The Annotated "Privateersman"/Chapter XV
We set off, and arrived at Liverpool, without accident, late on the sixth night, when we repaired to our usual lodgings. The next day I called to tell Mr. Trevannion that I had returned, and was informed by Humphrey that he was quite strong again, and very anxious to see me, although he had no idea that I should return so soon. Humphrey went up to announce my arrival, and Mr. Trevannion admitted me immediately, although he was not yet out of bed.
“I fear that you have not been successful,” said he as he took my hand.
“On the contrary, Sir, I have succeeded in everything,” and I then gave him an account of what had happened.
“Well,” replied he, “I am glad of it, and recollect I must be at the expense, as, without you had incurred it, the schooner would not, in all probability, have been hired. And now I want to consult with you about something else. Here is a letter from Captain Irving, of the Amy, brought home by the Chester Lass.”
These were two vessels employed on the Gold Coast, which belonged to Mr. Trevannion.
“Read it,” said Mr. Trevannion, “and give me your opinion.”
I did so: Captain Irving stated that he had pushed the two vessels up a small river on the coast, which he had not known of before, and had fallen in with a black ruler, who had never yet treated with the English; but only with the Spaniards, for slaves. That his English commodities were quite new to the natives, and that, in consequence, he had made a most fortunate traffic with them, and had loaded a vessel with ivory, wax, and gold-dust to the amount of 1000 pounds, and that he had sent the Chester Lass, remaining himself to continue the barter before it was known to the other ships on the coast, which it would soon be. He continued, that he had not sufficient of the articles which were most valued by the natives, and requested that Mr. Trevannion would immediately despatch another vessel with various goods enumerated, and that then he should be able to fill his own vessel as well as the one that he had despatched home; that the river was in such a latitude, and the mouth difficult to discover; that he sent a little sketch of the coast, which would facilitate the discovery—but that no time was to be lost, as the sickly season was coming on, and it was very unhealthy at that time.
As I folded up the letter, Mr. Trevannion said:
“Now, here is an invoice of the whole cargo sent home by the Chester Lass. I reckon it worth about £7000.”
I looked over the invoice, and agreed with Mr. Trevannion that it was well worth that, if not more.
“This is most important, you will acknowledge, Musgrave,” said Mr. Trevannion; “but before I go any further, I trust that, now the only difficulty is got over, you will not refuse to be my partner; the only difference I intend to make, is, that I now offer you one-fourth instead of one-eighth. Silence gives consent,” continued Mr. Trevannion, as I did not immediately reply.
“I was so astonished at your munificent offer, Sir, that I could not well speak.”
“Then it’s agreed; so say no more about it,” said Mr. Trevannion, taking me by the hand, and pressing it warmly—“and now to business. My idea is, to send out the Sparrow-Hawk, being so fast a sailer. Of course, as a privateer, she has done her work; and as the government wish the complement of the Arrow to be increased, I think we cannot do better than to fill her up with some of the Sparrow-Hawk’s men, leaving about twenty-five on board of her, and sending her out as soon as possible to the coast, with the articles which Captain Irving requests.”
“I agree with you, Sir, that it will be the best plan.”
“But whom to send is the difficulty,” said Mr. Trevannion. “Captain Paul, of the Chester Lass, is very ill, and not likely to be out of bed for some time; and even if he were well, I have no opinion of him in an affair of this moment. If, as Captain Irving says, he can fill the Amy, her cargo will be worth three times that of the Chester Lass; but, of course, the destination of the Sparrow-Hawk must be a secret, and I do not know whom to intrust her to. We require some one in whom we can put confidence.”
“I agree with you, Sir,” replied I; “and, if you have no objection, I think that the best plan will be for me to go myself; I shall be back again in ten weeks at the furthest.”
“Well, as you will now have a strong interest in it, I really think so too. In fact, I don’t know whom else we can trust.”
“I agree with you, Sir, and I will go myself, and I think the sooner the better; but I do not know whether we can obtain all the goods requisite immediately.”
“We can have them in five or six days,” replied Mr. Trevannion; “I sent Humphrey out to make inquiry.”
“At all events, I must look to them myself; and there are many other things to manage, so I had better wish you a good morning now, Mr. Trevannion, and in the evening I will call again, and let you know what I have done.”
“Do so,” said he, and I then took my leave.
I certainly was very much astonished as well as much pleased at Mr. Trevannion’s liberality relative to the partnership, and I could now look forward to competency in a few years at the furthest. Certainly, if Mr. Trevannion had been hasty in his conduct towards me he had made most noble reparation. I first returned to the lodgings and told Captain Levee and Philip what had passed; they immediately proposed that we should all go together on board the Sparrow-Hawk, that I might make my arrangements, and that they might persuade some of the men to join the Arrow. I first picked out the men I wished to sail with me; and then they talked over the rest, who that evening went on shore for their wages, and the next morning joined the Arrow, as Captain Levee was anxious to get round to the Nore. The day after the men joined, the Arrow sailed, which I was not sorry for, as it left me more at leisure to expedite my own affairs. Philip promised to be my correspondent, and I bade them both farewell with regret. I called in the evening, as I had promised, upon Mr. Trevannion, and he then gave me the deed of partnership, signed and dated the day when he first made the offer, and we had quarrelled; but I did not see Miss Trevannion; much to my regret, her father said that she was ailing. The business I had to transact, and fitting out the Sparrow-Hawk, so completely occupied me, that it was now three days that I had been at Liverpool without having seen her, and I was much annoyed at it, as I had called every day. My feelings towards her were now stronger than before. She was never out of my thoughts, and I hardly know how it was that I transacted business as I did. This evening I was determined, if possible, that I would see her, and find out why she avoided me, as it appeared to me that she did. When I called, therefore, I did not ask to see her father, but told Humphrey to find out where Miss Trevannion was, and say that I requested to speak with her. Humphrey returned, and said that she was in the sitting-room, to which I instantly repaired.
