Part 6 out of 9
"And all these honorable officers well know," observed Raoul,
ironically, "that a felucca-lugger and a lugger such as le Feu-Follet is
understood to be are very different things. Now, Signore, you have never
heard me say that I am a Frenchman?"
"Non--you have not been so weak as to confess that to one who hates the
name of the Francese. Cospetto! If all the Grand Duke's subjects
detested his enemies as I do, he would be the most powerful prince
"No doubt, Signore; and now suffer me to inquire if you heard any other
name for that felucca than ze Ving-and-Ving. Did I ever call her le
"Non--always ze Ving-y-Ving; never anything else; but--"
"Your pardon, Signore; have the goodness to answer my questions. I
called the felucca ze Ving-and-Ving; and I called myself le Capitaine
Smeet; is it not true?"
"Si--Ving-y-Ving and il Capitano Smees--Sir Smees, a signore of an
illustrious English family of that name, if I remember right."
Raoul smiled, for he was confident this notion proceeded principally
from the self-illusion of the two Italians themselves; the little he had
said on the subject having been drawn out more by their suggestions than
by any design on his part. Still he did not deem it prudent to
contradict the podesta, who, as yet, had testified to nothing that could
possibly criminate him.
"If a young man has the vanity to wish to be thought noble," answered
Raoul, calmly, "it may prove his folly, but it does not prove him a spy.
You did not hear me confess myself a Frenchman, you say: now did you not
hear me say I was born in Guernsey?"
"Si--the Signore did say that the family of Smees came from that
island--as the vice-governatore calls it, though I acknowledge I never
heard of such an island. There are Sicilia, Sardegna, Elba, Caprea,
Ischia, Irlanda, Inghilterra, Scozia, Malta, Capraya, Pianosa, Gorgona,
and America, with several more in the east; but I never heard of such an
island as Guernsey. Si, Signore; we are humble people, and I hope modest
people in the island of Elba, but we do know something of the rest of
the world, notwithstanding. If you wish to hear these matters touched on
ingeniously, however, you will do well to call in the vice-governatore
for half an hour and invite him to open his stores of knowledge. San
Antonio!--I doubt if Italy has his equal--at islands, in particular."
"Good," continued Raoul; "and now tell these officers, Signore Podesta,
if you can say on your oath, that I had anything to do with that
felucca, ze Ving-and-Ving, at all."
"I cannot, Signore, except from your own words. You were dressed like
one of these officers, here, in an English uniform, and said you
commanded ze Ving-y-Ving. While speaking of islands, Signori, I forgot
Palmavola and Ponza, both of which we passed in this ship on our voyage
"Good--it is always well to be particular under oath. Now, Signor
Podesta, the result of all your evidence is, that you do not know that
the felucca you mention was le Feu-Follet, that I am a Frenchman even,
much less that I am Raoul Yvard, and that I told you that I was from
Guernsey, and that my name was Jacques Smeet--is it not so?"
"Si--you did say your name was Giac Smees, and you did not say you were
Raoul Yvard. But, Signore, I saw you firing your cannon at the boats of
this frigate, with French colors flying, and that is some signs of an
enemy, as we understand these matters in Porto Ferrajo."
Raoul felt that this was a direct blow; still, it wanted the connecting
link to make it testimony.
"But you did not see _me_ doing this?--You mean you saw ze Ving-and-Ving
in a combat with the frigate's boats."
"Si--that was it--but you told me you were commander of ze Ving-y-Ving."
"Let us understand you," put in the Judge Advocate--"is it the
intention of the prisoner to deny his being a Frenchman and an enemy?"
"It is my intention, sir, to deny everything that is not proved."
"But your accent--your English--nay, your appearance show that you are a
"Your pardon, sir. There are many nations that speak French which are
not French to-day. All along the north frontier of France is French
spoken by foreigners--Savoy, and Geneva, and Vaud--also the English have
French subjects in the Canadas, besides Guernsey and Jersey. You will
not hang a man because his accent is not from London?"
"We shall do you justice, prisoner," observed Cuffe, "and you shall have
the benefit of every doubt that makes in your favor. Still, it may be
well to inform you that the impression of your being a Frenchman and
Raoul Yvard is very strong; and if you can show to the contrary, you
would do well to prove it by direct testimony."
"How will this honorable court expect that to be done? I was taken in a
boat last night and am tried this morning at a notice as short as that
which was given to Caraccioli. Give me time to send for witnesses, and I
will prove who and what I am."
This was said coolly and with the air of a man assured of his own
innocence, and it produced a slight effect on his judges; for an appeal
to the unvarying principles of right seldom falls unheeded on the ear.
Nevertheless, there could be no doubt in the minds of the officers of
the Proserpine, in particular, either as to the character of the lugger
or as to that of the prisoner; and men, under such circumstances, were
not likely to allow an enemy who had done them so much injury to escape.
The appeal only rendered them more cautious, and more determined to
protect themselves against charges of unfair proceedings.
"Have you any further questions to put to the witness, prisoner?"
inquired the president of the court.
"None at present, sir--we will go on, if you please, gentlemen."
"Call Ithuel Bolt," said the Judge Advocate, reading the new witness's
name from a list before him.
Raoul started, for the idea of the American's being brought forward in
this capacity had never occurred to him. In a minute Ithuel appeared,
was sworn, and took his place at the foot of the table.
"Your name is Ithuel Bolt?" observed the Judge Advocate, holding his pen
in readiness to record the answer.
"So they say aboard here," answered the witness, coolly--"though, for
my part, I've no answer to give to such a question."
"Do you deny your name, sir?"
"I deny nothing--want to say nothing, or to have anything to do with
this trial or this ship."
Raoul breathed easier; for, to own the truth, he had not much confidence
in Ithuel's constancy or disinterestedness; and he apprehended that he
had been purchased with the promise of a pardon for himself.
"You will remember that you are under oath, and may be punished for
contumacy on refusing to answer."
"I've some gineral idees of law," answered Ithuel, passing his hand over
his queue to make sure it was right, "for we all do a little at that in
Ameriky. I practised some myself, when a young man, though it was only
afore a justice-peace. _We_ used to hold that a witness needn't answer
"Is it, then, on account of criminating yourself that you answer thus
"I decline answering that question," answered Ithuel, with an air of
"Witness, have you any personal knowledge of the prisoner?"
"I decline answering that question, too."
"Do you know anything of such a person as Raoul Yvard?"
"What if I do?--I'm a native American, and have a right to form
acquaintances in foreign lands if I see it's to my interest, or it's
agreeable to my feelin's."
"Have you never served on board His Majesty's ships?"
"What majesty?--There's no majesty in Ameriky, as I know, but the
majesty of heaven."
"Remember that your answers are all recorded, and may tell against you
on some other occasion."
"Not lawfully; a witness can't be made to give answers that tell ag'in
"Certainly not _made_ to do it; still he may _do_ it of his own accord."
"Then it's the duty of the court to put him on his guard. I've heerd
that ag'in and ag'in in Ameriky."
"Did you ever see a vessel called le Feu-Follet?"
"How in natur' is a mariner to tell all the vessels he may happen to see
on the wide ocean!"
"Did you ever serve under the French flag?"
"I decline entering at all into my private affairs. Being free, I'm free
to sarve where I please."
"It is useless to ask this witness any further questions," Cuffe quietly
observed. "The man is well known in this ship, and his own trial will
most probably take place as soon as this is ended."
The Judge Advocate assented, and Ithuel was permitted to withdraw, his
contumacy being treated with the indifference that power is apt to
exhibit toward weakness. Still there was no legal proof on which to
convict the prisoner. No one doubted his guilt, and there were the
strongest reasons, short of a downright certainty, for supposing that he
commanded the lugger which had so recently fought the boats of the very
ship in which the court was sitting; but notwithstanding, supposition
was not the evidence the laws required; and the recent execution of
Caraccioli had made so much conversation that few would condemn without
seeing their justification before them. Things were really getting to be
seriously awkward, and the court was again cleared for the purpose of
consultation. In the private discourse that followed, Cuffe stated all
that had occurred, the manner in which Raoul had been identified, and
the probabilities--nay, moral certainties--of the case. At the same
time, he was forced to allow that he possessed no direct evidence that
the lugger he had chased was a Frenchman at all, and least of all le
Feu-Follet. It is true, she had worn the French flag, but she had also
worn the English, and the Proserpine had done the same thing. To be
sure, the lugger had _fought_ under the _drapeau tricolor_, which might
be taken as a strong circumstance against her; but it was not absolutely
conclusive, for the circumstances might possibly justify deception to
the last moment; and he admitted that the frigate herself had _appeared_
to fire at the batteries under the same ensign. The case was allowed to
be embarrassing; and, while no one really doubted the identity of
Raoul, those who were behind the curtains greatly feared they might be
compelled to adjourn the trial for want of evidence, instead of making
an immediate sentence the means of getting possession of the lugger, as
had been hoped. When all these points had been sufficiently discussed,
and Cuffe had let his brethren into his view of the real state of the
case, he pointed out a course that he still trusted would prove
effectual. After a few minutes of further deliberation on this
information, the doors were opened and the court resumed its public
sitting, as before.
"Let a young woman who is known by the name of Ghita be brought in
next," said the Judge Advocate, consulting his notes.
Raoul started, and a shade of manly concern passed over his face; but he
soon recovered and seemed unmoved. Ghita and her uncle had been taken
from the cabin stateroom, and placed below, in order that the private
consultation might be perfectly secret, and it was necessary to wait a
few minutes until she could be summoned. These past, the door opened,
and the girl entered the room. She cast a glance of tender concern at
Raoul; but the novelty of her situation, and the awful character of an
oath to one of her sensitive conscience and utter inexperience, soon
drew her attention entirely to the scene more immediately before her.
The Judge Advocate explained the nature of the oath she was required to
take, and then he administered it. Had Ghita been taken less by
surprise, or had she in the least foreseen the consequences, no human
power could have induced her to submit to be sworn; but, ignorant of all
this, she submitted passively, kissing the cross with reverence, and
even offering to kneel as she made the solemn protestation. All this was
painful to the prisoner, who distinctly foresaw the consequences. Still,
so profound was his reverence for Ghita's singleness of heart and mind,
that he would not, by look or gesture, in any manner endeavor to
undermine that sacred love of truth which he knew formed the very
foundations of her character. She was accordingly sworn, without
anything occurring to alarm her affectations, or to apprise her of what
might be the sad result of the act.
"Hic et ubique? Then we'll shift our ground:--
Come hither, gentlemen,
And lay your hands upon my sword:
Swear by my sword."
"Your name is Ghita," commenced the Judge Advocate, examining his
"Ghita Caraccioli, Signore," answered the girl, in a voice so gentle and
sweet as to make a friend of every listener.
The name, however, was not heard without producing a general start, and
looks of surprise were exchanged among all in the room; most of the
officers of the ship who were not on duty being present as spectators.
"Caraccioli," repeated the Judge Advocate, with emphasis. "That is a
great name in Italy. Do you assume to belong to the illustrious house
which bears this appellation?"
