The Adventures of Harry Richmond, v2
Part 2 out of 2
said, 'Leave this to me to take care of,' and I had no time to wrestle
for it. I had a glimpse of her face that let me think she was not
fooling me, the watch-chain flew off my neck, Temple and I clove through
the crowd of gapers. We got into the heat, which was in a minute
scorching. Three men were under the window; they had sung out to the old
woman above to drop a blanket--she tossed them a water-jug. She was
saved by the blanket of a neighbour. Temple and I strained at one corner
of it to catch her.
She came down, the men said, like a singed turkey. The flames
illuminated her as she descended. There was a great deal of laughter in
the crowd, but I was shocked. Temple shared the painful impression
produced on me. I cannot express my relief when the old woman was
wrapped in the blanket which had broken her descent, and stood like a
blot instead of a figure. I handed a sovereign to the three men,
complimenting them on the humanity of their dispositions. They cheered
us, and the crowd echoed the cheer, and Temple and I made our way back to
the two girls: both of us lost our pocket-handkerchiefs, and Temple a
penknife as well. Then the engines arrived and soused the burning
houses. We were all in a crimson mist, boys smoking, girls laughing and
staring, men hallooing, hats and caps flying about, fights going on,
people throwing their furniture out of the windows. The great wall of
the Bench was awful in its reflection of the labouring flames--it rose
out of sight like the flame-tops till the columns of water brought them
down. I thought of my father, and of my watch. The two girls were not
visible. 'A glorious life a fireman's!' said Temple.
The firemen were on the roofs of the houses, handsome as Greek heroes,
and it really did look as if they were engaged in slaying an enormous
dragon, that hissed and tongued at them, and writhed its tail, paddling
its broken big red wings in the pit of wreck and smoke, twisting and
darkening-something fine to conquer, I felt with Temple.
A mutual disgust at the inconvenience created by the appropriation of our
pocket-handkerchiefs by members of the crowd, induced us to disentangle
ourselves from it without confiding to any one our perplexity for supper
and a bed. We were now extremely thirsty. I had visions of my majority
bottles of Burgundy, lying under John Thresher's care at Dipwell, and
would have abandoned them all for one on the spot. After ranging about
the outskirts of the crowd, seeking the two girls, we walked away, not so
melancholy but that a draught of porter would have cheered us. Temple
punned on the loss of my watch, and excused himself for a joke neither of
us had spirit to laugh at. Just as I was saying, with a last glance at
the fire, 'Anyhow, it would have gone in that crowd,' the nice good girl
ran up behind us, crying, 'There!' as she put the watch-chain over my
'There, Temple,' said I, 'didn't I tell you so?' and Temple kindly
The girl said, 'I was afraid I'd missed you, little fellow, and you'd
take me for a thief, and thank God, I'm no thief yet. I rushed into the
crowd to meet you after you caught that old creature, and I could have
kissed you both, you're so brave.'
'We always go in for it together,' said Temple.
I made an offer to the girl of a piece of gold. 'Oh, I'm poor,' she
cried, yet kept her hand off it like a bird alighting on ground, not on
prey. When I compelled her to feel the money tight, she sighed, 'If I
wasn't so poor! I don't want your gold. Why are you out so late?'
We informed her of our arrival from the country, and wanderings in the
'And you'll say you're not tired, I know,' the girl remarked, and laughed
to hear how correctly she had judged of our temper. Our thirst and
hunger, however, filled her with concern, because of our not being used
to it as she was, and no place was open to supply our wants. Her friend,
the saucy one, accompanied by a man evidently a sailor, joined us, and
the three had a consultation away from Temple and me, at the end of which
the sailor, whose name was Joe, raised his leg dancingly, and smacked it.
We gave him our hands to shake, and understood, without astonishment,
that we were invited on, board his ship to partake of refreshment. We
should not have been astonished had he said on board his balloon. Down
through thick fog of a lighter colour, we made our way to a narrow lane
leading to the river-side, where two men stood thumping their arms across
their breasts, smoking pipes, and swearing. We entered a boat and were
rowed to a ship. I was not aware how frozen and befogged my mind and
senses had become until I had taken a desperate and long gulp of smoking
rum-and-water, and then the whole of our adventures from morning to
midnight, with the fir-trees in the country fog, and the lamps in the
London fog, and the man who had lost his son, the fire, the Bench, the
old woman with her fowl-like cry and limbs in the air, and the row over
the misty river, swam flashing before my eyes, and I cried out to the two
girls, who were drinking out of one glass with the sailor Joe, my
entertainer, 'Well, I'm awake now!' and slept straight off the next
WE FIND OURSELVES BOUND ON A VOYAGE
It seemed to me that I had but taken a turn from right to left, or gone
round a wheel, when I repeated the same words, and I heard Temple
somewhere near me mumble something like them. He drew a long breath, so
did I: we cleared our throats with a sort of whinny simultaneously. The
enjoyment of lying perfectly still, refreshed, incurious, unexcited, yet
having our minds animated, excursive, reaping all the incidents of our
lives at leisure, and making a dream of our latest experiences, kept us
tranquil and incommunicative. Occasionally we let fall a sigh fathoms
deep, then by-and-by began blowing a bit of a wanton laugh at the end of
it. I raised my foot and saw the boot on it, which accounted for an
uneasy sensation setting in through my frame.
I said softly, 'What a pleasure it must be for horses to be groomed!'
'Just what I was thinking! ' said Temple.
We started up on our elbows, and one or the other cried:
'There's a chart! These are bunks! Hark at the row overhead! We're in
a ship! The ship's moving! Is it foggy this morning? It's time to get
up! I've slept in my clothes! Oh, for a dip! How I smell of smoke!
What a noise of a steamer! And the squire at Riversley! Fancy Uberly's
Temple, with averted face, asked me whether I meant to return to
Riversley that day. I assured him I would, on my honour, if possible;
and of course he also would have to return there. 'Why, you've an
appointment with Janet Ilchester,' said I, 'and we may find a pug; we'll
buy the hunting-knife and the skates. And she shall know you saved an
old woman's life.'
