Clap on more sail, pursue, up with your fights,
Give fire — she is my prize, or ocean whelm them all!
A very handsome brig, which, with several other vessels, was the property of Magnus Troil, the great Zetland Udaller, had received on board that Magnate himself, his two lovely daughters, and the facetious Claud Halcro, who, for friendship’s sake chiefly, and the love of beauty proper to his poetical calling, attended them on their journey from Zetland to the capital of Orkney, to which Norna had referred them, as the place where her mystical oracles should at length receive a satisfactory explanation.
They passed, at a distance, the tremendous cliffs of the lonely spot of earth called the Fair Isle, which, at an equal distance from either archipelago, lies in the sea which divides Orkney from Zetland; and at length, after some baffling winds, made the Start of Sanda. Off the headland so named, they became involved in a strong current, well known, by those who frequent these seas, as the Roost of the Start, which carried them considerably out of their course, and, joined to an adverse wind, forced them to keep on the east side of the island of Stronsa, and, finally compelled them to lie by for the night in Papa Sound, since the navigation in dark or thick weather, amongst so many low islands, is neither pleasant nor safe.
On the ensuing morning they resumed their voyage under more favourable auspices; and, coasting along the island of Stronsa, whose flat, verdant, and comparatively fertile shores, formed a strong contrast to the dun hills and dark cliffs of their own islands, they doubled the cape called the Lambhead, and stood away for Kirkwall.
They had scarce opened the beautiful bay betwixt Pomona and Shapinsha, and the sisters were admiring the massive church of Saint Magnus, as it was first seen to rise from amongst the inferior buildings of Kirkwall, when the eyes of Magnus, and of Claud Halcro, were attracted by an object which they thought more interesting. This was an armed sloop, with her sails set, which had just left the anchorage in the bay, and was running before the wind by which the brig of the Udaller was beating in.
“A tight thing that, by my ancestors’ bones!” said the old Udaller; “but I cannot make out of what country, as she shows no colours. Spanish built, I should think her.”
“Ay, ay,” said Claud Halcro, “she has all the look of it. She runs before the wind that we must battle with, which is the wonted way of the world. As glorious John says —
‘With roomy deck, and guns of mighty strength
Whose low-laid mouths each mounting billow laves,
Deep in her draught, and warlike in her length,
She seems a sea-wasp flying on the waves.’”
Brenda could not help telling Halcro, when he had spouted this stanza with great enthusiasm, “that though the description was more like a first-rate than a sloop, yet the simile of the sea-wasp served but indifferently for either.”
“A sea-wasp?” said Magnus, looking with some surprise, as the sloop, shifting her course, suddenly bore down on them: “Egad, I wish she may not show us presently that she has a sting!”
What the Udaller said in jest, was fulfilled in earnest; for, without hoisting colours, or hailing, two shots were discharged from the sloop, one of which ran dipping and dancing upon the water, just ahead of the Zetlander’s bows, while the other went through his main-sail.
Magnus caught up a speaking-trumpet, and hailed the sloop, to demand what she was, and what was the meaning of this unprovoked aggression. He was only answered by the stern command — “Down top-sails instantly, and lay your main-sail to the mast — you shall see who we are presently.”
There were no means within the reach of possibility by which obedience could be evaded, where it would instantly have been enforced by a broadside; and, with much fear on the part of the sisters and Claud Halcro, mixed with anger and astonishment on that of the Udaller, the brig lay-to to await the commands of the captors.
The sloop immediately lowered a boat, with six armed hands, commanded by Jack Bunce, which rowed directly for their prize. As they approached her, Claud Halcro whispered to the Udaller — “If what we hear of buccaniers be true, these men, with their silk scarfs and vests, have the very cut of them.”
“My daughters! my daughters!” muttered Magnus to himself, with such an agony as only a father could feel — “Go down below, and hide yourselves, girls, while I”——
He threw down his speaking-trumpet, and seized on a handspike, while his daughters, more afraid of the consequences of his fiery temper to himself than of any thing else, hung round him, and begged him to make no resistance. Claud Halcro united his entreaties, adding, “It were best pacify the fellows with fair words. They might,” he said, “be Dunkirkers, or insolent man-of-war’s men on a frolic.”
