The Annotated "Privateersman"/Chapter XVII-2
I did so, and the first-lieutenant took the paper, and went into the cabin. In a minute he returned, and requested me to follow him. I did so, and in another minute I was in the arms of my brother. For some time we neither of us could speak. At last Philip said, “That you are alive and well let me thank Heaven. I have considered you as dead, and so have others; and to find you on board of a pirate—on board of a vessel which I have been riddling with shot, any one of which might have caused your death! Thank God I was ignorant that you were on board, or I never could have done my duty. I will not ask how you came on board of this vessel, for that must be the end of your narrative, which I must have from the time that you first left Rio, and afterwards in detail the whole from the time that you left the Coast.”
“Then they received my letters from Rio?”
“Yes, after imagining you were dead, they were rejoiced by those letters; but I will not anticipate my story, nor will I now ask for yours; it is sufficient at present that you are alive, my dear Alexander, and once more in my arms.”
“Let me ask one question,” replied I.
“I know what it will be. She was in good health, but suffering much in mind from having no account of you. Her father and others have reasoned with her, and painted the impossibility of your being in existence, as the xebeque you sailed in had never been heard of. She still adheres to the opinion that you are alive, and will not abandon the hope of seeing you again; but hope deferred has paled her cheek even more pale than it usually is, and she evidently suffers much, for her life is wrapped in yours. Now, having told you this, you must come into my state-room, and allow me to enable you to appear as my brother ought to do. I do not think that there is any difference in our size now although there was when we last parted.”
“Many thanks, Philip, but before I adonise my outward man I should wish to satisfy my inward cravings; and, to tell you the truth, I’m so hungry from not having broken my fast for nearly twenty-four hours, that if you could order something to eat while you are looking out the clothes, I should feel in no small degree grateful.”
Philip rang the bell and ordered the steward to bring something to eat and drink, and after eating I occupied a quarter of an hour more in getting rid of the pirate smoke and dirt, and putting on one of his uniforms, for he had no other clothes on board, when I came out looking not at all like a pirate.
“Now, then,” said Philip, “before we have our tête-à-tête, come out with me, and let me introduce you to the officers as my brother.”
I went out with him, and was formally introduced. The first-lieutenant apologised for his rough speech, but I told him that there was no occasion for any apology, as I had no doubt that I looked very much like a pirate at the time.
“More than you do now, Sir, at all events,” replied he.
“By the bye, brother,” said I, “there is one man among the prisoners who, although compelled to act as captain by the men, is no pirate. His conduct I will explain to you. May I request him to be kindly treated? His name is Toplift—and also two Portuguese, my former companions.”
“Certainly,” replied Philip, “your word is sufficient. Let those persons be released and taken care of,” said he to the first-lieutenant. “We will wait for the particulars by-and-by.”
I remained on deck about ten minutes, and then returned to the cabin with my brother.
“What is this which you have left on my dressing-table?” said Philip, surveying the leather bag which contained the diamond.
“That, Philip,” said I, “is a portion of my narrative, and eventually may prove a very important one. I don’t think that I can afford to make you a present of it, but I shall see.”
“It does not look very valuable,” replied he.
“At all events, do me the favour to lock it up carefully,” replied I.
“Well, if you are in earnest I will,” he said, and having put it in a drawer and locked it up, he said, “Now, Alexander, let me have your history.”
I commenced, and told him all that the reader is now acquainted with. Dinner broke off my narrative, and as soon as it was over I resumed it. When I had finished, he expressed his astonishment, and asked many questions. Among others he said, “And that little wretch Peleg, the captain of the Transcendant’s son, is he on board?”
“I have not seen him,” replied I, “and therefore presume that he was not able to move, and went down in the schooner.” Which was the case.
“You have indeed told me a strange tale,” said Philip, “and you have had some extraordinary escapes. You must have a charmed life, and you appear to have been preserved to prove that Amy’s persuasion of your being still alive was just and well-founded; and now it is my turn to talk, and yours to listen. When I left you as lieutenant of Captain Levee’s schooner, we very shortly afterwards had an action with a Spanish vessel of very superior force, for she mounted thirty guns. Having no chance with her, from her superior weight of metal, we threw ourselves on her bow and boarded. The Spaniards did not relish this kind of close fighting, and gave us immediate possession of their deck. Captain Levee, when he brought in his prize, was appointed to a frigate of thirty-six guns, and I followed him as his first-lieutenant. We had another combat with a vessel of equal force, in which we were the victors, and I was sent in the prize. Captain Levee wrote very kindly in my behalf and I was made a captain, and given the command of a small brig. But let me first finish with Captain Levee. He captured a galleon, which gave him a large fortune, and he then gave up the command of his ship, and went on shore, telling me in a letter that he had hitherto squandered away all his money, but now that he had got so much, he intended to keep it. He has done so, for he has purchased a large landed property, is married, and, I believe, is very happy.”
