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Full text of "Cerise, a tale of the last century"

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UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS LIBRARY AT URBANA-CHAMPAIGN 



SEP 2 2 utI, 
SI? / 



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CERISE 



A TALE OF THE LAST CENTUKY. 



G. J. WHYTE MELVILLE, 

AUTHOR OF 
THE GLADIATORS," " DIGBV GRAND," "THE BROOKES OF BRIDLEMERE," ETC. 



IN THREE VOLUMES. 
VOL. II. 



LONDON: 

CHAPMAN AND HALL, 193, PICCADILLY 

1866. 

[The right of Translation is reserved.] 



PRINTED BY W. CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFORD STREET 
AND CHARING CROSS. 



CONTENTS OF VOL. II. 



CHAPTER I. 

THE FOX AND FIDDLE . .1 

CHAPTER II. 

THREE STRANDS OF A YARN . . . .16 

CHAPTER III. 

THE TARLOUR LODGER " . . . . .31 

CHAPTER IV. 

A VOLUNTEER ....... 46 

CHAPTER Y. 

THREE PRESSED MEN 61 

CHAPTER VI. 

" TO-HEAYE-YO !" 78 

CHAPTER VII. 

'THE BASHFUL MAID ' 92 

CHAPTER VIII. 

DIRTY WEATHER ...... 108 

CHAPTER IX. 

PORT WELCOME . . . . . . .118 



IV CONTENTS. 

CHAPTER X. 

MONTMIRAIL WEST 133 

CHAPTER XI. 

BLACK, BUT COMELY 157 

CHAPTER XII. 

A WISE CHILD 166 

CHAPTER XIII. 

JACK AGROUND 183 

CHAPTER XIV. 

JACK AFLOAT 199 

CHAPTER XY. 

BESIEGED ........ 208 

CHAPTER XVI. 

AT BAY ■ . 225 

CHAPTER XVII. 

JUST IN TIME ....... 240 

CHAPTER XVIII. 

MERE AVANT TOUT 256 

CHAPTER XIX. 

ALL ADRIFT . . . . . . . 272 

CHAPTER XX. 

HOMEWARD BOUND . . . . . . 283 



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CERISE: 



A TALE OF THE LAST CENTUEY. 



CHAPTER I. 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 




HREE dirty children with blue eyes, 
fair locks, and round, chubby faces, 
deepened by a warm, peach-like tint 
beneath the skin, such as are to be seen 
in plenty along our southern seaboard, were busily 
engaged building a grotto of shells opposite their 
home, at the exact spot where its construction 
was most in the way of pedestrians passing through 
the narrow, ill-paved street. Their shrill cries and 
blooming looks denoted the salubrious influence of 
sea-air, while their nationality was sufficiently 
attested by the vigour with which the eldest, a 
VOL. IL B 



1 CERISE. 

young lady less than ten years of age, called out 
" Frenchie ! Frenchie ! Froggie ! Froggie !" after 
a foreign-looking man with a pale face and dark 
eyes, who stepped over the low half-door that 
restrained her infant brothers and sisters from 
rolling out into the gutter, as if he was habitually 
a resident in the house. He appeared, indeed, a 
favourite with the children, for while they recalled 
him to assist their labours, which he did with a 
good-nature and address peculiarly winning to 
architects of that age, they chanted in his praise, 
and obviously with intention of doing him high 
honour, a ditty of no particular tune, detailing the 
matrimonial adventures of an amphibious animal, 
supposed in the last century to bear close affinity 
to all Frenchmen, as related with a remarkable 
chorus by one Anthony Rowley, and the obliging 
foreigner, suspecting neither sarcasm nor insult, 
but only suffering torture from an utter absence of 
tune, hummed lustily in accompaniment. 

Over the heads of these urchins hung their 
paternal sign-board, creaking and swinging in the 
breeze now freshening with an incoming tide. Its 
representation of a fox playing the fiddle was 
familiar to seafaring men as indicating a favourite 
house of call for the consumption of beer, tobacco, 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 3 

and that seductive compound known to several 
generations by the popular name of punch. 

The cheerful fire, the red curtains, the sanded 
floor, the wooden chairs, and liberal measures of 
their jovial haunt, had been present to the mind's 
eye of many an honest tar clinging wet and cold 
to a slippery yard, reefing topsails in a nor'-wester, 
or eating maggoty biscuit and sipping six-water 
grog, on half-rations, homeward-bound with a 
head-wind, but probably none of them had ever 
speculated on the origin of the sign they knew so 
well and thought of so often. Why a fox and fiddle 
should be found together in a seaport town, what 
a fox had to do with a fiddle, or, however appro- 
priate to their ideas of jollity the instrument might 
appear, wherefore its player should be represented 
as the cunning animal whom destiny had already 
condemned to be hunted by English country 
gentlemen, was a speculation on which they had no 
wish to embark. Neither have I. It is enough 
to know that the Fox and Fiddle sold loaded 
beer, strong tobacco, and scalding punch, to an 
extent not even limited by the consumer's purse ; for 
when Jack had spent all his rhino, the landlord's 
liberality enabled him to run up a score, hereafter 
to be liquidated from the wages of a future 

B 2 



4 CERISE. 

voyage. The infatuated debtor, paying something 
like two hundred per cent, on every mouthful for 
this accommodation, by a farther arrangement, 
that he should engage with any skipper of the 
landlord's providing, literally sold himself, body 
and soul, for a nipperkin of rum and half a pound 
of tobacco. 

Nevertheless, several score of the boldest hearts 
and readiest hands in England were to be 
bought at this low price ; and Butter-faced Bob, as 
his roughspoken customers called the owner of 
the Fox and Fiddle, would furnish as many of 
them at a reasonable tariff, merchant and man-of- 
war's men, as the captain wanted or the owners 
could afford to buy. It was no wonder his chil- 
dren had strong lungs a ad round, well-fed cheeks. 

"That's a good chap !" observed a deep hoarse 
voice, which made the youngest grotto-builder start 
and shrink behind its sister, while a broad elderly 
figure rolled and lurched after the obliging foreigner 
into the house. It would have been as impossible to 
mistake the new comer for a landsman as Butter- 
faced Bob, himself, for anything but a publican. 
His gait on the pavement was that of one who had 
so thoroughly got his sea-legs, that he was, to the 
last degree, incommoded by the uneven though 



THE FOX AND" FIDDLE. D 

stable surface of the shore ; and while he trod the 
passage, as being planked, with more confidence, 
he nevertheless ran his hand, like a blind man, 
along tables and other articles of furniture while 
he passed them, seeming, in every gesture, to be 
more ready with his arms than his legs. 

Broad-faced, broad-shouldered, broad-handed, 
he looked a powerful, and at the same time a 
strong-constitutioned man, but grizzled hair and 
shaggy eyebrows denoted he was past his prime ; 
while a reddened neck and tanned face, with 
innumerable little wrinkles round the eyes, sug- 
gested constant watchfulness and exposure in hard 
weather afloat, no less than swollen features and 
marked lines told of deep drinking and riotous 
living ashore. 

The seamen of that period, though possessing an 
undoubted claim to the title, were far more than 
to-day a class distinct and apart from their fellow- 
countrymen. The standing army, an institution of 
which our parliaments had for generations shown 
themselves so jealous, could boast, indeed, a con- 
solidation and discipline under Marlborough which 
made them, as the Musketeers of the French king 
allowed, second to no troops in Europe. But their 
triumphs, their organization, even their existence, 



6 CERISE. 

was comparatively of recent date. The navy, on 
the other hand, had been a recognized and con- 
stitutional force for more than a century, and had 
enjoyed, from the dispersion of the Spanish Armada 
downwards, a series of successes almost uninter- 
rupted. It is true that the cannonade of a Dutch 
fleet had been heard in the Thames, but few of the 
lowest seamen were so ignorant as to attribute this 
national disgrace to want of courage in their 
officers or incapacity in themselves. 

Their leaders, indeed, were usually more remark- 
able for valour than discretion, nor was this sur- 
prising under the system by which captains were 
appointed to their ships. 

A regiment and a three-decker were considered 
by the Government equivalent and convertible 
commands. The cavalry officer of to-day might 
find himself directing the manoeuvres of a fleet 
to-morrow. The relics of so untoward an arrange- 
ment may be detected in certain technical phrases 
not yet out of use. The word " squadron " is even 
now applied alike to a handful of horse and a 
powerful fleet, numbering perhaps a dozen sail of 
the line. Raleigh, himself, began his fighting 
career as a soldier, and Rupert finished his as 
a sailor. 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 7 

With such want of seamanship, therefore, 
amongst its commanders, our navy must have 
possessed in its construction some great preponde- 
rating influence to account for its efficiency. This 
compensating power was to be found in its masters, 
its petty-officers, and its seamen. 

The last were thoroughly impregnated with the 
briny element on which they passed their lives. 
They boasted themselves a race apart. " Land- 
lubber " was for them a term conveying the utmost 
amount of derision and contempt. To be an * old 
salt " was the ideal perfection at which alone it 
was -worth while for humanity to aim. The seaman, 
exulting in his profession, was never more a seaman 
than when rolling about on shore, swearing strange 
oaths, using nautical phrases, consuming vast 
quantities of beer and tobacco, above all, flinging 
his money here and there with a profuse and 
injudicious liberality especially distinctive of his 
kind. 

The popularity of such characters amongst the 
lower classes may be readily imagined, for, with 
the uneducated and unreflecting, a reckless bearing 
very generally passes for courage ; a tendency to 
dissipation for manliness ; and a boastful expendi- 
ture for true generosity of heart. Perhaps, to the 



b CERISE. 

erroneous impressious thus disseminated amongst 
the young should be attributed the inclination 
shown towards a service of which the duties en- 
tailed continual danger, excessive hardship, and 
daily privation. Certainly at a period when the 
worst provision was made, both physical and moral, 
for the welfare of men before the mast, there never 
seems to have been found a difficulty in keeping 
up the full complement of the British navy. 

They were, indeed, a race apart — not only in 
their manners, their habits, their quaint expres- 
sions, their simple modes of thought, but in their 
superstitions and even their religious belief. They 
cultivated a rough, honest kind of piety, well illus- 
trated in later years by Dibdin, himself a lands- 
man, when he sang of 

" The sweet little cherub that sits up aloft 
Keeping watch for the life of poor Jack." 

But it was overloaded and interspersed with a 
thousand strange fancies not more incongruous than 
unreasonable and far-fetched. 

No power would induce them to clear out 
of port, or, indeed, commence any important 
undertaking, on a Friday. Mother Carey's 
chickens were implicitly believed to be messengers 
sent express from another world to warn the 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 9 

mariner of impending storm, and bid him shorten 
sail ere it began to blow. Carlmilhan, the famous 
pirate, who, rather than be taken alive, had in 
default of gunpowder scuttled his own ship and 
gone down with it, all standing, was still to be 
heard giving notice in deep unearthly tones from 
under her very keel when the ship approached 
shoal water, shifting sands, or treacherous coral- 
reefs in the glittering seas beneath the tropics. 
That phantom Dutchman, who had been provoked 
by baffling winds about the Cape to speak " un- 
advisedly with his lips," was still to be seen in those 
tempestuous latitudes careering through the storm- 
drift, under a press of sail, when the best craft that 
-wain hardly dared show a stitch of canvas. The 
speaking-trumpet was still to be heard from her 
deck shouting her captain's despairing request to 
take his letters home, and the magic ship still dis- 
appeared at half a cable's length and melted into 
air, while the wind blew fiercer and the sea rose 
higher, and sheets of rain came flashing down from 
the black squall lowering overhead. 

Nor was it only in the wonders of this world 
that the tar professed his unaccountable belief. 
His credulity ran riot in regions beyond the grave, 
or, to use his own words, after he had " gone to 



10 CERISE. 

Davy Jones." A mystical spot which he called 
Fiddler's Green was for him both the Tartarus and 
Elysium of the ancients — a land flowing, not in- 
deed with milk and honey, but with rum and lime- 
juice ; a land of perpetual music, mirth, dancing, 
drinking, and tobacco ; a land in which his weary 
soul was to find an intervening spell of enjoyment 
and repose, ere she put out again for her final 
voyage into eternity. 

In the mean time, the new arrival at the Fox 
and Fiddle, seating himself at a small table in the 
public room, or tap as it would now be called, 
ordered a quart of ale and half a pint of rum. 
These fluids he mingled with great care, and sipped 
his beverage in a succession of liberal mouthfuls, 
dwelling on each with an approving smack as a 
man drinks a good bottle of claret. Butter-faced 
Bob, who waited on him, remarked that he pulled 
out but one gold piece in payment, and knowing 
the ways of his patrons, concluded it was his last, 
or he would have selected it from a handful. The 
landlord remembered he had a customer in the 
parlour who wanted just such articles as this burly, 
broad-shouldered seaman, with pockets at low 
water. 

The man did not, however, count his change 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 11 

when it was brought him, but shovelled it into his 
seal- skin tobacco pouch, a coin or two short, with- 
out looking at it. He then filled carefully, drank, 
and pondered with an air of grave and imposing 
reflection. Long before his measure was finished 
a second guest entered the taproom, whose man- 
ners, gait, and gestures were an exact counterpart 
of the first. He was taller, however, and thinner, 
altogether less robust and prosperous - looking, 
showing a sallow face and withered skin, that 
denoted he had spent much of his life in hot cli- 
mates. Though he looked younger than the other, 
his bearing was more staid and solemn, nor did he 
at once vociferate for something to drink. Beer 
seemed his weakness less than 'bacca, for he placed a 
small copper coin on a box ingeniously constructed 
so that, opening only by such means, it produced 
exactly the money's worth of the fragrant weed, 
and loading a pipe with a much-tattooed hand, pro- 
ceeded to puff volumes of smoke through the 
apartment. 

Butter-faced Bob, entering, cheerfully proffered 
all kinds of liquids as a matter of course, but was 
received with surly negatives, and retired to specu- 
late on the extreme of wealth or poverty denoted 
by this abstinence. A man, he thought, to be 



12 CERISE. 

proof against such temptations must be either so 
rich, and consequently so full of liquor that he was 
unable to drink any more, or so poor that he 
couldn't afford to be thirsty. 

So the last comer smoked in silence at a little 
table of his own, which he had drawn into a corner, 
and his predecessor drank at his table, looking 
wiser and wiser, while each glanced furtively at the 
other without opening his lips. Presently the eyes 
of the elder man twinkled : he had got an idea — 
nay, he actually launched it. Filling his glass, 
and politely handing it to the smoker, but reserv- 
ing the jug to drink from himself, he proposed the 
following comprehensive toast — 
" All ships at sea !" 
They both drank it gravely and without farther 
comment. It was a social challenge, and felt to be 
such ; the smoker pondered, put out the glass he 
had drained to be refilled, and holding it on a level 
with his eyes, enunciated solemnly — 

*' All ships in port !" 
When equal justice had been done to this kindred 
sentiment, and the navies of the world were thus 
exhausted, they came to a dead-lock and relapsed 
into silence once more. 

This calm might have remained unbroken for a 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 13 

considerable time but for the entrance of a third 
seaman, much younger than either of the former, 
whose appearance in the passage had been received 
by a round of applause from the children, a hearty 
greeting from the landlady — though that portly 
woman, with her handsome face, would not have 
left her arm-chair to welcome an admiral — and a 
"good-morrow," louder, but not more sincere, from 
Bob himself. It appeared that this guest was well 
known and also trusted at the Fox and Fiddle, for, 
entering the public room with a sea-bow and a 
scrape of his foot on its sanded floor, he called 
lustily for a quart of strong ale and a pipe, while he 
produced an empty purse and shook it in the land- 
lord's face with a laugh of derision that would 
have become the wealthiest nobleman in Great 
Britain. 

"Ay, lad," said Bob, shaking his head, but 
setting before his customer the beer and tobacco as 
desired. " 'Tis well enough to begin a fresh score 
when the old one's wiped out ; but I saw that 
purse, with my own eyes, half full of broad pieces 
at the ebb. See now ; you've gone and cleared it 
out — not a blessed groat left — and it's scarce high- 
water yet !" 

" What o' that, old shiney ?" laughed the other, 



14 CERISE. 

" Isn't there plenty more to be yarned when them's 
all gone ? Slack water be hanged ! I tell you I'll 
have a doubloon for every one of these here rain- 
drops afore a month's out. I know where they 
grows, old man, I know where they grows. My 
sarvice to ye, mates ! Here's ' Outward bound and 
an even keel !' " 

While he spoke he whirled the rain-drops off his 
shining hat upon the floor, and nodding to the 
others, took a long pull at his ale, which nearly 
emptied the jug ; then he filled a pipe, winked at 
the retiring landlord, and smoked in silence. The 
others scanned him attentively. He was an active, 
well-built young fellow of two or three-and-twenty, 
with foretop-man written on every feature of his 
reckless, saucy, good-looking face — in every gesture 
of his wiry, loose, athletic limbs. He was very 
good-looking ; his eyes sparkled with fun and his 
teeth were as white as a lady's ; his hair too might 
have been the envy of many a woman, clustering 
as it did in a profusion of curls, over a pair of real 
gold ear-rings — a fashion now beginning to find 
considerable favour amongst the rising generation 
of seamen, though regarded with horror by their 
seniors as a new and monstrous affectation, proving, 
if indeed proof were needed for so self-evident a 



THE FOX AND FIDDLE. 15 

fact, that, as in all previous and subsequent ages, 
" the service was sroinof to the devil." 

Even his joviality, however, seemed damped by 
the taciturnity of his comrades. He too smoked in 
silence and gave himself up to meditation. The 
rain pattered outside, and gusts of wind dashed it 
fitfully against the window-pane. The tide moaned 
sullenly, and a house-dog, chained in the back- 
yard, lifted up his voice to howl in unison. The 
three seamen smoked and drank and brooded, 
each occasionally removing his pipe from his 
mouth as if about to break the silence, on which 
the others looked in his face expectant, and for a 
time this was the whole extent of the conversa- 
tion. 




CHAPTER II. 




THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 

S in a council of war, the youngest 
spoke first. " Mates !" said he, " here 
be three of us, all run for the same 
port and never a one sported bunting. I 
ain't a chap, I ain't, as must be brought to afore 
he'll show his number. When I drinks with a 
man I likes to fit his name on him ship-shape, so 
here's my sarvice to you, messmates both ! They 
calls me Slap-Jack. That's about what they calls 
me both ashore and afloat." 

It was absolutely necessary after such an ex- 
ordium that more liquor should be brought in, and 
a generous contention immediately arose between 
the three occupants of the taprOom as to who 
should pay for it; at once producing increased 



THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 17 

familiarity, besides a display of liberality on the 
part of the eldest and first comer, who was indeed 
the only one possessing ready money. Butter- 
faced Bob being summoned, the jugs were re- 
plenished and Slap-Jack continued his remarks. 

" I've been cruising about a-shore," said he, 
between the whiffs of his pipe, "and very bad 
weather I made on it standing out over them 
Downs, as they calls 'em, in these here latitudes. 
Downs, says I, the Downs is mostly smooth water 
and safe anchorage; but these here Ups and 
Downs is a long leg and a short one, a head wind 
and an ebb tide, all the voyage through. I made 
my port though, d'ye mind me, my sons, at last, 
and — and — well, we've all had our sweethearts in 
our day, so we'll drink her health by your leave. 
Here's to Alice, mates ! and next round it shall 
be your call, and thank ye hearty/' 

So gallant a toast could not but be graciously 
accepted. The second comer, however, shook his 
head while he did it justice, and drank, so to 
speak, under protest, thereby in no measure abating 
the narrator's enthusiasm. 

" She's a trim-built craft is my Alice," continued 
the latter reflectively. " On a wind or off a wind, 
going large or close hauled, moored in dock or 

VOL. II. C 



'18 CERISE. 

standing out in blue water, there's not many of 'em 
can show alongside of she. And she's weatherly 
besides, uncommon weatherly she is. When I 
bids her good-bye at last, and gives her a bit of a 
squeeze just for a reminder-like, she wipes her 
eyes, and she smiles up in my face, and ' God bless 
you, Jack,' says she ; ' you won't forget me,' says she, 
i an' you'll think of me sometimes, when it's your 
watch on deck, and as for me, Jack, I'll think of you 
every hour of the day and night till you comes 
back again ; it won't be so very long first.' She's 
heart of oak, is that lass, mates, and I wouldn't be 
here now, but that I'm about high and dry, and 
that made me feel a bit lubberly, d'ye see, till 
I got under weigh for the homeward trip ; an' you'll 
never guess what it was as raised my spirits beat- 
ing to windward across them Downs with a dry 
mouth and my heart shrunk up to the size of a pea." 

" A stiff glass of grog nor'-nor'-west ?" suggested 
the oldest sailor with a grunt. "Another craft 
on the same lines, with new sails bent, and a lick 
of fresh paint on," snarled the second, whose 
opinion of the fair sex, derived chiefly from sea- 
port towns, was none of the highest. 

" Neither one nor t'other," replied Slap-Jack, 
triumphantly. "Scalding punch wouldn't have 



THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 10 

warmed my heart up just then, and I wasn't 
a-goia' to clear out from Alice like that, and give 
chase to a fresh sail just because she cut a feather 
across my fore-foot. It was neither more nor less 
than a chap swinging in chains ; a chap as had 
been swinging to all appearance so long, he must 
have got used to it, though I doubt he was very 
wet up there in nothing but his bones. He might 
have been a good-looking blade enough when he 
began, but I can't say much for his figure-head 
when I passed under it for luck. It wanted paint- 
ing, mates, let alone varnish, and he grinned awful 
in the teeth of the wind. So I strikes my topmast 
as I forges ahead, and I makes him a low bows 
and, says I, thank ye kindly, mate, says I, for 
putting it in my mind, says I ; you've been ' on the 
account,' in all likelihood, and that's where I'll go 
myself next trip, see if I won't ; and I ask your 
pardon, my sons, for you're both older men than 
me by a good spell, if that isn't the trade for a 
lad as looks to a short voyage and good wages, 
every man for himself, grab what you see an' 
keep all you can ?' 

Thus appealed to, the elder seaman felt bound 
to give an opinion, so he cleared his throat and 
asked huskily — 

c 2 



20 CERISE. 

" Have you tried it, mate ? You seems like a 
lad as has dipped both hands in the tar-bucket, 
though you be but young and sarcy. Lookye, now, 
you hoisted signals first, an' I ain't a-going to show 
a false ensign, I ain't. You may call me Bottle- 
Jack ; you won't be the first by a many, and I 
ain't ashamed o' my name." 

The next in seniority then removed the pipe 
from his lips, and smiting the table with a heavy 
fist, observed sententiously — 

"And me, Smoke-Jack, young man. It's a 
rum name, ain't it, for as smart a foretopman as 
ever lay out upon a yard ? but I've yarned it, 
that's what I sticks to. I've yarned it. Here's 
your health, lad. I wish ye well." 

The three having thus gone through all the 
forms necessary to induce a long and stanch 
friendship amongst men of their class, Slap-Jack 
made a clean breast of it, as if he had known his 
companions for years. 

" I have tried it, mates," said he, " and a queer 
game it is ; but I don't care how soon I try it 
again. I suppose I must have been born a lands- 
man somehow, d'ye see? though I can't make 
much of that when I come to think it over. It 
don't seem nat'ral like, but I suppose it was so. 



THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 21 

Well, I remember as I rimned away from a old 
bloke wot wanted to make me a sawbones — a saw- 
bones! and I took and shipped myself, like a 
young bear, aboard of the ' Sea-swallow,' cabin-boy 
to Captain Delaval. None o' your merchantmen 
was the ' Sea-swallow,' nor yet a man-o'-war, 
though she carried a royal ensign at the gaff, and 
six brass carronades on the main-deck. She was a 
waspish craft as ever you'd wish to see, an' dipped 
her nose in it as though she loved the taste of 
blue water, the jade ! — wet, but weatherly, an' such 
a picture as you never set eyes on, close-hauled 
within five points of the wind ! First they gam- 
moned me as she was a slaver, and then a sugar- 
merchant's pleasure-boat, and sometimes they said 
she was a privateer, with letters of marque from 
the king ; but I didn't want to know much 
about that ; King George, or King Louis, it 
made no odds, bless ye; I warn't a goin' to 
turn sawbones, an' Captaiu Delaval was my 
master, that was enough for me ! Such a master 
he was, too ! No seaman — not he. His hands 
were as white as a lady's, an' I doubt if he 
knew truck from tanrail ; but with old Blowhard, 
the master, to sail her, and do what the skipper 
called swabbing and dirty work, there wasn't a 



22 CERISE. 

king's officer as ever I've heard of could touch 
him. Such a man to fight his ship was Captain 
Delaval. I've seen him run her in under a 
Spanish battery, with a table set on deck and a 
awning spread, and him sitting with a glass of 
wine in his hand, and give his orders as cool and 
comfortable as you and me is now. 'Easy, 
Blowhard,' he'd sing out, when old ' Blow ' was 
sweating, and cursing, and stamping about to get 
the duty done. 'Don't ye speak so sharp to the 
men,' says he ; ' spoils their ear for music/ says he. 
6 We'll be out o' this again afore the breeze falls, 
and we'll turn the fiddles up and have a dance in 
the cool of the evening.' Then he'd smile at me, 
and say,. ' Slap-Jack, you little blackguard, run 
below for another pineapple ; not so rotten-ripe as 
the last ;' and by the time I was on deck again, 
he'd be wiping his sword carefully, and drawing 
on his gloves — that man couldn't so much as 
whistle a hornpipe without his gloves ; and let 
who would be second on board the prize, be she 
bark, schooner, brig, galleon, or square-rigged ship, 
Captain Delaval he would be first. Look ye 
here, mates, I made two voyages with Captain 
Delaval, and when I stepped on the quay at 
Bristol off the second — there ! I was worth a 



THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 23 

hundred doubloons, all in gold, besides as much 
silk as would have lined the foresail, and a pair of 
diamond ear-rings that I lost the first night I 
slept ashore. I thought, then, as perhaps I wasn't 
to see my dandy skipper again, but I was wrong. 
I've never been in London town but once, an' I 
don't care if I never goes no more. First man I 
runs against in Thames Street is Captain Delaval, 
ridin' in a cart with his hands tied ; and old Blow- 
hard beside him, smelling at a nosegay as big as 
the binnacle. I don't think as old ' Blow ' knowed 
me again, not in long togs ; but the skipper he 
smiles, and shows his beautiful white teeth as he 
was never tired of swabbing and holy-stoning, and 
1 There's Slap-Jack !' says he ; * Good-bye, Slap- 
jack ; I'll be first man over the gunwale in this 
here scrimmage, too,' says he, * for they'll hang me 
first, and then Blowhard, when he's done with his 
nosegay.' I wish I could find such another 
skipper, now ; what say ye, mates ?" 

Smoke- Jack, who was sitting next him, did not 
immediately reply. He was obviously of a logical 
and argumentative turn of mind, with a cavilling 
disposition, somewhat inclined to speculative 
philosophy ; such a character, in short, as naval 
officers protest against under the title of a lawyer. 



24 CERISE. 

He turned the matter over deliberately ere he 
replied, with a voluminous puff of smoke between 
each sentence — 

" Some likes a barky, and some wouldn't touch 
a rope in any craft but a schooner ; and there's 
others, again, swears a king's cutter will show her 
heels to the liveliest of 'em, with a stiffish breeze 
and a bobble of sea on. I ain't a goin' to dispute 
it. Square-rigged, or fore-and-aft, if so be she's 
well-found and answers her helm, I ain't a-goin' to 
say but what she'll make good weather of it the 
whole voyage through. Men thinks different, 
young chap ; that's where it is. Now you asks 
me my opinion, and I'll give it you, free. I'm a 
old man-of-war's man, I am. I've eat the king's 
biscuit and drank the king's allowance ever since 
I were able to eat and drink at all. Now I'll tell 
you, young man, a-cause you've asked me, free. 
The king's sarvice is a good sarvice ; I ain't a-goin' to 
say as it isn't, but for two things : there's too much 
of one, and too little of the other. The fust is the 
work, and the second is the pay. If they'd halve 
the duty, and double the allowance, and send all 
the officers before the mast, I ain't goin' to dispute 
but the king's sarvice would be more to my fancy 
than I've ever found it yet. You see the difference 



THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 25 

atwixt one of our lads when lie gits ashore, and 
the Dutch ! I won't say as the Dutchman is the 
better seaman, far from it ; though as long as he's 
got a plank as'll catch a nail, an' a rag as'll hold a 
breeze, he'll weather it somehow ; nor I won't say- 
but what Mynheer is as ugly a customer as a 
king's ship can get alongside of, yard-arm to 
yard-arm, and let the best man win ! But you 
see him ashore ! Spree, young man ? Why, a 
Dutchman never has his spree out! You take 
and hail a man before the mast, able seaman or 
what not, when he's paid off of a cruise — and mind 
ye, he doesn't engage for a long spell, doesn't 
Mynheer — and he'll tow you into dry dock, and 
set you down to your grub, and blow you out with 
schnaps as if he was a admiral. Such a berth as 
he keeps ashore ! Pots and pans as bright as the 
Eddystone ; deck scoured and holy-stoned, till 
you'd like to eat your rations off of it. Why, 
Black Sam, him as was boatswain's mate on board 
of the ' Mary Rose,' setting with me in the tap of 
the Golden Lion, at Amsterdam, he gets uneasy, 
and he looks here and there an' everywhere, first 
at the white floor, then at the bright stove, turning 
his quid about and about, till at last he ups and 
spits right in the landlord's face. There was a 



26 CERISE. 

breeze then ! I'm not a-goin' to deny it, but Sam 
he asks pardon quite gentle and humble-like, for 
' what could I do ?' says he ; ' it was the only dirty 
place I could find in the house/ says he. Young 
chap, I'm not a-goin' to say as you should take 
and ship yourself on board a Dutchman, 'cause 
why — maybe if he struck his colours and you was 
found atween decks, you'd swing at the yard-arm ; 
but if you be thinking of the king's sarvice and 
you asks my advice, says I, think about it a little 
longer, says I. Young chap, I gives you my 
opinion, free. What say you, messmate ? Bear a 
hand and lower away, for I've been payin' of it 
out till my mouth's dry." 

Bottle-Jack, who did not give his mouth a 
chance of becoming dry, took a long pull at the 
beer before he answered ; but as his style was some- 
what involved, and obscured besides by the free use 
of professional metaphors, applied in a sense 
none but himself could thoroughly appreciate, I 
will not venture to detail in his own words the 
copious and illustrative exposition on which he 
embarked. 

It was obvious, however, that Bottle-Jack's 
inclinations were adverse to the regular service ; 
and although he would have scouted such a notion, 



THREE STRANDS OF A TARN*. 27 

and probably made himself extremely disagreeable 
to the man who broached it, there was no 
question the old sailor had been a pirate, and 
deserved hanging as richly as any ghastly skeleton 
now bleaching in its chains and waving to the 
gusts of a sou'-wester on the exposed sky-line of 
the Downs. By his own account he had sailed 
with the notorious Captain Kidd, in the ' Adven- 
ture ' galley, originally fitted out by merchants 
and traders of London as a scourge for those sea- 
robbers who infested the Indian Ocean, and whose 
enormities made honest men shudder at their bare 
recital. The ' Adventure,' manned by some of 
the most audacious spirits to be procured from the 
banks of the Thames and the Hudson, seemed, like 
her stont commander, especially qualified for such 
a purpose. She carried heavy guns, was well 
found in every respect, and possessed the reputa- 
tion of a fast sailer and capital sea-boat. Kidd 
himself was an experienced officer, and had served 
with distinction. He was intimately acquainted 
with the eastern seas, and seemed in all respects 
adapted for an expedition in which coolness, 
daring, and unswerving honesty of purpose were 
indispensable qualifications. 

Accordingly, Captain Kidd sailed for the Indian 



28 CERISE. 

coast, and Bottle- Jack, by his own account, was 
boatswain's mate on board the ' Adventure/ 

There is an old proverb recommending the 
selection of a "thief to catch a thief," which in 
this instance received a new and singular inter- 
pretation. Kidd was probably a thief, or at least 
a pirate, at heart. No sooner had he reached 
his destination off the coast of Malabar, than he 
threw off his sheep's clothing, and appeared at 
once the master-wolf in the predatory pack he 
was sent to destroy. Probably the temptation 
proved too much for him. With his seamanship, 
his weight of metal, and his crew, he could outsail, 
out-manceuvre, and out-fight, friends and foes 
alike. It soon occurred to him that the former 
were easy and lucrative prizes, the latter, bad to 
capture, and often not worth the trouble when 
subdued. It was quicker work to gain possession 
at first hand of silk and spices, cinnamon and 
sandal-wood, gold, silver, rum, coffee, and tobacco, 
than to wait till the plunder had been actually 
seized by another, and then, after fighting hard to 
retake it, obtain but a jackal's share from the Home 
Government. In a short space of time there was but 
one pirate dreaded from the Cape of Good Hope 
to the Straits of Malacca, and his name was Kidd. 



THREE STRANDS OF A YARN. 29 

From Surat down to the mouth of the Tap-tee. 
Captain Kidd ruled like a petty sovereign ; Bottle- 
Jack, if he was to be believed, like a grand 
vizier. Not only did they take tax and toll from 
every craft that swam, but they robbed, mur- 
dered, and lorded it as unmercifully on dry land. 
Native merchants, even men of rank and position, 
were put to torture, for purposes of extortion, by 
day; peasants burned alive in their huts to illu- 
minate a seaman's frolic by night. Her crew- 
behaved like devils broke loose ashore, and the 
1 Adventure,' notwithstanding a certain discipline 
exacted by her commander, was, doubtless, a hell 
afloat. Money, however, came in rapidly. Kidd, 
with all his crimes, possessed the elements of 
success in method, organization, and power ol 
command. His sailors forgot the horrors they 
had inflicted and their own degradation, when 
they counted the pile of doubloons that consti- 
tuted their share of plunder. Amongst the swarm 
of rovers who then swept the seas, Captain Kidd 
was considered the most successful, and even in a 
certain sense, notwithstanding his enormities, the 
most respectable of all. 

Bottle-Jack did not appear to think the relation 
of his adventures in any way derogatory to his own 



30 CERISE. 

credit. He concluded with the following peroration, 
establishing his position in the confident tone of a 
man who is himself convinced of its justice : — 

" Wot I says, is this here — The sea was made for 
them as sails upon it, and you ain't a goin' to tell 
me as it can be portioned out into gardens an' 
orchards, and tobacco plantations like the dirt 
we calls land. Werry well, if the sea be free, 
them as sails upon it can make free with w r ot it 
offers them. If in case now, as I'm look- out -man, 
we'll say, in the maintop, and I makes a galleon 
of her, for instance, deep in the water under easy 
sail, you're not to tell me as because she shows 
Spanish colours I'm not to take what I want out 
of her. Stow that, mates, for it's clean nonsense ! 
The way old Kidd acted was this here; — First, he 
got her weather-gage; then he brought her to 
with a gun, civil and reasonable ; arter that, whether 
she showed fight, or whether she showed friendly, 
he boarded her, and when he'd taken all he wanted, 
captain, crew, and passengers just walked the 
plank, easy and quiet, and no words about it." 

"And the craft?" asked Slap- Jack, breathless 
with interest in the old pirate's reminiscences. 

" Scuttled her !" answered the other conclusively. 
" Talking's dry work. Let's have some more beer." 





CHAPTEE III. 

THE PARLOUR-LODGER. 

HERE was a tolerably snug parlour 
under the roof of the Fox and Fiddle, 
notwithstanding that its dimensions 
were small, its floor uneven, and its 
ceiling so low that a solitary inmate could not 
but feel enlivened by the company of the land- 
lord's family, who inhabited the rooms overhead* 
This apartment, which was usually occupied by 
some skipper from beyond seas, put forward cer- 
tain claims to magnificence as well as comfort; 
and although the vaguest attempts at cleanliness 
seemed to have been suppressed, there was no 
little pretension apparent in the furniture, the 
chimney ornaments, and the " History of the 
Prodigal Son " on the walls. China shepherdesses 



32 CERISE. 

stood on the mantelpiece, surmounted by the 
backbone of a shark. Two gilt chairs, with frayed 
velvet cushions, supported an unframed repre- 
sentation of a three-decker, with every available 
sail set, and British colours flying at the main, 
stemming a grass-green sea, under a sky of in- 
tense blue. A contracted square of real Turkey 
carpet covered a few feet in the middle, and the 
rest of the floor, ornamented at regular intervals 
by spittoons, stood inch-deep in dust. The hearth 
could not have been swept for days, nor the 
smouldering fire raked out for hours ; but on a 
mahogany sideboard, that had obviously sustained 
at least one sea-voyage, stood a dozen different 
drinking-measures, surrounding a punch-bowl capa- 
cious enough to have baptized a full-grown pirate. 
The occupant of this chamber was sitting at 
the table engrossed by a task that seemed to tax 
all his energies and employ his whole attention. 
He was apparently no adept at accounts, and 
every time he added a column afresh, and found 
its result differed from his previous calculation, he 
swore a French oath in a whisper and began 
again. It was nearly dusk before the landlord came 
in with candles, when his guest looked up, as if 
much relieved at a temporary interruption of work. 



THE PARLOUR-LODGER. 33 

Butter-faced Bob was a plausible fellow enough, 
well fitted for the situation he filled, crimp, publi- 
can, free-trader, and, on occasion, receiver of stolen 
goods. From the seaman in the tap, to the 
skipper in the parlour, he prided himself on his 
facility in making conversation to his customers, 
saying the right thing to each ; or, as he expressed 
it, •* oiling the gear so as the crank should work 
easy." 

Setting down the candles, therefore, he pro- 
ceeded to lubrication without delay. 

" Sorry shall we be to lose ye, Captain ! and 
indeed it will drive me out of the public line at 
last, to see the way .as the best o' friends must 
part. My dame, she says to me, it was but this 
blessed day as I set down to my nooning, says- 
she, Bob, says she, whatever we shall do when the 
Captain's gone foreign, says she, I, for one, can't 
tell no more than the dead. You step round to 
the quay, says she, when you've a-taken a drink, 
and see if ' The Bashful Maid ' han't histed her blue- 
Peter at the fore, and the Captain he'll make a 
fair wind o this here sou'-wester, see if he won't, 
and may-be weigh at the ebb ; an' it '11 break my 
heart, let alone the chil'en's, to wish him a good 
voyage, it will. She's about ready for sea, Cap- 

VOL. II. D 



34 cerise. ; 

tain, now ; I see them gettin' the fresh water 
aboard myself." 

The Captain, as his host called him, smiled 
good-humouredly. 

" Your clame will have many a better lodger 
than I have been, Bob," said he, fixing his bold 
eyes on the landlord, which the latter, who never 
seemed comfortable under an honest man's 
gaze, avoided by peering into every corner of the 
room; "one that will stay longer with you, 
and entertain more friends than I have done. 
What of that ? The heaviest purse makes the 
best lodger, and the highest score the merriest 
landlord, at every hostelry in Europe. Well, I 
shall be ready for sea now, when I've got my 
complement ; but I'm not going to cruise in 
the" — here the speaker stopped short and cor- 
rected himself — "not going to cruise anyivhere, 
short-handed." 

Bob's eyes glistened, and he stole a look in the 
Captain's face. 

" How many would you be wanting ?" said he, 
cautiously, " and where would they have to serve ? 
First-class men is very bad to get here-away, just 
now." 

' f If I had a gunner, a boats wain's-mate, and a 



THE PARLOUR-LODGER. o'O 

good captain of the foretop, I'd weigh next tide, 
and chance it/' replied the other, cheerfully ; but 
Lis chin fell while his eye rested on the pile of 
accounts, and he wondered how he could ever 
comb them into shape for inspection. 

Bob thought of the seamen still drinking in his 
taproom, and the obviously low state of their 
finances. It would work, he decided, but it must 
be done under three influences, viz., beer, 
secrecy, and caution. 

" Captain," said he, shutting the door carefully, 
M I'd rather do you a turn than any lodger I've 
had yet. If I can help you to a hand or two, I'm 
the man as'll do it. You'll be willing to pay the 
expenses, I suppose?" 

