Demon ship, or, The pirate of the Mediterranean
OF THE MEDITERRANEAN.
PRINTED & PUBLISHED BY J. BRYDONE,
SOUTH HANOVER STREET.
THE DEMON SHIP, &C.
I was the only son of a widowed mother, who, though far from affluent, was not pennyless;—you will naturally suppose, therefore, I was a most troublesome, disagreeable, spoiled child. Such I might have been, but for the continual drawback on all my early, my maternal home presented, in the shape of an old dowager countess, a forty-ninth cousin of my mother's. Whatever I was doing, wherever I was going, there was she reproving, rebuking, exhorting, and all to save me from idling, or drowning, or quarrelling, or straying, or a hundred etceteras. I grew up, went to school, to —finally, into the army, and with it to Ireland; and had the , at five-and-twenty, to hear the dowager say I was good for nothing. She was of a somewhat disposition, and perhaps I did not well to make her my enemy. At this time I had the offer of a good military appointment to India, and yet I hesitated to it. There was in my native village a retired , for whom I had conceived a strong . His daughter I had known and loved from childhood, and when this gave place to womanhood, my affection in kind while it strengthened in degree. Margaret Cameron was at this period seventeen, and, , eight years my junior. She was young, beautiful, and spoiled by a doating parent—yet I saw in her a fine natural disposition, and the seeds of many noble qualities. To both father and daughter I openly unfolded my affection. Captain Cameron, naturally, pleaded the youth of his daughter. Margaret laughed at the idea of my even entertaining a thought of her, and declared she would as soon think of marrying an elder brother as myself. I listened to her assertions with profound silence, scorned to whine and plead my cause, bowed with an air of haughty resignation, and left her.
When next I saw Margaret I was in a travelling dress at her father's of seventeen can be sentimental, but there are few stoics in their teens. I love to be coldly great. You charm me.'—'If heartlessness and mental superiority are with you synonymes,' I said, with gravity, 'count yourself, Miss Cameron, at the very acmé of intellectual greatness, since you can take leave of one of your earliest friends with such easy indifference.'—'Pooh! pooh! I know you are not really going. This voyage to India is one of your favourite threats in your dignified moments. I think this is the twentieth time it has been made. And for early friends, and so forth, you have contrived to live within a few hundred feet of them without coming in their sight for the last month; so they be so very dear.'—'Listen to me, Margaret,' said I, with a grave, and, as I think, manly dignity of hearing; 'I offered you the honest and ardent, though worthless gift of a heart, whose best affections you entirely possessed. I am not enough to suppose that I can at pleasure storm the affections of any woman; but I am man enough to expect that they should he denied me with some reference to the delicate respect due to mine. But you are, of course, at full liberty to choose your own mode of rejecting your suitors; only, as one who still views you as a friend, I would that that manner shewed more of good womanly feeling, and less of conscious female power. I am aware, Margaret, that this is not the general language of lovers; perhaps if it were, woman might hold her power more gracefully, and even Margaret Cameron's heart would have more of greatness and generosity than it now possesses.' While I spoke, Margaret turned away her lovely face, and I saw that her very neck was suffused. I took her hand, assured her that the journey I had announced was no lover's ruse, and that I was really on the point of quitting my native land.—'And now, Margaret,' I said, 'farewell—you will scarce find in life a more devoted friend—a more ardent desirer of your happiness, than him you have driven from your side.' I stretched out my hand to Margaret for a friendly farewell clasp. But she held not out her's in return; she spoke not a word of adieu. I turned an indignant countenance towards her, and, to my unutterable surprise, my beautiful young friend in a swoon. And was this the I had accused of want of feeling! We left the garden solemnly plighted to each other. But I pass briefly over this portion of my history. I was condemned by the will of Captain Cameron, and by the necessity of obtaining some professional promotion, to spend a few years in India before I could receive the hand of Margaret.. I found her alone in the garden, in watering her flowers. 'I am come, Margaret,' I said, 'to bid you farewell.'—'Why, where are you going?'—'To London, to sea, to India.'—'Nonsense!'—'You always think there is nonsense in truth; every thing that is serious to is a jest to you'—'Complementary this morning.'—'Adieu, Margaret; may you retain through life the same heartlessness of disposition. It will preserve you from many a pang that might reach a more sensitive bosom.'—'You do my strength of mind infinite honour. Every girl
I looked for European letters—took up one day by an English paper, and there read—'Died, at the house of Captain Cameron, in the village of A———, Miss Margaret Cameron, aged eighteen.' I will not here dwell on my feelings. I wrote a letter of despair to Captain Cameron, informing him of the paragraph I had read, imploring him, for the love of mercy, if possible, to it, and that my future path in life now lay stretched before me like one wild waste. The Countess of Falcondale answered my epistle by a deep, -margined letter, with a sable seal as large as a . My sole parent was no more;—for Captain Cameron—he had been seized by a paralytic affection in consequence of the shock his feelings had sustained.my Asiatic destination—long and anxiously
Theof my name about five years afterwards, among the 'Marriages' in the Gazette, was followed by successive announcements among the 'Births and Deaths,' in the same compendious record of life's changes. My wife perished of a malignant fever, and two infant speedily followed her. I set out to return over-land to my native , a sober, steady, and partially grey-haired colonel of thirty-six. My military had been as brilliant as my path had been clouded. I arrived at a port of the Levant, and thence took ship for Malta, where I landed in safety.
At this period, the Mediterranean traders were kept in a state of perpetual alarm by the celebrated 'Demon Ship.' Though distinguished by the same attractive title, she in nowise resembled the phantom terror of the African Cape. She was described as a powerful vessel, manned by a desperate flesh-and-blood , whose triumphed over all fear of danger, and whose forbade all hope of mercy. Yet, though she was neither 'built' of air, nor 'manned' by demons, her feats had been so wonderful, that there was at length no other rational mode of for them than by tracing them to supernatural, and, consequently, , . She had sailed through fleets ; she had escaped from the fastest pursuers; she had overtaken the swiftest fugitives; she had appeared where she was not , and disappeared when even her very latitude and longitude seemed . Her fearful title had been first given by those who dreaded to her ; but she seemed not ill pleased by the appalling epithet, and shortly shewed the word DEMON in flaming letters on her stern. Some mariners went so far as to say that a smell of brimstone, and a track of phosphoric light, marked for miles the pathway of her keel in the waves. Others that she had the power, through her evil agents, of raising a strange, dense, and portentous mist in the atmosphere, as prevented her victims from descrying her approach until they fell, as it were, into her very jaws. Innumerable were the vessels that had left different ports in the to disappear forvever. It the cruel practice of the Demon to sink her victims in their own vessels.