“I am fearful that I have given you some unintentional cause of displeasure, Miss Trevannion,” said I, as I entered, “for you have appeared to avoid me since my return.”
“Indeed, Mr. Musgrave, I have not,” replied she; “I was most anxious to see you, and have thought it very unpolite, I may add, unkind, on your part not to have come to me.”
“I have been in the house every day, and sometimes twice a day, with your father, Miss Trevannion, and have never met you. Once I inquired for you, and your father told me you were unwell, whereas Humphrey had but five minutes before told me that you were well and in good spirits.”
“Humphrey told the truth, and so did my father. I was in good health and spirits, and in five minutes afterwards I was ill and unhappy.”
“I trust I was no party to it, Miss Trevannion.”
“You were a party to it, but not the great offender, who was my father. He had told me that upon your return he had installed you as his partner, and had done you the justice you had deserved; and then he told me that you were going out to the coast of Africa in the Sparrow-Hawk.”
“It is very true, Miss Trevannion; but where is the offence?”
“The offence is this: my father no sooner does you justice than he wants more ivory and gold-dust, having more than enough already; but I told him it was as bad as privateering, for in either case he sends people out to sacrifice their lives, that he may gain more money. I have no patience with this foolish pursuit of wealth.”
“After all your father’s kindness to me, Miss Trevannion, I could do no less than accept the offer.”
“You would have been more wise and more just to yourself to have refused it, Mr. Musgrave. I read the letters to my father when they arrived, and you know what Captain Irving says about the unhealthiness of the climate. You have been my father’s best friend, and he should not have treated you thus.”
“I never did value life, Miss Trevannion; but really the kind interest you have expressed on this occasion makes me feel as if my poor life was of some value. To one who has been such a football of fortune as I have been, and who has hardly known a kind feeling towards him ever expressed, it is a gratification that I really appreciate, and, coming from one whom I respect and esteem more than any other person in the world, it quite overpowers me. Indeed, Miss Trevannion, I am truly grateful.”
I was correct when I said that it overpowered me, for it did completely, and I was so oppressed by my feelings, that I reeled to a chair, and covered up my face with my hands. What would I have given to have dared to state what I felt!
“You are ill, Mr. Musgrave,” said Miss Trevannion, coming to me. “Can I offer you anything?”
I made no reply; I could not speak.
“Mr. Musgrave,” said Miss Trevannion, taking my hand, “you frighten me. What is the matter? Shall I call Humphrey?”
I felt her hand tremble in mine, and, uncertain what to think, I came to the resolution to make the avowal.
“Miss Trevannion,” said I, after a pause, and rising from my chair, “I feel that this internal conflict is too great for me, and if it last it must kill me. I give you my honour that I have for months tried everything in my power to curb my desires and to persuade myself of my folly and rash ambition, but I cannot do so any longer. It were better that I knew my fate at once, even if my sentence should be my death. You will ridicule my folly, be surprised at my presumption, and, in all probability, spurn me for the avowal, but make it I must. Miss Trevannion, I have dared—to love you; I have but one excuse to offer, which is, that I have been more than a year in your company, and it is impossible for any one not to love one so pure, so beautiful, and so good. I would have postponed this avowal till I was able to resume my position in society, by the means which industry might have afforded me; but my departure upon this business, and the kind of presentiment which I have, that I may not see you again, has forced it from me. In a few days I leave you—be gentle with me for my involuntary offence—pity me while you condemn, and I will return no more.”
Miss Trevannion did not reply; she breathed quick, and stood motionless. I gathered courage; I looked in her face, there was no displeasure—I approached her, she was half fainting, and put her hand upon my shoulder to steady herself. I put my arm round her waist, and led her to the sofa, and knelt at her feet, watching every change in her beautiful countenance. I took her hand and pressed it to my lips; by degrees I became more bold, and got by her side, and pressed her to my heart. She burst into tears, and wept with her head on my bosom.
“Do not be angry with me,” said I, after a time.
“Do I appear as if I was angry with you?” replied she, raising her head.
“Oh, no; but I cannot believe my happiness to be real. It must be a dream.”
“What is life but a dream?” replied she mournfully. “Oh, the coast of Africa! How I dread it!”
And so I confess did I from that moment; I had a presentiment, as I had told her, that something would go wrong, and I could not get over the feeling.