“He deserves it,” replied I; “and long may he be so.”
“Well, to continue. I was sent out on this station, and, having information that the vessel which you are now on board of was at anchor in a bay close to the Havannah, I ran in and reconnoitred. She hoisted Spanish colours, and I did the same. It fell calm, and I lay about four miles outside. I was mistaken for another Spanish vessel, and the captain of this vessel, or, to speak correctly, the Spanish captain of the Spanish brig, came out to see me, and did not discover his mistake till he was on board. I detained him and his boat’s crew. It continued calm till the evening, when the breeze sprung up, and I put the head of the brig right for the bay, as if I were going to anchor. The breeze being light, it was dark before I got in and alongside this vessel. They were completely surprised, for they imagined that their captain was dining with his old friend, and, having no idea that we were anything but Spanish, had not the least preparation for resistance. We had possession of her decks before they could seize their arms, and I brought her out without any one knowing that she had been captured. On my arrival, the admiral gave me the command of her, which I have held for nine months; but she is very defective, and I was ordered home, and should have sailed, had it not been that that scoundrel, the captain of the Transcendant, gave me the information which induced me to come round to the back of the island. Little did I think what happiness awaited me. So much for myself. Do not think me an egotist for speaking of myself, I am only clearing away the less important information to arrive at that which most interests you. The Amy arrived safe with her valuable cargo. The captain reported that he had remained at the rendezvous until blown off by a sort of hurricane, and that, finding himself a long way off, he considered, when the gale had ceased, that he was not justified in remaining with so valuable a cargo, but was bound to make the best of his way to Liverpool. He was right, and his conduct was approved of by Mr. Trevannion, who looked for your arrival every hour. At last a week passed away and you did not make your appearance, and great alarm was entertained for your safety. The weeks grew into months, and it was supposed that you had been upset in the same hurricane which had driven the Amy so far off from her rendezvous. The poor girl Whyna was, as you may suppose, kindly received by Mr. Trevannion and his daughter, and soon gained their affection; but she pined for your return, and when she was told that you were dead she never recovered it. The climate certainly did not agree with her, and she contracted a very bad cough during the winter, but I believe from my heart that it was your loss which affected her the most severely. After she had been about eighteen months in England, she fell into a consumption and died.”
“Poor Whyna!” said I, with a sigh.
“Alexander,” said Philip, “perhaps it was all for the best, for that poor girl loved you sincerely, and, supposing that she was now still alive and living with Miss Trevannion, and on your return your marriage should (which, of course, unless Heaven decrees otherwise, it will) take place, that poor creature would have been very unhappy; and although the idea of her being a rival to Miss Trevannion is something which may appear absurd to us, yet she had the same feelings, and must have endured the same pangs, as any other woman, let her colour be what it may. I think, therefore, that her removal was a blessing and a happy dispensation. I saw Mr. Trevannion and his daughter but once previous to their receiving your letters from Rio, acquainting them with your misfortunes and happy deliverance from slavery. They were both very dejected, and Mr. Trevannion talked of retiring from business, and living upon his property near Liverpool. As I corresponded regularly with Amy, I learnt that he had done so, and had just wound up his affairs when your letters arrived from Rio with an order on the Portuguese Exchequer for a considerable sum. I hardly need say that the joy occasioned by this intelligence was great. Amy recovered her good looks, and her father bitterly lamented his having retired from business, as he had wished to have made the whole over to you. The money you remitted from Rio he considered as your own, and he also set apart your share of the business from the time that you were admitted as a partner. He was not aware that you could carry a diamond of such immense value about your person, exposed to the view of every one; among Indians, settlers, and pirates. That my delight was equal to theirs you will, I am sure, give me credit to believe; and although I was obliged to sail for the West Indies, every day I anticipated receiving a letter informing me of your arrival in England. Judge then my distress at first receiving letters stating that you had not been heard of for three months after your leaving Rio, and expressions of fear that some accident had happened, and then month after month many more and more desponding letters, in which Mr. Trevannion plainly stated that the xebeque must have foundered; and only Amy clinging to the hope that you were still alive. I acknowledge that I considered you dead, and you may therefore imagine my surprise and delight when your signature on the slip of paper proved that you were not only in existence, but on board of the same vessel with me.”
Such was the narrative of my brother Philip in return for mine, and it was late at night when we parted. Oh! How sincerely did I pray that night, thanking heaven for all its mercies, and entreating that the cup might not be again dashed from my lips. When I arose next morning I found that Philip was on deck, and I followed him.
