Page images

kind heart, for by this time a glass morning; so I recommend your turnof water had cured him of his faint- ing in, now since they have cleared ness, shone conspicuous on this oc- away the cockpit out of the cabin; casion.

so good night, my dear sir, I must “Why, Reefy-little Reefy-you stay here, I fear." are not hurt, my man-Surely you Good night, Tom; God bless you. are not wounded-such a little fel. I shall go and comfort Wagtail and low,-I should have as soon thought Paul.” of firing at a musquitto."

I was at this time standing well aft “ Indeed, sir, but I am; see here." on the larboard side of the deck, - Bang looked at the hurt, as he sup close abaft of the tiller-rope, so that, ported the wounded midshipman in with no earthly disposition to be an his arms.

eavesdropper, I could neither help “ God help me," said the excel- seeing nor hearing what was going lent fellow,

you seem to me fitter on in the cabin, as the small open for your mother's nursery, my poor skylight was close to my foot. All dear boy, than to be knocked about vestiges of the cockpit had been in this coarse way here.” Reefy, at cleared away, and the table was laid this moment, fell over into his arms, for supper. Wagtail and Gelid were in a dead faint.

sitting on the side I stood on, so that “You must take my birth, with the I could not see them, although I Captain's permission,” said Aaron, heard every word they said. Prewhile he and Wagtail undressed him sently Bang entered, and sat down with the greatest care, and placed opposite his allies. He crossed his him in the narrow crib.

arms, and leant down over the table, “ Thank you, my dear sir,” moan- looking at them steadily. ed little Reefpoint; were my mo

“My dear Aaron,” I could hear lite ther here, sir, she would thank you tle Wagtail say, “speak, man, don't too."

frighten a body so." Stern duty now called me on deck, “ Ah, Bang," drawled out Paul, and I heard no more. The night was "jests are good, being well-timed; still very dark, and I could see no- what can you mean by that face of thing of the chase, but I made all the yours now, since the fighting is all sail I could in the direction which I

over ?” calculated she would steer, trusting My curiosity fairly overcame my that, before morning, we might get good manners, and I moved round another glimpse of him. In a little more amidships, so as to command while Bang came on deck.

a view of both parties, as they sat “I say, Tom, now since little Reefy opposite each other at the narrow is asleep-what think you-big craft table. that-nearly caught a Tartar-not Bang still held his peace for anvery sorry he has escaped, eh ?” other minute; at length, in a very

Why, my dear sir, I hope he has solemn tone, he said, “Gentlemen, do not escaped; I hope, when the day you ever say your prayers ?” I don't breaks, now that we have less wind, know if I mentioned it before, but that we may have a tussle with him Aaron had a most musical deep mel. yet."

low voice, and now it absolutely “No, you don't wish it, do you, thrilled to my very soul. really and truly ?”

Wagtail and Paul looked at him, “ Indeed, I do, sir; and the only and then at each other, with a most thing which bothers me is the peril absurd expression-between fear that you and your friends must ne- and jest-between crying and laughcessarily have to encounter.”

ing-but gave him no answer. Poo, poo, don't mind us, Tom, “ Are you, my lads, such blockdon't mind us; but an't he too big heads as to be ashamed to acknowfor you, Tom ?"

ledge that you say your prayers He said this in such a comical way, 'Ah,” said Gelid, “ why, ah nothat, for the life of me, I could not not--that is”help laughing.

Oh, you Catholics are all so bi. Why, we shall see; but attack goted, I suppose we should cross him I must, and shall, if I can get at ourselves, eh?" said Wagtail hastily. him. However, we shall wait till “I am a Catholic, Master Wag

[ocr errors]

tail," rejoined Bang—" better that our number ; and the snipe, from than nothing. Before sunrise, we what I know of him, is the very man may both have proved the truth of to keep his word--so what say you, our creeds, if you bave one; but if my darling, eh ?” you mean it as a taunt, Wagtail, it "Ah, very inconvenient, ah, -I does discredit to your judgment to shall stay below,” said Paul. select such a moment, to say nothing “So shall I," quoth Pepperpot; of your heart. However, you can- "won't stick my nose on deck, Aaron not make me angry with you, Pep- dear, no, not for the whole world.” perpot, you little Creole wasp, do as “Why,” said Bang, in the same you will.” A slight smile here curled steady low tone, " you shall do as Aaron's lip for an instant, although you please, ah,”—and here he very he immediately resumed the solemn successfully imitated our amigo Getone in which he had previously spo- lid's drawl-"and as best suits you, ken.—"But I hoped that two such ah; but I have consulted the gunner, old friends, as you both have been to an old ally of mine, who, to be plain me, would not altogether make up with you-ah-says that the danger their minds in cold blood, if adverti- from splinter wounds below, is much sed of their danger, to run the chance greater than from their musketry on of dying like dogs in a ditch, without deck—ah—the risk from the round one preparatory thought towards that shot being pretty equal-ah-in either tremendous Being, before whom we situation." At this announcement you may all stand before morning." could have jumped down either Wag

