Part 7 out of 9
"His honor's linked
Unto his life; he that will seek the one
Must venture for the other, or lose both."
It was now certain that le Feu-Follet was not in the Bay of Salerno. By
means of the lofty spars of the ship, and the aid of glasses, the whole
coast had been effectually surveyed, and no signs of such a craft were
visible. Even Lyon had given it up, had wore round, and was standing
along the land again, toward Campanella, a disappointed man. As Cuffe
expected the next wind from the westward, he continued on to the
northward, however, intending to go off Amalfi and question any
fisherman he might fall in with. Leaving the ship slowly pursuing her
course in that direction, then, we will turn our attention to the state
of the prisoners.
Ghita and her uncle had been properly cared for all this time. The
gunner's wife lived on board, and, being a respectable woman, Cuffe had
the delicacy to send the poor girl forward to the state-room and mess of
this woman. Her uncle was provided for near by, and, as neither was
considered in any degree criminal, it was the intention to put them
ashore as soon as it was certain that no information concerning the
lugger was to be obtained from them. Ithuel was at duty again, having
passed half the morning in the fore-top. The shore-boat, which was in
the way on deck, was now struck into the water, and was towing astern,
in waiting for the moment when Carlo Giuntotardi and his niece were to
be put in possession of it again, and permitted to depart. This moment
was delayed, however, until the ship should again double Campanella, and
be once more in the Bay of Naples, as it would have been cruel to send
two such persons as the uncle and niece adrift at any material distance
from their proper place of landing.
It was very different with Raoul Yvard, however. He was under the charge
of a sentry on the berth-deck, in waiting for the fearful moment when he
should be brought forth for execution. His sentence was generally known
in the ship, and with a few he was an object of interest; though
punishment, deaths in battle, and all the other casualties of nautical
life, were much too familiar in such a war to awaken anything like a
sensation in an active cruising frigate. Still, some had a thought for
the prisoner's situation. Winchester was a humane man, and, to his
credit, he bore no malice for his own defeat and sufferings; while in
his capacity of first lieutenant it was in his power to do much toward
adding to the comfort of the condemned. He had placed the prisoner
between two open ports, where the air circulated freely, no trifling
consideration in so warm a climate, and had ordered a canvas bulkhead
to be placed around him, giving Raoul the benefit of a state-room for
his meditations at so awful a moment. His irons, too, had been removed
as useless; though care had been had to take away from the prisoner
everything by which he might attempt his own life. The probability of
his jumping through a port had been discussed between the first and
second lieutenants; but the sentry was admonished to be on his guard
against any such attempt, and little apprehension was felt, Raoul being
so composed and so unlikely to do anything precipitately. Then it would
be easy to pick him up, while the vessel moved so slowly. To own the
truth, too, many would prefer his drowning himself, to seeing him
swinging at a yard-arm.
In this narrow prison, then, Raoul passed the night and morning. It
would be representing him as more stoical than the truth, if we said he
was unmoved. So far from this, his moments were bitter, and his anguish
would have been extreme, were it not for a high resolution which
prompted him to die, as he fancied it, like _un Francais_. The numerous
executions by the guillotine had brought fortitude under such
circumstances into a sort of fashion, and there were few who did not
meet death with decorum. With our prisoner, however, it was still
different; for, sustained by a dauntless spirit, he would have faced the
great tyrant of the race, even in his most ruthless mood, with firmness,
if not with disdain. But, to a young man and a lover, the last great
change could not well approach without bringing with it a feeling of
hopelessness that, in the case of Raoul, was unrelieved by any cheering
expectations of the future. He fully believed his doom to be sealed, and
that less on account of his imaginary offence as a spy than on account
of the known and extensive injuries he had done to the English commerce.
Raoul was a good hater; and, according to the fashion of past times,
which we apprehend, in spite of a vast deal of equivocal philanthropy
that now circulates freely from mouth to mouth, and from pen to pen,
will continue to be the fashion of times to come, he heartily disliked
the people with whom he was at war, and consequently was ready to
believe anything to their prejudice that political rivalry might invent;
a frame of mind that led him to think his life would be viewed as a
trifle, when put in the scales against English ascendency or English
profit. He was accustomed to think of the people of Great Britain as a
"nation of shopkeepers," and, while engaged himself in a calling that
bears the brand of rapacity on its very brow, he looked upon his own
pursuit as comparatively martial and honorable; qualities, in sooth, it
was far from being without, as he himself had exercised its functions.
In a word, Raoul understood Cuffe as little as Cuffe understood him;
facts that will sufficiently appear in the interview which it has now
become our office to relate.
The prisoner received one or two friendly visits in the course of the
morning; Griffin, in particular, conceiving it to be his duty to try to
cheer the condemned man, on account of his own knowledge of foreign
tongues. On these occasions the conversation was prevented from falling
into anything like the sombre, by the firmness of the prisoner's manner.
With a view to do the thing handsomely, Winchester had caused the canvas
bulkhead to include the guns on each side, which of course gave more air
and light within the narrow apartment, as it brought both ports into the
little room. Raoul adverted to this circumstance as, seated on one
stool, he invited Griffin, in the last of his visits, to take another.
"You find me here, supported by a piece of eighteen on each side,"
observed the prisoner, smiling, "as becomes a seaman who is about to
die. Were my death to come from the mouths of your cannon, Monsieur
Lieutenant, it would only meet me a few months, or perhaps a few days,
sooner than it might happen by the same mode in the ordinary course
"We know how to feel for a brave man in your situation." answered
Griffin, with emotion; and nothing would make us all happier than to
have it as you say; you in a good warm frigate, on our broadside, and we
in this of our own, contending fairly for the honor of our respective
"Monsieur, the fortune of war has ordered it otherwise--but, you are not
seated, Monsieur Lieutenant."
"_Mon pardon_--Captain Cuffe has sent me to request you will favor him
with your company, in his cabin, as soon as it may be agreeable to
yourself, Monsieur Yvard."
There is something in the polished expressions of the French language,
that would have rendered it difficult for Griffin to have been other
than delicate in his communications with the prisoner, had he been so
disposed; but such was not his inclination; for, now that their gallant
adversary was at their mercy, all the brave men in the Proserpine felt a
disposition to deal tenderly with him. Raoul was touched with these
indications of generosity, and, as he had witnessed Griffin's spirit in
the different attempts made on his lugger, it inclined him to think
better of his foes. Rising, he professed his readiness to attend the
captain at that very moment.
Cuffe was waiting in the after-cabin. When Griffin and the prisoner
entered, he courteously requested both to be seated, the former being
invited to remain, not only as a witness of what might occur, but to act
as an interpreter in case of need. A short pause succeeded, and then the
captain opened the dialogue, which was carried on in English, with
occasional assistance from Griffin, whenever it became necessary.
"I greatly regret, Monsieur Yvard, to see a brave man in your
situation," commenced Cuffe, who, sooth to say, apart from the
particular object he had in view, uttered no more than the truth. "We
have done full justice to your spirit and judgment, while we have tried
the hardest to get you into our power. But the laws of war are severe,
necessarily, and we English have a commander-in-chief who is not
disposed to trifle in matters of duty."
This was said, partly in policy, and partly from a habit of standing in
awe of the character of Nelson, Raoul received it, however, in the most
favorable light; though the politic portion of the motive was altogether
thrown away, as will be seen in the sequel.
"Monsieur, _un Francais_ knows how to die in the cause of liberty and
his country," answered Raoul, courteously, yet with emphasis.
"I do not doubt it, Monsieur; still, I see no necessity of pushing
things to that extremity, England is as liberal of her rewards as she is
powerful to resent injuries. Perhaps some plan may be adopted which will
avert the necessity of sacrificing the life of a brave roan in so
cruel a mode."
"I shall not affect to play the hero, Monsieur le Capitaine. If any
proper mode of relieving me, in my present crisis, can be discovered, my
gratitude will be in proportion to the service rendered."
"This is talking sensibly, and to the purpose; I make no doubt, when we
come to right understanding, everything will be amicably arranged
between us. Griffin, do me the favor to help yourself to a glass of wine
and water, which you will find refreshing this warm day. Monsieur Yvard
will join us; the wine coming from Capri, and being far from bad; though
some do prefer the Lachrymae Christi that grows about the foot of
Vesuvius, I believe."
Griffin did as desired, though his own countenance was far from
expressing all the satisfaction that was obvious in the face of Cuffe.
Raoul declined the offer; waiting for the forthcoming explanation with
an interest he did not affect to conceal. Cuffe seemed disappointed and
reluctant to proceed; but, finding his two companions silent, he was
obliged to make his proposal.
"_Qui, Monsieur_" he added, "England is powerful to resent, but ready
to forgive. Your are very fortunate in having it in your power, at so
serious a moment, to secure her pardon for an offence that is always
visited in war with a punishment graver than any other."
"In what way can this be done, Monsieur le Capitaine? I am not one who
despises life; more especially when it is in danger of being lost by a
"I am rejoiced, Monsieur Yvard, to find you in this frame of mind; it
will relieve me from the discharge of a most painful duty, and be the
means of smoothing over many difficulties. Without doubt, you have heard
of the character of our celebrated Admiral Nelson?"
"His name is known to every seaman, Monsieur," answered Raoul, stiffly;
his natural antipathies being far from cured by the extremity of his
situation. "He has written it on the waters of the Nile, in letters
"Aye, his deeds _there_, or elsewhere, will not soon be forgotten. He is
a man of an iron will; when his heart is set on a thing, he sticks at no
risk to obtain it, especially if the means be lawful, and the end is
glory. To be frank, Monsieur, he wishes much for your lugger, the le
"Ah!" exclaimed Raoul, smiling ironically--"Nelson is not the only
English admiral who has had the same desire. Le Feu-Follet, Monsieur le
Capitaine, is so charming, that she has many admirers!"
"Among whom Nelson is one of the warmest. Now, this makes your case so
much the easier to be disposed of. You have nothing to do but put the
lugger into our hands, when you will be pardoned, and be treated as a
prisoner of war."
"Does Monsieur Nelson authorize you to make this proposal to me?" asked
"He does. Intrusted with the care of his country's interests he is
willing to overlook the offence against her, under the law of nations,
to deprive the enemy of doing so much harm. Put the lugger into our
hands, and you shall be sent to an ordinary prison-ship. Nay, merely
let us into the secret of her position, and _we_ will see to
"Monsieur Nelson doubtless does no more than his duty," answered Raoul,
quietly, but with an air of severe self-respect. "It is his business to
have a care for English commerce, and he has every right to make this
bargain. But the treaty will not be conducted on equal terms; while he
is doing no more than his duty, I have no powers."
"How? You have the power of speech; that will suffice to let us into the
secret of the orders you have given the lugger, and where she is
probably to be found at this moment."
"_Non, Monsieur;_ I have not even _that_ in my power. I can do nothing
that must cover me with so much infamy. My tongue is under laws that I
never made, when treachery is in question."
