Part 5 out of 9
"And thou look'st upon these opinions as unworthy--_unsuited_, if thou
lik'st that better--to this solemn moment, and considerest the _manner_
of a death a matter of indifference, even to a soldier?"
"When placed in comparison with his hopes of heaven--when viewed through
his own demerits, and the merits of his Saviour, grandfather."
"And wilt thou, then, just entering on the stage of life, with the world
before thee, and all that its future can offer, accompany me to the
scaffold; let it be known to the mocking crowd that thou derivest thy
being through the felon, and art not ashamed to own him for a parent?"
"I will, grandfather--this have I come to do," answered Ghita, steadily.
"But do not ask me to look upon thy sufferings! All that can be done to
lessen, by sharing thy disgrace, if disgrace it be, will I most gladly
do; though I dread to see thy aged form in pain!"
"And this wilt thou do for one thou never beheld'st until this
hour?--one thou canst hardly have been taught to consider just
"If I have never seen thee before this visit, grandfather, I have loved
thee and prayed for thee from infancy. My excellent uncle early taught
me this duty; but he never taught me to hate thee or any one. My own
father is taken away; and that which he would have been to thee this day
will I endeavor to be for him. The world is naught to me; and it will
console thee to think that one is near whose heart weeps for thee and
whose soul is lost in prayers for thy eternal pardon."
"And this being, father, is made known to me an hour before I die! God
punishes me sufficiently for the wrong I've done her, in letting me thus
know her worth, when it is too late to profit by it. No, Ghita--blessed
child, such a sacrifice shall not be asked of thee. Take this cross--it
was my mother's; worn on her bosom, and has long been worn on mine--keep
it as a memorial of thy unhappy parent, and pray for me; but quit this
terrible ship, and do not grieve thy gentle spirit with a scene that is
so unfit for thy sex and years. Bless thee--bless thee, my child. Would
to heaven I had earlier known thee--but even this glimpse of thy worth
has lightened my heart. Thou find'st me here a poor condemned criminal,
unable to provide for thy future wants--nay, I can yet do a little for
thee, too. This bag contains gold. It has been sent to me by a relative,
thinking it might be of service in averting the punishment that awaits
me. For that purpose it is now useless; with thy simple habits, however,
it will render thy life easy and above care."
Ghita, with streaming eyes, steadily put aside the gold, though she
pressed the cross to her bosom, kissing it fervently again and again.
"Not that--not that, grandfather," she said; "I want it not--wish it
not. This is enough; and this will I keep to my own last moment. I will
quit the ship, too; but not the place. I see many boats collecting, and
mine shall be among them; my prayers shall go up to God for thee, now
thou art living, and daily after thou art dead. There needs no gold,
grandfather, to purchase a daughter's prayers."
Don Francesco regarded the zealous and lovely girl with intense feeling;
then he folded her to his heart once more, blessing her audibly again
and again. While thus employed the Foudroyant's bell struck once, and
then those of all the surrounding ships, English and Neapolitan,
repeated the stroke. This, Caraccioli, a seaman himself, well knew
denoted that the time was half-past four; five being the hour named for
his execution. He felt it necessary, therefore, to dismiss his new-found
relative, that he might pass a few more minutes alone with his
confessor. The parting was solemn but tender, and as Ghita left the
cabin her condemned grandfather felt as he would had he taken leave for
ever of one whom he had long loved, and whose virtues had been a solace
to him from the hour of his birth.
The deck of the Minerva presented a sorrowful scene, Although the
prisoner had been condemned by a court of Neapolitan officers, the trial
was had under the British ensign, and the feeling of the public was with
the prisoner. There existed no necessity for the hurry in which
everything had been done; no immediate danger pressed, and an example
would have been more impressive had there been less of the appearance of
a desire for personal vengeance, and more of the calm deliberation of
justice in the affair. Ghita's connection with the prisoner could not be
even suspected; but as it was known that she had been in the cabin, and
believed that she felt an interest in the condemned, the officers
manifested an interest in her wishes and too evident emotions. An
immense throng of boats had assembled around the ship; for, hasty as had
been the proceedings, the tidings that Francesco Caraccioli was to be
hanged for treason spread like wildfire; and scarce a craft of proper
size was left within the mole, so eager was the desire to witness that
which was to occur. Either in the confusion, or bribed by money, the man
who had brought off Carlo Giuntotardi and his niece was no longer to be
found, and the means of quitting the ship seemed momentarily to be lost.
"Here is a boat close to our gangway," said the officer of the deck, who
had kindly interested himself in behalf of so interesting a girl, "with
a single man in it; a few grani would induce him to put you ashore."
The fellow in the boat was of the class of the lazzaroni, wearing a
clean cotton shirt, a Phrygian cap, and cotton trousers that terminated
at the knees, leaving his muscular arms and legs entirely bare; models
for the statuary, in their neatness, vigor, and proportions. The feet
alone formed an exception to the ordinary attire, for they were cased in
a pair of quaint canvas shoes that were ornamented a little like the
moccasins of the American Indian. Carlo caught the eye of this man, who
appeared to be eagerly watching the frigate's gangway for a fare, and
holding up a small piece of silver, in a moment the light boat was at
the foot of the accommodation-ladder. Ghita now descended; and as soon
as her uncle and she were seated, the skiff, for it was little more,
whirled away from the ship's side, though two or three more, who had
also been left by recreant boatmen for better fares, called out to him
to receive them also.
"We had best go alone, even though it cost us a heavier price," quietly
observed Carlo to his niece as he noted this occurrence. "Pull us a
short distance from the ship, friend;--here, where there are fewer
boats, and thou shalt meet with a fair reward. We have an interest in
this solemn scene, and could wish not to be observed."
"I know that well, Signor Carlo," answered the boatman; "and will see
that you are not molested."
Ghita uttered a faint exclamation, and, looking up, first saw that the
feigned lazzarone was no other than Raoul Yvard. As her uncle was too
unobservant in general to detect his disguise, he made a sign for her to
command herself, and continued rowing as if nothing had occurred.
"Be at ease, Ghita," said Carlo; "it is not yet the time, and we have
twenty good minutes for our aves."
Ghita, however, was far from being at ease. She felt all the risks that
the young man now ran, and she felt that it was on her account solely
that he incurred them. Even the solemn feeling of the hour and the
occasion was disturbed by his presence, and she wished he were away on
more accounts than one. Here he was, nevertheless, and in the midst of
enemies; and it would not have been in nature for one of her tender
years and sex, and, most of all, of her feelings, not to indulge in a
sentiment of tender gratitude toward him who had, as it were, thrust his
head into the very lion's mouth to do her a service. Between Raoul and
Ghita there had been no reserves on the subject of parentage, and the
former understood why his mistress was here, as well as the motive that
brought her. As for the last, she glanced timidly around her, fearful
that the lugger, too, had been brought into the throng of ships that
crowded the anchorage. For this, however, Raoul was much too wary,
nothing resembling his little craft being visible.
The reader will have understood that many vessels of war, English,
Russian, Turkish, and Neapolitan, were now anchored in the bay. As the
French still held the castle of St. Elmo, or the citadel that crowns the
heights, that in their turn crown the town, the shipping did not lie
quite as close to the mole as usual, lest a shot from the enemy above
might do them injury; but they were sufficiently near to permit all the
idle and curious of Naples, who had the hearts and the means, to pull
off and become spectators of the sad scene that was about to occur. As
the hour drew near, boat after boat arrived, until the Minerva was
surrounded with spectators, many of whom belonged even to the higher
classes of society.
The distance between the Neapolitan frigate and the ship of the English
rear-admiral was not great; and everything that occurred on board the
former, and which was not actually hidden by the sides and bulwarks of
the vessel itself, was easily to be seen from the decks of the latter.
Still the Foudroyant lay a little without the circle of boats; and in
that direction Raoul had pulled to avoid the throng, resting on his oars
when about a third of a cable's length from the British admiral's stern.
Here it was determined to wait for the awful signal and its fatal
consequences. The brief interval was passed by Ghita in telling her
beads, while Carlo joined in the prayers with the devotion of a zealot.
It is scarcely necessary to say that all this Raoul witnessed without
faith, though it would be doing injustice to his nature, as well as to
his love for Ghita, to say he did so without sympathy.
A solemn and expecting silence reigned in all the neighboring ships. The
afternoon was calm and sultry, the zephyr ceasing to blow earlier than
common, as if unwilling to disturb the melancholy scene with its
murmurs. On board the Minerva no sign of life--scarcely of death--- was
seen; though a single whip was visible, rigged to the fore-yard arm,
one end being led in-board, while the other ran along the yard, passed
through a leading block in its quarter, and descended to the deck. There
was a platform fitted on two of the guns beneath this expressive but
simple arrangement; but, as it was in-board, it was necessarily
concealed from all but those who were on the Minerva's decks. With these
preparations Raoul was familiar, and his understanding eye saw the
particular rope that was so soon to deprive Ghita of her grandfather;
though it was lost to her and her uncle among the maze of rigging by
which it was surrounded.
There might have been ten minutes passed in this solemn stillness,
during which the crowd of boats continued to collect; and the crews of
the different ships were permitted to take such positions as enabled
them to become spectators of a scene that it was hoped might prove
admonitory. It is part of the etiquette of a vessel of war to make her
people keep close; it being deemed one sign of a well-ordered ship to
let as few men be seen as possible, except on those occasions when duty
requires them to show themselves. This rigid rule, however, was
momentarily lost sight of, and the teeming masses that floated around La
Minerva gave up their thousands like bees clustering about their hives.
It was in the midst of such signs of expectation that the call of the
boatswain was heard piping the side on board the Foudroyant, and four
side-boys lay over on the accommodation-ladder, a mark of honor never
paid to one of a rank less than that of a captain. Raoul's boat was
within fifty yards of that very gangway, and he turned his head in idle
curiosity to see who might descend into the gig that was lying at the
foot of the long flight of steps. An officer with one epaulette came
first, showing the way to two civilians, and a captain followed. All
descended in a line and entered the boat. The next instant the oars
fell, and the gig whirled round under the Foudroyant's stern and came
glancing up toward his own skiff. Four or five of the strong man-of-war
jerks sufficed to send the long, narrow boat as far as was desired, when
the men ceased rowing, their little craft losing her way within ten feet
of the skiff occupied by our party, Then it was that Raoul, to his
surprise, discovered that the two civilians were no other than Andrea
Barrofaldi and Vito Viti, who had accompanied Cuffe and Griffin, their
companions in the gig, on a cruise, of which the express object was to
capture himself and his vessel.
Another man would have been alarmed at finding himself in such close
vicinity to his enemies; but Raoul Yvard was amused, rather than
rendered uneasy, by the circumstance. He had faith in his disguise; and
he was much too familiar with incidents of this sort not to retain his
self-command and composure. Of course he knew nothing of the persons of
the two Englishmen; but perfectly aware of the presence of the
Proserpine, he guessed at their identity, and very correctly imagined
the circumstances that brought companions so ill-assorted together. He
had taken no precautions to disguise his face; and the red Phrygian cap
which he wore, in common with thousands on that bay, left every feature
and lineament fully expressed. With Ghita, however, the case was
different. She was far better known to the two Elbans, as indeed was the
person of her uncle, than he was himself; but both had veiled their
faces in prayer.