" Murder !" quoth Wagtail, fairly tail's or Gelid's throat,-Wagtails frightened; “ are you really serious, for choice,-without touching their Aaron? I did not-would not, for teeth. “Farther, the aforesaid Timothe world, hurt your feelings in ear- thy, and be hanged to him, deponeth, nest, my dear; why do you desire that the only place in a small vessel so earnestly to know whether or not where we could have had a modeI ever say my prayers ?”

rate chance of safety was the Run," Oh, don't bother, man,” rejoined so called, I presume, from people Bang, resuming his usual friendly running to it for safety; but where tone; " you had better say boldly the deuce this sanctuary is situated that you do not, without any round- I know not, nor does it signify aboutation.”

greatly, for it is now converted into “ But why, my dear Bang, why à spare powder magazine, and of do you ask the question ?” persisted course sealed to us. So here we Wagtail, in a deuced quandary. are, my lads, in as neat a taking

Simply,”—and here our friend's as ever three unfortunate gentlemen voice once more fell to the low were in, in this weary world. Howdeep serious tone in which he had ever, let us go to bed-time enough opened the conference,—"simply be- to think on all this in the morning, cause, in my humble estimation, if and I am consumedly tired.” you don't say your prayers to-night, I heard no more, and resumed my it is three to one you shall never

solitary walk on deck, peering pray again.”

every now and then through the " The deuce!" said Pepperpot, night glass, until my eyes ached twisting himself in all directions, as again. The tedious night at length if his inexpressibles had been nailed wore away, and the grey dawn found to his seat, and he was trying to es- me sound asleep, leaning out at the cape from them.“What, in the devil's gangway. They had scarcely begun name, mean you, man ?”

to wash down the decks, when we “I mean neither more nor less discerned our friend of the precethan what I say. I speak English, ding night, about four miles to winddon't I? I say, that that pestilent ward, close hauled on the same tack, young fellow Cringle told me half apparently running in for the Cuba an hour ago, that he was determined, shore, as fast as canvass could carry as he words it, to stick to this Guinea- him. If this was his object, we had man, who is three times bis size, proved too quick for him, as by casthas eighteen guns, while Mastering off stays, and slacking shrouds, Tommy has only three ; and whose and, in every way we could think of, crew, I will venture to say, triples loosening the rigid trim of the little

[ocr errors]

vessel, we had in a great measure paticular, when dem wery debils, recovered her sailing ; so when he Sambo Moses, Corromantee Tom, found he was cut off from the land, and Eboe Peter, took to de bush, at he resolutely bore up, took in his top- Crabyaw estate-after breakfast gallant-sails, hauled up his courses, ten black shot-me was one-go out fired a gun, and hoisted his large along wid our good massa, Massa Spanish ensign, all in regular man- Aaron. Oh Lord, we walk troo de of-war fashion. By this time it was cool wood, and over de hot cleared broad daylight, and Wagtail, Gelid, ground, six hour, when every body and Bang, were all three on deck, say,– No use dis, Massa Bang-all performing their morning ablutions. we tired too much-must stop here As for myself, I was well forward, -kindle fire-cook wittal.' near the long gun. Pegtop, Mr Bang's top dem who hab white liver,' said black valet, came up to me.

Massa Aaron;'you, Pegtop, take you " Please, Massa Captain, can you fusee and cutlass, and follow me, spare me any muskets ?”

my shild'— Massa Aaron alway call " Any muskets ?” said I ;. "why, me him

shild, and troo enough, as half a dozen if you choose.” parson Calaloo say, him fanıily

wery “ De wery number my massa told much like Joseph coat-many come to hax for. Tank you, Massa Cap- lour mong dem, Massa—though tain.” And forthwith he and the other none quite so deep as mine eider". two black serrants in attendance on and here the negro grinded at his Wagtail and Gelid, each seized his two own jest. “Well, I was follow him, muskets out of the arm-chest, with or rader was go before him, opening the corresponding ammunition, and, up de pass wid me cutlass, troo de like so many sable Robin Crusoes, wery tangle underwood. We walk were stumping aft, when I again ac- four hour-see no one—all still and costed the aforesaid Pegtop. quiet-no breeze shake de tree-oh,

