Part 2 out of 9
that very account, and so fall into the notion you worship him, which
would be idolatry, the awfullest of all sins, and the one to which every
ra'al Christian gives the widest bairth. I would rather worship this
flask of wine any day, than worship the best saint on your
As Filippo was no casuist, but merely a believer, and Ithuel applied the
end of the flask to his mouth, at that moment, from an old habit of
drinking out of jugs and bottles, the Genoese made no answer; keeping
his eyes on the flask, which, by the length of time it remained at the
other's mouth, appeared to be in great danger of being exhausted; a
matter of some moment to one of his own relish for the liquor.
"Do you call _this_ wine!" exclaimed Ithuel, when he stopped literally
to take breath; "there isn't as much true granite in a gallon on't as in
a pint of our cider. I could swallow a butt, and then walk a plank as
narrow as your religion, Philip-o!"
This was said, nevertheless, with a look of happiness which proved how
much the inward man was consoled by what it had received, and a richness
of expression about the handsome mouth, that denoted a sort of
consciousness that it had been the channel of a most agreeable
communication to the stomach. Sooth to say, Benedetta had brought up a
flask at a paul, or at about four cents a bottle; a flask of the very
quality which she had put before the vice-governatore; and this was a
liquor that flowed so smoothly over the palate, and of a quality so
really delicate, that Ithuel was by no means aware of the potency of the
guest which he had admitted to his interior.
All this time the vice-governatore was making up his mind concerning the
nation and character of the stranger. That he should mistake Bolt for
an Englishman was natural enough, and the fact had an influence in again
unsettling his opinion as to the real flag under which the lugger
sailed, Like most Italians of that day, he regarded all the families of
the northern hordes as a species of barbarians--an opinion that the air
and deportment of Ithuel had no direct agency in changing; for, while
this singular being was not brawlingly rude and vulgar, like the coarser
set of his own countrymen, with whom he had occasionally been brought in
contact, he was so manifestly uncivilized in many material points, as to
put his claim to gentility much beyond a cavil, and that in a
"You are a Genoese?" said Andrea to Filippo, speaking with the authority
of one who had a right to question.
"Signore, I am, at your eccellenza's orders, though in foreign service
at this present moment."
"In what service, friend? I am in authority, here in Elba, and ask no
more than is my duty."
"Eccellenza, I can well believe this," answered Filippo, rising and
making a respectful salutation, and one, too, that was without any of
the awkwardness of the same act in a more northern man, "as it is to be
seen in your appearance. I am now in the service of the king
Filippo said this steadily, though his eyes dropped to the floor under
the searching scrutiny they endured. The answer of the vice-governatore
was delivered coolly, though it was much to the point.
"You are happy," he said, "in getting so honorable masters; more
especially as your own country has again fallen into the hands of the
French. Every Italian heart must yearn for a government that has its
existence and its motives on this side of the Alps."
"Signore, we are a republic to-day, and ever have been, you know."
"Aye--such as it is. But your companion speaks no Italian--he is an
"No, Signore--an Americano; a sort of an Inglese, and yet no Inglese,
after all. He loves England very little, if I can judge by his
"Un' Americano!" repeated Andrea Barrofaldi; "Americano!" exclaimed Vito
Viti; "Americano!" said each of the marines in succession, every eye
turning with lively curiosity toward the subject of the discourse, who
bore it all with appropriate steadiness and dignity. The reader is not
to be surprised that an American was then regarded with curiosity, in a
country like Italy; for, two years later, when an American ship of war
anchored suddenly before the town of Constantinople, and announced her
nation, the authorities of the Sublime Porte were ignorant that such a
country existed. It is true, Leghorn was beginning to be much frequented
by American ships, in the year 1799; but even with these evidences
before their eyes, the people of the very ports into which these traders
entered were accustomed to consider their crews a species of Englishmen,
who managed to sail the vessels for the negroes at home. In a word,
two centuries and a half of national existence, and more than half a
century of national independence, have not yet sufficed to teach all the
inhabitants of the old world, that the great modern Republic is peopled
by men of a European origin, and possessing white skins. Even of those
who are aware of the fact, the larger proportion, perhaps, have obtained
their information through works of a light character, similar to this of
our own, rather than by the more legitimate course of regular study and
a knowledge of history.
 As recently as 1828, the author of this book was at Leghorn. The
Delaware, so, had just left there; and speaking of her appearance to a
native of the place, who supposed the writer to be an Englishman, the
latter observed: "Of course, her people were all blacks." "I thought so,
too, signore, until I went on board the ship," was the answer; "but they
are as white as you and I are."
"Si" repeated Ithuel, with emphasis, as soon as he heard his nationality
thus alluded to, and found all eyes on himself--"Si, oon Americano--I'm
not ashamed of my country; and if you're any way partic'lar in such
matters, I come from New Hampshire--or, what we call the Granite state.
Tell 'em this, Philip-o, and let me know their idees, in answer."
Filippo translated this speech as well as he could, as he did the reply;
and it may as well be stated here, once for all, that in the dialogue
which succeeded, the instrumentality of this interpreter was necessary
that the parties might understand each other. The reader will,
therefore, give Filippo credit for this arrangement, although we shall
furnish the different speeches very much as if the parties fully
comprehended what was said.
"_Uno stato di granito_!" repeated the vice-governatore, looking at the
podesta with some doubt in the expression of his countenance--"it must
be a painful existence which these poor people endure, to toil for their
food in such a region. Ask him, good Filippo, if they have any wine in
his part of the world."
"Wine!" echoed Ithuel; "tell the Signore that we shouldn't call this
stuff wine at all. Nothing goes down our throats that doesn't rasp like
a file, and burn like a chip of Vesuvius. I wish, now, we had a drink of
New England rum here, in order to show him the difference. I despise the
man who thinks all his own things the best, just because they're his'n;
but taste _is_ taste, a'ter all, and there's no denying it."
"Perhaps the Signor Americano can give us an insight into the religion
of his country--or are the Americani pagans? I do not remember, Vito, to
have read anything of the religion of that quarter of the world."
"Religion too!--well, a question like this, now, would make a stir among
our folks in New Hampshire! Look here, Signore; we don't call your
ceremonies, and images, and robes, and ringing of bells, and bowing and
scraping, a religion at all; any more than we should call this smooth
Ithuel was more under the influence of this "smooth liquor" than he was
aware of, or he would not have been so loud in the expression of his
dissent; as experience had taught him the necessity of reserve on such
subjects, in most Catholic communities. But of all this the Signor
Barrofaldi was ignorant, and he made his answer with the severity of a
good Catholic, though it was with the temper of a gentleman.
"What the Americano calls our ceremonies, and images, and ringing of
bells, are probably not understood by him," he said; "since a country as
little civilized as his own cannot very well comprehend the mysteries of
a profound and ancient religion."
"Civilized! I calculate that it would _stump_ this part of the world to
produce such a civilization as our very youngest children are brought up
on. But it's of no use _talking_, and so we will _drink_."
Andrea perceiving, indeed, that there was not much use in _talking_,
more especially as Filippo had been a good deal mystified by the word
"_stump_," was now disposed to abandon the idea of a dissertation on
"religion, manners, and laws," to come at once to the matter that
brought him into the present company.
"This Americano is also a servant of the English king, it would seem,"
he carelessly remarked; "I remember to have heard that there was a war
between his country and that of the Inglesi, in which the French
assisted the Americani to obtain a sort of national independence. What
that independence is, I do not know; but it is probable that the people
of the New World are still obliged to find mariners to serve in the navy
of their former masters."
Ithuel's muscles twitched, and an expression of intense bitterness
darkened his countenance. Then he smiled in a sort of derision, and gave
vent to his feelings in words.
"Perhaps you're right, Signore; perhaps this is the ra'al truth of the
matter; for the British _do_ take our people just the same as if they
had the best right in the world to 'em. After all, we _may_ be serving
our masters; and all we say and think at home about independence is just
a flash in the pan! Notwithstanding, some on us contrive, by hook or by
crook, to take our revenge when occasion offers; and if I don't sarve
master John Bull an ill turn, whenever luck throws a chance in my way,
may I never see a bit of the old State again--granite or rotten wood."
This speech was not very closely translated, but enough was said to
awaken curiosity in the vice-governatore, who thought it odd one who
served among the English should entertain such feelings toward them. As
for Ithuel himself, he had not observed his usual caution; but, unknown
to himself, the oily wine had more "granite" in it than he imagined, and
then he seldom spoke of the abuse of impressment without losing more or
less of his ordinary self-command.
"Ask the Americano when he first entered into the service of the king of
Inghilterra," said Andrea, "and why he stays in it, if it is unpleasant
to him, when so many opportunities of quitting it offer?"
"I never entered," returned Ithuel, taking the word in its technical
meaning; "they pressed me, as if I had been a dog they wanted to turn a
spit, and kept me seven long years fighting their accursed battles, and
otherwise sarving their eends. I was over here, last year, at the mouth
of the Nile, and in that pretty bit of work--and off Cape St. Vincent,
too--and in a dozen more of their battles, and sorely against my will,
on every account. This was hard to be borne, but the hardest of it has
not yet been said; nor do I know that I shall tell on't at all."
"Anything the Americano may think proper to relate will be listened to
Ithuel was a good deal undecided whether to go on or not; but taking a
fresh pull at the flask, it warmed his feelings to the sticking point.
"Why, it was adding insult to injury. It's bad enough to injure a man,
but when it comes to insulting him into the bargain, there must be but
little grit in his natur' if it don't strike fire."
"And yet few are wronged who are not calumniated," observed the
philosophical vice-governatore. "This is only too much the case with our
Italy, worthy neighbor Vito Viti."
"I calculate the English treat all mankind alike, whether it's in Italy
or Ameriky," for so Ithuel would pronounce this word, notwithstanding he
had now been cruising in and near the Mediterranean several years; "but
what I found hardest to be borne was their running their rigs on me
about my language and ways, which they were all the time laughing at as
Yankee conversation and usages, while they pretended that the body out
of which all on it come was an English body, and so they set it up to be
shot at, by any of their inimies that might happen to be jogging along
our road. Then, squire, it is generally consaited among us in Ameriky,
that we speak much the best English a-going; and sure am I, that none on
us call a 'hog' an ''og,' an 'anchor' a 'hanchor,' or a 'horse' an
''orse.' What is thought of that matter in this part of the world,
"We are not critics in your language, but it is reasonable to suppose
that the English speak their own tongue better than any other people.
That much must be conceded to them, at least, Signor Bolto."
"I shall acknowledge no such advantage as belonging to them. I have not
been to school for nothing; not I. The English call c-l-e-r-k, clark;
and c-u-c-u-m-b-e-r, cowcumber; and a-n-g-e-l, aingel; and no reasoning
can convince me that's right. I've got a string of words of this sort,
that they pronounce out of all reason, that's as long as a pair of
leading-lines, or a ship's tiller-rope. You must know, Signor Squire, I
kept school in the early part of my life."
"_Non e possible_!" exclaimed the vice-governatore, astonishment
actually getting the better of his habitual good breeding; "you must
mean, Signor Americano, that you gave lessons in the art of rigging and
"You never was more mistaken, Signore. I taught on the general system,
all sorts of things in the edication way; and had one of my scholars
made such a blunder as to say 'clark,' or 'aingel,' or 'harth,' or
'cowcumber,' he wouldn't have heard the last of it, for that week, at
least. But I despise an Englishman from the very bottom of my soul; for
heart isn't deep enough for my feelings."
Absurd as Ithuel's critical dissertations must appear to all who have
any familiarity with real English, they were not greatly below many
criticisms on the same subject that often illustrate the ephemeral
literature of the country; and, in his last speech, he had made a
provincial use of the word "despise," that is getting to be so common as
almost to supplant the true signification. By "despising," Ithuel meant
that he "hated"; the passion, perhaps, of all others, the most removed
from the feeling described by the word he had used, inasmuch as it is
not easy to elevate those for whom we have a contempt, to the level
necessary to be hated.
