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Newton Forster by Frederick Marryat

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The same party who wrote this epistle also framed another in imitation of
Mr Sullivan's handwriting, in which Mr Sullivan acquainted the colonel,
that having been informed by a mutual friend that he had been in error
relative to Colonel Ellice's behaviour of the night before, he begged to
withdraw the challenge, and apologise for having suspected the colonel of
incivility, &c. That having been informed that Colonel Ellice embarked at
an early hour, he regretted that he would not be able to pay his respects
to him, and assure him, &c.

The receipt of this letter, just as the colonel had finished a cup of
coffee, preparatory to starting, made him, as a single man, quite as happy
as the married couple: he hastened to put the letter into the hands of
Captain Carrington, little thinking that he was handing it over to the
writer.

"You observe, Captain Carrington, he won't come to the scratch. Perhaps as
well for him that he does not," said the colonel, chuckling in his glee.

The breakfast was early; the colonel talked big, and explained the whole
affair to the ladies, quite unconscious that everyone in the company knew
that the hoax had been played upon him. Before noon, everyone had
re-embarked on board of their respective ships, and their lofty sails were
expanded to a light and favouring breeze.

Chapter XXXVI

"Isabel.--Anywhere to avoid matrimony: the thought of a husband is
terrible to me.

Inis.--But if you might choose for yourself, I fancy matrimony would
be no such frightful thing to you."

"_The Wonder._"

The _Boadicea_, with the Indiamen, proceeded on to their destination,
Captain Carrington taking every opportunity which light winds and smooth
water afforded him of paying his respects to the ladies on board of the
_Bombay Castle_, or of inviting them on board of the frigate. The fact was
that he had fallen most desperately in love with Isabel Revel, and paid her
the most marked attention; but, although a pleasant, light-hearted
companion, and a young man of good family and prospects, Isabel Revel had
not fallen in love with him: she liked his company, but nothing more.

In a month the squadron had arrived at the island of St Helena, to which
Captain Carrington had been ordered to convoy them: his directions were
then to cruise in a certain latitude, and ultimately to proceed on to the
East Indies, if he did not fall in with the vessels he expected. It was,
therefore, but parting to meet again; but during the short time that they
refitted and completed their water at St Helena, Captain Carrington
proposed, and was politely refused by Isabel Revel. Impatient as a boy who
has been denied his plaything, he ordered his stores immediately on board,
and the next day quitted the island. It may appear strange that a young
lady, obviously sent out on speculation, should have refused so
advantageous an offer; for the speculation commences with the voyage. Some
ladies are selected at Madeira. Since the Cape has been in our possession,
several have been induced to stay in that colony; and very often ships
arrive with only the refuse of their cargo for the intended market in the
East. But Isabel Revel had consented to embark on the score of filial duty,
not to obtain a husband, unless she liked the gentleman who proposed; and
Captain Carrington did not happen to come up to her fanciful ideas of the
person to be chosen for life. Captain Carrington did not impart the
intelligence of his ill-success to anyone but Newton, who was employed to
carry his farewell message. His secret was faithfully kept by both. Isabel
Revel was not one of those young ladies who would make use of such an
unworthy advantage to heighten her consequence in the eyes of others. But
there was another reason, not exactly known to Isabel herself at the time,
which prevented her from listening to the proposals of Captain Carrington.
Had she questioned her own heart, she would have discovered that she was
prepossessed in favour of one who as unconsciously had become attached to
her. He knew his own feelings, but had checked them in the bud, aware that
he had nothing to offer but himself. This person was Newton Forster. His
intimacy with Captain Carrington, the attention shown him by Captain
Drawlock (who entrusted him to work the chronometers!!), his own excellent
character and handsome person, had raised him to more importance than his
situation as a junior officer would have warranted; and his behaviour was
such as to have secured him the good-will of everyone on board of the ship.
Newton's unassuming, frank manner, added to a large stock of general
information, occasioned his society to be courted, even by those who would
otherwise have been inclined to keep at a distance one in his subordinate
rank.

When they arrived at St Helena, the first mate, for a wonder, no longer
made any difficulty of going on shore for an hour or two, if he knew that
Newton would be the commanding officer during his absence; nay, so high did
he stand in the opinion of his captain, that not only was he permitted to
take charge of the chronometers, but if called away for a time below,
Captain Drawlock would hand over to Newton's charge any one of the
unmarried _responsibilities_ who might happen to be leaning on his arm.

The India men being now left to protect themselves, the senior officer,
Commodore Bottlecock, issued most elaborate memorandum, as to the order of
sailing, exercise of the men at the great guns and small arms, and every
other point which could tend to their security by due preparation.
Nevertheless, the ladies continued to appear on deck. Mrs Ferguson sate in
her majesty; the young ladies tittered, and were reprimanded; the young
gentlemen were facetious, and were rebuked; the old colonel talked of his
adventure at Madeira, and compared everything to the spent ball in the
battle of----. Dr Plausible had become a most assiduous attendant upon Miss
Tavistock, ever since he had satisfactorily ascertained that she had
property of her own; everybody had become intimate: everyone was becoming
tired, when the bearings and distance at noon placed them about two hundred
miles from Point de Galle, the southernmost extremity of Ceylon. The wind
was fresh and fair, and they congratulated each other upon a speedy
termination to their tedious voyage.

Dinner was announced by the old tune of "Oh! the roast beef of Old
England;" and during a long voyage the announcement of dinner is a very
great relief every way. As had been the invariable rule throughout the
whole of the voyage, Miss Charlotte and Miss Laura Revel were placed on the
one side of Captain Drawlock, Miss Tavistock and Isabel Revel on the other.
They were flanked on the other side by Mrs and Mr Ferguson, who thus
separated them from any undue collision with the gentlemen passengers or
officers of the ship. The colonel was placed next to Mrs Ferguson, the
young writer next to her husband: then the two cadets, supported by the
doctor and purser, the remainder of the table being filled up with the
officers of the ship, with the first mate at the foot. Such was the order
of Captain Drawlock's dinner-sailing; as strictly adhered to as the
memorandum of Commodore Bottlecock: the only communication permitted with
the young ladies under his charge (unless married men) being to "request
the honour of drinking a glass of wine with them."

All this may appear very absurd; but a little reflection will convince the
reader to the contrary. There is a serious responsibility on a captain of
an India man, who takes charge of perhaps a dozen young women, who are to
be cooped up for months in the same ship with as many young men. Love,
powerful everywhere, has on the waters even more potent sway, hereditary, I
presume, from his mother's nativity. Idleness is the friend of Love; and
passengers have little or nothing to do to while away the tedium of a
voyage. In another point, he has great advantage, from the limited number
of the fair sex. In a ball or in general society, a man may see hundreds of
women, admire many, yet fall in love with none. Numbers increase the
difficulty of choice, and he remains delighted, but not enslaved. But on
board of a ship, the continued presence of one whom he admires by
comparison out of the few--one who, perhaps, if on shore, would in a short
time be eclipsed by another, but who here shines without competition--gives
her an advantage which, assisted by idleness and opportunity, magnifies her
attractions, and sharpens the arrow of all conquering Love. Captain
Drawlock perhaps knew this from experience; he knew also that the friends
of one party, if not of both, might be displeased by any contract formed
when under his surveillance, and that his character and the character of
his ship (for ships nowadays have characters, and very much depend upon
them for their well doing) might suffer in consequence. Strict as he might
therefore appear, he was only doing his duty.

Grace being requested from Mr Ferguson, he indulged the company with one
quite as long as usual; rather too long, considering that the ship was very
unsteady, and the ladies had to cling to the table for support. But Mr
Ferguson was not a sailor, or he would have known that it is the custom to
reduce the grace in proportion with the canvas. When the royals are set, we
submit to a homily; under double-reefed topsails, a blessing; but under
storm stay-sails, an ejaculation is considered as orthodox.

"Mrs Ferguson, will you permit me to send you a little mulligatawny?" said
Captain Drawlock: "If you prefer it, there is sheep's head broth at the
other end of the table."

"Then I will take a little of the broth, if you please, Captain Drawlock."

"Mr Mathews, Mrs Ferguson will take some broth. I am sorry, Mrs Ferguson,
that our table is so ill supplied; but a long voyage and bad weather has
been very fatal to our hen-coops."

"Indeed, Captain Drawlock, you need not apologise." Nor was there any
occasion, for the table was loaded.

"Perhaps Miss Laura Revel will permit me to send her a slice of this
mutton?" said the obsequious colonel.

"No, I thank you; I have eaten nothing but mutton lately. I think I shall
be a sheep myself soon," added the young lady, tittering.

"That would be very much against your inclination, I should think, Miss
Laura," observed Mrs Ferguson, tartly.

"La! why so? how do you know, Mrs Ferguson?"

"Because a sheep never changes its name until after it is dead. I shrewdly
suspect you would like to change yours before."--(This was a hard hit.)

"As you have yours, Mrs Ferguson," quietly answered Isabel, in support of
her sister.

"Very fair on both sides," said the colonel, bowing to the ladies, who sat
together. "Pray, Miss Laura, don't talk of being a sheep, we are all ready
to devour you as it is."

"La! you don't say so?" replied the young lady, much pleased.

"Colonel Ellice," interrupted Captain Drawlock, with a serious air,
"several of the company will thank you to carve that joint, when you have
finished paying your compliments. Miss Tavistock, the honour of a glass of
wine. We have not had the pleasure of your company on deck to-day."

"No, Captain Drawlock. I did intend to come, but my health is in such a
delicate state, that by the advice of Dr Plausible I remained below."

"Miss Tavistock, will you allow me to send you some mutton?"

"If you please, colonel; a very small slice."

"Mr Forster, what have you in that dish before you?"

"A chicken, Captain Drawlock."

"Miss Isabel Revel, will you take some chicken?"

"No, I thank you, Captain Drawlock," replied Isabel.

"Did you say yes or no?" inquired Newton, who had caught her eye.

"I'll change my mind," said Isabel, smiling.

Now, I know it for a fact, although I shall not give up my authority, that
Isabel Revel never wanted any chicken until she perceived that Newton was
to help her. So, if Love occasionally takes away the appetite, let us do
him justice--he sometimes creates one.

"Miss Tavistock, allow me to send you a little of this turkey," said Dr
Plausible; "it is easy of digestion."

"If you please, doctor," replied Miss Tavistock, cramming the last mouthful
of mutton into her mouth, and sending away her plate to be changed.

"Will you not take a little ham with it, Miss Tavistock?" said Captain
Drawlock.

"If you please, sir."

"The honour of a glass of wine, Miss Tavistock," said the colonel.

"With pleasure, sir."

"Miss Charlotte Revel, you have really eaten nothing," said Captain
Drawlock.

"That proves you have not paid me the least attention," replied the young
lady. "Had you honoured me with a single glance during dinner, you could
not but have observed that I have been dining very heartily."

"I really am quite shocked, Miss Charlotte, and bow to your reproof. Will
you take a glass of wine with me, in reconciliation?"

"I consider a glass of Madeira a very poor bribe, sir."

