The Annotated "Privateersman"/Chapter XII
Miss Trevannion, my dear Madam, was taller than your sex usually are, her figure slight, and still unformed to a certain degree, but promising perfection. Her hair was very dark, her features regular and handsome, her complexion very pale, and her skin fair as the snow. As she stood in silence, she reminded you of a classical antique statue, and hardly appeared to breathe through her delicate lips; but when she was animated with conversation, it almost reminded you of the Promethean fire which poets state was stolen from Heaven . Then the colour came in her cheeks, intelligence played on her countenance, and everything which at first sight appeared wanting, was, like magic, found to light up her face. Her smiles were the sweetest I ever beheld, and one of those smiles she bestowed upon me as I entered the room and paid her . The night before, I had not observed her much;—I was too busy with her father and Captain Levee, and she sat remote from the table and distant from the light, and she never spoke but when she took my hand and thanked me, as I mentioned before. I thought then that her voice was like a silver bell, but made no other remark upon her. We had, however, exchanged but few words before her father came in, accompanied by Captain Levee, and we sat down to our .
After we had broken our fast, Captain Levee hastened away, on board of his vessel. My imprisonment had detained him from sailing, and Mr. Trevannion was anxious that he should be off as soon as possible to make up for lost time, as the expenses of the vessel were heavy.
“Farewell, Elrington, for the present,” said he; “I shall come to you on board of your schooner some time during the day.” When Captain Levee was gone—for, to tell the truth, I was afraid of his ridicule—I thought it a good opportunity to give my thoughts to my owner, and as I had nothing to say which his daughter might not hear, I began as follows:
“Mr. Trevannion, I think it right to state to you that during my imprisonment a great change has come over my feelings upon certain points. I am not ashamed to acknowledge that it has been occasioned by the death which stared me in the face, and from my having seriously communed with myself, and examined, more than I perhaps have done during the whole of my former life, the sacred writings which are given us as our guide. The point to which I refer is, that I have come to a conviction that privateering is not a lawful or honourable profession, and with these feelings I should wish to resign the command of the schooner which you have had the kindness to give me.”
“Indeed, Elrington,” replied Mr. Trevannion. “Well, I should not have thought to have heard this from you, I confess. Much as I respect your scruples, you are too scrupulous. I can hardly imagine that you have turned to the sect of the Quakers, and think fighting is contrary to the Scriptures.”
“No, Sir, not so far as that. I consider war, as a profession, both necessary and honourable, and a nation is bound to be prepared for any foreign attack, and to act upon the defensive, or on the offensive, if it is necessary. It is not that. I do not consider the soldier who fights for his country is not doing his duty, nor the seamen who are employed by the state are not equally justified in their profession. What I refer to is privateering. That is, vessels fitted out for the purpose of aggression by private merchants, and merely for the sake of profit. They are not fitted out with any patriotic motives, but merely for gain. They are speculations in which the lives of people on both sides are sacrificed for the sake of lucre—and had you witnessed such scenes of bloodshed and cruelty as I have, during my career, such dreadful passions let loose, and defying all restraint, you would agree with me that he who leads such miscreants to their quarry has much to answer for. Were it possible to control the men on board of a privateer it might be more excusable; but manned, as privateers always will be, with the most reckless characters, when once they are roused by opposition, stimulated by the sight of plunder, or drunken with victory, no power on earth can restrain their barbarity and vengeance, and a captain of a privateer who attempted would, in most cases, if he stood between them and their will, unless he were supported, fall a victim to his rashness. All this I have seen; and all I now express I have long felt, even when younger and more thoughtless. You know that I did give up privateering at one time, because I was shocked at the excesses to which I was a party. Since that I have accepted the command of a vessel, for the idea of being captain was too flattering to my vanity to permit me to refuse; but reflection has again decided me not to engage in it further. I hope this communication will not displease you, Mr. Trevannion. If I am wrong in my opinion at all events I am sincere, for I am giving up my only source of livelihood from a sense of duty.”