"Signore, I assume to own nothing that is illustrious, being merely an
humble girl who lives with her uncle in the prince's towers on Monte
"How happens it, then, that you bear the distinguished name of
"I dare say, Mr. Medford," observed Cuffe, in English, of course, "that
the young woman doesn't know herself whence she got the name. These
matters are managed very loosely in Italy."
"Signore," resumed Ghita, earnestly, after waiting respectfully for the
captain to get through, "I bear the name of my father, as is usual with
children, but it is a name on which a heavy disgrace has fallen so
lately as yesterday; _his_ father having been a sight for the thousands
of Naples to gaze on, as his aged body hung at the yard of one of
"And do you claim to be the grand-daughter of that unfortunate
"So I have been taught to consider myself; may his soul rest in a peace
that his foes would not grant to his body! That criminal, as you
doubtless believe him, was my father's father, though few knew it, when
he was honored as a prince and a high officer of the king's."
A deep silence followed; the singularity of the circumstance, and the
air of truth which pervaded the manner of the girl, uniting to produce a
"The admiral had the reputation of being childless," observed Cuffe, in
an undertone. "Doubtless this girl's father has been the consequence of
some irregular connection."
"If there has been a promise or any words of recognition uttered before
witnesses," muttered Lyon, "accordin' to the laws of Scotland, issue and
a few pairtenant expressions will splice a couple as strongly as ye'll
be doing it in England before either of the archbishops."
"As this is Italy, it is not probable that the same law rules here.
Proceed, Mr. Judge Advocate."
"Well, Ghita Caraccioli--if that be your name--I wish to know if you
have any acquaintance with a certain Raoul Yvard, a Frenchman, and the
commander of a private lugger-of-war, called le Feu-Follet? Remember,
you are sworn to tell the truth, the _whole_ truth, and nothing but
Ghita's heart beat violently, and the color came into her face with the
impetuosity of sensitive alarm. She had no knowledge of courts, and the
object of the inquiry was unknown to her. Then followed the triumph of
innocence; the purity of her mind and the quiet of her conscience
reassuring her by bringing the strong conviction that she had no reason
to blush for any sentiment she might happen to entertain.
"Signore," she said, dropping her eyes to the floor, for the gaze of all
the court was fastened on her face--"I _am_ aquainted with Raoul Yvard,
the person you mention; this is he who sits between those two cannon. He
is a Frenchman, and he _does_ command the lugger called the Feu-Follet."
"I knew we should get it all by this witness!" exclaimed Cuffe, unable
to suppress the relief he felt at obtaining the required testimony.
"You say that you know this of your own knowledge," resumed the Judge
"Messieurs," said Raoul, rising, "will you grant me leave to speak? This
is a cruel scene, and rather than endure it--rather than give this dear
girl the cause for future pain that I know her answers will bring--I ask
that you permit her to retire, when I promise to admit all that you can
possibly prove by her means."
A short consultation followed, when Ghita was told to withdraw. But the
girl had taken the alarm from the countenance of Raoul, although she did
not understand what passed in English; and she was reluctant to quit the
place in ignorance.
"Have I said aught to injure thee, Raoul?" she anxiously asked--"I was
sworn on the Word of God, and by the sacred cross--had I foreseen any
harm to thee, the power of England would not have made me take so solemn
an oath, and then I might have been silent."
"It matters not, dearest--the fact must come out in some way or other,
and in due time you shall know all. And now, Messieurs"--the door
closing on Ghita--"there need be no further concealment between us. I am
Raoul Yvard--the person you take me for, and the person that some of
you must well know me to be. I fought your boats, Monsieur
Cuffe--avoided your _brulot,_ and led you a merry chase round Elba. I
deceived the Signor Barrofaldi and his friend the podesta, and all for
the love of this beautiful and modest girl, who has just left the cabin;
no other motive having carried me into Porto Ferrajo or into this Bay of
Naples, on the honor of a Frenchman."
"Umph!" muttered Lyon, "it must be admitted, Sir Frederick, that the
prisoner appeals to a most eligible standard!"
On another occasion national antipathy and national prejudice might have
caused the rest of the court to smile at this sally; but there was an
earnestness and sincerity in the manner and countenance of Raoul, which,
if they did not command entire belief, at least commanded respect. It
was impossible to deride such a man; and long-cherished antipathies were
rebuked by his spirited and manly declarations.
"There will be no further occasion for witnesses, Mr. Judge Advocate, if
the prisoner be disposed to acknowledge the whole truth," observed
Cuffe. "It is proper, however, Monsieur Yvard, to apprise you of the
possible consequences. You are on trial for your life; the charge being
that of coming on board an English ship in disguise, or rather into the
centre of an English fleet, you being an alien enemy, engaged in
carrying on open warfare against His Majesty."
"I am a Frenchman, Monsieur, and I serve my country," answered Raoul,
"Your right to serve your country no one will dispute; but you must know
it is against the laws of civilized warfare to act the part of a spy.
You are now on your guard and will decide for yourself. If you have
anything to say, we will hear it."
"Messieurs, there is little more to be said," answered Raoul. "That I am
_your_ enemy, as I am of all those who seek the downfall of France, I do
not deny. You know _who_ I am and _what_ I am, and I have no excuses to
make for being either. As brave Englishmen, you will know how to allow
for the love a Frenchman bears his country. As for coming on board this
ship, you cannot bring that as a charge against me, since it was at your
own invitation I did it. The rites of hospitality are as sacred as they
The members of the court exchanged significant glances with each other,
and there was a pause of more than a minute. Then the Judge Advocate
resumed his duties saying;
"I wish you to understand, prisoner, the precise legal effect of your
admissions; then I wish them to be made formally and deliberately; else
we must proceed to the examination of other witnesses. You are said to
be Raoul Yvard, an alien enemy, in arms against the king."
"Monsieur, this I have already admitted; it cannot honorably be denied."
"You are accused of coming on board His Majesty's ship Proserpine
disguised, and of calling yourself a boatman of Capri, when you were
Raoul Yvard, an alien enemy, bearing arms against the king."
"This is all true; but I was invited on board the ship, as I have just
"You are furthermore accused of rowing in among the ships of His
Majesty, now lying in the Bay of Naples, and which ships are under the
orders of Rear-Admiral Lord Nelson, Duke of Bronte, in Sicily, you being
in the same disguise, though an alien enemy, with the intent to make
your observations as a spy, and, doubtless, to avail yourself of
information thus obtained, to the injury of His Majesty's subjects, and
to your own advantage and that of the nation you serve."
"Monsieur, this is not so--_parole d'honneur_, I went into the bay in
search of Ghita Caraccioli, who has my whole heart, and whom I would
persuade to become my wife. Nothing else carried me into the bay; and I
wore this dress because I might otherwise have been known and arrested."
"This is an important fact, if you can prove it; for, though it might
not technically acquit you, it would have its effect on the
commander-in-chief, when he comes to decide on the sentence of
Raoul hesitated. He did not doubt that Ghita, she whose testimony had
just proved so serious a matter against him, would testify that she
_believed_ such was alone his motive; and this, too, in a way and with
corroborative circumstances that would carry weight with the, more
particularly as she could testify that he had done the same thing
before, in the Island of Elba, and was even in the practice of paying
her flying visits at Monte Argentaro. Nevertheless, Raoul felt a strong
reluctance to have Ghita again brought before the court. With the
jealous sensitiveness of true love, he was averse to subjecting its
object to the gaze and comments of the rude of his own sex; then he knew
his power over the feelings of the girl, and had too much sensibility
not to enter into all the considerations that might influence a man on a
point so delicate; and he could not relish the idea of publicly laying
bare feelings that he wished to be as sacred to others as they were
"Can you prove what you have just averred, Raoul Yvard?" demanded the
"Monsieur--I fear it will not be in my power. There is one--but--I much
fear it will not be in my power--unless, indeed, I am permitted to
examine my companion; he who has already been before you."
"You mean Ithuel Bolt, I presume. He has not yet been regularly before
us, but you can produce him or any other witness; the court reserving to
itself the right to decide afterward on the merits of the testimony."
"Then, Monsieur, I could wish to have Etoo-ell here."
The necessary directions were given, and Ithuel soon stood in the
presence of his judges. The oath was tendered, and Ithuel took it like a
man who had done such things before.
"Your name is Ithuel Bolt?" commenced the Judge Advocate.
"So they call me on board this ship--but if I am to be a witness, let me
swear freely; I don't wish to have words put into my mouth, or idees
chained to me with iron."
As this was said, Ithuel raised his arms and exhibited his handcuffs,
which the master-at-arms had refused to remove, and the officers of the
court had overlooked. A reproachful glance from Cuffe and a whisper from
Yelverton disposed of the difficulty--Ithuel was released.
"Now I can answer more conscientiously," continued the witness, grinning
sardonically; "when iron is eating into the flesh, a man is apt to swear
to what he thinks will be most agreeable to his masters. Go on, 'squire,
if you have anything to say."
"You appear to be an Englishman."
"Do I? Then I appear to be what I am not. I'm a native of the Granite
State, in North America. My fathers went to that region in times long
gone by to uphold their religious idees. The whole country thereabouts
sets onaccountable store by their religious privileges."
"Do you know the prisoner, Ithuel Bolt--the person who is called Raoul
Ithuel was a little at a loss exactly how to answer this question.
Notwithstanding the high motive which had led his fathers into the
wilderness, and his own peculiar estimate of his religious advantages,
an oath had got to be a sort of convertible obligation with him ever
since the day he had his first connection with a custom-house. A man who
had sworn to so many false invoices was not likely to stick at a trifle
in order to serve a friend; still, by denying the acquaintance, he might
bring discredit on himself, and thus put it out of his power to be of
use to Raoul on some more material point. As between himself and the
Frenchman, there existed a remarkable moral discrepancy; for, while he
who prided himself on his religious ancestry and pious education had a
singularly pliable conscience, Raoul, almost an Atheist in opinion,
would have scorned a simple lie when placed in a situation that touched
his honor. In the way of warlike artifices, few men were more subtle or
loved to practise them oftener than Raoul Yvard; but, the mask aside, or
when he fell back on his own native dignity of mind, death itself could
not have extorted an equivocation from him. On the other hand, Ithuel
had an affection for a lie--more especially if it served himself, or
injured his enemy; finding a mode of reconciling all this to his
spirituality that is somewhat peculiar to fanaticism as it begins to
grow threadbare. On the present occasion, he was ready to say whatever
he thought would most conform to his shipmate's wishes, and luckily he
construed the expression of the other's countenance aright.
"I _do_ know the prisoner, as you call him, 'squire," Ithuel answered,
after the pause that was necessary to come to his conclusion--"I _do_
know him _well_; and a master crittur he is when he fairly gets into a
current of your English trade. Had there been a Rule Yvard on board each
of the Frenchmen at the Nile, over here in Egypt, Nelson would have
found that his letter stood in need of some postscripts, I guess."
"Confine your answers, witness, to the purport of the question," put in
Cuffe, with dignity.