Had Raoul assumed a theatrical tone and manner, as might have been
expected, probably it would have made very little impression on Cuffe;
but his quiet simplicity and steadiness carried conviction with them. To
say the truth, the captain was disappointed. He would have hesitated
about making his proposition to an officer of the regular French marine,
low as even these stood, at that day, in the estimation of Nelson's
fleet in particular; but from a privateersman he expected a greedy
acquiescence in a plan that offered life as a reward, in exchange for a
treachery like that he proposed. At first he felt disposed to taunt
Raoul with the contradiction between what he, Cuffe, conceived to be his
general pursuits, and his present assumption of principles; but the
unpretending calmness of the other's manner, and the truth of his
feelings, prevented it. Then, to do Cuffe himself justice, he was too
generous to abuse the power be had over his prisoner.
"You may do well to think of this, Monsieur Yvard," observed the
captain, after a pause of quite a minute. "The interest at stake is so
heavy, that reflection may yet induce you to change your mind."
"Monsieur Cuffe, I pardon you, if you can pardon yourself," answered
Raoul, with severe dignity in his manner, rising as he spoke, as if
disdaining civilities which came from his tempter. "I know what you
think of us corsairs--but an officer in an honorable service should
hesitate long before he tempts a man to do an act like this. The fact
that the life of your prisoner is at stake ought to make a brave seaman
still more delicate how he tries to work on his terrors or his
principles. But, I repeat, I forgive you, Monsieur, if you can forgive
Cuffe stood confounded. The blood rushed to his heart; after which, it
appeared as if about to gush through the pores of his face. A feeling of
fierce resentment almost consumed him; then he became himself again, and
began to see things as was his wont in cooler moments. Still he could
not speak, pacing the cabin to recover his self-command.
"Monsieur Yvard," he at length said, "I ask your forgiveness sincerely,
and from the bottom of my heart. I did not know you, or such a proposal
would never have insulted you, or disgraced a British officer, in my
person. Nelson, too, is the last man living to wound the feelings of an
honorable enemy; but we did not know you. All privateersmen are not of
your way of thinking, and it was _there_ we fell into our mistake."
"_Touchez-la_," said Raoul, frankly extending his hand. "Monsieur le
Capitaine, you and I ought to meet in two fine frigates, each for his
country's honor; let what would be the result, it would lay the
foundations of an eternal friendship. I have lived long enough in _votre
Angleterre_ to understand how little you know _notre France; mais
n'importe._ Brave men can understand one another all over the world; for
the little time which is left me, we shall be friends."
Cuffe seized Raoul's hand, and even a tear escaped him, as he squeezed
"This has been a d--d miserable business, Griffin," said the captain,
as soon as he could speak without betraying weakness, "and one no man
will ever find me employed in again, though a fleet as large as that up
in the Bay yonder were the price."
"I never thought it would succeed, sir; and, to say the truth, I never
hoped it would. You'll excuse me, Captain Cuffe, but we English don't
give the continentals exactly the credit they deserve, and particularly
the French. I thought it wouldn't do, from the first."
Cuffe now repeated his apologies; and after a few expressions of
friendly esteem on both sides, Raoul returned to his little room,
declining the captain's offer to occupy one of the cabin state-rooms.
Griffin was soon back again; then the conversation was resumed between
the two officers.
"This is altogether a most painful business, Griffin," observed Cuffe,
"There is no doubt that Monsieur Yvard is technically a spy, and guilty,
according to the forms of law; but I entertain not the smallest doubt of
the truth of his whole story. This Ghita Caraccioli, as the girl calls
herself, is the very picture of truth; and was actually in Nelson's
cabin the day before yesterday, under circumstances that leave no doubt
of the simplicity and truth of her character, while every part of the
tale corresponds with the other. Even the veechy, and this pursy old
podesta, confirm the account; for they have seen Ghita in Porto Ferrajo,
and begin to think the Frenchman came in there solely on her account."
"I make no doubt, Captain Cuffe, that Lord Nelson will give a respite,
or even a pardon, were the facts fairly laid before him," observed
Griffin, who felt a generous interest in preserving the life of Raoul,
the very man he had endeavored to destroy by fire only a few weeks
before; but such is the waywardness of man, and such are the mixed
feelings generated by war.
"This is the most serious part of the affair, Griffin. The sentence is
approved; with an order that it shall be carried into effect this very
day, between the hours of sunrise and sunset; while here it is already
noon, and we are to the southward of Campanella, and so distant from the
flag-ship as to put signals out of the question."
Griffin started; all the grave difficulties of the case glancing upon
his mind in a moment. An order, according to the habits of the service,
and more especially an order of this serious character, was not to be
questioned; yet here was a dilemma in which there appeared no means
"Good God, Captain Cuffe, how unlucky! Cannot an express be sent across
by land, so as yet to reach the flag-ship in time?"
"I have thought of that, Griffin, and Clinch has gone precisely on that
"Clinch! Pardon me, sir; but such a duty requires a very active and
"Clinch is active enough, and I _know_ his besetting weakness will have
no power over him to-day. I have opened the way for a commission to him,
and no one in the ship can go to Naples in a boat sooner than Clinch, if
he really try. He will make the most of the afternoon's breeze, should
there be any, and I have arranged a signal with him, by which he may let
us know the result even at the distance of eight or ten miles."
"Has Lord Nelson left no discretion in the orders, sir?"
"None; unless Raoul Yvard distinctly consent to give up the lugger. In
that case, I have a letter, which authorizes me to delay the execution
until I can communicate directly with the commander-in-chief."
"How very unlucky it has been all round! Is there no possibility, sir,
of making up a case that might render this discretion available?"
"That might do among you irresponsibles, Mr. Griffin," answered Cuffe, a
little sharply; "but I would rather hang forty Frenchmen than be
Bronted by Nelson for neglect of duty"
Cuffe spoke more strongly than he intended, perhaps; but the commander
of a ship-of-war does not always stop to weigh his words, when he
condescends to discuss a point with an inferior. The reply put a check
upon Griffin's zeal, however, though the discourse did not the
"Well, sir," the lieutenant answered, "I'm sure we are all as anxious as
you can be, to avert this affair from our ship. 'Twas but the other day
we were boasting in the gun-room, to some of the Lapwing's officers that
were on a visit here, that the Proserpine never had an execution or a
court-martial flogging on board her, though she had now been under the
British ensign near four years, and had been seven times under fire."
"God send, Griffin, that Clinch find the admiral, and get back in time!"
"How would it do, sir, to send the vice-governatore to try the prisoner;
perhaps _he_ might persuade him to _seem_ to consent--or some such
thing, you know, sir, as might justify a delay. They say the Corsicans
are the keenest-witted fellows in all these seas; and Elba is so near to
Corsica, that one cannot fancy there is much difference between
"Aye, your veechy is a regular witch! He made out so well in his first
interview with Yvard, that no one can doubt his ability to overlay him
"One never knows, Captain Cuffe. The Italian has more resources than
most men; and the Signor Barrofaldi is a discreet, sensible man, when he
acts with his eyes open. Le Feu-Follet has cheated others besides the
vice-governatore and the podesta."
"Aye, these d--d Jack-o'-Lanterns are never to be trusted. It would
hardly surprise me to see the Folly coming down wing-and-wing from under
the land, and passing out to sea, with a six-knot breeze, while we lay
as still as a cathedral, with not enough to turn the smoke of the
galley-fire from the perpendicular."
"She's not inside of us, Captain Cuffe; of that we may be certain. I
have been on the maintopgallant yard, with the best glass in the ship,
and have swept the whole coast, from the ruins over against us, here to
the eastward, up to the town of Salerno; there is nothing to be seen as
large as a sparanara."
"One would think, too, this Monsieur Yvard might give up to save his own
life, after all!"
"_We_ should hardly do it, I hope, Captain Cuffe?"
"I believe you are right, Griffin; one feels forced to respect the
privateersman, in spite of his trade. Who knows but something might be
got out of that Bolt? He must know as much about the lugger as
"Quite true, sir; I was thinking of proposing something of the sort, not
a minute since. Now, that's a fellow one may take pleasure in riding
down, as one would ride down the main tack. Shall I have him sent for,
The captain hesitated; for the previous experiments on Ithuel's
selfishness had failed. Still the preservation of Raoul's life, and the
capture of the lugger, were now objects of nearly equal interest with
Cuffe, and he felt disposed to neglect no plausible means of effecting
either. A sign of approbation was all the lieutenant needed; and in a
few minutes Ithuel stood again in the presence of his captain.
"Here is an opportunity for you to fetch up a good deal of leeway.
Master Bolt," commenced the captain: "and I am willing to give you a
chance to help yourself. You know where you last left the Few-Folly,
"I don't know but I might, sir," answered Ithuel, rolling his eyes
around him, curious to ascertain what the other would be at. "I don't
know but I might remember, on a pinch, sir; though, to own the truth, my
memory is none of the most desperate best."
"Well, then where was it? Recollect that the life of your late friend,
Raoul Yvard, may depend on your answer."
"I want to know! Well, this Europe _is_ a curious part of the world, as
all must admit that come from Ameriky. What has Captain Rule done now,
sir, that he stands in such jeopardy?"
"You know that he is convicted as a spy; and my orders are to have him
executed, unless we can get his lugger. _Then_, indeed, we may possibly
show him a little favor; as we do not make war so much on individuals as
Cuffe would probably have been puzzled to explain the application of his
own sentiment to the case before him; but, presuming on his having to
deal with one who was neither very philosophical nor logical himself, he
was somewhat indifferent to his own mode of proceeding, so that it
effected the object. Ithuel, however, was not understood. Love for Raoul
or the lugger, or, indeed, for anything else, himself excepted, formed
no part of his character; while hatred of England had got to be
incorporated with the whole of his moral system; if such a man could be
said to have a moral system at all. He saw nothing to be gained by
serving Raoul, in particular; though this he might have done did nothing
interfere to prevent it; while he had so strong an aversion to suffering
the English to get le Feu-Follet, as to be willing even to risk his own
life to prevent it. His care, therefore, was to accomplish his purpose
with the least hazard to himself.
"And, if the lugger can be had, sir, you intend to let Captain Rule go?"
he asked, with an air of interest.
"Aye, we _may_ do that; though it will depend on the admiral. Can you
tell us where you left her, and where she probably now is?"
"Captain Rule has said the first already, sir. He told the truth about
that before the court. But, as to telling where the lugger is now, I'll
defy any man to do it! Why, sir, I've turned in at eight bells, and left
her, say ten or fifteen leagues dead to leeward of an island or a
lighthouse, perhaps; and on turning out at eight bells in the morning
found her just as far to windward of the same object. She's as
oncalculating a craft as I ever put foot aboard of."
"Indeed!" said Cuffe, ironically; "I do not wonder that her captain's in
"Scrape, sir! The Folly is nothing _but_ a scrape. I've tried my hand at
keeping her reck'nin'."
"Yes, sir, I; Ithuel Bolt, that's my name at hum' or abroad, and I've
tried to keep the Folly's reck'nin', with all the advantage of
thermometer, and lead-lines, and logarithms, and such necessaries, you
know, Captain Cuffe; and _I_ never yet could place her within a hundred
miles of the spot where she was actually seen to be."
