for the want of a convenient
fact, my love," the father observed by way of bringing the brief
discussion to a close. "But here are the boats approaching; let us
withdraw a little, and examine the chance medley of faces with which we
are to become familiar by the intercourse of a month."
"You will be much more likely to agree on a verdict of murder," muttered
Mr. Effingham led his daughter into the hurricane-house--or, as the
packet-men quaintly term it, the _coach_-house, where they stood watching
the movements on the quarter-deck for the next half-hour; an interval of
which we shall take advantage to touch in a few of the stronger lights of
our picture, leaving the softer tints and the shadows to be discovered by
the manner in which the artist "tells the story."
Edward and John Effingham were brothers' children; were born on the same
day; had passionately loved the same woman, who had preferred the
first-named, and died soon after Eve was born; had, notwithstanding this
collision in feeling, remained sincere friends, and this the more so,
probably, from a mutual and natural sympathy in their common loss; had
lived much together at home, and travelled much together abroad, and were
now about to return in company to the land of their birth, after what
might be termed an absence of twelve years; though both had visited
America for short periods in the intervals,--John not less than
There was a strong family likeness between the cousins, their persons and
even features being almost identical; though it was scarcely possible for
two human beings to leave more opposite impressions on mere casual
spectators when seen separately. Both were tall, of commanding presence,
and handsome; while one was winning in appearance, and the other, if not
positively forbidding, at least distant and repulsive. The noble outline
of face in Edward Effingham had got to be cold severity in that of John;
the aquiline nose of the latter, seeming to possess an eagle-like and
hostile curvature,--his compressed lip, sarcastic and cold expression, and
the fine classical chin, a feature in which so many of the Saxon race
fail, a haughty scorn that caused strangers usually to avoid him. Eve drew
with great facility and truth, and she had an eye, as her cousin had
rightly said, "full of tints." Often and often had she sketched both of
these loved faces, and never without wondering wherein that strong
difference existed in nature which she had never been able to impart to
her drawings. The truth is, that the subtle character of John Effingham's
face would have puzzled the skill of one who had made the art his study
for a life, and it utterly set the graceful but scarcely profound
knowledge of the beautiful young painter at defiance. All the points of
character that rendered her father so amiable and so winning, and which
were rather felt than perceived, in his cousin were salient and bold, and
if it may be thus expressed, had become indurated by mental suffering and
The cousins were both rich, though in ways as opposite as their
dispositions and habits of thought. Edward Effingham possessed a large
hereditary property, that brought a good income, and which attached him to
this world of ours by kindly feelings towards its land and water; while
John, much the wealthier of the two, having inherited a large commercial
fortune, did not own ground enough to bury him. As he sometimes deridingly
said, he "kept his gold in corporations, that were as soulless
Still, John Effingham was a man of cultivated mind, of extensive
intercourse with the world, and of manners that varied with the occasion;
or perhaps it were better to say, with his humours. In all these
particulars but the latter the cousins were alike; Edward Effingham's
deportment being as equal as his temper, though also distinguished for a
knowledge of society.
These gentlemen had embarked at London, on their fiftieth birthday, in the
packet of the 1st of October, bound to New York; the lands and family
residence of the proprietor lying in the state of that name, of which all
of the parties were natives. It is not usual for the cabin passengers of
the London packets to embark in the docks; but Mr. Effingham,--as we shall
call the father in general, to distinguish him from the bachelor,
John,--as an old and experienced traveller, had determined to make his
daughter familiar with the peculiar odours of the vessel in smooth water,
as a protection against sea-sickness; a malady, however, from which she
proved to be singularly exempt in the end. They had, accordingly, been on
board three days, when the ship came to an anchor off Portsmouth, the point
where the remainder of the passengers were to join her on that particular
day when the scene of this tale commences.
At this precise moment, then, the Montauk was lying at a single anchor,
not less than a league from the land, in a flat calm, with her three
topsails loose, the courses in the brails, and with all those signs of
preparation about her that are so bewildering to landsmen, but which
seamen comprehend as clearly as words. The captain had no other business
there than to take on board the wayfarers, and to renew his supply of
fresh meat and vegetables; things of so familiar import on shore as to be
seldom thought of until missed, but which swell into importance during a
passage of a month's duration. Eve had employed her three days of
probation quite usefully, having, with the exception of the two gentlemen,
the officers of the vessel, and one other person, been in quiet possession
of all the ample, not to say luxurious cabins. It is true, she had a
female attendant; but to her she had been accustomed from childhood, and
Nanny Sidley, as her quondam nurse and actual lady's-maid was termed,
appeared so much a part of herself, that, while her absence would be
missed almost as greatly as that of a limb, her presence was as much a
matter of course as a hand or foot. Nor will a passing word concerning
this excellent and faithful domestic be thrown away, in the brief
preliminary explanations we are making.
Ann Sidley was one of those excellent creatures who, it is the custom with
the European travellers to say, do not exist at all in America, and who,
while they are certainly less numerous than could be wished, have no
superiors in the world, in their way. She had been born a servant, lived a
servant, and was quite content to die a servant,--and this, too, in one
and the same family. We shall not enter into a philosophical examination
of the reasons that had induced old Ann to feel certain she was in the
precise situation to render her more happy than any other that to her was
attainable; but feel it she did, as John Effingham used to express it,
"from the crown of her head to the sole of her foot." She had passed
through infancy, childhood, girlhood, up to womanhood, _pari passu_, with
the mother of Eve, having been the daughter of a gardener, who died in the
service of the family, and had heart enough to feel that the mixed
relations of civilised society, when properly understood and appreciated,
are more pregnant of happiness than the vulgar scramble and
heart-burnings, that, in the _mêlée_ of a migrating and unsettled
population, are so injurious to the grace and principles of American life.
At the death of Eve's mother, she had transferred her affections to the
child; and twenty years of assiduity and care had brought her to feel as
much tenderness for her lovely young charge as if she had been her natural
parent. But Nanny Sidley was better fitted to care for the body than the
mind of Eve; and when, at the age of ten, the latter was placed under the
control of an accomplished governess, the good woman had meekly and
quietly sunk the duties of the nurse in those of the maid.
One of the severest trials--or "crosses," as she herself termed it--that
poor Nanny had ever experienced, was endured when Eve began to speak in a
language she could not herself comprehend; for, in despite of the best
intentions in the world, and twelve years of use, the good woman could
never make anything of the foreign tongues her young charge was so rapidly
acquiring. One day, when Eve had been maintaining an animated and laughing
discourse in Italian with her instructress, Nanny, unable to command
herself, had actually caught the child to her bosom, and, bursting into
tears, implored her not to estrange herself entirely from her poor old
nurse. The caresses and solicitations of Eve soon brought the good woman
to a sense of her weakness; but the natural feeling was so strong, that it
required years of close observation to reconcile her to the thousand
excellent qualities of Mademoiselle Viefville, the lady to whose
superintendence the education of Miss Effingham had been finally confided.
This Mademoiselle Viefville was also among the passengers, and was the one
other person who now occupied the cabins in common with Eve and her
friends. She was the daughter of a French officer who had fallen in
Napoleon's campaigns, had been educated at one of those admirable
establishments which form points of relief in the ruthless history of the
conqueror, and had now lived long enough to have educated two young
persons, the last of whom was Eve Effingham. Twelve years of close
communion with her _élève_ had created sufficient attachment to cause her
to yield to the solicitations of the father to accompany his daughter to
America, and to continue with her during the first year of her probation,
in a state of society that the latter felt must be altogether novel to a
young woman educated as his own child had been.
So much has been written and said of French governesses, that we shall not
anticipate the subject, but leave this lady to speak and act for herself
in the course of the narrative. Neither is it our intention to be very
minute in these introductory remarks concerning any of our characters; but
having thus traced their outlines, we shall return again to the incidents
as they occurred, trusting to make the reader better acquainted with all
the parties as we proceed.
Lord Cram and Lord Vultur.
Sir Brandish O'Cultur,
With Marshal Carouzer,
And old Lady Mouser.
The assembling of the passengers of a packet-ship is at all times a matter
of interest to the parties concerned. During the western passage in
particular, which can never safely be set down at less than a month, there
is the prospect of being shut up for the whole of that period, within the
narrow compass of a ship, with those whom chance has brought together,
influenced by all the accidents and caprices of personal character, and a
difference of nations, conditions in life, and education. The
quarter-deck, it is true, forms a sort of local distinction, and the poor
creatures in the steerage seem the rejected of Providence for the time
being; but all who know life will readily comprehend that the _pêle-mêle_
of the cabins can seldom offer anything very enticing to people of
refinement and taste. Against this evil, however, there is one particular
source of relief; most persons feeling a disposition to yield to the
circumstances in which they are placed, with the laudable and convenient
desire to render others comfortable, in order that they may be made
A man of the world and a gentleman, Mr. Effingham had looked forward to
this passage with a good deal of concern, on account of his daughter,
while he shrank with the sensitiveness of his habits from the necessity of
exposing one of her delicacy and plastic simplicity to the intercourse of
a ship. Accompanied by Mademoiselle Viefville, watched over by Nanny, and
guarded by himself and his kinsman, he had lost some of his apprehensions
on the subject during the three probationary days, and now took his stand
in the centre of his own party to observe the new arrivals, with something
of the security of a man who is entrenched in his own door-way.
The place they occupied, at a window of the hurricane-house, did not admit
of a view of the water; but it was sufficiently evident from the
preparations in the gangway next the land, that boats were so near as to
render that unnecessary.
"_Genus_ cockney; _species_, bagman," muttered John Effingham, as the
first arrival touched the deck. "That worthy has merely exchanged the
basket of a coach for the deck of a packet; we may now learn the price
It did not require a naturalist to detect the species of the stranger, in
truth; though John Effingham had been a little more minute in his
description than was warranted by the fact. The person in question was one
of those mercantile agents that England scatters so profusely over the
world, some of whom have all the most sterling qualities of their nation,
though a majority, perhaps, are a little disposed to mistake the value of
other people as well as their own. This was the _genus_, as John Effingham
had expressed it; but the _species_ will best appear on dissection. The
master of the ship saluted this person cordially, and as an old
acquaintance, by the name of Monday.