Ithuel stood too much in habitual awe of the captain of his old ship to
venture on an answer; but if looks could have done harm, that important
functionary would not have escaped altogether uninjured. As he said
nothing, the examination proceeded.
"You know him to be Raoul Yvard, the commander of the French privateer
lugger, le Feu-Follet?" continued the Judge Advocate, deeming it
prurient to fortify his record of the prisoner's confession of identity
with a little collateral evidence.
"Why--I _some_ think"--answered Ithuel, with a peculiar provincialism,
that had a good deal of granite in it--"that is, I kind o'
conclude"--catching an assent from Raoul's eye--"oh! yes--of _that_
there isn't the smallest mite of doubt in the world. He's the captain of
the lugger, and a right down good one he is!"
"You were with him in disguise when he came, into the Bay of Naples
"I in disguise, 'squire!--What have I got to disguise? I am an American
of different callings, all of which I practyse as convenience demands;
being a neutral, I've no need of disguises to go anywhere. I am never
disguised except when my jib is a little bowsed out; and that, you know,
is a come-over that befals most seafaring men at times."
"You need answer nothing concerning yourself that will tend to criminate
you. Do you know with what inducement, or on what business, Raoul Yvard
came into the Bay of Naples yesterday?"
"To own to you the candid truth, 'squire, I do not," answered Ithuel,
simply; for the nature of the tie which bound the young Frenchman so
closely to Ghita was a profound mystery, in all that related to its more
sacred feelings, to a being generally so obtuse on matters of pure
"Captain Rule is a good deal given to prying about on the coast;
and what particular eend he had in view in this expedition I
cannot tell you. His a'r'n'ds in shore, I must own, be sometimes
onaccountable!--Witness the island of Elby, gentlemen."
Ithuel indulged in a small laugh as he made this allusion; for, in his
own way, he had a humor in which he occasionally indulged, after a
manner that belonged to the class of which he was a conspicuous member.
"Never mind what occurred at Elba. Prisoner, do you wish to question the
"Etuelle," asked Raoul, "do you not know that I love Ghita Caraccioli?"
"Why, Captain Rule, I know you think so and say so--but I set down all
these matters as somewhat various and onaccountable."
"Have I not often landed on the enemy's coast solely to see her and to
be near her?"
By this time Ithuel, who was a little puzzled at first to understand
what it all meant, had got his cue, and no witness could have acquitted
himself better than he did from that moment.
"That you have," he answered; "a hundred times at least; and right in
the teeth of my advice."
"Was not my sole object, in coming into the Bay yesterday, to find
Ghita, and Ghita only?"
"Just so. Of that, gentlemen, there can be no more question than there
is about Vesuvius standing up at the head of the Bay, smoking like a
brick-kiln. That _was_ Captain Rule's sole a'r'n'd."
"I just understood ye to say, witness," put in Lyon, "and that only a
bit since, that ye did not know the prisoner's motive in coming into the
Bay of Naples. Ye called his behavior unaccountable."
"Very true, sir, and so it is to _me_. I know'd all along that _love_
was at the bottom of it; but _I_ don't call love a _motive_, while I do
call it _unaccountable_. Love's a feelin' and not a nature. That's the
explanation on't. Yes, I know'd it was _love_ for Miss Gyty, but then
that's not a motive in law."
"Answer to the facts. The court will judge of the motive for itself. How
do you know that love for the young woman you mention was Raoul Yvard's
only object in coming into the Bay?"
"One finds out such things by keeping company with a man. Captain Rule
went first to look for the young woman up on the mountain yonder, where
her aunt lives, and I went with him to talk English if it got to be
necessary; and not finding Gyty at home, we got a boat and followed her
over to Naples. Thus, you see, sir, that I have reason to know what
craft he was in chase of the whole time."
As all this was strictly true, Ithuel related it naturally and in a way
to gain some credit.
"You say you accompanied Raoul Yvard, witness, in a visit to the aunt of
the young woman called Ghita Caraccioli," observed Cuffe, in a careless
way that was intended to entrap Ithuel into an unwary answer--"where
did you go from when you set out on your journey?"
"That would depend on the place one kept his reckoning from and the time
of starting. Now, _I_ might say I started from Ameriky, which part of
the world I left some years since; or I might say from Nantes, the port
in which we fitted for sea. As for Captain Rule, he would probably
"In what manner did you come from Nantes?" continued Cuffe, without
betraying resentment at an answer that might be deemed impertinent; or
surprise, as if he found it difficult to comprehend. "You did not make
the journey on horseback, I should think?"
"Oh, I begin to understand you, Captain Cuffe. Why, if the truth must be
said, we came in the lugger the Few-Folly."
"I supposed as much. And when you went to visit this aunt where did you
leave the lugger?"
"We didn't leave her at all, sir; being under her canvas, our feet were
no sooner in the boat and the line cast off than she left us as if we
had been stuck up like a tree on dry ground."
"Where did this happen?"
"Afloat, of course, Captain Cuffe; such a thing would hardly come to
"All that I understand; but you say the prisoner left his vessel in
order to visit an aunt of the young woman's; thence he went into the Bay
for the sole purpose of finding the young woman herself. Now, this is an
important fact, as it concerns the prisoner's motives and may affect his
life. The court must act with all the facts before it; as a
commencement, tell us where Raoul Yvard left his lugger to go on yonder
"I do not think, Captain Cuffe, you've got the story exactly right.
Captain Rule didn't go on the mountain, a'ter all, so much to see the
aunt as to see the niece at the aunt's dwelling; if one would eend
right in a story, he must begin right."
"I left le Feu-Follet, Monsieur le Capitaine," Raoul calmly observed,
"not two cables' length from the very spot where your own ship is now
lying; but it was at an hour of the night when the good people of Capri
were asleep, and they knew nothing of our visit. You see the lugger is
no longer here."
"And do you confirm this story under the solemnity of your oath?"
demanded Cuffe of Ithuel, little imagining how easy it was to the
witness to confirm anything he saw fit in the way he mentioned.
"Sartain; every word is true, gentlemen," answered Ithuel. "It was not
more than a cable's length from this very spot, according to my
"And where is the lugger now?" asked Cuffe, betraying the drift of all
his questions in his eagerness to learn more.
Ithuel was not to be led on so hurriedly or so blindly. Affecting a
girlish sort of coyness, he answered, simpering:
"Why, Captain Cuffe, I cannot think of answering a question like that
under the solemnity of an oath, as you call it. No one can know where
the little Folly is but them that's in her."
Cuffe was a little disconcerted at the answer, while Lyon smiled
ironically; the latter then took upon himself the office of
cross-examining, with an opinion of his own penetration and shrewdness
that at least ought to have made him quite equal to encountering one of
Ithuel's readiness in subterfuges.
"We do not expect you to tell us of your own knowledge, witness," he
said, "precisely the position by latitude and longitude, or by the
points of the compass, at this identical instant, of the craft called by
some the le Few-Folly, by others the Few-Follay, and, as it would now
seem, by yourself, the Little Folly; for that, as ye've well obsairved,
can be known only to those who are actually on board her; but ye'll be
remembering, perhaps, the place it was agreed on between you, where ye
were to find the lugger at your return from this hazardous expedition
that ye've been making amang ye, into the Bay of Naples?"
"I object to that question as contrary to law," put in Ithuel, with a
spirit and promptitude that caused the Judge Advocate to start, and the
members of the court to look at each other in surprise.
"Nay, if ye object to the question on the ground that a true ainswer
will be criminating yoursel', ye'll be justified in so doing, by reason
and propriety; but then ye'll consider well the consequences it may have
on your own case, when that comes to be investigated."
"I object on gin'ral principles," said Ithuel. "Whatever Captain Rule
may have said on the subject, admitting that he said anything, just to
bear out the argument (by the way Ithuel called this word arg_oo_ment, a
pronunciation against which we enter our solemn protest); admitting,
_I,_ say, that _he_ said anything on the subject, it cannot be
testimony, as _hear_say evidence is ag'in law all the world over."
The members of the court looked at the Judge Advocate, who returned the
glance with an air of suitable gravity; then, on a motion of Sir
Frederick's, the court was cleared to discuss the point in private.
"How's this, Mr. Judge Advocate?" demanded Cuffe, as soon as the coast
was clear; "it is of the last importance to find where that lugger
is--do you hold that the question is contrary to law?"
"Its importance makes it pertinent, I think, sir, as for the legality, I
do not see how it can be affected by the circumstance that the fact came
up in discourse."
"D'ye think so?" observed Sir Frederick, looking much more profound than
was his wont. "Legality is the boast of English law, and I should
dislike excessively to fail in that great essential. What is _said_ must
be _heard_, to be _repeated_; and this seems very like _hearsay_
testimony. I believe it's admitted all round we must reject _that_."
"What is your opinion, Captain Lyon?" demanded the president.
"The case is somewhat knotty, but it may be untied," returned the Scot,
with a sneer on his hard features. "No need of Alexander and his sword
to cut the rope, I'm thinking, when we bring common sense to bear on the
point. What is the matter to be ascertained? Why, the place which was
agreed on as the point of rendezvous between this Rawl Eevart and his
people. Now, this arrangement must have been made orally, or in writing;
if orally, testimony to the words uttered will not be hearsay, further
than testimony to what a man has seen will be eyesight."
"Quite true, Mr. President and gentlemen!" exclaimed the Judge Advocate,
who was not a little relieved at finding a clue to lead him out of the
difficulty. "If the agreement had been made in writing, then that
writing would have to be produced, if possible, as the best evidence the
case affords; but, being made in words, those words can be sworn to."
Cuffe was much relieved by this opinion, and, as Sir Frederick did not
seem disposed to push his dissent very far, the matter would have been
determined on the spot, but for a love of disputation that formed part
and parcel, to speak legally on a legal subject, of Lyon's moral
"I'm agreeing with the Judge Advocate, as to his distinction about the
admissibility of the testimony on the ground of its not being
technically what is called hearsay evidence," he observed; "but a
difficulty suggests itself to my mind touching the pairtenency. A
witness is sworn to speak to the point before the court; but he is not
sworn to discuss all things in heaven and airth. Now, is it pairtenent
to the fact of Rawl Eevart's being a spy, that he made sairtain
agreements to met this or that fellow-creature, in this or that place?
Now, as I comprehend the law, it divides all questions into two great
classes, the pairtenent and the impairtenent, of which the first are
legal and the second illegal."
"I think it would be a great piece of audacity," said Sir Frederick,
disdainfully, "for such a fellow as this Bolt to pretend to call any
question we can put him, impertinent!"
"That's no just the p'int, Sir Frederick; this being altogether a matter
of law, while ye'll be thinking of station and etiquette. Then, there's
two classes of the pairtenent, and two of the impairtenent; one being
legal and logical, as it might be, and the other conventional and civil,
as one may say. There's a nice distinction, latent, between the two."
"I believe the court is of opinion that the question may be put,"
observed Cuffe, who was impatient of the Scotchman's subtleties, bowing
to Sir Frederick, to ask an acquiescence which he immediately received.
"We will re-open the doors, and proceed in the examination."
