The Pilot, volume 2
by James Fenimore Cooper
Our trumpet called you to this gentle parle
— King John
As Griffith and his compantions rushed from the offices of St.
Ruth, into the open air, they encountered no one to intercept their
flight, or communicate the alarm. Warned by the experience of the
earlier part of the same night, they avoided the points where they knew
the sentinels were posted, though fully prepared to bear down all
resistance, and were soon beyond the probability of immediate
detection. They proceded, for the distance of half a mile, with rapid
strides, and with the stern and sullen silence of men who expected to
encounter immediate danger, resolved to breast it with desperate
resolution; but, as they plunged into a copse, that clustered around
the ruin which has already been mentioned, they lessened their
exertions to a more deliberate pace; and a short but guarded dialogue
"We have had a timely escape," said Griffith; "I would much rather
have endured captivity, than have been the cause of introducing
confusion and bloodshed into the peaceful residence of Colonel Howard."
"I would, sir, that you had been of this opinion some hours
earlier," returned the pilot, with a severity in his tones that even
conveyed more meaning than his words.
"I may have forgotten my duty, sir, in my anxiety to inquire into
the condition of a family in whom I feel a particular interest,"
returned Griffith, in a manner in which pride evidently struggled with
respect; "but this is not a time for regrets; I apprehend that we
follow you on an errand of some moment, where actions would be more
acceptable than any words of apology. What is your pleasure now?"
"I much fear that our project will be defeated," said the pilot,
gloomily; "the alarm will spread with the morning fogs, and there will
be musterings of the yeomen, and consultations of the gentry, that will
drive all thoughts of amusement from their minds. The rumour of a
descent will, at any time, force sleep from the shores of this island,
to at least ten leagues inland."
"Ay, you have probably passed some pleasant nights, with your eyes
open, among them, yourself, Master Pilot," said Manual; "they may thank
the Frenchman, Thurot, in the old business of '56, and our own
dare-devil, the bloody Scotchman, as the causes of their quarters being
so often beaten up. After all, Thurot, with his fleet, did no more than
bully them a little, and the poor fellow was finally extinguished by a
few small cruisers, like a drummer's boy under a grenadier's cap; but
honest Paul sung a different tune for his countrymen to dance to,
"I believe you will shortly dance yourself, Manual," interrupted
Griffith, quickly, "and in very pleasure that you have escaped an
"Say, rather, an English gibbet," continued the elated marine; "for
had a court-martial or a court-civil discussed the manner of our
entrance into this island, I doubt whether we should have fared better
than the dare-devil himself, honest—"
"Pshaw!" exclaimed the impatient Griffith, "enough of this
nonsense, Captain Manual; we have other matters to discuss now;—what
course have you determined to pursue, Mr. Gray?"
The pilot started, like a man aroused from a deep musing at this
question, and after a pause of a moment, he spoke in a low tone of
voice, as if still under the influence of deep and melancholy feeling—
"The night has already run into the morning watch, but the sun is
backward to show himself in this latitude in the heart of a winter—I
must leave you, my friends, to rejoin you some ten hours hence; it will
be necessary to look deeper into our scheme before we hazard any thing,
and no one can do the service but myself—where shall we meet again?"
"I have reason to think that there is an unfrequented ruin, at no
great distance from us," said Griffith; "perhaps we might find both
shelter and privacy among its deserted walls."
"The thought is good," returned the pilot, "and 'twill answer a
double purpose. Could you find the place where you put the marines in
ambush, Captain Manual?"
"Has a dog a nose! and can he follow a clean scent!" exclaimed the
marine; "do you think, Signior Pilota, that a general ever puts his
forces in an ambuscade where he can't find them himself?'Fore God! I
knew well enough where the rascals lay snoring on their knapsacks, some
half-an-hour ago, and I would have given the oldest majority in
Washington's army to have had them where a small intimation from myself
could have brought them in line ready dressed for a charge. I know not
how you fared, gentlemen, but with me, the sight of twenty such
vagabonds would have been a joyous spectacle; we would have tossed that
Captain Borroughcliffe and his recruits on the points of our bayonets,
as the devil would pitch—"
"Come, come, Manual," said Griffith, a little angrily, "you
constantly forget our situation and our errand; can you lead your men
hither without discovery, before the day dawns?"
"I want but the shortest half-hour that a bad watch ever travelled
over to do it in."
"Then follow, and I will appoint a place of secret rendezvous,"
rejoined Griffith; "Mr. Gray can learn our situation at the same time."
The pilot was seen to beckon, through the gloom of the night, for
his companions to move forward, when they proceeded, with cautious
steps, in quest of the desired shelter. A short search brought them in
contact with a part of the ruinous walls that spread over a large
surface, and which, in places, reared their black fragments against the
sky, casting a deeper obscurity across the secret recesses of the wood.
"This will do," said Griffith, when they had skirted for some
distance the outline of the crumbling fabric; "bring up your men to
this point, where I will meet you, and conduct them to some more secret
place, for which I shall search during your absence."
"A perfect paradise, after the cable-tiers of the Ariel!" exclaimed
Manual; "I doubt not but a good spot might be selected among these
trees fora steady drill; a thing my soul has pined after for six long
"Away, away!" cried Griffith; "here is no place for idle parades;
if we find shelter from discovery and capture until you shall be needed
in a deadly struggle, 'twill be well."
Manual was slowly retracing his steps to the skirts of the wood,
when he suddenly turned, and asked—
"Shall I post a small picquet, a mere corporal's guard, in the open
ground in front, and make a chain of sentinels to our works?"
"We have no works—we want no sentinels," returned his impatient
commander; "our security is only to be found in secrecy. Lead up your
men under the cover of the trees, and let those three bright stars be
your landmarks—bring them in a range with the northern corner of the
"Enough, Mr. Griffith," interrupted Manual; "a column of troops is
not to be steered like a ship, by compass, and bearings, and
distances;— trust me, sir, the march shall be conducted with proper
discretion, though in a military manner."
Any reply or expostulation was prevented by the sudden
disappearance of the marine, whose retreating footsteps were heard, for
several moments, as he moved at a deliberate pace through the
underwood. During this short interval, the pilot stood reclining
against a corner of the ruins in profound silence, but when the sounds
of Manual's march were no longer audible, he advanced from under the
deeper shadows of the wall, and approached his youthful companion.
"We are indebted to the marine for our escape," he said; "I hope we
are not to suffer by his folly."
"He is what Barnstable calls a rectangular man," returned Griffith,
"and will have his wayin matters of his profession, though a daring
companion in a hazardous expedition. If we can keep him from exposing
us by his silly parade, we shall find him a man who will do his work
like a soldier, sir, when need happens."
"'Tis all I ask; until the last moment he and his command must be
torpid; for if we are discovered, any attempt of ours, with some twenty
bayonets and a half-pike or two, would be useless against the force
that would be brought to crush us."
"The truth of your opinion is too obvious," returned Griffith;
"these fellows will sleep a week at a time in a gale at sea, but the
smell of the land wakes them up, and I fear 'twill be hard to keep them
close during the day."
"It must be done, sir, by the strong hand of force," said the pilot
sternly, "if it cannot be done by admonition; if we had no more than
the recruits of that drunken martinet to cope with, it would be no hard
task to drive them into the sea; but I learned in my prison that horse
are expected on the shore with the dawn; there is one they call Dillon
who is on the alert to do us mischief."
"The miscreant!" muttered Griffith; "then you also have had
communion, sir, with some of the inmates of St. Ruth?"
"It behooves a man who is embarked in a perilous enterprise to
seize all opportunities to learn his hazard," said the pilot,
evasively; "if the report be true, I fear we have but little hopes of
succeeding in our plans."
"Nay, then, let us take the advantage of the darkness to regain the
schooner; the coasts of England swarm with hostile cruisers, and a rich
trade is flowing into the bosom of this island from the four quarters
of the world; we shall not seek long for a foe worthy to contend with,
nor for the opportunities to cut up the Englishman in his sinews of
"Griffith," returned the pilot in his still, low tones, that seemed
to belong to a man who never knew ambition, nor felt human passion, "I
grow sick of this struggle between merit and privileged rank. It is in
vain that I scour the waters which the King of England boastingly calls
his own, and capture his vessels in the very mouths of his harbours, if
my reward is to consist only of violated promises, and hollow
professions;—but your proposition is useless to me; I have at length
obtained a ship of a size sufficient to convey my person to the shores
of honest, plain-dealing America, and I would enter the hall of
congress, on my return, attended by a few of the legislators of this
learned isle, who think they possess the exclusive privilege to be
wise, and virtuous, and great."
"Such a retinue might doubtless be grateful both to your own
feelings and those who would receive you," said Griffith, modestly;
"but would it affect the great purposes of our struggle, or is it an
exploit, when achieved, worth the hazard you incur?"
Griffith felt the hand of the pilot on his own, pressing it with a
convulsive grasp, as he replied, in a voice, if possible, even more
desperately calm than his former tones—
"There is glory in it, young man; if it be purchased with danger,
it shall be rewarded by fame! It is true, I wear your republican
livery, and call the Americans my brothers, but it is because you
combat in behalf of human nature. Were your cause less holy, I would
not shed the meanest drop that flows in English veins to serve it; but
now, it hallows every exploit that is undertakenin its favour, and the
names of all who contend for it shall belong to posterity. Is there no
merit in teaching these proud islanders that the arm of liberty can
pluck them from the very empire of their corruption and oppression?"
"Then let me go and ascertain what we most wish to know; you have
been seen there, and might attract—"
"You little know me," interrupted the pilot; "the deed is my own.
If I succeed, I shall claim the honour, and it is proper that I incur
the hazard; if I fail, it will be buried in oblivion, like fifty others
of my schemes, which, had I power to back me, would have thrown this
kingdom in consternation, from the look-outs on the boldest of its
head-lands, to those on the turrets of Windsor-Castle. But I was born
without the nobility of twenty generations to corrupt my blood and
deaden my soul, and am not trusted by the degenerate wretches who rule
the French marine."
"'Tis said that ships of two decks are building from our own oak,"
said Griffith; "and you have only to present yourself in America, to be
employed most honourably."
"Ay! the republics cannot doubt the man who has supported their
flag, without lowering it an inch, in so many bloody conflicts! I do go
there, Griffith, but my way lies on this path; my pretended friends
have bound my hands often, but my enemies, never—neither shall they
now. Ten hours will determine all I wish to know, and with you I trust
the safety of the party till my return; be vigilant, but be prudent."
"If you should not appear at the appointed hour," exclaimed
Griffith, as he beheld the pilot turning to depart, "where am I to
seek, and how serve you?"
"Seek me not, but return to your vessel; my earliest years were
passed on this coast, and I can leave the island, should it be
necessary, as I entered it, aided by this disguise and my own
knowledge; look to your charge, in such an event, and forget me
Griffith could distinguish the silent wave of his hand when the
pilot concluded, and the next instant he was left alone. For several
minutes the young man continued where he had been standing, musing on
the singular endowments and restless enterprise of the being with whom
chance had thus brought him, unexpectedly, in contact, and with whose
fate and fortunes his own prospects had, by the intervention of
unlooked-for circumstances, become so intimately connected. When the
reflections excited by recent occurrences had passed away, he entered
within the sweeping circle of the ruinous walls, and after a very
cursory survey of the state of the dilapidated building, he was
satisfied that it contained secret places enough to conceal all his
men, until the return of the pilot should warn them that the hour had
come when they must attempt the seizure of the devoted sportsmen, or
darkness should again facilitate their return to the Ariel. It was now
about the commencement of that period of deep night which seamen
distinguish as the morning watch, and Griffith ventured to the edge of
the little wood, to listen if any sounds or tumult indicated that they
were pursued. On reaching a point where his eye could faintly
distinguish distant objects, the young man paused, and bestowed a close
and wary investigation on the surrounding scene.
The fury of the gale had sensibly abated, but a steady current of
sea air was rushing through the naked branches of the oaks, lending a
drearyand mournful sound to the gloom of the dim prospect. At the
distance of a short half mile, the confused outline of the pile of St.
Ruth rose proudly against the streak of light which was gradually
increasing above the ocean, and there were moments when the young
seaman even fancied he could discern the bright caps that topped the
waves of his own disturbed element. The long, dull roar of the surf, as
it tumbled heavily on the beach, or dashed with unbroken violence
against the hard boundary of rocks, was borne along by the blasts
distinctly to his ears. It was a time and a situation to cause the
young seaman to ponder deeply on the changes and chances of his
hazardous profession. Only a few short hours had passed since he was
striving with his utmost skill, and with all his collected energy, to
guide the enormous fabric, in which so many of his comrades were now
quietly sleeping on the broad ocean, from that very shore on which he
now stood in cool indifference to the danger. The recollection of home,
America, his youthful and enduring passion, and the character and
charms of his mistress, blended in a sort of wild and feverish
confusion, which was not, however, without its pleasures, in the ardent
fancy of the young man, and he was slowly approaching, step by step,
towards the abbey, when the sound of footsteps, proceeding evidently
from the measured tread of disciplined men, reached his ears. He was
instantly recalled to his recollection by this noise, which increased
as the party deliberately approached, and in a few moments he was able
to distinguish a line of men, marching in order towards the edge of the
wood from which he had himself so recently issued. Retiring rapidly
under the deeper shadow of the wood, he waited until it was apparent
the party intended to enter under its cover also, when he ventured to
"Who comes, and on what errand?" he cried.
"A skulker, and to burrow like a rabbit, or jump from hole to hole,
like a wharf-rat!" said Manual, sulkily; "here have I been marching,
within half-musket shot of the enemy, without daring to pull a trigger
on their out-posts even, because our muzzles are plugged with that
universal extinguisher of gunpowder, called prudence. 'Fore God! Mr.
Griffith, I hope you may never feel the temptation to do an evil deed
which I felt just now to throw a volley of small shot into that
dog-kennel of a place, if it were only to break its windows and let in
the night air upon the sleeping sot who is dozing away the fumes of
some as good, old, south-side—harkye, Mr. Griffith, one word in your
A short conference took place between the two officers, apart from
the men, at the close of which, as they rejoined the party, Manual
might be heard urging his plans on the reluctant ears of Griffith, in
the following words:—
"I could carry the old dungeon without waking one of the snorers;
and, consider, we might get a stock of as rich cordial from its cellars
as ever oiled the throat of a gentleman!"
"'Tis idle, 'tis idle," said Griffith, impatiently; "we are not
robbers of hen-roosts, nor wine-gaugers, to be prying into the vaults
of the English gentry, Captain Manual, but honourable men, employed in
the sacred cause of liberty and our country. Lead your party into the
ruin, and let them seek their rest; we may have work for them with the
"Evil was the hour when I quitted the line of the army, to place a
soldier under the orders of an awkward squad of tarry jackets!"
mutteredManual, as he proceeded to execute an order that was delivered
with an air of authority that he knew must be obeyed. "As pretty an
opportunity for a surprise and a forage thrown away, as ever crossed
the path of a partisan! but, by all the rights of man! I'll have an
encampment in some order. Here, you sergeant, detail a corporal and
three men for a picket, and station them in the skirts of this wood. We
shall have a sentinel in advance of our position, and things shall be
conducted with some air of discipline."
Griffith heard this order with great inward disgust; but as he
anticipated the return of the pilot before the light could arrive to
render this weak exposure of their situation apparent, he forbore
exercising his power to alter the arrangement. Manual had, therefore,
the satisfaction of seeing his little party quartered as he thought in
a military manner, before he retired with Griffith and his men into one
of the vaulted apartments of the ruin, which, by its open and broken
doors invited their entrance. Here the marines disposed themselves to
rest, while the two officers succeeded in passing the tedious hours,
without losing their characters for watchfulness, by conversing with
each other, or, at whiles, suffering their thoughts to roam in the very
different fields which fancy would exhibit to men of such differing
characters. In this manner, hour after hour passed, in listless quiet,
or sullen expectation, until the day had gradually advanced, and it
became dangerous to keep the sentinels and picket in open view, where
they would be liable to be seen by any straggler who might be passing
near the wood. Manual remonstrated against any alteration, as being
entirely unmilitary, for he was apt to carry his notions of tactics to
extremes whenever he came in collision with a sea-officer, but in this
instancehis superior was firm, and the only concession the captain
could obtain was liberty to place a solitary sentinel within a few feet
of the vault, and under cover of the crumbling walls of the building
itself. With this slight deviation in their arrangements, the uneasy
group remained for several hours longer, impatiently awaiting the
period when they should be required to move.
The guns first fired from the Alacrity had been distinctly audible,
and were pronounced by Griffith, whose practised ear detected the
weight of metal carried by the piece that was used, as not proceeding
from the schooner. When the rapid though distant rumbling of the
spirited cannonade became audible, it was with difficulty that Griffith
could restrain either his own feelings or the conduct of his companions
within those bounds that prudence and their situation required. The
last gun was, however, fired, and not a man had left the vault, and
conjectures as to the result of the fight, succeeded to those which had
been previously made on the character of the combatants during the
action. Some of the marines would raise their heads from the fragments
of the building, that served them as pillows on which they were seeking
disturbed and stolen slumbers, and after listening to the cannon, would
again compose themselves to sleep, like men who felt no concern in a
contest in which they did not participate. Others, more alive to
events, and less drowsy, lavishly expended their rude jokes on those
who were engaged in the struggle, or listened with a curious interest
to mark the progress of the battle, by the uncertain index of its
noise. When the fight had been concluded some time, Manual indulged his
ill-humour more at length—
"There has been a party of pleasure, within a league of us, Mr.
Griffith," he said, "at which, but for our present subterraneous
quarters, we mighthave been guests, and thus laid some claim to the
honour of sharing in the victory. But it is not too late to push the
party on as far as the cliffs, where we shall be in sight of the
vessels, and we may possibly establish a claim to our share of the
"There is but little wealth to be gleaned from the capture of a
king's cutter," returned Griffith, "and there would be less honour were
Barnstable encumbered with our additional and useless numbers."
"Useless!" repeated Manual; "there is much good service to be got
out of twenty-three welldrilled and well-chosen marines; look at those
fellows, Mr. Griffith, and then tell me if you would think them an
encumbrance in the hour of need?"
Griffith smiled, and glanced his eye over the sleeping group, for
when the firing had ceased the whole party sought their repose, and he
could not help admiring the athletic and sinewy limbs that lay
scattered around the gloomy vault, in every posture that ease or whim
dictated. From the stout frames of the men, his glance was directed to
the stack of fire-arms, from whose glittering tubes and polished
bayonets, strong rays of light were reflected, even in that dark
apartment. Manual followed the direction of his eyes, and watched the
expression of his countenance, with inward exultation, but he had the
forbearance to await his reply before he manifested his feelings more
"I know them to be true men," said Griffith, "when needed,
but—hark! what says he?"
"Who goes there? what noise is that?" repeated the sentinel who was
placed at the entrance of the vault.
Manual and Griffith both sprang from their places of rest, and
stood, unwilling to create theslightest sounds, listening with the most
intense anxiety to catch the next indications of the cause of their
guardian's alarm. A short stillness, like that of death, succeeded,
during which Griffith whispered—
"'Tis the pilot; his hour has been long passed."
The words were hardly spoken, when the clashing of steel in fierce
and sudden contact was heard, and at the next instant the body of the
sentinel fell heavily along the stone steps that led to the open air,
and rolled lifelessly at their feet, with the bayonet that had caused
his death projecting from a deep wound in his breast.
"Away, away! sleepers away!" shouted Griffith.
"To arms!" cried Manual, in a voice of thunder.
The alarmed marines, suddenly aroused from their slumbers at these
thrilling cries, sprang on their feet in a confused cluster, and at
that fatal moment a body of living fire darted into the vault, which
re-echoed with the reports of twenty muskets. The uproar, the smoke,
and the groans which escaped from many of his party, could not restrain
Griffith another instant; his pistol was fired through the cloud which
concealed the entrance of the vault, and he followed the leaden
messenger, trailing a half-pike, and shouting to his men—
"Come on! follow, my lads; they are nothing but soldiers."
Even while he spoke, the ardent young seaman was rushing up the
narrow passage, but as he gained the open space, his foot struck the
writhing body of the victim of his shot, and he was precipitated
headlong into a group of armed men.
"Fire! Manual, fire!" shouted the infuriatedprisoner; "fire, while
you have them in a cluster."
"Ay, fire, Mr. Manual," said Borroughcliffe, with great coolness,
"and shoot your own officer; hold him up, boys! hold him up in front;
the safest place is nighest to him."
"Fire!" repeated Griffith, making several desperate efforts to
release himself from the grasp of five or six men; "fire, and disregard
"If he do, he deserves to be hung," said Borroughcliffe; "such fine
fellows are not sufficiently plenty to be shot at like wild beasts in
chains. Take him from before the mouth of the vault, boys, and spread
yourselves to your duty."
At the time Griffith issued from the cover, Manual was mechanically
employed in placing his men in order, and the marines, accustomed to do
every thing in concert and array, lost the moment to advance. The
soldiers of Borroughcliffe reloaded their muskets, and fell back behind
different portions of the wall, where they could command the entrance
to the vault with their fire, without much exposure to themselves. This
disposition was very coolly reconnoitred by Manual in person, through
some of the crevices in the wall, and he hesitated to advance against
the force he beheld, while so advantageously posted. In this situation
several shot were fired by either party, without effect, until
Borroughcliffe, perceiving the inefficacy of that mode of attack,
summoned the garrison of the vault to a parly.
"Surrender to the forces of his majesty, King George the Third," he
cried, "and I promise you quarter."
"Will you release your prisoner, and give us free passage to our
vessels?" asked Manual;"the garrison to march out with all the honours
of war, and officers to retain their side-arms?"
"Inadmissible," returned Borroughcliffe, with great gravity; "the
honour of his majesty's arms, and the welfare of the realm, forbids
such a treaty; but I offer you safe quarter, and honourable treatment."
"Officers to retain their side-arms, your prisoner to be released,
and the whole party to return to America, on parole, not to serve until
"Not granted," said Borroughcliffe. "The most that I can yield, is
a good potation of the generous south-side, and if you are the man I
take you for, you will know how to prize such an offer."
"In what capacity do you summon us to yield? as men entitled to the
benefit of the laws of arms, or as rebels to your king?"
"Ye are rebels all, gentlemen," returned the deliberate
Borroughcliffe, "and as such ye must yield; though so far as good
treatment and good fare goes, you are sure of it while in my power; in
all other respects you lie at the mercy of his most gracious majesty."
"Then let his majesty show his gracious face, and come and take us,
for I'll be—"
The asseveration of the marine was interrupted by Griffith, whose
blood had sensibly cooled, and whose generous feelings were awakened in
behalf of his comrades, now that his own fate seemed decided.
"Hold, Manual," he cried, "make no rash oaths; Captain
Borroughcliffe, I am Edward Griffith, a lieutenant in navy of the
United American States, and I pledge you my honour, to a parole—"
"Release him," said Borroughcliffe.
Griffith advanced between the two parties, and spoke so as to be
heard by both—
"I propose to descend to the vault and ascertain the loss and
present strength of Captain Manual's party; if the latter be not
greater than I apprehend, I shall advise him to a surrender on the
usual conditions of civilized nations."
"Go," said the soldier; "but stay; is he a half-and-half—an
amphibious—pshaw! I mean a marine?"
"He is, sir, a captain in that corps—"
"The very man," interrupted Borroughcliffe; "I thought I
recollected the liquid sounds of his voice. It will be well to speak to
him of the good fare of St. Ruth's, and you may add, that I know my
man; I shall besiege instead of storming him, with the certainty of his
surrendering when his canteen is empty. The vault he is in holds no
such beverage as the cellars of the abbey."
Griffith smiled, in spite of the occasion and his vexation, and
making a slight inclination of his head, he passed into the vault,
giving notice to his friends, by his voice, in order to apprize them
He found six of the marines, including the sentinel, lying dead on
the ragged pavement, and four others wounded, but stifling their
groans, by the order of their commander, that they might not inform the
enemy of his weakness. With the remainder of his command Manual had
intrenched himself behind the fragment of a wall that intersected the
vault, and regardless of the dismaying objects before him, maintained
as bold a front, and as momentous an air, as if the fate of a walled
town depended on his resolution and ingenuity.
"You see, Mr. Griffith," he cried, when the young sailor approached
this gloomy but really formidable arrangement, "that nothing short of
artillery can dislodge me; as for that drinking Englishman above, let
him send down his men by platoons of eight or ten, and I'll pile them
up on those steps, four and five deep."
"But artillery can and will be brought, if it should be necessary,"
said Griffith, "and there is not the least chance of your eventual
escape; it may be possible for you to destroy a few of the enemy, but
you are too humane to wish to do it unnecessarily."
"No doubt," returned Manual, with a grim smile; "and yet methinks I
could find present pleasure in shooting seven of them—yes, just seven,
which is one more than they have struck off my roster."
"Remember your own wounded," added Griffith; "they suffer for want
of aid, while you protract a useless defence."
A few smothered groans, from the sufferers, seconded this appeal,
and Manual yielded, though with a very ill grace, to the necessity of
"Go, then, and tell him that we will surrender as prisoners of
war," he said, "on the conditions that he grants me my side-arms, and
that suitable care shall be taken of the sick—be particular to call
them sick—for some lucky accident may yet occur before the compact is
ratified, and I would not have him learn our loss."
Griffith, without waiting for a second bidding, hastened to
Borroughcliffe with his intelligence.
"His side-arms!" repeated the soldier, when the other had done;
"what are they, I pray thee, a marlingspike! for if his equipments be
no better than thine own, my worthy prisoner, there is little need to
quarrel about their ownership."
"Had I but ten of my meanest men, armed with such half-pikes, and
Captain Borroughcliffewith his party were put at deadly strife with
su," retorted Griffith, "he might find occasion to value our weapons
"Four such fiery gentlemen as yourself would have routed my
command," returned Borroughcliffe, with undisturbed composure; "I
trembled for my ranks when I saw you coming out of the smoke like a
blazing comet from behind a cloud, and I shall never think of somersets
without returning inward thanks to their inventor. But our treaty is
made; let your comrades come forth and pile their arms."
Griffith communicated the result to the captain of marines, when
the latter led the remnant of his party our of his sunken fortress into
the open air.
The men, who had manifested throughout the whole business that cool
subordination and unyielding front, mixed with the dauntless spirit
that to this day distinguishes the corps of which they were members,
followed their commander in sullen silence, and stacked their arms,
with as much regularity and precision as if they had been ordered to
relieve themselves after a march. When this necessary preliminary had
been observed, Borroughcliffe unmasked his forces, and our adventurers
found themselves once more in the power of the enemy, and under
circumstances which rendered the prospects of a speedy release from
their captivity nearly hopeless.
"If your Father will do me any honour, so;
If not, let him kill the next Percy himself;
I look to be either Earl or Duke, I can assure you."
Manual cast several discontented and sullen looks from his captors
to the remnant of his own command, while the process of pinioning the
latter was conducted, with much discretion, under the directions of
Sergeant Drill, when meeting, in one of his dissatisfied glances, with
the pale and disturbed features of Griffith, he gave vent to his
ill-humour, by saying—
"This results from neglecting the precautions of military
discipline. Had the command been with me, who, I may say, without
boasting, have been accustomed to the duties of the field, proper
picquets would have been posted, and instead of being caught like so
many rabbits in a burrow, to be smoked out with brimstone, we should
have had an open field for the struggle, or we might have possessed
ourselves of these walls, which I could have made good for two hours at
least, against the best regiment that ever wore King George's facings."
"Defend the outworks before retreating to the citadel!" cried
Borroughcliffe; "'tis the game of war, and shows science; but had you
kept closer to your burrow, the rabbits might now have allbeen frisking
about in that pleasant abode. The eyes of a timid hind were greeted
this morning, while journeying near this wood, with a passing sight of
armed men, in strange attire, and as he fled, with an intent of casting
himself into the sea, as fear will sometimes urge one of his kind to
do, he luckily encountered me on the cliffs, who humanely saved his
life, by compelling him to conduct us hither. There is often wisdom in
science, my worthy contemporary in arms, but there is sometimes safety
"You have succeeded, sir, and have a right to be pleasant," said
Manual, seating himself gloomily on a fragment of the ruin, and
fastening his looks on the melancholy spectacle of the lifeless bodies,
as they were successively brought from the vault and placed at his
feet; "but these men have been my own children, and you will excuse me
if I cannot retort your pleasantries. Ah! Captain Borroughcliffe, you
are a soldier, and know how to value merit. I took those very fellows,
who sleep on these stones so quietly, from the hands of nature, and
made them the pride of our art. They were no longer men, but brave
lads, who ate and drank, wheeled and marched, loaded and fired, laughed
or were sorrowful, spoke or were silent, only at my will. As for soul,
there was but one among them all, and that was in my keeping! Groan, my
children, groan freely now; there is no longer a reason to be silent. I
have known a single musket-bullet cut the buttons from the coats of
five of them in a row, without raising the skin of a man. I could ever
calculate, with certainty, how many it would be necessary to expend in
all regular service, but this accursed banditti business has robbed me
of the choicest of my treasures. You 'stand at ease'
"That are not weakened by undue burthens of this nature,"
interrupted his captain, significantly; "if we let the news of this
affair reach the ears of those hungry dragoons, they would charge upon
us, open mouthed, like a pack of famished beagles, and claim at least
half the credit, and certainly all the profit."
"But, your honour, there was not a man of them even—"
"No matter, Drill; I've known troops that have been engaged, and
have suffered, cheated out of their share of victory by a well-worded
despatch. You know, fellow, that in the smoke and confusion of a
battle, a man can only see what passes near him, and common prudence
requires that he only mention in his official letters what he knows
can't be easily contradicted. Thus your Indians, and, indeed, all
allies, are not entitled to the right of a general order, any more than
to the right of a parade. Now, I dare say, you have heard of a certain
battle of Blenheim?"
"Lord! your honour, 'tis the pride of the British army, that and
the Culloden! 'Twas when the great Corporal John beat the French king,
and all his lords and nobility, with half his nation in arms to back
"Ay! there is a little of the barrack readings in the account, but
it is substantially true; know you how many French were in the field,
that day, Mister Drill?"
"I have never seen the totals of their muster, sir, in print, but
judging by the difference betwixt the nations, I should suppose some
hundreds of thousands."
"And yet, to oppose this vast army, the duke had only some ten or
twelve thousand well-fed Englishmen! You look astounded, sergeant!"
"Why, your honour, that does seem rather anover-match for an old
soldier to swallow; the random shot would sweep away so small a force."
"And yet the battle was fought, and the victory won! but the Duke
of Marlborough had a certain Mr. Eugene, with some fifty or sixty
thousand High-Dutchers, to back him. You never heard of Mr. Eugene?"
"Not a syllable, your honour; I always thought that Corporal
"Was a gallant and great general; you thought right, Mister Drill.
So would a certain nameless gentleman be also, if his majesty would
sign a commission to that effect. However, a majority is on the high
road to a regiment, and with even a regiment a man is comfortable! In
plain English, Mister Drill, we must get our prisoners into the abbey
with as little noise as possible, in order that the horse may continue
their gambols along the coast, without coming to devour our meal. All
the fuss must be made at the war-office. For that trifle you may trust
me; I think I know who holds a quill that is as good in its way as the
sword he wears. Drill is a short name, and can easily be written within
the folds of a letter."
"Lord, your honour!" said the gratified halberdier, "I'm sure such
an honour is more—but your honour can ever command me."
"I do; and it is, to be close, and to make your men keep close,
until it shall be time to speak, when, I pledge myself, there shall be
noise enough." Borroughcliffe shook his head, with a grave air, as he
continued—"It has been a devil of a bloody fight, sergeant! look at
the dead and wounded; a wood on each flank—supported by a ruin in the
centre. Oh! ink! ink! can be spilt on the details with great effect.
Go, fellow, and prepare to march."
Thus enlightened on the subject of his commander'sulterior views,
the non-commissioned agent of the captain's wishes proceeded to give
suitable instructions to the rest of the party, and to make the more
immediate preparations for a march. The arrangements were soon
completed. The bodies of the slain were left unsheltered, the seclusion
of the ruin being deemed a sufficient security against the danger of
any discovery, until darkness should favour their removal, in
conformity with Borroughcliffe's plan, to monopolize the glory. The
wounded were placed on rude litters, composed of the muskets and
blankets of the prisoners, when the conquerors and vanquished moved
together in a compact body from the ruin, in such a manner as to make
the former serve as a mask to conceal the latter from the curious gaze
of any casual passenger. There was but little, indeed, to apprehend on
this head, for the alarm and the terror consequent on the exaggerated
reports that flew through the country, effectually prevented any
intruders on the usually quiet and retired domains of St. Ruth.
The party was emerging from the wood, when the cracking of
branches, and rustling of dried leaves, announced, however, that an
interruption of some sort was about to occur.
"If it should be one of their rascally patroles!" exclaimed
Borroughcliffe, with very obvious displeasure; "they trample like a
regiment of cavalry! but, gentlemen, you will acknowledge yourselves,
that we were retiring from the field of battle when we met the
reinforcement, if it should prove to be such."
"We are not disposed, sir, to deny you the glory of having achieved
your victory single handed," said Griffith, glancing his eyes uneasily
in the direction of the approaching sounds, expecting to see the pilot
issue from the thicket in which heseemed to be entangled, instead of
any detachment of his enemies.
"Clear the way, Cæsar!" cried a voice at no great distance from
them;" "break through the accursed vines, on my right, Pompey!—press
forward, my fine fellows, or we may be too late to smell even the smoke
of the fight."
"Hum!" ejaculated the captain with his philosophic indifference of
manner entirely re-established, "this must be a Roman legion just awoke
from a trance of some seventeen centuries, and that the voice of a
Centurion. We will halt, Mister Drill, and view the manner of an
While the captain was yet speaking, a violent effort disengaged the
advancing party from the thicket of brambles in which they had been
entangled, when two blacks, each bending under a load of fire-arms,
preceded Colonel Howard into the clear space where Borroughcliffe had
halted his detachment. Some little time was necessary to enable the
veteran to arrange his disordered dress, and to remove the perspiring
effects of the unusual toil from his features, before he could observe
the addition to the captain's numbers.
"We heard you fire," cried the old soldier, making, at the same
time, the most diligent application of his bandanna, "and I determined
to aid you with a sortie, which, when judiciously timed, has been the
means of raising many a siege; though, had Montcalm rested quietly
within his walls, the plains of Abram might never have drunk his
"Oh! his decision was soldierly, and according to all the rules of
war," exclaimed Manual, "and had I followed his example, this day might
have produced a different tale!"
"Why, who have we here!" cried the colonel in astonishment; "who is
it that pretends to criticise battles and sieges, dressed in such a
"'Tis a dux incognitorum, my worthy host," said Borroughcliffe,
"which means, in our English language, a captain of marines in the
service of the American Congress."
"What! have you then met the enemy! ay! and by the fame of the
immortal Wolfe you have captured them!" cried the delighted veteran; "I
was pressing on with a part of my garrison to your assistance, for I
had seen that you were marching in this direction, and even the report
of a few muskets were heard."
"A few!" interrupted the conqueror; "I know not what you call a
few, my gallant and ancient friend; you may possibly have shot at each
other by the week in the days of Wolfe, and Abercrombie, and Braddock,
but I too have seen smart firing, and can hazard an opinion in such
matters. There was as pretty a roll made by firearms at the battles on
the Hudson, as ever rattled from a drum; it is all over, and many live
to talk of it; but this has been the most desperate affair, for the
numbers, I ever was engaged in! I speak always with a reference to the
numbers. The wood is pretty well sprinkled with dead, and we have
contrived to bring off a few of the desperately wounded with us, as you
"Bless me!" exclaimed the surprised veteran, "that such an
engagement should happen within musket shot of the Abbey, and I know so
little of it! My faculties are on the wane, I fear, for the time has
been when a single discharge would rouse me from the deepest sleep."
"The bayonet is a silent weapon," returned the composed captain,
with a significant wave of his hand; "'tis the Englishman's pride, and
"The Cacique is a man of discretion," observed the captain, with
his usual dryness of manner, "and will doubtless recollect his
obligations to posterity and himself, though he be found entangled in
the mazes of a combat. But I marvel that he does not return, for some
time has now elapsed since the schooner struck her flag, as my own eyes
"You will pardon me, gentlemen," said Griffith, advancing towards
them with uncontrollable interest; "but I have unavoidably heard part
of your discourse, and cannot think you will find it necessary to
withhold the whole truth from a disarmed captive; say you that a
schooner has been captured this morning?"
"It is assuredly true," said Borroughcliffe, with a display of
nature and delicacy in his manner that did his heart infinite credit;
"but I forbore to tell you, because I thought your own misfortunes
would be enough for one time. Mr. Griffith, this gentleman is Colonel
Howard, to whose hospitality you will be indebted for some favours
before we separate."
"Griffith!" echoed the colonel, in quick reply, "Griffith! what a
sight for my old eyes to witness!—the child of worthy, gallant, loyal
Hugh Griffith a captive, and taken in arms against his prince! Young
man, young man, what would thy honest father, what would his bosom
friend, my own poor brother Harry, have said, had it pleased God that
they had survived to witness this burning shame and lasting stigma on
thy respectable name?"
"Had my father lived, he would now have been upholding the
independence of his native land," said the young man, proudly; "I wish
to respect even the prejudices of Colonel Howard, and beg he will
forbear urging a subject on which I fear we never shall agree."like
yours," returned Griffith; "this war must soon terminate."
"This war!" echoed the Colonel, shaking loose the grasp which
Griffith held on his arm; "ay! what of this war, young man? Is it not
an accursed attempt to deny the rights of our gracious sovereign, and
to place tyrants, reared in kennels, on the throne of princes! a scheme
to elevate the wicked at the expense of the good! a project to aid
unrighteous ambition, under the mask of sacred liberty and the popular
cry of equality! as if there could be liberty without order! or
equality of rights, where the privileges of the sovereign are not as
sacred as those of the people!"
"You judge us harshly, Colonel Howard," said Griffith—
"I judge you!" interrupted the old soldier, who, by this time,
thought the youth resembled any one rather than his friend Hugh; "it is
not my province to judge you at all; if it were! but the time will
come, the time will come. I am a patient man, and can wait the course
of things; yes, yes, age cools the blood, and we learn to suppress the
passions and impatience of youth; but if the ministry would issue a
commission of justice for the colonies, and put the name of old George
Howard in it, I am a dog, if there should be a rebel alive in twelve
months. Sir," turning sternly to Borroughcliffe, "in such a cause, I
could prove a Roman, and hang—hang! yes, I do think, sir, I could hang
my kinsman, Mister Christopher Dillon!"
"Spare the Cacique such an unnatural elevation, before his time,"
returned the captain, with a grave wave of the hand; "but, sir,"
pointing towards the wood, "there is a more befitting subprudentprudent
to halt; nay, by heaven, they counter-march to the rear. Holla! Colonel
Howard, my worthy host, fall back on your reinforcements; the wood is
full of armed men; they cannot escape us; I only wait for the horse to
cut off the retreat."
The veteran, who had advanced to within a short distance of the
single man, who thus deliberately awaited the attack, halted at this
summons, and, by a glance of his eye, ascertained that he stood alone.
Believing the words of Borroughcliffe to be true, he slowly retired,
keeping his face manfully towards his enemy, until he gained the
support of the captain.
"Recall the troops, Borroughcliffe!" he cried, "and let us charge
into the wood; they will fly before his majesty's arms like guilty
scoundrels, as they are. As for the negroes, I'll teach the black
rascals to desert their master at such a moment. They say Fear is pale,
but d—e, Borroughcliffe, if I do not believe his skin is black."
"I have seen him of all colours; blue, white, black, and
party-coloured," said the captain; "I must take the command of matters
on myself, however, my excellent host; let us retire into the Abbey,
and trust me to cut off the remainder of the rebels."
In this arrangement, the colonel reluctantly acquiesced, and the
three followed the soldier to the dwelling, at a pace that was adapted
to the infirmities of its master. The excitement of the onset, and the
current of his ideas, had united, however, to banish every amicable
thought from the breast of the Colonel, and he entered the Abbey with a
resolute determination of seeing that justice was dealt to Griffith and
his companions, even though it should push them to the foot of the
As the gentlemen disappeared from his view, among the shrubbery of
the grounds, the Pilot replaced the weapon that was hanging from his
hand, in his bosom, and, turning with a saddened and thoughtful brow,
he slowly re-entered the wood.
—"When these prodigies
Do so conjointly meet, let not men say,
These are their reasons,—They are natural;
For, I believe they are portentous things
Unto the climate that they point upon."
The reader will discover, by referring to the time consumed in the
foregoing events, that the Ariel, with her prize, did not anchor in the
bay, already mentioned, until Griffith and his party, had been for
several hours in the custody of their enemies. The supposed capture of
the rebel schooner, was an incident that excited but little interest,
and no surprise, among a people who were accustomed to consider their
seamen as invincible; and Barnstable had not found it a difficult task
to practise his deception on the few rustics whom curiosity induced to
venture along-side the vessels during the short continuance of
daylight. When, however, the fogs of evening began to rise along the
narrow basin, and the curvatures of its margin were lost in the single
outline of its dark and gloomy border, the young seaman thought it time
to apply himself in earnest to his duty. The Alacrity, containing all
his own crew, together with the Ariel's wounded, was gotten silently
under way, and driving easily before the heavy air that swept from the
land, she drifted from the harbour, until the open sea lay before her,
when her sails were spread, and shetold him that he was a
'know-nothing,' and asked him if the Dutchman was a more unlikely
thing, than that there should be places where the inhabitants split the
year in two watches, and had day for six months, and night the rest of
the time, the green-horn laughed in my face, and I do believe he would
have told me I lied, but for one thing."
"And what might that be?" asked Barnstable, gravely.
"Why, sir," returned Tom, stretching his bony fingers, as he
surveyed his broad palm, by the little light that remained, "though I
am a peaceable man, I can be roused."
"And you have seen the Flying Dutchman?"
"I never doubled the east cape; though I can find my way through Le
Maire in the darkest night that ever fell from the heavens; but I have
seen them that have seen her, and spoken her too."
"Well, be it so; you must turn flying Yankee, yourself, to-night,
Master Coffin. Man your boat at once, sir, and arm your crew."
The cockswain paused a moment, before he proceeded to obey this
unexpected order, and, pointing towards the battery, he inquired, with
"For shore-work, sir? Shall we take the cut-lashes and pistols? or
shall we want the pikes?"
"There may be soldiers in our way, with their bayonets," said
Barnstable, musing; "arm as usual, but throw a few long pikes into the
boat, and harkye, Master Coffin, out with your tub and whale-line; for
I see you have rigged yourself anew in that way."
The cockswain, who was moving from the forecastle, turned short at
this new mandate, and, with an air of remonstrance, ventured to
say—and may suggest something advantageous." The gratified midshipman
swelled with the conscious pleasure of possessing his commander's
confidence, and followed to the taffrail, over which Barnstable leaned,
while he delivered the remainder of his communication. "I have gathered
from the 'long-shore-men who have come off, this evening, to stare at
the vessel which the rebels have been able to build, that a party of
seamen and marines have been captured in an old ruin near the Abbey of
St. Ruth, this very day."
"'Tis Mr. Griffith!" exclaimed the boy.
"Ay! the wit of your cousin Katherine is not necessary to discover
that. Now, I have proposed to this gentleman with the Savannah face,
that he should go into the Abbey, and negotiate an exchange. I will
give him for Griffith, and the crew of the Alacrity for Manual's
command and the Tigers."
"The Tigers!" cried the lad, with emotion; "have they got my
Tigers, too! would to God that Mr. Griffith had permitted me to land!"
"It was no boy's work they were about, and room was scarcer in
their boat than live-lumber. But this Mr. Dillon has accepted my
proposition, and has pledged himself that Griffith shall return within
an hour after he is permitted to enter the Abbey: will he redeem his
honour from the pledge?"
"He may," said Merry, musing a moment, "for I believe he thinks the
presence of Mr. Griffith under the same roof with Miss Howard, a thing
to be prevented, if possible; he may be true in this instance, though
he has a hollow look."
"He has bad-looking light-houses, I will own," said Barnstable;
"and yet he is a gentleman, and promises fair; 'tis unmanly to
suspecthim in such a matter, and I will have faith! Now listen, sir.
The absence of older heads must throw great responsibility on your
young shoulders; watch that battery as closely as if you were at the
mast-head of your frigate, on the look-out for an enemy; the instant
you see lights moving in it, cut, and run into the offing; you will
find me somewhere under the cliffs, and you will stand off and on,
keeping the Abbey in sight, until you fall in with us."
Merry gave an attentive ear to these and divers other solemn
injunctions that he received from his commander, who, having sent the
officer next to himself in authority in charge of the prize, (the third
in command being included in the list of the wounded,) was compelled to
intrust his beloved schooner to the vigilance of a lad whose years gave
no promise of the experience and skill that he actually possessed.
When his admonitory instructions were ended, Barnstable stepped
again to the opening in the cabin-hood, and for a single moment before
he spoke, once more examined the countenance of his prisoner, with a
keen eye. Dillon had removed his hands from before his sallow features,
and, as if conscious of the scrutiny his looks were to undergo, had
concentrated the whole expression of his forbidding aspect in a settled
gaze of hopeless submission to his fate. At least, so thought his
captor, and the idea touched some of the finer feelings in the bosom of
the generous young seaman. Discarding, instantly, every suspicion of
his prisoner's honour, as alike unworthy of them both, Barnstable
summoned him, in a cheerful voice, to the boat. There was a flashing of
the features of Dillon, at this call, which gave an indefinable
expression to his conntenance, that again startled the sailor; but it
was so verytransient, and could so easily be mistaken for a smile of
pleasure at his promised liberation, that the doubts it engendered
passed away almost as speedily as the equivocal expression itself.
