Part 9 out of 9
The breathing time gave both parties a desirable opportunity for
ascertaining in what positions they were left. In the whole, the French
had lost the services of eleven men; all, with the exception of Ithuel's
four, in the ruin. The loss of the English amounted to thirty-three,
including several officers. The master's mate who had commanded the
crippled cutter lay over its stern, flat on his back, with no less than
five musket-balls through his chest. His passage into another state of
existence had been sudden as the flight of the electric spark. Of his
late companions, several were dead also; though most were still enduring
the pain of fractured bones and bruised nerves. The boat itself slowly
touched the rocks, raising fresh cries among the wounded by the agony
they endured from the shocks of rising and falling under the
Raoul was too deliberate, and too much collected, not to feel his
advantage. Anxious to keep his means of further defence in the best
condition, he directed all the guns to cease, and the damages to be
repaired. Then he went with a party toward the boat that had fallen into
his hands. To encumber himself with prisoners of any sort, in his actual
situation, would have been a capital mistake, but to do this with
wounded men would have been an act of folly. The boat had tourniquets
and other similar appliances in it, and he directed some of the French
to use them on those that wanted them most. He also supplied the parched
lips of the sufferers with water; when, conceiving that his duty was
performed, he gave an order to haul the boat on one side, and to shove
it forcibly out of the line of any coming conflict.
"Halloo, Captain Rule!" called out Ithuel, "you are wrong there. Let the
boat lie where it is, and it will answer a better turn than another
breastwork. The English will scarcely fire through their own wounded."
The look that Raoul cast toward his auxiliary was fierce--even
indignant; but, disregarding the advice, he motioned for his own men to
obey the order he had already given them. Then, as if mindful of
Ithuel's importance, his late timely succor, and the necessity of not
offending him, he walked to the side of the islet nearest to the
felucca, and spoke courteously and cheerfully to him whose advice he had
just treated with indifference, if not with disdain. This was not
hypocrisy, but a prudent adaptation of his means to his circumstances.
"_Bon, brave Etooelle_," he said, "your bags of bullets were welcome
friends, and they arrived at the right moment."
"Why, Captain Rule, in the Granite country we are never wasteful of our
means. You can always wait for the white of Englishmen's eyes in these
affairs. They're spiteful devils, on the whull, and seem to be
near-sighted to a man. They came so clus' at Bunker Hill, our folks--"
"_Bon_," repeated Raoul, feeling no wish to hear a thrice-told tale gone
through again, Bunker Hill invariably placing Ithuel on a great horse in
the way of bragging; for he not only imagined that great victory a New
England triumph, as in fact it was, but he was much disposed to
encourage the opinion that it was in a great measure "granite." "_Bon_,"
interrupted Raoul--"Bunkair was good;--_mais, les Roches aux Sirens_ is
bettair. If you have more_ de ces bulles_ load _encore_.
"What think you of this, Captain Rule?" asked the other, pointing up at
a little vane that began to flutter at the head of one of his masts.
"Here is the west wind, and an opportunity offers to be off. Let us take
wit, and run!"
Raoul started, and gazed at the heavens, the vane, and the surface of
the sea; the latter beginning to show a slightly ruffled surf ace. Then
his eye wandered toward Ghita. The girl had risen from her knees, and
her eyes followed his every movement. When they met his, with a sweet,
imploring smile, she pointed upward, as if beseeching him to pay the
debt of gratitude he owed to that dread Being who had as yet borne him
unharmed through the fray. He understood her meaning, kissed his hand in
affectionate gallantry, and turned toward Ithuel, to pursue the
"It is too soon," he said. "We are impregnable here, and the wind is
still too light. An hour hence, and we will all go together."
Ithuel grumbled; but his commander heeded it not. The judgment of the
latter had decided right. The boats were rallying within musket-shot,
indifferent to the danger, and it was evident the attack was to be
renewed. To have attempted to escape at such an instant would have been
throwing away the great advantage of the ruins, and might have
endangered all, without benefiting any one.
In point of fact, Sir Frederick Dashwood had become keenly alive to a
sense of the disgrace he was likely to incur, in the event of the ships'
getting round, and robbing him of the credit of capturing the lugger.
The usually apathetic nature of this young man was thoroughly aroused,
and, like all who are difficult to excite, he became respectable when
his energies were awakened. The boats were already collected; all the
disabled were put into one of them, and ordered off to the ships; and
with those that remained arrangements were made to renew the attempt.
It was fortunate that Cuffe had sent an expedition so strong-handed;
for notwithstanding the loss, the three launches and the cutters could
still muster double the number of the French.
This time, Sir Frederick was willing to listen to counsel. Winchester,
McBean, Griffin, and Strand united in advising that the boats should
separate, and make their assaults from different points. This would
prevent the possibility of a recurrence of so concentrated a disaster as
that which had already befallen them. To the Scotchman was assigned the
felucca; the Terpsichore's launch was to assail the lugger; while the
two cutters and the heavier boat of the Proserpine were to dash in at
the ruins. Sir Frederick still remained in his own gig, to push for the
point that might seem to require his presence.
McBean was the first to fire on this occasion. He threw a round-shot
from his carronade into the felucca, aimed by himself, and directed with
care. It fell upon one of Ithuel's carronades, broke it into a dozen
pieces, knocked down no less than three men, besides injuring others
less severely, and actually drove the gun it struck off its slide into
the felucca's hold. This was a rough commencement, and the result being
seen by all hands it greatly encouraged the assailants. Three hearty
English cheers followed, and Ithuel was so far disconcerted as to fire
the remaining gun, loaded as before with bullets, at least two minutes
too soon. The sea was thrown into a foam, but not a man in the boats was
hurt. Then the fire became general, gun after gun exploding; the
rattling of small-arms filling up the pauses. The boats came on with
steady, strong pulls of the oar, and this too with an impunity that
often happens, though difficult to be explained. Several shot fell among
the ruins, knocking the stones about, and for a minute or two all the
injury was on one side. But Pintard and Ithuel felt the security
conferred by the rocks in their front, and each endeavored to give one
effective discharge. Ithuel succeeded the best He repaid McBean in his
own coin, sending a grist of bullets into the bows of his launch, which
admonished that prudent officer of the necessity of shearing toward the
islet of the ruins. Pintard's assailant was brought up by the barrier in
front, and turned aside also. Then, in the midst of a cloud of smoke,
shouts, curses, cries, shrieks, orders, and the roar of guns, all the
English precipitated themselves in a body on the principal post, and
became the masters of the battery in the twinkling of an eye.
"Thus doth the ever-changing course of thing!
Run a perpetual circle, ever turning;
And that same day, that highest glory brings,
Brings us to the point of back returning."
