“By this hand, thou think’st me as far in the devil’s book as thou and Falstaff, for obduracy and persistency. Let the end try the man. . . . Albeit I could tell to thee, (as to one it pleases me, for fault of a better, to call my friend,) I could be sad, and sad indeed too.”
Henry IV., Part 2d.
We must now change the scene from Zetland to Orkney, and request our readers to accompany us to the ruins of an elegant, though ancient structure, called the Earl’s Palace. These remains, though much dilapidated, still exist in the neighbourhood of the massive and venerable pile, which Norwegian devotion dedicated to Saint Magnus the Martyr, and, being contiguous to the Bishop’s Palace, which is also ruinous, the place is impressive, as exhibiting vestiges of the mutations both in Church and State which have affected Orkney, as well as countries more exposed to such convulsions. Several parts of these ruinous buildings might be selected (under suitable modifications) as the model of a Gothic mansion, provided architects would be contented rather to imitate what is really beautiful in that species of building, than to make a medley of the caprices of the order, confounding the military, ecclesiastical, and domestic styles of all ages at random, with additional fantasies and combinations of their own device, “all formed out of the builder’s brain.”
The Earl’s Palace forms three sides of an oblong square, and has, even in its ruins, the air of an elegant yet massive structure, uniting, as was usual in the residence of feudal princes, the character of a palace and of a castle. A great banqueting-hall, communicating with several large rounds, or projecting turret-rooms, and having at either end an immense chimney, testifies the ancient Northern hospitality of the Earls of Orkney, and communicates, almost in the modern fashion, with a gallery, or withdrawing-room, of corresponding dimensions, and having, like the hall, its projecting turrets. The lordly hall itself is lighted by a fine Gothic window of shafted stone at one end, and is entered by a spacious and elegant staircase, consisting of three flights of stone steps. The exterior ornaments and proportions of the ancient building are also very handsome; but, being totally unprotected, this remnant of the pomp and grandeur of Earls, who assumed the license as well as the dignity of petty sovereigns, is now fast crumbling to decay, and has suffered considerably since the date of our story.
With folded arms and downcast looks the pirate Cleveland was pacing slowly the ruined hall which we have just described; a place of retirement which he had probably chosen because it was distant from public resort. His dress was considerably altered from that which he usually wore in Zetland, and seemed a sort of uniform, richly laced, and exhibiting no small quantity of embroidery: a hat with a plume, and a small sword very handsomely mounted, then the constant companion of every one who assumed the rank of a gentleman, showed his pretensions to that character. But if his exterior was so far improved, it seemed to be otherwise with his health and spirits. He was pale, and had lost both the fire of his eye and the vivacity of his step, and his whole appearance indicated melancholy of mind, or suffering of body, or a combination of both evils.
As Cleveland thus paced these ancient ruins, a young man, of a light and slender form, whose showy dress seemed to have been studied with care, yet exhibited more extravagance than judgment or taste, whose manner was a janty affectation of the free and easy rake of the period, and the expression of whose countenance was lively, with a cast of effrontery, tripped up the staircase, entered the hall, and presented himself to Cleveland, who merely nodded to him, and pulling his hat deeper over his brows, resumed his solitary and discontented promenade.
The stranger adjusted his own hat, nodded in return, took snuff, with the air of a petit maitre, from a richly chased gold box, offered it to Cleveland as he passed, and being repulsed rather coldly, replaced the box in his pocket, folded his arms in his turn, and stood looking with fixed attention on his motions whose solitude he had interrupted. At length Cleveland stopped short, as if impatient of being longer the subject of his observation, and said abruptly, “Why can I not be left alone for half an hour, and what the devil is it that you want?”
“I am glad you spoke first,” answered the stranger, carelessly; “I was determined to know whether you were Clement Cleveland, or Cleveland’s ghost, and they say ghosts never take the first word, so I now set it down for yourself in life and limb; and here is a fine old hurly-house you have found out for an owl to hide himself in at mid-day, or a ghost to revisit the pale glimpses of the moon, as the divine Shakspeare says.”
