A Modern Telemachus
Charlotte M. Yonge
Part 1 out of 4
A MODERN TELEMACHUS
The idea of this tale was taken from The Mariners' Chronicle, compiled
by a person named Scott early in the last century--a curious book of
narratives of maritime adventures, with exceedingly quaint
illustrations. Nothing has ever shown me more plainly that truth is
stranger than fiction, for all that is most improbable here is the
The Comte de Bourke was really an Irish Jacobite, naturalised in
France, and married to the daughter of the Marquis de Varennes, as well
as in high favour with the Marshal Duke of Berwick.
In 1719, just when the ambition of Elizabeth Farnese, the second wife
of Philip V. of Spain, had involved that country in a war with England,
France, and Austria, the Count was transferred from the Spanish Embassy
to that of Sweden, and sent for his wife and two elder children to join
him at a Spanish port.
This arrangement was so strange that I can only account for it by
supposing that as this was the date of a feeble Spanish attempt on
behalf of the Jacobites in Scotland, Comte de Bourke may not have
ventured by the direct route. Or it may not have been etiquette for
him to re-enter France when appointed ambassador. At any rate, the
poor Countess did take this route to the South, and I am inclined to
think the narrative must be correct, as all the side-lights I have been
able to gain perfectly agree with it, often in an unexpected manner.
The suite and the baggage were just as related in the story--the only
liberty I have taken being the bestowal of names. 'M. Arture' was
really of the party, but I have made him Scotch instead of Irish, and I
have no knowledge that the lackey was not French. The imbecility of
the Abbe is merely a deduction from his helplessness, but of course
this may have been caused by illness.
The meeting with M. de Varennes at Avignon, Berwick's offer of an
escort, and the Countess's dread of the Pyrenees, are all facts, as
well as her embarkation in the Genoese tartane bound for Barcelona, and
its capture by the Algerine corsair commanded by a Dutch renegade, who
treated her well, and to whom she gave her watch.
Algerine history confirms what is said of his treatment. Louis XIV.
had bombarded the pirate city, and compelled the Dey to receive a
consul and to liberate French prisoners and French property; but the
lady having been taken in an Italian ship, the Dutchman was afraid to
set her ashore without first taking her to Algiers, lest he should fall
under suspicion. He would not venture on taking so many women on board
his own vessel, being evidently afraid of his crew of more than two
hundred Turks and Moors, but sent seven men on board the prize and took
it in tow.
Curiously enough, history mentions the very tempest which drove the
tartane apart from her captor, for it also shattered the French
transports and interfered with Berwick's Spanish campaign.
The circumstances of the wreck have been closely followed. 'M. Arture'
actually saved Mademoiselle de Bourke, and placed her in the arms of
the maitre d'hotel, who had reached a rock, together with the Abbe, the
lackey, and one out of the four maids. The other three were all in the
cabin with their mistress and her son, and shared their fate.
The real 'Arture' tried to swim to the shore, but never was seen again,
so that his adventures with the little boy are wholly imaginary. But
the little girl's conduct is perfectly true. When in the steward's
arms she declared that the savages might take her life, but never
should make her deny her faith.
The account of these captors was a great difficulty, till in the old
Universal History I found a description of Algeria which tallied
wonderfully with the narrative. It was taken from a survey of the
coast made a few years later by English officials.
The tribe inhabiting Mounts Araz and Couco, and bordering on Djigheli
Bay, were really wild Arabs, claiming high descent, but very loose
Mohammedans, and savage in their habits. Their name of Cabeleyzes is
said--with what truth I know not--to mean 'revolted,' and they held
themselves independent of the Dey. They were in the habit of murdering
or enslaving all shipwrecked travellers, except subjects of Algiers,
whom they released with nothing but their lives.
All this perfectly explains the sufferings of Mademoiselle de Bourke.
The history of the plundering, the threats, the savage treatment of the
corpses, the wild dogs, the councils of the tribe, the separation of
the captives, and the child's heroism, is all literally true--the
expedient of Victorine's defence alone being an invention. It is also
true that the little girl and the maitre d'hotel wrote four letters,
and sent them by different chances to Algiers, but only the last ever
arrived, and it created a great sensation.
M. Dessault is a real personage, and the kindness of the Dey and of the
Moors was exactly as related, also the expedient of sending the
Marabout of Bugia to negotiate.
Mr. Thomas Thompson was really the English Consul at the time, but his
share in the matter is imaginary, as it depends on Arthur's adventures.
The account of the Marabout system comes from the Universal History;
but the arrival, the negotiations, and the desire of the sheyk to
detain the young French lady for a wife to his son, are from the
narrative. He really did claim to be an equal match for her, were she
daughter of the King of France, since he was King of the Mountains.
The welcome at Algiers and the Te Deum in the Consul's chapel also are
related in the book that serves me for authority. It adds that
Mademoiselle de Bourke finally married a Marquis de B--, and lived much
respected in Provence, dying shortly before the Revolution.
I will only mention further that a rescued Abyssinian slave named
Fareek (happily not tongueless) was well known to me many years ago in
the household of the late Warden Barter of Winchester College.
Since writing the above I have by the kindness of friends been enabled
to discover Mr. Scott's authority, namely, a book entitled Voyage pour
la Redemption des captifs aux Royaumes d'Alger et de Tunis, fait en
1720 par les P.P. Francois Comelin, Philemon de la Motte, et Joseph
Bernard, de l'Ordre de la Sainte Trinite, dit Mathurine. This Order
was established by Jean Matha for the ransom and rescue of prisoners in
the hands of the Moors. A translation of the adventures of the
Comtesse de Bourke and her daughter was published in the Catholic
World, New York, July 1881. It exactly agrees with the narration in
The Mariners' Chronicle except that, in the true spirit of the
eighteenth century, Mr. Scott thought fit to suppress that these
ecclesiastics were at Algiers at the time of the arrival of
Mademoiselle de Bourke's letter, that they interested themselves
actively on her behalf, and that they wrote the narrative from the lips
of the maitre d'hotel (who indeed may clearly be traced throughout).
It seems also that the gold cups were chalices, and that a complete set
of altar equipments fell a prey to the Cabeleyzes, whose name the good
fathers endeavour to connect with Cabale--with about as much reason as
if we endeavoured to derive that word from the ministry of Charles II.
Had I known in time of the assistance of these benevolent brethren I
would certainly have introduced them with all due honour, but, like the
Abbe Vertot, I have to say, Mon histoire est ecrite, and what is worse-
-printed. Moreover, they do not seem to have gone on the mission with
the Marabout from Bugia, so that their presence really only accounts
for the Te Deum with which the redeemed captives were welcomed.
It does not seem quite certain whether M. Dessault was Consul or Envoy;
I incline to think the latter. The translation in the Catholic World
speaks of Sir Arthur, but Mr. Scott's 'M. Arture' is much more
vraisemblable. He probably had either a surname to be concealed or
else unpronounceable to French lips. Scott must have had some further
information of the after history of Mademoiselle de Bourke since he
mentions her marriage, which could hardly have taken place when Pere
Comelin's book was published in 1720.
C. M. YONGE.
CHAPTER I--COMPANIONS OF THE VOYAGE
'Make mention thereto
Touching my much loved father's safe return,
If of his whereabouts I may best hear.'
'Oh! brother, I wish they had named you Telemaque, and then it would
have been all right!'
'Why so, sister? Why should I be called by so ugly a name? I like
Ulysses much better; and it is also the name of my papa.'
'That is the very thing. His name is Ulysses, and we are going to seek
'Oh! I hope that cruel old Mentor is not coming to tumble us down over
a great rook, like Telemaque in the picture.'
'You mean Pere le Brun?'
'Yes; you know he always says he is our Mentor. And I wish he would
change into a goddess with a helmet and a shield, with an ugly face,
and go off in a cloud. Do you think he will, Estelle?'
'Do not be so silly, Ulick; there are no goddesses now.'
'I heard M. de la Mede tell that pretty lady with the diamond butterfly
that she was his goddess; so there are!'
'You do not understand, brother. That was only flattery and
compliment. Goddesses were only in the Greek mythology, and were all
over long ago!'
'But are we really going to see our papa?'
'Oh yes, mamma told me so. He is made Ambassador to Sweden, you know.'
'Is that greater than Envoy to Spain?'
'Very, very much greater. They call mamma Madame l'Ambassadrice; and
she is having three complete new dresses made. See, there are la bonne
and Laurent talking. It is English, and if we go near with our cups
and balls we shall hear all about it. Laurent always knows, because my
uncle tells him.'
'You must call him La Juenesse now he is made mamma's lackey. Is he
not beautiful in his new livery?'
'Be still now, brother; I want to hear what they are saying.'
This may sound somewhat sly, but French children, before Rousseau had
made them the fashion, were kept in the background, and were reduced to
picking up intelligence as best they could without any sense of its
being dishonourable to do so; and, indeed, it was more neglect than
desire of concealment that left their uninformed.
This was in 1719, four years after the accession of Louis XV., a puny
infant, to the French throne, and in the midst of the Regency of the
Duke of Orleans. The scene was a broad walk in the Tuileries gardens,
beneath a closely-clipped wall of greenery, along which were disposed
alternately busts upon pedestals, and stone vases of flowers, while
beyond lay formal beds of flowers, the gravel walks between radiating
from a fountain, at present quiescent, for it was only ten o'clock in
the forenoon, and the gardens were chiefly frequented at that hour by
children and their attendants, who, like Estelle and Ulysse de Bourke,
were taking an early walk on their way home from mass.
They were a miniature lady and gentleman of the period in costume, with
the single exception that, in consideration of their being only nine
and seven years old, their hair was free from powder. Estelle's light,
almost flaxen locks were brushed back from her forehead, and tied
behind with a rose-coloured ribbon, but uncovered, except by a tiny
lace cap on the crown of her head; Ulick's darker hair was carefully
arranged in great curls on his back and shoulders, as like a full-
bottomed wig as nature would permit, and over it he wore a little
cocked hat edged with gold lace. He had a rich laced cravat, a double-
breasted waistcoat of pale blue satin, and breeches to match, a brown
velvet coat with blue embroidery on the pockets, collar, and skirts,
silk stockings to match, as well as the knot of the tiny scabbard of
the semblance of a sword at his side, shoes with silver buckles, and
altogether he might have been a full-grown Comte or Vicomte seen
through a diminishing glass. His sister was in a full-hooped dress,
with tight long waist, and sleeves reaching to her elbows, the under
skirt a pale pink, the upper a deeper rose colour; but stiff as was the
attire, she had managed to give it a slight general air of
disarrangement, to get her cap a little on one side, a stray curl loose
on her forehead, to tear a bit of the dangling lace on her arms, and to
splash her robe with a puddle. He was in air, feature, and complexion
a perfect little dark Frenchman. The contour of her face, still more
its rosy glow, were more in accordance with her surname, and so
especially were the large deep blue eyes with the long dark lashes and
pencilled brows. And there was a lively restless air about her full of
intelligence, as she manoeuvred her brother towards a stone seat,
guarded by a couple of cupids reining in sleepy-looking lions in stone,
where, under the shade of a lime-tree, her little petticoated brother
of two years old was asleep, cradled in the lap of a large, portly,
handsome woman, in a dark dress, a white cap and apron, and dark
crimson cloak, loosely put back, as it was an August day. Native
costumes were then, as now, always worn by French nurses; but this was
not the garb of any province of the kingdom, and was as Irish as the
brogue in which she was conversing with the tall fine young man who
stood at ease beside her. He was in a magnificent green and gold
livery suit, his hair powdered, and fastened in a queue, the whiteness
contrasting with the dark brows, and the eyes and complexion of that
fine Irish type that it is the fashion to call Milesian. He looked
proud of his dress, which was viewed in those days as eminently
becoming, and did in fact display his well-made figure and limbs to
great advantage; but he looked anxiously about, and his first inquiry
on coming on the scene in attendance upon the little boy had been -
'The top of the morning to ye, mother! And where is Victorine?'
