« PreviousContinue »
which had gone before it; absolutely the weight of a window sash, about you could not see the breadth of the eighteen inches long, and two inches ship from you; and as we had not diameter at the bottom, tapering taken the sun for five days, we had away nearly to a point at top, where to grope our way almost entirely by it was flattened, and a hole pierced the lead. I had the forenoon watch, for the line to be fastened to. At during the whole of which we were the lower end—the butt-end, as I amongst a little fleet of fishing- would say—there was a hollow scoopboats, although we could scarcely ed out, and filled with grease, so see them, but being unwilling to lose that, when the lead was cast, the ground by lying to, we fired a gun quality of the soil, sand, or shells, or every half hour, to give the small mud, that came up adhering to this craft notice of our vicinity, that they lard, indicated, along with the depth might keep their bells a-going. Every of water, our situation in the North three or four minutes, the marine Sea; and by this, indeed, we guided drum-boy, or some amateur per- our course, in the absence of all former,-for most sailors would give opportunity of ascertaining our posi. a glass of grog any day to be allowed tion by observations of the sun. The to beat a drum for five minutes on Captain consulted the chart—Sand end,-beat a short roll, and often as and shells; why, you should have we drove along, under a reefed fore- deeper water, Mr Treenail. Any of sail, and close reefed topsails, we the fishing-boats near you ?' could hear the answering tinkle be- “ Not at present, sir; but we canfore we saw the craft from which it not be far off some of them.' proceeded, and when we did perceive
“« Well, let me know when you her as we flew across her stern, we come near any of them.' could only see it, and her mast, and A little after this, as became my one or two well swathed, hardy fish- situation, I rose and made my bow, ermen, the whole of the little vessel and went on deck. By this time the forward being hid in a cloud. night had fallen, and it was thicker
“I had been invited this day to dine than ever, so that, standing beside with the Captain, Mr Splinter, the the man at the wheel, you could not first lieutenant being also of the see farther forward than the booms; party; the cloth had been with yet it was not dark either, that is, it drawn, and we had all had a glass or was moonlight, so that the haze, two of wine a-piece, when the fog thick as it was, had that silver gauzesettled down so thickly, although it like appearance, as if it had been was not more than five o'clock in the luminous in itself, that cannot be deafternoon, that the captain desired scribed to any one who has not seen that the lamp might be lit. It was it. The gun had been fired just as I done, and I was remarking the con- came on deck, but no responding trast between the dull, dusky, brown tinkle gave notice of any vessel belight, or rather the palpable London ing in the neighbourhood. Ten mi. fog that came through the sky-light, nutes, it may have been a quarter of and the bright yellow sparkle of the an hour, when a short roll of the lamp, when the second lieutenant, drum was beaten from the forecasMr Treenail, came down the ladder. tle, where I was standing. At the
“ We have sboaled our water to moment, I thought I heard a holla, five fathom, sir-shells and stones. but I could not be sure; presently I Here, Wilson, bring in the lead.' saw a small light, with a misty halo
" The leadsman, in his pea jacket surrounding it, just under the bowand shag trowsers, with the rain- sprit-Port your helm,' sung out drop hanging to his nose, and a large the boatswain ; 'port your belm, or knot in bis cheek from a junk of to- we shall be over a fishing-boat ! A bacco therein stowed, with pale, wet cry arose from beneath ; a black obvisage, and whiskers sparkling with ject was for an instant distinguishmoisture, while his long black hair able, and the next moment a crash hung damp and lank over his fine was heard; the spritsail-yard ratforehead, and the stand-up cape of tled, and broke off sharp at the point, his coat, immediately presented him- where it crossed the bowsprit; and self at the door, with the lead in his a heavy smashing thump against our claws, an octagonal shaped cone, like bows told in fearful language that we had run her down. Three of the légere of dat willain de Emperor men and a boy hung on by the rig- Napoleon. Ah! I see de red worstging of the bowsprit, and were ed epaulet of de grenadier also; brought safely on board; but two sacre, vat is dat pof of vite smoke ? poor fellows perished, with their “ What it was we soon ascertained boat. It appeared that they had to our heavy cost, for the shot that broken their bell, and although they had been fired at us from a long 32saw us coming, they had no better pound gun, took effect right abaft the means than shouting, and showing a foremast, and killed three men outlight, to advertise us of their vici- right, and wounded two. Several nity.
other shots followed, but with less “Next morning the wind once more sure aim. Returning the fire was of chopped round, and the weather no use, as our carronades could not cleared, and in four-and-twenty hours bave pitched their metal much more thereafter we were off the mouth of than half-way; or, even if they had the Elbe, with three miles of white been lovg guns, they would merely foaming shoals between us and the have plumped the balls into the turf land at Cuxhaven, roaring and hissing, rampart, without hurting any one. as if ready to swallow us up. It was So we wisely hauled off, and ran up low water, and, as our object was to the river with the young flood for land the Emissary at Cuxhaven, we about an hour, until we anchored had to wait, having no pilot for the close to the Hanoverian bank, near port, although we had the signal flying a gap in the dike, where we waited for one all morning, until noon, when till the evening. we ran in close to the green mound “ As soou as the night fell, a boat which constituted the rampart of the with muffled oars was manned, to fort at the entrance. To our great carry the messenger og shore. I was surprise, when we hoisted our co- in it; Mr Treenail, the second lieulours and pennant, and fired a gun tenant, steering. We pulled in right to leeward, there was no flag hoisted for a breach in the dike, lately cut in answer at the flag-staff, nor was by the French, in order to inundate there any indication of a single living the neighbourhood; and as the Elbe soul on shore to welcome us. Mr at high water is hereabouts much Splinter aud the Captain were stand- higher than the surrounding country, ing together at the gangway-Why, we were svon sucked into the cursir,' said the former, this silence rent, and bad only to keep our oars somewhat surprises me: what say in the water, pulling a stroke now you, Cheragoux ? to the govern- and then to give the boat steerage ment emissary or messenger already way. As we shot through the gap nientioned, who was peering through
into the smooth water beyond, we the glass close by.
then once more gave way, the boat's “Why, mi Lieutenant, I don't cer- head being kept in the direction of tain dat all ish right on sore dere.' lights that we saw twinkling in the
"No,' said Captain Deadeye; distance, apparently in some village why, what do you see?
beyond the inner embankment, when «• It ish not so mosh vat I shee, as all at once we dashed in amongst vat I no shee, sir, dat treinbles me. thousands of wild-geese, which rose It cannot surely be possib dat de with a clang, and a concert of quackPrussian an' Hanoverian troop have ing, screaming, and hissing, that was left de place, and dat dese dem startling enough. We skimmed steaFranceman ave advance so far as de dily on in the same direction—' Oars, Elbe autrefois, dat ish, once more ? men ! We were by this time close ““ French,' said Deadeye; 'poo,
to a small cluster of houses, perched nonsense; no French hereabouts ; on the forced ground or embanknone nearer than those cooped up in ment, and the inessenger hailed in Hamburgh with Davoust, take my German. word for it.'
Qui vive ! sung out a gruff “I sall take your vord for any ting voice; and we heard the clank of a else in de large vorld, mi Capitan; musket, as if some one had cast it but I see someting glance behind dat fronı his shoulder, and caught it in rampart, parapet you call, dat look his hands, as he brought it down to dem like de sbako of de infanterie the charge. Our passenger seemed
a little taken aback; but he hailed you will be légere in the Elbe or no. again, still in German. " Parole, Hark ! replied the man.
· The “ We all pricked up our ears, and watchword, or I fire. We had none strained our eyes, while a bright, to give.
spitting, sparkling fire of musketry **** Pull round, men,' said the Lieu- opened at the gap, but there was no tenant, with great quickness ; pull ping pinging of the shot overbead. the starboard oars; we are in the They cannot be firing at us, sir,' wrong box; back water the larboard. said the coxswain ; 'none of them That's it! give way, men.'
bullets are telling here away.' “ A flash-crack went the sentry's Presently a smart fire was returnpiece, and ping sung the ball over ed in three distinct clusters from the our heads. Another pause. Then water, and whereas the firing at first a volley from a whole platoon. Again had only lit up the dark figures of all was dark and silent. Presently a the French soldiery, and the black field-piece was fired, and several outline of the bank on which they rockets were let off in our direction, were posted, the flashes that answerby whose light we could see a whole ed them shewed us three armed company of French soldiers standing boats attempting to force the passage. to their arms, with several cannon, In a minute the firing ceased; the but we were speedily out of the measured splash of oars was heard, reach of their musketry; but several as boats approached us. round shots were fired at us, that “Who's there ?' sung out the lieuhissed, recochetting along the water tenant. close by us. Not a word was spoken Torches,' was the answer. in the boat all this time, but we con- “* All's well, Torches,' rejoined Mr tinued to pull for the opening in the Treenail; and presently the jollydike, although, the current being boat, and launch and cutter of the strong against us, we made but little Torch, with twenty marines, and sixway; while the chance of being cut and-thirty seamen, all armed, were off by the Johnny Crapeaus getting alongside. round the top of the embankment, «What cheer, Treenail, my boy?' 80 as to command the gap before we quoth Mr Splinter. could reach it, became every mo- " Why,not much; the French, who ment more alarming.
we were told had left the Elbe en“The messenger was in great tribu- tirely, are still here, as well as at lation, and made several barefaced Cuxhaven, not in force certainly, but attempts to stow himself away under sufficiently strong to have peppered the stern sheets.
us very decently. “Thegallantfellows who composed ““ What, are any of the people the crew strained at their oars until hurt?' every thing cracked again; but as the “ No,' said the garrulous emissary. food made, the current against us 'No, not hurt, but some of us frightincreased, and we barely held our ened leetle piece-ah, very mosh, je own. “Steer her out of the current, man,' said the lieutenant to the “Speak for yourself, Master Plecoxswain ; the man put the tiller to nipo,' said Treenail. • But, Splinter, port as he was ordered.
my man, now since the enemy have “ Vat you do soch a ting for, Mr occupied the dyke in front, how the Capitan Lieutenant ?' said the emis- deuce shall we get back into the sary. 'Oh! you not pershave you river, tell me that?' are rone in onder de igh bank. How • Why,' said the senior lieutenyou shall satisfy me, no France in- ant,' we must go as we came.' fanterie légere dere, too, more as in “And here the groans from two poor de fort, eh? How you sall satisfy fellows who had been hit were heard me, Mister Capitan Lieutenant, eh ? from the bottom of the launch. The
“. Hold your blasted tongue, will cutter was by this time close to us, you,' said Treenail, and the in- on the larboard side, commanded by fantry légere be damned simply. Mr Julius Cæsar Tip, the senior Mind your eye, my fine fellow, or I midshipman, vulgarly called in the shall be much inclined to see whether ship Bathos, or the art of sinking, from
his rather unromantic name. Here artillery in the very act of being un. also a low moaning evinced the pre- limbered. We could distinctly hear cision of the Frenchman's fire. the clash of the mounted artillery
“« Lord, Mr Treenail, a sharp men's sabres against their horses' brush that was.'
flanks, as they rode to the rear, their “ Hush,' quoth Treenail. At this burnished accoutrements glancing at moment three rockets hissed up into every sparkle of the musketry. We the dark sky, and for an instant the pulled like fiends, and being the fasthull and rigging of the sloop of war est boat, soon headed the launch and at anchor in the river, glanced in the cutter, who were returning the eneblue-white glare, and vanished again, my's fire brilliantly, when crack-a like a spectre, leaving us in more six-pound shot drove our boat into thick darkness than before.
staves, and all hands were the next “Gemini! what is that now?' quoth moment squattering in the water. I Tip, as we distinctly heard the com- sank a good bit, I suppose, for when mixed rumbling and rattling sound I rose to the surface, balf drowned of artillery scampering along the and giddy
and confused, and striking dike.
out at random, the first thing I recol“The ship has sent up these rock- lected was, a hard hand being wrung ets to warn us of our danger,' said Mr into my neckerchief, while a gruff Treenail. ( What is to be lone ? voice shouted in my earAh, Splinter, we are in a scrape
“« Rendez vous, mon cher.' there they have brought up field- “ Resistance was useless. I was pieces, don't you hear ?
forcibly dragged up the bank, where Splinter had heard it as well as his both musketry and cannon were still junior officer. • True enough, Tree- playing on the boats, which had, how. nail; so the sooner we make a dash ever, by this time got a good offing. through the opening the better.' I soon knew they were safe by the « • Agreed.'
Torch opening a fire of round and “ By some impulse peculiar to grape on the head of the dike, a cerBritish sailors, the men were just tain proof that the boats had been about cheering, when their com- accounted for. The French party manding officer's voice controlled now ceased firing, and retreated by them. Hark, my brave fellows, the edge of the inundation, keeping silence as you value your lives.' the dike between them and the brig,
“So away we pulled, the tide being all except the artillery, who had to now nearly on the turn, and present- scamper off, running the gauntlet on ly we were so near the opening that the crest of the embankment until we could see the signal-lights in the they got beyond the range of the rigging of the sloop of war. All was carronades. I was conveyed between quiet on the dike.
two grenadiers, along the water's “« Zounds, they have retreated after edge, so long as the ship was firing ; all,' said Mr Treenail.
but when that ceased, I was clapped “" Whoo-o, whoo-o,' shouted a on one of the limbers of the fieldgruff voice from the shore.