"Notwithstanding, the Inglese are not a despicable people," answered
Andrea, who was obliged to take the stranger literally, since he knew
nothing of his provincial use of terms; "for a nation of the north, they
have done marvellous things of late years, especially on the ocean."
This was more than Ithuel could bear. All his personal wrongs, and sooth
to say they had been of a most grievous nature, arose before his mind,
incited and inflamed by national dislike; and he broke out into such an
incoherent tirade of abuse, as completely set all Filippo's knowledge of
English at fault, rendering a translation impossible. By this time,
Ithuel had swallowed so much of the wine, a liquor which had far more
body than he supposed, that he was ripe for mischief, and it was only
his extreme violence that prevented him from betraying more than, just
at the moment, would have been prudent. The vice-governatore listened
with attention, in the hope of catching something useful; but it all
came to his ears a confused mass of incoherent vituperation, from which
he could extract nothing. The scene, consequently, soon became
unpleasant, and Andrea Barrofaldi took measures to put an end to it.
Watching a favorable occasion to speak, he put in a word, as the excited
Bolt paused an instant to take breath.
"Signore," observed the vice-governatore, "all this may be very true;
but as coming from one who serves the Inglese, to one who is the servant
of their ally, the Grand Duke of Tuscany, it is quite as extraordinary
as it is uncalled for; and we will talk of other things. This lugger, on
board which you sail, is out of all question English, notwithstanding
what you tell us of the nation."
"Aye, _she_ is English," answered Ithuel, with a grim smile, "and a
pretty boat she is. But then it is no fault of hers, and what can't be
cured must be endured. A Guernsey craft, and a desperate goer, when she
wakes up and puts on her travelling boots."
"These mariners have a language of their own," remarked, Andrea to Vito
Viti, smiling as in consideration of Ithuel's nautical habits; "to you
and me, the idea of a vessel's using boots, neighbor, seems ridiculous;
but the seamen, in their imaginations, bestow all sorts of objects on
them. It is curious to hear them converse, good Vito; and now I am
dwelling here on our island, I have often thought of collecting a number
of their images, in order to aid in illustrating the sort of literature
that belongs to their calling. This idea of a lugger's putting on her
boots is quite heroic."
Now Vito Viti, though an Italian with so musical a name, was no poet,
but a man so very literal, withal, as to render him exceedingly matter
of fact in most of his notions. Accordingly, he saw no particular
beauty in the idea of a vessel's wearing boots; and, though much
accustomed to defer to the vice-governatore's superior knowledge and
more extensive reading, he had the courage, on this occasion, to put in
an objection to the probability of the circumstance mentioned.
"Signor Vice-governatore," he replied, "all is not gold that glitters.
Fine words sometimes cover poor thoughts, and, I take it, this is an
instance of what I mean. Long as I have lived in Porto Ferrajo, and that
is now quite fifty years, seeing that I was born here, and have been off
the island but four times in my life--and long, therefore, as I have
lived here, I never saw a vessel in the harbor that wore boots, or
"This is metaphorical, good Vito, and must be looked at in a poetical
point of view. Homer speaks of goddesses holding shields before their
favorite warriors; while Ariosto makes rats and asses hold discourse
together, as if they were members of an academy. All this is merely the
effect of imagination, Signore; and he who has the most is the aptest at
inventing circumstances, which, though not strictly true, are vastly
"As for Homer and Ariosto, Signor Vice-governatore, I doubt if either
ever saw a vessel with a boot on, or if either ever knew as much about
craft in general as we who live here in Porto Ferrajo. Harkee, friend
Filippo, just ask this Americano if, in his country, he ever saw vessels
wear boots. Put the question plainly, and without any of your
Filippo did as desired, leaving Ithuel to put his own construction on
the object of the inquiry; all that had just passed being sealed to him,
in consequence of its having been uttered in good Tuscan.
"Boots!" repeated the native of the Granite state, looking round him
drolly; "perhaps not exactly the foot-part, and the soles, for they
ought, in reason, to be under water; but every vessel that isn't
coppered shows her boot-_top_--of _them_, I'll swear I've seen ten
thousand, more or less."
This answer mystified the vice-governatore, and completely puzzled Vito
Viti. The grave mariners at the other table, too, thought it odd, for in
no other tongue is the language of the sea as poetical, or figurative,
as in the English; and the term of _boot-top,_ as applied to a vessel,
was Greek to them, as well as to the other listeners. They conversed
among themselves on the subject, while their two superiors were holding
a secret conference on the other side of the room, giving the American
time to rally his recollection, and remember the precise circumstances
in which not only he himself, but all his shipmates, were placed. No one
could be more wily and ingenious than this man, when on his guard,
though the inextinguishable hatred with which he regarded England and
Englishmen had come so near causing him to betray a secret which it was
extremely important, at that moment, to conceal. At length a general
silence prevailed, the different groups of speakers ceasing to converse,
and all looking towards the vice-governatore, as if in expectation that
he was about to suggest something that might give a turn to the
discourse. Nor was this a mistake, for, after inquiring of Benedetta if
she had a private room, he invited Ithuel and the interpreter to follow
him into it, leading the way, attended by the podesta. As soon as these
four were thus separated from the others, the door was closed, and the
two Tuscans came at once to the point.
"Signor Americano," commenced the vice-governatore, "between those who
understand each other, there is little need of many words. This is a
language which is comprehended all over the world, and I put it before
you in the plainest manner, that we may have no mistake."
"It is tolerable plain, sartain!" exclaimed
Ithuel--"two--four--six--eight--ten--all good-looking gold pieces, that
in this part of the world you call _zecchini_--or sequins, as we name
'em, in English. What have I done, Signor Squire, or what am I to do
for these twenty dollars? Name your tarms; this working in the dark is
ag'in the grain of my natur'!"
"You are to tell the _truth_; we suspect the lugger of being French; and
by putting the proof in our hands, you will make us your friends, and
Andrea Barrofaldi knew little of America and Americans, but he had
imbibed the common European notion that money was the great deity
worshipped in this hemisphere, and that all he had to do was to offer a
bribe, in order to purchase a man of Ithuel's deportment and appearance.
In his own island ten sequins would buy almost any mariner of the port
to do any act short of positive legal criminality; and the idea that a
barbarian of the west would refuse such a sum, in preference to selling
his shipmates, never crossed his mind. Little, however, did the Italian
understand the American. A greater knave than Ithuel, in his own way, it
was not easy to find; but it shocked all his notions of personal
dignity, self-respect, and republican virtue, to be thus unequivocally
offered a bribe; and had the lugger not been so awkwardly circumstanced,
he would have been apt to bring matters to a crisis at once by throwing
the gold into the vice-governatore's face; although, knowing where it
was to be found, he might have set about devising some means of cheating
the owner out of it at the very next instant. Boon or bribe, directly or
unequivocally offered in the shape of money, as coming from the superior
to the inferior, or from the corrupter to the corrupted, had he never
taken, and it would have appeared in his eyes a species of degradation
to receive the first, and of treason to his nationality to accept the
last; though he would lie, invent, manage, and contrive, from morning
till night, in order to transfer even copper from the pocket of his
neighbor to his own, under the forms of opinion and usage. In a word,
Ithuel, as relates to such things, is what is commonly called
law-honest, with certain broad salvoes, In favor of smuggling of all
sorts, in foreign countries (at home he never dreamed of such a thing),
custom-house oaths, and legal trickery; and this is just the class of
men apt to declaim the loudest against the roguery of the rest of
mankind. Had there been a law giving half to the informer, he might not
have hesitated to betray the lugger, and all she contained, more
especially in the way of regular business; but he had long before
determined that every Italian was a treacherous rogue, and not at all to
be trusted like an American rogue; and then his indomitable dislike of
England would have kept him true in a case of much less complicated risk
than this. Commanding himself, however, and regarding the sequins with
natural longing, he answered with a simplicity of manner that both
surprised and imposed on the vice-governatore.
"No--no--Signor Squire," he said; "in the first place, I've no secret to
tell; and it would be a trickish thing to touch your money and not give
you its worth in return; and then the lugger is Guernsey built, and
carries a good King George's commission. In my part of the world we
never take gold unless we sell something of equal valie. Gifts and
begging we look upon as mean and unbecoming, and the next thing to going
on to the town as a pauper; though if I can sarve you lawfully, like,
I'm just as willing to work for _your_ money as for that of any other
man. I've no preference for king's in that partic'lar."
All this time Ithuel held out the sequins, with a show of returning
them, though in a very reluctant manner, leaving Andrea, who
comprehended his actions much better than his words, to understand that
he declined selling his secret.
"You can keep the money, friend," observed the vice-governatore, "for
when we give, in Italy, it is not our practice to take the gift back
again. In the morning, perhaps, you will remember something that it may
be useful for me to know."
"I've no occasion for gifts, nor is it exactly accordin' to the Granite
rule to accept 'em," answered Ithuel, a little sharply. "Handsome
conduct is handsome conduct; and I call the fellow-creetur' that would
oppress and overcome another with a gift, little better than an English
aristocrat. Hand out the dollars in the way of trade, in as large
amounts as you will, and I will find the man, and that, too, in the
lugger, who will see you out in't to your heart's content. Harkee,
Philip-o; tell the gentleman, in an undertone, like, about the three
kegs of tobacco we got out of the Virginy ship the day we made the north
end of Corsica, and perhaps that will satisfy him we are not his
enemies. There is no use in bawling it out so that the woman can hear
what you say, or the men who are drinking in the other room."
"Signor Ithuello," answered the Genoese, in English, "it will not do to
let these gentlemen know anything of them kegs--one being the
deputy-governor and the other a magistrate. The lugger will be seized
for a smuggler, which will be the next thing to being seized for
"Yet I've a longing for them 'ere sequins, to tell you the truth,
Philip-o! I see no other means of getting at 'em, except it be through
them three kegs of tobacco."
"Why you don't take 'em, when the Signore put 'em into your very hand?
All you do is put him in your pocket, and say, 'Eccellenza, what you
please to wish?'"
"That isn't Granite, man, but more in the natur' of you Italians. The
most disgraceful thing on 'airth is a paupe"--so Ithuel pronounced
"pauper"--"the next is a street-beggar; after him comes your chaps who
takes sixpences and shillin's, in the way of small gifts; and last of
all an Englishman. All these I despise; but let this Signore say but the
word, in the way of trade, and he'll find me as ready and expairt as he
can wish. I'd defy the devil in a trade!"
Filippo shook his head, positively declining to do so foolish a thing as
to mention a contraband article to those whose duty it would be to
punish a violation of the revenue laws. In the meanwhile the sequins
remained in the hands of Andrea Barrofaldi, who seemed greatly at a
loss to understand the character of the strange being whom chance had
thus thrown in his way. The money was returned to his purse, but his
distrust and doubts were by no means removed.
"Answer me one thing, Signor Bolto," asked the vice-governatore, after a
minute of thought; "if you hate the English so much, why do you serve in
their ships? why not quit them on the first good occasion? The land is
as wide as the sea, and you must be often on it."
"I calculate, Signor Squire, you don't often study charts, or you
wouldn't fall into such a consait. There's twice as much water as solid
ground on this 'airth, to begin with; as in reason there ought to be,
seeing that an acre of good productive land is worth five or six of
oceans; and then you have little knowledge of my character and prospects
to ask such a question. I sarve the king of England to make him pay well
for it. If you want to take an advantage of a man, first get him in
debt; then you can work your will on him in the most profitable and
All this was unintelligible to the vice-governatore, who, after a few
more questions and answers, took a civil leave of the strangers,
intimating to Benedetta that they were not to follow him back into the
room he had just quitted.