The Demon Ship was talked of fromports of the to Gibraltar; and no vessel held herself in secure waters until she had passed the Straits. Of course, such a pest to these seas was not to be quietly ; so several began to think of preparing to put her down. To the surprise, however, of all, she seemed suddenly to disappear from the Mediterranean. Some said that her crew, having sold themselves to the father of all evil for a certain length of time, and the period having probably expired, the desperadoes were now gone to their own place, and the seas would consequently clear again. Others that the Demon Ship had only retired for some deep purpose, and would shortly reappear with more fearful power.
Most of the trading convenience to the whimsies of twenty-five; so I stood to my bargain, determined to keep myself as much as possible from the knowledge of my old tormentor. Conscious of my altered personal appearance, I resolved to travel charmingly incog., and assumed name and title of Captain Lyon, which had been familiar to me in my childhood, as belonging to a friend of Captain Cameron.then about to quit the port of Valetta, had obtained convoy from a British frigate and sloop of war, bound to Gibraltar, and thence to England. So eager were all passengers to sail under such protection, that I had some difficulty in a berth in any of the holes and corners of the various fine fast-sailing copper-bottomed brigs, whose cards offered such excellent accommodations for passengers.' At length, I went on board the ' Downs,' a large three-masted British vessel, whose size made the surrounding dwindle into insignificance, and whose fresh-painted sides seemed to foreshew the cleanliness and comfort that would found within. One little hen-pen of a cabin on deck alone remained at captain's disposal. However, I was fond of a on deck, and paid half my -money to the civil little captain, who testified much regret that he could not offer me the 'freedom of the quarter-deck,' as the whole stern end of the had been taken by an English lady of quality, who for privacy. He added that she was a dowager countess. 'I dowager countesses,' said I, irreverently; 'what is the name of your passenger?'—'Passenger!'—' —countess—what is title of your countess?'—'The Countess of Falcondale.'—'What!' thought I; cannot I even come as near to my former home as Malta, without again finding myself under her influence? My dear fellow, give me my -money, or accept it as a present at my hands, for I sail not with you,' said I. But a man at thirty-six will hardly sacrifice his personal
It was the month of June, and the weather was oppressively hot. There was so little wind stirring after we set sail, that for several days we made scarcely any way under all the sail we could carry. The first night I stretched my limbs on a long seat which joined the steps of the quarter-deck. I was now then really on my way to my native shores, and should not step from the vessel in which I sailed until I trode on my ear, in the words of a ballad I had once loved to sing with her—land of my fathers! Naturally enough, my thoughts turned to days and old faces. From time to time, there thoughts half sunk into dreams, from which I repeatedly awoke, and as often dozed off again. At length, my memory, and consequently my dreams, took the of Margaret Cameron. The joyous laugh of youth seemed to ring in my ears; and when I closed my eyes, her lovely bright countenance instantly rose them. Yet I had the conviction of a dreamer that she was dead, and as my slumber deepened, I seemed busied in a pilgrimage to her early grave. I saw the church-yard of A———, with the yellow sunlight streaming on many a green hillock; and there was one solitary grass grave, that, as if by a strange spell, drew my steps, and on an humble head-stone I read the name of 'Margaret Cameron, aged 18.' To my unspeakable emotion I heard, beneath the sods, a sound of sweet and soothing, but melancholy music. While I listened with an attention that apparently deprived my senses of their power, the -yard and grave disappeared, and I seemed, by one of those transitions to which the dreamer is so subject, to be sailing on a lone and dismal sea, whose leaden and melancholy waves reflected no sail save that of the which me. The heat became stifling, and my bosom oppressed, yet the music still sounded, low, sweet, and foreboding in my ear. A soft and whitish mist seemed to brood over the stern of ship. According to the apparently established laws of spiritual matter, the mist condensed, then gradually assumed form, and I gazed, with outstretched arms, on the figure of Margaret Cameron. She seemed in my vision as one who, in quitting earth, had left not only its passions but its affections behind her; and there was forbidding in the wan indifference of that eye. Yet was her voice passing sweet, as still its sad cadences fell
'The green sod is no grave of mine,
The earth is not my pillow,
The grave I lie in shall be thine,
Our winding sheet—the billow.'