The Captain did not appear totally inexpe- 
rienced in such matters, for, on asking the amount 
and receiving for answer a sum that would have 
purchased all the stock of liquors in the house 
and over again, he showed neither indigna- 
nor surprise, but observed quietly — 
'. ble seamen, of course ?" 
"Of course!" repeated Bob. "Honour, you 
know, Captain, honour !" If he had added "among 
he would none the less clearly have 
•he situation. Reflecting for a moment, 

D 2 



36 CERISE. 

he approached his guest and whispered in his ear, 
" For the account ?" 

"Ask me no questions/' answered the Cap- 
tain significantly. " You know as well as I 
do that your price covers everything. Is it a 
bargain ? 

"That would make a difference, you see, Cap- 
tain/' urged Bob, determined to get all he could. 
" It's not what it used to be, and the Government 
is uncommon hard upon a look-out-man now, if he 
makes a mistake in the colours of a prize* In 
King James' time, I've seen the gentlemen-rovers 
drinking at this very table with the mayor and 
the magistrates, ay, and sending up their compli- 
ments and what not, may-be, to the Lord-Lieu- 
tenant himself. Why, that very mug as you see 
there was given me by poor Captain Delaval ; quite 
the gentleman he was ! An' he made no secret 
where he took it from, nor how they cut the 
Portuguese chap's throat as was drinking from 
it in the after-cabin. And now, it's as likely as 
not the Whigs would hang a man in chains for 
such a thing. I tell you, Captain, the hands 
don't fancy it. They can't cruise a mile along- 
shore without running foul of a gibbet with a 
pi — I mean, with a skeleton on it, rattling and 



THE PARLOUR-LODGER. 37 

grinning as if ho was alive. It makes a difference, 
Captain — it makes a difference !" 

" Take it or leave it," replied the other, looking 
like a man who had made his highest bid, which 
no consideration would induce him to increase by 
a shilling. 

Bob evidently thought so. " A bargain be it," 
said he, with a villainous smile on his shining 
face ; and muttering something about his wish to 
oblige a customer and the high respect he enter- 
tained for his guest's character, in all its relations, 
public, private, and nautical, he shambled out of 
the room, leaving the latter to tackle once more 
with his accounts. 

.V shade of melancholy crossed the Captain's 
brow, deeper and darker than was to be attributed 
to the unwelcome nature of his employment or 
the sombre surroundings of his position. The 
light of two tallow-candles, by which he worked, 
was not indeed enlivening, bringing into indistinct 
relief the unsightly furniture and the gloomy pic- 
tures on the walls. The yard-dog, too, behind the 
house, had not entirely discontinued his lamenta- 
tions, and the dip and wash of a retiring tide 
upon the shingle no farther off than the end of the 
•street was like the voice from some unearthly 



38 CERISE. 

mourner in its solemn and continuous wail. It 
told of lonely nights far out on the wild dark sea ; 
of long shifting miles of surf thundering in pitiless 
succession on the ocean shore ; of mighty cliffs 
and slabs of dripping rock, flinging back their 
defiance to the gale in the spray of countless 
hungry, leaping waves, that toss and madden 
round their prey ere she breaks up and goes to 
pieces in the storm. More than all, it told of 
desolation, and doubt, and danger, and death, 
and the uncertainty beyond. 

But to him, sitting there between the candles, 
his head bent over his work, it seemed like the 
voice of a counsellor and a friend. Each wave that, 
fuller than ordinary, circled up with a fiercer lash, 
to ebb with a louder, angrier, and more protracted 
hiss, seemed to brighten the man's face, and he 
listened like a prisoner who knows the step that 
leads him out to life, and liberty, and love. At 
such times he would glance round the room, con- 
gratulating himself that his charts, his instruments, 
his telescope, were all safe on board, and, perhaps, 
would rise, take a turn or two, and open the 
window-shutter for a consoling look at a certain 
bright speck in the surrounding darkness, which 
might be either in earth, or sea, or air, and was 



THE PARLOUB-LODi 39 

indeed the anchor-light in the foretop of his ship. 
Then he would return, refreshed and comforted., 
to his accounts. 

He was beginning to hope he had really got the 
better of these, and had so far succeeded that two 
consecutive columns permitted themselves to be 
added up with an appearance of probability, when 
an unusually long-drawn howl from the house-dog, 
following the squeak of a fiddle, distracted him 
from his occupation, and provoked him to swear 
once more in a foreign tongue. 

It was difficult to make calculations, involving a 
thousand probabilities, with that miserable dog 
howling at regular intervals. It was impossible to 
speculate calmly on the value of his cargo, 
the quantity of his powder, and the chances of 
peace and war. While he sat there, he knew 
well enough that his letters of marque would bear 
him out in pouncing on any unfortunate merchant- 
man he could come across under Spanish 
colours, but there had been whispers of peace in 
London, and the weekly news-letter (substitute 
for our daily paper), read aloud that afternoon 
in the coffee-house round the corner, indorsed the 
probability of these rumours. By the time he 
reached his c - ground, the treaty might have 



40 CERISE. 

been signed which would change a privateer into a 
pirate, and the exploit that would earn a man his 
knighthood this week might swing him at his 
own yard-arm the next. In those times, however, 
considerable latitude, if not allowed, was at least 
claimed by these kindred professions, and the 
calculator in the parlour of the Fox and Fiddle 
seemed unlikely to be over-scrupulous in the 
means by which he hoped to attain his end. 

He had resolved on earning, or winning, or 
taking, such a sum of money as would render him 
independent of fortune for life. He had an 
object in this which he deemed worthy of any 
sacrifice he could offer. Therefore, he had fitted 
out and freighted his brigantine partly at his 
own expense, partly at that of certain confiding 
merchants in Leadenhall Street, so as to combine 
the certain gains of a peaceful trader with the 
more hazardous venture of a licensed sea-robber 
who takes by the strong hand. If the license 
should expire before his rapacity was satisfied, he 
would affect ignorance while he could, and when 
that was no longer practicable, throw off all dis- 
guise and hoist the black flag openly at the main. 

To this end he had armed his brigantine with 
the heaviest guns she could carry, had taken in 



THE PABLOUR-LODGEB. 41 

Store of provisions, water, spare tackle, gun- 
powder, pistols, cutlasses, and musquetoons ; had 
manned her with the best seamen and wildest 
spirits he could lay hands on. These items had 
run up a considerable bill. He was now preparing 
a detailed statement of the cost, for the informa- 
tion of his friends in Leadenhall Street. 

And all this time, had he only known it, for- 
tune was preparing for him, without effort on his 
part, the independence he would risk life and cha- 
racter to gain. That very sou'-wester wailing up the 
narrow street was rattling the windows of a castle 
on a hill hundreds of miles away, and disturbing 
the last moments of a dying man in his lordly 
bedchamber ; was driving before it, over a bleak, 
barren moor, pelting storms of rain to drench the 
cloaked and booted heir, riding post to reach that 
death-bed ; sowing in a weak constitution the seeds 
of an illness that would allow him but a brief en- 
joyment of his inheritance ; and the next in suc- 
cession, the far-off cousin, was making up his 
account? in the humble parlour of a seaport pot- 
house, because he was to sail for the Spanish main 
with the next tide. 

'• One, two, tree !" — thump — " one, two, tree !" 
— thump — " Balancez ! Chassez, Vn, deux, trois /' 



42 CERISE. 

Thump after thump, louder and heavier than be- 
fore. The rafters shook, the ceiling quivered. The 
Captain rose, irritated and indignant, to call fiercely 
for the landlord. 

Butter-faced Bob, anticipating a storm, wisely 
turned a deaf ear, ensconcing himself in the back 
kitchen, whence he refused to emerge. 

The Captain shouted again, and receiving no 
answer, walked into the passage. 

" Stow that noise !" he halloed from the foot of 
the half-dozen wooden steps that led to the upper 
floor. " Who is to get any business done with a 
row like that going on aloft, as if the devil was 
dead and the ship gone overboard ?" The Cap- 
tain's voice was powerful and his language plain, 
but the only reply he received was a squeak from 
the fiddle, a wail from the dog, and a " One, two, 
tree" — thump — louder than ever. 

His patience began to fail. 

" Zounds ! man," he broke out ; " will you leave 
off that cursed noise, or must I come up and make 
you?" 

Then the fiddle stopped, the dog was silent, and 
children's voices were heard laughing heartily. 

The last sound would have appeased the Captain 
had his wrath been ever so high, but a strange, 



THE PAKLOUR-LODGEE, 43 

puzzled expression overspread his features while 
he received the following answer in an accent that 
denoted the speaker was no Englishman. 

'• You are a rude, gross man. I sail contiuue 
my instructions to my respectable young friends in 
the dance wizout your permission. Monsieur, you 
are insolent. Tims /" 

The last word carried with it such an amount of 
anger, defiance, and contempt, as can only be con- 
veyed in that monosyllable by a Frenchman. The 
Captain's frown changed to a broad smile, but he 
affected wrath none the less, while he exclaimed in 
a coarse, sailor-like voice — 

'•' Insolent ! you dancing dog of a Mounseer ! 
Insolent ! I'll teach you manners afore I've done 
with you. If you don't drop it notv, this instant, 
I'll come aloft in a pig's whisper, and pull you 
down by the ears !" 

" Ears ! Les oreilles /" repeated the voice above 
stairs, in a tone of repressed passion, that seemed 
to afford his antagonist intense amusement. " Soyez 
tranquil, mes enfants. My children, do not derange 
yourselves. Sir, you have insulted me ; you have 
insulted my society. You shall answer me. Mon- 
le r entire raisonT 
ig, the dancing-master, for such was 



44 CERISE. 

"the foreign gentleman whose professional avoca- 
tions the parlour-lodger had interrupted, made his 
appearance at the head of the stairs, with a small 
fiddle under his arm and a sheathed rapier in his 
hand ; the passage below was quite dark, but the 
light from an open door behind him brought his 
figure into relief, whilst the skipper, on the con- 
trary, remained unseen in the gloom. Notwith- 
standing that the one was in a towering passion, 
the other shook with suppressed laughter. 

" Come on," he shouted roughly, though he 
«could scarce command his voice, adding in a more 
natural tone, and with a perfect French accent — 
" On pretend, dans les Mousquetaires du Roi, que 
.Monsieur est de la premiere force pour Vepee /" 

The effect was instantaneous. With one spring 
the dancing-master was upon him, kissing both his 
cheeks, hugging him in his arms, and repeating, 
with eyes full of tears — 

" Captain George ! Captain George ! My com- 
rade, my captain, my officer ; and I thought I was 
without a friend in this miserable country ; without 
.a friend and without a sou ! Now I have found 
ihe one, I don't care about the other. Oh, what 
happiness ! What fortune ! What luck !" 

The former Captain of Musketeers seemed 



THE PARLOUR-LODGER. 45 

equally pleased, if in a less demonstrative manner, 
at this unexpected meeting, though he had been 
better prepared for so strange a termination of 
their dispute by his recognition of the other's voice 
before he caught sight of his figure. Now he 
pulled him into the parlour, sent for Butter-faced 
Bob to fill the capacious punch-bowl, pressed him 
into a chair with both hands on his shoulders, and 
looked gravely into his face, saying — 

11 Eugene, I owe you my life, and I am a man 
who never left a debt unpaid." 




CHAPTER IV. 



A VOLUNTEER. 



16 



Im 



EAUDESIR, by the wretched light of 
two tallow-candles, looked paler, thinner, 
more dejected, than even that pale, thin, 
anxious recruit who had joined the 
Grey Musketeers with so formidable a character 
as a master of defence some months before. No " 
wonder. He was an enthusiast at heart, and an 
enthusiast can seldom withstand the pressure of 
continuous adversity. A temporary gleam of sun- 
shine, indeed, warms him up to the highest pitch 
of energy, daring, and intellectual resource ; nay, 
he will battle nobly against the fiercest storm so 
,.ong as the winds blow, the thunder peals overhead, 
and less exalted spirits fly cowering to the nearest 
shelter; but it is in a bitter, bleak, protracted 



A VOLUNTBEK. 47 

frost that he droops and fades away. Give him 
excitement, even the excitement of pain, and he 
becomes a hero. Put him to mere drudgery, 
though it be the honest drudgery of duty, and he 
almost ceases to be a man. 

There is, nevertheless, something essentially 
elastic in the French character, which even in such 
a disposition as Beaudesir's preserved him from 
giving way to utter despair. Though he might 
well be excused for repining, when thus compelled 
to gain his bread by teaching the landlord's chil- 
dren to dance at a low pot-house, yet this young 
man's natural temperament enabled him to take 
interest even in so unworthy an occupation, and he 
was jealous enough of their progress to resent that 
rude interruption he experienced from the parlour 
with a flash of the old spirit cherished in the King's 
Musketeers. 

Still he looked pale and wan, nor was it till 
George had forced on him a beaker of steaming 
punch that his eye recovered its brightness and 
the blood mantled once more in his clear sallow 
cheek. 

"And you escaped them?" said the Captain, 
reverting to the fatal night of their affray in the 
Montmirail gardens. " Escaped them without a 



48 CERISE. 

scratch ! Well, it was ten to one against you, and I 
cursed the Duke with all my heart as I galloped 
on towards the coast when I thought of your pre- 
dicament. Guard -room, court-martial, confession, 
and a firing party was the best I could wish you ; 
for on the reverse of the card I pictured a lettre de 
cachet, and imprisonment for life in Vincennes or 
the Bastile ! But how did you get away ? and 
above all, how did you elude 1 the search after- 
wards ?" 

Eugene wet his lips with the hot punch, which 
he seemed to relish less than, his more robust 
comrade, and looked distrustfully about him while 
he replied — 

"I had little difficulty in extricating myself 
from the gardens, my Captain, for when I 
had disposed of Bras-de-Fer, there was no real 
swordsman left. The Musketeers fight well, no 
doubt ; but they are yet far from true perfection 
in the art, and their practice is more like our 
fishermen's cudgel-play than scientific fencing. 
I wounded two of them slightly, made a spring 
at the wall, and was in the street at the moment 
you entered the Prince-Marshal's carriage. My 
difficulty then was, where to conceal myself. I do 
not know Paris thoroughly, to begin with, and 



A VOLUNTEER. 49 

I confess I shuddered at the idea of skulking for 
weeks in some squalid haunt of vice and misery. 
I think I had rather have been taken and shot 
down at once." 

" You would not have been safe even in dens 
like those," interrupted the other. " Our Debonnaire 
is not so refined in his orgies but that I believe every 
garret in the Faubourgs is frequented by himself 
and his roue's. Bah! when we drew pay from 
Louis le Grand at least we served a gentleman. 
The Jesuits would have been your best chance. 
Why did you not take refuge with them T } 

Eugene shuddered, and the pale face turned 
paler still, but he did not answer the question. 

u When we used to bunt the hare in Normandy," 
he resumed, " I have observed that, if hard pressed, 
she would return to her form, and often thus made 
her escape, whereas the wolf and the stag, flying 
straight away, were generally run down. Like the 
hare, then, I doubled back and lay hid in the very 
house where I habitually lodged. It was the first 
place they searched, but they never came near it 
again ; and the second day an old comrade found me 
out. took me to his own home, and furnished me 
with a disguise. 1 '' 

" An old comrade !" repeated the Captain. 

VOL. IE E 



50 CERISE. 

"Bravo ! All ! we had always plenty of esprit de 
corps in the Musketeers. It was Adolphe, I'll 
wager a crown, or the . young Count de Guiches, 
or Bellegarde !" 

" None of these, my Captain," explained Eugene. 
" It was no Musketeer ; Black, Bed, or Grey. 
When I said comrade, I meant an old college 
friend. It was an Abbe. I know not why I 
should keep it secret; Abbe Malletort." 

The Captain pondered. " Abbe Malletort !" 
said he. " That is more than strange. The Regent's 
confidant ; his chief adviser, men said ; his principal 
favourite ! He must have had some reason — some 
deep-laid scheme of double treachery. 1 know the 
man. A smooth-spoken churchman ; a pleasant 
fellow to drink with, and a good judge of drill. 
But if it was his interest to betray the poor 
thing, I wouldn't trust him with the life of a 
dog!" 

" You little know him," urged the other eagerly. 
" Generous, kind, and secret — had it not been for 
his advice and his exertions I should never have 
got away alive. He kept me a fortnight in his 
apartment, till the heat of the pursuit was over 
and Paris had ceased to talk of our affray, which 
everybody believed an organized conspiracy of 



A VOLUNTEER. 51 

the Huguenots — of the Jansenists — of the young 
King's party — of the British Government. What 
shall I say? — of the Great Mogul. I did not dare 
show myself, of course. I could only hear the news 
from my friend, and I saw him but seldom. I was 
forced to leave Paris at last without knowing how 
far the disturbance affected the ladies in whose 
grounds it took place. I tried hard to find out, 
but it was impossible." 

The Captain glanced sharply in his face, and 
took a strong gulp at the punch. Eugene con- 
tinued : — 

u I got through the barrier with an Italian 

company of jugglers, disguised as a Pantaleone. It 

was not too amusing to be obliged to perform antics 

for the amusement of the Guard ; fortunately they 

were of the Prince de Condi's regiment, which had 

just marched into Paris. But the mountebanks 

were good people, kindly, and perfectly trust- 

worth} 7 . They were polite enough to say "that I 

raight make an excellent livelihood if I would but 

take in earnest to the business. I left them at 

Rouen, and from that place reached the seaboard 

on foot. My object was to take refuge in England. 

Here alone I felt I should be safe for a time, and 

when the storm should blow over I hoped to 

E 2 
LIBRARY 
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS 



52 CERISE. 

return again. I little knew what a climate it is ! 
what a country ! what people ! They are some- 
what better when you are used to them, and I own 
I accustom myself more easily than I could have 
believed to their beef, their beer, their barbarous 
language, and their utter want of politeness. But 
they have been kind to me, these rough islanders. 
It was an English fishing-boat that landed me 
from Havre, and the fisherman made me stay a 
week in his house for nothing because he discovered 
accidentally that I had exhausted my purse to 
pay for my passage. Since then, my Captain, I 
have supported myself by teaching these awk- 
ward English to dance. It is a noble exercise 
after all, were they not so stiff, so ungraceful ! 
And yet my pupils make progress ! These chil- 
dren above stairs have already begun the minuet. 
Egotist that I am ! Tell me, my Captain, how 
you too come to find yourself in' this miserable 
town, without gardens, without barriers, without 
barracks, without Hotel de Yille, without a church, 
even without an opera !" 

The Captain smiled. "You have a good right 
to ask," said he, " since, but for you, I should not 
have been here at this moment. When I drew 
on the Regent that night, as I would have drawn 



A VOLUNTEER. 53 

on the young- King himself, had I seen him guilty 
of such an outrage, I was, as you know, surrounded 
and attacked l>y an escort of my own men. I tell 
you, Beaudcsir, I never expected to leave the 
gardens alive, and I do not believe there is 
another fencer in France who could have 
helped me out of so awkward a scrape. I was 
sorry to see our old Bras-de-Fer go down, I admit ; 
but what would you have? When it's give and 
take, thrust and parry, ten against two, one cannot 
stand on these little delicacies of feeling. As I 
vanished through the garden-gate I looked for 
you everywhere, but there was no time to lose, 
and I thought we could escape more easily 
separate than in company. I knew you were 
neither down nor taken, because there was no 
shout of triumph from the men to announce the 
fact. The Prince de Chateau-Guerrand, my old 
general, was standing at the door of his coach 
when I gained the street. How he came there I 
am at a loss to guess, for you may believe I asked 
no questions ; but that you and he should have 
dropped from the clouds at the Hotel ?.[ontmirail, 
in the moment of my need, is one of those happy 
strokes of accident by which battles are won, and 
which we call fortune of war. I thought him a 



54 CERISE. 

martinet when I was on his staff, with his ever- 
lasting parades, and reports, and correspondence, 
to say nothing of his interminable stories about 
Turenne, but I always knew his heart was in the 
right place. ' Jump in !' said he, catching me by 
the arm. * Drive those English horses to death, 
and take the coach where you will!' In five 
minutes we were out of Paris, and half a league off 
on our way to the coast. 

" I hope the English horses may have survived the 
journey ; but they brought me to my first relay as 
fast as ever I went in the saddle, and I knew that 
with half an hour's start of everything I was safe. 
Who was to question a Captain of King's Muske- 
teers riding post for England on the Regent's 
business? The relays were even so good that I 
had time to stop and breakfast comfortably, at 
leisure, and to feed my horse, half way through the 
longest stage. 

"I had little delay when I reached the Channel. 
The wind was easterly, and before my horse had 
done shaking himself on the quay, an honest fellow 
had put his two sons, a spare oar, and a keg of 
brandy, on board a shallop about as weatherly as 
an egg-shell, hoisted a sail the size of a pocket- 
handkerchief, and stood out manfully with a follow- 



A VOLUNTEER. 55 

ing wind ana an ebb tide. I know the Channel 
well, and I was as sure as he must have been that 
the wind would change when the tide turned, and 
we should bo boating about, perhaps in a stiffish 
breeze, all night. It was not for me to baulk him, 
however, and I only stipulated for a loaf or two of 
bread and a beaker of water in the bows. I tell 
you before they led my horse to the stable, we 
were a cable's length off shore. 

u A fair wind, Eugene, does not always make a 
short voyage. At sundown it fell to a dead calm. 
The lads and the old man, and I, who speak to 

l, took our turns, and pulled like galley-slaves 
at the oars. With the moon-rise, a light breeze 
came up from the south-west, and it freshened by 
degrees till at midnight it was blowing half a gale. 
The egor-shell behaved nobly, and swam like a 

•":, but it took all the old man's time to steer 
her, and the sons said as many 'Aves' before 
dawn as would have lasted a whole convent for a 
month. 

il At one time I feared we must put her head 

about, and run for it, on the chance of making 

Ambleteuse, or even Calais, but the old fellow who 

ted her had a conscience, and to give him his 

b-rate sailor. The wind moderated 



56 CERISE. 

at sunrise, drawing round by the south, and at 
noon we had made Beachy Head, when it fell a 
dead calm, with a ground swell that was no child's 
play when we laid out on our oars. By dint of 
hard pulling we ran her ashore on the English 
coast about sundown, and my friend put off again 
with his two sons, none the worse for the voyage, 
and all the better for some twenty gold pieces with 
which I paid my passage. He deserved it, for he- 
earned it fairly. She was but an egg-shell, as I 
said before, but she swam like a duck ; it's only fair 
to allow that." 

" And now, my Captain," asked Beaudesir, look- 
ing round the strangely-furnished apartment y. 
" you are living here ? you are settled ? you are a 
householder? Are you reconciled to spend your 
life in this dirty little town, ill-paved, ill-lighted, 
smelling of salt water and tar, where it always- 
rains, and they bring you nothing to drink but 
black beer and hot punch ?" 

Captain George laughed heartily. " Not such a. 
bad thing that hot punch," said he, "when you 
can get neither Chambertin, Burgundy, nor Bour- 
deaux. But I understand you nevertheless, 
comrade. It is not likely that a man who has 
served Louis le Grand in the Musketeers would be- 



A VOLUNTEER. 57 

content to vegetate here like a wisp of sea-weed 
left at high-water mark. It was lucky I met you 
to-night In twenty-four hours, at most, I hope to 
be off the Needles if the wind holds." 

Beaudesir looked interrogatively at the pile of 
accounts on the table. 

" You have turned trader, my Captain ?" said he. 
" You will make a fortune in two voyages. At 
College they pretended I had some skill in reading 
characters. Y^ou have luck written on your fore- 
head. I wish I was going with you, were it only 
as a clerk." 

Captain George pondered for a while before he' 
answered, nay, he filled and emptied his glass, 
took two or three turns in the narrow apartment, 
which admitted indeed but of what sailors call 
"a fisherman's walk — two steps and overboard," 
and finally, loulling back the shutter, pointed to the- 
light in the foretop of his brigantine. 

u You won't catch me afloat again," said he, " in 
a craft like a walnut-shell, with a scrap of paper 
for a sail. No, no. There she rides, my lad, the 
lady that would take me round the world, and 
never wet a stitch on my back from head to heel. 
Why, close-hauled, in a stiff breeze, there's not a 
King's cutter in the Channel can hold her own 



SS CERISE. 

with her; and off a wind, she'd have the whole 
fleet hull-down in six hours, making such good 
weather of it, too, all the while ! I wish you could 
see her by daylight, with her straight run, and her 
raking masts, and bran new spars, and a fresh lick 
of paint I gave her in dock before we came round. 
She looks as trim as a pincushion, and as saucy 
as a dancing-girl. She carries a few popguns too, 
in case of accidents ; and when she shows her teeth, 
she means to bite, you may take your oath ! I'll 
tell you what, Eugene, you must come on board to- 
morrow before I weigh. I should like to show you 
over 'The Bashful Maid' myself, and I hope to 
get my anchor up and shake out my fore-topsail 
with the afternoon tide." 

Landsman, Frenchman, though he was, Beau- 
desir's eyes kindled, and he caught his friend's 
enthusiasm like wild-fire. 

f; I would give my right arm to be going 
with you/' said he. "Excitement, adventure, 
storms, seamanship, and all the wonders of 
the tropics ! While for me, muddy beer, gloomy 
fogs, dirty streets, and clumsy English children, 
learning to dance ! Well ! every man to his 
trade. Here's a good voyoge to you, and my best 
wishes I" 



A VOLUNTEER. 59 

Again he wet his lips with the punch, now grown 
cold and sticky in his glass. Captain George was 
so preoccupied, he forgot to acknowledge the 
courtesy. 

• I !an you keep accounts?" he asked abruptly, 
pointing to the papers on the table. 

" Any schoolboy might keep such as these," 
answered Eugene, running his eye over one of the 
columns, and adding, as he examined it. " Never- 
theless, my Captain, here is an error that will 
falsify the whole sum." 

He pointed to a mistake in the numerals that 
had repeatedly escaped the other's observation, and 
from which much of his labour had arisen. In a 
few minutes, he had gone through, and corrected 
as many pages of calculation. The figures came 
right now, as if by magic. Captain George had 
found what he wanted. 

" Where did you learn all this?" he inquired in 
astonishment. 

" At Avranches, in Normandy," was the answer 

" Where they taught you to fence T 

"Precisely; and to shoot with musquetoon or 
pistol. I can pick the ace of diamonds off a card 
at fifteen paces with either weapon." 

He spoke modestly, as he always did of his 



60 CERISE. 

proficiency in such feats of skill. They came so 
easily to him. 

" Will you sail with me ?" asked George frankly. 
" You can help me with my papers, and earn your 

share of the plun 1 should say of the profits. 

No, my friend ! you shall not leap blindfold. 
Listen. I have letters of marque in my cabin, and 
I mean them to hold good whether peace be pro- 
claimed or not. It may be, we shall fight with a 
rope round our necks. The gains are heavy, but 
the risk is great." 

" I never count risk !" was the reply. 

" Then finish the punch !" said Captain George ;. 
and thus the bargain was ratified, which added yet 
one more to the role of characters Beaudesir waa 
destined to enact on the stage of life. 




CHAPTEE V. 



THREE PRESSED MEN. 




HILE the occupants of the parlour were 
sipping punch, those of the taproom 
had gone systematically through the dif- 
ferent stages of inebriety — the friendly, 
the argumentative, the captious, the communi- 
cative, the sentimental, the quarrelsome, the 
maudlin-affectionate, and the extremely drunk. 
By nightfall, neither Smoke-Jack, Bottle-Jack, 
nor Slap-Jack could handle a clay pipe without 
breaking it, nor fix their eyes steadily on the 
candle for five consecutive moments. Notwith- 
standing, however, the many conflicting opinions 
that had been broached during their sitting, there 
were certain points on which they agreed enthu- 
siastically — that they were the three finest fellows 



62 CERISE. 

under the sun, that there was no calling , like 
seamanship, no element like salt-water, and no 
craft in which any one of them had yet sailed so 
lively in a sea-way as this, which seemed now to 
roll and pitch and stagger beneath their besotted 
senses. With a confirmed impression, varied only 
by each man's own experience, that they were 
weathering a gale under considerable difficulties, 
in a low latitude, and that it was their watch on 
deck, though they kept it somewhat unaccountably 
below, all three had gone through the abortive 
ceremony they called " pricking for the softest 
plank," had pulled their rough sea-coats over their 
heads, a,nd lain down on the floor among the 
spittoons, to sleep out the dreamless sleep of in- 
toxication. 

Long before midnight, Butter-faced Bob, looking 
in, well-satisfied, beheld his customers of the after- 
noon now transformed into actual goods and 
chattels, bales of bone and sinew and courage, 
that he could sell, literally by weight, at an 
enormous price, and for ready money. While he 
turned the light of his candle from one sleeper to 
another, he was running over a mental sum com- 
prising all the elementary rules of arithmetic. He 
added the several prices of the recumbent articles 



THREE rilESSED MEN. (jo 

in guineas. He subtracted the few shiUinss'-worth 
of liquor they had consumed. He multiplied by 
five the hush-money he expected, over and above, 
from the purchaser, and finally, he divided the 
total, in anticipation, between himself, his wife, 
the tax-gatherer, and the most pressing of his 
creditors. 

When he had finished these calculations, he 
returned to the parlour, where Captain George sat 
brooding over the remains of his punch, the late 
enlisted recruit having retired to pack up his 
fiddle and the very small stock of clothes he 
possessed. 

Their bargain was soon concluded, although 
there was some little difficulty about delivering the 
goods. Notwithstanding, perhaps in consequence 
of the many cases of oppression that had stained 
the last half of the preceding century, a strong re- 
action had set in against anything in the shape of 
" kidnapping ;" and a press-gang, even for a king's 
ship, was not likely to meet with toleration in the 
streets of a seaport town. Moreover, suspicions 
had already been aroused as to the character of 
1 The Bashful Maid.' A stricter discipline seemed 
to be observed on board that wicked -looking craft 
than was customary even in the regular service, 



64 CERISE. 

and this unusual rigour was accounted for by the 
lawless conduct of her " liberty-men " when they 
did come ashore. Nobody knew better than her 
Captain that, under the present aspect of political 
affairs in London, it would be wise to avoid notice 
by the authorities. The only thing he dreaded on 
earth or sea was a vision, by which he was haunted 
daily, till he could get all his stores shipped. It 
represented a sloop-of-war detached from the 
neighbouring squadron in the Downs, coming round 
the Point, dropping her anchor in the harbour, 
and sending a lieutenant and boat's crew on board 
to overhaul his papers, and, may be, summarily 
prevent his beautiful craft from standing out to 
sea. 

Neither was Butter-faced Bob rash or indiscreet 
where his own interests were affected. Using a 
metaphor he had picked up from his customers, it 
was his boast that he could " keep a bright look- 
out, and steer small " with the best of them ; and 
he now impressed on CajDtain George, with great 
earnestness, the necessity of secrecy and caution 
in getting the three fresh hands down to the quay 
and tumbling them up the side of the brigantine. 

Had the Captain known their inclinations, he 
might have made his own bargain, and saved three- 



THREE PRESSED MEX. 65 

fourths of the expense, but his landlord took care 
that in such cases the principals should never 
come together, telling the officers they could make 
what terms they chose when the men found them- 
selves fairly trapped and powerless in blue water, 
while he kept the latter in a state of continuous 
inebriety, so long as they dwelt in his house, which 
rendered them utterly reckless of everything but 
liquor and tobacco. 

His shining face wore the well-satisfied expres- 
sion of a man who has performed a good action, 
while he motioned with his thumb to the adjoining 
taproom. 

" I've a cart ready in the back yard," said he, 
" and a few empty casks to tumble in along with 
our chaps. It will only look like the fresh water 
going aboard, so as you may weigh with the 
morning tide. Will they send a boat off if you 
show a light ?" 

Captain George nodded. The boatswain whom 
he had left in charge, and on whom he could rely, 
had directions for a certain code of signals, 
amongst which, the waving of a la ntern thrice 
from the end of the quay was to be answered by a 
boat ashore. 

" We'd best get them in at once, then," said 

VOL. II. $ 



66 CERISE. 

Bob, only anxious now to be rid of his guests. 
" I'll go and put the horse to, and perhaps you and 
me and the French gentleman, as he seems a 
friend of yours, can manage it between us." 

Accordingly, Bob betook himself to the back 
yard and the stable, while Beaudesir was sum- 
moned to assist the process of embarkation. In ten 
minutes all was prepared, and it was only necessary 
to lift the three drunken tars into the carriage pro- 
vided for them. 

With the two elder and heavier men there was 
no difficulty. They grunted, indeed, impatiently, 
though without opening their eyes, and seemed to 
sleep as soundly, while being dragged along a 
dusty passage and hoisted into a narrow cart 
amongst empty water-casks, as if they took their 
rest habitually under such disadvantages ; but 
Slap-Jack's younger constitution had not been so 
completely overcome, and it was necessary to soothe 
him by a fiction which has possessed in all times 
an indescribable charm for the seafaring imagi- 
nation. 

Bob whispered impressively in his ear that he 
had been sent for, thus in the dead of night, 
by the Admiral's daughter, who had conceived for 
him a fatal and consuming passion, having . seen 



THREE PRESSED MEN". 67 

him in his "long togs" in the street. Muttering 
inarticulately about "Alice," Slap-Jack at once 
abandoned himself to the illusion, and dropped off 
to sleep again, with delightful anticipations of 
the romantic fate in store for him. 

As the wheels rumbled over the rough streets, 
through the rainy gusts and the dark night, fol- 
lowed by Captain George and Beaudesir, the latter 
could not but compare the vehicle to a dead- 
cart, carrying away its burden through some 
city stricken with the plague. This pleasing fancy 
he communicated to his comrade, who made the 
following inconsequent reply — 

"I only hope the harbour-watch may be as 
drunk as they are. It's our best chance to get 
them on board without a row. There's her light, 
Eugene. If the sky would lift a little, you might 
make out her spars, the beauty ! but I'm almost 
afraid now youll have to wait for dawn." 

The harbour-watch was drunk, or at least fast 
asleep in the sentry-box on wheels that afforded 
him shelter, and the sky did not lift in the least 
degree ; so very soon after the waving of the lan- 
tern a boat from ' The Bashful Maid ' touched the 
stone steps of the quay, having been cunningly 
impelled thither by a screw-driving process, worked 

F 2 



68 CERISE. 

with one oar at the stern, and which made far less 
noise than the more powerful practice of pulling 
her with even strokes. 

Two swarthy, ill-looking fellows sat in the boat, 
and a scowl passed over their features when they 
saw their Captain's attitude of precaution with one 
hand on the pistol he wore at his belt. Perhaps 
they were disappointed not to be able to elude 
his vigilance and have one more run on shore 
before they sailed. It was no use trying to "gammon 
the skipper," though. They had discovered that 
already, and they lent their aid with a will, when 
they found it must be so, to place their future com- 
rades in the same predicament as themselves. 

The whole affair was managed so quietly that, 
even had the harbour-guard, a brandy-faced veteran 
of sixty, remained wide-awake and perfectly sober, 
he might have been excused for its escaping his 
vigilance. Bob himself, standing with his empty 
cart on the quay, could hardly hear the dip of the 
oars as his late guests were pulled cautiously away. 
He did not indeed remain there very long to listen. 
He had done with them one and all — for was not 
the score paid ? and it behoved him to return home 
and prepare for fresh arrivals. He turned there- 
fore with a well-satisfied glance towards the light 



THREE PRESSED MEN. 69 

in the foretop of the brigantine, and wished ' The 
Bashful Maid ' a good voyage, while at the same 
moment Beaudesir stumbled awkwardly up her 
side. To the latter this was, indeed, a new and 
startling phase of life, but it was full of excitement, 
and consequently very much to his taste. Captain 
George, taking him below, and pointing out a 
couch in his cabin on which to pass the rest of the 
night, thought he had seen a good deal of worse 
material for a privateer's-man, or even a pirate, 
than this pale gentle young adventurer, late of the 
Grey Musketeers. 

Covered by a boat-cloak, and accommodated with 
two or three cushions, Eugene's bed was quite as 
comfortable as that which he occupied at the Fox 
and Fiddle. It was long past sunrise when he awoke, 
and realizing his position he ran on deck with a 
landsman's usual conviction that he was already 
miles out at sea. It was startling, and a little dis- 
appointing, to observe the quay, the straggling 
buildings of the town, the light-house, and other 
well-known objects within musket-shot, and to find 
that the brigantine, in spite of her lively motions, 
still rode at anchor, not half a cable's length from a 
huge, smooth, red buoy, which was dancing and 
dipping in the morning sun as if it was alive. 



70 CERISE. 

There was a fresh breeze off shore and a curl on 
the green sparkling water that, far away down 
Channel, beyond the point, swelled into a thousand 
varying lines of white, while a schooner in the 
offing might be observed standing out to sea with 
a double reef in her topsails. One of the crew 
sluicing the deck with a bucket of water, that eddied 
round Eugene's feet, pointed her out to his mate 
with an oath, and the mate, a tall strong negro, 
grinning hideously, replied " Iss ! very well !" 

' The Bashful Maid ' herself, rising buoyantly to 
each succeeding wave, ere with a dip and toss of 
her bows she sent the heavy spray-drops splashing 
over her like a sea-bird, seemed chafing with eager- 
ness to be off. There was but little of the bustle 
and confusion on board usually produced by clear- 
ing out of port. The deck, though wet and slippery, 
was as clean as a dinner-plate, the yards were 
squared, the ropes coiled, new sails had been bent, 
and the last cask of fresh water was swinging over 
the hold : trim and taut, every spar and every sheet 
seemed to express " Outward bound," not to men- 
tion a blue-Peter flying at the fore. 

All this Eugene observing, began to suffer from 
an uncomfortable sensation in the pit of his sto- 
mach, which parched his mouth, depressed his 



THREE PRESSED MEN. 71 

spirits, and destroyed his appetite. He was not, 
however, so much affected by it but that he could 
take note of his fellow-voyagers, an occupation 
sufficiently interesting when he reflected on the 
probable result of their preparations. In his 
experience of life he had never yet seen such an 
assemblage. The crew had indeed been got 
together with considerable care, but with utter dis- 
regard to nationality or uniformity of any kind. 
The majority were Englishmen, but there were 
also Swedes, Dutch, French, Portuguese, a negro, 
and even a Spaniard on board. The brigantine was 
strongly manned for her size, and the hands, with 
scarcely an exception, were stout daring fellows, 
capable of any exploit and a good many enormities, 
but such as a bold commander, cool, judicious, and 
determined, might bring into a very efficient state 
of discipline. Eugene could not but remark, how- 
ever, that on the face of each was expressed im- 
patience of delay and an ardent desire to be in blue 
water. The liberty to go on shore had been stopped, 
and indeed the pockets of these gentlemen-adven- 
turers, as the humblest of them called themselves, 
were completely cleaned out. Obviously, there- 
fore, it would be well to lose no time in refilling 
them. 



72 CERISE. 

Leaning over the side, lazily watching the lap 
and wash of the leaping water, Eugene was rapidly 
losing himself in his own thoughts, when, rousing 
up, he felt the Captain's hand on his shoulder and 
heard the Captain's voice whisper in his ear : — 

" Come below with me ; I shall want your 
assistance by-and-by, and you have had no break- 
fast yet." 

His qualms took flight at the prospect of fresh 
excitement, though the offer of breakfast was 
received with little enthusiasm, and he followed 
the Captain into his comfortable and well-furnished 
cabin. Here he learned that, while he was sleeping, 
George had hailed a fishing-boat returning warily 
into harbour, and, under pretence of buying fresh 
fish, boarded her with a bottle or two of spirits and 
a roll of tobacco. In ten minutes he extracted all 
the fisherman had to tell, and discovered that a 
large King's ship was cruising in the offing, watch- 
ing, as his informant opined, the very port in which 
they lay. Under these circumstances, Captain 
George considered it would be prudent to wait till 
midnight, when they might run out of the harbour, 
with wind and tide in their favour, and so showing 
the man-of-war a clean pair of heels, be hull-down 
and out of sight before sunrise. 