"The court is of opinion, witness," resumed the Judge Advocate, when
every one was in his place again, "that you must answer the question. In
order that you may understand it, I will now repeat it. Where was it
agreed between Raoul Yvard and his people, that they should meet again?"
"I do not think the people of the lugger had anything to say in the
matter," answered Ithuel, in the most unmoved manner. "If they had, I
knew nothing on't."
The court felt embarrassed; but as it would never do to be thwarted in
this manner, a look of determination was exchanged between the members,
and the examination proceeded.
"If not the people, the officers, then. Where was it agreed between the
prisoner and his _officers_, that the former should find the lugger,
when he returned from his expedition into the Bay?"
"Well, now, gentlemen," answered Ithuel, turning his quid from one
cheek into the other, "I _some_ conclude you've no great acquaintance
with Captain Rule, a'ter all. He is not apt to enter into any agreements
at all. What he wants done, he orders; and what he orders, must
"What did he _order_, then, as respects the place where the lugger was
to wait for his return?"
"I am sorry to be troublesome, please the court," returned the witness,
with admirable self-possession; "but law is law, all over the world, and
I rather guess this question is ag'in it. In the Granite State, it is
always held, when a thing can be proved by the person who said any
particular words, that the question must be put to him, and not to a
"Not if that person is a prisoner, and on his trial," answered the Judge
Advocate, staring to hear such a distinction from such a source; "though
the remark is a good one, in the cases of witnesses purely. You must
"It is unnecessary," again interposed Raoul. "I left my vessel here,
where I have told you, and had I made a certain signal, the last night,
from the heights of St. Agata, le Feu-Follet would have stood in near to
the rocks of the Sirens, and taken me off again. As the hour is passed,
and the signal is not likely to be made, it is probable my lieutenant
has gone to another rendezvous, of which the witness knows nothing, and
which, certainly, I shall never betray."
There was so much manliness and quiet dignity in Raoul's deportment,
that whatever he said made an impression. His answer disposed of the
matter, for the moment at least. The Judge Advocate, accordingly, turned
to other inquiries. Little remained, however, to be done. The prisoner
had admitted his identity; his capture, with all the attendant
circumstances, was in proof; and his defence came next.
When Raoul rose to speak, he felt a choking emotion; but it soon left
him, and he commenced in a steady, calm tone, his accent giving point
and interest to many of his expressions.
"Messieurs," said he, "I will not deny my name, my character, or my
manner of life. I am a Frenchman, and the enemy of your country. I am
also the enemy of the King of Naples, in whose territories you found me.
I have destroyed his and your ships. Put me on board my lugger, and I
should do both again. Whoever is the enemy of la France is the enemy of
Raoul Yvard. Honorable seamen, like yourselves, Messieurs, can
understand this. I am young. My heart is not made of rock; evil as it
may be, it can love beauty and modesty and virtue in the other sex. Such
has been my fate--I love Ghita Caraccioli; have endeavored to make her
my wife for more than a year. She has not authorized me to say that my
suit was favored--this I must acknowledge; but she is not the less
admirable for that. We differ in our opinions of religion, and I fear
she left Monte Argentaro because, refusing my hand, she thought it
better, perhaps, that we should not meet again. It is so with maidens,
as you must know, Messieurs. But it is not usual for us, who are less
refined, to submit to such self-denial. I learned whither Ghita had
come, and followed; my heart was a magnet, that her beauty drew after
it, as our needles are drawn toward the pole. It was necessary to go
into the Bay of Naples, among the vessels of enemies, to find her I
loved; and this is a very different thing from engaging in the pitiful
attempts of a spy. Which of you would not have done the same, Messieurs?
You are braves Anglais, and I know you would not hesitate. Two of you
are still youthful, like myself, and must still feel the power of
beauty; even the Monsieur that is no longer a young man has had his
moments of passion, like all that are born of woman. Messieurs, I have
no more to say: you know the rest. If you condemn me, let it be as an
unfortunate Frenchman, whose heart had its weaknesses--not as an
ignominious and treacherous spy."
The earnestness and nature with which Raoul spoke were not without
effect. Could Sir Frederick have had his way, the prisoner would have
been acquitted on the spot. But Lyon was skeptical as to the story of
love, a sentiment about which he knew very little; and there was a
spirit of opposition in him, too, that generally induced him to take the
converse of most propositions that were started. The prisoner was
dismissed, and the court closed its doors, to make up its decision by
itself, in the usual form.
We should do injustice to Cuffe, if we did not say that he had some
feeling in favor of the gallant foe who had so often foiled him. Could
he have had his will at that moment, he would have given Raoul his
lugger, allowed the latter a sufficient start, and then gladly have
commenced a chase round the Mediterranean, to settle all questions
between them. But it was too much to give up the lugger as well as the
prisoner. Then his oath as a judge had its obligations also, and he felt
himself bound to yield to the arguments of the Judge Advocate, who was a
man of technicalities, and thought no more of sentiment than
The result of the deliberation, which lasted an hour, was a finding
against the prisoner. The court was opened, the record made up and read,
the offender introduced, and the judgment delivered. The finding was,
"that Raoul Yvard had been caught in disguise, in the midst of the
allied fleets, and that he was guilty as a spy." The sentence was, to
suffer death the succeeding day by hanging at the yard-arm of such ship
as the commander-in-chief might select, on approving of the sentence.
As Raoul expected little else, he heard his doom with steadiness, bowing
with dignity and courtesy to the court, as he was led away to be placed
in irons, as befitted one condemned.
"The world's all title-page; there's no contents;
The world's all face; the man who shows his heart,
Is hooted for his nudities, and scorned."
Bolt had not been tried. His case had several serious difficulties, and
the orders allowed of a discretion. The punishment could scarcely be
less than death, and, in addition to the loss of a stout, sinewy man, it
involved questions of natural right, that were not always pleasant to be
considered. Although the impressment of American seamen into the British
ships of war was probably one of the most serious moral as well as
political wrongs that one independent nation ever received at the hands
of another, viewed as a practice of a generation's continuance it was
not wholly without some relieving points. There was a portion of the
British marine that disdained to practise it at all; leaving it to the
coarser spirits of the profession to discharge a duty that they
themselves found repugnant to their feelings and their habits. Thus, we
remember to have heard an American seaman say, one who had been present
on many occasions when his countrymen were torn from under their flag,
that in no instance he ever witnessed was the officer who committed the
wrong of an air and manner that he should describe as belonging to the
class of gentlemen on shore. Whenever one of the latter boarded his
vessel, the crew was permitted to pass unquestioned.
Let this be as it might, there is no question that a strong and generous
feeling existed in the breasts of hundreds in the British navy,
concerning the nature of the wrong that was done a foreign people, by
the practice of impressing men from under their flag. Although Cuffe was
too much of a martinet to carry his notions on the subject to a very
refined point, he was too much of a man not to be reluctant to punish
another for doing what he felt he would have done himself, under similar
circumstances, and what he could not but know he would have had a
perfect right to do. It was impossible to mistake one like Ithuel, who
had so many of the Granite peculiarities about him, for anything but
what he was; and so well was his national character established in the
ship, that the _sobriquet_ of The Yankee had been applied to him by his
shipmates from the very first. The fact, therefore, stood him so far in
hand that Cuffe, after a consultation with Winchester, determined not to
put the alleged deserter on trial; but, after letting him remain a short
time in irons, to turn him to duty again, under a pretence that was
often used on such occasions, viz., to give the man an opportunity of
proving his American birth, if he were really what he so strenuously
professed to be. Poor Ithuel was not the only one who was condemned to
this equivocal servitude, hundreds passing weary years of probation,
with the same dim ray of hope, for ever deferred, gleaming in the
distance. It was determined, however, not to put Ithuel on his trial
until the captain had conversed with the admiral on the subject, at
least; and Nelson, removed from the influence of the siren by whom he
was enthralled, was a man inclined to leniency, and of even chivalrous
notions of justice. To such contradictions is even a great mind subject,
when it loses sight of the polar star of its duties!
When the sentence on Raoul was pronounced, therefore, and the prisoner
was removed, the court adjourned; a boat being immediately despatched to
the Foudroyant with a copy of the proceedings, for the rear-admiral's
approbation. Then followed a discussion on much the most interesting
topic for them all: the probable position of, and the means of
capturing, the lugger. That le Feu-Follet was near, all were convinced;
but where she was to be found, it was hard to tell. Officers had been
sent on the heights of Capri, one of which towers more than a thousand
feet above the sea; but they returned from a bootless errand. Nothing
resembling the lugger was visible in the offing, among the islands, or
in the bays. A cutter had been sent to look round Campanella, and
another crossed the mouth of the bay, to take a look to the northward of
Ischia, in order to make certain that the treacherous craft had not gone
behind the mountains of that island for a refuge. In short, no expedient
likely to discover the fugitive was neglected. All failed, however; boat
after boat came back without success, and officer after officer returned
wearied and disappointed.
Much of the day was passed in this manner, for it was a calm, and moving
either of the ships was out of the question. In the full expectation of
discovering the lugger somewhere in striking distance, Cuffe had even
gone so far as to detail a party from each vessel, with a view to attack
her in boats again; feeling no doubt of success, now that he had the
disposable force of three vessels to send against his enemy. Winchester
was to have commanded, as a right purchased by his blood; nor was the
hope of succeeding in this way abandoned, until the last boat, that
which had been sent round Ischia, returned, reporting its total want
"I have heard it said," observed Cuffe, as he and his brother captains
stood conversing together on the quarter-deck of the Proserpine just
after this last report had been made--"I have heard it said, that this
Raoul Yvard has actually gone boldly into several of our ports, under
English or neutral colors, and lain there a day or two at a time
unsuspected, until it has suited him to go out again. Can it be possible
he is up, off the town? There is such a fleet of craft in and about the
mole that a little lugger, with her paint and marks altered, _might_ be
among them. What think you, Lyon?"
"It is sartainly a law of nature, Captain Cuffe, that smaller objects
should be overlooked, in the presence of greater; and such a thing
_might_ happen, therefore; though I should place it among the
improbables, if not absolutely among the impossibles. 'Twould be far
safer, nevertheless, to run in, in the manner you designate, among the
hundred or two of ships, than to venture alone into a haven or a
roadstead. If you wish for retirement, Sir Frederick, plunge at once
into the Strand, or take lodgings on Ludgate Hill; but if you wish to be
noticed and chased, go into a Highland village and just conceal your
name for a bit! Ah--he knows the difference well who has tried both
modes of life!"
"This is true, Cuffe," observed the Baronet, "yet I hardly think a
Frenchman, big or little, would be apt to come and anchor under
"'Twould be something like the lion's lying down with the lamb,
certainly, and ought not to be counted on as very likely. Mr.
Winchester, is not that our boat coming round the sloop's quarter?"
"Yes, sir--she has got back from Naples--quartermaster----"
"Aye, quartermaster," interrupted Cuffe, sternly, "a pretty lookout is
this! Here is our own boat close in upon us, and not a word from your
lips on the interesting subject, sir?"