As for Ithuel, the disappearance of the two gentlemen gave him no
concern; but as he felt that it might be unsafe to drink any more wine,
he threw down his reckoning, and strolled into the street, followed by
his companion. Within an hour from that moment, the three kegs of
tobacco were in the possession of a shopkeeper of the place, that brief
interval sufficing to enable the man to make his bargain, and to deliver
the articles, which was his real object on shore. This little smuggling
transaction was carried on altogether without the knowledge of Raoul
Yvard, who was to all intents and purposes the captain of his own
lugger, and in whose character there were many traits of chivalrous
honor, mixed up with habits and pursuits that would not seem to promise
qualities so elevated. But this want of a propensity to turn a penny in
his own way was not the only distinguishing characteristic between the
commander of the little craft and the being he occasionally used as a
mask to his true purposes.
"The great contention of the sea and skies
Parted our fellowship;--But, hark! a sail!"
Whatever may have been the result of the vice-governatore's further
inquiries and speculations that night, they were not known. After
consuming an hour in the lower part of the town, in and around the port,
he and the podesta sought their homes and their pillows, leaving the
lugger riding quietly at her anchor in the spot where she was last
presented to the reader's attention. If Raoul Yvard and Ghita had
another interview, too, it was so secretly managed as to escape all
observation, and can form no part of this narrative.
A Mediterranean morning, at midsummer, is one of those balmy and
soothing periods of the day that affect the mind as well as the body.
Everywhere we have the mellow and advancing light that precedes the
appearance of the sun--the shifting hues of the sky--that pearly
softness that seems to have been invented to make us love the works of
God's hand and the warm glow of the brilliant sun; but it is not
everywhere that these fascinating changes occur, on a sea whose blue
vies with the darkest depths of the void of space, beneath a climate
that is as winning as the scenes it adorns, and amid mountains whose
faces reflect every varying shade of light with the truth and the poetry
of nature. Such a morning as this last was that which succeeded the
night with which our tale opened, bringing with it the reviving
movements of the port and town. Italy, as a whole, is remarkable for an
appearance of quiet and repose that are little known in the more
bustling scenes of the greedier commerce of our own quarter of the
world, or, indeed, in those of most of the northern nations of Europe.
There is in her aspect, modes of living, and even in her habits of
business, an air of decayed gentility that is wanting to the ports,
shops, and marts of the more vulgar parts of the world; as if conscious
of having been so long the focus of human refinement, it was unbecoming,
in these later days, to throw aside all traces of her history and power.
Man, and the climate, too, seem in unison; one meeting the cares of life
with a _far niente_ manner that is singularly in accordance with the
dreamy and soothing atmosphere he respires.
Just as day dawned, the fall of a billet of wood on the deck of the
Feu-Follet gave the first intimation that any one was stirring in or
near the haven. If there had been a watch on board that craft throughout
the night--and doubtless such had been the case--it had been kept in so
quiet and unobtrusive a manner as to render it questionable to the
jealous eyes which had been riveted on her from the shore until long
past midnight. Now, however, everything was in motion, and in less than
five minutes after that billet of wood had fallen from the hands of the
cook, as he was about to light his galley fire, the tops of the hats and
caps of some fifty or sixty sailors were seen moving to and fro, just
above the upper edge of the bulwarks. Three minutes later, and two men
appeared near the knight-heads, each with his arms folded, looking at
the vessel's hawse, and taking a survey of the state of the harbor, and
of objects on the surrounding shore.
The two individuals who were standing in the conspicuous position named
were Raoul Yvard himself, and Ithuel Bolt. Their conversation was in
French, the part borne by the last being most execrably pronounced, and
paying little or no attention to grammar; but it is necessary that we
should render what was said by both into the vernacular, with the
peculiarities that belonged to the men.
"I see only the Austrian that is worth the trouble of a movement,"
quietly observed Raoul, whose eye was scanning the inner harbor, his own
vessel lying two hundred yards without it, it will be remembered--"and
she is light, and would scarce pay for sending her to Toulon. These
feluccas would embarrass us, without affording much reward, and then
their loss would ruin the poor devils of owners, and bring misery into
many a family."
"Well, that's a new idee, for a privateer!" said Ithuel sneeringly;
"luck's luck, in these matters, and every man must count on what war
turns up. I wish you'd read the history of _our_ revolution, and then
you'd ha' seen that liberty and equality are not to be had without some
ups and downs in fortin's and chances."
"The Austrian _might_ do," added Raoul, who paid little attention to his
companion's remarks, "if he were a streak or two lower in the
water--but, after all, E-too-_ell_,"--for so he pronounced the other's
name--"I do not like a capture that is made without any _eclat_, or
spirit, in the attack and defence."
"Well,"--this word Ithuel invariably pronounced, "wa-a-l"--"well, to my
notion, the most profitable and the most agreeable battles are the
shortest; and the pleasantest victories are them in which there's the
most prize money, Howsever, as that brig is only an Austrian, I care
little what you may detairmine to do with her; was she English, I'd head
a boat myself, to go in and tow her out here, expressly to have the
satisfaction of burning her. English ships make a cheerful fire!"
"And that would be a useless waste of property, and perhaps of blood,
and would do no one any good, Etoo_ell_."
"But it would do the accursed English _harm_, and that counts for a
something, in my reckoning. Nelson wasn't so over-scrupulous, at the
Nile, about burning your ships, Mr. Rule--"
"_Tonnerre!_ why do you always bring in that _malheureux _ Nile?--Is it
not enough that we were beaten--disgraced--destroyed--that a friend must
tell us of it so often?"
"You forget, Mr. Rule, that I was an _inimy, then_" returned Ithuel,
with a grin and a grim smile. "If you'll take the trouble to examine my
back, you'll find on it the marks of the lashes I got for just telling
my Captain that it was ag'in the grain for me, a republican as I was by
idee and natur', to fight other republicans. He told, me he would first
try the grain of my skin, and see how that would agree with what he
called my duty; and I must own, he got the best on't; I fit like a tiger
ag'in you, rather than be flogged twice the same day. Flogging on a sore
back is an awful argument!"
"And now has come the hour of revenge, _pauvre Etooell; _ this time you
are on the right side, and may fight with heart and mind those you so
A long and gloomy silence followed, during which Raoul turned his face
aft, and stood looking at the movements of the men as they washed the
decks, while Ithuel seated himself on a knight-head, and his chin
resting on his hand, he sat ruminating, in bitterness of spirit, like
Milton's devil, in some of his dire cogitations, on the atrocious wrong
of which he had really been the subject. Bodies of men are proverbially
heartless. They commit injustice without reflection, and vindicate their
abuses without remorse. And yet it may be doubtful if either a nation or
an individual ever tolerated or was an accessory in a wrong, that the
act, sooner or later, did not recoil on the offending party, through
that mysterious principle of right which is implanted in the nature of
things, bringing forth its own results as the seed produces its grain,
and the tree its fruits; a supervision of holiness that it is usual to
term (and rightly enough, when we remember who created principles) the
providence of God. Let that people dread the future, who, in their
collective capacity, systematically encourage injustice of any sort;
since their own eventual demoralization will follow as a necessary
consequence, even though they escape punishment in a more direct form.
We shall not stop to relate the moody musings of the New Hampshire man.
Unnurtured, and, in many respects, unprincipled as he was, he had his
clear conceptions of the injustice of which he had been one among
thousands of other victims; and, at that moment, he would have held life
itself as a cheap sacrifice, could he have had his fill of revenge. Time
and again, while a captive on board the English ship in which he had
been immured for years, had he meditated the desperate expedient of
blowing up the vessel; and had not the means been wanting, mercenary and
selfish as he ordinarily seemed, he was every way equal to executing so
dire a scheme, in order to put an end to the lives of those who were the
agents in wronging him, and his own sufferings, together. The subject
never recurred to his mind without momentarily changing the current of
its thoughts, and tinging all his feelings with an intensity of
bitterness that it was painful to bear. At length, sighing heavily, he
rose from the knight-head, and turned toward the mouth of the bay, as if
to conceal from Raoul the expression of his countenance. This act,
however, was scarcely done, ere he started, and an exclamation escaped
him that induced his companion to turn quickly on his heel and face the
sea. There, indeed, the growing light enabled both to discover an object
that could scarcely be other than one of interest to men in their
It has been said already that the deep bay, on the side of which stands
the town of Porto Ferrajo, opens to the north, looking in the direction
of the headland of Piombino. On the right of the bay, the land, high and
broken, stretches several miles ere it forms what is called the Canal,
while, on the left, it terminates with the low bluff on which stands
the residence then occupied by Andrea Barrofaldi; and which has since
become so celebrated as the abode of one far greater than the worthy
vice-governatore. The haven lying under these heights, on the left of
the bay and by the side of the town, it followed, as a matter of course,
that the anchorage of the lugger was also in this quarter of the bay,
commanding a clear view to the north, in the direction of the main land,
as far as the eye could reach. The width of the Canal, or of the passage
between Elba and the Point of Piombino, may be some six or seven miles;
and at the distance of less than one mile from the northern end of the
former stands a small rocky islet, which has since become known to the
world as the spot on which Napoleon stationed a corporal's guard, by way
of taking possession, when he found his whole empire dwindled to the
sea-girt mountains in its vicinity. With the existence and position of
this island both Raoul and Ithuel were necessarily acquainted, for they
had seen it and noted its situation the previous night, though it had
escaped their notice that, from the place where the Feu-Follet had
brought up, it was not visible. In their first look to seaward, that
morning, which was ere the light had grown sufficiently strong to render
the houses on the opposite side of the bay distinct, an object had been
seen in this quarter which had then been mistaken for the rock; but by
this time the light was strong enough to show that it was a very
different thing. In a word, that which both Raoul and Ithuel had fancied
an islet was neither more nor less than a ship.
The stranger's head was to the northward, and his motion, before a light
southerly air, could not have exceeded a knot an hour. He had no other
canvas spread than his three topsails and jib; though his courses were
hanging in the brails. His black hull was just beginning to show its
details; and along the line of light yellow that enlivened his side were
visible the dark intervals of thirteen ports; a real gun frowning in
each. Although the hammocks were not stowed, and the hammock-cloths had
that empty and undressed look which is so common to a man-of-war in the
night, it was apparent that the ship had an upper deck, with
quarter-deck and forecastle batteries; or, in other words, that she was
a frigate. As she had opened the town of Porto Ferrajo several minutes
before she was herself seen from the Feu Follet, an ensign was hanging
from the end of her gaff, though there was not sufficient air to open
its folds, in a way to let the national character of the stranger
"Peste!" exclaimed Raoul Yvard, as soon as he had gazed a minute at the
stranger in silence; "a pretty _cul de sac_ are we in, if that gentleman
should happen to be an Englishman! What say you, Etooell; can _you_ make
out anything of that ensign--your eyes are the best in the lugger?"
"It is too much for any sight to detairmine, at this distance, and that
before the sun is risen; but, by having a glass ready, we shall soon
know. Five minutes will bring us the Great Luminary, as our minister
used to call him."
Ithuel had descended from the bulwark while speaking; and he now went
aft in quest of a glass, returning to his old station, bringing two of
the instruments; one of which he handed to his commander, while he kept
the other himself. In another minute both had levelled their glasses at
the stranger, whom each surveyed attentively, for some time, in
"_Pardie_!" exclaimed Raoul, "that ensign is the tri-color, or my eyes
are untrue to my own country. Let me see, Etooell; what ship of
forty-two, or forty-four, has the republic on this coast?"
"Not _that_, Monsieur Yvard," answered Ithuel, with a manner so changed,
and an emphasis so marked, as at once to draw his companion's attention
from the frigate to his own countenance; "not _that_, Monsieur
Capitaing. It is not easy for a bird to forget the cage in which he was
shut up for two years; if that is not the accursed Proserpine, I have
forgotten the cut of my own jib!"