“Well, well,” answered Cleveland, abruptly, “your jest is made, and now let us have your earnest.”
“In earnest, then, Captain Cleveland,” replied his companion, “I think you know me for your friend.”
“I am content to suppose so,” said Cleveland.
“It is more than supposition,” replied the young man; “I have proved it — proved it both here and elsewhere.”
“Well, well,” answered Cleveland, “I admit you have been always a friendly fellow — and what then?”
“Well, well — and what then?” replied the other; “this is but a brief way of thanking folk. Look you, Captain, here is Benson, Barlowe, Dick Fletcher, and a few others of us who wished you well, have kept your old comrade Captain Goffe in these seas upon the look-out for you, when he and Hawkins, and the greater part of the ship’s company, would fain have been down on the Spanish Main, and at the old trade.”
“And I wish to God that you had all gone about your business,” said Cleveland, “and left me to my fate.”
“Which would have been to be informed against and hanged, Captain, the first time that any of these Dutch or English rascals, whom you have lightened of their cargoes, came to set their eyes upon you; and no place more likely to meet with seafaring men, than in these Islands. And here, to screen you from such a risk, we have been wasting our precious time, till folk are grown very peery; and when we have no more goods or money to spend amongst them, the fellows will be for grabbing the ship.”
“Well, then, why do you not sail off without me?” said Cleveland —“there has been fair partition, and all have had their share — let all do as they like. I have lost my ship, and having been once a Captain, I will not go to sea under command of Goffe or any other man. Besides, you know well enough that both Hawkins and he bear me ill-will for keeping them from sinking the Spanish brig, with the poor devils of negroes on board.”
“Why, what the foul fiend is the matter with thee?” said his companion; “are you Clement Cleveland, our own old true-hearted Clem of the Cleugh, and do you talk of being afraid of Hawkins and Goffe, and a score of such fellows, when you have myself, and Barlowe, and Dick Fletcher at your back? When was it we deserted you, either in council or in fight, that you should be afraid of our flinching now? And as for serving under Goffe, I hope it is no new thing for gentlemen of fortune who are going on the account, to change a Captain now and then? Let us alone for that — Captain you shall be; for death rock me asleep if I serve under that fellow Goffe, who is as very a bloodhound as ever sucked bitch! — No, no, I thank you — my Captain must have a little of the gentleman about him, howsoever. Besides, you know, it was you who first dipped my hands in the dirty water, and turned me from a stroller by land, to a rover by sea.”
“Alas, poor Bunce!” said Cleveland, “you owe me little thanks for that service.”
“That is as you take it,” replied Bunce; “for my part, I see no harm in levying contributions on the public either one way or t’other. But I wish you would forget that name of Bunce, and call me Altamont, as I have often desired you to do. I hope a gentleman of the roving trade has as good a right to have an alias as a stroller, and I never stepped on the boards but what I was Altamont at the least.”
“Well, then, Jack Altamont,” replied Cleveland, “since Altamont is the word”——
“Yes, but, Captain, Jack is not the word, though Altamont be so. Jack Altamont? — why, ’tis a velvet coat with paper lace — Let it be Frederick, Captain; Frederick Altamont is all of a piece.”
“Frederick be it, then, with all my heart,” said Cleveland; “and pray tell me, which of your names will sound best at the head of the Last Speech, Confession, and Dying Words of John Bunce, alias Frederick Altamont, who was this morning hanged at Execution-dock, for the crime of Piracy upon the High Seas?”
“Faith, I cannot answer that question, without another can of grog, Captain; so if you will go down with me to Bet Haldane’s on the quay, I will bestow some thought on the matter, with the help of a right pipe of Trinidado. We will have the gallon bowl filled with the best stuff you ever tasted, and I know some smart wenches who will help us to drain it. But you shake your head — you’re not i’ the vein? — Well, then, I will stay with you; for by this hand, Clem, you shift me not off. Only I will ferret you out of this burrow of old stones, and carry you into sunshine and fair air. — Where shall we go?”