This word, _sir_, is much used on board a man-of-war, and in all its
convertible significations. From the inferior to the superior, it comes
as natural as if it were a gift from above; from equal to equal, it has
a ceremonious and be-on-your-guard air that sometimes means respect,
sometimes disrespect; while from a captain to a quartermaster, it always
means reproof, if it do not mean menace. In discussions of this sort, it
is wisest for the weaker party to be silent; and nowhere is this truth
sooner learned than on shipboard. The quartermaster, consequently, made
no answer, and the gig came alongside, bringing back the officer who had
carried the proceedings of the court up to Naples.
"Here we have it," said Cuffe, opening the important document as soon
has he and his brother captains were again in the cabin.
"Approved--ordered that the sentence be carried into execution on board
His Majesty's ship the Proserpine, Captain Cuffe, to-morrow, between the
hours of sunrise and sunset."
Then followed the date, and the well-known signature of "Nelson and
Bronte." All this was what Cuffe both wished and expected, though he
would have preferred a little more grace in carrying out the orders. The
reader is not to suppose from this that our captain was either vengeful
or bloody-minded; or that he really desired to inflict on Raoul any
penalty for the manner in which he had baffled his own designs and
caused his crew to suffer. So far from this, his intention was to use
the sentence to extort from the prisoner a confession of the orders he
had given to those left in the lugger, and then to use this confession
as a means of obtaining his pardon, with a transfer to a prison-ship.
Cuffe had no great veneration for privateersmen, nor was his estimate of
their morality at all unreasonable, when he inferred that one who served
with gain for his principal object would not long hesitate about
purchasing his own life by the betrayal of a secret like that he now
asked. Had Raoul belonged even to a republican navy, the English
man-of-wars-man might have hesitated about carrying out his plan; but,
with the master of a corsair, it appeared to be the most natural thing
imaginable to attempt its execution. Both Sir Frederick and Lyon viewed
the matter in the same light; and, now that everything was legally done
that was necessary to the design, the capture of the lugger was deemed
more than half accomplished.
"It is somewhat afflicting, too, Cuffe," observed Sir Frederick, in his
drawling, indolent way; "it is somewhat afflicting, too, Cuffe, to be
compelled to betray one's friends or to be hanged! In parliament, now,
we say we'll be hanged if we do, and here you say you'll be hanged if
"Poh, poh! Dashwood; no one expects this Raoul Yvard will come to that
fate, for no one thinks he will hold out. We shall get the lugger, and
that will be the end of it. I'd give a thousand pounds to see that d--d
Few-Folly at anchor within pistol-shot of my stern at this blessed
moment. My feelings are in the matter."
"Five hundred would be a high price," observed Lyon, dryly. "I much
doubt if the shares of us three come to as much as a hundred apiece,
even should the craft fall into our hands."
"By the way, gents," put in Sir Frederick, gaping--"suppose we toss up
or throw the dice to see which shall have all, on supposition we get her
within the next twenty-four hours, timing the affair by this ship's
chronometers. You've dice on board, I dare say, Cuffe, and we can make a
regular time of it here for half an hour, and no one the wiser."
"Your pardon, Captain Dashwood; I can suffer no such amusement. It is
unmilitary and contrary to regulations; and, then, hundreds are not as
plenty with Lyon and myself as they are with you. I like to pocket my
prize-money first and sport on it afterward."
"You're right, Captain Cuffe," said Lyon; "though there can be no great
innovation in sporting on Sir Frederick's portion, if he see fit to
indulge us. Money is an agreeable acquisition beyond a doubt, and life
is sweet to saint and sinner alike; but I much question your facility in
persuading this Monshure Rawl to tell you his secret consairning the
lugger, in the manner ye anticipate."
This opinion met with no favor; and after discussing the point among
themselves a little longer, the three captains were on the point of
separating, when Griffin burst into the cabin without even knocking and
altogether regardless of the usual observances.
"One would think it blew a typhoon, Mr. Griffin," said Cuffe, coldly,
"by the rate at which you run before it."
"It's an ill wind that blows no luck, sir," answered the lieutenant,
actually panting for breath, so great had been his haste to communicate
what he had to say. "Our lookout, on the heights above Campanella, has
just signalled us that he sees the lugger to the southward and
eastward--somewhere near the point of Piane, I suppose, sir; and what
is better, the wind is coming off shore earlier than common
"That _is_ news!" exclaimed Cuffe, rubbing his hands with delight. "Go
on deck, Griffin, and tell Winchester to unmoor; then make a signal to
the other ships to do the same. Now, gentlemen, we have the game in our
own hands, and let us see and play it skilfully. In a couple of hours it
will be dark, and our movements can all be made without being seen. As
the Proserpine is, perhaps, the fastest ship"--at this remark Sir
Frederick smiled ironically, while Lyon raised his eyebrows like one who
saw a marvel--"as the Proserpine is, perhaps, the fastest ship, she
ought to go the furthest to leeward; and I will get under way and stand
off to sea, keeping well to the northward and eastward, as if I were
running for the Straits of Bonifacio, for instance, until it gets to be
dark, when I will haul up south for a couple of hours or so; then come
up as high as southeast until we are to the southward of the Gulf of
Salerno. This will be before daylight, if the wind stand. At daylight,
then, you may look out for me off Piane, say two leagues, and to
seaward, I hope, of the lugger. You shall follow, Sir Frederick, just as
the sun sets, and keep in my wake, as near as possible, heaving to,
however, at midnight. This will bring you fairly abreast of the gulf and
about midway between the two capes, a little west of south from
Campanella. Lyon, you can lie here until the night has fairly set in,
when you can pass between Capri and the cape and run down south two
hours and heave to. This will place you in a position to watch the
passage to and from the gulf under the northern shore."
"And this arrangement completed to your satisfaction, Captain Cuffe,"
asked Lyon, deliberately helping himself to an enormous pinch of snuff,
"what will be your pleasure in the posterior evolutions?"
"Each ship must keep her station until the day has fairly dawned. Should
it turn out as I trust it may, that we've got le Few-Folly in-shore of
us, all we'll have to do will be to close in upon her and drive her up
higher and higher into the Bay. She will naturally run into shallow
water; when we must anchor off, man the boats, send them north and south
of her, and let them board her under cover of our fire. If we find the
lugger embayed, we'll have her as sure as fate."
"Very prettily conceived, Captain Cuffe; and in a way to be handsomely
executed. But if we should happen to find the heathen outside of us?"
"Then make sail in chase to seaward, each ship acting for the best.
Come, gentlemen, I do not wish to be inhospitable, but the Proserpine
must be off. She has a long road before her; and the winds of this
season of the year can barely be counted on for an hour at a time."
Cuffe being in such a hurry, his guests departed without further
ceremony. As for Sir Frederick, the first thing he did was to order
dinner an hour earlier than he had intended, and then to invite his
surgeon and marine-officer, two capital pairs of knives and forks, to
come and share it with him, after which he sat down to play somewhat
villanously on a flute. Two hours later he gave the necessary orders to
his first lieutenant; after which he troubled himself very little about
the frigate he commanded. Lyon, on the other hand, sat down to a very
frugal meal alone as soon as he found himself again in his sloop; first
ordering certain old sails to be got on deck and to be mended for the
eighth or ninth time.
With the Proserpine it was different Her capstan-bars flew round, and
one anchor was actually catted by the time her captain appeared on deck.
The other soon followed, the three topsails fell, were sheeted home and
hoisted, and sail was set after sail, until the ship went steadily past
the low promontory of Ana Capri a cloud of canvas. Her head was to the
westward, inclining a little north; and had there been any one to the
southward to watch her movements, as there was not, so far as the eye
could see, it would have been supposed that she was standing over toward
the coast of Sardinia, most probably with an intention of passing by the
Straits of Bonifacio, between that island and Corsica. The wind being
nearly east, and it blowing a good breeze, the progress of the ship was
such as promised to fulfil all the expectations of her commander.
As the sun set and darkness diffused itself over the Mediterranean, the
lighter steering-sails were taken in and the Proserpine brought the wind
abeam, standing south. One of the last things visible from the decks,
besides the mountains of the islands and of the main, the curling smoke
of Vesuvius, the blue void above and the bluer sea below, was the speck
of the Terpsichore, as that ship followed, as near as might be, in her
wake; Sir Frederick and his friends still at table, but with a vigilant
and industrious first lieutenant on deck, who was sufficient in himself
for all that was required of the vessel in any emergency. The latter had
his orders, and he executed them with a precision and attention that
promised to leave nothing to be wished for. On the other hand, the
people of the Ringdove were kept at work mending old sails until the
hour to "knock off work" arrived; then the ship unmoored. At the proper
time the remaining anchor was lifted, and the sloop went through the
pass between Capri and Campanella, as directed, when Lyon sent for the
first lieutenant to join him in his cabin.
"Look you here, McBean," said Lyon, pointing to the chart which lay on
the table; "Captain Cuffe has just run down off Piane, and will find
himself well to leeward when the west wind comes to-morrow; Sir
Frederick has followed famously clear of the land, and won't be in a
much better box. Now, this lugger must be pretty picking if all they
say of her be true. Ten to one but she has gold in her. These corsairs
are desperate rogues after the siller, and, taking hull, sails,
armament, head-money, and the scrapings of the lockers together, I
shouldn't marvel if she come to something as good as L8,000 or L10,000.
This would be fair dividing for a sloop, but would amount to a painfully
small trifle, as between the officers of three ships, after deducting
the admiral's share. What are you thinking of, Airchy?"
"Of just that, Captain Lyon. It would be dividing every lieutenant's
share by three, as well as every captain's."
"That's it, Airchy, and so ye'll have a shairp lookout on deck. There'll
be no occasion to run down quite as far as Captain Cuffe suggested,
ye'll obsairve; for, if in the bay, the lugger will work her way up
toward this headland, and we'll be all the more likely to fall in with
her, by keeping near it ourselves. Ye'll take the idea?"
"It's plain enou', Captain Lyon; and I'll be obsairving it. How is the
law understood as respects dairkness? I understand that none share but
such as are in _sight_; but is dairkness deemed a legal impediment?"
"To be sure it is; the idea being that all who can see may act. Now, if
we catch the lugger before Captain Cuffe and Sir Frederick even know
where she is, on what principle can they aid and sustain us in
"And you wish a shairp lookout the night, Captain Lyon?"
"That's just it, Airchy. Ye'll all be doing your best in the way of
eyes, and we may get the lugger alone. 'Twould be such a pity, Mr.
McBean, to divide by three, when the sums might be kept entire!"
Such was the state of feeling with which each of these three officers
entered on his present duty. Cuffe was earnest in the wish to catch his
enemy, and this principally for the credit of the thing, though a little
out of a desire to revenge his own losses; Sir Frederick Dashwood,
indifferent to all but his own pleasures; and Lyon, closely attentive to
the main chance. An hour or two later, or just before Cuffe turned in,
he sent a message to request the presence of his first lieutenant, if
the latter were still up. Winchester was writing up his private journal;
closing the book, he obeyed the order in that quiet, submissive manner
which a first lieutenant is more apt to use toward his captain than
toward any one else.