"I am not at all surprised to hear this, Bolt; but what I want at
present is to know what you think may be the precise position of the
lugger, without the aid of the thermometer and of logarithms; I've a
notion you would make out better by letting such things alone."
"Well, who knows but I might, sir! My idee of the Folly, just now, sir,
is that she is somewhere off Capri, under short canvas, waiting for
Captain Rule and I to join her, and keeping a sharp lookout after the
Now, this was not only precisely the position of the lugger at that very
moment, but it was what Ithuel actually believed to be her position.
Still nothing was further from this man's intention than to betray his
former messmates. He was so very cunning as to have detected how little
Cuffe was disposed to believe him; and he told the truth as the most
certain means of averting mischief from the lugger. Nor did his _ruse_
fail of its object. His whole manner had so much deceit and low cunning
about it, that neither Cuffe nor Griffin believed a word he said; and
after a little more pumping, the fellow was dismissed in disgust, with a
sharp intimation that it would be singularly for his interest to look
out how he discharged his general duties in the ship.
"This will never do, Griffin," exclaimed the captain, vexed and
disappointed. "Should anything occur to Clinch, or should the admiral
happen to be off with the king, on one of his shooting excursions, we
shall be in a most serious dilemma. Would to God we had not left the
anchorage at Capri! _Then_ might communicate with the flag with some
certainty. I shall never forgive myself if anything fatal actually
"When one does all for the best, Captain Cuffe, his mind ought to be at
ease, and you could not possibly foresee what has happened. Might
not--one wouldn't like either--but--necessity is a hard master----"
"Out with it, Griffin--anything is better than suspense."
"Well, sir, I was just thinking that possibly this young Italian girl
might know something about the lugger, and, as she clearly loves the
Frenchman, we should get a strong purchase on her tongue by means of
Cuffe looked intently at his lieutenant for half a minute; then he shook
his head in disapprobation.
"No, Griffin, no," he said, "to this I never can consent. As for this
quibbling, equivocating Yankee, if Yankee he be, one wouldn't feel many
scruples of delicacy; but to probe the affections of a poor innocent
girl in this way would be going too far. The heart of a young girl
should be sacred, under every circumstance."
Griffin colored, and he bit his lip. No one likes to be outdone, in the
appearance of generosity, at least; and he felt vexed that he should
have ventured on a proposition that his superior treated as unbecoming.
"Nevertheless, sir, she might think the lugger cheaply sold," he said,
with emphasis, "provided her lover's life was what she got in exchange.
It would be a very different thing were we to ask her to sell her
admirer, instead of a mere privateer."
"No matter, Griffin. We will not meddle with the private feelings of a
young female, that chance has thrown into our hands. As soon as we get
near enough in with the land, I intend to let the old man take his boat,
and carry his niece ashore. That will be getting rid of _them_, at
least, honorably and fairly. God knows what is to become of the
This terminated the conference. Griffin went on deck, where duty now
called him; and Cuffe sat down to re-peruse, for the ninth or tenth
time, the instructions of the admiral.
"I have no dread,
And feel the curse to have no natural fear,
Nor fluttering throb, that beats with hopes or wishes,
Or lurking love of something on the earth"
By this time the day had materially advanced, and there were grave
grounds for the uneasiness which Cuffe began so seriously to feel. All
three of the ships were still in the Bay of Salerno, gathering in toward
its northern shore, however; the Proserpine the deepest embayed, the
Terpsichore and the Ringdove having hauled out toward Campanella, as
soon as satisfied nothing was to be seen in-shore of them. The heights
which line the coast, from the immediate vicinity of the town of Salerno
to the headland that ends near Capri, have long been celebrated, not
only for their beauty and grandeur, but in connection with the lore of
the middle ages. As the Proserpine had never been in this bay before, or
never so near its head, her officers found some temporary relief from
the very general uneasiness that was felt on account of their prisoner,
in viewing scenery that is remarkable even in that remarkable section of
the globe. The ship had gone up abreast of Amalfi, and so close in as
to be less than a mile from the shore. This object was to communicate
with some fishermen, which had been done; the information received going
to establish the fact, that no craft resembling the lugger had been in
that part of the Bay. The vessel's head was now laid to the southward
and westward, in waiting for the zephyr, which might soon be expected.
The gallant frigate, seen from the impending rocks, looked like a light
merchantman, in all but her symmetry and warlike guise; nature being
moulded on so grand a scale all along that coast, as to render objects
of human art unusually diminutive to the eye. On the other hand, the
country-houses, churches, hermitages, convents, and villages, clustered
all along the mountain-sides, presented equally delusive forms, though
they gave an affluence to the views that left the spectator in a strange
doubt which most to admire, their wildness or their picturesque beauty.
The little air that remained was still at the southward, and as the ship
moved slowly along this scene of singular attraction, each ravine seemed
to give up a town, each shelf of rock a human habitation, and each
natural terrace a villa and a garden.
Of all men, sailors get to be the most _blases_ in the way of the
sensations produced by novelties and fine scenery. It appears to be a
part of their calling to suppress the emotions of a greenhorn; and,
generally, they look upon anything that is a little out of the ordinary
track with the coolness of those who feel it is an admission of
inferiority to betray surprise. It seldom happens with them that
anything occurs, or anything is seen, to which the last cruise, or, if
the vessel be engaged in trade, the last voyage, did not at least
furnish a parallel; usually the past event, or the more distant object,
has the advantage. He who has a sufficient store of this reserved
knowledge and experience, it will at once be seen, enjoys a great
superiority over him who has not, and is placed above the necessity of
avowing a sensation as humiliating as wonder. On the present occasion,
however, bur few held out against the novelty of the actual situation of
the ship; most on board being willing enough to allow that they had
never before been beneath cliffs that had such a union of the
magnificent, the picturesque, and the soft; though a few continued firm,
acting up to the old characters with the consistency of settled
Strand, the boatswain, was one of those who, on all such occasions,
"died hard." He was the last man in the ship who ever gave up a
prejudice; and this for three several reasons: he was a cockney, and
believed himself born in the centre of human knowledge; he was a seaman,
and understood the world; he was a boatswain, and stood upon
As the Proserpine fanned slowly along the land, this personage took a
position between the knight-heads, on the bowsprit, where he could
overlook the scene, and at the same time hear the dialogue of the
forecastle; and both with suitable decorum. Strand was as much of a
monarch forward as Cuffe was aft; though the appearance of a lieutenant,
or of the master, now and then, a little dimmed the lustre of his reign.
Still, Strand succumbed completely to only two of the officers--the
captain and the first lieutenant; and not always to these, in what he
conceived to be purely matters of sentiment. In the way of duty, he
understood himself too well ever to hesitate about obeying an order; but
when it came to opinions, he was a man who could maintain his own, even
in the presence of Nelson.
The first captain of the forecastle was an old seaman of the name of
Catfall. At the precise moment when Strand occupied the position named,
between the knight-heads, this personage was holding a discourse with
three or four of the forecastle-men, who stood on the heel of the
bowsprit, inboard--the etiquette of the ship not permitting these
worthies to show their heads above the nettings. Each of the party had
his arms folded; each chewed tobacco; each had his hair in a queue; and
each occasionally hitched up his trousers, in a way to prove that he did
not require the aid of suspenders in keeping his nether garments in
their proper place. It may be mentioned, indeed, that the point of
division between the jacket and the trousers was marked in each by a
bellying line of a clean white shirt, that served to relieve the blue of
the dress, as a species of marine facing. As was due to his greater
experience and his rank, Catfall was the principal speaker among those
who lined the heel of the bowsprit.
"This here coast is moun_tain_ious, as one may own," observed the
captain of the forecastle; "but what I say is, that it's not _as_
moun_tain_ious as some I've seen. Now, when I went round the 'arth with
Captain Cook, we fell in with islands that were so topped off with
rocks, and the like o' that, that these here affairs alongside on 'em
wouldn't pass for anything more than a sort of jury mountains."
"There you're right, Catfall," said Strand, in a patronizing way; "as
anybody knows as has been round the Horn. I didn't sail with Captain
Cook, seeing that I was then the boatswain of the Hussar, and she
couldn't have made one of Cook's squadron, being a post-ship, and
commanded by a full-built captain; but I _was_ in them seas when a
younker, and can back Catfall's account of the matter by my largest
anchor, in the way of history. D--e, if I think these hillocks would be
called even jury mountains, in that quarter of the world. They tell me
there's several noblemen's and gentlemen's parks near Lunnun, where they
make mountains just to look at; that must be much of a muchness with
these here chaps. I never drift far from Wappin', when I'm at home, and
so I can't say I've seen these artifice hills, as they calls them,
myself; but there's one Joseph Shirk, that lives near St. Katharine's
Lane, that makes trips regularly into the neighborhood, who gives quite
a particular account of the matter."
"I dare to say it's all true, Mr. Strand," answered the captain of the
forcastle, "for I've know'd some of them travelling chaps who have seen
stranger sights than that. No, sir, I calls these mountains no great
matter; and as to the houses and villages on 'em, where you see one
here, you might say you could see two on some of the desert islands--"
A very marvellous account of Cook's Discoveries was suddenly checked by
the appearance of Cuffe on the forecastle. It was not often the captain
visited that part of the ship; but he was considered a privileged
person, let him go where he would. At his appearance, all the "old
salts" quitted the heel of the spar, tarpaulins came fairly down to a
level with the bag-reefs of the shirts, and even Strand stepped into the
nettings, leaving the place between the knight-heads clear. To this spot
Cuffe ascended with a light, steady step, for he was but six-and-twenty,
just touching his hat in return to the boatswain's bow.
A boatswain on board an English ship-of-war is a more important
personage than he is apt to be on board an American. Neither the captain
nor the first lieutenant disdains conversing with him, on occasions; and
he is sometimes seen promenading the starboard side of the quarter-deck
in deep discourse with one or the other of those high functionaries. It
has been said that Cuffe and Strand were old shipmates, the latter
having actually been boatswain of the ship in which the former first
sailed. This circumstance was constantly borne in mind by both parties,
the captain seldom coming near his inferior, in moments of relaxation,
without having something to say to him.
"Rather a remarkable coast this, Strand," he commenced, on the present
occasion, as soon as fairly placed between the knight-heads; "something
one might look for a week, in England, without finding it."
"I beg your pardon, sir, but I'm not of the same way of thinking. I was
just telling the forecastle lads, down there, that there's many a
nobleman and gentleman at home as has finder hills than these, made by
hand, in his parks and gardens, just to look at."
"The d--l you have! And what did the forecastle lads down there say to
"What could they, sir? It just showed the superiority of an Englishman
to an Italian, and that ended the matter. Don't you remember the
"The Indies! Why, the coast between Bombay and Calcutta is as flat as a
pancake most of the distance."
"Not them Injees, sir, but t'other--the West, I mean. The islands and
mountains we passed and went into in the Rattler; your honor was only a
young gentleman then, but was too much aloft to miss the sight of
anything--and all along America, too."
As Strand was speaking he glanced complacently round, as if to intimate
to the listeners what an old friend of the captain's they enjoyed in the
person of their boatswain.