In scenes like that just related, it is not easy to collect details. All
that was ever known, beyond the impetuous manner of the assault in which
the ruins were carried, was in the dire result. Half the French on the
islet were weltering in their blood, and the surface of the rocks was
well sprinkled with enemies who had not been more fortunate. It had been
a desperate onset, in which mortification increased natural intrepidity,
which had been nobly resisted, but in which numbers had necessarily
prevailed. Among the English slain was Sir Frederick Dashwood himself;
he lay about a yard from his own gig, with a ball directly through his
head. Griffin was seriously hurt, but Clinch was untouched, on the low
rampart, waving an English Jack--after having hauled down a similar
emblem of the French. His boat had first touched the rock, her crew had
first reached the ruin, and, of all in her, he himself had taken the
lead. Desperately had he contended for Jane and a commission, and this
time Providence appeared to smile on his efforts. As for Raoul, he lay
in front of his own rampart, having rushed forward to meet the party of
Clinch, and had actually crossed swords with his late prisoner, when a
musket-ball, fired by the hands of McBean, traversed his body.
"_Courage, mes braves! en avant!_" he was heard to shout, as he leaped
the low wall to repel the invaders--and when he lay on the hard rock,
his voice was still strong enough to make itself heard,
crying--"_Lieutenant--nom de Dieu--sauve mon Feu-Follet!"_
It is probable that Pintard would not have stirred, even at this order,
had not the English ships been seen, at that instant, coming round
Campanella, with a leading westerly wind. The flap of canvas was audible
near by, too, and turning, he saw the Michael falling off under her
foresail, and already gathering steerage-way. Not a soul was visible on
her decks, Ithuel, who steered, lying so close as to be hid by her
waist-cloths. The hawsers of the lugger were cut, and le Feu-Follet
started back like an affrighted steed. It was only to let go the brails,
and her foresail fell. Light, and feeling the breeze, which now came in
strong puffs, she shot out of the little bay, and wore short round on
her keel. Two or three of the English boats attempted to follow, but it
was idle. Winchester, who now commanded, recalled them, saying that it
remained for the ships to perform their task. The day had been too
bloody, indeed, to think of more than securing the present success, and
of attending to the hurt.
Leaving the party on the islets for a moment, we will follow the two
vessels in their attempt to escape. Pintard and his companions abandoned
Raoul with heavy hearts, but they plainly saw him prostrated on the
rocks, and by the hand placed on his side understood the desperate
nature of his wound. Like him, they felt some such interest as one
entertains for a beloved mistress in the fate of the lugger, and the
words--"_sauve mon Feu-Follet!_" were ringing in their ears.
As soon as the lugger got round, she set her after-sail, and then she
began to glide through the water with the usual knife-like parting of
the element under her bows. The course she steered took her directly out
of the bay, seeming to lead across the forefoots of the English ships.
Ithuel did not imitate this manoeuvre. He kept more away in the line for
Paestum, rightly enough believing that, in the greedy desire to overtake
the lugger, his own movement would pass unheeded. The owner of this
craft was still on board the Terpsichore; but every remonstrance, and
all the requests he made that his own vessel might be followed and
captured, were utterly unheeded by the lieutenant now in command. To
him, as to all others in authority, there seemed to be but one thing
desirable, and that was to secure the lugger. Of course none yet knew of
the fatal character of the struggle on the rocks, or of the death of the
English leader; though the nature of the result was sufficiently
understood by seeing the English Jack flying among the ruins, and the
two vessels under weigh, endeavoring to escape.
The season was now so far advanced as to render the old stability of the
breezes a little uncertain. The zephyr had come early, and it had come
fresh; but there were symptoms of a sirocco about the barometer and in
the atmosphere. This rendered all in the ships eager to secure their
prize before a shift of wind should come. Now that there were three fast
vessels in chase, none doubted of the final result; and Cuffe paced the
quarter-deck of the Proserpine, rubbing his hands with delight, as he
regarded all the propitious signs of the times.
The Ringdove was ordered by signal to haul up south-southwest, or close
on a wind, with a view to make such an offing as would prevent the
possibility of the lugger's getting outside of the ships, and gaining
the wind of them; an achievement Cuffe thought she might very well be
enabled to accomplish, could she once fairly come by the wind under
circumstances that would prevent any of his vessels from bringing her
under their guns. The Terpsichore was directed to run well into the bay,
to see that a similar artifice was not practised in that direction;
while the Proserpine shaped her own course at the angle that would
intercept the chase, should the latter continue to stand on.
It was an easy thing for the French to set all their canvas, the hamper
of a lugger being so simple. This was soon done; and Pintard watched the
result with intense interest, well knowing that everything now depended
on heels, and ignorant what might be the effect of her present trim on
the sailing of his beautiful craft. Luckily some attention had been paid
to her lines, in striking in the ballast again; and it was soon found
that the vessel was likely to behave well. Pintard thought her so light
as to be tender; but, not daring to haul up high enough to prove her in
that way, it remained a matter of opinion only. It was enough for him
that she lay so far to the west of south as to promise to clear the
point of Piane, and that she skimmed along the water at a rate that bade
fair to distance all three of her pursuers. Anxious to get an offing,
however, which would allow him to alter his course at night in more
directions than one, he kept luffing, as the wind favored, so as
sensibly to edge off the land.
As the two chases commenced their flight quite a mile to the southward
of the ships, having that much the start of them on account of the
position of the rocks, it rendered them both tolerably free from all
danger of shot at the beginning of the race. The course steered by
Ithuel soon placed him beyond their reach altogether; and Cuffe knew
that little would be gained, while much might be lost, in making any
attempt of this sort on the lugger. Consequently not a gun was fired;
but the result was thrown fairly on the canvas and on the sailing of the
Such was the state of things at the beginning of this chase. The wind
freshened fast, and soon blew a strong breeze; one that drove the ships
ahead under clouds of studding-sails and staysails--the latter being
much used at that period--at the rate of quite ten knots the hour. But
neither gained on le Feu-Follet. The course was by no means favorable to
her, the wind being well on her quarter; still, she rather gained than
was gained on. All four vessels went off rapidly to the southward, as a
matter of course; nor was it long before they were to leeward of the
felucca, which had both shortened sail and hauled up to the eastward, as
soon as Ithuel felt satisfied he was not to be followed. After a
sufficient time had elapsed, the Holy Michael tacked, and came out of
the bay, crossing the wake of the Terpsichore just beyond gunshot. Of
course, this manoeuvre was seen from the frigate; and the padrone of the
felucca tore his hair, threw himself on the quarter-deck, and played
many other desperate antics, in the indulgence of his despair, or to
excite sympathy: but all in vain; the lieutenant was obstinate, refusing
to alter tack or sheet to chase a miserable felucca, with so glorious an
object in full view before him as the celebrated lugger of Raoul Yvard.