Barnstable was in the act of following his companion into the boat,
when he felt himself detained by a slight hold of his arm.
"What would you have?" he asked of the midshipman, who had given
him the signal.
"Do not trust too much to that Dillon, sir," returned the anxious
boy, in a whisper; "if you had seen his face, as I did, when the
binnacle light fell upon it, as he came up the cabin ladder, you would
put no faith in him."
"I should have seen no beauty," said the generous lieutenant,
laughing; "now, there is long-Tom, as hard-featured a youth of two
score and ten as ever washed in brine, who has a heart as big, ay,
bigger than that of a kraaken. A bright watch to you, boy, and
remember, a keen eye on the battery." As he was yet speaking,
Barnstable crossed the gunwale of his little vessel, and it was not
until he was seated by the side of his prisoner, that he continued,
aloud—"Cast the stops off your sails, Mr. Merry, and see all clear, to
make a run of every thing; recollect, you are short-handed, sir. God
bless ye! and d'ye hear? if there is a man among you who shuts more
than one eye at a time, I'll make him, when I get back, open both wider
than if Tom Coffin's friend, the Flying Dutchman, was booming down upon
him. God bless ye, Merry, my boy; give 'em the square-sail, if this
breeze off-shore holds on till morning; shove off."
As Barnstable gave the last order, he fell back on his seat, and,
drawing his boat-cloak around him, maintained a profound silence, until
they had passed the two small headlands that formed the mouth of the
harbour. The men pulled, with muffled oars, their long, vigorous
strokes, and the boat glided, with amazing rapidity, by the objects
that could be yet indistinctly seen along the dim shore. When, however,
they had gained the open ocean, and the direction of their little bark
was changed to one that led them in a line with the coast, and within
the shadows of the cliffs, the cockswain, deeming that the silence was
no longer necessary to their safety, ventured to break it, as follows—
"A square-sail is a good sail to carry on a craft, dead afore it,
and in a heavy sea; but if fifty years can teach a man to know the
weather, it's my judgment that if the Ariel breaks ground after the
night turns at eight bells, she'll need her main-sail to hold her up to
The lieutenant started at this sudden interruption to his musing,
and casting his cloak from his shoulders, he looked abroad on the
waters, as if seeking those portentous omens which disturbed the
imagination of his cockswain.
"How now, Tom," he said, sharply, "have ye turned croaker in your
old age? what see you, to cause such an old woman's ditty!"
"'Tis no song of an old woman," returned the cockswain, with solemn
earnestness, "but the warning of an old man; and one who has spent his
days where there were no hills to prevent the winds of heaven from
blowing on him, unless they were hills of salt water and foam. I judge,
sir, there'll be a heavy north-easter setting in upon us afore the
morning watch is called."
Barnstable knew the experience of his old messmate too well, to
feel no uneasiness at such an opinion, delivered in so portentous a
manner; but after again surveying the horizon, the heavens, and
theocean, he said, with a continued severity of manner—
"Your prophecy is idle, this time, Master Coffin; every thing looks
like a dead calm. This swell is what is left from the last blow; the
mist over-head is nothing but the nightly fog, and you can see, with
your own eyes, that it is driving seaward; even this land-breeze is
nothing but the air of the ground mixing with that of the ocean; it is
heavy with dew and fog, but it's as sluggish as a Dutch galliot."
"Ay, sir, it is damp, and there is little of it," rejoined Tom;
"but as it comes only from the shore, so it never goes far on the
water. It is hard to learn the true signs of the weather, Captain
Barnstable, and none get to know them well, but such as study little
else, or feel but little else. There is only One who can see the winds
of heaven, or who can tell when a hurricane is to begin, or where it
will end. Still, a man isn't like a whale or a porpoise, that takes the
air in his nostrils, but never knows whether it is a south-easter or a
north-wester that he feeds upon. Look, broad-off to leeward, sir; see
the streak of clear sky shining under the mists; take an old sea-faring
man's word for it, Captain Barnstable, that whenever the light shines
out of the heavens in that way, 'tis never done for nothing; besides,
the sun set in a dark bank of clouds, and the little moon we had was
dry and windy."
Barnstable listened attentively, and with increasing concern, for
he well knew that his cockswain possessed a quick and almost unerring
judgment of the weather, notwithstanding the confused medley of
superstitious omens and signs with which it was blended; but, again
throwing himself back in his boat, he muttered—
"Then let it blow; Griffith is worth a heavier risk, and if the
battery can't be cheated, it can be carried."
Nothing further passed on the state of the weather. Dillon had not
ventured a single remark since he entered the boat, and the cockswain
had the discretion to understand that his officer was willing to be
left to his own thoughts. For near an hour they pursued their way with
diligence, the sinewy seamen, who wielded the oars, urging their light
boat along the edge of the surf with unabated velocity, and,
apparently, with untired exertions. Occasionally, Barnstable would cast
an inquiring glance at the little inlets that they passed, or would
note, with a seaman's eye, the small portions of sandy beach that were
scattered here and there along the rocky boundaries of the coast. One,
in particular, a deeper inlet than common, where a run of fresh water
was heard gurgling as it met the tide, he pointed out to his cockswain,
by significant, but silent gestures, as a place to be especially noted.
Tom, who understood the signal as intended for his own eye alone, made
his observations on the spot, with equal taciturnity, but with all the
minuteness that would distinguish one long accustomed to find his way,
whether by land or water, by land-marks, and the bearings of different
objects. Soon after this silent communication between the lieutenant
and his cockswain, the boat was suddenly turned, and was in the act of
dashing upon the spit of sand before it, when Barnstable checked the
movement by his voice—
"Hold water!" he said; "'tis the sound of oars!"
The seamen held their boat at rest, while a deep attention was
given to the noise that had alarmed the ears of their commander.
"See, sir," said the cockswain, pointing towards the eastern
horizon; "it is just rising into the streak of light to seaward of
us—now it settles in the trough—ah! here you have it again!"
"By heavens!" cried Barnstable, "'tis a man-of-war's stroke it
pulls; I saw its oar-blades as they fell! and, listen to the sound!
neither your fisherman nor your smuggler pulls such a regular oar."
Tom had bowed his head nearly to the water, in the act of
listening, and now, raising himself, he spoke with confidence—
"That is the Tiger; I know the stroke of her crew as well as I do
of my own. Mr. Merry has made them learn the new-fashioned jerk, as
they dip their blades, and they feather with such a roll in their
rullocks! I could swear to the stroke."
"Hand me the night-glass," said his commander, impatiently; "I can
catch them, as they are lifted into the streak. You are right, by every
star in our flag, Tom!—but there is only one man in her stern-sheets.
By my good eyes, I believe it is that accursed Pilot, sneaking from the
land, and leaving Griffith and Manual to die in English prisons. To
shore with you—beach her at once."
The order was no sooner given, than it was obeyed, and in less than
two minutes, the impatient Barnstable, Dillon, and the cockswain, were
standing together on the sands.
The impression he had received, that his friends were abandoned to
their fate by the Pilot, urged the generous young seaman to hasten the
departure of his prisoner, as he was fearful every moment might
interpose some new obstacle to the success of his plans.
"Mr. Dillon," he said, the instant they were landed, "I exact no
new promise—your honour is already plighted"—
"If oaths can make it stronger," interrupted Dillon, "I will take
"Oaths cannot—the honour of a gentleman is, at all times, enough.
I shall send my cockswain with you to the Abbey, and you will either
return with him, in person, within two hours, or give Mr. Griffith and
Captain Manual to his guidance. Proceed, sir; you are conditionally
free; there is an easy opening by which to ascend the cliffs."
Dillon, once more, thanked his generous captor, and then proceeded
to force his way up the rough eminence.
"Follow, and obey his instructions," said Barnstable to his
Tom, long accustomed to implicit obedience, handled his harpoon,
and was quietly following in the footsteps of his new leader, when he
felt the hand of the lieutenant on his shoulder.
"You saw where the brook emptied over the hillock of sand?" said
Barnstable, in an under tone.
Tom nodded assent.
"You will find us there, riding without the surf—'twill not do to
trust too much to an enemy."
The cockswain made a gesture of great significance with his weapon,
that was intended to indicate the danger their prisoner would incur,
should he prove false; and, applying the wooden end of the harpoon to
the rocks, he ascended the ravine at a rate that soon brought him to
the side of his companion.
"Ay, marry, let me have him to sit under:
He's like to be a cold soldier."
Barnstable lingered on the sands for a few minutes, until the
footsteps of Dillon and the cockswain were no longer audible, when he
ordered his men to launch their boat once more into the surf. While the
seamen pulled leisurely towards the place he had designated, as the
point where he would await the return of Tom, the lieutenant first
began to entertain serious apprehensions concerning the good faith of
his prisoner. Now, that Dillon was beyond his control, his imagination
presented, in very vivid colours, several little circumstances in the
other's conduct, which might readily excuse some doubts of his good
faith, and, by the time they had reached the place of rendezvous, and
had cast a light grapnel into the sea, his fears had rendered him
excessively uncomfortable. Leaving the lieutenant to his reflections,
on this unpleasant subject, we shall follow Dillon and his fearless and
unsuspecting companion, in their progress towards St. Ruth.
The mists, to which Tom had alluded, in his discussion of the state
of the weather with his commander, appeared to be settling nearer to
the earth, and assuming, more decidedly, the appearanceof a fog,
hanging above them, in sluggish volumes, but little agitated by the
air. The consequent obscurity added deeply to the gloom of the night,
and it would have been difficult for one, less acquainted than Dillon
with the surrounding localities, to have found the path which led to
the dwelling of Colonel Howard. After some little search, this
desirable object was effected, and the civilian led the way, with rapid
strides, towards the Abbey.
"Ay, ay!" said Tom, who followed his steps, and equalled his paces,
without any apparent effort, "you shore-people have an easy way to find
your course and distance, when you get into the track. I was once left
by the craft I belonged to, in Boston, to find my way to Plymouth,
which is a matter of fifteen leagues, or thereaway; and, so finding
nothing was bound up the bay, after lying-by for a week, I concluded to
haul aboard my land tacks. I spent the better part of another week in a
search for some hooker, on board which I might work my passage across
the country, for money was as scarce then with old Tom Coffin as it is
now, and is likely to be, unless the fisheries get a good luff soon;
but it seems that nothing but your horse-flesh, and horned cattle, and
jack-asses, are privileged to do the pulling and hauling in your
shore-hookers; and I was forced to pay a week's wages for a birth,
besides keeping a banyan on a mouthful of bread and cheese, from the
time we hove-up in Boston, 'till we came-to in Plymouth town."
"It was certainly an unreasonable exaction, on the part of the
stage-owners, from a man in your situation," said Dillon, in a
friendly, soothing tone of voice, that denoted a willingness to pursue
"My situation was that of a cabin passenger," returned the
cockswain; "for there was but one hand forward, beside the cattle I
mentioned—that was he who steered—and an easy birth he had of it; for
there his course lay a-tween walls of stone, and fences; and, as for
his reckoning, why, they had stuck up bits of stone on-end, with his
day's work footed up, ready to his hand, every half league or so.
Besides, the land-marks were so plenty, that a man, with half-an-eye,
might steer her, and no fear of getting to leeward."
"You must have found yourself, as it were, in a new world,"
"Why, to me, it was pretty much the same as if I had been set
afloat in a strange country, though I may be said to be a native of
those parts, being born on the coast. I had often heard shore-men say,
that there was as much 'arth as water in the world, which I always set
down as a rank lie, for I've sailed with a flowing sheet months an-end,
without falling in with as much land or rock as would answer a gull to
lay its eggs on; but I will own, that a-tween Boston and Plymouth, we
were out-of-sight of water for as much as two full watches."
Dillon pursued this interesting subject with great diligence, and,
by the time they reached the wall, which enclosed the large paddock
that surrounded the Abbey, the cockswain was deeply involved in a
discussion of the comparative magnitude of the Atlantic Ocean and the
Continent of America.
Avoiding the principal entrance to the building, through the great
gates which communicated with the court in front, Dillon followed the
windings of the wall until it led them to a wicket, which he knew was
seldom closed for the night, until the hour for general rest had
arrived. Theirway now lay in the rear of the principal edifice, and
soon conducted them to the confused pile which contained the offices.
The cockswain followed his companion, with a confiding reliance on his
knowledge and good faith, that was a good deal increased by the freedom
of communication that had been maintained during their walk from the
cliffs. He did not perceive any thing extraordinary in the other's
stopping at the room, which had been provided as a sort of barracks for
the soldiers of Captain Borroughcliffe. A conference which took place
between Dillon and the sergeant, was soon ended, when the former
beckoned to the cockswain to follow, and, taking a circuit round the
whole of the offices, they entered the Abbey together, by the door
through which the ladies had issued, when in quest of the three
prisoners, as has been already related. After a turn or two among the
narrow passages of that part of the edifice, Tom, whose faith in the
facilities of land navigation began to be a little shaken, found
himself following his guide through a long, dark gallery, that was
terminated at the end to which they were approaching, by a half-open
door, that admitted a glimpse into a well-lighted and comfortable
apartment. To this door, Dillon hastily advanced, and, throwing it
open, the cockswain enjoyed a full view of the very scene that we
described, in introducing Col. Howard to the acquaintance of the
reader, and under circumstances of great similitude. The cheerful fire
of coal, the strong and glaring lights, the tables of polished
mahogany, and the blushing fluids, were still the same in appearance,
while the only perceptible change was in the number of those, who
partook of the cheer. The master of the mansion, and Borroughcliffe,
were seated opposite to each other, employed indiscussing the events of
the day, and diligently pushing to and fro the glittering vessel, that
contained a portion of the generous liquor they both loved so well; a
task which each moment rendered lighter.
"If Kit would but return," exclaimed the veteran, whose back was to
the opening door, "bringing with him his honest brows encircled, as
they will be, or ought to be, with laurel, I should be the happiest old
fool, Borroughcliffe, in his majesty's realm of Great Britain!"
The captain, who felt the necessity for the unnatural restraint he
had imposed on his thirst, to be removed by the capture of his enemies,
pointed towards the door with one hand, while he grasped the sparkling
reservoir of the "south side" with the other, and answered—
"Lo! the Cacique himself! his brow inviting the diadem—ha! who
have we in his highness' train? By the Lord, sir Cacique, if you travel
with a body guard of such grenadiers, old Frederic of Prussia himself
will have occasion to envy you the corps! a clear six-footer in
nature's stockings! and the arms as unique as the armed!"
The colonel did not, however, attend to half of his companion's
exclamations, but turning, he beheld the individual he had so much
desired, and received him with a delight proportioned to the
unexpectedness of the pleasure. For several minutes, Dillon was
compelled to listen to the rapid questions of his venerable relative,
to all of which he answered with a prudent reserve, that might, in some
measure, have been governed by the presence of the cockswain. Tom stood
with infinite composure, leaning on his harpoon, and surveying, with a
countenance where wonder was singularly blended with contempt, the
furniture and arrangements of an apartment that was farmore splendid
than any he had before seen. In the mean time, Borroughcliffe entirely
disregarded the private communications that passed between his host and
Dillon, which gradually became more deeply interesting, and finally
drew them to a distant corner of the apartment, but taking a most undue
advantage of the absence of the gentleman, who had so lately been his
boon companion, he swallowed one potation after another, as if a double
duty had devolved on him, in consequence of the desertion of the
veteran. Whenever his eye did wander from the ruby tints of his glass,
it was to survey, with unrepressed admiration, the inches of the
cockswain, about whose stature and frame there were numberless
excellent points to attract the gaze of a recruiting officer. From this
double pleasure, the captain was, however, at last summoned, to
participate in the councils of his friends.
Dillon was spared the disagreeable duty of repeating the artful
tale he had found it necessary to palm on the colonel, by the ardour of
the veteran himself, who executed the task in a manner that gave to the
treachery of his kinsman, every appearance of a justifiable artifice
and of unshaken zeal in the cause of his prince. In substance, Tom was
to be detained as a prisoner, and the party of Barnstable were to be
entrapped, and of course to share a similar fate. The sunken eye of
Dillon cowered before the steady gaze which Borroughcliffe fastened on
him, as the latter listened to the plaudits the colonel lavished on his
cousin's ingenuity; but the hesitation that lingered in the soldier's
manner vanished, when he turned to examine their unsuspecting prisoner,
who was continuing his survey of the apartment, while he innocently
imagined the consultations he witnessedwere merely the proper and
preparatory-steps to his admission to the presence of Mr. Griffith.
"Drill," said Borroughcliffe, aloud, "advance and receive your
orders." The cockswain turned quickly, at this sudden mandate, and, for
the first time, perceived that he had been followed into the gallery by
the orderly, and two files of the recruits, armed. "Take this man to
the guard-room, and feed him; and see that he dies not of thirst."
There was nothing alarming in this order, and Tom was following the
soldiers, in obedience to a gesture from the captain, when their steps
were arrested in the gallery, by the cry of "Halt."
"On recollection, Drill," said Borroughcliffe, in a tone from which
all dictatorial sounds were banished, "show the gentleman into my own
room, and see him properly supplied."
The orderly gave such an intimation of his comprehending the
meaning of his officer, as the latter was accustomed to receive, when
Borroughcliffe returned to his bottle, and the cockswain followed his
guide, with an alacrity and good will that were not a little increased
by the repeated mention of the cheer that awaited him.
Luckily for the impatience of Tom, the quarters of the captain were
at hand, and the promised entertainment by no means slow in making its
appearance. The former was an apartment that opened from a lesser
gallery, which communicated with the principal one already mentioned;
and the latter was a bountiful but ungarnished supply of that staple of
the British isles, called roast beef; of which the kitchen of Colonel
Howard was never without a due and loyal provision. The sergeant, who
certainly understood one of the signs of his captain to imply an attack
on the citadel of the cockswain's brain, mingled, with his own hands, a
potation, that he styled a rummer of grog, and which he thought would
have felled the animal itself that Tom was so diligently masticating,
had it been alive, and in its vigour. Every calculation that was made
on the infirmity of the cockswain's intellect, under the stimulus of
Jamaica, was, however, futile. He swallowed glass after glass, with
prodigious relish, but, at the same time, with immoveable steadiness;
and the eyes of the sergeant, who felt it incumbent to do honour to his
own cheer, were already glistening in his head, when, happily for the
credit of his art, a tap at the door announced the presence of his
captain, and relieved him from the impending disgrace of being drunk
blind by a recruit.
As Borroughcliffe entered the apartment, he commanded his orderly
to retire, adding—
"Mr. Dillon will give you instructions, which you are implicitly to
Drill, who had sense enough remaining to apprehend the displeasure
of his officer, should the latter discover his condition, quickened his
departure, and the cockswain soon found himself alone with the captain.
The vigour of Tom's attacks on the remnants of the sirloin was now much
abated, leaving in its place that placid quiet which is apt to linger
about the palate, long after the cravings of the appetite have been
appeased. He had seated himself on one of the trunks of Borroughcliffe,
utterly disdaining the use of a chair, and, with the trencher in his
lap, was using his own jack-knife on the dilapidated fragment of the
ox, with something of that nicety with which the female goule, of the
Arabian Tales, might be supposed to pick her rice with the point of her
bodkin. The captain drew a seat nigh the cockswain, and, with a
familiarity and kindness infinitely coftdescending, when the difference
in their several conditions is considered, he commenced the following
"I hope you have found your entertainment to your liking, Mr.—I
must own my ignorance of your name."
"Tom," said the cockswain, keeping his eyes roaming over the
contents of the trencher; "commonly called long-Tom, by my shipmates."
"You have sailed with discreet men, and able navigators, it would
seem, as they understand longitude so well," rejoined the captain; "but
you have a patronymick—I would say, another name?"
"Coffin," returned the cockswain; "I'm called Tom, when there is
any hurry, such as letting go the haulyards, or a sheet; long-Tom, when
they want to get to windward of an old seaman, by fair weather; and
long-Tom Coffin, when they wish to hail me, so that none of my cousins
of the same name, about the islands, shall answer; for I believe the
best man among them can't measure much over a fathom, taking him from
his head-works to his heel."
"You are a most deserving fellow," cried Borroughcliffe, "and it is
painful to think to what a fate the treachery of Mr. Dillon has
The suspicions of Tom, if he ever entertained any, were lulled to
rest too effectually by the kindness he had received, to be awakened by
this equivocal lament; he, therefore, after renewing his intimacy with
the rummer, contented himself by saying, with a satisfied simplicity—
"I am consigned to no one, carrying no cargo but this Mr. Dillon,
who is to give me Mr. Griffith in exchange, or to go back to the Ariel
himself, as my prisoner."
"Ah! my good friend, I fear you will find, when the time comes to
make this exchange, that he will refuse to do either."
"But I'll be d—d if he don't do one of them; my orders are to see
it done, and back he goes; or Mr. Griffith, who is as good a seaman,
for his years, as ever trod a deck, slips his cable from this here
Borroughcliffe affected to eye his companion with great
commiseration; an exhibition of compassion that was, however,
completely lost on the cockswain, whose nerves were strung to their
happiest tension, by his repeated libations, while his wit was, if any
thing, quickened by the same cause, though his own want of guile
rendered him slow to comprehend its existence in others. Perceiving it
necessary to speak plainly, the captain renewed the attack in a more
"I am sorry to say that you will not be permitted to return to the
Ariel, and that your commander, Mr. Barnstable, will be a prisoner
within the hour; and in fact, that your schooner will be taken, before
the morning breaks."
"Who'll take her?" asked the cockswain, with a grim smile, on whose
feelings, however, this combination of threatened calamities was
beginning to make some impression.
"You must remember, that she lies immediately under the heavy guns
of a battery that can sink her in a few minutes; an express has already
been sent to acquaint the commander of the work with the Ariel's true
character; and as the wind has already begun to blow from the ocean,
her escape is impossible."
The truth, together with its portentous consequences, now began to
glare across the faculties of the cockswain. He remembered his own
prognosticson the weather, and the helpless situation of the schooner,
deprived of more than half her crew, and left to the keeping of a boy,
while her commander himself was on the eve of captivity. The trencher
fell from his lap to the floor, his head sunk on his knees, his face
was concealed between his broad palms, and in spite of every effort the
old seaman could make to conceal his emotion, he fairly groaned aloud.
For a moment, the better feelings of Borroughcliffe prevailed, and
he paused, as he witnessed this exhibition of suffering in one whose
head was already sprinkled with the marks of time; but his habits, and
the impressions left by many years passed in collecting victims for the
wars, soon resumed their ascendancy, and the recruiting officer
diligently addressed himself to an improvement of his advantage.
"I pity, from my heart, the poor lads whom artifice or mistaken
notions of duty may have led astray, and who will thus be taken in arms
against their sovereign; but, as they are found in the very island of
Britain, they must be made examples to deter others. I fear, that
unless they can make their peace with government, they will all be
condemned to death."
"Let them make their peace with God, then; your government can do
but little to clear the log-account of a man whose watch is up for this
"But, by making their peace with those who have the power, their
lives may be spared," said the captain, watching, with keen eyes, the
effect his words produced on the cockswain.
"It matters but little when a man hears the messenger pipe his
hammock down for the last time; he keeps his watch in another world,
though he does not here. But to see wood and iron, that has been put
together after such moulds as the Ariel's, go into strange hands, is a
blow that a man may remember long after the purser's books have been
squared against his name for ever. I would rather that twenty shot
should strike my old carcass, than one should hull the schooner that
didn't pass out above her water-line."
Borroughcliffe replied, somewhat carelessly, "I may be mistaken,
after all; and, instead of putting any of you to death, they may place
you all on board the prison-ships, where you may yet have a merry time
of it, these ten or fifteen years to come."
"How's that, shipmate!" cried the cockswain, with a start; "a
prison-ship, d'ye say? you may tell them that they can save the expense
of one man's rations, by shooting him, if they please, and that is old
"There is no answering for their caprice; to-day, they may order a
dozen of you shot for rebels; to-morrow they may choose to consider you
as prisoners of war, and send you to the hulks for a dozen years."
"Tell them, brother, that I'm a rebel, will ye? and ye'll tell 'em
no lie—one that has fout them since Manly's time, in Boston bay, to
this hour. I hope the boy will blow her up! it would be the death of
poor Richard Barnstable, to see her in the hands of the English!"
"I know of one way," said Borroughcliffe, affecting to muse, "and
but one, that will certainly avert the prison-ship; for, on second
thoughts, they will hardly put you to death."
"Name it, friend," cried the cockswain, rising from his seat in
evident perturbation, "and if it lies in the power of man, it shall be
"Nay," said the captain, dropping his hand familiarly on the
shoulder of the other, who listened with the most eager attention,
"'tis easily done, and no dreadful thing in itself; you are used to
gun-powder, and know its smell from otto of roses?"
"Ay, ay," cried the impatient old seaman; "I have had it flashing
under my nose by the hour; what then?"
"Why, then, what I have to propose will be nothing to a man like
you—you found the beef wholesome, and the grog mellow?"
"Ay, ay, all well enough; but what is that to an old sailor?" asked
the cockswain, unconsciously grasping the collar of Borroughcliffe's
coat, in his agitation; "what then?"
The captain manifested no displeasure at this unexpected
familiarity, but smiled, with suavity, as he unmasked the battery, from
behind which he had hitherto carried on his attacks.
"Why, then, you have only to serve your King, as you have before
served the Congress— and let me be the man to show you your colours."
The cockswain stared at the speaker intently, but it was evident he
did not clearly comprehend the nature of the proposition, and the
captain pursued the subject—
"In plain English, enlist in my company, my fine fellow," he added,
"and your life and liberty are both safe."
Tom did not laugh aloud, for that was a burst of feeling in which
he was seldom known to indulge, but every feature of his weather-beaten
visage contracted into an expression of bitter, ironical contempt.
Borroughcliffe felt the iron fingers, that still grasped his collar,
gradually tightening about his throat, like a vice, and, as thearm
slowly contracted, his body was drawn, by a power that it was in vain
to resist, close to that of the cockswain, who, when their faces were
within a foot of each other, gave vent to his emotions in words:—
"A messmate, before a shipmate; a shipmate, before a stranger; a
stranger, before a dog; but a dog before a soldier!"
As Tom concluded, his nervous arm was suddenly extended to the
utmost, the fingers relinquishing their grasp at the same time, and,
when Borroughcliffe recovered his disordered faculties, he found
himself in a distant corner of the apartment, prostrate among a
confused pile of chairs, tables, and wearing apparel. In endeavouring
to rise from this humble posture, the hand of the captain fell on the
hilt of his sword, which had been included in the confused assemblage
of articles produced by his overthrow.
"How now, scoundrel!" he cried, baring the glittering weapon, and
springing on his feet; "you must be taught your distance, I perceive."
The cockswain seized the harpoon which leaned against the wall, and
dropped its barbed extremity within a foot of the breast of his
assailant, with an expression of the eye that denoted the danger of a
nearer approach. The captain, however, wanted not for courage, and,
stung to the quick by the insult he had received, he made a desperate
parry, and attempted to pass within the point of the novel weapon of
his adversary. The slight shock was followed by a sweeping whirl of the
harpoon, and Borroughcliffe found himself without arms, completely at
the mercy of his foe. The bloody intentions of Tom vanished with his
success; for, laying aside his weapon, he advanced upon his antagonist,
and seized him with an open palm. One more struggle, inwhich the
captain discovered his incompetency to make any defence against the
strength of a man who managed him as if he had been a child, decided
the matter. When the captain was passive in the hands of his foe, the
cockswain produced sundry pieces of sennit, marline, and ratlin-stuff,
from pockets, which appeared to contain as great a variety of small
cordage as a boatswain's store-room, and proceeded to lash the arms of
the conquered to the posts of his bed, with a coolness that had not
been disturbed since the commencement of hostilities, a silence that
seemed inflexible, and a dexterity that none but a seaman could equal.
When this part of his plan was executed, Tom paused a moment, and gazed
around him as if in quest of something. The naked sword caught his eye,
and, with this weapon in his hand, he deliberately approached his
captive, whose alarm prevented his discovering, that the cockswain had
snapped the blade asunder from the handle, and that he had already
encircled the latter with marline.
"For God's sake," exclaimed Borroughcliffe, "murder me not in cold
The silver hilt entered his mouth as the words issued from it, and
the captain found, while the line was passed and repassed, in repeated
involutions across the back of his neck, that he was in a condition to
which he often subjected his own men, when unruly, and which is
universally called, being 'gagged.' The cockswain now appeared to think
himself entitled to all the privileges of a conqueror; for, taking the
light in his hand, he commenced a scrutiny into the nature and quality
of the worldly effects that lay at his mercy. Sundry articles, that
belonged to the equipments of a soldier, were examined, and cast aside,
with great contempt, and divers garments of plainerexterior, were
rejected as unsuited to the frame of the victor. He, however, soon
encountered two articles, of a metal that is well understood by all.
But the uncertainty as to their use appeared greatly to embarrass him.
The circular prongs of these curiosities were applied to either hand,
to the wrists, and even to the nose, and the little wheels, at their
opposite extremity, were turned and examined with as much curiosity and
care, as a savage would expend on a watch, until the idea seemed to
cross the mind of the honest seaman, that they formed part of the
useless trappings of a military man, and he cast them aside, also, as
utterly worthless. Borroughcliffe, who watched every movement of his
conqueror, with a good humour that would have restored perfect harmony
between them, could he but have expressed half what he felt, witnessed
the safety of a favourite pair of spurs, with much pleasure, though
nearly suffocated, by mirth that was unnaturally repressed. At length,
the cockswain found a pair of handsomely mounted pistols, a sort of
weapon, with which he seemed quite familiar. They were loaded, and the
knowledge of that fact appeared to remind Tom of the necessity of
departing, by bringing to his recollection the danger of his commander
and the Ariel. He thrust the weapons into the canvass belt that
encircled his body, and, grasping his harpoon, approached the bed,
where Borroughcliffe was seated in duresse.
"Harkye, friend," said the cockswain, "may the Lord forgive you, as
I do, for wishing to make a soldier of a sea-faring man, and one who
has followed the waters since he was an hour old, and one who hopes to
die off soundings, and to be buried in brine. I wish you no harm,
friend, but you'll have to keep a stopper on your conversation 'till
such time as some of your messmatescall this way, which I hope will be
as soon after I get an offing as may be."
With these amicable wishes, the cockswain departed, leaving
Borroughcliffe the light, and the undisturbed possession of his
apartment, though not in the most easy or the most enviable situation
imaginable. The captain heard the bolt of his lock turn, and the key
rattle as the cockswain withdrew it from the door—two precautionary
steps, that clearly indicated that the vanquisher deemed it prudent to
secure his retreat, by insuring the detention of the vanquished, for at
least a time.
"Whilst Vengeance, in the lurid air,
Lifts her red arm, expos'd and bare:—
Who, Fear, this ghastly train can see,
And look not madly wild, like thee?"
It is certain that Tom Coffin had devised no settled plan of
operations, when he issued from the apartment of Borroughcliffe, if we
except a most resolute determination to make the best of his way to the
Ariel, and to share her fate, let it be either to sink or swim. But
this was a resolution much easier formed by the honest seaman, than
executed, in his present situation. He would have found it less
difficult to extricate a vessel from the dangerous shoals of the
"Devil's-Grip," than to thread the mazes of the labyrinth of passages,
galleries, and apartments, in which he found himself involved. He
remembered, as he expressed it to himself, in a low soliloquy, "to have
run into a narrow passage from the main channel, but whether he had
sheered to the starboard or larboard hand," was a material fact, that
had entirely escaped his memory. Tom was in that part of the building
that Colonel Howard had designated as the "cloisters," and in which,
luckily for him, he was but little liable to encounter any foe; the
room occupied byBorroughcliffe being the only one in the entire wing,
that was not exclusively devoted to the service of the ladies. The
circumstance of the soldier's being permitted to invade this sanctuary,
was owing to the necessity, on the part of Colonel Howard, of placing
either Griffith, Manual, or the recruiting officer, in the vicinity of
his wards, or of subjecting his prisoners to a treatment that the
veteran would have thought unworthy of his name and character. This
recent change in the quarters of Borroughcliffe operated doubly to the
advantage of Tom, by lessening the chance of the speedy release of his
uneasy captive, as well as by diminishing his own danger. Of the former
circumstance he was, however, not aware, and the consideration of the
latter was a sort of reflection to which the cockswain was, in no
Following, necessarily, the line of the wall, he soon emerged from
the dark and narrow passage in which he had first found himself, and
entered the principal gallery, that communicated with all the lower
apartments of that wing, as well as with the main body of the edifice.
An open door, through which a strong light was glaring, at a distant
end of this gallery, instantly caught his eye, and the old seaman had
not advanced many steps towards it, before he discovered that he was
approaching the very room which had so much excited his curiosity, and
by the identical passage through which he had entered the Abbey. To
turn, and retrace his steps, was the most obvious course, for any man
to take, who felt anxious to escape; but the sounds of high
conviviality, bursting from the cheerful apartment, among which the
cockswain thought he distinguished the name of Griffith, determined Tom
to advance and reconnoitre the scene more closely. The reader will
anticipate that when he paused in the shadow, the doubting old seaman
stood once more near that threshold which he had so lately crossed,
when conducted to the room of Borroughcliffe. The seat of that
gentleman was now occupied by Dillon, and Colonel Howard had resumed
his wonted station at the foot of the table. The noise was chiefly made
by the latter, who had evidently been enjoying a more minute relation
of the means by which his kinsman had entrapped his unwary enemy.
"A noble ruse!" cried the veteran, as Tom assumed his post, in
ambush; "a most noble and ingenious ruse, and such a one as would have
baffled Cæsar! he must have been a cunning dog, that Cæsar; but I do
think, Kit, you would have been too much for him; hang me, if I don't
think you would have puzzled Wolfe himself, had you held Quebec,
instead of Montcalm! Ah! boy, we want you in the colonies, with the
ermine over your shoulders; such men as you, cousin Christopher, are
sadly, sadly wanting there to defend his majesty's rights."
"Indeed, dear sir, your partiality gives me credit for qualities I
do not possess," said Dillon, dropping his eyes, perhaps with a feeling
of conscious unworthiness, but with an air of much humility; "the
little justifiable artifice—"
"Ay! there lies the beauty of the transaction," interrupted the
colonel, shoving the bottle from him, with the free, open air of a man
who never harboured disguise; "you told no lie; no mean deception, that
any dog, however base and unworthy, might invent; but you practised a
neat, a military, a—a—yes, a classical deception on your enemy; a
classical deception, that is the very term for it! such a deception as
Pompey, or Mark Antony, or—or—you know those oldfellows' names better
than I do, Kit; but name the cleverest fellow that ever lived in Greece
or Rome, and I shall say he is a dunce, compared to you. 'Twas a real
Spartan trick, both simple and honest."
It was extremely fortunate for Dillon, that the animation of his
aged kinsman kept his head and body in such constant motion, during
this apostrophe, as to intercept the aim that the cockswain was
deliberately taking at his head, with one of Borroughcliffe's pistols;
and perhaps the sense of shame, which induced him to sink his face on
his two hands, was another means of saving his life, by giving the
indignant old seaman time for reflection.
"But you have not spoken of the ladies," said Dillon, after a
moment's pause; "I should hope, they have borne the alarm of the day
like kinswomen of the family of Howard."
The colonel glanced his eyes around him, as if to assure himself
they were alone, and dropped his voice, as he answered—
"Ah! Kit, they have come to, since this rebel scoundrel, Griffith,
has been brought into the Abbey; we were favoured with the company of
even Miss Howard, in the dining-room, to-day. There was a good deal of
'dear uncleing,' and 'fears that my life might be exposed by the
quarrels and skirmishes of these desperadoes who have landed;' as if an
old fellow, who served through the whole war, from '56 to '63, was
afraid to let his nose smell gunpowder, any more than if it were snuff!
But it will be a hard matter to wheedle an old soldier out of his
allegiance! This Griffith goes to the Tower, at least, Mr. Dillon."
"It would be advisable to commit his person to the civil authority,
"To the constable of the Tower, the Earl Cornwallis, a good and
loyal nobleman, who is, at this moment, fighting the rebels in my own
native province, Christopher," interrupted the colonel; "that will be
what I call retributive justice; but," continued the veteran, rising
with an air of gentlemanly dignity, "it will not do to permit even the
constable of the Tower of London, to surpass the master of St. Ruth, in
hospitality and kindness to his prisoners. I have ordered suitable
refreshments to their apartments, and it is incumbent on me to see that
my commands have been properly obeyed. Arrangements must also be made
for the reception of this Captain Barnstable, who will, doubtless, soon
"Within the hour, at farthest," said Dillon, looking uneasily at
"We must be stirring, boy," continued the colonel, moving towards
the door that led to the apartments of his prisoners; "but there is a
courtesy due to the ladies, as well as to these unfortunate violators
of the laws—go, Christopher, convey my kindest wishes to Cecilia; she
don't deserve them, the obstinate vixen, but then she is my brother
Harry's child! and while there, you arch dog, plead your own cause.
Mark Antony was a fool to you at a 'ruse,' and yet Mark was one of your
successful suitors, too; there was that Queen of the Pyramids—"
The door closed on the excited veteran, at these words, and Dillon
was left standing by himself, at the side of the table, musing, as if
in doubt, whether to venture on the step that his kinsman had proposed,
The greater part of the preceding discourse was unintelligible to
the cockswain, who had waited its termination with extraordinary
patience, in hopes he might obtain some informationthat he could render
of service to the captive officers. Before he had time to decide on
what was now best for him to do, Dillon, suddenly, determined to
venture himself in the cloisters; and, swallowing a couple of glasses
of wine in a breath, he passed the hesitating cockswain, who was
concealed by the opening door, so closely as to brush his person, and
moved down the gallery with those rapid strides, which men, who act
under the impulse of forced resolutions, are very apt to assume, as if
to conceal their weakness from themselves. Tom hesitated no longer,
but, aiding the impulse given to the door by Dillon as he passed, so as
to darken the passage, he followed the sounds of the other's footsteps,
while he trod, in the manner already described, the stone pavement of
the gallery. Dillon paused an instant at the turning that led to the
room of Borroughcliffe, but whether irresolute which way to urge his
steps, or listening to the incautious and heavy treads of the
cockswain, is not known; if the latter, he mistook them for the echoes
of his own footsteps, and moved forward again, without making any
The light tap which Dillon gave on the door of the withdrawing-room
of the cloisters, was answered by the soft voice of Cecilia Howard
herself, who bid the applicant enter. There was a slight confusion
evident in the manner of the gentleman as he complied with the bidding,
and in its hesitancy, the door was, for an instant, neglected.
"I come, Miss Howard," said Dillon, "by the commands of your uncle,
and, permit me to add, by my own—"
"May heaven shield us!" exclaimed Cecilia, clasping her hands in
affright, and rising involuntarilyfrom her couch; "are we, too, to be
imprisoned and murdered?"
"Surely Miss Howard will not impute to me"— but Dillon, observing
that the wild looks, not only of Cecilia, but of Katherine and Alice
Dunscombe, also, were directed at some other object, turned, and, to
his manifest terror, he beheld the gigantic frame of the cockswain,
surmounted by an iron visage fixed in settled hostility, in possession
of the only passage to or from the apartment.
"If there's murder to be done," said Tom, after surveying the
astonished group with a stern eye, "it's as likely this here liar will
be the one to do it, as another; but you have nothing to fear from a
man who has followed the seas too long, and has grappled with too many
monsters, both fish and flesh, not to know how to treat a helpless
woman. None, who know him, will ever say, that Thomas Coffin ever used
uncivil language, or unseaman-like conduct, to any of his mother's
"Coffin!" exclaimed Katherine, advancing with a more confident air,
from the corner, into which terror had driven her with her companions.
"Ay, Coffin," continued the old sailor, his grim features gradually
relaxing, as he gazed on her bright looks; "'tis a solemn word, but
it's a name that passes over the shoals, among the islands, and along
the cape, oftener than any other. My father was a Coffin, and my mother
was a Joy; and the two names can count more flukes than all the rest in
the island together; though the Worths, and the Gar'ners, and the
Swaines, dart better harpoons, and set truer lances, than any men who
come from the weather-side of the Atlantic."
Katherine listened to this digression in honour of the whalers of
Nantucket, with marked complacency, and, when he concluded, she
"Coffin! this, then, is long-Tom!"
"Ay, ay, long-Tom, and no sham in the name either," returned the
cockswain, suffering the stern indignation that had lowered around his
hard visage, to relax into a low laugh, as he gazed on her animated
features; "the Lord bless your smiling face and bright black eyes,
young madam; you have heard of old long-Tom, then? most likely, 'twas
something about the blow he strikes at the fish—ah! I'm old and I'm
stiff, now, young madam, but, afore I was nineteen, I stood at the head
of the dance, at a ball on the cape, and that with a partner almost as
handsome as yourself—ay! and this was after I had three broad flukes
logg'd against my name."
"No," said Katherine, advancing in her eagerness a step or two
nigher to the old tar, her cheeks flushing while she spoke, "I had
heard of you as the instructer in a seaman's duty, as the faithful
cockswain, nay, I may say, as the devoted companion and friend of Mr.
Richard Barnstable—but, perhaps, you come now as the bearer of some
message or letter from that gentleman."
The sound of his commander's name suddenly revived the recollection
of Coffin, and with it, all the fierce sternness of his manner
returned. Bending his eyes keenly on the cowering form of Dillon, he
said, in those deep, harsh tones, that seem peculiar to men, who have
braved the elements, until they appear to have imbibed some of their
"Liar! how now? what brought old Tom Coffin into these shoals and
narrow channels?was it a letter? ha! but by the Lord that maketh the
winds to blow, and teacheth the lost mariner how to steer over the wide
waters, you shall sleep this night, villain, on the planks of the
Ariel; and if it be the will of God, that beautiful piece of handicraft
is to sink at her moorings, like a worthless hulk, ye shall still sleep
in her; ay, and a sleep that shall not end, 'till they call all hands,
to foot up the days'-work of this life, at the close of man's longest
The extraordinary vehemence, the language, the attitude of the old
seaman, commanding in its energy, and the honest indignation that shone
in every look of his keen eyes, together with the nature of the
address, and its paralyzing effect on Dillon, who quailed before it
like the stricken deer, united to keep the female listeners, for many
moments, silent, through amazement. During this brief period, Tom
advanced upon his nerveless victim, and lashing his arms together
behind his back, he fastened him, by a strong cord, to the broad
canvass belt that he constantly wore around his own body, leaving to
himself, by this arrangement, the free use of his arms and weapons of
offence, while he secured his captive.
"Surely," said Cecilia, recovering her recollection the first of
the astonished group, "Mr. Barnstable has not commissioned you to offer
this violence to my uncle's kinsman, under the roof of Colonel
Howard?—Miss Plowden, your friend has strangely forgotten himself, in
this transaction, if this man acts in obedience to his orders!"
"My friend, my cousin Howard," returned Katherine, "would never
commission his cockswain, or any one, to do an unworthy deed. Speak,
honest sailor; why do you commit this outrage on the worthy Mr. Dillon,
Colonel Howard'skinsman, and a cupboard cousin of St. Ruth's Abbey?"
"Nay, Cecilia, be patient, and let the stranger have utterance; he
may solve the difficulty altogether."
The cockswain, understanding that an explanation was expected from
his lips, addressed himself to the task, with an energy suitable both
to the subject and to his own feelings. In a very few words, though a
little obscured by his peculiar diction, he made his listeners
understand the confidence that Barnstable had reposed in Dillon, and
the treachery of the latter. They heard him with increased
astonishment, and Cecilia hardly allowed him time to conclude, before
"And did Colonel Howard, could Colonel Howard listen to this
"Ay, they patched it up among them," returned Tom; "though one part
of this cruise will turn out but badly."
"Even Borroughcliffe, cold and hardened as he appears to be by
habit, would spurn at such dishonour," added Miss Howard.
"But, Mr. Barnstable?" at length Katherine succeeded in saying,
when her feelings permitted her utterance, "said you not, that soldiers
were in quest of him?"
"Ay, ay, young madam," the cockswain replied, smiling with grim
ferocity, "they are in chase, but he has shifted his anchorage; and
even if they should find him, his long pikes would make short work of a
dozen red-coats. The Lord of tempests and calms have mercy though, on
the schooner! Ah! young madam, she is as lovely to the eyes of an old
sea-faring man, as any of your kind can be to human nature."
"But why this delay?—away then, honest Tom, and reveal the
treachery to your commander; you may not yet be too late—why delay a
"The ship tarries for want of a pilot—I could carry three fathom
over the shoals of Nantucket, the darkest night that ever shut the
windows of heaven, but I should be likely to run upon breakers in this
navigation. As it was, I was near getting into company that I should
have had to fight my way out of."
"If that be all, follow me," cried the ardent Katherine; "I will
conduct you to a path that leads to the ocean, without approaching the
Until this moment, Dillon had entertained a secret expectation of a
rescue, but when he heard this proposal, he felt his blood retreating
to his heart, from every part of his agitated frame, and his last hope
seemed wrested from him. Raising himself from the abject, shrinking
attitude, in which both shame and dread had conspired to keep him, as
though he had been fettered to the spot, he approached Cecilia, and
cried, in tones of horror—
"Do not, do not consent, Miss Howard, to abandon me to the fury of
this man! your uncle, your honourable uncle, even now, applauded and
united with me in my enterprise, which is no more than a common
artifice in war."
"My uncle would unite, Mr. Dillon, in no project of deliberate
treachery, like this," said Cecilia, coldly.
"He did, I swear by—"
"Liar!" interrupted the deep tones of the cockswain.