"A _mousquetaire_ resuscitated," said Mademoiselle Viefville, in her
broken English, as one who had come in the same boat as the first-named,
thrust his whiskered and mustachoed visage above the rail of the gangway.
"More probably a barber, who has converted his own head into a wig-block,"
growled John Effingham.
"It cannot, surely, be Wellington in disguise!" added Mr. Effingham, with
a sarcasm of manner that was quite unusual for him.
"Or a peer of the realm in his robes!" whispered Eve, who was much amused
with the elaborate toilet of the subject of their remarks, who descended
the ladder supported by a sailor, and, after speaking to the master, was
formally presented to his late boat-companion, as Sir George Templemore.
The two bustled together about the quarter-deck for a few minutes, using
eye-glasses, which led them into several scrapes, by causing them to hit
their legs against sundry objects they might otherwise have avoided,
though both were much too high-bred to betray feelings--or fancied they
were, which answered the same purpose.
After these flourishes, the new comers descended to the cabin in company,
not without pausing to survey the party in the hurricane-house, more
especially Eve, who, to old Ann's great scandal, was the subject of their
manifest and almost avowed admiration and observation.
"One is rather glad to have such a relief against the tediousness of a
sea-passage," said Sir George as they went down the ladder. "No doubt you
are used to this sort of thing, Mr. Monday; but with me, it is voyage the
first,--that is, if I except the Channel and the seas one encounters in
making the usual run on the Continent."
"Oh, dear me! I go and come as regularly as the equinoxes, Sir George,
which you know is quite, in rule, once a year. I call my passages the
equinoxes, too, for I religiously make it a practice to pass just twelve
hours out of the twenty-four in my berth."
This was the last the party on deck heard of the opinions of the two
worthies, for the time being; nor would they have been favoured with all
this, had not Mr. Monday what he thought a rattling way with him, which
caused him usually to speak in an octave above every one else. Although
their voices were nearly mute, or rather lost to those above, they were
heard knocking about in their state-rooms; and Sir George, in particular,
as frequently called out for the steward, by the name of "Saunders," as
Mr. Monday made similar appeals to the steward's assistant for succour, by
the appropriate appellation of "Toast."
"I think we may safely claim this person, at least, for a countryman,"
said John Effingham: "he is what I have heard termed an American in a
"The character is more ambitiously conceived than skilfully maintained,"
replied Eve, who had need of all her _retenue_ of manner to abstain from
laughing outright. "Were I to hazard a conjecture, it would be to describe
the gentleman as a collector of costumes, who had taken a fancy to exhibit
an assortment of his riches on his own person. Mademoiselle Viefville,
you, who so well understand costumes, may tell us from what countries the
separate parts of that attire have been collected?"
"I can answer for the shop in Berlin where the travelling cap was
purchased," returned the amused governess; "in no other part of the world
can a parallel be found."
"I should think, ma'am," put in Nanny, with the quiet simplicity of her
nature as well as of her habits, "that the gentleman must have bought his
boots in Paris, for they seem to pinch his feet, and all the Paris boots
and shoes pinch one's feet,--at least, all mine did."
"The watch-guard is stamped 'Geneva,'" continued Eve.
"The coat comes from Frankfort: _c'est une équivoque_."
"And the pipe from Dresden, Mademoiselle Viefville."
"The _conchiglia_ savours of Rome, and the little chain annexed bespeaks
the Rialto; while the _moustaches_ are anything but _indigènes_, and the
_tout ensemble_ the world: the man is travelled, at least."
Eve's eyes sparkled with humour as she said this: while the new passenger,
who had been addressed as Mr. Dodge, and as an old acquaintance also, by
the captain, came so near them as to admit of no further comments. A short
conversation between the two soon let the listeners into the secret that
the traveller had come from America in the spring, whither, after having
made the tour of Europe, he was about to return in the autumn.
"Seen enough, ha!" added the captain, with a friendly nod of the head,
when the other had finished a brief summary of his proceedings in the
eastern hemisphere. "All eyes, and no leisure or inclination for more?"
"I've seen as much as I _warnt_ to see," returned the traveller, with an
emphasis _on_, and a pronunciation _of_, the word we have italicised, that
cannot be committed to paper, but which were eloquence itself on the
subject of self-satisfaction and self-knowledge.
"Well, that is the main point. When a man has got all he wants of a thing,
any addition is like over-ballast. Whenever I can get fifteen knots out of
the ship, I make it a point to be satisfied, especially under close-reefed
topsails and on a taut bowline."
The traveller and the master nodded their heads at each other, like men
who understood more than they expressed; when the former, after inquiring
with marked interest if his room-mate, Sir George Templemore, had arrived,
went below. An intercourse of three days had established something like an
acquaintance between the latter and the passengers she had brought from
the River, and turning his red quizzical face towards the ladies, he
observed with inimitable gravity,
"There is nothing like understanding when one has enough, even if it be of
knowledge. I never yet met with the navigator who found two 'noons' in the
same day, that he was not in danger of shipwreck. Now I dare say, Mr.
Dodge there, who has just gone below, has, as he says, seen all he
_warnts_ to see, and it is quite likely he knows more already than he can
cleverly get along with.--Let the people be getting the booms on the
yards, Mr. Leach; we shall be _warnting_ to spread our wings before the
end of the passage."
As Captain Truck, though he often swore, seldom laughed, his mate gave the
necessary order with a gravity equal to that with which it had been
delivered to him; and even the sailors went aloft to execute it with
greater alacrity for an indulgence of humour that was peculiar to their
trade, and which, as few understood it so well, none enjoyed so much as
themselves. As the homeward-bound crew was the same as the outward-bound,
and Mr. Dodge had come abroad quite as green as he was now going home
ripe, this traveller of six months' finish did not escape diver
commentaries that literally cut him up "from clew to ear-ring," and which
flew about in the rigging much as active birds flutter from branch to
branch in a tree. The subject of all this wit, however, remained
profoundly, not to say happily, ignorant of the sensation he had produced,
being occupied in disposing of the Dresden pipe, the Venetian chain, and
the Roman _conchiglia_ in his state-room, and in "instituting an
acquaintance," as he expressed it, with his room-mate, Sir George
"We must surely have something better than this," observed Mr. Effingham,
"for I observed that two of the state-rooms in the main cabin are
In order that the general reader may understand this, it may be well to
explain that the packet-ships have usually two berths in each state-room,
but they who can afford to pay an extra charge are permitted to occupy the
little apartment singly. It is scarcely necessary to add, that persons of
gentlemanly feeling, when circumstances will at all permit, prefer
economising in other things in order to live by themselves for the month
usually consumed in the passage, since in nothing is refinement more
plainly exhibited than in the reserve of personal habits.
"There is no lack of vulgar fools stirring with full pockets," rejoined
John Effingham; "the two rooms you mention may have been taken by some
'yearling' travellers, who are little better than the semi-annual _savant_
who has just passed us."
"It is at least _something_, cousin Jack, to have the wishes of a
"It _is something_, Eve, though it end in wishes, or even in caricature."
"What are the names?" pleasantly asked Mademoiselle Viefville; "the
_names_ may be a clue to the characters."
"The papers pinned to the bed-curtains bear the antithetical titles of Mr.
Sharp and Mr. Blunt; though it is quite probable the first is wanting of a
letter or two by accident, and the last is merely a synonyme of the old
_nom de guerre_ 'Cash.'"
"Do persons, then, actually travel with borrowed names, in our days?"
asked Eve, with a little of the curiosity of the common mother whose
name she bore.
"That do they, and with borrowed money too, as well as in other days. I
dare say, however, these two co-voyagers of ours will come just as they
are, in truth, Sharp enough, and Blunt enough."
"Are they Americans, think you?"
"They ought to be; both the qualities being thoroughly _indigènes_, as
Mademoiselle Viefville would say."
"Nay, cousin John, I will bandy words with you no longer; for the last
twelve months you have done little else than try to lessen the joyful
anticipations with which I return to the home of my childhood."
"Sweet one, I would not willingly lessen one of thy young and generous
pleasures by any of the alloy of my own bitterness; but what wilt thou? A
little preparation for that which is as certain to follow as that the sun
succeeds the dawn, will rather soften the disappointment thou art
doomed to feel."
Eve had only time to cast a look of affectionate gratitude towards
him,--for whilst he spoke tauntingly, he spoke with a feeling that her
experience from childhood had taught her to appreciate,--ere the arrival
of another boat drew the common attention to the gangway. A call from the
officer in attendance had brought the captain to the rail; and his order
"to pass in the luggage of Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt," was heard by
"Now for _les indigènes_," whispered Mademoiselle Viefville, with the
nervous excitement that is a little apt to betray a lively expectation in
the gentler sex.
Eve smiled, for there are situations in which trifles help to awaken
interest, and the little that had just passed served to excite curiosity
in the whole party. Mr. Effingham thought it a favourable symptom that the
master, who had had interviews with all his passengers in London, walked
to the gangway to receive the new-comers; for a boat-load of the
quarter-deck _oi polloi_ had come on board a moment before without any
other notice on his part than a general bow, with the usual order to
receive their effects.
"The delay denotes Englishmen," the caustic John had time to throw in,
before the silent arrangement at the gangway was interrupted by the
appearance of the passengers.
The quiet smile of Mademoiselle Viefville, as the two travellers appeared
on deck, denoted approbation, for her practised eye detected at a glance,
that both were certainly gentlemen. Women are more purely creatures of
convention in their way than men, their education inculcating nicer
distinctions and discriminations than that of the other sex; and Eve, who
would have studied Sir George Templemore and Mr. Dodge as she would have
studied the animals of a caravan, or as creatures with whom she had no
affinities, after casting a sly look of curiosity at the two who now
appeared on deck, unconsciously averted her eyes like a well-bred young
person in a drawing-room.
"They are indeed English," quietly remarked Mr. Effingham; "but, out of
question English gentlemen."
"The one nearest appears to me to be Continental," answered Mademoiselle
Viefville who had not felt the same impulse to avert her look as Eve; "he
is _jamais Anglais_!"
Eve stole a glance in spite of herself, and, with the intuitive
penetration of a woman, intimated that she had come to the same
conclusion. The two strangers were both tall, and decidedly gentleman-like
young men, whose personal appearance would cause either to be remarked.