“I know that you are sincere, Elrington,” replied Mr. Trevannion, “but at the same time I think that you are much too strait-laced in your opinions. When nations are at war, they mutually do, and I cannot see what difference there is between my fitting out a privateer under the king’s authority, or the king having vessels and men for the national service. The government fit out all the vessels that they can, and when their own funds are exhausted they encourage individuals to employ their capital in adding to the means of distressing the enemy. If I had property on the high seas, would it be respected any more than other English property by the enemy? Certainly not; and, therefore, I am not bound to respect theirs. The end of war is to obtain an honourable peace; and the more the enemy is distressed, the sooner are you likely to obtain one. I do not, therefore, consider that privateering is worse than any other species of warfare, or that the privateersman is a whit more reckless or brutal than soldiers or men-of-war’s men ”
“There is this difference, Sir,” replied I; “first, in the officers commanding; although glad to obtain prize-money, they are stimulated byas well. They look to honour and distinction; they have the feeling that they are defending their king and country, to support them and throw a halo on their exertions; and they have such control over their men, that, although I admit they are equally inclined to excess as the privateersman, they are held in check by the authority which they dare not resist. Now, Mr. Trevannion, privateersmen seek not honour, and are not stimulated by a desire to serve the country; all they look to is how to obtain the property of others under sanction; and could they without any risk do so, they would care little whether it was English property or not, provided that they put the money into their pockets. If I held this opinion as a seaman on board of a privateer, what must I feel now, when I am the leader of such people, and the responsibility of their acts is thrown upon my shoulders, for such I feel is the case!”
“I think,” replied Mr. Trevannion, “that we had better not discuss this question any further just now. Of course you must decide for yourself; but I have this favour to ask of you. Trusting to your resuming the command of the vessel, I have no one to replace you at present, and I hope you will not refuse to take the command of her for one more cruise: should you on your return and on mature reflection be of the same opinion as you are now, I certainly shall no longer press you to remain, and will do all I can to assist you in any other views you may have.”
“To that, Sir, I can have no objection,” replied I; “it would be unfair of me to leave you without a captain to the vessel, and I am therefore ready to sail in her as soon as you please, upon the understanding that I may quit her, if I am of the same opinion as I am now, upon my return to port.”
“I thank you, my dear Sir,” said Mr. Trevannion, rising; “that is all I request. I must now go to the counting-house.”
So saying, he left the room, but his countenance showed that he was far from pleased.
Miss Trevannion, who had been a silent listener to the conversation, as soon as her father had closedthe door after him, thus spoke:
“Captain Elrington, the opinion of a young maiden like me can be of little value, but you know not how much pleasure you have given me by the sentiments you have expressed. Alas! That a man so good, so generous, and so feeling in every other respect, should be led away by the desire of gain, to be the owner of such a description of property. But in this town wealth is everything; the way by which it is obtained is not thought of. My father’s father left him a large property in vessels employed wholly in the slave-trade, and it was through the persuasions of my poor mother that my father was induced to give up that nefarious traffic. Since that his capital has been chiefly employed in privateering, which, if not so brutal and disgraceful, is certainly nearly as. I have been home but a short time, and I have already ventured to express my opinion, certainly not so forcibly and so well as you have, upon the subject; but I was laughed at as a tender-hearted girl, who could not be a fit judge of such matters. But now that you, a captain of one of his vessels, have expressed your dislike to the profession, I think some good may arise. If my father were a poor man, it would be more excusable, if excuse there can be; but such is not the case. He is wealthy, and to whom has he to leave his wealth but to me, his only child? Captain Elrington, you are right—be firm—my father’s obligations to you are very great and your opinion will have its influence. I am his daughter—his only daughter—his love for me is great, I know, and I also have my power over him. Supported as I have been by you, I will now exert it to the utmost to persuade him to retire from further employment of his means in such a speculation.