Dillon shivered with agony and terror, while the sounds of this
appalling voice sunk into his inmostsoul; but as the gloom of the
night, the secret ravines of the cliffs, and the turbulence of the
ocean, flashed across his imagination, he again yielded to a dread of
the horrors to which he should be exposed, in encountering them at the
mercy of his powerful enemy, and he continued his solicitations—
"Hear me, once more hear me—Miss Howard, I beseech you, hear me;
am I not of your own blood and country! will you see me abandoned to
the wild, merciless, malignant fury of this man, who will transfix me
with that—oh! God! if you had but seen the sight I beheld in the
Alacrity!—hear me, Miss Howard, for the love you bear your Maker,
intercede for me. Mr. Griffith shall be released—"
"Liar!" again interrupted the cockswain.
"What promises he?" asked Cecilia, turning her averted face once
more at the miserable captive.
"Nothing that will be fulfilled," said Katherine; "follow, honest
Tom, and I, at least, will conduct you in good faith."
"Cruel, obdurate Miss Plowden; gentle, kind Miss Alice, you will
not refuse to raise your voice in my favour; your heart is not hardened
by any imaginary dangers to those you love."
"Nay, address not me," said Alice, bending her meek eyes to the
floor; "I trust your life is in no danger, and I pray that he who has
the power, will have the mercy, to see you unharmed."
"Away," said Tom, grasping the collar of the helpless Dillon, and
rather carrying than leading him into the gallery; "if a sound, one
quarter as loud as a young porpoise makes, when he draws his first
breath, comes from you, villain, you shall see the sight of the
Alacrity over again.My harpoon keeps its edge well, and the old arm can
yet drive it to the seizing."
This menace effectually silenced even the hard, perturbed
breathings of the captive, who, with his conductor, followed the light
steps of Katherine, through some of the secret mazes of the building,
until, in a few minutes, they issued through a small door, into the
open air. Without pausing to deliberate, Miss Plowden led the cockswain
through the grounds, to a different wicket from the one by which he had
entered the paddock, and pointing to the path, which might be dimly
traced along the faded herbage, she bad God bless him, in a voice that
discovered her interest in his safety, and vanished from his sight,
like an aerial being.
Tom needed no incentive to his speed, now that his course lay so
plainly before him, but, loosening his pistols in his belt, and poising
his harpoon, he crossed the fields at a gait that compelled his
companion to exert his utmost powers, in the way of walking, to equal.
Once or twice, Dillon ventured to utter a word or two, but a stern
"silence," from the cockswain, warned him to cease, until, perceiving
that they were approaching the cliffs, he made a final effort to obtain
his liberty, by hurriedly promising a large bribe. The cockswain made
no reply, and the captive was secretly hoping that his scheme was
producing its wonted effects, when he unexpectedly felt the keen, cold
edge of the barbed iron of the harpoon pressing against his breast,
through the opening of his ruffles, and even rasing the skin.
"Liar," said Tom, "another word, and I'll drive it through your
From that moment, Dillon was as silent as the grave. They reached
the edge of the cliffs, without encountering the party that had been
sent inquest of Barnstable, and at a point near where they had landed.
The old seaman paused an instant on the verge of the precipice, and
cast his experienced eyes along the wide expanse of water that lay
before him. The sea was no longer sleeping, but already in heavy
motion, and rolling its surly waves against the base of the rocks on
which he stood, and scattering their white crests high in foam. The
cockswain, after bending his looks along the whole line of the eastern
horizon, gave utterance to a low and stifled groan, and then striking
the staff of his harpoon violently against the earth, he pursued his
way along the very edge of the cliffs, muttering certain dreadful
denunciations, which the conscience of his appalled listener did not
fail to cause him to apply to himself. It appeared to the latter, that
his angry and excited leader sought the giddy verge of the precipice
with a sort of wanton recklessness, so daring were the steps that he
took along its brow, notwithstanding the darkness of the hour, and the
violence of the blasts that occasionally rushed by them, leaving behind
a kind of reaction, that more than once brought the life of the
manacled captive in imminent jeopardy. But it would seem, the wary
cockswain had a motive for his, apparently, inconsiderate desperation.
When they had made good quite half the distance between the point where
Barnstable had landed, and that where he had appointed to meet his
cockswain, the sounds of voices were brought indistinctly to their
ears, in one of the momentary pauses of the rushing winds, and caused
the cockswain to make a dead stand in his progress. He listened
intently, for a single minute, when his resolution appeared to be
taken. He turned to Dillon, and spoke; but though his voice was
suppressed and low, it was deep and resolute.
"One word, and you die; over the cliffs. You must take a seaman's
ladder; there is footing, on the rocks and crags, for your hands. Over
the cliff, I bid ye, or I'll cast ye into the sea, as I would a dead
"Mercy, mercy," implored Dillon; "I could not do it in the day; I
shall surely perish by this light."
"Over with ye," said Tom, "or I—"
Dillon waited for no more, but descended, with trembling steps, the
dangerous precipice which lay before him. He was followed by the
cockswain, with a haste that unavoidably dislodged his captive from the
trembling stand he had taken on the shelf of a rock, who, to his
increased horror, found himself dangling in the air, his body impending
over the sullen surf, that was tumbling in, with violence, upon the
rocks beneath him. An involuntary shriek burst from Dillon, as he felt
his person thrust from the narrow shelf, and his cry sounded amid the
tempest, like the screechings of the spirit of the storm.
"Another such call, and I cut your tow-line, villain," said the
determined seaman, "when nothing short of eternity will bring you up."
The sounds of footsteps and voices were now distinctly audible, and
presently a group of armed men appeared on the edges of the rocks,
directly above them.
"It was a human voice," said one of them, "and like a man in
"It cannot be the party we are sent in search of," returned
Sergeant Drill; "for no watch-word that I ever heard sounded like that
"They say, that such cries are often heard, instorms, along this
coast," said a voice, that was uttered with less of military confidence
than the two others; "and they are thought to come from drowned
A feeble laugh arose among the listeners, and one or two forced
jokes were made, at the expense of their superstitious comrade; but the
scene did not fail to produce its effect on even the most sturdy among
the unbelievers in the marvellous; for, after a few more very similar
remarks, the whole party retired from the cliffs, at a pace that might
have been accelerated by the nature of their discourse. The cockswain,
who had stood, all this time, firm as the rock which supported him,
bearing up not only his own weight, but the person of Dillon also,
raised his head above the brow of the precipice, as they withdrew, to
reconnoitre, and then drew up the nearly insensible captive, and first
placing him in safety on the bank, he followed himself. Not a moment
was wasted in unnecessary explanations, but Dillon found himself again
urged forward, with the same velocity as before. In a few minutes they
gained the desired ravine, down which Tom plunged, with a seaman's
nerve, dragging his prisoner after him, and directly they stood where
the waves rose to their feet, as they flowed far and foaming across the
sands. The cockswain stooped, so as to bring the crests of the billows
in a line with the horizon, when he discovered the dark boat playing in
the outer edge of the surf.
"What hoa! Ariels there!" shouted Tom, in a voice that the growing
tempest carried to the ears of the retreating soldiers, who quickened
their footsteps, as they listened to sounds that their fears taught
them to believe unnatural.
"Who hails?" cried the well known voice of Barnstable.
"Once your master, now your servant," answered the cockswain, in a
watch-word of his own invention.
"'Tis he," returned the lieutenant; "veer away, boys, veer away.
You must wade into the surf."
Tom caught Dillon in his arms, and throwing him, like a cork,
across his shoulder, he dashed into the streak of foam that was bearing
the boat on its crest, and before his companion had time for
remonstrance or entreaty, he found himself once more by the side of
"Who have we here?" asked the lieutenant; "this is not Griffith!"
"Haul out, and weigh your grapnel," said the cockswain sternly;
"and then, boys, if you love the Ariel, pull while the life and the
will is left in you."
Barnstable knew his man, and not another question was asked, until
the boat was without the breakers; now skimming the rounded summits of
the waves, or settling into the hollows of the seas, but always cutting
the waters asunder, as she urged her course, with amazing velocity,
towards the haven where the schooner had been left at anchor. Then, in
a few, but bitter sentences, the cockswain explained to his commander
the treachery of Dillon, and the danger of the Ariel.
"The soldiers are slow at a night muster," Tom concluded, "and from
what I overheard, the express will have to make a crooked course, to
double the head of the bay; so, that but for this north-easter, we
might weather upon them yet; but it's a matter that lies altogether in
thewill of Providence. Pull, my hearties, pull— every thing depends on
your oars to-night."
Barnstable listened, in deep silence, to this unexpected narration,
which sounded to the ears of Dillon like his funeral knell. At length,
the suppressed voice of the lieutenant was heard, also, uttering—
"Wretch! if I should cast you into the sea, as food for the fishes,
who could blame me? But if my schooner goes to the bottom, she shall
prove your coffin."
"Had I been any God of power, I would
Have sunk the sea within the earth, ere
It should the good ship so have swallowed."
The arms of Dillon were released from their confinement, by the
cockswain, as a measure of humane caution against accidents, when they
entered the surf, and the captive now availed himself of the
circumstance, to bury his features in the folds of his attire, where he
brooded over the events of the last few hours with that mixture of
malignant passion and pusillanimous dread of the future, that formed
the chief ingredients in his character. From this state of apparent
quietude, neither Barnstable nor Tom seemed disposed to rouse him by
their remarks, for both were too much engaged with their own gloomy
forebodings, to indulge in any unnecessary words. An occasional
ejaculation from the former, as if to propitiate the spirit of the
storm, as he gazed on the troubled appearance of the elements, or a
cheering cry from the latter, to animate his crew, were alone heard
amid the sullen roaring of the waters, and the mournful whistling of
the winds, that swept heavily across the broad waste of theGerman
ocean. There might have been an hour consumed thus, in a vigorous
struggle between the seamen and the growing billows, when the boat
doubled the northern headland of the desired haven, and shot, at once,
from its boisterous passage along the margin of the breakers, into the
placid waters of the sequestered bay. The passing blasts were still
heard rushing above the highlands that surrounded, and, in fact, formed
the estuary, but the profound stillness of deep night, pervaded the
secret recesses, along the unruffled surface of its waters. The shadows
of the hills seemed to have accumulated, like a mass of gloom, in the
centre of the basin, and though every eye involuntarily turned to
search, it was in vain that the anxious seamen endeavoured to discover
their little vessel, through its density. While the boat glided into
this quiet scene, Barnstable observed—
"Every thing is as still as death."
"God send it is not the stillness of death!" ejaculated the
cockswain; "here, here," he continued, speaking in a lower tone, as if
fearful of being overheard, "here she lies, sir, more to-port; look
into the streak of clear sky above the marsh, on the starboard hand of
the wood, there; that long black line is her main-top-mast; I know it
by the rake; and there is her night-pennant fluttering about that
bright star; ay, ay, sir, there go our own stars aloft yet, dancing
among the stars in the heavens! God bless her! God bless her! she rides
as easy and as quiet as a gull asleep!"
"I believe all in her sleep too," returned his commander; "ha! by
heaven, we have arrived in good time; the soldiers are moving!"
The quick eye of Barnstable had detected the glimmering of passing
lanterns, as they flitted across the embrasures of the battery, and, at
the next moment, the guarded but distinct sounds of an active bustle,
on the decks of the schooner, were plainly audible. The lieutenant was
rubbing his hands together, with a sort of ecstacy, that probably will
not be understood by the great majority of our readers, while long-Tom
was actually indulging in a paroxysm of his low, spiritless laughter,
as these certain intimations of the safety of the Ariel, and of the
vigilance of her crew, were conveyed to their ears; when the whole hull
and taper spars of their floating home, became unexpectedly visible,
and the sky, the placid basin, and the adjacent hills, were illuminated
by a flash as sudden and as vivid as the keenest lightning. Both
Barnstable and his cockswain, seemed instinctively to strain their eyes
towards the schooner, with an effort to surpass human vision, but ere
the rolling reverberations of the report of a heavy piece of ordnance,
from the heights, had commenced, the dull, whistling rush of the shot
swept over their heads, like the moaning of a hurricane, and was
succeeded by the plash of the waters, which was followed, in a breath,
by the rattling of the mass of iron, as it bounded with violent fury
from rock to rock, shivering and tearing the fragments that lined the
margin of the bay.
"A bad aim with the first gun, generally leaves your enemy clean
decks," said the cockswain, with his deliberate sort of philosophy;
"smoke makes but dim spectacles; besides, the night always grows
darkest, as you call off the morning watch."
"That boy is a miracle for his years!" rejoined the delighted
lieutenant; "see, Tom, the younker has shifted his birth in the dark,
and the Englishmen have fired by the day-range they must have taken,
for we left him in a direct line between the battery and yon hommoc!
what would have become of us, if that heavy fellow had plunged upon our
decks, and gone out below the water-line!"
"We should have sunk into English mud, for eternity, as sure as our
metal and kentledge would have taken us down," responded Tom; "such a
point-blanker would have torn off a streak of our wales, outboard, and
not even left the marines time to say a prayer! tend bow there!"
It is not to be supposed that the crew of the whale-boat continued
idle, during this interchange of opinions between the lieutenant and
his cockswain; on the contrary, the sight of their vessel acted on them
like a charm, and, believing that all necessity for caution was now
over, they had expended their utmost strength in efforts, that had
already brought them, as the last words of Tom indicated, to the side
of the Ariel. Though every nerve of Barnstable was thrilling with the
excitement produced, by his feelings passing from a state of the most
doubtful apprehension, to that of a revived and almost confident hope
of effecting his escape, he assumed the command of his vessel, with all
that stern but calm authority, that seamen find it most necessary to
exert, in the moments of extremest danger. Any one of the heavy shot
that their enemies continued to hurl from their heights into the
darkness of the haven, he well knew must prove fatal to them, as it
would, unavoidably, pass through the slightfabric of the Ariel, and
open a passage to the water, that no means he possessed could remedy.
His mandates were, therefore, issued, with a full perception of the
critical nature of the emergency, but with that collectedness of
manner, and intonation of voice, that were best adapted to enforce a
ready and animated obedience. Under this impulse, the crew of the
schooner soon got their anchor freed from the bottom, and, seizing
their sweeps, they forced her, by their united efforts, directly in the
face of the battery, under that shore, whose summit was now crowned
with a canopy of smoke, that every discharge of the ordnance tinged
with dim colours, like the faintest tints that are reflected from the
clouds toward a setting sun. So long as the seamen were enabled to keep
their little bark under the cover of the hill, they were, of course,
safe; but Barnstable perceived, as they emerged from its shadow, and
were drawing nigh to the passage which led into the ocean, that the
action of his sweeps would no longer avail them, against the currents
of air they encountered, neither would the darkness conceal their
movements from his enemy, who had already employed men on the shore to
discern the position of the schooner. Throwing off at once, therefore,
all appearance of disguise, he gave forth the word to spread the
canvass of his vessel, in his ordinary cheerful manner.
"Let them do their worst now, Merry," he added; "we have brought
them to a distance that I think will keep their iron above water, and
we have no dodge about us, younker!"
"It must be keener marksmen than the militia, or volunteers, or
fencibles, or whatever they call themselves, behind yon grass-bank, to
frighten the saucy Ariel from the wind," returned thereckless boy; "but
why have you brought Jonah aboard us again, sir? look at him, by the
light of the cabin lamp; he winks at every gun, as if he expected the
shot would hull his own ugly, yellow physiognomy. And what tidings have
we, sir, from Mr. Griffith, and the marine?"
"Name him not," said Barnstable, pressing the shoulder on which he
lightly leaned, with a convulsive grasp, that caused the boy to yield
with pain; "name him not, Merry; I want my temper and my faculties at
this moment undisturbed, and thinking of the wretch unfits me for my
duty. But, there will come a time! go forward, sir; we feel the wind,
and have a narrow passage to work through."
The boy obeyed a mandate which was given in the usual prompt manner
of their profession, and which, he well understood, was intended to
intimate, that the distance which years and rank had created between
them, but which Barnstable often chose to forget while communing with
Merry, was now to be resumed. The sails had been loosened and set; and,
as the vessel approached the throat of the passage, the gale, which was
blowing with increasing violence, began to make a very sensible
impression on the light bark. The cockswain, who, in the absence of
most of the inferior officers, had been acting, on the forecastle, the
part of one who felt, from his years and experience, that he had some
right to advise, if not to command, at such a juncture, now walked to
the station which his commander had taken, near the helmsman, as if
willing to place himself in the way of being seen.
"Well, Master Coffin," said Barnstable, who well understood the
propensity his old shipmate had to commune with him, on all important
occasions, "what think you of the cruise, now? Those gentlemen on the
hill make a great noise, but I have lost even the whistling of their
shot; one would think they could see our sails against the broad band
of light which is opening to seaward."
"Ay, ay, sir, they see us, and mean to hit us, too, but we are
running across their fire, and that with a ten-knot breeze; but when we
heave in stays, and get in a line with their guns, we shall see, and,
it may be, feel, more of their work than we do now; a thirty-two an't
trained as easily as a fowling-piece or a ducking gun."
Barnstable was struck with the truth of this observation, but as
there existed an immediate necessity for placing the schooner in the
very situation to which the other alluded, he gave his orders at once,
and the vessel came about, and ran with her head pointing towards the
sea, in as short a time as we have taken to record it.
"There, they have us now, or never," cried the lieutenant, when the
evolution was completed; "if we fetch to windward of the northern
point, we shall lay out into the offing, and in ten minutes we might
laugh at Queen Anne's pocket-piece; which, you know, old boy, sent a
ball from Dover to Calais."
"Ay, sir, I've heard of the gun," returned the grave seaman, "and a
lively piece it must have been, if the streights were always of the
same width they are now. But I see that, Captain Barnstable, which is
more dangerous than a dozen of the heaviest cannon that were ever cast,
could be at half a league's distance. The water is bubbling through our
lee-scuppers, already, sir."
"And what of that? haven't I buried her gunsoften, and yet kept
every spar in her without a crack or a splinter?"
"Ay, ay, sir, you have done it, and can do it again, where there is
sea-room, which is all that a man wants for comfort in this life. But
when we are out of these chops, we shall be embayed, with a heavy
north-easter setting dead into the bight; it is that which I fear,
Captain Barnstable, more than all the powder and ball in the whole
"And yet, Tom, the balls are not to be despised, either; those
fellows have found out their range, and send their iron within hail,
again; we walk pretty fast, Master Coffin, but a thirty-two can
out-travel us, with the best wind that ever blew."
Tom threw a cursory glance towards the battery, which had renewed
its fire with a spirit that denoted they saw their object, as he
"It is never worth a man's while to strive to dodge a shot, for
they are all commissioned to do their work, the same as a ship is
commissioned to cruise in certain latitudes; but for the winds and the
weather, they are given for a seafaring man to guard against, by making
or shortening sail, as the case may be. Now, the headland to the
southward stretches full three leagues to windward, and the shoals lie
to the north; among which God keep us from ever running this craft
"We will beat her out of the bight, old fellow," cried the
lieutenant; "we shall have a leg of three leagues in length to do it
"I've known longer legs too short," returned the cockswain, with a
deep sigh; "a tumbling sea, with a lee-tide, on a lee-shore, make a sad
The lieutenant was in the act of replying to this saying, with a
cheerful laugh, when the whistling of a passing shot was instantly
succeeded by the crash of splintered wood, and at the next moment the
head of the main-mast, after tottering for an instant in the gale, fell
toward the deck, bringing with it the main-sail, and the long line of
top-mast, that had been bearing the emblems of America, as the
cockswain had expressed it, among the stars of the heavens.
"That was a most unlucky hit!" Barnstable suffered to escape him,
in the concern of the moment; then, instantly resuming all his
collectedness of manner and voice, he gave his orders to clear the
wreck, and secure the fluttering canvass.
The mournful forebodings of Tom seemed to vanish, at the appearance
of a necessity for his exertions, and he was foremost among the crew in
executing the orders of their commander. The loss of all the sail on
the main-mast forced the Ariel so much from her course, as to render it
difficult to weather the point, that jutted, under her lee, for some
distance into the ocean. This desirable object was, however, effected,
by the skill of Barnstable, aided by the excellent properties of his
vessel; and the schooner, borne down by the power of the gale, from
whose fury she had now no protection, passed heavily along the land,
heading, as far as possible, from the breakers, while the seamen were
engaged in making their preparations to display as much of the canvass
of their most important sail, as the stump of their mast would allow
them to spread. The firing from the battery ceased, as the Ariel
rounded the little promontory; but Barnstable, whose gaze was now bent
intently on the ocean, soon perceived that, as his cockswain had
predicted, he had a much more threatening dangerto encounter, in the
elements. When their damages were repaired, so far as circumstances
would permit, the cockswain returned to his wonted station near the
lieutenant, and after a momentary pause, during which his eyes roved
over the rigging, with a seaman's scrutiny, he resumed the discourse.
"It would have been better for us that the best man in the schooner
had lost a limb, by that shot, than that the Ariel should have lost her
best leg; a main-sail, close-reefed, may be prudent canvass, as the
wind blows, but it carries a poor luff to keep a craft to windward."
"What would you have, Tom Coffin!" retorted his commander; "you see
she draws ahead, and off-shore; do you expect a vessel to fly in the
very teeth of a gale, or would you have me ware and beach her, at
"I would have nothing, nothing, Captain Barnstable," returned the
old seaman, sensibly touched at his commander's displeasure; "you are
as able as any man who ever trod a plank to work her into an offing;
but, sir, when that soldier-officer told me of the scheme to sink the
Ariel at her anchor, there were such feelings come athwart me as never
crossed me afore. I thought I saw her a wrack, as plainly, ay, as
plainly as you may see the stump of that mast; and, I will own it, for
it's as natural to love the craft you sail in, as it is to love one's
self, I will own that my manhood fetched a heavy lee-lurch at the
"Away with ye, ye old sea-croaker! forward with ye, and see that
the head-sheets are trimmed flat. But hold! come hither, Tom; if you
have sights of wrecks, and sharks, and otherbeautiful objects, keep
them stowed in your own silly brain; don't make a ghost-parlour of my
forecastle. The lads begin to look to leeward, now, oftener than I
would have them. Go, sirrah, go, and take example from Mr. Merry, who
is seated on your namesake there, and is singing as if he were a
chorister in his father's church."
"Ah! Captain Barnstable, Mr. Merry is a boy, and knows nothing, so
fears nothing. But I shall obey your orders, sir; and if the men fall
astern, this gale, it shan't be for any thing they'll hear from old Tom
The cockswain lingered a moment, notwithstanding his promised
obedience, and then ventured to request, that—
"Captain Barnstable would please to call Mr. Merry from the gun;
for I know, from having followed the seas my natural life, that singing
in a gale is sure to bring the wind down upon a vessel the heavier; for
He who rules the tempests is displeased that man's voice shall be
heard, when He chooses to send His own breath on the water."
Barnstable was at a loss, whether to laugh at his cockswain's
infirmity, or to yield to the impression which his earnest and solemn
manner had a powerful tendency to produce, amid such a scene. But,
making an effort to shake off the superstitious awe that he felt
creeping around his own heart, the lieutenant relieved the mind of the
worthy seaman so far as to call the careless boy from his perch, to his
own side; where respect for the sacred character of the quarter-deck,
instantly put an end to the lively air he had been humming. Tom walked
slowly forward, apparently much relieved by the reflection that he had
effected so important an object.
The Ariel continued to struggle against the winds and ocean for
several hours longer, before the day broke on the tempestuous scene,
and the anxious mariners were enabled to form a more accurate estimate
of their real danger. As the violence of the gale increased, the
canvass of the schooner had been gradually reduced, until she was
unable to show more than was absolutely necessary to prevent her
driving, helplessly, on the land. Barnstable watched the appearance of
the weather, as the light slowly opened upon them, with an intensity of
anxiety, which denoted, that the presentiments of the cockswain were no
longer deemed idle. On looking to windward, he beheld the green masses
of water that were rolling in towards the land, with a violence that
seemed irresistible, crowned with ridges of foam; and there were
moments when the air appeared filled with sparkling gems, as the rays
of the rising sun fell upon the spray that was swept from wave to wave.
Towards the land, the view was still more appalling. The cliffs, but a
short half-league under the lee of the schooner, were, at times, nearly
hid from the eye by the pyramids of water, which the furious element,
so suddenly restrained in its violence, cast high into the air, as if
seeking to overstep the boundaries that nature had affixed to its
dominion. The whole coast, from the distant head-land at the south, to
the well known shoals that stretched far beyond their course, in the
opposite direction, displayed a broad belt of foam, into which, it
would have been certain destruction, for the proudest ship that swam,
to have entered. Still the Ariel floated on the billows, lightly and in
safety, though yielding to the impulses of the waters, and, at times,
appearing to be engulphed in the yawning chasms, which, apparently,
opened beneath her to receive the little fabric. The low rumour of
acknowledged danger, had found its way through the schooner, and the
seamen, after fastening their hopeless looks on the small spot of
canvass that they were enabled to show to the tempest, would turn to
view the dreary line of coast, that seemed to offer so gloomy an
alternative. Even Dillon, to whom the report of their danger had found
its way, crept from his place of concealment in the cabin, and moved
about the decks, unheeded, devouring, with greedy ears, such opinions
as fell from the lips of the sullen mariners.
At this moment of appalling apprehension, the cockswain exhibited
the most calm resignation. He knew that all had been done, that lay in
the power of man, to urge their little vessel from the land, and it was
now too evident to his experienced eyes, that it had been done in vain;
but, considering himself as a sort of fixture in the schooner, he was
quite prepared to abide her fate, be it for better or for worse. The
settled look of gloom that gathered around the frank brow of
Barnstable, was, in no degree, connected with any considerations of
himself, but proceeded from that sort of parental responsibility, from
which the sea-commander is never exempt. The discipline of the crew,
however, still continued perfect and unyielding. There had, it is true,
been a slight movement made by two of the oldest seamen, which
indicated an intention to drown the apprehensions of death in ebriety;
but Barnstable had called for his pistols, in a tone that checked the
procedure instantly, and, although the fatal weapons were untouched by
him, but were left to lie exposed on the capstern,where they had been
placed by his servant, not another symptom of insubordination appeared
among the devoted crew. There was even, what to a landsman might seem,
a dreadful affectation of attention to the most trifling duties of the
vessel; and the men, who, it should seem, ought to be devoting the
brief moments of their existence to the mighty business of the hour,
were constantly called to attend to the most trivial details of their
profession. Ropes were coiled, and the slightest damages occasioned by
the waves, that at short intervals, swept across the low decks of the
Ariel, were repaired, with the same precision and order, as if she yet
lay embayed in the haven from which she had just been driven. In this
manner, the arm of authority was kept extended over the silent crew,
not with the vain desire to preserve a lingering, though useless
exercise of power, but with a view to maintain that unity of action,
that now could alone afford them even a ray of hope.
"She can make no head against this sea, under that rag of canvass,"
said Barnstable, gloomily; addressing the cockswain, who, with folded
arms, and an air of cool resignation, was balancing his body on the
verge of the quarter-deck, while the schooner was plunging madly into
waves that nearly buried her in their bosom; "the poor little thing
trembles like a frightened child, as she meets the water."
Tom sighed heavily, and shook his head, before he answered—
"If we could have kept the head of the main-mast an hour longer, we
might have got an offing, and fetched to windward of the shoals; but,
as it is, sir, mortal man can't drive a craft to windward—she sets
bodily in to land, and will be inthe breakers in less than an hour,
unless God wills that the winds shall cease to blow."
"We have no hope left us, but to anchor; our ground tackle may yet
bring her up."
Tom turned to his commander, and replied, solemnly, and with that
assurance of manner, that long experience only can give a man in
moments of great danger—
"If our sheet-cable was bent to our heaviest anchor, this sea would
bring it home, though nothing but her launch was riding by it. A
north-easter in the German ocean must and will blow itself out; nor
shall we get the crown of the gale until the sun falls over the land.
Then, indeed, it may lull; for the winds do often seem to reverence the
glory of the heavens, too much to blow their might in its very face!"
"We must do our duty to ourselves and the country," returned
Barnstable; "go, get the two bowers spliced, and have a kedge bent to a
hawser; we'll back our two anchors together, and veer to the better end
of two hundred and forty fathoms; it may yet bring her up. See all
clear there for anchoring, and cutting away the masts—we'll leave the
wind nothing but a naked hull to whistle over."
"Ay, if there was nothing but the wind, we might yet live to see
the sun sink behind them hills," said the cockswain; "but what hemp can
stand the strain of a craft that is buried, half the time, to her
foremast in the water!"
The order was, however, executed by the crew, with a sort of
desperate submission to the will of their commander; and when the
preparations were completed, the anchors and kedge were dropped to the
bottom, and the instant that the Ariel tended to the wind, the axe was
applied tothe little that was left of her long, raking masts. The crash
of the falling spars, as they came, in succession, across the decks of
the vessel, appeared to produce no sensation amid that scene of
complicated danger, but the seamen proceeded in silence, in their
hopeless duty, of clearing the wrecks. Every eye followed the floating
timbers, as the waves swept them away from the vessel, with a sort of
feverish curiosity, to witness the effect produced by their collision
with those rocks that lay so fearfully near them; but long before the
spars entered the wide border of foam, they were hid from view by the
furious element in which they floated. It was, now, felt by the whole
crew of the Ariel, that their last means of safety had been adopted,
and, at each desperate and headlong plunge the vessel took, into the
bosom of the seas that rolled upon her forecastle, the anxious seamen
thought they could perceive the yielding of the iron that yet clung to
the bottom, or could hear the violent surge of the parting strands of
the cable, that still held them to their anchors. While the minds of
the sailors were agitated with the faint hopes that had been excited,
by the movements of their schooner, Dillon had been permitted to wander
about the vessel, unnoticed; his rolling eyes, hard breathing, and
clenched hands, exciting no observation among the men, whose thoughts
were yet dwelling on the means of safety. But, now, when, with a sort
of frenzied desperation, he would follow the retiring waters along the
decks, and venture his person nigh the group that had collected around
and on the gun of the cockswain, glances of fierce or of sullen
vengeance were cast at him, that conveyed threats of a nature that he
was too much agitated to understand.
"If ye are tired of this world, though your time, like my own, is
probably but short in it," said Tom to him, as he passed the cockswain
in one of his turns, "you can go forward among the men; but if ye have
need of the moments to foot up the reck'ning of your doings among men,
afore ye're brought to face your maker, and hear the log-book of
heaven, I would advise you to keep as nigh as possible to Captain
Barnstable or myself."
"Will you promise to save me, if the vessel is wrecked!" exclaimed
Dillon, catching at the first sounds of friendly interest that had
reached his ears, since he had been recaptured; "Oh! if you will, I can
secure you future ease; yes, wealth, for the remainder of your days!"
"Your promises have been too ill kept, afore this, for the peace of
your soul," returned the cockswain, without bitterness, though sternly;
"but it is not in me to strike even a whale, that is already spouting
The intercessions of Dillon were interrupted by a dreadful cry,
that arose among the men forward, and which sounded with increased
horror, amid the roaring of the tempest. The schooner rose on the
breast of a wave at the same instant, and, falling off with her broad
side to the sea, she drove in towards the cliffs, like a bubble on the
rapids of a cataract.
"Our ground tackle has parted," said Tom, with his resigned
patience of manner undisturbed; "she shall die as easy as man can make
her!" While he yet spoke, he seized the tiller, and gave to the vessel
such a direction, as would be most likely to cause her to strike the
rocks with her bows foremost.
There was, for one moment, an expression of exquisite anguish,
betrayed in the dark countenance of Barnstable; but at the next, it
passed away, and he spoke cheerfully to his men—
"Be steady, my lads, be calm; there is yet a hope of life for
you—our light draught will let us run in close to the cliffs, and it
is still falling water—see your boats clear, and be steady."
The crew of the whale-boat, aroused, by this speech, from a sort of
stupor, sprang into their light vessel, which was quickly lowered into
the sea, and kept riding on the foam, free from the sides of the
schooner, by the powerful exertions of the men. The cry for the
cockswain was earnest and repeated, but Tom shook his head, without
replying, still grasping the tiller, and keeping his eyes steadily bent
on the chaos of waters, into which they were driving. The launch, the
largest boat of the two, was cut loose from the "gripes," and the
bustle and exertion of the moment rendered the crew insensible to the
horror of the scene that surrounded them. But the loud, hoarse call of
the cockswain, to "look out—secure yourselves!" suspended even their
efforts, and at that instant the Ariel settled on a wave that melted
from under her, heavily on the rocks. The shock was so violent, as to
throw all who disregarded the warning cry, from their feet, and the
universal quiver that pervaded the vessel was like the last shudder of
animated nature. For a time long enough to breathe, the least
experienced among the men supposed the danger to be past; but a wave of
great height followed the one that had deserted them, and raising the
vessel again, threw her roughly still further on her bed of rocks, and
at the same time its crest broke over her quarter,sweeping the length
of her decks, with a fury that was almost resistless. The shuddering
seamen beheld their loosened boat, driven from their grasp, and dashed
against the base of the cliffs, where no fragment of her wreck could be
traced, at the receding of the waters. But the passing wave had thrown
the vessel into a position which, in some measure, protected her decks
from the violence of those that succeeded it.
"Go, my boys, go," said Barnstable, as the moment of dreadful
uncertainty passed; "you have still the whale-boat, and she, at least,
will take you nigh the shore; go into her, my boys; God bless you, God
bless you all; you have been faithful and honest fellows, and I believe
he will not yet desert you; go, my friends, while there is a lull."
The seamen threw themselves, in a mass of human bodies, into the
light vessel, which nearly sunk under the unusual burthen; but when
they looked around them, Barnstable, and Merry, Dillon, and the
cockswain, were yet to be seen on the decks of the Ariel. The former
was pacing, in deep, and perhaps bitter melancholy, the wet planks of
the schooner, while the boy hung, unheeded, on his arm, uttering
disregarded petitions to his commander, to desert the wreck. Dillon
approached the side where the boat lay, again and again, but the
threatening countenances of the seamen as often drove him back in
despair. Tom had seated himself on the heel of the bowsprit; where he
continued, in an attitude of quiet resignation, returning no other
answers to the loud and repeated calls of his shipmates, than by waving
his hand toward the shore.
"Now hear me," said the boy, urging his request, to tears; "if not
for my sake, or for your own sake, Mr. Barnstable, or for the hopes of
God's mercy; go into the boat, for the love of my cousin Katherine."
The young lieutenant paused in his troubled walk, and for a moment,
he cast a glance of hesitation at the cliffs; but, at the next instant,
his eyes fell on the ruin of his vessel, and he answered—
"Never, boy, never; if my hour has come, I will not shrink from my
"Listen to the men, dear sir; the boat will be swamped along-side
the wreck, and their cry is, that without you they will not let her
Barnstable motioned to the boat, to bid the boy enter it, and
turned away in silence.
"Well," said Merry, with firmness, "if it be right that a
lieutenant shall stay by a wreck, it must also be right for a
midshipman; "shove off; neither Mr. Barnstable nor myself will quit the
"Boy, your life has been intrusted to my keeping, and at my hands
will it be required," said his commander, lifting the struggling youth,
and tossing him into the arms of the seamen. "Away with ye, and God be
with you; there is more weight in you, now, than can go safe to land."
Still, the seamen hesitated, for they perceived the cockswain
moving, with a steady tread, along the deck, and they hoped he had
relented, and would yet persuade the lieutenant to join his crew. But
Tom, imitating the example of his commander, seized the latter,
suddenly, in his powerful grasp, and threw him over the bulwarks, with
an irresistible force. At the same moment, he cast the fast of the boat
from the pin that held it, and, lifting his broad hands high into the
air, his voice was heard in the tempest.
"God's will be done with me," he cried; "I saw the first timber of
the Ariel laid, and shall live just long enough to see it torn out of
her bottom; after which I wish to live no longer."
But his shipmates were swept far beyond the sounds of his voice,
before half these words were uttered. All command of the boat was
rendered impossible, by the numbers it contained, as well as the raging
of the surf; and, as it rose on the white crest of a wave, Tom saw his
beloved little craft for the last time; it fell into a trough of the
sea, and in a few moments more its fragments were ground into splinters
on the adjacent rocks. The cockswain still remained where he had cast
off the rope, and beheld the numerous heads and arms that appeared
rising, at short intervals, on the waves; some making powerful and
well-directed efforts to gain the sands, that were becoming visible as
the tide fell, and others wildly tossed, in the frantic movements of
helpless despair. The honest old seaman gave a cry of joy, as he saw
Barnstable issue from the surf, bearing the form of Merry in safety to
the sands, where, one by one, several seamen soon appeared also,
dripping and exhausted. Many others of the crew were carried, in a
similar manner, to places of safety; though, as Tom returned to his
seat on the bowsprit, he could not conceal, from his reluctant eyes,
the lifeless forms that were, in other spots, driven against the rocks,
with a fury that soon left them but few of the outward vestiges of
Dillon and the cockswain were now the sole occupants of their
dreadful station. The former stood, in a kind of stupid despair, a
witnessof the scene we have related; but as his curdled blood began
again to flow more warmly through his heart, he crept close to the side
of Tom, with that sort of selfish feeling that makes even hopeless
misery more tolerable, when endured in participation with another.
"When the tide falls," he said, in a voice that betrayed the agony
of fear, though his words expressed the renewal of hope, "we shall be
able to walk to land."
"There was One, and only One, to whose feet the waters were the
same as a dry deck," returned the cockswain; "and none but such as have
his power will ever be able to walk from these rocks to the sands." The
old seaman paused, and turning his eyes, which exhibited a mingled
expression of disgust and compassion, on his companion, he added, with
reverence—"Had you thought more of him in fair weather, your case
would be less to be pitied in this tempest."
"Do you still think there is much danger?" asked Dillon.
"To them that have reason to fear death; listen! do you hear that
hollow noise beneath ye?"
"'Tis the wind, driving by the vessel!"
"'Tis the poor thing herself," said the affected cockswain, "giving
her last groans. The water is breaking up her decks, and in a few
minutes more, the handsomest model that ever cut a wave, will be like
the chips that fell from her timbers in framing!"
"Why, then, did you remain here!" cried Dillon, wildly.
"To die in my coffin, if it should be the will of God," returned
Tom; "these waves, to me,are what the land is to you; I was born on
them, and I have always meant that they should be my grave."
"But I—I," shrieked Dillon, "I am not ready to die!—I cannot
die!—I will not die!"
"Poor wretch!" muttered his companion; "you must go, like the rest
of us; when the death-watch is called, none can skulk from the muster."
"I can swim," Dillon continued, rushing, with frantic eagerness, to
the side of the wreck. "Is there no billet of wood, no rope, that I can
take with me?"
"None; every thing has been cut away, or carried off by the sea. If
ye are about to strive for your life, take with ye a stout heart and a
clean conscience, and trust the rest to God!"
"God!" echoed Dillon, in the madness of his frenzy; "I know no God!
there is no God that knows me!"
"Peace!" said the deep tones of the cockswain, in a voice that
seemed to speak in the elements; "blasphemer, peace!"
The heavy groaning, produced by the water, in the timbers of the
Ariel, at that moment, added its impulse to the raging feelings of
Dillon, and he cast himself headlong into the sea.
The water, thrown by the rolling of the surf on the beach, was
necessarily returned to the ocean, in eddies, in different places,
favourable to such an action of the element. Into the edge of one of
these counter-currents, that was produced by the very rocks on which
the schooner lay, and which the watermen call the "under-tow," Dillon
had, unknowingly, thrown his person, and when the waves had driven him
a short distance from the wreck, he was met by a stream that hismost
desperate efforts could not overcome. He was a light and powerful
swimmer, and the struggle was hard and protracted. With the shore
immediately before his eyes, and at no great distance, he was led, as
by a false phantom, to continue his efforts, although they did not
advance him a foot. The old seaman, who, at first, had watched his
motions with careless indifference, understood the danger of his
situation at a glance, and, forgetful of his own fate, he shouted
aloud, in a voice that was driven over the struggling victim, to the
ears of his shipmates on the sands—
"Sheer to-port, and clear the under-tow! sheer to the southward!"
Dillon heard the sounds, but his faculties were too much obscured
by terror, to distinguish their object; he, however, blindly yielded to
the call, and gradually changed his direction, until his face was once
more turned towards the vessel. The current swept him diagonally by the
rocks, and he was forced into an eddy, where he had nothing to contend
against but the waves, whose violence was much broken by the wreck. In
this state, he continued still to struggle, but with a force that was
too much weakened, to overcome the resistance he met. Tom looked around
him for a rope, but not one presented itself to his hands; all had gone
over with the spars, or been swept away by the waves. At this moment of
disappointment, his eyes met those of the desperate Dillon. Calm, and
inured to horrors, as was the veteran seaman, he involuntarily passed
his hand before his brow, as if to exclude the look of despair he
encountered; and when, a moment afterwards, he removed the rigid
member, he beheld the sinking form of the victim, as it gradually
settled in the ocean, still struggling, with regular but impotent
strokes of the arms and feet, to gain the wreck, and to preserve an
existence that had been so much abused in its hour of allotted
"He will soon know his God, and learn that his God knows him!"
murmured the cockswain to himself. As he yet spoke, the wreck of the
Ariel yielded to an overwhelming sea, and, after an universal shudder,
her timbers and planks gave way, and were swept towards the cliffs,
bearing the body of the simple-hearted cockswain among the ruins.
"Let us think of them that sleep,
Full many a fathom deep,
By thy wild and stormy steep,
Long and dreary did the hours appear to Barnstable, before the
falling tide had so far receded, as to leave the sands entirely exposed
to his search for the bodies of his lost shipmates. Several had been
rescued from the wild fury of the waves themselves, and one by one, as
the melancholy conviction that life had ceased was forced on the
survivors, they had been decently interred, in graves dug on the very
margin of that element on which they had passed their lives. But still
the form longest known and most beloved was missing, and the lieutenant
paced the broad space that was now left between the foot of the cliffs
and the raging ocean, with hurried strides and a feverish eye, watching
and following those fragments of the wreck that the sea still continued
to cast on the beach. Living and dead, he now found, that of those who
had lately been in the Ariel, only two were missing. Of the former, he
could muster but twelve, besides Merry and himself, and his men had
already interredmore than half that number of the latter, which,
together, embraced all who had trusted their lives to the frail keeping
of the whale-boat.
"Tell me not, boy, of the impossibility of his being safe," said
Barnstable, in deep agitation, which he in vain struggled to conceal
from the anxious youth, who thought it necessary to follow the uneasy
motions of his commander, as he strode along the sands. "How often have
men been found floating on pieces of wreck, days after the loss of
their vessel? and you can see, with your own eyes, that the falling
water has swept the planks this distance; ay, a good half league from
where she struck. Does the look-out, from the top of the cliffs, make
no signal of seeing him yet?"
"None, sir, none; we shall never see him again. The men say, that
he always thought it sinful to desert a wreck, and that he did not even
strike-out once for his life, though he has been known to swim an hour,
when a whale has stove his boat. God knows, sir," added the boy,
hastily dashing a tear from his eye, by a stolen movement of his hand,
that was occasioned by the doubtful character of his years, "I loved
Tom Coffin better than any foremast-man in either vessel. You seldom
came aboard the frigate but we had him in the steerage among us
reefers, to hear his long-yarns, and share our cheer. We all loved him,
Mr. Barnstable, but love cannot bring the dead to life again."
"I know it, I know it," said Barnstable, with a huskiness in his
voice, that betrayed the depth of his emotion; "I am not so foolish as
to believe in impossibilities; but while there is a hope of his living,
I will never abandon poor Tom Coffin to such a dreadful fate. Think,
boy, hemay, at this moment, be looking at us, and praying to his Maker
that he would turn our eyes upon him; ay, praying to his God, for Tom
often prayed, though he did it in his watch, standing, and in silence."
"If he had clung to life so strongly," returned the midshipman, "he
would have struggled harder to preserve it."
Barnstable stopped short in his hurried walk, and fastened a look
of opening conviction on his companion; but, as he was about to speak
in reply, the shouts of the seamen reached his ears, and, turning, they
saw the whole party running along the beach, and motioning, with
violent gestures, to an intermediate point in the ocean. The lieutenant
and Merry hurried back, and, as they approached the men, they
distinctly observed a human figure, borne along by the waves, at
moments seeming to rise above them, and already floating in the last of
the breakers. They had hardly ascertained so much, when a heavy swell
carried the inanimate body far upon the sands, where it was left by the
"'Tis my cockswain!" cried Barnstable, rushing to the spot. He
stopped suddenly, however, as he came within view of the features, and
it was some little time before he appeared to have collected his
faculties sufficiently to add, in tones of deep horror—"what wretch is
this, boy! his form is unmutilated, and yet observe the eyes! they seem
as if the sockets would not contain them, and they gaze as wildly as if
their owner yet had life—the hands are open and spread, as though they
would still buffet the waves!"
"The Jonah! the Jonah!" shouted the seamen, with savage exultation,
as they successively approached the corpse; "away with his carrioninto
the sea again! give him to the sharks! let him tell his lies in the
claws of the lobsters!"
Barnstable had turned away from the revolting sight, in disgust,
but when he discovered these indications of impotent revenge, in the
remnant of his crew, he said, in that voice, which all respected, and
"Stand back! back with ye, fellows! would you disgrace your manhood
and seamanship, by wreaking your vengeance on him whom God has already
in judgment!" A silent, but significant gesture towards the earth,
succeeded his words, and he walked slowly away.
"Bury him in the sands, boys," said Merry, when his commander was
at some little distance; "the next tide will unearth him."
The seamen obeyed his orders, while the midshipman rejoined his
commander, who continued to pace along the beach, occasionally halting,
to throw his uneasy glances over the water, and then hurrying onward,
at a rate that caused his youthful companion to exert his greatest
power to maintain the post he had taken at his side. Every effort to
discover the lost cockswain was, however, after two hours' more search,
abandoned as fruitless, and with reason; for the sea was never known to
give up the body of the man who might be, emphatically, called its own
"There goes the sun, already dropping behind the cliffs," said the
lieutenant, throwing himself on a rock; "and the hour will soon arrive
to set the dog-watches; but we have nothing left to watch over, boy;
the surf and rocks have not even left us a whole plank, that we may lay
our heads on for the night."