I awoke,—yet for a moment appeared still dreaming; for there, hovering over the foot of my couch, I seemed still to behold the form of Margaret Cameron. She was leaning on the rail of the quarter-deck, and overlooking my couch. I sat up, and gazed on the objects around me, in order to recover my apparently deluded senses. The full moon was in her zenith. The heat was intense, the calm profound. There lay the different vessels of our little squadron, nought seen save their white sails in the moonlight, and nought heard save their powerless flapping, and the restless plashing of the becalmed waves, only agitated by the effort of our vessel to cleave them. Still the moonlight fell on the white form and pale countenance of Margaret. I started up. 'This is some delusion,' said I, 'or because one of the countess's women resembles my early idol, must I turn believer in ghost stories, and adopt at thirty-six what I scouted at sixteen?' The suddenness of my rising seemed to scare my fair phantom and, in the hastiness of her retreat, she gave ample proof of mortal fallibility by stumbling over some coils of cable that happened to lie in her way. The shock brought her to her knees. I was up the steps in one instant; seized an arm and then a hand, soft, delicate, and indubitably of flesh and blood, and restored the lady to her feet. She thanked me in gentle tones that sent a thrill through all my veins, and made me again half deem that 'the voice of the dead was on mine ear.' I now expressed my fears that my sudden gestures had been the Cameron; and, after this self-introduction, may, perhaps, claim the name of my father's former acquaintance.' You may be sure I was in no mood to give it. I rushed to the side of the vessel, and, hanging over it, gasped with an emotion which almost stopped respiration. It is inexpressible what a revulsion this strange made in my feelings. I felt that there had been treachery. I became keenly sensible that I must have appeared a traitor to Margaret, and hurriedly resolved not to declare my name to her until I had in some way cleared my .of this little . 'I fear, she replied, 'my reckless song disturbed your slumbers.' After a few more words had passed between us, I ventured to ask, in a tone as indifferent as I could assume, whether she claimed kindred with Captain Hugh Cameron, of A———? The striking likeness which she bore to his amiable and deceased daughter must, I observed, plead my apology. She looked at me for a moment with unutterable surprise; then added, with dignity and perfect self-possession, 'I have then, probably, the of addressing some old acquaintance of Captain Cameron? How the mistake arose which induced any one to suppose that his child was no more, I confess myself at a loss to imagine. I am the daughter of Captain
I was still sufficiently a man of the world to have my feelings in some mastery, and returned to the side of Margaret with an apology for indisposition, which in truth was no subterfuge. I verily believe, as the vessel had given a sudden lurch at the moment she had discovered herself, and my pendant posture over the ship's side might be an attitude of rather dubious construction, she passed on me the forgiveness of a sea-sick man. Margaret added, that she presumed she had the pleasure of addressing her fellow-passenger, Captain Lyon? She had often, she observed, heard her father mention his name, though not aware until this moment of his identity with her brother-voyager. I was not displeased by this illusion, though I thus found myself identified with a man twenty years my senior. I remarked, with an effort at ease, that I had certainly once possessed the advantage of Captain Cameron's acquaintance, but that a lapse of many years had separated me from him and his family. 'There was, however,' I remarked, 'a Captain, since made Colonel, Francillon, in India, who had been informed, or rather, happily for her friends, misinformed, of the death of Miss Cameron.' Margaret smiled incredulously; but with a dignified indifference, which created a strange feeling within me, seemed willing to let the subject pass. Margaret's spirits seemed to have lost their buoyancy, and her cheek the bloom of youth. But there was an elegance, a sort of melancholy dignity in her manner, and a touching expression on her countenance, to which both before had been strangers. Observing her smile, and perceiving that, with another graceful acknowledgment of my assistance, she was about to withdraw, I grew desperate, and ventured, with some abruptness, to demand if she had herself known Colonel Francillon? She answered, with a self-possession which chilled me, that she had Colonel Francillon.'—'He is fortunate in possessing so warm a friend,' said Margaret, with careless politeness; but I thought I perceived, through this nonchalance, a slight tone of pique, which was less mortifying than her indifference. 'I know not,' said I, 'any thing which causes such a sudden and enchantment-like reversion of the mind to past scenes and feelings, as an unexpected rencontre with those who were associated with us in the earliest and freshest days of our being.'—'Nothing certainly,' answered Margaret,' reminds us so forcibly of the change that has taken place in our being and our feelings.'—'True,' replied I; yet for the moment the change itself seems annihilated; our hearts beat with the same pulse that before animated them, and time seems to have warred on their feelings in vain.'—'Perhaps to have taught a lesson in vain,' said my companion. I added, rather diffidently, 'and what lesson should time teach us?'—'It should teach us,' she answered, that our heart's best and warmest feelings may be wasted on that which may disappoint, and cannot satisfy them.'—' I read your lesson with delight,' answered I; 'the only danger is lest we mistake the coolings of time for the conquests of principle.' She seemed pleased by the sentiment, and by the frankness of the caution. 'It may be,' she said, 'in the power of Time and Disappointment to detach from the world, or at least to produce a barren acknowledgment of its unsatisfactoriness, but it is beyond their unassisted power to attach the soul with a steady and practical love to the only legitimate, the only rational source of happiness. Here is the touch-stone which the self-deceiver cannot stand.' I was silent. There was a delicious feeling in my bosom that is quite indescribable.—'These,' I said, 'are the sentiments of Colonel Francillon; and since we have been on the subject of old friends, I could almost make up my mind to give you his history. It really half resembles a romance. At least, it shews how often, in real life, —I had almost said adventures—arise, which in fiction we should deride as an insult to our taste, by the violence done to all probability. Come, shall I give you the history of your former acquaintance?'—'Give me the history!' said Margaret, involuntarily, and with some emotion—it seemed the emotion of indignation.—'Ay, why not? I mean, of , his Indian history; for of that in England, perhaps, as your families were acquainted, you may know as much as I can.'in her youth been acquainted with a Lieutenant Francillon, who had since been promoted in India, and probably was officer of whom I spoke. 'Perhaps,' observed I, ' is not a man alive for whom I feel a greater interest than for
I confess my heart began to beat quick and high, as, taking advantage of Margaret's silence, I began to tell my own history.—Francillon had, I observed, arrived in India, animated in his endeavours to obtain fortune and preferment by one of the dearest and purest motives which can incite the bosom. Here Margaret turned round with a something of dignified displeasure, which seemed to reprobate this little delicate allusion to her past history. I proceeded as though I marked not her emotion.—Francillon was under an engagement to a young and lovely compatriot, whose image was the idol of his bosom, but whose name, from natural and sacred feelings, had never passed his lip to human being. Here I thought Margaret seemed to breathe again. So I told my history simply and feelingly, and painted my grief on hearing of the death of Margaret with such depth of colouring, that I had well nigh identified the narrator with the subject of his biography. She said, in a peculiar tone, with which an assumed carelessness in vain struggled, 'It is singular that a married man should have thus grieved over the object of an unextinguished attachment.'—'Captain Francillon,' I observed, 'was not married until five years after the period we speak of,—when he gave his hand to one of whom I trust he has too much manly feeling ever to speak save with the tender respect she merited, but to whom candidly confessed that he brought but a blighted heart, the better half of whose affections lay buried in the grave of her who had first inspired them.'