"Well, then, Miss Charlotte, it shall be champagne," replied Captain
Drawlock, in his gallantry. "Steward, champagne." A fortunate hit for the
company; as champagne was in general only produced upon what sailors call
"clean shirt days,"--viz., Sundays and Thursdays.

"We are highly indebted to Miss Revel," observed the colonel, bowing to
her; "and I think we ought to drink her health in a bumper."

Agreed to, _nem. con._

Champagne, thou darling of my heart! To stupefy oneself with other wines,
is brutal; but to raise oneself to the seventh heaven with thee, is quite
ethereal. The soul appears to spurn the body, and take a transient flight
without its dull associate--the--the--broke down, by Jupiter! All I meant
to say was, that champagne is very pretty _tipple_; and so thought the
dinner party, who were proportionally enlivened.

"Is this orthodox, Mr Ferguson?" inquired the colonel, holding up his
glass.

"So far orthodox, that it is very good; and what is orthodox is good,"
replied the divine, with good-humour.

"The _Asia_ has made the signal for 'a strange sail--suspicious,'" said the
second mate to Captain Drawlock, putting his head into the cabin.

"Very well, Mr Jones, keep a glass upon the commodore."

"Mrs Ferguson, will you take some of this tart! Damascene, I believe," said
the first mate.

"If you please, Mr Mathews.--Did not Mr Jones say 'suspicious?'--What does
that imply?"

"Imply, madam; why, that he don't like the cut of her jib!"

"And pray what does that mean?"

"Mean, madam: why, that for all he knows to the contrary, she may be a
French frigate."

"A French frigate! a French frigate! O dear! O dear!" cried two or three
ladies at a breath.

"Mr Mathews," said Captain Drawlock, "I am really surprised at your
indiscretion. You have alarmed the ladies. A suspicious sail, Mrs Ferguson,
merely implies--in fact, that they do not know what she is."

"Is that _all_ it means?" replied Mrs Ferguson, with an incredulous look.

"Nothing more, madam; nothing more, I assure you."

"Commodore has made signal that the strange vessel is a man-of-war bearing
down," said the second mate, again entering the cabin.

"Very well, Mr Jones," said Captain Drawlock, with assumed indifference,
but at the same time fidgeting on his chair.

The first mate and Newton immediately quitted the cabin.

"Miss Tavistock, will you take a little of this pudding?"

"If you please, sir, a very little."

"A man-of-war! I'll go and have a look at her," said the colonel, who rose
up, bowed to the ladies, and left the cuddy.

"Most probably one of our cruisers," observed Captain Drawlock.

"The commodore has made the signal to prepare for action, sir," said the
second mate.

"Very well, Mr Jones," said Captain Drawlock, who could now restrain
himself no longer. "You must excuse me, ladies, for a moment or two; but
our commodore is so _very_ prudent a man, and I am under his orders. In a
short time I hope to return to the pleasure of your society."

Captain Drawlock's departure was followed by that of all the male party,
with the exception of Dr Plausible and Mr Ferguson, both of whom, however,
were anxious to go upon deck, and ascertain how matters stood.

"Mr Ferguson, where are you going?" said his wife, sharply. "Pray! sir, do
us the favour to remain. Your profession, if I mistake not, is one of
peace."

"Oh! Doctor Plausible, I feel very unwell," cried Miss Tavistock.

"I will stay with you, my dear madam," replied the doctor.

A gun from the commodore's ship, which was close to windward of them, burst
upon their ears, rattling the cabin windows, and making every wine glass on
the table to dance with the concussion.

"Oh! oh! oh!" screamed Miss Tavistock, throwing herself back in her chair,
and expanding her arms and fingers.

Doctor Plausible flew to the lady's assistance.

"The extreme fineness of her organic structure,--a little water, if you
please, Miss Charlotte Revel."

A tumbler of water was poured out, and Doctor Plausible, dipping the tip of
his forefinger into it, passed it lightly over the lady's brows. "She will
be better directly."

But the lady did not think proper to _come_ to so soon as the doctor
prophesied, and Mrs Ferguson, snatching up the tumbler, dashed the contents
with violence in Miss Tavistock's face; at which Miss Tavistock not only
revived, but jumped up from her chair, blowing and spluttering.

"Are you better now, Miss Tavistock?" said Mrs Ferguson, soothingly, at the
same time glancing her eyes at the other ladies, who could not restrain
their mirth.

"Oh! Doctor Plausible, that shock has so affected my nerves, I feel that I
shall faint again, I do indeed--I'm going--"

"Lean upon me, Miss Tavistock, and permit me to conduct you to your cabin,"
replied the doctor; "the extreme delicacy of your constitution," continued
he, whispering, as they left the cuddy, "is not equal to the boisterous
remedies of Mrs Ferguson."

As they went out, Newton Forster came in.

"You must not be alarmed, ladies, when I state that I am commissioned by
Captain Drawlock to inform you that the stranger's manoeuvres are so
doubtful, that we think she is an enemy. He has desired me to request you
will accept my convoy to the lower-deck, where you will be safe from
accident, in the event of our coming to an engagement. Mr Ferguson, the
captain entrusts the ladies to your charge, and requests that you will not
leave them upon any consideration. Now, Mrs Ferguson, will you permit me to
escort you to a place of security?"

At this intelligence Laura Revel stared, Charlotte burst into tears, and
Isabel turned pale. Mrs Ferguson took the arm of Newton without saying a
word, when the other was offered and accepted by Isabel. Mr Ferguson, with
the two other sisters, brought up the rear. The ladies had to pass the
quarter-deck, and when they saw the preparations--the guns cast loose, the
shot lying on the deck, and all the various apparatus for
destruction--their fears increased. When they had been conducted to their
place of safety, Newton was about to return on deck, when he was seized by
Miss Charlotte and Laura Revel, who entreated him not to leave them.

"Do stay with us, Mr Forster; pray, don't go," cried they both.

"I must, indeed, ladies; you are perfectly safe here."

"For God's sake, don't you go away, Mr Forster!" cried Laura, falling on
her knees. "I shall die of fright.--You sha'n't go!" screamed Laura, as the
two sisters clung on to the skirts of his jacket, and effectually prevented
his escape, unless, like the patriarch, he had left his garment behind.

Newton cast an appealing glance at Isabel, who immediately
interfered,--"Charlotte, for shame! you are preventing Mr Forster from
going to his duty. My dear Laura, do not be so foolish; Mr Forster can be
of no service to us: but he will be on deck. Let go, Laura."

Newton was released. "I am much obliged to you, Miss Isabel," said Newton,
with his foot on the ladder; "but I have no time now to express my
thanks--not to be on deck--"

"I know it, Mr Forster: go up, I beseech you; do not wait a moment:" and
Newton sprang up the ladder; but not before he had exchanged with Isabel a
glance which, had he been deficient in courage, would have nerved him for
the approaching combat. We must leave the ladies with Mr Ferguson (who had
no pleasant office), while we follow Newton on deck. The stranger had borne
down with studding-sails, until within three miles of the Indiamen, when
she rounded to. She then kept away a little, to close nearer, evidently
examining the force opposed to her. The Indiamen had formed the line of
battle in close order, the private signal between English men-of-war and
East India ships flying at their mast-heads.

"Extremely strange, that she does not answer the private signal," said the
colonel to the second mate.

"Not at all, if she don't know how."

"You are convinced, then, that she is a French frigate?"

"No, not positive; but I'll bet you ten to one she is:--bet off if either
of us are killed, of course!"

"Thanky; I never bet," answered the colonel, turning away.

"What do you think of her, Mr Mathews?" said Captain Drawlock to the first
mate, who had his eye on the ship.

"She is English built and English rigged, sir, that I'll swear; look at her
lower yard-arms, the squaring of her topsails. She may be French now, but
the oak in her timbers grew in Old England."

"I agree with you," said Newton: "look at the rake of her stern; she is
English all over."

"Then, why don't she answer the private signal?" said Captain Drawlock.

"She's right in the wind's eye of us, sir, and our flags are blowing end on
from her."

"There goes up her bunting, sir," cried the first mate.

"English, as I said. The commodore is answering, sir. Up with the ensign
there abaft. All's right, tell the ladies."

"I will; I'll go and inform them," said the colonel; who immediately
descended to impart the joyful intelligence.

The frigate bore down, and hove to. The commodore of the India squadron
went on board, when he found that she was cruising for some large Dutch
store-ships and vessels armed _en flute_, which were supposed to have
sailed from Java. In a quarter of an hour, she again made sail and parted
company, leaving the Indiamen to secure their guns, and pursue their
course.

There are two parties whose proceedings we had overlooked; we refer to Miss
Tavistock and Dr Plausible. The latter handed the lady to her cabin, eased
her down upon her couch, and taking her hand gently, retained it in his
own, while with his other he continued to watch her pulse.

"Do not alarm yourself, my dear Miss Tavistock; your sensibility is
immense. I will not leave you. I cannot think what could have induced you
to trust yourself on such a voyage of danger and excitement."

"Oh! Dr Plausible, where my affections are centred there is nothing, weak
creature that I am, but my soul would carry me through: indeed I am all
soul. I have a dear friend in India."

"He is most happy," observed the doctor, with a sigh.

"_He_, Dr Plausible! you quite shock me! Do you imagine for a moment that I
would go out to follow any gentleman? No, indeed, I am not going out on
speculation, as some young ladies. I have enough of my own, thank God! I
keep my carriage and corresponding establishment, I assure you."--(The very
thing that Dr Plausible required.)

"Indeed! my dear Miss Tavistock, is it then really a female friend?"

"Yes! the friend of my childhood. I have ventured this tedious, dangerous
voyage, once more to fold her in my arms."

"Disinterested affection! a heart like yours, miss, were indeed a treasure
to be won. What a happy man would your husband be!"

"Husband! Oh, Dr Plausible, don't mention it: I feel convinced,--positively
convinced, that my constitution is not strong enough to bear matrimony."

The doctor's answer was too prolix for insertion; it was a curious compound
dissertation upon love and physic, united. There was devoted attention,
extreme gentle treatment, study of pathology, advantage of medical
attendance always at hand, careful nursing, extreme solicitude, fragility
of constitution restored, propriety of enlarging the circle of her innocent
affections, ending at last in devoted love, and a proposal--to share her
carriage and establishment.

Miss Tavistock assumed another faint--the shock was so great; but the
doctor knelt by her, and kissed her hand, with well affected rapture. At
last, she murmured out a low assent, and fell back, as if exhausted with
the effort. The doctor removed his lips from her hand to her mouth, to seal
the contract; and, as she yielded to his wishes, almost regretted that he
had not adhered to his previous less assuming gallantry.

Chapter XXXVII

"'Tis sweet to hear the watch-dog's honest bark,
Bay deep-mouth'd welcome as we draw near home;
'Tis sweet to know there is an eye will mark
Our coming--and look brighter when we come."

BYRON.