“I thanked you yesterday, when I first saw you, for your noble behaviour; I little thought that I should have again, in so short a time, to express my thanks.” Miss Trevannion did not wait for any reply from me, but.
I must say, that, although so young a person, I was much pleased at Miss Trevannion’s approval of my sentiments. She appeared, from the very short acquaintance I had had with her, to be a person of a firm and decided disposition, and very different from the insipid class of females generally met with. Her approval strengthened my resolution; still, as I had promised her father that I would go another cruise in the privateer, I left the house and went on board to resume the command. My return was joyfully hailed by the officers and men, which is not always the case. I found her, as may be supposed, ready for sea at a minute’s warning, so that I had nothing to do but embark my effects, which I did before the noon was passed, and then went on shore to Mr. Trevannion, to receive his orders. I found him with Captain Levee in the back room; and I told Mr. Trevannion that I had resumed the command, and was ready to sail as soon as he pleased.
“We must make up for lost time, Elrington,” replied he; “I have ordered Captain Levee to cruise to the northward of the Western Isles, occasionally working up as far as the Scilly Isles. Now I think you had better take your ground in the Channel, between Dunkirk and Calais. There is as much to be made by in that quarter as there is in taking the enemy’s vessels; and I am sure,” added Mr. Trevannion, smiling, “you will think that legitimate warfare.”
At this Captain Levee laughed, and said, “I have been told what you said to Mr. Trevannion, Elrington. I said that it was the effects of being condemned for high treason, and would wear off in a three-months’ cruise.”
“Good impressions do wear off very soon, I fear,” replied I; “but I hope that it will not be the case in this instance.”
“We shall see, my good fellow,” replied Captain Levee; “for my part I hope they will, for otherwise we shall lose the best privateersman I ever fell in with. However, it’s no use bringing up the question now; let us wait till our cruises are over, and we meet again. Good bye, Elrington, and may you be fortunate. My anchor is short stay apeak, and I shall be under sail in half an hour.”
Captain Levee sailed at the time that he mentioned; I remained at anchor till the next morning, and then once more was running down the Irish Channel before a stiff breeze. I forgot to mention that while at Mr. Trevannion’s I had looked at the address of the Catholic priest who had announced to me my release from prison, and had left copies of it, as well as of that of the lady at Paris, in the care of Mr. Trevannion. It was now cold, autumnal weather, and the Channel was but rough sailing-ground. During the first fortnight we were fortunate enough to make two recaptures of considerable value, which arrived safely in the Thames, after which we had a succession of gales from the southward, it being the time of the equinox, which drove us close to the sands of Yarmouth, and we even had difficulty in clearing them and getting into sea-room by standing to the eastward. The weather still continued very bad, and we were lying-to under storm sails for several days, and at last found ourselves a degree and a half to the northward, off the coast of Norfolk, when the weather moderated, and the wind changed to the northward. It was a fine clear night, but with no moon, and we were running before the wind to regain our cruising-ground; but the wind again shifted and baffled us, and at last it fell light, and, being on a wind, we did not make more than four miles an hour, although there was very little sea. About one o’clock in the morning I had gone on deck, and was walking to and fro with the first officer, Mr. James, when I thought that I heard a faint from to windward.
“Stop,” said I; “silence there forward.”
I listened, and thought that I heard the cry again. “Mr. James,” said I, “did you not hear some one shout?”
“No, Sir,” replied he.
“Wait, then, and listen.”
We did so, but I could not hear it repeated.
“I am certain that I heard a voice as if on the waters,” said I. “Perhaps some one has fallen overboard. Turn the hands up to muster, and haul the fore-sheet to windward.”
The men were mustered, but no one was missing.
“It was your fancy, Sir,” observed the first officer.
“It may have been,” replied I; “but I am still in my own mind persuaded that such was the case. Perhaps I was mistaken.”