I continued my history—brought myself to Malta, and placed myself on board an English vessel. Here, I confess, my courage half-failed me; but I went on.—'Francillon,' I said, 'now began to realize his return to his native land. On the first night of his voyage, he threw himself, in meditative mood, on the deck, and half in Margaret sprang to her feet with astonishment and emotion. 'Is it possible!—have I then the pleasure to see—I am sure—I am most fortunate—' again and again began Margaret, and gave way to an honest flood of tears. I felt that I had placed her in an embarrassing situation. Seating myself, therefore, by her, and taking her hand,—'Margaret,' I said, 'I fear I have been somewhat abrupt with you. Forgive me if I have been too bold in thus on you the history of one for whom I have little reason and less right to suppose you still interested. Bury in oblivion some passages in it, and forgive the biographer if he have expanded a little too freely on feelings which may be to your ear.' I stretched out my hand as I spoke, and we warmly shook hands, as two old friends in the first moment of meeting., half in dreams, recalled former scenes. But there was one form which constantly arose before his imagination. He dreamed, too, of —I know not what—of a pilgrimage to lone grave of her he had loved and lost; and a change came upon his slumbering fancy, and he seemed to be ploughing some solitary and dismal sea; but even there a form appeared to him, whose voice thrilled on his ear, and whose eye, though it had waxed cold to him, made his heart heave with strange and unwonted emotion. He awoke—but oh!—the vision vanished not. Still in the moonlight he saw her who risen on his dreams. Francillon started up. The figure he gazed on hastily retreated. He followed her in time to raise her from the fall her precipitate flight had occasioned, and discovered that she whom he beheld was indeed the object of his heart's earliest and best feelings—was Margaret Cameron!' I believe my respiration almost failed me as thus ended.
I had been longing to know somewhat of Margaret's own history—-wherefore she had visited Malta, &c.; butseemed to have no intention of gratifying my , and I only too feelingly divined that her parent's altered circumstances had sent her out the humble companion of the Countess of Falcondale 'I am aware,' I said, smiling, 'that I have more than one old acquaintance in this vessel; and, in truth, when I heard that my former friend—I had nearly said enemy—the Countess of Falcondale, was on board, I felt half-inclined to relinquish the voyage.' Margaret hesitated—then said, half-smiling, half-sad, 'I cannot autobiographise as my friend has done. But—but—perhaps you heard of unhappy state of my dear parent's affairs and his daughter was prevailed on to take a step—perhaps a false one. Well, well, I cannot tell my history. be with the dead!—every filial, every conjugal feeling consecrate their ashes!—but make yourself easy; my mother-in-law is not here. You will find but one dowager-countess in this vessel, and she now shakes your hand, and bids you a good night.' Margaret hastily disappeared as she spoke, and left me in state—but I will teaze no one with my half-dream like feelings on that night.
Well, I failed not to visit my noble fellow-passenger on the morrow; and day after day, while we lay on those becalmed waves, I renewed my intercourse with Margaret. It can easily be divined that she had given her hand to save a parent, and that she had come abroad with a husband, who, dying, had there left her a widow, and, alas for me! a rich widow. If limits would allow, I could tell a long tale of well-managed treachery and deception; how the ill-natured own Margaret; how, in her character of supreme manager of the paralytic officer's affairs, she kept my letters; how she worked on Margaret's feelings to bring about a marriage with the Earl of Falcondale, in the hope of again acquiring a maternal footing in her son's house, and the right of managing a portionless daughter-in-law; how Margaret held out stoutly until informed of my broken faith; and how her marriage was kept from the public papers. One night, I thought, as I bade the countess good night, that I perceived a light breeze arising. This I remarked to her, and she received the observation with a pleasure which found no correspondent emotion in my own bosom. As I descended to my berth, I fancied I among the sailors one Girod Jacqueminot, whose face I had not before remarked. He was a Frenchman, to whom I had, during my residence abroad, rendered some signal services, and who, though but a wild fellow, had sworn to me eternal gratitude. He skulked, however, behind his fellows, and did not now, it appeared, choose to his benefactor.suffered me to remain in the belief that the death of Captain Cameron's niece, which occurred at A———, was that of my
I believe I slept profoundly that night. When I awoke, there was a sound of dashing waves against the vessel, and a bustle of sailors' voices, and a blustering noise of wind among the sails and rigging; and I soon perceived that our ship was scudding before a stiff, nay, almost stormy gale. I peeped through the seaward opening of my little cabin. The scene was strangely changed. It was scarcely dawn. I looked for the white sails of our accompanying vessels, and our convoy. All had disappeared. We seemed alone on those leaden-coloured billows. At this moment, I heard a voice in broken English say, 'Confound—while I reef tose tammed top-sails, my pipe go out.'—'Light it again, then, at the binnacle, Monseer,' said a sailor.—' Yes, and be hanged to de yard-arm by our coot captain for firing de sheep. Comment faire? Sacrebleu! I cannot even tink vidout my pipe. De tought! Monsieur in de leetle coop dere have always de lamp patent burning for hees lecture. obeying the signal; and if you get out of sight of that one distant sail, you are lost.'—'Think you, then, that the Demon Ship is in these seas?' said I, anxiously. Girod came close to me. With a countenance of remorse and despair which I can never forget, he grasped my arm, and held it towards heaven,—'Look up to God!' he whispered; 'you are on board the Demon Ship!' A step was heard near the cabin, and Girod was darting from it; but I held him by the sleeve. 'For heaven's sake, for miladi's sake, for your own sake,' he whispered, 'let not a look, a word, shew that you are acquainted with this . All I can do is to try and gain time for you. But be prudent, or you are lost!' and quitted the cabin as he spoke. When I thought how long, and how fearlessly, the 'Elizabeth' had lain amid the trading-vessels at Valetta, and how she had sailed from that port under a powerful convoy, I was almost tempted to believe that Girod had been practising a joke on me. 'What have you been doing there?' said a voice I had never heard before, and whose ruffianly tones could hardly be subdued by his efforts at a whisper. 'My pipe go out,' answered Girod Jacqueminot, 'and I not so imprudent to light it at de beenacle. So I go just hold it over de lamp of Monsieur, and he , sleep, snore, snore all de while, and know noting. I have never seed one man dorme so profound.'sleep now. I go enter gently—light my pipe.' He crept into my cabin as he spoke. 'How's this, my friend?' said I, speaking in French; 'does not your captain know that we are out of sight of convoy?' Girod answered in his native language,—'Oh! that I had seen you sooner. You think, perhaps, I have forgotten all I owe you? No—no—but 'tis too late now!' He pointed to the horizon. On its very verge one sail was yet visible. A faint rolling noise came over the water. 'It is the British frigate,' said Girod, 'firing to us to put our ship about, and keep under convoy. But our captain has no intention of
