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Miles Wallingford:

Sequel to Afloat and Ashore.

By J. Fenimore Cooper.

1863.

Preface

The conclusion of this tale requires but little preface. Many persons may think that there is too much of an old man's despondency in a few of the opinions of this portion of the work; but, after sixty, it is seldom we view the things of this world en beau. There are certain political allusions, very few in number, but pretty strong in language, that the signs of the times fully justify, in the editor's judgment; though he does not profess to give his own sentiments in this work, so much as those of the subject of the narrative himself. "The anti-rent combination," for instance, will prove, according to the editor's conjectures, to be one of two things in this community--the commencement of a dire revolution, or the commencement of a return to the sounder notions and juster principles that prevailed among us thirty years since, than certainly prevail to-day. There is one favourable symptom discoverable in the deep-seated disease that pervades the social system: men dare, and do, deal more honestly and frankly with the condition of society in this country, than was done a few years since. This right, one that ought to be most dear to every freeman, has been recovered only by painful sacrifices and a stern resolution; but recovered it has been, in some measure; and, were the pens of the country true to their owners' privileges, we should soon come to a just view of the sacred nature of private character, as well as the target-like vulnerability of public follies and public vice. It is certain that, for a series of dangerous years, notions just the reverse of this have prevailed among us, gradually rendering the American press equally the vehicle of the most atrocious personal calumny, and the most flatulent national self-adulation. It is under such a state of things that the few evils alluded to in this work have had their rise. Bodies of men, however ignorant or small, have come to consider themselves as integral portions of a community that never errs, and, consequently, entitled to esteem themselves infallible. When in debt, they have fancied it political liberty to pay their debts by the strong hand; a very easy transition for those who believe themselves able to effect all their objects. The disease has already passed out of New York into Pennsylvania; it will spread, like any other epidemic, throughout the country; and there will soon be a severe struggle among us, between the knave and the honest man. Let the class of the latter look to it. It is to be hoped it is still sufficiently powerful to conquer.

These few remarks are made in explanation of certain opinions of Mr. Wallingford, that have been extorted from him by the events of the day, as he was preparing this work for the press; remarks that might seem out of place, were it not a part of his original plan, which contemplated enlarging far more than he has, indeed, on some of the prominent peculiarities of the state of society in which he has passed the greater part of his days.

Miles Wallingford

Chapter I.

--"But I'll not chide thee;
Let shame come when it will, I do not call it;
I do not bid the thunder-bearer shoot,
Nor tell tales of thee to high-judging Jove;
Mend when thou canst--"

Lear.

It is almost as impossible to describe minutely what occurred on the boat's reaching the Wallingford, as to describe all the terrific incidents of the struggle between Drewett and myself in the water. I had sufficient perception, however, to see, as I was assisted on board by Mr. Hardinge and Neb, that Lucy was not on deck. She had probably gone to join Grace, with a view to be in readiness for meeting the dire intelligence that was expected. I afterwards learned that she was long on her knees in the after-cabin, engaged in that convulsive prayer which is apt to accompany sudden and extreme distress in those who appeal to God in their agony.

During the brief moments, and they were but mere particles of time, if one can use such an expression, in which my senses could catch anything beyond the horrid scene in which I was so closely engaged, I had heard shrill screams from the lungs of Chloe; but Lucy's voice had not mingled in the outcry. Even now, as we were raised, or aided, to the deck, the former stood, with her face glistening with tears, half convulsed with terror and half expanding with delight, uncertain whether to laugh or to weep, looking first at her master and then at her own admirer, until her feelings found a vent in the old exclamation of "der feller!"

It was fortunate for Andrew Drewett that a man of Post's experience and steadiness was with us. No sooner was the seemingly lifeless body on board, than Mr. Hardinge ordered the water-cask to be got out; and he and Marble would have soon been rolling the poor fellow with all their might, or holding him up by the heels, under the notion that the water he had swallowed must be got out of him, before he could again breathe; but the authority of one so high in the profession soon put a stop to this. Drewett's wet clothes were immediately removed, blankets were warmed at the galley, and the most judicious means were resorted to, in order to restore the circulation. The physician soon detected signs of life, and, ordering all but one or two assistants to leave the spot, in ten minutes Drewett was placed in a warm bed, and might be considered out of danger.

The terrific scene enacted so directly before his eyes, produced an effect on the Albon-ny man, who consented to haul aft his main-sheet, lower his studding-sail and top-sail, come by the wind, stand across to the Wallingford, heave-to, and lower a boat. This occurred just as Drewett was taken below; and, a minute later, old Mrs. Drewett and her two daughters, Helen and Caroline, were brought alongside of us. The fears of these tender relatives were allayed by my report; for, by this time, I could both talk and walk; and Post raised no objection to their being permitted to go below. I seized that opportunity to jump down into the sloop's hold, where Neb brought me some dry clothes; and I was soon in a warm, delightful glow, that contributed in no small degree to my comfort. So desperate had been my struggles, however, that it took a good night's rest completely to restore the tone of my nerves and all my strength. My arrangements were barely completed, when I was summoned to the cabin.

Grace met me with extended arms. She wept on my bosom for many minutes. She was dreadfully agitated as it was; though happily she knew nothing of the cause of Chloe's screams, and of the confusion on deck, until I was known to be safe. Then Lucy communicated all the facts to her in as considerate a manner as her own kind and gentle nature could dictate. I was sent for, as just stated, and caressed like any other precious thing that its owner had supposed itself about to lose. We were still in an agitated state, when Mr. Hardinge appeared at the door of the cabin, with a prayer-book in his hand. He demanded our attention, all kneeling in both cabins, while the good, simple-minded old man read some of the collects, the Lord's Prayer, and concluded with the thanksgiving for "a safe return from sea"! He would have given us the marriage ceremony itself, before he would have gone out of the prayer-book for any united worship whatever.

It was impossible not to smile at this last act of pious simplicity, while it was equally impossible not to be touched with such an evidence of sincere devotion. The offering had a soothing influence on all our feelings, and most especially on those of the excited females. As I came out into the main-cabin, after this act of devotion, the excellent divine took me in his arms, kissed me just as he had been used to do when a boy, and blessed me aloud. I confess I was obliged to rush on deck to conceal my emotion.

In a few minutes I became sufficiently composed to order sail made on our course, when we followed the Orpheus up the river, soon passing her, and taking care to give her a wide berth; a precaution I long regretted not having used at first. As Mrs. Drewett and her two daughters refused to quit Andrew, we had the whole family added to our party, as it might be, per force. I confess to having been sufficiently selfish to complain a little, to myself only, however, at always finding these people in my way, during the brief intervals I now enjoyed of being near Lucy. As there was no help after seeing all the canvass spread, I took a seat in one of the chairs that stood on the main-deck, and began, for the first time, coolly to ponder on all that had just passed. While thus occupied, Marble drew a chair to my side, gave me a cordial squeeze of the hand, and began to converse. At this moment, neatly tricked out in dry clothes, stood Neb on the forecastle, with his arms folded, sailor-fashion, as calm as if he had never felt the wind blow; occasionally giving in, however, under the influence of Chloe's smiles and unsophisticated admiration. In these moments of weakness the black would bow his head, give vent to a short laugh when, suddenly recovering himself, he would endeavour to appear dignified. While this pantomime was in the course of exhibition forward, the discourse aft did not flag.

"Providence intends you for something remarkable, Miles," my mate continued, after one or two brief expressions of his satisfaction at my safety; "something uncommonly remarkable, depend on it. First, you were spared in the boat off the Isle of Bourbon; then, in another boat off Delaware Bay; next, you got rid of the Frenchman so dexterously in the British Channel; after that, there was the turn-up with the bloody Smudge and his companions; next comes the recapture of the Crisis; sixthly, as one might say, you picked me up at sea, a runaway hermit; and now here, this very day, seventhly and lastly, are you sitting safe and sound, after carrying as regular a lubber as ever fell overboard, on your head and shoulders, down to the bottom of the Hudson, no less than three times! I consider you to be the only man living who ever sank his three times, and came up to tell of it, with his own tongue."

"I am not at all conscious of having said one word about it, Moses," I retorted, a little drily.

"Every motion, every glance of your eye, boy, tells the story. No; Providence intends you for something remarkable, you may rely on that. One of these days you may go to Congress--who knows?"

"By the same rule, you are to be included, then; for in most of my adventures you have been a sharer, besides having quantities that are exclusively your own. Remember, you have even been a hermit."

"Hu-s-h--not a syllable about it, or the children would run after me as a sight. You must have generalized in a remarkable way, Miles, after you sunk the last time, without much hope of coming up again?"

"Indeed, my friend, you are quite right in your conjecture. So near a view of death is apt to make us all take rapid and wide views of the past. I believe it even crossed my mind that you would miss me sadly."

"Ay," returned Marble, with feeling; "them are the moments to bring out the truth! Not a juster idee passed your brain than that, Master Miles, I can assure you. Missed you! I would have bought a boat and started for Marble Land, never again to quit it, the day after the funeral. But there stands your cook, fidgeting and looking this way, as if she had a word to put in on the occasion. This expl'ite of Neb's will set the niggers up in the world; and it wouldn't surprise me if it cost you a suit of finery all round."

"A price I will cheerfully pay for my life. It is as you say--Dido certainly wishes to speak to me, and I must give her an invitation to come nearer."

Dido Clawbonny was the cook of the family, and the mother of Chloe. Whatever hypercriticism might object to her colour, which was a black out of which all the gloss had fairly glistened itself over the fire, no one could deny her being full blown. Her weight was exactly two hundred, and her countenance a strange medley of the light-heartedness of her race, and the habitual and necessary severity of a cook. She often protested that she was weighed down by "responserbility;" the whole of the discredit of overdone beef, or under-done fish, together with those which attach themselves to heavy bread, lead-like buckwheat-cakes, and a hundred other similar cases, belonging exclusively to her office. She had been twice married, the last connection having been formed only a twelvemonth before. In obedience to a sign, this important lady now approached.

"Welcome back, Masser Mile," Dido began with a curtsey, meaning "Welcome back from being half-drowned;" "ebberybody so grad you isn't hurt!"

"Thank you, Dido--thank you with all my heart. If I have gained nothing else by the ducking, I have gained a knowledge of the manner in which my servants love me."

"Lor' bless us all! How we help it, Masser Mile? As if a body can posserbly help how lub come and go! Lub jest like religion, Masser Mile--some get him, and some don't. But lub for a young masser and a young missus, sah--dat jest as nat'ral, as lub for ole masser and ole missus. I t'ink nut'in' of neider."

Luckily, I was too well acquainted with the Clawbonny dialect to need a vocabulary in order to understand the meaning of Dido. All she wished to express was the idea that it was so much a matter of course for the dependants of the family to love its heads, that she did not think the mere circumstance, in itself, worthy of a second thought.

"Well, Dido," I said, "how does matrimony agree with you, in your old age? I hear you took a second partner to yourself, while I was last at sea."

Dido let her eyes fall on the deck, according to the custom of all brides, let their colour be what it may; manifested a proper degree of confusion, then curtsied, turned her full moon-face so as to resemble a half-moon, and answered, with a very suspicious sort of a sigh--

"Yes, Masser Mile, dat jest so. I did t'ink to wait and ask 'e young masser's consent; but Cupid say"--not the god of love, but an old negro of that name, Dido's second partner--"but Cupid say, 'what odd he make to Masser Mile; he long way off, and he won't care:' and so, sah, rader than be tormented so by Cupid, one had altogedder better be married at once--dat all, sah."

"And that is quite enough, my good woman; that everything may be in rule, I give my consent now, and most cheerfully."

"T'ankee, sah!" dropping a curtsey, and showing her teeth.

"Of course the ceremony was performed by our excellent rector, good Mr. Hardinge?"

"Sartain, sah--no Clawbonny nigger t'ink he marry at all, 'less Masser Hardinge bless him and say Amen. Ebberybody say 'e marriage is as good as ole Masser and Missusses. Dis make two time Dido got married; and both time good, lawful ceremunny, as ebber was. Oh! yes, sah!"

"And I hope your change of condition has proved to your mind, Dido, now the thing is done. Old Cupid is no great matter in the way of beauty, certainly; but he is an honest, sober fellow enough."

"Yes, sah, he dat, no one can deny. Ah! Masser Mile, em 'ere step-husband, after all, nebber jest like a body own husband! Cupid berry honest, and berry sober; but he only step-husband; and dat I tell him twenty time already, I do t'ink, if trut' was said."

"Perhaps you have now said it often enough--twenty times are quite sufficient to tell a man such a fact."

"Yes, sah," dropping another curtsey, "if Masser Mile please."

"I do please, and think you have told him that often enough. If a man won't learn a thing in twenty lessons, he is not worth the trouble of teaching. So tell him he's a step-husband no more, but try something else. I hope he makes Chloe a good father?"

"Lor', sah, he no Chloe's fadder, at all--her fadder dead and gone, and nebber come back. I want to say a word to young Masser, 'bout Chloe and dat 'ere fellow, Neb--yes, sah."

"Well, what is it, Dido? I see they like each other, and suppose they wish to get married, too. Is that the object of your visit? if so, I consent without waiting to be asked. Neb will make no step-husband, I can promise you."

"Don't be in a hurry, Masser Mile," said Dido, with an eagerness that showed this ready consent was anything but what she wanted. "Dere many 'jection to Neb, when he ask to marry a young gal in Chloe sitiation. You know, sah, Chloe now Miss Grace's own waitin'-maid. Nobody else help her dress, or do anything in 'e young missus's room, dan Chloe, sheself--my darter, Chloe Clawbonny!"

Here was a new turn given to the affair! It was "like master, like man." Neb's love (or lub, for that was just the word, and just the idea, too) was no more fated to run smooth than my own; and the same objection lay against us both, viz., want of gentility! I determined to say a good word for the poor fellow, however; while it would have been exceeding the usage of the family to interfere in any other manner than by advice, in an affair of the heart.

"If Chloe is my sister's favourite servant, Dido," I remarked, "you are to remember that Neb is mine."

"Dat true, sah, and so Chloe say; but dere great difference, Masser Mile, atween Clawbonny and a ship. Neb own, himself, young Masser, he doesn't even lib in cabin, where you lib, sah."

"All that is true, Dido; but there is a difference of another sort between a ship and a house. The house-servant may be more liked and trusted than the out-door servant; but we think, at sea, it is more honourable to be a foremast-hand than to be in the cabin, unless as an officer. I was a foremast Jack some time, myself; and Neb is only in such a berth as his master once filled." "Dat a great deal--quite won'erful, sah--berry great deal, and more dan Chloe can say, or I can wish her to say. But, sah, dey say now Neb has save 'e young masser's life, young masser must gib him free-paper; and no gal of mine shall ebber be free nigger's wife. No, sah; 'scuse me from dat disgrace, which too much for fait'ful ole servant to bear!"

"I am afraid, Dido, Neb is the same way of thinking. I offered him his freedom, the other day, and he refused to receive it. Times are changing in this country; and it will be thought, soon, it is more creditable for a black to be free, than to be any man's slave. The law means to free all hands of you, one of these days."

"Nebber tell me dat, Masser Mile--dat day nebber come for me or mine; even ole Cupid know better dan dat. Now, sah, Misser Van Blarcum's Brom want to have Chloe, dreadful; but I nebber consent to sich a uner"--(Dido meant union)--"nebber. Our family, sah, altogedder too good to marry in among the Van Blarcums. Nebber has been, and never shall be uner atween 'em."

"I was not aware, Dido, that the Clawbonny slaves were so particular about their connections."

"Won'erful particular, sah, and ebber hab been, and ebber will be. Don't t'ink, Masser Mile, I marry ole Cupid, myself, if anoder prop'r connection offer in 'e family; but I prefar him, to marry into any oder family hereabout."

"Neb is Clawbonny, and my great friend; so I hope you will think better of his suit. Some day Chloe may like to be free; and Neb will always have it in his power to make his wife free, as well as himself."

"Sah, I t'ink, as you say, Masser Miles, sah--when I hab done t'inkin', sah, hope young masser and young missus hear what ole cook got to say, afore 'ey gives consent."

"Certainly; Chloe is your daughter, and she shall pay you all due respect--for that, I will answer for my sister as well as for myself. We will never encourage disrespect for parents."

Dido renewed and redoubled her thanks, made another profound curtsey, and withdrew with a dignity that, I dare say, in Neb's and Chloe's eyes, boded little good. As for myself, I now mused on the character of the things of this world. Here were people of the very humblest class known in a nation--nay, of a class sealed by nature itself, and doomed to inferiority--just as tenacious of the very distinctions that were making me so miserable, and against which certain persons, who are wiser than the rest of the world, declaim without understanding them, and even go so far, sometimes, as to deny their existence. My cook reasoned, in her sphere, much as I knew that Rupert reasoned, as the Drewetts reasoned, as the world reasoned, and, as I feared, even Lucy reasoned in my own case! The return of Marble, who had left my side as soon as Dido opened her budget, prevented my dwelling long on this strange--I had almost said, uncouth--coincidence, and brought my mind back to present things.

"As the old woman has spun her yarn, Miles," the mate resumed, "we will go on with matters and things. I have been talking with the mother of the youngster that fell overboard, and giving her some advice for the benefit of her son in time to come; and what do you think she gives as the reason for the silly thing he did?"

"It is quite out of my power to say--that he was a silly fellow naturally, perhaps."

"Love. It seems the poor boy is in love with this sweet friend of yours, Rupert's sister; and it was nothing more nor less than love which made him undertake to play rope-dancer on our main-boom!"

"Did Mrs. Drewett tell you this, with her own mouth, Marble?"

"That did she, Captain Wallingford; for, while you were discussing Neb and Chloe with old Dido, we, that is, the doctor, the mother and myself, were discussing Andrew and Lucy between ourselves. The good old lady gave me to understand it was a settled thing, and that she looked on Miss Hardinge, already, as a third daughter."

This was a strange subject for Mrs. Drewett to discuss with a man like Marble, or even with Post; but some allowances were to be made for Marble's manner of viewing his own connection with the dialogue, and more for the excited condition of the mother's feelings. She was scarcely yet in possession of all her faculties, and might very well commit an indiscretion of this nature, more especially in her conversation with a man in Post's position, overlooking or disregarding the presence of the mate. The effect of all that had passed was to leave a strong impression on my mind that I was too late. Lucy must be engaged, and waited only to become of age, in order to make the settlements she intended in favour of her brother, ere she was married. Her manner to myself was merely the result of habit and sincere friendship; a little increased in interest and gentleness, perhaps, on account of the grievous wrong she felt we had received from Rupert. What right had I to complain, admitting all this to be true? I had scarcely been aware of my own passion for the dear girl for years, and had certainly never attempted to make her acquainted with it. She had made me no pledges, plighted no faith, received no assurances of attachment, was under no obligation to wait my pleasure. So sincere was my affection for Lucy, that I rejoiced, even in my misery, when I remembered that not the slightest imputation could be laid on her deportment, truth, or frankness. On the whole, it was perhaps the more natural that she should love Andrew Drewett, one she met for the first time after she became of an age to submit to such impressions, than to love me, whom she had been educated to treat with the familiarity and confidence of a brother. Yes; I was even just enough to admit this.

The scene of the morning, and the presence of Mrs. Drewett and her daughters, produced an entire change in the spirits and intercourse of our party. The ladies remained below most of the time; and as for Drewett himself, he was advised by Post not to quit his berth until he found his strength restored. Mr. Hardinge passed much time by Andrew Drewett's side, offering such attentions as might be proper from a father to a son. At least it so seemed to me. This left Marble and myself in possession of the quarter-deck, though we had occasional visits from all below--Grace, Lucy, and old Mrs. Drewett, excepted.

In the mean time, the Wallingford continued to ascend the river, favoured until evening by a light southerly breeze. She outsailed everything; and, just as the sun was sinking behind the fine termination of the Cattskill range of mountains, we were some miles above the outlet of the stream that has lent it its name.

A lovelier landscape can scarce be imagined than that which presented itself from the deck of the sloop. It was the first time I had ascended the river, or indeed that any of the Clawbonny party had been up it so high, Mr. Hardinge excepted; and everybody was called on deck to look at the beauties of the hour. The sloop was about a mile above Hudson, and the view was to be gazed at towards the south. This is perhaps the finest reach of this very beautiful stream, though it is not the fashion to think so; the Highlands being the part usually preferred. It is easy enough for me, who have since lived among the sublimity of the Swiss and Italian lakes, to understand that there is nothing of a very sublime character, relatively considered, in any of the reaches of the Hudson; but it would be difficult to find a river that has so much which is exquisitely beautiful; and this, too, of a beauty which borders on the grand. Lucy was the first person to create any doubts in my mind concerning the perfection of the Highlands. Just as the cockney declaims about Richmond Hill--the inland view from Mont-Martre, of a clouded day, is worth twenty of it--but just as the provincial London cockney declaims about Richmond Hill, so has the provincial American been in the habit of singing the praises of the Highlands of the Hudson. The last are sufficiently striking, I will allow; but they are surpassed in their own kind by a hundred known mountain landscapes; while the softer parts of the river have scarcely a rival. Lucy, I repeat, was the first person to teach me this distinction--Lucy, who then had never seen either Alps or Apennines. But her eye was as true as her principles, her tongue, or her character. All was truth about this dear girl--truth unadulterated and unalloyed.

"Certainly, my dear Mrs. Drewett," the dear girl said, as she stood supporting the old lady, who leaned on her arm, gazing at the glorious sunset, "the Highlands have nothing to equal this! To me this seems all that art could achieve; while I confess the views in the mountains have ever appeared to want something that the mind can imagine."

Mrs. Drewett, though a respectable, was a common-place woman. She belonged to the vast class that do most of their thinking by proxy; and it was a sort of heresy in her eyes to fancy anything could surpass the Highlands. Poor Mrs. Drewett! She was exceedingly cockney, without having the slightest suspicion of it. Her best ought to be everybody else's best. She combated Lucy's notion warmly, therefore, protesting that the Highlands could not have a superior. This is a sort of argument it is not easy to overcome; and her companion was content to admire the scene before her, in silence, after urging one or two reasons, in support of her opinion, in her own quiet, unpretending manner.

I overheard this little argument, and was a close observer of the manner of the parlies. Mrs. Drewett was extremely indulgent, even while warmest, seeming to me to resist Lucy's opinion as an affectionate mother would contend with the mistaken notions of a very favourite child. On the other hand, Lucy appeared confiding, and spoke as the young of her sex are most apt to do, when they utter their thoughts to ears they feel must be indulgent.

A sunset cannot last for ever; and even this, sweet as it had been, soon became tame and tasteless to me. As the ladies now disappeared, I determined to anchor, the wind failing, and the tide coming ahead. Marble and myself had a sort of state-room fitted up for us in the hold; and thither I was glad to retire, standing really in need of rest, after the terrible exertions of that day. What passed in the cabins that evening, I had no opportunity of knowing, though I heard laughing, and happy female voices, through the bulkheads, hours after my own head was on its pillow. When Marble came down to turn in, he told me the cabin party had revived, and that there had been much pleasant discourse among the young people; and this in a way to cause even him to derive great satisfaction as a listener.

Neb gave us a call at daylight. The wind was fresh at west-north-west, but the tide was just beginning to run on the flood. I was so impatient to be rid of my guests, that all hands were called immediately, and we got the sloop under-way. The pilot professed himself willing to beat up through the narrow passages above, and, the Wallingford's greatest performance being on the wind, I was determined to achieve my deliverance that very tide. The sloop drew more water than was usual for the up-river craft, it is true, but she was light, and, just at the moment, could go wherever the loaded Albany vessels went. Those were not the days of vast public works; and as for sea-going craft, none had ever crossed the Overslaugh, so far as had come to my knowledge. Times have changed greatly, since; but the reader will remember I am writing of that remote period in American history, the year of our Lord 1803.

The anchor was no sooner aweigh, than the deck became a scene of activity. The breeze was stiff, and it enabled me to show the Wallingford off to advantage among the dull, flat-bottomed craft of that day. There were reaches in which the wind favoured us, too; and, by the time the ladies reappeared, we were up among the islands, worming our way through the narrow channels with rapidity and skill. To me, and to Marble also, the scene was entirely novel; and between the activity that our evolutions required, and the constant change of scene, we had little leisure to attend to those in the cabin. Just as breakfast was announced, indeed, the vessel was approaching the more difficult part of the river; and all we got of that meal, we took on deck, at snatches, between the many tacks we made. As good-luck would have it, however, the wind backed more to the westward about eight o'clock; and we were enabled to stem the ebb that began to make at the same time. This gave us the hope of reaching the end of our passage without again anchoring.

At length we reached the Overslaugh, which, as was apt to be the case, was well sprinkled with vessels aground. The pilot carried us through them all, however; if not literally with flying colours, which would have been regarded as an insult by the less fortunate, at least with complete success. Then Albany came into view, leaning against its sharp acclivity, and spreading over its extensive bottom-land. It was not the town it is to-day, by quite three-fourths less in dwellings and people; but it was then, as now, one of the most picturesque-looking places in America. There is no better proof, in its way, how much more influence the talking and writing part of mankind have than the mere actors, than is to be found in the relative consideration of Albany, on the scale of appearance and position, as compared with those enjoyed by a hundred other towns, more especially in the Eastern States. Almost without a competitor, as to beauty of situation, or at least on a level with Richmond and Burlington, among the inland towns, it was usually esteemed a Dutch place that every pretender was at liberty to deride, in my younger days. We are a people by no means addicted to placing our candle under the bushel and yet I cannot recall a single civil expression in any native writer touching the beauties of Albany. It may have been owing to the circumstance that so much of the town was under the hill at the beginning of the century, and that strangers had few opportunities of seeing it to advantage; but I rather think its want of the Anglo-Saxon origin was the principal reason it was so little in favour.

Glad enough was I to reach the wharves, with their line of storehouses, that then literally spouted wheat into the sloops that crowded the quays, on its way to feed the contending armies of Europe. Late as it was in the season, wheat was still pouring outward through all the channels of the country, enriching the farmers with prices that frequently rose as high as two dollars and a half the bushel, and sometimes as high as three. Yet no one was so poor in America as to want bread! The dearer the grain, the higher the wages of the labourer, and the better he lived.

It was not at all late when the Wallingford was slowly approaching the wharf where it was intended to bring-up. There was a sloop ahead of us, which we had been gradually approaching for the last two hours, but which was enabled to keep in advance in consequence of the lightness of the wind. This dying away of the breeze rendered the approaching noon-tide calm and pleasant; and everybody in-board, even to Grace, came on deck, as we moved slowly past the dwellings on the eastern bank, in order to get a view of the town. I proposed that the Clawbonny party should land, contrary to our original intention, and profit by the opportunity to see the political capital of the State at our leisure. Both Grace and Lucy were inclined to listen favourably; and the Drewetts, Andrew and his sisters, were delighted at this prospect of our remaining together a little longer. Just at this moment, the Wallingford, true to her character, was coming up with the sloop ahead, and was already doubling on her quarter. I was giving some orders, when Lucy and Chloe, supporting Grace, passed me on their way to the cabin. My poor sister was pale as death, and I could see that she trembled so much she could hardly walk. A significant glance from Lucy bade me not to interfere, and I hid sufficient self-command to obey. I turned to look at the neighbouring sloop, and found at once an explanation of my sister's agitation. The Mertons and Rupert were on her quarter-deck, and so near as to render it impossible to avoid speaking, at least to the former. At this embarrassing instant Lucy returned to my side, with a view, as I afterwards learned, to urge me to carry the Wallingford to some place so distant, as to remove the danger of any intercourse. This accident rendered the precaution useless, the whole party in the other vessel catching sight of my companion at the same moment.

"This is an agreeable surprise!" called out Emily, in whose eyes Rupert's sister could not be an object of indifference. "By your brother's and Mrs. Drewett's account, we had supposed you at Clawbonny, by the bed-side of Miss Wallingford."

"Miss Wallingford is here, as are my father, and Mrs. Drewett, and--"

Lucy never let it be known who that other "and" was intended to include.

"Well, this is altogether surprising!" put in Rupert, with a steadiness of voice that really astounded me. "At the very moment we were giving you lots of credit for your constancy in friendship, and all that sort of thing, here you are, Mademoiselle Lucie, trotting off to the Springs, like all the rest of us, bent on pleasure."

"No, Rupert," answered Lucy, in a tone which I thought could not fail to bring the heartless coxcomb to some sense of the feeling he ought to manifest; "I am going to no Springs. Dr. Post has advised a change of scene and air for Grace; and Miles has brought us all up in his sloop, that we may endeavour to contribute to the dear sufferer's comfort, in one united family. We shall not land in Albany."

I took my cue from these last words, and understood that I was not even to bring the sloop alongside the wharf.

"Upon my word, it is just as she says, Colonel!" cried Rupert. "I can see my father on the forecastle, with Post, and divers others of my acquaintance. Ay--and there's Drewett, as I live! Wallingford, too! How fare you, noble captain, up in this fresh-water stream? You must be strangely out of your latitude."

"How do you do, Mr. Hardinge?" I coldly returned the salutation; and then I was obliged to speak to the Major and his daughter. But Neb was at the helm, and I had given him a sign to sheer further from our companion. This soon reduced the intercourse to a few wavings of handkerchiefs, and kissings of the hand, in which all the Drewetts came in for a share. As for Lucy, she walked aside, and I seized the occasion to get a word in private.

"What am I to do with the sloop?" I asked. "It will soon be necessary to come to some decision."

"By no means go to the wharf. Oh! this has been most cruel. The cabin-windows are open, and Grace must have heard every syllable. Not even a question as to her health! I dread to go below and witness the effect."

I wished not to speak of Rupert to his sister, and avoided the subject. The question, therefore, was simply repeated. Lucy inquired if it were not possible to land our passengers without bringing-up, and, hearing the truth on the subject, she renewed her entreaties not to land. Room was taken accordingly, and the sloop, as soon as high enough, was rounded-to, and the boat lowered. The portmanteau of Post was placed in it, and the Drewetts were told that everything was ready to put them ashore.

"Surely we are not to part thus!" exclaimed the old lady. "You intend to land, Lucy, if not to accompany us to Ballston? The waters might prove of service to Miss Wallingford."

"Dr. Post thinks not, but advises us to return tranquilly down the river. We may yet go as far as Sandy Hook, or even into the Sound. It all depends on dear Grace's strength and inclinations."

Protestations of regret and disappointment followed, for everybody appeared to think much of Lucy, and very little of my poor sister. Some attempts were even made at persuasion; but the quiet firmness of Lucy soon convinced her friends that she was not to be diverted from her purpose. Mr. Hardinge, too, had a word to say in confirmation of his daughter's decision; and the travellers reluctantly prepared to enter the boat. After he had assisted his mother over the sloop's side, Andrew Drewett turned to me, and in fair, gentleman-like, manly language, expressed his sense of the service I had rendered him. After this acknowledgment, the first he had made, I could do no less than shake his hand; and we parted in the manner of those who have conferred and received a favour.

I could perceive that Lucy's colour heightened, and that she looked exceedingly gratified, while this little scene was in the course of being acted, though I was unable to comprehend the precise feeling that was predominant in her honest and truthful heart. Did that increased colour proceed from pleasure at the handsome manner in which Drewett acquitted himself of one of the most embarrassing of all our duties--the admission of a deep obligation? or was it in any manner connected with her interest in me? I could not ask, and of course did not learn. This scene, however, terminated our intercourse with the Drewetts, for the moment; the boat pulling away immediately after.

Chapter II.

"----Misplaced in life,
I know not what I could have been, but feel
I am not what I should be--let it end."

Sardanapalus.

Glad enough was I to find the quiet and domestic character of my vessel restored. Lucy had vanished as soon as it was proper; but, agreeably to her request, I got the sloop's head down-stream, and began our return-passage, without even thinking of putting a foot on the then unknown land of Albany. Marble was too much accustomed to submit without inquiry to the movements of the vessel he was in, to raise any objections; and the Wallingford, her boat in tow, was soon turning down with the tide, aided by a light westerly wind, on her homeward course. This change kept all on deck so busy, that it was some little time ere I saw Lucy again. When we did meet, however, I found her sad, and full of apprehension. Grace had evidently been deeply hurt by Rupert's deportment. The effect on her frame was such, that it was desirable to let her be as little disturbed as possible. Lucy hoped she might fall asleep; for, like an infant, her exhausted physical powers sought relief in this resource, almost as often as the state of her mind would permit. Her existence, although I did not then know it, was like that of the flame which flickers in the air, and which is endangered by the slightest increase of the current to which the lamp may be exposed.

We succeeded in getting across the Overslaugh without touching, and had got down among the islands below Coejiman's,[1] when we were met by the new flood. The wind dying away to a calm, we were compelled to select a berth, and anchor. As soon as we were snug, I sought an interview with Lucy; but the dear girl sent me word by Chloe that Grace was dozing, and that she could not see me just at that moment, as her presence in the cabin was necessary in order to maintain silence. On receiving this message, I ordered the boat hauled up alongside; Marble, myself and Neb got in; when the black sculled us ashore--Chloe grinning at the latter's dexterity, as with one hand, and a mere play of the wrist, he caused the water to foam under the bows of our little bark.

[Footnote 1: Queemans, as pronounced. This is a Dutch, not an Indian name, and belongs to a respectable New York family.]

The spot where we landed was a small but lovely gravelly cove, that was shaded by three or four enormous weeping-willows, and presented the very picture of peace and repose. It was altogether a retired and rural bit, there being near it no regular landing, no reels for seines, nor any of those signs that denote a place of resort. A single cottage stood on a small natural terrace, elevated some ten or twelve feet above the rich bottom that sustained the willows. This cottage was the very beau idéal of rustic neatness and home comfort. It was of stone, one story in height, with a high pointed roof, and had a Dutch-looking gable that faced the river, and which contained the porch and outer door. The stones were white as the driven snow, having been washed a few weeks before. The windows had the charm of irregularity; and everything about the dwelling proclaimed a former century, and a regime different from that under which we were then living. In fact, the figures 1698, let in as iron braces to the wall of the gable, announced that the house was quite as old as the second structure at Clawbonny.

The garden of this cottage was not large, but it was in admirable order. It lay entirely in the rear of the dwelling; and behind it, again, a small orchard, containing about a hundred trees, on which the fruit began to show itself in abundance, lay against the sort of amphitheatre that almost enclosed this little nook against the intrusion and sight of the rest of the world. There were also half a dozen huge cherry trees, from which the fruit had not yet altogether disappeared, near the house, to which they served the double purpose of ornament and shade. The out-houses seemed to be as old as the dwelling, and were in quite as good order.

As we drew near the shore, I directed Neb to cease sculling, and sat gazing at this picture of retirement, and, apparently, of content, while the boat drew towards the gravelly beach, under the impetus already received.

"This is a hermitage I think I could stand, Miles," said Marble, whose look had not been off the spot since the moment we left the sloop's side. "This is what I should call a human hermitage, and none of your out and out solitudes Room for pigs and poultry; a nice gravelly beach for your boat; good fishing in the offing, I'll answer for it; a snug shoulder-of-mutton sort of a house; trees as big as a two-decker's lower masts; and company within hail, should a fellow happen to take it into his head that he was getting melancholy. This is just the spot I would like to fetch-up in, when it became time to go into dock. What a place to smoke a segar in is that bench up yonder, under the cherry tree; and grog must have a double flavour alongside of that spring of fresh water!"

"You could become the owner of this very place, Moses, and then we should be neighbours, and might visit each other by water. It cannot be much more than fifty miles from this spot to Clawbonny."

"I dare say, now, that they would think of asking, for a place like this, as much money as would buy a good wholesome ship--a regular A. No. 1."

"No such thing; a thousand or twelve hundred dollars would purchase the house, and all the land we can see--some twelve or fifteen acres, at the most. You have more than two thousand salted away, I know, Moses, between prize-money, wages, adventures, and other matters."

"I could hold my head up under two thousand, of a sartainty. I wish the place was a little nearer Clawbonny, say eight or ten miles off; and then I do think I should talk to the people about a trade."

"It's quite unnecessary, after all. I have quite as snug a cove, near the creek bluff at Clawbonny, and will build a house for you there, you shall not tell from a ship's cabin; that would be more to your fancy."

"I've thought of that, too, Miles, and at one time fancied it would be a prettyish sort of an idee; but it won't stand logarithms, at all. You may build a room that shall have its cabin look, but you can't build one that'll have a cabin natur' You may get carlins, and transoms, and lockers and bulkheads all right; but where are you to get your motion? What's a cabin without motion? It would soon be like the sea in the calm latitudes, offensive to the senses. No! none of your bloody motionless cabins for me. If I'm afloat, let me be afloat; if I'm ashore, let me be ashore."

Ashore we were by this time, the boat's keel grinding gently on the pebbles of the beach. We landed and walked towards the cottage, there being nothing about the place to forbid our taking this liberty. I told Marble we would ask for a drink of milk, two cows being in sight, cropping the rich herbage of a beautiful little pasture. This expedient at first seemed unnecessary, no one appearing about the place to question our motives, or to oppose our progress. When we reached the door of the cottage, we found it open, and could look within without violating any of the laws of civilization. There was no vestibule, or entry; but the door communicated directly with a room of some size, and which occupied the whole front of the building. I dare say this single room was twenty feet square, besides being of a height a little greater than was then customary in buildings of that class. This apartment was neatness itself. It had a home-made, but really pretty, carpet on the floor; contained a dozen old-fashioned, high-back chairs, in some dark wood; two or three tables, in which one might see his face; a couple of mirrors of no great size, but of quaint gilded ornaments; a beaufet with some real china in it; and the other usual articles of a country residence that was somewhat above the ordinary farm-houses of the region, and yet as much below the more modest of the abodes of the higher class. I supposed the cottage to be the residence of some small family that had seen more of life than was customary with the mere husbandman, and yet not enough to raise it much above the level of the husbandman's homely habits.

We were looking in from the porch, on this scene of rural peace and faultless neatness, when an inner door opened in the deliberate manner that betokens age, and the mistress of the cottage-appeared. She was a woman approaching seventy, of middle size, a quiet but firm step, and an air of health. Her dress was of the fashion of the previous century, plain, but as neat as everything around her--a spotless white apron seeming to bid defiance to the approach of anything that could soil its purity. The countenance of this old woman certainly did not betoken any of the refinement which is the result of education and good company; but it denoted benevolence, a kind nature, and feeling. We were saluted without surprise, and invited in, to be seated.

"It isn't often that sloops anchor here," said the old woman-lady, it would be a stretch of politeness to call her--their favouryte places being higher up, and lower down, the river."

"And how do you account for that, mother?" asked Marble, who seated himself and addressed the mistress of the cottage with a seaman's frankness. "To my fancy, this is the best anchorage I 've seen in many a day; one altogether to be coveted. One might be as much alone as he liked, in a spot like this, without absolutely turning your bloody hermit."

The old woman gazed at Marble like one who scarce know what to make of such an animal; and yet her look was mild and indulgent.

"I account for the boatmen's preferring other places to this," she said, "by the circumstance that there is no tavern here; while there is one two miles above, and another two miles below us."

"Your remark that there is no tavern here, reminds me of the necessity of apologizing for coming so boldly to your door," I answered; "but we sailors mean no impertinence, though we are so often guilty of it in landing."

"You are heartily welcome. I am glad to see them that understand how to treat an old woman kindly, and know how to pity and pardon them that do not. At my time of life we get to learn the value of fair words and good treatment, for it's only a short time it will be in our power to show either to our fellow-creatures."

"Your favourable disposition to your fellows comes from living all your days in a spot as sweet as this."

"I would much rather think that it comes from God. He alone is the source of all that is good within us."

"Yet a spot like this must have its influence on a character. I dare say you have lived long in this very house, which, old us you profess to be, seems to be much older than yourself. It has probably been your abode ever since your marriage?"

"And long before, sir. I was born in this house, as was my father before me. You are right in saying that I have dwelt in it ever since my marriage, for I dwelt in it long before."

"This is not very encouraging for my friend here, who took such a fancy to your cottage, as we came ashore, as to wish to own it; but I scarce think he will venture to purchase, now he knows how dear it must be to you."

"And has your friend no home--no place in which to put his family?"

"Neither home nor family, my good mother." answered Marble for himself; "and so much the greater reason, you will think, why I ought to begin to think of getting both as soon as possible. I never had father or mother, to my knowledge; nor house, nor home of any sort, but a ship. I forgot; I was a hermit once, and set myself up in that trade, with a whole island to myself; but I soon gave up all to natur', and got out of that scrape as fast as I could. The business didn't suit me."

The old woman looked at Marble intently. I could see by her countenance that the off-hand, sincere, earnest manner of the mate had taken some unusual hold of her feelings.

"Hermit!" the good woman repeated with curiosity; "I have often heard and read of such people; but you are not at all like them I have fancied to be hermits."

"Another proof I undertook a business for which I was not fit. I suppose a man before he sets up for a hermit ought to know something of his ancestors, as one looks to the pedigree of a horse in order to find out whether he is fit for a racer. Now, as I happen to know nothing of mine, it is no wonder I fell into a mistake. It's an awkward thing, old lady, for a man to be born without a name."

The eye of our hostess was still bright and full of animation, and I never saw a keener look than she fastened on the mate, as he delivered himself in this, one of his usual fits of misanthropical feeling.

"And were you born without a name?" she asked, after gazing intently at the other.

"Sartain. Everybody is born with only one name; but I happened to be born without any name at all."

"This is so extr'or'nary, sir," added our old hostess, more interested than I could have supposed possible for a stranger to become in Marble's rough bitterness, "that I should like to hear how such a thing could be."

"I am quite ready to tell you all about it, mother; but, as one good turn deserves another, I shall ask you first to answer me a few questions about the ownership of this house, and cove, and orchard. When you have told your story, I am ready to tell mine."

"I see how it is," said the old woman, in alarm. "You are sent here by Mr. Van Tassel, to inquire about the money due on the mortgage, and to learn whether it is likely to be paid or not."

"We are not sent here at all, my good old lady," I now thought it time to interpose, for the poor woman was very obviously much alarmed, and in a distress that even her aged and wrinkled countenance could not entirely conceal. "We are just what you see--people belonging to that sloop, who have come ashore to stretch their legs, and have never heard of any Mr. Van Tassel, or any money, or any mortgage."

"Thank Heaven for that!" exclaimed the old woman, seeming to relieve her mind, as well as body, by a heavy sigh. "'Squire Van Tassel is a hard man; and a widow woman, with no relative at hand but a grand-darter that is just sixteen, is scarce able to meet him. My poor old husband always maintained that the money had been paid; but, now he is dead and gone, 'Squire Van Tassel brings forth the bond and mortgage, and says, 'If you can prove that these are paid, I'm willing to give them up.'"

"This is so strange an occurrence, my dear old lady," I observed, "that you have only to make us acquainted with the facts, to get another supporter in addition to your grand-daughter. It is true, I am a stranger, and have come here purely by accident; but Providence sometimes appears to work in this mysterious manner, and I have a strong presentiment we may be of use to you. Relate your difficulties, then; and you shall have the best legal advice in the State, should your case require it."

The old woman seemed embarrassed; but, at the same time, she seemed touched. We were utter strangers to her, it is true; yet there is a language in sympathy which goes beyond that of the tongue, and which, coming from the heart, goes to the heart. I was quite sincere in my offers, and this sincerity appears to have produced its customary fruits. I was believed; and, after wiping away a tear or two that forced themselves into her eyes, our hostess answered me as frankly as I had offered my aid.

"You do not look like 'Squire Van Tassel's men, for they seem to me to think the place is theirs already. Such craving, covetous creatur's I never before laid eyes on! I hope I may trust you?"

"Depend on us, mother," cried Marble, giving the old woman a cordial squeeze of the hand. "My heart is in this business, for my mind was half made up, at first sight, to own this spot myself--by honest purchase, you'll understand me, and not by any of your land-shark tricks--and, such being the case, you can easily think I'm not inclined to let this Mr. Tassel have it,"

"It would be almost as sorrowful a thing to sell this place," the good woman answered, her countenance confirming all she said in words, "as to have it torn from me by knaves. I have told you that even my father was born in this very house. I was his only child; and when God called him away, which he did about twelve years after my marriage, the little farm came to me, of course. Mine it would have been at this moment, without let or hindrance of any sort, but for a fault committed in early youth. Ah! my friends, it is hopeless to do evil, and expect to escape the consequences."

"The evil you have done, my good mother," returned Marble, endeavouring to console the poor creature, down whose cheeks the tears now fairly began to run; "the evil you have done, my good mother, can be no great matter. If it was a question about a rough tar like myself, or even of Miles there, who's a sort of sea-saint, something might be made of it, I make no doubt; but your account must be pretty much all credit, and no debtor."

"That is a state that befalls none of earth, my young friend,"--Marble was young, compared to his companion, though a plump fifty,--"My sin was no less than to break one of God's commandments."

I could see that my mate was a good deal confounded at this ingenuous admission; for, in his eyes, breaking the commandments was either killing, stealing, or blaspheming. The other sins of the decalogue he had come by habit to regard as peccadilloes.

"I think this must be a mistake, mother," he said, in a sort of consoling tone. "You may have fallen into some oversights, or mistakes; but this breaking of the commandments is rather serious sort of work."

"Yet I broke the fifth; I forgot to honour my father and mother. Nevertheless, the Lord has been gracious; for my days have already reached threescore-and-ten. But this is His goodness--not any merit of my own!"

"Is it not a proof that the error has been forgiven?" I ventured to remark. "If penitence can purchase peace, I feel certain you have earned that relief."

"One never knows! I think this calamity of the mortgage, and the danger I run of dying without a roof to cover my head, may be all traced up to that one act of disobedience, I have been a mother myself--may say I am a mother now, for my grand-daughter is as dear to me as was her blessed mother--and it is when we look down, rather than when we look up, as it might be, that we get to understand the true virtue of this commandment."

"If it were impertinent curiosity that instigates the question, my old friend," I added, "it would not be in my power to look you in the face, as I do now, while begging you to let me know your difficulties. Tell them in your own manner, but tell them with confidence; for, I repeat, we have the power to assist you, and can command the best legal advice of the country."

Again the old woman looked at me intently through her spectacles; then, as if her mind was made up to confide in our honesty, she disburthened it of its secrets.

"It would be wrong to tell you a part of my story, without telling you all," she began; "for you might think Van Tassel and his set are alone to blame, while my conscience tells me that little has happened that is not a just punishment for my great sin. You'll have patience, therefore, with an old woman, and hear her whole tale; for mine is not a time of life to mislead any. The days of white-heads are numbered; and, was it not for Kitty, the blow would not be quite so hard on me. You must know, we are Dutch by origin--come of the ancient Hollanders of the colony--and were Van Duzers by name. It's like, friends," added the good woman, hesitating, "that you are Yankees by birth?"

"I cannot say I am," I answered, "though of English extraction. My family is long of New York, but it does not mount back quite as far as the time of the Hollanders."

"And your friend? He is silent; perhaps he is of New England? I would not wish to hurt his feelings, for my story will bear a little hard, perhaps, on his love of home."

"Never mind me, mother, but rowse it all up like entered cargo," said Marble, in his usual bitter way when alluding to his own birth. "There's not the man breathing that one can speak more freely before on such matters, than Moses Marble."

"Marble!--that's a hard name," returned the woman slightly smiling; "but a name is not a heart. My parents were Dutch; and you may have heard how it was before the Revolution, between the Dutch and the Yankees. Near neighbours, they did not love each other. The Yankees said the Dutch were fools, and the Dutch said the Yankees were knaves. Now, as you may easily suppose, I was born before the Revolution, when King George II. was on the throne and ruled the country; and though it was long after the English got to be our masters, it was before our people had forgotten their language and their traditions. My father himself was born after the English governors came among us, as I've heard him say; but it mattered not--he loved Holland to the last, and the customs of his fathers."

"All quite right, mother," said Marble, a little impatiently; "but what of all that? It's as nat'ral for a Dutchman to love Holland, as it is for an Englishman to love Hollands. I've been in the Low Countries, and must say it's a muskrat sort of a life the people lead; neither afloat nor ashore."

The old woman regarded Marble with more respect after this declaration; for in that day, a travelled man was highly esteemed among us. In her eyes, it was a greater exploit to have seen Amsterdam, than it would now be to visit Jerusalem. Indeed, it is getting rather discreditable to a man of the world not to have seen the Pyramids, the Red Sea, and the Jordan.

"My father loved it not the less, though he never saw the land of his ancestors," resumed the old woman. "Notwithstanding the jealousy of the Yankees, among us Dutch, and the mutual dislike, many of the former came among us to seek their fortunes. They are not a home-staying people, it would seem; and I cannot deny that cases have happened in which they have been known to get away the farms of some of the Netherlands stock, in a way that it would have been better not to have happened."

"You speak considerately, my dear woman," I remarked, "and like one that has charity for all human failing."

"I ought to do so for my own sins, and I ought to do so to them of New England; for my own husband was of that race."

"Ay, now the story is coming round regularly, Miles," said Marble, nodding his head in approbation. "It will touch on love next, and, if trouble do not follow, set me down as an ill-nat'red old bachelor. Love in a man's heart is like getting heated cotton, or shifting ballast, into a ship's hold."

"I must confess to it," continued our hostess, smiling in spite of her real sorrows--sorrows that were revived by thus recalling the events of her early life--"a young man of Yankee birth came among us as a schoolmaster, when I was only fifteen. Our people were anxious enough to have us all taught to read English, for many had found the disadvantage of being ignorant of the language of their rulers, and of the laws. I was sent to George Wetmore's school, like most of the other young people of the neighbourhood, and remained his scholar for three years. If you were on the hill above the orchard yonder, you might see the school-house at this moment; for it is only a short walk from our place, and a walk that I made four times a day for just three years."

"One can see how the land lies now," cried Marble, lighting a segar, for he thought no apology necessary for smoking under a Dutch roof. "The master taught his scholar something more than he found in the spelling-book, or the catechism. We'll take your word about the school-house, seeing it is out of view."

"It was out of sight, truly, and that may have been the reason my parents took it so hard when George Wetmore asked their leave to marry me. This was not done until he had walked home with me, or as near home as the brow on yon hill, for a whole twelvemonth, and had served a servitude almost as long, and as patient, as that of Jacob for Rachel."

"Well, mother, how did the old people receive the question? Like good-natured parents, I hope, for George's sake."

"Rather say like the children of Holland, judging of the children of New England. They would not hear of it, but wished me to marry my own cousin, Petrus Storm, who was not greatly beloved even in his own family."

"Of course you down anchor, and said you never would quit the moorings of home?"

"If I rightly understand you, sir, I did something very different. I got privately married to George, and he kept school near a twelvemonth longer, up behind the hill, though most of the young women were taken away from his teaching."

"Ay, the old way; the door was locked after the horse was stolen! Well, you were married, mother----"

"After a time, it was necessary for me to visit a kinswoman who lived a little down the river. There my first child was born, unknown to my parents; and George gave it in charge to a poor woman who had lost her own babe, for we were still afraid to let our secret be known to my parents. Now commenced the punishment for breaking the fifth commandment."

"How's that, Miles?" demanded Moses. "Is it ag'in the commandments for a married woman to have a son?"

"Certainly not, my friend; though it is a breach of the commandments not to honour our parents. This good woman alludes to her marrying contrary to the wishes of her father and mother."

"Indeed I do, sir, and dearly have I been punished for it. In a few weeks I returned home, and was followed by the sad news of the death of my first-born. The grief of these tidings drew the secret from me; and nature spoke so loud in the hearts of my poor parents, that they forgave all, took George home, and ever afterwards treated him as if he also had been their own child. But it was too late; had it happened a few weeks earlier, my own precious babe might have been saved to me."

"You cannot know that, mother; we all die when our time comes."

"His time had not come. The miserable wretch to whom George trusted the boy, exposed him among strangers, to save herself trouble, and to obtain twenty dollars at as cheap a rate as possible----"

"Hold!" I interrupted. "In the name of Heaven, my good woman, in what year did this occur?"

Marble looked at me in astonishment, though he clearly had glimpses of the object of my question.

"It was in the month of June, 17--. For thirty long, long years, I supposed my child had actually died; and then the mere force of conscience told me the truth. The wretched woman could not carry the secret with her into the grave, and she sent for me to hear the sad revelation."

"Which was to say that she left the child in a basket, on a tombstone, in a marble-worker's yard, in town; in the yard of a man whose name was Durfee?" I said, as rapidly as I could speak.

"She did, indeed! though it is a marvel to me that a stranger should know this. What will be God's pleasure next?"

Marble groaned. He hid his face in his hands, while the poor woman looked from one of us to the other, in bewildered expectation of what was to follow. I could not leave her long in doubt; but, preparing her for what was to follow, by little and little I gave her to understand that the man she saw before her was her son. After half a century of separation, the mother and child had thus been thrown together by the agency of an inscrutable Providence! The reader will readily anticipate the character of the explanations that succeeded. Of the truth of the circumstances there could not be a shadow of doubt, when everything was related and compared. Mrs. Wetmore had ascertained from her unfaithful nurse the history of her child as far as the alms-house; but thirty years had left a gap in the information she received, and it was impossible for her to obtain the name under which he had left that institution. The Revolution was just over when she made her application, and it was thought that some of the books had been taken away by a refugee. Still, there were a plenty of persons to supply traditions and conjecture; and so anxious were she and her husband to trace these groundless reports to their confirmation or refutation, that much money and time were thrown away in the fruitless attempts. At length, one of the old attendants of the children's department was discovered, who professed to know the whole history of the child brought from the stone-cutter's yard. This woman doubtless was honest, but her memory had deceived her. She said that the boy had been called Stone, instead of Marble; a mistake that was natural enough in itself, but which was probably owing to the fact that another child of the first name had really left the institution a few months before Moses took his leave. This Aaron Stone had been traced, first, as an apprentice to a tradesman; thence into a regiment of foot in the British army, which regiment had accompanied the rest of the forces, at the evacuation, November 25th, 1783.

The Wetmores fancied they were now on the track of their child. He was traced down to a period within a twelvemonth of that of the search, and was probably to be found in England, still wearing the livery of the king. After a long consultation between the disconsolate parents, it was determined that George Wetmore should sail for England in the hope of recovering their son. But, by this time, money was scarce. These worthy people were enabled to live in comfort on their little farm, but they were not rich in cash. All the loose coin was gone in the previous search, and even a small debt had been contracted to enable them to proceed as far as they had. No alternative remained but to mortgage their home. This was done with great reluctance; but what will not a parent do for his child? A country lawyer, of the name of Van Tassel, was ready enough to advance five hundred on a place that was worth quite three thousand dollars. This man was one of the odious class of country usurers, a set of cormorants that is so much worse than their town counterparts, because their victims are usually objects of real, and not speculative distress, and as ignorant and unpractised as they are necessitous. It is wonderful with what far-sighted patience one of these wretches will bide his time, in order to effect a favourite acquisition. Mrs. Wetmore's little farm was very desirable to this 'Squire Van Tassel, for reasons in addition to its intrinsic value; and for years nothing could be kinder and more neighbourly than his indulgence. Interest was allowed to accumulate, until the whole debt amounted to the sum of a thousand dollars. In the mean time the father went to England, found the soldier after much trouble and expense, ascertained that Stone knew his parents, one of whom had died in the alms-house, and spent all his money.

Years of debt and anxiety succeeded, until the father sunk under his misfortunes. An only daughter also died, leaving Kitty a legacy to her widowed mother, the other parent having died even before her birth. Thus was Katharine Van Duzer, our old hostess, left to struggle on nearly alone, at the decline of life, with a poverty that was daily increasing, years, and this infant grand-daughter. Just before his death, however, George Wetmore had succeeded in selling a portion of his farm, that which was least valuable to himself, and with the money he paid off Van Tassel's mortgage. This was his own account of the matter, and he showed to his wife Van Tassel's receipt, the money having been paid at the county town, where the bond and mortgage could not be then produced. This was shortly before Wetmore's last illness. A twelvemonth after his death, the widow was advised to demand the bond, and to take the mortgage off record. But the receipt was not to be found. With a woman's ignorance of such matters, the widow let this fact leak out; and her subsequent demand for the release was met with a counter one for evidence of payment. This was the commencement of Van Tassel's hostile attitude; and things had gone as far as a foreclosure, and an advertisement for a sale, when the good woman thus opportunely discovered her son!

Chapter III.

      I charge you by the law,
Whereof you are a well-deserving pillar,
Proceed to judgment: by my soul I swear
There is no power in the tongue of man
To alter me: I stay here on my bond.

Shylock.

It is not easy to describe the immediate effect of this discovery on either of the parties most concerned. Not a doubt remained on the mind of either, after the facts were explained, of the reality of the relationship; for that was so simply proved, as to place the circumstance beyond all dispute. Mrs. Wetmore thought of her lost son as of an innocent smiling babe; and here she found him a red-faced, hard-featured, weather-beaten tar, already verging towards age, and a man of manners that were rough, if not rude. She could not at first possess any knowledge of the better points in his character, and was compelled to receive this boon from Providence as it was offered. Nevertheless, a mother's love is not easily dissatisfied, or smothered; and, ere I left the house, I could see the old woman's eyes fixed on Marble with an expression of interest and tenderness they had not manifested previously to the revelations.

As for the mate himself, now that the fondest wish of his life was so unexpectedly gratified, he was taken so much by surprise that he appeared to think something was wanting. He found his mother the reputable widow of a reputable man, of a class in life quite equal to his own, living on a property that was small, certainly, and involved, but property that had been long in her family. The truth was, Marble felt so much at this unlooked-for appeal to his gentler feelings, that one of his stern nature did not know how to answer it on the emergency; and the obstinacy of his temperament rather induced him to resist, than to yield to such unwonted sentiments, I could see he was satisfied with his mother, while he was scarcely satisfied with himself; and, with a view to place both parties in truer positions, I desired Moses to walk down and look at the boat, while I remained alone with his new-found parent. This was not done, however, until all the explanations had been made, and the mother had both blessed and wept over her child. It was done, indeed, principally to relieve Marble from the oppression of feeling created by this very scene.

As soon as alone with Mrs. Wetmore, I explained to her my own connection with Marble, and gave her a sort of apologetic account of his life and character, keeping down the weak points, and dwelling on the strong. I set her mind at ease, at once, on the subject of the farm; for, should the worst happen, her son had double the amount of money that would be necessary to discharge the mortgage.

"The debt was incurred, my dear Mrs. Wetmore, in his behalf; and he will be happy to discharge it on the spot. I would advise you to pay the money at once. Should the receipt ever be found, this Van Tassel will be obliged to refund; for, though the law winks at many wrongs, it will not wink at one so atrocious as this, provided you can satisfy it with proof. I shall leave Moses----"

"His name is Oloff, or Oliver," interrupted the old woman easerly "I named him after my own father, and had him duly christened, before he was entrusted to the nurse, in the hope it might soften his grandfather's heart, when he came to know of my marriage. Oloff Van Duzer Wetmore is his real name."

I smiled to think of Marble's sailing under such an appellation, and was about to suggest a compromise, when the subject of our discourse returned. The mate had regained his composure during the half-hour he had been absent; and I saw by the kind glance he threw on his mother, whose look answered his own more naturally than I could have hoped, that things were getting right; and, by way of removing the awkwardness of excessive sensibility, I pursued the discourse.

"We were talking of your true name, Moses, as you came in," I said. "It will never do for you to hail by one name, while your mother hails by another. You'll have to cut adrift from Moses Marble altogether."

"If I do, may I be----"

"Hush, hush--you forget where you are, and in whose presence you stand."

"I hope my son will soon learn that he is always in the presence of his God," observed the mother, plaintively.

"Ay, ay--that's all right, mother, and you shall do with me just what you please in any of them matters; but as for not being Moses Marble, you might as well ask me not to be myself. I should be another man, to change my name. A fellow might as well go without clothes, as go without a name; and mine came so hard, I don't like to part with it. No, no--had it come to pass, now, that my parents had been a king and a queen, and that I was to succeed 'em on the throne, I should reign as King Moses Marble, or not reign at all."

"You'll think better of this, and take out a new register under your lawful designation."

"I'll tell you what I'll do, mother, and that will satisfy all parties. I'll bend on the old name to the new one, and sail under both."

"I care not how you are called, my son, so long as no one has need to blush for the name you bear. This gentleman tells me you are an honest and true-hearted man; and those are blessings for which I shall never cease to thank God."

"Miles has been singing my praises, has he! I can tell you, mother, you had need look out for Miles's tongue Natur' intended him for a lawyer, and it's mere accident his being a sailor, though a capital one he is. But what may be my name, according to law?"

"Oloff Van Duser Wetmore Moses Marble, according to your own expedient of sailing under all your titles. You can ring the changes, however, and call yourself Moses Oloff Marble Van Duser Wetmore, if you like that better."

Moses laughed, and as I saw that both he and his new-found mother were in a fit state to be left together, and that the sun now wanted but an hour or two of setting, I rose to take my leave.

"You will remain with your mother to-night, Marble," I observed. "I will keep the sloop at an anchor until I can see you in the morning, when we will settle the future a little more deliberately."

"I should not like to lose my son so soon after finding him," the old woman anxiously remarked.

"No fear of me, mother--I berth under your roof to-night, and so many more in the bargain, that you'll be glad enough to be rid of me in the end."

I then left the house, followed by Marble, towards the boat. As we reached the little piece of bottom-land, I heard a sort of suppressed sob from the mate, and, turning round, was surprised to see the tears running down his sun-burned cheeks. His wrought-up feelings had at last obtained the mastery; and this rude, but honest creature, had fairly given in, under the excitement of this strange admixture of joy, wonder, shame, and natural emotion. I took his hand, gave it a hearty squeeze, but said nothing; though I stopped, unwilling to go nearer to Neb until my companion had regained his composure. This he did, sufficiently to speak, in the course of a minute or two.

"It's all like a dream-to me, Miles," Moses at length muttered--"more out of natur' like, than setting up for a hermit."

"You'll soon get accustomed to the change, Marble; then everything will seem in the ordinary way, and natural."

"To think of my being a son, and having a real, living mother!"

"You must have known that you had parents once, though you are fortunate in finding one of them alive at your time of life."

"And she an honest woman! A mother the President of the United States, or the first commodore in the navy, needn't be ashamed of!"

"All that is fortunate, certainly; especially the first."

"She's a bloody good-looking old woman in the bargain. I'll have her dressed up and carry her down to town, the first opportunity."

"What would you give an old woman that trouble for? You'll think better of these matters, in the long run."

"Better! Yes, I'll take her to Philadelphia, and perhaps to Baltimore. There's the gardens, and the theatres, and the museums, and lots of things that I dare say the dear old soul never laid eyes on."

"I'm mistaken in your mother, if she would not prefer a church to all of them put together."

"Well, there's churches in all of them towns. Put it on a religious footing, if you will, and I ought to take my mother as soon as possible down to York. She's old, you see, and cannot live for ever, just to oblige me; and here has she been tied down to one church all her days, giving her no ch'ice nor opportunity. I dare say, now, variety is just as agreeable in religion, as in anything else."

"You are nearer right there, Moses, than you think yourself, possibly. But we can talk of all these things to-morrow. A good night's rest will give us cooler heads in the morning."

"I shall not sleep a wink for thinking of it. No, no--I'll make the old lady pack up before breakfast, and we'll sail in the sloop. I'll take her aboard the Dawn with me in town, and a comfortable time we'll have of it in her cabins. She has as good state-rooms as a yacht."

There were no liners in those days; but a ship with two cabins was a miracle of convenience.

"Your mother will hardly suit a ship, Moses; and a ship will hardly suit your mother."

"How can any of us know that till we try? If I'm a chip of the old block, they'll take to each other like rum and water. If I'm to go out in the ship, I'm far from certain I'll not take the old woman to sea with me."

"You'll probably remain at home, now that you have a home, and a mother, and other duties to attend to. I and my concerns will be but secondary objects with you hereafter, Mr. Wetmore."

"Wetmore be d----d! D'ye mean, Miles, that I'm to give up my calling, give up the sea, give up you?"

"You wished to be a hermit once, and found it a little too solitary; had you a companion or two, you would have been satisfied, you said. Well, here is everything you can wish; a mother, a niece, a house, a farm, barns, out-houses, garden and orchard; and, seated on that porch, you can smoke segars, take your grog, look at the craft going up and down the Hudson----"

"Nothing but so many bloody sloops," growled the mate. "Such in-and-in fore-and-afters that their booms won't stay guyed-out, even after you've been at the pains to use a hawser."

"Well, a sloop is a pleasant object to a sailor, when he can set nothing better. Then there is this Mr. Van Tassel to settle with--you may have a ten years' law-suit on your hands, to amuse you."

"I'll make short work with that scamp, when I fall in with him. You're right enough, Miles; that affair must be settled before I can lift an anchor. My mother tells me he lives hard by, and can be seen, at any moment, in a quarter of an hour. I'll pay him a visit this very night."

This declaration caused me to pause. I knew Marble too well, not to foresee trouble if he were left to himself in a matter of this nature, and thought it might be well to inquire further into the affair. Sailors do everything off-hand. Mrs. Wetmore telling me that her son's statement was true, on my going back to the house to question her in the matter, and offering us the use of an old-fashioned one-horse chaise, that the only farm-labourer she employed was just then getting ready to go in, in quest of Kitty, I availed myself of the opportunity, took the printed advertisement of the sale to read as we went along, obtained our directions, and off Marble and I went in quest of the usurer.

There would be sufficient time for all our purposes. It is true that the horse, like the house, its owner, the labourer, the chaise, and all we had yet seen about Willow Cove, as we had learned the place was called, was old; but he was the more safe and sure. The road led up the ascent by a ravine, through which it wound its way very prettily; the labourer walking by our side to point out the route, after we should reach the elevation of the country that stretched inland.

The view from the height, as it might be termed in reference to the river, though it was merely on the level of the whole region in that portion of the State, was both extensive and pretty. Willow Grove, as Marble called his mother's place three or four times, while our horse was working his way up the ascent, looked more invitingly than ever, with its verdant declivities, rich orchards, neat cottage, all ensconced behind the sheltering cover of the river heights. Inland, we saw a hundred farms, groves without number, divers roads, a hamlet within a mile of us, an old-fashioned extinguisher-looking church-spire, and various houses of wood painted white, with here and there a piece of rustic antiquity in bricks, or stone, washed with lime; or some livelier paint; for the Dutch of New York had brought the habits of Holland with them, delighting in colours. This relief may be desirable in a part of the world where the eternal green of the meadows in a manner fatigues the eye; but certainly the grey of nature has no just competitor in the tints of the more artificial portions of the ordinary landscape. White may make a scene look gay; but it can never lend it dignity, or the solemn hues that so often render the loveliness of a view impressive, as well as sweet. When this glaring colour reaches the fences, it gives the prettiest landscape the air of a bleaching-yard, or of a great laundry, with the clothes hung out to dry!

The guide pointed out to us the house of Van Tassel, and another at which we should find Kitty, who was to be brought home by us on our return. Understanding the course and distance, we put to sea without any misgivings. The horse was no flyer, and Marble and I had plenty of leisure to arrange preliminaries before reaching the door to which we were bound. After some consultation, and a good of discussion, I succeeded in persuading my companion it would not be wisest to break ground by flogging the attorney--a procedure to which he was strongly inclined. It was settled, however, he was at once to declare himself to be Mrs. Wetmore's son, and to demand his explanations in that character; one that would clearly give him every claim to be heard.

"I know what these usurers, as you call 'em, Miles, must be," said the mate. "They are a sort of in-shore pawn-brokers; and the Lord have mercy on them, for I'll have none. I've had occasion to pawn a watch, or a quadrant, in my time; and bloody poor prices does a fellow get for his goods and chattels. Yes, yes; I'll let the old gentleman know, at once, I'm Van Duzer Oloff Marble Wetmore Moses, or whatever's my name; and will stand up for the right in a fashion that will surprise him: but what are you to do in the mean time?"

It struck me, if I could get Marble to attempt practising a sort of ruse, it would have the effect to prevent his resorting to club-law, towards which I knew he had a strong natural disposition, and of which I was still a little afraid. With this object, then, I conceived the following scheme.

"You shall simply introduce me as Mr. Miles Wallingford," I said, "but in a formal manner, that may induce this Mr. Van Tassel to-imagine I'm a sort of lawyer; and this may have the effect to awe him, and bring him to terms the easier. Do not say I am a lawyer, for that will not be true, and it will also be awkward falling back when the truth comes to be known."

Marble took the idea, and seemed pleased with it, though he affirmed that there could be no such thing as acting lawyer without lying a little, and that "the truth was too good for one of your bloody usurers." I got him trained, however, by the time we reached the door; and we alighted as well prepared for our task as could be expected.

There was nothing about the residence of 'Squire Van Tassel to denote the grasping money-dealer, unless a certain negligence of the exterior might be supposed to betray the abode of such a man. His friends wished to ascribe this to an indifference to appearances; but the multitude, more accurately imputed it to parsimony. When the very soul gets to be absorbed in the process of rolling gold over and over, in order to make it accumulate, the spirit grudges the withdrawal of the smallest fraction from the gainful pursuit; and here lies the secret of the disdain of appearances that is so generally to be met with in this description of persons. Beyond this air of negligence, however, the dwelling of Van Tassel was not to be distinguished from those of most of the better houses of that part of the country. Our application for admission was favourably received, and, in a minute, we were shown into the attorney's office.

'Squire Van Tassel, as this man was universally termed, eyed us keenly as we entered, no doubt with a view to ascertain if we were borrowers. I might possibly have passed for one of that character, for I aimed at looking serious and thoughtful; but I would defy any man to mistake Moses for one who came on such an errand. He looked more like a messenger sent by the Father of Sin, to demand the payment of a certain bond that had been signed in blood, and of which the fatal pay-day had at length arrived. I had to give the skirt of his coat a pull, in order to recall him to our agreement, else I do think the first salutation received by the attorney, would have been a broadside in anything but words. The hint succeeded, and Marble permitted our host to open the communications.

Squire Van Tassel had a very miserly exterior. He even looked ill fed; though doubtless this appearance was more a consequence of habit of body, than of short-feeding. He wore spectacles with black rims, and had the common practice of looking over them at objects at a distance, which gave him an air still more watchful than that which he imbibed from character. His stature was small, and his years about sixty, an age when the accumulation of money begins to bring as much pain as pleasure; for it is a period of life when men cannot fail to see the termination of their earthly schemes. Of all the passions, however, avarice is notoriously that which the latest loosens its hold on the human heart.

"Your servant, gentlemen," commenced the attorney, in a manner that was civil enough; "your servant; I beg you to help yourselves to chairs." We all three took seats, at this invitation. "A pleasant evening," eyeing us still more keenly over his glasses, "and weather that is good for the crops. If the wars continue much longer in Europe," another look over the glasses, "we shall sell all the substance out of our lands, in order to send the belligerents wheat. I begin to look on real estate security as considerably less valuable than it was, when hostilities commenced in 1793, and as daily growing less and less so."

"Ay, you may say that," Marble bluntly answered; "particularly the farms of widows and orphans."

The "'Squire" was a little startled at this unexpected reply. He looked intently at each of us again, over the spectacles; and then asked, in a manner divided between courtesy and authority--

"May I inquire your names, and the object of this visit?"

"Sartain," said Marble. "That's reasonable and your right. We are not ashamed of our names, nor of our errand. As for the last, Mr. Van Tassell, you'll know it sooner than you will wish to know it; but, to begin at the right end, this gentleman with me, is Mr. Miles Wallingford, a partic'lar friend of old Mrs. Wetmore, who lives a bit down the road yonder, at a farm called Willow Grove; 'Squire Wallingford, sir, is her friend, and my friend, and I've great pleasure in making you acquainted with him."

"I am happy to see the gentleman," answered Van Tassel, taking another look, while at the same time he glanced his eye at an alphabetical list of the attorneys and counsellors, to see what place I occupied among them. "Very happy to see the gentleman, who has quite lately commenced practice, I should think by his age, and my not remembering the name."

"There must be a beginning to all things, Mr. Van Tassel," I replied, with a calmness that I could see the old usurer did not like.

"Very true, sir, and I hope your future success will be in proportion to the lateness of your appearance at the bar. Your companion has much more the air of a sailor than of a lawyer."--This was true enough, there being no mistaking Marble's character, though I had put on a body-coat to come ashore in;--"I presume he is not in the practice."

"That remains to be seen, sir." answered Marble. "Having told you my friend's name, Mr. Van Tassel, I will now tell you my own. I am called Moses Marble Wetmore Van Duser Oloff, sir, or some such bloody thing; and you're welcome to take your pick out of the whole list. I'll answer to either of them aliases."

"This is so extraordinary and unusual, gentlemen, I scarce know what to make of it. Has this visit any connection with Mrs. Wetmore, or her farm, or the mortgage I have been foreclosing on the last?"

"It has, sir; and I am that Mrs. Wetmore's son--yes sir, the only child of that dear, good, old soul."

"The son of Mrs. Wetmore!" exclaimed Van Tassel, both surprised and uneasy. "I knew there was a son; but I have been always told it was impossible to find him. I see no resemblance, sir, in you to either George Wetmore, or Kitty Van Duser."

Now this was not altogether true. As for George Wetmore, they who had known him in middle age, afterwards declared that Moses did resemble him greatly; while I, myself, could trace in the mouth and milder expression of the mate's features, a strong likeness to the subdued character of his aged mother's face. This resemblance would not have been observed, in all probability, without a knowledge of the affinity that existed between the parties; but, with that knowledge, it was not easy to overlook.

"Resemblance!" repeated Marble, much in the tone of one who is ready to quarrel on the slightest provocation; "how should there be any resemblance, after the life I've led. In the first place, I was carried out of my mother's sight in less than ten days after I was born. Then I was placed on a tombstone, by way of encouragement; after which, they sent me to live among paupers. I ran away at ten years old, and went to sea, where I've played the part of man-of-war's-man, privateer's-man, smuggler, mate, master, and all hands; everything, in short, but a pirate and mutineer. I've been a bloody hermit, Mr. Van Tassel, and if that won't take the resemblance to anything human out of a fellow, his face is as unchangeable as that on a gold coin."

"All this, Mr. Wallingford, is so unintelligible to me, that I shall have to ask you to explain it."

I can only add to it, sir, my belief that every word you hear is true. I am satisfied that this is, in a legal sense, Oloff Van Duser Wetmore, the only surviving child of George Wetmore and Catharine Van Duser. He has come to see you in relation to a claim you are said to hold against the farm his mother inherited from her parents."

"Said to hold!--I certainly do hold George Wetmore's bond, secured by a mortgage signed by his wife, balance due, including interest and costs, $963.42; and I am proceeding to sell, under the statute. One sale has been postponed, to oblige the widow; for a merciful man would not wish to press a single and aged woman, though I've lain out of my money a very long time. You are aware, sir, that I lose all my interest on interest, and must take up with just what the law will give; hardship enough in active times like these, when not a day passes that something good does not offer in the way of purchasing the best of securities, at liberal discounts. Trade is so lively, now, Mr. Wallingford, that men will almost sell their souls for money."

"I rather think, sir, that some men will do this at all times; nay, do it hourly, daily. But, I am instructed"--I could not help acting the counsel a little, on the occasion--"I am instructed that the bond of George Wetmore is paid in full."

"How can that be, sir, while I still hold bond and mortgage? As a business man, you must understand the value to be attached to the idle tales of women, and can see the danger of taking their gossip for authority. George Wetmore had some knowledge of business, and would not be likely to pay his bond without taking it up, or at least of obtaining a receipt; much less leave the mortgage on record."

"I am informed he did take your receipt, though he presumes he must have lost it with a missing pocket-book, which his widow supposes to have been dropped from his coat, the very day he returned from the court where he met you, and where he says he paid you the money, being anxious to stop interest as soon as possible."

"A very idle story, and one you do not suppose the chancellor will believe, confirmed by the hearsay of the party interested in preserving the property. You are aware, sir, that the sale can be stopped only by an injunction from the Court of Chancery."

Now, I was certainly no lawyer; but, like almost every American, I knew something of that branch of the jurisprudence of the country, which touched my own interests. As a land-holder, I had a little knowledge of the law of real estate, and was not absolutely ignorant of the manner in which matters were managed in that most searching of all tribunals, the Court of Chancery. A lucky thought suggested itself to my mind on the instant, and I made use of it on the spur of the moment.

"It is quite true, sir," I answered, "that any prudent judge might hesitate about entering a decree on authority no better than the oath of Mrs. Wetmore that she had heard her husband say he had paid the money; but you will remember that the party replying has to swear to his answer. All of us might be better satisfied in this affair, were you to make oath that the money was never paid."

This hit told; and from that moment I did not entertain a doubt that Wetmore had paid the money, and that Van Tassel retained a perfect recollection of the whole affair. This much I could read in the man's altered countenance and averted eye, though my impressions certainly were not proof. If not proof, however, for a court of justice, they served to enlist me earnestly in the pursuit of the affair, into which I entered warmly from that moment. In the meantime, I waited for Van Tassel's answer, watching his countenance the whole time, with a vigilance that I could easily see caused him great embarrassment.

"Kitty Wetmore and I were born neighbours' children," he said; "and this mortgage has given me more trouble than all the rest of my little possessions. That I have been in no hurry to foreclose is plain by the length of time I've suffered to go by, without claiming my dues. I could wait no longer, without endangering my rights, as there would be a presumption of payment after twenty years, and a presumption that would tell harder against me than old Kitty's oath. We are neighbours' children, as I've said, nevertheless, and rather than push matters to extremities I will consent to some sort of a compromise."

"And what sort of a compromise will be agreeable to your notions of justice, Mr. Van Tassel?"

"Why, sir, as Kitty is old, it would be a sad thing to drive her from the roof under which she was born. This I've said and thought from the first, and say, now. Still, I cannot part with my property without a compensation; though I'm willing to wait. I told Mrs. Wetmore, before advertising, that if she would give a new bond, making all clear, and giving me interest on the whole sum now due, I should be willing to grant her time. I now propose, however, as the simplest way of settling the affair, to accept from her a release of the equity of redemption, and to grant her a lease, for her own life, on a nominal rent."

Even Marble knew enough to see the rank injustice of such an offer. In addition to conceding the non-payment of the debt, it was securing to Van Tassel, at no distant day, the quiet possession of the farm, for somewhat less than one-third its value. I detected symptoms of an outbreak in the mate, and was obliged to repress it by a sign, while I kept the discussion in my own hands.

"Under such an arrangement, sir," I answered, "my friend here would be literally selling his birthright for a mess of porridge."

"You will remember, Mr. Wallingford, that a mortgage sale, legally made, is a ticklish thing, and the courts do not like to disturb one. This sale will take place, this day week; and the title once passed, it will not be so easy a matter to get it repassed. Mr. Wetmore, here, does not look like a man ready to pay down a thousand dollars."

"We shall not run the risk of letting the title pass. I will buy the property, myself, if necessary; and should it afterwards appear that the money has been actually paid, we believe you are sufficiently secure for principal, interest, and costs."

"You are young in the profession, Mr. Wallingford, and will come to learn the folly of advancing money for your clients."

"I am not in the profession at all, sir, as you have erroneously supposed, but am a ship-master; and Mr. Wetmore, or Marble, as he has hitherto been called, is my mate. Still, we are none the worse provided with the means of paying a thousand dollars--or twenty of them, should it be necessary."

"No lawyer!" cried Van Tassel, smiling grimly. "A couple of sailors about to dispute the foreclosure of a mortgage! Famous justice we should get at your hands, gentlemen! Well, well; I now see how it is, and that this has only been an attempt to work on my sympathies for an old woman who has been living on my money these twenty years. I rather think your $963.42, will prove to be of the same quality as your law."

"And, yet, it struck me, Mr. Van Tassel, that you rather disliked the idea of swearing to the truth of an answer to a certain bill in Chancery, which, if I cannot draw, one Abraham Van Vechten, of Albany, can!"

"Abraham Van Vechten is skilful counsel, and an honest man, and is riot likely to be employed in a cause that rests only on an old woman's hearsays--and all to save her own farm!"

Marble could keep silence no longer. He told me afterwards, that, during the dialogue, he had been taking the measure of the old usurer's foot, and felt it would be a disgrace to strike so feeble a creature; but, to sit and hear his newly-found mother sneered at, and her just rights derided, was more than his patience could endure. Rising abruptly, therefore, he broke out at once in one of the plainest philippics of the sea. I shall not repeat all he said; for, to render it justly, might be to render it offensive; but, in addition to calling old Van Tassel by a great many names that were as unusual as they were quaint, he called him by several that would be familiar to the ears of most of my readers, besides being perfectly well merited. I allowed his humour to find vent; and, giving the attorney to understand he should hear further from us, I succeeded in getting my companion to the wagon, without coming to blows. I could see that Van Tassel was very far from being at his ease, and that he would still gladly keep us, if he could, in the hope of bringing about some sort of a compromise, if possible; but I thought it wisest to let matters rest awhile, after the decided demonstration we had already made.

It was not an easy matter to get Marble into the vehicle; but this was no sooner effected, than I trotted him off, down the road, taking the direction of the house where we had been told to seek Kitty Huguenin, old Mrs. Wetmore's grand-daughter, who would be waiting the appearance of the chaise, in order to return home.

"You must put on a more amicable look," said I to the mate, as we went on our way, "or you'll frighten your niece; with whom, you will remember, you are about to make an acquaintance."

"The cheating vagabond, to take advantage of a poor, lonely, old woman, whose only husband was in the grave, and only son at sea!" the mate continued to mutter. "Talk about the commandments! I should like to know what commandment this was breaking. The whole six, in a batch."

"The tenth, I am inclined to think, my friend; and that is a commandment broken all day, and every day."

The denunciations of the mate continued for some time longer, and then went off like the rumbling of distant thunder in the heavens after the passage of the gust.

Chapter IV.

"No Moorish maid might hope to vie
With Laila's cheek, or Laila's eye;
No maiden loved with purer truth,
Or ever loved a lovelier youth."

Southey.

"Miles," said Moses, suddenly, after riding a short distance in silence, "I must quit the old lady, this very night, and go down with you to town. We must have that money up at the place of sale, in readiness for the vagabond; for, as to letting him have the smallest chance at Willow Grove, that is out of the question."

"As you please, Marble; but, now, get yourself in trim to meet another relation; the second you have laid eyes on in this world."

"Think of that, Miles! Think of my having two relations! A mother and a niece! Well, it is a true saying that it never rains but it pours."

"You probably have many more, uncles, aunts, and cousins in scores. The Dutch are famous for counting cousins; and no doubt you'll have calls on you from half the county."

I saw that Marble was perplexed, and did not know, at first, but he was getting to be embarrassed by this affluence of kindred. The mate, however, was not the man long to conceal his thoughts from me; and in the strength of his feelings he soon let his trouble be known.

"I say, Miles," he rejoined, "a fellow may be bothered with felicity, I find. Now, here, in ten minutes perhaps, I shall have to meet my sister's darter--my own, born, blood niece; a full-grown, and I dare say, a comely young woman; and, hang me if I know exactly what a man ought to say in such a state of the facts. Generalizing wont do with these near relations; and I suppose a sister's darter is pretty much the same to a chap as his own darter would be, provided he had one."

"Exactly; had you reasoned a month, you could not have hit upon a better solution of the difficulty than this. Treat this Kitty Huguenin just as you would treat Kitty Marble."

"Ay, ay; all this is easy enough aforehand, and to such scholars as you; but it comes hard on a fellow like myself to heave his idees out of him, as it might be, with a windlass. I managed the old woman right well, and could get along with a dozen mothers, better than with one sister's darter. Suppose she should turn out a girl with black eyes, and red cheeks, and all that sort of thing; I dare say she would expect me to kiss her?"

"Certainly; she will expect that, should her eyes even be white, and her cheeks black. Natural affection expects this much even among the least enlightened of the human race."

"I am disposed to do everything according to usage," returned Marble, quite innocently, and more discomposed by the situation in which he so unexpectedly found himself, than he might have been willing to own; "while, at the same time, I do not wish to do anything that is not expected from a son and an uncle. If these relations had only come one at a time."

"Poh, poh, Moses--do not be quarrelling with your good luck, just as it's at its height. Here is the house, and I'll engage one of those four girls is your niece--that with the bonnet, for a dollar; she being ready to go home, and the whole having come to the door, in consequence of seeing the chaise driving down the road. They are puzzled at finding us in it, however, instead of the usual driver."

Marble hemmed, attempted to clear his throat, pulled down both sleeves of his jacket, settled his black handkerchief to his mind, slily got rid of his quid, and otherwise "cleared ship for action," as he would have been very apt to describe his own preparations. After all, his heart failed him, at the pinch; and just as I was pulling up the horse, he said to me, in a voice so small and delicate, that it sounded odd to one who had heard the man's thunder, as he hailed yards and tops in gales of wind--

"Miles, my dear boy, I do not half like this business; suppose you get out, and open the matter to the ladies. There's four of them, you see, and that's three too many. Go, now, Miles, that's a good fellow, and I'll do the same for you another time. I can't have four nieces here, you'll own yourself."

"And while I am telling your story to your niece, your own sister's daughter, what will you be doing here, pray?"

"Doing?--Why anything, my dear Miles, that can be useful--I say, boy, do you think she looks anything like me? When you get nearer, if you should think so, just hold up a hand as a signal, that I may not be taken by surprise. Yes, yes; you go first, and I'll follow; and as for 'doing,' why, you know, I can hold this bloody horse."

I laughed, threw the reins to Marble, who seized them with both hands, as if the beast required holding, while I alighted, and walked to the cluster of girls, who awaited my movements in surprise and silence. Since that day; I have seen more of the world than might have been expected in one of my early career; and often have I had occasion to remark the tendency there exists to extremes in most things; in manners as well as in every other matter connected with human feelings. As we become sophisticated, acting takes the place of nature, and men and women often affect the greatest indifference in cases in which they feel the liveliest interest. This is the source of the ultra sang froid of what is termed high breeding, which would have caused the four young women, who then stood in the door-yard of the respectable farm-house at which I had alighted, to assume an air as cold, and as marble-like, at the sudden appearance of Mrs. Wetmore's chaise, containing two strange faces, as if they had been long expecting our arrival, and were a little displeased it had not occurred an hour sooner. Such, however, was not my reception. Though the four girls were all youthful, blooming, pretty, delicate in appearance, according to the fashion of American women, and tolerably well attired, they had none of the calm exterior of conventional manner. One would speak quick to another; looks of surprise were often exchanged; there were not a few downright giggles, and then each put on as dignified an air to meet the stranger as, under the circumstances, she could assume.

"I presume Miss Kitty Huguenin is among you, young ladies," I commenced, bowing as civilly as was necessary; "for this appears to be the house to which we were directed."

A girl of about sixteen, of decidedly pleasing appearance, and one who bore a sufficient resemblance to old Mrs. Wetmore to be recognised, advanced a step out of the group, a little eagerly, and then as suddenly checked herself, with the timidity of her years and sex, as if afraid of going too far.

"I am Kitty," she said, changing colour once or twice; now flushing and now growing pale--"Is any thing the matter, sir--has grandmother sent for me?"

"Nothing is the matter, unless you can call good news something the matter. We have just left your grandmother's on business, having been up to 'Squire Van Tassel's on her affairs; rather than let us go on foot, she lent us her chaise, on condition that we should stop on our return and bring you home with us. The chaise is the evidence that we act under orders."

In most countries, such a proposition would have excited distrust; in America, and in that day, more especially among girls of the class of Kitty Huguenin, it produced none. Then, I flatter myself, I was not a very frightful object to a girl of that age, and that my countenance was not of such a cast as absolutely to alarm her. Kitty, accordingly, wished her companions hasty adieus, and in a minute she was placed between Marble and myself, the old vehicle being sufficiently spacious to accommodate three. I made my bows and away we trotted, or ambled would be a better word. For a brief space there was silence in the chaise, though I could detect Marble stealing side-long glances at his pretty little niece. His eyes were moist, and he hemmed violently once, and actually blew his nose, taking occasion, at the same time, to pass his handkerchief over his forehead, no less than three times in as many minutes. The furtive manner in which he indulged in these feelings, provoked me to say--

"You appear to have a bad cold this evening, Mr. Wetmore," for I thought the opportunity might also be improved, in the way of breaking ground with our secret.

"Ay, you know how it is in these matters, Miles--somehow, I scarce know why myself, but somehow I feel bloody womanish this evening."

I felt little Kitty pressing closer to my side, as if she had certain misgivings touching her other neighbour.

"I suppose you are surprised, Miss Kitty," I resumed, "at finding two strangers in your grandmother's chaise?"

"I did not expect it--but--you said you had been to Mr. Van Tassel's, and that there was good news for me--does 'Squire Van Tassel allow that grandfather paid him the money?"

"Not that exactly, but you have friends who will see that no wrong shall be done you. I suppose you have been afraid your grandmother and yourself might be turned away from the old place?"

"'Squire Van Tassel's daughters have boasted as much,"--answered Kitty, in a very subdued tone--a voice, indeed, that grew lower and more tremulous as she proceeded--"but I don't much mind them, for they think their father is to own the whole country one of these days." This was uttered with spirit. "But the old house was built by grandmother's grandfather, they say, and grandmother was born in it, and mother was born in it, and so was I. It is hard to leave a place like that, sir, and for a debt, too, that grandmother says she is sure has once been paid."

"Ay, bloody hard!" growled Marble.

Kitty again pressed nearer to me, or, to speak more properly, farther from the mate, whose countenance was particularity grim just at that moment.

"All that you say is very true, Kitty," I replied; "but Providence has sent you friends to take care that no wrong shall be done your grandmother, or yourself."

