Captain Frederick Marryat
Part 6 out of 9
"Mein Gott, Mynheer Vanslyperken! suppose it vas possible, I not take
your money, I do it wid pleasure; but, sir, it not possible."
"Not possible!" exclaimed Vanslyperken.
"No, mynheer," replied the corporal, "I not tell you all, tousand tyfel,
I not tell you all;" and here the corporal put his hand to his forehead
and was silent, much to Vanslyperken's amazement. But the fact was, that
Corporal Van Spitter was thinking what he possibly could say. At last, a
brilliant thought struck him--he narrated to the lieutenant how he had
seen the ghost of Smallbones, as he thought, when he was floating about,
adrift on the Zuyder Zee--described with great force his horror at the
time of the appearance of the supernatural object, and tailed on to what
he believed to be true, that which he knew to be false, to wit, that the
apparition had cried out to him, that "_he was not to be hurt by mortal
man_." "Gott in Himmel," finished the corporal, "I never was so
frightened in my life. I see him now, as plain as I see you, mynheer.
Twenty tousand tyfels, but the voice was like de tunder--and his eye
like de lightning--I fell back in one swoon. Ah, mein Gott, mein Gott!"
So well did the corporal play his part, that Vanslyperken became quite
terrified; the candle appeared to burn dim, and he dared not move to
snuff it. He could not but credit the corporal, for there was an
earnestness of description, and a vividness of colouring, which could
not have been invented; besides, was not the corporal his earnest and
only friend? "Corporal," said Vanslyperken, "perhaps you'll like a glass
of scheedam; there's some in the cupboard."
This was very kind of Mr Vanslyperken, but he wanted one himself, much
more than the corporal. The corporal produced the bottle and the glass,
poured it out, made his military salute, and tossed it off.
"Give me another glass, corporal," said Vanslyperken, in a tremulous
tone. The lieutenant took one, two, three glasses, one after another, to
The corporal had really frightened him. He was convinced that Smallbones
had a charmed life. Did he not float to the Nab buoy and back
again?--did not a pistol ball pass through him without injury?
Vanslyperken shuddered; he took a fresh glass, and then handed the
bottle to the corporal, who helped himself, saluted, and the liquor
again disappeared in a moment.
Dutch courage is proverbial, although a libel upon one of the bravest of
nations. Vanslyperken now felt it, and again he commenced with the
corporal. "What were the words?" inquired he.
"Dat he was not to be hurt by mortal man, mynheer. I can take mine piple
oath of it," replied the corporal.
"Damnation!" cried Vanslyperken; "but stop--mortal man--perhaps he may
be hurt by woman."
"Dat is quite anoder ting, mynheer."
"He shan't escape if I can help it," retorted Vanslyperken. "I must
think about it." Vanslyperken poured out another glass of scheedam, and
pushed the stone bottle to the corporal, who helped himself without
ceremony. Mr Vanslyperken was now about two-thirds drunk, for he was not
used to such a quantity of spirits.
"Now, if I had only been friends with that--that--hell-fire Moggy
Salisbury," thought Vanslyperken, speaking aloud to himself.
"Mein Gott, yes, mynheer," replied the corporal.
Vanslyperken took another glass--spilling a great deal on the table as
he poured it out; he then covered his eyes with his hand, as if in
thought. Thereupon the corporal filled without being asked, and, as he
perceived that his superior remained in the same position, and did not
observe him, he helped himself to a second glass, and then waited till
Vanslyperken should speak again; but the liquor had overpowered him, and
he spoke no more.
The corporal, after a few minutes, went up to his superior; he touched
him on the shoulder, saying, "Mynheer," but he obtained no reply. On the
contrary, the slight touch made Mr Vanslyperken fall forward on the
table. He was quite insensible.
So the corporal took him up in his arms, laid him in his bed, then
taking possession of the lieutenant's chair, for he was tired of
standing so long, he set to work to empty the bottle, which, being large
and full at the time that it was produced from the cupboard, took some
time, and before it was accomplished, the Corporal Van Spitter had
fallen fast asleep in the chair. Shortly afterwards the candle burnt
out, and the cabin was in darkness.
It was about three o'clock in the morning when Mr Vanslyperken began to
recover his senses, and as his recollection returned, so were his ears
met with a stupendous roaring and unusual noise. It was, to his
imagination, unearthly, for he had been troubled with wild dreams about
Smallbones, and his appearance to the corporal. It sounded like thunder,
and Mr Vanslyperken thought that he could plainly make out, "_Mortal
man! mortal man!_" and, at times, the other words of the supernatural
intimation to the corporal. The mortal man was drawn out in lengthened
cadence, and in a manner truly horrible. Vanslyperken called out,
"Mor--tal--man," was the reply.
Again Vanslyperken almost shrieked in a perspiration of fear. The sound
now ceased; but it was followed up by a noise like the rattling of
glasses, tumbling about of the chairs and table, and Vanslyperken buried
his face under the clothes. Then the door, which had been shut, was
heard by him to slam like thunder; and then Snarleyyow barked loud and
deep. "Oh! God forgive me!" cried the terrified lieutenant. "Our
Father--which art in heaven--save me--save me!"
Shortly afterwards the corporal made his appearance with a light, and
inquired if Mr Vanslyperken had called. He found him reeking with
perspiration, and half dead with fear. In broken words he stated how he
had been visited, and how the same intimation that no mortal man could
hurt Smallbones had been rung into his ears.
"It was only one dream, Mynheer Vanslyperken," observed the corporal.
"No--it was no dream," replied Vanslyperken. "Stay in the cabin, good
"Yes, mynheer," replied the corporal, drawing the curtains of the bed;
and then quietly picking up the various articles on the floor, the table
and chairs which had been overturned.
Alas! Fear is the mate of guilt. All this horrid visitation was simply
that Mr Vanslyperken had heard the corporal's tremendous snoring, as he
slept in the chair, and which his imagination had turned into the words,
"Mortal man." The first exclamation of Mr Vanslyperken had awoke the
corporal, who, aware of the impropriety of his situation, had attempted
to retreat; in so doing he had overturned the table and chairs, with the
bottles and glasses upon them.
Fearful of discovery upon this unexpected noise, he had hastened out of
the cabin, slammed the door, and waked up Snarleyyow; but he knew, from
the exclamations of Vanslyperken, that the lieutenant was frightened out
of his wits; so he very boldly returned with a candle to ascertain the
result of the disturbance, and was delighted to find that the lieutenant
was still under the delusion.
So soon as he had replaced everything, the corporal took a chair, and
finding that he had fortunately put the cork into the stone bottle
before he fell asleep, and that there was still one or two glasses in
it, he drank them off, and waited patiently for daylight. By this time
Vanslyperken was again asleep and snoring; so the corporal took away all
the broken fragments, put the things in order, and left the cabin.
When Vanslyperken awoke and rang his bell, Smallbones entered.
Vanslyperken got up, and finding the cabin as it was left the night
before, was more than ever persuaded that he had been supernaturally
visited. Fear made him quite civil to the lad, whose life he now
considered, as the ship's company did that of the dog's, it was quite
useless for him, at least, to attempt, and thus ends this chapter
In which there is nothing very particular or very interesting.
We must now change the scene for a short time, and introduce to our
readers a company assembled in the best inn which, at that time, was to
be found in the town of Cherbourg. The room in which they were assembled
was large in dimensions, but with a low ceiling--the windows were
diminutive, and gave but a subdued light, on account of the vicinity of
the houses opposite. The window-frames were small, and cut diamond-wise;
and, in the centre of each of the panes, was a round of coarsely-painted
glass. A narrow table ran nearly the length of the room, and, at each
end of it, there was a large chimney, in both of which logs of wood were
burning cheerfully. What are now termed _chaises longues_, were drawn to
the sides of the table, or leaning against the walls of the room, which
were without ornament, and neatly coloured with yellow ochre.
The company assembled might have been about thirty in number, of which
half a dozen, perhaps, were in the ecclesiastical dress of the time;
while the others wore the habiliments then appropriated to cavaliers or
gentlemen, with very little difference from those as worn in the times
of the Charleses in England, except that the cloak had been discarded,
and the more substantial roquelaure substituted in its place. Most of
the party were men who had not yet arrived to middle age, if we except
the clericals, who were much more advanced in life; and any one, who had
ever fallen in with the smuggling lugger and its crew, would have had no
difficulty in recognising many of them, in the well-attired and
evidently high-born and well-educated young men, who were seated or
standing in the room. Among them Sir Robert Barclay was eminently
conspicuous; he was standing by the fire conversing with two of the
"Gentlemen," said he at last, "our worthy Father Lovell has just arrived
from St Germains; and, as the most rapid communication is now necessary,
he is empowered to open here and before us, every despatch which we
bring over, before it is transmitted to head-quarters, with permission
to act as may seem best to the friends of his Majesty here assembled."
The fact was, that King James had lately completely given himself up to
religious exercises and mortification, and any communication to him was
attended with so much delay, that it had been considered advisable to
act without consulting him; and to avoid the delay consequent on the
transmission of communications to Paris, the most active parties had
determined that they would, for the present, take up their residence at
Cherbourg, and merely transmit to their friends at St Germains, an
account of their proceedings, gaining, at least, a week by this
arrangement. The party assembled had many names of some note. Among the
ecclesiastics were Lovell, Collier, Snatt, and Cooke; among the
cavaliers were those of Musgrave, Friend, and Perkins, whose relatives
had suffered in the cause; Smith, Clancey, Herbert, Cunningham, Leslie,
and many others.
When Sir Robert Barclay approached the table, the others took their
seats in silence.
"Gentlemen," said Sir Robert, laying down the despatches, which had been
opened, "you must be aware that our affairs now wear a very prosperous
appearance. Supported as we are by many in the government of England,
and by more in the House of Commons, with so many adherents here to our
cause, we have every rational prospect of success. During the first
three months of this year, much has been done; and, at the same time, it
must be confessed that the usurper and the heretics have taken every
step in their power to assail and to crush us. By this despatch, now in
my hand, it appears that a Bill has passed the Commons, by which it is
enacted, 'that no person born after the 25th March next, being a Papist,
shall be capable of inheriting any title of honour or estate,
within the kingdom of England, dominion of Wales, or town of
Here, some of the ecclesiastics lifted up their eyes, others struck
their clenched hands on the table, and the cavaliers, as if
simultaneously, made the room ring, by seizing hold of the handles of
"And further, gentlemen, 'that no Papist shall be capable of purchasing
any lands, tenements, or hereditaments, either in his own name, or in
the name of any other person in trust for him.'"
The reader must be reminded, that in those days, there was no _Times_ or
_Morning Herald_ laid upon the breakfast table with the debates of the
House--that communication was anything but rapid, there being no
regular post--so that what had taken place two months back, was very
"It appears then, gentlemen, that our only chance is to win our
properties with our own good swords."
