Part 2 out of 9
look of settled and abstracted care. His companion appeared little
disposed to interrupt his meditations, but stood leaning against the naked
walls, himself the subject of deep and sorrowful reflection. At length the
former shook off his air of thought, with that startling quickness which
seemed common to his manner; he approached a window, and, directing the
attention of Wilder to the ship in the outer harbour, abruptly demanded,--
"Has all your interest in yon vessel ceased?"
"Far from it; it is just such a boat as a seaman's eye most loves to
"Will you venture to board her?"
"At this hour? alone? I know not her commander, or her people."
"There are other hours beside this, and a sailor is certain of a frank
reception from his messmates."
"These slavers are not always willing to be boarded; they carry arms, and
know how to keep strangers at a distance."
"Are there no watch-words, in the masonry of your trade, by which a
brother is known? Such terms as 'stemming the waves with the taffrail,'
for instance, or some of those knowing phrases we have lately heard?"
Wilder kept his own keen look on the countenance of the other, as he thus
questioned him, and seemed to ponder long before he ventured on a reply.
"Why do you demand all this of me?" he coldly asked.
"Because, as I believe that 'faint heart never won fair lady,' so do I
believe that indecision never won a ship. You wish a situation, you say;
and, if I were an Admiral, I would make you my flag-captain. At the
assizes, when we wish a brief, we have our manner of letting the thing be
known. But perhaps I am talking too much at random for an utter stranger.
You will however remember, that, though it is the advice of a lawyer, it
is given gratuitously."
"And is it the more to be relied on for such extraordinary liberality?"
"Of that you must judge for yourself," said the stranger in green, very
deliberately putting his foot on the ladder, and descending, until no
part of his person but his head was seen. "Here I go, literally cutting
the waves with my taffrail," he added, as he descended backwards, and
seeming to take great pleasure in laying particular emphasis on the words.
"Adieu, my friend; if we do not meet again, I enjoin you never to forget
the rats in the Newport ruin."
He disappeared as he concluded, and in another instant his light form was
on the ground. Turning with the most admirable coolness, he gave the
bottom of the ladder a trip with one of his feet, and laid the only means
of descent prostrate on the earth. Then, looking up at the wondering
Wilder, he nodded his head familiarly, repeated his adieu, and passed with
a swift step from beneath the arches.
"This is extraordinary conduct," muttered Wilder who was by the process
left a prisoner in the ruin. After ascertaining that a fall from the trap
might endanger his legs, the young sailor ran to one of the windows of the
place, in order to reproach his treacherous comrade, or indeed to assure
himself that he was serious in thus deserting him. The barrister was
already out of hailing distance, and, before Wilder had time to decide on
what course to take, his active footsteps had led him into the skirts of
the town, among the buildings of which his person became immediately lost
to the eye.
During all the time occupied by the foregoing scenes and dialogue, Fid and
the negro had been diligently discussing the contents of the bag, under
the fence where they were last seen. As the appetite of the former became
appeased, his didactic disposition returned, and, at the precise moment
when Wilder was left alone in the tower, he was intently engaged in
admonishing the black on the delicate subject, of behaviour in mixed
"And so you see, Guinea," he concluded, "in or der to keep a weather-helm
in company, you are never to throw all aback, and go stern foremost out of
a dispute, as you have this day seen fit to do According to my l'arning,
that Master Nightingale is better in a bar-room than in a squall; and if
you had just luffed-up on his quarter, when you saw me laying myself
athwart his hawse in the argument, you see we should have given him a
regular jam in the discourse, and then the fellow would have been shamed
in the eyes of all the by-standers. Who hails? what cook is sticking his
neighbour's pig now?"
"Lor'! Misser Fid," cried the black, "here masser Harry, wid a head out of
port-hole, up dereaway in a light-house, singing-out like a marine in a
boat wid a plug out!"
"Ay, ay, let him alone for hailing a top-gallant yard, or a
flying-jib-boom! The lad has a voice like a French horn, when he has a
mind to tune it! And what the devil is he manning the guns of that
weather-beaten wreck for? At all events, if he has to fight his craft
alone, there is no one to blame but himself, since he has gone to quarters
without beat of drum, or without, in any other manner, seeing fit to
muster his people."
As Dick and the negro had both been making the best of their way towards
the ruin, from the moment they discovered the situation of their friend,
by this time they were within speaking distance of the spot itself.
Wilder, in those brief, pithy tones that distinguish the manner in which a
sea officer issues his orders, directed them to raise the ladder. When he
was liberated, he demanded, with a sufficiently significant air, if they
had observed the direction in which the stranger in green had made his
"Do you mean the chap in boots, who was for shoving his oar into another
man's rullock, a bit ago, on the small matter of wharf, hereaway, in a
range, over yonder house, bringing the north-east chimney to hear in a
line, with the mizen-top-gallant-mast-head of that ship they are warping
into the stream?"
"The very same."
"He made a slant on the wind until he had weathered yonder bit of a barn,
and then he tacked and stretched away off here to the east-and-by-south,
going large, and with studding sails alow and aloft, as I think, for he
made a devil of a head-way."
"Follow," cried Wilder, starting forward in the direction indicated by
Fid, without waiting to hear any more of the other's characteristic
The search, however, was vain. Although they continued their inquiries
until long after the sun had set, no one could give them the smallest
tidings of what had become of the stranger in green. Some had seen him,
and marvelled at his singular costume, and bold and wandering look; but,
by all accounts, he had disappeared from the town as strangely and
mysteriously as he had entered it.
"Are you so brave! I'll have you talked with anon." _Coriolanus._
The good people of the town of Newport sought their rest at an early hour.
They were remarkable for that temperance and discretion which, even to
this day, distinguish the manners of the inhabitants of New-England. By
ten, the door of every house in the place was closed for the night; and it
is quite probable, that, before another hour had passed, scarcely an eye
was open, among all those which, throughout the day, had been sufficiently
alert, not only to superintend the interests of their proper-owners, but
to spare some wholesome glances at the concerns of the rest of the
The landlord of the "Foul Anchor," as the inn, where Fid and Nightingale
had so nearly come to blows, was called, scrupulously closed his doors at
eight; a sort of expiation, by which he endeavoured to atone, while he
slept, for any moral peccadillos that he might have committed during the
day. Indeed it was to be observed as a rule, that those who had the most
difficulty in maintaining their good name, on the score of temperance and
moderation, were the most rigid in withdrawing, in season, from the daily
cares of the world. The Admiral's widow had given no little scandal, in
her time, because lights were so often seen burning in her house long
after the hour prescribed by custom for their extinction. Indeed, there
were several other little particulars in which this good lady had rendered
herself obnoxious to the whispered remarks of some of her female
visitants. An Episcopalian herself, she was always observed to be employed
with her needle on the evenings of Saturdays, though by no means
distinguished for her ordinary industry. It was, however, a sort of manner
the good lady had of exhibiting her adherence to the belief that the night
of Sunday was the orthodox evening of the Sabbath. On this subject there
was, in truth, a species of silent warfare between herself and the wife of
the principal clergyman of the town. It resulted, happily, in no very
striking marks of hostility. The latter was content to retaliate by
bringing her work, on the evenings of Sundays to the house of the dowager,
and occasionally interrupting their discourse, by a diligent application
of the needle for some five or six minutes at a time. Against this
contamination Mrs de Lacey took no other precaution than to play with the
leaves of a prayer book, precisely on the principle that one uses holy
water to keep the devil at that distance which the Church has considered
safest for its proselytes.
Let these matters be as they would, by ten o'clock on the night of the day
our tale commences, the town of Newport was as still as though it did not
contain a living soul. Watchmen there were none; for roguery had not yet
begun to thrive openly in the provinces. When, therefore, Wilder and his
two companions issued, at that hour, from their place of retirement into
the empty streets, they found them as still as if man had never trod
there. Not a candle was to be seen, nor the smallest evidence of human
life to be heard. It would seem our adventurers knew their errand well;
for, instead of knocking up any of the drowsy publicans to demand
admission, they held their way steadily to the water's side; Wilder
leading, Fid coming next, and Scipio, in conformity to all usage, bringing
up the rear, in his ordinary, quiet, submissive manner.
At the margin of the water they found several small boats, moored under
the shelter of a neighbouring wharf. Wilder gave his companions their
directions, and walked to a place convenient for embarking. After waiting
the necessary time, the bows of two boats came to the land at the same
moment, one of which was governed by the hands of the negro, and the other
by those of Fid.
"How's this?" demanded Wilder; "Is not one enough? There is some mistake
"No mistake at all," responded Dick, suffering his oar to float on its
blade, and running his fingers into his hair, as if he was content with
his achievement "no more mistake than there is in taking the sun on a
clear day and in smooth water. Guinea is in the boat you hired; but a bad
bargain you made of it, as I thought at the time; and so, as 'better late
than never' is my rule, I have just been casting an eye over all the
craft; if this is not the tightest and fastest rowing clipper of them all,
then am I no judge; and yet the parish priest would tell you, if he were
here, that my father was a boat-builder, ay, and swear it too; that is to
say, if you paid him well for the same."
"Fellow," returned Wilder, angrily, "you will one day induce me to turn
you adrift. Return the boat to the place where you found it, and see it
secured in the same manner as before."
"Turn me adrift!" deliberately repeated Fid, "that would be cutting all
your weather lanyards at one blow, master Harry. Little good would come of
Scipio Africa and you, after I should part company. Have you ever fairly
logg'd the time we have sailed together?"
"Ay, have I; but it is possible to break even a friendship of twenty
"Saving your presence, master Harry, I'll be d----d if I believe any such
thing. Here is Guinea, who is no better than a nigger, and therein far
from being a fitting messmate to a white man; but, being used to look at
his black face for four-and-twenty years, d'ye see, the colour has got
into my eye, and now it suits as well as another. Then, at sea, in a dark
night, it is not so easy a matter to tell the difference. No, no, I am not
tired of you yet, master Harry; and it is no trifle that shall part us."
"Then, abandon your habit of making free with the property of others."
"I abandon nothing. No man can say he ever knowed me to quit a deck while
a plank stuck to the beams; and shall I abandon, as you call it, my
rights? What is the mighty matter, that all hands must be called to see an
old sailor punished? You gave a lubberly fisherman, a fellow who has never
been in deeper water than his own line will sound you gave him, I say, a
glittering Spaniard, just for the use of a bit of a skiff for the night,
or, mayhap, for a small reach into the morning. Well, what does Dick do?