The one whom the captain addressed as Mr. Sharp had the most youthful
look, his complexion being florid, and his hair light; though the other
was altogether superior in outline of features as well as in expression;
indeed, Mademoiselle Viefville fancied she never saw a sweeter smile than
that he gave on returning the salute of the deck; there was more than the
common expression of suavity and of the usual play of features in it, for
it struck her as being thoughtful and as almost melancholy. His companion
was gracious in his manner, and perfectly well toned; but his demeanour
had less of the soul of the man about it, partaking more of the training
of the social caste to which it belonged. These may seem to be nice
distinctions for the circumstances; but Mademoiselle Viefville had passed
her life in good company, and under responsibilities that had rendered
observation and judgment highly necessary, and particularly observations
of the other sex.
Each of the strangers had a servant; and while their luggage was passed
up from the boat, they walked aft nearer to the hurricane-house,
accompanied by the captain. Every American, who is not very familiar with
the world appears to possess the mania of introducing. Captain Truck was
no exception to the rule; for, while he was perfectly acquainted with a
ship, and knew the etiquette of the quarter-deck to a hair, he got into
blue water the moment he approached the finesse of deportment. He was
exactly of that school of _élégants_ who fancy drinking a glass of wine
with another, and introducing, are touches of breeding; it being
altogether beyond his comprehension that both have especial uses, and are
only to be resorted to on especial occasions. Still, the worthy master,
who had begun life on the forecastle, without any previous knowledge of
usages, and who had imbibed the notion that "manners make the man," taken
in the narrow sense of the axiom, was a devotee of what he fancied to be
good breeding, and one of his especial duties, as he imagined, in order to
put his passengers at their ease, was to introduce them to each other; a
proceeding which, it is hardly necessary to say, had just a contrary
effect with the better class of them.
"You are acquainted, gentlemen?" he said, as the three approached the
party in the hurricane-house.
The two travellers endeavoured to look interested, while Mr. Sharp
carelessly observed that they had met for the first time in the boat. This
was delightful intelligence to Captain Truck, who did not lose a moment in
turning it to account. Stopping short, he faced his companions, and, with
a solemn wave of the hand, he went through the ceremonial in which he most
delighted, and in which he piqued himself at being an adept.
"Mr. Sharp, permit me to introduce you to Mr. Blunt--Mr. Blunt, let me
make you acquainted with Mr. Sharp."
The gentlemen, though taken a little by surprise at the dignity and
formality of the captain, touched their hands civilly to each other, and
smiled. Eve, not a little amused at the scene, watched the whole
procedure; and then she too detected the sweet melancholy of the one
expression and the marble-like irony of the other. It may have been this
that caused her to start, though almost imperceptibly, and to colour.
"Our turn will come next," muttered John Effingham: "get the grimaces
His conjecture was right; for, hearing his voice without understanding the
words, the captain followed up his advantage to his own infinite
"Gentlemen,--Mr. Effingham, Mr. John Effingham"--(every one soon came to
make this distinction in addressing the cousins)--"Miss Effingham,
Mademoiselle Viefville:--Mr. Sharp, Mr. Blunt,--ladies;--gentlemen, Mr.
Blunt, Mr. Sharp."
The dignified bow of Mr. Effingham, as well as the faint and distant smile
of Eve, would have repelled any undue familiarity in men of less tone than
either of the strangers, both of whom received the unexpected honour like
those who felt themselves to be intruders. As Mr. Sharp raised his hat to
Eve, however, he held it suspended a moment above his head, and then
dropping his arm to its full length, he bowed with profound respect,
though distantly. Mr. Blunt was less elaborate in his salute, but as
pointed as the circumstances at all required. Both gentlemen were a little
struck with the distant hauteur of John Effingham, whose bow, while it
fulfilled all the outward forms, was what Eve used laughingly to term
"imperial." The bustle of preparation, and the certainty that there would
be no want of opportunities to renew the intercourse, prevented more than
the general salutations, and the new-comers descended to their
"Did you remark the manner in which those people took my introduction?"
asked Captain Truck of his chief mate, whom he was training up in the ways
of packet-politeness, as one in the road of preferment. "Now, to my
notion, they might have shook hands at least. That's what I call
"One sometimes falls in with what are _rum_ chaps," returned the other,
who, from following the London trade, had caught a few cockneyisms. "If a
man chooses to keep his hands in the beckets, why let him, say I; but I
take it as a slight to the company to sheer out of the usual track in
"I was thinking as much myself; but after all, what can packet-masters do
in such a case? We can set luncheon and dinner before the passengers, but
we can't make them eat. Now, my rule is, when a gentleman introduces me,
to do the thing handsomely, and to return shake for shake, if it is three
times three; but as for a touch of the beaver, it is like setting a
top-gallant sail in passing a ship at sea, and means just nothing at all.
Who would know a vessel because he has let run his halyards and swayed the
yard up again? One would do as much to a Turk for manners' sake. No, no!
there is something in this, and, d--- me, just to make sure of it, the
first good opportunity that offers, I'll--ay, I'll just introduce them all
over again!--Let the people ship their hand-spikes, Mr. Leach, and heave in
the slack of the chain.--Ay, ay! I'll take an opportunity when all hands
are on deck, and introduce them, ship-shape, one by one, as your
greenhorns go through a lubber's-hole, or we shall have no friendship
during the passage."
The mate nodded approbation, as if the other had hit upon the right
expedient, and then he proceeded to obey the orders, while the cares of
his vessel soon drove the subject temporarily from the mind of his
By all description, this should be the place.
Who's here?--Speak, ho!--No answer!--What is this?
TIMON OF ATHENS
A ship with her sails loosened and her ensign abroad is always a beautiful
object; and the Montauk, a noble New-York-built vessel of seven hundred
tons burthen, was a first-class specimen of the "kettle-bottom" school of
naval architecture, wanting in nothing that the taste and experience of
the day can supply. The scene that was now acting before their eyes
therefore soon diverted the thoughts of Mademoiselle Viefville and Eve
from the introductions of the captain, both watching with intense
interest the various movements of the crew and passengers as they passed
A crowd of well-dressed, but of an evidently humbler class of persons than
those farther aft, were thronging the gangways, little dreaming of the
physical suffering they were to endure before they reached the land of
promise,--that distant America, towards which the poor and oppressed of
nearly all nations turn longing eyes in quest of a shelter. Eve saw with
wonder aged men and women among them; beings who were about to sever most
of the ties of the world in order to obtain relief from the physical pains
and privations that had borne hard on them for more than threescore years.
A few had made sacrifices of themselves in obedience to that mysterious
instinct which man feels in his offspring; while others, again, went
rejoicing, flushed with the hope of their vigour and youth. Some, the
victims of their vices, had embarked in the idle expectation that a change
of scene, with increased means of indulgence, could produce a healthful
change of character. All had views that the truth would have dimmed, and,
perhaps, no single adventurer among the emigrants collected in that ship
entertained either sound or reasonable notions of the mode in which his
step was to be rewarded, though many may meet with a success that will
surpass their brightest picture of the future. More, no doubt, were to be
Reflections something like these passed through the mind of Eve Effingham,
as she examined the mixed crowd, in which some were busy in receiving
stores from boats; others in holding party conferences with friends, in
which a few were weeping; here and there a group was drowning reflection
in the parting cup; while wondering children looked up with anxiety into
the well-known faces, as if fearful they might lose the countenances they
loved, and the charities on which they habitually relied, in such
Although the stern discipline which separates the cabin and steerage
passengers into castes as distinct as those of the Hindoos had not yet
been established, Captain Truck had too profound a sense of his duty to
permit the quarterdeck to be unceremoniously invaded. This part of the
ship, then, had partially escaped the confusion of the moment; though
trunks, boxes, hampers, and other similar appliances of travelling, were
scattered about in tolerable affluence. Profiting by the space, of which
there was still sufficient for the purpose, most of the party left the
hurricane-house to enjoy the short walk that a ship affords. At that
instant, another boat from the land reached the vessel's side, and a
grave-looking personage, who was not disposed to lessen his dignity by
levity or an omission of forms, appeared on deck, where he demanded to be
shown the master. An introduction was unnecessary in this instance; for
Captain Truck no sooner saw his visitor than he recognized the well-known
features and solemn pomposity of a civil officer of Portsmouth, who was
often employed to search the American packets, in pursuit of delinquents
of all degrees of crime and folly.
"I had just come to the opinion I was not to have the pleasure of seeing
you this passage, Mr. Grab," said the captain, shaking hands familiarly
with the myrmidon of the law; "but the turn of the tide is not more
regular than you gentlemen who come in the name of the king.--Mr. Grab,
Mr. Dodge; Mr. Dodge, Mr. Grab. And now, to what forgery, or bigamy, or
elopement, or _scandalum magnatum,_ do I owe the honor of your company
this time?--Sir George Templemore, Mr. Grab; Mr. Grab, Sir George
Sir George bowed with the dignified aversion an honest man might be
supposed to feel for one of the other's employment; while Mr. Grab looked
gravely and with a counter dignity at Sir George. The business of the
officer, however, was with none in the cabin; but he had come in quest of
a young woman who had married a suitor rejected by her uncle,--an
arrangement that was likely to subject the latter to a settlement of
accounts which he found inconvenient, and which he had thought it prudent
to anticipate by bringing an action of debt against the bridegroom for
advances, real or pretended, made to the wife during her nonage. A dozen
eager ears caught an outline of this tale as it was communicated to the
captain, and in an incredibly short space of time it was known throughout
the ship, with not a few embellishments.
"I do not know the person of the husband," continued the officer, "nor
indeed does the attorney who is with me in the boat; but his name is
Robert Davis, and you can have no difficulty in pointing him out. We know
him to be in the ship."
"I never introduce any steerage passengers, my dear sir; and there is no
such person in the cabin, I give you my honour,--and that is a pledge that
must pass between gentlemen like us. You are welcome to search, but the
duty of the vessel must go on. Take your man--but do not detain the
ship.--Mr. Sharp, Mr. Grab; Mr. Grab, Mr. Sharp.--Bear a hand there, Mr.
Leach, and let us have the slack of the chain as soon as possible."