As a matter of course, Ithuel passed out to sea unmolested; and it may
as well be said here that in due time he reached Marseilles in safety,
where the felucca was sold, and the Granite-seaman disappeared for a
season. There will be occasion to speak of him only once again in
The trial of speed must soon have satisfied Pintard that he had little
to apprehend from his pursuers, even with the breeze there was. But
circumstances favored the lugger. The wind hauled materially to the
northward, and before the sun set it enabled the French to run off
wing-and-wing, still edging from the land. It now began to blow so
heavily as to compel the ships to reduce their light canvas. Some time
before the night set in, both frigates and the sloop were under
maintopgallant-sails only, with topmast and lower studding-sails on each
side. Le Feu-Follet made no change. Her jigger had been taken in, as
soon as she kept dead away, and then she dashed ahead, under her two
enormous lugs, confident in their powers of endurance. The night was not
very dark; but it promised to carry her beyond the vision of her
pursuers even before eight bells, did the present difference in
A stern chase is proverbially a long chase. For one fast vessel to
outsail another a single mile in an hour, is a great superiority; and
even in such circumstances, many hours must elapse ere one loses sight
of the other by day. The three English ships held way together
surprisingly, the Proserpine leading a little; while le Feu-Follet might
possibly have found herself, at the end of a six hours' chase, some four
miles in advance of her, three of which she had gained since keeping
off, wing-and-wing. The lightness of the little craft essentially aided
her. The canvas had less weight to drag after it; and Pintard observed
that the hull seemed to skim the waves, as soon as the sharp stem had
divided them, and the water took the bearings of the vessel. Hour after
hour did he sit on the bowsprit, watching her progress; a crest of foam
scarce appearing ahead, before it was glittering under the lugger's
bottom. Occasionally a pursuing sea cast the stern upward, as if about
to throw it in advance of the bows; but le Feu-Follet was too much
accustomed to this treatment to be disturbed, and she ever rose on the
billow, like a bubble, and then the glancing arrow scarce surpassed the
speed with which she hastened forward, as if to recover lost time.
Cuffe did not quit the deck until the bell struck two, in the middle
watch. This made it one o'clock. Yelverton and the master kept the
watches between them, but the captain was always near with his advice
"That craft seems faster when she gets her sails wing-and-wing than she
is even close-hauled, it seems to me, Yelverton," observed Cuffe, after
taking a long look at the chase with a night-glass; "I begin to be
afraid we shall lose her. Neither of the other ships does anything to
help us. Here we are all three, dead in her wake, following each other
like so many old maids going to church of a Sunday morning."
"It _would_ have been better, Captain Cuffe, had the Ringdove kept more
to the westward, and the frigate further east. Fast as the lugger is
with her wings spread, she's faster with them jammed up on a wind. I
expect every moment to find her sheering off to the westward, and
gradually getting us in _her_ wake _on_ a wind. I fear we should find
that worse work than even this, sir."
"I would not lose her now, for a thousand pounds! I do not see what the
d--l Dashwood was about, that he did not secure her when he got
possession of the rocks. I shall rattle him down a little, as soon as
Cuffe would have been shocked had he known that the body of Sir
Frederick Dashwood was, just as that moment, going through the
melancholy process of being carried on board a two-decker, up at Naples,
the captain of which was his kinsman. But he did not know it, nor did he
learn his death for more than a week; or after the body had
"Take the glass, Yelverton, and look at her. To me she grows very
dim--she must be leaving us fast. Be careful to note if there are any
signs of an intention to sheer to the westward."
"That can hardly be done without jibing her forward lug--hang me,
Captain Cuffe, if I can see her at all. Ah! here she is, dead ahead as
before, but as dim as a ghost. I can barely make out her canvas--she is
still wing-and-wing, d--n her, looking more like the spectre of a craft
than a real thing. I lost her in that yaw, sir--I wish you would try,
Captain Cuffe--do my best, I cannot find her again."
Cuffe did try, but without success. Once, indeed, he fancied he saw her,
but further examination satisfied him it was a mistake. So long had he
been gazing at the same object, that it was easy for the illusion to
pass before his mind's eye, of imagining a dim outline of the little
lugger flying away, like the scud of the heavens, wing-and-wing, ever
seeming to elude his observation. That night he dreamed of her, and
there were haply five minutes during which his wandering thoughts
actually portrayed the process of taking possession, and of manning
Previously to this, however, signals were made to the other ships,
ordering them to alter their courses, with a view to meet anticipated
changes in that of le Feu-Follet. Lyon was sent to the westward, the
Terpsichore a little easterly, while the Proserpine herself ventured so
far as to steer southwest, after two o'clock. But a sudden and violent
shift of wind came an hour before day. It was the expected--nay, the
announced--sirocco, and it brought the lugger to windward beyond all
dispute. The south breeze came strong from the first puff; and, while it
did not amount to a gale until the afternoon of the next day, it blew
heavily, in squalls, after the first hour.
When the day dawned, the three ships were out of sight of each other.
The Proserpine, which we shall accompany, as our old acquaintance, and
an actor in what is to succeed, was under double-reefed topsails, with
her head up as high as west-southwest, laboring along through the
troughs of the seas left by the late Tramontana. The weather was thick,
rain and drizzle coming in the squalls, and there were moments when the
water could not be seen a cable's-length from the ship; at no time was
the usual horizon fairly visible. In this manner the frigate struggled
ahead, Cuffe unwilling to abandon all hopes of success, and yet seeing
little prospect of its accomplishment. The lookouts were aloft, as
usual, but it was as much for form as for any great use they were likely
to be, since it was seldom a man could see further from the cross-trees
than he could from the deck.
The officers, as well as the men, had breakfasted. A species of sullen
discontent pervaded the ship, and the recent kind feelings toward Raoul
Yvard had nearly vanished in disappointment. Some began to grumble about
the chances of the other ships falling in with the lugger, while others
swore "that it mattered not who _saw_ her; _catch_ her none could, who
had not an illicit understanding with the Father of Lies. She was well
named the Jack-o'-Lantern; for Jack-o'-Lantern she was, and
Jack-o'-Lantern would she ever prove to be. As well might a false fire
be followed in a meadow, as such a craft at sea. They might think
themselves fortunate if the officers and-people sent against her in the
boats ever got back to their own wholesome ship again."
In the midst of such prognostics and complaints; the captain of the
foretop shouted the words "Sail ho!" The usual inquiry and answer
followed, and the officers got a glimpse of the object. The stranger was
distant half a league, and he was seen very indistinctly on account of
the haze; but seen he _was_.
"'Tis a xebec," growled the master, who was one of the grumblers of the
day--"a fellow with his hold crammed with a wine that would cover the
handsomest woman's face in Lunnun with wrinkles."
"By Jupiter Ammon!" Cuffe exclaimed, "'tis le Feu-Folly, or I do not
know an old acquaintance. Quartermaster, hand me the glass--not that,
the shorter glass is the best."
"Long or short, you'll never make _that_ out," muttered the master. "The
Folly has more folly about her than I give her credit for, if _we_ get
another look at her this summer."