He says to himself--for d----e if he's any blab to run round a ship
grumbling at his officer--so he just says to himself, 'That's too much;'
and he looks about, to find the worth of it in some of the fisherman's
neighbours. Money can be eaten; and, what is better, it may be drunk;
therefore, it is not to be pitched overboard with the cook's ashes. I'll
warrant me, if the truth could be fairly come by, it would be found that,
as to the owners of this here yawl, and that there skiff, their mothers
are cousins, and that the dollar will go in snuff and strong drink among
the whole family--so, no great harm done, after all."
Wilder made an impatient gesture to the other to obey, and walked up the
bank, while he had time to comply. Fid never disputed a positive and
distinct order, though he often took so much discretionary latitude in
executing those which were less precise. He did not hesitate, therefore,
to return the boat; but he did not carry his subordination so far as to do
it without complaint. When this act of justice was performed, Wilder
entered the skiff; and, seeing that his companions were seated at their
oars, he bade them to pull down the harbour, admonishing them, at the same
time, to make as little noise as possible.
"The night I rowed you into Louisbourg, a-reconnoitring," said Fid,
thrusting his left hand into his bosom, while, with his right, he applied
sufficient force to the light oar to make the skiff glide swiftly over the
water--"that night we muffled every thing even to our tongues. When there
is occasion to put stoppers on the mouths of a boat's crew, why, I'm not
the man to gainsay it; but, as I am one of them that thinks tongues were
just as much made to talk with, as the sea was made to live on, I uphold
rational conversation in sober society. S'ip, you Guinea where are you
shoving the skiff to? hereaway lies the island, and you are for going into
yonder bit of a church."
"Lay on your oars," interrupted Wilder; "let the boat drift by this
They were now in the act of passing the ship, which had been warping from
the wharfs to an anchorage and in which the young sailor had so
clandestinely heard that Mrs Wyllys and the fascinating Gertrude were to
embark, on the following morning, for the distant province of Carolina. As
the skiff floated past, Wilder examined the vessel, by the dim light of
the stars, with a seaman's eye. No part of her hull, her spars, or her
rigging, escaped his notice, and, when the whole became confounded, by the
distance, in one dark mass of shapeless matter, he leaned his head over
the side of his little bark, and mused long and deeply with himself. To
this abstraction Fid presumed to offer no interruption. It had the
appearance of professional duty; a subject that, in his eyes, was endowed
with a species of character that might be called sacred. Scipio was
habitually silent. After losing many minutes in the manner, Wilder
suddenly regained his recollection and abruptly observed,--
"It is a tall ship, and one that should make a long chase!"
"That's as may be," returned the ready Fid. "Should that fellow get a free
wind, and his canvas all abroad, it might worry a King's cruiser to get
nigh enough to throw the iron on his decks; but jamm'd up close hauled,
why, I'd engage to lay on his weather quarter, with the saucy He--"
"Boys," interrupted Wilder, "it is now proper that you dhould know
something of my future movements. We have been shipmates, I might almost
say messmates, for more than twenty years. I was better than an infant,
Fid, when you brought me to the commander of your ship, and not only was
instrumental in saving my life, but in putting me into a situation to make
"Ay, ay, you were no great matter, master Harry as to bulk; and a short
hammock served your turn as well as the captain's birth."
"I owe you a heavy debt, Fid, for that one generous act, and something, I
may add, for your steady adherence to me since."
"Why, yes, I've been pretty steady in my conduct master Harry, in this
here business, more particularly seeing that I have never let go my
grapplings, though you've so often sworn to turn me adrift. As for Guinea,
here, the chap makes fair weather with you, blow high or blow low, whereas
it is no hard matter to get up a squall between us, as might be seen in
that small affair about the boat;"--
"Say no more of it," interrupted Wilder, whose feelings appeared sensibly
touched, as his recollections ran over long-past and bitterly-remembered
scenes: "You know that little else than death can part us, unless indeed
you choose to quit me now. It is right that you should know that I am
engaged in a desperate pursuit, and one that may easily end in ruin to
myself and all who accompany me. I feel reluctant to separate from you, my
friends, for it may be a final parting, but, at the same time, you should
know all the danger."
"Is there much more travelling by land?" bluntly demanded Fid.
"No; the duty, such as it is, will be done entirely in the water."
"Then bring forth your ship's books, and find room for such a mark as a
pair of crossed anchors, which stand for all the same as so many letters
reading 'Richard Fid.'"
"But perhaps, when you know"----
"I want to know nothing about it, master Harry Haven't I sailed with you
often enough under sealed orders, to trust my old body once more in your
company without forgetting my duty? What say you Guinea? will you ship? or
shall we land you at once, on yonder bit of a low point, and leave you to
scrape acquaintance with the clams?"
"'Em berry well off, here," muttered the perfectly contented negro.
"Ay, ay, Guinea is like the launch of one of the coasters, always towing
in your wake, master Harry; whereas I am often luffing athwart your hawse,
or getting foul, in some fashion or other, on one of your quarters.
Howsomever, we are both shipped, as you see, in this here cruise, with the
particulars of which we are both well satisfied. So pass the word among
us, what is to be done next, and no more parley."
"Remember the cautions you have already received returned Wilder, who saw
that the devotion of his followers was too infinite to need quickening,
and who knew, from long and perilous experience, how implicitly he might
rely on their fidelity, notwithstanding certain failings, that were
perhaps peculiar to their condition; remember what I have already given in
charge; and now pull directly for yon ship in the outer harbour."
Fid and the black promptly complied; and the boat was soon skimming the
water between the little island and what might, by comparison, be called
the main. As they approached the vessel, the strokes of the oars were
moderated, and finally abandoned altogether, Wilder preferring to let the
skiff drop down with the tide upon the object he wished well to examine
before venturing to board.
"Has not that ship her nettings triced to the rigging?" he demanded, in a
voice that was lowered to the tones necessary to escape observation, and
which betrayed, at the same time, the interest he took in the reply.
"According to my sight, she has," returned Fid; "your slavers are a little
pricked by conscience, and are never over-bold, unless when they are
chasing a young nigger on the coast of Congo. Now, there is about as much
danger of a Frenchman's looking in here to-night, with this land breeze
and clear sky, as there is of my being made Lord High Admiral of England;
a thing not likely to come to pass soon, seeing that the King don't know a
great deal of my merit."
"They are, to a certainty, ready to give a warm reception to any
boarders!" continued Wilder, who rarely paid much attention to the
amplifications with which Fid so often saw fit to embellish the discourse.
"It would be no easy matter to carry a ship thus prepared, if her people
were true to themselves."
"I warrant ye there is a full quarter-watch at least sleeping among her
guns, at this very moment, with a bright look-out from her cat-heads and
taffrail. I was once on the weather fore-yard-arm of the Hebe, when I
made, hereaway to the south-west, a sail coming large upon us,"--
"Hist! they are stirring on her decks!"
"To be sure they are. The cook is splitting a log; the captain has sung
out for his night-cap."
The voice of Fid was lost in a summons from the ship, that sounded like
the roaring of some sea monster which had unexpectedly raised its head
above the water. The practised ears of our adventurers instantly
comprehended it to be, what it truly was, the manner in which it was not
unusual to hail a boat. Without taking time to ascertain that the plashing
of oars was to be heard in the distance. Wilder raised his form in the
skiff, and answered.
"How now?" exclaimed the same strange voice; "there is no one victualled
aboard here that speaks thus. Whereaway are you, he that answers?"
"A little on your larboard bow; here, in the shadow of the ship."
"And what are ye about, within the sweep of my hawse?"
"Cutting the waves with my taffrail," returned Wilder, after a moment's
"What fool has broke adrift here!" muttered his interrogator. "Pass a
blunderbuss forward, and let us see if a civil answer can't be drawn from
"Hold!" said a calm but authoritative voice from the most distant part of
the ship; "it is as it should be, let them approach."
The man in the bows of the vessel bade them come along side, and then the
conversation ceased. Wilder had now an opportunity to discover, that, as
the hail had been intended for another boat, which was still at a
distance, he had answered prematurely. But, perceiving that it was too
late to retreat with safety, or perhaps only acting in conformity to his
original determination, he directed his companions to obey.
"'Cutting the waves with the taffrail,' is not the civillest answer a man
can give to a hail," muttered Fid, as he dropped the blade of his oar into
the water; "nor is it a matter to be logged in a man's memory, that they
have taken offence at the same. Howsomever, master Harry, if they are so
minded as to make a quarrel about the thing, give them as good as they
send, and count on manly backers."
No reply was made to this encouraging assurance for, by this time, the
skiff was within a few feet of the ship. Wilder ascended the side of the
vessel amid a deep, and, as he felt it to be, an ominous silence. The
night was dark, though enough light fell from the stars, that were here
and there visible, to render objects sufficiently distinct to the
practised eyes of a seaman. When our young adventurer touched the deck, he
cast a hurried and scrutinizing look about him, as if doubts and
impressions, which had long been harboured, were all to be resolved by
that first view.
An ignorant landsman would have been struck with the order and symmetry
with which the tall spars rose towards the heavens, from the black mass of
the hull, and with the rigging that hung in the air, one dark line
crossing another, until all design seemed confounded in the confusion and
intricacy of the studied maze. But to Wilder these familiar objects
furnished no immediate attraction. His first rapid glance had, like that
of all seamen, it is true, been thrown upward, but it was instantly
succeeded by the brief, though keen, examination to which we have just
alluded. With the exception of one who, though his form was muffled in a
large sea-cloak, seemed to be an officer, not a living creature was to be
seen on the decks. On either side there was a dark, frowning battery,
arranged in the beautiful and imposing order of marine architecture; but
nowhere could he find a trace of the crowd of human beings which usually
throng the deck of an armed ship, or that was necessary to render the
engines effective. It might be that her people were in their hammocks, as
usual at that hour, but still it was customary to leave a sufficient
number on the watch, to look to the safety of the vessel. Finding himself
so unexpectedly confronted with a single individual, our adventurer began
to be sensible of the awkwardness of his situation, and of the necessity
of some explanation.
"You are no doubt surprised, sir," he said, "at the lateness of the hour
that I have chosen for my visit."
"You were certainly expected earlier," was the laconic answer.
"Ay, expected. Have I not seen you, and your two companions who are in the
boat, reconnoitring us half the day, from the wharfs of the town, and even
from the old tower on the hill? What did all this curiosity foretel, but
an intention to come on board?"
"This is odd, I will acknowledge!" exclaimed Wilder, in some secret alarm.