'No, don't talk about that,' Temple entreated me, biting his lip.
'Richie, we're going fast through the water. It reminds me of breakfast.
I should guess the hour to be nine A.M.'
My watch was unable to assist us; the hands pointed to half-past four,
and were fixed. We ran up on deck. Looking over the stern of the
vessel, across a line of rippling eddying red gold, we saw the sun low
upon cushions of beautiful cloud; no trace of fog anywhere; blue sky
overhead, and a mild breeze blowing.
'Sunrise,' I said.
Temple answered, 'Yes,' most uncertainly.
We looked round. A steam-tug was towing our ship out toward banks of
red-reflecting cloud, and a smell of sea air.
'Why, that's the East there!' cried Temple. We faced about to the sun,
and behold, he was actually sinking!
'Nonsense!' we exclaimed in a breath. From seaward to this stupefying
sunset we stood staring. The river stretched to broad lengths; gulls
were on the grey water, knots of seaweed, and the sea-foam curled in
advance of us.
'By jingo!' Temple spoke out, musing, 'here's a whole day struck out of
'It can't be!' said I, for that any sensible being could be tricked of a
piece of his life in that manner I thought a preposterous notion.
But the sight of a lessening windmill in the West, shadows eastward, the
wide water, and the air now full salt, convinced me we two had slept
through an entire day, and were passing rapidly out of hail of our native
'We must get these fellows to put us on shore at once,' said Temple: 'we
won't stop to eat. There's a town; a boat will row us there in half-an-
hour. Then we can wash, too. I've got an idea nothing's clean here.
And confound these fellows for not having the civility to tell us they
were going to start!'
We were rather angry, a little amused, not in the least alarmed at our
position. A sailor, to whom we applied for an introduction to the
captain, said he was busy. Another gave us a similar reply, with a
monstrous grimace which was beyond our comprehension. The sailor Joe was
nowhere to be seen. None of the sailors appeared willing to listen to
us, though they stopped as they were running by to lend half an ear to
what we had to say. Some particular movement was going on in the ship.
Temple was the first to observe that the steamtug was casting us loose,
and cried he, 'She'll take us on board and back to London Bridge. Let's
hail her.' He sang out, ' Whoop! ahoy!' I meanwhile had caught sight of
'Well, young gentleman!' he accosted me, and he hoped I had slept well.
My courteous request to him to bid the tug stand by to take us on board,
only caused him to wear a look of awful gravity. 'You're such a deuce of
a sleeper,' he said. 'You see, we had to be off early to make up for
forty hours lost by that there fog. I tried to wake you both; no good;.
so I let you snore away. We took up our captain mid-way down the river,
and now you're in his hands, and he'll do what he likes with you, and
that 's a fact, and my opinion is you 'll see a foreign shore before
you're in the arms of your family again.'
At these words I had the horrible sensation of being caged, and worse,
transported into the bargain.
I insisted on seeing the captain. A big bright round moon was dancing
over the vessel's bowsprit, and this, together with the tug thumping into
the distance, and the land receding, gave me--coming on my wrath--
No difficulties were presented in my way. I was led up to a broad man in
a pilot-coat, who stood square, and looked by the bend of his eyebrows as
if he were always making head against a gale. He nodded to my respectful
salute. 'Cabin,' he said, and turned his back to me.
I addressed him, 'Excuse me, I want to go on shore, captain. I must and
will go! I am here by some accident; you have accidentally overlooked me
here. I wish to treat you like a gentleman, but I won't be detained.'
Joe spoke a word to the captain, who kept his back as broad to me as a
school-slate for geography and Euclid's propositions.
'Cabin, cabin,' the captain repeated.
I tried to get round him to dash a furious sentence or so in his face,
since there was no producing any impression on his back; but he occupied
the whole of a way blocked with wire-coil, and rope, and boxes, and it
would have been ridiculous to climb this barricade when by another right-
about-face he could in a minute leave me volleying at the blank space
between his shoulders.
Joe touched my arm, which, in as friendly a way as I could assume, I bade
him not do a second time; for I could ill contain myself as it was, and
beginning to think I had been duped and tricked, I was ready for
hostilities. I could hardly bear meeting Temple on my passage to the
cabin. 'Captain Jasper Welsh,' he was reiterating, as if sounding it to
discover whether it had an ominous ring: it was the captain's name, that
he had learnt from one of the seamen.
Irritated by his repetition of it, I said, I know not why, or how the
words came: 'A highwayman notorious for his depredations in the vicinity
of the city of Bristol.'
This set Temple off laughing: 'And so he bought a ship and had traps laid
down to catch young fellows for ransom.'
I was obliged to request Temple not to joke, but the next moment I had
launched Captain Jasper Welsh on a piratical exploit; Temple lifted the
veil from his history, revealing him amid the excesses of a cannibal
feast. I dragged him before a British jury; Temple hanged him in view of
an excited multitude. As he boasted that there was the end of Captain
Welsh, I broke the rope. But Temple spoiled my triumph by depriving him
of the use of his lower limbs after the fall, for he was a heavy man. I
could not contradict it, and therefore pitched all his ship's crew upon
the gallows in a rescue. Temple allowed him to be carried off by his
faithful ruffians, only stipulating that the captain was never after able
to release his neck from the hangman's slip knot. The consequence was
that he wore a shirt-collar up to his eyebrows for concealment by day,
and a pillow-case over his head at night, and his wife said she was a
deceived unhappy woman, and died of curiosity.
The talking of even such nonsense as this was a relief to us in our
impatience and helplessness, with the lights of land heaving far distant
to our fretful sight through the cabin windows.
