Part 5 out of 15
and Death's deep jaws snapping and barely missing--ten thousand great
slopes of emerald, aquamarine, amethyst and topaz, liquid, alive, and
dancing jocundly beneath a gorgeous sun: and you will have a faint idea
of what met the eyes and hearts of the rescued looking out of that
battered, jagged ship, upon ocean smiling back to smiling Heaven.
Yet one man felt no buoyancy, nor gush of joy. He leaned against a
fragment of the broken bulwark, confused between the sweetness of life
preserved and the bitterness of treasure lost--his wife's and children's
treasured treasure; benumbed at heart, and almost weary of the existence
he had battled for so stoutly. He looked so moody, and answered so grimly
and unlike himself, that they all held aloof from him; heavy heart among
so many joyful ones, he was in true solitude; the body in a crowd, the
soul alone. And he was sore as well as heavy; for of all the lubberly
acts he had ever known, the way he had lost his dear ones' fortune seemed
to him the worst.
A voice sounded in his ear: "Poor thing! she has s foundered."
It was Fullalove scanning the horizon with his famous glass.
"Foundered? Who?" said Dodd; though he did not care much who sank, who
swam. Then he remembered the vessel, whose flashing guns had shed a human
ray on the unearthly horror of the black hurricane. He looked all round.
Ay, she had perished with all hands. The sea had swallowed her, and
This turned his mind sharply. Suppose the _Agra_ had gone down, the money
would be lost as now, and his life into the bargain--a life dearer to all
at home than millions of gold: he prayed inwardly to Heaven for gratitude
and goodness to feel its mercy. This softened him a little; and his heart
swelled so, he wished he was a woman to cry over his children's loss for
an hour, and then shake all off and go through his duty somehow; for now
he was paralysed, and all seemed ended. Next, nautical superstition
fastened on him. That pocket-book of his was Jonah: it had to go or else
the ship; the moment it did go, the storm had broken as by magic.
Now Superstition is generally stronger than rational Religion, whether
they lie apart or together in one mind; and this superstitious notion did
something toward steeling the poor man. "Come," said he to himself "my
loss has saved all these poor souls on board this ship. So be it!
Heaven's will be done! I must bustle, or else go mad."
He turned to and worked like a horse: and with his own hands helped the
men to rig parallel ropes--a substitute for bulwarks--till the
perspiration ran down him.
Bayliss now reported the well nearly dry, and Dodd was about to bear up
and make sail again, when one of the ship-boys, a little fellow with a
bright eye and a chin like a monkey's, came up to him and said--
"Please, captain!" Then glared with awe at what he had done, and broke
"Well, my little man?" said Dodd gently.
Thus encouraged, the boy gave a great gulp, and burst in in a brogue,
"Och your arnr, sure there's no rudder on her at all barrin the tiller."
"What d'ye mean?"
"Don't murder me, your arnr, and I'll tell ye. It's meself looked over
the starrn just now; and I seen there was no rudder at all at all. Mille
diaoul, sis I; ye old bitch, I'll tell his arur what y'are after,
slipping your rudder like my granny's list shoe, I will."
Dodd ran to the helm and looked down; the brat was right: the blows which
had so endangered the ship, had broken the rudder, and the sea had washed
away more than half of it. The sight and the reflection made him faintish
for a moment. Death passing so very close to a man sickens him
_afterwards,_ unless he has the luck to be brainless.
"What is your name, urchin?"
"Ned Murphy, sir."
"Very well, Murphy, then you are a fine little fellow, and have wiped all
our eyes in the ship: run and send the carpenter aft."
"Ay, ay, sir."
The carpenter came. Like most artisans, he was clever in a groove: take
him out of that, and lo! a mule, a pig, an owl. He was not only unable to
invent, but so stiffly disinclined: a makeshift rudder was clean out of
his way; and, as his whole struggle was to get away from every suggestion
Dodd made back to groove aforesaid, the thing looked hopeless. Then
Fullalove, who had stood by grinning, offered to make a bunkum rudder,
provided the carpenter and mates were put under his orders. "But" said
he, "I must bargain they shall be disrated if they attempt to reason."
"That is no more than fair," said Dodd. The Yankee inventor demanded a
spare maincap, and cut away one end of the square piece, so as to make it
fit the stem-post: through the circle of the cap he introduced a spare
mizen topmast: to this he seized a length of junk, another to that,
another to that, and so on: to the outside junk he seized a spare
maintop-gallant mast, and this conglomerate being now nearly as broad as
a rudder, he planked over all. The sea by this time was calm; he got the
machine over the stern, and had the square end of the cap bolted to the
stern-post. He had already fixed four spans of nine-inch hawser to the
sides of the makeshift, two fastened to tackles, which led into the
gunroom ports, and were housed taut--these kept the lower part of the
makeshift close to the stern post--and two, to which guys were now fixed
and led through the aftermost ports on to the quarter-deck, where
luff-tackles were attached to them, by means of which the makeshift was
to be worked as a rudder.
Some sail was now got on the ship, and she was found to steer very well.
Dodd tried her on every tack, and at last ordered Sharpe to make all sail
and head for the Cape.
This electrified the first mate. The breeze was very faint but southerly,
and the Mauritius under their lee. They could make it in a night and
there refit, and ship a new rudder. He suggested the danger of sailing
sixteen hundred miles steered by a gimcrack; and implored Dodd to put
Dodd answered with a roughness and a certain wildness never seen in him
before: "Danger, sir! There will be no more foul weather this voyage;
Jonah is overboard." Sharpe stared an inquiry. "I tell you we shan't
lower our topgallants once from this to the Cape: Jonah is overboard:"
and he slapped his forehead in despair; then, stamping impatiently with
his foot, told Sharpe his duty was to obey orders, not discuss them.
"Certainly, sir," said Sharpe sullenly, and went out of the cabin with
serious thoughts of communicating to the other mates an alarming
suspicion about Dodd, that now, for the first time, crossed his mind. But
long habit of discipline prevailed, and he made all sail on the ship, and
bore away for the Cape with a heavy heart. The sea was like a mill-pond,
but in that he saw only its well-known treachery, to lead them on to this
unparalleled act of madness: each sail he hoisted seemed one more agent
of Destruction rising at his own suicidal command.
Towards evening it became nearly dead calm. The sea heaved a little, but
was waveless, glassy, and the colour of a rose, incredibly brave and
The look-out reported pieces of wreck to windward. As the ship was making
so little way, Dodd beat up towards them: he feared it was a British ship
that had foundered in the storm, and thought it his duty to ascertain and
carry the sad news home. In two tacks they got near enough to see with
their glasses that the fragments belonged, not to a stranger, but to the
_Agra_ herself. There was one of her waterbutts, and a broken mast with
some rigging: and as more wreck was descried coming in at a little
distance, Dodd kept the ship close to the wind to inspect it: on drifting
near, it proved to be several pieces of the bulwark, and a mahogany table
out of the cuddy This sort of flotsam was not worth delaying the ship to
pick it up; so Dodd made sail again, steering now south-east.
He had sailed about half a mile when the look-out hailed the deck again.
"A man in the water!"
"A short league on the weather quarter."
"Oh, we can't beat to windward for _him,_" said Sharpe; "he is dead long
"Holds his head very high for a corpse," said the look-out.
"I'll soon know," cried Dodd. "Lower the gig; I'll go myself."
The gig was lowered, and six swift rowers pulled him to windward, while
the ship kept on her course.
It is most unusual for a captain to leave the ship at sea on such petty
errands: but Dodd half hoped the man might be alive; and he was so
unhappy; and, like his daughter, who probably derived the trait from him,
grasped instinctively at a chance of doing kindness to some poor fellow
alive or dead. That would soothe his own sore, good heart.
When they had pulled about two miles, the sun was sinking into the
horizon. "Give way, men," said Dodd, "or we shall not be able to see
him." The men bent to their oars and made the boat fly
Presently the coxswain caught sight of an object bobbing on the water
"Why, that must be it," said he: "the lubber! to take it for a man's
head. Why, it is nothing but a thundering old bladder, speckled white."
"What?" cried Dodd, and fell a-trembling. "Steer for it! Give way!"
"Ay, ay, sir!"
They soon came alongside the bladder, and the coxswain grabbed it.
"Hallo! here's something lashed to it: a bottle!"
"Give it me!" gasped Dodd in a voice choked with agitation. "Give it me!
Back to the ship! Fly! fly! Cut her off, or she'll give us the slip
He never spoke a word more, but sat in a stupor of joyful wonder.
They soon caught the ship; he got into his cabin, he scarce knew how:
broke the bottle to atoms, and found the indomitable Cash uninjured. With
trembling hands he restored it to its old place in his bosom, and sewed
it tighter than ever.
Until he felt it there once more, he could hardly realise a stroke of
good fortune that seemed miraculous--though, in reality, it was less
strange than the way he had lost it;* but now, laid bodily on his heart,
it set his bosom on fire. Oh, the bright eye, the bounding pulse, the
buoyant foot, the reckless joy! He slapped Sharpe on the back a little
vulgarly for him:--
"Jonah is on board again, old fellow: look out for squalls."
*The _Agra_, being much larger than the bottle, had drifted faster to
leeward in the storm.
He uttered this foreboding in a tone of triumph, and with a gay elastic
recklessness, which harmonised so well with his makeshift rudder, that
Sharpe groaned aloud, and wished himself under any captain in the world
but this, and in any other ship. He looked round to make sure he was not
watched, and then tapped his forehead significantly. This somewhat
relieved him, and he did his duty smartly for a man going to the bottom
with his eyes open.
But ill luck is not to be bespoken any more than good: the _Agra's_
seemed to have blown itself out; the wind veered to the south-west, and
breathed steadily in that quarter for ten days. The topgallant sails were
never lowered nor shifted day nor night all that time, and not a single
danger occurred between this and the Cape, except to a monkey, which I
fear I must relate, on account of its remoter consequences. One fine
afternoon, everybody was on deck amusing themselves as they could: Mrs.
Beresford, to wit, was being flattered under the Poop awning by Kenealy.
The feud between her and Dodd continued, but under a false impression.
The lady had one advantage over the gentler specimens of her sex; she was
never deterred from a kind action by want of pluck, as they are. Pluck?
Aquilina was brimful of it. When she found Dodd was wounded, she cast her
wrongs to the wind, and offered to go and nurse him. Her message came at
an unlucky moment, and by an unlucky messenger: the surgeon said hastily,
"I can't have him bothered." The stupid servant reported, "He can't be
worried;" and Mrs. Beresford, thinking Dodd had a hand in this answer,
was bitterly mortified; and with some reason. She would have forgiven
him, though, if he had died; but, as he lived, she thought she had a
right to detest him, and did; and showed her sentiments like a lady, by
never speaking to him, nor looking at him, but ignoring him with frigid
magnificence on his own quarter-deck.