“Shall we let draw the fore-sheet, Sir?” said Mr. James.
“Yes, we may as well; but the wind is lighter than it was. I think we shall have a calm.”
“It will be as much as she can do to stem the tide and hold her own,” observed Mr. James. “Let draw the fore-sheet, my lads.”
Somehow or another I had a feeling which I could not surmount, that I certainly had heard a faint shout; and although, admitting such to be the case, there was little chance of being of service to any one, I felt a reluctance to leave the spot, and as I walked the deck silent and alone this feeling became insurmountable.
I remained on deck till the tide turned, and then, instead of taking advantage of it so as to gain to the southward, I put the schooner’s head the other way, so as to keep as near as I could to the spot where I heard the voice, reducing her sail so as just to stem the tide. I cannot now account for my anxiety, which, under the circumstances, I most certainly never should have felt, unless it was that Providence was pleased to interpose on this occasion more directly than usual. I could not leave the deck; I waited for daylight with great impatience, and as the day dawned I had my telescope in my hand looking round the compass.
At last, as the sun rose from the fog on the horizon, something attracted my eye, and I made it out to be the two masts of a vessel which had sunk in aboutof water. Still I could see nothing except the masts. However, to make sure, I made sail on the schooner, and stood towards them. A short tack enabled us to fetch, and in half an hour we passed the wreck about a half-musket-shot to windward, when we perceived an arm lifted up out of the water, and waved to us.
“There is somebody there,” said I, “and I was right. Quickly, my lads; fore-sheet to windward, and lower down the stern-boat.”
This was done in a minute, and in a short time the boat returned, bringing with them a lad about sixteen years old, whom they had found in the water, clinging to the masts of the vessel. He was too much exhausted to speak or move. He was put into bed, covered up with blankets, and some warm spirits and water poured down his throat. We then hoisted up the boat, and made sail upon the schooner, and I went down below to breakfast, rejoicing that I had acted upon the impulse which I had felt, and had thus been instrumental in saving the life of a fellow-creature. A few minutes after he was put into bed the lad fell into a sound sleep, which continued during the whole of the day. The next morning he awoke greatly recovered, and very hungry, and as soon as he had eaten he rose and dressed himself.
I then sent for him, as I was impatient to see him and learn his history. When he entered the cabin, it struck me I had seen his features before, but where I could not say. To my inquiries he stated that the brig was the Jane and Mary, of Hull, laden with started a wooden end during the gale, and that she had filled so rapidly that they got the boat from off the boom to save their lives, but from the heavy sea running, and the confusion, the boat had been bilged against the bulwarks, and went down as they were shoving off; that he had supported himself by one of the oars, and was soon separated from his companions who floated around him; that during this time the brig had sunk, and he, clinging to the oar, had been drawn towards her as she sank, and carried some feet under water. On his rising he perceived the top-gallant masts above water, and had made for them, and on looking round he could not see any of the rest of the crew, who must have all perished; that he had been two days on the mast, and was perished with cold. Finding that his feet, which hung down on the water, were much warmer than the other portions of his body exposed to the wind, he had sunk himself down in the water, and remained there, and .; that they had
I asked him how long he had been at sea, and he said he had only gone one voyage, and had been but three months on board. There was something in his manner so(which he stated himself to be) on board of such a vessel, and I felt such an interest, which I could not account for, towards the lad, that I then asked who were his friends. He replied, stammering, that he had not a friend in the world except a brother older than himself by many years, and he did not know where he was.
“But your father’s name? Is he alive, and who is he? You must tell me that, or I shall not know where to send you.”
The youth was very confused, and would not give me any answer.
“Come, my lad,” I said, “I think as I have saved your life I deserve a little confidence, and it shall not be misplaced. I perceive that you have not been brought up as a lad for the sea, and you must therefore trust me.”
“I will, Sir,” he replied, “if you will not send me back to my father and mother.”