When we had to talk reasonably we were not so successful. Captain Welsh
was one of those men who show you, whether you care to see them or not,
all the processes by which they arrive at an idea of you, upon which they
forthwith shape their course. Thus, when he came to us in the cabin, he
took the oil-lamp in his hand and examined our faces by its light; he had
no reply to our remonstrances and petitions: all he said was, 'Humph!
well, I suppose you're both gentlemen born'; and he insisted on
prosecuting his scrutiny without any reference to the tenour of our
We entreated him half imperiously to bring his ship to and put us on
shore in a boat. He bunched up his mouth, remarking, 'Know their
grammar: habit o' speaking to grooms, eh? humph.' We offered to pay
largely. 'Loose o' their cash,' was his comment, and so on; and he was
the more exasperating to us because he did not look an evil-minded man;
only he appeared to be cursed with an evil opinion of us. I tried to
remove it; I spoke forbearingly. Temple, imitating me, was sugar-sweet.
We exonerated the captain from blame, excused him for his error, named
the case a mistake on both sides. That long sleep of ours, we said, was
really something laughable; we laughed at the recollection of it, a
lamentable piece of merriment.
Our artfulness and patience becoming exhausted, for the captain had
vouchsafed us no direct answer, I said at last, 'Captain Welsh, here we
are on board your ship will you tell us what you mean to do with us?'
He now said bluntly, ' I will.'
'You'll behave like a man of honour,' said I, and to that he cried
vehemently, 'I will.'
'Well, then,' said I, 'call out the boat, if you please; we're anxious to
'So you shall!' the captain shouted, 'and per ship--my barque Priscilla;
and better men than you left, or I 'm no Christian.'
Temple said briskly, 'Thank you, captain.'
'You may wait awhile with that, my lad,' he answered; and, to our
astonishment, recommended us to go and clean our faces and prepare to
drink some tea at his table.
'Thank you very much, captain, we'll do that when we 're on shore,' said
'You'll have black figure-heads and empty gizzards, then, by that time,'
he remarked. We beheld him turning over the leaves of a Bible.
Now, this sight of the Bible gave me a sense of personal security, and a
notion of hypocrisy in his conduct as well; and perceiving that we had
conjectured falsely as to his meaning to cast us on shore per ship, his
barque Priscilla, I burst out in great heat, 'What! we are prisoners?
You dare to detain us?'
Temple chimed in, in a similar strain. Fairly enraged, we flung at him
without anything of what I thought eloquence.
The captain ruminated up and down the columns of his Bible.
I was stung to feel that we were like two small terriers baiting a huge
mild bull. At last he said, 'The story of the Prodigal Son.'
'Oh!' groaned Temple, at the mention of this worn-out old fellow, who has
gone in harness to tracts ever since he ate the fatted calf.
But the captain never heeded his interruption.
'Young gentlemen, I've finished it while you 've been barking at me. If
I 'd had him early in life on board my vessel, I hope I'm not
presumptuous in saying--the Lord forgive me if I be so!--I'd have stopped
his downward career--ay, so!--with a trip in the right direction. The
Lord, young gentlemen, has not thrown you into my hands for no purpose
whatsoever. Thank him on your knees to-night, and thank Joseph Double,
my mate, when you rise, for he was the instrument of saving you from bad
company. If this was a vessel where you 'd hear an oath or smell the
smell of liquor, I 'd have let you run when there was terra firma within
stone's throw. I came on board, I found you both asleep, with those
marks of dissipation round your eyes, and I swore--in the Lord's name,
mind you--I'd help pluck you out of the pit while you had none but one
leg in. It's said! It's no use barking. I am not to be roused. The
devil in me is chained by the waist, and a twenty-pound weight on his
tongue. With your assistance I'll do the same for the devil in you.
Since you've had plenty of sleep, I 'll trouble you to commit to memory
the whole story of the Prodigal Son 'twixt now and morrow's sunrise.
We 'll have our commentary on it after labour done. Labour you will in
my vessel, for your soul's health. And let me advise you not to talk;
in your situation talking's temptation to lying. You'll do me the
obligation to feed at my table. And when I hand you back to your
parents, why, they'll thank me, if you won't. But it's not thanks I look
for: it's my bounden Christian duty I look to. I reckon a couple o'
stray lambs equal to one lost sheep.'
The captain uplifted his arm, ejaculating solemnly, 'By!' and faltered.
'You were going to swear!' said Temple, with savage disdain.
'By the blessing of Omnipotence! I'll save a pair o' pups from turning
wolves. And I'm a weak mortal man, that 's too true.'
'He was going to swear,' Temple muttered to me.
I considered the detection of Captain Welsh's hypocrisy unnecessary,
almost a condescension toward familiarity; but the ire in my bosom was
boiling so that I found it impossible to roll out the flood of eloquence
with which I was big. Soon after, I was trying to bribe the man with all
my money and my watch.
'Who gave you that watch?' said he.
'Downright Church catechism!' muttered Temple.
'My grandfather,' said I.
The captain's head went like a mechanical hammer, to express something
'My grandfather,' I continued, 'will pay you handsomely for any service
you do to me and my friend.'
'Now, that's not far off forgoing,' said the captain, in a tone as much
as to say we were bad all over.
I saw the waters slide by his cabin-windows. My desolation, my
humiliation, my chained fury, tumbled together. Out it came--
'Captain, do behave to us like a gentleman, and you shall never repent
it. Our relatives will be miserable about us. They--captain!--they
don't know where we are. We haven't even a change of clothes. Of course
we know we're at your mercy, but do behave like an honest man. You shall
be paid or not, just as you please, for putting us on shore, but we shall
be eternally grateful to you. Of course you mean kindly to us; we see
'I thank the Lord for it!' he interposed.
'Only you really are under a delusion. It 's extraordinary. You can't
be quite in your right senses about us; you must be--I don't mean to
speak disrespectfully-what we call on shore, cracked about us. . . .
'Doddered, don't they say in one of the shires?' he remarked.
Half-encouraged, and in the belief that I might be getting eloquent, I
appealed to his manliness. Why should he take advantage of a couple of
boys? I struck the key of his possible fatherly feelings: What misery
were not our friends suffering now. ('Ay, a bucketful now saves an ocean
in time to come!' he flung in his word.) I bade him, with more pathetic
dignity reflect on the dreadful hiatus in our studies.
'Is that Latin or Greek?' he asked.
I would not reply to the cold-blooded question. He said the New
Testament was written in Greek, he knew, and happy were those who could
read it in the original.