"And, then, you had notice of my intentions?"
"Hark ye, friend," interrupted the other, indulging in a short, low laugh;
"from your outfit and appearance I think I am right in calling you a
seaman: Do you imagine that glasses were forgotten in the inventory of
this ship? or, do you fancy that we don't know how to use them?"
"You must have strong reasons for looking so deeply into the movements of
strangers on the land."
"Hum! Perhaps we expect our cargo from the country. But I suppose you have
not come so far in the dark to look at our manifest. You would see the
"Do I not see him?"
"Where?" demanded the other, with a start that manifested he stood in a
salutary awe of his superior.
"I! I have not got so high in the books, though my time may come yet, some
fair day. Hark ye, friend; you passed under the stern of yonder ship,
which has been hauling into the stream, in coming out to us?"
"Certainly; she lies, as you see, directly in my course."
"A wholesome-looking craft that! and one well found, I warrant you. She
is quite ready to be off they tell me."
"It would so seem: her sails are bent, and she floats like a ship that is
"Of what?" abruptly demanded the other.
"Of articles mentioned in her manifest, no doubt. But you seem light
yourself: if you are to load at this port, it will be some days before you
put to sea."
"Hum! I don't think we shall be long after our neighbour," the other
remarked, a little drily. Then, as if he might have said too much, he
added hastily, "We slavers carry little else, you know, than our shackles
and a few extra tierces of rice; the rest of our ballast is made up of
these guns, and the stuff to put into them."
"And is it usual for ships in the trade to carry so heavy an armament?"
"Perhaps it is, perhaps not. To own the truth, there is not much law on
the coast, and the strong arm often does as much as the right. Our owners,
therefore, I believe, think it quite as well there should be no lack of
guns and ammunition on board."
"They should also give you people to work them."
"They have forgotten that part of their wisdom, certainly."
His words were nearly drowned by the same gruff voice that had brought-to
the skiff of Wilder, which sent another hoarse summons across the water,
rolling out sounds that were intended to say,--
The answer was quick, short, and nautical; but it was rendered in a low
and cautious tone. The individual, with whom Wilder had been holding such
equivocating parlance, seemed embarrassed by the sudden interruption, and
a little at a loss to know how to conduct himself. He had already made a
motion towards leading his visiter to the cabin, when the sounds of oars
were heard clattering in a boat along side of the ship, announcing that he
was too late. Bidding the other remain where he was, he sprang to the
gangway, in order to receive those who had just arrived.
By this sudden desertion, Wilder found himself in entire possession of
that part of the vessel where he stood. It gave him a better opportunity
to renew his examination, and to cast a scrutinizing eye also over the new
Some five or six athletic-looking seamen ascended from the boat, in
profound silence. A short and whispered conference took place between them
and their officer, who appeared both to receive a report, and to
communicate an order. When these preliminary matters were ended, a line
was lowered, from a whip on the main-yard, the end evidently dropping into
the newly-arrived boat. In a moment, the burthen it was intended to
transfer to the ship was seen swinging in the air, midway between the
water and the spar. It then slowly descended, inclining inboard until it
was safely, and somewhat carefully, landed on the decks of the vessel.
During the whole of this process, which in itself had nothing
extraordinary or out of the daily practice of large vessels in port,
Wilder had strained his eyes, until they appeared nearly ready to start
from their sockets. The black mass, which had been lifted from the boat,
seemed, while it lay against the background of sky, to possess the
proportions of the human form. The seamen gathered about this object After
much bustle, and a good deal of low conversation, the burthen or body,
whichever it might be called, was raised by the men, and the whole
disappeared together, behind the masts, boats, and guns which crowded the
forward part of the vessel.
The whole event was of a character to attract the attention of Wilder.
His eye was not, however, so intently riveted on the groupe in the
gangway, as to prevent his detecting a dozen black objects, that were
suddenly thrust forward, from behind the spars and other dark masses of
the vessel. They might be blocks swinging in the air, but they bore also a
wonderful resemblance to human heads. The simultaneous manner in which
they both appeared and disappeared, served to confirm this impression;
nor, to confess the truth, had our adventurer any doubt that curiosity had
drawn so many inquiring countenances from their respective places of
concealment. He had not much leisure, however, to reflect on all these
little accompaniments of his situation, before he was rejoined by his
former companion, who, to all appearance, was again left, with himself, to
the entire possession of the deck.
"You know the trouble of getting off the people from the shore," the
officer observed, "when a ship is ready to sail."
"You seem to have a summary method of hoisting them in," returned Wilder.
"Ah! you speak of the fellow on the whip? Your eyes are good, friend, to
tell a jack-knife from a marling-spike, at this distance. But the lad was
mutinous; that is, not absolutely mutinous--but, drunk. As mutinous as a
man can well be, who can neither speak, sit, nor stand."
Then, as if as well content with his humour as with this simple
explanation, the other laughed and chuckled, in a manner that showed he
was in perfect good humour with himself.
"But all this time you are left on deck," he quickly added, "and the
Captain is waiting your appearance in the cabin: Follow; I will be your
"Hold," said Wilder; "will it not be as well to announce my visit?"
"He knows it already: Little takes place aboard, here, that does not
reach his ears before it gets into the log-book."
Wilder made no further objection, but indicated his readiness to proceed.
The other led the way to the bulkhead which separated the principal cabin
from the quarter-deck of the ship; and, pointing to a door, he rather
whispered than said aloud,--
"Tap twice; if he answer, go in."
Wilder did as he was directed. His first summons was either unheard or
disregarded. On repeating it, he was bid to enter. The young seaman opened
the door, with a crowd of sensations, that will find their solution in the
succeeding parts of our narrative and instantly stood, under the light of
a powerful lamp, in the presence of the stranger in green.
----"The good old plan,
That they should get, who have the power,
And they should keep, who can."--_Wordsworth._
The apartment, in which our adventurer now found himself, afforded no bad
illustration of the character of its occupant. In its form, and
proportions it was a cabin of the usual size and arrangements; but, in its
furniture and equipments, it exhibited a singular admixture of luxury and
martial preparation. The lamp, which swung from the upper deck, was of
solid silver; and, though adapted to its present situation by mechanical
ingenuity, there was that, in its shape and ornaments, which betrayed it
had once been used before some shrine of a far more sacred character.
Massive candlesticks of the same precious metal, and which partook of the
same ecclesiastical formation, were on a venerable table, whose mahogany
was glittering with the polish of half a century, and whose gilded claws,
and carved supporters, bespoke an original destination very different from
the ordinary service of a ship. A couch, covered with cut velvet, stood
along the transom; while a divan, of blue silk, lay against the bulkhead
opposite, manifesting, by its fashion, its materials, and its piles of
pillows, that even Asia had been made to contribute to the ease of its
luxurious owner. In addition to these prominent articles, there were cut
glass, mirrors, plate, and even hangings; each of which, by something
peculiar in its fashion or materials, bespoke an origin different from
that of its neighbour. In short, splendour and elegance seemed to have
been much more consulted than propriety, or conformity in taste, in the
selection of most of those articles, which had been, oddly enough, made to
contribute to the caprice or to the comfort of their singular possessor.
In the midst of this medley of wealth and luxury, appeared the frowning
appendages of war. The cabin included four of those dark cannon whose
weight and number had been first to catch the attention of Wilder.
Notwithstanding they were placed in such close proximity to the articles
of ease just enumerated, it only needed a seaman's eye to perceive that
they stood ready for instant service, and that five minutes of preparation
would strip the place of all its tinsel, and leave it a warm and well
protected battery. Pistols, sabres, half-pikes, boarding-axes and all the
minor implements of marine warfare, were arranged about the cabin in such
a manner as to aid in giving it an appearance of wild embellishment,
while, at the same time, each was convenient to the hand.
Around the mast was placed a stand of muskets, and strong wooden bars,
that were evidently made to fit in brackets on either side of the door,
sufficiently showed that the bulkhead might easily be converted into a
barrier. The entire arrangement proclaimed that the cabin was considered
the citadel of the ship. In support of this latter opinion, appeared a
hatch, which evidently communicated with the apartments of the inferior
officers, and which also opened a direct passage into the magazine. These
dispositions, a little different from what he had been accustomed to see,
instantly struck the eye of Wilder, though leisure was not then given to
reflect on their uses and objects.
There was a latent expression of satisfaction, something modified,
perhaps, by irony, on the countenance of the stranger in green, (for he
was still clad as when first introduced to the reader,) as he arose, on
the entrance of his visiter. The two stood several moments without
speaking, when the pretended barrister saw fit to break the awkward
"To what happy circumstance is this ship indebted for the honour of such a
visit?" he demanded.
"I believe I may answer, To the invitation of her Captain," Wilder
answered, with a steadiness and calmness equal to that displayed by the
"Did he show you his commission, in assuming that office? They say, at
sea, I believe, that no cruiser should be found without a commission."
"And what say they at the universities on this material point?"
"I see I may as well lay aside my gown, and own the marling-spike!"
returned the other, smiling, "There is something about the
trade--_profession_, though, I believe, is your favourite word--there is
something about the profession, which betrays us to each other. Yes, Mr
Wilder," he added with dignity motioning to his guest to imitate his
example, and take a seat, "I am, like yourself, a seaman bred and happy am
I to add, the Commander of this gallant vessel."
"Then, must you admit that I have not intruded without a sufficient
"I confess the same. My ship has filled your eye agreeably; nor shall I be
slow to acknowledge, that I have seen enough about your air, and person,
to make me wish to be an older acquaintance. You want service?"
"One should be ashamed of idleness in these stirring times."
"It is well. This is an oddly-constructed world in which we live, Mr
Wilder! Some think themselves in danger, with a foundation beneath them no
less solid than _terra firma_, while others are content to trust their
fortunes on the sea. So, again, some there are who believe praying is the
business of man; and then come others who are sparing of their breath, and
take those favours for themselves which they have not always the leisure
or the inclination to ask for. No doubt you thought it prudent to inquire
into the nature of our trade, before you came hither in quest of
"You are said to be a slaver, among the townsmen of Newport."
"They are never wrong, your village gossips! If witchcraft ever truly
existed on earth, the first of the cunning tribe has been a village
innkeeper; the second, its doctor; and the third, its priest. The right to
the fourth honour may be disputed between the barber and the
The Captain accompanied the word by which he so unceremoniously
interrupted himself, by striking a light blow on a Chinese gong, which,
among other curiosities, was suspended from one of the beams of the upper
deck, within reach of his hand.
"I say, Roderick, do you sleep?"