THREE PRESSED MEN. 73 

" There's nothing that swims can touch her in 
squally weather like this," continued the Captain, 
" if she can get an hour's start; and I wouldn't mind 
running under his very bolt-sprit, in the dark, if this 
wind holds. My chief difficulty is about the men. 
There will be black looks, and something very like 
mutiny, if I keep them twelve more hours in sight 
of the beer-shops without liberty for shore. Those 
drunken rascals too, that we hove aboard last 
night, will have come to themselves by that time, 
and we shall perhaps have some trouble iu persuad- 
ing them they are here of their own free will. You 
must help me, Eugene, all day. Between us we 
must watch the crew, like a cat watches a mouse. 
Once we're in blue water, you'll have nothing 
to do but sit in my cabin and amuse your- 
self." 

The skipper understood the nature of those with 
whom he had to deal. When the men saw no 
disposition to get the anchor up, when noon 
passed and they went to dinner as usual with the 
brigantine's head pointing steadily to windward, 
when another tide ebbed and flowed, but failed 
to waft them away from the temptations of port., 
they began to growl freely, without however pro- 
ceeding to any overt acts of insubordination, and 



74 CERISE. 

towards evening they became pacified with the 
anticipation of weighing anchor before the follow- 
ing day. The hours passed wearily to all on board, 
excepting perhaps the three Jacks, who, waking 
simultaneously at sunrise, turned round, perfectly 
satisfied, to go to sleep again, and so recovered 
complete possession of their faculties towards the 
dusk of the evening. 

They had been stowed away on some spare 
bunting outside the door of the Captain's cabin. 
Their conversation, therefore, though carried on in 
a low tone, was distinctly audible both to him and 
Beaudesir, as they sat waiting for midnight and 
the turn of the tide. 

After a few expressions of astonishment, and 
vague inquiries how they got there, each sailor 
seemed to realize his position pretty clearly and 
without much dissatisfaction. Bottle-Jack shrewdly 
suspected he was once more at the old trade. 
Smoke-Jack was comforted by the prospect of re- 
filling his empty pockets, and Slap-Jack, whilst 
vowing eternal fidelity to Alice, seemed impressed 
with the flattering notion that somehow his own 
attractions and the good taste of the Admiral's 
daughter were at the bottom of it all. 

The craft, they agreed, was a likely one, the 



THREE PRESSED MEN. O 

fittings ship -shape Bristol-fashion, the cruise pro- 
mised to be prosperous ; but such an unheard-of 
solecism as to weigh without one more drinking- 
bout in honour of the expedition was not to be 
thought of ; therefore Bottle-Jack opined it was 
indispensable they should immediately go ashore. 

The others agreed without scruple. One diffi- 
culty alone presented itself: the quay stood a 
good quarter of a mile off, and even in harbour it 
was rather a stormy night for a swim. As Slap- Jack 
observed, " it couldn't be done comfortable with- 
out a plank of some kind ; but most like, if they 
waited till dark, they might make free with the 
skipper's dingy hanging over the starn !" 

"Tis but totting up another figure or two on 
the score with old Shiney-face," argued Smoke- 
Jack, who, considering his profession, was of a 
frugal turn of mind, and who little knew how 
completely the purchase-money of his own body 
and bones had wiped off the chalk behind the 
door. " Such a voyage as we're a-goin' to make 
will square longer accounts than ours, though I am 
uncommon dr} T , considerin'. Just one more spree 
on the quiet, you know, my sons, and back to 
duty again as steady as a sou' -wester. There's 
no fear they'll weigh without us, a-course ?" 



76 CERISE. 

"A-course not," grunted old Bottle-Jack, who 
could scarce have been half-sober yet, to hazard 
such a suggestion. " The skipper is quite the gen- 
tleman, no doubt, and most like when he misses 
us he'll send the ship's pinnace ashore with his 
compliments." 

" Pinnace be blowed !" retorted Slap-Jack ; " any- 
way you may be sure he won't sail without the 
dingy;" and in this more reasonable conclusion 
the others could not but acquiesce. 

With a smile on his face, the Captain listened 
to the further development of their plan. One 
by one they would creep aft without their shoes, 
unobserved by the anchor-watch, now sure to be 
on the forecastle (none of the Jacks had a clear 
idea of the craft in which they were plotting) ; 
if any one could put his hand on a bit of grease 
it would be useful to make the tackle work noise- 
lessly. When they reached the stern, Slap-Jack 
should seat himself in the dingy, as being the 
lightest weight ; the others would lower away, and 
as soon as she touched water, shin down after 
him and shove off. There was no time to lose, 
best set about it at once. 

Captain George whispered in his companion's 
ear, " Take my hat and cloak, and go forward to 



THREE PRESSED MEN. 77 

the hold with a lantern in your hand. Make 
plenty of noise as you pass those lubbers, but 
do not let them see your face/' 

Eugene obeyed, and Captain George, blowing 
out the lights, set himself to watch at the stern 
windows. 





CHAPTEE YI. 

" YO-HEAVE-YO !" 

T was pitch dark in the cabin, but 
although under a cloudy sky there 
was light enough to discern objects on 
deck or alongside. As Smoke-Jack 
observed, stealing aft with bare feet, and in a 
louder whisper than was prudent, " A good pair 
of eyes might see as far as a man could heave a 
bull by the tail." George had determined to give 
the crew a lesson, once for all, in the matter of 
discipline, and felt well pleased to make example 
of the new comers, who must be supposed as yet 
ignorant of his system. 

So he sat in the dark, pistol in hand, at the 
stern window, which was open, and watched like 
the hunter for his prey. 

He heard the three Jacks creeping along the 



" YO-HEAVE-YO !" 79 

deck overhead, be heard low whispers and a 
smothered laugh, followed by a few brief expos- 
tulations as to priority of disembarkation, the lan- 
guage far less polite than the intention; lastly, 
he heard the tackle by which his boat was made 
fast running gently over its blocks. 

Then he cocked his pistol without noise, and 
laughed to himself. 

Gradually the cabin window was obscured. A 
dark object passed smoothly down, and revealed in 
its progress a human figure indistinctly visible above 
its black horizontal mass, which was indeed the 
slow-descending boat, containing no less a per- 
sonage than the adventurous Slap- Jack ; also 
two lines of tackle were dimly visible supporting 
that boat's head. A turn of the body, as he covered 
them steadily with his pistol, enabled the Captain 
to bring these two lines into one. 

Hand and eye were equally true. He was sure 
of his mark before he pulled the trigger. With 
a flash that lighted up the cabin, and an explosion 
that filled it with smoke, the bullet cut clean 
through the "falls" or ropes supporting the boat's 
head, bringing her perpendicularly on end, and 
shooting every article she contained — planks, bot- 
tom-boards, stretchers, oars, boat-hook, an empty 



80 CERISE. 

hencoop, and the astonished occupant — plump 
into seven fathom of water. 

Nor was the consternation created by this alarm- 
ing capsize confined to the unfortunate Slap-Jack. 
His comrades, lowering away industriously from the 
taffrail, started back in the utmost bewilderment, 
the anchor-watch rushed aft, persuaded a mutiny 
had broken out, and in grievous indecision 
whether to take the skipper's part or assist in cut- 
ting his throat. The crew tumbled up the hatch- 
way, and blundered about the deck, asking each 
other absurd questions, and offering wild sugges- 
tions, if anything were really amiss, as to break- 
ing open the spirit-room. Nay, the harbour- 
guard himself awoke from his nap, emerged from 
his sentry-box, took a turn on the quay, hailing 
loudly, and receiving no answer, was satisfied he 
had been dreaming, so swore and turned in again. 

Captain George reloaded his pistol, and sang 
out lustily, " Man overboard ! Show a light on 
deck there, and heave a rope over the side. 
Bear a hand to haul him. in, the lubber ! I 
don't much think he'll want to try that game in 
a hurry again !" 

Meanwhile, hapless Slap-Jack was incapacitated 
for the present from that, or indeed any other 



" YO-HEAVE-YO !" 81 

game involving physical effort. A plank, falling 
with him out of the boat, had struck him on the 
head and stunned him ; seventy fathom of water 
would have floated him no better than seven, and 
with the first plunge he went down like a stone. 
Captain George had intended to give him a fright 
and a ducking ; but now, while he stretched his 
body out of the cabin window, peering over the 
gloomy water and listening eagerly for the snort 
and gasp of a swimmer who never came up, he 
wished with all his heart that his hand had been 
less steady on the pistol. 

Fortunately however, Beaude'sir, after he had 
fulfilled the Captain's orders by personating him at 
the hold, remained studiously on watch. It was a 
peculiarity of this man that his faculties seemed 
always on the stretch, as is often to be observed 
with those over whom some constant dread 
impends, or who suffer from the tortures of remorse. 
At the moment he heard the shot, he sprang to 
the side, threw off hat and cloak, as if anticipating 
danger, and kept his eyes eagerly fixed on the 
water, ready, if need be, for a pounce. The tide 
was still flowing, the brigantine's head lay to sea- 
ward, where all was dark, and fortunately the little 
light on the ruffled surface was towards the shore. 

VOL. IT. G 



82 CERISE. 

Slap-Jack's inanimate form was carried inwards by 
the flood, and crossed the moorings of that huge 
red buoy which Eugene remembered gazing on 
listlessly in the morning. Either the contact with 
its rope woke an instinctive consciousness in the 
drowning man, or some swirl of the water below 
brought his body to the surface, but for a few 
seconds Slap- Jack's form became dimly visible, 
heaving like a wisp of sea-weed on a wave. In 
those few seconds Eugene dashed overboard, 
cleaving the water to reach him with the long 
springing strokes of a powerful swimmer. 

A drowning man is not to be saved, but at the 
imminent risk of his life who goes in for the rescue, 
and this gallant feat indeed can only be accom- 
plished by a thorough proficient in the art ; so on 
the present occasion it was well that Beaudesir felt 
as much at home in the water as on dry land. 

How the crew cheered the Frenchman while 
he was hauled on board with his dripping burden ; 
how the two Jacks who had remained in the 
brigantine, and were now thoroughly sobered, 
vowed eternal gratitude to the landsman who 
had dived for their messmate; how the har- 
bour-guard was once more disturbed by the 
cheering, and cheered lustily in reply; how 



" YO-HEAYE-YO !" 83 

Captain George clapped his comrade on the 
shoulder while he took him below to change his 
wet garments, and vowed he was fit to be King of 
France, adding, with a meaning smile, " If ever I 
go to school again, I'll ask them to give me a berth 
at Avranches in Normandy !" — all this it is un- 
necessary to relate ; but if the Captain gained the 
respect of the crew by the promptitude with which 
he resented an attempt at insubordination, the 
gallant self-devotion of his friend, clerk, super- 
cargo, cabin-passenger, or whatever he was, won 
their affection and good-will for the rest of the 
voyage. 

This was especially apparent about sunrise, when 
Captain George beat to quarters and paraded his 
whole crew on deck, preparatory to weighing 
anchor and standing out down Channel with a 
fair wind and a following tide. He calculated that 
the King's ship, even if on watch, must be still 
some distance from land, and he had such implicit 
confidence in the sailing qualities of his brigantine 
that if he could only get a fair start he feared a 
chase from no craft that swam. 

Owing to his early education and the experiences 
of his boyhood, notwithstanding his late career in 
the service of King Louis, he was a seaman at 

G 2 



84 CERISE. 

heart. In nothing more so than a tendency to 
idealize the craft he commanded as if it were a 
living creature, endowed with feelings and even 
reason. For him, ' The Bashful Maid,' with her 
exquisite trim, her raking masts, her graceful spars, 
her long fluttering pennon, and her elaborately- 
carved figure-head, representing a brazen-faced 
beauty baring her breast boastfully to the breeze, 
was less a triumph of design and carpentering, of 
beams, and blocks, and yarn, and varnish, and tar, 
than a metaphorical mistress, to be cajoled, com- 
manded, humoured, trusted, above all, admired. 
He spoke of her as possessing affections, caprices, 
impulses and self-will. When she answered her 
helm steadily, and made good weather of it, in a 
stiff breeze and a heavy sea, she was "behaving 
admirably" — "she liked the job" — "a man had 
only to trust her, and give her a new coat of paint 
now and then, she'd never fail him — not she !" 
While, on the other hand, she might dive, and 
plunge, and dip her boltsprit in the brine, shipping 
seas that swept her decks fore and aft, and she was 
" only a trifle saucy, the beauty ! Carried a 
weather-helm like the rest of her sex, and must be 
humoured a bit, till she came round !" 

As was the skipper, so were the crew. All these 



" YO-HEAVE-YO !" 85 

different natures, men of various nations, disposi- 
tions, and characters, were equally childlike in their 
infatuation about ' The Bashful Maid.' The densest 
of them had imagination enough to invest her with 
a thousand romantic qualities ; even the negro 
would have furiously resented a word in her dispa- 
ragement — nay, the three newly-shipped Jacks 
themselves, men of weighty authority in such 
matters, caught the infection, and were ready to 
swear by the brigantine, while it was yet so dark 
they could scarcely see whether she was a three- 
masted merchantman or a King's cutter. 

But when the breeze freshened towards sunrise, 
and the tide was once more on the turn, the regard 
thus freely accorded to their ship was largely shared 
by their new shipmate. Beaudesir, passing for- 
ward in the grey light of morning, truth to tell 
moved only by the restlessness of a man not yet 
accustomed to perpetual motion accompanied by 
the odours of bilge-water and tar, was greeted with 
admiring glances and kind words from all alike. 
Dutchman, Swede, Spaniard, vied with each other 
in expressions of good-will. Slap- Jack was still 
below, swaddled in blankets, but his two comrades 
had tumbled up with the first streaks of dawn, and 
were loud in their praises; Bottle-Jack vowing 



86 CERISE. 

Captain Kidd would have made him first-lieutenant 
on the spot for such a feat, and Smoke-Jack, with 
more sincerity than politeness, declaring "he 
couldn't have believed it of a Frenchman !" Nay, 
the very negro, showing all his teeth as if he longed 
to eat him, embarked on an elaborate oration in 
his honour, couched partly in his native language 
as spoken on the Gold Coast, partly in a dialect he 
believed to be English, obscured by metaphor, 
though sublime doubtless in conception, and 
prematurely cut short by the shrill whistle of the 
boatswain, warning all hands without delay to 
their quarters. 

It was an enlivening sight, possessing considerable 
attractions for such a temperament as Beaudesir's. 
The clear gap of morning low down on the horizon 
was widening and spreading every moment over 
the sky; the breeze, cold and bracing, not yet 
tempered by the coming sun, freshened sensibly off 
shore, driving out to sea a grand procession of dark 
rolling clouds, moving steadily and continuously 
westward before the day. The lighthouse 
off the harbour showed like a column of chalk 
against the dull back-ground of this embank- 
ment, vanishing so imperceptibly into light; 
while to landward, far beyond the low level line of 



" YO-HEAVE-YO !" 87 

coast, a faint quiver of purple already mingled 
with the dim grey outline of the smooth and 
swelling downs. 

In harbour, human life had not yet woke up, 
but the white sea-birds were soaring and dipping, 
and wheeling joyously on the wing. The breeze 
whistled through the tackle, the waves leaped and 
lashed merrily against her sides, and the crew of 
the brigantine took their places, clean, well-dressed, 
brown-faced and bare-footed, on her deck. While 
the boatswain, who from sheer habit cast an eye 
continually aloft, observed her truck catch the 
first gleams of the morning sun, Captain George, 
carefully attired, issued from his cabin with a 
telescope under his arm, and made his first and 
last oration to the crew. 

"My lads!" said he, "I've beat to quarters, 
this fine morning, before I get my anchor up, 
because I want to say a few words to you, and 
the sooner we understand each other the better ! 
You've heard I'm a soldier. So I am! That's 
right enough ; but, mark you ! I dipped my hand 
in the tar-bucket before I was old enough to carry 
a sword ; so don't you ever think to come over me 
with skulking, for I've seen that game played out 
before. Hind you, I don't believe I've got a 



S8 CERISE. 

skulker on board ; if I have, let him step forward 
and show himself. Over the side he goes, and I 
sail without him ! Now, my lads, I know my 
duty and I know yours. I'll take care both are 
done. I'll have no grumbling, and no quarrelling. 
If any man has a complaint to make, let him come 
to me, and out with it. A quarrelsome chap with 
his messmates is generally a shy cock when you 
put him down to fight. I'll have man-of-war's 
discipline aboard. You all know what that is, and 
those that don't like it must lump it. Last night 
there were three of you tried to take French leave 
and to steal my boat ; I stopped that game with 
a little friend I keep in my belt. Look ye, my 
sons, next bout I'll cover the man instead of the 
tackles ! I know who they are, well enough, 
but I mean to forget as soon as ever the anchor's 
up. I'll have a clean bill of health to take out 
into blue water. Now, my lads, attend to me! 
We've a long cruise before us, but we've a craft 
well-provisioned, well-found, and, I heartily believe, 
well-manned. Whatever prizes we take, whatever 
profit we make on the cargo, from skipper to ship's- 
boy, every one shall have his share according to 
the articles hung up in my cabin. We may have 
to fight and we may not ; it's the last job you're 



" YO-HEAVE-YO !" 89 

likely'to shirk ; but mind this — one skipper's enough 
for one ship. I'll have no lawyer sail with me, 
and no opinions ' whether or no ' before the mast. 
If you think of disobeying orders, just remember 
it's a short walk from my berth to the powder- 
room, and the clink of a flint will square all 
accounts between captain and crew. If I'm not 
to be skipper, nobody else shall, and what I say 
I mean. Lastly, no man is to get drunk except 
in port. And now, my lads ! Here's a fair wind 
and a following tide ! Before we get the fiddle up 
for a * Stamp and go, cheerily ho !' we'll give 
three cheers for ' The Bashful Maid,' and. then 
shake out every rag of canvas and make a good 
run while the breeze holds !" 

The men cheered with a will. The Captain's 
notions of sea-oratory were founded on a know- 
ledge of his audience, and answered his purpose 
better than the most finished style of rhetoric. 
As the shouting died out, a strong voice was heard, 
demanding " one cheer more for the skipper." It 
was given enthusiastically — Slap-Jack, who had 
sneaked on deck with his head bandaged, having 
taken this sailor-like method of showing he bore 
no malice for a ducking, and was indeed only 
desirous that his late prank should be overlooked. 



90 CERISE. 

Nevertheless, in the hurry and confusion of getting 
the anchor up, he contrived to place himself at 
Beaudesir's side and to grasp him cordially by the 
hand. 

" You be a good chap," said this honest seaman, 
with a touch of feeling that he hid under an affec- 
tation of exceeding roughness ; " as good a chap 
as ever broke a biscuit! Look ye, mate; my 
name's Slap-Jack ; so long as I can show my 
number, when anything's up, you sings out ' Slap- 
jack !' and if I don't answer Slap-Jack it is ! 
why " 

The imprecation with which this peculiar ac- 
knowledgment concluded did not render it one 
whit more intelligible to Beaudesirj who gathered 
enough, however, from the speaker's vehemence 
to feel that he had made at least one stanch 
friend among the crew. By the time he had 
realized this consoling fact, the brigantine's head, 
released from the restraint of her cable, swung 
round to leeward, her strong new sails filled steadily 
with the breeze, and while the ripple gurgled 
louder and louder round her bows, already tossing 
and plunging through the increasing swell, the 
quay, the lighthouse, the long low spit of land, 
the town, the downs themselves seemed to glide 



M YO-HEAVE-YO !" 91 

quietly away; and Beaudesir, despite the beauty 
of the scene and the excitement of his position, 
became uncomfortably conscious of a strange 
desire to retire into a corner, lay himself down 
at full length, and die, if need be, unobserved. 

A waft of savoury odours from the cook's galley, 
where the men's breakfasts were prepared, did 
nothing towards allaying this untimely despond- 
ency, and after a short struggle he yielded, as 
people always do yield in such cases, and stagger- 
ing into the cabin, pillowed his head on a couch, 
and gave himself over to despair. 

Ere he raised it again * The Bashful Maid/ 
making an excellent rundown Channel in a south- 
westerly course, was already a dozen leagues out 
at sea. 





CHAPTER VII. 

'THE BASHFUL MAID.' 

F Captain George kept a log, as is pro- 
bable, or Eugene Beaudesir a diary, as 
is possible, I have no intention of copying 
it. In the history of individuals, as of 
nations, the exception is Stir, the rule Stagnation. 
There are long links in the Silver Cord, smooth, 
polished, uniform, one exactly like the other, ere 
its sameness is varied by the carving of a boss dr 
the flash of a gem. It is only here and there 
that lifelike figures and spirit-stirring scenes start 
from the dead surface of the Golden Bowl. Per- 
haps, when both are broken, neither brilliancy nor 
workmanship, but sterling worth of metal, shall 
constitute the true value of each. 

' The Bashful Maid ' found her share of favouring 



'THE BASHFUL MAID.' 93 

winds and baffling breezes; trim and weatherly, 
she made the best of them all. Her crew, as 
they gained confidence in their skipper and became 
well acquainted amongst themselves, worked her 
to perfection. In squally weather, she had the 
great advantage of being over-manned, and could 
therefore carry the broadest surface of canvas it 
was possible to show. After a few stormy nights 
all shook into their places, and every man found 
himself told off to the duty he was best able to 
perform. The late Captain of Musketeers had the 
knack of selecting men, and of making them obey 
him. His last joined hands were perhaps the best 
of his whole ship's company. Bottle-Jack became 
boatswain's mate, Smoke-Jack, gunner, and Slap- 
Jack, captain of the foretop. These three 
were still fast friends and sworn adherents of 
Beaudesir. The latter, though he had no osten- 
sible rank or office, seemed, next to the skipper 
himself, the most influential and the most useful 
person on board. He soon picked up enough 
knowledge of navigation to bring his mathematical 
acquirements into play. He kept the accounts of 
stores and cargo. He possessed a slight knowledge 
of medicine and surgery. He played the violin 
with a taste and feeling that enchanted the 



94 CERISE. 

Spaniard, his only rival in this accomplishment, 
and caused many a stout heart to thrill with 
unaccustomed thoughts of green nooks and leafy 
copses, of laughing children and cottage-gardens, 
and summer evenings at home ; lastly, the three 
Jacks, his fast friends, found him an apt pupil in 
lessons relating to sheets and tacks, blocks and 
braces, yards and spars, in fine, all the practical 
mysteries of seamanship. 

During stirring times, such as the first half of 
the eighteenth century, a brigantine like 'The 
Bashful Maid,' well-armed, well-manned, com- 
manded by a young adventurous Captain having 
letters of marque in his cabin, and no certain 
knowledge that peace had yet been proclaimed 
with Spain, was not likely long to preserve her 
sails unbleached by use nor the paint and varnish 
undimmed on her hull. Not many months elapsed 
ere she was very different in appearance from the 
yacht-like craft that ran past the Needles, carrying 
Eugene Beaudesir prone and helpless as a log in 
her after-cabin. He could scarcely believe himself 
the same man when, bronzed, robust, and vigorous, 
feeling every inch a sailor, he paced her deck 
under the glowing stars and the mellow moonlight 
of the tropics. Gales had been weathered since 



'THE BASHFUL MAID.' 95 

then, shots fired, prizes taken, and that career of 
adventure embarked on which possesses so strange 
a fascination for the majority of mankind, partly, 
I think, from its permanent uncertainty, partly 
from its pandering to their self-esteem. A few more 
swoops, another prize or two taken, pillaged, but 
suffered to proceed if not worth towing into port, 
and the cruise would have been so successful, that 
already the men were calculating their share of 
profit and talking as if their eventual return to 
Britain was no longer a wild impossibility. Every- 
thing, too, had as yet been done according to fair 
usage of war. No piracy, no cruelty, nothing that 
could justify a British three-decker in capturing 
the brigantine, to impress her crew and hang her 
captain at his own yard-arm. Eugene's counsels 
had so far prevailed with George that he had 
resolved on confining himself to the legitimate 
profits of a privateer, and not overstepping the 
narrow line of demarcation that distinguished him 
from a pirate. 

While, however, some of her crew had been 
killed and some wounded, ' The Bashful Maid ' 
herself had by no means emerged scatheless from 
her encounters. Eugene was foolish enough to 
experience a thrill of pride while he marked the 



96 CERISE. 

grim holes, planked and caulked, in her sides ; 
the workmanlike splicing of such yards and spars 
as had not suffered too severely for repair, and 
the carefully-mended foresail, now white and 
weather-bleached, save where the breadths of 
darker, newer canvas betrayed it had been 
riddled by round-shot. 

But soon his impressionable temperament, catch- 
ing the influence of the hour, threw off its warlike 
thoughts and abandoned itself to those gentler 
associations that could hardly fail to be in the 
ascendant. 

The night was such as is only to be seen in the 
tropics. Above, like golden lamps, the stars were 
flaming rather than twinkling in the sky; while 
low down on the horizon a broad moon, rising 
from the sea, spread a lustrous path along the 
gently-heaving waves to the very ship's side; a 
path on which myriads of glittering fairies seemed 
to dance and revel, and disappear in changing 
sparkles of light. 

Through all this blaze of beauty, the brigantine 
glided smoothly and steadily on her course. For 
several days and nights not a sail had been altered, 
not a rope shifted, before that soft and balmy 
breeze. The men had nothing to do but tell each 



'THE BASHFUL MAID.' 97 

other interminable yarns and smoke. It was the 
fair side of the medal, the bloom on the fruit, 
the smooth of the profession, this enchanted 
voyage over an enchanted sea. 

Eugene revelled in its charm, but with his en- 
joyment was mingled that quiet melancholy so 
intimately associated with all beauty in those 
hearts (and how many of them are there \) which 
treasure up an impossible longing, a dream that 
can never come to pass. It is a morbid sentiment, 
no doubt, which can thus extract from the loveliest 
scenes of nature, and even from the brightest 
triumphs of art, a strange wild ecstasy of pain, 
possessing a fascination of its own; but it is a 
sentiment to which the most generous and the 
most noble minds are peculiarly susceptible ; a 
sentiment that in itself denotes excessive capability 
for the happiness denied or withheld. Were it 
better for them to be of duller spirit and coarser 
fibre, callous to the spur, unequal to the effort? 
AVho knows? I think Beaudesir would not will- 
ingly have parted with the sensibility from which 
he experienced so much pain, from the memories 
on which, at moments like these, under a moonlit 
sky, he brooded and dwelt so fondly, yet so de- 
spondently, to have obtained in exchange the inex* 

VOL. IT. H 



98 CERISE. 

haustible good-humour of Slap- Jack or the imper- 
turbable self-command of Captain George. 

Immersed in his own thoughts, he did not 
observe the latter leave his cabin, walk from sheer 
habit to the binnacle in order to satisfy himself the 
brigantine was lying her course, and glance over 
the side to measure her speed through the water, 
and he started when the Captain placed his hand 
familiarly on his shoulder, and jeered him good- 
humouredly for his preoccupation. These men, 
whose acquaintance had commenced with impor- 
tant benefits conferred and received on both sides, 
were now thrown together by circumstances which 
brought out the finer qualities of both. They had 
learned thoroughly to depend on each other, and 
had become fast friends. Perhaps their strongest 
link was the dissimilarity of their characters. To 
Beaudesir's romantic and impressionable tempera- 
ment there had been, from the first, something 
very imposing in the vigorous and manly nature of 
Captain George ; and the influence of the latter 
became stronger day by day, when he proved 
himself as calm, courageous, and capable, on the 
deck of a privateer as he had appeared in his 
quarters at Paris commanding a company of the 
*Royal Guards. 



'THE BASHFUL MAID.' 99 

For George, again, with his frank, soldier-like 
manner and somewhat abrupt address, which 
seemed impatient of anything like delicacy or over- 
refinement, there was, nevertheless, an unspeakable 
charm in his friend's half-languid, half-fiery, and 
wholly romantic disposition, redeemed by a courage 
no danger could shake, and an address with his 
weapons few men could withstand. The Captain 
was not demonstrative, far from it, and would 
have been ashamed to confess how much he valued 
the society of that pale, studious, effeminate youth, 
in looks, in manner, in simplicity of habits so 
much younger than his actual years ; who was so 
often lost in vague day-dreams, and loved to follow 
up such wild and speculative trains of thought ; 
but who could point the brigantine's bow-chasers 
more accurately than the gunner himself; who 
had learned how to hand, reef, and steer before he 
had been six weeks on board. 

Their alliance was the natural consequence of 
companionship between two natures of the same 
material, so to speak, but of different fabric. Their 
respective intellects represented the masculine and 
feminine types. Each supplying that which the 
other wanted, they amalgamated accordingly. 
Beaudesir looked up to the Musketeer as his ideal 

11 2 



100 CERISE. 

of perfection in manhood ; Captain George loved 
Eugene like a brother, and trusted him without 
reserve. 

It was pleasant after the turmoil and excitement 
of the last few weeks to walk the deck in that 
balmy region under a serene and moonlit sky, 
letting their thoughts wander freely to scenes so 
different on far-distant shores, while they talked of 
France, and Paris, arid Versailles, and a thousand 
topics all connected with dry land. But Eugene, 
though he listened with interest, and never seemed 
tired of confidences relating to his companion's own 
family and previous life, frankly and freely im- 
parted, refrained from such confessions in return ; 
and George was still as ignorant of his friend's 
antecedents as on that memorable day when the 
pale, dark youth accompanied Bras-de-Fer to their 
Captain's quarters, to be entered on the roll of the 
Grey Musketeers, after running poor Flanconnade 
through the body. That they had once belonged 
to this famous corps $ elite neither of them seemed 
likely to forget. Its merits and its services formed 
the one staple subject of discourse when all else 
failed. As in his quarters at Paris he had kept 
the model of a similar brigantine for his own pri- 
vate solace, so now, in the cabin of ' The Bashful 



• THE BASHFUL MAID.' 101 

Maul/ the skipper treasured up with the greatest 
care, in a stout sea-chest, a handsome full-dress 
uniform, covered with velvet and embroidery, 
flaunting with grey ribbons, and having a coating 
of thin paper over its silver lace. 

There was one topic of conversation, however, 
on which these young men had never yet em- 
barked, and this is the more surprising, considering 
their age and the habits of those warriors amongst 
whom they were so proud to have been numbered. 
This forbidden subject was the charm of the other 
sex, and it was perhaps because each felt himself 
so constituted as to be keenly alive to its power 
that neither ventured an allusion to the great influ- 
ence by which, during the first half of life, men's 
fortunes, characters, happiness, and eventual destiny 
are more or less affected. It required a fair breeze, 
a summer sea, and a moonlight night in the tropics 
to elicit their opinions on such matters, and the 
manly, roughspoken skipper was the first to broach 
a theme that had been already well-nigh ex- 
hausted by the watch on deck — gathered on the 
forecastle in tranquil enjoyment of a cool, serene 
air and a welcome interval of repose. 

Old Turenne's system of tactics had been 
declared exrjloded ; the Duke of Marlborough's 



102 CERISE. 

character criticised ; Cavalli's last opera can- 
vassed and condemned. Captain George took 
two turns of the deck in silence, stopped short at 
the taflrail, and looked thoughtfully over the 
stern — 

" What is to be the end of it ?" he asked 
abruptly. " More fighting, of course ! More prizes, 
more doubloons, and then? After all, I believe 
there are things to make a man's life happier than 
even such a brigantine as this." 

" There is heaven on earth, and there is heaven 
above," answered the other, in his dreamy, half- 
earnest, half-speculative way ; " and some men, 
not always the hardest-hearted nor the most vicious, 
are to be shut out from both. Calvin is a dis- 
heartening casuist, but I believe Calvin is right !" 

" Steady there I" replied George. " Nothing 
shall make me believe but that a brave man can 
sail what course he will, provided his charts are 
trustworthy and he steers by them. Nothing is 
impossible, Eugene. If I had thought that, I should 
have lost heart long ago." 

" And then ?" asked Beaudesir, sadly. 

" And then," repeated the Captain, with a shud- 
der, " I might have become a brute rather than 
a man. Do you remember the British schooner 



'THE BASHFUL MAID.' 103 

we retook from those Portuguese rovers, and the 
mustee * who commanded them ? I tell you I hate to 
think it possible, and yet I believe a man utterly with- 
out hope might come to be such a wretch as that !" 

" You never would/' said Beaude'sir, "and I 
never should ; 1 know it. Even hope may be dis- 
pensed with if memory remains. My pity is for 
those who have neither." 

" I could not live without hope," resumed the 
Captain, cheerily. " I own I do hope most sin- 
cerely, at some future time, for a calmer and hap- 
pier lot than this ; a lot that would also make the 
happiness of another ; and that other so gentle, 
so trusting, and so true I" 

Eugene looked in his face surprised. Then he 
smiled brightly, and laid his hand on his friend's 
shoulder. 

" It will come !" he exclaimed ; " never doubt it 
for a moment. It will come ! Do you remember 
what I said to you of my skill in fortune-telling ? 
I repeat, success is written in your face. What 
you really wish and strive to attain is as sure to 
arrive at last as a fair wind in the trades or a flood- 
tide at full moon." 



* The progeny of a white and a Quadroon, sometimes called an 
Octoroon. 



104 CERISE. 

" I hope so," returned the Captain ; " I believe 
it. I suppose I am as bold as my neighbours, and 
luckily it never comes across me, when there's any- 
thing to do ; but sometimes my heart fails when I 
think, if I should go down and lose my number, how 
she'll sit and wonder, poor thing, why I never 
come back !" 

" Courage, my Captain !" said Eugene, cheerily 
affecting the tone and manner of their old corps. 
f ] Courage. JEn avant ! a la Mousquetaire ! You 
will lose nothing, not even the cargo ; we shall 
return with both pockets full of money. You will 
buy a chateau. There will be a fete at your wed- 
ding : I shall bring there my violin, and, believe 
me, I shall rejoice in your happiness as if it were 
my own." 

" She is so young, so beautiful, so gentle," con- 
tinued the Captain ; " I could not bear that her 
life should be darkened, whatever comes of me. 
If, at last, the great happiness does arrive, Eugene, 
I shall not forget my friend. Chateau or cottage, 
you will be welcome with your violin. You would 
admire her as I do ; we both think alike on so 
many subjects. So young, so fresh, so beautiful ! I 
wish you could see her. I am not sure but that you 
have seen her. Do you remember the day ?" 



'the bashful maid.' 105 

What further confidences the skipper was about 
to impart were here cut short by a round of ap- 
plause from the forecastle, apparently arising from 
some proposal much approved by the whole assem- 
blage. The Captain, with his friend, paused to 
listen. It was a request that Bottle-Jack should 
sing, and seemed not unfavourably received by 
that veteran. After many excuses and much of a 
mock modesty, to be observed under similar condi- 
tions in the most refined societies, he took his quid 
from his cheek, and cleared his voice with great 
pomp ere he embarked on a ditty of which the 
subject conveyed a delicate compliment to the pro- 
clivities of his friend Smoke-Jack, who had origi- 
nated the call, and which he sang in that flat, 
monotonous, and dispiriting key, only to be ac- 
complished, I firmly believe, by an able seaman in 
the daily exercise of his profession. He designated 
it " The Real Trinidado," and it ran as follows : — 

" Oh ! when I was a lad, 

Says my crusty old dud, 
Says he, — ' Jack ! you must stick to the spade, oh !' 

But he grudged me my prog, 

And lie grudged me my grog, 
And my pipe of the real Trinidado. 

my Syousan to me, — 

1 Jack, if you goes to sea, 



106 CERISE. 

I'll be left but a desolate maid, oh !' 

Then I answers her — ' Sue ! 

Can't I come back to you 
When I'm done with the old Trinidado ?* 

" So to sea we clears out, 

And the ship's head, no doubt, 
Sou'-we3t and by sou' it was laid, oh ! 

For the isles of the sun, 

Where there's fiddlers and fun, 
And no end of the real Trinidado. 

" Says our skipper, says he, 

' Be she close-hauled or free, 
She'd behave herself in a tornado !' 

So he handles the ship 

With a canful of flip, 
And a pipe of the real Trinidado. 

" She's a weatherly craft, 

Werry wet, fore-and-aft, 
And she rolls like a liquorish jade, oh ! 

But she steers werry kind, 

On a course to her mind, 
When she's bound for the isle Trinidado. 

" Soon a sail we espies, 

Says the skipper — ' My eyes ! 
That's the stuff for us lads of the trade, oh ! 

Bales of silk in his hold, 

Casks of rum — maybe gold — 
Not forgetting the real Trinidado !' 

" Then it's ' Stand by ! My sons ! 

Steady ! Kun out your guns — 
We've the Don's weather-gage. Who's afraid, oh 

So we takes him aback, 

He is ours in a crack, 
And we scuttles him off Trinidado ! 



1 THE BASHFUL MAID.' 107 

■' Now, here's to the crew ! 

And the skipper ! and Sue ! 
And here's • Lnck to the boys of the blade, oh ! 

May they ne'er want a glass, 

A fair wind, a fair lasfi ! 
Nor a pipe of the real Triuidado !' ' 

The applause elicited by this effort was loud and 
long. Ere it subsided, George looked more than 
once anxiously to windward. Then he went to his 
cabin and consulted the barometer, after which he 
reappeared on deck and whispered in Eugene's 
ear — 

"I am going to caulk it for an hour or two. 
Hold on, unless there's any change in the weather, 
and be sure you come below and rouse me out at 
eight bells." 




CHAPTER VIII. 



DIRTY WEATHER. 




T eight bells, the Captain came on deck 
again, glancing once more somewhat 
anxiously astern. Not a cloud was to be 
seen in the moonlit sky, and the breeze 
that had blown so steadily, though so softly, for 
weeks, was sinking gradually, dying out, as it were, 
in a succession of gentle, peaceful sighs. Eugene, 
with the weather-wisdom of a man who had been 
but a few months at sea, rather inclined to think 
they might be becalmed. The crew did not 
trouble themselves about the matter. Every rag 
the brigantine could show was already set, and if 
a sail flapped idly against the mast, it soon drew 
again as before, to propel them smoothly on their 



course. 



DIRTY WEATHER. 109 

Moreover, a topic had been lately broached on 
the forecastle, of engrossing interest to every man 
before the mast. It affected no less delicate a 
subject than the beauty of 'The Bashful Maid' her- 
self, as typified by her figure-head. This work of 
art had unfortunately suffered a slight defacement 
in one of their late exploits, nearly the whole of 
its nose having been carried away by an untoward 
musket-shot. Such a loss had been replaced 
forthwith by the ship's carpenter, who supplied his 
idol with a far straighter, severer, and more clas- 
sical feature than was ever yet beheld on the 
human countenance. Its proportions were pro- 
claimed perfect by the whole crew ; but though the 
artist's execution was universally approved, his 
florid style of colouring originated many conflict- 
ing opinions and much loud discussion on the 
first principles of imitative art. The carpenter 
was a man of decided ideas, and made large use of 
a certain red paint nearly approaching vermilion 
in his flesh tints. ' The Bashful Maid's I nose, 
therefore, bloomed with a hue as rosy as her 
cheeks, and these, until toned down by wind and 
weather, had been an honest scarlet. None of the 
critics ventured to dispute the position that the 
carpenter's theory was sound. Slap- Jack, indeed, 



110 CERISE. 

with a lively recollection of her wan face when he 
took leave of his Alice, suggested that for his part 
he liked them "a little less gaudy about the gills;" 
but this heresy was ignominiously coughed down at 
once. It was merely a question as to whether the 
paint was, or was not, laid on too thick, and each 
man argued according to his own experience of the 
real human subject. 

All the older hands (particularly Bottle- Jack, 
who protested vehemently that the figure-head of 
4 The Bashful Maid,' so far from being a representa- 
tion of feminine beauty, was in fact an elevated 
ideal of that seductive quality, a veiy model, to 
be imitated, though hardly possible to be ap- 
proached) were in favour of red noses, as adding 
warmth and expression to the female face. Their 
wives, their sweethearts, their sisters, their 
mothers, their grandmothers, all had red noses, 
and were careful to keep up the colouring by the 
use of comforting stimulants. " What," said their 
principal speaker, " was the pints of a figur'-head, 
as laid down in the song? and no man on this 
deck was a-goin' to set up his opinion again that, 
he should think ! Wasn't 'em this here ? — > 

" ' Eyes as black as sloes, 
Cheeks like any rose/ 



DIRTY WEATHER. Ill 

And if the song was payed-out further, which it 
might or it might not, d'ye see, wouldn't the poet 
have naturally added — 

" With a corresponding nose ?" 