"Good evening, Winchester," said Cuffe, in a familiar, friendly way,
which satisfied the subordinate that he was not sent for to be 'rattled
down'; "draw a chair and try a glass of this Capri wine with some water.
It's not carrying sail hard to drink a gallon of it; yet I rather think
it fills up the chinks better than nothing."
"Thank'ee, Captain Cuffe, we like it in the gun-room, and got off a
fresh cask or two this morning, while the court was sitting. So they
tell me, sir, his lordship has put his name to it, and that this
Frenchman is to swing from our fore-yard-arm some time to-morrow?"
"It stands so on _paper_, Winchester; but if he confess where his lugger
lies, all will go smoothly enough with him. However, as things look
_now_, we'll have her, and thanks only to ourselves."
"Well, sir, that will be best, on the whole. I do not like to see a man
selling his own people."
"There you are right enough, Winchester, and I trust we shall get along
without it; though the lugger must be ours. I sent for you, by the way,
about this Bolt--something must be done with that fellow."
"It's a clear case of desertion, Captain Cuffe; and, as it would now
seem, of treason in the bargain. I would rather hang ten such chaps than
one man like the Frenchman."
"Well, it's clear, Mr. Winchester, _you_ do not bear malice! Have you
forgotten Porto Ferrajo, and the boats, already? or do you love them
that despitefully use you?"
"'Twas all fair service, sir, and one never thinks anything of that. I
owe this Monsieur Yvard no grudge for what he did; but, now it's all
fairly over, I rather like him the better for it. But it's a very
different matter as to this Bolt; a skulking scoundrel, who would let
other men fight his country's battles, while he goes a-privateering
against British commerce."
"Aye, there's the rub, Winchester! _Are_ they _his_ country's battles?"
"Why, we took him for an Englishman, sir, and we must act up to our own
professions, in order to be consistent."
"And so hang an innocent man for a treason that he _could_ not commit."
"Why, Captain Cuffe, do you believe the fellow's whining story about his
being a Yankee? If that be true, we have done him so much injustice
already, as to make his case a very hard one. For my part I look upon
all these fellows as only so many disaffected Englishmen, and treat them
"That is a sure way to quiet one's feelings, Winchester; but it's most
too serious when it comes to hanging. If Bolt deserve any punishment, he
deserves death; and that is a matter about which one ought to be
tolerably certain, before he pushes things too far. I've sometimes had
my doubts about three or four of our people's being Englishmen,
"There can be no certainty in these matters, unless one could carry a
parish register for the whole kingdom in his ship, Captain Cuffe. If
they are not Englishmen, why do they not produce satisfactory proofs to
show it? That is but reasonable, you must allow, sir?"
"I don't know, Winchester; there are two sides to that question, too.
Suppose the King of Naples should seize you, here, ashore, and call on
you to prove that you are not one of his subjects? How would you go to
work to make it out--no parish register being at hand?"
"Well, then, Captain Cuffe, if we are so very wrong, we had better give
all these men up, at once--though one of them is the very best hand in
the ship; I think it right to tell you that, sir."
"There is a wide difference, sir, between giving a man up, and hanging
him. We are short-handed as it is, and cannot spare a single man. I've
been looking over your station bills, and they never appeared so feeble
before. We want eighteen or nineteen good seamen to make them
respectable again; and though this Bolt is no great matter as a seaman,
he can turn his hand to so many things, that he was as useful as the
boatswain. In a word, we cannot spare him--either to let him go or to
hang him; even were the latter just."
"I'm sure, sir, I desire to do nothing that is unjust or inconvenient,
and so act your pleasure in the affair."
"My pleasure is just this then, Winchester. We must turn Bolt to duty.
If the fellow is really an American, it would be a wretched business
even to flog him for desertion; and as to treason, you know, there can
be none without allegiance. Nelson gives me a discretion, and so we'll
act on the safe side, and just turn him over to duty again. When there
comes an opportunity, I'll inquire into the facts of his case, and if he
can make out that he is not an Englishman, why, he must be discharged.
The ship will be going home in a year or two, when everything can be
settled fairly and deliberately. I dare say Bolt will not object to
"Perhaps not, sir. Then there's the crew, Captain Cuffe. They may think
it strange treason and desertion go unpunished. These fellows talk and
reason more than is always known aft."
"I've thought of all that, Winchester. I dare say you have heard of such
a thing as a King's evidence? Well, here has Raoul Yvard been tried and
found guilty as a spy; Bolt having been a witness. A few remarks
judiciously made may throw everything off on that tack; and appearances
will be preserved, so far as discipline is concerned."
"Yes, sir, that might be done, it's true; but an uneasy berth will the
poor devil have of it, if the people fancy he has been a King's
evidence. Men of that class hate a traitor worse than they do crime,
Captain Cuffe, and they'll ride Bolt down like the main tack."
"Perhaps not; and if they do, 'twill not be as bad as hanging. The
fellow must think himself luckily out of a bad scrape, and thank God for
all his mercies. You can see that he suffers nothing unreasonable, or
greatly out of the way. So send an order to the master-at-arms to knock
the irons off the chap, and send him to duty, before you turn in,
This settled the matter as to Ithuel, for the moment, at least. Cuffe
was one of those men who was indisposed to push things too far, while he
found it difficult to do his whole duty. There was not an officer in the
Proserpine, who had any serious doubts about the true country of Bolt,
though there was not one officer among them all who would openly avow
it. There was too much "granite" about Ithuel to permit Englishmen long
to be deceived, and that very language on which the impressed man so
much prided himself would have betrayed his origin, had other evidence
been wanting. Still there was a tenacity about an English ship of war,
in that day, that did not easily permit an athletic hand to escape its
grasp, when it had once closed upon him. In a great and enterprising
service, like that of Great Britain, an _esprit de corps_ existed in the
respective ships, which made them the rivals of each other, and men
being the great essentials of efficiency, a single seaman was
relinquished with a reluctance that must have been witnessed, fully to
be understood. Cuffe consequently could not make up his mind to do full
justice to Ithuel, while he could not make up his mind to push injustice
so far as trial and punishment. Nelson had left him a discretion, as has
been said, and this he chose to use in the manner just mentioned.
Had the case of the New Hampshire man been fairly brought before the
British Admiral, his discharge would have been ordered without
hesitation. Nelson was too far removed from the competition of the
separate ships, and ordinarily under the control of too high motives, to
be accessory to the injustice of forcibly detaining a foreigner in his
country's service; for it was only while under the malign influence to
which there has already been allusion, that he ceased to be high-minded
and just. Prejudiced he was, and in some cases exceedingly so; America
standing but little better in his eyes than France herself. For the
first of these antipathies he had some apology; since in addition to the
aversion that was naturally produced by the history of the cisatlantic
Republic, accident had thrown him in the way, in the West Indies, of
ascertaining the frauds, deceptions, and cupidities of a class of men
that never exhibit national character in its brightest and most alluring
colors. Still, he was too upright of mind willingly to countenance
injustice, and too chivalrous to oppress. But Ithuel had fallen into the
hands of one who fell far short of the high qualities of the Admiral,
while at the same time he kept clear of his more prominent weaknesses,
and who _was_ brought within the sphere of the competition between the
respective ships and their crews.
Winchester, of course, obeyed his orders. He roused the master-at-arms
from his hammock, and directed him to bring Ithuel Bolt to the
"In consequence of what took place this morning," said the first
lieutenant, in a voice loud enough to be heard by all near him, "Captain
Cuffe has seen fit to order you to be released, Bolt, and turned to duty
again. You will know how to appreciate this leniency, and will serve
with greater zeal than ever, I make no doubt. Never forget that you have
been with a yard-rope, as it might be, round your neck. In the morning
you will be stationed and berthed anew."
Ithuel was too shrewd to answer. He fully understood the reason why he
escaped punishment, and it increased his hopes of eventually escaping
from the service itself. Still he gagged a little at the idea of passing
for one who peached--or for a _"State's_-evidence," as he called it;
that character involving more of sin. In vulgar eyes, than the
commission of a thousand legal crimes. This gave Winchester no concern.
After dismissing his man he gossiped a minute or two with Yelverton, who
had the watch, gaped once or twice somewhat provokingly, and, going
below, was in a deep sleep in ten minutes.
"White as a white sail on a dusky sea.
When half the horizon's clouded and half free,
Fluttering between the dim wave and the sky
Is hope's last gleam in man's extremity."
The dawning of day, on the morning which succeeded, was a moment of
great interest on board the different English ships which then lay off
the Gulf of Salerno. Cuffe and Lyon were called, according to especial
orders left by themselves, while even Sir Frederick Dashwood allowed
himself to be awakened, to hear the report of the officer of the watch.
The first was up quite half an hour before the light appeared. He even
went into the maintop again, in order to get as early and as wide a
survey of the horizon as he wished. Griffin went aloft with him, and
together they stood leaning against the topmast rigging, watching the
slow approach of those rays which gradually diffused themselves over the
whole of a panorama that was as bewitching as the hour and the lovely
accessories of an Italian landscape could render it.
"I see nothing _in-shore_," exclaimed Cuffe, in a tone of
disappointment, when the light permitted a tolerable view of the coast.
"If she should be _outside_ of us our work will be only half done!"
"There is a white speck close in with the land, _sir_," returned
Griffin; "here, In the direction of those ruins, of which our gentlemen
that have been round in the boats to look at, tell such marvels; I
believe, however, it is only a felucca or a sparanara. There is a peak
to the sail that does not look lugger-fashion."
"What is this, off here at the northwest, Griffin?--Is it too large for
the le Few-Folly?"
"That must be the Terpsichore, sir. It's just where she _ought_ to be,
as I understand the orders; and I suppose Sir Frederick has carried her
there. But yonder's a sail, in the northern board, which may turn out to
be the lugger; she is fairly within Campanella, and is not far from the
north shore of the bay."
"By George!--that _must_ be she; Monsieur Yvard has kept her skulking
round and about Amalfi, all this time! Let us go down, and set
everything that will draw, at once, sir."
In two minutes Griffin was on deck, hauling the yards, and clearing away
to make sail. As usual, the wind was light at the southward again, and
the course would be nearly before it. Studding-sail booms were to be run
out, the sails set, and the ship's head laid to the northward, keeping a
little to seaward of the chase. At this moment the Proserpine had the
Point of Piane, and the little village of Abate, nearly abeam. The ship
might have been going four knots through the water, and the distance
across the mouth of the bay was something like thirty miles. Of course,
eight hours would be necessary to carry the frigate over the intervening
space should the wind stand, as it probably would not, at that season of
the year. A week later, and strong southerly winds might be expected,
but that week was as interminable as an age, for any present purpose.