I now heard the voices of the captain, Girod, and the ruffian, in observed Jacqueminot; 'but were it not wise to see dat sail no more, before we shew dat we no vile merchanters, but men of de trade dat make de money by de valour.'—'There is something in that,' observed Jack; 'if the convoy come up, and our passengers be missing, 'tis over with us.' 'And de coot sacks wasted for noting,' said Jacqueminot, with a cool ingenuity that contrasted curiously with his vehement and horror-stricken manner in my cabin. 'Better to wait one day—two day parbleu! tree day—than spoil our sport by de precipitation.'—'I grudge the keep of these dainty passengers all this while,' said the captain, roughly; 'my lady there, with her chickens, and her conserves, and her pasties; and Mr Molly-flower Captain here, with his bottles of port and claret, and cups of chocolate and Mocha coffee. Paying, too, forsooth! with such princely airs for every thing, as if we held not his money in our own lands already. Hunted as we then were, 'twas no bad way of blinding governments, by passing for traders, and getting monied passengers on board; but it behoves us to think what's to be done now?'—'My opinion is,' said Jack, 'that we keep up the farce another day or two until we get into clear seas again. That vessel, yonder, still keeps on the horizon, and she has good glasses on board.'—'And the men?' asked the . 'I had rather, without more debate, go into this hen-pen here, and down into cabin below, and in a quiet way do for our passengers, than stand the chance of a mutiny among the crew.' Here my very blood curdled in my veins. 'Dat is goot, and like mine brave capitain,' said the Frenchman; 'and yet Monsieur Jean say well mosh danger kill at present; but why not have de crew above deck vidout making no attention to de voyagers. Dey take not no notice. Miladi tink but of moon, and stars, and book; and for do sleeping Lyon dere, it were almost pity to cut his troat in any case. He ver coot faillow; like we chosen speerit. Sacre-bleu! I knew him a boy!—[I had never seen the follow until I was on the wrong side of my thirtieth birth-day.]—'Alvays for de mischief,—stealing apples, his school-fellows, and oder little speerited tricks. At last, he was expell de school. I say not dis praise from no love to him; for he me one, two time, when I vas secretaire to his uncle; and den run off vid my soodheart—So I ⟨⟩ well pleased make him bad turn.'—'Look, look!' said Jack, 'the frigate gains on us; I partly see her hull, and the wind slackens.' I now put my own glass through my window, and could distinctly see the sails and rigging and part of the hull of our late convoy. I could perceive that many of her crew were aloft. It was a comfortable sight to see a friendly power apparently so near; and there was a feeling of hopeless desolation when, on removing the glass, the vessel shrank into a dim, grey speck on the horizon. The captain uttered an infernal oath, and called aloud to his sailors, 'Seamen—ahoy—ahoy! Make all the sail ye can. out the main-sheet—top-sails unreefed—royals and sky-sails up,' [&e. &e.] 'Stretch every stitch of canvass. Keep her to the wind—keep her to the wind!' I was surprised to find that our course was suddenly , as the vessel, which had previously driven before the breeze, was now evidently sailing with a side wind.and earnest parlance. The expletives that graced it shall be omitted. But what first confirmed my fears, was the hearing our captain obsequiously address the ruffian-speaker as commander of the , while the former received from his companion the familiar appellative of Jack. They walking the deck, and their whispered speech only reached me as they from time to time approached my cabin, and was again lost as they receded. I thought, however, that Girod seemed, by stopping occasionally, as if in the vehemence of speech, to draw them, as much as possible, towards my cabin. I then listened with an intentness which made me almost fear to . 'But again I say, Jack,' said the voice of real captain,' what are we to do with these fine passengers of ours? I am sick of this stage-play work; and the men are tired, by this time, of being kept down in the hold. We shall have them mutiny if we stifle them much longer below. Look how that sail is sinking on the horizon. She can never come up with us now. There be eight good sacks in the forecastle, and we can spare them due ballast. That would do the job decently enough for our passengers—ha!' 'Oh! mine goot captain, you are man of spearet,'
The Demon Ship was made for fast sailing, and she literally flew like a falcon over the waves. Once more I turned to the horizon. God of mercy! the frigate again began to sink upon the waters.
I felt that in a few hours I might not only be butchered inblood myself, but might see Margaret—that was the thought that unmanned me. I tried to think if aught lay in our power to avert our fate. Nothing offered itself. We entirely in the power of the Demon . And I saw that all Girod do was to gain a few hours' delay. My earnest desire now was to inform Margaret as quickly as possible of fate. But after Girod's parting injunction, I feared to precipitate the last fatal measures by any step that might taken with reference to them. I therefore lay still until morning was farther advanced. I then arose, and left my cabin. It was yet scarcely broad day, but many a face I had not seen my eye, many a countenance, whose untameable expression of ferocity had doubtless been , even by ruffian himself, good reason for hitherto keeping them from observation. All on the quarter-deck was quiet, and it seemed that the and her female attendants were still enjoying a calm and secure repose. I longed to descend and arouse them from a sleep which was so soon to be followed by a deeper slumber.