'Arrah, and what would ye want with Victorine?' demanded the bonne.
'Is not the old mother enough for one while, to feast her eyes on her
an' Lanty Callaghan, now he has shed the marmiton's slough, and come
out in old Ireland's colours, like a butterfly from a palmer? La
Jeunesse, instead of Laurent here, and Laurent there.'
La Pierre and La Jeunesse were the stereotyped names of all pairs of
lackeys in French noble houses, and the title was a mark of promotion;
but Lanty winced and said, 'Have done with that, mother. You know that
never the pot nor the kettle has blacked my fingers since Master Phelim
went to the good fathers' school with me to carry his books and insinse
him with the larning. 'Tis all one, as his own body-servant that I
have been, as was fitting for his own foster-brother, till now, when
not one of the servants, barring myself and Maitre Hebert, the steward,
will follow Madame la Comtesse beyond the four walls of Paris. "Will
you desert us too, Laurent?" says the lady. "And is it me you mane,
Madame," says I, "Sorrah a Callaghan ever deserted a Burke!" "Then,"
says she, "if you will go with us to Sweden, you shall have two
lackey's suits, and a couple of louis d'or to cross your pocket with by
the year, forbye the fee and bounty of all the visitors to M. le
Comte." "Is it M. l'Abbe goes with Madame?" says I. "And why not,"
says she. "Then," says I, "'tis myself that is mightily obliged to
your ladyship, and am ready to put on her colours and do all in reason
in her service, so as I am free to attend to Master Phelim, that is M.
l'Abbe, whenever he needs me, that am in duty bound as his own foster-
brother." "Ah, Laurent," says she, "'tis you that are the faithful
domestic. We shall all stand in need of such good offices as we can do
to one another, for we shall have a long and troublesome, if not
dangerous journey, both before and after we have met M. le Comte."'
Estelle here nodded her head with a certain satisfaction, while the
nurse replied -
'And what other answer could the son of your father make--Heavens be
his bed--that was shot through the head by the masther's side in the
weary wars in Spain? and whom could ye be bound to serve barring Master
Phelim, that's lain in the same cradle with yees--'
'Is not Victorine here, mother?' still restlessly demanded Lanty.
'Never you heed Victorine,' replied she. 'Sure she may have a little
arrand of her own, and ye might have a word for the old mother that
never parted with you before.'
'You not going, mother!' he exclaimed.
''Tis my heart that will go with you and Masther Phelim, my jewel; but
Madame la Comtesse will have it that this weeny little darlint'--
caressing the child in her lap--'could never bear the cold of that bare
and dissolute place in the north you are bound for, and old Madame la
Marquise, her mother, would be mad entirely if all the children left
her; but our own lady can't quit the little one without leaving his own
nurse Honor with him!'
'That's news to me intirely, mother,' said Lanty; 'bad luck to it!'
Honor laughed that half-proud, half-sad laugh of mothers when their
sons outgrow them. 'Fine talking! Much he cares for the old mother if
he can see the young girl go with him.'
For Lanty's eyes had brightened at sight of a slight little figure,
trim to the last degree, with a jaunty little cap on her dark hair, gay
trimmings to the black apron, dainty shoes and stockings that came
tripping down the path. His tongue instantly changed to French from
what he called English, as in pathetic insinuating modulations he
demanded how she could be making him weary his very heart out.
'Who bade you?' she retorted. 'I never asked you to waste your time
'And will ye not give me a glance of the eyes that have made a cinder
of my poor heart, when I am going away into the desolate north, among
the bears and the savages and the heretics?'
'There will be plenty of eyes there to look at your fine green and
gold, for the sake of the Paris cut; though a great lumbering fellow
like you does not know how to show it off!'
'And if I bring back a heretic bru to break the heart of the mother,
will it not be all the fault of the cruelty of Mademoiselle Victorine?'
Here Estelle, unable to withstand Lanty's piteous intonations, broke
in, 'Never mind, Laurent, Victorine goes with us. She went to be
measured for a new pair of slices on purpose!'
'Ah! I thought I should disembarrass myself of a great troublesome
'No!' retorted the boy, 'you knew Laurent was going, for Maitre Hebert
had just come in to say he must have a lackey's suit!'
'Yes,' said Estelle, 'that was when you took me in your arms and kissed
me, and said you would follow Madame la Comtesse to the end of the
The old nurse laughed heartily, but Victorine cried out, 'Does
Mademoiselle think I am going to follow naughty little girls who invent
follies? It is still free to me to change my mind. Poor Simon
Claquette is gnawing his heart out, and he is to be left concierge!'
The clock at the palace chimed eleven, Estelle took her brother's hand,
Honor rose with little Jacques in her arms, Victorine paced beside her,
and Lanty as La Jeunesse followed, puffing out his breast, and wielding
his cane, as they all went home to dejeuner.
Twenty-nine years before the opening of this narrative, just after the
battle of Boyne Water had ruined the hopes of the Stewarts in Ireland,
Sir Ulick Burke had attended James II. in his flight from Waterford;
and his wife had followed him, attended by her two faithful servants,
Patrick Callaghan, and his wife Honor, carrying her mistress's child on
her bosom, and her own on her back.
Sir Ulick, or Le Chevalier Bourke, as the French called him, had no
scruple in taking service in the armies of Louis XIV. Callaghan
followed him everywhere, while Honor remained a devoted attendant on
her lady, doubly bound to her by exile and sorrow.
Little Ulick Burke's foster-sister died, perhaps because she had always
been made second to him through all the hardships and exposure of the
journey. Other babes of both lady and nurse had succumbed to the
mortality which beset the children of that generation, and the only
survivors besides the eldest Burke and one daughter were the two
youngest of each mother, and they had arrived so nearly at the same
time that Honor Callaghan could again be foster-mother to Phelim Burke,
a sickly child, reared with great difficulty.
The family were becoming almost French. Sir Ulick was an intimate
friend of one of the noblest men of the day, James Fitz-James, Marshal
Duke of Berwick, who united military talent, almost equal to that of
his uncle of Marlborough, to an unswerving honour and integrity very
rare in those evil times. Under him, Sir Ulick fought in the campaigns
that finally established the House of Bourbon upon the throne of Spain,
and the younger Ulick or Ulysse, as his name had been classicalised and
Frenchified, was making his first campaign as a mere boy at the time of
the battle of Almanza, that solitary British defeat, for which our
national consolation is that the French were commanded by an
Englishman, the Duke of Berwick, and the English by a Frenchman, the
Huguenot Rubigne, Earl of Galway. The first English charge was,
however, fatal to the Chevalier Bourke, who fell mortally wounded, and
in the endeavour to carry him off the field the faithful Callaghan
likewise fell. Sir Ulick lived long enough to be visited by the Duke,
and to commend his children to his friend's protection.
Berwick was held to be dry and stiff, but he was a faithful friend, and
well redeemed his promise. The eldest son, young as he was, obtained
as wife the daughter of the Marquis de Varennes, and soon distinguished
himself both in war and policy, so as to receive the title of Comte de
The French Church was called on to provide for the other two children.
The daughter, Alice, became a nun in one of the Parisian convents, with
promises of promotion. The younger son, Phelim, was weakly in health,
and of intellect feeble, if not deficient, and was almost dependent on
the devoted care and tenderness of his foster-brother, Laurence
Callaghan. Nobody was startled when Berwick's interest procured for
the dull boy of ten years old the Abbey of St. Eudoce in Champagne. To
be sure the responsibilities were not great, for the Abbey had been
burnt down a century and a half ago by the Huguenots, and there had
never been any monks in it since, so the only effect was that little
Phelim Burke went by the imposing title of Monsieur l'Abbe de St.
Eudoce, and his family enjoyed as much of the revenues of the estates
of the Abbey as the Intendant thought proper to transmit to them. He
was, to a certain degree, ecclesiastically educated, having just memory
enough to retain for recitation the tasks that Lanty helped him to
learn, and he could copy the themes or translations made for him by his
faithful companion. Neither boy had the least notion of unfairness or
deception in this arrangement: it was only the natural service of the
one to the other, and if it were perceived in the Fathers of the
Seminary, whither Lanty daily conducted the young Abbot, they winked at
it. Nor, though the quick-witted Lanty thus acquired a considerable
amount of learning, no idea occurred to him of availing himself of it
for his own advantage. It sat outside him, as it were, for 'Masther
Phelim's' use; and he no more thought of applying it to his own
elevation than he did of wearing the soutane he brushed for his young
The Abbe was now five-and-twenty, had received the tonsure, and had
been admitted to minor Orders, but there was no necessity for him to
proceed any farther unless higher promotion should be accorded to him
in recompense of his brother's services. He was a gentle, amiable
being, not at all fit to take care of himself; and since the death of
his mother, he had been the charge of his brother and sister-in-law, or
perhaps more correctly speaking, of the Dowager Marquise de Varennes,
for all the branches of the family lived together in the Hotel de
Varennes at Paris, or its chateau in the country, and the fine old lady
ruled over all, her son and son-in-law being often absent, as was the
case at present.
A fresh European war had been provoked by the ambition of the second
wife of Philip V. of Spain, the Prince for whose cause Berwick had
fought. This Queen, Elizabeth Farnese, wanted rank and dominion for
her own son; moreover, Philip looked with longing eyes at his native
kingdom of France, all claim to which he had resigned when Spain was
bequeathed to him; but now that only a sickly child, Louis XV., stood
between him and the succession in right of blood, he felt his rights
superior to those of the Duke of Orleans. Thus Spain was induced to
become hostile to France, and to commence the war known as that of the
While there was still hope of accommodation, the Comte de Bourke had
been sent as a special envoy to Madrid, and there continued even after
the war had broken out, and the Duke of Berwick, resigning all the
estates he had received from the gratitude of Philip V., had led an
army across the frontier.
The Count had, however, just been appointed Ambassador to Sweden, and
was anxious to be joined by his family on the way thither.
The tidings had created great commotion. Madame de Varennes looked on
Sweden as an Ultima Thule of frost and snow, but knew that a lady's
presence was essential to the display required of an ambassador. She
strove, however, to have the children left with her; but her daughter
declared that she could not part with Estelle, who was already a
companion and friend, and that Ulysse must be with his father, who
longed for his eldest son, so that only little Jacques, a delicate
child, was to be left to console his grandmother.
CHAPTER II--A JACOBITE WAIF
'Sac now he's o'er the floods sae gray,
And Lord Maxwell has ta'en his good-night.'
LORD MAXWELL'S Good-night.
Madame La Comtesse de Bourke was by no means a helpless fine lady. She
had several times accompanied her husband on his expeditions, and had
only not gone with him to Madrid because he did not expect to be long
absent, and she sorely rued the separation.