Now, among the crew of this ship was a favourite goat, good-tempered,
affectionate, and playful; but a single vice counterbalanced all his
virtues: he took a drop. A year or two ago some light-hearted tempter
taught him to sip grog; he took to it kindly, and was now arrived at such
a pitch that at grog-time he used to butt his way in among the sailors,
and get close to the canteen; and, -by arrangement, an allowance was
always served out to him. On imbibing it, he passed with quadrupedal
rapidity through three stages, the absurd, the choleric, the sleepy; and
was never his own goat again until he awoke from the latter. Now Master
Fred Beresford encountered him in the second stage of inebriety, and,
being a rough playfellow, tapped his nose with a battledore. Instantly
Billy butted at him; mischievous Fred screamed and jumped on the
bulwarks. Pot-angry Billy went at him there; whereupon the young
gentleman, with all eldrich screech, and a comparative estimate of perils
that smacked of inexperience, fled into the sea, at the very moment when
his anxious mother was rushing to save him. She uttered a scream of
agony, and would actually have followed him, but was held back, uttering
shriek after shriek, that pierced every heart within hearing.
But Dodd saw the boy go overboard, and vaulted over the bulwark near the
helm, roared in the very air, "Heave the ship to!" and went splash into
the water about ten yards from the place. He was soon followed by
Vespasian, and a boat was lowered as quickly as possible. Dodd caught
sight of a broad straw hat on the top of a wave, swam lustily to it, and
found Freddy inside: it was tied under his chin, and would have floated
Goliath. Dodd turned to the ship, saw the poor mother with white face and
arms outstretched as if she would fly at them, and held the urchin up
high to her with a joyful "hurrah." The ship seemed alive and to hurrah
in return with giant voice: the boat soon picked them up, and Dodd came
up the side with Freddy in his arms, and placed him in his mother's with
honest pride and deep parental sympathy.
Guess how she scolded and caressed her child all in a breath, and sobbed
over him! For this no human pen has ever told, nor ever will. All I can
just manage to convey is that, after she had all but eaten the little
torment, she suddenly dropped him, and made a great maternal rush at
Dodd. She flung her arms round him, and kissed him eagerly, almost
fiercely: then, carried away wild by mighty Nature, she patted him all
over in the strangest way, and kissed his waistcoat, his arms, his hands,
and rained tears of joy and gratitude on them.
Dodd was quite overpowered. "No! no!" said he. "Don't now, pray, don't!
There! there! I know, my dear, I know; I'm a father." And he was very
near whimpering himself; but recovered the man and the commander, and
said, soothingly, "There! there!" and he handed her tenderly down to her
All this time he had actually forgotten the packet. But now a horrible
fear came on him. He hurried to his own cabin and examined it. A little
salt water had oozed through the bullet-hole and discoloured the leather;
but that was all.
He breathed again.
"Thank Heaven I forgot all about it!" said he: "it would have made a cur
Lady Beresford's petty irritation against Dodd melted at once-- before so
great a thing: she longed to make friends with him; but for once felt
timid. It struck her now all of a sudden that she had been misbehaving.
However, she caught Dodd alone on the deck, and said to him softly, "I
want so to end our quarrel."
"Our quarrel, madam!" said he; "why, I know of none: oh, about the light
eh? Well, you see the master of a ship is obliged to be a tyrant in some
"I make no complaint," said the lady hastily, and hung her head. "All I
ask you is to forgive one who has behaved like a fool, without even the
excuse of being one; and--will you give me your hand, sir?"
"Ay, and with all my heart," said Dodd warmly, enclosing the soft little
hand in his honest grasp.
And with no more ado these two highflyers ended one of those little
misunderstandings petty spirits nurse into a feud.
The ship being in port at the Cape, and two hundred hammers tapping at
her, Dodd went ashore in search of Captain Robarts, and made the _Agra_
over to him in the friendliest way, adding warmly that he had found every
reason to be satisfied with the officers and the crew. To his surprise,
Captain Robarts received all this ungraciously. "You ought to have
remained on board, sir, and made me over the command on the
quarter-deck." Dodd replied politely that it would have been more formal.
"Suppose I return immediately, and man the side for you: and then you
board her, say, in half-an-hour?"
"I shall come when I like," replied Robarts crustily.
"And when will you like to come?" inquired Dodd, with imperturbable
"Now, this moment: and I'll trouble you to come along with me."
They got a boat and went out to the ship: on coming alongside, Dodd
thought to meet his wishes by going first and receiving him. But the
jealous, cross-grained fellow, shoved roughly before him and led the way
up the ship's side. Sharpe and the rest saluted him: he did not return
the salute, but said hoarsely, "Turn the hands up to muster."
When they were all aft, he noticed one or two with their caps on. "Hats
off and be ---- to you!" cried he. "Do you know where you are? Do you
know who you are looking at? If not, I'll show you. I'm here to restore
discipline to this ship: so mind how you run athwart my hawse: don't you
play with the bull, my men; or you'll find his horns ---- sharp. Pipe
down! Now, you, sir, bring me the log-book."
He ran his eye over it, and closed it contemptuously: "Pirates, and
hurricanes! _I_ never fell in with pirates nor hurricanes: I have heard
of a breeze, and a gale, but I never knew a seaman worth his salt say
'hurricane.' Get another log-book, Mr. Sharpe; put down that it begins
this day at noon; and enter that Captain Robarts came on deck, found the
ship in a miserable condition, took the command, mustered the officers
and men, and stopped the ship's company's grog for a week for receiving
him with hats on."
Even Sharpe, that walking Obedience, was taken aback. "Stop--the ship's
company's--grog--for a week, sir?"
"Yes, sir, for a week; and if you fling my orders back in my face instead
of clapping on sail to execute them, I'll have you towed ashore on a
grating. Your name is Sharpe; well my name is Dammedsharpe, and so you'll
In short, the new captain came down on the ship like a blight.
He was especially hard on Dodd: nothing that commander had done was
right, nor, had he done the contrary, would that have been right: he was
disgracefully behind time; and he ought to have put in to the Isle of
France, which would have retarded him: his rope bulwarks were lubberly:
his rudder a disgrace to navigation: he, Robarts, was not so green as to
believe that any master had really sailed sixteen hundred miles with it,
and if he had, more shame for him. Briefly, a marine criticaster.
All this was spoken _at_ Dodd--a thing no male does unless he is an awful
snob--and grieved him, it was so unjust. He withdrew wounded to the
little cabin he was entitled to as a passenger, and hugged his treasure
for comfort. He patted the pocket-book, and said to it, "Never _you_
mind! The greater Tartar he is, the less likely to sink you or run you on
a lee shore."
With all his love of discipline, Robarts was not so fond of the ship as
While his repairs were going on he was generally ashore, and by this
means missed a visit. Commodore Collier, one of the smartest sailors
afloat, espied the Yankee makeshift from the quarter-deck of his vessel,
the _Salamanca,_ fifty guns. In ten minutes he was under the _Agra's_
stern inspecting it; then came on board, and was received in form by
Sharpe and the other officers. "Are you the master of this ship, sir?" he
"No, commodore. I am the first mate: the captain is ashore."
"I am sorry for it. I want to talk about his rudder."
"Oh, _he_ had nothing to do with that," replied Sharpe, eagerly: "that
was our dear old captain: he is on board. Young gentleman! ask Captain
Dodd to oblige me by coming on deck! Hy! and Mr. Fullalove too."
"Young gentleman?" inquired Collier. "What the devil officer is that?"
"That is a name we give the middies; I don't know why."
"Nor I neither; ha! ha!"
Dodd and Fullalove came on deck, and Commodore Collier bestowed the
highest compliments on the "makeshift." Dodd begged him to transfer them
to the real inventor, and introduced Fullalove.
"Ay," said Collier, "I know you Yankees are very handy. I lost my rudder
at sea once, and had to ship a makeshift; but it was a cursed complicated
thing, not a patch upon yours, Mr. Fullalove. Yours is ingenious and
_simple._ Ship has been in action, I see: pray how was that, if I may be
"Pirates, commodore," said Sharpe. "We fell in with a brace of Portuguese
devils, lateen-rigged, and carrying ten guns apiece, in the Straits of
Gaspar: fought 'em from noon till sundown, riddled one, and ran down the
other, and sunk her in a moment. That was all your doing, Captain: so
don't try to shift it on other people; for we won't stand it."
"If he denies it, I won't believe him," said Collier, "for he has got it
in his eye. Gentlemen, will you do me the honour to dine with me to-day
on board the flag-ship?"
Dodd and Fullalove accepted. Sharpe declined, with regret, on the score
of duty. And as the cocked hat went down the side, after saluting him
politely, he could not help thinking to himself what a difference between
a real captain, who had something to be proud of, and his own unlicked
cub of a skipper with the manners of a pilot-boat. He told Robarts the
next day: Robarts said nothing, but his face seemed to turn greenish, and
it embittered his hatred of Dodd the inoffensive.
It is droll, and sad, but true, that Christendom is full of men in a
hurry to hate. And a fruitful cause is jealousy. The schoolmen, or rather
certain of the schoolmen--for nothing is much shallower than to speak of
all those disputants as one school--defined woman, "a featherless biped
vehemently addicted to jealousy." Whether she is more featherless than
the male can be decided at a trifling expense of time, money, and reason:
you have but to go to court. But as for envy and jealousy, I think it is
pure, unobservant, antique Cant which has fixed them on the female
character distinctively. As a molehill to a mountain is women's jealousy
to men's. Agatha may have a host of virtues and graces, and yet her
female acquaintance will not hate her, provided she has the moderation to
abstain from being downright pretty. She may sing like an angel, paint
like an angel, talk, write, nurse the sick, all like an angel, and not
rouse the devil in her fair sisters, so long as she does not dress like
an angel. But the minds of men being much larger than women's, yet very
little greater, they hang jealousy on a thousand pegs. Where there was no
peg, I have seen them do with a pin.
Captain Robarts took a pin, ran it into his own heart, and hung that
sordid passion on it.
He would get rid of all the Doddites before he sailed. He insulted Mr.
Tickell, so that he left the service and entered a mercantile house
ashore: he made several of the best men desert, and the ship went to sea
short of hands. This threw heavier work on the crew, and led to many
punishments and a steady current of abuse. Sharpe became a mere machine,
always obeying, never speaking: Grey was put under arrest for
remonstrating against ungentlemanly language; and Bayliss, being at
bottom of the same breed as Robarts, fell into his humour, and helped
hector the petty officers and men. The crew, depressed and irritated,
went through their duties pully-hauly-wise. There was no song under the
forecastle in the first watch, and often no grog on the mess table at one
bell. Dodd never came on the quarter-deck without being reminded he was
only a passenger, and the ship was now under naval discipline. _"I_ was
reared in the royal navy, sir," would Robarts say, "second lieutenant
aboard the _Atalanta:_ that is the school, sir, that is the only school
that breeds seamen." Dodd bore scores of similar taunts as a Newfoundland
puts up with a terrier in office: he seldom replied, and, when he did, in
a few quiet dignified words that gave no handle.