"Oh! the West Indies--you're nearer right there, Strand, and yet they
have nothing to compare to this. Why, here are mountains, alive with
habitations, that fairly come up to the sea!"
"Well, sir, as to habitations, what's these to a street in Lunnun? Begin
on the starboard hand, for instance, as you walk down Cheapside, and
count as you go; my life for it, you'll reel off more houses in half an
hour's walk than are to be found in all that there village yonder. Then
you'll remember, sir, that the starboard hand only has half, every Jack
having his Jenny. I look upon Lunnun as the finest sight in nature,
Captain Cuffe, after all I have seen in many cruises!"
"I don't know, Mr. Strand. In the way of coast, one may very well be
satisfied with this. Yonder town, now, is called Amalfi; it was once a
place of great commerce, they say."
"Of commerce, sir!--why, it's nothing but a bit of a village, or, at
most, of a borough built in a hollow. No haven, no docks, no
comfortable place even for setting up the frame of a ship on the beach.
The commerce of such a town must have been mainly carried on by means of
mules and jackasses, as one reads of in the trade of the Bible."
"Carried on as it might be, trade it once had. There does not seem to be
any hiding-place along this shore for a lugger like the Folly, after
The boatswain smiled, with a knowing look, while, at the same time, the
expression of his countenance was like that of a man who did not choose
to let others into all his secrets.
"The Folly is a craft we are not likely to see again, Captain Cuffe," he
then answered, if it were only out of respect to his superior.
"Why so? The Proserpine generally takes a good look at everything she
"Aye, aye, sir; that may be true, as a rule, but I never knew a craft
found after a third look for her. Everything seems to go by thirds in
this world, sir; and I always look upon a third chase as final. Now,
sir, there are three classes of admirals, and three sets of flags; a
ship has three masts; the biggest ships are three-deckers; then there
are three planets----"
"The d--l there are! How do you make _that_ out, Strand?"
"Why, sir, there's the sun, moon, and stars; that makes just three by my
"Aye, but what do you say to Jupiter, Saturn, Venus, and all the rest of
them, the earth included?"
"Why, sir, they're all the rest of the stars, and not planets at all.
Then, sir, look around you, and you'll find everything going by threes.
There are three topsails, three jibs, and three topgallant sails--"
"And two courses," said the captain, gravely, to whom this theory of the
threes was new.
"Quite true, sir, in name, but your honor will recollect the spanker is
nothing but a fore-and-aft course, rigged to a mast, instead of to a
jack-yard, as it used to be."
"There are neither three captains nor three boatswains to a ship, Master
"Certainly not, sir; that would be oppressive, and they would stand in
each other's way; still, Captain Cuffe, the thirds hold out wonderfully,
even in all these little matters. There's the three lieutenants; and
there's the boatswain, gunner, and carpenter--and--"
"Sail-maker, armorer, and captain of the mast," interrupted Cuffe,
"Well, sir, you may make anything seem doubtful by bringing forward a
plenty of reasons; but all my experience says, a third chase never comes
to anything, unless it turns out successful; but that _after_ a third
chase, all may as well be given up."
"I fancy Lord Nelson holds a different doctrine, Strand. He tells us to
follow a Frenchman round the earth, rather than let him escape."
"No doubt, sir. Follow him round three earths, if you can keep him in
sight; but not round _four_. That is all I contend for, Captain Cuffe.
Even women, they tell me, take what is called their thirds, in a
"Well, well, Strand, I suppose there must be some truth in your
doctrine, or you wouldn't hold out for it so strenuously; and as for
this coast, I must give it up, for I never expect to see another like
it; much less a third."
"It's my duty to give up to your honor; but I ask permission to think a
third chase should always be the last one. That's a melancholy sight to
a man of feelin', Captain Cuffe, the object between the two
midship-guns, on the starboard side of the main-deck, sir?"
"You mean the prisoner? I wish with all my heart he was not there,
Strand. I think I would rather he were in his lugger again, to run the
chances of that fourth chase of which you seem to think so lightly."
"Your hanging ships are not often lucky ships, Captain Cuffe. In my
judgment, asking your pardon, sir, there ought to be a floating jail in
every fleet, where all the courts and all the executions should
"It would be robbing the boatswains of no small part of their duty, were
the punishments to be sent out of the different vessels," answered
"Aye, aye, sir--the punishments, I grant, your honor; but hanging is an
_execution_, and not a punishment. God forbid that at my time of life I
should be ordered to sail in a ship that has no punishment on board; but
I am really getting to be too old to look at executions with any sort of
pleasure. Duty that isn't done with pleasure is but poor duty at the
"There are many disagreeable and some painful duties to be performed,
Strand; this of executing a man, let the offence be what it may, is
among the most painful."
"For my part, Captain Cuffe, I do not mind hanging a mutineer so very
much, for he is a being that the world ought not to harbor; but it is a
different thing with an enemy and a spy. It's our duty to spy as much as
we can for our king and country, and one ought never to bear too hard on
such as does their duty. With a fellow that can't obey orders, and who
puts his own will above the pleasure of his superiors, I have no
patience; but I do not so much understand why the gentlemen of the
courts are so hard on such as do a little more reconn'itrin'
"That is because ships are less exposed to the attempts of spies than
armies' Strand. A soldier hates a spy as much as you do a mutineer. The
reason is, that he may be surprised by an enemy through his means, and
butchered in his sleep. Nothing is so unpleasant to a soldier as a
surprise; and the law against spies, though a general law of war,
originated with soldiers, rather than with us sailors, I should think."
"Yes, sir, I dare say your honor is right. He's a rum 'un, a soldier,
at the best; and this opinion proves it. Now, sir, Captain Cuffe, just
suppose a Frenchman of about our own metal took it into his head to
surprise the Proserpine some dark night; what would come of it, after
all? There's the guns, and it's only to turn the hands up, to set 'em at
work, just the same as if there wasn't a spy in the world. And should
they prefer to come on board us, and to try their luck at close
quarters, I rather think, sir, the surprise would meet 'em face to face.
No, no, sir; spies is nothing to us--though it might teach 'em manners
to keel-haul one, once-and-a-while."
Cuffe now became thoughtful and silent, and even Strand did not presume
to speak, when the captain was in this humor. The latter descended to
the forecastle, and walked aft, his hands behind his back, and his head
inclining downward. Every one he met made way for him, as a matter of
course. In that mood, he moved among the throng of a ship of war as a
man tabooed. Even Winchester respected his commander's abstraction,
although he had a serious request to make, which it is time to explain.
Andrea Barrofaldi and Vito Viti remained on board the frigate, inmates
of the cabin, and gradually becoming more accustomed to their novel
situation. They did not escape the jokes of a man-of-war, but, on the
whole, they were well treated, and were tolerably satisfied; more
especially as the hope of capturing le Feu-Follet began to revive. As a
matter of course, they were apprised of the condition of Raoul; and,
both kind and benevolent men in the main, they were desirous of
conversing with the prisoner, and of proving to him that they bore no
malice. Winchester was spoken to on the subject; but before he granted
the permission, he thought it safest to consult the Captain in the
matter. At length an opportunity offered, Cuffe suddenly rousing
himself, and giving an order in relation to the canvas the ship
"Here are the two Italian gentlemen, Captain Cuffe." observed
Winchester, "desirous of speaking to the prisoner. I did not think it
right, sir to let him have communication with any one, without first
ascertaining your pleasure."
"Poor fellow! His time is getting very short, unless we hear from
Clinch; and there can be no harm in granting him every indulgence. I
have been thinking of this matter, and do not possibly see how I can
escape ordering the execution, unless it be countermanded from
"Certainly not, sir. But Mr. Clinch is an active and experienced seaman,
when he is in earnest; we may still hope something from him. What is to
be done with the Italians, sir?"
"Let them, or any one else that poor Yvard is willing to see, go below."
"Do you mean to include old Giuntotardi and his niece, Captain
Cuffe?--and this deserter of our own, Bolt--he, too, has had something
to say of a wish to take leave of his late shipmate?"
"We might be justified in denying the request of the last, Mr.
Winchester, but hardly of the others. Still, if Raoul Yvard wishes to
see even him, his desire may as well be granted."
Thus authorized, Winchester no longer hesitated about granting the
several permissions. An order was sent to the sentinel, through the
corporal of the guard, to allow any one to enter the prisoner's room
whom the latter might wish to receive. A ship was not like a prison on
shore, escape being next to impossible, more especially from a vessel at
sea. The parties accordingly received intimation that they might visit
the condemned man, should the latter be disposed to receive them.
By this time, something like a general gloom had settled on the ship.
The actual state of things was known to all on board, and few believed
it possible that Clinch could reach the Foudroyant, receive his orders,
and be back in time to prevent the execution. It wanted now but three
hours of sunset, and the minutes appeared to fly, instead of dragging.
The human mind is so constituted, that uncertainty increases most of its
sensations;--the apprehension of death even, very usually exciting a
livelier emotion than its positive approach. Thus it was with the
officers and people of the Proserpine; had there been no hope of
escaping the execution, they would have made up their minds to submit to
the evil, as unavoidable; but the slight chance which did actually exist
created a feverish excitement that soon extended to all hands; and this
as completely as if a chase were in sight, and each individual was bent
on overtaking her. As minute after minute flew by, the feeling
increased, until it would not much exceed the bounds of truth to say
that under none of the vicissitudes of war did there ever exist so
feverish an hour on board his Britannic Majesty's ship the Proserpine,
as the very period of which we are now writing. Eyes were constantly
turned toward the sun, and several of the young gentlemen collected on
the forecastle, with no other view than to be as near as possible to the
headland around which the boat of Clinch was expected to make her
reappearance, as behind it she had last been seen.
The zephyr had come at the usual hour, but it was light, and the ship
was so close to the mountains as to feel very little of its force. It
was different with the two other vessels. Lyon had gone about in time to
get clear of the highest mountains, and his lofty sails took enough of
the breeze to carry him out to sea, three or four hours before; while,
the Terpsichore, under Sir Frederick Dashwood, had never got near enough
in with the land to be becalmed at all. Her head had been laid to the
southwest, at the first appearance of the afternoon wind; and that
frigate was now hull-down to seaward--actually making a free wind of it,
as she shaped her course up between Ischia and Capri. As for the
Proserpine, when the bell struck three in the first dog-watch, she was
just abeam of the celebrated little islets of the Sirens, the western
breeze now beginning to die away, though, getting more of it, the ship
was drawing ahead faster than she had been since the turn of the day.
Three bells in the first dog-watch indicate the hour of half-past five.
At that season of the year, the sun sets a few minutes past six. Of
course there remained but little more than half an hour, in which to
execute the sentence of the law. Cuffe had never quitted the deck, and
he actually started when he heard the first sound of the clapper.