"La Proserpine!" repeated Raoul, who was familiar with his shipmate's
adventures, and did not require to be told his meaning; "if you are not
mistaken, Etooell, le Feu-Follet needs put her lantern under a shade.
This is only a forty, if I can count her ports."
"I care nothing for ports or guns; it is the Proserpine; and the only
harm I wish her is, that she were at the bottom of the ocean. The
Proserpine, thirty-six, Captain Cuffe; though Captain Flog would have
been a better name for him. Yes, the Proserpine, thirty-six, Captain
Cuffe, Heaven bless her!"
"Bah!--this vessel has forty-four guns--now I can see to count them; I
make twenty-two of a side."
"Aye, that's just her measure--a thirty-six on the list and by rate, and
forty-four by count; twenty-six long eighteens below; twelve
thirty-twos, carronades, on her quarter-deck; and four more carronades,
with two barkers, for'ard. She'd just extinguish your Jack-o'-Lantern,
Monsieur Rule, at one broadside; for what are ten twelve-pound
carronades, and seventy men, to such a frigate?"
"I am not madman enough, Etooell, to dream of fighting a frigate, or
even a heavy sloop-of-war, with the force you have just mentioned; but I
have followed the sea too long to be alarmed before I am certain oL my
danger. La Railleuse is just such a ship as that."
"Hearken to reason, Monsieur Rule," answered Ithuel earnestly; "La
Railleuse, nor no other French frigate, would show her colors to an
enemy's port; for it would be uselessly telling her errand. Now, an
English ship might show a French ensign, for _she_ always has it in her
power to change it; and then _she_ might be benefited by the cheat. The
Proserpine is French built, and has French legs, too, boots or no
boots"--here Ithuel laughed a little, involuntarily, but his face
instantly became serious again--"and I have heard she was a sister
vessel of the other. So much for size and appearance; but every shroud,
and port, and sail, about yonder craft, is registered on my back in a
way that no sponge will ever wash out."
"Sa-a-c-r-r-r-e," muttered Raoul between his teeth; "Etooell, if an
Englishman, he may very well take it into his head to come in here, and
perhaps anchor within half-a-cable's length of us! What think you of
that, _mon brave Americain?_"
"That it may very well come to pass; though one hardly sees, either,
what is to bring a cruiser into such a place as this. Every one hasn't
the curiosity of a Jack-o'-Lantern."
"_Mais que diable allait-il faire dans cette galere!--Bien;_ we must
take the weather as it comes; sometimes a gale, and sometimes a calm. As
he shows his own ensign so loyally, let us return the compliment, and
show ours. Hoist the ensign there aft."
"Which one, Monsieur?" demanded an old, demure-looking quartermaster,
who was charged with that duty, and who was never known to laugh; "the
captain will remember we came into port under the _drapeau_ of Monsieur
"_Bien_--hoist the drapeau of Monsieur Jean Bull again. We must brazen
it out, now we have put on the mask. Monsieur Lieutenant, clap on the
hawser, and run the lugger ahead, over her anchor, and see everything
clear for spreading our pocket-handkerchiefs. No one knows when le
Feu-Follet may have occasion to wipe her face. Ah!--now, Etooell, we
can make out his broadside fairly, he is heading more to the westward."
The two seamen levelled their glasses, and renewed their examinations.
Ithuel had a peculiarity that not only characterized the man, but which
is so common among Americans of his class as in a sense to be national.
On ordinary occasions he was talkative, and disposed to gossip; but,
whenever action and decision became necessary, he was thoughtful,
silent, and, though in a way of his own, even dignified. This last fit
was on him, and he waited for Raoul to lead the conversation. The
other, however, was disposed to be as reserved as himself, for he
quitted the knight-head, and took refuge from the splashing of the water
used in washing the decks, in his own cabin.
Two hours, though they brought the sun, with the activity and hum of the
morning, had made no great change in the relative positions of things
within and without the bay. The people of le Feu-Follet had breakfasted,
had got everything on board their little craft in its proper place, and
were moody, observant, and silent. One of the lessons that Ithuel had
succeeded in teaching his shipmates was to impress on them the necessity
of commanding their voluble propensities if they would wish to pass for
Englishmen. It is certain, more words would have been uttered in this
little lugger in one hour, had her crew been indulged to the top of
their bent, than would have been uttered in an English first-rate in
two; but the danger of using their own language, and the English
peculiarity of grumness, had been so thoroughly taught them, that her
people rather caricatured, than otherwise, _ce grand talent pour le
silence_ that was thought to distinguish their enemies. Ithuel, who had
a waggery of his own, smiled as he saw the seamen folding their arms,
throwing discontent and surliness into their countenances, and pacing
the deck singly, as if misanthropical and disdaining to converse,
whenever a boat came alongside from the shore. Several of these visitors
arrived in the course of the two hours mentioned; but the sentinel at
the gangway, who had his orders, repulsed every attempt to come on
board, pretending not to understand French when permission was asked in
Raoul had a boat's crew of four, all of whom had acquired the English,
like himself, in a prison-ship, and with these men he now prepared to
land; for, as yet, he had made little progress in the business which
brought him into his present awkward predicament, and he was not a man
to abandon an object so dear to him, lightly. Finding himself in a
dilemma, he was resolved to make an effort to reap, if possible, some
advantage from his critical situation. Accordingly, after he had taken
his coffee and given his orders, the boat's crew was called, and he left
the lugger's side. All this was done tranquilly, as if the appearance of
the stranger in the offing gave no trouble to any in le Feu-Follet.
On this occasion the boat pulled boldly into the little harbor, its
officer touching the shore at the common landing. Nor were the men in
any haste to return. They lounged about the quay, in waiting for their
captain, cheapening fruits, chatting with the women in such Italian as
they could muster, and affecting to understand the French of the old
sea-dogs that drew near them, all of whom knew more or less of that
universal language, with difficulty. That they were the objects of
suspicion, their captain had sufficiently warned them, and practice
rendered them all good actors. The time they remained in waiting for
Raoul was consequently spent in eluding attempts to induce them to
betray themselves, and in caricaturing Englishmen. Two of the four
folded their arms, endeavored to look surly, and paced the quay in
silence, refusing even to unbend to the blandishments of the gentler
sex, three or four of whom endeavored to insinuate themselves into their
confidence by offerings of fruit and flowers.
"Amico," said Annunziate, one of the prettiest girls of her class in
Porto Ferrajo, and who had been expressly employed by Vito Viti to
perform this office, "here are figs from the main land. Will you please
to eat a few, that when you go back to Inghilterra you may tell your
countrymen how we poor Elbans live?"
"Bad fig"--sputtered Jacques, Raoul's cockswain, to whom this offering
was made, and speaking in broken English; "better at 'ome. Pick up
better in ze street of Portsmout'!"
"But, Signore, you need not look as if they would hurt you, or bite
you; you can eat them and, take my word for it, you will find them as
pleasant as the melons of Napoli!"
"No melon good but English melon. English melon plenty as pomme de
"Yes, Signore, as the melons of Napoli," continued Annunziate, who did
not understand a syllable of the ungracious answers she received;
"Signor Vito Viti, our podesta, ordered me to offer these figs to the
forestieri--the Inglesi, who are in the bay--"
"God-dam," returned Jacques, in a quick, sententious manner, that was
intended to get rid of the fair tormentor, and which, temporarily at
least, was not without its effect.
But, leaving the boat's crew to be badgered in this manner until relief
came, as will be hereafter related, we must follow our hero in his way
through the streets of the town. Raoul, guided by an instinct, or having
some special object before his eyes, walked swiftly up the heights,
ascending to the promontory so often mentioned. As he passed, every eye
was turned on him, for, by this time, the distrust in the place was
general; and the sudden appearance of a frigate, wearing a French
ensign, before the port, had given rise to apprehensions of a much more
serious nature than any which could possibly attend the arrival of a
craft as light as the lugger, by herself. Vito Viti had long before gone
up the street, to see the vice-governatore; and eight or ten of the
principal men of the place had been summoned to a council, including the
two senior military dignitaries of the island. The batteries, it was
known, were manned; and although it would have puzzled the acutest mind
of Elba to give a reason why the French should risk so unprofitable an
attack as one on their principal port, long ere Raoul was seen among
them such a result was not only dreaded, but in a measure anticipated
with confidence. As a matter of course, then, every eye followed his
movements as he went with bounding steps up the narrow terraces of the
steep street, and the least of his actions was subjeected to the
narrowest and most jealous scrutiny.
The heights were again thronged with spectators of all ages and classes,
and of both sexes. The mantles and flowing dresses of females prevailed
as usual; for whatever is connected with curiosity is certain to collect
an undue proportion of a sex whose imaginations are so apt to get the
start of their judgments. On a terrace in front of the palace, as it was
the custom to designate the dwelling of the governor, was the group of
magnates, all of them paying the gravest attention to the smallest
change in the direction of the ship, which had now become an object of
general solicitude and apprehension. So intent, indeed, were they in
gazing at this apprehended enemy, that Raoul stood in front of Andrea
Barrofaldi, cap in hand, and bowing his salutation, before his approach
was even anticipated. This sudden and unannounced arrival created great
surprise, and some little confusion; one or two of the group turning
away instinctively, as it might be, to conceal the flushes that mounted
to their cheeks at being so unexpectedly confronted by the very man whom
the minute before they had been strongly denouncing.
"_Bon giorno_, Signor Vice-governatore," commenced Raoul, in his gay,
easy, and courteous manner, and certainly with an air that betrayed any
feeling but those of apprehension and guilt; "we have a fine morning on
the land, here; and apparently a fine frigate of the French republic in
the offing yonder."
"We were conversing of that vessel, Signor Smees," answered Andrea, "as
you approached. What, in your judgment, c an induce a Frenchman to
appear before our town in so menacing a manner?"
"Cospetto! you might as well ask me, Signore, what induces these
republicans to do a thousand other out-of-the-way things. What has made
them behead Louis XVI? What has made them overrun half of your Italy,
conquer Egypt, and drive the Austrians back upon their Danube?"
"To say nothing of their letting Nelsoni destroy them at Aboukir," added
Vito Viti, with a grunt.
"True, Signore, or letting Nelson, my gallant countryman, annihilate
them near the mouth of the Nile. I did not consider it proper to boast
of English glory, though that case, too, may very well be included. We
have several men in ze Ving-and-Ving who were in that glorious battle,
particularly our sailing-master, Etooell Bolt, who was on board Nelson's
own ship, having been accidentally sent on service from the frigate to
which he properly belonged, and carried off expressly to share, as it
might be, in the glory of this famous battle."
"I have seen the Signore," dryly remarked Andrea Barrofaldi--"_e uno
"An American!" exclaimed Raoul, starting a little in spite of his
assumed indifference of manner; "why, yes, I believe Bolt _was_ born in
America--English America, you know, Signori, and that is much the same
thing as having been born in England herself. We look upon _ze Yankes_
as but a part of our own people, and take them into our service most
"So the Signor Ituello has given us reason to believe; he is seemingly a
great lover of the English nation."
Raoul was uneasy; for he was entirely ignorant of all that had passed in
the wine-house, and he thought he detected irony in the manner of the
"Certainly, Signore," he answered, however, with unmoved steadiness;
"certainly, Signore, the Americani adore Inghilterra; and well they may,
considering all that great nation has done for them. But, Signor
Vice-governatore, I have come to offer you the service of my lugger,
should this Frenchman really intend mischief. We are small, it is true,
and our guns are but light; nevertheless we may break the frigate's
cabin-windows, while you are doing him still greater injury from these
heights. I trust you will assign ze Ving-and-Ving some honorable
station, should you come to blows with the republicans."