Edward Forster returned home with his little _protegee_, his mind relieved
from the weight which had oppressed it: he knew that the word of his
brother was his bond, and that under a rough exterior he concealed a
generous and sympathising heart. It was in the early part of the autumn
that he again took possession of the cottage; and as he once more seated
himself in his old arm-chair, he mentally exclaimed, "Here then am I again
at anchor for a short time, until summoned to another world." His prophecy
was correct; during the severe winter that followed, his wound opened
again, and his constitution, worn out, gave way to repeated suffering. He
had not been confined to his bed more than a fortnight when he felt that
his end was approaching. He had long been prepared: nothing remained to be
done but to write a letter to his brother, which he confided to Robertson,
the fisherman, with directions that it should be put in the post-office
immediately after his death; and a strict charge to watch over the little
girl, until she should be sent for by his brother.

This last necessary act had been completed when Robertson, who was standing
by the side of the bed, with the letter in his hand, informed him that the
family at the Hall had returned from the Continent on the evening before,
with their only son, who was now restored to health. This intelligence
induced Forster to alter his plans; and trusting to the former friendship
of Lord Aveleyn, he despatched Robertson to the Hall, stating his own
condition, and requesting that his lordship would come to the cottage. Lord
Aveleyn immediately obeyed the summons; and perceiving at the first glance
that Forster's situation debarred all chance of recovery, took upon himself
with willingness the charge of the letter, and promised to receive Amber
into his house until it was convenient that she should be removed. It was
dark when Lord Aveleyn, with melancholy foreboding, took his last farewell;
for, ere the sun had risen again, the spirit of Edward Forster had regained
its liberty, and soared to the empyrean, while the deserted Amber wept and
prayed.

Edward Forster had not concealed from her the precarious tenure of his
existence, and since their return from London had made her fully acquainted
with all the particulars connected with her own history. The last few
weeks, every interval of suffering had been devoted by him to enforce those
principles which he ever had inculcated, and to prepare for the event which
had now taken place.

Amber was kneeling by the side of the bed; she had been there so long that
she was not aware that it was broad day. Her face, laid upon her hands, was
completely hidden by her luxuriant hair, which had escaped from the
confinement of the comb, when the door of the chamber of death was softly
opened. Amber, who either did not hear the noise or thought it was the
daughter of Robertson, who lived as servant in the cottage, raised not her
head. The steps continued to approach, then the sound ceased, and Amber
felt the arms of some one encircling her waist to raise her from her
kneeling posture. She lifted up her head, and dividing the hair from her
forehead, that she might see who it was, perceived that it was young
Aveleyn who was hanging over her.

"My poor little girl!" said he in a tone of commiseration.

"Oh! William Aveleyn," cried Amber, bursting into a paroxysm of tears, as
she was folded in his arms.

The sorrow of youth is sympathetic, and William Aveleyn, although seventeen
years old, and fast advancing to manhood, did not disdain to mingle his
tears with those of his former playmate. It was some time before he could
persuade Amber, who clung to him in her grief, to any degree of serenity.

"Amber dear, you must come to us at the Hall; this is no place for you
now."

"And why not, William? Why should I leave so soon? I'm not afraid of being
here, or lying by his side alone: I've seen other people die. I saw Mrs
Beazely die--I saw poor 'Faithful' die; and now, they _all_ are dead,"
said Amber, bursting into tears, and burying her face in William Aveleyn's
bosom. "I knew that he was to die," said she, raising her head, after a
time--"he told me so; but, to think that I shall never hear him speak
again--that very soon I shall never see him more--I must cry, William."

"But your father is happy, Amber."

"_He_ is happy, I know; but he was not my father, William. I have no
father--no friend on earth I know of. He told me all before he died;
'Faithful' brought me from the sea."

This intelligence roused the curiosity of William Aveleyn, who interrogated
Amber, and obtained from her the whole of the particulars communicated by
Edward Forster; and, as she answered to his many questions, she grew more
composed.

The narrative had scarcely been finished, when Lord Aveleyn, who had been
summoned by Robertson, drove to the door accompanied by Lady Aveleyn, who
thought that her presence and persuasions would more readily induce Amber
to leave the cottage. Convinced by her of the propriety of the proposal,
Amber was put into the carriage without resistance, and conveyed to the
Hall, where everything that kindness and sympathy could suggest was
resorted to, to assuage her grief. There we must leave her, and repair to
the metropolis.

"Scratton," said Mr John Forster to his clerk, who had answered the bell,
"recollect I cannot see anyone today."

"You have several appointments, sir," replied the clerk.

"Then send, and put them all off."

"Yes, sir; and if anyone calls, I am to say that you are not at home?"

"No, I am at home; why tell a lie? but I cannot see anybody."

The clerk shut the door; John Forster put on his spectacles to re-peruse
the letter which lay before him. It was the one from Edward, inclosed in a
frank by Lord Aveleyn, with a few lines, announcing his brother's death,
and stating that Amber was at the Hall, where they should be glad that she
should remain until it was convenient to send for her. Edward's letter
repeated his thanks to his brother for his kind promise, and took a last
and affectionate farewell. John Forster struggled for a time with his
feelings; but the more he attempted to repress them the more violent they
became. He was alone, and he gave them vent. The legal documents before
him, arising from the bitterness of strife, were thus unusually moistened
with a tribute to a brother's memory. But in a few moments the old lawyer
was himself again; all traces of emotion had disappeared, and no one who
had seen him then would ever have imagined that John Forster could have
been thus moved. The next day he was not as usual to be found at his
chambers: the fact was, that he had set off immediately after breakfast,
upon what is generally termed "house hunting." The apartments which he
occupied in his chambers were not sufficient for the intended increase of
his establishment; and when he had given his promise to Edward, he was
fully aware of the expense which would be entailed by receiving Amber, and
had made up his mind to incur it. He therefore fixed upon a convenient
house in Lincoln's Inn Fields, which would not detach him far from his
chambers. Having arranged for a lease of twelve years, John Forster
returned to his chambers.

"Scratton," said he, "look out for a man-servant, a cook, housemaid, and a
steady woman as housekeeper--good characters, and undeniable reference. The
housekeeper must be a somewhat superior person, as she will have to take
charge of a young miss, and I do not want her spoiled by keeping company
with the general description of servants. Do you understand?"

Scratton did; and in less than a month, as everything is to be obtained for
money in the city of London, the house was furnished by a city upholsterer
in a plain way, and all the servants installed in their respective
situations.

Mr John Forster took possession of his new house, and tried for a week if
all worked well. Ascertaining that the furniture was complete, the
under-servants well behaved, and the housekeeper a mild and very
intelligent personage, fit to be intrusted with the charge of a little
girl, he then wrote to Lord Aveleyn, reiterating the thanks conveyed in his
former letter, and requesting that Amber might be delivered into the charge
of the bearer. With this letter Mr Scratton was despatched, and, in due
time, arrived at the Hall. Amber wept bitterly at the idea of parting with
those who had been so kind to her, and passing into the hands of one who
was a stranger. Having exacted a promise from William Aveleyn that he would
call as he passed through on his way to Cambridge, she bade her kind
friends farewell, entered the chaise in company with Mr Scratton, and was
hurried off to London.

Mr Scratton was one of those personages who never spoke except on business;
and, having no business to transact with a girl of twelve years old, he
never spoke at all, except when necessity rendered it imperative. Amber
was, therefore, left to her own reflections. What they all were, I cannot
tell, but one certainly was, that travelling in a chaise for two days with
Mr Scratton was not very agreeable. Most happy was she when they drove up
to the door of Mr John Forster's new habitation. The old gentleman, who had
calculated the hour of her arrival after the receipt of a letter from her
companion, was there to receive her. Amber, who had been prepossessed in
his favour by Edward Forster, who had told her that in his brother she
would find a protector and indulgent parent, ran up to him when she entered
the room, and burst into tears as the injunctions of Edward Forster
returned to her memory. John Forster took her in his arms and kissed her.
"My little girl," said he, "what my brother was, such will I be to you.
Consider me as your father; for his memory, and I hope soon, for your own
sake, I shall rejoice to be so."

After an hour, by which time Amber had recovered her serenity, and become
almost cheerful, she was consigned to the charge of Mrs Smith, the
housekeeper, and John Forster hastened back to his chambers and his
clients, to make up for so much lost time.

It was not long before the old gentleman discovered that the trouble and
expense which he had incurred to please his brother was the occasion of
pleasure and gratification. He no longer felt isolated in the world: in
short, he had a _home_, where a beaming eye met his return, and an
affectionate heart ministered to his wishes; where his well known rap at
the door was a source of delight, and his departure one of regret.

In a few months Amber had entwined herself round the old man's heart: the
best masters were procured for her, and all the affection of a doting
parent upon an only child was bestowed by him who, when the proposition was
made, had declared that "it was bad enough to maintain children of one's
own begetting."

Bless my soul! how poor authors are obliged to gallop about. Now I must be
off again to India, and get on board of the _Bombay Castle_.

Chapter XXXVIII

"A green and gilded snake had wreathed itself,
Who, with her head, nimble in threats, approach'd
The opening of his mouth."

SHAKESPEARE.

The _Bombay Castle_ arrived at Madras without further adventure. A few
hours after she had anchored, all the passengers, receiving kind messages
from, or escorted on shore by their relatives or consignees, had landed;
all, with the exception of the three Miss Revels, whose anxiety to land was
increased by the departure of the others, and the unpleasant situation in
which they were placed, by remaining a clog upon Captain Drawlock, who
would not quit his ship until he had surrendered up his charge. By inquiry
of the dubashes, Captain Drawlock found out that old Colonel Revel was
residing at his bungalow, about two miles distant from the fort; and
supposing him not to be aware of the arrival of his grand-nieces, he
despatched Newton Forster to acquaint him with the circumstance. It was
late in the afternoon when Newton arrived at the residence of the colonel,
when he perceived immediately that everything was on the establishment of
an old Indian nabob. A double set of palanquin-bearers were stretched under
the verandas; syces were fanning the horses with their chowries, tailors
and various craftsmen were at work in the shade, while a herd of consumers,
butlers, and other Indian domestics, were loitering about, or very busy
doing nothing.

It will be necessary, before Newton is introduced to the colonel, that the
colonel should be introduced to the reader. He was a man of nearly sixty
years of age, forty-five of which, with the exception of occasional
furlough, had been passed in the country. Having held several lucrative
situations for many years, and, although not parsimonious, being very
prudent in money concerns, he had amassed a very large fortune. More than
once he had returned to England on leave, and with the full intention of
remaining there, if he could be comfortable; but a few months in his native
country only made him more anxious to return to India. His habits, his
tastes, were all Eastern; the close hospitality, the cold winter of
England, the loss of consequence, naturally resulting when a man mixes in
the crowd of London, all disgusted him, and he invariably returned to India
long before his furlough had expired. He was a bachelor from choice. When
young, he had been very cruelly treated by the object of his admiration,
who deserted him for a few lacs of rupees, which offered themselves with an
old man as their appendage. This had raised his bile against the sex in
general, whom he considered as mercenary and treacherous. His parties were
numerous and expensive, but women were never to be seen in his house; and
his confirmed dislike to them was the occasion of his seldom visiting,
except with those who were like himself in a state of happy singleness. In
other points, he was a liberal, worthy man, and a perfect gentleman, but
extremely choleric in disposition.