I had now an opportunity of discovering the real nature of my sentiments towards Margaret. They stood the test which overthrows many a summer-day attachment. I felt that, standing as my soul now was on the verge of its everlasting fate, it lost not one of its feelings of tenderness. The sun arose, and the countess appeared on deck. I drew her to the stern of the astonishment. She soon, however, gained comparative self-possession. 'I must be alone for a few moments,' she said; 'perhaps you will join me below in a brief hour.' When I joined her at the time she had appointed, a heavenly calm had stolen over her . 'Come and sit by me, my friend; our moments seem numbered on earth, but, oh! what an interminable existence beyond it. In a moment as this, how do we feel the necessity of some better stay than aught our own unprofitable lives can yield!' Margaret's Bible lay before her. It was open at history of His sufferings on whom her soul relied. She summoned her maidens, and we all read and prayed together. Her were two sisters, of less exalted mind than their mistress, but whose piety, trembling and lowly, was equally genuine., so that her back was to the crew, and there divulged the fearful secret which so awfully her. At first, her was pale, her lips bloodless, and respiration seemed almost lost in terror and overpowering
It was a difficult day to pass, urged by prudence, and the slender remains of hope, to appear with our wonted bearing before the crew. Too plain every sound that seemed to approach the . The must undoubtedly be our grave; but whether the wave, the , the pistol, or the dagger, would be the instrument of our destruction, we knew not.that our sentence was at length gone forth soon began to shew themselves. Margaret held me to her with a gentle and trembling tenacity, that rendered it difficult for me to leave her even for a moment; but I felt the duty of ascertaining whether any aid yet appeared in view, or whether Girod could aught for us. I walked, towards evening, round the quarter-deck—not a sail was to be seen on the horizon. I endeavoured to speak to Girod, but he seemed studiously and fearfully to avoid me. The captain was above, and the deck was thronged. I believe this desperate crew was composed of 'all people, nations, and languages.' Once only I met Girod's eye as he passed me quickly in assisting to hoist a sail. He looked me fixedly and significantly in the face. It was enough: that expressive regard said, 'Your sentence has gone forth!' I instantly to the cabin, and my fellow-victims read in my the extinction of hope. We now fastened the door, I primed my pistols, and them in my bosom, and clinging to one another we waited our fate. Margaret put her hand in mine with a gentle , which our then warranted, and I held her close to me. She stretched out her other hand to her female attendants, who, clinging together, each held a hand of their mistress. 'Dear Edward!' said Margaret, grasping my arm. It was almost twelve years since I had heard these words from her lips. Unrestrained, at a moment, by the presence of the domestics, Margaret and I used the most endearing expressions, and, like a dying husband and wife, bade solemn farewell to each other. We all then remained silent, our quick beating hearts raised in prayer, and our ear open to
The sun sunk in the waters, and the wind, as is often the case at sunset, died on the ocean. At this moment, I heard the voice of the captain—'Up to the top of the mainmast, quarrel against that captain down at the bottom of the sea there, so he asks our commander not to let any body lay hands on him but himself. A very natural thing to ask. There—close that locker, heave out the long table, there'll be old revel here to-night.' At this moment, Girod again descended. 'All hands aloft, ma lads,' he cried, 'make no attention to de carpet dere—matters not, for I most fairst descend, and give out de farine for pasty. We have no more voyagers, so may make revel here to naight vidout no incommode.' He soon descended with a light into our wooden dungeon., and see if there be any sail on the horizon.' We distinguished the sound of feet running up the shrouds. A few moments elapsed ere the answer was . At length, we heard a—'Well, Jack, well?'— was followed by the springing of a man on , and the words, 'not a sail within fifty miles, I'll be sworn.'—'Well, then, do the work below!' was the reply. 'But (with an oath) don't let's have any squealing or squalling. Finish them quietly. And take all the trumpery out of the cabin, for we shall hold revel there to-night.' A step now softly down the stair, and a hand tried the door, but found it fastened. I quitted Margaret, and placed myself at the of the cabin. 'Whoever,' said I, 'attempts to come into this place, does it at the peril of his life. I fire the instant the is raised.'—A voice said, 'Laissez moi entrer done.' I then unfastened the door. Girod entered, and locked it after him. He dragged in with him four strings, with heavy stones appended to them, and the same number of sacks. The females sunk on the floor. In the twinkling of an eye, Girod rolled up the carpet of the cabin, and took up the trap-door, which every traveller knows is to be found in the cabins of 'In—in,' he said in French to the and myself. I immediately , Margaret into my arms, and was holding them out for the other females, when the trapdoor was instantly and bolted, the carpet laid down, the cabin door , and Girod called out, 'Here you, Harry, , how you yourselves, done for two of dem. I manage no more. Dat tamned Captain Lyon, when I stuff him in de sack, he almost brake de arm.' Heavy feet trampling over the floor, with a sound of scuffling and struggling, were now heard over our head. A stifled shriek died into a deep groan, succeeded—then two heavy splashes into the water, with the bubbling noise of something sinking beneath the waves, and the fate of the two sisters was . 'Where's Monsieur Girod?' at length said a rough voice.—'Oh, he's gone above,' was the reply; 'thinks himself too good to kill any but quality.'—No, no, answered the other, 'I'm Girod's, through to the -bone—the funniest fellow of the . But he had a private
'Poor Katie, poor Mary. Alas! for their aged mother!' she said, while looking with horror at Girod.—'I would have saved you all, had it been possible,' said Jacqueminot, in French. 'But how were all to be hid, and kept in this place? What I have done is at the risk of my life. But there is not a moment to be lost. I have the keeping of the stern-hold. Look you—here be two rows of meal sacks fore and aft. If you, miladi, can hide behind one, and you, colonel, behind the other, ye may have, in some sort, two little chambers to yourselves; or if you prefer the same hiding-place, take it, in heaven's name, but lose not a moment.'—'And what will be the end of all this?' asked I, after some hurried expressions' of gratitude.—'God knoweth,' he replied. 'I will from time to time, when I descend to give out meal, and clean the place, bring you provisions. How long this can last—where we are going—and whether in the end I can rescue you, time must be the shewer. Hide, hide—I dare not stay one moment longer.' He rolled down a heap of biscuits, placed a pitcher of water by them, and departed.
