Captain Frederick Marryat
Part 3 out of 9
latter was not to be seen either by vessels passing by, or by those who
might be adventurous enough to peep over the ridge above; and fragments
of rocks, dispersed here and there on this flat, or platform, induced
people to imagine that the upper cliff was a continuation of the lower.
The lower cliff, on which this platform in front of the cave was
situated, was on the eastern side as abrupt as on that fronting the sea
to the southward; but on the western side, its height was decreased to
about fifteen feet, which was surmounted by a ladder removed at
pleasure. To this means of access to the cave there was a zigzag path,
used only by the smugglers, leading from the small cove, and another
much more tedious, by which they could transport their goods to the
summit of this apparently inaccessible mass of rocks. The cave itself
was large, and with several diverging galleries, most of which were dry;
but in one or two there was a continual filtering of clear pure water
through the limestone rock, which was collected in pits dug for that
purpose on the floor below; these pits were always full of water, the
excess being carried off by small open drains which trickled over the
eastern side of the platform. Some attention to comfort had been paid by
the inhabitants of these caverns, which were portioned off here and
there by sail-cloth and boards, so as to form separate rooms and
storehouses. The cookery was carried on outside at the edge of the
platform nearest the sea, under an immense fragment of rock, which lay
at the very edge; and by an ingenious arrangement of smaller portions of
the rock neither the flame was to be distinguished, nor was the smoke,
which was divided and made to find its passage through a variety of
fissures, never in such a volume as to be supposed to be anything more
than the vapours drawn up by the heat of the sun.
In this abode there were at least thirty people residing, and generally
speaking, it might be called a convent, for it was tenanted by women.
Their husbands, who brought over the cargoes, returning immediately in
their boat to the opposite shore, for two reasons; one, that their boats
could only land in particular seasons, and could never remain in the
cove without risk of being dashed to pieces; and the other, that the
absence of all men prevented suspicion; the whole of the interior
smuggling being carried on by the other sex, who fearlessly showed
themselves on every part of the island, and purchased their necessary
supplies of provisions here and there, without exciting any misgivings
as to the nature of their employment. A few isolated cottages, not far
from the beetling brow of the cliff above, were their supposed abodes;
but no one ever troubled them with a visit, and if they did, and found
that they could gain no admittance, they imagined that the occupants had
locked their doors for security, while they were busied with their
labours in the field. Accustomed to climb up the tortuous path from the
cave to the summit, the women would, on the darkest night, carry up
their burdens and deposit them in the cottages above, until they had an
opportunity of delivering their contraband articles into the hands of
their agents; and this traffic had been carried on for many years,
without the government or excise having the slightest suspicion by what
means the smuggling was accomplished. As we before observed, the great
articles in request, and which were now smuggled from France, were
alamodes and lutestrings. The attention of government had been called to
check the admission of these goods, but hitherto their attempts had not
been attended with much success.
At the grey of the morning after the attempt to seize the smugglers had
been defeated by the instrumentality of Snarleyyow, upon the top of the
immense fragment of the rock which we have described as lying upon the
sea-edge of the platform, was perched a fair, slight-made little girl,
of about twelve years of age. She was simply clad in a short worsted
petticoat and bodice of a dark colour; her head was bare, and her hair
fluttered with the breeze; her small feet, notwithstanding the severity
of the weather, were also naked, and her short petticoat discovered her
legs half way up to the knee. She stood there, within a few inches of
the precipice below, carelessly surveying the waves as they dashed over
the rocks, for she was waiting until the light would enable her to see
further on the horizon. By those who might have leaned over the ridge
above, as well as by those who sailed below, she might have been taken,
had she been seen to move, for some sea bird reposing after a flight, so
small was her frame in juxtaposition with the wildness and majesty of
nature which surrounded her on every side. Accustomed from infancy to
her mode of life, and this unusual domicile, her eye quailed not, nor
did her heart beat quicker, as she looked down into the abyss below, or
turned her eyes up to the beetling mass of rock which appeared, each
moment, ready to fall down and overwhelm her. She passed her hand across
her temples to throw back the hair which the wind had blown over her
eyes, and again scanned the distance as the sun's light increased, and
the fog gradually cleared away.
"A sharp look out, Lilly, dear; you've the best eyes among us, and we
must have a clue from whence last night's surprise proceeded."
"I can see nothing yet, mother; but the fog is driving back fast."
"It's but a cheerless night your poor father had, to pull twice across
the channel, and find himself just where he was. God speed them, and may
they be safe in port again by this time."
"I say so too, mother, and amen."
"D'ye see nothing, child?"
"Nothing, dear mother; but it clears up fast to the eastward, and the
sun is bursting out of the bank, and I think I see something under
"Watch well, Lilly," replied the woman, who was throwing more wood on
"I see a vessel, mother. It is a sloop beating to the eastward."
"A coaster, child?"
"No, mother, I think not. No, it is no coaster--it is that king's
vessel, I think, but the glare of the sun is too great. When he rises
higher I shall make it out better."
"Which do you mean, the king's cutter on the station, the _Yungfrau_?"
"Yes, mother," replied Lilly, "it is. I'm sure it is the _Yungfrau_."
"Then it is from her that the boats came last night. She must have
received some information. There must be treachery somewhere; but we'll
soon find that out."
It may appear singular that Lilly could speak so positively as to a
vessel at a great distance; but it must be remembered that she had been
brought up to it, nearly all her life. It was her profession, and she
had lived wholly with seamen and seamen's wives, which will account for
her technical language being so correct. What Lilly said was true; it
was the _Yungfrau_, which was beating up to regain her port, and having
to stem a strong ebb-tide during the night, had not made very
"There are three other vessels in the offing," said Lilly, looking
round, "a ship and two brigs, both going down channel:" and as she said
this, the little thing dropped lightly from rock to rock till she stood
by her mother, and commenced rubbing her hands before the now
"Nancy must go over to Portsmouth," observed the mother, "and find out
all about this. I hardly know whom to suspect; but let Nancy alone,
she'll ferret out the truth--she has many gossips at the Point. Whoever
informed against the landing, must know of this cave."
But we must introduce the mother of Lilly to the reader. She was a tall,
finely-featured woman, her arms beautifully moulded, and bare. She was
rather inclined to be stout, but her figure was magnificent. She was
dressed in the same costume as her daughter, with the exception of a net
worsted shawl of many colours over her shoulders. Her appearance gave
you the idea that she was never intended for the situation which she was
now in; but of that hereafter. As the reader may have observed, her
language was correct, as was that of the child, and proved that she had
not only been educated herself, but had paid attention to the bringing
up of Lilly. The most perfect confidence appeared to subsist between the
mother and daughter: the former treated her child as her equal, and
confided everything to her; and Lilly was far advanced beyond her age in
knowledge and reflection; her countenance beamed with intelligence;
perhaps a more beautiful and more promising creature never existed.
A third party now appeared from the cave; although not in canonicals,
his dress indicated his profession of a priest. He approached the
mother and daughter with, "Peace be with you, ladies."
"You forget, good father," replied the elder of the females, "my name is
"I crave pardon for my forgetting who you were. I will be more mindful.
Well, then, Alice--yet that familiar term sounds strangely, and my
tongue will not accustom itself, even were I to remain here weeks,
instead of but two days--I was about to say, that the affair of last
night was most untoward. My presence is much wished for, and much
required, at St Germains. It was unfortunate, because it proves that we
have traitors among us somewhere; but of that, and of the whole affair,
I will have cognizance in a few days."
"And should you discover the party?"
"His doom is sealed."
"You are right."
"In so important and so righteous a cause, we must not stop at aught
necessary to secure our purpose. But, tell me, think you that your
husband will soon be here again?"
"I should think not to-night, but to-morrow or the next he will be off;
and if we can show the signals of surety he will land, if the weather
"'Tis indeed time that I were over. Something might now be done."
"I would so too, father; it is a tedious time that I have spent here."
"And most unfitting for you, were it not that you laboured in a great
cause; but it must soon be decided, and then that fair lily shall be
transplanted, like a wild flower from the rock, and be nurtured in a
"Nay, for that, the time is hardly come. She is better here, as you see
her, father, than in the chambers of a court. For her sake I would still
remain; but for my husband's sake, and the perils he encounters, I wish
that one way or the other it were decided."
"Had there been faith in that Italian, it had been so before how,"
replied the priest, grinding his teeth, and turning away.
But the conversation was closed at the appearance of some women who came
out of the cave. They were variously clothed, some coarsely, and others
with greater pretensions to finery: they brought with them the
implements for cooking, and appeared surprised at the fire being already
lighted. Among them was one about twenty-five years of age, and although
more faded than she ought to have been at that early age, still with
pretensions to almost extreme beauty. She was more gaily dressed than
the others, and had a careless, easy air about her, which suited to her
handsome, slight figure. It was impossible to see her without being
interested, and desiring to know who she was.
This person was the Nancy mentioned by Alice in her conversation with
Lilly. Her original name had been Nancy Dawson, but she had married one
of the smugglers, of the name of Corbett. Her original profession,
previous to her marriage, we will not dwell upon; suffice it to say,
that she was the most celebrated person of that class in Portsmouth,
both for her talent and extreme beauty. Had she lived in the days of
King Charles II., and had he seen her, she would have been more renowned
than ever was Eleanor Gwynne; even as it was, she had been celebrated in
a song, which has not been lost to posterity. After a few years of
dissipated life, Nancy reformed, and became an honest woman, and an
honest wife. By her marriage with the smuggler, she had become one of
the fraternity, and had taken up her abode in the cave, which she was
not sorry to do, as she had become too famous at Portsmouth to remain
there as a married woman. Still she occasionally made her appearance,
and to a certain degree kept up her old acquaintances, that she might
discover what was going on--very necessary information for the
smugglers. She would laugh, and joke, and have her repartee as usual,
but in other points she was truly reformed. Her acquaintance was so
general, and she was such a favourite, that she was of the greatest use
to the band, and was always sent over to Portsmouth when her services
were required. It was supposed there, for she had reported it, that she
had retired to the Isle of Wight, and lived there with her husband, who
was a pilot, and that she came over to Portsmouth occasionally, to
inquire after her old friends, and upon business.
"Nancy Corbett, I must speak to you," said Alice. "Come aside: I wish
you, Nancy, to go over immediately. Can you go up, do you think, without
"Yes, Mistress Alice, provided there is no one to see me."
"The case is so important, that we must run the risk."
"We've run cargoes of more value than that."
"But still you must use discretion, Nancy."
"That's a commodity that I've not been very well provided with through
life; but I have my wits in its stead."
"Then you must use your wit, Nancy."
"It's like an old knife, well worn, but all the sharper."