"We will!" was the unanimous reply of the laity present.
"In Scotland, our adherents increase daily; the interests of so many
have been betrayed by the usurper, that thousands of swords will start
from their scabbards so soon as we can support the cause with the
promised assistance of the court of Versailles: and we have here
intelligence that the parliament are in a state of actual hostility to
the usurper, and that the national ferment is so great as to be almost
on the verge of rebellion. I have also gained from a private
communication from our friend Ramsay, who is now at Amsterdam, and in a
position to be most useful to us, that the usurper has intimated to his
own countrymen, although it is not yet known in England, that he will
return to the Hague in July. Such, gentlemen, is the intelligence I have
to impart as respects our own prospects in our own country--to which I
have to add, that the secret partition treaty, which is inimical to the
interests of the French king, has been signed both in London and the
Hague, as well as by the French envoy there. A more favourable
occurrence for us, perhaps, never occurred, as it will only increase the
already well-known ill-will of his Catholic Majesty against the usurper
of his own father-in-law's crown. I have now, gentlemen, laid before you
our present position and future prospects; and, as we are met to consult
upon the propriety of further measures, I shall be most happy to hear
the suggestions of others."
Sir Robert Barclay then sat down.
Lovell, the Jesuit, first rose. "I have," said he, "no opinion to offer
relative to warlike arrangements, those not being suitable to my
profession. I leave them to men like Sir Robert, whose swords are always
ready, and whose talents are so well able to direct their swords; still,
it is well known, that the sources of war must be obtained, if war is
to be carried on; and I have great pleasure in announcing to those
assembled, that from our friends in England, I have received advice of
the two several sums of ninety-three thousand pounds and twenty-nine
thousand pounds, sterling money, having been actually collected, and now
held in trust for the support of the good cause; and, further, that the
collections are still going on with rapidity and success. From his most
Catholic Majesty we have received an order upon the minister for the sum
of four thousand louis, which has been duly honoured, and from our
blessed father, the Pope, an order for five hundred thousand paolis,
amounting to about thirteen thousand pounds in sterling money, together
with entire absolution for all sins already committed, and about to be
committed, and a secure promise of paradise to those who fall in the
maintenance of the true faith and the legitimate king. I have, further,
great expectations from Ireland, and many promises from other quarters,
in support of the cause which, with the blessing of God, I trust will
As soon as Lovell sat down, Collier, the ecclesiastic, rose.
"That we shall find plenty of willing swords, and a sufficient supply of
money for our purposes, there can be no doubt; but I wish to propose one
question to the company here assembled. It is an undoubted article of
the true faith, that we are bound to uphold it by any and by every
means. All human attempts are justifiable in the service of God. Many
have already been made to get rid of the usurper, but they have not been
crowned with success, as we too well know; and the blood of our friends,
many of whom were not accessories to the act, has been lavishly spilt by
the insatiate heretic.
"But they have, before this, received immortal crowns, in suffering as
martyrs in the cause of religion and justice. I still hold that our
attempts to cut off the usurper should be continued; some hand more
fortunate may succeed. But not only is his life to be taken, if
possible, but the succession must be cut off root and branch. You all
know that, of the many children born to the heretic William, all but one
have been taken away from him in judgment for his manifold crimes. One
only remains, the present Duke of Gloucester, and I do consider that
this branch of heresy should be removed, even in preference to his
parent, whose conduct is such as to assist our cause, and whose death
may weaken the animosity of his Catholic Majesty, whose hostility is
well known to be personal. I have neither men nor money to offer to you,
but I have means, I trust, soon to accomplish this point, and I dedicate
my useless life to the attempt."
It would occupy too much of our pages, if we were to narrate all that
was said and done at this conference, which we have been obliged to
report, as intimately connected with our history. Many others addressed
the meeting, proposals were made, rejected, and acceded to. Lists of
adherents were produced, and of those who might be gained over.
Resolutions were entered into and recorded, and questions debated.
Before the breaking up, the accounts of the sums expended, and the
monies still on hand, were brought forward; and in the former items, the
name of Vanslyperken appeared rather prominent. As soon as the accounts
were audited, the conference broke up.
We have said that, among those who were at the conference, might be
observed some persons who might be recognised as part of the crew of the
lugger. Such was the case; Sir Robert Barclay and many others were men
of good family, and stout Jacobites. These young men served in the boat
with the other men, who were no more than common seamen; but this was
considered necessary in those times of treachery. The lugger pulled
eighteen oars, was clinker built, and very swift, even with a full
cargo. The after-oars were pulled by the adherents of Sir Robert, and
the arm-chest was stowed in the stern-sheets: so that these young men
being always armed, no attempt to betray them, or to rise against them,
on the part of the smugglers, had they been so inclined, could have
succeeded. Ramsay's trust as steersman had been appropriated to Jemmy
Salisbury, but no other alteration had taken place. We have entered into
this detail to prove the activity of the Jacobite party. About an hour
after the conference, Sir Robert and his cavaliers had resumed their
seamen's attire, for they were to go over that night; and two hours
before dusk, those who had been at a conference, in which the fate of
kingdoms and crowned heads was at stake, were to be seen labouring at
the oar, in company with common seamen, and urging the fast boat through
the yielding waters, towards her haven at the cove.
Besides other Matter, containing an Argument.
We left Ramsay domiciliated in the house of the syndic Van Krause, on
excellent terms with his host, who looked upon him as the mirror of
information, and not a little in the good graces of the syndic's
daughter, Wilhelmina. There could not be a more favourable opportunity,
perhaps, for a handsome and well-informed young man to prosecute his
addresses and to gain the affections of the latter, were he so inclined.
Wilhelmina had been brought up in every luxury, but isolated from the
world. She was now just at the age at which it was her father's
intention to introduce her; but romantic in her disposition, she cared
little for the formal introduction which it was intended should take
place. Neither had she seen, in any of the young Dutch aristocracy, most
of whom were well known to her by sight, as pointed out to her by her
father when riding with him, that form and personal appearance which her
mind's eye had embodied in her visions of her future lover. Her mind was
naturally refined, and she looked for that elegance and grace of
deportment which she sought for in vain among her countrymen, but which
had suddenly been presented to her in the person of Edward Ramsay.
In the few meetings of her father's friends at their house, the
conversation was uninteresting, if not disgusting; for it was about
goods and merchandise, money and speculation, occasionally interrupted
by politics, which were to her of as little interest. How different was
the demeanour, the address, and the conversation of the young
Englishman, who had been bred in courts, and, at the same time, had
travelled much! There was an interest in all he said, so much
information blended with novelty and amusement, so much wit and
pleasantry crowning all, that Wilhelmina was fascinated without her
being aware of it; and, before the terms of intimacy had warranted her
receiving his hand on meeting, she had already unconsciously given her
heart. The opportunities arising from her father's close attention to
his commercial affairs, and the mutual attraction which brought them
together during the major part of the day, she, anxious to be amused,
and he attracted by her youth and beauty, were taken advantage of by
them both, and the consequence was that, before ten days, they were
The syndic either did not perceive the danger to which his child was
exposed, provided that there was any objection to the intimacy, or else,
equally pleased with Ramsay, he had no objection to matters taking
As for Ramsay, that he had at first cultivated the intimacy with
Wilhelmina more perhaps from distraction than with any definite purpose,
is certain; but he soon found that her attractions were too great to
permit him to continue it, if he had not serious intentions. When he had
entered his own room, before he had been a week in the house, he had
taxed himself severely as to the nature of his feelings, and he was then
convinced that he must avoid her company, which was impossible if he
remained in the house, or, as a man of honour, make a timely retreat;
for Ramsay was too honourable to trifle with the feelings of an innocent
girl. Having well weighed this point, he then calculated the probability
of his being discovered, and the propriety of his continuing his
attentions to the daughter of one whom he was deceiving, and whose
political opinions were at such variance with his own--but this was a
point on which he could come to no decision. His duty to the cause he
supported would not allow him to quit the house--to remain in the house
without falling in love was impossible.
Why should his political opinions ever be known? and why should not
Wilhelmina be of the same opinion as he was?--and why--Ramsay fell
asleep, putting these questions to himself, and the next morning he
resolved that things should take their chance.
It was about a fortnight since the cutter had left for England. Ramsay
was rather impatient for intelligence, but the cutter had not yet
returned. Breakfast had been over some time, Mynheer Van Krause had
descended to his warehouses, and Ramsay and Wilhelmina were sitting
together upon one of the sofas in the saloon, both reclining and free
from that restraint of which nothing but extreme intimacy will
"And so, my Wilhelmina," said Ramsay, taking up her hand, which lay
listless at her side, and playing with her taper fingers, "you really
think William of Nassau is a good man."
"And do not you, Ramsay?" replied Wilhelmina, surprised.
"However I may rejoice at his being on the throne of England, I doubt
whether I can justify his conduct to the unfortunate King James; in
leaguing against his own father-in-law and dispossessing him of his
kingdom. Suppose now, Wilhelmina, that any fortunate man should become
one day your husband: what a cruel--what a diabolical conduct it would
be on his part--at least, so it appears to me--if, in return for your
father putting him in possession of perhaps his greatest treasure on
earth, he were to seize upon all your father's property, and leave him
a beggar, because other people were to invite him so to do."
"I never heard it placed in that light before, Ramsay; that the alliance
between King William and his father-in-law should have made him very
scrupulous, I grant, but when the happiness of a nation depended upon
it, ought not a person in William's situation to waive all minor
"The happiness of a nation, Wilhelmina? In what way would you prove that
so much was at stake?"
"Was not the Protestant religion at stake? Is not King James a bigoted
"I grant that, and therefore ought not to reign over a Protestant
nation; but if you imagine that the happiness of any nation depends upon
his religion, I am afraid you are deceived. Religion has been made the
excuse for interfering with the happiness of a nation whenever no better
excuse could be brought forward; but depend upon it, the mass of the
people will never quarrel about religion if they are left alone, and
their interests not interfered with. Had King James not committed
himself in other points, he might have worshipped his Creator in any
form he thought proper. That a Protestant king was all that was
necessary to quiet the nation, is fully disproved by the present state
of the country, now that the sceptre has been, for some years, swayed by
King William, it being, at this moment, in a state very nearly
approaching to rebellion."
"But is not that occasioned by the machinations of the Jacobite party,
who are promoting dissension in every quarter?" replied Wilhelmina.
"I grant that they are not idle," replied Ramsay; "but observe the state
of bitter variance between William and the House of Commons, which
represents the people of England. What can religion have to do with
that? No, Wilhelmina; although, in this country there are few who do not
rejoice at their king being called to the throne of England, there are
many, and those the most wise, in that country, who lament it quite
"But why so?"