“We shall soon be in Port Royal with this wind,” said he, “and I hope to find the admiral still there.”
I had some conversation with the officers, and then went below to see Toplift. He was in his hammock, for he had much fever and suffered from his wound, but the surgeon said that he would do well.
“Toplift,” said I, “you must keep your mind at ease, for my brother has promised me that you shall not be tried with the others, and has no doubt that when he explains the whole to the admiral you will be thanked for your service.”
“Thanked!” said Toplift, “if I am not hanged, I shall be fortunate enough.”
“No fear of that,” replied I, “so keep your mind easy and get well as fast as you can.”
“Well then, Sir, you have saved my life, at all events, for had you not come on board, no one would have ever spoken for me, or believed that I was not a pirate in heart like all the others, except the two Portuguese.”
“If necessary, they will be evidence in your favour, but I do not think any evidence will be required except mine, and that will be sufficient with the admiral. I promised you that you should never want the means of getting your livelihood, and I repeat that promise now.”
“Thank you, Sir,” replied he, and I then left him and went up to the cabin to breakfast.
The following day we were at anchor at Port Royal; my brother reported what had occurred, and the admiral sent for all the pirate prisoners except Toplift, whose case was so fully represented by me and my brother, that he was permitted to go at large, and to take a passage home to England free of expense if he wished it. It is hardly necessary to say that Toplift accepted this offer, and remained in the vessel with me. The two Portuguese were also liberated. Three days after our arrival we sailed for England, and after a quick run of between five and six weeks, we anchored at Spithead. My brother could not leave his ship, and I therefore requested him to write to Liverpool, stating that he had intelligence of me, and that I was alive; that I had been wrecked and had fallen into the hands of the Indians near the English settlements in Virginia, and that I had escaped and was, he believed, at James Town.
I considered it wise to make a communication like this at first, as too sudden an announcement might be dangerous to one in so weak a state of health as Philip stated my Amy to be from the letter he had received from her father. I remained with him at Portsmouth until the reply came. Mr. Trevannion wrote and told Philip that his communication had, as it were, raised his daughter from the grave—as she had fallen into a state of profound melancholy, which nothing could remove—that he had very cautiously introduced the subject, and by degrees told her what was reported, and eventually, when he found that she was more composed, that he had put Philip’s letter into her hand.
He concluded that he trusted that I would arrive, and soon, for if any accident was now to happen to me it would be the death of his daughter, who had not strength enough left to bear another reverse. At my request Philip then wrote that he had received a letter from a brother officer stating that I was well and safe on board, and that they would be in England a few days after the receipt of the letter.
Leaving directions to Philip how to proceed, I now went off to London, and, having fitted myself out with every requisite of dress and toilet, I called upon a celebrated Jew diamond merchant and showed him my diamond, requesting that he would weigh it and then estimate its value. He was much astonished at the sight of such a stone, as well he might be, and after weighing it and examining it he pronounced it worth £47,000, provided a purchaser could be found for an article of such value.
I told him that I was not a merchant, and could not be travelling about to show the diamond to crowned heads; but if he would give me a liberal price for it, I would abate a great deal, that he might dispose of it to his own advantage, he requested that he might call upon me with two of his friends, that they might see the diamond and consult with him; and then he would give me an answer. We fixed the time for twelve o’clock on the following day, and I took my leave.
The next day he called at the time appointed, accompanied by two gentlemen of his own persuasion. They weighed the stone again very carefully, examined it in the light of a powerful lamp to ascertain its water, and to see if there were any flaws in it, calculated the reduction of weight which would take place in cutting it, and, after a consultation, I was offered £38,000. I considered this an offer that I ought not to refuse, and I closed with them. The next day the affair was settled. I received money and bills on government to the amount, and wrote to Philip telling him what had taken place. Strange that from two slaves in the mines I should have received such valuable legacies; from poor Ingram a diamond worth so much money, and from the other Englishman a tattered Bible which made me a sincere Christian—a legacy in comparison of which the diamond was as dross.
Philip replied to my letter congratulating me on the sale of the diamond, and informing me that to his letter he had received a reply containing so satisfactory an account of Amy’s restored health, that he had written to tell them that I had arrived safe in England, and would be very soon with them. He recommended my going immediately, as the anxiety and suspense would be very injurious to Amy’s health. I therefore made every arrangement for my departure, purchased horses, and procured four stout serving-men, well armed, to accompany me, and wrote a letter, which I sent by an express courier, stating the exact day which I expected to arrive at Mr. Trevannion’s country-seat.