“No, no,” answered Magnus, “it is the sloop which the Jagger told us of. But I will take your advice — I will have patience for these girls’ sakes; yet”——
He had no time to conclude the sentence, for Bunce jumped on board with his party, and drawing his cutlass, struck it upon the companion-ladder, and declared the ship was theirs.
“By what warrant or authority do you stop us on the high seas?” said Magnus.
“Here are half a dozen of warrants,” said Bunce, showing the pistols which were hung round him, according to a pirate-fashion already mentioned, “choose which you like, old gentleman, and you shall have the perusal of it presently.”
“That is to say, you intend to rob us?” said Magnus. —“So be it — we have no means to help it — only be civil to the women, and take what you please from the vessel. There is not much, but I will and can make it worth more, if you use us well.”
“Civil to the women!” said Fletcher, who had also come on board with the gang —“when were we else than civil to them? ay, and kind to boot? — Look here, Jack Bunce! — what a trim-going little thing here is! — By G — she shall make a cruize with us, come of old Squaretoes what will!”
He seized upon the terrified Brenda with one hand, and insolently pulled back with the other the hood of the mantle in which she had muffled herself.
“Help, father! — help, Minna!” exclaimed the affrighted girl; unconscious, at the moment, that they were unable to render her assistance.
Magnus again uplifted the handspike, but Bunce stopped his hand. —“Avast, father!” he said, “or you will make a bad voyage of it presently — And you, Fletcher, let go the girl!”
“And, d — n me! why should I let her go?” said Fletcher.
“Because I command you, Dick,” said the other, “and because I’ll make it a quarrel else. — And now let me know, beauties, is there one of you bears that queer heathen name of Minna, for which I have a certain sort of regard?”
“Gallant sir!” said Halcro, “unquestionably it is because you have some poetry in your heart.”
“I have had enough of it in my mouth in my time,” answered Bunce; “but that day is by, old gentleman — however, I shall soon find out which of these girls is Minna. — Throw back your mufflings from your faces, and don’t be afraid, my Lindamiras; no one here shall meddle with you to do you wrong. On my soul, two pretty wenches! — I wish I were at sea in an egg-shell, and a rock under my lee-bow, if I would wish a better leaguer-lass than the worst of them! — Hark you, my girls; which of you would like to swing in a rover’s hammock? — you should have gold for the gathering!”
The terrified maidens clung close together, and grew pale at the bold and familiar language of the desperate libertine.
“Nay, don’t be frightened,” said he; “no one shall serve under the noble Altamont but by her own free choice — there is no pressing amongst gentlemen of fortune. And do not look so shy upon me neither, as if I spoke of what you never thought of before. One of you, at least, has heard of Captain Cleveland, the Rover.”
Brenda grew still paler, but the blood mounted at once in Minna’s cheeks, on hearing the name of her lover thus unexpectedly introduced; for the scene was in itself so confounding, that the idea of the vessel’s being the consort of which Cleveland had spoken at Burgh-Westra, had occurred to no one save the Udaller.
“I see how it is,” said Bunce, with a familiar nod, “and I will hold my course accordingly. — You need not be afraid of any injury, father,” he added, addressing Magnus familiarly; “and though I have made many a pretty girl pay tribute in my time, yet yours shall go ashore without either wrong or ransom.”
“If you will assure me of that,” said Magnus; “you are as welcome to the brig and cargo, as ever I made man welcome to a can of punch.”
“And it is no bad thing that same can of punch,” said Bunce, “if we had any one here that could mix it well.”
“I will do it,” said Claud Halcro, “with any man that ever squeezed lemon — Eric Scambester, the punch-maker of Burgh-Westra, being alone excepted.”
“And you are within a grapnel’s length of him, too,” said the Udaller. —“Go down below, my girls,” he added, “and send up the rare old man, and the punch-bowl.”
“The punch-bowl!” said Fletcher; “I say, the bucket, d — n me! — Talk of bowls in the cabin of a paltry merchantman, but not to gentlemen-strollers — rovers, I would say,” correcting himself, as he observed that Bunce looked sour at the mistake.