“Where you will,” said Cleveland, “so that you keep out of the way of our own rascals, and all others.”
“Why, then,” replied Bunce, “you and I will go up to the Hill of Whitford, which overlooks the town, and walk together as gravely and honestly as a pair of well-employed attorneys.”
As they proceeded to leave the ruinous castle, Bunce, turning back to look at it, thus addressed his companion:
“Hark ye, Captain, dost thou know who last inhabited this old cockloft?”
“An Earl of the Orkneys, they say,” replied Cleveland.
“And are you avised what death he died of?” said Bunce; “for I have heard that it was of a tight neck-collar — a hempen fever, or the like.”
“The people here do say,” replied Cleveland, “that his Lordship, some hundred years ago, had the mishap to become acquainted with the nature of a loop and a leap in the air.”
“Why, la ye there now!” said Bunce; “there was some credit in being hanged in those days, and in such worshipful company. And what might his lordship have done to deserve such promotion?”
“Plundered the liege subjects, they say,” replied Cleveland; “slain and wounded them, fired upon his Majesty’s flag, and so forth.”
“Near akin to a gentleman rover, then,” said Bunce, making a theatrical bow towards the old building; “and, therefore, my most potent, grave, and reverend Signior Earl, I crave leave to call you my loving cousin, and bid you most heartily adieu. I leave you in the good company of rats and mice, and so forth, and I carry with me an honest gentleman, who, having of late had no more heart than a mouse, is now desirous to run away from his profession and friends like a rat, and would therefore be a most fitting denizen of your Earlship’s palace.”
“I would advise you not to speak so loud, my good friend Frederick Altamont, or John Bunce,” said Cleveland; “when you were on the stage, you might safely rant as loud as you listed; but, in your present profession, of which you are so fond, every man speaks under correction of the yard-arm, and a running noose.”
The comrades left the little town of Kirkwall in silence, and ascended the Hill of Whitford, which raises its brow of dark heath, uninterrupted by enclosures or cultivation of any kind, to the northward of the ancient Burgh of Saint Magnus. The plain at the foot of the hill was already occupied by numbers of persons who were engaged in making preparations for the Fair of Saint Olla, to be held upon the ensuing day, and which forms a general rendezvous to all the neighbouring islands of Orkney, and is even frequented by many persons from the more distant archipelago of Zetland. It is, in the words of the Proclamation, “a free Mercat and Fair, holden at the good Burgh of Kirkwall on the third of August, being Saint Olla’s day,” and continuing for an indefinite space thereafter, extending from three days to a week, and upwards. The fair is of great antiquity, and derives its name from Olaus, Olave, Ollaw, the celebrated Monarch of Norway, who, rather by the edge of his sword than any milder argument, introduced Christianity into those isles, and was respected as the patron of Kirkwall some time before he shared that honour with Saint Magnus the Martyr.
It was no part of Cleveland’s purpose to mingle in the busy scene which was here going on; and, turning their route to the left, they soon ascended into undisturbed solitude, save where the grouse, more plentiful in Orkney, perhaps, than in any other part of the British dominions, rose in covey, and went off before them.29 Having continued to ascend till they had wellnigh reached the summit of the conical hill, both turned round, as with one consent, to look at and admire the prospect beneath.
The lively bustle which extended between the foot of the hill and the town, gave life and variety to that part of the scene; then was seen the town itself, out of which arose, like a great mass, superior in proportion as it seemed to the whole burgh, the ancient Cathedral of Saint Magnus, of the heaviest order of Gothic architecture, but grand, solemn, and stately, the work of a distant age, and of a powerful hand. The quay, with the shipping, lent additional vivacity to the scene; and not only the whole beautiful bay, which lies betwixt the promontories of Inganess and Quanterness, at the bottom of which Kirkwall is situated, but all the sea, so far as visible, and in particular the whole strait betwixt the island of Shapinsha and that called Pomona, or the Mainland, was covered and enlivened by a variety of boats and small vessels, freighted from distant islands to convey passengers or merchandise to the Fair of Saint Olla.