"The men have gathered many articles on you beach, sir," returned
the lad; "they havefound arms to defend ourselves with, and food to
give us strength to use them."
"And who shall be our enemy?" asked Barnstable, bitterly; "shall we
shoulder our dozen pikes, and carry England by boarding?"
"We may not lay the whole island under contribution," continued the
boy, anxiously watching the expression of his commander's eye; "but we
may still keep ourselves in work, until the cutter returns from the
frigate. I hope, sir, you do not think our case so desperate, as to
intend yielding as prisoners."
"Prisoners!" exclaimed the lieutenant; "no, no, lad, it has not got
to that, yet! England has been able to wreck my craft, I must concede,
but she has, as yet, obtained no other advantage over us. She was a
precious model, Merry! the cleanest run, and the neatest entrance, that
art ever united on the stem and stern of the same vessel! Do you
remember the time, younker, when I gave the frigate my topsails, in
beating out of the Chesapeake? I could always do it, in smooth water,
with a whole-sail-breeze. But she was a frail thing! a frail thing,
boy, and could bear but little."
"A mortar-ketch would have thumped to pieces where she lay,"
returned the midshipman.
"Ay, it was asking too much of her, to expect she could hold
together on a bed of rocks. Merry, I loved her; dearly did I love her;
she was my first command, and I knew and loved every timber and bolt in
her beautiful frame!"
"I believe it is as natural, sir, for a seaman to love the wood and
iron in which he has floated over the depths of the ocean, for so many
days and nights," rejoined the boy, "as it is for a father to love the
members of his own family."
"Quite, quite, ay, more so," said Barnstable, speaking as if he
were choked by emotion. Merry felt the heavy grasp of the lieutenant on
his slight arm, while his commander continued, in a voice that
gradually increased in power, as his feelings predominated; "and yet,
boy, a human being cannot love the creature of his own formation as he
does the works of God. A man can never regard his ship as he does his
shipmates. I sailed with him, boy, when every thing seemed bright and
happy, as at your age; when, as he often expressed it, I knew nothing
and feared nothing. I was then a truant from an old father and a kind
mother, and he did that for me, which no parents could have done in my
situation—he was my father and mother on the deep!—hours, days, even
months, has he passed in teaching me the art of our profession; and
now, in my manhood, he has followed me from ship to ship, from sea to
sea, and has only quitted me to die, where I should have died—as if he
felt the disgrace of abandoning the poor Ariel to her fate, by
"No—no—no—'twas his superstitious pride!" interrupted Merry; but
perceiving that the head of Barnstable had sunk between his hands, as
if he would conceal his emotion, the boy added no more, but he sat
respectfully watching the display of feeling that his officer, in vain,
endeavoured to suppress. Merry felt his own form quiver with sympathy
at the shuddering which passed through Barnstable's frame; and the
relief experienced by the lieutenant himself, was not greater than that
which the midshipman felt, as the latter beheld large tears forcing
their way through the other's fingers, and falling on the sands at his
feet. They were followed by a violent burst of emotion, suchas is
seldom exhibited in the meridian of life, but which, when it conquers
the nature of one who has buffeted the chances of the world with the
loftiness of his sex and character, breaks down every barrier, and
seems to sweep before it, like a rushing torrent, all the factitious
defences which habit and education have created to protect the pride of
manhood. Merry had often beheld the commanding severity of the
lieutenant's manner, in moments of danger, with deep respect; he had
been drawn towards him by kindness and affection, in times of gayety
and recklessness; but he now sate, for many minutes, profoundly silent,
regarding his officer with sensations that were nearly allied to awe.
The struggle with himself was long and severe in the bosom of
Barnstable; but, at length, the calm of relieved passions succeeded to
his emotion. When he arose from the rock, and removed his hands from
his features, his eye was hard and proud, his brow slightly contracted,
and he spoke in a voice so harsh, that it startled his companion—
"Come, sir; why are we here and idle! are not yon poor fellows
looking up to us for advice, and orders how to proceed in this
exigency? Away, away, Mr. Merry; it is not a time to be drawing figures
in the sand with your dirk; the flood-tide will soon be in, and we may
be glad to hide our heads in some cavern among these rocks. Let us be
stirring, sir, while we have the sun, and muster enough food and arms
to keep life in us, and our enemies off us, until we can once more get
The wondering boy, whose experience had not yet taught him to
appreciate the reaction of the passions, started at this unexpected
summons to his duty, and followed Barnstable towards the group of
distant seamen. The lieutenant, who was instantly conscious how far
pride had rendered him unjust, soon moderated his long strides, and
continued in milder tones, which were quickly converted into his usual
frank communications, though they still remained tinged with a
melancholy, that time only could entirely remove—
"We have been unlucky, Mr. Merry, but we need not despair—these
lads have gotten together abundance of supplies, I see; and, with our
arms, we can easily make ourselves masters of some of the enemy's
smaller craft, and find our way back to the frigate, when this gale has
blown itself out. We must keep ourselves close, though, or we shall
have the red-coats coming down upon us, like so many sharks around a
wreck. Ah! God bless her, Merry! there is not such a sight to be seen
on the whole beach as two of her planks holding together."
The midshipman, without adverting to this sudden allusion to their
vessel, prudently pursued the train of ideas, in which his commander
"There is an opening into the country, but a short distance south
of us, where a brook empties into the sea," he said. "We might find a
cover in it, or in the wood above, into which it leads, until we can
have a survey of the coast, or can seize some vessel to carry us off."
"There would be a satisfaction in waiting 'till the morning watch,
and then carrying that accursed battery, which took off the better leg
of the poor Ariel!" said the lieutenant—"the thing might be done, boy;
and we could hold the work too, until the Alacrity and the frigate draw
"If you prefer storming works to boarding vessels, there is a
fortress of stone, Mr. Barnstable, which lies directly on our beam. I
could see it through the haze, when I was on the cliffs, stationing the
"And what, boy? speak without fear; this is a time for free
"Why, sir, the garrison might not be all hostile—we should
liberate Mr. Griffith and the marine; besides—"
"Besides what, sir?"
"I should have an opportunity, perhaps, of seeing my cousin
Cecilia, and my cousin Katherine."
The countenance of Barnstable grew animated as he listened, and he
answered, with something of his usual cheerful manner—
"Ay, that, indeed, would be a work worth carrying! and the rescuing
of our shipmates, and the marines, would read like a thing of military
discretion—ha! boy! all the rest would be incidental, younker; like
the capture of the fleet, after you have whipped the convoy."
"I do suppose, sir, that if the Abbey be taken, Colonel Howard will
own himself a prisoner of war."
"And Colonel Howard's wards! now, there is good sense in this
scheme of thine, Master Merry, and I will give it proper reflection.
But here are our poor fellows; speak cheeringly to them, sir, that we
may hold them in temper for our enterprise."
Barnstable and the midshipman joined their shipwrecked companions,
with that air of authority which is seldom wanting between the superior
and the inferior, in nautical intercourse, but at the same time, with a
kindness of speech and looks, that might have been a little increased
bytheir critical situation. After partaking of the food which had been
selected from among the fragments that still lay scattered, for more
than a mile, along the beach, the lieutenant directed the seamen to arm
themselves with such weapons as offered, and, also, to make a
sufficient provision, from the schooner's stores, to last them for
four-and-twenty hours longer. These orders were soon executed; and the
whole party, led by Barnstable and Merry, proceeded along the foot of
the cliffs, in quest of the opening in the rocks, through which the
little rivulet found a passage to the ocean. The weather contributed,
as much as the seclusion of the spot, to prevent any discovery of the
small party, which pursued its object with a disregard of caution that
might, under other circumstances, have proved fatal to its safety.
Barnstable paused in his march when they had all entered the deep
ravine, and ascended nearly to the brow of the precipice, that formed
one of its sides, to take a last and more scrutinizing survey of the
sea. His countenance exhibited the abandonment of all hope, as his eye
moved slowly from the northern to the southern boundary of the horizon,
and he prepared to pursue his march, by moving, reluctantly, up the
stream, when the boy, who still clung to his side, exclaimed—
"Sail ho! It must be the frigate in the offing!"
"A sail!" repeated his commander; "where-away do you see a sail in
this tempest? Can there be another as hardy and unfortunate as
"Look to the starboard hand of the point of rock to windward!"
cried the boy; "now you lose it—ah! now the sun falls upon it! 'tis a
sail,sir, as sure as canvass can be spread in such a gale!"
"I see what you mean," returned the other, "but it seems a gull,
skimming the sea! nay, now it rises, indeed, and shows itself like a
bellying topsail; pass up that glass, lads; here is a fellow in the
offing who may prove a friend."
Merry waited the result of the lieutenant's examination with
youthful impatience, and did not fail to ask, immediately—
"Can you make it out, sir? is it the ship or the cutter?"
"Come, there seemeth yet some hope left for us, boy," returned
Barnstable, closing the glass; "'tis a ship, lying-to under her
main-topsail. If one did but dare show himself on these heights, he
might raise her hull, and make sure of her character! But I think I
know her spars, though even her topsail dips, at times, when there is
nothing to be seen but her bare poles, and they shortened by her
"One would swear," said Merry, laughing, as much through the
excitement produced by this intelligence, as at his conceit, "that
Captain Munson would never carry wood aloft, when he can't carry
canvass. I remember, one night, Mr. Griffith was a little vexed, and
said, around the capstern, he believed the next order would be, to rig
in the bowsprit, and house lower-masts!"
"Ay, ay, Griffith is a lazy dog, and sometimes gets lost in the
fogs of his own thoughts," said Barnstable; "and I suppose old Moderate
was in a breeze. However, this looks as if he were in earnest; he must
have kept the ship away, or she would never have been where she is; I
do verily believe the old gentleman remembers that he has a few of his
officers and men on this accursed island. This is well, Merry, for
should we take the Abbey, we have a place at hand in which to put our
"We must have patience till the morning," added the boy, "for no
boat would attempt to land in such a sea."
"No boat could land! The best boat that ever floated, boy, has sunk
in these breakers! But the wind lessens, and before morning, the sea
will fall. Let us on, and find a birth for our poor lads, where they
can be made more comfortable."
The two officers now descended from their elevation, and led the
way still further up the deep and narrow dell, until, as the ground
rose gradually before them, they found themselves in a dense wood, on a
level with the adjacent country.
"Here should be a ruin at hand, if I have kept a true reckoning,
and know my courses and distances," said Barnstable; "I have a chart
about me, that speaks of such a land-mark."
The lieutenant turned away from the laughing expression of the
boy's eye, as the latter archly inquired—
"Was it made by one who knows the coast well, sir? or was it done
by some school-boy, to learn his maps, as the girls work samplers?"
"Come, younker, no sampler of your impudence. But look ahead; can
you see any habitation that has been deserted?"
"Ay, sir, here is a pile of stones before us, that looks as dirty
and ragged, as if it was a soldier's barrack; can this be what you
"Faith, this has been a whole town in its day! we should call it a
city in America, and furnish it with a Mayor, Aldermen, and
Recorder—you might stow old Faneuil-Hall in one of its lockers."
With this sort of careless dialogue, which Barnstable engaged in,
that his men might discover no alteration in his manner, they
approached the mouldering walls that had proved so frail a protection
to the party under Griffith.
A short time was passed in examining the premises, when the wearied
seamen took possession of one of the dilapidated apartments, and
disposed themselves to seek that rest of which they had been deprived
by the momentous occurrences of the past night.
Barnstable waited until the loud breathing of the seamen assured
him that they slept, when he aroused the drowsy boy, who was fast
losing his senses in the same sort of oblivion, and motioned to him to
follow. Merry arose, and they stole together from the apartment, with
guarded steps, and penetrated more deeply into the gloomy recesses of
—"I permit thee to be Sosia again."
We must leave the two adventurers winding their way among the
broken piles, and venturing boldly beneath the tottering arches of the
ruin, to conduct the reader, at the same hour, within the more
comfortable walls of the Abbey; where, it will be remembered,
Borroughcliffe was left, in a condition of very equivocal ease. As the
earth had, however, in the interval, nearly run its daily round,
circumstances had intervened to release the soldier from his
confinement—and no one, ignorant of the fact, would suppose, that the
gentleman who was now seated at the hospitable board of Colonel Howard,
directing, with so much discretion, the energies of his masticators to
the delicacies of the feast, could read, in his careless air and
smiling visage, that those foragers of nature had been so recently
condemned, for four long hours, to the mortification of discussing the
barren subject of his own sword-hilt. Borroughcliffe, however,
maintained not only his usual post, but his well-earned reputation at
the table, with his ordinary coolness of demeanour; though, at times,
there were passing smiles, thatcrossed his military aspect, which
sufficiently indicated, that he considered the matter of his reflection
to be of a particularly ludicrous character. In the young man, who sat
by his side, dressed in the deep blue jacket of a seaman, with the
fine, clean linen of his collar contrasting strongly with the black
silk handkerchief, that was tied, with studied negligence, around his
neck, and whose easy air and manner contrasted still more strongly with
this attire, the reader will discover Griffith. The captive paid much
less devotion to the viands than his neighbour, though he affected more
attention to the business of the table than he actually bestowed, with
a sort of consciousness that it would relieve the blushing maiden who
presided. The laughing eyes of Katherine Plowden were glittering by the
side of the mild countenance of Alice Dunscombe, and, at times, were
fastened, in droll interest, on the rigid and upright exterior that
Captain Manual maintained, directly opposite to where she was seated. A
chair had, also, been placed for Dillon—of course, it was vacant.
"And so, Borroughcliffe," cried Colonel Howard, with a freedom of
voice, and a vivacity in his air, that announced the increasing harmony
of the repast, "the sea-dog left you nothing to chew but the cud of
"That and my sword-hilt!" returned the immoveable recruiting
officer; "gentlemen, I know not how your Congress rewards military
achievements; but if that worthy fellow were in my company, he should
have a halbert within a week— spurs I would not offer him, for he
affects to spurn their use."
Griffith smiled, and bowed in silence to the liberal compliment of
Borroughcliffe; but Manual took on himself the task of replying—
"Considering the drilling the man has received, his conduct has
been well enough, sir; though a well-trained soldier would not only
have made prisoners, but he would have secured them."
"I perceive, my good comrade, that your thoughts are running on the
exchange," said Borroughcliffe, good humouredly; "we will fill, sir,
and, by permission of the ladies, drink to a speedy restoration of
rights to both parties—the statu quo ante bellum."
"With all my heart," cried the colonel; "and Cicily and Miss
Katherine will pledge the sentiment in a woman's sip; will ye not, my
fair wards?—Mr. Griffith, I honour this proposition of yours, which
will not only liberate yourself, but restore to us my kinsman, Mr.
Christopher Dillon. Kit had imagined the thing well; ha!
Borroughcliffe! 'twas ingeniously contrived, but the fortune of war
interposed itself to his success; and yet, it is a deep and
inexplicable mystery to me, how Kit should have been conducted from the
Abbey with so little noise, and without raising the alarm."
"Christopher is a man who understands the philosophy of silence, as
well as that of rhetoric," returned Borroughcliffe, "and must have
learned, in his legal studies, that it is, sometimes, necessary to
conduct matters sub silentio. You smile at my Latin, Miss Plowden; but,
really, since I have become an inhabitant of this Monkish abode, my
little learning is stimulated to unwonted efforts—nay, you are pleased
to be yet more merry! I used the language, because silence is a theme
in which you ladies take but little pleasure."
Katherine, however, disregarded the slight pique that was apparent
in the soldier's manner; but, after following the train of her own
thoughtsin silent enjoyment for a moment longer, she seemed to yield to
their drollery, and laughed, until her dark eyes flashed with
merriment. Cecilia did not assume the severe gravity with which she
sometimes endeavoured to repress, what she thought, the unseasonable
mirth of her cousin, and the wondering Griffith fancied, as he glanced
his eye from one to the other, that he could discern a suppressed smile
playing among the composed features of Alice Dunscombe. Katherine,
however, soon succeeded in repressing the paroxysm, and, with an air of
infinitely comic gravity, she replied to the remark of the soldier—
"I think I have heard of such a process in nautical affairs as
towing; but I must appeal to Mr. Griffith for the correctness of the
"You could not speak with more accuracy," returned the young
sailor, with a look that sent the conscious blood to the temples of the
lady, "though you had made marine terms your study."
"The profession requires less thought, perhaps, than you imagine,
sir; but is this towing often done, as Captain Borroughcliffe—I beg
his pardon—as the Monks have it, sub silentio?"
"Spare me, fair lady," cried the captain, "and we will establish a
compact of mutual grace; you to forgive my learning, and I to suppress
"Suspicions, sir, is a word that a lady must defy."
"And defiance a challenge that a soldier can never receive; so, I
must submit to talk English, though the fathers of the church were my
companions. I suspect that Miss Plowden has it in her power to explain
the manner of Mr. Christopher Dillon's departure."
The lady did not reply, but a second burst ofmerriment succeeded,
of a liveliness and duration quite equal to the former.
"How's this!" exclaimed the colonel; "permit me to say, Miss
Plowden, your mirth is very extraordinary! I trust no disrespect has
been offered to my kinsman? Mr. Griffith, our terms are, that the
exchange shall only be made on condition that equally good treatment
has been extended to the parties!"
"If Mr. Dillon can complain of no greater evil than that of being
laughed at by Miss Plowden, sir, he has reason to call himself a happy
"I know not, sir; God forbid that I should forget what is due to my
guests, gentlemen— but ye have entered my dwelling as foes to my
"But not to Colonel Howard, sir."
"I know no difference, Mr. Griffith. King George or Colonel
Howard—Colonel Howard or King George. Our feelings, our fortunes, and
our fate, is as one; with the mighty odds that Providence has
established between the prince and his people! I wish no other fortune,
than to share, at a humble distance, the weal or wo of my sovereign!"
"You are not called upon, dear sir, to do either, by the
thoughtlessness of us ladies," said Cecilia, rising; "but here comes
one who should turn our thoughts to a more important subject— our
Politeness induced Colonel Howard, who both loved and respected his
niece, to defer his remarks to another time; and Katherine, springing
from her chair, with childish eagerness, flew to the side of her
cousin, who was directing a servant that had announced to her the
arrival of one of those erratic vendors of small articles, whosupply,
in remote districts of the country, the places of more regular traders,
to show the lad into the dining-parlour. The repast was so far ended,
as to render this interruption less objectionable, and as all felt the
object of Cecilia to be the restoration of harmony, the boy was ushered
into the room, without further delay. The contents of his small basket,
consisting, chiefly, of essences, and the smaller articles of female
economy, were playfully displayed on the table, by Katherine, who
declared herself the patroness of the itinerant youth, and who
laughingly appealed to the liberality of the gentlemen in behalf of her
"You perceive, my dear guardian, that the boy must be loyal; for he
offers, here, perfume, that is patronized by no less than two royal
dukes! do suffer me to place a box aside, for your especial use? you
consent; I see it in your eye. And, Captain Borroughcliffe, as you
appear to be forgetting the use of your own language, here is even a
horn-book for you! How admirably provided he seems to be! You must have
had St. Ruth in view, when you laid in your stock, child?"
"Yes, my lady," the boy replied, with a bow that was studiously
awkward; "I have often heard of the grand ladies that dwell in the old
Abbey, and I have journeyed a few miles beyond my rounds, to gain their
"And surely they cannot disappoint you. Miss Howard, that is a
palpable hint to your purse; and I know not that even Miss Alice can
escape contribution, in these troublesome times. Come, aid me, child;
what have you to recommend, in particular, to the favour of these
The lad approached the basket, and rummaged its contents, for a
moment, with the appearance of deep, mercenary interest; and then,
without lifting his hand from the confusion he had caused, he said,
while he exhibited something to the view of his smiling observer—
"This, my lady."
Katherine started, and glanced her eye, with a piercing look, at
the countenance of the boy, and then turned them, uneasily, from face
to face, with conscious timidity. Cecilia had effected her object, and
had resumed her seat, in silent abstraction—Alice was listening to the
remarks of Captain Manual and the host, as they discussed the propriety
of certain military usages— Griffith seemed to hold communion with his
mistress, by imitating her silence; but Katherine, in her stolen
glances, met the keen look of Borroughcliffe, fastened on her face, in
a manner that did not fail to suspend the scrutiny.
"Come, Cecilia," she cried, after a pause of a moment, "we trespass
too long on the patience of the gentlemen; not only to keep possession
of our seats, ten minutes after the cloth has been drawn! but even to
introduce our essences, and tapes, and needles, among the Madeira,
and—shall I add, segars, colonel?"
"Not while we are favoured with the company of Miss Plowden,
"Come, my coz; I perceive the colonel is growing particularly
polite, which is a never-failing sign that he tires of our presence."
Cecilia rose, and was leading the way to the door, when Katherine
turned to the lad, and added—
"You can follow us to the drawing-room, child, where we can make
our purchases, without exposing the mystery of our good looks."
"Miss Plowden has forgotten my horn-book,I believe," said
Borroughcliffe, advancing from the standing group who surrounded the
table; "possibly I can find some work, better fitted for the
improvement of a grown-up young gentleman, than this elementary
treatise, in the basket of the boy."
Cecilia, observing him to take the basket from the lad, resumed her
seat, and her example was necessarily followed by Katherine; though not
without some manifest indications of vexation.
"Come hither, boy, and explain the uses of your wares. This is
soap, and this a penknife, I know; but what name do you affix to this?"
"That? that is tape," returned the lad, with an impatience that
might very naturally be attributed to the interruption that was thus
given to his trade.
"That?" repeated the stripling, pausing, with a hesitation between
sulkiness and doubt; "that?—"
"Come, this is a little ungallant!" cried Katherine; "to keep three
ladies dying with impatience to possess themselves of their finery,
while you detain the boy, to ask the name of a tambouring-needle!"
"I should apologize for asking questions that are so easily
answered; but perhaps he will find the next more difficult to solve,"
returned Borroughcliffe, placing the subject of his inquiries in the
palm of his hand, in such a manner as to conceal it from all but the
boy and himself. "This has a name, too; what is it?"
"That?—that—is sometimes called—whiteline."
"Perhaps you mean a white lie?"
"How, sir!" exclaimed the lad, a little fiercely. "a lie!"filled
the sentence with expressions abundantly flattering to his own
"How's this, again!" cried the colonel; "my two wards embracing and
fondling a vagrant, vagabond pedler, before my eyes! is this treason,
Mr. Griffith? or what means the extraordinary visit of this young
"Is it extraordinary, sir," said Merry himself, losing his assumed
awkwardness, in the ease and confidence of one whose faculties had been
early exercised, "that a boy, like myself, destitute of mother and
sisters, should take a little risk on himself, to visit the only two
female relatives he has in the world?"
"Why this disguise, then? surely, young gentleman, it was
unnecessary to enter the dwelling of old George Howard, on such an
errand, clandestinely, even though your tender years have been
practised on, to lead you astray from your allegiance. Mr. Griffith and
Captain Manual must pardon me, if I express sentiments, at my own
table, that they may find unpleasant; but this business requires us to
"The hospitality of Colonel Howard is unquestionable," returned the
boy; "but he has a great reputation for his loyalty to the crown."
"Ay, young gentleman; and, I trust, with some justice."
"Would it, then, be safe, to intrust my person in the hands of one
who might think it his duty to detain me?"
"This is plausible enough, Captain Borroughcliffe, and I doubt not
the boy speaks with candour. I would, now, that my kinsman, Mr.
Christopher Dillon, were here, that I might learn if it would be
misprision of treason, to permit this youth to depart, unmolested, and
without exchange?"who deserve either the name of traitors or of
"Said you not that he was dead? that my kinsman was buried in the
sands of the seashore?"
"Both are true, sir—"
"And you refuse to explain how he met his death, and why he has
been thus ignominiously interred?"
"He received his interment by my orders, sir; and if there be
ignominy about his grave, his own acts have heaped it on him. As to the
manner of his death, I cannot, and will not speak."
"Be calm, my cousin," said Cecilia, in an imploring voice; "respect
the age of my uncle, and remember his strong attachment to Mr. Dillon."
The veteran had, however, so far mastered his feelings, as to
continue the dialogue with more recollection.
"Mr. Griffith," he said, "I shall not act hastily—you and your
companion will be pleased to retire to your several apartments. I will
so far respect the son of my brother Harry's friend, as to believe your
parole will be sacred. Go, gentlemen; you are unguarded."
The two prisoners bowed low to the ladies and their host, and
retired. Griffith, however, lingered a moment on the threshold, to
"Colonel Howard, I leave the boy to your kindness and
consideration. I know you will not forget that his blood mingles with
that of one who is most dear to you."
"Enough, enough, sir," said the veteran, waving his hand to him to
retire; "and you, ladies; this is not a place for you, either."
"Never will I quit this child," said Katherine, "while such a
horrid imputation lies on him.arrived, to save the poor fellow's
feelings, for I detest tampering with such a noble spirit. I saw, by
his eye, that he had squinted oftener over a gun, than through a
"But they have murdered my kinsman!—the loyal, the learned, the
ingenious Mr. Christopher Dillon!"
"If they have done so, they shall be made to answer it," said
Borroughcliffe, re-seating himself at the table, with a coolness that
furnished a pledge of the impartiality of his judgment; "but let us
learn the facts, before we do aught hastily."
Colonel Howard was fain to comply with so reasonable a proposition,
and he resumed his chair, while his companion proceeded to institute a
close examination of the pedler boy.
We shall defer, until the proper time may arrive, recording the
result of his inquiries; but shall so far satisfy the curiosity of our
readers, as to tell them, that the captain learned sufficient to
convince him, a very serious attempt was meditated on the Abbey; and,
as he thought, enough, also, to enable him to avert the danger.
I have not seen so likely an ambassador of love.
— Merchant of Venice
Cecilia and Katherine separated from Alice Dunscombe in the lower
gallery of the cloisters; and the cousins ascended to the apartment
which was assigned them as a dressing-room. The intensity of feeling
that was gradually accumulating in the breasts of these ladies, as
circumstances brought those in whom their deepest interests were
centered, into situations of extreme delicacy, if not of actual danger,
perhaps, in some measure, prevented them from experiencing all that
concern which the detection and arrest of Merrry might be suppose to
excite. The boy, like themselves, was an only child of one of those
three sisters, who caused the close connexion between so many of our
characters, and his tender years had led his cousins to regard him with
an affection that exceeded the ordinary interest of such an affinity;
but they knew, that in the hands of Colonel Howard his person was safe,
though his liberty might be endangered. When the first emotions,
therefore, were createdby his sudden appearance, after so long an
absence, had subsided, their thoughts were rather occupied by the
consideration of what consequences, to others, might proceed from his
arrest, than by any reflections on the midshipman's actual condition.
Secluded from the observations of any strange eyes, the two maidens
indulged their feelings, without restraint, according to their several
temperaments. Katherine moved to and fro, in the apartment, with
feverish anxiety, while Miss Howard, by concealing her countenance
under the ringlets of her luxuriant, dark hair, and shading her eyes
with a fair hand, seemed to be willing to commune with her thoughts
"Barnstable cannot be far distant," said the former, after a few
minutes had passed; "for he never would have sent that child on such an
errand, by himself!"
Cecilia raised her mild, blue eyes to the countenance of her
cousin, as she answered—
"All thoughts of an exchange must now be abandoned; and perhaps the
persons of the prisoners will be held as pledges, to answer for the
life of Dillon."
"Can the wretch be dead! or is it merely a threat, or some device
of that urchin? he is a forward child, and would not hesitate to speak
and act boldly, on emergency."
"He is dead!" returned Cecilia, veiling her face again, in horror;
"the eyes of the boy, his whole countenance, confirmed his words! I
fear, Katherine, that Mr. Barnstable has suffered his resentment to
overcome his discretion, when he learned the treachery of Dillon;
surely, surely, though the hard usages of war may justify so dreadful a
revenge on an enemy, it was unkind to forget the condition of his own
"Mr. Barnstable has done neither, Miss Howard," said Katherine,
checking her uneasy footsteps, her light form swelling with pride; "Mr.
Barnstable is equally incapable of murdering an enemy, or of deserting
"But retaliation is neither deemed nor called murder, by men in
"Think it what you will, call it what you will, Cecilia Howard, I
will pledge my life, that Richard Barnstable has the blood of none but
the open enemies of his country to answer for."
"The miserable man may have fallen a sacrifice to the anger of that
terrific seaman, who led him hence as a captive!"
"That terrific seaman, Miss Howard, has a heart as tender as your
own. He is—"
"Nay, Katherine," interrupted Cecilia, "you chide me unkindly; let
us not add to our unavoidable misery, by such harsh contention."
"I do not contend with you, Cecilia! I merely defend the absent and
the innocent from your unkind suspicions, my cousin."
"Say, rather, your sister," returned Miss Howard, as their hands
involuntarily closed upon each other, "for we are surely sisters! But
let us strive to think of something less horrible. Poor, poor Dillon!
now that he has met a fate so terrible, I can even fancy him less
artful and more upright than we had thought him! You agree with me,
Katherine, I see by your countenance, and we will dwell no longer on
the subject.—Katherine! my cousin Kate, what see you?"
Miss Plowden, as she relinquished her pressure of the hand of
Cecilia, had renewed her walk with a more regulated step; but she was
yet making her first turn across the room, when her eyes became keenly
set on the opposite window, and herwhole frame was held in an attitude
of absorbed attention. The rays of the setting sun fell bright upon her
dark glances, which seemed fastened on some distant object, and gave an
additional glow to the mantling colour that was slowly stealing, across
her cheeks, to her temples. Such a sudden alteration in the manner and
appearance of her companion, had not failed to catch the attention of
Cecilia, who, in consequence, interrupted herself by the agitated
question we have related. Katherine slowly beckoned her companion to
her side, and, pointing in the direction of the wood that lay in view,
"See you tower, in the ruin! Do you observe those small spots of
pink and yellow that are fluttering above its walls?"
"I do. They are the lingering remnants of the foliage of some tree;
but they want the vivid tints which grace the autumn of our own dear
"One is the work of God, and the other has been produced by the art
of man. Cecilia, those are no leaves, but they are my own childish
signals, and without doubt Barnstable himself is on that ruined tower.
Merry, cannot, will not, betray him!"
"My life should be a pledge for the honour of our little cousin,"
said Cecilia. "But you have the telescope of my uncle at hand, ready
for such an event! one look through it will ascertain the truth—"
Katherine sprang to the spot where the instrument stood, and with
eager hands she prepared it for the necessary observation.
"It is he!" she cried the instant her eye was put to the glass. "I
even see his head above the stones. How unthinking to expose himself so
"But what says he, Katherine!" exclaimed Cecilia; "you alone can
interpret his meaning."
The little book which contained the explanations of Miss Plowden's
signals was now hastily produced, and its leaves rapidly run over in
quest of the necessary number.
" 'Tis only a question to gain my attention. I must let him know he
When Katherine, as much to indulge her secret propensities, as with
any hope of its usefulness, had devised this plan for communicating
with Barnstable, she had, luckily, not forgotten to arrange the
necessary means to reply to his interrogatories. A very simple
arrangement of some of the ornamental cords of the window-curtains,
enabled her to effect this purpose; and her nimble fingers soon
fastened the pieces of silk to the lines, which were now thrown into
the air, when these signals in miniature were instantly displayed in
"He sees them!" cried Cecilia, "and is preparing to change his
"Keep then your eye on him, my cousin, and tell me the colours that
he shows, with their order, and I will endeavour to read his meaning."
"He is as expert as yourself! There are two more of them fluttering
above the stones again: the upper is white, and the lower black."
"White over black," repeated Katherine, rapidly, to herself, as she
turned the leaves of her book.—" 'My messenger: has he been seen?'—To
that we must answer the unhappy truth. Here it is—yellow, white, and
red—'he is a prisoner.' How fortunate that I should have prepared such
a question and answer. What says he, Cecilia, to this news?"
"He is busy making his changes, dear. Nay,Katherine, you shake so
violently as to move the glass! Now he is done; 'tis yellow over black,
" 'Griffith, or who?' He does not understand us; but I had thought
of the poor boy, in making out the numbers—ah! here it is; yellow,
green, and red—'my cousin Merry.'—He cannot fail to understand us
"He has already taken in his flags. The news seems to alarm him,
for he is less expert than before. He shows them now—they are green,
red and yellow."
"The question is, 'Am I safe?' 'Tis that which made him tardy, Miss
Howard," continued Katherine. "Barnstable is ever slow to consult his
safety. But how shall I answer him? should we mislead him now, how
could we ever forgive ourselves!"
"Of Andrew Merry there is no fear," returned Cecilia; "and I think
if Captain Borroughcliffe had any intimation of the proximity of his
enemies, he would not continue at the table."
"He will stay there while wine will sparkle, and man can swallow,"
said Katherine; "but we know, by sad experience, that he is a soldier
on an emergency; and yet, I'll trust to his ignorance this time—here,
I have an answer: 'you are yet safe, but be wary.' "
"He reads your meaning with a quick eye, Katherine; and he is ready
with his answer too: he shows green over white this time. Well! do you
not hear me? 'tis green over white. Why, you are dumb—what says he,
Still Katherine answered not, and her cousin raised her eyes from
the glass, and beheld her companion gazing earnestly at the open page,
while the glow which excitement had before brought to her cheek, was
increased to a still deeper bloom.
"I hope your blushes and his signals are not ominous, Kate," added
Cecilia; "can green imply his jealousy, as white does your purity? what
says he, coz?"
"He talks, like yourself, much nonsense," said Katherine, turning
to her flags, with a pettish air, that was singularly contradicted by
her gratified countenance; "but the situation of things requires that I
should talk to Barnstable more freely."
"I can retire," said Cecilia, rising from her chair with a grave
"Nay, Cecilia, I do not deserve these looks— 'tis you who exhibit
levity now! But you can perceive, for yourself, that evening is closing
in, and that some other medium for conversation, besides the eyes, may
be adopted.—Here is a signal, which will answer: 'When the Abbey clock
strikes nine, come with care to the wicket, which opens, at the east
side of the Paddock, on the road: until then, keep secret.' I had
prepared this very signal, in case an interview should be necessary."
"Well, he sees it," returned Cecilia, who had resumed her place by
the telescope, "and seems disposed to obey you, for I no longer discern
his flags or his person."
Miss Howard now arose from before the glass, her observations being
ended; but Katherine did not return the instrument to its corner,
without fastening one long and anxious look through it, on what now
appeared to be the deserted tower. The interest and anxiety produced by
this short and imperfect communication between Miss Plowden and her
lover, did not fail to excite reflections in both of the ladies, that
furnished materials to holdthem in earnest discourse, until the
entrance of Alice Dunscombe announced that their presence was expected
below. Even the unsuspecting Alice, on entering, observed a change in
the countenances and demeanor of the two cousins, which betrayed that
their secret conference had not been entirely without contention. The
features of Cecilia were disturbed and anxious, and their expression
not unlike melancholy; while the dark flashing eye, flushed temples,
and proud, determined step of Katherine exhihited in an equal, if not a
greater degree, a very different emotion. As no reference to the
subject of their conversation was, however, made by either of the young
ladies, after the endance of Alice, she led the way, in silence, to the
The ladies were received, by Col. Howard and Borroughcliffe, with
marked attention. In the former there were moments when a deep gloom
would, in spite of his very obvious exertions to the contrary, steal
over his open, generous countenance; but the recruiting officer
maintained an air of immovable coolness and composure. Twenty times did
he detect the piercing looks of Katherine fastened on him, with an
intentness, that a less deliberative man might have had the vanity to
misinterpret; but even this flattering testimonial of his power to
attract, failed to disturb his self-possession. It was in vain that
Katherine endeavoured to read his countenance, where every thing was
fixed in military rigidity, though his deportment appeared more than
usually easy and natural. Tired at length with her fruitless scrutiny,
the excited girl turned her gaze upon the clock: to her amazement, she
discovered that it was on the stroke of nine, and, disregarding a
deprecating glance from her cousin, she aroseand quitted the apartment.
Borroughcliffe opened the door for her exit, and, while the lady
civilly bowed her head in acknowledgment of his attention, their eyes
once more met; but she glided quickly by him, and found herself alone
in the gallery. Katherine hesitated, more than a minute, to proceed,
for she thought in that glance she had detected a lurking expression,
that manifested conscious security mingled with secret design. It was
not her nature, however, to hesitate, when circumstances required that
she should be both prompt and alert; and, throwing over her slight
person a large cloak, that was in readiness for the occasion, she stole
warily from the building.
Although Katherine suspected, most painfully, that Borroughcliffe
had received intelligence that might prove dangerous to her lover, she
looked around her in vain, on gaining the open air, to discover any
alteration in the arrangements for the defence of the Abbey, which
might confirm her suspicions, or the knowledge of which might enable
her to instruct Barnstable how to avoid the secret danger. Every
disposition remained as it had been since the capture of Griffith and
his companion. She heard the heavy, quick steps of the sentinel, who
was posted beneath their windows, endeavouring to warm himself, on his
confined post; and as she paused to listen, she also detected the
rattling of arms from the soldier, who, as usual, guarded the approach
to that part of the building where his comrades were quartered. The
night had set in cloudy and dark, although the gale had greatly
subsided towards the close of the day; still the wind swept heavily,
and, at moments, with a rushing noise, among the irregular walls of the
edifice; and it required the utmost nicety of ear, to distinguish even
these well knownsounds, among such accompaniments. When Katherine,
however, was satisfied that her organs had not deceived her, she turned
an anxious eye in the direction of what Borroughcliffe called his
"barracks." Every thing in that direction appeared so dark and still as
to create a sensation of uneasiness, by its very quiet. It might be the
silence of sleep that now pervaded the ordinarily gay and mirthful
apartment! or it might be the stillness of a fearful preparation! There
was no time, however, for further hesitation, and Katherine drew her
cloak more closely about her form, and proceeded, with light and
guarded steps, to the appointed spot. As she approached the wicket the
clock struck the hour, and she again paused, while the mournful sounds
were borne by her on the wind, as if expecting that each stroke on the
bell, would prove a signal to unmask some secret design of
Burroughcliffe. As the last vibration melted away, she opened the
little gate, and issued on the highway. The figure of a man sprung
forward from behind an angle of the wall, as she appeared; and, while
her heart was still throbbing with the suddenness of the alarm, she
found herself in the arms of Barnstable. After the first few words of
recognition and pleasure which the young sailor uttered, he acquainted
his mistress with the loss of his schooner, and the situation of the
"And now, Katherine," he concluded, "you have come, I trust, never
to quit me; or, at most, to return no more to that old Abbey, unless it
be to aid in liberating Griffith, and then to join me again for ever."
"Why, truly, there is so much to tempt a young woman to renounce
her home and friends, in the description you have just given of your
condition,that I hardly know how to refuse your request, Barnstable.
You are very tolerably provided with a dwelling in the ruin; and I
suppose certain predatory schemes are to be adopted to make it
habitable! St. Ruth is certainly well supplied with the necessary
articles, but whether we should not be shortly removed to the Castle at
York, or the gaol at Newcastle, is a question that I put to your
"Why yield your thoughts to such silly subjects, lovely trifler!"
said Barnstable, "when the time and the occasion both urge us to be in
"It is a woman's province to be thrifty, and to look after the
comforts of domestic life," returned his mistress; "and I would
discharge my functions with credit. But I feel you are vexed, for, to
see your dark countenance is out of the question, on such a night. When
do you propose to commence housekeeping, if I should yield to your
"I have not concluded, and your provoking wit annoys me! The vessel
I have taken, will, unquestionably, come into the land, as the gale
dies; and I intend making my escape in her, after beating this
Englishman, and securing the liberty of Miss Howard and yourself. I
could see the Frigate in the offing, even before we left the cliffs."
"This certainly sounds better!" rejoined Katherine, in a manner
that indicated she was musing on their prospects; "and yet there may
exist some difficulties in the way that you little suspect."
"Difficulties! there are none—there can be none."
"Speak not irreverently of the mazes of love, Mr. Barnstable. When
was it ever known to exist unfettered or unembarrassed? even I have an
explanationto ask of you, that I would much rather let alone."
"Of me! ask what you will, or how you will; I am a careless,
unthinking fellow, Miss Plowden; but to you I have little to answer
for—unless a foolish sort of adoration be an offence against your
merits." Barnstable felt the little hand that was supported on his arm,
pressing the limb, as Katherine continued, in a tone so changed from
its former forced levity, that he started as the first sounds reached
his ears. "Merry has brought in a horrid report!" she said; "I would I
could believe it untrue! but the looks of the boy, and the absence of
Dillon, both confirm it."
"Poor Merry! he too has fallen into the trap! but they shall yet
find one who is too cunning for them. Is it to the fate of that
wretched Dillon that you allude?"
"He was a wretch," continued Katherine, in the same voice," and he
deserved much punishment at your hands, Barnstable; but life is the
gift of God, and is not to be taken whenever human vengeance would
appear to require a victim."
"His life was taken by him who bestowed it," said the sailor. "Is
it Katherine Plowden who would suspect me of the deed of a dastard!"
"I do not suspect you—I did not suspect you," cried Katherine; "I
will never suspect any evil of you again. You are not, you cannot be
angry with me, Barnstable? had you heard the cruel suspicions of my
cousin Cecilia, and had your imagination been busy in portraying your
wrongs and the temptations to forget mercy, like mine, even while my
tongue denied your agency in the suspected deed, you would—you would
at least have learned, how much easier it is to defend those welove
against the open attacks of others, than against our own jealous
"Those words, love and jealousy, will obtain your acquittal," cried
Barnstable, in his natural voice; and, after uttering a few more
consoling assurances to Katherine, whose excited feelings found vent in
tears, he briefly related the manner of Dillon's death.
"I had hoped I stood higher in the estimation of Miss Howard, than
to be subjected to even her suspicions," he said, when he had ended his
explanation. "Griffith has been but a sorry representative of our
trade, if he has left such an opinion of its pursuits.
"I do not know that Mr. Griffith would altogether have escaped my
conjectures, had he been the disappointed commander, and you the
prisoner," returned Katherine; "you know not how much we have both
studied the usages of war, and with what dreadful pictures of hostages,
retaliations, and military executions, our minds are stored! but a
mountain is raised off my spirits, and I could almost say, that I am
now ready to descend the valley of life in your company."
"It is a discreet determination, my good Katherine, and God bless
you for it; the companion may not be so good as you deserve, but you
will find him ambitious of your praise. Now let us devise means to
effect our object."
"Therein lies another of my difficulties. Griffith, I much fear,
will not urge Cecilia to another flight, against her—her—what shall I
call it, Barnstable? her caprice, or her judgment? Cecilia will never
consent to desert her uncle, and I cannot muster the courage to abandon
my poor cousin, in the face of the world, in order to take shelter with
even Mr. Richard Barnstable!"
"Speak you from the heart now, Katherine?"
"Very nearly—if not exactly."
"Then have I been cruelly deceived! It is easier to find a path in
the trackless ocean, without chart or compass, than to know the
windings of a woman's heart!"
"Nay, nay, foolish man; you forget that I am but small, and how
very near my head is to my heart; too nigh, I fear, for the discretion
of their mistress! but is there no method of forcing Griffith and
Cecilia to their own good, without undue violence?"
"It cannot be done; he is my senior in rank, and the instant I
release him he will claim the command. A question might be raised, at a
leisure moment, on the merits of such a claim—but even my own men are,
as you know, nothing but a draft from the frigate, and they would not
hesitate to obey the orders of the first lieutenant, who is not a man
to trifle on matters of duty."
"'Tis vexatious, truly," said Katherine, "that all my well
concerted schemes in behalf of this wayward pair, should be frustrated
by their own wilful conduct! But, after all, have you justly estimated
your strength, Barnstable? are you certain that you would be
successful, and that without hazard, too, if you should make the
"Morally, and what is better, physically certain. My men are
closely hid, where no one suspects an enemy to lie; they are anxious
for the enterprise, and the suddenness of the attack will not only make
the victory sure, but it will be rendered bloodless. You will aid us in
our entrance, Katherine, and I shall first secure this recruiting
officer, and his command will then surrender without striking a blow.
Perhaps, after all, Griffith will hear reason; if he do not, I will not
yield my authority to a released captive, without a struggle."
"God send that there shall be no fighting!" murmured his companion,
a little appalled at the images his language had raised before her
imagination; "and, Barnstable, I enjoin you, most solemnly, by all your
affection for me, and by every thing you deem most sacred, to protect
the person of Col. Howard at every hazard. There must be no excuse, no
pretence, for even an insult to my passionate, good, obstinate, but
kind old guardian. I believe I have given him already more trouble than
I am entitled to give any one, and Heaven forbid, that I should cause
him any serious misfortune!"
"He shall be safe, and not only he, but all that are with him; as
you will perceive, Katherine, when you hear my plan. Three hours shall
not pass over my head before you will see me master of that old Abbey.
Griffith, ay, Griffith must be content to be my inferior, until we get
"Attempt nothing unless you feel certain of being able to maintain
your advantage, not only against your enemies, but also against your
friends," said Katherine, anxiously; "rely on it, both Cecilia and
Griffith are refining so much on their feelings, that neither will be
"This comes of passing the four best years of his life within walls
of brick, poring over Latin Grammars and Syntaxes, and such other
nonsense, when he should have been rolling them away in a good box of
live oak, and studying, at the most, how to sum up his day's work, and
tell where his ship lies after a blow. Your college learning may answer
well enough for a man who has to live by his wits, but it can be of
little use to one who is never afraid to read human nature, by looking
hisfellow creatures full in the face, and whose hand is as ready as his
tongue. I have generally found the eye that was good at Latin was dull
at a compass, or in a night-squall: and yet, Grif is a seaman; though I
have heard him even read the testament in Greek! Thank God, I had the
wisdom to run away from school the second day they undertook to teach
me a strange tongue, and I believe I am the more honest man, and the
better seaman, for my ignorance!"