I waited in London two days to wind up all my affairs, and to give time for the express to arrive before me, as I intended to travel very fast. My stay in London was the occasion of an important discovery. I was at the coffee-house at Saint Paul’s, and was talking with one of Captain Levee’s officers, with whom I had picked up an acquaintance, when, on his calling me by the name of Musgrave, a pinched-up sort of looking personage, in a black suit, who was standing at the bay-window, turned round, and coming up to me said, “Sir, as a stranger I must apologise, but hearing your friend call you by the name of Musgrave, may I venture to ask if you are any relative to Sir Richard Musgrave, Baronet, who lived in Cumberland?”
“Lived, did you say, Sir? Is he then dead?”
“Yes, Sir; he has been dead these last seven months, and we are looking out for his heir and cannot find him.”
“I knew the family very well,” replied I, “for I am connected with it. His eldest son, Richard, of course, must be his heir, as all the estates are entailed.”
“His eldest son, Richard, Sir, is dead. We have authenticated documents to prove that; and, moreover, his second son, Charles, is also dead. He came home very ill and died, not at his father’s house, but at the house of one of his tenants on the estate. It is his third son, Alexander Musgrave, whom we seek, and seek in vain. He is now the heir to the baronetcy and estates, but we have lost all clue to him. We understand that a Captain Philip Musgrave is just arrived from the West Indies. He is, we presume, the fourth son. But until we can find out what has become of Alexander Musgrave, and whether he is dead or alive, we cannot act. I have written this day to Captain Musgrave, requesting any information he can give, but have received no answer. I presume, Sir, it is useless to inquire of you?”
“Not exactly, Sir, for I am the Alexander Musgrave you seek.”
“Indeed, Sir, but what proof have you of your identity to offer to us?”
“The evidence of my brother, Captain Philip Musgrave, in whose ship I have just arrived from the West Indies; that his answer to your letter will be satisfactory enough, I have no doubt. Here is a letter from him to me, in which you see he addresses me ‘dear Alexander,’ and concludes with ‘your affectionate brother, Philip Musgrave.’”
“This is indeed satisfactory, Sir,” replied the gentleman, “and I have only to receive an answer from your brother to make all right and clear. Allow me, Sir, to congratulate you upon your accession to the title and property. I presume you will have no objection, as soon as the necessary proofs are obtained, to accompany me down to Cumberland, where I doubt not, you will be recognised by many.”
“Of that, Sir, I have not the slightest doubt,” replied I, “but I cannot go down with you to Cumberland at present. I leave London for Liverpool the day after to-morrow on important business, and cannot disappoint the parties.”
“Well, Sir, it must indeed be an important business which will prevent you from taking possession of a title and £4000 per annum,” replied he; “but here is my address, and I hope I shall hear from you as soon as possible, as I shall remain in town till I can bring the heir down with me.”
The man now looked as if he doubted me. He could not imagine that I could neglect the taking possession of the estate for any other business, and it did appear singular, so I said to him, “Sir, I have been long out of England, and am affianced to a young lady who lives near Liverpool. She has been waiting to hear from me for some time, and I have sent an express to say that I will be with her on such a day. I cannot disappoint her, and I tell you more, that, without I possess her, the possession of the title and estates will give me very little pleasure.”
“Sir,” replied he, making a bow, “I honour your sentiments, and she must be a worthy lady who can inspire such feelings. I only hope that you will not remain too long at Liverpool, as London is expensive, and I am anxious to return to Cumberland.”
I then wished the gentleman farewell, and went home to my lodgings. I had given him my address in case he wanted to see me before my departure.
The next day I received a letter from Philip enclosing the one written to him by this gentleman, whose name was Campbell, and who was a lawyer. Philip told me what reply he had made to him, and congratulated me on my accession to the title and estates. Almost an hour afterwards Mr. Campbell called upon me with Philip’s letter, which he declared to be highly satisfactory, and sufficient in any court of justice.
“But,” said he, “I would wish to ask you a few particulars.”
“And I also would wish to make a few inquiries, Mr. Campbell. I have heard your name in my youth, although I cannot recollect ever having seen you.”
“I was the confidential adviser of your father at one time, Sir,” replied he, “but latterly all intercourse had ceased; it was not until he was on his death-bed, and fully repented the foolish step which he had taken, and the injustice he had been guilty of, that he sent for me,—much to the annoyance of Lady Musgrave, who would have prevented me from coming into the house even when I arrived, had it not been for the servants, who disobeyed her.”
“And my sisters, Sir, Janet and Mabel?”
“Are both well, and have grown up very fine girls. Your father destroyed the deed by which Lady Musgrave was to have had a large jointure upon the estate, and she is now entirely dependent upon you for what she may receive. When do you expect to be able to come up from Liverpool?”
“I can hardly say, but of course as soon as I can.”