"You're right enough in that, Miles," put in the mate. "God bless the old lady; she shall never sleep out of the house, with my consent, unless it is when she sails down the river to go to the theatre, and the museum, the ten or fifteen Dutch churches there are in town, and all them 'ere sort o' thingumerees."

Kitty gazed at her left-hand neighbour with surprise, but I could feel that maiden bashfulness induced her to press less closely to my side than she had done the minute before.

"I don't understand you," Kitty answered, after a short pause, during which she was doubtless endeavouring to comprehend what she had heard. "Grandmother has no wish to go to town; she only wants to pass the rest of her days, quietly, at the old place, and one church is enough for anybody."

Had the little girl lived a few years later, she would have ascertained that some persons require half-a-dozen.

"And you, Kitty, do you suppose your grandmother has no thought for you, when she shall be called away herself?

"Oh! yes--I know she thinks a good deal of that, but I try to set her heart at ease, poor, dear, old grandmother, for it's of no use to be distressing herself about me! I can take care of myself well enough, and have plenty of friends who will never see me want. Father's sisters say they'll take care of me."

"You have one friend, Kitty, of whom you little think, just now, and he will provide for you."

"I don't know whom you mean, sir--unless--and yet you can't suppose I never think of God, sir?"

"I mean a friend on earth--have you no friend on earth, whom you have not mentioned yet?"

"I am not sure--perhaps--you do not mean Horace Bright, do you, sir?"

This was said with a bright blush, and a look in which the dawning consciousness of maiden shame was so singuarly blended with almost childish innocence, as both to delight me, and yet cause me to smile.

"And who is Horace Bright?" I asked, assuming as grave an air as possible.

"Oh! Horace is nobody--only the son of one of our neighbours. There, don't you see the old stone house that stands among the apple and cherry trees, on the banks of the river, just here in a line with this barn?"

"Quite plainly; and a very pretty place it is. We were admiring it as we drove up the road."

"Well, that is Horace Bright's father's; and one of the best farms in the neighbourhood. But you mustn't mind what he says, grandmother always tells me; boys love to talk grandly, and all the folks about here feel for us, though most of them are afraid of 'Squire Van Tassel, too."

"I place no reliance at all on Horace's talk--not I. It is just as your grandmother tells you; boys are fond of making a parade, and often utter things they don't mean."

"Well, I don't think that is Horace's way, in the least; though I wouldn't have you suppose I ever think, the least in the world, about what Horace says concerning my never being left to want. My own aunts will take care of that."

"And should they fail you, my dear," cried Marble, with strong feeling, "your own uncle would step into their places, without waiting to have his memory jogged."

Again Kitty looked surprised, a very little startled, and again she pressed to my side.

"I have no uncle," she answered, timidly. "Father never had a brother, and grandmother's son is dead."

"No, Kitty," I said, giving a look at Marble to keep him quiet; "in the last you are mistaken. This is the good news of which we spoke. Your grandmother's son is not dead, but living, and in good health. He is found, acknowledged, has passed the afternoon with your grandmother, has money more than enough to satisfy even the unjust demand of the miserly Van Tassel, and will be a father to you."

"Oh! dear me--can this be true!" exclaimed Kitty, pressing still closer than ever to my side. "And are you uncle after all, and will it all come out as you say? Poor, poor grandmother, and I not at home to hear it all, and to help her under such a great trial!"

"Your grandmother was a little distressed of course, at first, but she bore it all remarkably well, and is as happy at this moment, as you yourself could wish her to be. You are under a mistake, however, in supposing I am your uncle--do I look old enough to be your mother's brother?

"Dear me, no--I might have seen that, hadn't I been so silly--can it be this other gentleman?"

Here Marble took his hint from nature, and clasping the pretty young creature in his arms, he kissed her with an affection and warmth that were truly paternal. Poor Kitty was frightened at first, and I dare say, like her grandmother in a slight degree disappointed; but there was so much heartiness in the mate's manner, that it reassured her in degree.

"I'm a bloody poor uncle, I know, Kitty, for a young woman like you to own," Marble got out, though sorely tempted to blubber; "but there's worse in the world, as you'll discover, no doubt, in time. Such as I am, you must take me, and, from this time henceforth, do not care a strap for old Van Tassel, or any other griping vagabond like him in York state."

"Uncle is a sailor!" Kitty answered, after being fairly released from the mate's rough embrace. "Grandmother heard once that he was a soldier."

"Ay, that comes of lying. I don't think they could have made a soldier of me, had two wicked nurses run away with me, and had they placed me on fifty tombstones, by way of commencing life. My natur' would revolt at carrying a musket, for sartain, while the seas have always been a sort of home to me."

Kitty made no answer to this, being a little in doubt, I believe, as to the manner in which she was to regard this new acquisition of an uncle.

"Your grand-parents did suppose your uncle a soldier," I remarked, "but, after the man was seen the mistake was discovered, and now the truth has come out in a way that will admit of no dispute."

"How is uncle named?" demanded the niece, in a low voice, and a hesitating manner. "Mother's brother was christened Oloff, I have heard grandmother say."

"Very true, dear; we've been all over that, the old lady and I. They tell me, too, I was christened by the name of Moses--I suppose you know who Moses was, child?"

"To be sure, uncle!" said Kitty, with a little laugh of surprise. "He was the great law-maker of the Jews."

"Ha, Miles, is that so?"

I nodded assent.

"And do you know about his being found in the bulrushes, and the story of the king of Ethiopia's daughter?"

"The king of Egypt, you mean, do you not, uncle Oloff?" cried Kitty, with another little laugh.

"Well, Ethiopia or Egypt; it's all pretty much the same--this girl has been wonderfully edicated, Miles, and will turn out famous company for me, in the long winter evenings, some twenty years hence, or when I've worked my way up into the latitude of the dear, good, old soul under the hill yonder."

A slight exclamation from Kitty was followed by a blush, and a change of expression, that showed she was thinking, just at that moment, of anything but uncle Oloff. I asked an explanation.

"It's only Horace Bright, out yonder in the orchard, looking at us. He will be puzzled to know who is with me, here, in the old chaise. Horace thinks he can drive a horse better than any one about here, so you must be careful how you hold the reins, or use the whip.--Horace!"

This boded no good to Marble's plans for passing the evenings of his old age with Kitty to amuse him; but, as we were now on the brow of the hill, with the cottage in sight, Horace Bright was soon lost to view. To do the girl justice, she appeared now to think only of her grandmother, and of the effects the recent discovery of her son would be likely to produce on one of her years and infirmities. As for myself, I was surprised to see Mr. Hardinge in earnest conversation with old Mrs. Wetmore, both seated on the stoop of the cottage, in the mild summer's evening, and Lucy walking, to and fro, on the short grass of the willow bottom, with an impatience and restlessness of manner it was very unusual for her to exhibit. No sooner was Kitty alighted, than she ran to her grandmother, Marble following, while I hastened to the point where was to be found the great object of my interest. Lucy's face was full of feeling and concern, and she received me with an extended hand that, gracious as was the act itself, and most grateful as it would have proved to me under other circumstances, I now feared boded no good.

"Miles, you have been absent an age!" Lucy commenced. "I should be disposed to reproach you, had not the extraordinary story of this good old woman explained it all. I feel the want of air and exercise; give me your arm, and we will walk a short distance up the road. My dear father will not be inclined to quit that happy family, so long as any light is left."

I gave Lucy my arm, and we did walk up the road together, actually ascending the hill I had just descended; but all this did not induce me to overlook the fact that Lucy's manner was hurried and excited. The whole seemed so inexplicable, that I thought I would wait her own pleasure in the matter.

"Your friend, Marble," she continued--"I do not know why I ought not to say our friend, Marble, must be a very happy man at having, at length, discovered who his parents are, and to have discovered them to be so respectable and worthy of his affection."

"As yet, he seems to be more bewildered than happy, as, indeed, does the whole family. The thing has come on them so unexpectedly, that there has not been time to bring their feelings in harmony with the facts."

"Family affection is a blessed thing, Miles," Lucy resumed, after a short pause, speaking in her thoughtful manner; "there is little in this world that can compensate for its loss. It must have been sad, sad, to the poor fellow to have lived so long without father, mother, sister, brother or any other known relative."

"I believe Marble found it so; yet, I think, he felt the supposed disgrace of his birth more than his solitary condition. The man has warm affections at the bottom, though he has a most uncouth manner of making it known."

"I am surprised one so circumstanced never thought of marrying; he might, at least, have lived in the bosom of his own family, though he never knew that of a father."

"These are the suggestions of a tender and devoted female heart, dear Lucy; but, what has a sailor to do with a wife? I have heard it said Sir John Jervis--the present Lord St. Vincent--always declared a married seaman, a seaman spoiled; and I believe Marble loves a ship so well he would hardly know how to love a woman."

Lucy made no answer to this indiscreet and foolish speech. Why it was made, I scarce knew myself; but the heart has its bitter moods, when it prompts sentiments and declarations that are very little in accordance with its real impulses. I was so much ashamed of what I had just said, and, in truth, so much frightened, that, instead of attempting to laugh it off, as a silly, unmeaning opinion, or endeavouring to explain that this was not my own way of thinking, I walked on some distance in silence, myself, and suffered my companion to imitate me in this particular. I have since had reason to think that Lucy was not pleased at my manner of treating the subject, though, blessed creature! she had another matter to communicate, that lay too heavy on her heart, to allow one of her generous, disinterested nature to think much of anything else.

"Miles," Lucy, at length, broke the silence, by saying--"I wish, I do wish we had not met that other sloop this morning."

I stopped short in the highway, dropped my beautiful companion's arm, and stood gazing intently in her face, as if I would read her most inmost thoughts through those windows of the soul, her serene, mild, tender, blue eyes. I saw that the face was colourless, and that the beautiful lips, out of which the words that had alarmed me more by their accents than their direct signification, were quivering in a way that their lovely mistress could not control. Tears, as large as heavy drops of rain, too, were trembling on the long silken eye-lashes, while the very attitude of the precious girl denoted hopelessness and grief!

"This relates to Grace!" I exclaimed, though my throat was so parched, as almost to choke my utterance.

"Whom, or what else, can now occupy our minds, Miles; I can scarce think of anything but Grace; when I do, it is to remember that my own brother has killed her!"

What answer could I have made to such a speech, had my mind been sufficiently at ease as respects my sister to think of anything else? As it was, I did not even attempt the vain office of saying anything in the way of alleviating my companion's keen sense of the misconduct of Rupert.

"Grace is then worse in consequence of this unhappy rencontre?" I observed, rather than asked.

"Oh! Miles; what a conversation I have had with her, this afternoon! She speaks, already, more like a being that belongs to the regions of the blessed, than like one of earth! There is no longer any secret between us. She would gladly have avoided telling me her precise situation with Rupert, but we had already gone so far, I would know more. I thought it might relieve her mind; and there was the chance, however slight, of its enabling us to suggest some expedient to produce still further good. I think it has had some of the first effect, for she is now sleeping."

"Did Grace say anything of your communicating the miserable tale to me?"

"It is, indeed, a miserable tale! Miles, they were engaged from the time Grace was fifteen! Engaged distinctly, and in terms, I mean; not by any of the implied understandings, by which those who were so intimate, generally, might believe themselves bound to each other."

"And in what manner did so early and long-continued an engagement cease?"

"It came from Rupert, who should have died first, before he was so untrue to himself, to my poor father, to me, to all of us, Miles, as well as to his own manhood. It has been as we supposed; he has been deluded by the éclât that attaches to these Mertons in our provincial society; and Emily is rather a showy girl, you know,--at least for those who are accustomed only to our simple habits."

Alas! little did Lucy then know--she has learned better since--that "showy" girls belong much more to our "simple" state of society, than to the state of those which are commonly conceived to be more advanced. But Emily Merton was, in a slight degree, more artificial in manner, than it was usual for a Manhattanese female of that day, to be, and this was what Lucy meant; Lucy, who always thought so humbly of herself, and was ever so ready to concede to her rivals all that could plausibly be asked in their behalf.

"I am well aware how much importance the leading set among ourselves attaches to English connection, and English rank," I answered; "but, it does not strike me Emily Merton is of a class so elevated, that Rupert Hardinge need break his faith, in order to reap the advantage of belonging to her, or her family."

"It cannot be altogether that, Miles," Lucy added, in an appealing, but touchingly confidential manner, "you and I have known each other from children, and, whatever may be the weaknesses of one who is so dear to me, and who, I hope, has not altogether lost his hold on your own affections, we can still rely on each other. I shall speak to you with the utmost dependence on your friendship, and a reliance on your heart that is not second to that which I place on my dear father's; for this is a subject on which there ought to be no concealment between us. It is impossible that one as manly, as upright, as honest I will say, as yourself, can have lived so long in close intimacy with Rupert, and not be aware that he has marked defects of character."

"I have long known that he is capricious," I answered, unwilling to be severe on the faults of Lucy's brother, to Lucy's own ear; "perhaps I might add, that I have known he pays too much attention to fashion, and the opinions of fashionable people."

"Nay, as we cannot deceive ourselves, let us not attempt the ungrateful task of endeavouring to deceive each other," that true-hearted girl replied, though she said this with so great an effort, that I was compelled to listen attentively to catch all she uttered. "Rupert has failings worse than these. He is mercenary; nor is he always a man of truth. Heaven knows, how I have wept over these defects of character, and the pain they have given me from childhood! But, my dear, dear father overlooks them all--or, rather, seeing them, he hopes all things; it is hard for a parent to believe a child irreclaimable."

I was unwilling to let Lucy say any more on this subject, for her voice, her countenance, I might almost say her whole figure showed how much it cost her to say even this much of Rupert. I had long known that Lucy did not respect her brother as much as she could wish; but this was never before betrayed to me in words, nor in any other manner, indeed, that would not have eluded the observation of one who knew the parties less thoroughly than myself. I could perceive that she felt the awful consequences she foresaw from her brother's conduct gave me a claim on her sincerity, and that she was suffering martyrdom, in order to do all that lay in her own power to lessen the force of the blow that unworthy relative had inflicted. It would have been ungenerous in me to suffer such a sacrifice to continue a moment longer than was necessary.

"Spare yourself, and me, dearest Lucy," I eagerly said, "all explanations but those which are necessary to let me know the exact state of my sister's case. I confess, I could wish to understand, however, the manner in which Rupert has contrived to explain away an engagement that has lasted four years, and which must have been the source of so much innocent confidence between Grace and himself."

"I was coming to that, Miles; and when you know it, you will know all. Grace has felt his attentions to Emily Merton, for a long time; but there never was a verbal explanation between them until just before she left town. Then she felt it due to herself to know the truth; and, after a conversation which was not very particular, your sister offered to release Rupert from his engagement, did he in the least desire it."

"And what answer did he make to a proposal that was as generous as it was frank?"

"I must do Grace the justice to say, Miles, that, in all she said, she used the utmost tenderness towards my brother. Still, I could not but gather the substance of what passed. Rupert, at first, affected to believe that Grace, herself, wished to break the engagement; but, in this, you well know, her ingenuous simplicity would not permit him to succeed. She did not attempt to conceal how deeply she should feel the change in her situation, and how much it might influence her future happiness."

"Ay, that was like both of them--like Rupert, and like Grace," I muttered, huskily.

Lucy continued silent an instant, apparently to allow me to regain my self-command; then she continued--

"When Rupert found that the responsibility of the rupture must rest on him, he spoke more sincerely. He owned to Grace that his views had changed; said they were both too young to contract themselves when they did, and that he had made an engagement to marry, at a time when he was unfit to bind himself to so solemn a contract--said something about minors, and concluded by speaking of his poverty and total inability to support a wife, now that Mrs. Bradfort had left me the whole of her property."

"And this is the man who wishes to make the world believe that he is the true heir!--nay, who told me, himself, that he considers you as only a sort of trustee, to hold half, or two-thirds of the estate, until he has had leisure to sow his wild oats!"

"I know he has encouraged such notions, Miles," Lucy answered, in a low voice; "how gladly would I realize his hopes, if things could be placed where we once thought they were! Every dollar of Mrs. Bradfort's fortune would I relinquish with joy, to see Grace happy, or Rupert honest."

"I am afraid we shall never see the first, Lucy, in this evil world at least."

"I have never wished for this engagement, since I have been old enough to judge of my brother's true character. He would ever have been too fickle, and of principles too light, to satisfy Grace's heart, or her judgment. There may have been some truth in his plea that the engagement was too early and inconsiderately made. Persons so young can hardly know what will, or what will not be necessary to their own characters, a few years later. As it is, even Grace would now refuse to marry Rupert. She owned to me, that the heaviest part of the blow was being undeceived in relation to his character. I spoke to her with greater freedom than a sister ought to have used, perhaps, but I wished to arouse her pride, as the means of saving her. Alas! Grace is all affections, and those once withered, I fear, Miles, the rest of her being will go with them."

I made no answer to this prophetic remark, Lucy's visit to the shore, her manner, and all that she had said, convincing me that she had, in a great degree, taken leave of hope. We conversed some time longer, returning toward the cottage; but there was nothing further to communicate, that it is necessary to record. Neither of us thought of self, and I would as soon have attempted to desecrate a church, as attempt to obtain any influence over Lucy, in my own behalf, at such a moment. All my feelings reverted to my poor sister again, and I was dying with impatience to return to the sloop, whither, indeed, it was time to repair, the sun having some time before disappeared, while even the twilight was drawing to a close.

Chapter V.

"The serpent of the field, by art
And spells, is won from harming,
But that which coils around the heart,
Oh! who hath power of charming?"

Hebrew Melodies.

It was not easy to make Mr. Hardinge a sharer in my impatience. He had taken a fancy to Marble, and was as much rejoiced at this accidental discovery of the mate's parentage, as if he had been one of the family himself. With such feelings, therefore, I had a good deal of difficulty in getting him away. I asked Marble to go off with me, it being understood that he was to be landed again, in order to pass the first night of his recognition under his mother's roof. To this scheme, however, he raised an objection, as soon as told it was my intention to go down the river as far as New York, in quest of further medical advice, insisting on accompanying me, in order to obtain the thousand dollars with which to face 'Squire Van Tassel, or, at least, his mortgage sale. Accordingly, there were leave-takings, and about eight we were all on board the sloop.

I did not see, nor did I ask to see, my sister again, that night. I had not seen her, indeed, since the moment Rupert was discovered in company with the Mertons; and, to own the truth, I felt afraid to see her, knowing, as I did, how much her frame was apt to be affected by her mind. It appeared to me there remained but the single duty to perform, that of getting below as fast as possible, in order to obtain the needed medical aid. It is true, we possessed Post's written instructions, and knew his opinion that the chief thing was to divert Grace's thoughts from dwelling on the great cause of her malady; but, now he had left us, it seemed as if I should neglect a most sacred duty, did I delay obtaining some other competent physician.

The tide turned at nine, and we got immediately under way, with a light south-west wind. As for Marble, ignorant as Mr. Hardinge himself of the true condition of my sister, he determined to celebrate his recent discoveries by a supper. I was about to object to the project, on account of Grace, but Lucy begged me to let him have his way; such convives as my late guardian and my own mate were not likely to be very boisterous; and she fancied that the conversation, or such parts of it as should be heard through the bulk-head, might serve to divert the invalid's mind from dwelling too intently on the accidental rencontre of the morning. The scheme was consequently carried out; and, in the course of an hour, the cabins of the Wallingford presented a singular spectacle. In her berth was Grace, patiently and sweetly lending herself to her friend's wish to seem to listen to her own account of the reason of the mate's festa, and to be amused by his sallies; Lucy, all care and attention for her patient, as I could discover through the open door of the after-cabin, while she endeavoured to appear to enter into the business that was going on at the table, actually taking wine with the mate, and drinking to the happiness of his newly-found relatives; Mr. Hardinge, over-flowing with philanthropy, and so much engrossed with his companion's good fortune as not to think of aught else at the moment; Marble, himself, becoming gradually more under the influence of his new situation, as his feelings had time to gather force and take their natural direction; while I was compelled to wear the semblance of joining in his festivities, at an instant when my whole soul was engrossed with anxiety on behalf of Grace.

"This milk is just the richest and best that ever came on board a vessel!" exclaimed the mate, as he was about to wind up his own share of the repast with a cup of coffee--"and as for butter, I can say I never tasted the article before. Little Kitty brought both down to the boat with her own hands, and that makes them so much the sweeter, too, for, if anything can add to the excellence of eatables, it is to have them pass through the hands of one's own relations. I dare say, Mr. Hardinge, now, you have verified this, time and again, in your own experience?"

"In feeling, my friend; in feeling, often, though little in practice, in the sense that you mean. My family has been my congregation, unless, indeed, Miles here, and his beloved sister, can be added to my own children in fact, as they certainly are in affection. But, I can understand how butter made by the hands of one's own mother, or by those of such a pretty niece as your Kitty, would taste all the sweeter."

"It's such a providential thing, as you call it, to find such a mother in the bargain! Now I might have discovered a slattern, or a scold, or a woman of bad character; or one that never went to church; or even one that swore and drank; for, begging your pardon, Miss Lucy, just such creatur's are to be met with; whereas, instead of any of these disagreeable recommendations, I've fallen in with an A. No. 1. mother; ay, and such an old lady as the king of England, himself, need not be ashamed to own.[2] I felt a strong desire, Mr. Hardinge, to get down on my knees, and to ask the dear, good old soul, just to say, 'God bless you, my dear son, Moses, Van Duzer, or Oloff, whatever your name may be.'"

[Footnote 2: In that day, all allusions to royalty were confined to the Majesty of Great Britain; it being no uncommon thing, at the commencement of this century, to hear "The King" toasted at many of the best tables of the country.]

"And if you had, Mr. Marble, you would not have been any the worse for it. Such feelings do you honour, and no man need be ashamed of desiring to receive a parent's blessing."

"I suppose now, my dear sir," added Marble, innocently, "that is what is called having a religious turn? I've often foreseen, that religion would fetch me up, in the long run; and now that I am altogether relieved from bitterness of heart on the subject of belonging to none, and no one's belonging to me, my sentiments have undergone a great alteration, and I feel a wish to be at peace with the whole human family--no, not with the whole; I except that rascally old Van Tassel."

"You must except no one--we are told to 'love those that hate us, to bless those that curse us, and to pray for those that despitefully use us.'"

Marble stared at Mr. Hardinge; for, to own the truth, it would have been difficult, in a Christian land, to meet with one of his years who had less religious instruction than himself. It is quite probable that these familiar mandates had never been heard by him before; but I could see that he was a little struck with the profound morality that pervaded them; a morality to which no human heart appears to be so insensible as not in secret to acknowledge its sublimity. Still he doubted.

"Where are we told to do this, my dear sir?" demanded Marble, after looking intently at the rector for a moment.

"Where? why, where we get all our divine precept and inspired morality, the bible. You must come to wish this Mr. Van Tassel good, instead of evil; try to love, instead of hating him."

"Is that religion?" demanded the mate, in his most dogmatical and determined manner.

"It is Christianity--its spirit, its very essence; without which the heart cannot be right, let the tongue proclaim what delusion it may."

Marble had imbibed a sincere respect for my late guardian, equally from what he had heard me say in his favour and what he had seen himself, of his benevolent feelings kind-hearted morality, and excellent sense. Nevertheless, it was not an easy matter to teach a being like Marble the lesson that he was to do good to those who used him despitefully; and just at that moment he was in a frame of mind to do almost anything else, sooner than pardon Van Tassel. All this I could see, understanding the man so well and, in order to prevent a useless discussion that might disturb my sister, I managed to change the discourse before it was too late; I say too late, because it is not easy to shake off two moralists who sustain their doctrines as strongly as Mr. Hardinge and my mate.

"I am glad the name of this Mr. Van Tassel has been mentioned," I observed, "as it may be well to have your advice, sir, concerning our best mode of proceeding in his affair."

I then related to Mr. Hardinge the history of the mortgage, and the necessity there was for promptitude, inasmuch as the sale was advertised for the ensuing week. My late guardian was better acquainted with the country, up the river, than I was myself; and it was fortunate the subject was broached, as he soon convinced me the only course to be pursued was to put Marble ashore at Hudson, where, if too late for the regular stage, he might obtain some other conveyance, and proceed to town by land. This would barely leave him time to transact all the necessary business, and to be back in season to prevent the title to the Willow Cove from passing into the usurer's grasp. As was usual with Mr. Hardinge, he entered into this, as into every good work, heart and hand, and immediately set about writing directions for Marble's government when he got ashore. This put in end to the banquet, and glad was I to see the table removed, and the other signs of a tranquil night reappear.

It was twelve before the sloop was as low as Hudson, and I saw by our rate of sailing, that, indeed, there was little prospect of her reaching New York in time for Marble's necessities. He was landed, therefore, and Mr. Hardinge and myself accompanied him to the stage-house, where we ascertained that the next morning after breakfast he would be enabled to get into the stage, which would reach town in the evening of the succeeding day. But this was altogether too slow for Marble's impatience. He insisted on procuring a private conveyance, and we saw him drive out of the long street that then composed most of the city of Hudson, at a slapping pace, about one o'clock in the morning. This important duty discharged, Mr. Hardinge and I returned to the sloop in which Neb had been standing off and on, in waiting for us, and again made sail down the river. When I turned in, the Wallingford was getting along at the rate of about five miles the hour; the wind having freshened, and come out at the westward, a quarter that just enabled her to lay her course.

The reader will easily imagine I did not oversleep myself the following morning. My uneasiness was so great, indeed, that I dreamed of the dreadful accident which had produced my father's death, and then fancied that I saw him, my mother, and Grace, all interred at the same time, and in the same grave. Fortunately, the wind stood at the west, and the sloop was already within twenty miles of the creek at Clawbonny, when I got on deck. All was quiet in the after-cabin; and, Mr. Hardinge still continuing in his berth, I went out to breathe the fresh morning air, without speaking to any below. There was no one on the quarter-deck but the pilot, who was at the helm; though I saw a pair of legs beneath the boom, close in with the mast, that I knew to be Neb's, and a neat, dark petticoat that I felt certain must belong to Chloe. I approached the spot, in tending to question the former on the subject of the weather during his watch; but, just as about to hail him, I heard the young lady say, in a more animated tone than was discreet for the character of the conversation--

"No, nebber, sah--nebber, widout de apperbation of my modder and de whole famerly. Mattermony a berry differ t'ing, Neb, from what you surposes. Now, many a young nigger gentleman imagine dat he has only to coax his gal to say 'yes,' and den dey goes to de clergy and stands up for de blessin', and imagines all right for de futur', and for de present time, all which is just a derlusion and a derception. No, sah; mattermony a berry differ t'ing from dat, as any old lady can tell you. De fuss t'ing in mattermony, is to hab a consent."

"Well, Chloe, and hab'n't I had dis berry consent from you, now for most two year?"

"Ay, dat not de consent I surposes. You wouldn't t'ink, Neb, ongrateful feller, to get marry, widout first askin' do consent of Masser Mile, I do surpose! You, who has been his own waiter so long, and has gone to sea wid him so often; and has saved his life; and has helped kill so many hateful saverges; and has been on a desert conternent wid him."

"I nebber told you dat, Chloe--I said on an island." "Well, what's the differ? You cannot tell me anyt'ing of edercation, Neb; for I hab hear Miss Grace and Miss Lucy say deir lesson so often, dat I sometime surposes I can say 'em all, one by one, almost as well as my young lady, 'emselves. No, Neb; on dat subjeck better be silent. You been much too busy, ebber to be edercated; and, if I do marry you, remember I now tell you, I shall not enter into mattermony wid you on account of any edercation you hab."

"All Clawbonny say dat we can make as good a couple, Chloe, as ebber stood up togedder."

"All Clawbonny don't know much of mattermony, Neb. People talks inderskrimernaterly, and doesn't know what dey says, too often. In de fuss place my modder, my own born modder, upposes our uner, and dat is a great differculty to begin wid. When a born modder upposes, a darter ought to t'ink sebberal time."

"Let me speak to Masser Mile; he'll fetch up her objeckshun wid a round turn."

"What dat, Neb?"

"It mean Masser will order her to consent."

"Dat nebber saterfy my conscience, Neb. We be nigger dat true; but no Clawbonny master ebber tell a Clawbonny slabe to get marry, or not to get marry, as he choose. Dat would be intollabull, and not to be supported! No; mattermony is religion; and religion free. No colour' young lady hab vergin affeckshun, to t'row 'em away on just whom her masser say. But, Neb, dere one odder differculty to our uner dat I don't know--sometime, I feel awful about it!"

As Chloe now spoke naturally, for the first time. Neb was evidently startled; and I had sufficient amusement, and sufficient curiosity, to remain stationary in order to hear what this new obstacle might be. The voice of the negress was music itself; almost as sweet as Lucy's; and I was struck with a slight tremor that pervaded it, as she so suddenly put an end to all her own affectation of sentiment, and nipped her airs and graces, as it might be, in the bud.

"Nebber talk to me of mattermony, Neb," Chloe continued, almost sobbing as she spoke, "while Miss Grace be in dis berry bad way! It hard enough to see her look so pale and melercholy, widout t'inking of becomin' a wife."

"Miss Grace will grow better, now Masser Mile carry her on de water. If he only take her to sea, she get so fat and hearty, no libbin' wid her!"

Chloe did not acquiesce in this opinion; she rather insisted that "Miss Grace" was altogether too delicate and refined a person to live in a ship. But the circumstance that struck me with the greatest force, in this characteristic dialogue, was the fact that Chloe betrayed to me the consciousness of the cause of my sister's indisposition; while true to her sex's instincts, and faithful to her duty, the girl completely concealed it from her lover. I was also oppressively struck with the melancholy forebodings that appeared in Chloe's manner, rather than in her words, and which made it apparent that she doubted of her young mistress's recovery. She concluded the conversation by saying--

"No, no, Neb--don't talk to me of mattermony while Miss Grace so ill; and if any t'ing should happen, you need nebber talk to me of it, at all. I could nebber t'ink of any uner (union) should anyt'ing happen to Miss Grace. Lub (love) will die forebber in de family, when Miss Grace die!"

I turned away, at this speech, the tears starting to my eyes, and saw Lucy standing in the companion-way. She was waiting to speak to me, and no sooner caught my eye, than beckoning me to her side, she let me know that my sister desired to see me. Erasing every sign of emotion as soon as possible, I descended with Lucy, and was soon at the side of my sister's berth.

Grace received me with an angelic smile; but, I almost gasped for breath as I noticed the prodigious change that had come over her in so brief a space. She now looked more like a being of another world than ever; and this, too, immediately after coming from the refreshment of a night's rest. I kissed her forehead, which had an unnatural chill on it, I thought; and I felt the feeble pressure of an arm that was thrown affectionately round my neck. I then sat down on the transom, still holding my sister's hand. Grace looked anxiously at me for half a minute, ere she spoke, as if to ascertain how far I was conscious of her situation.

"Lucy tells me, brother," she at length said, "that you think of carrying me down the river, as far as town, in order to get further advice. I hope this is a mistake of our dear Lucy's, however?"

"It is not, Grace. If the wind stand here at the westward, I hope to have you in Lucy's own house in Wall street, by to-morrow evening. I know she will receive you hospitably, and have ventured to form the plan without consulting you on the subject."

"Better that I should be at Clawbonny--if anything can now do me good, brother, it will be native air, and pure country air. Hearken to my request, and stop at the creek."

"Your serious request, Grace, will be a law to me, if made on due reflection. This growing feebleness, however, alarms me; and I cannot justify it to myself not to send for advice."

"Remember, Miles, it is not yet twenty-four hours since one of the ablest men of the country saw me. We have his written instructions; and, all that man can do for me, they will do for me. No, brother; listen to my entreaties, and go into the creek. I pine, I pine to be again at dear Clawbonny, where alone I can enjoy anything like peace of body or mind. This vessel is unsuited to me; I cannot think of a future, or pray in it. Brother, dearest brother, carry me home, if you love me!"

There was no resisting such an appeal. I went on deck with a heavy heart, and gave the necessary orders to the pilot; and, in about eight-and-forty hours after we emerged into the Hudson, we left that noble stream again, to shoot beneath the shaded, leafy banks of our own inlet. Grace was so feeble as to be carried to the chaise, in which she was supported by Lucy, during the short drive to the house. When I reached my own dwelling, I found Mr. Hardinge pacing the little portico, or piazza, waiting for my arrival, with an uneasiness of manner that at once proclaimed his anxiety to see me. He had driven the horse of the chaise, and had imbibed a first impression of Grace's danger.

"Miles, my dear boy--my second son"--the simple-hearted, excellent old man commenced; "Miles, my dear boy, the hand of God has been laid heavily on us--your beloved sister, my own precious Grace, is far more ill than I had any idea of, before this morning."

"She is in the hands of her merciful Creator," I said, struggling to command myself, "who, I greatly fear, is about to call her from a world that is not good enough for one so innocent and pure, to take her to himself. I have foreseen this from the hour I first met her, after my return; though a single ray of hope dawned on me, when Post advised the change of scene. So far from producing good, this excursion has produced evil; and she is much worse than when we left home."

"Such short-sighted mortals are we!--But what can we do, my boy?--I confess my judgment, my faculties themselves, are nearly annihilated by the suddenness of this shock. I had supposed her illness some trifling complaint that youth and care would certainly remove; and here we stand, as it might be, at the call of the trumpet's blast, almost around her grave!"

"I am most anxious to lean on your wisdom and experience, my dear sir, at this critical moment; if you will advise, I shall be happy to follow your instructions."

"We must lean on God, Miles," answered my worthy guardian, still pacing the piazza, the tears running down his cheeks in streams, and speaking so huskily as barely to be intelligible; "yes, we will have the prayers of the congregation next Sunday morning; and most devout and heartfelt prayers they will be; for her own sainted mother was not more deservedly loved! To be called away so young--to die in the first bloom of youth and loveliness, as it were--but, it is to go to her God! We must endeavour to think of her gain--to rejoice over, rather than mourn her loss."

"I grieve to perceive that you regard my sister's case as so entirely hopeless, sir."

"Hopeless!--It is full of the brightest promise; and when I come to look calmly at it, my reason tells me I ought not to grieve. Still, Miles, the loss of Lucy, herself, would scarce be a more severe blow to me. I have loved her from childhood, cared for her as for one of my own, and feel the same love for her that I should feel for a second daughter. Your parents were dear to me, and their children have always appeared to me to belong to my own blood. Had I not been your guardian, boy, and you and Grace been comparatively so rich, while I and mine were so poor, it would have been the first wish of my heart to have seen Rupert and Grace, you and Lucy, united, which would have made you all my beloved children alike. I often thought of this, until I found it necessary to repress the hope, lest I should prove unfaithful to my trust. Now, indeed, Mrs. Bradfort's bequest might have smoothed over every difficulty; but it came too late! It was not to be; Providence had ordered otherwise."

"You had an ardent supporter of your scheme in one of your children, at least, sir."

"So you have given me to understand, Miles, and I regret that I was informed of the fact so late, or I might have contrived to keep off other young men while you were at sea, or until an opportunity offered to enable you to secure my daughter's affections. That done, neither time nor distance could have displaced you; the needle not being more true than Lucy, or the laws of nature more certain."

"The knowledge of these sterling qualities, sir, only makes me regret my having come too late, so much the more."

"It was not to be;--at one time, I did think Rupert and Grace had a preference for each other; but I must have been deceived. God had ordered it otherwise, and wisely no doubt; as his omniscience foresaw the early drooping of this lovely flower. I suppose their having been educated together, so much like brother and sister, has been the reason there was so much indifference to each other's merits. You have been an exception on account of your long absences, Miles, and you must look to those absences for the consolation and relief you will doubtless require. Alas! alas! that I could not now fold Grace to my heart, as a daughter and a bride, instead of standing over her grave! Nothing but Rupert's diffidence of his own claims, during our days of poverty, could have prevented him from submitting himself to so much loveliness and virtue. I acquit the ad of insensibility; for nothing but the sense of poverty and the pride of a poor gentleman, added perhaps to the brotherly regard he has always felt for Grace, could have kept him from seeking her hand. Grace, properly enough, would have requited his affection."

Such is a specimen of the delusion under which we live, daily. Here was my sister dying of blighted affections, under my own roof; and the upright, conscientious father of the wretch who had produced this withering evil, utterly unconscious of the wrong that had been done; still regarding his son with the partiality and indulgence of a fond parent. To me, it seemed incredible at the time, that unsuspecting integrity could carry its simplicity so far; but I have since lived long enough to know that mistakes like these are constantly occurring around us; effects being hourly attributed to causes with which they have no connection; and causes being followed down to effects, that are as imaginary as human sagacity is faulty. As for myself, I can safely say, that in scarce a circumstance of my life, that has brought me the least under the cognizance of the public, have I ever been judged justly. In various instances have I been praised for acts that were either totally without any merit, or, at least, the particular merit imputed to them; while I have been even persecuted for deeds that deserved praise. An instance or two of the latter of these cases of the false judgment of the world will be laid before the reader as I proceed.

Mr. Hardinge continued for some time to expatiate on the loveliness of Grace's character, and to betray the weight of the blow he had received, in gaining this sudden knowledge of her danger. He seemed to pass all at once from a state of inconsiderate security to one of total hopelessness, and found the shock so much harder to endure. At length he sent for Lucy, with whom he continued closeted for near an hour. I ascertained, afterwards, that he questioned the dear girl closely on the subject of my sister's malady; even desiring to know if her affections were any way connected with this extraordinary sinking of the vital powers; but not in the slightest degree inclining to the distrust of Rupert's being in any manner implicated in the affair. Lucy, truthful and frank as she was, felt the uselessness, nay, the danger, of enlightening her father, and managed to evade all his more delicate inquiries, without involving herself in falsehoods. She well knew, if he were apprised of the real state of the case, that Rupert would have been sent for; and every reparation it was in his power to make would have been insisted on, as an act of justice; a hopeless and distressing attempt to restore the confidence of unbounded love, and the esteem which, once lost, is gone forever. Perhaps the keenest of all Grace's sufferings proceeded from the consciousness of the total want of merit in the man she had so effectually enshrined in her heart, that he could only be ejected by breaking in pieces and utterly destroying the tenement that had so long contained him. With ordinary notions, this change of opinion might have sufficed for the purposes of an effectual cure; but my poor sister was differently constituted. She had ever been different from most of her sex, in intensity of feeling; and had come near dying, while still a child, on the occasion of the direful catastrophe of my father's loss; and the decease of even our mother, though long expected, had come near to extinguish the flame of life in the daughter. As I have already said more than once, a being so sensitive and so pure, ever seemed better fitted for the regions of bliss, than for the collisions and sorrows of the world.

Now we were at Clawbonny again, I scarce knew how to employ myself. Grace I could not see; Lucy, who took the entire management of the invalid, requiring for her rest and quiet. In this she did but follow the directions of reason, as well as those left by Post; and I was fain to yield, knowing that my sister could not possibly have a more judicious or a more tender nurse.

The different persons belonging to the mill and the farm came to me for directions, which I was compelled to give with thoughts engrossed with the state of my sister. More than once I endeavoured to arouse myself; and, for a few minutes, seemed to enter, if I did not truly enter, with interest into the affairs presented to my consideration; but these little rallies were merely so many attempts at self-delusion, and I finally referred everything to the respective persons entrusted with the different branches of the duty bidding them act as they had been accustomed to do in my absence.

"Why, yes, Masser Mile," answered the old negro who was the head man in the field, "dis berry well, if he can do it. Remember I alway hab Masser Hardinge to talk to me about 'e crop, and sich t'ing, and dat a won'erful help to a poor nigger when he in a nonplush."

"Surely, Hiram, you are a better husbandman than Mr. Hardinge and myself put together, and cannot want the advice of either to tell you how to raise corn, or to get in hay!"

"Dat berry true, sah--so true, I wont deny him. But, you know how it be, Masser Mile; a nigger do lub to talk, and it help along work won'erfully, to get a good dispute, afore he begin."

As respects the blacks, this was strictly true. Though as respectful as slavery and habit could make them, they were so opinionated and dogmatical, each in his or her sphere, that nothing short of a downright assertion of authority could produce submission to any notions but their own. They loved to argue the different points connected with their several duties, but they did not like to be convinced. Mr. Hardinge would discuss with them, from a sense of duty, and he would invariably yield, unless in cases that involved moral principles. On all such points, and they were not of unfrequent occurrence in a family of so many blacks, he was as inflexible as the laws of the Medes and Persians; but, as respected the wheat, the potatoes, the orchards, the mill, or the sloop, he usually submitted to the experience of those more familiar with the business, after having discussed the matters in council. This rendered him exceedingly popular at Clawbonny, the persuaded usually having the same sort of success in the world as a good listener. As for the rector himself, after so many long discussions, he began to think he had actually influenced the different steps adopted; the cause of one of the illusions I have already pourtrayed.

Old Hiram did not quit me when he came for instructions alias a "dispute," without a word of inquiry touching Grace I could see that the alarm had passed among the slaves, and it was quite touching to note the effect it produced on their simple minds. It would have been sufficient for them to love her, that Grace was their young mistress; but such a mistress as she had ever been, and one so winning in manner and person, they might be said almost to worship her.

"I berry sorry to hear Miss Grace be onwell, sah," said old Hiram, looking at me sorrowfully. "It go hard wid us all, if anyt'ing happen dere! I alway s'pose, Masser Mile, dat Miss Grace and Masser Rupert come togeder, some time; as we all expects you and Miss Lucy will. Dem are happy days, sah, at Clawbonny, for den we all know our new masser and new missus from de cradle. No, no--we can nebber spare Miss Grace, sah; even I should miss her in 'e field!"

The very blacks had observed the state of things which had deluded my poor sister; and the slave had penetrated his master's secret. I turned away abruptly from the negro, lest he should also detect the evidence of the weakness extorted by his speech, from the eyes of manhood.

Chapter VI.

      --"Like the lily
That once was mistress of the field, and flourished,
I'll hang my head, and perish."

Queen Catherine.

I saw little of Lucy that night. She met us at evening prayers, and tears were in her eyes as she arose from her knees. Without speaking, she kissed her father for good night, more affectionately than ever, I thought, and then turned to me. Her hand was extended, (we had seldom met or parted for eighteen years, without observing this little act of kindness), but she did not--nay, could not, speak. I pressed the little hand fervently in my own, and relinquished it again, in the same eloquent silence. She was seen no more by us until next day.

The breakfast had ever been a happy meal at Clawbonny. My father, though merely a ship-master, was one of the better class; and he had imbibed many notions, in the course of his different voyages, that placed him much in advance of the ordinary habits of his day and country. Then an American ship-master is usually superior to those of other countries. This arises from some of the peculiarities of our institutions, as well as from the circumstance that the navy is so small. Among other improvements, my father had broken in upon the venerable American custom of swallowing a meal as soon as out of bed. The breakfast at Clawbonny, from my earliest infancy, or as long as I can remember, had been eaten regularly at nine o'clock, a happy medium between the laziness of dissipation and the hurry of ill-formed habits. At that hour the whole family used to meet, still fresh from a night's repose, and yet enlivened and gay by an hour or two of exercise in the open air, instead of coming to the family board half asleep, with a sort of drowsy sulkiness, as, if the meal were a duty, and not a pleasure. We ate as leisurely as keen appetites would permit; laughed, chatted, related the events of the morning, conversed of our plans for the day, and indulged our several tastes and humours, like people who had been up and stirring, and not like so many drowsy drones swallowing our food for form's sake. The American breakfast has been celebrated by several modern writers, and it deserves to be, though certainly not to be compared to that of France. Still it might be far better than it is, did our people understand the mood in which it ought to be enjoyed.

While on this subject, the reader will excuse an old man's prolixity, if I say a word on the state of the science of the table in general, as it is put in practice in this great republic. A writer of this country, one Mr. Cooper, has somewhere said that the Americans are the grossest feeders in the civilized world, and warns his countrymen to remember that a national character may be formed in the kitchen. This remark is commented on by Captain Marryatt, who calls it both unjust and ill-natured. As for the ill-nature I shall say nothing, unless it be to remark that I do not well see how that which is undeniably true ought to be thought so very ill-natured. That it is true, every American who has seen much of other lands must know. Captain-Marryatt's allegation that the tables are good in the large towns, has nothing to do with the merits of this question. The larger American towns are among the best eating and drinking portions of the world. But what are they as compared to the whole country? What are the public tables, or the tables of the refined, as compared to the tables of the mass, even in these very towns? All things are to be judged of by the rules, and not by the exceptions. Because a small portion of the American population understand what good cookery is, it by no means follows that all do. Who would think of saying that the people of England live on white bait and venison, because the nobility and gentry (the aldermen inclusive) can enjoy both, in the seasons, ad libitum? I suspect this Mr. Cooper knows quite as well what he is about, when writing of America, as any European. If pork fried in grease, and grease pervading half the other dishes, vegetables cooked without any art, and meats done to rags, make a good table, then is this Mr. Cooper wrong, and Captain Marryatt right, and vice versâ. As yet, while nature has done so much in America, art has done but little. Much compared with numbers and time, certainly, but little as compared with what numbers and time have done elsewhere. Nevertheless, I would make an exception in favour of America, as respects the table of one country, though not so much in connection with the coarseness of the feeding as in the poverty of the food. I consider the higher parts of Germany to be the portions of the Christian world where eating and drinking are in the most primitive condition; and that part of this great republic, which Mr. Alison Would probably call the State of New England, to come next. In abundance and excellence of food in the native form, America is particularly favoured; Baltimore being at the very nucleus of all that is exquisite in the great business of mastication. Nevertheless, the substitution of cooks from the interior of New England, for the present glistening tenants of her kitchens, would turn even that paradise of the epicure into a sort of oleaginous waste. Enough of cookery.

Lucy did not appear at prayers next morning! I felt her absence as one feels the certainty of some dreadful evil. Breakfast was announced; still Lucy did not appear. The table was smoking and hissing; and Romeo Clawbonny, who acted as the everyday house-servant, or footman, had several times intimated that it might be well to commence operations, as a cold breakfast was very cold comfort.

"Miles, my dear boy," observed Mr. Hardinge, after opening the door to look for the absentee half a dozen times, "we will wait no longer. My daughter, no doubt, intends to breakfast with Grace, to keep the poor dear girl company; for it is dull work to breakfast by oneself. You and I miss Lucy sadly, at this very moment, though we have each other's company to console us."

We had just taken our seats, when the door slowly opened, and Lucy entered the room.

"Good morning, dearest father," said the sweet girl, passing an arm round Mr. Hardinge's neck, with more than her usual tenderness of manner, and imprinting a long kiss on his bald head. "Good morning, Miles," stretching towards me a hand, but averting her face, as afraid it might reveal too much, when exposed fully to my anxious and inquiring gaze. "Grace passed a pretty quiet night, and is, I think, a little less disturbed this morning than she was yesterday."

Neither of us answered or questioned the dear nurse. What a breakfast was that, compared to so many hundreds in which I had shared at that very table, and in that same room! Three of the accustomed faces were there, it is true; all the appliances were familiar, some dating as far back as the time of the first Miles; Romeo, now a grey-headed and wrinkled negro, was in his usual place; but Chloe, who was accustomed to pass often between her young mistress and a certain closet, at that meal, which never seemed to have all we wanted arranged on the table at first, was absent, as was that precious "young mistress" herself. "Gracious Providence!" I mentally ejaculated, "is it thy will it should ever be thus? Am I never again to see those dove-like eyes turned on me in sisterly affection from the head of my table, as I have so often seen them, on hundreds and hundreds of occasions?" Lucy's spirits had sometimes caused her to laugh merrily; and her musical voice once used to mingle with Rupert's and my own more manly and deeper notes, in something like audible mirth; not that Lucy was ever boisterous or loud; but, in early girlhood, she had been gay and animated, to a degree that often blended with the noisier clamour of us boys. With Grace, this had never happened. She seldom spoke, except in moments when the rest were still; and her laugh was rarely audible, though so often heartfelt and joyous. It may seem strange to those who have never suffered the pang of feeling that such a customary circle was broken up forever; but, that morning, the first in which I keenly felt that my sister was lost to me, I actually missed her graceful, eloquent, silence!

"Miles," said Lucy, as she rose from the table, tears trembling on her eyelids as she spoke, "half an hour hence come to the family room. Grace wishes to see you there this morning, and I have not been able to deny her request. She is weak, but thinks the visit will do her good. Do not fail to be punctual, as waiting might distress her. Good morning, dearest papa; when I want you, I will send for you."

Lucy left us with these ominous notices, and I felt the necessity of going on the lawn for air. I walked my half-hour out, and returned to the house in time to be punctual to the appointment. Chloe met me at the door, and led the way in silence towards the family room. Her hand was no sooner laid on the latch than Lucy appeared, beckoning me to enter. I found Grace reclining on that small settee, or causeuse, on which we had held our first interview, looking pallid and uneasy, but still looking lovely and as ethereal as ever. She held out a hand affectionately, and then I saw her glance towards Lucy, as if asking to be left with me alone. As for myself, I could not speak. Taking my old place, I drew my sister's head on my bosom, and sat holding it in silence for many painful minutes. In that position I could conceal the tears which forced themselves from my eyes, it exceeding all my powers to repress these evidences of human grief. As I took my place, the figure of Lucy disappeared, and the door closed.

I never knew how long a time Grace and I continued in that tender attitude. I was not in a state of mind to note such a fact, and have since striven hard to forget most that occurred in that solemn interview. After a lapse of so many years, however, I find memory painfully accurate on all the leading circumstances, though it was impossible to recall a point of which I took no heed at the moment. Such things only as made an impression is it in my power to relate.

When Grace gently, and I might add faintly, raised herself from my bosom, she turned on me eyes that were filled with a kind anxiety on my account rather than on her own.

"Brother," she said, earnestly, "the will of God must be submitted to--I am very, very ill--broken in pieces--I grow weaker every hour. It is not right to conceal such a truth from ourselves, or from each other."

I made no reply, although she evidently paused to give me an opportunity to speak. I could not have uttered a syllable to have saved my life. The pause was impressive, rather than long.

"I have sent for you, dearest Miles," my sister continued, "not that I think it probable I shall be called away soon or suddenly--God will spare me for a little while, I humbly trust, in order to temper the blow to those I love; but he is about to call me to him, and we must all be prepared for it; you, and dear, dear Lucy, and my beloved guardian, as well as myself. I have not sent for you even to tell you this; for Lucy gives me reason to believe you expect the separation; but I wish to speak to you on a subject that is very near my heart, while I have strength and fortitude to speak on it at all. Promise me, dearest, to be calm, and to listen patiently."

"Your slightest wish will be a law to me, beloved, most precious sister; I shall listen as if we were in our days of childish confidence and happiness--though I fear those days are never to return!"

"Feel not thus, Miles, my noble-hearted, manly brother. Heaven will not desert you, unless you desert your God; it does not desert me, but angels beckon me to its bliss! Were it not for you and Lucy, and my dear, dear guardian, the hour of my departure would be a moment of pure felicity. But we will not talk of this now. You must prepare yourself, Miles, to hear me patiently, and to be indulgent to my last wishes, even should they seem unreasonable to your mind at first."

"I have told you, Grace, that a request of your's will be a law to me; have no hesitation, therefore, in letting me know any, or all your wishes."

"Let us, then, speak of worldly things; for the last time, I trust, my brother. Sincerely do I hope that this will be the last occasion on which I shall ever be called to allude to them. This duty discharged, all that will remain to me on earth will be the love I bear my friends. This Heaven itself will excuse, as I shall strive not to let it lessen that I bear my God."

Grace paused, and I sat wondering what was to follow, though touched to the heart by her beautiful resignation to a fate that to most so young would seem hard to be borne.

"Miles, my brother," she continued, looking at me anxiously, "we have not spoken much of your success in your last voyage, though I have understood that you have materially increased your means."

"It has quite equalled my expectations; and, rich in my ship and ready money, I am content, to say nothing of Clawbonny. Do what you will with your own, therefore, my sister; not a wish of mine shall ever grudge a dollar; I would rather not be enriched by your loss. Make your bequests freely, and I shall look on each and all of them as so many memorials of your affectionate heart and many virtues."

Grace's cheeks flushed, and I could see that she was extremely gratified, though still tremblingly anxious.

"You doubtless remember that by our father's will, Miles, my property becomes your's, if I die without children before I reach the age of twenty-one; while your's would have been mine under the same circumstances. As I am barely twenty, it is out of my power to make a legal will."

"It is in your power to make one that shall be equally binding, Grace. I will go this instant for pen, ink, and paper; and, as you dictate, will I write a will that shall be even more binding than one that might come within the rules of the law."

"Nay, brother, that is unnecessary; all I wish I have already said in a letter addressed to yourself; and which, should you now approve of it, will be found among my papers as a memorandum. But there should be no misapprehension between you and me, dearest Miles. I do not wish you even fully to consent to my wishes, now; take time to consider, and let your judgment have as much influence on your decision as your own excellent heart."

"I am as ready to decide at this moment as I shall be a year hence. It is enough for me that you wish the thing done, to have it done, sister."

"Bless you--bless you--brother"--said Grace, affectionately pressing my hand to her heart--"not so much that you consent to do as I wish, as for the spirit and manner in which you comply. Still, as I ask no trifle, it is proper that I release you from all pledges here given, and allow you time for reflection. Then, it is also proper you should know the full extent of what you promise."

"It is enough for me that it will be in my power to perform what you desire; further than that I make no stipulation."

I could see that Grace was profoundly struck with this proof of my attachment; but her own sense of right was too just and active to suffer the matter to rest there.

"I must explain further," she added. "Mr. Hardinge has been a most faithful steward; and, by means of economy, during my long minority, the little cost that has attended my manner of living, and some fortunate investments that have been made of interest-money, I find myself a good deal richer than I had supposed. In relinquishing my property, Miles, you will relinquish rather more than two-and-twenty thousand dollars; or quite twelve hundred a year. There ought to be no misapprehensions on this subject, between us; least of all at such a moment."

"I wish it were more, my sister, since it gives you pleasure to bestow it. If it will render you any happier to perfect any of your plans, take ten thousand of my own, and add to the sum which is now your's. I would increase, rather than lessen your means of doing good."

"Miles--Miles"--said Grace, dreadfully agitated--"talk not thus--it almost shakes my purpose! But no; listen now to my wishes, for I feel this will be the last time I shall ever dare to speak on the subject. In the first place, I wish you to purchase some appropriate ornament, of the value of five hundred dollars, and present it to Lucy as a memorial of her friend. Give also one thousand dollars in money to Mr. Hardinge, to be distributed in charity. A letter to him on the subject, and one to Lucy, will also be found among my papers. There will still remain enough to make suitable presents to the slaves, and leave the sum of twenty thousand dollars entire and untouched."

"And what shall I do with these twenty thousand dollars, sister?" I asked, Grace hesitating to proceed.

"That sum, dearest Miles, I wish to go to Rupert. You know that he is totally without fortune, with the habits of a man of estate. The little I can leave him will not make him rich, but it may be the means of making him happy and respectable. I trust Lucy will add to it, when she comes of age, and the future will be happier for them all than the past."

My sister spoke quick, and was compelled to pause for breath. As for myself, the reader can better imagine than I can describe my sensations, which were of a character almost to overwhelm me. The circumstance that I felt precluded from making any serious objections, added to the intensity of my suffering, left me in a state of grief, regret, indignation, wonder, pity and tenderness, that it is wholly out of my power to delineate. Here, then, was the tenderness of the woman enduring to the last; caring for the heartless wretch who had destroyed the very springs of life in her physical being, while it crushed the moral like a worm beneath the foot; yet bequeathing, with her dying breath, as it might be, all the worldly goods in her possession, to administer to his selfishness and vanity!

"I know you must think this strange, brother;" resumed Grace, who doubtless saw how utterly unable I was to reply; "but, I shall not die at peace with myself without it. Unless he possess some marked assurance of my forgiveness, my death will render Rupert miserable; with such a marked assurance, he will be confident of possessing my pardon and my prayers. Then, both he and Emily are pennyless, I fear, and their lives may be rendered blanks for the want of the little money it is in my power to bestow. At the proper time, Lucy, I feel confident, will add her part; and you, who remain behind me, can all look on my grave, and bless its humble tenant!"

"Angel!" I murmured--"this is too much! Can you suppose Rupert will accept this money?"

Ill as I thought of Rupert Hardinge, I could not bring my mind to believe he was so base as to receive money coming from such a source, and with such a motive. Grace, however, viewed the matter differently; not that she attached anything discreditable to Rupert's compliance, for her own womanly tenderness, long and deeply rooted attachment, made it appear to her eyes more as an act of compliance with her own last behest, than as the act of degrading meanness it would unquestionably appear to be, to all the rest of the world.

"How can he refuse this to me, coming to him, as the request will, from my grave?" rejoined the lovely enthusiast. "He will owe it to me; he will owe it to our former affection--for he once loved me, Miles; nay, he loved me even more than you ever did, or could, dearest--much as I know you love me."

"By heavens, Grace," I exclaimed, unable to control myself any longer, "that is a fearful mistake. Rupert Hardinge is incapable of loving anything but himself; he has never been worthy of occupying the most idle moment of a heart true and faithful as your's."

These words escaped me under an impulse I found entirely impossible to control. Scarcely were they uttered, ere I deeply regretted the indiscretion. Grace looked at me imploringly, turned as pale as death, and trembled all over, as if on the verge of dissolution. I took her in my arms, I implored her pardon, I promised to command myself in future, and I repeated the most solemn assurances of complying with her wishes to the very letter. I am not certain I could have found it in my heart not to have recalled my promise, but for the advantage my sister obtained over me, by means of this act of weakness. There was something so exceedingly revolting to me in the whole affair, that even Grace's holy weakness failed to sanctify the act in my eyes; at least so far as Rupert was concerned. I owe it to myself to add that not a selfish thought mingled with my reluctance, which proceeded purely from the distaste I felt to seeing Lucy's brother, and a man for whom I had once entertained a boyish regard, making himself so thoroughly an object of contempt. As I entertained serious doubts of even Rupert's sinking so low, I felt the necessity of speaking to my sister on the subject of such a contingency.

"One might hesitate about accepting your money, after all, dearest sister," I said; "and it is proper you give me directions what I am to do, in the event of Rupert's declining the gift."

"I think that is little probable, Miles," answered Grace, who lived and died under a species of hallucination on the subject of her early lover's real character--"Rupert may not have been able to command his affections, but he cannot cease to feel a sincere friendship for me; to remember our ancient confidence and intimacy. He will receive the bequest, as you would take one from dear Lucy," added my sister, a painful-looking smile illuminating that angelic expression of countenance to which I have so often alluded; "or, as that of a sister. You would not refuse such a thing to Lucy's dying request, and why should Rupert to mine?"

Poor Grace! Little did she see the immense difference there was in my relation to Lucy and that which Rupert bore to her. I could not explain this difference, however, but merely assented to her wishes, renewing, for the fourth or fifth time, my pledges of performing with fidelity all she asked at my hands. Grace then put into my hands an unsealed letter addressed to Rupert, which she desired me to read when alone, and which I was to have delivered with the legacy or donation of money.

"Let me rest once more on your bosom, Miles," said Grace, reclining her head in my arms, quite exhausted under the reaction of the excitement she had felt while urging her request. "I feel happier, at this moment, than I have been for a long time; yet, my increasing weakness admonishes me it cannot last long. Miles, darling, you must remember all our sainted mother taught you in childhood, and you will not mourn over my loss. Could I leave you united to one who understood and appreciated your worth, I should die contented. But you will be left alone, poor Miles; for a time, at least, you will mourn for me."

"Forever--long as life lasts, beloved Grace," I murmured, almost in her ear.

Exhaustion kept my sister quiet for a quarter of an hour, though I felt an occasional pressure of her hands, both of which held one of mine; and I could hear words asking blessings and consolation for me, whispered, from time to time, in heartfelt petitions to heaven. As she gained strength by repose, my sister felt the desire to continue the discourse revive. I begged her not to incur the risk of further fatigue but she answered, smiling affectionately in my face--

"Rest!--There will be no permanent rest for me, until laid by the side of my parents. Miles, do your thoughts ever recur to that picture of the future that is so precious to the believer, and which leads us to hope, if not absolutely to confide in it as a matter of faith, that we may recognise each other in the next state of being, and that in a communion still sweeter than any of this life, since it will be a communion free from all sin, and governed by holiness?"

"We sailors give little heed to these matters, Grace; but I feel that, in future, the idea you have just mentioned will be full of consolation to me."

"Remember, my best-beloved brother, it is only the blessed that can enjoy such a recognition--to the accursed it must add an additional weight to the burthen of their woe."

"Felix trembled!" The thought that even this chance of again meeting my sister, and of communing with her in the form in which I had ever seen and loved her might be lost, came in aid of other good resolutions that the state of the family had quickened in my heart. I thought, however, it might be well not to let Grace lead the conversation to such subjects, after all that had just passed, repose becoming necessary to her again. I therefore proposed calling Lucy, in order that she might be carried to her own room. I say carried; for, by a remark that fell from Chloe, I had ascertained that this was the mode in which she had been brought to the place of meeting. Grace acquiesced; but while we waited for Chloe to answer the bell, she continued to converse.

"I have not exacted of you, Miles," my sister continued, "any promise to keep my bequest a secret from the world; your own sense of delicacy would do that; but, I will make it a condition that you do not speak of it to either Mr. Hardinge or Lucy. They may possibly raise weak objections, particularly the last, who has, and ever has had, some exaggerated opinions about receiving money. Even in heydays of poverty, and poor as she was, you know, notwithstanding our true love for each other, and close intimacy, I never could induce Lucy to receive a cent. Nay, so scrupulous has she been that the little presents which friends constantly give and receive, she would decline, because she had not the means of offering them in return."

I remembered the gold the dear girl had forced on me, when I first went to sea, and could have kneeled at her feet and called her "blessed."

"And this did not make you love and respect Lucy the less, my sister? But do not answer; so much conversing must distress you."

"Not at all, Miles. I speak without suffering, nor does the little talking I do enfeeble me in the least. When I appear exhausted, it is from the feelings which accompany our discourse. I talk much, very much, with dear Lucy, who hears me with more patience than yourself, brother!"

I knew that this remark applied to Grace's wish to dwell on the unknown future, and did not receive it as a reproach in any other sense. As she seemed calm, however, I was willing to indulge her wish to converse with me, so long as she dwelt on subjects that did not agitate her. Speaking of her hopes of heaven had a contrary effect, and I made no further opposition.

"Lucy's hesitation to be under the obligations you mention did not lessen her in your esteem?" I repeated.

"You know it could not, Miles. Lucy is a dear, good girl; and the more intimately one knows her, the more certain is one to esteem her. I have every reason to bless and pray for Lucy; still, I desire you not to make either her or her father acquainted with my bequest."

"Rupert would hardly conceal such a thing from so near and dear friends."

"Let Rupert judge of the propriety of that for himself. Kiss me, brother; do not ask to see me again to-day, for I have much to arrange with Lucy; to-morrow I shall expect a long visit. God bless you, my own, dear,--my only brother, and ever have you in his holy keeping!"

I left the room as Chloe entered; and, in threading the long passage that led to the apartment which was appropriated to my own particular purposes, as an office, cabinet, or study, I met Lucy near the door of the latter. I could see she had been weeping, and she followed me into the room.

"What do you think of her, Miles?" the dear girl asked, uttering the words in a tone so low and plaintive as to say all that she anticipated herself.

"We shall lose her, Lucy; yes, 'tis God's pleasure to call her to himself."

Had worlds depended on the effort, I could not have got out another syllable. The feelings which had been so long pent up in Grace's presence broke out, and I am not ashamed to say that I wept and sobbed like an infant.

How kind, how woman-like, how affectionate did Lucy show herself at that bitter moment. She said but little, though I think I overheard her murmuring "poor Miles!"--"poor, dear Miles!"--"what a blow it must be to a brother!"--"God will temper this loss to him!" and other similar expressions. She took one of my hands and pressed it warmly between both her own; held it there for two or three minutes; hovered round me, as the mother keeps near its slumbering infant when illness renders rest necessary; and seemed more like a spirit sympathizing with my grief than a mere observer of its violence. In reflecting on what then passed months afterwards, it appeared to me that Lucy had entirely forgotten herself, her own causes of sorrow, her own feelings as respected Grace, in the single wish to solace me. But this was ever her character; this was her very nature; to live out of herself, as it might be, and in the existences of those whom she esteemed or loved. During this scene, Lucy lost most of the restraints which womanhood and more matured habits had placed on her deportment; and she behaved towards me with the innocent familiarity that marked our intercourse down to the time I sailed in the Crisis. It is true, I was too dreadfully agitated at first to take heed of all that passed; but, I well remember, that, before leaving me in obedience to a summons from Grace, she laid her head affectionately on mine, and kissed the curls with which nature had so profusely covered the last. I thought, at the time, notwithstanding, that the salute would have been on the forehead, or cheek, three years before, or previously to her acquaintance with Drewett.

I was a long time in regaining entire self-command; but, when I did, I opened my sister's letter to Rupert, agreeably to her request, and perused it thrice without a pause, even to reflect. It was conceived in these words:--

"My Dearest Rupert--

"God, in his infinite and inscrutable wisdom, when you read this letter, will have seen fit to call me to himself. Let not this seeming loss, in any manner, afflict you, my friend; for I feel the humble assurance that I shall reap the full benefit of the Saviour's great sacrifice. I could not have been happy in this life, Rupert; and it is a mercy that I am taken, thus early, to a better. It grieves me to part from your excellent father, from yourself, from our precious and rightfully beloved Lucy, and from dear, dear Miles. This is the last tribute I pay to nature, and I hope it will be pardoned for its character. There is a strong hope within me, that my death will be sanctified to the benefit of my friends. With this view, and this view only, beloved Rupert, I wish you to remember it. In all other respects let it be forgotten. You have found it impossible to command your affections, and worlds would not have tempted me to become your wife without possessing all your heart. I pray daily, almost hourly"--tears had evidently blotted this portion of the letter--"for you and Emily. Live together, and make each other happy. She is a sweet girl; has enjoyed advantages that Clawbonny could not bestow, and which will contribute to your gratification. In order that you may sometimes think of me"--poor Grace was not aware of this contradiction in her requests--"Miles will send you a legacy that I leave you. Accept it as a little fortune with Emily. I wish sincerely, it were much larger; but you will not overlook the intention, and forget the insufficiency of the sum. Small as it is, I trust it will enable you to marry at once, and Lucy's heart may be confided in for the rest.

"Farewell, Rupert--I do not say, farewell Emily; for I think this letter, as well as its object, had better remain a secret between you and me, and my brother--but I wish your future wife all earthly happiness, and an end as full of hope as that which attends the death-bed of your affectionate

"Grace Wallingford."

Oh! woman, woman, what are ye not, when duly protected and left to the almost divine impulses of your generous natures! What may ye not become, when rendered mercenary and envious by too close a contact with those worldly interests which are never admitted to an ascendancy without destroying all your moral beauty!

Chapter VII.

"And the beautiful, whose record
Is the verse that cannot die,
They too are gone, with their glorious bloom,
From the love of human eye."

Mrs. Hemans.

I cannot dwell minutely on the events of the week that succeeded. Grace sunk daily, hourly; and the medical advice that was obtained, more as a duty than with any hope of its benefiting the patient, failed of assisting her. Mr. Hardinge saw the invalid often, and I was admitted to her room each day, where she would lie, reclining on my bosom for hours at a time, seemingly fond of this innocent indulgence of her affections, on the eve of her final departure. As it was out of the question that my sister should again visit the family room, the causeuse was brought into her chamber, where it was made to perform the office to which it had been several times devoted in its proper apartment since my return from sea. That venerable chair still exists, and I often pass thoughtful hours in it in my old age, musing on the past, and recalling the different scenes and conversations of which it could tell, did it possess consciousness and the faculty of speech.

Mr. Hardinge officiated in his own church, agreeably to his intention, on the succeeding Sunday. Lucy remained with her friend; and I make no doubt their spirits devoutly communed with ours the while; for I mastered sufficient fortitude to be present at St. Michael's. I could observe an earnest sympathy in every member of the little congregation; and tears fell from nearly every eye when the prayer for the sick was read. Mr. Hardinge remained at the rectory for the further duties of the day; but I rode home immediately after morning service, too uneasy to remain absent from the house longer than was necessary, at such a moment. As my horse trotted slowly homeward, he overtook Neb, who was walking towards Clawbonny, with an air so different from his customary manner, I could not help remarking it. Neb was a muscular, active black, and usually walked as if his legs were all springs; but he moved along now so heavily, that I could not but see some weight upon the spirits had produced this influence on the body. The change was, naturally enough, attributed to the state of affairs with Chloe; and I felt disposed to say a word to my faithful slave, who had been unavoidably overlooked in the pressure of sorrow that had weighed me down for the last ten days. I spoke to the poor fellow as cheerfully as I could, as I came up, and endeavoured to touch on such subjects as I thought might interest without troubling him.

"This is a famous windfall that has crossed Mr. Marble's track, Neb," I said, pulling up, in order to go a short distance at an even pace with my brother-tar. "As nice an old woman for a mother, as pretty a little girl for a niece, and as snug a haven to moor in, at the end of the voyage, as any old worn-out sea-dog could or ought to wish."

"Yes, sir, Masser Mile," Neb answered, as I fancied, in the manner of one who was thinking of something different from what he said; "yes, sir, Mr. Marble a reg'lar sea-dog."

"And as such not the less entitled to have a good old mother, a pretty niece, and a snug home."

"No, sir; none de wuss for bin' sea-dog, all must allow. Nebberdeless, Masser Mile, I sometime wish you and I nebber hab see salt water."

"That is almost as much as wishing we never looked down the Hudson from the hills and banks of Clawbonny boy; the river itself being salt not far below us. You are thinking of Chloe, and fancying, that had you stayed at home, your chance of getting into her good graces would have been better."

"No, Masser Mile; no, sir. Nobody at Clawbonny t'ink, just now, of anyt'ing but deat'."

I started in surprise. Mr. Hardinge kept everything like exaggeration and those physical excitements which it is so much the habit of certain sects to mistake for religious impulses, even from the negroes of the Clawbonny property. Neb's speech sounded more like an innovation of this nature than I had ever heard among my people; and I looked hard at the fellow for an instant, before I answered.

"I am afraid I understand you, Neb," was my reply, after a meaning pause. "It is a relief to me to find that my people retain all their affections for the children of their old master and mistress."

"We hard-hearted indeed, sir, if we don't. Ah! Masser Mile, you and I see many dreadful t'ing togeder, but we nebber see any t'ing like dis!"

Neb's dark cheek was glistening with tears as he spoke, and I spurred my horse, lest my own manhood might give way, there in the road, and in the presence of those who were fast approaching. Why Neb had expressed sorrow for having ever gone to sea, I could not account for in any other manner than by supposing that he imagined Grace was, in some manner, a sufferer by my absence from home.

When I reached the house, not a soul was visible. The men had all gone to church, and were to be seen in the distance, coming, along the road, singly and in a melancholy manner, not a sign of the customary, thoughtless merriment of a negro escaping a single individual among them; but it was usual for some of the black Venuses to be seen sunning themselves at that season, exhibiting their summer finery to each other and their admirers. Not one was now visible. All the front of the house, the lawn, the kitchens, of which there were no less than three, and the kitchen yards; in short, every familiar haunt of the dwelling was deserted and empty. This boded evil; and, throwing the bridle over a post, I walked hurriedly towards the part of the building, or buildings, would be a better word, inhabited by Grace.

As I entered the passage which communicated with my sisters own room, the departure from ordinary appearances was explained. Six or seven of the negresses were kneeling near the door, and I could hear the low, solemn, earnest voice of Lucy, reading some of the collects and other prayers suited to the sick-chamber and to the wants of a parting soul. Lucy's voice was music itself, but never before had it sounded so plaintively sweet. The lowest intonation was distinctly audible, as if the dear, devout creature felt that the Being she addressed was not to be approached in any other manner, while the trembling earnestness of the tones betrayed the depth of feeling with which each syllable escaped from the heart. Talk of liturgies impairing the fervour of prayer! This may be the fact with those who are immersed in themselves while communing with God, and cannot consent even to pray without placing their own thoughts and language, however ill-digested and crude, uppermost in the business of the moment. Do not such persons know that, as respects united worship, their own prayers are, to all intents and purposes, a formulary to their listeners, with the disadvantage of being received without preparation or direction to the mind?--nay, too often substituting a critical and prurient curiosity for humble and intelligent prayer? In these later times, when Christianity is re-assuming the character of the quarrels of sects, and, as an old man who has lived, and hopes to die, in communion with the Anglo-American church, I do not wish to exculpate my own particular branch of the Catholic body from blame; but, in these later times, when Christianity is returning to its truculency, forgetful of the chiefest of virtues, Charity, I have often recalled the scene of that solemn noon-tide, and asked myself the question, "if any man could have heard Lucy, as I did, on that occasion, concluding with the petition which Christ himself gave to his disciples as a comprehensive rule, if not absolutely as a formulary, and imagine the heart could not fully accompany words that had been previously prescribed?"

No sooner had Lucy's solemn tones ceased than I passed through the crowd of weeping and still kneeling blacks, and entered my sister's room. Grace was reclining in an easy chair; her eyes closed, her hands clasped together, but lying on her knees, and her whole attitude and air proclaiming a momentary but total abstraction of the spirit. I do not think she heard my footstep at all, and I stood at her side an instant, uncertain whether to let her know of my presence, or not. At this instant I caught the eye of Lucy, who seemed intent on the wish to speak to me. Grace had three or four small rooms that communicated with each other, in her part of the dwelling; and into one of these, which served as a sort of boudoir, though the name was then unknown in America, I followed the dear girl, whose speaking but sad look had bidden me do so.

"Is my father near at hand?" Lucy asked, with an interest I did not understand, since she must have known he intended to remain at his own residence, in readiness for the afternoon service.

"He is not. You forget he has to attend to evening prayers."

"I have sent for him--Miles," taking one of my hands in both her own, with the tenderness a mother would manifest to a very dear child, "dear Miles, you must summon all your fortitude."

"Is my sister worse?" I demanded, huskily; for, prepared as I was for the result, I was not expecting it by any means so soon.

"I cannot call it worse, Miles, to be about to be called away to God in such a frame of mind. But it is proper I should tell you all. Rather less than an hour since, Grace told me that the hour was at hand. She has the knowledge of her approaching end, though she would not let me send for you. She said you would have ample time to witness it all. For my father, however, I have sent, and he must soon be here."

"Almighty Providence! Lucy, do you really think we shall lose Grace so soon?"

"As it is the will of God to take her from us, Miles, I can scarce repine that her end should be so easy, and, in all respects, so tranquil."

So long as memory is granted to me, will the picture that Lucy presented at that moment remain vividly impressed on my mind. She loved Grace as a most dear sister; loved her as an affectionate, generous-minded, devoted woman alone can love; and yet, so keenly was she alive to the nature of the communication it was her duty to make, that concern for me alone reigned in her saddened and anxious eye. Her mind had schooled itself to bear its own grief; and meek, believing, and disposed to foresee all that her profound faith taught her to hope, I do believe she considered my sister a subject of envy rather than of regret, though her solicitude on my account was so absorbing. This generous self-denial touched my feelings in more ways than one, enabling me to command myself to a degree that might otherwise have been out of my power, during the few succeeding hours. I felt ashamed to manifest all I endured in the presence of so much meek but pious fortitude, and that exhibited by one whose heart I so well knew to be the very seat of the best human affections. The sad smile that momentarily illuminated Lucy's countenance, as she gazed anxiously in my face when speaking, was full of submissive hope and Christian faith.

"God's will be done," I rather whispered than uttered aloud. "Heaven is a place more suited to such a spirit than the abodes of men."

Lucy pressed my hand, and appeared relieved from a load of intense anxiety by this seeming fortitude. She bade me remain where I was, until she had herself apprized Grace of my return from church. I could see through the open door that the negresses had been directed to retire, and presently I heard the footstep of Mr. Hardinge approaching the room adjoining that in which I then was, and which answered the purpose of a sort of ante-chamber for those who came to the sick-room from the more public side of the house. I met my excellent old guardian in that apartment, and Lucy was at my side at the next instant. One word from the last sufficed to keep us in this room while she returned to that of Grace.

"God have mercy on us, my dear boy"--the divine ejaculated, as much in prayer as in grief--"and I say on us, as well as on you, for Grace has ever been dear to me as a child of my own. I knew the blow must come, and have prayed the Lord to prepare us all for it, and to sanctify it to us, old and young; but, notwithstanding, death has come 'literally' when no man knoweth. I must have materials for writing, Miles, and you will choose an express for me out of your people; let the man be ready to mount in half an hour; for I shall not require half that time to prepare my letter."

"Medical advice is useless, I am afraid, dear sir," I answered. "We have Post's directions, and very respectable attendance from our own family physician, Dr. Wurtz, who gave me to understand several days since that he saw no other means of averting the evil we dread than those already adopted. Still, sir, I shall be easier, if we can persuade Dr. Bard to cross the river, and have already thought of sending Neb once more on that errand."

"Do so," returned Mr. Hardinge, drawing towards him a little table on which Dr. Wurtz had written a few prescriptions that were used more for form, I believe, than any expectation of the good they could do; and beginning to write, even while talking--"Do so"--he added--"and Neb can put this letter in the post-office on the eastern bank of the river, which will be the quickest mode of causing it to reach Rupert"

"Rupert!" I exclaimed, on a key that I instantly regretted.

"Certainly; we can do no less than send for Rupert, Miles. He has ever been like a brother to Grace, and the poor fellow would feel the neglect keenly, did we overlook him on an occasion like this. You seem astonished at my thinking of summoning him to Clawbonny."

"Rupert is at the springs, sir--happy in the society of Miss Merton--would it not be better to leave him where he is?"

"What would you think, Miles, were Lucy on her death-bed, and we should fail to let you know it?"

I gazed so wildly at the good old man, I believe, that even his simplicity could not avoid seeing the immense difference between the real and the supposititious case.

"Very true, poor Miles; very true," Mr. Hardinge added, in an apologetic manner; "I see the weakness of my comparison, though I was beginning to hope you were already regarding Lucy, once more, with the eyes of a brother. But Rupert must not be forgotten neither; and here is my letter already written."

"It will be too late, sir," I got out, hoarsely--"my sister cannot survive the day."

I perceived that Mr. Hardinge was not prepared for this, his cheek grew pale, and his hand trembled as he sealed the epistle. Still he sent it, as I afterwards discovered.

"God's will be done!" the excellent divine murmured. "If such should really be his holy will, we ought not to mourn that another humble Christian spirit is called away to the presence of its great Creator! Rupert can, at least, attend, to do honour to all that we can honour of the saint we lose."

There was no resisting or contending with so much simplicity and goodness of heart; and, had it been in my power, a summons to the room of Grace called all my thoughts to her. My sister's eyes were now open. I shuddered, felt a sinking of the heart like that produced by despair, as I caught their unearthly or rather their supernatural expression. It was not that anything which indicated death in its more shocking aspects met my look, but simply that I could trace the illumination of a spirit that already felt itself on the eve of a new state of being, and one that must at least separate all that remained behind from any further communication with itself. I am not certain that I felt no pang at the thought my sister could be entirely happy without any participation on my part in her bliss. We are all so selfish that it is hard to say how far even our most innocent longings are free from the taint of this feature of our nature.

But Grace, herself, could not entirely shake off the ties of kindred and human love so long as her spirit continued in its earthly tenement. So far from this, every glance she cast on one or all of us denoted the fathomless tenderness of her nature, and was filled with its undying affection. She was weak, frightfully so I fancied; for death appeared to hasten in order to release her as swiftly and easily as possible; yet did her interest in me and in Lucy sustain her sufficiently to enable her to impart much that she wished to say. In obedience to a sign from her, I knelt at her side, and received her head on my bosom, as near as possible in that attitude in which we had already passed hours since her illness. Mr. Hardinge hovered over us, like a ministering spirit, uttering in a suppressed and yet distinct voice, some of the sublimest of those passages from scripture that are the most replete with consolation to the parting spirit. As for Lucy, to me she seemed to be precisely in that spot where she was most wanted; and often did Grace's eyes turn towards her with gleamings of gratitude and love.

"The hour is near, brother," Grace whispered, as she lay on my bosom. "Remember, I die asking forgiveness as much for those who may have done me wrong, as for myself. Forget nothing that you have promised me; do nothing to cause Lucy and her father sorrow."

"I understand you, sister"--was my low answer. "Depend on all I have said--all you can wish."

A gentle pressure of the hand was the token of contentment with which this assurance was received.

From that moment it seemed to me that Grace was less than usual attached to the things of the world. Nevertheless, her interest in those she loved, and who loved her, continued to the last.

"Let all the slaves that wish to see me, enter," Grace said, rousing herself to perform a trying but necessary duty. "I never can repay them for all they have done for me; but I trust them to you, Miles, with confidence."

Lucy glided from the room, and in a few minutes the long train of dark faces was seen approaching the door. The grief of these untutored beings, like their mirth, is usually loud and vociferous; but Lucy, dear, considerate, energetic Lucy--energetic even in the midst of a sorrow that nearly crushed her to the earth--had foreseen all this, and the blacks were admitted only on the condition of their preserving a command over themselves in the interview.

Grace spoke to every one of the females, taking leave of each calmly and with some useful and impressive admonition, while all the older men were also noticed personally.

"Go, and rejoice that I am so soon released from the cares of this world," she said, when the sad ceremony was over. "Pray for me, and for yourselves. My brother knows my wishes in your behalf, and will see them executed. God bless you, my friends, and have you in his holy keeping."

So great was the ascendency Lucy had obtained over these poor simple creatures during the short time they had been under her mild but consistent rule, that each and all left the room as quiet as children, awe-struck by the solemnity of the scene. Still, the oldest and most wrinkled of their cheeks were wet with tears, and it was only by the most extraordinary efforts that they were enabled to repress the customary outbreakings of sorrow. I had gone to a window to conceal my own feelings after this leave-taking, when a rustling in the bushes beneath it caught my ear. Looking out, there lay Neb, flat on his face, his Herculean frame extended at full length, his hands actually gripping the earth under the mental agony he endured, and yet the faithful fellow would not even utter a groan, lest it might reach his young mistress's ears, and disquiet her last moments. I afterwards ascertained he had taken that post in order that he might learn from time to time, by means of signs from Chloe, how things proceeded in the chamber above. Lucy soon recalled me to my old post, Grace having expressed a wish to that effect.

"It will be but an hour, and we shall all be together again," Grace said, startling us all by the clearness and distinctness of her enunciation. "The near approach of death places us on a height whence we can see the entire world and its vanities at a single view."

I pressed the dying girl closer to my heart, a species of involuntary declaration of the difficulty I experienced in regarding her loss with the religious philosophy she was inculcating.

"Mourn not for me, Miles"--she continued--"yet I know you will mourn. But God will temper the blow, and in his mercy may cause it to profit you for ever."

I did not, could not answer. I saw Grace endeavouring to get a look at my countenance, as if to observe the effect of the scene. By my assistance she was so placed as to obtain her wish. The sight, I believe, aroused feelings that had begun to yield to the influence of the last great change; for, when my sister spoke next, it was with a tenderness of accent that proved how hard it for those who are deeply affectionate to lose their instincts.

"Poor Miles! I almost wish we could go together! You have been a dear, good brother to me"--(What a sweet consolation I afterwards found in these words)--"It grieves me to leave you so nearly alone in the world. But you will have Mr. Hardinge, and our Lucy--"

The pause, and the look that succeeded, caused a slight tremour to pass over my frame. Grace's eyes turned anxiously from me to the form of the kneeling and weeping Lucy. I fancied that she was about to express a wish, or some regret, in connection with us two, that even at such a moment I could not have heard without betraying the concern it would give me. She did not speak, however, though her look was too eloquent to be mistaken. I ascribed the forbearance to the conviction that it would be too late, Lucy's affections belonging to Andrew Drewett. At that instant I had a bitter remembrance of Neb's words of "I sometime wish, Masser Mile, you and I nebber had see salt water." But that was not the moment to permit such feelings to get the mastery; and Grace, herself, felt too clearly that her minutes were numbered to allow her mind to dwell on the subject.

"An Almighty Providence will direct everything for the best, in this as in other things," she murmured; though it was still some little time, I thought, before her mind reverted to her own situation. The welfare of two as much beloved as Lucy and myself, could not be a matter of indifference to one of Grace's disposition, even in the hour of death.

Mr. Hardinge now knelt, and the next quarter of an hour passed in prayer. When the divine rose from his knees, Grace, her countenance beaming with an angelic serenity, gave him her hand, and in a clear, distinct voice, she uttered a prayer for blessings, connecting her petitions with the gratitude due him, for his care of us orphans. I never saw the old man so much touched before. This unexpected benediction, for it had that character, coming from youth to age, quite unmanned him. The old man sunk into a chair, weeping uncontrollably. This aroused Lucy, who regarded the grey hairs of her father with awe, as she witnessed the strength of his emotions. But feelings of this nature could not long absorb a man like Mr. Hardinge, who soon regained as much of the appearance of composure as it was possible to maintain by such a death-bed.

"Many may think me young to die," Grace observed; "but I am weary of the world. It is my wish to submit myself to the will of God; but, blessed be his holy name, that he sees fit to call me to him this day. Lucy, beloved one--go into the next room, and draw the curtain asunder; I shall then be enabled to gaze on the fields of dear Clawbonny once more; that will be my last look at the outer world."

This leave-taking of inanimate things, objects long known and loved, is of frequent occurrence with the dying. It is not in our natures to quit for ever this beautiful world, without casting "one longing, lingering look behind." The hand of its divine Creator was gloriously impressed on the rural loveliness of my native fields that day, and a holy tranquillity seemed to reign over the grain, the orchards, the meadows, and the wooded heights. The couch of Grace was purposely placed at a point in her own chamber that commanded a wide view of the farm, through the vista formed by the door and windows of the adjoining room. Here she had often sat, during her confinement to her rooms, contemplating scenes so familiar and so much loved. I saw her lips quiver as she now gazed on them for the last time, and was convinced some unusual sentiment, connected with the past, pressed on her feelings at that instant. I could see the same view myself, and perceived that her eyes were riveted on the little wood where Rupert and I had met the girls on our return from sea; a favourite place of resort, and one that, I doubted not, had often been the witness of the early confidence between Grace and her recreant lover. Death was actually hovering over that sainted being at the moment; but her woman's heart was not, could not, be insensible to the impressions produced by such a sight. In vain the warm light from the heavens bathed the whole landscape in a flood of glory; in vain the meadows put forth their flowers, the woods their variegated, bright, American verdure, and the birds their innocent gaiety and brilliant plumage; the fancy of Grace was portraying scenes that had once been connected with the engrossing sentiment of her life. I felt her tremble, as she lay in my arms; and bending my head towards her in tender concern, I could just distinguish the murmuring of a prayer that it was easy to understand was a petition offered up in behalf of Rupert. This done, she asked, herself, to have the curtain drawn again, to shut out the obtrusive thought for ever.

I have often thought, since the events of that sad day that Grace's dissolution was hastened by this accidental recurrence of her mind to Rupert and his forgotten love. I call it love, though I question if a being so thoroughly selfish ever truly loved any one but himself; perhaps not himself, indeed, in a way to entitle the feeling to so respectable an epithet. Grace certainly drooped the faster from that unfortunate moment. It is true, we all expected her death, thought it would occur that day even, though surprised at the suddenness with which it came at last; but we did not expect it within an hour.

And what an hour was that which succeeded! Both Mr. Hardinge and Lucy passed quite half of it on their knees, engaged in silent prayer; for it was thought petitions uttered aloud might disturb the sick. There were minutes in which the stillness of the tomb already reigned among us. I am not enough of a physician to say whether the change that now came over my sister's mind was the consequence of any shock received in that long, intense look at the wood, or whether it proceeded from the sinking of the system, and was connected with that mysterious link which binds the immortal part of our being so closely to the material, until the tie is loosened forever. It is certain, however, that Grace's thoughts wandered; and, while they never lost entirely their leaning towards faith and a bright Christian hope, they became tinctured with something allied to childish simplicity, if not absolutely to mental weakness. Nevertheless, there was a moral beauty about Grace, that no failing of the faculties could ever totally eradicate.

It was fully half an hour that the breathing quiet of prayer lasted. In all that time my sister scarcely stirred, her own hands being clasped together, and her eyes occasionally lifted to heaven. At length she seemed to revive a little, and to observe external objects. In the end, she spoke.

"Lucy, dearest," she said, "what has become of Rupert? Does he know I am dying? If so, why does he not come and see me, for the last time?"

It is scarcely necessary for me to say how much Lucy and myself were startled at this question. The former buried her face in her hands without making any reply; but good Mr. Hardinge, altogether unconscious of anything's being wrong, was eager to exculpate his son.

"Rupert has been sent for, my dear child," he said, "and, though he is engrossed with love and Miss Merton, he will not fail to hasten hither the instant he receives my letter."

"Miss Merton!" repeated Grace, pressing both her hands on her temples--"who is she? I do not remember anybody of that name?"

We now understood that the mind of the dear patient was losing its powers; of course no efforts were made to give a truer direction to her thoughts. We could only listen, and weep. Presently, Grace passed an arm round the neck of Lucy, and drew her towards her, with a childish earnestness.

"Lucy, love," she continued--"we will persuade these foolish boys from this notion of going to sea. What if Miles's father, and Rupert's great-grand-father were sailors; it is no reason they should be sailors too!"

She paused, appeared to meditate, and turned towards me. Her head was still inclining on my bosom, and she gazed upwards at my face, as fondly as she did in that tender meeting we held just after my return home, in the family room. There was sufficient strength to enable her to raise her pallid but not emaciated hand to my face, even while she passed it over my cheeks, once more parting the curls on my temples, and playing with my hair, with infantile fondness.

