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THE MAID OF SKER.
WAITING AND LEARNING.
From Blackwood's Magazine. fa-week was what I might draw, also the
wood on the wharf, so long as it would last for firing; and any fish I could catch with lines; and any birds I could shoot
on the river, with a stone of rock-powder What this great man now said to me that was in the hold. had better not be set down perhaps; be- Bang was ashamed to deliver this mescause it proved him incapable of forming sage; and I cannot describe to you my due estimate of my character. Enough wrath, as slowly. I wrung it out of him. that he caused me some alarm and consid- His head went into his neck almost, for erable annoyance by his supercilious vein, fear of my taking it by the handles, which and assumption of evil motives. Whereas nature had provided in his two ears, and you could not find anywhere purer or lof- letting him learn (as done once before) tier reasons, and, I might say, more poeti- that the mast had harder knots in it. But cal ones, than those which had led me to I always scorn injustice; and Bang was abstain from speaking of the fair young not to be blamed for this. So I treated lady. However, as this Chowne had him kindly; as I might wish a boy of my learned all about her, froin some skulking own to be treated by a man of large exlandsman, whom he maintained as a spy at perience. And I let him go home to his the back of the premises, it was certain mother's house which was said to be somethat I could in no way harm her, by earn- where within a league, and then I went to ing a trifle of money in front, in a thor- see what manners had been shown in the oughly open and disciplined way. And it pickling-tub. might even lie in my power thereby to de- Ilere I found precious little indeed, and feat the devices of enemies, and rescue this only the bottom stuff of coxcombs, tails, beautiful young female from any one who and nails, and overharpings, thready bits, would dare to think of presuming to injure and tape-worm stuff
, such as we pray deher.
liverance from, unless it comes to famine. I found my breast and heart aglow with Nevertheless, in my own condition I all the fine feeling of younger days, the grieved that there was not more of it. moment the above occurred to me; and it Because, how could I get across to my nawould not have cost me two blows to tive land again? All the small coastingknock down any man who misunderstood craft were laid up, as if they were china
Ilowever, his Reverence did not af- for shelfing, immediately after that gale of ford me any chance for this exercise; but wind, which (but for me) must have capseemed to allow me the benefit which such sized us. These fellows up the rivers never ideas afford a man; and promised to give get a breath of seamanship. Sudden me three half-crowns, instead of five shil- squalls are all they think of. Sea-room, lings a-week, as before.
and the power of it, they would be afraid He allowed me a hayloft to sleep in that of. night, after taking good care that I had At one time I thought of walking home, not even a flint to strike a light with. because none of these traders would venFor, cordially as he did enjoy the firing of ture it; and if I had only a guinea to start an enemy's barns or stacks. his Reverence with on the road to Bristol, nothing could never could bear the idea of so much as a b.ive stopped me. For, say what I might spark coming near his own. And the fol- to myself about it, and reason however lowing morning I saddled my horse, with carefully, I could not reconcile with my a good chain undergirding, and taking turn conscience these things that detained me. and turn about got home to the Rose of The more I considered only three halfDevon.
crowns, and the mere chance of wildAnd here I found very unjust work, ducks on the river, the less I perceived Fuzzy gone, and Ike not to be found, and how my duty lay, and the more it apthe keteh laid up for the winter. Only peared to be movable. And why was I Bang, the boy, waz left, and the purpose bound to stop here like this, when their of his remaining was to bear me a wicked place was to take me home again, accordmessage. Namely, that I had been so ing to stipulation ? To apply to the maymuch away, both in the boat and on or, as I knew, was useless, especially now horseback, that the captain would not be that I owed him a bill; as for the bench bound to me, except to get home again, of magistrates, one had already a bias how I might. And if this could not be against me, because I went into a wood brought about, and I chose to take care one night to watch an eclipse of the moon, of the ketch for the winter, two shillings and took my telescope; which they all
swore was a gun! Being disappointed! with the moon's proceedings, I slammed up my telescope hastily, and at the same time puffed my pipe: and there was a fellow on watch so vile as to swear to the sound and the smoke of a gun! And this fellow proved to be a Welshman of the name of Llewellyn, and a cousin of mine within seven generations! I acquit him of knowing this fact at the time; and when in cross-examination I let him know it, and nobody else, he came back to his duty, and swore white all the black he had sworn before. Nevertheless I did not like it (though acquitted amidst universal applause) on account of the notoriety; and finding him one night upon the barge walk, and his manners irritating, I was enabled to impress him with a sense of consanguinity. And after that I might bear my telescope, and take observations throughout the coverts, whenever the pheasants did not disturb me.