Winchester turned toward him, with an inquiring look; for everything had
been previously arranged between them; he received merely a significant
gesture in return. This, however, was sufficient. Certain orders were
privately issued. Then there appeared a stir among the foretop-men and
on the forecastle, where a rope was rove at the fore-yard-arm, and a
grating was rigged for a platform--unerring signs of the approaching
Accustomed as these hardy mariners were to brave dangers of all sorts,
and to witness human suffering of nearly every degree, a feeling of
singular humanity had come over the whole crew. Raoul was their enemy,
it is true, and he had been sincerely detested by all hands,
eight-and-forty hours before; but circumstances had entirely changed the
ancient animosity into a more generous and manly sentiment. In the first
place, a successful and a triumphant enemy was an object very different
from a man in their own power, and who lay entirely at their mercy. Then
the personal appearance of the young privateersman was unusually
attractive, and altogether different from what it had been previously
represented, and that, too, by an active rivalry that was not altogether
free from bitterness. But chiefly was the generous sentiment awakened by
the conviction that the master-passion, and none of the usual
inducements of a spy, had brought their enemy into this strait; and
though clearly guilty in a technical point of view, that be was
influenced by no pitiful wages, even allowing that he blended with the
pursuit of his love some of the motives of his ordinary warfare. All
these considerations, coupled with the reluctance that seamen ever feel
to having an execution in their ship, had entirely turned the tables;
and there, where Raoul would have found so lately between two and three
hundred active and formidable enemies, he might almost be said now to
have as many sympathizing friends.
No wonder, then, that the preparations of the foretop-men were regarded
with unfavorable eyes. The unseen hand of authority, nevertheless, held
all in restraint. Cuffe himself did not dare to hesitate any longer. The
necessary orders were given, though with deep reluctance, and then the
captain went below, as if to hide himself from human eyes.
The ten minutes that succeeded were minutes of intense concern. All
hands were called, the preparations had been completed, and Winchester
waited only for the reappearance of Cuffe, to issue the order to have
the prisoner placed on the grating. A midshipman was sent into the
cabin, after which the commanding officer came slowly, and with a
lingering step, upon the quarter-deck. The crew was assembled on the
forecastle and in the waists; the marine guard was under arms; the
officers clustered around the capstan; and a solemn, uneasy expectation
pervaded the whole ship. The lightest footfall was audible. Andrea and
his friend stood apart, near the taffrail, but no one saw Carlo
Giuntotardi or his niece.
"There is yet some five-and-twenty minutes of sun, I should think, Mr.
Winchester," observed Cuffe, feverishly glancing his eye at the western
margin of the sea, toward which the orb of day was slowly settling,
gilding all that side of the vault of heaven with the mellow lustre of
the hour and latitude.
"Not more than twenty, I fear, sir," was the reluctant answer.
"I should think five might suffice, at the worst; especially if the men
make a swift run." This was said in a half whisper, and thick husky
tones, the Captain looking anxiously at the lieutenant the while.
Winchester shrugged his shoulders, and turned away, unwilling to reply.
Cuffe now had a short consultation with the surgeon, the object of which
was to ascertain the minimum of time a man might live, suspended by the
neck at the yard-arm of a frigate. The result was not favorable; for a
sign followed to bring forth the prisoner.
Raoul came on deck, in charge of the master-at-arms and the officer who
had acted as provost-marshal. He was clad in his clean white lazzarone
garb, wearing the red Phrygian cap already mentioned. Though his face
was pale, no man could detect any tremor in the well-turned muscles that
his loose attire exposed to view. He raised his cap courteously to the
group of officers, and threw an understanding glance forward at the
fearful arrangement on the fore-yard. That he was shocked when the
grating and rope met his eye, is unquestionable; but, rallying in an
instant, he smiled, bowed to Cuffe, and moved toward the scene of his
contemplate execution, firmly, but without the smallest signs of bravado
in his manner.
A deathlike stillness prevailed, while the subordinates adjusted the
rope, and placed the condemned man on the grating. Then the slack of the
rope was drawn in by hand, and the men were ordered to lay hold of the
instrument of death, and to stretch it along the deck.
"Stand by, my lads, to make a swift run and a strong jerk, at your first
pull," said Winchester, in a low voice, as he passed down the line.
"Rapidity is mercy, at such a moment."
"Good God!" muttered Cuffe, "can the man die in this manner, without a
prayer; without even a glance toward heaven, as if asking for mercy?"
"He is an unbeliever, I hear, sir," returned Griffin, "We have offered
him all the religious consolation we could; but he seems to wish
"Hail the topgallant yards once more, Mr. Winchester," said Cuffe,
"Foretopgallant yard, there!"
"Any signs of the boat--look well into the bay of Naples--we are opening
Campanella now sufficiently to give you a good look up toward the head."
A pause of a minute succeeded. Then the lookout aloft shook his head in
the negative, as if unwilling to speak. Winchester glanced at Cuffe, who
turned anxiously, mounted a gun, and strained his eyes in a gaze to the
"All ready, sir," said the first lieutenant, when another minute
Cuffe was in the act of raising his hand, which would have been the
signal of death, when the dull, heavy report of a distant gun came
booming down from the direction of the town of Naples.
"Stand fast!" shouted Cuffe, fearful the men might get the start of-him.
"Make your mates take their calls from their mouths, sir. Two more guns,
Winchester, and I am the happiest man in Nelson's fleet!"
A second gun _did_ come, just as these words were uttered: then followed
a breathless pause of half a minute, when a third smothered but
unequivocal report succeeded.
"It must be a salute, sir," Griffin uttered, inquiringly..
"The interval is too long. Listen! I hope to _God_ we have had the
Every ear in the ship listened intently, Cuffe holding his watch in his
hand. Two entire minutes passed, and no fourth gun was heard. As second
after second went by, the expression of the captain's countenance
changed, and then he waved his hand in triumph.
"It's as it should be, gentlemen," he said. "Take the prisoner below,
Mr. Winchester. Unreeve the rope, and send that d--d grating off the
gun. Mr. Strand, pipe down."
Raoul was immediately led below. As he passed through the after-hatch,
all the officers on the quarter-deck bowed to him, and not a man was
there in the ship who did not feel the happier for the reprieve.
"He saw with his own eyes the moon was round,
Was also certain that the earth was square,
Because he'd journeyed fifty miles, and found
No sign that it was circular anywhere."
Raoul Yvard was indebted to a piece of forethought in Clinch for his
life. But for the three guns fired so opportunely from the Foudroyant,
the execution could not have been stayed; and but for a prudent care on
the part of the master's-mate, the guns would never have been fired. The
explanation is this: when Cuffe was giving his subordinate instructions
how to proceed, the possibility of detention struck the latter, and he
bethought him of some expedient by which such an evil might be remedied.
At his suggestion then, the signal of the guns was mentioned by the
captain, in his letter to the commander-in-chief, and its importance
pointed out. When Clinch reached the fleet, Nelson was at Castel a Mare,
and it became necessary to follow him to that place by land. Here Clinch
found him in the palace of Qui-Si-Sane, in attendance on the court, and
delivered his despatches. Nothing gave the British admiral greater
pleasure than to be able to show mercy, the instance to the contrary
already introduced existing as an exception in his private character and
his public career; and it is possible that an occurrence so recent, and
so opposed to his habits, may have induced him the more willingly now to
submit to his ordinary impulses, and to grant the respite asked with the
"Your captain tells me here, sir," observed Nelson, after he had read
Cuffe's letter a second time, "little doubt exists that Yvard was in the
Bay on a love affair, and that his purposes were not those of a spy,
"Such is the, opinion aboard us, my lord," answered the master's-mate.
"There are an old man and a very charming young woman in his company,
who Captain Cuffe says were in the cabin of this ship, on a visit to
your lordship, only a few days since."
Nelson started, and his face flushed. Then he seized a pen, and, with
the only hand he had, scratched a letter, directing a reprieve until
further orders. This he signed and handed to Clinch, saying, as he
"Get into your boat, sir, and pull back to the frigate as fast as
possible; God forbid that any man suffer wrongfully!"
"I beg your pardon, my lord--but there is not time, now, for me to reach
the ship before the sun set. I have a signal prepared in the boat, it is
true; but the frigate may not come round Campanella before the last
moment, and then all these pains will be lost. Does not Captain Cuffe
speak of some guns to be fired from the flag-ship, my lord?"
"He does, sir; and this may be the safest mode of communicating, after
all. With this light westerly air, a gun will be heard a long distance
at sea. Take the pen, and write as I dictate, sir."
Clinch seized the pen, which the admiral, who had lost his right arm
only a few years before, really felt unable to use, and wrote
"Sir--Immediately on the receipt of this, you will fire three heavy
guns, at intervals of half a minute, as a signal to the Proserpine to
suspend an execution.
"To the Commanding Officer of His Majesty's Ship Foudroyant."
As soon as the magical words of "Nelson and Bronte" were affixed to
this order, with a date, Clinch rose to depart. After he had made his
bows, he stood with his hand on the lock of the door, as if uncertain
whether to prefer a request or not.
"This is a matter of moment, sir, and no time is to be lost," added
Nelson. "I feel great anxiety about it, and wish you to desire Captain
Cuffe to send you back with a report of all that has passed, as soon as
"I will report your wishes, my lord," answered Clinch, brightening up;
for he only wanted an opportunity to speak of his own promotion, and
this was now offered in perspective. "May I tell the commanding officer
of the flag-ship to use the lower-deck guns, my lord?"
"He will do that of his own accord, after reading those orders; heavy
guns mean the heaviest. Good afternoon, sir; for God's sake, lose
Clinch obeyed this injunction to the letter. He reached the Foudroyant
some time before sunset, and immediately placed the order in her
captain's hands. A few words of explanation set everything in motion,
and the three guns were fired on the side of the ship toward Capri, most
opportunely for our hero.
The half hour that succeeded, on board the Proserpine, was one of gayety
and merriment. Every person was glad that the ship had escaped an
execution; and then it was the hour for piping down the hammocks, and
for shifting the dogwatches. Cuffe recovered all his animation, and
conversed cheerfully, having Griffin for an interpreter, with his two
Italian guests. These last had been prevented from paying their visit to
the prisoner, on account of the latter's wish to be alone; but the
intention was now renewed; and sending below, to ascertain if it would
be agreeable, they proceeded together on their friendly mission. As the
two worthies, who had not altogether got their sea-legs, slowly
descended the ladder, and threaded their way among the throng of a ship,
the discourse did not flag between them.
"Cospetto!" exclaimed the podesta; "Signor Andrea, we live in a world
of wonders! A man can hardly say whether he is actually alive or not. To
think how near this false Sir Smees was to death, half an hour since;
and now, doubtless, he is as much alive, and as merry as any of us."
"It would be more useful, friend Vito Viti," answered the philosophical
vice-governatore, "to remember how near those who live are always to
death, who has only to open his gates to cause the strongest and fairest
to pass at once into the tomb."
"By San Stefano, but you have a way with you, vice-governatore, that
would become a cardinal! It's a thousand pities the church was robbed of
such a support; though I do think, Signor Andrea, if your mind would
dwell less on another state of being, it would be more cheerful; and I
may say, more cheering to those with whom you discourse. There are evils
enough in this life, without thinking so much of death."
"There are philosophers who pretend, good Vito, that nothing that we see
around us actually has an existence: that we _fancy_ everything; fancy
that this is a sea, called the Mediterranean; fancy this is a
ship--yonder is the land; fancy that we live; and even fancy death."