Alice then entered into a detail of what she would find out, and gave
her instructions to Nancy. The first point was, to ascertain whether it
was the cutter which had received the information; the second, who the
Nancy, having received her orders, tied the strings of her bonnet,
caught up a handful of the victuals which were at the fire, and bidding
the others a laughing good-bye, with her mouth full, and one hand also
occupied, descended the ladder, previously to mounting the cliff.
"Nancy," said Lilly, who stood by the ladder, "bring me some pens."
"Yes, dear; will you have them alive, or dead?"
"Nonsense, I mean some quills."
"So do I, Miss Lilly; but if you want them dead, I shall bring them in
my pocket--if alive, I shall bring the goose under my arm."
"I only want the quills, Nancy," replied Lilly, laughing.
"And I think I shall want the feathers of them before I'm at the top,"
replied Nancy, looking up at the majestic cliff above her. "Good-bye,
Nancy Corbett again filled her handsome mouth with bread, and commenced
her ascent. In less than a quarter of an hour she had disappeared over
In which there is a great deal of plotting, and a little execution.
We will follow Nancy Corbett for the present. Nancy gained the summit of
the cliff, and panting for breath, looked round to ascertain if there
was any one in sight, but the coast was clear: she waited a minute to
recover herself a little, and then set off at a brisk pace in the
direction of the hamlet of Ryde, which then consisted of a few
fishermen's huts. It was an hour and a-half before she gained this
place, from whence she took a boat, and was safely landed at the Point.
The fisherman who brought her over was an old acquaintance of Nancy's,
and knew that he would have to remain to take her back, but he was well
paid for his trouble, and it was a lucky day for him when Nancy required
his services. The _Yungfrau_ had rounded St Helen's, and was standing
into Spithead, when Nancy landed, and the first door at which she
knocked was at the lodgings of Moggy Salisbury, with whom she was well
acquainted, and from whom she expected to be able to gain information.
On inquiry, she found that Moggy had not come on shore from the cutter,
which had sailed during the night very unexpectedly.
This information pleased Nancy, as Moggy would in all probability be
able to give her important information, and she took up her quarters in
Moggy's apartments, anxiously awaiting her arrival, for Nancy was not at
all desirous to be seen. In due time the cutter was again anchored in
the harbour, and the first order of Mr Vanslyperken's was, that Moggy
Salisbury should be sent on shore, which order was complied with, and
she left the vessel, vowing vengeance upon the lieutenant and his dog.
The informer also hastened into a boat, and pulled on shore on the
Gosport side, with a very significant farewell look at Mr Vanslyperken.
Moggy landed, and hastened, full of wrath, to her own lodgings, where
she found Nancy Corbett waiting for her. At first she was too full of
her own injuries, and the attempt to flog her dear darling Jemmy, to
allow Nancy to put in a word. Nancy perceived this, and allowed her to
run herself down like a clock; and then proposed that they should send
for some purl and have a cosy chat, to which Moggy agreed, and as soon
as they were fairly settled, and Moggy had again delivered herself of
her grievances, Nancy put the requisite questions, and discovered what
the reader is already acquainted with. She requested, and obtained a
full description of the informer, and his person was too remarkable, for
Nancy not to recognise immediately who it was.
"The villain!" cried she; "why, if there was any man in whom we thought
we could trust, it was--him;" for Nancy had, in her indignation, nearly
pronounced his name.
"Nancy," said Moggy, "you have to do with the smugglers, I know, for
your husband is one of them, if report says true. Now, I've been
thinking, that the cutter is no place for my Jemmy, and that with this
peak-nosed villain, he will always be in trouble. Tell me, will they let
him in, if he volunteers."
"I can't exactly say, Moggy; but this I can tell you, that you may be
very useful to them in giving us information, which you may gain through
"Ay, and not only through my husband, but from everybody on board the
cutter. I'm yours, Nancy--and here's my hand on it--you'll see what I
can do. The wagabond, to attempt to flog my own dear, darling duck--my
own Jemmy. Only tell me what you want to know, and if I don't ferret it
out, my name's not Moggy. But hear me, Nancy; I join you now hand and
heart, though I gain nothing by it; and when you choose to have him,
I'll bring you my little duck of a husband, and he will be worth his
weight in gold, though I say it that shouldn't say it."
"Thanky, Moggy; but you shall not work for nothing;" and Nancy laid a
gold Jacobus on the table.
"This for your present information. Be secret and cautious, and no
gossiping, and you'll find that you shall have all you wish, and be no
loser in the bargain. And now, good-night--I must be away. You shall see
me soon, Moggy; and remember what I have told you."
Moggy was astonished at the sight of the gold Jacobus, which she took up
and examined as Nancy departed. "Well," thought she, "but this smuggling
must be a pretty consarn; and as sure as gold is gold, my Jemmy shall be
Nancy turned down the street, and passed rapidly on, until she was clear
of the fortifications, in the direction of South Sea Beach. A few
scattered cottages were at that time built upon the spot. It was quite
dark as she passed the lines, and held her way over the shingle. A man
was standing alone, whose figure she recognised. It was the very person
that she wished to find. Nancy watched him for awhile, and observed him
pull out a paper, tear it in two, and throw it down with gesticulations
of anger and indignation. She then approached.
"What's o'clock?" said Nancy.
"Do you want the right time?" replied the man.
"To a minute," replied Nancy, who, finding that the password was given
correctly, now stopped, and faced the other party. "Is that you,
"Yes, Nancy," replied the man, who, was the same person who went on
board of the cutter to give the information.
"I have been seeking you," replied Nancy. "There has been some
information laid, and the boats were nearly surprised. Alice desires
that you will find out what boats entered the cove, whom they belonged
to, and, if possible, how they obtained the information."
"Boats nearly surprised!--you don't say so," replied Cornbury, with
affected astonishment. "This must indeed be looked to. Have you
"None," replied Nancy. "There was no vessel to be seen the next
morning--the fog was too thick. Have you seen Wahop?"
"No; I thought he was on the Isle."
"He ought to have been, but has not come; I have been at the oak-tree
for three nights running. It's very strange. Do you think that he can
have played false?"
"I never much liked the man," replied Cornbury.
"Nor I either," replied Nancy; "but I must go now, for I must be back at
the crags before daylight. Find out what you can, and let us know as
soon as possible. I shall be over again as soon as the cargo is run; if
you find out anything, you had better come to-morrow night."
"I will," replied Cornbury; and the parties separated.
"Traitor," muttered Nancy, when she was once more alone. "If he comes,
it shall be to his death;" and Nancy stooped down, picked up the pieces
of paper which Cornbury had torn up, and put them in the basket she
carried on her arm.
It will be observed that Nancy had purposely thrown out hints against
Wahop, to induce Cornbury to believe that he was not suspected. Her
assertion that Wahop was not on the island was false. He had been three
days at Ryde, according to the arrangement. The bait took. Cornbury
perceiving that the suspicion was against Wahop, thought that he could
not do better than to boldly make his appearance at the cave, which
would remove any doubts as to his own fidelity.
Nancy hastened down to the Point, and returned that night to Ryde, from
whence she walked over to the cave, and was there before daylight. She
communicated to Alice the intelligence which she had received from
Moggy Salisbury, and the arrangements she had proposed to her, by which
the motions of the cutter could be known.
"Is that woman to be trusted, think you, Nancy?" inquired Alice.
"Yes, I believe sincerely she may be. I have known her long; and she
wishes her husband to join us."
"We must reflect upon it. She may be most useful. What is the character
of the officer who commands the vessel?"
"A miser, and a coward. He is well known--neither honour nor conscience
"The first is well, as we may act upon it, but the second renders him
doubtful. You are tired, Nancy, and had better lie down a little."
Nancy Corbett delivered the pens to Lilly, and then took the advice of
her superior. The day was remarkably fine, and the water smooth, so that
the boats were expected that night. At dusk two small lights, at even
distances, were suspended from the cliff, to point out to the boats that
the coast was free, and that they might land. Alice, however, took the
precaution to have a watch on the beach, in case of any second surprise
being attempted; but of this there was little fear, as she knew from
Nancy, that all the cutter's boats were on board when she entered the
harbour. Lilly, who thought it a delight to be one moment sooner in her
father's arms, had taken the watch on the beach, and there the little
girl remained perched upon a rock, at the foot of which the waves now
only sullenly washed, for the night was beautifully calm and clear. To a
passer on the ocean she might have been mistaken for a mermaid who had
left her watery bower to look upon the world above.
What were the thoughts of the little maiden as she remained there fixed
as a statue? Did she revert to the period at which her infant memory
could retrace silken hangings and marble halls, visions of splendour,
dreamings of courtly state, or was she thinking of her father, as her
quick ear caught the least swell of the increasing breeze? Was she, as
her eye was fixed as if attempting to pierce the depths of the ocean,
wondering at what might be its hidden secrets, or as they were turned
towards the heavens, bespangled with ten thousand stars, was she
meditating on the God who placed them there? Who can say?--but that that
intellectual face bespoke the mind at work is certain, and from one so
pure and lovely could emanate nothing but what was innocent and good.
But a distant sound falls upon her ear; she listens, and by its measured
cadence knows that it is the rowers in a boat: nearer it comes and more
distinct, and now her keen eye detects the black mass approaching in the
gloom of night. She starts from the rock ready to fly up to the cave to
give notice of an enemy, or, if their anticipated friends, to fly into
the arms of her father. But her alarm is over, she perceives that it is
the lugger, the boat dashes into the cove, and the first who lands
strains her to his bosom.
"My dearest Lilly, is all well?"
"Yes, all is well, father; but you are well come."
"Run up, dearest, and let the women be ready to assist. We have that
here which must soon be out of sight. Is the Father Innis here?"
"Since Thursday last."
"'Tis well, dear; you may go. Quick, my lads, and beach the cargo:--see
to it, Ramsay; I must at once unto the cave." Having given these
directions, the father of Lilly commenced his ascent over the rough and
steep rocks which led up to the cavern, anxious to obtain what
information could be imparted relative to the treachery which had led to
their narrow escape two nights preceding.
He was met by Alice, who cordially embraced him; but he appeared anxious
to release himself from her endearments, that he might at once enter
upon matters to him of more serious importance. "Where is the Father
Innis, my dear?" said he, disengaging himself from her arms.
"He sleeps, Robert, or, at least, he did just now, but probably he will
rise now that you are come. But in the meantime, I have discovered who
the traitor is."
"By all the saints, he shall not escape my vengeance!"
Alice then entered into the particulars related by Nancy Corbett, and
already known to the reader. She had just concluded when Father Innis
made his appearance from the cave.
"Welcome, thrice welcome, holy father."
"Welcome, too, my son. Say, do we start to-night?"