Newton addressed himself to one of the butlers, requesting to be announced.
The man led the way to a spacious hall, coated and floored with chunam,
when Newton perceived the colonel, who presented rather a singular
spectacle. "Burra Saib; Saib," said the Indian, and immediately retired.

The colonel was a tall, gaunt man, with high cheekbones, bushy eyebrows,
and white hair. He was seated on a solitary chair in the centre of the
hall; his dress consisting of a pair of white nankeen trousers and a white
shirt, the sleeves of the latter tucked up to his shoulders, and exposing
sinewy arms, covered with hair. By his side lay a basket of mangoes, and
before his chair a large tub of water. As Newton entered, he had an
opportunity of witnessing the most approved method of eating this exquisite
fruit. The colonel had then one as large as a cassowary's egg, held in both
hands, and applied to his mouth, while he held his head over the tub of
water, to catch the superabundant juice which flowed over his face, hands
and arms, and covered them with a yellow stain. The contents of the mango
were soon exhausted; the stone and pulp were dropped into the tub of water,
and the colonel's hand was extended to the basket for a repetition of his
luxurious feast, when Newton was announced. Newton was sorry to interrupt
him, and would have made an apology, had he not observed that the colonel,
whose back was towards him, continued his pleasing avocation: the fact was
that the colonel was so intent upon his occupation that he had neither
heard the announcement nor could he perceive Newton, who thus had an
opportunity of witnessing the demolition of at least two dozen more mangoes
without the colonel having turned his eyes in that direction, or being
aware that he was not alone. But something at length attracted the
attention of Newton, and induced him to come forward, and put an end to the
colonel's repast. The colonel had just taken another mango out of the
basket, when Newton perceived a small snake wind itself over the rim, and
curl up one of the feet of the colonel's chair, in such a position that the
very next time that the colonel reached out his hand, he must have come in
contact with the reptile. Newton hardly knew how to act; the slightest
movement of the old gentleman might be fatal to him; he therefore walked up
softly and was about to strike the reptile on the head with his stick, when
the colonel, as he leant over the tub, half rose from the chair. In an
instant, Newton snatched it from under him, and jerked it, with the snake,
to the corner of the hall. The colonel, whose centre of gravity had not
been thrown sufficiently forward to enable him to keep his feet, fell
backward, when Newton and he both rolled on the floor together; and also
both recovered their legs at the same time.

"You'll excuse me, sir," said Newton.

"I'll be d----d if I do, sir!" interrupted the colonel, in a rage. "Who the
devil are you?--and how dare you presume to play off such impertinent jokes
upon a stranger?--Where did you come from?--How did you get in, sir?"

"Is that a joke, sir?" replied Newton, calmly pointing to the snake, which
was still hissing in its wrath at the corner of the room where the chair
lay. Newton then briefly explained the circumstances.

"Sir, I beg your pardon a thousand times, and am very much your debtor. It
is the most venomous snake that we have in the country. I trust you will
accept my apology for a moment's irritation; and, at the same time, my
sincere thanks." The colonel then summoned the servants, who provided
themselves with bamboos, and soon despatched the object which had
occasioned the misunderstanding. The colonel then apologised to Newton,
while he repaired to the bath, and in a few minutes returned, having
undergone this necessary ablution after a mango feast. His dress was
changed, and he offered the appearance of an upright, gentleman-like,
hard-featured man, who had apparently gone through a great deal of service
without his stamina having been much impaired.

"I beg your pardon, my dear sir, for detaining you. May I request the
pleasure of your name and the occasion of your providential visit?"

"I have a letter for you, sir," replied Newton, who had been intrusted with
the one which Mr Revel had given to his daughters on their embarkation.

"Oh! a letter of introduction. It is now quite superfluous, you have
already introduced yourself."

"No, sir, it is not a letter of recommendation in my behalf, but to
announce the arrival of your three grand-nieces--daughters of the
Honourable Mr Revel--in the _Bombay Castle_, the ship to which I belong."

"What?" roared the colonel, "my three grand-nieces! daughters of Mr Revel!"

"So I have understood from them, sir."

The colonel tore open the letter, in which Mr Revel very coolly informed
him that not having received any answers to his former epistles on the
subject, he presumed that they had miscarried, and had therefore been
induced, in consequence of the difficulties which he laboured under, to
send his daughters out to his kind protection. The colonel, as soon as he
had finished the perusal of the letter, tore it into pieces again and
again, every renewed action showing an increase of excitement. He then
threw the fragments on the floor, stamping upon them in an ecstasy of rage.

"The d----d scoundrel!--the villain!--the rascal!--Do you know, sir, that
when I was last in England this fellow swindled me out of a thousand
pounds? Yes, sir, a thousand pounds, by G-d! promised to pay me in three
weeks; and when I was coming back, and asked him for my money, he laughed
at me, and ordered his servant not to let me in. And now he has sent out
his three daughters to me--pawned them off upon me, laughing, I suppose, in
his sleeve, as he did when he cheated me before. I'll not receive them, by
G-d! they may find their way back again how they can;" and the colonel
paced the room up and down, throwing his arms about in his fury.

Newton waited some time before he ventured to make any observation; indeed,
he was so astonished at such an unheard-of proceeding, and so shocked at
the unfortunate situation of Isabel, that he hardly knew what to say.

"Am I then to inform the young ladies that you will not receive them?"

"You don't know me, sir. When did I ever receive a woman into my house?
They are all alike, sir. Plotted with their father, I'll answer for, with
the hopes of getting husbands. Tell them, sir, that I'll see them d----d
first! Swindling scoundrel!--first cheats me out of a thousand pounds, and
then tries to cheat me into providing for his family!"

Newton paused a little, to allow the colonel's wrath to subside, and then
observed--"I never was so much distressed as to be the bearer of your
message. The young ladies are certainly no parties to their father's
dishonesty, and are in a situation much to be pitied. In a foreign country,
thousands of miles from their friends, without means of subsistence, or of
paying their passage home. What is to become of them?"

"I don't care."

"That your indignation is just, Colonel Revel, I admit; but allowing that
you will not receive them, how are they to return home? Captain Drawlock, I
am sure, would give them a passage; but we proceed to China. Poor girls!"
continued Newton, with a sigh. "I should like to make a remark, Colonel
Revel, if it were not considered too great a liberty in a stranger."

"You have already taken a liberty which in all probability has saved my
life. I shall be happy to listen to any remark that you may wish to offer."

"It was, sir, that, reprehensible as their father's conduct may be, common
humanity, and a regard for your own character, will hardly warrant their
being left thus destitute. They, at least, are your relations, and have
neither offended nor deceived you; on the contrary, are, with you, joint
victims of their father's deception."

"You appear to take a great interest in these young ladies," observed the
colonel, sharply.

"If I had never seen them, sir, their present unfortunate dilemma would be
sufficient. Knowing them intimately as I do, I must say that this
intelligence will be, to one, at least, a death-blow. I would to God that I
were able to assist and protect her!"

"Very handsome, then, I presume?" replied the colonel, with a sneer.

"She certainly is, sir; but it was not admiration of her beauty which
occasioned the remark. If you knew her, sir, you would be as sorry to part
with her, as you now appear to be to receive her."

The colonel continued to pace the room, but with less violence than before.
Newton observed this, and therefore was silent, hoping that reflection
would induce him to alter his resolution. In a few minutes, apparently
forgetting the presence of Newton, the colonel commenced talking to himself
aloud, muttering out a few detached phrases:--"Must take them in, by G-d!
Couldn't show my face--no where--d----d scoundrel! Keep them here till next
ship--till they are as yellow as gamboge, then send them home--revenge in
that."

Thus did the old gentleman mutter loud enough for Newton to overhear. A few
minutes more were spent in perambulation, when he threw himself into the
chair.

"I think, my young acquaintance, you appear to be interested for these
relations of mine; or at least for one of them."

"I certainly am, sir; and so is everyone who is acquainted with her."

"Well, I am glad to hear that there is one good out of the three. I have
been put in a passion--no wonder; and I have said more than should be
repeated. Were it known that these girls had been sent out to me in this
way, the laugh would be raised against me, as it is known that I am not
very partial to women; and it would also be of serious injury to them and
their prospects. I have determined upon receiving them, for the best of all
possible reasons--I can't help myself. You will, therefore, add to the
obligations of this day, by saying nothing about what has been made known
to you."

"Most certainly, sir; I will pledge you my honour, if it is requested."

"When I say not mention it, I mean to other parties; but to the girls, I
must request you to state the facts. I will not have them come here, pawing
and fondling, and wheedling me as an old bachelor, with a few lacs of
rupees to be coaxed out of. It would make me sick; I detest women and their
ways. Now, if they are informed of the real state of the case, that they
are here only on sufferance; that I neither wished nor want them; and that
I have been imposed upon by their scoundrel of a father, I may keep them at
the other end of the bungalow, and not be annoyed with their company;
until, upon plea of bad health, or some other excuse, I can pay their
passage back again."

"Could you not state these facts yourself, sir?"

"No, I never meddle with women; besides, it is better that they should know
it before they come here. If you will promise me what I now request, why, I
will consent to give them house-room; if not, they may stay where they are.
It will be but a few days' laugh at me, or abuse of me, I care little
which."

"Well, sir, unpleasant as this intelligence must be, their present suspense
is still more so. You will allow me to disclose it in as delicate a manner
as possible."

"You may be as refined as you please, provided that you tell the exact
truth, which I am convinced that you will, by your countenance."

"Then, I will take my leave, sir," replied Newton.

"Fare you well, my dear sir; recollect that my house is your home; and
although not fond of the society of women, I shall be delighted with yours.
The young ladies may be brought on shore to the hotel, and I will send a
carriage for them. Good-bye,--What is your name?"

"Forster, sir."

"Good-bye, then, Mr Forster, for the present;" and the colonel quitted the
room.

Chapter XXXIX

"Then there were sighs, the deeper for suppression,
And stolen glances, sweeter for the theft,
And burning blushes, though for no transgression,
Tremblings when met, and restlessness when left.
All these are little preludes to possession,
Of which young passion cannot be bereft,
And merely tend to show how greatly love is
Embarrassed, at first starting, with a novice."

BYRON.

It was in no very happy frame of mind that Newton quitted the colonel's
house to execute his mission to the Miss Revels. That the two eldest,
provided they were admitted, would not much take to heart either the
conduct of their father or the coolness of their relation, he was pretty
well assured; but he was too well acquainted with Isabel's character not to
know that she would deeply feel the humiliating situation in which she was
placed, and that it would prey upon her generous and sensitive mind. As,
however, there was no remedy, he almost congratulated himself that, as the
colonel's message was to be delivered, the commission had been placed in
his trust.

Captain Drawlock, tired of waiting, had escorted the young ladies on shore
to the hotel, anxiously expecting the arrival of Newton, who was conducted
there by a messenger despatched to intercept him.