'Well, and how can we be learning to read it on board ship?' said Temple,
an observation that exasperated me because it seemed more to the point
than my lengthy speech, and betrayed that he thought so; however, I took
'How can we be graduating for our sphere in life, Captain Welsh, on board
your vessel? Tell us that.'
He played thumb and knuckles on his table. Just when I was hoping that
good would come of the senseless tune, Temple cried,
'Tell us what your exact intentions are, Captain Welsh. What do you mean
to do with us?'
'Mean to take you the voyage out and the voyage home, Providence
willing,' said the captain, and he rose.
We declined his offer of tea, though I fancy we could have gnawed at a
'There's no compulsion in that matter,' he said. 'You share my cabin
while you're my guests, shipmates, and apprentices in the path of living;
my cabin and my substance, the same as if you were what the North-
countrymen call bairns o' mine: I've none o' my own. My wife was a
barren woman. I've none but my old mother at home. Have your sulks out,
lads; you'll come round like the Priscilla on a tack, and discover you've
made way by it.'
We quitted his cabin, bowing stiffly.
Temple declared old Rippenger was better than this canting rascal.
The sea was around us, a distant yellow twinkle telling of land.
'His wife a barren woman! what's that to us!' Temple went on, exploding
at intervals. 'So was Sarah. His cabin and his substance! He talks
more like a preacher than a sailor. I should like to see him in a storm!
He's no sailor at all. His men hate him. It wouldn't be difficult to
get up a mutiny on board this ship. Richie, I understand the whole plot:
he's in want of cabin-boys. The fellow has impressed us. We shall have
to serve till we touch land. Thank God, there's a British consul
everywhere; I say that seriously. I love my country; may she always be
powerful! My life is always at her---- Did you feel that pitch of the
ship? Of all the names ever given to a vessel, I do think Priscilla is
without exception the most utterly detestable. Oh! there again. No,
it'll be too bad, Richie, if we 're beaten in this way.'
'If YOU are beaten,' said I, scarcely venturing to speak lest I should
cry or be sick.
We both felt that the vessel was conspiring to ruin our self-respect.
I set my head to think as hard as possible on Latin verses (my instinct
must have drawn me to them as to a species of intellectual biscuit
steeped in spirit, tough, and comforting, and fundamentally opposed to
existing circumstances, otherwise I cannot account for the attraction).
They helped me for a time; they kept off self-pity, and kept the
machinery of the mind at work. They lifted me, as it were, to an upper
floor removed from the treacherously sighing Priscilla. But I came down
quickly with a crash; no dexterous management of my mental resources
could save me from the hemp-like smell of the ship, nor would leaning
over the taffrail, nor lying curled under a tarpaulin. The sailors
heaped pilot-coats upon us. It was a bad ship, they said, to be sick on
board of, for no such thing as brandy was allowed in the old Priscilla.
Still I am sure I tasted some before I fell into a state of semi-
insensibility. As in a trance I heard Temple's moans, and the captain's
voice across the gusty wind, and the forlorn crunching of the ship down
great waves. The captain's figure was sometimes stooping over us, more
great-coats were piled on us; sometimes the wind whistled thinner than
one fancies the shrieks of creatures dead of starvation and restless,
that spend their souls in a shriek as long as they can hold it on, say
nursery-maids; the ship made a truce with the waters and grunted; we took
two or three playful blows, we were drenched with spray, uphill we
laboured, we caught the moon in a net of rigging, away we plunged; we
mounted to plunge again and again. I reproached the vessel in argument
for some imaginary inconsistency. Memory was like a heavy barrel on my
breast, rolling with the sea.
WE CONDUCT SEVERAL LEARNED ARGUMENTS WITH THE CAPTAIN OF THE PRISCILLA
Captain Welsh soon conquered us. The latest meal we had eaten was on the
frosty common under the fir-trees. After a tremendous fast, with sea-
sickness supervening, the eggs and bacon, and pleasant benevolent-
smelling tea on the captain's table were things not to be resisted by two
healthy boys who had previously stripped and faced buckets of maddening
ice-cold salt-water, dashed at us by a jolly sailor. An open mind for
new impressions came with the warmth of our clothes. We ate, bearing
within us the souls of injured innocents; nevertheless, we were thankful,
and, to the captain's grace, a long one, we bowed heads decently. It was
a glorious breakfast, for which land and sea had prepared us in about
equal degrees: I confess, my feelings when I jumped out of the cabin were
almost those of one born afresh to life and understanding. Temple and I
took counsel. We agreed that sulking would be ridiculous, unmanly,
ungentlemanly. The captain had us fast, as if we were under a lion's
paw; he was evidently a well-meaning man, a fanatic deluded concerning
our characters: the barque Priscilla was bound for a German port, and
should arrive there in a few days,--why not run the voyage merrily since
we were treated with kindness? Neither the squire nor Temple's father
could complain of our conduct; we were simply victims of an error that
was assisting us to a knowledge of the world, a youth's proper ambition.
'And we're not going to be starved,' said Temple.
I smiled, thinking I perceived the reason why I had failed in my oration
over-night; so I determined that on no future occasion would I let pride
stand in the way of provender. Breakfast had completely transformed us
We held it due to ourselves that we should demand explanations from
Joseph Double, the mate, and then, after hearing him, furnish them with a
cordial alacrity to which we might have attached unlimited credence had
he not protested against our dreaming him to have supplied hot rum-and-
water on board, we wrote our names and addresses in the captain's log-
book, and immediately asked permission to go to the mast-head.
He laughed. Out of his cabin there was no smack of the preacher in him.
His men said he was a stout seaman, mad on the subject of grog and girls.
Why, it was on account of grog and girls that he was giving us this dish
of salt-water to purify us! Grog and girls! cried we. We vowed upon
our honour as gentlemen we had tasted grog for the first time in our
lives on board the Priscilla. How about the girls? they asked. We
informed them we knew none but girls who were ladies. Thereupon one
sailor nodded, one sent up a crow, one said the misfortune of the case
lay in all girls being such precious fine ladies; and one spoke in
dreadfully blank language, he accused us of treating the Priscilla as a
tavern for the entertainment of bad company, stating that he had helped
to row me and my associates from the shore to the ship.