A light and active boy darted out of one of the two little state-rooms
which were constructed on the quarters of the ship, and answered to the
summons by announcing his presence.
"Has the boat returned?"
The reply was in the affirmative.
"And has she been successful?"
"The General is in his room, sir, and can give you an answer better than
"Then, let the General appear, and report the result of his campaign."
Wilder was by far too deeply interested, to break the sudden reverie into
which his companion had now evidently fallen, even by breathing as loud as
usual. The boy descended through the hatch like a serpent gliding into his
hole, or, rather, a fox darting into his burrow, and then a profound
stillness reigned in the cabin. The Commander of the ship leaned his head
on his hand, appearing utterly unconscious of the presence of any
stranger. The silence might have been of much longer duration, had it not
been interrupted by the appearance of a third person. A straight, rigid
form slowly elevated itself through the little hatchway, very much in the
manner that theatrical spectres are seen to make their appearance on the
stage, until about half of the person was visible, when it ceased to rise,
and turned its disciplined countenance on the Captain.
"I wait for orders," said a mumbling voice, which issued from lips that
were hardly perceived to move.
Wilder started as this unexpected individual appeared; nor was the
stranger wanting in an aspect sufficiently remarkable to produce surprise
in any spectator. The face was that of a man of fifty, with the lineaments
rather indurated than faded by time. Its colour was an uniform red, with
the exception of one of those expressive little fibrous tell-tales on each
cheek, which bear so striking a resemblance to the mazes of the vine, and
which would seem to be the true origin of the proverb which says that
"good wine needs no bush." The head was bald on its crown; but around
either ear was a mass of grizzled hair, pomatumed and combed into formal
military bristles. The neck was long, and supported by a black stock; the
shoulders, arms, and body were those of a man of tall stature; and the
whole were enveloped in an over-coat, which, though it had something
methodical in its fashion, was evidently intended as a sort of domino. The
Captain raised his head as the other spoke, exclaiming,--
"Ah! General, are you at your post? Did you find the land?"
"And the point?--and the man?"
"And what did you?"
"That was right.--You are a jewel for an executive officer, General; and,
as such, I wear you near my heart. Did the fellow complain?"
"He was gagged."
"A summary method of closing remonstrance. It is as it should be, General;
as usual, you have merited my approbation."
"Then reward me for it."
"In what manner? You are already as high in rank as I can elevate you. The
next step must be knighthood."
"Pshaw! my men are no better than militia. They want coats."
"They shall have them. His Majesty's guards shall not be half so well
equipt. General, I wish you a good night."
The figure descended, in the same rigid, spectral manner as it had risen
on the sight, leaving Wilder again alone with the Captain of the ship. The
latter seemed suddenly struck with the fact that this odd interview had
occurred in the presence of one who was nearly a stranger, and that, in
his eyes at least, it might appear to require some explanation.
"My friend," he said, with an air something explanatory while it was at
the same time not a little naughty, "commands what, in a more regular
cruiser, would be called the 'marine guard.' He has gradually risen, by
service, from the rank of a subaltern, to the high station which he now
fills. You perceive he smells of the camp?"
"More than of the ship. Is it usual for slavers to be so well provided
with military equipments? I find you armed at all points."
"You would know more of us, before we proceed to drive our bargain?" the
Captain answered, with a smile. He then opened a little casket that stood
on the table, and drew from it a parchment, which he coolly handed to
Wilder, saying, as he did so, with one of the quick, searching glances of
his restless eye, "You will see, by that, we have 'letters of marque,' and
are duly authorized to fight the battles of the King, while we are
conducting our own more peaceable affairs."
"This is the commission of a brig!"
"True, true. I have given you the wrong paper. I believe you will find
this more accurate."
"This is truly a commission for the 'good ship Seven Sisters;' but you
surely carry more than ten guns, and, then, these in your cabin throw nine
instead of four pound shot!"
"Ah! you are as precise as though you had been the barrister, and I the
blundering seaman. I dare say you have heard of such a thing as stretching
a commission," continued the Captain drily, as he carelessly threw the
parchment back among a pile of similar documents. Then, rising from his
seat, he began to pace the cabin with quick steps, as he continued, "I
need not tell you, Mr Wilder, that ours is a hazardous pursuit. Some call
it lawless. But, as I am little addicted to theological disputes, we will
wave the question. You have not come here without knowing your errand."
"I am in search of a birth."
"Doubtless you have reflected well on the matter and know your own mind as
to the trade in which you would sail. In order that no time may be wasted
and that our dealings may be frank, as becomes two honest seamen, I will
confess to you, at once, that I have need of you. A brave and skilful man,
one older, though, I dare say, not better than yourself occupied that
larboard state-room, within the month; but, poor fellow, he is food for
fishes ere this."
"He was drowned?"
"Not he! He died in open battle with a King's ship!"
"A King's ship! Have you then stretched your commission so far as to find
a warranty for giving battle to his Majesty's cruisers?"
"Is there no King but George the Second! Perhaps she bore the white flag,
perhaps a Dane. But he was truly a gallant fellow; and there lies his
birth, as empty as the day he was carried from it, to be cast into the
sea. He was a man fit to succeed to the command, should an evil star shine
on my fate, I think I could die easier, were I to know this noble vessel
was to be transmitted to one who would make such use of her as should be."
"Doubtless your owners would provide a successor in the event of such a
"My owners are very reasonable," returned the other, with a meaning smile,
while he cast another searching glance at his guest, which compelled
Wilder to lower his own eyes to the cabin floor; "they seldom trouble me
with importunities, or orders."
"They are indulgent! I see that flags were not forgotten in your
inventory: Do they also give you permission to wear any one of all those
ensigns, as you may please?"
As this question was put, the expressive and understanding looks of the
two seamen met. The Captain drew a flag from the half-open locker, where
it had caught the attention of his visiter, and, letting the roll unfold
itself on the deck, he answered,--
"This is the Lily of France, you see. No bad emblem of your stainless
Frenchman. An escutcheon of pretence without spot, but, nevertheless, a
little soiled by too much use. Here, you have the calculating Dutchman;
plain, substantial, and cheap. It is a flag I little like. If the ship be
of value, her owners are not often willing to dispose of her without a
price. This is your swaggering Hamburgher. He is rich in the possession of
one town, and makes his boast of it, in these towers. Of the rest of his
mighty possessions he wisely says nothing in his allegory These are the
Crescents of Turkey; a moon-struck nation, that believe themselves the
inheritors of heaven. Let them enjoy their birthright in peace; it is
seldom they are found looking for its blessings on the high seas--and
these, the little satellites that play about the mighty moon; your
Barbarians of Africa. I hold but little communion with these
wide-trowsered gentry, for they seldom deal in gainful traffic. And yet,"
he added, glancing his eye at the silken divan before which Wilder was
seated, "I have met the rascals; nor have we parted entirely without
communication! Ah! here comes the man I like; your golden, gorgeous
Spaniard! This field of yellow reminds one of the riches of her mines; and
this Crown! one might fancy it of beaten gold, and stretch forth a hand to
grasp the treasure What a blazonry is this for a galleon! Here is the
humbler Portuguese; and yet is he not without a wealthy look. I have
often fancied there were true Brazilian diamonds in this kingly bauble.
Yonder crucifix, which you see hanging in pious proximity to my state-room
door, is a specimen of the sort I mean." Wilder turned his head, to throw
a look on the valuable emblem, that was really suspended from the
bulkhead, within a few inches of the spot the other named. After
satisfying his curiosity he was in the act of giving his attention again
to the flags, when he detected another of those penetrating, but stolen
glances with which his companion so often read the countenance of his
associates. It might have been that the Captain was endeavouring to
discover the effect his profuse display of wealth had produced on the mind
of his visiter. Let that be as it would, Wilder smiled; for, at that
moment, the idea first occurred that the ornaments of the cabin had been
thus studiously arranged with an expectation of his arrival, and with the
wish that their richness might strike his senses favourably. The other
caught the expression of his eye; and perhaps he mistook its meaning, when
he suffered his construction of what it said to animate him to pursue his
whimsical analysis of the flags, with an air still more cheerful and
vivacious than before.
"These double-headed monsters are land birds and seldom risk a flight over
deep waters. They are not for me. Your hardy, valiant Dane; your sturdy
Swede; a nest of smaller fry," he continued, passing his hand rapidly over
a dozen little rolls as they lay, each in its own repository, "who spread
their bunting like larger states; and your luxurious Neapolitan. Ah! here
come the Keys of Heaven! This is a flag to die under! I lay yard-arm and
yard-arm, once, under that very bit of bunting, with a heavy corsair from
"What! Did you choose to fight under the banners of the Church?"
"In mere devotion. I pictured to myself the surprise that would overcome
the barbarian, when he should find that we did not go to prayers. We gave
him but a round or two, before he swore that Allah had decreed he might
surrender. There was a moment while I luffed-up on his weather-quarter, I
believe, that the Mussulman thought the whole of the holy Conclave was
afloat, and that the downfall of Mahomet and his offspring was ordained. I
provoked the conflict, I will confess, in showing him these peaceful Keys,
which he is dull enough to think open half the strong boxes of
"When he had confessed his error, you let him go?"
"Hum!--with my blessing. There was some interchange of commodities between
us, and then we parted. I left him smoking his pipe, in a heavy sea with
his fore-topmast over the side, his mizzenmast under his counter, and some
six or seven holes in his bottom, that let in the water just as fast as
the pumps discharged it. You see he was in a fair way to acquire his
portion of the inheritance. But Heaven had ordained it all, and he was
"And what flags are these which you have passed? They seem rich, and
"These are England; like herself, aristocratic, party-coloured, and a good
deal touched by humour. Here is bunting to note all ranks and conditions,
as if men were not made of the same flesh, and the people of one kingdom
might not all sail honestly under the same emblems. Here is my Lord High
Admiral; your St. George; your field of red, and of blue, as chance may
give you a leader, or the humour of the moment prevail; the stripes of
mother India, and the Royal Standard itself!"
"The Royal Standard!"
"Why not? A commander is termed a 'monarch in his ship.' Ay; this is the
Standard of the King and, what is more, it has been worn in presence of
"This needs explanation!" exclaimed his listener who seemed to feel much
that sort of horror that a churchman would discover at the detection of
sacrilege. "To wear the Royal Standard in presence of a flag! We all know
how difficult, and even dangerous, it becomes, to sport a simple pennant,
with the eyes of a King's cruiser on us--"
"I love to flaunt the rascals!" interrupted the other, with a smothered,
but bitter laugh. "There is pleasure in the thing!--In order to punish,
they must possess the power; an experiment often made, but never yet
successful. You understand balancing accounts with the law, by showing a
broad sheet of canvas! I need say no more."