There appeared to be what the philosophers call the attraction of
repulsion between the parties last introduced, for the tall
gentlemanly-looking Mr. Sharp eyed the officer with a supercilious
coldness, neither party deeming much ceremony on the occasion necessary.
Mr. Grab now summoned his assistant, the attorney, from the boat, and
there was a consultation between them as to their further proceedings.
Fifty heads were grouped around them, and curious eyes watched their
smallest movements, one of the crowd occasionally disappearing to report
Man is certainly a clannish animal; for without knowing any thing of the
merits of the case, without pausing to inquire into the right or the wrong
of the matter, in the pure spirit of partisanship, every man, woman, and
child of the steerage, which contained fully a hundred souls, took sides
against the law, and enlisted in the cause of the defendant. All this was
done quietly, however, for no one menaced or dreamed of violence, crew and
passengers usually taking their cues from the officers of the vessel on
such occasions, and those of the Montauk understood too well the rights of
the public agents to commit themselves in the matter.
"Call Robert Davis," said the officer, resorting to a _ruse_, by affecting
an authority he had no right to assume. "Robert Davis!" echoed twenty
voices, among which was that of the bridegroom himself, who was nigh to
discover his secret by an excess of zeal. It was easy to call, but no
"Can you tell me which is Robert Davis, my little fellow?" the officer
asked coaxingly, of a fine flaxen-headed boy, whose age did not exceed
ten, and who was a curious spectator of what passed. "Tell me which is
Robert Davis, and I will give you a sixpence."
The child knew, but professed ignorance.
"_C'est un esprit de corps admirable_!" exclaimed Mademoiselle Viefville;
for the interest of the scene had brought nearly all on board, with the
exception of those employed in the duty of the vessel, near the gangway.
"_Ceci est délicieux,_ and I could devour that boy--!"
What rendered this more, odd, or indeed absolutely ludicrous, was the
circumstance that, by a species of legerdemain, a whisper had passed among
the spectators so stealthily, and yet so soon, that the attorney and his
companion were the only two on deck who remained ignorant of the person of
the man they sought. Even the children caught the clue, though they had
the art to indulge their natural curiosity by glances so sly as to escape
Unfortunately, the attorney had sufficient knowledge of the family of the
bride to recognize her by a general resemblance, rendered conspicuous as
it was by a pallid face and an almost ungovernable nervous excitement. He
pointed her out to the officer, who ordered her to approach him,--a
command that caused her to burst into tears. The agitation and distress of
his wife were near proving too much for the prudence of the young husband,
who was making an impetuous movement towards her, when the strong grasp of
a fellow-passenger checked him in time to prevent discovery. It is
singular how much is understood by trifles when the mind has a clue to the
subject, and how often signs, that are palpable as day, are overlooked
when suspicion is not awakened, or when the thoughts have obtained a false
direction. The attorney and the officer were the only two present who had
not seen the indiscretion of the young man, and who did not believe him
betrayed. His wife trembled to a degree that almost destroyed the ability
to stand; but, casting an imploring look for self-command on her
indiscreet partner, she controlled her own distress, and advanced towards
the officer, in obedience to his order, with a power of endurance that the
strong affections of a woman could alone enable her to assume.
"If the husband will not deliver himself up, I shall be compelled to order
the wife to be carried ashore in his stead!" the attorney coldly remarked,
while he applied a pinch of snuff to a nose that was already
saffron-coloured from the constant use of the weed.
A pause succeeded this ominous declaration, and the crowd of passengers
betrayed dismay, for all believed there was now no hope for the pursued.
The wife bowed her head to her knees, for she had sunk on a box as if to
hide the sight of her husband's arrest. At this moment a voice spoke from
among the group on the quarter-deck.
"Is this an arrest for crime, or a demand for debt?" asked the young man
who has been announced as Mr. Blunt.
There was a quiet authority in the speaker's manner that reassured the
failing hopes of the passengers, while it caused the attorney and his
companion to look round in surprise, and perhaps a little in resentment. A
dozen eager voices assured "the gentleman" there was no crime in the
matter at all--there was even no just debt, but it was a villanous scheme
to compel a wronged ward to release a fraudulent guardian from his
liabilities. Though all this was not very clearly explained, it was
affirmed with so much zeal and energy as to awaken suspicion, and to
increase the interest of the more intelligent portion of the spectators.
The attorney surveyed the travelling dress, the appearance of fashion, and
the youth of his interrogator, whose years could not exceed
five-and-twenty, and his answer was given with an air of superiority.
"Debt or crime, it can matter nothing in the eye of the law."
"It matters much in the view of an honest man," returned the youth with
spirit. "One might hesitate about interfering in behalf of a rogue,
however ready to exert himself in favour of one who is innocent, perhaps,
of every thing but misfortune."
"This looks a little like an attempt at a rescue! I hope we are still in
England, and under the protection of English laws?"
"No doubt at all of that, Mr. Seal," put in the captain, who having kept
an eye on the officer from a distance, now thought it time to interfere,
in order to protect the interests of his owners. "Yonder is England, and
that is the Isle of Wight, and the Montauk has hold of an English bottom,
and good anchorage it is; no one means to dispute your authority, Mr.
Attorney, nor to call in question that of the king. Mr. Blunt merely
throws out a suggestion, sir; or rather, a distinction between rogues and
honest men; nothing more, depend on it, sir.--Mr. Seal, Mr. Blunt; Mr.
Blunt, Mr. Seal. And a thousand pities it is, that a distinction is not
more commonly made."
The young man bowed slightly, and with a face flushed, partly with
feeling, and partly at finding himself unexpectedly conspicuous among so
many strangers, he advanced a little from the quarter-deck group, like one
who feels he is required to maintain the ground he has assumed.
"No one can be disposed to question the supremacy of the English laws in
this roadstead," he said, "and least of all myself; but you will permit me
to doubt the legality of arresting, or in any manner detaining, a wife in
virtue of a process issued against the husband."
"A briefless barrister!" muttered Seal to Grab. "I dare say a timely
guinea would have silenced the fellow. What is now to be done?"
"The lady must go ashore, and all these matters can be arranged before a
"Ay, ay! let her sue out a _habeas corpus_ if she please," added the ready
attorney, whom a second survey caused to distrust his first inference.
"Justice is blind in England as well as in other countries, and is liable
to mistakes; but still she is just. If she does mistake sometimes, she is
always ready to repair the wrong."
"Cannot _you_ do something here?" Eve involuntarily half-whispered to Mr.
Sharp, who stood at her elbow.
This person started on hearing her voice making this sudden appeal, and
glancing a look of intelligence at her, he smiled and moved nearer to the
"Really, Mr. Attorney," he commenced, "this appears to be rather
irregular, I must confess,--quite out of the ordinary way, and it may lead
to unpleasant consequences."
"In what manner, sir?" interrupted Seal, measuring the other's ignorance
at a glance.
"Why, irregular in form, if not in principle. I am aware that the _habeas
corpus_ is all-essential, and that the law must have its way; but really
this does seem a little irregular, not to describe it by any
Mr. Seal treated this new appeal respectfully, in appearance at least, for
he saw it was made by one greatly his superior, while he felt an utter
contempt for it in essentials, as he perceived intuitively that this new
intercession was made in a profound ignorance of the subject. As respects
Mr. Blunt, however, he had an unpleasant distrust of the result, the quiet
manner of that gentleman denoting more confidence in himself, and a
greater practical knowledge of the laws. Still, to try the extent of the
other's information, and the strength of his nerves, he rejoined in a
magisterial and menacing tone--
"Yes, let the lady sue out a writ of _habeas corpus_ if wrongfully
arrested; and I should be glad to discover the foreigner who will dare to
attempt a rescue in old England, and in defiance of English laws."
It is probable Paul Blunt would have relinquished his interference, from
an apprehension that he might be ignorantly aiding the evil-doer, but for
this threat; and even the threat might not have overcome his prudence, had
not he caught the imploring look of the fine blue eyes of Eve.
"All are not necessarily foreigners who embark on board an American ship
at an English port," he said steadily, "nor is justice denied those that
are. The _habeas corpus_ is as well understood in other countries as in
this, for happily we live in an age when neither liberty nor knowledge is
exclusive. If an attorney, you must know yourself that you cannot legally
arrest a wife for a husband, and that what you say of the _habeas corpus_
is little worthy of attention."
"We arrest, and whoever interferes with an officer in charge of a prisoner
is guilty of a rescue. Mistakes must be rectified by the magistrates."
"True, provided the officer has warranty for what he does."
"Writs and warrants may contain errors, but an arrest is an arrest,"
"Not the arrest of a woman for a man. In such a case there is design, and
not a mistake. If this frightened wife will take counsel from me, she will
refuse to accompany you."
"At her peril, let her dare do so!"
"At _your_ peril do you dare to attempt forcing her from the ship!"
"Gentlemen, gentlemen!--let there be no misunderstanding, I pray you,"
interposed the captain. "Mr. Blunt, Mr. Grab; Mr. Grab, Mr. Blunt. No
warm words, gentlemen, I beg of you. But the tide is beginning to serve,
Mr. Attorney, and 'time and tide,' you know--If we stay here much
longer, the Montauk may be forced to sail on the 2d, instead of the 1st,
as has been advertised in both hemispheres. I should be sorry to carry you
to sea, gentlemen, without your small stores; and as for the cabin, it is
as full as a lawyer's conscience. No remedy but the steerage in such a
case.--Lay forward, men, and heave away. Some of you, man the
fore-top-sail halyards.--We are as regular as our chronometers; the 1st,
10th, and 20th, without fail."
There was some truth, blended with a little poetry, in Captain Truck's
account of the matter. The tide had indeed made in his favour, but the
little wind there was blew directly into the roadstead, and had not his
feelings become warmed by the distress of a pretty and interesting young
woman, it is more than probable the line would have incurred the disgrace
of having a ship sail on a later day than had been advertised. As it was,
however, he had the matter up in earnest, and he privately assured Sir
George and Mr. Dodge, if the affair were not immediately disposed of, he
should carry both the attorney and officer to sea with him, and that he
did not feel himself bound to furnish either with water. "They may catch a
little rain, by wringing their jackets," he added, with a wink; "though
October is a dryish month in the American seas."