'Poor Mr. Double!' says he; 'there was only one way for him to jump you
two young gentlemen out o' that snapdragon bowl you was in--or quashmire,
call it; so he 'ticed you on board wi' the bait you was swallowing, which
was making the devil serve the Lord's turn. And I'll remember that
night, for I yielded to swearing, and drank too!' The other sailors
roared with laughter.
I tipped them, not to appear offended by their suspicions. We thought
them all hypocrites, and were as much in error as if we had thought them
Things went fairly well with the exception of the lessons in Scripture.
Our work was mere playing at sailoring, helping furl sails, haul ropes,
study charts, carry messages, and such like. Temple made his voice
shrewdly emphatic to explain to the captain that we liked the work, but
that such lessons as these out of Scripture were what the eeriest
youngsters were crammed with.
'Such lessons as these, maybe, don't have the meaning on land they get to
have on the high seas,' replied the captain: 'and those youngsters you
talk of were not called in to throw a light on passages: for I may teach
you ship's business aboard my barque, but we're all children inside the
He groaned heartily to hear that our learning lay in the direction of
Pagan Gods and Goddesses, and heathen historians and poets; adding, it
was not new to him, and perhaps that was why the world was as it was.
Nor did he wonder, he said, at our running from studies of those filthy
writings loose upon London; it was as natural as dunghill steam. Temple
pretended he was forced by the captain's undue severity to defend Venus;
he said, I thought rather wittily, 'Sailors ought to have a respect for
her, for she was born in the middle of the sea, and she steered straight
for land, so she must have had a pretty good idea of navigation.'
But the captain answered none the less keenly, 'She had her idea of
navigating, as the devil of mischief always has, in the direction where
there's most to corrupt; and, my lad, she teaches the navigation that
leads to the bottom beneath us.'
He might be right, still our mien was evil in reciting the lessons from
Scripture; and though Captain Welsh had intelligence we could not draw
into it the how and the why of the indignity we experienced. We had
rather he had been a savage captain, to have braced our spirits to sturdy
resistance, instead of a mild, good-humoured man of kind intentions, who
lent us his linen to wear, fed us at his table, and taxed our most
gentlemanly feelings to find excuses for him. Our way of revenging
ourselves becomingly was to laud the heroes of antiquity, as if they had
possession of our souls and touched the fountain of worship. Whenever
Captain Welsh exclaimed, 'Well done,' or the equivalent, 'That 's an
idea,' we referred him to Plutarch for our great exemplar. It was
Alcibiades gracefully consuming his black broth that won the captain's
thanks for theological acuteness, or the young Telemachus suiting his
temper to the dolphin's moods, since he must somehow get on shore on the
dolphin's back. Captain Welsh could not perceive in Temple the
personifier of Alcibiades, nor Telemachus in me; but he was aware of an
obstinate obstruction behind our compliance. This he called the devil
coiled like a snake in its winter sleep. He hurled texts at it openly,
or slyly dropped a particularly heavy one, in the hope of surprising it
with a death-blow. We beheld him poring over his Bible for texts that
should be sovereign medicines for us, deadly for the devil within us.
Consequently, we were on the defensive: bits of Cicero, bits of Seneca,
soundly and nobly moral, did service on behalf of Paganism; we remembered
them certainly almost as if an imp had brought them from afar. Nor had
we any desire to be in opposition to the cause he supported. What we
were opposed to was the dogmatic arrogance of a just but ignorant man,
who had his one specific for everything, and saw mortal sickness in all
other remedies or recreations. Temple said to him,
'If the Archbishop of Canterbury were to tell me Greek and Latin authors
are bad for me, I should listen to his remarks, because he 's a scholar:
he knows the languages and knows what they contain.'
Captain Welsh replied,
'If the Archbishop o' Canterbury sailed the sea, and lived in Foul Alley,
Waterside, when on shore, and so felt what it is to toss on top of the
waves o' perdition, he'd understand the value of a big, clean, well-
manned, well-provisioned ship, instead o' your galliots wi' gaudy sails,
your barges that can't rise to a sea, your yachts that run to port like
mother's pets at first pipe o' the storm, your trim-built wherries.'
'So you'd have only one sort of vessel afloat!' said I. 'There's the
difference of a man who's a scholar.'
'I'd have,' said the captain, 'every lad like you, my lad, trained in the
big ship, and he wouldn't capsize, and be found betrayed by his light
timbers as I found you. Serve your apprenticeship in the Lord's three-
decker; then to command what you may.'
'No, no, Captain Welsh,' says Temple: 'you must grind at Latin and Greek
when you 're a chick, or you won't ever master the rudiments. Upon my
honour, I declare it 's the truth, you must. If you'd like to try, and
are of a mind for a go at Greek, we'll do our best to help you through
the aorists. It looks harder than Latin, but after a start it 's easier.
Only, I'm afraid your three-decker's apprenticeship 'll stand in your
'Greek 's to be done for me; I can pay clever gentlemen for doing Greek
for me,' said the captain. 'The knowledge and the love of virtue I must
do for myself; and not to be wrecked, I must do it early.'
'Well, that's neither learning nor human nature,' said I.
'It's the knowledge o' the right rules for human nature, my lad.'
'Would you kidnap youngsters to serve in your ship, captain?'
'I'd bless the wind that blew them there, foul or not, my lad.'
'And there they'd stick when you had them, captain?'
'I'd think it was the Lord's will they should stick there awhile,
'And what of their parents?'
'Youngsters out like gossamers on a wind, their parents are where they
sow themselves, my lad.'
'I call that hard on the real parents, Captain Welsh,' said Temple.
'It's harder on Providence when parents breed that kind o' light
creature, my lad.'
We were all getting excited, talking our best, such as it was; the
captain leaning over his side of the table, clasping his hands
unintentionally preacher-like; we on our side supporting our chins on our
fists, quick to be at him. Temple was brilliant; he wanted to convert
the captain, and avowed it.