With no common self-approval, I observed what she turned out; although I longed much to unpack them myself, for fear of her spoiling anything. But she put me back in a wholesale manner, and spread it all out like a market-stand. And really it was almost enough to make a market of; for she was a very wiry old woman, and Bang had helped carry, as far as the wharf, when he saw me, and fled. Especially did I admire a goose, fat with golden fat upon him, trussed, and laid on stuffing-herbs. Also a little pig for roasting, too young to object to it, yet with his character formed enough to make his brains delicious. And as for sausages - but no more.
This privilege, and a flight of wildducks, followed by a team of geese, and rumours even of two wild swans, moderated my desire to be back at home again. There no man can get a shot, except in very bitter weather, or when the golden plovers come in, unless he likes to take on himself a strong defiance of public opinion. Because Colonel Lougher is so kind, and so The goodness of these things preserved forbears to prosecute, that to shoot his game me from going off on the tramp just yet. is no game at all,and shames almost any man That is the last thing a sailor should do, afterwards. And the glory of all that night-though gifted with an iron-tipped wooden work is, the sense of wronging somebody. leg. The Government drove me into it Moreover, a little thing occurred, which, once, when my wound allowed me to be in my doubt of conclusion, led me to stay discharged; but it took more out of my a bit longer. Some people may think self-respect than ever I have recovered. nothing of it, but a kind touch takes a And if I do anything under the mark hold on me. I have spoken of a boy, by (which, to my knowledge, I never do), it the name of Bang, possessing many good dates from the time the King drove me qualities, yet calling for education. Of to alms. However, I never do dwell this I had given him some little, adminis- now upon that, unless there is something tered not to his head alone, but to more wrong down in my hold; and when that influential quarters; and the result was a is right, I am thankful again. And none crop of gratitude watered by humility. of that ever befalls me, when I get my raWhen he went home for the winter tions regular. But who cares to hear any months, I expected to hear no more of more about me, with all these great things him, having been served in that manner coming on? You may look on me now as often by boys whom I have corrected. nobody. Therefore all who have ever observed the want of thankfulness in the young, will enter into my feelings when an ancient woman, Bang's grandmother, hailed me in a shaky voice over the side of my ketch, with Bang in the distance watching her. Between her feet was a good large basket, which with my usual fine feeling I leaped out to ease her of. But on no account would she let me touch it, until she knew more about me.
Because I fell so much beneath my own idea of myself, and all that others said of me, through my nasty want of strength, when Parson Chowne came over me. It is easy enough to understand that a man, in good-nature, may knock under to another man of good-nature also; all in friendship and in fun, and for the benefit of the world. But for a man of intellect not so very far under the average -as will now be admitted of me, in spite of all
inborn diffidence- as well as a man of a greatly increases his trouble to ask, and character formed and framed by experi- still more to tell it again, if you please. ence, now to be boarded and violently Sir Philip Bampfylde, as every one said, driven under hatches, without any power was a very nice gentleman indeed, the to strike a blow, by a man who was never head of an ancient family, and the owner on board of a ship — at any rate to of a large estate. Kind, moreover, and my knowledge; to think of this and yet affable, though perhaps a little stately, not help it, made me chafe like a fellow in from having long held high command and irons,
important rank in the army. Some years There was one thing, however, that ago he had attained even to the rank of helped to make me put up with my present general, which is the same thing among position a little, and that was my hope to land-forces as an admiral is with us; and be truly of service to my genuine benefac- he was so proud of this position, that he tor, poor Sr Philip Bampfylde. This old always wished to be so addressed, rather gentleman clearly was not going on very than by the title which had been so long comfortably; and Parson Chowne had in the family. For his argument was that given me to understand, without any he had to thank good fortune for being a words, that the great chest landed at the baronet, whereas good conduct and perend of his house, was full of alms and all severance alone conld have made hiin a other treason. These were to be smuggled general. Now if these had made him an in, after the Captain's departure; and the admiral, I would always entitle him so: as Captain would enter the house, it is, I shall call him “ Sir Philip,” or “Genthrough fear of the servants suspecting eral,” just as may happen to come to my something.
mind. Now this gentleman had two sons, I could not reconcile this account with and no other children; the elder was what I had seen the young lady do, and Philip Bamfylde Esquire, and the younger the Captain's mode of receiving it; but as Captain Drake Bamfylde, of whom I have I would not tll the Parson a word about spoken already. Philip, the heir, had been that young lady, I could not make that appointed to manage the family property, objection to him. Nor did I say, though I which spread for miles and miles away; might have done so, that I would not and and this gave him quite enough to do, could not believe for a moment that any because his father for years and years was British naval captain would employ his away on foreign service. And during this ship and crew for a purpose of high time Squire Philip married a lady of great treason to his lawful master. That Par- beauty, sent home by his father from forson Chowne should dare to think that I eign parts after rescue froin captivity. would swallow such stuff as that, made me She was of very good extraction, so far as angry with myself for not having contra- foreigners can be, and a princess (they dicted him. But all this time I was very said) in her own right, though without wise, and had no call to reproach myself. much chance of getting it. And she spoke Seldom need any man repent for not hav- the prettiest broken English, being very ing said more than he did; and never so sensitive. needeth a Welshman.