“Well, Sir, my own affairs will require my presence in the metropolis for a month. In the mean time, although I should have preferred to have gone down with you to Faristone Hall, and have at once put you in possession, yet affairs may remain as they are (for everything is under seal, and Lady Musgrave has been compelled to remove) till it suits your convenience. I shall, however, write to let them know that you have been found and will soon come down and take possession.”
Mr. Campbell then asked me a few questions, to which I replied satisfactorily, and then for the first time he saluted me with my title, saying, “Sir Alexander, I will now take my leave.”
The next morning I set off on my journey, and travelled with as much speed as the horses would permit. I arrived on the fifth day at Mr. Trevannion’s seat, about nine miles from Liverpool. As I rode up the avenue of chestnut trees, I perceived a female form looking out from an upper window, which soon afterwards made a precipitate retreat. I alighted, and was received at the door in the embrace of Mr. Trevannion, who welcomed me with tears, and taking me by the hand he led me into an apartment where I found my adored Amy, who threw herself into my arms and wept as if her heart would break; but her sobs were the sobs of joy, and when she did raise her head and look at me, it was with eyes beaming with pleasure, and with smiles upon her beautiful lips. I clasped her to my bosom, and felt that I was more than repaid for all I had suffered, and my heart was throbbing with gratitude and love.
It was some time before we could sufficiently compose ourselves to enter into lengthened conversation, and then Amy inquired what had occurred to me to occasion such lengthened absence. We sat down on a sofa, and with Amy on one side of me and her father on the other I entered into my narrative.
“And so you have been married since we last heard from you?” said Amy, smiling, when I had finished my history.
“Yes,” replied I, “I have been; but I hope I shall treat my second wife a little better than I did my first.”
“I hope so too,” replied Amy; “but I have great fear that your Virginian mistress may come over and claim you.”
“I do not think that likely. From the Indians having followed me to the beach, they must have fallen in with her.”
“And what do you think became of her?”
“Of course I cannot exactly say; but I presume she died gallantly, and fought with her axe to the last.”
That evening I had a long conversation with Mr. Trevannion. He told me what he had done with the money, which he considered as mine, and I put into his care the sum I had received for the diamond. I then spoke to him about our marriage, and requested that it might not be postponed.
“My dear Musgrave,” said he, “my daughter’s happiness so depends upon her union with you, that I can only say I am willing that it should take place to-morrow. For yourself you know that I have the highest esteem, and that you must be convinced of when I have consented to the match without even making inquiry as to your family and connexions. Now, however, is the time that I should wish to have some information about them.”
“My dear Sir, if you will only make inquiries, you will find that the family of Musgrave is one of the most highly connected in the north, and that the head of it is, or was, a Sir Richard Musgrave, Baronet, of Faristone Hall, in Cumberland. I am a near relative of his, as I can satisfactorily prove.”
“That is sufficient,” replied Mr. Trevannion. “I shall leave you to plead your cause with Amy to-morrow; so now, good night.”
The following day I told Amy that, since my arrival in England, I had heard of the death of my father, and that it was necessary that I should go to the north, as family affairs required my presence.
“Are you serious?” replied she.
“Never more so in my life. My presence is absolutely necessary, and I made arrangements with the legal adviser of our family that I would be there in less than a month.”
“It is a long journey,” said Mr. Trevannion, “and how long do you stay?”
“That I cannot possibly say,” replied I; “but not longer than I can help.”
“I do not think that I shall let you go,” said Amy; “you are not to be trusted out of sight. You are so born for adventure that you will not be heard of again for another two years.”
“Such is my misfortune, I grant,” replied I; “but, Amy, you look pale and thin; change of air would do you much service. Suppose you and your father were to come with me. Indeed, Mr. Trevannion, I am in earnest. At this delightful time of the year nothing would prove so beneficial to her health; and, Amy, then, you know, that I shall not be out of your sight.”
“I should like the tour very much,” replied she, “but—”
“I know what you would say. You do not like the idea of travelling with me as Amy Trevannion. You are right. Then let me propose that you travel with me as Amy Musgrave.”
“I second that proposal,” said Mr. Trevannion.
“Consent, Amy; let our marriage be quite private. I know you will prefer that it should be so, and so will your father. You will then travel with me as my wife, and we never shall part again.”
Amy did not reply till her father said, “Amy, it is my wish that it should be so. Recollect it will be the last time that you have to obey your father, so do not annoy me by a refusal.”
“I will not, my dear father,” replied Amy, kissing him. “Your last command I obey with pleasure. And oh! If I have sometimes been a wilful girl, forgive me everything at this moment.”