"Because mankind are governed by interest, and patriotism is little more
than a cloak. The benefits to this country, by the alliance with
England, are very great, especially in a commercial point of view, and
therefore you will find no want of patriots; but to England the case is
different; it is not her interest to be involved and mixed up in
continental wars and dissensions, which must now inevitably be the case.
Depend upon it, that posterity will find that England will have paid
very dear for a Protestant king; religion is what everyone is willing to
admit the propriety and necessity of, until they are taxed to pay for
it, and then it is astonishing how very indifferent, if not disgusted,
they become to it."
"Why, Ramsay, one would never imagine you to be such a warm partisan of
the present government, as I believe you really are, to hear you talk
this morning," replied Wilhelmina.
"My public conduct, as belonging to a party, does not prevent my having
my private opinions. To my party, I am, and ever will be steadfast; but
knowing the world, and the secret springs of most people's actions, as I
do, you must not be surprised at my being so candid with you,
Wilhelmina. Our conversation, I believe, commenced upon the character of
King William; and I will confess to you, that estimating the two
characters in moral worth, I would infinitely prefer being the exiled
and Catholic James than the unnatural and crowned King William?"
"You will say next, that you would just as soon be a Catholic as a
"And if I had been brought up in the tenets of the one instead of the
other, what difference would it have made, except that I should have
adhered to the creed of my forefathers, and have worshipped the Almighty
after their fashion, form, and ceremonies? And are not all religions
good if they be sincere?--do not they all tend to the same object, and
have the same goal in view--that of gaining heaven? Would you not prefer
a good, honest, conscientious man, were he a Catholic, to a mean,
intriguing, and unworthy person, who professed himself a Protestant?"
"Most certainly; but I should prefer to the just Catholic, a man who was
a just Protestant."
"That is but natural; but recollect, Wilhelmina, you have seen and
heard, as yet, but one side of the question; and if I speak freely to
you, it is only to give you the advantage of my experience from having
mixed with the world. I am true to my party, and, as a man, I must
belong to a party, or I become a nonentity. But were I in a condition so
unshackled that I might take up or lay down my opinions as I pleased,
without loss of character--as a woman may, for instance--so little do I
care for party--so well balanced do I know the right and the wrong to be
on both sides--that I would, to please one I loved, at once yield up my
opinions, to agree with her, if she would not yield up hers to agree
"Then you think a woman might do so? that is no compliment to the sex,
Ramsay; for it is as much as to assert that we have not only no weight
or influence in the world, but also that we have no character or
"Far from it; I only mean to say that women do not generally enter
sufficiently into politics to care much for them; they generally imbibe
the politics of those they live with, without further examination, and
that it is no disgrace to them if they change them. Besides, there is
one feeling in women so powerful as to conquer all others, and when once
that enters the breast, the remainder are absorbed or become obedient
"And that feeling is"
"Love, Wilhelmina; and if a woman happens to have been brought up in one
way of thinking by her parents, when she transfers her affections to her
husband, should his politics be adverse, she will soon come round to his
opinion, if she really loves him."
"I am not quite so sure of that, Ramsay."
"I am quite sure she ought. Politics and party are ever a subject of
dispute, and therefore should be avoided by a wife; besides, if a woman
selects one as her husband, her guide and counsellor through life, one
whom she swears to love, honour, cherish, and obey, she gives but a poor
proof of it, if she does not yield up her judgment in all matters more
peculiarly his province."
"You really put things in such a new light, Ramsay, that I hardly know
how to answer you, even when I am not convinced."
"Because you have not had sufficient time for reflection, Wilhelmina;
but weigh well, and dwell upon what I have said, and then you will
either acknowledge that I am right, or find arguments to prove that I am
wrong. But you promised me some singing. Let me lead you into the
We have introduced this conversation between Wilhelmina and Ramsay, to
show not only what influence he had already gained over the artless, yet
intelligent girl, but also the way by which he considerately prepared
her for the acknowledgment which he resolved to make to her on some
future opportunity; for, although Ramsay cared little for deceiving the
father, he would not have married the daughter without her being fully
aware of who he was. These conversations were constantly renewed, as if
accidentally, by Ramsay; and long before he had talked in direct terms
of love, he had fully prepared her for it, so that he felt she would not
receive a very severe shock when he threw off the mask, even when she
discovered that he was a Catholic, and opposed to her father in religion
as well as in politics. The fact was, that Ramsay, at first, was as much
attracted by her wealth as by her personal charms; but, like many other
men, as his love increased, so did he gradually become indifferent to
her wealth, and he was determined to win her for his wife in spite of
all obstacles, and even if he were obliged, to secure her hand, by
carrying her off without the paternal consent.
Had it been requisite, it is not certain whether Ramsay might not have
been persuaded to have abandoned his party, so infatuated had he at last
become with the really fascinating Wilhelmina.
But Ramsay was interrupted in the middle of one of his most favourite
songs by old Koops, who informed him that the lieutenant of the cutter
was waiting for him in his room. Apologising for the necessary absence,
Ramsay quitted the music-room, and hastened to meet Vanslyperken.
Mr Vanslyperken had received his orders to return to the Hague a few
days after the fright he had received from the nasal organ of the
corporal. In pursuance of his instructions from Ramsay, he had not
failed to open all the government despatches, and extract their
contents. He had also brought over letters from Ramsay's adherents.
"You are sure these extracts are quite correct?" said Ramsay, after he
had read them over.
"Quite so, sir," replied Vanslyperken.
"And you have been careful to seal the letters again, so as to avoid
"Does not my life depend upon it, Mr Ramsay?"
"Very true, and also upon your fidelity to us. Here's your money. Let me
know when you sail, and come for orders."
Vanslyperken then took his bag of money, made his bow, and departed, and
Ramsay commenced reading over the letters received from his friends.
Mynheer Van Krause observed Vanslyperken as he was leaving the house,
and immediately hastened to Ramsay's room to inquire the news. A portion
of the contents of the despatches were made known to him, and the syndic
was very soon afterwards seen to walk out, leaving his people to mark
and tally the bales which were hoisting out from a vessel in the canal.
The fact was, that Mynheer Van Krause was so anxious to get rid of his
secret, that he could not contain himself any longer, and had set off to
communicate to one of the authorities what he had obtained.
"But from whence did you receive this intelligence, Mynheer Krause,"
demanded the other. "The despatches have not yet been opened; we are
waiting for Mynheer Van Wejen. I suppose we shall learn something there.
You knew all before we did, when the cutter arrived last time. You must
have some important friends at the English court, Mynheer Van Krause."
Here Mynheer Krause nodded his head, and looked very knowing, and
shortly afterwards took his leave.
But this particular friend of Mynheer Krause was also his particular
enemy. Krause had lately imparted secrets which were supposed to be
known and entrusted to none but those in the entire confidence of the
government. How could he have obtained them unless by the treachery of
some one at home; and why should Mynheer Krause, who was not trusted by
the government there, notwithstanding his high civil office, because he
was known to be unsafe, be trusted by some one at home, unless it were
for treacherous purposes? So argued Mr Krause's most particular friend,
who thought it proper to make known his opinions on the subject, and to
submit to the other authorities whether this was not a fair subject for
representation in their next despatches to England; and in consequence
of his suggestion, the representation was duly made. Mynheer Krause was
not the first person whose tongue had got him into difficulties.
So soon as Vanslyperken had delivered his despatches to Ramsay, he
proceeded to the widow Vandersloosh, when, as usual, he was received
with every apparent mark of cordial welcome, was again installed on the
little sofa, and again drank the beer of the widow's own brewing, and
was permitted to take her fat hand. Babette inquired after the corporal,
and, when rallied by the lieutenant, appeared to blush, and turned her
head away. The widow also assisted in the play, and declared that it
should be a match, and that Babette and herself should be married on the
same day. As the evening drew nigh, Vanslyperken took his leave, and
went on board, giving permission to the corporal to go on shore, and
very soon the corporal was installed in his place.
This is a sad world of treachery and deceit.
In which the agency of a red-herring is again introduced into our
We are somewhat inclined to moralise. We did not intend to write this
day. On the contrary, we had arranged for a party of pleasure and
relaxation, in which the heels, and every other portion of the body
upwards, except the brain, were to be employed, and that was to have a
respite. The morning was fair, and we promised ourselves amusement, but
we were deceived, and we returned to our task, as the rain poured down
in torrents, washing the dirty face of mother earth. Yes, deceived; and
here we cannot help observing, that this history of ours is a very true
picture of human life--for what a complication of treachery does it
Smallbones is deceiving his master, Mr Vanslyperken--the corporal is
deceiving Mr Vanslyperken--the widow is deceiving Mr Vanslyperken, so is
Babette, and the whole crew of the _Yungfrau_. Ramsay is deceiving his
host and his mistress. All the Jacobites, in a mass, are plotting
against and deceiving the government, and as for Mr Vanslyperken; as it
will soon appear, he is deceiving everybody, and will ultimately deceive
himself. The only honest party in the whole history is the one most
hated, as generally is the case in this world--I mean Snarleyyow. There
is no deceit about him, and therefore, _par excellence_, he is fairly
entitled to be the hero of, and to give his name to, the work. The next
most honest party in the book is Wilhelmina; all the other women, except
little Lilly, are cheats and impostors--and Lilly is too young; our
readers may, therefore, be pleased to consider Snarleyyow and
Wilhelmina as the hero and the heroine of the tale, and then it will
leave one curious feature in it, the principals will not only not be
united, but the tale will wind up without their ever seeing each other.
_Allons en avant_.
But of all the treachery practised by all the parties, it certainly
appears to us that the treachery of the widow was the most odious and
diabolical. She was like a bloated spider, slowly entwining those
threads for her victim which were to entrap him to his destruction, for
she had vowed that she never would again be led to the hymeneal altar
until Mr Vanslyperken was hanged. Perhaps, the widow Vandersloosh was in
a hurry to be married, at least, by her activity, it would so
appear--but let us not anticipate.
The little sofa was fortunately like its build, strong as a cob, or it
never could have borne the weight of two such lovers as the widow
Vandersloosh and the Corporal Van Spitter; there they sat, she radiant
with love and beer, he with ditto; their sides met, for the sofa exactly
took them both in, without an inch to spare; their hands met, their eyes
met, and whenever one raised the glass, the other was on the alert, and
their glasses met and jingled--a more practical specimen of hob and nob
was never witnessed. There was but one thing wanting to complete their
happiness, which, unlike other people's, did not hang upon a thread, but
something much stronger, it hung upon a cord; the cord which was to hang
And now the widow, like the three fates rolled into one, is weaving the
woof, and, in good Dutch, is pouring into the attentive ear of the
corporal her hopes and fears, her surmises, her wishes, her
anticipations, and her desires--and he imbibes them all greedily,
washing them down with the beer of the widow's own brewing.