"I do not half like this business, Griffin," observed the captain, as
his gig entirely lost its way; "and wish with all my heart we had
nothing to do with it. I knew this old Caraccioli, and a very good sort
of man he was; and as to treason, it is not easy to say who is and who
is not a traitor in times like these, in such a nation as this. Ha! I
believe my soul, this is the same old man and the same pretty girl that
came to see Nelson half an hour ago about this very execution?"
"What could _they_ have to do with Prince Caraccioli or his treason,
sir? The old chap looks bookish; but he is not a priest; and, as to the
girl, she is trim-built enough; I fancy the face is no great matter,
however, or she would not take so much pains to hide it."
Raoul muttered a "sacr-r-re," between his teeth, but he succeeded in
suppressing all outward expression of feeling. Cuffe, on the contrary,
saw no other motive for unusual discretion, beyond the presence of his
boat's crew, before whom, however, he was accustomed to less reserve
than with his people in general.
"If she be the same as the one we had in the cabin," he answered, "there
is no necessity for a veil; for a prettier or a more modest-looking girl
is not often fallen in with. What she wanted exactly is more than I can
tell you, as she spoke Italian altogether; and 'miladi' had the
interview pretty much to herself. But her good looks seem to have taken
with this old bachelor, the justice of the peace, who eyes her as if he
had an inclination to open his mind to the beauty. Ask him in Italian,
Griffin, what mare's nest he has run foul of now."
"You seem to have found something to look at besides the Minerva, Signor
Podesta," observed Griffin, in an undertone. "I hope it is not Venus."
"Cospetto!" grunted Vito Viti, nudging his neighbor, the
vice-governatore, and nodding toward the other boat; "if that be not
little Ghita, who came into our island like a comet and went out of
it--to what shall I liken her sudden and extraordinary disappearance,
"To that of le Feu-Follet, or ze Ving-y-Ving," put in Griffin, who, now
he had got the two functionaries fairly afloat, spared none of the jokes
that come so easy and natural to a man-of-war's man. "_She_ went out,
too, in an 'extraordinary disappearance,' and perhaps the lady and the
lugger went out together."
Vito Viti muttered an answer; for by this time he had discovered that he
was a very different personage on board the Proserpine from what the
other had appeared to consider him while in his native island. He might
have expressed himself aloud, indeed; but at that instant a column of
smoke glanced out of the bow port of the Minerva--a yellow flag was
shown aloft--and then came the report of the signal gun.
It has been said that vessels of war of four different nations were at
that time lying in the Bay of Naples. Nelson had come in but a short
time previously, with seventeen ships of the line; and he found several
more of his countrymen lying there. This large force had been assembled
to repel an expected attack on the island of Minorca; and it was still
kept together in an uncertainty of the future movements of the enemy. A
Russian force had come out of the Black Sea, to act against the French,
bringing with it a squadron of the Grand Signor; thus presenting to the
world the singular spectacle of the followers of Luther, devotees of the
Greek church, and disciples of Mahomet, uniting in defence of "our
rights, our firesides, and our altars!" To these vessels must be added a
small squadron of ships of the country; making a mixed force of four
different ensigns that was to witness the melancholy scene we are about
The yellow flag and the signal gun brought everything in the shape of
duty to a standstill in all the fleets. The hoarse commands ceased--the
boatswains and their mates laid aside their calls, and the echoing
midshipmen no longer found orders to repeat. The seamen gathered to the
sides of their respective vessels--every part glistened with expectant
eyes--the booms resembled clusters of bees suspended from the boughs of
a forest; and the knight-heads, taffrails, gangways, and stretchers of
the rigging were garnished with those whose bright buttons, glazed hats,
epaulets, and dark-blue dresses denoted to belong to the privileged
classes of a ship. Notwithstanding all this curiosity, nothing like the
feeling which is apt to be manifested at an exhibition of merited
punishment was visible in a single countenance. An expression resembling
a sombre gloom appeared to have settled on all those grim warriors of
the deep; English, Russian, Neapolitan, or Turk, apparently reserving
all his sympathies for the sufferer, rather than for the majesty of
justice. Still, no murmur arose--no sign of resistance was made--no look
of remonstrance given. The unseen mantle of authority covered all; and
these masses of discontented men submitted as we bow to what is believed
to be the fiat of fate. The deep-seated and unresisting habit of
discipline suppressed complaint, but there was a general conviction that
some act was about to be committed that it were better for humanity and
justice should not be done; or, if done at all, that it needed more of
form, greater deliberation and a fairer trial, to be so done as to
obtain the commendation of men. The Turks alone showed apathy; though
all showed submission. These subjects of destiny looked on coldly,
though even among them a low rumor had passed that a malign influence
prevailed in the fleet; and that a great and proud spirit had got to be
mastered by the passion that so often deprives heroes of their
self-command and independence.
Ghita ceased her prayers, as the report of the gun broke rudely on her
ears, and with streaming eyes she even dared to look toward the frigate.
Raoul and all the rest bent their gaze in the same direction. The
sailors, among them, saw the rope at the fore-yard-arm move, and then
heads rose slowly above the hammock-cloths; when the prisoner and his
attendant priest were visible even to their feet. The unfortunate
Caraccioli, as has been said, had nearly numbered his threescore and ten
years, in the regular course of nature; and his bare head now showed the
traces of time. He wore no coat; and his arms were bound behind his
back, at the elbows, leaving just motion enough to the hands to aid him
in the slighter offices about his own person. His neck was bare, and the
fatal cord was tightened sufficiently around it to prevent accidents,
constantly admonishing its victim of its revolting office.
A low murmur arose among the people in the boats as this spectacle
presented itself to their eyes; and many bowed their faces in prayer.
The condemned man caught a ray of consolation from this expression of
sympathy; and he looked around him an instant, with something like a
return of those feelings of the world which it had been his effort and
his desire totally to eradicate since he had taken, leave of Ghita, and
learned that his last request--that of changing his mode of
punishment--had been denied. That was a fearful moment for one like Don
Francesco Caraccioli, who had passed a long life in the midst of the
scene that surrounded him--illustrious by birth, affluent, honored for
his services, and accustomed to respect and deference. Never had the
glorious panorama of the bay appeared more lovely than it did at that
instant, when he was about to quit it for ever, by a violent and
disgraceful death. From the purple mountains--the cerulean void above
him--the blue waters over which he seemed already to be suspended--and
the basking shores, rich in their towns, villas, and vines, his eye
turned toward the world of ships, each alive with its masses of living
men. A glance of melancholy reproach was cast upon the little flag that
was just waving at the mizzen-masthead of the Foudroyant; and then it
fell on the carpet of faces beneath, that seemed fairly to change the
surface of the smooth sea into an arena of human countenances. His look
was steady, though his soul was in a tumult. Ghita was recognized by her
companion and by her dress. He moved toward the edge of his narrow
scaffolding, endeavored to stretch forth his arms, and blessed her again
aloud. The poor girl dropped on her knees in the bottom of the boat,
bowed her head, and in that humble attitude did she remain until all was
over; not daring once to look upward again.
"Son," said the priest, "this is a moment when the earth and its
feelings must be forgotten."
"I know it, father," answered the old man, his voice trembling with
emotion, for his sensations were too powerful, too sublime, even, for
the degrading passion of fear--"but never before did this fair piece of
the creation seem so lovely in my eyes as now, when I am about to quit
it for the last time."
"Look beyond this scene, into the long vista of eternity, son; there
thou wilt behold that which mocks at all human, all earthly means. I
fear that our time is but short--hast thou aught yet to say in
"Let it be known, holy priest, that in my dying moment I prayed for
Nelson, and for all who have been active in bringing me to this end. It
is easy for the fortunate and the untempted to condemn; but he is wiser,
as he is safer, who puts more reliance on the goodness of God than on
his own merits."
A ray of satisfaction gleamed athwart the pale countenance of the
priest--a sincerely pious man, or fear of personal consequences might
have kept him aloof from such a scene--and he closed his eyes while he
expressed his gratitude to God in the secret recesses of his own spirit.
Then he turned to the prince and spoke cheeringly.
"Son," he said, "if thou quittest life with a due dependence on the Son
of God, and in this temper toward thy fellow-creatures, of all this
living throng thou art he who is most to be envied! Address thy soul in
prayer once more to Him who thou feelest can alone serve thee."
Caraccioli, aided by the priest, knelt on the scaffold; for the rope
hung loose enough to permit that act of humiliation, and the other bent
at his side.
"I wish to God Nelson had nothing to do with this!" muttered Cuffe, as
he turned away his face, inadvertently bending his eyes on the
Foudroyant, nearly under the stern of which ship his gig lay. There, in
the stern-walk, stood the lady, already mentioned in this chapter, a
keen spectator of the awful scene. No one but a maid was near her,
however; the men of her companionship not being of moods stern enough
to be at her side. Cuffe turned away from this sight in still stronger
disgust; and just at that moment a common cry arose from the boats.
Looking round, he was just in time to see the unfortunate Caraccioli
dragged from his knees by the neck, until he rose, by a steady
man-of-war pull, to the end of the yard; leaving his companion alone on
the scaffold, lost in prayer. There was a horrible minute of the
struggles between life and death, when the body, so late the tenement of
an immortal spirit, hung, like one of the jewel-blocks of the ship,
dangling passively at the end of the spar, as insensible as the wood
which sustained it.
"Sleep, sleep, thou sad one, on the sea;
The wash of waters lulls thee now;
His arm no more will pillow thee,
Thy hand upon his brow;
He is not near, to hurt thee, or to save:
The ground is his--the sea must be thy grave."
A long summer's evening did the body of Francesco Caraccioli hang
suspended at the yard-arm of the Minerva; a revolting spectacle to his
countrymen and to most of the strangers who had been the witnesses of
his end. Then was it lowered into a boat, its feet loaded with a
double-headed shot, and it was carried out a league or more into the bay
and cast into the sea. The revolting manner in which it rose to the
surface and confronted its destroyers a fortnight later has passed into
history; and, to this day, forms one of the marvels related by the
ignorant and wonder-loving of that region. As for Ghita, she
disappeared no one knew how; Vito Viti and his companions being too
much absorbed with the scene to note the tender and considerate manner
in which Raoul rowed her off from a spectacle that could but be replete
with horrors to one so situated. Cuffe himself stood but a few minutes
longer; but he directed his boat's crew to pull alongside of the
Proserpine. In half an hour after the execution took place this frigate
was aweigh; and then she was seen standing out of the bay, before a
light air, covered with canvas from her truck to her hammock-cloths.
Leaving her for the moment, we will return to the party in the skiff.
 Singular as was this occurrence, and painful as it must have proved
to the parties to the execution, it is one of the simplest consequences
of natural causes. All animal matter swells in water previously to
turning corrupt. A body that has became of twice its natural size, in
this manner, as a matter of course, displaces twice the usual quantity
of water; the _weight_ of the mass remaining the same. Most human frames
floating, in their natural state, so long as the lungs are inflated with
air, it follows that one in this condition would bring up with it as
much weight in iron, as made the difference between its own gravity and
that of the water it displaced. The upright attitude of Caraccioli was
owing to the shot attached to the feet; of which, it _is_ also probable,
one or two had become loosened.
Neither Carlo Giuntotardi nor Ghita Caraccioli--for so we must continue
to call the girl, albeit the name is much too illustrious to be borne by
one of her humble condition in life--but neither of these two had any
other design, in thus seeking out the unfortunate admiral, than to
perform what each believed to be a duty. As soon as the fate of
Caraccioli was decided, both were willing to return to their old
position in life; not that they felt ashamed to avow their connection
with the dead, but because they were quite devoid of any of that worldly
ambition which renders rank and fortune necessary to happiness.