"Not till to-morrow night," replied the husband of Alice, who having
ascertained that in all probability Cornbury would come that night,
determined, at all risks, to get possession of him: "we could well be
over before daylight, and with your precious person, I must not risk too
much. You are anxiously expected."
"And I have important news," replied the priest; "but I will not detain
you now; I perceive that your presence is wanted by your men."
During this colloquy the women had descended the ladder, and had been
assisting the men to carry up the various packages of which the boat's
cargo consisted, and they now awaited directions as to the stowing away.
"Ramsay," said the leader, "we do not return to-night; take the men, and
contrive to lift the boat up on the rocks, so that she may not
An hour elapsed before this was effected, and then the leader, as well
as the rest of the smugglers, retired to the cave to refresh themselves
with sleep after their night of fatigue. As usual, one woman kept watch,
and that woman was Nancy Corbett. The ladder had been hauled up, and she
was walking up and down, with her arms under a shawl, to a sort of
stamping trot, for the weather was frosty, when she heard a low whistle
at the west side of the flat.
"Oh, ho! have I lured you, you traitorous villain?" muttered Nancy, "you
come in good time:" and Nancy walked to the spot where the ladder was
usually lowered down, and looked over. Although the moon had risen, it
was too dark on that side of the platform to distinguish more than that
there was a human form, who repeated the whistle.
"What's o'clock?" said Nancy, in a low tone.
"Do you want the right time to a minute?" replied a voice, which was
recognised as Cornbury's. Nancy lowered down the ladder, and Cornbury
ascended the platform.
"I am glad you are come, Cornbury. Have you heard anything of Wahop?"
"No one has seen or heard of him," replied the man, "but I have found
out what boats they were. Did the lugger come over to-night?"
"Yes," replied Nancy, "but I must go in and let Mistress Alice know that
you are here."
Nancy's abrupt departure was to prevent Cornbury from asking if the boat
had remained, or returned to the French coast; for she thought it not
impossible that the unusual circumstance of the boat remaining, might
induce him to suppose that his treachery had been discovered, and to
make his immediate escape, which he, of course, could have done, and
given full information of the cave and the parties who frequented it.
Nancy soon re-appeared, and familiarly taking the arm of Cornbury, led
him to the eastern side of the platform, asking him many questions. As
soon as he was there, the leader of the gang, followed by half a dozen
of his men, rushed out and secured him. Cornbury now felt assured that
all was discovered, and that his life was forfeited. "Bind him fast,"
said the leader, "and keep watch over him;--his case shall soon be
disposed of. Nancy, you will call me at daylight."
When Cornbury had been secured, the men returned into the cave, leaving
one with a loaded pistol to guard him. Nancy still remained on
"Nancy Corbett," said Cornbury, "why am I treated thus?"
"Why?" replied Nancy, with scorn; "ask yourself why. Do you think that
I did not know when I sought you at the beach that you had sailed in the
cutter, had brought the boats here, and that if it had not been for the
lieutenant taking his dog in the boat, and its barking, you would have
delivered us all into the hands of the Philistines?--wretched traitor."
"D--n!" muttered Cornbury; "then it is to you, you devil, that I am
indebted for being entrapped this way."
"Yes, to me," replied Nancy, with scorn. "And, depend upon it, you will
have your deserts before the sun is one hour in the heavens."
"Mistress Nancy, I must beg you to walk your watch like a lady, and not
to be corresponding with my prisoner anyhow, whether you talk raison or
traison, as may happen to suit your convanience," observed the man who
was guard over Cornbury.
"Be aisy, my jewel," replied Nancy, mimicking the Irishman, "and I'll be
as silent as a magpie, anyhow. And, Mr Fitzpatrick, you'll just be
pleased to keep your two eyes upon your prisoner, and not be staring at
me, following me up and down, as you do, with those twinklers of yours."
"A cat may look at a king, Mistress Nancy, and no harm done either."
"You forget, Mr Fitzpatrick," replied Nancy, "that I am now a modest
"More's the pity, Mrs Nancy, I wish you'd forget it too, and I dying of
love for you."
Nancy walked away to the end of the platform to avoid further
conversation. The day was now dawning, and as, by degrees, the light was
thrown upon the face of Cornbury, it was strange to witness how his
agitation and his fear had changed all the ruby carbuncles on his face
to a deadly white. He called to Nancy Corbett in a humble tone once or
twice as she passed by in her walk, but received no reply further than a
look of scorn. As soon as it was broad daylight, Nancy went into the
cave to call up the leader.
In a few minutes he appeared, with the rest of the smugglers.
"Philip Cornbury," said he, with a stern and unrelenting countenance,
"you would have betrayed us for the sake of money."
"It is false," replied Cornbury.
"False, is it?--you shall have a fair trial. Nancy Corbett, give your
evidence before us all."
Nancy recapitulated all that had passed.
"I say again, that it is false," replied Cornbury. "Where is the woman
whom she states to have told her this? This is nothing more than
assertion, and I say again, it is false. Am I to be condemned without
proofs? Is my life to be sacrificed to the animosity of this woman, who
wishes to get rid of me, because--"
"Because what?" interrupted Nancy.
"Because I was too well acquainted with you before your marriage, and
can tell too much."
"Now, curses on you, for a liar as well as a traitor!" exclaimed Nancy.
"What I was before I was married is well known; but it is well known,
also, that I pleased my fancy, and could always choose. I must, indeed,
have had a sorry taste to be intimate with a blotched wretch like you.
Sir," continued Nancy, turning to the leader, "it is false, and whatever
may be said against me on other points, Nancy Dawson, or Nancy Corbett,
was never yet so vile as to assert a lie. I put it to you, sir, and to
all of you, is not my word sufficient in this case?"
The smugglers nodded their heads in assent.
"And, now that is admitted, I will prove his villany and falsehood.
Philip Cornbury, do you know this paper?" cried Nancy, taking out of her
bosom the agreement signed by Vanslyperken, which she had picked up on
the night when Cornbury had torn it up and thrown it away. "Do you know
this paper, I ask you? Read it, sir," continued Nancy, handing it over
to the leader of the smugglers.
The paper was read, and the inflexible countenance of the leader turned
towards Cornbury,--who saw his doom.
"Go in, Nancy Corbett, and let no women appear till all is over."
"Liar!" said Nancy, spitting on the ground as she passed by Cornbury.
"Bind his eyes, and lead him to the western edge," said the leader.
"Philip Cornbury, you have but few minutes to live. In mercy, you may
see the holy father, if you wish it."
"I'm no d----d papist," replied Cornbury, in a sulky tone.
"Lead him on then."
Cornbury was led to the western edge of the flat, where the cliff was
most high and precipitous, and then made to kneel down.
"Fitzpatrick," said the leader, pointing to the condemned.
Fitzpatrick walked up to the kneeling man with his loaded pistol, and
then the others, who had led Cornbury to the edge of the cliff, retired.
Fitzpatrick cocked the lock.
"Would you like to say, 'God have mercy on my treacherous sinful sowl,'
or anything short and sweet like that?" said Fitzpatrick; "if so, I'll
wait a couple of seconds more for your convanience, Philip Cornbury."
Cornbury made no reply. Fitzpatrick put the pistol to his ear, the ball
whizzed through his brain, the body half raised itself from its knees
with a strong muscular action, and then toppled over and disappeared
down the side of the precipice.
"It's to be hoped that the next time you lave this world, Master
Cornbury, it will be in a purliter sort of manner. A civil question
demands a civil answer anyhow," said Fitzpatrick, coolly rejoining the
The whole of which has been fudged out of the History of England, and
will therefore be quite new to the majority of our readers.
Were we in want of materials for this eventful history, we have now a
good opportunity for spinning out our volumes; but, so far from this
being the case, we hardly know how to find space for what it is now
absolutely necessary that the reader should be acquainted with. Our
friends may probably recollect, when we remind them of the fact, that
there was a certain king, James II., who sat upon our throne, and who
was a very good Catholic--that he married his daughter, Mary, to one
William of Orange, who, in return for James's kindness in giving him his
daughter, took away from him his kingdom, on the plea, that if he was a
bad son-in-law, at all events, he was a sound Protestant. They may also
recollect, that the exiled king was received most hospitably by the
grand monarque, Louis XIV., who gave him palaces, money, and all that he
required, and, moreover, gave him a fine army and fleet to go to Ireland
and recover his kingdom, bidding him farewell with this equivocal
sentence, "That the best thing he, Louis, could wish to him was, never
to see his face again." They may further recollect, that King James and
King William met at the battle of the Boyne, in which the former was
defeated, and then went back to St Germains and spent the rest of his
life in acts of devotion and plotting against the life of King William.
Now, among other plots real and pretended, there was one laid in 1695,
to assassinate King William on his way to Richmond; this plot was
revealed, many of the conspirators were tried and executed, but the
person who was at the head of it, a Scotchman, of the name of Sir George
Barclay, escaped. In the year 1696, a bill was passed, by which Sir
George Barclay and nine others who had escaped from justice, were
attainted of high treason, if they did not choose to surrender
themselves on or before the 25th day of March ensuing. Strange to say,
these parties did not think it advisable to surrender themselves;
perhaps it was because they knew that they were certain to be hung; but
it is impossible to account for the actions of men: we can only lay the
facts before our readers.
Sir George Barclay was by birth a Scotchman, of high family, and well
connected. He had been an officer in the army of King James, to whom he
was strongly attached. Moreover, he was a very bigoted Catholic. Whether
he ever received a commission from King James, authorising him to
assassinate King William, has never been proved; but, as King James is
well known to have been admitted into the order of the Jesuits, it is
not at all unlikely. Certain it is, that the baronet went over to St
Germains, landed again in England, and would have made the attempt, had
not the plot been discovered through some of the inferior accomplices;
and it is equally sure that he escaped, although many others were
hung--and few people knew what had become of him. The fact was, that
when Barclay had fled to the sea-side, he was assisted over the water by
a band of smugglers, who first concealed him in the cave we have
described, which was their retreat. This led to a communication and
arrangement with them. Sir George Barclay, who, although foiled in his
attempt at assassination, never abandoned the cause, immediately
perceived what advantages might be derived in keeping up a communication
by means of these outlaws. For some time the smugglers were employed in
carrying secret despatches to the friends of James in England and
Scotland; and, as the importance of the correspondence increased, and it
became necessary to have personal interviews instead of written
communications, Sir George frequently passed over to the cave as a
rendezvous, at which he might meet the adherents of the exiled king. In
the course of time he saw the prudence of having the entire control of
the band, and found little difficulty in being appointed their leader.