"And which of all these flags do you most use?" demanded Wilder, after a
moment of intense thought.
"As to mere sailing, I am as whimsical as a girl in her teens in the
choice of her ribbons. I will often show you a dozen in a day. Many is the
worthy trader who has gone into port with his veritable account of this
Dutchman, or that Dane, with whom he has spoken in the offing. As to
fighting, though I have been known to indulge a humour, too, in that
particular, still is there one which I most affect."
"And that is?----"
The Captain kept his hand, for a moment, on the roll he had touched, and
seemed to read the very soul of his visiter, so intent and keen was his
look the while. Then, suffering the bunting to fall, a deep, blood-red
field, without relief or ornament of any sort, unfolded itself, as he
answered, with emphasis,--
"That is the colour of a Rover!"
"Ay, it is _red_! I like it better than your gloomy fields of black, with
death's heads, and other childish scare-crows. It threatens nothing; but
merely says, 'Such is the price at which I am to be bought.' Mr Wilder,"
he added, losing the mixture of irony and pleasantry with which he had
supported the previous dialogue, in an air of authority, "We understand
each other. It is time that each should sail under his proper colours. I
need not tell you who I am."
"I believe it is unnecessary," said Wilder. "If I can comprehend these
palpable signs, I stand in presence of--of--"
"The Red Rover," continued the other, observing that he hesitated to
pronounce the appalling name. "It is true; and I hope this interview is
the commencement of a durable and firm friendship. I know not the secret
cause, but, from the moment of our meeting, a strong and indefinable
interest has drawn me towards you. Perhaps I felt the void which my
situation has drawn about me;--be that as it may, I receive you with a
longing heart and open arms."
Though it must be very evident, from what-preceded this open avowal, that
Wilder was not ignorant of the character of the ship on board of which he
had just ventured, yet did he not receive the acknowledgment without
embarrassment. The reputation of this renowned freebooter, his daring, his
acts of liberality and licentiousness so frequently blended, and his
desperate disregard of life on all occasions, were probably crowding
together in the recollection of our more youthful adventurer, and caused
him to feel that species of responsible hesitation to which we are all
more or less subject on the occurrence of important events, be they ever
so much expected.
"You have not mistaken my purpose, or my suspicions," he at length
answered, "for I own have come in search of this very ship. I accept the
service; and, from this moment, you will rate me in whatever station you
may think me best able to discharge my duty with credit."
"You are next to myself. In the morning, the same shall be proclaimed on
the quarter-deck; and, in the event of my death, unless I am deceived in
my man, you will prove my successor. This may strike you as sudden
confidence. It is so, in part, I must acknowledge; but our shipping lists
cannot be opened, like those of the King, by beat of drum in the streets
of the metropolis; and, then, am I no judge of the human heart, if my
frank reliance on your faith does not, in itself, strengthen your good
feelings in my favour."
"It does!" exclaimed Wilder, with sudden and deep emphasis.
The Rover smiled calmly, as he continued,--
"Young gentlemen of your years are apt to carry no small portion of their
hearts in their hands. But, notwithstanding this seeming sympathy, in
order that you may have sufficient respect for the discretion of your
leader, it is necessary that I should say we have met before. I was
apprised of your intention to seek me out, and to offer to join me."
"It is impossible!" cried Wilder, "No human being--"
"Can ever be certain his secrets are safe," interrupted the other, "when
he carries a face as ingenuous as your own. It is but four-and-twenty
hours since you were in the good town of Boston."
"I admit that much; but--"
"You will soon admit the rest. You were too curious in your inquiries of
the dolt who declares he was robbed by us of his provisions and sails. The
false-tongued villain! It may be well for him to keep from my path, or he
may get a lesson that shall prick his honesty. Does he think such pitiful
game as he would induce me to spread a single inch of canvas, or even to
lower a boat into the sea!"
"Is not his statement, then, true?" demanded Wilder, in a surprise he took
no pains to conceal.
"True! Am I what report has made me? Look keenly at the monster, that
nothing may escape you," returned the Rover, with a hollow laugh, in which
scorn struggled to keep down the feelings of wounded pride. "Where are the
horns, and the cloven foot? Snuff the air: Is it not tainted with sulphur?
But enough of this. I knew of your inquiries, and liked your mien. In
short, you were my study; and, though my approaches were made with some
caution they were sufficiently nigh to effect the object. You pleased me,
Wilder; and I hope the satisfaction may be mutual."
The newly engaged buccanier bowed to the compliment of his superior, and
appeared at some little loss for a reply: As if to get rid of the subject
at once, he hurriedly observed,--
"As we now understand each other, I will intrude no longer, but leave you
for the night, and return to my duty in the morning."
"Leave me!" returned the Rover, stopping short on his walk, and fastening
his eye keenly on the other. "It is not usual for my officers to leave me
at this hour. A sailor should love his ship, and never sleep out of her,
unless on compulsion."
"We may as well understand each other," said Wilder, quickly. "If it is to
be a slave, and, like one of the bolts, a fixture in the vessel, that you
need me, our bargain is at an end."
"Hum! I admire your spirit, sir, much more than your discretion. You will
find me an attached friend and one who little likes a separation, however
short Is there not enough to content you here? I will not speak of such
low considerations as those which administer to the ordinary appetites.
But, you have been taught the value of reason; here are books--you have
taste; here is elegance--you are poor, here is wealth."
"They amount to nothing, without liberty," coldly returned the other.
"And what is this liberty you ask? I hope, young man, you would not so
soon betray the confidence you have just received! Our acquaintance is but
short, and I may have been too hasty in my faith."
"I must return to the land," Wilder added, firmly, "if it be only to know
that I am intrusted, and am not a prisoner."
"There is generous sentiment, or deep villany, in all this," resumed the
Rover, after a minute of deep thought. "I will believe the former. Declare
to me, that, while in the town of Newport, you will inform no soul of the
true character of this ship."
"I will swear it," eagerly interrupted Wilder.
"On this cross," rejoined the Rover, with a sarcastic laugh; "on this
diamond-mounted cross! No, sir," he added, with a proud curl of the lip,
as he cast the jewel contemptuously aside, "oaths are made for men who
need laws to keep them to their promises; I need no more than the clear
and unequivocal affirmation of a gentleman."
"Then, plainly and unequivocally do I declare, that, while in Newport, I
will discover the character of this ship to no one, without your wish, or
order so to do. Nay more"--
"No more. It is wise to be sparing of our pledges, and to say no more than
the occasion requires. The time may come when you might do good to
yourself, without harming me, by being unfettered by a promise. In an
hour, you shall land; that time will be needed to make you acquainted with
the terms of your enlistment, and to grace my rolls with your
name.--Roderick," he added, again touching the gong, "you are wanted,
The same active lad, that had made his appearance at the first summons,
ran up the steps from the cabin beneath, and announced his presence again
by his voice.
"Roderick," continued the Rover, "this is my future lieutenant, and, of
course, your officer, and my friend. Will you take refreshment, sir? there
is little, that man needs, which Roderick cannot supply."
"I thank you; I have need of none."
"Then, have the goodness to follow the boy. He will show you into the
dining apartment beneath, and give you the written regulations. In an
hour, you will have digested the code, and by that time I shall be with
you. Throw the light more upon the ladder, boy; you can descend _without_
a ladder though, it would seem, or I should not, at this moment, have the
pleasure of your company."
The intelligent smile of the Rover was unanswered by any corresponding
evidence from the subject of his joke, that he found satisfaction in the
remembrance of the awkward situation in which he had been left in the
tower. The former caught the displeased expression of the other's
countenance, as he gravely prepared to follow the boy, who already stood
in the hatchway with a light. Advancing a step with the grace and tones of
sensitive breeding, he said quickly,--
"Mr Wilder, I owe you an apology for my seeming rudeness at parting on the
hill. Though I believed you mine, I was not sure of my acquisition. You
will readily see how necessary it might be, to one in my situation, to
throw off a companion at such a moment."
Wilder turned, with a countenance from which every shade of displeasure
had vanished, and motioned to him to say no more.
"It was awkward enough, certainly, to find one's self in such a prison;
but I feel the justice of what you say. I might have done the very thing
myself, if the same presence of mind were at hand to help me."
"The good man, who grinds in the Newport ruin, must be in a sad way, since
all the rats are leaving his mill," cried the Rover gaily, as his
companion descended after the boy. Wilder now freely returned his open,
cordial laugh, and then, as he descended, the cabin was left to him who, a
few minutes before, had been found in its quiet possession.
"The world affords no law to make thee rich;
Then be not poor, but break it, and take this."
_Apoth._ "My poverty, but not my will, consents."
_Romeo and Juliet._
The Rover arrested his step, as the other disappeared and stood for more
than a minute in an attitude of high and self-gratulating triumph. It was
quite apparent he was exulting in his success. But, though his intelligent
face betrayed the satisfaction of the inward man, it was illumined by no
expression of vulgar joy. It was the countenance of one who was suddenly
relieved from intense care, rather than that of a man who was greedy of
profiting by the services of others. Indeed, it would not have been
difficult, for a close and practised observer, to have detected a shade of
regret in the lightings of his seductive smile, or in the momentary
flashes of his changeful eye. The feeling, however, quickly passed away,
and his whole figure and countenance resumed the ordinary easy mien in
which he most indulged in his hours of retirement.
After allowing sufficient time for the boy to conduct Wilder to the
necessary cabin, and to put him in possession of the regulations for the
police of the ship, the Captain again touched the gong, and once more
summoned the former to his presence. The lad had however, to approach the
elbow of his master, and to speak thrice, before the other was conscious
that he had answered his call.
"Roderick," said the Rover, after a long pause, "are you there?"
"I am here," returned a low, and seemingly a mournful voice.
"Ah! you gave him the regulations?"
"And he reads?"
"It is well. I would speak to the General. Roderick, you must have need of
rest; good night; let the General be summoned to a council, and--Good
The boy made an assenting reply; but, instead of springing, with his
former alacrity, to execute the order he lingered a moment nigh his
master's chair. Failing, however, in his wish to catch his eye, he slowly
and reluctantly descended the stairs which led into the lower cabins, and
was seen no more.