When he left the crowd of boats, Raoul pulled toward the rocks which
bound the shores of the bay, near the gardens of Portici. This was a
point sufficiently removed from the common anchorage to be safe from
observation; and yet so near as to be reached in considerably less than
an hour. As the light boat proceeded Ghita gradually regained her
composure. She dried her eyes and looked around her inquiringly, as if
wondering whither their companion was taking them.
"I will not ask you, Raoul, why you are here at a moment like this, and
whence you have come," she said; "but I may ask whither you are now
carrying us? Our home is at St. Agata, on the heights above Sorrento,
and on the other side of the bay. We come there annually to pass a month
with my mother's sister, who asks this much of our love."
"If I did not know all this, Ghita, I would not and could not be here. I
have visited the cottage of your aunt this day; followed you to Naples,
heard of the admiral's trial and sentence, understood how it would
affect your feelings, traced you on board the English admiral's ship,
and was in waiting as you found me; having first contrived to send away
the man who took you off. All this has come about as naturally as the
feeling which has induced me to venture again into the lion's mouth."
"The pitcher that goes often to the well, Raoul, gets broken at last,"
said Ghita, a little reproachfully, though it surpassed her power to
prevent the tones of tenderness from mingling with her words.
"You know all, Ghita. After months of perseverance and a love such as
man seldom felt before, you deliberately and coldly refused to be my
wife;--nay, you have deserted Monte Argentaro purposely to get rid of my
importunities; for there I could go with the lugger at any moment; and
have come here, upon this bay, crowded with the English and other
enemies of France, fancying that I would not dare to venture hither.
Well, you see with what success; for neither Nelson nor his two-deckers
can keep Raoul Yvard from the woman he loves, let him be as victorious
and skilful as he may!"
The sailor had ceased rowing, to give vent to his feelings in this
speech, neither of the two colloquists regarding the presence of
Giuntotardi any more than if he had been a part of themselves. This
indifference to the fact that a third person was a listener proceeded
from habit, the worthy scholar and religionist being usually too
abstracted to attend to concerns as light as love and the youthful
affections. Ghita was not surprised either at the reproaches of her
suitor or at his perseverance; and her conscience told her he uttered
but the truth, in attributing to her the motives he had, in urging her
uncle to make their recent change of residence; for, while a sense of
duty had induced her to quit the towers, her art was not sufficient to
suggest the expediency of going to any other abode than that which she
was accustomed to inhabit periodically, and about which Raoul knew, from
her own innocent narrations, nearly as much as she knew herself.
"I can say no more than I have said already," the thoughtful girl
answered, after Raoul had begun again to row. "It is better on every
account that we should part. I cannot change my country; nor can you
desert that glorious republic of which you feel so proud. I am an
Italian, and you are French; while, more than all, I worship my God,
while you believe in the new opinions of your own nation. Here are
causes enough for separation surely, however favorably and kindly we may
happen to think of each other in general."
"Tell me not any more of the heart of an Italian girl, and of her
readiness to fly to the world's end with the man of her choice!"
exclaimed Raoul, bitterly. "I can find a thousand girls in Languedoc who
would make the circuit of the earth yearly rather than be separated a
day from the seamen they have chosen for their husbands."
"Then look among the girls of Languedoc for a wife," answered Ghita,
with a smile so melancholy that it contradicted her words. "Better to
take one of your own nation and opinions, Raoul, than risk your
happiness with a stranger, who might not answer all your hopes when you
came to know her better."
"We will not talk further of this now, dearest Ghita; my first care must
be to carry you back to the cottage of your aunt--unless indeed you will
at once embark in le Feu-Follet and return to the towers?"
"Le Feu-Follet!--she is hardly here, in the midst of a fleet of her
enemies!--Remember, Raoul, your men will begin to complain if you place
them too often in such risks to gratify your own wishes."
"_Peste!_--I keep them in good humor by rich prizes. They have been
successful; and that which makes yonder Nelson popular and a great man
makes Raoul Yvard popular and a great man also in his little way. My
crew is like its captain--it loves adventures and it loves success."
"I do not see the lugger--among a hundred ships, there is no sign of
"The Bay of Napoli is large, Ghita," returned Raoul, laughing; "and le
Feu-Follet takes but little room. See-yonder vaisseaux-de-ligne appear
trifling among these noble mountains and on this wide gulf; you cannot
expect my little lugger to make much show. We are small, Ghita mia, if
"Still, where there are so many vigilant eyes, there is always danger,
Raoul! Besides, a lugger is an unusual rig, as you have owned to me
"Not here, among all these eastern craft. I have always found, if I
wished to be unnoticed, it was best to get into a crowd; whereas he who
lives in a village lives in open daylight. But we will talk of these
things when alone, Ghita--yonder fisherman is getting ready to
By this time the skiff was near the shore, where a little yawl was
anchored, containing a solitary fisherman. This man was examining them
as they approached; and, recognizing Raoul, he was gathering in his
lines and preparing to raise his grapnel. In a few minutes the two craft
lay side by side; and then, though not without difficulty, owing to a
very elaborate disguise, Ghita recognized Ithuel Bolt. A very few words
sufficed to let the American into all that it was necessary he should
know, when the whole party made its arrangements to depart. The skiff
which Raoul, having found it lying on the beach, had made free with
without leave, he anchored, in the full expectation that its right owner
might find it some day or other; while its cargo was transferred to the
yawl, which was one of the lugger's own attendants. The latter was a
light, swift-pulling little boat, admirably constructed and fit to live
in a sea-way; requiring, moreover, but two good oars, one of which Raoul
undertook to pull himself, while Ithuel managed the other. In five
minutes after the junction was made the party was moving again from the
land in a straight line across the bay, steering in the direction of its
southern cape, and proceeding with the steady, swift movement of men
accustomed to the toil.
There are few portions of the sea in which a single ship or boat is an
object of so little notice as the Bay of Naples. This is true of all
times and seasons; the magnificent scale on which nature has created her
panorama rendering ordinary objects of comparative insignificance; while
the constant movement, the fruit of a million of souls thronging around
its teeming shores, covers it in all directions with boats, almost as
the streets of a town are crowded with pedestrians. The present
occasion, too, was one likely to set everything in motion; and Raoul
judged rightly when he thought himself less likely to be observed in
such a scene than on a smaller and less frequented water. As a matter of
course, while near the mole, or the common anchorage, it was necessary
to pass amid a floating throng; but, once beyond the limits of this
crowd, the size of the bay rendered it quite easy to avoid unpleasant
collisions without any apparent effort; while the passage of a boat in
any direction was an occurrence too common to awaken distrust. One would
think no more of questioning a craft that was encountered, even in the
centre of that spacious bay, than he would think of inquiring about the
stranger met in the market-place. All this both Raoul and Ithuel knew
and felt; and once in motion, in their yawl, they experienced a sense of
security that for the four or five previous hours had not
By this time the sun was low, though it was possible, as Raoul
perceived, to detect the speck that was still swinging at the Minerva's
fore-yard-arm; a circumstance to which the young man, with considerate
feeling, refrained from adverting. The Proserpine had been some time in
motion, standing out of the fleet under a cloud of canvas, but with an
air so light as to permit the yawl to gain on her, though the heads of
both were turned in the same direction. In this manner mile after mile
was passed, until darkness came. Then the moon arose, rendering the bay
less distinct, it is true, but scarcely more mysterious or more lovely,
than in the hours of stronger light. The gulf, indeed, forms an
exception in this particular to the general rule, by the extent of its
shores, the elevation of its mountains, the beauty of its water--which
has the deep tint of the ocean off soundings--and the softness of the
atmosphere; lending to it by day all the mellowed and dreamy charms that
other scenes borrow from the illusions of night and the milder
brilliance of the secondary planets. Raoul did not exert himself at the
oar; and, as he sat aft, his companion was obliged to take the stroke
from his movement. It was so pleasant to have Ghita with him, on his own
element, that he never hurried himself while in the enjoyment of her
society. The conversation, it will readily be imagined, was not lively;
but the saddened melancholy of Ghita's voice, as she occasionally
hazarded a remark of her own, or answered one of his questions, sounded
sweeter in his ears than the music of the ship's bands that was now
wafted to them across the water.
As the evening advanced the land-breeze increased, and the Proserpine
gradually gained upon the boat. When the latter was about two-thirds of
the distance across the bay, the frigate caught the stronger current
that came down athwart the campagna, between Vesuvius and the mountains
behind Castel-a-Mare, when she drove ahead fast. Her sails, as seamen
express it, were all asleep; or swelled outward without collapsing; and
her rate of sailing was between five and six miles in the hour. This
brought them up with the boat hand-over-hand, as it is called; and
Ghita, at Raoul's request, put the helm aside, in order that they might
get out of the way of the huge body that was approaching. It would seem
that there was some design on the part of the ship in coming so near,
for she made a sheer toward the yawl in a way to frighten the timid
helmswoman and to induce her to relinquish her hold of the tiller.
"Fear nothing," called out Griffin, in Italian--"we intend to offer you
a tow. Stand by and catch the line--Heave!"
A small rope was thrown; and, falling directly across Ithuel's head,
that person could do no less than seize it. With all his detestation of
the English in general, and of this vessel in particular, the
man-of-all-work had the labor-saving propensity of his countrymen; and
it struck him as a good thing to make a "king's ship" aid an enemy's
privateer by accepting the offer. As he used the line with proper
dexterity, the yawl was soon towing on the quarter of the frigate; Raoul
taking the helm and giving the boat the sheer necessary to prevent her
dragging in alongside. This was a change so sudden and so totally
unexpected that Ghita murmured her disapprobation, lest it should lead
to a discovery of the true character of her companions.
"Fear nothing, dearest," answered Raoul, "they cannot suspect us; and we
may learn something useful by being here. At all events, le Feu-Follet
is safe from their designs, just at this moment."
"Are you boatmen of Capri?" called out Griffin, who stood on the
taffrail of the ship, with Cuffe and the two Italians near by; the first
dictating the questions his lieutenant put.
"S'nore, si," answered Raoul, adopting the patois of the country as well
as he could and disguising his deep mellow voice by speaking on a high
shrill key. "Boatmen of Capri, that have been to Napoli with wine, and
have been kept out later than we intended by the spectacle at the
yard-arm of the Minerva. Cospetto! them signori make no more of a prince
than we do of a quail in the season, on our little island. Pardon me,
dearest Ghita; but we _must_ throw dust into their eyes."
"Has any strange sail been seen about your island within the last
"The bay is full of strange sail, S'nore; even the Turks coming to see
us, since the last trouble with the French."
"Aye--but the Turks are now your allies, like us English. Have you seen
any other strangers?"
"They tell me there are ships from the far north, too, S'nore, off the
town. Russians, I believe, they call them."
"They, too, are allies; but I mean enemies. Has there not been a lugger
seen off your island within the last day or two--a lugger of
"Si--si--I know what you mean now, S'nore; there _has_ been a vessel
like that you mention off the island; for I saw her with my own
eyes--si--si. It was about the twenty-third hour last evening--a lugger,
and we all said she must be French by her wicked looks."
"Raoul!" said Ghita, as if reproaching him for an indiscretion.
"This is the true way to befog them," answered the young man; "they have
certainly heard of us; and by seeming to tell a little truth frankly it
will give me an opportunity of telling more untruth."