"Miles," the dear angel whispered, utterance beginning to fail her--"do you remember what mother told us about always speaking the truth? You are a manly boy, brother, and have too much pride to say anything but the truth; I wish Rupert were as frank."

This was the first, the last, the only intimation I had ever heard from Grace, of her being conscious of any defect in Rupert's character. Would to God she had seen this important deficiency earlier! though this is wishing a child to possess the discernment and intelligence of a woman. The hand was still on my cheek, and I would not have had it removed at that bitter moment to have been well assured of Lucy's love.

"See," my sister resumed, though she now spoke merely in a whisper--"how brown his cheek is, though his forehead is white. I doubt if mother would know him, Lucy. Is Rupert's cheek as brown as this, dear?"

"Rupert has not been as much exposed of late as Miles," Lucy answered huskily, Grace's arm still clinging to her neck.

The well-known voice appeared to awaken a new train of thought.

"Lucy," my sister asked, "are you as fond of Miles as we both used to be, when children?"

"I have always had, and shall ever retain, a deep affection for Miles Wallingford," Lucy answered, steadily.

Grace now turned towards me, releasing her hold of Lucy's neck, from pure inability to sustain it; and she fastened her serene blue eyes on my countenance, whence they never deviated while she breathed. My tears were uncontrollable, and they seemed to perplex rather that distress her. Of a sudden, we heard her voice aloud, speaking gently, but with a fervour that rendered it distinct. The words she uttered were full of the undying affection of a heart that never turned away from me for a single instant; no, not even in the petulance of childhood. "Almighty Father," she said, "look down from thy mercy-seat on this dear brother--keep him for thyself; and, in thy good time, call him, through the Saviour's love, to thy mansions of bliss."

These were the last words that Grace Wallingford ever spoke. She lived ten minutes longer; and she died on my bosom like the infant that breathes its last in the arms of its mother. Her lips moved several times; once I fancied I caught the name of "Lucy," though I have reason to think she prayed for us all, Rupert included, down to the moment she ceased to exist.

Chapter VIII.

"There have been sweet singing voices
In your walks that now are still;
There are seats left void, in your earthly homes,
Which none again may fill."

Mrs. Hemans.

I never saw the body of my sister, after I handed it, resembling a sleeping infant, to the arms of Lucy. There is a sort of mania in some, a morbid curiosity, to gaze on the features of the dead; but, with me, it has ever been the reverse. I had been taken to the family room to contemplate and weep over the faces of both my parents, but this was at an age when it became me to be passive. I was now at a time of life when I might be permitted to judge for myself; and, as soon as I began to think at all on the subject, which was not for some hours, however, I resolved that the last look of love, the sweet countenance, sinking in death it is true, but still animate and beaming with the sentiments of her pure heart, should be the abiding impression of my sister's form. I have cherished it ever since, and often have I rejoiced that I did not permit any subsequent images of a corpse to supplant it. As respects both my parents, the images left on my mind, for years and years, was painful rather than pleasing.

Grace's body was no sooner out of my arms, I had scarcely imprinted the last long kiss on the ivory-like but still warm forehead, than I left the house. Clawbonny had no impertinent eyes to drive a mourner to his closet, and I felt as if it were impossible to breathe unless I could obtain the freedom of the open air. As I crossed the little lawn, the wails from the kitchens reached me. Now that the invalid could no longer be disturbed by their lamentations, the unsophisticated negroes gave vent to their feelings without reserve. I heard their outcries long after every other sound from the house was lost on my ear.

I held my way along the road, with no other view but to escape from the scene I had just quitted, and entered the very little wood which might be said to have been the last object of the external world that had attracted my sister's attention. Here everything reminded me of the past; of the days of childhood and youth; of the manner in which the four Clawbonny children had lived together, and roamed these very thickets, in confidence and love. I sat in that wood an hour; a strange, unearthly hour it seemed to me! I saw Grace's angel countenance imprinted on the leaves, heard her low but gay laugh, as she was wont to let it be heard in the hours of happiness, and the tones of her gentle voice sounded in my ears almost as familiarly as in life. Rupert and Lucy were there too. I saw them, heard them, and tried to enter into their innocent merriment, as I had done of old; but fearful glimpses of the sad truth would interpose, in time to break the charm.

When I left that little wood, it was to seek a larger cover, and fields farther removed from the house. It was dark before I thought of returning; all that time was passed in a species of mystical hallucination, in which the mind was lost in scenes foreign to those actually present. I saw Grace's sweet image everywhere; I heard her voice at every turn. Now she was the infant I was permitted to drag in her little wagon, the earliest of all my impressions of that beloved sister; then, she was following me as I trundled my hoop; next came her little lessons in morals, and warnings against doing wrong, or some grave but gentle reproof for errors actually committed; after which, I saw her in the pride of young womanhood, lovely and fitted to be loved, the sharer of my confidence, and one capable of entering into all my plans of life. How often that day did the murmuring of a brook or the humming of a bee become blended in my imagination with the song, the laugh, the call, or the prayers of that beloved sister whose spirit had ascended to heaven, and who was no more to mingle in my concerns or those of life!

At one time I had determined to pass the night abroad, and commune with the stars, each of which I fancied, in turn, as they began slowly to show themselves in the vault above, might be the abiding-place of the departed spirit. If I thought so much and so intensely of Grace, I thought also of Lucy. Nor was good Mr. Hardinge entirely forgotten. I felt for their uneasiness, and saw it was my duty to return. Neb, and two or three others of the blacks, had been looking for me in all directions but that in which I was; and I felt a melancholy pleasure as I occasionally saw these simple-minded creatures meet and converse. Their gestures, their earnestness, their tears, for I could see that they were often weeping, indicated alike that they were speaking of their "young mistress;" how they spoke, I wanted no other communications to understand.

Ours had ever been a family of love. My father, manly, affectionate, and strongly attached to my mother, was admirably suited to sustain that dominion of the heart which the last had established from her earliest days at Clawbonny. This power of the feelings had insensibly extended itself to the slaves, who seldom failed to manifest how keenly alive they all were to the interests and happiness of their owners. Among the negroes there was but one who was considered as fallen below his proper level, or who was regarded as an outcast. This was an old fellow who bore the name of Vulcan, and who worked as a blacksmith on the skirts of the farm, having been named by my grandfather with the express intention of placing him at the anvil. This fellow's trade caused him to pass most of his youth in an adjacent village, or hamlet, where unfortunately he had acquired habits that unsuited him to live as those around him were accustomed to live. He became in a measure alienated from us, drinking, and otherwise living a life that brought great scandal on his sable connections, who were gathered more closely around the homestead. Nevertheless, a death, or a return home, or any important event in the family, was sure to bring even Vulcan back to his allegiance; and, for a month afterwards, he would be a reformed man. On this occasion he was one of those who were out in the fields and woods in quest of me, and he happened to be the very individual by whom I was discovered.

The awe-struck, solemn manner in which the reckless Vulcan approached, were all other proofs wanting, would have proclaimed the weight of the blow that had fallen on Clawbonny. The eyes of this fellow were always red, but it was easy to see that even he had been shedding tears. He knew he was no favourite; seldom came near me, unless it were to excuse some of his neglects or faults, and lived under a sort of ban for his constantly recurring misdeeds. Nevertheless, a common cause of grief now gave him confidence, and Neb himself could hardly have approached me with a manner of more easy but respectful familiarity.

"Ah! Masser Mile! Masser Mile!" Vulcan exclaimed, certain that we felt alike on this topic, if on no other; "poor young missus! when we ebber get 'noder like she!"

"My sister is in heaven, Vulcan, where I hope all at Clawbonny, blacks as well as whites, will endeavour to meet her, by living in a manner that will improve the mercy of God."

"You t'ink dat posserbul, Masser Mile?" demanded the old man, fixing his dull eyes on me, with an earnest intentness that proved he had not entirely lost all sensibility to his moral condition.

"All things are possible with God, Vulcan. Keeping him and his commandments constantly in mind, you may still hope to see your young mistress, and to share in her happiness."

"Wonnerful!" exclaimed the old man; "dat would be a great conserlation. Ah! Masser Mile, how often she come when a little lady to my shop door, and ask to see 'e spark fly! Miss Grace hab a great taste for blacksmit'in', and a great knowledge too. I do t'ink, dat next to some oder t'ing, she lub to see iron red-hot, and 'e horse shod!"

"You have come to look for me, Vulcan, and I thank you for this care. I shall return to the house presently; you need give yourself no further trouble. Remember, old man, that the only hope that remains of either of us ever seeing Miss Grace again, is in living as Mr. Hardinge so often tells us all we ought to live."

"Wonnerful!" repeated old Vulcan, whose mind and feelings were in a happy condition to receive such a lesson. "Yes, sah, Masser Mile; she come to my shop to see 'e spark fly;--I shall miss her like a darter."

This was a specimen of the feelings that prevailed among the negroes, though the impression on most of the others was more lasting than that made on the blacksmith, whom I now dismissed, taking the path myself that led to the house. It was quite dark when I crossed the lawn. A figure was just visible in the shadows of the piazza, and I was on the point of turning in the direction of a side door, in order to avoid the meeting, when Lucy advanced eagerly to the edge of the steps to receive me.

"Oh! Miles--dear Miles, how happy I am to see you again," the precious girl said, taking my hand with the warmth and frankness of a sister. "My father and myself have been very uneasy about you; my father, indeed, has walked towards the rectory, thinking you may have gone thither."

"I have been with you, and Grace, and your father, my good Lucy, ever since we parted. I am more myself now, however, and you need feel no further concern on my account. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for that which you have already felt, and will give you no further concern."

The manner in which Lucy now burst into tears betrayed the intensity of the feelings that had been pent up in her bosom, and the relief she found in my assurances. She did not scruple, even, about leaning on my shoulder, so long as the paroxysm lasted. As soon as able to command herself, however, she wiped her eyes, again took my hand with confiding affection, looked anxiously towards me as she said, soothingly--

"We have met with a great loss, Miles; one that even time cannot repair. Neither of us can ever find another to fill the place that Grace has occupied. Our lives cannot be lived over again; we cannot return to childhood; feel as children; love as children; live as children; and grow up together, as it might be, with one heart, with the same views, the same wishes, the same opinions; I hope it is not presuming on too great a resemblance to the departed angel, if I add, the same principles."

"No, Lucy; the past, for us, is gone for ever. Clawbonny will never again be the Clawbonny it was."

There was a pause, during which I fancied Lucy was struggling to repress some fresh burst of emotion.

"Yet, Miles," she presently resumed, "we could not ask to have her recalled from that bliss which we have so much reason to believe she is even now enjoying. In a short time Grace will be to you and me a lovely and grateful image of goodness, and virtue, and affection; and we shall have a saddened, perhaps, but a deep-felt pleasure in remembering how much we enjoyed of her affection, and how closely she was united to us both in life."

"That will be indeed a link between us two, Lucy, that I trust may withstand all the changes and withering selfishness of the world!"

"I hope it may, Miles," Lucy answered, in a low voice; and, as I fancied at the moment, with an embarrassment that I did not fail to attribute to the consciousness she felt of Andrew Drewett's claims on all such intimate association of feeling. "We, who have known each other from children, can scarcely want causes for continuing to esteem and to regard each other with affection."

Lucy now appeared to think she might trust me to myself, and she led the way into the house. I did not see her again until Mr. Hardinge caused the whole household to be assembled at evening prayers. The meeting of the family that night was solemn and mournful. For myself, I fancied that the spirit of Grace was hovering around us; more than once did I fancy that I heard her sweet, voice mingling in the petitions, or leading the service, as was her practice on those occasions when our good guardian could not attend. I observed all the negroes looking at me with solicitude, like those who recognised my right to feel the blow the deepest, It was a touching evidence of respectful interest that each man bowed to me reverently, and each woman curtsied, as he or she left the room. As for Chloe, sobs nearly choked her; the poor girl having refused to quit the body of her mistress except for that short moment. I thought Lucy would have remained with her father and myself for a few minutes, but for the necessity of removing this poor heart-stricken creature, who really felt as if the death of her young mistress was a toss of part of her own existence.

I have already dwelt on the circumstances attending the death of Grace longer than I intended, and shall now cease to harass my own feelings, or to distress those of my readers by unnecessarily enlarging on more of the details. The next three or four days produced the usual calm; and though it was literally years ere Lucy or myself ceased altogether to weep for her loss, we both obtained the self-command that was necessary for the discharge of our ordinary duties. Grace, it will be remembered, died of a Sunday, about the usual hour for dinner. Agreeably to the custom of the country, in which there is usually a little too much of an indecent haste in disposing of the dead, owing in some degree to climate, however, the funeral would have taken place on Wednesday, and that would have been delaying twenty-four hours longer than might have been granted in most cases; but Mr. Hardinge, who gave all the directions, had named Thursday noon as the hour for the interment. We had few relatives to expect; most of those who would have been likely to attend, had circumstances admitted of it, living in distant places that rendered it inconvenient, and indeed scarcely possible.

I passed most of the intervening time in my study, reading and indulging in such contemplations as naturally suggest themselves to the mourner. Lucy, dear girl, had written me two or three short notes, asking my wishes on various points; among other things, when I wished to pay a last visit to the body. My answer to this question brought her to my room, with some little surprise of manner; for she had been so much with Grace, living and dead, as to think it strange one who had loved her so well while living should not desire to take a final look at the beautiful remains. I explained my feelings on this head, and Lucy seemed struck with them.

"I am not sure you will not have decided wisely, Miles," she said--"the picture being one too precious to destroy. You will be gratified in knowing, however, that Grace resembles an angel quite as much in death as she did in life; all who have seen her being struck with the air of peaceful tranquillity her features now present."

"Bless you--bless you, Lucy--this is all-sufficient. I did wish for some such assurance, and am now content."

"Several of your family are in the house, Miles, in readiness to attend the funeral; a stranger has just arrived who seems to have some such desire, too, though his face is unknown to all at the place. He has asked to see you with an earnestness that my father scarce knows how to refuse."

"Let him come here, then, Lucy. I can only suppose it to be some one of the many persons Grace has served; her short life was all activity in that particular."

Lucy's face did not corroborate that notion; but she withdrew to let my decision be known. In a few minutes a large, hard-featured, but not ill-looking man approaching fifty, entered my room, walked up to me with tears in his eyes, squeezed my hand warmly, and then seated himself without ceremony. He was attired like a thriving countryman, though his language, accent, and manner denoted one superior to the ordinary run of those with whom he was otherwise associated in externals. I had to look at him a second time ere I could recognise Jack Wallingford, my father's bachelor cousin, the western land-holder.

"I see by your look, cousin Miles, that you only half, remember me," my visitor remarked; "I deeply regret that I am obliged to renew our acquaintance on so melancholy an occasion."

"There are so few of, us left, Mr. Wallingford, that this kindness will be doubly appreciated," I answered. "If I did not give orders to have you apprised of the loss we have all sustained, it is because your residence is so far from Clawbonny as to render it improbable you could have received the intelligence in time to attend the solemn ceremony that remains to be performed. I did intend to write to you, when a little better fitted to perform such a duty."

"I thank you, cousin. The blood and name of Wallingford are very near and dear to me, and Clawbonny has always seemed a sort of home."

"The dear creature who now lies dead under its roof, cousin John, so considered you; and you may be pleased to know that she wished me to leave you this property in my will the last time I went to sea, as of the direct line, a Wallingford being the proper owner of Clawbonny. In that particular, she preferred your claims to her own."

"Ay, this agrees with all I ever heard of the angel," answered John Wallingford, dashing a tear from his eyes, a circumstance that gave one a favourable opinion of his heart. "Of course you refused, and left the property to herself, who had a better right to it."

"I did sir; though she threatened to transfer it to you, the moment it became her's."

"A threat she would have found it difficult to execute, as I certainly would have refused to receive it. We are half savages, no doubt, out west of the bridge; but our lands are beginning to tell in the markets, and we count already some rich men among us."

This was said with a self-satisfied manner, that my cousin was a little too apt to assume when property became the subject of conversation. I had occasion several times that day, even, to remark that he attached a high value to money; though, at the same time, it struck me that most of his notions were just and honourable. He quite worked his way into my favour, however, by the respect he manifested for Clawbonny, and all that belonged to it. So deep was this veneration, that I began to think of the necessity of making a new will, in order to bequeath him the place in the event of my dying without heirs, as I now imagined must sooner or later occur. As Lucy was not likely to be my wife, no one else, I fancied, ever should be. I had nearer relations than Jack Wallingford, some of whom were then in the house; cousins-german by both father and mother; but they were not of the direct line; and I knew that Miles the First would have made this disposition of the place, could he have foreseen events, and had the law allowed it. Then Grace had wished such an arrangement, and I had a sad happiness in executing all the known wishes of my sister.

The funeral did not occur until the day after the arrival of John Wallingford, who accidentally heard of the death that had occurred in the family, and came uninvited to attend the obsequies, as has been mentioned. I passed most of the evening in the company of this relative, with whom I became so much pleased as to request he would walk with me next day as second nearest of kin. This arrangement, as I had reason to know in the end, gave great offence to several who stood one degree nearer in blood to the deceased, though not of her name. Thus are we constituted!--we will quarrel over a grave even, a moment that should lay open eternity to our view, with all its immense consequences and accompaniments, in order to vindicate feelings and passions that can only interest us, as it might be, for a day. Fortunately I knew nothing of the offence that was taken at the time, nor did I see any of my kinsmen but John Wallingford that evening; his presence in my room being owing altogether to a certain self-possession and an à plomb that caused him to do very much as he pleased in such matters.

I rose on the following morning at a late hour, and with a heaviness at the heart that was natural to the occasion. It was a lovely summer's day; but all in and around Clawbonny wore the air of a Sunday. The procession was to form at ten o'clock; and, as I cast my eyes from my window, I could see the negroes moving about on the lawns, and in the lanes, attired in their best, but wearing no holiday faces. It seemed to me to be a species of unnatural Sabbath, possessing all its solemnity, its holy stillness, its breathing calm, but wanting in that solacing spirit of peace which is so apt to be imparted to the day of rest in the country, most particularly at that season of the year. Several of the neighbours, who did not belong to Clawbonny, were beginning to appear; and I felt the necessity of dressing in order to be in readiness for what was to follow.

I had eaten alone in my little study or library from the time my sister died, and had seen no one since my return to the house, the servants excepted, besides my guardian, Lucy, and John Wallingford. The last had taken a light supper with me the previous night; but he was then breakfasting with the rest of the guests in the family eating-room, Mr. Hardinge doing the honours of the house.

As for myself, I found my own little table prepared with its coffee and light meal, as I had ordered before retiring. It had two cups, however, and a second plate had been laid in addition to my own. I pointed to this arrangement, and demanded of the old white-headed house-servant, who was in-waiting, what it meant.

"Miss Lucy, sah--she say she mean to breakfast wid Masser Mile, dis mornin', sah."

Even the accents of this negro were solemn and sad as he made this familiar explanation, like those of a man who was conscious of having reached an hour and an occasion that called for peculiar awe. I bade him let Miss Lucy know that I was in the study.

"Ah, Masser Mile," added the old man, with tears in his eyes as he left the room, "Miss Lucy 'e only young missus now, sah!"

In a few minutes Lucy joined me. She was in deep black of course, and that may have added to the appearance of paleness; but no one could be deceived in the manner in which the dear girl had mourned and wept since we parted. The subdued expression of her face gave it a peculiar sweetness; and, in spite of the absence of colour, I thought, as Lucy advanced towards me, both hands extended, and a smile of anxious inquiry on her lips, that she had never appeared more lovely. I did not hesitate about pressing those hands with fervour, and of kissing the warm though colourless cheek. All this passed as it might have done between an affectionate brother and sister, neither of us thinking, I am persuaded, of aught but the confidence and friendship of childhood.

"This is kind of you, dear Lucy," I said, as we took our seats at the little table; "my cousin John Wallingford, though a good man in the main, is scarcely near enough, or dear enough, to be admitted at a time like this."

"I have seen him," Lucy replied--the tremour in her voice showing how hard she found it to avoid melting in tears, "and rather like him. I believe he was a favourite with mamma Wallingford," so Lucy was accustomed to call my mother, "and that ought to be a high recommendation with us, Miles."

"I am disposed to like him, and shall endeavour to keep up more intercourse with him than I have hitherto done. It is as we begin to find ourselves alone in the world, Lucy, that we first feel the necessity of counting blood and kin, and of looking around us for support."

"Alone you are not, Miles, and never can be while I and my dear father live. We are certainly nearer to you than any that now remain among your blood relatives! You can neither suffer nor be happy without our partaking in the feelings."

This was not said without an effort; that much I could detect; yet it was said firmly, and in a way that left no doubt of its entire sincerity. I even wished there had been less of nature and more of hesitation in the dear girl's manner while she was endeavouring to assure me of the sympathy she felt in my happiness or unhappiness. But the waywardness of a passion as tormenting, and yet as delightful as love, seldom leaves us just or reasonable.

Lucy and I then talked of the approaching ceremony. Each of us was grave and sorrowful, but neither indulged in any outward signs of grief. We knew the last sad offices were to be performed, and had braced ourselves to the discharge of this melancholy duty. It was not customary with the females of purely New York families of the class of the Hardinges, to be present at the performance of the funeral rites; but Lucy told me she intended to be in the little church, and to share in as much of the religious offices as were performed within the building. In a population as mixed as ours has become, it is not easy to say what is and what is not now a national or state usage, on such an occasion; but I knew this was going farther than was usual for one of Lucy's habits and opinions, and I expressed a little surprise at her determination.

"Were it at any other funeral, I would not be present, Miles," she said, the tremour of her voice sensibly increasing; "but I cannot divest myself of the idea that the spirit of Grace will be hovering near; that the presence of her more than sister will be acceptable. Whatever the Providence of God may have ordered for the dear departed, I know it will be grateful to myself to join in the prayers of the church--besides, I am not altogether without the womanly feeling of wishing to watch over the form of Grace while it remains above ground. And now, Miles, brother, friend, Grace's brother, or by whatever endearing term I may address you," added Lucy, rising, coming to my side of the table, and taking my hand. "I have one thing to say that I alone can say, for it would never suggest itself as necessary to my dear father."

I looked earnestly at Lucy's sweet countenance, and saw it was full of concern--I had almost said of alarm.

"I believe I understand you, Lucy," I answered, though a sensation at the throat nearly choked me--"Rupert is here?"

"He is, Miles; I implore you to remember what would be the wishes of her who is now a saint in heaven--what her entreaties, her tears would implore of you, had not God placed a barrier between us."

"I understand you, Lucy"--was the husky reply--"I do remember all you wish, though that recollection is unnecessary. I would rather not see him; but never can! forget that he is your brother!"

"You will see as little of him as possible, Miles--bless you, bless you, for this forbearance!"

I felt Lucy's hasty but warm kiss on my forehead as she quitted the room. It seemed to me a seal of a compact between us that was far too sacred ever to allow me to dream of violating it.

I pass over the details of the funeral procession. This last was ordered as is usual in the country, the friends following the body in vehicles or on horseback, according to circumstances. John Wallingford went with me agreeably to my own arrangement, and the rest took their places in the order of consanguinity and age. I did not see Rupert in the procession at all, though I saw little beside the hearse that bore the body of my only sister. When we reached the church-yard, the blacks of the family pressed forward to bear the coffin into the building. Mr. Hardinge met us there, and then commenced those beautiful and solemn rites which seldom fail to touch the hardest heart. The rector of St. Michael's had the great excellence of reading all the offices of the church as if he felt them; and, on this occasion, the deepest feelings of the heart seemed to be thrown into his accents. I wondered how he could get on; but Mr. Hardinge felt himself a servant of the altar, standing in his master's house, and ready to submit to his will. Under such circumstances it was not a trifle that could unman him. The spirit of the divine communicated itself to me. I did not shed a tear during the whole of the ceremony, but felt myself sustained by the thoughts and holy hopes that ceremony was adapted to inspire. I believe Lucy, who sat in a far corner of the church, was sustained in a similar manner; for I heard her low sweet voice mingling in the responses. Lip service! Let those who would substitute their own crude impulses for the sublime rites of our liturgy, making ill digested forms the supplanter of a ritual carefully and devoutly prepared, listen to one of their own semi-conversational addresses to the Almighty over a grave, and then hearken to these venerable rites, and learn humility. Such men never approach sublimity, or the sacred character that should be impressed on a funeral ceremony, except when they borrow a fragment here and there from the very ritual they affect to condemn. In their eagerness to dissent, they have been guilty of the weakness of dissenting, so far as forms are concerned, from some of the loftiest, most comprehensive, most consolatory and most instructive passages of the inspired book!

It was a terrible moment when the first clod of the valley fell on my sister's coffin. God sustained me under the shock! I neither groaned nor wept. When Mr. Hardinge returned the customary thanks to those who had assembled to assist me "in burying my dead out of my sight," I had even sufficient fortitude to bow to the little crowd, and to walk steadily away. It is true, that John Wallingford very kindly took my arm to sustain me, but I was not conscious of wanting any support. I heard the sobs of the blacks as they crowded around the grave, which the men among them insisted on filling with their own hands, as if "Miss Grace" could only rest with their administration to her wants; and I was told not one of them left the spot until the place had resumed all the appearance of freshness and verdure which it possessed before the spade had been applied. The same roses, removed with care, were restored to their former beds; and it would not have been easy for a stranger to discover that a new-made grave lay by the side of those of the late Captain Miles Wallingford and his much-respected widow. Still it was known to all in that vicinity, and many a pilgrimage was made to the spot within the next fortnight, the young maidens of the adjoining farms in particular coming to visit the grave of Grace Wallingford, the "Lily of Clawbonny," as she had once been styled.

Chapter IX.

"I knew that we must part--no power could save
Thy quiet goodness from an early grave:
Those eyes so dull, though kind each glance they cast,
Looking a sister's fondness to the last;
Thy lips so pale, that gently press'd my cheek;
Thy voice--alas! Thou could'st but try to speak;--
All told thy doom; I felt it at my heart;
The shaft had struck--I knew that we must part."

Sprague.

It is not easy to describe the sensation of loss that came over me after the interment of my sister. It is then we completely feel the privation with which we have met. The body is removed from out of our sight; the places that knew them shall know them no more; there is an end to all communion, even by the agency of sight, the last of the senses to lose its hold on the departed, and a void exists in the place once occupied. I felt all this very keenly, for more than a month, but most keenly during the short time I remained at Clawbonny. The task before me, however, will not allow me to dwell on these proofs of sorrow, nor do I know that the reader could derive much advantage from their exhibition.

I did not see Rupert at the funeral. That he was there I knew, but either he, himself, or Lucy for him, had managed so well, as not to obtrude his person on my sight. John Wallingford, who well knew my external or visible relation to all the Hardinges, thinking to do me a pleasure, mentioned, as the little procession returned to the house, that young Mr. Hardinge had, by dint of great activity, succeeded in reaching Clawbonny in time for the funeral. I fancy that Lucy, under the pretence of wishing his escort, contrived to keep her brother at the rectory during the time I was abroad.

On reaching the house, I saw all my connexions, and thanked them in person for this proof of their respect for the deceased. This little duty performed, all but John Wallingford took their leave, and I was soon left in the place alone with my bachelor cousin. What a house it was! and what a house it continued to be as long as I remained at Clawbonny! The servants moved about it stealthily; the merry laugh was no longer heard in the kitchen; even the heavy-footed seemed to tread on air, and all around me appeared to be afraid of disturbing the slumbers of the dead. Never before, nor since, have I had occasion to feel how completely a negative may assume an affirmative character, and become as positive as if it had a real existence. I thought I could see as well as feel my sister's absence from the scene in which she had once been so conspicuous an actor.

As none of the Hardinges returned to dinner, the good divine writing a note to say he would see me in the evening after my connexions had withdrawn, John Wallingford and myself took that meal tête à tête. My cousin, with the apparent motive of diverting my thoughts from dwelling on the recent scene, began to converse on subjects that he was right in supposing might interest me. Instead of flying off to some topic so foreign to my feelings as constantly to recall the reason, he judiciously connected the theme with my loss.

"I suppose you will go to sea again, as soon as your ship can be got ready, cousin Miles," he commenced, after we were left with the fruit and wine. "These are stirring times in commerce, and the idle man misses golden opportunities."

"Gold has no longer any charm for me, cousin John," I answered gloomily. "I am richer now than is necessary for my wants, and, as I shall probably never marry, I see no great use in toiling for more. Still, I shall go out in my own ship, and that as soon as possible. Here I would not pass the summer for the place, and I love the sea. Yes, yes; I must make a voyage to some part of Europe without delay. It is the wisest thing I can do."

"That is hearty, and like a man! There is none of your mopes about the Wallingfords, and I believe you to be of the true stock. But why never marry, Miles? Your father was a sailor, and he married, and a very good time I've always understood he had of it."

"My father was happy as a husband, and, did I imitate his example, I should certainly marry, too. Nevertheless, I feel I am to be a bachelor."

"In that case, what will become of Clawbonny?" demanded Jack Wallingford, bluntly.

I could not avoid smiling at the question, as I deemed him my heir, though the law would give it to nearer relatives, who were not of the name; but it is probable that John, knowing himself to be so much my senior, had never thought of himself as one likely to outlive me.

"I shall make a new will, the instant I get to town, and leave Clawbonny to you," I answered steadily, and truly, for such a thought had come into my mind the instant I saw him. "You are the person best entitled to inherit it, and should you survive me, yours it shall be."

"Miles, I like that," exclaimed my cousin, with a strange sincerity, stretching out a hand to receive mine, which he pressed most warmly. "You are very right; I ought to be the heir of this place, should you die without children, even though you left a widow,"

This was said so naturally, and was so much in conformity with my own notions on the subject, that it did not so much offend, as surprise me. I knew John Wallingford loved money, and, all men having a very respectful attachment to the representative of value, such a character invariably means, that the party named suffers that attachment to carry him too far. I wished, therefore, my kinsman had not made just such a speech; though it in no manner shook my intentions in his favour.

"You are more ready to advise your friends to get married, than to set the example," I answered, willing to divert the discourse a little. "You, who must be turned of fifty, are still a bachelor."

"And so shall I remain through life. There was a time I might have married, had I been rich; and now I am reasonably rich, I find other things to employ my affections. Still, that is no reason you should not leave me Clawbonny, though it is not probable I shall ever live to inherit it. Notwithstanding, it is family property, and ought not to go out of the name. I was afraid, if you were, lost at sea, or should die of any of those outlandish fevers that sailors sometimes take, the place would get into females, and there would no longer be a Wallingford at Clawbonny. Miles, I do not grudge you the possession of the property the least in the world; but it would make me very unhappy to know one of those Hazens, or Morgans, or Van-der-Schamps had it." Jack had mentioned the names of the children of so many Miss Wallingfords, aunts or great-aunts, of mine, and cousins of his own.--"Some of them may be nearer to you, by a half-degree, or so, but none of them are as near to Clawbonny. It is Wallingford land, and Wallingford land it ought to remain."

I was amused in spite of myself, and felt a disposition now, to push the discourse further, in order better to understand my kinsman's character.

"Should neither of us two marry," I said, "and both die bachelors, what would then be the fate of Clawbonny?"

"I have thought of all that, Miles, and here is my answer: Should such a thing happen, and there be no other Wallingford left, then no Wallingford would live to have his feelings hurt by knowing that a Vander-dunder-Schamp, or whatever these Dutchmen ought to be called, is living in his father's house; and no harm would be done. But, there are Wallingfords besides you and me."

"This is quite new; for I had supposed we two were the last."

"Not so: Miles the first left two sons; our ancestor, the eldest, and one younger, who removed into the colony of New Jersey, and whose descendants still exist. The survivors of us two might go there in quest of our heir, in the long run. But do not forget I come before these Jersey Blues, let them be who, or what they may."

I assured my kinsman he should come before them, and changed the discourse; for, to own the truth, the manner in which he spoke began to displease me. Making my apologies, I retired to my own room, while John Wallingford went out, professedly with the intention of riding over the place of his ancestors, with a view to give it a more critical exanimation than it had hitherto been in his power to do.

It was quite dark, when I heard the arrival of the Hardinges, as the carriage of Lucy drove up to the door. In a few minutes Mr. Hardinge entered the study. He first inquired after my health, and manifested the kind interest he had ever taken in my feelings; after which, he proceeded:

"Rupert is here," he said, "and I have brought him over to see you. Both he and Lucy appeared to think it might be well not to disturb you to-night; but I knew you better. Who should be at your side at this bitter moment, my dear Miles, if it be not Rupert, your old friend and play-mate; your fellow truant, as one might say, and almost your brother?"

Almost my brother! Still I commanded myself. Grace had received my solemn assurances, and so had Lucy, and Rupert had nothing to apprehend. I even asked to see him, desiring, at the same time, that it might be alone. I waited several minutes for Rupert's appearance, in vain. At length the door of my room opened, and Chloe brought me a note. It was from Lucy, and contained only these words--"Miles, for her sake, for mine, command yourself." Dear creature! She had no reason to be alarmed. The spirit of my sister seemed to me to be present; and I could recall every expression of her angel-countenance as it had passed before my eyes in the different interviews that preceded her death.

At length Rupert appeared. He had been detained by Lucy until certain her note was received, when she permitted him to quit her side. His manner was full of the consciousness of undeserving, and its humility aided my good resolutions. Had he advanced to take my hand; had he attempted consolation; had he, in short, behaved differently in the main from what he actually did, I cannot say what might have been the consequences. But his deportment, at first, was quiet, respectful, distant rather than familiar, and he had the tact, or grace, or caution, not to make the smallest allusion to the sad occasion which had brought him to Clawbonny. When I asked him to be seated, he declined the chair I offered, a sign he intended the visit to be short. I was not sorry, and determined, at once, to make the interview as much one of business as possible. I had a sacred duty confided to me, and this might be as fit an occasion as could offer in which to acquit myself of the trust.

"I am glad so early an opportunity has offered, Mr. Hardinge," I said, as soon as the opening civilities were over, "to acquaint you with an affair that has been entrusted to me by Grace, and which I am anxious to dispose of as soon as possible."

"By Grace--by Miss Wallingford!" exclaimed Rupert, actually recoiling a step in surprise, if not absolutely in alarm--"I shall feel honoured--that is, shall have a melancholy gratification in endeavouring to execute any of her wishes. No person commanded more of my respect, Mr. Wallingford, and I shall always consider her one of the most amiable and admirable women with whom it was ever my happy fortune to be acquainted."

I had no difficulty now in commanding myself, for it was easy to see Rupert scarce knew what he said. With such a man I saw no great necessity for using extraordinary delicacy or much reserve.

"You are doubtless aware of two things in our family history," I continued, therefore, without circumlocution: "one that my sister would have been mistress of a small fortune, had she reached the term of twenty-one years, and the other that she died at twenty."

Rupert's surprise was now more natural, and I could see that his interest--shame on our propensities for it!--was very natural, too.

"I am aware of both, and deeply deplore the last," he answered.

"Being a minor, she had it not in her power to make a will, but her requests are legal legacies in my eyes, and I stand pledged to her to see them executed. She has left rather less than $22,000 in all; with $500 of this money I am to present Lucy with some suitable memorial of her departed friend; some small charitable dispositions are also to be made, and the balance, or the round sum of $20,000, is to be given to you."

"To me, Mr. Wallingford!--Miles!--Did you really say to me?"

"To you, Mr. Hardinge,--such is my sister's earnest request--and this letter will declare it, as from herself. I was to hand you this letter, when acquainting you with the bequest." I put Grace's letter into Rupert's hand, as I concluded, and I sat down to write, while he was reading it. Though employed at a desk for a minute or two, I could not avoid glancing at Rupert, in order to ascertain the effect of the last words of her he had once professed to love. I would wish not to be unjust even to Rupert Hardinge. He was dreadfully agitated, and he walked the room, for some little time, without speaking. I even fancied I overheard a half-suppressed groan. I had the compassion to affect to be engaged, in order to allow him to recover his self-possession. This was soon done, as good impressions were not lasting in Rupert; and I knew him so well, as soon to read in his countenance, gleanings of satisfaction at the prospect of being master of so large a sum. At the proper moment, I arose and resumed the subject.

"My sister's wishes would be sacred with me," I said, even had she not received my promise to see them executed. "When a thing of this character is to be done the sooner it is done the better. I have drawn a note at ten days, payable at the Bank of New York, and in your favour, for $20,000: it will not inconvenience me to pay it when due, and that will close the transaction."

"I am not certain, Wallingford, that I ought to receive so large a sum--I do not know that my father, or Lucy or indeed the world, would altogether approve of it."

"Neither your father, nor Lucy, nor the world will know anything about it, sir, unless you see fit to acquaint them I shall not speak of the bequest; and I confess that, on my sister's account, I should prefer that you would not."

"Well, Mr. Hardinge," answered Rupert, coolly putting the note into his wallet, "I will think of this request of poor Grace's, and if I can possibly comply with her wishes, I will certainly do so. There is little that she could ask that I would deny, and my effort will be to honour her memory. As I see you are distressed, I will now retire; you shall know my determination in a few days."

Rupert did retire, taking my note for $20,000 with him. I made no effort to detain him, nor was I sorry to hear he had returned to the rectory to pass the night, whither his sister went with him. The next day he proceeded to New York, without sending me any message, retaining the note however; and, a day or two later, I heard of him on his way to the springs to rejoin the party of the Mertons.

John Wallingford left me the morning of the day after the funeral, promising to see me again in town. "Do no forget the will, Miles," said that singular man, as he shook my hand, "and be certain to let me see that provision in it about Clawbonny, before I go west of the bridge, again. Between relations of the same name, there should be no reserves in such matters."

I scarce knew whether to smile or to look grave, at so strange a request; but I did not change my determination on the subject of the will, itself: feeling that justice required of me such a disposition of the property. I confess there were moments when I distrusted the character of one who could urge a claim of this nature in so plain a manner; and that, too, at an instant when the contemplated contingency seemed the more probable from the circumstance that death had so recently been among us. Notwithstanding, there was so much frankness in my kinsman's manner, he appeared to sympathize so sincerely in my loss, and his opinions were so similar to my own, that these unpleasant twinges lasted but for brief intervals. On the whole, my opinion was very favourable to John Wallingford, and, as will be seen in the sequel, he soon obtained my entire confidence.

After the departure of all my kindred, I felt, indeed, how completely I was left alone in the world. Lucy passed the night at the rectory, to keep her brother company, and good Mr. Hardinge, though thinking he remained with me to offer sympathy and consolation, found so many demands on his time, that I saw but little of him. It is possible he understood me sufficiently well to know that solitude and reflection, while the appearance of the first was avoided, were better for one of my temperament than any set forms of condolence. At any rate, he was at hand, while he said but little to me on the subject of my loss.

At last I got through the day; and a long and dreary day it was to me. The evening came, bland, refreshing, bringing with it the softer light of a young moon. I was walking on the lawn, when the beauty of the night brought Grace and her tastes vividly to my mind, and, by a sudden impulse, I was soon swiftly walking towards her now silent grave. The highways around Clawbonny were never much frequented; but at this hour, and so soon after the solemn procession it had so lately seen, no one was met on the road towards the church-yard. It was months, indeed, after the funeral, that any of the slaves ventured into the latter by night; and, even during the day, they approached it with an awe that nothing could have inspired but the death of a Wallingford. Perhaps it was owing to my increased age and greater observation, but I fancied that these simple beings felt the death of their young mistress more than they had felt that of my mother.

St. Michael's church-yard is beautifully ornamented with flourishing cedars. These trees had been cultivated with care, and formed an appropriate ornament for the place. A fine cluster of them shaded the graves of my family, and a rustic seat had been placed beneath their branches, by order of my mother, who had been in the habit of passing hours in meditation at the grave of her husband. Grace and I, and Lucy, had often repaired to the same place at night, after my mother's death, and there we used to sit many an hour, in deep silence; or, if utterance were given to a thought, it was in a respectful whisper. As I now approached this seat, I had a bitter satisfaction in remembering that Rupert had never accompanied us in these pious little pilgrimages. Even in the day of her greatest ascendancy, Grace had been unable to enlist her admirer in an act so repugnant to his innate character. As for Lucy, her own family lay on one side of that cluster of cedars, as mine lay on the other; and often had I seen the dear young creature weeping, as her eyes were riveted on the graves of relatives she had never known. But my mother had been her mother, and for this friend she felt an attachment almost as strong as that which was entertained by ourselves. I am not certain I ought not to say, an attachment quite as strong as our own.

I was apprehensive some visitors might be hovering near the grave of my sister at that witching hour, and I approached the cedars cautiously, intending to retire unseen should such prove to be the case. I saw no one, however, and proceeded directly to the line of graves, placing myself at the foot of the freshest and most newly made. Hardly was this done, when I heard the word "Miles!" uttered in a low, half-stifled exclamation. It was not easy for me to mistake the voice of Lucy; she was seated so near the trunk of a cedar that her dark dress had been confounded with the shadows of the tree. I went to the spot, and took a seat at her side.

"I am not surprised to find you here," I said, taking the dear girl's hand, by a sort of mechanical mode of manifesting affection which had grown up between us from childhood, rather than from, any sudden impulse--"you that watched over her so faithfully during the last hours of her existence."

"Ah! Miles," returned a voice that was filled with sadness, "how little did I anticipate this when you spoke of Grace in the brief interview we had at the theatre!"

I understood my companion fully. Lucy had been educated superior to cant and false morals. Her father drew accurate and manly distinctions between sin and the exactions of a puritanical presumption that would set up its own narrow notions as the law of God; and, innocent as she was, no thought of error was associated with the indulgence of her innocent pleasures. But Grace, suffering and in sorrow, while she herself had been listening to the wonderful poems of Shakspeare, did present a painful picture to her mind, which, so far from being satisfied with what she had done in my sister's behalf, was tenderly reproachful on account of fancied omissions.

"It is the will of God, Lucy," I answered. "It must be our effort to be resigned."

"If you can think thus, Miles, how much easier ought it to be for me! and, yet--"

"Yet, what, Lucy? I believe you loved my sister as affectionately as I did myself, but I am sensitive on this point; and, tender, true, warm as I know your heart to be, I cannot allow that even you loved her more."

"It is not that, Miles--it is not that. Have I no cause of particular regret--no sense of shame--no feeling of deep humility to add to my grief for her loss?"

"I understand you, Lucy, and at once answer, no. You are not Rupert any more than Rupert is you. Let all others become what they may, you will ever remain Lucy Hardinge."

"I thank you, Miles," answered my companion, gently pressing the hand that still retained hers, "and thank you from my heart. But your generous nature will not sae this matter as others might. We were aliens to your blood, dwellers under your own roof, received into the bosom of your own family, and were bound by every sacred obligation to do you no wrong. I would not have my dear, upright father know the truth for worlds."

"He never will know it, Lucy, and it is my earnest desire that we all forget it. Henceforth Rupert and I must be strangers, though the tie that exists between me and the rest of your family will only be drawn the closer for this sad event."

"Rupert is my brother--" Lucy answered, though it was in a voice so low that her words were barely audible.

"You would not leave me quite alone in the world!" I said, with something like reproachful energy.

"No, Miles, no--that tie, as you have said, must and should last for life. Nor do I wish you to regard Rupert as of old. It is impossible--improper even--but you can concede to us some of that same indulgence which I am so willing to concede to you."

"Certainly--Rupert is your brother, as you say, and I do not wish you ever to regard him, otherwise. He will marry Emily Merton, and I trust he may be happy. Here, over my sister's grave, Lucy, I renew the pledge already made to you, never to act on what has occurred."

I got no answer to this declaration in words, but Lucy would actually have kissed my hand in gratitude had I permitted it. This I could not suffer, however, but raised her own hand to my lips, where it was held until the dear girl gently withdrew it herself.

"Miles," Lucy said, after a long and thoughtful pause, "it is not good for you to remain at Clawbonny, just at this time. Your kinsman, John Wallingford, has been here, and I think you like him. Why not pay him a visit? He resides near Niagara, 'West of the Bridge,'[3] as he calls it, and you might take the opportunity of seeing the 'Falls.'"

[Footnote 3: In the western part of the State of New York, there are several small lakes that lie nearly parallel to each other, and not far asunder, with lengths that vary from fifteen to forty miles. The outlet of one of these lakes--the Cayuga--lies in the route of the great thorough-fare to Buffalo, and a bridge of a mile in length was early thrown across it. From this circumstance has arisen the expression of saying, "West of the Bridge;" meaning the frontier counties, which include, among-other districts, that which is also known as the "Genessee Country."]

"I understand you, Lucy, and am truly grateful for the interest you feel in my happiness. I do not intend to remain long at Clawbonny, which I shall leave to-morrow--"

"To-morrow!" interrupted Lucy, and I thought like one who was alarmed.

"Does that appear too early? I feel the necessity of occupation, as well as of a change of scene. You will remember I have a ship and interests, of moment to myself, to care for: I must turn my face, and move towards the east, instead of towards the west."

"You intend then, Miles, to pursue this profession of yours!" Lucy said, as I thought, with a little like gentle regret in her manner and tones.

"Certainly--what better can I do? I want not wealth, I allow; am rich enough already for all my wants, but I have need of occupation. The sea is to my liking, I am still young, and can afford a few more years on the water. I shall never marry--" Lucy started--"and having now no heir nearer than John Wallingford"--

"John Wallingford!--you have cousins much nearer than he!"

"That is true; but not of the old line. It was Grace's wish that I should leave our cousin John the Clawbonny property at least, whatever I do with the rest. You are so rich now as not to need it, Lucy; else would I leave every shilling to you."

"I believe you would, dear Miles," answered Lucy, with fervent warmth of manner. "You have ever been all that is good and kind to me, and I shall never forget it."

"Talk of my kindness to you, Lucy, when you parted with every cent you had on earth to give me the gold you possessed, on my going to sea. I am almost sorry you are now so much richer than myself, else would I certainly make you my heir."

"We will not talk of money any longer in this sacred place," Lucy answered tremulously. "What I did as a foolish girl you will forget; we were but children then, Miles."

So Lucy did not wish me to remember certain passages in our earlier youth! Doubtless her present relations to Andrew Drewett rendered the recollection delicate, if not unpleasant. I thought this less like herself than was her wont--Lucy, who was usually so simple-minded, so affectionate, so frank and so true. Nevertheless, love is an engrossing sentiment, as I could feel in my own case, and it might be that its jealous sensitiveness took the alarm at even that which was so innocent and sincere. The effect of these considerations, added to that of Lucy's remark, was to change the discourse, and we conversed long, in melancholy sadness, of her we had lost, for this life, altogether.

"We may live, ourselves, to grow old, Miles," Lucy observed, "but never shall we cease to remember Grace as she was, and to love her memory, as we loved her dear self in life. There has not been an hour since her death, that I have not seen her sitting at my side, and conversing in sisterly confidence, as we did from infancy to the day she ceased to live!"

As Lucy said this, she rose, drew her shawl around her, and held out her hand to take leave, for I had spoken of an intention to quit Clawbonny early in the morning. The tears the dear girl shed might have been altogether owing to our previous conversation, or I might have had a share in producing them. Lucy used to weep at parting from me, as well as Grace, and she was not a girl to change with the winds. But I could not part thus: I had a sort of feeling that when we parted this time, it would virtually be a final separation, as the wife of Andrew Drewett never could be exactly that which Lucy Hardinge had now been to me for near twenty years.

"I will not say farewell now, Lucy," I observed. "Should you not come to town before I sail, I will return to Clawbonny to take leave of you. God only knows what will become of me, or whither I shall be led, and I could wish to defer the leave-takings to the last moment. You and your excellent father must have my final adieus."

Lucy returned the pressure of my hand, uttered a hasty good-night, and glided through the little gate of the rectory which by this time we had reached. No doubt she fancied I returned immediately to my own house. So far from this, however, I passed hours alone, in the church-yard, sometimes musing on the dead, and then with all my thoughts bent on the living. I could see the light in Lucy's window, and not till that was extinguished did I retire. It was long past midnight.

I passed hours teeming with strange emotions among hose cedars. Twice I knelt by Grace's grave, and prayed devoutly to God. It seemed to me that petitions offered in such a place must be blessed. I thought of my mother, of my manly, spirited father, of Grace, and of all the past. Then I lingered long beneath Lucy's window, and, in spite of this solemn visit to the graves of the dead, the brightest and most vivid image that I carried away with me was of the living.

Chapter X.

Shy. Three thousand ducats--well.
Bass. Ay, sir, for three months.
Shy. For three months--well.
Bass. For the which, as I told you, Antonio shall become bound.
Shy. Antonio shall become bound--well.

Merchant of Venice.

I found John Wallingford in town, awaiting my appearance. He had taken lodgings at the City Hotel, on purpose to be under the same roof with me, and we occupied adjoining rooms. I dined with him; and after dinner he went with me to take a look at the Dawn. The second-mate told me that Marble had made a flying visit to the ship, promised to be back again in a few days, and disappeared. By comparing dates, I ascertained that he would be in time to meet the mortgage sale, and felt no further concern in that behalf.

"Miles," said John Wallingford, coolly, as we were walking up Pine street, on our way back towards the tavern, "did you not tell me you employed Richard Harrison as a legal adviser?"

"I did. Mr. Hardinge made me acquainted with him, and I understand he is one of the oldest lawyers in the country. That is his office, on the other side of the street--here, directly opposite."

"I saw it, and that was the reason I spoke. It might be well just to step in and give some directions about your will. I wish to see Clawbonny put in the right line. If you would give me a deed of it for one dollar, I would not take it from you, the only son of an eldest son; but it would break my heart to hear of its going out of the name. Mr. Harrison is also an old adviser and-friend of mine."

I was startled with this plain-dealing; yet, there was something about the manner of the man that prevented my being displeased.

"Mr. Harrison would not be visible at this hour, but I will cross to the office, and write him a letter on the subject," I answered, doing as I said on the instant, and leaving John Wallingford to pursue his way to the house alone. The next day, however, the will was actually drawn up, executed, and placed in my cousin's hands, he being the sole executor. If the reader should ask me why I did this, especially the last, I might be at a loss to answer. A strange confidence had come over me, as respects this relative, whose extraordinary frankness even a more experienced man might have believed to be either the height of honesty, or the perfection of art. Whichever was the case, I not only left my will with him, but, in the course of the next week, I let him into the secret of all my pecuniary affairs; Grace's bequest to Rupert, alone, excepted. John Wallingford encouraged this confidence, telling me that plunging at once, heart and hand, into the midst of business, was the most certain mode of forgetting my causes of sorrow. Plunge into anything with my whole heart, I could not, then, though I endeavoured to lose my cares in business.

One of my first acts, in the way of affairs, was to look after the note I had given to Rupert. It had been made payable at the bank where I kept my deposits, and I went thither to inquire if it had been left for collection. The following conversation passed between myself and the cashier on this occasion:

"Good morning, Mr.----," I said, saluting the gentleman; "I have come to inquire if a note for $20,000, made by me in favour of Rupert Hardinge, Esquire, at ten days, has been left for collection. If so, I am ready to pay it now."

The cashier gave me a business smile,--one that spoke favourably of my standing as a moneyed man,--before he answered the question. This smile was, also, a sign that money was plenty.

"Not absolutely for collection, Captain Wallingford, as nothing would give us more pleasure than to renew it, if you would just go through the form of obtaining a city endorser."

"Mr. Hardinge has then left it for collection," I observed, pained, in spite of all that had passed, at Rupert's giving this conclusive evidence of the inherent meanness of his character.

"Not exactly for collection, sir," was the cashier's answer, "for, wishing to anticipate the money, by a few days, and being under the necessity of leaving town, we discounted it for him."

"Anticipate!--you have discounted the note, sir!"

"With the greatest pleasure, knowing it to be good. Mr. Hardinge remarked that you had not found it convenient to draw for so large a sum on the spot, and had given this note at short date; and the consideration having been received in full, he was desirous of being put in cash, at once. We did not hesitate, of course."

"Consideration received in full!" escaped me, spite of a determination to be cool; but, luckily, the appearance of another person on business prevented the words, or the manner, from being noted. "Well, Mr. Cashier, I will draw a check, and take up the note, now."

More smiles followed. The check was given; the note was cancelled and handed to me, and I left the bank with a balance in my favour of rather more than $10,000, instead of the $30,000 odd, which I had held previously to entering it. It is true, I was heir at law to all Grace's assets, which Mr. Hardinge had handed over to me, the morning I left Clawbonny, duly assigned and transferred. These last consisted of stocks, and of bonds and mortgages, drawing interest, being on good farms in our own county.

"Well. Miles, what do you mean to do with your ship," demanded Jack Wallingford, that evening. "I understand the freight for which you bargained has been transferred to another owner, on account of your late troubles; and they tell me freights, just now, are not very high."

"Really, cousin Jack, I am hardly prepared to answer the question. Colonial produce commands high prices in the north of Germany, they tell me; and, were I in cash, I would buy a cargo on my own account. Some excellent sugars and coffees, &c., were offered me to-day, quite reasonably, for ready money."

"And how much cash would be necessary to carry out that scheme, my man?"

"Some $50,000, more or less, while I have but about $10,000 on hand; though I can command $20,000 additional, by selling certain securities; so I must abandon the notion."

"That does not follow necessarily. Let me think a night on it, and we will talk further in the morning. I like quick bargains, but I like a cool head. This hot town and old Madeira keep me in a fever, and I wish a night's rest before I make a bargain."

The next morning, John Wallingford returned to the subject, at breakfast, which meal we took by ourselves, in order to be at liberty to converse without any auditors.

"I have thought over that sweet subject, the sugars, Miles," commenced my cousin, "and approve of the plan. Can you give me any further security if I will lend you the money?"

"I have some bonds and mortgages, to the amount of twenty-two thousand dollars, with me, which might be assigned for such a purpose."

"But $22,000 are an insufficient security for the $30,000, or $35,000, which you may need to carry out your adventure."

"That is quite true, but I have nothing else worth mentioning--unless it be the ship, or Clawbonny."

"Tut for the ship!--she is gone, if you and your cargo go; and as for insurances, I want none of them--I am a landed man, and like landed securities. Give me your note at three months, or six months if you will, with the bonds and mortgages you mention, and a mortgage on Clawbonny, and you can have $40,000, this very day, should you need them."

I was surprised at this offer, having no notion my kinsman was rich enough to lend so large a sum. On a further conversation, however, I learned he had near double the sum he had mentioned, in ready money, and that his principal business in town was to invest in good city securities. He professed himself willing, however, to lend me half, in order to help along a kinsman he liked. I did not at all relish the notion of mortgaging Clawbonny, but John soon laughed and reasoned me out of that. As for Grace's securities, I parted with them with a sort of satisfaction; the idea of holding her effects being painful to me.

"Were it out of the family, or even out of the name, I should think something of it myself. Miles," he said, "but a mortgage from you to me is like one from me to you. You have made me your heir, and to be honest with you, boy, I have made you mine. If you lose my money, you lose your own."

There was no resisting this. My kinsman's apparent frankness and warmth of disposition overcame all my scruples, and I consented to borrow the money on his own terms. John Wallingford was familiar with the conveyancing of real estate, and, with his own hand, he filled up the necessary papers, which I signed. The money was borrowed at 5 per cent.; my cousin positively refusing to receive the legal rate of interest from a Wallingford. Pay-day was put at six months' distance, and all was done in due form.

"I shall not put this mortgage on record, Miles," Jack Wallingford remarked, as he folded and endorsed the paper. "I have too much confidence in your honesty to believe it necessary. You have given one mortgage on Clawbonny with too much reluctance, to render it probable you will be in a hurry to execute another. As for myself, I own to a secret pleasure in having even this incomplete hold on the old place, which makes me feel twice as much of a Wallingford as I ever felt before."

For my part, I wondered at my kinsman's family pride, and I began to think I had been too humble in my own estimate of our standing in the world. It is true, it was not easy to deceive myself in this particular, and, in point of fact, I was certainly right; but when I found a man who was able to lend $40,000 at an hour's notice, valuing himself on coming from Miles the First, I could not avoid fancying Miles the First a more considerable personage than I had hitherto imagined. As for the money, I was gratified with the confidence John Wallingford reposed in me, had really a wish to embark in the adventure for which it supplied the means, and regarded the abstaining from recording the mortgage an act of delicacy and feeling that spoke well for the lender's heart.

My cousin did not cast me adrift as soon as he had filled my pockets. On the contrary, he went with me, and was a witness to all the purchases I made. The colonial produce was duly bought, in his presence, and many a shrewd hint did I get from this cool-headed and experienced man, who, while he was no merchant, in the common sense of the term, had sagacity enough to make a first-class dealer. As I paid for everything in ready money, the cargo was obtained on good terms, and the Dawn was soon stowed. As soon as this was done, I ordered a crew shipped, and the hatches battened on.

As a matter of course, the constant and important business with which I was now occupied, had a tendency to dull the edge of my grief, though I can truly say that the image of Grace was never long absent from my mind, even in the midst of my greatest exertions. Nor was Lucy forgotten. She was usually at my sister's side; and it never happened that I remembered the latter, without seeing the beautiful semblance of her living friend, watching over her faded form, with sisterly solicitude. John Wallingford left me, at the end of a week, after seeing me fairly under way as a merchant, as well as ship-owner and ship-master.

"Farewell, Miles," he said, as he shook my hand with a cordiality that appeared to increase the longer he knew me, "farewell, my dear boy, and may God prosper you in all your lawful and just undertakings. Never forget you are a Wallingford, and the owner of Clawbonny. Should we meet again, you will find a true friend in me; should we never meet, you will have reason to remember me."

This leave-taking occurred at the inn. A few hours later I was in the cabin of the Dawn, arranging some papers, when I heard a well-known voice, on deck, calling out to the stevedores and riggers, in a tone of authority--"Come, bear a hand, and lay aft; off that forecastle; to this derrick,--who ever saw a derrick standing before, after the hatches were battened down, in a first-class ship!--a regular A. No. 1? Bear a hand--bear a hand; you've got an old sea-dog among you, men."

There was no mistaking the person. On reaching the deck, I found Marble, his coat off, but still wearing all the rest of his "go-ashores," flourishing about among the labourers, putting into them new life and activity. He heard my footsteps behind him, but never turned to salute me, until the matter in hand was terminated. Then I received that honour, and it was easy to see the cloud that passed over his red visage, as he observed the deep mourning in which I was clad.

"Good morning to you, Captain Wallingford," he said, making a mate's bow,--"good morning, sir. God's will be done! we are all sinners, and so are some of the stevedores, who've left this derrick standing as if the ship needed it for a jury-mast. Yes, sir, God's will must be submitted to; and sorry enough was I to read the obittery in the newspapers--Grace, &c., daughter, &c., and only sister, &c.--You'll be glad to hear, however, sir, that Willow Cove is moored head and starn in the family, as one might say, and that the bloody mortgage is cut adrift."

"I am glad to hear this, Mr. Marble," I answered, submitting to a twinge, as I remembered that a mortgage had just been placed on my own paternal acres; "and I trust the place will long remain in your blood. How did you leave your mother and niece?"

"I've not left 'em at all, sir. I brought the old lady and Kitty to town with me, on what I call the mutual sight-seeing principle. They are both up at my boarding-house."

"I am not certain, Moses, that I understand this mutual principle, of which you speak."

"God bless you, Miles," returned the mate, who could presume to be familiar, again, now we had walked so far aft as not to have any listeners; "call me Moses as often as you possibly can, for it's little I hear of that pleasant sound now. Mother will dub me Oloff, and little Kitty calls me nothing but uncle. After all, I have a bulrush feelin' about me, and Moses will always seem the most nat'ral. As for the mutual principle, it is just this; I'm to show mother the Dawn, one or two of the markets--for, would you believe it, the dear old soul never saw a market and is dying to visit one, and so I shall take her to see the Bear first, and the Oswego next, and the Fly last, though she cries out ag'in a market that is much visited by flies. Then I must introduce her to one of the Dutch churches;--after that 't will go hard with me, but I get the dear soul into the theatre; and they tell me there is a lion, up town, that will roar as loud as a bull. That she must see, of course."

"And when your mother has seen all these sights, what will she have to show you?"

"The tombstone on which I was laid out, as a body might say, at five weeks old. She tells me they traced the stone, out of feelin' like, and followed it up until they fairly found it, set down as the head-stone of an elderly single lady, with a most pious and edifying inscription on it. Mother says it contains a whole varse from the bible! That stone may yet stand me in hand, for anything I know to the contrary, Miles."

I congratulated my mate on this important discovery, and inquired the particulars of the affair with the old usurer; in what manner the money was received, and by what process the place had been so securely "moored, head and starn, in the family."

"It was all plain sailing when a fellow got on the right course," Marble answered. "Do you know, Miles, that they call paying off one of your heavy loads on land, 'lifting the mortgage;' and a lift it is, I can tell you, when a man has no money to do it with. The true way to get out of debt is to 'arn money; I've found that much out since I found my mother; and, the cash in hand, all you have to do is to hand it over. Old Van Tassel was civil enough when he saw the bag of dollars, and was full of fine speeches. He didn't wish to distress the 'worthy Mrs. Wetmore, not he; and she was welcome to keep the money as long as she pleased, provided the interest was punctually paid;' but I'd have none of his soft words, and laid down the Spaniards, and told him to count them. I 'lifted his encumbrance,' as they call'd it, as easily as if it had been a pillow of fresh feathers, and walked off with that bit of paper in my hands, with the names tore off it, and satisfaction give me, as my lawyer said. This law is droll business, Miles; if money is paid, they give you satisfaction, just as gentlemen call on each other, you know, when a little cross. But, whatever you do, never put your hand and seal to a mortgage; for land under such a curse is as likely to slide one way as the other. Clawbonny is an older place than Willow Cove, even; and both are too venerable and venerated to be mortgaged."

The advice came too late. Clawbonny was mortgaged already, and I confess to several new and violent twinges, as I recalled the fact, while Marble was telling his story. Still I could not liken my kinsman, plain-talking, warm-hearted, family-loving, John Wallingford, to such a griping usurer as Mrs. Wetmore's persecutor.

I was glad to see my mate on every account. He relieved me from a great deal of irksome duty, and took charge of the ship, bringing his mother and Kitty; that very day, to live in the cabin. I could perceive that the old woman was greatly surprised at the neatness she found in all directions. According to her notions, a ship floated nearly as much in tar as in the water; and great was her pleasure in finding rooms almost (conscience will not allow me to say quite) as clean as her own residence. For one whole day she desired to see no more than the ship, though it was easy to discover that the good woman had set her heart on the Dutch church and the lion. In due time her son redeemed all his pledges, not forgetting the theatre. With the last, good Mrs. Wetmore was astounded, and Kitty infinitely delighted. The pretty little thing confessed that she should like to go every night, wondered what Horace Bright would think of it, and whether he would dare venture alone to a play-house, should he happen to come to York. In 1803 this country was still in the palmy state of unsophistication. There were few, scarcely any, strolling players, and none but those who visited the cities, properly so called, enjoyed opportunities of witnessing the wonders of paint, patch and candle-light, as auxiliary to the other wonders of the stage. Poor little Kitty! There was a day, or two, during which the sock and buskin wrought their usual effect on her female nature, and almost eclipsed the glories of Horace Bright, in her own bright eyes.

I could not refrain from accompanying Marble's party to the museum. In that day, this was a somewhat insignificant collection of curiosities, in Greenwich Street, but it was a miracle to the aunt and niece. Even the worthy Manhattanese were not altogether guiltless of esteeming it a wonder, though the greater renown of the Philadelphia Museum kept this of New York a little in the shade. I have often had occasion to remark that, in this republic, the people in the country are a little less country, and the people of the towns a good deal less town, than is apt to be the case in great nations. The last is easily enough accounted for: the towns having shot up so rapidly, and receiving their accessions of population from classes not accustomed to town lives from childhood. Were a thousand villages to be compressed into a single group of houses, their people would long retain the notions, tastes and habits of villagers, though they would form a large town in the aggregate. Such, in a measure, is still the fact with our American towns; no one of them all having the air, tone or appearance of a capital, while most of them would be paragons in the eyes of such persons as old Mrs. Wetmore and her grand-daughter. Thus it was, that the Greenwich Street Museum gave infinite satisfaction to these two unsophisticated visitors. Kitty was most struck with certain villainous wax-figures, works of art that were much on a level with certain similar objects that were lately, if they are not now, exhibited for the benefit of the Dean and Chapter of Westminster Abbey, above the tombs of the Plantagenets, and almost in contact with that marvel of gothic art, Henry VII's. chapel! It is said that "misery makes a man acquainted with strange bed-fellows." So, it would seem, do shillings and sixpences. To return to Kitty: After admiring divers beauties, such as the New York Beauty, the South Carolina Beauty, and the Pennsylvania Beauty, she fastened her own pretty eyes on a nun, wondering who a female in such an attire could be. In 1803, a nun and a nunnery would be almost as great curiosities, in America, as a rhinoceros, though the country has since undergone some changes in this respect.

"Grandmother," exclaimed Kitty, "who can that lady be--it isn't Lady Washington, is it?"

"It looks more like a clergyman's wife, Kitty," answered the worthy Mrs. Wetmore, not a little 'non-plushed,' herself, as she afterwards admitted. "I should think Madam Washington went more gaily dressed, and looked happier like. I'm sure if any woman could be happy, it was she!"

"Ay," answered her son, "there is truth in that remark. This woman, here, is what is called a nun in the Roman Catholic quarters of the world."

"A nun!" repeated little Kitty. "Isn't that the sort of woman that shuts herself up in a house, and promises never to get married, uncle?"

"You're quite right, my dear, and it's matter of surprise to me how you should pick up so many useful idees, in an out-of-the-way place, like Willow Cove."

"It was not out of your way, uncle," said Kitty, a little reproachfully, "or you never would have found us."

"In that partic'lar it was well enough, my dear. Yes, a nun is a sort of she-hermit, a breed that I detest altogether."

"I suppose, Kitty," I inquired, "you think it wicked in man or woman to take a vow never to get married."

The poor girl blushed, and she turned away from the nun without making any reply. No one can say what turn the conversation might have taken, had not the grandmother's eye fell on an indifferent copy of Leonardo's celebrated picture of the Last Supper, receiving at the same time a printed explanation, one got up by some local antiquary, who had ventured to affix names to the different personages of the group, at his own suggestion. I pointed out the principal figure of the painting, which is sufficiently conspicuous by the way, and then referred the good woman to the catalogue for the rest of the names.

"Bless me, bless me!" exclaimed the worthy mother, "that I should live ever to see paintings of such people! Kitty, my dear, this bald-headed old man is St. Peter. Did you ever think that St. Peter was bald! And there is St. John, with black eyes.--Wonderful, wonderful, that I should ever live to see likenesses of such blessed men!"

Kitty was as much astonished as her grandmother, and even the son was a little mystified. The latter remarked that "the world was making great head-way in all such things, and, for his part, he did not see how the painters and authors found out all they drew and recorded."

The reader may easily imagine that half a day spent in such company was not entirely thrown away. Still, half a day sufficed; and I went to the Old Coffee-house at one, to eat a sandwich and drink a glass of porter; that being the inn then most frequented for such purposes, especially by the merchants. I was in my box, with the curtain drawn, when a party of three entered that which adjoined it, ordering as many glasses of punch; which in that day was a beverage much in request of a morning, and which it was permitted even to a gentleman to drink before dining. It was the sherry-cobbler of the age; although I believe every thing is now pronounced to be out of fashion before dinner.

As the boxes were separated merely by curtains, it was impossible to avoid hearing any conversation that passed in the one adjoining my own, especially when the parties took no pains to speak low, as happened to be the case with my three neighbours. Consequently, I recognised the voices of Andrew Drewett and Rupert Hardinge in an instant;--that of the third person being unknown to me.

"Well, Norton," said Rupert, a little affectedly as to manner, "you have got Drewett and myself down here among you traders, and I hope you will do the honours of the place, in a way to confer on the latter some credit. A merchant is nothing without credit, you know."

"Have no apprehensions for your gentility, Hardinge," returned the person addressed. "Many of the first persons in town frequent this house, at this hour, and its punch is renowned. By-the-way, I saw in a paper, the other day, Rupert, that one of your relatives is dead--Miss Grace Wallingford, your sister's old associate."

A short pause followed, during which I scarcely breathed.

"No, not a relation," Rupert at length answered. "Only my father's ward. You know how it is in the country: the clergyman being expected to take care of all the sick, and all the orphans."

"But these Wallingfords are people altogether above standing in need of favours," Drewett hastily observed. "I have been at their place, and really it is a respectable spot. As for Miss Wallingford, she was a most charming girl, and her death will prove a severe blow to your sister, Hardinge."

This was said with so much feeling, that I could almost forgive the speaker for loving Lucy; though I question if I could ever truly forgive him for being beloved by her.

"Why, yes," rejoined Rupert, affecting an indifference that I could detect he was far from feeling, "Grace was a good creature; though, living so much with her in childhood, she had less interest in my eyes, perhaps, than she might have had in those of one less accustomed to see her. Notwithstanding, I had a certain sort of regard for Grace, I will confess."

"Respect and esteem her!--I should think all who knew her must," added Drewett, as if determined to win my heart; "and, in my opinion, she was both beautiful and lovely."

"This from a man who is confessedly an admirer--nay, engaged to your own sister, as the world says, Hardinge, must be taken as warm praise," said the third. "But, I suppose, Drewett sees the dear departed with the eyes of her friend--for Miss Hardinge was very intimate with her, I believe."

"As intimate as sisters, and loving each other as sisters," returned Drewett, with feeling. "No intimate of Miss Hardinge's can be anything but meritorious?"

"Grace Wallingford had merit beyond a question," added Rupert, "as has her brother, who is a good, honest fellow enough. When a boy, I was rather intimate with him."

"The certain proof of his excellencies and virtues;" put in the stranger, laughing. "But, if a ward, there must be a fortune. I think I have heard these Wallingfords were richish."

"Yes, that is just it--richish" said Drewett. "Some forty or fifty thousand dollars between them, all of which the brother must now inherit; and glad am I it falls to so good a fellow."

"This is generous praise from you, Drewett; for I have heard this brother might prove your rival."

"I had some such fears myself, once, I will confess," returned the other; "but they are all vanished. I no longer fear him, and can see and acknowledge his merits. Besides, I am indebted to him for my life."

"No longer fear him."--This was plain enough, and was proof of the understanding that existed between the lovers. And why should I be feared?--I, who had never dared to say a word to the object nearest my heart, that might induce her to draw the ordinary distinction between passion and esteem--love, and a brotherly regard?

"Ay, Drewett is pretty safe, I fancy," Rupert remarked, laughing; "though it will hardly do for me to tell tales out of school."

"This is a forbidden subject," rejoined the lover, "and we will talk of Wallingford. He must inherit his sister's fortune."

"Poor Grace!--it was little she had to leave, I fancy," Rupert quietly observed.

"Ay, little in your eyes, Hardinge," added the third person, "but a good deal in those of her brother, the ship-master, one might think. Ever since you have fallen heir to Mrs. Bradfort's estate, a few thousands count for nothing."

"Were it a million, that brother would think it dearly purchased by the loss of his sister!" exclaimed Drewett.

"It's plain enough there is no rivalry between Andrew and Miles," added the laughing Rupert. "Certainly money is not quite of so much account with me now, as it used to be when I had nothing but a clergyman's salary to glean from. As for Mrs. Bradfort's fortune, it came from a common ancestor, and I do not see who has a better right to it, than those who now enjoy it."

"Unless it might be your father," said the third man, "who stood before you, according to the laws of primogeniture. I dare say Rupert made love to his venerable cousin, if the truth were known, and induced her to overlook a generation, with his oily tongue."

"Rupert did nothing of the sort; it is his glory to love Emily Merton, and Emily Merton only. As my worthy cousin could not take her fortune with her, she left it among her natural heirs. How do you know I have got any of it. I give you my honour, my account in bank is under $20,000."

"A pretty fair account, that, by Jove!" exclaimed the other. "It must be a rapping income that will permit a fellow like you to keep up such a balance."

"Why, some persons say my sister has the whole fortune. I dare say that Drewett can satisfy you on this head. The affair concerns him quite as much, as it does any other person of my acquaintance."

"I can assure you I know nothing about it;" answered Drewett, honestly. "Nor do I desire to know. I would marry Miss Hardinge to-morrow, though she had not a cent."

"It's just this disinterestedness, Andrew, that makes me like you," observed Rupert, magnificently. "Depend on it, you'll fare none the worse, in the long run, for this admirable trait in your character. Lucy knows it, and appreciates it as she should."

I wished to hear no more, but left the box and the house, taking care not to be seen. From that moment, I was all impatience to get to sea. I forgot even the intention of visiting my sister's grave; nor did I feel that I could sustain another interview with Lucy herself. That afternoon I told Marble the ship must be ready to sail the succeeding morning.

Chapter XI.

"Go tenderness of years; take this key. Give enlargement to the swain--bring him festinately hither. I must employ him in a letter to my love."

Love's Labour Lost.

I will not attempt to analyze the feelings which now impelled me to quit America. I had discovered, or thought I had discovered, certain qualities in Andrew Drewett which rendered him, in some measure, at least worthy of Lucy; and I experienced how painful it is to concede such an advantage to a rival. Still, I must be just enough to add, that, in my cooler moments, when I came to consider that Lucy could never be mine, I was rejoiced to find such proofs of a generous disposition in her future husband. On the other hand, I could not divest myself of the idea that perfect confidence in his own position, could alone enable him to be so liberal in his opinions of myself. The reader will understand how extravagant was this last supposition, when he remembers that I had never given Lucy herself, or the world, any sufficient reason to suppose that I was a suitor for the dear girl's hand.

I never saw Marble so industrious as he proved to be when he received my hurried orders for sailing, that afternoon. He shipped his mother and niece for Willow Cove, by an Albany sloop, the same evening, got the crew on board, and the Dawn into the stream, before sunset, and passed half the night in sending off small stores. As for the ship, she had been cleared the day the hatches were battened down. According to every rule of mercantile thrift, I ought to have been at sea twenty-four hours, when these orders were given; but a lingering reluctance to go further from the grave of Grace, the wish to have one more interview with Lucy, and a disposition to indulge my mate in his commendable zeal to amuse his new-found relatives, kept me in port beyond my day.

All these delays, however, were over, and I was now in a feverish hurry to be off. Neb came up to the City Hotel as I was breakfasting, and reported that the ship was riding at single anchor, with a short range, and that the fore-top-sail was loose. I sent him to the post-office for letters, and ordered my bill. All my trunks had gone aboard before the ship hauled off, and,--the distances in New York then being short,--Neb was soon back, and ready to shoulder my carpet-bag. The bill was paid, three or four letters were taken in my hand, and I walked towards the Battery, followed by the faithful black, who had again abandoned home, Chloe, and Clawbonny, to follow my fortunes.

I delayed opening the letters until I reached the Battery. Despatching Neb to the boat, with orders to wait, I took a turn among the trees,--still reluctant to quit the native soil--while I broke the seals. Two of the letters bore the post-marks of the office nearest Clawbonny; the third was from Albany; and the fourth was a packet of some size from Washington, franked by the Secretary of State, and bearing the seal of office. Surprised at such a circumstance, I opened the last of these communications first.

The official letter proved to be an envelope containing,--with a civil request to myself to deliver the enclosures,--dispatches addressed to the Consul at Hamburg, for which port my ship had been advertised some time. Of course, I could only determine to comply; and that communication was disposed of. One of the Clawbonny letters was in Mr. Hardinge's hand, and I found it to contain some excellent and parental advice. He spoke of my sister, but it was calmly, and with the humble hope that became his sacred office. I was not sorry to find that he advised me not to visit Clawbonny before I sailed. Lucy, he said, was well, and a gentle sadness was gradually taking the place of the livelier grief she had endured, immediately after the loss of her friend. "You were not aware, Miles, how keenly she suffered," my good old guardian continued, "for she struggled hard to seem calm in your presence; but from me my dear child had no secrets on this subject, whatever she may see fit to have on another. Hours has she passed, weeping on my bosom, and I much doubt if the image of Grace has been absent from her waking thoughts a single minute, at any one time, since we first laid your sister's head in the coffin. Of you she does not speak often, but, when she does, it is ever in the kindest and most solicitous manner; calling you 'Miles,' 'poor Miles,' or 'dear Miles,' with all that sisterly frankness and affection you have known in her from childhood." The old gentleman had underscored the "sisterly" himself.

To my delight and surprise, there was a long, very long, letter from Lucy, too! How it happened that I did not recognise her pretty, delicate, lady-like handwriting, is more than I can say; but the direction had been overlooked in the confusion of receiving so many letters together. That direction, too, gave me pleasure. It was to "Miles Wallingford, Esquire;" whereas the three others were addressed to "Capt. Miles Wallingford, ship Dawn, New York." Now a ship-master is no more entitled, in strict usage, to be called a "captain," than he is to be called an "esquire." Your man-of-war officer is the only true captain; a 'master' being nothing but a 'master.' Then, no American is entitled to be called an 'esquire,' which is the correlative of "knight," and is a title properly prohibited by the constitution, though most people imagine that a magistrate is an "esquire" ex officio. He is an "esquire" as a member of congress is an "honourable," by assumption, and not of right; and I wish the country had sufficient self-respect to be consistent with itself. What should we think of Mark Anthony, Esquire? or of 'Squire Lucius Junius Brutus? or His Excellency Julius Cæsar, Esquire?[4] Nevertheless, "esquire" is an appellation that is now universally given to a gentleman, who, in truth, is the only man in this country that, has any right to it at all, and he only by courtesy. Lucy had felt this distinction, and I was grateful for the delicacy and tact with which she had dropped the "captain," and put in the "esquire." To me it seemed to say that she recognised me as one of her own class, let Rupert, and his light associates, think of me as they might. Lucy never departed a hair's breadth from the strictly proper, in all matters of this sort, something having been obtained from education, but far more from the inscrutable gifts of nature.

[Footnote 4: A few years since, the writer saw a marriage announced in a coloured paper, which read, "Married, by the Rev. Julius Cæsar.--Washington, to Miss--------."]

As for the letter itself, it is too long to copy; yet I scarce know how to describe it. Full of heart it was, of course, for the dear girl was all heart; and it was replete with her truth and nature. The only thing in it that did not give me entire satisfaction, was a request not to come again to Clawbonny, until my return from Europe. "Time," she added, "will lessen the pain of such a visit; and, by that time, you will begin to regard our beloved Grace as I already regard her, a spotless spirit waiting for our union with it in the mansions of bliss. It is not easy, Miles, to know how to treat such a loss as this of ours. God may bless it to our lasting good, and, in this light, it is useful to bear it ever in mind; while a too great submission to sorrow may only serve, to render us unhappy. Still, I think, no one who knew Grace, as we knew her, can ever recall her image without feeling himself drawn nearer to the dread being who created her, and who has called her to himself so early. We, alone, thoroughly understood the beloved creature My dear, excellent father loved her as he loves me, but he could not, did not know all the rare virtues of her heart. These could be known only to those who knew her great secret, and, God be praised! even Rupert has little true knowledge of that."

"My father has spoken to me of Grace's wish, that he and I should accept some memorials of the affection she bore us. These were unnecessary, but are far too sacred to be declined, I sincerely wish that their value, in gold, had been less, for the hair I possess (some of which is reserved for you) is far more precious to me, than any diamonds, or stones, could possibly become. As, however, something must be purchased, or procured, I have to request that my memorial may be the pearls you gave Grace, on your return from the Pacific. Of course I do not mean the valuable necklace you have reserved for one who will one day be still dearer to you than any of us, but the dozen or two of pearls that you bestowed on your sister, in my presence, at Clawbonny. They are sufficiently valuable in themselves, to answer all the purposes of Grace's bequest, and I know they were very much prized by her, as your gift, dear Miles. I am certain you will not believe they will be the less valuable in my eyes, on that account. As I know where they are, I shall go to Clawbonny and take possession of them at once, so you need give yourself no further concern on account of the memorial that was to be presented to me. I acknowledge its reception, unless you object to my proposition."

I scarce knew what to think of this. I would gladly have bestowed on Lucy pearls of equal value to those I had given Grace, but she refused to receive them; and now, she asked for these very pearls, which, intrinsically, were not half the value of the sum I had informed Mr. Hardinge Grace had requested me to expend in purchasing a memorial. This avidity to possess these pearls--for so it struck me--was difficult to account for, Grace having owned divers other ornaments that were more costly, and which she had much oftener worn. I confess, I had thought of attempting to persuade Lucy to receive my own necklace as the memorial of Grace, but, a little reflection satisfied me of the hopelessness of success, and nothing had been said on the subject. Of course I acquiesced in the wish of the dear girl to possess the pearls; but, at the same time, I determined to make an additional purchase, more thoroughly to carry out the wishes of my sister.

On the whole, the letter of Lucy gave me a great and soothing pleasure. I came to a resolution to answer it, and to send that answer back by the pilot. I had no owner to feel any solicitude in the movements of the ship; had no longer a sister to care for myself; and to whom else could my last words on quitting the land be so appropriately addressed, as to this constant and true-hearted friend? That much, at least, I could presume to call Lucy, and even to that I clung as the ship-wrecked mariner clings to the last plank that floats.

The fourth letter, to my astonishment, bore the signature of John Wallingford, and the date of Albany. He had got this far on his way home, and written me a line to let me know the fact. I copy his epistle in full, viz:--

"Dear Miles,

"Here I am, and sorry am I to see, by the papers, there you are still. Recollect, my dear boy, that sugars will melt. It is time you were off: this is said for your own sake, and not for mine, as you well know I am amply secured. Still, the markets may fall, and he who is first in them can wait for a rise, while he who is last must take what offers."

"Above all, Miles, do not take it into your head to alter your will. Things are now arranged between us precisely as they should be, and I hate changes. I am your heir, and you are mine. Your counsel, Richard Harrison, Esquire, is a man of great respectability, and a perfectly safe repository of such a secret. I leave many of my papers in his hands, and he has now been my counsel ever since I had need of one; and treads so hard on Hamilton's heels, that the last, sometimes feels his toes. This is as counsel, however, and not as an advocate.

"Adieu, my dear boy: we are both Wallingfords, and the nearest of kin to each other, of the name. Clawbonny will be safe with either of us, and either of us will be safe with Clawbonny.

"Your affectionate cousin,
John Wallingford."

I confess that all this anxiety about Clawbonny began to give me some uneasiness, and that I often wished, I had been less ambitious, or less hasty would be the better word, and had been content to go to sea again, in my simple character of ship-master, and ship-owner; leaving the merchant to those who better understood the vocation.

I now went to the boat, and to the ship. Marble was all ready for me, and in ten minutes the anchor was clear of the bottom; in ten more, it was catted and fished, and the Dawn was beating down the bay, on a young flood, with a light breeze, at south-west. The pilot being in charge, I had nothing to do but go below, and write my letters. I answered everybody, even to the Secretary of State, who, at that time, was no less a man than James Madison. To him, however, I had nothing to say, but to acknowledge the receipt of the dispatches, and to promise to deliver them. My letter to Mr. Hardinge, was, I hope, such as a son might have written to a revered parent. In it, I begged he would allow me to add to his library, by a purchase of theological works of value, and which, in that day, could only be procured in Europe. This was to be his memorial of my sister. I also begged of his friendship an occasional look at Clawbonny, though I did not venture to speak of the mortgage, of which I now felt a sort of conviction he would not approve.

The letter to John Wallingford, was as pithy as his own to me. I told him my will was made, on a conviction of its perfect propriety, and assured him it would not be altered in a hurry; I told him the sugars were safe, and let him understand that they were already on their way to Hamburg, whence I hoped, ere long, to send him a good account of their sale.

To Lucy, I was by no means so laconic. On the subject of the pearls of Grace, I begged her to do just as she pleased; adding a request, however, that she would select such others of my sister's ornaments, as might be most agreeable to herself. On this point I was a little earnest, since the pearls were not worth the sum Grace had mentioned to me; and I felt persuaded Lucy would not wish me to remain her debtor. There was a pair of bracelets, in particular, that Grace had highly prized, and which were very pretty in themselves. My father had purchased the stones--rubies of some beauty--in one of his voyages, for my mother, who had fancied them too showy for her to wear. I had caused them to be set for Grace, and they would make a very suitable ornament for Lucy; and were to be so much the more prized, from the circumstance, that Grace had once worn them. It is true, they contained a little, though very little of my hair; for on this Grace had insisted; but this hair was rather a blemish, and might easily be removed. I said as much in my letter.

On the subject of my sister's death, I found it impossible to write much. The little I did say, however, was in full accordance with her own feelings, I felt persuaded, and I had no difficulty in believing she would sympathize in all I did express, and in much that I had not words to express.

On the subject of the necklace, I did find language to communicate a little, though it was done in the part of the letter where a woman is said to give her real thoughts,--the postscript. In answer to what Lucy had said on the subject of my own necklace, I wrote as follows, viz:--"You speak of my reserving the more valuable pearls for one, who, at some future day, may become my wife. I confess this was my own intention, originally; and very pleasant was it to me to fancy that one so dear would wear pearls that had been brought up out of the sea by my own hands. But dearest Lucy, all these agreeable and delusive anticipations have vanished. Depend on it, I shall never marry. I know that declarations of this sort, in young men of three and twenty, like those of maidens of nineteen, excite a smile oftener than they produce belief; but I do not say this without reflection, and, I may add, without feeling. She whom I once did hope to persuade to marry me, although much my friend, is not accustomed to view me with the eyes that lead to love. We were brought together under circumstances that have probably induced her to regard me more as a brother than as a suitor, and while the golden moments have passed away, her affections have become the property of another. I resemble, in this particular at least, our regretted Grace, and am not likely to change. My nature may be sterner, and my constitution stronger, than those of my poor sister proved to be, but I feel I cannot love twice; not as I have, and still do love, most certainly. Why should I trouble you with all this, however? I know you will not accept of the necklace--though so ready to give me your own last piece of gold, when I went to sea, you have ever been so fastidious as to refuse every thing from us that had the least appearance of a pecuniary obligation--and it is useless to say more about it. I have no right to trouble you with my griefs, especially at a moment when I know your affectionate heart is suffering so deeply from our recent loss."

I will confess that, while writing this, I fancied I was making a sort of half-declaration to Lucy; one that might, at least, give her some faint insight into the real state of my heart; and I had a melancholy satisfaction in thinking that the dear girl might, by these means, learn how much I had prized and still did prize her. It was only a week later, while pondering over what I had written, the idea occurred to me that every syllable I had said would apply just as well to Emily Merton as to Lucy Hardinge. Peculiar circumstances had made me intimately acquainted with our young English friend, and these circumstances might well have produced the very results I had mentioned. We all believed Emily's affections to be engaged to Rupert, who must have succeeded during my absence at sea. A modest and self-distrusting nature, like that of Lucy's, would be very apt to turn to any other than herself in quest of the original of my picture.

These letters occupied me for hours. That to Lucy, in particular, was very long, and it was not written wholly without care. When all were done, and sealed, and enveloped to the address of the post-master, I went on deck. The pilot and Marble had not been idle while I had been below, for I found the ship just weathering the south-west Spit, a position that enabled me to make a fair wind of it past the Hook and out to sea.

Certainly I was in no haste to quit home. I was leaving my native land, Clawbonny, the grave of my sister, and Lucy, dearest Lucy, all behind me; and, at such an instant, one feels the ties that are about to be separated. Still, every seaman is anxious for an offing, and glad was I to see the head of the Dawn pointing in the right direction, with her yards nearly square, and a fore-top-mast studding-sail set. The pilot was all activity, and Marble, cool, clear-headed in his duty, and instinctively acquainted with everything belonging to a vessel, was just the man to carry out his views to his heart's content.

The ship went, rising and falling on the swells of the ocean, that now began to make themselves felt, past the light and the low point of the Hook within a few minutes after we had squared away, and, once more, the open ocean lay before us. I could not avoid smiling at Neb, just as we opened the broad waste of waters, and got an unbroken view of the rolling ocean to the southward. The fellow was on the main-top-sail yard, having just run out, and lashed the heel of a top-gallant-studding-sail boom, in order to set the sail. Before he lay in to the mast, he raised his Herculean frame, and took a look to windward. His eyes opened, his nostrils dilated, and I fancied he resembled a hound that scented game in the gale, as he snuffed the sea-air which came fanning his glistening face, filled with the salts and peculiar flavours of the ocean. I question if Neb thought at all of Chloe, for the next hour or two!

As soon as we got over the bar, I gave the pilot my package, and he got into his boat. It was not necessary to shorten sail in order to do this, for the vessel's way did not exceed five knots.

"Do you see the sail, hereaway in the south-eastern board," said the pilot, as he went over the side, pointing towards a white speck on the ocean; "take care of that fellow, and give him as wide a berth as possible, or he may give you a look at Halifax, or Bermuda."

"Halifax, or Bermuda! I have nothing to do with either and shall not go there. Why should I fear that sail?"

"On account of your cargo, and on account of your men. That is His Majesty's ship Leander; she has been off here, now, more than a week. The inward-bound craft say she is acting under some new orders, and they name several vessels that have been seen heading north-east after she had boarded them. This new war is likely to lead to new troubles on the coast, and it is well for all outward-bound ships to be on the look-out."