She was very busy in her own room, superintending the packing, and
assisting in it, when her own clever fingers were more effective than
those of her maids. She was in her robe de chambre, a dark blue
wrapper, embroidered with white, and put on more neatly than was always
the case with French ladies in deshabille. The hoop, long stiff stays,
rich brocade robe, and fabric of powdered hair were equally unsuitable
to ease or exertion, and consequently were seldom assumed till late in
the day, when the toilette was often made in public.
So Madame de Bourke's hair was simply rolled out of her way, and she
appeared in her true colours, as a little brisk, bonny woman, with no
actual beauty, but very expressive light gray eyes, furnished with
intensely long black lashes, and a sweet, mobile, lively countenance.
Estelle was trying to amuse little Jacques, and prevent him from
trotting between the boxes, putting all sorts of undesirable goods into
them; and Ulysse had collected his toys, and was pleading earnestly
that a headless wooden horse and a kite, twice as tall as himself, of
Lanty's manufacture, might go with them.
He was told that another cerf-volant should be made for him at the
journey's end; but was only partially consoled, and his mother was fain
to compound for a box of woolly lambs. Estelle winked away a tear when
her doll was rejected, a wooden, highly painted lady, bedizened in
brocade, and so dear to her soul that it was hard to be told that she
was too old for such toys, and that the Swedes would be shocked to see
the Ambassador's daughter embracing a doll. She had, however, to
preserve her character of a reasonable child, and tried to derive
consolation from the permission to bestow 'Mademoiselle' upon the
concierge's little sick daughter, who would be sure to cherish her
'But, oh mamma, I pray you to let me take my book!'
'Assuredly, my child. Let us see! What? Telemaque? Not "Prince
Percinet and Princess Gracieuse?"'
'I am tired of them, mamma.'
'Nor Madame d'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales?'
'Oh no, thank you, mamma; I love nothing so well as Telemaque.'
'Thou art a droll child!' said her mother.
'Ah, but we are going to be like Telemaque.'
'Heaven forfend!' said the poor lady.
'Yes, dear mamma, I am glad you are going with us instead of staying at
home to weave and unweave webs. If Penelope had been like you, she
would have gone!'
'Take care, is not Jacques acting Penelope?' said Madame de Bourke,
unable to help smiling at her little daughter's glib mythology, while
going to the rescue of the embroidery silks, in which her youngest son
was entangling himself.
At that moment there was a knock at the door, and a message was brought
that the Countess of Nithsdale begged the favour of a few minutes'
conversation in private with Madame. The Scottish title fared better
on the lips of La Jeunesse than it would have done on those of his
predecessor. There was considerable intimacy among all the Jacobite
exiles in and about Paris; and Winifred, Countess of Nithsdale, though
living a very quiet and secluded life, was held in high estimation
among all who recollected the act of wifely heroism by which she had
rescued her husband from the block.
Madame de Bourke bade the maids carry off the little Jacques, and
Ulysse followed; but Estelle, who had often listened with rapt
attention to the story of the escape, and longed to feast her eyes on
the heroine, remained in her corner, usefully employed in disentangling
the embroilment of silks, and with the illustrations to her beloved
Telemaque as a resource in case the conversation should be tedious.
Children who have hundreds of picture-books to rustle through can
little guess how their predecessors could once dream over one.
Estelle made her low reverence unnoticed, and watched with eager eyes
as the slight figure entered, clad in the stately costume that was
regarded as proper respect to her hostess; but the long loose sacque of
blue silk was faded, the feuille-morte velvet petticoat frayed, the
lace on the neck and sleeves washed and mended; there were no jewels on
the sleeves, though the long gloves fitted exquisitely, no gems in the
buckles of the high-heeled shoes, and the only ornament in the
carefully rolled and powdered hair, a white rose. Her face was thin
and worn, with pleasant brown eyes. Estelle could not think her as
beautiful as Calypso inconsolable for Ulysses, or Antiope receiving the
boar's a head. 'I know she is better than either,' thought the little
maid; 'but I wish she was more like Minerva.'
The Countesses met with the lowest of curtseys, and apologies on the
one side for intrusion, on the other for deshabille, so they concluded
with an embrace really affectionate, though consideration for powder
made it necessarily somewhat theatrical in appearance.
These were the stiffest of days, just before formality had become
unbearable, and the reaction of simplicity had set in; and Estelle had
undone two desperate knots in the green and yellow silks before the
preliminary compliments were over, and Lady Nithsdale arrived at the
'Madame is about to rejoin Monsieur son Mari.'
'I am about to have that happiness.'
'That is the reason I have been bold enough to derange her.'
'Do not mention it. It is always a delight to see Madame la Comtesse'
'Ah! what will Madame say when she hears that it is to ask a great
favour of her.'
'Madame may reckon on me for whatever she would command.'
'If you can grant it--oh! Madame,' cried the Scottish Countess,
beginning to drop her formality in her eagerness, 'we shall be for ever
beholden to you, and you will make a wounded heart to sing, besides
perhaps saving a noble young spirit.'
'Madame makes me impatient to hear what she would have of me,' said the
French Countess, becoming a little on her guard, as the wife of a
diplomatist, recollecting, too, that peace with George I. might mean
war with the Jacobites.
'I know not whether a young kinsman of my Lord's has ever been
presented to Madame. His name is Arthur Maxwell Hope; but we call him
usually by his Christian name.'
'A tall, dark, handsome youth, almost like a Spaniard, or a picture by
Vandyke? It seems to me that I have seen him with M. le Comte.'
(Madame de Bourke could not venture on such a word as Nithsdale.)
'Madame is right. The mother of the boy is a Maxwell, a cousin not far
removed from my Lord, but he could not hinder her from being given in
marriage as second wife to Sir David Hope, already an old man. He was
good to her, but when he died, the sons by the first wife were harsh
and unkind to her and to her son, of whom they had always been jealous.
The eldest was a creature of my Lord Stair, and altogether a Whig;
indeed, he now holds an office at the Court of the Elector of Hanover,
and has been created one of HIS peers. (The scorn with which the
gentle Winifred uttered those words was worth seeing, and the other
noble lady gave a little derisive laugh.) 'These half-brothers
declared that Lady Hope was nurturing the young Arthur in Toryism and
disaffection, and they made it a plea for separating him from her, and
sending him to an old minister, who kept a school, and who was very
severe and even cruel to the poor boy. But I am wearying Madame.'
'Oh no, I listen with the deepest interest.'
'Finally, when the King was expected in Scotland, and men's minds were
full of anger and bitterness, as well as hope and spirit, the boy--he
was then only fourteen years of age--boasted of his grandfather's
having fought at Killiecrankie, and used language which the tutor
pronounced treasonable. He was punished and confined to his room; but
in the night he made his escape and joined the royal army. My husband
was grieved to see him, told him he had no right to political opinions,
and tried to send him home in time to make his peace before all was
lost. Alas! no. The little fellow did, indeed, pass out safely from
Preston, but only to join my Lord Mar. He was among the gentlemen who
embarked at Banff; and when my Lord, by Heaven's mercy, had escaped
from the Tower of London, and we arrived at Paris, almost the first
person we saw was little Arthur, whom we thought to have been safe at
home. We have kept him with us, and I contrived to let his mother know
that he is living, for she had mourned him as among the slain.'
'You may well pity her, Madame. She writes to me that if Arthur had
returned at once from Preston, as my Lord advised, all would have been
passed over as a schoolboy frolic; and, indeed, he has never been
attainted; but there is nothing that his eldest brother, Lord Burnside
as they call him, dreads so much as that it should be known that one of
his family was engaged in the campaign, or that he is keeping such ill
company as we are. Therefore, at her request, we have never called him
Hope, but let him go by our name of Maxwell, which is his by baptism;
and now she tells me that if he could make his way to Scotland, not as
if coming from Paris or Bar-le-Duc, but merely as if travelling on the
Continent, his brother would consent to his return.'
'Would she be willing that he should live under the usurper?'
'Madame, to tell you the truth,' said Lady Nithsdale, 'the Lady Hope is
not one to heed the question of usurpers, so long as her son is safe
and a good lad. Nay, for my part, we all lived peaceably and happily
enough under Queen Anne; and by all I hear, so they still do at home
under the Elector of Hanover.'
'The Regent has acknowledged him,' put in the French lady.
'Well,' said the poor exile, 'I know my Lord felt that it was his duty
to obey the summons of his lawful sovereign, and that, as he said when
he took up arms, one can only do one's duty and take the consequences;
but oh! when I look at the misery and desolation that has come of it,
when I think of the wives not so happy as I am, when I see my dear Lord
wearing out his life in banishment, and think of our dear home and our
poor people, I am tempted to wonder whether it were indeed a duty, or
whether there were any right to call on brave men without a more
steadfast purpose not to abandon them!'
'It would have been very different if the Duke of Berwick had led the
way,' observed Madame de Bourke. 'Then my husband would have gone,
but, being French subjects, honour stayed both him and the Duke as long
as the Regent made no move.' The good lady, of course, thought that
the Marshal Duke and her own Count must secure victory; but Lady
Nithsdale was intent on her own branch of the subject, and did not
pursue 'what might have been.'
'After all,' she said, 'poor Arthur, at fourteen, could have no true
political convictions. He merely fled because he was harshly treated,
heard his grandfather branded as a traitor, and had an enthusiasm for
my husband, who had been kind to him. It was a mere boy's escapade,
and if he had returned home when my Lord bade him, it would only have
been remembered as such. He knows it now, and I frankly tell you,
Madame, that what he has seen of our exiled court has not increased his
ardour in the cause.'
'Alas, no,' said Madame de Bourke. 'If the Chevalier de St. George
were other than he is, it would be easier to act in his behalf.'
'And you agree with me, Madame,' continued the visitor, 'that nothing
can be worse or more hopeless for a youth than the life to which we are
constrained here, with our whole shadow of hope in intrigue; and for
our men, no occupation worthy of their sex. We women are not so ill
off, with our children and domestic affairs; but it breaks my heart to
see brave gentlemen's lives thus wasted. We have done our best for
Arthur. He has studied with one of our good clergy, and my Lord
himself has taught him to fence; but we cannot treat him any longer as
a boy, and I know not what is to be his future, unless we can return
him to his own country.'
'Our army,' suggested Madame de Bourke.
'Ah! but he is Protestant.'
'A heretic!' exclaimed the lady, drawing herself up. 'But--'
'Oh, do not refuse me on that account. He is a good lad, and has lived
enough among Catholics to keep his opinions in the background. But you
understand that it is another reason for wishing to convey him, if not
to Scotland, to some land like Sweden or Prussia, where his faith would
not be a bar to his promotion.'
'What is it you would have me do?' said Madame de Bourke, more coldly.
'If Madame would permit him to be included in her passport, as about to
join the Ambassador's suite, and thus conduct him to Sweden; Lady Hope
would find means to communicate with him from thence, the poor young
man would be saved from a ruined career, and the heart of the widow and
mother would bless you for ever.
Madame de Bourke was touched, but she was a prudent woman, and paused
to ask whether the youth had shown any tendency to run into temptation,
from which Lady Nithsdale wished to remove him.