"Corpo di Bacco! Signor Andrea," exclaimed the other, stopping short at
the foot of the ladder, and seizing his companion by a button, afraid he
would desert him in the midst of a strange delusion, "you would not
trifle in such a matter with an old friend; one who has known you from
childhood? _Fancy_ that I am alive!"
"_Si_--I have told you only the truth. The imagination is very strong,
and may easily give the semblance of reality to unreal things."
"And that I am not a podesta, in fact, but one only in fancy!"
"Just so, friend Vito; and that I am only a vice-governatore, too, in
"And that Elba is not a real island, or Porto Ferrajo a real town; and
that even all our iron, of which we _seem_ to send so much about the
world, in good, wholesome ships, is only a sort of ghost of solid,
"_St, si_--that everything which appears to be material is, in fact,
imaginary; iron, gold, or flesh."
"And then I am not Vito Viti, but an impostor? What a rascally
philosophy is this! Why, both of us are as bad as this Sir Smees, if
what you say be true, vice-governatore--or make-believe
"Not an impostor, friend Vito; for there is no real being of thy name,
if thou art not he."
"Diavolo! A pretty theory this, which would teach the young people of
Elba that there is no actual podesta in the island, but only a poor,
miserable, sham one; no Vito Viti on earth. If they get to think this,
God help the place, as to order and sobriety."
"I do not think, neighbor, that you fully understand the matter, which
may be owing to a want of clearness on my part; but, as we are now on
our way to visit an unfortunate prisoner, we may as well postpone the
discussion to another time. There are many leisure moments on board a
ship, to the language of which one is a stranger, that might be usefully
and agreeably relieved by going into the subject more at large."
"Your pardon, Signor Andrea; but there is no time like the present.
Then, if the theory be true, there is no prisoner at all--or, at the
most, an imaginary one--and it can do Sir Smees no harm to wait; while,
on the other hand, I shall not have a moment's peace until I learn
whether there is such a man as Vito Viti or not, and whether I am he."
"Brother Vito, thou art impatient; these things are not learned in a
moment; moreover, every system has a beginning and an end, like a book;
and who would ever become learned, that should attempt to read a
"I know what is due to you, Signor Andrea, both on ac count of your
higher rank, and on account of your greater wisdom, and will say no more
at present; though to keep from _thinking_ on a philosophy that teaches
I am not a podesta, or you a vice-governatore, is more than flesh and
blood can bear."
Andrea Barrofaldi, glad that his companion was momentarily appeased, now
proceeded toward Raoul's little prison, and was immediately admitted by
the sentry, who had his orders to that effect. The prisoner received his
guests courteously and cheerfully; for we are far from wishing to
represent him as so heroic as not to rejoice exceedingly at having
escaped death by hanging, even though it might prove to be a respite,
rather than a pardon. At such a moment, the young man could have excused
a much more offensive intrusion, and the sudden change in his prospects
disposed him a little to be jocular; for truth compels us to add that
gratitude to God entered but little into his emotions. The escape from
death, like his capture, and the other incidents of his cruise, was
viewed simply as the result of the fortune of war.
Winchester had directed that Raoul's state-room should be supplied with
every little convenience that his situation required, and, among other
things, it had two common ship's stools. One of these was given to each
of the Italians, while the prisoner took a seat on the gun-tackle of one
of the two guns that formed the sides of his apartment. It was now
night, and a mist had gathered over the arch above, winch hid the stars,
and rendered it quite dark. Still, Raoul had neither lamp nor candles;
and, though they had been offered him, he declined their use, as he had
found stranger eyes occasionally peeping through the openings in the
canvas, with the idle curiosity of the vulgar, to ascertain the
appearance and employments of one condemned to die. He had experienced a
good deal of annoyance from this feeling the previous night; and the
same desire existing to see how a criminal could bear a respite, he
determined to pass his evening in obscurity. There was a lantern or
two, however, on the gun-deck, which threw a dim light even beyond the
limits of the canvas bulkheads. As has been said already, these
bulkheads extended from gun to gun, so as to admit light and air from
the ports. This brought the tackles on one side into the room; and on
one of these Raoul now took his seat.
Andrea Barrofaldi, from his superior condition in life, as well as from
his better education and nicer natural tact, far surpassed his companion
in courtesy of demeanor. The latter would have plunged _in medias res_
at once, but the vice-governatore commenced a conversation on general
matters, intending to offer his congratulations for the recent respite
when he conceived that a suitable occasion should arise. This was an
unfortunate delay in one respect; for Vito Viti no sooner found that the
main object of the visit was to be postponed, than he turned with
eagerness to the subject in discussion, which had been interrupted in
order to enter the state-room.
"Here has the vice-governatore come forward with a theory, Sir Smees,"
he commenced, the moment a pause in the discourse left him an
opening--"here has the vice-governatore come forward with a theory that
I insist the church would call damnable, and at which human nature
"Nay, good Vito, thou dost not state the case fairly," interrupted
Andrea, whose spirit was a little aroused at so abrupt an assault. "The
theory is not mine; it is that of a certain English philosopher, in
particular, who, let it be said, too, was a bishop."
"A Lutheran!--was it not so, honorable Signor Andrea?--a bishop so
"Why, to confess the truth, he _was_ a heretic, and not to be considered
as an apostle of the true church."
"Aye--I would have sworn to that. No true son of the church would ever
broach such a doctrine. Only fancy, signori, the number of imaginary
fires, tongues, and other instruments of torture that would become
necessary to carry on punishment under such a system! To be consistent,
even the devils ought to be imaginary."
"_Comment, signori!"_ exclaimed Raoul, smiling, and arousing to a sudden
interest in the discourse; "did any English bishop ever broach such a
doctrine? Imaginary devils, and imaginary places of punishment, are
coming near to our revolutionary France! After this, I hope our
much-abused philosophy will meet with more respect."
"My neighbor has not understood the theory of which he speaks," answered
Andrea, too good, a churchman not to feel uneasiness at the direction
things were taking: "and so, worthy Vito Viti, I feel the necessity of
explaining the whole matter at some length. Sir Smees," so the Italians
called Raoul, out of courtesy still, it being awkward for them, after
all that had passed, to address him by his real name--"Sir Smees will
excuse us for a few minutes; perhaps it may serve to amuse him to hear
to what a flight the imagination of a subtle-minded man can soar."
Raoul civilly expressed the satisfaction it would give him to listen,
and stretching himself on the gun-tackle, in order to be more at ease,
he leaned back with his head fairly within the port, while his feet were
braced against the inner truck of the gun-carriage. This threw him into
a somewhat recumbent attitude, but it being understood as intended to
render what was but an inconvenient seat at the best tolerably
comfortable, no one thought it improper.
It is unnecessary for us to repeat here all that Andrea Barrofaldi
thought proper to say in his own justification, and in explanation of
the celebrated theory of Bishop Berkeley. Such a task was not performed
in a minute; and, in truth, prolixity, whenever he got upon a favorite
theme, was apt to be one of the vice-governatore's weaknesses. He was
far from acquiescing in the doctrine, though he annoyed his old neighbor
exceedingly, by presenting the subject in such a way as to render it
respectable in appearance, if not conclusive in argument. To the latter
it was peculiarly unpleasant to imagine, even for the sake of argument,
that there was no such island as Elba, and that he was not its podesta;
and all his personal and egotistical propensities came in aid of his
official reluctance, to disgust him thoroughly with a theory that he did
not hesitate to say "was an outrage on every honest man's nature."
"There are fellows in the world, Signor Andrea," the straightforward
podesta urged, in continuation of his objections, "who might be glad
enough to find everything imaginary, as you say--chaps that cannot sleep
of nights, for bad consciences, and to whom it would be a great blessing
if the earth would throw them overboard, as they say in this ship, and
let them fall into the great ocean of oblivion. But they are baroni in
grain, and ought not to pass for anything material, among honest people.
I've known several of those rogues at Livorno, and I dare say Napoli is
not altogether without them; but that is a very different matter from
telling a handsome and virtuous young maiden that her beauty and modesty
are both seeming; and respectable magistrates that they are as great
impostors as the very rogues they send to the prisons; or, perhaps, to
To speeches like these, Andrea opposed his explanations and his
philosophy, until the discussion became animated, and the dialogue loud.
It is rather a peculiarity of Italy, that one of the softest languages
of Christendom is frequently rendered harsh and unpleasant by the mode
of using it. On this occasion, certainly, the animation of the
disputants did not mitigate the evil. Griffin happened to pass the spot,
on the outside of the canvas, just at this moment, and, catching some of
the words, he stopped to listen. His smiles and translations soon
collected a group of officers, and the sentry respectfully dropping a
little on one side, the deck around the state-room of the prisoner
became a sort of parquet to a very amusing representation. Several of
the young gentlemen understood a little Italian, and Griffin
translating rapidly, though in an undertone, the whole affair was deemed
to be particularly diverting.
"This is a rum way of consoling a man who is condemned to die," muttered
the master; "I wonder the Frenchman stands all their nonsense."
"Oh!" rejoined the marine officer, "drill will do anything. These
Revolutionists are so drilled into hypocrisy, that I dare say the fellow
is grinning the whole time, as if perfectly delighted."
Raoul, in fact, listened with no little amusement. At first, his voice
was occasionally heard in the discussion, evidently aiming at exciting
the disputants; but the warmth of the latter soon silenced him, and he
was fain to do nothing but listen. Shortly after the discussion got to
be warm, and just as Griffin was collecting his group, the prisoner
stretched himself still further into the port, to enjoy the coolness of
the evening breeze, when, to his surprise, a hand was laid gently on
"Hush!" whispered a voice close to his ear, "it is the
American--Ithuel--be cool;--now is the moment to pull for life."
Raoul had too much self-command to betray his astonishment, but in an
instant every faculty he possessed was on the alert. Ithuel, he knew,
was a man for exigencies. Experience had taught him a profound respect
for his enterprise and daring, when it became necessary to act.
Something must certainly be in the wind, worthy of his attention, or
this cautious person would not have exposed himself in a situation which
would be sure to lead to punishment, if detected. Ithuel was seated
astride of one of the chains, beneath the main-channel of the ship, a
position which might be maintained without detection, possibly, so long
as it continued dark; but which in itself, if seen, would have been
taken as a proof of an evil intention.
"What would you have, Etooelle?" whispered Raoul, who perceived that
his companions were too much occupied to observe his movements, or to
hear his words.
"The _Eye_talian, and his niece, are about to go ashore. Everything is
ready and understood. I've consaited you might pass out of the port, in
the dark, and escape in the boat. Keep quiet--we shall see."
Raoul understood his respite to be a thing of doubtful termination.
Under the most favorable results, an English prison remained in
perspective, and then the other side of the picture offered the image of
Ghita to his eye! He was in a tumult of feeling, but, accustomed to
self-command, no exclamation escaped him.
"When, cher Etooelle, _when_?" he asked, his whisper being tremulous, in
spite of every effort to command himself.