"His Majesty's ship" was a singular expression for an American to use, towards any sovereign, twenty years after the independence of the country was acknowledged. But, it was common then, nor has it ceased entirely even among the newspapers of the present hour; so much harder is it to substitute a new language than to produce a revolution. Notwithstanding this proof of bad taste in the pilot, I did not disregard his caution. There had been certain unpleasant rumours, up in town for more than a month, that the two great belligerents would be apt to push each other into the old excesses, England and France at that day having such a monopoly of the ocean as to render them somewhat independent of most of the old-fashioned notions of the rights of neutrals. As for America, she was cursed with the cant of economy--an evil that is apt to produce as many bad consequences as the opposite vice, extravagance. The money paid as interest on the sums expended in the war of 1812, might have maintained a navy that would have caused both belligerents to respect her rights, and thereby saved the principal entirely, to say nothing of all the other immense losses dependent on an interrupted trade; but demagogues were at work with their raven throats, and it is not reasonable to expect that the masses can draw very just distinctions on the subject of remote interests, when present expenditure is the question immediately before them. It is true, I remember a modern French logician, who laid down the dogma that the tendency of democracies being to excesses, if you give a people the power, they would tax themselves to death; but, however true this theory may be in the main, it certainly is not true quoad the good citizens of the great model republic. It was bad enough to be accursed with a spurious economy; but this was not the heaviest grievance that then weighed upon the national interests. The demon of faction, party spirit, was actively at work in the country; and it was almost as rare to find a citizen who was influenced purely by patriotic and just views, as it would be to find an honest man in the galleys. The nation, as a rule, was either English or French. Some swore by the First Consul, and some by Billy Pitt. As for the commercial towns, taken in connection with the upper classes, these were little more than so many reflections of English feeling, exaggerated and rendered still more factitious, by distance. Those who did not swallow all that the English tories chose to pour down their throats, took the pillules Napoleons without gagging. If there were exceptions, they were very few, and principally among travelled men--pilgrims who, by approaching the respective idols, had discovered they were made by human hands!

Impressment at sea, and out of neutral vessels, was revived, as a matter of course, with the renewal of the war and all American ships felt the expediency, of avoiding cruisers that might deprive them of their men. Strange as it may seem, a large and leading class of Americans justified this claim of the English, as it was practised on board their own country's vessels! What will not men defend when blinded and excited by faction? As this practice was to put the mariner on the defensive, and to assume that every man was an Englishman who could not prove, out on the ocean, a thousand miles from land perhaps, that he was an American, it followed that English navy officers exercised a jurisdiction over foreigners and under a foreign flag, that would not be tolerated in the Lord High Chancellor himself, in one of the streets of London; that of throwing the burthen of proving himself innocent, on the accused party! There was an abundance of other principles that were just as obvious, and just as unanswerable as this, which were violated by the daily practices of impressment, but they all produced no effect on the members of Congress and public writers that sustained the right of the English, who as blindly espoused one side of the main question as their opponents espoused the other. Men acting under the guidance of factions are not compos mentis.

I think I may say, without boasting unreasonably of my own good sense, that I have kept myself altogether aloof from the vortex of parties, from boyhood to the present hour. My father had been a federalist, but a federalist a good deal cooled off, from having seen foreign countries, and no attempts had ever been made to make me believe that black was white in the interest of either faction. I knew that impressment from foreign vessels, out of the waters of Great Britain at least, could be defended on no other ground but that of power; and as for colonial produce, and all the subtleties that were dependent on its transportation, I fancied that a neutral had a perfect right to purchase of one belligerent and sell to another, provided he found it his interest so to do, and he violated no positive--not paper--blockade, or did not convey articles that are called contraband of war.

With these views, then, it is not surprising that I easily came into the pilot's opinion, and determined to give the Leander a sufficient berth, as sailors express it.

The Leander was a fifty, on two decks, a very silly sort of a craft; though she had manfully played her part at the Nile, and on one or two other rather celebrated occasions, and was a good vessel of the build. Still, I felt certain the Dawn could get away from her, under tolerably favourable circumstances, The Leander afterwards became notorious, on the American coast, in consequence of a man killed in a coaster by one of her shot, within twenty miles of the spot where I now saw her; an event that had its share in awakening the feeling that produced the war of 1812; a war of which the effects are just beginning to be made manifest in the policy of the republic: a fact, by-the-way, that is little understood, at home or abroad. The Leander was a fast ship of her kind, but the Dawn was a fast ship of any kind; and I had great faith in her. It is true, the fifty had the advantage of the wind; but she was a long way off, well to the southward, and might have something in sight that could not be seen even from our top-gallant yards, whither Neb was sent to take a look at the horizon.

Our plan was soon laid. The south side of Long Island trending a little to the north of east, I ordered the ship to be steered east by south, which, with the wind at south-south-west, gave me an opportunity to carry all our studding-sails. The soundings were as regular as the ascent on the roof of a shed, or on that of a graded lawn; and the land in sight less than two leagues distant. In this manner we ran down the coast, with about six knots' way on the ship, as soon as we got from under the Jersey shore.

In less than an hour, or when we were about four leagues from Sandy Hook Light, the Englishman wore short round, and made sail to cut us off. By this time, he was just forward of our weather beam, a position that did not enable him to carry studding-sails on both sides; for, had he kept off enough for this, he would have fallen into our wake; while, by edging away to close with us, his after-sails becalmed the forward, and this at the moment when every thing of ours pulled like a team of well-broken cart-horses. Notwithstanding all this, we had a nervous afternoon's and night's work of it. These old fifties are great travellers off the wind; and more than once I fancied the Leander was going to lay across my bows, as she did athwart those of the Frenchman, at the Nile. The Dawn, however, was not idle, and, as the wind stood all that day, throughout the night, and was fresher, though more to the southward, than it had hitherto been, next morning, I had the satisfaction of seeing Montauk a little on my lee-bow, at sunrise, while my pursuer was still out of gun-shot on my weather beam.

Marble and I now held a consultation on the subject of the best mode of proceeding. I was half disposed to let the Leander come up, and send a boat on board us. What had we to fear? We were bound to Hamburg, with a cargo, one half of which came from the English, while the other half came from French islands.--But what of that? Marble, however, would not listen to such a project. He affirmed that he was a good pilot in all the sounds, and that it would be better to risk everything, rather than let that fifty close with us.

"Keep the ship away, for Montauk, sir," exclaimed the mate--"keep her away for Montauk, and let that chap follow us if he dare! There's a reef or two, inside, that I'll engage to lead him on, should he choose to try the game, and that will cure him of his taste for chasing a Yankee."

"Will you engage, Moses, to carry the ship over the shoals, if I will do as you desire, and go inside?"

"I'll carry her into any port, east of Block Island, Cap tain Wallingford. Though New York born, as it now turns out, I'm 'down east' edicated, and have got a 'coasting pilot' of my own in my head."

This settled the matter, and I came to the resolution to stand on.

Chapter XII.

"The wind blows fair, the vessel feels
The pressure of the rising breeze,
And, swiftest of a thousand keels
She leaps to the careering seas--"

Willis.

Half an hour later, things drew near a crisis. We had been obliged to luff a little, in order to clear a reef that even Marble admitted lay off Montauk, while the Leander had kept quite as much away, with a view to close. This brought the fifty so near us, directly on our weather beam, as to induce her commander to try the virtue of gunpowder. Her bow-gun was fired, and its shot, only a twelve-pounder, richochèd until it fairly passed our fore-foot, distant a hundred yards, making its last leap from the water precisely in a line with the stem of the Dawn. This was unequivocal evidence that the game could not last much longer, unless the space between the two vessels should be sensibly widened. Fortunately, we now opened Montauk fort, and the option was offered us of doubling that point, and entering the sound, or of standing oh towards Block Island, and putting the result on our heels. After a short consultation with Marble, I decided on the first.

One of the material advantages possessed by a man-of-war in a chase with a merchant vessel, is in the greater velocity with which her crew can make or take in sail. I knew that the moment we began to touch our braces, tacks and sheets, that the Leander would do the same, and that she would effect her objects in half the time in which we could effect ours. Nevertheless, the thing was to be done, and we set about the preparations with care and assiduity. It was a small matter to round in our weather braces, until the yards were nearly square, but the rigging out of her studding-sail booms, and the setting of the sails, was a job to occupy the Dawn's people several minutes. Marble suggested that by edging gradually away, we should bring the Leander so far on our quarter as to cause the after-sails to conceal what we were about forward, and that we might steal a march on our pursuers by adopting this precaution. I thought the suggestion a good one, and the necessary orders were given to carry it out.

Any one might be certain that the Englishman's glasses were levelled on us the whole time. Some address was used, therefore, in managing to get our yards in without showing the people at the braces. This was done by keeping off first, and then by leading the ropes as far forward as possible, and causing the men to haul on them, seated on deck. In this manner we got our yards nearly square, or as much in as our new course required, when we sent hands aloft, forward, to get out the lee booms. But we reckoned without our host. John Bull was not to be caught in that way. The hands were hardly in the lee fore rigging, before I saw the fifty falling off to our course, her yards squared, and signs aboard her that she had larboard studding sails as well as ourselves. The change of course had one good effect, however: it brought our pursuer so far on our quarter, that, standing at the capstan, I saw him through the mizen rigging. This took the Dawn completely from under the Leander's broadside, leaving us exposed to merely four or five of her forward guns, should she see fit to use them. Whether the English were reluctant to resort to such very decided means of annoyance, so completely within the American waters, as we were clearly getting to be, or whether they had so much confidence in their speed, as to feel no necessity for firing, I never knew; but they did not have any further recourse to shot.

As might have been foreseen, the fifty had her extra canvass spread some time before we could open ours, and I fancied she showed the advantage thus obtained in her rate of sailing. She certainly closed with us, though we closed much faster with the land: still, there was imminent danger of her overhauling us before we could round the point, unless some decided step were promptly taken to avoid it.

"On the whole, Mr. Marble," I said, after my mates and myself had taken a long and thoughtful look at the actual state of things--"On the whole, Mr. Marble, it may be well to take in our light sails, haul our wind, and let the man-of-war come up with us. We are honest folk, and there is little risk in his seeing all we have to show him."

"Never think of it!" cried the mate. "After this long pull, the fellow will be as savage as a bear with a sore head. He'd not leave a hand on board us, that can take his trick at the wheel; and it's ten chances to one that he would send the ship to Halifax, under some pretence or other, that the sugars are not sweet enough, or that the coffee was grown in a French island, and tastes French. No--no--Captain Wallingford--here's the wind at sou'-sou'-west, and we're heading nothe-east, and-by-nothe-half-nothe already, with that fellow abaft the mizen riggin'; as soon as we get a p'int more to the nor'ard, we'll have him fairly in our wake."

"Ay, that will do very well as a theory, but what can we make of it in practice? We are coming up towards Montauk at the rate of eight knots, and you have told me yourself there is a reef off that point, directly towards which we must this moment be standing. At this rate, fifteen minutes might break us up into splinters."

I could see that Marble was troubled, by the manner in which he rolled his tobacco about, and the riveted gaze he kept on the water ahead. I had the utmost confidence in his seaman-like prudence and discretion, while I knew he was capable of suggesting anything a ship could possibly perform, in an emergency that called for such an exercise of decision. At that moment, he forgot our present relations, and went back, as he often did when excited, to the days of our greater equality, and more trying scenes.

"Harkee, Miles," he said, "the reef is dead ahead of us, but, there is a passage between it and the point. I went through that passage in the revvylution-war, in chase of an English West Injyman, and stood by the lead the whole way, myself. Keep her away, Neb--keep her away, another pint: so--steady--very well, dyce (anglice, thus)--keep her so, and let John Bull follow us, if he dare."

"You should be very sure of your channel, Mr. Marble," I said gravely, "to take so much responsibility on yourself. Remember my all is embarked in this ship, and the insurance will not be worth a sixpence, if we are lost running through such a place as this in broad daylight. Reflect a moment, I beg of you, if not certain of what you do."

"And what will the insurance be worth, ag'in Halifax, or Bermuda? I'll put my life on the channel, and would care more for your ship, Miles, than my own. If you love me, stand on, and let us see if that lubberly make-believe two-decker dare follow."

I was fain to comply, though I ran a risk that I find impossible, now, to justify to myself. I had my cousin John Wallingford's property in charge, as well as my own, or what was quite as bad, I placed Clawbonny in imminent jeopardy. Still, my feelings were aroused, and to the excitement of a race, was added the serious but vague apprehensions all American seamen felt, in that day, of the great belligerents. It is a singular proof of human justice, that the very consequences of these apprehensions are made matter of reproach against them.

It is not my intention to dwell further on the policy of England and France, during their great contest for superiority, than is necessary to the narrative of events connected with my own adventures; but a word in behalf of American seamen in passing, may not be entirely out of place or season. Men are seldom wronged without being calumniated, and the body of men of which I was then one, did not escape that sort of reparation for all the grievances they endured, which is dependent on demonstrating that the injured deserve their sufferings. We have been accused of misleading English cruisers by false information, of being liars to an unusual degree, and of manifesting a grasping love of gold, beyond the ordinary cupidity of man. Now, I will ask our accusers, if it were at all extraordinary that they who felt themselves daily aggrieved, should resort to the means within their power to avenge themselves? As for veracity, no one who has reached my present time of life, can be ignorant that truth is the rarest thing in the world, nor are those who have been the subjects of mystifications got up in payment for wrongs, supposed or real, the most impartial judges of character or facts. As for the charge of an undue love of money, it is unmerited. Money will do less in America than in any other country of my acquaintance, and infinitely less than in either France or England. There is truth in this accusation, as applied either to a particular class, or to the body of the American people, only in one respect. It is undeniable that, as a new nation, with a civilization that is wanting in so many of its higher qualities, while it is already so far advanced in those which form the basis of national greatness, money does not meet with the usual competition among us. The institutions, too, by dispensing with hereditary consideration, do away with a leading and prominent source of distinction that is known to other systems, thus giving to riches an exclusive importance, that is rather apparent, however, than real. I acknowledge, that little or no consideration is yet given among us to any of the more intellectual pursuits, the great bulk of the nation regarding literary men, artists, even professional men, as so many public servants, that are to be used like any other servants, respecting them and their labours only as they can contribute to the great stock of national wealth and renown. This is owing, in part, to the youth of a country in which most of the material foundation was so recently to be laid, and in part to the circumstance that men, being under none of the factitious restraints of other systems, coarse and vulgar-minded declaimers make themselves heard and felt to a degree that would not be tolerated elsewhere. Notwithstanding all these defects, which no intelligent, and least of all, no travelled American should or can justly deny, I will maintain that gold is not one tittle more the goal of the American, than it is of the native of other active and energetic communities. It is true, there is little besides gold, just now, to aim at in this country, but the great number of young men who devote themselves to letters and the arts, under such unfavourable circumstances, a number greatly beyond the knowledge of foreign nations, proves it is circumstances, and not the grovelling propensities of the people themselves, that give gold a so nearly undisputed ascendency. The great numbers who devote themselves to politics among us, certainly any thing but a money-making pursuit, proves that it is principally the want of other avenues to distinction that renders gold apparently the sole aim of American existence. To return from this touch of philosophy to our ships.

The progress of the Dawn soon left us no choice in the course to be steered. We could see by the charts that the reef was already outside of us, and there was now no alternative between going ashore, or going through Marble's channel. We succeeded in the last, gaining materially on the Leander by so doing, the Englishman hauling his wind when he thought himself as near to the danger as was prudent, and giving up the chase. I ran on to the northward an hour longer, when, finding our pursuer was hull down to the southward and westward, I took in our larboard studding-sails, and brought the ship by the wind, passing out to sea again, to the eastward of Block Island.

Great was the exultation on board the Dawn at this escape; for escape it proved to be. Next morning, at sunrise, we saw a sail a long distance to the westward, which we supposed to be the Leander; but she did not give chase. Marble and the people were delighted at having given John Bull the slip; while I learned caution from the occurrence; determining not to let another vessel of war get near enough to trouble me again, could I possibly prevent it.

From this time, for twenty days, the passage of the Dawn had nothing unusual. We crossed the Banks in forty-six, and made as straight a course for the western extremity of England, as the winds would allow. For several days, I was uncertain whether to go north-about, or not, believing that I should fall in with fewer cruisers by doubling Scotland, than by running up channel. The latter was much the nearest route; though so much depends on the winds, that I determined to let these last govern. Until we had made two-thirds of our distance across the ocean, the winds had stood very much at south-west; and, though we had no heavy weather, our progress was good; but in 20° east from Greenwich, we got north-easters, and our best tack being the larboard, I stood for ten days to the southward and eastward. This brought us into the track of every thing going to, or coming from, the Mediterranean; and, had we stood on far enough, we should have made the land somewhere in the Bay of Biscay. I knew we should find the ocean dotted with English cruisers, however, as soon as we got into the European waters, and we tacked to the north-west, when about a hundred leagues from the land.

The thirty-third day out proved one of great importance to me. The wind had shifted to south-west, and it was blowing fresh, with very thick weather--rain, mingled with a fine mist, that often prevented one's seeing a quarter of a mile from the ship. The change occurred at midnight, and there was every prospect of the wind's standing until it shoved us into the chops of the channel, from which we were then distant about four hundred miles, according to my own calculation. Marble had the watch at four o'clock, and he sent for me, that I might decide on the course to be steered and the sail to be carried. The course was N. N. East; but, as for the sail, I determined to stand on under our top-sails and fore-course, spanker and jib, until I could get a look by daylight. When the sun was fairly up, there was no change, and I gave orders to get along some of the larger studding-sails, and to set the main-top-gallant sail, having my doubts whether the spars would bear any more canvass, under the stiff breeze that was blowing.

"This is no great distance from the spot where we surprised the Lady of Nantes, Captain Wallingford," Marble observed to me, as I stood overlooking the process of bending a fore-top-mast studding-sail, in which he was engaged with his own hands; "nor was the weather any thicker then than it is now, though that was a haze, and this is a mist."

"You are out of your longitude a few hundred miles, Master Moses, but the comparison is well enough, otherwise. We have twice the wind and sea we had then, moreover, and that was dry weather, while this is, to speak more gingerly, a little moist."

"Ay, ay, sir; there is just that difference. Them were pleasant days, Captain Wallingford--I say nothing ag'in these--but them 'ere were pleasant times, as all in the Crisis must allow."

"Perhaps we shall think the same of these some five or six years hence."

"Well, that's natur', I must confess. It's amazing how the last v'yge hangs in a man's memory, and how little we think of the present! I suppose the Lord made us all of this disposition, for it's sartain we all manifest it. Come, bear a hand Neb, on that fore-yard, and let us see the length of the stun-sail boom."

But, Neb, contrary to his habits, stood upright on the yard, holding on by the lift, and looking over the weather leach of the top-sail, apparently at some object that either was just then visible, or which had just before been visible.

"What is it?" cried Marble, struck with the black's attitude and manner. "What d'ye see?"

"I don't see him now, sir; nuttin' now; but dere was a ship."

"Where-away?" I demanded.

"Off, here, Masser Mile--larboard bow, well forrard; look sharp and soon see him, yourself, sir."

Sharp enough we did look, all hands of us on deck, and, in less than a minute, we caught a pretty good view of the stranger from the forecastle. He might have been visible to us half a minute, in one of those momentary openings in the mist, that were constantly occurring, and which enabled the eye to command a range around the ship of half a mile, losing it again, however, almost as soon as it was obtained. Notwithstanding the distance of time, I can perfectly recall the appearance of that vessel, seen as she was, for a moment only, and seen too so unexpectedly. It was a frigate, as frigates then were; or a ship of that medium size between a heavy sloop-of-war and a two-decker, which, perhaps, offers the greatest proportions for activity and force. We plainly saw her cream-coloured, or as it is more usual to term it, her yellow streak, dotted with fourteen ports, including the bridle, and gleaming brightly in contrast to the dark and glistening hull, over which the mist and the spray of the ocean cast a species of sombre lustre. The stranger was under his three top-sails, spanker and jib, each of the former sails being double reefed. His courses were in the brails. As the wind did not blow hard enough to bring a vessel of any size to more than one reef, even on a bow-line, this short canvass proved that the frigate was on her cruising ground, and was roaming about in quest of anything that might offer. This was just the canvass to give a cruiser a wicked look, since it denoted a lazy preparation, which might, in an instant, be improved into mischief. As all cruising vessels, when on their stations doing nothing, reef at night, and the hour was still early, it was possible we had made this ship before her captain, or first-lieutenant, had made his appearance on deck. There she was, at all events, dark, lustrous, fair in her proportions, her yards looming square and symmetrical, her canvass damp, but stout and new, the copper bright as a tea-kettle, resembling a new cent, her hammock-cloths with the undress appearance this part of a vessel of war usually offers at night, and her quarter-deck and forecastle guns frowning through the lanyards of her lower rigging like so many slumbering bull-dogs muzzled in their kennels.

The frigate was on an easy bow-line, or, to speak more correctly, was standing directly across our fore-foot, with her yards nearly square. In a very few minutes, each keeping her present course, the two ships would have passed within pistol-shot of each other. I scarce knew the nature of the sudden impulse which induced me to call out to the man at the wheel to starboard his helm. It was probably from instinctive apprehension that it were better for a neutral to have as little to do with a belligerent as possible, mingled with a presentiment that I might lose some of my people by impressment. Call out I certainly did, and the Dawn's bows came up to the wind, looking to the westward, or in a direction contrary to that in which the frigate was running, as her yards were square, or nearly so. As soon as the weather leeches touched, the helm was righted, and away we went with the wind abeam, with about as much breeze as we wanted for the sail we carried.

The Dawn might have been half a mile to windward of the frigate when this manoeuvre was put in execution. We were altogether ignorant whether our own ship had been seen; but the view we got of the stranger satisfied us that he was an Englishman. Throughout the whole of the long wars that succeeded the French Revolution, the part of the ocean which lay off the chops of the channel was vigilantly watched by the English, and it was seldom, indeed, a vessel could go over it, without meeting more or less of their cruisers.

I was not without a hope that the two ships would pass each other, without our being seen. The mist became very thick just as we hauled up, and, had this change of course taken place after we were shut in, the chances were greatly in favour of its being effected. Once distant a mile from the frigate, there was little danger of her getting a glimpse of us, since, throughout all that morning, I was satisfied we had not got an horizon with that much of diameter.

As a matter of course, the preparations with the studding-sails were suspended. Neb was ordered to lay aloft, as high as the cross-trees, and to keep a vigilant look-out, while all eyes on deck were watching as anxiously, in the mist, as we had formerly watched for the shadowy outline of la Dame de Nantes. Marble's long experience told him best where to look, and he caught the next view of the frigate. She was directly under our lee, gliding easily along under the same canvass; the reefs still in, the courses in the brails, and the spanker rolled up, as it had been for the night.

"By George," cried the mate, "all them Johnny Bulls are still asleep, and they haven't seen us! If we can give this fellow the slip, as we did the old Leander, Captain Wallingford, the Dawn will become as famous as the Flying Dutchman! See, there he jogs on, as if going to mill, or to church, and no more stir aboard him than there is in a Quaker meetin'! How my good old soul of a mother would enjoy this!"

There the frigate went, sure enough, without the smallest sign of any alarm having been given on board her. The vessels had actually passed each other, and the mist was thickening again. Presently, the veil was drawn, and the form of that beautiful ship was entirely hid from sight. Marble rubbed his hands with delight; and all our people began to joke at the expense of the Englishman. 'If a merchantman could see a man-of-war,' it was justly enough said, 'a man-of-war ought certainly to see a merchantman.' Her look-outs must have all been asleep, or it would not have been possible for us to pass so near, under the canvass we carried, and escape undiscovered. Most of the Dawn's crew were native Americans, though there were four or five Europeans among them. Of these last, one was certainly an Englishman, and (as I suspected) a deserter from a public ship; and the other, beyond all controversy, was a plant of the Emerald Isle. These two men were particularly delighted, though well provided with those veracious documents called protections, which, like beggars' certificates, never told anything but truth; though, like beggars' certificates, they not unfrequently fitted one man as well as another. It was the well-established laxity in the character of this testimony, that gave the English officers something like a plausible pretext for disregarding all evidence in the premises. Their mistake was in supposing they had a right to make a man prove anything on board a foreign ship; while that of America was, in permitting her citizens to be arraigned before foreign judges, under any conceivable circumstances. If England wanted her own men, let her keep them within her own jurisdiction; not attempt to follow them into the jurisdiction of neutral states.

Well, the ship had passed; and I began myself to fancy that we were quit of a troublesome neighbour, when Neb came down the rigging, in obedience to an order from the mate.

"Relieve the wheel, Master Clawbonny," said Marble, who often gave the negro his patronymic, "we may want some of your touches, before we reach the foot of the danse. Which way was John Bull travelling when you last saw him?"

"He goin' eastward, sir."--Neb was never half as much "nigger" at sea, as when he was on shore,--there being something in his manly calling that raised him nearer to the dignity of white men.--"But, sir, he was gettin' his people ready to make sail."

"How do you know that?--No such thing, sir; all hands were asleep, taking their second naps."

"Well, you see, Misser Marble; den you know, sir."

Neb grinned as he said this; and I felt persuaded he had seen something that he understood, but which very possibly he could not explain; though it clearly indicated that John Bull was not asleep. We were not left long in doubt on this head. The mist opened again, and, distant from us about three-quarters of a mile, bearing on our lee quarter, we got another look at the frigate, and a look that satisfied everybody what she was about. The Englishman was in stays, in the very act of hauling his head-yards, a certain sign he was a quick and sure-working fellow, since this manoeuvre had been performed against a smart sea, and under double-reefed top-sails. He must have made us, just as we lost sight of him, and was about to shake out his reefs.

On this occasion, the frigate may have been visible from our decks three minutes. I watched all her movements, as the cat watches the mouse. In the first place her reefs were shaken out, as the ship's bows fell off far enough to get the sea on the right side of them, and her top-sails appeared to me to be mast-headed by instinct, or as the bird extends its wings. The fore and main-top-gallant sails were fluttering in the breeze at this very moment,--it blew rather too fresh for the mizen,--and then their bosoms were distended, and their bow-lines hauled. How the fore and main-tacks got aboard I could not tell, though it was done while my eyes were on the upper sails. I caught a glimpse of the fore-sheet, however, as the clew was first flapping violently, and then was brought under the restraint of its own proper, powerful purchase. The spanker had been hauled out previously, to help the ship in tacking.

There was no mistaking all this. We were seen, and chased; everything on board the frigate being instantly and accurately trimmed, "full and by." She looked up into our wake, and I knew must soon overtake a heavily-laden ship like the Dawn, in the style in which she was worked and handled. Under the circumstances, therefore, I motioned Marble to follow me aft, where we consulted together, touching our future proceedings. I confess I was disposed to shorten sail, and let the cruiser come alongside; but Marble, as usual, was for holding on.

"We are bound to Hamburg," said the mate, "which lies, hereaway, on our lee-beam, and no man has a right to complain of our steering our course. The mist has shut the frigate in again, and, it being very certain he will overhaul us on a bow-line, I advise you, Miles, to lay the yards perfectly square, edge away two points more, and set the weather stun'-sails. If we do not open John very soon again, we may be off three or four miles to leeward before he learns where we are, and then, you know, a 'starn-chase' is always a 'long-chase.'"

This was good advice, and I determined to follow it. It blew rather fresh at the instant, and the Dawn began to plunge through the seas at a famous rate as soon as she felt the drag of the studding-sails. We were now running on a course that made an obtuse angle with that of the frigate, and there was the possibility of so far increasing our distance as to get beyond the range of the openings of the mist, ere our expedient were discovered. So long did the density of the atmosphere continue, indeed, that my hopes were beginning to be strong, just as one of our people called out "the frigate!" This time she was seen directly astern of us, and nearly two miles distant! Such had been our gain, that ten minutes longer would have carried us clear. As we now saw her, I felt certain she would soon see us, eyes being on the look-out on board her, beyond a question. Nevertheless, the cruiser was still on a bow-line, standing on the course on which we had been last seen.

This lasted but a moment, however. Presently the Englishman's bow fell off, and by the time he was dead before the wind, we could see his studding-sails flapping in the air, as they were in the act of being distended, by means of halyards, tacks and sheets, all going at once. The mist shut in the ship again before all this could be executed. What was to be done next? Marble said, as we were not on our precise course, it might serve a good turn to bring the wind on our starboard quarter, set all the studding-sails we could carry on the same side, and run off east-north-east: I inclined to this opinion, and the necessary changes were made forthwith. The wind and mist increased, and away we went, on a diverging line from the course of the Englishman, at the rate of quite ten knots in the hour. This lasted fully forty minutes, and all hands of us fancied we had at last given the cruiser the slip. Jokes and chuckling flew about among the men, as usual, and everybody began to feel as happy as success could make us, when the dark veil lifted at the south-west; the sun was seen struggling through the clouds, the vapour dispersed, and gradually the whole curtain which had concealed the ocean throughout that morning arose, extending the view around the ship, little by little, until nothing limited it but the natural horizon.

The anxiety with which we watched this slow rising of the curtain need scarcely be described. Every eye was turned eagerly in the direction in which its owner expected to find the frigate, and great was our satisfaction as mile after mile opened in the circle around us, without bringing her beautiful proportions within its range. But this could not last for ever, there not being sufficient time to carry so large a vessel over the curvature of the ocean's surface. As usual, Marble saw her first. She had fairly passed to leeward of us, and was quite two leagues distant, driving ahead with the speed of a race-horse. With a clear horizon, an open ocean, a stiff breeze, and hours of daylight, it was hopeless to attempt escape from as fast a vessel as the stranger, and I now determined to put the Dawn on her true course, and trust altogether to the goodness of my cause: heels being out of the question. The reader who will do me the favour to peruse the succeeding chapter, will learn the result of this resolution.

Chapter XIII.

"Whom have we here? Buckingham, to disturb
The King hath sent him, sure: I must dissemble."

King Henry VI.

At first, the frigate took single reefs in her top-sails, set topgallant-sails over them, and hauled up on taut bow-lines. But seeing no signs of our studding-sails coming down, she shook out her reefs, squared her yards, set top-mast studding-sails, and kept off to a course that would be certain to intercept us. She was up on our line of sailing some little time before we got down to her, and she kept standing off and on, hauling up her courses, and furling her topgallant-sails and hauling down all of her light sails, the jib excepted As for the Dawn, she kept steadily on, carrying everything she could bear. We had top-mast and lower studding-sails, and not a tack or sheet had been touched when we got within a quarter of a mile of the frigate. The Englishman now showed his colours, when we let him see the stars and stripes. Still no sail was touched on board us. As if surprised at our obstinacy, John Bull let fly a chase-gun, taking good care not to send the shot very near us. I thought it time, now, to shorten sail and to pretend to see him. We began to haul down our studding-sails, merchant-fashion, and were fairly alongside of the frigate before even this preliminary step to heaving-to was effected. As we approached, the frigate bore up, and ran off in company with us, keeping a hundred fathoms distance from us, and watching us closely. At this instant, I ordered the topgallant-sails settled on the caps, as a sign we intended to let him board us.

At length, having reduced the sail to the three top-sails, reefed, I hove-to the Dawn, and waited for a visit from the Englishman's boat. As soon as the frigate saw us fairly motionless, she shot up on our weather quarter, half a cable's length distant, swung her long, saucy-looking yards, and lay-to herself. At the same instant her lee-quarter boat dropped into the water, with the crew in it, a boy of a mid-shipman scrambled down the ship's side and entered it also, a lieutenant followed, when away the cockle of a thing swept on the crest of a sea, and was soon pulling round under our stern. I stood on the lee quarter, examining my visiters, as they struggled against the swell, in order to get a boat-hook into our main chains. The men were like any other man-of-war's men, neat, sturdy, and submissive in air. The reefer was a well-dressed boy, evidently a gentleman's son; but the lieutenant was one of those old weather-beaten sea-dogs, who are seldom employed in boats, unless something more than common is to be done. He was a man of forty, hard-featured, pock-marked, red-faced, and scowling. I afterwards ascertained he was the son of some underling about the Portsmouth dock-yard, who had worked his way up to a lieutenancy, and owed his advancement principally to his readiness in impressing seamen. His name was Sennit.

We threw Mr. Sennit a rope, as a matter of course, and Marble met him at the gangway with the usual civilities. I was amused with the meeting between these men, who had strictly that analogy to each other which is well described as "diamond cut diamond." Each was dogmatical, positive, and full of nautical conceit, in his own fashion; and each hated the other's country as heartily as man could hate, while both despised Frenchmen. But Sennit knew a mate from a master, at a glance; and, without noticing Marble's sea-bow, a slight for which Marble did not soon forgive him, he walked directly aft to me, not well pleased, as I thought, that a ship-master had neglected to be at the gangway to meet a sea lieutenant.

"Your servant, sir," commenced Mr. Sennit, condescending to notice my bow; "your servant, sir; I suppose we owe the pleasure of your company, just now, to the circumstance of the weather's clearing."

This sounded hostile from the go off; and I was determined to give as good as I received.

"Quite likely, sir," was my answer, uttered as coolly as I could speak--"I do not think you got much the advantage, as long as there was thick weather."

"Ay, you 're a famous fellow at hide and go seek, and I do not doubt would make a long chase in a dark night. But his Majesty's ship, Speedy, is not to be dodged by a Yankee."

"So it would seem, sir, by your present success."

"Men seldom run away without there is a cause for it. It's my business to find out the reason why you have attempted it; so, sir, I will thank you for the name of your ship, to begin with?"

"The Dawn, of New York."

"Ay, full-blooded Yankee--I knew you were New England, by your tricks."

"New York is not in New England; nor do we call a New York ship, a Yankee," put in Marble.

"Ay, ay--if one were to believe all you mates from the t' other side, say, he would soon fancy that King George held his throne by virtue of a commission from President Washington."

"President Washington is dead, Heaven bless him!" retorted Marble--"and if one were to believe half of what you English say, he would soon fancy that President Jefferson held his office as one of King George's waiting men."

I made a sign for Marble to be silent, and intimated to the lieutenant I was ready to answer any further inquiries he wished to make. Sennit did not proceed, however, without giving a significant look at the mate, which to me, seemed to say, "I have pressed a mate in my time."

"Well, sir, the Dawn, of New York," he continued, noting the name in his pocket-book--"How are you called yourself?"

"The Dawn, of New York, Miles Wallingford, master."

"Miles Wallingford, master. Where from, whither bound, and with what laden?"

"From New York; bound to Hamburg; cargo sugars, coffee, and cochineal."

"A very valuable cargo, sir," observed Mr. Sennit, a little drily. "I wish for your sake, it had been going to any other part of the world, as this last war has sent the French into that part of Germany, and Hamburg is suspected of being rather too much under Boney's influence."

"And were we bound to Bordeaux, sir, what power have you to stop a neutral, at this distance at sea?"

"If you put it on power, Mr. Wallingford, you depend on a crutch that will betray you. We have power enough to eat you, should that be necessary--I suppose you mean right."

"I shall not dispute with you, sir, about words."

"Well, to prove to you that I am as amicably disposed as yourself, I will say no more on the subject. With your permission, I will now examine your papers; and to show you that I feel myself among friends, I will first send my own boat back to the Speedy."

I was infinitely disgusted with this man's manner. It had the vulgar sort of witticism about even his air, that he so much affected in his speech; the whole being deformed by a species of sly malignancy, that rendered him as offensive as he seemed to me to be dangerous. I could not refuse to let a belligerent look at my papers, however, and went below to get them, while Sennit gave some private orders to his reefer, and sent him away to the frigate.

While on this subject, the reader must excuse an old man's propensity to gossip, if I say a word on the general question of the right of search. As for the pretence that was set up by some of the advocates of impressment out of neutral ships, which laid down the position, that the belligerent being on board in the exercise of an undoubted right to inquire into the character of the ship and cargo, he took with him the right to lay hands on all the subjects of his own sovereign he might happen to find there, it is not worthy of a serious reply. Because a man has a right to take the step preliminary to the discharge of an admitted power, as an incident of that power, it does not follow that he can make the incident a principle, and convert it into a justification of acts, unlawful in themselves. On this head, therefore, I shall say nothing, holding it to be beyond dispute among those who are competent to speak on the subject at all. But the abuse of that admitted power to board and ascertain the character of a ship, has created so lively a feeling in us Americans, as to induce us to forego some of the wholesome principles that are necessary to the well-being of all civilized nations. It is thus, in my judgment, that we have quite recently and erroneously laid down the doctrine that foreign vessels of war shall not board American ships on the coast of Africa, in a time of peace, in order to ascertain their character.

On this subject I intend to speak plainly. In the first place, I lay no claim to that spurious patriotism which says, "our country, right or wrong." This may do for the rabble; but it will not do for God, to whom our first and highest obligations are due. Neither country, nor man, can justify that which is wrong; and I conceive it to be wrong, in a political if not in a moral sense, to deny a vessel of war the privilege which England here claims. I can see but one plausible argument against it, and that is founded on the abuses which may arise from the practice. But it will not do to anticipate abuses in this instance, more than in any other. Every right, whether national or international, may be abused in its exercise; and the argument, if good for anything, is as good against every other right of international law, as it is against this. Abuse, after it has occurred, might be a justifiable reason for suspending the exercise of an admitted right, until some remedies were applied to prevent their recurrence, but it can never be urged as a proper argument against the right itself. If abuses occur, we can get them remedied by proper representations; and, if these last fail, we have the usual appeal of nations. As well might it be said, the law of the land shall not be administered, because the sheriff's officers are guilty of abuses, as to say the law of nations shall cease because we apprehend that certain commercial rivalries may induce others to transcend them. When the wrong is done, it will be time enough to seek the remedy.

That it is the right of a vessel of war to ascertain the character of a ship at sea, is dependent on her right to arrest a pirate, for instance. In what manner can this be done, if a pirate can obtain impunity, by simply hoisting the flag of some other country, which the cruiser is obliged to respect? All that the latter asks is the power to ascertain if that flag is not an imposition; and this much every regularly commissioned public ship should be permitted to do, in the interests of civilization, and in maintenance of the police of the seas.

The argument on the other side goes the length of saying, that a public cruiser is in the situation of a sheriff's officer on shore, who is compelled to arrest his prisoner on his own responsibility. In the first place, it may be questioned if the dogma of the common law which asserts the privilege of the citizen to conceal his name, is worthy of a truly enlightened political freedom. It must not be forgotten that liberty first took the aspect of franchises, in which men sought protection from the abuses of power in any manner they could, and often without regarding the justness of the general principles with which they were connected; confusion in these principles arising as a consequence. But, admitting the dogma of the common law to be as inherently wise, as it is confessedly a practice, there is no parallel in the necessity of the case of an arrest on shore and of an arrest at sea. In the former instance the officer may apply to witnesses;--he has the man before him, and compares him with the description of the criminal; and, should he make an erroneous arrest, under misleading circumstances, his punishment would be merely nominal--in many cases, nothing. But the common law, whilst it gives the subject this protection, does not deny the right of the officer to arrest. It only punishes the abuse of this power, and that is precisely what nations ought to do, in a case of the abuse of the right to examine a merchantman.

The vessel of war cannot apply to witnesses, and cannot judge of national character by mere external appearances, since an American-built ship can be sailed by Portuguese. The actual necessities of the case are in favour of the present English claim, as well as that great governing principle, which says that no great or principal right can exist, in international law, without carrying with it all the subordinate privileges which are necessary to its discreet exercise.

Thus much I could not refrain from saying, not that I think John Bull is very often right in his controversies with ourselves, but because I think, in this case, he is; and because I believe it far safer, in the long run, for a nation, or an individual, to have justice on his side, than always to carry his point.

I was soon on deck, carrying my writing-desk under my arm, Mr. Sennit preferring to make his examination in the open air, to making it below. He read the clearance and manifest with great attention. Afterwards he asked for the shipping articles. I could see that he examined the names of the crew with eagerness, for the man was in his element when adding a new hand to his frigate's crew.

"Let me see this Nebuchadnezzar Clawbonny, Mr. Wallingford," he said, chuckling. "The name has an alias in its very absurdity, and I doubt not I shall see a countryman--perhaps a townsman."

"By turning your head, sir, you can easily see the man. He is at the wheel."

"A black!--umph--yes; those fellows do sometimes sail under droll titles. I do not think the lad was born at Gosport."

"He was born in my father's house, sir, and is my slave."

"Slave! A pretty word in the mouth of a free and independent son of liberty, Mr. Wallingford. It is lucky you are not bound to that land of despotism, old England, or you might see the fetters fall from about the chap's limbs."

I was nettled, for I felt there was some justice in this sarcasm, and this, too, at the very moment I felt it was only half-merited: and not at all, perhaps, from an Englishman. But Sennit knew as much of the history of my country as he did of his own, having obtained all he had learned of either out of newspapers. Nevertheless, I succeeded in keeping silent.

"Nathan Hitchcock; this chap has a suspiciously Yankee name; will you let me see him, sir," observed the lieutenant.

"The chap's name, then, does him no more than justice, for I believe he is strictly what we call a Yankee."

Nathan came aft at the call of the second-mate, and Sennit no sooner saw him than he told him to go forward again. It was easy to see that the man was perfectly able to distinguish, by means of the eye alone, between the people of the two countries, though the eye would sometimes deceive even the most practised judges. As the Speedy was not much in want of men, he was disposed not to lay his hands on any but his own countrymen.

"I shall have to ask you, sir, to muster all your people in the gangway," said Sennit, rising, as he passed me the ship's papers. "I am only a supernumerary of the Speedy, and I expect we shall soon have the pleasure of seeing her first on board, the Honourable Mr. Powlett. We are a nob ship, having Lord Harry Dermond for our captain, and lots of younger sons in the cock-pit."

I cared little who commanded or officered the Speedy, but I felt all the degradation of submitting to have my crew mustered by a foreign officer, and this, too, with the avowed object of carrying away such portions of them as he might see fit to decide were British subjects. In my judgment it would have been much more creditable and much wiser for the young Hercules to have made an effort to use his club, in resisting such an offensive and unjustifiable assumption of power, than to be setting up doubtful claims to establish principles of public law that will render the exercise of some of the most useful of all international rights perfectly nugatory. I felt a disposition to refuse compliance with Sennit's request, and did the result only affect myself I think I should have done so; but, conscious that my men would be the sufferers, I thought it more prudent to comply. Accordingly, all the Dawn's people were ordered to muster near the quarter-deck.

While I endeavour to do justice to principles, I wish to do no injustice to Sennit. To own the truth, this man picked out the Englishman and Irishman as soon as each had answered his first questions. They were ordered to get their things ready to go on hoard the Speedy, and I was coolly directed to pay them any wages that might be due. Marble was standing near when this command was given; and seeing disgust, most likely, in my countenance, he took on himself the office of replying:

"You think accounts should be balanced, then, before these men quit the ship?" he asked, significantly.

"I do, sir; and it's my duty to see it done. I will thank you to attend to it at once," returned the lieutenant.

"Well, sir, that being the case, we shall be receivers, instead of payers. By looking at the shipping articles, you will see that each of these men received fifty dollars, or two months' advance," [seamen's wages were as high, frequently, in that day, as twenty or thirty dollars;] "and quite half of the 'dead-horse' remains to be worked out. We will, therefore, thank His Majesty to pay us the odd twenty-five dollars for each of the men."

"What countryman are you?" demanded the lieutenant, with a menacing look. "Cornish, by your impudence: have a care, sir; I have carried off mates, before now, in my day."

"I came from the land of tombstones, which is an advantage; as I know the road we all must travel, sooner or later. My name is Marble, at your service; and there's a hard natur' under it, as you'll find on trial."

Just at this moment, the frigate's boat came round her stern, carrying the Hon. Mr. Powlett, or the gentleman whom Sennit had announced as her first-lieutenant. I thought the rising anger of the last was a little subdued by the appearance of his senior officers: social position and private rank making even a greater difference between the two, than mere date of commission. Sennit suppressed his wrath, therefore; though I make no doubt the resentment he felt at the contumelious manner of my mate, had no little influence on what subsequently occurred. As things were, he waited, before he proceeded any further, for the Speedy's boat to come alongside.

Mr. Powlett turned out to be a very different sort of person from his brother lieutenant. There was no mistaking him for anything but a gentleman, or for a sailor. Beyond a question, he owed his rank in his ship to family influence, and he was one of those scions of aristocracy (by no means the rule, however, among the high-born of England) who never was fit for anything but a carpet-knight, though trained to the seas. As I afterwards learned, his father held high ministerial rank; a circumstance that accounted for his being the first-lieutenant of a six-and-thirty, at twenty, with a supernumerary lieutenant under him who had been a sailor some years before he was born. But, the captain of the Speedy, himself, Lord Harry Dermond, was only four-and-twenty; though he had commanded his ship two years, and fought one very creditable action in her.

After making my best bow to Mr. Powlett, and receiving a very gentleman-like salutation in return, Sennit led his brother officer aside, and they had a private conference of some little length together.

"I shall not meddle with the crew, Sennit," I overheard Powlett say, in a sort of complaining tone, as he walked away from his companion. "Really, I cannot become the master of a press-gang, though the Speedy had to be worked by her officers. You are used to this business, and I leave it all to you."

I understood this to be a carte blanche to Sennit to carry off as many of my people as he saw fit; there being nothing novel or surprising in men's tolerating in others, acts they would disdain to perform in person. As soon as he left his junior in rank, the youthful first-lieutenant approached me. I call him youthful, for he appeared even younger than he was, though I myself had commanded a ship when only of his own age. It was easy to see that this young man felt he was employed on an affair of some importance.

"It is reported to us, on board the Speedy, sir," the Hon. Mr. Pewlett commenced, "that you are bound to Hamburg?"

"To Hamburg, sir, as my papers will show."

"Our government regards all trade with that part of the continent with great distrust, particularly since the late movements of the French. I really wish, sir, you had not been bound to Hamburg."

"I believe Hamburg is still a neutral port, sir; and, if it were not, I do not see why an American should not enter it, until actually blockaded."

"Ah! these are some of your very peculiar American ideas on such subjects! I cannot agree with you, however, it being my duty to obey my orders. Lord Harry has desired us to be very rigorous in our examination, and I trust you will understand we must comply, however unpleasant it may be, sir. I understand, now, sugar and coffee are exceedingly suspicious!"

"They are very innocent things rightly used, as I hope mine will be."

"Have you any particular interest in the cargo, Captain Wallingford?"

"Only that of owner, sir. Both ship and cargo are my own private property."

"And you seem to be English, or American--for, I confess myself unable to tell the difference between the people of the two countries, though I dare say there is a very great difference."

"I am an American by birth, as have been my ancestors for generations."

"I declare that is remarkable! Well, I can see no difference. But, if you are American, I do not see why the sugar and coffee are not American, too. Lord Harry, however, desired us to be very particular about these things, for some reason or other. Do you happen to know, now, where this sugar grew?"

"The canes of which it was made grew, I believe, in St. Domingo."

"St. Domingo!--Is not that a French Island?"

"Certainly, in part, sir; though the Spaniards and the negroes dispute the possession with the French."

"I declare I must send Lord Harry word of this! I am exceedingly sorry, Captain Wallingford, to detain your ship, but my duty requires me to send a young gentleman on board the Speedy for orders."

As I could urge no plausible objection, the young gentleman was again sent back to the frigate. In the mean time, Sennit had not been idle. Among my crew were a Swede and a Prussian, and both these men having acquired their English in London or Liverpool, he affected to believe they were natives of the old island, ordering them to get their dunnage ready to go under the pennant. Neither of the men, however, was disposed to obey him, and when I joined the group, leaving the Hon. Mr. Powlett waiting the return of his boat, on the quarter-deck, I found the three in a warm discussion on the subject.

"I'll tell you what it is, Mr. Wallingford," Sennit cried, as I approached, "we will compromise matters. Here are two fellows who are Lancashire men, if the truth were known, that pretend to be Norwegians, or Fins, or to come from some other outlandish country or other, and I wish to place them under His Majesty's pennant, where they properly belong; as they are so reluctant to receive this honour, I will consent to take that fine-looking Kentish man, who is worth them both put together."

As this was said, Sennit pointed to Tom Voorhees, an athletic, handsome young North River man, of Dutch extraction, a fellow who had not a drop of English blood in his veins, and the ablest-bodied and the best seaman in the Dawn; a fact that the lieutenant's nautical tact had not been slow to detect.

"You are asking me to let you have a man who was born within ten miles of myself," I answered, "and whose family I know to be American, for near two centuries."

"Ay, ay; you're all of old families in America, as everybody knows. The chap is English born, for a hundred guineas; and I could name a spot in Kent, not ten miles distant from that where he first saw the light. I do not say, however, you were not his neighbour--for you have a Dover look, yourself."

"You might be less disposed to pleasantry, sir, were this a thirty-six, or were you and I on shore."

Sennit gave me a disdainful look, and terminated the affair by ordering Voorhees to get his chest ready, and to join the two other men he had pressed. Taking example, however, from the Swede and the Prussian, Voorhees walked away, using no measures to obey. As for myself, thoroughly disgusted with this man, a vulgar rogue, I walked aft to the other lieutenant, who was only a gentleman-like dunce.

Mr. Powlett now began to converse of London; and he told me how often he had been at the opera when last in town,--and remarked what an exceedingly delightful fête champêtre was lady somebody's entertainment of that sort. This occupied us until the boat returned, with a very civil request from the captain of the Speedy, that I would do him the favour to pay him a visit, bringing with me the ship's papers. As this was what no belligerent had a right to demand, though privateersmen constantly did it, I could comply or not. Fancying it might expedite matters, regarding the civility of the request as a good omen, and feeling a desire to deal with principals, in an affair that was very needlessly getting to be serious, I consented to go. Marble was called, and formally told to take charge of the ship. I could see a smile of contempt on Sennit's face, at this little ceremony, though he made no objection in terms. I had expected that the first-lieutenant would go to the frigate with me, but, after a short consultation with his junior, the last was deputed to do me this honour.

Sennit now appeared disposed to show me every slight and indignity it was in his power to manifest. Like all vulgar-minded men, he could not refrain from maltreating those whom he designed to injure. He made me precede him into the boat, and went up the Speedy's side first, himself, on reaching that vessel. His captain's conduct was very different. Lord Harry was not a very noble looking personage, as your worshippers of rank imagine nobility to appear, but he was decidedly well-mannered; and it was easy enough to see he commanded his own ship, and was admirably fitted so to do. I have had occasion to learn that there is a vast deal of aristocratic and democratic cant, on the subject of the appearance, abilities, qualities and conduct of Europeans of birth and station. In the first place, nature has made them very much as she makes other people; and the only physical difference there is proceeds from habit and education. Then, as to the enervating effects of aristocracy, and noble effeminacy, I have seen ten times as much of it among your counter-jumpers and dealers in bob binet, as I have seen in the sons of dukes and princes; and, in my later days, circumstances have brought me much in contact with many of these last. Manliness of character is far more likely to be the concomitant of aristocratic birth, than of democratic, I am afraid; for, while those who enjoy the first feel themselves above popular opinion, those who possess the last bow to it, as the Asiatic slave bows to his master. I wish I could think otherwise; but experience has convinced me of these facts, and I have learned to feel the truth of an axiom that is getting to be somewhat familiar among ourselves, viz.--"that it takes an aristocrat to make a true democrat." Certain I am, that all the real, manly, independent democrats, I have ever known in America, have been accused of aristocracy, and this simply because they were disposed to carry out their principles, and not to let that imperious sovereign, "the neighbourhood," play the tyrant over them. As for personal merit, quite as fair a proportion of talent is found among the well-born as among the low; and he is but an ad captandum vulgus sort of a philosopher who holds the contrary doctrine. Talleyrand was of one of the most ancient and illustrious houses of Europe, as was Turenne; while Mansfield, Erskine, Grey, Wellington, and a host of Englishmen of mark of our time, come of noble blood. No--no--The cause of free institutions has much higher and much juster distinctions to boast of, than this imaginary superiority of the humbly born over those who come of ancient stock.

Lord Harry Dermond received me just as one of his station ought to receive one of mine; politely, without in the least compromising his own dignity. There was a good-natured smile on his face, of which, at first, I did not know what to make. He had a private conversation with Sennit, too; but the smile underwent no change. In the end, I came to the conclusion that it was habitual with him and meant nothing. But, though so much disposed to smile Lord Harry Dermond was equally disposed to listen to every suggestion of Sennit, that was likely to favour the main chance. Prize-money is certainly a great stain on the chivalry of all navies, but it is a stain with which the noble wishes to be as deeply dyed as the plebeian. Human nature is singularly homogeneous on the subject of money; and younger-son nature, in the lands of majorats and entails, enjoys a liveliness of longing on the subject, that is quite as conspicuous as the rapacity of the veriest plebeian who ever picked a pocket.

"I am very sorry, Captain Wallingford," Captain Lord Harry Dermond observed to me, when his private conference with Sennit was ended, and altogether superior to the weakness of Powlett, who would have discussed the point, "that it is my duty to send your ship into Plymouth. The French have got such an ascendency on the continent, that we are obliged to use every act of vigilance to counteract them: then, your cargo is of enemy's growth"."

"As for the ascendency, my lord, you will see we Americans have nothing to do with it; and my cargo, being necessarily of last year's crops, must have been grown and manufactured in a time of general peace. If it were not, I do not conceive it would legalize my capture."

"We must leave Sir William Scott to decide that, my good sir," answered the captain,'with his customary smile; "and there is no use in our discussing the matter. An unpleasant duty"--as if he thought the chance of putting two or three thousand pounds in his pocket, unpleasant!--"an unpleasant duty, however, need not be performed in a disagreeable manner. If you will point out what portion of your people you could wish to keep in your ship, it shall be attended to. Of course, you remain by your property your self; and I confess, whatever may be done with the cargo, I think the ship will be liberated. As the day is advancing, and it will require some little time to exchange the people, I should be exceedingly happy if you would do me the favour to lunch in my cabin."

This was gentlemanly conduct, if it were not lawful. I could foresee a plenty of evil consequences to myself in the delay, though I own I had no great apprehensions of a condemnation. There was my note to John Wallingford to meet, and two months' detention might keep me so long from home, as to put the payment at maturity quite out of the question. Then came the mortgage on Clawbonny, with its disquieting pictures; and I was in anything but a good humour to enjoy Lord Harry Dermond's hospitality. Still, I knew the uselessness of remonstrances, and the want of dignity there would be in repining, and succeeded in putting a good face on the matter. I simply requested that my chief mate, the cook, and Neb, might be left in the Dawn, submitting it to the discretion of my captors to take out of her as many of the remainder of her people as they saw fit. Lord Harry remarked it was not usual to leave a mate, but to oblige me, he would comply. The frigate would go in for water, in the course of a fortnight, when I might depend on having the entire crew, His Majesty's subjects excepted, restored to my command.

Chapter XIV.

1st Gent. What is my ransom, master? Let me know.
Mast. A thousand crowns, or else lay down your head.
Mate. And so much shall you give, or off goes yours.

King Henry VI.

I never saw a man more astounded, or better disposed to fly into a passion, than was the case with Mr. Moses Oloff Van Duzen Marble, when he was told that the Dawn was to be sent into England, for adjudication. Nothing kept his tongue within the bounds of moderation, and I am far from certain I might not add his fists, but my assurances he would be sent on board the Speedy, unless he behaved with prudence. As our people were sent out of the ship, I thought, several times, he would break out in open hostilities; and he did actually propose to me to knock Sennit down, and throw him overboard. With a significant look, I told him it was not time for this. The mate now laid a finger on his nose, winked, and from that moment he not only seemed cheerful, but he assisted in hoisting in and out the different articles that were exchanged, in shifting the crews.

When all was ready, it appeared that Sennit was to be our prize-master. Although a lieutenant in commission, he had only been lent to Lord Harry Dermond by the admiral, in order to fill up the crew of that favoured officer; the Speedy having her regular complement of lieutenants without him. As the cruise was so nearly up, and the ship had experienced great success in impressing since she sailed, Sennit could be spared; and, if the truth were said, I make no doubt his mess-mates in the frigate were glad to be rid of him, now they had no further occasion for his peculiar skill and services.

Mr. Sennit brought on board with him, as a prize-crew, ten foremast men, besides a master's-mate, of the name of Diggens. Under ordinary circumstances, this last dignitary would have been of sufficient skill to take the ship in: but this was the first prize Lord Harry had taken; she promised to be valuable if condemned; and I suppose he and his young, gentleman-like luffs were desirous of getting rid of their vulgar associate. At any rate, Messrs. Sennit and Diggens both came on board us, bag and baggage.

The various changes, the lunch, and the chase of the morning, had so far worn away the day, that the two vessels did not make sail until four o'clock, P.M., when both ships filled at the same time; the Speedy on a wind, with two reefs in her top-sails, as when first seen, to play about for more prizes, and the Dawn under studding-sails, with the wind nearly over the taffrail. When all was ready, each ship started away from the vacant point on the ocean, where they had been lying for hours, moving on diverging lines, at a rate that soon put a wide expanse of water between them.

I felt the circumstance of being left under the command of such a man as Sennit almost as sensibly as I felt the loss of my ship. He and the mate established themselves in my cabin, within the first hour, in a way that would have brought about an explosion, had not policy forbade it, on my part. Sennit even took possession of my state-room, in which he ordered his own cot to be swung, and from which he coolly directed my mattress to be removed. As the lockers were under locks and keys, I permitted him to take possession without a remonstrance. Diggens stowed his bedding in Marble's berth, leaving my mate and myself to shift for ourselves. At a suggestion from Marble, I affected great indignation at this treatment, directing Neb to clear away a place in the steerage, in which to live, and to swing hammocks there for Marble and myself. This movement had some effect on Sennit, who was anxious to get at the small-stores; all of which were under good locks, and locks that he did not dare violate, under an order from the admiralty. It was, therefore, of much importance to him to belong to my mess; and the necessity of doing something to appease my resentment became immediately apparent to him. He made some apologies for his cavalier conduct, justifying what he had done on the score of his rank and the usages of navies, and I thought it prudent to receive his excuses in a way to avoid an open rupture. Sennit was left in possession of the state-room, but I remained in the steerage; consenting, however, to mess in the cabin. This arrangement, which was altogether premeditated on my part, gave me many opportunities of consulting privately with Marble; and of making sundry preparations for profiting by the first occasion that should offer to re-take the ship. In that day, re-captures were of pretty frequent occurrence; and I no sooner understood the Dawn was to be sent in, than I began to reflect on the means of effecting my purpose. Marble had been kept in the ship by me, expressly with this object.

I suppose the reader to have a general idea of the position of the vessel, as well as of the circumstances in which she was placed. We were just three hundred and fifty-two miles to the southward and westward of Scilly, when I observed at meridian, and the wind blowing fresh from the south-south-west, there was no time to lose, did I meditate anything serious against the prize crew. The first occasion that presented to speak to my mate offered while we were busy together in the steerage, stowing away our effects, and in making such dispositions as we could to be comfortable.

"What think you, Moses, of this Mr. Sennit and his people?" I asked, in a low voice, leaning forward on a water-cask, in order to get my head nearer to that of the mate. "They do not look like first-rate man-of-war's-men; by activity and surprise, could we not handle them?"

Marble laid a finger on his nose, winked, looked as sagacious as he knew how, and then went to the steerage door, which communicated with the companion-way, to listen if all were safe in that quarter. Assured that there was no one near, he communicated his thoughts as follows:

"The same idee has been at work here," he said, tapping his forehead with a fore-finger, "and good may come of it This Mr. Sennit is a cunning chap, and will want good looking after, but his mate drinks like a coal-heaver; I can see that in his whole face; a top-lantern is not lighter. He must be handled by brandy. Then, a more awkward set of long-shore fellows were never sent to manage a square-rigged craft, than these which have been sent from the Speedy. They must have given us the very sweepings of the hold."

"You know how it is with these dashing young man-of-war captains; they keep all their best materials for a fight. French frigates are tolerably plenty, they tell me, and this Lord Harry Dermond, much as he loves sugar and coffee, would like to fall in with a la Vigilante, or a la Diane, of equal force, far better. This is the secret of his giving Sennit such a set of raw ones. Besides, he supposes the Dawn will be at Plymouth in eight-and-forty hours, as will certainly be the case should this wind stand."

"The fellows are just so many London loafers. (I have always thought Marble had the merit of bringing this word into fashion.) There are but three seamen among them, and they are more fit for a hospital than for a lowyer-yard or a jib-boom."

There was a good deal of truth, blended with some exaggeration, mixed up with this statement of tire mate. As a matter of course, the captain of the Speedy had not sent away his best men, though they were not quite as bad as Marble, in his desire to overcome them, was disposed to fancy. It is true, there were but three of their number whom the quick, nautical instinct of the mate had recognised as real seamen, though all had been on board ship long enough to render them more or less useful.

"Whatever we do must be done at once," I rejoined. "We are four athletic men, to act against twelve. The odds are heavy, but we shall have the advantage of being picked men, and of attacking by surprise."

"I wish you had thought of asking to keep Voorhees in the ship, Miles; that fellow would be worth three ordinary men to us."

"I did think of it, but the request would never have been granted. One could ask for a cook, or a mate, or a servant like Neb, but to ask for an able seaman or two would have been to declare our object."

"I believe you're right, and we must be thankful for the good stuff we have, as it is. How far will the law bear us out in knocking men on the head in such an undertaking? It's peace for America, and we must steer clear of piracy!"

"I've thought of all that, Moses, and see no great cause of apprehension. A man has certainly a right to recover that by the strong hand which he lost by the strong hand. Should blood be spilt, which I hope to avert, the English courts might judge us harshly, while the American would acquit us. The law would be the same in both cases, though its administration would be very different. I am ready to cast my own fortune on the issue, and I wish no man to join me who will not do so, heart and hand. I see no reason to suppose it will be necessary to take life, to which I have as strong reluctance as you can have yourself."

"There's my hand!" exclaimed Marble, "and as for its owner's heart, you well know where that is to be found, Miles. Enough has been said for a beginning. We will look about us this afternoon, and talk further after supper."

"Good. Do you say a word to Billings, the cook, and I will open the matter to Neb. Of the last we are certain, but it may be well to make some promises to your man."

"Leave that to me, Miles. I know my chap, and will deal with him as I would with an owner."

Marble and myself now separated, and I went on deck to observe how things promised in that quarter. By this time, the Speedy's top-sails were beginning to dip, and the Dawn was driving forward on her course, with everything drawing that she could carry. All the English were on deck, Sennit included. The last gave me a sufficiently civil salute as I put my foot on the quarter-deck, but I avoided falling into any discourse with him. My cue was to note the men, and to ascertain all I could concerning their distribution during the approaching night. Diggens, I could see, was a red-faced fellow who probably had lost his promotion through love of the bottle, though, as often happens with such persons, a prime seaman and a thorough man-of-war's-man. Of him, I thought I could make sure by means of brandy. Sennit struck me as being a much more difficult subject to get along with. There were signs of cogniac about his face too, but he had more rank, more at stake, and brighter hopes than the master's-mate. Then he was evidently better practised in the ways of the world than his companion, and had constantly a sort of uneasy vigilance about his eye and manner that gave me no little concern.

It was my wish to strike a blow, if possible, that very night, every minute carrying us fast towards the chops of the channel, where the English had so many cruisers in general, as to render ultimate escape next to impossible, should we even be so lucky as to regain command of our own ship. I was afraid, moreover, Sennit might take it into his head to have all hands all night, under the pretext of drawing in with the land. Should he actually adopt this course, our case was nearly hopeless.

"Your mate seems to love the cupboard, Mr. Wallingford," Sennit remarked to me, in a good-natured manner, with an evident wish to establish still more amicable relations between us than had yet existed; "he has been in and about that galley these ten minutes, fidgeting with his tin-pot, like a raw hand who misses his mother's tea!"

Sennit laughed at his own humour, and I could hardly answer with a smile, for I knew my mate had adopted this experiment to open communications with the cook.

"Mr. Marble is famous for his love of slops," I answered, evasively.

"Well, he does not look it. I have seldom seen a more thorough-looking sea-dog than your mate, Captain Wallingford,"--this was the first time Sennit had dignified me with this title,--"and I took a fancy to him on that account, as soon as I saw him. You will do me the favour to sup with us in the cabin, I hope, for I see signs at the galley that it will soon be ready?"

"I shall expect to join your mess, sir, now explanations have passed between us. I suppose my mate is to be one of my party, as well as yours?"

"Certainly. I shall ask the favour of you to let Mr. Marble relieve Diggens, for half an hour or so, while the poor fellow gets a bite. We'll do as much for you another time."

This was said in a dry, laughing, sort of a way, which showed that Mr. Sennit was fully aware he was making a request a little out of rule, to ask a man to aid in carrying his own ship into port, as a prize; but I took it, as it was meant, for a rough joke that had convenience at the bottom.

It was not long ere Neb came to announce that supper was ready. Sennit had made but an indifferent dinner, it would seem, and he appeared every way disposed to take his revenge on the present occasion. Calling out to me to follow, he led the way, cheerfully, into the cabin, professing great satisfaction at finding we were to make but one mess of it. Strictly speaking, a prize crew, under circumstances like those in which the Dawn was now placed, had no right to consume any portion of the vessel's own stores, condemnation being indispensable to legalize Lord Harry Dermond's course, even according to the laws of his own country. But I had ordered Neb to be liberal with my means, and a very respectable entertainment was spread before our eyes, when we reached the cabin. Sennit was soon hard at work; but, under pretence of looking for some better sugar than had been placed on the table, I got three bottles of brandy privately into Neb's hands, whispering him to give one to the master's-mate on deck, and the other two to the crew. I knew there were too many motives for such a bribe, connected with our treatment, the care of our private property, and other things of that nature, to feel any apprehension that the true object of this liberality would be suspected by those who were to reap its advantages.

Sennit, Marble, and myself, sate quite an hour at table. The former drank freely of wine; though he declined having anything to do with the brandy. As he had taken two or three glasses of the rejected liquor in my presence before the two ships parted, I was convinced his present forbearance proceeded from a consciousness of the delicate circumstances in which he was placed, and I became rather more wary in my own movements. At length the lieutenant said something about the "poor devil on deck," and Marble was sent up, to look out for the ship, while Diggens came below to eat. The instant the master's-mate appeared, I could see the brandy had been doing its work on him, and I was fearful his superior might notice it. He did not, however, being too well pleased with the Madeira I had set before him, to trouble himself about a few drams, more or less, that might have fallen to the share of his subordinate.

At length this memorable supper, like everything else of earth, came to an end, and all of us went on deck in a body: leaving Neb and the cook to clear away the fragments. It was now night, though a soft star-light was diffused over the surface of the rolling water. The wind had moderated a little, and the darkness promised to pass without any extra labour to the people, several of the studding-sails having been taken in by Diggens' orders, when he first went below.

When seamen first come on deck at sea, there is usually a pause in the discourse, while each notes the weather, the situation of the ship, and the signs of the hour. Sennit and myself did this, almost as a matter of course, separating, in order that each might make his observations at leisure. As for Marble, he gave up the command of the deck to Diggens, walking forward by himself. Neb and the cook were keeping up the customary clattering with plates, knives, and forks.

"Have the people had their suppers yet, Mr. Diggens?" demanded the lieutenant.

"Not yet, sir. We have no cook of our own, you know, sir, and so have been obliged to wait, sir."

"The King's men wait for nobody. Order that black fellow to let them have their suppers at once; while that is doing, we'll tell off the watches for the night."

Diggens was evidently getting more and more under the influence of brandy, keeping the bottle hid somewhere near him, by which means he took frequent draughts unperceived. He gave the necessary orders, notwithstanding; and presently the men were mustered aft, to be told off into the two watches that were required for the service of the ship. This was soon done. Sennit choosing five, and Diggens his five.

"It's past eight o'clock," said Sennit, when the selections were made. "Go below the watch, and all but the man at the wheel of the watch on deck can go below to the lights, to eat. Bear a hand with your suppers, my lads; this is too big a craft to be left without look-outs forward, though I dare say the Yankees will lend us a hand while you are swallowing a mouthful?"

"To be sure we will, sir," cried Marble, who had come to the gangway to witness the proceedings. "Here, you Neb--come out of that galley and play forecastle-man, while John Bull gets his supper. He's always cross when he's hungry, and we'll feed him well to make a good neighbourhood."

This caused some who heard it to laugh, and others to swear and mutter. Every one, nevertheless, appeared willing to profit by the arrangement, the Englishmen being soon below, hard at work around the kids. It now struck me that Marble intended to clap the forecastle-hatch down suddenly, and make a rush upon the prize officers and the man at the wheel. Leaving one hand to secure the scuttle, we should have been just a man apiece for those on deck; and I make no doubt the project would have succeeded, had it been attempted in that mode. I was, by nature, a stronger man than Sennit, besides being younger and in my prime; while Diggens would not have been more than a child in Marble's hands. As for the man at the wheel, Neb could have thrown him half-way up to the mizen-top, on an emergency. But it seemed that my mate had a deeper project in view; nor was the other absolutely certain, as I afterwards learned, one of the Englishmen soon coming out of the forecastle, to eat on deck, quite likely aware that there might be some risk in letting all hands remain below.

It was now sufficiently dark for our purposes, and I began to reflect seriously on the best mode of proceeding, when, all at once, a heavy splash in the water was heard, and Marble was heard shouting, "Man overboard!"

Sennit and I ran to the lee main-rigging, where we just got a glimpse of the hat of the poor fellow, who seemed to be swimming manfully, as the ship foamed past him.

"Starboard, your helm!" shouted Marble.--"Starboard, your helm! Come to these fore-braces, Neb--bear a hand this a-way, you cook. Captain Wallingford, please lend us a pull. Look out for the boat, Mr. Sennit; we'll take care of the head-yards."

Now all this had been regularly concocted in the mate's mind in advance. By these means he not only managed to get all our people together, but he got them away from the boat. The whole was done so naturally, as to prevent the smallest suspicion of any design. To do Sennit justice, I must acknowledge that he behaved himself particularly well on this sudden appeal to his activity and decision. The loss of a man was, to him, a matter of deep moment; all his habits and propensities inclining him to be solicitous about the manning of ships. A man saved was as good as a man impressed; and he was the first person in the boat. By the time the ship had lost her way, the boat was ready; and I heard Sennit call out the order to lower. As for us Americans, we had our hands full, to get the head-yards braced up in time, and to settle away the top-gallant halyards, aft, in order to save the spars. In two minutes, however, the Dawn resembled a steed that had suddenly thrown his rider, diverging from his course, and shooting athwart the field at right angles to his former track, scenting and snuffing the air. Forward all was full, but the after-yard having been square from the first, their sails lay aback, and the ship was slowly forging ahead, with the seas slapping against her bows, as if the last were admonishing her to stop.

I now walked aft to the taffrail, in order to make certain of the state of things. Just as I reached the stern, Sennit was encouraging the men to "give way" with the oar. I saw that he had six of his people with him, and no doubt six of his best men--the boldest and most active being always the most forward on such occasions. There was no time to be lost; and I turned to look for Marble. He was at my elbow, having sought me with the same object. We walked away from the man at the wheel together, to get out of ear-shot.

"Now's your time, Miles," the mate muttered, slipping one of my own pistols into my hands, as he spoke.--"That master's-mate is as muzzy as a tapster at midnight, and I can make him do what I please. Neb has his orders, and the cook is ready and willing. You have only to say the word, to begin."

"There seems little necessity for bloodshed," I answered "If you have the other pistol, do not use it unnecessarily; we may want it for the boat----"

"Boat!" interrupted Marble. "What more have we to do with the boat? No--no--Miles; let this Mr. Sennit go to England where he belongs. Now, see how I'll manage Diggens," he added; "I want to get a luff purchase up out of the forecastle;--will you just order two or three of your fellows forward, to go down and pass it up for me?"

"D'ye hear there, forward," called out Diggens, with a very thick tongue.--"Tumble down into that forecastle, three or four of you, and pass up the tackle for Mr. Marble."

Now, there were but three of the Englishmen left in the ship, exclusively of the master's-mate himself, and the man at the wheel. This order, consequently, sent all three immediately into the forecastle. Marble coolly drew over the hatch, secured it, ordered the cook to keep a general look-out forward, and walking aft, as if nothing occurred, said in his quiet way--

"The ship's yours, again, Captain Wallingford."

"Mr. Diggens," I said, approaching the master's-mate, "as I have a necessity for this vessel, which is my property, if you please, sir, I'll now take charge of her in person. You had better go below, and make yourself comfortable; there is good brandy to be had for the asking, and you may pass an agreeable evening, and turn in whenever it suits you."

Diggens was a sot and a fool, but he did not want for pluck. His first disposition was to give battle, beginning to call out for his men to come to his assistance, but I put an end to this, by seizing him by the collar, and dropping him, a little unceremoniously, down the companion-way. Half an hour later, he was dead drunk, and snoring on the cabin floor.

There remained only the man at the wheel to overcome He was a seaman, of course, and one of those quiet, orderly men, who usually submit to the powers that be. Approaching him, I said--

"You see how it is, my lad; the ship has again changed owners. As for you, you shall be treated as you behave. Stand to the wheel, and you'll get good treatment and plenty of grog, but, by becoming fractious, you'll find yourself in irons before you know where you are."

"Ay--ay, sir--" answered the man, touching his hat, and contenting himself with this brief and customary reply.

"Now, Mr. Marble," I continued, "it is time to have an eye on the boat, which will soon find the man, or give him up. I own, that I wish we had recovered the ship without tossing the poor fellow overboard."

"Fellow overboard!" cried Marble, laughing--"I'd ha' thrown all England into the sea had it been necessary and in my power, but it wasn't necessary to throw overboard so much as a child. The chap they're arter is nothing but one of the fenders, with the deep sea lashed to its smaller end, and a tarpaulin stopped on the larger! Mr. Sennit need be in no great hurry, for I'll engage his 'man overboard' will float as long as his yawl!"

The whole of Marble's expedient was thus explained, and I confess I was much relieved by a knowledge of the truth. Apart from the general relief that accompanied the consciousness of not having taken human life, should we again fall into English hands, a thing by no means improbable, in the situation in which we were placed, this circumstance might be of the last importance to us. In the mean time, however, I had to look to the boat and the ship.

The first thing we did was to clew up the three top-gallant-sails. This gave us a much easier command of the vessel, short-handed as we were, and it rendered it less hazardous to the spars to keep the Dawn on a wind. When this was done, I ordered the after-braces manned, and the leaches brought as near as possible to touching. It was time; for the oars were heard, and then I got a view of the boat as it came glancing down on our weather quarter. I instantly gave the order to fill the after sails, and to keep the ship full and by. The braces were manned, as well as they could be, by Marble, Neb and the cook, while I kept an eye on the boat, with an occasional glance at the man at the wheel.

"Boat ahoy!" I hailed, as soon as the lieutenant got near enough for conversation.

"Ay, boat ahoy!" sure enough, growled Sennit; "some gentleman's back will pay for this trick. The 'man overboard' is nothing but a d----d paddy made out of a fender with a tarpaulin truck! I suspect your mate of this, Mr. Wallingford."

"My mate owns the offence, sir; it was committed to get you out of the ship, while we took charge of her, again. The Dawn is under my orders once more, Mr. Sennit; and before I permit you to come on board her, again, we must have an understanding on the subject."

A long, meaning, whistle, with a muttered oath or two, satisfied me that the lieutenant had not the slightest suspicion of the truth, until it was thus abruptly announced to him. By this time the boat was under our stern, where she was brought in order to be hooked on, the men intending to come up by the tackles. For this, I cared not, however, it being an easy matter for me, standing on the taffrail, to knock any one on the head, who should attempt to board us, in that fashion. By way of additional security, however, Neb was called to the wheel, Marble taking the English sailor forward to help haul the bow-lines, and trim the yards. The ship beginning to gather way, too, I threw Sennit the end of a lower-studding-sail halyards, that were brought aft for the purpose, ordered his bowman to let go his hold of the tackle, and dropped the boat a safe towing distance astern. Neb being ordered to keep the weather leaches touching, just way enough was got on the ship to carry out the whole of this plan, without risk to anybody.

"You'll not think of leaving us out here, on the Atlantic, Mr. Wallingford, five hundred miles from the Land's End," Sennit at length called out, time having been taken to chew the cud of reflection.

"That's as you behave, sir. I wish you no harm personally, Mr. Sennit, though I much wish my own ship. The night promises to be good and the wind is moderating, so that the boat will be perfectly safe. I will have you hauled up, and we will throw you a spare sail for a covering, and you will have the consolation of knowing that we shall have to keep watch, while you are sleeping."

"Ay, sir, I understand it all; Job's comfort that will be. As I do not suppose you are to be coaxed out of the advantage you have obtained, we have no choice but compliance. Give us some food and water in addition, and, for God's sake! don't cast us adrift in this boat, so far from land."

I gave Sennit an assurance that we would take care of him, and orders were issued to comply with his wishes. We passed the sail into the boat, and lowered a bread-bag, a kid full of beef and pork, and a breaker of fresh water. I took all these precautions the more readily, as I did not know but we might be compelled to cast the boat adrift, and one would not wish to resort to such a step, without desiring to leave his crew the best possible chance for their lives. I will do Marble the justice to say, he was active in making these arrangements, though, had the question of destroying the entire prize-crew presented itself, on one side, and that of losing the ship on the other, he would not have hesitated about sinking Great Britain itself, were it possible to achieve the last. I was more human, and felt exceedingly relieved when I again found myself in command of the Dawn, after an interregnum of less than ten hours, without a drop of blood having been spilled.

As soon as everything required was passed into the boat, she was dropped astern, nearly to the whole length of the studding-sail halyards. This would make her tow more safely to both parties: to those in her, because there was less risk of the ship's dragging her under; and to ourselves, because it removed all danger of the Englishmen's returning our favour, by effecting a surprise in their turn. At such a distance from the ship, there would always be time for us to rally and defeat any attempt to get alongside.

Chapter XV.

Capt. "And as for these whose ransome we have set,
It is our pleasure, one of them depart:--
Therefore come you with us, and let him go."

King Henry VI.

By such simple means, and without resistance, as it might be, did I recover the possession of my ship, the Dawn. But, now that the good vessel was in my power, it was by no means an easy thing to say what was to be done with her. We were just on the verge of the ground occupied by the channel cruisers, and it was preposterous to think of running the gauntlet among so many craft, with the expectation of escaping. It is true, we might fall in with twenty English man-of-war vessels, before we met with another Speedy, to seize us and order us into Plymouth, had everything been in order and in the usual state; but no cruiser would or could board us, and not demand the reasons why so large a ship should be navigated by so small a crew. It was over matters like these that Marble and I now consulted, no one being on the quarter-deck but the mate, who stood at the wheel, and myself. The cook was keeping a look-out on the forecastle. The Englishman had lain down, in full view, by my orders, at the foot of the main-mast; while Neb, ever ready to sleep when not on duty, was catching a nap on the booms.

"We have got the ship, Moses," I commenced, "and the question next arises, what we are to do with her?"

"Carry her to her port of destination, Captain Wallingford, to be sure. What else can we do with her, sir?"

"Ay, that is well enough, if it can be done. But, in addition to the difficulty of four men's taking care of a craft of five hundred tons, we have a sea before us that is covered with English cruisers."

"As for the four men, you may safely set us down as eight. I'll engage we do as much in a blow, as eight such fellows as are picked up now-a-days 'long shore. The men of the present time are mere children to those one met with in my youth, Miles!"

"Neither Neb, nor the cook, nor I, am a man of other times, but are all men of to-day; so you must call us but three, after all. I know we can do much; but a gale may come that would teach us our insignificance. As it is, we are barely able to furl the main-top-gallant-sail in a squall, leaving one hand at the wheel, and another to let go rigging. No, no, Moses; we must admit we are rather short-handed, putting the best face on the matter."

"If you generalize in that mode, Miles, my dear boy, I must allow that we are. We can go up channel, and ten chances to one but we fall in with some Yankee, who will lend us a hand or two."

"We shall be twice as likely to meet with King George's ships, who will overhaul our articles, and want to know what has become of the rest of our people."

"Then we'll tell 'em that the rest of the crew has been pressed; they know their own tricks too well, not to see the reasonableness of such an idee."

"No officer would leave a vessel of this size with only her master, mate, cook, and one man, to take care of her, even had he found a crew of deserters from his own ship in her. In such a case, and admitting a right to impress from a foreigner at all, it would be his duty to send a party to carry the craft into port. No, no, Moses--we must give all the English a wide berth, now, or they will walk us into Plymouth, yet."

"Blast the hole! I was in it, a prisoner, during the revvylushun, and never want to see its face ag'in. They've got what they call the Mill Prison there, and it's a mill that does grinding less to my taste, than the thing of your'n at Clawbonny. Why not go north-about, Miles? There must be few cruisers up that-a-way."

"The road is too long, the weather is apt to be too thick, and the coast is too dangerous for us, Moses. We have but two expedients to choose between--to turn our heads to the westward, and try to get home, trusting to luck to bring us up with some American who will help us, or steer due east and run for a French port--Bordeaux for instance--where we might either dispose of the cargo, or ship a new crew, and sail for our port of destination."

"Then try the last, by all means. With this wind, we might shove the ship in with the land in the course of two or three days, and go clear of everything! I like the idee, and think it can be carried out. Burdux is always full of Americans, and there must be men enough, to be had for the asking, knocking about the quays."

After a little further conversation, we determined on this plan, and set about carrying it into execution on the spot. In rounding-to, the ship had been brought by the wind on the larboard tack, and was standing to the northward and westward, instead of to the eastward, the course we now wished to steer. It was necessary, therefore, to ware round and get the ship's head in the right direction. This was not a difficult manoeuvre at all, and the Englishman helping us, with seeming good-will, it was soon successfully executed. When this was accomplished, I sent the English sailor into the cabin to keep Diggens company, and we set a watch on deck of two and two, Marble and myself taking charge four hours and four hours, in the old mode.

I acknowledge that I slept little that night. Two or three limes we detected Sennit attempting to haul close up under the ship's stern, out of all question with a view to surprise us, but as often would he drop to the length of his tow-rope, us he saw Marble's head, or mine, watching him above the taffrail. When the day dawned I was called, and was up and on the look-out as our horizon enlarged and brightened round the ship. The great object was to ascertain, as early as possible, what vessels might be in our neighbourhood.

But a solitary sail was visible. She appeared to be a ship of size, close-hauled, heading to the southward and eastward: by steering on our proper course, or certainly by diverging a little to the northward, it would be an easy matter to speak her. As I could plainly see she was not a ship of war, my plan was formed in a moment. On communicating it to Marble, it met with his entire approbation. Measures were taken, accordingly, to carry it into immediate execution.

In the first place, I ordered Sennit, who was awake, and had been, I believe, the whole night, to haul the boat up and to lay hold of one of the boat-tackles. This he did willingly enough, no doubt expecting that he was to be received into the ship, under a treaty. I stood on the look-out to prevent an attack, one man being abundantly able to keep at bay a dozen who could approach only by ascending a rope hand over hand, while Marble went below to look after the two worthies who had been snoring all night in the cabin. In a minute my mate reappeared, leading up the seaman, who was still more asleep than awake. This man was directed to lay hold of the tackle and slide down into the boat. There being no remedy, and descending being far easier than ascending, this exploit was soon performed, and we were well rid of one of our enemies. Sennit now began to remonstrate, and to point out the danger there was of being towed under, the ship going through the water the whole time at the rate of five or six knots. I knew, however, that the English were too skilful to run the risk of being drowned, unnecessarily, and that they would let go of the tackle before they would suffer the boat to be swamped. It was ticklish work, I allow; but they succeeded surprisingly well in taking care of themselves.

We had more difficulty with Diggens. This fellow had been so beastly drunk, that he scarce knew what he was about when awoke; and Marble rather dragged him on deck, and aft to the taffrail, than assisted him to walk. There we got him at last; and he was soon dangling by the tackle. So stupid and enervated was the master's mate, however, that he let go his hold, and went into the ocean. The souse did him good, I make no doubt; and his life was saved by his friends, one of the sailors catching him by the collar, and raising him into the boat.

Sennit availed himself of this accident, to make further remonstrances on the subject of having any more men put in the boat. It was easy to see, it was as much his policy to get everybody out of that little conveyance, as it was mine to get all the English into her.

"For God's sake, Captain Wallingford, knock off with this, if you please;" cried the lieutenant, with a most imploring sort of civility of manner.--"You see how it is; we can barely keep the boat from swamping, with the number we have in her; and a dozen times during the night I thought the ship would drag her under. Nothing can be easier than for you to secure us all, if you will let us come on board, one at a time."

"I do not wish to see you in irons, Mr. Sennit; and this will remove any necessity for resorting to an expedient so unpleasant. Hold on upon the tackle, therefore, as I shall feel obliged to cast you off entirely, unless you obey orders."

This threat had the desired effect. One by one, the men were let up out of the forecastle, and sent into the boat. Cooked meat, bread, rum and water, were supplied to the English; and, to be ready to meet any accident, we lowered them a compass, and Sennit's quadrant. We did the last at his own earnest request, for he seemed to suspect we intended sending him adrift, as indeed was my plan, at the proper moment.

Although the boat had now twelve men in her, she was in no danger, being a stout, buoyant six-oared yawl, that might have held twenty, on an emergency. The weather looked promising, too,--the wind being just a good top-gallant breeze, for a ship steering full and by. The only thing about which I had any qualms, was the circumstance that south-west winds were apt to bring mists, and that the boat might thus be lost. The emergency, nevertheless, was one that justified some risks, and I pursued my plan steadily.

As soon as all the English were in the boat, and well provided with necessaries, we felt at more liberty to move about the ship, and exert ourselves in taking care of her. The man at the wheel could keep an eye on the enemy,--the Dawn steering like a pilot-boat. Neb was sent aloft, to do certain necessary duty, and the top-gallant-sails being loose, the clew-lines were overhauled, and the sails set. I did this more to prevent the English ship from suspecting something wrong, at seeing a vessel running off, before the wind, under such short canvass, than from any desire to get ahead, since we were already going so fast as to render it probable we should pass the other vessel, unless we altered our course to meet her.

Diogenes Billings, the cook, had now a little leisure to serve us a warm breakfast. If Mr. Sennit were living, I think he would do us the justice to say he was not forgotten. We sent the people in the boat some good hot coffee, well sweetened, and they had a fair share of the other comfortable eatables of which we partook ourselves. We also got out, and sent them the masts and regular sails of the boat, which was fitted to carry two sprits.

By this time the stranger ship was within two leagues of us, and it became necessary to act. I sent Marble aloft to examine the horizon, and he came down to report nothing else was in sight. This boded well. I proceeded at once to the taffrail, where I hailed the boat, desiring Sennit to haul her up within comfortable conversing distance. This was done immediately.

"Mr. Sennit," I commenced, "it is necessary for us to part here. The ship in sight is English, and will take you up. I intend to speak her, and will take care that she knows where you are. By standing due east you will easily cut her off, and there cannot be a doubt of her picking you up."

"For heaven's sake, consider a moment, Capt. Wallingford," Sennit exclaimed, "before you abandon us out here, a thousand miles from land."

"You are just three hundred and twenty-six miles from Scilly, and not much more from the Land's End, Mr. Sennit, with a wind blowing dead for both. Then your own countrymen will pick you up, of a certainty, and carry you safe into port."

"Ay--into one of the West-India Islands; if an Englishman at all, yonder vessel is a running West-Indiaman; she may take us all the way to Jamaica."

"Well, then you will have an opportunity of returning at your leisure. You wished to take me almost as much out of my course; or, if not absolutely out of my course, quite as much out of my time. I have as little relish for Plymouth as you seem to have for Jamaica."

"But, the stranger may be a Frenchman--now, I look at him, he has a French look."

"If he should be French, he will treat you well. It will be exchanging beef for soup-maigre for a week or two. These Frenchmen eat and drink as well as you English."

"But, Capt. Wallingford, their prisons! This fellow, Bonaparte, exchanges nobody this war, and if I get into France I am a ruined man!"

"And if I had gone into Plymouth, I fear I should have been a ruined man, too."

"Remember, we are of the same blood, after all--people of the same stock--just as much countrymen as the natives of Kent and Suffolk. Old Saxon blood, both of us."

"Thank you, sir; I shall not deny the relationship, since it is your pleasure to claim it. I marvel, however, you did not let your cousin's ship pass without detaining her."

"How could I help it, my dear Wallingford? Lord Harry is a nobleman, and a captain, and what could a poor devil of a lieutenant, whose commission is not a year old, do against such odds! No--no--there should be more feeling and good-fellowship between chaps like you and me, who have their way to make in the world."

"You remind me of the necessity of being in motion.--Adieu, Mr. Sennit--cut, Moses!"

Marble struck a blow with the axe on-the studding-sail halyards, and away the Dawn glided, leaving the boat tossing on the waves, twenty fathoms further astern, on the very first send of the sea. What Mr. Sennit said, I could not hear, now, but I very plainly saw him shake his fist at me, and his head, too; and I make no manner of doubt, if he called me anything, that he did not call me a gentleman. In ten minutes the boat was fully a mile astern. At first Sennit did not appear disposed to do anything, lying motionless on the water, in sullen stillness; but wiser thoughts succeeded, and, stepping his two masts, in less than twenty minutes I saw his sails spread, and the boat making the best of its way to get into the track of the stranger.

It had been my intention, originally, to speak the strange ship, as I had told Sennit; but seeing there was no probability of her altering her course, so as to pass the boat, I changed my purpose, and stood directly athwart her fore-foot, at about half a mile's distance. I set the Yankee bunting, and she showed the English ensign, in return. Had she been French, however, it would have made no odds to me; for, what did I care about my late captors becoming prisoners of war? They had endeavoured to benefit themselves at my cost, and I was willing enough to benefit myself at theirs.

We made our preparations for setting studding sails now, though I thought there were signs of a desire in the Englishman to speak me. I knew he must be armed, and felt no wish to gratify him, inasmuch as he might take it into his head to make some inquiries concerning the boat, which if not already visible from his decks, soon must be. I was certain the Dawn, deep as she was, would go four feet to the Indiaman's three, and, once past him, I had no apprehensions in the event of a chase.