From the means he obtained from St Germains, the smuggling was now
carried on to a great and very profitable extent, and by the regulations
which he enacted, the chance of discovery was diminished. Only one point
more was requisite for safety and secrecy, which was, a person to whom
he could confide the charge of the cave. Lady Barclay, who was equally
warm in the cause, offered her services, and they were accepted; and at
the latter end of the year 1696, about one year after the plot had
failed, Lady Barclay, with her only child, took up her abode in this
isolated domicile; Sir George then first making the arrangement that the
men should always remain on the other side of the water, which would be
an additional cause of security. For upwards of four years, Lady Barclay
had remained an inmate, attending to the instruction of her little
Lilly, and carrying on all the correspondence, and making all the
necessary arrangements with vigour and address, satisfied with serving
the good cause, and proving her devoted allegiance to her sovereign.
Unfortunate and unwise as were the Stuart family, there must have been
some charm about them, for they had instances of attachment and fidelity
shown to them, of which no other line of kings could boast.
Shortly after the tragical event recorded in the last chapter, the
Jesuit came out of the cave and went up to Sir George, who coolly
observed, "We have just been sending a traitor to his account,
"So may they all perish," replied the priest. "We start this evening?"
"Certainly. What news have you for St Germains?"
"Much that is important. Discontent prevails throughout the country. The
affair of Bishop Watson hath brought much odium on the usurper. He
himself writhes under the tyrannical commands of the Commons, and is at
issue with them."
"And, in Scotland, father?"
"All is there ripe and ready--and an army once landed, would be joined
by thousands. The injustice of the usurper in wishing to sacrifice the
Scotch Settlement, has worked deep upon the minds of those who advanced
their money upon that speculation--in the total, a larger sum than ever
yet was raised in Scotland. Our emissaries have fanned the flame up to
the highest pitch."
"To my thoughts, good father, there needed not further discontent. Have
we not our king dethroned, and our holy religion persecuted?"
"True, my son--true; but still we must lose no means by which we may
increase the number of our adherents. Some are swayed by one feeling,
and some by another. We have contrived to throw no small odium upon the
usurper and betrayer of his wife's father, by exposing and magnifying,
indeed, the sums of money which he has lavished upon his courtesan,
Mistress Villiers, now, by his heretic and unsanctified breath, raised
into the peerage by the title of Countess of Orkney. All these items
added together, form a vast sum of discontent; and could we persuade his
Catholic majesty to rouse himself to assert once more his rights by
force of arms, I should not fear for the result."
"Had I not been betrayed," observed Sir George, musing, "before this the
king would have had his own again."
"And thrice blessed would have been the arm that had laid the usurper
low," rejoined the Jesuit; "but more of this hereafter. Your lady hath
had much converse with me. She thinks that the character of the man who
commands that cutter, is such as to warrant his services for gold--and
wishes to essay him."
"The woman Corbett is of that opinion, and she is subtle. At all events,
it can be tried; for he would be of much utility, and there would be no
suspicion. The whole had better be left to her arrangement. We may
employ, and pay, yet not trust him."
"That is exactly what Lady Alice had proposed," replied the Jesuit. Here
Lilly came out to tell her father that the morning meal was ready, and
they all returned to the cave.
That evening the boat was launched, and the Jesuit went over with Sir
George, and landed at Cherbourg, from whence they both proceeded with
all expedition to the court of King James.
We have entered into this short detail, that the reader may just know
the why and the wherefore these parties in the cave were introduced, and
now we shall continue our most faithful and veracious history.
In which Smallbones is sent to look after a pot of black paint.
We must now return to the cutter, which still remains at anchor off the
Point in Portsmouth harbour. It is a dark, murky, blowing day, with
gusts of rain and thick fog. Mr Vanslyperken is more than usually
displeased, for, as he had to wait for the new boat which he had
demanded, he thought this a good opportunity of enlivening the bends of
the _Yungfrau_ with a little black paint--not before it was required,
most certainly, for she was as rusty in appearance as if she had been
built of old iron. But paint fetched money, and as Mr Vanslyperken
always sold his, it was like parting with so much of his own property,
when he ordered up the paint-pots and brushes. Now the operation of
beautifying the _Yungfrau_ had been commenced the day before, and the
unexpected change in the weather during the night, had washed off the
greater portion of the paint, and there was not only all the trouble,
but all the expense, to be incurred again. No wonder that Mr
Vanslyperken was in a bad humour--not only in a bad humour, but in the
very worst of humours. He had made up his mind to go on shore to see his
mother, and was pacing the quarter-deck in his great-coat, with his
umbrella under his arm, all ready to be unfurled as soon as he was on
shore. He was just about to order his boat to be manned: Mr
Vanslyperken looked up at the weather--the fog was still thick, and the
rain fell. You could not even make out the houses on the point. The wind
had gone down considerably. Mr Vanslyperken looked over the gunnel--the
damage was even greater than he thought. He looked over the stern, there
was the stage still hanging where the painters had been standing or
sitting, and, what was too bad, there was a pot of paint, with the brush
in it, half full of rain water, which some negligent person had left
there. Mr Vanslyperken turned forward to call somebody to take the paint
below, but the decks were empty, and it was growing dark. A sudden
thought, instigated no doubt by the devil, filled the brain of Mr
Vanslyperken. It was a glorious, golden opportunity, not to be lost. He
walked forward, and went down into his cabin again, where he found
Smallbones helping himself to biscuit, for the lad was hungry, as well
he might be; but on this occasion Mr Vanslyperken took no notice.
"Smallbones," said he, "one of the men has left his paint-pot on the
stage, under the stern, go and bring it in immediately."
"Yes, sir," replied Smallbones, surprised at the unusually quiet style
of his master's address to him.
Smallbones ran up the ladder, went aft, and slid down by the rope which
held the plank used as a stage by the painters. Mr Vanslyperken seized
his carving-knife, and following softly on deck, went aft. He took a
hurried look forward--there was no one on deck. For a moment, he
hesitated at the crime; he observed the starboard rope shake, for
Smallbones was just about to shin up again. The devil prevailed. Mr
Vanslyperken sawed through the rope, heard the splash of the lad in the
water, and, frightened at his own guilt, ran down below, and gained his
cabin. There he seated himself, trembling like an aspen leaf. It was the
first time that he had been a _murderer_. He was pale as ashes. He felt
sick, and he staggered to his cupboard, poured out a tumbler of
scheedam, and drank it off at a draught. This recovered him, and he
again felt brave. He returned on deck, and ordered his boat to be
manned, which was presently done. Mr Vanslyperken would have given the
world to have gone aft, and to have looked over the stern, but he dared
not; so, pushing the men into the boat, he slipped in, and was pulled on
shore. Without giving any directions to the men he stepped out, and felt
a relief when he found himself on terra firma. He walked away as fast as
he could--he felt that he could not walk fast enough--he was anxious to
arrive at his mother's. The rain fell fast, but he thought not of his
umbrella, it remained under his arm, and Mr Vanslyperken, as if he were
chased by a fiend, pushed on through the fog and rain; he wanted to meet
a congenial soul, one who would encourage, console him, ridicule his
fears, and applaud the deed which he would just then have given the
world to have recalled.
Where could he seek one more fitted to the purpose than his mother? The
door of the house where she lodged was common to many, and therefore
opened with a latch. He went in, and upstairs, tried the door of his
mother's room, and found it fastened within. He knocked, heard the
grumbling of the old woman at her being obliged to rise from her chair:
she opened the door, and Vanslyperken, as soon as he was in, slammed it
to, and exhausted with his emotions, fell back in a chair.
"Hey day! and what's the matter now?" cried the old woman, in Dutch;
"one would think that you had been waylaid, robbed, and almost
"Murdered!" stammered Vanslyperken; "yes--it was murder."
"What was murder, my child?" replied the old woman, reseating herself.
"Did I say murder, mother?" said Vanslyperken, wiping the blended rain
and perspiration from his brow with a cotton handkerchief.
"Yes, you did, Cornelius Vanslyperken; not that I believe a craven like
you would ever attempt such a thing."
"But I have, mother. I have done the deed," replied Vanslyperken.
"You have!" cried his mother; "then at last you have done something, and
I shall respect you. Come, come, child, cheer up, and tell me all about
it. There is a slight twinge the first time--but the second is nothing.
Did you get gold? Hey, my son, plenty of gold?"
"Gold! no, no--I got nothing--indeed I lost by it--lost a pot full of
black paint--but never mind that. He's gone," replied Vanslyperken,
recovering himself fast.
"Who is gone?"
"The lad, Smallbones."
"Pish," replied the old woman, rocking her chair. "Ay, well, never
mind--it was for revenge, then--that's sweet--very sweet. Now,
Cornelius, tell me all about it."
Vanslyperken, encouraged by the sympathy, if we may use the term, shown
by his mother, narrated what he had done.
"Well, well, child, 'tis a beginning," replied the old woman, "and I'll
not call you craven again."
"I must go back," said Vanslyperken, starting up from his chair.
"Go, child, it is late--and dream it over. Vengeance is sweet, even in
sleep. I have had mine--and for years have I dwelt on it--and shall for
years to come. I shall not die yet--no, no."
Vanslyperken quitted the house; the weather had cleared up, the breeze
was fresh and piercing, and the stars twinkled every now and then, as
the wild scud which flew across the heavens admitted them to view.
Vanslyperken walked fast--he started at the least sound--he hurried by
everyone whom he met, as if fearful to be recognised--he felt relieved
when he had gained the streets of Portsmouth, and he at last arrived at
the Point; but there was no cutter's boat, for he had given no orders.
He was therefore obliged to hire one to go on board. The old man whom he
engaged shoved into the stream; the tide was running in rapidly.
"A cold night, sir," observed the man.
"Yes," replied Vanslyperken, mechanically.
"And a strong tide, with the wind to back it. He'd have but a poor
chance, who fell overboard such a night as this. The strongest swimmer,
without help, would be soon in eternity."
Vanslyperken shuddered. Where was Smallbones at this moment? and then,
the mention of eternity!
"Silence, man, silence," said Vanslyperken.
"Hope no offence, Mr Lieutenant," replied the man, who knew who his fare
The boat pulled alongside of the _Yungfrau_, and Vanslyperken paid his
unusual fare, and stepped on the deck. He went down below, and had the
precaution to summon Smallbones to bring lights aft. The word was passed
along the lower deck, and Vanslyperken sat down in the dark, awaiting
the report that Smallbones could not be found.