“And I say, these two pretty girls shall stay on deck, and fill my can,” said Bunce; “I deserve some attendance, at least, for all my generosity.”
“And they shall fill mine, too,” said Fletcher —“they shall fill it to the brim! — and I will have a kiss for every drop they spill — broil me if I won’t!”
“Why, then, I tell you, you shan’t!” said Bunce; “for I’ll be d — d if any one shall kiss Minna but one, and that’s neither you nor I; and her other little bit of a consort shall ’scape for company; — there are plenty of willing wenches in Orkney. — And so, now I think on it, these girls shall go down below, and bolt themselves into the cabin; and we shall have the punch up here on deck, al fresco, as the old gentleman proposes.”
“Why, Jack, I wish you knew your own mind,” said Fletcher; “I have been your messmate these two years, and I love you; and yet flay me like a wild bullock, if you have not as many humours as a monkey! — And what shall we have to make a little fun of, since you have sent the girls down below?”
“Why, we will have Master Punch-maker here,” answered Bunce, “to give us toasts, and sing us songs. — And, in the meantime, you there, stand by sheets and tacks, and get her under way! — and you, steersman, as you would keep your brains in your skull, keep her under the stern of the sloop. — If you attempt to play us any trick, I will scuttle your sconce as if it were an old calabash!”
The vessel was accordingly got under way, and moved slowly on in the wake of the sloop, which, as had been previously agreed upon, held her course, not to return to the Bay of Kirkwall, but for an excellent roadstead called Inganess Bay, formed by a promontory which extends to the eastward two or three miles from the Orcadian metropolis, and where the vessels might conveniently lie at anchor, while the rovers maintained any communication with the Magistrates which the new state of things seemed to require.
Meantime Claud Halcro had exerted his utmost talents in compounding a bucketful of punch for the use of the pirates, which they drank out of large cans; the ordinary seamen, as well as Bunce and Fletcher, who acted as officers, dipping them into the bucket with very little ceremony, as they came and went upon their duty. Magnus, who was particularly apprehensive that liquor might awaken the brutal passions of these desperadoes, was yet so much astonished at the quantities which he saw them drink, without producing any visible effect upon their reason, that he could not help expressing his surprise to Bunce himself, who, wild as he was, yet appeared by far the most civil and conversable of his party, and whom he was, perhaps, desirous to conciliate, by a compliment of which all boon topers know the value.
“Bones of Saint Magnus!” said the Udaller, “I used to think I took off my can like a gentleman; but to see your men swallow, Captain, one would think their stomachs were as bottomless as the hole of Laifell in Foula, which I have sounded myself with a line of an hundred fathoms. By my soul, the Bicker of Saint Magnus were but a sip to them!”
“In our way of life, sir,” answered Bunce, “there is no stint till duty calls, or the puncheon is drunk out.”
“By my word, sir,” said Claud Halcro, “I believe there is not one of your people but could drink out the mickle bicker of Scarpa, which was always offered to the Bishop of Orkney brimful of the best bummock that ever was brewed.”38
“If drinking could make them bishops,” said Bunce, “I should have a reverend crew of them; but as they have no other clerical qualities about them, I do not propose that they shall get drunk to-day; so we will cut our drink with a song.”
“And I’ll sing it, by ——!” said or swore Dick Fletcher, and instantly struck up the old ditty —
“It was a ship, and a ship of fame,
Launch’d off the stocks, bound for the main,
With an hundred and fifty brisk young men,
All pick’d and chosen every one.”
“I would sooner be keel-hauled than hear that song over again,” said Bunce; “and confound your lantern jaws, you can squeeze nothing else out of them!”
“By — — ” said Fletcher, “I will sing my song, whether you like it or no;” and again he sung, with the doleful tone of a north-easter whistling through sheet and shrouds —
“Captain Glen was our captain’s name;
A very gallant and brisk young man;
As bold a sailor as e’er went to sea,
And we were bound for High Barbary.”
“I tell you again,” said Bunce, “we will have none of your screech-owl music here; and I’ll be d — d if you shall sit here and make that infernal noise!”
“Why, then, I’ll tell you what,” said Fletcher, getting up, “I’ll sing when I walk about, and I hope there is no harm in that, Jack Bunce.” And so, getting up from his seat, he began to walk up and down the sloop, croaking out his long and disastrous ballad.