The decision of Paul Blunt would have induced the attorney and his
companion to relinquish their pursuit but for two circumstances. They had
both undertaken the job as a speculation, or on the principle of "no
play, no pay," and all their trouble would be lost without success. Then
the very difficulty that occurred had been foreseen, and while the officer
proceeded to the ship, the uncle had been busily searching for a son on
shore, to send off to identify the husband,--a step that would have been
earlier resorted to could the young man have been found. This son was a
rejected suitor, and he was now seen, by the aid of a glass that Mr. Grab
always carried, pulling towards the Montauk, in a two-oared boat, with as
much zeal as malignancy and disappointment could impart. His distance from
the ship was still considerable; but a peculiar hat, with the aid of the
glass, left no doubt of his identity. The attorney pointed out the boat to
the officer, and the latter, after a look through the glass, gave a nod of
approbation. Exultation overcame the usual wariness of the attorney, for
his pride, too, had got to be enlisted in the success of his
speculation,--men being so strangely constituted as often to feel as much
joy in the accomplishment of schemes that are unjustifiable, as in the
accomplishment of those of which they may have reason to be proud.
On the other hand, the passengers and people of the packet seized
something near the truth, with that sort of instinctive readiness which
seems to characterize bodies of men in moments of excitement. That the
solitary boat which was pulling towards them in the dusk of the evening
contained some one who might aid the attorney and his myrmidon, all
believed, though in what manner none could tell.
Between all seamen and the ministers of the law there is a long-standing
antipathy, for the visits of the latter are usually so timed as to leave
nothing between the alternatives of paying or of losing a voyage. It was
soon apparent, then, that Mr. Seal had little to expect from the apathy of
the crew, for never did men work with better will to get a ship loosened
from the bottom.
All this feeling manifested itself in a silent and intelligent activity
rather than in noise or bustle, for every man on board exercised his best
faculties, as well as his best good will and strength; the clock-work
ticks of the palls of the windlass resembling those of a watch that had
got the start of time, while the chain came in with surges of half a
fathom at each heave.
"Lay hold of this rope, men," cried Mr. Leach, placing the end of the
main-topsail halyards in the hands of half-a-dozen athletic steerage
passengers, who had all the inclination in the world to be doing, though
uncertain where to lay their hands; "lay hold, and run away with it."
The second mate performed the same feat forward, and as the sheets had
never been started, the broad folds of the Montauk's canvas began to open,
even while the men were heaving at the anchor. These exertions quickened
the blood in the veins of those who were not employed, until even the
quarter-deck passengers began to experience the excitement of a chase, in
addition to the feelings of compassion. Captain Truck, was silent, but
very active in preparations. Springing to the wheel, he made its spokes
fly until he had forced the helm hard up, when he unceremoniously gave it
to John Effingham to keep there. His next leap was to the foot of the
mizen-mast, where, after a few energetic efforts alone, he looked over his
shoulder and beckoned for aid.
"Sir George Templemore, mizen-topsail-halyards; mizen-topsail-halyards,
Sir George Templemore," muttered the eager master, scarce knowing what he
said. "Mr. Dodge, now is the time to show that your name and nature are
In short, nearly all on board were busy, and, thanks to the hearty good
will of the officers, stewards, cooks, and a few of the hands that could
be spared from the windlass, busy in a way to spread sail after sail with
a rapidity little short of that seen on board of a vessel of war. The
rattling of the clew-garnet blocks, as twenty lusty fellows ran forward
with the tack of the mainsail, and the hauling forward of braces, was the
signal that the ship was clear of ground, and coming under command.
A cross current had superseded the necessity of casting the vessel, but
her sails took the light air nearly abeam; the captain understanding that
motion was of much more importance just then than direction. No sooner did
he perceive by the bubbles that floated past, or rather appeared to float
past, that his ship was dividing the water forward, than he called a
trusty man to the wheel, relieving John Effingham from his watch. The next
instant, Mr. Leach reported the anchor catted and fished.
"Pilot, you will be responsible for this if my prisoners escape," said Mr.
Grab menacingly. "You know my errand, and it is your duty to aid the
ministers of the law."
"Harkee, Mr. Grab," put in the master, who had warmed himself with the
exercise; "we all know, and we all do our duties, on board the Montauk. It
is your duty to take Robert Davis on shore if you can find him; and it is
my duty to take the Montauk to America: now, if you will receive counsel
from a well-wisher, I would advise you to see that you do not go in her.
No one offers any impediment to your performing your office, and I'll
thank you to offer me none in performing mine.--Brace the yards further
forward, boys, and let the ship come up to the wind."
As there were logic, useful information, law, and seamanship united in
this reply, the attorney began to betray uneasiness; for by this time the
ship had gathered so much way as to render it exceedingly doubtful whether
a two-oared boat would be able to come up with her, without the consent of
those on board. It is probable, as evening had already closed, and the
rays of the moon were beginning to quiver on the ripple of the water, that
he would have abandoned his object, though with infinite reluctance, had
not Sir George Templemore pointed out to the captain a six-oared boat,
that was pulling towards them from a quarter that permitted it to be seen
in the moonlight.
"That appears to be a man-of-war's cutter," observed the baronet uneasily,
for by this time all on board felt a sort of personal interest in
"It does indeed, Captain Truck," added the pilot; "and if _she_ make a
signal, it will become my duty to heave-to the Montauk."
"Then bundle out of her, my fine fellow, as fast as you can for not a
brace or a bowline shall be touched here, with my consent, for any such
purpose. The ship is cleared--my hour is come--my passengers are on
board--and America is my haven.--Let them that want me, catch me. That is
what I call _Vattel_."
The pilot and the master of the Montauk were excellent friends, and
understood each other perfectly, even while the former was making the most
serious professions of duty. The beat was hauled up, and, first whispering
a few cautions about the shoals and the currents, the worthy marine guide
leaped into it, and was soon seen floating astern--a cheering proof that
the ship had got fairly in motion. As he fell out of hearing in the wake
of the vessel, the honest fellow kept calling out "to tack in season."
"If you wish to try the speed of your boat against that of the pilot, Mr.
Grab," called out the captain, "you will never have a better opportunity.
It is a fine night for a regatta, and I will stand you a pound on Mr.
Handlead's heels. For that matter, I would as soon trust his head, or his
hands, in the bargain."
The officer continued obstinately on board, for he saw that the six-oared
boat was coming up with the ship, and, as he well knew the importance to
his client of compelling a settlement of the accounts, he fancied some
succour might be expected in that quarter. In the mean time, this new
movement on the part of their pursuers attracted general attention, and,
as might be expected, the interest of this little incident increased the
excitement that usually accompanies a departure for a long sea-voyage,
fourfold. Men and women forgot their griefs and leave-takings in anxiety,
and in that pleasure which usually attends agitation of the mind that does
not proceed from actual misery of our own.
Whither away so fast?
O God save you!
Even to the hall to hear what shall become
Of the great Duke of Buckingham.
The assembling of the passengers of the large packet-ship is necessarily
an affair of coldness and distrust, especially with those who know the
world, and more particularly still when the passage is from Europe to
America. The greater sophistication of the old than of the new hemisphere,
with its consequent shifts and vices, the knowledge that the tide of
emigration sets westward, and that few abandon the home of their youth
unless impelled by misfortune at least, with other obvious causes, unite
to produce this distinction. Then come the fastidiousness of habits, the
sentiments of social castes, the refinements of breeding, and the reserves
of dignity of character, to be put in close collision with bustling
egotism, ignorance of usages, an absence of training, and downright
vulgarity of thought and practices. Although necessity soon brings these
chaotic elements into something like order, the first week commonly passes
in reconnoitring, cool civilities, and cautious concessions, to yield at
length to the never-dying charities; unless, indeed, the latter may happen
to be kept in abeyance by a downright quarrel, about midnight carousals, a
squeaking fiddle, or some incorrigible snorer.
Happily, the party collected in the Montauk had the good fortune to
abridge the usual probation in courtesies, by the stirring events of the
night on which they sailed. Two hours had scarcely elapsed since the last
passenger crossed the gangway, and yet the respective circles of the
quarter-deck and steerage felt more sympathy with each other than the
boasted human charities ordinarily quicken in days of common-place
intercourse. They had already found out each other's names, thanks to the
assiduity of Captain Truck, who had stolen time, in the midst of all his
activity, to make half-a-dozen more introductions, and the Americans of
the less trained class were already using them as freely as if they were
old acquaintances. We say Americans, for the cabins of these ships usually
contain a congress of nations, though the people of England, and of her
ci-devant colonies, of course predominate in those of the London lines. On
the present occasion, the last two were nearly balanced in numbers, so far
as national character could be made out; opinion (which, as might be
expected, had been busy the while,) being suspended in reference to Mr.
Blunt, and one or two others whom the captain called "foreigners," to
distinguish them from the Anglo-Saxon stock.
This equal distribution of forces might, under other circumstances, have
led to a division in feeling; for the conflicts between American and
British opinions, coupled with a difference in habits, are a prolific
source of discontent in the cabins of packets. The American is apt to
fancy himself at home, under the flag of his country; while his
Transatlantic kinsman is strongly addicted to fancying that when he has
fairly paid his money, he has a right to embark all his prejudices with
his other luggage.
The affair of the attorney and the newly-married couple, however, was kept
quite distinct from all feelings of nationality; the English apparently
entertaining quite as lively a wish that the latter might escape from the
fangs of the law, as any other portion of the passengers. The parties
themselves were British, and although the authority evaded was of the same
origin, right or wrong, all on board had taken up the impression that it
was improperly exercised. Sir George Templemore, the Englishman of highest
rank, was decidedly of this way of thinking,--an opinion he was rather
warm in expressing,--and the example of a baronet had its weight, not only
with most of his own countrymen, but with not a few of the Americans also.
The Effingham party, together with Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt, were, indeed,
all who seemed to be entirely indifferent to Sir George's sentiments; and,
as men are intuitively quick in discovering who do and who do not defer to
their suggestions, their accidental independence might have been favoured
by this fact, for the discourse of this gentleman was addressed in the
main to those who lent the most willing ears. Mr. Dodge, in particular,
was his constant and respectful listener, and profound admirer:--But then
he was his room-mate, and a democrat of a water so pure, that he was
disposed to maintain no man had a right to any one of his senses, unless
by popular sufferance.