"There is no telling what you might have been, Barnstable, under
other circumstances," retorted his mistress, with a playfulness of
manner that she could not always repress, though it was indulged at the
expense of him she most loved; "I doubt not but, under proper training,
you would have made a reasonably good priest."
"If you talk of priests, Katherine, I shall remind you that we
carry one in the ship. But listen to my plan; we may talk further of
that when an opportunity may offer."
Barnstable then proceeded to lay before his mistress a project he
had formed for surprising the Abbey that night, which was so feasible,
that Katherine, notwithstanding her recent suspicions of
Borroughcliffe's designs, came gradually to believe it would succeed.
The young seaman answered her objections with the readiness of an
ardent mind, bent on executing its purposes, and with a fertility of
resources that proved he was no contemptible enemy, in matters that
required spirited action. Of Merry's remaining firm and faithful he had
no doubt, and, although he acknowledged the escape of the pedler boy,
he urged that the lad had seen no other of his party besides himself,
whom he mistook for a common marauder.
As the disclosure of these plans was frequently interrupted by
little digressions, connected with the peculiar emotions of the lovers,
more than an hour flew by in the interview, before they separated. But
Katherine, at length, reminded him how swiftly the time was passing,
and how much remained to be done, when he reluctantly consented to see
her once more enter the wicket, where they parted.
Miss Plowden adopted the same precaution in returning to the house,
she had used on leaving it; and she was congratulating herself on its
success, when her eye caught a glimpse of the figure of a man, who was
apparently following at some little distance, in her footsteps, and
dogging her motions. As the obscure form, however, paused also when she
stopped to give it an alarmed, though inquiring look, and then slowly
retired towards the boundary of the paddock, Katherine believing it to
be Barnstable watching over her safety, entered the Abbey, with every
idea of alarm entirely lost in the pleasing reflection of her lover's
He looks abroad and soon appears,
O'er Horncliffe-hill, a plump of spears,
Beneath a pennon gay."
The sharp sounds of the supper-bell were ringing along the gallery,
as Miss Plowden gained the gloomy passage; and she quickened her steps
to join the ladies, in order that no further suspicions might be
excited by her absence.— Alice Dunscombe was already proceeding to the
dining parlour, as Katherine passed through the door of the drawing
room, but Miss Howard had loitered behind, and was met by her cousin
"You have then been so daring as to venture, Katherine?" exclaimed
"I have," returned the other, throwing herself into a chair, to
recover her agitation—"I have, Cecilia; and I have met Barnstable, who
will soon be in the Abbey, and its master."
The blood, which had rushed to the face of Cecilia on first seeing
her cousin, now retreated to her heart, leaving every part of her fine
countenance of the whiteness of her polished temples, as she said—
"And we are to have a night of blood!"
"We are to have a night of freedom, Miss Howard; freedom to you,
and to me; to Andrew Merry, to Griffith, and to his companion!"
"What freedom more than we now enjoy, Katherine, is needed by two
young women? Think you I can remain silent, and see my uncle betrayed
before my eyes? his life perhaps endangered?"
"Your own life and person will not be held more sacred, Cecilia
Howard, than that of your uncle. If you will condemn Griffith to a
prison, and perhaps to a gibbet, betray Barnstable, as you have
threatened—an opportunity will not be wanting at the supper table,
whither I shall lead the way, since the mistress of the house appears
to forget her duty."
Katherine arose, and, with a firm step, and proud eye, she moved
along the gallery, to the room where their presence was expected by the
rest of the family. Cecilia followed, in silence, and the whole party
immediately took their several places at the board.
The first few minutes were passed in the usual attentions of the
gentlemen to the ladies, and the ordinary civilities of the table;
during which, Katherine had so far regained the equanimity of her
feelings, as to commence a watchful scrutiny of the manners and looks
of her guardian and Borroughcliffe, in which she determined to
persevere until the eventful hour when she was to expect Barnstable
should arrive. Col. Howard had, however, so far got the command of
himself, as no longer to betray the same abstraction as before. In its
place Katherine fancied, at moments, that she could discover a settled
look of conscious security, mingled a little with an expression of
severe determination; such as, in her earlier days, she had learned
todread as sure indications of the indignant, but upright justice of an
honourable mind. Borroughcliffe, on the other hand, was cool, polite,
and as attentive to the viands as usual, with the alarming exception of
discovering much less devotion to the Pride of the Vineyards, than he
commonly manifested on such occasions. In this manner the meal passed
by, and the cloth was removed, though the ladies appeared willing to
retain their places longer than was customary. Col. Howard, filling up
the glasses of Alice Dunscombe, and himself, passed the bottle to the
recruiting officer, and, with a sort of effort that was intended to
rouse the dormant cheerfulness of his guests, cried—
"Come, Borroughcliffe, the ruby lips of your neighbours would be
still more beautiful, were they moistened with this rich cordial, and
that too, accompanied by some loyal sentiment. Miss Alice is ever ready
to express her fealty to her Sovereign; in her name, I can give the
health of His Most Sacred Majesty, with defeat and death to all
"If the prayers of a humble subject, and one of a sex that has but
little need to mingle in the turmoil of the world, and that has less
right to pretend to understand the subtilties of statesmen, can much
avail a High and Mighty Prince, like him who sits on the throne, then
will he never know temporal evil," returned Alice, meekly; "but I
cannot wish death to any one, not even to my enemies, if any I have,
and much less to a people who are the children of the same family with
"Children of the same family!" the Colonel repeated, slowly, and
with a bitterness of manner that did not fail to attract the painful
interest of Katherine; "children of the same family! Ay! even as
Absalom was the child of David, or asJudas was of the family of the
holy Apostles! But let it pass unpledged—let it pass. The accursed
spirit of rebellion has invaded my dwelling, and I no longer know where
to find one of my household, that has not been assailed by its malign
"Assailed I may have been, among others," returned Alice; "but not
corrupted, if purity, in this instance, consist in loyalty—"
"What sound is that?" interrupted the Colonel, with startling
suddenness. "Was it not the crash of some violence, Borroughcliffe?"
"It may have been one of my rascals who has met with a downfall in
passing from the festive board, where you know I regale them to-night,
in honour of our success!—to his blanket," returned the Captain, with
admirable indifference; "or it may be the very spirit of whom you have
spoken so freely, my host, that has taken umbrage at your remarks, and
is passing from the hospitable walls of St. Ruth into the open air,
without submitting to the small trouble of ascertaining the position of
doors. In the latter case there may be some dozen perches or so of wall
to replace in the morning."
The Colonel, who had risen, glanced his eyes, uneasily, from the
speaker to the door, and was, evidently, but little disposed to enter
into the pleasantry of his guest.
"There are unusual noises, Capt. Borroughcliffe, in the grounds of
the Abbey, if not in the building itself," he said, advancing, with a
fine military air, from the table to the centre of the room, "and, as
master of the mansion, I will inquire who it is that thus unseasonably
disturbs these domains. If as friends, they shall have welcome, though
their visit be unexpected; and if enemies, they shall also meet with
such a reception as will become an old soldier!"
"No, no," cried Cecilia, entirely thrown off her guard by the
manner and language of the veteran, and rushing into his arms. "Go not
out, my uncle, go not into the terrible fray, my kind, my good uncle!
you are old; you have already done more than your duty; why should you
be exposed to danger?"
"The girl is mad with terror, Borroughcliffe," cried the Colonel,
beading his glistening eyes fondly on his niece, "and you will have to
furnish my good-for-nothing, gouty old person with a corporal's guard,
to watch my night-cap, or the silly child will have an uneasy pillow,
till the sun rises once more. But you do not stir, sir?"
"Why should I?" cried the captain; "Miss Plowden yet deigns to keep
me company, and it is not in the nature of one of the—th, to desert
his bottle and his standard in the same moment. For, to a true soldier,
the smiles of a lady are as imposing in the parlour, as the presence of
his colours in the field."
"I continue undisturbed, Captain Borroughcliffe," said Katherine,
"because I have not been an inhabitant, for so many months, of St.
Ruth, and not learned to know the tunes which the wind can play among
its chimneys and pointed roofs. The noise which has taken Col. Howard
from his seat, and which has so unnecessarily alarmed my cousin Cicely,
is nothing but the Æolian Harp of the Abbey sounding a double bass."
The captain fastened on her composed countenance, while she was
speaking, a look of open admiration, that brought, though tardily, the
colour more deeply to her cheeks; and he answered, with something
extremely equivocal, both in his emphasis and his air—
"I have avowed my allegiance, and I will abideby it. So long as
Miss Plowden will deign to bestow her company, so long will she find me
among her most faithful and persevering attendants, come who may, or
"You compel me to retire," returned Katherine, rising, "whatever
may have been my gracious intentions in the matter; for even female
vanity must crimson, at an adoration so profound as that which can
chain Capt. Borroughcliffe to a supper-table! As your alarm has now
dissipated, my cousin, will you lead the way? Miss Alice and myself
"But not into the paddock, surely, Miss Plowden," said the captain;
"the door, the key of which you have just turned, communicates with the
vestibule. This is the passage to the drawing room."
The lady faintly laughed, as if in derision of her own
forgetfulness, as she bowed her acknowledgment, and moved towards the
proper passage; she observed—
"The madness of fear has assailed some, I believe, who have been
able to affect a better disguise than Miss Howard."
"Is it the fear of present danger, or of that which is in reserve?"
asked the captain; "but, as you have stipulated so generously in behalf
of my worthy host here, and of one, also, who shall be nameless,
because he has not deserved such a favour at your hands, your safety
shall be one of my especial duties in these times of peril."
"There is peril then!" exclaimed Cecilia; "your looks announce it,
Capt. Borroughcliffe! The changing countenance of my cousin tells me
that my fears are too true!"
The soldier had now risen also, and, casting aside the air of
badinage, which he so much delightedin, he came forward into the centre
of the apartment, with the manner of one who felt it was time to be
"A soldier is ever in peril, when the enemies of his king are at
hand, Miss Howard," he answered; "and that such is now the case, Miss
Plowden can testify, if she will. But you are the allies of both
parties—retire, then, to your own apartments, and await the result of
the struggle which is at hand."
"You speak of danger and hidden perils," said Alice Dunscombe;
"know ye aught that justifies your fears?"
"I know all," Borroughcliffe coolly replied.
"All!" exclaimed Katherine.
"All!" echoed Alice, in tones of horror. "If, then, you know all,
you must know his desperate courage, and powerful hand, when
opposed—yield in quiet, and he will not harm ye. Believe me, believe
one who knows his very nature, that no lamb can be more gentle than he
would be, with unresisting women; nor any lion more fierce, with his
"As we happen not to be of the feminine gender," returned
Borroughcliffe, with an air somewhat splenetic, "we must abide the fury
of the king of beasts. His paw is, even now, at the outer door; and, if
my orders have been obeyed, his entrance will be yet easier than that
of the wolf, to the respectable female ancestor of the little
"Stay your hand for one single moment!" said Katherine, breathless
with interest; "you are the master of my secret, Capt. Borroughcliffe,
and bloodshed may be the consequence. I can yet go forward, and,
perhaps, save many inestimable lives. Pledge to me your honour, that
they who come hitheras your enemies, this night, shall depart in peace,
and I will pledge to you my life for the safety of the Abbey."
"Oh! hear her, and shed not human blood!" cried Cecilia.
A loud crash interrupted further speech, and the sounds of heavy
footsteps were heard in the adjoining room, as if many men were
alighting on its floor, in quick succession. Borroughcliffe drew back,
with great coolness, to the opposite side of the large apartment, and
took a sheathed sword from the table where it had been placed; at the
same moment the door was burst open, and Barnstable entered alone, but
"You are my prisoners, gentlemen," said the sailor, as he advanced;
"resistance is useless, and without it you shall receive favour. Ha!
Miss Plowden! my advice was, that you should not be present at this
"Barnstable, we are betrayed!" cried the agitated Katherine. "But
it is not yet too late. Blood has not yet been spilt, and you can
retire, without that dreadful alternative, with honour. Go, then, delay
not another moment; for, should the soldiers of Capt. Borroughcliffe
come to the rescue of their commander, the Abbey would be a scene of
"Go you away; go, Katherine," said her lover, with impatience;
"this is no place for such as you. But, Capt. Borroughcliffe, if such
be your name, you must perceive that resistance is in vain. I have ten
good pikes in this outer room, in twenty better hands, and it will be
madness to fight against such odds."
"Show me your strength," said the captain, "that I may take counsel
with mine honour."
"Your honour shall be appeased, my bravesoldier, for such is your
beariug, though your livery is my aversion, and your cause most unholy!
Heave-ahead, boys! but hold your hands for orders."
The party of fierce-looking sailors, whom Barnstable led, on
receiving this order, rushed into the room in a medley; but,
notwithstanding the surly glances, and savage characters of their dress
and equipments, they struck no blow, nor committed any act of
hostility. The ladies shrunk back appalled, as this terrific little
band took possession of the hall; and even Borroughcliffe, was seen to
fall back towards a door, which, in some measure, covered his retreat.
The confusion of this sudden movement had not yet subsided, when sounds
of strife were heard rapidly approaching from a distant part of the
building, and presently one of the numerous doors of the apartment was
violently opened, when two of the garrison of the Abbey rushed into the
hall, vigorously pressed by twice their number of seamen, seconded by
Griffith, Manual, and Merry, who were armed with such weapons of
offence as had presented themselves to their hands, at their unexpected
liberation. There was a movement on the part of the seamen, who already
were in possession of the room, that threatened instant death to the
fugitives; but Barnstable beat down their pikes with his sword, and
sternly ordered them to fall back. Surprise produced the same pacific
result among the combatants; and as the soldiers hastily sought a
refuge behind their own officers, and the released captives, with their
liberators, joined the body of their friends, the quiet of the hall,
which had been so rudely interrupted, was soon restored.
"You see, sir," said Barnstable, after grasping the hands of
Griffith and Manual, in a warm and cordial pressure, "that all my plans
have succeeded. Your sleeping guard are closely watched in their
barracks, by one party, our officers are released, and your sentinels
cut off by another, while, with a third, I hold the centre of the
Abbey, and am, substantially, in possession of your own person. In
consideration, therefore, of what is due to humanity, and to the
presence of these ladies, let there be no struggle! I shall impose no
difficult terms, nor any long imprisonment."
The recruiting officer manifested a composure, throughout the whole
scene, that would have excited some uneasiness in his invaders, had
there been opportunity for more minute observation; but his countenance
now gradually assumed an appearance of anxiety, and his head was
frequently turned, as if listening for further, and more important
interruptions. He answered, however, this appeal, with his ordinary
"You speak of conquests, sir, before they are achieved. My
venerable host and myself are not so defenceless as you may choose to
imagine." While speaking, he threw aside the cloth of a side table,
from beneath which, the colonel and himself were instantly armed with a
brace of pistols each. "Here are the death warrants of four of your
party, and these brave fellows at my back can account for two more. I
believe, my transatlantic warrior, that we are now something in the
condition of Cortes and the Mexicans, when the former overran part of
your continent—I being Cortes, armed with artificial thunder and
lightning, and you the Indians, with nothing but your pikes and slings,
and such other antediluvian inventions. Shipwrecks and sea-water are
fatal dampers of gun-powder!"
"That we are unprovided with fire-arms, I will not deny," said
Barnstable; "but we are men who are used, from infancy, to depend on
our good right arms for life and safety, and we know how to use them,
though we should even grapple with death! As for the trifles in your
hands, gentlemen, you are not to suppose that men who are trained to
look in at one end of a thirty-two pounder, loaded with grape, while
the match is put to the other, will so much as wink at their report,
though you fired them by fifties. What say you, boys! is a pistol a
weapon to repel boarders?"
The discordant and disdainful laughs that burst from the restrained
seamen, were a sufficient pledge of their indifference to so trifling a
danger. Borroughcliffe noted their hardened boldness, and taking the
supper bell, which was lying near him, he rang it, for a minute, with
great violence. The heavy tread of trained footsteps soon followed this
extraordinary summons; and presently, the several doors of the
apartment were opened, and filled with armed soldiers, wearing the
livery of the English crown.
"If you hold these smaller weapons in such vast contempt," said the
recruiting officer, when he perceived that his men had possessed
themselves of all the avenues, "it is in my power to try the virtue of
some more formidable. After this exhibition of my strength, gentlemen,
I presume you cannot hesitate to submit as prisoners of war."
The seamen had been formed in something like military array, by the
assiduity of Manual, during the preceding dialogue; and as the
different doors had discovered fresh accessions to the strength of the
enemy, the marine industriouslyoffered new fronts, until the small
party was completely arranged in a hollow square, that might have
proved formidable in a charge, bristled as it was with the deadly pikes
of the Ariel.
"Here has been some mistake," said Griffith, after glancing his eye
at the formidable array of the soldiers; "I take precedence of Mr.
Barnstable, and I shall propose to you, Capt. Borroughcliffe, terms
that may remove this scene of strife from the dwelling of Col. Howard."
"The dwelling of Col. Howard," cried the veteran, "is the dwelling
of his king, or of the meanest servant of the crown! so,
Borroughcliffe, spare not the traitors on my behalf; accept no other
terms, than such unconditional submission as is meet to exact from the
rebellious subjects of the Anointed of the Lord."
While Griffith spoke, Barnstable folded his arms, in affected
composure, and glanced his eyes expressively at the shivering
Katherine, who, with her companions, still continued agitated
spectators of all that passed, chained to the spot by their
apprehensions; but to this formidable denunciation, of the master of
the Abbey, he deemed proper to reply—
"Now, by every hope I have of sleeping again on salt water, old
gentleman, if it were not for the presence of these three trembling
females, but I should feel tempted to dispute, at once, the title of
his majesty—you may make such a covenant as you will with Mr.
Griffith, but if it contain one syllable about submission to your king,
or of any other allegiance, than that which I owe to the Continental
Congress, and the state of Massachusetts, you may as well consider the
terms violated at once; for not an article of such an agreement willI
consider as binding on me, or on any that shall choose to follow me as
"Here are but two leaders, Mr. Barnstable," interrupted the haughty
Griffith; "the one of the enemy, and the other, of the arms of America.
Capt. Borroughcliffe, to you, as the former, I address myself. The
great objects of the contest, which now unhappily divides England from
her ancient colonies, can be, in no degree, affected by the events of
this night; while, on the other hand, by a rigid adherence to military
notions, much private evil and deep domestic calamity, must follow any
struggle in such a place. We have but to speak, sir, and these rude
men, who already stand impatiently handling their instruments of death,
will aim them at each other's lives; and who can say that he shall be
able to stay their hands when and where he will! I know you to be a
soldier, and that you are not yet to learn how much easier it is to
stimulate to blood, than to glut vengeance."
Borroughcliffe, unused to the admission of violent emotions, and
secure in the superiority of his own party, both in numbers and
equipments, heard him with the coolest composure to the end, and then
answered in his customary manner.
"I honour your logic, sir. Your premises are indisputable, and the
conclusion most obvious Commit, then, those worthy tars to the good
keeping of honest Drill, who will see their famished natures revived by
divers eatables, and a due proportion of suitable fluids; while we can
discuss the manner in which you are to return to the colonies, around a
bottle of liquor, which my friend Manual there, assures me has come
from the sun my side of the island of Madeira, to be drunk in a bleak
corner of that of Britain. By my palate! but the rascals brighten at
the thought! They know by instinct, sir, that a shipwrecked mariner is
a fitter companion to a ration of beef and a pot of porter, than to
such unsightly things as bayonets and boarding-pikes!"
"Trifle not unseasonably!" exclaimed the impatient young sailor.
"You have the odds in numbers, but whether it will avail you much in a
deadly struggle of hand to hand, is a question you must put to your
prudence: we stand not here to ask terms, but to grant them. You must
be brief, sir, for the time is wasting while we delay."
"I have offered to you the means of obtaining in perfection the
enjoyment of the three most ancient of the numerous family of the
arts—eating, drinking, and sleeping! What more do you require?"
"That you order these men, who fill the pass to the outer door, to
fall back and give us room. I would take, in peace, these armed men
from before the eyes of those who are unused to such sights. Before you
oppose this demand, think how easily these hardy fellows could make a
way for themselves, against your divided force."
"Your companion, the experienced Capt. Manual, will tell you that
such a manœuvre would be very unmilitary, with a superior body in your
"I have not leisure, sir, for this folly," cried the indignant
Griffith. "Do you refuse us an unmolested retreat from the Abbey?"
Griffith turned, with a look of extreme emotion, to the ladies, and
beckoned to them to retire, unable to give utterance to his wishes in
words. After a moment of deep silence, however, he once more addressed
Borroughcliffe in the tones of conciliation.
"If Mauual and myself will return to our prisons, and submit to the
will of your government," he said, "can the rest of the party return to
the frigate unmolested?"
"They cannot," replied the soldier, who, perceiving that the crisis
approached, was gradually losing his artificial deportment in the
interest of the moment. "You, and all others, who willingly invade the
peace of these realms, must abide the issue."
"Then God protect the innocent and defend the right!"
"Give way, villains!" cried Griffith, facing the party that held
the outer door; "give way, or you shall be riddled with our pikes!"
"Show them your muzzles, men!" shouted Borroughcliffe; "but pull no
trigger till they advance."
There was an instant of bustle and preparation, in which the
rattling of fire arms, blended with the suppressed execrations and
threats of the intended combatants; and Cecilia and Katherine had both
covered their faces to veil the horrid sight that was momentarily
expected, when Alice Dunscombe advanced, boldly, between the points of
the threatening weapons, and spoke in a voice that stayed the hands
that were already uplifted.
"Hear me, men! if men ye be, and not demons, thirsting for each
other's blood; though ye walk abroad in the semblance of him who died
that ye might be elevated to the rank of angels! call ye this war? Is
this the glory that is made to warm the hearts of even silly and
confiding women? Is the peace of families to be destroyed to gratify
your wicked lust for conquest; and is life to be taken in vain, in
order that you may boast of the foul deed in your wicked revels! Fall
back, then, yeBritish soldiers! if ye be worthy of that name, and give
passage to a woman; and remember that the first shot that is fired,
will be buried in her bosom!"
The men, thus enjoined, shrunk before her commanding mien, and a
way was made for her exit through that very door which Griffith had, in
vain, solicited might be cleared for himself and party. But Alice,
instead of advancing, appeared to have suddenly lost the use of those
faculties which had already effected so much. Her figure seemed rooted
to the spot where she had spoken, and her eyes were fixed in a settled
gaze as if dwelling on some horrid object. While she yet stood in this
attitude of unconscious helplessness, the door-way became again
darkened, and the figure of the Pilot was seen on its threshold, clad,
as usual, in the humble vestments of his profession, but heavily armed
with the weapons of naval war. For an instant, he stood a silent
spectator of the scene; and then advanced calmly, but with searching
eyes, into the centre of the apartment.
Welcome, Signior: you are almost come to part, almost a fray.
— Much ado about nothing
"Down with your arms, you Englishmen!" said the daring intruder;
"and you, who fight in the cause of sacred liberty, stay your hands,
that no unnecessary blood may flow. Yield yourself, proud Britons, to
the power of the Thirteen Republics!"
"Ha!" exclaimed Borroughcliffe, grasping a pistol, with an air of
great resolution, "the work thickens—I had not included this man in my
estimate of their numbers. Is he a Sampson, that his single arm can
change the face of things so suddenly! Down with your own weapon, you
masquerader, or, at the report of this pistol, your body shall become a
target for twenty bullets."
"And thine for a hundred!" returned the pilot —"without there!
wind your call, fellow, and bring in our numbers. We will let this
confident gentleman feel his weakness."
He had not done speaking, before the shrill whistle of a boatswain
rose gradually on the ears of the listeners, until the sense of hearing
became painfully oppressed, by the piercing sounds that rung under the
arched roof of the hall, and penetratedeven to the most distant
recesses of the Abbey. A tremendous rush of men followed, who drove in
before them the terrified fragment of Borroughcliffe's command, that
had held the vestibule; and the outer room became filled with a dark
mass of human bodies.
"Let them hear ye, lads!" cried their leader; "the Abbey is your
The roaring of a tempest was not louder than the shout that burst
from his followers, who continued their cheers, peal on peal, until the
very roof of the edifice appeared to tremble with their vibrations.
Numerous dark and shaggy heads were seen moving around the passage;
some cased in the iron-bound caps of the frigate's boarders, and others
glittering with the brazen ornaments of her marine guard. The sight of
the latter did not fail to attract the eye of Manual, who rushed among
the throng, and soon re-appeared, followed by a trusty band of his own
men, who took possession of the posts held by the soldiers of
Borroughcliffe, while the dialogue was continued between the leaders of
the adverse parties.
Thus far Col. Howard had yielded to his guest, with a deep
reverence for the principles of military subordination, the functions
of a commander, but, now that affairs appeared to change so materially,
he took on himself the right to question these intruders into his
"By what authority, sir," the colonel demanded, "is it that you
dare thus to invade the castle of a subject of this realm? Do you come
backed by the commission of the lord lieutenant of the county, or has
your warrant the signature of His Majesty's Secretary for the Home
"I bear no commission from any quarter," returned the pilot; "I
rank only a humble followerof the friends of America; and having led
these gentlemen into danger, I have thought it my duty to see them
extricated. They are now safe; and the right to command all that hear
me, rests with Mr. Griffith, who is commissioned by the Continental
Congress for such service."
When he had spoken he fell back from the position he occupied, in
the centre of the room, to one of its sides, where, leaning his body
against the wainscot, he stood a silent observer of what followed—
"It appears, then, that it is to you, degenerate son of a most
worthy father, that I must repeat my demand," continued the veteran.
"By what right is my dwelling thus rudely assailed? and why is my
quiet, and the peace of those I protect, so daringly violated?"
"I might answer you, Col. Howard, by saying that it is according to
the laws of arms, or rather in retaliation for the thousand evils that
your English troops have inflicted, between Maine and Georgia; but I
wish not to increase the unpleasant character of this scene, and will
tell you, that our advantage shall be used with moderation. The instant
that our men can be collected, and our prisoners properly secured, your
dwelling shall be restored to your authority. We are no freebooters,
sir, and you will find it so after our departure. Capt. Manual, draw
off your guard into the grounds, and make your dispositions for a
return march to our boats—let the boarders fall back, there! out with
ye! out with ye—tumble out, you boarders!"
The amicable order of the young lieutenant, which was delivered
after the stern, quick fashion of his profession, operated on the
cluster of darkfigures, that were grouped around the door, like a
charm; and as the men whom Barnstable had led, followed their shipmates
into the court-yard, the room was now left to such only, as might be
termed the gentlemen of the invading party, and the family of Col.
Barnstable had continued silent since his senior officer had
assumed the command, listening most attentively to each syllable that
fell from either side; but now that so few remained, and the time
pressed, he spoke again—
"If we are to take boat so soon, Mr. Griffith, it would be seemly
that due preparations should be made to receive the ladies, who are to
honour us with their presence; shall I take that duty on myself?"
The abrupt proposal produced a universal surprise in his hearers;
though the abashed and conscious expression of Katherine Plowden's
features, sufficiently indicated, that to her, at least, it was not
altogether unexpected. The long silence that succeeded the question,
was interrupted by Col. Howard.
"Ye are masters, gentlemen; help yourselves to whatever best suits
your inclinations. My dwelling, my goods, and my wards, are alike at
your disposal—or, perhaps Miss Alice, here, good and kind Miss Alice
Dunscomb, may suit the taste of some among ye! Ah! Edward Griffith!
Edward Griffith! little did I ever—"
"Breathe not that name in levity again, thou scoffer, or even your
years may prove a feeble protection!" said a stern, startling voice
from behind. All eyes turned involuntarily at the unexpected sounds,
and the muscular form of the Pilot was seen resuming its attitude of
repose against the wall,though every fibre in his frame was working
with suppressed passion.
When the astonished looks of Griffith ceased to dwell on this
extraordinary exhibition of interest in his companion, they were turned
imploringly towards the fair cousins, who still occupied the distant
corner, whither fear had impelled them.
"I have said, that we are not midnight marauders, Col. Howard," he
replied; "but if any there be here, who will deign to commit themselves
to our keeping, I trust it will not be necessary to say, at this hour,
what will be their reception."
"We have not time for unnecessary compliments," cried the impatient
Barnstable; "here is Merry, who, by years and blood, is a suitable
assistant for them, in arranging their little baggage— what say you,
urchin, can you play the ladies' maid on emergency?"
"Ay, sir, and better than I acted the pedlerboy," cried the gay
youngster; "to have my merry cousin Kate, and my good cousin Cicely for
shipmates, I could play our common grandmother! Come, coz, let us be
moving; you will have to allow a little lee-way in time, for my
"Stand back, young man," said Miss Howard, repulsing his familiar
attempt to take her arm; and then advancing, with a maidenly dignity,
nigher to her guardian, she continued, "I cannot know what stipulations
have been made by my cousin Plowden, in the secret treaty she has made
this night with Mr. Barnstable; this for myself, Col. Howard, I would
have you credit your brother's child when she says, that, to her, the
events of the hour have not been more unexpected than to yourself."
The veteran gazed at her, for a moment, with an expression of his
eye that denoted reviving tenderness; but gloomy doubts appeared to
cross his mind again, and he shook his head, as he walked proudly away.
"Nay, then," added Cecilia, her head dropping meekly on her bosom,
"I may be discredited by my uncle, but I cannot be disgraced without
some act of my own."
She slowly raised her mild countenance again, and bending her eyes
on her lover, she continued, while a rich rush of blood passed over her
"Edward Griffith, I will not, I cannot say how humiliating it is to
think that you can, for an instant, believe I would again forget myself
so much as to wish to desert him whom God has given me for a protector,
for one chosen by my own erring passions. And you, Andrew Merry! learn
to respect the child of your mother's sister, if not for her own sake,
at least for that of her who watched your cradle!"
"Here appears to be some mistake," said Barnstable, who
participated, however, in no trifling degree, in the embarrassment of
the abashed boy; "but, like all other mistakes on such subjects, it can
be explained away, I suppose. Mr. Griffith, it remains for you to
speak:—damn it, man," he whispered, "you are as dumb as a cod-fish—I
am sure so fine a woman is worth a little fair weather talk:—you are
muter than a four-footed beast— even an ass can bray!"
"We will hasten our departure, Mr. Barnstable," said Griffith,
sighing heavily, and rousing, as if from a trance. "These rude sights
cannot but be appalling to the ladies. You will please, sir, to direct
the order of our march to the shore.Captain Manual has charge of our
prisoners, who must all be secured, to answer for an equal number of
our own countrymen."
"And our countrywomen!" said Barnstable, "are they to be forgotten,
in the selfish recollection of our own security!"
"With them we have no right to interfere, unless at their request."
"By Heaven! Mr. Griffith, this may smack of learning," cried the
other, "and it may plead bookish authority as its precedent; but, let
me tell you, sir, it savours but a little of sailor's love."
"Is it unworthy of a seaman, and a gentleman, to permit the woman
he calls his mistress to be so, other than in name?"
"Well, then, Griff, I pity you, from my soul. I would rather have
had a sharp struggle for the happiness that I shall now obtain so
easily, than that you should be thus cruelly disappointed. But you
cannot blame me, my friend, that I avail myself of fortune's favour.
Miss Plowden, your fair hand. Colonel Howard, I return you a thousand
thanks for the care you have taken, hitherto, of this precious charge,
and believe me, sir, that I speak frankly, when I say, that next to
myself, I should choose to intrust her with you in preference to any
man on earth."
The Colonel turned to the speaker, and bowed low, while he answered
with grave courtesy—
"Sir, you repay my slight services with too much gratitude. If Miss
Katherine Plowden has not become under my guardianship, all that her
good father, Capt. John Plowden, of the Royal Navy, could have wished a
daughter of his to be, the fault, unquestionably, is to be attributed
to my inability to instruct, and to no inherent quality in the young
lady herself. I will not say, take her,sir, since you have her in your
possession already, and it would be out of my power to alter the
arrangement; I, therefore, can only wish that you may find her as
dutiful as a wife, as she has been, hitherto, as a ward and a subject."
Katherine had yielded her hand, passively, to her lover, and
suffered him to lead her more into the circle than she had before been;
but now she threw off his arm, and shaking aside the dark curls which
she had rather invited to fall in disorder around her brow, she raised
her face and looked proudly up, with an eye that sparkled with the
spirit of its mistress, and a face that grew pale with emotion at each
moment, as she proceeded—
"Gentlemen, the one may be as ready to receive as the other is to
reject; but has the daughter of John Plowden no voice in this cool
disposal of her person! If her guardian tires of her presence, other
habitations may be found, without inflicting so severe a penalty on
this gentleman, as to compel him to provide for her accommodation in a
vessel which must be already straitened for room!"
She turned, and rejoined her cousin with such an air of maidenly
resentment, as a young woman would be apt to discover, who found
herself the subject of matrimonial arrangement, without her own
feelings being at all consulted. Barnstable, who knew but little of the
windings of the female heart, or how necessary to his mistress,
notwithstanding her previous declarations, the countenance of Cecilia
was, to any decided and open act in his favour, stood in stupid wonder
at her declaration. He could not conceive that a woman who had already
ventured so much in secret in his behalf, and who had so often avowed
her weakness, should shrink to declare it again, at such a
crisis,though the eyes of a universe were on her! He looked from one of
the party to the other, and met in every face an expression of delicate
reserve, except in those of the guardian of his mistress, and of
The colonel had given a glance of returning favour at her, whom, he
now conceived, to be his repentant ward, while the countenance of the
entrapped captain exhibited a look of droll surprise, blended with the
expression of bitter ferocity it had manifested since the discovery of
his own mishap.
"Perhaps, sir," said Barnstable, addressing the latter, fiercely,
"you see something amusing about the person of this lady, to divert you
thus unseasonably. We tolerate no such treatment of our women in
"Nor do we quarrel before ours in England," returned the soldier,
throwing back the fierce glance of the sailor, with interest; "but I
was thinking of the revolutions that time can produce! nothing more I
do assure you. It is not half an hour since I thought myself a most
happy fellow; secure in my plans for overreaching the scheme you had
laid to surprise me; and now I am as miserable a dog as wears a single
epaulette, and has no hope of seeing its fellow!"
"And in what manner, sir, can this sudden change apply to me?"
asked Katherine, with all her spirit.
"Certainly not to your perseverance in the project to assist my
enemies, madam," returned the soldier with affected humility; "nor to
your zeal for their success, or your consummate coolness at the supper
table! But I find it is time that I should be superannuated—I can no
longer serve my king with credit, and should take to serving my God,
like all other worn out men of the world! My hearing is surely
defective, or a paddock wall has a most magical effect in determining
Katherine waited not to hear the close of this sentence, but walked
to a distant part of the room, to conceal the burning blushes that
covered her countenance. The manner in which the plans of
Borroughcliffe had become known to his foe, was no longer a mystery,
and her conscience reproached her a little also, with some unnecessary
coquetry; for she remembered, that quite one half of the dialogue
between her lover and herself, under the shadow of that very wall to
which Borroughcliffe alluded, had been on a subject altogether foreign
to contention and tumults. As the feelings of Barnstable were by no
means so sensitive as those of his mistress, and his thoughts much
occupied with the means of attaining his object, he did not so readily
comprehend the indirect allusion of the soldier, but turned abruptly
away to Griffith, and observed, with a serious air—
"I feel it my duty, Mr. Griffith, to suggest, that we have standing
instructions to secure all the enemies of America, wherever they may be
found, and to remind you, that the States have not hesitated to make
prisoners of females, in many instances."
"Bravo!" cried Borroughcliffe; "if the ladies will not go as your
mistresses, take them as your captives!"
"'Tis well for you, sir, that you are a captive yourself, or you
should be made to answer for this speech," retorted the irritated
Barnstable. "It is a responsible command, Mr. Griffith, and must not be
"To your duty, Mr. Barnstable," said Griffith,again arousing from
deep abstraction; "you have your orders, sir; let them be executed
"I have also the orders of our common superior, Capt. Munson, Mr.
Griffith; and I do assure you, sir, that in making out my instructions
for the Ariel—poor thing! there are no two of her timbers hanging
together!—but my instructions were decidedly particular on that head."
"And my orders now supersede them."
"But am I justifiable in obeying a verbal order from an inferior,
in direct opposition to a written instruction?"
Griffith had hitherto manifested in his deportment nothing more
than a cold determination to act, but the blood now flew to every
vessel in his cheeks and forehead, and his dark eyes flashed fire, as
he cried authoritatively—
"How, sir! do you hesitate to obey?"
"By heaven, sir, I would dispute the command of the Continental
Congress itself, should they bid me so far to forget my duty to—to—"
"Add yourself, sir!—Mr. Barnstable, let this be the last of it. To
your duty, sir."
"My duty calls me here, Mr. Griffith."
"I must act, then, or be bearded by my own officers. Mr. Merry,
direct Capt. Manual to send in a serjeant, and a file of marines."
"Bid him come on himself!" cried Barnstable, maddened to
desperation by his disappointment; " 'tis not his whole corps that can
disarm me—let them come on! Hear, there, you Ariels! rally around your
"The man among them, who dares to cross that threshold without my
order, dies," cried Griffith, menacing, with a naked sabre, the seamen,
who had promptly advanced at the call of their old commander. "Yield
your sword, Mr. Barnstable, and spare yourself the disgrace of having
it forced from you by a common soldier."
"Let me see the dog who dare attempt it!" exclaimed Barnstable,
flourishing his weapon in fierce anger. Griffith had extended his own
arm, in the earnestness of his feelings, and their sabres crossed each
other. The clashing of the steel operated on both like the sound of the
clarion on a war-horse, and there were sudden and rapid blows, and as
rapid parries, exchanged between the flashing weapons.
"Barnstable! Barnstable!" cried Katherine, rushing into his arms,
"I will go with you to the ends of the earth!"
Cecilia Howard did not speak; but when Griffith recovered his
coolness, he beheld her beautiful form kneeling at his feet, with her
pale face bent imploringly on his own disturbed countenance. The cry of
Miss Plowden had separated the combatants, before an opportunity for
shedding blood had been afforded, but the young men exchanged looks of
keen resentment, notwithstanding the interference of their mistresses.
At this moment Col. Howard advanced, and raising his niece from her
humble posture, said—
"This is not a situation for a child of Harry Howard, though she
knelt in the presence, and before the throne of her Sovereign. Behold,
my dear Cecilia, the natural consequences of this rebellion! It
scatters discord in their ranks; and, by its damnable levelling
principles, destroys all distinction of rank among themselves; even
these rash boys know not where obedience is due!"
"It is due to me," said the Pilot, who now stepped forward among
the agitated group, "and it is time that I enforce it. Mr. Griffith,
sheathyour sword. And you, sir, who have defied the authority of your
senior officer, and have forgotten the obligation of your oath, submit,
and return to your duty."
Griffith started at the sounds of his calm voice, as if with sudden
recollection; and then bowing low, he returned the weapon to its
scabbard. But Barnstable still encircled the waist of his mistress with
one arm, while, with the other, he brandished his sabre, and laughed
with scorn at this extraordinary assumption of authority.
"And who is this!" he cried, "who dare give such an order to me!"
The eyes of the Pilot flashed with a terrible fire, while a fierce
glow seemed to be creeping over his whole frame, which actually
quivered with passion. But, suppressing this exhibition of his
feelings, by a sudden and powerful effort, he answered, in an emphatic
"One who has a right to order, and who will be obeyed!"
The extraordinary manner of the speaker, contributed as much as his
singular assertion, to induce Barnstable, in his surprise, to lower the
point of his weapon, with an air that might easily have been mistaken
for submission. The Pilot fastened his glowing eyes on him, for an
instant, and then turning to the rest of the listeners, he continued,
"It is true that we came not here as marauders, and that our wish
is, to do no unnecessary acts of severity to the aged and the helpless.
But this officer of the Crown, and this truant American, in particular,
are fairly our prisoners; as such, they must be conducted on board our
"But the main object of our expedition?"—said Griffith.
"'Tis lost," returned the Pilot, hastily—" 'tis sacrificed to more
private feelings; 'tis like a hundred others, ended in disappointment,
and is forgotten, sir, for ever. But the interests of the Republics
must not be neglected, Mr. Griffith.— Though we are not madly to
endanger the lives of those gallant fellows, to gain a love-smile from
one young beauty, neither are we to forget the advantages they may have
obtained for us, in order to procure one of approbation from another.
This, Col. Howard, will answer well, in a bargain with the minions of
the Crown, and may purchase the freedom of some worthy patriot, who is
deserving of his liberty. Nay, nay, suppress that haughty look, and
turn that proud eye on any, rather than me! he goes to the frigate,
sir, and that immediately."
"Then," said Cecilia Howard, timidly approaching the spot where her
uncle stood, a disdainful witness of the dissensions amongst his
captors; "then, will I go with him! He shall never be a resident among
his enemies alone!"
"It would be more ingenuous, and more worthy of my brother's
daughter," said her uncle, coldly, "if she ascribed her willingness to
depart to its proper motive." Disregarding the look of deep distress
with which Cecilia received this mortifying rejection of her tender
attention, the old man walked towards Borroughcliffe, who was gnawing
the hilt of his sword, in very vexation at the downfall of his
high-raised hopes, and placing himself by his side, with an air of
infinitely dignified submission, he continued, "act your pleasure on
us, gentlemen: you are the conquerors, and we must even submit. A brave
man knows as well how to yield, with decorum, as to defend himself
stoutly, when he is not surprised,as we have been. But if an
opportunity should ever offer!—Act your pleasures, gentlemen; no two
lambs were ever half so meek as Capt. Borroughcliffe and myself."
The smile of affected, but bitter resignation, that the colonel
bestowed on his fellow prisoner, was returned by that officer, with an
attempt at risibility that abundantly betokened the disturbed state of
his feelings. The two, however, succeeded in so far maintaining
appearances, as to contemplate the succeeding movements of the
conquerors, with a sufficient degree of composure.
The colonel steadily, and coldly, rejected the advances of his
niece, who bowed meekly to his will, and relinquished, for the present,
the hope of bringing him to a sense of his injustice. She however,
employed herself in earnest, to give such directions as were necessary
to enforce the resolution she had avowed, and in this unexpected
employment she found both a ready and a willing assistant in her
cousin. The latter, unknown to Miss Howard, had, in anticipation of
some such event as the present, long since made, in secret, all those
preparations which might become necessary to a sudden flight from the
Abbey. In conjunction with her lover then, who, perceiving that the
plan of the Pilot was furthering his own views, deemed it most wise to
forget his quarrel with that mysterious individual, she flew to point
out the means, of securing those articles which were already in
preparation. Barnstable and Merry accompanied her light steps among the
narrow, dark passages of the Abbey, with the utmost delight; the former
repeatedly apostrophizing her wit and beauty, and, indeed, all of her
various merits, and the latter, laughing, and indulging those buoyant
spirits, that a boy of his years and reflection might be supposed to
feel, in such a scene, and under such circumstances. It was fortunate
for her cousin, that Katherine had possessed so much forethought, for
the attention of Cecilia Howard was directed much more to the comforts
of her uncle, than to those which were necessary for herself. Attended
by Alice Dunscombe, the young mistress of St. Ruth moved through the
solitary apartments of the building, listening to the mild, religious
consolation of her companion, in silence, at times yielding to those
bursts of mortified feeling, that she could not repress, or again as
calmly giving her orders to her maids, as if the intended movement was
one of but ordinary interest. All this time, the party in the dining
hall remained stationary. The Pilot, as if satisfied with what he had
already done, sunk back to his reclining attitude against the wall,
though his eyes keenly watched every movement of the preparations, in a
manner which denoted that his was the master spirit that directed the
whole. Griffith had, however, resumed, in appearance, the command, and
the busy seamen addressed themselves for orders to him alone. In this
manner an hour was consumed, when Cecilia and Katherine, appearing in
succession, attired in a suitable manner for their departure, and the
baggage of the whole party having been already entrusted to a petty
officer, and a party of his men, Griffith gave forth the customary
order to put the whole in motion. The shrill, piercing whistle of the
boatswain once more rung among the galleries and ceilings of the Abbey,
and was followed by the deep, hoarse cry of—
"Away, there! you shore-draft! away, there, you boarders! ahead,
heave ahead, sea-dogs!"
This extraordinary summons was succeeded bythe roll of a drum, and
the strains of a fife, from without, when the whole party moved from
the building in the order that had been previously prescribed by Capt.
Manual, who acted as the marshal of the forces on the occasion.
The Pilot had conducted his surprise with so much skill and secrecy
as to have secured every individual about the Abbey, whether male or
female, soldier or civilian; and as it might be dangerous to leave any
behind who could convey intelligence into the country, Griffith had
ordered that every human being, found in the building, should be
conducted to the cliffs; to be held in durance, at least, until the
departure of the last boat to the cutter, which he was informed, lay
close in to the land, awaiting their re-embarkation. The hurry of the
departure had caused many lights to be kindled in the Abbey, and the
contrast between the glare within, and the gloom without, was most
striking to the females, as they issued into the paddock. One of those
indefinable, and unaccountable feelings, which so often cross the human
mind, induced Cecilia to pause at the great gate of the grounds, and
look back at the Abbey, with a presentiment that she was to behold it
for the last time. The dark and ragged outline of the edifice was
clearly delineated against the northern sky, while the open windows,
and neglected doors, permitted a view of the solitude within. Twenty
tapers were shedding their useless light in the empty apartments, as if
in mockery of the deserted walls, and Cecilia turned, shuddering, from
the sight, to press nigher to the person of her indignant uncle, with a
secret impression, that her presence would soon be more necessary than
ever to his happiness.