“You see how I manage them,” said Bunce, with a smile of self-applause —“allow that fellow two strides on his own way, and you make a mutineer of him for life. But I tie him strict up, and he follows me as kindly as a fowler’s spaniel after he has got a good beating. — And now your toast and your song, sir,” addressing Halcro; “or rather your song without your toast. I have got a toast for myself. Here is success to all roving blades, and confusion to all honest men!”
“I should be sorry to drink that toast, if I could help it,” said Magnus Troil.
“What! you reckon yourself one of the honest folks, I warrant?” said Bunce. —“Tell me your trade, and I’ll tell you what I think of it. As for the punch-maker here, I knew him at first glance to be a tailor, who has, therefore, no more pretensions to be honest, than he has not to be mangy. But you are some High-Dutch skipper, I warrant me, that tramples on the cross when he is in Japan, and denies his religion for a day’s gain.”
“No,” replied the Udaller, “I am a gentleman of Zetland.”
“O, what!” retorted the satirical Mr. Bunce, “you are come from the happy climate where gin is a groat a-bottle, and where there is daylight for ever?”
“At your service, Captain,” said the Udaller, suppressing with much pain some disposition to resent these jests on his country, although under every risk, and at all disadvantage.
“At my service!” said Bunce —“Ay, if there was a rope stretched from the wreck to the beach, you would be at my service to cut the hawser, make floatsome and jetsome of ship and cargo, and well if you did not give me a rap on the head with the back of the cutty-axe; and you call yourself honest? But never mind — here goes the aforesaid toast — and do you sing me a song, Mr. Fashioner; and look it be as good as your punch.”
Halcro, internally praying for the powers of a new Timotheus, to turn his strain and check his auditor’s pride, as glorious John had it, began a heart-soothing ditty with the following lines:—
“Maidens fresh as fairest rose,
Listen to this lay of mine.”
“I will hear nothing of maidens or roses,” said Bunce; “it puts me in mind what sort of a cargo we have got on board; and, by — — I will be true to my messmate and my captain as long as I can! — And now I think on’t, I’ll have no more punch either — that last cup made innovation, and I am not to play Cassio to-night — and if I drink not, nobody else shall.”
So saying, he manfully kicked over the bucket, which, notwithstanding the repeated applications made to it, was still half full, got up from his seat, shook himself a little to rights, as he expressed it, cocked his hat, and, walking the quarter-deck with an air of dignity, gave, by word and signal, the orders for bringing the ships to anchor, which were readily obeyed by both, Goffe being then, in all probability, past any rational state of interference.
The Udaller, in the meantime, condoled with Halcro on their situation. “It is bad enough,” said the tough old Norseman; “for these are rank rogues — and yet, were it not for the girls, I should not fear them. That young vapouring fellow, who seems to command, is not such a born devil as he might have been.”
“He has queer humours, though,” said Halcro; “and I wish we were loose from him. To kick down a bucket half full of the best punch ever was made, and to cut me short in the sweetest song I ever wrote — I promise you, I do not know what he may do next — it is next door to madness.”
Meanwhile, the ships being brought to anchor, the valiant Lieutenant Bunce called upon Fletcher, and, resuming his seat by his unwilling passengers, he told them they should see what message he was about to send to the wittols of Kirkwall, as they were something concerned in it. “It shall run in Dick’s name,” he said, “as well as in mine. I love to give the poor young fellow a little countenance now and then — don’t I, Dick, you d — d stupid ass?”
“Why, yes, Jack Bunce,” said Dick, “I can’t say but as you do — only you are always bullocking one about something or other, too — but, howsomdever, d’ye see”——
“Enough said — belay your jaw, Dick,” said Bunce, and proceeded to write his epistle, which, being read aloud, proved to be of the following tenor:
“For the Mayor and Aldermen of Kirkwall — Gentlemen, As, contrary to your good faith given, you have not sent us on board a hostage for the safety of our Captain, remaining on shore at your request, these come to tell you, we are not thus to be trifled with. We have already in our possession, a brig, with a family of distinction, its owners and passengers; and as you deal with our Captain, so will we deal with them in every respect. And as this is the first, so assure yourselves it shall not be the last damage which we will do to your town and trade, if you do not send on board our Captain, and supply us with stores according to treaty.