"Well, Mr Forster, is it all right?" said Captain Drawlock, on his
appearance.

"The colonel's carriage will be here for the ladies in less than half an
hour," replied Newton, evasively.

"Then, Miss Revels, as I am extremely busy, I shall wish you good-morning,
and will have the pleasure of paying my respects before I sail. Allow me to
offer you my best thanks for your company during our voyage, and to assure
you how much your presence has contributed to enliven it. Forster, you
will, of course, remain with the Miss Revels, and see them safe in the
carriage;" and Captain Drawlock, who appeared to consider his
responsibility over with the voyage, shook hands with them, and quitted the
hotel.

"Mr Forster," said Isabel, as soon as Captain Drawlock was out of hearing,
"I am sure, by your countenance, that there has been something unpleasant.
Is it not so?"

"I am sorry to answer in the affirmative, and more sorry to be forced to
impart the cause." Newton then entered into a detail of what had passed at
the colonel's house. Isabel listened to it with attention, her sisters with
impatience. Miss Charlotte, with an air of consternation, inquired whether
the colonel had refused to receive them: on being informed to the contrary,
she appeared to be satisfied. Laura simpered, and observed, "How very odd
of papa!" and then seemed to think no more about it. Isabel made no
observation; she remained on her chair, apparently in deep and painful
thought.

A few minutes after the communication the colonel's carriage made its
appearance, and Newton proposed that they should quit the hotel. Charlotte
and Laura were all ready and impatient, but Isabel remained seated by the
table.

"Come, Isabel," cried Charlotte.

"I cannot go, my dear Charlotte," replied Isabel; "but do not let me
prevent you or Laura from deciding for yourselves."

"Not go!" cried the two sisters at once. Isabel was firm; and Newton, who
did not think himself authorised to interfere, was a silent witness to the
continued persuasions and expostulations of the two elder, and the refusal
of the younger sister. Nearly half an hour thus passed away, when Charlotte
and Laura decided that they would go, and send back the carriage for
Isabel, who by that time would have come to her senses. The heartless,
unthinking girls tripped gaily down to the carriage, and drove off. Newton,
who had escorted them, retraced his steps, with a beating heart, to the
room where he had left Isabel.

She was in tears.

"Do I intrude, Miss Revel?" said Newton, who could not repress his emotion
at the sight.

"Oh, no! I expected and wished that you would return, Mr Forster. Do you
think that you could find Captain Drawlock? I should feel much obliged if
you would take that trouble for me."

"I will immediately go in search of him, if you wish it. Believe me, Miss
Revel, I feel most sincerely for your situation; and, if it were not
considered an impertinent question, I should ask you what may be your
present intentions?"

"Acquainted as you are with all the circumstances, Mr Forster, the question
is not impertinent, but kind. God knows that I require an adviser. I would,
if possible, conceal the facts from Captain Drawlock. It is not for a
daughter to publish a father's errors; but you know all, and I can
therefore have no scruple in consulting with you: I do not see why I
should. My resolution is, at best, a hasty one; but it is, never to enter
the house of my relation under such humiliating circumstances--that is
decided: but how to act, or what to do, is where I require advice. I am in
a cruel situation. What a helpless creature is a woman! Were I a man, I
could have worked my passage home, or have honestly obtained my bread in
this place; but a woman--a young and unprotected woman--in a distant clime,
and without a friend--"

"Do not say that you are without a friend; one who has at least the will,
if not the power to serve you," replied Newton.

"No--not without a friend; but what avails a friend whose assistance I
could not accept? It is to Captain Drawlock, therefore, that I must apply,
and, painful as it may be, throw myself upon his generosity; for that
reason I wished to see him. He may advise some means by which I may obtain
a passage home. I will return in any capacity--as a nurse to children, as
an attendant--anything that is creditable. I would watch over the couch of
fever, pestilence, and plague, for months, rather than appear to be a party
to my father's duplicity. Oh! Mr Forster, what must you think of the
daughters, after what you have heard of the parent's conduct?"--and Isabel
burst into tears.

Newton could contain himself no longer. "My dear Miss Revel, let me
persuade you to compose yourself," said he, taking her hand, which was not
withdrawn. "If you feel on this occasion, so do I most deeply--most deeply,
because I can only lament, and dare not offer to assist you. The means of
returning to your own country I can easily procure from Captain Drawlock;
but would you accept it from me? I know--I cannot expect that you would;
and that, under such circumstances, it would be insulting in me to offer
it. Think, then, what pain I must feel to witness your distress, and yet
dare not offer to assist one for whom--oh! my God--" ended Newton, checking
his feelings.

"I feel the kindness and the delicacy of your conduct, Mr Forster; and I
will candidly acknowledge, that, could I accept it, there is no one to whom
I would more cheerfully be under an obligation; but the world will not
permit it."

"What shall I do, Miss Revel?--shall I go for Captain Drawlock?"

"Stay a little while; I wish to reflect. What would you advise?--as a
friend, tell me candidly, Mr Forster."

"I am indeed proud that you allow me that title. It is all that I ever dare
hope for; but Isabel (I beg your pardon, Miss Revel, I should have said)--"

"Nay, nay, I am not displeased. Why not Isabel? We have known one another
long enough; and, deserted as I feel, a kind word now--"

Isabel covered her face with her hand. Newton, who was standing by her, was
overcome by the intensity of his feelings; gradually they approached
nearer, until by, I suppose, the same principle which holds the universe
together--the attraction of cohesion--Newton's arm encircled the waist of
Isabel, and she sobbed upon his shoulder. It was with difficulty that
Newton refrained from pouring out his soul, and expressing the ardent love
which he had so long felt for her; but it was taking advantage of her
situation. He had nothing to offer but himself and beggary. He did refrain.
The words were not spoken; yet Isabel divined his thoughts, appreciated his
forbearance, and loved him more for his resolution.

"Isabel," said Newton, at length, with a sigh, "I never valued or wished
for wealth till now. Till this hour I never felt the misery of being poor."

"I believe you, Mr Forster; and I am grateful, as I know that it is for my
sake that you feel it; but," continued she, recovering herself, "crying
will do no good. I asked you for your advice, and you have only given me
your arm."

"I am afraid it is all I shall ever have to offer," replied Newton. "But,
Isabel, allow me to ask you one question:--Are you resolved never to enter
your relation's house?"

"Not on the humiliating terms which he has proposed. Let the colonel come
here for me and take me home with him, and then I will remain there until I
can return to England; if not, I will submit to any privation, to any
honest humiliation, rather than enter under his roof. But, indeed, Mr
Forster, it is necessary that Captain Drawlock should be summoned. We are
here alone: it is not correct: you must feel that it is not."

"I do feel that it is not; but, Isabel, I was this morning of some trifling
service to the colonel, and may have some little weight with him. Will you
allow me to return to him, and try what I can do? It will not be dark for
these two hours, and I will soon be back."

Isabel assented. Newton hastened to the colonel, who had already been much
surprised when he had been informed by his domestics (for he had not seen
them) that only two ladies had arrived. The old gentleman was now cool. The
explanation and strong persuasions of Newton, coupled with the spirited
behaviour of Isabel, whose determination was made known to him, and which
was so different from the general estimate he had formed of the sex, at
last prevailed. The colonel ordered his carriage, and, in company with
Newton, drove to the hotel, made a sort of apology--a wonderful effort on
his part, and requested his grand-niece to accept of his hospitality. In a
few minutes Isabel and the colonel were out of sight, and Newton was left
to his own reflections.

A few days afterwards Newton accepted the colonel's invitation to dine,
when he found that affairs were going on better than he expected. The old
gentleman had been severely quizzed by those who were intimate with him, at
the addition to his establishment, and had winced not a little under the
lash; but, on the whole, he appeared more reconciled than would have been
expected. Newton, however, observed that, when speaking of the three
sisters, he invariably designated them as "my grand-niece, and the two
other young women."

Chapter XL

"Rich in the gems of India's gaudy zone,
And plunder piled from kingdoms not their own,
Degenerate trade! thy minions could despise
Thy heart-born anguish of a thousand cries:
Could lock, with impious hands, their teeming store,
While famish'd nations died along the shore;
Could mock the groans of fellow-men, and bear
The curse of kingdoms, peopled with despair;
Could stamp disgrace on man's polluted name,
And barter with their gold eternal shame."

CAMPBELL.

Gold!--gold! for thee, what will man not attempt?--for thee, to what
degradation will he not submit?--for thee, what will he not risk in this
world, or prospectively in the next? Industry is rewarded by thee;
enterprise is supported by thee; crime is cherished, and heaven itself is
bartered for thee, thou powerful auxiliary of the devil! One tempter was
sufficient for the fall of man; but thou wert added, that he ne'er might
rise again.

Survey the empire of India; calculate the millions of acres, the billions
with which it is peopled, and then pause while you ask yourself the
question--How is it that a company of merchants claim it as their own? By
what means did it come into their possession?

Honestly, they will reply. Honestly! you went there as suppliants; you were
received with kindness and hospitality, and your request was granted, by
which you obtained a footing on the soil. Now you are lords of countless
acres, masters of millions, who live or perish as you will; receivers of
enormous tribute. Why, how is this?

Honestly, again you say; by treaty, by surrender, by taking from those who
would have destroyed us the means of doing injury. Honestly! say it again,
that Heaven may register, and hell may chuckle at your barefaced, impudent
assertion.

No! by every breach of faith which could disgrace an infidel; by every act
of cruelty which could disgrace our nature; by extortion, by rapine, by
injustice, by mockery of all laws, or human or divine. The thirst for gold,
and a golden country, led you on; and in these scorching regions you have
raised the devil on his throne, and worshipped him in his proud
pre-eminence as Mammon.

Let us think. Is not the thirst for gold a temptation to which our natures
are doomed to be subjected--part of the ordeal which we have to pass? or
why is it that there never is sufficient?

It appears to be ordained by Providence that this metal, obtained from the
earth to feed the avarice of man, should again return to it. If all the
precious ore which for a series of ages has been raised from the dark mine
were now in tangible existence, how trifling would be its value! how
inadequate as a medium of exchange for the other productions of nature, or
of art! If all the diamonds and other precious stones which have been
collected from the decomposed rocks (for hard as they once were, like all
sublunary matter, they too yield to time) why, if all were remaining on the
earth, the frolic gambols of the May-day sweep would shake about those
gems, which now are to be found in profusion only where rank and beauty pay
homage to the thrones of kings. Arts and manufactures consume a large
proportion of the treasures of the mine, and as the objects fall into
decay, so does the metal return to the earth again. But it is in Eastern
climes, where it is collected, that it soonest disappears. Where the despot
reigns, and the knowledge of an individual's wealth is sufficient warranty
to seal his doom, it is to the care of the silent earth alone that the
possessor will commit his treasures; he trusts not to relation or to
friend, for gold is too powerful for human ties. It is but on his death-bed
that he imparts the secret of his deposit to those he leaves behind him;
often called away before he has time to make it known, reserving the fond
secret till too late; still clinging to life, and all that makes life dear
to him. Often does the communication, made from the couch of death, in
half-articulated words, prove so imperfect, that the knowledge of its
existence is of no avail unto his intended heirs; and thus it is that
millions return again to the earth from which they have been gathered with
such toil. What avarice has dug up avarice buries again; perhaps in future
ages to be regained by labour, when, from the chemical powers of eternal
and mysterious Nature, they have again been filtered through the indurated
earth, and reassumed the form and the appearance of the metal which has
lain in darkness since the creation of the world.