Having attained the point by which this fair and busy prospect was most completely commanded, each of the strangers, in seaman fashion, had recourse to his spy-glass, to assist the naked eye in considering the bay of Kirkwall, and the numerous vessels by which it was traversed. But the attention of the two companions seemed to be arrested by different objects. That of Bunce, or Altamont, as he chose to call himself, was riveted to the armed sloop, where, conspicuous by her square rigging and length of beam, with the English jack and pennon, which they had the precaution to keep flying, she lay among the merchant vessels, as distinguished from them by the trim neatness of her appearance, as a trained soldier amongst a crowd of clowns.
“Yonder she lies,” said Bunce; “I wish to God she was in the bay of Honduras — you Captain, on the quarter-deck, I your lieutenant, and Fletcher quarter-master, and fifty stout fellows under us — I should not wish to see these blasted heaths and rocks again for a while! — And Captain you shall soon be. The old brute Goffe gets drunk as a lord every day, swaggers, and shoots, and cuts, among the crew; and, besides, he has quarrelled with the people here so damnably, that they will scarce let water or provisions go on board of us, and we expect an open breach every day.”
As Bunce received no answer, he turned short round on his companion, and, perceiving his attention otherwise engaged, exclaimed — “What the devil is the matter with you? or what can you see in all that trumpery small-craft, which is only loaded with stock-fish, and ling, and smoked geese, and tubs of butter that is worse than tallow? — the cargoes of the whole lumped together would not be worth the flash of a pistol. — No, no, give me such a chase as we might see from the mast-head off the island of Trinidado. Your Don, rolling as deep in the water as a grampus, deep-loaden with rum, sugar, and bales of tobacco, and all the rest ingots, moidores, and gold dust; then set all sail, clear the deck, stand to quarters, up with the Jolly Roger30— we near her — we make her out to be well manned and armed”——
“Twenty guns on her lower deck,” said Cleveland.
“Forty, if you will,” retorted Bunce, “and we have but ten mounted — never mind. The Don blazes away — never mind yet, my brave lads — run her alongside, and on board with you — to work, with your grenadoes, your cutlasses, pole-axes, and pistols — The Don cries Misericordia, and we share the cargo without co licencio, Seignior!”
“By my faith,” said Cleveland, “thou takest so kindly to the trade, that all the world may see that no honest man was spoiled when you were made a pirate. But you shall not prevail on me to go farther in the devil’s road with you; for you know yourself that what is got over his back is spent — you wot how. In a week, or a month at most, the rum and the sugar are out, the bales of tobacco have become smoke, the moidores, ingots, and gold dust, have got out of our hands, into those of the quiet, honest, conscientious folks, who dwell at Port Royal and elsewhere — wink hard on our trade as long as we have money, but not a jot beyond. Then we have cold looks, and it may be a hint is given to the Judge Marshal; for, when our pockets are worth nothing, our honest friends, rather than want, will make money upon our heads. Then comes a high gallows and a short halter, and so dies the Gentleman Rover. I tell thee, I will leave this trade; and, when I turn my glass from one of these barks and boats to another, there is not the worst of them which I would not row for life, rather than continue to be what I have been. These poor men make the sea a means of honest livelihood and friendly communication between shore and shore, for the mutual benefit of the inhabitants; but we have made it a road to the ruin of others, and to our own destruction here and in eternity. — I am determined to turn honest man, and use this life no longer!”
“And where will your honesty take up its abode, if it please you?” said Bunce. —“You have broken the laws of every nation, and the hand of the law will detect and crush you wherever you may take refuge. — Cleveland, I speak to you more seriously than I am wont to do. I have had my reflections, too; and they have been bad enough, though they lasted but a few minutes, to spoil me weeks of joviality. But here is the matter — what can we do but go on as we have done, unless we have a direct purpose of adorning the yard-arm?”