“My dear child, I have nothing to forgive. May God bless you; and, Mr. Musgrave,” said he, putting her hand in mine, “if she proves as good a wife as she has been a daughter, you now receive a treasure,” and I felt that the old man stated what was true.
It was arranged that the marriage should take place on that day week, and that it should be quite private. There was no parade of bridal clothes; in fact, no one was invited, and it was, at my request, quite a secret marriage. A clergyman had been engaged to perform the ceremony, and, on the day appointed, I received the hand of my Amy in the drawing-room, and in the presence only of Humphrey and two other confidential servants.
After the ceremony was over, the clergyman requested me to come with him into the adjoining room, and said, “it was necessary that he should give a certificate of the marriage, which must be inserted in the parish register.” He had called me aside for that purpose, that I might give him my exact name, profession, etcetera.
“My name is Alexander Musgrave, as you have heard when you married us.”
“Yes, I know that, but I must be particular. Have you no other name? Is that the name that you have been and will be in future known by?”
“Not exactly,” replied I; “I have been known by that name, but in future shall not be.”
“Then what am I to say?”
“You must say, Sir Alexander Musgrave, Baronet, of Faristone Hall, Cumberland.”
“Good,” said he, “that is what I required; and the lady your wife, has she any other name but Amy?”
“None, I believe.”
The clergyman then wrote out the marriage certificate and signed it, taking a copy for registry, and we returned into the drawing-room.
“Here is the certificate of marriage, Madam,” said he; “it ought to be in the care of the lady, and therefore, my lady, I hand it over to you.”
“My lady is much obliged to you for your kindness,” replied Amy, for she thought that the clergymen was only facetious.
She held the certificate in her hand folded as it had been given her for some time. At last curiosity, or, perhaps, having nothing else to do, induced her to open it and read it. I was at this time talking with the clergyman, and presenting him with a handsome douceur for his trouble; but, perceiving her to open the certificate, I watched her countenance. She read and started. I turned away as if not observing her. She then went up to her father and desired him to read it.
The old gentleman took out his glasses, and it was amusing to see the way in which he looked at his daughter with his spectacles falling off his nose. He then came up, and pointing to the certificate said, “Pray how am I in future to address my daughter?”
“As Amy, I trust, Sir, unless you wish to scold her, and then you must call her Lady Musgrave. I am, my dear Sir, as the certificate states, Sir Alexander Musgrave, of Faristone, with a handsome property descended to me. I did not know it till I arrived in London; and if I concealed it from you till now, it was only that; my Amy should have the satisfaction of proving to me that she wedded me in pure disinterestedness of affection.”
“It was very, very kind of you, Alexander, to do as you have done, and I thank you sincerely for it.”
“And now, my dear Amy, you understand why I wished you to come with me to Cumberland, that you may take possession of your future abode, and assume that position in society which you will so much grace. I trust, Sir,” continued I, “that you will not part from us, and that one roof will always cover us, as long as Heaven thinks fit to spare our lives.”
“May God bless you both,” replied Mr. Trevannion, “I cannot part with you, and must follow.”
About half an hour after this, I requested Amy and Mr. Trevannion to sit by me, as I had now another narrative to give them, which was an explanation why and how it was that they found me in the position that they had done; in short, what were the causes that induced me, and afterwards my brother Philip, to quit our parental roof, and to come to the resolution of fighting our own way in the world. It was as follows:
“Sir Richard Musgrave, my father, married a young lady of high connexion, a Miss Arabella Johnson, and with her lived, I have every reason to believe, a very happy life for nearly twenty-five years, when it pleased God to summon her away. I have a good recollection of my mother; for although I lived with my brother at a private tutor’s, about six miles off, I was continually at home, and she did not die till I was nearly sixteen; and I can only say that a more elegant, amiable, and truly virtuous woman, as I believe, never existed. By this marriage my father had four sons and two daughters; Richard, the eldest; Charles, the second; myself, the third; and Philip, the fourth; and my sisters, who came last, were named Janet and Mabel. At the time of my mother’s death, my eldest brother was serving with the army, which he had entered from a love of the profession, although, as heir to the baronetcy and estates, which are a clear £4000 per annum, he of course had no occasion for a profession. My second brother, Charles, being of an adventurous turn, had gone out to the East Indies in a high position, as servant to the Company. I was still at home, as well as Philip, who is four years my junior, and my sisters were of course at home. I pass over my regrets at my mother’s death, and will now speak more of my father. He was a good-tempered, weak man, easily led, and although, during my mother’s lifetime, he was so well led that it was of little consequence, the case proved very different at her death. For a year my father remained quiet in the house, content with superintending his improvements on his property, and he had lately become infirm, and had given up the hounds and rural sports in general. The dairy was one of his principal hobbies; and it so happened that a young girl, the daughter of a labourer, was one of the females employed in that part of the establishment. She was certainly remarkably good-looking; her features were very small, and she did not show that robust frame which people in her class of life generally do. She was about seventeen years old, slight in figure, and certainly a person that you would not pass without making some commendatory remark upon her good looks and modest appearance. She was not, however, what she appeared; she was beyond measure cunning and astute, and, as it proved, inordinately ambitious. My father, who was naturally of an amorous disposition, was attracted by her, and very soon was constantly in the dairy, and his attentions were so marked, that the other servants used to call her ‘my lady.’ A few months after my father had shown a preference for this girl, he was seized with his first attack of gout. It did not last him long, and in six weeks he was about again, and resumed his attentions to her. Philip and I, who were at our tutor’s, when we came home, heard from others what was going on, and very foolishly played the girl many tricks, and annoyed her as much as we could. After we returned, my father had another fit of gout, and when he was confined to his room, he desired this girl to be sent for to attend upon him. I cannot say what took place, but this is certain, that my father’s unfortunate passion became so great, and I presume the girl’s ambition rose in proportion, that about six months afterwards this daughter of a menial was raised to the dignity of Lady Musgrave—she being at that time about eighteen, and my father verging on seventy.