Robarts, who bore the name of a lucky captain, had fair weather all the
way to St. Helena.
The guard-ship at this island was the _Salamanca._ She had left the Cape
a week before the _Agra._ Captain Robarts, with his characteristic
good-breeding, went to anchor in-shore of Her Majesty's ship: the wind
failed at a critical moment, and a foul became inevitable. Collier was on
his quarter-deck, and saw what would happen long before Robarts did; he
gave the needful orders, and it was beautiful to see how in half a minute
the frigate's guns were run in, her ports lowered, her yards toppled on
end, and a spring carried out and hauled on.
The _Agra_ struck abreast her own forechains on the _Salamanca's_
(Pipe.) "Boarders away. Tomahawks! cut everything that holds!" was heard
from the frigate's quarter-deck. Rush came a boarding party on to the
merchant ship and hacked away without mercy all her lower rigging that
held on to the frigate, signal halyards and all; others boomed her off
with capstan bars, &c., and in two minutes the ships were clear. A
lieutenant and boat's crew came for Robarts, and ordered him on board the
_Salamanca,_ and, to make sure of his coming, took him back with them. He
found Commodore Collier standing stiff as a ramrod on his quarter-deck.
"Are you the master of the _Agra?_" (His quick eye had recognised her in
"I am, sir."
"Then she was commanded by a seaman, and is now commanded by a lubber.
Don't apply for your papers this week; for you won't get them. Good
morning. Take him away."
They returned Robarts to his ship, and a suppressed grin on a score of
faces showed him the clear commanding tones of the commodore had reached
his own deck. He soothed himself by stopping the men's grog and
mast-heading three midshipmen that same afternoon.
The night before he weighed anchor this disciplinarian was drinking very
late in a low public-house. There was not much moon, and the officer in
charge of the ship did not see the gig coming till it was nearly
alongside: then all was done in a flurry.
"Hy! man the side! Lanterns there! Jump, you boys, or you'll catch
The boys did jump, and little Murphy, not knowing the surgeon had ordered
the ports to be drooped, bounded over the bulwarks like an antelope,
lighted on the midship port, which stood at this angle /, and glanced off
into the ocean, lantern foremost: he made his little hole in the water
within a yard of' Captain Robarts. That Dignity, though splashed, took no
notice of so small an incident as a gone ship-boy: and if Murphy had been
wise and stayed with Nep. all had been well. But the poor urchin
inadvertently came up again, and without the lantern. One of the gig's
crew grabbed him by the hair, and prolonged his existence by an
"Where is the other lantern?" was Robarts' first word on reaching the
deck: as if he didn't know.
"Gone overboard, sir, with the boy Murphy."
"Stand forward, you, sir," growled Robarts.
Murphy stood forward, dripping and shivering with cold and fear.
"What d'ye mean by going overboard with the ship's lantern?"
"Och, your arnr, sure some unasy divil drooped the port; and the lantern
and me we had no foothold at all at all, and the lantern went into the
say, bad luck to ut; and I went afther to try and save ut--for your
"Belay all that!" said Robarts; "do you think you can blarney me, you
young monkey? Here, Bosen's mate, take a rope's-end and start
him!--Again!--Warm him well!--That's right."
As soon as the poor child's shrieks subsided into sobs, the
disciplinarian gave him Explanation for Ointment: "I can't have the
Company's stores expended this way."
The force of discipline could no farther go than to flog zeal for falling
overboard: so, to avoid anticlimax in that port, Robarts weighed anchor
at daybreak; and there was a southwesterly breeze waiting for this
favourite of fortune, and carried him past the Azores. Off Ushant it was
westerly, and veered to the nor'-west just before they sighted the Land's
End: never was such a charming passage from the Cape. The sailor who had
the luck to sight Old England first nailed his starboard shoe to the
mainmast for contributions; and all hearts beat joyfully--none more than
David Dodd's. His eye devoured the beloved shore: he hugged the treasure
his own ill luck had jeopardised--but Robarts had sailed it safe into
British waters--and forgave the man his ill manners for his good luck.
Robarts steered in for the Lizard; but, when abreast the Point, kept well
out again, and opened the Channel and looked out for a pilot
One was soon seen working out towards him, and the _Agra_ brought to. The
pilot descended from his lugger into his little boat, rowed alongside,
and came on deck; a rough, tanned sailor, clad in flushing, and in build
and manner might have passed for Robarts' twin brother.
"Now then, you, sir, what will you take this ship up to the Downs for?"
Roberts told him roughly he would not get thirty pounds out of' _him._
"Thyse and no higher, my Bo," answered the pilot sturdily: he had been
splicing the main brace, and would have answered an admiral.
Robarts swore at him lustily: Pilot discharged a volley in return with
admirable promptitude. Robarts retorted, the other rough customer
rejoined, and soon all Billingsgate thundered on the _Agra's_
quarter-deck. Finding, to his infinite disgust, his visitor as great a
blackguard as himself, and not to be outsworn, Robarts ordered him to
quit the ship on pain of being man-handled over the side.
"Oh, that's it, is it?" growled the other: "here's fill and be off then."
He prudently bottled the rest of his rage till he got safe into his boat,
then shook his fist at the _Agra_, and cursed her captain sky-high. "You
see the fair wind, but you don't see the Channel fret a-coming, ye greedy
gander. Downs! You'll never see them: you have saved your ---- money, and
lost your ---- ship, ye ---- lubber."
Robarts hurled back a sugar-plum or two of the same and then ordered
Bayliss to clap on all sail, and keep a mid-channel course through the
At four bells in the middle watch, Sharpe, in charge of the ship, tapped
at Robarts' door. "Blowing hard, sir, and the weather getting thickish."
"Wind fair still?"
"Then call me if it blows any harder," grunted Robarts.
In two hours more, tap, tap, came Bayliss, in charge. "If we don't take
sail in, they'll take themselves out."
"Furl to-gallen'sels, and call me if it gets any worse."
In another hour Bayliss was at him again. "Blowing a gale, sir, and a
Channel fog on."
"Reef taupsles, and call me if it gets any worse."
At daybreak Dodd was on deck, and found the ship flying through a fog so
thick that her forecastle was quite invisible from the poop, and even her
foremast loomed indistinct and looked distant. "You'll be foul of
something or other, Sharpe," said he.
"What is that to you?" inquired a loud rough voice behind him. "I don't
allow passengers to handle my ship."
"Then do pray handle her yourself; captain! Is this weather to go tearing
happy-go-lucky up the Channel?"
"I mean to sail her without your advice, sir; and, being a seaman, I
shall get all I can out of a fair wind."
"That is right Captain Robarts, if you had but the British Channel all to
"Perhaps you will leave me my deck all to myself."
"I should be delighted: but my anxiety will not let me." With this Dodd
retired a few steps, and kept a keen look-out.
At noon a lusty voice cried "Land on the weather beam!"
All eyes were turned that way and saw nothing.
Land in sight was reported to Captain Robarts.
Now that worthy was in reality getting secretly anxious: so he ran on
deck crying, "Who saw it?"
"Captain Dodd, sir."
"Ugh! Nobody else?"
Dodd came forward, and, with a respectful air, told him that, being on
the look-out, he had seen the coast of the Isle of Wight in a momentary
lift of the haze.
"Isle of Fiddlestick!" was the polite reply; "Isle of Wight is eighty
miles astern by now."
Dodd answered firmly that he was well acquainted with every outline in
the Channel, and that the land he had seen was St. Katherine's Point
Robarts deigned no reply, but had the log heaved: it showed the vessel to
be running twelve knots an hour. He then went to his cabin and consulted
his chart; and, having worked his problem, came hastily on deck, and went
from rashness to wonderful caution. "Turn the hands out, and heave the
The manoeuvre was executed gradually and ably, and scarce a bucketful of
water shipped. "Furl taupsles and set the main trysail! There, Mr. Dodd,
so much for you and your Isle of Wight. The land you saw was Dungeness,
and _you_ would have run on into the North Sea, I'll be bound."
When a man, habitually calm, turns anxious, he becomes more irritable;
and the mixture of timidity and rashness he saw in Robarts made Dodd very
He replied angrily, "At all events, I should not make a foul wind out of
a fair one by heaving to; and if I did, I would heave to on the right
At this sudden facer--one, too, from a patient man--Robarts staggered a
moment. He recovered, and with an oath ordered Dodd to go below, or he
would have him chucked into the hold.
"Come, don't be an ass, Robarts," said Dodd contemptuously.
Then, lowering his voice to a whisper, "Don't you know the men only want
such an order as that to chuck you into the sea?"
Robarts trembled. "Oh, if you mean to head a mutiny----"
"Heaven forbid, sir! But I won't leave the deck in dirty weather like
this till the captain knows where he is."
Towards sunset it got clearer, and they drifted past a revenue cutter,
who was lying to with her head to the northward. She hoisted no end of
signals, but they understood none of them, and her captain gesticulated
wildly on her deck.
"What is that Fantoccio dancing at?" inquired Captain Robarts brutally.
"To see a first-class ship drift to leeward in a narrow sea with a fair
wind," said Dodd bitterly.
At night it blew hard, and the sea ran high and irregular. The ship began
to be uneasy, and Robarts very properly ordered the top-gallant and royal
yards to be sent down on deck. Dodd would have had them down twelve hours
ago. The mate gave the order: no one moved. The mate went forward angry.
He came back pale. The men refused to go aloft: they would not risk their
lives for Captain Robarts.
The officers all assembled and went forward: they promised and
threatened; but all in vain. The crew stood sullen together, as if to
back one another, and put forward a spokesman to say that "there was not
one of them the captain hadn't started, and stopped his grog a dozen
times: he had made the ship hell to them; and now her masts and yards and
hull might go there along with her skipper, for them."
Robarts received this tidings in sullen silence. "Don't tell that Dodd,
whatever you do," said he. "They will come round now they have had their
growl: they are too near home to shy away their pay."
Robarts had not sufficient insight into character to know that Dodd would
instantly have sided with him against a mutiny.
But at this juncture the ex-captain of the _Agra_ was down in the cabin
with his fellow-passengers, preparing a general remonstrance: he had a
chart before him, and a pair of compasses in his hand.
"St. Katherine's Point lay about eight miles to windward at noon; and we
have been drifting south and east this twelve hours, through lying to on
the starboard tack; and besides, the ship has been conned as slovenly as
she is sailed. I've seen her allowed to break off a dozen times, and
gather more leeway. Ah! here is Captain Robarts. Captain, you saw the
rate we passed the revenue cutter. That vessel was nearly stationary; so
what we passed her at was our own rate of drifting, and our least rate.