“We may claim the benefit of the proclamation to those of our sort who come in and surrender,” said Cleveland.
“Umph!” answered his companion, dryly; “the date of that day of grace has been for some time over, and they may take the penalty or grant the pardon at their pleasure. Were I you, I would not put my neck in such a venture.”
“Why, others have been admitted but lately to favour, and why should not I?” said Cleveland.
“Ay,” replied his associate, “Harry Glasby and some others have been spared; but Glasby did what was called good service, in betraying his comrades, and retaking the Jolly Fortune; and that I think you would scorn, even to be revenged of the brute Goffe yonder.”
“I would die a thousand times sooner,” said Cleveland.
“I will be sworn for it,” said Bunce; “and the others were forecastle fellows — petty larceny rogues, scarce worth the hemp it would have cost to hang them. But your name has stood too high amongst the gentlemen of fortune for you to get off so easily. You are the prime buck of the herd, and will be marked accordingly.”
“And why so, I pray you?” said Cleveland; “you know well enough my aim, Jack.”
“Frederick, if you please,” said Bunce.
“The devil take your folly! — Prithee keep thy wit, and let us be grave for a moment.”
“For a moment — be it so,” said Bunce; “but I feel the spirit of Altamont coming fast upon me — I have been a grave man for ten minutes already.”
“Be so then for a little longer,” said Cleveland; “I know, Jack, that you really love me; and, since we have come thus far in this talk, I will trust you entirely. Now tell me, why should I be refused the benefit of this gracious proclamation? I have borne a rough outside, as thou knowest; but, in time of need, I can show the numbers of lives which I have been the means of saving, the property which I have restored to those who owned it, when, without my intercession, it would have been wantonly destroyed. In short, Bunce, I can show”——
“That you were as gentle a thief as Robin Hood himself,” said Bunce; “and, for that reason, I, Fletcher, and the better sort among us, love you, as one who saves the character of us Gentlemen Rovers from utter reprobation. — Well, suppose your pardon made out, what are you to do next? — what class in society will receive you? — with whom will you associate? Old Drake, in Queen Bess’s time, could plunder Peru and Mexico without a line of commission to show for it, and, blessed be her memory! he was knighted for it on his return. And there was Hal Morgan, the Welshman, nearer our time, in the days of merry King Charles, brought all his gettings home, had his estate and his country-house, and who but he? But that is all ended now — once a pirate, and an outcast for ever. The poor devil may go and live, shunned and despised by every one, in some obscure seaport, with such part of his guilty earnings as courtiers and clerks leave him — for pardons do not pass the seals for nothing; — and, when he takes his walk along the pier, if a stranger asks, who is the down-looking, swarthy, melancholy man, for whom all make way, as if he brought the plague in his person, the answer shall be, that is such a one, the pardoned pirate! — No honest man will speak to him, no woman of repute will give him her hand.”
“Your picture is too highly coloured, Jack,” said Cleveland, suddenly interrupting his friend; “there are women — there is one at least, that would be true to her lover, even if he were what you have described.”
Bunce was silent for a space, and looked fixedly at his friend. “By my soul!” he said, at length, “I begin to think myself a conjurer. Unlikely as it all was, I could not help suspecting from the beginning that there was a girl in the case. Why, this is worse than Prince Volscius in love, ha! ha! ha!”
“Laugh as you will,” said Cleveland, “it is true; — there is a maiden who is contented to love me, pirate as I am; and I will fairly own to you, Jack, that, though I have often at times detested our roving life, and myself for following it, yet I doubt if I could have found resolution to make the break which I have now resolved on, but for her sake.”