“Given on board the brig Mergoose of Burgh-Westra, lying in Inganess Bay. Witness our hands, commanders of the Fortune’s Favourite, and gentlemen adventurers.”
He then subscribed himself Frederick Altamont, and handed the letter to Fletcher, who read the said subscription with much difficulty; and, admiring the sound of it very much, swore he would have a new name himself, and the rather that Fletcher was the most crabbed word to spell and conster, he believed, in the whole dictionary. He subscribed himself accordingly, Timothy Tugmutton.
“Will you not add a few lines to the coxcombs?” said Bunce, addressing Magnus.
“Not I,” returned the Udaller, stubborn in his ideas of right and wrong, even in so formidable an emergency. “The Magistrates of Kirkwall know their duty, and were I they”—— But here the recollection that his daughters were at the mercy of these ruffians, blanked the bold visage of Magnus Troil, and checked the defiance which was just about to issue from his lips.
“D— n me,” said Bunce, who easily conjectured what was passing in the mind of his prisoner —“that pause would have told well on the stage — it would have brought down pit, box, and gallery, egad, as Bayes has it.”
“I will hear nothing of Bayes,” said Claud Halcro, (himself a little elevated,) “it is an impudent satire on glorious John; but he tickled Buckingham off for it —
‘In the first rank of these did Zimri stand;
A man so various’”——
“Hold your peace!” said Bunce, drowning the voice of the admirer of Dryden in louder and more vehement asseveration, “the Rehearsal is the best farce ever was written — and I’ll make him kiss the gunner’s daughter that denies it. D— n me, I was the best Prince Prettyman ever walked the boards —
‘Sometimes a fisher’s son, sometimes a prince.’
But let us to business. — Hark ye, old gentleman,” (to Magnus,) “you have a sort of sulkiness about you, for which some of my profession would cut your ears out of your head, and broil them for your dinner with red pepper. I have known Goffe do so to a poor devil, for looking sour and dangerous when he saw his sloop go to Davy Jones’s locker with his only son on board. But I’m a spirit of another sort; and if you or the ladies are ill used, it shall be the Kirkwall people’s fault, and not mine, and that’s fair; and so you had better let them know your condition, and your circumstances, and so forth — and that’s fair, too.”
Magnus, thus exhorted, took up the pen, and attempted to write; but his high spirit so struggled with his paternal anxiety, that his hand refused its office. “I cannot help it,” he said, after one or two illegible attempts to write —“I cannot form a letter, if all our lives depended upon it.”
And he could not, with his utmost efforts, so suppress the convulsive emotions which he experienced, but that they agitated his whole frame. The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so, in great calamities, it sometimes happens, that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character. In the present case, Claud Halcro was fortunately able to perform the task which the deeper feelings of his friend and patron refused. He took the pen, and, in as few words as possible, explained the situation in which they were placed, and the cruel risks to which they were exposed, insinuating at the same time, as delicately as he could express it, that, to the magistrates of the country, the life and honour of its citizens should be a dearer object than even the apprehension or punishment of the guilty; taking care, however, to qualify the last expression as much as possible, for fear of giving umbrage to the pirates.
Bunce read over the letter, which fortunately met his approbation; and, on seeing the name of Claud Halcro at the bottom, he exclaimed, in great surprise, and with more energetic expressions of asseveration than we choose to record —“Why, you are the little fellow that played the fiddle to old Manager Gadabout’s company, at Hogs Norton, the first season I came out there! I thought I knew your catchword of glorious John.”
At another time this recognition might not have been very grateful to Halcro’s minstrel pride; but, as matters stood with him, the discovery of a golden mine could not have made him more happy. He instantly remembered the very hopeful young performer who came out in Don Sebastian, and judiciously added, that the muse of glorious John had never received such excellent support during the time that he was first (he might have added, and only) violin to Mr. Gadabout’s company.