"Ah, Raoul, it is a sad life that renders untruths necessary!"
"It is the art of war, dearest; without it we should soon be outwitted
by these knaves of English. Si--si, S'nori; we all said just that
concerning her looks and rig."
"Will you sheer your boat alongside, friend," inquired Griffin, "and
come on board of us? We have a ducat here that wants an owner; I fancy
it will fit your pocket as well as another's. We will haul you ahead,
abreast of the gangway."
"Oh, Raoul, do not think of this rash act!" whispered Ghita; "the
vice-governatore or the podesta will recollect you; and then all will
"Fear nothing, Ghita--a good cause and a keen wit will carry me through;
while the least hesitation might, indeed, ruin us. These English first
ask, and then take without asking, if you tell them no. Corpo di Bacco!
who ever heard, either, of a lazzarone's refusing a ducat!"
Raoul then whispered a few words to Ithuel, when, the boat being by this
time far enough ahead, he gave it a sheer alongside of the ship, seized
a man-rope, and went up the cleets as actively as a cat. It is certain
not a soul on board that fine frigate had the least suspicion of the
true character of the individual who now confidently trod her
quarter-deck. The young man himself loved the excitement of such an
adventure, and he felt the greater confidence in his impunity, from the
circumstance that there was no other light than that of the moon. The
sails, too, cast their shadows upon deck; and then, neither of the two
Italians was a wizard at detecting impostors, as he knew by experience.
The watch was set for the night, and Winchester, who had returned to
duty, held the trumpet, while Griffin had no other immediate office but
to interpret. Two or three midshipmen were lounging about the
quarter-deck; here and there a seaman was on the lookout, at the
halyards, or on a cathead; some twenty or thirty old sea-dogs were
pacing the gangways or the forecastle, with their arms crossed and hands
stuck in their jackets; and a quick-eyed, active quartermaster stood
near the man at the wheel, conning the ship. The remainder of the watch
had stowed themselves between the guns or among the booms, in readiness
to act, but in truth dozing. Cuffe, Griffin, and the two Italians
descended from the taffrail and awaited the approach of the supposed
lazzarone or boatman of Capri, as he was now believed to be, near the
stern of the vessel. By an arrangement among themselves, Vito Viti
became the spokesman; Griffin translating to the captain all that passed
in an undertone as soon as it was uttered.
"Come hither, friend," commenced the podesta, in a patronizing but
somewhat lofty manner; "this generous and noble English captain, Sir
Kooffe, desires me to present you with a ducat, by way of showing that
he asks no more of you than he is willing to pay for, A ducat is a
great deal of money, as you know; and good pay merits good services."
 The silver ducat of Naples is worth 80 grani, or rather less than 80
cents: the golden ducat, or sequin, of Italy, Holland, Turkey, etc., is
worth a trifle more than two American dollars. Raoul was offered
"S'nore, si; your eccellenza says the truth; a good ducat certainly
deserves good services."
"Bene. Now, tell these signori all you know about that said lugger;
where you saw her; when you saw her; and what she was about. Keep your
mind clear and tell us one thing at a time."
"S'nore, si. I will keep my mind clear and tell you no more than one
thing at a time. I believe, eccellenza, I am to begin with _where_ I saw
her; then I'm to tell you _when_ I saw her; after which you wish to know
what she was about. I believe this is the way you put it, S'nore?"
"Excellently well; answer in that order, and you will make yourself
understood. But first tell me--do all the natives of Capri speak the
same sort of Italian as you do yourself, friend?"
"S'nore, si--though my mother having been a French woman, they tell me
that I have caught a little from her. We all get something from our
mothers, eccellenza; and it's a pity we could not keep more of it."
"True, friend; but now for the lugger. Remember that honorable signori
will hear what you say; therefore, for your own credit, speak to the
point; and speak nothing but truth, for the love of God."
"Then, S'nore, first as to _where_ I saw her--does your eccellenza mean
where I was at the time, or where the lugger was?"
"Where the lugger was, fellow. Dost think Sir Kooffe cares where thou
spent thy day!"
"Well, then, eccellenza, the lugger was near the Island of Capri, on the
side next the Mediterranean, which you know, S'nore, is on the side
opposite to the bay and near, as might be, abreast of the house of
Giacomo Alberti--does your eccellenza know anything of the house
"Not I; but tell your story as if I knew all about it. It is these
particulars which give value to a tale. How far from the nearest land?
Mention that fact, by all means, if you happen to remember."
"Well, eccellenza, could the distance be measured, now I would think it
would prove to be about as far--not quite, S'nore, but, I say,
_about_--about as far as from the said Giacomo's largest fig-tree to the
vines of Giovanni, his wife's cousin. Si--I think, just about that
"And how far may that be, friend? Be precise, as much may depend on your
"S'nore, that may be a trifle further than it is from the church to the
top of the stairs that lead to Ana Capri."
"Cospetto!--Thou wilt earn thy ducat speedily at this rate! Tell us at
once in miles; was the lugger one, two, six, or twenty miles from your
island at the time thou speak'st of?"
"Eccellenza, you bid me speak of the _time_, in the second place; after
I had told you of the _where_, in the first place. I wish to do whatever
will give you pleasure, S'nore."
"Neighbor Vito Viti," put in the vice-governatore, "it may be well to
remember that this matter is not to be recorded as you would put on file
the confessions of a thief; it may be better to let the honest boatman
tell his story in his own way."
"Aye, now the vecchy has set to work, I hope we shall get the worth of
our ducat," observed Cuffe, in English.
"S'nori," rejoined Raoul, "it shall be just as your eccellenzi say. The
lugger you speak of was off the island last evening, steering toward
Ischia; which place she must have reached in the course of the night, as
there was a good land-wind from the twenty-third to the fifth hour."
"This agrees with our account as to the time and place," said Griffin;
"but not at all as to the direction the corsair was steering. We hear
she was rather rounding the southern cape for the Gulf of Salerno."
Raoul started, and gave thanks mentally that he had come on board, as
this statement showed that his enemies had received only too accurate
information of his recent movements. He had hopes, however, of being
able yet to change their intentions and of putting them on a
"S'nori," he said, "I should like to know who it is that mistakes
southeast for northwest. None of our pilots or boatmen, I should think,
could ever make so great a blunder. S'nore, you are an officer and
understand such things; and I will just ask you if Ischia does not lie
northwest of Capri?"
"Of that fact there can be no manner of doubt," returned Griffin; "it is
equally true that the Gulf of Salerno lies southeast of both--"
"There, now!" interrupted Raoul, with a well-acted assumption of vulgar
triumph; "I knew your eccellenza, when you came to look into it, would
see the folly of saying that a vessel which was standing from Capri
toward Ischia was going on any other course than northwest!"
"But this is not the question, amico. We all understand the bearings of
these islands, which are the bearings of the whole coast down here-away;
but the question is, which way the lugger was steering?"
"I thought I had said, eccellenza, that she was heading across toward
Ischia," answered Raoul, with an air of obtuse innocence.
"If you do, you give an account exactly different from that which has
been sent to the admiral by the good bishop of your own island. May I
never eat another of his own quails if I think _he_ would deceive us;
and it is not easy to suppose a man like him does not know north
Raoul inwardly muttered a malediction on all priests; a class of men
which, rightly enough, he believed to be united in their hostility to
France. But it would not do to express this in his assumed character;
and he affected to listen, as one of his class ought to give ear to a
fact that came from his spiritual father.
"North from south, eccellenza! Monsignore knows a great deal more than
that, if the truth were said; though, I suppose, these noble signori are
acquainted with the right reverend father's great infirmity?"
"Not we--none of us, I fancy, ever had the honor to be in his company.
Surely, fellow, your bishop is a man of truth?"
"Truth!--Yes, eccellenza, so true is he that if he were to tell me that
the thing I saw myself had not and could not happen, I should rather
believe Monsignore than believe my own eyes. Still, Signori, eyes are
_something_; and as the right reverend father has _none_, or what are as
bad as none, for any use they can be in looking at a vessel half a mile
off, he may not always see what he thinks he sees. When Monsignore tells
us that so and so is Gospel, we all believe it, for we know the time has
been when he _could_ read; but we never think of going to his door to
ask which way a ship is steering, having the use of our own senses."
"Can this fellow tell us the truth, Griffin?" asked Cuffe, a good deal
mystified by Raoul's artifice and his assumed simplicity. "If so, we
shall be going exactly on the wrong scent by hauling round Campanella
and running into the Gulf of Salerno. The French hold Gaeta yet, and it
is quite likely that Master Yvard may wish to keep a friendly port open
under his lee!"
"You forget, Captain Cuffe, that his lordship has sent a light cruiser
already up that way, and le Feu-Follet would hardly dare to show herself
near one of our regular fellows--"
"Umph!--I don't know that, Mr. Griffin; I don't exactly know that. The
Proserpine is a 'regular fellow,' after a fashion, at least; and the
Few-Folly has dared to show herself to _her_. Jack-o'-Lantern--D--n me,
Griffin, but I think she is well named now, I'd rather chase a
jack-o'-lantern in the Island of Sicily than be hunting after such a
chap;--first he's here; then he's there; and presently he's nowhere. As
for the sloop, she's gone south, at my suggestion, to look into the bays
along the Calabrian coast. I told Nelson I wanted another ship; for,
just so certain as this Rule--Raw-owl, what the d--- l do you call the
"Raoul, Captain Cuffe; Raoul Yvard is his name. 'Tis thoroughly French.
Raoul means Rodolph."
"Well, I told Nelson if this lad should get to dodging round one of the
islands we might as well set about playing 'puss in the corner' by the
week as to think of driving him off the land for a fair chase. He works
his boat like a stagecoach turning into an inn-yard!"
"I wonder my lord did not think of this and give us a sloop or two to
"Catch Nel. at that!--He might send one Englishman to look after two
Frenchmen; but he'd never dream of sending two Englishmen to look after
"But this is not a fighting matter, sir; only a chase--and one Frenchman
will run faster than two Englishmen any day of the week."
"_Sa-c-r-r-r-e,"_ muttered Raoul, in a tone that he endeavored to
suppress, and which was inaudible to all ears but those of Andrea
Barrofaldi; the vice-governatore happening to stand nearer his person
just at that moment than any other of the party.
"Very true," answered Cuffe; "but so it is. We are sent alone; and if
this Few-Folly get in between Ischia and Procida, it will be easier to
unearth the fox than to drive her out single-handed. As for any more
boat service against her, I suppose you've all had enough of _that?_"
"Why, sir, I rather think the people would be shy," answered Griffin,
with a little hesitation of manner, and yet with the directness and
simplicity of a truly brave man. "We must let them get over the last
brush before they are depended on much for any new set-to of that sort."
"_Bon!_" muttered Raoul, quite unconscious he was overheard.
"Nevertheless, we must catch this fellow if we wear out our shoes in the
All this time Andrea Barrofaldi and Vito Viti were profoundly ignorant
of what was passing between the two officers, though Raoul listened
eagerly and so well understood every syllable they uttered. Until this
moment the vice governatore had been rather indifferent and inattentive
as to what occurred; but the two exclamations of Raoul awakened a vague
distrust in his mind, which, while it had no direct object, was
certainly pregnant with serious consequences to the Frenchman himself.
Deep mortification at the manner in which they had been duped by this
celebrated privateersman, with a desire to absent themselves from the
island until the edge was a little taken off the ridicule they both felt
they merited, blended with certain longings to redeem their characters,
by assisting in capturing the corsair, were the reasons why these two
worthies, the deputy-governor and the podesta, were now on board the
Proserpine. Cuffe had offered them cots in his cabin and seats at his
table in a moment of confidence; and the offer was gladly accepted.