In the mean while, the night advanced, and the soft light of the moon was
playing on the waters, adding a semi-mysterious obscurity to the
excitement of the scene. The two-oared boat had evidently been overtaken
by that carrying six oars, and, after a short conference, the first had
returned reluctantly towards the land, while the latter profiting by its
position, had set two lug-sails, and was standing out into the offing, on
a course that would compel the Montauk to come under its lee, when the
shoals, as would soon be the case, should force the ship to tack.
"England is most inconveniently placed," Captain Truck dryly remarked as
he witnessed this manoeuvre. "Were this island only out of the way, now,
we might stand on as we head, and leave those man-of-war's men to amuse
themselves all night with backing and filling in the roads of Portsmouth."
"I hope there is no danger of that little boat's overtaking this large
ship!" exclaimed Sir George, with a vivacity that did great credit to his
philanthropy, according to the opinion of Mr. Dodge at least; the latter
having imbibed a singular bias in favour of persons of condition, from
having travelled in an _eilwagen_ with a German baron, from whom he had
taken a model of the pipe he carried but never smoked, and from having
been thrown for two days and nights into the society of a "Polish
countess," as he uniformly termed her, in the _gondole_ of a _diligence_,
between Lyons and Marseilles. In addition, Mr. Dodge, as has just been
hinted, was an ultra-freeman at home--a circumstance that seems always to
react, when the subject of the feeling gets into foreign countries.
"A feather running before a lady's sigh would outsail either of us in this
air, which breathes on us in some such fashion as a whale snores, Sir
George, by sudden puffs. I would give the price of a steerage passage, if
Great Britain lay off the Cape of Good Hope for a week or ten days."
"Or Cape Hatteras!" rejoined the mate.
"Not I; I wish the old island no harm, nor a worse climate than it has got
already; though it lies as much in our way just at this moment, as the
moon in an eclipse of the sun. I bear the old creature a great-grandson's
love--or a step or two farther off, if you will,--and come and go too
often to forget the relationship. But, much as I love her, the affection
is not strong enough to go ashore on her shoals, and so we will go about,
Mr. Leach; at the same time, I wish from my heart that two-lugged rascal
would go about his business."
The ship tacked slowly but gracefully, for she was in what her master
termed "racing trim;" and as her bows fell off to the eastward, it became
pretty evident to all who understood the subject, that the two little
lug-sails that were "eating into the wind," as the sailors express it,
would weather upon her track ere she could stretch over to the other
shoal. Even the landsmen had some feverish suspicions of the truth, and
the steerage passengers were already holding a secret conference on the
possibility of hiding the pursued in some of the recesses of the ship.
"Such things were often done," one whispered to another, "and it was as
easy to perform it now as at any other time."
But Captain Truck viewed the matter differently: his vocation called him
three times a year into the roads at Portsmouth, and he felt little
disposition to embarrass his future intercourse with the place by setting
its authorities at a too open defiance. He deliberated a good deal on the
propriety of throwing his ship up into the wind, as she slowly advanced
towards the boat, and of inviting those in the latter to board him.
Opposed to this was the pride of profession, and Jack Truck was not a man
to overlook or to forget the "yarns" that were spun among his fellows at
the New England Coffee-house, or among those farming hamlets on the banks
of the Connecticut, whence all the packet-men are derived, and whither
they repair for a shelter when their careers are run, as regularly as the
fruit decays where it falleth, or the grass that has not been harvested or
cropped withers on its native stalk.
"There is no question, Sir George, that this fellow is a man-of-war's
man," said the master to the baronet, who stuck close to his side. "Take a
peep at the creeping rogue through this night-glass, and you will see his
crew seated at their thwarts with their arms folded, like men who eat the
king's beef. None but your regular public servant ever gets that impudent
air of idleness about him, either in England or America. In this respect,
human nature is the same in both hemispheres, a man never falling in with
luck, but he fancies it is no more than his deserts."
"There seems to be a great many of them! Can it be their intention to
carry the vessel by boarding?"
"If it is, they must take the will for the deed," returned Mr. Truck a
little coldly. "I very much question if the Montauk, with three cabin
officers, as many stewards, two cooks, and eighteen foremast-men, would
exactly like the notion of being 'carried,' as you style it, Sir, George,
by a six-oared cutter's crew. We are not as heavy as the planet Jupiter,
but have somewhat too much gravity to be 'carried' as lightly as all
"You intend, then, to resist?" asked Sir George, whose generous zeal in
behalf of the pursued apparently led him to take a stronger interest in
their escape than any other person on board.
Captain Truck, who had never an objection to sport, pondered with himself
a little, smiled, and then loudly expressed a wish that he had a member of
congress or a member of parliament on board.
"Your desire is a little extraordinary for the circumstances," observed
Mr. Sharp; will you have the goodness to explain why?"
"This matter touches on international law, gentlemen." continued the
master, rubbing his hands; for, in addition to having caught the art of
introduction, the honest mariner had taken it into his head he had become
an adept in the principles of Vattel, of whom he possessed a well-thumbed
copy, and for whose dogmas he entertained the deference that they who
begin to learn late usually feel for the particular master into whose
hands they have accidentally fallen. "Under what circumstances, or in what
category, can a public armed ship compel a neutral to submit to being
boarded--not 'carried,' Sir George, you will please to remark; for d----
me, if any man 'carries' the Montauk that is not strong enough to 'carry'
her crew and cargo along with her!--but in what category, now, is a packet
like this I have the honour to command obliged, in comity, to heave-to and
to submit to an examination at all? The ship is a-weigh, and has
handsomely tacked under her canvas; and, gentlemen, I should be pleased to
have your sentiments on the occasion. Just have the condescension to point
out the category."
Mr. Dodge came from a part of the country in which men were accustomed to
think, act, almost to eat and drink and sleep, in common; or, in other
words, from one of those regions in America, in which there was so much
community, that few had the moral courage, even when they possessed the
knowledge, and all the other necessary means, to cause their individuality
to be respected. When the usual process of conventions, sub-conventions,
caucusses, and public meetings did not supply the means of a "concentrated
action," he and his neighbours had long been in the habit of having
recourse to societies, by way of obtaining "energetic means," as it was
termed; and from his tenth year up to his twenty-fifth, this gentleman had
been either a president, vice-president, manager, or committee-man, of
some philosophical, political, or religious expedient to fortify human
wisdom, make men better, and resist error and despotism. His experience
had rendered him expert in what may well enough be termed the language of
association. No man of his years, in the twenty-six states, could more
readily apply the terms of "taking up"--"excitement"--"unqualified
hostility"--"public opinion"--"spreading before the public," or any other
of those generic phrases that imply the privileges of all, and the rights
of none. Unfortunately, the pronunciation of this person was not as pure
as his motives, and he misunderstood the captain when he spoke of comity,
as meaning a "committee;" and although it was not quite obvious what the
worthy mariner could intend by "obliged in committee (comity) to
heave-to," yet, as he had known these bodies to do so many "energetic
things," he did not see why they might not perform this evolution as well
"It really does appear, Captain Truck," he remarked accordingly, "that our
situation approaches a crisis, and the suggestion of a comity (committee)
strikes me as being peculiarly proper and suitable to the circumstances,
and in strict conformity with republican usages. In order to save time,
and that the gentlemen who shall be appointed to serve may have
opportunity to report, therefore, I will at once nominate Sir George
Templemore as chairman, leaving it for any other gentleman present to
suggest the name of any candidate he may deem proper. I will only add,
that in my poor judgment this comity (committee) ought to consist of at
least three and that it have power to send for persons and papers."
"I would propose five, Captain Truck, by way of amendment," added
another passenger of the same kidney as the last speaker, gentlemen of
their school making it a point to differ a little from every proposition
by way of showing their independence.
It was fortunate for both the mover of the original motion, and for the
proposer of the amendment, that the master was acquainted with the
character of Mr. Dodge, or a proposition that his ship was to be worked by
a committee, (or indeed by comity,) would have been very likely to meet
with but an indifferent reception; but, catching a glimpse of the laughing
eyes of Eve, as well as of the amused faces of Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt, by
the light of the moon, he very gravely signified his entire approbation of
the chairman named, and his perfect readiness to listen to the report of
the aforesaid committee as soon as it might be prepared to make it.
"And if your committee, or comity, gentlemen," he added, "can tell me what
Vattel would say about the obligation to heave-to in a time of profound
peace, and when the ship, or boat, in chase, can have no belligerent
rights, I shall be grateful to my dying day; for I have looked him through
as closely as old women usually examine almanacks to tell which way the
wind is about to blow, and I fear he has overlooked the subject
Mr. Dodge, and three or four more of the same community-propensity as
himself, soon settled the names of the rest of the committee, when the
nominees retired to another part of the deck to consult together; Sir
George Templemore, to the surprise of all the Effingham party, consenting
to serve with a willingness that rather disregarded forms.
"It might be convenient to refer other matters to this committee,
captain," said Mr. Sharp, who had tact enough to see that nothing but her
habitual _retenue_ of deportment kept Eve, whose bright eyes were dancing
with humour from downright laughter: "these are the important points of
reefing and furling, the courses to be steered, the sail to be carried,
the times and seasons of calling all hands together, with sundry other
customary duties, that no doubt would be well treated on in this
"No doubt, sir; I perceive you have been at sea before, and I am sorry you
were overlooked in naming the members of the comity: take my word for
it, all that you have mentioned can be done on board the Montauk by a
comity, as well as settling the question of heaving-to, or not, for yonder
boat.--By the way, Mr. Leach, the fellows have tacked, and are standing in
this direction, thinking to cross our bows and speak us.--Mr. Attorney,
the tide is setting us off the land, and you may make it morning before
you get into your nests, if you hold on much longer. I fear Mrs. Seal and
Mrs. Grab will be unhappy women."