Is not this part of the grand principle of the universe?--the eternal cycle
of reproduction and decay, pervading all and every thing--blindly
contributed to by the folly and wickedness of man! "So far shalt thou go,
but no further," was the fiat; and, arrived at the prescribed limit, we
must commence again. At this moment intellect has seized upon the
seven-league boots of the fable, which fitted everybody who drew them on,
and strides over the universe. How soon, as on the decay of the Roman
empire, may all the piles of learning which human endeavours would rear as
a tower of Babel to scale the heavens, disappear, leaving but fragments to
future generations, as proofs of pre-existent knowledge! Whether we refer
to nature or to art, to knowledge or to power, to accumulation or
destruction, bounds have been prescribed which man can never pass, guarded
as they are by the same unerring and unseen Power, which threw the planets
from his hand, to roll in their appointed orbits. All appears confused
below, but all is clear in heaven.

I have somewhere heard it said, that wherever heaven may be, those who
reach it will behold the mechanism of the universe in its perfection. Those
stars, now studding the firmament in such apparent confusion, will there
appear in all their regularity, as worlds revolving in their several
orbits, round suns which gladden them with light and heat, all in harmony,
all in beauty, rejoicing as they roll their destined course in obedience to
the Almighty fiat; one vast, stupendous, and, to the limits of our present
senses, incomprehensible mechanism, perfect in all its parts, most
wonderful in the whole. Nor do I doubt it: it is but reasonable to suppose
it. He that hath made this world and all upon it can have no limits to His
power.

I wonder whether I shall ever see it.

I said just now, let us think. I had better have said, let us not think;
for thought is painful, even dangerous when carried to excess. Happy is he
who thinks but little, whose ideas are so confined as not to cause the
intellectual fever, wearing out the mind and body, and often threatening
both with dissolution. There is a happy medium of intellect, sufficient to
convince us that all is good--sufficient to enable us to comprehend that
which is revealed, without a vain endeavour to pry into the hidden; to
understand the one, and lend our faith unto the other; but when the mind
would soar unto the heaven not opened to it, or dive into sealed and dark
futurity, how does it return from its several expeditions? Confused,
alarmed, unhappy; willing to rest, yet restless; willing to believe, yet
doubting; willing to end its futile travels, yet setting forth anew. Yet,
how is a superior understanding envied! how coveted by all!--a gift which
always leads to danger, and often to perdition.

Thank Heaven! I have not been entrusted with one of those thorough-bred,
snorting, champing, foaming sort of intellects, which run away with Common
Sense, who is jerked from his saddle at the beginning of its wild career.
Mine is a good, steady, useful hack, who trots along the high-road of life,
keeping on his own side, and only stumbling a little now and then, when I
happen to be careless,--ambitious only to arrive safely at the end of his
journey, not to pass by others.

Why am I no longer ambitious? Once I was, but 'twas when I was young and
foolish. Then methought "It were an easy leap to pluck bright honour from
the pale-faced moon;" but now I am old and fat, and there is something in
fat which chokes or destroys ambition. It would appear that it is requisite
for the body to be active and springing as the mind; and if it is not, it
weighs the latter down to its own gravity. Who ever heard of a fat man
being ambitious? Caesar was a spare man; Buonaparte was thin as long as he
climbed the ladder; Nelson was a shadow. The Duke of Wellington has not
sufficient fat in his composition to grease his own Wellington-boots. In
short, I think my hypothesis to be fairly borne out, that fat and ambition
are incompatible.

It is very melancholy to be forced to acknowledge this, for I am convinced
that it may be of serious injury to my works. An author with a genteel
figure will always be more read than one who is corpulent. All his
etherealness departs. Some young ladies may have fancied me an elegant
young man, like Lytton Bulwer, full of fun and humour, concealing all my
profound knowledge under the mask of levity, and have therefore read my
books with as much delight as has been afforded by "Pelham." But the truth
must be told. I am a grave, heavy man, with my finger continually laid
along my temple, seldom speaking unless spoken to--and when ladies talk, I
never open my mouth; the consequence is, that sometimes, when there is a
succession of company, I do not speak for a week. Moreover, I am married,
with five small children; and now all I look forward to, and all I covet,
is to live in peace, and die in my bed.

I wonder why I did not commence authorship before! How true it is that a
man never knows what he can do until he tries! The fact is, I never thought
that I could make a novel; and I was thirty years old before I stumbled on
the fact. What a pity!

Writing a book reminds me very much of making a passage across the
Atlantic. At one moment, when the ideas flow, you have the wind aft, and
away you scud, with a flowing sheet, and a rapidity which delights you: at
other times, when your spirit flags, and you gnaw your pen (I have lately
used iron pens, for I'm a devil of a crib-biter), it is like unto a foul
wind, tack and tack, requiring a long time to get on a short distance. But
still you do go, although but slowly; and in both cases we must take the
foul wind with the fair. If a ship were to furl her sails until the wind
was again favourable, her voyage would be protracted to an indefinite time;
and if an author were to wait until he again felt in a humour, it would
take a life to write a novel.

Whenever the wind is foul, which it now most certainly is, for I am writing
anything but "Newton Forster," and which will account for this rambling,
stupid chapter, made up of odds and ends, strung together like what we call
"skewer pieces" on board of a man-of-war; when the wind is foul, as I said
before, I have, however, a way of going a-head by getting up the steam,
which I am now about to resort to--and the fuel is brandy. All on this side
of the world are asleep, except gamblers, house-breakers, the new police,
and authors. My wife is in the arms of Morpheus--an allegorical _crim.
con._, which we husbands are obliged to wink at; and I am making love to
the brandy-bottle, that I may stimulate my ideas, as unwilling to be roused
from their dark cells of the brain as the spirit summoned by Lochiel, who
implored at each response, "Leave, oh! leave me to repose."

Now I'll invoke them, conjure them up, like little imps, to do my
bidding:--

By this glass which now I drain,
By this spirit, which shall cheer you,
As its fumes mount to my brain,
From thy torpid slumbers rear you.

By this head, so tired with thinking,
By this hand, no longer trembling,
By these lips, so fond of drinking,
Let me feel that you're assembling.

By the bottle placed before me,
(Food for you, ere morrow's sun),
By this second glass, I pour me,
Come, you _little beggars_, come.

Chapter XLI

"British sailors have a knack,
Haul away, yo ho, boys.
Of hauling down a Frenchman's jack
'Gainst any odds, you know, boys."

OLD SONG.

There was, I flatter myself, some little skill in the introduction of the
foregoing chapter, which has played the part of chorus during the time that
the _Bombay Castle_ has proceeded on to Canton, has taken in her cargo, and
is on her passage home, in company with fifteen other East Indiamen and
several country ships, all laden with the riches of the East, and hastening
to pour their treasures into the lap of their country. Millions were
floating on the waters, entrusted to the skill of merchant-seamen to convey
them home in safety, and to their courage to defend them from the enemy,
which had long been lying in wait to intercept them. By a very unusual
chance or oversight, there had been no men-of-war despatched to protect
property of such enormous value.

The Indian fleet had just entered the Straits of Malacca, and were sailing
in open order, with a fresh breeze and smooth water. The hammocks had been
stowed, the decks washed, and the awnings spread. Shoals of albicore were
darting across the bows of the different ships; and the seamen perched upon
the cat-heads and spritsail-yard, had succeeded in piercing with their
harpoons many, which were immediately cut up, and in the frying-pans for
breakfast. But very soon they had "other fish to fry;" for one of the
Indiamen, the _Royal George_, made the signal that there were four strange
sail in the S.W.

"A gun from the commodore, sir," reported Newton, who was officer of the
watch. "The flags are up--they are not our pennants."

It was an order to four ships of the fleet to run down and examine the
strange vessels.

Half-an-hour elapsed, during which time the glasses were at every
mast-head. Captain Drawlock himself, although not much given to climbing,
having probably had enough of it during his long career in the service, was
to be seen in the main-top. Doubts, suspicions, declarations, surmises, and
positive assertions were bandied about, until they were all dispelled by
the reconnoitring ships telegraphing, "a French squadron, consisting of one
line-of-battle ship, three frigates, and a brig." It was, in fact, the
well-known squadron of Admiral Linois, who had scoured the Indian seas,
ranging it up and down with the velocity as well as the appetite of a
shark. His force consisted of the _Marengo_, of eighty guns; the famed
_Belle Poule_, a forty-gun frigate, which outstripped the wind; the
_Semillante_, of thirty-six guns; the _Berceau_, ship corvette, of
twenty-two, and a brig of sixteen. They had sailed from Batavia on purpose
to intercept the China fleet, having received intelligence that it was
unprotected, and anticipating an easy conquest, if not an immediate
surrender to their overpowering force.

"The recall is up on board of the commodore," said Mathews, the first mate,
to Captain Drawlock.

"Very well, keep a good look-out; he intends to fight, I'll answer for it.
We must not surrender up millions to these French scoundrels without a
tussle."

"I should hope not," replied Mathews; "but that big fellow will make a
general average among our tea canisters, I expect, when we do come to the
scratch. There go the flags, sir," continued Mathews, repeating the number
to Captain Drawlock, who had the signal-book in his hand.

"Form line of battle in close order, and prepare for action," read Captain
Drawlock from the signal-book.

A cheer resounded through the fleet when the signal was made known. The
ships were already near enough to each other to hear the shouting, and the
confidence of others added to their own.

"If we only had _all_ English seamen on board, instead of these Lascars and
Chinamen, who look so blank," observed Newton to Mathews, "I think we
should show them some play."

"Yes," growled Mathews; "John Company will some day find out the truth of
the old proverb, 'Penny wise and pound foolish!'"

The French squadron, which had continued on the wind to leeward until they
could fetch the India fleet, now tacked, and laid up directly for them. In
the meantime, the English vessels were preparing for action: the clearing
of their lumbered decks was the occasion of many a coop of fowls, or pig of
the true China breed, exchanging their destiny for a watery grave.
Fortunately, there were no passengers. Homeward-bound China ships are not
encumbered in that way, unless to astonish the metropolis with such
monstrosities as the mermaid, or as the Siamese twins, coupled by nature
like two hounds (separated lately indeed by Lytton Bulwer, who has
satisfactorily proved that "unity between brethren," so generally esteemed
a blessing, on the contrary, is a bore). In a short time all was ready, and
the India fleet continued their course under easy sail, neither courting
nor avoiding the conflict.