"What do you make of him, Captain Cuffe?" Yelverton eagerly demanded.
"Just what I told you, sir--'tis the lugger--and--I cannot be
mistaken.--Aye, by Jove, she is coming down before it, wing-and-wing,
again! That's her play, just now, it would seem, and she does not appear
to have got enough of it yet."
An attentive look satisfied Yelverton that his commander was right. Even
the master had to confess his error, though he did it ungraciously and
with reluctance. It was the lugger, of a certainty, though so dimly seen
as to render it difficult at moments, to trace her outlines at all. She
was running in a line that would carry her astern of the frigate about a
mile, and she was rather more than thrice that distance to windward.
"She cannot see us," said Cuffe, thoughtfully, "Beyond a doubt she
thinks us to windward, and is endeavoring to get out of our
neighborhood. We must get round, gentlemen, and now is a favorable
moment. Tack ship, at once, Mr. Yelverton--I think she'll do it."
The experiment was made, and it succeeded. The Proserpine worked
beautifully, and Yelverton knew how to humor her to a nicety. In five
minutes the ship was round, with everything trimmed on the other
tack;--close-reefed mizzen, and double-reefed fore and maintop-sails--a
reefed mainsail, with other sails to suit. As she was kept a rap full,
or a little off, indeed, to prevent the lugger from slipping past, she
might have gone from five to six knots.
The next five minutes were intensely interesting to the people of the
Proserpine. The weather became thicker, and all traces of le Feu-Follet
were lost. Still, when last seen, she was wing-and-wing, flying rather
than sailing down toward their own track. By Cuffe's calculation, the
two vessels would nearly meet in less than a quarter of an hour, should
neither alter her course. Several guns were got ready, in preparation
for such a rencontre.
"Let the weather hold thick a few minutes longer, and we have her!"
cried Cuffe. "Mr. Yelverton, you must go down and see to those guns
yourself. Plump it right into her, if you're ordered to fire. The fellow
has no hamper, and stripping him must be a matter of pure accident. Make
it too hot for him on deck, and he'll have to give up, Raoul Yvard or
"There she is, sir!" shouted a midshipman from a cathead--for everybody
who dared had crowded forward to get an early look at the chase.
There she was, sure enough, wing-and-wing, as before, the dulness of
the lugger's lookouts has never been explained, as a matter of course;
but it was supposed, when all the circumstances came to be known, that
most of her people were asleep, to recover from the recent extraordinary
fatigue, and a night in which all hands had been, kept on deck in
readiness to make sail; the vessel having but some thirty souls in her.
At length the frigate was seen, the weather lighting, and it was not an
instant too soon. The two vessels, at that critical instant, were about
half a mile apart, le Feu-Follet bearing directly off the Proserpine's
weather-bow. In the twinkling of an eye, the former jibed; then she was
seen coming to the wind, losing sufficient ground in doing so to bring
her just in a range with the two weather chase-guns. Cuffe instantly
gave the order to open a fire.
"What the d--l has got into her?" exclaimed the captain; "she topples
like a mock mandarin; she used to be as stiff as a church! What can it
The master did not know, but we may say that the lugger was flying
light, too much so for the canvas she carried, for, in such heavy
weather, there was not time to shorten sail. She lurched heavily under
the sea that was now getting up, and, a squall striking her, her lee
guns were completely buried. Just at this moment the Proserpine belched
forth her flame and smoke. The shot could not be followed, and no one
knew where they struck. Four had been fired, when a squall succeeded
that shut in the chase, and of course the firing was suspended. So
severe was this momentary effort of the African gales, hot, drowsy, and
deadening as they are, that the Proserpine started her mizzentop-sail
sheets, and clewed up her main-course, to save the spar. But the tack
was instantly boarded again, and the topsail set. A gleam of sunshine
succeeded, but the lugger had disappeared!
The sun did not remain visible, and that faintly, more than a minute;
still, the eye could range several miles, for thrice that period. After
this the horizon became more limited, but no squall occurred for
quarter of an hour. When the lugger was missed, the Proserpine was
heading up within half a point of the spot at which she was supposed to
be. In a short time she drove past this point, perhaps a hundred fathoms
to leeward of it. Here she tacked, and, stretching off a sufficient
distance to the southward and westward, came round again, and, heading
up east-southeast, was thought to sweep along over the empty track. Not
a sign of the missing vessel was discovered. The sea had swallowed all,
lugger, people, and hamper. It was supposed that, owing to the fact that
so many light articles had been left on the rocks, nothing remained to
float. All had accompanied le Feu-Follet to the bottom. Of boats there
were none, these being at the islet of the ruins, and, if any seaman
swam off in the desperate attempt to save his life in the midst of the
cauldron of waters, he did not succeed, or was overlooked by the English
in their search. The latter, indeed, may have miscalculated their
distances, and not have passed within a cable's-length of the place
where the victims, if any such there were, still struggled for
Cuffe, and all around him, were forcibly struck with so unlooked-for and
so dire a calamity. The loss of a vessel, under such circumstances,
produces an effect like a sudden death among companions. It is a fate
all may meet with, and it induces reflection and sadness. Still, the
English did not give up the hope of rescuing some unfortunate wretch,
clinging to a spar, or supporting himself by supernatural efforts, for
several hours. At noon, however, the ship squared away and ran for
Naples before the wind, being drawn aside from her course by another
chase, in which she succeeded better, capturing a sloop-of-war, which
she carried in several days later.
The first act of Cuffe, on anchoring in the fleet, was to go on board
the Foudroyant, and report himself and his proceedings to the
rear-admiral. Nelson had heard nothing of the result, beyond what had
occurred at the islets, and the separation of the ships.
"Well, Cuffe," he said, reaching out his remaining hand kindly to his
old Agamemnon, as the other entered the cabin--"the fellow has got off,
after all! It has been a bad business altogether, but we must make the
best of it. Where do you fancy the lugger to be?"
Cuffe explained what had happened, and put into the admiral's hand an
official letter, explaining his recent success. With the last Nelson was
pleased--at the first surprised. After a long, thoughtful pause, he went
into the after-cabin, and returned, throwing a small, jack-like flag on
"As Lyon was cruising about," he said, "and his sloop was pitching her
catheads under, this thing was washed upon a spare anchor, where it
stuck. It's a queer flag. Can it have had any connection with
Cuffe looked, and he immediately recognized the little _ala e ala_ jack,
that the Italians had described to him in their many conversations. It
was the only vestige that was ever found of the Wing-and-Wing.
"How beautiful is sorrow, when 'tis drest
By virgin innocence! It makes
Felicity in others, seem deformed."