"And what particular service would it be most agreeable to you to
undertake, Signore?" inquired the vice-governatore, with considerate
courtesy; "we are no mariners, and must leave the choice to yourself.
The colonello, here, expects some firing, and has his artillerists
already at their guns."
"The preparation of Porto Ferrajo is celebrated among the mariners of
the Mediterranean, and, should the Frenchman venture within reach of
your shot, I expect to see him unrigged faster than if he were in a
dock-yard. As for ze leetl' Ving-and-Ving, in my opinion, while the
frigate is busy with these batteries, it might be well for us to steer
along the shore on the east side of the bay until we can get outside of
her, when we shall have the beggars between two fires. That was just
what Nelson did at Aboukir, Signor Podesta, a battle you seem so much
"That would be a manoeuvre worthy of a follower of Nelsoni, Signore,"
observed the colonel, "if the metal of your guns were heavier. With
short pieces of twelve, however, you would hardly venture within reach
of long pieces of eighteen; although the first should be manned by
Inglese, and the last by Francese?"
"One never knows. At the Nile one of our fifties laid the Orient, a
three-decker, athwart-hawse, and did her lots of injury. The vaisseau,
in fact, was blown up. Naval combats are decided on principles
altogether different from engagements on the land, Signor Colonello."
"It must be so, truly," answered the soldier; "but what means this
movement? you, as a seaman, may be able to tell us, Capitano."
This drew all eyes to the frigate again, where, indeed, were movements
that indicated some important changes. As these movements have an
intimate connection with the incidents of the tale, it will be
necessary to relate them in a manner to render them more intelligible to
The distance of the frigate from the town might now have been five
English miles. Of current there was none; and there being no tides in
the Mediterranean, the ship would have lain perfectly stationary all the
morning, but for a very light air from the southward. Before this air,
however, she had moved to the westward about a couple of miles, until
she had got the government-house nearly abeam. At the same time she had
been obliquely drawing nearer, which was the circumstance that produced
the alarm. With the sun had risen the wind, and a few minutes before the
colonel interrupted himself in the manner related, the topsails of the
stranger had swelled, and he began to move through the water at the rate
of some four or five knots the hour. The moment her people felt that
they had complete command of their vessel, as if waiting only for that
assurance, they altered her course and made sail. Putting her helm
a-starboard, the ship came close by the wind, with her head looking
directly in for the promontory, while her tacks were hauled on board,
and her light canvas aloft was loosened and spread to the breeze. Almost
at the same instant, for everything seemed to be done at once, and as by
instinct, the French flag was lowered, another went up in its place, and
a gun was fired to leeward--a signal of amity. As this second emblem of
nationality blew out, and opened to the breeze, the glasses showed the
white field and St. George's cross of the noble old ensign of England.
An exclamation of surprise and delight escaped the spectators on the
promontory, as their doubts and apprehensions were thus dramatically
relieved. No one thought of Raoul at that happy moment, though to him
there was nothing of new interest in the affair, with the exception of
the apparent intention of the stranger to enter the bay. As le
Feu-Follet lay in plain view from the offing, he had his doubts, indeed,
whether the warlike appearance of that craft was not the true reason of
this sudden change in the frigate's course. Still, lying as he did in a
port hostile to France, there was a probability that he might yet escape
without a very critical or close examination.
"Signor Smees, I felicitate you on this visit of a countryman," cried
Andrea Barrofaldi, a pacific man by nature, and certainly no warrior,
and who felt too happy at the prospects of passing a quiet day, to feel
distrust at such a moment; "I shall do you honor in my communications
with Florence, for the spirit and willingness which you have shown in
the wish to aid us on this trying occasion."
"Signor Vice-governatore, do not trouble yourself to dwell on my poor
services," answered Raoul, scarce caring to conceal the smile that
struggled about his handsome mouth; "think rather of those of these
gallant signori, who greatly regret that an opportunity for gaining
distinction has been lost. But here are signals that must be meant for
us--I hope my stupid fellows will be able to answer them in my absence."
It was fortunate for le Feu-Follet, perhaps, that her commander was not
on board, when the stranger, the Proserpine, the very ship that Ithuel
so well knew, made her number. The mystification that was to follow was
in much better hands while conducted by the New Hampshire man than it
could possibly be in his own, Ithuel answered promptly, though what, he
did not know himself; but he took good care that the flags he showed
should become so entangled as not to be read by those in the frigate,
while they had every appearance of being hoisted fearlessly and in
"Are all prepared?
They are--nay more--embarked; the latest boat
Waits but my chief--My sword and my capote."
What success attended the artifice of Ithuel it was impossible to tell,
so far as the frigate was concerned; though the appearance of mutual
intelligence between the two vessels had a very favorable tendency
toward removing suspicion from the lugger among those on shore. It
seemed so utterly improbable that a French corsair could answer the
signals of an English frigate that even Vito Viti felt compelled to
acknowledge to the vice-governatore in a whisper that, so far, the
circumstance was much in favor of the lugger's loyalty. Then the calm
exterior of Raoul counted for something, more especially as he remained
apparently an unconcerned observer of the rapid approach of the ship.
"We shall not have occasion to use your gallant offer, Signor Smees,"
said Andrea kindly, as he was about to retire into the house with one or
two of his counsellors; "but we thank you none the less. It is a
happiness to be honored with the visit of two cruisers of your great
nation on the same day, and I hope you will so far favor me as to
accompany your brother commander, when he shall do me the honor to pay
the customary visit, since it would seem to be his serious intention to
pay Porto Ferrajo the compliment of a call. Can you not guess at the
name of the frigate?"
"Now I see she is a countryman, I think I can, Signore," answered Raoul
carelessly; "I take her to be la Proserpine, a French-built ship, a
circumstance that first deceived me as to her character."
"And the noble cavaliere, her commander--you doubtless know his name and
"Oh! perfectly; he is the son of an old admiral, under whom I was
educated, though we happen ourselves never to have met. Sir Brown is the
name and title of the gentleman."
"Ah! that is a truly English rank, and name, too, as one might say.
Often have I met that honorable appellation in Shakespeare, and other of
your eminent authors, Miltoni has a Sir Brown, if I am not
"Several of them, Signor Vice-governatore," answered Raoul, without a
moment's hesitation or the smallest remorse; though he had no idea
whatever who Milton was; "Milton, Shakespeare, Cicero, and all our great
writers, often mention Signori of this family."
"Cicero!" repeated Andrea, in astonishment--"he was a Roman, and an
ancient, Capitano, and died before Inghilterra was known to the
Raoul perceived that he had reached too far, though he was not in
absolute danger of losing his balance. Smiling, as in consideration of
the other's provincial view of things, he rejoined, with an _aplomb_
that would have done credit to a politician, in an explanatory and
"Quite true, Signor Vice-governatore, as respects him you mention," he
said; "but not true as respects Sir Cicero, my illustrious compatriot.
Let me see--I do not think it is yet a century since our Cicero died. He
was born in Devonshire"--this was the county in which Raoul had been
imprisoned--"and must have died in Dublin. Si--now I remember, it _was_
in Dublin, that this virtuous and distinguished author yielded up
To all this Andrea had nothing to say, for, half a century since, so
great was the ignorance of civilized nations as related to such things,
that one might have engrafted a Homer on the literature of England, in
particular, without much risk of having the imposition detected. Signor
Barrofaldi was not pleased to find that the barbarians were seizing on
the Italian names, it is true; but he was fain to set the circumstance
down to those very traces of barbarism which were the unavoidable fruits
of their origin. As for supposing it possible that one who spoke with
the ease and innocence of Raoul was inventing as he went along, it was
an idea he was himself much too unpractised to entertain; and the very
first thing he did on entering the palace was to make a memorandum which
might lead him, at a leisure moment, to inquire into the nature of the
writings and the general merits of Sir Cicero, the illustrious namesake
of him of Rome. As soon as this little digression terminated he entered
the palace, after again expressing the hope that "Sir Smees" would not
fail to accompany "Sir Brown," in the visit which the functionary fully
expected to receive from the latter, in the course of the next hour of
two. The company now began to disperse, and Raoul was soon left to his
own meditations, which just at that moment were anything but agreeable.
The town of Porto Ferrajo is so shut in from the sea by the rock against
which it is built, its fortifications, and the construction of its own
little port, as to render the approach of a vessel invisible to its
inhabitants, unless they choose to ascend to the heights and the narrow
promenade already mentioned. This circumstance had drawn a large crowd
upon the hill again, among which Raoul Yvard now threaded his way,
wearing his sea cap and his assumed naval uniform in a smart, affected
manner, for he was fully sensible of all the advantages he possessed on
the score of personal appearance. His unsettled eye, however, wandered
from one pretty face to another in quest of Ghita, who alone was the
object of his search and the true cause of the awkward predicament into
which he had brought not only himself, but le Feu-Follet. In this
manner, now thinking of her he sought, and then reverting to his
situation in an enemy's port, he walked along the whole line of the
cliff, scarce knowing whether to return or to seek his boat by doubling
on the town, when he heard his own name pronounced in a sweet voice
which went directly to his heart. Turning on his heel, Ghita was within
a few feet of him.
"Salute me distantly and as a stranger," said the girl, in almost
breathless haste, "and point to the different streets, as if inquiring
your way through the town. This is the place where we met last evening;
but, remember, it is no longer dark."
As Raoul complied with her desire any distant spectator might well have
fancied the meeting accidental, though he poured forth a flood of
expressions of love and admiration.
"Enough, Raoul," said the girl, blushing and dropping her eyes, though
no displeasure was visible on her serene and placid face, "another time
I might indulge you. How much worse is your situation now than it was
last night! Then you had only the port to fear; now you have both the
people of the port and this strange ship--an Inglese, as they tell me?"
"No doubt--la Proserpine, Etooell says, and he knows; you remember
Etooell, dearest Ghita, the American who was with me at the tower--well,
he has served in this very ship, and knows her to be la Proserpine, of
forty-four." Raoul paused a moment; then he added, laughing in a way to
surprise his companion--"Qui--la Proserpine, le Capitaine Sir Brown!"
"What you can find to amuse you in all this, Raoul, is more than I can
discover. Sir Brown, or sir anybody else, will send you again to those
evil English prison-ships, of which you have so often told me; and there
is surely nothing pleasant in _that_ idea."
"Bah! my sweet Ghita, Sir Brown, or Sir White, or Sir Black has not yet
got me. I am not a child, to tumble into the fire because the
leading-strings are off; and le Feu-Follet shines or goes out, exactly
as it suits her purposes. The frigate, ten to one, will just run close
in and take a near look, and then square away and go to Livorno, where
there is much more to amuse her officers, than here in Porto Ferrajo.
This Sir Brown has his Ghita, as well as Raoul Yvard."
"No, not a Ghita, I fear, Raoul," answered the girl, smiling in spite of
herself, while her color almost insensibly deepened--"Livorno has few
ignorant country girls, like me, who have been educated in a lone
watch-tower on the coast."
"Ghita," answered Raoul, with feeling, "that poor lone watch-tower of
thine might well be envied by many a noble dame at Roma and at Napoli;
it has left thee innocent and pure--a gem that gay capitals seldom
contain; or, if found there, not in its native beauty, which they
sully by use."
"What know'st thou, Raoul, of Roma and Napoli, and of noble dames and
rich gems?" asked the girl, smiling, the tenderness which had filled her
heart at that moment betraying itself in her eyes.
"What do I know of such things, truly! why, I have been at both places,
and have seen what I describe. I went to Roma on purpose to see the Holy
Father, in order to make certain whether our French opinions of his
character and infallibility were true or not, before I set up in
religion for myself."