Putting all this together, we can't be many miles from the French coast,
and, unless we look sharp and beat to windward, I pronounce the ship in
A horselaugh greeted this conclusion.
"We are nearer Yarmouth sands than France, I promise you, and nothing
under our lee nearer than Rotterdam."
A loud cry from the deck above, "A LIGHT ON THE LEE BOW!"
"There!" cried Robarts with an oath: "foul of _her_ next! through me
listening to your nonsense. He ran upon deck, and shouted through his
trumpet, "All hands wear ship!"
The crew, who had heard the previous cry, obeyed orders in the presence
of an immediate danger; and perhaps their growl had really relieved their
ill-humour. Robarts with delight saw them come tumbling up, and gave his
orders lustily: "Brail up the trysel! up with the helm! in with the
weather main brace! square the after yards!"
The ship's bow turned from the wind, and, as soon as she got way on her,
Robarts ran below again, and entered the cabin triumphant
"That is all right: and now, Captain Dodd, a word with you. You will
either retire at once to your cabin, or will cease to breed disaffection
in my crew, and groundless alarm in my passengers, by instilling your own
childish, ignorant fears. The ship has been underlogged a hundred miles,
sir; and but for my caution in lying to for clear weather we should be
groping among the Fern Isl----"
An unheard-of shock threw the speaker and all the rest in a mass on the
floor, smashed every lamp, put out every light; and, with a fierce
grating noise, the ship was hard and fast on the French coast, with her
stern to the sea.
One awful moment of silence; then, amidst shrieks of agony, the sea
struck her like a rolling rock, solid to crush, liquid to drown, and the
comb of a wave smashed the cabin windows and rushed in among them as they
floundered on the floor, and wetted and chilled them to the marrow. A
voice in the dark cried, "O God! we are dead men."
"ON deck for your lives!" cried Dodd, forgetting in that awful moment he
was not the captain; and drove them all up, Robarts included, and caught
hold of Mrs. Beresford and Freddy at their cabin door and half carried
them with him. Just as they got on deck the third wave, a high one,
struck the ship and lifted her bodily up, canted her round, and dashed
her down again some yards to leeward, throwing them down on the hard and
At this tremendous shock the ship seemed a live thing, shrieking and
wailing, as well as quivering with the blow.
But one voice dissented loudly from the general dismay. "All right men,"
cried Dodd, firm and trumpet-like. "She is broadside on now. Captain
Robarts, look alive, sir; speak to the men! don't go to sleep!"
Robarts was in a lethargy of fear. At this appeal he started into a fury
of ephemeral courage. "Stick to the ship," he yelled; "there is no danger
if you stick to the ship," and with this snatched a life-buoy, and hurled
himself into the sea.
Dodd caught up the trumpet that fell from his hand and roared, "I command
this ship. Officers come round me! Men to your quarters! Come, bear a
hand here and fire a gun. That will show us where we are, and let the
The carronade was fired, and its momentary flash revealed that the ship
was ashore in a little bay; the land abeam was low and some eighty yards
off; but there was something black and rugged nearer the ship's stern.
Their situation was awful. To windward huge black waves rose like
tremendous ruins, and came rolling, fringed with devouring fire; and each
wave as it charged them, curled up to an incredible height and dashed
down on the doomed ship--solid to crush, liquid to drown --with a
ponderous stroke that made the poor souls stagger, and sent a sheet of
water so clean over her that part fell to leeward, and only part came
down on deck, foretaste of a watery death; and each of these fearful
blows drove the groaning, trembling vessel farther on the sand, bumping
her along as if she had been but a skiff.
Now it was men showed their inner selves.
Seeing Death so near on one hand, and a chance of escape on the other,
seven men proved unable to resist the two great passions of Fear and Hope
on a scale so gigantic and side by side. Bayliss, a midshipman, and five
sailors stole the only available boat and lowered her.
She was swamped in a moment
Many of the crew got to the rum, and stupefied themselves to their
Others rallied round their old captain, and recovered their native
courage at the brave and hopeful bearing he wore over a heart full of
anguish. He worked like a horse, encouraging, commanding, doing; he
loaded a carronade with a pound of powder and a coil of rope, with an
iron bar attached to a cable, and shot the rope and bar ashore.
A gun was now fired from the guard-house, whose light Robarts had taken
for a ship. But no light being shown any nearer on the coast, and the
ship expected every minute to go to pieces, Dodd asked if any one would
try to swim ashore with a line made fast to a hawser on board.
A sailor offered to go if any other man would risk his life along with
him. Instantly Fullalove stripped, and Vespasian next
"Two is enough on such a desperate errand," said Dodd with a groan.
But now emulation was up, and neither Briton, Yankee, nor negro would
give way. A line was made fast to the sailor's waist, and he was lowered
to leeward; his venturesome rivals followed. The sea swallowed those
three heroes like crumbs, and small was the hope of life for them.
The three heroes being first-rate swimmers and divers, and going with the
tide, soon neared the shore on the ship's lee quarter; but a sight of it
was enough: to attempt to land on that rock with such a sea on was to get
their skulls smashed like eggshells in a moment. They had to coast it,
looking out for a soft place.
They found one, and tried to land; but so irresistible was the suction of
the retiring wave, that, whenever they got foot on the sand, and tried to
run, they were wrenched out to sea again, and pounded black and blue and
breathless by the curling breaker they met coming in.
After a score of vain efforts, the negro, throwing himself on his back,
went in with a high wave, and, on touching the sand, turned, dug all his
ten claws into it clenched his teeth, and scrambled like a cat at a wall.
Having more power in his toes than the Europeans, and luckily getting one
hand on a firm stone, his prodigious strength just enabled him to stick
first while the wave went back; and then, seizing the moment, he tore
himself ashore, but bleeding and bruised all over, and with a tooth
actually broken by clenching in the convulsive struggle.
He found some natives dancing about in violent agitation with a rope, but
afraid to go in and help him; and no wonder, not being seagulls. By the
light of their lanterns, he saw Fullalove washing in and out like a log.
He seized one end of the rope, and dashed in and grabbed his friend, and
they were hauled ashore together, both breathless, and Fullalove
The negro looked round for the sailor, but could not see him. Soon,
however, there was a cry from some more natives about fifty yards off and
laterns held up; away he dashed with the rope just in time to see Jack
make a last gallant attempt to land. It ended in his being flung up like
a straw into the air on the very crest of a wave fifteen feet high, and
out to sea with his arms whirling, and a death shriek which was echoed by
every woman within hearing.
In dashed Vespasian with the rope, and gripped the drowning man's long
hair with his teeth: then jerked the rope, and they were both pulled
ashore with infinite difficulty. The good-natured Frenchmen gave them all
three lots of _vivats_ and brandy and pats on the back, and carried the
line for them to a flagstaff on the rocks nearer the stern of the ship.
The ship began to show the first signs of breaking up: hammered to death
by the sea, she discharged the oakum from her opening seams, and her
decks began to gape and grin fore and aft. Corpses of drunken sailors
drowned between decks now floated up amidships, and washed and rolled
about among the survivors' feet These, seeing no hope, went about making
up all quarrels, and shaking hands in token of a Christian end. One or
two came to Dodd with their hands out.
"Avast ye lubbers!" said he angrily; "do you think I have time for
nonsense? Foksel ahoy! axes, and cut the weather shrouds!"
It was done; the foremast went by the board directly, and fell to
leeward: a few blows of the axe from Dodd's own hand sent the mainmast
The _Agra_ rose a streak; and the next wave carried her a little farther
And now the man in charge of the hawser reported with joy that there was
a strain on it.
This gave those on board a hope of life. Dodd bustled and had the hawser
carefully payed out by two men, while he himself secured the other end in
the mizen top: he had left that mast standing on purpose.
There was no fog here; but great heavy black clouds flying about with
amazing swiftness extinguished the moon at intervals: at others she
glimmered through a dull mist in which she was veiled, and gave the poor
souls on the _Agra_ a dim peep of the frail and narrow bridge they must
pass to live. A thing like a black snake went down from the mizen-top,
bellying towards the yawning sea, and soon lost to sight: it was seen
rising again among some lanterns on the rock ashore: but what became of
it in the middle? The darkness seemed to cut it in two; the sea to
swallow it. Yet, to get from a ship going to pieces under them, the
sailors precipitated themselves eagerly on that black thread bellying to
the sea and flickering in the wind. They went down it, one after another,
and anxious eyes straining after them saw them no more: but this was
seen, that scarce one in three emerged into the lights ashore.
Then Dodd got an axe, and stood in the top, and threatened to brain the
first man who attempted to go on the rope.
"We must make it taut first," said he; "bear a hand here with a tackle."
Even while this was being done, the other rope, whose end he had fired
ashore, was seen moving to windward. The natives, it seems, had found it,
half buried in sand.
Dodd unlashed the end from the bulwarks and carried it into the top, and
made it fast: and soon there were two black snakes dipping shrorewards
and waving in the air side by side.
The sailors scrambled for a place, and some of them were lost by their
own rashness. Kenealy waited coolly, and went by himself.
Finally, Dodd was left in the ship with Mr. Sharpe and the women, and
little Murphy, and Ramgolam, whom Robarts had liberated to show his
contempt of Dodd.
He now advised Mrs. Beresford to be lashed to Sharpe and himself, and
venture the passage; but she screamed and clung to him, and said, "I dare
not! oh I dare not!"
"Then I must lash you to a spar," said he, "for she can't last much
longer." He ordered Sharpe ashore. Sharpe shook hands with him, and went
on the rope with tears in his eyes.
Dodd went hard to work, lashed Mrs. Beresford to a piece of broken
water-butt: filled Fred's pockets with corks and sewed them up (you never
caught Dodd without a needle; only, unlike the women's, it was always
kept threaded). Mrs. Beresford threw her arms round his neck and kissed
him wildly: a way women have in mortal peril: it is but their homage to
courage. "All right!" said Dodd, interpreting it as appeal to his
protection, and affecting cheerfulness: "we'll get ashore together on the
poop awning, or somehow; never you fear. I'd give a thousand pounds to
know where high water is."
At this moment, with a report like a cannon, the lower decks burst fore
and aft: another still louder, and the _Agra's_ back broke. She parted
amidships with a fearful yawn, and the waves went toppling and curling
clean through her.
At this appalling sound and sight, the few creatures left on the poop
cowered screaming and clinging at Dodd's knees, and fought for a bit of
Yes, as a flood brings incongruous animals together on some little isle
in brotherhood of fear--creatures who never met before without one eating
the other; and there they cuddle--so the thief Ramgolam clung to the man
he had tried to rob; the Hindoo Ayan and the English maid hustled their
mistress, the haughty Mrs. Beresford, and were hustled by her, for a bit
of this human pillar; and little Murphy and Fred Beresford wriggled in at
him where they could: and the poor goat crept into the quivering mass
trembling like an aspen, and not a butt left either in his head or his
heart. Dodd stood in the middle of these tremblers, a rock of manhood:
and when he was silent and they heard only the voice of the waves, they
despaired; and whenever he spoke, they started at the astounding calmness
of his voice and words, and life sounded possible.