“Why, then, God-a-mercy!” replied Bunce, “there is no speaking sense to a madman; and love in one of our trade, Captain, is little better than lunacy. The girl must be a rare creature, for a wise man to risk hanging for her. But, harkye, may she not be a little touched, as well as yourself? — and is it not sympathy that has done it? She cannot be one of our ordinary cockatrices, but a girl of conduct and character.”
“Both are as undoubted as that she is the most beautiful and bewitching creature whom the eye ever opened upon,” answered Cleveland.
“And she loves thee, knowing thee, most noble Captain, to be a commander among those gentlemen of fortune, whom the vulgar call pirates?”
“Even so — I am assured of it,” said Cleveland.
“Why, then,” answered Bunce, “she is either mad in good earnest, as I said before, or she does not know what a pirate is.”
“You are right in the last point,” replied Cleveland. “She has been bred in such remote simplicity, and utter ignorance of what is evil, that she compares our occupation with that of the old Norsemen, who swept sea and haven with their victorious galleys, established colonies, conquered countries, and took the name of Sea-Kings.”
“And a better one it is than that of pirate, and comes much to the same purpose, I dare say,” said Bunce. “But this must be a mettled wench! — why did you not bring her aboard? methinks it was pity to baulk her fancy.”
“And do you think,” said Cleveland, “that I could so utterly play the part of a fallen spirit as to avail myself of her enthusiastic error, and bring an angel of beauty and innocence acquainted with such a hell as exists on board of yonder infernal ship of ours? — I tell you, my friend, that, were all my former sins doubled in weight and in dye, such a villainy would have outglared and outweighed them all.”
“Why, then, Captain Cleveland,” said his confident, “methinks it was but a fool’s part to come hither at all. The news must one day have gone abroad, that the celebrated pirate Captain Cleveland, with his good sloop the Revenge, had been lost on the Mainland of Zetland, and all hands perished; so you would have remained hid both from friend and enemy, and might have married your pretty Zetlander, and converted your sash and scarf into fishing-nets, and your cutlass into a harpoon, and swept the seas for fish instead of florins.”
“And so I had determined,” said the Captain; “but a Jagger, as they call them here, like a meddling, peddling thief as he is, brought down intelligence to Zetland of your lying here, and I was fain to set off, to see if you were the consort of whom I had told them, long before I thought of leaving the roving trade.”
“Ay,” said Bunce, “and so far you judged well. For, as you had heard of our being at Kirkwall, so we should have soon learned that you were at Zetland; and some of us for friendship, some for hatred, and some for fear of your playing Harry Glasby upon us, would have come down for the purpose of getting you into our company again.”
“I suspected as much,” said the Captain, “and therefore was fain to decline the courteous offer of a friend, who proposed to bring me here about this time. Besides, Jack, I recollected, that, as you say, my pardon will not pass the seals without money, my own was waxing low — no wonder, thou knowest I was never a churl of it — And so”——
“And so you came for your share of the cobs?” replied his friend —“It was wisely done; and we shared honourably — so far Goffe has acted up to articles, it must be allowed. But keep your purpose of leaving him close in your breast, for I dread his playing you some dog’s trick or other; for he certainly thought himself sure of your share, and will hardly forgive your coming alive to disappoint him.”
“I fear him not,” said Cleveland, “and he knows that well. I would I were as well clear of the consequences of having been his comrade, as I hold myself to be of all those which may attend his ill-will. Another unhappy job I may be troubled with — I hurt a young fellow, who has been my plague for some time, in an unhappy brawl that chanced the morning I left Zetland.”
“Is he dead?” asked Bunce: “It is a more serious question here, than it would be on the Grand Caimains or the Bahama Isles, where a brace or two of fellows may be shot in a morning, and no more heard of, or asked about them, than if they were so many wood-pigeons. But here it may be otherwise; so I hope you have not made your friend immortal.”
“I hope not,” said the Captain, “though my anger has been fatal to those who have given me less provocation. To say the truth, I was sorry for the lad notwithstanding, and especially as I was forced to leave him in mad keeping.”