"And thou _didst_ find him holy and venerable, Raoul," interposed the
girl, with earnestness and energy, for this was the great point of
separation between them--"I _know_ thou found'st him thus, and worthy to
be the head of an ancient and true church. My eyes never beheld him; but
this do I _know_ to be true."
Raoul was aware that the laxity of his religious opinions, opinions that
he may be said to have inherited from his country, as it then existed
morally, alone prevented Ghita from casting aside all other ties, and
following his fortunes in weal and in woe. Still he was too frank and
generous to deceive, while he had ever been too considerate to strive to
unsettle her confiding and consoling faith. Her infirmity even, for so
he deemed her notions to be, had a charm in his eyes; few men, however
loose or sceptical in their own opinions on such matters, finding any
pleasure in the contemplation of a female infidel; and he had never
looked more fondly into her anxious but lovely face than he did at this
very instant, making his reply with a truth that bordered on
"_Thou_ art my religion, Ghita!" he said; "in thee I worship purity and
"Nay--nay, Raoul, _do_ not--refrain--if thou really lov'st me, utter not
this frightful blasphemy; tell me, rather, if thou didst not find the
holy father as I describe him?"
"I found him a peaceful, venerable, and, I firmly believe, a _good_ old
man, Ghita; but _only_ a man. No infallibility could I see about him;
but a set of roguish cardinals and other plotters of mischief, who were
much better calculated to set Christians by the ears than to lead them
to Heaven, surrounded his chair."
"Say no more, Raoul--I will listen to no more of this. Thou knowest not
these sainted men, and thy tongue is thine own enemy, without--hark!
what means that?"
"It is a gun from the frigate, and must be looked to; say, when and
where do we meet again?"
"I know not, now. We have been too long, much too long, together as it
is; and must separate. Trust to me to provide the means of another
meeting; at all events, _we_ shall shortly be in our tower again."
Ghita glided away as she ceased speaking and soon disappeared in the
town. As for Raoul, he was at a loss for a moment whether to follow or
not; then he hastened to the terrace in front of the government-house
again, in order to ascertain the meaning of the gun. The report had
drawn others to the same place, and on reaching it the young man found
himself in another crowd.
By this time the Proserpine, for Ithuel was right as to the name of the
stranger, had got within a league of the entrance of the bay and had
gone about, stretching over to its eastern shore, apparently with the
intention to fetch fairly into it on the next tack. The smoke of her gun
was sailing off to leeward in a little cloud, and signals were again
flying at her main-royal-mast-head. All this was very intelligible to
Raoul, it being evident at a glance that the frigate had reached in
nearer both to look at the warlike lugger that she saw in the bay, and
to communicate more clearly with her by signals. Ithuel's expedient had
not sufficed; the vigilant Captain Cuffe, alias Sir Brown, who commanded
the Proserpine, not being a man likely to be mystified by so stale a
trick. Raoul scarcely breathed as he watched the lugger in anticipation
of her course.
Ithuel certainly seemed in no hurry to commit himself, for the signal
had now been flying on board the frigate several minutes, and yet no
symptoms of any preparation for an answer could be discovered. At length
the halyards moved, and then three fair, handsome flags rose to the end
of le Feu-Follet's jigger yard, a spar that was always kept aloft in
moderate weather. What the signal meant Raoul did not know, for though
he was provided with signals by means of which to communicate with the
vessels of war of his own nation, the Directory had not been able to
supply him with those necessary to communicate with the enemy. Ithuel's
ingenuity, however, had supplied the deficiency. While serving on board
the Proserpine, the very ship that was now menacing the lugger, he had
seen a meeting between her and a privateer English lugger, one of the
two or three of that rig which sailed out of England, and his observant
eye had noted the flags she had shown on the occasion. Now, as
privateersmen are not expected to be expert or even very accurate in the
use of signals, he had ventured to show these very numbers, let it prove
for better or worse. Had he been on the quarter-deck of the frigate, he
would have ascertained, through the benedictions bestowed by Captain
Cuffe, that his _ruse_ had so far succeeded as to cause that officer to
attribute his unintelligible answer to ignorance, rather than to design.
Nevertheless, the frigate did not seem disposed to alter her course;
for, either influenced by a desire to anchor, or by a determination to
take a still closer look at the lugger, she stood on, nearing the
eastern side of the bay, at the rate of some six miles to the hour.
Raoul Yvard now thought it time to look to the safety of le Feu-Follet
in person. Previously to landing he had given instructions as to what
was to be done in the event of the frigate's coming close in; but
matters now seemed so very serious that he hurried down the hill,
overtaking Vito Viti in his way, who was repairing to the harbor to give
instructions to certain boatmen concerning the manner in which the
quarantine laws were to be regarded, in an intercourse with a
"You ought to be infinitely happy at the prospect of meeting an
honorable countryman in this Sir Brown," observed the short-winded
podesta, who usually put himself out of breath both in ascending and
descending the steep street, "for he really seems determined to anchor
in our bay, Signor Smees."
"To tell you the truth, Signor Podesta, I wish I was half as well
persuaded that it _is_ Sir Brown and la Proserpine as I was an hour ago.
I see symptoms of its being a republican, after all, and must have a
care for ze Ving-and-Ving."
"The devil carry away all republicans, is my humble prayer, Signor
Capitano; but I can hardly believe that so graceful and gracious-looking
a frigate can possibly belong to such wretches."
"Ah! Signore, if that were all, I fear we should have to yield the palm
to the French," answered Raoul, laughing; "for the best-looking craft in
His Majesty's service are republican prizes. Even should this frigate
turn out to be the Proserpine herself, she can claim no better origin.
But I think the vice-governatore has not done well in deserting the
batteries, since this stranger does not answer our signals as she
should. The last communication has proved quite unintelligible to him."
Raoul was nearer to the truth than he imagined perhaps, for certainly
Ithuel's numbers had made nonsense, according to the signal book of the
Proserpine; but his confident manner had an effect on Vito Viti, who was
duped by his seeming earnestness, as well as by a circumstance which,
rightly considered, told as much against as it did in favor of his
"And what is to be done, Signore?" demanded the podesta, stopping short
in the street.
"We must do as well as we can, under the circumstances. My duty is to
look out for ze Ving-and-Ving, and yours to look out for the town.
Should the stranger actually enter the bay and bring his broadside to
bear on this steep hill, there is not a chamber window that will not
open on the muzzles of his guns. You will grant me permission to haul
into the inner harbor, where we shall be sheltered by the buildings from
his shot, and then perhaps it will be well enough to send my people into
the nearest battery. I look for bloodshed and confusion ere long."
All this was said with so much apparent sincerity that it added to the
podesta's mystification. Calling a neighbor to him, he sent the latter
up the hill with a message to Andrea Barrofaldi, and then he hurried
down toward the port, it being much easier for him, just at that moment,
to descend than to ascend. Raoul kept at his side, and together they
reached the water's edge.
The podesta was greatly addicted to giving utterance to any predominant
opinion of the moment, being one of those persons who _feel_ quite as
much as they _think_. On the present occasion he did not spare the
frigate, for, having caught at the bait that his companion had so
artfully thrown out to him, he was loud in the expression of his
distrust. All the signalling and showing of colors he now believed to be
a republican trick; and precisely in proportion as he became resentful
of the supposed fraud of the ship, was he disposed to confide blindly in
the honesty of the lugger. This was a change of sentiment in the
magistrate; and, as in the case of all sudden but late conversions, he
was in a humor to compensate for his tardiness by the excess of his
zeal. In consequence of this disposition and the character and loquacity
of the man, all aided by a few timely suggestions on the part of Raoul,
in five minutes it came to be generally understood that the frigate was
greatly to be distrusted, while the lugger rose in public favor exactly
in the degree in which the other fell. This interposition of Vito Viti's
was exceedingly apropos, so far as le Feu-Follet and her people were
concerned, inasmuch as the examination of and intercourse with the
boat's crew had rather left the impression of their want of nationality
in a legal sense, than otherwise. In a word, had not the podesta so
loudly and so actively proclaimed the contrary, Tommaso and his fellows
were about to report their convictions that these men were all bona fide
wolves in sheep's clothing--alias Frenchmen.
"No, no--amici miei," said Vito Viti, bustling about on the narrow
little quay, "all is not gold that glitters, of a certainty; and this
frigate is probably no ally, but an enemy. A very different matter is it
with ze Ving-y-Ving and Il Signor Smees--we may be said to know
_him_--have seen his papers, and the vice-governatore and myself have
examined him, as it might be, on the history and laws of his island, for
England is an island, neighbors, as well as Elba; another reason for
respect and amity--but we have gone over much of the literature and
history of Inghilterra together and find everything satisfactory and
right; therefore are we bound to show the lugger protection and love."
"Most true, Signor Podesta," answered Raoul from his boat; "and such
being the case, I hasten to haul my vessel into the mouth of your basin,
which I will defend against boats or any attempt of these rascally
republicans to land."
Waving his hand, the young sailor pulled quickly out of the crowded
little port, followed by a hundred vivas. Raoul now saw that his orders
had not been neglected. A small line had been run out from the lugger
and fastened to a ring in the inner end of the eastern side of the
narrow haven, apparently with the intention of hauling the vessel into
the harbor itself. He also perceived that the light anchor, or large
kedge, by which le Feu-Follet rode, was under foot, as seamen term it;
or that the cable was nearly "up and down." With a wave of the hand he
communicated a new order, and then he saw that the men were raising the
kedge from the bottom. By the time his foot touched the deck, indeed,
the anchor was up and stowed, and nothing held the vessel but the line
that had been run to the quay. Fifty pairs of hands were applied to this
line, and the lugger advanced rapidly toward her place of shelter. But
an artifice was practised to prevent her heading into the harbor's
mouth, the line having been brought inboard abaft her larboard cathead,
a circumstance which necessarily gave her a sheer in the contrary
direction, or to the eastward of the entrance. When the reader remembers
that the scale on which the port had been constructed was small, the
entrance scarce exceeding a hundred feet in width, he will better
understand the situation of things. Seemingly to aid the movement, too,
the jigger was set, and the wind being south, or directly aft, the
lugger's motion was soon light and rapid. As the vessel drew nearer to
the entrance, her people made a run with the line and gave her a
movement of some three or four knots to the hour, actually threatening
to dash her bows against the pier-head. But Raoul Yvard contemplated no
such blunder. At the proper moment the line was cut, the helm was put
a-port, the lugger's head sheered to starboard, and just as Vito Viti,
who witnessed all without comprehending more than half that passed, was
shouting his vivas and animating all near him with his cries, the lugger
glided past the end of the harbor, on its outside, however, instead of
entering it. So completely was every one taken by surprise by this
evolution that the first impression was of some mistake, accident, or
blunder of the helmsman, and cries of regret followed, lest the frigate
might have it in her power to profit by the mishap. The flapping of
canvas, notwithstanding, showed that no time was lost, and presently le
Feu-Follet shot by an opening between the warehouses, under all sail. At
this critical instant the frigate, which saw what passed, but which had
been deceived like all the rest, and supposed the lugger was hauling
into the haven, tacked and came round with her head to the westward. But
intending to fetch well into the bay, she had stretched so far over
toward the eastern shore as, by this time, to be quite two miles
distant; and as the lugger rounded the promontory close under its rocks,
to avoid the shot of the batteries above, she left, in less than five
minutes, her enemy that space directly astern. Nor was this all. It
would have been dangerous to fire as well as useless, on account of the
range, since the lugger lay nearly in a line between her enemy's chase
guns and the residence of the vice-governatore. It only remained,
therefore, for the frigate to commence what is proverbially "a long
chase," viz. "a stern chase."
All that has just been related may have occupied ten minutes; but the
news reached Andrea Barrofaldi and his counsellors soon enough to allow
them to appear on the promontory in time to see the Ving-y-Ving pass
close under the cliffs beneath them, still keeping her English colors
flying. Raoul was visible, trumpet in hand; but as the wind was light,
his powerful voice sufficed to tell his story.