The English ship caught sight of the boat, when we were about a mile on his lee quarter, with lower and top-mast studding-sails set, going quite eight knots, on a due east course. We became aware of the fact, by her hoisting a jack at the fore. From that moment I gave myself no concern on the subject of Sennit and his prize-crew. Twenty minutes later, we saw the ship back her main-top-sail, and, by means of the glasses, we plainly perceived the boat alongside of her. After some delay, the yawl was hoisted on the deck of the ship, and the latter filled her top-sail. I had some curiosity to ascertain what would come next. It would seem that Sennit actually induced the master of the West-Indiaman to give chase; for, no sooner did the vessel gather way, than she bore up, after us, packing on everything that would draw. We were greatly rejoiced at having improved the leisure time, in making sail ourselves; for, having a lower studding-sail and two top-mast studding-sails on the ship, when this race began, I did not feel much apprehension of being overtaken. By way of making more sure of an escape, however, we set the royals.

When the West-Indiaman bore up in chase, we were about two leagues ahead of our pursuer. So far from lessening this distance, though she carried royal studding-sails, we gradually increased it to three, until, satisfied he could do nothing, the master of the strange ship took in his light sails, and hauled by the wind again, carrying the late prize-crew in a direct line from England. I afterwards learned that Sennit and his companions were actually landed in the island of Barbadoes, after a pleasant passage of only twenty-six days. I make no doubt it took them much longer to get back again; for it was certain not one of them had reappeared in England six months from that day.

We now had the ship to ourselves, though with a very diminished crew. The day was the time to sleep; and relieving each other at the wheel, those who were off duty, slept most of the time, when they were not eating. At six in the evening, however, all hands were up, making our preparations for the night. At that hour, the wind was steady and favourable; the horizon clear of vessels of every sort, and the prospects of a pleasant night were sufficiently good. The run in the course of the day was equal to one hundred miles, and I computed the distance to Brest, at something less than four hundred miles. By getting in nearer with the land, I should have the option of standing for any French port I pleased, that lay between Cherbouig and Bayonne.

"Well, Moses," I observed to my old friend and shipmate, when we had finished our survey, "this looks promising! As long as the wind remains in this quarter, we shall do well enough; should we actually get in safely, I shall not regret the delay, the credit of having done so good a thing, and of having done it so well, being worth as much to me, as any interest on capital, or wear and tear of gear, can possibly be. As for Mr. Sennit, I fancy he is some sixty or eighty miles off here at the southward and westward, and we've done with him for the voyage."

"Suppose he should fall in with the Speedy, and report what has happened, Miles?" returned the mate. "I have been calculating that chance. The stranger was standing directly for the frigate's cruising ground, and he may meet her. We will not halloo, 'till we're out of the woods."

"That risk is so remote, I shall not let it give me any trouble. It is my intention to run in for the land at our fastest rate of sailing, and, then profit by the best wind that offers, to get into the nearest haven. If you can suggest a better scheme, Moses, I invite you to speak."

Marble assented, though I perceived he was not entirely free from the apprehension he had named until the next morning arrived, bringing with it no change, and still leaving us a clear sea. That day and the succeeding night, too, we made a capital run, and at meridian of the third day after the recapture of the Dawn, I calculated our position to be just one hundred and four miles to the southward and eastward of Ushant. The wind had shifted, however, and it had just come out light at north-east. We went to work, all hands of us, to get in the studding-sails, and to brace up and haul aft; an operation that consumed nearly two hours. We were so busily employed, indeed, as to have little or no time to look about us, and my surprise was the less, therefore, when the cook called out "sail ho!" I was busy trimming the main-yard, when this announcement was made, and looking up, I saw a lugger standing towards us, and already within long gun-shot. I afterwards ascertained that perceiving us to be approaching her, this craft had lain like a snake in the grass, under bare poles, until she thought us sufficiently near, when she made sail in chase. I saw, at a glance, several important facts: in the first place, the lugger was French beyond all dispute; in the second, she was a cruiser, public or private; in the third, escape from her, under any circumstances, was highly improbable, under those which actually existed impossible. But, why should we endeavour to escape from this vessel? The countries were at peace: we had just bought Louisiana from France, and paid fifteen millions of dollars for it, thereby not only getting the country ourselves, but keeping it out of the hands of John Bull, and we were said to be excellent friends, again. Then the Dawn had extricated herself from English clutches, only a day or two before; no doubt the lugger would give us all the aid we could require.

"She is French, for a thousand dollars, Miles!" I cried, lowering my glass from the first good look of the stranger; "and by keeping away two points, we shall speak her in fifteen minutes."

"Ay, French," rejoined the mate, "but, blast 'em all round, I'd much rather have nothing to do with any of the rogues. I'll tell you how it is, Miles, these are onmoralizing times, and the sea is getting to be sprinkled with so many Van Tassels, that I'm afeard you and I'll be just that dear, good old soul, my mother, and little Kitty, to be frightened, or, if not exactly frightened, to be wronged out of our just rights."

"Little fear of that this time, Moses--this is a Frenchman; as we are bound in to a French port, he'll not hesitate to lend us half-a-dozen hands, in order to help us along."

"Ay, and take half the ship and cargo for salvage! I know these piccaroons, and you ought to know 'em too, Miles, for it's only two or three years since you were a prisoner of war among 'em. That was a delightful feelin', I rather conclude."

"Times are altered, Moses, and I'll show confidence in the change. Keep the ship away, Neb--so; meet her--steer for the lugger's foremast; that will do."

Of course, these orders soon brought the two vessels alongside of each other. As the lugger approached, we made her out to be a stout, but active craft, of sixteen guns, and apparently full of men. She set the 'tri-color,' when half a mile distant, sure of her prey, should we turn out to be a prize. We showed-him the stars and stripes of course, fancying he would treat them as a friend.

It was not long before both vessels had rounded-to, and preparations were made to hail.

"What sheep's zat?" demanded one in good broken English.

"The Dawn, of New-York--may I ask the name of your lugger?"

"Le Polisson--corsair Francois--what you load, eh?"

"Sugar and coffee, with cochineal, and a few other articles."

"Peste!--Vere you boun', Monsieur, s'il vous plait."

"Hamburg."

"Diable!--zis is non ze chemin.--How you come her, sair, viz ze vin' at sow-vess?"

"We are going in to Brest, being in need of a little succour."

"You vish salvage, eh! Parbleu, we can do you zat mosh good, as veil as anodair."

I was then ordered, privateer fashion, to lower a boat, and to repair on board the lugger with my papers. When old I had no stern or quarter-boat to lower, the Frenchman Manifested surprise; but he sent his own yawl for me. My reception on board the Polisson was a little free for Frenchmen. The captain received me in person, and I saw, at a glance, I had to deal with men who were out on the high seas, with the fear of English prison-ships constantly before their eyes, in quest of gold. I was not invited into the cabin, a crowded, dark and dirty hole, for, in that day, the French were notoriously foul in their vessels, but was directed to show my papers seated on a hen-coop.

As everything was regular about the register, manifest and clearance, I could see that Monsieur Gallois was not in a particularly good humour. He had one, whom I took to be a renegade Englishman, with him, to aid in the examination, though, as this man never spoke in my presence, I was unable precisely to ascertain who he was. The two had a long consultation in private, after the closest scrutiny could detect no flaw in the papers. Then Monsieur Gallois approached and renewed the discourse.

"Vy you have no boat, sair?" he asked.

"I lost my boat, three days since, about a hundred leagues to the southward and westward."

"It is not have bad veddair!--Why you got no more marins in your sheep?--eh!"

I saw it would be best to tell the whole truth, at once; for, were I to get any aid from this lugger, the facts, sooner or later, must be made known. Accordingly, I gave the Frenchman, and his English-looking companion, a full account of what had occurred between us and the Speedy. After this narrative, there was another long conference between Mons. Gallois and his friend. Then the boat was again manned, and the captain of the lugger, accompanied by his privy-counsellor and myself, went on board the Dawn. Here, a very cursory examination satisfied my visiters of the truth of my story.

I confess, I expected some commendation from a French man, when he heard the ready manner in which we had got our vessel out of the hands of the Philistines. No such thing; an expressive 'bon' had escaped Mons. Gallois, once or twice, it is true; but it was apparent he was looking much sharper for some pretext to make us a prize himself, than for reasons to commend our conduct. Each new aspect of the affair was closely scanned, and a new conference with the adviser was held, apart.

"Sair," said Mons. Gallois, "I have mosh regret, but your sheep is bon prize. You have been prisonnier to ze English, ze enemy of la France, and you shall not capture yourself. L'Amérique is not at war--is neutral, as you shall say, and ze Américains cannot make ze prize. I considair your ship, monsieur, as in ze hand of ze English, and shall capture him. Mes regrets sont vifs, mais, que voulez vous? Ze corsair most do his devoir, ze same as ze sheep national. I shall send you to Brest, vere, if you be not sold par un décret, I shall be too happy to restore votre batiment--Allons!"

Here was a dénouement to the affair, with a vengeance! I was to be captured, because I had been captured. "Once a corporal, always a corporal." As the English had taken me, the French would take me. A prize to-day, you must be a prize to-morrow. I have always thought the case of the Dawn was the first of the long series of wrongs that were subsequently committed on American commerce, in virtue of this same principle, a little expanded and more effectually carried out, perhaps, and which, in the end terminated by blockading all Europe, and interdicting the high seas, on paper.

I knew the uselessness of remonstrating with a rapacious privateersman. "Let him send me in," I thought to myself, at first; "it is just where I wish to go; once in, the minister must get me clear. The fellow will only be the dupe of his own covetousness, and I shall profit by it, in the degree that he will be a loser!"

I presume Mons. Gallois entertained a very different view of the matter, for he manifested great alacrity in throwing a crew of no less than seventeen souls, big and little, on board us. I watched these operations in silence, as did Neb and Diogenes. As for Marble, he lighted a segar, took his seat on the windlass, and sat in dignified anger, ready to explode on the slightest occasion, yet apprehensive he might be sent out of the ship, should he betray one-half of what he felt. Out of the ship neither of us was sent, however, the French probably feeling indisposed to be troubled with passengers in the narrow quarters they had for themselves.

Chapter XVI.

      You are safe;
Nay, more,--almost triumphant. Listen, then,
And hear my words of truth.

Marino Falierlo.

It was just four o'clock, P.M., when the Dawn and the Polisson parted company; the former steering on her old course for Brest, while the latter continued her cruise. The lugger sailed like a witch, and away she went towards the chops of the channel, on a bow-line; leaving us to stand towards the French coast--close-hauled, also, but on the opposite tack.

It is scarcely necessary to dwell on the feelings with which we four, who were eye-witnesses of all that passed, witnessed the proceedings. Even Diogenes was indignant. As for Marble, I have already alluded to his state of mind; and, if I had not, the following dialogue, which took place at sunset, (the first that occurred between us in private since the second capture,--while the French were eating their suppers,) would serve to explain it.

"Well, Miles," the mate drily observed, "whatever we have to do, must be done at once. When shall we begin?--in the middle, or in the morning watch?"

"Begin what, Moses?" I asked, a little surprised at the settled manner in which he put his question.

"To throw these Frenchmen overboard.--Of course, you don't mean to let them carry your ship into Brest?"

"Why not? We were bound to Brest when we fell in with them; and, if they will take us there, it will only save us the trouble of doing it ourselves."

"Don't be deceived by any such hope, Miles. I've been in the hands of Frenchmen, before I knew you; and there is little hope of getting out of them, so long as the ship and cargo will pay for detention. No, no, my dear boy; you know I love you better than anything on 'arth, my dear, old soul of a mother, and little Kitty, excepted,--for it wouldn't be religious to like you better than my own flesh and blood,--but, after these two, I like you better than any one on 'arth; and I can't be quiet, and see you run your property into the fire. Never let the ship go into France, after what has happened, if you can help it."

"Can we possibly help it? Or do you propose that four men shall re-take this vessel from seventeen?"

"Well, the odds are not so great, Miles," Marble rejoined, looking coolly round at the noisy set of little Frenchmen, who were all talking together over their soup; certainly not a very formidable band in a hand-to-hand encounter, though full of fire and animation. "There are four of us, and only seventeen of them, such as they are. I rather think we could handle 'em all, in a regular set-to, with fists. There's Neb, he's as strong as a jackass; Diogenes is another Hercules; and neither you nor I am a kitten. I consider you as a match, in a serious scuffle, for the best four among them chaps."

This was not said in the least boastingly, though certainly the estimate of comparative force made by my mate was enormously out of the way. It was true, that we four were unusually powerful and athletic men; but it was also true, that six of the French might very well be placed in the same category. I was not subject to the vulgar prejudice of national superiority, I hope; one of the strongest of all the weaknesses of our very weak nature. I have never yet been in a country, of which the people did not fancy themselves, in all particulars, the salt of the earth; though there are very different degrees in the modes of bragging on such subjects. In the present instance, Marble had not the least idea of bragging, however; for he really believed we four, in an open onslaught, fire-arms out of the question, might have managed those seventeen Frenchmen. I think, myself, we might have got along with twice our number, taking a fair average of the privateer's men, and reducing the struggle to the arms of nature; but I should have hesitated a long time in making an open attack on even them.

Still, I began to regard my chances of escaping, should we be sent into a French port by the privateer, as far less certain than they had appeared at first. Marble had so much to say of the anarchists in France, as he had known them in the worst period of the revolution, and so many stories to tell of ships seized and of merchants ruined, that my confidence in the right was shaken. Bonaparte was then in the height of his consular power,--on the point of becoming Emperor, indeed,--and he had commenced this new war with a virulence and disregard of acknowledged rights, in the detention of all the English then resident in France, that served to excite additional distrust. Whatever may be said of the comprehensiveness and vastness of the genius of Napoleon, as a soldier and statesman, I presume few upright and enlightened men can now be found to eulogize his respect for public law. At any rate, I began to have lively misgivings on the subject; and the consultation between my mate and myself terminated in our coming to a resolution to serve the French prize-crew substantially as we had served the English prize-crew, if possible; varying the mode only to suit the new condition of things. This last precaution was necessary, as, in the fulness of my confidence, I had made Mons. Gallois acquainted with all the circumstances of throwing the fender overboard, and the manner in which we had got possession of the ship. It was not to be expected, therefore, that particular artifice could be made to succeed with him.

It must have been the result of prejudice, and of constant reading of articles extracted from the English journals, that influenced me; but I confess it seemed a much easier matter to re-take my ship from seventeen Frenchmen, than from twelve Englishmen. I was not so besotted as to suppose surprise, or artifice, would not be necessary in either case; but, had the issue been made up on brute force, I should have begun the fray with greater confidence in the first than in the last case. All this would have been very wrong in our particular situation, though, as a rule and as applied to sea-faring men, it might be more questionable. How often, and how much, have I seen reason to regret the influence that is thus silently obtained amongst us, by our consenting to become the retailers of other people's prejudices! One of the reasons why we have so long been mere serviles on this point, is owing to the incompleteness of the establishments of the different leading presses of the country. We multiply, instead of enlarging these enterprises. The want of concentration of talent compels those who manage them to resort to the scissors instead of the pen; and it is almost as necessary for an American editor to be expert with the shears, as it is for a tailor. Thus the public is compelled to receive hashes, instead of fresh dishes; and things that come from a distance, notoriously possessing a charm, it gets the original cookery of London, instead of that of their own country.

Prejudice or not, confidence is not a bad thing when a conflict is unavoidable. It may be well to respect your enemy down to the very moment of making the charge; but, that commenced, the more he is despised, the better. When Diogenes and Neb were told it would be necessary to go over again the work so lately thought to be completed, neither of the negroes manifested the least concern. Diogenes had been in the Crisis, as well as Neb, and he had got to entertain a very Anglican sort of notion of French prowess on the water; and, as for my own black, he would have followed without the slightest remonstrance, wherever "Masser Mile please to lead."

"They's only French," said Diogenes, in a philosophical sort of way; "we can handle 'em like children."

I would not discourage this notion, though I saw its folly. Telling our two supporters to hold themselves ready for an attack, Marble and I left them, to cogitate and commence the manner of proceeding. Whatever was done, must be done that night; there being reason to think the ship would get in somewhere, next day.

The name of our prize-master was Le Gros. He was not aptly designated, however, being a little, shrivelled, yellow-faced fellow, who did not seem to be a Hercules at all. Nevertheless, unlike Sennit, he was all vigilance and activity. He never left the deck, and, being so near in with the coast, I felt pretty certain we should have his company above board all night. Whatever was attempted, therefore, must be attempted in defiance of his watchfulness. Nor was this all; additional prudence was necessary, since we were so near the coast as greatly to increase the chance of our being picked up by some other French cruiser, should we even escape from this. Extreme caution was our cue, therefore, and Marble and I separated, seemingly each to take his repose with a perfect understanding on all these points.

Mons. Le Gros paid no attention to the state-rooms, or to the accommodations below. His whole care was bestowed on the ship. Apprehension of falling in with some British cruiser, kept his eyes wide open, and his gaze constantly sweeping the horizon, so far as the obscurity would allow. I was incessantly on the alert myself, stealing up from the cabin, as far as the companion-way, at least a dozen times in the course of the night, in the hope of finding him asleep; but, on each occasion, I saw him moving up and down the quarter-deck, in rapid motion, armed to the teeth, and seemingly insensible to fatigue, and all the other weaknesses of nature. It was useless to attempt to find him off his guard, and worn out, Marble and myself fell into deep sleep, about three in the morning, out of pure exhaustion. As for the two negroes they slept the entire night, waiting our summons for their rallying to the work. Neb, in particular, had all the absence of responsibility that distinguishes the existence of a slave, feeling very much the same unconcern as to the movements of the vessel, as any other human being feels in connection with those of the earth in which he is a passenger.

It was ten o'clock when I awoke, refreshed, but disappointed. Marble was still snoring in his berth, and I was compelled to give him a call. I could perceive there was a breeze, and that the ship was going through the water fast; by her lurching, she was close hauled. It takes a seaman but a minute or two to throw on his loose attire, and no time was lost on the present occasion. While my mate and I were thus engaged, the former happened to cast a look out of the cabin windows, which were open on account of the warmth of the weather, and offered no obstruction to a long view of the ocean directly in our wake.

"Halloo, Miles!" Marble exclaimed; "by Jove, we are chased! Such is the secret of Mr. Frog's being so much alive this fine morning. Yonder comes a frigate, or my name is not Oloff Marble."

A frigate there was, sure enough. She was about two leagues astern of us, and resembled a pyramidal cloud, moving along the water, so completely were her spars covered with canvass. That she was an Englishman was more than probable, from the cruising ground, as well as from the fact of the prize-crew running from her. In that day, no French ship-of-war loitered long at any particular point, her enemies being so numerous as to render pursuit certain, ere many hours could elapse. After determining these facts in our minds, Marble and I went on deck.

My first look was ahead. To my deep regret there lay the land, actually within three leagues of us! The wind was fresh at north-east, and Monsieur Le Gros appeared to be steering for a group of islands that lay a little, and ever so little, on our lee bow. Brest was out of the question; if we could get in with the land, among these islands, it was as much as we could do, before the racer astern would be up to us. The Frenchmen were evidently alarmed; an English prison-ship, with all its known horrors, being very vividly placed before their eyes. Monsieur Le Gros screamed, and gave twenty orders in a minute, while the other sixteen men made more noise than would be heard among a thousand Americans. Heavens! what a clamour these chaps kept up, and all about nothing, too, the ship having every stitch of canvass on her that would draw. I felt like the Arab who owned the rarest mare in the desert, but who was coming up with the thief who had stolen her, himself riding an inferior beast, and all because the rogue did not understand the secret of making the mare do her best. "Pinch her right ear, or I shall overtake you," called out the Arab; and more than twenty times was I disposed to trim the Dawn's sails, and send Neb to the wheel, in order to escape the disgrace of being overhauled by the frigate. There was a chance for me, however, in this second recapture, and I thought it preferable to let things take their course. My new conquerors might be mystified, whereas, there was little hope for us, should Monsieur Le Gros get in, after such an uproar.

In little more than an hour's time, the Dawn began to shorten sail, hauling up her courses and top-gallant-sails, rocks showing themselves within half a mile of her. A large boat met as here, coming alongside, as soon as certain who we were. The people in this boat were fishermen, and were so much accustomed to all the movements of the coast, that they understood the nature of the affair as soon as they were apprised of our character. Of course they were eagerly questioned touching the possibility of the Dawn's being carried in through any of the rocky-looking passages that lay before us. Monsieur Le Gros looked very blank when he was told that all his hopes lay in there being sufficient water in one channel, and of that the fishermen confessed their own ignorance. If the noise and confusion were annoying before these men came alongside, it was astounding afterwards. All this time the frigate was drawing near, fast, and half an hour would certainly bring her within gun-shot. There is something intoxicating in a race. I felt a strong desire to get away from the Englishman at the very moment I believed my chances for justice would be worst in the hands of the French. Feeling the necessity of losing no time, I now made a lively appeal to Monsieur Le Gros, myself, proposing that we should both go in with the fishing-boat and examine the passage ourselves. By using proper activity, the whole might be done in a quarter of an hour; we should then know whether to carry the ship in, or to run on the rocks and save what we could of the cargo, by means of lighters.

Order on board ship is out of the question without coolness, silence and submission. A fussy sailor is always a bad sailor; calmness and quiet being the great requisites for the profession, after the general knowledge is obtained. No really good officer ever makes a noise except when the roar of the elements renders it indispensable, in order to be heard. In that day, French ships of war did not understand this important secret, much less French privateers. I can only liken the clamour that was now going on in the Dawn's lee-gangway, to that which is raised by Dutch fish-women, on the arrival of the boats from sea with their cargoes. To talk of Billingsgate in comparison with these women, is to do the Holland and Flemish ladies gross injustice, English phlegm being far more silent than Dutch phlegm. No sooner was my proposition made than it was accepted by acclamation, and the privateersmen began to pour into the boat, heels over head, without order, and I may say without orders. Monsieur Le Gros was carried off in the current, and, when the fishermen cast off, but three Frenchmen were left in the ship; all the others had been swept away by a zeal to be useful, that was a little quickened, perhaps, by the horrors of an English prison-ship.

Even Diogenes laughed at the random manner in which we were thus left in possession of our own. There is no question that the French intended to return; while there is no question it was also their intention to go. In short, they were in a tumult, and acted under an impulse, instead of under the government of their reasons.

"You will have the complaisance, Mons. Wallingford," cried Le Gros, as the boat started away from the ship's side, "to fill the top-sail, and run for the passage, when we wave our hats."

"Ay--ay," I answered; "leave it to me to fill the top-sails, and to give the John Bulls the slip."

This was said in French, and it drew cries of "Bon!" and of "Vive la France!" from all in the boat. What the fellows thought, I will not pretend to say; but if they thought they were to get on board the Dawn again, they did not know the men they left behind them. As for the Frenchmen who remained, Marble and I could have managed them alone; and I was glad they were with us, since they could be made to pull and haul.

The ship was under her three top-sails, spanker and jib, when Mons. Le Gros thus singularly gave her up to my control; the main-yard lying square. My first step was to fill the top-sail, and gather way on the vessel. This was soon done; and, keeping away, I stood on towards the rocks, which soon bore on our weather bow, determined to run as near them as I dared, thinking to frighten the Englishman so much, as to induce him to keep at arm's-length. I might cast away the ship, it is true; but even this would be preferable to falling again into English hands, with all the occurrences still so recent. A year or two later, the affair of the Speedy's men might be forgotten; but while a thing is fresh, there is always some danger of its creating feeling. At least, thus I reasoned, and thus I acted.

Once more I had the Dawn under my own orders; and, could I keep the frigate out of gun-shot, I cared very little for Mons. Le Gros. At first, the privateersmen supposed that, in filling away, I merely intended to further their views; but, no sooner did they perceive the ship standing on to leeward of the passage, than the truth seemed to flash on their befogged faculties. This was not until the depth of water was ascertained to be sufficient for their purposes; and such a flourishing of tarpaulins and greasy caps as succeeded, I had not witnessed for many a day. All these signals and calls, however, were disregarded; but away went the Dawn, with her yards just rounded in a point, with the wind fairly abeam, coasting along as near the islands as I thought it at all prudent to venture. As for the frigate, she was still keeping her luff, in order to get far enough to windward to make sure of her prey. At this moment, the two ships might have been a league asunder.

Mons. Le Gros was no sooner aware of the trick I had played him, than out he dashed with his fishing-boat, making sail in chase, and helping his dull craft along with half a dozen oars. Seeing this, I let the fore-sail drop, and sheeted home and hoisted the main-top-gallant-sail; not that I felt at all afraid of the boat, but because it was my wish to avoid bloodshed, if possible. Among the other absurdities the French had committed, in their haste to get away from the frigate, was that of leaving six or eight muskets, with several cartridge-boxes, behind them. With these weapons, it would have been easy for us to have given the privateersmen such a hint, as would not fail to keep them at bay. Then I always had my pistols, which were not only valuable implements, but were double-barrelled and well loaded. Our only ground of alarm, therefore, came from the Englishman.

Possibly, Monsieur Le Gros thought differently; for his chase was animated, and apparently in earnest. But, notwithstanding all his zeal, the Dawn left him astern, going through the water at the rate of about six knots. But the frigate was coming up at the rate of eight knots, making it certain that she would get us under her guns in an hour or two at most, unless some great advantage was obtained over her by means of the complicated navigation, and shallow water.

When at Bordeaux, the previous year, I had purchased a chart of the French coast, with a book containing directions similar to those which are to be found in our own "Coasting Pilot." As a matter of course, I had them both with me, and I found them of great service on this occasion. The text described the islands we were near as being separated by narrow channels of deep water, in which the danger was principally owing to sunken rocks. It was these rocks that had induced the fishermen to pronounce the passages impracticable; and my coasting directions cautioned all navigators to be wary in approaching them. The Dawn, however, was in precisely the situation which might render these rocks of the last service to her; and, preferring shipwreck to seeing my vessel in either English or French hands, again, I determined to trust to the very dangers of the navigation as my safeguard. I might go clear of the bottom, but it was certain, if I kept outside, I could not escape from the frigate. An accidental occurrence, in connection with the boat, favoured us, and I was not slow to profit by the advantage it offered. Finding it impossible to come up with the ship by keeping in her wake, Monsieur Le Gros had taken a short cut, in the boat, between some islets that we were obliged to round, and he actually came out ahead of us. Instead of endeavouring to close with the ship, however, he led into an excessively narrow passage, making furious gestures for us to follow. This was at the instant when the frigate fired her first gun at us, the shot of which just fell a very little short. Did we pass the channel in which Monsieur Le Gros had carried the boat, we should fall to leeward of the whole group of islands, --or islets, would be the better word,--when all would literally depend on our heels. There was but a moment in which to decide; in another minute, the ship would be past the opening, which could only be regained by tacking, if it could be regained at all. I gave the order to luff.

Our three Frenchmen, fancying themselves now certainly bound to la belle France, were as active as cats. Neb and Diogenes throwing their powerful force on the braces with a good-will, too, we soon had the Dawn braced sharp up, heading well to windward of the passage. Monsieur Le Gros was delighted. Apparently, he thought all was right, again; and he led the way, flourishing both hands, while all in the boat, fishermen inclusive, were bawling, and shouting, and gesticulating, in a way that would certainly have confused us, had I cared a straw about them. I thought it well enough to follow the boat; but, as for their cries, they were disregarded. Had Monsieur Le Gros seen fit to wait for the ship in the narrowest part of the inlet, he might have embarrassed us; but, so far from this, he appeared to be entirely carried away by the excitement of the chase, and was as eager to push ahead, as a boy who was struggling to be first in at the goal.

It was a nervous instant when the Dawn's bow first entered the narrow passage. The width, from rock to rock, speaking only of visible things, might have been thirty fathoms; and this strait narrowed, rather than widened, for several hundred feet, until it was reduced fully one-third. The tide ran like a mill-tail, and it was, perhaps, lucky for us that there was no time for reflection or irresolution; the aspect of things being so serious as might well have thrown the most decided man into uncertainty and doubt. The current sucked the vessel in, like the Maelstrom, and we were whirling ahead at a rate that would have split the ship from her keel to her top-timbers, had we come upon a sunken rock. The chances were about even; for I regarded the pilotage as a very random sort of an affair. We glanced on in breathless expectation, therefore; not knowing but each instant would involve us in ruin.

This jeopardy endured about five minutes. At the end of that brief space, the ship had run the gauntlet for the distance of a mile, driven onward by the current rather than by the wind. So tremendous was our velocity in the narrowest part, that I actually caught myself grasping the rail of the ship, as we glanced past the rocks, as if to keep myself from a fall. The French gave a loud and general shout just as the boat issued out of this race-way into a wide capacious bay, within the group of islands, which had the appearance of forming a roadstead of some note. There was a battery on the end of the last island, a light-house and a cluster of fishermen's huts; all indicating that the place was one of considerable resort.

Monsieur Le Gros was waiting for us, about two cable's-lengths from the place where we issued into the bay, having considerately chosen an anchorage for us, at a point commanded by the four six-and-thirty pounders of the battery. The distance enabled me to look about. Within the range of islands was a sort of sound, quite a league in width, and on this sound the main coast presented several bays in which coasters were at anchor. Most of the prominent points had small batteries, of no great force as against a fleet, or even against a single heavy ship, but which were sufficiently formidable to keep a sloop of war or a frigate at a respectable distance. As all the guns were heavy, a vessel passing through the middle of this sound would hardly be safe; more especially did the gunners do their duty. By anchoring at the spot where the boat waited for us, we at once gave up the ship to the privateersmen, the battery first mentioned commanding that point completely. As good luck would have it, however, an expedient offered, in the direction of the wind and tide, which were opposed to each other, and I availed myself of the circumstance as promptly as possible.

Do our best, the Dawn could not fetch the spot where the boat had dropped her kedge. We passed within hail of it, notwithstanding, and loud were the calls to us to shorten sail and anchor, as we came within hearing. Affecting to be anxious to get up to the precise point where the boat lay, I mystified Monsieur Le Gros in my answers, telling him I would stand on a short distance, or until I could fetch him, when I would tack. As this was intelligible it satisfied my captors, though a hundred "n'importes" were yelled after us; and "n'importe" it was, in fact, one spot being just as good to anchor in as another, for half a league all round us.

The Dawn did her duty that day; and there was occasion for it, the frigate still continuing the chase. The circuit she had to make, and the berth she thought it prudent to give the first battery, enabled us to gain on her materially. When we passed the boat, the Englishman's upper sails were visible on the outside of the island, flying along the rocks at a rate that spoke well of his heels. He rounded the point when we were mid-sound, but here the battery served us a good turn, for, instead of hauling up close by the wind, the English were obliged to run off with the wind free, to keep out of harm's way. Their presence, notwithstanding, was probably of great service to the Dawn, for here had been a communication between Monsieur Le Gros and the battery, by means of a small boat sent from the latter, and we should have been very likely to have a messenger, in the shape of a shot, sent after us, when it was seen we continued to stand across for the main instead of tacking for the designated anchorage, had not the men in the battery had the higher game of the frigate in view. As soon as John Bull got within range, the gunners began to play on him, but it was at a distance that rendered their fire next to useless.

Any one in the least acquainted with the movements of ships, will understand the advantage we now possessed. The Dawn was beating through a good wide passage, with a young flood breasting her to windward, and a steady six-knot breeze blowing. The passage between these islands and the main was about four leagues long, while that which the fishermen had wished us first to enter was near the middle of the group. We were already a mile from the boat, and considerably to windward of her, the tide having done that much for us, when Mons. Le Gros saw fit to lift his kedge, and commence a new pursuit. He had the sagacity to see that we should soon be obliged to tack, on account of the main coast, and to stand over towards the island, again: accordingly, instead of following in our wake, he profited by the set of the current, and pulled directly to windward, with a view to cut us off. All this we very plainly saw, but we cared very little for Mons. Le Gros and his boat. The ship could out-sail the last, very easily, in such a breeze, and it was always in our power to tack in mid-channel, instead of crossing her, or coming near her, at all. The frigate gave me much more trouble.

The Englishman, as I afterwards learned, was a French-built ship called the Fortunée; or, as Jack termed her, now she had got to be designated in the Anglo-Saxon dialect, the Fortunee which was liberally rendered into the vernacular as the "Happy-Go-Lucky." She was an old ship, but an exceedingly fast one, and her commander had rendered himself famous by the manner in which he ventured about on the French coast. This was the third time he had gone through this very sound in spite of the batteries; and having some experience in the windings and turnings, he was now much better able to get along scatheless, than on the two former occasions. As soon as he thought himself at a safe distance from the six-and-thirties, he hauled up, and made five short stretches near the main, where he had much the best of the tide, and the whole strength of the breeze, and where there was nothing to molest him; the usual roadstead being under the island of course.

The first hour sufficed to let me understand there was no chance of escaping the frigate; if we continued to beat up through the passage, we might reach its western end a little in advance of her it is true, but no hope at all of getting away, would remain when we again reached the open ocean, and she in-shore of us. In this dilemma, Marble made one of his happy suggestions, my merit amounting to no more than seizing the right moment, and carrying out his idea with promptitude. The passage first named lay in a line with us, and we had every reason to believe the ship could go through it. When we were invited to enter, the tide was not as high by six feet, as it had now risen to be, and my mate suggested the expedient of trying it, in going out.

"The Englishman will never dare follow on account of the battery which lies on the side of it," he added, "whereas the French will not fire at us, believing us to be escaping from a common enemy."

The whole force of what had been said flashed upon me, in an instant. I set the tri-color over a British ensign, to cause the people of this second battery to think us an English prize, and stood straight for the pass, just without which lay a small brig at anchor. In order to make the deception more complete, we hauled up our courses, and let run the top-gallant halyards, as if ready to bring up. Seeing this, Mons. Le Gros fancied we were about to anchor under the battery, and that we had hoisted our flags to taunt the English, for caps and hats were waved in exultation in the boat, then distant from us a quarter of a mile. We passed close to the brig; which greeted us with acclamations and "vives la France," as we swept by her. My eye was on the battery, the whole time. It was built to command the roadstead, and without any reference to the pass, which no enemy would be apt to attempt. It is true, two heavy guns bore on this entrance, but they were in a detached work, that was never manned except in emergencies.

I drew a long breath, and felt a mountain removed from my very soul, as the ship passed out of the range of the last gun in the little semi-circle. The soldiers were making gestures to us to indicate we were getting too far west for a good berth, but we heeded them not. Instead of shortening sail, the fore and main tacks were boarded, and the top-gallant-sails set. This revealed our intention, and the clamour on the shore even reached the ship. Preparations were making to get a piece of light artillery to bear on us, and some twenty gunners began to scamper towards the detached battery. The whole thing was now reduced to a sheer race. We passed the last battery ten minutes before the French could reach it, the latter having to go round a considerable bay; and six minutes later, we went out to sea, with the American ensign, and jacks, and pennants flying at each mast-head, and wherever else such an emblem of triumph could be shown!

Chapter XVII.

"O, I am out of breath in this fond chase!
The more my prayer, the lesser is my grace."

Shakspeare.

Marble and I looked each other in the face, and then burst into a laugh, as the French fired a single shot from the two-gun battery, which flew beyond us, but which could scarcely hit us on account of some intervening rocks. I altered the course of the ship in order to get a little more out of the range; after this, we had nothing to fear from the French. The boat did not attempt to follow us, and thus ended our communication with le Polisson and her people, a that time. As for la Fortunée, it would require at least four hours for her to beat round the end of the cluster of islands, and seeing the hopelessness of doing this in time to overtake such a ship as the Dawn, her commander made a dash in at the unfortunate brig, which he actually succeeded in cutting out from the roadstead, in spite of all the defences of the place. The last I heard of these gentlemen, was the reports of the guns that were exchanged between the battery and the frigate, while the last I saw of them, was the smoke that floated over the spot, long after the islands had sunk beneath the horizon. The Dawn stood directly out to sea, with the wind still at the northward, though it had drawn more through the pass in-shore.

"Well, Miles," cried Marble, as he and I sat eating our dinner on deck, where Neb had been ordered to serve it, "you know what I've always said of your luck. It's proof ag'in every thing but Providence! Die you must and will, some of these times; but, not until you've done something remarkable. Sail with you, my boy! I consider your company a standing policy of insurance, and have no sort of consarn about fortin, while I'm under your orders. With any other man, I should be nothing but a bloody hermit, instead of the dutiful son and affectionate uncle I am. But, what do you mean to perform next?"

"I have been thinking, Moses, our best step will be to shape our course for Hamburg, whither we are bound. This northerly wind can't last long at this season, and another south-wester would just serve our turn. In ten days, or a fortnight, we might make our haven."

"And then those French chaps that are attacking yonder kid of pork, as if it were a wild beast; the fellows never saw good solid food before!"

"Feed them well,--treat them well--and make them work. They would never think of troubling us; nor do I suppose they know anything of navigation. I see they smoke and chew; we will give 'em as much tobacco as their hearts can wish, or their mouths hold; and this will keep them in good humour."

"And John Bull?"

"Why, John is another sort of a person to deal with, certainly, I am not sure that a third English cruiser would molest us. We can keep our own secret concerning Sennit and his party; and we may not meet with another, after all. My plan is to run close in with the English coast, and show our colours boldly;--now, nine in ten of the British men-of-war will let us pass unquestioned, believing we are bound to London, unless they happen to have one of those pressing gentry, like Sennit, on board. I have often been told that ships which pass close in with the English coast, generally pass unquestioned; by the large craft, uniformly;--though they may have something to apprehend from the brigs and cutters. Your small-fry always give the most trouble, Moses."

"We have not found it so this v'y'ge, Miles. However, you're not only captain, but you're owner; and I leave you to paddle your own canoe. We must go somewhere; and I will not say your plan is not as good as any I can start, with thirty years more of experience."

We talked the matter over, canvassing it in all its bearings, until it was settled to adopt it.

The ship was steered large, until the French coast was entirely sunk; and then we trimmed her by the wind, heading up as near to our course as the breeze would permit. Nothing occurred in the course of the remainder of the day to produce either trouble or uneasiness, though my three Frenchmen came to certain explanations with me, that at first menaced a little difficulty. They refused to work; and I was compelled to tell them, I should put them on board the first English vessel of war we met. This had the desired effect; and, after an amicable discussion, I agreed to pay them high wages on our arrival in a friendly port: and they agreed to serve me as well as they knew how. Seven men were rather less than half a crew for a vessel of the Dawn's size, but it was possible to get along with that number. The steering was the hardest part of the duty--neither of the Frenchmen being able to take his trick at the helm. We got along with the necessary work, however; and so glad were we all to be rid of both English and French, that I hazard little in saying, we would have endured twice as much, cheerfully, could we be certain of meeting no more of their cruisers. Providence had ordered matters very differently.

That night the wind shifted again to the southward and westward. We braced in the yards, and brought the ship to her course; but I thought it best not to carry sail hard in the dark. Accordingly, I left orders to be called at sunrise, Marble having the watch at that hour. When I came on deck, in consequence of this summons, I found my mate examining the horizon with some earnestness, as if be were looking for strangers.

"We are a merry party this morning, Captain Wallingford," Marble cried out, as soon as he saw me. "I have found no less than six sail in sight, since the day dawned."

"I hope that neither is a lugger. I feel more afraid of this Polisson, just now, than of all the names in christendom. That fellow must be cruising in the chops of the channel, and we are working our way well in towards that part of the world."

"I hope so too, sir; but this chap, out here at north-west has a suspicious, lugger-like look. It may be that I see only the heads of his top-sails, but they are amazingly like luggs!"

I now took a survey of the ocean for myself. The vessel Marble distrusted, I unhesitatingly pronounced to be a lugger; quite as likely the Polisson as any other craft. The other four vessels were all ships, the five forming a complete circle, of which the Dawn was in the centre. The lugger, however, was some miles the nearest to us, while as to the strangers, if they saw each other across the diameter of the circle at all, it was as much as was possible. Under the circumstances, it struck me our wisest way was to keep steadily on our course, like honest people. Marble was of the same opinion, and to say the truth, there was little choice in the matter, the ship being so completely surrounded. The worst feature of the case was our position, which would be certain to draw all the cruisers to the centre, and consequently to ourselves.

Two hours produced a material change. All five of the strangers had closed in upon us, and we were now able to form tolerably accurate notions of their characters. The two astern, one on our larboard, and one on our starboard quarter, were clearly heavy vessels and consorts, though of what nation it was not yet so easy to decide. That they were consorts was apparent by their signalling one another, and by the manner in which they were closing; as they carried studding-sails, alow and aloft, they were coming up with us fast, and in all probability would be alongside in two or three hours more.

Two of the ships ahead struck me as frigates, having their broadsides exposed to us: we had raised one line of ports, but it was possible they might turn out to be two-deckers; ships of war they were, beyond all question, and I fancied them English from the squareness of their upper sails. They, too, were consorts, making signals to each other, and closing fast on opposite tacks. The lugger was no longer equivocal: it was the Polisson, and she was standing directly for us, though it was ticklish business, since the remaining ship, a corvette, as I fancied, was already in her wake, carrying sail hard, going like a witch, and only about two leagues astern.

Monsieur Gallois had so much confidence in his heels, that he stood on, regardless of his pursuer. I thought it best to put a bold face on the matter, knowing that sufficient time might be wasted to enable the sloop of war to get near enough to prevent the privateer from again manning us. My principal apprehension was, that he might carry us all off, in revenge for what had happened, and set fire to the ship. Against either of these steps, however, I should offer all the resistance in my power.

It was just ten o'clock when the Polisson ranged up abeam of us the second time, and we hove-to. It was evident the French recognised us, and the clamour that succeeded must have resembled that of Babel, when the people began first to converse without making themselves understood. Knowing we had no small boat, Monsieur Gallois lost no time, but lowering a yawl of his own, he came alongside of us in person. As I had commanded the three Frenchmen to remain below, he found no one on deck but Marble, Diogenes, Neb and myself.

"Parbleu, Monsieur Vallingfort!" exclaimed the privateersman, saluting me very civilly notwithstanding appearances--"c'est bien extraordinaire! Vat you do vid me men--eh! Put 'em in ze zea, comme avec le Anglais?"

I was spared the necessity of any explanation, by the sudden appearance of my own three prisoners, who disregarded my orders, and came rushing up to their proper commander, open-mouthed and filled with zeal to relate all that had passed. The whole three broke out at once, and a scene that was sufficiently ludicrous followed. It was a continued volley of words, exclamations, oaths, and compliments to the American character, so blended, as to render it out of the question that Mons. Gallois could understand them. The latter found himself obliged to appeal to me. I gave a very frank account of the whole affair, in English; a language that my captor understood much better than he spoke.

Mons. Gallois had the rapacity of a highwayman, but it was singularly blended with French politeness. He had not always been a privateersman--a calling that implies an undue love of gold; and he was quite capable of distinguishing between right and wrong, in matters in which his own pocket had no direct concern. As soon as he comprehended the affair, he began to laugh, and to cry "Bon!" I saw he was in a good humour, and not likely to resent what had happened; and I finished my history in somewhat sarcastic language, portraying Mons. Le Gros's complaisance in quitting the ship and in piloting her about the bay, a little drily, perhaps. There were sundry "sacr-r-r-es" and "bêtes" uttered the while; but all came out freely and without anger, as if Mons. Gallois thought a good joke the next thing to a good prize.

"Tenez, mon ami!" he cried, squeezing my hand, as he looked round at the corvette, now less than a league distant. "You are vat you Anglais call 'good fellow.' J'admire votre esprit! You have escape admirablement, and I shall have vifs regrets now to 'ave opportunité to cultiver votre connaissance. Mais, I most laafs,--mille pardons,--you àve non too moch peep's, mais c'est impossible d'abandonner mes compatriots. Allons, mes enfants; au cânot."

This was the signal for the French to quit us; the three men I had shipped taking their departure without ceremony. Mons. Gallois was the last in the boat, of course; and he found time to squeeze my hand once more, and to renew his "vifs regrets" at not having more leisure to cultivate my acquaintance. The corvette was already so near, as to render it necessary for the Polisson to be in motion; another time, perhaps, we might be more fortunate.

In this manner did I part from a man who had not scrupled to seize me in distress, as he would a waif on a beach. By manning me, the prize-crew would have fallen into the hands of the enemy; and, making a merit of necessity, Mons. Gallois was disposed to be civil to those whom he could not rob. Odd as it may seem, I felt the influence of this manner, to a degree that almost reconciled me to the act before committed, although the last was just as profligate and illegal as any that could well be committed. Of so much more importance, with the majority of men, is manner than matter; a very limited few alone knowing how to give to the last its just ascendency.

The Polisson was not long in gathering way, after her boat was hoisted in. She passed, on the crest of a wave, so near, that it was easy to distinguish the expressions of her people's faces, few of which discovered the equanimity of that of their commander's; and to hear the incessant gabbling that was kept up on board her, day and night, from "morn 'till dewy eve." M. Gallois bowed complaisantly, and he smiled as amiably as if he never had put a hand in another man's pocket; but his glass was immediately turned towards the corvette, which now began to give him some little uneasiness. Manning us, indeed, with that fellow surging ahead at the rate he was, would have been quite out of the question.

Being reduced to our old number of four, I saw no use in working ourselves to death, by filling the top-sail, with the certainty the sloop-of-war would make us round-to again. The Dawn, therefore, remained stationary, wailing the issue with philosophical patience.

"There is no use, Moses, in endeavouring to escape," I remarked; "we are not strong-handed enough to get sail on the ship before the fellow will be up with us."

"Ay, and there goes his bunting, and a gun," answered the mate. "The white English ensign, a sign the chap is under some admiral, or vice, or rear of the white, while, if I mistake not, the two frigates show blue flags--if so, 'tis a sign they're not consorts."

The glass confirmed this, and we were left to suppose that all three Englishmen did not belong to the same squadron. At this moment, the state of the game was as follows:--The Dawn was lying-to, with her fore-course up, main-sail furled, main-top-sail aback, and top-gallant yards on the caps, jib and spanker both set. The Polisson was flying away on the crests of the seas, close-hauled, evidently disposed to make a lee behind the two frigates to windward, which we took for, and which it is probable she knew to be, French. The ships to leeward were passing; each other within hail; the one to the eastward tacking immediately after, and coming up in her consort's wake; both vessels carrying everything that would draw. The ships to the southward, or the supposed Frenchmen, might then have been two leagues from us, while those to leeward were three. As for the corvette, her course seemed to lie directly between our masts. On she came, with everything beautifully trimmed, the water spouting from her hawse-holes, as she rose from a plunge, and foaming under her bows, as if made of a cloud. Her distance from us was less than a mile.

It was now that the corvette made signals to the ships to windward. They were answered, but in a way to show the parties did not understand each other. She then tried her hand with the vessels to leeward, and, notwithstanding the distance, she succeeded better. I could see these two frigates, or rather the one that led, sending questions and answers to the corvette, although my best glass would hardly enable me to distinguish their ensigns. I presume that the corvette asked the names of the English vessels, communicated her own, and let the fact be known that the ships to windward were enemies.

A few minutes later, our affairs, as they were connected with the sloop-of-war, came to a crisis. This ship now came on, close under our lee, losing a little of her way in passing, an expedient probably thought of to give her a little more time to put her questions, and to receive the desired answers. I observed also, that she let go all her bow-lines, which seemed much to deaden her way, of which there still remained sufficient, notwithstanding, to carry her well clear of us. The following dialogue then passed, the Englishman asking the questions, of course, that being a privilege expressly appropriated to the public vessel on occasions of this sort:

"What ship's that?--and whither bound?"

"Dawn, of New York, Miles Wallingford, from home to Hamburg."

"Did not the lugger board you?"

"Ay--ay--for the second time, in three days."

"What is she called?--and what is her force?"

"Le Polisson, of Brest--sixteen light guns, and about a hundred men."

"Do you know anything of the ships to windward?"

"Nothing, at all; but I suppose them to be French."

"Pray, sir, why do you sup--um--um--ook--ook--"

The distance prevented my hearing more. Away went the sloop, steadying her bow-lines; the call piping belay, as each sail was trimmed to the officer of the deck's fancy. In a few more minutes, we could not distinguish even the shrill notes of that instrument. The corvette continued on in chase of the lugger, regardless of the four other vessels, though the two to windward now showed the tri-color, and fired guns of defiance.

Mons. Gallois soon after tacked, evidently disposed to stand for the frigates of his country; when the sloop-of-war immediately went round, also, heading up towards these very vessels, determined to cut off the lugger, even if it were to be done by venturing within range of the shot of her protectors. It was a bold manoeuvre, and deserved success, if it were only for its spirit and daring.

I thought, however, that the frigates of the tri-color paid very little attention to the lugger. By altering their course a trifle, it would have been in their power to cover her completely from the attempts of the corvette; but, instead of doing this, they rather deviated a little the other way, as if desirous of approaching the two ships to leeward, on the side that would prevent their being cut off from the land. As neither party seemed disposed to take any notice of us, we filled our top-sail, and stood out of the circle, under easy canvass, believing it bad policy to have an appearance of haste. Haste, however, was a thing out of our power, it requiring time for four men to make sail.

About eleven, or half-past eleven, the four frigates were distant from each other rather more than a league--the Dawn being just then half a league from the two Frenchmen, and rather more distant from the English. Had an action then commenced, we might have been a mile out of the line of fire. Curious to know the result, I stood on a short distance farther, and backed my top-sail, to await the issue. I was influenced to take this course, from an expectation that either party, after a conflict with an equal, would be less disposed to molest a neutral, and that I might possibly obtain assistance from the conqueror--few cruisers being found at that day, without having foreigners on board, that they would be willing to give to a vessel in distress. As for the account I meant to give to the party to whom I intended to apply, it would depend on circumstances. If the French remained on the spot, I could relate the affair with the prize-crew of the Speedy; if the English, that of the Polisson. In neither case would an untruth be told, though certain collateral facts might be, and probably would have been, suppressed.

The Frenchmen began to haul down their light sails, just as we hove-to. This was done in a lubberly and irregular manner, as if little concert or order prevailed on board them. Marble prowled out his remarks, deeming the whole proceeding a bad omen for the tri-color. It is certain that the French marine, in 1803, was not a service to boast of. The English used to say, that they seldom got a French ship without working for her; and this was probably true, as the nation is warlike, and little disposed to submit without an effort. Still, France, at that day, could hardly be said to be maritime; and the revolutions and changes she had undergone were not likely to favour the creation of a good corps of naval officers. Brave men were far more plenty than skilful seamen; and then came the gabbling propensity, one of the worst of all human failings, to assist in producing a disorderly ship.

It was a pretty sight to see those four ships strip for the fight; although the French canvass did not come down exactly according to rule. The English, however, were in no hurry; the two tri-color men being under their three top-sails, spankers, and jibs, with the top-gallant-sails clewed up, before John Bull reduced even a royal. The latter, it will be remembered, were to leeward, and had to close with their adversaries. In doing this, they made one stretch so far in our direction, in the hope of tacking in their enemies wakes, that I saw they would probably speak us. I confess this was more than I had bargained for; but it was now too late to run, which would probably have led to our seizure I determined, therefore, to await the result with dignity.

Just as the English ships were coming within musket-shot of the Dawn, the French,--then distant about a mile and a half to the eastward, and half a mile south of us,--wore ship, and came round with their heads to the westward--or, in our direction. As this was coming nearer, instead of moving from them, the Englishmen began to start their tacks and sheets, in order to be ready. Their six royals were all flying at the same instant, as were their flying-jibs; at the next, the canvass was rolled up, and out of sight. Then, the yards, themselves, came down, and all the light sails about the ships vanished as a bird shuts its wings. After this the courses were hauled up snug, but the sails were not handed. By this time, the leading ship of these two frigates was within a cable's-length of us, just luffing up sufficiently to give our weather-quarter the necessary berth.

"By George, Miles," Marble said, as he stood at my side, watching the movements of the stranger, "that second frigate is the Speedy! I know her by the billet, and the distance of her bridle-port from her head. You never saw such a space for anchors, before! Then, you may see she is a six-and-thirty, with white hammock-cloths. Who ever saw that twice, at sea?"

Marble was right! There came the Speedy, sure enough; and doubtless the eyes of Lord Harry Dermond and his officers would be on us, in a very few more minutes--the distance between the two frigates being less than two cable's-lengths. In the mean time, I had to attend to the headmost vessel.

"Can you tell me anything of the two ships to the southward of us?" demanded the stranger, through his trumpet, without any preamble.

"Nothing but what you see, sir. I suppose them to be French; and see that they are coming after you,"

"After us!" exclaimed the English captain, in a voice loud enough, and now near enough, to be heard without the aid of the trumpet. "After us, indeed! Ready about--helms a-lee--main-top-sail haul, there! Hawl, of all--"

These orders came out at brief intervals, and in a voice of thunder--producing prompt obedience. The consequence was, that this ship tacked directly on our weather-beam, and so near us that one might have thrown a biscuit aboard her. But she went round beautifully, scarce losing her way at all; and away she started again, looking her enemies directly in the face.

"Now's our time to fill, Miles, and draw ahead. The Speedy will think we've been spoken, and all's right. She must come here to tack into her consort's wake, and a blind man could not avoid reading our name--she would be so close. Man the lee-braces, and right the helm, Neb."

Fill we did; and what is more, we put our helm up so much, as to leave quite a cable's-length between us and the Speedy, when that ship got far enough ahead to tack, or at the point which we had just left. I believe we were recognised! Indeed, it is not easy to imagine otherwise; as the commonest glass would enable the dullest eyes to read our name, were other means of recognition wanting. But a sailor knows a ship by too many signs to be easily deceived.

The Speedy was in stays when we saw the proofs of our being known. Her head-yards were not swung, but there she lay, like one who lingers, uncertain whether to go or to remain. An officer was in her gangway, examining us with a glass; and when the ship fell off so much as to bring us out of the range of sight, he ran off and reappeared on the taffrail. This was the junior lieutenant; I could plainly recognise him with my own glass. Others soon joined him, and among them was Lord Harry Dermond, himself. I fancied they even knew me, and that all their glasses were levelled directly at my face. What a moment of intense uncertainty was that! The ships were not a quarter of a mile apart, though the Dawn was increasing that distance fast, and by paying broad off, the Speedy would have me under her broadside. Where was her prize crew I Not in the Dawn, or certainly Sennit would have communicated with his commander; and, if not in the ship, they must be in the ocean! Or, were they prisoners below and kept purposely out of sight? All these thoughts must have passed through the minds of the English officers.

I thought we were lost, again, but Providence once more saved us. All this time the leading English frigate and the two Frenchmen were fast approaching each other. In a few minutes, they must engage, while the Speedy was left further and further astern of her consort. At this critical instant, one of the Frenchmen fired a gun of defiance. That report seemed to arouse the Speedy as from a trance. Her head-yards came furiously round, all the officers vanished from her taffrail, and down went both fore and main-tacks, and to the mast-head rose all three of her top-gallant-sails. Thus additionally impelled, the lively craft dashed ahead, and was soon in her allotted berth, or half a cable's-length astern of the Black Prince, as I afterwards heard was the name of the commanding English ship, on this occasion. I may as well add here, that the French Commodore's ship was named La Désirée, and her consort Le Cerf. Mons. Menneval was senior officer of the French, and Sir Hotham Ward of the English. I never knew the name of the other French captain; or, if I did, I have forgotten it.

My object had been, in bearing up, to get as far as possible from the Speedy, in order that she might not recognise us, and especially that she might not read the name on our stern. But this running off so much to leeward, was not precisely the berth that one would wish to occupy, when a sea-fight is going on directly to windward, and within half gun-shot. No sooner was my Lord Harry Dermond in motion again, therefore, than we hauled the Dawn up with her head to the westward, with a view to get as soon as possible out of the probable range of the fire. It was true, the combatants might vary their manoeuvres, so as to render all parts of the periphery of a certain circle around them, anything but agreeable; but the chances were greatly in favour of the battle's beginning, with one party to windward of the other.

Our ship behaved well on this occasion, getting out of the way with sufficient rapidity. While this was in the course of execution, I had an opportunity to look after the corvette and the lugger. The last was still leading, having managed, by means of short tacks, to work up considerably to windward of the two French frigates. Here she had made a last tack to the eastward, intending to run for the coast. The sloop-of-war was still in her wake, and was following on her heels, at a rapid rate.

Chapter XVIII.

"You and I have known, sir."
"At sea, I think."
"We have, sir."
"You have done well by water."
"And you by land."

Antony and Cleopatra.

The reader will understand that I offer to his view a shifting panorama. As soon as the Dawn had got about a mile and a half from the English frigates, a distance that was a little increased by the advance of the last towards their enemies, we again backed our top-sails, for I had an ungovernable desire to be a spectator of what was to follow. This feeling was common to all four of us, it being next to impossible to get either Neb, or Diogenes, to pull a rope, for gazing at the frigates. As for steering, it would have been out of the question, I really believe, as no one among us could keep his eyes long enough from the combatants to look after our own ship.

Some persons may think it was foolish not to make the most of our time in endeavouring to get as far as possible from the Speedy. Perhaps it was; but, two miles distant, there was really less to apprehend than might at first appear. It was not probable the English would abandon the French vessels as long as they could stick by them, or, until they were captured; and I was not so completely ignorant of my trade as to imagine that vessels like those of la Grande Nation, which were in sight, were to be taken without doing their adversaries a good deal of harm. Then, the prizes themselves would require looking after, and there were many other chances of our now going scot-free, while there was really very small ground of danger. But, putting aside all these considerations, curiosity and interest were so active in us all, as to render it almost morally impossible we should quit the place until the battle was decided. I am not absolutely certain the Dawn would have moved, had we been disposed to make her. With these brief explanations, then, we will turn our attention exclusively to the frigates.

By the time we had got the Dawn just where we wished her to be, the combatants were drawing quite near to each other. The Speedy had carried sail so long, as to be a little to windward of her consort's wake, though half a cable's-length astern of her. The French were in still closer order, and they would soon be far enough advanced to bring the leading ship on each side, under fire. I supposed the opposing vessels would pass about a cable's-length apart. All four were under their top-sails, jibs, and spankers, with the courses in the brails. The Black Prince and the Speedy had their top-gallant-sails clewed up, while la Désirée and le Cerf had theirs still sheeted home, with the yards on the caps. All four vessels had sent down royal-yards. This was fighting sail, and everything indicated that Monsieur Menneval intended to make a day of it.

The first gun was fired, on this occasion, from the Désirée, the leading French ship. It was directed at the Black Prince, and the shot probably told, as Sir Hotham Ward immediately kept away, evidently with a desire to escape being raked. The French did the same to keep square with their adversaries, and the four vessels now ran on parallel lines, though going different ways, and a short cable's-length asunder. La Désirée followed up her single gun with each division as it would bear, until her whole broadside was delivered. The Black Prince stood it all without answering, though I could see that she was suffering considerably, more especially aloft. At length Sir Hotham Ward was heard in the affair. He let fly his whole broadside, almost simultaneously; and a spiteful, threatening roar it was. The smoke now began to hide his ship, though la Désirée, by moving towards us, kept ahead of her own sulphurous canopy.

The Speedy soon opened on the French Commodore; then, by the roar astern, I knew Le Cerf was at work in the smoke. All four ships shivered their top-sails, to pass more slowly; and there was a minute during which, as it appeared to me, all four actually stopped under the fiery cloud they had raised, in order to do each other all the harm they could. The Frenchmen, however, soon issued from behind the curtain, and the cessation in the firing announced that the ships had parted. I could not see much of the English, at first, on account of the smoke; but their antagonists came out of the fray, short as it had been, with torn sails, crippled yards, and Le Cerf had her mizen top-mast actually hanging over to leeward. Just as I got a view of this calamity, I caught a glimpse of the Black Prince, close-hauled, luffing up athwart the wake of her enemies, and manifestly menacing to get the wind. The Speedy followed with the accuracy of clock-work, having rather closed with her leader, instead of falling farther behind. Presently, the Black Prince tacked; but, in so doing, down came her main-top-gallant-mast, bringing with it the yard and the sail, as a matter of course. This was a sign that Mr. Menneval had not been firing a salute.

The French stood on, after this first rude essay with their enemies, for several minutes, during which time we could see their people actively, but irregularly, employed, in clearing away the wrecks, stoppering rigging, and otherwise repairing damages. Le Cerf, in particular, was much troubled with the top-mast that was dangling over her lee-quarter; and her people made desperate and tolerably well-directed efforts to get rid of it. This they effected; and about ten minutes after the firing had ceased, the French ships put their helms up, and went off to the northward, dead before the wind, as if inviting their enemies to come on and fight it out fairly in that manner, if they felt disposed to pursue the affair any farther.

It was time something of this sort was done, for the delay had brought all four of the vessels so far to the westward, as to leave them within a mile of the Dawn; and I saw the necessity of again getting out of the way. We filled and stood off, as fast as possible. It was time something of the sort was done, in another sense, also. When M. Menneval bore up, his antagonists were closing fast on his weather-quarter, and unless he meant to fight to leeward, it was incumbent on him to get out of the way, in his turn.

Sir Hotham Ward, however, was too skilful a seaman to neglect the advantage Mons. Menneval had given him. The instant the French kept away, he did the same; but instead of falling broad off before the wind, he luffed again in time, not having touched a brace, and crossed the wakes of his enemies, giving a most effective broadside into the cabin-windows of Le Cerf. To my surprise, La Desiree held on her course, until the Speedy had repeated the dose. The English then wore short round, and were seemingly on the point of going over the same thing, when Mons. Menneval, finding this a losing game, hauled up, firing as his guns bore, and Le Cerf did the same, with her head the other way, destroying everything like concert in their movements. The English closed, and, in a minute, all four of the ships were enveloped in a common cloud of white smoke. All we could now see, were the masts, from the trucks down, sometimes as low as the tops, but oftener not lower than the top-sail-yards. The reports of the guns were quite rapid for a quarter of an hour, after which they became much less frequent, though a hundred pieces of ordnance were still at work behind that cloudy screen.

Several shot flew in our direction; and two actually passed between our masts. Notwithstanding, so keen was the interest we continued to feel, that the top-sail was again backed, and there we lay, lookers-on, as indifferent to the risks we ran, as if we had been ashore. Minute passed after minute, until a considerable period had been consumed; yet neither of the combatants became fairly visible to us. Occasionally a part of a hull pushed itself out of the smoke, or the wind blew the latter aside; but at no time was the curtain sufficiently drawn, to enable us to tell to which nation the vessel thus seen belonged. The masts had disappeared,-- not one remaining above the smoke, which had greatly enlarged its circle, however.

In this manner passed an hour. It was one of the most intensely interesting of my whole life; and to me it seemed a day, so eager was I to ascertain some result. I had been several times in action, as the reader knows; but, then, the minutes flew: whereas, now, this combat appeared drawn out to an interminable length. I have said, an hour thus passed before we could even guess at the probable result. At the end of that time, the firing entirely ceased. It had been growing slacker and slacker for the last half-hour, but it now stopped altogether. The smoke which appeared to be packed on the ocean, began to rise and disperse; and, little by little, the veil rose from before that scene of strife.

The vessel first seen by us was our old acquaintance, the Speedy. All three of her top-masts were gone; the fore, just below the cross-trees; and the two others near the lower caps. Her main-yard had lost one yard-arm, and her lower rigging and sides were covered with wreck. She had her fore-sail, mizen, and fore-stay-sail, and spanker set, which was nearly all the canvass she could show.

Our eyes had barely time to examine the Speedy, ere the dark hull of Le Cerf made its appearance. This ship had been very roughly treated,--nothing standing on board her, twenty feet from the deck, but her foremast: and the head of that was gone, nearly down to the top. The sea all around her was covered with wreck; and no less than three of her boats were out, picking up men who were adrift on the spars. She lay about a cable's-length from the Speedy, and appeared to be desirous of being still farther off, as she had no sooner got her boats up, than she dropped her fore-sail, and stood off dead before it.

It was in watching the movements of Le Cerf, that we first got a glimpse of La Désirée. This ship reappeared almost in a line with her consort; and, like her, steering off before the wind. Their common object seemed to be, to get within close supporting distance of each other, and to increase the space between them and their enemies. Both these vessels had the tri-colored flag flying at the stumps of their masts. As respects the last, however, La Désirée was a little better off than her consort--having her foremast and main-mast standing entire;--though her mizen-mast was gone, close to the deck. What was a very bad affair for her, her fore-yard had been shot away in the slings, the two inner ends lying on the forecastle, while the yard-arms were loosely sustained by the lifts. This ship kept off under her main-sail and fore-stay-sail.

The Black Prince was the last to get clear of the smoke. She had everything in its place, from her top-mast cross-trees, down. The three top-gallant-masts were gone, and the wrecks were already cleared; but all the top-sail-yards were on the caps, and her rigging, spars and tops, were alive with men; as, indeed, were those of the Speedy. This was the secret of the cessation in the action;--the two English frigates having turned their hands up to secure their spars, while the Frenchmen, by running off dead before the wind, were in positions not to bring a broadside gun to bear; and the cabin-chasers of a frigate were seldom of much use in that day, on account of the rake of the stern. It always appeared to me, that the Spaniards built the best ships in this respect,--the English and Americans, in particular, seeming never to calculate the chances of running away. I do not say this, in reference to the Spanish ships, however, under any idea that the Spanish nation wants courage,--for a falser notion cannot exist,--but, merely to state their superiority in one point of naval architecture, at the very moment when, having built a fine ship, they did not know how to make use of her.

The first ten minutes after the four combatants were clear of the smoke, were actively employed in repairing damages, on the part of the French confusedly, and I make no doubt clamorously; on that of the English with great readiness and a perfect understanding of their business. Notwithstanding this was the general character of the exertions of the respective parties, there were exceptions to the rule. On board le Cerf, for instance, I observed a gang of men at work clearing the ship from the wreck of the main-mast, who proceeded with a degree of coolness, vigour and method, which showed what materials were thrown away in that service, for want of a good system; and chiefly, as I shall always think, because the officers did not understand the immense importance of preserving silence on board a crowded vessel. The native taciturnity of the English, increased by the social discipline of that well-ordered--perhaps over-ordered--nation, has won them as many battles on the ocean, as the native loquacity of their enemies--increased possibly during the reign of les citoyens by political exaggeration--has lost. It is lucky for us, that the American character inclines to silence and thoughtfulness, in grave emergencies: we are noisy, garrulous, and sputtering, only in our politics.

Perceiving that the storm was likely to pass to leeward, we remained stationary a little time, to watch the closing scene. I was surprised at the manner in which the Black Prince held aloof after the Speedy had bore up and was running down in the track of her enemies, sheering first upon one quarter of le Cerf, and then on the other, pouring in a close and evidently a destructive fire. At length Sir Hotham Ward bore up, and went off before the wind also, moving three feet to the Speedy's two, in consequence of being able to carry all three of her top-sails. It would seem that Monsieur Menneval was not satisfied with the manner in which his consort was treated; for, instead of waiting to be assailed in the same way, he put his helm to port and came by the wind, delivering a broadside as his ship luffed, that soon explained the reason of the Black Prince's delay. That ship had been getting up preventers to save her masts, and something important must have been cut by this discharge from la Desiree, as her main-mast went immediately after she received the fire, dragging down with it her mizen-top-mast. The English ship showed stuff, however, under circumstances so critical. Everything on the foremast still drew, and she continued on, heading direct for her enemy, nor did she attempt to luff until within two hundred yards of her, when she came by the wind slowly and heavily; a manoeuvre that was materially aided by the fore-top-mast's following the spars aft, just as her helm must have been put to-port. Le Cerf finding the battle was again to be stationary, also came by the wind, and then all four of the ships went at it again, as ardently as if the affair had just commenced.

It would not be easy to relate all the incidents of this second combat. For two hours the four ships lay within a cable's-length of each other, keeping up as animated a contest as circumstances would allow. I was particularly struck with the noble behaviour of the Black Prince, which ship was compelled to fire through the wreck of her masts notwithstanding which, she manifestly got the best of the cannonading, as against Tier particular antagonist, la Desiree. I cannot say that either of the four vessels failed of her duty, though, I think, as a whole, Sir Hotham Ward showed the most game; probably from the fact that he had the most need of it. Encumbered by so much wreck, of which it was impossible to get rid, while exposed to so heavy a fire, the Black Prince, however, was finally dropped by her adversary, la Desiree drawing gradually ahead, until neither of those two vessels could bring a gun to bear. The English now turned to, to clear away wreck again, while the Frenchman bent a new fore-course, and a new spanker; those that had been standing being reduced to rags.

The Speedy and Cerf had not been idle the while. The French vessel played her part manfully, nor was there much to choose between them, when the latter wore round, and followed her consort, exchanging a fire with the Black Prince in passing her.

Had not the real superiority of the English over the French on the ocean, now come in play, this combat would have been a drawn battle, though accompanied by the usual characteristics of such struggles, at the close of the last and the beginning of the present century; or the latter considering an escape ti sort of victory. But both parties were reduced to the necessity of repairing damages, and this was the work to prove true nautical skill. Any man may load and fire a gun, but it needs a trained seaman to meet the professional emergencies of warfare. A clodhopper might knock a mast out of a vessel, but a sailor must replace it. From the beginning of this affair, all of us in the Dawn had been struck with the order, regularity and despatch with which the Black Prince and Speedy had made and shortened sail, and the quickness and resource with which they had done all that seamanship required in securing wounded spars and torn sails; while, there had been no end to Marble's sneers and comments on the bungling confusion of the French. This difference now became doubly apparent, when there was no smoke nor any cannonading to divert the attention of the respective crews. In half an hour the Black Prince was clear of the wreck, and she had bent several new sails, while the difficulties on board her antagonist appeared just then to be at their height. This same difference existed between the two other vessels, though, on the whole, le Cerf got out of her distress sooner and more skilfully than her consort. As to the Speedy, I must do my old acquaintance, Lord Harry Dermond, the justice to say, that he both fought his ship, and repaired his damages, in a highly seaman-like manner. I'll answer for it, the Hon. Lieut. Powlett had not much to do with either. He had much better been in his mother's drawing-room, that day, and permitted a more fitting man to fill his place. Sennit was then on his way to Barbadoes, however, nor do I believe your master of a press-gang ever does much before an enemy.

Fully two hours passed, during which the combatants were busy in repairing damages. At the end of this time, La Desirée and le Cerf had drawn more than a mile to the eastward of the English ships; the latter following them, as soon as clear of their wrecks, but under diminished sail. The Black Prince had actually got up three spare top-masts, in the interval, and was now ready to set their sails. The Speedy was less active, or less skilful, though she, too, had not been idle. Then the English drove fast towards their enemies. Mons. Menneval bore up in good season, this time, edging away, and opening the fire of both ships on his adversaries, when they were about half a mile distant. The effect of this early movement was soon apparent, it being a great mistake to reserve a ship's fire, as against an enemy that approaches nearly bows on. M'Donough owed his victory in Plattsburg Bay, to having improved so favourable a chance; and the French were beaten at the Nile, because they did not; though Nelson probably would have overcome them, under any circumstances; the energy imparted by one of his character, more than counterbalancing any little advantage in tactics.

On the present occasion, we could see the fire of the French taking effect on the Black Prince's spars, as soon as they opened her batteries. As the mattter was subsequently explained in the official account, that ship's lower masts were badly wounded before she sent up the new top-masts, and, receiving some further injuries, stick began to come down after stick, until nothing was left of all her hamper, but three stumps of lower masts, the highest less than twenty feet above the deck. Sir Hotham Ward was now in the worst plight he had been, in that day, his ship being unable to advance a foot, her drift excepted, until everything was cut away. To the landsman it may appear a small job to cut ropes with axes, and thus liberate a vessel from the encumbrance and danger of falling spars; but the seaman knows it is often a most delicate and laborious piece of duty. The ocean is never quiet; and a vessel that is not steadied by the pressure of her sails, frequently rolls in a way to render it no slight task even to maintain one's footing on her decks; frigates and ships of the line frequently proving more inconvenient than smaller vessels, under such circumstances.

There was one fortunate occurrence to the British, connected with this disaster. The French had been so thoroughly bent on dismasting the Black Prince, that they paid little attention to the Speedy; that ship actually passing a short distance to windward of her consort, unnoticed and unharmed. As the French were going to leeward the whole time, it enabled the Speedy to get out of the range of their guns, before she bore up. As soon as this was effected, she followed her enemies, under twice as much canvass as they carried themselves. Of course, in less than half an hour, she was enabled to close with le Cerf, coming up on one of her quarters, and opening a heavy fire close aboard her. All this time, the Black Prince remained like a log upon the water, trying to get clear of her wreck, the combat driving slowly away from her to leeward. Her men worked like ants, and we actually heard the cheers they raised, as the hull of their ship forged itself clear of the maze of masts, yards, sails, and rigging, in which it had been so long enveloped. This was no sooner done, than she let fall a sail from her sprit-sail-yard, one bent for the occasion, and a top-gallant-sail was set to a light spar that had been rigged against the stump of the main-mast; the stick that rose highest from her deck.

As the battle, like a gust in the heavens, was passing to leeward, Marble and I determined to fill, and follow the combatants down, the course being precisely that we wished to steer. With a view, however, to keep out of the range of shot, we hauled the Dawn up to the eastward, first, intending to keep her away in the wake of the Black Prince. Of course we were in no hurry, it now being in our power to go six feet to that ship's one.

In executing our purpose, we passed close to the wreck of the English frigate's spars. There they were rolling about on the troubled water, and we actually saw the body of a man caught in some of the rigging, as the sea occasionally tossed it to the surface. The poor fellow had probably gone over with the mast and been drowned before assistance could be rendered. With an enemy escaping, man-of-war's-men are not very particular about picking up the bodies of their dead.

I did not venture to run the Dawn directly down in the Englishman's wake, but we kept her off and on, rather, taking good care not to go within a mile of her. All this time the Speedy was playing upon the Cerf's quarter. The latter ship becoming too crippled to luff, while Mons. Menneval was travelling off to leeward, unmolested, having obtained an advantage in the way of speed, that he was unwilling to put in any jeopardy, by coming again under fire. This officer did not want for spirit, but the French had got to be so accustomed to defeat, in their naval encounters with the English, that, like several other nations on the land, they Had begun to look upon victory as hopeless. The Cerf was very nobly fought. Notwithstanding the disadvantages under which she laboured, that ship held out until the Black Prince had actually given her a close broadside on her larboard quarter; the Speedy being kept the whole time on her starboard, with great skill, pouring in a nearly unresisted fire. The Cerf struck only as she found that the battle was to be two to one, and under so many other disadvantages, in the bargain.

This closed the affair, so far as the fighting was concerned. La Desiree standing on unmolested, though, as I afterwards learned, she was picked up next morning by a homeward-bound English two-decker, hauling down her colours without any resistance.

The reader may feel some curiosity to know how we fell on board the Dawn, during the five hours that elapsed between the firing of the first and the last guns, on this occasion; what was said among us, and how we proceeded as soon as the victory was decided. The last he will learn, in the regular course of the narrative; as for the first, it is soon told. It was not easy to find four men who were more impartial, as between the combatants, than those in the Dawn. My early preferences had certainly been in favour of England, as was very generally the case among all the better-educated Americans of my period, at least as low down as the war of 1812. But going beyond the scene of internal political discussion, and substituting observation for the eulogies and sophisms of the newspapers, had wrought divers changes in my opinion. England was then no more to me than any other nation; I was not of the French school of politics, however, and kept myself as much aloof from one of these foreign schools of political logicians as from the other. I may be said to have been born a Federalist; but this change of sentiment had prevented my ever giving a Federal vote since attaining my majority.

Marble had entertained a strong dislike for England, ever since the Revolution. But, at the same time, he had inherited the vulgar contempt of his class for Frenchmen; and I must own that he had a fierce pleasure in seeing the combatants destroy each other. Had we been near enough to witness the personal suffering inflicted by the terrible wounds of a naval combat, I make no doubt his feelings would have been different; but, as things were, he only saw French and English ships tearing each other to pieces. During the height of the affair, he observed to me:--"If this Monsieur Gallois, and his bloody lugger, could only be brought into the scrape, Miles, my mind would be contented. I should glory in seeing the corvette and the Polisson scratching out each other's eyes, like two fish-women, whose dictionaries have given out."

Neb and Diogenes regarded the whole thing very much as I suppose the Caesars used to look upon the arena, when the gladiators were the most blood-thirsty. The negroes would laugh, cry "golly!" or shake their heads with delight, when half-a-dozen guns went off together; receiving the reports as a sort of evidence that crashing work was going on, on board the vessels. But I overheard a dialogue between these two children of Africa, that may best explain their feelings:

"Which you t'ink whip, Neb?" Diogenes asked, with a grin that showed every ivory tooth in his head.

"I t'ink 'em bot' get it smartly," answered my fellow. "You see how a Speedy make quick work, eh?"

"I wish 'em go a leetle nearer, Neb.--Some shot nebber hit, at all."

"Dat always so, cook, in battle. Dere! dat a smasher for John Bull!"

"He won't want to press more men just now. Eh! Neb?"

"Now you see Johnny Crepaud catch it! Woss! Dat cracks 'e cabin winders!"

"What dat to us, Neb? S'pose he eat one anoder, don't hurt us!"

Here the two spectators broke out into a loud fit of laughter, clapping their hands, and swinging their bodies about, as if the whole thing were capital fun. Diogenes was so much delighted when all the Black Prince's spars went, that he actually began to dance; Neb regarding his antics with a sort of good-natured sympathy. There is no question that man, at the bottom, has a good deal of the wild beast in him, and that he can be brought to look upon any spectacle, however fierce and sanguinary, as a source of interest and entertainment. If a criminal is to be executed, we always find thousands, of both sexes and all ages, assembling to witness a fellow-creature's agony; and, though these curious personages often have sentimental qualms during the revolting spectacle itself, they never turn away their eyes, until satisfied with all that there is to be seen of the terrible, or the revolting.

A word must be added concerning an acquaintance-Monsieur Gallois. Just as the Black Prince's masts went, I saw him, a long way to windward, stretching in towards the coast, and carrying sail as hard as his lugger would bear. The corvette was still close at his heels; and Marble soon after drew my attention towards him, to observe the smoke that was rising above the sloop-of-war. The distance was so great, and the guns so light, that we heard no reports; but the smoke continued to rise until both vessels went out of sight, in the south-western board. I subsequently learned that the lugger escaped, after all. She was very hard pressed, and would have been captured, had not the English ship carried away her main-top-gallant-mast, in her eagerness to get alongside. To that accident, alone, did M. Gallois owe his escape. I trust he and M. le Gros had a happy meeting.

Chapter XIX.

"The sea wax'd calm, and we discovered
Two ships from far making amain to us,
Of Corinth that, of Epidaurus this:
But on they came,--O, let me say no more!
Gather the sequel by that went before."

Comedy of Errors.

It was high time for the Dawn to be doing. Of all the ships to leeward, the Speedy, the vessel we had most reason to apprehend, was in the best condition to do us harm. It was true that, just then, we might outsail her, but a man-of-war's crew would soon restore the balance of power, if it did not make it preponderate against us. I called to my mate, and we went aft to consult.

"It will not do for us to remain any longer here, Moses," I began; "the English are masters of the day, and the Speedy's officers having recognised us, beyond all doubt, she will be on our heels the moment she can."

"I rather think, Miles, her travelling, for some hours to come, is over. There she is, however, and she has our crew on board her, and it would be a good thing to get some of them, if possible. If a body had a boat, now, I might go down with a flag of truce, and see what tarms could be made."

I laughed at this conceit, telling Marble he would be wise to remain where he was. I would give the Speedy four hours to get herself in tolerable sailing trim again, supposing her bent on pursuit. If in no immediate hurry, it might occupy her four-and-twenty hours.

"I think she may be disposed to follow the other French frigate, which is clearly making her way towards Brest," I added, "in which case we have nothing to fear. By George! there goes a gun, and here comes a shot in our direction--you can see it, Moses, skipping along the water, almost in a line between us and the frigate.--Ay, here it comes!"

All this was literally true. The Speedy lay with her bows towards us, and she had suddenly fired the shot to which I alluded, and which now came bounding from wave to wave, until it struck precisely in a line with the ship, about a hundred yards distant.

"Halloo!" cried Marble, who had levelled his glass towards the frigates.--"There's the deuce to pay down there, Miles--one boat pulling this-a-way, for life or death, and another a'ter it. The shot was intended for the leading boat, and not for us."

This brought my glass down, too. Sure enough, there was a small boat pulling straight for us, and of course directly to windward of the frigate; the men in it exerting every nerve. There were seven seamen in this boat; six at the oars, and one steering. The truth flashed on me in a moment. These were some of our own people, headed by the second-mate, who had availed themselves of the circumstance of one of the Speedy's boats being in the water, without a crew, to run away with it in the confusion of the moment. The Black Prince had taken possession of the prize, as we had previously noted, and that with a single boat, and the cutter in pursuit appeared to me to be coming from the Frenchman. I immediately acquainted Marble with my views of the matter, and he seized on the idea eagerly, as one probable and natural.

"Them's our fellows, Miles!" he exclaimed; "we must fill, and meet 'em half-way!"

It was certainly in our power to lessen the distance the fugitives had to run, by standing down to meet the leading boat. This could not be done, however, without going within reach of the English guns; the late experiment showing unanswerably, that we lay just without the drop of their shot, as it was. I never saw men in a greater excitement, than that which now came over us all in the Dawn. Fill we did immediately; that, at least, could do no harm, whereas it might do much good. I never supposed for a moment the English were sending boats after us, since, with the wind that was blowing, it would have been easy for the Dawn to leave them miles behind her, in the first hour. Each instant rendered my first conjecture the most likely to be true. There could be no mistaking the exertions of the crews of the two boats; the pursuers seemingly doing their best, as well as the pursued. The frigate could no longer fire, however, the boats being already in a line, and there being equal danger to both from her shot.

The reader will understand that large ships seldom engage, when the ocean will permit it, without dropping one or more of their boats into the water; and that warm actions at sea rarely occur, without most of the boats being, more or less, injured. It often happens that a frigate can muster only one or two boats that will swim, after a combat; and frequently only the one she had taken the precaution to lower into the water, previously to engaging. It was owing to some such circumstance that only one boat followed the fugitives in the present instance. The race must necessarily be short; and it would have been useless to send a second boat in pursuit, could one be found, after the first two or three all-important minutes were lost.

The Dawn showed her ensign, as a sign we saw our poor fellows struggling to regain us, and then we filled our main-top-sail, squaring away and standing down directly for the fugitives. Heavens! how that main-yard went round, though there were but three men at the braces. Each of us hauled and worked like a giant. There was every inducement of feeling, interest and security to do so. With our present force, the ship could scarcely be said to be safe; whereas, the seven additional hands, and they our own people, who were straining every nerve to join us, would at once enable us to carry the ship direct to Hamburg.

Our old craft behaved beautifully. Neb was at the wheel, the cook on the forecastle, while Marble and I got ropes cleared away to throw to the runaways, as soon as they should be near enough to receive them. Down we drove towards the boat, and it was time we did, for the cutter in pursuit, which pulled ten oars, and was full manned, was gaining fast on the fugitives. As we afterwards learned, in the eagerness of starting, our men had shipped the crest of a sea, and they were now labouring under the great disadvantage of carrying more than a barrel of water, which was washing about in the bottom of their cutter, rendering her both heavy and unsteady.

So intense was the interest we all felt in the result of this struggle, that our feelings during the battle could not be compared to it. I could see Marble move his body, as a sitter in a boat is apt to do, at each jerk of the oars, under the notion it helps the party along. Diogenes actually called out, and this a dozen times at least, to encourage the men to pull for their lives, though they were not yet within a mile of us. The constant rising and setting of the boats prevented my making very minute observations with the glass; but I distinguished the face of my second-mate, who was sitting aft, and I could see he was steering with one hand and bailing with the other. We now waved our hats, in hopes of being seen, but got no answering signal, the distance being still too great.

At that moment I cared nothing for the guns of the English ship, though we were running directly for them. The boat--the boat, was our object! For that we steered as unerringly as the motion of the rolling water would allow. It blew a good working breeze; and, what was of the last importance to us, it blew steadily. I fancied the ship did not move, notwithstanding, though the rate at which we drew nearer to the boat ought to have told us better. But, anxiety had taken the place of reason, and we were all disposed to see things as we felt, rather than as we truly found them.

There was abundant reason for uneasiness; the cutter astern certainly going through the water four feet, to the other's three. Manned with her regular crew, with everything in order, and with men accustomed to pull together, the largest boat, and rowing ten oars to the six of my mate's, I make no doubt that the cutter of the Black Prince would have beaten materially in an ordinary race, more especially in the rough water over which this contest occurred. But, nearly a tenth full of water, the boat of the fugitives had a greatly lessened chance of escape.

Of course, we then knew no more than we could see; and we were not slow to perceive how fast the pursuers were gaining on the pursued, I really began to tremble for the result; and this so much the more, as the larger cutter was near enough, by this time, to permit me to discover, by means of the glass, the ends-of several muskets, rising out of her stern-sheets. Could she get near enough for her officers to use these weapons, the chance of our people was gone,--since it was not to be even hoped they had any arms.

The end approached. The Dawn had got good way on her--Marble and Diogenes having dragged down the main-top-gallant sheets, and hoisted the sail. The water foamed under our bows; and the boat was soon so near, it became indispensable to haul our wind. This we did with the ship's head to the westward, without touching a brace, though we luffed sufficiently to throw the wind out of all the square sails. The last was done to deaden the vessel's way, in order that the fugitives might reach her.

The struggle became frightful for its intenseness! Our men were so near, we could recognise them without the aid of a glass; with it, I could read the glowing anxiety that was in my second-mate's countenance. Each instant, the pursuers closed, until they were actually much nearer to the pursued than the latter were to the Dawn. For the first time, now, I suspected the truth, by the heavy movement of the flying cutter, and the water that the second-mate was constantly bailing out of her, using his hat. Marble brought up the muskets left by the privateersmen, and began to renew their primings. He wished to fire at once on the pursuing boat--she being within range of a bullet; but this I knew would not be legal. I promised to use them should the English attempt to board the ship, but did not dare to anticipate that movement.

Nearer and nearer came the boats, the chasing gaining always on the chased; and now, the Black Prince and the Speedy each threw a shot quite over us. We were about a mile from the three frigates--rather increasing than lessening that distance, however, as they drifted to leeward, while we were slightly luffing, with our yards a little braced up, the leeches lifting. Neb steered the ship, as one would have guided a pilot-boat. He had an eye for the boats, as well as for the sails--knew all that was wanted, and all that to be done. I never saw him touch a wheel with so delicate a hand, or one that better did its duty. The Dawn's way was so much deadened as to give the fugitives every opportunity to close, while she was steadily coming up abreast of their course, in readiness to meet them.

At this instant, the officer in the Black Prince's cutter fired into that of the Speedy; and one of our men suddenly dropped his oar. He was hit. I thought the poor fellow's arm was broken, for I could see him lay a hand on the injured part, like a man who suffered pain. He instantly changed places with the second-mate, who, however, seized his oar, and began to use it, with great power. Three more muskets were fired, seemingly without doing any harm. But the leading boat lost by this delay, while its pursuers held steadily on. Our own people were within a hundred and fifty yards of us--the English less than twenty behind them. Why the latter did not now fire, I do not actually know; but I suppose it to be, because their muskets were all discharged, and the race was now too sharp to allow their officer to re-load. Possibly he did not wish to take life unnecessarily, the chances fast turning to his side.

I called out to Marble to stand by with a rope. The ship was slowly drawing ahead, and there was no time to be lost. I then shouted to my second-mate to be of good heart, and he answered with a cheer. The English hurrahed, and we sent back the cry from the ship.

"Stand by in the boat, for the rope!" I cried--"Heave, Moses--Heave!"

Marble hove from the mizen chains, the rope was caught, and a motion of my hand told Neb to keep the ship off, until everything drew. This was done, and the rattling of the clew-garnet blocks announced that Diogenes was hauling down the main-tack with the strength of a giant. The sail opened, and Moses and I hauled in the sheet, until the ship felt the enormous additional pressure of this broad breadth of canvass. At this instant there was a cheer from the boat. Leaping upon the taffrail, I saw the men erect, waving their hats, and looking toward the pursuing cutter, then within a hundred feet of them, vainly attempting to come up with a boat that was now dragging nearly bows under, and feeling all the strength of our tow. The officer cheered his men to renewed exertion, and he began to load a musket. At this moment the tow-line slipped from the thwart of the boat, and we shot away, as it seemed to me, a hundred feet, on the send of the very next sea. There was not time for the Americans to get seated at their oars again, before the other cutter grappled. All that had been gained was lost, and, after so near and close a chance of recovering the most valuable portion of my crew, was I again left on the ocean with the old four to manage the Dawn!

The English lieutenant knew his business too well, to abandon the ship while there was a chance of recovering her. The wind lulled a little, and he thought the hope of success worth an effort. Merely taking all the oars out of the Speedy's cutter, he dashed on in our wake. At first he gained, nor was I unwilling he should, for I wished to speak him. The main and fore-sheets were eased off, and Neb was told to keep the top-sails lifting. Thus favoured, he soon got within fifty yards of us, straining every nerve to get nearer. The officer pointed a musket at me, and ordered me to heave-to. I jumped off the taffrail, and, with my body covered to the shoulders, pointed one of the French muskets at him, and warned him to keep off.

"What have you done with the prize-crew put on board you from the Speedy, the other day?" called out the lieutenant.

"Sent them adrift," I answered. "We've had enough of prize-crews in this ship, and want no more."