The bloodhounds of the law heard this warning with indifference, for they
expected succour of some sort, though they hardly knew of what sort, from
the man-of-war's boat which, it was now plain enough, must weather on the
ship. After putting their heads together, Mr. Seal offered his companion a
pinch of snuff, helping himself afterwards, like a man indifferent to the
result, and one patient in time of duty. The sun-burnt face of the
captain, whose standing colour was that which cooks get when the fire
burns the brightest, but whose hues no fire or cold ever varied, was
turned fully on the two, and it is probable they would have received some
decided manifestation of his will, had not Sir George Templemore, with the
four other committee-men, approached to give in the result of their
"We are of opinion, Captain Truck," said the baronet, "that as the ship is
under way, and your voyage may be fairly said to have commenced, it is
quite inexpedient and altogether unnecessary for you to anchor again; but
that it is your duty----"
"I have no occasion for advice as to my duty, gentlemen. If you can let me
know what Vattel says, or ought to have said, on the subject, or touching
the category of the right of search, except as a belligerent right, I will
thank you; if not, we must e'en guess at it. I have not sailed a ship in.
this trade these ten years to need any jogging of the memory about
port-jurisdiction either, for these are matters in which one gets to be
expert by dint of use, as my old master used to say when he called us from
table with half a dinner. Now, there was the case of the blacks in
Charleston, in which our government showed clearly it had not studied
Vattel, or it never would have given the answer it did. Perhaps you never
heard that case, Sir George, and as it touches a delicate principle, I
will just run over the category lightly; for it has its points, as well
as a coast."
"Does not this matter press,--may not the boat--"
"The boat will do nothing, gentlemen, without the permission of Jack
Truck. You must know, the Carolinians have a law that all niggers brought
into their state by ships, must be caged until the vessel sails again.
This is to prevent emancipation, as they call it, or abolition, I know not
which. An Englishman comes in from the islands with a crew of blacks, and,
according to law, the authorities of Charleston house them all before
night. John Bull complains to his minister, and his minister sends a note
to our secretary, and our secretary writes to the Governor of Carolina,
calling on him to respect the treaty, and so on. Gentlemen, I need not
tell you what a treaty is--it is a thing in itself to be obeyed; but it is
all important to know what it commands. Well, what was this said treaty?
That John should come in and out of the ports, on the footing of the most
favoured nation; on the _statu quo ante bellum_ principle, as Vattel has
it. Now, the Carolinians treated John just as they treated Jonathan, and
there was no more to be said. All parties were bound to enter the port,
subject to the municipals, as is set forth in Vattel. That was a case soon
settled, you perceive, though depending on a nicety."
Sir George had listened with extreme impatience, but, fearful of
offending, he listened to the end; then, seizing the first pause in the
captain's discourse, he resumed his remonstrances with an interest that
did infinite credit to his humanity, at the same time that he overlooked
none of the obligations of politeness.
"An exceedingly clear case, I protest," he answered, "and capitally put--I
question if Lord Stowell could do it better--and exceedingly apt, that
about the _ante bellum_; but I confess my feelings have not been so much
roused for a long time as they have been on account of these poor people.
There is something inexpressibly painful in being disappointed as one is
setting out in the morning of life, as it were, in this cruel manner; and
rather than see this state of things protracted, I would prefer paying a
trifle out of my own pocket. If this wretched attorney will consent, now
to take a hundred pounds and quit us, and carry back with him that
annoying cutter with the lug-sails, I will give him the money most
cheerfully,--most cheerfully, I protest."
There is something so essentially respectable in practical generosity,
that, though Eve and all the curious auditors of what was massing; felt an
inclination to laugh at the whole procedure up to this declaration, eye
met eye in commendation of the liberality of the baronet. He had shown he
had a heart, in the opinion of most of those who heard him though his
previous conversation had led several of the observers to distrust his
having the usual quantum of head.
"Give yourself no trouble about the attorney, Sir George," returned the
captain, shaking the other cordially by the hand: "he shall not touch a
pound of your money, nor do I think he is likely to touch Robert Davis. We
have caught the tide on our lee bow, and the current is wheeling us up to
windward, like an opposition coach flying over Blackheath. In a few
minutes we shall be in blue water; and then I'll give the rascal a touch
of Vattel that will throw him all aback, if it don't throw him overboard."
"But the cutter?"
"Why, if we drive the attorney and Grab out of the ship, there will be no
process in the hands of the others, by which they can carry off the man,
even admitting the jurisdiction. I know the scoundrels, and not a shilling
shall either of the knaves take from this vessel with my consent Harkee,
Sir George, a word in your ear: two of as d----d cockroaches as ever
rummaged a ship's bread-room; I'll see that they soon heave about, or I'll
heave them both into their boat, with my own fair hands."
The captain was about to turn away to examine the position of the cutter,
when Mr. Dodge asked permission to make a short report in behalf of the
minority of the comity (committee), the amount of which was, that they
agreed in all things with the majority, except on the point that, as it
might become expedient for the ship to anchor again in some of the ports
lower down the Channel, it would be wise to keep that material
circumstance in view, in making up a final decision in the affair. This
report, on the part of the minority, which, Mr. Dodge explained to the
baronet, partook rather of the character of a caution than of a protest,
had quite as little influence on Captain Truck as the opinion of the
majority, for he was just one of those persons who seldom took advice that
did not conform with his own previous decision; but he coolly continued to
examine the cutter, which by this time was standing on the same course as
the ship, a short distance to windward of her, and edging a little off the
wind, so as to bring the two nearer to each other, every yard
The wind had freshened to a little breeze, and the captain nodded his head
with satisfaction when he heard even where he stood on the quarter-deck,
the slapping of the sluggish swell, as the huge bows of the ship parted
the water. At this moment those in the cutter saw the bubbles glide
swiftly past them, while to those in the Montauk the motion was still slow
and heavy; and yet, of the two, the actual velocity was rather in favour
of the latter, both having about what is technically termed "four-knot
way" on them. The officer of the boat was quick to detect the change that
was acting against him, and by easing the sheets of his lug-sails, and
keeping the cutter as much off the wind as he could, he was soon within a
hundred feet of the ship, running along on her weather-beam. The bright
soft moonlight permitted the face of a young man in a man-of-war cap, who
wore the undress uniform of a sea lieutenant, to be distinctly seen, as he
rose in the stern-sheets, which contained also two other persons.
"I will thank you to heave-to the Montauk," said the lieutenant civilly,
while he raised his cap, apparently in compliment to the passengers who
crowded the rail to see and hear what passed. "I am sent on the duty of
the king, sir."
"I know your errand, sir," returned Captain Truck, whose resolution to
refuse to comply was a good deal shaken by the gentleman-like manner in
which the request was made; "and I wish you to bear witness, that if I do
consent to your request, it is voluntarily; for, on the principles laid
down by Vattel and the other writers on international law, the right of
search is a belligerent right, and England being at peace, no ship
belonging to one nation can have a right to stop a vessel belonging
"I cannot enter into these niceties, sir," returned the lieutenant,
sharply: "I have my orders, and you will excuse me if I say, I intend to
"Execute them, with all my heart, sir: if you are ordered to heave-to my
ship, all you have to do is to get on board if you can, and let us see the
style in which you handle yards. As to the people now stationed at the
braces, the trumpet that will make them stir is not to be spoken through
at the Admiralty. The fellow has spirit in him, and I like his principles
as an officer, but I cannot admit his conclusions as a jurist. If he
flatters himself with being able to frighten us into a new category, now,
that is likely to impair national rights, the lad has just got himself
into a problem that will need all his logic, and a good deal of his
spirit, to get out of again."
"You will scarcely think of resisting a king's officer in British waters!"
said the young man with that haughtiness that the meekest tempers soon
learn to acquire under a pennant.
"Resisting, my dear sir! I resist nothing. The misconception is in
supposing that you sail this ship instead of John Truck. That is my name,
sir; John Truck. Do your errand in welcome, but do not ask me to help you.
Come aboard, with all my heart; nothing would give me more pleasure than
to take wine with you; but I see no necessity of stopping a packet, that
is busy on a long road, without an object, as we say on the other side of
the big waters."
There was a pause, and then the lieutenant, with the sort of hesitation
that a gentleman is apt to feel when he makes a proposal that he knows
ought not to be accepted, called out that those in the boat with him would
pay for the detention of the ship. A more unfortunate proposition could
not be made to Captain Truck, who would have hove-to his ship in a moment
had the lieutenant proposed to discuss Vattel with him on the
quarter-deck, and who was only holding out as a sort of salve to his
rights, with that disposition to resist aggression that the experience of
the last forty years has so deeply implanted in the bosom of every
American sailor, in cases connected with English naval officers, and who
had just made up his mind to let Robert Davis take his chance, and to
crack a bottle with the handsome young man who was still standing up in
the boat. But Mr. Truck had been too often to London not to understand
exactly the manner in which Englishmen appreciate American character; and,
among other things, he knew it was the general opinion in the island that
money could do any thing with Jonathan; or, as Christophe is said once to
have sententiously expressed the same sentiment, "if there were a bag of
coffee in h---, a Yankee could be found to go and bring it out."
The master of the Montauk had a proper relish for his lawful gains as well
as another, but he was vain-glorious on the subject of his countrymen,
principally because he found that the packets outsailed all other
merchant-ships, and fiercely proud of any quality that others were
disposed to deny them.
At hearing this proposal, or intimation, therefore, instead of accepting
it, Captain Truck raised his hat with formal civility, and coolly wished
the other "good night." This was bringing the affair to a crisis at once;
for the helm of the cutter was borne up, and an attempt was made to run
the boat alongside of the ship. But the breeze had been steadily
increasing, the air had grown heavier as the night advanced, and the
dampness of evening was thickening the canvas of the coarser sails in a
way sensibly to increase the speed of the ship. When the conversation
commenced, the boat was abreast of the fore-rigging; and by the time it
ended, it was barely up with the mizzen. The lieutenant was quick to see
the disadvantage he laboured under, and he called out "Heave!" as he found
the cutter was falling close under the counter of the ship, and would be
in her wake in another minute. The bowman of the boat cast a light grapnel
with so much precision that it hooked in the mizzen rigging, and the line
instantly tightened so as to tow the cutter. A seaman was passing along
the outer edge of the hurricane-house at the moment, coming from the
wheel, and with the decision of an old salt, he quietly passed his knife
across the stretched cordage, and it snapped like pack-thread. The grapnel
fell into the sea, and the boat was lossing in the wake of the ship, all
as it might be while one could draw a breath. To furl the sails and ship
the oars consumed but an instant, and then the cutter was ploughing the
water under the vigorous strokes of her crew.