"Signori," he shouted, "I will lead the rascally republican away from
your port in chase; _that_ will be the most effectual mode of doing you
These words were heard and understood, and a murmur of applause followed
from some, while others thought the whole affair mysterious and
questionable. There was no time to interpose by acts, had such a course
been contemplated, the lugger keeping too close in to be exposed to
shot, and there being, as yet, no new preparations in the batteries to
meet an enemy. Then there were the doubts as to the proper party to
assail, and all passed too rapidly to admit of consultation or
The movement of le Feu-Follet was so easy, as to partake of the
character of instinct. Her light sails were fully distended, though the
breeze was far from fresh; and as she rose and fell on the long
ground-swells, her wedge-like bows caused the water to ripple before
them like a swift current meeting a sharp obstacle in the stream. It was
only as she sank into the water, in stemming a swell, that anything like
foam could be seen under her forefoot. A long line of swift-receding
bubbles, however, marked her track, and she no sooner came abreast of
any given group of spectators than she was past it--resembling the
progress of a porpoise as he sports along a harbor.
Ten minutes after passing the palace, or the pitch of the promontory,
the lugger opened another bay, one wider and almost as deep as that on
which Porto Ferrajo stands, and here she took the breeze without the
intervention of any neighboring rocks, and her speed was essentially
increased. Hitherto, her close proximity to the shore had partially
becalmed her, though the air had drawn round the promontory, making
nearly a fair wind of it; but now the currents came fully on her beam,
and with much more power. She hauled down her tacks, flattened in her
sheets, luffed, and was soon out of sight, breasting up to windward of a
point that formed the eastern extremity of the bay last mentioned.
All this time the Proserpine had not been idle. As soon as she
discovered that the lugger was endeavoring to escape, her rigging was
alive with men. Sail after sail was set, one white cloud succeeding
another, until she was a sheet of canvas from her trucks to her
bulwarks. Her lofty sails taking the breeze above the adjacent coast,
her progress was swift, for this particular frigate had the reputation
of being one of the fastest vessels in the English marine.
It was just twenty minutes by Andrea Barrofaldi's watch after le
Feu-Follet passed the spot where he stood, when the Proserpine came
abreast of it. Her greater draught of water induced her to keep half a
mile from the promontory, but she was so near as to allow a very good
opportunity to examine her general construction and appearance as she
went by. The batteries were now manned, and a consultation was held on
the propriety of punishing a republican for daring to come so near a
Tuscan port. But there flew the respected and dreaded English ensign;
and it was still a matter of doubt whether the stranger were friend or
enemy. Nothing about the ship showed apprehension, and yet she was
clearly chasing a craft which, coming from a Tuscan harbor, an
Englishman would be bound to consider entitled to his protection rather
than to his hostility. In a word, opinions were divided, and when that
is the case, in matters of this nature, decision is obviously difficult.
Then, if a Frenchman, she clearly attempted no injury to any on the
island; and those who possessed the power to commence a fire were fully
aware how much the town lay exposed, and how little benefit might be
expected from even a single broadside. The consequence was that the few
who were disposed to open on the frigate, like the two or three who had
felt the same disposition toward the lugger, were restrained in their
wishes, not only by the voice of superior authority, but by that
In the mean while the Proserpine pressed on, and in ten minutes more she
was not only out of the range, but beyond the reach of shot. As she
opened the bay west of the town le Feu-Follet was seen from her decks,
fully a league ahead, close on a wind, the breeze hauling round the
western end of the island, glancing through the water at a rate that
rendered pursuit more than doubtful. Still the ship persevered, and in
little more than an hour from the time she had crowded sail she was up
with the western extremity of the hills, through more than a mile to the
leeward. Here she met the fair southern breeze, uninfluenced by the
land, as it came through the pass between Corsica and Elba, and got a
clear view of the work before her. The studding-sails and royals had
been taken in twenty minutes earlier; the bowlines were now all hauled,
and the frigate was brought close upon the wind. Still the chase was
evidently hopeless, the little Feu-Follet having everything as much to
her mind as if she had ordered the weather expressly to show her powers.
With her sheets flattened in until her canvas stood like boards, her
head looked fully a point to windward of that of the ship, and, what was
of equal importance, she even went to windward of the point she looked
at, while the Proserpine, if anything, fell off a little, though but a
very little, from her own course. Under all these differences the lugger
went through the water six feet to the frigate's five, beating her in
speed almost as much as she did in her weatherly qualities.
The vessel to windward was not the first lugger, by fifty, that Captain
Cuffe had assisted in chasing, and he knew the hopelessness of following
such a craft under circumstances so directly adapted to its qualities.
Then he was far from certain that he was pursuing an enemy at all,
whatever distrust the signals may have excited, since she had clearly
come out of a friendly port. Bastia, too, lay within a few hours' run,
and there was the whole of the east coast of Corsica, abounding with
small bays and havens, in which a vessel of that size might take refuge
if pressed. After convincing himself, therefore, by half an hour's
further trial in open sailing under the full force of the breeze, of the
fruitlessness of his effort, that experienced officer ordered the
Proserpine's helm put up, the yards squared, and he stood to the
northward, apparently shaping his course for Leghorn or the Gulf of
Genoa. When the frigate made this change in her course, the lugger,
which had tacked some time previously, was just becoming shut in by the
western end of Elba, and she was soon lost to view entirely, with every
prospect of her weathering the island altogether, without being obliged
to go about again.
It was no more than natural that such a chase should occasion some
animation in a place as retired and ordinarily as dull as Porto Ferrajo.
Several of the young idlers of the garrison obtained horses and galloped
up among the hills to watch the result; the mountains being pretty well
intersected by bridle-paths, though totally without regular roads. They
who remained in the town, as a matter of course, were not disposed to
let so favorable a subject for discourse die away immediately, for want
of a disposition to gossip on it. Little else was talked of that day
than the menaced attack of the republican frigate, and the escape of the
lugger. Some, indeed, still doubted, for every question has its two
sides, and there was just enough of dissent to render the discussions
lively and the arguments ingenious. Among the disputants, Vito Viti
acted a prominent part. Having committed himself so openly by his
"vivas" and his public remarks in the port, he felt it due to his own
character to justify all he had said, and Raoul Yvard could not have
desired a warmer advocate than he had in the podesta. The worthy
magistrate exaggerated the vice-governatore's knowledge of English, by
way of leaving no deficiency in the necessary proofs of the lugger's
national character. Nay, he even went so far as to affirm that he had
comprehended a portion of the documents exhibited by the "Signor Smees"
himself; and as to "ze Ving-y-Ving," any one acquainted in the least
with the geography of the British Channel would understand that she was
precisely the sort of craft that the semi-Gallic inhabitants of Guernsey
and Jersey would be apt to send forth to cruise against the out-and-out
Gallic inhabitants of the adjacent main.
During all these discussions, there was one heart in Porto Ferrajo that
was swelling with the conflicting emotions of gratitude,
disappointment, joy, and fear, though the tongue of its owner was
silent. Of all of her sex in the place, Ghita alone had nothing to
conjecture, no speculation to advance, no opinion to maintain, nor any
wish to express. Still she listened eagerly, and it was not the least of
her causes of satisfaction to find that her own hurried interviews with
the handsome privateersman had apparently escaped observation. At length
her mind was fully lightened of its apprehensions, leaving nothing but
tender regrets, by the return of the horsemen from the mountains. These
persons reported that the upper sails of the frigate were just visible
in the northern board, so far as they could judge, even more distant
than the island of Capraya, while the lugger had beaten up almost as far
to windward as Pianosa, and then seemed disposed to stand over toward
the coast of Corsica, doubtless with an intention to molest the commerce
of that hostile island.
_Ant_.--"And, indeed sir, there are cozeners abroad; therefore it behoves men
to be wary."
_Clo_.--"Fear not thou, man, thou shalt lose nothing here."
_Ant._--"I hope so, sir, for I have about me many parcels of change."
Such was the state of things at Porto Ferrajo at noon, or about the hour
when its inhabitants bethought them of their mid-day meal. With most the
siesta followed, though the sea air, with its invigorating coolness,
rendered that indulgence less necessary to these islanders than to most
of their neighbors on the main. Then succeeded the reviving animation of
the afternoon, and the return of the zephyr, or the western breeze. So
regular, indeed, are these changes in the currents of the air during the
summer months, that the mariner can rely with safety on meeting a light
breeze from the southward throughout the morning, a calm at noon--the
siesta of the Mediterranean--and the delightfully cool wind from the
west, after three or four o'clock; this last is again succeeded at night
by a breeze directly from the land. Weeks at a time have we known this
order of things to be uninterrupted; and when the changes did
occasionally occur, it was only in the slight episodes of showers and
thunderstorms, of which, however, Italy has far fewer than our
Such, then, was the state of Porto Ferrajo toward the evening that
succeeded this day of bustle and excitement. The zephyr again
prevailed--the idle once more issued forth for their sunset walk--and
the gossips were collecting to renew their conjectures and to start some
new point in their already exhausted discussions, when a rumor spread
through the place, like fire communicated to a train, that "ze
Ving-y-Ving" was once more coming down on the weather side of the
island, precisely as she had approached on the previous evening, with
the confidence of a friend and the celerity of a bird. Years had passed
since such a tumult was awakened in the capital of Elba. Men, women, and
children poured from the houses and were seen climbing the streets, all
hastening to the promenade, as if to satisfy themselves with their own
eyes of the existence of some miracle. In vain did the infirm and aged
call on the vigorous and more youthful for the customary assistance;
they were avoided like the cases of plague, and were left to hobble up
the terraced street as best they might. Even mothers, after dragging
them at their own sides till fearful of being too late, abandoned their
young in the highway, certain of finding them rolled to the foot of the
declivity, should they fail of scrambling to its summit. In short, it
was a scene of confusion in which there was much to laugh at, something
to awaken wonder, and not a little that was natural.
Ten minutes had not certainly elapsed after the rumor reached the lower
part of the town ere two thousand persons were on the hill, including
nearly all the principal personages of the place, 'Maso Tonti, Ghita,
and the different characters known to the reader. So nearly did the
scene of this evening resemble that of the past, the numbers of the
throng on the hill and the greater interest excepted, that one who had
been present at the former might readily have fancied the latter merely
its continuation. There, indeed, was the lugger, under her foresail and
mainsail, with the jigger brailed, coming down wing-and-wing, and
glancing along the glittering sea like the duck sailing toward her nest.
This time, however, the English ensign was flying at the end of the
jigger yard, as if in triumph; and the little craft held her way nearer
to the rocks, like one acquainted with the coast and fearing no danger.
There was a manner of established confidence in the way in which she
trusted herself under the muzzles of guns that might have destroyed her
in a very few minutes, and no one who saw her approach could very well
believe that she was anything but a known, as well as a
"Would any of the republican rascals, think you, Signor Andrea," asked
Vito Viti, in triumph, "dare to come into Porto Ferrajo in this style;
knowing, too, as does this 'Sir Smees,' the sort of people he will have
to deal with! Remember, Vice-governatore, that the man has actually been
ashore among us, and would not be likely to run his head into the
"Thou hast changed thine opinion greatly, neighbor Vito," answered the
vice-governatore, somewhat dryly, for he was far from being satisfied on
the subject of Sir Cicero and on those of certain other circumstances in
English history and politics; "it better becomes magistrates to be
cautious and wary."
"Well, if there be a more cautious and circumspect man in Elba than the
poor podesta of the Porto Ferrajo, let him stand forth, o' God's name,
and prove his deeds! I do not esteem myself, Signor Vice-governatore, as
the idlest or as the most ignorant man in the Grand Duke's territories.