'Oh no,' she answered; 'he was a perfectly good docile lad, though
high-spirited, submissive to the Earl, and a kind playfellow to her
little girls; it was his very excellence that made it so unfortunate
that he should thus be stranded in early youth in consequence of one
The Countess began to yield. She thought he might go as secretary to
her Lord, and she owned that if he was a brave young man, he would be
an addition to her little escort, which only numbered two men besides
her brother-in-law, the Abbe, who was of almost as little account as
his young nephew. 'But I should warn you, Madame,' added Madame de
Bourke, 'that it may be a very dangerous journey. I own to you, though
I would not tell my poor mother, that my heart fails me when I think of
it, and were it not for the express commands of their father, I would
not risk my poor children on it.'
'I do not think you will find Sweden otherwise than a cheerful and
pleasant abode,' said Lady Nithsdale.
'Ah! if we were only in Sweden, or with my husband, all would be well!'
replied the other lady; 'but we have to pass through the mountains, and
the Catalans are always ill-affected to us French.'
'Nay; but you are a party of women, and belong to an ambassador!' was
'What do those robbers care for that? We are all the better prey for
them! I have heard histories of Spanish cruelty and lawlessness that
would make you shudder! You cannot guess at the dreadful presentiments
that have haunted me ever since I had my husband's letter.'
'There is danger everywhere, dear friend,' said Lady Nithsdale kindly;
'but God finds a way for us through all.'
'Ah! you have experienced it,' said Madame de Bourke. 'Let us proceed
to the affairs. I only thought I should tell you the truth.'
Lady Nithsdale answered for the courage of her protege, and it was
further determined that he should be presented to her that evening by
the Earl, at the farewell reception which Madame de Varennes was to
hold on her daughter's behalf, when it could be determined in what
capacity he should be named in the passport.
Estelle, who had been listening with all her ears, and trying to find a
character in Fenelon's romance to be represented by Arthur Hope, now
further heard it explained that the party were to go southward to meet
her father at one of the Mediterranean ports, as the English Government
were so suspicious of Jacobites that he did not venture on taking the
direct route by sea, but meant to travel through Germany. Madame de
Bourke expected to meet her brother at Avignon, and to obtain his
advice as to her further route.
Estelle heard this with great satisfaction. 'We shall go to the
Mediterranean Sea and be in danger,' she said to herself, unfolding the
map at the beginning of her Telemaque; 'that is quite right! Perhaps
we shall see Calypso's island.'
She begged hard to be allowed to sit up that evening to see the hero of
the escape from the Tower of London, as well as the travelling
companion destined for her, and she prevailed, for mamma pronounced
that she had been very sage and reasonable all day, and the grandmamma,
who was so soon to part with her, could refuse her nothing. So she was
full dressed, with hair curled, and permitted to stand by the tall
high-backed chair where the old lady sat to receive her visitors.
The Marquise de Varennes was a small withered woman, with keen eyes,
and a sort of sparkle of manner, and power of setting people at ease,
that made her the more charming the older she grew. An experienced eye
could detect that she retained the costume of the prime of Louis XIV.,
when headdresses were less high than that which her daughter was
obliged to wear. For the two last mortal hours of that busy day had
poor Madame de Bourke been compelled to sit under the hands of the
hairdresser, who was building up, with paste and powder and the like,
an original conception of his, namely, a northern landscape, with snow-
laden trees, drifts of snow, diamond icicles, and even a cottage beside
an ice-bound stream. She could ill spare the time, and longed to be
excused; but the artist had begged so hard to be allowed to carry out
his brilliant and unique idea, this last time of attending on Madame
l'Ambassadrice, that there was no resisting him, and perhaps her
strange forebodings made her less willing to inflict a disappointment
on the poor man. It would have been strange to contrast the fabric of
vanity building up outside her head, with the melancholy bodings within
it, as she sat motionless under the hairdresser's fingers; but at the
end she roused herself to smile gratefully, and give the admiration
that was felt to be due to the monstrosity that crowned her.
Forbearance and Christian patience may be exercised even on a toilette
a la Louis XV. Long practice enabled her to walk about, seat herself,
rise and curtsey without detriment to the edifice, or bestowing the
powder either on her neighbours or on the richly-flowered white brocade
she wore; while she received the compliments, one after another, of
ladies in even more gorgeous array, and gentlemen in velvet coats,
adorned with gold lace, cravats of exquisite fabric, and diamond shoe
Phelim Burke, otherwise l'Abbe de St. Eudoce, stood near her. He was a
thin, yellow, and freckled youth, with sandy hair and typical Irish
features, but without their drollery, and his face was what might have
been expected in a half-starved, half-clad gossoon in a cabin, rather
than surmounting a silken soutane in a Parisian salon; but he had a
pleasant smile when kindly addressed by his friends.
Presently Lady Nithsdale drew near, accompanied by a tall, grave
gentleman, and bringing with them a still taller youth, with the
stiffest of backs and the longest of legs, who, when presented, made a
bow apparently from the end of his spine, like Estelle's lamented
Dutch-jointed doll when made to sit down. Moreover, he was more
shabbily dressed than any other gentleman present, with a general
outgrown look about his coat, and darns in his silk stockings; and
though they were made by the hand of a Countess, that did not add to
their elegance. And as he stood as stiff as a ramrod or as a sentinel,
Estelle's good breeding was all called into play, and her mother's
heart quailed as she said to herself, 'A great raw Scot! What can be
done with him?
Lord Nithsdale spoke for him, thinking he had better go as secretary,
and showing some handwriting of good quality. 'Did he know any
languages?' 'French, English, Latin, and some Greek.' 'And, Madame,'
added Lord Nithsdale, 'not only is his French much better than mine, as
you would hear if the boy durst open his mouth, but our broad Scotch is
so like Swedish that he will almost be an interpreter there.'
However hopeless Madame de Bourke felt, she smiled and professed
herself rejoiced to hear it, and it was further decided that Arthur
Maxwell Hope, aged eighteen, Scot by birth, should be mentioned among
those of the Ambassador's household for whom she demanded passports.
Her position rendered this no matter of difficulty, and it was wiser to
give the full truth to the home authorities; but as it was desirable
that it should not be reported to the English Government that Lord
Burnside's brother was in the suite of the Jacobite Comte de Bourke, he
was only to be known to the public by his first name, which was not
much harder to French lips than Maxwell or Hope.
'Tall and black and awkward,' said Estelle, describing him to her
brother. 'I shall not like him--I shall call him Phalante instead of
'Arthur,' said Ulysse; 'King Arthur was turned into a crow!'
'Well, this Arthur is like a crow--a great black skinny crow with torn
CHAPTER III--ON THE RHONE
'Fairer scenes the opening eye
Of the day can scarce descry,
Fairer sight he looks not on
Than the pleasant banks of Rhone.'
Long legs may be in the abstract an advantage, but scarcely so in what
was called in France une grande Berline. This was the favourite
travelling carriage of the eighteenth century, and consisted of a close
carriage or coach proper, with arrangements on the top for luggage, and
behind it another seat open, but provided with a large leathern hood,
and in front another place for the coachman and his companions. Each
seat was wide enough to hold three persons, and thus within sat Madame
de Bourke, her brother-in-law, the two children, Arthur Hope, and
Mademoiselle Julienne, an elderly woman of the artisan class, femme de
chambre to the Countess. Victorine, who was attendant on the children,
would travel under the hood with two more maids; and the front seat
would be occupied by the coachman, Laurence Callaghan--otherwise La
Jeunesse, and Maitre Hebert, the maitre d'hotel. Fain would Arthur
have shared their elevation, so far as ease and comfort of mind and
body went, and the Countess's wishes may have gone the same way; but
besides that it would have been an insult to class him with the
servants, the horses of the home establishment, driven by their own
coachman, took the party the first stage out of Paris; and though
afterwards the post-horses or mules, six in number, would be ridden by
their own postilions, there was such an amount of luggage as to leave
little or no space for a third person outside.
It had been a perfect sight to see the carriage packed; when Arthur,
convoyed by Lord Nithsdale, arrived in the courtyard of the Hotel de
Varennes. Madame de Bourke was taking with her all the paraphernalia
of an ambassador--a service of plate, in a huge chest stowed under the
seat, a portrait of Philip V., in a gold frame set with diamonds, being
included among her jewellery--and Lord Nithsdale, standing by, could
not but drily remark, 'Yonder is more than we brought with us, Arthur.'
The two walked up and down the court together, unwilling to intrude on
the parting which, as they well knew, would be made in floods of tears.
Sad enough indeed it was, for Madame de Varennes was advanced in years,
and her daughter had not only to part with her, but with the baby
Jacques, for an unknown space of time; but the self-command and
restraint of grief for the sake of each other was absolutely unknown.
It was a point of honour and sentiment to weep as much as possible, and
it would have been regarded as frigid and unnatural not to go on crying
too much to eat or speak for a whole day beforehand, and at least two
So when the travellers descended the steps to take their seats, each
face was enveloped in a handkerchief, and there were passionate
embraces, literal pressings to the breast, and violent sobs, as each
victim, one after the other, ascended the carriage steps and fell back
on the seat; while in the background, Honor Callaghan was uttering
Irish wails over the Abbe and Laurence, and the lamentable sound set
the little lap-dog and the big watch-dog howling in chorus. Arthur
Hope, probably as miserable as any of them in parting with his friend
and hero, was only standing like a stake, and an embarrassed stake (if
that be possible), and Lord Nithsdale, though anxious for him, heartily
pitying all, was nevertheless haunted by a queer recollection of Lance
and his dog, and thinking that French dogs were not devoid of sympathy,
and that the part of Crab was left for Arthur.
However, the last embrace was given, and the ladies were all packed in,
while the Abbe with his breast heaving with sobs, his big hat in one
hand, and a huge silk pocket-handkerchief in the other, did not forget
his manners, but waved to Arthur to ascend the steps first.
'Secretary, not guest. You must remember that another time,' said Lord
Nithsdale. 'God bless you, my dear lad, and bring you safe back to
bonny Scotland, a true and leal heart.'
Arthur wrung his friend's hand once more, and disappeared into the
vehicle; Nurse Honor made one more rush, and uttered another 'Ohone'
over Abbe Phelim, who followed into the carriage; the door was shut;
there was a last wail over 'Lanty, the sunbeam of me heart,' as he
climbed to the box seat; the harness jingled; coachman and postilions
cracked their whips, the impatient horses dashed out at the porte
cochere; and Arthur, after endeavouring to dispose of his legs, looked
about him, and saw, opposite to him, Madame de Bourke lying back in the
corner in a transport of grief, one arm round her daughter, and her
little son lying across her lap, both sobbing and crying; and on one
side of him the Abbe, sunk in his corner, his yellow silk handkerchief
over his face; on the other, Mademoiselle Julienne, who was crying too,
but with more moderation, perhaps more out of propriety or from
infection than from actual grief: at any rate she had more of her
senses about her than any one else, and managed to dispose of the
various loose articles that had been thrown after the travellers, in
pockets and under cushions. Arthur would have assisted, but only
succeeded in treading on various toes and eliciting some small shrieks,
which disconcerted him all the more, and made Mademoiselle Julienne
look daggers at him, as she relieved her lady of little Ulysse, lifting
him to her own knee, where, as he was absolutely exhausted with crying,
he fell asleep.
Arthur hoped the others would do the same, and perhaps there was more
dozing than they would have confessed; but whenever there was a
movement, and some familiar object in the streets of Paris struck the
eye of Madame, the Abbe, or Estelle, there was a little cry, and they
went off on a fresh score.