Snarleyyow went up to his master, and rubbed his cold nose against his
hand, and then, for the first time, it occurred to Vanslyperken, that in
his hurry to leave the vessel, he had left the dog to the mercy of his
enemies. During the time that Vanslyperken waited for the report of the
lights, he passed over in his mind the untoward events which had taken
place--the loss of the widow's good-will, the loss of Corporal Van
Spitter, who was adrift in the Zuyder Zee, the loss of five thousand
pounds through the dog, and, strange to say, what vexed him more, the
loss of the dog's eye; and when he thought of all these things his heart
was elated, and he rejoiced in the death of Smallbones, and no longer
felt any compunction. But a light is coming aft, and Vanslyperken is
waiting the anticipated report. It is a solitary purser's dip, as they
are termed at sea, emitting but feeble rays, and Vanslyperken's eyes are
directed to the door of the cabin to see who carries it. To his horror,
his dismay, it is brought in by the drowned Smallbones, who, with a
cadaverous, and as he supposes, unearthly face and vacant look, drawls
out, "It's a-blowed out twice, sir, with the wind."
Vanslyperken started up, with his eyes glaring and fixed. There could be
no mistake. It was the apparition of the murdered lad, and he fell back
in a state of unconsciousness.
"You've a-got it this time," said Smallbones, chuckling as he bent over
the body of the lieutenant with his purser's dip, and perceived that he
was in a state of insensibility.
Had Mr Vanslyperken had the courage to look over the stern of the cutter
when he re-ascended on the deck, he would have discovered Smallbones
hanging on by the rudder chains; for had the fog not been so thick, Mr
Vanslyperken would have perceived that at the time that he cut
Smallbones adrift it was slack water, and the cutter was lying across
the harbour. Smallbones was not, therefore, carried away by the tide,
but being a very fair swimmer, had gained the rudder chains without
difficulty; but at the time that Smallbones was climbing up again by the
rope, he had perceived the blade of the carving-knife working at the
rope, and was assured that Vanslyperken was attempting his life. When he
gained the rudder chains, he held on. At first he thought of calling for
assistance; but hearing Vanslyperken order his boat to be manned, the
lad then resolved to wait a little longer, and allow his master to think
that he was drowned. The result was as Smallbones intended. As soon as
the lad saw the boat was out of hearing he called out most lustily, and
was heard by those on board, and rescued from his cold immersion. He
answered no questions which were put to him till he had changed his
clothing and recovered himself, and then with great prudence summoned a
council, composed of Short, Coble, and Jemmy Ducks, to whom he narrated
what had taken place. A long consultation succeeded, and at last it was
agreed that Smallbones should make his appearance as he did, and future
arrangements to be taken according to circumstances.
As soon as Smallbones had ascertained the situation of his master, he
went forward and reported it to Dick Short, who with Coble came aft in
the cabin. Short looked at Vanslyperken.
"Conscience," said Short.
"And a d----d bad un, too," replied Coble, hitching up his trousers.
"What's to be done, Short?"
"Nothing," replied Short.
"Just my idea," replied Coble; "let him come to if he pleases, or die
and be d----d. Who cares?"
"Nobody," replied Short.
"My eyes, but he must have been frightened," said Smallbones; "for he
has left the key in the cupboard. I'll see what's in it for once
Snarleyyow, when Smallbones opened the cupboard, appeared to have an
intuitive idea that he was trespassing, so he walked out growling from
under the table; Short saluted him with a kick in the ribs, which tossed
him under the feet of Coble, who gave him a second with his fisherman's
boots, and the dog howled, and ran out of the cabin. O Mr Vanslyperken!
see what your favourite was brought to, because you did not come to.
At this time Smallbones had his nose in the stone jar of scheedam--the
olfactory examination was favourable, so he put his mouth to it--the
labial essay still more so, so he took down a wine glass, and, without
any ceremony, filled a bumper, and handed it to Coble.
"We'll drink to his recovery," said Obadiah, tossing off the contents.
"Yes," replied Short, who waited till the glass was refilled, and did
"Here's bad luck to him in his own good stuff," said Smallbones, tossing
off a third glass, and, filling it again, he handed it to Coble.
"Here's reformation to him," said Coble, draining the glass again.
"Yes," replied Short, taking the replenished vessel.
"Here's d----n to him and his dog for ever and ever, Amen," cried
Smallbones, tippling off his second allowance.
"Who's there?" said Vanslyperken in a faint voice, opening his eyes
with a vacant look.
Smallbones replaced the bottle in the cupboard, and replied, "It's only
Smallbones, sir, and the mates, come to help you."
"Smallbones!" said Vanslyperken, still wandering. "Smallbones is
drowned--and the whole pot of black paint."
"Conscience," said Short.
"Carving-knife," rejoined Coble.
"Carving-knife!" said Vanslyperken, raising himself up; "I never said a
word about a carving-knife, did I? Who is it that I see? Short--and
Coble--help me up. I've had a sad fall. Where's Smallbones? Is he
"I believe as how I bees," replied Smallbones.
Mr Vanslyperken had now recovered his perfect senses. He had been raised
on a chair, and was anxious to be rid of intruders, so he told Short and
Coble that he would now do very well, and they might go; upon which,
without saying a word, they both quitted the cabin.
Mr Vanslyperken collected himself--he wished to know how Smallbones had
been saved, but still dared not broach the subject, as it would be
admitting his own guilt.
"What has happened, Smallbones?" said Vanslyperken. "I still feel very
"Take a glass of this," replied Smallbones, opening the cupboard, and
bringing out the scheedam. He poured out a glass, which Vanslyperken
drank, and then observed, "How did you know what was in that
"Because you called for it when you were in your fits," replied
"Called for scheedam?"
"Yes, sir, and said you had lost the carving-knife."
"Did I?" replied Vanslyperken, afraid that he had committed himself. "I
have been ill, very ill," continued he, putting his hand up to his
forehead. "By-the-bye, Smallbones, did you bring in that pot of paint?"
said Vanslyperken, adroitly.
"No, sir, I didn't, because I tumbled overboard, pot and all," replied
"Tumbled overboard! why, I did not leave the ship till afterwards, and I
heard nothing about it."
"No, sir, how could you?" replied Smallbones, who was all prepared for
this explanation, "when the tide swept me past the saluting battery in
"Past the saluting battery?" exclaimed Vanslyperken, "why, how were you
"Because, thanks to somebody, I be too light to sink. I went out to the
Nab buoy, and a mile ayond it."
"The Nab buoy!" exclaimed Vanslyperken.
"Yes, and ayond it, afore the tide turned, and then I were swept back
again, and came into harbour again, just half-an-hour afore you
Mr Vanslyperken looked aghast; the lad must have had a charmed life.
Nine miles at least out to sea, and nine miles back again.
"It's as true as I stand here, sir," continued Smallbones; "I never were
so cold in all my life, a-floating about like a bit of duck-weed with
the tide, this way and that way."
"As true as you stand here!" repeated Vanslyperken; "but do you stand
here?" and he made a desperate grasp at the lad's arm to ascertain
whether he held substance or shadow.
"Can I do anything more, sir?" continued Smallbones; "for I should like
to turn in--I'm as cold as ice, even now."
"You may go," replied Vanslyperken, whose mind was again becoming
confused at what had passed. For some time, the lieutenant sat in his
chair, trying to recollect and reason; but it was in vain--the shocks of
the day had been too great. He threw himself, dressed as he was, upon
his bed--never perceived the absence of his favourite--the candle was
allowed to burn itself to the socket, and Vanslyperken fell off into a
In which Mr Vanslyperken proves false to the Widow Vandersloosh, and
many strange things take place.
Mr. Vanslyperken was awakened, the next morning, by the yelping of his
dog, who, having been shut out of the cabin, had ventured up the ladder
in the morning when the men were washing the deck, and had a bucket
shied at him by Jemmy Ducks, with such excellent precision, that it
knocked him over, and nearly broke his hind leg, which he now carried
high up in the air as he howled upon the other three at the cabin door.
Mr Vanslyperken rose, and tried to recollect what had passed; but it was
more than a minute before he could recall the circumstances of the day
before. He then tried to call to mind how he had gone to bed, and by
what means Snarleyyow was left outside, but he could make nothing of it.
He opened the cabin door, and let in the dog, whose lame leg instantly
excited his indignation, and he then rang his bell for Smallbones, who
soon made his appearance.
"How came the dog out of the cabin, sir?"
"I'm sure I don't know, sir; I never put him out."
"Who is it that has hurt him?"
"I'm sure I don't know, sir; I never touched him."
Vanslyperken was about to vent his anger, when Smallbones said, "If you
please, I don't know what's a-going on. Why here, sir, the men washing
the decks have found your carving-knife abaft, by the traffrail.
Somebody must have taken it there, that's sartain."
Vanslyperken turned pale.
"Who could have taken it?"
"That's what I said, sir. Who dare come in the cabin to take the knife?
and what could they have taken it for, but unless it was to cut summut?"
And Smallbones looked his master full in the face. And the lieutenant
quailed before his boy. He could not meet his gaze, but turned away.
"Very odd," continued Smallbones, perceiving the advantage he had
"Leave the cabin, sir," cried Vanslyperken.
"Sha'n't I make no inquiries how this ere knife came there, sir?"
"No, sir, mind your own business. I've a great mind to flog you for its
being found there--all your carelessness."
"That would be a pretty go," murmured Smallbones, as he shut the cabin
The feeling of vengeance against Smallbones, was now redoubled in the
breast of his master; and the only regret he felt at the transactions of
the day before was, that the boy had not been drowned.
"I'll have him yet," muttered the lieutenant; but he forgot that he was
shaving himself, and the involuntary movements of his lips caused him to
cut a large gash on his right cheek, from which the blood trickled fast.
"Curses on the"--(razor he was going to say, but he changed it
A slice with a razor is certainly a very annoying thing. After a certain
time, Mr Vanslyperken finished his toilet, called for his breakfast,
went on deck, and as the day was fine, ordered the paint to be renewed,
and then went on shore to ascertain if there were any commands for him
at the admiral's office.
As he walked up the street in a brown study, he at last observed that a
very pretty woman dogged him, sometimes walking a-head and looking back,
at others dropping astern, and then again ranging up alongside. He
looked her in the face, and she smiled sweetly, and then turned her head
coquettishly, and then looked again with eyes full of meaning. Now,
although Mr Vanslyperken had always avoided amours on account of the
expense entailed upon them, yet he was, like a dry chip, very
inflammable, and the extreme beauty of the party made him feel unusual
emotions. Her perseverance too--and her whole appearance so very
respectable--so superior to the class of people who generally accosted
him. He thought of the widow and her money-bags, and thought, also, how
infinitely more desirable the widow would be, if she possessed but the
beauty of the present party.
"I do believe I've lost my way," exclaimed the young person. "Pray, sir,
can you tell me the way to Castle Street, for I'm almost a stranger?