There may be wiser, among whom I place your eccellenza; but there is
not a more loyal subject or a more zealous friend of truth."
"I believe it, good Vito," returned Andrea, smiling kindly on his old
associate, "and have ever so considered thy advice and services. Still,
I wish I knew something of this Sir Cicero; for, to be frank with thee,
I have even foregone my siesta in searching the books in quest of such
"And do they not confirm every syllable the Signor Smees has said?"
"So far from it, that I do not even find the name. It is true, several
distinguished orators of that nation are styled _English_ Ciceroes; but
then all people do this, by way of commendation."
"I do not know that, Signore--I do not know that--it may happen in our
Italy; but would it come to pass, think you, among remote and so lately
barbarous nations as England, Germany, and France?"
"Thou forgettest, friend Vito," returned the vice-governatore, smiling
now, in pity of his companion's ignorance and prejudices, as just before
he had smiled in kindness, "that we Italians took the pains to civilize
these people a thousand years ago, and that they have not gone backward
all this time. But there can be no doubt that 'ze Ving-y-Ving' means to
enter our bay again, and there stands the 'Signor Smees' examining us
with a glass, as if he, too, contemplated another interview."
"It strikes me, Vice-governatore, that it would be a sin next to heresy
to doubt the character of those who so loyally put their trust in us. No
republican would dare to anchor in the bay of Porto Ferrajo a second
time. _Once_ it might possibly be done; but _twice?_--no, never, never."
"I do not know but you are right, Vito, and I am sure I hope so. Will
you descend to the port and see that the forms are complied with? Then
glean such useful circumstances as you can."
The crowd was now in motion toward the lower part of the town to meet
the lugger; and at this suggestion the podesta hurried down in the
throng, to be in readiness to receive the "Signor Smees" as soon as he
should land. It was thought more dignified and proper for the
vice-governatore to remain, and await to hear the report of the supposed
English officer where he was. Ghita was one of the few also who remained
on the heights, her heart now beating with renewed apprehensions of the
dangers that her lover had again braved on her account, and now nearly
overflowing with tenderness, as she admitted the agreeable conviction
that, had she not been in Porto Ferrajo, Raoul Yvard would never have
incurred such risks.
Ghita delle Torri, or Ghita of the Towers, as the girl was ordinarily
termed by those who knew her, from a circumstance in her situation that
will appear as we advance in the tale, or Ghita Caraccioli, as was her
real name, had been an orphan from infancy. She had imbibed a strength
of character and a self-reliance from her condition, that might
otherwise have been wanting in one so young, and of a native disposition
so truly gentle. An aunt had impressed on her mind the lessons of female
decorum; and her uncle, who had abandoned the world on account of a
strong religious sentiment, had aided in making her deeply devout and
keenly conscientious. The truth of her character rendered her indisposed
to the deception which Raoul was practising, while feminine weakness
inclined her to forgive the offence in the motive. She had shuddered
again and again, as she remembered how deeply the young sailor was
becoming involved in frauds,--and frauds, too, that might so easily
terminate in violence and bloodshed; and then she had trembled under the
influence of a gentler emotion as she remembered that all these risks
were run for her. Her reason had long since admonished her that Raoul
Yvard and Ghita Caraccioli ought to be strangers to each other; but her
heart told a different story. The present was an occasion suited to
keeping these conflicting feelings keenly alive, and, as has been said,
when most of the others hastened down toward the port to be present when
the Wing-and-Wing came in, she remained on the hill, brooding over her
own thoughts, much of the time bathed in tears.
But Raoul had no intention of trusting his Jack-o'-Lantern where it
might so readily be extinguished by the hand of man. Instead of taking
shelter against any new roving republican who might come along behind
the buildings of the port, as had been expected, he shot past the end of
the quay and anchored within a few fathoms of the very spot he had
quitted that morning, merely dropping his kedge under foot as before.
Then he stepped confidently into his boat and pulled for the landing.
"Eh, Signor Capitano," cried Vito Viti, as he met his new protege with
an air of cordiality as soon as the foot of the latter touched the
shore, "we looked for the pleasure of receiving you into our bosom, as
it were, here in the haven. How ingeniously you led off that _sans
culotte_ this morning! Ah, the Inglese are the great nation of the
ocean, Colombo notwithstanding! The vice-governatore told me all about
your illustrious female admiral, Elisabetta, and the Spanish armada; and
there was Nelsoni; and now we have Smees!"
Raoul accepted these compliments, both national and personal, in a very
gracious manner, squeezing the hand of the podesta with suitable
cordiality and condescension, acting the great man as if accustomed to
this sort of incense from infancy. As became his public situation, as
well as his character, he proposed paying his duty immediately to the
superior authorities of the island.
"King George, my master," continued Raoul, as he and Vito Viti walked
from the quay toward the residence of Andrea Barrofaldi, "is
particularly pointed on this subject, with us all, in his personal
orders. 'Never enter a port of one of my allies, Smeet,' he said, the
very last time I took leave of him, 'without immediately hastening with
your duty to the commandant of the place. You never lose anything by
being liberal in politeness; and England is too polished a country to be
outdone in these things by even the Italians, the parents of modern
"You are happy in having such a sovrano, and still more so in being
allowed to approach his sacred person."
"Oh! as to the last, the navy is his pet; he considers us captains in
particular as his children. 'Never enter London, my dear Smeet,' he said
to me, 'without coming to the palace, where you will always find a
father'--you know he has one son among us who was lately a captain, as
well as myself."
"San Stefano! and he the child of a great king! I did not know that, I
"Why, it is a law in England that the king shall give at least one son
to the marine. 'Yes,' said his Majesty, 'always be prompt in calling on
the superior authorities, and remember me benevolently and
affectionately to them, one and all, even down to the subordinate
magistrates, who live in their intimacy.'"
Raoul delighted in playing the part he was now performing, but he was a
little addicted to over-acting it. Like all exceedingly bold and decided
geniuses, he was constantly striding across that step which separates
the sublime from the ridiculous, and consequently ran no small hazard in
the way of discovery. But with Vito Viti he incurred little risk on this
score, provincial credulity and a love of the marvellous coming in aid
of his general ignorance, to render him a safe depository of anything of
this sort that the other might choose to advance. Vito Viti felt it to
be an honor to converse with a man who, in his turn, had conversed with
a king; and as he puffed his way up the steep ascent again he did not
fail to express some of the feelings which were glowing in his breast.
"Is it not a happiness to serve such a prince?" he exclaimed--"nay, to
die for him!"
"The latter is a service I have not yet performed," answered Raoul,
innocently, "but which may one day well happen. Do you not think,
podesta, that he who lays down his life for his prince merits
"That would fill the calendar too soon, in these wars, Signor Smees; but
I will concede you the generals and admirals, and other great
personages. Si--a general or an admiral who dies for his sovereign does
deserve to be made a saint--this would leave these miserable French
republicans, Signore, without hope or honor!"
"They are _canaille_ from the highest to the lowest, and can reasonably
expect nothing better. If they wish to be canonized, let them restore
the Bourbons, and put themselves lawfully in the way of such a blessing.
The chase of this morning, Signor Vito Viti, must at least have amused
The podesta wanted but this opening to pour out a history of his own
emotions, sensations, and raptures. He expatiated in glowing terms on
the service the lugger had rendered the place by leading off the
rascally republicans, showing that he considered the manoeuvre of
passing the port, instead of entering it, as one of the most remarkable
of which he had ever heard, or even read.
"I defied the vice-governatore to produce an example of a finer
professional inspiration in the whole range of history, beginning with
his Tacitus and ending with your new English work on Roma. I doubt if
the Elder Pliny, or Mark Antony, or even Caesar, ever did a finer thing,
Signore; and I am not a man addicted to extravagance in compliments. Had
it been a fleet of vessels of three decks, instead of a little lugger,
Christendom would have rung with the glory of the achievement!"
"Had it been but a frigate, my excellent friend, the manoeuvre would
have been unnecessary. Peste! it is not a single republican ship that
can make a stout English frigate skulk along the rocks and fly like a
thief at night."
"Ah, there is the vice-governatore walking on his terrace, Sir Smees,
and dying with impatience to greet you. We will drop the subject for
another occasion, and a bottle of good Florence liquor."
The reception which Andrea Barrofaldi gave Raoul was far less warm than
that he received from the podesta, though it was polite, and without any
visible signs of distrust.
"I have come, Signor Vice-governatore," said the privateersman, "in
compliance with positive orders from my master, to pay my respects to
you again, and to report my arrival once more in your bay, though the
cruise made since my last departure has not been so long as an East
"Short as it has been, we should have reason to regret your absence,
Signore, were it not for the admirable proofs it has afforded us of your
resources and seamanship," returned Andrea, with due complaisance. "To
own the truth, when I saw you depart it was with the apprehension that
we should never enjoy this satisfaction again. But, like your English
Sir Cicero, the second coming may prove even more agreeable than
Raoul laughed, and he even had the grace to blush a little; after which
he appeared to reflect intensely on some matter of moment. Smiles
struggled round his handsome mouth, and then he suddenly assumed an air
of sailor-like frankness and disclosed his passing sensations in words.
"Signor Vice-governatore, I ask the favor of one moment's private
conference; Signor Vito Viti, give us leave a single moment, if you
please. I perceive, Signore," continued Raoul, as he and Andrea walked a
little aside, "that you have not easily forgotten my little fanfaronade
about our English Cicero. But what will you have?--we sailors are sent
to sea children, and we know little of books. My excellent father,
Milord Smeet, had me put in a frigate when I was only twelve, an age at
which one knows very little of Ciceros or Dantes or Corneilles, even as
you will confess. Thus, when I found myself in the presence of a
gentleman whose reputation for learning has reached far beyond the
island he so admirably governs, a silly ambition has led me into a folly
that he finds it hard to forgive. If I have talked of names of which I
know nothing, it may be a weakness such as young men will fall into; but
surely it is no heinous crime."
"You allow, Signore, that there has been no English Sir Cicero?"
"The truth compels me to say, I know nothing about it. But it is hard
for a very young man, and one, too, that feels his deficiencies of
education, to admit all this to a philosopher on a first acquaintance.
It becomes a different thing when natural modesty is encouraged by a
familiar goodness of heart; and a day's acquaintance with the Signor
Barrofaldi is as much as a year with an ordinary man."
"If this be the case, Sir Smees, I can readily understand, and as
willingly overlook what has passed," returned the vice-governatore, with
a self-complacency that in nothing fell short of that which Vito Viti
had so recently exhibited. "It must be painful to a sensitive mind to
feel the deficiencies which unavoidably accompany the want of
opportunities for study; and I at least can now say how delightful it is
to witness the ingenuousness which admits it. Then, if England has never
possessed a Cicero in name, doubtless she has had many in
qualifications, after allowing for the halo which time ever throws
around a reputation. Should your duty often call you this way, Signore,
during the summer, it will add to the pleasure I experience in enjoying
the advantage of your acquaintance, to be permitted, in some slight
degree, to direct your reading to such works as, with a mind like yours,
will be certain to lead to profit and pleasure."
Raoul made a suitable acknowledgment for this offer, and from that
moment the best understanding existed between the parties. The
privateersman, who had received a much better education than he
pretended to, and who was a consummate actor as well as, on certain
occasions, a practised flatterer, determined to be more cautious in
future, sparing his literary conjectures, whatever liberties he might
take with other subjects. And yet this reckless and daring mariner never
flattered nor deceived Ghita in anything! With her he had been all
sincerity, the influence he had obtained over the feelings of that
pure-minded girl being as much the result of the nature and real feeling
he had manifested, as of his manly appearance and general powers of
pleasing. It would have been, indeed, matter of interesting observation
for one curious in the study of human nature to note how completely the
girl's innocence and simplicity of character had extended itself over