'Poor wretched weak creatures!' he said to himself, as he thought the
traditions of Scottish heroic women in whose heroism he had gloated.
And yet he was wrong: Madame de Bourke was capable of as much resolute
self-devotion as any of the ladies on the other side of the Channel,
but tears were a tribute required by the times. So she gave way to
them--just as no doubt the women of former days saw nothing absurd in
Arthur's position among all these weeping figures was extremely
awkward, all the more so that he carried his sword upright between his
legs, not daring to disturb the lachrymose company enough to dispose of
it in the sword case appropriated to weapons. He longed to take out
the little pocket Virgil, which Lord Nithsdale had given him, so as to
have some occupation for his eyes, but he durst not, lest he should be
thought rude, till, at a halt at a cabaret to water the horses, the
striking of a clock reminded the Abbe that it was the time for reading
the Hours, and when the breviary was taken out, Arthur thought his book
might follow it.
By and by there was a halt at Corbeil, where was the nunnery of Alice
Bourke, of whom her brother and sister-in-law were to take leave.
They, with the children, were set down there, while Arthur went on with
the carriage and servants to the inn to dine.
It was the first visit of Ulysse to the convent, and he was much amazed
at peeping at his aunt's hooded face through a grating. However, the
family were admitted to dine in the refectory; but poor Madame de
Bourke was fit for nothing but to lie on a bed, attended affectionately
by her sister-in-law, Soeur Ste. Madeleine.
'O sister, sister,' was her cry, 'I must say it to you--I would not to
my poor mother--that I have the most horrible presentiments I shall
never see her again, nor my poor child. No, nor my husband; I knew it
when he took leave of me for that terrible Spain.'
'Yet you see he is safe, and you will be with him, sister,' returned
'Ah! that I knew I should! But think of those fearful Pyrenees, and
the bandits that infest them--and all the valuables we carry with us!'
'Surely I heard that Marshal Berwick had offered you an escort.'
'That will only attract the attention of the brigands and bring them in
greater force. O sister, sister, my heart sinks at the thought of my
poor children in the hands of those savages! I dream of them every
'The suite of an ambassador is sacred.'
'Ah! but what do they care for that, the robbers? I know destruction
lies that way!'
'Nay, sister, this is not like you. You always were brave, and trusted
heaven, when you had to follow Ulick.'
'Alas! never had I this sinking of heart, which tells me I shall be
torn from my poor children and never rejoin him.'
Sister Ste. Madeleine caressed and prayed with the poor lady, and did
her utmost to reassure and comfort her, promising a neuvaine for her
safe journey and meeting with her husband.
'For the children,' said the poor Countess. 'I know I never shall see
However, the cheerfulness of the bright Irish-woman had done her some
good, and she was better by the time she rose to pursue her journey.
Estelle and Ulysse had been much petted by the nuns, and when all met
again, to the great relief of Arthur, he found continuous weeping was
not de rigueur. When they got in again, he was able to get rid of his
sword, and only trod on two pair of toes, and got his legs twice
Moreover, Madame de Bourke had recovered the faculty of making pretty
speeches, and when the weapon was put into the sword case, she observed
with a sad little smile, 'Ah, Monsieur! we look to you as our
'And me too!' cried little Ulysse, making a violent demonstration with
his tiny blade, and so nearly poking out his uncle's eye that the
article was relegated to the same hiding-place as 'Monsieur Arture's,'
and the boy was assured that this was a proof of his manliness.
He had quite recovered his spirits, and as his mother and sister were
still exhausted with weeping, he was not easy to manage, till Arthur
took heart of grace, and offering him a perch on his knee, let him look
out at the window, explaining the objects on the way, which were all
quite new to the little Parisian boy. Fortunately he spoke French
well, with scarcely any foreign accent, and his answers to the little
fellow's eager questions interspersed with observations on 'What they
do in my country,' not only kept Ulysse occupied, but gained Estelle's
attention, though she was too weary and languid, and perhaps, child as
she was, too much bound by the requirements of sympathy to manifest her
interest, otherwise than by moving near enough to listen.
That evening the party reached the banks of one of the canals which
connected the rivers of France, and which was to convey them to the
Loire and thence to the Rhone, in a huge flat-bottomed barge, called a
coche d'eau, a sort of ark, with cabins, where travellers could be
fairly comfortable, space where the berlin could be stowed away in the
rear, and a deck with an awning where the passengers could disport
themselves. From the days of Sully to those of the Revolution, this
was by far the most convenient and secure mode of transport, especially
in the south of France. It was very convenient to the Bourke party;
who were soon established on the deck. The lady's dress was better
adapted to travelling than the full costume of Paris. It was what she
called en Amazone--namely, a clothe riding-habit faced with blue, with
a short skirt, with open coat and waistcoat, like a man's, hair
unpowdered and tied behind, and a large shady feathered hat. Estelle
wore a miniature of the same, and rejoiced in her freedom from the
whalebone stiffness of her Paris life, skipping about the deck with her
brother, like fairies, Lanty said, or, as she preferred to make it,
'like a nymph.'
The water coach moved only by day, and was already arrived before the
land one brought the weary party to the meeting-place--a picturesque
water-side inn with a high roof, and a trellised passage down to the
landing-place, covered by a vine, hung with clusters of ripe grapes.
Here the travellers supped on omelettes and vin ordinaire, and went off
to bed--Madame and her child in one bed, with the maids on the floor,
and in another room the Abbe and secretary, each in a grabat, the two
men-servants in like manner, on the floor. Such was the privacy of the
eighteenth century, and Arthur, used to waiting on himself, looked on
with wonder to see the Abbe like a baby in the hands of his faithful
foster-brother, who talked away in a queer mixture of Irish-English and
French all the time until they knelt down and said their prayers
together in Latin, to which Arthur diligently closed his Protestant
Early the next morning the family embarked, the carriage having been
already put on board; and the journey became very agreeable as they
glided slowly, almost dreamily along, borne chiefly by the current,
although a couple of horses towed the barge by a rope on the bank, in
case of need, in places where the water was more sluggish, but nothing
more was wanting in the descent towards the Mediterranean.
The accommodation was not of a high order, but whenever there was a
halt near a good inn, Madame de Bourke and the children landed for the
night. And in the fine days of early autumn the deck was delightful,
and to dine there on the provisions brought on board was a perpetual
feast to Estelle and Ulysse.
The weather was beautiful, and there was a constant panorama of fair
sights and scenes. Harvest first, a perfectly new spectacle to the
children and then, as they went farther south, the vintage. The beauty
was great as they glided along the pleasant banks of Rhone.
Tiers of vines on the hillsides were mostly cut and trimmed like
currant bushes, and disappointed Arthur, who had expected festoons on
trellises. But this was the special time for beauty. The whole
population, in picturesque costumes, were filling huge baskets with the
clusters, and snatches of their merry songs came pealing down to the
coche d'eau, as it quietly crept along. Towards evening groups were
seen with piled baskets on their heads, or borne between them, youths
and maidens crowned with vines, half-naked children dancing like little
Bacchanalians, which awoke classical recollections in Arthur and
delighted the children.
Poor Madame de Bourke was still much depressed, and would sit dreaming
half the day, except when roused by some need of her children, some
question, or some appeal for her admiration. Otherwise, the lovely
heights, surmounted with tall towers, extinguisher-capped, of castle,
convent, or church, the clear reaches of river, the beautiful turns,
the little villages and towns gleaming white among the trees, seemed to
pass unseen before her eyes, and she might be seen to shudder when the
children pressed her to say how many days it would be before they saw
An observer with a mind at ease might have been much entertained with
the airs and graces that the two maids, Rosette and Babette, lavished
upon Laurence, their only squire; for Maitre Hebert was far too distant
and elderly a person for their little coquetries. Rosette dealt in
little terrors, and, if he was at hand, durst not step across a plank
without his hand, was sure she heard wolves howling in the woods, and
that every peasant was 'ce barbare;' while Babette, who in conjunction
with Maitre Hebert acted cook in case of need, plied him with dainty
morsels, which he was only too apt to bestow on the beggars, or the
lean and hungry lad who attended on the horses. Victorine, on the
other hand, by far the prettiest and most sprightly of the three,
affected the most supreme indifference to him and his attentions, and
hardly deigned to give him a civil word, or to accept the cornflowers
and late roses he brought her from time to time. 'Mere weeds,' she
said. And the grapes and Queen Claude plums he brought her were always
sour. Yet a something deep blue might often be seen peeping above her
trim little apron.
Not that Lanty had much time to disport himself in this fashion, for
the Abbe was his care, and was perfectly happy with a rod of his
arranging, with which to fish over the side. Little Ulysse was of
course fired with the same emulation, and dangled his line for an hour
together. Estelle would have liked to do the same, but her mother and
Mademoiselle Julienne considered the sport not convenable for a
demoiselle. Arthur was once or twice induced to try the Abbe's rod,
but he found it as mere a toy as that of the boy; and the mere action
of throwing it made his heart so sick with the contrast with the
'paidling in the burns' of his childhood, that he had no inclination to
continue the attempt, either in the slow canal or the broadening river.
He was still very shy with the Countess, who was not in spirits to set
him at ease; and the Abbe puzzled him, as is often the case when
inexperienced strangers encounter unacknowledged deficiency. The
perpetual coaxing chatter, and undisguised familiarity of La Jeunesse
with the young ecclesiastic did not seem to the somewhat haughty cast
of his young Scotch mind quite becoming, and he held aloof; but with
the two children he was quite at ease, and was in truth their great
He made Ulysse's fishing-rod, baited it, and held the boy when he used
it--nay, he once even captured a tiny fish with it, to the ecstatic
pity of both children. He played quiet games with them, and told them
stories--conversed on Telemaque with Estelle, or read to her from his
one book, which was Robinson Crusoe--a little black copy in pale print,
with the margins almost thumbed away, which he had carried in his
pocket when he ran away from school, and nearly knew by heart.
Estelle was deeply interested in it, and varied in opinion whether she
should prefer Calypso's island or Crusoe's, which she took for as much
matter of fact as did, a century later, Madame Talleyrand, when, out of
civility to Mr. Robinson, she inquired after 'ce bon Vendredi.'
She inclined to think she should prefer Friday to the nymphs.
'A whole quantity of troublesome womenfolk to fash one,' said Arthur,
who had not arrived at the age of gallantry.
'You would never stay there!' said Estelle; 'you would push us over the
rock like Mentor. I think you are our Mentor, for I am sure you tell
us a great deal, and you don't scold.'
'Mentor was a cross old man,' said Ulysse.
To which Estelle replied that he was a goddess; and Arthur very
decidedly disclaimed either character, especially the pushing over
rocks. And thus they glided on, spending a night in the great, busy,
bewildering city of Lyon, already the centre of silk industry; but more
interesting to the travellers as the shrine of the martyrdoms. All
went to pray at the Cathedral except Arthur. The time was not come for
heeding church architecture or primitive history; and he only wandered
about the narrow crooked streets, gazing at the toy piles of market
produce, and looking at the stalls of merchandise, but as one unable to
purchase. His mother had indeed contrived to send him twenty guineas,
but he knew that he must husband them well in case of emergencies, and
Lady Nithsdale had sewn them all up, except one, in a belt which he
wore under his clothes.