I shall no longer dwell upon what took place on that delightful evening, Madam; suffice to say, that Miss Trevannion and I were mutually pledged, and, after an exchange of thought and feeling, we parted, and when we did part I pressed those dear lips to mine. I went home reeling with excitement, and hastened to bed, that I might have unrestrained freedom of thought. I enacted the scene of the evening over and over again; recalled each motion, each look, every word which had passed, and, defying fever and presentiment of evil, imagined also our happy meeting to part no more. It was long before I could compose myself to sleep, and when I did, I need not say who it was that occupied my dreams. I called as soon as I could venture so to do on the following day, and had a long interview with my dear Amy. Before I went up to her father, I tried to soothe her anxiety upon my approaching voyage, and to persuade her that there was little or no danger to be apprehended in so short a stay. Willingly would I have given it up, but Mr. Trevannion had so set his mind upon it, and I had, by my consent, rendered it so impossible for him to find a substitute in time, that I could not do so, and I persuaded Miss Trevannion that I was right in acting to my promise line question that came forward was, whether we should make known our engagement to her father at once, and this was decided in the negative. Much as he liked me, he was not yet prepared to receive me so suddenly as a son-in-law, and Amy was of opinion that the communication had better be postponed. To this, of course, I gave a willing assent. I was satisfied with the knowledge of her affection, which I felt would never change. As I was talking with her father, after my interview with Amy, he said:
“Really, Elrington, or Musgrave, I hardly know which to call you.”
“Musgrave is my real name, Sir,” replied I.
“Musgrave—Musgrave—where did I know a Musgrave?”
“We are from the north,” replied I.
“Well,” said he, “I was going to say, that I really wish I could find some one else to take your place in this voyage, for I do not much like your going.”
“Do, my dear father,” said Miss Trevannion, who was standing by him.
“Hey! Miss Amy, what have you to do with it, I should like to know, and how can it concern you whether Mr. Musgrave goes or not?”
“I said so, Sir, because I know how you will feel his loss for so long a period. You know how you did feel his loss before, and I do not wish to see you working so hard, as you will have to do it without his assistance.”
“Well, that’s kindly thought, Amy, at all events; but still I fear that Mr. Musgrave must go, and I must work by myself till he comes back; so it’s no use saying any more about it.”
Amy sighed and made no reply. On the third day after this interview, everything was ready, and on the following morning I was to sail. Mr. Trevannion had so many directions to give, and kept me so wholly with him, that I could hardly find time to speak to his daughter. However, it was agreed that as I was to sail at daylight, that she would see me after her father had gone to bed. Our meeting took place—need I say that it was a tender one. We renewed our vows over and over again, and it was not till past midnight that I tore myself away. Old Humphrey looked very knowingly at me when he let me out of the street-door. I slipped a guinea in his hand and wished him good-bye. I hastened on board of the Sparrow-Hawk, and, desiring to be called before daylight, went down into the cabin. There I remained sitting at the table and thinking of Amy so long, that when the mate came down to wake me he found that I was still sitting there, having never been to bed during the whole of the night.
I started from my reverie and hastened on deck to get the schooner under weigh. It was soon done, although we were, comparatively speaking, short-handed. There was a fine breeze, and lightened as she now was, the little vessel flew through the water. Liverpool was soon out of sight, and we were dashing down the Irish Channel.
“She sails well now,” said I to the second mate, a very clever man, and much hotter educated than most seamen, for he could navigate, as well as being a first-rate seaman.
“Yes, Sir,” replied Olivarez, “she walks fast. She is not too deep now,” replied he; “what a slaver she would make.”
This man was not an Englishman, but a Brazilian Portuguese by birth, although he had long been out of his country. Having set her course, I went down below, that I might indulge in my castle-building more at my ease. The wind increased to a gale, but as it was from the northward, and bore us to our destination, it was welcomed. We soon crossed the Bay of Biscay, and were in more genial latitudes; and, after a rapid run of about four weeks, I found myself nearly in the latitude given to us of the river where the Amy was at anchor. I then hauled in for the shore, which was very low, and required being approached with caution. We saw some towering palm-trees at sunset, and then we hove-to; the next day we again stood in, and having ascertained our exact latitude at noon, we found ourselves about four miles to the northward of the river’s mouth. We shaped a course, and in two hours I made out the marks given for our guidance in the rough sketch of Captain Irving, and thus satisfied that I was right, ran directly for the mouth of the river. Captain Irving was correct in saying it was difficult, for it was not until we were within a mile that we could find any opening; but at last we did, and at the same time perceived the masts of two vessels at some distance up the river. We stood in, and found that there was no bar at the river mouth, which was a very unusual circumstance on this coast. The soundings were gradual, and in an hour afterwards we anchored between the Amy and a fine schooner under British colours. Captain Irving recognised the Sparrow-Hawk, and immediately came on board. After the usual salutations, he told me that his vessel was half-laden, but that he waited for the articles he had sent for to enable him to complete his cargo. I told him that I had them on board, and he should have them as soon as he sent his boats. He stated that no vessels, except those engaged in the slave-trade, had ever come into this river, and that they only brought the cloth and other articles usual in the trade; but that his assorted cargo had astonished the people, and they were wild to possess things which they had never before seen. They had offered slaves in quantities, but finding that he would not take them in exchange, they had now brought down ivory and gold-dust. He told me how glad he was that I had come, as the river was very sickly, and was becoming more and more so every day; that out of twelve men he had already four down with fever.
I inquired of him what that vessel was on the other side of us. He replied it was a Liverpool slave-trader, and that the captain appeared to be a very good sort of man; that he never indulged in liquor, nor was given to profane language.