'For,' said he, 'you're not like one of those tract-fellows. You're a
man we can respect, a good seaman, master of your ship, and hearty, and
no mewing sanctimoniousness, and we can see and excuse your mistake as to
us two; but now, there's my father at home--he's a good man, but he 's a
man of the world, and reads his classics and his Bible. He's none the
worse for it, I assure you.'
'Where was his son the night of the fog?' said the captain.
'Well, he happened to be out in it.'
'Where'd he be now but for one o' my men?'
'Who can answer that, Captain Welsh?'
'I can, my lad-stewing in an ante-room of hell-gates, I verily believe.'
Temple sighed at the captain's infatuation, and said, 'I'll tell you of a
fellow at our school named Drew; he was old Rippenger's best theological
scholar--always got the prize for theology. Well, he was a confirmed
sneak. I've taken him into a corner and described the torments of dying
to him, and his look was disgusting--he broke out in a clammy sweat.
"Don't, don't!" he'd cry. "You're just the fellow to suffer intensely,"
I told him. And what was his idea of escaping it? Why, by learning the
whole of Deuteronomy and the Acts of the Apostles by heart! His idea of
Judgement Day was old Rippenger's half-yearly examination. These are
facts, you know, Captain Welsh.'
I testified to them briefly.
The captain said a curious thing: 'I'll make an appointment with you in
leviathan's jaws the night of a storm, my lad.'
'With pleasure,' said Temple.
'The Lord send it!' exclaimed the captain.
His head was bent forward, and he was gazing up into his eyebrows.
Before we knew that anything was coming, he was out on a narrative of a
scholar of one of the Universities. Our ears were indifferent to the
young man's career from the heights of fortune to delirium tremens down
the cataract of brandy, until the captain spoke of a dark night on the
Pool of the Thames; and here his voice struggled, and we tried hard to
catch the thread of the tale. Two men and a girl were in the boat. The
men fought, the girl shrieked, the boat was upset, the three were
All this came so suddenly that nothing but the captain's heavy thump of
his fist on the table kept us from laughing.
He was quite unable to relate the tale, and we had to gather it from his
exclamations. One of the men was mate of a vessel lying in the Pool,
having only cast anchor that evening; the girl was his sweetheart; the
other man had once been a fine young University gentleman, and had become
an outfitter's drunken agent. The brave sailor had nourished him often
when on shore, and he, with the fluent tongue which his college had
trimmed for him, had led the girl to sin during her lover's absence.
Howsoever, they put off together to welcome him on his arrival, never
suspecting that their secret had been whispered to Robert Welsh
beforehand. Howsoever, Robert gave them hearty greeting, and down to the
cabin they went, and there sat drinking up to midnight.
'Three lost souls!' said the captain.
'See how they run,' Temple sang, half audibly, and flushed hot, ashamed
''Twas I had to bear the news to his mother,' the captain pursued; 'and it
was a task, my lads, for I was then little more than your age, and the
glass was Robert's only fault, and he was my only brother.'
I offered my hand to the captain. He grasped it powerfully. 'That crew
in a boat, and wouldn't you know the devil'd be coxswain?' he called
loudly, and buried his face.
'No,' he said, looking up at us, 'I pray for no storm, but, by the Lord's
mercy, for a way to your hearts through fire or water. And now on deck,
my lads, while your beds are made up. Three blind things we verily are.'
Captain Welsh showed he was sharp of hearing. His allusion to the
humming of the tune of the mice gave Temple a fit of remorse, and he
'Ay,' said the captain, 'it is so; own it: frivolity's the fruit of that
training that's all for the flesh. But dip you into some o' my books on
my shelves here, and learn to see living man half skeleton, like life and
shadow, and never to living man need you pray forgiveness, my lad.'
By sheer force of character he gained the command of our respect. Though
we agreed on deck that he had bungled his story, it impressed us; we felt
less able to cope with him, and less willing to encounter a storm.
'We shall have one, of course,' Temple said, affecting resignation, with
a glance aloft.
I was superstitiously of the same opinion, and praised the vessel.
'Oh, Priscilla's the very name of a ship that founders with all hands and
sends a bottle on shore,' said Temple.
'There isn't a bottle on board,' said I; and this piece of nonsense
helped us to sleep off our gloom.
I MEET OLD FRIENDS
Notwithstanding the prognostications it pleased us to indulge, we had a
tolerably smooth voyage. On a clear cold Sunday morning we were sailing
between a foreign river's banks, and Temple and I were alternately
reading a chapter out of the Bible to the assembled ship's crew, in
advance of the captain's short exhortation. We had ceased to look at
ourselves inwardly, and we hardly thought it strange. But our hearts
beat for a view of the great merchant city, which was called a free city,
and therefore, Temple suggested, must bear certain portions of
resemblance to old England; so we made up our minds to like it.
'A wonderful place for beer cellars,' a sailor observed to us slyly, and
hitched himself up from the breech to the scalp.
At all events, it was a place where we could buy linen.
For that purpose, Captain Welsh handed us over to the care of his trusted
mate Mr. Joseph Double, and we were soon in the streets of the city,
desirous of purchasing half their contents. My supply of money was not
enough for what I deemed necessary purchases. Temple had split his
clothes, mine were tarred; we were appearing at a disadvantage, and we
intended to dine at a good hotel and subsequently go to a theatre. Yet I
had no wish to part with my watch. Mr. Double said it might be arranged.
It was pawned at a shop for a sum equivalent in our money to about twelve
pounds, and Temple obliged me by taking charge of the ticket. Thus we
were enabled to dress suitably and dine pleasantly, and, as Mr. Double
remarked, no one could rob me of my gold watch now. We visited a couple
of beer-cellars to taste the drink of the people, and discovered three of
our men engaged in a similar undertaking. I proposed that it should be
done at my expense. They praised their captain, but asked us, as
gentlemen and scholars, whether it was reasonable to object to liquor
because your brother was carried out on a high tide? Mr. Double
commended them to moderation. Their reply was to estimate an immoderate
amount of liquor as due to them, with profound composure.