"Heave-to, sir, on the pain of being treated as a pirate also."

"Ay, ay--" shouted Marble, who could keep silent no longer--"first catch a pirate. Fire, if you are tired of your cruise. I wish them bloody Frenchmen had stopped all your grog!"

This was neither dignified nor politic, and I ordered my mate to be silent. In a good-natured tone I inquired for the names of the late combatants, and the losses of the different ships, but this was too cool for our pursuer's humour, and I got no answer. He did not dare fire, however, finding we were armed, and, as I supposed, seeing there was no prospect of his getting easily on board us, even should he get alongside, he gave up the chase, returning to the captured boat. We again filled and trimmed everything, and went dashing through the water at the rate of seven knots.

The frigates did not fire at us, after the guns already mentioned. Why, I cannot positively say; but I thought, at the time, that they had too many other things to attend to, besides seeing the little chance there was of overtaking us, should they even happen to cripple a spar or two.

Great was the disappointment on board the Dawn, at the result of the final incidents of this eventful day. Marble swore outright; for no remonstrances of mine could cure him of indulging in this habit, especially when a little excited. Diogenes grinned defiance, and fairly shook his fists at the boat; while Neb laughed and half-cried in a breath--the sure sign the fellow's feelings were keenly aroused.

As for myself, I felt as much as any of the party, but preserved more self-command. I saw it was now necessary to quit that vicinity, and to take some definite steps for the preservation of my own ship and property. There was little to apprehend, however, from the frigates, unless indeed it should fall calm. In the latter case, they might board us with their boats, which an hour or two's work would probably enable them to use again. But I had no intention of remaining in their neighbourhood, being desirous of profiting by the present wind.

The sails were trimmed accordingly, and the ship was steered northwesterly, on a course that took us past the three vessels of war, giving them so wide a berth as to avoid all danger from their batteries. As soon as this was done, and the Dawn was travelling her road at a good rate, I beckoned to Marble to come near the wheel, for I had taken the helmsman's duty on myself for an hour or two: in other words, I was doing that which, from my boyish experience on the Hudson, I had once fancied it was not only the duty, but the pleasure, of every ship-master to do, viz: steering! Little did I understand, before practice taught me the lesson, that of all the work on board ship, which Jack is required to do, his trick at the wheel is that which he least covets, unless indeed it may be the office of stowing the jib in heavy weather.

"Well, Moses," I began, "this affair is over, and we've the Atlantic before us again, with all the ports of Europe to select from, and a captain, one mate, the cook, and one man to carry the ship where we please to take her."

"Ay, ay--'t has been a bad job, this last. I was as sure of them lads, until the lieutenant fired his musket, as ever I was of a good land-fall with a fair wind. I can't describe to you, Miles, the natur' of the disapp'intment I felt, when I saw 'em give up. I can best compare it to that which came over me, when I discovered I was nothing but a bloody hermit, after all my generalizing about being a governor and a lord high admiral of an island, all to myself, as it might be."

"It can't be helped, and we must take things as we find them. The question is, what is to be done with the ship? Should we venture into the channel, yonder chaps will be after us with the news of a Yankee, on board of whom they put a prize-crew, being adrift without the men; and there are fifty cruisers ready to pick us up. The news will spread all over the channel in a week, and our chances of getting through the Straits of Dover will be so small as not to be worth naming: nay, these fellows will soon repair damages, and might possibly overtake us themselves. The Speedy is only half-crippled."

"I see--I see. You've a trick with you, Miles, that makes a few words go a great way. I see, and I agree. But an idee has come to my mind, that you're welcome to, and after turning it over, do what you please with it. Instead of going to the eastward of Scilly, what say you to passing to the westward, and shaping our course for the Irish Channel? The news will not follow us that-a-way, for some time; and we may meet with some American, or other, bound to Liverpool. Should the worst come to the worst, we can pass through between Ireland and Scotland, and work our way round Cape Wrath, and go into our port of destination. It is a long road, I know, and a hard one in certain seasons of the year, but it may be travelled in midsummer, comfortably enough."

"I like your notion well enough, Marble, and am ready to carry it out, as far as we are able. It must be a hard fortune, indeed, that will not throw us in the way of some fisherman, or coaster, who will be willing to let us have a bend or two, for double wages."

"Why, on that p'int, Miles, the difficulty is in the war, and the hot press that must now be going. The English will be shy in visiting the opposite coast; and good men are hard to find, just now, I'm thinking, floating about the coasts of England, unless they are under a pennant."

"A hand, or two, that can steer, will be an immense relief to us, Moses, even though unable to go aloft. Call Neb to the wheel, then, and we'll go look at the chart, so as to lay our course."

All was done, accordingly. In half an hour, the Dawn was steering for the western coast of England, with everything set we thought it prudent to carry. Two hours after we began to move away from the spot where they lay, the frigates had sunk behind the curvature of the earth, and we lost sight of them altogether. The weather continued good, the breeze steady and fresh, and the Dawn did her duty admirably. We began to get accustomed to our situations, and found them less arduous than had been apprehended. The direction of the wind was so favourable, that it kept hope alive; though we trebled our distance by going round the British islands, instead of passing directly up channel. Twenty-four hours were necessary to carry us as far north as the Land's End, however; and I determined to be then governed by circumstances. Should the wind shift, we always had the direct route before us; and I had my doubts whether putting a bold face on the matter, running close in with the English shore, and appearing to be bound for London, were not the wisest course. There certainly was the danger of the Speedy's telling our story, in which case there would be a sharp look-out for us; while there was the equal chance that she might speak nothing for a week. Eight-and-forty hours ahead of her, I should not have feared much from her account of us.

It is unnecessary to dwell minutely on the events of the next few days. The weather continued good, the wind fair and our progress was in proportion. We saw nothing until we got within two leagues of Scilly Light, when we were boarded by a pilot-boat out from those islands. This occurred at sunrise, with the wind light at north-east, and one sail in sight to windward, that had the appearance of a brig-of-war, though she was still hull down, and not heading for us.

I saw that the smallness of our crew, and the course we were steering, struck these pilots, the moment they had time to ascertain the first fact. It was not usual, in that day, nor do I suppose it is now, for deep-laden Americans to pass so near England, coming from the south-east and steering to the north-west. A remark to this effect fell from the mouth of the principal pilot, as soon as I told him I did not wish to go in to any of the neighbouring ports.

"I am short of hands, and am desirous of obtaining three or four good men," I said, "who shall be well paid for their services, and sent back, without cost, to the place whence they came."

"Ay, I see you've a small crew for so stout a craft, master," the pilot answered. "May I ask what has happened to bring you down so low?"

"Why, you know how it is among your cruisers, in war-time--an English frigate carried away all hands, with the exception of these you see."

Now, this was true to the ear, at least, though I saw, plainly enough, that I was not believed.

"It's not often His Majesty's officers shave so close," the pilot answered, with a sort of sneer I did not like. "They commonly send in hands with a ship, when they find it necessary to take her own men."

"Ay, I suppose the laws require this with English vessels; with Americans, they are less particular; at all events, you see the whole of us, and I should be very glad to get a hand or two, if possible, out of your cutter."

"Where are you bound, master?--Before we ship, we'd like to know the port we sail for."

"Hamburg."

"Hamburg! Why, master, you're not heading for Hamburg, at all, which lies up the English, not up the Irish channel."

"I am well aware of all that. But I am afraid to go into the English channel so short-handed. Those narrow waters give a man trouble, unless he has a full crew."

"The channel is a good place to find men, master. However, none of us can go with you, and no words be necessary. As you've no occasion for a pilot, we must be off a'ter something else."

The fellow now left me, without more words, and I saw there was no use in attempting to detain him. He had got a league from us, and we were jogging on our course, before we discovered he was making signals to the brig, which had kept dead away, and had set studding-sails on both sides. As this was carrying much more sail than we could venture to show, I thought our chance of escape small indeed. There was the whole day before us, with a light, and doubtless fast-sailing cruiser in chase of a heavily-loaded merchantman. As a stern-chase is, proverbially, a long chase, however, I determined to do all we could to avoid the gentleman. Sail was made, accordingly, so far as we dared, and the ship was steered a little off, as her best mode of sailing, in her present trim. We saw the brig speak the pilot-boat, and, from that moment, were certain her commander had all the conjectures of the Scilly man added to his own. The effect was soon to be noted, for when the two separated, the cutter stood in for her own rocks, while the brig renewed her chase.

That was an uneasy day. The man-of-war gained, but it was quite slowly. She might beat us by a knot in the hour, and, being ten miles astern, there was still the hope of its falling dark before she could close. The wind, too, was unsteady, and towards noon it grew so light, as to reduce both vessels to only two or three knots way. Of course, this greatly lessened the difference in our rate of sailing, and I had now strong hopes that night might come, before our pursuers could close.

Nor was I disappointed. The wind continued light until sunset, when it came out a fine breeze at north-west, bringing us dead to windward of the brig, which was then distant some six miles. We got the proper sail on the ship, as fast as we could, though the cruiser was dashing ahead under everything she could carry, long before we could get through with the necessary work. When we did get at it, notwithstanding, I found she had not much the advantage of us, and now began to entertain some hopes of shaking her off in the course of the night. Marble was confident of it, and his confidence, on points of seamanship, was always entitled to respect.

About ten, both vessels were on the starboard tack, standing to the southward and westward, or out towards the broad Atlantic, with the brig about a league under the Dawn's lee, and a little forward of her beam. This was the most favourable position for us to be in, in order to effect our purpose, since the cruiser had already passed her nearest point to us, on that tack. The horizon to windward, and all along the margin of the sea at the northward, was covered with clouds, which threatened, by the way, a capfull of wind. This dark back-ground would be likely to prevent our being seen; and the instant the night shut in the outline of the brig's canvass, I ordered our helm put down.

It was lively business, tacking such a ship as the Dawn, under so much canvass, and in such a breeze, with four men! The helm was lashed hard down, and at it we went, like so many tigers. The after-yards swung themselves though the main-tack and sheet gave us a good deal of trouble. We braced everything aft, sharp up, before we left it, having first managed to get the fore-yard square. When this was done, we filled all forward, and dragged the yards and bow-lines to their places, with a will that seemed irresistible.

There were no means of knowing whether the brig came round, about this time, or not. Agreeably to the rule of chasing, she should have tacked when directly abeam, unless she fancied she could eat us out of the wind by standing on. We knew she did not tack when directly abeam, but we could not see whether she came round after us, or not. At all events, tack or not, she must still be near a league under our lee; and we drove on, towards the English coast, until the day reappeared, not a man of us all sleeping a wink that night. How anxiously we watched the ocean astern, and to leeward, as the returning light slowly raised the veil of obscurity from before us! Nothing was in sight, even when the sun appeared, to bathe the entire ocean in a flood of glory. Not even a white speck in-shore; and as for the brig, we never saw or heard more of her. Doubtless she stood on, on the old course, hoping gradually to close with us, or to draw so far ahead and to windward, as to make certain of her prey in the morning.

According to our reckoning, the ship was now heading well up towards the coast of Wales, which we might expect to make in the course of the next four-and-twenty hours, should the wind stand. I determined, therefore, to make the best of the matter, and to go directly up the Irish channel, hoping to fall in with some boat from the north shore, that might not have as apt intellects on board it, as those of our Scilly pilot had proved to be. We stood on, consequently, all that day; and another sun set without our making the land. We saw several vessels at a distance, in the afternoon; but we were now in a part of the ocean where an American ship would be as little likely to be disturbed as in any I know. It was the regular track of vessels bound to Liverpool,--and these last were as little molested as the want of men would at all permit. Could we get past that port, we should then be in the way of picking up half a dozen Irishmen.

Chapter XX.

"Och! botheration--'T is a beautiful coost
  All made up of rocks and deep bays;
Ye may sail up and down, a marvellous host,
  And admire all its beautiful ways."

Irish Song.

Little did we, or could we, anticipate all that lay before us. The wind held at north-west until the ship had got within twenty miles of the Welsh coast; then, it came out light, again, at the southward. We were now so near Liverpool, that I expected, every hour, to make some American bound in. None was seen, notwithstanding, and we stood up channel, edging over towards the Irish coast at the same time, determined to work our way to the northward as well as we could. This sort of weather continued for two days and nights, during which we managed to get up as high as Whitehaven, when the wind came dead ahead, blowing a stiff breeze. I foresaw from the commencement of this new wind, that it would probably drive us down channel, and out into the Atlantic once more, unless we could anchor. I thought I would attempt the last, somewhere under the Irish coast, in the hope of getting some assistance from among the children of St. Patrick. We all knew that Irish sailors, half the time, were not very well trained, but anything that could pull and haul would be invaluable to us, in heavy weather. We had now been more than a week, four of us in all, working the ship, and, instead of being in the least fagged, we had rather got settled into our places, as it might be, getting along without much trouble; still, there were moments when a little extra force would be of great moment to us, and I could see by the angry look of the skies, that these moments were likely to increase in frequency and in the magnitude of their importance to us.

The waters we were in were so narrow, that it was not long before we drew close in with the Irish coast. Here, to my great joy, we saw a large fishing-boat, well out in the offing, and under circumstances that rendered it easy for those in it to run close under our lee. We made a signal, therefore, and soon had the strangers lying-to, in the smooth water we made for them, with our own main-yard aback. It is scarcely necessary to say, that we had gradually diminished our own canvass, as it became necessary, until the ship was under double-reefed top-sails, the fore-course, jib and spanker. We had brought the top-sails down lower than was necessary, in order to anticipate the time when it might be indispensable.

The first of the men who came on board us was named Terence O' something. His countenance was the droll medley of fun, shrewdness, and blundering, that is so often found in the Irish peasant, and which appears to be characteristic of entire races in the island.

"A fine marnin', yer honour," he began, with a self-possession that nothing could disturb, though it was some time past noon, and the day was anything but such a one as a seaman likes. "A fine marnin', yer honour, and as fine a ship! Is it fish that yer honour will be asking for?"

"I will take some of your fish, my friend, and pay you well for them."

"Long life to yees!"

"I was about to say, I will pay you much better if you can show me any lee, hereabouts, which has good holding-ground, where a ship might ride out the gale that is coming."

"Shure yer honour!--will I not? Shure, there's nivver the lad on the coost, that knows betther what it is yer honour wants, or who'll supply yees, with half the good will."

"Of course you know the coast; probably were born hereabouts?"

"Of coorse, is it? Whereabouts should Terence O' something, be born, if it's not hereabouts? Is it know the coost, too? Ah, we're ould acquaintances."

"And where do you intend to take the ship, Terence?"

"It's houlding ground, yer honour asked for?"

"Certainly.--A bottom on which an anchor will not drag."

"Och! is it that? Well, all the bottom in this counthry is of that same natur'. None of it will drag, without pulling mighty hard. I'll swear to any part of it."

"You surely would not think of anchoring a ship out here, a league from the land, with nothing to break either wind or sea, and a gale commencing?"

"I anchor! Divil the bit did I ever anchor a ship, or a brig, or even a cutther. I've not got so high up as that, yer honour: but yon's ould Michael Sweeny, now; many's the anchor he's cast out, miles at a time, sayin' he's been a sayman, and knows the says from top to bottom. It's Michael ye'll want, and Michael ye shall have."

Michael was spoken to, and he clambered up out of the boat, as well as he could; the task not being very easy, since the fishermen with difficulty kept their dull, heavy boat out of our mizen chains. In the mean time, Marble and I found time to compare notes. We agreed that Mr. Terence McScale, or O' something,--for I forget the fellow's surname,--would probably turn out a more useful man in hauling in mackerel and John Dorys, than in helping us to take care of the Dawn. Nor did Michael, at the first glance promise anything much better. He was very old,--eighty. I should think,--and appeared to have nullified all the brains he ever had, by the constant use of whiskey; the scent of which accompanied him with a sort of parasitical odour, as that of tannin attends the leather-dresser. He was not drunk just then, however, but seemed cool and collected. I explained my wishes to this man; and was glad to find he had a tolerable notion of nautical terms, and that he would not be likely to get us into difficulty, like Terence, through any ignorance on this score.

"Is it anchor ye would, yer honour?" answered Michael, when I had concluded. "Sure, that's aisy enough, and the saison is good for that same; for the wind is getting up like a giant. As for the guineas yer honour mintions, it's of no avail atween fri'nds. I'll take 'em, to obleege ye, if yer honour so wills: but the ship should be anchored if there niver was a grain of goold in the wur-r-r-ld. Would ye like a berth pratty well out, or would yer honour choose to go in among the rocks, and lie like a babby in its cradhle?"

"I should prefer a safe roadstead, to venturing too far in, without a professed pilot. By the look of the land in-shore, I should think it would be easy to find a lee against this wind, provided we can get good holding-grounds That is the difficulty I most apprehend."

"Trust ould Ireland for that, yer honour, yes, put faith in us, for that same. Ye've only to fill your top-sail, and stand in; ould Michael and ould Ireland together, will take care of yees."

I confess I greatly disliked the aspect of things in-shore, with such a pilot; but the aspect of things outside was still worse. Short-handed as we were, it would be impossible to keep the ship in the channel, should the gale come on as heavily as it threatened; and a single experiment satisfied me, the four men in the boat would be of very little use in working her: for I never saw persons who knew anything of the water, more awkward than they turned out to be on our decks. Michael knew something, it is true; but he was too old to turn his knowledge to much practical account, for when I sent him to the wheel, Neb had to remain there to assist him in steering. There was no choice, therefore, and I determined to stand close in, when, should no suitable offer, it would always be in our power to ware offshore. The fishing-boat was dropped astern, accordingly, the men were all kept in the ship, and we stood in nearer to the coast: the Dawn bending to the blasts, under the sail we carried, in a way to render it difficult to stand erect on her decks.

The coast promised well as to formation, though there was much to apprehend on the subject of the bottom. Among rocks an anchor is a ticklish thing to confide in, and I feared it might be a difficult matter to find a proper bottom, as far out as I deemed it prudent to remain. But Michael, and Terence, and Pat, and Murphy, or whatever were the names of our protesting confident friends, insisted that 'ould Ireland' would never fail us. Marble and I stood on the forecastle, watching the formation of the coast, and making our comments, as the ship drove through the short seas, buried to her figure-head. At length, we thought a head-land that was discernible a little under our lee-bow, looked promising, and Michael was called from the wheel and questioned concerning it. The fellow affirmed he knew the place well, and that the holding-ground on each side of it was excellent, consenting at once to a proposition of mine to bring up under its lee. We edged off, therefore, for this point, making the necessary preparations for bringing up.

I was too busy in getting in canvas to note the progress of the ship for the next twenty minutes. It took all four of us to stow the jib, leaving Michael at the wheel the while. And a tremendous job it was, though (I say it in humility) four better men never lay out on a spar, than those who set about the task on this occasion. We got it in, however, but, I need scarcely tell the seaman, it was not "stowed in the skin." Marble insisted on leading the party, and never before had I seen the old fellow work as he did on that day. He had a faculty of incorporating his body and limbs with the wood and ropes, standing, as it might be, on air, working and dragging with his arms and broad shoulders, in a way that appeared to give him just as much command of his entire strength, as another man would possess on the ground.

At length we reduced the canvass to the fore-top-mast stay-sail, and main-top-sail, the latter double-reefed. It was getting to be time that the last should be close reefed, (and we carried four reefs in the Dawn), but we hoped the cloth would hold out until we wanted to roll it up altogether. The puffs, however, began to come gale-fashion, and I foresaw we should get it presently in a style that would require good looking to.

The ship soon drove within the extremity of the head-land, the lead giving us forty fathoms of water. I had previously asked Michael what water we might expect, but this he frankly owned he could not tell. He was certain that ships sometimes anchored there, but what water they found was more than he knew. He was no conjuror, and guessing might be dangerous, so he chose to say nothing about it. It was nervous work for a ship-master to carry his vessel on a coast, under such pilotage as this. I certainly would have wore round as it was, were it not for the fact that there was a clear sea to leeward, and that it would always be as easy to run out into the open water, as the wind was at that moment.

Marble and I now began to question our fisherman as to the precise point where he intended to fetch up. Michael was bothered, and it was plain enough his knowledge was of the most general character. As for the particulars of his calling, he treated them with the coolest indifference. He had been much at sea in his younger days, it is true; but it was in ships of war, where the ropes were put into his hands by captains of the mast, and where his superiors did all the thinking. He could tell whether ships did or did not anchor near a particular spot, but he knew no reason for the one, or for the other. In a word, he had just that sort of knowledge of seamanship as one gets of the world by living in a province, where we all learn the leading principles of humanity, and trust to magazines and works of fiction for the finesse of life.

The lead proved a better guide than Michael, and seeing some breakers in-shore of us, I gave the order to clew up the main-top-sail, and to luff to the wind, before the ship should lose her way. Our Irishmen pulled and hauled well enough, as soon as they were directed what to do; which enabled Marble and myself each to stand by a stopper. We had previously got the two bowers a-cock-bill, (the cables were bent as soon as we made the land); and nothing remained but to let run. Neb was at the wheel, with orders to spring to the cables as soon as he heard them running out, and everything was in readiness. I shouted the order to "let run," and down both our anchors went, at the same instant, in twenty-two fathoms' water. The ship took cable at a fearful rate; but Marble and Diogenes being at one bower, and Neb and I at the other, we succeeded in snubbing her, with something like twenty fathoms within the hawse-holes. There was a minute, when I thought the old bark would get away from us; and when, by desperate efforts, we did succeed in checking the mass, it seemed as if she would shake the windlass out of her. No time was lost in stoppering the cables, and in rolling up the main-top-sail.

Michael and his companions now came to wish us good luck, get the guineas, and to take their leave. The sea was already so rough that the only mode that remained of getting into their boat was by dropping from the end of the spanker boom. I endeavoured to persuade two or three of these fellows to stick by the ship, but in vain. They were all married, and they had a certain protection against impressment in their present manner of life; whereas, should they be found at large, some man-of-war would probably pick them up; and Michael's tales of the past had not given them any great zest for the sort of life he described.

When these Irish fishermen left us, and ran in-shore, we were thrown again altogether on our own resources. I had explained to Michael our want of hands, however, attributing it to accidents and impressments, and he thought he could persuade four or five young fellows to come off, as soon as the gale abated, on condition we would take them to America, after discharging at Hamburg. These were to be mere peasants, it is true, for seamen were scarce in that part of the world; but they would be better than nothing. Half a dozen athletic young Irishmen would relieve us seamen from a vast deal of the heavy, lugging work of the ship, and leave us strength and spirits to do that which unavoidably fell to our share. With the understanding that he was to receive, himself, a guinea a-head for each sound man thus brought us, we parted from old Michael, who probably has never piloted a ship since, as I strongly suspect he had never done before.

Chapter XXI.

"The power of God is everywhere,
Pervades all space and time:
The power of God can still the air,
And rules in every clime;--
Then bow the heart, and bend the knee,
And worship o'er both land and sea."

Duo.

I never knew precisely the point on the coast of Ireland where we anchored. It was somewhere between Strangford and Dundrum Bay; though the name of the head-land which gave us a sort of protection, I did not learn. In this part of the island, the coast trends north and south, generally; though at the place where we anchored, its direction was nearly from north-north-east to south-south-west,--which, in the early part of the gale, was as close as might be the course in which the wind blew. At the moment we brought up, the wind had hauled a little further to the northward, giving us a better lee; but, to my great regret, Michael had scarcely left us, when it shifted to due north-east, making a fair rake of the channel. This left us very little of a lee--the point ahead of us being no great matter, and we barely within it. I consulted such maps as I had, and came to the conclusion that we were off the county Down, a part of the kingdom that was at least civilized, and where we should be apt to receive good treatment, in the event of being wrecked. Our fishermen told us that they belonged to a Bally-something; but what the something was I have forgotten, if I ever understood them. "Told us," I say out of complaisance, but "tould" would be the better word, as all they uttered savoured so much of the brogue, that it was not always easy to get at their meaning.

It was past noon when the Dawn anchored; and the wind got more to the eastward, about half an hour afterwards. It was out of the question to think of getting under way again, with so strong a wind, and with our feeble crew. Had it been perfectly smooth water, and had there been neither tide, nor air, it would have taken us half a day, at least, to get out two bowers. It was folly, therefore, to think of it, situated as we were. It only remained, to ride out the gale in the best manner we could.

Nothing occurred, for several hours, except that the gale increased sensibly in violence. Like an active disease, it was fast coming to a crisis. Towards sunset, however, a little incident took place, that gave me great uneasiness of itself, though I had forebodings of evil from the commencement of that tempest. Two sail appeared in sight, to windward, being quite near us, close in with the Irish coast before either was observed on board the Dawn. The leading vessel of the two was a man-of-war cutter, running nearly before it, under a close-reefed square-sail,--canvass so low that it might easily be confounded with the foam of the sea, at a little distance. She rounded the head-land, and was edging away from the coast, apparently for sea-room, when she took a sudden sheer in our direction. As if curious to ascertain what could have taken so large a square-rigged vessel as the Dawn, into her present berth, this cutter actually ran athwart our hawse, passing inside of us, at a distance of some fifty yards. We were examined; but no attempt was made to speak us. I felt no uneasiness at the proximity of these two cruisers, for I knew a boat could not live,--our ship fairly pitching her martingale into the water at her anchors.

The frigate followed the cutter, though she passed us outside, even nearer than her consort. I got my first accurate notion of the weight of the gale, by seeing this large ship drive past us, under a reefed fore-sail, and a close-reefed main-top-sail, running nearly dead before it. As she came down, she took a sheer, like a vessel scudding in the open ocean; and, at one moment, I feared she would plunge directly into us, though she minded her helm in time to clear everything. A dozen officers on board her were looking at us, from her gangway, her quarter-deck guns, and rigging. All were compelled to hold on with firm grasps; and wonder seemed painted in every countenance. I could see their features for half a minute only, or even a less time; but I could discern this expression in each face. Some looked up at our spars, as if to ascertain whether all were right; while others looked back at the head-land they had just rounded, like those who examined the roadstead. Most shook their heads, as remarks passed from one to the other. The captain, as I took him to be, spoke us. "What are you doing here?" came to me through a trumpet, plainly enough; but answering was out of the question. Before I could even get a trumpet to my mouth, the frigate had gone foaming by, and was already beyond the reach of the voice. Heads appeared over her taffrail for some time, and we fancied these man-of-war's men regarded us as the instructed are apt to regard the ignorant, whom they fancy to be in danger. Marble sneered a little at the curiosity betrayed by these two crafts; but, as for myself, it caused great uneasiness. I fancied they acted like those who were acquainted with the coast, manifesting surprise at seeing a stranger anchored in the berth we occupied.

I slept little that night. Marble kept me company most of the time, but Neb and Diogenes were as tranquil as if sleeping on good French mattresses--made of hair, not down--within the walls of a citadel. Little disturbed these negroes, who followed our fortunes with the implicit reliance that habit and education had bred in them, as it might be, in and in. In this particular, they were literally dyed in the wool, to use one of the shop expressions so common among us.

There was a little relaxation in the force of the gale in the middle of the night; but, with the return of day, came the winds howling down upon us, in a way that announced a more than common storm. All hands of us were now up, and paying every attention to the vessel. My greatest concern had been lest some of the sails should get adrift, for they had been furled by few and fatigued men. This did not happen, however, our gaskets and lashings doing all of their duty. We got our breakfasts, therefore, in the ordinary way, and Marble and myself went and stood on the forecastle, to watch the signs of the times, like faithful guardians, who were anxious to get as near as possible to the danger.

It was wonderful how the ship pitched! Frequently her Aurora was completely submerged, and tons of water would come in upon the forecastle, washing entirely aft at the next send, so that our only means of keeping above water was to stand on the windlass-bitts, or to get upon the heart of the main-stay. Dry we were not, nor did we think of attempting to be so, but such expedients were necessary to enable us to remain stationary; often to enable us to breathe. I no longer wondered at the manner in which the cutter and frigate had examined our position. It was quite clear the fishermen knew very little about finding a proper berth for a ship, and that we might pretty nearly as well have brought up in the middle of St. George's channel, could our ground-tackle reach the bottom, as to have brought up where we were.

Just about nine o'clock, Marble and I had got near each other on the fife-rail, and held a consultation on the subject of our prospects. Although we both clung to the same top-sail-sheet, we were obliged to hallow to make ourselves heard, the howling of the wind through the rigging converting the hamper into a sort of tremendous Eolian Harp, while the roar of the water kept up a species of bass accompaniment to this music of the ocean. Marble was the one who had brought about this communication, and he was the first to speak.

"I say, Miles," he called out, his mouth within three feet of my ear--"she jumps about like a whale with a harpoon in it! I've been afraid she'd jerk the stem out of her."

"Not much fear of that, Moses--my great concern is that starboard bower-cable; it has a good deal more strain on it than the larboard, and you can see how the strands are stretched."

"Ay, ay--'t is generalizing its strength, as one may say. S'pose we clap the helm a-port, and try the effects of a sheer?"

"I've thought of that; as there is a strong tide going, it may possibly answer"--

These words were scarcely out of my mouth, when three seas of enormous height came rolling down upon us, like three great roistering companions in a crowd of sullen men, the first of which raised the Dawn's bows so high in the air, as to cause us both to watch the result in breathless silence. The plunge into the trough was in a just proportion to the toss into the air; and I felt a surge, as if something gave way under the violent strain that succeeded. The torrent of water that came on the forecastle prevented any thing from being seen; but again the bows rose, again they sunk, and then the ship seemed easier.

"We are all adrift, Miles!" Marble shouted, leaning forward to be heard. "Both bowers have snapped like thread, and here we go, head-foremost, in for the land!"

All this was true enough! The cables had parted, and the ship's head was falling off fast from the gale, like the steed that has slipped his bridle, before he commences his furious and headlong career. I looked round for the negroes; but Neb was already at the wheel. That noble fellow, true as steel, had perceived the accident as soon as any of us, and he sprang to the very part of the vessel where he was most needed. He had a seaman's faculties in perfection, though ratiocination was certainly not his forte. A motion of my hand ordered him to put the helm hard up, and the answering sign let me know that I was obeyed. We could do no more just then, but the result was awaited in awful expectation.

The Dawn's bows fell off until the ship lay broadside to the gale, which made her reel until her lee lower yard-arms nearly dipped. Then she overcame the cauldron of water that was boiling around her, and began to draw heavily ahead. Three seas swept athwart her decks, before she minded her helm in the least, carrying with them every thing that was not most firmly lashed, or which had not animal life to direct its movements, away to leeward. They swept off the hen-coops, and ripped four or five water-casks from their lashings, even, as if the latter had been pack-thread. The camboose-house went also, at the last of these terrific seas; and nothing saved the camboose itself, but its great weight, added to the strength of its fastenings. In a word, little was left, that could very well go, but the launch, the gripes of which fortunately held on.

By the time this desolation was completed, the ship began to fall off, and her movement through the water became very perceptible. At first, she dashed in toward the land, running, I make no doubt, quite half a mile obliquely in that direction, ere she got fairly before the wind; a course which carried her nearly in a line with the coast. Marble and myself now got aft without much trouble, and put the helm a little to starboard, with a view to edge off to the passage as far as possible. The wind blew so nearly down channel, that there would have been no immediate danger, had we an offing; but the ship had not driven before the gale more than three or four hours, when we made land ahead; the coast trending in this part of the island nearly north and south. Marble suggested the prudence of taking time by the forelock, and of getting the main-top-sail on the ship, to force her off the land, the coast in the neighbourhood of Dublin lying under our lee-bow. We had taken the precaution to close-reef everything before it was furled, and I went aloft myself to lower this sail. If I had formed a very respectful opinion of the power of the gale, while on deck, that opinion was materially heightened when I came to feel its gusts, on the main-top-sail-yard. It was not an easy matter to hold on at all; and to work, required great readiness and strength. Nevertheless, I got the sail loose, and then I went down and aided Marble and the cook to drag home the sheets. Home, they could not be dragged by us, notwithstanding we got up a luff; but we made the sail stand reasonably well.

The ship immediately felt the effect of even this rag of canvass. She drove ahead at a prodigious rate, running, I make no question, some eleven or twelve knots, under the united power collected by her hamper and this one fragment of a sail. Her drift was unavoidably great, and I thought the current sucked her in towards the land; but, on the whole, she kept at about the same distance from the shore, foaming along it, much as we had seen the frigate do, the day before. At the rate we were going, twelve or fifteen hours would carry us down to the passage between Holy Head and Ireland, when we should get more sea-room, on account of the land's trending again to the westward.

Long, long hours did Marble and I watch the progress of our ship that day and the succeeding night, each of us taking our tricks at the wheel, and doing seaman's duty, as well as that of mate and master. All this time, the vessel was dashing furiously out towards the Atlantic, which she reached ere the morning of the succeeding day. Just before he light returned we were whirled past a large ship that was lying-to, under a single storm-stay-sail, and which I recognised as the frigate that had taken a look at us at our anchorage. The cutter was close at hand, and the fearful manner in which these two strong-handed vessels pitched and lurched, gave me some idea of what must be our situation, should we be compelled to luff to the wind. I supposed they had done so, in order to keep as long as possible, on their cruising ground, near the chops of the Irish channel.

A wild scene lay around us, at the return of light. The Atlantic resembled a chaos of waters, the portions of the rolling sheet that were not white with foam, looking green and angry. The clouds hid the sun, and the gale seemed to be fast coming to its height. At ten, we drove past an American, with nothing standing but his foremast. Like us, he was running off, though we went three feet to his two. Half an hour later, we had the awful sight before our eyes of witnessing the sudden disappearance of an English brig. She was lying-to, directly on our course, and I was looking at her from the windlass, trying to form some opinion as to the expediency of our luffing-to, in order to hold our own. Of a sudden, this brig gave a plunge, and she went down like a porpoise diving. What caused this disaster I never knew; but, in five minutes we passed as near as possible over the spot, and not a trace of her was to be seen. I could not discover so much as a handspike floating, though I looked with intense anxiety, in the hope of picking up some fellow-creature clinging to a spar. As for stopping to examine, one who did not understand the language might as well hope to read the German character on a mile-stone, while flying past it in a rail-road car.

At noon, precisely, away went our fore-top-sail out of the gaskets. One fastening snapped after another, until the whole sail was adrift. The tugs that this large sheet of canvass gave upon the spars, as it shook in the wind, threatened to jerk the foremast out of the ship. They lasted about three minutes, when, after a report almost as loud as that of a small piece of ordnance, the sail split in ribands. Ten minutes later, our main-top-sail went. This sail left us as it might be bodily, and I actually thought that a gun of distress was fired near us, by some vessel that was unseen, The bolt-rope was left set; the sheets, earings, and reef points all holding on, the cloth tearing at a single rent around the four sides of the sail. The scene that followed I scarcely know how to describe. The torn part of the main-top-sail flew forward, and caught in the after-part of the fore-top, where it stood spread, as one might say, held by the top, cat-harpins, rigging, and other obstacles. This was the feather to break the camel's back. Bolt after bolt of the fore-rigging drew or broke, each parting with a loud report, and away went everything belonging to the foremast over the bows, from the deck up. The main-top-mast was dragged down by this fearful pull, and that brought the mizen-top-gallant-mast after it. The pitching of so much hamper under the bows of the ship, while her after-masts stood, threw the stern round, in spite of the manner in which Marble steered; and the ship broached-to. In doing this, the sea made a fair breach over her, sweeping the deck of even the launch and camboose, and carrying all the lee-bulwarks, in the waist, with them. Neb was in the launch at the time, hunting for some article kept there; and the last I saw of the poor fellow, he was standing erect in the bows of the boat, as the latter drove over the vessel's side, on the summit of a wave, like a bubble floating in a furious current. Diogenes, it seems, had that moment gone to his camboose, to look after the plain dinner he was trying to boil, when probably seizing the iron as the most solid object near him, he was carried overboard with it, and never reappeared. Marble was in a tolerably safe part of the vessel, at the wheel, and he kept his feet, though the water rose above his waist; as high, indeed, as his arms. As for myself, I was saved only by the main-rigging, into which I was driven, and where I lodged.

I could not but admire the coolness and conduct of Marble even at that terrific moment! In the first place, he put the helm hard down, and lashed the wheel, the wisest thing that could be done by men in our situation. This he did by means of that nautical instinct, which enables a seaman to act, in the direst emergencies, almost without reflection, or, as one closes his eyes to avoid danger to the pupils. Then he gave one glance at the state of things in-board, running forward with the end of a rope to throw to Diogenes, should the cook rise near the ship. By the time he was satisfied the hope of doing anything in that way, was vain, I was on deck, and we two stood facing each other, in the midst of the scene of desolation and ruin that was around us. Marble caught my hand with a look that spoke as plainly as words. It told me the joy he felt at seeing I was spared, his determination to stick by me to the last; yet, how low were his hopes of ultimate preservation! It was such a look as any man would be glad to receive from a comrade in the heat of battle; nevertheless, it was not a look that promised victory.

The situation of the ship would now have been much better than it had been, in many respects, were it not for the wreck. All the masts forward had gone over the lee bow, and would have lain in a sufficiently favourable situation for a strong crew to get rid of them; but in our case we were compelled to let things take their course. It is true, we could cut away, and this we began to do pretty freely, but the lower-end of the foremast lay on the forecastle, where it was grinding everything near it to pieces, with the heaving and setting of the waves. All the bulwarks in. that part of the ship threatened soon to be beaten down, and I felt afraid the cat-head would be torn violently out of the ship, leaving a bad leak. Leaks enough there were, as it was. The launch, camboose, water-casks, and spare spars, in driving overboard, having forced out timber-heads, and other supports, in a way to split the plank sheer, which let in the water fast, every time the lee gunwale went under. I gave up my sugars and coffees from the first, bringing my hopes down as low as the saving of the ship, the instant I saw the state of the upper works.

Marble and I had not been educated in a school that is apt to despair. As for my mate, had he found himself on a plank in the middle of the Atlantic, I do believe he would have set about rigging a jury-mast, by splitting off a piece of the hull of his craft and spreading his shirt by way of sail. I never knew a more in-and-in-bred seaman, who, when one resource failed, invariably set about the next best visible expedient. We were at a loss, however, whether to make an effort to get rid of the foremast, or not. With the exception of the damages it did on the forecastle, it was of use to us, keeping the ship's bow up to the wind, and making better weather for us, on deck. The after-masts standing, while those forward were gone, had the effect to press the stern of the vessel to leeward, while this support in the water prevented her bows from falling off, and we rode much nearer to the wind, than is usual with a ship that is lying-to. It is true, the outer end of the fallen spars began to drive to leeward; and, acting as a long lever, they were gradually working the broken end of the foremast athwart the forecastle, ripping and tearing away everything on the gunwale, and threatening the foot of the main-stay. This made it desirable to be rid of the wreck, while on the other hand, there was the danger of the ship's bottom beating against the end of the mast, did the latter get overboard. Under all these circumstances, however, we determined to cut as much of the gear as possible, and let the fallen spars work themselves clear of us, if they could. Our job was by no means easy. It was difficult to stand, even, on the deck of the Dawn, in a time like that; and this difficulty was greatly increased forward, by having so little to hold on by. But work we did, and in a way that cleared most of the rigging from the ship, in the course of the next half hour. We were encouraged by the appearances of the weather too, the gale having broken, and promising to abate. The ship grew a little easier, I thought, and we moved about with more confidence of not being washed away by the seas that came on board us. After a time, we took some refreshments, eating the remains of a former meal, and cheered our hearts a little with a glass or two of good Sherry. Temperance may be very useful, but so is a glass of good wine, when properly used. Then we went at it, again, working with a will and with spirit. The wreck aft wanted very little to carry it over the side, and going aloft with an axe, I watched my opportunity, cut one or two of the shrouds and stays, just as the ship lurched heavily to leeward, and got rid of the whole in the sea handsomely, without further injury to the ship. This was a good deliverance, the manner in which the spars had threshed about, having menaced our lives, before. We now attacked the wreck forward, for the last time, feeling certain we should get it adrift, could we sever the connection formed by one or two of the larger ropes. The lee-shrouds, in particular, gave us trouble, it being impossible to get at them, in-board, the fore channels being half the time under water and the bulwarks in their wake being all gone. It was, in fact, impossible to stand there to work long enough to clear, or cut, all the lanyards. Marble was an adventurous fellow aloft, on all occasions; and seeing good footing about the top, without saying a word to me, he seized an axe, and literally ran out on the mast, where he began to cut the collars of the rigging at the mast-head. This was soon done; but the spars were no sooner clear, than, impelled by a wave that nearly drowned the mate, the end of the foremast slid off the forecastle into the sea, leaving the ship virtually clear of the wreck, but my mate adrift on the last; I say virtually clear, for the lee fore-top-sail-brace still remained fast to the ship, by some oversight in clearing away the smaller ropes. The effect of this restraint was to cause the whole body of the wreck to swing slowly round, until it rode by this rope, alone.

Here was a new and a most serious state of things! I knew that my mate would do all that man could perform, situated as he was, but what man could swim against such a sea, even the short distance that interposed between the, spars and the ship? The point of the wreck nearest the vessel, was the end of the top-sail-yard, to which the brace led, and this was raised from the water by the strain (the other end of the brace leading aloft), fathoms at a time, rendering it extremely difficult for Marble to reach the rope, by means of which I could now see, notwithstanding all the difficulties, he hoped to regain the vessel. The voice could be heard by one directly to leeward, the howling of the winds and the roar of the waters having materially lessened within the last few hours. I shouted to Marble, therefore, my intentions--

"Stand by to get the brace as I ease it off, in-board," I cried; "then you will be safe!"

The mate understood me, giving a gesture of assent with his arm. When both were ready, I eased off the rope suddenly, and Marble, partly by crawling, and partly by floating and dragging himself by the hands, actually got to the yard-arm, which was immediately raised from the water, however, by the drift made by the spars, while he was achieving his object. I trembled as I saw this stout seaman, the water dripping from his clothes, thus elevated in the air, with the angry billows rolling beneath him, like lions leaping upward to catch the adventurer in their grasp. Marble's hand was actually extended to reach the brace, when its block gave way with the strain. The eye of the strap slipping from the yard, down went the spar into the water. Next the trough of the sea hid everything from my sight, and I was left in the most painful doubt of the result, when I perceived the mate lashing himself to the top, as the portion of the wreck that floated the most buoyantly. He had managed to get in again, and coolly went to work to secure himself in the best berth he could find, the instant he regained the main mass of the wreck. As he rose on the crest of a sea, the poor fellow made a gesture of adieu to me; the leave-taking of the mariner!

In this manner did it please Divine Providence to separate us four, who had already gone through so much in company! With what moody melancholy did I watch the wreck, as it slowly drifted from the ship. I no longer thought of making further efforts to save the Dawn, and I can truly say, that scarce a thought in connection with my own life, crossed my mind. There I stood for quite an hour, leaning against the foot of the mizen-mast, with folded arms and riveted eyes, regardless of the pitches, and lurches, and rolling of the ship, with all my faculties and thoughts fastened on the form of Marble, expecting each time that the top rose to view to find it empty. He was too securely lashed, however, to strike adrift, though he was nearly half the time under water. It was impossible to do anything to save him. No boat was left; had there been one, it could not have lived, nor could I have managed it alone. Spars he had already, but what must become of him without food or water? I threw two breakers of the last into the sea, and a box of bread, in a sort of idle hope they might drift down near the wreck, and help to prolong the sufferer's life. They were all tossed about in the cauldron of the ocean, and disappeared to leeward, I knew not whither. When Marble was no longer visible from deck, I went into the main-top and watched the mass of spars and rigging, so long as any portion of it could be seen. Then I set it by compass, in order to know its bearing, and an hour before the sun went down, or as soon as the diminished power of the wind would permit, I showed an ensign aloft, as a signal that I bore my mate in mind.

"He knows I will not desert him as long as there is hope--so long as I have life!" I muttered to myself; and this thought was a relief to my mind, in that bitter moment.

Bitter moment, truly! Time has scarcely lessened the keenness of the sensations I endured, as memory traces the feelings and incidents of that day. From the hour when I sailed from home, Lucy's image was seldom absent from my imagination, ten minutes at a time; I thought of her, sleeping and waking; in all my troubles; the interest of the sea-fight I had seen could not prevent this recurrence of my ideas to their polar star, their powerful magnet; but I do not remember to have thought of Lucy, even, once after Marble was thus carried away from my side. Neb, too, with his patient servitude, his virtues, his faults, his dauntless courage, his unbounded devotion to myself, had taken a strong hold on my heart, and his loss had greatly troubled me, since the time it occurred. But I remember to have thought much of Lucy, even after Neb was swept away, though her image became temporarily lost to my mind, during the first few hours I was thus separated from Marble.

By the time the sun set, the wind had so far abated, and the sea had gone down so much, as to remove all further apprehensions from the gale. The ship lay-to easily, and I had no occasion to give myself any trouble on her account. Had there been light, I should now have put the helm up, and run to leeward, in the hope of finding the spars, and at least of keeping near Marble; but, fearful of passing him in the darkness, I deferred that duty until the morning. All I could do was to watch the weather, in order to make this effort, before the wind should shift.

What a night I passed! As soon as it was dark, I sounded the pumps, and found six feet water in the hold. It was idle for one man to attempt clearing a vessel of the Dawn's size; and I gave myself no further thought in the matter. So much injury had been done the upper works of the ship, that I had a sort of conviction she must go down, unless fallen in with by some other craft. I cannot say apprehension for my own fate troubled me any, or that I thought of the rum to my fortunes that was involved in the loss of the ship. My mind reverted constantly to my companions; could I have recovered them, I should have been happy, for a time, at least.

I slept two or three hours, towards morning, overcome will fatigue. When I awoke, it was in consequence of receiving the sun's rays in my face. Springing to my feet, I cast a confused and hurried glance around me. The wind was still at north-east, but it barely blew a good whole-sail breeze. The sea had gone down, to the regular roll of the ocean; and a finer day never shone upon the Atlantic. I hurried eagerly on deck, and gazed on the ocean to leeward, with longing eyes, to ascertain if anything could be seen of the wreck of our spars. Nothing was visible. From the main-top, I could command a pretty wide horizon; but the ocean lay a bright, glittering blank, the crests of its own waves excepted. I felt certain the Dawn was so weatherly, that the spars were to leeward; but the ship must have forged miles ahead, during the last twelve hours; and there was almost the equal certainty of her being a long distance to the southward of the floating hamper, her head having lain in that direction since the time she broached-to. To get her off before the wind, then, was my first concern, after which I could endeavour to force her to the northward, running the chance of falling in with the spars. Could I find my mate, we might still die together, which would hove been a melancholy consolation just then.

Chapter XXII.

Father of all! In every age,
In every clime, adored;
By saint, by savage, or by sage--
Jehovah! Jove! or Lord!

Pope.

Feeling the necessity of possessing all my strength I ate a breakfast before I commenced work. It was with a heavy heart, and but little appetite, that I took this solitary meal; but I felt that its effects were good. When finished, I knelt on the deck, and prayed to God, fervently, asking his divine assistance in my extremity. Why should an old man, whose race is nearly run, hesitate to own, that in the pride of his youth and strength, he was made to feel how insufficient we all are for our wants? Yes, I prayed; and I hope in a fitting spirit, for I felt that this spiritual sustenance did me even more good than the material of which I had just before partaken. When I rose from my knees, it was with a sense of hope, that I endeavoured to suppress a little, as both unreasonable and dangerous. Perhaps the spirit of my sainted sister was permitted to look down on me, in that awful strait, and to offer up its own pure petitions in behalf of a brother she had so warmly loved. I began to feel myself less alone, and the work advanced the better from this mysterious sort of consciousness of the presence of the souls of those who had felt an interest in me, while in the body.

My first measure was to lead the jib-stay, which had parted near the head of its own mast, to the head of the main-mast. This I did by bending on a piece of another rope. I then got up the halyards, and loosened and set the jib; a job that consumed quite two hours. Of course, this sail did not set very well, but it was the only mode I had of getting forward canvass on the ship at all. As soon as the jib was set, in this imperfect manner, I put the helm up, and got the ship before the wind. I then hauled out the spanker, and gave it sheet. By these means, aided by the action of the breeze on the hull and spars, I succeeded in getting something like three knots' way on the ship, keeping off a little northerly, in which direction I felt sensible it was necessary to proceed in quest of the spars. I estimated the drift of the wreck at a knot an hour, including the good and moderate weather; and, allowing for that of the ship itself, I supposed it must be, by that time, some twelve miles to leeward of me. These twelve miles I managed to run by noon, when I hauled up sufficiently to bring the wind abeam, heading northwardly. As the ship would now steer herself, that is as small as it was necessary for me to go, I collected some food, took a glass, and went up into the main-top, to dine, and to examine the ocean.

The anxious, anxious hours I passed in that top! Not an object of any sort appeared on the surface of the wide ocean. It seemed as if the birds and the fishes had abandoned me to my loneliness. I watched and examined the surrounding sea, until my hands were tired with holding the glass, and my eyes became weary with their office. Fortunately, the breeze stood, though the sea went down fast; giving me every opportunity I could desire of effecting my object. The ship yawed about a good deal, it is true; but, on the whole, she made a very tolerable course. I could see by the water that she had a motion of about two knots, for most of the time; though, as the day advanced, the wind began to fall, and her rate of going diminished quite one half.

At length, after passing hours aloft, I went below, to look after things there. On sounding the pumps, I found ten feet water in the hold; though the upper works were now not at all submerged, and the motion of the vessel was very easy. That the Dawn was gradually sinking under me, was a fact too evident to be denied; and all the concerns of thir life began to narrow into a circle of some four-and-twenty hours. That time the ship would probably float,--possibly a little longer, should the weather continue moderate. The wind was decreasing still, and, thinking I might have a tranquil night, I determined to pass that time in preparing for the last great change. I had no will to make--little to leave, indeed, after my vessel was gone: for the debt due to John Wallingford would go far towards absorbing all my property. When his $40,000 were paid, under a forced sale, little, indeed, would be the residue.

The state of things would have been somewhat different, under a fair sale, perhaps; but a forced sale would probably sweep away everything. It is true my creditor was my heir; for, a legacy to Lucy and a few bequests to my slaves excepted, I had fairly bequeathed all I owned to my cousin. As for the blacks themselves, under the new policy of New York, they would soon be free; and I had no other interest in their fate than that of habit and affection.

But why speak of property, in the situation in which I was placed? Had I owned the whole of Ulster county, my wishes, or any new will I might make, must die with me. The ocean would soon engulf the whole. Had I no desire to make an effort to save myself, or at least to prolong my existence, by means of a raft?--of boat, there was none in the ship. The English had the yawl, and the launch had been driven away. The spare spars were swept overboard, as well as all the water-casks that had been lashed on deck. I might have done something with the hatches, and mizen-top-mast, possibly, could I have gotten the last into the water; but the expedient was so desperate, it did not hold out any hopes to be encouraged. Even the handspikes had gone in the launch, and two of the buoys had been left with the anchors, on the Irish coast. Under all the circumstances, it appeared to me, that it would be more manly and resigned, to meet my fate at once, than to attempt any such feeble projects to prolong existence for a few hours. I came to the resolution, therefore, to go down in my ship.

What was there to make life particularly dear to me?--My home, my much-beloved Clawbonny, must go, at all events; and I will own that a feeling of bitter distrust crossed my mind, as I thought of these things, and that I began to fancy John Wallingford might have urged me to borrow his money, expressly to obtain a chance of seizing an estate that was so much prized by every Wallingford. I suppressed this feeling, however; and in a clear voice I asked my cousin's pardon, the same as if he had been within hearing. Of Lucy, I had no longer any hope;--Grace was already in heaven; and the world contained few that cared for me. After Mr. Hardinge, Lucy always excepted I now loved Marble and Neb the most; and these two were probably both dead, or doomed, like myself. We must all yield up our lives once; and, though my hour came rather early, it should be met as a man meets everything, even to death itself. Some time before the sun set, I went aloft to take a last look at the ocean. I do not think any desire to prolong my existence carried me up the mast, but there was a lingering wish to look after my mate. The ocean beamed gloriously that eventide, and I fancied that it was faintly reflecting the gracious countenance of its divine Creator, in a smile of beneficent love. I felt my heart soften, as I gazed around me, and I fancied heavenly music was singing the praises of God, on the face of the great deep. Then I knelt in the top, and prayed.

Rising, I looked at the ocean, as I supposed, for the last time. Not a sail was anywhere to be seen. I cannot say that I felt disappointed;--I did not expect relief from that quarter. My object was, to find my mate, that we might die together. Slowly I raised the glass, and the horizon was swept with deliberation. Nothing appeared. I had shut the glass, and was about to sling it, when my eye caught the appearance of something floating on the surface of the ocean, within a mile of the ship; well to leeward, and ahead. I had overlooked it, in consequence of ranging above it with the glass, in the desire to sweep the horizon. I could not be mistaken: it was the wreck. In a moment the glass was levelled, and I assured myself of the fact. The top was plainly visible, floating quite high above the surface, and portions of the yards and masts were occasionally seen, as the undulations of the ocean left them bare. I saw an object, lying motionless across the top-rim, which I supposed to be Marble. He was either dead or asleep.

What a revulsion of feeling came over me at this sight! A minute before, and I was completely isolated; cut off from the rest of my species, and resigned to a fate that seemed to command my quitting this state of being, without further communion with mankind. Everything was changed. Here was the companion of so many former dangers, the man who had taught me my profession, one that I can truly say I loved, quite near me, and possibly dying for the want of that aid which I might render! I was on deck in the twinkling of an eye; the sheets were eased off, and the helm put up. Obedient to my wishes, the ship fell off, and I soon got a glimpse, from the spot where I stood, at the wheel, of the wreck a little clear of the weather cat-head. By this time, the wind was so light, and the ship had got to be so deep in the water, that the motion of the last was very slow. Even with the helm up, it scarce equalled half a knot; I began to fear I should not be able to reach my goal, after all!

There were, now, intervals of dead calm; then the air would return in little puffs, urging the great mass heavily onward. I whistled, I prayed, I called aloud for wind; in short, I adopted all the expedients known, from that of the most vulgar nautical superstition, up to profound petitions to the Father of Mercies. I presume all this brought no change, though the passage of time did. About half an hour before the sun dipped into the ocean, the ship was within a hundred yards of the wreck. This I could ascertain by stolen glances, for the direction I was now compelled to steer, placed the forward part of the ship between me and my object, and I did not dare quit the wheel to go forward, lest I should miss it altogether. I had prepared a grapnel, by placing a small kedge in the lee-waist, with a hawser bent, and, could I come within a few feet of the floating hamper, I felt confident of being able to hook into something. It appeared to me, now, as if the ship absolutely refused to move. Go ahead she did, notwithstanding, though it was only her own length in five or six minutes. My hasty glances told me that two more of these lengths would effect my purpose. I scarce breathed, lest the vessel should not be steered with sufficient accuracy. It was strange to me that Marble did not hail, and, fancying him asleep, I shouted with all my energy, in order to arouse him. 'What a joyful sound that will be in his ears,' I thought to myself, though to me, my own voice seemed unearthly and alarming. No answer came. Then I felt a slight shock, as if the cut-water had hit something, and a low scraping sound against the copper announced that the ship had hit the wreck. Quitting the wheel, I sprang into the waist, raising the kedge in my arms. Then came the upper spars wheeling strongly round, under the pressure of the vessel's bottom against the extremity of the lower mast. I saw nothing but the great maze of hamper and wreck, and could scarcely breathe in the anxiety not to miss my aim. There was much reason to fear the whole mass would float off, leaving me no chance of throwing the kedge, for the smaller masts no longer inclined in, and I could see that the ship and wreck were slowly separating. A low thump on the bottom, directly beneath me, drew my head over the side, and I found the fore-yard, as it might be, a cock-bill, with one end actually scraping along the ship's bottom. It was the only chance I had, or was likely to have, and I threw the kedge athwart it. Luckily, the hawser as it tautened, brought a fluke directly under the yard, within the Flemish horse, the brace-block, and all the other ropes that are fitted to a lower yard-arm. So slow was the motion of the ship, that my grapnel held, and the entire body of the wreck began to yield to the pressure. I now jumped to the jib-halyards and down-haul, getting that sail reduced; then I half-brailed the spanker; this was done lest my hold on the yard should give way.

I can say, that up to this instant, I had not even looked for Marble. So intense had been my apprehensions of missing the wreck, that I thought of nothing else, could see nothing else. Satisfied, however, that my fast would hold, I ran forward to look down on the top, that the strain of the hawser had brought directly under the very bow, over which it had fallen. It was empty! The object I had mistaken for Marble, dead or asleep, was a part of the bunt of the main-top-sail, that had been hauled down over the top-rim, and secured there, either to form a sort of shelter against the breaking seas, or a bed. Whatever may have been the intention of this nest, it no longer had an occupant. Marble had probably been washed away, in one of his adventurous efforts to make himself more secure or more comfortable.

The disappointment that came over me, as I ascertained this fact, was scarcely less painful than the anguish I had felt when I first saw my mate carried off into the ocean There would have been a melancholy satisfaction in finding his body, that we might have gone to the bottom together, at least, and thus have slept in a common grave, in the depths of that ocean over which we had sailed so many thousands of leagues in company. I went and threw myself on the deck, regardless of my own fate, and wept in very bitterness of heart. I had arranged a mattress on the quarter-deck, and it was on that I now threw myself. Fatigue overcame me, in the end, and I fell into a deep sleep. As my recollection left me, my last thought was that I should go down with the ship, as I lay there. So complete was the triumph of nature, that I did not even dream. I do not remember ever to have enjoyed more profound and refreshing slumbers; slumbers that continued until returning light awoke me. To that night's rest I am probably indebted, under God, for having the means of relating these adventures.

It is scarcely necessary to say that the night had been tranquil; otherwise, a seaman's ears would have given him the alarm. When I arose, I found the ocean glittering like a mirror, with no other motion than that which has so often been likened to the slumbering respiration of some huge animal. The wreck was thumping against the ship's bottom, announcing its presence, before I left the mattress. Of wind there was literally not a breath. Once in a while, the ship would seem to come up to breathe, as a heavy groundswell rolled along her sides, and the wash of the element told the circumstance of such a visit; else, all was as still as the ocean in its infancy. I knelt, again, and prayed to that dread Being, with whom, it now appeared to me, I stood alone, in the centre of the universe.

Down to the moment when I arose from my knees, the thought of making an effort to save myself, or to try to prolong existence a few hours, by means of the wreck, did not occur to me. But, when I came to look about me, to note the tranquil condition of the ocean, and to heed the chances, small as they were, that offered, the love of life was renewed within me, and I seriously set about the measures necessary to such an end.

The first step was to sound the pumps, anew. The water had not gained in the night as rapidly as it had gained throughout the preceding day. But it had gained; there being three feet more of it than when I last sounded--the infallible evidence of the existence of a leak that no means of mine could stop. It was, then, hopeless to think of saving the ship. She had settled in the water, already, so as to bring the lower bolts of both fore and main channels awash; and I supposed she might float for four-and-twenty hours longer, unless an injury that I had discovered under the larboard cat-head, and which had been received from the wreck, should sooner get under water. It appeared to me that a butt had been started there: such a leak would certainly hasten the fate of the vessel by some hours, should it come fairly into the account.

Having made this calculation as to the time I had to do it in, I set seriously about the job of making provisions with my raft. In one or two particulars, I could not much improve the latter; for, the yards lying underneath the masts, it rendered the last as buoyant as was desirable in moderate weather. It struck me, however, that by getting the top-gallant and royal masts, with their yards, in, around the top, I might rig a staging, with the aid of the hatches, that would not only keep me entirely out of water, in mild weather, but which would contain all one man could consume, in the way of victuals and drink, for a month to come. To this object, then, I next gave my attention.

I had no great difficulty in getting the spars I have mentioned, loose, and in hauling them alongside of the top. It was a job that required time, rather than strength; for my movements were greatly facilitated by the presence of the top-mast rigging, which remained in its place, almost as taut as when upright. The other rigging I cut, and having got out the fids of the two masts, one at a time, I pushed the spars through their respective caps with a foot. Of course, I was obliged to get into the water to work; but I had thrown aside most of my clothes for the occasion, and the weather being warm, I felt greatly refreshed with my bath. In two hours' time, I had my top-gallant-mast and yard well secured to the top-rim and the caps, having sawed them in pieces for the purpose. The fastenings were both spikes and lashings, the carpenter's stores furnishing plenty of the former, as well as all sorts of tools.

This part of the arrangement completed, I ate a hearty breakfast, when I began to secure the hatches, as a sort of floor, on my primitive joists. This was not difficult, the hatches being long, and the rings enabling me to lash them, as well as to spike them. Long before the sun had reached the meridian, I had a stout little platform, that was quite eighteen inches above the water, and which was surrounded by a species of low ridge-ropes, so placed as to keep articles from readily tumbling off it. The next measure was to cut all the sails from the yards, and to cut loose all the rigging and iron that did not serve to keep the wreck together. The reader can easily imagine how much more buoyancy I obtained by these expedients. The fore-sail alone weighed much more than I did myself, with all the stores I might have occasion to put on my platform. As for the fore-top-sail, there was little of it left, the canvass having mostly blown from the yard, before the mast went.

My raft was completed by the time I felt the want of dinner; and a very good raft it was. The platform was about ten feet square, and it now floated quite two feet clear of the water. This was not much for a sea; but, after the late violent gale, I had some reason to expect a continuation of comparatively good weather. I should not have been a true seaman not to have bethought me of a mast and a sail. I saved the fore-royal-mast, and the yard, with its canvass, for such a purpose; determining to rig them when I had nothing else to do. I then ate my dinner, which consisted of the remnants of the old cold meat and fowls I could find among the cabin eatables.

This meal taken, the duty that came next was to provision my raft. It took but little time or labour. The cabin stores were quite accessible; and a bag of pilot-bread, another of that peculiarly American invention, called crackers--some smoked beef, a case of liquors, and two breakers of water, formed my principal stock. To this I added a pot of butter, with some capital smoked herrings, and some anchovies. We lived well in the cabin of the Dawn, and there was no difficulty in making all the provision that six or eight men would have needed for a month. Perceiving that the raft, now it was relieved from the weight of the sails and rigging, was not much affected by the stores, I began to look about me in quest of anything valuable I might wish to save. The preparations I had been making created a sort of confidence in their success; a confidence (hope might be the better word) that was as natural, perhaps, as it was unreasonable. I examined the different objects that offered, with a critical comparison of their value and future usefulness, that would have been absurd, had it not afforded a melancholy proof of the tenacity of our desires in matters of this nature. It is certainly a sad thing to abandon a ship, at sea, with all her appliances, and with a knowledge of the gold that she cost. The Dawn, with her cargo, must have stood me in eighty thousand dollars, or even more; and here was I about to quit her, out on the ocean, with an almost moral certainty that not a cent of the money could be, or would be, recovered from the insurers. These last only took risks against the accidents of the ocean, fire included; and there was a legal obligation on the insured to see that the vessel was properly found and manned. It was my own opinion that no accident would have occurred to the ship, in the late gale, had the full crew been on board; and that the ship was not sufficiently manned was, in a legal sense my own fault. I was bound to let the English carry her into port, and to await judgment,--the law supposing that justice would have been done in the premises. The law might have been greatly mistaken in this respect; but potentates never acknowledge their blunders. If I was wronged in the detention, the law presumed suitable damages. It is true, I might be ruined by the delay, through the debts left behind me; but the law, with all its purity, cared nothing for that. Could I have shown a loss by means of a falling market, I might have obtained redress, provided the court chose to award it, and provided the party did not appeal; or, if he did, that the subsequent decisions supported the first; and provided,--all the decrees being in my favour,--my Lord Harry Dermond could have paid a few thousands in damages:--a problem to be solved, in itself.

I always carried to sea with me a handsome chest, that I had bought in one of my earlier voyages, and which usually contained my money, clothes and other valuables. This chest I managed to get on deck, by the aid of a purchase, and over the ship's side, on the raft. It was much the most troublesome task I had undertaken. To this I added my writing-desk, a mattress, two or three counterpanes, and a few other light articles, which it struck me might be of use--but, which I could cast into the sea at any moment, should it become necessary. When all this was done, I conceived that my useful preparations were closed.

It was near night, and I felt sufficiently fatigued to lie down and sleep. The water had gained very slowly during the last few hours, but the ship was now swimming so low, that I thought it unsafe to remain in the vessel, while asleep. I determined, therefore, to take my leave of her, and go on the raft for that purpose. It struck me too, it might be unsafe to be too near the vessel when she went down, and I had barely time to get the spars a short distance from the ship, before darkness would come. Still, I was unwilling to abandon the Dawn altogether, since the spars that stood on board her, would always be a more available signal to any passing vessel, than the low sail I could set on the raft. Should she float during the succeeding day, they would increase the chances of a rescue, and they offered an advantage not to be lightly thrown away.

To force the spars away from the ship was not an easy task of itself. There is an attraction in matter, that is known to bring vessels nearer together in calms, and I had this principle of nature first to overcome; then to neutralize it, without the adequate means for doing either. Still I was very strong, and possessed all the resources of a seaman. The raft, too, now its length was reduced, was much more manageable than it had been originally, and in rummaging about the twixt-decks, I had found a set of oars belonging to the launch, which had been stowed in the steerage, and which of course were preserved. These I had taken to the raft, to strengthen my staging, or deck, and two of them had been reserved for the very purpose to which they were now applied.

Cutting away the kedge, then, and casting off the other ropes I had used with which to breast-to the raft, I began to shove off, just as the sun was dipping. So long as I could pull by the ship, I did very well, for I adopted the expedient of hauling astern, instead of pushing broad off, under the notion that I might get a better drift, if quite from under the lee of the vessel, than if lying on her broadside. I say the 'lee,' though there wasn't a breath of air, nor scarcely any motion of the water. I had a line fast to a stern-davit, and placing myself with my feet braced against the chest, I soon overcame the vis inertia of the spars, and, exerting all my force, when it was once in motion, I succeeded in giving the raft an impetus that carried it completely past the ship. I confess I felt no personal apprehension from the suction, supposing the ship to sink while the raft was in absolute contact with it, but the agitation of the water might weaken its parts, or it might wash most of my stores away. This last consideration induced me, now, to go to work with the oars, and try to do all I could, by that mode of propelling my dull craft. I worked hard just one hour, by my watch; at the expiration of that time, the nearest end of the raft, or the lower part of the foremast, was about a hundred yards from the Dawn's taffrail. This was a slow movement, and did not fail to satisfy me, that, if I were to be saved at all, it would be by means of some passing vessel, and not by my own progress.

Overcome by fatigue, I now lay down and slept. I took no precautions against the wind's rising in the night; firstly, because I thought it impossible from the tranquil aspects of the heavens and the ocean; and secondly, because I felt no doubt that the wash of the water and the sound of the winds would arouse me, should it occur differently. As on the previous night, I slept sweetly, and obtained renewed strength for any future trials. As on the preceding morning, too, I was awaked by the warm rays of the rising sun falling on my face. On first awaking, I did not know exactly where I was. A moment's reflection, however, sufficed to recall the past to my mind, and I turned to examine my actual situation.

I looked for the ship, towards the end of the mast, or in the direction where I had last seen her; but she was not visible. The raft had swung round in the night, I thought, and I bent my eyes slowly round the entire circle of the horizon, but no ship was to be seen. The Dawn had sunk in the night, and so quietly as to give no alarm! I shuddered, for I could not but imagine what would have been my fate, had I been aroused from the sleep of the living, only to experience the last agony as I passed away into the sleep of the dead. I cannot describe the sensation that came over me, as I gazed around, and found myself on the broad ocean, floating on a little deck that was only ten feet square, and which was raised less than two feet above the surface of the waters. It was now that I felt the true frailty of my position, and comprehended all its dangers. Before, it had been shaded by the ship, as it might be, and I had found a species of protection in her presence. But, the whole truth now stood before me. Even a moderate breeze would raise a sea that could not fail to break over the staging, and which must sweep everything away. The spars had a specific lightness, it is true, and they would never sink; or, if they did sink, it would only be at the end of ages, when saturated with water and covered with barnacles; but, on the other hand, they possessed none of the buoyancy of a vessel, and could riot rise above the rolling waters, sufficiently to clear their breakers.

These were not comfortable reflections; they pressed on my mind even while engaged at my morning devotions. After performing, in the best manner I could, this never-ceasing duty, I ate a little, though I must admit it was with a small appetite. Then I made the best stowage I could of my effects, and rigged and stepped the mast, hoisting the sail, as a signal to any vessel that might appear. I expected wind ere long; nor was I disappointed; a moderate breeze springing up from the north-west, about nine o'clock. This air was an immense relief to me, in more ways than one. It cooled my person, which was suffering from the intense heat of a summer's sun beating directly on a boundless expanse of water, and it varied a scene that otherwise possessed an oppressively wearisome sameness. Unfortunately this breeze met me in the bows; for I had stepped my mast in the foremast, lashed it against the bottom of the top, which it will be remembered was now perpendicular, and stayed it to the mast-heads and dead-eyes of the top-mast rigging, all of which remained as when erect, though now floating on the water. I intended the fractured part of the foremast for my cut-water, and, of course, had to ware ship before I could gather any way. This single manoeuvre occupied a quarter of an hour, my braces, tacks, and sheets not working particularly well. At the end of that time, however, I got round, and laid my yard square.

Chapter XXIII.

"There was speech in their dumbness, language in their very gesture; they looked, as they had heard of a world ransomed, or one destroyed: A notable passion of wonder appeared in them; but the wisest beholder, that knew no more but seeing, could not say, if the importance were joy, or sorrow;--but in the extremity of the one, it must needs be."

Winter's Tale.

As soon as the raft got fairly before the wind, and the breeze had freshened, I had an opportunity of ascertaining what it would do. The royal was a large one, and it stood well. I had brought a log-line and the slow-glass with me, as well as my quadrant, slate, &c., and began to think of keeping a reckoning. I had supposed the ship to be, when it fell calm, about two hundred miles from the land, and I knew her to be in latitude 48° 37″. The log-line told me, the raft moved through the water, all that forenoon, at the rate of about half a knot in the hour; and could I keep on for fifteen or sixteen days, in a straight course, I might yet hope to get ashore. I was not so weak, however, as to expect any such miracle to be wrought in my favour, though, had I been in the trades, the thing might have occurred. By cutting adrift the two yards, or by getting them fore and aft, in a line with the water, my rate of sailing might be doubled; and I began seriously to think of effecting this great change. Cut the yards adrift I did not like to do, their support in keeping me out of water being very important. By hauling on the lift, I did get them in a more oblique position, and in a measure thus lessened their resistance to the element. I thought that even this improvement made a difference of half a knot in my movement. Nevertheless, it was tedious work to be a whole hour in going less than a single mile, when two hundred remained to be travelled, and the risks of the ocean were thus constantly impending over one!

What a day was that! It blew pretty fresh at one time, and I began to tremble for my staging, or deck, which got washed several times, though the top-sail-yard made for it a sort of lee, and helped to protect it. Towards the decline of the day, the wind went down, and at sunset everything was as tranquil as it had been the previous evening. I thought I might have been eight or nine miles from the spot where the Dawn went down, without computing the influence of the currents, which may have set me all that distance back again, or so much further ahead, for anything I knew of the matter. At sunset I took an anxious survey of the horizon, to see if any sail were in sight; but nothing was visible.

Another tranquil night gave me another tranquil night's rest. I call the last tranquil, as it proved to be in one sense, though I was sorely troubled with dreams. Had I been suffering for nourishment, I certainly should have dreamed of food; but, such not being the case, my thoughts took the direction of home and friends. Much of the time, I lay half asleep and half awake; then my mind would revert to my sister, to Lucy, to Mr. Hardinge, and to Clawbonny--which I fancied already in the possession of John Wallingford, who was triumphing in his ownership, and the success of his arts. Then I thought Lucy had purchased the place, and was living there with Andrew Drewett, in a handsome new house, built in the modern taste. By modern taste, I do not mean one of the Grecian-temple school, as I do no think that even all the vagaries of a diseased imagination that was suffering under the calamities of shipwreck, could induce me to imagine Lucy Hardinge silly enough to desire to live in such a structure.

Towards morning, I fell into a doze, the fourth or fifth renewal of my slumbers that night; and I remember that I had that sort of curious sensation which apprises us itself, it was a dream. In the course of the events that passed through my mind, I fancied I overheard Marble and Neb conversing. Their voices were low, and solemn, as I thought; and the words so distinct, that I still remember every syllable.

"No, Neb," said Marble, or seemed to say, in a most sorrowful tone, one I had never heard him use even in speaking of his hermitage. "There is little hope for Miles, now. I felt as if the poor boy was lost when I saw him swept away from me, by them bloody spars striking adrift, and set him down as one gone from that moment. You've lost an A. No. 1. master, Mister Neb, I can tell you, and you may sarve a hundred before you fall in with his like ag'in."

"I nebber sarve anoder gentleum; Misser Marble," returned the black; "dat as sartain as gospel. I born in 'e Wallingford family, and I lib an' die in 'e same family, or I don't want to lib and die, at all. My real name be Wallingford, dough folk do call me Clawbonny."

"Ay, and a slim family it's got to be!" rejoined the mate. "The nicest, and the handsomest, and the most virtuous young woman in all York State, is gone out of it, first: I knew but little of her; but, how often did poor Miles tell me all about her; and how he loved her, and how she loved him, and the like of all that, as is becoming; and something in the way that I love little Kitty, my niece you know, Neb, only a thousand times more; and hearing so much of a person is all the same, or even better than to know them up and down, if a body wants to feel respect with all his heart. Secondly, as a person would say, now there's Miles, lost too, for the ship is sartainly gone down, Neb: otherwise, she would have been seen floating hereabouts, and we may log him as a man lost overboard."

"P'rhaps not, Misser Marble," said the negro. "Masser Mile swim like a fish, and he isn't the gentleum to give up as soon as trouble come. P'rhaps he swimming about all dis time."

"Miles could do all that man could do, Neb, but he can't swim two hundred miles--a South sea-man might do something like that, I do suppose, but they're onaccountably web-footed. No, no, Neb; I fear we shall have to give him up. Providence swept him away from us, like, and we've lost him. Ah's me!--well, I loved that boy better, even, than a Yankee loves cucumbers."

This may be thought an odd comparison to cross a drowsy imagination, but it was one Marble often made; and if eating the fruit, morning, noon and night, will vindicate its justice, the mate stood exonerated from everything like exaggeration.

"Ebbry body lub Masser Mile," said the warm-hearted Neb, or I thought he so said. "I nebber see dat we can go home to good old Masser Hardinge, and tell him how we lose Masser Mile!"

"It will be a hard job, Neb, but I greatly fear it must be done. However, we will now turn in and try to catch a nap, for the wind will be rising one of these times, and then we shall have need of keeping our eyes wide open." After this I heard no more; but every word of that which I have related, sounded as plainly in my ears as if the speakers were within fifty feet of me. I lay in the same state, some time longer, endeavouring, as I was curious myself, of catching, or fancying, more words from those I loved so well; but no more came. Then I believe I fell into a deeper sleep, for I remember no more, for hours.

At dawn I awoke, the care on my mind answering for a call. This time, I did not wait for the sun to shine in my eyes, but, of the two, I rather preceded, than awaited the return of the light. On standing erect, I found the sea as tranquil as it had been the previous night, and there was an entire calm. It was still so dusky that a little examination was necessary to be certain nothing was near. The horizon was scarcely clear, though, making my first look towards the east, objects were plainest in that quarter of the ocean. I then turned slowly round, examining the vast expanse of water as I did so; until my back was towards the approaching light, and I faced the west. I thought I saw a boat within ten yards of me! At first, I took it for illusion, and rubbed my eyes to make sure that I was awake. There it was, however, and another look satisfied me it was my own launch, or that in which poor Neb had been carried overboard. What was more, it was floating in the proper manner, appeared buoyant, and had two masts rigged. It is true, that it looked dusky, as objects appear just at dawn, but it was sufficiently distinct. I could not be mistaken; it was my own launch thus thrown within my reach by the mercy of divine Providence!

This boat, then, had survived the gale, and the winds and currents had brought it and the raft together. What had become of Neb? He must have rigged the masts, for none were stepped, of course, when the boat was in the chocks. Masts, and sails, and oars were always kept in the boat, it is true; but the first could not be stepped without hands. A strange, wild feeling came over me, as a man might be supposed to yield to the appearance of supernatural agencies and, almost without intending it, I shouted "boat ahoy!"

"Yo hoy!" answered Marble;--"who hails?"

The form of the mate appeared rising in the boat; at the next instant, Neb stood at his side. The conversation of the previous night had been real, and those whom I had mourned as lost stood within thirty feet of me, hale, hearty, and unharmed. The boat and raft had approached each other in the darkness; and, as I afterwards learned, the launch having fanned along for several hours of the night, stopped for want of wind nearly where I now saw her, and where the dialogue, part of which I overheard while half asleep, had taken place. Had the launch continued on its course only ten yards further, it would have hit the fore-top-mast. That attraction of which I have already spoken, probably kept the boat and raft near each other throughout the night, and quite likely had been slowly drawing them together while we slept.

It would not be easy to say which party was the most astonished at this recognition. There was Marble, whom I had supposed washed off the raft, safe in the launch; and here was I, whom the other two had thought to have gone down in the ship, safe on the raft! We appeared to have changed places, without concert and without expectation of ever again meeting. Though ignorant of the means through which all this had been brought about, I very well know what we did, as soon as each man was certain that he saw the other standing before him in the flesh. We sat down and wept like three children. Then Neb, too impatient to wait for Marble's movements, threw himself into the sea, and swam to the raft. When he got on the staging, the honest fellow kissed my hands, again and again, blubbering the whole time like a girl of three or four years of age. This scene was interrupted only by the expostulations and proceedings of the mate.

"What's this you're doing, you bloody nigger!" cried Marble. "Desarting your station, and leaving me here, alone, to manage this heavy launch, by myself. It might be the means of losing all hands of us again, should a hurricane spring up suddenly, and wreck us over again."

The truth was, Marble began to be ashamed of the weakness he had betrayed, and was ready to set upon anything, in order to conceal it. Neb put an end to this sally, however, by plunging again into the water, and swimming back to the boat, as readily as he had come to the raft.

"Ay, here you are, Neb, nigger-like, and not knowing whether to stay or to go," growled the mate, busy the whole time in shipping two oars. "You put me in mind of a great singer I once heard in Liverpool; a chap that would keep shaking and quavering at the end of a varse, in such a style that he sometimes did not know whether to let go or to hold on. It is onbecoming in men to forget themselves, Neb; if we have found him we thought to be lost, it is no reason for desarting our stations, or losing our wits--Miles, my dear boy," springing on the raft, and sending Neb adrift again, all alone, by the backward impetus of the leap--"Miles, my dear boy, God be praised for this!" squeezing both my hands as in a vice--"I don't know how it is--but ever since I 've fallen in with my mother and little Kitty, I've got to be womanish. I suppose it's what you call domestic affection."

Here, Marble gave in once more, blubbering just as hard as Neb, himself, had done.

A few minutes later, all three began to know what we were about. The launch was hauled up alongside of the stage, and we sat on the latter, relating the manner in which each of us had been saved. First, then, as to Neb: I have already told the mode in which the launch was swept overboard, and I inferred its loss from the violence of the tempest, and the height of the seas that were raging around us. It is true, neither Marble, nor I, saw anything of the launch after it sunk behind the first hill of water to leeward, for we had too much to attend to on board the ship, to have leisure to look about us. But, it seems the black was enabled to maintain the boat, the right side up, and, by bailing, to keep her afloat. He drove to leeward, of course, and the poor fellow described in vivid terms his sensations, as he saw the rate at which he was driving away from the ship, and the manner in which he lost sight of her remaining spars. As soon as the wind would permit, however, he stepped the masts, and set the two luggs close-reefed, making stretches of three or four miles in length, to windward. This timely decision was the probable means of saving all our lives. In the course of a few hours, after he had got the boat under command, he caught a glimpse of the fore-royal-masts sticking out from the cap of a sea, and watching it eagerly, he next perceived the whole of the raft, as it came up on the same swell, with Marble, half-drowned, lashed to the top. It was quite an hour, before Neb could get near enough to the raft, or spars, to make Marble conscious of his presence, and sometime longer ere he could get the sufferer into the boat. This rescue did not occur one minute too soon, for the mate admitted to me he was half drowned, and that he did not think he could have held out much longer, when Neb took him into the boat.

As for food and water, they fared well enough. A breaker of fresh water was kept in each boat, by my standing orders, and it seems that the cook, who was a bit of an epicure in his way, was in the habit of stowing a bag of bread, and certain choice pieces of beef and pork, in the bows of the launch, for his own special benefit. All these Neb had found, somewhat the worse for salt-water, it is true, but still in a condition to be eaten. There was sufficient in the launch, therefore, when we thus met, to sustain Marble and Neb, in good heart, for a week.

As soon as the mate was got off the raft, he took direction of the launch. Unluckily, he made a long stretch to the northward, intending to tack and cross what he supposed must have been the position of the ship, and come to my relief. While the launch was thus working its way to windward, I fell in with, and took possession of, the raft, as has been described. Marble's calculation was a good one, in the main; but it brought him near the Dawn the night she sank, and the raft and boat were both too low to be seen at any distance, the one from the other. It is probable we were not more than ten or twelve miles asunder the most of the day I was on the raft, Marble putting up his helm to cross the supposed position of the ship, about three in the afternoon. This brought him down upon the raft, about midnight, when the conversation I have related took place, within a few yards of me, neither party having the least notion of the proximity of the other.

I was touched by the manner in which Marble and Neb spoke of my supposed fate. Neither seemed to remember that he was washed away from a ship, but appeared to fancy that I was abandoned alone, on the high seas, in a sinking vessel. While I had been regretting their misfortunes, they had both thought of me as the party to be pitied; each fancying his own fortune more happy than mine. In a word, their concern for me was so great, that they altogether forgot to dwell on the hardships and dangers of their own particular cases. I could not express all I felt on the occasion; but the events of that morning, and the feelings betrayed by my two old shipmates, made an impression on my heart, that time has not, nor ever can, efface. Most men who had been washed overboard, would have fancied themselves the suffering party; but during the remainder of the long intercourse that succeeded, both Marble and Neb always alluded to this occurrence as if I were the person lost and rescued.

We were an hour or more intently occupied in these explanations, before either recollected the future. Then I felt it was time to have some thought for our situation, which was sufficiently precarious, as it was; though Marble and Neb made light of any risks that remained to be run. I was saved, as it might be, by a miracle; and that was all that they could remember, just then. But a breeze sprang up from the eastward, as the sun appeared, and the agitation of the raft soon satisfied me that my berth would have been most precarious, had I not been so providentially relieved. It is true, Marble made light of the present state of things, which, compared to those into which he had been so suddenly launched,--without food, water, or provisions, of any sort,--was a species of paradise. Nevertheless, no time was to be wasted; and we had a long road to travel in the boat, ere we could deem ourselves in the least safe.

My two associates had got the launch in as good order as circumstances would allow. But it wanted ballast to carry sail hard, and they had felt this disadvantage; particularly Neb, when he first got the boat on a wind. I could understand, by his account of the difficulties and dangers he experienced,--though it came out incidentally, and without the smallest design to magnify his own merits,--that nothing but his undying interest in me, could have prevented him from running off before the wind, in order to save his own life. An opportunity now offered to remedy this evil, and we went to work to transfer all the effects I had placed on the stage, to the launch. They made a little cargo that gave her stability at once. As soon as this was done, we entered the boat, made sail, and hauled close on a wind, under reefed luggs; it beginning to blow smartly in puffs.

I did not part from the raft without melancholy regrets. The materials of which it was composed were all that now remained of the Dawn. Then the few hours of jeopardy and loneliness I had passed on it, were not to be forgotten. They still recur vividly to my thoughts with deep, and, I trust, profitable, reflections. The first hour after we cast off, we stood to the southward. The wind continuing to increase in violence, and the sea to get up, until it blew too fresh for the boat to make any headway, or even to hold her own against it, Marble thought he might do better on the other tack,--having some reason to suppose there was a current setting to the southward and eastward,--and we wore round. After standing to the northward for a sufficient length of time, we again fell in with the spars; a proof that we were doing nothing towards working our way to windward. I determined, at once, to make fast to them, and use them as a sort of floating anchor, so long as the foul wind lasted. We had some difficulty in effecting this object; but we finally succeeded in getting near enough, under the lee of the top, to make fast to one of its eye-bolts--using a bit of small hawser, that was in the boat, for that purpose. The boat was then dropped a sufficient distance to leeward of the spars, where it rode head to sea, like a duck. This was a fortunate expedient; as it came on to blow hard, and we had something very like a little gale of wind.

As soon as the launch was thus moored, we found its advantage. It shipped no more water, or very little, and we were not compelled to be on the look-out for squalls, which occurred every ten or fifteen minutes, with a violence that it would not do to trifle with. The weather thickened at these moments; and there were intervals of half an hour at a time, when we could not see a hundred yards from the boat, on account of the drizzling, misty rain that filled the atmosphere. There we sat, conversing sometimes of the past, sometimes of the future, a bubble in the midst of the raging waters of the Atlantic, filled with the confidence of seamen. With the stout boat we possessed, the food and water we had, I do not think either now felt any great concern for his fate; it being possible, in moderate weather, to run the launch far enough to reach an English port in about a week. Favoured by even a tolerably fair wind, the object might be effected in even two or three days.

"I take it for granted, Miles," Marble remarked, as we pursued our discourse, "that your insurance will completely cover your whole loss? You did not forget to include freight in the risks?"

"So far from this, Moses, I believe myself to be nearly or quite a ruined man. The loss of the ship is unquestionably owing to the act of the Speedy, united to our own, in setting those Englishmen adrift on the ocean. No insurers will meet a policy that has thus been voided."

"Ah! the blackguards!--This is worse than I had thought;--but you can always make a harbour at Clawbonny?"

I was on the point of explaining to Marble how I stood in relation to the paternal acres, when a sort of shadow was suddenly cast on the boat, and I fancied the rushing of the water seemed to be increased at the same instant. We all three sat with our faces to leeward, and all turned them to windward under a common impulse. A shout burst from Marble's throat, and a sight met my eyes, that caused the blood to rush in a torrent through my heart. Literally within a hundred feet of us, was a large ship, ploughing the ocean with a furrow that rose to her hawse-holes, and piling before her, in her track, a mound of foam, as she came down upon us, with top-mast and lower studding-sails set--overshadowing the sea, like some huge cloud. There was scarcely time for more than a glance, ere this ship was nearly upon us. As she rose on a swell, her black sides came up out of the ocean, glittering and dripping, and the tine of frowning guns seemed as if just lacquered. Neb was in the bow of the launch, while I was in the stern. My arm was extended involuntarily, or instinctively would be the better word, to avert the danger, when it seemed to me that the next send of the ship would crush us beneath the bright copper of her bottom. Without Neb's strength and presence of mind, we had been lost beyond a hope; for swimming up to the spars against the sea that was on, would have been next to hopeless; and even if there, without food, or water, our fate would have been sealed. But Neb seized the hawser by which we were riding, and hauled the launch ahead her length, or more, before the frigate's larboard bower-anchor settled down in a way that menaced crushing us. As it was, I actually laid a hand on the muzzle of the third gun, while the ship went foaming by. At the next instant she was past; and we were safe. Then all three of us shouted together. Until that moment, none in the frigate were aware of our vicinity. But the shout gave the alarm, and as the ship cleared us, her taffrail was covered with officers. Among them was one grey-headed man, whom I recognised by his dress for the captain. He made a gesture, turning an arm upward, and I knew an order was given immediately after, by the instantaneous manner in which the taffrail was cleared.

"By George!" exclaimed Marble, "I had a generalizing time of it, for half a dozen seconds, Miles."

"There was more risk," I answered, "than time to reflect on it. However, the ship is about to round-to, and we shall be picked up, at last. Let us thank God for this."

It was indeed a beautiful sight for a seaman, to note the manner in which that old captain handled his vessel. Although we found the wind and sea too much for a boat that had to turn to windward, neither was of much moment to a stout frigate, that carried fifty guns, and which was running off, with the wind on her quarter.

She was hardly past us, when I could see preparations making to take in canvass. At the instant she overshadowed us with her huge wings, this vessel had top-gallant-sails set, with two top-mast, and a lower studding-sail, besides carrying the lee-clew of her main-sail down, and the other customary cloth spread. Up went her main-sail, almost as soon as the captain made the signal with his arm; then all three of the top-gallant-sails were flying at the same moment. Presently, the yards were alive with men, and the loose canvass was rolled up, and the gaskets passed. While this was doing, down came all the studding-sails together, much as a bird shuts its wings. The booms disappeared immediately after.

"Look at that, Miles!" cried the delighted Marble. "Although a bloody Englishman, that chap leaves nothing to be done over again. He puts everything in its place, like an old woman stowing away her needles and thread. I'll warrant you, the old blade is a keen one!"

"The ship is well handled, certainly, and her people work like mariners who are trying to save the lives of mariners."

While this was passing between us, the frigate was stripped to her three top-sails, spanker, jib, and fore-course Down came her yards, next; and then they were covered with blue-jackets, like bees clustering around a hive. We had scarcely time to note this, ere the men lay in, and the yards were up again, with the sails reefed. This was no sooner done, than the frigate, which had luffed the instant the steering-sails were in, was trimmed close on a wind, and began to toss the water over her sprit-sail-yard, as she met the waves like one that paid them no heed. No sooner was the old seaman who directed all this, assured of the strength of the wind he had to meet, than down went his main-sail again, and the tack was hauled aboard.