A few minutes afterwards the captain of the slaver came on board to pay his respects, and I asked him down in the cabin, and gave him beer and cheese, the two greatest luxuries in those climes. He appeared, as Captain Irving stated, a very quiet, well-behaved, serious person, which I was rather surprised at. When we repaired on deck, I observed, as the vessel was close to us, that there were two very large dogs on board, who, at the sight of the captain, bayed furiously. He told me that they were Cuba bloodhounds and that he never went on shore without them, as they were the most faithful and courageous animals, and he considered that he was safer with them than with half a dozen armed men. Shortly afterwards Captain Irving and he both took leave. As there were still some hours of daylight, Captain Irving sent his boats for the goods, and after that, as the evening fell, I went down below, as Captain Irving requested I would do, and by no means remain on deck after sun-down, as it was extremely unhealthy.
On the following day Captain Irving went on shore with his goods and trafficked most favourably. Indeed, as we afterwards found out, he had procured in exchange more ivory than his vessel would hold, besides much gold-dust. The day after, I went on shore with Captain Irving to call upon the king, as he called himself. He was seated in front of a hut made of palmetto leaves, with a lace coat on, but no other garment whatever, so that he made a curious appearance. After a little conversation, I went away, and, hearing that the slaver was taking her cargo on board, about a hundred yards further up, I walked in that direction. The slaves were brought down in about twenty at a time, all of them fastened by the neck to a long bamboo pole, which confined them all together. One string of them had been sent down and put into the boat, and another was standing ready for embarkation; when, as I cast my eyes over them and commiserated their misery, I observed a female whom I thought I had seen before. I looked again, and behold! It was Whyna, the princess who had been so kind to me in my captivity. I went up to her and touched her on the shoulder. She turned round, as well as the lashing to the pole would permit her, and on seeing me gave a faint scream. Without ceremony I took out my knife and released her, and led her away. She fell down at my feet and kissed them. The black man who had charge of the delivery of the slaves was very angry, and ran up to me, brandishing his long stick; but the captain of the schooner, who was on shore, and who had witnessed what I had done, saluted him with a kick in the stomach, which made him quiet enough. In few words I told the captain of the slaver that I was once in captivity, and this woman had befriended me, requesting him to name his price and I would willingly pay it.
“It’s not worth mentioning, Sir,” replied he; “women are as cheap as dirt; take her and welcome.”
“Not so,” replied I; “I must pay for her ransom.”
“Well then, Sir,” said he, “I am in great want of a telescope; you have one on board, will you let me have it?”
“Most certainly,” replied I, “and many thanks into the bargain.”
I lifted up the poor creature, who was badly emaciated and weak, and led her to the boat of the Amy and put her in. Captain Irving came down, and we returned on board. It was with great difficulty that, after I had given the poor creature some refreshment, which she was really in need of, I could recollect sufficient of her language to make myself understood by her; but by degrees words came to my memory, and as she spoke I recovered more. As well as I could make her out, the warriors had risen against the king on account of his barbarity, and had cut him to pieces; and that all his wives and servants had been sold as slaves. I promised her that she should not be a slave, but should come to my country and be taken care of.
She kissed my hands, and as she smiled her thanks, she reminded me of the Whyna of former times. I did not, however, think it advisable that she should come on board of the schooner, and I requested Captain Irving to take charge of her, and let her want for nothing, telling him that I intended that she should go home in his vessel. He willingly consented, and I hailed the schooner for a boat and went on deck. Whyna followed, but I told her I was obliged to go on board of the schooner, and that she had better go and lie down. As she probably thought that the Amy was my vessel, and that I was going away on a visit, she complied with my request, and went down with Captain Irving, who led her into a state-room which was not occupied.
As soon as I arrived on board the schooner, I sent the telescope which the captain of the slaver had begged for. Whyna had said to me, “I shall be your slave now,” evidently expecting that she was to remain with me, but that I could not consent to. Miss Trevannion had heard from me my adventures when in captivity, and I would not on that account allow Whyna to be in the same vessel with me. The next day Captain Irving came on board to tell me that he had two more men down with the fever, and that he wished I could give them some assistance in getting his cargo on board, which I did, and before night the Amy was loaded up to the hatchways, and there still remained a considerable number of elephants’ teeth on shore in the hut where he received them. I therefore determined, as his crew were evidently sickening fast, that he should sail immediately, and that I would take the remainder of the ivory on board of the schooner and follow him, giving him a rendezvous to wait at until I joined him, that we might proceed home in company. That night three of my men were ill.
I was on board of the Amy, and had been talking with Whyna, who wanted to know why I did not sleep on board of the vessel. I told her that I could not, but that we were to go to England directly, and that I was living on board of the schooner. Captain Irving weighed at daybreak, and in an hour was out of the river, and as I was as anxious to be clear of such an unhealthy spot, I manned my boats and went on shore for the ivory that was left. I found that it would take the whole of the day to embark it, as we had to go two miles further up the river than the depth of water would permit the vessel to do; for the ivory was in a hut close to the king’s house. I had sent off four boat-loads, and it being then noon, I went off with the fifth myself, that I might get my dinner, leaving the second mate to attend on shore, and taking with me the first mate who messed in the cabin. As we were in the middle of the stream, the boat struck against a stump of a tree, as we supposed, and knocked so large a hole in the bow that she began to fill. I immediately ordered the men to pull for the nearest point, which was on the opposite side of the river, that we might ground the boat to prevent her sinking.