'Those rascals,' Mr. Double informed us, 'are not in the captain's
confidence they're tidy seamen, though, and they submit to the captain's
laws on board and have their liberty ashore.'
We inquired what the difference was between their privileges and his.
'Why,' said he, 'if they're so much as accused of a disobedient act, off
they 're scurried, and lose fair wages and a kind captain. And let any
man Jack of 'em accuse me, and he bounds a india-rubber ball against a
wall and gets it; all he meant to give he gets. Once you fix the
confidence of your superior, you're waterproof.'
We held our peace, but we could have spoken.
Mr. Double had no moral hostility toward theatres. Supposing he did not
relish the performance, he could enjoy a spell in the open air, he said,
and this he speedily decided to do. Had we not been bound in honour to
remain for him to fetch us, we also should have retired from a
representation of which we understood only the word ja. It was tiresome
to be perpetually waiting for the return of this word. We felt somewhat
as dogs must feel when human speech is addressed to them. Accordingly,
we professed, without concealment, to despise the whole performance.
I reminded Temple of a saying of the Emperor Charles V. as to a knowledge
'Hem!' he went critically; 'it's all very well for a German to talk in
that way, but you can't be five times an Englishman if you're a
We heard English laughter near us. Presently an English gentleman
'Mr. Villiers, I believe?' He bowed at me.
'My name is Richmond.'
He bowed again, with excuses, talked of the Play, and telegraphed to a
lady sitting in a box fronting us. I saw that she wrote on a slip of
paper; she beckoned; the gentleman quitted us, and soon after placed a
twisted note in my hand. It ran:
'Miss Goodwin (whose Christian name is Clara) wishes very much to know
how it has fared with Mr. Harry Richmond since he left Venice.'
I pushed past a number of discontented knees, trying, on my way to her
box, to recollect her vividly, but I could barely recollect her at all,
until I had sat beside her five minutes. Colonel Goodwin was asleep in a
corner of the box. Awakened by the sound of his native tongue, he
recognized me immediately.
'On your way to your father?' he said, as he shook my hand.
I thought it amazing he should guess that in Germany.
'Do you know where he is, sir?' I asked.
'We saw him,' replied the colonel; 'when was it, Clara? A week or ten
'Yes,' said Miss Goodwin; 'we will talk of that by-and-by.' And she
overflowed with comments on my personal appearance, and plied me with
questions, but would answer none of mine.
I fetched Temple into the box to introduce him. We were introduced in
turn to Captain Malet, the gentleman who had accosted me below.
'You understand German, then?' said Miss Goodwin.
She stared at hearing that we knew only the word ja, for it made our
presence in Germany unaccountable.
'The most dangerous word of all,' said Colonel Goodwin, and begged us
always to repeat after it the negative nein for an antidote.
'You have both seen my father?' I whispered to Miss Goodwin; 'both? We
have been separated. Do tell me everything. Don't look at the stage-
they speak such nonsense. How did you remember me? How happy I am to
have met you! Oh! I haven't forgotten the gondolas and the striped
posts, and stali and the other word; but soon after we were separated,
and I haven't seen him since.'
She touched her father's arm.
'At once, if you like,' said he, jumping up erect.
'In Germany was it?' I persisted.
She nodded gravely and leaned softly on my arm while we marched out of
the theatre to her hotel--I in such a state of happiness underlying
bewilderment and strong expectation that I should have cried out loud had
not pride in my partner restrained me. At her tea-table I narrated the
whole of my adventure backwards to the time of our parting in Venice,
hurrying it over as quick as I could, with the breathless termination,
They had an incomprehensible reluctance to perform their part of the
implied compact. Miss Goodwin looked at Captain Malet. He took his
leave. Then she said, 'How glad I am you have dropped that odious name
of Roy! Papa and I have talked of you frequently--latterly very often.
I meant to write to you, Harry Richmond. I should have done it the
moment we returned to England.'
'You must know,' said the colonel, 'that I am an amateur inspector of
fortresses, and my poor Clara has to trudge the Continent with me to pick
up the latest inventions in artillery and other matters, for which I get
no thanks at head-quarters--but it 's one way of serving one's country
when the steel lies rusting. We are now for home by way of Paris. I
hope that you and your friend will give us your company. I will see this
Captain Welsh of yours before we start. Clara, you decided on dragging
me to the theatre to-night with your usual admirable instinct.'
I reminded Miss Goodwin of my father being in Germany.
'Yes, he is at one of the Courts, a long distance from here,' she said,
rapidly. 'And you came by accident in a merchant-ship! You are one of
those who are marked for extraordinary adventures. Confess: you would
have set eyes on me, and not known me. It's a miracle that I should meet
my little friend Harry--little no longer my friend all the same, are you
I hoped so ardently.
She with great urgency added, 'Then come with us. Prove that you put
faith in our friendship.'
In desperation I exclaimed, 'But I must, I must hear of my father.'
She turned to consult the colonel's face.
'Certainly,' he said, and eulogized a loving son. 'Clara will talk to
you. I'm for bed. What was the name of the play we saw this evening?
Oh! Struensee, to be sure. We missed the scaffold.'
He wished us good-night on an appointment of the hour for breakfast, and
ordered beds for us in the hotel.
Miss Goodwin commenced: 'But really I have nothing to tell you, or very
little. You know, Papa has introductions everywhere; we are like
Continental people, and speak a variety of languages, and I am almost a
foreigner, we are so much abroad; but I do think English boys should be
educated at home: I hope you'll go to an English college.'
Noticing my painful look, 'We saw him at the Court of the Prince of
Eppenwelzen,' she said, as if her brows ached. 'He is very kindly
treated there; he was there some weeks ago. The place lies out in the
Hanover direction, far from here. He told us that you were with your
grandfather, and I must see Riversley Grange, and the truth is you must
take me there. I suspect you have your peace to make; perhaps I shall
help you, and be a true Peribanou. We go over Amsterdam, the Hague,
Brussels, and you shall see the battlefield, Paris, straight to London.