And" (added she, laughing) "I really don't know my way back to my
Castle Street was, at that time, one of the best streets in Portsmouth,
as Mr Vanslyperken well knew. This assured him of her respectability. He
very gallantly offered his arm which, after a little demur, was
accepted, and Mr Vanslyperken conveyed her to her house. Of course she
could do no less than ask him to walk up, and Mr Vanslyperken, who had
never been in anything approaching to good society, was in astonishment
at the furniture. All appeared to denote wealth. He was soon in an
interesting conversation, and by degrees found out that the lady was a
young widow of the name of Malcolm, whose husband had been factor to the
new company, called the East India Company; that she had come down to
Portsmouth expecting him home, and that she had learnt that he had died
on shore a few days before his intended embarkation for England. Since
which, as she liked the place and the society, she had thoughts of
"They say that gold in India is to be had for nothing."
"It must be very plentiful," replied the widow, "if I am to judge by the
quantity my poor husband sent me home, and he was not out more than
three years. He left me a week after our marriage."
Here the lovely widow put her handkerchief up to her eyes, and Mr
Vanslyperken attempted to console her.
"It's so very unpleasant to be left without any one to advise you, and
exposed to be cheated so dreadfully. What can a poor lone woman do? Did
you ever see me before, sir?"
"I never did," replied our lieutenant. "May I ask the same question, for
I thought you appeared to know me?"
"O yes! I've seen you very often, and wished to know who you were, but I
was ashamed to ask. One cannot be too particular in my situation."
Mr Vanslyperken was much pleased, but he had remained some time, and he
thought it right to depart, so he rose and made his adieus.
"I hope I shall see you again," cried the widow, earnestly. "You will
call again, sir, won't you?"
"Most certainly, and with the greatest pleasure," replied Vanslyperken.
The lady extended her gloved hand, and as it was closed in that of
Vanslyperken, he thought he felt a slight, a very slight pressure, which
made his heart leap. And then, as he shut the door, she gave him such a
look--O those eyes!--they pierced right through the heart of
The reader may not, perhaps, be aware who this gay widow might be. It
was Nancy Corbett, who had, by the advice of Lady Alice, taken this step
to entrap Mr Vanslyperken. Nancy had obtained from Moggy all the
particulars of the lieutenant's wooing of the widow Vandersloosh, and
his character as a miser and a coward. Had he been a miser only, she
would have attacked by gold alone, but being a coward, it was decided
that he should have some further stimulus to betray his country, and
enlist himself among the partisans of King James.
Beauty, joined with wealth, the chance of possessing both, with the
attractive arts of Nancy, were considered necessary to sway him. Indeed
they were so far right, that had any one made the bold proposal to
Vanslyperken of joining the other party, and offered him at the same
time ample remuneration, he would have been too suspicious or too
timorous to run the risk. It was necessary to win him over by means
which appeared accidental rather than otherwise. The difficulty of
correspondence was very great; and as the cutter constantly was
despatched to the Hague, and the French had agents there, not only
letters, but even messengers, might be sent over without risk and
without suspicion; for open boats being then the only means of
communication, during the wintry part of the year, the correspondence
was very precarious, and at long intervals.
Thus was Nancy Corbett changed into a buxom widow, all for the good
cause, and well did she perform her part; for there was no lack of money
when such services were required. Vanslyperken left the house quite
enchanted. "This will do," thought he, "and if I succeed, Frau
Vandersloosh may go to the devil." He returned on board, unlocked his
cabin, where Snarleyyow had been secured from the machinations of
Smallbones and other malcontents, and sat down to enjoy the
castle-building which he had commenced after he left the house. He
patted his dog, and apostrophised it. "Yes, my poor brute," said
Vanslyperken, "your master will get a rich widow, without it being
necessary that you should be laid dead at her porch. D--n Frau
The widow was more enchanting when Vanslyperken called on the ensuing
day, than she was on the first. Her advances to the lieutenant were no
longer doubtful to him. She entered freely into the state of her
affairs, asked his advice upon money matters, and fully proved to his
satisfaction that, independent of her beauty, she would be a much
greater catch than Frau Vandersloosh. She spoke about her family; said
that she expected her brother over, but that he must come _incog._, as
he was attached to the court of the exiled king, lamented the difficulty
of receiving letters from him, and openly expressed her adherence to the
Stuart family. Vanslyperken appeared to make very little objection to
her political creed; in fact, he was so fascinated that he fell blindly
into the snare; he accepted an invitation to dine with her on that very
day, and went on board to dress himself as fine for her as he had for
the widow Vandersloosh. The lovely widow admired his uniform, and gave
him many gentle hints upon which he might speak: but this did not take
place until a _tete-a-tete_ after dinner, when he was sitting on a sofa
with her (not on such a fubsy sofa as that of Frau Vandersloosh, but one
worked in tapestry); much in the same position as we once introduced him
in to the reader, to wit, with the lady's hand in his. Vanslyperken was
flushed with wine, for Nancy had pushed the bottle, and, at last, he
spoke out clearly what his aspirations were. The widow blushed, laughed,
wiped her eyes as if to brush away a falling tear, and eventually, with
a slight pressure of the hand, stammered that she did not know what to
say, the acquaintance was so short--it was so unexpected--she must
reflect a little: at the same time, she could not but acknowledge, that
she had been taken with him when she first saw him; and then she laughed
and said, that she did really begin to believe that there was such a
thing as love at first sight, and then--he had better go now, she wished
to be alone--she really had a headache. Oh! Nancy Corbett! you were,
indeed, an adept in the art of seduction--no wonder that your name has
been handed down to posterity. Mr Vanslyperken perceived his advantage,
and pressed still more, until the blushing widow declared that she would
really think seriously about the matter, if on further acquaintance she
found that her good opinion of him was not overrated.
Vanslyperken returned on board intoxicated with his success. On his
arrival, he was informed that a messenger had been sent for him, but no
one knew where to find him, and that he must be at the admiral's early
the next morning, and have all ready for immediate sailing. This was
rather annoying, but there was no help for it. The next day Vanslyperken
went to the admiral's, and received orders to sail immediately to the
Hague with despatches of consequence, being no less than an answer from
King William to the States General. Mr Vanslyperken proceeded from the
admiral's to the charming widow, to whom he imparted this unwelcome
intelligence. She, of course, was grave, and listened to his
protestations with her little finger in her mouth, and a pensive,
"How long will you be away?" inquired she.
"But a week or ten days at the farthest. I shall fly back to see you
"But, tell me the truth, have you no acquaintances there?--now, tell me
the truth. I don't mean men."
"Upon my honour, fair widow, I don't know a single woman there," replied
Vanslyperken, pleased with this little appearance of jealousy; "but I'm
afraid that I must leave you, for the admiral is very severe."
"Will you do me one favour, Mr Vanslyperken?"
"Anything:--ask what you will."
"I want this letter forwarded to my brother--I am very anxious about it.
The French agent there will send it on;--it is enclosed to him. Will you
do me that favour, my dear sir?--I'm sure you will if----"
"If you love me," replied the widow, laying her hand upon Vanslyperken.
"I will, most certainly," said Vanslyperken, taking the letter and
putting it in his pocket.
"Then I shall ask you another," said the widow. "You will think me very
foolish, but there may be an opportunity--will you write to me--just a
few lines--only to tell me that you have given the letter, that's
all--and to say how you are--don't you think me very foolish?"
"I will write, dearest, since you wish it--and now, good-bye."
Vanslyperken took the widow round the waist, and after a little
murmuring and reluctance, was permitted to snatch a kiss. Her eyes
followed him mournfully till he shut the door and disappeared, and then
Nancy Corbett gave way to unbounded mirth.
"So the fool has bit already," thought she; "now if he only writes to
me, and I get his acknowledgment of having delivered the letter, the
beast is in my power, and I can hang him any day I please. Upon his
honour, he did not know a single woman there:--Lord have mercy!--what
liars men are--but we can sometimes beat them with their own weapons."
And Nancy's thoughts reverted to her former life, which she now dwelt
upon with pain and sorrow.
Mr Vanslyperken returned on board; the anchor was weighed immediately
that the boats had been hoisted up, and the _Yungfrau_ ran out with a
fair wind, which lasted until the evening, when it fell almost calm, and
the cutter made but little way through the water. Many of the men were
conversing on the forecastle as usual, and the subject of their
discourse was the surmising what had become of Corporal Van Spitter. In
one point they all appeared to agree, which was, that they hoped he
would never return to the cutter.
"If he does I owe him one," observed Jemmy Ducks. "It's all through him
that my wife was turned out of the vessel."
"And a little bit from her tongue, Jemmy," observed Coble.
"Why, perhaps so," replied Jemmy; "but what was it set her tongue loose
but the threat of _him_ to flog me, and what made him threaten that but
the 'peaching of that fat marine?"
"Very good arguments, Jemmy. Well, I will say that for your wife, Jemmy,
she does love you, and there's no sham about it."
"Never mind Jemmy's wife, let's have Jemmy's song," said Spurey; "he
hasn't piped since he was pulled up by the corporal."
"No: he put my pipe out, the hippopotamus. Well, I'll give it you--it
shall be about what we are talking of, Obadiah." Jemmy perched himself
on the fore-end of the booms, and sang as follows:
"I suppose that you think 'cause my trousers are tarry,
And because that I ties my long hair in a tail,
While landsmen are figged out as fine as Lord Harry,
With breast-pins and cravats as white as old sail;
That I'm a strange creature, a know-nothing ninny,
But fit for the planks for to walk in foul weather;
That I ha'n't e'er a notion of the worth of a guinea,
And that you, Poll, can twist me about as a feather,--
Lord love you!!
"I know that this life is but short at the best on't,
That Time it flies fast, and that work must be done;
That when danger comes 'tis as well for to jest on't,
'Twill be but the lighter felt when it do come:
If you think, then, from this that I an't got a notion
Of a heaven above, with its mercy in store,
And the devil below, for us lads of the ocean,
Just the same as it be for the landsmen on shore,--
Lord love you!!
"If because I don't splice with some true-hearted woman,
Who'd doat on my presence, and sob when I sail,
But put up with you, Poll, though faithful to no man,
With a fist that can strike, and a tongue that can rail;
'Tis because I'm not selfish, and know 'tis my duty
If I marry to moor by my wife, and not leave her,
To dandle the young ones,--watch over her beauty,
D'ye think that I'd promise and vow, then deceive her?--
Lord love you!!
"I suppose that you think 'cause I'm free with my money,
Which others would hoard and lock up in their chest,
All your billing and cooing, and words sweet as honey,
Are as gospel to me while you hang on my breast;
But no, Polly, no;--you may take every guinea,
They'd burn in my pocket, if I took them to sea;
But as for your love, Poll, I indeed were a ninny,--
D'ye think I don't know you cheat others than me?