We must return to the rocks, and the melancholy scene they offered. Our
purposes will be answered, however, by advancing the time into the
evening, omitting many things that the reader can imagine without our
It is scarcely necessary to say that Andrea Barrofaldi and Vito Viti
took no part in the bloody transactions we have related. When all was
over, however, they drew near to the rocks, and, sitting in their boat,
contemplating the sad spectacle presented within the narrow compass of
the islet of the ruins, the following short dialogue occurred
"Vice-governatore," demanded the podesta, pointing to the place where
Sir Frederick lay, a motionless corpse, Raoul bleeding, and others were
writhing under their wounds--"do you call this reality, or is it a part
of that damnable doctrine which is enough to set the whole earth by the
ears, and to turn men into tigers and hawks?"
"I fear, neighbor Vito, this will only prove too true. I see the bodies
of Sir Dashwood and Sir Smees; and God knows how many more have this day
departed for the world of spirits."
"Leaving behind them only a world of shadows," muttered Vito Viti, even
that melancholy spectacle failing to draw his thoughts altogether from a
discussion that had now lasted near four-and-twenty hours. But the
moment was not propitious to argument, and the two Italians landed. This
was within half an hour after the struggle had ceased; and our
intentions are to advance the time to the moment mentioned in the
opening of this chapter.
We must give here, however, a rapid sketch of the proceedings that
narrowed down the view to that we intend shortly to lay before the
reader. As soon as there was leisure, Winchester made a survey of the
field of battle. He found many of his own men slain, and more wounded.
Of the French on the islet, quite half were hurt; but the mortal wound
received by their leader was the blow that all lamented. The surgeon
soon pronounced Raoul's case to be hopeless; and this declaration was
heard with regret even by generous enemies. The defence had been
desperate; it would have succeeded, had it been within the scope of
possibility for so few courageous men to repel double their numbers of
those who were equally brave. Both sides had fought for honor; and, when
this is the case, victory generally awaits the strongest.
As soon as it was perceived that all the ships were likely to be led
far to leeward in chase, the English officers felt the necessity of
acting for themselves. The medical men had been busy from the first, and
in the course of a couple of hours all had been done for the wounded
that present circumstances would allow. The amputations were few, and,
each vessel having sent a surgeon, these were all made, while the other
appliances had been successfully used in such cases as would be
benefited by them. The day was drawing near a close, and the distance
from the fleet was so great as to call for exertion.
As soon, therefore, as the uninjured men were refreshed and the wounded
cared for, the latter were put into the launches, in the best manner
they might be, and the cutters took them in tow. One had no sooner
received its melancholy freight, than it left the islets, on its way to
the hospital-ship of the fleet. The others succeeded, in turn; the
unhurt French willingly offering to assist in the performance of this
pious duty. At length but three boats remained. One was Sir Frederick's
gig, which Winchester had kept for his own particular use; another was
the yawl of Andrea Barrofaldi; and the third, the little craft in which
Carlo Giuntotardi had come from the shore. Of the French, no one
remained but the surgeon of the lugger, Raoul's steward and personal
attendant, and Raoul himself. If to these be added the two Italians and
their oarsmen, Carlo and his niece, with Winchester and his boat's crew,
we enumerate all who now remained at the rocks.
By this time the sun had sunk below the adjacent hills, and it was
necessary to decide on some course. Winchester consulted the surgeon as
to the expediency of removing his patient. Could it be done, it had
better be done soon.
"_Mon lieutenant_," answered this personage a little dryly, "_mon brave
capitaine_ has but a short time to live. He has entreated to be left
here, on the scene of his glory, and in the company of that female whom
he so well loved--_mais_--you are the victors"--shrugging his
shoulders--"and you will do your own pleasure."
Winchester colored and bit his lips. The idea of torturing Raoul, either
in body or mind, was the last intention of one so humane, but he felt
indignant at the implied suspicion. Commanding himself, notwithstanding,
he bowed courteously, and intimated that he would remain himself with
his prisoner, until all were over. The Frenchman was surprised, and when
he read the sympathy of the other in the expression of his countenance,
he felt regret for his own distrust, and still more at having
"_Mais, Monsieur_" he answered, "night will soon come--you may have to
pass it on the rocks."
"And if we do, doctor, it is no more than we seamen are used to.
Boat-service is common duty with us. I have only to wrap myself in my
cloak, to enjoy a seaman's comfort."
This settled the matter, and no more was said. The surgeon, a man
accustomed to the exercise of such resources, soon managed to make his
dispositions for the final scene. In clearing the lugger, a hundred
light articles had been thrown on the islet on which she had touched,
and among Others were several rude mattresses of the seamen. Two or
three of these were procured, placed on the smoothest surface of the
rock, and a bed formed for Raoul. The medical man and the seamen would
have erected a tent with a sail, but this the wounded man forbade.
"Let me breathe the free air," he said--"I shall use but little of
it;--let that little be free."
It was useless to oppose such a wish; nor was there any motive for it.
The air was pure, and little need be apprehended from the night, in
behalf of Ghita, surrounded as they were by the pure waters of the
ocean. Even when the Tramontana came, although it was cool, its coolness
was not unpleasant, the adjacent hill sheltering the islets from its
The English seamen collected some fuel from the spare spars of the
lugger, and lighted a fire on the rock where they had been found. Food
of all sorts was abundant, and several casks of water had been struck
out whole, as provision against a siege. Here they made coffee, and
cooked enough food for the wants of all the party. The distance
prevented their disturbing those who remained near Raoul; while the
light of the fire, which was kept in a cheerful blaze, cast a
picturesque glow upon the group around the dying man, as soon as the
night had fairly set in. It superseded, too, the necessity of any lamps
We pass over all the first outpourings of Ghita's anguish, when she
learned the wound of Raoul, her many and fervent prayers, and the scenes
that took place during the time that the islet was still crowded with
the combatants. More quiet hours succeeded when these last were gone;
and as the night advanced, something like the fixed tranquillity of
settled despair followed the first emotions. When ten o'clock arrived,
we reach the moment at which we wish to raise the curtain once more, in
order to present the principal actors in the scene.
Raoul lay on the summit of the islet, where his eye could range over the
mild waters that washed the rock, and his ear listen to the murmurings
of his own element. The Tramontana, as usual, had driven all perceptible
vapor from the atmosphere, and the vault of heaven, in its cerulean
blue, and spangled with thousands of stars, stretched itself above him,
a glorious harbinger for the future to one who died in hope. The care of
Ghita and the attendants had collected around the spot so many little
comforts, as to give it the air of a room suddenly divested of sides and
ceiling, but habitable and useful. Winchester, fatigued with his day's
work, and mindful of the wish that Raoul might so naturally feel to be
alone with Ghita, had lain down on a mattress, leaving orders to be
called should anything occur; while the surgeon, conscious that he could
do no more, had imitated his example, making a similar request. As for
Carlo Giuntotardi, he seldom slept, he was at this prayers in the ruins.