"Now--_too-der-sweet--(tout-de-suite)--_the boat is at the gangway, and
old Giuntotardi is in her--they are rigging a chair for the gal.
Aye--there she swings off!--don't you hear the call?"
Raoul did hear the whistle of the boatswain, which was piping "lower
away" at that very moment. He listened intently, as he lay stretched
upon the gun-tackles; and then he heard the splash in the water, as the
boat was hauled closer to, in order to be brought beneath the chair. The
rattling of oars, too, was audible, as Ghita left the seat and moved
aft. "Round in," called out the officer of the deck; after which Carlo
Giuntotardi was left in quiet possession of his own boat.
The moment was exceedingly critical. Some one, in all probability, was
watching the boat from the deck; and, though the night was dark, it
required the utmost caution to proceed with any hopes of success. At
this instant, Ithuel again whispered:
"The time's near. Old Carlo has his orders, and little Ghita is alive to
see them obeyed. All now depends on silence and activity. In less than
five minutes, the boat will be under the port."
Raul understood the plain; but it struck him as hopeless. It seemed
impossible that Ghita could be permitted to quit the ship without a
hundred eyes watching her movements, and, though it was dark, it was far
from being sufficiently so to suppose it practicable for any one to join
her and not be seen. Yet this risk must be taken, or escape was out of
the question. An order given through the trumpet was encouraging; it
announced that the officer of the watch was employed at some duty that
must draw his attention another way. This was a great deal; few
presuming to look aside while this functionary was inviting their
attention in another direction. Raoul's brain was in a whirl. The two
Italians were at the height of their discussion; and, fortunately, the
clamor they made was at the loudest. Even the suppressed laughter of the
officers, on the outside of the canvas, was audible to _him_; though the
disputants could hear nothing but their own voices. Every knock of the
boat against the ship's side, every sound of the oars, as Carlo's foot
rattled them about, and the wash of the water, was audible. It seemed as
if all the interests of life--the future, the past, and the present,
together with the emotions of his whole heart, were compressed into that
single instant. Ignorant of what was expected, he asked Ithuel, in
French, the course he ought to take.
"Am I to fall I head-foremost into the water? What would you have of
me?" he whispered.
"Lie quiet, till I tell you to move. I'll make the signal, Captain Rule;
let the Eyetalians blaze away."
Raoul could not see the water, as he lay with his head fairly in the
port; and he had to trust entirely to the single sense of hearing.
Knock, knock, knock; the boat dropped slowly along the ship's side, as
if preparing to shove off. All this, Carlo Giuntotardi managed
exceedingly well. When he lay immediately beneath the main-channels, it
would not have been an easy thing to see his boat, even had there been
any one on the lookout. Here he held on; for he was not so lost to
external things as not fully to understand what was expected of him.
Perhaps he was less attended to by those on deck, from the circumstance
that no one believed him capable of so much worldly care.
"Is everything safe for a movement, inboard?" whispered Ithuel.
Raoul raised his head and looked about him. That a group was collected
around the state-room he understood by the movements, the low
conversation, and the suppressed laughter; still, no one seemed to be
paying any attention to himself. As he had not spoken for some time,
however, he thought it might be well to let his voice be heard; and
taking care that it should sound well within the port, he made one of
the light objections to the vice-governatore's theory, that he had urged
at the commencement of the controversy. This was little heeded, as he
expected; but it served to make those without know that he was in his
prison, and might prevent an untimely discovery. Everything else seemed
propitious; and lying down again at his length, his face came within a
few inches of Ithuel's.
"All safe," he whispered; "what would you have me do?"
"Nothing, but shove yourself ahead carefully, by means of your feet."
This Raoul did; at first, as it might be, inch by inch, until Ithuel put
the end of a rope into his hands, telling him it was well fast to the
channel above. The rope rendered the rest easy; the only danger now
being of too much precipitation. Nothing would have been easier than for
Raoul to drag his body out at the port, and to drop into the boat, but,
to escape, it was still necessary to avoid observation. The ship was
quite half a league from the point of Campanella, and directly abreast
of it; and there was no security to the fugitives unless they got some
distance the start of any pursuers. This consideration induced the
utmost caution on the part of Ithuel; nor was it entirely lost on his
friend. By this time, however, Raoul found he was so completely master
of his movements as to be able to swing his legs out of the port by a
very trifling effort; then the descent into the boat would be the
easiest thing imaginable. But a pressure from the hand of Ithuel
"Wait a little," whispered the latter, "till the Eyetalians are at it,
cat and dog fashion."
The discussion was now so loud and warm, that it was not necessary to
lose much time. Ithuel gave the signal, and Raoul dragged his head and
shoulders up by his arms, while he placed his feet against the gun; the
next moment, he was hanging perpendicularly beneath the main-chains. To
drop lightly and noiselessly into the boat, took but a second. When his
feet touched a thwart, he found that the American was there before him.
The latter dragged him down to his side, and the two lay concealed in
the bottom of the yawl, with a cloak of Ghita's thrown over their
persons. Carlo Giuntotardi was accustomed to the management of a craft
like that in which he now found himself, and simply releasing his
boat-hook from one of the chains, the ship passed slowly ahead, leaving
him, in about a minute, fairly in her wake, a hundred feet astern.
So far, everything had succeeded surprisingly. The night was so dark as
to embolden the two fugitives now to rise, and take their seats on the
thwarts; though all this was done with exceeding caution, and without
the least noise. The oars were soon out, Carlo took the tiller, and a
feeling of exultation glowed at the heart of Raoul, as he bent to his
ashen implement, and felt the boat quiver with the impulse.
"Take it coolly, Captain Rule," said Ithuel in a low voice; "it's a long
pull, and we are still within ear-shot of the frigate. In five minutes
more we shall be dropped so far as to be beyond sight; then we may pull
directly out to sea, if we wish."
Just then the bell of the Proserpine struck four; the signal it was
eight o'clock. Immediately after, the watch was called, and a stir
succeeded in the ship.
"They only turn the hands up," said Raoul, who perceived that his
companion paused, like one uneasy.
"That is an uncommon movement for shifting the watch! What is _that_?"
It was clearly the overhauling of tackles; the plash of a boat, as it
struck the water, followed.
"Our dangers and delights are near allies;
From the same stem the rose and prickle rise."
It has been seen that a generous sympathy had taken place of hostile
feeling, as respects Raoul, in the minds of most on board the
Proserpine. Under the influence of this sentiment, an order had been
passed through the sentries, not to molest their prisoner by too
frequent or unnecessary an examination of the state-room. With a view to
a proper regard to both delicacy and watchfulness, however, Winchester
had directed that the angle of the canvas nearest the cabin-door lantern
should be opened a few inches, and that the sentinel should look in
every half-hour; or as often as the ship's bell told the progress of
time. The object was simply to be certain that the prisoner was in his
room, and that he was making no attempt on his own life; a step that had
been particularly apprehended previously to the respite. Now, the whole
of the dispute between the two Italians, and that which had passed
beneath the ship's channels, did not occupy more than six or seven
minutes; and the little cluster of officers was still gaining recruits,
when Raoul was fairly in the yawl of his own lugger. At this moment the
ship's bell struck the hour of eight. The marine advanced, with the
respect of a subordinate, but with the steadiness of a man on post, to
examine the state of the room. Although the gentlemen believed this
caution unnecessary, the loud voices of Andrea and Vito Viti being of
themselves a sort of guarantee that the prisoner was in his cage, they
gave way to a man, fully understanding that a sentinel was never to be
resisted. The canvas was opened a few inches, the light of the lantern
at the cabin-door shot in, and there sat the vice-governatore and the
podesta, gesticulating and staring into each other's faces, still in hot
dispute; but the place of Raoul Yvard was empty!
Yelverton happened to look into the room with the sentinel. He was a
young man of strong powers of perception, with all the phrenological
bumps that, are necessary to the character, and he saw, at a glance,
that the bird had flown. The first impression was, that the prisoner had
thrown himself into the sea, and he rushed on deck without speaking to
those around him, made a hurried statement to the officer of the watch,
and had a quarter-boat in the water in a surprisingly short time. His
astonished companions below were less precipitate, though the material
fact was soon known to them. Griffin gave a hasty order, and the canvas
bulkhead came down, as it might be, at a single jerk, leaving the two
disputants in full view, utterly unconscious of the escape of their late
companion, sputtering and gesticulating furiously.
"Halloo! vice-govenatore," cried Griffin, abruptly, for he saw that the
moment was not one for ceremony; "what have you done with the
Frenchman?--where is Raoul Yvard?"
"Il Signor Sir Smees? Monsieur Yvard, if you will? Neighbor Vito, what,
indeed, has become of the man who so lately sat _there_?"
"Cospetto!--according to your doctrine, Signor Andrea, there never was a
man there at all--only the imagination of one; it is not surprising that
such a being should be missed. But I protest against any inferences
being drawn from this accident. All Frenchmen are flighty and easily
carried away, and now that they are no longer ballasted by religion,
they are so many moral feathers. No, no--let a man of respectable
information, of sound principles, and a love for the saints, with a
good, substantial body, like myself, vanish only once, and then I may
confess, it will tell in favor of your logic, vice-governatore."
"An obstinate man, neighbor Vito, is a type of the imperfections that
"Your pardon, Signor Barrofaldi," interrupted Griffin, "this is, not a
moment for philosophical theories, but for us seamen to do our duty.
What has become of Raoul Yvard--your Sir Smees?"
"Signor Tenente, as I hoped to be saved, I have not the smallest idea!
There he was a minute or two since, seated by that cannon, apparently an
attentive and much edified auditor of a discussion we were holding on
the celebrated theory of a certain bishop of your own country; which
theory, rightly considered--mind, I say _rightly considered_--neighbor
Vito; for the view you have taken of this matter is----"
"Enough of this, for the present, Signori"--added Griffin. "The
Frenchman was in this place when you came here?"
"He was, Signor Tenente, and seemed greatly to enjoy the discussion in
"And you have not seen him quit you through the canvas, or the port?"
"Not I, on my honor; I did suppose him too much entertained to leave
"Ah! Sir Smees has just vanished into the imagination," growled the
podesta, "which is going home to the great logical family of which he is
an ideal member! There being no lugger, no corsair, no sea, and no
frigate, it seems to me that we are all making a stir about nothing."
Griffin did not stop to question further. He was quickly on deck, where
he found Cuffe, who had just been brought out of his cabin by a
"What the d--l is the meaning of all this, gentlemen?" demanded the
latter, in a tone which a commander so naturally assumes when things go
wrong. "Whoever has suffered the prisoner to escape may expect to hear
from the Admiral directly, on the subject."
"He is not in his state-room, sir," answered Griffin, "and I directed
the boatswain to pipe away all the boats' crews, as I came up
As this was said, boat after boat was falling, and, in two or three
minutes, no less than five were in the water, including that in which
Yelverton was already rowing round the ship to catch the presumed
swimmer, or drowning man.
"The Frenchman is gone, sir," said Winchester, "and he must have passed
out of the port. I have sent one of the gentlemen to examine if he is
not stowed away about the chains."
"Where is the boat of the old Italian and his niece?"