The first mate, who was a very active man, finding that the elephants’ teeth prevented his reaching the bow of the boat, and stuffing into it some oakum which he had found in the stern sheets, sounded with the boat-hook, and finding that there was not more than three feet of water where we were pulling, jumped over the bows to push the oakum into the hole; but the poor fellow had not been a few seconds in the water, when he gave a shriek, and we perceived that a large shark had snapped him in two. This was a sad mishap, and the men, terrified, pulled as hard as they could, while two of them baled out the boat, to gain the shore, for we knew what fate awaited us if we sunk in the river. With great exertion we succeeded, running her up among the canes, which grew on that side of the river so thick that it was difficult to force your way through them.
We landed up to our knees in mud, and, throwing out the ivory, we found that a whole plank was rent out, and that it was impossible to repair our boat; and we were hidden by the canes from those who could have assisted us, had they known that we required their assistance, and we had no possible means of communication. At last I thought that if I could force my way through the canes to the point down the river, I could hail and make signals for assistance; and desiring the men to remain by the boat, I set of upon my expedition. At first I got on pretty well, as there were little paths through the canes, made, as I imagined, by the natives; and, although I was often up to my knees in thick black mud, I continued to get on pretty fast; but at last the canes grew so thick that I could hardly force my way through them, and it was a work of excessive labour. Still I persevered, expecting each second that I should arrive at the banks of the river, and be rewarded for my fatigue; but the more I laboured the worse it appeared to be, and at last I became worn out with fatigue, and quite bewildered. I then tried to find my way back, and was equally unsuccessful, and I sat down with anything but pleasant thoughts in my mind. I calculated that I had been two hours in making this attempt, and was now, quite puzzled how to proceed. I bitterly lamented my rashness, now that it was too late.
Having reposed a little, I resumed my toil, and was again, after an hour’s exertion, compelled, from fatigues to sit down in the deep black mud. Another respite from toil, and another hour or more of exertion, and I gave myself up for lost. The day was evidently fast closing in—the light overhead was not near so bright as it had been; and I knew that a night passed in the miasma of the cane was death. At last it became darker and darker. There could not be an hour of daylight remaining. I determined upon one more struggle, and, reeking as I was with perspiration and faint with fatigue, I rose again, and was forcing my way through the thickest of the canes, when I heard a deep growl, and perceived a large panther not twenty yards from me. It was on the move as well as I was, attempting to force his way through the canes, so as to come to me. I retreated from him as fast as I could, but he gained slowly on me, and my strength was fast exhausting. I thought I heard sounds at a distance, and they became more and more distinct, but what they were my fear and my struggles probably prevented me from making out. My eyes were fixed upon the fierce animal which was in pursuit of me, and I now thanked God that the canes were so thick and impassable; still the animal evidently gained ground—until it was not more than five yards from me, dashing and springing at the canes, and tearing them aside with his teeth.
The sounds were now nearer, and I made them out to be the howling of other animals. A moment’s pause, and I thought it was the baying of dogs; and I then thought that I must have arrived close to where the schooner was, and that I heard the baying of the bloodhounds. At last I could do no more, and I dropped, exhausted and almost senseless, in the mud. I recollect hearing the crushing of the canes, and then a savage roar, and then yells, and growls, and struggles, and fierce contentions—but I had fainted.
I must now inform the reader that about an hour after I had left the boat the captain of the slaver was pulling up the river, and was hailed by our men in our long-boat. Perceiving them on shore on that side of the river, and that they were in distress, he pulled towards them, and they told him what had happened, and that an hour previous I had left the boat to force my way through the cane-brakes, and they had heard nothing of me since.
“Madness!” cried he. “He is a lost man. Stay till I come back from the schooner.”
He went back to the schooner, and taking two of his crew who were negroes, and his two bloodhounds, into the boat, he returned immediately, and as soon as he landed he put the bloodhounds on my track, and sent the negroes on with them. They had followed me in all my windings, for it appeared that I had travelled in every direction, and had come up with me just as I had sunk with exhaustion, and the panther was so close upon me. The bloodhounds had attacked the panther, and this was the noise which sounded in my ears, as I lay stupified and at the mercy of the wild beast. The panther was not easily, although eventually, overcome, and the black men coming up had found me and borne me in a state of insensibility on board the Sparrow-Hawk. The fever had come on me, and it was not till three weeks afterwards that I recovered my senses, when I learnt what I have now told the reader, and much more, with which I am about to make him acquainted.
When I recovered my senses, I found myself in the cabin of the Sparrow-Hawk. For some hours I was confused and wandering, but I rallied from time to time, till I could at last recognise the beams and carlines over my head. I was too weak to move, and I continued to lie on my back till I again fell asleep; how long I do not know, but it must have been for many hours, and then when I awoke I found myself much stronger.
I could now turn on my bed, and doing so I perceived a young man of the name of Ingram by my side in a doze, with his eyes shut. I called him in a faint voice, and he started up.
“I have been very ill,” said I, “have I not?”