Andrea had not been on board the ship a day, however, before he became
thoroughly convinced of his utter uselessness; a circumstance that
added materially to the awkwardness of his situation. Like all
well-meaning and simple-minded men, he had a strong wish to be doing;
and day and night he ruminated on the means by himself, or discussed
them in private dialogues with his friend the podesta. Vito Viti frankly
admonished him to put his faith in heaven, affirming that something
worth while would yet turn up in the cruise to render the enterprise
memorable; it being a habit with the magistrate to say an ave or two on
all trying occasions, and then trust to God.
"You never knew a miracle, vice-governatore," said Vito Viti one day,
when they were discussing the matter by themselves; "you never knew a
miracle come to pass that another was not close on its heels; the first
being a mere preparation for the last, and the last always proving to be
the most remarkable. Now, when Anina Gotti fell off the cliffs, it was a
miracle she didn't break her neck; but, when she rolled over into the
sea, it was a much greater she wasn't drowned!"
"It is better to leave these things to the church, neighbor Vito," was
the vice-governatore's answer; "nor do I see that there has been any
miracle in the affair to start with."
"How!--Do you not call it a miracle, Signor Andrea, that two such men as
you and I should be deceived, as we were beyond all doubt, by this knave
of a French corsair? I look upon it as so great a miracle myself, that
it ought to follow instead of going before its companion."
To this Andrea made an answer suitable to his greater information, and
the discourse took its usual direction toward the means of doing
something to relieve the two functionaries from the stigma that they
mutually felt now rested on their sagacity, and that, too, as this
sagacity might be considered conjointly or individually.
It was probably owing to this fever of the mind that the
vice-governatore, a man usually so simple and confiding, was now so
suspicious and keen-sighted. The presence of Carlo Giuntotardi and Ghita
had at first struck him as a little out of the common way; and though
he could not distinguish their faces by the light of the moon and at the
distance at which they were placed in the yawl, he fancied from the
first that his old acquaintances were in the boat the ship was towing.
Now Andrea Barrofaldi certainly had never before that day connected
Ghita or her uncle in any manner with Raoul Yvard; but it was beyond
dispute that the mysterious manner in which they disappeared from the
island had excited some remarks; and in his present state of mind it was
not an extraordinary circumstance that he had some distant and vague
glimmerings of the truth. But for Raoul's indiscreet exclamations,
however, nothing probably would have come of these indistinct fancies;
and we are to refer all that followed to those unguarded outbreakings of
the Frenchman's humor, rather than to any very clear process of
ratiocination on the part of the vice-governatore.
Just as Cuffe made the declaration last recorded, Andrea stepped up to
the spot where he and Griffin were conversing apart and whispered a few
words in the ear of the latter.
"The d--l!" exclaimed the lieutenant, in English. "If what the
vice-governatore tells me be true, Captain Cuffe, the work is half done
to our hands!"
"Aye, the veechy is a good fellow at the bottom, Griffin; though he'll
never burn the bay of Naples. What has he to say now?"
Griffin led his captain a little aside and conferred a moment with him
alone. Orders were then passed to the officer of the watch, when Cuffe
and his companions went below like men in a hurry.
"What countryman, I pray?"
"Of Mantua, Sir?--marry, God forbid
And come to Papua, careless of your life?"
_Taming of the Shrew_.
During the momentous five minutes occupied in these private movements,
Raoul affected to be gaping about in vulgar astonishment, examining the
guns, rigging, ornaments of the quarter-deck, etc.; though, in truth,
nothing that passed among those near him escaped his vigilant attention.
He was uneasy at the signs of the times, and now regretted his own
temerity; but still he thought his incognito must be impenetrable. Like
most persons who fancy they speak a foreign language well, he was
ignorant, too, in how many little things he betrayed himself; the
Englishman, _cateris paribus,_ usually pronouncing the Italian better
than the Frenchman, on account of the greater affinity between his
native language and that of Italy, in what relates to emphasis and
sounds. Such was the state of mind of our hero then, as he got an
intimation that the captain of the ship wished to see him below. Raoul
observed as he descended the ladder, to comply with what sounded very
much like an order, that he was followed by the two Elban functionaries.
The cabin-lamp was trimmed, and the privateersman found himself under a
strong light as soon as he had crossed the threshold of the apartment.
Cuffe and Griffin were standing near the table, where the
vice-governatore and the podesta took their stations also; giving the
whole arrangement a most uncomfortable air of investigation and justice.
For an instant Raoul wished that it was a portion of the Holy
Inquisition, rather than the tribunal before which he now found himself
so unexpectedly arraigned.
"You must be cool," said Griffin, as the other moved slowly up to the
table, maintaining the outward signs of steadiness, but cursing in his
heart the severe ordeal which he felt he was undergoing; "do me the
favor to put this silk handkerchief about your neck."
"S'nore, your eccellenza is pleased to joke; we men of Capri think
little of the nights at this season of the year--still, as it seems to
be your wish, I will honor myself so much."
In that age a black silk kerchief was the certain mark of a military
man. The old-fashioned stock had gone out with all but old-fashioned
people, and the new-fashioned substitute did not make its appearance
until many years later; the present usage, indeed, having come in from
an imitation of the military mania which pervaded Christendom at the
close of the last general war. Black around the neck, properly relieved
by the white of the linen, was then deemed particularly military; and
even in the ordinary dress, such a peculiarity was as certain a sign as
the cockade that the wearer bore arms. Raoul knew this, and he felt he
was aiding in unmasking himself by complying; but he thought there might
be greater danger should he refuse to assume the kerchief.
"Your eccellenza is making a prince of a very humble boatman," he said,
when his neck was fairly enveloped; "and my wife will think some great
general is coming, when I enter the door."
"To help the delusion, friend, wear this also," continued Griffin,
throwing the other one of his own undress uniform coats, his stature and
that of Raoul being very nearly the same.
The true state of the case was now getting to be somewhat unequivocal;
nevertheless, as steadiness and compliance were his only hopes, Raoul
did as desired and stood with all his upper man decorated in an English
naval undress uniform, while the nether remained a la lazzarone.
"What say you now, vice-governatore," resumed Griffin, "here are lights
and the dress!"
"I say that this gentleman has done me the honor of several visits in
my poor residence at Porto Ferrajo," returned Andrea; "and that never
has he been more welcome than he is at this moment. Signor Smees, you
are a great lover of masquerades and make a carnival of the whole year.
I trust your distinguished countryman, Sir Cicero, will have it in his
power to convince these brave Inglese that all is done in pure
pleasantry and without a crime."
"Messieurs," said Raoul, stripping himself of his borrowed plumes, "it
is too late to feign any longer. _If_ I am Raoul Yvard, as you say, I am
certainly _not_ le Feu-Follet."
"Of course you are aware, Monsieur," observed Griffin, in French, "that
you are a prisoner to His Britannic Majesty?"
"Sa Majeste Britannique has not made a conquest equal to his success at
the Nile," returned Raoul, ironically; "but he has me in his hands. It
is not the first time that I have had the honor to be a prisoner of war,
and that, too, in one of his own ships."
"You are not to suppose that such will be your situation now, Monsieur
Yvard. We arrest you in a totally different character."
"Not as a friend, I trust, Monsieur; for, I protest, I have not the
smallest claim to the character; as witness a short interview off Porto
Ferrajo and an interesting incident at the mouth of the Golo."
"Your taunts maybe spared, sir; fortune favored you then, we allow; but
now we arrest you as a spy."
"Espion!" repeated Raoul, starting; "that is an office I never
contemplated, Monsieur, on coming on board your ship. You will do me the
justice to acknowledge that it was only at your own invitation that I
came on deck. 'Twould be an infamy to pretend differently."
"We will endure the infamy of our acts, Monsieur Yvard. No one accuses
you of having come on board the Proserpine as a spy; but, when an enemy
is found rowing about our fleet, which is anchored in a hostile bay,
and this in a disguise like yours, it most be a very scrupulous
conscience that hesitates to pronounce him a spy and liable to the
punishment of one."
This was so true that the unfortunate young man now felt the exceeding
delicacy of his situation. In coming into the bay he had certainly been
led by no other intention than to find Ghita; and yet he could not but
confess to himself that he should not have hesitated about profiting, in
his public character, by any information incidentally obtained. He had
subjected himself to the severest penalties of military law by yielding
to his passion for Ghita; and he could not discover a single available
excuse to plead in mitigation.
"What does the poor devil say, Griffin?" asked Cuffe, who felt regret
that so brave an enemy should be reduced to so desperate a strait,
notwithstanding his determined hostility to all Frenchmen; "do not bear
too hard upon him, at the first go off. Has he any excuse for his
"The usual apology, no doubt, sir--a desire to serve his one and
undivided republic! If we should believe all such chaps tell us, Captain
Cuffe, we might go home and send deputies to the National Convention;
if, indeed, they would do us the favor to admit them to seats."
"Gentlemen," said Raoul, in English, "there is no longer any occasion
for an interpreter between us; I speak your language sufficiently well
to make myself understood."
"I am sorry for your situation, Mr. Yvard," said Cuffe, "and wish with
all my heart you had fallen into our hands in open battle instead of in
this irregular way."
"In which case, Monsieur le Capitaine, le Feu-Follet would have been in
your power also!" returned Raoul, smiling ironically; "but, messieurs,
words are idle now; I am your prisoner and must take my chance with you.
There is no necessity, however, for causing others to suffer for my
indiscretion. I shall esteem it a favor, messieurs, if you will let the
good people in the boat alongside pull ashore, without molestation. It
is getting late, and we must now be nearly or quite abeam of the place
where they wish to land, which is the marina grande of Sorrento."
"Do you wish us to understand that your companions are not French,
"Oui, Monsieur le Captaine; there is not a Frenchman among them, I give
you _my parole d'honneur_"
"Of that fact it may be well to satisfy ourselves by an examination,
Captain Cuffe," put in Griffin, dryly.
"I have sent up to beg Mr. Winchester would get these people on board--"
"There is a young woman in the boat who is unaccustomed to entering
ships," interrupted Raoul, hastily, "and I implore your tenderness in
her behalf. Let the men come on board, if you think it necessary; but
the signorina can never climb this frigate's sides!"
"We will see to that, more especially, Monsieur Yvard, as you appear to
be so much interested in the lady's comfort. At present it will be my
duty to put you under a sentry's charge; and that it may be done in a
way the least offensive to yourself, your prison, for the night at
least, shall be this cabin. Mr. Griffin, give orders to the marine
In a few minutes a soldier was introduced into the forward cabin, and
Raoul was regularly placed under his charge. Not till then did the
officers return to the quarter-deck. All this time Ithuel and his
companions in the yawl were left to their own reflections, which were
anything but agreeable. Matters had been conducted so quietly inboard,
however, that they possessed no clew to what had actually occurred;
though Ghita, in particular, was full of forebodings and apprehensions.