A pause succeeded this question, and light broke in upon all at the same
"That yawl _was_ alongside," cried Griffin--"no one was in her, however,
but Giuntotardi and the girl."
"Beg your pardon, sir," said a young foretop-man, who had just descended
the rigging--"I saw the boat from aloft, sir, and it hung some time,
sir, under the starboard main-chains. It was so dark, I couldn't fairly
make it out; but summat seemed to be passed into it, from a port. I
didn't like the look of the thing, and so our captain just told me to
come on deck, and report it, sir."
"Send Ithuel Bolt here, Mr. Winchester--bear a hand, sir, and let us
have a look at that gentleman."
It is needless to say that the call was unanswered; and then all on
board began to understand the mode of escape. Officers rushed into the
several boats, and no less than five different parties commenced the
pursuit. At the same time the ship hoisted a lantern, as a signal for
the boats to rally to.
It has been said that the Proserpine, when this incident occurred, was
off the point of the Campanella, distance about half a marine league.
The wind was light at east, or was what is called the land breeze, and
the vessel had about three knots' way on her. The headland was nearly
abeam, and she was looking up through the pass which separates Capri
from the main, hauling round into the Bay of Naples, intending to anchor
in the berth she had left the previous day. The night was too dark to
permit an object small as a boat to be seen at any distance, but the
black mass of Capri was plainly visible in its outlines, towering into
the air near two thousand feet; while the formation of the coast on the
other side might be traced with tolerable certainty and distinctness.
Such was the state of things when the five boats mentioned quitted
Yelverton had acted as if a man were overboard; or, he had not waited
for orders. While pulling round the ship alone, he caught sight, though
very dimly, of the yawl, as it moved in toward the land; and, without
communicating with any on board, the truth flashed on his mind also, and
he gave chase. When the other boats were ready, the two that were on the
outside of the ship pulled off to seaward a short distance, to look
about them in that direction; while the two others, hearing the oars of
the light gig in which Yelverton was glancing ahead, followed the sound,
under the impression that they were in pursuit of the yawl. Such was the
state of things at the commencement of an exceedingly vigorous and
As Raoul and Ithuel had been at work, while time was lost in doubt in
and around the ship, they had got about three hundred yards the start of
even Yelverton. Their boat pulled unusually well; and being intended for
only two oars, it might be deemed full manned, with two as vigorous
hands in it as those it had. Still, it was not a match for the second
gig, and the four chosen men who composed its crew, which was the boat
taken by Yelverton, in the hurry of the moment. In a pull of a mile and
a half, the yawl was certain to be overtaken; and the practiced ears of
Raoul soon assured him of the fact. His own oars were muffled. He
determined to profit: by the circumstance, and turn aside, in the hope
that his fleet pursuers would pass him unseen. A sheer was accordingly
given to the boat, and instead of pulling directly toward the land the
fugitives inclined to the westward; the sea appearing the most obscure
in that direction, on account of the proximity of Capri, This artifice
was completely successful. Yelverton was so eager in the chase, that he
kept his eyes riveted before him, fancying from time to time that he saw
the boat ahead, and he passed within a hundred and fifty yards of the
yawl, without in the least suspecting her vicinity. Raoul and Ithuel
ceased rowing, to permit this exchange of position, and the former had a
few sarcastic remarks on the stupidity of his enemies, as some relief to
the feelings of the moment. None of the English had muffled oars. On the
contrary, the sounds of the regular man-of-war jerks were quite audible
in every direction; but so familiar were they to the ears of the
Proserpines, that the crews of the two boats that came next after
Yelverton actually followed the sounds of his oars, under the belief
that they were in the wake of the fugitives. In this manner, then, Raoul
suffered three of the five boats to pass ahead of him. The remaining two
were so distant as not to be heard; and when those in advance were
sufficiently distant, he and Ithuel followed them, with a leisurely
stroke, reserving themselves for any emergency that might occur.
It was a fair race between the gig and the two cutters that pursued her.
The last had the sounds of the former's oars in the ears of their crews
to urge them to exertion, it being supposed they came from the strokes
of the pursued; while Yelverton was burning with the desire to outstrip
those who followed, and to secure the prize for himself. This made easy
work for those in the yawl, which was soon left more than a cable's
"One would think, Ghita," said Raoul, laughing, though he had the
precaution to speak in an undertone--"one would think that your old
friends, the vice-governatore and the podesta, commanded the boats
in-shore of us, were it not known that they are this very moment
quarrelling about the fact whether there is such a place as Elba on this
great planet of ours or not."
"Ah! Raoul, remember the last dreadful eight-and-forty hours I do not
stop to trifle until we are once more fairly beyond the power of
"_Peste!_ I shall be obliged to own, hereafter, that there is some
generosity in an Englishman. I cannot deny their treatment, and yet I
had rather it had been more ferocious."
"This is an unkind feeling; you should strive to tear it from your
"It's a great deal to allow to an Englishman, Captain Rule, to allow him
gineros'ty," interrupted Ithuel. "They're a fierce race, and fatten on
"_Mais, bon_ Etooelle, your back has escaped this time; you ought to be
"They're short-handed, and didn't like to cripple a top-man," answered
he of the Granite State, unwilling to concede anything to liberal or
just sentiments. "Had the ship's complement been full, they wouldn't
have left as much skin on my back as would cover the smallest-sized
pincushion. I owe 'em no thanks, therefore."
"_Bien; quant a moi_, I shall speak well of the bridge which carries me
over," said Raoul. "Monsieur Cuffe has given me good food, good wine,
good words, a good stateroom, a good bed, and a most timely reprieve."
"Is not your heart grateful to God for the last, dear Raoul?" asked
Ghita, in a voice so gentle and tender that the young man could have
bowed down and worshipped her.
After a pause, however, he answered, as if intentionally to avoid the
question by levity.
"I forgot the philosophy, too," he said. "_That_ was no small part of
the good cheer. _Ciel!_ it was worth some risk to have the advantage of
attending such a school. Did you understand the matter in dispute
between the two Italians, brave Etooelle?"
"I heerd their _Eye_-talian jabber," answered Ithuel; "but supposed it
was all about saints' days and eating fish. No reasonable man makes so
much noise when he is talking sense."
"_Pardie_--it was _philosophy!_ They laugh at us French for living by
the rules of reason rather than those of prejudice; and then to hear
what _they_ call philosophy! You would scarce think it, Ghita,"
continued Raoul, who was now light of heart, and full of the scene he
had so lately witnessed--"you would hardly think it, Ghita, but Signor
Andrea, sensible and learned as he is, maintained that it was not folly
to believe in a philosophy which teaches that nothing we see or do
actually exists, but that everything was mere seeming. In short, that we
live in an imaginary world, with imaginary people in it; float on an
imaginary sea, and cruise in imaginary ships."
"And was all that noise about an idee, Captain Rule?"
"_Si_--but men will quarrel about an idea--an imaginary thing, Etooelle
as stoutly as about substantials. Hist! They will chase imaginary
things, too, as are the boats ahead of us at this moment."
"There are others following us," observed Carlo Giuntotardi, who was
more alive to surrounding objects than common; and who, from his
habitual silence, often heard that which escaped the senses of others.
"I have noticed the sound of their oars some time."
This produced a pause, and even a cessation in the rowing, in order that
the two seamen might listen. Sure enough, the sound of oars was audible
outside, as well as in shore, leaving no doubt that some pursuers were
still behind them. This was bringing the fugitives between two fires, as
it might be; and Ithuel proposed pulling off at right angles to the
course again, in order to get into the rear of the whole party. But to
this Raoul objected. He thought the boats astern were still so distant
as to enable them to reach the shore in time to escape. Once on the
rocks, there could be little danger of being overtaken in the darkness.
Still, as it was a first object with Raoul to rejoin his lugger as soon
as possible, after landing Ghita, he did not wish to place his boat in
any situation of much risk. This induced some deliberation; and it was
finally determined to take a middle course, by steering into the pass
between Capri and Campanella, in the expectation that when the leading
English boats reached the point of the latter, they would abandon the
pursuit as hopeless and return to the ship.
"We can land you, dearest Ghita, at the Marina Grande of Sorrento; then
your walk to St. Agata will be neither long nor painful."
"Do not mind me, Raoul; put me on the land at the nearest place, and go
you to your vessel. God has relieved you from this great jeopardy, and
your duty is to strive to act as it is evident he intends you to do. As
for me, leagues will be light, if I can only be satisfied that thou art
"Angel! Thou never thinkest of self! But not afoot this side of Sorrento
will I quit thee. We can pull thither in an hour or two; then I shall
feel that I have done a duty. Once ashore, Etooelle and I can set our
little sail, and will run out to sea between the two islands. No fear
but what we can do that, with this land breeze; after which, a few
rockets burned will tell us where to find le Feu-Follet."
Ghita again remonstrated, but in vain. Raoul persisted, and she was
obliged to submit. The conversation now ceased; the two men plying the
oars diligently, and to good effect. Occasionally they ceased, and
listened to the sounds of the oars in the frigate's boats, all which
were evidently collecting in the vicinity of the point or cape. By this
time the yawl had the extremity of the land abeam, and it soon passed
so far into the Bay as to bring most if not all the pursuers astern. In
the darkness, with no other guide than the sounds mentioned, and with so
many pursuers, there was some uncertainty, of course, as to the position
of all the boats; but there was little doubt that most of them were now
somewhere in the immediate vicinity of Campanella. As Raoul gave this
point a good berth, and his own progress was noiseless, this was
bringing himself and companions, after their recent dangers, into
More than an hour of steady rowing followed, daring which time the yawl
was making swift way toward the Marina Grande of Sorrento. After passing
Massa, Raoul felt no further uneasiness, and he requested Carlo
Giuntotardi to sheer in toward the land, where less resistance from the
breeze was met with, and where it was also easier to know the precise
position. Apprehension of the boats now ceased, though Ithuel fancied,
from time to time, that he heard smothered sounds, like those of oars
imperfectly muffled. Raoul laughed at his conceits and apprehensions,
and, to confess the truth, he became negligent of his duty again, in the
soothing delight of finding himself, once more free, in all but heart,
in the company of Ghita. In this manner the yawl moved ahead, though
with materially diminished speed, until, by the formation of the
heights, and the appearance of the lamps and candles on the piano, Ghita
knew that they were drawing quite near to the indentation of the coast
on which is situated the town of Sorrento.
"As soon as my uncle and myself have landed at the Marina Grande,
Raoul," said Ghita, "thou and the American will be certain to seek thy
lugger; then thou promisest to quit the coast?"
"Why ask promises of one that thou dost not sufficiently respect to
think he will keep them?"
"I do not deserve this, Raoul; between thee and me, no promise has ever
"It is not easy to break vows with one who will neither given nor
accept them. I cannot boast of keeping such idle faith as this! Go with
me before some priest, Ghita, ask all that man ever has or can swear to,
and then thou shalt see how a sailor can be true to his vow."
"And why before a priest? Thou know'st, Raoul, that, in thine eyes, all
the offices of the church are mummery; that nothing is more sacred with
thee, for being sworn to at the altar of God, and with one of his holy