Andrea and the podesta paced the rock to keep themselves warm, slightly
regretting the sudden burst of humanity which had induced them
Raoul and Ghita were alone. The former lay on his back, his head
bolstered, and his face upturned toward the vault of heaven. The pain
was over, and life was ebbing fast. Still, the mind was unshackled, and
thought busy as ever. His heart was still full of Ghita; though his
extraordinary situation, and more especially the glorious view before
his eyes, blended certain pictures of the future with his feelings, that
were as novel as he found them powerful.
With the girl it was different. As a woman, she felt the force of this
sudden blow in a manner that she found difficult to bear. Still, she
blessed God that what had occurred happened in her presence, as it might
be; leaving her the means of acting, and the efficacy of prayer. To say
that she did not yet feel the liveliest love for Raoul, all that
tenderness which constitutes so large a portion of woman's nature, would
be untrue; but her mind was made up to the worst, and her thoughts were
of another state of being.
A long pause occurred, in which Raoul remained stead-fastly gazing at
the starry canopy above.
"It is remarkable, Ghita," he said, at length, "that I--Raoul Yvard--the
corsair--the man of wars and tempests combats and hairbreadth
escapes--should be dying here, on this rock, with all those stars
looking down upon me, as it might be, from your heaven, seeming to
smile upon me!"
"Why not _your_ heaven, as well as mine, Raoul?" Ghita answered
tremulously. "It is as vast as He who dwells in it--whose throne it
is--and can contain all who love Him, and seek his mercy."
"Dost thou think one like me would be received into his presence,
"Do not doubt it--free from all error and weakness Himself, his Holy
Spirit delights in the penitent and the sorrowful. Oh! dearest, dearest
Raoul, if thou _wouldst_ but pray!"
A gleam like that of triumph glowed on the face of the wounded man; and
Ghita, in the intensity of her expectation, rose and stood over him, her
own features filled with a momentary hope.
"Mon Feu-Follet!" exclaimed Raoul, letting the tongue reveal the
transient thought which brought the gleam of triumph to his countenance.
"Thou, at least, hast escaped! These English will not count thee among
their victims, and glut their eyes on thy charming proportions!"
Ghita felt a chill at her heart. She fell back on her seat, and
continued watching her lover's countenance with a feeling of despair,
though inextinguishable tenderness was still crowding around her soul.
Raoul heard the movement; and turning his head he gazed at the girl for
quite a minute, with a portion of that intense admiration that used to
gleam from his eyes in happier moments.
"It is better as it is, Ghita," he said, "than that I should live
without thee. Fate has been kind in thus ending my misery."
"Oh, Raoul I there is no fate but the holy will of God. Deceive not
thyself at this awful moment; bow down thy proud spirit in humility, and
turn to Him for succor!"
"Poor Ghita!--Well, thine is not the only innocent mind by millions that
hath been trammelled by priests; and, I suppose, what hath commenced
with the beginning will last till the end."
"The beginning and the end are both with God, Raoul. Since the
commencement of time hath he established laws which have brought about
the trials of thy life--the sadness of this very hour."
"And dost thou think he will pardon all thy care of one so unworthy?"
Ghita bowed her head to the mattress over which she leaned, and buried
her face in her hands. When the minute of prayer that succeeded was
over, and her face was again raised with the flush of feeling tempered
by innocence on it, Raoul was lying on his back, his eyes riveted again
on the vault of heaven. His professional pursuits had led him further
into the study of astronomy than comported with his general education;
and, addicted to speculation, its facts had often seized upon his fancy,
though they had failed to touch his heart. Hitherto, indeed, he had
fallen into the common error of limited research, and found a
confirmation of his suspicions in the assumed grasp of his own reason.
The dread moment that was so near could not fail of its influence,
however; and that unknown future over which he hung, as it might be,
suspended by a hair, inevitably led his mind into an inquiry after the
"Dost thou know, Ghita," he asked, "that the learned of France tell us
that all yonder bright stars are worlds, peopled most probably like this
of our own, and to which the earth appears but as a star itself, and
that, too, of no great magnitude?"
"And what is this, Raoul, to the power and majesty of Him who created
the universe? Ah! think not of the things of his hand, but of Him who
"Hast thou ever heard, my poor Ghita, that the mind of man hath been
able to invent instruments to trace the movements of all these worlds,
and hath power even to calculate their wanderings with accuracy, for
ages to come?"
"And dost _thou_ know, my poor Raoul, what this mind of man is?"
"A part of his nature--the highest quality; that which maketh him the
lord of earth."
"His highest quality--and that which maketh him lord of earth, in one
sense, truly; but, after all, a mere fragment--a spot on the width of
the heavens--of the spirit of God himself. It is in this sense that he
hath been made in the image of his Creator."
"Thou thinkst then, Ghita, that man is God, after all."
"Raoul!--Raoul! if thou wouldst not see me die with thee, interpret not
my words in this manner!"
"Would it, then, be so hard to quit life in my company, Ghita? To me it
would seem supreme felicity were our places to be changed."
"To go whither? Hast thou bethought thee of this, my beloved?"
Raoul answered not for some time. His eyes were fastened on a bright
star, and a tumult of thoughts began to crowd upon his brain. There are
moments in the life of every man when the mental vision obtains clearer
views of remote conclusions, equally in connection with the past and the
future, as there are days when an atmosphere purer than common more
readily gives up its objects to the physical organs--leaving the mind
momentarily the master, almost without control. One of these gleams of
truth passed over the faculties of the dying man, and it could not be
altogether without its fruits. Raoul's soul was agitated by novel
"Do thy priests fancy that they who have known and loved each other in
this life," he asked, "will know and love each other in that which they
fancy is to come?"
"The life that is to come, Raoul, is one all love, or one all hatred.
That we may know each other I try to hope; nor do I see any reason for
disbelieving it. My uncle is of opinion it must be so."
"Thy uncle, Ghita? What, Carlo Giuntotardi--he who seemeth never to
think of things around him--doth a mind like his dwell on thoughts as
remote and sublime as this?"
"Little dost thou know or understand him, Raoul. His mind seldom ceases
to dwell on thoughts like these; this is the reason why earth, and all
it contains, seem so indifferent."
Raoul made no answer, but appearing to suffer under the pain of his
wound, the feelings of woman so far prevailed over Ghita's tender nature
that she had not the heart to press even his salvation on him at such a
moment. She offered him soothing drinks, and nursed him with unabated
care; and when there seemed to be a cessation to his sufferings, she
again passed minutes on her knees, her whole soul absorbed in his future
welfare. An hour passed in this manner, all on or near the rock
sleeping, overcome by fatigue, but Ghita and the dying man.
"That star haunts me, Ghita!" Raoul at length muttered, "If it be really
a world, some all-powerful hand must have created it. Chance never made
a world, more than chance made a ship. Thought--mind--intelligence must
have governed at the formation of one as well as of the other."
For months Ghita had not known an instant as happy as that. It appeared
as if the mind of Raoul were about to extricate itself from the shallow
philosophy so much in fashion, and which had hitherto deadened a nature
so kind, an intellect ordinarily so clear. Could his thoughts but once
take the right direction, she had strong confidence in the distinctness
of their views, but most of all in the goodness of the Deity.