"Spirited! spirited and nimble!" observed Captain Truck, who stood coolly
leaning against a shroud, in a position where he could command a view of
all that was passing, improving the opportunity to shake the ashes from
his cigar while he spoke; "a fine young fellow, and one who will make an
admiral, or something better, I dare say, if he live;--perhaps a cherub,
in time. Now, if he pull much longer in the back-water of our wake, I
shall have to give him up, Leach, as a little marin-_ish:_ ah! there he
sheers out of it, like a sensible youth as he is! Well, there is something
pleasant in the conceit of a six-oared boat's carrying a London liner by
boarding, even admitting the lad could have got alongside."
So, it would seem, thought Mr. Leach and the crew of the Montauk; for they
were clearing the decks with as much philosophy as men ever discover when
employed in an unthankful office. This _sang-froid_ of seamen is always
matter of surprise to landsmen; but adventurers who have been rocked in
the tempest for years, whose utmost security is a great hazard, and whose
safety constantly depends on the command of the faculties, come in time to
experience an apathy on the subject of all the minor terrors and
excitements of life, that none can acquire unless by habit and similar
risks. There was a low laugh among the people, and now and then a curious
glance of the eye over the quarter to ascertain the position of the
struggling boat; but there the effect of the little incident ceased, so
far as the seamen were concerned.
Not so with the passengers. The Americans exulted at the failure of the
man-of-war's man, and the English doubted. To them, deference to the crown
was habitual, and they were displeased at seeing a stranger play a king's
boat such a trick, in what they justly enough thought to be British
waters. Although the law may not give a man any more right than another to
the road before his own door, he comes in time to fancy it, in a certain
degree, his particular road. Strictly speaking, the Montauk was perhaps
still under the dominion of the English laws, though she had been a
league from the land when laying at her anchor, and by this time the tide
and her own velocity had swept her broad off into the offing quite as far
again; indeed she had now got to such a distance from the land, that
Captain Truck thought it his "duty" to bring matters to a conclusion with
"Well, Mr. Seal," he said, "I am grateful for the pleasure of your company
thus far; but you will excuse me if I decline taking you and Mr. Grab
quite to America. Half an hour hence you will hardly be able to find the
island; for as soon as we have got to a proper distance from the cutter, I
shall tack to the south-west, and you ought, moreover, to remember the
anxiety of the ladies at home."
"This may turn out a serious matter, Captain Truck, on your return
passage! The laws of England are not to be trifled with. Will you oblige
me by ordering the steward to hand me a glass of water? Waiting for
justice is dry duty, I find."
"Extremely sorry I cannot comply, gentlemen. Vattel has nothing on the
subject of watering belligerents, or neutrals, and the laws of Congress
compel me to carry so many gallons to the man. If you will take it in the
way of a nightcap, however, and drink success to our run to America, and
your own to the shore, it shall be in champagne, if you happen to like
that agreeable fluid."
The attorney was about to express his readiness to compromise on these
terms, when a glass of the beverage for which he had first asked was put
into his hand by the wife of Robert Davis. He took the water, drank it,
and turned from the woman with the obduracy of one who never suffered
feeling to divert him from the pursuit of gain. The wine was brought, and
the captain filled the glasses with a seaman's heartiness.
"I drink to your safe return to Mrs. Seal, and the little gods and
goddesses of justice,--Pan or Mercury, which is it? And as for you, Grab,
look out for sharks as you pull in. If they hear of your being afloat, the
souls of persecuted sailors will set them on you, as the devil chases male
coquettes. Well, gentlemen, you are balked this time; but what matters it?
It is but another man got safe out of a country that has too many in it;
and I trust we shall meet good friends again this day four months. Even
man and wife must part, when the hour arrives."
"That will depend on how my client views your conduct on this occasion,
Captain Truck; for he is not a man that it is always safe to thwart."
"That for your client, Mr. Seal!" returned the captain, snapping his
fingers. "I am not to be frightened with an attorney's growl, or a
bailiff's nod. You come off with a writ or a warrant, I care not which; I
offer no resistance; you hunt for your man, like a terrier looking for a
rat, and can't find him; I see the fine fellow, at this moment, on
deck,--but I feel no obligation to tell you who or where he is; my ship is
cleared and I sail, and you have no power to stop me; we are outside of
all the head-lands, good two leagues and a half off, and some writers say
that a gun-shot is the extent of your jurisdiction, once out of which,
your authority is not worth half as much as that of my chief cook, who has
power to make his mate clean the coppers. Well, sir, you stay here ten
minutes longer and we shall be fully three leagues from your nearest land,
and then you are in America, according to law, and a quick passage you
will have made of it. Now, that is what I call a category."
As the captain made this last remark, his quick eye saw that the wind had
hauled so far round to the westward, as to supersede the necessity of
tacking, and that they were actually going eight knots in a direct line
from Portsmouth. Casting an eye behind him, he perceived that the cutter
had given up the chase, and was returning towards the distant roads. Under
circumstances so discouraging, the attorney, who began to be alarmed for
his boat, which was flying along on the water, towed by the ship, prepared
to take his leave; for he was fully aware that he had no power to compel
the other to heave-to his ship, to enable him to get out of her. Luckily
the water was still tolerably smooth, and with fear and trembling, Mr.
Seal succeeded in blundering into the boat; not, however, until the
watermen had warned him of their intention to hold on no longer. Mr. Grab
followed, with a good deal of difficulty, and just as a hand was about to
let go the painter, the captain appeared at the gangway with the man they
were in quest of, and said in his most winning manner--
"Mr. Grab, Mr. Davis; Mr. Davis, Mr Grab; I seldom introduce steerage
passengers, but to oblige two old friends I break the rule. That's what I
call a category. My compliments to Mrs. Grab. Let go the painter"
The words were no sooner uttered than the boat was tossing and whirling in
the caldron left by the passing ship.
What country, Mends, is this?
Captain Truck cast an eye aloft to see if everything drew, as coolly as if
nothing out of the usual course had happened; he and his crew having,
seemingly, regarded the attempt to board them as men regard the natural
phenomena of the planets, or in other words, as if the ship, of which they
were merely parts, had escaped by her own instinct or volition. This habit
of considering the machine as the governing principle is rather general
among seamen, who, while they ease a brace, or drag a bowline, as the
coachman checks a rein, appear to think it is only permitting the creature
to work her own will a little more freely. It is true all _know_ better,
but none talk, or indeed would seem to _feel_, as if they thought
"Did you observe how the old barky jumped out of the way of those rovers
in the cutter?" said the captain complacently to the quarter-deck group,
when his survey aloft had taken sufficient heed that his own nautical
skill should correct the instinct of the ship. "A skittish horse, or a
whale with the irons in him, or, for that matter, one of the funniest of
your theatricals, would not have given a prettier aside than this poor old
hulk, which is certainly just the clumsiest craft that sails the ocean. I
wish King William would take it into his royal head, now, to send one of
his light-heeled cruisers out to prove it, by way of resenting the
cantaverous trick the Montauk played his boat!"
The dull report of a gun, as the sound came short and deadened up against
the breeze, checked the raillery of Mr. Truck. On looking to leeward,
there was sufficient light to see the symmetrical sails of the corvette
they had left at anchor, trimmed close by the wind, and the vessel itself
standing out under a press of canvas, apparently in chase. The gun had
evidently been fired as a signal of recall to the cutter, blue lights
being burnt on board of both the ship and its boat, in proof that they
The passengers now looked gravely at each other, for the matter, in their
eyes, began to be serious. Some suggested the possibility that the offence
of Davis might be other than debt, but this was disproved by the process
and the account of the bailiff himself; while most concluded that a
determination to resent the slight done the authorities had caused the
cruiser to follow them out, with the intention of carrying them back
again. The English passengers in particular began now to reason in favour
of the authority of the crown, while those who were known to be Americans
grew warm in maintaining the rights of their flag. Both the Effinghams,
however, were moderate in the expression of their opinions; for education,
years, and experience, had taught them to discriminate justly.
"As respects the course of Captain Truck, in refusing to permit the cutter
to board him, he is probably a better judge than any of us," Mr. Effingham
observed with gentlemanly reserve--"for he must better understand the
precise position of his ship at the time; but concerning the want of right
in a foreign vessel of war to carry this ship into port in a time of
profound peace, when sailing on the high seas, as will soon be the case
with the Montauk,--admitting that she is not there at present,--I should
think there can be no reasonable doubt. The dispute, if there is to be
any, has now to become matter of negotiation; or redress must be sought
through the general agents of the two nations, and not taken by the
inferior officers of either party. The instant Montauk reaches the public
highway of nations, she is, within the exclusive jurisdiction of the
country under whose flag she legally sails."
"Vattel, to the back-bone!" said the captain, giving a nod of approbation,
again clearing the end of his cigar.
Now, John Effingham was a man of strong feelings, which is often but
another word for a man of strong prejudices; and he had been educated
between thirty or forty years before, which is saying virtually, that he
was educated under the influence of the British opinions, that then
weighed (and many of which still weigh) like an incubus on the national
interests of America. It is true, Mr. Effingham was in all senses the
contemporary, as he had been the school-fellow, of his cousin; that they
loved each other as brothers, had the utmost reliance on each other's
principles in the main, thought alike in a thousand things, and yet, in
the particular of English domination, it was scarcely possible for one man
to resemble another less than the widowed kinsman resembled the bachelor.
Edward Effingham was a singularly just-minded man, and having succeeded at
an early age to his estate, he had lived many years in that intellectual
retirement which, by withdrawing him from the strifes of the world, had
left a cultivated sagacity to act freely on a natural disposition. At the
period when the entire republic was, in substance, exhibiting the
disgraceful picture of a nation torn by adverse factions, that had their
origin in interests alien to its own; when most were either Englishmen or
Frenchmen, he had remained what nature, the laws and reason intended him
to be, an American. Enjoying the _otium cum dignitate_ on his hereditary
estate, and in his hereditary abode, Edward Effingham, with little
pretensions to greatness, and with many claims to goodness, had hit the