“Certainly not against your will, my good lad,” I replied, “although I shall probably persuade you all I can to return to them. I presume you ran away from your home?”
“Yes, Sir, I did,” replied he; “for I could not possibly stay there any longer, and my brother did so before me, for the same reason that I did.”
“Well, I promise you, if you will confide in me, that I will not force your inclinations; so now tell me who are your father and mother, and why you left home. You want a friend now, and without confidence you cannot expect friendship.”
“I will tell you all, Sir,” he replied, “for I see by your face that you will not take advantage of me.”
He then commenced, and you may imagine my surprise, my dear Madam, when I found that it was my own brother Philip, whom I had left a child of ten years old, who was addressing me. He had, as he had asserted, left his home and thrown himself on the wide world for the same reason which I had; for his spirit, like mine, could not brook the treatment which he received. I allowed him to finish his narrative, and then made myself known to him.
You may imagine the scene, and the delight of the poor fellow, who, as he encircled me in his arms, clinging to me with the tears of joy on his cheeks, told me that his great object had been to find me out, and that, although he had no idea what had become of me, he thought it most likely that I had taken to a seafaring life.
I now felt certain that Providence had specially interposed in this business, and had, for its own good reasons, created those unusual feelings of interest which I described to you, that I might be the saviour of my brother; and most grateful was I, I can assure you. I had now a companion and friend, one to love and to cherish. I was no longer alone in the world and I do not know when I had felt so happy for a long while.
I left my brother below in the cabin, and went on deck to acquaint the officers with this strange meeting. The intelligence soon ran through the vessel, and of course the poor shipwrecked boy became an object of unusual interest. That whole day I was interrogating and receiving intelligence from him relative to our family. I made him describe his sisters and every member of it, even the servants and our neighbours were not forgotten, and for the first time since I had quitted home, I knew what had occurred during the implied and expressed as much, and it did not deceive.. From the accounts he gave me, I certainly had no inclination ever to return as long as certain parties were in existence; and my brother declared that nothing but force should ever induce him. The more I talked with him, the more I was pleased with him. He appeared of a frank, noble disposition, full of honour and high sentiments, winning in his manners, and mirthful to excess. Indeed, his handsome countenance
I hardly need say that he took up his quarters in my cabin, and, having procured for him more suitable apparel, he looked what he was,—the perfect young gentleman. He was soon a general favourite on board, not only with the officers but with the men. One would have thought that the danger and distress we had found him in would have sickened him for the sea for ever; but it was quite the contrary. He delighted in his profession, and was certainly born to be a sailor. I asked him what he felt when he had remained so long clinging to the mast; if he had not given up all hopes of being saved? And he replied no, that he had not; that he did not know how long he might have had to remain there, but that he had never abandoned the idea of being taken off by some vessel or another, and that he thought that he might have continued there for twenty-four hours longer without being exhausted, as after he had sunk himself into the water he felt warm, and no exertion was necessary. It is of such buoyant spirits as these, Madam, that seamen should be made.