Well, everything thus far went purely And now, though I still took observa- enough, and the lady had brought him a tion of Narnton Court (as in honour pair of twins, and was giving good promise bound to deserve my salary), and though of going on, and everybody was pleased the Parson still rode down, and went the with her, and most of all her husband, and round of the deck at times when nobody Sir Philip was come home from governorcould expect him; yet it was not in my ship, but only on leave of absence, and. nature to be kept from asking something they were trying hard to persuade him as to all these people. You may frighten now to retire and live in peace, when who a man, and scare his wits, and keep him should come with his evil luck to spoil under, and trample on him, and even beat everything, but Drake Bampfylde ? Ilow his feelers down, and shut him up like a it came to pass was not clearly known, at jellyfi-h; but, after all this, if he is a man, least to the folk on our side of the river, he will want to know the reason. For or those whom I met in Barnstaple. And this makes half of the difference between I durst not ask on the further side, that is man and the lower animals: -- the latter. to say, around Narnton Court, because the when punished, accept it as a thing that Parson's spies were there. Only the old must befall them; and so do the negroes, women felt pretty sure that they had and all proper women : but a man always heard say, though it might be wrong, that wants to know why it must be; though it Captain Drake Bampfylde had drowned
the children, some said by accident, some the children were found buried - althougla said on purpose, and buried them some- I could never quite get at this, but only a where on Braunton Burrows. And the story of a man who had seen him doing it, effect of this on the foreign lady, being as as I shall tell hereafter — but even supshe was, poor thing, might have been fore- posing them deep in the sand (which I seen almost. For she fell into untimely was a little inclined to do, from trusting pains, and neither herself nor her babe ray spy-glass so thoroughly), yet there survived, exactly as happened to my might have been other people quite as son's wife.
likely to put them there as that unlucky This was a very sad story, I thought, Captain Drake. but they said that the worst of it still lay It has been my lot to sail under a great behind : for poor Squire Philip had been many various captains, not only whom I so upset by the hurry of all these misfor- have hinted at in the days when I was too tunes, that nobody knew what to do with young for work, but whom I mean to dehim. He always had been a most warm- scribe hereafter in my far greater experihearted man, foolishly fond of his wife ences; really finding (although I have and children, and of a soft and retiring tried to convince people to the contranature. Moreover, he looked on his ry) that what they have told me younger brother, who had seen so much perfectly true, and that I come out far more of the world than himself, and was stronger and better whenever my reins of a bolder character, not with an elder are tried and proved; and my loins as son's usual carelessness, but with a thor- sound as a bell, although hereditary from ough admiration. And when he found King David. Let that pass. I find one him behave in this manner (according, at fault, and it is the only one to be found ieast, to what every one said), and all for with me; it is that the style of our bards the sake of the property, without a sharp will come out, and spread me abroad in word between them, it went to his heart, their lofty allusions. in the thick of his losses, so that he was To come back to these captains. I never beside himself. He let his beard grow found one who would do such a thing as and his hair turn white, although he was kill and slay two children, much less dig not yet forty, and he put up the shutters their graves in the sand, and come home of his room, and kept candles around him, to dinner afterwards. And of all the capand little dolls. He refused to see his tains I had seen, Drake Bampfylde seemed brother Drake, and his father Sir Philip, as unfit as any to do a thing of that dirtiand everybody, except his own attendant, ness. However, as I have not too much and the nurse of his poor children. And trust in human nature (after the way it finding this, the Captain left the house, as has used me, and worst of all when in the if cursed out of it.