The low hum of voices in front, with the occasional strains of the
fife, and the stern mandates of the sea-officers, soon recalled her,
however, from these visionary thoughts to the surrounding realities,
while the whole party pursued their way with diligence to the margin of
A chieftain to the Highlands bound,
Cries 'Boatman, do not tarry!
And I'll give thee a silver pound,
To row us o'er the ferry.'
— Lord Ullin's Daughter
The sky had been without a cloud during the day, the gale having
been dry and piercing, and thousands of stars were now shining through
a chill atmosphere. As the eye, therefore, became accustomed to the
change of light, it obtained a more distinct view of surrounding
objects. At the head of the line, that was stretched along the narrow
pathway, marched a platoon of the marines, who maintained the regular,
and steady front of trained warriors. They were followed, at some
little distance, by a large and confused body of seamen, heavily armed,
whose disposition to disorder and rude merriment, which became more
violent from their treading on solid ground, was with difficulty
restrained by the presence and severe rebukes of their own officers. In
the centre of this confused mass, the whole of the common prisoners
were placed, but were no otherwise attended to by their nautical guard,
than as they furnished the subjects of fun and numberless quaint jokes.
At some distance in their rear, marched Col. Howard and Borroughcliffe,
arm in arm,both maintaining the most rigid and dignified silence,
though under the influence of very bitter feelings. Behind these again,
and pressing as nigh as possible to her uncle, was Miss Howard, leaning
on the arm of Alice Dunscombe, and surrounded by the female domestics
of the establishment of St. Ruth. Katherine Plowden moved lightly by
herself, in the shadow of this group, with elastic steps, but with a
maiden coyness, that taught her to veil her satisfaction with the
semblance of captivity. Barnstable watched her movements with delight,
within six feet of her, but submitted to the air of caprice in his
mistress, which seemed to require that he should approach no nearer.
Griffith, avoiding the direct line of the party, walked on its skirts
in such a situation that his eye could command its whole extent, in
order, if necessary, to direct the movements. Another body of the
marines marched at the close of the procession, and Manual, in person,
brought up the rear. The music had ceased by command, and nothing was
now audible, but the regular tread of the soldiers, with the sighs of
the dying gale, interrupted occasionally by the voice of an officer, or
the hum of low dialogue.
"This has been a Scotch prize that we've taken," muttered a surly
old seaman; "a ship without head-money or cargo! There was kitchen
timber enough in the old jug of a place, to have given an outfit in
crockery and knee-buckles, to every lad in the ship; but, no! let a
man's mouth water ever so much for food and raiment, damme if the
officers would give him leave to steal even so good a thing as a spare
"You may say all that, and then make but a short yarn of the
truth," returned the messmate, who walked by his side; "if there had
been sucha thing as a ready-made prayer handy, they would have choused
a poor fellow out of the use of it.— I say, Ben, I'll tell ye what;
it's my opinion, that if a chap is to turn soldier and carry a musket,
he should have soldiers' play, and leave to plunder a little—now the
devil a thing have I laid my hands on to-night, except this firelock,
and my cutlash— unless you can call this bit of a table-cloth
something of a windfall."
"Ay! you have fallen in there with a fresh bolt of duck, I see!"
said the other, in manifest admiration of the texture of his
companion's prize —"why, it would spread as broad a clue as our
mizen-royal, if it was loosened! well, your luck hasn't been every
man's luck—for my part, I think this here hat was made for some
fellow's great toe; I've rigged it on my head both foreand-aft, and
athwart ships; but curse the inch can I drive it down—I say, Sam!
you'll give us a shirt off that table cloth?"
"Ay, ay, you can have one corner of it; or for that matter, ye can
take the full half, Nick; but I don't see that we go off to the ship
any richer than we landed, unless you may muster she-cattle among your
"No richer!" interrupted a waggish young sailor, who had been
hitherto a silent listener to the conversation between his older, and
more calculating shipmates; "I think we are set up for a cruise in them
seas where the day watches last six months; don't you see we have
caught a double allowance of midnight!"
While speaking he laid his hands on the bare and woolly heads of
Col. Howard's two black slaves, who were moving near him, both occupied
in mournful forebodings on the results that were to flow from this
unexpected loss of their liberty. "Slue your faces this way,
gentlemen," he added; "there; don't you think that a sight to put out
the binnacle lamps? there's darkness visible for ye!"
"Let the niggars alone," grumbled one of the more aged speakers;
"what are ye sky-larking with the like of them for? the next thing
they'll sing out, and then you'll hear one of the officers in your
wake. For my part, Nick, I can't see why it is that we keep dodging
along shore here, with less than ten fathoms under us, when, by
stretching into the broad Atlantic, we might fall in with a Jamaica-man
every day or two, and have sugar hogsheads, and rum puncheons as plenty
aboard us as hard fare is now."
"It is all owing to that Pilot," returned the other; "for d'ye see,
if there was no bottom, there would be no Pilots. This is dangerous
cruising ground, where we stretch into five fathoms, and then drop our
lead on a sand-spit, or a rock! Besides, they make night work of it
too! If we had day-light for fourteen hours instead of seven, a man
might trust to feeling his way for the other ten."
"Now, a'n't ye a couple of old horse-marines!" again interrupted
the young sailor; "don't you see that Congress wants us to cut up
Johnny Bull's coasters, and that old Blow-Hard has found the days too
short for his business, and so he has landed a party to get hold of
night. Here we have him! and when we get off to the ship, we shall put
him under hatches, and then you'll see the face of the sun again! Come,
my lilies! let these two old gentlemen look into your cabin
windows—what? you won't! Then I must squeeze your woollen night-caps
The negroes, who had been submitting to his humours with the abject
humility of slavery, nowgave certain low intimations that they were
suffering pain, under the rough manipulation of their tormentor.
"What's that!" cried a stern voice, whose boyish tones seemed to
mock the air of authority that was assumed by the speaker—"who's that,
I say, raising that cry among ye?"
The wilful young man slowly removed his two hands from the woolly
polls of the slaves, but as he suffered them to fall reluctantly along
their sable temples, he gave the ear of one of the blacks a tweak that
caused him to give vent to another cry, that was uttered with a much
greater confidence of sympathy than before.
"Do ye hear, there!" repeated Merry— "who's sky-larking with those
"'Tis no one, sir," the sailor answered with affected gravity; "one
of the pale faces has hit his shin against a cob-web, and it has made
his ear ache!"
"Harkye, you mister Jack Joker! how came you in the midst of the
prisoners! did not I order you to handle your pike, sir, and to keep in
the outer line!"
"Ay, ay, sir, you did; and I obeyed orders as long as I could; but
these niggars have made the night so dark, that I lost my way!"
A low laugh passed through the confused crowd of seamen, and even
the midshipman might have been indulging himself in a similar manner at
this specimen of quaint humour, from the fellow, who was one of those
licensed men that are to be found in every ship. At length—
"Well, sir," he said, "you have found out your false reckoning now;
so get you back to the place where bid you stay."
"Ay, ay, sir, I'm going. By all the blundersin the purser's book,
Mr. Merry, but that cobweb has made one of these niggars shed tears! Do
let me stay to catch a little ink, sir, to write a letter with to my
poor old mother—devil the line has she had from me since we sailed
from the Chesapeake!"
"If ye don't mind me at once, Mr. Jack Joker, I'll lay my cutlass
over your head," returned Merry, his voice now betraying a much greater
sympathy in the sufferings of that abject race, who are still in some
measure, but who formerly were much more, the butts of the unthinking
and licentious among our low countrymen; "then ye can write your letter
in red ink if ye will!"
"I wouldn't do it for the world," said Joker, sneaking away,
towards his proper station—"the old lady wouldn't forget the hand, and
swear it was a forgery—I wonder, though, if the breakers on the coast
of Guinea be black! as I've heard old seamen say who have cruised in
His idle levity was suddenly interrupted by a voice that spoke
above the low hum of the march, with an air of authority, and a
severity of tone, that could always quell, by a single word, the most
violent ebullition of merriment in the crew.
The low buzzing sounds of "Ay, there goes Mr. Griffith!" and of
"Jack has woke up the first lieutenant, he had better now go to sleep
himself;" were heard passing among the men. But these suppressed
communications soon ceased, and even Jack Joker himself pursued his way
with diligence, on the skirts of the party, as mutely as if the power
of speech did not belong to his organization.
The reader has too often accompanied us over the ground between the
Abbey and the ocean, to require any description of the route pursued
bythe seamen during the preceding characteristic dialogue; and we shall
at once pass to the incidents which occurred on the arrival of the
party at the cliffs. As the man who had so unexpectedly assumed a
momentary authority within St. Ruth, had unaccountably disappeared from
among them, Griffith continued to exercise the right of command,
without referring to any other for consultation. He never addressed
himself to Barnstable, and it was apparent that both the haughty young
men felt that the tie which had hitherto united them in such close
intimacy, was, for the present at least, entirely severed. Indeed,
Griffith was only restrained by the presence of Cecilia and Katherine,
from arresting his refractory inferior on the spot; and Barnstable, who
felt all the consciousness of error, without its proper humility, with
difficulty so far repressed his feelings, as to forbear exhibiting in
the presence of his mistress, such a manifestation of his spirit as his
wounded vanity induced him to imagine was necessary to his honour. The
two, however, acted in harmony on one subject, though it was without
concert or communication. The first object with both the young men, was
to secure the embarkation of the fair cousins; and Barnstable proceeded
instantly to the boats, in order to hasten the preparations that were
necessary before they could receive these unexpected captives.—The
descent of the Pilot having been made in such force as to require the
use of all the frigate's boats, which were left riding in the outer
edge of the surf, awaiting the return of the expedition. A loud call
from Barnstable gave notice to the officer in command, and in a few
moments the beach was crowded with the busy and active crews of the
"cutters," "launches," "barges," "jolly-boats," "pinnaces," or by
whatever names the custom of the times attachedto the different
attendants of vessels of war. Had the fears of the ladies themselves
been consulted, the frigate's launch would have been selected for their
use, on account of its size; but Barnstable, who would have thought
such a choice on his part humiliating to his guests, ordered the long,
low barge of Capt. Munson to be drawn upon the sand, it being
peculiarly the boat of honour. The hands of fifty men were applied to
the task, and it was soon announced to Col. Howard and his wards, that
the little vessel was ready for their reception. Manual had halted on
the summit of the cliffs with the whole body of the marines, where he
was busily employed in posting picquets and sentinels, and giving the
necessary instructions to his men to cover the embarkation of the
seamen, in a style that he conceived to be altogether military. The
mass of the common prisoners, including the inferior domestics of the
Abbey, and the men of Borroughcliffe, were also held in the same place,
under a suitable guard; but Col. Howard and his companion, attended by
the ladies and their own maids, had descended the rugged path to the
beach, and were standing passively on the sands, when the intelligence
that the boat waited for them, was announced.
"Where is he?" asked Alice Dunscombe, turning her head, as if
anxiously searching for some other than those around her.
"Where is who?" inquired Barnstable; "we are all here, and the boat
"And will he tear me—even me, from the home of my infancy! the
land of my birth and my affections!"
"I know not of whom you speak, madam, but if it be of Mr. Griffith,
he stands there, just without that cluster of seamen."
Griffith, hearing himself thus named, approached the ladies, and,
for the first time since leaving the Abbey, addressed them:—"I hope I
am already understood," he said, "and that it is unnecessary for me to
say, that no female here is a prisoner; though should any choose to
trust themselves on board our ship, I pledge to them the honour of an
officer, that they shall find themselves protected, and safe."
"Then will I not go," said Alice.
"It is not expected of you," said Cecilia; "you have no ties to
bind you to any here."— (The eyes of Alice, were still wandering over
the listeners.) "Go, then, Miss Alice, and be the mistress of St. Ruth,
until my return; or," she added, timidly, "until Col. Howard may
declare his pleasure."
"I obey you, dear child; but the agent of Col. Howard, at B—will
undoubtedly be authorized to take charge of his effects."
While no one but his niece alluded to his will, the master of the
Abbey had found, in his resentment, a sufficient apology for his rigid
demeanor; but he was far too well bred to hear, in silence, such a
modest appeal to his wishes, from so fair, and so loyal a subject as
"To relieve you, madam, and for no other reason, will I speak on
this subject," he said; "otherwise, I should leave the doors and
windows of St. Ruth open, as a melancholy monument of rebellion, and
seek my future compensation from the Crown, when the confiscated
estates of the leaders of this accursed innovation on the rights of
Princes, shall come to the hammer. But you, Miss Alice, are entitled to
every consideration that a lady can expect from a gentleman. Be
pleased, therefore, to write to my agent, and request him toseal up my
papers, and transmit them to the office of his Majesty's Secretary of
State. They breathe no treason, madam, and are entitled to official
protection. The house, and most of the furniture, as you know, are the
property of my landlord, who, in due time, will doubtless take charge
of his own interest. I kiss your hand, Miss Alice, and I hope we shall
yet meet at St. James's—depend on it, madam, that the Royal Charlotte
shall yet honour your merits; I know she cannot but estimate your
"Here I was born, in humble obscurity—here I have lived, and here
I hope to die in quiet," returned the meek Alice; "if I have known any
pleasure, in late years, beyond that which every Christian can find in
our daily duties, it has been, my sweet friends, in your accidental
society.— Such companions, in this remote corner of the kingdom, has
been a boon too precious to be enjoyed without alloy, it seems, and I
have now to exchange the past pleasure for present pain. Adieu! my
young friends; let your trust be in Him, to whose eyes both prince and
peasant, the European and the American, are alike, and we shall meet
again, though it be neither in the island of Britain, nor on your own
"That," said Col. Howard, advancing and taking her hand with
kindness, "that is the only disloyal sentiment I have ever heard fall
from the lips of Miss Alice Dunscombe! Is it to be supposed that Heaven
has established orders among men, and that it does not respect the
works of its own formation! But adieu; no doubt if time was allowed us
for suitable explanations, we should find but little or no difference
of opinion on this subject."
Alice did not appear to consider the matter as worthy of further
discussion at such a moment, forshe gently returned the colonel's
leave-taking, and then gave her undivided attention to her female
friends. Cecilia wept bitterly on the shoulder of her respected
companion, giving vent to her regret at parting, and her excited
feelings, at the same moment; and Katherine pressed to the side of
Alice, with the kindliness prompted by her warm, but truant heart.
Their embraces were given and received in silence, and each of the
young ladies moved towards the boat, as she withdrew herself from the
arms of Miss Dunscombe. Col. Howard would not precede his wards,
neither would he assist them into the barge. That attention they
received from Barnstable, who, after seeing the ladies and their
attendants seated, turned to the gentlemen, and observed—
"The boat waits."
"Well, Miss Alice," said Borroughcliffe, in bitterirony, "you are
entrusted, by our excellent host, with a message to his agent; will you
do a similar service to me, and write a report to the commander of the
district, and just tell him what a dolt— ay, use the plainest terms,
and say what an ass, one Capt. Borroughcliffe has proved himself in
this affair. You may throw in, by way of episode, that he has been
playing bo-peep with a rebellious young lady from the Colonies, and,
like a great boy, has had his head broken for his pains! Come, my
worthy host, or rather, fellow prisoner, I follow you, as in duty
"Stay," cried Griffith; "Capt. Borroughcliffe does not embark in
"Ha! sir; am I to be herded with the common men? Forget you that I
have the honour to bear the commission of his Britannic Majesty, and
"I forget nothing that a gentleman is bound to remember, Capt.
Borroughcliffe; among other things, I recollect the liberality of your
treatment to myself, when a prisoner. The instant the safety of my
command will justify such a step, not only you, but your men, shall be
set at liberty."
Borroughcliffe started in surprise; but his feelings were too much
soured by the destruction of those visions of glory, in which he had
been luxuriously indulging for the last day or two, to admit of his
answering as became a man. He swallowed his emotions, therefore, by a
violent effort, and walked along the beach, affecting to whistle a low,
but lively air.
"Well, then," cried Barnstable—"all our captives are seated. The
boat waits only for its officers!"
In his turn, Griffith walked away, in haughty silence, as if
disdaining to hold communion with his former friend. Barnstable paused
a moment, from a deference that long habit had created for his superior
officer, and which was not to be shaken off by every burst of angry
passion; but perceiving that the other had no intention to return, he
ordered the seamen to raise the boat from the sand and bear it bodily
into the water. The command was instantly obeyed; and by the time the
young lieutenant was in his seat the barge was floating in the still
heavy, though no longer dangerous surf, and the crew sprang into their
"Bear her off, boys!" he cried; "never mind a wet jacket. I've seen
many a worthy fellow tumbling on this beach in a worse time than this!
Now you have her head to sea; give way, my souls, give way."
The seamen rose simultaneously at their oars,and, by an united
effort, obtained the command of their boat; which, after making a few
sudden ascents and as many heavy pitches in the breakers, gained the
smoother seas of the swelling ocean, and stemmed the waters, in a
direction for the place where the Alacrity was supposed to be in
His only plot was this—that much provoked,
He raised his vengeful arm against his country.
Alice Dunscombe remained on the sands, watching the dark spot that
was soon hid amid the waves, in the obscurity of night, and listening,
with melancholy interest, to the regulated sounds of the oars, which
were audible long after the boat had been blended with the gloomy
outline of the eastern horizon. When all traces of her departed friends
were to be found only in her own recollections, she slowly turned from
the sea, and hastening to quit the bustling throng, that were preparing
for the embarkation of the rest of the party, she ascended the path
that conducted her once more to the summit of those cliffs, along which
she had so often roved, gazing at the boundless element that washed
their base, with sensations that might have been peculiar to her own
The soldiers of Borroughcliffe, who were stationed at the head of
the pass, respectfully made way; nor did any of the sentinels of Manual
heed her retiring figure, until she approached the rear guard of the
marines, who were commanded by their vigilant captain in person.
"Who goes there!" cried Manual, advancing without the dusky group
of soldiers, as she approached them.
"One who possesses neither the power nor the inclination to do ye
harm," answered the solitary female; "'tis Alice Dunscombe, returning,
by permission of your leader, to the place of her birth."
"Ay," muttered Manual, "this is one of Griffith's unmilitary
exhibitions of his politeness! does the man think that there was ever a
woman who had no tongue! Have you the countersign, madam, that I may
know you bear a sufficient warrant to pass?"
"I have no other warrant besides my sex and weakness, unless Mr.
Griffith's knowledge that I have left him, can be so construed."
"The two former are enough," said a voice, that proceeded from a
figure which had hitherto stood unseen, shaded by the trunk of an oak,
that spread its wide, but naked arms nearly over the spot where the
guard was paraded.
"Who have we here!" Manual again cried; "come in; yield or you will
be fired at."
"What, will the gallant Capt. Manual fire on his own rescuer!" said
the Pilot, with cool disdain, as he advanced from the shadow of the
tree. "He had better reserve his bullets for his enemies, than waste
them on his friends."
"You have done a dangerous deed, sir, in approaching,
clandestinely, a guard of marines! I wonder that a man who has
discovered already, to-night, that he has some knowledge of tactics, by
so ably conducting a surprise, should betray so much ignorance in the
forms of approaching a picquet!"
"'Tis now of no moment," returned the Pilot; "my knowledge and my
ignorance are alike immaterial, as the command of the party is
surrendered to other, and perhaps more proper hands. But I would talk
to this lady alone, sir; she is an acquaintance of my youth, and I will
see her part of the way back to the Abbey."
"The step would be unmilitary, Mr. Pilot, and you will excuse me if
I do not consent to any of our expedition straggling without the
sentries. If you choose to remain here to hold your discourse, I will
march the picquet out of hearing; though I must acknowledge I see no
ground so favourable as this we are on, to keep you within the range of
our eyes. You perceive that I have a ravine to retreat into, in case of
surprise, with this line of wall on my left flank, and the trunk of
that tree to cover my right. A very pretty stand might be made here, on
emergency; for even the oldest troops fight the best when their flanks
are properly covered, and a way to make a regular retreat is open in
"Say no more, sir; I would not break up such a position on any
account," returned the Pilot; "Miss Dunscombe will consent to retrace
her path for a short distance."
Alice followed his steps, in compliance with this request, until he
had led her to a place, at some little distance from the marines, where
a tree had been prostrated by the late gale. She seated herself quietly
on its trunk, and appeared to await with patience his own time for the
explanation of his motives, in seeking this interview. The Pilot paced,
for several minutes, back and forth, in front of the place where she
was seated, in profound silence, as if communing with himself, when,
suddenly throwing off his air of absence, he came to her side, and
assumed a position similar to that which she herself had taken.
"The hour is at hand, Alice, when we mustpart," he at length
commenced; it rests with yourself whether it shall be for ever."
"Let it then be for ever, John," she returned, with a slight tremor
in her voice.
"That word would have been less appalling, had this accidental
meeting never occurred. And yet your choice may have been determined by
prudence—for what is there in my fate that can tempt a woman to wish
that she might share it!"
"If ye mean your lot is that of one who can find but few, or even
none, to partake of his joys, or to share in his sorrows, whose life is
a continual scene of dangers and calamities, of disappointments and
mishaps, then do ye know but little of the heart of woman, if ye doubt
of either her ability or her willingness, to meet them with the man of
"Say you thus, Alice! then have I misunderstood your meaning, or
misinterpreted your acts. My lot is not altogether that of a neglected
man, unless the favour of princes, and the smiles of queens, can be
thus termed! My life is, however, one of many and fearful dangers; and
yet it is not filled altogether with calamities and mishaps; is it,
Alice?" He paused a moment, but in vain, for her answer. "Nay, then, I
have been deceived in the estimation that the world has affixed to my
combats and enterprises! I am not, Alice, the man I would be, or even
the man I had deemed myself."
"You have gained a name, John, among the warriors of the age," she
answered, in a subdued voice; "and it is a name that may be said to be
written in blood!"
"The blood of my enemies, Alice!"
"The blood of the subjects of your natural prince! The blood of
those who breathe the airyou first breathed, and who were taught the
same holy lessons of instruction that you were first taught; but which,
I fear, you have too soon forgotten!"
"The blood of the slaves of despotism!" he sternly interrupted her;
"the blood of the enemies of freedom! you have dwelt so long in this
dull retirement, and you have cherished so blindly the prejudices of
your youth, that the promise of those noble sentiments I once thought I
could see budding in Alice Dunscombe, has not been fulfilled."
"I have lived and thought only as a woman, as become my sex and
station," Alice meekly replied; "and when it shall be necessary for me
to live and think otherwise, I should wish to die."
"Ay, there lie the first seeds of slavery! A dependant woman is
sure to make the mother of craven and abject wretches, who dishonour
the name of man!"
"I shall never be the mother of children good or bad"—said Alice,
with that resignation in her tones that showed she had abandoned the
natural hopes of her sex.—"Singly and unsupported have I lived; alone
and unlamented must I be carried to my grave."
The exquisite pathos of her voice, as she uttered this placid
speech, blended as it was with the sweet and calm dignity of virgin
pride, touched the heart of her listener, and he continued silent many
moments, as if in reverence of her determination. Her sentiments
awakened in his own breast those feelings of generosity and
disinterestedness, which had nearly been smothered in restless ambition
and the pride of success. He resumed the discourse, therefore, more
mildly, and with amuch greater exhibition of deep feeling, and less of
passion, in his manner.
"I know not, Alice, that I ought, situated as I am, and contented,
if not happy, as you are, even to attempt to revive in your bosom those
sentiments which I was once led to think existed there. It cannot,
after all, be a desirable fate, to share the lot of a rover like
myself; one who may be termed a Quixotte in the behalf of liberal
principles, and who may be hourly called to seal the truth of those
principles with his life."
"There never existed any sentiment in my breast, in which you are
concerned, that does not exist there still, and unchanged," returned
Alice, with her single-hearted sincerity.
"Do I hear you aright! or have I misconceived your resolution to
abide in England! or have I not rather mistaken your early feelings?"
"You have fallen into no error now nor then. The weakness may still
exist, John, but the strength to struggle with it, has, by the goodness
of God, grown with my years. It is not, however, of myself, but of you,
that I would speak. I have lived like one of our simple daisies, which
in the budding may have caught your eye; and I shall also wilt like the
humble flower, when the winter of my time arrives, without being missed
from the fields that have known me for a season. But your fall, John,
will be like that of the oak that now supports us, and men shall
pronounce on the beauty and grandeur of the noble stem while standing,
as well as of its usefulness when felled."
"Let them pronounce as they will!" returned the proud stranger.
"The truth must be finally known, and when that hour shall come, they
will say, he was a faithful and gallant warrior in his day; and a
worthy lesson for all who are born inslavery, but would live in
freedom, shall be found in his example!"
"Such may be the language of that distant people, whom ye have
adopted in the place of those that once formed home and kin to ye,"
said Alice, glancing her eye timidly at his countenance, as if to
discern how far she might venture, without awakening his resentment;
"but what will the men of the land of your birth transmit to their
children, who will be the children of those that are of your own
"They will say, Alice, whatever their crooked policy may suggest,
or their disappointed vanity can urge. But the picture must be drawn by
the friends of the hero as well as by his enemies! Think you that there
are not pens as well as swords in America?"
"I have heard that America called a land, John, where God has
lavished his favours with an unsparing hand; where he has bestowed many
climes with their several fruits, and where his power is exhibited no
less than his mercy. It is said her rivers are without any known end,
and that lakes are found in her bosom, which would put our German ocean
to shame! That plains, teeming with verdure, are spread over wide
degrees, and yet those sweet valleys, which a single heart can hold,
are not wanting. In short, John, I hear it is a broad land, that can
furnish food for each passion, and contain objects for every
"Ay, you have found those, Alice, in your solitude, who have been
willing to do her justice! It is a country, that can form a world of
itself; and why should they who inherit it, look to other nations for
"I pretend not to reason on the right of the children of that soil,
to do whatever they maydeem most meet for their own welfare," returned
Alice—"but can men be born in such a land, and not know the feeling
which binds a human being to the place of his birth?"
"Can you doubt that they should be patriotic?" exclaimed the Pilot,
in surprise. "Do not their efforts in this sacred cause—their patient
sufferings— their long privations, speak loudly in their behalf?"
"And will they, who know so well how to love home, sing the praises
of him, who has turned his ruthless hand against the land of his
"Forever harping on that word, home!" said the Pilot, who now
detected the timid approaches of Alice to her hidden meaning. "Is man a
stick or a stone, that he must be cast into the fire, or buried in a
wall, wherever his fate may have doomed him to appear on the earth? The
sound of home is said to feed the vanity of an Englishman, let him go
where he will; but it would seem to have a still more powerful charm
with English women!"
"It is the dearest of all terms to every woman, John, for it
embraces the dearest of all ties! If your dames of America are ignorant
of its charm, all the favours which God has lavished on their land,
will avail their happiness but little."
"Alice," said the Pilot, rising in his agitation, "I see but too
well the object of your allusions. But on this subject we can never
agree; for not even your power can draw me from the path of glory in
which I am now treading. Our time is growing brief; let us then talk of
other things.— This may be the last time that I shall ever put foot on
the island of Britain."
Alice paused to struggle with the feelings excited by this remark,
before she pursued the discourse. But, soon shaking off the weakness,
she added, with a rigid adherence to that course which she believed to
he her duty—
"And now, John, that you have landed, is the breaking up of a
peaceful family, and the violence ye have shown towards an aged man, a
fit exploit for one whose object is the glory of which ye have spoken?"
"Think you that I have landed, and placed my life in the hands of
my enemies, for so unworthy an object! No, Alice, my motive for this
undertaking has been disappointed, and therefore will ever remain a
secret from the world. But duty to my cause has prompted the step which
you so unthinkingly condemn. This Col. Howard has some consideration
with those in power, and will answer to exchange for a better man. As
for his wards, you forget their home, their magical home, is in
America; unless, indeed, they find them nearer at hand, under the proud
flag of a frigate, that is now waiting for them in the offing."
"You talk of a frigate!" said Alice, with sudden interest in the
subject—"Is she your only means of escaping from your enemies?"
"Alice Dunscombe has taken but little heed of passing events, to
ask such a question of me!" returned the haughty Pilot. "The question
would have sounded more discreetly, had it been, 'is she the only
vessel with you that your enemies will have to escape from?' "
"Nay, I cannot measure my language at such a moment," continued
Alice, with a still stronger exhibition of anxiety. "It was my fortune
to overhear a part of a plan that was intended to destroy, by sudden
means, those vessels of America that were in our seas."
"That might be a plan more suddenly adopted than it can be
executed, my good Alice. And who were those redoubtable schemers?"
"I know not but my duty to the king should cause me to suppress
this information," said Alice, hesitating.
"Well, be it so," returned the Pilot, coolly; "it may prove the
means of saving the persons of some of the royal officers from death or
captivity. I have already said, this may be the last of my visits to
this island, and consequently, Alice, the last of our interviews—"
"And yet," said Alice, as if pursuing the train of her own
thoughts, "there can be but little harm in sparing human blood; and
least of all in serving those whom we have long known and regarded!"
"Ay, that is a simple doctrine, and one that is easily maintained,"
he added, with much apparent indifference; "and yet king George might
well spare some of his servants—the list of the abject minions is so
"There was a man named Dillon, who lately dwelt in the Abbey, but
who has mysteriously disappeared," continued Alice; "or rather who was
captured by your companions: know you aught of him, John?"
"I have heard there was a miscreant of that name, but we have never
met. Alice, if it please heaven that this shall be the last"—
"He was a captive in a schooner called the Ariel," she added, still
unheeding his affected indifference to her communication—and when
permitted to return to St. Ruth, he lost sight of his solemn promise,
and of his plighted honour, to wreak his malice. Instead of effecting
the exchange that he had conditioned to see made, he plotted treason
against his captors. Yes! it was most foul treason! for his treatment
was generous and kind, and his liberation certain."
"He was a most unworthy scoundrel! But, Alice"—
"Nay, listen, John," she continued, urged to even a keener interest
in his behalf, by his apparent inattention; "and yet I should speak
tenderly of his failings, for he is already numbered with the dead! One
part of his scheme must have been frustrated, for he intended to
destroy that schooner which you call the Ariel, and to have taken the
person of the young Barnstable."
"In both of which he has failed! The person of Barnstable I have
rescued, and the Ariel has been stricken by a hand far mightier than
any of this world! she is wrecked."
"Then is the frigate your only means of escape! Hasten, John, and
seem not so proud and heedless, for the hour may come when all your
daring will not profit ye against the machinations of secret enemies.
This Dillon had also planned that expresses should journey to a
sea-port at the south, with the intelligence that your vessels were in
these seas, in order that ships might be despatched to intercept your
The Pilot lost his affected indifference as she proceeded, and
before she ceased speaking, his eye was endeavouring to anticipate her
words, by reading her countenance through the dusky medium of the
"How know you this, Alice?" he asked quickly—"and what vessel did
"Chance made me an unseen listener to their plan, and—I know not
but I forget my duty to my prince! —but, John, 'tis asking too much of
weak woman, to require that she shall see the man whom she once viewed
with eyes of favour, sacrificed, whena word of caution, given in
season, might enable him to avoid the danger!"
"Once viewed with an eye of favour! Is it then so!" said the Pilot,
speaking in a vacant manner. "But, Alice, heard ye the force of the
ships, or their names? Give me their names, and the first lord of your
British admiralty shall not give so true an account of their force, as
I will furnish from this list of my own."
"Their names were certainly mentioned," said Alice, with tender
melancholy, "but the name of one far nearer to me was ringing in my
ears, and has driven them from my mind."
"You are the same good Alice I once knew! And my name was
mentioned? What said they of the Pirate? Had his arm stricken a blow
that made them tremble in their Abbey? Did they call him coward, girl?"
"It was mentioned in terms that pained my heart as I listened. For,
it is ever too easy a task to forget the lapse of years, nor are the
feelings of youth to be easily eradicated."
"Ay, there is luxury in knowing, that with all their affected
abuse, the slaves dread me in their secret holds!" exclaimed the Pilot,
pacing in front of his listener, with quick steps. "This it is to be
marked, among men, above all others in your calling! I hope yet to see
the day when the third George shall start at the sound of that name,
even within the walls of his palace."
Alice Dunscombe heard him in deep and mortified silence; for it was
too evident that a link in the chain of their sympathies was broken,
and that the weakness in which she had been unconsciously indulging,
was met by no correspondent emotions in him. After sinking her head for
a moment on her bosom, she arose with a little morethan her usual air
of meekness, and recalled the Pilot to a sense of her presence, by
saying, in a yet milder voice—
"I have now communicated all that it can profit you to know, and it
is meet that we separate."
"What, thus soon!" he cried, starting and taking her hand. "This is
but a short interview, Alice, to precede so long a separation."
"Be it short, or be it long, it must now end," she replied. "Your
companions are on the eve of departure, and I trust you would be one of
the last who would wish to be deserted. If ye do visit England again, I
hope it may be with altered sentiments, so far as regards her
interests. I wish ye peace, John, and the blessings of God, as ye may
be found to deserve them."
"I ask no farther, unless it may be the aid of your gentle prayers!
But the night is gloomy, and I will see you in safety to the Abbey."
"It is unnecessary," she returned, with womanly reserve. "The
innocent can be as fearless on occasion, as the most valiant among you
warriors. But here is no cause for fear. I will take a path that will
conduct me in a different way from that which is occupied by your
soldiers, and where I shall find none but Him who is ever present to
protect the helpless. Once more, John, I bid ye adieu." Her voice
faltered as she continued—"ye will share the lot of humanity, and have
your hours of care and weakness; at such moments ye can remember those
ye leave on this despised island, and perhaps among them ye may think
of some whose interest in your welfare has been far removed from
"God be with you, Alice!" he said, touched with her emotion, and
losing all vain images inmore worthy feelings—"but I cannot permit you
to go alone."
"Here we part, John," she said firmly, "and for ever! 'Tis for the
happiness of both, for I fear we have but little in common." She gently
wrested her hand from his grasp, and once more bidding him adieu, in a
voice that was nearly inaudible, she turned and slowly disappeared,
moving, with lingering steps, in the direction of the Abbey.
The first impulse of the Pilot was, certainly, to follow, and
insist on seeing her on the way; but the music of the guard on the
cliffs, at that moment sent forth its martial strains, and the whistle
of the boatswain was heard winding its shrill call among the rocks, in
those notes that his practised ear well understood to be the last
signal for embarking.
Obedient to the summons, this singular man, in whose breast the
natural feelings, that were now on the eve of a violent eruption, had
so long been smothered by the visionary expectations of a wild
ambition, and perhaps of fierce resentments, pursued his course, in
deep abstraction, towards the boats. He was soon met by the soldiers of
Borroughcliffe, deprived of their arms, it is true, but unguarded, and
returning peacefully to their quarters. The mind of the Pilot, happily
for the liberty of these men, was too much absorbed in his peculiar
reflections, to note this act of Griffith's generosity, nor did he
arouse from his musing until his steps were arrested by suddenly
encountering a human figure in the path-way. A light tap on his
shoulder was the first mark of recognition he received, when
Borroughcliffe, who stood before him, said—
"It is evident, sir, from what has passed this evening, that you
are not what you seem. You may be some rebel admiral or general, for
aught that I know, the right to command having been strangely contested
among ye this night. But let who will own the chief authority, I take
the liberty of whispering in your ear that I have been scurvily treated
by you—I repeat, most scurvily treated by you all, generally, and by
you in particular."
The Pilot started at this strange address, which was uttered with
all the bitterness that could be imparted to it by a disappointed man,
but he motioned with his hand for the captain to depart, and turned
aside to pursue his own way.
"Perhaps I am not properly understood," continued the obstinate
soldier; "I say, sir, you have treated me scurvily, and I would not be
thought to say this to any gentleman, without wishing to give him an
opportunity to vent his anger."
The eye of the Pilot, as he moved forward, glanced at the pistols
which Borroughcliffe held in his hands, the one by the handle, and the
other by its barrel, and the soldier even fancied that his footsteps
were quickened by the sight. After gazing at him until his form was
lost in the darkness, the captain muttered to himself—
"He is no more than a common Pilot after all! No true gentleman
would have received so palpable a hint with such a start. Ah! here
comes the party of my worthy friend whose palate knows a grape of the
north side of Madeira, from one of the south. The dog has the throat of
a gentleman! we will see how he can swallow a delicate allusion to his
Borroughcliffe stepped aside to allow the marines, who were also in
motion for the boats, to pass, and watched with keen looks for the
person of the commander. Manual, who had been previously apprized of
the intention of Griffith torelease the prisoners, had halted to see
that none but those who had been liberated by authority, were marching
into the country. This accidental circumstance gave Borroughcliffe an
opportunity of meeting the other at some little distance from either of
their respective parties.
"I greet you, sir," said Borroughcliffe, "with all affection. This
has been a pleasant forage for you, Capt. Manual."
The marine was far from being disposed to wrangle, but there was
that in the voice of the other which caused him to answer—
"It would have been far pleasanter, sir, if I had met an
opportunity of returning to Capt. Borroughcliffe some of the favours
that I have received at his hands."
"Nay, then, dear sir, you weigh my modesty to the earth! Surely you
forget the manner in which my hospitality has been requited—by some
two hours' mouthing of my sword hilt; with a very unceremonious
ricochet into a corner; together with a love-tap, received over the
shoulders of one of my men, by so gentle an instrument as the butt of a
musket! Damme, sir, but I think an ungrateful man only a better sort of
"Had the love tap been given to the officer instead of the man,"
returned Manual, with all commendable coolness, "it would have been
better justice; and the ramrod might have answered as well as the butt,
to floor a gentleman who carried the allowance of four thirsty fiddlers
under one man's jacket."
"Now, that is rank ingratitude to your own cordial of the south
side, and a most biting insult! I really see but one way of terminating
this wordy war, which if not discreetly ended, may lead us far into the
"Elect your own manner of determining the dispute, sir; I hope,
however, it will not be by your innate knowledge of mankind, which has
already mistaken a captain of marines in the service of Congress, for a
runaway lover, bound to some green place or other."
"You might just as well tweak my nose, sir!" said Borroughcliffe.
"Indeed, I think it would be the milder reproach of the two! will you
make your selection of these, sir? They were loaded for a very
different sort of service, but I doubt not will answer on occasion."
"I am provided with a pair, that are charged for any service,"
returned Manual, drawing a pistol from his own belt, and stepping
backward a few paces.
"You are destined for America, I know," said Borroughcliffe, who
stood his ground with consummate coolness; "but it would be more
convenient for me, sir, if you could delay your march for a single
"Fire and defend yourself!" exclaimed Manual furiously, retracing
his steps towards his enemy.
The sounds of the two pistols were blended in one report, and the
soldiers of Borroughcliffe and the marines all rushed to the place, on
the sudden alarm. Had the former been provided with arms, it is
probable a bloody fray would have been the consequence of the sight
that both parties beheld on arriving at the spot, which they did
simultaneously. Manual lay on his back, without any signs of life, and
Borroughcliffe had changed his cool, haughty, upright attitude, for a
recumbent posture, which was somewhat between lying and sitting.
"Is the poor fellow actually expended?" said the Englishman, in
something like the tones of regret; "well, he had a soldier's metal in
him, and was nearly as great a fool as myself!"
The marines had, luckily for the soldiers and their captain, by
this time discovered the signs of life in their own commander, who had
been only slightly stunned by the bullet which had grazed his crown,
and who being assisted on his feet, stood a minute or two rubbing his
head, as if awaking from a dream. As Manual came gradually to his
senses he recollected the business in which he had just been engaged,
and, in his turn, inquired after the fate of his antagonist.
"I am here, my worthy incognito," cried the other, with a voice of
perfect good nature; "lying in the lap of mother Earth, and all the
better for opening a vein or two in my right leg;—though I do think
that the same effect might have been produced without treating the bone
so roughly!—But I opine that I saw you also reclining on the bosom of
our common ancestor."
"I was down for a few minutes, I do believe," returned Manual;
"there is the path of a bullet across my scalp!"
"Humph! on the head!" said Borroughcliffe, dryly; "the hurt is not
likely to be mortal, I see —Well, I shall offer to raffle with the
first poor devil I can find that has but one good leg, for who shall
have both; and that will just set up a beggar and a gentleman!—Manual,
give me your hand; we have drank together, and we have fought; surely
there is nothing now to prevent our being sworn friends!"
"Why," returned Manual, continuing to rub his head, "I see no
irremoveable objections—but you will want a surgeon? can I order any
thing to be done? There go the signals again to embark— march the
fellows down at quick time, sergeant; myown man may remain with me, or,
I can do altogether without assistance."
"Ah! you are what I call a well made man, my dear friend!"
exclaimed Borroughcliffe; "no weak points about your fortress! such a
man is worthy to be the head of a whole corps, instead of a solitary
company;—Gently, Drill, gently; handle me as if I were made of
potter's clay;—I will not detain you longer, my friend Manual, for I
hear signal after signal; they must be in want of some of your
astonishing reasoning faculties to set them afloat.
Manual might have been offended at the palpable allusions that his
new friend made to the firmness of his occiput, had not his perception
of things been a little confused, by a humming sound that seemed to
abide near the region of thought. As it was, he reciprocated the good
wishes of the other, whom he shook most cordially by the hand, and once
more renewed his offers of service, after exchanging sundry friendly
"I thank you quite as much as if I were not at all indebted to you
for letting blood, thereby saving me a fit of apoplexy; but Drill has
already despatched a messenger to B—for a leech, and the lad may bring
the whole dépto down upon you.—Adieu, once more, and remember, that if
you ever visit England again as a friend, you are to let me see you."
"I shall do it without fail; and I shall keep you to your promise,
if you once more put foot in America."
"Trust me for that; I shall stand in need of your excellent head to
guide me safely among those rude foresters! Adieu; cease not to bear me
in your thoughts."
"I shall never cease to remember you, my goodfriend," returned
Manual, again scratching the member, which was snapping in a manner
that caused him to fancy he heard it. Once more these worthies shook
each other by the hand, and again they renewed their promises of future
intercourse; after which they separated like two reluctant lovers—
parting in a manner that would have put to shame the friendship of
Orestes and Pylades!
"Nay, answer me: stand, and unfold yourself"
During the time occupied by the incidents that occurred after the
Pilot had made his descent on the land, the Alacrity, now under the
orders of Mr. Boltrope, the master of the frigate, lay off and on, in
readiness to receive the successful mariners. The direction of the wind
had been gradually changing from the north-east to the south, during
the close of the day; and long before the middle watches of the night,
the wary old seaman, who, it may be remembered, had expressed, in the
council of war, such a determined reluctance to trust his person within
the realm of Britain, ordered the man who steered the cutter to stand
in boldly for the land. Whenever the lead told them that it was prudent
to tack, the course of the vessel was changed; and in this manner the
seamen continued to employ the hours in patient attendance on the
adventurers. The sailing-master, who had spent the early years of his
life as the commander of divers vessels employed in trading, was apt,
like many men of his vocation and origin, to mistake the absence of
refinement for the surest evidence ofseamanship; and, consequently, he
held the little courtesies and punctilios of a man-of-war in high
disdain. His peculiar duties of superintending the expenditure of the
ship's stores, in their several departments; of keeping the frigate's
log-book; and of making his daily examinations into the state of her
sails and rigging, brought him so little in collision with the gay,
laughing, reckless young lieutenants, who superintended the usual
conduct of the vessel, that he might be said to have formed a distinct
species of the animal, though certainly of the same genus with his more
polished messmates. Whenever circumstances, however, required that he
should depart from the dull routine of his duty, he made it a rule, as
far as possible, to associate himself with such of the crew as
possessed habits and opinions the least at variance with his own.
By a singular fatality, the chaplain of the frigate was, as
respects associates, in a condition, nearly assimilated to that of this
An earnest desire to ameliorate the situation of those who were
doomed to meet death on the great deep, had induced an inexperienced
and simple-hearted divine to accept this station, in the fond hope,
that he might be made the favoured instrument of salvation to many, who
were then existing in a state of the most abandoned self-forgetfulness.
Neither our limits, nor our present object, will permit the relation of
the many causes that led, not only to an entire frustration of all his
visionary expectations, but to an issue which rendered the struggle of
the good divine with himself both arduous and ominous, in order to
maintain his own claims to the merited distinctions of his sacred
office. The consciousness of his backsliding had so far lessened the
earthly, if not the spiritual pride of the chaplain, as to induce him
to relish the society of the rude master, whose years had brought him
at times, to take certain views of futurity, that were singularly
affected by the peculiar character of the individual. It might have
been that both found themselves out of their places—but it was owing
to some such secret sympathy, let its origin be what it would, that the
two came to be fond of each other's company. On the night in question,
Mr. Boltrope had invited the chaplain to accompany him in the Alacrity;
adding, in his broad, rough language, that as there was to be fighting
on shore, "his hand might come in play with some poor fellow or other."
This singular invitation had been accepted, as well from a desire to
relieve the monotony of a sea life, by any change, as perhaps with a
secret yearning in the breast of the troubled divine, to get as nigh to
terra firma as possible. Accordingly, after the Pilot had landed with
his boisterous party, the sailing-master and the chaplain, together
with a boatswain's-mate and some ten or twelve seamen, were left in
quiet possession of the cutter. The first few hours of this peaceable
intercourse, had been spent by the worthy messmates, in the little
cabin of the vessel, over a can of grog, the savoury relish of which
was much increased by a characteristic disquisition on polemical
subjects, which our readers have great reason to regret it is not our
present humour to record. When, however, the winds invited the nearer
approach to the hostile shores already mentioned, the prudent
sailing-master adjourned the discussion to another and more suitable
time, removing himself and the can, by the same operation, to the
"There," cried the honest tar, placing the wooden vessel, with
great self-contentment, by his side on the deck, "this is ship's
comfort! There is a good deal of what I call a lubber's fuss,
parson,kept up on board a ship that shall be nameless, but which bears,
about three leagues distant, broad off in the oceam, and which is
lying-to under a close-reefed maintopsail, a foretopmast-staysail and
foresail— I call my hand a true one in mixing a can—take another pull
at the halyards! 'twill make your eye twinkle like a light-house, this
dark morning! You wont? well we must give no offence to the
Englishman's rum."—After a potent draught had succeeded this
considerate declaration, he added —"You are a little like our first
lieutenant, parson, who drinks, as I call it, nothing but the
elements—which is, water stiffened with air!"