"Raoul," she whispered, "God is there, as he is with us, on this rock.
His spirit is everywhere. Bless him!--bless him in thy soul, my beloved,
and be forever happy!"
Raoul answered not. His face was upturned, and his eye still remained
riveted on that particular star. Ghita would not disturb him, but,
taking his hand in hers, she once more knelt and resumed her prayers.
Minute passed after minute, and neither seemed disposed to speak. At
length Ghita became woman again, and bethought her of her patient's
bodily wants. It was time to administer the liquids of the surgeon, and
she advanced to hold them to his lips. The eye was still fastened on the
star, but the lips did not meet her with the customary smile of love.
They were compressed, as when the body was about to mingle in the
strife of a battle, a sort of stern resolution being settled on them.
Raoul Yvard was dead.
The discovery of the truth was a fearful moment to Ghita. Not a living
being near her had the consciousness of her situation, all being bound
in the sleep of the weary. The first feeling was that which belonged to
her sex. She threw herself on the body, and embraced it wildly, giving
way to those pent-up emotions which her lover, in his moody humors, was
wont to accuse her of not possessing. She kissed the forehead, the
cheeks, the pallid, stern lips of the dead; and, for a time, there was
the danger that her own spirit might pass away in the paroxysm of her
grief. But it was morally impossible for Ghita to remain long under the
influence of despair. Her gentle spirit had communed too long and too
closely with her Heavenly Father, not to resort to his support in all
the critical moments of life. She prayed, for the tenth time that night,
and arose from her knees calm, if not absolutely resigned.
The situation of Ghita was now as wildly picturesque as it was moving to
her inmost spirit. All around her still slept, and that, to the eye, as
profoundly as he who was only to rise again when the sea and the land
give up their dead. The excitement and exertions of the past day
produced their reaction, and seldom did sleep exercise a more profound
influence. The fire was still burning bright on the islet of the
gig-men, casting its rays fairly athwart the ruins, the different
sleepers in them, and the immovable body of the dead. At moments, gusts
of the Tramontana, which was now blowing fresh, descended so low as to
fan the flames, when the glare that succeeded seemed to give a startling
reality to all that surrounded the place.
Still the girl was too highly sustained to be moved with anything but
her loss, and her restless inquietude for the departed spirit. She saw
that even her uncle slept, leaving her truly alone with Raoul. Once a
feeling of desertion came over her, and she was inclined to arouse some
of the sleepers. She did approach the spot where the surgeon lay, and
her hand was raised to stir him, when a flash of light shot athwart the
pallid countenance of Raoul, and she perceived that his eyes were still
open. Drawing near, she bent over the body, gazing long and wistfully
into those windows of the soul that had so often beamed on her in manly
tenderness, and she felt like a miser with his hoarded gold, unwilling
to share it with any other.
Throughout the livelong night did Ghita watch by the body of her
well-beloved, now hanging over it with a tenderness no change could
extinguish, now besieging heaven with her prayers. Not one awoke to
interfere with the strange happiness she felt in those pious offices, or
to wound her sensibilities by the surprise or the sneers of the vulgar.
Ere the day came, she closed the eyes of Raoul with her own hands,
covered his body with a French ensign that lay upon the rock, and sat,
patient and resigned, awaiting the moment when some of the others might
be ready to aid her in performing the last pious offices in behalf of
the dead. As a Romanist, she found a holy consolation in that beautiful
portion of her church's creed that admits of unceasing petition for the
souls of the departed, even to the latest hour of earthly things.
Winchester was the first to stir. Starting up, he appeared to be
astonished at the situation in which he found himself; but a glance
around told the whole truth. Advancing toward Ghita, he was about to
inquire after the welfare of Raoul, when, struck by the expression of
her seraphic countenance, he turned to the body, and read the truth in
the appropriate pall. It was no time for self-upbraidings, or for
reproaches to others; but arousing the sleepers, in a subdued and
respectful manner, he gave to the place the quiet and seeming sanctity
of a chapel.
Carlo Giuntotardi soon after begged the dead body from the conquerors.
There was no motive for denying the request, and it was placed in a
boat and towed to the shore, accompanied by all who had remained. The
heavy sirocco that soon succeeded drove the waves athwart the islet of
the ruins, effectually erasing its stains of blood, and sweeping every
trace of le Feu-Follet and of the recent events into the sea.
At the foot of the Scaricatojo the seamen constructed a rude bier, and
thus they bore the dead up that wild and yet lovely precipice,
persevering in their good work until they reached the cottage of Carlo
Giuntotardi's sister. A little procession accompanied the body from the
first, and, Ghita being universally known and respected among the simple
inhabitants of those heights, when it entered the street of St. Agata it
had grown into a line that included a hundred believers.
The convent, the empty buildings of which still crown the summit of one
of the adjacent hills, was then in existence as a religious community;
and the influence of Carlo Giuntotardi was sufficient to procure its
offices in behalf of the dead. For three days and nights did the body of
Raoul Yvard, the unbeliever, lie in the chapel of that holy fraternity,
his soul receiving the benefit of masses; then it was committed to holy
ground, to await the summons of the last trump.
There is a strange disposition in the human breast to withhold praise
from a man when living, that is freely accorded to him when dead.
Although we believe that envy, and its attendant evil detraction, are
peculiarly democratic vices, meaning thereby that democracy is the most
fertile field in which these human failings luxuriate, yet is there much
reason to think that our parent nation is preeminent in the exhibition
of the peculiarity first mentioned. That which subsequently awaited
Napoleon, after his imprisonment and death, was now exhibited in the
case of Raoul Yvard, on a scale suited to his condition and renown. From
being detested in the English fleet, he got to be honored and extolled.
Now that he was dead and harmless, his seamanship could be praised, his
chivalry emulated, and his courage glorified. Winchester, McBean,
O'Leary, and Clinch attended his funeral, quite as a matter of course.
They had proved themselves worthy to be there; but many others insisted
on being of the party. Some came to get a last look of so celebrated an
adventurer, even in his coffin; others to say they had been present; and
not a few to catch a glimpse of the girl whose romantic but innocent
passion had got to be the subject of much discourse in the ships. The
result was such a procession, and such funeral honors, as threw the
quiet little hamlet of St. Agata into commotion. All noted the
particulars, and all were pleased but Ghita. On her these tardy
compliments failed of their effect, her soul being engrossed with the
great care of petitioning heaven in behalf of the deceased.
Andrea Barrofaldi and Vito Viti, too, figured on this occasion; the
latter taking care to let all who would listen understand how closely he
had been connected with "Sir Smees"; no longer viewed as an impostor,
but honored as a hero. He even created a little difficulty in claiming a
precedency for the _toga_ over arms on the occasion; well knowing that
if the vice-governatore got a conspicuous place in the ceremony, the
podesta could not fail to be near at hand. The matter was settled
entirely to Andrea's satisfaction, if not to that of his friend.