That night the Demon crew held their wild revelry over our broke up. I listened attentively until I became convinced that no one occupied the cabin that night.. Their fierce and iniquitous speech, their lawless songs, their awful and demoniac oaths, their wild intoxication, made Margaret thrill with a horror that half excited the wish to escape in death from the polluting vicinity of such infernal abominations. The light streamed here and there through a crevice in the trap-door, and I involuntarily trembled when I saw it fall on the white garment of Margaret, as if, even in that concealment, it might betray her. We dared scarcely whisper a word of encouragement or consolation to each other—dared scarcely breathe, or stir even a hand from the comfortless attitude in which we were placed. The captain expressed his regret that we had not, as matters turned out, been earlier disposed of, and made a sort of rough apology to his shipmates for the inconvenience our prolonged existence must have occasioned them. At length, the revellers
Towards morning, as I supposed, I again distinguished voices in the cabin. 'It blows a stiff gale,' was the observation of Jack.—'So much the better,' replied the captain; 'the more way we make, the farther we get from all it, and, as his hold on Margaret slackened, I contrived to pass towards his hand a portion of the old flag-cloth, so as to impress him with the belief that it was the original object of his grasp. He dragged it forward, and let it go. But he had disturbed the compact adjustment of the sacks; and as the vessel was now rolling violently in a tempestuous sea, a terrible lurch laid prostrate our treacherous wall of defence, and we stood full exposed, without a barrier between ourselves and the ruffian commander of Demon. He had gone to the light to pass his casket through the trap-door. The sun was rising, and the crimson hues of dawn meeting no other in the hold save the depraved and hardened countenance of our keeper, threw on its swart complexion such a ruddy glow, as—contrasted with the surrounding darkness—gave him the appearance of some foul demon emerging from the abodes of the condemned, and bearing on his unhallowed countenance the reflection of the infernal fires he had quitted. That glow was, however, our salvation. The captain turned with an oath to the fallen sacks, and we half-doubtful, as he pushed them with violence against the beams where we stood, whether he had not actually discovered our persons, and taken this method of at once destroying them by bruises and suffocation. His work was, however, only accompanied by an running comment on Girod's careless manner of stowage. We were now again buried in our concealment; but another danger awaited us. Jacqueminot descended to the cabin. An involuntary though half-stifled shriek him when he saw the trap-door open. He sprang into the hold, and when he beheld the captain, his ghastly smile of enquiry, for he spoke not, demanded if his ruin were sealed. 'I have been seeing all your pretty work here, Monsieur,' said the gruff captain, pointing to the deranged sacks, behind which we were . I caught a glimpse through them of Girod's despairing . It was a fearful moment, for it as if we were about to be involuntarily betrayed by our ally, at the very instant when we had escaped our enemy. Girod's teeth literally chattered, and murmered something about French gallantry and honour; and the countess being a lady, and the Captain Francillon an old acquaintance. 'And so because you cut the throats of a couple of solan geese, you think he must not even see to the righting of his own stern-hold?' said the captain, with a gruff and abortive effort at pleasantry, for he felt Girod's importance in amusing and keeping in good-humour his motley crew. Jacqueminot's answer shewed that he was now au fait; and thus we had a fourth rescue from the very jaws of death.cursed government vessels. I think we might now venture to fall on any merchantman that comes in our way. We must soon do , for we have as yet made but a sorry sum out of our present voyage. Let's see—four thousand sterling pounds that belonged to the captain there—rather to us—seeing we had taken him on board.'—'Yes, yes, we have sacked the captain,' observed Jack, facetiously. His companion went on—'His watch, rings, and clothes; and two thousand dollars of the countess's, and her jewels. This might be a fine prize to a sixteen-gun brig of some dozing government, but the Demon was built for greater things.'—'I suppose, captain,' said Jack,' we go on our usual plan, eh? The specie to be distributed among the ship's company, and the jewels and personals to be appropriated, in a quiet way, by the officers? I hope there be no breach of discipline, Captain Vanderleer, in asking where might be deposited that secret casket, containing, you and I and one or two more know what? I mean that we took from the Spanish-American brig.'—'It is in the stern-hold, beneath our feet at this moment,' answered the captain.—'A good one for dividing its contents, said Jack. 'I'll fetch a light in the twinkling of an eye.'—'No need,' replied the captain. 'I warrant me I can lay my hand on it in the dark.' Without the warning of another moment the Demon commander was in our hold. I suppose it was about four in the morning. I had laid Margaret down on some old signal flags, in that division of the hold which Girod had assigned her, and had myself retired behind my own bulwark of meal-sacks, in order that my companion might possess, for her repose, something like the freedom of a small cabin to herself. I had scarcely time to glide round to the side of Margaret ere the merciless buccaneer descended. We almost inserted ourselves into the wooden walls of our hiding-place, and literally drew down the sacks upon us. The captain felt about the apartment with his hand, sometimes pushing it behind the sacks, and sometimes feeling under them. And now he passed his arms through those which aided our concealment. Gracious heaven! his hand discovered the countess's garments; he grasped them tight; he began to drag her forward; but at this moment his foot struck against the casket for which he was searching. He stooped to seize
Day after day passed away, and still we were the miserable, half-starved, half-suffocated, though unknown prisoners of this Demon gang. Girod at this period rarely dared to visit us. He came only when the business of the ship actually sent him. The cabin above was occupied at night by the captain and some of his most depraved associates, so that small alleviation of our fears was afforded us either by day or by night. At length, I began to fear that Margaret would sink under the confined air, and the constant excitement. It was agony indeed to feel her convulsed frame, and hear her faintly-drawn and dying breath, and know that I could not carry her into the reviving breezes of heaven, nor afford a single alleviation of her suffering, without at snapping that thread of life which was now wearing away by a slow and lingering death. At length, her respiration began to partake of the loud and irrepressible character which is so often the precursor of dissolution. She deemed her hour drawing on, yet feebly essayed, for my sake, to stifle those last faint moans of expiring nature which might betray our . I supported her head, poured a faltering prayer into her dying ear, wiped the death-dews from her face, and essayed to whisper expressions of deep and unutterable affection. At this moment, Girod to the hold. He put his finger on his lips significantly, and then whispered in French—'Courage—Rescue! There is a sail on our weather bow. She is yet in the offing. Our captain marks her not; but I have watched her some time with a glass, and she appears to be a British sloop of war.' I grasped Margaret's hand. She faintly returned the pressure, but gently murmured, 'Too late.' Ere the lapse of a moment, it was evident that our possible deliverer was discovered by the Demon crew, for we could hear by the bustle of feet and that the ship was being put about; and the ferocious and determined voice of the chief was heard, giving prompt and fierce orders to urge on the Demon. Girod promised to bring us more news, and quitted us. The rush of air into the hold seemed to have revived Margaret, and my hopes began to rise. Yet it was too soon evident that the motion of the vessel was increased, and that the crew were straining every nerve to avoid our hoped-for deliverer. After a while, however, the stormy wind abated; the ship became steadier, and certainly made less way in the waves. A voice over our head said distinctly in French—'The sea is gone down, and the sloop makes signal to us to lay to.' A quarter of an hour elapsed, and the voice again said, 'The sloop us!' Oh! what inexpressibly anxious moments were those. We could discover from the varying cries on deck that the sloop sometimes gained on the Demon, while at others the pirate got fearful head of her pursuer. At length, Girod descended to the hold. 'The die is cast!' he said in his language. 'The sloop gains fast on us. We are about to clear the deck for action.'—'God be praised!' I ejaculated.—'Amen!' responded a faint and gentle voice.—'Do not praise him too soon,' said Girod, shrugging his shoulders; 'our captain is preparing for a victory. The has mastered her equals, ay, and her superiors, and this sloop is our inferior in size and numbers. The captain has hoisted the Demon flag, and restored her name to the stern.'—'But has his motley crew,' whispered I, anxiously, 'ever encountered a British foe of equal strength?'—'I cannot tell; I have been in her but a short time, and will be out of her on the first occasion,' said Girod, as he hastily quitted us. We now heard all the noise of preparation for an engagement. Cannon were lashed and primed; concealed port-holes opened, and guns placed at them. Seeing ultimate escape impossible, the captain took in sail, and to give his vessel the advantage of awaiting the foe in an imposing state of preparation for action. He harangued his men in terms calculated to arouse their brute courage, and excite their . I the captain retire to that part of the vessel which had been the countess's cabin, and there take a solemn and secret oath of his principal shipmates, that they would, if boarded by a successful enemy, scuttle the Demon, and sink her, and her crew, and her captors, in one common grave. It appeared, then, that either the failure or the success of the sloop would alike seal our destruction.