“Why, yes,” said Bunce, “I believe you are right — I think I might have shaken the scene as well as Booth or Betterton either. But I was destined to figure on other boards,” (striking his foot upon the deck,) “and I believe I must stick by them, till I find no board at all to support me. But now, old acquaintance, I will do something for you — slue yourself this way a bit — I would have you solus.” They leaned over the taffrail, while Bunce whispered with more seriousness than he usually showed, “I am sorry for this honest old heart of Norway pine — blight me if I am not — and for the daughters too — besides, I have my own reasons for befriending one of them. I can be a wild fellow with a willing lass of the game; but to such decent and innocent creatures — d — n me, I am Scipio at Numantia, and Alexander in the tent of Darius. You remember how I touch off Alexander?” (here he started into heroics.)
“‘Thus from the grave I rise to save my love;
All draw your swords, with wings of lightning move.
When I rush on, sure none will dare to stay —
’Tis beauty calls, and glory shows the way.’”
Claud Halcro failed not to bestow the necessary commendations on his declamation, declaring, that, in his opinion as an honest man, he had always thought Mr. Altamont’s giving that speech far superior in tone and energy to Betterton.
Bunce, or Altamont, wrung his hand tenderly. “Ah, you flatter me, my dear friend,” he said; “yet, why had not the public some of your judgment! — I should not then have been at this pass. Heaven knows, my dear Mr. Halcro — Heaven knows with what pleasure I could keep you on board with me, just that I might have one friend who loves as much to hear, as I do to recite, the choicest pieces of our finest dramatic authors. The most of us are beasts — and, for the Kirkwall hostage yonder, he uses me, egad, as I use Fletcher, I think, and huffs me the more, the more I do for him. But how delightful it would be in a tropic night, when the ship was hanging on the breeze, with a broad and steady sail, for me to rehearse Alexander, with you for my pit, box, and gallery! Nay, (for you are a follower of the muses, as I remember,) who knows but you and I might be the means of inspiring, like Orpheus and Eurydice, a pure taste into our companions, and softening their manners, while we excited their better feelings?”
This was spoken with so much unction, that Claud Halcro began to be afraid he had both made the actual punch over potent, and mixed too many bewitching ingredients in the cup of flattery which he had administered; and that, under the influence of both potions, the sentimental pirate might detain him by force, merely to realize the scenes which his imagination presented. The conjuncture was, however, too delicate to admit of any active effort, on Halcro’s part, to redeem his blunder, and therefore he only returned the tender pressure of his friend’s hand, and uttered the interjection “alas!” in as pathetic a tone as he could.
Bunce immediately resumed: “You are right, my friend, these are but vain visions of felicity, and it remains but for the unhappy Altamont to serve the friend to whom he is now to bid farewell. I have determined to put you and the two girls ashore, with Fletcher for your protection; and so call up the young women, and let them begone before the devil get aboard of me, or of some one else. You will carry my letter to the magistrates, and second it with your own eloquence, and assure them, that if they hurt but one hair of Cleveland’s head, there will be the devil to pay, and no pitch hot.”
Relieved at heart by this unexpected termination of Bunce’s harangue, Halcro descended the companion ladder two steps at a time, and knocking at the cabin door, could scarce find intelligible language enough to say his errand. The sisters hearing, with unexpected joy, that they were to be set ashore, muffled themselves in their cloaks, and, when they learned that the boat was hoisted out, came hastily on deck, where they were apprized, for the first time, to their great horror, that their father was still to remain on board of the pirate.
“We will remain with him at every risk,” said Minna —“we may be of some assistance to him, were it but for an instant — we will live and die with him!”
“We shall aid him more surely,” said Brenda, who comprehended the nature of their situation better than Minna, “by interesting the people of Kirkwall to grant these gentlemen’s demands.”
“Spoken like an angel of sense and beauty,” said Bunce; “and now away with you; for, d — n me, if this is not like having a lighted linstock in the powder-room — if you speak another word more, confound me if I know how I shall bring myself to part with you!”
“Go, in God’s name, my daughters,” said Magnus. “I am in God’s hand; and when you are gone I shall care little for myself — and I shall think and say, as long as I live, that this good gentleman deserves a better trade. — Go — go — away with you!”— for they yet lingered in reluctance to leave him.