It was a telling argument, and although two or 
three of the foretop-men, smart young fellows, 
whose sweethearts had not yet taken to drinking, 
seemed disinclined to side with Slap-Jack, it 
insured a triumphant majority, which ought to 
have set the question at rest, even without the 
conclusive opinion delivered by the negro. 

<c Snowball," said Bottle- Jack, " you've not told 
us your taste. Now you're impartial, you are, 
a-cause you can't belong to either side. What say 
ye, man ? Red or white ? Sing out and hoist 
your ensign !" 

The black nodded, grinned, and voted — 

" Iss ! berry well," said he ; " like 'em white berry 
well ; like 'em red berry better !" 

At this interesting juncture, the men were a 
good deal surprised by an order from the Captain 
to " turn all hands up and shorten sail." They 
rose from the deck, wondering and grumbling. 
Two or three, who had been sleeping below, came 
tumbling up with astonished faces and less 
willing steps than usual. All seemed more or less 



112 CERISE. 

discontented, and muttered to each other that 
" the skipper must be mad to shorten sail at mid- 
night with a bright moon, and in a light breeze, 
falling every moment to a calm !" 

They went about the job somewhat unwillingly, 
and indeed were so much less ready than usual as 
to draw a good deal of animadversion from the 
deck, something in this style — 

" w Now, my lads, bear a hand, and look smart. 
Foretop there! What are you about with that 
foretopsail? Lower away on your after-haul- 
yards ! Easy ! Hoist on those fore-haulyards, ye 
lubbers ! Away with it, men ! Altogether, and 
with a will! Why, you are going to sleep over it ! 
I'd have done it smarter with the crew of a 
collier !" 

To all which remonstrances, it is needless to say, 
the well-disciplined Slap- Jack made no reply ; only 
once, finding a moment to look to windward 
from his elevated position as captain of the fore- 
top, and observing a white mist-like scud low 
down on the horizon, he whispered quietly to his 
mate, then busied w 7 ith a reef-knot — 

" Bio wed if he bain't right, arter all, Jem ! 
We'll be under courses afore the sun's up. If we 
don't strike topmasts, they'll be struck for us, I 



DIRTT WEATHER. 118 

shouldn't -wonder. I see him once afore," ex- 
plained Slap- Jack, jerking his head in the direc- 
tion of the coming squall ; " and he's a Snorter, 
mate, that's about wot he is !" 

The Captain's precautions were not taken too 
soon. The topsails were hardly close reefed, all 
the canvas not absolutely required to steer the 
brigantine had been hardly taken in, ere the 
sky was darkened as if the moon had been sud- 
denly snuffed out, and the squall was upon them. 
1 The Bashful Maid ' lay over, gunwale under, 
driving fiercely through the seething water, which 
had not yet risen to the heavy sea that was too 
surely coming. She plunged, she dived, she strained, 
she quivered like some living thing striving 
earnestly and patiently for its life. The rain hissed 
down in sheets, the lightning lit up the slippery 
deck, the dripping pale-faced men, the bending 
spars, the straining tackle, and the few feet of 
canvas that must be carried at any price. In the 
quick-succeeding flashes every man on board could, 
see that the others did their duty. From the 
Captain, holding on by one hand, composed and 
cheerful, with his speaking-trumpet in the other, 
to the ship's boy. with his little bare feet and curl- 
ing yellow hair, there was not a skulker amongst 

VOL. II. I 



114 CERISE. 

them ! They remembered it long afterwards with 
honest pride, and ' The Bashful Maid ' behaved 
beautifully ! Yes, in defiance of the tempestuous 
squall, blowing as it seemed from all points of the 
compass at once ; in defiance of crackling lightning, 
and thunder crashing overhead ere it rolled away 
all round the horizon, reverberating over the ocean 
for miles ; in defiance of black darkness and ]urid 
gleams, and drenching rain, and the cruel raging 
sea rising every moment and running like a mill- 
race, Captain and crew were alike confident they 
would weather it, and they did. 

But it was a sadly worn and strained and 
shattered craft that lay upon the fast subsiding 
water, some six hours after the squall, under the 
glowing sun of a" morning in the tropics ; a sun 
that glinted on the sea till its heaving surface 
looked all one sheet of burnished gold ; a sun that 
was truly comforting to the drenched and wearied 
crew, although its glare exposed pitilessly the 
whole amount of damage the brigantine had sus- 
tained. That poor s Bashful Maid ' was as different 
now from the trim yacht-like craft that sailed past 
the Needles, gaudy with paint and gleaming with 
varnish, as is the dead sea-bird, lying helpless and 
draggled on the wave, from the same creature 



DIRTY WEATHER. 115 

soaring white and beautiful, in all its pride of 
power and plumage, against the summer-sky. 

There was but one opinion, however, amongst 
the crew as to the merits of the craft, and the way- 
she had been handled. Not one of them, and it 
was a great acknowledgment for sailors to make, 
who never think their present berth the best — not 
one of them had ever before sailed in any descrip- 
tion of vessel which answered her helm so readily 
or could lay her head so near the wind's eye — 
not one of them had ever seen a furious tropical 
squall weathered so scientifically and so success- 
fully, nor could call to mind a Captain who seemed 
so completely master of his trade. The three 
Jacks compared notes" on the subject before turn- 
ing in about sunrise, when the worst was indeed 
over, but the situation, to a landsman at least, 
would have yet appeared sufficiently precarious. 
The brigantine was still driving before a heavy sea, 
showing just so much canvas as should save her 
from being becalmed in its trough, overtaken and 
buried under the pursuing enemy. The gale was 
still blowing with a fury that offered the best 
chance of its force soon becoming exhausted, and 
two men were at the helm under the immediate 
supervision of the skipper himself. 

12 



116 CERISE. 

Nevertheless, the three stout tars betook them- 
selves to their berth without the slightest anxiety, 
well aware that each would be sleeping like a 
child almost before he could clamber into his 
hammock. 

But while he took off and wrung his dripping 
sea-coat, Bottle-Jack observed sententiously to his 
mates — 

" Captain Kidd could fight a ship, my sons, and 
Captain Kidd could sail a ship. Now if you asks 
my opinion, it's this here — In such a squall as 
we've a-weathered, or pretty nigh a-weathered, 
Captain Kidd, he'd a-run afore it at once, an' he'd 
a bin in it now. This here young skipper, he 
laid to, so long as she could lay to, an' he never 
run till he couldn't fight no more. That's why he'll 
be out on it afore the middle watch. Belay now, 
I'm a-goin' to caulk it for a spell." 

Neither Smoke-Jack nor Slap-Jack were in a 
humour for discussion, and each cheerfully con- 
ceded the Captain's judicious seamanship ; the 
former expressing his opinion that nothing in the 
King's navy could touch the brigantine, and the 
latter, recurring to his previous experience, rejoic- 
ing that he no longer sailed under the gallant but 
unseamanlike Captain Delaval. 



DIRTY WEATHER. 117 

The honest fellows, thoroughly wearied, were 
soon in the land of dreams. Haunted no more 
by visions of dancing spars, wet slippery ropes, 
yards dipping in the waves, and flapping sails 
strufr^linix wildly for the freedom that must be 
their own destruction, and the whole ship's com- 
pany's doom. No, their thoughts were of warm 
sanded parlours, cheerful coal-fires, endless pipes 
of tobacco, messmates singing, women dancing, 
the unrestrained festivities and flowing ale-jugs of 
the Fox and Fiddle. Perhaps, to the imagination 
of the youngest, a fair pale face, loving and tearful, 
stood out from all these jovial surroundings, and 
Slap-Jack felt a purer and a better man while, 
though but in imagination, he clasped his true and 
tender Alice to his heart once more. 



CHAPTER IX. 



PORT WELCOME. 




T -was a refreshing sight to behold Slap- 
Jack, " rigged," as he was pleased to term 
it, " to the nines," in the extreme of sea- 
dandyism, enacting the favourite part of 
a " liberty-man" ashore. 

Nothing had been left undone for the brilliancy 
of his exterior that could be achieved by scrub- 
bing, white linen, and robust health. The smart 
young captain of the foretop seemed to glow and 
sparkle in the vertical sun, as he stood on the quay 
of Port Welcome, and cast a final glance of pro- 
fessional approval on. the yards he had lately squared 
to a nicety and the trim of such gear and tackle 
aloft as seemed his own especial pride and care. 
'The Bashful Maid,' after all the butTetings she 



PORT WELCOME. 119 

had sustained, particularly from the late squall, 
having made her port in one of the smallest and 
most beautiful of the West India islands, now lay 
at anchor, fair and motionless, like a living thing 
sleeping on the glistening sea. It yet wanted some 
hours of noon, nevertheless the sun had attained a 
power that seemed to bake the very stones on the 
quay, and warmed the clear limpid water fathom 
deep. Even Slap-Jack protested against the heat, 
as he lounged and rolled into the town, to find it 
swarming with negroes of both sexes, sparingly 
clothed, but with such garments as they did wear 
glowing in the gaudiest colours, and carrying on 
their hard, woolly heads baskets containing eggs, 
kids, poultry, fruit, vegetables, and every kind of 
market produce in the island. That island was 
indeed one of those jewels of the Caribbean Sea to 
which no description can do justice. 

For the men left on board ' The Bashful Maid,' 
now heaving drowsily at her anchor, it realized, with 
its vivid and varied hues, its fantastic outlines, its 
massive brakes, its feathery palms, its luxuriant 
redundancy of vegetation, trailing and drooping to 
the sparkling water's-edge, a sailor's idea of Para- 
dise ; while for the three Jacks rolling into the 
little town of Port Welcome, with its white houses 



120 r CERISE. 

straggling streets, frequent drinking-shops, and 
swarming population — black, white, and coloured, 
it represented the desirable haven of Fiddler's 
Green, where they felt, no doubt, they had arrived 
before their time. Slap-Jack made a remark to 
that effect, which was cordially endorsed by his 
comrades as they turned into the main thorough- 
fare of the town, and agreed that, in order to enjoy 
their holiday to the utmost, it was essential to com- 
mence with something to drink all round. 

Now, ' The Bashful Maid' having been already a 
few days in port, had in that time disposed of a 
considerable portion of her cargo, and such an 
event as the arrival of a saucy brigantine, com- 
bining the attractions of a man-of-war with the 
advantages of a free-trader, not being an every-day 
occurrence among the population of Port Welcome, 
much stir, excitement, and increase of business was 
the result. The French store -keepers bid eagerly 
for wares of European manufacture, the French 
planters sent their slaves down in dozens to pur- 
chase luxuries only attainable from beyond sea, 
while the negroes, grinning from ear to ear, jostled 
and scolded each other in their desire to barter 
yams, plantains, fruit, poultry, and even, on occa- 
sion, pieces of actual money, for scarfs, gloves, per- 



PORT WELCOME. 121 

fumes, and ornaments — the tawdrier the better, 
which they thought might add to the gloss of their 
black skins, and set off their quaint, honest, ugly, 
black faces to advantage. 

Here and there, too, a Carib, one of the aborigi- 
nal lords of the island, distinguished by his bronze 
colour, his grave demeanour — so unlike the African, 
and his disfigured nose, artificially flattened from 
infancy, would stalk solemnly away, rich in the 
possession of a few glass beads or a bit of tinsel, for 
which he had bartered all his worldly wealth, and 
which, like more civilized people, he valued, not 
at its intrinsic worth, but at its cost price. The 
three Jacks observed the novelties which surrounded 
them from different points of view according to 
their different characters, yet with a cool imperturb- 
able demeanour essentially professional. To men 
of their calling, nothing ever appears extraordinary. 
They see so many strange sights in different coun- 
tries, and have so little time to become acquainted 
with the wonders they behold, that they soon 
acquire a profound and philosophical indifference 
to everything beyond their ordinary range of ex- 
perience, persuaded that the astonishment of to-day 
is pretty sure to be exceeded by the astonishment 
of to-morrow. Neither can they easily discover any- 



122 CERISE. 

thing perfectly and entirely new, having usually wit- 
nessed something of the same kind before, or heard 
it circumstantially described at considerable length 
by a messmate ; so that a seaman is but little 
impressed with the sight of a foreign town, of which, 
indeed, he acquires in an hour or two a knowledge 
not much more superficial than he has of his native 
village. 

Bottle- Jack was in the habit of giving his opinion, 
as he expressed it, " free." That it was compli- 
mentary to Port Welcome, his comrades gathered 
from the following sentiment : — 

" I'm a' gettin' strained and weather-worn," ob- 
served the old seaman, impressively, "and uncom- 
mon dry besides. Tell ye what it is, mates — one 
more cruise, and blowed if I won't just drop my 
anchor here, and ride out the rest of my time all 
snug at my moorings." 

Smoke-Jack turned his quid with an expression 
of intense disgust. 

"And get spliced to a nigger, old man !" said he, 
argumentatively. "Never go for to say it ! I'm 
not a-goin' to dispute as this here's a tidy bit of a 
island enough, and safe anchorage. Likewise, as 
I've been told by them as tried it, plenty to drink, 
and good. Nor I won't say but what a craft might 



PORT WELCOME. 123 

put in here for a spell to refit, do a bit of caulking, 
and what not. But for dry-dock, mate, never go for to 
say it. Why you couldn't get anything like a decent 
missis, man, hereaway ; an' think o' the price o' beer !" 

"Begardin' a missis," returned the other, reflec- 
tively, '•'tain'tthe craft wot crowds the most canvas 
as makes the best weather, mate, and at my years 
a man looks less to raking masts an' a gay figur'- 
head than to srood tonnage and wholesome breadth 
of beam. Now, look ye here, mates — wot say ye 
to this here craft ? — her with the red ensign at the 
main, as is layin' to, like, with her fore-sheet to 
windward and her helm one turn down ?" 

"While he spoke, he pointed to our old acquaint- 
ance, Celandine, who was cheapening fancy articles 
at a store that spread its goods out under an 
awning far into the middle of the modest street. 
The Quadroon was, as usual, gorgeously dressed, 
wearing the scarlet turban that covered her still 
black hair majestically, as a queen carries her 
diadem. Like the coloured race in general, she 
seemed to have renewed her youth under a tropical 
sun, and at a short distance, particularly in the eyes 
of Bottle- Jack, appeared a fine-looking woman, with 
pretensions to the remains of beauty still. 

The three seamen, of course, ranged up alongside 



124 CERISE. 

for careful criticism, but Celandine's attention was 
by no means to be distracted from the delightful 
business of shopping she had on hand. Shawls, 
scarfs, fans, gloves, tawdry jewels, and perfumery, 
lay heaped in dazzling profusion on a shelf before 
her, and the African blood danced in her veins with 
childish glee at the tempting sight. The store- 
keeper, a French Creole, with sharp features, sallow 
complexion, and restless, down-looking black eyes, 
taking advantage of her eagerness, asked three 
times its value for every article he pointed out ; but 
Celandine, though profuse, was not inexperienced, 
and dearly loved, moreover, the feminine amuse- 
ment of driving a bargain. Much expostulation 
therefore, contradiction, wrangling, and confusion 
of tongues was the result. 

The encounter seemed at the warmest, and the 
French Creole, notwithstanding his villainous coun- 
tenance and unscrupulous assertions, was decidedly 
getting the worst of it, when Slap-Jack's quick eye 
detected amongst the wares exposed for sale certain 
silks and other stuffs which had formed part of ' The 
Bashful Maid's' cargo, and had, indeed, been wrested 
by the strong hand from a Portuguese trader, after 
a brisk chase and a running fight, which cost the 
brigantine a portion of her bolt-sprit and two of 



PORT WELCOME. 125 

her smartest hands. The chest containing these 
articles had been started in unloading, so that its 
contents had sustained much damage from sea- 
water. It was a breadth of stained satin out of 
this very consignment that the Creole storekeeper 
now endeavoured to persuade Celandine she would 
do well to purchase at an exorbitant valuation. 

Slap-Jack, like many of his calling, had picked 
lip a smattering of negro-French, and could under- 
stand the subject of dispute sufficiently to interfere, 
a course from which he was not to be dissuaded by 
his less impressionable companions. 

"Let her be !" growled Smoke- Jack. "Wot call 
have you now to come athwart-hawse of that there 
jabbering mounseer, as a man might say, dredging 
in his own fishing-ground ? It's no use hailing her, 
I tell ye, mate, I knows the trim on 'em ; may-be 
she'll lay her foresail aback, and stand ofT-and-on 
till sun-down, then just when a man least expects it, 
she'll up stick, shake out every rag of canvas, and 
run for port. Bless ye, young and old, fair and foul, 
black, white, and coloured, nigger, quadroon, and 
mustee — I knows 'em all, and not one on 'em but 
carries a weather-helm in a fresh breeze, and steers 
wild and wilful in a sea-w T ay." 

But Slap-Jack was not to be diverted from his 



12 G CERISE. 

purpose. With considerable impudence, and an 
impressive sea-bow, he walked up to Celandine 
under the eyes of his admiring shipmates, and, 
mustering the best negro-French at his command, 
warned her in somewhat incomprehensible jargon 
of the imposition intended to be practised. Now 
it happened that Port Welcome, and the island in 
which it was situated, had been occupied in its 
varying fortunes by French, Spaniards, and English 
so equally, that these languages, much corrupted 
by negro pronunciation, were spoken indiscrimi- 
nately, and often altogether. It was a great relief, 
therefore, to Slap- Jack that Celandine thanked him 
politely for his interposition in his native tongue, 
and when she looked into the young foretop-man's 
comely brown face, she found herself so fascinated 
with something she detected there as to continue 
the conversation in tolerably correct English, for the 
purpose of improving their acquaintance. The sea- 
man congratulated himself on having made so 
happy a discovery, while his friends looked on in 
mute admiration of the celerity with which he had 
completed his conquest. 

'•'He's a smart chap, mate," enunciated Bottle- 
Jack, with a glance of intense approval at the two 
figures receding up the sunny street, as Celandine 



rOET WELCOME. 127 

marched their companion off, avowedly for the 
purpose of refreshing him with cooling drinks in 
return for his good-nature — "a smart young chap, 
and can hold his own with the best of 'em as ever 
hoisted a petticoat, silk or dowlas. See now, that's 
the way to do it in these here latitudes ! First he 
hails 'em, speaking up like a man, then he ranges 
alongside, and gets the grap piers out, and so tows 
his prize into port in a pig's whisper. He's a smart 
young chap, I tell ye, and a match for the sauciest 
craft as ever sailed under false colours, and hoisted 
a red pennant at the main." 

But Smoke-Jack shook his head, and led his 
shipmate, nothing loth, into a tempting store-house, 
redolent with the fragrance of limes, tobacco, de- 
caying melons, and Jamaica rum. He said nothing, 
however, until he had quenched his thirst; then 
after a vigorous pull at a tall beaker, filled with a 
fragrant compound in which neither ice nor alcohol 
had been forgotten, observed, as if the subject still 
occupied his thoughts — 

* I knows the trim on 'em, I tell ye ; I knows 
the trim on 'em. As I says to the young chap 
now, I never found one yet as would steer kind in a 
sea-way." 

Meanwhile, Celandine, moved by an impulse for 



128 CERISE. 

which she could not account, or perhaps dreading 
to analyse a sentiment that might after all be 
founded on a fallacy, led the young seaman into 
a cool, quiet room in a wooden house, on the shady 
side of the street, of which the apparent mistress 
was a large bustling negress, with a numerous family 
of jet-black children, swarming and crawling about 
the floor like garden-snails after a shower. This 
proprietress seemed to hold the Quadroon in con- 
siderable awe, and was delighted to bring the best 
her house afforded for the entertainment of such 
visitors. Slap- Jack, accommodated with a deep 
measure of iced rum-and-water, lit his pipe, played 
with -the children, stared at his black hostess in 
mmitigated astonishment, and prepared himself 
to answer the questions it was obvious the Quad- 
roon was burning to put. 

Celandine hovered restlessly about the room, 
fixing her bright black eyes upon the seaman 
with an eager, inquiring glance, that she withdrew 
hastily when she thought herself observed, and 
thereby driving into a state of abject terror the 
large sable hostess, whose pity for the victim, as 
she believed him, at last overcame her fear of the 
Quadroon, and impelled her to whisper in Slap- 
Jack's ear — 



PORT WELCOME. 129 

u Obi-woman ! bruxa* buckra-massa, bruxa ! 
Mefi i-vous ! — Ojo-)nalo.f No drinkee for drunkee! 
Look out! GarcT A warning utterly incom- 
prehensible to its object, who winked at her 
calmly over his tumbler, while he drank with 
exceeding relish the friendly mother's health, and 
that of her thriving black progeny. 

There is nothing like a woman's tact to wind 
the secrets out of a man's bosom, gradually, in- 
sensibly, and by much the same smooth, delicate 
process as the spinning of flax off a distaff. With 
a few observations rather than questions, a few 
allusions artfully put, Celandine drew from Slap- 
jack an account of his early years, and an explana- 
tion, offered with a certain pride, of the manner in 
which he became a seaman. When he told her 
how he had made his escape while a mere child 
from his protector, whom he described as " the 
chap wot wanted to bind him 'prentice to a saw- 
bones," he was startled to see the Quadroon's 
shining black eyes full of tears. He consoled her 
in his own rough, good-humoured way. 

" What odds did it make after all," argued 
Slap-Jack, helping himself liberally to the rum- 
and-water, " when I was out of my bed by 

* A witch. t Evil oyo. 

VOL. II. K 



130 CERISE. 

sunrise and down to the waterside to get aboard- 
sliip in the British Channel, hours afore he was up, 
and so Westward-ho ! and away ?• Don't ye take 
on about it. A sailor I would be, and a sailor I 
am. You ask the skipper if I'm not. He knows 
my rating I should think, and whether I'm worth 
my salt or no. Don't ye take on so, mother, 
I say!" 

But the Quadroon was weeping without conceal- 
ment now. 

" Call me that again V she exclaimed, sobbing 
convulsively. u Call me that again ! I have not 
been called mother for so long. Hush !" she 
added, starting up, and laying her hand forcibly 
on his lips. " Not another word. Fool ! Idiot 
that I am ! Not another word. She can hear us. 
She can understand;" and Celandine darted a 
furious glance at the busy negress, which caused 
that poor woman to shake like a jelly down to her 
misshapen black heels. 

Slap- Jack felt considerably puzzled. His pri- 
vate opinion, as he afterwards confided to his 
messmates, was, that the old lady not being drunk, 
must be mad — a cheerful view, which was indeed 
confirmed by what occurred immediately after- 
wards. 



PORT WELCOME. 131 

In struggling to keep her hand upon his mouth, 
she had turned back the deep, open collar of his 
blue shirt till his brawny neck was exposed nearly 
to the shoulder. Espying on that neck a certain 
white mark, contrasting with the ruddy weather- 
browned skin, she gave a half-stifled shriek, like 
that with which a dumb animal expresses its rap- 
ture of recognition ; and taking the man's head in 
her arms, pressed it to her bosom, rocking herself 
to and fro, while she wept and murmured over 
him with an inexplicable tenderness, by which he 
was at once astonished and alarmed. 

For a few moments, and while the negress's 
back was turned, she held him tight, but released 
him when the other re-entered the room, exacting 
from him a solemn promise that he would meet 
her again at an indicated place, and adding that 
she would then confide to him matters in which, 
like herself, he was deeply interested, but which 
must be kept religiously secret so long as he 
remained in the island. 

Slap- Jack, after he had finished his rum-and- 

water, rejoined his comrades, a more thoughtful 

man than he had left them. To their jests and 

inquiries he returned vague and inconclusive 

answers, causing Bottle- Jack to stare at him in 

solemn wonder, and affording Smoke- Jack another 

K 2 



132 CERISE. 

illustration of his theory as to the wilfulness of 
feminine steerage in a °ea-way. 

Celandine, on the contrary, walked through the 
town with the jaunty step and bright vigilant eye 
of one who has discovered some treasure that must 
be guarded with a care proportioned to its value. 
She bought no more trinkets from the store- 
keepers now, she loitered no more to gossip with 
sallow white, or shining negro, or dandy coloured- 
man. At intervals her brow indeed clouded over, 
and the scowl of which it was so capable deepened 
ominously, while she clenched her hands and set 
her teeth ; but the frown soon cleared away, and 
she smiled bright and comely once more. 

She had found her boy at last. Her first-born, 
the image of her first love. Her heart warmed to 
him from the very moment he came near her at 
the store. She was sure of it long 'before she 
recognized the mark on his neck — the same white 
mark she had kissed a thousand times, when he 
danced and crowed on her knees. It was joy, it 
was triumph. But she must be very silent, very 
cautious. If it was hard that a mother might not 
openly claim her son, it would be harder still that 
such acknowledgment should rivet on him the 
yoke of a slavery to which he was born by that 
mother, herself a slave. 




CHAPTER X. 



MONTMIEAIL WEST. 




a distance of less than a league from 
Port "Welcome stood the large and 
flourishing plantation of Cash-a-erou, 
known to the European population, and, 
indeed, to many of the negroes, by the more 
civilized appellation of Montmirail "West. It was 
the richest and most important establishment on 
the island, covering a large extent of cultivation, 
reclaimed at no small cost of labour from the bush, 
and worked by a numerous gang of slaves. Not a 
negro w T as purchased for these grounds till he had 
undergone a close inspection by the shrewd and 
pitiless overseer, who never missed a good invest- 
ment, be it Coromantee, Guinea-man, or Congo, 
and never bought a hand, of however plausible an 



134 CERISE. 

appearance, in whom his quick eye could detect a 
flaw ; consequently, no such cheerful faces, fresh 
lips, sound teeth, strong necks, open chests, sinewy 
arms, dry, large hands, flat stomachs, powerful 
loins, round thighs, muscular calves, lean ankles, 
high feet, and similar physical points of servile 
symmetry, were to be found in any other gang as 
in that which worked the wide clearings on the 
Cash-a-crou estate, which, for convenience, we will 
call by its more civilized name. It was said, how- 
ever, that in the purchase of female negroes this 
overseer was not so particular ; that a saucy eye, 
a nimble tongue, and such an amount of good looks 
as is compatible with African colouring and fea- 
tures, found more favour in his judgment than 
size, strength, substance, vigorous health, or the 
prolific qualities so desirable in these investments. 
The overseer, indeed, was a married man, living, it 
was thought, in wholesome dread of his Quadroon 
wife, and so completely did he identify himself 
with the new character he had assumed, that even 
Celandine could hardly believe her present husband 
was the same Stefano Bartoletti who had wooed 
her unsuccessfully in her girlhood, had met her 
again under such strange circumstances in France, 
eventually to follow her fortunes and those of her 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. loO 

mistress, the Marquise, and obtain from the latter 
the supervision of her negroes on the estate she 
had inherited by her mother's will, which she 
chose to call Montmirail West. 

Bartoletti had intended to settle down for the 
rest of his life in a state of dignified indolence 
with Celandine. He had even offered to purchase 
the Quadroon's freedom, which was generously 
m to' her by the Marquise with that view, but 
he had accustomed himself through the whole ot 
his early life to the engrossing occupation of 
money-making, and like many others he- found it 
impossible to leave off. He and his wife now 
devoted themselves entirely to the acquisition of 
wealth ; she with the object of discovering her 
long-lost son, he, partly from inborn covetousness, 
and yet more from the force of habit. Quick, 
shrewd, and indeed enterprising, where there was 
no personal risk, he had been but a short time 
in the service of the Marquise ere he became an 
excellent overseer, by no means neglecting her 
interests, while he was scrupulously attentive to 
his own. The large dealings in human merchan- 
dize which now occupied his attention afforded 
scope for his peculiar qualities, and Signor Barto- 
letti found few competitors in the slave-market 



136 CERISE. 

who, in caution, cupidity, and knowledge of busi- 
ness, could pretend to be his equals. Moreover, he 
dearly loved the constant speculation, amount- 
ing to actual gambling, inseparable from such 
transactions, nor was he averse, besides, to 
that pleasing sensation of superiority experienced 
by all but the noblest natures from absolute 
authority, however unjustifiable, over their fellow- 
creatures. 

The Signor was a great man in the plantation, 
a great man in Port Welcome, a great man on the 
deck of. a trader just arrived with her swarthy 
cargo from the Bight of Benin or the Gold Coast ; 
but his proportions seemed to shrink and his step 
to falter when he crossed the threshold of his 
own home. The older negroes who knew he had 
married an Obi-woman, and respected him for his 
daring, were persuaded that he had been quelled 
and brought into subjection through some charm 
put upon him by Celandine. To the same magical 
influence they attributed the Quadroon's favour 
with her mistress, and this superstitious dread had 
indeed been of service to both ; for a strong feel- 
ing of dissatisfaction was gaining ground rapidly 
amongst the blacks, and then, as now, notwith- 
standing all that has been said and written in their 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 137 

favour, they were less easily ruled by love than 
fear. 

It is not that they are naturally savage, inhuman, 
brutal. Centuries of Christianity and cultivation 
might probably have done for the black man what 
they have done for the white ; but those centuries 
have been denied him ; and if he is to be taken at 
once from a state of utter ignorance and degrada- 
tion to be placed on a footing of social equality 
with those who have hitherto been his masters — 
a race that has passed gradually through the 
successive stages he is expected to compass in one 
stride — surely it must be necessary to restrain him 
from the excesses peculiar to the lusty adolescence 
of nations, as of individuals, by some stronger 
repressive influence than need be applied to the 
staid and sober demeanour of a people arrived 
long ago at maturity, if not already past theii 
prime. 

Signor Bartoletti did not trouble himself with 
such speculations. Intimidation he found answered 
his purpose tolerably, corporal punishment ex- 
tremely well. 

Passing from the supervision of some five-score 
picking their labour out with great delibera- 
tion amongst the clefts and ridges of a half- 



133 CERISE. 

cleared mountain, clothed to its summit in a tangle 
of luxuriant beauty, he threaded a line of wattled 
mud cottages, cool with thick heavy thatch, daz- 
zling in whitewash, and interspersed with 
fragrant almond-trees, breaking the scorching 
sunlight into a thousand shimmering rays, 
as they rustled and quivered to the whisper 
of the land-breeze, not yet exhausted by the 
heat. 

At the door of one of these huts he spied a 
comely negro girl, whose duties should have kept 
her in the kitchen of the great house. He also ob- 
served that she concealed something bulky under 
her snowy apron, and looked stealthily about as if 
afraid of being seen. 

He had a step noiseless and sure as a cat ; she 
never heard him coming, but started with a loud 
scream when she felt his hand on her shoulder, and 
incontinently began to cry. 

" What have you got there, Fleurette ?" asked 
the overseer, sternly. " Bring it out at once, and 
show it up !" 

" Nothing, Massa," answered Fleurette, of course, 
though she was sobbing all the time. "It only 
Aunt Rosalie's piccaninny. I take him in please, 
just now, to his mammy, out of the wind." 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 139 

There was but such a light breath of air as kept 
die temperature below actual suffocation. 

" Wind ! nonsense !" exclaimed Bartoletti, per- 
spiring and exasperated. '"'Aunt Rosalie's child was 
in the baby-yard half an hour ago ; here, let me 
look at him !" and the overseer snatched up Fleu- 
rette's apron to discover a pair of plump black 
hands, clasped over a well-fattened turkey, cleaned, 
plucked, and ready for the pot. 

The girl laughed through her tears. " You funny 
man, Signor '" said she archly, yet with a gleam 
of alarm in her wild black eyes ; " you no believe 
only when you see. Piccaninny gone in wash-tub 
long since ; Fleurette talkee trash, trash ; dis lilly 
turkey fed on plantation at Maria Galante ; good 
father give um to Fleurette a-cause dis nigger 
say •' Ave ' right through, and spit so at Mumbo- 
Jumbo." 

This story was less credible than the last, inas- 
much as the adjoining plantation of Maria Galante, 
cultivated by a few Jesuit priests, although in a 
thriving condition and capable of producing the 
finest poultry reared, was more than an hour's walk 
from where they stood, and it was impossible that 
Fleurette could have been absent so long from her 
duties at that period of the day. So Bartoletti, 



140 CERISE, 

placing his hand in his waistcoat, pulled out a cer- 
tain roll, which the slaves called his " black book," 
and inserted Fleurette's name therein for corporal 
punishment to the amount of stripes awarded for 
the crime of theft. 

It was a common action enoEgh ; scarce a day 
passed, scarce even an hour, without the production 
of this black book by the overseer, and a torrent 
of entreaties, couched in the mingled jargon of 
French, Spanish, and British, I have endeavoured 
to render through the conventional negro- English, 
which indeed formed its basis, from the unfortunate 
culprit whose name was thus inscribed ; but on this 
occasion Fleurette seemed to entertain a morbid 
terror of the ordeal quite out of proportion to its 
frequency, and, indeed, its severity — for though 
sufficiently brutal, the lash was not dangerous to 
life or limb. She screamed, she wept, she prayed, 
she caught the overseer by his knees and clasped 
them to her bosom, entreating him, with a frantic 
earnestness that became almost sublime, to spare 
her this degradation ! to forgive her only this once ! 
to bid her work night and day till crop-time, and 
then to send her into the field-gang for the hardest 
labour they could devise — nay, to sell her to the 
first trader that touched at Port Welcome never to 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 141 

look on her home at Cash-a-erou again — anything, 
anything, rather than tie her to a stake and flog 
her like a disobedient hound ! 

But Bartoletti was far too practised an overseer 
to be in the slightest degree moved by such en- 
treaties. Replacing the black book in his waist- 
coat, he walked coolly away, without deigning to 
look back at his despairing suppliant, writhing 
under such a mixture of grief and shame as soon 
maddened into rage. Perhaps, had he done so, he 
would have been frightened into mercy, for a bolder 
man than the Italian might have been cowed by the 
glare of that girl's eyes, when she drew up her slen- 
der figure, and clenching her hands till the nails 
pierced them, spat after him with an intensity of 
hatred that wanted only opportunity to slake its 
fierce desire in blood. 

The Signer, however, wiping his brow, uncon- 
scious, passed quietly on, to report his morning's 
work to the Marquise, and obtain her sanction for 
Fleurette's punishment, because the mistress never 
permitted any slave on her estate to be chastised 
but by her own express command. 

Long years ago, when his heart ~was fresh and 
high, the Italian had spent a few months in this 
very island, a period to which he still looked back 



142 CERISE 

as to the one bright ray that gilded his dreary, wan- 
dering, selfish life. It was here he met Celandine 
while both were young, and wooed her with little 
encouragement indeed, for she confessed honestly 
enough that he was too late, yet not entirely 
without hope. And now in gleams between the 
cane-pieces he could catch a glimpse of that silver- 
spread lagoon by which they had walked more than 
once in the glowing evenings, till darkness, closing 
without warning like a curtain, found them together 
still. 

He had conceived for himself then an ideal of 
Paradise which had never in after years faded com- 
pletely away. To win the Quadroon for his own 
— to make himself a peaceful home in easy circum- 
stances, somewhere amidst this tangled wilderness 
of beauty from which Port Welcome peeped out on 
the Caribbean Sea — to sit in his own porch and watch 
the tropical sunset dying off through its blended 
hues of gold, and crimson, and orange, into the 
pale, serene depths of opal, lost ere he could look 
again, amongst the gathering shades of night — such 
were his dreams, and at last he had realized them 
to the letter; but he never watched the sunset now, 
nor walked by the cool glistening lagoon with the 
woman whom in his own selfish way he had loved 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 143 

for half a lifetime. She was his wife, you see, and 
a very imperious wife she proved. When he had 
leisure to speculate on such matters,! which was 
seldom, he could not but allow that he was dis- 
appointed ; that the ideal was a fallacy, the romance 
a fiction, the investment a failure ; practically, the 
home was dull, the lagoon damp, and the sunset 
moonshine ! 

Therefore, as he walked on, though the material 
Paradise was there, as it had always been, he never 
wasted a look or thought on its glowing beauties, 
intent only on the dust that covered his shoes, the 
thirst that fired his throat, and the perspiration 
that streamed from his brow. Yet palm, cocoa, 
orange, and lime tree were waving overhead ; 
while the wild vine, pink, purple, and delicate 
creamy-white, winding here about his path, ran fifty 
feet aloft round some bare stem to which it clung 
in a succession of convolvulus-like blossoms from 
the same plant he trod beneath his very feet. Birds 
of gaudy feather — purple, green, and flaming scar- 
let, flashed from tree to tree with harsh, discordant 
cries, and a Louis d'or flitted round him in its 
bright, golden plumage, looking, as its name implies, 
.ike a guinea upon wings. 

The cn-ass-^rown road he followed was indeed an 



144: CERISE. 

avenue to the great house, and as he neared his 
destination he passed another glimpse of tropical 
scenery without a glance. It was the same view 
that delighted the eyes of the Marquise daily from 
her sitting-room, and that Cerise would look at 
in quiet enjoyment for hours. 

A slope of vivid green, dotted with almond-trees, 
stretched away from the long, low, white building 
to a broad, clear river, shining between the plan- 
tains and bananas that clothed its banks ; beyond 
these, cattle pasture and cane-pieces shot upward 
in variegated stripes through the tangled jungle of 
the steep ascent, while at short intervals hog-plum, 
or other tall trees of the forest, reared their heads 
-against the cloudless sky, to break the dark thick 
mass that clothed the mountain to its very summit 
— save where some open, natural savannah, with 
its crop of tall, rank, feathering grass, relieved the 
eye from the vivid colouring and gaudy exuberance 
of beauty in which nature dresses these West Indian 
slands. 

Bartoletti knew well that he should find the 
Marquise in her sitting-room, for the sun was still 
high and the heat intense; none therefore but 
slaves, slave-drivers, or overseers would be abroad 
for hours. The Sisrnor had however been reduced 



MONTMIRAIL WEST. 1 45 

to such proper subjection by Celandine that he 
never ventured to approach the Marquise without 
making a previous report to his wife, and as the 
Quadroon had not yet returned from the visit to 
Port Welcome, in which she made acquaintance 
with Slap-Jack, some considerable delay took 
place before the enormity of Fleurette's pecula- 
tions could be communicated to her mistress. 

3 [other and daughter were inseparable here, in 
the glowing tropical heat, as under the cool 
breezes and smilins: skies of their own beautiful 

o 

France, a land to which they constantly reverted 
with a longing that seemed only to grow more and 
more intense as every hour of their unwelcome 
banishment dragged by. 

They were sitting in a large low room, with the 
smallest possible amount of furniture and the 
greatest attainable of air. To insure a thorough 
draught, the apartment occupied the whole breadth 
of the house, and the windows, scarcely closed 
from year's-end to year's-end, were placed opposite 
each other, so that there was free ingress on all 
sides for the breeze that, notwithstanding the 
burning heat of the climate, blows pretty regularly 
in these islands from morning till night and from 
night till morning. It wafted through the whole 

vol. ir. L 



146 CERISE. 

apartment the fragrance of a large granadilla, cut 
in half for the purpose, that stood surrounded by a 
few shaddocks, limes, and pomegranates, heaped 
together like a cornucopia on a small table in the 
corner ; it fluttered the leaves of a book that lay- 
on Mademoiselle de Montmirail's knee, who was 
pretending to read with her eyes resting wearily 
on a streak of blue sea, far off between the 
mountains, and it lifted the dark hair from the 
temples of the Marquise, fanning with grateful 
breath, yet scarce cooling, the rich crimson of 
her cheek. 

The resemblance between these two grew closer 
day by day. While the mother remained stationary 
at that point of womanly beauty to which the 
daughter was approaching, figure and face, in each, 
became more and more alike ; and though the 
type of the elder was still the richer and more 
glowing, of the younger, the more delicate and 
classical, Cerise seemed unaccountably to have 
gained some of that spirit and vitality which the 
Marquise seemed as unaccountably to have lost. 

Also on the countenance of each might be 
traced the same expression, the longing, wistful 
look of those who live in some world of their own, 
out of and far beyond the present, saddened in the 



M0NTMIRA1L WEST. 147 

woman's face with memory as it was brightened in 
the girl's by hope. 

"It is suffocating !" exclaimed the former, rising 
restlessly from her seat, and pushing the hair off 
her temples with a gesture of impatience. '' Cerise, 
my darling, are you made of stone that you do not 
cry out at this insupportable heat ? It irritates me 
to see you sit reading there as calmly as if you 
could feel the wind blowing off the heights of 
Montrnartre in January. It seems as if the sun 
would never go down in this oven that they call an 
island." 