“Yes, Sir, indeed you have.”
“I have been trying to recollect all about it, but I cannot as yet.”
“It’s not worth remembering, Sir,” replied he. “Do you wish anything to drink?”
“No,” replied I.
“Then you had better go to sleep again.”
“I cannot do that. I feel as if I should like to get up. Where is Mr. Thompson? I must see him.”
“Mr. Thompson, Sir,” replied he; “don’t you recollect?”
“Why, Sir, he was bitten in two by a shark.”
“Shark!” this was the key-note required, and my memory returned. “Yes, yes, I recollect now all, all. I recollect the panther and the cane-brakes. How was I preserved?”
“The bloodhounds killed the panther, and you were brought on board insensible, and have been in a raging fever ever since.”
“It must be so,” replied I, collecting my senses after a few moments of thought. “It must be so. How long have I been ill?”
“This is the twenty-first day.”
“The twenty-first day!” cried I. “Is it possible? Are none of the men ill?”
“No, Sir, they are all well.”
“But I hear the water against the bends. Are we not still at anchor?”
“No, Sir, the second mate got the schooner under weigh as he found you were so ill.”
“And I have been ill twenty-one days! Why we must be near home?”
“We expect to make the land in a few days, Sir,” replied Ingram.
“Thank Heaven for all its mercies,” said I. “I never expected to see old England again. But what a bad smell there is. What can it be?”
“I suppose it is the bilge-water, Sir,” replied Ingram. “People who are ill and weak always are annoyed by it; but I think, Sir, if you would take a little gruel, and then go to sleep again, it would be better.”
“Well, I fear I am not very strong, and talking so much has done me no good. I think I could take a little gruel.”
“Then, Sir, I’ll go and get some made, and be back very soon.”
“Do, Ingram, and tell Mr. Olivarez, the second mate, that I would speak to him.”
“Yes, I will,” replied the man, and he left the state-room.
I waited some time listening for the arrival of the second mate, and then I thought that I heard odd noises in the hold before the bulk-head of the state-room in which I was lying, but I was still very weak, and my head swam. After a time Ingram came down with the gruel, into which he put some sugar and a spoonful of rum, to flavour it, as he said. He offered it to me, and I drank it all, for I had an appetite; but whether it was that I was very weak, or the rum he put in was more than he said, it is certain that I had hardly given him back the basin than I felt so drowsy that I turned away from him, and was soon again in forgetfulness.
This Ingram was a young man who had been apprenticed to an apothecary, and had taken to the sea. He was well educated, and a very merry fellow, and I had chosen him as one who could attend upon me in the cabin, and at the same time be otherwise useful if required, as he was a very good seaman, and very active. When I awoke again I felt convinced that I must have slept through the night, as it was broad daylight, as before, but Ingram was not by my bedside. There was no bell in the state-room, and I was obliged to await his coming. I felt much stronger than the day before, and now proposed getting out of bed as soon as Ingram should come down into the cabin. I now remembered that the second mate had not come down to me, and heard noises and murmurings in the hold as I had the day previous, which surprised me, and I became more anxious for the return of Ingram. At last he came, and I told him that I had been awake more than an hour.
“How do you feel yourself, Sir?” said he.
“Quite strong. I should like to get up and dress. Perhaps I may be able to get on deck for a quarter of an hour.”
“I think,” replied he, “that you had better wait, and hear what I have to tell you, Sir. I would not tell you yesterday, because I thought it would be too much for you; but as I see you are really better to-day, I must say that I have strange things to tell you.”
“Indeed!” cried I, with surprise. “Strange things. By the bye, why did not Olivarez come to me yesterday?”
“I will explain all to you, Sir, if you will lie down and listen to what I have to say, and take the news quietly.”
“Very well, Ingram, I will do so. Now pray go on.”
“You were brought on board in a state of fever and insensibility by the captain of the slaver. He said, as he lifted you over the side, that you were a dead man. We all thought the same, and you were taken down into the cabin with that persuasion on the part of the whole crew. Your delirium and fever increased, and every hour it was expected that you would give up the ghost. Now, Sir, two days afterwards the slaver sailed with his cargo, and we were left alone in the river. Olivarez, who of course commanded, talked to the men. He said that you were as good as dead already, and that he thought that this was a fair opportunity for their making money. He proposed that the ivory still on shore should be changed for slaves, which he said the negroes would gladly do, and that we should run with our cargo to the Brazils. He said that it would be useless our remaining in the river, as we should all lose our lives in the same way that you had done, and that he thought, as commanding the schooner, he knew what would best please the owner, who had long employed vessels in the slave-trade, and would not be sorry to find that we had run a cargo, and would reward them all liberally. That this would be an excuse to leave the river immediately, whereas otherwise they would have to wait till you recovered or died, and by that time they might half of them be dead themselves. Do you understand me, Sir?”
“Yes, perfectly. Go on, Ingram.”
“Well, Sir, the men did not perceive what he was about, and replied that so long as they left the river they did not care how soon, and that it was better that we should take a cargo of slaves at all events, for Olivarez was in command now, and they should do as he ordered them. I made no reply, indeed Olivarez never put the question to me. Well, Sir, the ivory was soon exchanged for slaves, who are now on board, and it is the slaves whom you have smelt and complained of. We received on board 140, and provisions sufficient with what we had, and, having taken in all the water we could, below and on deck, we made sail out of the river, and have since steered for the Brazils.”