He had arrived at the front of the Cathedral when the party came out.
Madame de Bourke had been weeping, but looked more peaceful than he had
yet seen her, and Estelle was much excited. She had bought a little
book, which she insisted on her Mentor's reading with her, though his
Protestant feelings recoiled.
'Ah!' said Estelle, 'but you are not Christian.'
'Yes, truly, Mademoiselle.'
'And these died for the Christian faith. Do you know mamma said it
comforted her to pray there; for she was sure that whatever happened,
the good God can make us strong, as He made the young girl who sat in
the red-hot chair. We saw her picture, and it was dreadful. Do read
about her, Monsieur Arture.'
They read, and Arthur had candour enough to perceive that this was the
simple primitive narrative of the death of martyrs struggling for
Christian truth, long ere the days of superstition and division.
Estelle's face lighted with enthusiasm.
'Is it not noble to be a martyr?' she asked.
'Oh!' cried Ulysse; 'to sit in a red-hot chair! It would be worse than
to be thrown off a rock! But there are no martyrs in these days,
sister?' he added, pressing up to Arthur as if for protection.
'There are those who die for the right,' said Arthur, thinking of Lord
Derwentwater, who in Jacobite eyes was a martyr.
'And the good God makes them strong,' said Estelle, in a low voice.
'Mamma told me no one could tell how soon we might be tried, and that I
was to pray that He would make us as brave as St. Blandina! What do
you think could harm us, Monsieur, when we are going to my dear papa?'
It was Lanty who answered, from behind the Abbe, on whose angling
endeavours he was attending. 'Arrah then, nothing at all,
Mademoiselle. Nothing in the four corners of the world shall hurt one
curl of your blessed little head, while Lanty Callaghan is to the
'Ah! but you are not God, Lanty,' said Estelle gravely; 'you cannot
keep things from happening.'
'The Powers forbid that I should spake such blasphemy!' said Lanty,
taking off his hat. ''Twas not that I meant, but only that poor Lanty
would die ten thousand deaths--worse than them as was thrown to the
beasts--before one of them should harm the tip of that little finger of
Perhaps the same vow was in Arthur's heart, though not spoken in such
Thus they drifted on till the old city of Avignon rose on the eyes of
the travellers, a dark pile of buildings where the massive houses,
built round courts, with few external windows, recalled that these had
once been the palaces of cardinals accustomed to the Italian city
feuds, which made every house become a fortress.
On the wharf stood a gentleman in a resplendent uniform of blue and
gold, whom the children hailed with cries of joy and outstretched arms,
as their uncle. The Marquis de Varennes was soon on board, embracing
his sister and her children, and conducting them to one of the great
palaces, where he had rooms, being then in garrison. Arthur followed,
at a sign from the lady, who presented him to her brother as 'Monsieur
Arture'--a young Scottish gentleman who will do my husband the favour
of acting as his secretary.
She used the word gentilhomme, which conveyed the sense of nobility of
blood, and the Marquis acknowledged the introduction with one of those
graceful bows that Arthur hated, because they made him doubly feel the
stiffness of his own limitation. He was glad to linger with Lanty, who
was looking in wonder at the grim buildings.
'And did the holy Father live here?' said he. 'Faith, and 'twas a
quare taste he must have had; I wonder now if there would be vartue in
a bit of a stone from his palace. It would mightily please my old
mother if there were.'
'I thought it was the wrong popes that lived here,' suggested Arthur.
Lanty looked at him a moment as if in doubt whether to accept a heretic
suggestion, but the education received through the Abbe came to mind,
and he exclaimed -
'May be you are in the right of it, sir; and I'd best let the stones
alone till I can tell which is the true and which is the false. By the
same token, little is the difference it would make to her, unless she
knew it; and if she did, she'd as soon I brought her a hair of the old
Lanty found another day or two's journey bring him very nearly in
contact with the old dragon, for at Tarascon was the cave in which St.
Martha was said to have demolished the great dragon of Provence with
the sign of the cross. Madame de Bourke and her children made a devout
pilgrimage thereto; but when Arthur found that it was the actual Martha
of Bethany to whom the legend was appended, he grew indignant, and
would not accompany the party. 'It was a very different thing from the
martyrs of Lyon and Vienne! Their history was credible, but this--'
'Speak not so loud, my friend,' said M. de Varennes. 'Their shrines
are equally good to console women and children.'
Arthur did not quite understand the tone, nor know whether to be
gratified at being treated as a man, or to be shocked at the Marquis's
defection from his own faith.
The Marquis, who was able to accompany his sister as far as Montpelier,
was amused at her two followers, Scotch and Irish, both fine young men-
-almost too fine, he averred.
'You will have to keep a careful watch on them when you enter Germany,
sister,' he said, 'or the King of Prussia will certainly kidnap them
for his tall regiment of grenadiers.'
'O brother, do not speak of any more dangers: I see quite enough
before me ere I can even rejoin my dear husband.'
A very serious council was held between the brother and sister. The
French army under Marshal Berwick had marched across on the south side
on the Pyrenees, and was probably by this time in the county of
Rousillon, intending to besiege Rosas. Once with them all would be
well, but between lay the mountain roads, and the very quarter of Spain
that had been most unwilling to accept French rule.
The Marquis had been authorised to place an escort at his sister's
service, but though the numbers might guard her against mere mountain
banditti, they would not be sufficient to protect her from hostile
troops, such as might only too possibly be on the way to encounter
Berwick. The expense and difficulty of the journey on the mountain
roads would likewise be great, and it seemed advisable to avoid these
dangers by going by sea. Madame de Bourke eagerly acceded to this
plan, her terror of the wild Pyrenean passes and wilder inhabitants had
always been such that she was glad to catch at any means of avoiding
them, and she had made more than one voyage before.
Estelle was gratified to find they were to go by sea, since Telemachus
did so in a Phoenician ship, and, in that odd dreamy way in which
children blend fiction and reality, wondered if they should come on
Calypso's island; and Arthur, who had read the Odyssey, delighted her
and terrified Ulysse with the cave of Polyphemus. M. de Varennes could
only go with his sister as far as Montpelier. Then he took leave of
her, and the party proceeded along the shores of the lagoons, in the
carriage to the seaport of Cette, one of the old Greek towns of the
Gulf of Lyon, and with a fine harbour full of ships. Maitre Hebert was
sent to take a passage on board of one, while his lady and her party
repaired to an inn, and waited all the afternoon before he returned
with tidings that he could find no French vessel about to sail for
Spain, but that there was a Genoese tartane, bound for Barcelona, on
which Madame la Comtesse could secure a passage for herself and her
suite, and which would take her thither in twenty-four hours.
The town was full of troops, waiting a summons to join Marshal
Berwick's army. Several resplendent officers had already paid their
respects to Madame l'Ambassadrice, and they concurred in the advice,
unless she would prefer waiting for the arrival of one of the French
transports which were to take men and provisions to the army in Spain.
This, however, she declined, and only accepted the services of the
gentlemen so far as to have her passports renewed, as was needful,
since they were to be conveyed by the vessel of an independent power,
though always an ally of France.
The tartane was a beautiful object, a one-decked, single-masted vessel,
with a long bowsprit, and a huge lateen sail like a wing, and the
children fell in love with her at first sight. Estelle was quite sure
that she was just such a ship as Mentor borrowed for Telemachus; but
the poor maids were horribly frightened, and Babette might be heard
declaring she had never engaged herself to be at the mercy of the
waves, like a bit of lemon peel in a glass of eau sucree.
'You may return,' said Madame de Bourke. 'I compel no one to share our
dangers and hardships.'
But Babette threw herself on her knees, and declared that nothing
should ever separate her from Madame! She was a good creature, but she
could not deny herself the luxury of the sobs and tears that showed to
all beholders the extent of her sacrifice.
Madame de Bourke knew that there would be considerable discomfort in a
vessel so little adapted for passengers, and with only one small cabin,
which the captain, who spoke French, resigned to her use. It would
only, however, be for a short time, and though it was near the end of
October, the blue expanse of sea was calm as only the Mediterranean can
be, so that she trusted that no harm would result to those who would
have to spend the night on dock.
It was a beautiful evening which the little Genoese vessel left the
harbour and Cette receded in the distance, looking fairer the farther
it was left behind. The children were put to bed as soon as they could
be persuaded to cease from watching the lights in the harbour and the
phosphorescent wake of the vessel in the water.
That night and the next day were pleasant and peaceful; there was no
rough weather, and little sickness among the travellers. Madame de
Bourke congratulated herself on having escaped the horrors of the
Pyrenean journey, and the Genoese captain assured her that unless the
weather should change rapidly, they would wake in sight of the Spanish
coast the next morning. If the sea were not almost too calm, they
would be there already. The evening was again so delightful that the
children were glad to hear that they would have again to return by sea,
and Arthur, who somewhat shrank from his presentation to the Count,
regretted that the end of the voyage was so near, though Ulysse assured
him that 'Mon papa would love him, because he could tell such charming
stories,' and Lanty testified that 'M. le Comte was a mighty friendly
Arthur was lying asleep on deck, wrapped in his cloak, when he was
awakened by a commotion among the sailors. He started up and found
that it was early morning, the sun rising above the sea, and the
sailors all gazing eagerly in that direction. He eagerly made his way
to ask if they were in sight of land, recollecting, however, as he made
the first step, that Spain lay to the west of them--not to the east.
He distinguished the cry from the Genoese sailors, 'Ii Moro--Il Moro,'
in tones of horror and consternation, and almost at the same moment
received a shock from Maitre Hebert, who came stumbling against him.
'Pardon, pardon, Monsieur; I go to prepare Madame! It's the accursed
Moors. Let me pass--misericorde, what will become of us?'
Arthur struggled on in search of such of the crew as could speak
French, but all were in too much consternation to attend to him, and he
could only watch that to which their eyes were directed, a white sail,
bright in the morning light, coming up with a rapidity strange and
fearful in its precision, like a hawk pouncing on its prey, for it did
not depend on its sails alone, but was propelled by oars.
The next moment Madame de Bourke was on deck, holding by the Abbe's
arm, and Estelle, her hair on her shoulders, clinging to her. She
looked very pale, but her calmness was in contrast to the Italian
sailors, who were throwing themselves with gestures of despair,
screaming out vows to the Madonna and saints, and shouting
imprecations. The skipper came to speak to her. 'Madame,' he said, 'I
implore you to remain in your cabin. After the first, you and all
yours will be safe. They cannot harm a French subject; alas! alas
would it were so with us.'
'How then will it be with you?' she asked.
He made a gesture of deprecation.
'For me it will be ruin; for my poor fellows slavery; that is, if we
survive the onset. Madame, I entreat of you, take shelter in the
cabin, yourself and all yours. None can answer for what the first rush
of these fiends may be! Diavoli! veri diavola! Ah! for which of my
sins is it that after fifty voyages I should be condemned to lose my
A fresh outburst of screams from the crew summoned the captain. 'They
are putting out the long-boat,' was the cry; 'they will board us!'
'Madame! I entreat of you, shut yourself into the cabin.'
And the four maids in various stages of deshabille, adding their cries
to those of the sailors, tried to drag her in, but she looked about for
Arthur. 'Come with us, Monsieur,' she said quietly, for after all her
previous depressions and alarms, her spirit rose to endurance in the
actual stress of danger. 'Come with us, I entreat of you,' she said.