Half-an-hour's trial satisfied all on the deck of the Proserpine, that
the chase was keeping off, like themselves, and that she was standing
toward the mountains of Amalfi. Her progress, too, was about equal to
that of the frigate, for, dead before the wind, the latter ship was
merely a good sailer; her great superiority commencing only when she
brought the breeze forward of the beam. It has been supposed that the
stranger, when first seen, was about fifteen miles distant, his canvas
appearing both small and shapeless; but some doubts now began to be
entertained, equally as to his rig, his size, and his distance. If a
large or a lofty vessel, of course he must be materially further off,
and if a large or lofty vessel it could not be le Feu-Follet.
The other frigate took her cue from the Proserpine, and stood across for
the northern side of the gulf; a certain proof that nothing was visible,
from her mast-heads, to lead her in any other direction. Two hours,
however, satisfied all on board the latter ship that they were on a
wrong scent, and that the vessel to leeward was their own consort, the
sloop; Lyon having, in his eagerness to get the prize before she could
be seen from the other ships, carried the Ring-dove quite within the
bay, and thus misled Cuffe and Sir Frederick.
"There can no longer be any doubt!" exclaimed the captain of the
Proserpine, dropping his glass, with vexation too strongly painted in
his manner to be mistaken; "that is a ship; and, as you say, Winchester,
it must be the Ringdove; though what the devil Lyon is doing away in
there with her, unless he sees something close under the land, is more
than I can tell. As there is clearly nothing in this quarter, we will
stand on, and take a look for ourselves."
This nearly destroyed the hope of success. The officers began to suspect
that their lookout on Campanella had been deceived, and that what he had
supposed to be a lugger was, in truth, a felucca, or perhaps a xebec--a
craft which might well be mistaken for a lugger, at the distance of a
few leagues. The error, however, was with those in the ship. The officer
sent upon the heights was a shrewd, practised master's-mate, who knew
everything about his profession that properly came within his line, and
knew little else. But for a habit of drinking, he would long since have
been a lieutenant, being, in truth, an older sailor than Westchester;
but, satisfied of his own infirmity, and coming from a class in life in
which preferment was viewed as a Godsend rather than as a right, he had
long settled down into the belief that he was to live and die in his
present station, thereby losing most of the desire to rise. The name of
this man was Clinch. In consequence of his long experience, within the
circle of his duties, his opinion was greatly respected by his
superiors, when he was sober; and as he had the precaution not to be
otherwise when engaged on service, his weakness seldom brought him into
any serious difficulties. Cuffe, as a last hope, had sent him up on the
heights of Campanella, with a perfect conviction that, if anything were
really in sight, he would not fail to see it. All this confidence,
however, had now ended in disappointment; and, half-an-hour later, when
it was announced to Cuffe that "the cutter, with Mr. Clinch, was coming
down the bay toward them," the former even heard the name of his drunken
favorite with disgust. As was usual with him, when out of humor, he went
below as the boat drew near, leaving orders for her officer to be sent
down to him, the instant the latter got on board. Five minutes later,
Clinch thrust his hard-looking, weatherbeaten, but handsome red
countenance in at the cabin-door.
"Well, sir," commenced the captain, on a tolerably high key, "a d--d
pretty wild-goose chase you've sent us all on, down here, into this bay!
The southerly wind is failing already, and in half an hour the ships
will be frying the pitch off their decks, without a breath of air; when
the wind does come, it will come out at west, and bring us all four or
five leagues dead to leeward!"
Clinch's experience had taught him the useful man-of-war lesson, to bow
to the tempest, and not to attempt to brave it. Whenever he was
"rattled-down," as he called it, he had the habit of throwing an
expression of surprise, comically blended with contrition, into his
countenance, that seemed to say, "What have I done now?"--or "If I have
done anything amiss, you see how sorry I an for it." He met his
irritated commander, on the present occasion, with this expression, and
it produced the usual effect of mollifying him a little.
"Well, sir--explain this matter, if you please," continued Cuffe, after
a moment's hesitation.
"Will you please to tell me, sir, what you wish explained?" inquired
Clinch, throwing more surprise than common, even, into his countenance.
"That is an extraordinary question, Mr. Clinch! I wish the signal you
made from yonder headland explained, sir. Did you not signal the ship,
to say that you saw the le Few-Folly down here, at the southward?"
"Well, sir, I'm glad there was no mistake in the matter," answered
Clinch, in a confident and a relieved manner. "I _was_ afraid at first,
Captain Cuffe, my signal had not been understood."
"Understood! How could it be mistaken? You showed a black ball, for 'the
lugger's in sight.' You'll not deny that, I trust?"
"No, sir; one black ball, for 'the lugger's in sight.' That's just what
I did show, Captain Cuffe."
"And _three_ black balls together, for 'she bears due south from Capri.'
What do you say to _that_"
"All right, sir. Three black balls together, for 'she bears due south
from Capri.' I didn't tell the distance, Captain Cuffe, because Mr.
Winchester gave me no signals for that."
"And these signals you kept showing every half-hour, as long as it was
light; even until the Proserpine was off."
"All according to orders, Captain Cuffe, as Mr. Winchester will tell
you. I was to repeat every half-hour, as long as the lugger was in
sight, and the day lasted."
"Aye, sir; but you were not ordered to send as after a jack-o-lantern,
or to mistake some xebec or other, from one of the Greek islands, for a
light, handy French lugger"
"Nor did I, Captain Cuffe, begging your pardon, sir. I signalled the
Few-Folly, and nothing else, I give you my word for it."
Cuffe looked hard at the master's-mate for a half a minute, and his ire
insensibly lessened as he gazed.
"You are too old a seaman, Clinch, not to know what you were about! If
you saw the privateer, be good enough to tell us what has become
"That is more than I can say, Captain Cuffe, though _see_ her I did; and
that so plainly, as to be able to make out her jigger, even. You know,
sir, we shot away her jigger-mast in the chase off Elba, and she got a
new one, that steves for'rard uncommonly. I noticed _that_ when we fell
in with her in the Canal of Piombino; and seeing it again, could not but
know it. But there's no mistaking the saucy Folly, for them that has
once seen her; and I am certain we made her out, about four leagues to
the southward of the cape, at the time I first signalled."
"Four leagues!--I had though she must be at least eight or ten, and kept
off that distance, to get her in the net. Why did you not let us know
"Had no signals for that, Captain Cuffe."
"Well, then, why not send a boat to tell us the fact?"
"Had no orders, sir. Was told by Mr. Winchester just to signal the
lugger and her bearings; and this, you must own, Captain Cuffe, we did
plain enough. Besides, sir--"
"Well; besides _what_?" demanded the captain, observing that the
"Why, sir, how was I to know that any one in the ship would think a
lugger _could_ be seen eight or ten leagues? That's a long bit of water,
sir; and it would take a heavy ship's spars to rise high enough for
such a sight."
"The land you were on, Clinch, was much loftier than any vessel's
"Quite true, sir; but not lofty enough for that, Captain Cuffe. That I
saw the Folly, I'm as certain as I as being in this cabin."
"What has become of her, then? You perceive she is not in the bay now."
"I suppose, Captain Cuffe, that she stood in until near enough for her
purpose, and that she must have hauled off the land after the night set
in. There was plenty of room for her to pass out to sea again, between
the two frigates, and not be seen in the dark."
This conjecture was so plausible as to satisfy Cuffe; yet it was not the
fact. Clinch had made le Feu-Follet, from his elevated post, to the
southward, as his signal had said; and he was right in all his
statements about her, until darkness concealed her movements. Instead of
passing out of the bay, as he imagined, however, she had hauled up
within a quarter of a league of Campanella, doubled that point, brushed
along the coast to the northward of it, fairly within the Bay of Naples,
and pushed out to sea between Capri and Ischia, going directly athwart
the anchorage the men-of-war had so recently quitted, in order to do so.
When Raoul quitted his vessel, he order her to stand directly off the
land, just keeping Ischia and Capri in view, lying-to under her jigger.
As this was low sail, and a lugger shows so little aloft, it was a
common expedient of cruisers of that rig, when they wished to escape
observation. Monsieur Pintard, Raoul's first lieutenant, had expected a
signal from his commander, at the very spot where Clinch had taken his
station; but seeing none, he had swept along the coast after dark, in
the hope of discovering his position by the burning of a blue light.
Failing of this, however, he went off the land again, in time to get an
offing before the return of day, and to save the wind. It was the
boldness of the manoeuvre that saved the lugger; Lyon going out through
the pass between Capri and Campanella, about twenty minutes before
Pintard brushed close round the rocks, under his jigger and jib only,
anxiously looking out for a signal from his captain. The Frenchmen saw
the sloop-of-war quite plainly, and by the aid of their night-glasses
ascertained her character; mistaking her, however, for another ship,
bound to Sicily or Malta--while their own vessel escaped observation,
owing to the little sail she carried, the want of hamper, and her
situation so near the land, which gave her a background of rocks. Clinch
had not seen the movements of the lugger after dark, in consequence of
his retiring to the village of St. Agata, to seek lodgings, as soon as
he perceived that his own ship had gone to sea, and left him and his
boat's crew behind. The following morning, when he made the ship to the
southward, he pushed off, and pulled toward his proper vessel,
"Where did you pass the night, Clinch?" demanded the captain, after they
had discussed the probability of the lugger's escape. "Not on the
heights, under the canopy of heaven?"
"On the heights, and under the great canopy that has covered us both so
often, Captain Cuffe; but with a good Neapolitan mud-roof between it and
my head. As soon as it was dark, and I saw that the ship was off, I
found a village, named St. Agata, that stands on the heights, just abeam
of those rocks they call the Sirens, and there we were well berthed
"You are lucky in bringing back all the boat's crew, Clinch. You know
it's low water with us as to men, just now; and our fellows are not all
to be trusted ashore, in a country that is full of stone walls, good
wine, and pretty girls."
"I always take a set of regular steady ones with me, Captain Cuffe; I
haven't lost a man from a boat these five years."
"You must have some secret, then, worth knowing; for even the admirals
sometimes lose their barge-men. I dare say, now, yours are all married
chaps, that hold on to their wives as so many sheet-anchors; they say
that is often a good expedient."
"Not at all, sir. I did try that, till I found that half the fellows
would run to get rid of their wives. The Portsmouth and Plymouth
marriages don't always bring large estates with them, sir, and the
bridegrooms like to cut adrift at the end of the honeymoon. Don't you
remember when we were in the Blenheim together, sir, we lost eleven of
the launch's crew at one time; and nine of them turned out to be
vagabonds, sir, that deserted their weeping wives and suffering
families at home!"
"Now you mention it, I do remember something of the sort; draw a chair,
Clinch, and take a glass of grog. Tim, put a bottle of Jamaica before
Mr. Clinch, I have heard it said that you are married yourself, my
gallant master's mate?"
"Lord, Captain Cuffe, that's one of the young gentlemen's stories! If a
body believed all they say, the Christian religion would soon get
athwart-hawse, and mankind be all adrift in their morals," answered
Clinch, smacking his lips, after a very grateful draught. "We've a
regular set of high-flyers aboard this ship, at this blessed minute,
Captain Cuffe, sir, and Mr. Winchester has his hands full of them. I
often wonder at his patience, sir."
"We were young once ourselves, Clinch, and ought to be indulgent to the
follies of youth. But what sort of a berth did you find last night upon
the rocks yonder?"