It is needless to describe the manner in which the General made his second
appearance. It differed in no particular from his former entree, except
that, on this occasion, the whole of his person was developed. He appeared
a tall, upright form, that was far from being destitute of natural grace
and proportions, but which had been so exquisitely drilled into
simultaneous movement, that the several members had so far lost the power
of volition, as to render it impossible for one to stir, without producing
some thing like a correspondent demonstration in all its fellows. This
rigid and well-regulated personage, after making a formal military bow to
his superior, helped himself to a chair, in which, after some little time
lost in preparation, he seated himself in silence. The Rover seemed
conscious of his presence; for he acknowledged his salute by a gentle
inclination of his own head; though he did not appear to think it
necessary to suspend his ruminations the more on that account. At length,
however, he turned short upon his companion, and said abruptly,--
"General, the campaign is not finished."
"What remains? the field is won, and the enemy is a prisoner."
"Ay, your part of the adventure is well achieved, but much of mine remains
to be done. You saw the youth in the lower cabin?"
"And how find you his appearance?"
"That is as much as to say, you like him not."
"I like discipline."
"I am much mistaken if you do not find him to your taste on the
quarter-deck. Let that be as it may, I have still a favour to ask of you!"
"A favour!--it is getting late."
"Did I say 'a favour?' there is duty to be yet done."
"I wait your orders."
"It is necessary that we use great precaution for, as you know"----
"I wait your orders," laconically repeated the other.
The Rover compressed his mouth, and a scornful smile struggled about the
nether lip; but it changed into a look half bland, half authoritative, as
"You will find two seamen, in a skiff, alongside the ship; the one is
white, and the other is black. These men you will have conducted into the
vessel--into one of the forward state-rooms--and you will have them both
"It shall be done," returned he who was called the General, rising, and
marching with long strides towards the door of the cabin.
"Pause a moment," exclaimed the Rover; "what agent will you use?"
"Nightingale has the strongest head but one in the ship."
"He is too far gone already. I sent him ashore, to look about for any
straggling seamen who might like our service; and I found him in a tavern,
with all the fastenings off his tongue, declaiming like a lawyer who had
taken a fee from both parties Besides, he had a quarrel with one of these
very men, and it is probable they would get to blows in their cups."
"I will do it myself. My night-cap is waiting for me; and it is only to
lace it a little tighter than common."
The Rover seemed content with this assurance; for he expressed his
satisfaction with a familiar nod of the head. The soldier was now about to
depart, when he was again interrupted.
"One thing more, General; there is your captive."--
"Shall I make him drunk too?"
"By no means. Let him be conducted hither."
The General made an ejaculation of assent, and left the cabin. "It were
weak," thought the Rover as he resumed his walk up and down the apartment,
"to trust too much to an ingenuous face and youthful enthusiasm. I am
deceived if the boy has not had reason to think himself disgusted with the
world, and ready to embark in any romantic enterprise but, still, to be
deceived might be fatal therefore will I be prudent, even to excess of
caution. He is tied in an extraordinary manner to these two seamen I would
I knew his history. But all that will come in proper time. The men must
remain as hostages for his own return, and for his faith. If he prove
false, why, they are seamen;--and many men are expended in this wild
service of ours! It is well arranged; and no suspicion of any plot on our
part will wound the sensitive pride of the boy, if he be, as I would
gladly think, a true man."
Such was, in a great manner, the train of thought in which the Rover
indulged, for many minutes, after his military companion had left him. His
lips moved; smiles, and dark shades of thought, in turn, chased each other
from his speaking countenance, which betrayed all the sudden and violent
changes that denote the workings of a busy spirit within. While thus
engrossed in mind, his step became more rapid, and, at times, he
gesticulated a little extravagantly when he found himself, in a sudden
turn, unexpectedly confronted by a form that seemed to rise on his sight
like a vision.
While most engaged in his own humours, two powerful seamen had, unheeded,
entered the cabin; and, after silently depositing a human figure in a
seat, they withdrew without speaking. It was before this personage that
the Rover now found himself. The gaze was mutual, long, and uninterrupted
by a syllable from either party. Surprise and indecision held the Rover
mute, while wonder and alarm appeared to have literally frozen the
faculties of the other. At length the former, suffering a quaint and
peculiar smile to gleam for a moment across his countenance, said
"I welcome sir Hector Homespun!"
The eyes of the confounded tailor--for it was no other than that garrulous
acquaintance of the reader who had fallen into the toils of the Rover--the
eyes of the good-man rolled from right to left, embracing, in their
wanderings, the medley of elegance and warlike preparation that they every
where met never failing to return, from each greedy look, to devour the
figure that stood before him.
"I say, Welcome, sir Hector Homespun!" repeated the Rover.
"The Lord will be lenient to the sins of a miserable father of seven small
children!" ejaculated the tailor. "It is but little, valiant Pirate, that
can be gotten from a hard-working, upright tradesman, who sits from the
rising to the setting sun, bent over his labour."
"These are debasing terms for chivalry, sir Hector," interrupted the
Rover, laying his hand on the little riding whip, which had been thrown
carelessly on the cabin table, and, tapping the shoulder of the tailor
with the same, as though he were a sorcerer, and would disenchant the
other with the touch: "Cheer up, honest and loyal subject: Fortune has at
length ceased to frown: it is but a few hours since you complained that no
custom came to your shop from this vessel, and now are you in a fair way
to do the business of the whole ship."
"Ah! honourable and magnanimous Rover," rejoined Homespun, whose fluency
returned with his senses, "I am an impoverished and undone man. My life
has been one of weary and probationary hardships. Five bloody and cruel
"Enough. I have said that Fortune was just beginning to smile. Clothes are
as necessary to gentlemen of our profession as to the parish priest. You
shall not baste a seam without your reward. Behold!" he added, touching
the spring of a secret drawer, which flew open, and discovered a confused
pile of gold, in which the coins of nearly every Christian people were
blended, "we are not without the means of paying those who serve us
The sudden exhibition of a horde of wealth, which not only greatly
exceeded any thing of the kind he had ever before witnessed, but which
actually surpassed his limited imaginative powers, was not without its
effect on the sensitive feelings of the good-man After feasting on the
sight, for the few moments that his companion left the treasure exposed to
view, he turned to the envied possessor of so much gold, and
demanded,--the tones of increased confidence gradually stealing into his
voice, as the inward man felt additional motives of encouragement,--
"And what am I expected to perform, mighty Seaman, for my portion of this
"That which you daily perform on the land--to cut, to fashion, and to sew.
Perhaps, too, your talent at a masquerade dress may be taxed, from time to
"Ah! they are lawless and irreligious devices of the enemy, to lead men
into sin and worldly abominations But, worthy Mariner, there is my
disconsolate consort, Desire; though stricken in years, and given to wordy
strife, yet is she the lawful partner of my bosom, and the mother of a
"She shall not want. This is an asylum for distressed husbands. Your men,
who have not force enough to command at home, come to my ship as to a city
of refuge. You will make the seventh who has found peace by fleeing to
this sanctuary. Their families are supported by ways best known to
ourselves, and all parties are content. This is not the least of my
"It is praiseworthy and just, honourable Captain and I hope that Desire
and her offspring may not be forgotten. The labourer is surely worthy of
his hire and if, peradventure, I should toil in your behalf through
stress of compulsion, I hope the good and her young, may fatten on your
"You have my word; they shall not be neglected."
"Perhaps, just Gentleman, if an allotment should be made in advance from
that stock of gold, the mind of my consort would be relieved, her
inquiries after my fate not so searching, and her spirit less troubled. I
have reason to understand the temper of Desire; and am well identified,
that, while the prospect of want is before her eyes, there will be a
clamour in Newport. Now that the Lord has graciously given me the hopes of
a respite, there can be no sin in wishing to enjoy it in peace."
Although the Rover was far from believing, with his captive, that the
tongue of Desire could disturb the harmony of his ship, he was in the
humour to be indulgent. Touching the spring again, he took a handful of
the gold, and, extending it towards Homespun demanded,--
"Will you take the bounty, and the oath? The money will then be your own."
"The Lord defend us from the evil one, and deliver us all from
temptation!" ejaculated the tailor: "Heroic Rover, I have a dread of the
law. Should any evil overcome you, in the shape of a King's cruiser, or a
tempest cast you on the land, there might be danger in being contaminated
too closely with your crew. Any little services which I may render, on
compulsion, will be overlooked, I humbly hope and I trust to your
magnanimity, honest and honourable Commander, that the same will not be
forgotten in the division of your upright earnings."
"This is but the spirit of cabbaging, a little distorted muttered the
Rover, as he turned lightly on his heel, and tapped the gong, with an
impatience that sent the startling sound through every cranny of the ship.
Four or five heads were thrust in at the different doors of the cabin,
and the voice of one was heard, desiring to know the wishes of their
"Take him to his hammock," was the quick, sudden order.
The good-man Homespun, who, from fright or policy, appeared to be utterly
unable to move, was quickly lifted from his seat, and conveyed to the door
which communicated with the quarter-deck.
"Pause," he exclaimed to his unceremonious bearers, as they were about to
transport him to the place designated by their Captain; "I have one word
yet to say. Honest and loyal Rebel, though I do not accept your service,
neither do I refuse it in an unseemly and irreverent manner. It is a sore
temptation, and I feel it at my fingers' ends. But a covenant may be made
between us, by which neither party shall be a loser, and in which the law
shall find no grounds of displeasure. I would wish, mighty Commodore, to
carry an honest name to my grave, and I would also wish to live out the
number of my days; for, after having passed with so much credit, and
unharmed, through five bloody and cruel wars"----
"Away with him!" was the stern and startling interruption.
Homespun vanished, as though magic had been employed in transporting him,
and the Rover was again left to himself. His meditations were not
interrupted, for a long time, by human footstep or voice. That breathing
stillness, which unbending and stern discipline can alone impart, pervaded
the ship. A landsman, seated in the cabin, might have fancied himself,
although surrounded by a crew of lawless and violent men, in the solitude
of a deserted church, so suppressed, and deadened, were even those sounds
that were absolutely necessary. There were heard at times, it is true, the
high and harsh notes of some reveller who appeared to break forth in the
strains of a sea song, which, as they issued from the depths of the
vessel, and were not very musical in themselves, broke on the silence like
the first discordant strains of a new practitioner on a bugle. But even
these interruptions gradually grew less frequent, and finally became
inaudible. At length the Rover heard a hand fumbling about the handle of
the cabin door, and then his military friend once more made his
There was that in the step, the countenance, and the whole air of the
General, which proclaimed that his recent service, if successful, had not
been achieved entirely without personal hazard. The Rover, who had started
from his seat the moment he saw who had entered, instantly demanded his
"The white is so drunk, that he cannot lie down without holding on to the
mast; but the negro is either a cheat, or his head is made of flint."