Not a ray of light now penetrated through the chinks of the trap-door, and, from the heavy weights which had fallen over it, I was inclined to think that shot, or even cannon-balls, had been placed over the mouth of our prison. I listened anxiously for a signal of the sloop's nearing us. At length, a ship-trumpet, at a distance, demanded, safe and unhurt, the persons of Colonel Francillon, the Countess of Falcondale, and two female domestics. It was then evident that the pirate's stratagem at Malta had transpired. The Demon's trumpet made brief and audacious reply:—'Go seek them at the bottom of the sea.' A broadside from the sloop answered this impudent injunction, and was followed by a complement in kind from the Demon, evidently discharged from a greater number of guns. Long and desperately raged the combat above us; but the pirates' yells waxed fainter and fainter; while the victorious shouts of the British seamen, mixed with the frequent and fearful cry, 'No quarter, no quarter to the robbers!' each instant louder and more triumphant. At length, every sound of opposition from the crew seemed almost to cease. But there was still so much noise on deck, that I in vain essayed to make my voice heard;—and for the trap-door, it defied all my efforts—it was immovable. At this crisis, the ship, which had hitherto been springing and reeling with the fierce fire she had received from her adversary, and the motion of her own guns, suddenly began to settle into an awful and suspicious quiescence. But the victors were apparently too busy in the work of retribution to heed this strange and portentous change. I perceived, however, only too clearly that the Demon was about finally to settle for sinking. After the lapse of a few seconds, it that the conquerors themselves became at last aware of the treacherous gulf that was preparing to receive them; and a hundred voices exclaimed, 'To the sloop!—to the sloop! The ship is going down—the ruffians are sinking her!' I now literally called out until my voice became a hoarse scream. I struck violently against the top of our sinking dungeon. I pushed the trap-door with my whole . All was in vain.—I heard the sailors rushing eagerly to their own vessel, and abandoning that of the pirates to destruction. I took Margaret's hand, and held it up towards heaven, as if it better than my own plead there for us. All was silent. Not a sound was in the once fiercely manned Demon, save the rushing of the waters in at the holes where she had scuttled by her crew. At last, as if she had received her fill, she began to go down with a rapidity which seemed to send us, in an instant, many feet deeper beneath , and I now expected every moment to hear them gather over the deck, and then overwhelm us for ever. I uttered a prayer, and clasped Margaret in my arms. But no voice, no sigh, proceeded from the companion of my grave.
At this moment, voices furiously over it, and then receding from their still ineffectual attempt to overwhelm the vessel, returned all dyed with crimson to the ocean; while the sun setting in a stormy and angry sky, threw his rays—for the last time—in lurid and fitful gleams on the ruined Demon.heard; weights to be removed from the trap-door! It was opened; and the words, 'Good heaven! the fellow is right; they , sure enough!' met my almost incredulous ear. I a British officer, a sailor or two, and Girod, with his hands tied him. I up my precious burden, who was received into arms of her compatriots, and then, like one in a dream, sprang from my long prison. Perhaps it might be well that Margaret's eye was half-closed in death at that moment; for the deck of the sinking Demon offered no spectacle for woman's eye. I shall never forget the scene of desolation presented by that , lying like a vast plank or raft of slaughtered bodies, almost level with the sea, whose waters dashed
As we hurriedly prepared to spring into the boat, I saw that Girod's pinioned members refused him the prompt aid necessary for effecting an escape at such a moment. I returned, seized a bloody cutlass that lay on deck, and, without leave of the officer, cut at once through the bonds which confined our first deliverer. 'This man,' I said, as we seated ourselves, 'has been the instrument of Heaven for our preservation. I will make myself answerable for his liberty and kind treatment.' Girod seized my hand, which received a passionate Gallic salute. Our sailors now rowed hard to avoid being drawn into the vortex of the sinking ship. Merciful God! we were then out of the Demon! I supported Margaret in my arms; and as I saw her bosom heave, a renewed glow of hope rushed to my heart.
We had not been on board the sloop many minutes, ere, slowly and awfully, the Demon sunk to the same eternal grave to which she had so often doomed her victims. We say the top of the main-mast, which had borne her fatal flag above the waters, tremble like a point on their very surface, and then vanish beneath them. A frightful chasm yawned for a moment—it was then closed by the meeting waters, which soon rolled, peacefully over the vessel they had engulfed; and the Demon, so long the terror of the seas and the scourge of mariners, disappeared for ever.
Should any reader have felt just sufficient interest in the narrative to wonder whether Margaret died, and whether Colonel Francillon attended her funeral as chief-mourner; or whether she recovered, and was married to the Colonel, I can only briefly say, that the sloop put into Naples, where the countess was soon placed under a skilful physician. He pronounced her case hopeless, and my relative had only thesatisfaction of reflecting that her dying hour would be peaceful, and her lovely remains honoured by Christian burial. She passed from the hands of her physician into of the British ambassador's chaplain; but I do not think it could have been for the purpose of religious interment—as I enjoyed, for nearly forty years after this period, the inestimable privilege of calling the colonel and the countess my revered father and mother!