'You are named in our passports, and the treaties are such that neither
French nor English subjects can be maltreated nor enslaved by these
wretches. As the captain says, the danger is only in the first
'I will protect you, Madame, with my life,' declared Arthur, drawing
his sword, as his cheeks and eyes lighted.
'Ah, put that away. What could you do but lose your own?' cried the
lady. 'Remember, you have a mother--'
The Genoese captain here turned to insist that Madame and all the women
should shut themselves instantly into the cabin. Estelle dragged hard
at Arthur's hand, with entreaties that he would come, but he lifted her
down the ladder, and then closed the door on her, Lanty and he being
both left outside.
'To be shut into a hole like a rat in a trap when there's blows to the
fore, is more than flesh could stand,' said Lanty, who had seized on a
hand-spike and was waving it about his head, true shillelagh fashion,
by hereditary instinct in one who had never behold a faction fight, in
what ought to have been his native land.
The Genoese captain looked at him as a madman, and shouted in a
confused mixture of French and Italian to lay down his weapon.
'Quei cattivi--ces scelerats were armed to the teeth--would fire. All
lie flat on the deck.'
The gesture spoke for itself. With a fearful howl all the Italians
dropped flat; but neither Scotch nor Irish blood brooked to follow
their example, or perhaps fully perceived the urgency of the need, till
a volley of bullets were whistling about their ears, though happily
without injury, the mast and the rigging having protected them, for the
sail was riddled with holes, and the smoke dimmed their vision as the
report sounded in their ears. In another second the turbaned,
scimitared figures were leaping on board. The Genoese still lay flat
offering no resistance, but Lanty and Arthur stood on either side of
the ladder, and hurled back the two who first approached; but four or
five more rushed upon them, and they would have been instantly cut
down, had it not been for a shout from the Genoese, 'Franchi!
Franchi!' At that magic word, which was evidently understood, the
pirates only held the two youths tightly, vituperating them no doubt in
bad Arabic,--Lanty grinding his teeth with rage, though scarcely
feeling the pain of the two sabre cuts he had received, and pouring
forth a volley of exclamations, chiefly, however, directed against the
white-livered spalpeens of sailors, who had not lifted so much as a
hand to help him. Fortunately no one understood a word he said but
Arthur, who had military experience enough to know there was nothing
for it but to stand still in the grasp of his captor, a wiry-looking
Moor, with a fez and a striped sash round his waist.
The leader, a sturdy Turk in a dirty white turban, with a huge sabre in
his hand, was listening to the eager words, poured out with many
gesticulations by the Genoese captain, in a language utterly
incomprehensible to the Scot, but which was the lingua Franca of the
It resulted in four men being placed on guard at the hatchway leading
to the cabin, while all the rest, including Arthur, Hebert, Laurence,
were driven toward the prow, and made to understand by signs that they
must not move on peril of their lives. A Tuck was placed at the helm,
and the tartane's head turned towards the pirate captor; and all the
others, who were not employed otherwise, began to ransack the vessel
and feast on the provisions. Some hams were thrown overboard, with
shouts of evident scorn as belonging to the unclean beast, but the wine
was eagerly drank, and Maitre Hebert uttered a wail of dismay as he saw
five Moors gorging large pieces of his finest pate.
'They had na sailed upon the sea
A day but barely three,
When the lift grew dark and the wind blew cauld
And gurly grew the sea.
'Oh where will I find a little wee boy
Will tak my helm in hand,
Till I gae up to my top mast
And see for some dry land.'
SIR PATRICK SPENS.
It was bad enough on the deck of the unfortunate Genoese tartane, but
far worse below, where eight persons were shut into the stifling
atmosphere of the cabin, deprived of the knowledge of what was going on
above, except from the terrific sounds they heard. Estelle, on being
shut into the cabin, announced that the Phoenician ship was taken by
the vessels of Sesostris, but this did not afford any one else the same
satisfaction as she appeared to derive from it. Babette and Rosette
were echoing every scream of the crew, and quite certain that all would
be massacred, and little Ulysse, wakened by the hubbub, rolled round in
his berth and began to cry.
Madame de Bourke, very white, but quite calm, insisted on silence and
then said, 'I do not think the danger is very great to ourselves if you
will keep silence and not attract attention. But our hope is in
Heaven. My brother, will you lead our prayers? Recite our office.'
Obediently the Abbe fell on his knees, and his example was followed by
the others. His voice went monotonously on throughout with the Latin.
The lady, no doubt, followed in her heart, and she made the responses
as did the others, fitfully; but her hands and eyes were busy, looking
to the priming of two small pistols, which she took out of her jewel
case, and the sight of which provoked fresh shrieks from the maids.
Mademoiselle Julienne meantime was dressing Ulysse, and standing guard
over him, Estelle watching all with eager bright eyes, scarcely
frightened, but burning to ask questions, from which her uncle's
prayers debarred her.
At the volley of shot, Rosette was reduced to quiet by a swoon, but
Victorine, screaming that the wretches would have killed Laurent, would
have rushed on deck, had not her mistress forcibly withheld her. There
ensued a prodigious yelling and howling, trampling and scuffling, then
the sounds of strange languages in vituperation or command, steps
coming down the ladder, sounds of altercation, retreat, splashes in the
sea, the feeling that the ship was put about--and ever the trampling,
the wild cries of exultation, which over and over again made the
prisoners feel choked with the horror of some frightful crisis close at
hand. And all the time they were in ignorance, their little window in
the stern showed them nothing but sea; and even if Madame de Bourke's
determination had not hindered Victorine from peeping out of the cabin,
whether prison or fortress, the Moorish sentries outside kept the door
How long this continued was scarcely to be guessed. It was hours by
their own feelings; Ulysse began to cry from hunger, and his mother
gave him and Estelle some cakes that were within reach. Mademoiselle
Julienne begged her lady to share the repast, reminding her that she
would need all her strength. The Abbe, too, was hungry enough, and
some wine and preserved fruits coming to light all the prisoners made a
meal which heartened most of them considerably; although the heat was
becoming terrible, as the sun rose higher in the sky, and very little
air could be obtained through the window, so that poor Julienne could
not eat, and Rosette fell into a heavy sleep in the midst of her sighs.
Even Estelle, who had got out her Telemaque, like a sort of oracle in
the course of being verified, was asleep over it, when fresh noises and
grating sounds were board, new steps on deck, and there were steps and
voices. The Genoese captain was heard exclaiming, 'Open, Madame! you
can do so safely. This is the Algerine captain, who is bound to
The maids huddled together behind their lady, who stood forward as the
door opened to admit a stout, squarely-built man in the typical dress
of a Turk,--white turban, purple coat, broad sash crammed with weapons,
and ample trousers,--a truculent-looking figure which made the maids
shudder and embrace one another with suppressed shrieks, but which
somehow, even in the midst of his Eastern salaam, gave the Countess a
sense that he was acting a comedy, and carried her involuntarily back
to the Moors whom she had seen in the Cid on the stage. And looking
again, she perceived that though brown and weather-beaten, there was a
certain Northern ruddiness inherent in his complexion; that his eyes
were gray, so far as they were visible between the surrounding puckers;
and his eyebrows, moustache, and beard not nearly so dark as the hair
of the Genoese who stood cringing beside him as interpreter. She
formed her own conclusions and adhered to them, though he spoke in bad
Arabic to the skipper, who proceeded to explain that El Reis Hamed
would offer no injury to Madame la Comtesse, her suite or property,
being bound by treaty between the Dey and the King of France, but that
he required to see her passport. There was a little blundering in the
Italian's French rendering, and Madame de Bourke was quick to detect
the perception of it in the countenance of the Reis, stolid though it
was. She felt no doubt that he was a renegade of European birth, and
watched, with much anxiety as well as curiosity, his manner of dealing
with her passports, which she would not let out of her own hand. She
saw in a moment that though he let the Genoese begin to interpret them,
his eyes were following intelligently; and she hazarded the
observation, 'You understand, sir. You are Frank.'
He turned one startled glance towards the door to see if there were any
listeners, and answered, 'Hollander, Madame.'
The Countess had travelled with diplomatists all her life, and knew a
little of the vernacular of most languages, and it was in Dutch--broken
indeed, but still Dutch--that she declared that she was sure that she
might rely on his protection--a security which in truth she was far
from feeling; for while some of these unfortunate men, renegades only
from weakness, yearned after their compatriots and their lost home and
faith, others out-heroded the Moors themselves in ferocity, especially
towards the Christian captives; nor was a Dutchman likely to have any
special tenderness in his composition, above all towards the French.
However, there was a certain smile on the lips of Reis Hamed, and he
answered with a very hearty, 'Ja! ja! Madame. Upon my soul I will let
no harm come to you or the pretty little ones, nor the young vrouwkins
either, if they will keep close. You are safe by treaty. A Reis would
have to pay a heavy reckoning with Mehemed Dey if a French ambassador
had to complain of him, and you will bear me witness, Madame, that I
have not touched a hair of any of your heads!'
'I am sure you wish me well, sir,' said Madame de Bourke in a dignified
way, 'but I require to be certified of the safety of the rest of my
suite, my steward, my lackey, and my husband's secretary, a young
gentleman of noble birth.'
'They are safe, Madame. This Italian slave can bear me witness that no
creature has been harmed since my crew boarded this vessel.'
'I desire then that they may be released, as being named in my
To this the Dutchman consented.
Whereupon the skipper began to wring his hands, and piteously to
beseech Madame to intercede for him, but the Dutchman cut him short
before she could speak. 'Dog of an Italian, the lady knows better!
You and your fellows are our prize--poor enough after all the trouble
you have given us in chasing you.'
Madame de Bourke spoke kindly to the poor man, telling him that though
she could do nothing for him now, it was possible that she might when
she should have rejoined her husband, and she then requested the Reis
to land her and her suite in his long-boat on the Spanish coast, which
could be seen in the distance, promising him ample reward if he could
To this he replied: 'Madame, you ask what would be death to me.'
He went on to explain that if he landed her on Christian ground,
without first presenting her and her passport to the Dey and the French
Consul, his men might represent him as acting in the interests of the
Christians, and as a traitor to the Algerine power, by taking a bribe
from a person belonging to a hostile state, in which case the bowstring
would be the utmost mercy he could expect; and the reigning Dey,
Mehemed, having been only recently chosen, it was impossible to guess
how he might deal with such cases. Once at Algiers, he assured Madame
de Bourke that she would have nothing to fear, as she would be under
the protection of the French Consul; and she had no choice but to
submit, though much concerned for the continued anxiety to her husband,
as well as the long delay and uncertainty of finding him.
Still, when she perceived that it was inevitable, she complained no
more, and the Dutchman went on with a certain bluff kindness--as one
touched by her courtesy--to offer her the choice of remaining in the
tartane or coming on board his larger vessel. The latter he did not
recommend, as he had a crew of full two hundred Turks and Moors, and it
would be necessary to keep herself and all her women as closely as
possible secluded in the cabins; and even then, he added, that if once
seen he could hardly answer for some of those corsairs not endeavouring
to secure a fair young Frank girl for his harem; and as his eye fell on
Rosette, she bridled and hid herself behind Mademoiselle Julienne.