"I hope you have not too easily abandoned the design."
"I would as soon batter a mountain! my retreat was not made a minute too
The Rover fastened his eyes on the General, for a moment, in order to
assure himself of the precise condition of his subaltern, ere he
"It is well. We will now retire for the night."
The other carefully dressed his tall person, and brought his face in the
direction of the little hatchway so often named. Then, by a sort of
desperate effort, he essayed to march to the spot, with his customary
upright mien and military step. As one or two erratic movements, and
crossings of the legs, were not commented on by his Captain, the worthy
martinet descended the stairs, as he believed, with sufficient dignity;
the moral man not being in the precise state which is the best adapted to
discover any little blunders that might be made by his physical coadjutor.
The Rover looked at his watch; and after allowing sufficient time for the
deliberate retreat of the General, he stepped lightly on the stairs, and
The lower apartments of the vessel, though less striking in their
equipments than the upper cabin were arranged with great attention to
neatness and comfort. A few offices for the servants occupied the extreme
after-part of the ship, communicating by doors with the dining apartment
of the secondary officers; or, as it was called in technical language, the
"ward-room." On either side of this, again, were the state-rooms, an
imposing name, by which the dormitories of those who are entitled to the
honours of the quarter-deck are ever called. Forward of the ward-room,
came the apartments of the minor officers; and, immediately in front of
them, the corps of the individual who was called the General was lodged,
forming, by their discipline, a barrier between the more lawless seamen
and their superiors.
There was little departure, in this disposition of the accommodations,
from the ordinary arrangements of vessels of war of the same description
and force as the "Rover;" but Wilder had not failed to remark that the
bulkheads which separated the cabins from the birth-deck, or the part
occupied by the crew, were far stouter than common, and that a small
howitzer was at hand, to be used, as a physician might say, internally,
should occasion require. The doors were of extraordinary strength, and the
means of barricadoing them resembled more a preparation for battle, than
the usual securities against petty encroachments on private property.
Muskets, blunderbusses, pistols, sabres, half-pikes, &c., were fixed to
the beams and carlings, or were made to serve as ornaments against the
different bulkheads, in a profusion that plainly told they were there as
much for use as for show. In short, to the eye of a seaman, the whole
betrayed a state of things, in which the superiors felt that their whole
security, against the violence and insubordination of their inferiors,
depended on their influence and their ability to resist, united; and that
the former had not deemed it prudent to neglect any of the precautions
which might aid their comparatively less powerful physical force.
In the principal of the lower apartments, or the ward-room, the Rover
found his newly enlisted lieutenant apparently busy in studying the
regulations of the service in which he had just embarked. Approaching the
corner in which the latter had seated himself, the former said, in a
frank, encouraging, and even confidential manner,----
"I hope you find our laws sufficiently firm, Mr Wilder."
"Want of firmness is not their fault; if the same quality can always be
observed in administering them, it is well," returned the other, rising to
salute his superior. "I have never found such rigid rules, even in"----
"Even in what, sir?" demanded the Rover, perceiving that his companion
"I was about to say, 'Even in his Majesty's service,'" returned Wilder,
slightly colouring. "I know not whether it may be a fault, or a
recommendation, to have served in a King's ship."
"It is the latter; at least I, for one, should think it so, since I
learned my trade in the same service."
"In what ship?" eagerly interrupted Wilder.
"In many," was the cold reply. "But, speaking of rigid rules, you will
soon perceive, that, in a service where there are no courts on shore to
protect us, nor any sister-cruisers to look after each other's welfare, no
small portion of power is necessarily vested in the Commander. You find my
authority a good deal extended."
"A little unlimited," said Wilder, with a smile that might have passed
"I hope you will have no occasion to say that it is arbitrarily executed,"
returned the Rover, without observing, or perhaps without letting it
appear that he observed, the expression of his companion's countenance.
"But your hour is come, and you are now at liberty to land."
The young man thanked him, with a courteous inclination of the head, and
expressed his readiness to go. As they ascended the ladder into the upper
cabin, the Captain expressed his regret that the hour, and the necessity
of preserving the incognito of his ship, would not permit him to send an
officer of his rank ashore in the manner he could wish.
"But then there is the skiff, in which you came off, still alongside, and
your own two stout fellows will soon twitch you to yon point. A propos of
those two men, are they included in our arrangements?"
"They have never quitted me since my childhood, and would not wish to do
"It is a singular tie that unites two men, so oddly constituted, to one so
different, by habits and education, from themselves," returned the Rover,
glancing his eye keenly at the other, and withdrawing it the instant he
perceived his interest in the answer was observed.
"It is," Wilder calmly replied; "but, as we are all seamen, the difference
is not so great as one would at first imagine. I will now join them, and
take an opportunity to let them, know that they are to serve in future
under your orders."
The Rover suffered him to leave the cabin, following to the quarter-deck,
with a careless step, as if he had come abroad to breathe the open air of
The weather had not changed, but it still continued dark, though mild.
The same stillness as before reigned on the decks of the ship; and
nowhere, with a solitary exception, was a human form to be seen, amid the
collection of dark objects that rose on the sight, all of which Wilder
well understood to be necessary fixtures in the vessel. The exception was
the same individual who had first received our adventurer, and who still
paced the quarter-deck, wrapped, as before, in a watch-coat. To this
personage the youth now addressed himself, announcing his intention
temporarily to quit the vessel. His communication was received with a
respect that satisfied him his new rank was already known, although, as it
would seem, it was to be made to succumb to the superior authority of the
"You know, sir, that no one, of whatever station, can leave the ship at
this hour, without an order from the Captain," was the calm, but steady
"So I presume; but I have the order, and transmit it to you. I shall land
in my own boat."
The other, seeing a figure within hearing, which he well knew to be that
of his Commander, waited an instant, to ascertain if what he heard was
true. Finding that no objection was made, nor any sign given, to the
contrary, he merely indicated the place where the other would find his
"The men have left it!" exclaimed Wilder, stepping back in surprise, as he
was about to descend the vessel's side.
"Have the rascals run?"
"Sir, they have not run; neither are they rascals They are in this ship,
and must be found."
The other waited, to witness the effect of these authoritative words, too,
on the individual, who still lingered in the shadow of a mast. As no
answer was, however, given from that quarter, he saw the necessity of
obedience. Intimating his intention to seek the men, he passed into the
forward parts of the vessel, leaving Wilder, as he thought, in the sole
possession of the quarter-deck. The latter was, however, soon undeceived.
The Rover, advancing carelessly to his side, made an allusion to the
condition of his vessel, in order to divert the thoughts of his new
lieutenant, who, by his hurried manner of pacing the deck, he saw, was
beginning to indulge in uneasy meditations.
"A charming sea-boat, Mr Wilder," he continued, "and one that never throws
a drop of spray abaft her mainmast. She is just the craft a seaman loves;
easy on her rigging, and lively in a sea. I call her the 'Dolphin,' from
the manner in which she cuts the water; and, perhaps, because she has as
many colours as that fish, you will say--Jack must have a name for his
ship, you know, and I dislike your cut-throat appellations, your
'Spit-fires' and 'Bloody-murders.'"
"You were fortunate in finding such a vessel. Was she built to your
"Few ships, under six hundred tons, sail from these colonies, that are not
built to serve my purposes," returned the Rover, with a smile; as if he
would cheer his companion, by displaying the mine of wealth that was
opening to him, through the new connexion he had made. "This vessel was
originally built for his Most Faithful Majesty; and, I believe, was either
intended as a present or a scourge to the Algerines; but--but she has
changed owners, as you see, and her fortune is a little altered; though
how, or why, is a trifle with which we will not, just now divert
ourselves. I have had her in port; she has undergone some improvements,
and is now altogether suited to a running trade."
"You then venture, sometimes, inside the forts?"
"When you have leisure, my private journal may afford some interest," the
other evasively replied. "I hope, Mr Wilder, you find this vessel in such
a state that a seaman need not blush for her?"
"Her beauty and neatness first caught my eye, and induced me to make
closer inquiries into her character."
"You were quick in seeing that she was kept at a single anchor!" returned
the other, laughing. "But I never risk any thing without a reason; not
even the loss of my ground tackle. It would be no great achievement, for
so warm a battery as this I carry, to silence yonder apology for a fort;
but, in doing it, we might receive an unfortunate hit, and therefore do I
keep ready for an instant departure."
"It must be a little awkward, to fight in a war where one cannot lower his
flag in any emergency!" said Wilder; more like one who mused, than one who
intended to express the opinion aloud.
"The bottom is always beneath us," was the laconic answer. "But to you I
may say, that I am, on principle, tender on my spars. They are examined
daily, like the heels of a racer; for it often happens that our valour
must be well-tempered by discretion."
"And how, and where, do you refit, when damaged in a gale, or in a fight?"
"Hum! We contrive to refit, sir, and to take the sea in tolerable
He stopped; and Wilder, perceiving that he was not yet deemed entitled to
entire confidence, continued silent. In this pause, the officer returned,
followed by the black alone. A few words served to explain the condition
of Fid. It was very apparent that the young man was not only disappointed,
but that he was deeply mortified. The frank and ingenuous air, however,
with which he turned to the Rover, to apologize for the dereliction of his
follower, satisfied the latter that he was far from suspecting any
improper agency in bringing about his awkward condition.
"You know the character of seamen too well, sir," he said, "to impute this
oversight to my poor fellow as a heinous fault. A better sailor never lay
on a yard, or stretched a ratlin, than Dick Fid; but I must allow he has
the quality of good fellowship to excess."
"You are fortunate in having one man left you to pull the boat ashore,"
carelessly returned the other.
"I am more than equal to that little exertion myself nor do I like to
separate the men. With your permission, the black shall be birthed, too,
in the ship to-night."
"As you please. Empty hammocks are not scarce among us, since the last
Wilder then directed the negro to return to his messmate, and to watch
over him so long as he should be unable to look after himself. The black,
who was far from being as clear-headed as common, willingly complied. The
young man then took leave of his companions, and descended into the skiff.
As he pulled, with vigorous arms, away from the dark ship, his eyes were
cast upward, with a seaman's pleasure, on the-order and neatness of her
gear, and thence they fell on the frowning mass of the hull. A
light-built, compact form was seen standing on the heel of the bowsprit,
apparently watching his movements; and, notwithstanding the gloom of the
clouded star-light, he was enabled to detect, in the individual who took
so much apparent interest in his proceedings, the person of the Rover.