“But Olivarez has taken a most unwarrantable responsibility,” said I; “and one that he shall answer for.”
“Stop, Sir,” replied Ingram, “you have only heard the first part of the story. When we had been three days at sea, Olivarez, who had been talking to the men, one by one and apart, called them together, and said, it was an opportunity not to be lost, that they had possession of the vessel, and the owner would never have a clue to where she had gone, and that now was the time to take possession of her for themselves, and employ her in the slave-trade on their own account. That, sailing so fast, nothing could overhaul her or board her, and, therefore, they were free from danger. He then proposed that he should command and navigate, and receive one-half of the profits, and that the other half should be divided among the crew—the expense of the provisions, etcetera, being paid out of it previous to their sharing and making a calculation; he showed them that every voyage would be worth about £100 a man after all expenses were paid. The crew consented at once to the terms—all but me; and when he asked me, my answer was, that I would consent to nothing while you were yet alive. I said that, because I was afraid that they would murder me, or throw me overboard.”
“Go on, Ingram; go on, and let me hear it all at once.”
“‘Then you will soon be freed from your difficulty,’ said Olivarez.
“‘I do not know that, Sir,’ I replied, ‘for I think Mr. Musgrave may get over it.’
“‘Indeed,’ he returned, ‘well, then, so much the worse for him.’
“As he, Olivarez, said this, the whole of the crew, to do them justice, cried out, that there should be no murder, for if there was, they not only would have nothing to do with the affair, but would make it known at the first port to which they came. That you had always been a kind, good officer, and were too brave a man to die in that way.”
“‘Well, my men,’ said Olivarez, ‘I never had an idea of the kind, and I promise you, if he lives through it, there shall be no murder; I will put him on shore at the first port we arrive at, but in such a way as to secure our safety—that we must look to.’
“The men said that that was all right, and then they all agreed to join him.”
“‘And you, Ingram,’ said Olivarez, ‘what do you say?’
“‘What I said before,’ I replied; ‘that as long as Mr. Musgrave lives I will come to no agreement whatever.’
“‘Well,’ said Olivarez, ‘it is but postponing your decision; I know that you will join us. So now, my lads, as we’re all agreed, we may as well go to dinner.’”
“The scoundrel shall pay for this,” cried I.
“Hush, Sir, hush, I pray; say nothing, but wait patiently and see what turns up. We are not yet at Rio, and when we are, we may be able to do something, but everything depends upon keeping quiet, for if the men become alarmed, they may be persuaded to kill you to save themselves.”
“That is very true, Ingram,” replied I. “Leave me now for half an hour, I wish to be alone.”
You may imagine, my dear Madam, my agitation at hearing this intelligence. I, who had thought that I was within a few days’ sail of Liverpool, to be there received by my cherished Amy, to find myself in the hands of pirates, and close to the Brazils with a cargo of slaves; which they, or rather Olivarez, had taken in the vessel to Rio that he might not be discovered; for he might have found a better mart for his live cargo. And then what would be the anxiety of Amy and her father when I was not heard of? It would be supposed that the schooner was upset in a squall, and all hands had perished. Excited and angry as I was, I felt the truth of what Ingram said, and that it was necessary to be quiet. Perhaps I might by that means not only preserve my life, but again find myself in my own country. When Ingram returned, I asked him if Olivarez knew that I was better, and had recovered my reason. He replied that he did, but that he had told him I was so weak that I could hardly recover.
“That is well,” said I; “keep him in that belief as long as you can.”
He now offered me more gruel, which I took, and I believe that he put an opiate in it, for shortly after I had taken it I again felt drowsy, and was soon fast asleep. I awoke sooner than before, for it was night, and I heard the voice of Olivarez on deck; from what I gathered, land was in sight, and I heard him order the schooner to be hove-to. In the morning Ingram came down in the cabin, bringing me some breakfast, which I ate heartily, for I was recovering fast, and had become quite ravenous.
“Land is in sight,” said I.
“Yes, Sir, it is; but we are many miles to the northward of Rio, I understand, for Olivarez knows the coast well. We shall not be in to-day, if we are to-morrow.”
“I feel quite strong now,” replied I, “and I want to get up.”
“Do so, Sir,” said he; “but if you hear any one coming down the ladder get into bed again.”
With Ingram’s assistance I dressed myself, and went into the cabin. I reeled as I walked, but as soon as I felt the cool breeze from the stern-ports, I was revived, and in an hour I could walk quite strong.
“Have you heard any more?” inquired I of Ingram.
“Olivarez asked me this morning how you were. I replied that you were recovering fast.”
“‘Very well,’ said he, ‘you will share his fate, whatever it may be, since you have been so careful of him, and have put us in such a dilemma; but I’ll contrive to dispose of you both.’
“I made no reply, Sir, as I knew that would only irritate him.”
“You did right, Ingram; a few days will decide our fate. I do not think that he dares to murder us.”
“Nor do I think he wishes it, if he can be clear of us with safety to himself,” replied Ingram.
Two days more passed away, and then Ingram told me that we were a few miles from the town, and should soon be at anchor.
“Go softly,” replied I, “and tell me what is going on.”