At nightfall the French squadron hauled to the wind; the conduct of the
China fleet rendered them cautious, and the French admiral considered it
advisable to ascertain, by broad daylight, whether a portion of the English
ships were not men-of-war; their cool and determined behaviour certainly
warranted the suspicion. It was now to be decided whether the Indiamen
should take advantage of the darkness of the night to escape, or wait the
result of the ensuing day. The force opposed to them was formidable and
concentrated; their own, on the contrary, was weak from division, each ship
not having more than sixty English seamen on board; the country ships none
at all, the few belonging to them having volunteered on board of the
Indiamen. In his decision Commodore Dance proved his judgment as well as
his courage. In an attempt to escape, the fleet would separate; and, from
the well-known superior sailing of the French squadron, most of them would
be overtaken, and, being attacked singlehanded, fall an easy prey to the
enemy.

In this opinion the captains of the Indiamen, who had communicated during
the night, were unanimous, and equally so in the resolution founded upon
it, "to keep together and fight to the last." The India fleet lay to for
the night, keeping their lights up and the men at their quarters; most of
the English seamen sound asleep, the Lascars and Chinese sitting up in
groups, expressing, in their own tongues, their fear of the approaching
combat, in which, whether risked for national honour or individual
property, they could have no interest.

The morning broke, and discovered the French squadron about three miles to
windward. Admiral Linois had calculated that if the fleet consisted only of
merchant vessels they would have profited by the darkness to have attempted
to escape, and he had worked to windward during the night, that he might be
all ready to pounce down upon his quarry. But when he perceived that the
English ships did not attempt to increase their distance he was sadly
puzzled.

The French tricolour hardly had time to blow clear from their taffrails,
when the English unions waved aloft in defiance; and that Admiral Linois
might be more perplexed by the arrangements of the night, three of the most
warlike Indiamen displayed the red ensign, while the remainder of the ships
hoisted up the blue. This _ruse_ led the French admiral to suppose that
these three vessels were men-of-war, composing the escort of the fleet.

At nine o'clock the commodore made the signal to fill; and the French
squadron not bearing down, the India fleet continued its course under easy
sail. The French admiral then edged away with his squadron, with the
intention of cutting off the country ships, which had been stationed to
leeward; but which, since the British fleet had hauled their wind, had been
left in the rear. It was now requisite for the British commander to act
decidedly and firmly. Captain Timmins, an officer for courage and conduct
not surpassed by any in our naval service, who commanded the _Royal
George_, edged to within hail of the commodore, and recommended that the
order should be given to tack in succession, bear down in a line-a-head,
and engage the enemy. This spirited advice was acted upon; the _Royal
George_ leading into action, followed by the other ships in such close
order that their flying jib-booms were often pointed over the taffrails of
their predecessors.

In a quarter of an hour was to be witnessed the unusual spectacle of a
fleet of merchant ships exchanging broadsides with the best equipped and
highest disciplined squadron that ever sailed from France. In less than an
hour was presented the more unusual sight of this squadron flying from the
merchant ships, and the signal for a general chase answered with
enthusiastic cheers.

That Admiral Linois might have supposed, previous to the engagement, that
some of the British ships were men-of-war, is probable; but that he knew
otherwise after they had commenced action, must also have been the case.
The fact was, he was frightened at their determined courage and their
decided conduct; and he fled, not from the guns, but from the _men_.

I do not know on record any greater instance of heroism on the part of
British seamen; and I am delighted that Newton Forster was in the conflict,
or of course I could not have introduced it in this work.

And now, those who read for amusement may, if they please, skip over to the
next chapter. There are points connected with the India service which I
intend to comment upon; and as all the wisdom of the age is confined to
novels, and nobody reads pamphlets, I introduce them here.

When one man is empowered to hold in check, and to insist upon the
obedience of a large proportion of his fellows, it can only be by "opinion"
that his authority can be supported.

By "opinion" I mean the knowledge that he is so empowered by the laws of
the country to which they all belong, and by which laws they will be
punished, if they act in opposition to his authority. The fiat of the
individual commanding is in this case the fiat of the nation at large; to
contend with this fiat is not contending with the individual, but with the
nation, to whose laws they must submit, or return to their country no more.
A commander of a vessel, therefore, armed with martial law, is, in fact,
representing and executing, not his own will, but that of the nation who
have made the law; for he is amenable, as well as his inferiors, if he acts
contrary to, or misuses it.

In the merchant service martial law is not permitted; the bye-laws relative
to shipping, and the common law of the country, are supposed to be
sufficient; and certainly the present system is more advisable than to vest
such excessive power in the hands of men, who, generally speaking, neither
require nor are fit to be entrusted with it. Where, as in the greater
number of merchant vessels, the master and his subordinate officers compose
one-third, if not one-half of the complement on board, nothing but the most
flagrant conduct is likely to produce insubordination.

But in the East India service the case is different. The vessels themselves
are of dimensions equal, if not superior, to our largest class of frigates,
and they carry from thirty to forty guns; the property embarked in them is
also of such an extent, that the loss almost becomes national: their
commanders are men of superior attainments, as gentlemen and as officers;
finally, the complement of seamen under their command is larger than on
board of many of the king's ships.

The above considerations will at once establish that those bye-laws which
afford protection to the well-governing of the merchant service in general,
are not sufficient to maintain the necessary discipline on board of the
East India ships. The greater the disproportion between the unit who
commands and the numbers who obey, the greater the chance of mutiny.
Sedition is the progeny of assembly. Even where grievances may be real, if
there is no contact and no discussion, there will be no insubordination;
but imaginary grievances, canvassed and discussed in assembly, swell into
disaffection and mutiny. When, therefore, numbers are collected together,
as in the vessels of the East India service, martial law becomes
indispensable; and the proof of it is, that the commanders of these vessels
have been forced to exercise it upon their own responsibility. A letter of
marque should be granted to all vessels carrying a certain number of men,
empowering the commanders, under certain sureties and penalties, to
exercise this power. It would be a boon to the East India ships, and
ultimately a benefit to the navy.

To proceed. The merchant ships of the Company are men-of-war; the
men-of-war of the Company are--what shall I call them? By their right
names--they are all _Bombay Marine_: but let me at once assert, in applying
their own name to them as a reproach, that the officers commanding them
are not included in the stigma. I have served with them, and have pleasure
in stating that, taking the average, the vessels are as well officered as
those in our own service; but let us describe the vessels and their crews.
Most of the vessels are smaller in scantling than the run down (and
constantly _going down_) ten-gun brigs in our own service, built for a
light draft of water (as they were originally intended to act against the
pirates, which occasionally infest the Indian seas), and unfit to contend
with anything like a heavy sea. Many of them are pierced for, and actually
carry fourteen to sixteen guns; but, as effective fighting vessels, ought
not to have been pierced for more than eight. I have no hesitation in
asserting that an English cutter is a match for any of them, and a French
privateer has, before now, proved that she was superior. The crews are
composed of a small proportion of English seamen, a small proportion of
Portuguese sea-cunnies, a proportion of Lascars, and a proportion of Hindoo
Bombay marines. It requires two or three languages to carry on the duty;
customs, religions, provisions, all different, and all living and messing
separate. How is it possible that any officer can discipline a ship's
company of this incongruous description, so as to make them "pull
together"? In short, the vessels and the crews are equally contemptible,
and the officers, in cases of difficulty, must be sacrificed to the pride
and meanness of the Company. My reason for taking notice of the "Bombay
Marine" arises from an order lately promulgated, in which the officers of
this service were to take rank and precedence with those of the navy. Now,
as far as the officers themselves are concerned, so far from having any
objection to it, I wish, for their own merits and the good-will that I bear
them, that they were incorporated into our navy-list; but as long as they
command vessels of the above description, in the event of a war, I will put
a case, to prove the absurdity and danger which may result. There is not
one vessel at this present time in their service which would not be sunk by
one well-directed broadside from a large frigate; yet, as many of their
officers are of long standing, it is very probable that a squadron of
English frigates may fall in with one of these vessels, the captain of
which would be authorised by his seniority to take the command of the whole
of them. We will suppose that this squadron falls in with the enemy, of
equal or superior force; can the officer in command lead on to the attack?
If so, he will be sent down by the first broadside. If he does not, from
whom are the orders to proceed during the action? The consequences would be
as injurious as the arrangement is ridiculous.

The charter of the East India Company will soon expire; and if it is to be
renewed, the country ought to have some indemnification for the three
millions which this colony or conquest (which you please) annually draws
from it. Now there is one point which deserves consideration: the
constitutional protection of all property is by the nation, and as a naval
force is required in India, that force should be supplied by the armaments
of the nation, at the expense of the Company. I have already proved that
the Bombay Marine is a useless and incompetent service: let it be abolished
altogether, and men-of-war be sent out to supply their place. It is most
important that our navy should be employed in time of peace, and our
officers gain that practical knowledge without which the theoretical is
useless. Were this insisted upon, a considerable force would be actively
employed, at no expense to the country, and many officers become valuable,
who now are remaining inactive, and forgetting what previous knowledge they
may have acquired of their nautical duties.

At the same time, every East India ship should be compelled to take on
board her whole complement of English seamen, and not be half manned by
Lascars and Chinamen.

But I presume I must be careful how I attempt to legislate for that
country, or I shall have two tame elephants sent after me by the man _what_
puts his hair in papers!

Chapter XLII

"What singular emotions fill
Their bosoms, who have been induced to roam,
With flattering doubts, if all be well or ill,
With love for many, and with fears for some!"

BYRON.

The China fleet arrived without encountering any further danger; the
commodore and commanders of the several ships composing the fleet received
that praise from their countrymen to which their conduct had so fully
entitled them. As soon as the _Bombay Castle_ had entered the basin of the
East India docks, Newton requested, and easily obtained, permission to
leave the ship. He immediately directed his steps to Greenwich, that he
might ascertain if his father was in existence; for he had received no
letters since his departure, although he had taken several opportunities to
write. It is true that he had not expected any; he knew that his father was
too absent ever to think about writing to him, and his uncle much too busy
to throw away any portion of his time in unnecessary correspondence.

When we approach the dwelling containing, or supposed to contain, an object
of solicitude, of whose existence we are uncertain, what a thrill of
anxiety pervades the frame! How quickened is the throbbing of the heart!
how checked the respiration! Thus it was with Newton Forster as he raised
his hand to the latch of the door. He opened it, and the first object which
delighted his eyes was his father seated upon a high stool smoking his
pipe, in the company of two veterans of the hospital, who had brought their
old bones to an anchor upon a large trunk. They were in earnest
conversation, and did not perceive the company of Newton, who waited a
little while, holding the door ajar, as he contemplated the group.

One of the pensioners was speaking, and continued:--"May be, or may not be,
Mr Forster, that's _dubersome_; but if so be as how he is alive, why you'll
see him soon, that's sartain--take my word for it. A good son, as you say
he was, as soon as he can get over the side of the ship, always bears up
for his parent's house. With the help of your barnacles, I worked my way
clean through the whole yarn, and I seed the report of killed and wounded;
and I'll take my affidavy that there warn't an officer in the fleet as lost
the number of his mess in that action, and a most clipping affair it was;
only think of mounseer turning tail to marchant vessels! Damn my old
buttons! what will our jolly fellows do next?"