" I say, my man, now since you I sweat too much-dem hot, Massa have got the muskets, does your -sun shine right down, when we master really intend to fight?” could catch glimpse of bim-yet no The negro stopped short, and faced trace of de runaways. At length, on right round, his countenance ex- turning corner, perched on small pressing very great surprise and platform of rock, overshadowed by wonderment. " Massa Bang fight? plumes of bamboos, like ostrich Massa Aaron Bang fight ?" and he feather lady wear at de ball, who looked up in my face with the shall we see but dem wery dividual most serio-comic expression that dem rascail I was mention, standcould be imagined. " Ah, massa, ing all tree, each wid one carabine continued the poor fellow,—" you is pointed at us, at him shoulder, and joking-surely you is joking-my cutlass at him side ? • Pegtop, my massa Aaron Bang fight? Oh massa, boy, said Massa Aaron, we is in surely you can't know he-surely for it-follow me, but don't fire.' you never see him shoot snipe, and So him pick off Sambo Moses wild-duck-oh dear, why him kill oh! cool as one cucumber. Now,' wild-duck on de wing—ah, me of- say he, ‘man to man,'—and wid dat ten see him knock down teal wid him tro him gun on de ground, single ball, one hundred-ah, one and drawing him cutlass, we push hundred and fifty yards and man up-in one moment him and Corsurely more big mark den teal ?” romantee Tom close. Tom put up

“ Granted," I said; "but a teal has him hand to fend him head—whip not a loaded musket in its claws, as -ah-massa cutlass shred de hand a Spanish buccaneer may havema at de wrist, like one carrot-down small difference, Master Pegtop, in Tom go-atop of him jump Massa that?!

Aaron. I master de leetle one, Eboe “None at all, master," chimed in Peter, and we carry dem both priPegtop very energetically—“I my. soners into Falmouth.-Massa Aaron shef, Gabriel Pegtop, Christian man fight? Ah, Massa, no hax dat quesas me is, am one of de Falmouth tion again." black shot. Ah, I have been in de “Well, but will Mr Gelid fight?" woods, wid Massa Aaron-one time said I.

“I tink him will too-great friend ward, evidently cleared for action, of Massa Bang-good duck-shot too with her decks crowded with men, -oh yes, tink Massa Paul will fight.” bowling along steadily under her

“Why,” said I, "your friends are single reefed topsails. all heroes, Pegtop-will Mr Wagtail I saw all clear. Wagtail and Gelid fight also ?” He stole close up to me, had followed me on deck; and, to and exchanged his smart Creole gib- my great surprise, were now busy berish for a quiet sedate accent, as with their black servants inspecting he whispered

the muskets. But Bang still re“ Not so sure of he-nice little fat mained in the cabin. I went down. man, but too fond of him belly. He was gobbling his last plantain, When I wait behind Massa Aaron and forking up along with it most chair, Pegtop sometime hear funny respectable Aitches of bacon-ham ting. One gentleman say—Ah, dat when I entered. month we hear Lord Wellington take I had seen before I left the deck Saint Sebastian-when dat is, what that an action was now unavoidable, time we hear dat news, Massa Wag- and judging from the disparity of tail?' him say.—'Eb,' say Massa Wag- force, I had my own doubts as to the tail-'oh, we hear of dem news, dat issue. I need scarcely say that I wery day de first of de ringtail was greatly excited. It was my first pigeon come to market. Den again, command: My future standing in

Dat big fight dem had at soch an- the service depended on my conduct oder place, when we hear of dat, now,—and, God help me, I was all Massa Wagtail?'—say somebody else. this while a mere lad, not more than - Oh, oh, de wery day we hab dat twenty-one years old. A strange beautiful grouper wid claret sauce at indescribable feeling had come over Massa Whiffle’s.' Oh, make me laugh me, and an irresistible desire to disto hear white gentleman mark great burden my mind to the excellent man fight in him memory by what him before me. I sat down. eat de day de news come; so Massa Hey day,” quoth Bang, as he Captain Cringle, me no quite sure laid down his coffee-cup, ; why weder massa Wagtail will fight or Tom, what ails you? You look no.”

deuced pale, my boy." So saying, Pegtop, Chew Chew, “Up all night, sir," said I;" weaand Yampea, each shouldered two ried enough, I can tell you.” muskets a-piece, and betook them- I felt a strong tremor pervade my selves to the after part of the schoon- whole frame at this moment; and I er, where they forth with set them- was impelled to speak by some unselves to scour, and oil, and clean known'impulse, which I could not the same, in a most skilful manner. account for nor analyse. I expected the breeze would have “Mr Bang, you are the only friend freshened as the day broke, but I whom I could count on in these was disappointed; it fell, towards six countries; you know all about me o'clock, nearly calm. Come, thought and mine, and I believe would willI, we may as well go to breakfast; ingly do a kind action to my father's and my guests and I forthwith sat down to our morning meal. We had