"Why, sir, as good as one can expect out of Old England. I fell in with
an elderly woman calling herself Giuntotardi--which is regular built
Italian, isn't it, sir?"
"That it is--but, you speak the language, I believe, Clinch?"
"Why, sir, I've been drifting about the world so long, that I speak a
little of everything, finding it convenient when I stand in need of
victuals and drink. The old lady on the hill and I overhauled a famous
yarn between us, sir. It seems she has a niece and a brother at Naples,
who ought to have been back night before last; and she was in lots of
tribulation about them, wanting to know if our ship had seen anything of
"By George, Clinch, you were on the soundings there, had you but known
it! Our prisoner has been in that part of the world, and we might get
some clue to his manoeuvres, by questioning the old woman closely. I
hope you parted good friends?"
"The best in the world, Captain Cuffe. No one that feeds and lodges _me_
well, need dread me as an enemy!"
"I'll warrant it! That's the reason you are so loyal, Clinch?"
The hard, red face of the master's mate worked a little, and, though he
could not well look all sorts of colors, he looked all ways but in his
captain's eye. It was now ten years since he ought to have been a
lieutenant, having once actually outranked Cuffe, in the way of date of
service at least; and his conscience told him two things quite
distinctly: first, the fact of his long and weary probation; second,
that it was, in a great degree, his own fault.
"I love His Majesty, sir," Clinch observed, after giving a gulp, "and I
never lay anything that goes hard with myself to his account. Still,
memory will be memory; and spite of all I can do, sir, I sometimes
remember what I _might_ have been, as well as what I _am_. If his
Majesty _does_ feed me, it is with the spoon of a master's mate; and if
he _does_ lodge me, it is in the cockpit."
"I have been your shipmate often, and for years at a time," answered
Cuffe good-naturedly, though a little in the manner of a superior; "and
no one knows your history better. It is not your friends who have failed
you at need, so much as a certain enemy, with whom you will insist on
associating, though he harms them most who love him best."
"Aye, aye, sir--that can't be denied, Captain Cuffe; yet it's a hard
life that passes altogether without hope."
This was uttered with an expression of melancholy that said more for
Clinch's character than Cuffe had witnessed in the man for years, and it
revived many early impressions in his favor. Clinch and he had once been
messmates, even; and though years of a decided disparity in rank had
since interposed their barrier of etiquette and feeling, Cuffe never
could entirely forget the circumstance.
"It is hard, indeed, to live as you say, without hope," returned the
captain; "but hope _ought_ to be the last thing to die. You should make
one more rally, Clinch, before you throw up in despair."
"It is not so much for myself, Captain Cuffe, that I mind it, as for
some that live ashore. My father was as reputable a tradesman as there
was in Plymouth, and when he got me on the quarter-deck he thought he
was about to make a gentleman of me, instead of leaving me to pass a
life in a situation that may be said to be even beneath what his
"Now you undervalue your station, Clinch. The berth of a master's-mate
in one of His Majesty's finest frigates is something to be proud of; I
was once a master's-mate--nay, Nelson has doubtless filled the same
station. For that matter, one of His Majesty's own sons may have gone
through the rank."
"Aye, gone _through_ it, as you say, sir," returned Clinch, with a husky
voice. "It does well enough for them that go _through_ it, but it's
death to them that _stick_. It's a feather in a midshipman's cap to be
rated a mate; but it's no honor to be a mate at my time of life,
"What's your age, Clinch? You are not much my senior?"
"Your senior, sir! The difference in our years is not as great as in our
rank, certainly, though I never shall see thirty-two again. But it's not
so much _that_, after all, as the thoughts of my poor mother, who set
her heart on seeing me with His Majesty's commission in my pocket; and
of another who set her heart on one that I'm afraid was never worthy
"This is new to me, Clinch," returned the captain, with interest. "One
so seldom thinks of a master's-mate marrying, that the idea of your
being in that way has never crossed my mind, except in the manner of
"Master's-mates _have_ married, Captain Cuffe, and they have ended in
being very miserable. But Jane, as well as myself, has made up her mind
to live single, unless we can see brighter prospects before us than what
my present hopes afford."
"Is it quite right, Jack, to keep a poor young woman towing along in
this uncertainty, during the period of life when her chances for making
a good connection are the best?"
Clinch stared at his commander until his eyes filled with tears. The
glass had not touched his lips since the conversation took its present
direction; and the usual hard settled character of his face was becoming
expressive once more with human emotions.
"It's not my fault, Captain Cuffe," he answered, in a low voice; "it's
now quite six years since I insisted on her giving me up; but she
wouldn't hear of the thing. A very respectable attorney wished to have
her, and I even prayed her to accept his offer; and the only unkind
glance I ever got from her eye, was when she heard me make a request
that she told me sounded impiously almost to her ears. She would be a
sailor's wife or die a maid."
"The girl has unfortunately got some romantic notions concerning the
profession, Clinch, and they are ever the hardest to be convinced of
what is for their own good."
"Jane Weston! Not she, sir. There is not as much romance about her as in
the fly-leaves of a prayer-book. She is all _heart_, poor Jane; and how
I came to get such a hold of it, Captain Cuffe, is a great mystery to
myself. I certainly do not _deserve_ half her affection, and I now begin
to despair of ever being able to repay her for it."
Clinch was still a handsome man, though exposure and his habits had
made some inroads on a countenance that by nature was frank, open, and
prepossessing. It now expressed the anguish that occasionally came over
his heart, as the helplessness of his situation presented itself fully
to his mind. Cuffe's feelings were touched, for he remembered the time
when they were messmates, with a future before them that promised no
more to the one than to the other, the difference in the chances which
birth afforded the captain alone excepted. Clinch was a prime seaman,
and as brave as a lion, too; qualities that secured to him a degree of
respect that his occasional self-forgetfulness had never entirely
forfeited. Some persons thought him the most skilful mariner the
Proserpine contained; and, perhaps, this was true, if the professional
skill were confined strictly to the handling of a ship, or to taking
care of her on critical occasions. All these circumstances induced Cuffe
to enter more closely into the master's-mate's present distress than he
might otherwise have done. Instead of shoving the bottle to him,
however, as if conscious how much disappointed hope had already driven
the other to its indiscreet use, he pushed it gently aside, and taking
his old messmate's hand with a momentary forgetfulness of the difference
in rank, he said in a tone of kindness and confidence that had long been
strangers to Clinch's ears:
"Jack, my honest fellow, there is good stuff in you yet, if you will
only give it fair play. Make a manly rally, respect yourself for a few
months, and something will turn up that will yet give you your Jane, and
gladden your old mother's heart."
There are periods in the lives of men, when a few kind words, backed by
a friendly act or two, might save thousands of human beings from
destruction. Such was the crisis in the fate of Clinch. He had almost
given up hope, though it did occasionally revive in him whenever he got
a cheering letter from the constant Jane, who pertinaciously refused to
believe anything to his prejudice, and religiously abstained from all
reproaches. But it is necessary to understand the influence of rank on
board a man-of-war, fully to comprehend the effect which was now
produced on the master's-mate by the captain's language and manner.
Tears streamed out of the eyes of Clinch, and he grasped the hand of his
commander almost convulsively.
"What can I do, sir? Captain Cuffe, what can I do?" he exclaimed. "My
duty is never neglected; but there _are_ moments of despair, when I find
the burden too hard to be borne, without calling upon the bottle
"Whenever a man drinks with such a motive, Clinch, I would advise him to
abstain altogether. He cannot trust himself; and that which he terms his
friend is, in truth, his direst enemy. Refuse your rations, even;
determine to be free. One week, nay, one day, may give a strength that
will enable you to conquer, by leaving your reason unimpaired. Absence
from the ship has accidentally befriended you--for the little you have
taken here has not been sufficient to do any harm. We are now engaged on
a most interesting duty, and I will throw service into your way that may
be of importance to you. Get your name once fairly in a despatch, and
your commission is safe. Nelson loves to prefer old tars; and nothing
would make him happier than to be able to serve _you_. Put it in my
power to ask it of him, and I'll answer for the result. Something may
yet come out of your visit to the cottage of this woman, and do you be
mindful to keep yourself in fortune's way."
"God bless you, Captain Cuffe--God bless you, sir," answered Clinch,
nearly choked; "I'll endeavor to do as you wish."
"Remember Jane and your mother. With such a woman dependent for her
happiness on his existence, a man must be a brute not to struggle hard."
Clinch groaned--for Cuffe probed his wound deep; though it was done with
an honest desire to cure. After wiping the perspiration from his face,
and writhing on his chair, however, he recovered a little of his
self-command, and became comparatively composed.
"If a friend could only point out the way by which I might recover some
of the lost ground," he said, "my gratitude to him would last as long as
life, Captain Cuffe."
"Here is an opening then, Clinch. Nelson attaches as much importance to
our catching this lugger as he ever did to falling in with a fleet. The
officer who is serviceable on this occasion may be sure of being
remembered, and I will give you every chance in my power. Go, dress
yourself in your best; make yourself look as you know you can; then be
ready for boat service. I have some duty for you now, which will be but
the beginning of good luck, if you only remain true to your mother, to
Jane, and to yourself."
A new life was infused into Clinch. For years he had been
overlooked--apparently forgotten, except when thorough seamanship was
required; and even his experiment of getting transferred to a vessel
commanded by an old messmate had seemingly failed. Here was a change,
however, and a ray, brighter than common, shone athwart the darkness of
his future. Even Cuffe was struck with the cheerfulness of his
countenance, and the alacrity of the master's-mate's movements, and he
reproached himself with having so long been indifferent to the best
interests of one who certainly had some claims on his friendship. Still,
there was nothing unusual in the present relations between these old
messmates. Favored by family and friends, Cuffe had never been permitted
to fall into despondency, and had pursued his career successfully and
with spirit; while the other unsupported, and failing of any immediate
opportunity for getting ahead, had fallen into evil ways, and come to
be, by slow degrees, the man he was. Such instances as the latter are of
not unfrequent occurrence even in a marine in which promotion is as
regular as our own, though it is rare indeed that a man recovers his
lost ground when placed in circumstances so trying.
In half an hour Clinch was ready, dressed in his best. The gentlemen of
the quarter-deck saw all these preparations with surprise; for, of late,
the master's-mate had seldom been seen in that part of the ship at all.
But, in a man-of-war, discipline is a matter of faith, and no one
presumed to ask questions. Clinch was closeted with the captain for a
few minutes, received his orders, and went over the ship's side with a
cheerful countenance, actually entering the captain's gig, the
fastest-rowing boat of the ship. As soon as seated, he shoved off, and
held his way toward the point of Campanella, then distant about three
leagues. No one knew whither he was bound, though all believed it was on
duty that related to the lugger, and duty that required a seaman's
judgment. As for Cuffe, his manner, which-had begun to be uneasy and
wandering, became more composed when he saw his old messmate fairly off,
and that, too, at a rate which would carry him even to Naples in the
course of a few hours, should his voyage happen to be so long.