The frigate towed them along at a rate which, as Raoul said, had brought
them quite abreast of their landing and within a league of it; and yet
she showed no signs of an intention to abate her speed, nor did any one
appear at the gangway to speak to them. At length a hoarse call was
heard on deck, and the ship began to shorten sail. Her fore-course was
hauled up, and the spanker was brailed; then the royals were clewed up
and furled; the topgallant-sails followed; and presently the Proserpine
was reduced to her three topsails and jib. All this, finished just as
Cuffe reappeared on deck, was done by the watch and in about five
minutes. As soon as sail was thus taken in the helm was put to port, the
ship came up to the wind on the starboard tack, and the main-topsail was
laid to the mast, bringing the yawl under her lee and close alongside of
the ship. This manoeuvre was no sooner executed than a seaman ran
lightly down the vessel's side and entered the yawl. After examining
forward and aft he called out, "All right, sir," and shoved the boat off
to a little distance from the frigate. The yard and stay-tackles fell,
at the next instant were overhauled down and hooked by the man in the
boat. The boatswain's mate, in the gangway, piped "haul-taut," and the
slack of the tackle was pulled in; then followed a long, steady blow of
the call, piping "sway-away," and the boat, with all in her, rose from
the water, and ascended as high as the hammock-cloths in the waist, when
the stay-tackles took the strain, the yard-tackles "eased-off," and the
boat was landed in the waist of the ship as gingerly as if it were made
of glass, and as steadily as if it had no more weight than a seaman's
hammock. Ghita uttered a faint scream when she found herself rising into
the air, and then she hid her face, awaiting the result with dread. As
for Carlo Giuntotardi, the movement aroused him a little from his
customary apathy, and that was all; whereas Ithuel bethought him
seriously of leaping into the water and striking out for the land. He
could swim a league, he thought; but there was the certainty of being
followed by boats and overtaken; a consideration that effectually curbed
his impatience. It is not easy to describe the sensation with which this
man found himself once more standing on the deck of his old prison, with
the additional danger of being detected and treated as a deserter. It
may sound revolting at the present day to suppose a case in which a
foreigner was thrown by violence into the military service of a nation,
and then was put in jeopardy of his life because he used a privilege of
nature to fly from such persecution as soon as circumstances placed the
means in his power. The last age, however, witnessed many scenes of
similar wrongs; and, it is to be feared, in despite of all the mawkish
philanthropy and unmeaning professions of eternal peace that it is now
the fashion to array against the experience of mankind, that the next
age will present their parallels, unless the good sense of this nation
infuse into the federal legislative bodies juster notions of policy,
more extended views of their own duties, and more accurate opinions of
the conditions of the several communities of Christendom than has marked
their laws and reasoning for the few past months. In a word, the
subject of all these tribulations felt an intimate conviction that his
rights, legal and moral, would avail him but little on the present
occasion. Then a man never does wrong, even in defence of that which is
inherently his due, without the secret consciousness that "evil may not
be done, that good may come of it"; and Ithuel had a certain inward
monitor to remind him that, much as he had in the way of justifiable
complaint, he had carried the war into the enemy's country.
 The question of impressment is now settled forever. The United
States have now a mortgage on the Canadas to secure the good behavior of
The boat had no sooner touched the deck, than its cargo was handed out
by the boatswain, who, keeping no watch, had not yet turned in; and who
was almost as important a functionary on board the Proserpine, as was
Vito Viti in the town of Porto Ferrajo. He examined each individual, as
he or she landed, as he called it; Ghita attracting so much of his
attention as completely to eclipse her companions. The soft air and
manner of the girl appeared so winning, indeed, by the light of the
moon, which now fell clear upon the decks, that all near her, including
the officers, submitted to very much the same influence.
"So, so, Master Yvard," said Cuffe, in English, "if you do come into an
enemy's camp incog., it is in reasonably good company. That girl is
Italian, Winchester; and she even seems modest!"
"Little Ghita!" exclaimed Vito Viti, "as I hope one day to lie in the
bosom of Father Abraham! Bellissima Ghita, what has brought thee here,
and in such evil company?"
Ghita was in tears; but, uncertain how far Raoul was committed, she
struggled for self-command, and did succeed in suppressing emotions that
might otherwise have rendered his situation more dangerous. Drying her
eyes, she curtsied to the vice-governatore and the podesta and then
answered the question.
"Signori," she said, "it is a relief to meet countrymen and old
acquaintances on board this strange ship; and I look to you for
protection. I do not call it strange or evil company for an orphan niece
to be on the water with her uncle and one that has ever been a father
"Ah--sure enough, vice-governatore, this is Carlo Giuntotardi, the
uncle; and the man who dwells so much with the saints, even on earth,
that he seldom speaks to a sinner. But thou knowest, little Ghita, that
one of thy watermen is no less a person that Raoul Yvard, the wickedest
corsair that sails out of France, and the pest and persecution of the
whole Italian coast? Did the church condescend to notice such an
unbelieving republican, it would be to command all its faithful to unite
in their prayers for his destruction."
"Raoul Yvard!" repeated Ghita, with sufficient astonishment in her
manner to satisfy any reasonable amount of wonder on the part of the
other. "Are you certain, Signor Podesta, of the truth of what you say?"
"As certain as the confession of the party himself can make us."
"Si, bella Ghita; confession--your boatman--your man of Capri--your
lazzarone confesses himself to be neither more nor less than the
commander of that worker of iniquity, le Feu-Follet."
"Does le Feu-Follet do more than other cruisers of the enemy?"--but
Ghita felt she was getting to be indiscreet, and she ceased.
"I do believe, Winchester," said Cuffe, "that this is the very girl, and
yonder is the very old man who came into Nelson's cabin to-day with
something to say about the poor prince who was executed this afternoon!"
"What could such people have in common with the unfortunate Caraccioli?"
"Sure enough--yet these are the people. The Queen of the Fleet--our Lady
Admiraless--had it all to herself; and what passed between them, in
Italian, I know no more than if it had been in Greek. She never told
_me_, you may rest assured; and, from the look of her eye, I question a
good deal if she ever told Nelson."
"I wish to heaven his lordship would cut adrift from his moorings
alongside that craft, Captain Cuffe. I do assure you, sir, the fleet
begins to talk loudly on the subject;--was it any other man, there'd be
the devil to pay about it--but we can all stand a good deal from Nelson
"Well--well--let every man father his own children: you ought to be
quiet, Winchester, for he asked very kindly about your hurt to-day, and
would have sent you aboard some knick-knack or other for the stomach,
but I told him you were all a-tanto again and at duty. What between his
head and his arm and his eye, he's got to be such a hulk himself that he
thinks every wounded man a sort of a relation. I should not complain,
however, if the small-pox could lay hold of that beauty."
"This has been a bad day's work for England, depend on it, Captain
"Well, if it has, St. Vincent and the Nile were _good_ days' works; and
we'll let one balance the other. Inquire of this young woman, Mr.
Griffin, if I had not the pleasure of seeing her to-day on board the
The question was put as desired, and Ghita quietly but unhesitatingly
answered in the affirmative.
"Then ask her to explain how she happened to fall into the company of
"Signori," said Ghita, naturally, for she had nothing to conceal on this
point, "we live on Monte Argentaro, where my uncle is the keeper of the
Prince's towers. You know, we have much to fear from the barbarians
along all that coast; and last season, when the peace with France kept
the Inglesi at a distance--I know not how it is, signore, but they say
the barbarians are always hardest on the enemies of Inghilterra--but,
the past season a boat, from a rover had seized upon my uncle and myself
and were carrying us off into captivity, when a Frenchman and his lugger
rescued us. From that time we became friends; and our friend has often
stopped near our towers to visit us. To-day we found him in a boat by
the side of the English admiral's ship; and, as an old acquaintance, he
undertook to bring us to the Sorrentine shore, where we are at present
staying with my mother's sister."
This was told so naturally as to carry with it the conviction of its
truth; and when Griffin had translated it, he did not fail to assure his
superior that he would pledge himself for the accuracy of the statement.
"Aye, you young luffs, Griffin, are never backward with your vows _for_
or _to_ pretty girls," answered Cuffe. "The girl does seem honest,
however; and, what is more extraordinary, for the company she is in, she
seems modest too. Tell her she shall not be harmed, though we cannot
deprive ourselves of the pleasure of her company immediately. She shall
have the larboard stateroom in my cabin until morning, where she and her
uncle may live a great deal more comfortably than in one of their
out-of-door Neapolitan rookeries. Monte Argentaro, ha!--That's a bluff
just beyond the Roman coast, and it is famously besprinkled with
towers--half a dozen of them at least within as many miles, and who
knows but this Jack-o'-Lantern may be extinguished some fine morning,
should we fail of laying our hands on it now?"
"We can hardly fail of the last, Captain Cuffe, having her commander in
Orders were then given to dispose of the prisoners, leaving the boat on
deck. Raoul was sent below and put in a canvas stateroom, the arms
having been removed, even to the razors, and a sentinel placed at the
door. Escape from such a situation was impossible; and as for
self-violence, when _that_ point was considered, Cuffe had coolly
remarked: "Poor devil; hanged he must be, and if he should be his own
executioner, it will save us the discomfort of having a scene on board.
I suppose Nelson will order him to our fore-yard-arm as a jewel-block. I
don't see why he cannot use a Neapolitan frigate for this job, too; they
are good for nothing else."
"I rather think, Captain Cuffe, he will swing on board his own lugger,
should we succeed in catching her," answered the lieutenant.
"By George, you're right, Griffin; and that's another inducement for
looking out sharp for the Few-Folly. How much better it would have been
had we burnt them all in a bunch off the Golo!"
Then followed the arrangement by which the prisoner was put into the
gun-room, as mentioned. Ghita and her uncle were shown into the empty
cabin state-room, and mattresses were provided on which they might
repose. Then the captain and his two guests retired to the after-cabin,
whither Griffin was invited to accompany them. Here the captain
recollected that there had been a fourth individual in the boat, and he
sent an order on deck for him to come down for examination. Ithuel,
observing the attention of the officers occupied by Ghita and her
uncle, had stolen back toward his own yawl, of which he had taken
possession, stretching himself out at length, with the apparent design
to sleep, but in reality to keep himself "out of mind," by remaining
"out of sight"; reserving, in petto, an intention to jump overboard,
should the ship go near enough to the land to give him a chance for his
life, after the moon set. In this situation he was found, aroused from
his lair, and led into the cabin.
It has been mentioned that Ithuel would not consent to trust himself
near the Proserpine without disguising his person. Raoul being well
provided with all the materials for a masquerade, this had been effected
by putting a black curling wig over his own lank, sandy hair, coloring
his whiskers and eyebrows, and trusting the remainder to the
transformation which might be produced by the dress, or rather undress,
of a Neapolitan waterman. The greatest obstacle to this arrangement had
been a certain queue, which Ithuel habitually wore in a cured eel-skin
that he had brought with him from America, eight years before, and both
of which, "queue and eel-skin," he cherished as relics of better days.
Once a week this queue was unbound and combed, but all the remainder of
the time it continued in a solid mass quite a foot in length, being as
hard and about as thick as a rope an inch in diameter. Now, the queue
had undergone its hebdomadal combing just an hour before Raoul announced
his intention to proceed to Naples in the yawl, and it would have been
innovating on the only thing that Ithuel treated with reverence to undo
the work until another week had completed its round. The queue,
therefore, was disposed of under the wig in the best manner that its
shape and solidity would allow.
Ithuel was left in the fore-cabin, and his presence was announced to
"It's no doubt some poor devil belonging to the Few-Folly's crew,"
observed the English Captain, in a rather compassionate manner, "and we
can hardly think of stringing _him_ up, most probably for obeying an
order. That would never do, Griffin: so we'll just step out and overhaul
his log in French, and send him off to England to a prison-ship, by the
first return vessel."