Yes, you are fickle; you have not once called me Peribanou.'
Her voluble rattling succeeded in fencing off my questions before I could
exactly shape them, as I staggered from blind to blind idea, now thinking
of the sombre red Bench, and now of the German prince's Court.
'Won't you tell me any more to-night?' I said, when she paused.
'Indeed, I have not any more to tell,' she assured me.
It was clear to me that she had joined the mysterious league against my
father. I began to have a choking in the throat. I thanked her and
wished her good-night while I was still capable of smiling.
At my next interview with Colonel Goodwin he spoke promptly on the
subject of my wanderings. I was of an age, he said, to know my own
interests. No doubt filial affection was excellent in its way, but in
fact it was highly questionable whether my father was still at the Court
of this German prince; my father had stated that he meant to visit
England to obtain an interview with his son, and I might miss him by a
harum-scarum chase over Germany. And besides, was I not offending my
grandfather and my aunt, to whom I owed so much? He appealed to my
warmest feelings on their behalf. This was just the moment, he said,
when there was a turning-point in my fortunes. He could assure me most
earnestly that I should do no good by knocking at this prince's doors,
and have nothing but bitterness if I did in the end discover my father.
'Surely you understand the advantages of being bred a gentleman?' he
wound up. 'Under your grandfather's care you have a career before you,
a fine fortune in prospect, everything a young man can wish for. And I
must tell you candidly, you run great risk of missing all these things by
hunting your father to earth. Give yourself a little time: reflect on
'I have,' I cried. 'I have come out to find him, and I must.'
The colonel renewed his arguments and persuasions until he was worn out.
I thanked him continually for his kindness. Clara Goodwin besought me in
a surprising manner to accompany her to England, called herself
Peribanou, and with that name conjured up my father to my eyes in his
breathing form. She said, as her father had done, that I was called on
now to decide upon my future: she had a presentiment that evil would come
to me of my unchecked, headstrong will, which she dignified by terming it
a true but reckless affection: she believed she had been thrown in my
path to prove herself a serviceable friend, a Peribanou of twenty-six who
would not expect me to marry her when she had earned my gratitude.
They set Temple on me, and that was very funny. To hear him with his
'I say, Richie, come, perhaps it's as well to know where a thing should
stop; your father knows you're at Riversley, and he'll be after you when
convenient; and just fancy the squire!' was laughable. He had some
anxiety to be home again, or at least at Riversley. I offered him to
She reproached me and coaxed me; she was exceedingly sweet. 'Well,' she
said, in an odd, resigned fashion, 'rest a day with us; will you refuse
I consented; she knew not with what fretfulness. We went out to gaze at
the shops and edifices, and I bought two light bags for slinging over the
shoulder, two nightshirts, toothbrushes, and pocket-combs, and a large
map of Germany. By dint of vehement entreaties I led her to point to the
territory of the Prince of Eppenwelzen-Sarkeld. 'His income is rather
less than that of your grandfather, friend Harry,' she remarked. I
doated on the spot until I could have dropped my finger on it blindfold.
Two or three pitched battles brought us to a friendly arrangement. The
colonel exacted my promise that if I saw my father at Sarkeld in
Eppenwelzen I would not stay with him longer than seven days: and that if
he was not there I would journey home forthwith. When I had yielded the
promise frankly on my honour, he introduced me to a banker of the city,
who agreed to furnish me money to carry me on to England in case I should
require it. A diligence engaged to deliver me within a few miles of
Sarkeld. I wrote a letter to my aunt Dorothy, telling her facts, and one
to the squire, beginning, 'We were caught on our arrival in London by the
thickest fog ever remembered,' as if it had been settled on my departure
from Riversley that Temple and I were bound for London. Miss Goodwin was
my post-bag. She said when we had dined, about two hours before the
starting of the diligence, 'Don't you think you ought to go and wish that
captain of the vessel you sailed in goodbye?' I fell into her plot so
far as to walk down to the quays on the river-side and reconnoitre the
ship. But there I saw my prison. I kissed my hand to Captain Welsh's
mainmast rather ironically, though not without regard for him. Miss
Goodwin lifted her eyelids at our reappearance. As she made no
confession of her treason I did not accuse her, and perhaps it was owing
to a movement of her conscience that at our parting she drew me to her
near enough for a kiss to come of itself.
Four-and-twenty German words of essential service to a traveller in
Germany constituted our knowledge of the language, and these were on
paper transcribed by Miss Goodwin's own hand. In the gloom of the
diligence, packed between Germans of a size that not even Tacitus had
prepared me for, smoked over from all sides, it was a fascinating study.
Temple and I exchanged the paper half-hourly while the light lasted.
When that had fled, nothing was left us to combat the sensation that we
were in the depths of a manure-bed, for the windows were closed, the
tobacco-smoke thickened, the hides of animals wrapping our immense
companions reeked; fire occasionally glowed in their pipe-bowls; they
were silent, and gave out smoke and heat incessantly, like inanimate
forces of nature. I had most fantastic ideas,--that I had taken root and
ripened, and must expect my head to drop off at any instant: that I was
deep down, wedged in the solid mass of the earth. But I need not repeat
them: they were accurately translated in imagination from my physical
miseries. The dim revival of light, when I had well-nigh ceased to hope
for it, showed us all like malefactors imperfectly hanged, or drowned
wretches in a cabin under water. I had one Colossus bulging over my
shoulder! Temple was blotted out. His face, emerging from beneath a
block of curly bearskin, was like that of one frozen in wonderment.
Outside there was a melting snow on the higher hills; the clouds over
them grew steel-blue. We were going through a valley in a fir-forest.
ETEXT EDITOR'S BOOKMARKS:
Attacked my conscience on the cowardly side
Days when you lay on your back and the sky rained apples
Dogmatic arrogance of a just but ignorant man
He put no question to anybody
I can pay clever gentlemen for doing Greek for me
Irony instead of eloquence
Simplicity is the keenest weapon
The most dangerous word of all--ja
There's ne'er a worse off but there's a better off
Vessel was conspiring to ruin our self-respect
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