To confess the truth, Nelson was not sorry for what had occurred. When
he learned the desperate nature of Raoul's defence, and heard some
traits of his liberal conduct on various occasions, he felt a generous
regret at his death; but he thought even this preferable to escape. When
Cuffe got in, and brought the report of the lugger's fate, though he
would have preferred her capture, the common sentiment settled down into
a feeling that both lugger and commander had fared as well as a
privateer and her people usually merited.
As a matter of course, those concerned in the capture, and who survived
the affair, reaped some advantage from their success. England seldom
fails in the duty of conferring rewards, more especially in her marine.
When Cook returned from his renowned voyages, it was not to meet with
persecution and neglect, but credit and justice. Nelson knew how to
appreciate that spirit and enterprise which were so often exercised by
himself. As for Sir Frederick Dashwood, little could be done besides
giving his name an honorable place on the list of those who had fallen
in battle. His heir wore mourning, seemed filled with sorrow, and
inwardly rejoiced at being a baronet with some thousands a year. Lyon
got his ship; and from that moment he ceased to consider the chase and
all connected with le Feu-Follet an unprofitable thing. Airchy followed
him to the Terpsichore, with visions of prize-money before his eyes,
which were tolerably realized in the course of the succeeding
Winchester was promoted into the Ringdove, and Griffin became first of
the Proserpine. This, of course, made Yelverton second, and left one
vacancy. Thus far the orders had been made out, when Cuffe dined with
the admiral, by invitation, tete-a-tete.
"One of my objects in having you here to-day, Cuffe," observed Nelson,
as they sat together over their wine, the cabin cleared, "was to say
something about the vacant berth in your gun-room; and the other was to
beg a master's-mate of you, in behalf of Berry. You remember that some
of your people were received on board here before you got in, the
"I do, my lord; and I meant to make my acknowledgments for the favor.
The poor fellows had a warm time of it at the rocks, and deserved
comfortable berths after it was over."
"I believe we gave them as much; at least, I know few suffer in this
ship. Well, there was a mate among them, who is a little advanced, and
who is likely to stick where he is, by what I learn. We want just such a
man for the hold, and I have promised my Captain to speak to you about
him. Don't let him go if there's any reason for wishing to retain him;
but we have three seamen ready to exchange against him; good fellows,
too, they tell me."
Cuffe picked some nuts, and appeared a little at a loss for a reply.
Nelson saw this, and he fancied the other reluctant to give up his mate.
"Well, I see how it is," he said, smiling, "We must do without him, and
you will keep your Mr. Clinch. A thorough officer in a ship's hold is an
advantage not to be thrown away; and I suppose, if Hotham had asked such
a thing of old Agamemnon, he might have whistled for the favor. The
deuce is in it, if we do not get as good a mate somewhere!"
"It's not that, my lord--you're welcome to the man, though a better in
his station cannot be had. But I was in hopes his recent good conduct,
and his long services, might give him a lift into the vacant
The admiral appeared surprised, while he did not seem to be exactly
"It has a hard look, I grant you, Cuffe, to keep a poor devil ten or
fifteen years in the same station, and this, too, after he has served
long enough for a commission. I was a captain ten years younger than
this Mr. Clinch must be to-day, and it does _seem_ hard; and yet I doubt
not it is just. I have rarely known a midshipman or a mate passed over,
in this way, that there was not some great fault at the bottom. We must
think of the service, as well as of generosity."
"I confess all this, my lord--and yet I did hope poor Clinch's
delinquencies would at length be forgotten."
"If there are any particular reasons for it, I should like to hear
Cuffe now related all that had passed between himself and the master's
mate, taking care to give Jane a due place in his history. Nelson began
to twitch the stump of his arm, and by the time the story was told
Clinch's promotion was settled. An order was sent forthwith to the
secretary, to make out the orders, and Cuffe carried them back with him
to the Proserpine that night, when he returned to his own ship.
All Nelson's promotions were confirmed by the Admiralty, pretty much as
a matter of course. Among others was that of Clinch, who now became the
junior lieutenant of the Proserpine. This elevation awakened new
feelings within him. He dressed better; refrained from the bottle; paid
more attention to his mind; improved in manners, by keeping better
company; and, in the course of the next twelvemonth, had made rapid
advances toward respectability. At the end of that time, the ship was
sent home; and Jane, in her imagination at least, received the reward of
all her virtuous constancy, by becoming his wife. Nor did Cuffe cease
his friendly offices here. He succeeded in getting Clinch put in command
of a cutter; in which he captured a privateer, after a warm action,
within a month. This success procured him a gun-brig, and with her he
was still more fortunate; actually cutting out, with her boats, a French
sloop-of-war, that was not half manned, it is true, but which was still
considered a handsome prize. For this affair he got the sloop; thus
demonstrating the caprice of fortune, by whose means he found himself a
commander in less than three years after he had been a mate. Here he
stuck, however, for a long time, until he got another sloop in fair
fight, when he was posted. From that moment, we have lost sight of him.
Cuffe being sent into the Gulf of Genoa, shortly after, seized the
opportunity to restore the vice-governatore and his friend to their
native island. The fame of their deeds had preceded them, exaggerated,
as a matter of course, by the tongue of rumor. It was understood that
the two Elbans were actually in the fight in which Raoul Yvard fell;
and, there being no one to deny it, many even believed that Vito Viti,
in particular, had killed the corsair with his own hand. A discreet
forbearance on the part of the podesta always kept the matter so
completely involved in mystery, that we question if any traveller who
should visit the island, even at this day, would be able to learn more
than we now tell the reader. In a word, the podesta, forever after,
passed for a hero, through one of those mysterious processes by which
men sometimes reach fame; quite as much, perhaps, to their own
astonishment as to the surprise of everybody else.
As for Ithuel, he did not appear in America for many years. When he did
return, he came back with several thousand dollars; how obtained no one
knew, nor did he choose to enter into particulars. He now married a
widow, and settled in life. In due time he "experienced religion," and
at this moment is an active abolitionist, a patron of the temperance
cause teetotally, and a general terror to evil-doers, under the
appellation of Deacon Bolt.
It was very different with the meek, pious, and single-minded Ghita;
though one was e'en a Roman Catholic, and the other a Protestant, and
that, too, of the Puritan school. Our heroine had little of this world
left to live for. She continued, however, to reside with her uncle,
until his days were numbered; and then she retired to a convent, no so
much to comply with any religious superstitions, as to be able to pass
her time, uninterrupted, in repeating prayers for the soul of Raoul. To
her latest hour, and she lived until quite recently, did this
pure-minded creature devote herself to what she believed to be the
eternal welfare of the man who had so interwoven himself with her virgin
affections as to threaten, at one time, to disturb the just ascendency
of the dread Being who had created her.