As this was said, the four in the after-cabin left it together and stood
before this new prisoner. Of course Ithuel understood all that was said
in English, while the very idea of being catechized in French threw him
into a cold sweat. In this strait the idea suddenly crossed his mind
that his greatest security would be in feigning dumbness.
"_Ecoutez, mon ami_" commenced Griffin, in very respectable
English-French, "you are to tell me nothing but the truth, and it may be
all the better for you. You belong to the Feu-Follet, of course?"
Ithuel shook his head in strong disgust and endeavored to make a sound
that he intended to represent a dumb man struggling to utter the
"What is the fellow after, Griffin?" said Cuffe. "Can it be he doesn't
understand French? Try him a touch in Italian, and let us see what he
will say to that."
Griffin repeated very much what he had said before, merely changing the
language, and received the same gagging sounds for an answer. The
gentlemen looked at each other, as much as to express their surprise.
But, unluckily for Ithuel's plan, he had brought with him from the
Granite State a certain propensity to pass all the modulations of his
voice through his nose; and the effort to make a suppressed sound
brought that member more than usually into requisition, thereby
producing a certain disagreeable combination that destroyed everything
like music that commonly characterizes the Italian words. Now, Andrea
had been struck with this peculiarity about the tones of the American's
voice, in the interview at Benedetta's wine-house; and the whole
connection between Raoul and this singular person being associated in
his mind, the truth flashed on him, as it might be, at a glance. His
previous success that night emboldened the worthy vice-governatore, and,
without any remark, he walked steadily up to Ithuel, removed the wig,
and permitted the eel-skin queue to resume its natural position on the
back of its owner.
"Ha!--What, veechy," exclaimed Cuffe, laughing--"you unearth them like
so many foxes to-night. Now, Griffin, hang me if I do not think I've
seen that chap before! Isn't he the very man we found at the wheel of la
Voltigeuse, when we boarded her?"
"Lord bless me, Captain Cuffe--no, sir. This fellow is as long as two of
that chap--and yet I know the face too. I wish you'd let me send for one
of the young gentlemen, sir; they're worth all the rest of the ship at
The permission was given, and the cabin-steward was sent on deck to
desire Mr. Roller, one of the oldest midshipmen, and who was known to
have the watch, to come below.
"Look at this fellow, Mr. Roller," said Griffin, as soon as the
youngster had taken his place in the group, "and tell us if you can make
anything of him."
"It's the lazy-rony, sir, we hoisted in a bit ago when we struck the
boat on deck."
"Aye, no doubt of that--but we think we have seen his face before;--can
_you_ make that out?"
Roller now walked round the immovable subject of all these remarks; and
he, too, began to think the singular-looking object was no stranger to
him. As soon, however, as he got a sight of the queue, he struck Ithuel
a smart slap on the shoulder and exclaimed:
"You're welcome back, my lad! I hope you'll find your berth aloft as
much to your mind as it used to be. This is Bolt, Captain Cuffe, the
foretop-man, who ran from us when last in England, was caught and put in
a guard-ship, from which they sent us word he stole a boat and got off
with two or three French prisoners, who happened to be there at the
moment on some inquiry or other. Don't you remember it all, Mr.
Griffin--you may remember the fellow pretended to be an American."
Ithuel was now completely exposed, and he at once perceived that his
wisest way was to submit. Cuffe's countenance darkened, for he regarded
a deserter with a species of professional horror, and the impressed
deserter, to whose services England had no other right than that of
might, with an additional degree of resentment, that was very fairly
proportioned to the inward consciousness he felt that a great wrong was
done in detaining the man at all. There is nothing extraordinary in
these feelings; a very common resource, under such circumstances, being
to imagine delinquencies that justify us to ourselves, by endeavoring to
believe that the subject of any act of our oppression at least merits
"Do you dare to deny what this young gentleman has just said, sirrah?"
demanded the captain. "I now remember you myself; you are Bolt, the
foretop-man, that ran at Plymouth."
"You'd a-run, too, Captain Cuffe, had you been in my place, had the ship
been at Jericho."
"Enough--no impudence, sir. Send for the master-at-arms, Mr. Griffin,
and have the fellow ironed: to-morrow we'll look into the affair."
These orders were obeyed, and Ithuel was removed to the place where the
master-at-arms usually reigns on board ship. Cuffe now gave the
lieutenant his conge, and then withdrew to the inner-cabin, to prepare a
despatch for the rear-admiral. He was near an hour writing a letter to
his mind, but finally succeeded. Its purport was as follows: He reported
the capture of Raoul, explaining the mode and the circumstances under
which that celebrated privateersman had fallen into his hands. He then
asked for instructions as to the manner in which he was to dispose of
his prisoner. Having communicated this important fact, he ventured some
suggestions as to the probable vicinity of the lugger, and the hopes he
entertained of being able to find out her precise situation, through the
agency of Bolt, whose condition he also explained, hinting at the same
time the expediency of bringing both delinquents to as speedy trials as
possible, as the most certain manner of using their apprehensions in
seizing le Feu-Follet. The letter concluded with an earnest request that
another frigate, which was mentioned, her captain being junior to Cuffe,
and a fast-sailing sloop that was lying off Naples might be sent down to
assist him in "heading off" the lugger, as he feared the latter was too
swift to be overtaken by the Proserpine alone, more especially in the
light winds which prevailed.
When this letter was written, addressed, and sealed, Cuffe went on deck
again. It was now nine o'clock, or two bells, and Winchester had the
quarter-deck nearly to himself. All was as tranquil and calm on the deck
of that fine frigate as a moonlight night, a drowsy watch, a light wind,
and smooth water could render things in a bay like that of Naples.
Gleamings of fire were occasionally seen over Vesuvius, but things in
that direction looked misty and mysterious, though Capri loomed up, dark
and grand, a few miles to leeward, and Ischia was visible, a confused
but distant pile on the lee-bow. An order from Cuffe, however, set
everybody in motion. Yard and stay-tackles were overhauled and hooked
on, the boatswain's-mate piped the orders, and the first cutter was
hoisted over the waist cloths, and lowered into the water. "Away, there,
you first cutters," had been hoarsely called on the berth-deck, and the
crew were ready to enter the boat by the time the latter was lowered.
The masts were stepped, Roller appeared, in a pea-jacket, to guard
against the night air, and Cuffe gave him his instructions.
"Set your sails and stretch over under the north shore, Mr. Roller,"
said the captain, who stood in the lee-gangway, to give a last word.
"You will fetch in about Queen Joan's Palace. There, you had better take
to your oars and pull up along the land. Remember, sir, to join us by
the first ship that comes out; and, if none is sent, to come down with
the morning breeze in the boat."
Roller gave the customary "Aye, aye, sir"; the boat shoved off; as soon
as from under the lee of the ship the lugs were set, and half an hour
later the night had swallowed up her form. Cuffe remained an hour
longer, walking the deck with his first-lieutenant; and then, satisfied
that the night would prove propitious, he went below, leaving orders to
keep the ship lying-to until morning.
As for Roller, he pulled alongside of the Foudroyant just as the bells
of the fleet were striking eight, or midnight. Nelson was still up,
writing in his cabin. The despatch was delivered, and then the secretary
of the admiral and a clerk or two were called from their berths, for
nothing lagged that this active-minded man had in charge. Orders were
written, copied, signed, and sent to different ships by two o'clock,
that the morning breeze might not be lost; and not till then did the
employes think of rest.
Roller left the flag-ship at two, having eaten a hearty supper in
Nelson's own cabin, and repaired on board the Terpsichore, a smart
little frigate of thirty-two guns, twelve pounders, with instructions to
her captain to receive him. Two hours later this ship, in company with
another still smaller, the Ringdove, 18, left her anchorage, under a
cloud of canvas, and stood down the bay, carrying studding-sails on both
sides, with a light wind at northwest, heading toward Capri.
"Speak to the business, Master Secretary:
Why are we met in council?"
_King Henry VIII._
When the idlers of the Proserpine appeared on deck the following
morning, the ship was about a league to windward of Capri, having forged
well over toward the north side of the bay during the night, wore round
and got thus far back on the other tack. From the moment light returned
lookouts had been aloft with glasses, examining every nook and corner of
the bay, in order to ascertain whether any signs of the lugger were to
be seen under its bold and picturesque shore. So great is the extent of
this beautiful basin, so grand the natural objects which surround it,
and so clear the atmosphere, that even the largest ships loom less than
usual on its waters; and it would have been a very possible thing for le
Feu-Follet to anchor near some of the landings, and lie there unnoticed
for a week by the fleet above, unless tidings were carried to the latter
by observers on the shore.
Cuffe was the last to come on deck, six bells, or seven o'clock,
striking as the group on the quarter-deck first lifted their hats to
him. He glanced around him, and then turned toward Griffin, who was now
officer of the watch.
"I see two ships coming down the bay, Mr. Griffin," he said--"no signals
yet, I suppose, sir?"
"Certainly not, sir, or they would have been reported. We make out the
frigate to be the Terpsichore, and the sloop, I know by her new royals,
is the Ringdove. The first ship, Captain Cuffe, brags of being able to
travel faster than anything within the Straits!"
"I'll bet a month's pay the Few-Folly walks away from her on a bowline,
ten knots to her nine. If she can do that with the Proserpine, she'll at
least do that with Mistress Terpsichore. There goes a signal from the
frigate now, Mr. Griffin, though a conjuror could hardly read it,
tailing directly on as it does. Well, quartermaster, what do you make it
out to be?"
"It's the Terpsichore's number, sir; and the other ship has just made
"Show ours, and keep a sharp lookout; there'll be something else to tell
In a few minutes the Terpsichore expressed a wish to speak the
Proserpine, when Cuffe filled his main-topsail and hauled close upon a
wind. An hour later the three ships passed within hail of each other,
when both the junior commanders lowered their gigs and came on board the
Proserpine to report.
Roller followed in the first cutter, which had been towed down by the
The Terpsichore was commanded by Captain Sir Frederick Dashwood, a
lively young baronet, who preferred the active life of a sailor to
indolence and six thousand a year on shore; and who had been rewarded
for his enterprise by promotion and a fast frigate at the early age of
two and twenty. The Ringdove was under a master-commandant of the name
of Lyon, who was just sixty years old, having worked his way up to his
present rank by dint of long and arduous services, owing his last
commission and his command to the accident of having been a first
lieutenant at the battle of Cape St. Vincent. Both these gentlemen
appeared simultaneously on the quarter-deck of the Proserpine, where
they were duly received by the captain and all the assembled officers.
"Good morrow to you, Cuffe," said Dashwood, giving the other the tip of
his fingers, as soon as the ceremonious part of the reception was over;
and casting a glance, half admiring, half critical, at the appearance of
things on deck--"What has Nelson sent us down here about this fine
morning, and--ha!--how long have you had those brass ornaments on
"They were only put there yesterday, Sir Frederick; a little slush
money did it all."
"Has Nelson seen them? I rather fancy not--they tell me he's as savage
as an Arab about knick-knackery nowadays. What an awkward job that was
yesterday afternoon, by the way, Cuffe!"
"It has been a bad business, and, as an old Agamemnon, I would give a
year's rank that it never had taken place."