"He has not been to the house opposite these two last arrivals," said
the widow, "that is certain; for Babette and I have been on the watch.
There was hanging matter there. Now I won't believe but that he must go
somewhere; he carries his letters, and takes his gold as before, depend
upon it. Yes, and I will find it out. Yes, yes, Mr Vanslyperken, we will
see who is the 'cutest--you, or the widow Vandersloosh."
"Mein Gott, yes!" replied the corporal.
"Now he landed a passenger last time, which he called a king's
messenger, and I am as sure as I sit here that he was no king's
messenger, unless he was one of King James's as was; for look you,
Corporal Van Spitter, do you suppose that King William would employ an
Englishman, as you say he was, for a messenger, when a Dutchman was to
be had for love or money?"
"No, no, we must find out where he goes to. I will have some one on the
look out when you come again, and then set Babette on the watch; she
shall track him up to the den of his treachery. Yes, yes, Mr
Vanslyperken, we will see who gains the day, you or the widow
"Mein Gott! yes," replied the corporal.
"And now, corporal, I've been thinking over all this ever since your
absence, and all you have told me about his cowardly attempts upon that
poor boy's life, and his still greater cowardice in believing such stuff
as you have made him believe about the lad not being injured by mortal
man. Stuff and nonsense! the lad is but a lad."
"Mein Gott! yes," said the corporal.
"And now, corporal, I'll tell you something else, which is, that you and
the _Yungfraus_ are just as great fools as Mynheer Vanslyperken, in
believing all that stuff and nonsense about the dog. The dog is but
This was rather a trial to the corporal's politeness; to deny what the
widow said, might displease, and, as he firmly believed otherwise, he
was put to a nonplus; but the widow looked him full in the face,
expecting assent, so at last the corporal drawled out, "Mein Gott! yes a
tog is but a tog."
The widow was satisfied, and not perceiving the nice distinction,
"Well, then, corporal, as a lad is but a lad, and a dog is but a dog, I
have been setting my wits to work about getting the rascally traitor in
my power. I mean to pretend to take every interest in him, and to get
all his secrets, and then, when he tells me that Smallbones cannot be
hurt by mortal man, I shall say he can by woman, at all events; and then
I shall make a proposition, which he'll accept fast enough, and then
I'll have more hanging matter for him, besides getting rid of the cur.
Yes, yes, Mr Vanslyperken, match a woman if you can. We'll see if your
dog is to take possession of my bedroom again."
"Mein Gott! yes," replied the corporal again.
"And now I'll tell you what I'll do, Mr Corporal; I will prepare it
myself; and, then, Mr Vanslyperken shall have it grilled for his
breakfast, and then he shall not eat it, but leave it for Smallbones,
and then Smallbones shall pretend to eat it, but put it in his pocket,
and then (for it won't do to do it on board, or he'll find out that the
lad has given it to the dog) he shall bring it on shore, and give it to
the dog here in the yard, so that he shall kill the dog himself, by
wishing to kill others. Do you understand, corporal?"
"Mein Gott! yes, I understand what you say; but what is it that you are
"What? why, a red-herring to be sure."
"But how will a red-herring kill a body or a dog?"
"Lord, corporal, how stupid you are; I'm to put arsenic in."
"Yes; but you left that out till now."
"Did I? well, that was an oversight; but now, corporal, you understand
"Mein Gott! yes; but if the lad does not die, what will he think?"
"Think! that he can take poison like pea-soup, without injury, and that
neither man nor woman can take his life; be afraid of the lad, and leave
"Mein Gott! yes," replied the rather obtuse corporal, who now
understood the whole plot.
Such was the snare laid for Mr Vanslyperken by the treacherous widow,
and before the cutter sailed, it was put in execution. She received the
lieutenant now as an accepted lover, allowed him to talk of the day,
wormed out of him all his secrets except that of his treason, abused
Smallbones, and acknowledged that she had been too hasty about the dog,
which she would be very happy to see on shore. Vanslyperken could hardly
believe his senses--the widow forgive Snarleyyow, and all for his sake,
he was delighted, enchanted, threw himself at her feet, and vowed
eternal gratitude with his lips--but vengeance in his heart.
Oh! Mr Vanslyperken, you deserved to be deceived.
The dislike expressed by the widow against Smallbones was also very
agreeable to the lieutenant, and he made her his confidant, stating what
the corporal had told him relative to the appearance of Smallbones when
he was adrift.
"Well then, lieutenant," said the widow, "if mortal man can't hurt him,
mortal woman may; and for my love for you I will prepare what will rid
you of him. But, Vanslyperken, recollect there's nothing I would not do
for you; but if it were found out--O dear! O dear!"
The widow then informed him that she would prepare a red-herring with
arsenic, which he should take on board, and order Smallbones to grill
for his breakfast; that he was to pretend not to be well, and to allow
it to be taken away by the lad, who would, of course, eat it
"Excellent!" replied Vanslyperken, who felt not only that he should get
rid of Smallbones, but have the widow in his power. "Dearest widow, how
can I be sufficiently grateful? Oh! how kind, how amiable you are!"
continued Vanslyperken, mumbling her fat fingers, which the widow
abandoned to him without reserve.
Who would have believed that, between these two, there existed a deadly
hatred? We might imagine such a thing to take place in the refinement
and artificial air of a court, but not in a Dutch Lust Haus at
Amsterdam. That evening, before his departure, did the widow present her
swain with the fatal herring; and the swain received it with as many
marks of gratitude and respect, as some knight in ancient times would
have shown when presented with some magical gift by his
The red-herring itself was but a red-herring, but the charm consisted in
the two-pennyworth of arsenic.
The next morning Vanslyperken did not fail to order the red-herring for
his breakfast, but took good care not to eat it.
Smallbones, who had been duly apprised of the whole plan, asked his
master, as he cleared away, whether he should keep the red-herring for
the next day; but Mr Vanslyperken very graciously informed him that he
might eat it himself. About an hour afterwards Mr Vanslyperken went on
shore, taking with him, for the first time, Snarleyyow, and desiring
Smallbones to come with him, with a bag of biscuit for the widow. This
plan had been proposed by the widow, as Smallbones might be supposed to
have eaten something on shore. Smallbones took as good care as his
master not to eat the herring, but put it in his pocket as a _bonne
bouche_ for Snarleyyow. Mr Vanslyperken, as they pulled on shore,
thought that the lad smelt very strong of herring, and this satisfied
him that he had eaten it; but to make more sure, he exclaimed, "Confound
it, how you smell of red-herring!"
"That's all along of having eaten one, sir," replied Smallbones,
"You'll grin in another way before an hour is over," thought his master.
The lieutenant, the dog, and the biscuit were all graciously received.
"Has he eaten it?" inquired the widow.
"Yes," replied Vanslyperken, with a nod. "Empty the bag, and I will send
him on board again."
"Not yet, not yet--give him half an hour to saunter, it will be better.
That poor dog of yours must want a little grass," said the widow,
"always being on board. Let him run a little in the yard, he will find
The obedient lieutenant opened the back-door, and Snarleyyow, who had
not forgotten either the widow Or Babette, went out of his own accord.
Mr Vanslyperken looked to ascertain if the yard-door, which led to the
street, was fast, and then returned, shutting the back-door after him.
Smallbones was waiting at the porch as usual.
"Babette," cried the widow, "mind you don't open the yard-door and let
Mr Vanslyperken's dog out. Do you hear?"
Smallbones, who understood this as the signal, immediately slipped
round, opened the yard-door, took the herring out of his pocket, and
threw it to Snarleyyow. The dog came to it, smelt it, seized it, and
walked off, with his ears and tail up, to the sunny side of the yard,
intending to have a good meal; and Smallbones, who was afraid of Mr
Vanslyperken catching him in the act, came out of the yard, and hastened
to his former post at the porch. He caught Babette's eye, coming down
stairs, and winked and smiled. Babette walked into the room, caught the
eye of the mistress, and winked and smiled. Upon which, the widow
ordered Babette to empty the bread-bag and give it to Smallbones, to
take on board,--an order repeated by Vanslyperken. Before he returned to
the boat, Smallbones again passed round to the yard-door. Snarleyyow was
there, but no signs of the red-herring. "He's a eaten it all, by gum,"
said Smallbones, grinning, and walking away to the boat, with the
bread-bag over his shoulder. As soon as he had arrived on board, the lad
communicated the fact to the crew of the _Yungfrau_, whose spirits were
raised by the intelligence, with the exception still of old Coble, who
shook his head, and declared, "It was twopence and a red-herring
Mr Vanslyperken returned on board in the afternoon, fully expecting to
hear of Smallbones being very ill. He was surprised that the man in the
boat did not tell him, and he asked them carelessly if there was
anything new on board, but received a reply in the negative. When he
came on board, followed by Snarleyyow, the eyes of the crew were
directed towards the dog, to see how he looked; but he appeared just as
lively and as cross-grained as ever, and they all shook their heads.
Vanslyperken sent for Smallbones, and looked him hard in the face.
"Ar'n't you well?" inquired he.
"Well, sir!" replied Smallbones: "I'd a bit of a twinge in my stummick
this morning, but it's all gone off now."
Mr Vanslyperken waited the whole day for Smallbones to die, but he did
not. The crew of the vessel waited the whole day for the cur to die, but
he did not. What inference could be drawn. The crew made up their minds
that the dog was supernatural; and old Coble told them that he told them
so. Mr Vanslyperken made up his mind that Smallbones was supernatural,
and the corporal shook his head, and told him that he told him so.
The reason why Snarleyyow did not die was simply this, that he did not
eat the red-herring. He had just laid it between his paws, and was about
to commence, when Smallbones, having left the yard-door open in his
hurry, the dog was perceived by a dog bigger than he, who happened to
pass that way, and who pounced upon Snarleyyow, trampling him over and
over, and walked off with the red-herring, which he had better have left
alone, as he was found dead the next morning.
The widow heard, both from the corporal and Vanslyperken, the failure of
both their projects. That Smallbones was not poisoned she was not
surprised to hear, but she took care to agree with Vanslyperken that all
attempts upon him were useless; but that the dog still lived was indeed
a matter of surprise, and the widow became a convert to the corporal's
opinion that the dog was not to be destroyed.
"A whole two-pennyworth of arsenic! Babette, only think what a cur it
must be!" And Babette, as well as her mistress, lifted up her hands in
amazement, exclaiming, "What a cur indeed!"
In which Mr Vanslyperken, although at fault, comes in for the brush.
Vanslyperken having obtained his despatches from the States General,
called at the house of Mynheer Krause, and received the letters of
Ramsay, then, once more, the cutter's head was turned towards England.