guns, and strapped down to it be“« There they are still,' said Splin- iween two of the artillerymen. ter. “Marines, stand by, don't throw “ We rattled along, until we came away a shot; men, pull like fury. So, up to the French bivouac, where give way my lads, a minute of that round a large fire, kindled in what strain will shoot us along side of the seemed to have been a farmyard, old brig—that's it-hurrah !'
were assembled about fifty or sixty “• Hurrah ! shouted the men in French soldiers. Their arms were answer, but his and their exclama- piled under a low projecting roof of tions were cut short by a volley of an out-house, while the fire dickered musketry. The fierce mustaches, pale upon their dark figures, and glanced faces, glazed shakoes, blue uniforms, on their bright accoutrements, and and red epaulets, of the French in. lit up the wall of the house that comfantry, glanced for a moment, and posed one side of the square. I was then all was dark again.
immediately marched between a file “ Fire! The marines in the three of men, into a small room in the outboats returned the salute, and by the house, where the commanding offiflashes we saw three pieces of field cer of the detachment was seated at a table, & blazing wood fire roaring “When we arrived there, we found in the chimney. He was a genteel, ten Blankenese boats, two of them slender, dark man, with very large very large, and fitted with sliding black mustaches, and fine sparkling platforms. The four field-pieces black eyes, and had apparently just were run on board, two into each; dismounted, for the mud was fresh one hundred and fifty men embarked on his boots and trowsers. The lat- in them and the other craft, which I ter were blue, with a broad gold lace found partly loaded with sacks of down the seam, and fastened by a corn. I was in one of the smallest strap under his boot, from which boats with the colonel. When we projected a long fixed spur”. were all ready to shove off, ' Lafont,'
“ Nothing very noticeable in all said he, are the men ready with this," said Mr Bang.
their couteaux ?' Possibly not, my dear sir,” I re- • They are, sir,' replied the serplied ; “but to me it was remarkable geant. as an unusual dress for a militaire, “Then cut the horses'throats- but the British army being, at the time I no firing.' A few bubbling groans, write of, still in the age of breeches and some heavy falls, and a strugand gaiters or tall boots, long cues gling splash or two in the water, and pipeclay-that is, those troops showed that the poor artillery horses which I had seen at home, although had been destroyed. I believe the great Duke had already “ The wind was fair up the river, relaxed a number of these absurdi- and away we bowled before it. It ties in Spain."
was clear to me that the colonel “ His single-breasted coat was commanding the post had overrated - buttoned close up to his throat, and our strength, and, under the belief
without an inch of lace except on his that we had cut him off from Cuxcrimson collar, which fitted close baven, he had determined on falling round bis neck, and was richly em- back on Hamburgh. broidered with gold acorn and oak “When the morning broke, we were leaves, as were the crimson cuffs to close to the beautiful bank below his sleeves. He wore two immense Altona. The trees were beginning to and very bandsome gold epaulets. assume the russet hue of autumn,
"My good boy,' said he, after the and the sun shone gaily on the pretty officer who had captured me had told villas and bloomin gartens on the his story– so your Government bill side, while here and there a thinks the Emperor is retreating from Chinese pagoda, or other fanciful the Elbe ?'
pleasure-house, with its gilded trel"I was a tolerable French scholar, lised work, and little bells dependas times went, and answered him as ing from the eaves of its many roofs, well as I could.
glancing like small golden balls, rose • I have said nothing about that, from out the fast thioning recesses sir ; but, from your question, I pre- of the woods. But there was no life sume you command the rear-guard, in the scene—'twas · Greece, but Colonel ?
living Greece no more,'—not a fish“ How strong is your squadron on ing-boat was near, scarcely a solitary the river ? said he, parryiog the figure crawled along the beach. question.
*«• What is that after we had "• There is only one sloop of war, passed Blankenese, said the colonel sir'—and I spoke the truth.
quickly. • Who are those ?' as a “ He looked at me, and smiled in- group of three or four men presentcredulously; and then continued ed themselves at a sharp turning of
“I don't command therear-guard, the road, that wound along the foot sir-but I waste time—are the boats of the hill close to the shore. ready ?'
« • The uniform of the Prussians, “He was answered in the affirmative.
«« Of the Russians,' said another. "Then set fire to the houses, and «• Poo,' said a third, it is a piclet off the rockets; they will see them ket of the Prince's; and so it was, at Cuxhaven-men, fall in-march'— but the very fact of his having ad. and off we all trundled towards the vanced his outposts so far, shewed river again.
how he trembled for his position.