"Mr. Griffith may indeed be said to set a wholesome example to the
crew," returned the chaplain, perhaps with a slight consciousness that
it had not altogether possessed its due weight with himself.
"Wholesome!" cried Boltrope; "let me tell you, my worthy
leaf-turner, that if you call such a light diet wholesome, you know but
little of salt water and sea-fogs! However, Mr. Griffith is a seaman;
and if he gave his mind less to trifles and gimcracks, he would be, by
the time he got to about our years, a very rational sort of a
companion.—But you see, parson, just now, he thinks too much of small
follies; such as man-of-war disciplyne.—Now there is rationality in
giving a fresh nip to a rope, or in looking well at your mats, or even
in crowning a cable; but damme, priest, if I see the use—luff, luff,
ye lubber; don't ye see, sir, you are steering for Garmany!—if I see
the use, as I was saying, of making a rumpus about the time when a man
changes his shirt; whether it be this week, or next week, or for that
matter, the week after, provided it be bad weather. I sometimes am
mawkish about attending muster, (and I believe I have as little to fear
on the score of behaviour asany man,) lest it should be found I carried
my tobacco in the wrong cheek!
"I have indeed thought it somewhat troublesome to myself, at times;
and it is in a striking degree vexatious to the spirit, especially when
the body has been suffering under sea-sickness."
"Why, yes, you were a little apt to bend your duds wrong for the
first month, or so," said the master; "I remember you got the marine's
scraper on your head, once, in your hurry to bury a dead man! Then you
never looked as if you belonged to the ship, so long as those cursed
black knee-breeches lasted! For my part, I never saw you come up the
quarter-deck ladder, but I expected to see your shins give way across
the combing of the hatch—a man does look like the devil, priest,
scudding about a ship's decks in that fashion, under bare poles! But
now the tailor has found out the articles ar'n't sea-worthy, and we
have got your lower stanchions cased in a pair of purser's slops, I am
puzzled often to tell your heels from those of a main-top-man!"
"I have good reason to be thankful for the change," said the
humbled priest, "if the resemblance you mention existed, while I was
clad in the usual garb of one of my calling."
"What signifies a calling?" returned Boltrope, catching his breath
after a most persevering draught; "a man's shins are his shins, let his
upper works belong to what sarvice they may. I took an early prejudyce
against knee-breeches, perhaps from a trick I've always had of figuring
the Devil as wearing them. You know, parson, we seldom hear much said
of a man, without forming some sort of an idea concerning his rigging
and fashion-pieces—and so as I had no particular reason to believe
that Satan went naked—keep fullye lubber; now you are running into the
wind's eye, and be d—d to ye!—but as I was saying, I always took a
conceit that the devil wore knee-breeches and a cock'd hat. There's
some of our young lieutenants, who come to muster on Sundays in cock'd
hats, just like soldier-officers; but, d'ye see, I would sooner show my
nose under a night cap, than under a scraper!"
"I hear the sound of oars!" exclaimed the chaplain, who finding
this image more distinct than even his own vivid conceptions of the
great Father of evil, was quite willing to conceal his inferiority by
changing the discourse—"Is not one of our boats returning?"
"Ay, ay, 'tis likely; if it had been me, I should have been
land-sick before this—wear round, boys, and stand by to heave-to on
the other tack."
The cutter, obedient to her helm, fell off before the wind, and
rolling an instant in the trough of the sea, came up again easily to
her oblique position, with her head towards the cliffs, and gradually
losing her way, as her sails were brought to counteract each other,
finally became stationary. During the performance of this evolution, a
boat had hove up out of the gloom, in the direction of the land, and by
the time the Alacrity was in a state of rest, it had approached so nigh
as to admit of hailing.
"Boat ahoy!" murmured Boltrope, through a trumpet, which, aided by
his lungs, produced sounds not unlike the roaring of a bull.
"Ay, ay," was thrown back from a clear voice, that swept across the
water with a fulness that needed no factitious aid to render it
"Ay, there comes one of the lieutenants, with his ay, ay," said
Boltrope—"pipe the side, there, you boatswain's-mate! But here's
another fellow more on our quarter! boat a-hoy!"
"Alacrity"—returned another voice, in a direction different from
"Alacrity! There goes my commission of Captain of this craft, in a
whiff," returned the sailing-master.—"That is as much as to say, here
comes one, who will command when he gets on board. Well, well, it is
Mr. Griffith, and I can't say, notwithstanding his love of
knee-buckles, and small wares, but I'm glad he is out of the hands of
the English! Ay, here they all come upon us at once! here is another
fellow, that pulls like the jolly-boat, coming up on our lee-beam,
within hail— let us see if he is asleep—boat a-hoy!
"Flag," answered a third voice from a small, light-rowing boat
which had approached very near the cutter, in a direct line from the
cliffs, without being observed."
"Flag!" echoed Boltrope, dropping his trumpet in amazement—"that's
a big word to come out of a jolly-boat! Jack Manly himself could not
have spoke it with a fuller mouth—but I'll know who it is that carries
such a weather helm, with a Yankee man-of-war's prize! Boat a-hoy! I
This last call was uttered in those short menacing tones, that are
intended to be understood as intimating that the party hailing is in
earnest; and it caused the men who were rowing, and who were now quite
close to the cutter, to suspend their strokes, simultaneously, as if
they dreaded that the cry would be instantly succeeded by some more
efficient means of ascertaining their character. The figure that was
seated by itself in the stern of the boat, started at this second
summons, and then, as if with sudden recollection, a quiet voice
"'No—no,' and 'flag,' are very different answers," grumbled
Boltrope; "what know-nothing have we here!"
He was yet muttering his dissatisfaction at the ignorance of the
individual that was approaching, whoever it might be, when the
jolly-boat came slowly to their side, and the Pilot stepped from her
stern-sheets on the decks of the prize.
"Is it you, Mr. Pilot?" exclaimed the sailing-master, raising a
battle lantern within a foot of the other's face, and looking with a
sort of stupid wonder at the proud and angry eye he encountered— "is
it you! well, I should have rated you for a man of more experience than
to come booming down upon a man-of-war in the dark, with such a big
word in your mouth, when every boy in the two vessels knows that we
carry no swallow-tailed bunting abroad! Flag! why you might have got a
shot, had there been soldiers."
The Pilot threw him a still fiercer glance, and turning away with a
look of disgust, he walked along the quarter-deck towards the stern of
the vessel, with an air of haughty silence, as if disdaining to answer.
Boltrope kept his eyes fastened on him for a moment longer, with some
appearance of scorn, but the arrival of the boat first hailed, which
proved to be the barge, immediately drew his attention to other
matters. Barnstable had been rowing about in the ocean for a long time,
unable to find the cutter, and as he had been compelled to suit his own
demeanour to those with whom he was associated, he reached the Alacrity
in no very good-humoured mood. Col. Howard and his niece had
maintained, during the whole period, the most rigid silence,the former
from pride, and the latter touched with her uncle's evident
displeasure; and Katherine, though secretly elated with the success of
all her projects, was content to emulate their demeanour for a short
time, in order to save appearances. Barnstable had several times
addressed himself to the latter, without receiving any other answer
than such as was absolutely necessary to prevent the lover from taking
direct offence, at the same time that she intimated by her manner her
willingness to remain silent. Accordingly, the lieutenant, after aiding
the ladies to enter the cutter, and offering to perform the same
service to Col. Howard, which was coldly declined, turned, with that
sort of irritation that is by no means less rare in vessels of war than
with poor human nature generally, and gave vent to his spleen where he
"How's this! Mr. Boltrope!" he cried, "here are boats coming
alongside with ladies in them, and you keep your gaft swayed up till
the leach of the sail is stretched like a fiddle-string—settle away
your peak-halyards, sir, settle away!"
"Ay, ay, sir," grumbled the master; "settle away that peak there;
though the craft wouldn't forge ahead a knot in a month, with all her
gibs hauled over!" He walked sulkily forward among the men, followed by
the meek divine; and added, "I should as soon have expected to see Mr.
Barnstable come off with a live ox in his boat as a petticoat! The Lord
only knows what the ship is coming to next, parson! what between cocked
hats and epaulettes, and other knee-buckle matters, she was a sort of
no-mans-land before, and now, what with the women, and their ban-boxes,
they'll make another Noah's Ark of her. I wonder they didn't all come
aboard in a coach and six, or a one horse shay!"
It was a surprising relief to Barnstable to be able to give
utterance to his humour, for a few moments, by ordering the men to make
sundry alterations in every department of the vessel, in a quick,
hurried voice, that abundantly denoted, not only the importance of his
improvements, but the temper in which they were dictated. In his turn,
however, he was soon compelled to give way by the arrival of Griffith,
in the heavily rowing launch of the frigate, which was crowded with a
larger body of the seamen who had been employed in the expedition. In
this manner, boat after boat speedily arrived, and the whole party were
once more happily embarked in safety, under their national flag.
The small cabin of the Alacrity was relinquished to Col. Howard and
his wards, with their attendants. The boats were dropped astern, each
protected by its own keeper; and Griffith gave forth the mandate, to
fill the sails and steer broad off into the ocean. For more than an
hour the cutter held her course in this direction, gliding gracefully
through the glittering waters, rising and settling heavily on the long,
smooth billows, as if conscious of the unusual burden that she was
doomed to carry; but at the end of that period, her head was once more
brought near the wind, and she was again held at rest; awaiting the
appearance of the dawn, in order to discover the position of the
prouder vessel, on which she was performing the humble duty of a
tender. More than a hundred and fifty living men were crowded within
her narrow limits; and her decks presented, inthe gloom, as she moved
along, the picture of a mass of human heads.
As the freedom of a successful expedition was unavoidably
permitted, loud jokes, and louder merriment, broke on the silent
waters, from the reckless seamen, while the exhilarating can passed
from hand to hand, strange oaths, and dreadful denunciations breaking
forth, at times, from some of the excited crew against their enemy. At
length the bustle of re-embarking gradually subsied, and many of the
crew descended to the hold of the cutter, in quest of room to stretch
their limbs, when a clear, manly voice, was heard rising above the deep
in those strains that a seaman most loves to hear. Air succeeded air,
from different voices, until even the spirit of harmony grew dull with
fatigue, and verses began to be heard where songs were expected, and
fleeting lines succeeded stanzas. The decks were soon covered with
prostrate men, seeking their natural rest, under the open heavens, and
perhaps dreaming, as they yielded heavily to the rolling of the vessel,
of the scenes of other times in their own hemisphere. The dark glances
of Katherine were concealed beneath her falling lids; and even Cecilia,
with her head bowed on the shoulder of her cousin, slept sweetly in
innocence and peace. Boltrope groped his way into the hold among the
seamen, where, kicking one of the most fortunate of the men from his
birth, he established himself in his place, with all that cool
indifference to the other's comfort, that had grown with his
experience, from the time when he was treated thus cavalierly in his
own person, to the present moment. In this manner, head was dropped
after head, on the planks, the guns, or on whatever first offered for a
pillow, until Griffith and Barnstable,alone, were left pacing the
different sides of the quarter-deck, in haughty silence.
Never did a morning watch appear so long to the two young sailors,
who were thus deprived, by resentment and pride, of that frank and
friendly communion, that had for so many years sweetened the tedious
hours of their long, and at times, dreary service. To increase the
embarrassment of their situation, Cecilia and Katherine, suffering from
the confinement of the small and crowded cabin, sought the purer air of
the deck, about the time when the deepest sleep had settled on the
senses of the wearied mariners. They stood, leaning against the
taffrail, discoursing with each other, in low and broken sentences; but
a sort of instinctive knowledge of the embarrassment which existed
between their lovers, caused a guarded control over every look or
gesture which might be construed into an encouragement for one of the
young men to advance at the expense of the other. Twenty times,
however, did the impatient Barnstable feel tempted to throw off the
awkward restraint, and approach his mistress; but in each instance was
he checked by the secret consciousness of error, as well as by that
habitual respect for superior rank that forms a part of the nature of a
sea-officer. On the other hand, Griffith manifested no intention to
profit by this silent concession in his favour, but continued to pace
the short quarter-deck with strides more hurried than ever; and was
seen to throw many an impatient glance towards that quarter of the
heavens, where the first signs of the lingering day might be expected
to appear. At length Katherine, with a ready ingenuity, and perhaps
with some secret coquetry, removed the embarrassment, by speaking
first, taking care to address the lover of her cousin—
"How long are we condemned to these limited lodgings, Mr.
Griffith?" she asked; "truly, there is a freedom in your nautical
customs, which, to say the least, is novel to us females, who have been
accustomed to the division of space!"
"The instant that there is light to discover the frigate, Miss
Plowden," he answered, "you shall be transferred from a vessel of an
hundred, to one of twelve hundred tons. If your situation there be less
comfortable, than when within the walls of St. Ruth, you will not
forget that they who live on the ocean, claim it as a merit to despise
the luxuries of the land."
"At least, sir," returned Katherine, with a sweet grace, which she
well knew how to assume on occasion, "what we shall enjoy will be
sweetened by liberty, and embellished by a sailor's hospitality. To me,
Cicely, the air of this open sea is as fresh and invigorating, as if it
were wafted from our own distant America!"
"If you have not the arm of a patriot, you at least possess a most
loyal imagination, Miss Plowden," said Griffith, laughing; "this soft
breeze blows in the direction of the fens of Holland, instead of the
broad plains of America.— Thank God, there come the signs of day, at
last! unless the currents have swept the ship far to the north, we
shall surely see her with the light."
This cheering intelligence drew the eyes of the fair cousins
towards the east, where their delighted looks were long fastened, while
they watched the glories of the sun rising over the water. As the
morning had advanced, a deeper gloom was spread across the ocean, and
the stars were gleaming in the heavens, like balls of twinkling fire.
But now, a streak of pale light showed itself along the horizon,
growing brighter, and widening at eachmoment, until long, fleecy clouds
became visible, where nothing had been seen before but the dim base of
the arch that overhung the dark waters. This expanding light, which, in
appearance, might be compared to a silvery opening in the heavens, was
soon tinged with a pale flush, which quickened with sudden transitions
into glows yet deeper, until a belt of broad flame bounded the water,
diffusing itself more faintly towards the zenith, where it melted into
the pearl-coloured sky, or played on the fantastic volumes of a few
light clouds with inconstant glimmering. While these beautiful
transitions were still before the eyes of the youthful admirers of
their beauties, a voice was heard above them, crying as if from the
"Sail—ho! The frigate lies broad off to seaward, sir!"
"Ay, ay; you have been watching with one eye asleep, fellow,"
returned Griffith, "or we should have heard you before! Look a little
north of the place where the glare of the sun is coming, Miss Plowden,
and you will be able to see our gallant vessel."
An involuntary cry of pleasure burst from the lips of Katherine, as
she followed his directions, and first beheld the frigate through the
medium of the fluctuating colours of the morning. The undulating
outline of the lazy ocean, which rose and fell heavily against the
bright boundary of the heavens, was without any relief to distract the
eye, as it fed eagerly on the beauties of the solitary ship. She was
riding sluggishly on the long seas, with only two of her lower and
smaller sails spread, to hold her in command; but her tall masts and
heavy yards were painted against the fiery sky, in strong lines of deep
black, while even the smallest cord in the mazes of her rigging, might
be distinctly traced, stretching from spar to spar, with the beautiful
accuracy of a picture. At moments, when her huge hull rose on a billow,
and was lifted against the back ground of sky, its shape and dimensions
were brought into view, but these transient glimpses were soon lost, as
it settled into the trough, leaving the waving spars bowing gracefully
towards the waters, as if about to follow the vessel into the bosom of
the deep. As a clearer light gradually stole on the senses, the
delusion of colours and distance vanished together, and when a flood of
day preceded the immediate appearance of the sun, the ship became
plainly visible, within a mile of the cutter, her black hull checkered
with ports, and her high tapering masts exhibiting their proper
proportions and hues.
At the first cry of "a sail," the crew of the Alacrity had been
aroused from their slumbers, by the shrill whistle of the boatswain,
and long before the admiring looks of the two cousins had ceased to
dwell on the fascinating sight of morning chasing night from the
hemisphere, the cutter was again in motion to join her consort. It
seemed but a moment before their little vessel was in what the timid
females thought, a dangerous proximity to the frigate, under whose lee
she slowly passed, in order to admit of the following dialogue between
Griffith and his aged commander:
"I rejoice to see you, Mr. Griffith!" cried the captain, who stood
in the channel of his ship, waving his hat, in the way of cordial
greeting. "You are welcome back, Capt. Manual; welcome, welcome, all of
you, my boys! as welcome as a breeze in the calm latitudes." As his
eye, however, passed along the deck of the Alacrity, it encountered the
shrinking figures of Cecilia andKatherine, and a dark shade of
displeasure crossed his decent features, while he added—"How's this,
gentlemen! The frigate of Congress is neither a ball-room, nor a
church, that it is to be thronged with women!"
"Ay, ay," muttered Boltrope to his friend the chaplain, "now the
old man has hauled out his mizzen, you'll see him carry a weather helm!
He wakes up about as often as the trades shift their points, and that's
once in six months. But when there has been a neap-tide in his temper
for any time, you're sure to find it followed by a flood with a
vengeance. Let us hear what the first lieutenant can say in favour of
his petticoat quality!"
The blushing sky had not exhibited a more fiery glow, than gleamed
in the fine face of Griffith for a moment; but struggling with his
disgust, he answered with bitter emphasis—
"'Twas the pleasure of Mr. Gray, sir, to bring off the prisoners."
"Of Mr. Gray!" repeated the captain, instantly losing every trace
of displeasure, in an air of acquiescence. "Come-to, sir, on the same
tack with the ship, and I will hasten to order the accommodation ladder
rigged, to receive our guests!"
Boltrope listened to this sudden alteration in the language of his
commander, with sufficient wonder; nor was it until he had shaken his
head repeatedly, with the manner of one who saw deeper than his
neighbours into a mystery, that he found leisure to observe—
"Now, parson, I suppose if you held an almanack in your fist, you'd
think you could tell which way we shall have the wind to-morrow! but
damn me, priest, if better calculators than you havn't failed! Because
a lubberly—no, he's a thorough seaman, I'll say that for the
fellow!—because apilot chooses to say, 'bring me off these here
women,' the ship is to be so cluttered with she-cattle, that a man will
be obligated to spend half his time in making his manners! Now mind
what I tell you, priest, this very frolic will cost Congress the price
of a year's wages for an able-bodied seaman, in bunting and canvass for
screens; besides the wear and tear of running-gear in shortening sail,
in order that the women need not be 'stericky in squalls!"
The presence of Mr. Boltrope being required, to take charge of the
cutter, the divine was denied an opportunity of dissenting from the
opinions of his rough companion; for the loveliness of their novel
shipmates, had not failed to plead loudly in their favour, with every
man in the cutter whose habits and ideas had not become rigidly set in
By the time the Alacrity was hove-to, with her head towards the
frigate, the long line of boats that she had been towing during the
latter part of the night, were brought to her side, and filled with
men. A wild scene of unbridled merriment and gayety succeeded, while
the seamen were exchanging the confinement of the prize for their
accustomed lodgings in the ship, during which the reins of discipline
were slightly relaxed. Loud laughter was echoed from boat to boat, as
they glided by each other; and rude jests, interlarded with quaint
humours and strange oaths, were freely bandied from mouth to mouth. The
noise, however, soon ceased, and the passage of Col. Howard and his
wards was then effected, with less precipitancy, and due decorum. Capt.
Munson, who had been holding a secret dialogue with Griffith and the
Pilot, received his unexpectedguests with plain hospitality, but with
an evident desire to be civil. He politely yielded to their service his
two convenient state-rooms, and invited them to partake, in common with
himself, of the comforts of the great cabin.
"Furious press the hostile squadron,
Furious he repels their rage,
Loss of blood at length enfeebles;
Who can war with thousands wage?"
— Spanish War Song
We cannot detain the narrative, to detail the scenes which busy
wonder, aided by the relation of divers marvellous feats, produced
among the curious seamen who remained in the ship, and their more
fortunate fellows, who had returned in glory from an expedition to the
land. For nearly an hour the turbulence of a general movement was
heard, issuing from the deep recesses of the frigate, and the
boisterous sounds of hoarse merriment were listened to by the officers
in indulgent silence; but all these symptoms of unbridled humour ceased
by the time the morning repast was ended, when the regular sea-watch
was set, and the greater portion of those whose duty did not require
their presence on the vessel's deck, availed themselves of the
opportunity to repair the loss of sleep sustained in the preceding
night. Still no preparations were made to put the ship in motion,
though long and earnest consultations, which were supposed to relate to
their future destiny, were observed by the younger officers, to be held
between their captain, the firstlieutenant, and the mysterious Pilot.
The latter threw many an anxious glance along the eastern horizon,
searching it minutely with his glass, and then would turn his impatient
looks at the low, dense bank of fog, which, stretching across the ocean
like a barrier of cloud, entirely intercepted the view towards the
south. To the north and along the land, the air was clear, and the sea
without spot of any kind; but in the east a small white sail had been
discovered since the opening of day, which was gradually rising above
the water, and assuming the appearance of a vessel of some size. Every
officer on the quarter-deck in his turn, had examined this distant
sail, and had ventured an opinion on its destination and character; and
even Katherine, who with her cousin was enjoying, in the open air, the
novel beauties of the ocean, had been tempted to place her sparkling
eye to a glass, to gaze at the stranger.
"It is a collier," Griffith said, "who has hauled from the land in
the late gale, and who is luffing up to his course again. If the wind
holds here in the south, and he does not get into that fog bank, we can
stand off for him and get a supply of fuel before eight bells are
"I think his head is to the northward, and that he is steering off
the wind," returned the Pilot, in a musing manner. "If that Dillon
succeeded in getting his express far enough along the coast, the alarm
has been spread, and we must be wary. The convoy of the Baltic trade is
in the North Sea, and news of our presence could easily have been taken
off to it by some of the cutters that line the coast—I could wish to
get the ship as far south as the Helder!"
"Then we lose this weather tide!" exclaimed the impatient Griffith;
"surely we have the cutter as a look-out! besides, by beating into the
fog, weshall lose the enemy, if enemy it be, and it is thought meet for
an American frigate to skulk from her foes!"
The scornful expression that kindled the eye of the Pilot, like a
gleam of sunshine lighting for an instant some dark dell and laying
bare its secrets, was soon lost in the usually quiet look of his
glance, though he hesitated like one who was struggling with his
passions, before he answered—
"If prudence and the service of the States require it, even this
proud frigate must retreat and hide from the meanest of her enemies. My
advice, Capt. Munson, is, that you make sail, and beat the ship to
windward, as Mr. Griffith has suggested, and that you order the cutter
to precede us, keeping more in with the land."
The aged seaman, who evidently suspended his orders, only to
receive an intimation of the other's pleasure, immediately commanded
his youthful assistant to issue the necessary mandates to put these
measures in force. Accordingly, the Alacrity, which vessel had been
left under the command of the junior lientenant of the frigate, was
quickly under way; and making short stretches to windward, she soon
entered the bank of fog, and was lost to the eye. In the mean time the
canvass of the ship was loosened, and spread leisurely, in order not to
disturb the portion of the crew who were sleeping, and following her
little consort, she moved heavily through the water, bearing up against
the dull breeze.
The quiet of regular duty had succeeded to the bustle of making
sail, and as the rays of the sun fell less obliquely on the distant
land, Katherine and Cecilia were amusing Griffith by vain attempts to
point out the rounded eminences which they fancied lay in the vicinity
of the deserted mansionof St. Ruth. Barnstable, who had resumed his
former station in the frigate, as her second lieutenant, was pacing the
opposite side of the quarterdeck, holding under his arm the speaking
trumpet, which denoted that he held the temporary control of the
motions of the ship, and inwardly cursing the restraint that kept him
from the side of his mistress. At this moment of universal quiet, when
nothing above low dialogues interrupted the dashing of the waves as
they were thrown lazily aside by the bows of the vessel, the report of
a light cannon burst out of the barrier of fog, and rolled by them on
the breeze, apparently vibrating with the rising and sinking of the
"There goes the cutter!" exclaimed Griffith, the instant the sound
"Surely," said the captain, "Somers is not so indiscreet as to
scale his guns, after the caution he has received!"
"No idle scaling of guns is intended there," said the Pilot,
straining his eyes to pierce the fog, but soon turning away in
disappointment at his inability to succeed—"that gun is shotted, and
has been fired in the hurry of a sudden signal! —can your look-outs
see nothing, Mr. Barnstable?"
The lieutenant of the watch hailed the man aloft, and demanded if
any thing were visible in the direction of the wind, and received for
answer, that the fog intercepted the view in that quarter of the
heavens, but that the sail in the east was a ship, running large or
before the wind. The Pilot shook his head doubtingly at this
information, but still he manifested a strong reluctance to relinquish
the attempt of getting more to the southward. Again he communed with
the commander of the frigate, apart from all other ears, and while they
yet deliberated, a second report was heard, leaving nodoubt but the
Alacrity was firing signal guns for their particular attention.
"Perhaps," said Griffith, "he wishes to point out his position, or
to ascertain ours; believing that we are lost like himself in the
"We have our compasses!" returned the doubting captain; "Somers has
a meaning in what he says!"
"See!" cried Katherine, with girlish delight, "see, my cousin! see
Barnstable! how beautifully that vapour is wreathing itself in clouds
above the smoky line of fog! It stretches already into the very heavens
like a lofty pyramid!"
Barnstable sprang lightly on a gun, as he repeated her words—
"Pyramids of fog! and wreathing clouds! By heaven!" he shouted,
"'tis a tall ship! Royals, skysails, and studding-sails all abroad! She
is within a mile of us, and comes down like a race horse, with a
spanking breeze, dead before it! Now know we why Somers is speaking in
"Ay," cried Griffith, "and there goes the Alacrity, just breaking
out of the fog, hovering in for the land!"
"There is a mighty hull under all that cloud of canvass, Capt.
Munson," said the observant but calm Pilot—"it is time, gentlemen, to
edge away to leeward."
"What, before we know from whom we run!" cried Griffith; "my life
on it, there is no single ship king George owns, but would tire of the
sport before she had played a full game of bowls with"—
The haughty air of the young man was daunted by the severe look he
encountered in the eye of the Pilot, and he suddenly ceased, though
inwardly chafing with impatient pride.
"The same eye that detected the canvass abovethe fog, might have
seen the flag of a vice-admiral fluttering still nearer the heavens,"
returned the collected stranger; "and England, faulty as she may be, is
yet too generous to place a flag-officer in time of war, in command of
a frigate, or a captain in command of a fleet. She knows the value of
those who shed their blood in her behalf, and it is thus that she is so
well served! Believe me, Capt. Munson, there is nothing short of a ship
of the line under that symbol of rank, and that broad show of canvass!"
"We shall see, sir, we shall see," returned the old officer, whose
manner grew decided, as the danger appeared to thicken; "beat to
quarters, Mr. Griffith, for we have none but enemies to expect on this
The order was instantly issued, when Griffith remarked, with a more
"If Mr. Gray be right, we shall have reason to thank God that we
are so light of heel!"
The cry of "a strange vessel close aboard the frigate," having
already flown down the hatches, the ship was in an uproar at the first
tap of the drum. The seamen threw themselves from their hammocks and
lashing them rapidly into long, hard bundles, they rushed to the decks,
where they were dexterously stowed in the netting, to aid the defences
of the upper part of the vessel. While this tumultuous scene was
exhibiting, Griffith gave a secret order to Merry, who disappeared,
leading his trembling cousins to a place of safety in the inmost depths
of the ship.
The guns were cleared of their lumber, and loosened. The bulk-heads
were knocked down, and the cabin relieved of its furniture, and the gun
deck exhibited one unbroken line of formidable cannon, arranged in all
the order of a naval battery ready to engage. Arm chests were thrown
open,and the decks strewed with pikes, cutlasses, pistols, and all the
various weapons for boarding. In short, the yards were slung, and every
other arrangement was made with a readiness and dexterity that were
actually wonderful, though all was performed amid an appearance of
disorder and confusion that rendered the ship another Babel during the
continuance of the preparations. In a very few minutes every thing was
completed, and even the voices of the men ceased to be heard answering
to their names, as they were mustered at their stations, by their
respective officers. Gradually the ship became as quiet as the grave,
and when even Griffith or his commander found it necessary to speak,
their voices were calmer, and their tones more mild than usual. The
course of the vessel was changed to an oblique line from that in which
their enemy was approaching, though the appearance of flight was to be
studiously avoided to the last moment. When nothing further remained to
be done, every eye became fixed on the enormous pile of swelling
canvass that was rising, in cloud over cloud, far above the fog, and
which was manifestly moving, like driving vapour, swiftly to the north.
Presently the dull, smoky boundary of the mist which rested on the
water, was pushed aside in vast volumes, and the longtaper spars that
projected from the bowsprit of the strange ship, issued from the
obscurity, and were quickly followed by the whole of the enormous
fabric, to which they were merely light appendages. For a moment,
streaks of reluctant vapour clung to the huge, floating pile, but they
were soon shaken off by the rapid vessel, and the whole of her black
hull became distinct to the eye.
"One, two, three rows of teeth!" said Boltrope, deliberately
counting the tiers of guns thatbristled along the sides of the enemy;
"a three decker! Jack Manly would show his stern to such a fellow! and
even the bloody Scotchman would run!"
"Hard up with your helm, quarter-master!" cried Capt. Munson;
"there is indeed no time to hesitate, with such an enemy within a
quarter of a mile! Turn the hands up Mr. Griffith, and pack on the ship
from her trucks to her lower studdingsail booms. Be stirring, sir, be
stirring! Hard up with your helm! Hard up, and be damn'd to you!"
The unusual earnestness of their aged commander acted on the
startled crew like a voice from the deep, and they waited not for the
usual signals of the boatswain and drummer to be given, before they
broke away from their guns, and rushed tumultuously to aid in spreading
the desired canvass. There was one minute of ominous confusion, that,
to an inexperienced eye would have foreboded the destruction of all
order in the vessel, during which every hand, and each tongue, seemed
in motion; but it ended with opening the immense folds of light duck
which were displayed along the whole line of the masts, far beyound the
ordinary sails, overshadowing the waters for a great distance, on
either side of the vessel. During the moment of inaction that succeeded
this sudden exertion, the breeze which had brought up the three decker,
fell fresher on the sails of the frigate, and she started away from her
dangerous enemy with a very perceptible advantage in point of sailing.
"The fog rises! cried Griffith; "give us but the wind for an hour,
and we shall run her out of gun-shot!"
"These ninety's are very fast off the wind;" returned the captain,
in a low tone, that was intendedonly for the ear of his first
lieutenant and the Pilot, "and we shall have a struggle for it."
The quick eye of the stranger was glancing over the movements of
his enemy, while he answered—
"He finds we have the heels of him already! he is making ready, and
we shall be fortunate to escape a broadside! Let her yaw a little, Mr.
Griffith; touch her lightly with the helm; if we are raked, sir, we are
The captain sprang on the taffrail of his ship, with the activity
of a younger man, and in an instant he perceived the truth of the
Both vessels now ran for a few minutes, keenly watching each
other's motions like two skilful combatants; the English ship making
slight deviations from the line of her course, and then, as her
movements were anticipated by the other, turning as cautiously in the
opposite direction, until a sudden and wide sweep of her huge bows,
told the Americans plainly on which tack to expect her. Capt. Munson
made a silent, but impressive gesture with his arm, as if the crisis
were too important for speech, which indicated to the watchful
Griffith, the way he wished the frigate sheered, to avoid the weight of
the impending danger. Both vessels whirled swiftly up to the wind, with
their heads towards the land, and as the huge black side of the
three-decker, checkered with its triple batteries, frowned full upon
her foe, it belched forth a flood of fire and smoke, accompanied by a
bellowing roar that mocked the surly moanings of the sleeping ocean.
The nerves of the bravest man in the frigate contracted their fibres,as
the hurricane of iron hurtled by them, and each eye appeared to gaze in
stupid wonder, as if tracing the flight of the swift engines of
destruction. But the voice of Capt. Munson was heard in the din,
shouting, while he waved his hat earnestly in the required direction—
"Meet her! meet her with the helm, boy! meet her, Mr. Griffith,
Griffith had so far anticipated this movement, as to have, already,
ordered the head of the frigate turned in its former course, when
struck by the unearthly cry of the last tones uttered by his commander,
he bent his head, and beheld the venerable seaman driven through the
air, his hat still waving, his gray hair floating in the wind, and his
eye set in the wild look of death.
"Great God!" exclaimed the young man, rushing to the side of the
ship, where he was just in time to see the lifeless body disappear in
the waters that were dyed in its blood; "he has been struck by a shot!
Lower-away the boat, loweraway the jolly-boat, the barge, the tiger,
"'Tis useless," interrupted the calm, deep voice of the Pilot; "he
has met a warrior's end, and he sleeps in a sailor's grave! The ship is
getting before the wind again, and the enemy is keeping his vessel
The youthful lieutenant was recalled by these words to his duty,
and reluctantly turned his eyes away from the bloody spot on the dark
waters, which the busy frigate had already passed, to resume the
command of the vessel with a forced composure.
"He has cut some of our running gear," said the master, whose eye
had never ceased to dwell on the spars and rigging of the ship, "and
there's a splinter out of the main-top-mast, that is big enough for a
fid! He's let day-light through someof our canvass too, but taking it
by-and-large, the squall has gone over and little harm done.—Didn't I
hear something said of Capt. Munson getting jamm'd by a shot?"
"He is killed!"—said Griffith, speaking in a voice that was yet
husky with horror—"he is dead, sir, and carried overboard; there is
more need that we forget not ourselves, in this crisis."
"Dead!" said Boltrope, suspending the operation of his active jaws
for a moment, in surprise; "and buried in a wet jacket! well, it is
lucky 'tis no worse, for, damme if I did not think every stick in the
ship would have been cut out of her!"
With this consolatory remark on his lips, the master walked slowly
forward, continuing his orders to repair the damages with a singleness
of durpose that rendered him, however uncouth as a friend, an
invaluable man in his station.
Griffith had not yet brought his mind to the calmness that was so
essential to discharge the duties which had thus suddenly and awfully
devolved on him, when his elbow was lightly touched by the Pilot, who
had drawn closer to his side—
"The enemy appear satisfied with the experiment," said the
stranger, "and as we work the quicker of the two, he loses too much
ground to repeat it, if he be a true seaman."
"And yet, as he finds we leave him so fast," returned Griffith, "he
must see that all his hopes rest, in cutting us up aloft. I dread that
he will come by the wind again, and lay us under his broadside; we
should need a quarter of an hour to run without his range, if he were
"He plays a surer game—see you not that the vessel we made in the
eastern board, shows the hull of a frigate? 'Tis past a doubt that they
are of one squadron, and that the expresses have sentthem in our wake.
The English admiral has spread a broad clue, Mr. Griffith, and as he
gathers in his ships, he sees that his game has been successful."
The faculties of Griffith had been too much occupied with the hurry
of the chase to look at the ocean; but startled at the information of
the Pilot, who spoke coolly, though like a man sensible of the
existence of approaching danger, he took the glass from the other, and
with his own eye examined the different vessels in sight. It is certain
that the experienced officer, whose flag was flying above the light
sails of the three-decker, saw the critical situation of his chase, and
reasoned much in the same manner as the Pilot, or the fearful expedient
apprehended by Griffith, would have been adopted. Prudence, however,
dictated that he should prevent his enemy from escaping by pressing so
closely on his rear, as to render it impossible for the American to
haul across his bows and run into the open sea between his own vessel
and the nearest frigate of his squadron. The unpractised reader will be
able to comprehend the case better by accompanying the understanding
eye of Griffith as it glanced from point to point, following the whole
horizon. To the west lay the land, along which the Alacrity was urging
her way industriously, with the double purpose of keeping her consort
abeam, and of avoiding a dangerous proximity to their powerful enemy.
To the east, bearing off the starboard bow of the American frigate, was
the vessel first seen, and which now began to exhibit the hostile
appearance of a vessel of war, steering in a line converging towards
themselves, and rapidly drawing nigher, while far in the north-east,
was a vessel, as yet faintly discerned, whose evolutions could not be
mistaken by one who understood the movements of nautical warfare.
"We are hemmed in, effectually," said Griffith, dropping the glass
from his eye; "and I know not but our wisest course would be to haul in
to the land, and cutting every thing light adrift, endeavour to pass
the broadside of the flag-ship?"
"Provided she left a rag of canvass to do it with!" returned the
Pilot. "Sir, 'tis an idle hope! She would strip your ship, in ten
minutes, to her plank shears. Had it not been for a lucky wave on which
so many of her shot struck and glanced upward, we should have had
nothing to boast of left from the fire she has already given; we must
stand on, and drop the three decker as ar as possible."
"But the frigates!" said Griffith, "what are we to do with the
"Fight them!" returned the Pilot, in a low, determined voice,
"fight them! Young man, I have borne the stars and stripes aloft in
greater straits than this, and even with honour! Think not that my
fortune will desert me now!"
"We shall have an hour of desperate battle!"
"On that we may calculate; but I have lived through whole days of
bloodshed! you seem not one to quail at the sight of an enemy."
"Let me proclaim your name to the men!" said Griffith; "'twill
quicken their blood, and at such a moment, be a host in itself."
"They want it not," returned the Pilot, checking the hasty zeal of
the other with his hand. "I would be unnoticed, unless I am known as
becomes me. I will share your danger, but would not rob you of a tittle
of your glory. Should we come to a grapple," he continued, while a
smile of conscious pride gleamed across his face, "I will giveforth the
word as a war-cry, and, believe me, these English will quail before
Griffith submitted to the stranger's will, and after they had
deliberated further on the nature of their evolutions, he gave his
attention again to the management of the vessel. The first object which
met his eye, on turning from the Pilot, was Col. Howard, pacing the
quarter-deck, with a determined brow, and a haughty mien, as if already
in the enjoyment of that triumph which now seemed certain.
"I fear, sir," said the young man, approaching him with respect,
"that you will soon find the deck unpleasant and dangerous: your wards
"Mention not the unworthy term!" interrupted the colonel. "What
greater pleasure can there be than to inhale the odour of loyalty that
is wafted from yonder floating tower of the king!— And danger! you
know but little of old George Howard, young man, if you think he would
for thousands miss seeing that symbol of rebellion levelled before the
flag of his Majesty."
"If that be your wish, Col. Howard," returned Griffith, biting his
lip as he looked around at the wondering seamen who were listeners,
"you will wait in vain—but I pledge you my word, that when that time
arrives, you shall be advised, and that your own hands shall do the
"Edward Griffith, why not this moment? This is your moment of
probation—submit to the clemencyof the crown, and yield your crew to
the royal mercy! In such a case I would remember the child of my
brother Harry's friend; and believe me, my name is known to the
ministry. And you, misguided and ignorant abettors of rebellion!
castaside your useless weapons, or prepare to meet the vengeance of
yonder powerful and victorious servant of your prince."
"Fall back! back with ye, fellows!" cried Griffith, fiercely, to
the men who were gathering around the colonel, with looks of sullen
vengeance. "If a man of you dare approach him, he shall be cast into
The sailors retreated at the order of their commander; but the
elated veteran had continued to pace the deck for many minutes before
stronger interests diverted the angry glances of the seamen to other
Notwithstanding the ship of the line was slowly sinking beneath the
distant waves, and in less than an hour from the time she had fired the
broadside, no more than one of her three tiers of guns was visible from
the deck of the frigate, she yet presented an irresistible obstacle
against retreat to the south. On the other hand the ship first seen,
drew so nigh as to render the glass no longer necessary in watching her
movements. She proved to be a frigate, though one so materially lighter
than the American, as to have rendered her conquest easy, had not her
two consorts continued to press on for the scene of battle with such
rapidity. During the chase the scene had shifted from the point
opposite to St. Ruth, to the verge of those shoals where our tale
commenced. As they approached the latter, the smallest of the English
ships drew so nigh as to render the combat unavoidable. Griffith and
his crew had not been idle in the intermediate time, but all the usual
preparations against the casualties of a sea-fight had been duly made,
when the drum once more called the men to their quarters, and the ship
was deliberately stripped of her unnecessary sails, like a prizefighter
aboutto enter the arena, casting aside the incumbrances of dress; at
the instant she gave this intimation of her intention to abandon
flight, and trust the issue to the combat, the nearest English frigate
also took in her light canvass in token of her acceptance of the
"He is but a little fellow," said Griffith to the Pilot, who
hovered at his elbow with a sort of fatherly interest in the other's
conduct of the battle, "though he carries a stout heart."
"We must crush him at a blow," returned the stranger; "not a shot
must be delivered until our yards are locking."
"I see him training his twelves upon us already; we may soon expect
"After standing the brunt of a Ninety-gun-ship," observed the
collected Pilot, "we shall not shrink from the broadside of a
"Stand to your guns, men!" cried Griffith, through his
trumpet—"not a shot is to be fired without the order."
This caution, so necessary to check the ardour of the seamen, was
hardly uttered, before their enemy became wrapped in sheets of fire and
volumes of smoke, as gun after gun hurled its iron missiles at their
vessel in quick succession. Ten minutes might have passed, the two
vessels sheering closer to each other every foot they advanced, during
which time the crew of the American were compelled, by their commander,
to suffer the fire of their adversary, without returning a shot. This
short period, which seemed an age to the seamen, was distinguished in
their vessel by deep silence. Even the wounded and dying, who fell in
every part of the ship, stifled their groans, under the influence of
the severe discipline, which gave a character to every man and each
movement ofthe vessel; and those officers who were required to speak,
were heard only in the lowest tones of resolute preparation. At length
the ship slowly entered the skirts of the smoke that enveloped their
enemy, and Griffith heard the man who stood at his side whisper the
"Let them have it!" cried Griffith, in a voice that was heard in
the remotest parts of the ship.
The shout that burst from the seamen, appeared to lift the decks of
the vessel, and the affrighted frigate trembled like an aspen, with the
recoil of her own massive artillery, that shot forth a single sheet of
flame, the sailors having disregarded, in their impatience, the usual
order of firing. The effect of the broadside on the enemy was still
more dreadful, for a death-like silence succeeded to the roar of the
guns, which was only broken by the shrieks and execrations that burst
from her, like the moanings of the dammed. During the few moments in
which the Americans were again loading their cannon, and the English
were recovering from their confusion, the vessel of the former moved
slowly past her antagonist, and was already doubling across her bows,
when the latter was suddenly, and, considering the inequality of their
forces, it may be added desperately, headed into her enemy. The two
frigates grappled. The sudden and furious charge made by the
Englishman, as he threw his masses of daring seamen along his bowsprit,
and out of his channels, had nearly taken Griffith by surprise; but
Manual, who had delivered his first fire with the broadside, now did
good service, by ordering his men to beat back the intruders, by a
steady and continued discharge. Even the wary Pilot lost sight of their
other foes, in the high daring of that moment, and smiles of stern
pleasure were exchanged between him and Griffith, asboth comprehended
at a glance their advantages.
"Lash his bowsprit to our mizzen-mast," shouted the lieutenant,
"and we will sweep his decks as he lies!"
Twenty men sprang eagerly forward to execute the order, among the
foremost of whom were Boltrope and the stranger.
"Ay, now he's our own!" cried the busy master, "and we will take an
owner's liberties with him, and break him up—for by the eternal—"
"Peace, rude man," said the Pilot, in a voice of solemn
remonstrance; "at the next instant you may face your God; mock not his
The master found time, before he threw himself from the spar, to
the deck of the frigate again, to cast a look of amazement at his
companion, who, with a steady mien, but with an eye that lighted with a
warrior's ardour, viewed the battle that raged around him, like one who
marked its progress, to control the result.
The sight of the Englishmen, rushing onward with shouts, and bitter
menaces, warmed the blood of Col. Howard, who pressed to the side of
the frigate, and encouraged his friends, by his gestures and voice, to
"Away with ye, old croaker!" cried the master, seizing him by the
collar; "away with ye to the hold, or I'll order you fired from a gun."
"Down with your arms, rebelliousdog!" shouted the colonel, carried
beyond himself by the ardour of the fray; "down to the dust, and
implore the mercy of your injured prince!"
Invigorated by a momentary glow, the veteran grappled with his
brawny antagonist, but the issue of the short struggle was yet
suspended, when the English, driven back by the fire of the marines,
andthe menacing front that Griffith, with his boarders presented,
retreated to the forecastle of their own ship, and attempted to return
the deadly blows they were receiving in their hull from the cannon that
Barnstable directed. A solitary gun was all they could bring to bear on
the Americans, but this, loaded with cannister, was fired so near as to
send its glaring flame into the very faces of their enemies. The
yielding colonel, who was already sinking beneath the arm of his foe,
felt the rough grasp loosen from his throat, and the two combatants
sunk powerless on their knees, facing each other.
"How now, brother!" exclaimed Boltrope, with a smile of grim
fierceness; "some of that grist has gone to your mill, ha!"
No answer could, however be given, before the yielding forms of
both fell to the deck, where they lay helpless, amid the din of the
battle and the wild confusion of the eager combatants.