"A year's rank!--that's a great deal; a year would set me back, hard
aground alongside of old Lyon, here. I was a lieutenant less than three
years since and couldn't afford half a year. But all you old Agamemnons
think as much of your little Nel. as if he were a pretty girl; isn't it
"I dare say it may be, Sir Frederick," answered Lyon; "and if you had
been the first lieutenant of a two-decker, off Cape St. Vincent, on the
14th February, 1797, you would have thought as much of him too. Here we
were, only fifteen sail in all--that is, of vessels of the line--with
the wind at--"
"Oh, hang your battle, Lyon, I've heard all that at least seventeen
"Well, if ye haave, Sir Frederick," returned Lyon, who was a Scotchman,
"it'll be just once a year since ye war' born, leaving out the time ye
war' in the nursery. But we've not come here to enlighten Captain Cuffe
in these particulars, so much as in obedience to an order of the
rear-admiral's--little Nel., as ye'll be calling him, I suppose, Sir
"Nay, it's you old Agamemnons, or old fellows, who gave him that name--"
"Ye'll please to excuse me, sir," interrupted Lyon, a little
dogmatically--"ye've never heard me call him anything but my lord, since
His Majesty, God bless him! was graciously pleased to elevate him to the
peerage--nothing but 'my lord,' and the 'rear-admiral'; naval rank being
entitled to its privileges even on the throne. Many a king has been a
colonel, and I see no disparagement in one's being an admiral. Won't ye
be thinking, Captain Cuffe, that since my lord is made Duke of Bronte,
he is entitled to be called 'Your Grace'--all the Scottish dukes are so
designated, and I see no reason why the rear-admiral should not have his
just dues as well as the best of them."
"Let him alone for that," said Cuffe, laughing; "Nel. will look out for
himself, as well as for the king. But, gentlemen, I suppose you have not
come down here merely for a morning walk--have I any reports to hear?"
"I beg your pardon, Captain Cuffe, but I was really forgetting my
errand," answered Dashwood. "Here are your orders, and we are both
directed to report to you. The lieutenant who brought the package aboard
_me_ said there would be a spy to try, and a lugger to catch. Did they
tell you anything of this matter, Lyon?"
"No, Sir Frederick; not being inquisitive, I hear but little of what is
going on in the fleet. My orders are to report myself and ship to
Captain Cuffe, for service, which I have the honor now to do."
"Well, gentlemen, here are further instructions for you. This is an
order to hold a court, composed of Captain Richard Cuffe, of the
Proserpine, president; Captain Sir Frederick Dashwood, Bart., of the
Terpsichore, etc., etc.; and Lyon, Winchester, and Spriggs, your
first-lieutenant, Sir Frederick, for the trials of Raoul Yvard, a French
citizen, on the charge of being a spy, and Ithuel Bolt, seaman, etc., on
the charge of being a deserter. Here is everything in rule, and there
are your respective orders, gentlemen."
"Bless me, I'd no notion of this!" exclaimed Lyon, who was greatly
averse to this part of an officer's duty. "I'd thought it altogether a
trial of speed after a Frenchman, for which purpose the rear-admiral, or
my lord, or his grace, whichever it may be right to call him, had seen
fit to bring three of his fastest ships together."
"I wish it was nothing but the last, Captain Lyon; but we have the
disagreeable duty of trying a spy and a deserter before us. You will
return to your ships, gentlemen, and follow us in to an anchorage. I
intend to bring up at a single anchor under the shore at Capri, where we
can lie during the calm and get through with our courts. The cases will
be clear and not detain us long, and we can send lookouts up on the
heights to examine the sea and the coast outside. In the mean time, we
must be busy lest we lose the breeze. You will attend to the signal for
At this order the two visitors got into their boats, and the Proserpine
again filled. The three vessels now made the best of their way toward
the point of destination, anchoring off the town or village in the
island of Capri, just as two bells struck. Ten minutes later, the
Proserpine fired a gun, and ran up the flag which denotes the sitting of
Although it has not been deemed necessary to relate them, the reader
will understand that all the details required by the law had been
observed as regards these trials; the promptitude of the proceedings
being partly characteristic of the decision of the admiral, but more in
consequence of a wish to use the charges against the delinquents as a
means of seizing the true hero of our tale, the little Feu-Follet. While
a mistaken, not to say a mawkish, philanthropy is unsettling so many of
the ancient land-marks of society, and, among other heresies, is
preaching the doctrine that "the object of punishment is the reformation
of the criminal," it is a truth which all experience confirms that
nothing renders justice so terrible, and consequently so efficient, as
its promptitude and certainty. When all its requirements are observed,
the speediest exercise of its functions is the most conducive to the
protection of society, the real motive for the existence of all human
regulations of this nature; and it is a great merit of the much-abused
English ordinances, that the laws are rarely made stalking-horses for
the benefit of the murderer or the forger; but that once fairly tried
and convicted, the expiation of their crimes awaits the offenders with a
certainty and energy that leave the impression on the community that
punishments were intended to produce. That this people has done well in
liberating itself from many of their inherited usages and laws, is as
certain as that one age has interests different from another; one set of
circumstances governing principles at variance with those which preceded
them; but it would be well also to remember that, while moral changes
are as necessary as physical exercise, there are truths that are
eternal, and rules of right and prudence which can never be departed
from with impunity.
When the members of the court mentioned assembled in the cabin of the
Proserpine, it was with all the forms and exterior observances that were
necessary to command respect. The officers were in full dress, the oaths
were administered with solemnity, the table was arranged with taste, and
an air of decent gravity reigned over all. Little time, however, was
lost unnecessarily, and the officer to whom had been assigned the duty
of prevot-marshal was directed to produce his prisoners.
Raoul Yvard and Ithuel Bolt were brought into the cabin at the same
moment, though they came from different parts of the ship, and were
allowed to hold no communication with each other. When both were
present, they were arraigned, and the accusations were read to them.
Raoul having admitted his knowledge of English, no interpreter was
sworn, but the proceedings were had in the usual manner. As it was
intended to try the Frenchman first, and Ithuel might be wanted as a
witness, the latter was taken out of the cabin again, courts-martial
never permitting one witness to hear what another has testified,
although an ingenious substitute for ears has been adopted of late, by
publishing in the journals, from day to day, whatever passes, when the
length of the proceedings will admit of such a device.
"We will now swear the Signor Andrea Barrofaldi," commenced the Judge
Advocate, as soon as the preliminaries were observed. "This is a
Catholic bible, sir, and I will put the oaths in Italian if you will
have the goodness first to swear me in as an interpreter."
This was done, when the oath was duly administered to the
vice-governatore. Then came a few questions as to the station, country,
etc., of the witness, after which more material matter was
"Signor Vice-Governatore, do you know the prisoner by sight?" demanded
the Judge Advocate.
"Sir, I have had the honor to receive him in my residence in the island
"Under what name and circumstances was he known to you, Signore?"
"Eh--he called himself Sir Smees, a capitano in the service of the
"What vessel did he pretend to command?"
"Ze Ving-y-Ving--a lugger, which I have since had reason to think is le
Feu-Follet, a corsair under the French flag. Monsieur did me the favor
to make two visits to Porto Ferrajo in the character of Sir Smees."
"And you know now that this is Raoul Yvard, the French privateersman you
"Eh--_know?_--I know they _say_ this is the Signor Yvard, and that ze
Ving-y-Ving is le Feu-Follet."
"They _say_ will not do, Signor Barrofaldi. Can you not say this much of
your own knowledge?"
The court was now cleared; when it re-opened Vito Viti was sent for and
properly sworn, his attention being particularly directed to the cross
on the back of the book.
"Did you ever see the prisoner before this occasion, Signor Viti?"
demanded the Judge Advocate, after the preliminary questions had
"Signore, oftener than it is agreeable to remember. I do not think that
two grave magistrates were ever more mystified than were the
vice-governatore and myself! Eh-h-h--Signori, the wisest sometimes
become like sucking children, when there passes a mist before the
"Relate the circumstances under which this occurred, to the court,
"Why, Signori, the facts were just these. Andrea Barrofaldi, as you
know, is the vice-governatore of Porto Ferrajo, and I am its unworthy
podesta. Of course it is our duty to look into all matters affecting the
public weal, and more especially into the business and occupations of
strangers who come into our island. Well, it is now three weeks or more
since the lugger or felucca was seen--"
"Which was it, a felucca or a lugger?" demanded the Judge Advocate,
holding his pen ready to write the answer.
"Both, Signore; a felucca and a lugger."
"Ah--there were two; a felucca and a lugger."
"No, Signore; but this felucca was a lugger. Tommaso Tonti wished to
mystify me about that, too; but I have not been podesta in a seaport so
many years for nothing. No, Signori, there are all sorts of
feluccas--ship-feluccas, brig-feluccas, and lugger-feluccas."
When this answer was translated, the members of the court smiled, while
Raoul Yvard laughed out honestly.
"Well, Signor Podesta," resumed the Judge Advocate--"the prisoner came
into Porto Ferrajo in a lugger?"
"So it was said, Signore. I did not see him actually on board of her,
but he professed to be the commander of a certain vessel, in the service
of the King of Inghilterra, called ze Ving-y-Ving, and said that his own
name was Smees--si--il capitano, or Sir Smees."
"Professed? Do you not know that this lugger was the notorious French
privateer, le Feu-Follet?"
"I know they say so now, Signori; but the vice-governatore and I
supposed her to be ze Ving-y-Ving."
"And do you not know that the prisoner is actually Raoul Yvard; of your
own knowledge, I mean?"
"Corpo di Bacco!--How should I know any such thing, Signor
Guideca-Avvocato," exclaimed Vito Viti, who literally translated what he
understood to be the title of his interrogator, thereby converting him
into a sort of ship-felucca--"how should I know any such thing? I do
not keep company with corsairs, except when they come upon, our island
and call themselves 'Sir Smees.'"
The Judge Advocate and the members of the court looked gravely at each
other. No one in the least doubted that the prisoner was Raoul Yvard,
but it was necessary legally to prove it before he could be condemned.
Cuffe was now asked if the prisoner had not confessed his own identity,
but no one could say he had done so in terms, although his conversation
would seem to imply as much. In a word, justice was like to be in what
is by no means an unusual dilemma for that upright functionary, viz.,
unable to show a fact that no one doubted. At length Cuffe recollected
Ghita and Ithuel, and he wrote their names on a piece of paper, and
passed them down the table to the Judge Advocate. The latter nodded his
head, as much as to say he understood the president's meaning; and then
he told the prisoner he might cross-examine the witness if he saw fit.
Raoul fully understood his situation. Although he certainly had not
entered the Bay of Naples with any of the ordinary views of a spy, he
was aware how far he had committed himself, and foresaw the readiness
with which his enemies would destroy him, could they find the legal
means of so doing. He also comprehended the dilemma in which his
accusers were placed for the want of testimony, and at once resolved to
turn the circumstance as much as possible to his advantage. Until that
moment the idea of denying his own identity had never crossed his mind;
but perceiving what he fancied an opening for escape, it was but natural
to avail himself of its protection. Turning, then, to the podesta, he
put his questions in English, that they might go fairly through the same
process of interpretation as the rest of the examination.
"You say, Signor Podesta," he commenced, "that you saw me in the town of
Porto Ferrajo and in the island of Elba?"
"Si--in which town I have the honor to be one of the authorities."
"You say I professed to command a vessel in the service of the King of
England; a felucca, called ze Ving-and-Ving?"
"Si--ze Ving-y-Ving--the commander of that felucca."
"I understood you to say, Mr. Podesta," put in Lyon, "that the craft was
"A felucca-lugger, Signor Capitano--nothing more nor less than that, on