It may be as well to remind the reader, that it was in the month of
January, sixteen hundred and ninety-nine, that we first introduced Mr
Vanslyperken and his contemporaries to his notice, and that all the
important events, which we have recorded, have taken place between that
date and the month of May, which is now arrived. We think, indeed, that
the peculiar merit of this work is its remarkable unity of time and
place; for, be it observed, we intend to finish it long before the year
is out, and our whole scene is, it may be said, laid in the channel, or
between the channel and the Texel, which, considering it is an
historical novel, is remarkable. Examine other productions of this
nature, founded upon historical facts, like our own, and observe the
difference. Read Scott, Bulwer, James, or Grattan, read their historical
novels, and observe how they fly about from country to country, and from
clime to clime. As the Scythians said to Alexander, their right arm
extends to the east, and their left to the west, and the world can
hardly contain them. And over how many years do they extend their pages?
while our bantling is produced in the regular nine months, being the
exact period of time which is required for my three volumes. It must,
therefore, be allowed that in unity of time, and place and design, and
adherence to facts, our historical novel is unique.
We said that it was the month of May--not May coming in as she does
sometimes in her caprice, pouting, and out of humour--but May all in
smiles. The weather was warm, and the sea was smooth, and the men of the
cutter had stowed away their pea-jackets, and had pulled off their
fishermen's boots, and had substituted shoes. Mr Vanslyperken did not
often appear on deck during the passage. He was very busy down below,
and spread a piece of bunting across the skylight, so that no one could
look down and see what he was about, and the cabin-door was almost
always locked. What could Mr Vanslyperken be about? No one knew but
Snarleyyow, and Snarleyyow could not or would not tell.
The cutter anchored in her old berth, and Vanslyperken, as usual, went
on shore, with his double set of despatches, which were duly delivered;
and then Mr Vanslyperken went up the main street, and turned into a
jeweller's shop. What could Mr Vanslyperken do there? Surely it was to
purchase something for the widow Vandersloosh--a necklace or pair of
ear-rings. No, it was not with that intention; but nevertheless, Mr
Vanslyperken remained there for a long while, and then was seen to
depart. Seen by whom? By Moggy Salisbury, who had observed his entering,
and who could not imagine why; she, however, said nothing, but she
marked the shop, and walked away.
The next day, Mr Vanslyperken went on shore, to put into his mother's
charge the money which he had received from Ramsay, and narrated all
that had passed--how Smallbones had swallowed two-pennyworth of arsenic
with no more effect upon him than one twinge in his stomach, and how he
now fully believed that nothing would kill the boy.
"Pshaw! child--phut!--nonsense!--nothing kill him?--had he been in my
hands, old as they are, and shaking as they do, he would not have lived;
no, no--nobody escapes me when I am determined. We'll talk about that,
but not now, Cornelius; the weather has turned warm at last, and there
is no need of fire. Go, child, the money is locked up safe, and I have
my mood upon me--I may even do you a mischief."
Vanslyperken, who knew that it was useless to remain after this hint,
walked off and returned on board. As he pulled off, he passed a boat,
apparently coming from the cutter, with Moggy Salisbury sitting in the
stern-sheets. She waved her hand at him, and laughed ironically.
"Impudent hussy!" thought Vanslyperken, as she passed, but he dared not
say a word. He turned pale with rage, and turned his head away; but
little did he imagine, at the time, what great cause he had of
indignation. Moggy had been three hours on board of the cutter talking
with the men, but more particularly with Smallbones and the corporal,
with which two she had been in earnest conference for the first hour
that she was on board.
Moggy's animosity to Vanslyperken is well known, and she ridiculed the
idea of Snarleyyow being anything more than an uncommon lucky dog in
escaping so often. Smallbones was of her opinion, and again declared his
intention of doing the dog a mischief as soon as he could. Moggy, after
her conference with these two, mixed with the ship's company, with whom
she had always been a favourite, and the corporal proceeded to
superintend the cutting up and the distribution of the fresh beef which
had that morning come on board.
The beef block was on the forecastle, where the major part of the crew,
with Moggy, were assembled; Snarleyyow had always attended the corporal
on these occasions, and was still the best of friends with him; for
somehow or another, the dog had not seemed to consider the corporal a
party to his brains being knocked out, but had put it all down to his
natural enemy, Smallbones. The dog was, as usual, standing by the block
close to the corporal, and picking up the fragments of beef which
dropped from the chopper.
"I vowed by gum, that I'd have that ere dog's tail off," observed
Smallbones; "and if no one will peach, off it shall go now. And who
cares? If I can't a kill him dead, I'll get rid of him by bits. There's
one eye out already, and now I've a mind for his tail. Corporal, lend me
"Bravo, Smallbones, we won't peach--not one of us."
"I'm not sure of that," replied Moggy; "some won't, I know; but there
are others who may, and then Smallbones will be keel-hauled as sure as
fate, and Vanslyperken will have right on his side. No, no,
Smallbones--you must not do it. Give me the cleaver, corporal, I'll do
it; and anyone may tell him who pleases, when he comes on board. I don't
care for him--and he knows it, corporal. Hand me the cleaver."
"That's right, let Moggy do it," said the seamen.
The corporal turned the dog round, so as to leave his tail on the block,
and fed him with small pieces of meat, to keep him in the same position.
"Are you all ready, Moggy?" said Smallbones.
"Back him a little more on the block, corporal, for I won't leave him an
inch if I can help it," said Moggy; "and stand farther back, all
Moggy raised the cleaver, took good aim--down it came upon the dog's
tail, which was separated within an inch of its insertion, and was left
bleeding on the block, while the dog sprang away aft, howling most
terribly, and leaving a dotted line of blood to mark his course upon
"There's a nice skewer-piece for anyone who fancies it," observed Moggy,
looking at the dog's tail, and throwing down the cleaver. "I think Mr
Vanslyperken has had enough now for trying to flog my Jemmy--my own duck
of a husband."
"Well," observed Coble, "seeing's believing; but, otherwise, I never
should have thought it possible to have divided that ere dog's tail in
"He can't be much of a devil now," observed Bill Spurey; "for what's a
devil without a tail? A devil is like a sarpent, whose sting is in
"Yes," replied Short, who had looked on in silence.
"But, I say, Moggy, perhaps it's as well for him not to find you on
"What do I care?" replied Moggy. "He is more afraid of me than I of him;
but, howsomever, it's just as well not to be here, as it may get others
in trouble. Mind you say at once it was me--I defy him."
Moggy then wished them good-bye, and quitted the cutter, when she was
met, as we have already observed, by Vanslyperken.
"Mein Gott! vat must be done now?" observed the corporal to those about
him, looking at the mangy tail which still remained on the beef-block.
"Done, corporal," replied Smallbones, "why, you must come for to go for
to complain on it, as he comes on board. You must take the tail, and
tell the tale, and purtend to be as angry and as sorry as himself, and
damn _her_ up in heaps. That's what must be done."
This was not bad advice on the part of Smallbones--the ship's company
agreed to it, and the corporal perceived the propriety of it.
In the meantime, the dog had retreated to the cabin, and his howlings
had gradually ceased; but he had left a track of blood along the deck,
and down the ladder, which Dick Short perceiving, pointed to it, and
cried out "Swabs."
The men brought swabs aft, and had cleaned the deck and the ladder down
to the cabin door, when Mr Vanslyperken came on board.
"Has that woman been here?" inquired Mr Vanslyperken, as he came on
"Yes," replied Dick Short.
"Did not I give positive orders that she should not?" cried
"No," replied Dick Short.
"Then I do now," continued the lieutenant.
"Too late," observed Short, shrugging up his shoulders, and walking
"Too late! what does he mean?" said Vanslyperken, turning to Coble.
"I knows nothing about it, sir," replied Coble. "She came for some of
her husband's things that were left on board."
Vanslyperken turned round to look for the corporal for explanation.
There stood Corporal Van Spitter, perfectly erect, with a very
melancholy face, one hand raised as usual to his cap, and the other
occupied with the tail of Snarleyyow.
"What is it? what is the matter, corporal?"
"Mynheer Vanslyperken," replied the corporal, retaining his respectful
attitude, "here is de tail."
"Tail! what tail?" exclaimed Vanslyperken, casting his eyes upon the
contents of the corporal's left hand.
"Te tog's tail, mynheer," replied the corporal, gravely, "which de dam
Vanslyperken stared; he could scarcely credit his eyesight, but there it
was. For a time he could not speak for agitation; at last, with a
tremendous oath, he darted into the cabin.
What were his feelings when he beheld Snarleyyow lying in a corner
tailless, with a puddle of blood behind him.
"My poor, poor dog!" exclaimed Vanslyperken, covering up his face.
His sorrow soon changed to rage--he invoked all the curses he could
imagine upon Moggy's head--he vowed revenge--he stamped with rage--and
then he patted Snarleyyow; and as the beast looked wistfully in his
face, Vanslyperken shed tears. "My poor, poor dog! first your eye--and
now your tail--what will your persecutors require next? Perdition seize
them! may perdition be my portion if I am not revenged. Smallbones is at
the bottom of all this; I can--I will be revenged on him."
Vanslyperken rang the bell, and the corporal made his appearance with
the dog's tail still in his hand.
"Lay it down on the table, corporal," said Vanslyperken, mournfully,
"and tell me how this happened."
The corporal then entered into a long detail of the way in which the
dog had been _de_tailed--how he had been cutting up beef--and how while
his back was turned, and Snarleyyow, as usual, was at the block, picking
up the bits, Moggy Salisbury, who had been allowed to come on board by
Mr Short, had caught up the cleaver and chopped off the dog's tail.
"Was Smallbones at the block?" inquired Vanslyperken.
"He was, mynheer," replied the corporal.
"Who held the dog while his tail was chopped off?" inquired
Vanslyperken, "some one must have held him."
This was a home question; but the corporal replied, "Yes, mynheer, some
one must have held the dog."
"You did not hear who it was, or if it were Smallbones?"
"I did not, mynheer," replied the corporal; "but," added he with a
significant look, "I tink I could say."
"Yes, yes, corporal, I know who you mean. It was him--I am sure--and as
sure as I sit here I'll be revenged. Bring a swab, corporal, and wipe up
all this blood. Do you think the poor animal will recover?"
"Yes, mynheer; there be togs with tail and togs without tail."
"But the loss of blood--what must be done to stop the bleeding?"
"Dat d----n woman Moggy, when I say te tog die--tog bleed to death, she
say, tell Mynheer Vanslyperken dat de best ting for cure de cur be de
red hot poker."
Here Vanslyperken stamped his feet and swore horribly.
"She say, mynheer, it stop all de bleeding."
"I wish she had a hot poker down her body," exclaimed Vanslyperken,
"Go for the swab, corporal, and send Smallbones here."