Cerise shut her book and collected her scattered 
ideas with an obvious effort. "I read, mamma," 
she answered smiling, " because it is less fatiguing 
than to think, but I obtain as little result from the 
one process as the other. Do you know, I begin to 
believe the stories we used to hear in Paris about 
the West Indies, and I am persuaded that we shall 
not only be shrivelled up to mummies in a few 
more weeks, but that our tongues will be so dry 
and cracked as to be incapable of expressing our 
thoughts, even if our poor addled brains could 
form them. Look at Pierrot even, who is a 
native ; he has not said a syllable since breakfast." 
Pierrot however, like the historical parrot of all 

L L> 



148 CERISE. 

ages, though silent on the present occasion, doubt- 
less thought the more, for the attitude in which he 
held his head on one side, peering at his young 
mistress with shrewd unwinking eye, implied 
perceptions more than human, nay, even diabolical 
in their malignant sagacity. 

"What can I do?" said the Marquise vehe- 
mently, pacing the long room with quick steps ill 
suited to the temperature and the occasion. "While 
the Regent lives I can never return to Paris. For 
myself, I sometimes fancy I could risk it ; but when 
I think of you, Cerise — I dare not — I dare not ; 
that's the truth. An insult, an injury, he might 
iorgive, or at least forget ; but a scene in which he 
enacted the part of the Pantaleone, whom every- 
body kicks and cuffs ; in which he was discovered 
as a coxcomb, an intruder, and a polisson, and 
through the whole of which he is conscious, more- 
over, that he was intensely ridiculous — I protest 
to you I cannot conceive any outrage so horrible 
as to satisfy his revenge. No, my child, for 
generations my family have served the Bourbons, 
and we should know what they are : with all their 
good qualities there are certain offences they can 
never forgive, and this Eegent is the worst of the 
line." 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 149 

"Then, mamma," observed Cerise cheerfully, 
though she smothered a sigh, ''we must have 
patience and live where we are. It might be 
worse/' she added, pointing to the streak of deep- 
blue sea that belted the horizon. "This is a 
wider view and a fairer than the dead wall of 
Yincennes or the gratings of the Bastile, and 
some day, perhaps, some of our friends from France 
may drop in quite unexpectedly to offer their 
homage to Madame la Marquise. How the dear 
old Prince-Marshal would gasp in this climate, 
and how dreadfully he would swear at the lizards, 
centipedes, galley-wasps, red ants, and cockroaches ! 
He who, brave as he is, never dared face a spider 
or an earwig ! Mamma, I think if I could see his 
face over a borer-worm, I should have one more 
good laugh, even in such a heat as this." 

"You might laugh, my dear,'' answered her 
mother, " but I think I should be more inclined to 
cry — yes, to cry for sheer joy at seeing him again. 
I grant you he was a little ridiculous ; but what 
courage ! what sincerity ! what a true gentleman ! 
I hear that he too is out of favour at the Palais 
Royal, and has returned to his estates at Chateau- 
Guerrand. His coach was seen near the Hotel 
Montinirail the night of Monsieur le Due's 



150 CERISE. 

creditable escapade, and that is crime enough, I 
conclude, to balance a dozen battles and forty 
years of loyal service to the throne. No, Cerise, I 
tell you while the monster lives we must remain 
exiled in this purgatory of fire. But my friends 
keep me well informed of passing events. I hear 
his health is failing. They tell me his face is 
purple now in the mornings when he comes to 
Council, and he drinks harder than ever with his 
roues at night. Of course, my child, it would be 
wicked to wish for the death of a fellow-creature, 
but while there is a Kegent in France you and I 
must be content with the lizards and the cock- 
roaches for society, and for amusement, the super- 
vision of these miserable, brutalized negro slaves." 

" Poor things !" said the younger lady tenderly. " I 
am sure they have kind hearts under their black 
skins. I cannot but think that if they were taught 
and encouraged, and treated less like beasts of 
burden, they would show as much intelligence as 
our own peasants at La Fierte or the real M ont- 
mirail. Why, Fleurette brought me a bouquet of 
jessamines and tuberoses yesterday, with a compli- 
ment to the paleness of my complexion that could 
not] have been outdone by Count Point d'Appui 
himself. Oh ! mamma, I wish you would let me 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 151 

establish my civil code for the municipal govern- 
ment of the blacks." 

"You had better let it alone, my child," 
answered the Marquise gravely. " Wiser brains 
than yours have puzzled over the problem, and 
failed to solve it. I have obtained all the informa- 
tion in my power from those whose experience is 
reliable, and considered it for myself besides, till my 
head ached. It seems to me that young colonists, 
and all who know nothing about negroes, are for 
encouragement and indulgence ; old planters, and 
those who are well acquainted with their nature, 
for severity and repression. I would not be cruel ; 
far from it. But as for treating them like white 
people, Cerise, in my opinion all such liberality is 
sheer nonsense. Jaques and Pierre, at home, are 
ill-fed, ill -clothed (I wish it were -not so), up early, 
down late, and working often without intermis- 
sion from sunrise till sunset ; nevertheless, Jaques 
or Pierre will doff his red cap, tuck up his blouse, 
and run a league bareheaded, after a hard day's 
work, if you or I lift up a finger; and why? — 
because we are La Fiertes or Montmirails. But 
Hippolyte or Achille, fat J strong, lazy, well-fed, 
grumbles if he is bid to carry a message to the 
boiling-house after his eight hours' labour, and only 






152 CERISE. 

obeys because he knows that Bartoletti can order 
him a hundred lashes by my authority at his 
discretion." 

" I do not like the Italian, mamma ! I am sure 
that man is not to be trusted," observed Cerise in- 
consequently, being a young lady. " What could 
make my dear old bonne marry him, I have never 
been able to discover. He is an alchemist, you 
know, and a conjuror, and worse. I shudder to 
think of the stories they told about him at home, 
and I believe he bewitched her !" 

Here Mademoiselle de Montmirail crossed her- 
self devoutly, and her mother laughed. 

"He is a very good overseer," said she, "and 
as for his necromancy, even if he learned it from 
the Prince of Darkness, which you seem to believe, 
I fancy Celandine would prove a match for his 
master. Between them, the Signor, as he calls 
himself, and his wife, manage my people wonder- 
fully well, and this is no easy matter at present, 
for I am sorry to say they show a good deal of 
insubordination and ill-will. There is a spirit of 
disaffection amongst them," added the Marquise, 
setting her red lips firmly together, "that must 
be kept down with the strong hand. I do not 
mind your going about amongst the house negroes, 



MOXTMIRAIL WEST. 153 

Cerise, or noticing the little children, though 
taking anything black on your lap is, in my 
opinion, an injudicious piece of condescension ; but 
I would not have you be seen near the field- 
gang at jDresent, men or women, and above all, 
never trust them. Not one is to be depended on 
except Celandine, for I believe they hate her as 
much as her husband, and fear her a great deal 
more." 

The Marquise had indeed cause for uneasiness 
as to the condition of her plantation, although she 
had never before hinted so much to her daughter, 
and indeed, like the generality of people who live 
on the crust of a volcano, she forced herself to 
ignore the danger of which she was yet uncomfort- 
ably conscious. For some time, perhaps ever since 
the arrival of the Italian overseer, there had been 
symptoms of discontent and disaffection among 
the slaves. The work indeed went on as usual, 
for Bartoletti was unsparing of the lash, but 
scarce a week passed without a runaway betak- 
ing himself to the bush, and vague threats, fore- 
runners of some serious outbreak, had been heard 
from the idlest and most mutinous of the gang 
when under punishment. It would not have been 
well in such difficulties to relax the bonds of 






154 CERISE. 

discipline, yet it was scarcely wise to draw them 
tighter than before. The Marquise, however, came 
of a race that had never yet learned to yield, and 
to which, for generations, the assertion of his rights 
by an inferior had seemed an intolerable presump- 
tion that must be resisted to the death. As her 
slaves, therefore, grew more defiant, she became 
more severe, and of late the slightest offences had 
been visited with the utmost rigour, and under no 
circumstances passed over without punishment. 
It was an unfortunate time therefore that poor 
Meurette had chosen to be detected in the ab- 
straction of a turkey ready plucked for cooking, 
and she could not have fallen into worse hands 
than those of the pitiless Italian overseer. 

The Marquise had scarce concluded her warn- 
ing, ere Bartoletti entered the sitting-room with 
his daily report.' His manner was extremely 
obsequious to Madame de Montrnirail, and polite 
beyond expression to mademoiselle. The former 
scarcely noticed his demeanour at any time ; the 
latter observed him narrowly, with the air of a 
child who watches a toad or any such object for 
which it feels an unaccountable dislike. 

Cerise usually left the room soon after the 
Signor entered it, but something in her mother's 



MONTMIRAIL WEST. 155 

face on the present occasion, as she ran her eye 
over the black book, induced her to remain. 

The Marquise read the punishment list twice ; 
frowned, hesitated, and looked discomposed. 

"It is her first offence?" said she, inquiringly. 
'• And the girl is generally active and well-behaved 
enough." 

"Pardon, Madame la Marquise," answered 
Bartoletti. " Madame forgave her only last week 
when she lost half a dozen of mademoiselle's 
handkerchiefs, that she had taken to wash; or 
said she lost them," he added pointedly. 

u Oh ! mamma !" interposed Cerise, but the 
Marquise checked her with a sign, and Bartoletti 
proceeded. 

a One of her brothers is at the head of a gang 
of Maroons* who infest the very mountains above 
our cane-pieces, and another ran away to join him 
last week. They say at the plantation we dare 
not punish any of the family, and I am pledged to 
make an example of the first that comes into my 
hands." 

"Very well," said the Marquise, decidedly, 
returning his black book to her overseer, and 

* Runaway negroes who join in bands and live by plunder in 
the wood*. 



156 CERISE. 

observing to Cerise, who was by this time in tears, 
M A case, my dear, that it would be most injudi- 
cious to pardon. After all, the pain is not much, 
and the disgrace, you know, to this sort of people 
is nothing !" 



CHAPTER XL 



BLACK, BUT COMELY. 




RANSPLANTED like some delicate 
flower from her native soil to this 
glowing West-Indian island, Mademoi- 
selle cle Montmirail had lost but little of 
the freshness that bloomed in the Norman con- 
vent, and had gained a more decided colouring 
and a deeper expression, which added the one 
womanly grace hitherto wanting in her beauty. 
Even the negroes, chattering to one another as 
they hoed between the cane-rows, grinned out their 
approval of her beauty, and Hippolyte, a gigantic 
and hideous Coromantee, imported from Africa, 
had been good enough to express his opinion that 
she only wanted a little more colour, as he called 
it, meaning a shade of yellow in her skin, to be 



158 CERISE. 

handsome enough for his wife; whereat his 
audience shouted and showed their white teeth, 
wagging their woolly heads applauding, while the 
savage shook his great black shoulders, and looked 
as if he thought more unlikely events might come 
to pass. 

Had it not been for these very slaves, who gave 
their opinions so freely on her personal appearance, 
Cerise would have been tolerably happy. She 
was, indeed, far from the scenes that were most 
endeared to her by memory and association. She 
was very uncertain when or how she should return 
to France, and until she returned, there was 
apparently no hope, however remote, that she 
could realize a certain dream which now con- 
stituted the charm of her whole life. Still the 
dream had been dreamed, vague, romantic, wild, 
and visionary ; yet the girl dwelt upon it day by 
day, with a tenderness and a constancy the deeper 
and the more enduring that they seemed so 
hopeless and so thrown away. 

I would not have it supposed, however, that 
Mademoiselle de Montmirail was a foolish love- 
sick maiden, who allowed her fancies to become 
the daily business of her life. On the contrary, 
she went through her duties scrupulously, making 



BLACK, BUT COMELY. 159 

for herself occupation where she did not find it, 
helping her mother, working, reading, playing, 
improving her mind, and doing all she could for 
the negroes on the estate, but tinging everything 
unconsciously, whether of joy or sorrow, trouble or 
pleasure, with the rosy light of a love she had 
conceived without reason, cherished without re- 
flection, and now brooded over without hope, in 
the depths of her own heart. 

But although the welfare of the slaves afforded 
her continual occupation, and probably prevented 
her becoming utterly wearied and overpowered by 
the sameness of her daily life, their wilfulness, 
their obstinacy, their petulant opposition to every 
experiment she was disposed to try for their 
moral and physical benefit, occasioned her mairy an 
hour of vexation and depression. Above all, the 
frequency of corporal punishment, a necessity of 
which she was dimly conscious, but would by no 
means permit herself to acknowledge, cut her to 
the heart. Silently and earnestly she would think 
over the problem, to leave it unsolved at last, 
because she could not but admit that the dictates 
of her feelings were opposed to the conclusions of 
her reason. Then she would wish she had abso- 
lute power on the plantation, would form vague 



160 CERISE. 

schemes for the enlightenment of their own people 
and the enfranchisement of every negro as he 
landed, till, having once entered on the region of 
romance, she would pursue her journey to its usual 
termination, and see herself making the happiness 
of every one about her, none the less earnestly 
that the desire of her own heart was granted, her 
schemes, her labours, all her thoughts and feelings 
shared by the Grey Musketeer, whom yet it 
seemed so improbable she was ever to see again. 

It wanted an hour of sunset. The evening 
breeze had set in with a refreshing breath that 
fluttered the skirt of her white muslin dress and 
the pink ribbons on her wide straw hat, as Made- 
moiselle de Montmirail strolled towards the negro- 
houses, carrying a tisane she had herself prepared 
for Aunt Rosalie's sick child. The slaves were 
already trooping down from the cane-pieces, 
laughing, jesting, singing, carrying their tools over 
their shoulders and their baskets or calabashes on 
their heads. A fat little negro of some eight years 
old, who reminded Cerise of certain bronze casts 
that held wax-lights in the Hotel Montmirail, and 
who was indeed little less sparingly clad than 
those works of art, came running by, his saucy- 
features shining with a merry excitement, in such 



BLACK, BUT COMELY. 161 

haste that he could only pull himself up to make 
her a droll little reverence when he was almost 
under her feet. She recognized him as an elder 
brother of the very infant she was about to visit, 
and asked if baby was any better, but the child 
seemed so intent on some proceeding of his own 
that she could not extort an answer. 

w What is it, Hercule ?" said she, laying her 
white hand on the little knotted woolly head. 
""Where are you off to in such a hurry? Is it a 
dance at the negro-houses, or a merry-making in 
the Square ?" 

The Square was a clear space, outside the huts of 
the field negroes, devoted to occasions of unusual 
display, and Hercule's thoughts were as obviously 
turned in that direction as his corpulent little 
person. 

" Better bobbery nor dance," answered the imp, 
looking up earnestly in her face. "M'amselle 
Fleurette tied safe to howling-tree ! Massa 
Hippolyte, him tall black nigger, floggee criss-cross. 
So ! Make dis good little nigger laugh, why for, I 
go see !" and away scampered Hercule as fast as 
his short legs would carry him, followed by Cerise, 
who felt her cheek paling and her blood tingling 
to her fingers'-ends. 

VOL. II. M 



162 CERISE. 

But Aunt Rosalie's baby never got the tisane, for 
Mademoiselle de Montmirail spilt it all as she 
hurried on. 

Coming beyond the rows of negro-houses, she 
found a large assemblage of slaves, both men and 
women, ranged in a circle, many of the latter 
being seated on the ground, with their children 
crawling about their feet, while the fathers looked 
over the heads of their families, grinning in 
curiosity and delight. 

They were all eager to enjoy one of those 
spectacles to which the Square, as they chose to 
call it, was especially devoted. 

In the centre of this open space, with the saffron 
light of a setting sun full upon her closed eyes and 
contracted features, cowered poor Fleurette, naked 
to the waist, secured hand and foot to a strong 
upright post which prevented her from falling, 
with her wrists tied together and drawn to a level 
somewhat higher than her head, so that she was 
unable even to contract her shoulders for protection 
from the lash. Though her shapely dark form 
and bosom were thus exposed, she seemed to feel 
less shame than fear ; but the reason was now 
obvious why she had shrunk with such unusual 
terror from her odious and degrading punishment. 



BLACK, BUT COMELY. 163 

Looking on with callous indifference, and hold- 
ing his black book in his hand, stood Bartoletti, 
austerely satisfied with this public recognition of his 
authority, but little interested in the result, save 
as it affected the length of time, more or less, 
during which the victim would be incapacitated 
from service. 

Behind the girl, and careful to remain at such a 
distance as allowed room for the sweep of his right 
arm. was stationed the most hideous figure in the 
scene : a tall powerful Coromantee negro, African- 
born, with all his savage propensities intensified by 
food, servitude, and the love of rum. He bran- 
dished a long-lashed, knotted whip in his broad 
hand, and eyeing the pliant shrinking figure 
before him, grinned like a demon in sheer desire 
of blood. 

He was to take his cue from the overseer. At 
the moment Cerise rounded the last of the ne°ro- 
houses and came into full view of this revolting 
spectacle, Bartoletti's harsh Italian voice grated on 
the silence — " One !" 

Hippolyte, such was the Coroman tee's inappro- 
priate name, drew himself back, raised his brawny 
arm, and the lash fell with a dull jerk, deadened 
by the flesh into which it cut. 

m 2 



164 CERISE. 

There was a faint moan, and the poor back 
quivered in helpless agony. 

Cerise, in her white dress, burst through the 
sable circle like a flash. 

" Two !" grated that harsh voice, and again the 
cruel lash came down, but it was dripping now 
with blood, and a long wailing shriek arose that 
would not be suppressed. 

" Halte Id /" exclaimed Mademoiselle de Mont- 
mirail, standing in the midst, pale, trembling, 
dilated, and with fire flashing from her blue 
eyes. " Take that girl down ! this instant ! I 
command it! Let me see who will dare to 
disobey !" 

Even Hippolyte shrunk back, like some grotesque 
fiend rebuked. -Bartoletti strove to expostulate, 
but somehow he was awed by the beauty of that 
holy wrath, so young, so fair, so terrible, and he 
dared not lift his eyes to meet those scorching 
looks. He cowered, he trembled, he signed to two 
negro women to obey mademoiselle, and then 
slunk doggedly away. 

Cerise passed her arm caressingly round 
Fleurette's neck, she wiped the poor torn shoul- 
ders with her own laced handkerchief, she rested 
the dark woolly head on her bosom, and lifting 



BLACK, BUT COMELY. 165 

the slave's face to her own, kissed her, once, twice, 
tenderly and pitifully on the lips. 

Then Fleurette's tears gushed out : she sank to 
her young mistress's knees, she grovelled at her 
very feet, she kissed them, she hugged them, she 
pressed them to her eyes and mouth ; she vowed, 
she sobbed, she protested, and, at least while her 
passion of gratitude and affection lasted, she spoke 
no more than the truth when she declared that 
she asked no better than to consecrate every drop 
of blood in her body, her life, her heart, her soul, 
to the service of Mademoiselle de Montmirail. 




CHAPTER XII. 



A WISE CHILD. 




HE < Bashful Maid ' was still lying 
peacefully at anchor in the harbour 
of Port Welcome, yards squared, sails 
furled, decks polished to a dazzling 
white, every article of gear and tackle denoting 
profound repose, even the very pennon from her 
truck drooping motionless in the heat. Captain 
George spent much of his time below, making up 
his accounts, with the invaluable assistance of 
Beaudesir, who, having landed soon after their 
arrival, remained an hour or two in the town, and 
returned to the brigantine, expressing no desire for 
further communication with the shore. 

George himself postponed his visit to the island 
until he had completed the task on which he was 



A WISE CHILD. 167 

engaged. In the meantime he gave plenty of 
liberty to the crew, an indulgence of which none 
availed themselves more freely than Slap- Jack and 
his two friends. 

These last indeed seldom stirred beyond the 
town. Here they found all they wanted in the 
shape of luxury or amusement: strong tobacco, 
new rum, an occasional scrape of a fiddle with a 
thrumming accompaniment on the banjo, nothing 
to do, plenty to drink, and a large room to smoke in. 
But the foretop-man was not so easily satisfied. 
Much to the disgust of his comrades, he seemed to 
weary of their society, to have lost his relish for 
fiery drinks and sea stories ; nay, to have acquired 
diverse tastes and ha~bits, foreign to his nature and 
derogatory to his profession. 

" Gone cruisin' thereaway," observed BottlS- Jack, 
vaguely waving his pipe in the direction of the 
mountains. " Never taken no soundings, nor kept 
no dead reckoning, nor signalled for a pilot, but 
just up foresail, drive-a-head, stem on, happy-go- 
lucky, an' who cares !" While Smoke- Jack, puffing 
out solemn clouds of fragrant Trinidado, enunciated 
sententiously that he " Warn't a goin' to dispute 
but what every craft should hoist her own ensign 
an' lay her own course ; but when he see a able 



168 CERISE. 

seaman clearing out from such a berth as this 
here, leaving the stiffest of grog and the strongest 
of ' bacca ' a-cause of a old yaller woman with a 
red burgee, why, he knowed the trim on 'em, that 
was where it was. See if it wasn't. Here's my 
service to you, mate — All ships at sea !" 

Long ere the two stanch friends, however, had 
arrived at this intelligible conclusion, the object of 
their anxiety was half-way up the mountain, in 
fulfilment of the promise he had made Celandine 
to meet her at an appointed place. 

In justice to Slap-Jack, it is but fair to admit 
that his sentiments in regard to the Quadroon were 
those of keen curiosity mingled with pity for the 
obvious agitation under which she seemed to labour 
in his presence. Fair Alice herself, far off in her 
humble home among the downs, need not have 
grudged the elder woman an hour of her young 
seaman's society, although every minute of it 
seemed so strangely prized by this wild, energetic, 
and mysterious person, with her swarthy face, her 
scarlet head-dress, and her flashing eyes, gleaming 
with the fierce anxious tenderness of a leopardess 
separated from her whelps. 

Slap-Jack's sea legs had hardly time to become 
fatigued, ere at a turn in the mountain-path he 



A WISE CHILD. 169 

found Celandine waiting for him, and somewhat to 
his disgust, peering about in every direction, as if 
loth to be observed ; a clandestine interpretation of 
their harmless meeting which roused the young 
seaman's ire, and against which he would have 
vehemently protested, had she not placed her hand 
over his mouth and implored him urgently, though 
in a whisper, to keep silence. Then she bade him 
follow, still below her breath, and so preceded him 
up the steep ascent with cautious, stealthy steps, 
but at a pace that made the foretop-man's un- 
accustomed knees shake and his breath come 
quick. 

The sun was hot, the mountain high, the path 
overgrown with cactus and other prickly plants, 
tangled with creepers and not devoid of snakes. 
Monkeys chattered, parrots screamed, glittering 
insects quivered like tinsel in the sun, or darted 
like flashes of coloured light across the forest- 
shade. Vistas of beauty, such as he had never 
dreamed of, opened out on either side, and looking 
back more than once to take breath while he 
ascended, the deep blue sea lay spread out beneath 
him, rising broader and broader to meet the blue 
transparent sky. 

But Slap-Jack, truth to tell, was sadly indifferent 



170 CERISE. 

to it all. Uneasiness of the legs sadly counteracted 
pleasure of the eye. It was with considerable 
gratification that he observed his leader diverge 
from the upward path, and rounding the shoulder 
of the hill, take a direction .somewhat on the 
downward slope. Then he wiped his brows, with 
a sigh of relief, and asked audibly enough for 
something to drink. 

She seemed less afraid of observation now, 
although she did not comply with his request, but 
pointed downward to a dark hollow, from which 
ascended a thin, white, spiral line of smoke, the 
only sign denoting human habitation in the midst 
of this luxuriant wilderness of tropical growth aud 
fragrance. Then, parting the branches with both 
hands, she dived into the thicket, to stop at the 
door of a hut, so artfully concealed amongst the 
dense luxuriant foliage that a man might have 
passed within five yards and never known it was 
there but for the smoke. 

Celandine closed the door cautiously behind her 
visitor, handed him a calabash of water, into which 
she poured some rum from a goodly stone jar — 
holding at least a gallon — watched him eagerly 
while he drank, and when he set the measure 
down, flung both arms round his neck, and kissing 



A WISE CHILD. 171 

him all over the eyes and face, murmured in 
fondest accents — 

" Do you not know why I have brought you 
here ? Do you not know who and what you are ?" 

" I could have told you half an hour back," 
answered Slap-Jack, with a puzzled air, " but so 
many queer starts happen hereaway, mother, that 
I'm blessed if I can tell you now." 

Tears shone in the fierce black eyes that never 
left his face, but seemed to feast on its comeliness 
with the desire of a famished appetite for food. 

" Call me mother again !" exclaimed the Qua- 
droon. " You called me mother down yonder at 
the store, and my heart leaped to hear the word. 
Sit ye down, my darling, there in the light, where 
I can see your innocent face. How like you are 
to your father, my boy ! You've got his own bold 
eyes, and broad shoulders, and large, strong hands. 
I could not be deceived. I knew you from the 
first. Tell me true ; you guessed who I was. You 
would never have gone up to a stranger as you did 
to me !" 

Slap-Jack looked completely mystified. Wisely 
reflecting, however, that if a woman be left 
uninterrupted she will never " belay," as he 
subsequently observed, "till she has payed out the 



1 72 CERISE. 

whole of her yarn," he took another pull at the 
rum-and -water, and held his peace. 

" Look about you, boy," continued Celandine, 
" and mark the wild, mysterious retreat I have 
made myself, on your account alone. No other 
white man has ever entered the Obi-woman's hut. 
Not a negro in the island but shakes with fear 
when he approaches that low doorway; not one 
but leaves a gift behind when he departs. And 
now, chance has done for the Obi-woman that 
which all her perseverance and all her cunning 
had failed to effect. Influence I have always had 
amongst the blacks, for I am of their kindred, and 
they believe that I possess supernatural powers. 
You need not smile, boy. I can sometimes foretel 
the future so far as it affects others, though blindly 
ignorant where it regards myself; just as a man 
reads his neighbour's face clearly, though he can- 
not see his own. All my influence I have devoted 
to the one great object of making money. For 
that, I left my sunny home to live years in the 
bleak, cold plains of France; for that, I sold 
myself in my old age to one whom I could not 
care for, even in my youth ; for that, I have been 
tampering of late with the most desperate and 
dangerous characters in the island; and money I 



; 



A WISE CHILD. 173 

only valued because, without it, I feared I could 
never find my boy. Listen, my darling, and learn 
how a mother's love outlives the fancy of youth, 
the devotion of womanhood, and the covetousness 
of old age. Look at me now, child. It is not so 
long since men have told me — even in France, 
where they profess to understand such matters — 
that I retained my attractions still. You may 
believe that thirty years ago the Quadroon of 
Cash-a-crou, as they called her, had suitors, lovers 
and admirers by the score. Somehow, I laughed 
at them all. It seemed to me that a man's affec- 
tion for a girl only lasted while she despised him, 
and I resolved that no weakness of my own 
should ever bring me down a single step from the 
vantage-ground I held. Planters, overseers, coun- 
cillors, judges, all were at my feet ; not a white 
man in the island but would have given three 
months' pay for a smile from the yellow girl at 
Cash-a-crou ; and the yellow girl — slave though she 
was — carried her head high above them all. 

'• Well, one bright morning, a week before crop- 
time, a fine large ship, twice the size of that 
brigantine in the harbour, came and dropped her 
anchor off the town. The same night her sailors 
gave a dance at one of the negro-houses in Port 



174 CERISE. 

Welcome. I never hear a banjo in the still, calm 
evenings but it thrills to my very marrow still, 
though it will be five-and-twenty long years, when 
the canes are cut, since I went into that dancing- 
room a haughty, wilful beauty, and came out a 
humble, love-stricken maid. Turn a bit more to 
the light, my boy, that I may look into your blue 
eyes; they shine like his, when he came across 
the floor and asked me to dance. I've heard the 
Frenchwomen say that it takes a long time for a 
man to win his way into a girl's heart. Theirs is 
a cold country, and they have no African blood in 
their veins. All I know is, that your father had 
not spoken half-a-dozen words ere I felt for him 
as I never felt for any creature on earth before. 
I'd have jumped off the Sulphur Mountain, and 
never thought twice about it, if he had asked me. 
When we walked home together in the moonlight — 
for he begged hard to see me safe to my own door, 
and you may think I wasn't very difficult to persuade 
— I told him honestly that I had never loved any 
man but him, and never would love another, come 
what might. He looked down into my eyes for a 
moment astonished, just as you look now, and 
then he smiled — no face ever I saw had such a 
smile as your father's — and wound his great strong 



A WISE CHILD. 175 

arm round my waist, and pressed me to his heart. 
I was happy then. If I might live over just one 
minute of my life again, it should be that first 
minute when I felt I belonged no more to myself, 
but to him. 

"So we were married by an old Spanish priest i 
the little white chapel between the lighthouse and 
the town — yes, married right enough, my boy, never 
doubt it, though I was but a slave. 

" I do not know how a great lady like our Marquise 
feels who can give herself and all her possessions, 
proudly and in public, to the man she loves, but 
she ought to be very happy. I was very happy, 
though I might only meet your father by stealth, 
and with the fear of a punishment I shuddered to 
think of before my eyes. I thought of it very often 
too, yet not without pride and pleasure, to risk it 
all for his sake. What I dreaded far worse than 
punishment— worse than death, was the day his 
ship would sail, and though she lay weeks and 
months refitting in the harbour, that day arrived 
too soon. Never tell me people die of grief, my 
boy, since I came off the hill alive when I had 
seen the last of those white sails. I could have 
cursed the ship for taking him away, and yet I 
blessed her for his sake. 

" There was consolation for me too. I had his 



176 CERTSE. 

solemn promise to come back again, and I'll never 
believe but he would have kept it had he been 
alive. Nothing shall persuade me that my brave, 
blue-eyed Englishman has not been sleeping many 
a long year, rolled in his hammock, under the deep, 
dark sea. It was well the conviction came on me 
by degrees that I was never to see him again. I 
should have gone mad if I had known it that last 
night when he bade me keep my heart up, and 
trust him to the end. After a while I fretted less, 
for my time was near, and my beautiful boy was 
born. Such an angel never lay on a mother's knees. 
My son, my son, you have the same eyes, and the 
same sweet smile still. I knew you that day in the 
street, long before I turned your collar down, and 
saw the little white mark like an anchor on your 
neck. How proud I was of you, and how I longed 
to show my sturdy, blue-eyed boy, who began to 
speak at eleven months, to every mother in the 
island, but I dared not — I dared not, for your sake 
more than for my own. I was cunning then — ay, 
cunning, and brave, and enduring as a panther. 
They never found me out — they never so much as 
suspected me. I had money, plenty of it, and in- 
fluence too, with one man at least, who would have 
put his hand in the fire, coward as I think he is, if 
I had only made him a sign. With his help, I 



A WISE CHILD. 177 

concealed the existence of ray boy from every crea- 
ture on the plantation — black or white. In his 
house I used to come and nurse you, dear, and play 
with you by the hour together. That man is my 
husband now, and I think he deserves a better 
fate. 

"At last he was forced to leave the island, and 
then came another parting, worse than the first. 
It was only for myself I grieved when I lost your 
father, but when I was forced to trust my beautiful 
boy to the care of another, to cross the sea, to sleep 
in strange beds, to be washed and dressed by other 
hands, perhaps to meet with hard words and angry 
looks, or worse still, to clasp his pretty arms about a 
nurse's neck, and to forget the mother that bore him, 
I thought my heart would break. My boy, there 
is no such thing — I tell you again, these are fables 
— grief does not kill. 

"For a long time I heard regularly of your wel- 
fare, and paid liberally for the good news. I was 
sure the man to whom I had intrusted you looked 
upon me as his future wife, and though I hated him 
for the thought, I — who loved that bold, strong, out- 
spoken sailor — I permitted it, I encouraged it, for 
I believed it would make him kinder to my boy. 
When you were a little older, I meant to buy my 

VOL. II. N 



178 CERISE. 

own freedom, and take you with me to live in Europe 
— wherever you could be safe. 

" At last a ship sailed into Port Welcome, and 
brought no letter for me, no news of my child. 
Another, and yet another, till months of longing, 
sickening anxiety had grown to years, and I was 
nearly mad with fear and pain. The father I had 
long despaired of, but I thought I was never to be 
used so hardly as to lose the child. 

"I tell you again, my boy, grief does not kill. I 
lived on, but I was a different creature now. My 
youth was gone, my beauty became terrible rather 
than attractive. I possessed certain powers. that 
rendered me an object of dread more than love, and 
here, in this very hut, I devoted myself to the prac- 
tice of Obi, and the study of that magic which has 
made the name of Celandine a word of fear to 
every negro in the island. 

iC One only aim, one only hope, kept me from 
going mad. Money I was resolved to possess, the 
more the better, for by the help of money alone, I 
thought, could I ever gain tidings of my boy. The 
slaves paid well in produce for the amulets and 
charms I sold them. That produce I converted into 
coin, but it came in too slow. In Europe I might 
calculate on better opportunities for gain, and to 



A WISE CHILD. 179 

Europe I took the first opportunity of sailing, that 
I might join the mistress I had never seen, as at- 
tendant on her and her child. In their service I 
have remained to this day. The mother I have 
always respected for her indomitable courage ; the 
daughter I loved from the first for her blue eyes, 
that reminded me of my boy. 

" And now look at me once more, my child — my 
darling. I have found you when I had almost left 
off hoping ; I have got you when I never expected 
to see you again ; and I am rewarded at last !" 

Slap-Jack, whose sentiments of filial affection 
came out the mellower for rum-and-water, accepted 
the Quadroon's endearments with sufficient affa- 
bility, and being naturally a good-hearted, easy- 
going fellow, gladly enacted the part of dutiful son 
to a mother who had suffered such long anxiety on 
his account. 

"A-course," said he, returning her embrace, 
" now you've got a son, you ain't a-goin' to keep 
him in this here round-house, laid up in lavender 
like, as precious as a Blue Mountain monkey 
pickled in rum. We'll just wait here a bit, you and 
me, safe and snug, while the land-breeze holds, and 
then drop easily down into the town, rouse out my 
shipmates, able seamen every man of them, and 

N 2 



180 CERISE. 

go in for a regular spree. 'Tain't every day as a 
chap finds his mother, you know, and such a start 
as this here didn't ought to be passed over without 
a bobbery." 

She listened to him delighted. His queer 
phrases were sweet in her ears ; to her they were 
no vulgar sea-slang, but the echo of a love- 
music that had charmed her heart, and drowned 
her senses half a lifetime ago ; that rang with 
something of the old thrilling vibration still; 
but the wild look of terror that had scared him 
more than once gleamed again in her eyes, and 
she laid her hand on his shoulder as if to keep him 
down by force, while she whispered — " My child, 
not so ! How rash, how reckless ! Just like your 
father ; but he, at least, had not your fate to fear. 
Do you not see your danger ? Can you not guess 
why I concealed your birth, hid you up in your 
babyhood, and smuggled you out of the island as 
soon as you could run ? Born of a slave, on a slave 
estate, do you not know, my boy, that you, too, are 
a slave ?" 

" Gammon ! mother," exclaimed Slap- Jack, no- 
thing daunted. " What me f — captain of the foretop 
aboard 'The Bashful Maid'— six guns on the main- 
deck, besides carronades — master and owner, Cap- 



A WISE CHILD. 181 

tain George ! and talk to me as if I was one of 
them darkies wot does mule's«work with monkey's 
allowance ! Who's to come and take me, I should 
like to know ? Let 'em heave a-head an' do it, 
that's all — a score at a spell if they can muster 'em. 
I'll show 'em pretty quick what sort of a slave they 
can make out of an able seaman !" 

" Hush, hush !" she exclaimed, listening earnestly, 
and with an expression of intense fear contracting 
her worn features ; " I can hear them coming 
— negroes by the footfall, and a dozen at least. 
They will be at the door in five minutes. They 
have turned by the old hog-plum now. As 
you love your life, my boy ; nay, as you love your 
mother, who has pined and longed for you 
all these years, let me hide you away in there. 
You will be safe. Trust me, you will be safe 
enough ; the} 7 will never think of looking for 
you there !" 

So speaking, and notwithstanding much good- 
humoured expostulation and resistance from Slap- 
jack, who, treating the whole affair as a jest, was 
yet inclined to fight it out all the same, Celandine 
succeeded in pushing her son into an inner division 
of the hut, containing only a bed-place, shut off by 



182 CERISE. 

a strong wooden door. This she closed hurriedly 
at the very moment a dozen pattering footsteps 
halted outside, and a rough negro voice, in accents 
more imperative than respectful, demanded instant 
admission. 




CHAPTER XIII. 



JACK A-GROUND. 




PENING the door with a yawn, and 
stretching her arms like one lately 
roused from sleep, the Quadroon 
found herself face to face with the 
Coromantee, backed by nearly a score of negroes, 
the idlest and most dissolute slaves on the estate. 
All seemed more or less intoxicated, and Celandine, 
who knew the African character thoroughly, by no 
means liked their looks. She was aware that 
much disaffection existed in the plantation, and 
the absence of this disorderly gang from their 
work at so early an hour in the afternoon argued 
something like open revolt. It would have been 
madness, however, to show fear, and the Obi- 
woman possessed, moreover, a larger share of 



184 CERISE. 

physical courage than is usual with her sex : 
assuming, therefore, an air of extreme dignity, she 
stationed herself in the doorway and demanded 
sternly what they wanted. 

Hippolyte, who seemed to be leader of the 
party, doffed his cabbage-tree hat with ironical 
politeness, and pointing over his shoulder at 
two grinning negroes laden with plantains and 
other garden produce, came to business at 
once. 

" We buy, — you sell, Missee Celandine. Same 
as storekeeper down Port Welcome. Fust ask 
gentlemen step in, sit down, take something to 
drink." 

There was that in his manner which made her 
afraid to refuse, and inviting the whole party 
to enter, she accommodated them with difficulty in 
the hut. Reviewing her assembled guests, the 
Quadroon's heart sank within her; but she was 
conscious of possessing cunning and courage, so 
summoned both to her aid. 

A negro, under excitement from whatever cause, 
is a formidable-looking companion. Those animal 
points of head and countenance, by which he is 
distinguished from the white man, then assume an 
unseemly prominence. The lips thicken, the temples 



JACK A-GROUND. 185 

swell, the eves roll, the brow seems to recede, and 
the whole face alters for the worse, like that of a 
vicious horse, when he lays his ears back, prepared 
to kick. 

Celandine's visitors displayed all these alarming 
signs, and several other disagreeable peculiarities, 
the result of partial intoxication. Some of them 
carried axes, she observed, and all had knives. 
Their attire too, though of the gaudiest colours, 
was extremely scanty, ragged, and unwashed. 
They jested with one another freely enough, as 
they sat huddled together on the floor of the hut, 
but showed little of the childish good-humour 
common among prosperous and well-ordered slaves ; 
while she augured the worst, from the absence of 
that politeness which, to do him justice, is a 
prominent characteristic of the negro. Neverthe- 
less, she dissembled her misgivings, affected an air 
of dignified welcome, handed round the calabash, 
with its accompanying stone bottle, to all in turn, 
and felt but little reassured to find that the rum 
was nearly exhausted when it had completed the 
circle. 

" Thirteen gentlemen, Missee Celandine," ob- 
served the Coromantee, tossing off his measure of 
raw spirits with exceeding relish ; " thirteen charms, 



186 CERISE. 

best Obi-woman can furnish for the price, 'gainst evil 
eye, snake-bite, jumbo-stroke, fire, water, and cold 
steel, all 'counted for, honourable, in dem plantain 
baskets. Hi ! you lazy nigger, pay out. Say, again, 
missee, what day this of the month ?" 

Celandine affected to consider. 

" The thirteenth," she answered gravely ; " the 
most unlucky day in the whole year." 

Hippolyte's black face fell. "Golly !" said he. 
" Unlucky ! for why ? for what ? Dis nigger laugh at 
luck," he added, brightening up and turning what 
liquor was left in the stone bottle down his own 
throat. " Lookee here, missee ; you Obi-woman, 
right enough ; you nigger too, yaller all same as 
black : you go pray Jumbo for luck. All paid for 
in dat basket. Pray Jumbo no rain to-night, put 
um fire out. Our work, make bobbery; your 
work, stay up mountain where spirit can hear, and 
pray Jumbo till monkeys wake." 