"Come," said he, "this won't do any longer. All hands into the
He helped them all up, and stood on the ratlines himself: and, if you
will believe me, the poor goat wailed like a child below. He found in
that new terror and anguish a voice goat was never heard to speak in
before. But they had to leave him on deck: no help for it. Dodd advised
Mrs. Beresford once more to attempt the rope: she declined. "I dare not!
I dare not!" she cried, but she begged Dodd hard to go on it and save
It was a strong temptation: he clutched the treasure in his bosom, and
one sob burst from the strong man.
That sob was but the tax paid by Nature; for pride, humanity, and manhood
stood staunch in spite of it. "No, no, I can't," said he "I mustn't.
Don't tempt me to leave you in this plight, and be a cur! Live or die, I
must be the last man on her. Here's something coming out to us, the Lord
in Heaven be praised!"
A bright light was seen moving down the black line that held them to the
shore; it descended slowly within a foot of the billows, and lighting
them up showed their fearful proximity to the rope in mid-passage: they
had washed off many a poor fellow at that part.
"Look at that! Thank Heaven you did not try it!" said Dodd to Mrs.
At tins moment a higher wave than usual swallowed up the light: there was
a loud cry of dismay from the shore, and a wail of despair from the ship.
No! not lost after all! The light emerged, and mounted, and mounted
towards the ship.
It came near, and showed the black shiny body of Vespasian, with very
little on but a handkerchief and a lantern--the former round his waist,
and the latter lashed to his back: he arrived with a "Yah! yah!" and
showed his white teeth in a grin.
Mrs. Beresford clutched his shoulder, and whimpered, " Oh, Mr. Black!"
"Iss, Missy, dis child bring good news. Cap'n! Massah Fullalove send you
his congratulations, and the compliments of the season; and take the
liberty to observe the tide am turn in twenty minutes."
The good news thus quaintly announced caused an outburst of joy from
Dodd, and, sailor-like, he insisted on all hands joining in a cheer. The
shore re-echoed it directly. And this encouraged the forlorn band still
more; to hear other hearts beating for them so near. Even the intervening
waves could not quite annul the sustaining power of sympathy.
At this moment came the first faint streaks of welcome dawn, and revealed
their situation more fully.
The vessel lay on the edge of a sandbank. She was clean in two, the stern
lying somewhat higher than the stem. The sea rolled through her amidships
six feet broad, frightful to look at, and made a clean breach over her
forward, all except the bowsprit to the end of which the poor sailors
were now discovered to be clinging. The afterpart of the poop was out of
water, and in a corner of it the goat crouched like a rabbit: four dead
bodies washed about beneath the party trembling in the mizen-top, and one
had got jammed in the wheel, face uppermost and glared up at them, gazing
No sign of the tide turning yet, and much reason to fear it would turn
too late for them and the poor fellows shivering on the bowsprit.
These fears were well founded.
A huge sea rolled in, and turned the forepart of the vessel half over,
buried the bowsprit, and washed the men off into the breakers.
Mrs. Beresford sank down, and prayed, holding Vespasian by the knee.
Fortunately, as in that vessel wrecked long syne on Melita, "the hind
part of the ship stuck fast and remained immovable."
But for how long?
Each wave now struck the ship's weather quarter with a sound like a
cannon fired in a church, and sent the water clear into the mizen-top. It
hit them like strokes of a whip. They were drenched to the skin, chilled
to the bone, and frozen to the heart with fear. They made acquaintance
that hour with Death. Ay, Death itself has no bitterness that forlorn
cluster did not feel: only the insensibility that ends that bitterness
Now the sea, you must know, was literally strewed with things out of the
_Agra_; masts, rigging, furniture, tea-chests, bundles of canes, chairs,
tables; but of all this jetsam, Dodd's eye had been for some little time
fixed on one object: a live sailor drifting ashore on a great wooden
case. It struck him after a while that the man made very little way, and
at last seemed to go up and down in one place. By-and-bye he saw him
nearer and nearer, and recognised him. It was one of the three washed off
He cried joyfully, "The tide has turned! here's Thompson coming out to
Then there ensued a dialogue, incredible to landsmen, between these two
sailors, the captain of the ship and the captain of the foretop, one
perched on a stationary fragment of that vessel, the other drifting on a
pianoforte, and both bawling at one another across the jaws of death.
"Going out with the tide, and be d----d to me."
"What, can't ye swim ?"
"Like a brass figure-head. It's all over with poor Jack, sir."
"All over! Don't tell me! Look out now as you drift under our stern, and
we'll lower you the four-inch hawser."
"Lord bless you, sir, do, pray!" cried Thompson, losing his recklessness
with the chance of life.
By this time the shore was black with people, and a boat was brought down
to the beach, but to attempt to launch it was to be sucked out to sea.
At present all eyes were fixed on Thompson drifting to destruction.
Dodd cut the four-inch hawser, and Vespasian, on deck, lowered it with a
line, so that Thompson presently drifted right athwart it. "All right,
sir!" said he, grasping it, and, amidst thundering acclamations, was
drawn to land full of salt water and all but insensible. The piano landed
at Dunkirk three weeks later.
In the bustle of this good and smart action the tide retired perceptibly.
By-and-bye the sea struck lower and with less weight.
At 9 P. M. Dodd took his little party down on deck again, being now the
safest place; for the mast might go.
It was a sad scene: the deck was now dry, and the dead bodies lay quiet
around them with glassy eyes; and, grotesquely horrible, the long hair of
two or three was stiff and crystallised with the saltpetre in the ship.
Mrs. Beresford clung to Vespasian: she held his bare black shoulder with
one white and jewelled hand, and his wrist with the other, tight. "Oh,
Mr. Black," said she, "how brave you are! It is incredible. Why, you came
back! I must feel a brave man with both my hands or I shall die. Your
skin is nice and soft, too. I shall never outlive this dreadful day."
And now that the water was too low to wash them off the hawser, several
of the ship's company came back to the ship to help the women down.
By noon the _Agra's_ deck was thirty feet from the sand. The rescued ones
wanted to break their legs and necks, but Dodd would not permit even
that. He superintended the whole manoeuvre, and lowered, first the dead,
then the living, not omitting the poor goat, who was motionless and limp
When they were all safe on the sand, Dodd stood alone upon the poop a
minute, cheered by all the sailors, French and English, ashore, then slid
down a rope and rejoined his companions.
To their infinite surprise, the undaunted one was found to be snivelling.
"Oh, dear! what is the matter?" said Mrs. Beresford tenderly.
"The poor _Agra_, ma'am! She was such a beautiful sea-boat: and just look
at her now! Never sail again: never! never! She was a little crank in
beating, I can't deny it; but how she did fly with the wind abaft. She
sank a pirate in the straits, and weathered a hurricane off the
Mauritius; and after all for a lubber to go and lay her bones ashore in a
fair wind: poor dear beauty!"
He maundered thus, and kept turning back to look at the wreck, till he
happened to lay his hand on his breast He stopped in the middle of his
ridiculous lament wore a look of self-reproach, and cast his eyes upward
in heartfelt gratitude.
The companions of so many adventures dispersed.
A hospitable mayoress entertained Mrs. Beresford and suite; and she took
to her bed, for she fell seriously ill as soon as ever she could do it
Colonel Kenealy went off to Paris: "I'll gain that, any way, by being
wrecked," said he.
If there be a lover of quadrupeds here, let him know that Billy's
weakness proved his strength. Being brandied by a good-natured French
sailor, he winked his eye; being brandied greatly, he staggered up and
butted his benefactor like a man.
Fullalove had dry clothes and a blazing fire ready for Dodd at a little
rude auberge. He sat over it and dried a few bank-notes. he had loose
about him, and examined his greater treasure, his children's. The
pocket-book was much stained, but no harm whatever done to the contents.
In the midst of this employment the shadow of an enormous head was
projected right upon his treasure.
Turning with a start, he saw a face at the window: one of those vile mugs
which are found to perfection amongst the _canaille_ of the French
nation--bloated, blear-eyed, grizzly, and wild-beast like. The ugly
thing, on being confronted, passed slowly out of the sun, and Dodd
thought no more of it.
The owner of this sinister visage was Andre Thibout, of whom it might be
said, like face like life; for he was one of those ill-omened creatures
who feed upon the misfortunes of their kind, and stand on shore in foul
weather hoping the worst, instead of praying for the best: briefly, a
wrecker. He and his comrade, Jacques Moinard, had heard the _Agra's_ gun
fired, and came down to batten on the wreck: but ho! at the turn of the
tide, there were gensdarmes and soldiers lining the beach, and the
Bayonet interposed between Theft and Misfortune. So now the desperate
pair were prowling about like hungry, baffled wolves, curses on their
lips and rage at their hearts.
Dodd was extremely anxious to get to Barkington before the news of the
wreck; for otherwise he knew his wife and children would suffer a year's
agony in a single day. The only chance he saw was to get to Boulogne in
time to catch the _Nancy_ sailing packet; for it was her day. But then
Boulogne was eight leagues distant, and there was no public conveyance
going. Fullalove, entering heartily into his feelings, was gone to look
for horses to hire, aided by the British Consul. The black hero was
upstairs clearing out with a pin two holes that had fallen into decay for
want of use. These holes were in his ears.
And now, worn out by anxiety and hard work, Dodd began to nod in his
chair by the fire.
He had not been long asleep when the hideous face of Thibout reappeared
at the window and watched him. Presently a low whistle was uttered
outside, and soon the two ruffians entered the room, and, finding the
landlady there as well as Dodd, called for a little glass apiece of
absinthe. While drinking it, they cast furtive glances towards Dodd, and
waited till she should go about her business, and leave them alone with
But the good woman surmised their looks, and knowing the character of the
men, poured out a cup of coffee from a great metal reservoir by the fire,
and waked Dodd without ceremony: "Voici votre cafe, Monsieur!" making
believe he had ordered it.
"Merci, Madame!" replied he, for his wife had taught him a little French.
"One may sleep _mal a propos,_" muttered the woman in his ear. "My man is
at the fair, and there are people here who are not worth any great
Dodd rubbed his eyes and saw those two foul faces at the end of the
kitchen: for such it was, though called _salle a manger._ "Humph!" said
he; and instinctively buttoned his coat
At that Thibout touched Moinard's knee under the table.
Fullalove came in soon after to say he had got two horses, and they would
be here in a quarter of an hour.
"Well, but Vespasian? how is he to go?" inquired Dodd.
"Oh, we'll send him on ahead, and then ride and tie."
"No, no," said Dodd, "I'll go ahead. That will shake me up. I think I
should tumble off a horse; I'm so dead sleepy."
Accordingly he started to walk on the road to Boulogne.