----------------"What is yon gentleman?"
Nurse. "The son and heir of old Tiberio."
Juliet. "What's he that follows there, that would not dance?"
Nurse. "Marry, I know not."
_Romeo and Juliet._
The sun was just heaving up, out of the field of waters in which the blue
islands of Massachusetts lie, when the inhabitants of Newport were seen
opening their doors and windows, and preparing for the different
employments of the day, with the freshness and alacrity of people who had
wisely adhered to the natural allotments of time in seeking their rests,
or in pursuing their pleasures. The morning salutations passed cheerfully
from one to another, as each undid the slight fastenings of his shop; and
many a kind inquiry was made, and returned, after the condition of a
daughter's fever, or the rheumatism of some aged grandam. As the landlord
of the "Foul Anchor" was so wary in protecting the character of his house
from any unjust imputations of unseemly revelling, so was he among the
foremost in opening his doors, to catch any transient customer, who might
feel the necessity of washing away the damps of the past night, in some
invigorating stomachic This cordial was very generally taken in the
British provinces, under the various names of "bitters," "juleps,"
"morning-drams," "fogmatics," &c., according as the situation of each
district appeared to require some particular preventive. The custom is
getting a little into disuse, it is true; but still it retains much of
that sacred character which it would seem is the concomitant of antiquity.
It is not a little extraordinary that this venerable and laudable
practice, of washing away the unwholesome impurities engendered in the
human system, at a time, when as it is entirely without any moral
protector, it is left exposed to the attacks of all the evils to which
flesh is heir, should subject the American to the witticisms of his
European brother. We are not among the least grateful to those foreign
philanthropists who take so deep an interest in our welfare as seldom to
let any republican foible pass, without applying to it, as it merits, the
caustic application of their purifying pens. We are, perhaps, the more
sensible of this generosity, because we have had so much occasion to
witness, that, so great is their zeal in behalf of our infant States,
(robust, and a little unmanageable perhaps, but still infant) they are
wont, in the warmth of their ardour, to reform Cis-atlantic sins, to
overlook not a few backslidings of their own. Numberless are the moral
missionaries that the mother country, for instance, has sent among us, on
these pious and benevolent errands. We can only regret that their efforts
have been crowned with so little success. It was our fortune to be
familiarly acquainted with one of these worthies, who never lost an
opportunity of declaiming, above all, against the infamy of the particular
practice to which we have just alluded. Indeed, so broad was the ground he
took, that he held it to be not only immoral, but, what was far worse,
ungenteel, to swallow any thing stronger than small beer, before the hour
allotted to dinner. After that important period, it was not only permitted
to assuage the previous mortifications of the flesh, but, so liberal did
he show himself in the orthodox indulgence, that he was regularly carried
to his bed at midnight, from which he as regularly issued, in the course
of the following morning, to discourse again on the thousand deformities
of premature drink. And here we would take occasion to say, that, as to
our own insignificant person, we eschew the abomination altogether; and
only regret that those of the two nations, who find pleasure in the
practice, could not come to some amicable understanding as to the precise
period, of the twenty-four hours, when it is permitted to such Christian
gentlemen as talk English to get drunk. That the negotiators who framed
the last treaty of amity should have overlooked this important moral
topic, is another evidence that both parties were so tired of an
unprofitable war as to patch up a peace in a hurry. It is not too late to
name a commission for this purpose; and, in order that the question may be
fairly treated on its merits, we presume to suggest to the Executive the
propriety of nominating, as our commissioner, some confirmed advocate of
the system of "juleps." It is believed our worthy and indulgent Mother can
have no difficulty in selecting a suitable opponent from the ranks of her
numerous and well-trained diplomatic corps.
With this manifestation of our personal liberality, united to so much
interest in the proper, and we hope final, disposition of this important
question, we may be permitted to resume the narrative, without being set
down as advocates for morning stimulants, or evening intoxication; which
is a very just division of the whole subject, as we believe, from no very
The landlord of the "Foul Anchor," then, was early a-foot, to gain an
honest penny from any of the supporters of the former system who might
chance to select his bar for their morning sacrifices to Bacchus, in
preference to that of his neighbour, he who endeavoured to entice the
lieges, by exhibiting a red-faced man, in a scarlet coat, that was called
the "Head of George the Second." It would seem that the commendable
activity of the alert publican was not to go without its reward. The tide
of custom set strongly, for the first half-hour, towards the haven of his
hospitable bar; nor did he appear entirely to abandon the hopes of a
further influx, even after the usual period of such arrivals began to
pass away. Finding, however, that his customers were beginning to depart,
on their several pursuits, he left his station, and appeared at the outer
door, with a hand in each pocket, as though he found a secret pleasure in
the merry jingling of their new tenants. A stranger, who had not entered
with the others, and who, of course, had not partaken of the customary
libations, was standing at a little distance, with a hand thrust into the
bosom of his vest, as if he were chiefly occupied with his own
reflections. This figure caught the understanding eye of the publican who
instantly conceived that no man, who had had recourse to the proper
morning stimulants, could wear so meditative a face at that early period
in the cares of the day, and that consequently something was yet to be
gained, by opening the path of direct communication between them.
"A clean air this, friend, to brush away the damps of the night," he said,
snuffing the really delicious and invigorating breathings of a fine
October morning. "It is such purifiers as this, that gives our island its
character, and makes it perhaps the very healthest as it is universally
admitted to be the beautifullest spot in creation.--A stranger here, 'tis
"But quite lately arrived, sir," was the reply.
"A sea-faring man, by your dress? and one in search of a ship, as I am
ready to qualify to;" continued the publican, chuckling, perhaps, at his
own penetration. "We have many such that passes hereaway; but people
mustn't think, because Newport is so flourishing a town, that births can
always be had for asking. Have you tried your luck yet in the Capital of
the Bay Province?"
"I left Boston no later than the day before yesterday."
"What, couldn't the proud townsfolk find you a ship! Ay, they are a mighty
people at talking, and it isn't often that they put their candle under
the bushel; and yet there are what I call good judges, who think
Narraganset Bay is in a fair way, shortly, to count as many sail as
Massachusetts. There, yonder, is a wholesome brig, that is going, within
the week, to turn her horses into rum and sugar; and here is a ship that
hauled into the stream no longer ago than yesterday sun-down. That is a
noble vessel and has cabins fit for a prince! She'll be off with the
change of the wind; and I dare say a good hand wouldn't go a-begging
aboard her just now. Then yonder is a slaver, off the fort, if you like a
cargo of wool-heads for your money."
"And is it thought the ship in the inner harbour will sail with the first
wind?" demanded the stranger.
"It is downright. My wife is a full cousin to the wife of the Collector's
clerk; and I have it straight that the papers are ready, and that nothing
but the wind detains them. I keep some short scores, you know, friend,
with the blue-jackets, and it behoves an honest man to look to his
interests in these hard times. Yes, there she lies; a well-known ship, the
'Royal Caroline.' She makes a regular v'yage once a year between the
Provinces and Bristol, touching here, out and home, to give us certain
supplies, and to wood and water; and then she goes home, or to the
Carolinas, as the case may be."
"Pray, sir, has she much of an armament?" continued the stranger, who
began to lose his thoughtful air, in the more evident interest he was
beginning to lake in the discourse.
"Yes, yes; she is not without a few bull-dogs, to bark in defence of her
own rights, and to say a word in support of his Majesty's honour, too; God
bless him! Judy! you Jude!" he shouted, at the top of his voice, to a
negro girl, who was gathering kindling-wood among the chips of a
ship-yard, "scamper over to neighbour Homespun's, and rattle away at his
bed-room windows: the man has overslept himself it is not common to hear
seven o'clock strike, and the thirsty tailor not appear for his bitters."
A short cessation took place in the dialogue, while the wench was
executing her master's orders. The summons produced no other effect than
to draw a shrill reply from Desire, whose voice penetrated, through the
thin board coverings of the little dwelling as readily as sound would be
conveyed through a sieve. In another moment a window was opened, and the
worthy housewife thrust her disturbed visage into the fresh air of the
"What next! what next!" demanded the offended and, as she was fain to
believe, neglected wife, under the impression that it was her truant
husband, making his tardy return to his domestic allegiance, who had thus
presumed to disturb her slumbers. "Is it not enough that you have eloped
from my bed and board, for a long night, but you must dare to break in on
the natural rest of a whole family, seven blessed children, without
counting their mother! O Hector! Hector! an example are you getting to be
to the young and giddy, and a warning will you yet prove to the
"Bring hither the black book," said the publican to his wife, who had been
drawn to a window by the lamentations of Desire; "I think the woman said
something about starting on a journey between two days; and, if such has
been the philosophy of the good-man, it behoves all honest people to look
into their accounts. Ay, as I live, Keziah, you have let the limping
beggar get seventeen and sixpence into arrears, and that for such trifles
as morning-drams and night-caps!"
"You are wrathy, friend, without reason; the man has made a garment for
the boy at school, and found the"--
"Hush, good woman," interrupted her husband returning the book, and
making a sign for her to retire; "I dare say it will all come round in
proper Time, and the less noise we make about the backslidings of a
neighbour, the less will be said of our own transgressions. A worthy and
hard-working mechanic, sir," he continued, addressing the stranger "but a
man who could never get the sun to shine in at his windows, though, Heaven
knows, the glass is none too thick for such a blessing."
"And do you imagine on evidence as slight as this we have seen, that such
a man has actually absconded?"
"Why, it is a calamity that has befallen his betters!" returned the
publican, interlocking his fingers across the rotundity of his person,
with an air of grave consideration. "We inn-keepers--who live, as it were,
in plain sight of every man's secrets; for it is after a visit to us that
one is apt truly to open his heart--should know something of the affairs
of a neighbourhood. If the good-man Homespun could smooth down the temper
of his companion as easily as he lays a seam into its place, the thing
might not occur, but----Do you drink this morning, sir?"
"A drop of your best."
"As I was saying," continued the other, while he furnished his customer,
according to his desire, "if a tailor's goose would take the wrinkles out
of the ruffled temper of a woman, as it does out of the cloth; and then,
if, after it had done this task, a man might eat it, as he would yonder
bird hanging behind my bar--Perhaps you will have occasion to make your
dinner with us, too, sir?"
"I cannot say I shall not," returned the stranger, paying for the dram he
had barely tasted; "it greatly depends on the result of my inquiries