The stranger was then under the smartest canvass a frigate can carry; reefs in her top-sails, with the courses set. Her sail could be shortened in an instant, yet she was under a press of it; more than an ordinary vessel would presume to carry, perhaps, in so strong a breeze.

Notwithstanding the great jeopardy from which we had just escaped, and the imminent hazard so lately run, all three of us watched the movements of the frigate with as much satisfaction as a connoisseur would examine a fine painting. Even Neb let several nigger expressions of pleasure escape him.

By the time sail could be shortened and the ship hauled close on a wind, the frigate was nearer half than a quarter of a mile off. We had to wait, therefore, until she could beat up to the place where we lay. This she soon did, making one stretch to the southward, until in a line with the boat, when she tacked, and came toward us, with her yards braced up, but having the wind nearly abeam. As she got within a cable's-length, both courses were hauled up and left hanging in the brails. Then the noble craft came rolling by us, in the trough, passing so near that we might be spoken. The old officer stood in the weather gangway, with a trumpet, and he hailed, when near enough to be heard. Instead of asking questions, to satisfy his own curiosity, he merely communicated his own intentions.

"I'll heave-to, when past you," he cried out, "waring ship to do so. You can then drop down under my stern, as close as possible, and we'll throw you a rope."

I understood the plan, which was considerate, having a regard to the feebleness of our boat's crew, and the weight of the boat itself. Accordingly, when she had room enough, the frigate wore, hauling up close on the other tack, and laying her main-yard square. As soon as the ship was stationary, Neb cast off the hawser, and Marble and he manned two oars. We got the boat round without much risk, and, in less time than it takes to write it, were sending down towards the ship at a furious rate. I steered, and passed so near the frigate's rudder, that I thought, for an instant, I had gone too close. A rope was hove as we cleared the lee-quarter of the frigate, and the people on board hauled us alongside. We caught the man-ropes, and were soon on the quarter-deck. A respectable-looking elderly man, of a square, compact frame, and a fine ruddy English face, in a post-captain's undress, received me, with an extended hand, and a frank, generous, hearty manner.

"You are welcome on board the Briton," he said, warmly; "and I thank God that he has put it in our power to relieve you. Your ship must have been lost quite recently, as you do not seem to have suffered. When you feel equal to it, I should like to hear the name of your vessel, and the particulars of her disaster. I suppose it was in the late blow, which was a whacker, and did lots of mischief along the coast. I see you are Americans, and that your boat is New York built; but all men in distress are countrymen."

This was a hearty reception, and one I had every reason to extol. So long as I stayed with Captain Rowley, as this officer was named, I had no reason to complain of any change in his deportment. Had I been his son, he could not have treated me more kindly, taking me into his own cabin, and giving me a seat at his own table. I gave him an outline of what had happened to us, not deeming it necessary to relate the affair with the Speedy, however; simply mentioning the manner in which we had escaped from a French privateer, and leaving him to infer, should he see fit, that the rest of our crew had been carried away on that occasion. My reserve on the subject of the other capture, the reader will at once see, was merely a necessary piece of prudent caution.

Captain Rowley had no sooner heard my story, which I made as short as possible, knowing that Marble and Neb had been cautioned on the subject, than he again took my hand, and welcomed me to his ship. The mate was sent into the gun-room, and recommended to the hospitality of the lieutenants; while Neb was placed in the care of the cabin servants. A short consultation was then held about the boat, which it was decided must be sent adrift, after its effects were passed out of it; the Briton having no use for such a launch, nor any place to stow it. I stood at the gangway, and looked with a melancholy eye at this last remnant of the Dawn that I ever beheld: a large eighty thousand dollars of my property vanishing from the earth, in the loss of that ship and her cargo.

Chapter XXIV.

Some shout at victory's loud acclaim,
  Some fall that victory to assure,
But time divulges that in name,
  Alone, our triumphs are secure.

Duo.

The Briton had come out of the Cove of Cork, only a few days before, and was bound on service, with orders to run off to the westward, a few hundred miles, and to cruise three months in a latitude that might cover the homeward-bound running ships, from the American provinces, of which there were many in that early period of the war. This was not agreeable news to us, who had hoped to be landed somewhere immediately, and who had thought, at first, on seeing the ship carrying a press of sail to the westward that she might be going to Halifax. There was no remedy, however, and we were fain to make the best of circumstances. Captain Rowley promised to put us on board the first vessel that offered, and that was as much as we had a right, to ask of him.

More than two months passed without the Briton's speaking, or even seeing a single sail! To these vicissitudes is the seaman subject; at one time he is in the midst of craft, at another the ocean seems deserted to himself alone. Captain Rowley ascribed this want of success to the fact that the war was inducing the running ships to collect in convoys, and that his orders carried him too far north to permit his falling in with the Americans, bound to and from Liverpool. Whatever may have been the reason, however, the result was the same to us. After the gale of the equinox, the Briton stood to the southward, as far as Madeira, such a change of ground being included in her instructions; and thence, after cruising three weeks in the neighbourhood of that island, she shaped her course for Plymouth. In the whole, the frigate had, at that time, brought-to and boarded some thirty sail, all of whom were neutrals, and not one of whom was bound to a port that would do us any good. The ship's water getting low, we were now compelled to go in, and, as has been said, we made sail to the northward. The afternoon of the very day the Briton left her second cruising ground, a strange ship was seen directly on our course, which was pronounced to be a frigate, before the sun set.

The Briton manoeuvred all night to close with the stranger, and with success, as he was only a league distant, and a very little to windward of her, when I went on deck early the next morning. I found the ship clear for action, and a degree of animation pervading the vessel, that I had never before witnessed. The people were piped to breakfast just as I approached the captain to salute him with a 'good morning.'

"Good morning to you, Wallingford," cried the old man, in a cheerful way; "you are just in time to take a look at yonder Frenchman in his glory. Two hours hence I hope he'll not appear quite as much of a beau as he is a' this moment. She's a noble craft, is she not, and quite of our own force."

"As for the last, sir," I answered, "there does not seem much to choose--she is what you call a thirty-eight, and mounts fifty guns, I dare say. Is she certainly French?"

"As certainly as this ship is English. She can do nothing with our signals, and her rig is a character for her. Whoever saw an Englishman with such royal-masts and yards? So, Master Wallingford, you must consent to take your breakfast an hour earlier than common, or go without it, altogether. Ah--here is the steward to say it waits for us."

I followed Captain Rowley to the cabin, where I found he had sent for Marble, to share our meal. The kind-hearted old gentleman seemed desirous of adding this act of civility to the hundred others that he had already shown us. I had received much generous and liberal treatment from Captain Rowley, but never before had he seemed so much disposed to act towards me as a father would act to a son as on that morning.

"I hope you have done justice to Davis's cookery, gentlemen," he said, after the assault on the eatables began to abate a little in ardour, "for this may be the last opportunity that will offer to enjoy it. I am an Englishman, and have what I hope is a humble confidence in the superiority of an English over a French ship; but I very well know we never get even a French ship without working for it; and yonder gentleman may not leave us any crockery, for to-morrow. He evidently means to fight us, and I think will do himself credit."

"I believe you English always go into action against the French with a confidence of victory," I remarked.

"Why, we have brought our lads up to that feeling, certainly, though I would not have you fancy I am quite of that way of thinking. I am too old, and have seen too much service, Wallingford, not to know that every battle is liable to accidents and vicissitudes. There is some difference in service, I must suppose, though not half as much in men as is vulgarly imagined. The result is in the hands of God, and I do think we are fighting his battles, in this fearful war: therefore, I trust he will take care of us."

I was surprised to find Captain Rowley, who was usually cheerful and gay, talking in this manner; but it did not become me to pursue the subject. In a minute or two, we rose from table, and I heard the order given to the steward to report to the first-lieutenant as soon as the table was cleared away, that the cabin bulkheads might be removed. Marble and I then passed below, into a canvass berth that had been made for him, where we could consult together without danger of interruption. Just as we reached the place, the drum beat to quarters. This carried nearly every one else on deck, and left us virtually alone.

"Well, Miles," commenced Marble, "this v'y'ge will beat any other of our v'y'ges, and give it fifty. We have been twice captured, once wrecked, have seen a fight, and are about to feel another. What do you think patriotism, and republican vartoo, require us to do, in such a crisis?"

This was the first time I had ever heard my mate mention republicanism, his habits being certainly as much opposed to liberty, as those of Napoleon himself. Although the reader probably will not understand the drift of his question, it was not lost on me. I answered, therefore, like one who fully comprehended him.

"I am afraid, Moses," said I, "there is very little republicanism in France just now, nor do I know that resemblance in governments makes nations friends. Unless the resemblance be complete, I rather think they are more disposed to quarrel about the differences, than to allow the merits of the points of affinity. As between England and France, however, since we are at peace with both, we Americans have nothing to do with their quarrels."

"I thought that would be your idee, Miles, and yet it would be awkward to be in the midst of a fight, and take no part in it. I'd give a hundred dollars to be on board that Frenchman, this minute."

"Are you so much in love with defeat, as to wish to be flogged?"

"I don't know how it is, but it goes ag'in the grain to take sides with a John Bull."

"There is no necessity for taking sides with either, though we can remember how these people have saved our lives, how kind they have been to us, and that we have literally lived three months on their bounty. Neb, I'm glad to see, makes fair weather of it, on the berth-deck."

"Ay, there's more in that than you dream of, perhaps. Mr. Clements, the first-lieutenant of this ship, is a sly one; and he thinks more of a good seaman than some priests do of piety. If I'm not greatly misled, he intends that Neb shan't quit this ship till the peace."

"How! They surely cannot pretend that the black is an Englishman?"

"There are all kinds of Englishmen, black and white, when seamen grow scarce. Hows'ever, there is no use in looking out for the worst--we shall know all about it, when the ship gets in. How are we to behave, Miles, in this here battle? It goes ag'in my feelin's to help an Englishman; and yet an old salt don't like to keep under hatches, while powder is burning on deck."

"It would be wrong for either of us to take any part in the action, since we have nothing to do with the quarrel. Still, we may appear on deck, unless ordered below; and I dare say opportunities will offer to be of use, especially in assisting the hurt. I shall go on the quarter-deck, but I would advise you not to go higher than the gun-deck. As for Neb, I shall formally offer his services in helping to carry the wounded down."

"I understand you--we shall all three sarve in the humane gang--well, when a man has no business with any other, that may be better than none. Your standing idle in a fight must be trying work!"

Marble and I conversed a little longer on this subject, when a gun fired from the upper-deck gave us notice that the game was about to begin. Each hastened to his intended post without more words. When I reached the quarter-deck, everything denoted the eve of a combat. The ship was under short canvass, the men were at quarters, the guns were cast loose, and were levelled; the tompions were all out, shot was distributed about the deck; and here and there some old salt of a captain might be seen squinting along his gun, as if impatient to begin. A silence like that of a deserted church reigned throughout the ship. Had one been on board her intended adversary, at that same instant, be would have been deafened by the clamour, and confused with the hurried and disorderly manner in which preparations that were long before completed on board the British, were still in progress on board the Frenchman. Four years earlier, the same want of preparation had given Nelson his great victory at the Nile. The French, in order to clear their outer batteries, had lumbered those in-shore; and when half their enemies unexpectedly passed inside, they found their ships were not prepared to fire; ships that were virtually beaten, before they had discharged an effective shot.

"Wallingford," said my old friend the captain, as soon as I approached him, "you have nothing to do here. It would not be proper for you to take a part in this action, and it would be folly to expose yourself without an object."

"I am quite aware of all this, Captain Rowley, but I have thought your kindness to me was so great as to permit me to be a looker-on. I may be of some service to the wounded, if to nothing else; and I hope you think me too much of an officer to get in the way."

"I am not certain, sir, I ought to permit anything of the sort," returned the old man, gravely. "This fighting is serious business, and no one should meddle with it whose duty does not command it of him. See here, sir," pointing at the French frigate, which was about two cable's-lengths distant, with her top-gallant-sails clewed up and the courses in the brails; "in ten minutes we shall be hard at it, and I leave it to yourself to say whether prudence does not require that you should-go below."

I had expected this; and, instead of contesting the matter, I bowed, and walked off the quarter-deck, as if about to comply. "Out of sight, out of mind," I thought;--it would be time enough to go below, when I had seen the beginning of the affair! In the waist I passed the marines, drawn up in military array, with their officer as attentive to dressing them in line as if the victory depended on its accuracy. On the forecastle I found Neb, with his hands in his pockets, watching the manoeuvres of the French as the cat watches those of the mouse. The fellow's eye was alive with interest; and I saw it was useless to think of sending him below. As for the officers, they had taken their cue from the captain, and only smiled good-naturedly as I passed them. The first-lieutenant, however, was an exception. He never had appeared well-disposed towards us, and, I make no doubt, had I not been so hospitably taken into the cabin, we should all have got an earlier taste of his humour.

"There is too much good stuff in that fellow," he drily remarked, in passing, pointing towards Neb at the same time, "for him to be doing nothing, at a moment like this."

"We are neutrals, as respects France, Mr. Clements," I answered, "and it would not be right for us to take part in your quarrels. I will not hesitate to say, however, that I have received so much kindness on board the Briton, that I should feel miserable in not being permitted to share your danger. Something may turn up, that will enable me to be of assistance--ay, and Neb, too."

The man gave me a keen look, muttered something between his teeth, and walked aft, whither he was proceeding when we met. I looked in the direction in which he went, and could see he was speaking in a surly way to Captain Rowley. The old gentleman cast a look forward, shook a finger at me, then smiled in his benevolent way, and turned, as I thought, to look for one of the midshipmen who acted as his aids. At that moment, the Frenchman went in stays, delivering his whole broadside, from aft forward, as the guns bore. The shot told on the British spars smartly, though only two hulled her. As a matter of course, this turned the thoughts of Captain Rowley to the main business in hand, and I was forgotten. As for Neb, he immediately made himself useful. A shot cut the main-spring-stay, just above his head; and before I had time to speak, the fellow seized a stopper, and caught one of the ends of the stay, applied the stopper, and was hard at work in bringing the rope into its proper place, and in preparing it again to bear a strain. The boatswain applauded his activity, sending two or three forecastle-men to help him. From that moment, Neb was as busy as a bee aloft, now appearing through openings in the smoke, on this yard-arm, now on that, his face on a broad grin, whenever business of more importance than common was to be done. The Briton might have had older and more experienced seamen at work in her rigging, that day, but not one that was more active, more ready when told what to do, or more athletic. The gaité de coeur with which this black exerted himself in the midst of that scene of strife, clamour and bloodshed, has always presented itself to my mind as truly wonderful.

Captain Rowley did not alter his course, or fire a gun, in answer to the salute he received, though the two ships were scarcely a cable's-length asunder when the Frenchman began. The Briton stood steadily on, and the two ships passed each other, within pistol-shot, a minute or two later, when we let fly all our larboard guns. This was the beginning of the real war, and warm enough it was, for half an hour or more,--our ship coming round as soon as she had fired, when the two frigates closed broadside and broadside, both running off nearly dead before the wind. I do not know how it happened, but when the head-yards were swung, I found myself pulling at the fore-brace, like a dray horse. The master's mate, who commanded these braces, thanked me for my assistance, in a cheerful voice, saying, "We'll thrash 'em in an hour, Captain Wallingford." This was the first consciousness I had, that my hands had entered into the affair at all!

I had now an opportunity of ascertaining what a very different thing it is to be a spectator in such a scene, from being an actor. Ashamed of the forgetfulness that had sent me to the brace, I walked on the quarter-deck, where blood was already flowing freely. Everybody, but myself, was at work, for life or death. In 1803, that mongrel gun, the carronade, had come into general use, and those on the quarter-deck of the Briton were beginning to fly round and look their owners in the face, when they vomited their contents, as they grew warm with the explosion. Captain Rowley, Clements, and the master, were all here, the first and last attending to the trimming of the sails, while the first-lieutenant looked a little after the battery, and a little at everything else. Scarce a minute passed, that shot did not strike somewhere, though it was principally aloft; and the wails of the hurt, the revolting part of every serious combat, began to mingle in the roar of the contest. The English, I observed, fought sullenly, though they fought with all their hearts. Occasionally, a cheer would arise in some part of the ship; but these, and the cries of the hurt, were fire on the Briton, as well as the manner in which the English repaid all they received. While standing near the main-mast, in the battery that was not engaged, Marble made me out in the smoke, and came-up to speak to me.

"Them Frenchmen are playing their parts like men," he said. "There's a shot just gone through the cook's coppers, and another through the boats. By the Lord Harry, if the boys on this deck do not bestir themselves, we shall get licked. I wouldn't be licked by a Frenchman on any account, Miles.--Even little Kitty would point her finger at me."

"We are only passengers, you know, Moses; and can have little concern with victory, or defeat, so long as the striped and starred bunting has nothing to do with the credit of the thing."

"I am not so sure of that, Miles.--I do not like being flogged, even as a passenger. There! just look at that, now! Two or three more such raps, and half our guns will be silenced!"

Two shot had come in together, as Marble thus interrupted himself; one of them knocking away the side of a port, while the other laid four men of its gun on the deck. This gun was on the point of being discharged, as the injury was inflicted; but the loss of its captain prevented it from being fired. The lieutenant of the division caught the match from the fallen seaman, gave it a puff with his breath, and applied it to the priming. As the gun came leaping in, the lieutenant turned his head to see where he could best find men to supply the place of those who had been killed, or wounded. His eyes fell on us. He asked no questions; but merely looked in our direction.

"Ay, ay, sir," said Marble, stripping off his jacket, and taking the tobacco from his mouth. "In one moment.--Just hold on, till I'm ready."

I scarce knew whether to remonstrate, or not: but hard at it he went; and, delighted by his zeal, the officer clapped him on the back, leaving him to act as captain of the gun. Afraid the contagion might extend to myself, I turned, ascended the ladder, and was immediately on the quarter-deck again. Here I found old Captain Rowley, with his hat off, cheering his men,--the Frenchman's main-top-mast having just gone over his side. It was not a time to make my report, nor was any needed just then; so I walked aft as far as the taffrail, in order to get out of the way, and to make my observations as much removed from the smoke as possible. This was the only opportunity I enjoyed of noting the relative positions, as well as conditions, of the two vessels.

The Briton had suffered heavily aloft; but all her principal spars still stood. On the other hand, her antagonist had lost both main and mizen-top-masts, and her fire had materially slackened within the last fifteen minutes. She was falling more under a quarter-raking fire, too, from her people's losing command of their ship; the two frigates having, some time before, come by the wind--the Englishman a little on the Frenchman's weather-quarter. As is usual, in a heavy cannonade and a moderate breeze, the wind had died away, or become neutralized, by the concussions of the guns, and neither combatant moved much from the position he occupied. Still the Briton had her yards knowingly braced, while those of her enemy were pretty much at sixes and sevens. Under such circumstances, it was not difficult to predict the result of the engagement; more especially as the spirits of the Britons seemed to be rising with the duration of the combat.

I was still making my observations, when I heard the crack of a shot, and the ripping of plank, on the forward part of the quarter-deck. A little group collected around a falling man, and I thought I caught a glimpse of Captain Rowley's uniform and epaulettes, in the sufferer. In an instant I was on the spot. Sure enough, there was my old friend grievously wounded. Clements was also there. Catching my eye, he observed--

"As you are doing nothing, sir, will you assist in carrying Captain Rowley below?"

I did not like the manner in which this was said, nor the expression of the first-lieutenant's eye while saying it. They seemed to me to add, "I shall now command this ship, and we shall see if new lords don't produce new laws," I complied, however, of course, and, aided by two of his own servants, I got the poor old man into the gun-room. The instant the surgeon cast his eyes on the injuries, I saw by his countenance, there was no hope. His words soon confirmed the bad news.

"The captain cannot live half an hour," this gentleman said to me aside, "and all we can do will be to give him what he asks for. At present he is stupified by the shock of the blow, but, in a few minutes, he will probably ask for water, or wine and water; I wish, sir, you would indulge him in his wishes, for you can have no duty to call you on deck. This will be a lucky hit for Clements, who will run off with more than half the credit of the battle, though I fancy the Frenchman has as much as he wants already."

And so it turned out, literally, in the end. About twenty minutes after I went below, during which time the Briton did most of the fighting, we heard the cheer of victory on deck. These sounds appeared to cause the wounded man to revive.

"What means that, Wallingford?" he asked in a stronger voice than I could have thought it possible for him to use, "What do these cheers mean, my young friend?"

"They mean, Captain Rowley, that you have conquered--that you are master of the French frigate."

"Master!--am I master of my own life? Of what use is victory to me, now? I shall die--die soon, Wallingford, and there will be an end of it, all! My poor wife will call this a melancholy victory."

Alas! what I could say? These words were only too true as respects himself, and, I dare say, as respected his wife, also. Die he did, and in my presence, and that calmly, with all his senses about him; but, I could see, he had his doubts whether a little lustre like that which attended his end, was fulfilling all the objects of his being. The near view of death places a man on a moral eminence, whence he commands prospects before and behind, on each side and on every side, enabling him to overlook the whole scene of life from its commencement to its close, and to form an opinion of his own place in a drama that is about to close. Like many of those who exhibit themselves for our amusement, and to purchase our applause, he is only too apt to quit the stage less satisfied with his own performances, than the thoughtless multitude, who, regarding merely the surfaces of things, are too often loudest in their approbation when there is the least to praise.

I shall pass over the next ten days, with a very brief allusion to their events. The first proof I had of Mr. Clements being commanding officer, was my being transferred from the cabin to the gun-room. It is true, there was no want of space in my new apartment, for officering and manning the prize had left several state-rooms vacant in the Briton's gun-room, which fell to the shares of the French prisoners and myself. Poor Captain Rowley was preserved in spirits and then things went on pretty much as before, with the exception that our crippled condition and reduced crew rendered us no longer anxious to fall in with Frenchmen. I may say, in this place, also, that now the excitement which had carried him away was gone, Marble was profoundly ashamed of the part he had taken in the late affair. He had fought under English colours, once more; and, though I seldom dared to allude to the thing, it is my opinion he heartily regretted his conduct, to his dying day. As for Neb, all seemed right enough in his eyes; for, though he well understood the distinctions between flags and countries, he always imagined it a duty to stick by the craft in which he happened to be.

Ten days after I had been living under the régime of "new lords and new laws," we fell in with a frigate, in the chops of the channel, and exchanged signals with her. The reader will judge of Marble's and my dissatisfaction, when we heard it announced that the ship which was then fast approaching us, was the Speedy. There was no help for it, however; she was already within gun-shot, and soon rounded-to, within hail of the Briton, which ship had hove-to, to wait for her. In a few minutes, Lord Harry Dermond, in person, was alongside of us, in a boat, to show his orders to Captain Rowley, and report himself, as the junior captain. I could not quit the quarter-deck, from a desire to ascertain, if possible, what had become of Sennit and his companions, though prudence dictated concealment.

Clements met the young nobleman at the gangway, and, apologizing for not going on board the Speedy, on account of the state of his boats, reported the late action and its results. Lord Harry then found himself the senior, instead of the junior commander, and he immediately began to ask questions. He was in the midst of these interrogatories, when his eye suddenly fell on me. He and Clements were walking on the quarter-deck together, and I had gone into the gangway, to escape his notice, when this unexpected recognition took place. It occurred as the two were turning in their walk, and were so near me that I could hear what was said between them.

"Who have you there, leaning against the cutter, Mr. Clements?" demanded the captain of the Speedy. "It's a face I know--some old ship-mate of mine, I fancy."

"I rather think not, my lord--it's a-Yankee we picked up at sea in a boat, a Captain Wallingford, of the American ship Dawn. His vessel foundered in a gale, and all hands were lost but this gentleman, his mate, and a negro. We have had them on board, now, more than three months."

A long, low whistle escaped from Lord Harry Dermond, who immediately walked up to me, raised his hat, and commenced a very disagreeable sort of a dialogue, by saying--"Your servant, Mr. Wallingford! We meet under very unusual circumstances, and somewhat often. The last time was at a rather interesting moment to me, and one in which I was so much engaged, that I had not leisure properly to pay my respects to you. Mr. Clements, I have a little business to transact with this gentleman, and must ask the favour of your company and his, for a few minutes, in your cabin."

No objection could be raised to this request; and I followed the two officers into the Briton's cabin.

Chapter XXV.

O I hae scarce to lay me on,
If kingly fields were ance my ain;
Wi' the moor-cock on the mountain-bree,
But hardship na'er can daunton me.

Scottish Song.

There was an air of cool deliberation about Lord Harry Dermond, which satisfied me I should have to pass through a trying ordeal; and I prepared myself for the occasion. Nothing was said until all three of us were in the after-cabin, when Clements and his visiter took seats on the sofa, and a motion was made to me to occupy a chair. Then Lord Harry Dermond commenced the discourse, in a manner more serious than I could have wished.

"Mr. Wallingford," he said, "there is little need of preliminaries between you and me. I recollected your ship, when the Black Prince and Speedy were in the act of closing with the Frenchmen, three months since; and I need scarcely say that the manner in which she got back to the place where I then saw her, requires an explanation at your hands."

"It shall be given to you, my lord. Believing you had no right to send in the Dawn, and knowing that a detention of any length would prove my ruin, I regained possession of my own by the best means that offered."

"This is at least frank, sir. You mean to be understood that you rose on my people in the night, murdered them, and that you subsequently lost your vessel from a want of force to take care of her."

"This is partly true, and partly a mistake. I certainly should not have lost my ship had I been as strong-handed in the gale in which she was destroyed, as she was the day she left home: and she would have been as strong-handed in that gale, had we never fallen in with the Speedy."

"Which is an indirect manner of saying that the wreck was owing to us?"

"I shall very directly say, that I think it was; though by indirect means."

"Well, sir, on that point it is not probable we shall ever agree. You cannot suppose that the servants of the king of Great Britain will submit to your American mode of construing public law; but will easily understand that we leave such matters to our own admiralty judges. It is a matter of more moment to me, just now, to ascertain what has become of the officers and men that were put in charge of your ship. I saw the vessel, some time after I put Mr. Sennit and his party on board you, in your possession, (that we ascertained by means of our glasses;) and you now admit that you retook your vessel from these men. What has become of the prize-crew?"

I briefly related the manner in which we had regained the possession of the Dawn. The two English officers listened attentively, and I could discern a smile of incredulity on the countenance of Clements; while the captain of the Speedy seemed far from satisfied--though he was not so much disposed to let his real opinion be known.

"This is a very well-concocted and well-told tale, my lord," said the first, with a sneer; "but I doubt whether it find many believers in the British service."

"The British service, sir," I coldly retorted, "is, like all others, liable to reverses and accidents."

"Not exactly of this nature, Mr. Wallingford, you will yourself admit, on reflection. But I beg pardon, my lord: this is your affair--not mine; and I have been indiscreet in speaking."

Lord Harry Dermond looked as if he concurred in this sentiment. He had the pride of official rank, and that of private rank, to the usual degree; and did not exactly like the notion that one so much his inferior in both should take an affair so peculiarly his own out of his hands. He made a cold acknowledging bow, therefore, in reply, and paused a moment, like a man who reflected, ere he continued the discourse.

"You must be aware, Mr, Wallingford, it is my duty to inquire closely into this matter," he at length resumed. "I am just out of port, where my ship has been lying to refit, several weeks, and it is not probable that either of my officers would be in England without reporting himself, had he reached home."

"It is quite probable, my lord, that neither has reached home. I saw them picked up, with my own eyes, and by what appeared to me to be an outward-bound West Indiaman. In that case, they have, most probably, all been carried to one of the West India islands."

Here Clements handed Lord Harry Desmond a paper with something written on it, in pencil, which the latter read. After running his eyes over it, the captain nodded his head, and the lieutenant quitted the cabin. While he was absent, my companion, in a polite manner, gave me the particulars of the combat I had witnessed, going so far as to direct my attention to a paper he had brought on board, to show to Captain Rowley, and which contained the English official account of the whole affair. On glancing at it, I saw that the presence of the Dawn, on that occasion, was mentioned in ihe report; the name of the ship being given, with an allusion that was not very clear to the general reader, but which was plain enough to me. It was not long, however, before Clements returned, and, without much ceremony, he informed me that the gun-room mess waited my appearance to sit down to dinner. On this hint, I rose and took my leave, though I had time to see Marble enter the cabin, and Neb standing by the scuttle-butt, under the charge of the sentinel, ere I dipped my head under hatches.

The dinner lasted near an hour, and Lord Harry Dermond civilly waited all that time, before he again summoned me to the cabin. I was surprised to find Marble in the outer-cabin, Neb near the door, in waiting, and the two officers with pen, ink, and paper before them, where they had been left by me.

"Mr. Wallingford," Lord Harry commenced, "I hold it to be no more than fair to let you know that your mate's account of the manner in which the Speedy's people got out of the Dawn, and your own, do not agree in a single particular. Here is his statement, taken down by myself from his own words; if you are disposed to hear it, I will read you what he says."

"I do not well see how Mr. Marble can contradict me and tell the truth, my lord--but it were better I should hear his statement."

"'I was first-mate of the Dawn, of New York, Miles Wallingford master and owner. Captured and ordered in by Speedy, as known. Three days after parting company with the frigate, with Mr. Sennit as prize-master, Captain Wallingford and I commenced reasoning with that gentleman on the impropriety of sending in a neutral and breaking up a promising voyage, which so overcame the said Lieutenant Sennit, in his mind, that he consented to take the ship's yawl with a suitable stock of provisions and water, and give us up the ship. Accordingly, the boat was lowered, properly stowed, the most tender anxiety manifested for the party that was to go in her, when the English took their leave with tears in their eyes, and hearty good wishes for our safe arrival at Hamburg.'"

"Am I to understand you seriously, Lord Harry Dermond, that my mate has actually given you this account of the affair, for fact?"

"Most seriously, sir. I believe he even offered to swear to it, though I dispensed with that ceremony. Here is the statement of the black. Perhaps you would wish to hear that also?"

"Anything, my lord, it is your pleasure to communicate."

"Nebuchadnezzar Clawbonny says, 'he belonged to the Dawn--was left in her, when captured by Speedy, and was in her when wrecked. Captain Wallingford ordered Mr. Sennit to quit his ship, or he would make him; and Mr. Sennit obeyed Master Miles, of course,' But I will read no more of this, as a slave's statement can hardly be relied on. Perhaps we ought not to have received it, Mr. Clements?"

"Your pardon, my lord; it is our duty to protect his Majesty's subjects, in the best mode we can."

"That may be true, sir; but certain great principles ought never to be overlooked, even when doing our duty. You perceive, Mr. Wallingford, that your companions contradict your own account of this affair; and the most unpleasant suspicions are awakened. I should never justify myself to my superiors, were I to neglect putting you under arrest, and carrying you all in for trial."

"If my companions have been so ill-judging as to make the statements you say, I can only regret it. I have told you the truth; and I can add no more. As for the future, I do not suppose any representation of mine will induce you to change your decision."

"You carry it off well, sir; and I hope you will maintain the same appearance of innocence to the end. The lives of the king's subjects are not to be taken with impunity, nevertheless."

"Nor is the property of an American citizen, I trust, my lord. Had I used force to regain my ship, and had I thrown the prize-crew into the sea, I conceive I would have been doing no more than was my duty."

"This is well, sir; and I hope, for your sake, that an English jury will view the affair in the same light. At present, prepare to go on board the Speedy--for you must not be separated from the important testimony we can find in that ship. As for the citizens you mention, they are bound to submit to the decision of the admiralty courts, and not to take the law into their own hands."

"We shall see, my lord. When this case reaches my own country, we shall probably hear more of it."

I uttered this in a sufficiently magnificent manner; and, to own the truth, I felt a little magnificently at the time. I was then young, not three-and-twenty; and I thought of my country, her independence, her justice, her disposition to do right, her determination to submit to no wrongs, and her disregard of the expedient when principles were concerned,--much as young people think of the immaculate qualities of their own parents. According to the decisions of judges of this latter class, there would not be a liar, a swindler, a cheat, or a mercenary scoundrel living; but the earth would be filled with so many suffering saints that are persecuted for their virtues. According to the notions of most American citizens of my age, the very name they bore ought to be a protection to them in any part of the world, under the penalty of incurring the republic's just indignation. How far my anticipations were realized, will be seen in the sequel;--and I beg the American reader, in particular, to restrain his natural impatience, until he can learn the facts in the regular order of the narrative. I can safely promise him, that should he receive them in the proper spirit, with a desire to ascertain truth only and not to uphold bloated and untenable theories, he will be a wiser, and probably a more modest man, for the instruction that is to be thus gleaned from the incidents it will be my painful office to record. As for Lord Harry Dermond, the threatened indignation of the great American nation gave him very little concern. He probably cared a vast deal more for one frown from the admiral who commanded at Plymouth, than for the virtuous resentment of the President and Congress of the United States of America. I am writing of the close of the year 1803, it will be remembered;--a remote period in the history of the great republic; though I will not take it on myself to say things have materially altered, except it be in the newspapers, in this particular interest. The order to prepare to quit the Briton was repeated, and I was dismissed to the outer cabin, where was Marble, while Mr. Clements attempted to shut the door that separated us, though, from some cause or other, he did not exactly effect his object. In consequence of this neglect, I overheard the following dialogue:

"I hope, my lord," said Clements, "you will not think of taking away the mate and the black. They are both first-rate men, and both well affected to his Majesty's service. The negro was of great use aloft, during the late action, while the mate fought at a gun, like a tiger, for the better part of an hour. We are somewhat short of hands, and I have counted on inducing both these men to enter. There is the prize-money for the Frenchman under our lee, you know, my lord; and I have little doubt of succeeding."

"I'm sorry duty compels me to take all three, Clements, but I'll bear what you say in mind; perhaps we can get them to enter on board the Speedy. You know it--"

Here Mr. Clements discovered that the door was not shut, and he closed it tight, preventing my hearing any more. I now turned to Marble, whose countenance betrayed the self-reproach he endured, at ascertaining the injury he had done, by his ill-judged artifice. I made no reproaches, however, but squeezed his hand in token of my forgiveness. The poor fellow, I plainly saw, had great difficulty in forgiving himself; though he said nothing at the moment.

The conference between Lord Harry Dermond and Mr. Clements, lasted half an hour. At the end of that time, both appeared in the forward cabin, and I saw by the countenance of the last, that he had failed in his object. As for us, we were transferred, with the few articles we possessed, to the Speedy, on board which ship our arrival made as much of a sensation as the discipline of a man-of-war would permit. I was put in irons, the moment we reached the quarter-deck, and placed under the charge of a sentinel near the cabin-door. Some little attention was paid to my comfort, it is true, and a canvass screen was fitted for me, behind which I ate and slept, with some sort of retirement. My irons were of so large a sort, that I found means to take them off, and to put them on, at pleasure. I was disposed to think that the officers were aware of the fact, and that the things were used as much for the sake of appearance as for anything else. Apart from the confinement, and the injury done my affairs, I had no especial causes of complaint, though this imprisonment lasted until the month of April 1804, or quite five months. During this time, the Speedy arrived as far south as the line; then she hovered about the Canaries and the Azores, on her way homeward, looking in vain for another Frenchman. I was permitted to take exercise, twice a day, once in the gangway, and once on the gun-deck, and my table was actually supplied from the cabin. On no head, had I any other cause to complain, than the fact that my ship had been wrongfully seized in the first place, and that I was now suffering imprisonment for a crime--if crime indeed it would have been--that I certainly had not been obliged to commit.

During the five months I thus remained a prisoner on the gun-deck of the Speedy, I never exchanged a syllable with either Marble or Neb. I saw them both occasionally, employed on duty, like the crew, and we often exchanged significant looks, but never any words. Occasionally I had a visit from an officer; these gentlemen sitting down and conversing with me, on general topics, evidently to relieve the tedium of my confinement, without making any allusion to its cause. I cannot say that my health suffered, a circumstance that was probably owing to the cleanliness of the ship, and the admirable manner in which she was ventilated.

At length we went into port, carrying with us a French ship from one of the islands to the eastward of the Cape, as a prize. The Speedy captured this vessel, after a smart chase to the northward of the Azores, and Marble and Neb having volunteered to do so, were sent on board her, as two of the prize-crew. That day I got a visit from the purser, who was the most attentive of all my acquaintances, and I took the liberty of asking him if it were possible my two shipmates had entered into the British service.

"Why not exactly that," he said, "though they seem to like us, and we think both will ship rather than lose the prize-money they might get, for their services in the Briton. Your old mate is a prime fellow, the master tells me; but my lord fancying we might meet some French cruiser in the chops of the channel, thought it better to send these two chaps in the prize, lest they should take the studs and refuse to fight at the pinch. They have done duty, they say, to keep themselves in good health; and we humour them, to be frank with you, under the notion they may get to like us so well, as not to wish to quit us."

This gave me an insight into the true state of the case, and I felt much easier on the subject. That Marble ever intended to serve under the British flag, I had not supposed for a moment; but I was not sure that regret for the blunder he had already made, might not lead him into some new mistake of equally serious import, under the impression that he was correcting the evil. As for Neb, I knew he would never desert me; and I had not, from the first, felt any other concern on his account, than an apprehension his ignorance might be imposed on.

The day we anchored in Plymouth sound, was thick and drizzling, with a fresh breeze at south-west. The ship came-to just at sunset, her prize bringing up a short distance in-shore of her, as I could see from the port, that formed a sort of window to my little canvass state-room. Just as the ship was secured, Lord Harry Dermond passed into his cabin, accompanied by his first-lieutenant, and I overheard him say to the latter--

"By the way, Mr. Powlett, this prisoner must be removed to some other place in the morning. Now we are so near the land, it is not quite safe to trust him at a port."

I was still musing on the purport of this remark, when I heard the noise of a boat coming alongside. Putting my head out of the port, I could just see that the prize, master of the French ship had come on board, and that Marble and Neb were two of the four men who pulled the oars. Marble saw me, and gave a sign of recognition, though it was so dark as to render it difficult to distinguish objects at a trifling distance. This sign I returned in a significant manner. It was this answering signal from me, that induced my mate not to quit the boat, and to keep Neb with him. The other two men were so accustomed to do duty with the Americans, that they did not scruple to run up the frigate's side, after their officer, eager to get a gossip with their old mess-mates on the berth-deck. Almost at the same instant the officer of the deck called out--

"Drop la Manerve's boat astern, out of the way of the captain's gig, which will be hauling up in a minute."

This was on the larboard side, it is true; but a smart sea slapping against the starboard. Lord Harry was willing to dispense with ceremony, in order to escape a wet jacket. I cannot tell the process of reasoning that induced me to take the step I did; it was, however, principally owing to the remark I had so lately heard, and which brought all the danger of my position vividly to my mind. Whatever may have been the moving cause, I acted as follows:

My irons were slipped, and I squeezed myself between the gun and the side of the port, where I hung by my hands, against the ship's side. I might be seen, or I might not, caring little for the result. I was not seen by any but Marble and Neb, the former of whom caught me by the legs, as he passed beneath, and whispering to me to lie down in the bottom of the boat, he assisted me into the cutter. We actually rubbed against the captain's gig, as it was hauling up to the gangway; but no one suspected what had just taken place. This gig was the only one of the Speedy's boats that was in the water, at that hour, it having just been lowered to carry the captain ashore. In another minute we had dropped astern, Neb holding on by a boat-hook to one of the rudder-chains. Here we lay, until the gig pulled round, close to us, taking the direction toward the usual landing, with the captain of the Speedy in her.

In two minutes the gig was out of sight, and Marble whispered to Neb to let go his hold. This was promptly done, when the boat of the prize began to drift from the ship, swept by a powerful tide, and impelled by a stiff breeze. No one paid any heed to us, everybody's thoughts being occupied with the shore and the arrival at such a moment. The time was fortunate in another particular: Lord Harry Dermond was a vigilant and good officer: but his first-lieutenant was what is called on board ship "a poor devil;" a phrase that is sufficiently significant; and the moment a vigilant captain's back is turned, there is a certain ease and neglect in a vessel that has an indifferent first-lieutenant. Every one feels at liberty to do more as he pleases, than has been his wont; and where there is a divided responsibility of this nature, few perform more duty than they can help. When "the cat is away, the mice come out to play."

At all events, our boat continued to drop astern unobserved, until the ship itself became very faintly visible to us. I arose as soon as we were fifty feet from the rudder, and I assumed the direction of affairs as soon as on my feet. There were a mast and a lugg-sail in the boat, and we stepped the former and set the last, as soon as far enough from the Speedy to be certain we could not be seen. Putting the helm up, sufficiently to bring the wind on the quarter, I then stood directly out to sea. All this was accomplished in less than five minutes, by means of what the French call a sudden inspiration!

To be sure, our situation was sufficiently awkward, now we had obtained something that had the semblance of freedom. Neither of us had a single shilling of money, or an article of clothing but those we wore. There was not a mouthful of food of any sort in the boat, nor a drop of water. The night was lowering, and intensely dark; and the wind was blowing fresher than was at all desirable for a boat. Still we determined to persevere, and we ran boldly off the land, trusting our common fate to Providence. I hoped we might fall in with some American, bound in or out: should that fail us, France might be reached, if we had good luck, in the course of less than eight-and-forty hours.

Our situation afforded nothing to occupy the mind, but anxiety. We could not see a hundred yards, possessed no compass or any other guide on our way than the direction of the wind, and were totally without the means of refreshment or shelter. Still, we managed to sleep, by turns, each having entire confidence in the skill of both the others. In this manner we got through the night, feeling no apprehensions of being pursued, the darkness affording an effectual cover.

When the light returned, we discovered nothing in pursuit, though the weather was too thick to admit of our seeing any great distance around the boat. All the morning we continued running to the northward and eastward, under our single lugg reefed, only keeping clear of the seas that chased us, by dint of good management. As for eating or drinking, the first was out of the question; though we began to make some little provision to slake our thirst, by exposing our handkerchiefs to the drizzle, in order to wring them when they should become saturated with water. The coolness of the weather, however, and the mist, contributed to prevent our suffering much, and I do not know that I felt any great desire for either food or water, until towards the middle of the day. Then we began to converse together, on the subject of dinner, in a jocular way, however, rather than with any very great longings on the subject. While thus employed, Neb suddenly exclaimed, "dere a sail!"

Sure enough a ship was meeting us, heading up on the larboard tack about west-north-west, as she stretched in towards the English coast. I can see that vessel, in my mind's eye, even at this distant day! She had two reefs in her top-sails, with spanker, jib, and both courses set, like a craft that carried convenient, rather than urgent canvass. Her line of sailing would take her about two hundred yards to leeward of us, and my first impulse was to luff. A second glance showed us she was an English frigate, and we doused our lugg as soon as possible. Our hearts were in our mouths for the next five minutes. My eye never turned from that frigate, as she hove by us, now rising on the summit of a sea, now falling gracefully into the trough, concealing everything but her spars from sight. Glad enough were we, when she had got so far ahead as to bring us well on her weather-quarter, though we did not dare set our sail again, until her dark, glistening hull, with its line of frowning ports, was shut up in the cloud of mist, leaving the spot on the ocean where she had last been seen, as if she were not. That was one of those hair-breadth escapes that often occur to men engaged in hazardous undertakings, without any direct agency of their own.

Our next adventure was of a more pleasing character. A good-sized ship was made astern, coming up channel before the wind, and carrying top-mast studding-sails. She was an American! On this point we were all agreed, and placing ourselves in her track, we ran off, on her course, knowing that she must be going quite two feet to our one. In twenty minutes she passed close to us, her officers and crew manifesting the greatest curiosity to learn who and what we were. So dexterously did Marble manage the boat, that we got a rope, and hauled alongside without lessening the ship's way, though she nearly towed us under water in the attempt. The moment we could, we leaped on deck, abandoning the boat to its fate.

We had not mistaken the character of the vessel. It was a ship from James' river, loaded with tobacco, and bound to Amsterdam. Her master heard our story, believed it, and felt for us. We only remained with him a week, however, quitting his vessel off the coast of Holland, to go to Hamburg, where I fancied my letters would have been sent, and whence I knew it would be equally in our power to reach home. At Hamburg, I was fated to meet with disappointment. There was not a line for me, and we found ourselves without money in a strange place. I did not deem it prudent to tell our story, but we agreed to ship together in some American, and work our way home in the best manner we could. After looking about us a little, necessity compelled us to enter in the first vessel that offered. This was a Philadelphia ship, called the Schuylkill, on board which I shipped as second-mate, while Marble and Neb took the berths of foremast Jacks. No one questioned us as to the past, and we had decided among ourselves, to do our duty and keep mum. We used our own names, and that was the extent of our communication on the subject of our true characters.

I found it a little hard to descend so much on the ladder of life, but an early and capital training enabled me to act Dicky over again, with some credit; and, before the ship went to sea, our chief mate was discharged for drunkenness, and I got a lift. Marble was put in my place, and from that time, for the next five months, things went on smoothly enough; I say five months, for, instead of sailing for home direct, the ship went to Spain, within the Straits, for a cargo of barilla, which she took up to London, where she got a freight for Philadelphia. We were all a little uneasy, at finding that our story, with sundry perversions and exaggerations, were in the English papers; but, by the time we reached England, it was forgotten; having been crowded out by the occurrence of new events of interest, at a moment when every week was teeming with incidents that passed into history.

Nevertheless, I was glad when we left England, and I once more found myself on the high seas, homeward bound. My wages had enabled me, as well as Marble and Neb, to get new outfits, suited to our present stations, and we sailed for Philadelphia with as good a stock of necessaries as usually fall to the lot of men in our respective positions. These were all that remained to me of a ship and cargo that were worth between eighty and ninety thousand dollars!

The passage proved to be very long, but we reached the capes of the Delaware at last. On the 7th September, 1804, or when I wanted a few weeks of being three-and-twenty, I landed on the wharves of what was then the largest town in America, a ruined and disappointed man. Still I kept up my spirits, leaving my companions in ignorance of the extent of my misfortunes. We remained a few days to discharge the cargo, when we were all three paid off. Neb, who had passed on board the Schuylkill for a free black, brought me his wages, and when we had thrown our joint stock into a common bag, it was found to amount to the sum of one hundred and thirty-two dollars. With this money, then, we prepared to turn our faces north, Marble anxious to meet his mother and little Kitty, Neb desirous of again seeing Chloe, and I to meet my principal creditor John Wallingford, and to gain some tidings of Mr. Hardinge and Lucy.

Chapter XXVI.

      "You think, I'll weep.
No, I'll not weep:--
I have full cause of weeping; but this heart
Shall break into a hundred thousand flaws,
Or ere I'll weep."

Lear.

I pass over the manner and time of our being on the road between Philadelphia and New York, as things belonging to a former age, and to be forgotten. I will merely say that we travelled the South Amboy road, and went through a part of the world called Feather-bed Lane, that causes my bones to ache, even now, in recollection. At South Amboy, we got on board a sloop, or packet, and entered the bay of New York, by the passage of the Kills, landing near White-hall. We were superintending the placing of our chests on a cart, when some one caught my hand, and exclaimed--

"God bless me!--Captain Wallingford come to life, as I live!"

It was old Jared Jones, the man who had been miller at Clawbonny from my infancy to the day I left home. I had supposed him to be at work there still; but the look he gave me--the tears that I could see were forcing themselves from his eyes--his whole manner, indeed,--gave me at once to understand that all was not right. My countenance, rather than my tongue, demanded an explanation. Jared understood me, and we walked together towards the Battery; leaving Marble and Neb to proceed with the luggage to the modest lodgings in which we had proposed to hide ourselves until I had time to look about me--a house frequented by Moses for many years.

"You perceive I do not return home, Jared, in precisely the condition in which I went abroad. My ship and cargo are both lost, and I come among you, now, a poor man, I fear."

"We were afraid that something of the sort must have happened, or such bad news would never have reached Clawbonny, sir. Some of your men got back months ago and they brought the tidings that the Dawn was captivated by the English. From that hour, I think, Mr. Hardinge gave the matter up. The worst news, however, for us,--that of your death excepted,--was that of the mortgage on Clawbonny."

"The mortgage on Clawbonny! Has anything been done in connection with that?"

"Lord bless you, my dear Mr. Miles, it has been foreclosed, under the statue I believe they call it; and it was advertised to be sold three months. Then, when it was sold, how much do you think the place, mill and all, actually brought? Just give a guess, sir?"

"Brought! Clawbonny is then sold, and I am no longer the owner of my father's house!"

"Sold, sir; and we have been sent adrift--niggers and all. They said the freedom-laws would soon let all the older blacks be their own masters; and, as to the young 'uns, why, your creditors might sell their times. But Mr. Hardinge put the poor critturs into houses, near the rectory, and they work about among the neighbours, until things are settled. It's to their credit, Mr. Miles, that not one of 'em all thinks of runnin' away. With the feelin' that's up in the country consarnin' blacks, and no master to look arter them, every one of 'em might be off, without risk."

"And Chloe, my sister's own girl, what has become of Chloe, Jared?"

"Why, I believe Miss Lucy has tuck her. Miss Lucy is dreadful rich, as all allow: and she has put it in her father's power to take care of all the moveables. Every huff [hoof] of living thing that was on the place, has been put on the Wright farm, in readiness for their owner, should he ever come to claim them."

"Has Miss Hardinge had the consideration to hire that farm, with such an object?"

"They say she has bought it, out of the savings of her income. It seems she is mistress of her income, though under age. And this is the use she has made of some of her money."

"I had supposed she would have been married by this time. Mr. Drewett was thought to be engaged to her when I sailed."

"Yes: there is much talk about that, through the country; but they say Miss Lucy will never marry, until she has been of age a few weeks, in order that she may do what she pleases with her money, afore a husband can lay his hand on it. Mr. Rupert is married, I s'pose you heard, sir--and living away like a nabob with his bride, in one of the best houses in town. Some people say, that he has a right in a part of old Mrs. Bradfort's estate, which he will get as soon as Miss Lucy comes of age."

I did not like to pursue this part of the discourse any further, though it was balm to my wounds to hear these tidings of Lucy. The subject was too sacred, however, to be discussed with such a commentator, and I turned the discourse to Clawbonny, and the reports that might have circulated there concerning myself. Green told me all he knew, which was briefly as follows:

It seems that the second-mate of the Dawn, and such of her crew as had been put in the Speedy, and who had not been impressed either in the frigate itself, or in England after they were turned ashore, had found their way home, bringing with them an account of the capture of the ship, her extraordinary appearance near the four combatants, and their own attempt to escape. This last affair, in particular, had made some noise in the journals--a warm discussion having taken place on the subject of the right of Americans to run away with an English man-of-war's boat, under the circumstances in which these poor fellows had found themselves placed. In that day, parties in America took as lively an interest in the wars of Europe, as if the country were a belligerent; and politicians, or quasi statesmen, were little more than retailers of the most ultra English and ultra French opinions. It was sufficient for the Federalists to justify any act, if England did it; while the Democrats had almost as strong a disposition to defend all the enormities which the policy of Napoleon led him to commit. I say almost--for, to deal honestly with posterity, I do not think the French-American party was quite as French as the English-American party was English. These last had returned to their provincial dependence of thought; and, well-read in the English version of all political and moral truths, and little read in those of any other state of society, they believed, as he who worships at a distance from the shrine is known implicitly to yield his faith. The English party had actually a foundation in deeply-rooted opinion, and colonial admiration for the ancient seat of power, whereas the French owed its existence principally to opposition. The alliance of 1778 had some little influence among men old enough to have been active in the events of the revolution, it is true, but they existed as exceptions even in their own party. It was the English feeling that was natural, hearty, dependent, and deep; the other having been, as has just been stated, rooted as much in opposition, as in any other soil.

The public discussions of the fate of the Dawn, as a matter of course, had drawn much speculation, among my acquaintances, to my own. As month passed after month, and no letters reached America, the opinion became very general that the vessel was lost. At length, a ship from Jamaica brought in a blind story of the manner in which I had re-taken my vessel from Sennit; and, it now being known that we were only four left in the vessel, the conjecture was hazarded that we had been wrecked for want of force to take care of the ship; and I was set down as a drowned man.

Shortly after this opinion of my fate became general among my acquaintances, John Wallingford had appeared at Clawbonny. He made no change, however, spoke kindly to every one, told the slaves nothing should be altered, and gave them every reason to suppose that they would continue under a true Wallingford régime. It was generally understood he was to be my heir, and no one saw any occasion for the acts of violence that succeeded.

But, two months after John Wallingford's visit, Mr. Hardinge, and all connected with Clawbonny, had been astounded by the intelligence of the existence of the mortgage. A foreclosure under the statute, or 'statue,' as Jared had called it, was commenced, and a few months later the place was publicly sold at Kingston, none bidding more than five thousand dollars for it, less than a sixth of its worth. This sacrifice of real estate, however, under forced sales, was, and is, common enough in America, especially; it being generally understood that the creditor is prepared to rise in his bids, as necessity presents. In my case there was no one to protect my rights, Mr. Hardinge having attended the sale prepared to reason with my cousin on the propriety and generosity of his course, rather than prepared with good current coin to extinguish the claim. John Wallingford did not appear, however, and the sale took place without further competition, than one bid of Mr. Hardinge's; a bid that he was not properly prepared to make, but which he hazarded on his knowledge of Lucy's means and disposition. A man of the name of Daggett, a relative of John Wallingford's, by his mother's side, was the ostensible purchaser, and now professed to be the owner of my paternal acres. It was he who had taken possession under the purchase, had dismissed the negroes, and sent off the personal property; and he it was who had placed new servants on the farm and in the mill. To the surprise of everybody, John Wallingford had not appeared in the transaction, though it was understood he had a legal right to all my remaining effects, in the event of my real death. No will was proved or produced, however, nor was anything heard of, or concerning, my cousin! Mr. Daggett was a close and reserved man, and nothing could be learned on the subject from him. His right to Clawbonny could not be disputed, and after consulting counsel in the premises, Mr. Hardinge himself had been compelled, reluctantly, to admit it. Such was the substance of what I gleaned from the miller, in a random sort of conversation that lasted an hour. Of course, much remained to be explained, but I had learned enough, to know that I was virtually a beggar as to means, whatever I might be in feeling.

When I parted from Jared I gave him my address, and we were to meet again next day. The old man felt an interest in me that was soothing to my feelings, and I wished to glean all I could from him; more especially concerning Lucy and Mr. Hardinge. I now followed Marble and Neb to the boarding-house, one frequented by masters and mates of ships, the masters being of the humble class to condescend thus to mingle with their subordinates. We consumed the rest of the morning in establishing ourselves in our rooms, and in putting on our best round-abouts; for I was not the owner of a coat that had skirts to it, unless, indeed there might be a few old garments of that sort among the effects that had been removed from Clawbonny to the Wright farm. Notwithstanding this defect in my wardrobe, I would not have the reader suppose I made a mean or a disagreeable appearance. On the contrary, standing as I did, six feel one, in my shoes, attired in a neat blue round-about of mate's cloth, with a pair of quarter-deck trowsers, a clean white shirt, a black silk handkerchief, and a vest of a pretty but modest pattern, I was not at all ashamed to be seen. I had come from England, a country in which clothes are both good and cheap, and a trimmer-looking tar than I then was, seldom showed himself in the lower part of the town.

Marble and I had dined, and were preparing to sally forth on a walk up Broadway, when I saw a meagre, care-worn, bilious-looking sort of a person enter the house, and proceed towards the bar, evidently with an inquiry concerning some of the inmates. The bar-tender pointed at once to me, when the stranger approached, and with a species of confidence that seemed to proclaim that he fancied news to be the great end of life, and that all who were engaged in its dissemination were privileged beings, he announced himself as Colonel Warbler, the Editor of the New York Republican Freeman. I asked the gentleman into the common sitting-room, when the following dialogue took place between us.

"We have just heard of your arrival, Captain Wallingford," commenced the Colonel, all New York editors of a certain calibre seeming to be, ex-officio, of that blood-and-thunder rank, "and are impatient to place you, as it might be, rectus in curiâ, before the nation. Your case excited a good deal of feeling some months since, and the public mind may be said to be prepared to learn the whole story; or, in a happy condition to indulge in further excitement. If you will have the goodness to furnish me with the outlines, sir," coolly producing pen, ink, and paper without further ceremony, and preparing to write, "I promise you that the whole narrative shall appear in the Freeman of to-morrow, related in a manner of which you shall have no reason to complain. The caption is already written, and if you please, I will read it to you, before we go any further." Then without waiting to ascertain whether I did or did not please to hear him, the colonel incontinently commenced reading what he called his caption.

"'In the Schuylkill, arrived lately at Philadelphia, came passenger our esteemed fellow-citizen Captain Miles Wallingford"--in 1804, everybody had not got to be 'esquires,' even the editors not yet assuming that title of gentility ex officio. "This gentleman's wrongs have already been laid before our readers. From his own mouth we learn the following outline of the vile and illegal manner in which he has been treated by an English man-of-war called the Speedy, commanded by a sprig of nobility y'clepped Lord"--I have left a blank for the name--"an account which will awaken in the bosom of every true-hearted American sentiments of horror and feelings of indignation, at this new instance of British faith and British insolence on the high-seas. It will be seen by this account, that not satisfied with impressing all his crew, and in otherwise maltreating them, this scion of aristocracy has violated every article of the treaty between the two countries, as respects Captain Wallingford himself, and otherwise trodden on every principle of honour; in a word--set at naught all the commandments of God. We trust there will be found no man, or set of men in the country, to defend such outrageous conduct, and that even the minions of England, employed around the Federal presses of our country, will be ready to join with us, on this occasion, in denouncing British aggression and British usurpation.' There, sir, I trust that is quite to your liking."

"It is a little ex parte, Colonel, as I have quite as much complaint to make of French as of English aggression, having been twice captured, once by an English frigate, and again by a French privateer. I prefer to tell the whole story, if I am to tell any of it."

"Certainly, sir; we wish to relate all the enormities of which these arrogant English were guilty."

"I believe that, in capturing my ship, the English commander did me an act of great injustice, and was the cause of my ruin--"

"Stop, sir, if you please," interrupted Colonel Warbler writing with rapidity and zeal, "and thus caused the ruin of an industrious and honest man; ay, that ends a period beautifully--well, sir, proceed."

"But, I have no personal ill treatment to complain of; and, the act of the French was of precisely the same character; perhaps, worse, as I had got rid of the English prize-crew, when the Frenchman captured us in his turn, and prevented our obtaining shelter and a new crew in France." Colonel Warbler listened with cold indifference. Not a line would he write against the French, belonging to a very extensive school of disseminators of news who fancy it is a part of their high vocation to tell just as much, or just as little, of any transaction, as may happen to suit their own purposes. I pressed the injuries I had received from the French, on my visitor, so much the more warmly, on account of the reluctance he manifested to publish it; but all to no purpose. Next morning the Republican Freeman contained just such an account of the affair as comported with the consistency of that independent and manly journal; not a word being said about the French privateer, while the account of the proceedings of the English frigate was embellished with sundry facts and epithets that must have been obtained from Colonel Warbler's general stock in trade, as it was certainly not derived from me.

As soon as I got rid of this gentleman, which was not long after he discovered my desire to press the delinquency of the French on his notice, Marble and I left the house, on the original design of strolling up Broadway, and of looking at the changes produced by time. We had actually got a square, when I felt some one touch my elbow; turning, I found it was an utter stranger with a very eager, wonder-mongering sort of a countenance, and who was a good deal out of breath with running.

"Your pardon, sir; the bar-tender of the house where you lodge, tells me you are Captain Wallingford." I bowed an assent, foreseeing another application for facts.

"Well, sir. I hope you'll excuse the liberty I am taking, on account of its object. I represent the public, which is ever anxious to obtain the earliest information on all matters of general concernment, and I feel emboldened by duty, to introduce myself--Colonel Positive of the Federal Truth Teller, a journal that your honoured father once did us the favour to take--we have this moment heard of the atrocities committed on you, Captain Wallingford, by 'a brigand of a French piratical, picarooning, plundering vagabond,'" reading from what I dare say was another caption, prepared for the other side of the question; "a fresh instance of Gallic aggression, and republican, jacobinical insolence; atrocities that are of a character to awaken the indignation of every right-thinking American, and which can only find abettors among that portion of the community, which, possessing nothing, is never slow to sympathize in the success of this robber, though it be at the expense of American rights, and American prosperity."

As soon as Col. Positive had read this much, he stopped to take breath, looking at me, as if expecting some exclamations of admiration and delight.

"I have suffered by means of what I conceive to be a perfectly unauthorized act of a French privateer, Col. Positive," I replied; "but this wrong would not have been done me, had I not suffered previously by what I conceive to be an equally unjustifiable act of the English frigate, the Speedy, commanded by Captain Lord Harry Dermond, a son of the Irish Marquis of Thole."

"Bless me, sir, this is very extraordinary! An English frigate, did you say? It is very unusual for the vessels of that just nation ever to be guilty of an aggression, particularly as our common language, common descent, Saxon ancestors, and Saxon English, and all that sort of thing, you know, operate against it; whereas, sorry I am to say, each new arrival brings us some fresh instance of the atrocities of the myrmidons of this upstart Emperor of the French; a man, sir, whose deeds, sir, have never been paralleled since the day of Nero, Caligula, and all the other tyrants of antiquity. If you will favour me, Captain Wallingford, with a few of the particulars of this last atrocity of Bonaparte, I promise you it shall be circulated far and near, and that in a way to defy the malignant and corrupt perversions of any man, or set of men."

I had the cruelty to refuse compliance. It made no difference, however; for, next day, the Federal Truth Teller had an account of the matter, that was probably about as accurate as if I had related all the events myself, and which was also about as true as most of the jeremiads of the journals that are intended for brilliant effect. It was read with avidity by all the federalists of America; while its counterpart in the Republican Freeman, passed, pari passu, through all the democratic papers, and was devoured, with a similar appetite, by the whole of that side of the question. This distinction, I afterwards ascertained, was made by nearly the whole country. If a federalist was my auditor, he would listen all day to that part of my story which related to the capture by the French privateer; while it was vice versâ with the democrats. Most of the merchants being federalists, and the English having so much more connection with my narrative than the French, I soon found I was making myself exceedingly unpopular by speaking on the subject at all; nor was it long before a story got in circulation, that I was nothing but a runaway English deserter myself--I, the fifth Miles of my name, at Clawbonny! As for Marble, men were ready to swear he had robbed his captain, and got off from an English two-decker only four years before. It is unnecessary to tell people of the world the manner in which stories to the prejudice of an unpopular man are fabricated, and with what industry they are circulated; so I shall leave the reader to imagine what would have been our fate, had we not possessed the prudence to cease dwelling on our wrongs. Instead of thinking of appealing to the authorities of my country for redress, I felt myself fortunate in having the whole affair forgotten, as soon as possible, leaving me some small portion of character.

I confess, while returning home, I had sometimes fancied I might be protected by the country of which I was a native, for which I had fought, and to which I paid taxes; but I was only three-and-twenty, and did not then understand the workings of laws, particularly in a state of society that submits to have its most important interests under foreign control. Had I received a wrong from only a Frenchman, or an Englishman, I should have fared a little better, in appearance, at least, though my money was irretrievably gone; for one political party, or the other, as the case might have been, would have held me up to ex parte sympathy, so long as it suited its purposes, or until the novelty of some new case offered an inducement to supplant me. But I had been wronged by both belligerents; and it was soon agreed, by mutual consent, to drop the whole subject. As for redress or compensation, I was never fool enough to seek it. On the contrary, finding how unpopular it made a man among the merchants, to prove anything against Great Britain, just at that moment, I was wisely silent, thus succeeding in saving my character, which would otherwise have followed my property, as the shortest method of making a troublesome declaimer hold his tongue.

Most young persons will doubtless hesitate to believe that such a state of things could ever have existed in a nation calling itself independent; but, in the first place, it must be remembered, that the passions of factions never leave their followers independent of their artifices and designs; and, in the next place, all who knew the state of this country in 1804, must admit it was not independent in mind of either England or France. Facts precede thought in everything among us; and public opinion was as much in arrears of the circumstances of the country, then, as--as--to what shall I liken it?--why, as it is to-day. I know no better or truer parallel. I make no doubt that the same things would be acted over again, were similar wrongs to be committed by the same powerful belligerents.

Marble was ludicrously enraged at these little instances of the want of true nationality in his countrymen. He was not a man to be bullied into holding his tongue; and, for years afterwards, he expressed his opinions on the subject of an American's losing his ship and cargo, as I had lost mine, without even a hope of redress, with a freedom that did more credit to his sense of right, than to his prudence. As for myself, as has just been said, I never even attempted to procure justice. I knew its utter hopelessness; and the Dawn and her cargo went with the hundreds of other ships and cargoes, that were sunk in the political void created by the declaration of war, in 1812.

This is an unpleasant subject to me. I could gladly have passed it over, for it proves that the political association of this country failed in one of the greatest ends of all such associations;--but nothing is ever gained by suppressing truth, on such a matter. Let those who read reflect on the past: it may possibly have a tendency to render the future more secure, giving to the American citizen in reality, some of those rights which it so much accords with our habits to boast of his possessing. If concealment did any good, I would gladly be silent; but diseases in the body politic require a bold and manly treatment, even more than those in the physical system. I remember the tone of the presses of the trading towns of this country on the subject of the late French treaty,--one of the most flagitious instances of contempt, added to wrong, of which history supplies an instance, and will own I do not feel much encouraged to hope for any great improvement.

After we got rid of Colonel No. 2, Marble and I continued our walk. We passed several persons of my acquaintance, but not one of them recognised me in my present attire. I was not sorry to see this, as I was wearied of my story, and could gladly remain in a species of incognito, for a few days. But, New York was comparatively a small town in 1804, and everybody knew almost everybody's face who was anybody. There was little real hope, therefore, of my escaping recognition for any great length of time.

We strolled up above St. Paul's, then a high quarter of the town, and where a few houses had been erected in what was then a new and enlarged style. On the stoop of one of these patrician residences--to use a word that has since come much into use--I saw a fashionably pressed man, standing, picking his teeth, with the air of its master. I had nearly passed this person, when an exclamation from him, and his calling my mate by name, caused me to stop. It was Rupert!

"Marble, my dear fellow, why, how fare you?" said our old ship-mate, descending the steps, with an indolent, half-cordial, half-condescending manner; extending his hand at the same time, which Moses received and shook heartily.--"The sight of you reminds me of old times, and salt water!"

"Mr. Hardinge," answered my mate, who knew nothing of Rupert's defects, beyond his want of aptitude for the sea, "I'm heartily glad to fall in with you. Do your father and handsome sister live here?"

"Not they, old Moses;" answered Rupert, still without casting his eyes on me. "This is my own house, in which I shall be very happy to see you, and to make you acquainted with my wife, who is also an old acquaintance of yours--Miss Emily Merton that was--the daughter of Gen. Merton, of the British army."

"Blast the British army! and blast the British navy, too!" cried Marble, with more feeling than manners. "But for the last, our old friend Miles, here, would now be a rich man."

"Miles!" Rupert repeated, with an astonishment that had more nature in it than had been usual with him of late years. "This is true, then, and you have not been lost at sea, Wallingford?"

"I am living, as you may see, Mr. Hardinge, and glad of this opportunity to inquire after your father and sister?"

"Both are well, I thank you: the old gentleman, in particular, will be delighted to see you. He has felt your misfortunes keenly, and did all he could to avert the sad affair about Clawbonny. You know he could as well raise a million, as raise five or ten thousand dollars; and poor Lucy is still a minor, and can only touch her income, the savings of which were insufficient, just then. We did all we could, I can assure you, Wallingford; but I was about commencing house-keeping, and was in want of cash at the moment,--and you know how it is under such circumstances. Poor Clawbonny! I was exceedingly sorry when I heard of it; though they say this Mr. Daggett, your successor, is going to do wonders with it,--a capitalist, they tell me, and able to carry out all his plans."

"I am glad Clawbonny has fallen into good hands, since it has passed out of mine. Good evening, Mr. Hardinge, I shall take an early opportunity to find your father, and to learn the particulars."

"Yes; he'll be exceedingly glad to see you, Wallingford; and I'm sure it will always afford me pleasure to aid you, in any way I can. I fear it must be very low water with you?"

"If having nothing to meet a balance of some twenty or thirty thousand dollars of unpaid debt is what you call low water, the tide is out of my pocket, certainly. But, I shall not despair; I am young, and have a noble, manly profession."

"Yes, I dare say, you'll do remarkably well, Wallingford," Rupert answered, in a patronizing manner. "You were always an enterprising fellow; and one need have no great concern for you. It would hardly be delicate to ask you to see Mrs. Hardinge, just as you are--not but what you appear uncommonly well in your round-about, but I know precisely how it is with young men when there are ladies in the case; and Emily is a little over-refined, perhaps."

"Yet, Mrs. Hardinge has seen me often in a round-about, and passed hours in my company, when I have been dressed just as I am at this moment."

"Ay, at sea. One gets used to everything at sea. Good evening; I'll bear you in mind, Wallingford, and may do something for you. I am intimate with the heads of all the principal mercantile houses, and shall bear you in mind, certainly. Good evening, Wallingford.--A word with you, Marble, before we part."

I smiled bitterly--and walked proudly from before Rupert's door. Little did I then know that Lucy was seated within thirty feet of me, listening to Andrew Drewett's conversation and humour. Of the mood in which she was listening, I shall have occasion to speak presently. As for Marble, when he overtook me, I was informed that Rupert had stopped him in order to ascertain our address;--a piece of condescension for which I had not the grace to be thankful.

Chapter XXVII.

"The weary sun hath made a golden set,
And, by the bright track of his fiery car,
Gives token of a goodly day to-morrow."

Shakspeare.

I was quite as much surprised at my own manner towards Rupert, as he could be himself. No doubt he ascribed it to my fallen fortune, for, at the commencement of the interview, he was a good deal confused, and his confidence rose in proportion as he fancied mine was lessened. The moderation I manifested, however, was altogether owing to Lucy, whose influence on my feelings never ceased. As for Marble, he thought all was right, and was very decided in his approval of Rupert's behaviour and appearance.

"'Tisn't every man that can make a seaman, Miles," he said, "for it's a gift that comes nat'rally, like singing, or rope-dancing. I dare say Rupert will do very well ashore, in the gentleman line, though he's no great catch afloat, as all will admit who ever sailed with him. The lad don't want for stuff; but it's shore stuff, a'ter all; and that will never pass muster in blue water. I dare say, now, this Imperor-Gineral, Bonaparte, would make a bloody poor shipmaster, if a body was to try him."

I made no answer, and we strolled on until dark. Then we returned to our lodgings, and turned-in. Next morning we breakfasted with the rest, and I was about to set out in search of a lawyer, to take his opinion on the subject of my insurance, though I had little or no hope of recovering anything, when I was told two gentlemen wished to see me. At first sight, I fancied that more editors were in quest of news; but we were no sooner alone together, than one of these persons let me into the secret of his errand, in a way that was well enough as respects the suaviter in modo, while it could not be said to be in the least deficient in the fortiter in re.

"I am sorry to say, Capt. Wallingford," this person commenced "that I have a writ to arrest you, for a sum that will require very respectable bail--no less than sixty thousand dollars."

"Well done, my upright cousin," I muttered; "this is losing no time, certainly. I owe half that money, I admit, sir, if my farm only sold for five thousand dollars, as I hear, and I suppose I am arrested for the penalty of my bond. But, at whose suit am I thus pursued?"

Here, the second person announced himself as the attorney of the plaintiff, excusing his presence on the pretence that he hoped to be of service in amicably arranging the affair.

"My client is Mr. Thomas Daggett, of Clawbonny, Ulster county, who holds your bonds as the administrator of the estate of the late John Wallingford, deceased, a gentleman to whom I believe you were related."

"The late John Wallingford! Is my cousin then dead?"

"He departed this life eight months since, dying quite unexpectedly. Letters of administration have been granted to Mr. Daggett, who is a son of his mother's sister, and a principal heir, the party dying intestate. It is a great pity that the law excludes you from the succession, being as you are of the name."

"My kinsman gave me reason to think I was to be his heir, as it was understood he was to be mine. My will in his favour was left in his hands."

"We are aware of that, sir, and your death being supposed, for a considerable period, it was thought your personals would descend to us, in part, by devise, which might have prevented the necessity of taking the unpleasant step to which we are now driven. The question was, which died first, you, or your cousin, and that fact, you will easily understand, we had no means of establishing. As it is, the duty of the administrator compels him to proceed, with as little delay as possible."

"I have no alternative, then, but to go to gaol. I know not the person on earth, I can or could ask to become my bail for a sum as large as even that I justly owe, to say nothing of the penalty of the bond,'"

"I am very sorry to hear this, Captain Wallingford," Mr. Meekly, the attorney, very civilly replied. "We will walk together, leaving the officer to follow. Perhaps the matter may be arranged amicably."

"With all my heart, sir. But, before quitting this house, I will discharge my bill, and communicate my position to a couple of friends, who are waiting in the passage."

Neb was one of these friends: for I felt I was fast getting into a condition which rendered the friendship of even my slaves of importance to me. That worthy fellow and Marble joined us on a signal from me, when I simply let them into the secret of my affairs.

"Arrested!" said Moses, eyeing the sheriff's officer with sovereign contempt; though he was a sturdy fellow, and one who had every disposition to do his duty. "Arrested! Why, Miles, you can handle both these chaps, yourself; and, with Neb's and my assistance, could work 'em up into spun-yarn without a winch!"

"That may be true, Moses: but I cannot handle the law, even with your powerful aid; nor should I wish to, if I could. I am bound to gaol, my friends,--having no bail,--so----"

"Bail! Why I'll be your bail; and, if you want two, there's Neb."

"I fancy the gentleman don't much understand being taken on a writ," the attorney simpered.

"I not understand it! That's a bloody poor guess of your'n, my friend.--When we had the scrape with the Hamburghers, in Philadelphy,--it's now coming thirty years,--"

"Never mind all that just now, Moses. I wish you to pay my bill here; give Neb the small bag of my clothes to bring up to the gaol, and keep my other effects under your own care. Of course you will come to see me, by-and bye: but I now order you not to follow us."

I then left the house, with a rapidity that gave the officer some uneasiness, I believe. Once in the street, however, my pace became more moderate; and dropping alongside of the attorney, we fell into discourse on the subject of the arrangement.

"To be frank with you, Captain Wallingford," said Meekly, "my client never expects to recover the full amount of his demand: it being understood your personals are now limited to certain jewelry; the stock of your late farm; a few negroes; a sloop; some furniture, &c. No, sir, we do not expect to obtain the whole of our demand. Certain securities in our hands will extinguish much of it, though a large balance will remain."

"As Mr. Daggett has already got real estate richly worth five-and-thirty thousand dollars, and which brings a clear two thousand a-year,--to say nothing of its advantages as a residence,--besides bonds and mortgages for twenty odd thousand more, I am fully sensible of his moderation. The forty thousand dollars I owed my cousin will be amply repaid to his heirs, though I pass my life in jail."

"You misapprehend the affair, entirely. Mr. Daggett does not hold Clawbonny as administrator at all; but as a purchaser under a mortgage sale. He did not buy it himself, of course; but has received a deed from a nephew of his, who was a bond fide bidder. The amount bid,--five thousand, two hundred and fifty dollars,--is duly endorsed on your bond, and you have credit for it. If no one bid higher, the property had to go."

"Yes, sir: I very well understand how property goes, in the absence of the debtor, at forced sales. But what is the nature of the proposition you intend to make?"

"Mr. Daggett understands you possess some very valuable pearls, that are supposed to be worth one thousand dollars, with a good deal of plate, &c., &c. Now he proposes that you assign to the estate he represents all your personals at an appraisal, when he will credit you with the amount, and suspend proceedings for the balance. In a word--give you time."

"And what idea has Mr. Daggett of the sum I should thus receive?"

"He is disposed to be liberal, and thinks you might get credit for about four thousand dollars."

"My personal property, including the pearls of which you speak, quite a thousand dollars worth of plate, even at the price of old silver, the sloop, the stock, horses, carriages, farming utensils, and without counting the slaves, all of whom I intend to set free, if the law will allow it, must nearly or quite double that sum, sir. Unless Mr. Daggett is disposed to raise his views of the value of my effects, I should prefer to remain in custody, and see what I can do by private sale. As he will receive every cent of the securities received from my sister's estate, quite $22,000, and now possesses more than $5,000 from Clawbonny, the balance I shall really owe cannot exceed $13,000."

"Were you to confess judgment, sir, and leave the property under execution--"

"I'll do nothing of the sort, Mr. Meekly--on that subject my mind is made up. One forced sale is quite enough for a novice."

"We shall soon reach the jail, sir--perhaps its sight may--"

"It will not, sir. Whenever Mr. Daggett shall be disposed to receive my property at a just valuation, I may be ready to arrange the matter with him, for I have no disposition to deny the debt, or to avoid its payment; but, as he has adopted his own mode of proceeding, I am ready to abide by it. Good morning, Mr. Meekly; I see no use in your accompanying me any further."

I was thus decided, because I saw I had to deal with an extortioner. A rogue himself, Mr. Daggett was afraid I might get rid of my personal property before he could issue an execution by the regular mode; and he anticipated frightening or constraining me into an arrangement. It would be my business to disappoint him; and I assumed an air of confidence that soon shook off my companion. A few minutes later, the key of the old stone debtor's jail was turned upon me. I had a little money, and reluctant to be shut up with the company I found in the building, I succeeded in procuring a small, ill-furnished room, to myself.

These preliminaries were hardly settled, when Neb was admitted with the bag. The poor fellow had been in tears; for he not only felt for me, but he felt for the disgrace and misfortune which had alighted on the whole Clawbonny stock. He had yet to learn that the place itself was gone, and I shrank from telling him the fact; for, to his simple mind, it would be like forcing body and soul asunder. All the negroes considered themselves as a part of Clawbonny, and a separation must have appeared in their eyes like some natural convulsion. Neb brought me a letter. It was sealed with wax, and bore the impression of the Hardinge arms. There was also an envelop, and the address had been written by Rupert. In short, everything about this letter denoted ease, fashion, fastidiousness, and the observance of forms. I lost no time in reading the contents, which I copy, verbatim.

"Broadway, Wednesday morning.

"Dear Wallingford,

"It has just occurred to me that the enclosed may be of service to you; and I reproach myself for not having bethought me of your probable necessities when I saw you. I regret it is not in my power to ask you to dine with me, en famille, to-day; but Mrs. Hardinge has company, and we are engaged out every other day this week. I shall fall in with you again, some day, however, when I hope to be less engaged. Lucy has just heard of your safety and arrival, and has gone to write a note to my father, who will be glad to learn you are still in the land of the living. The General, who lives with us, desires to be mentioned, and hopes when he returns to England, it may be as your passenger. Adieu, dear Wallingford; I shall never forget our boyish pranks, which, I dare say, sometimes cause you to smile.

"Your's, &c.

"Rupert Hardinge."

This letter contained a bank-note for twenty dollars! Yes, the man to whom I had given twenty thousand dollars, sent me, in my distress, this generous donation, to relieve my wants. I need hardly say, I sent the bank-note back to him, by the hands of Neb, on the instant, with a cold note of acknowledgment. I had no occasion for his charity, at least.

I passed a most uncomfortable hour alone, after Neb was gone. Then a turnkey came to inform me that a gentleman and lady--a clergyman, he believed--were in the private parlour, and wished to see me. It was doubtless Mr. Hardinge--could his companion be Lucy? I was too anxious, too eager, to lose any time, and, rushing toward the room, was at once admitted. There they were--Lucy and her father. Neb had seen Chloe, in calling at Rupert's door--had heard much and told much. Mr. Hardinge was on the point of going in quest of me; but, learning where I was, he had barely given his daughter time to put on a hat and shawl, and conducting her across the Park, brought her himself to visit me in prison. I saw, at a glance, that Lucy was dreadfully agitated; that she was pale, though still handsomer than ever; and that she was Lucy herself, in character, as in person.

"Miles, my dear, dear boy!" cried the good old divine, folding me in his arms, "for this mercy, may God alone receive the praise! Everybody gave you up, but Lucy and myself, and we could not, would not believe you, too, were lost to us for ever!"

As my former guardian still clasped me to his bosom, as if I still remained a child, I could perceive that dear Lucy was weeping as if ready to break her heart. Then she looked up, and tried to smile; though I could see the effort was made solely on my account. I caught her extended hand, and kissed it over and over again. The dear, dear girl trembled in every fibre of her body.

"All my misfortunes are forgotten," I cried, "in finding you thus, in finding you unchanged, in finding you still Lucy Hardinge!"

I scarce knew what I was uttering, though I saw Lucy's face was covered with blushes, and that a smile, which I found of inexplicable signification, now rose readily enough to her beautiful mouth. On the whole, I think there must have been some eight or ten minutes, during which neither of the three knew particularly well what was said or done. Lucy was both smiles and tears; though keen anxiety to know what had occurred, and how I came to be in gaol, was strongly expressed in her countenance, as well as in some of her words. As for myself, I was beside myself, and acted like a fool.

After a time, we were all seated, when I narrated the manner in which I had lost my ship, and the reason why Clawbonny had been sold, and why I supposed I was thus arrested.

"I am glad my cousin, John Wallingford, had no concern with these transactions; though I deeply regret the reason why my bond has passed into other hands. It would have rendered my misfortunes still harder to be borne, could I suppose that a kinsman had laid so deep a plot to ruin me, under the semblance of kindness. His death, however, sets that point at rest."

"I do not like his talking of making you his heir, and neglecting to do it," rejoined Mr. Hardinge. "Men should never promise, and forget to redeem their words. It has a suspicious look."

Lucy had not spoken the whole time I was relating my story. Her serene eye beamed on me in a way to betray the interest she felt; but not a syllable escaped her until her father had made the observation just given.

"It is of no moment, now," she then said, "what may have been the motive of Mr. John Wallingford. With Miles, I thought him a rough, but an honest man; but honest men may be pardoned for not foreseeing their own sudden deaths. The question, now, my dear father, is, how Miles can be got out of this wretched place, in the shortest possible time."

"Ay, Miles, my dear boy: heaven forbid you should sleep in such a spot. How shall we go to work?"

"I am afraid, sir, I shall sleep many nights here. The debt I really owe is about thirteen thousand dollars; and the writ, I believe, is issued for the entire penalty of the bond. As the motive for arresting me is, probably, to drive me into a compromise, by confessing judgment, and giving up my personal property to be sacrificed, as Clawbonny has been, it is not probable that bail for a less amount than the law allows the plaintiff to claim, will be received. I do not know the man who will become surety for me in that amount."

"Well, I know two.--Rupert and myself."

The idea of receiving such a favour from Rupert was particularly unpleasant to me; and I saw by the expression of Lucy's face that she entered into my feelings.

"I am afraid, sir," I said, after thanking Mr. Hardinge by a warm pressure of the hand, "that you are not rich enough. The deputy sheriff has told me he has instructions to be rigid about the bail; and I apprehend neither you, nor Rupert, can swear he is worth fifty thousand dollars."

"Bless me!--bless me! Is that really necessary, Miles?"

"If required, I believe the law insists on security to the amount of the judgment claimed. Rupert lives largely, I see, and yet I doubt if he would be willing to swear to that."

Mr. Hardinge's face became very sorrowful; and he paused a moment before answering.

"I am not in Rupert's secrets, neither is Lucy," he then said. "I hope all is right: though the thought that he might possibly play, has sometimes crossed my anxious mind. He is married to Miss Merton; has purchased and furnished a Broadway house, and is living at a large rate. When I spoke to him on the subject, he asked me if I thought 'English ladies of condition gave empty hands in marriage?' I don't know how it is, my dear Miles, but I always fancied that the Mertons had nothing but the Colonel's salary to live on."

"Major Merton," I answered, laying an emphasis on the brevet rank the worthy individual actually possessed, "Major Merton has told me as much as this, himself."

Mr. Hardinge actually groaned, and I saw that Lucy turned pale as death. The former had no knowledge of the true character of his son; but he had all the apprehensions that a father would naturally feel under such circumstances. I saw the necessity--nay, the humanity, of relieving both.

"You know me too well, my dear guardian--excellent Lucy--to think that I would deliberately deceive either of you. What I now tell you, is to prevent Rupert from being too harshly judged. I know whence Rupert derived a large sum of money, previously to my sailing. It was legally obtained, and is, or was, rightfully his. I do not say it was large enough long to maintain him in the style in which he lives; but it can so maintain him a few years. You need fear neither cards, nor positive dishonesty. Rupert has no disposition for either: he dislikes the first, and is too prudent for the last."

"God be thanked for this!" the divine exclaimed devoutly. "I had really frightened myself, with my own folly. So, so, Master Rupert; you have been making money and holding your peace! Well, I like his modesty; Rupert is clever, Miles, and I trust will one day take an honourable station at the bar. His marriage has been a little too early, for one of his means, perhaps; but I feel encouraged now that I find he can make money honourably, and legally, and justly."

I had said nothing of the honourable, or the just; but what weakness will not parental affection encourage? As for Lucy, her countenance told me she suspected the truth. Never before had I seen on those usually placid, and always lovely features, an expression of so much humiliation. For a single instant, it almost amounted to anguish. Recovering her self-possession, however, she was the first to turn the discourse to its proper channel.

"All this time, we are forgetting Miles," she said. "It would seem, father, that he thinks neither you, nor Rupert, rich enough to be his bail--can I be of any use, in this way?"

Lucy spoke firmly, and in the manner of one who was beginning to be accustomed to consider herself of some account in the way of money; but, a bright flush suffused her face, as she thus seemed to make herself of more moment than was her wont--to pass out of her sex, as it might be.

"A thousand thanks, dearest Lucy, for the offer," I said, eagerly, "but could you become my bail, I certainly would not permit it. It is enough that you come to visit me here, without further connecting your name with my debts. A minor, however, cannot become security. Mr. Daggett will keep me here a few weeks; when he finds I am employing agents to sell my effects, I fancy he is sufficiently a rogue himself to apprehend the money will get beyond the reach of his execution, and he will offer to compromise. Once at large, I can always go to sea; if not as master, at least as a mate."

"Had we been as proud as yourself, Miles, Clawbonny would have been less dear to us."

"It is not pride, but propriety, Lucy, to prevent you from doing a thing for which there is no necessity, and which might subject you to impertinent observations. No, I'll set about disposing of my personal property at once; that will soon bring Mr. Daggett to some sense of decency."

"If a minor cannot be received as bail, there is no more to be said," Lucy answered; "else would I prove to you, Miles, that I can be as obstinate as you are yourself. At all events, I can be a purchaser of jewels, if wanting a few months of my majority; fortunately, I have nearly a year's income on hand. You see, Miles,"--Lucy again blushed brightly, though she smiled--"what an accountant I am getting to be--but, I can commence at once by purchasing your pearls. They are already in my possession for safe keeping, and many is the covetous glance they have received from me. Those precious pearls! I think you valued them at three thousand dollars, Miles," Lucy continued, "and my father will at once pay you that sum on my behalf. Then send for the lawyer of your persecutor, for I can call him nothing else, and offer to pay that much on his demand provided he will accept my father as bail. If he be the son of being you fancy him, and so his acts I think prove him to be, he will be glad to accept the offer."

I was delighted at the readiness of resources this proved in Lucy, nor was the project in the least unlikely to succeed. Could I get four or five thousand dollars together, I had no doubt Daggett would accept Mr. Hardinge for bail, as it was only as surety for my appearance in court. That was then required, and no one could really think I would abscond and leave my old guardian in the lurch. Still, I could not think of thus robbing Lucy. Left to her own sense of propriety, I well knew she would never dream of investing so large a sum as the pearls were really worth, in ornaments for her person; and the pearls were worth but little more than half the sum she had named.

"This will not do," I answered, expressing my gratitude with my eyes, "and no more need be said about it. I cannot rob you, dearest Lucy, because you are so ready to submit to be robbed. Leave me here a few days, and Mr. Meekly will come to volunteer a plan of setting me free."

"I have it!" exclaimed Mr. Hardinge, jumping up and seizing his hat. "Lucy, I'll be back in fifteen minutes; then we'll bear Miles off in triumph, to your own house. Yes, yes, the scheme cannot fail, with a lawyer of any respectability."

"May I know what it is, dear papa?" Lucy asked, glancing expressively towards me.

"Why, it's just this. I'll go and find the bishop, who'll do anything to oblige me, and he and I'll go, in company, to this Mr. Meekly's office, and pledge our words as divines, that Miles shall appear in court, as the under-sheriff told me would be required, when all will be settled to our heart's content. On my way to the bishop's, I'll just stop in at Richard Harrison's office, and take his opinion in the matter."

"Well, sir, the notion of seeing Richard Harrison is a good one. He may suggest something in the way of practice that will be useful to us. If you could step across the way, and get him to pay me a short visit, I should be infinitely obliged to you. I was about to take his advice on the subject of my insurance when arrested, and I wish that point disposed of."

Mr. Hardinge listened attentively, and then he left the room, telling Lucy he would be back in a few minutes. It might have been an awkward situation for most young ladies, thus to be left alone with a prisoner in gaol; but Lucy was so much accustomed to the intimacy that bound us together, I do not think its peculiarities struck her at the moment. When her father went out of the room, she was in deep thought, nor did she appear to rouse herself from it, until he had been gone some little time. Lucy was seated, but I had risen to see Mr. Hardinge to the door of the room, and was walking slowly back and forth. The dear girl arose, came to me, took one of my hands in both her own, and looked anxiously into my face, for some little time, ere she spoke.

"Miles," she said, "I will say no more of the pearls, no more of my own money, and will prevent all allusion to Rupert's appearing in your behalf, if you will accept the bail I can provide for you. I know a gentleman who will accept my word as his surety, who is rich enough to be received, and who is under a deep obligation to you, for I have often heard him say as much. You may not know how ready he will be to oblige you, but I do; and I now ask you to give me your word; you will not refuse his assistance, even though he should be an utter stranger to you?"