He had not been gone three minutes when Moinard sauntered out.
Moinard had not been gone two minutes when Thibout strolled out.
Moinard kept Dodd in sight and Thibout kept Moinard.
The horses were brought soon after, but unfortunately the pair did not
start immediately, though, had they known it, every moment was precious.
They wasted time in argument. Vespasian had come down with a diamond ring
in one ear, and a ruby in the other. Fullalove saw this retrograde step,
and said grimly, "Have you washed but half your face, or is this a return
Vespasian wore an air of offended dignity. "No, sar; these yar
decorations come off a lady ob i cibilisation: Missy Beresford donated
'em me. Says she, 'Massah Black'--yah! yah! She always nick-nominates dis
child Massa Black-- 'while I was praying Goramighty for self and
pickaninny, I seen you out of one corner of my eye admirationing my
rings; den just you take 'em,' says dat ar aristocracy: 'for I don't
admirationise 'em none: I've been shipwrecked.' So I took 'em wid
incredible condescension; and dat ar beautiful lady says to me, 'Oh, get
along wid your nonsense about coloured skins! I have inspectionated your
conduct, Massa Black, and likewise your performances on the slack rope,'
says she, 'in time of shipwreck: and darn me,' says she, 'but you are a
man, you are.' 'No, Missy,' says I superciliously, 'dis child am not a
man, if you please, but a coloured gemman.'" He added, he had put them in
his ears because the biggest would not go on his little finger.
Fullalove groaned. "And of course, the next thing, you'll ring your snout
like a pig or a Patagonian. There, come along, ye darn'd--Anomaly."
He was going to say "Cuss," but remembering his pupil's late heroic
conduct, softened it down to Anomaly.
But Vespasian always measured the force of words by their length or
obscurity. "Anomaly" cut him to the heart: he rode off in moody silence
and dejection, asking himself sorrowfully what he had done that such a
mountain of vituperation should fall on him. "Anomaly!!"
They cantered along in silence; for Fullalove was digesting this new
trait in his pupil, and asking himself could he train it out, or must he
cross it out. Just outside the town they met Captain Robarts walking in;
he had landed three miles off down the coast. "Hallo!" said Fullalove.
"I suppose you thought I was drowned?" said Robarts spitefully; "but you
see I'm alive still."
Fullalove replied, "Well, captain, that is only one mistake more you've
made, I reckon."
About two English miles from the town they came to a long straight slope
up and down, where they could see a league before them; and there they
caught sight of David Dodd's tall figure mounting the opposite rise.
Behind him at some little distance were two men going the same way, but
on the grass by the roadside, whereas David was on the middle of the
"He walks well for Jacky Tar," said Fullalove.
"Iss, sar," said Vespasian sulkily; "but dis 'Analogy' tink he not walk
so fast as those two behind him, cos they catch him up."
Now Vespasian had hardly uttered these words when a thing occurred, so
sudden and alarming, that the speaker's eyes protruded, and he was
dumfounded a moment; the next a loud cry burst from both him and his
companion at once, and they lashed their horses to the gallop and went
tearing down the hill in a fury of rage and apprehension.
Mr. Fullalove was right, I think: a sailor is seldom a smart walker; but
Dodd was a cricketer, you know, as well. He swung along at a good pace
and in high spirits. He had lost nothing but a few clothes, and a
quadrant, and a chronometer; it was a cheap wreck to him, and a joyful
one: for peril past is present delight. He had saved his life, and what
he valued more, his children's money. Never was that dear companion of
his perils so precious to him as now. One might almost fancy that, by
some strange sympathy, he felt the immediate happiness of his daughter
depended on it. Many in my day believe that human minds can thus
communicate, overleaping material distances. Not knowing, I can't say.
However, no such solution is really needed here. All the members of a
united and loving family feel together and work together--without
specific concert--though hemispheres lie between: it is one of the
beautiful traits of true family affection. Now the Dodds, father, mother,
sister, brother, were more one in heart and love than any other family I
ever saw: woe to them if they had not.
David, then, walked towards Boulogne that afternoon a happy man. Already
he tasted by anticipation the warm caresses of his wife and children, and
saw himself seated at the hearth, with those beloved ones clustering
close round him. How would he tell them Its adventures--Its dangers from
pirates--Its loss at sea--Its recovery--Its wreck--Its coming ashore dry
as a bone; and conclude by taking It out of his bosom and dropping It in
his wife's lap with "Cheer, boys, cheer!"
Trudging on in this delightful reverie, his ear detected a pitpat at some
distance behind him: he looked round with very slight curiosity and saw
two men coming up. Even in that hasty glance he recognised the foulface
of Andre Tiribout, a face not to be forgotten in a day. I don't know how
it was, but he saw in a moment that face was after him to rob him, and he
naturally enough concluded It was their object.
And he was without a weapon, and they were doubtless armed. Indeed,
Thibout was swinging a heavy cudgel.
Poor Dodd's mind went into a whirl and his body into a cold sweat. In
such moments men live a year. To gain a little time he walked swiftly on,
pretending not to have noticed them: but oh! his eyes roved wildly to
each side of the road for a chance of escape. He saw none. To his right
was a precipitous rock; to his left a profound ravine with a torrent
below, and the sides scantily clothed with fir-trees and bushes: he was,
in fact, near the top of a long rising ground called _"La Mauvaise
Cote,_" on account of a murder committed there two hundred years ago.
Presently he heard the men close behind him. At the same moment he saw at
the side of the ravine a flint stone about the size of two fists: he made
but three swift strides, snatched it up, and turned to meet the robbers,
drawing himself up high, and showing fight in every inch.
The men were upon him. His change of attitude was so sudden and fiery
that they recoiled a step. But it was only for a moment: they had gone
too far to retreat; they divided, and Thibout attacked him on his left
with uplifted cudgel, and Moinard on his right with a long glittering
knife. The latter, to guard his head from the stone, whipped off his hat
and held it before his head: but Dodd was what is called "left handed:"
"ambidexter" would be nearer the mark (he carved and wrote with his right
hand, heaved weights and flung cricket-balls with his left). He stepped
forward, flung the stone in Thibout's face with perfect precision, and
that bitter impetus a good thrower lends at the moment of delivery, and
almost at the same moment shot out his right hand and caught Moinard by
the throat. Sharper and fiercer collision was never seen than of these
Thibout's face crashed; his blood squirted all round the stone, and eight
yards off lay that assailant on his back.
Moinard was more fortunate: he got two inches of his knife into Dodd's
left shoulder, at the very moment Dodd caught him in his right-hand vice.
And now one vengeful hand of iron grasped him felly by the throat;
another seized his knife arm and twisted it back like a child's. He
kicked and struggled furiously, but in half a minute the mighty English
arm and iron fingers held the limp body of Jacques Moinard with its knees
knocking, temples bursting, throat relaxed, eyes protruding, and livid
tongue lolling down to his chin. A few seconds more, and, with the same
stalwart arm that kept his relaxed and sinking body from falling, Dodd
gave him one fierce whirl round to the edge of the road, then put a foot
to his middle, and spurned his carcase with amazing force and fury down
the precipice. Crunch! crunch! it plunged from tree to tree, from bush to
bush, and at last rolled into a thick bramble, and there stuck in the
form of a crescent But Dodd had no sooner sent him headlong by that
mighty effort, than his own sight darkened, his head swam, and, after
staggering a little way, he sank down in a state bordering on
insensibility. Meantime Fullalove and Vespasian were galloping down the
opposite hill to his rescue.
Unfortunately, Andre Thibout was not dead, nor even mortally wounded. He
was struck on the nose and mouth; that nose was flat for the rest of his
life, and half of his front teeth were battered out of their sockets, but
he fell, not from the brain being stunned, but the body driven to earth
by the mere physical force of so momentous a blow, knocked down like a
ninepin. He now sat up bewildered, and found himself in a pool of blood,
his own. He had little sensation of pain, but he put his hand to his
face, and found scarce a trace of his features, and his hand came away
gory. He groaned.
Rising to his feet, he saw Dodd sitting at some distance; his first
impulse was to fly from so terrible an antagonist, but, as he made for
the ravine, he observed that Dodd was in a helpless condition, wounded
perhaps by Moinard. And where was Moinard?
Nothing visible of him but his knife: that lay glittering in the road.
Thibout with anxious eye turned towards Dodd, kneeled to pick it up, and
in the act a drop of his own blood fell on the dust beside it. He snarled
like a wounded tiger, spat out half-a-dozen teeth, and crept on tiptoe to
his safe revenge.
Awake from your lethargy or you are a dead man!
No! Thibout got to him unperceived, and the knife glittered over his
At this moment the air seemed to fill with clattering hoofs and voices,
and a pistol-shot rang. Dodd heard and started, and so saw his peril. He
put up his left hand to parry the blow, but feebly. Luckily for him
Thibout's eyes were now turned another way, and glaring with stupid
terror out of his mutilated visage: a gigantic mounted fiend, with black
face and white gleaming, rolling eyes was coming at him like the wind,
uttering horrid howls. Thibout launched himself at the precipice with a
shriek of dismay, and went rolling after his comrade; but ere he had gone
ten yards he fell across a young larch-tree and hung balanced. Up came
the foaming horses: Fullalove dismounted hastily and fired three
deliberate shots down at Thibout from his revolver. He rolled off, and
never stopped again till he splashed into the torrent, and lay there
staining it with blood from his battered face and perforated shoulder.
Vespasian jumped off, and with glistening eyes administered some good
brandy to Dodd. He, unconscious of his wound, a slight one, relieved
their anxiety by assuring them somewhat faintly he was not hurt, but
that, ever since that "tap on the head" he got in the Straits of Gaspar,
any angry excitement told on him, made his head swim, and his temples
seem to swell from the inside.
"I should have come off second-best but for you, my dear friends. Shake
hands over it, do! O, Lord bless you! Lord bless you both. As for you,
Vespasian, I do think you are my guardian angel. Why, this is the second
time you've saved my life. No, it isn't: for it's the third."
"Now you git along, Massa Cap'n," said Vespasian. "You berry good man,
ridicalous good man; and dis child ar'nt no gardening angel at all; he ar
a darned Anatomy" (with such a look of offended dignity at Fullalove).
After examining the field of battle and comparing notes, they mounted
Dodd on Vespasian's horse, and walked quietly till Dodd's head got
better; and then they cantered on three abreast, Vespasian in the middle
with one sinewy hand on each horse's mane; and such was his muscular
power, that he often relieved his feet by lifting himself clean into the
air, and the rest of the time his toe but touched the ground, and he
sailed like an ostrich and grinned and chattered like a monkey.
Sad to relate, neither Thibout nor Moinard was ended. The guillotine
stood on its rights. Meantime, what was left of them crawled back to the
town stiff and sore, and supped together--Moinard on liquids only--and
vowed revenge on all wrecked people.