“In mad keeping?” said Bunce; “why, what means that?”
“You shall hear,” replied his friend. “In the first place, you are to know, this young man came suddenly on me while I was trying to gain Minna’s ear for a private interview before I set sail, that I might explain my purpose to her. Now, to be broken in on by the accursed rudeness of this young fellow at such a moment”——
“The interruption deserved death,” said Bunce, “by all the laws of love and honour!”
“A truce with your ends of plays, Jack, and listen one moment. — The brisk youth thought proper to retort, when I commanded him to be gone. I am not, thou knowest, very patient, and enforced my commands with a blow, which he returned as roundly. We struggled, till I became desirous that we should part at any rate, which I could only effect by a stroke of my poniard, which, according to old use, I have, thou knowest, always about me. I had scarce done this when I repented; but there was no time to think of any thing save escape and concealment, for, if the house rose on me, I was lost; as the fiery old man, who is head of the family, would have done justice on me had I been his brother. I took the body hastily on my shoulders to carry it down to the sea-shore, with the purpose of throwing it into a riva, as they call them, or chasm of great depth, where it would have been long enough in being discovered. This done, I intended to jump into the boat which I had lying ready, and set sail for Kirkwall. But, as I was walking hastily towards the beach with my burden, the poor young fellow groaned, and so apprized me that the wound had not been instantly fatal. I was by this time well concealed amongst the rocks, and, far from desiring to complete my crime, I laid the young man on the ground, and was doing what I could to stanch the blood, when suddenly an old woman stood before me. She was a person whom I had frequently seen while in Zetland, and to whom they ascribe the character of a sorceress, or, as the negroes say, an Obi woman. She demanded the wounded man of me, and I was too much pressed for time to hesitate in complying with her request. More she was about to say to me, when we heard the voice of a silly old man, belonging to the family, singing at some distance. She then pressed her finger on her lip as a sign of secrecy, whistled very low, and a shapeless, deformed brute of a dwarf coming to her assistance, they carried the wounded man into one of the caverns with which the place abounds, and I got to my boat and to sea with all expedition. If that old hag be, as they say, connected with the King of the Air, she favoured me that morning with a turn of her calling; for not even the West Indian tornadoes, which we have weathered together, made a wilder racket than the squall that drove me so far out of our course, that, without a pocket-compass, which I chanced to have about me, I should never have recovered the Fair Isle, for which we run, and where I found a brig which brought me to this place. But, whether the old woman meant me weal or woe, here we came at length in safety from the sea, and here I remain in doubts and difficulties of more kinds than one.”
“O, the devil take the Sumburgh-head,” said Bunce, “or whatever they call the rock that you knocked our clever little Revenge against!”
“Do not say I knocked her on the rock,” said Cleveland; “have I not told you fifty times, if the cowards had not taken to their boat, though I showed them the danger, and told them they would all be swamped, which happened the instant they cast off the painter, she would have been afloat at this moment? Had they stood by me and the ship, their lives would have been saved; had I gone with them, mine would have been lost; who can say which is for the best?”
“Well,” replied his friend, “I know your case now, and can the better help and advise. I will be true to you, Clement, as the blade to the hilt; but I cannot think that you should leave us. As the old Scottish song says, ‘Wae’s my heart that we should sunder!’— But come, you will aboard with us to-day, at any rate?”
“I have no other place of refuge,” said Cleveland, with a sigh.
He then once more ran his eyes over the bay, directing his spy-glass upon several of the vessels which traversed its surface, in hopes, doubtless, of discerning the vessel of Magnus Troil, and then followed his companion down the hill in silence.
29 It is very curious that the grouse, plenty in Orkney as the text declares, should be totally unknown in the neighbouring archipelago of Zetland, which is only about sixty miles distance, with the Fair Isle as a step between.
30 The pirates gave this name to the black flag, which, with many horrible devices to enhance its terrors, was their favourite ensign.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00