"Next, Bill! why there be nothing to do, 'less they shave off the beard of
the grand Turk to make a swab for the cabin of the king's yacht, and sarve
out his seven hundred wives amongst the fleet. I say, I wonder how he keeps
so many of them craft in good order?"

"I knows," replied the other, "for I axed the very question when I was up
the Dardanelles. There be a black fellow, a _unique_ they calls him, with a
large sword and a bag of sawdust, as always stands sentry at the door, and
if so be a woman kicks up a bobbery, why plump her head goes into the bag."

"Well, that's one way to make a good woman on her; but as I was saying, Mr
Forster, you mustn't be down in the mouth; a seaman as knows his duty,
never cares for leave till all the work be done. I'd bet a yard of pigtail
that Mr Newton--"

"Is here, my good fellow!" interrupted Newton. "My dear father!"

Nicholas sprang off his seat and embraced his son.

"My dear, dear boy! why did you not come to me before? I was afraid that
you had been killed. Well, I'm glad to see you, Newton. How did you like
the West Indies?"

"The East Hinges, you mean, Mr Forster.--Newton," continued the old
pensioner, wiping both sides of his hand upon his blue breeches, and then
extending it--"Tip us your daddle, my lad; I like to touch the flipper of
one who has helped to shame the enemy; and it will be no disgrace for you
to grapple with an old seaman, who did his duty as long as he had a pin to
stand upon."

"With pleasure, my friend," replied Newton, taking the old man's hand,
while the other veteran seized the one unoccupied, and, surveying Newton
from top to toe, observed, "If your ship be manned with all such lads as
you--why, she be damned well manned, that's all."

Newton laughed and turned to his father.

"Well, father, how are you?--have you been quite well? And how do you like
your berth here?"

"Why, Newton, I get on much better than I did at Bristol."

"It be Liverpool he mean, Mr Newton; but your good father be a little
damaged in his upper works; his memory box is like a sieve.--Come, Bill, we
be two too many. When father and son meet after a India voyage, there be
much to say as wants no listeners.--Good-bye, Mr Forster; may you never
want a son, and may he never want a ship!"

Newton smiled his thanks to the considerate old pensioners, as they stumped
out of the door, and left him alone with his father. The communications of
Nicholas were as concise as usual. He liked his situation, liked his
company, had as much work as he wished for, and had enjoyed good health.
When Newton entered upon pecuniary matters, which he was the sooner induced
to do by observing that his father's coat and smallclothes were in a most
ruinous condition, he discovered, that although the old gentleman had
provided himself with money from the bankers, during the first year, to
purchase a new suit of clothes, latterly he not only had quite forgotten
that there were funds at his disposal, but even that he had procured the
clothes, which had remained in the chest from the day they had been sent
home without having been tried on.

"Dear me! now I recollect, so I did; and I put them upstairs somewhere. I
was busy at the time with my improvement on the duplex."

"Have you seen much of my uncle, sir?" inquired Newton.

"Your uncle!--dear me, no! I don't know where he lives; so I waited until
you came back. We'll go tomorrow, Newton, or he may think me unkind. I'll
see if his watch goes well; I recollect he said it did. But, Newton, tell
me all about your voyage, and the action with the French ships."

Newton entered into a detail, during which he perceived by his father's
questions that his memory had become more impaired, and that he was more
absent than ever. He arranged to call upon his uncle the ensuing day; and
then it was his intention, without communicating it to his father, to make
every inquiry and advertise to ascertain the fate of his mother. This was a
duty which he had long wished to repeat; but his necessities and want of
time had hitherto precluded the renewal of the task.

Early the next morning, Newton and his father went up to London by the
Greenwich coach; and a walk of a few minutes after they were put down
brought them to the chambers of Mr John Forster.

"How do you do, Mr Scratton? Is my uncle at home?" inquired Newton.

Mr Scratton immediately recognised him, and very graciously replied, that
his uncle was at home and would be very glad to see him, having talked very
often of him lately.

Newton and his father were ushered into the parlour, where he found his
uncle precisely in the same position as when he last saw him;--it would
almost have appeared that he had not quitted his seat during Newton's
tedious voyage.

"Nephew," said Mr John Forster, without rising from his chair, "I am very
glad to see you.--Brother Nicholas, I am very glad to see you too.--Chairs,
Scratton," continued the old lawyer, taking his watch off the table, and
placing it in his fob. "Well, nephew, I am very glad to hear such good
accounts of you. I saw Mr Bosanquet yesterday, and he told me that you had
for your good conduct been promoted to the rank of second mate."

"It is more than I am aware of," replied Newton, much pleased with the
information. "I am much obliged to you for the intelligence, as I am for
your many other acts of kindness."

"Well, so you ought to be; it's no bad thing, as I told you before, to find
out an uncle. By-the-bye, there has been some alteration in my
establishment since we parted, nephew. I have a house in Lincoln's Inn
Fields, and a spare bed, if you will accept of it. We dine at six; brother
Nicholas, I shall be very happy to see you, if you can stay. It will be too
late to go home after dinner, but you can share my nephew's bed."

"I shall be most happy to accept your kind offer for a few days, sir, if it
does not incommode you," replied Newton.

"No; you will not incommode me _there_, but you do very much _here_, where
I am always busy. So good-bye, my boy; I shall be at home at six. Brother
Nicholas, you did not vouchsafe me an answer."

"About what, brother John?" replied Nicholas, who had been "in the clouds."

"Oh, I'll tell you all about it, father," said Newton, laughing. "Come away
now--my uncle is busy." And Nicholas rose up, with the observation--

"Brother John, you appear to me to read a great deal."

"Yes, I do, brother."

"How much do you read a day?"

"I really cannot say; much depends upon whether I am interrupted or not."

"It must be very bad for your eyes, brother John."

"It certainly does not improve them," replied the lawyer, impatiently.

"Come, father, my uncle is very busy," said Newton, touching Nicholas on
the arm.

"Well, good-bye, brother John. I had something to say--oh! I hope you are
not displeased at my not coming to see you before?"

"Humph! not in the least, I can assure you, brother Nicholas; so good-bye.
Newton, you'll bring him with you at six," said Mr John Forster; and he
resumed his brief before they had quitted the room.

Newton was much surprised to hear that his uncle had taken a house, and he
surmised whether he had not also been induced to take a wife. He felt an
inclination to put the question to Mr Scratton, as he passed through the
office; but checked the wish, lest it should appear like prying into his
uncle's affairs. Being the month of February, it was dark long before six
o'clock, and Newton was puzzled what to do with his father until that time.
He returned to the Salopian Coffee-house, opposite to which they had been
put down by the Greenwich coach; and taking possession of a box, called for
some biscuits and a pint of sherry; and requesting his father to stay there
until his return, went out to purchase a sextant, and some other nautical
luxuries, which his pay enabled him to procure without trespassing upon the
funds supplied by the generosity of his uncle. He then returned to his
father, who had finished the wine and biscuits, and had his eyes fixed upon
the ceiling of the room; and calling a hackney coach, drove to the
direction which his uncle had pointed out as his residence.

Mr John Forster had already come home, and they found him in the
dining-room, decanting the wine for dinner, with Amber by his side. Newton
was surprised at the appearance of a little girl; and, as he took her
proffered hand, inquired her name.

"Amber. Papa says it's a very foolish name; don't you, papa?"

"Yes, my dear, I do; but now we are going to dinner, and you must go to Mrs
Smith: so good-night."

Amber kissed the old lawyer, as he stooped to her; and wishing the company
good-night, she left the room.

"Brother John," said Nicholas, "I really had no idea that you were a
married man."

"Humph! I am not a married man, brother."

"Then pray, brother, how is it possible for that little girl to be your
daughter?"

"I did not say she was my daughter: but now we will go upstairs into the
drawing-room, while they put the dinner on the table."

The dinner was soon announced; the cookery was plain, but good, the wine
excellent. When the dessert was placed on the table, Mr John Forster rose,
and taking two bottles of port-wine from the side-board, placed them on the
table, and addressed Newton.

"Nephew, I have no time to _sip_ wine, although it is necessary that I
drink it. Now, we must drink fast, as I have only ten minutes to spare; not
that I wish you to drink more than you like, but I must push the bottle
round, whether you fill or no, as I have an appointment, what we call a
consultation, at my chambers. Pass the bottle, brother," continued the
lawyer, helping himself, and shoving the decanter to Nicholas.

Nicholas, who had been little accustomed to wine, obeyed mechanically,
swallowing down each glass _a gorge deployee_, as he was awoke from his
meditations by the return of the bottle, and then filling up his glass
again. Newton, who could take his allowance as well as most people, could
not, however, venture to drink glass for glass with his uncle, and the
bottle was passed several times without his filling. When the ten minutes
had elapsed, Mr John Forster took his watch from the table, replaced it in
his fob, and rose from his chair. Locking up the remainder of the wine, he
quitted the house without apology, leaving his guests to entertain
themselves, and order tea when they felt inclined.

"My brother seems to be very busy, Newton," observed Nicholas. "What wine
was that we have been drinking? It was very strong; I declare my head turns
round;" and in a few moments more Nicholas dropped his head upon the table,
and was fast asleep.

Newton, who perceived that his father was affected by the wine which he had
been drinking, which was, in the sum total, a pint of sherry at the
coffee-house before dinner, and at least a bottle during and after his
meal, thought it better that he should be allowed to take his nap. He
therefore put out the candles, and went up into the drawing-room, where he
amused himself with a book until the clock struck twelve. According to the
regulations of the house, the servants had retired to bed, leaving a light
in the passage for their master on his return, which sometimes was at a
very late hour, or rather, it should be said, at a very early one. Newton
lighted a chamber-candlestick, and went down into the parlour to rouse his
father; but all his attempts were in vain. The wine had taken such an
effect upon him, that he was in a state of lethargy. Newton observed that
the servant had cleared the table, and that the fire was out: and, as there
was no help for it, he removed the chairs to the end of the room, that his
father might not tumble over them if he awoke in the dark, and then retired
to his own bed.

Chapter XLIII

"Angels and ministers of grace defend us!

Be thy intents wicked or charitable,
Thou com'st in such a questionable shape
That I will speak to thee."

SHAKESPEARE.

It was past two o'clock when Mr John Forster returned from his chambers,
and let himself in with a pass-key. Having secured the street-door, the old
gentleman lighted his candle from the lamp, which he then blew out, and had
his foot upon the first step of the stairs, when he was startled by a loud
snore from Nicholas in the dining-room; he immediately proceeded there, and
found his brother, with his head still lying on the table.

"Humph!" ejaculated the lawyer. "Why, brother Nicholas! brother Nicholas!"

Nicholas, who had nearly slept off the effects of the wine, answered with
an unintelligible sort of growling.

"Brother Nicholas, I say,--brother Nicholas,--will you get up, or lie here
all night?"

"They shall be cleaned and ready by to-morrow morning," replied Nicholas,

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