The three reached Boulogne in time for the _Nancy,_ and put Dodd on
board: the pair decided to go to the Yankee Paradise--Paris.
They parted with regret and tenderly, like old tried friends; and
Vespasian told Dodd, with tears in his eyes, that though he was in point
of fact only a darned Anemo, he felt like a coloured gemman at parting
from his dear old Captain.
The master of the _Nancy_ knew Dodd well, and gave him a nice cot to
sleep in. He tumbled in with a bad headache and quite worn out, and never
woke for fifteen hours.
And when he did wake, he was safe at Barkington.
He and It landed on the quay. He made for home.
On the way he passed Hardie's bank, a firm synonymous in his mind with
the Bank of England.
A thrill of joy went through him. Now it _was_ safe. When he first sewed
It on in China, It seemed secure nowhere except on his own person. But
since then, the manifold perils by sea and land It had encountered
through being on him, had caused a strong reaction in his mind on that
point. He longed to see It safe out of his own hands and in good custody.
He made for Hardie's door with a joyful rush, waved his cap over his head
in triumph, and entered the bank with It.
CHRONOLOGY.--The Hard Cash sailed from Canton months before the boat race
at Henley recorded in Chapter I., but it landed in Barkington a fortnight
after the last home event I recorded in its true series.
Now this fortnight, as it happens, was fruitful of incidents, and must be
dealt with at once. After that, "Love" and "Cash," the converging
branches of this story, will flow together in one stream.
Alfred Hardie kept faith with Mrs. Dodd, and, by an effort she
appreciated, forbore to express his love for Julia except by the pen. He
took in Lloyd's shipping news, and got it down by rail, in hopes there
would be something about the _Agra;_ then he could call at Albion Villa.
Mrs. Dodd had given him that loophole: meantime he kept moping for an
invitation, which never came.
Julia was now comparatively happy, and so indeed was Alfred; but then the
male of our species likes to be superlatively happy, not comparatively;
and that Mrs. Dodd forgot or perhaps had not observed.
One day Sampson was at Albion Villa, and Alfred knew it. Now, though it
was a point of honour with poor Alfred not to hang about after Julia
until her father's return, he had a perfect right to lay in wait for
Sampson and hear something about her; and he was so deep in love that
even a word at second-hand from her lips was a drop of dew to his heart.
So he strolled up towards the villa. He had nearly reached it, when a
woman ran past him making the most extraordinary sounds: I can only
describe it as screaming under her breath. Though he only saw her back,
he recognised Mrs. Maxley. One back differeth from another, whatever you
may have been told to the contrary in novels and plays. He called to her:
she took no notice, and darted wildly through the gate of Albion Villa.
Alfred's curiosity was excited, and he ventured to put his head over the
gate. But Mrs. Maxley had disappeared.
Alfred had half a mind to go in and inquire if anything was the matter:
it would be a good excuse.
While he hesitated, the dining-room window was thrown violently up, and
Sampson looked out. "Hy! Hardie! my good fellow! for Heaven's sake a fly,
and a fast one!"
It was plain something very serious had occurred: so Alfred flew towards
the nearest fly-stand. On the way, he fell in with a chance fly drawn up
at a public-house; he jumped on the box and drove rapidly towards Albion
Villa. Sampson was hobbling to meet him--he had sprained his ankle or
would not have asked for a conveyance--to save time he got up beside
Alfred, and told him to drive hard to Little Friar Street. On the way he
explained hurriedly: Mrs. Maxley had burst in on him at Albion Villa to
say her husband was dying in torment: and indeed the symptoms she gave
were alarming, and, if correct, looked very like lockjaw. But her
description had been cut short by a severe attack, which choked her and
turned her speechless and motionless, and white to the very lips.
"'Oho,' sis I, 'brist-pang!' And at such a time, ye know. But these women
are as unseasonable as they are unreasonable. Now, angina pictoris or
brist-pang is not curable through the lungs, nor the stomick, nor the
liver, nor the stays, nor the saucepan, as the bunglintinkerindox of the
schools pretind, but only through that mighty mainspring the Brain; and
instid of going meandering to the Brain round by the stomick, and so
giving the wumman lots o' time to die first, which is the scholastic
practice, I wint at the Brain direct, took a puff o' chlorofm put m' arm
round her neck, laid her back in a chair--she didn't struggle, for, when
this disorrder grips ye, ye cant move hand nor foot--and had my lady into
the land of Nod in half a minute; thin off t' her husband; so here's th'
Healer between two stools--spare the whipcord, spoil the knacker!--it
would be a good joke if I was to lose both pashints for want of a little
unbeequity, wouldn't it--Lash the lazy vagabin!--Not that I care: what
interest have I in their lives? they never pay: but ye see custom's
second nature; an d'Ive formed a vile habit; I've got to be a Healer
among the killers: an d'a Triton among--the millers. Here we are at last,
Hiven be praised." And he hopped into the house faster than most people
can run on a good errand. Alfred flung the reins to a cad and followed
The room was nearly full of terrified neighbours: Sampson shouldered them
all roughly out of his way, and there, on a bed, lay Maxley's gaunt
figure in agony.
His body was drawn up by the middle into an arch, and nothing touched the
bed but the head and the heels; the toes were turned back in the most
extraordinary contortion, and the teeth set by the rigour of the
convulsion, and in the man's white face and fixed eyes were the horror
and anxiety, that so often show themselves when the body feels itself in
the grip of Death.
Mr. Osmond the surgeon was there; he had applied a succession of hot
cloths to the pit of the stomach, and was trying. to get laudanum down
the throat, but the clenched teeth were impassable.
He now looked up and said politely, "Ah! Dr. Sampson, I am glad to see
you here. The seizure is of a cataleptic nature, I apprehend. The
treatment hitherto has been hot epithems to the abdomen, and----"
Here Sampson, who had examined the patient keenly, and paid no more
attention to Osmond than to a fly buzzing, interrupted him as
"Poisoned," said he philosophically.
"Poisoned!!" screamed the people.
"Poisoned!" cried Mr. Osmond, in whose little list of stereotyped
maladies poisoned had no place. "Is there any one you have reason to
"I don't suspect, nor conject, sir: I know. The man is poisoned, the
substance strychnine. Now stand out of the way you gaping gabies, and let
me work. Hy, young Oxford! you are a man: get behind and hold both his
arms for your life! That's you!"
He whipped off his coat laid hold of Osmond's epithems, chucked them
across the room, saying, "You may just as well squirt rose-water at a
house on fire;" drenched his handkerchief with chloroform, sprang upon
the patient like a mountain cat and chloroformed him with all his might.
Attacked so skilfully and resolutely, Maxley resisted little for so
strong a man; but the potent poison within fought virulently: as a proof,
the chloroform had to be renewed three times before it could produce any
effect. At last the patient yielded to the fumes and became insensible.
Then the arched body subsided and the rigid muscles relaxed and turned
supple. Sampson kneaded the man like dough by way of comment.
"It is really very extraordinary," said Osmond.
"Mai--dearr--sirr, nothing's extraornary t' a man that knows the reason
He then inquired if any one in the room had noticed at what intervals of
time the pains came on.
"I am sorry to say it is continuous," said Osmond.
"Mai--dearr--sirr, nothing on airth is continuous: iverything has
paroxysms and remissions--from a toothache t' a cancer."
He repeated his query in various forms, till at last a little girl
squeaked out, "If--_you_---please, sir, the throes do come about every
ten minutes, for I was a looking at the clock; I carries father his
dinner at twelve."
"If you please, ma'am, there's half a guinea for you for not being such
an' ijjit as the rest of the world, especially the Dockers." And he
jerked her half a sovereign.
A stupor fell on the assembly. They awoke from it to examine the coin,
and see if it was real, or only yellow air.
Maxley came to and gave a sigh of relief. When he had been insensible,
yet out of pain, nearly eight minutes by the clock, Sampson chloroformed
him again. "I'll puzzle ye, my friend strych," said he. "How will ye get
your perriodical paroxysms when the man is insensible? The Dox say y' act
direct on the spinal marrow. Well, there's the spinal marrow where you
found it just now. Act on it again, my lad! I give ye leave--if ye can.
Ye can't; bekase ye must pass through the Brain to get there: and I
occupy the Brain with a swifter ajint than y' are, and mean to keep y'
out of it till your power to kill evaporates, being a vigitable."
With this his spirits mounted, and he indulged in a harmless and
favourite fiction: he feigned the company were all males and medical
students, Osmond included, and he the lecturer. "Now, jintlemen," said
he, "obsairve the great Therey of the Perriodeecity and Remitteney of all
disease, in conjunckshin with its practice. All diseases have paroxysms
and remissions, which occur at intervals; sometimes it's a year,
sometimes a day, an hour, ten minutes; but whatever th' interval, they
are true to it: they keep time. Only when the disease is retirin, the
remissions become longer, the paroxysms return at a greater interval, and
just the revairse when the pashint is to die. This, jintlemen, is man's
life from the womb to the grave: the throes that precede his birth are
remittent like ivery thing else, but come at diminished intervals when he
has really made up his mind to be born (his first mistake, sirs, but not
his last); and the paroxysms of his mortal disease come at shorter
intervals when he is really goon off the hooks: but still
chronometrically; just as watches keep time whether they go fast or slow.
Now, jintlemen, isn't this a beautiful Therey?"
"Oh, mercy! Oh, good people help me! Oh, Jesus Christ have pity on me!"
And the sufferer's body was bent like a bow, and his eyes filled with
horror, and his toes pointed at his chin.
The Doctor hurled himself on the foe. "Come," said he, "smell to this,
lad! That's right! He is better already, jintlemen, or he couldn't howl,
ye know. Deevil a howl in um before I gave um puff chlorofm. Ah! would
ye? would ye?"
"Oh! oh! oh! oh! ugh!----ah!"
The Doctor got off the insensible body, and resumed his lecture calmly,
like one who has disposed of some childish interruption. "And now to th'
application of the Therey: If the poison can reduce the tin minutes'
interval to five minutes, this pashint will die; and if I can get the tin
minutes up t' half hour, this pashint will live. Any way, jintlemen, we
won't detain y' unreasonably: the case shall be at an end by one
On hearing this considerate stipulation, up went three women's aprons to
"Alack! poor James Maxley! he is at his last hour: it be just gone
twelve, and a dies at one."
Sampson turned on the weepers. "Who says that, y' ijjits? I said the case
would end at one: a case ends when the pashint gets well or dies."
"Oh, that is good news for poor Susan Maxley; her man is to be well by
one o'clock, Doctor says."
Sampson groaned, and gave in. he was strong, but not strong enough to
make the populance suspend an opinion.
Yet, methinks it might be done: by chloroforming them.
The spasms came at longer intervals and less violent, and Maxley got so
fond of the essence of Insensibility, that he asked to have some in his
own hand to apply at the first warning of the horrible pains.
Sampson said, "Any fool can complete the cure; and, by way of practical
comment, left him in Mr. Osmond's charge; but with an understanding that
the treatment should not be varied; that no laudanum should be given;
but, in due course, a stiff tumbler of brandy and water, or two. "If he
gets drunk, all the better; a little intoxication weakens the body's
memory of the pain it has endured, and so expedites the cure. Now off we
go to th' other."
"The body's memory!" said Mr. Osmond to himself: "what on earth does the
The driver _de jure_ of the fly was not quite drunk enough to lose his
horse and vehicle without missing them. He was on the look out for the
robber, and as Alfred came round the corner full pelt, darted at the
reins with a husky remonstrance, and Alfred cut into him with the whip:
an angry explanation--a guinea--and behold the driver sitting behind
complacent and nodding.
Arrived at Albion Villa, Alfred asked Sampson submissively if he might
come in and see the wife cured.
"Why, of course," said Sampson, not knowing the delicate position.
"Then ask me in before Mrs. Dodd," murmured Alfred coaxingly.
"Oo, ay," said the Doctor knowingly: "I see."
Mrs. Maxley was in the dining-room: she had got well of herself, but was
crying bitterly, and the ladies would not let her go home yet; they
feared the worst and that some one would blurt it out to her.
To this anxious trio entered Sampson radiant. "There, it's all right.
Come, little Maxley, ye needn't cry; he has got lots more mischief to do
in the world yet; but, O wumman, it is lucky you came to me and not to
any of the tinkering dox. No more cat and dog for you and him but for the
Chronothairmal Therey. And you may bless my puppy's four bones too: he
ran and stole a fly like a man, and drove hilter-skilter. Now, lf I had
got to your house two minutes later, your Jamie would have lairned the
great secret ere this." He threw up the window. "Haw you! come away and
receive the applause due from beauty t' ajeelity."
Alfred came in timidly, and was received with perfect benignity and
self-possession by Mrs. Dodd, but Julia's face was dyed with blushes, and
her eyes sparkled the eloquent praise she was ashamed to speak before
them all. But such a face as her scarce needed the help of a voice at
such a time. And indeed both the lovers' faces were a pretty sight and a
study. How they stole loving glances, but tried to keep within bounds,
and not steal more than three per minute! and how unconscious they
endeavoured to look the intervening seconds! and what windows were the
demure complacent visages they thought they were making shutters of!
Innocent love has at least this advantage over melodramatic, that it can
extract exquisite sweetness out of so small a thing. These sweethearts
were not alone, could not open their hearts, must not even gaze too long;
yet to be in the same room even on such terms was a taste of Heaven.
"But, dear heart!" said Mrs. Maxley, "ye don't tell me what he ailed.
Ma'am, if you had seen him you would have said he was taken for death."
"Pray what _is_ the complaint?" inquired Mrs. Dodd.
"Oh, didn't I tell ye? Poisoned."
This intelligence was conveyed with true scientific calmness, and
received with feminine ejaculations of horror. Mrs. Maxley was indignant
into the bargain: "Don't ye go giving my house an ill name! We keeps no
Sampson fixed his eyes sternly on her: "Wumman, ye know better: ye keep
strychnine, for th' use and delectation of your domestic animal."
"Strychnine! I never heard tell of it. Is that Latin for arsenic?"
"Now isn't this lamentable? Why, arsenic is a mital; strychnine a
vigitable. N'hist me! Your man was here seeking strychnine to poison his
mouse; a harmless, domistic, necessary mouse. I told him mice were a part
of Nature as much as Maxleys, and life as sweet tit as tim: but he was
dif to scientific and chrisehin preceps; so I told him to go to the
Deevil: 'I will,' sis he, and went t' a docker. The two assassins have
poisoned the poor beastie between 'em; and thin, been the greatest miser
in the world, except one, he will have roasted his victim, and ate her on
the sly, imprignated with strychnine. 'I'll steal a march on t'other
miser,' sis he; and that's you: t' his brain flew the strychnine: his
brain sint it to his spinal marrow: and we found my lorrd bent like a
bow, and his jaw locked, and nearer knowin the great secret than any man
in England will be this year to live: and sairves the assassinating old
"Heaven forgive you, Doctor," said Mrs. Maxley, half mechanically.
"For curin a murrderer? Not likely."
Mrs. Maxley, who had shown signs of singular uneasiness during Sampson's
explanation, now rose, and said in a very peculiar tone she must go home
Mrs. Dodd seemed to enter into her feelings, and made her go in the fly,
taking care to pay the fare and the driver out of her own purse. As the
woman got into the fly, Sampson gave her a piece of friendly and
practical advice. "Nixt time he has a mind to breakfast on strychnine,
you tell me; and I'll put a pinch of arsenic in the salt-cellar, and cure
him safe as the bank. But this time he'd have been did and stiff long
before such a slow ajint as arsenic could get a hold on um."
They sat down to luncheon, but neither Alfred nor Julia fed much, except
upon sweet stolen looks; and soon the active Sampson jumped up, and
invited Alfred to go round his patients. Alfred could not decline, but
made his adieux with regret so tender and undisguised, that Julia's sweet
eyes filled, and her soft hand instinctively pressed his at parting to
console him. She blushed at herself afterwards, but at the time she was
thinking only of him.
Maxley and his wife came up in the evening with a fee. They had put their
heads together, and proffered one guinea. "Man and wife be one flesh, you
know, Doctor," said the rustic miser.
Sampson, whose natural choler was constantly checked by his humour,
declined this profuse proposal. "Here's vanity!" said he. "Now do you
really think your two lives are worth a guinea? Why, it's 252 pence! 1008
The pair affected disappointment--vilely.
At all events, he must accept this basket of gudgeons Maxley had brought
along. Being poisoned was quite out of Maxley's daily routine, and had so
unsettled him, that he had got up, and gone fishing--to the amazement of
Sampson inspected the basket. "Why, they are only fish," said he; _"I was
in hopes they were pashints._" He accepted the gudgeons, and inquired how
Maxley got poisoned. It came out that Mrs. Maxley, seeing her husband set
apart a portion of his Welsh rabbit, had "grizzled," and asked what that
was for; and being told "for the mouse," and to "mind her own business,"
had grizzled still more, and furtively conveyed a portion back into the
pan for her master's own use. She had been quaking dismally all the
afternoon at what she had done, but finding Maxley--hard but just--did
not attack her for an involuntary fault, she now brazened it out, and
said, "Men didn't ought to have poison in the house unbeknown to their
wives. Jem had got no more than he worked for," &c. But, like a woman,
she vowed vengeance on the mouse: whereupon Maxley threatened her with
the marital correction of neck-twisting if she laid a finger on it.
"My eyes be open now to what a poor creature do feel as dies poisoned.
Let her a be: there's room in our place for her and we."
Next day he met Alfred, and thanked him with warmth, almost with emotion.
"There ain't many in Barkington as ever done me a good turn, Master
Alfred; you be one on 'em: you comes after the Captain in my book now."
Alfred suggested that his claims were humble compared with Sampson's.
"No, no," said Maxley, going down to his whisper, and looking, monstrous
wise: "Doctor didn't go out of his business for me: you did."
The sage miser's gratitude had not time to die a natural death before
circumstances occurred to test it. On the morning of that eventful day
which concluded my last chapter, he received a letter from Canada. His
wife was out with eggs; so he caught little Rose Sutton, that had more
than once spelled an epistle for him; and she read it out in a loud and
reckless whine: "'At -- noon -- this -- very -- daie -- Muster --
Hardie's a-g-e-n-t, aguent -- d-i-s dis, h-o-n -- honour_ed_ --
dis-honour_ed_--a--bill; and sayed.'" Here she made a full stop. Then on
to the next verse.
"'There -- were no -- more -- asses.'"
"Mercy on us! but it can't be asses, wench: drive your spe-ad into't
"Ah! Go an! go an!"
"'Now -- Fatther -- if -- you -- leave -- a s-h-i-l-l-i-n-g, shilling --
at --Hardie's -- after -- this -- b-l-a-m-e, ble-am -- your -- self --
not-- me -- for -- this -- is -- the -- waie -- the r-o-g-u-e-s, rogews
-- all-- bre-ak -- they -- go -- at -- a-- d-i-s-t-a-n-c-e, distance --
first-- and -- then -- at -- h-o-m-e, whuoame. -- Dear -- fatther' --
Lawk o' daisy, what ails you, Daddy Maxley? You be as white as a Sunday
smock. Be you poisoned again, if _you_ please?"
"Worse than that--worse!" groaned Maxhey, trembling all over.
"Hush!--hold your tongue! Give me that letter! Don't you never tell
nobody nothing of what you have been a reading to me, and
I'll--I'll--It's only Jem's fun: he is allus running his rigs--that's a
good wench now, and I'll give ye a halfpenny."
"La, Daddy," said the child, opening her eyes, "I never heeds what I
_re-ads:_ I be wrapped up in the spelling. Dear heart, what a sight of
long words folks puts in a letter, more than ever drops out of their
mouths; which their fingers be longer than their tongues, I do suppose."
Maxley hailed thus information characteristically. "Then we'll say no
more about the halfpenny."
At this, Rose raised a lamentable cry, and pearly tears gushed forth.
"There, there!" said Maxley, deprecatingly; "here's two apples for ye; ye
can't get them for less: and a halfpenny or a haporth is all one to you,
but it is a great odds to me. And apples they rot; halfpence don't."
It was now nine o'clock. The bank did not open till ten; but Maxley went
and hung about the door, to be the first applicant.
As he stood there trembling with fear lest the bank should not open at
all, he thought hard, and the result was a double resolution: he would
have his money out to the last shilling; and, this done, would button up
his pockets and padlock his tongue. It was not his business to take care
of his neighbours; nor to blow the Hardies, if they paid him his money on
demand. "So not a word to my missus, nor yet to the town-crier," said he.
Ten o'clock struck, and the bank shutters remained up. Five minutes more,
and the watcher was in agony. Three minutes more, and up came a boy of
sixteen whistling, and took down the shutters with an indifference that
amazed him. "Bless your handsome face!" said Maxley with a sigh of
He now summoned up all his firmness, and, having recourse to an art in
which these shrewd rustics are supreme, made his face quite inexpressive,
and so walked into the bank the every-day Maxley externally, but within a
volcano ready to burst if there should be the slightest hesitation to pay
him his money.
"Good morning, Mr. Maxley," said young Skinner.
"Good morning, sir."
"What can we do for you?"
"Oh, I'll wait my turn, sir."
"Well, it is your turn now, if you like."
"How much have you got of mine, if you please, sir?"
"Your balance? I'll see. Nine hundred and four pounds."
"Well, sir, then, if _you_ please, I'll draa _that._"
("It has come!" thought Skinner.) "What, going to desert us?" he
"No," said the other, trembling inwardly, but not moving a facial muscle:
"it is only for a day or two, sir."