You cannot have an idea of the pleasure which I experienced at this falling in with my brother Philip. It appeared to have given a new stimulus to my existence; even privateering did not appear so hateful to me, after I had heard him express his delight at being likely to be so employed, for such he stated had long been his ardent wish. Two days afterwards we had regained our cruising-ground, and perceived a French privateer steering for the port of Calais, in company with a large merchant vessel which she had captured. The wind was light, and we discovered her at daybreak, just as the fog cleared away, she being then about mid-channel, and not more than five miles distant. We made all sail, and soon were within gun-shot. The Frenchman appeared determined not to part with his prize without a trial of strength, but as the captured vessel was the nearest to us, I decided to retake her first, and then fight him if he wished. I therefore steered to lay the prize by the board. The Frenchman, a lugger of twelve guns, perceiving our intention, made also for the prize to defend her, he steering up for her close-hauled, we running down to her free, the prize lying between us, and sheltering each of us from the other’s guns. It is difficult to say whether the Frenchman or we were the first to touch her sides with our respective vessels; I rather think that the Frenchman was a second or two before us. At all events they were quicker than we were, and were on the deck first, besides having the advantage of the assistance of their men already on board, so that we were taken at a great disadvantage. However, we did gain the deck by boarding at two points, forward and aft, and a fierce contest ensued. The French were more numerous than we were, but my men were better selected, being all very powerful, athletic fellows. Philip had boarded with the other party forward, which was led by my chief officer. My party, who were abaft, not being so numerous, were beaten back to the taffrail of the vessel, where we stood at bay, defending ourselves against the furious assaults of the Frenchmen. But if we lost, the other party gained, for the whole body of the Frenchmen were between us and them, and those who faced Philip’s party were driven back to abaft the mainmast. It so happened that Philip was thrown down on the deck, and his men passed over him; and while in that position, and unable to rise from the pressure upon him, he heard a calling out from below: this told him that the English prisoners were in the hold; and as soon as he could rise he threw off the hatches, and they rushed up, to the number of twenty-three stout fellows, to our support, cheering most manfully, and by their cheers announcing to the French that we had received assistance. This gave fresh courage to my men, who were hard pressed and faint with their great exertion. We cheered, and rushed upon the enemy, who were already weakened by many of them having turned round to resist the increased impetus from forward. Our cheers were replied to by Philip’s party and the prisoners, and the French were losing the day. They made another desperate rush upon Philip’s men, and succeeded in driving them back to before the main-hatches; but what they gained forward, they lost abaft, as we pushed on with vigour. This was their last attempt. The main-hatch being open, several of them in the confusion fell into it, others followed them of their own accord, and at last every one of them was beaten down from the deck, and the hatches were put over them, with three cheers.
“Now for the privateer—she is our own,” cried Philip; “follow me, my men,” continued he, as he sprang upon the bulwarks of the prize, and from thence into the main rigging of the lugger alongside.
Most of my men followed him; and as there were but few men left on board of the lugger, she was soon in our possession, and thus we had both the enemy and the prize without firing a cannon-shot. It was strange that this combat between two privateers should thus be decided upon the deck of another vessel, but such was the fact. We had several men badly wounded, but not one killed. The French were not quite so fortunate, as seven of their men lay dead upon the decks. The prize proved to be the Antelope rum, and of considerable value. We gave her up to the captain and crew, who had at afforded us such timely assistance, and they were not a little pleased at being thus rescued from a French prison. The privateer was named the Jean Bart, of twelve guns, and one hundred and fifteen men, some away in prizes. She was a new vessel, and this her first cruise. As it required many men to man her, and we had the prisoners to encumber us, I resolved that I would take her to Liverpool at once; and six days afterwards we arrived there without further adventure. Philip’s gallant conduct had won him great favour with my officers and men, and I must say that I felt very proud of him., laden with sugar and
As soon as we had anchored both vessels, I went on shore with Philip to Mr. Trevannion’s to give him an account of what had occurred during the short cruise, and I hardly need say that he was satisfied with the results, as we had made three recaptures of value besides a privateer. I introduced Philip to him, acquainting him with his miraculous preservation, and Mr. Trevannion very kindly invited him for the present to remain in his house. We then took our leave, promising to be back by dinner-time, and I went with Philip to; and having made my purchases and given my orders, (it being then almost two o’clock post ,) we hastened to Mr. Trevannion’s, that we might be in time for dinner. I was, I must confess, anxious to see Miss Trevannion, for she had often occupied my thoughts during the cruise. She met me with great friendliness and welcomed me back. Our dinner was very agreeable, and Philip’s were much approved of. He was, indeed, a mirthful, witty lad, full of jest and humour, and with a good presence withal. Mr. Trevannion being called out just as dinner was finished, Miss Trevannion observed—“I presume, Mr. Elrington, that your good fortune and the reputation you have acquired in so short a time, have put an end to all your misgivings as to a privateersman’s life?”