Lord love you!!"
"Well, that's a good song, Jemmy, and he can't pull you up for that,
Mr Vanslyperken appeared to think otherwise, for he sent a marine
forward to say, that no singing would be permitted in future, and that
they were immediately to desist.
"I suppose we shall have a song considered as mutiny soon," observed
Coble. "Ah, well, it's a long lane that has no turning."
"Yes," replied Jemmy, in an under tone, "and for every rogue there's a
rope laid up. Never mind, let us go below."
Mr Vanslyperken's dreaming thoughts of the fair widow were nevertheless
occasionally interrupted by others not quite so agreeable. Strange to
say, he fully believed what Smallbones had asserted about his being
carried out by the tide to the Nab buoy and he canvassed the question in
his mind, whether there was not something supernatural in the affair, a
sort of interposition of Providence in behalf of the lad, which was to
be considered as a warning to himself not to attempt anything further.
He was frightened, although his feeling for revenge was still in all its
force. As for any one suspecting him of having attempted the boy's life,
he had recovered from that feeling; even if they did, who dare say a
word? There was another point which also engrossed the moody
Vanslyperken, which was how he should behave relative to the widow
Vandersloosh. Should he call or should he not? he cared nothing for her,
and provided he could succeed with the Portsmouth lady, he would pitch
her to the devil; but still he remembered the old proverb, "You should
never throw away dirty water before you are sure of clean." After some
cogitation he determined upon still pressing his suit, and hoped at the
same time that the widow would not admit him into her presence. Such
were the different resolves and decisions which occupied the mind of Mr
Vanslyperken until he dropped his anchor at Amsterdam, when he ordered
his boat to go on shore, and gave positive directions to Dick Short that
no one was to leave the cutter on any pretence, for he was determined
that as the widow would not have his company, she should not have the
profits arising from his men spending their money at her house.
"So," cried Coble, after the boat shoved off, "liberty's stopped as well
as singing. What next, I wonder? I sha'n't stand this long."
"No," replied Short.
"Stop till he makes friends with the widow," observed Bill Spurey;
"she'll get us all leave."
"Mein Gott, he nebber say anyting before," observed Jansen.
"No; we might almost go and come as we wished. We must not stand this."
"We won't," replied Jemmy Ducks.
"No," replied Short.
While the crew of the cutter were in this incipient state of mutiny,
Vanslyperken bent his steps to deliver up to the authorities the
despatches with which he was charged; and having so done, he then took
out the letter intrusted to him by Nancy Corbett and read the address.
It was the same street in which lived the Frau Vandersloosh. This was
awkward, as Vanslyperken did not want to be seen by her; but there was
no help for it. He trusted to her not seeing him, and he proceeded
thither: he ran down the numbers on the doors until he came to the right
one, which was exactly opposite to the widow's house:--this was more
unfortunate. He rang the bell; it was some time before the door was
opened, and while he was standing there he could not help looking round
to see if any one saw him. To his annoyance, there stood the widow
filling up her door with her broad frame, and Babette peeping over her
shoulder. Mr Vanslyperken, as there was only the canal and two narrow
roads between them, could do no less than salute her, but she took no
notice of him farther than by continuing her stare. At last, upon a
second pulling of the bell, the door opened, and on Mr Vanslyperken
saying that he had a letter for such an address, he was admitted, and
the door immediately closed. He was ushered into a room, the
window-panes of which were painted green, so that no one outside could
look in, and found himself in the presence of a tall man, in a clerical
dress, who motioned to him to sit down.
Vanslyperken delivered the letter, and then took a seat. The gentleman
made a graceful bow, as if to ask permission to break the seal, and then
opened the letter.
"Sir, I am obliged to you for charging yourself with these
packets--infinitely obliged to you. You are in command of a sloop here,
"A king's cutter, sir," replied Vanslyperken, with importance; "I am
"I thank you, sir. I will take down your name. You expect, I presume, to
be rewarded for this small service," continued the gentleman, with a
"Why, she must have told him," thought Vanslyperken; who replied with
another smile, "that he certainly trusted that he should be."
Upon which reply, the other went to an escritoire, and taking out a bag,
opened it and poured out a mass of gold, which made Vanslyperken's mouth
water, but why he did so Vanslyperken did not give a thought, until
having counted out fifty pieces, the gentleman very gracefully put them
into his hand, observing,
"A lieutenant's pay is not great, and we can afford to be generous. Will
you oblige me by calling here before you sail for England, and I will
beg you to take charge of a letter."
Vanslyperken was all amazement: he began to suspect what was the fact,
but he had the gold in his hand, and for the life of him, he could not
have laid it down again on the table. It was too great a sacrifice, for
it was his idol--his god. He therefore dropped it into his pocket, and
promising to call before he sailed, bowed and took his leave. As he went
out, there were the Frau Vandersloosh and Babette still watching him at
the door, but Vanslyperken was in a state of agitation, and he hurried
off as fast as he could. Had he known why they watched so earnestly, and
what had occurred, his agitation would have been greater still. As soon
as Mr Vanslyperken had arrived on board, he hastened down into his
cabin, and throwing the money down on the table, feasted his eyes with
it, and remained for nearly half-an-hour in a state of deep cogitation,
during which he often asked himself the question, whether he had not
been a traitor to the king and country in whose pay he was employed. The
answer that he gave to himself was anything but satisfactory: but the
prospect of possessing the fair Portsmouth widow, and the gold displayed
upon the table, were very satisfactory, and the balance was on the
latter side: so Vanslyperken gradually recovered himself, and had risen
from his chair to collect the gold and deposit it in a place of safety,
when he was interrupted by a tap at the door. Hastily sweeping off the
gold pieces, he cried, "Come in;" when who, to his surprise, should
appear, in excellent condition and fresh as a peony, but the lost and
almost forgotten Corporal Van Spitter, who, raising his hand to his
forehead as usual, reported himself man-of-war fashion, "Vas come on
board, Mynheer Vanslyperken." But as the corporal did not tell all the
facts connected with his cruise in the jolly-boat to Mr Vanslyperken,
for reasons which will hereafter appear, we shall reserve the narrative
of what really did take place for another chapter.
In which are narrated the adventures which took place in the corporal's
cruise in the jolly-boat.
Corporal Van Spitter, so soon as he had expended all his breath in
shouting for help, sat down with such a flop of despair on the thwart of
the boat, as very nearly to swamp it. As it was, the water poured in
over the starboard-gunnel, until the boat was filled up to his ankles.
This alarmed him still more, and he remained mute as a stockfish for a
quarter of an hour, during which he was swept away by the tide until he
was unable to discover the lights on shore. The wind freshened, and the
water became more rough, the night was dark as pitch, and the corporal
skimmed along before the wind and tide. "A tousand tyfels!" at last
muttered the corporal, as the searching blast crept round his fat sides,
and made him shiver. Gust succeeded gust, and, at last, the corporal's
teeth chattered with the cold: he raised his feet out of the water at
the bottom of the boat, for his feet were like ice, but in so doing, the
weight of his body being above the centre of gravity, the boat careened
over, and with a "Mein Gott!" he hastily replaced them in the cold
water. And now a shower of rain and sleet came down upon the unprotected
body of the corporal, which added to his misery, to his fear, and to
"Where am I?" muttered he; "what will become of me? Ah, mein Gott!
twenty tousand tyfels--what had I to do in a boat--I, Corporal Van
Spitter?" and then he was again silent for nearly half an hour. The wind
shifted to the northward, and the rain cleared up, but it was only to
make the corporal suffer more, for the freezing blast poured upon his
wet clothes, and he felt chilled to the very centre of his vitals. His
whole body trembled convulsively, he was frozen to the thwart, yet there
was no appearance of daylight coming, and the corporal now abandoned
himself to utter hopelessness and desperation, and commenced praying. He
attempted the Lord's Prayer in Dutch, but could get no further than "art
in heaven," for the rest, from disuse, had quite escaped the corporal's
memory. He tried to recollect something else, but was equally
unsuccessful; at last, he made up a sad mixture of swearing and praying.
"Mein Gott--a hundred tousand tyfels--gut Gott--twenty hundred tousand
tyfels! Ah, Gott of mercy--million of tyfels! holy Gott Jesus! twenty
millions of tyfels--Gott for dam, I die of cold!" Such were the
ejaculations of the corporal, allowing about ten minutes to intervene
between each, during which the wind blew more freshly, the waves rose,
and the boat was whirled away.
But the corporal's miseries were to be prolonged; the flood-time of
water was now spent, and the ebb commenced flowing against the wind and
sea. This created what is called boiling water, that is, a contest
between the wind forcing the waves one way, and the tide checking them
the other, which makes the waves to lose their run, and they rise, and
dance, and bubble into points. The consequence was, that the boat, as
she was borne down by the tide against them, shipped a sea every moment,
which the wind threw against the carcass of the corporal, who was now
quite exhausted with more than four hours' exposure to a wintry night,
the temperature being nearly down to zero. All the corporal's stoicism
was gone; he talked wildly, crouched and gibbered in his fear, when he
was suddenly roused by a heavy shock. He raised his head, which had sunk
upon his chest, and beheld something close to him, and to the gunnel of
the boat. It was a thin, tall figure, holding out his two arms at right
angles, and apparently stooping over him. It was just in the position
that Smallbones lay on the forecastle of the cutter on that day morning,
when he was about to keel-haul him, and the corporal, in his state of
mental and bodily depression, was certain that it was the ghost of the
poor lad whom he had so often tortured. Terror raised his hair
erect--his mouth was wide open--he could not speak--he tried to analyse
it, but a wave dashed in his face--his eyes and mouth were filled with
salt water, and the corporal threw himself down on the thwarts of the
boat, quite regardless whether it went to the bottom or not; there he
lay, half groaning, half praying, with his hands to his eyes, and his
huge nether proportion raised in the air, every limb trembling with
blended cold and fright. One hour more, and there would have been
nothing but corporal parts of Corporal Spitter.
The reason why the last movement of the corporal did not swamp the boat,
was simply that it was aground on one of the flats; and the figure which
had alarmed the conscience-stricken corporal, was nothing more than the
outside beacon of a weir for catching fish, being a thin post with a
cross bar to it, certainly not unlike Smallbones in figure, supposing
him to have put his arms in that position.