Government), I said to myself that it was The only one who took things bravely important to know at what time this Capwas the ancient General. Much as he tain Bampfylde won the love of that fine grieved at the loss of his race, and extinc- Miss Carey. Because, after that, he had tion, perhaps, of the family, he swore that no temptation to put the little ones out of he never would be cast down, or doubt the way; and I quite settled it in my own the honour of his favourite son, until that mind, that if they had set up their horses son confessed it. This Drake Bampfylde together, before the young children went had never done, although the case was out of the world, Captain Drake Bamp-, hard against him, and scarcely any one, fylde was not likely to have made them go except his father, now stood up for him. so. For that fair maiden's estates, I was But of the few who still held him guiltless, told, wonld feed four hundred people. was one especial comforter; Isabel Carey No one had seen this, exactly as I did, to wit, a young lady of very good Devon- nor could I beat it into them; and I found shire family, left as a ward to Sir Philip from one or two symptoms that it was Bampfylde, and waiting for three or four high time for me to leave off talking. Paryears more of age, to come into large es- son Chowne came down one night, as tates in South Devon.
black as a tarred thunderbolt, and though The general people did not know this; he said nothing to let me know, I felt but I happened to get ahead of them; and afraid of his meaning. Also Parson Jaek having a knack in my quiet way of putting rode down, in his headlong careless way, two and two together, also having seen and filled his pipe from my tobacco-bag, the Captain, and shaped my opinions, I and gave me a wink, and said, “ Keep your would have staked my boat against a mouth shut.” It was always a pleasure to cuttle-fish that he was quite innocent. If I me to behold him; whatever his principles
THE POLITE FERRYMAN.
may have been, and if I could have said a the fellows that came after them, Church
1 word to stop him from his downward road, of England, or Church of Rome, for me or to make it go less sudden, goodness this time at any rate; with preference to knows I would have done it, at the risk of the latter because having no chapel in our three half-crowns a-week.
And I worked this ferry, if you will believe me, not for the sake of the two pence both ways, half so much as because
of my thoughts of the confidence that I Now, for a man of my age and knowl- must create. I knew for I won't say forty edge, keeping an eye on his own concerns, years, but at any rate good thirty, what and under the eyes of a good many women women are the very moment they must (eager to have him, because confessed su- needs come into a boat. The very shyest perior to the neighbourhood, yet naturally and wisest of them are at the mercy of a doubtful how much money would be want- man right out. And I never could help cd), for such a man to attend to things believing that they come for that very which could not concern him in any way, reason. I know all their queerness of without neglecting what now he had found placing their toes, and how they fetch a serious matter at his time of life — this, their figures up, and manage to hitch their to my mind, proves a breadth of sympathy petticoats, and try to suppose they are rarely found outside of Wales.
quite on a balance, and then go down Entering into these things largely, and plump on the nearest thwart, and pretend desiring to do my best, having, inoreover, that they did it on purpose. Nevertheless nought else to do except among dabs and they are very good; and we are bound to flounders, I was led by a naturally active make the best of them. mind to try to turn a penny; not for my When I told Parson Chowne of my ferown good so much as for the use of Bunny. ry-boat, rather than let him find it out, Therefore, having the punt at command, which of coarse must have happened imand a good pair of oars, and a good pair mediately, a quick gleam of wrath at my of arms, what did I do but set up a ferry, daring to do such a thing without consult. such as had never been heard of before, ing him moved in the depth of his great and never might have been dreamed of, black eyes. At least I believed so, but except for my intelligence ? Because we was not sure; for I never could bear to had two miles to Barnstaple Bridge, and look straight at his eyes, as I do to all no bridge at all to be found below us, and other people, especially Anthony Stew, a good many houses here and there, on Esquire. I thought that my ferry would either side of the river. And I saw that be forbidden; but with his usual quickthey must know one another, and were ness he saw that it might serve his purlonging to dine or to gossip together, ex-pose in several ways. Because it would cept for the water between them, or the help to keep me there, as well as account distance to walk all the way by the bridge. for my being there, and afford me the best So being left in this desolate state, and chance in the world of watching the river shamefully treated by Captain Fuzzy, and traffic. So he changed his frown to an icy Bang's grandmother now neglecting me, at smile, such as I never could smile at, and a period of sadnes3, while smoking a pipe, said Providence
gave me this brilliant idea. “Behold now what good-luck comes of I never had dreamed for a moment of my service! Only remember, no fares to settling without something permanent; be taken when the tide serves for you and not even £30 a-year would tempt me know what. And especially no gossipto do any despite to my late dear wife's ing." remembrance. A year and a day at the This being settled to my content, I took very least was I resolved to mourn for a great piece of loose tarpaulin out of the her; still, as the time was drawing on, I hold of the Rose of Devon, and with a desired to have some prospect. Not to bucket of thick lime-whiting explained to settle rashly, as young people do in such the public in printing letters, each affairs (which really should be important), large as a marlin-spike, who I was, and of but to begin to feel about, and put the what vocation, and how thoroughly trustprice against the weight, and then take worthy. And let any one read it, and time to think about it. Only I had made then give opinion in common fairness, up my inind not to look twice at the very whether any man capable of being conrichest and most beautiful Methodist. sidered a spy would ever have done such a Enough had I had for my life of them, and thing as this: