« ZurückWeiter »
holiness that it is usual to term (and rightly enough, when we remember who created principles) the providence of God. Let that people dread the future, who, in their collected capacity, systematically encourage injustice of any sort ; since their own eventual demoralization will follow as a necessary consequence, even though they escape punishment in a more direct form.
We shall not stop to relate the moody musings of the New Hampshire man. Unnurtured, and, in many respects, unprincipled as he was, he had his clear conceptions of the injustice of which he had been one, among thousands of other victims; and, at that moment, he would have held life itself as a cheap sacrifice, could he have had his fill of revenge. Time and again, while a captive on board the English ship in which he had been immured for years,
had he meditated the desperate expedient of blowing up the ves. sel; and had not the means been wanting, mercenary and selfish as he ordinarily seemed, he was every way equal to executing so dire a scheme, in order to put an end to the lives of those who were the agents in wronging him, and his own sufferings, together. The subject never recurred to his mind, without momentarily changing the current of its thoughts, and tinging all his feelings with an intensity of bitterness that it was painful to bear. At length, sighing heavily, he rose from the knight-head, and turned towards the mouth of the bay, as if to conceal from Raoul the expression of his countenance. This act, however, was scarcely done, ere he started, and an exclamation escaped him, that induced his companion to turn quickly on his heel, and face the sea. There, indeed, the growing light enabled both to discover an object that could scarcely be other than one of interest to men in their situation.
It has been said already, that the deep bay, on the side of which stands the town of Porto Ferrajo, opens to the north, looking in the direction of the headland of Piombino. On the right of the bay, the land, high and broken, stretches several miles ere it forms what is called the Canal, while on the left, it terminates with the low bluff on which stands the residence then occupied by Andrea Barrofaldi ; and which has since become so celebrated as the abode of one far greater than the worthy vice-governatore. The haven lying
ander these heights, on the left of the bay, and by the side of the town, it followed, as a matter of course, that the anchorage of the lugger was also in this quarter of the bay, commanding a clear view to the north, in the direction of the main land, as sar as eye could reach. The width of the Canal, or of the passage between Elba and the Point of Piombino, may be some six or seven miles; and at the distance of less than one mile from the northern end of the former, stands a small rocky islet, which has since become known to the world as the spot on which Napoleon stationed a corporal's guard, by way of taking possession, when he found his whole empire dwindled to the sea-girt mountains in its vicinity. With the existence and position of this island, both Raoul and Ithuel were necessarily acquainted, for they had seen it and noted its situation the previous night, though it had escaped their notice that, from the place where the Feu-Follet had brought up, it was not visible. In their first look to seaward, that morning, which was ere the light had grown sufficiently strong to render the houses on the opposite side of the bay distinct, an object had been seen in this quarter, which had then been mistaken for the rock; but, by this time, the light was strong enough to show that it was a very different thing. In a word, that which both Raoul and Ithuel had fancied an islet, was neither more nor less than a ship.
The stranger's head was to the northward, and his motion, before a light southerly air, could not have exceeded a knot an hour. He had no other canvass spread than his three topsails and jib; though his courses were hanging in the brails. His black hull was just beginning to show its details; and along the line of light-yellow, that enlivened his side, were visible the dark intervals of thirteen ports ; a real gun frowning in eac ). Although the hammocks were not stowed, and the hainmock-cloths had that empty and un. dressed-look which is so common to a man-of-war in the night, it was apparent that the ship had an upper-deck, with quarter-deck and forecastle batteries; or, in other words, that she was a frigate. As she had opened the town of Porto Ferrajo several minutes before she was herself seen from the Feu-Follet. an ensign was hanging from the end of her gaff, though there was not sufficient air to open its folds, in a way to let the national character of the stranger be known.
“ Peste !” exclaimed Raoul Yvard, as soon he had gazed a minute at the stranger, in silence- a pretty cul de sac are we in, if that gentleman should happen to be an Englishman !
What say you, Etooell; can you make out any. thing of that ensign—your eyes are the best in the lugger ?”
“ It is too much for any sight to detairmine, at this distance, and that before the sun is risen ; but, by having a glass ready, we shall soon know. Five minutes will bring us the Great Luminary, as our minister used to call him."
Ithuel had descended from the bulwark, while speaking ; and he now went aft in quest of a glass, returning to his old station, bringing two of the instruments; one of which he handed to his commander, while he kept the other himself. In another minute both had levelled their glasses at the stranger, whom each surveyed attentively, for some time, in profound silence.
" Pardie!” exclaimed Raoul, “ that ensign is the tricolor, or my eyes are untrue to my own country. Let me see, Etooell, what ship of forty-two, or forty-four, has the republic on this coast ?”
“ Not that, Monsieur Yvard,” answered Ithuel, with a manner so changed, and an emphasis so marked, as at once to draw his companion's attention from the frigate to his own countenance ; “ not that, Monsieur Capitaing. It is not easy for a bird to forget the cage in which he was shut up for two years; if that is not the accursed Proserpine, I have forgotten the cut of my own jib!”
“ La Proserpine !" repeated Raoul, who was familiar with his shipmate's adventures, and did not require to be told his meaning; “ if you are not mistaken, Etooell, le Feu-Foller needs put her lantern under a shade. This is only a forty, if I can count her ports.”
“I care nothing for ports, or guns; it is the Proserpine ; and the only harm I wish her is, that she were at the bottom of the ocean. The Proserpine, thirty-six, Captain Cuffe, though Captain Flog would have been a better name for him. Yes, the Proserpine, thirty-six, Captain Cuffe, Heaven bless her
“ Bah!- this vessel has forty-four guns-now I can seo to count them; I make twenty-two of a side.”
“Ay, that's just her measure - a thirty-six on the list and by rate, and forty-four by count; twenty-six long eighteens below; twelve thirty-two's, carronades, on her quarter-deck; and four more carronades, with two barkers, for’ard. She'd just extinguish your Jack-o'Lantern, Monsieur Rule, at one broadside ; for what are ten twelve-pound carronades, and seventy men, to such a frigate ?"
“ I am not madman enough, Etooell, to dream of fighting a frigate, or even a heavy sloop-of-war, with the force you have just inentioned; but I have followed the sea too long to be alarmed before I am certain of my danger. La Railleuse is just such a ship as that."
“ Hearken to reason, Monsieur Rule," answered Ithuel, earnestly; “La Railleuse, nor no other French frigate, would show her colours to an enemy's port; for it would be uselessly telling her errand. Now, an English ship might show a French ensign, for she always has it in her power to change it; and then she might be benefited by the cheat. The Proserpine is French built, and has French legs, too, boots or no boots” — here Ithuel laughed a little, involun. tarily, but his face instantly became serious again — “and I have heard she was a sister vessel of the other. So much for size and appearance; but every shroud, and port, and sail, about yonder craft, is registered on my back in a way that no sponge will ever wash out.”
“ Sa-a-c-r-r-r-e,” muttered Raoul between his teeth; “Etooell, if an Englishman, he may very weil take it into his head to come in here, and perhaps anchor within half-acable's length of us ! What think you of that, mon brave Américain ?"
“ That it may very well come to pass ; though one hardly sces, either, what is to bring a cruiser into such a place as this. Every one hasn't the curiosity of a Jack-o'Lantern."
“ Mais que diable allait-il faire dans cette galère ! Bien ; we must take the weather as it comes ; sometimes a gale, and sometimes a calm. As he shows his own ensign so loyally, let us return the compliment, and show ours. Hoist the ensign there, aft.”.
“ Which one, Monsieur ?" demanded an old demurelooking quarter-master, who was charged with that dury and who was never known to laugh ; " the captain will remember we came into port under the drapeau of Monsieur Jean Bull.”
“ Bien-hoist the drapeau of Monsieur Jean Bull, again. We must brazen it out, now we have put on the masque. Monsieur Lieutenant, clap on the hawser, and run the lug. ger ahead, over her anchor, and sce everything clear for spreading our pocket-handkerchiefs. No one knows when le Feu-Follet may have occasion to wipe her face. — Ah!-now, Etooell, we can make out his broadside fairly, he is heading more to the westward.”
The two seamen levelled their glasses, and renewed their examinations. Ithuel had a peculiarity that not only characterized the man, but, which is so common among Americans of his class, as, in a sense, to be national. On ordinary occasions he was talkative, and disposed to gossip; but, whenever action and decision became necessary, he was thoughtful, silent, and, though in a way of his own, even dignified. This last fit was on him, and he waited for Raoul to lead the conversation. The other, however, was disposed to be as reserved as himself, for he quitted the knight-head, and took refuge from the splashing of the water, used in washing the decks, in his own cabin.
Two hours, though they brought the sun, with the activity and hum of the morning, had made no great change in the relative positions of things within and without the bay. The people of le Feu-Follet had breakfasted, had got everything on board their little craft in its proper place, and were moody, observant and silent. One of the lessons that Ithuel had succeeded in teaching his shipmates, was to impress on them he necessity of commanding their voluble propensities, if they would wish to pass for Englishmen. It is certain, more words would have been uttered, in this little lugger, in one hour, had her crew been indulged to ine top of their bent, than would have been uttered in an English first-rate, in two ; but the danger of using their own language, and the English peculiarity of grumness, had been so thoroughly taught them, that her people rather caricatured, than other. wise, ce grand talent pour le silence, that was thought to distinguish their enem.es. Ithuel, who had a waggery of his