For upwards of an hour did the corporal lie reversed, when the day
dawned, and the boat had been left high and dry upon the flat. The
fishermen came down to examine their weir, and see what was their
success, when they discovered the boat with its contents. At first they
could not imagine what it was, for they could perceive nothing but the
capacious round of the corporal, which rose up in the air, but, by
degrees, they made out that there was a head and feet attached to it,
and they contrived, with the united efforts of four men, to raise him
up, and discovered that life was not yet extinct. They poured a little
schnappes into his mouth, and he recovered so far as to open his eyes,
and they having brought down with them two little carts drawn by dogs,
they put the corporal into one, covered him up, and yoking all the dogs
to the one cart, for the usual train could not move so heavy a weight,
two of them escorted him up to their huts, while the others threw the
fish caught into the cart which remained, and took possession of the
boat. The fishermen's wives, perceiving the cart so heavily laden,
imagined, as it approached the huts, that there had been unusual
success, and were not a little disappointed when they found that instead
of several bushels of fine fish, they had only caught a corporal of
marines; but they were kind-hearted, for they had known misery, and Van
Spitter was put into a bed, and covered up with all the blankets they
could collect, and very soon was able to drink some warm soup offered to
him. It was not, however, till long past noon, that the corporal was
able to narrate what had taken place.
"Will your lieutenant pay us for saving you and bringing him his boat?"
demanded the men.
Now, it must be observed, that a great revolution had taken place in the
corporal's feelings since the horror and sufferings of the night. He
felt hatred towards Vanslyperken, and good-will towards those whom he
had treated unkindly. The supernatural appearance of Smallbones, in
which he still believed, and which appeared to him as a warning--what he
had suffered from cold and exhaustion, which by him was considered as a
punishment for his treatment of the poor lad but the morning before, had
changed the heart of Corporal Van Spitter, so he replied in Dutch,
"He will give you nothing, good people, not even a glass of schnappes, I
tell you candidly--so keep the boat if you wish--I will not say a word
about it, except that it is lost. He is not likely to see it again.
Besides, you can alter it, and paint it."
This very generous present of his Majesty's property by the corporal,
was very agreeable to the fishermen, as it amply repaid them for all
their trouble. The corporal put on his clothes, and ate a hearty meal,
was freely supplied with spirits, and went to bed quite recovered. The
next morning, the fishermen took him down to Amsterdam in their own
boat, when Van Spitter discovered that the _Yungfrau_ had sailed; this
was very puzzling, and Corporal Van Spitter did not know what to do.
After some cogitation, it occurred to him that, for Vanslyperken's sake,
he might be well received at the Lust Haus by widow Vandersloosh, little
imagining how much at a discount was his lieutenant in that quarter.
To the Frau Vandersloosh accordingly he repaired, and the first person
he met was Babette, who finding that the corporal was a Dutchman, and
belonging to the _Yungfrau_, and who presumed that he had always felt
the same ill-will towards Vanslyperken and Snarleyyow, as did the rest
of the ship's company, immediately entered into a narrative of the
conduct of Snarleyyow on the preceding night, the anger of her mistress,
and every other circumstance with which the reader is already
acquainted. Corporal Van Spitter thus fortunately found out how matters
stood previous to his introduction to the widow. He expatiated upon his
sufferings, upon the indifference of his lieutenant in sailing as to
what had become of him, and fully persuaded Babette not only that he was
inimical, which now certainly he was, but that he always had been so,
to Mr Vanslyperken. Babette, who was always ready to retail news, went
up to the widow, and amused her, as she dressed her, with the corporal's
adventures, and the widow felt an interest in, before she had seen,
Corporal Van Spitter, from the account of his "moving accidents by flood
But if prepossessed in his favour before she saw him, what did she feel
when she first beheld the substantial proportions of Corporal Van
Spitter! There she beheld the beau ideal of her imagination--the very
object of her widow's dreams--the antipodes of Vanslyperken, and as
superior as "Hyperion to a Satyr." He had all the personal advantages,
with none of the defects of her late husband; he was quite as fleshy,
but had at least six inches more in height, and, in the eyes of the
widow, the Corporal Van Spitter was the finest man she ever had beheld,
and she mentally exclaimed, "There is the man for my money;" and, at the
same time, resolved that she would win him. Alas I how short-sighted are
mortals; little did the corporal imagine that the most untoward event in
his life would be the cause of his being possessed of ease and
competence. The widow received him most graciously, spoke in no measured
terms against Vanslyperken, at which the corporal raised his huge
shoulders, as much as to say, "He is even worse than you think him," was
very violent against Snarleyyow, whom the corporal, aware that it was no
mutiny, made no ceremony in "damning in heaps," as the saying is.
The widow begged that he would feel no uneasiness, as he should remain
with her till the cutter returned; and an hour after the first
introduction, Corporal Van Spitter had breakfasted with, and was
actually sitting, by her request, on the little fubsy sofa, in the very
place of Vanslyperken, with Frau Vandersloosh by his side.
We must pass over the few days during which the cutter was away. Widows
have not that maiden modesty to thwart their wishes, which so often
prevents a true love tale from being told. And all that the widow could
not tell, Babette, duly instructed, told for her, and it was understood,
before the cutter's arrival, that Corporal Van Spitter was the accepted
lover of the Frau Vandersloosh. But still it was necessary that there
should be secrecy, not only on account of the corporal's being under the
command of the lieutenant, who, of course, would not allow himself to be
crossed in his love without resenting it, but also, because it was not
advisable that the crew of the _Yungfrau_ should not be permitted to
spend their money at the Lust Haus. It was therefore agreed that the
lieutenant should be blinded, as to the real nature of the intimacy, and
that nothing should take place until the cutter was paid off, and
Corporal Van Spitter should be a gentleman at large.
Independent of the wisdom of the above proceedings, there was a secret
pleasure to all parties in deceiving the deceiver Vanslyperken. But
something else occurred which we must now refer to. The corporal's
residence at the widow's house had not been unobserved by the Jesuit,
who was the French agent in the house opposite, and it appeared to him,
after the inquiries he had made, that Corporal Van Spitter might be made
serviceable. He had been sent for and sounded, and it was canvassed with
the widow whether he should accept the offers or not, and finally it was
agreed that he should, as there would be little or no risk. Now, it so
happened, that the corporal had gone over to the Jesuit's house to agree
to the proposals, and was actually in the house conversing with him,
when Vanslyperken arrived and knocked at the door. The corporal
ascertaining who it was by a small clear spot left in the painted window
for scrutiny, begged that he might be concealed, and was immediately
shown into the next room by a door, which was hid behind a screen. The
Jesuit did not exactly shut the door, as he supposed he did, and the
corporal, who wondered what could have brought Vanslyperken there, kept
it ajar during the whole of the interview and the counting out of the
money. Vanslyperken left, and as he shut the other door the corporal
did the same with the one he held ajar, and took a seat at the other end
of the room, that the Jesuit might not suspect his having overheard all
that had passed.
Now the Jesuit had made up his mind that it was better to treat with the
principal than with a second, and therefore did not further require the
services of Corporal Van Spitter. He told him that the lieutenant having
received private information that one of the people of the cutter had
been seen at his house, and knowing that he was the French agent, had
come to inform him that if he attempted to employ any of his men in
carrying letters, that he would inform against him to the authorities.
That he was very sorry, but that after such a notice he was afraid that
the arrangements could not proceed. The corporal appeared to be
satisfied, and took his final leave. No wonder, therefore, that the
widow and Babette were on the watch, when they saw Vanslyperken enter
the house, at the very time the corporal was there also.
The corporal went over to the widow's, and narrated all that he had
heard and seen.
"Why, the traitor!" exclaimed the widow.
"Yes, mein Gott!" repeated the corporal.
"The villain to sell his country for gold."
"Yes, mein Gott!" repeated the corporal.
"Fifty guineas, did you say, Mynheer Van Spitter?"
"Yes, mein Gott!" repeated the corporal.
"Oh, the wretch!--well," continued the widow, "at all events he is in
"Yes, mein Gott!"
"You can hang him any day in the week."
"Yes, mein Gott!"
"Ho, ho! Mr Vanslyperken:--well, well, Mr Vanslyperken, we will see,"
continued the widow, indignant at the lieutenant receiving so large a
sum, which would otherwise have been, in all probability, made over to
Corporal Van Spitter, with whom she now felt that their interests were
"Tousand tyfels!" roared the corporal, dashing his foot upon one of the
flaps of the little table before them with so much force, that it was
broken short off and fell down on the floor.
"Hundred tousand tyfels!" continued the corporal, when he witnessed the
effects of his violence.
Although the widow lamented her table, she forgave the corporal with a
smile; she liked such proofs of strength in her intended, and she,
moreover, knew that the accident was occasioned by indignation at
"Yes, yes, Mr Vanslyperken, you'll pay me for that," exclaimed she; "I
prophesy that before long you and your nasty cur will both swing
The corporal now walked across the little parlour and back again, then
turned to the widow Vandersloosh, and with a most expressive look
"Yes, mein Gott!"
After which he sat down again by the side of the widow, and they had a
short consultation; before it was over, Corporal Van Spitter declared
himself the deadly enemy of Lieutenant Vanslyperken; swore that he would
be his ruin, and ratified the oath upon the widow's lips. Alas! what
changes there are in this world!
After which solemn compact the corporal rose, took his leave, went on
board, and reported himself, as we have stated in the preceding chapter.
In which Snarleyyow proves to be the devil, and no mistake.
That the corporal mystified his lieutenant, may easily be supposed; but
the corporal had other work to do, and he did it immediately. He went up
to Jemmy Ducks, who looked daggers at him, and said to him quietly,
"That he had something to say to him as soon as it was dusk, and they
would not be seen together." Vanslyperken ordered the corporal to resume
his office, and serve out the provisions that afternoon: and to the
astonishment of the men, he gave them not only full, but overweight; and
instead of abusing them, and being cross, he was good-humoured, and
joked with them; and all the crew stared at each other, and wondered
what could be the matter with Corporal Van Spitter. But what was their
amazement, upon Snarleyyow's coming up to him as he was serving out
provisions, instead of receiving something from the hand of the corporal
as usual, he, on the contrary, received a sound kick on the ribs from
his foot which sent him yelping back into the cabin. Their astonishment
could only be equalled by that of Snarleyyow himself. But that was not
all; it appeared as if wonders would never cease, for when Smallbones
came up to receive his master's provisions, after the others had been
served and gone away, the corporal not only kindly received him, but
actually presented him with a stiff glass of grog mixed with the
corporal's own hand. When he offered it, the lad could not believe his
eyes, and even when he had poured it down his throat, he would not
believe his own mouth; and he ran away, leaving his provisions,
chuckling along the lower deck till he could gain the forecastle, and
add this astonishing piece of intelligence to the other facts, which
were already the theme of admiration.
"There be odd chops and changes in this here world, for sartin,"
observed Coble. (Exactly the same remark as we made at the end of the
"Mayn't it all be gammon?" said Bill Spurey.
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