Smallbones made his appearance.
"Did you come for--to want me, sir?"
"Yes, sir. I understand from the corporal that you held the dog while
that woman cut off his tail."
"If so be as how as the corporal says that ere," cried Smallbones,
striking the palm of his left hand with his right fist, "why I am
jiggered if he don't tell a lie as big as himself--that's all. That ere
man is my mortal henemy; and if that ere dog gets into trouble I'm a
sartain to be in trouble too. What should I cut the dog's tail off for,
I should like for to know? I arn't so hungry as all that, any how."
The idea of eating his dog's tail increased the choler of Mr
Vanslyperken. With looks of malignant vengeance he ordered Smallbones
out of the cabin.
"Shall I shy this here overboard, sir?" said Smallbones, taking up the
dog's tail, which lay on the table.
"Drop it, sir," roared Vanslyperken.
Smallbones walked away, grinning with delight, but his face was turned
from Mr Vanslyperken.
The corporal returned, swabbed up the blood, and reported that the
bleeding had stopped. Mr Vanslyperken had no further orders for him--he
wished to be left alone. He leaned his head upon his hand, and remained
for some time in a melancholy reverie, with his eyes fixed upon the
tail, which lay before him--that tail, now a "bleeding piece of earth,"
which never was to welcome him with a wag again. What passed in
Vanslyperken's mind during this time, it would be too difficult and too
long to repeat, for the mind flies over time and space with the rapidity
of the lightning's flash. At last he rose, took up the dog's tail, put
it into his pocket, went on deck, ordered his boat, and pulled on shore.
In which Mr Vanslyperken drives a very hard bargain.
We will be just and candid in our opinion relative to the historical
facts which we are now narrating. Party spirit, and various other
feelings, independent of misrepresentation do, at the time, induce
people to form their judgment, to say the best, harshly, and but too
often, incorrectly. It is for posterity to calmly weigh the evidence
handed down, and to examine into the merits of a case divested of party
bias. Actuated by these feelings, we do not hesitate to assert, that, in
the point at question, Mr Vanslyperken had great cause for being
displeased; and that the conduct of Moggy Salisbury, in cutting off the
tail of Snarleyyow was, in our opinion, not justifiable.
There is a respect for property, inculcated and protected by the laws,
which should never be departed from; and, whatever may have been the
aggressions on the part of Mr Vanslyperken, or of the dog, still a tail
is a tail, and whether mangy or not, is _bond fide_ a part of the living
body; and this aggression must inevitably come under the head of the
cutting and maiming act, which act, however, it must, with the same
candour which will ever guide our pen, be acknowledged, was not passed
until a much later period than that to the history of which our
Having thus, with all deference, offered our humble opinion, we shall
revert to facts. Mr Vanslyperken went on shore, with the dog's tail in
his pocket. He walked with rapid strides towards the half-way houses, in
one of which was the room tenanted by his aged mother; for, to whom else
could he apply for consolation in this case of severe distress? That it
was Moggy Salisbury who gave the cruel blow, was a fact completely
substantiated by evidence; but that it was Smallbones who held the dog,
and who thereby became an active participator, and therefore equally
culpable, was a surmise to which the insinuations of the corporal had
given all the authority of direct evidence. And, as Mr Vanslyperken felt
that Moggy was not only out of his power, but even if in his power, that
he dare not retaliate upon her, for reasons which we have already
explained to our readers; it was, therefore, clear to him, that
Smallbones was the party upon whom his indignation could be the most
safely vented: and, moreover, that in so doing, he was only paying off a
long accumulating debt of hatred and ill-will. But, at the same time, Mr
Vanslyperken had made up his mind that a lad who could be floated out to
the Nab buoy and back again without sinking--who could have a bullet
through his head without a mark remaining--and who could swallow a whole
twopenny-worth of arsenic without feeling more than a twinge in his
stomach, was not so very easy to be made away with. That the corporal's
vision was no fiction, was evident--the lad was not to be hurt by mortal
man; but although the widow's arsenic had failed, Mr Vanslyperken, in
his superstition, accounted for it on the grounds that the woman was not
the active agent on the occasion, having only prepared the herring, it
not having been received from her hands by Smallbones. The reader may
recollect that, in the last interview between Vanslyperken and his
mother, the latter had thrown out hints that if she took Smallbones in
hand he would not have such miraculous escapes as he had had, as, in all
she undertook, she did her business thoroughly. Bearing this in mind, Mr
Vanslyperken went to pour forth his sorrows, and to obtain the
assistance of his much-to-be-respected and venerable mother.
"Well, child, what is it--is it money you bring?" cried the old woman,
when Vanslyperken entered the room.
"No, mother," replied Vanslyperken, throwing himself on the only chair
in the room, except the one with the legs cut off half-way up, upon
which his mother was accustomed to rock herself before the grate.
"No, mother; but I have brought something--and I come to you for advice
"Brought no money--yet brought something!--well, child, what have you
"This!" exclaimed Vanslyperken, throwing the dog's tail down upon the
"This!" repeated the old beldame, lifting up the tail, and examining it
as well as she could, as the vibration of her palsied members were
communicated to the article--and pray, child, what is this?"
"Are you blind, old woman," replied Vanslyperken in wrath, "not to
perceive that it is my poor dog's tail?"
"Blind old woman! and dog's tail, eh! Blind old woman, eh! Mr Cornelius,
you dare to call me a blind old woman, and to bring here the mangy tail
of a dog--and to lay it on my table! Is this your duty, sirrah? How dare
you take such liberties? There, sir," cried the hag in a rage, catching
hold of the tail, and sending it flying out of the casement, which was
open--"there, sir--and now you may follow your tail. D'ye hear?--leave
the room instantly, or I'll cleave your craven skull. Blind old woman,
Vanslyperken, in spite of his mother's indignation, could not prevent
his eyes from following the tail of his dog, as it sailed through the
ambient air surrounding the half-way houses, and was glad to observe it
landed among some cabbage-leaves thrown into the road, without
attracting notice. Satisfied that he should regain his treasure when he
quitted the house, he now turned round to deprecate his mother's wrath,
who had not yet completed the sentence which we have quoted above.
"I supplicate your pardon, my dear mother," said Vanslyperken, who felt
that in her present humour he was not likely to gain the point with her
that he had in contemplation. "I was so vexed--so irritated--that I knew
not what I was saying."
"Blind old woman, indeed," repeated the beldame.
"I again beg you to forgive me, dearest mother," continued Vanslyperken.
"All about a dog's tail cut off. Better off than on--so much the less
mange on the snarling cur."
This was touching up Vanslyperken on the raw; but he had a great object
in view, and he restrained his feelings.
"I was wrong, mother--very wrong--but I have done all I can, I have
begged your pardon. I came here for your advice and assistance."
"What advice or assistance can you expect from a blind old woman?"
retorted the old hag. "And what advice or assistance does so undutiful a
It was some time before the ruffled temper of the beldame could be
appeased: at last, Vanslyperken succeeded. He then entered into a detail
of all that had passed, and concluded by observing, "that as Smallbones
was not to be injured by mortal man, he had come to her for assistance."
"That is to say--you have come to me to ask me to knock the lad's brains
out--to take away his life--to murder him, in fact. Say, Cornelius, is
it not so?"
"It is exactly so, my dearest mother. I know your courage--your--"
"Yes, yes, I understand all that; but, now hear me, child. There are
deeds which are done, and which I have done, but those deeds are only
done upon strong impulses. Murder is one, but people murder for two
reasons only--for revenge and for gold. People don't do such acts as are
to torture their minds here, and perhaps be punished hereafter--that is,
if there be one, child. I say, people don't do such deeds as these,
merely because a graceless son comes to them, and says, 'if you please,
mother.' Do you understand that, child? I've blood enough on my hands
already--good blood too--they are not defiled with the scum of a parish
boy, nor shall they be, without--"
"Without what, mother?"
"Have I not told you, Cornelius, that there are but two great
excitements--revenge and gold? I have no revenge against the lad. If you
have--if you consider that a dog's, tail demands a human victim--well
and good--do the deed yourself."
"I would," cried Vanslyperken, "but I have tried in vain. It must be
done by woman."
"Then hear me, Cornelius; if it must be done by woman, you must find a
woman to do it, and you must pay her for the deed. Murder is at a high
price. You apply to me--I am content to do the deed; but I must have
gold--and plenty too."
Vanslyperken paused before he replied. The old woman had charge of all
his money--she was on the verge of the grave--for what could she require
his gold?--could she be so foolish?--it was insanity. Vanslyperken was
right--it was insanity, for avarice is no better.
"Do you mean, mother," replied Vanslyperken, "that you want gold from
"From whom else?" demanded the old woman sharply.
"Take it, then, mother--take as many pieces as you please."
"I must have all that there is in that chest, Cornelius."
"Yes, all; and what is it, after all? What price is too high for blood
which calls for retribution? Besides, Cornelius, it must be all yours
again when I die; but I shall not die yet--no, no."
"Well, mother," replied Vanslyperken, "if it must be so, it shall all be
yours--not that I can see what difference it makes, whether it is called
yours or mine."
"Then why not give it freely? Why do you hesitate to give to your poor
old mother what may be again yours before the leaf again falls? Ask
yourself why, Cornelius, and then you have my answer. The gold is here
in my charge, but it is not _my_ gold--it is yours. You little think how
often I've laid in bed and longed that it was all _mine_. Then I would
count it--count it again and again--watch over it, not as I do now as a
mere deposit in my charge, but as a mother would watch and smile upon
her first-born child. There is a talisman in that word _mine_, that not
approaching _death_ can wean from _life_. It is our natures, child--say,
then, is all that gold _mine_?"
Vanslyperken paused; he also felt the magic of the word; and although it
was but a nominal and temporary divestment of the property, even that
gave him a severe struggle; but his avarice was overcome by his feelings
of revenge, and he answered solemnly, "As I hope for revenge, mother,
_all_ that gold is _yours_, provided that you do the deed."
Here the old hag burst into a sort of shrieking laugh. "Send him here,
child;" and the almost unearthly cachinnation was continued--"send him
here, child--I can't go to seek him--and it is done--only bring
So soon as this compact had been completed, Vanslyperken and his mother
had a consultation; and it was agreed, that it would be advisable not to
attempt the deed until the day before the cutter sailed, as it would
remove all suspicion, and be supposed that the boy had deserted. This
arrangement having been made, Vanslyperken made rather a hasty retreat.
The fact was, that he was anxious to recover the fragment of Snarleyyow,
which his mother had so contemptuously thrown out of the casement.
In which Mr Vanslyperken is taken for a witch.