“Stay not to kiss,” said Bunce, “for fear I be tempted to ask my share. Into the boat with you — yet stop an instant.” He drew the three captives apart —“Fletcher,” said he, “will answer for the rest of the fellows, and will see you safe off the sea-beach. But how to answer for Fletcher, I know not, except by trusting Mr. Halcro with this little guarantee.”
Minna taking the Pistol
He offered the minstrel a small double-barrelled pistol, which, he said, was loaded with a brace of balls. Minna observed Halcro’s hand tremble as he stretched it out to take the weapon. “Give it to me, sir,” she said, taking it from the outlaw; “and trust to me for defending my sister and myself.”
“Bravo, bravo!” shouted Bunce. “There spoke a wench worthy of Cleveland, the King of Rovers!”
“Cleveland!” repeated Minna, “do you then know that Cleveland, whom you have twice named?”
“Know him! Is there a man alive,” said Bunce, “that knows better than I do the best and stoutest fellow ever stepped betwixt stem and stern? When he is out of the bilboes, as please Heaven he shall soon be, I reckon to see you come on board of us, and reign the queen of every sea we sail over. — You have got the little guardian; I suppose you know how to use it? If Fletcher behaves ill to you, you need only draw up this piece of iron with your thumb, so — and if he persists, it is but crooking your pretty forefinger thus, and I shall lose the most dutiful messmate that ever man had — though, d — n the dog, he will deserve his death if he disobeys my orders. And now, into the boat — but stay, one kiss for Cleveland’s sake.”
Brenda, in deadly terror, endured his courtesy, but Minna, stepping back with disdain, offered her hand. Bunce laughed, but kissed, with a theatrical air, the fair hand which she extended as a ransom for her lips, and at length the sisters and Halcro were placed in the boat, which rowed off under Fletcher’s command.
Bunce stood on the quarter-deck, soliloquizing after the manner of his original profession. “Were this told at Port-Royal now, or at the isle of Providence, or in the Petits Guaves, I wonder what they would say of me! Why, that I was a good-natured milksop — a Jack-a-lent — an ass. — Well, let them. I have done enough of bad to think about it; it is worth while doing one good action, if it were but for the rarity of the thing, and to put one in good humour with oneself.” Then turning to Magnus Troil, he proceeded —“By —— these are bona-robas, these daughters of yours! The eldest would make her fortune on the London boards. What a dashing attitude the wench had with her, as she seized the pistol! — d — n me, that touch would have brought the house down! What a Roxalana the jade would have made!” (for, in his oratory, Bunce, like Sancho’s gossip, Thomas Cecial, was apt to use the most energetic word which came to hand, without accurately considering its propriety.) “I would give my share of the next prize but to hear her spout —
‘Away, begone, and give a whirlwind room,
Or I will blow you up like dust. — Avaunt!
Madness but meanly represents my rage.’
And then, again, that little, soft, shy, tearful trembler, for Statira, to hear her recite —
‘He speaks the kindest words, and looks such things,
Vows with such passion, swears with so much grace,
That ’tis a kind of heaven to be deluded by him.’
What a play we might have run up! — I was a beast not to think of it before I sent them off — I to be Alexander — Claud Halcro, Lysimachus — this old gentleman might have made a Clytus, for a pinch. I was an idiot not to think of it!”
There was much in this effusion which might have displeased the Udaller; but, to speak truth, he paid no attention to it. His eye, and, finally, his spy-glass, were employed in watching the return of his daughters to the shore. He saw them land on the beach, and, accompanied by Halcro, and another man, (Fletcher, doubtless,) he saw them ascend the acclivity, and proceed upon the road to Kirkwall; and he could even distinguish that Minna, as if considering herself as the guardian of the party, walked a little aloof from the rest, on the watch, as it seemed, against surprise, and ready to act as occasion should require. At length, as the Udaller was just about to lose sight of them, he had the exquisite satisfaction to see the party halt, and the pirate leave them, after a space just long enough for a civil farewell, and proceed slowly back, on his return to the beach. Blessing the Great Being who had thus relieved him from the most agonizing fears which a father can feel, the worthy Udaller, from that instant, stood resigned to his own fate, whatever that might be.
38 Liquor brewed for a Christmas treat.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00