“When this ill-assorted and disgraceful connexion was known, the gentry and aristocracy of the country refused any longer to visit my father, and all communication was broken off. In a short time the ascendency which this artful girl gained over the old man was most wonderful. He lived but in her sight, and knew no will but hers. Her father and family were removed to a good house in the neighbourhood, and gave themselves all the airs of gentlepeople. The good old steward was dismissed, and her father established in his room, although the man could not read or write, and was wholly unfit for the office. The expense which she launched out into, by his permission, was excessive. New liveries, new coaches, diamonds, and dresses fit for the court—indeed, every kind of luxury that could be conceived, and much greater than my father could afford. She now showed herself in her true colours; vindictive and tyrannical to excess, she dismissed all the old servants, and oppressed all those to whom she owed a grudge; yet my poor father could see nothing but perfection in her. It was not till four months after the marriage that Philip and I came home, and our new step-mother had not forgotten our treatment of her. She treated us with great harshness, refused our taking meals at my father’s table, and ordered us the coarsest fare; and when we complained to my father, denied everything that we said. As we found that we could not induce our father to listen to us or to believe us, we tried all we could, and retaliated and annoyed her as much, if not more, than she annoyed us, by talking of her mean origin and her former occupation; we defied her, and, in so doing, we ruined ourselves; for, after a useless struggle on my father’s part, he gave way to her imperious commands, and sending for me told me that I had become such a reprobate that I was no longer a son of his. He threw me a purse, telling me that it was all I might expect from him, and that I was instantly to leave the house, and never show my face in it any more. I replied, with more spirit than respect, that it was high time that the son of a gentleman and lady should leave the house, when such low-born creatures were installed in it as the mistress. My father, in a rage, flung his crutch at my head, and I left the room.
“As I went out I met her in the passage; she had evidently been listening to what had passed, and she was full of exultation.
“‘It is your turn now, you she-devil,’ said I, in my rage; ‘but wait till my father dies. You shall go a-milking again.’
“I do not mean to defend my conduct, but I was then not seventeen, and that must be my excuse. I little thought, when I said so, that it would be from my hands that she would have to receive bounty; but so it is, as Mr. Campbell informs me that my father destroyed, previous to his death, the papers which he had signed to secure her a large jointure on the estate. I set off with my wardrobe and the purse of twenty guineas, which my father had given me, and, having a desire to see the world, I went on board of a merchant vessel. Six months afterwards, when we were at Liverpool, I went on board of a privateer. The remainder of my history you are already acquainted with.
“As soon as she had wreaked her vengeance upon me, my brother Philip was the next; but he was too young at that time to be turned adrift, so she put it off till the time should come, irritating and weaning my father from him by every means in her power. Three years afterwards she succeeded in having him dismissed, also, and you know how I found him out. All these circumstances were very well-known in the neighbourhood and to our own relations; and one only, my aunt, called upon my father, and, after a long conversation, my father consented that my sisters should go away, and remain under her charge. My step-mother’s violent temper, her exactions, her imperious conduct, which was now shown even towards him, with what my aunt had advanced, had to a certain extent opened my father’s eyes. He perceived that she had no other view but her own aggrandisement, and that she cared little for him. Her repeated attempts, however, to make him sign in her favour, in case of his death, were successful, and it was not till after her conduct had alienated him from her, and he deplored the loss of his children, that he committed the deed to the flames. About three years after I had quitted the house, my eldest brother, who had information of all that had passed, and who remained in the army because he declared that he never would go home till after his father’s death, was killed by a cannon-ball; and my second brother died of a fever about a year ago, when resident at the court of a native prince. I had heard nothing of these deaths, or of my father’s, until my arrival in London; of course, I was most anxious to go down to Cumberland, if it were only to undo the wickedness which this woman had done, and to make amends to those whom she had so cruelly treated. I do not feel any spirit of revenge, but I feel that justice demands it of me.”