“ What are you at, Tom, my dear scarcely finished it, when the rush. boy? come to the point, man. ing of the water past the run of the « I will. I am distressed beyond little vessel, and the steadiness with measure at having led you and your which she skimmed along, shewed excellent friends, Wagtail and Gelid, that the light air had freshened. into this danger; but I could not

Presently Tailtackle came down. help it, and I have satisfied my con“ The breeze has set down, sir; the science on that point; so I have only strange sail has got it strong to to entreat that you will stay below, windward, and brings it along with and not unnecessarily expose your him cheerily."

selves. And if I should fall-may I “ Beat to quarters, then, Tail- take this liberty, my dear sir," and I tackle; all hands stand by to shorten involuntarily grasped his hand, -"if sail. How is she standing?" I should fall, and I doubt if I shall

Right down for us, sir.” ever see the sun set again, as we are I went on deck, and there was the fearfully overmatched”. Guineaman about two miles to wind

Bang struck in


"Why, if our friend be too big, already made up my mind to bewhy not be off then? Pull foot, man, lieve; and that she had some fifty eh?_Havannah under your lee?” hands of a crew, I also considered

A thousand reasons against it, likely; but that her captain should my dear sir. I am a young man and have resorted to such a perilous meaa young officer, my character is to sure, perilous to themselves as well make in the service-No, no, it is as to us, as arming the captive slaves, impossible-an older and tried hand was quite unexpected, and not a lite might have bore up, but I must tle alarming, as it evinced his deterfight it out. If any stray shot carries mination to make the most desperate me off, my dear sir, will you take"- resistance. Mary, I would have said, but I could Tailtackle was standing beside me not pronounce her name for the at this time, with his jacket off, his soul of me" will you take charge cutlass girded on his thigh, and the of her miniature, and say I died as I belt drawn very tight. All the rest of have”- A choking lump rose in my the crew, were armed in a similar throat, and I could

not proceed for a fashion ; the small-arm-men with second; "and will you send my wri- muskets in their hands, and the rest ting desk to my poor mother, there at quarters at the guns ; while the are letters in"The lump, grew

pikes were cast loose from the spars bigger, the hot tears streamed from round which they had been stopped, my eyes in torrents. I trembled like with the tubs of wadding, and boxes an aspen leaf, and grasping my ex- of grape, all ready ranged, and every cellent friend's hand, I sunk down thing clear for action. on my knees in a passion of tears, “ Mr Tailtackle,” said I," you are and wept like a woman, while I fer- gunner here, and should be in the vently prayed to that great God in magazine. Cast off that cutlass ; it is whose almighty hand I stood, that I not your province to lead the boardmight that day do my duty as an Eng-ers. The poor fellow blushed, halish seaman. Bang knelt by me, and ving, in the excitement of the mo. wept also. Presently the passion was ment, forgotten that he was anything quelled. I rose, and so did he. more than captain of the Firebrand's

“Before you, my dear sir, I am maintop. not ashamed to have".

“ Mr Timotheus," said Bang, “Don't mention it-my good boy “ have you one of these bodkins to - don't mention it ; neither of us, as the old general said, will fight a bit Timothy laughed. “Certainly, sir; the worse.”

but you don't mean to head the I looked at him. “ Do you then boarders, sir-do you ?”. mean to fight ?" said I.

“Who knows, now since I have “ To be sure Ido-why not? I have learned to walk on this dancing cork no wife. Fight? To be sure I do.” of a craft ?” rejoined Aaron, with a

“ Another gun, sir," said Tail- grim smile, while he pulled off his tackle, through the open skylight. coat, braced on his cutlass, and tied Now all was bustle, and we hasten- a large red cotton shawl round his ed on deck. Our antagonist was head. He then took off his neckera large brig, three hundred tons at chief and fastened it round his waist, the least, a long low vessel, paint- as tight as he could draw. ed black, out and in, and her sides "Strange that all men in peril-on round as an apple, with immensely the uneasiness like,” said he,“should square yards. She was apparent- always gird themselves as tightly as ly full of men.

The sun

was they can.” The slaver was now getting high, and she was coming within musket shot, when he put his down fast on us, on the verge of the helm to port, with the view of passa dark blue water of the sea breeze. ing under our stern.

To prevent I could make out ten ports and nine being raked, we had to luff up sharp guns of a side. I inwardly prayed in the wind, and fire a broadside. they might not be long ones, but I I noticed the white splinters glance was not a little startled to see through from his black wales ; and once the glass that there were crowds of more the same sharp yell rung in naked negroes at quarters, and on our ears, followed by the long methe forecastle and poop. That she lancholy howl, already described. was a contraband Guineaman, I had “ We have pinned some of the

spare ?

« PreviousContinue »