"How is it possible, Lucy, that you can have any knowledge of such a person?"

"Oh! you cannot imagine what a woman of business I am becoming! You would not refuse me for your bail, were I a man and of age, Miles?"

"Certainly not--feeling as I do towards you, Lucy, I would sooner receive such a favour from you, than from any human being. But you are not a man, thank God, nor of age."

"Then promise me the small favour of accepting this service from the person I shall send to you. It would break all our hearts to think you were remaining here in gaol, while we are living in luxury. I will not relinquish your hand, till you give me a promise."

"That look is sufficient, Lucy; I promise all you can ask."

So intense had the feelings of the dear girl become, that she burst into tears, the moment her mind was relieved, and covered her face with both hands. It was but a passing burst of feeling, and a radiant smile soon chased every trace of sorrow from her sweet, sweet countenance.

"Now, Miles, I am certain we shall soon have you out of this horrid place," she cried; "and before the execution they tell us of, can issue, as they call it, we shall have time to make some proper arrangement for you. I shall be of age, by that time; and I can at least become your creditor, instead of that odious Mr. Daggett. You would not hesitate to owe me money, Miles, in preference to him?"

"Dearest Lucy, there is nothing I would not be willing to owe to you, and that in preference to any other living creature, not even excepting your revered and beloved father."

Lucy looked deeply gratified; and I saw another of those inexplicable smiles lurking around her lovely mouth, which almost tempted me to demand an explanation of its meaning. Ere there was time for this, however, her countenance became very, very sad, and she turned her tearful eyes toward me.

"Miles, I fear I understood your allusion, when you spoke of Rupert's money," she said. "I feared poor, sainted Grace would do this; and I knew you would strip yourself of every dollar to comply with her wishes. I wonder the idea never occurred to me before; but it is so hard to think ill of a brother! I ask no questions, for I see you are determined not to answer them--perhaps have given a pledge to your sister to that effect: but we cannot live under this disgrace; and the day I am twenty-one, this grievous, grievous wrong must be repaired. I know that Grace's fortune had accumulated to more than twenty thousand dollars; and that is a sum sufficient to pay all you owe, and to leave you enough to begin the world anew."

"Even were what you fancy true, do you think I would consent to rob you, to pay Rupert's debts?"

"Talk not of robbery. I could not exist under the degradation of thinking any of us had your money, while debt and imprisonment thus hung over you. There is but one thing that can possibly prevent my paying you back Grace's fortune, the day I am of age, as you will see, Miles."

Again that inexplicable smile passed over Lucy's face, and I was resolved to ask its meaning, when the approaching footstep of Mr. Hardinge prevented it.

"Mr. Harrison is not in," cried the divine, as he entered the room; "but I left a note for him, telling him that his old acquaintance, Captain Wallingford, had pressing need of his services. He has gone to Greenwich, to his country place, but will be back in the course of the day, and I have desired he will come to Wall street, the instant he can. I would not blazon your misfortunes, Miles; but the moment he arrives, you shall hear from him. He is an old school-fellow of mine, and will be prompt to oblige me. Now, Miss Lucy, I am about to release you from prison. I saw a certain Mr. Drewett walking in the direction of Wall-street, and had the charity to tell him you would be at home in ten minutes."

Lucy arose with an alacrity I could hardly forgive. The colour deepened on her face, and I thought she even hurried her father away, in a manner that was scarcely sufficiently reserved. Ere they left the room, however, the dear girl took an opportunity to say, in a low voice, "Remember, Miles, I hold you strictly to your promise: in one hour, you shall be free."

Chapter XXVIII.

"She half-enclosed me in her arms,
   She pressed me with a meek embrace;
 And bending back her head, looked up
   And gazed upon my face."

Coleridge.

I saw no one for the next two hours. A window of the parlour, where I was permitted to remain, overlooked the soi-disant park--or rather Manhattan-disant--and it was not long before I caught a glimpse of my mate and Neb, lying off and on, or blockading the jail, lest I should be secretly carried to parts unknown, or some other great evil should approach me from without. What these two honest and affectionate fellows meant by thus maintaining their post, I did not know, it is true; but such was my conjecture. At length Neb disappeared, and was absent an hour. When he retained, he had a coil of rope over his shoulder, when the two took a station at a safe distance from my prison, and began to measure off fathoms, to cut, knot and splice. I was amused with their diligence, which made no abatement until it was interrupted by myself. Of the manner in which that was effected I shall have occasion to speak presently.

About two hours after I was left by Lucy and her father, a keeper came to announce another visitor. I was expecting my own attorney or Mr. Harrison; but the reader will judge of my surprise when Andrew Drewett entered the room. He was accompanied by the jailer, who held a letter in his hand, and who astounded me by saying--

"Captain Wallingford, I have instructions here to open the door for you--bail has been entered."

The jailer disappeared.

"And this I owe to you, Mr. Drewett!"

"I wish I could say as much, with all my heart, my dear sir," Andrew replied, taking my hand, and giving it a warm, cordial shake; "but it would not be strictly true. After saving my life, I should not have suffered you to lie in jail for want of so small a favour as giving bail for your appearance in court, certainly; but would, and will, gladly be your special bail, at the proper time. Let the credit fall, however, only where it is due. Miss Hardinge asked me to obtain your release, and her wishes are second only to my own gratitude."

This was said in a frank, manly manner; and I wondered I had never viewed Andrew Drewett in a light so favourable before. He had improved in person, bore himself like a gentleman I now thought, and was every way a pleasing, well-mannered, well-dressed, and intelligent-looking young man. I could do all justice to him but pardon him Lucy's preference.

"Lucy can never forget our childish intimacy," I said, a little confused. "She left me, declaring an intention to do something of the sort; though I confess I was not exactly prepared for this. You are a man to be envied, Mr. Drewett, if any man on earth is!"

Andrew looked embarrassed. He glanced at me, coloured, turned his look out at the window, then, by a vast effort, seemed to regain his self-command.

"I believe I understand you, Wallingford," he said. "You mean, in being engaged to Lucy Hardinge?"

"I can mean nothing else--all I hear--all I have seen--this last act, in particular, tells me as much."

"All have then told you wrong. I am not so fortunate as to possess the affections of Miss Hardinge; and no man will gain her hand who does not first obtain her heart; ay, and her whole heart, too."

I was astounded! What! Lucy not engaged to Drewett; not loving him, by his own admission; not likely to love him! I believe Andrew had no difficulty in comprehending my feelings in part, for he seemed disposed to continue the subject; and, what was infinitely to his credit, to continue it in a way that should leave no unpleasant uncertainty hanging about the real position of the dear girl.

"It is only quite lately," he said, "that I have seen the great injustice that I and my family have unconsciously committed towards Miss Hardinge. As you are an old--a very old friend of hers, I will be explicit with you, and endeavour, in some small degree, to excuse myself; though I feel that it can never be done fully. You tell me, that you have heard I was engaged to Miss Hardinge?"

"Unquestionably: I think it was the opinion of her own father; though he must have believed the promise conditional, as Lucy never would marry without his approbation."

"Mr. Hardinge has then been strangely misled. It is true, Mr. Wallingford, that I have long admired Miss Hardinge, and that I offered myself years ago. I was refused from the first. But, Lucy had the frankness to own that she was free to dispose of her hand; and I persevered contrary to her advice, her wishes, and I may say her entreaties. I think she esteems me; and I know she has a strong regard for my mother, who is almost as fond of her as I am myself. This esteem and regard I hoped might ripen into love, and my presumption has brought its own punishment, It is now about six months--I remember it was shortly after we heard of your probable loss--that I had a final conversation with her on the subject, when I became convinced my prospects were hopeless. Since that time, I have endeavoured to conquer my passion; for love unrequited, I suppose you know, will not last for ever; and I have so far succeeded, as to tell you all this without feeling the pain it would once have cost me. Still, I retain the deepest respect for Miss Hardinge; and a single encouraging look would even now recall me. I am of opinion, however, she intends never to marry. But, let us quit this place, which has no longer any claim on you."

I was in a state scarcely to know what. I did. It was comparatively little to me to learn I was free myself, after so unexpectedly learning that Lucy was also free. Lucy--whom I had for years supposed to be irrevocably engaged; and whom I had continued to love, even against hope Andrew Drewett, I fancied, had never loved as I did, or he would not have made the speech he did; or, his love for Lucy had not been a part of his existence from boyhood, as mine had certainly been. While all these thoughts were passing through my mind, I gave a few directions, took Drewett's arm, and hurried out of the gaol.

I confess that I respired more freely when I found myself in the open air. My companion took my direction, and I led him to the spot where Marble and Neb were still at work on their rope. Great was their surprise on seeing me at large; and I thought the mate looked a little disappointed, though he comprehended the matter at once, as soon as he saw Drewett.

"If you had only waited till night, Miles," Marble said, shaking his head as one menaces, "Neb and I would have shown that bloody gaol a seaman's fashion of quitting it. I'm almost sorry the occasion is lost, for it would have done their stomachs good to wake up at two bells, and find their cage empty. I've half a mind to ask you to go back, boy!"

"But I've no mind to comply with the request; so do me the favour to have my bag carried back to our lodgings, where I intend to swing my hammock, again, to-night.--Mr. Drewett, I must hasten to thank her to whom I owe my freedom;--will you accompany me?"

Andrew excused himself; and receiving my thanks, once more we parted with a hearty shake of the hands. I then hastened towards Wall street, and knocked at Lucy's door; (there were knockers to good houses in New York, in 1804, a vile nuisance having been since well gotten rid of,) and I knocked at Lucy's door, scarce conscious of the manner in which I had got there. It was near the dinner-hour, and the footman was demurring about admitting a sailor-man, who hardly knew what he said, when a little scream from Chloe, who happened to see me, soon disposed of my claim for an entrance.

"Masser Mile!--Masser Mile!--I so grad--dat feller, Neb, say you come home--Oh! Masser Mile, now I know dat de rascal at Clawbonny get druv' off!"

This speech, confident as it was, a little cooled my ardour by reminding me I was a beggar, in the figurative meaning of the word. Chloe led the way, however, and I was soon in the drawing-room, and in the presence of the youthful mistress of the house. How gloriously beautiful did Lucy then appear! She had dressed for dinner, as usual, but it was in the simplest and neatest manner. Her face was radiant with the pleasure of seeing me where I was, and excitement had deepened the colour on her cheeks, which were never pale, except with emotions. As for her eyes, I can only describe them by the homely phrase, that "they danced for joy."

"Now, Miles," she said, holding out both hands to meet me, "this is redeeming your pledge, and behaving as you should. Andrew Drewett was delighted with an opportunity of doing something for the man who saved his life, and my only fear was of your obstinacy."

"After all I have heard from Andrew Drewett, beloved Lucy, you never need fear anything from my obstinacy hereafter. He not only has released my body from prison but he has released my spirits from the weight of a mountain, by honestly confessing you do not love him."

The play of roseate light on an autumnal sky at evening, is not more beautiful, than the changing tints that passed over Lucy's beautiful face. She did not speak, at first; but so intent, so inquiring was her look, while at the same time, it was so timid and modest, that I scarce needed the question that she finally succeeded in asking.

"What is it, you wish to say, Miles?" at length came from her in faltering tones.

"To ask to be permitted to keep these hands for ever. Not one, Lucy; one will not satisfy a love like mine, a love that has got to be interwoven with my being, from having formed a part of my very existence from boyhood; yes, I ask for both."

"You have them both, dear, dear Miles, and can keep them as long as you please."

Even while this was in the course of utterance, the hands were snatched from me to be applied to their owner's face, and the dear girl burst into a flood of tears. I folded her in my arms, seated myself at her side on a sofa, and am not ashamed to say that we wept together. I shall not reveal all that passed during the next quarter of an hour, nor am I quite certain that I could were I to make the attempt, but I well recollect my arm was around Lucy's slender waist, at the end of that brief period. What was said was not very coherent, nor do I know that anybody would care to hear, or read it.

"Why have you so long delayed to tell me this, Miles?" Lucy at length inquired, a little reproachfully. "You who have had so many opportunities, and might have known how it would have been received! How much misery and suffering it would have saved us both!"

"For that which it has caused you, dearest, I shall never forgive myself; but as for that I have endured, it is only too well merited. But I thought you loved Drewett; everybody said you were to marry him; even your own father believed and told me as much--"

"Poor, dear papa!--He little knew my heart. One thing, however, he did that would have prevented my ever marrying any one, Miles, so long as you lived."

"Heaven for ever bless him for that, as well as for all his other good deeds? What was it, Lucy?'

"When we heard of the supposed loss of your ship, he believed it, but I did not. Why I did not believe what all around me thought was true, is more than I can explain, unless Providence humanely sustained me by hope. But when my father thought you dead, in conversing of all your good qualities, Miles,--and he loved you almost as well as his daughter"--

"God bless him, dear old gentleman!--but what did he tell you, Lucy?"

"You will never learn, if you thus interrupt me, Miles," Lucy answered, smiling saucily in my face, though she permitted me still to hold both her hands, as if I had taken possession of them literally with an intent to keep them, blushing at the same time as much with happiness, I thought, as with the innate modesty of her nature. "Have a little patience, and I will tell you. When my father thought you dead, he told me the manner in which you had confessed to him the preference you felt for me; and do you, can you think, after I was thus put in possession of such a secret, I could listen to Andrew Drewett, or to any one else?"

I shall not reveal what followed this speech; but I may say that, in the course of the next ten minutes, Lucy mildly reproached me again for having so long delayed my declaration.

"I knew you so well, Miles," she continued, smiling--as for blushing, that she did nearly the whole of the remainder of the day--"I know you so well, Miles, that I am afraid I should have made the declaration myself, had you not found your tongue. Silly fellow! how could you suppose I would ever love any but you?--see here!"

She drew the locket I had given her from her dress, and placed it in my hands, still warm from lying near her heart! I had no choice, but to kiss Lucy again, or to kiss this locket; and I did both, by way of leaving no further grounds for self-reproach. I say, kiss her again, for, to own the truth, I had already done so many times in that interview.

At length, Chloe put her head in at the door, having taken the precaution first to give a gentle tap, to inquire if dinner should be served. Lucy dined at four, and it was now drawing toward five.

"Has my father come in?" demanded the young mistress of her attendant.

"Not yet, Miss Lucy; but he nebber t'ink much of dinner, Miss Lucy, ma'am; and masser Mile been so long a sailor, dat I t'ink he must be hungry. I hear dat he hab berry hard time, dis v'y'ge, Miss Lucy--too hard for old masser and missus son!"

"Ay, you have seen Neb, if the truth were told, Miss Chloe," I cried; "and he has been charming your ear with Othello-tales, of his risks and hardships, to make you love him."

I cannot say that Chloe actually blushed, or, if she did, the spectators were none the wiser for the weakness. But dark as was the skin of this honest-hearted girl, she had most affectionate feelings, and even her features could betray the emotions she entertained.

"De feller!" she exclaimed.--"What Miss Lucy please order? Shall 'e cook dish up?"

"We will have dinner," Lucy answered, with a smile Chloe's eyes dancing with a sort of wild delight. "Tell John to serve it. Mr. Hardinge will be home soon, in all probability. We shall be only us three, at table."

The mentioning of the table caused me to cast an eye at my dress; and the sight of my mate's attire, neat and in truth becoming as it was, to one who had no reason to be ashamed of his figure, caused me to recollect my poverty, and to feel one twinge at the distance that the world might fancy its own opinions placed between us. As for birth, my own family was too respectable, and my education had been too good, to leave me now any very keen regrets on such a subject, in a state of society like ours; but there was truly a wide chasm between the heiress of Mrs. Bradfort and a penniless mate of a ship. Lucy understood me; and, slipping her arm through mine, she walked into the library, saying archly, as she drew me gently along--

"It is a very easy thing, Miles, to get skirts made to your round-about."

"No doubt, Lucy; but, with whose money? I have been in such a tumult of happiness, as to have forgotten that I am a beggar; that I am not a suitable match for you! Had I only Clawbonny, I should feel less humiliated. With Clawbonny I could feel myself entitled to some portion of the world's consideration."

We were in the library by this time. Lucy looked at me a moment, intently; and I could see she was pained at my allusion. Taking a little key from a cabinet where she kept it, she opened a small drawer, and showed me the identical gold pieces that had once been in my possession, and which I had returned to her, after my first voyage to sea. I perceived that the pearls she had obtained under Grace's bequest, as well as those which were my own property, if I could be said to own anything, were kept in the same place. Holding the gold in the palm of a little hand that was as soft as velvet and as white as ivory, she said--

"You once took all I had, Miles, and this without pretending to more than a brother's love; why should you hesitate to do it again, now you say you wish to become my husband?"

"Precious creature! I believe you will cure me of even my silly pride." Then taking up the pearls, I threw them on her neck, where they hung in a long chain, rivalling the skin with which they came in contact--"There--I have said these pearls should be an offering to my wife, and I now make it; though I scarce know how they are to be kept from the grasp of Daggett."

Lucy kissed the pearls--I knew she did not do it on account of any love for them--and tears came into her eyes. I believe she had long waited to receive this gift, in the precise character in which it was now received.

"Thank you, dear Miles," she said. "You see how freely I accept your gifts; and why should you hesitate to receive mine? As for this Mr. Daggett, it will be easy enough to get rid of his claim. I shall be of age before he can bring his cause to trial, as I learn; then nothing will be easier than for Miles Wailingford to pay all his debts; for by that time, all that is now mine will be yours. No--no--this Mr. Daggett shall not easily rob me of this precious gift."

"Rupert"--I said, by way of getting her answer.

"Rupert will not influence my conduct, any further than I shall insist on returning every dollar he has received from you, in the name of our sainted Grace. But I hear my father's voice, and speaking to some other person. I had hoped we should dine alone!"

The door of the library opened, and Mr. Hardinge entered, followed by a grave-looking, elderly man, of respectable mien, and a manner that denoted one accustomed to deal with matters of weight. I knew this person at once to be Richard Harrison, then one of the most distinguished lawyers of America, and the gentleman to whom I had been carried by John Wallingford, when the latter pressed me to make my will. Mr. Harrison shook me cordially by the hand, after saluting Lucy, whom he knew intimately. I saw at once that something unusual was working in his mind. This highly respectable advocate was a man of method and of great coolness of manner in the management of affairs, and he proceeded to business at once, using very little circumlocution.

"I have been surprised to hear that my worthy client and friend, Mr. John Wailingford, is dead," he observed. "I do not know how his decease should have escaped my notice in the papers, unless it were owing to a pretty severe illness I suffered myself about the time it occurred. My good friend, Mr. Hardinge, told it to me for the first time, only half an hour since."

"It is true, sir," I answered. "I understand my kinsman died eight months since."

"And he held your bond for forty thousand dollars at the time he died?"

"I regret to say he did; a bond secured by a mortgage on my paternal place, Clawbonny, which has since been sold, by virtue of the power contained in the clauses, under the statute, and sold for a song; less than a fourth of its value."

"And you have been arrested, at the suit of the administrator, for the balance due on the bond?"

"I have, sir; and am liberated on general bail, only within an hour or two."

"Well, sir, all these proceedings can be, and must be set aside. I have already given instructions to prepare an application to the chancellor for an injunction, and, unless your kinsman's administrator is a great dunce, you will be in peaceable possession of Clawbonny, again, in less than a month--if a moderately sensible man, in less than twenty-four hours."

"You would not raise hopes that are idle, Mr. Harrison; yet I do not understand how all this well can be!"

"Your kinsman, Mr. John Wallingford, who was a much esteemed client of mine, made a will, which will I drew myself, and which will being left in my possession for that purpose, I now put in your hands as his sole executor. By that will, you will perceive that he especially forgives you the debt of forty thousand dollars, and releases the claim under the mortgage. But this is not all. After giving some small legacies to a few of his female relatives, he has left you the residuary legatee, and I know enough of his affairs to be certain that you will receive an addition to your estate of more than two hundred thousand dollars. John Wallingford was a character, but he was a money-making character; had he lived twenty years longer, he would have been one of the richest men in the state. He had laid an excellent foundation, but he died too soon to rear the golden structure."

What a change of circumstances was here! I was not only virtually released from debt, but had Clawbonny restored to me, and was master of all I had ever owned, my earnings and the money invested in the Dawn excepted. This last was irretrievably gone, it was true, but, in its place I had the ample legacy of John Wallingford as a compensation. This legacy consisted of a large sum in the three per cents, which then sold at about sixty, but were subsequently paid off at par, of good bank and insurance stocks, bonds and mortgages, and a valuable and productive real property in the western part of the State, with several buildings in town. In a word, I was even richer than Lucy, and no longer need consider myself as one living on her generosity. It is not difficult to believe I was made supremely happy by this news, and I looked to Lucy for sympathy. As for the dear girl herself, I do believe she felt anything but pleasure, at this new accession of riches; for she had a deep satisfaction in thinking that it was in her power to prove to me how completely I possessed her confidence, by placing all she had in my hands. Nevertheless, she loved Clawbonny as well as I did myself, and my restoration to the throne of my fathers was a subject of mutual delight.

Mr. Harrison went on to say that he had ascertained Daggett was in town, to conduct the expected arrangement with me, on the subject of my personals, and that he had already sent a messenger to his attorney, to let the existence of the will be known. He had, consequently, strong hopes of arranging matters, in the course of the next twenty-four hours. We were still at table, in effect, when the messenger came to let us know an interview was appointed at the office of this eminent counsel, and we all adjourned to that place, Lucy excepted, as soon as the cloth was removed; for, in that day, cloths were always removed. At the office, we found Mr. Daggett, whom I now saw for the first time, and his legal adviser, already waiting for us. One glance sufficed to let us into the secret of the consternation both were in, for the lawer had committed himself in the course of the proceedings he had had an agency in conducting, almost as much as his client.

"This is strange news to us, Mr. Harrison," the attorney commenced; "though your character and reputation, I will confess, make it look serious. Is there no mistake in the matter, sir?"

"None whatever, Mr. Meekly. If you will have the goodness to read this will, sir, you will perceive that the facts have been truly laid before your client; and, as to the authenticity of the document, I can only say, it was not only drawn up by myself, under precise instructions from Mr. Wallingford,--which instructions I still possess, in his own hand-writing,--but the will was copied by my client, as well as signed and sealed in my presence, as one of the witnesses. So far as relates to the personals, this will would be valid, though not signed by the testator, supposing no other will to exist. But, I flatter myself, you will find everything correct as to forms."

Mr. Meekly read the will aloud, from beginning to end, and, in returning it to me, he cast a very give-it-up-sort of look at Daggett. The latter inquired, with some anxiety,--

"Is there any schedule of the property accompanying the will?"

"There is, sir," returned Mr. Harrison; "and directions on it where to find the certificates of stock, and all the other evidences of debts--such as bonds and mortgages. Of the last, several are in my own possession. I presume the bond of this Mr. Wallingford was kept by the testator himself, as a sort of family thing."

"Well, sir, you will find that none of the stock has been touched; and I confess this bond, with a few notes given in Genessee, is all that I have been able to find. We have been surprised at discovering the assets to be so small."

"So much the better for you, Mr. Daggett. Knowing what I do, I shall only give up the assets I hold to the executor and heir. Your letters of administration will be set aside, as a matter of course, even should you presume to oppose us,--which I should hardly think advisable."

"We shall not attempt it, Mr. Harrison," Meekly said, hastily; "and we expect equal liberality from your client."

So much for having a first-rate lawyer and a man of character on my side. Daggett gave the whole thing up, on the spot,--re-conveying to me Clawbonny before he quitted, though the sale would unquestionably be set aside, and subsequently was set aside, by means of an amicable suit. A great deal remained to be done, however; and I was obliged to tear myself away from Lucy, in order to do it. Probate of the will was to be made in the distant county of Genessee--and distant it was from New York, in 1804! The journey that could be made, to day, in about thirty hours, took me ten days: and I spent near a month in going through the necessary forms, and in otherwise settling my affairs at the west, as that part of the State was then called. The time, however, was not wasted below. Mr. Hardinge took charge of everything at Clawbonny, and Lucy's welcome letters,--three of which reached me weekly,--informed me that everything was re-established in the house, on the farm, and at the mill. The Wallingford was set running again, and all the oxen, cows, horses, hogs, &c., &c., were living in their old haunts. The negroes were reinstated, and Clawbonny was itself again! The only chants made wore for the better; the occasion having been improved, to paint and new-vamp the house, which Mr. Daggett's parsimony had prevented him from defacing by modern alterations. In a word, 'Masser Mile' was alone wanting to make all at the farm happy. Chloe had communicated her engagement to 'Miss Lucy,' and it was understood Neb and his master were to be married about the same time. As for Moses, he had gone up to Willow Cove, on a leave of absence. A letter received from him, which now lies before me, will give a better account of his proceedings and feelings than I can write myself. It was in the following words, viz.:

"Willow Cove, Sept. 18th, 1804.

"Captain Wallingford:

"Dear Sir, and my dear Miles--Here I have been, moored head and starn, these ten days, as comfortable as heart could wish, in the bosom of my family. The old woman was right down glad to see me, and she cried like an alligator, when she heard my story. As for Kitty, she cried, and she laughed in the bargain; but that young Bright, whom you may remember we fell in with, in our cruise after old Van Tassel, has fairly hauled alongside of my niece, and she does little but laugh from morning to night. It's bloody hard to lose a niece in this way, just as a man finds her, but mother says I shall gain a nephew by the trade.

"Now, for old Van Tassel. The Lord will never suffer rogues to prosper in the long run. Mother found the old rascal's receipt, given to my father for the money, years and years ago, and sending for a Hudson lawyer, they made the miserly cheat off with his hatches, and hoist out cargo enough to square the yards. So mother considers the thing as settled at last; but I shall always regard the account as open until I have threshed the gentleman to my heart's content. The old woman got the cash in hard dollars, not understanding paper, and I wasn't in the house ten minutes, before the good old soul roused a stocking out of a drawer, and began to count out the pieces to pay me off. So you see, Miles, I've stepped into my estate again, as well as yourself. As for your offer to pay me wages for the whole of last v'y'ge"--this word Marble could only spell as he pronounced it--"it's generous, and that's a good deal in these bloody dishonest times, but I'll not touch a copper. When a ship's lost, the wages are lost with her, and that's law and reason. It would be hard on a marchant to have to pay wages for work done on board a craft that's at the bottom of the ocean; so no more on that p'int, which we'll consider settled.

"I am delighted to learn you are to be married as soon as you get back to Clawbonny. Was I in your place, and saw such a nice young woman beckoning me into port, I'd not be long in the offing. Thank you, heartily, for the invitation to be one of the bride's-maids, which is an office, my dear Miles, I covet, and shall glory in. I wish you to drop me a line as to the rigging proper for the occasion, for I would wish to be dressed as much like the rest of the bride's-maids as possible; uniformity being always desirable in such matters. A wedding is a wedding, and should be dealt with as a wedding; so, waiting for further orders, I remain your friend and old ship-mate to command,

"Moses Van Dusen Marble."

I do not affirm that the spelling of this letter was quite as accurate as that given in this copy, but the epistle was legible, and evidently gave Marble a great deal of trouble. As for the letters of dear Lucy, I forbear to copy any. They were like herself, however; ingenuous, truthful, affectionate and feminine. Among other things, she informed me that our union was to take place in St. Michael's; that I was to meet her at the rectory, and that we might proceed to Clawbonny from the church-door. She had invited Rupert and Emily to be present, but the health of the last would prevent their accepting the invitation. Major, or general, Merton, as he was universally called in New York, had the gout, and could not be there; and I was asked if it would not be advisable under all the circumstances, to have the affair as private as possible. My answer conveyed a cheerful compliance, and a week after that was despatched, I left the Genessee country, having successfully completed all my business. No one opposed me, and so far from being regarded as an intruder, the world thought me the proper heir of my cousin.

Chapter XXIX.

"I calmed her fears, and she was calm,
  And told her love with virgin pride;
And so I won my Genevieve,
  My bright and beauteous bride."

Coleridge.

By arrangement, I stopped at the Willow Cove, to pick up Marble. I found the honest fellow happy as the day was long; but telling fearfully long and wonderful yarns of his adventures, to the whole country round. My old mate was substantially a man of truth; but he did love to astonish "know-nothings." He appears to have succeeded surprisingly well, for the Dutchmen of that neighbourhood still recount anecdotes, of the achievements and sufferings of Captain Marvel, as they usually call him, though they have long ceased to think the country belongs to the United Provinces.

Moses was glad to see me; and, after passing a night in the cottage of his mother, we proceeded towards Clawbonny, in a conveyance that had been sent to Willow Cove to meet me. It was a carriage of my own, one of my own negroes acting as driver. I knew the old team, and will acknowledge that tears forced themselves to, my eyes as I thus saw myself, as it might be, reinstated in my own. The same feeling came powerfully over me, as we drove to the summit of an elevation in the road, that commanded a view of the vale and buildings of Clawbonny. What a moment was that in my existence! I cannot say that I was born to wealth, even as wealth was counted among us sixty years since, but I was born to a competency. Until I lost my ship, I had never known the humiliating sensations of poverty; and the feeling that passed over my heart, when I first heard that Clawbonny was sold, has left an impression that will last for life. I looked at the houses, as I passed them in the streets, and remembered that I was houseless. I did not pass a shop in which clothes were exposed, without remembering that, were my debts paid, I should literally be without a coat to my back. Now, I had my own once more; and there stood the home of my ancestors for generations, looking comfortable and respectable, in the midst of a most inviting scene of rural quiet and loveliness. The very fields seemed to welcome me beneath its roof! There is no use in attempting to conceal what happened; and I will honestly relate it.

The road made a considerable circuit to descend the hill, while a foot-path led down the declivity, by a shorter cut, which was always taken by pedestrians. Making an incoherent excuse to Moses, and telling him to wait for me at the foot of the hill, I sprang out of the carriage, leaped a fence, and I may add, leaped out of sight, in order to conceal my emotion. I was no sooner lost to view, than, seating myself on a fragment of rock, I wept like a child. How long I sat there is more than I can say; but the manner in which I was recalled from this paroxysm of feeling will not soon be forgotten. A little hand was laid on my forehead, and a soft voice uttered the word "Miles!" so near me, that, at the next instant, I held Lucy in my arms. The dear girl had walked to the hill, as she afterwards admitted, in the expectation of seeing me pass on to Clawbonny; and, comprehending my feelings and my behaviour, could not deny herself the exquisite gratification of sharing in my emotions.

"It is a blessed restoration to your rights, dear Miles," Lucy at length said, smiling through her tears. "Your letters have told me that you are rich; but I would rather you had Clawbonny, and not a cent besides, than, without this place, you had the riches of the wealthiest man in the country. Yours it should have been, at all events, could my means have compassed it."

"And this, Lucy, without my becoming your husband, do you mean?"

Lucy blushed brightly; though I cannot say the sincere, ingenuous girl ever looked embarrassed in avowing her preference for me. After a moment's pause, she smiled, and answered my question.

"I have not doubted of the result, since my father gave me an account of your feelings towards me," she said, "and that, you will remember, was before Mr. Daggett had his sale. Women have more confidence in the affections than men, I fear; at least, with us they are more engrossing concerns than with you--for we live for them altogether, whereas you have the world constantly to occupy your thoughts. I have never supposed Miles Wallingford would become the husband of any but Lucy Hardinge, except on one occasion, and then only for a very short period; and, ever since I have thought on such subjects at all, I have known that Lucy Hardinge would never--could never be the wife of any one but Miles Wallingford."

"And that one exception, dearest,--that 'very short period?' Having confessed so much, I am eager to know all."

Lucy became thoughtful, and she moved the grass at her feet with the end of her parasol, ere she replied.

"The one exception was Emily Merton; and the short period terminated when I saw you together, in your own house. When I first saw Emily Merton, I thought her more worthy of your love than I could possibly be; and I fancied it impossible that you could have lived so long in a ship together, without discovering each other's merits. But, when I was placed with you both, under the same roof, I soon ascertained that, while your imagination had been a little led aside, your heart was always true to me."

"Is this possible, Lucy! Are women really so much more discriminating, so much more accurate in their opinions, than us men? While I was ready to hang myself for jealousy of Andrew Drewett, did you really know that my heart was entirely yours?"

"I was not without misgivings, Miles, and sometimes those that were keenly painful; but, on the whole, I will not say I felt my power, but that I felt we were dear to each other."

"Did you never suppose, as your excellent father has done, that we were too much like brother and sister, to become lovers--too much accustomed to be dear to each other as children, to submit to passion? For that which I feel for you, Lucy, I do not pretend to dignify with the name of esteem, and respect, and affection--it is a passion, that will form the misery, or happiness of my life."

Lucy smiled archly, and again the end of her parasol played with the grass that grew around the rock on which we were seated.

"How could I think this for you," she said, "when I had a contrary experience of my own constantly present, Miles? I saw that you thought there was some difference of condition between us, (silly fellow!) and I felt persuaded you had only your own diffidence to overcome, to tell your own story."

"And knowing and seeing all this, cruel Lucy, why did you suffer years of cruel, cruel doubt to hang over me?"

"Was it a woman's part to speak, Miles? I endeavoured to act naturally,--believe I did act naturally,--and I left the rest to God. Blessed be his mercy, I am rewarded!"

I folded Lucy to my heart, and, passing a moment of sweet sympathy in the embrace, we both began to talk of other things, as if mutually conscious that our feelings were too high-wrought for the place in which we were. I inquired as to the condition of things at Clawbonny, and was gratified with the report. Everybody expected me. I had no tenantry to come forth to meet me,--nor were American tenants much addicted to such practices, even when they were to be found: though the miserable sophistry on the subject of landlord and tenant,--one of the most useful and humanizing relations of civilized life,--did not then exist among us, that I am sorry to find is now getting into vogue. In that day, it was not thought 'liberty' to violate the fair covenants of a lease; and attempts to cheat a landed proprietor out of his rights were called cheating, as they ought to be--and they were called nothing else.

In that day, a lease in perpetuity was thought a more advantageous bargain for the tenant, than a lease for a year, or a term of years; and men did not begin to reason as if one indulgence gave birth to a right, to demand more. In that day, paying rent in chickens, and wood, and work, was not fancied to be a remnant of feudality, but it was regarded as a favour conferred on him who had the privilege: and even now, nine countrymen in ten endeavour to pay their debts in everything they can, before they resort to the purse. In that day, the audacious sophism of calling land a monopoly, in a country that probably possesses more than a hundred acres for every living soul within its limits, was not broached: and, in that day, knots of men did not set themselves up as special representatives of the whole community, and interpret the laws in their own favour, as if they were the first principles of the entire republic. But my pen is running away with me, and I must return to Lucy. A crisis is at hand; and we are about to see the laws triumphant, or acts of aggression that will far outdo all that has hitherto rested on the American name, as connected with a want of faith in pecuniary transactions.

Should I ever continue these adventures, occasions may offer to draw certain pictures of the signs of the times; signs that have an ominous aspect as regards real liberty, by substituting the most fearful of all tyrannies, the spurious, in its place. God alone knows for what we are reserved; but one thing is certain--there must be a serious movement backward, or the nation is lost.

I had no tenantry to come out and meet me; but there were the blacks. It is true, the law was on the point of liberating these slaves, leaving a few of the younger to serve for a term of years, that should requite their owners for the care of their infancies and their educations; but this law could not effect an immediate change in the condition of the Clawbonnys. The old ones did not wish to quit me, and never did; while it took years to loosen the tie which bound the younger portion of them to me and mine. At this hour, near twenty of them are living round me, in cottages of mine; and the service of my kitchen is entirely conducted by them. Lucy prepared me for a reception by these children of Africa, even the outcasts having united with the rest to do honour to their young master. Honour is not the word; there was too much heart in the affair for so cold a term; the negro, whatever may be his faults, almost always possessing an affectionate heart.

At length, I remembered Marble, and, taking leave of Lucy, who would not let me accompany her home, I threw myself down the path, and found my mate cogitating in the carnage, at the foot of the hill.

"Well, Miles, you seem to value this land of yours, as a seaman does his ship," cried Moses, before I had time to apologize for having kept him so long waiting. "Howsomever, I can enter into the feelin', and a blessed one it is, to get a respondentia bond off of land that belonged to a feller's grandfather. Next thing to being a bloody hermit, I hold, is to belong to nobody in a crowded world; and I would not part with one kiss from little Kitty, or one wrinkle of my mother's, for all the desert islands in the ocean. Come, sit down now, my lad--why, you look as red as a rose-bud, and as if you had been running up and down hill the whole time you've been absent."

"It is sharp work to come down such a hill as this on a trot. Well, here I am at your side; what would you wish to know?"

"Why, lad, I've been thinkin', since you were away, of the duties of a bride's-maid,"--to his dying day, Moses always insisted he had acted in this capacity at my wedding;--"for the time draws near, and I wouldn't wish to discredit you, on such a festivity. In the first place, how am I to be dressed? I've got the posy you mentioned in your letter, stowed away safe in my trunk. Kitty made it for me last week, and a good-looking posy it was, the last time I saw it."

"Did you think of the breeches?"

"Ay, ay--I have them, too, and what is more I've had them bent. Somehow or other, Miles, running under bare poles does not seem to agree with my build. If there's time, I should like to have a couple of bonnets fitted to the articles."

"Those would be gaiters, Moses, and I never heard of a bride's-maid in breeches and gaiters. No, you'll be obliged to come out like evervbody else."

"Well, I care less for the dress than I do for the behaviour. Shall I be obliged to kiss Miss Lucy?"

"No, not exactly Miss Lucy, but Mrs. Bride--I believe it would not be a lawful marriage without that."

"Heaven forbid that I should lay a straw in the way of your happiness, my dear boy; but you'll make a signal for the proper time to clear ship, then--you know I always carry a quid."

I promised not to desert him in his need, and Moses became materially easier in his mind. I do not wish the reader to suppose my mate fancied he was to act in the character of a woman at my nuptials, but simply that he was to act in the character of a bride's-maid. The difficulties which beset him will be best explained by his last remark on this occasion, and with which I shall close this discourse. "Had I been brought up in a decent family," he said, "instead of having been set afloat on a tombstone, matrimony wouldn't have been such unknown seas to me. But, you know how it is, Miles, with a fellow that has no relations. He may laugh, and sing, and make as much noise as he pleases, and try to make others think he's in good company the whole time; but, after all, he's nothing but a sort of bloody hermit, that's travelling through life, all the same as if he was left with a few pigs on a desert island. Make-believe is much made use of in this world, but it won't hold out to the last. Now of all mortal beings that I ever met with, you've fallen in with her that has least of it. There's some make-believe about you, Miles, as when you looked so bloody unconcerned all the time you were ready to die of love, as I now l'arn, for the young woman you're about to marry: and mother has a little of it, dear old soul, when she says she's perfectly satisfied with the son the Lord has given her, for I'm not so blasted virtuous but I might be better; and little Kitty has lots of it when she pretends she would as soon have one kiss from me as two from young Bright; but, as for Lucy Hardinge, I will say that I never saw any more make-believe about her, than was becoming in a young woman."

This speech proved that Moses was a man of observation. Others might have drawn seemingly nicer shades of character, but this sincerity of feeling, truth of conduct, and singleness of purpose, formed the distinguishing traits of Lucy's virtues. I was excessively gratified at finding that Marble rightly appreciated one who was so very, very dear to me, and took care to let him know as much, as soon as he had made his speech.

We were met by the negroes, at the distance of half a mile from the house. Neb acted as master of the ceremonies, or, commodore would be the better word, for he actually carried a bit of swallow-tail bunting that was borrowed from the sloop, and there was just as much of ocean in the symbols used, as comported with the honours manifested to a seaman. Old Cupid carried the Wallingford's ensign, and a sort of harlequinade had been made out of marlinspikes, serving mallets, sail-maker's palms, and fids. The whole was crowned with a plug of tobacco, though I never used the weed, except in segars. Neb had seen processions in town, as well as in foreign countries, and he took care that the present should do himself no discredit. It is true, that he spoke to me of it afterwards as a "nigger procession," and affected to hold it cheap; but I could see that the fellow was as much pleased with the conceits he had got up for the occasion, as he was mortified at the failure of the whole thing. The failure happened in this wise: no sooner did I approach near enough to the elder blacks to have my features fairly recognised, than the women began to blubber, and the men to toss their arms and shout "Masser Mile," "Masser Mile;" thereby throwing everything into confusion, at once placing feeling uppermost, at the expense of 'law and order.'

To descend from the stilts that seemed indispensable to do credit to Neb's imagination, the manner in which I was received by these simple-minded beings was infinitely touching. All the old ones shook hands with me, while the younger of both sexes kept more aloof, until I went to each in succession, and went through the ceremony of my own accord. As for the boys, they rolled over on the grass, while the little girls kept making curtsies, and repeating "welcome home to Clawbonny, Masser Mile." My heart was full, and I question if any European landlord ever got so warm a reception from his tenantry, as I received from my slaves.

And welcome I was indeed to Clawbonny, and most welcome was Clawbonny to me! In 1804, New York had still some New York feeling left in the State. Strangers had not completely overrun her as has since happened; and New York names were honoured; New York feelings had some place among us; life, homes, firesides, and the graves of our fathers, not yet being treated as so many incidents in some new speculation. Men then loved the paternal roof, and gardens, lawns, orchards and church-yards, were regarded as something other than levels for rail-roads and canals, streets for villages, or public promenades to be called batteries, or parks, as might happen to suit aldermanic ambition, or editorial privilege.

Mr. Hardinge met me at the gate of the little lawn, took me in his arms, and blessed me aloud. We entered the house in silence, when the good old man immediately set about showing me, by ocular proof, that everything was restored as effectually as I was restored myself. Venus accompanied us, relating how dirty she had found this room, how much injured that, and otherwise abusing the Daggetts, to my heart's content. Their reign had been short, however; and a Wallingford was once more master of the five structures of Clawbonny. I meditated a sixth, even that day, religiously preserving every stone that had been already laid, however, in my mind's intention.

The next day was that named by Lucy as the one in which she would unite herself to me for ever. No secret was made of the affair; but notice had been duly given that all at Clawbonny might be present. I left home at ten in the morning, in a very handsome carriage that had been built for the occasion, accompanied by Moses attired as a bride's-maid. It is true his dumpy, square-built frame, rather caricatured the shorts and silk stockings; and, as we sat side by side in this guise, I saw his eye roaming from his own limbs to mine. The peculiarity of Moses's toilette was that which all may observe in men of his stamp, who come out in full dress. The clothes a good deal more than fit them. Everything is as tight as the skin; and the wearer is ordinarily about as awkward in his movements and sensations, as if he had gone into society, in puris naturalibus. That Moses felt the embarrassment of this novel attire, was sufficiently apparent by his looks and movements, to say nothing of his speech.

"Miles, I do suppose," he remarked, as we trotted along, "that them that haven't had the advantage of being brought up at home never get a fair growth. Now, here's these legs of mine; there's plenty of them, but they ought to have been put in a stretcher when I was a youngster, instead of being left to run about a hospital. Well, I'll sail under bare poles, this once, to oblige you, bride-maid fashion; but this is the first and last time I do such a thing. Don't forget to make the signal when I'm to kiss Miss Lucy."

My thoughts were not exactly in the vein to enjoy the embarrassment of Moses, and I silenced him by promising all he asked. We were not elegant enough to meet at the church, but I proceeded at once to the little rectory, where I found the good divine and my lovely bride had just completed their arrangements. And lovely, indeed, was Lucy, in her simple but beautiful bridal attire! She was unattended, had none of those gay appliances about her that her condition might have rendered proper, and which her fortune would so easily have commanded. Yet it was impossible to be in her presence without feeling the influence of her virgin mien and simple elegance. Her dress was a spotless but exquisitely fine India muslin, well made and accurately fitting; and her dark glossy hair was embellished only by one comb ornamented with pearls, and wearing the usual veil. As for her feet and hands, they were more like those of a fairy than of one human; while her countenance was filled with all the heartfelt tenderness of her honest nature. Around her ivory throat, and over her polished shoulders, hung my own necklace of pearls, strung as they had been on board the Crisis, giving her bust an air of affluent decoration, while it told a long story of distant adventure and of well-requited affection.

We had no bride's-maids, (Marble excepted), no groom's-men, no other attendants than those of our respective households. No person had been asked to be present, for we felt that our best friends were with us, when we had these dependants around us. At one time, I had thought of paying Drewett the compliment of desiring him to be a groom's-man; but Lucy set the project at rest, by quaintly asking me how I should like to have been his attendant, with the same bride. As for Rupert, I never inquired how he satisfied the scruples of his father, though the old gentleman made many apologies to me for his absence. I was heartily rejoiced, indeed, he did not appear; and, I think, Lucy was so also.

The moment I appeared in the little drawing-room of the rectory, which Lucy's money and taste had converted into a very pretty but simple room, my "bright and beauteous bride" arose, and extended to me her long-loved hand. The act itself, natural and usual as it was, was performed in a way to denote the frankness and tenderness of her character. Her colour went and came a little, but she said nothing. Without resuming her seat, she quietly placed an arm in mine, and turned to her father, as much as to say we were ready. Mr. Hardinge led the way to the church, which was but a step from the rectory, and, in a minute or two, all stood ranged before the altar, with the divine in the chancel. The ceremony commenced immediately, and in less than five minutes I folded Lucy in my arms, as my wife. We had gone into the vestry-room for this part of the affair, and there it was that we received the congratulations of those humble, dark-coloured beings, who then formed so material a portion of nearly every American family of any means.

"I wish you great joy and ebbery sort of happiness, Masser Mile," said old Venus, kissing my hand, though I insisted it should be my face, as had often been her practice twenty years before. "Ah! dis was a blessed day to old masser and missus, could dey saw it, but. And I won't speak of anoder blessed saint dat be in heaven. And you too, my dear young missus; now, we all so grad it be you, for we did t'ink, a one time, dat would nebber come to pass."

Lucy laid her own little white velvet-like hand, with the wedding ring on its fourth finger, into the middle of Venus's hard and horny palm, in the sweetest manner possible; reminding all around her that she was an old friend, and that she knew all the good qualities of every one who pressed forward to greet her, and to wish her happiness.

As soon as this part of the ceremony was over, we repaired to the rectory, where Lucy changed her wedding robe, for what I fancied was one of the prettiest demi-toilette dresses I ever saw. I know I am now speaking like an old fellow, whose thoughts revert to the happier scenes of youth with a species of dotage, but it is not often a man has an opportunity of pourtraying such a bride and wife as Lucy Hardinge. On this occasion she removed the comb and veil, as not harmonizing with the dress in which she reappeared, but the necklace was worn throughout the whole of that blessed day. As soon as my bride was ready, Mr. Hardinge, Lucy, Moses and myself, entered the carriage, and drove over to Clawbonny. Thither all Lucy's wardrobe had been sent, an hour before, under Chloe's superintendence, who had barely returned to the church in time to witness the ceremony.

One of the most precious moments of my life, was that in which I folded Lucy in my arms and welcomed her to the old place as its mistress.

"We came very near losing it, love," I whispered; "but it is now ours, unitedly, and we will be in no hurry to turn our backs on it."

This was in a tête-a-tête, in the family room, whither I had led Lucy, feeling that this little ceremony was due to my wife. Everything around us recalled former scenes, and tears were in the eyes of my bride as she gently extricated herself from my arms.

"Let us sit down a moment, Miles, and consult on family affairs, now we are here," she said, smiling. "It may be early to begin, but such old acquaintances have no need of time to discover each other's wishes and good and bad qualities. I agree with you, heart and mind, in saying we will never turn our backs on Clawbonny--dear, dear Clawbonny, where we were children together, Miles; where we knew so well, and loved so well, our departed Grace,--and, I hope and trust, it will ever be our principal residence. The country-house I inherit from Mrs. Bradfort is better suited to modern tastes and habits, perhaps, but it can never be one half so dear to either of us. I would not speak to you on this subject before, Miles, because I wished first to give you a husband's just control over me and mine, in giving you my hand; but, now, I may and will suggest what has been passing in my mind on this subject. Riversedge"--so was Mrs. Bradfort's country-house called--"is a good residence, and is sufficiently well furnished for any respectable family. Rupert and Emily must live somewhere, and I feel certain it cannot long be in Broadway. Now, I have thought I would reserve Riversedge for their future use. They can take it immediately, as a summer residence; for I prize one hour passed here more than twenty-four hours passed there."

"What, rebel!--Even should I choose to dwell in your West-Chester house?"

"You will be here, Miles; and it is on your account that Clawbonny is so dear to me. The place is yours,--I am yours,--and all your possessions should go together."

"Thank you, dearest. But will Rupert be able to keep up a town and country house'!"

"The first, not long, for a certainty; how long, you know better than I. When I have been your wife half-a-dozen years, perhaps you will think me worthy of knowing the secret of the money he actually has."

This was said pleasantly; but it was not said without anxiety. I reflected on the conditions of my secresy. Grace wished to keep the facts from Lucy, lest the noble-hearted sister should awaken a feeling in the brother that might prevent her bequest from being carried into effect. Then, she did not think Lucy would ever become my wife, and circumstances were changed, while there was no longer a reason for concealing the truth from the present applicant, at least. I communicated all that had passed on the subject to my-deeply-interested listener. Lucy received the facts with sorrow, though they were no more than she had expected to learn.

"I should be covered with shame, were I to hear this from any other than you, Miles," she answered, after a thoughtful pause; "but I know your nature too well, not to feel certain that the sacrifice scarce cost you a thought, and that you regretted Rupert's self-forgetfulness more than the loss of the money. I confess this revelation has changed all my plans for the future, so far as they were connected with my brother."

"In what manner, dearest? Let nothing that has happened to me influence your decisions."

"In so much as it affects my views of Rupert's character, it must, Miles. I had intended to divide Mrs. Bradford's fortune equally with my brother. Had I married any man but you, I should have made this a condition of our union; but you I know so well, and so well know I could trust, that I have found a deep satisfaction in placing myself, as it might be, in your power. I know that all my personal property is already yours, without reserve, and that I can make no disposition of the real, even after I come of age, without your consent. But I had that faith in you, as to believe you would let me do as I pleased."

"Have it still, love. I have neither need, nor wish, to interfere."

"No, Miles; it would be madness to give property to one of such a character. If you approve, I will make Rupert and Emily a moderate quarterly allowance, with which, having the use of my country-place, they may live respectably. Further than that, I should consider it wrong to go."

It is scarcely necessary to say how much I approved of this decision, or the applause I lavished on the warm-hearted donor. The sum was fixed at two thousand dollars a year, before we left the room; and the result was communicated to Rupert by Lucy herself, in a letter written the very next day.

Our wedding-dinner was a modest, but a supremely happy meal; and in the evening, the blacks had a ball in a large laundry, that stood a little apart, and which was well enough suited to such a scene. Our quiet and simple festivities endured for several days; the "uner" of Neb and Chloe taking place very soon after our own marriage, and coming in good time to furnish an excuse for dancing the week fairly out.

Marble got into trowsers the day after the ceremony, and then he entered into the frolic with all his heart. On the whole, he was relieved from being a bride's-maid,--a sufficiently pleasant thing,--but having got along so well with Lucy, he volunteered to act in the same capacity to Chloe. The offer was refused, however, in the following classical language:

"No, Misser Marble; colour is colour," returned Chloe. "You's white, and we's black. Mattermony is a berry solemn occerpashun; and there mustn't be no improper jokes at my uner with Neb Clawbonny."

Chapter XXX.

"This disease is beyond my practice: yet I have known those which have walked in their sleep, who have died holily in their beds."

Macbeth.

The honeymoon was passed at Clawbonny, and many, many other honeymoons that have since succeeded it. I never saw a man more delighted than Mr. Hardinge was, at finding me actually his son-in-law. I really believed he loved me more than he did Rupert, though he lived and died in ignorance of his own son's true character. It would have been cruel to undeceive him; and nothing particular ever occurred to bring about an éclaircissement. Rupert's want of principle was a negative, rather than an active quality, and was only rendered of account by his vanity and selfishness. Self-indulgence was all he aimed at, and he was much too self-indulgent and shrewd to become an active rogue. He would have spent Lucy's and my joint fortunes, had they been put at his control; but, as they never were, he was fain to limit his expenditures to such sums as we saw fit to give him, with certain extra allowances extorted by his debts. Our intercourse was very much restricted to visits of ceremony, at least on my part; though Lucy saw him oftener; and no allusion was ever made to the past. I called him "Mr. Hardinge" and he called me "Mr. Wallingford." "Rupert" and "Miles" were done with for ever, between us. I may as well dispose of the history of this person and his wife, at once; for I confess it gives me pain to speak of them, even at this distance of time.

Rupert lived but four years, after my marriage to his sister. As soon as he found it necessary to give up the Broadway house, he accepted the use of Riversedge and his sister's $2000 a-year, with gratitude, and managed to get along on that sum, apparently, down to the hour of his death. It is true, that I paid his debts, without Lucy's knowledge, twice in that short period; and I really think he was sensible of his errors, to a certain extent, before his eyes were closed. He left one child, a daughter, who survived him only a few months. Major Merton's complaints had carried him off previously to this. Between this old officer and myself, there had ever existed a species of cordiality; and I do believe he sometimes remembered his various obligations to me and Marble, in a proper temper. Like most officials of free governments, he left little or nothing behind him; so that Mrs. Hardinge was totally dependent on her late husband's friends for a support, during her widowhood. Emily was one of those semi-worldly characters, that are not absolutely wanting in good qualities, while there is always more or less of a certain disagreeable sort of calculation in all they do. Rupert's personal advantages and agreeable manners had first attracted her; and believing him to be Mrs. Bradfort's heir, she had gladly married him. I think she lived a disappointed woman, after her father's death; and I was not sorry when she let us know that she was about to "change her condition," as it is termed in widow's parlance, by marrying an elderly man, who possessed the means of giving her all that money can bestow. With this second, or, according to Venus's nomenclature, step-husband, she went to Europe, and there remained, dying only three years ago, an amply endowed widow. We kept up a civil sort of intercourse with her to the last, actually passing a few weeks with her, some fifteen years since, in a house, half-barn, half-castle, that she called a palace, on one of the unrivalled lakes of Italy. As la Signora Montiera, (Montier) she was sufficiently respected, finishing her career as a dowager of good reputation, and who loved the "pomps and vanities of this wicked world." I endeavoured, in this last meeting, to bring to her mind divers incidents of her early life, but with a singular want of success. They had actually passed, so far as her memory was concerned, into the great gulf of time, keeping company with her sins, and appeared to be entirely forgot. Nevertheless, la Signora was disposed to treat me and view me with consideration, as soon as she found me living in credit, with money, horses, and carriages at command, and to forget that I had been only a skip-master. She listened smilingly, and with patience, to what, I dare say, were my prolix narratives, though her own recollections were so singularly impaired. She did remember something about the wheelbarrow and the canal in Hyde Park; but as for the voyage across the Pacific, most of the incidents had passed out of her mind. To do her honour, Lucy wore the pearls, on an occasion in which she gave a little festa to her neighbours; and I ascertained she did remember them. She even hinted to one of her guests, in my hearing, that they had been intended for her originally; but "we cannot command the impulses of the heart, you know, câra mia," she added, with a very self-complacent sort of a sigh.

What of all this? The ci-devant Emily was no more than a summary of the feelings, interests, and passions of millions, living and dying in a narrow circle erected by her own vanities, and embellished by her own contracted notions of what is the end and aim of human existence, and within a sphere that she fancied respectable and refined.

As for the race of the Clawbonnys, all the elderly members of this extensive family lived and died in my service; or, it might be better to say, I lived in theirs. Venus saw several repetitions of her own charms in the offspring of Neb and Chloe, though she pertinaciously insisted to the last, that Cupid, as a step-husband, had no legitimate connection with any of the glistening, thick-lipped, chubby set. But, even closer family ties than those which bound my slaves to me, are broken by the pressure of human institutions. The conscript fathers of New York had long before determined that domestic slavery should not continue within their borders; and, one by one, these younger dependants dropped off, to seek their fortunes in town, or in other portions of the State; until few were left beside Neb, his consort, and their immediate descendants. Some of these last still cling to me; the parents having instilled into the children, in virtue of their example and daily discourse, feelings that set at naught the innovations of a changeable state of society. With them, Clawbonny is still Clawbonny; and I and mine remain a race apart in their perception of things. I gave Neb and Chloe their freedom-papers, the day the faithful couple were married, and at once relieved their posterity from the servitude of eight-and-twenty, and five-and-twenty years, according to sex, that might otherwise have hung over all their elder children, until the law, by a general sweep, manumitted everybody. These papers Neb put in the bottom of his tobacco-box, not wishing to do any discredit to a gift from me; and there I accidentally saw them, in rags, seventeen years later, not having been opened, or seen by a soul, as I firmly believe, in all that time. It is true, the subsequent legislation of the State rendered all this of no moment; but the procedure showed the character and disposition of the man, demonstrating his resolution to stick by me to the last. He has had no intention to free me, whatever may have been my plans for himself and his race.

I never had more than one conversation with either Neb or his wife, on the subject of wages, and then I discovered how tender a thing it was, with the fellow, to place him on a level with the other hired people of my farm and household.

"I won'er what I done, Masser Mile, dat you want to pay me wages, like a hired man!" said Neb, half-disposed to resent, and half-disposed to grieve at the proposal. "I was born in de family, and it seem to me dat quite enough; but, if dat isn't enough, I went to sea wid you, Masser Mile, de fuss day you go, and I go ebbery time since."

These words, uttered a little reproachfully, disposed of the matter. From that hour to this, the subject of wages has never been broached between us. When Neb wants clothes he goes and gets them, and they are charged to "Masser Mile;" when he wants money he comes and gets it, never manifesting the least shame or reluctance, but asking for all he has need of, like a man. Chloe does the same with Lucy, whom she regards, in addition to her having the honour to be my wife, as a sort of substitute for "Miss Grace." With this honest couple, Mr. and Mrs. Miles Wallingford, of Clawbonny, and Riversedge; and Union Place, are still nothing but "Masser Mile" and "Miss Lucy;"--and I once saw an English traveller take out her note-book, and write something very funny, I dare say, when she heard Chloe thus address the mother of three fine children, who were hanging around her knee, and calling her by that, the most endearing of all appellations. Chloe was indifferent to the note of the traveller, however, still calling her mistress "Miss Lucy," though the last is now a grandmother.

As for the children of the house of Nebuchadnezzar, truth compels me to say, that they have been largely influenced by the spirit of the age, and that they look on the relation that existed for more than a century, between the Wallingfords and the Clawbonnys, with eyes somewhat different from those of their parents. They have begun to migrate; and I am not sorry to see them go. Notwithstanding, the tie will not be wholly broken, so long as any of the older stock remain, tradition leaving many of its traces among them. Not one has ever left my rule without my consent; and I have procured places for them all, as ambition, or curiosity, has carried them into the world.

As for this new spirit of the age that is doing so much among us, I am not twaddler enough to complain of all change, for I know that many of these changes have had the most beneficial effects. I am far from thinking that domestic slavery, as it once existed at Clawbonny, is a picture of domestic slavery as it existed throughout the land; but I do believe that the institution, as it was formerly known in New York, was quite as much to the disadvantage of the white man, as to that of the black. There was always something of the patriarchal character in one of our households, previously to the change in the laws; and the relation of master and slave, in old, permanent families, in which plenty was no stranger, had ever more or less of that which was respectable and endearing. It is not so much in relation to the abolition spirit, (if it would only confine its exertions to communities over which it may happen to possess some right of control,) that I feel alarmed as in reference to a certain spirit, which appears to think there always must be more and more change, and that in connection with any specific interest, whatever may have been its advancement under previous régimes; nothing in social life being fully developed, according to the creed of these movement philosophers. Now, in my view of the matter, the two most dangerous of all parties in a state, are that which sets up conservatism as its standard, and that which sets up progress: the one is for preserving things of which it would be better to be rid, while the other crushes all that is necessary and useful in its headlong course. I now speak of these opposing principles, as they are marshalled in parties, opposition giving pertinacity and violence to each. No sane man can doubt that, in the progress of events, much is produced that ought to be retained, and much generated that it would be wiser to reject. He, alone, is the safe and wise legislator, who knows how, and when, to make the proper distinctions. As for conservatism, Lafayette once characterized it excellently well, in one of his happiest hits in the tribune. "Gentlemen talk of the just medium (juste milieu)" he said, "as if it embraced a clear political creed. We all know what the just medium is, as relates to any particular question; it is simply the truth, as it is connected with that question. But when gentlemen say, that they belong to the juste milieu, as a party, and that they intend to steer a middle course in all the public events of the day, they remind me of a case like this--A man of exaggerated notions lays down the proposition that four and four make ten; another of more discretion and better arithmetic combats this idea, by maintaining that four and four make only eight; whereupon, your gentleman of the juste milieu, finds himself obliged to say, 'Messieurs, you are equally in the wrong; the truth never lies in extremes, and four and four make nine.'"

What is true of conservatism, as a principle, is still more true as to the movement; for it often happens in morals, as well as in physics, that the remedy is worse than the disease. The great evil of Europe, in connection with interests of this nature, arises from facts that have little or no influence here. There, radical changes have been made, the very base of the social edifice having been altered, while much of the ancient architecture remains in the superstructure. Where this is the case, some errors may be pardoned in the artisans who are for reducing the whole to the simplicity of a single order. But, among ourselves, the man who can see no end to anything earthly, ever maintaining that the best always lies beyond, if he live long enough to succeed, may live long enough to discover that truth is always on an eminence, and that the downward course is only too easy to those who rush in so headlong a manner at its goal, as to suffer the impetus of the ascent to carry them past the apex. A social fact cannot be carried out to demonstration like a problem in Euclid, the ramifications being so infinite as to reduce the results to something very like a conclusion from a multitude of interests.

It is next incumbent to speak of Marble. He passed an entire month at Clawbonny, during which time he and Neb rigged the Grace and Lucy, seven different ways, coming back to that in which they found her, as the only rig in which she would sail; no bad illustration, by the way, of what is too often the winding up of experiments in overdone political movements. Moses tried shooting, which he had heard belonged to a country life; and he had a sort of design to set up as a fourth or fifth class country gentleman; but his legs were too short to clamber over high rail-fences with any comfort, and he gave up the amusement in despair. In the course of a trial of ten days, he brought in three robins, a small squirrel, and a crow; maintaining that he had also wounded a pigeon, and frightened a whole flock of quails. I have often bagged ten brace of woodcocks of a morning, in the shooting-grounds of Clawbonny, and as many quails in their season.

Six weeks after our marriage, Lucy and I paid Willow Cove a visit, where we passed a very pleasant week. To my surprise, I received a visit from Squire Van Tassel, who seemed to bear no malice. Marble made peace with him, as soon as he paid back the amount of his father's bond, principal and interest, though he always spoke of him contemptuously to me in private. I must confess I was astonished at the seemingly forgiving temper of the old usurer; but I was then too young to understand that there are two principles that govern men's conduct as regards their associations; the one proceeding from humility and Christian forgiveness, and the other from an indifference to what is right. I am afraid the last produces more of what is called a forgiving temper than the first; men being often called vindictive, when they are merely honest.

Marble lost his mother about a twelvemonth after we returned from our unfortunate voyage in the Dawn. A month or two earlier, he lost his niece, little Kitty, by a marriage with the son of 'neighbour Bright.' After this, he passed much of his time at Clawbonny, making occasional visits to us, in Chamber street, in the winter. I say in Chamber street, as trade soon drove us out of Lucy's town residence in Wall street. The lot on which the last once stood is still her property, and is a small fortune of itself. I purchased and built in Chamber street, in 1805, making an excellent investment. In 1825, we went into Bleecker street, a mile higher up town, in order to keep in the beau quartier; and I took advantage of the scarcity of money and low prices of 1839, to take up new ground in Union Place, very nearly a league from the point where Lucy commenced as a house-keeper in the good and growing town of Manhattan.

After Marble found himself an orphan again, he complained that he was little better off than a 'bloody hermit' at Willow Cove, and began to talk about seeing the world. All of a sudden, he made his appearance at Clawbonny, bag and baggage, and announced an intention to look for a mate's berth, in some East Indiaman. I heard his story, kept him a day or two with me, while I superintended the masons who were building my addition to the house, which was then nearly-completed, and then we proceeded to town in company. I took Moses to the ship-yards, and carried him on board a vessel that was just receiving her spars, (she was coppered and copper-fastened, A. No. 1, of live-oak frame, and southern pine decks, &c.,) asking him how he liked her. He hoped she had a good name. "Why, she is called the Smudge," I answered. "I hope you fancy it." Moses jerked a finger over his shoulder, as much as to say he understood me, and inquired where I intended to send the craft. "To Canton, with you for master." I saw that my old mate was touched with this proof of confidence, and that his self-esteem had so much risen with the discovery of his origin that he made no objections to the trust. I did not intend to go regularly into commerce, but I kept the Smudge running many years, always under Marble, and made a vast deal of money by her. Once she went to Europe, Lucy and I going in her as passengers. This was after the death of my dear old guardian, who made such an end, as became his virtuous and Christian life. We, that is Lucy and I, remained abroad several years, returning home in the Smudge, on the last voyage she ever made as belonging to me. Neb had often been out in the ship, just to vary the scene; and he came to Havre in her, as a matter of course, when 'Masser Mile,' 'Miss Lucy,' and their two 'young Massers,' and two 'young Missuses,' were ready to come home. I was a good deal shocked at meeting my old friend, Moses, on this occasion, for he was breaking up fast, being now hard on upon seventy; a time of life when most seamen are unfit for their calling. Moses, however, had held on, with a determination to convey us all back to Clawbonny. Three days after we had sailed, the man of stone had to give up, and take to his berth. I saw that his days were numbered, and felt it to be a duty to let him know his real situation. It was an unpleasant office, but became less so by the resigned and manly manner in which the invalid heard me. It was only when I ceased speaking, that he made an attempt to reply.

"I have known that the v'y'ge of life was pretty near up, Miles," he then answered, "for many a day. When the timbers complain and the new tree-nails hit only decayed wood, it is time to think of breaking up the hull for the craft's copper, and old iron. I've pretty much worn out the Smudge, and the Smudge has pretty much worn out me. I shall never see Ameriky, and I now give up charge of the craft to you. She is your own, and nobody can take better care of her. I own I should like to be cased in something that once belonged to her. There's the bulk-head that was taken down, to alter the state-rooms for your family--it would make as comfortable a coffin as a body could want."

I promised the old man all should be done, as he desired. After a short pause, it struck me the present might be a favourable moment to say a ward on the subject of the future. Marble was never a vicious man, nor could he be called a particularly wicked man, as the world goes. He was thoroughly honest, after making a few allowances for the peculiar opinions of seamen, and his sins were principally those of omission. But, of religious instruction he had literally known none, in early life. That which he had picked up in his subsequent career, was not of the most orthodox character. I had often thought Marble was well disposed on such subjects, but opportunity was always wanting to improve this hopeful disposition. Accordingly, I now spoke plainly to him, and I could see his still keen eyes turned wistfully towards me, more than once, as he listened with an absorbed attention.

"Ay, ay, Miles," he answered, when I was through, "this may all be true enough, but it's rather late in the day for me to go to school. I've heard most of it before, in one shape or another, but it always came so much in scraps and fragments, that before I could bend one idee on to another, so as to make any useful gear of the whole, some of the pieces have slipped through my fingers. Hows'ever, I've been hard at work at the good book, the whole of this v'y'ge, and you know it's been a long one; and I must say that I've picked up a good deal that seems to me to be of the right quality. Now I always thought it was one of the foolishest things a man could do, to forgive one's enemies, my rule having been to return broadside for broadside, as you must pretty well know; but, I now see that it is more like a kind natur' to pardon, than to revenge."

"My dear Moses, this is a very hopeful frame of mind; carry out this feeling in all things, leaning on the Saviour alone for your support, and your dying hour may well be the happiest of your life."

"There's that bloody Smudge, notwithstanding; I hardly think it will be expected of me to look upon him as anything but a 'long-shore pirate, and a fellow to be disposed of in the shortest way possible. As for old Van Tassel, he's gone to square the yards in a part of the univarse where all his tricks will be known; and I hold it to be onreasonable to carry spite ag'in a man beyond the grave. I rather think I have altogether forgiven him; though, to speak the truth, he desarved a rope's-ending."

I understood Marble much better than he understood himself. He felt the sublime beauty of the Christian morality, but, at the same time, he felt there were certain notions so rooted in his own heart, that it exceeded his power to extract them. As for Smudge, his mind had its misgivings concerning the propriety of his own act, and, with the quickness of his nature, sought to protest itself against its own suggestions, by making an exception of that wretch, as against the general mandates of God. Van Tassel he probably could, in a manner, pardon, the mischief having been in a measure repaired; though it was a forgiveness that was strangely tinctured with his own deep contempt for the meanness of the transgressor.

Our conversation lasted a long time. At length Lucy joined in it, when I thought it wisest to leave the old tar in the hands of one so well fitted by nature and education to be the instrument, under the providence of God, of bringing him to a more healthful view of his condition. I had the ship to take care of, and this was a good excuse for not interfering much with what passed between the dying man and her who might almost be termed his ministering angel. I overheard many of their conferences, and was present at some of their prayers, as were my sons and daughters; being thus enabled to understand the progress that was made, and the character of the whole procedure.

It was an admirable sight, truly, to see that still lovely woman, using all the persuasion of her gentle rhetoric, all the eloquence of her warm feelings and just mind, devoting herself for days and days, to the labour of leading such a spirit as that of Marble's to entertain just and humble view's of his own relation to the Creator and his Son, the Saviour of men. I will not say that complete success crowned the pious efforts of the single-hearted woman it was my blessed fortune to call my wife: this, perhaps, was not to be expected. It required a power exceeding hers to guide the human heart at seventy, after a seaman's life, to a full repentance of its sins; but, by the grace of God, so much seemed to be accomplished, as to give us all reason to hope that the seed had taken root, and that the plant might grow under the guidance of that Spirit in whose likeness the most lowly of the race has been created.

The passage was long, but very tranquil, and there was ample time for all that has been related. The ship was still to the eastward of the Grand Banks, when Marble ceased to converse much; though it is evident his thoughts were intently musing. He fell away fast, and I began to look forward to his final departure, as an event that might occur at any hour. He did not seem to suffer, but his hold of life gradually gave way, and the spirit was about to take its departure, purely on account of the decayed condition of the earthly tenement in which it had so long dwelt, as the stork finally deserts the tottering chimney.

About a week after this change, my son Miles came to me on deck, and informed me his dear mother desired to see me in the cabin. On going below, I was met by Lucy, with a face that denoted how solemn she felt was the character of the intelligence she had to communicate.

"The moment is at hand, dear Miles," she said.--"Our old friend is about to be called away."

I felt a pang at this speech, though I had long expected the result. Many of the earlier and more adventurous years of my life passed rapidly in review before me, and I found the image of the dying man blended with nearly all. Whatever may have been his peculiarities, to me he had always been true. From the hour when I first shipped, as a runaway boy, on board the John, down to that hour, Moses Marble had proved himself a firm and disinterested friend to Miles Wallingford.

"Is he conscious?" I asked, anxiously. "When I last saw him, I thought his mind wandered a little."

"Perhaps it did; but he is now more collected, if not entirely so. There is reason to think he has at length felt some of the influence of the Redeemer's sacrifice. For the last week, the proofs of this have been increasing."

No more passed between Lucy and me, on the subject, at that time; but I entered the cabin in which the cot of Marble had been slung. It was a spacious, airy room, for a ship; one that had been expressly fitted by my orders, for the convenience of Lucy and her two daughters, but which those dear, self-denying creatures had early and cheerfully given up to the possession of their old friend.

As yet, I have not particularly spoken of these two girls, the eldest of whom was named Grace, and the youngest Lucy. At that time, the first was just fifteen, while her sister was two years younger. By a singular coincidence, Grace resembled the women of my family most; while the latter, the dear, ingenuous, frank, pretty little thing, had so much likeness to her mother, when at the same time of life, that I often caught her in my arms, and kissed her, as she uttered some honest sentiment, or laughed joyously and melodiously, as had been the practice of her who bore her, twenty years before. On those occasions, Lucy would smile, and sometimes a slight blush would suffuse her face; for I could see she well understood the impulse which would so suddenly carry me off to the days of my boyhood and boyish affection.

On the present solemn occasion both the girls were in the cabin, struggling to be calm, and doing all that lay in their power to solace the dying man. Grace, the oldest, was the most active and efficient, of course, her tender years inducing diffidence in her sister; still, that little image of her mother could not be kept entirely in the back-ground, when the heart and the desire to be useful were urging her to come out of herself, in order to share in her sister's duties.

I found Marble quite sensible, and the anxious manner in which he slowly examined all the interested faces that were now gathered about his bed, proved how accurately he noted the present and the absent. Twice did he go over us all, ere he spoke in the husky tones that usually precede death--

"Call Neb," he said--"took leave of my mates, and of all the rest of the men, yesterday; but I consider Neb as one of the family, Miles, and left him for the last."

This I knew to be true, though I purposely absented myself from a scene that I well understood would have to be repeated in my case. Neb was summoned accordingly, not a syllable being uttered among us, until the black stood just without the circle of my own wife and children. Moses watched the arrangement jealously, and it seems he was dissatisfied at seeing his old shipmate keeping so much aloof at that solemn and absorbing moment.

"You are but a nigger, I know, Neb," the old seaman got out, "but your heart would do honour to a king. It's next to Miles's, and that's as much as can be said of any man's. Come nearer, boy; none here will grudge you the liberty."

Little Lucy drew back in an instant, and fairly pulled Neb into the place she herself had just before occupied.

"Bless you for that, young 'un," said Marble. "I didn't know your mother when she was of your age, but I can see that one cat-block is not more like another than you are like what she was at your age; keep that likeness up, my dear, and then your father will be as happy and fortunate in his darter as he has been in his wife. Well, nobody desarves his luck better than Miles--Providential luck, I mean, my dear madam Wallingford," interpreting a sorrowful expression of Lucy's eyes aright; "for, thanks to your teaching, I now understand there is a divine director of all our fortins, whether ashore, or afloat, black or white."

"There is not a sparrow falls, Captain Marble," said the gentle, earnest voice of my wife, "that he does not note it."

"Yes, so I understand it, now, though once I thought little of such things. Thus, when we were wracked in the Dawn, Neb, it was by God's will, and with a design, like, to bring us three all on to our present fortin, and present frame of mind; should I ever use the word luck, ag'in, which I may be likely enough to do from habit, you are all to understand I mean what I call Providential luck. Yes, madam Wallingford, I comprehend it parfectly, and shall never forget your kindness, which has been to me the best turn of Providential luck that has ever happened. I've sent for you, Neb, to have a parting word, and to give you the advice of an old man before I quit this world altogether."

Neb began to twist his fingers, and I could see tears glistening in his eyes; for his attachment to Marble was of very long standing and of proof. When men have gone through, together, as much as we three had experienced in company, indeed, the most trifling griefs of everyday life get to appear so insignificant, that our connection seems to be one of a nature altogether stronger than the commoner ties.

"Yes, sah, Cap'in Marble, sah; what please to be your wish, sah?" asked the negro, struggling to subdue his grief.

"To say a few words of advice, Neb, to take leave of my friends, and then to be struck off the shipping articles of life. Old age and hard sarvice, Neb, has made me veer cable to the better end. The stopper is working loose, and a few more surges will leave the hulk adrift. The case is different with you, who are in your prime,--and a prime chap be you, on a yard or at the wheel. My parting advice to you, Neb, is, to hold out as you've begun. I don't say you're without failin's, (what nigger is?) but you're a good fellow, and as sartain to be found in your place as the pumps. In the first place, you're a married man; and, though your wife is only a negress, she's your wife, and you must stick to her through thick and thin. Take your master as an example, and obsarve how he loves and cherishes your mistress," [here Lucy pressed, gently, closer to my side;] "and then, as to your children, bring 'em up according' to the advice of Madam Wallingford. You can never sail under better instructions than hern, as I know, by experience. Be particular to make that Hector of yours knock off from swearing: he's begun, and what's begun in sin is pretty sartain to have an indin'. Talk to him, first, and, if that won't do, rope's-end it out of him. There's great vartue in ratlin stuff, among boys. As for yourself, Neb, hold on as you have begun, and the Lord will have marcy on you, before the v'y'ge is up."

Here Marble ceased from exhaustion; though he made a sign to Neb not to move, as he had more to say. After resting a little, he felt under his pillow, whence he produced a very old tobacco-box, fumbled about until he had opened it, took a small bite, and shut the box again. All this was done very slowly, and with the uncertain, feeble movements of a dying man. When the lid was replaced, Marble held the box towards Neb, and resumed his address.

"Use that for my sake, Neb," he said. "It is full of excellent tobacco, and the box has the scent of thirty years in it--that being the time it has sailed in my company. That box has been in nine fights, seven wracks, and has seen more boat-sarvice than most London watermen, or any Whitehaller of 'em all. Among other explites, it has been round the world four times, besides having run the Straits of Magellan in the dark, as might be; as your master and you know as well as I do. Take that box, therefore, lad, and be particular, always, to put none but the best of pig-tail in it--for it's used to that only. And now, Neb, a word about a little duty you're to do for me, when you get in. Ask your master, first, for leave, and then go up to Willow Cove, and carry my blessin' to Kitty and her children. It's easy done, if a man sets about it in the right spirit. All you have to do is to go up to the Cove, and say that I prayed to God to bless 'em all, before I died. Do you think you can remember that?"

"I try, Cap'in Marble, sah--yes, sah, I try all I can, dough I'm no scholar."

"Perhaps you had better confide this office to me," said the musical voice of my wife.

Marble was pleased, and he seemed every way disposed to accept the offer.

"I didn't like to trouble you so much," he answered, "though I feel grateful for the offer. Well, then, Neb, you may leave the blessin' unsaid, as your mistress is so kind--hold on a bit: you can give it to Chloe and her little family; all but Hector, I mean--but not to him, unless he knocks off swearing! As soon as he does that, why let him have his share. Now, Neb, give me your hand. Good bye, boy: you've been true to me, and God bless you for it. You are but a nigger, I know; but there's One in whose eyes your soul is as precious as that of many a prince and priest."

Neb shook hands with his old commander, broke out of the circle, rushed into the steerage, and blubbered like a baby. In the meantime Marble paused to recover his own self-possession, which had been a little disturbed by the feeling manifested by the black. As soon as he felt himself a little composed, he hunted about his cot until he found two small paper boxes, each of which contained a very pretty ring, that it seemed he had purchased for this express purpose when last in port. These rings he gave to my daughters, who received the presents sobbing, though with strong natural exhibitions of the friendly sentiments they entertained for him.

"Your father and I have gone through many hardships and trials together," he said, "and I love you all even more than I love my own relations. I hope this is not wrong, madam Wallingford, for it's out of my power to help it. I've already given my keep-sakes to the boys, and to your parents, and I hope all of you will sometimes remember the poor old sea-dog that God, in his wisdom, threw like a waif in your way, that he might be benefited by your society. There's your polar star, young 'uns," pointing to my wife. "Keep God in mind always, and give to this righteous woman the second place in your hearts; not that I say a word, or think anything ag'in your father, who's a glorious fellow in his way, but, a'ter all, young women should copy a'ter their mothers, when they've such a mother as your'n, the best of fathers fallin' far astern, in gentleness and other vartues."

The girls wept freely, and Marble, after waiting a few minutes took a solemn leave of all my children, desiring everybody but Lucy and myself to quit the cabin. An hour passed in discourse with us two, during which Moses frequently exhorted me to give ear to the pious counsels of my wife, for he manifested much anxiety for the future welfare of my soul.

"I've generalized a great deal over that affair of Smudge, the whole of this v'y'ge," he continued, "and I've had sore misgivings consarning the explite. Madam Wallingford, however, has eased my mind on that score, by showing me how to lay the burthen of this, with all the rest of the load of my sins, on the love of Christ. I am resigned to go, Miles, for it is time, and I'm getting to be useless. It's wicked to wish to run a ship after her frame has worked loose, and nothing now fastens me to life but you. I own it's hard to part, and my mind has had some weakness on the matter. However, Miles, my dear boy, for boy you are still in my eyes, there is comfort in looking ahead. Go by your wife's rules, and when the v'y'ge is up, we shall all find ourselves in the same haven."

"It gives me much happiness, Moses, to find you in this frame of mind," I answered. "Since you must quit us, you will not leave one behind of the name of Wallingford, that will not rejoice at this prospect for the future. As for your sins, God has both the power and the will to lighten you of their weight, when he finds you disposed to penitence, and to make use of the mediation of his blessed Son. If there is anything you desire to have done, hereafter, this is a very proper time to let me know it."

"I've made a will, Miles, and you'll find it in my desk. There are some trifles given to you and yourn, but you want not gold, and the rest all goes to Kitty and her children. There is a p'int, however, on which my mind is very ondetarmined, and I will now lay it before you. Don't you think it more becoming for a seaman to be buried in blue water, than to be tuck'd up in a church-yard? I do not like tombstones, having had too much of them in 'arly youth, and feel as if I want sea-room. What is your opinion, Miles?"

"Decide for yourself. Your wishes will be our law."

"Then roll me up in my cot, and launch me overboard, in the old way. I have sometimes thought it might be well to lie at my mother's side; but she'll excuse an old tar for preferring blue water to one of your country church-yards."

After this, I had several interviews with the old man, though he said nothing more on the subject of his interment, that of his property, or that of his departure. Lucy read the bible to him, two or three times every day, and she prayed with him often. On one occasion, I heard a low, sweet voice, near his cot, and taking a look, ascertained it was my little pet, my daughter Lucy, then only thirteen, reading a second time a chapter that her mother had gone through, only an hour before, with some of her own remarks. The comments were wanting now, but the voice had the same gentle earnestness, the same sweet modulations, and the same impressive distinctness as that of the mother!

Marble lived until we had passed within the Gulf-Stream, dying easily and without a groan, with all my family, Neb and the first-mate, assembled near his cot. The only thing that marked his end was a look of singular significance that he cast on my wife, not a minute before he breathed his last. There he lay, the mere vestige of the robust hardy seaman I had once known, a child in physical powers, and about to make the last great change. Material as were the alterations in the man, from what he had been when in his pride, I thought the spiritual or intellectual part of his being was less to be recognised than the bodily. Certainly that look was full of resignation and hope; and we had reason to believe that this rude but honest creature was spared long enough to complete the primary object of his existence.

In obedience to his own earnest request, though sorely against the feelings of my wife and daughters, I buried the body of my old friend in the ocean, six days before we made the land.

And now it remains only to speak of Lucy. I have deferred this agreeable duty to the last, passing over long years that were pregnant with many changes, in order to conclude with this delightful theme.

The first few years of my married life were years of bliss to me. I lived under a constant sense of happiness; a happiness that man can derive only from a union with a woman of whom his reason and principles as much approve, as his tastes and passion cherish. I do not mean to be understood that the years which have succeeded were a whit less happy; for, in a certain sense, they have been more so, and have gone on increasing in happiness down to the present hour, but because time and use finally so far accustomed me to this intimate connection with purity, virtue, female disinterestedness and feminine delicacy, that I should have missed them, as things incorporated with my very existence, had I been suddenly deprived of my wife, quite as much as in the first years of my married life, I enjoyed them as things hitherto unknown to me.

As I ride over the fields of Clawbonny, even at this day, I recall with tranquil delight, and I trust with humble gratitude, the manner in which those blessed early years of our marriage passed. That was the period when every thought of mine was truly shared by Lucy. She accompanied me in my daily rides or drives, and listened to every suggestion that fell from my lips, with kind interest and the most indulgent attention, rendering me back thought for thought, feeling for feeling, laugh for laugh; and, occasionally, tear for tear. Not an emotion could become aroused in my breast that it did not meet with its reflection in her's; or a sense of the ludicrous be awakened, that her keen but chastened humour did not increase its effect by sympathy. Those were the years in which were planned and executed the largest improvements for the buildings, pleasure-grounds, and fields of Clawbonny. We built extensively, not only out-houses and stables better suited to our present means, and more enlarged mode of living, than those which existed in my father's time, but, as has been stated before, we added to the dwelling, preserving its pleasing confusion and irregularity of architecture. After passing the first summer which succeeded our marriage in this manner, I told Lucy it was time to stop building and improving my own place, in order that some attention might be bestowed on that she had inherited from Mrs. Bradfort, and which was also old family property.

"Do not think of it, Miles," she said. "Keep Riversedge in good order, and no more. Rupert," who was then living, and in possession, "will see that nothing goes to waste; but Clawbonny, dear Clawbonny, is the true home of a Wallingford--and I am now a Wallingford, you will remember. Should this precious boy of ours live to become a man, and marry, the old West-Chester property can be used by him, until we are ready to give him up possession, here."

This plan has not been literally carried out; for Miles, my eldest son, lives with us at Clawbonny, in the summer; and his noisy boys are at this moment playing a game of ball in a field that has been expressly devoted to their amusements.

The period which succeeded the first half-dozen years of my union with Lucy, was not less happy than the first had been; though it assumed a new character. Our children then came into the account, not as mere playthings, and little beings to be most tenderly loved and cared for, but as creatures that possess the image of God in their souls, and whose future characters, in a measure, depended on our instruction. The manner in which Lucy governed her children, and led them by gentle means to virtue and truth, has always been a subject of the deepest admiration and gratitude with me. Her rule has been truly one of love. I do not know that I ever heard her voice raised in anger, to any human being, much less to her own offspring; but whenever reproof has come, it has come in the language of interest and affection, more or less qualified by severity, as circumstances may have required. The result has been all that our fondest hopes could have led us to anticipate.

When we travelled, it was with all our young people, and a new era of happiness, heightened by the strongest domestic affection, opened on us. All who have seen the world have experienced the manner in which our intellectual existences, as it might be, expand; but no one, who has not experienced it, can tell the deep, heartfelt satisfaction there is, in receiving this enlargement of the moral creature, in close association with those we love most on earth. The manner in which Lucy enjoyed all she saw and learned, on our first visit to the other hemisphere; her youngest child--all four of our children were born within the first eight years of our marriage--her youngest child was then long past its infancy, and she had leisure to enjoy herself, in increasing the happiness of her offspring. She had improved her mind by reading; and her historical lore, in particular, was always ready to be produced for the common advantage. There was no ostentation in this; but everything was produced just as if each had a right to its use. Then it was, I felt the immense importance of having a companion, in an intellectual sense, in a wife. Lucy had always been intelligent; but I never fully understood her superiority in this respect, until we travelled together, amid the teeming recollections and scenes of the old world. That America is the greatest country of ancient or modern times, I shall not deny. Everybody says it; and what everybody says, must be true. Nevertheless, I will venture to hint, that, cæteris paribus, and where there is the disposition to think at all, the intellectual existence of every American who goes to Europe, is more than doubled in its intensity. This is the country of action, not of thought, or speculation. Men follow out their facts to results, instead of reasoning them out. Then, the multiplicity of objects and events that exist in the old countries to quicken the powers of the mind, has no parallel here. It is owing to this want of the present and the past, which causes the American, the moment he becomes speculative, to run into the future. That future promises much, and, in a degree, may justify the weakness. Let us take heed, however, that it do not lead to disappointment.

After all, I have found Lucy the most dear to me, and the most valuable companion, since we have both passed the age of fifty. Air is not more transparent, than her pure mind, and I ever turn to it for counsel, sympathy, and support, with a confidence and reliance that experience could alone justify. As we draw nearer to the close of life, I find my wife gradually loosening the ties of this world, her love for her husband and children excepted, and fastening her looks on a future world. In thus accomplishing, with a truth and nature that are unerringly accurate, the great end of her being, nothing repulsive, nothing that is in the least tinctured with bigotry, and nothing that is even alienated from the affections, or her duties in life, is mingled with her devotion. My family, like its female head, has ever been deeply impressed by religion; but it is religion in its most pleasing aspect; religion that has no taint of puritanism, and in which sin and innocent gaiety are never confounded It is the most cheerful family of my acquaintance; and this, I must implicitly believe, solely because, in addition to the bounties it enjoys, under the blessing of God, it draws the just distinction between those things that the word of God has prohibited, and those which come from the excited and exaggerated feelings of a class of theologians, who, constantly preaching the doctrine of faith, have regulated their moral discipline solely, as if, in their hearts, they placed all their reliance on the efficacy of a school of good works that has had its existence in their own diseased imaginations. I feel the deepest gratitude to Lucy for having enstilled the most profound sense of their duties into our children, while they remain totally free from cant, and from those exaggerations and professions which so many mistake for piety of purer emanation.

Some of my readers may feel a curiosity to know how time has treated us elderly people, for elderly we have certainly become. As for myself, I enjoy a green old age, and I believe look at least ten years younger than I am. This, I attribute to temperance and exercise. Lucy was positively an attractive woman until turned of fifty, retaining even a good deal of her bloom down to that period of life. I think her handsome still; and old Neb, when in a flattering humour, is apt to speak of either of my daughters as his "handsome young missus," and of my wife as his "handsome ole missus."

And why should not Lucy Hardinge continue to retain many vestiges of those charms which rendered her so lovely in youth? Ingenuous, pure of mind, sincere, truthful, placid and just, the soul could scarcely fail to communicate some of its blessed properties to that countenance which even now so sensitively reflects its best impulses. I repeat, Lucy is still handsome, and in my eyes even her charming daughters are less fair. That she has so long been, and is still my wife, forms not only the delight but the pride of my life. It is a blessing, for which, I am not ashamed to say, I daily render thanks to God, on my knees.

The End.

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