Mr Vanslyperken hastened into the street, and walked towards the heap of
cabbage-leaves, in which he observed the object of his wishes to have
fallen; but there was some one there before him, an old sow, very busy
groping among the refuse. Although Vanslyperken came on shore without
even a stick in his hand, he had no fear of a pig, and walked up boldly
to drive her away, fully convinced that, although she might like
cabbage, not being exactly carnivorous, he should find the tail in
_status quo_. But it appeared that the sow not only would not stand
being interfered with, but, moreover, was carnivorously inclined; for
she was at that very moment routing the tail about with her nose, and
received Vanslyperken's advance with a very irascible grunt, throwing
her head up at him with a savage augh; and then again busied herself
with the fragment of Snarleyyow. Vanslyperken, who had started back,
perceived that the sow was engaged with the very article in question;
and finding it was a service of more danger than he had expected, picked
up one or two large stones, and threw them at the animal to drive her
away. This mode of attack had the effect desired in one respect; the sow
made a retreat, but at the same time she would not retreat without the
_bonne bouche_, which she carried away in her mouth.
Vanslyperken followed; but the sow proved that she could fight as well
as run, every minute turning round to bay, and chumping and grumbling in
a very formidable manner. At last, after Vanslyperken had chased for a
quarter of a mile, he received unexpected assistance from a large dog,
who bounded from the side of the road, where he lay in the sun, and
seizing the sow by the ear, made her drop the tail to save her
Vanslyperken was delighted; he hastened up as fast as he could to regain
his treasure, when, to his mortification, the great dog, who had left
the sow, arrived at the spot before him, and after smelling at the not
one bone, but many bones of contention, he took it in his mouth, and
trotted off to his former berth in the sunshine, laid himself down, and
the tail before him.
"Surely one dog won't eat another dog's tail," thought Vanslyperken, as
he walked up to the animal; but an eye like fire, a deep growl, and
exposure of a range of teeth equal to a hyena's, convinced Mr
Vanslyperken that it would be wise to retreat--which he did, to a
respectable distance, and attempted to coax the dog. "Poor doggy,
there's a dog," cried Vanslyperken, snapping his fingers, and
approaching gradually. To his horror, the dog did the same thing
exactly: he rose, and approached Mr Vanslyperken gradually, and snapped
his fingers: not content with that, he flew at him, and tore the skirt
of his great-coat clean off, and also the hinder part of his trousers
for Mr Vanslyperken immediately turned tail, and the dog appeared
resolved to have his tail as well as that of his darling cur. Satisfied
with about half a yard of broadcloth as a trophy, the dog returned to
his former situation, and remained with the tail of the coat and the
tail of the cur before him, with his fierce eyes fixed upon Mr
Vanslyperken, who had now retreated to a greater distance.
But this transaction was not unobserved by several of the people who
inhabited the street of cottages. Many eyes were directed to where Mr
Vanslyperken and the sow and dog had been at issue, and many were the
When the dog retreated with the skirt of the great-coat, many came out
to ascertain what was the cause of the dispute, and among others, the
man to whom the dog belonged, and who lived at the cottage opposite to
where the dog had lain down. He observed Vanslyperken, looking very much
like a vessel whose sails have been split in a gale, and very rueful at
the same time, standing at a certain distance, quite undecided how to
act, and he called out to him, "What is it you may want with my
Man! Vanslyperken thought this designation an affront; whereas, in our
opinion, Vanslyperken was an affront to the name of man. "Man!"
exclaimed Vanslyperken; "why your dog has taken my property!"
"Then take your property," replied the other, tossing to him the skirt
of his coat, which he had taken from the dog.
By this time there was a crowd collected from out of the various
"That's not all," exclaimed Vanslyperken; "he has got my dog's tail
"Your dog's tail!" exclaimed the man, "what do you mean? Is it this
ragged mangy thing you would have?" and the man took the tail of
Snarleyyow, and held it up to the view of the assembled crowd.
"Yes," replied Vanslyperken, coming towards the man with eagerness;
"that is what I want," and he held out his hand to receive it.
"And pray, may I ask," replied the other, looking very suspiciously at
Vanslyperken, "what can you want with this piece of carrion?"
"To make soup of," replied another, laughing; "he can't afford ox-tail."
Vanslyperken made an eager snatch at his treasure; but the man lifted it
up on the other side, out of his reach.
"Let us have a look at this chap," said the first, examining
Vanslyperken, whose peaked nose and chin, small ferret eyes, and
downcast look were certainly not in his favour; neither were his old and
now tattered habiliments. Certainly no one would have taken Vanslyperken
for a king's officer--unfortunately they took him for something else.
"Now tell me, fellow, what were you going to do with this?" inquired the
man in a severe tone.
"I sha'n't tell you," replied Vanslyperken.
"Why that's the chap that I sees go in and out of the room where that
old hell-fire witch lives, who curses all day long."
"I thought as much," observed the man, who still held up the cur's tail.
"Now I appeal to you all, what can a fellow want with such as this--ay,
my good people, and want it so much too, as to risk being torn to pieces
for it--if he arn't inclined to evil practices?"
"That's sartain sure," replied another.
"A witch--a witch!" cried the whole crowd.
"Let's duck him--tie his thumbs--away with him--come along, my lads,
away with him."
Although there were not, at the time we write about, regular
witch-finders, as in the time of James I., still the feeling against
witches, and the belief that they practised, still existed. They were no
longer handed over to summary and capital punishment, but whenever
suspected they were sure to meet with very rough treatment. Such was the
fate of Mr Vanslyperken, who was now seized by the crowd, buffeted, and
spit upon, and dragged to the parish pump, there being, fortunately for
him, no horse-pond near. After having been well beaten, pelted with mud,
his clothes torn off his back, his hat taken away and stamped upon, he
was held under the pump and drenched for nearly half-an-hour, until he
lay beneath the spout in a state of complete exhaustion. The crowd were
then satisfied, and he was left to get away how he could, which he did,
after a time, in a most deplorable plight, bare-headed, in his shirt and
torn trousers. He contrived to walk as far as to the house where his
mother resided, was admitted to her room, when he fell exhausted on the
bed. The old woman was astonished; and having some gin in her cupboard,
revived him by administering a small quantity, and, in the course of
half-an-hour, Vanslyperken could tell his story; but all the consolation
he received from the old beldame was, "Serve you right too, for being
such an ass. I suppose you'll be bringing the stupid people about my
ears soon--they've hooted me before now. Ah, well--I'll not be pumped
upon for nothing--my knife is a sharp one."
Vanslyperken had clothes under his mother's charge, and he dressed
himself in another suit, and then hastened away, much mortified and
confounded with the latter events of the day. The result of his
arrangements with his mother was, however, a balm to his wounded spirit,
and he looked upon Smallbones as already dead. He hastened down into his
cabin, as soon as he arrived on board, to ascertain the condition of
Snarleyyow, whom he found as well as could be expected, and occasionally
making unavailing attempts to lick the stump of his tail.
"My poor dog!" exclaimed Vanslyperken, "what have you suffered, and what
have I suffered for you? Alas! if I am to suffer as I have to-day for
only your tail, what shall I go through for your whole body?" And, as
Vanslyperken recalled his misfortunes, so did his love increase for the
animal who was the cause of them. Why so, we cannot tell, except that it
has been so from the beginning, is so now, and always will be the case,
for the best of all possible reasons--that it is _human nature_.
In which is recorded a most barbarous and bloody murder.
We observed, in a previous chapter, that Mr Vanslyperken was observed by
Moggy Salisbury to go into a jeweller's shop, and remain there some
time, and that Moggy was very inquisitive to know what it was that could
induce Mr Vanslyperken to go into so unusual a resort for him.
The next day she went into the shop upon a pretence of looking at some
ear-rings, and attempted to enter into conversation with the jeweller;
but the jeweller, not perhaps admiring Moggy's appearance, and not
thinking her likely to be a customer, dismissed her with very short
answers. Failing in her attempt, Moggy determined to wait till Nancy
Corbett should come over, for she knew that Nancy could dress and assume
the fine lady, and be more likely to succeed than herself. But although
Moggy could not penetrate into the mystery, it is necessary the reader
should be informed of the proceedings of Mr Vanslyperken.
When Ramsay had shown him how to open the government despatches, and had
provided him with the false seals for the re-impressions, he forgot that
he also was pointing out to Vanslyperken the means of also opening his
own, and discovering his secrets, as well as those of government; but
Vanslyperken, who hated Ramsay, on account of his behaviour towards him,
and would with pleasure have seen the whole of his party, as well as
himself, on the gibbet, thought that it might be just as well to have
two strings to his bow; and he argued, that if he could open the letters
of the conspirators, and obtain their secrets, they would prove
valuable to him, and perhaps save his neck, if he were betrayed to the
government. On his passage, therefore, to Amsterdam, he had carefully
examined the seal of Ramsay, and also that on the letters forwarded to
him; and, having made a drawing, and taken the impression in wax, as a
further security, he had applied to the jeweller in question to get him
seals cut out with these impressions, and of the exact form and size.
The jeweller, who cared little what he did, provided that he was well
paid, asked no questions, but a very high price, and Vanslyperken,
knowing that they would be cheap to him at any price, closed with him on
his own terms, provided that they were immediately forthcoming. In the
week, according to the agreement, the seals were prepared. Mr
Vanslyperken paid his money, and now was waiting for orders to sail.
The dog's stump was much better.
On the ninth day, a summons to the admiral's house was sent, and
Vanslyperken was ordered to hold himself in readiness to sail the next
morning at daylight. He immediately repaired to the Jew's, to give
intimation, and from thence to his mother's to prepare her for the
arrival of Smallbones that evening a little before dusk.
Vanslyperken had arranged that, as soon as the murder had been
committed, he would go to the Jew's for letters, and then hasten on
board, sailing the next morning at daylight; so that if there was any
discovery, the whole onus might be on his mother, who, for all he cared,
might be hung. It is a true saying, that a good mother makes a good son.
When Vanslyperken intimated to Smallbones that he was going on shore in
the evening, and should take him with him, the lad did not forget the
last walk that he had in company with his master, and, apprehensive that
some mischief was intended, he said, "I hope it arn't for to fetch
another walk in the country, sir?"
"No, no," replied Vanslyperken, "it's to take some biscuit up to a poor
old woman close by. I don't want to be robbed, any more than you do,
But the very quick reply of his master only increased the apprehension
of Smallbones, who left the cabin, and hastened to Corporal Van Spitter,
to consult with him.
Corporal Van Spitter was of the same opinion as Smallbones, that
mischief was intended him, and offered to provide him with a pistol; but
Smallbones, who knew little about fire-arms, requested that he might
have a bayonet instead, which he could use better. He was supplied with
this, which he concealed within his shirt, and when ordered, he went
into the boat with Vanslyperken. They landed, and it was dark before
they arrived at the half-way houses. Vanslyperken ascended the stairs,
and ordered Smallbones to follow him. As soon as they were in the room,
Mr Vanslyperken said, "Here is the biscuit, good woman, and much good
may it do you."