“I am not quite so light and inconstant, Miss Trevannion,” replied I; “I rejoice that in this cruise I have really nothing to lament or blush for, and trust at the same time we have been serviceable to our country; but my opinion is the same, and I certainly wish that I had fought under the king’s pennant instead of on board of a privateer.”
“You are, then, of the same mind, and intend to resign the command?”
“I do, Miss Trevannion, although I admit that this lad’s welfare makes it more important than ever that I should have some means of livelihood.”
“I rejoice to hear you speak thus, Mr. Elrington, and I think my father’s obligations to you are such, that if he does not assist you, I should feel ashamed of him—but such I am certain will not be the case. He will forward your views, whatever they may be, to the utmost of his power—at the same time, I admit, from conversations I have had with him, that he will be mortified at your resigning the command.”
“And so shall I,” said Philip, “for I do not agree with you or my brother: I see no more harm in privateering than in any other fighting: I suppose, Miss Trevannion, you have been the cause of my brother’s scruples, and I tell you candidly to your face, that I do not thank you for it.”
Miss Trevannion coloured up at this remark, and then replied, “I do not think, Mr. Philip, that I have had the pleasure of seeing your brother more than three times in my life, and that within this last six weeks, and sure I am that we have not had a quarter of an hour’s conversation altogether. It is, therefore, assuredly, too much to say that I am the cause, and your brother will tell you that he expressed these opinions before I ever had had any conversation with him.”
“That may be,” replied Philip, “but you approved of his sentiments, and that concluded the business, I am sure, and I don’t wonder at it. I only hope that you won’t ask me to do anything I do not wish to do; for I am sure that I could never refuse you anything.”
“I am glad to hear you say so, Mr. Philip; for if I see you do that which I think wrong, I shall certainly try my influence over you,” replied Miss Trevannion, smiling. “I really was not aware that I had such power.”
Here Mr. Trevannion came in again, and the conversation was changed; and shortly afterwards Miss Trevannion left the room. Philip, who was tired of sitting while Mr. Trevannion and I took our pipes, and who was anxious to see the town, also left us; and I then stated to Mr. Trevannion that having now completed the cruise which I had agreed that I would, I wished to know whether he had provided himself with another captain.
“As you appear so determined, my dear Elrington, I will only say that I am very sorry, and will not urge the matter any longer. My daughter told me since your absence that she was certain you would adhere to your resolution; and, although I hoped the contrary, yet I have been considering in which way I can serve you. It is not only my pleasure but my duty so to do; I have not forgotten, and never will forget, that you in all probability saved my life by your self-devotion in the affair of the Jacobites. When you first came to me, you were, and, to a certain degree, a man of business; and, at all events, you proved yourself well acquainted and apt at figures. Do you think that a situation on shore would suit you?”
“I should endeavour to give satisfaction, Sir,” I replied; “but I fear that I should have much to learn.”
“Of course you would; but I reply that you would soon learn. Now, Elrington, what I have to say to you is this: I am getting old, and in a few years shall be past work; and I think I should like you as an assistant for the present, and a successor hereafter. If you would like to join me, you shall superintend the more active portion of the business; and I have no doubt but that in a year or two you will be master of the whole. As you know, I have privateers and I have merchant vessels, and I keep my storehouses. I have done well up to the present; not so well, perhaps, now, as I did when I had slave-vessels, which were most profitable; but my deceased wife persuaded me to give up that traffic, and I have not resumed it, in honour of her memory. These foolish women should never interfere in such matters; but let that pass. What I have to say is, that if you choose after a year to join me as a partner, I will give you an eighth of the business, and as we continue I will make over a further share in proportion to the profits; and I will make such arrangements as to enable you at my death to take the whole concern upon favourable terms.”