A suspicion that had already dawned on the 
Quadroon's mind was now growing horribly distinct. 
It was obvious some important movement must be 
intended by the gang that filled her hut, and there 
was every fear a general rising might take place of 
all the slaves on the plantation, if indeed the 
insurrection spread no further than the Mont- 



JACK A-G ROUND. 187 

mirail estate. She knew, none better, the nature 
of the half-reclaimed savage. She thought of her 
courageous, high-souled mistress, of her delicate, 
beautiful nursling, and shivered while she pictured 
them in the power of this huge black monster who 
sat grinning at her over the empty calabash. She 
even forgot for the moment her own long-lost son, 
hidden up within six feet of her, and the double 
danger he would run in the event of detection. 
She could only turn her mind in one direction, and 
that was, where madame and mademoiselle were 
sitting, placid and unconscious, in the rich white 
dresses her own fingers had helped to make. 

Their possible fate was too horrible to contem- 
plate. She forced it from her thoughts, and with 
all her power of self-concentration, addressed her- 
self to the means of saving them at any cost. In 
such an emergency as the present, surrounded, 
and perhaps suspected, by the mutineers, dissimula- 
tion seemed her only weapon left, and to dissimula- 
tion she betook herself without delay. 

"Hippolyte," said she, "you are a good soldier. 
You command all these black fellows ; I can see it 
in your walk. I always said you had the air of an 
officer of France." 

The Coromantee seemed not insensible to flattery. 



188 CERISE. 

He grinned, wagged his head, rolled his eyes, and 
was obviously well pleased. 

" Dese niggers make me deir colonel," said he, 
springing from the floor to an attitude of military 
attention. " Hab words of command like buckra 
musketeer. Par file a droite — Marche ! Volte- 
face ! Run for your lives !" 

" I knew it," she replied, " and you ought to 
have learned already to trust your comrades. Are 
we not in the same ranks ? You say yourself, 
yellow and black are all one. You and I are near 
akin ; your people are the people of my mother's 
mother ; whom you trust, I trust ; whom you hate, 
I hate, but far more bitterly, because my injuries 
are older and deeper than yours." 

He opened his eyes wondering, but the rum had 
taken effect, and nothing, not even the Quadroon's 
disloyalty to her mistress, seemed improbable now. 
An Obi-woman too, if really in earnest, he con- 
sidered a valuable auxiliary ; so signed his ap- 
proval by another grin and a grunt of acquiescence. 

"I live but for one object now," continued 
Celandine, in a tone of repressed fury that did credit 
to her power of acting. " I have been waiting all my 
life for my revenge, and it seems to have come at 
last. The Marquise should have given me my 



JACK A -GROUND. ISO 

freedom long ago if she wished me to forgive. 
Ay, they may call me 3Iustee, but I am black, black 
as yourself, my brave Hippolyte, at heart. She 
struck me once, — I tell you, struck me with her 
riding-whip, far away yonder in France, and I will 
have her blood." 

It is needless to observe this imputed violence 
was a fabrication for the especial benefit of 
Hippolyte, and the energy with which he pro- 
nounced the ejaculation, " Golly ! " denoted that 
he placed implicit reliance on its truth. 

" You are brave," continued Celandine ; " you 
are strong ; you are the fine tall negro whom we call 
the Pride of the Plantation. You do not know what 
it is to hate like a poor weak woman. I would have 
no scruple, no mercy ; I would spare none, neither 
madame nor mademoiselle." 

•' Ma'amselle come into woods with me," inter- 
rupted Hippolyte, with a horrible leer. "Good 
enough wife for Pride of Plantation. Lilly face 
look best by um side of black man. Ma'amselle 
guess me come for marry her. When floggee 
Fleurette, look at me so, afore all de niggers, sweet 
as molasses !" 

Again Celandine shivered. The wretch's vanity 
would have been ludicrous, had he not been so 



190 CEKISE. 

formidable from his recklessness, and the authority- 
he seemed to hold over his comrades. She pre- 
pared to learn the worst. 

" They will both be in our power to-night, I 
suppose," said she, repressing with a strong effort 
her disgust and fierce desire to snatch his long 
knife and stab him where he stood. " Tell me 
your plan of attack, my brave colonel, and trust 
me to help you to the utmost." 

The Coromantee looked about him suspiciously, 
rolling his eyes in obvious perplexity. The super- 
stition inherent in his nature made him desirous of 
obtaining her assistance, while the Quadroon's 
antecedents, and particularly her marriage with 
the overseer, seemed to infer that she would prove 
less zealous than she affected to be in the cause of 
insurrection. He made up his mind therefore to 
bind her by an oath, which he himself dictated, 
and made her swear by the mysterious power she 
served, and from which she derived her influence, 
to be true, silent, and merciless, till the great event 
had been accomplished, all the whites in authority- 
massacred, and the whole estate in the power of 
the slaves. Every penalty, both horrible and 
ludicrous, that the grotesque imagination of a 
savage could devise, was called down upon her 



JACK A-GROUND. 191 

head in the event of treachery ; and Celandine, 
who was a sufficiently good Catholic at heart, 
swallowed all these imprecations imperturbably 
enough, pledging herself without the slightest 
hesitation to the conspiracy. 

Then Hippolyte was satisfied and unfolded his 
plans, while the others gathered round with fearful 
interest, wagging their heads, rolling their eyes, 
grinning, stamping, and ejaculating deep gutturals 
of applause. 

His scheme was feasible enough ; nor to one who 
knew no scruples of gratitude, no instincts of com- 
mon, did it present any important obstacles. 
He was at the head of an organized body, com- 
prising nearly all the male slaves on the plantation ; 
a body prepared to rise at a moment's notice, if 
only assured of success. The dozen negroes who 
accompanied him had constituted themselves his 
guards, and were pledged to strike the first 
blow, at his command. They were strong, able- 
bodied, sensual, idle, dissolute, unscrupulous, 
and well enough fitted for their enterprise, 
but that they were arrant cowards, one and 
all. As, however, little resistance could be 
anticipated, this poltroonery was the more to 
be dreaded by their victims, that in the hour 



192 CERISE. 

of triumph it would surely turn to cruelty and 
excess. 

Hippolyte, who was not deficient in energy, had 
also been in communication with the disaffected 
slaves on the adjoining estates ; these too were 
sworn to rise at a given signal, and the Coromantee, 
feeling that his own enterprise could scarcely fail, 
entertained a fervent hope that in a few hours the 
whole of the little island, from sea to sea, would be 
in possession of the negroes, and he himself 
chosen as their chief. The sack and burning of 
Port Welcome, the massacre of the planters and 
abduction of their families, were exciting little 
incidents of the future, on which he could hardly 
trust himself to dwell ; but the first step in the 
great enterprise was to be taken at Montmirail 
West, and to its details Celandine now listened 
with a horror that, while it curdled her blood, she 
was forced to veil under a pretence of zeal and 
enthusiasm in the cause. 

Her only hope was n the brigantine. Her 
early associations had taught her to place implicit 
reliance on a boat's-crew of English sailors, and if 
she could but delay the attack until she had 
communicated with the privateer, mademoiselle, 
for it was of mademoiselle she chiefly thought, 



JACK A-GROUND. [93 

might be rescued even yet. If she could but 
speak to her son, lying within three feet of her ! 
If she could but make him understand the emer- 
gency ! How she trusted he overheard their con- 
versation ! How she prayed he might not have 
been asleep the whole time ! 

Hippolyte's plan of attack was simple enough. 
It would be dark in a couple of hours. Long- 
before then, he and his little band meant to ad- 
vance as far as the skirts of the bush, from whence 
they could reconnoitre the house. Doors and 
windows would all be open. There was but one 
white man in the place, and he unarmed. 
Nothing could be easier than to overpower the 
overseer, and perhaps, for Celandine's sake, his life 
might be spared. Then, it was the Coromantee's 
intention to secure the Marquise and her daughter, 
which he opined might be done with little risk, 
and at the expense of a shriek or two ; to collect in 
the storeroom any of the domestic slaves, male or 
female, who showed signs of resistance, and there 
lock them up; to break open the cellar, serve out a 
plentiful allowance of wine to his guards, and then, 
setting fire to the house, carry the Marquise and 
her daughter into the mountains. The former, 
to be kept as a hostage, slain, or otherwise dis- 

VOL. II. 



191 CERISE. 

posed of, according to circumstances ; the latter, as 
the African expressed it with hideous glee, "for 
make lilly-face chief wife to dis here handsome 
nigger !" 

Celandine affected to accept his views with 
great enthusiasm, but objected to the time ap- 
pointed. 

" The moon," said she gravely, " is yet in her 
first quarter. Her spirit is gone a journey to the 
mountains of Africa to bless the bones of our fore- 
fathers. It will be back to-morrow. Jumbo has 
not been sufficiently propitiated. Let us sacrifice 
to him for one night more with jar and calabash. 
I will send down for rum to the stores. Brave 
colonel, you and your guards shall bivouac here 
outside her hut, while the Obi-woman remains 
within to spend the night in singing and making 
charms. Jumbo will thus be pleased, and to- 
morrow the whole island may be ours without 
opposition." 

But Hippolyte was not to be deceived so easily. 
His plans admitted of no delay, and the flames 
ascending from the roof of Montmirail West, that 
same night, were to be the signal for a general 
rising from sea to sea. His short period of influ- 
ence had already taught him that such a blow as 



JACK A-GROUND. 195 

he meditated, to be effectual, must be struck at 
once. Moreover, the quality of cunning in the 
age seems strong in proportion to his degrada- 
tion : the Coromantee was a very fox for vigilance 
and suspicion, nor did he fail to attribute Celan- 
dine's desire for procrastination to its true motive. 

" To-night, Obi-woman !" said he resolutely. 
" To-night, or no night at all. Dis nigger no leave 
yaller woman here, fear of accidents. Perhaps to- 
morrow free blacks kill you same as white. You 
come with us down mountain-side into clearing. 
"We keep you safe. You make prayer and sing 
whole time." 

"With a mischievous leer at a couple of his 
stalwart followers, he" pointed to the Quadroon. 
They sprang from the ground and secured her, 
one on each side. The unfortunate Obi-woman 
strove hard to disarm suspicion by an affectation 
of ready compliance, but it was obvious they mis- 
trusted her fidelity and had no intention of 
letting her out of their sight. It was with 
difficulty that she obtained a few moments' respite, 
on the plea that night was about to fall, for the 
purpose of winding her shawl more carefully round 
her head, and in that brief space she endeavoured 
to warn her son of the coming outbreak, with a 

02 



196 CERISE. 

maddening doubt the while that he might not 
understand their purport, even if he could hear 
her words. Turning towards the door, behind 
which he was concealed, under pretence of arrang- 
ing her head-gear at a bit of broken looking-glass 
against the panel, she sang, with as marked an 
emphasis as she dared, a scrap of some doggrel 
sea-ditty, which she had picked up from her first 
love in the old happy days long ago : — 

"The boatswain looked upon the land, 
And shrill his whistle blew, 
The oars were out, the boat was manned, 
Says he, ' My gallant crew, 

" ' Our captain in a dungeon lies, 
The sharks have got him flat, 
But if we fire the town, my boys, 
We'll have him out of that ! 

" ' We'll stop their jaw, we'll spike their guns ! 
We'll larn 'em what they're at — 
You bend your backs, and pull, my sons, 
We'll have him out of that !' " 

This she sang twice, and then professed her readi- 
ness to accompany Hippolyte and his band down 
the mountain, delaying theirdeparture, however, 
by all the means she could think of, including 
profuse offers of hospitality, which had but little 
effect, possibly because the guests were personally 
satisfied that there was nothing left to drink. 



JACK A-G ROUND. 197 

Nay, even on the very threshold of the hut she 
turned back once more, affecting to have forgotten 
the most important of the amulets she carried 
about her person, and, crossing the floor with a step 
that must have awakened the soundest sleeper, 
repeated, iu clear loud tones, the boatswain's in- 
junction to his men — 

M You bend your Lacks, and pull, my sons, 
We'll have him out of that !" 





CHAPTER XIV. 

JACK A-FLOAT. 

£|UT Slap -Jack was not asleep, far from it. 
His narrow hiding-place offered but 
little temptation to repose, and almost 
the first sentence uttered by Hippolyte 
aroused the suspicions of a man accustomed to 
anticipate, without fearing, danger, or, as he ex- 
pressed it, " to look out for squalls." 

He listened therefore intently the whole time, 
and although the Coromantee's jargon was often 
unintelligible, managed to gather quite enough of 
its meaning to assure him that some gross outrage 
was in preparation, of which a white lady and her 
daughter were to be the victims. Now it is not 
only on the boards of a seaport theatre that the 
British sailor vindicates his character for generous 



JACK A-FLOAT. 199 

courage on behalf of the conventional " female in 
distress." The stage is, after all, a representation, 
however extravagant, of real life, and the carica- 
ture must not be exaggerated out of all likeness to 
its original. Coarse in his language, rough in his 
bearing, reckless and riotous from the very nature 
of his calling, there is yet in the thorough-going 
English seaman a leavening of tenderness, sim- 
plicity, and self-sacrifice, which, combined with his 
dauntless bravery, affords no ignoble type of man- 
hood. He is a child in his fancies, his credulity, 
his affections; a lion in his defiance of peril and 
his sovereign contempt for pain. 

AVith regard to woman, whatever may be his 
practice, his creed is pure, exalted, and utterly 
opposed to his own experience ; while his instincts 
prompt him on all occasions, and against any odds, 
to take part with the weaker side. Compared 
with the landsman, he is always a little behind the 
times in worldly knowledge, possessing the faults 
and virtues of an earlier age. With both of these 
in some excess, his chivalry is unimpeachable, 
and a sense of honour that would not disgrace the 
noblest chapters of knighthood is to be found 
nerving the blue- streaked arms and swelling the 
brawny chests that man the forecastle. 



200 CERISE. 

Slap-Jack knew enough of his late-discovered 
mother's position to be familiar with the name of 
the Marquise and the situation of Montmirail 
West. As he was the only seaman belonging to 
1 The Bashful Maid' who had been tempted beyond 
the precincts of the port, this knowledge was shared 
by none of his shipmates. Captain George himself 
postponing his shore-going from hour to hour, while 
he had work in hand, little dreamed he was within 
two leagues of Cerise. Beaudesir had never re- 
peated his visit to the town ; and every other man 
in the brigantine was too much occupied by duty 
or pleasure — meaning anchor-watch on board, alter- 
nated by rum and fiddlers ashore — to think of ex- 
tending his cruise a yard further inland than the 
nearest drinking-house. 

On Slap-Jack, therefore, devolved the task of 
rescuing the Marquise and her daughter from the 
grasp of " that big black swab," as the foretop-man 
mentally denominated him, whom he longed ar- 
dently to "pitch into" on the spot. He under- 
stood the position. His mother's sea-song was 
addressed to no inattentive nor unwilling ears. He 
saw the difficulties and, indeed, the dangers of his 
undertaking ; but the latter he despised, while the 
former he resolved to overcome ; and he never lay 



JACK A-FLOAT. 201 

out upon a yard to reef topsails in the fiercest 
squall with a clearer brain or a stouter heart than 
he now summoned to his aid on behalf of the 
ladies whom his mother loved so well. 

Creeping from his hiding-place, he listened 
anxiously to the retreating foot-fall of the blacks, 
and even waited several minutes after it had died 
away to assure himself the coast was clear. Dis- 
covery would have been fatal ; for armed though 
he was with a cutlass and pistols, thirteen to one, 
as he sagely reflected, was long odds ; and " if I 
should be scuttled," thought he, '•' before I can make 
signals, why, what's to become of the whole con- 
voy?" Therefore he was very cautious and re- 
flective. He pondered, he calculated, he reckoned 
his time, he enumerated his obstacles, he laid out 
his plans before he proceeded to action. His only 
chance was to reach the brigantine without delay, 
and report the whole matter to the skipper forth- 
with, who he was convinced would at once furnish 
a boat's crew to defend the ladies, and probably 
put himself at their head. 

Emerging from the hut, he observed to his 
consternation that it was already dusk. There 
is but a short twilight in these low latitudes, 
where the evening hour — sweetest of the whole 



202 CERISE. 

twenty-four — is gone almost as soon as it 
arrives — 

" The sun's rim dips, 
The stars rush out, 
At one stride comes the dark." 

And that dark, in the jungle of a "West Indian 
island, is black as midnight. 

It was well for Slap-Jack that a seaman's in- 
stincts had prompted him to take his bearings 
before he came up the mountain. These, from 
time to time, he corrected during his ascent, at the 
many places where he paused for breath. He 
knew, therefore, the exact direction of the town 
and harbour. Steering by the stars, he was under 
no apprehension of losing his way, and could make 
for the brigantine where she lay. Tightening his 
belt, then, he commenced the descent at a run, re- 
solving to keep the path as long as he could see it, 
and when it was lost in the bush at last, to plunge 
boldly through till he reached the shore. 

The misadventure he foresaw soon came to pass. 
A path which he could hardly have followed by 
daylight, without Celandine to pilot him, soon dis- 
appeared from beneath his feet in the deepening 
gloom. He had not left the hut many minutes 
ere he was struggling, breast-high, amongst the wild 
vines and other creepers that twined and festooned 



JACK A-FLOAT. 203 

in a tangle of vegetable network from tree to 
tree. 

The scene was novel and picturesque, yet I 
am afraid he cursed and swore a good deal, less 
impressed with its beauty than alive to its incon- 
veniences. Overhead, indeed, he caught a glimpse 
of the stars, by which he guided his course through 
the interlacing boughs of the tall forest trees, and 
underfoot, the steady lamp of the glow-worm, and 
the sparks of a thousand wheeling fire-flies, shed a 
light about his jDath ; but these advantages only 
served to point out the dangers and difficulties of 
his progress. With their dubious help, every creeper 
thicker than ordinary assumed the appearance of 
some glistening snake, swinging from the branch in a 
grim repose that it was death to disturb ; every rotten 
stump leaning forward in its decay, draped with its 
garment of trailing parasites, took the form of a 
watchful savage, poising his gigantic form in act to 
strike ; while a wild boar, disturbed from his lair 
between the roots of an enormous gum-tree to sham- 
ble off at a jog-trot, grumbling in search of thicker 
covert, with burning eye, gnashing tusks, and most 
discordant grunt, swelled to the size of a rhinoceros. 
Slap-Jack's instincts prompted him to salute the 
monster with a shot from one of the pistols that 



204 CERISE. 

» 

hung at his belt, but reflecting on the necessity of 
caution, he refrained with difficulty, consoling him- 
self by the anticipation of several days' leave ashore, 
and a regular shooting party with his mates, in 
consideration of his services to-night. 

Thus he struggled on, breathless, exhausted, in- 
defatigable — now losing himself altogether, till a 
more open space in the branches, through which 
he could see the stars, assured him that he was in 
a right direction — now obtaining a glimpse of 
some cane-piece, or other clearing, white in the 
tender light of the young moon, which had already 
risen, and thus satisfying himself that he was 
gradually emerging from the bush, and conse- 
quently nearing the shore — now tripping over a 
fallen tree — now held fast in a knot of creepers — 
now pierced to the bone by a prickly cactus, torn, 
bleeding, tired, sore, and drenched with perspira- 
tion, but never losing heart for a moment, nor de- 
viating, notwithstanding his enforced windings, one 
cable's length from the direct way. 

Thus at last he emerged on a clearing already 
trenched and hoed for the reception of sugar-canes, 
and, to his infinite joy, beheld his own shadow, 
black and distinct, in the trembling moonlight. 
The bush was now behind him, the slope of the 



JACK A-FLOAT. 205 

hill in his favour, and lie could run down, uninter- 
rupted, towards the pale sea lying spread out like 
a sheet of silver at his feet. He crossed a road here 
that he knew must lead him into the town, but it 
would have taken him somewhat out of his course 
for the brigantine, and he had resolved to lose no 
time, even for the chance of obtaining a boat. 

He made, therefore, direct for the shore, and in 
a few minutes he was standing on a strip of sand, 
with the retiring tide plashing gratefully on his 
ear, while his eyes were fixed on the tapering spars 
of ' The Bashful Maid,' and the light glimmering in 
her foretop. 

He stepped back a few paces to lay his arms 
and some of his garments behind a rock, a little 
above high-water mark. There was small chance 
he would ever find them again, but he belonged to 
a profession of which the science is essentially pre- 
cautionary, and the habit of foresight was a se- 
cond nature to Slap-Jack. In a few more seconds 
he was up to his knees, his middle, his breast -bone, 
in the cooling waters, till a receding wave lifted 
him off his feet, and he struck out boldly for the 
brigantine. 

How delightful to his heated skin was the con- 
tact of the pure fresh buoyant element ! JSJotwith- 



206 CERISE. 

standing his fatigue, his hurry, his anxiety, he 
could have shouted aloud in joy and triumph as he 
felt himself wafted on those long, regular, and 
powerful strokes nearer and nearer to his object. 
It was the exultation of human strength and skill 
and daring, dominant over nature, unassisted by 
mechanical art. 

Yet was there one frightful drawback ; a con- 
tingency which had been present to his mind from 
the very beginning, even while he was beating la- 
boriously through the jungle, but which he had 
never permitted himself to realize, and on which 
it would now be maddening to dwell : Port Wel- 
come was infested with sharks ! He forced himself 
to ignore the danger, and swam gallantly on, till 
the wash and ripple of the tide upon the shore 
was far behind him, and he heard only his own 
deep measured breathing, and the monotonous 
plash of those springing, regulated strokes that 
drove him steadily out to sea. He was already 
tired, and had turned on his back more than once 
for relief, ere the hull of the brigantine rose black 
and steep out of the water half a cable's length 
ahead. He counted that after fifty more strokes 
he would summon breath to hail the watch on 
deck. He had scarce completed them, ere a chill 



JACK A-FLOAT. 207 

went curdling through his veins from head to heel, 
and if ever Slap-jack lost heart it was then. The 
water surged beneath him, and lifted his whole 
body, like a wave, though the surrounding surface 
was smooth as a mill-pond. One desperate kick, 
that shot him two fathoms at a stroke, and his 
passing foot grazed some slimy, scaly substance, 
while from the comer of his eye he caught a 
glimpse the moment after of the back-fin of a 
shark. Then he hailed in good earnest, swimming 
his wickedest the while, and ere the voracious sea- 
scourge, or its consort, could turn over for a 
leisurely snap at him, Slap-Jack was safe in the 
bight of a rope, and the anchor-watch, not a little 
astonished, were hauling their exhausted shipmate 
over the side. 

" Come on board, sir !" exclaimed the new ar- 
rival, scrambling breathless to his feet, after 
tumbling head-foremost over the gunwale, and 
pulling with ludicrous courtesy at his wet hair. 
" Come on board, sir. Hands wanted immediate. Ax 
your honour's pardon. So blown I can hardly speak. 
First-class row among the niggers. Bobbery all 
over the island. Devil to pay, and no pitch hot !" 
Captain George was on deck, which perhaps 
accounted for the rapidity of the foretop-man's 



208 CERISE. 

rescue, and although justly affronted by so un- 
ceremonious a return on the part of a liberty-man 
who had outstayed his leave, he saw at a glance 
that some great emergency was imminent, and 
prepared to meet it with habitual coolness. 

"Silence, you fool!" said he, pointing to a 
negro amongst the crew. "Lend him a jacket, 
some of you. Come below at once to my cabin, 
and make your report. You can be punished 
afterwards/' 

Slap- Jack followed his commander nothing loth. 
The after-punishment, as being postponed for 
twenty-four hours at least, was a matter of no 
moment, but a visit to the Captain's cabin entailed, 
according to the etiquette of the service, a measure 
of grog, mixed on certain liberal principles, that 
from time immemorial have regulated the strength 
of that complimentary refreshment. 

In all such interviews it is customary for the 
skipper to produce his spirit-case, a tumbler, and a 
jug of water. The visitor helps himself from the 
former, and esteems it only good breeding that he 
should charge his glass to the depth of three 
fingers with alcohol, filling it up with the weaker 
fluid. When the thickness of a seaman's fingers is 
considered, and the breadth to which he can spread 



JACK A-FLOAT. 209 

them out on such occasions, it is easy to conceive 
how little space is left near the rim of the vessel 
for that insipid element, every additional drop of 
which is considered by competent judges to spoil 
the beverage. Slap-Jack mixed as liberally as 
another. Ere his draught, however, was half- 
finished, or his report nearly concluded, the Cap- 
tain had turned the hands up, and ordered a boat 
to be manned forthwith, leaving Beaudesir to 
command in his absence; but true to his usual 
system, informing no one, not even the latter, of 
his intentions or his destination. 



VOL. II. 



CHAPTER XV. 



BESIEGED. 




N the mean time poor Celandine found 
herself hurried down the mountain by 
Hippolyte and his band, in a state of 
anxiety and alarm that would have 
paralysed the energies of most women, but that 
roused all the savage qualities dormant in the 
character of the Quadroon. Not a word of her 
captors, not a look escaped her ; and she soon 
discovered, greatly to her dismay, that she was 
regarded less as an auxiliary than a hostage. She 
was placed in the centre of the band, unbound 
indeed, and apparently at liberty; but no sooner 
did she betray, by the slightest independence of 
movement, that she considered herself a free 
agent, than four stalwart blacks closed in on her, 



BESIEGED. 211 

with brutal glee, attempting no concealment of a 
determination to retain her in their power till they 
had completed their merciless design. 

w Once gone," said Hippolyte, politely affecting 
great reverence for the Obi-woman's supernatural 
powers, "never catchee no more! — Jumbo fly 
away with yaller woman, same as black. Dis 
nigger no 'ftaid of Jumbo, so long as Missee 
Celandine at um back. Soon dark now. March 
on, you black villains, and keep your ranks, 
same as buckra Musketeer !" 

With such exhortations to discipline, and an 
occasional compliment to his own military talents, 
Hippolyte beguiled their journey down the moun- 
tain. It seemed to Celandine that far too short a 
space of time had elapsed ere they reached the 
skirts of the forest, and even in the deepening 
twilight could perceive clearly enough the long 
ow building of Cash-a-crou, now called Mont- 
mirail West. 

The lamps were already lit in the sitting-room 
on the ground-floor. From where she stood, in the 
midst of the band, outwardly stern and collected, 
quivering with rage and fear within, the Quadroon 
could distinguish the figures of Madame la 
Marquise and her daughter, moving here and 

p 2 



212 CERISE. 

there in the apartment, or leaning out at window 
for a breath of the cool, refreshing evening air. 

Their commander kept his men under covert of 
the woods, waiting till it should be quite dark. 
There was little to fear from a garrison consisting 
but of two ladies, backed by Fleurette and 
Bartoletti, for the other domestic slaves were 
either involved in the conspiracy or had been 
inveigled out of the way by its chief promoters ; yet 
notwithstanding the weakness of the besieged, 
some dread of their ascendancy made the negroes 
loth to encounter by daylight even such weak 
champions of the white race as two helpless 
women and a cowardly Italian overseer. 

Nevertheless, every moment gained was worth 
a purse of gold. Celandine, affecting to identify 
herself with the conspirators, urged on them the 
prudence of delay. Hippolyte, somewhat deceived 
by her enthusiasm, offered an additional reason for 
postponing the attack, in the brilliancy of a 
conflagration under a night sky. He intended, he 
said, to begin by setting fire to the house — there 
could then, be no resistance from within. There 
would be plenty of time, he opined, for drink and 
plunder before the flames gained a complete 
ascendancy, and he seemed to cherish some vague 



BESIEGED. '213 

half-formed notion that it would be a fine thing to 
appear before Cerise in the character of a hero, who 
should rescue her from a frightful death. 

A happy thought struck the Quadroon. 

M It was lucky you brought me with you," said 
she earnestly. " Brave as you are, I fancy you 
would have been scared had you acted on your 
own plan. You talk of firing Cash-a-erou as 
you would of roasting a turtle in its shell. Do 
you know that madame keeps a dozen barrels 
of gunpowder stowed away about the house — ■ 
nobody knows where but herself. You would 
have looked a little foolish, 1 think, my brave 
colonel, to find your long body blown clean over 
the Sulphur Mountain into the sea on the other 
side of the island. You and your guard here are 
as handsome a set of blacks as a yellow woman 
need wish to look on. Not a morsel would 
have been left of any one of you the size of my 
hand r 

" Golly !" exclaimed Hippolyte in consternation. 
il Missee Celandine, you go free for tanks, when 
dis job clean done. Hi ! you black fellows, keep 
under shadow of gum-tree dere — change um plan 
now," he added thoughtfully ; and without taking 
his keen eyes off Celandine, walked from one to 



214 CERISE. 

the other of his band, whispering fresh instructions 
to each. 

The Quadroon counted the time by the beating 
of her heart. " Now," she thought, (i my boy must 
have gained the edge of the forest — ten minutes 
more to cross the new cane-pieces — another ten 
to reach the shore. He can swim of course — his 
father swam like a pilot-fish. In forty minutes 
he might be on board. Five to man a boat 
— and ten more to pull her in against the 
ebb. Then they have fully a league to march, 
and sailors are such bad walkers." At this 
stage of her reflections something went through 
her heart like a knife. She thought of the 
grim ground-sharks, heaving and gaping in the 
warm translucent depths of the harbour at Port 
Welcome. 

But meanwhile Hippolyte had gathered confi- 
dence from the bearing of his comrades. Their 
numbers and fierceness inspired him with courage, 
and he resolved to enter the house at the head of 
his chosen body-guard, whilst he surrounded it 
with a score of additional mutineers who had 
joined him according to previous agreement at the 
edge of the* forest. These, too, had brought with 
them a fresh supply of rum, and Celandine 



BESIEGED. ' 215 

observed with horror its stimulating effects on the 
evil propensities of the band. 

While he made his further dispositions, she 
found herself left for a few seconds comparatively 
un watched, and at once stole into the open moon- 
light, where her white dress could be discerned 
plainly from the house. She knew her husband 
would be smoking his evening tobacco, according 
to custom, in the verandah. At little more than a 
hundred paces he could hardly fail to see her ; and 
in an instant she had unbound the red turban and 
waved it round her head, in the desperate hope 
that he might accept that warning for a danger 
signal. The quick-witted Italian seemed to com- 
prehend at once that something was wrong. He 
imitated her gesture, retired into the house, and 
the next minute his figure was seen in the sitting- 
room with the Marquise and her daughter. By this 
time Hippolyte had returned to her side, and 
she could only watch in agony for the result. 
Completely surrounded by the intoxicated and 
infuriated negroes, there seemed to be no escape 
for the besieged, while the looks and gestures of 
their leader, closely copied by his chosen band, de- 
noted how little of courtesy or common humanity 
was to be expected from the Coromantee, excited to 



216 ' CERISE. 

madness by all the worst passions of his savage 
nature bursting from the enforced restraints that 
had so long kept them down. 

A bolder spirit than the Signor's might have 
been excused for betraying considerable appre- 
hension in such a crisis, and in good truth 
Bartoletti was fairly frightened out of his wits. 
In common with the rest of the whites on the 
island, he had long suspected a conspiracy amongst 
the negroes, and feared that such an insurrection 
would take place ; but no great social misfortune 
is ever really believed in till it comes, and he had 
neither taken measures for its prevention, nor 
thoroughly realized the magnitude of the evil. 
Now that he felt it was upon him he knew not 
where to turn for aid. There was no time to make 
phrases or to stand on ceremony. He rushed into 
the sitting-room with a blanched cheek and a 
wild eye, that caused each of the ladies to drop her 
work on her lap, and gaze at him in consternation. 

" Madame!" he exclaimed, and his jaw shook so 
that he could hardly form the syllables, " we must 
leave the house at once — we must save ourselves. 
There is an emeute, a revolt, a rebellion among the 
slaves. I know them — the monsters ! They will 
not be appeased till they have drunk our blood. 



BESIEGED. 217 

Oli ! why did I ever come to this accursed 
country?" 

Cerise turned as white as a sheet — her blue eyes 
were fixed, her lips apart. Even the Marquise 
grew pale, though her colour came back, and she 
held her head the more erect a moment after- 
wards. " Sit down," she said imperiously, yet 
kindly enough. " Take breath, my good man, and 
take courage also. Tell me exactly what you 
have seen ;" and added, turning to Cerise, " don't 
be frightened, my child — these overseers are sad 
alarmists. I dare say it is only what the negroes 
call a ' bobbery ' after all !" 

Then Bartoletti explained that he had seen his 
wife waving a red shawl from the edge of the 
jungle ; that this was a preconcerted signal by which 
they had agreed to warn each other of imminent 
danger ; that it was never to be used except on 
great emergencies ; and that he was quite sure it 
was intended to convey to him that she was in the 
power of the slaves, and that the rising they had 
so often talked about had taken place at last. 

The Marquise thought for a moment. She 
seemed to have no fear now that she realized her 
danger. Only once, when her eye rested on her 
daughter, she shuddered visibly. Otherwise, her 



218 CERISE. 

bearing was less that of a tender woman in peril of 
her life, than of some wise commander, foiled and 
beset by the enemy, yet not altogether without 
hope of securing his retreat. 

So might have looked one of her warlike 
ancestors when the besiegers set fire to his 
castle by the Garonne, and he resolved to betake 
himself, with his stout veterans, to the square stone 
keep where the well was dug — a maiden fortress, 
that had never yet succumbed to famine nor been 
forced by escalade. 

" Is there any one in' the house whom we can 
trust ?" said the Marquise ; and even while she 
spoke a comely black girl came crawling to her 
feet, and seized her hand to cover it with tears and 
kisses. 

" Iss, missis !" exclaimed Fleurette, for Fleurette 
it was, who had indeed been listening at the door 
for the last five minutes. " You trust me ! Life 
for life ! Blood for blood ! No fear Jumbo, so lilly 
ma'amselle go out safe. Trust Fleurette, missis. 
Trust Fleurette, ma'amselle. Fleurette die at um 
house-door, so ! better than ugly black floggee-man 
come in." The Marquise listened calmly. 

" Attend to me, Fleurette," said she, with an 
authoritative gesture. " Go at once through the 



BESIEGED. 219 

kitchen into the dark path that leads to the old 
summer-house. See if the road to Port Welcome 
is clear. There is no bush on that side within five 
hundred paces, and if they mean to stop us, they 
must post a guard between the house and the 
gum-trees. Do not show yourself, girl, but if they 
take you, say Celandine sent you down to the 
negro-houses for eggs. Quick, and come back 
here like lightning. Bartoletti — have you any 
fire-arms? Do not be afraid, my darling," she 
repeated, turning to her daughter. " I know these 
wretched people well. You need but show a bold 
front, and they would turn away from a lady's fan 
if you only shook it hard at them." 

"I am not afraid, mamma," answered Cerise, 
valiantly, though her face was very pale, and her 
knees shook. " I — I don't like it, of course, but I 
can do anything you tell me. Oh, mamma! do 
you, do you think they will kill us?" she added, 
with rather a sudden breakdown of the courage 
she tried so gallantly to rally. 

" Kill us, mademoiselle !" exclaimed the overseer, 
quaking in every limb. " Oh, no ! never ! They 
cannot be so bad as that. We will temporize, we 
will supplicate, we will make terms with them ; 
we will offer freedom, and rum, and plunder ; 



220 CEKISE. 

we will go on our knees to their chief, and entreat 
his mercy !" 

The girl looked at him contemptuously. 
Strange to say, her courage rose as his fell, and 
she seemed to gather strength and energy from 
the abject selfishness of his despair. The Marquise 
did not heed him, for she heard Fleurette's foot- 
steps returning, and was herself busied with an 
oblong wooden case, brass-bound, and carefully 
locked up, that she lifted from the recess of a cup- 
board in the room. 

Fleurette's black feet could carry her swiftly and 
lightly as a bird. She had followed her instructions 
implicitly, had crept noiselessly through the kitchen, 
and advanced unseen to the old summer-house. 
Peering from that concealment, on the moon -lit 
surface of the lawn, she was horrorstruck to 
observe nearly a score of slaves intently watching 
the house. She hurried back panting to her 
mistress's presence, and made her discouraging 
report. 

Madame de Montmirail was very grave now. 
The affair had become more than serious. It was, 
in truth, desperate. Once again, as she looked at 
her daughter, came that strange quiver over her 
features, that shudder of repressed horror rather 



BESIEGED. 221 

than pain. Tt was succeeded, as before, by a 
moment of deep reflection, and then her eye kin- 
dled, her lips tightened, and all her soft voluptuous 
beauty hardened into the obstinate courage of 
despair. 

Cerise sank on her knees to pray, and rose with 
a pale, serene, undaunted face. Hers was the 
passive endurance of the martyr. Her mother's 
the tameless valour of the champion, inherited 
through a long line of the turbulent La-Fiertes, 
not one of whom had ever blenched from death 
nor yielded an inch before the face of man. 

" Bartoletti !" said the Marquise. "Bar the 
doors and windows ; they can be forced with half 
a dozen strokes, but- in war every minute is of 
value. Hold this rabble in parley as long as you 
can. I dare not trust you with my pistols, for a 
weak heart makes a shaking hand, and I think 
fighting seems less your trade than mine. When 
you can delay them no longer, arrange your own 
terms with the villains. It is possible they may 
spare you for your wife's sake. Quick, man ! I 
hear them coming now. Cerise, our bed -room has 
a strong oaken door, and they cannot reach the 
window without a ladder, which leaves us but one 
enemy to deal with at a time. Courage, my 



222 CERISE. 

darling ! Kiss me ! Again, again ! my own ! 
And now. A woman dies but once ! Here goes 
for France, and the lilies on the White Flag !" 

Thus encouraging her child, the Marquise led 
the way to the bedchamber they jointly occupied, 
a plainly furnished room, of which the only orna- 
ment was the Prince-Marshal's portrait, already 
mentioned as having occupied the place of honour 
in madame's boudoir at the Hotel Montmirail. 
Both women glanced at it as they entered the 
apartment. Then the Marquise, laying down the 
oblong box she carried, carefully shaded the night- 
lamp that burned by her bedside, and peered 
stealthily from the window to reconnoitre. 

" Four, six, ten," said she, calmly, " besides their 
leader, a tall, big negro, very like Hippolyte. It 
is Hippolyte. You at least, my friend, will not 
leave this house alive ! I can hardly miss so fair a 
mark as those broad black shoulders. This of 
course is the corps oV elite. Those at the back of the 
house I do not regard so much. The kitchen door 
is strong, and they will do nothing if their cham- 
pions are repulsed. Courage again, my child ! 
All is not lost yet. Open that box and help me to 
load my pistols. Strange, that I should, have 
practised with them for years, only to beat Madame 



BESIEGED. 223 

de Sabran, and now to-night we must both trust 
our safety to a true eye and a steady hand !" 

Pale, tearless, and collected. Cerise obeyed. Her 
mother, drawing the weapons from their case, wiped 
them with her delicate handkerchief, and proceeded 
to charge them carefully, and with a preoccupied 
air, like a mother preparing medicine for a child. 
Holding the ramrod between her beautiful white 
teeth, while her delicate and jewelled fingers shook 
the powder into the pan, she explained to Cerise 
the whole mystery of loading and priming the 
deadly weapons. She would thus, as she observed, 
always have one barrel in reserve. The younger 
woman listened attentively. Her lip was steady, 
though her hand shook, and now that the worst 
was come she showed that peculiar quality of race 
which is superior to the common fighting courage 
possessed indiscriminately by all classes — the 
passive concentrated firmness, which can take every 
advantage so long as a chance is left, and die with- 
out a word at last, when hope gives place to the 
resignation of despair. 

She even pointed- out to her mother, that by 
half closing the shutter, the Marquise, herself 
unseen, could command the approach to the front 
door. Then taking a crucifix from her bosom, she 



224 CERISE. 

pressed it to her lips, and said, " I am ready now, 
mamma. I am calm. I can do anything you tell 
me. Kiss me once more, dear, as you used when I 
was a child. And if we must die, it will not seem 
so hard to die together." 

The Marquise answered by a long clinging em- 
brace, and then the two women sat them down in 
the gloomy shadows of their chamber, haggard, 
tearless, silent, watching for the near approach of a 
merciless enemy armed with horrors worse than 
death. 




CHAPTER XVI. 




AT BAY. 