"It's very kind of you, sir, and many thanks. It's not often that people
are charitable now-a-days, and this has been a hard winter for poor
folk. Put the bag down there, my good little fellow," continued the old
hypocrite, addressing Smallbones.
"And now, good woman, I shall leave my lad with you, till I come back. I
have to call at a friend's, and I need not take him. Smallbones, stay
here till I return; get the biscuit out of the bag, as we must take that
on board again."
Smallbones had no objection to remain with a withered, palsied old
woman. He could have no fear of her, and he really began to think that
his master had been guilty of charity.
Mr Vanslyperken departed, leaving Smallbones in company with his mother.
"Come now, my lad, come to the chair, and sit down by the fire," for a
fire had been lighted by the old woman expressly, "sit down, and I'll
see if I can find you something in my cupboard; I have, I know, a drop
of cordial left somewhere. Sit down, child; you have had the kindness to
bring the bread up for me, and I am grateful."
The tones of the old beldame's voice were very different from those she
usually indulged in; there was almost a sweetness about them, which
proved what she might have effected at the period when she was fair and
young. Smallbones felt not the least disquietude; he sat down in the
chair by the fire, while the old woman looked in the cupboard behind him
for the cordial, of which she poured him a good allowance in a tea-cup.
Smallbones sipped and sipped, he was not in a hurry to get rid of it, as
it was good; the old woman went again to the cupboard, rattled the
things about a little, and then, on a sudden, taking out a large hammer,
as Smallbones unconsciously sipped, she raised it with both her hands,
and down came the blow on his devoted head.
The poor lad dropped the cup, sprang up convulsively, staggered, and
then fell. Once he rolled over, his leg quivered, and he then moved
The beldame watched him with the hammer in her hand, ready to repeat the
blow if necessary, indeed she would have repeated it had it not been
that after he fell, in turning over, Smallbones' head had rolled under
the low bedstead where she slept.
"My work is sure," muttered she, "and _all_ the _gold_ is _mine_."
Again she watched, but there was no motion--a stream of blood appeared
from under the bed, and ran in a little rivulet towards the fire-place.
"I wish I could pull him out," said the old woman, lugging at the lad's
legs; "another blow or two would make more sure." But the effort was
above her strength, and she abandoned it. "It's no matter," muttered
she; "he'll never tell tales again."
But there the old hag was mistaken; Smallbones had been stunned, but not
killed; the blow of the hammer had fortunately started off, divided the
flesh of the skull for three inches, with a gash which descended to his
ear. At the very time that she uttered her last expressions, Smallbones
was recovering his senses, but he was still confused, as if in a dream.
"Yes, yes," said the old woman, after some minutes' pause, "all the gold
The lad heard this sentence, and he now remembered where he was, and
what had taken place. He was about to rise, when there was a knocking at
the door, and he lay still. It was Vanslyperken. The door was opened by
the old beldame.
"Is it done?" said he, in a loud whisper.
"Done!" cried the hag; "yes, and well done. Don't tell me of charmed
life. My blows are sure--see there."
"Are you sure that he is dead?"
"Quite sure, child--and all the gold is mine."
Vanslyperken looked with horror at the stream of blood still flowing,
and absorbed by the ashes in the grate.
"It was you did it, mother; recollect it was not I," cried he.
"I did it--and you paid for it--and all the gold is mine."
"But are you quite sure that he is dead?"
"Sure--yes, and in judgment now, if there is any."
Vanslyperken surveyed the body of Smallbones, who, although he had heard
every word, lay without motion, for he knew his life depended on it.
After a minute or two the lieutenant was satisfied.
"I must go on board now, mother; but what will you do with the body?"
"Leave that to me; who ever comes in here? Leave that to me, craven,
and, as you say, go on board."
Vanslyperken opened the door, and went out of the room; the old hag made
the door fast, and then sat down on the chair, which she replaced by the
side of the fire with her back to Smallbones.
The lad felt very faint from loss of blood, and was sick at the stomach,
but his senses were in their full vigour.
He now was assured that Vanslyperken was gone, and that he had only the
old woman opposed to him. His courage was unsubdued, and he resolved to
act in self-defence if required; and he softly drew the bayonet out of
his breast, and then watched the murderous old hag, who was rocking
herself in the chair.
"Yes, yes, the gold is mine," muttered she--"I've won it, and I'll count
it. I won it dearly;--another murder--well, 'tis but one more. Let me
see, what shall I do with the body? I must burn it, by bits and
bits--and I'll count the gold--it's all mine, for he's dead."
Here the old woman turned round to look at the body, and her keen eyes
immediately perceived that there was a slight change of position.
"Heh'" cried she, "not quite dead yet; we must have the hammer again,"
and she rose from her chair, and walked with an unsteady pace to pick up
the hammer, which was at the other side of the fire-place. Smallbones,
who felt that now was his time, immediately rose, but before he could
recover his _feet_, she had turned round to him: with a sort of low
yell, she darted at him with an agility not to be imagined in one of her
years and decrepit appearance, and struck at him. Smallbones raised his
left arm, and received the blow, and with his right plunged the bayonet
deep into the wrinkled throat of the old woman. She grappled with him,
and the struggle was dreadful; she caught his throat in one of her bony
hands, and the nails pierced into it like the talons of a bird of
prey--the fingers of the other she inserted into the jagged and gaping
wound on his head, and forced the flesh still more asunder, exerting all
her strength to force him on his back; but the bayonet was still in her
throat, and with the point descending towards the body, and Smallbones
forced and forced it down, till it was buried to the hilt. In a few
seconds the old hag loosed her hold, quivered, and fell back dead; and
the lad was so exhausted with the struggle, and his previous loss of
blood, that he fell into a swoon at the side of the corpse.
When Smallbones recovered, the candle was flickering in the socket. He
rose up in a sitting posture, and tried to recollect all that
The alternating light of the candle flashed upon the body of the old
woman, and he remembered all. After a few minutes he was able to rise,
and he sat down upon the bed giddy and faint. It occurred to him that he
would soon be in the dark, and he would require the light to follow up
his intended movements, so he rose, and went to the cupboard to find
one. He found a candle, and he also found the bottle of cordial, of
which he drank all that was left, and felt himself revived, and capable
of acting. Having put the other candle into the candlestick, he looked
for water, washed himself, and bound up his head with his handkerchief.
He then wiped up the blood from the floor, threw some sand over the
part, and burnt the towel in the grate. His next task was one of more
difficulty, to lift up the body of the old woman, put it into the bed,
and cover it up with the clothes, previously drawing out the bayonet. No
blood issued from the wound--the hemorrhage was all internal. He covered
up the face, took the key of the door, and tried it in the lock, put the
candle under the grate to burn out safely, took possession of the
hammer; then having examined the door, he went out, locked it from the
outside, slid the key in beneath the door, and hastened away as fast as
he could. He was not met by anybody, and was soon safe in the street,
with the bayonet, which he again concealed in his vest.
These precautions taken by Smallbones, proved that the lad had conduct
as well as courage. He argued that it was not advisable that it should
be known that this fatal affray had taken place between the old woman
and himself. Satisfied with having preserved his life, he was unwilling
to be embroiled in a case of murder, as he wished to prosecute his
designs with his companions on board.
He knew that Vanslyperken was capable of swearing anything against him,
and that his best safety lay in the affair not being found out, which it
could not be until the cutter had sailed, and no one had seen him
either enter or go out. There was another reason which induced
Smallbones to act as he did--without appealing to the authorities--which
was, that if he returned on board, it would create such a shock to Mr
Vanslyperken, who had, as he supposed, seen him lying dead upon the
floor. But there was one person to whom he determined to apply for
advice before he decided how to proceed, and that was Moggy Salisbury,
who had given her address to him when she had gone on board the
_Yungfrau_. To her house he therefore repaired, and found her at home.
It was then about nine o'clock in the evening.
Moggy was much surprised to see Smallbones enter in such a condition;
but Smallbones' story was soon told, and Moggy sent for a surgeon, the
services of whom the lad seriously required. While his wound was
dressing, which was asserted by them to have been received in a fray,
Moggy considered what would be the best method to proceed. The surgeon
stated his intention of seeing Smallbones the next day, but he was
requested to leave him sufficient dressing, as it was necessary that he
should repair on board, as the vessel which he belonged to sailed on the
following morning. The surgeon received his fee, recommended quiet and
repose, and retired.
A consultation then took place. Smallbones expressed his determination
to go on board; he did not fear Mr Vanslyperken, as the crew of the
cutter would support him--and, moreover, it would frighten Mr
Vanslyperken out of his wits. To this Moggy agreed, but she proposed
that instead of making his appearance on the following morning, he
should not appear to Mr Vanslyperken until the vessel was in the blue
water; if possible, not till she was over on the other side. And Moggy
determined to go on board, see the corporal, and make the arrangements
with him and the crew, who were now unanimous, for the six marines were
at the beck of the corporal, so that Mr Vanslyperken should be
frightened out of his wits. Desiring Smallbones to lie down on her bed,
and take the rest he so much needed, she put on her bonnet and cloak,
and taking a boat, pulled gently alongside the cutter.
Vanslyperken had been on board for two hours, and was in his cabin; the
lights, however, were still burning. The corporal was still up,
anxiously waiting for the return of Smallbones, and he was very much
alarmed when he heard Moggy come alongside. Moggy soon detailed to the
corporal, Dick Short, and Coble, all that had taken place, and what it
was proposed should be done. They assented willingly to the proposal,
declaring that if Vanslyperken attempted to hurt the lad, they would
rise, and throw Mr Vanslyperken overboard; and everything being
arranged, Moggy was about to depart, when Vanslyperken, who was in a
state of miserable anxiety and torture, and who had been drowning his
conscience in scheedam, came on deck not a little the worse for what he
had been imbibing.
"Who is that woman?" cried Vanslyperken.
"That woman is Moggy Salisbury," cried Moggy, walking up to
Vanslyperken, while the corporal skulked forward without being detected.
"Have I not given positive orders that this woman does not come on
board?" cried Vanslyperken, holding on by the skylight. "Who is
"Yes," replied Short.
"Why did you allow her to come on board?"
"I came without leave," said Moggy. "I brought a message on board."
"A message! what message--to whom?"
"To you," replied Moggy.
"To me--from whom, you cockatrice?"
"I'll tell you," replied Moggy, walking close up to him; "from Lazarus
the Jew. Will you hear it, or shall I leave it with Dick Short?"
"Silence--silence--not a word; come down into the cabin, good Moggy.
Come down--I'll hear it then"
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