He must, he said, remove all the Genoese, but he would send on board
the tartane only seven men on whom he could perfectly depend for
respectful behaviour, so that the captives would be able to take the
air on deck as freely as before. There was no doubt that he was in
earnest, and the lady accepted his offer with thanks, all the stronger
since she and all around her were panting and sick for want of fresh
It was a great relief when he took her on deck with him that she might
identify the three men whom she claimed as belonging to her suite.
Arthur, Lanty, and Hebert, who, in their vague knowledge of the
circumstances, had been dreading the oar for the rest of their lives,
could hardly believe their good fortune when she called them up to her,
and the Abbe gripped Lanty's arm as if he would never let him go again.
The poor Italians seemed to feel their fate all the harder for the
deliverance of those three, and sobbed, howled, and wept so piteously
that Arthur wondered how strong men could so give way, while Lanty's
tears sprang forth in sympathy, and he uttered assurances and made
signs that he would never cease to pray for their rescue.
'Though,' as he observed, 'they were poor creatures that hadn't the
heart of a midge, when there was such a chance of a fight while the
haythen spalpeens were coming on board.'
Here Lanty was called on to assist Hebert in identifying his lady's
bales of goods, when all those of the unfortunate Genoese were put on
board the corsair's vessel. A sail-cloth partition was extended across
the deck by the care of the Dutchman, 'who'--as Lanty said--'for a
haythen apostate was a very dacent man.' He evidently had a strong
compassion and fellow-feeling for the Christian lady, and assured her
that she might safely take the air and sit on deck as much as she
pleased behind its shelter; and he likewise carefully selected the
seven of his crew whom he sent on board to work the ship, the chief
being a heavy-looking old Turk, with a chocolate-coloured visage
between a huge white beard and eyebrows, and the others mere lads,
except one, who, from an indefinable European air about him, was
evidently a renegade, and could speak a sort of French, so as to hold
communication with the captives, especially Lanty, who was much quicker
than any of the rest in picking up languages, perhaps from having from
his infancy talked French and English (or rather Irish), and likewise
learnt Latin with his foster-brother. This man was the only one
permitted to go astern of the partition, in case of need, to attend to
the helm; but the vessel was taken in tow by the corsair, and needed
little management. The old Turk seemed to regard the Frankish women
like so many basilisks, and avoided turning a glance in their
direction, roaring at his crew if he only saw them approaching the
sail-cloth, and keeping a close watch upon the lithe black-eyed youths,
whose brown limbs carried them up the mast with the agility of monkeys.
There was one in especial--a slight, well-made fellow about twenty,
with a white turban cleaner than the rest--who contrived to cast
wonderful glances from the masthead over the barrier at Rosette, who
actually smiled in return at ce pauvre garcon, and smiled the more for
Mademoiselle Julienne's indignation. Suddenly, however, a shrill shout
made him descend hastily, and the old Turk's voice might be heard in
its highest key, no doubt shrieking out maledictions on all the
ancestry of the son of a dog who durst defile his eyes with gazing at
the shameless daughters of the Frank. Little Ulysse was, however,
allowed to disport himself wherever he pleased; and after once, under
Arthur's protection, going forward, he found himself made very welcome,
and offered various curiosities, such as shells, corals, and a curious
dried little hippocampus or seahorse.
This he brought back in triumph, to the extreme delight of his sister's
classical mind. 'Oh mamma, mamma,' she cried, 'Ulysse really has got
the skeleton of a Triton. It is exactly like the stone creatures in
the Champs Elysees.'
There was no denying the resemblance, and it so increased the confusion
in Estelle's mind between the actual and the mythological, that Arthur
told her that she was looking out for the car of Amphitrite to arise
from the waters. Anxiety and trouble had made him much better
acquainted with Madame de Bourke, who was grateful to him for his
kindness to her children, and not without concern as to whether she
should be able to procure his release as well as her own at Algiers.
For Laurence Callaghan she had no fears, since he was born at Paris,
and a naturalised French subject like her husband and his brother; but
Arthur was undoubtedly a Briton, and unless she could pass him off as
one of her suite, it would depend on the temper of the English Consul
whether he should be viewed as a subject or as a rebel, or simply left
to captivity until his Scottish relations should have the choice of
She took a good deal of pains to explain the circumstances to him as
well as to all who could understand them; for though she hoped to keep
all together, and to be able to act for them herself, no one could
guess how they might be separated, and she could not shake off that
foreboding of misfortune which had haunted her from the first.
The kingdom of Algiers was, she told them, tributary to the Turkish
Sultan, who kept a guard of Janissaries there, from among whom they
themselves elected the Dey. He was supposed to govern by the consent
of a divan, but was practically as despotic as any Eastern sovereign;
and the Aga of the Janissaries was next in authority to him. Piracy on
the Mediterranean was, as all knew, the chief occupation of the Turks
and Moors of any spirit or enterprise, a Turk being in authority in
each vessel to secure that the Sultan had his share, and that the
capture was so conducted as not to involve Turkey in dangerous wars
with European powers. Capture by the Moors had for several centuries
been one of the ordinary contingencies of a voyage, and the misfortune
that had happened to the party was not at all an unusual one.
In 1687, however, the nuisance had grown to such a height that Admiral
Du Quesne bombarded the town of Algiers, and destroyed all the
fortifications, peace being only granted on condition that a French
Consul should reside at Algiers, and that French ships and subjects
should be exempt from this violence of the corsairs.
The like treaties existed with the English, but had been very little
heeded by the Algerines till recently, when the possession of Gibraltar
and Minorca had provided harbours for British ships, which exercised a
salutary supervision over these Southern sea-kings. The last Dey, Baba
Hali, had been a wise and prudent man, anxious to repress outrage, and
to be on good terms with the two great European powers; but he had died
in the spring of the current year, 1718, and the temper of his
successor, Mehemed, had not yet been proved.
Madame de Bourke had some trust in the Dutch Reis, renegade though he
was. She had given him her beautiful watch, set with brilliants, and
he had taken it with a certain gruff reluctance, declaring that he did
not want it,--he was ready enough to serve her without such a toy.
Nevertheless the lady thought it well to impress on each and all, in
case of any separation or further disaster, that their appeal must be
to the French Consul, explaining minutely the forms in which it should
'I cannot tell you,' she said to Arthur, 'how great a comfort it is to
me to have with me a gentleman, one of intelligence and education to
whom I can confide my poor children. I know you will do your utmost to
protect them and restore them to their father.'
'With my very heart's blood, Madame.'
'I hope that may not be asked of you, Monsieur,' she returned with a
faint smile,--'though I fear there may be much of perplexity and
difficulty in the way before again rejoining him. You see where I have
placed our passports? My daughter knows it likewise; but in case of
their being taken from you, or any other accident happening to you, I
have written these two letters, which you had better bear about your
person. One is, as you see, to our Consul at Algiers, and may serve as
credentials; the other is to my husband, to whom I have already written
'A thousand thanks, Madame,' returned Arthur. 'But I hope and trust we
may all reach M. le Comte in safety together. You yourself said that
you expected only a brief detention before he could be communicated
with, and this captain, renegade though he be, evidently has a respect
'That is quite true,' she returned, 'and it may only be my foolish
heart that forebodes evil; nevertheless, I cannot but recollect that
c'est l'imprevu qui arrive.'
'Then, Madame, that is the very reason there should be no misfortune,'
It was on the second day after the capture of the tartane that the sun
set in a purple angry-looking bank of cloud, and the sea began to heave
in a manner which renewed the earlier distresses of the voyage to such
as were bad sailors. The sails both of the corsair and of the tartane
were taken in, and it was plain that a rough night was to be expected.
The children were lashed into their berths, and all prepared themselves
to endure. The last time Arthur saw Madame de Bourke's face, by the
light of the lamp swinging furiously from the cabin roof, as he
assisted in putting in the dead lights, it bore the same fixed
expression of fortitude and resignation as when she was preparing to be
boarded by the pirates.
He remained on deck, but it was very perilous, for the vessel was so
low in the water that the waves dashed over it so wildly that he could
hardly help being swept away. It was pitch dark, too, and the lantern
of the other vessel could only just be seen, now high above their
heads, now sinking in the trouble of the sea, while the little tartane
was lifted up as though on a mountain; and in a kind of giddy dream, he
thought of falling headlong upon her deck. Finally he found himself
falling. Was he washed overboard? No; a sharp blow showed him that he
had only fallen down the hatchway, and after lying still a moment, he
heard the voices of Lanty and Hebert, and presently they were all
tossed together by another lurch of the ship.
It was a night of miseries that seemed endless, and when a certain
amount of light appeared, and Arthur and Lanty crawled upon deck, the
tempest was unabated. They found themselves still dashed, as if their
vessel were a mere cork, on the huge waves; rushes of water coming over
them, whether from sea or sky there was no knowing, for all seemed
blended together in one mass of dark lurid gray; and where was the
Algerine ship--so lately their great enemy, now watched for as their
guide and guardian?
It was no place nor time for questions, even could they have been heard
or understood. It was scarcely possible even to be heard by one
another, and it was some time before they convinced themselves that the
large vessel had disappeared. The cable must have parted in the night,
and they were running with bare poles before the gale; the seamanship
of the man at the helm being confined to avoiding the more direct blows
of the waves, on the huge crests of which the little tartane rode--
gallantly perhaps in mariners' eyes, but very wretchedly to the
feelings of the unhappy landsmen within her.
Arthur thought of St. Paul, and remembered with dismay that it was many
days before sun or moon appeared. He managed to communicate his
recollection to Lanty, who exclaimed, 'And he was a holy man, and he
was a prisoner too. He will feel for us if any man can in this sore
strait! Sancte Paule, ora pro nobis. An' haven't I got the blessed
scapulary about me neck that will bring me through worse than this?'
The three managed to get down to tell the unfortunate inmates of the
cabin what was the state of things, and to carry them some food, though
at the expense of many falls and severe blows; and almost all of them
were too faint or nauseated to be able to swallow such food as could
survive the transport under such circumstances. Yet high-spirited
little Estelle entreated to be carried on deck, to see what a storm was
like. She had read of them so often, and wanted to see as well as to
feel. She was almost ready to cry when Arthur assured her it was quite
impossible, and her mother added a grave order not to trouble him.
Madame de Bourke looked so exhausted by the continual buffeting and the
closeness of the cabin, and her voice was so weak, that Arthur grieved
over the impossibility of giving her any air. Julienne tried to make
her swallow some eau de vie; but the effort of steadying her hand
seemed too much for her, and after a terrible lurch of the ship, which
lodged the poor bonne in the opposite corner of the cabin, the lady
shook her head and gave up the attempt. Indeed, she seemed so worn out
that Arthur--little used to the sight of fainting--began to fear that
her forebodings of dying before she could rejoin her husband were on
the point of being realised.
However, the gale abated towards evening, and the youth himself was so
much worn out that the first respite was spent in sleep. When he
awoke, the sea was much calmer, and the eastern sun was rising in glory
over it; the Turks, with their prayer carpets in a line, were
simultaneously kneeling and bowing in prayer, with their faces turned
towards it. Lanty uttered an only too emphatic curse upon the
misbelievers, and Arthur vainly tried to make him believe that their
'Allah il Allah' was neither addressed to Mohammed nor the sun.
'Sure and if not, why did they make their obeisance to it all one as
the Persians in the big history-book Master Phelim had at school?'
'It's to the east they turn Lanty, not to the sun.'
'And what right have the haythen spalpeens to turn to the east like
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