N obedience to his mistress, Bartoletti 
had endeavoured to secure the few weak 
fastenings of the house, but his hands 
" shook so,- that without Fleurette's aid 
not a bolt would have been pushed nor a key 
turned. The black girl, however, seconded his 
efforts with skill and coolness, so that Hippolyte's 
summons to surrender was addressed to locked 
doors and closed windows. The Coromantee was 
now so inflamed with rum as to be capable of any 
outrage, and since neither his band nor himself 
were possessed of fire-arms, nothing but Celandine's 
happy suggestion about the concealed powder 
restrained him from ordering a few faggots to be 
cut, and the building set in a blaze. Advancing 
VOL. ii. Q 



226 CERISE. 

with an air of dignity, that would at any other 
time have been ludicrous, and which he would 
certainly have abandoned had he known that the 
Marquise covered his body with her pistol the while, 
he thumped the door angrily, and demanded to 
know why "dis here gentleman comin' to pay 
compliment to buckra miss," was not immediately 
admitted ; but receiving no answer, proceeded at 
once to batter the panels with an iron crowbar, 
undeterred by the expostulations of Fleurette, who 
protested vehemently, first, that her mistress was 
engaged with a large party of French officers,; 
secondly, that she lay sick in bed, on no account 
to be disturbed ; and lastly, that neither she nor 
ma'amselle were in the house at all. 

The Coromantee of course knew better. Shout- 
ing a horrible oath, and a yet more hideous threat, 
he applied his burly shoulders to the entrance, and 
the whole wood- work giving way with a crash, 
precipitated himself into the passage, followed by 
the rest of the band, to be confronted by Fleurette 
alone, Bartoletti having fled ignominiously to the 
kitchen. 

" I could have hit him through the neck," ob- 
served the Marquise, withdrawing from her post 
behind the shutter, " but I was too directly above 



AT BAY. 227 

him to make sure, and every charge is so valuable 
I would not waste one on a mere wound. My 
darling, I still hope that two or three deadly shots 
may intimidate them, and we shall escape after all." 

Cerise answered nothing, though her lips moved. 
The two ladies listened, with every faculty sharp- 
ened, every nerve strung to the utmost. 

A scream from Fleurette thrilled through them 
like a blow. Hippolyte, though willing enough to 
dally with the comely black girl for a minute or 
two, lost patience with her pertinacity in clinging 
about him to delay his entrance, and struck her 
brutally to the ground. Turning fiercely on him 
where she lay, she made her sharp teeth meet in 
the fleshy part of his leg, an injury the savage 
returned with a kick, that after the first shriek it 
elicited left poor Fleurette stunned and moaning 
in the corner of the passage, to be crushed and 
trampled by the blacks, who now poured in behind 
their leader, elated with the success of this, their 
first step in open rebellion. 

Presently, loud shouts, or rather howls of tri- 
umph, announced that the overseer's place of con- 
cealment was discovered. Bartoletti, pale or 
rather yellow, limp, stammering, and beside him- 
self with terror, was dragged out of the house and 

Q 2 



228 CERISE. 

consigned to sundry ferocious looking negroes, who 
proceeded to amuse themselves by alternately 
kicking, cuffing, and threatening him with instan- 
taneous death. 

The Marquise listened eagerly ; horror, pity, 
and disgust succeeding each other on her haughty, 
resolute face. Once, something like contempt 
swept over it, while she caught the tone of Barto- 
letti's abject entreaties for mercy. He only asked 
for life — bare life, nothing more ; they might make 
a slave of him then and there. He was their pro- 
perty, he and his wife, and all that he had, to do 
what they liked with. Only let him live, he said, 
and he would join them heart and hand ; show 
them where the rum was kept, the money ,^the 
jewels; nay, help them cheerfully to cut every 
white throat on the island. The man was con- 
vulsed with terror, and the negroes danced round 
like fiends, mocking, jeering, flouting him, exult- 
ing in the spectacle of a buckra overseer brought 
so low. 

" There is something in race after all," observed 
the Marquise, as if discussing an abstract pro- 
position. " I suppose it is only the canaille that 
can thus degrade themselves from mere dread 
of death. Though our families have not always 



AT BAY. 229 

lived very decently, I am glad to think that there 
was never yet a Montmirail or La Fierte who did 
not know how to die. My child, it is the pure old 
blood that carries us through such moments as 
these ; neither of us are likely to disgrace it now." 

Again her daughter's lips moved, although no 
sound escaped them. Cerise was prepared to die, 
but she could not bring herself to reason on the 
advantages of noble birth at such a moment, like 
the Marquise ; and indeed the girl's weaker frame 
and softer heart quailed in terror at the prospect 
of the ordeal they had to go through. 

From their chamber of refuge the two ladies 
could hear the insulting jests and ribald gibberish 
of the slaves, now bursting into the sitting room, 
breaking the furniture, shivering the mirrors, and 
wantonly destroying all the delicate articles of use 
and ornament, of which they could neither un- 
derstand the purpose nor appreciate the value. 
Presently a discordant scream from Pierrot an- 
nounced that the parrot had protested against the 
intrusion of these riotous visitors, while a shout of 
pain, followed by loud bursts of laughter, proclaimed 
the manner in which he had resented the familiarity 
of one more daring than the rest. Taking the bird 
roughly off its perch, a stout young negro named 



230 CERISE. 

Achille had been bitten to the bone, and the cross- 
cut wound inflicted by the parrot's beak so roused 
his savage nature, that twisting its neck round with 
a vindictive howl, he slew poor Pierrot on the 
spot. 

The Marquise in her chamber above could hear 
the brutal acclamations that greeted this exploit, 
and distinguished the smothered thump of her 
favourite's feathered body as it was dashed into a 
corner of the room. 

Then her lips set tight, her brows knit, and the 
white hand clenched itself round her pistol, firm, 
rigid, and pitiless as marble. 

Heavy footsteps were now heard hurrying on 
the stairs, and whispered voices urging contrary 
directions, but all with the same purport. There 
seemed to be no thought of compassion, no talk of 
mercy. Even within hearing of their victims, 
Hippolyte and Achille, who was his second in com- 
mand, scrupled not to discuss the fate of the ladies 
when they should have gained possession of their 
persons — a fate which turned the daughter's blood 
to ice, the mother's to fire. It was no time now 
to think of compromise or capitulation, or aught 
but selling life at the dearest, and gaining every 
moment possible by the sacrifice of an enemy. 



AT BAY. 231 

Even in this last extremity, however, the genius 
of system, so remarkable in all French minds, did 
not desert the Marquise. She counted the charges 
in her pistol-case, and calculated the resources of 
her foes with a cool, methodical appreciation of 
the chances for and against her, totally unaffected 
by the enormous disproportion of the odds. She 
was good, she argued, for a dozen shots in all. She 
would allow for two misses ; sagely reflecting that 
in a chance medley like the present she could 
hardly preserve a steadiness of hand and eye that 
had heretofore so discomfited Madame de Sabran 
in the shooting galleries of Marly and Versailles. 
Eight shots would then be left, exclusive of two that 
she determined at all risks to reserve for the last. 
The dead bodies of eight negroes she considered, 
slain by the hand of one white woman, ought to 
put the whole black population of the island to the 
rout ; but supposing that the rum they had drunk 
should have rendered them so reckless as to dis- 
regard even such a warning, and that, with her 
defences broke down, she found herself and daugh- 
ter at their mercy, then — and while the Marquise 
reasoned thus, the blood mounted to her eyes, and 
a hand of ice seemed to close round her heart 
— the two reserve shots should be directed with 



232 CERISE. 

unerring hand, the one into her daughter's bosom, 
the other through her own. 

And Cerise, now that the crisis had arrived at 
last, in so far as they were to be substantiated by 
the enforced composure of a passive endurance, 
fully vindicated her claims to noble blood. She 
muttered many a prayer indeed, that arose straight 
from her heart, but her eyes were fixed on her 
mother the while, and she had disposed the ammu- 
nition on a chair beside her in such a manner as to 
reload for the Marquise with rapidity and precision. 
" We are like a front and rear rank of the Grey 
Musketeers," said the latter, with a wild attempt at 
hilarity, in which a strong hysterical tendency, born 
of overwrought feelings, was with difficulty kept 
down. " The affair will soon commence now, and, 
my child, if worst comes to worst, remember there 
is no surrender. I hear them advancing to the 
assault. Courage ! my darling. Steady ! and Vive 
la France /" 

The words were still upon her lips, when a 
swarm of negroes, crowding and shouldering up the 
narrow passage, halted at her door. Hippolyte 
commenced his summons to the besieged by a 
smashing blow with the crowbar, that splintered 
one of the panels and set the whole wood-work 



AT BAY. 233 

quivering to its hinges. Then he applied his thick 
lips to the keyhole, and shouted in brutal glee — 

" Time to wake up now, missee ! You play 
'possum no longer, else cut down gum-tree at one 
stroke. Wot you say to dis nigger for buckra 
bridegroom ? Time to come out now and dance 
jigs at una wedding." 

There was not a quiver in her voice while the 
Marquise answered in cold imperious tones — 

'•'You are running up a heavy reckoning for 
this night's work. I know your ringleaders, and 
refuse to treat with them. Nevertheless, I am 
not a severe mistress. If the rest of the negroes 
will go quietly home, and resume their duties with 
to-morrow's sunrise, I will not be hard upon them. 
You know me, and can trust my word." 

Cheers of derision answered this haughty ap- 
peal, and loud suggestions for every kind of cruelty 
and insult, to be inflicted on the two ladies, were 
heard bandied about amongst the slaves. Hip- 
polyte replied fiercely — 

" Give in at once ! Open this minute, or 
neither of you shall leave the house alive ! For 
the Marquise — Achille ! I give her to you ! For 
lily ma'amselle — I marry her this very night. 
See ! before the moon goes down !" 



234 CERISE. 

Cerise raised her head in scornful defiance. 
Her face was livid, but it was stamped with the 
same expression as her mother's now. There 
could be no question both were prepared to die 
game to the last. 

The blows of Hippolyte's crowbar resounded 
against the strong oaken panels of the door, but 
the massive wood-work, though it shook and 
groaned, resisted stoutly for a time. It was well 
for the inmates that Celandine's imaginative 
powers had suggested the concealed gunpowder. 
Had it not been for their fears of an explosion the 
negroes would ere this have set fire to the build- 
ing, when no amount of resistance could have 
longer delayed the fate of the two ladies. Barto- 
letti, intimidated by the threats of his captors, and 
preoccupied only with the preservation of his own 
life, had shown the insurgents where the rum was 
kept, and many of these were rapidly passing from 
the reckless to the stupefied stage of intoxication. 
The Italian, who was not deficient in cunning, 
encouraged their potations with all his might. 
He thus hoped to elude them before morning, and 
leaving his employers to their fate, reach Port 
Welcome in safety; where he doubted not he 
should be met by Celandine, whose influence as an 



AT BAY. 235 

Obi-woman, he rightly conjectured, would be 
sufficient to insure her safety. A coward rarely 
meets with the fate he deserves, and Bartoletti did 
indeed make his eventual escape in the manner he 
had proposed. 

Plying his crowbar with vigorous strokes, Hip- 
polyte succeeded at length in breaking through 
one of the door panels, a measure to be succeeded 
by the insertion of hand and arm for withdrawal 
of the bolts fastened on the inside. The Coro- 
mantee possessed, however, a considerable share of 
cunning mixed with the fierce cruelty of a savage. 
When he had torn away enough woodwork to 
make a considerable aperture, he turned to his 
lieutenant and desired him to introduce his body 
and unbar the door from within. It is difficult to 
say what he feared, since even had he been aware 
that his mistress possessed firearms, he could not 
have conceived the possibility of her using them, so 
recklessly in a house that he had reason to believe 
was stored with powder. It was probably some 
latent dread of the white race that prompted his 
command to his subordinate. " You peep in, you 
black nigger. Ladies all in full dress now. Bow- 
'ticks rosined and fiddlers dry. Open um door, 
and ask polite company to walk in." 



236 CERISE. 

Thus adjured, Achille thrust his woolly head and 
half his shining black body through the aperture. 
Madame de Montmirail, standing before her 
daughter, was not five paces off. She raised her 
white arm slowly, and covered him with steady 
aim. Ere his large thick hand had closed round 
the bolt for which it groped, there was a flash, a 
loud report, a cloud of smoke curling round the 
toilet accessories of a lady's bedchamber, and 
Achille, shot through the brain, fell back stone 
dead into the passage. 

" A little lighter charge of powder, my dear," 
said the Marquise, giving the smoking weapon to 
her daughter to be reloaded, while she poised its 
fellow carefully in her hand. "I sighted him 
very fine, and was a trifle over my mark even 
then. These pistols always throw high at so short 
a distance." 

Then she placed herself in readiness for another 
enemy, and during a short space waited in vain. 

The report of her pistol had been followed by a 
general scramble of the negroes, who tumbled pre- 
cipitately downstairs, and in some cases even out of 
the house, under the impression that every suc- 
ceeding moment might find them all blown into 
the air. But the very cause of the besiegers' panic 



AT BAY. 237 

proved, when their alarm subsided, of the utmost 
detriment to the garrison. Hippolyte, finding 
himself still in possession of his limbs and faculties, 
on the same side of the Sulphur Mountain as 
before, argued, reasonably enough, that the con- 
cealed powder was a delusion, and with consider- 
able promptitude at once set fire to the lower 
part of the house ; after which, once more muster- 
ing his followers, and encouraging them by his 
example, he ascended the staircase, and betaking 
himself to the crowbar with a will, soon battered 
in the weak defence that alone stood between the 
ladies and their savage enemies. 

Cerise had loaded her mother's pistol to per- 
fection ; that mother; roused out of all thought of 
self by her child's danger, was even now reckoning 
the last frail chance by which her daughter might 
escape. During the short respite afforded by the 
panic of the negroes they had dragged with 
desperate strength a heavy chest of drawers, and 
placed it across the doorway. Even when the 
latter was forced, this slight breastwork afforded 
an additional impediment to the assailants. 

" You must drop from the window, m} T child," 
whispered the Marquise, when the shattered door 
fell in at length across this last obstruction, reveal- 



238 CERISE. 

ing a hideous confusion of black forms, and 
rolling eyes, and grinning fiendish faces. "It is 
not a dozen feet, but mind you turn round so as to 
light on your hands and knees. Celandine must 
be outside. If you can reach her you are safe. 
Adieu, darling ! I can keep the two foremost 
from following you, still !" 

The Marquise grasped a pistol in each hand, 
but she bent her brow — the haughty white brow 
that had never been carried more proudly than 
now — towards her child, and the girl's pale lips 
clung to it lovingly, while she vowed that neither 
life nor death should part her from her mother. 

" It is all over, dear," she said, calmly. ■' We 
can but die together as we have lived." 

Their case was indeed desperate. The room 
was already darkening with smoke, and the wood- 
work on the floor below crackling in the flames 
that began to light up the lawn outside, and tip 
with saffron the sleeping woods beyond. The 
door was broken in ; the chest of drawers gave 
way with a loud crash, and brandishing his crow- 
bar, Hippolyte leaped into the apartment like a 
fiend, but stood for an instant aghast, rigid, like 
that fiend turned to bronze, because the white lady, 
shielding her daughter with her body, neither 



AT BAY. 239 

quailed nor flinched. Her eye was bright, her colour 
raised, her lips set, her hand steady, her whole 
attitude resolute and defiant. All this he took in 
at a glance, and the Coromantee felt his craven 
heart shrink up to nothing in his breast, thus 
covered by the deadly pistol of the Marquise. 




CHAPTER XVII. 



JUST IN TIME. 




J^O^OMENTS are precious at such a time. 

The negro, goaded by shame, rage, and 

alcohol, had drawn his breath for a 

spring, when a loud cheer was heard 

outside, followed by two or three dropping shots, and 

the ring of a hearty English voice exclaiming — 

" Hold on, mates ! Don't ye shoot wild a'cause 
of the ladies. It's yardarm to yardarm, this 
spell, and we'll give these here black devils a taste 
of the naked steel !" 

In another moment Slap-Jack was in the pas- 
sage, leaving a couple of wounded ruffians on the 
stairs to be finished by his comrades, and cutting 
another down across the very door-sill of the 
Marquise's bedchamber. Ere he could enter it, 



JUST IN TIME. 241 

however, his captain had dashed past him, 
leaping like a panther over the dead negroes under 
foot, and flashing his glittering rapier in the 
astonished eyes of the Coromantee, who turned 
round bewildered from his prey to fight with the 
mad energy of despair. 

In vain. Of what avail was the massive iron 
crowbar, wielded even by the strength of a 
Hercules, against the deadliest blade but one in 
the Great Monarch's body-guard ? 

A couple of dazzling passes, that seemed to go 
over, under, all round the clumsier weapon — a 
stamp — a muttered oath, shut in by clenched, de- 
termined teeth, and the elastic steel shot through 
Hippolyte's very heart, and out on the other 
side. 

Spurning the huge black body with his foot, 
Captain George withdrew his sword, wiped it 
grimly on the dead man's woolly head, and, 
uncovering, turned to the ladies with a polite 
apology for thus intruding under the pressure of so 
disagreeable a necessity. 

He had scarcely framed a sentence ere he be- 
came deadly pale, and began to stammer, as if he, 
too, was under the influence of some engrossing 
and incontrollable emotion. 

VOL. II. R 



242 CERISE. 

The two women had shrunk into the farthest 
corner of the room. With the prospect of a rescue, 
Madame de Montmirail's nerves, strung to their 
utmost tension, had completely given way. In a 
state of mental and bodily prostration, she had 
laid her head in the lap of Cerise, whose courage, 
being of a more passive nature, did not now fail 
her so entirely. 

The girl, indeed, pushing her hair back from 
her temples, looked wildly in George's face for 
an instant, like one who wakes from a dream ; 
but the next, her whole countenance lit up with 
delight, and holding out both hands to him, she 
exclaimed, in accents of irrepressible tenderness 
and self-abandonment, " (Test toil" Then the 
pale face flushed crimson, and the loving eyes 
drooped beneath his own. To him she had alwaj's 
been beautiful — most beautiful, perhaps, in his 
dreams — but never in dreams nor in waking 
reality so beautiful as now. 

He gazed on her entranced, motionless, forgetful 
of everything in the world but that one loved 
being restored, as it seemed, by a miracle, at the 
very time when she had been most lost to him. 
His stout heart, thrilling to its core from her 
glance, quailed to think of what must have be- 



JUST IN TIME. 243 

fallen had he arrived a minute too late, and a 
prayer went up from it of hearty humble thanks- 
giving that he was in time. He saw nothing but 
that drooping form in its delicate white dress, with 
its gentle feminine gestures and rich dishevelled 
hair ; heard nothing but the accents of that well- 
remembered voice vibrating with the love that he 
felt was deep and tender as his own. He was 
unconscious of the cheers of his victorious boat's 
crew, of the groans and shrieks uttered by wounded 
or routed negroes, of the dead beneath his feet, 
the blazing rafters overhead, the showers of sparks 
and rolling clouds of smoke that already rilled the 
house ; unconscious even of Madame de Montmi- 
rail's recovery from" her stupor, as she too recog- 
nized him, and raising herself with an effort from 
her daughter's embrace, muttered in deep pas- 
sionate tones, " (Test lui!" 

But it was no time for the exchanges of ceremo- 
nious politeness, or the indulgence of softer emo- 
tions. The house was fairly on fire, the negroes 
were up in arms all over the island. A boat's 
crew, however sturdy, is but a handful of men, 
and courage becomes foolhardy when it opposes 
itself voluntarily at odds of one against a score. 
Slap-Jack was the first to speak. "Askin' your 

R 2 



244 CERISE. 

pardon, ladies," said he, with seamanlike de- 
ference to the sex ; " the sooner we can clear out 
of this here the better. If you'll have the kind- 
ness to point out your sea-chests, and possibles, 
and such like, Bottle- Jack here, he'll be answerable 
for their safety, and me an' my mates we'll run 
you both down to the beach and have you aboard 
in a pig's whisper. The island's getting hot, miss/' 
he added confidentially to Cerise, who did not the 
least understand him. " In these low latitudes, a 
house afire and a hundred of blacks means a 
bobbery, just as sure as at home four old women 
and a goose makes a market !" 

" He is right," observed the Captain, who had 
now recovered his presence of mind. "From 
what I saw as I came along, I fear there is a 
general rising of the slaves through the whole 
island. My brigantine, I need not say, is at the 
disposal of madame and mademoiselle (Cerise 
thanked him with a look), and I believe that for a 
time at least it will be the only safe place of 
refuge." 

Thus speaking, he offered his hand to conduct 
the Marquise from the apartment, with as much 
courtliness and ceremony as though they had been 
about to dance a minuet at Versailles, under the 



JUST IN TIME. 245 

critical eye of the late king. Hers trembled 
violently as she yielded it. That hand, so steady 
but a few minutes ago, while levelling its deadly 
weapon against the leader of a hundred enemies, 
now shook as if palsied. How little men under- 
stand women. He attributed her discomposure 
entirely to fright. 

There is a second nature, an acquired instinct in 
the habits of good-breeding, irrepressible even by 
the gravest emergency. Captain George, conduct- 
ing Madame de Montmirail down her own blazing 
staircase, behaved with as ceremonious a politeness 
as if they had been descending in accordance with 
etiquette to a formal dinner-party. Cerise, follow- 
ing close, hung no doubt on every word that came 
from his lips, but it must be confessed the conver- 
sation was somewhat frivolous for so important a 
juncture. 

M I little thought," said the Captain, performing 
another courtly bow, " that it was Madame la 
Marquise whom I should have the honour of es- 
corting to-night out of this unpleasant little fracas. 
Had I known madame was on the island, she will 
believe that I should have come ashore and paid 
my respects to her much sooner." 

" You could not have arrived at a more oppor- 



246 CERISE. 

tune moment, monsieur," answered the lady, 
whose strong physical energy and habitual pre- 
sence of mind were now rapidly reasserting them- 
selves. "You have always been welcome to my 
receptions ; never more so than to-night. You 
found it a little hot, I fear, and a good deal 
crowded. The latter disadvantage I was remedy- 
ing, to the best of my abilities, when you an- 
nounced yourself. The society, too, was hardly so 
polite as I could have wished. Oh, monsieur !" she 
added, in a changed and trembling voice, suddenly 
discarding the tone of banter she had assumed, 
" where should we have been now, and what 
must have become of us, but for you? 'You, to 
whom we had rather owe our lives than to any 
man in the world !" 

He was thinking of Cerise. He accepted the 
kind words gratefully, happily ; but, like all gene- 
rous minds, he made light of the service he had 
rendered. 

" You are too good to say so, madame," was his 
answer. " lb seemed to me you were making a 
gallant defence enough -when I came in. One 
man had already fallen before your aim, and I 
would not have given much for the life of that 
ugly giant whom I took the liberty of running 



JUST IN TIME. 247 

through the body without asking permission, al- 
though he is probably, like myself, a slave of your 
own." 

The Marquise laughed. " Confess, monsieur," 
said she, * that I have a steady hand on the pistol. 
Do you know, I never shot at anything but a 
playing-card till to-night. It is horrible to kill a 
man, too. It makes me shudder when I think of 
it. And yet, at the moment, I had no pity, no 
scruples — I can even imagine that I experienced 
something of the wild excitement which makes a 
soldier's trade so fascinating. I hope it is not so ; 
I trust I may not be so cruel — so unwomanly. 
But you talk of slaves. Are we not yours? 
Yours by every right of conquest ; to serve and 
tend you, and follow you all over the world. Ah ! 
it would be a happy lot for her who knew its 
value !" 

The last sentence she spoke in a low whisper and 
an altered tone, as if to herself. It either escaped 
him or he affected not to hear. 

By this time they were out of the house, and 
standing on the lawn to windward of the flames, 
which leaped and flickered from every quarter of 
the building ; nor, in escaping from the conflagra- 
tion, had they by any means yet placed themselves 



248 CERISE. 

in safety. Captain George and the three trusty 
Jacks, with half a dozen more stout seamen, con- 
stituting a boat's crew, had indeed rescued the 
ladies, for the moment, from a hideous alternative ; 
but it was more than doubtful, if even protected 
by so brave an escort, they could reach the shore 
unmolested. Bands of negroes, ready to commit 
every enormity, were ere now patrolling all parts 
of the island. It was too probable that the few 
white inhabitants had been already massacred, or, 
if still alive, would have enough to do to make 
terms for themselves with the infuriated slaves. 

A slender garrison occupied a solitary fort on the 
other side of the mountains, but so small a force 
might easily be overmastered, and even if they had 
started on the march it was impossible they could 
arrive for several hours in the vicinity of Port 
Welcome. By that time the town might well be 
burned to the ground, and George, who was accus- 
tomed to reason with rapidity on the chances and 
combinations of warfare, thought it by no means 
unlikely that the ruddy glare, fleeting and wavering 
on the night-sky over the blazing roof of Mont- 
mirail West, might be accepted as a signal for 
immediate action by the whole of the insurgents. 

Hippolyte had laid his plans with considerable 



JUST IN TIME. 249 

forethought, i he result, perhaps, of many a crafty war- 
path — many a savage foray in his own wild home. 
He had so disposed the negroes under his imme- 
diate orders, that Madame* de Montmirail's house 
was completely surrounded in every direction by 
which escape seemed possible. The different egresses 
leading to the huts, the mills, the cane-pieces, were 
all occupied, and a strong force was posted on the 
high road to Port Welcome, chiefly with a view to 
prevent the arrival of assistance from that quarter. 
One only path was left unguarded ; it was narrow, 
tangled, difficult to find, and wound up through 
the jungle, across the wildest part of the moun- 
tain. 

By this route he had probably intended to carry 
off Mademoiselle de Montmirail to some secure 
fastness of his own. Not satisfied with the per- 
sonal arrangements he had made for burning the 
house and capturing the inmates, he had also 
warned his confederates, men equally fierce and 
turbulent, if of less intelligence than his own, that 
they should hold themselves in readiness to take 
up arms the instant they beheld a glare upon the 
sky above Cash-a-crou ; that each should then 
despatch a chosen band of twenty stout negroes to 
himself for orders ; and that the rest of their forces 



250 CERISE. 

should at once commence the work of devastation 
on their own account, burning, plundering, rioting, 
and cutting all white throats, without distinction 
of age or sex. 

That this wholesale butchery failed in its details 
was owing to no fault of conception, no scruples of 
humanity on the part of its organizer. The execu- 
tion fell short of the original design simply because 
confided to several different heads, acted on by 
various interests, and all more or less bemused with 
rum. The ringleader had every reason to believe 
that if his directions were carried out he would find 
himself, ere sunrise, at the head of a general and 
successful revolt — a black emperor, perhaps, with a 
black population offering him a crown. 

But this delusion had been dispelled by one 
thrust of Captain George's rapier, and the Coro- 
mantee's dark body lay charring amongst the 
glowing timbers of Madame de Montmirail's bed- 
chamber. 

The dispositions that he had made, however, 
accounted for the large force of negroes now con- 
verging on the burning house. Their shouts 
might be heard echoing through the woods in all 
directions. When George had collected his men, 
surrounded the two ladies by a trusty escort of 



JUST IN TIME. 251 

blue-jackets, and withdrawn his little company, 
consisting but of a dozen persons, under cover of 
the trees, he held a council of war as to the 
best means for securing a rapid retreat. Truth 
to tell, the skipper would willingly have given 
the whole worth of her cargo to be once more 
on her deck, or even under the guns of ' The Bash- 
ful 3 [aid.' 

Slap-Jack gave his opinion unasked. 

n Up foresail," said he, with characteristic im- 
petuosity ; " run out the guns — double-shotted 
and depressed ; sport every rag of bunting ; close 
in round the convoy ; get plenty of way on, and 
run clean through, exchanging broadsides as we go 
ahead!" 

But Smoke-Jack treated the su££estion with 
contempt. 

" That's wot I call rough-and-tumble fighting, 
your honour," he grumbled, with a sheepish glance 
at the ladies ; for with all his boasted knowledge of 
their sex, he was unaccustomed to such specimens 
as these, and discomfited, as he admitted to himself, 
by the " trim on 'em." " Them's not games as is 
fitting for such a company as this here, if I may 
make so bold. No, no, your honour, it's good 
advice to keep to windward of a nigger, and it's 



252 CERISE. 

my opinion as we should weather them on this 
here tack ; get down to the beach with a long leg 
and a short one — half a mile and more below the 
town — fire three shots, as agreed on, for the boat, 
and so pull the ladies aboard on the quiet. After 
that, we might come ashore again, d'ye see, and 
have it out comfortable. What say you, Bottle- 
Jack ?" 

That worthy turned his quid, and looked preter- 
naturally wise ; the more so that the question was 
somewhat unexpected. He was all for keeping the 
ladies safe, he decided, now they had got them. 
Captain Kidd always did so, he remembered, and 
Captain Kidd could sail a ship and fight a ship, 
&c. ; but Bottle- Jack was more incoherent than 
usual — utterly adrift under the novelty of his 
situation, and gasping like a gudgeon at the Mar- 
quise and her daughter, whose beauty seemed 
literally to take away his breath. 

George soon made up his mind. 

" Is there any way to the beach," said he, ad- 
dressing himself rather to Cerise than her mother, 
" without touching the road to Port Welcome ? 
It seemed to me, as we marched up, that the 
high road made a considerable bend. If we could 
take the string instead of the bow we might save 



JUST IN TIME. 253 

a good deal of time, and perhaps escape observa- 
tion altogether." 

The Marquise and her daughter looked at each 
other helplessly. Had they been Englishwomen, 
indeed, even in that hot climate, they would pro- 
bably have known every by-road and mountain 
path within three leagues of their home ; but 
the ladies of France, though they dance exqui- 
sitely, are not strong walkers, and neither of 
these, during the months they had spent at Cash- 
a-erou, had yet acquired such a knowledge of the 
locality as might now have proved the salvation of 
the whole party. 

In this extremity a groan was heard to proceed 
out of the darkness at a few paces distance. Slap- 
jack, guided by the sound, and parting some 
shrubs that concealed her, discovered poor Fleu- 
rette, more dead than alive, bruised, exhausted, 
terrified, scarcely able to stand, and shot through 
the ankle by a chance bullet from the blue- 
jackets, yet conscious enough still to drag herself 
to the feet of Cerise and cover them with kisses, 
forgetting everything else in her joy to find her 
young mistress still alive. 

" You would serve me, Fleurette, I know," said 
Mademoiselle de Montmirail, in a cautious whisper ; 



254 CERISE. 

for, to her excited imagination, every shrub that 
glistened in the moonlight held a savage. "I can 
trust you ; I feel it. Tell me, is there no way to 
the sea but through our enemies ? Must we wit- 
ness more cruelties — more bloodshed ? Oh ! have 
we not had righting and horrors enough ?" 

The black girl twined herself upwards, like a 
creeper, till her head was laid against the other's 
bosom ; then she wept in silence for a few seconds 
ere she could command her voice to reply. 

" Trust me, lily ma'amselle," said she, in a tone 
of intense feeling that vouched for her truth. 
" Trust poor Fleurette ; give last drop of blood to 
help young missee safe. Go to Jumbo for lily 
ma'amselle now. Show um path safe across Sul- 
phur Mountain down to sea-shore. Fleurette walk 
pretty well tank you, now, if only buckra blue- 
jacket offer um hand. Not so, sar ! Impudent 
tief!" she added, indignantly, as Slap-Jack, tho- 
roughly equal to the occasion, at once put his arm 
round her waist. " Keep your distance, sar ! 
You only poor fore-topman. Dis good daddy help 
me alon^ fust." 

Thus speaking, she clung stoutly to Bottle-Jack, 
and proceeded to guide the party up the mountain 
along a path that she assured them was known but 



JUST IN TIME. 255 

to few of the negroes themselves, and avoided even 
by these, as being the resort of Jumbo and several 
other evil spirits much dreaded by the slaves. Of 
such supernatural terrors, she was good enough to 
inform them, they need have no fear, for that 
Jumbo and his satellites were fully occupied to- 
night in assisting the " bobbery " taking place all 
over the island ; and that even were they at leisure 
they would never approach a party in the centre of 
which was walking such an angel of light as 
Ma'amselle Cerise. 




CHAPTEK XVIII. 



MfcRE AVANT TOUT. 




HE path was steep and narrow, leading 
them, moreover, through the most 
tangled and inaccessible parts of the 
jungle. Their progress was necessarily 
tardy and laborious. Fleurette took the lead, sup- 
ported by Bottle-Jack, whose sea-legs seemed to 
carry him up-hill with difficulty, and who stopped 
to take breath more than once. The black girl's 
wound was painful enough, but she possessed that 
savage spirit of endurance which successfully resists 
mere bodily suffering, and walked with an active 
and elastic, though limping step. Blood, however, 
was still oozing from her wound, and a sense of 
faintness, resisted by sheer force of will, threatened 
at every moment to overpower her. She might 



MERE A VAST TOUT. 257 

just reach the crest of the hill, she thought, and 
then it would be all over with poor Fleurette ; but 
the rest would need no guide after that point was 
gained, and the faithful girl struggled on. 
^Next came Smoke-Jack, in attendance on the 
ladies, much exhilarated by the dignity of his 
position, yet ludicrously on his good behaviour, and 
afraid of committing himself, on the score of man- 
ners, by word or deed. The Marquise and her 
daughter walked hand in hand, wasting few words, 
and busied each with her own thoughts. They 
seemed to have exchanged characters with the 
events of the last few hours. Cerise, ever since 
her rescue, had displayed an amount of energy and 
resolution scarcely to-be expected from her usual 
demeanour, making light of present fatigue and 
coming peril in a true military spirit of gaiety and 
good-humour ; while her mother, on the contrary, 
betrayed in every word and gesture the languor 
of subdued emotion, and a certain softened, sad- 
dened preoccupation of manner, seldom to be 
remarked in the self-possessed and brilliant Mar- 
quise. 

Captain George, with Slap-Jack and the rest of 
the blue-jackets, brought up the rear. His fighting 
experience warned him that in no previous cam- 

VOL. II. s 



258 CERISE. 

paign had he ever found himself in so critical a 
position as at present. He was completely sur- 
rounded by the enemy. His own force, though 
well-armed and full of confidence, was ridiculously 
weak in numbers. He was encumbered with bag- 
gage (not to speak it disrespectfully) that must be 
protected at any sacrifice, and he had to make 
a forced march, through ground of which he was 
ignorant, dependent on the guidance of a half- 
savage girl, who might after all turn out to be a 
traitress. 

Under so many disadvantages, the former cap- 
tain of Musketeers showed that he had not for- 
gotten his early training. All eyes and ears, he 
seemed to be everywhere at once, anticipating 
emergencies, multiplying precautions, yet finding a 
moment every now and then for a word of polite- 
ness and encouragement to the ladies, to regret the 
roughness of the path, to excuse the prospective 
discomforts of the brigantine, or to assure them of 
their speedy arrival in a place of safety. On these 
occasions he invariably directed his speech to the 
Marquise and his looks to her daughter. 

Presently, as they continued to wind up the 
hill, the ascent grew more precipitous. At length, 
having crossed the bed of a rivulet that they 



MERE AVANT TOUT. 259 

could bear tumbling into a cascade many hun- 
dred feet below, they reached a pass on the moun- 
tain side where the path became level, but 
seemed so narrow as to preclude farther pro- 
gress. It turned at a sharp angle round the 
bare face of a cliff, which rose on one side sheer 
and perpendicular several fathoms above their 
heads, and on the other shelved as abruptly into 
a dark abyss, the depth of which, not one even of 
the seamen, accustomed as they were to giddy 
heights, dared measure with his eye. Fleurette 
alone, standing on the brink, peered into it with- 
out wavering, and pointing downwards, looked 
back on the little party with triumph. 

" See down there," said she, in a voice that 
grew fainter with every syllable. "No road 
round up above ; no road round down below. 
Once past here all safe, same as in bed at home. 
Come by, you ! take hands one by one — so — 
small piece more — find white lagoon. All done 
then. Good-night !" 

Holding each other by the hand, the whole 
party, to use Slap-Jack's expression, "rounded 
the point" in safety. They now found them- 
selves in an open and nearly flat space, encircled 
but unshadowed by the jungle. Below them, 

s 2 



260 CERISE. 

over a level of black tree 'tops, the friendly 
sea was shining in the moonlight ; and nearer 
yet, a gleam through the dark mass of forest de- 
noted that white lagoon of which Fleurette had 
spoken. 

On any other night it would have been a 
peaceful and a lovely sight ; but now a flickering 
glare on the sky showed them where the roof-tree 
of Montmirail West was burning into ashes, and 
the 'yells of the rioters could be heard, plainer 
and plainer, as they scoured the mountain in pur- 
suit of the fugitives, encouraging each other in 
their search. 

Some of these shouts sounded so near in the 
clear still night, that Captain George was of opinion 
their track had been already discovered and fol- 
lowed up. If this were indeed the case, no 
stand could be made so effectually as at the 
defile they had lately threaded, and he deter- 
mined to defend it to the last. For this pur- 
pose he halted his party and gave them their 
directions. 

" Slap-Jack," said he, " I've got a bit of sol- 
dier's work for you to do. It's play to a sailor, 
but you attend to my orders all the same. If 
these black devils overhaul us, they can only 



MERE AVANT TOUT. 261 

round that corner one at a time. I'll leave you with 
a couple of your own foretopmen here to stop that 
game. But we soldiers never want to fight with- 
out a support. Smoke- Jack and the rest of the 
boat's crew will remain at your back. What say 
ye, my lads ? It will be something queer if you 
can't hold a hundred darkies and more in such 
a post as this, say, for three-quarters of an hour. 
I don't ask ye for a minute longer j but mind 
ye, I expect that, if not a man of you ever 
comes on board again. When you've killed all 
the niggers, make sail straight away to the beach, 
fire three shots, and I'll send a boat off. You 
won't want to break your leave after to-night's 
work. At ail events, I wouldn't advise you 
to try, and I shall get the anchor up soon after 
sunrise. Bottle- Jack comes with me, in case 
the ladies should want more assistance, and 
this dark girl — what d'ye call her? — Fleurette, 
to show us the way. God bless ye, my lads ! 
Keep steady, level low, and don't pull till you 
see the whites of their eyes !" 

Bottle-Jack, slewing his body about with more 
than customary oscillation, declared his willingness 
to accompany the captain, but pointing to Fleu- 
rette, expressed a fear that " this here gal had got 



262 CERISE. 

a megrim or something, and wanted caulkin' very 
bad, if not refittin' altogether in dry dock." 

The moon shed a strong light upon the little 
party, and it was obvious that Fleurette, who had 
now sunk to the ground, with her head supported 
by Bottle-Jack as tenderly and carefully as if the 
honest tar had been an experienced nurse of her 
own sex, was seriously, if not mortally wounded, 
and certainly unable to proceed. The Marquise 
and her daughter were at her side in an instant, 
but she took no heed of the former, fixing her 
filmy eyes on Cerise, and pressing her young 
mistress's hand to her heart. 

" You kiss me once again," said she, faintly, and 
with a sad smile on her swarthy face, now turning 
to that wan leaden hue which makes a pale negro 
so ghastly an object. " Once again, so sweet ! 
ma'amselle, same as before. You go straight on 
to white lagoon — see ! Find canoe tied up. Stop 
here berry well, missee — Fleurette camp ' out all 
night. ISTo fear Jumbo now. Sleep on long after 
monkeys wake. Good-night !" 

It was with difficulty that Cerise could be 
prevailed on to leave the faithful girl who had 
sacrificed herself so willingly, and whom, indeed, 
she could hardly expect to see again ; but the 



MfeRE AVANT TOUT. 2Go 

emergency admitted of no delay, even on the score 
of gratitude and womanly compassion. George 
hurried the ladies forward in the direction of the 
lagoon, leaving Fleurette, now prostrate and un- 
conscious, to the care of Slap- Jack,, who pitied her 
from the depths of his honest heart. 

"It's a bad job," said he, taking off his jacket 
and folding it into a pillow for the poor girl's head, 
with as much tender care as if she had been his 
own Alice, of whom indeed he was thinking at the 
moment. "A real bad job, if ever there was one. 
Such a heart of oak as this here ; an' a likely lass 
too, though as black as a nor'-easter. Well, 
somebody '11 have to pay for this night's work, that's 
sartin. Ay ! yell away, you black beggars. We'll 
give you something to sing out for presently — an' 
you shall have it hot and heavy when you do get 
it, as sure as my name's Slap-Jack !" 