Notwithstanding the furious struggle they witnessed, the elements
did not cease their functions; and urged by the breeze, and lifted
irresistibly on a wave, the American ship was forced through the water
still further across the bows of her enemy. The idle fastenings of hemp
and iron, were snapped asunder, like strings of tow, and Griffith saw
his own ship borne away from the Englishman at the instant that the
bowsprit of the latter was torn from its lashings, and tumbled into the
sea, followed by spar after spar, until nothing of all her proud
tackling was remaining, but the few parted and useless ropes that were
left dangling along the stumps of her lower masts. As his own stately
vessel moved from the confusion she had caused, and left the dense
cloud of smoke in which her helpless antagonist lay, the eye ofthe
young man glanced anxiously towards the horizon, where he now
remembered he had more foes to contend against.
"We have shaken off the thirty-two most happily!" he said to the
Pilot, who followed his motions with singular interest; "but here is
another fellow sheering in for us, who shows as many ports as
ourselves, and who appears inclined for a closer interview; besides the
hull of the Ninety is rising again, and I fear she will be down but too
"We must keep the use of our braces and sails," returned the Pilot.
"and on no account close with the other frigate—we must play a double
game, sir, and fight this new adversary with our heels as well as with
" 'Tis time then that we were busy, for he is shortening sail, and
as he nears so fast we may expect to hear from him every minute; what
do you propose, sir?
"Let him gather in his canvass," returned the Pilot, "and when he
thinks himself snug, we can throw out a hundred men at once upon our
yards and spread every thing alow and aloft; we may then draw ahead of
him by surprise; if we can once get him in our wake I have no fears of
dropping them all."
"A stern chace is a long chase," cried Griffith, and the thing may
do! Clear up the decks, here, and carry down the wounded; and as we
have our hands full, the poor fellows who have done with us, must go
overboard at once."
This melancholy duty was instantly attended to, while the young
seaman who commanded the frigate returned to his duty, with the
absorbed air of one who felt all its responsibility. His occupations,
however, did not prevent his hearing the sounds of Barnstable's voice,
calling eagerly to young Merry. Bending his head towards the sound,
Griffith beheld his friend, looking anxiously up the main hatch, with a
face grimed with smoke, his coat off, and his shirt bespattered with
human blood— "Tell me, boy," he said, "is Mr. Griffith untouched? They
say that a shot came in upon the quarter deck that tripped up the heels
of half a dozen."
Before Merry could answer, the eyes of Barnstable, which even while
he spoke were scanning the state of the vessel's rigging, encountered
the kind looks of Griffith, and from that moment perfect harmony was
restored between the friends.
"Ah! you are there Griff. and with a whole skin, I see," cried
Barnstable, smiling with pleasure;" "they have passed poor Boltrope
down into one of his own store-rooms! If that fellow's bowsprit had
held on ten minutes longer, what a mark I should have made on his face
" 'Tis perhaps best as it is," returned Griffith; "but what have
you done with those whom we are bound to protect?
Barnstable made a significant gesture towards the depths of the
vessel as he answered—
"On the cables; safe as wood, iron, and water can keep them—though
Katherine has had her head up three times to—"
A summons from the Pilot drew Griffith away, and the young officers
were compelled to forget their individual feelings, in the pressing
duties of their stations.
The ship which the American frigate had now to oppose, was a vessel
of near her own size and equipage, and when Griffith looked at her
again, he perceived that she had made her preparations to assert her
equality in manful fight.
Her sails had been gradually reduced to the usual quantity, and, by
certain movements on her decks, the lieutenant and his constant
attendant the Pilot, well understood that she only wanted tolessen her
distance a few hundred yards to begin the action.
"Now spread every thing," whispered the stranger.
Griffith applied the trumpet to his mouth, and shouted in a voice
that was carried even to his enemy—"Let fall—out with your
booms—sheet home, and hoist away every thing!"
The inspiriting cry was answered by a universal bustle; fifty men
flew out on the dizzy heights of the different spars, while broad
sheets of canvass rose as suddenly along the masts, as if some mighty
bird were spreading its wings. The Englishman instantly perceived his
mistake, and he answered the artifice by a roar of artillery. Griffith
watched the effects of the broadside with an absorbing interest, as the
shot whistled above his head, but when he perceived his masts untouched
and the few unimportant ropes only that were cut, he replied to the
uproar with a burst of pleasure. A few men were however seen clinging
with wild frenzy to the cordage, dropping from rope to rope like
wounded birds fluttering through a tree, until they fell heavily into
the ocean, the sullen ship sweeping by them, in cold indifference. At
the next instant the spars and masts of their enemy exhibited a display
of men similar to their own, when Griffith again placed the trumpet to
his mouth, and called aloud:
"Give it to them; drive them from their yards, boys; scatter them
with your grape—unreeve their rigging!"
The crew of the American wanted but little encouragement to enter
on this experiment with hearty good will, and the close of his cheering
words were uttered amid the deafening roar of his own cannon. The Pilot
had, however, mistaken the skill and readiness of their foe, for
notwithstanding the disadvantageouscircumstances under which the
Englishman increased his sail, the duty was steadily and dexterously
The two ships were now running rapidly on parallel lines, hurling
at each other their instruments of destruction, with furious industry,
and with severe and certain loss to both, though with no manifest
advantage in favour of either. Both Griffith and the Pilot witnessed
with deep concern this unexpected defeat of their hopes, for they could
not conceal from themselves, that each moment lessened their velocity
through the water, as the shot of their enemy, stripped the canvass
from the yards, or dashed aside the lighter spars in their terrible
"We find our equal here!" said Griffith to the stranger. "The
Ninety is heaving up again, like a mountain, and if we continue to
shorten sail at this rate, she will soon be upon us!"
"You say true, sir," returned the Pilot, musing; "the man shows
judgment as well as spirit; but—"
He was interrupted by Merry, who rushed from the forward part of
the vessel, his whole face betokening the eagerness of his spirit, and
the importance of his intelligence—
"The breakers!" he cried, when nigh enough to be heard amid the
din; "we are running dead on a ripple, and the sea is white not two
hundred yards ahead!"
"The Pilot jumped on a gun, and bending to catch a glimpse through
the smoke, he shouted, in those clear, piercing tones, that could be
even heard among the roaring of the cannon. "Port, port your helm! we
are on the Devil's Grip! pass up the trumpet, sir; port your helm,
fellow; give it them, boys—give it to the proud English dogs!"
Griffith unhesitatingly relinquished the symbol ofhis rank, fastening
his own firm look on the calm but quick eye of the Pilot, and gathering
assurance from the high confidence he read in the countenance of the
stranger. The seamen were too busy with their cannon and their rigging
to regard the new danger, and the frigate entered one of the dangerous
passes of the shoals, in the heat of a severely contested battle. The
wondering looks of a few of the older sailors glanced at the sheets of
foam that flew by them, in doubt whether the wild gambols of the waves
were occasioned by the shot of the enemy, when suddenly the noise of
cannon was succeeded by the sullen wash of the disturbed element, and
presently the vessel glided out of her smoky shroud, and was boldly
steering in the centre of the narrow passages. For ten breathless
minutes longer the Pilot continued to hold an uninterrupted sway,
during which the vessel ran swiftly by ripples and breakers, by streaks
of foam and darker passages of deep water, when he threw down his
trumpet and exclaimed—
"What threatened to be our destruction has proved our
salvation!—keep yonder hill crowned with wood, one point open from the
church tower at its base, and steer east and by north; you will run
through these shoals on that course in an hour, and by so doing, you
will gain five leagues of your enemy, who will have to double their
The moment he stepped from the gun, the Pilot lost the air of
authority that had so singularly distinguished his animated form, and
even the close interest he had manifested in the incidents of the day,
became lost in the cold, settled reserve he had affected during his
intercourse with his present associates. Every officer in the ship,
after the breathless suspense of uncertainty had passed, rushed to
those places where a view might be taken of their enemies. The Ninety
was still steering boldly onward, and had already approached the
Two-and-thirty, which lay, a helpless wreck, rolling on the unruly
seas, that were rudely tossing her on their wanton billows. The frigate
last engaged was running along the edge of the ripple, with her torn
sails flying loosely in the air, her ragged spars tottering in the
breeze, and every thing above her hull exhibiting the confusion of a
sudden and unlooked-for check to her progress. The exulting taunts and
mirthful congratulations of the seamen, as they gazed at the English
ships, were, however, soon forgotten in the attention that was required
to their own vessel. The drums beat the retreat, the guns were lashed,
the wounded again removed, and every individual, able to keep the deck,
was required to lend his assistance in repairing the damages of the
frigate and securing her masts.
The promised hour carried the ship safely through all the dangers,
which were much lessened by daylight, and by the time the sun had begun
to fall over the land, Griffith, who had not quitted the deck during
the day, beheld his vessel once more cleared of the confusion of the
chase and battle, and ready to meet another foe. At this period he was
summoned to the cabin, at the request of the ship's chaplain.
Delivering the charge of the frigate to Barnstable, who had been his
active assistant, no less in their subsequent labours than in the
combat, he hastily devested himself of the vestiges of the fight, and
proceeded to obey the repeated and earnest call.
Whither, 'midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day;
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?
When the young seaman, who now commanded the frigate, descended
from the quarter-deck in compliance with the often repeated summons, he
found the vessel restored to the same neatness as if nothing had
occurred to disturb its order. The gun-deck had been cleansed of its
horrid stains, and the smoke of the fight had long since ascended
through the hatches, and mingled with the clouds that flitted above the
ship. As he walked along the silent batteries, even the urgency of his
visit could not prevent him from glancing his eyes towards the
splintered sides, those terrible vestiges, by which the paths of the
shot of their enemy might be traeed; and by the time he tapped lightly
at the door of the cabin, his quick look had embraced every material
injury the vessel had sustained in her principal points of defence. The
door was opened by the surgeon of the frigate, who, as he stepped aside
to permit Griffith to enter, shook his head with that air of meaning,
which, in one of his profession, is understood to imply the abandonment
of all hopes, and then immediately quittedthe apartment, in order to
attend to those who might profit by his services.
The reader is not to imagine that Griffith had lost sight of
Cecilia and her cousin during the occurrences of that eventful day; on
the contrary, his troubled fancy had presented her terror and distress,
even in the hottest moments of the fight, and the instant that the crew
were called from their guns, he had issued an order to replace the
bulk-heads of the cabin, and to arrange its furniture for their
accommodation, though the higher and imperious duties of his station
had precluded his attending to their comfort in person. He expected,
therefore, to find the order of the rooms restored, but he was by no
means prepared to encounter the scene he was now to witness.
Between two of the sullen cannon, which gave such an air of
singular wildness to the real comfort of the cabin, was placed a large
couch, on which the Colonel was lying, evidently near his end. Cecilia
was weeping by his side, her dark ringlets falling in unheeded
confusion around her pale features, and sweeping in their rich
exuberance the deck on which she kneeled. Katherine leaned tenderly
over the form of the dying veteran, while her dark, tearful eyes seemed
to express self-accusation blended with deep commiseration. A few
attendants of both sexes surrounded the solemn scene, all of whom
appeared to be under the influence of the hopeless intelligence which
the medical officer had but that moment communicated. The servants of
the ship had replaced the furniture with a care that mocked the
dreadful struggle that so recently disfigured the warlike apartment,
and the stout, square frame of Boltrope occupied the opposite settee,
his head resting on the lap of the Captain's Steward, and his hand
gently held in the grasp of his friend the Chaplain. Griffithhad heard
of the wound of the master, but his own eyes now conveyed the first
intelligence of the situation of Colonel Howard. When the shock of this
sudden discovery had a little subsided, the young man approached the
couch of the latter, and attempted to express his regret and pity, in a
voice that afforded an assurance of his sincerity.
"Say no more, Edward Griffith," interrupted the Colonel, waving his
hand feebly for silence; "it seemeth to be the will of God that this
rebellion should triumph, and it is not for vain man to impeach the
acts of Omnipotence! To my erring faculties, it wears an appearance of
mystery, but doubtless it is to answer the purpose of his own
inscrutable providence! I have sent for you, Edward, on a business that
I would fain see accomplished before I die, that it may not be said old
George Howard neglected his duty, even in his last moments. You see
this weeping child at my side; tell me, young man, do you love the
"Am I to be asked such a question?" exclaimed Griffith.
"And will you cherish her—will you supply to her the places of
father and mother, will you become the fond guardian of her innocence
Griffith could give no other answer than a fervent pressure of the
hand he had clasped.
"I believe you," continued the dying man; "for however he may have
forgotten to inculcate his own loyalty, worthy Hugh Griffith could
never neglect to make his son a man of honour. I had weak, and perhaps
evil wishes in behalf of my late unfortunate kinsman, Mr. Christopher
Dillon; but they have told me that he was false to his faith. If this
be true, I would refuse him the handof the girl, though he claimed the
fealty of the British realms! But he has passed away, and I am about to
follow him into a world where we shall find but one Lord to serve, and
it may have been better for us both had we more remembered our duty to
Him, while serving the Princes of the earth. One thing further—know
you this officer of your congress well; this Mr. Barnstable?"
"I have sailed with him for years," returned Griffith, "and can
answer for him as myself."
The veteran made an effort to rise, which in part succeeded, and he
fastened on the youth a look of keen scrutiny that gave to his pallid
features an expression of solemn meaning, as he continued—
"Speak not now, sir, as the companion of his idle pleasures, and as
the unthinking associate commends his fellow, but remember that your
opinion is given to a dying man who leans on your judgment for advice.
The daughter of John Plowden is a trust not to be neglected, nor will
my death prove easy, if a doubt of her being worthily bestowed shall
"He is a gentleman," returned Griffith, "and one whose heart is not
less kind than gallant—he loves your ward, and great as may be her
merit, he is deserving of it all—like myself, he has also loved the
land that gave him birth, before the land of his ancestors, but—"
"That is now forgotten," interrupted the Colonel; "after what I
have this day witnessed I am forced to believe that it is the pleasure
of Heaven that you are to prevail! But, sir, a disobedient inferior
will be apt to make an unreasonable commander. The recent contention
"Remember it not, dear sir," exclaimed Griffith with generous
zeal—" 'twas unkindly provoked, and it is already forgotten and
pardoned.He has sustained me nobly throughout the day, and my life on
it, that he knows how to treat a woman as a brave man should!"
"Then am I content!" said the veteran, sinking back on his couch;
"let him be summoned."
The whispered message, which Griffith gave requesting Mr.
Barnstable to enter the cabin, was quickly conveyed, and he had
appeared before his friend deemed it discreet to disturb the
reflections of the veteran by again addressing him. When the entrance
of the young sailor was announced, the Colonel again roused himself,
and addressed his wondering listener, though in a manner much less
confiding and familiar, than that which he had adopted towards
"The declarations you made last night, relative to my ward, the
daughter of the late Captain John Plowden, sir, have left me nothing to
learn on the subject of your wishes. Here, then, gentlemen, you both
obtain the reward of your attentions! Let that reverend divine hear you
pronounce the marriage vows, while I have strength to listen, that I
may be a witness against ye, in heaven, should ye forget their tenor!
"Not now, not now," murmured Cecilia; "Oh ask it not now, my
Katherine spoke not, but deeply touched by the tender interest her
guardian manifested in her welfare, she bowed her face to her bosom, in
subdued feeling, and suffered the tears that had been suffusing her
eyes to roll down her cheeks in large drops, till they bathed the deck.
"Yes, now, my love," continued the Colonel, "or I fail in my duty.
I go shortly to stand face to face with your parents, my children; for
the man, who dying, expects not to meet worthy Hugh Griffith and honest
Jack Plowden in heaven, can have no clear view of the rewards that
belongto lives of faithful service to the country, or of gallant
loyalty to the King! I trust no one can justly say, that I ever forgot
the delicacy due to your gentle sex; but it is no moment for idle
ceremony when time is shortening into minutes, and heavy duties remain
to be discharged. I could not die in peace, children, were I to leave
you here in the wide ocean, I had almost said in the wide world,
without that protection which becomes your tender years and still more
tender characters. If it has pleased God to remove your guardian, let
his place be supplied by those he wills to succeed him!
Cecilia no longer hesitated, but she arose slowly from her knees,
and offered her hand to Griffith with an air of forced resignation.
Katherine submitted to be led by Barnstable to her side, and the
chaplain who had been an affected listener to the dialogue; in
obedience to an expressive signal from the eye of Griffith, opened the
prayer book from which he had been gleaning consolation for the dying
master, and commenced reading, in trembling tones, the marriage
service. The vows were pronounced by the weeping brides in voices more
distinct and audible than if they had been uttered amid the gay crowds
that usually throng a bridal; for though they were the irreclaimable
words that bound them forever to the men, whose power over their
feelings they thus proclaimed to the world, the reserve of maiden
diffidence was lost in one engrossing emotion of solemnity, created by
the awful presence in which they stood. When the benediction was
pronounced, the head of Cecilia dropped on the shoulder of her husband,
where she wept violently, for a moment, and then resuming her place at
the couch, she once more knelt at the side of her uncle. Katherine
received the cold kiss of Barnstable, passively, and returned slowly to
the spot whence she had been led.
Colonel Howard succeeded in raising his person, to witness the
ceremony, and had answered to each prayer with a fervent 'amen.' He
fell back with the last words, and a look of satisfaction shone in his
aged and pallid features, that declared the interest he had taken in
"I thank you, my children," he at length uttered, "I thank you, for
I know how much you have sacrificed to my wishes. You will find all my
papers relative to the estates of my wards, gentlemen, in the hands of
my banker in London, and you will also find there my will, Edward, by
which you will learn that Cicely has not come to your arms an
unportioned bride. What my wards are in persons and manners your eyes
can witness, and I trust the vouchers in London will show that I have
not been an unfaithful steward to their pecuniary affairs!"
"Name it not—say no more, or you will break my heart," cried
Katherine, sobbing aloud, in the violence of her remorse at having ever
pained so true a friend. "Oh! talk of yourself, think of yourself; we
are unworthy—at least I am unworthy of another thought!"
The dying man extended a hand to her in kindness, and continued,
though his voice grew feebler as he spoke—
"Then to return to myself—I would wish to lie, like my ancestors,
in the bosom of the earth—and in consecrated ground."
"It shall be done," whispered Griffith; "I will see it done
"I thank thee, my son," said the veteran; "for such thou art to me
in being the husband of Cicely —you will find in my will, that I have
liberated and provided for all my slaves—except those ungrateful
scoundrels who deserted their master— they have seized their own
freedom, and they need not be indebted to me for the same. There is,
Edward, also an unworthy legacy to the King; his Majesty will deign to
receive it—from an old and faithful servant, and you will not miss the
trifling gift." A long pause followed, as if he had been summing up the
account of his earthly duties, and found them duly balanced, when he
added, "kiss me Cicely—and you, Katherine—I find you have the genuine
feelings of honest Jack, your father.— My eyes grow dim—which is the
hand of Griffith? Young gentleman, I have given you all that a fond old
man had to bestow—deal tenderly with the precious child—we have not
properly understood each other—I had mistaken both you and Mr.
Christopher Dillon, I believe; perhaps I may have also mistaken my duty
to America—but I was too old to change my politics or my
religion—I—I—I lov'd the King—God bless him—"
His words became fainter and fainter as he proceeded, and the
breath deserted his body with this benediction on his livid lips, which
the proudest monarch might covet from so honest a man.
The body was instantly borne into a state-room by the attendants,
and Griffith and Barnstable supported their brides into the
after-cabin, where they left them seated on the sofa that lined the
stern of the ship, weeping bitterly, in each other's arms.
No part of the preceding scene had been unobserved by Boltrope,
whose small, hard eyes, were observed by the young men to twinkle, when
they returned into the state apartment, and they approached their
wounded comrade to apologize for the seeming neglect that their conduct
"I heard you were hurt, Boltrope," said Griffith, taking him kindly
by the hand; "but as I know you are not unused to being marked by shot,
I trust we shall soon see you again on deck.
"Ay, ay," returned the master, "you'll want no spy-glasess to see
the old hulk as you launch it into the sea. I have had shot, as you
say, before now to tear my running gear, and even to knock a splinter
out of some of my timbers, but this fellow has found his way into my
bread-room; and the cruise of life is up!"
"Surely the case is not so bad, honest David," said Barnstable;
"you have kept afloat, to my knowledge, with a bigger hole in your skin
than this unlucky hit has made!"
"Ay, ay," returned the master, "that was in my upper works, where
the doctor could get at it with a plug; but this chap has knocked away
the shifting-boards, and I feel as if the whole cargo was broken
up.—You may say, that Tourniquet rates me all the same as a dead man,
for after looking at the shot-hole, he has turned me over to the parson
here, like a piece of old junk which is only fit to be worked up into
something new. Captain Munson had a lucky time of it! I think you said,
Mr. Griffith, that the old gentleman was launched overboard with every
thing standing, and that Death made but one rap at his door, before he
took his leave!"
"His end was indeed sudden!" returned Griffith; "but it is what we
seamen must expect.
"And for which there is so much the more occasion to be prepared,"
the chaplain ventured to add, in a low, humble, and, perhaps, timid
The sailing-master looked keenly from one to the other as they
spoke, and, after a short pause, he continued with an air of great
" 'Twas his luck; and I suppose it is sinful to begrudge a man his
lawful luck. As for being prepared, parson, that is your business and
not mine; therefore, as there is but little time to spare, why, the
sooner you set about it the better; and to saveunnecessary trouble, I
may as well tell you not to strive to make too much of me, for, I must
own it to my shame, I never took learning kindly. If you can fit me for
some middling birth in the other world, like the one I hold in this
ship, it will suit me as well, and, perhaps, be easier to all hands of
If there was a shade of displeasure, blended with the surprise,
that crossed the features of the divine at this extraordinary
limitation of his duties, it entirely disappeared when he considered,
more closely, the perfect expression of simplicity with which the dying
master uttered his wishes. After a long and melancholy pause, which
neither Griffith nor his friend felt any inclination to interrupt, the
"It is not the province of man to determine on the degrees of the
merciful dispensations of the Deity, and nothing that I can do, Mr.
Boltrope, will have any weight in making up the mighty and irrevocable
decree. What I said to you last night, in our conversation on this very
subject, must still be fresh in your memory, and there is no good
reason why I should hold a different language to you now."
"I can't say that I log'd all that pass'd," returned the master,
"and that which I do recollect chiefly fell from myself, for the plain
reason that a man remembers his own, better than his neighbor's ideas.
And this puts me in mind, Mr. Griffith, to tell you, that one of the
forty-two's from the three-decker, travelled across the forecastle, and
cut the best bower within a fathom of the clinch, as handily as an old
woman would clip her rotten yarn with a pair of tailor's shears!—If
you will be so good as to order one of my mates to shift the cable
end-for-end, and make a new bend of it, I'll do as much for you another
"Mention it not," said Griffith; "rest assured that every thing
shall be done for the security of the ship in your department—I will
superintend the whole duty in person; and I would have you release your
mind from all anxiety on the subject, to attend to your more important
"Why," returned Boltrope, with a little show of pertinacity, "I
have an opinion, that the cleaner a man takes his hands into the other
world, of the matters of duty in this, the better he will be fitted to
handle any thing new.—Now the parson, here, undertook to lay down the
doctrine last night, that it was no matter how well or how ill a man
behaved himself, so that he squared his conscience by the lifts and
braces of faith, which I take to be a doctrine that is not to be
preach'd on shipboard, for it would play the devil with the best ship's
company that was ever mustered."
"Oh! no—no—dear Mr. Boltrope, you mistook me and my doctrine
altogether!" exclaimed the chaplain; "at least you mistook—"
"Perhaps, sir," interrupted Griffith, gently,"our honest friend
will not be more fortunate now. Is there nothing earthly that hangs
upon your mind, Boltrope? no wish to be remembered to any one, nor any
bequest to make of your property?"
"He has a mother, I know," said Barnstable in a low voice; "he
often spoke of her to me in the night watches; I think she must still
The master, who distinctly heard his young shipmates, continued for
more than a minute rolling the tobacco, which he still retained, from
one side of his mouth to the other, with an industry that denoted
singular agitation for the man, and raising one of his broad hands,
with the other he picked the worn skin from fingers, which were already
losing their brownish yellow hue in the fading colour of death, before
"Why, yes, the old woman still keeps her grip upon life, which is
more than can be said of her son David. The old man was lost the time
the Susan and Dorothy was wrecked on the back of Cape Cod; you remember
it, Mr. Barnstable? you were then a lad, sailing on whaling voyages
from the island! well, ever since that gale, I've endeavoured to make
smooth water for the old woman myself, though she has had but a rough
passage of it, at the best; the voyage of life, with her, having been
pretty much crossed by rugged weather and short stores."
"And you would have us carry some message to her? said Griffith,
"Why, as to messages," continued the master, whose voice was
rapidly growing more husky and broken, "there never has been many
compliments —passed between us, for the reason—that she is not more
used to receive them—than I am to make them. But if any one of you
will overhaul—the parser's books, and see what there is standing there
—to my side of the leaf—and take a little pains to get it to the old
woman—you will find her moor'd in the lee side of a house—ay, here it
is, No. 10 Cornhill, Boston. I took care—to get her a good warm birth,
seeing that a woman of eighty, wants a snug anchorage—at her time of
life, if ever.
"I will do it myself, David," cried Barnstable, struggling to
conceal his emotion; "I will call on her the instant we let go our
anchor in Boston harbor, and as your credit can't be large, I will
divide my own purse with her!"
The sailing-master was powerfully affected by this kind offer, the
muscles of his hard weatherbeatenface working convulsively, and it was
a moment before he could trust his voice in reply.
"I know you would, Dickey, I know you would," he at length uttered,
grasping the hand of Barnstable with a portion of his former strength;
"I know you would give the old woman one of your own limbs, if it would
do a service—to the mother of a messmate—which it would not—seeing
that I am not the son of a—cannibal; but you are out of your own
father's books, and it's too often shoal water in your pockets to help
any one—more especially since you have just been spliced to a pretty
young body—that will want all your spare coppers."
"But I am master of my own fortune," said Griffith, "and am rich."
"Ay, ay, I have heard it said you could build a frigate and set her
afloat all a-taunt-o without thrusting your hand—into any man's
purse—but your own!"
"And I pledge you the honor of a naval officer," continued the
young sailor, "that she shall want for nothing; not even the care and
tenderness of a dutiful son."
Boltrope appeared to be choking; he made an attempt to raise his
exhausted frame on the couch, but fell back exhausted and dying,
perhaps a little prematurely, through the powerful and unusual emotions
that were struggling for utterance. "God forgive me my misdeeds!" he,
at length, said, "and chiefly for ever speaking a word against your
disciplyne; remember the best bower—and look to the slings of the
lower yards—and—and—he'll do it Dickey, he'll do it! I'm casting
off—the fasts —of life—and so God bless ye all—and give ye good
weather—going large—or on a bowline!"
The tongue of the master failed him, but a look of heart-felt
satisfaction gleamed across his rough visage, as its muscles suddenly
contracted, whenthe faded lineaments slowly settled into the appalling
stiffness of death.
Griffith directed the body to be removed to the apartment of the
Master, and proceeded with a heavy heart to the upper deck. The
Alacrity had been unnoticed during the arduous chase of the frigate,
and favored by day-light, and her light draught of water, she had
easily effected her escape also among the mazes of the shoals. She was
called down to her consort by signal, and received the necessary
instructions how to steer during the approaching night. The British
ships were now only to be faintly discovered, like small white specks
on the dark sea, and as it was known that a broad barrier of shallow
water lay between them, the Americans no longer regarded their presence
as at all dangerous.
When the necessary orders had been given, and the vessels were
fully prepared, they were once more brought up to the wind, and their
heads pointed in the direction of the coast of Holland. The wind, which
freshened towards the decline of day, hauled round with the sun, and
when that luminary retreated from the eye, so rapid had been the
progress of the mariners, it seemed to sink in the bosom of the ocean,
the land having long before settled into its watery bed. All night the
frigate continued to dash through the seas with a sort of sullen
silence, that was soothing to the melancholy of Cecilia and Katherine,
neither of whom closed an eye during that gloomy period. In addition to
the scene they had witnessed, their feelings were harrowed by the
knowledge that, in conformity to the necessary plans of Griffith, and
in compliance with the new duties he had assumed, they were to separate
in the morning for an indefinite period, and possibly forever.
With the appearance of light, the boatswain senthis rough summons
through the vessel, and the crew were collected in solemn silence in
her gang-ways, to 'bury the dead.' The bodies of Boltrope, of one or
two of her inferior officers, and of several common men, who had died
of their wounds in the night, were, with the usual formalities,
committed to the deep; when the yards of the ship were again braced by
the wind, and she glided along the trackless waste, leaving no memorial
in the midst of the ever-rolling waters, to mark the place of their
When the sun had gained the meridian the vessels were once more
hove-to, and the preparations were made for a final separation. The
body of Colonel Howard was transferred to the Alacrity, whither it was
followed by Griffith and his cheerless bride, while Katherine hung
fondly from a window of the ship, suffering her own scalding tears to
mingle with the brine of the ocean. After every thing was arranged,
Griffith waved his hand to Barnstable, who had now succeeded to the
command of the frigate, and the yards of the latter were braced sharp
to the wind, when she proceeded to the dangerous experiment of forcing
her way to the shores of America, by attempting the pass of the
streights of Dover, and running the gauntlet through the English ships
that crowded their own channel; an undertaking, however, for which she
had the successful example of the Alliance frigate, which had borne the
stars of America along the same hazardous path but a few months
In the meanwhile the Alacrity, steering more to the west, drew in
swiftly towards the shores of Holland, and about an hour before the
setting of the sun, had approached so nigh as to be once more hove into
the wind, in obedience to the mandate of Griffith, A small light boat
was lowered into the sea, when the young sailor, and the pilot, who had
found hisway into the cutter unheeded, and almost unseen, ascended from
the small cabin together. The stranger glanced his eyes along the range
of coast, as if he would ascertain the exact position of the vessel,
and then turned them on the sea and the western horizon to scan the
weather. Finding nothing in the appearance of the latter to induce him
to change his determination, he offered his hand frankly to Griffith,
"Here we part. As our acquaintance has not led to all we wished,
let it be your task, sir, to forget we ever met."
Griffith bowed respectfully, but in silence, when the other
continued, shaking his hand contemptuously towards the land—
"Had I but a moiety of the navy of that degenerate republic, the
proudest among those haughty islanders should tremble in his castle,
and be made to feel there is no security against a foe that trusts his
own strength and knows the weakness of his enemy! But", he muttered in
a lower and more hurried voice, "this has been like Liverpool,
and—Whitehaven—and Edinburgh, and fifty more! it is past, sir; let it
Without heeding the wondering crew, who were collected as curious
spectators of his departure, the stranger bowed hastily to Griffith,
and springing into the boat, he spread her light sail with the
readiness of one who had nothing to learn even in the smallest matters
of his daring profession. Once more, as the boat moved briskly away
from the cutter, he waved his hand in adieu, and Griffith fancied, that
even through the distance, he could trace a smile of bitter
resignation, lighting his calm features with a momentary gleam. For a
long time the young man stood an abstracted gazer at his solitary
progress, watching the small boat asit glided towards the open ocean,
nor did he remember to order the head sheets of the Alacrity drawn, in
order to put the vessel again in motion, until the dark speck was lost
in the strong glare that fell, obliquely across the water, from the
Many wild and extraordinary conjectures were uttered among the crew
of the cutter, as she slowly drew in towards her friendly haven, on the
appearance of the mysterious pilot, during their late hazardous visit
to the coast of Britain, and on his still more extraordinary
disappearance, as it were, amid the stormy wastes of the North sea.
Griffith himself was not observed to smile, nor to manifest any other
evidence of his being a listener to their rude discourse, until it was
loudly announced that a small boat was seen pressing for their own
harbor, across the fore foot of the cutter, under a single lug-sail.
Then, indeed, the sudden and cheerful lighting of his troubled eye,
might have betrayed to more accurate observers, the vast relief that
was imparted to his feelings by the interesting discovery.
Come all you kindred Chieftains of the deep
In mighty phalanx, round your brother bend;
Hush every murmur that invades his sleep—
And guard the laurels that o'ershade your friend
— Lines on Tripp
Here, perhaps, it would be wise to suffer the curtain of our
imperfect drama to fall before the reader, trusting that the
imagination of every individual can readily supply the due proportions
of health, wealth, and happiness, that the rigid rules of poetic
justice would award to the different characters of the legend. But as
we are not disposed to part so coldly from those with whom we have long
held amicable intercourse, and as there is no portion of that in
reservation which is not quite as true as all that has been already
related, we see no unanswerable reason for dismissing the dramatis
personæ so abruptly. We shall therefore proceed to state briefly, the
outlines of that which befel them in after-life, regretting, at the
same time, that the legitimate limits of a modern tale will not admit
of such a dilatation of many a merry or striking scene, as might create
the pleasing hope of beholding hereafter, some more of our rude
sketches quickened into life, by the spirited pencil of Dunlap.
Following the course of the frigate, then, towards those shores,
from which, perhaps, we should never have suffered our truant pen to
have wandered, we shall commence the brief task with Barnstable, and
his laughing, weeping, gay, but affectionate, bride—the black-eyed
Katherine. The ship fought her way. gallantly, through swarms of the
enemy's cruisers, to the port of Boston, where Barnstable was rewarded
for his services by promotion, and a more regular authority to command
During the remainder of the war, he continued to fill that station
with ability and zeal, nor did he return to the dwelling of his
fathers, which he soon inherited, by regular descent, until after peace
had established not only the independence of his country, but his own
reputation, as a brave and successful sea-officer. When the Federal
Government laid the foundation of its present navy, Captain Barnstable
was once more tempted by the offer of a new commission to desert his
home; and for many years he was employed among that band of gallant
seamen who served their country so faithfully in times of trial and
high daring. Happily, however, he was enabled to accomplish a great
deal of the more peaceful part of his service accompanied by Katherine,
who, having no children, eagerly profited by his consent, to share his
privations and hardships on the ocean. In this manner they passed
merrily, and we trust happily, down the vale of life together,
Katherine entirely discrediting the ironical prediction of her former
guardian, by making, every thing considered, a very obedient, and
certainly, so far as attachment was concerned, a most devoted wife.
The boy Merry, who in due time became a man, clung to Barnstable
and Katherine, so long as it was necessary to hold him in leading
strings; and when he received his regular promotion, his first command
was under the shadow of his kinsman's broad pendant. He proved to be in
his meridian, what his youth had so strongly indicated, a fearless,
active, and reckless sailor, and his years might have extended to this
hour, had he not fallen untimely, in a duel with a foreign officer.
The first act of Captain Manual, after landing once more on his
native soil, was to make interest to be again restored to the line of
the army. He encountered but little difficulty in this attempt, and was
soon in possession of the complete enjoyment of that which his soul had
so long pined after, "a steady drill." He was in time to share in all
the splendid successes which terminated the war, and also to
participate in his due proportion of the misery of the army. His merits
were not forgotten, however, in the reorganization of the forces, and
he followed both St. Clair and his more fortunate successor, Wayne, in
the western campaigns. About the close of the century, when the British
made their tardy relinquishment of the line of posts along the
frontiers, Captain Manual was ordered to take charge, with his company,
of a small stockade on our side of one of those mighty rivers, that
sets bounds to the territories of the Republic in the north. The
British flag was waving over the ramparts of a more regular fortress,
that had been recently built, directly opposite, within the new lines
of the Canadas. Manual was not a man to neglect the observances of
military etiquette, and understanding that the neighbouring fort was
commanded by a field officer, he did not fail to wait on that
gentleman, in proper time, with a view to cultivate the sort of
acquaintance that their mutual situations would render not only
agreeable,but highly convenient. The American martinet, in ascertaining
the rank of the other, had not deemed it at all necessary to ask his
name, but when the red-faced, comical-looking officer with one leg, who
met him, was introduced as Major Borroughcliffe, he had not the least
difficulty in recalling to recollection his quondam acquaintance of St.
Ruth. The intercourse between these worthies was renewed with
remarkable gusto, and at length arrived to so regular a pass, that a
log cabin was erected on one of the islands in the river, as a sort of
neutral territory, where their feastings and revels might be held
without any scandal to the discipline of their respective garrisons.
Here the qualities of many a saddle of savory venison were discussed,
together with those of sundry pleasant fowls, as well as of divers
strange beasts that inhabit those western wilds, while, at the same
time, the secret places of the broad river were vexed, that nothing
might be wanting that could contribute to the pleasures of their
banquets. A most equitable levy was regularly made on their respective
pockets, to sustain the foreign expenses of this amicable warfare, and
a suitable division of labour was also imposed on the two Commandants,
in order to procure such articles of comfort as were only to be
obtained from those portions of the globe, where the art of man had
made a nearer approach to the bounties of nature, than in the vicinity
of their fortifications. All liquids in which malt formed an
ingredient, as well as the deep-coloured wines of Oporto, were suffered
to enter the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and were made to find their way,
under the superintendence of Borroughcliffe, to their destined goal;
but Manual was, solely, entrusted with the more important duty of
providing the generous liquor of Madeira, without any other restriction
on his judgment, than an occasional injunctionfrom his coadjutor, that
it should not fail to be the product of the "South-side!"
It was not unusual for the younger officers of the two garrisons to
allude to the battle in which Major Borroughcliffe had lost his
limb—the English ensign invariably whispering to the American on such
occasions, that it occurred during the late contest, in a desperate
affair on the North Eastern coast of their island, in which the Major
commanded, in behalf of his country, with great credit and signal
success; and for which service he obtained his present rank "without
purchase!" A sort of national courtesy prevented the two veterans, for
by this time both had earned that honourable title, from participating
at all in these delicate allusions; though whenever, by any accident,
they occurred near the termination of the revels, Borroughcliffe would
so far betray his consciousness of what was passing, as to favor his
American friend with a leer of singular significance, which generally
produced in the other that sort of dull recollection, which all actors
and painters endeavour to represent by scratching the head. In this
manner year after year rolled by, the most perfect harmony existing
between the two posts, notwithstanding the angry passions that
disturbed their respective countries, when an end was suddenly put to
the intercourse by the unfortunate death of Manual. This rigid observer
of discipline, never trusted his person on the neutral island without
being accompanied by a party of his warriors, who were posted as a
regular picquet, sustaining a suitable line of sentries; a practice
which he also recommended to his friend, as being highly conducive to
discipline, as well as a salutary caution against a surprise on the
part of either garrison. The Major, however, dispensed with the
formality in his own behalf, but was sufficientlygood-natured to wink
at the want of confidence it betrayed in his boon companion. On one
unhappy occasion, when the discussions of a new importation had made a
heavy inroad on the morning, Manual left the hut to make his way
towards his picquet, in such a state of utter mental aberration, as to
forget the countersign when challenged by a sentinel, and, melancholy
to relate, he met his death by a shot from a soldier, whom he had
drilled to such an exquisite state of insensibility, that the man cared
but little whether he killed friend or enemy, so long as he kept within
military usage, and the hallowed limits established by the articles of
war. He lived long enough, however, to commend the fellow for the deed,
and died while delivering an eulogium to Borroughcliffe, on the high
state of perfection to which he had brought his command!
About a year before this melancholy event. a quarter cask of wine
had been duly ordered from the South side of the island of Madeira,
which was, at the death of Manual, toiling its weary way up the rapids
of the Mississippi and the Ohio; having been made to enter by the port
of New-Orleans, with the intention of keeping it as long as possible
under a genial sun! The untimely fate of his friend imposed on
Borroughcliffe the necessity of attending to this precious relick of
their mutual tastes; and he procured a leave of absence from his
superior, with the laudable desire to proceed down the streams and
superintend its farther advance in person. The result of his zeal was a
high fever, that set in the day after he reached his treasure, and as
the Doctor and the Major espoused different theories, in treating a
disorder so dangerous in that climate, the one advising abstemiousness,
and the other administering repeated draughts of the cordial that had
drawn him so far from home, the disease was left to act its pleasure.
Borroughcliffe died in three days; and was carried back and interred by
the side of his friend, in the very hut which had so often resounded
with their humours and festivities! We have been thus particular in
relating the sequel of the lives of these rival chieftains, because,
from their want of connexion with any kind heart of the other sex, no
widows and orphans were left to lament their several ends, and
furthermore, as they were both mortal, and might be expected to die at
a suitable period, and yet did not terminate their career until each
had attained the mature age of three-score, the reader can find no just
grounds of dissatisfaction at being allowed this deep glance into the
womb of fate.
The chaplain abandoned the seas in time to retrieve his character,
a circumstance which gave no little satisfaction to Katherine, who
occasionally annoyed her worthy husband on the subject of the
informality of their marriage.
Griffith and his mourning bride conveyed the body of Colonel Howard
in safety to one of the principal towns in Holland, where it was
respectfully and sorrowfully interred; after which the young man
removed to Paris, with a view of erasing the sad images, which the
hurried and melancholy events of the few preceding days had left on the
mind of his lovely companion.— From this place Cecilia held communion,
by letter, with her friend Alice Dunscombe, and such suitable provision
was made in the affairs of her late uncle as the times would permit.
Afterwards, when Griffith obtained the command which had been offered
him, before sailing on the cruise in the North Sea, they returned
together to America. The young man continued a sailor until the close
of the war, when he entirely withdrew from the ocean, and devoted the
remainder of hislife to the conjoint duties of a husband and a good
As it was easy to reclaim the estates of Colonel Howard, which, in
fact, had been abandoned more from pride than necessity, and which had
never been confiscated, their joint inheritances made the young couple
extremely affluent, and we shall here take occasion to say, that
Griffith remembered his promise to the dying master, and saw such a
provision made for the childless mother, as her situation and his
It might have been some twelve years after the short cruise, which
it has been our task to record in these volumes, that Griffith, who was
running his eyes carelessly over a file of newspapers, was observed by
his wife to drop the bundle from before his face, and pass his hand
slowly across his brow, like a man who had been suddenly struck with
renewed impressions of some former event, or who was endeavouring to
recall to his mind images that had long since faded.
"See you any thing in that paper, to disturb you Griffith?" said
the still lovely Cecilia. "I hope that now we have our confederate
government, the States will soon recover from their losses—but it is
one of those plans to create a new navy, that has met your eye! Ah!
truant! you sigh to become a wanderer again, and pine after your
"I have ceased sighing and pining since you have begun to smile,"
he returned, with a vacant manner, and without removing his hand from
"Is not the new order of things, then, likely to succeed? Does the
Congress enter into contention with the President?
The wisdom and name of Washington will smooth the way for the
experiment, until timeshall mature the system. Cecilia, do you remember
the man who accompanied Manual and myself to St. Ruth, the night we
became your uncle's prisoners, and who afterwards led the party which
liberated us, and rescued Barnstable?"
"Surely I do; he was the pilot of your ship, it was then said; and
I remember the shrewd soldier we entertained, even suspected that he
was one greater than he seemed."
"The soldier surmised the truth: but you saw him not on that
fearful night, when he carried us through the shoals! and you could not
witness the calm courage with which he guided the ship into those very
channels again, while the confusion of battle was among us!"
"I heard the dreadful din! And I can easily imagine the horrid
scene," returned his wife, her recollections chasing the colour from
her cheeks even at that distance of time; "but what of him? is his name
mentioned in those papers? Ah! they are English prints! you called his
name Gray, if I remember?"
"That was the name he bore with us! he was a man who had formed
romantic notions of glory, and wished every thing concealed in which he
acted a part that he thought would not contribute to his renown. It has
been, therefore, in compliance with a solemn promise made at the time,
that I have ever avoided mentioning his name— he is now dead!"
"Can there have been any connexion between him and Alice Dunscomb?"
said Cecilia, dropping her work in her lap, in a thoughtful manner.—
"She met him alone, at her own urgent request, the night Katherine and
myself saw you in your confinement, and even then my cousin whispered
that they were acquainted! The letter I received yesterday, from Alice,
was sealed with black, andI was pained with the melancholy, though
gentle manner, in which she wrote of passing from this world into
Griffith glanced his eye at his wife, with a look of sudden
intelligence, and then answered like one who began to see with the
advantages of a clearer atmosphere.
"Cecilia, your conjecture is surely true! Fifty things rush to my
mind at that one surmise— his acquaintance with that particular
spot—his early life—his expedition—his knowledge of the abbey, all
confirm it! He, altogether, was indeed a man of marked character!"
"Why has he not been among us," asked Cecilia; "he appeared devoted
to our cause?"
"His devotion to America proceeded from desire of distinction, his
ruling passion, and perhaps a little also from resentment at some
injustice which he claimed to have suffered from his own countrymen. He
was a man, and not therefore without foibles—among which may have been
reckoned the estimation of his own acts; but they were most daring, and
deserving of praise! neither did he merit one half the obloquy that he
received from his enemies. His love of liberty may be more
questionable; for if he commenced his deeds in the cause of these free
States, they terminated in the service of a despot! He is now dead—but
had he lived in times and under circumstances, when his consummate
knowledge of his profession, his cool, deliberate, and even desperate
courage, could have been exercised in a regular, and well-supported
Navy, and had the habits of his youth better qualified him to have
borne, meekly, the honors he acquired in his age, he would have left
behind him no name in its lists that would have descended to the latest
posterity of his adopted countrymen with greater renown!"
"Why, Griffith," exclaimed Cecilia, in a little surprise, "you are
zealous in his cause! Who was he?"
"A man who held a promise of secrecy while living, which is not at
all released by his death. It is enough to know, that he was greatly
instrumental in procuring our sudden union, and that our happiness
might have been wrecked in the voyage of life had we not met the
unknown pilot of the German Ocean."
Perceiving her husband to rise, and carefully collect the papers in
a bundle, before he left the room, Cecilia made no further remark at
the time nor was the subject ever revived between them!