He went up the ladder, but soon came down again, saying, “We are locked in, Sir.”
I was very much annoyed at this, but it could not be helped—our only remedy was patience; but I must confess that I was in a state of great anxiety. We heard the anchor let go, and boats came on board, after which all was silent for the night. The next morning we heard them open the hatches, and the slaves were ordered upon deck. The day was passed in landing them. I was ravenously hungry, and asked Ingram whether they intended to starve us. He went up the ladder to call for victuals, when he found on the upper step of the ladder a large vessel full of water and some cooked provisions, which had probably been put there during the night. There was enough to last two or three days. The next day passed and no one came near us, and I had some thoughts of dropping out of the stern-ports and attempting to swim on shore; but Ingram, who had put his head out of them as far as he could, told me that we must be at some distance from the shore, and there were several sharks playing round the stern, as is always the case with vessels laden with slaves.
The next morning, however, put an end to our suspense; for the companion was unlocked, and Olivarez, accompanied by four Portuguese, came down into the cabin, he spoke to them in Portuguese, and they advanced, and, seizing Ingram and me by the collar, led us up the ladder. I would have expostulated, but of course could not make myself understood. Olivarez, however, said:
“Resistance is useless, Mr. Musgrave; all you have to do is to go quietly with these men. As soon as the schooner has sailed, you will be released.”
“Well,” replied I, “it may be so, Olivarez; but mark my words, you will repent this, and I shall see you on a gibbet.”
“I trust the wood is not yet out of the ground,” replied he; “but I cannot waste any more words with you.”
He then spoke to the Portuguese, who appeared to be government officers of some kind, and they led us to the gangway; we went into the boat, and they pulled us to the shore. “Where can they be taking us, Ingram?” said I.
“Heaven knows, Sir, but we shall find out.”
I attempted to speak to the officers, but they cried “Silentio,” which word I fully understood to mean “silence,” and, finding that I could not induce them to hear me, I said no more. We landed at a jetty, and were then led through the streets to a large square. On one side of it was a heavy building, to which they directed their steps. The door was opened for us, and we were led in. A paper was produced by our conductors, and was apparently copied into a book, after which they went away, leaving us with the people who had received us, and who, by their appearance, I knew to be gaolers.
“Of what crime am I accused?” inquired I.
No reply was given, but two of the subordinates took us away, unlocked a massive door, and thrust us into a large court-yard, full of men of every colour.
“Well,” said I, as the door closed upon us, “we are in gaol at all events; but the question now is, shall we be released as Olivarez had stated?”
“It is hard to say,” replied Ingram. “The question is, what gaol is this? Could we find any one who could speak English, we might discover.”
Several of those around us had come towards us to examine us, and then left us, when, as we were conversing, a negro came up, and, hearing what we said, addressed us in English.
“Massa want one to speak English—I speak English—some long while on board English vessel.”
“Well, then, my good fellow,” said I, “can you tell us what this gaol is, and what prisoners are confined here for?”
“Yes, massa, everybody know that, suppose he live at Rio. This gaol for people that go dig diamonds.”
“How do you mean?”
“Mean! Massa—people sent here to work in diamond-mines all life long till they die. Keep ’em here till hab plenty to send up all at one time. Then guard take them up the country, and they go dig and wash for diamond. Suppose you find very big diamond, you go free. Suppose not, den you die there.”
“Merciful Heavens!” cried I to Ingram, “then we are condemned as slaves to the mines.”
“Yes,” replied Ingram with a sigh. “Well, it’s better than working in the quicksilver-mines. At all events, we shall have fresh air.”
“Fresh air, without liberty,” cried I, clasping my hands.
“Come, Sir, courage, we do not yet know our fate. Perhaps we may, as Olivarez said, be allowed to go free after the schooner sails.”
I shook my head, for I was convinced otherwise.
- Likely the boarding house whose landlady Erlington/Musgrave surprized in the act of dreaming about Captain Levee.
- Trevannion's merchant ships appear to be named following a certain pattern
- It is interesting that this is considered valuable enough to be mentioned with ivory and gold
- In this case, it refers to the mass of the articels taken in trade, not the monitary value, which is given later.
- About 950 000 GBP
- 21 000 pounds, or 2,825,171.81 GBP
- That is, they were now equals in the business
- Depending on her complete views, he father may have had reason to be annoyed with her opinions
- What sport, if any, this is referring to is not known
- This sentence is extremely confused
- Whether this is supposed to be a congratulatory or threatening one isn't obvious, likewise, Musgrave's response to it could be interpreted either way
- 1 pound one shilling, or 141.26 GBP
- Heat metaphorically referring to action, IE. Had a more active education then usual
- The massive South American country would not gain its independence from Portugal untill 1886, or about 60 years after this
- Probably via a [[w:sextant|]]
- What he's offering in trade is not known, nor if there is some trade-agreement between them
- What happens now? Does the other Liverpoolman get it in on the understanding he would remit it to Trevannion on arrival there?
- That's the second time he records someone being so "saluted", this may have been standard nautical terminology
- What miasma he fears is unknown
- This is rather suggestive of w:William Hogarth's "[[w:Industry and Idleness|]]" in which the idle apprentice was apprenticed to a weaver and did such a bad job of it that his master expelled him and sent him to sea