Captain George in the mean time led the two 
ladies swiftly down the open space before them, in 
the direction of the lagoon, which was now in sight. 
They had but to thread one more belt of lofty 
forest trees, from which the wild vines hung in a 
profusion of graceful festoons, and they were on the 
brink of the cool, peaceful water, spread like a 
sheet of silver at their feet. 



264 CERISE. 

" Five minutes more," said he, " and we are 
safe. Once across, and if that girl speaks truth, 
less than a quarter of a league will bring us to the 
beach. All seems quiet, too, on this side, and there 
is little chance of our being intercepted from the 
town. The boat will be in waiting within a cable's 
length off shore, and my signal will bring her in at 
once. Then I shall hope to conduct you safe on 
board, but both madame and mademoiselle 'must 
excuse a sailor's rough accommodation and a sailor's 
unceremonious welcome." 

The Marquise did not immediately answer. She 
was looking far ahead into the distance, as though 
she heard not, or at least heeded not, and yet 
every tone of his voice was music to her ears, every 
syllable he spoke curdled like some sweet and 
subtle poison in her blood. Notwithstanding the 
severe fatigue and fierce excitement of the night, 
she walked with head erect, and proud imperious 
step, like a queen amongst her courtiers, or an 
enchantress in the circle she has drawn. There 
was a wild brilliancy in her eyes, there was a fixed 
red spot on either cheek ; but for all her assumption 
of pride, for all her courage and all her self- 
command, her hand trembled, her breath came 
quick, and the Marquise knew that she had never 



MfcRE AVANT TOUT. 265 

yet felt so thoroughly a weak and dependent 
woman as now, when she turned at last to thank 
her preserver for his noble efforts, and dared not 
even raise her eyes to meet his own. 

'• You have saved us, monsieur," was all she 
could stammer out, " and how can we show our 
gratitude enough ? We shall never forget ^ the 
moment of supreme danger, nor the brave man 
who came between those ruffians and their prey. 
Shall we, Cerise ?" 

But Cerise made no answer, though she managed 
to convey her thanks in some hidden manner that 
afforded Captain George a satisfaction quite out of 
proportion to their value. 

They had now reached the edge of the lagoon, 
to find, as Fleurette had indicated, a shallow 
rickety canoe, moored to a post half-buried in the 
water, worm-eaten, rotten, and crumbling to decay. 
The bark itself was in little better preservation, 
and on a near inspection they discovered, much to 
their discomfiture, that it would hold at best but 
one passenger at a time. It had evidently not been 
used for a considerable period, and after months of 
exposure and ill-usage, without repair, was indeed, 
as a means of crossing the lagoon, little better than 
so much brown paper. George's heart sank while 



266 CERISE. 

he inspected it. There was no paddle, and 
although such a want might easily be remedied 
with a knife and the branch of a tree, every 
moment of delay seemed so dangerous, that the 
captain made up his mind to use another method 
of propulsion, and cross over at once. 

" Madame," said he to the Marquise, " our 
only safety is on the other side of this lagoon. 
Fifty strokes of a strong swimmer would take him 
there. No paddle has been left in that rickety 
little craft, nor dare I waste the few minutes it 
would take to fashion one. Moreover, neither 
mademoiselle nor yourself could use it, and you 
need only look at your shallop to be sure that it 
would never carry two. This, then, is what I 
propose. I will place one of you in the canoe, and 
swim across, pushing it before me. Bottle-Jack 
will remain here to guard the other. For that 
purpose I will leave him my pistols in addition to 
his own. When my first trip is safely accomplished, 
I will return with the canoe and repeat the experi- 
ment. The whole can be done in a short quarter 
of an hour. Excuse me, mad am e, but for this 
work I must divest myself of coat, cravat, and 
waistcoat." 

Thus speaking, Captain George disencumbered 



M&RE AVANT TOUT. 267 

himself rapidly of these garments, and assisted by 
Bottle-Jack, tilted the light vessel on its side, to 
get rid of its superfluous weight of water. Then 
standing waist-deep in the lagoon, he prepared it 
for the reception of its freight ; no easy matter with 
a craft of this description, little more roomy and 
substantial than a cockle-shell, without the ad- 
vantage of being water-tight. Spreading his laced 
coat along the bottom of the canoe, he steadied it 
carefully against the bank, and signed to the ladies 
that all was now in readiness for embarkation. 

They exchanged wistful looks. Neither seemed 
disposed to grasp at her own safety and leave the 
other in danger. Bottle- Jack, leaning over the 
canoe, continued baling the water out with his 
hand. Notwithstanding the captain's precautions 
it leaked fast, and seemed even now little calculated 
to land a passenger dry on the farther shore. 

"Mamma, I will not leave you," said Cerise, 
" you shall go first with George. With monsieur, 
I mean ." She corrected herself, blushing violently. 
" Monsieur can then return for me, and I shall be 
quite safe with this good old man, who is, you 
perceive, armed to the teeth, and as brave as a 
lion besides." 

" That is why I do not fear to remain," returned 



268 CERISE. 

the Marquise. " Child, I could not bear to see 
this sheet of water between us, and you on the 
dangerous side. We can neither fly nor swim, alas ! 
though the latter art we might have learned long 
ago. Cerise, I insist on your crossing first. It may 
be the last command I shall ever lay upon you." 

But Cerise was still obstinate, and the canoe 
meanwhile filled fast, in spite of Bottle-Jack's 
exertions. That worthy, whose very nose was 
growing pale, though not with fear, took no heed 
of their dilemma, but continued his task with a 
mechanical, half-stupefied persistency, like a man 
under the influence of opium. The quick eye of 
the Marquise had detected this peculiarity of 
manner, and it made her the more determined not 
to leave her daughter under the old seaman's 
charge. Their dispute might have been protracted 
till even Captain George's courtesy would have 
given way; but a loud yell from the defile they 
had lately quitted, followed by a couple of shots 
and a round of British cheers, warned them all 
that not a moment was to be lost, for that their 
retreat was even now dependent on the handful of 
brave men left behind to guard the pass. 

" My daughter shall go first, monsieur ? Is it 
not so7" exclaimed the Marquise, with an eager- 



MfeRE AVANT TOUT. 269 

ness of eye and excitement of manner she had not 
betrayed in all the previous horrors of the night. 

"It is better," answered George. "Mademoi- 
selle is perhaps somewhat the lightest." And 
although he strove to make his voice utterly 
unmoved and indifferent, there was in its tone a 
something of intense relief, of deep, heartfelt joy, 
that told its own tale. 

The Marquise knew it all at last. She saw the 
past now, not piece by piece, in broken detail as 
it had gone by, but all at once, as the mariner, 
sailing out of a fogbank, beholds the sunny sky, 
and the blue sea, and the purple outlines of the 
shore. It came upon her as a shot goes through a 
wild deer. The creature turns sick and faint, and 
knowing all is over, yet would fain ignore its hurt 
and keep its place, erect, stately, and uncom- 
plaining, amongst the herd ; not the less surely 
has it got its death-wound. 

How carefully he placed Cerese in the frail 
bark of which she was to be the sole occupant. 
How tenderly he drew the laced coat between the 
skirt of her delicate white dress and the flimsy 
shattered wood-work, worn, splintered, and drip- 
ping wet even now. Notwithstanding the haste 
required, notwithstanding that every moment was 



270 CERISE. 

of such importance in this life-and-death voyage, 
how he seemed to linger over the preparations 
that brought him into contact with his precious 
freight. At last they were ready. A farewell 
embrace between mother and daughter ; a husky 
cheer delivered in a whisper from Bottle-Jack ; 
a hurried thanksgiving for perils left behind ; an 
anxious glance at the opposite shore, and the 
canoe floated off with its burden, guided by 
George, who in a few yards was out of his depth 
and swimming onward in long measured strokes 
that pushed it steadily before him. 

The Marquise, watching their progress with 
eager restless glance, that betrayed strong passions 
and feelings kept down by a stronger will, observed 
that when within a pistol-shot of the opposite 
shore the bark was propelled swiftly through the 
water, as if the swimmer exerted himself to the 
utmost — so much so as to drive it violently against 
the bank. George's voice, while his dripping 
figure emerged into sight, warned her that all was 
well ; but straining her eyes in the uncertain light, 
the Marquise, though she discerned her daughter's 
white dress plainly enough, could see nothing of 
the boat. Again George shouted, but she failed 
to make out the purport of what he said ; though 



MfcRE AVANT TOUT. 271 

a gleam of intelligence on the old seaman's face 
made her turn to Bottle-Jack. " What is it ?" she 
asked, anxiously. " Why does he not come back 
to us with the canoe ?" 

"The canoe will make no more voyages, my 
lady," answered the old man, with a grim leer that 
had in it less of mirth than pain. " She's foun- 
dered, that's wot she's been an' done. They'll send 
back for us, never fear ; so you an' me will keep 
watch and watch till they come ; an' if you please, 
my lady, askin' your pardon, I'll keep my watch 
first." 



CHAPTER XIX. 



ALL ADEIFT. 




HE Marquise scarcely heard him. She 
was intent on those two figures 
scrambling up the opposite shore, and 
fast disappearing into the darkness 
beyond. It seemed that the darkness was closing 
in around herself, never again to be dispelled. 
When those were gone what was there left on 
earth for her? She had lost Cerise, she told 
herself, the treasure she had guarded so carefully ; 
the darling for whom she would have sacrificed 
her life a thousand times, as the events of the last 
few hours proved ; the one aim and object of her 
whole existence, without which she was alone in the 
world. And now this man had come and taken 
her child away, and it would never be the same 



ALL ADRIFT. 273 

thing again. Cerise loved him, she was sure of 
that. Ah! they could not deceive her; and he 
loved Cerise. She knew it by his voice in those 
few words when he suggested that the girl should 
cross the water first. The Marquise twined her 
fingers together, as if she was in pain. 

They must be safe now. Walking side by side 
on the peaceful beach, waiting for the boat that 
should bear them away, would they forget all 
about her in the selfishness of their new-found 
happiness, and leave her to perish here? She 
wished they would. She wished the rioters, 
coming on in overwhelming numbers, might force 
the pass and drive these honest blue-jackets in 
before them to make. a last desperate stand at the 
water's edge. She could welcome death then, 
offering herself willingly to insure the safety of 
those two. 

And what was this man to her that she should 
give him up her daughter, that she should be 
ready to give up her life rather than endanger 
his happiness? She winced, she quivered with 
pain and shame because of the feelings her own 
question called up. What was he to her? The 
noblest, the dearest, the bravest, the best-beloved ; 
the realization of her girl's dreams, of her woman's 

VOL. II. T 



274 CERISE. 

passions, the type of all that she had ever 
honoured and admired and longed for to make her 
happiness complete! She remembered so well 
the boy's gentle brow, the frank kind ejes that 
smiled and danced with delight to be noticed by 
her, a young and beautiful widow, flattered and 
coveted of all the Great King's Court. She 
recalled, as if it were but yesterday, the stag-hunt 
at Fontainebleau ; the manly figure and the 
daring horsemanship of the Grey Musketeer ; her 
own mad joy in that wild gallop, and the strange 
keen zest life seemed to have acquired when she 
rode home through those sleeping woods, under 
the dusky purple of that soft autumnal night. 
How she used to watch for him afterwards, amidst 
all the turmoil of feasts and pleasures that con- 
stituted the routine of the new Court. How well 
she knew his place of ceremony, his turn of duty, 
and loved the very sentries at the palace-gate for 
his sake. Often had she longed to hint by a look, 
a gesture, the flirt of a fan, the dropping of a 
flower, that he had not far to seek for one who 
would care for him as he deserved ; but even the 
Marquise shrank, and feared, and hesitated, woman- 
like, where she really loved. Then came that 
ever-memorable night at the Masked Ball, when 



ALL ADRIFT. '275 

cried out loud, in her longing and her loneli- 
ness, and never knew afterwards whether she was 
glad or sorry for what she had done. 

It was soon to be over then, for ere a few more 
Jays had elapsed the Kegent ventured on his 
ueless outrage at the Hotel Montmirail, and 
lo ! in the height of her indignation and her need, 
who should drop down, as it seemed, from the 
skies, to be her champion, but the man of all 
others whom most she could have loved and 
trusted in the world ! 

Since then, had she not thought of him by day 
and dreamt of him by night, dwelling on his image 
with a fond persistency none the less cherished be- 
cause saddened and desponding — content, if better 
might not be, to worship it in secret to the last, 
though she might never look on its original again ? 

The real and the ideal had so acted on each 
other, that while he seemed to her the perfection of 
all manhood should be, that very type was un- 
consciously but a faithful copy of himself. In 
short, she loved him ; and when such a man is 
loved by such a woman it is usually but little 
conducive to his happiness, and thoroughly destruc- 
tive of her own. 

If I have mistaken the originator of so beautiful 

T 2 



276 CERISE. 

and touching an illustration, I humbly beg his 
pardon, but I think it is Alphonse Karr who teaches, 
in his remarks on the great idolatry of all times and 
nations, that it is well to sow plenty of flowers in 
that prolific soil which is fertilized by the heart's sun- 
shine and watered by its tears — plenty of flowers, 
the brighter, the sweeter, the more fragile, perhaps, 
the better. Winter may cut them down indeed to 
the cold earth, yet spring-time brings another crop 
as fair, as fresh, as fragile, and as easily replaced 
as those that bloomed before. But it is unwise to 
plant a tree ; because, if that tree be once torn up by 
the roots, the flowers will never grow over the barren 
place again! 

The Marquise had not indeed planted the tree, 
but she had allowed it unwittingly to grow. Perhaps 
she would never have confessed its existence to 
herself had it not thus been forcibly torn away by 
roots that had for years twined deeper and deeper 
among all its gentlest and all its strongest feelings, 
till they had become as the very fibres of her 
heart. 

It is needless to say that the Marquise was 
a woman elevated both by disposition and educa- 
tion above the meaner and pettier weaknesses of 
her sex. If she was masculine in her physical 



ALL ADRIFT. 277 

courage and moral recklessness of consequences* 
she was masculine a) so in a certain generosity of 
spirit and noble disdain for anything like malice or 
foul play. Jealousy with her — and, like all strong 
natures, she could feel jealousy very keenly — would 
never be visited on the object that had caused it. 
She would hate and punish herself under the 
torture ; she might even be goaded to hate and 
punish the man at whose hands she was suffering ; 
but she would never have injured the woman 
whom he preferred, and, indeed, supported by 
a scornful pride, would have taken a strange 
morbid pleasure in enhancing her own pain by 
ministering to that woman's happiness. 

Therefore she was saved a keen pang now. A 
pang that might have rendered her agony too 
terrible to endure. She had not concealed from 
herself to-night that the thrill of delight she 
experienced from the arrival of succour was due 
rather to the person who brought it than to the 
stance itself; but almost ere she had time to 
realize its charm the illusion had been dispelled, 
and she felt that, dream as it all was, she had been 
wakened ere she had time to dream it out. 

And now it seemed to her that nothing would 
be so good as the excitement of another skirmish, 



278 CERISE. 

another struggle, and a sudden death, with the 
cheers of these brave Englishmen ringing in her 
ears. A death that Cerise would never forget had 
been encountered for her safety, that he would 
sometimes remember, and remembering, accord a 
smile and a sigh to the beauty he had neglected, 
and the devotion he had never known till too late. 

Engrossed with such thoughts, the Marquise was 
less alive than usual to surrounding impressions. 
Presently a deep groan, forced from her companion 
by combined pain and weakness, against which the 
sufferer could no longer hold out, roused her to a 
sense of her situation, which was indeed sufficiently 
precarious to have warranted much anxiety and 
alarm. 

Hastening to his side, she was shocked to 
perceive that Bottle- Jack had sunk to the ground, 
and was now endeavouring ineffectually to support 
himself on his knees in an attitude of vigilance 
and defence. The Captain's pistols lay beside 
him, and he carried his own in each hand, but his 
glazing eye and fading colour showed that the 
weapons could be but of little service, and the 
time seemed fast approaching when the old sailor 
should be relieved from his duty by an order 
against which there was no appeal. 



ALL ADRIKT. 279 

The Marquise had scarcely listened to the words 
while he spoke them, but they came back now, and 
she understood what he meant when he told her 
that, if she pleased, " he would keep his watch first." 

She looked around and shuddered. It was, 
indeed, a cheerless position enough. The moon 
was sinking, and that darkest hour of the night 
approached which is followed by dawn, just as 
sorrow is succeeded by consolation, and death 
by immortality. The breeze struck damp and 
chill on her unprotected neck and bosom, for there 
had been no time to think of cloaks or shawls 
when she escaped, nor was the air sufficiently cold 
before midnight to remind her of such precautions. 
The surrounding jungle stirred and sighed faintly, 
yet sadly, in the night air. The waters of the deep 
lagoon, now darkening with a darkening sky, 
lapped drearily against their bank. Other noises 
were there none, for the rioters seemed to have 
turned back from the resistance offered by Slap- 
jack with his comrades, and to have abandoned 
for the present their search in that direction. The 
seamen who guarded the defile were peering 
stealthily into the gloom, not a man relaxing in 
his vigilance, not a man stirring on his post. The 
only sounds that broke her solitude were the rest- 



280 CERISE. 

less movements of Bottle- Jack, and the groans 
that would not be suppressed. It was no wonder 
the Marquise shuddered. 

She stooped over the old seaman, and took his 
coarse, heavy hand in hers. Even at such an 
extremity, Bottle-Jack seemed conscious of the 
contrast, and touched it delicately, like some 
precious and fragile piece of porcelain. " I fear 
you are hurt," said she, in his own language, which 
she spoke with the measured accent of her country- 
women. "Tell me what it is ; I am not a bad 
doctor myself." 

Bottle-Jack tried to laugh. " It's a fleabite, my 
lady," said he, setting his teeth to conceal the pain 
he suffered. " Tis but a poke in the side after all, 
though them black beggars does grind their spear- 
heads to an edge like a razor. It's betwixt wind 
and water, d'ye see, marm, if I may be so bold, and 
past caulking, in my opinion. I'm a fillin' fast, 
that's where it is, askin' your pardon again for 
naming it to a lady like you." 

She partly understood him, and for the first time 
to-night the tears came into her eyes. They did 
her good. They seemed to clear her faculties and 
cool her brain. She examined the old man's hurt, 
after no small resistance on his part, and found a 



ALL ADRIFT. 281 

deep wound between his ribs, which even her 
experience warned her must be mortal. She 
staunched it as well as she could, tearing up the 
lace and other trimmings of her dress to form a 
temporary bandage. Then she bent down to the 
lagoon to dip her coroneted handkerchief in water 
and lay it across his brow, while she supported his 
sinking frame upon her knees. He looked in her 
face with a puzzled, wandering gaze, like a man in 
a dream. The vision seemed so unreal, so im- 
possible, so unlike anything he had ever seen 
before, Bottle- Jack began to think he had reached 
Fiddlers-Green at last. 

The minutes dragged slowly on. The sky 
became darker, the breeze colder, and the strangely 
matched pair continued in the same position on the 
brink of the white lagoon, the Marquise dipping 
her handkerchief at short intervals, and moistening 
the sailor's mouth. It was all she could do for 
him, and like a faithful old dog, wounded to the 
death, he could only thank her with his eyes. 
More than once she thought he was gone, but as 
moment after moment crept by, so sad, so slow, 
she knew he was still alive. 

Would it never be day ? She could scarcely see 
him now, though his heavy head rested on her 



282 CERISE. 

knees, though her hand with the moistened hand- 
kerchief was laid on his very lips. At last the 
breeze freshened, sighing audibly through the tree- 
tops, which were soon dimly seen swaying to and 
fro against a pale streak of sky on the horizon. 
Bottle-Jack started and sat up. 

" Stand by !" he exclaimed, looking wildly round. 
" You in the fore-chains ! Keep your axe ready to 
cut away when she rounds to. Easy, lads ! She'll 
weather it now, and I'll go below and turn in." 

Then he laid his head once more on Madame de 
Montmirail's knees, like a child who turns round 
to go to sleep. 

The grey streak had grown to a wide rent of 
pale green, now broadening and brightening into 
day. Ere the sky was yet flecked with crimson, 
or the distant tree-tops tinged with golden fire, the 
life of the whole jungle was astir, waking the 
discords of innumerable menageries. Cockatoos 
whistled, monkeys chattered, parrots screamed, 
mocking-birds reproduced these and a thousand 
other sounds a thousand-fold. All nature seemed 
renewed, exulting in the freshened energies of 
another day, but still the Marquise sat by the 
lagoon, pale, exhausted, worn out, motionless, with 
the dead seaman's head in her lap ; 




CHAPTER XX. 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 




UT, madame, I am as anxious as 
you can be ! Independent of my 
own feelings — and judge if they be 
not strong — the brigan tine should not 
lie here another hour. After last night's work, it 
will not be long before a Spanish man-of-war 
shows herself in the offing, and I have no desire 
that our papers should be overhauled, now when 
my cruise is so nearly finished. I tell you, my 
dearest wish is to have it settled, and weigh with 
the next tide." 

Captain George spoke from his heart, yet the 
Marquise seemed scarcely satisfied. Her move- 
ments were abrupt and restless, her eyes glittered, 
and a fire as of fever burned in her cheeks, some- 



284 CERISE. 

what wasted with all her late excitement and 
suspense. For the first time, too, he detected 
silver lines about the temples, under those heavy- 
black locks that had always seemed to Jbim only 
less beautiful than her child's. 

"Not a moment must be lost," said she, "not a 
moment — not a moment," and repeating her 
words, walked across the deck to gaze wistfully 
over the side on Port Welcome, with its white 
houses glistening in the morning sun. They were 
safe on board ' The Bashful Maid,' glad to escape 
with life from the successful revolt that had burned 
Montmiraii West to the ground, and destroyed 
most of the white people's property on the island. 
Partly owing to its distance from the original scene 
of outbreak, partly from its lying under the very 
guns of the brigantine, of which the tonnage and 
weight of metal had been greatly exaggerated by 
the negroes, Port Welcome was yet standing, but its 
black population were keeping high holiday, appa- 
rently masters of the situation, and its white resi- 
dents crept about in fear and trembling, not 
knowing how much longer they might be allowed 
to call their very lives their own. It had been a 
memorable night, a night of murder and rapine, 
and horror and dismay. Few escaped so well as 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 285 

Madame de Montmirail and her daughter. None 
indeed had the advantage of such a rescue. The 
negroes who tracked them into the bush, and who 
had delayed their departure to appropriate such 
plunder as they could snatch from the burning 
house, or to drink from its cellars success to the 
revolt, only reached that defile through which the 
fugitives were guided by Fleurette after these had 
passed by. The disappointed pursuers were there 
received by a couple of shots from Slap-Jack and 
his shipmates, which drove them back in disorder, 
yelling, boasting, vowing vengeance, but without 
any thought of again placing themselves in danger 
from lead or steel. In the death of Hippolyte, 
the revolt had lost its chief, and became from that 
moment virtually a failure. The Coromantee 
was the only uegro concerned really capable of 
directing such a movement, and when his leader- 
ship was disposed of by a rapid thrust from Cap- 
tain George's rapier, the whole scheme was 
destined to fall to pieces of itself, after the reaction 
which always follows such disorders had taken 
place, and the habits of every-day life began to re- 
assert themselves. In the mean time, the blacks 
had more congenial amusements in store than 
voluntary collision with an English boat's crew, 



286 CERISE. 

and soon desisted from a search, through, the 
jungle, apparently as troublesome and hazardous 
as a hunt for a hornet's nest. 

By sunrise, therefore, Slap- Jack was able to draw 
off his party from their post, and fall back to where 
the Marquise sat watching by the dead seaman, on 
the brink of the lagoon. Nor was Bottle-Jack 
the only victim of their escape, for poor Fleurette 
had already paid the price of her fidelity with her 
life. 

A strong reinforcement from 'The Bashful 
Maid,' led by her Captain in person, who had 
returned at once, after placing Cerise in safety, 
enabled Madame de Montmirail and her defenders 
to take the high road to Port Welcome in defiance 
of all opposition. They therefore rounded the 
lagoon at once, and proceeding by an easier 
route than that which her daughter followed, 
reached the quay at their leisure, thence to em- 
bark on board the brigantine unmolested by the 
crowds of rioters with whom the town was filled. 

Therefore it was that Madame de Montmirail 
now found herself on the deck of 'The Bashful 
Maid,' urging with a strange persistency, unusual 
and even unbecoming in a mother, Captain 
George's immediate marriage to her child, who 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 287 

was quietly sleeping off the night's fatigues 
below. 

" There is the chapel, madame," said George, 
pointing to the little white edifice that stood 
between the lighthouse and the town, distin- 
guished by a cross that surmounted its glistening 
roof, ''and here is the bride, safe, happy, and I 
hope sound asleep beneath the very spot where we 
are standing. I know not why there should be 
an hour's delay, if indeed the priest have not taken 
flight. There must have been a prospect of 
martyrdom last night, which he would scarce wish 
to inspect too closely. Ah! madame, I may 
seem cold and undemonstrative, but if you could 
look into my heart. you would see how happy I 
am!" 

His voice and manner carried with them a con- 
viction not to be disputed. It probed the 
Marquise to the quick, and true to her character, 
she pressed the instrument deeper and deeper into 
the wound. 

"You love her then, monsieur?" she said, 
speaking very clearly and distinctly through her 
set teeth. "You love her as a woman must be 
loved if she would be happy — unreservedly, with 
your whole heart ?" 



288 CERISE. 

" I love her so well," he answered, " that I only 
ask to pass my life in contributing to her happi- 
ness. Mine has been a rude, wild career, in many 
scenes and many countries. I have lived in 
society and out of society, afloat and ashore, at 
bivouac fires and Court receptions, yet I have 
always carried the portrait of that one gentle 
loving face printed on my heart." 

"I compliment you on your constancy," she 
answered rather bitterly. M Such gallants have 
been very rare of late both at the old and new 
Courts. You . must have seen other women too, 
as amiable, as beautiful, who could have loved you 
perhaps as well." 

Something like a sigh escaped her with the con- 
cluding sentence, but there is no egotist like a 
happy lover, and he was too preoccupied with his 
own thoughts to perceive it. Smiling in his 
companion's face, with the old honest expression 
that reminded her of what he had been as a boy, 
he took her hand and kissed it affection ately. 

". Madame," said he, " shall I make you a 
frank avowal ? Ever since I was a wild page at 
Versailles, and you were so kind to me, I have 
believed in Madame de Montmirail as my ideal of 
all that woman should be, and perhaps might 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 289 

never have loved Cerise so well had slie not 
resembled her mother." 

The Marquise was not without plenty of self- 
command, but she wanted it all now. Under 
pretence of adjusting her glove, she snatched away 
the hand he held, that he might not feel it 
tremble, and forced herself to laugh while she 
replied lightly — ' 

" You are complimentary, monsieur, but your 
compliments are somewhat out of date. An 
old woman, you know, does not like to be re- 
minded of her age, and you were, yes, I honestly 
confess you were, a dear, mischievous, good-look- 
ing, good-for-nothing boy in that far-off time so 
long ago. But all this is nothing to the purpose. 
Let us send ashore at once to the priest. The 
ceremony may take place at noon, and I can give 
the young couple my blessing before wishing them 
good-bye." 

■ How, madame ?" replied he, astonished. " You 
will surely accompany us ? You will return with 
us to Europe ? You will never trust yourself ' 
amongst these savages again, after once escaping 
out of their hands?" 

" I shall be safe enough when the garrison has 
crossed the mountain," she answered, " and that 

VOL. II. U 



290 CERISE. 

must be in a few hours, for they are probably even 
now on the march. Till then I will take refuge 
with the Jesuits on their plantation at Maria- 
Galante. I do not think all my people can have 
rebelled. Some of them will escort me faithfully 
as far as that. No, monsieur, the La Fiertes have 
never been accustomed to abandon a - post of 
danger, and I shall not leave the island until this 
rising has been completely put down." 

She spoke carelessly, almost contemptuously, but 
she scarcely knew what she said. Her actual 
thoughts, had she allowed herself to utter them, 
would have thus framed themselves : " Can there 
be anything so blind, so heartless, so self-engrossed 
— shall I say it ? — so entirely and hopelessly stupid 
as a man ?" 

It was not for George to dispute her wishes. 
Though little given to illusions, he could scarcely 
believe that he was not dreaming now, so strange 
did it seem to have achieved in the last twelve 
nours that which had hitherto formed the one 
engrossing object of his life, prized, coveted, dwelt 
on the more that it looked almost impossible of 
fulfilment. There was but one drawback to his 
joy, one difficulty left, perplexing indeed, although 
simple, and doubly annoying because others of 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 291 

apparently far greater moment had been sur- 
mounted. There was no priest to be found in 
Port Welcome! The good old Portuguese Cure 
who took spiritual charge of the white inhabitants, 
and such negroes as could be induced to pay atten- 
tion to his ministering, had been nearly frightened 
out of his wits by the outbreak. This quiet meek 
old man, who, since he left his college forty years 
before, had never known an excitement or anxiety 
greater than a visit from his bishop or a blight in 
his plantain-ground, now found himself surrounded 
by swarms of drunken and infuriated slaves, yell- 
ing for his life. It was owing to the presence of 
mind shown by an old coloured woman who lived 
with him as housekeeper, and to no energy or 
activity of his own, that he made his escape. She 
smuggled him out of the town through a bye- 
street, and when he had once got his mule into 
an amble he never drew rein till he reached the 
Jesuits' establishment at Maria-Galante, where he 
found a qualified welcome and a precarious refuge. 
From this shelter, defenceless and uncertain as it 
was, nothing would induce him to depart till the 
colours of a Spanish three-decker were flying in 
the harbour, and ere such an arrival could restore 
confidence to the colony it would behove 'The 

u2 



292 CERISE. 

Bashful Maid' to spread her wings and flee 
away. 

Captain George was at his wits' end. In such a 
dilemma he bethought him of consulting his second 
in command. For this purpose he went below to 
seek Beaudesir, and found him keeping guard at 
the cabin-door within which Mademoiselle de 
Montmirail was reposing, a post he had held with- 
out stirring since she came on board before dawn, 
and was confided by the Captain to his care. He 
had not spoken to her, he had not even seen her 
face ; but from that moment he had exchanged no 
words with his comrades, standing as pale, as 
silent, and almost as motionless as a statue. He 
started violently when the Captain spoke, and 
collected his faculties with an obvious effort. 
George could not but observe his preoccupa- 
tion. 

" I am in a difficulty," said the latter, " as 1 
have already told you more than once. Try and 
comprehend me. I do not often ask for advice, 
but I want yours now." 

"You shall have it at any cost," replied the 
other. " Do not I owe everything in the world to 

you?" 

"Listen," continued George. "The young lady 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 293 

whom my honest fellows rescued last night, and 
whom I brought on board, is — is — Mademoiselle 
de Montmirail herself." 

"I know — I know," answered Beaude'sir, im- 
patiently. "At least, I mean you mentioned it 
before." 

" Very likely," returned the Captain, " though 
I do not remember it. Well, it so happens, you 
see, that this is the same young lady — the person — 
the individual — in short, I have saved the woman 
of all others who is most precious to me in the 
world." 

" Of course — of course," repeated Beaudesir, im- 
patiently, "she cannot go back — she shall not 
go back amongst those wretches. She must stay 
on board. You must take her to Europe. There 
should be no delay. You must be married — now — 
immediately — within two hours — before we get 
the anchor up." 

He seemed strangely eager, restless, excited. 
Without actually acknowledging it, George felt 
instinctively that something in his friend's manner 
reminded him of the Marquise. 

"There is a grave difficulty," said the Captain. 
"Where can we find a priest? That fat little 
Portuguese who looked like a guinea-pig is sure 



294 CERISE. 

to have run away, if the negroes have not cut his 
throat." 

The other reflected, his pale face turning paler 
every moment. Then he spoke, in a low deter- 
mined voice — 

"My Captain, there is a Society of Jesuits on 
the island : I know it for certain ; do not ask me 
why. I have never failed you, have I ? Trust me 
yet this once. Order a boat to be manned ; I will 
go ashore instantly ; follow in an hour's time with 
a strong guard ; bring your bride with you ; I will 
undertake that everything shall be ready at the 
chapel, and a priest in waiting to perform the 
ceremony." 

George looked him straight in the face. " You 
are a true friend," said he, and gave him his 
hand. The other bent over it as if he would 
have put it to his lips, and when he raised 
his head again his eyes were full of tears. He 
turned away hastily, sprang on deck, and in five 
minutes the boat was lowered and Beaudesir over 
the side. 

George tapped humbly at the cabin door, and a 
gentle face, pale but lovely, peeped out to greet 
him. After his whisper the face was anything but 
pale, and although the little monosyllabe 'No' 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 295 

was repeated again and again in that pleading, 
yielding tone which robs the negative of all its 
harshness, the boon he begged must have been 
already nearly accorded if there be any truth in 
the old Scottish proverb which affirms that " Nine- 
teen nay-says make half a grant." 

In less than two hours the bridal procession was 
formed upon the quay, guarded by some score of 
stalwart, weatherbeaten tars, and presenting an 
exceedingly formidable front to the crowds of 
grinning negroes who were idling in the sun, 
talking over the events of the past night, and 
congratulating; themselves that no such infliction 
as field-work was ever to be heard of in the island 
again. 

It was a strange and picturesque wedding, 
romantic enough in appearance and reality to have 
satisfied the wildest imagination. Smoke-Jack 
and certain athletic able seamen marched in front ; 
Slap-Jack and his foretop-men brought up the 
rear. In the centre walked the Marquise and her 
daughter, accompanied by the bridegroom. Four 
deep on each side were the special attendants of 
the bride, reckless in gait, free in manner, bronzed, 
bearded, broad-shouldered, and armed to the teeth, 
vet cherishing perhaps as deep a devotion for her 



296 CERISE. 

whom they attended to the altar as could have 
been entertained by the fairest bevy of bride's- 
maids that ever belonged to her own sex. 

Cerise was very grave and very silent ; happy 
indeed beyond expression, yet a little frightened 
at the extent as at the suddenness of her own 
happiness. 

It seemed so strange to be besieged, rescued, 
carried off by a lover, and married to him, all 
within twenty-four hours. The Marquise, on the 
contrary, was gay, talkative, brilliant, full of life 
and spirits ; more beautiful too than usual, in the 
bright light of that noonday sun. Slap-Jack, who 
considered himself no mean judge of such matters, 
was much distracted by the conflict in his own 
mind as to whether, under similar circumstances, 
he would have chosen the mother or the child. 

Taking little notice of the crowd who followed 
at a respectful distance, having received from the 
free-handed sailors several very intelligible hints 
not to come too near, the bridal procession moved 
steadily through the outskirts of the town and 
ascended the hill on which the chapel stood. 

Halting at its door, the crew formed a strong 
guard to prevent interruption, and the principal 
performers, accompanied only by Smoke-Jasck, 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 297 

Slap-Jack, and the Marquise, entered the building. 
There were flowers on the altar, with wax tapers 
already lighted, and every thing seemed prepared for 
the ceremony. A priest, standing with his back to 
them, was apparently engaged in putting a finish- 
ing touch to the decorations when they advanced. 
Cerise, bewildered, frightened, agitated, clung to 
her mother's arm. " Courage, my child," said the 
Marquise, " it will soon be over, and you need 
never do this again !" 

There was something in the voice so hard, so 
measured, so different from its usual tone, that the 
girl glanced anxiously in her face. It betrayed no 
s}mptoms of emotion, not even the little flutter of 
maternal pride and anxiety natural to the occasion. 
It was flushed, imperious, defiant, and strangely 
beautiful. Slap- Jack entertained no longer the 
slightest doubt of its superiority to any face he had 
ever seen. And yet no knightly visor, no Eastern 
yashmak ever concealed its real wearer more 
effectually than that lovely mask which she forced 
to do her bidding, though every muscle beneath 
was quivering in pain the while. 

Nor was the Marquise the only person under 
this consecrated roof who curbed unruly feelings 
with a strong and merciless hand. That priest, 



298 CERISE. 

with his back to the little congregation, adjusting 
with trembling gestures the sacred symbols of his 
faith, had fought during the last hour or two such 
a battle as a man can only fight once in a life- 
time ; a battle that, if lost, yields him a prey to 
evil without hope of rescue ; if won, leaves him 
faint, exhausted, bleeding, a maimed and shattered 
champion for the rest of his earthly life. Since 
sunrise he had wrestled fiercely with sin and self. 
They had helped each other lustily to pull him 
down, but he had prevailed at last. Though one 
insuperable barrier already existed between him- 
self and the woman he loved so madly at the cost 
of his very soul, it was hard to rear another equally 
insurmountable, with his own hand ; but it would 
insure her happiness — he resolved to do it, and 
therefore he was here. 

So when Cerise and her lover advanced to the 
altar, and the Jesuit priest whom they had imagined 
to be a stranger from Maria-Galante turned round 
to confront them, in spite of its contracted features, 
in spite of its wan, death-like hue, they recognized 
him at once, and exclaimed simultaneously, in 
accents of intense surprise, " Brother Ambrose !" 
and " Beaudesir !" 

The sailors, too much taken aback to speak, 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 299 

gasped at each other in mute astonishment, nor did 
Slap- Jack., who had constituted himself in a manner 
director of the proceedings, recover his presence of 
mind till the conclusion of the ceremony. 

If a corpse could be galvanized and set up in 
priest's robes to bless a loving couple whom Heaven 
has joined together, its benediction could scarcely 
be more passionless and mechanical than was that 
which Florian de St. Croix— the Brother Ambrose 
who had been the bride's confessor, the Beaudesir 
who had been the bridegroom's lieutenant — now 
pronounced over George Hamilton and Cerise de 
Montmirail. Not an eyelash quivered, not a 
muscle trembled, not a tone of emotion could be 
detected in his voice. Still young, still enthusi- 
astic, still, though it was wild and warped and 
wilful, possessing a human heart, he believed 
honestly that he then bade farewell at once and 
for ever to earth and earthly things. 

When they left the chapel, he was gone ; gone 
back, so said some negroes lounging in the neigh- 
bourhood, to the other Jesuits at Maria-Galante. 
They believed him to be a priest of that order, resi- 
dent at their plantation, who had simply come 
across the island, and returned in the regular per- 
formance of his duty. They cheered him when he 



300 CERISE. 

emerged from a side door and departed swiftly 
through their ranks. They cheered the bridal 
party a few minutes later, leaving the chapel to 
re-embark. They even cheered the Marquise, 
when, after bidding them farewell, she separated 
from the others, and sought a house in the town, 
where Celandine had already collected several faith- 
ful slaves who could be trusted to defend her, and 
in the cellars of which refuge the Italian overseer 
was even then concealed. They cheered Slap-jack 
more than any one, turning round to curse them, 
not without blows, for crowding in too close. 
Lighthearted and impressionable, they were de- 
lighted with the glitter, the bustle, the parade of 
the whole business, and thought it little inferior to 
the " bobbery " of the preceding night. 

So Cerise and her husband embarked on board 
the brigantine without delay. In less than an 
hour the anchor was up, and with a follow- 
ing tide and a wind off-shore, ' The Bashful Maid ' 
stood out to sea, carrying at least two happy 
hearts along with her, whatever she may have 
left behind. 

Before sunset, she was hull-down on the hori- 
zon, but long after her white sails vanished their 
last gleam seemed yet to linger on the eyes of two 



HOMEWARD BOUND. 301 

sad, wistful watchers, for whom, henceforth, it was 
to be a gloomier world. 

They knew not each other's faces, they never 
guessed each other's feelings, nor imagined how 
close a link between the two existed in that sunny 
speck, fading to leeward on the deep blue sea. 

None the less longingly did they gaze east- 
ward ; none the less keenly did the Marquise de 
Montmirail and Florian de St. Croix feel that 
their loves, their hopes, their better selves — all that 
brightened the future, that enhanced the past, that 
made life endurable — was gone from them in the 
Homeward Bound. 



END OF VOL. II. 



LONDON : 

TRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, STAMFOKD STREET, 
AND CHARING CROSS. 



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