Mr. Trevannion knocked the ashes out of his pipe, and, as he concluded,—“I am,” I replied, “as you may imagine, Sir, much gratified and honoured at your proposal, which I hardly need say that I willingly accept. I only hope you will make allowance for my ignorance at first setting off, and not ascribe to any other cause my imperfections. You may assure yourself that good-will shall never be wanting on my part, and I shall work day and night, if required, to prove my gratitude for so kind an offer.”
“Then, it is settled,” said Mr. Trevannion; “but what are we to do with your brother Philip?”
“He thinks for himself, Sir, and does not agree with me on the question in point. Of course, I have no right to insist that my scruples should be his; indeed, I fear that I should have little chance in persuading him, as he is so fond of a life of adventure. It is natural in one so young. Age will sober him.”
“Then you have no objection to his going on board of a privateer?”
“I would rather that he was in any other service, Sir; but as I cannot control him I must submit, if he insist upon following that profession. He is a gallant, clever boy, and as soon as I can, I will try to procure him a situation in a king’s ship. At present he must go to sea in some way or the other, and it were, perhaps, better that he should be in good hands (such as Captain Levee’s for instance) on board of a privateer, than mix up with those who might.”
“Well, then, he shall have his choice,” replied Mr. Trevannion. “He is a smart lad, and will do you credit wherever he may be.”
“If I may take the liberty to advise, Sir,” replied I, “I think you could not do better than to give the command of the Sparrow-hawk to the chief officer, Mr. James; he is a good seaman and a brave man, and I have no doubt will acquit himself to your satisfaction.”
“I was thinking the same; and as you recommend him he shall take your place. Now, as all this is settled, you may as well go on board and make known that you have resigned the command. Tell Mr. James that he is to take your place. Bring your clothes on shore, and you will find apartments ready for you on your return, for in future you will of course consider this house as your residence. I assure you that, now that you do not leave me, I am almost glad that the affair is arranged as it is. I wanted assistance, that is the fact, and I hold myself fortunate that you are the party who has been selected. We shall meet in the evening.”
Mr. Trevannion then went away in the direction of his daughter’s room instead of the counting-house as usual, and I quitted the house. I did not go immediately down to the wharf to embark. I wanted to have a short time for reflection, for I was much overpowered with Mr. Trevannion’s kindness, and the happy prospects before me. I walked out into the country for some distance, deep in my own reflections, and I must say that Miss Trevannion was too often interfering with my train of thought.
I had of course no fixed ideas, but I more than once was weighing in my mind whether I should not make known to them who I was, and howto what they imagined. After an hour passed in building castles, I retraced my steps, passed through the town, and, going down to the wharf, waved my handkerchief for a boat, and was soon on board. I then summoned the officers and men, told them that I had resigned the command of the vessel, and that in future they were to consider Mr. James as their captain. I packed up my clothes, leaving for my successor which were no longer of any use to me, but which he would have been compelled to replace.
Philip I found was down in the cabin, and with him I had a long conversation, he stated his wish to remain at sea, saying that he preferred a privateer to a merchant vessel, and a king’s ship to a privateer. Not being old enough, or sufficient time at sea to be eligible for a king’s ship, I agreed that he should sail with Captain Levee, as soon as he came back from his cruise. He had already sent in a good prize. As soon as my clothes and other articles were put into the boat, I wished them all farewell, and was cheered by the men as I pulled on shore.
My effects were taken up to Mr. Trevannion’s house by the seamen, to whom I gave a, and I was met by Mr. Trevannion, who showed me into a large and well-furnished bed-room, which he told me was in future to be considered as my own. I passed away the afternoon in arranging my clothes, and did not go down to the parlour till supper-time, where I found Miss Trevannion, who congratulated me upon my having changed my occupation to one more worthy of me. I made a suitable reply, and we sat down to supper. Having described this in my life, I shall for the present conclude.