“And I shall go with you with pleasure, to help you in your good work,” said Amy, “and also because I want to see how she will now behave to one whom she has so persecuted, and who has become the arbiter of her fate.”
“Well, Amy, I will not trust myself on this question. You shall be the arbitress of her fate, and what you decide shall be irrevocable.”
“I fully appreciate the compliment you pay me,” said she, “but I prefer that it should be decided in council, and we will call in my father to our assistance.”
A fortnight after our marriage, we set off for London, in a coach with six handsome black horses, and eight armed servants in liveries on horseback. We arrived safely on the seventh day, and there we reposed for a time previous to setting out for Cumberland. My aunt was in London and attending the court, which I was not aware of, and with her were my two sisters, Janet and Mabel, whom I had not seen for years, and who warmly embraced me, promising that they would soon come down and take up their abode at the hall. They expressed their admiration of Amy, but, in so doing, they only followed the general opinion, for it was impossible to see and not admire her elegance and beauty. My aunt showed us every attention, and we were presented to his Majesty, who was pleased to compliment Lady Musgrave in very flattering terms. We were joined in London by my brother Philip, who had paid off his ship, and the day after he joined us I said:
“Philip, there are only you and I left. Do you recollect when you inquired about the diamond, the day we met on board of your ship, what reply I made to you?”
“Yes; you said that you were afraid that you could not afford to make me a present of it.”
“At that time I did not think so, Philip, but now I know that I can, and I have desired Mr. Trevannion to put out to good security the £38,000 that the diamond was sold for, in your name, and for your use. You’ll not hesitate to accept it, Philip, for you know that I can afford it.”
“I do not hesitate, my dear Alexander, because I would do the same to you, and you would not refuse me. At the same time, that is no reason that I should not thank you kindly for your generous behaviour.”
Philip accompanied us on our journey to Cumberland. It was tedious, for the roads were anything but good, but the beauty of the scenery compensated for the ruggedness of the way. In six days we arrived at the Hall, where Mr. Campbell, who had called upon me on my arrival in London, had preceded me to make preparations for our reception, which was enthusiastic to the highest degree. We were called upon and congratulated by all the county, who were delighted to find that such a personage as Amy was to be the future mistress.
As soon as all this bustle and excitement was over, I sat down with Mr. Campbell to look over the state of affairs, and to set things to rights.
After having done justice to many claimants, engaged again the old servants that had been discharged, promised farms to the tenants who had been unfairly turned out, etcetera, we then proceeded to decide upon what was to be done to the Dowager Lady Musgrave. It appears that at my father’s death, when she found that the deed had been destroyed by his own hands in presence of others, she became frantic with rage, and immediately hastened to secure the family jewels, and every article of value that she could lay her hands upon, but Mr. Campbell, having due notice of what she was about, came in time to prevent her taking them away, and, putting seals upon everything and leaving careful guards in the Hall, my lady had gone to her father’s house, where she still remained. She had, on my arrival, sent me a message, imploring my mercy, and reminding me that whatever might be her errors, she was still the lawful wife of my father, and she trusted that respect to his memory would induce me to allow her sufficient to maintain her as Lady Musgrave should be. We had the consultation that Amy proposed, and called in Mr. Campbell as a fourth, and it was at last decided, that, on consideration that she removed with her family to a distance of fifty miles from Faristone, she should have an income of £300 per annum, as long as she conducted herself with propriety and did not marry again. The last clause was the only one which she complained of. Mr. Campbell had, at the request of my father, discharged Lady Musgrave’s parent from the office of steward and called in the old steward to resume his situation, and before dismissal he had to refund certain sums of money not accounted for.
I have now told my eventful tale; I have only to add, that after all that I have passed through I have been rewarded by many years of unalloyed happiness. My two sisters are well married, and my three children are all that a father could wish. Such, my dear Madam, have been the vicissitudes of a “Privateersman” and I now subscribe myself,
Your most obedient,
- Did they find him floating in the water later, or just call the roll and assume he was lost because he didn't show up
- Possible anti-Spanish scurrility
- Philip, and Marryat, are being unusually tolerant for their age and ages
- And an awfully convenient one, perhaps the poorest exit of any major character of the story
- How did Philip find out about this?
- 6,323,003.57 GBP
- Not sure if this indicated two other diamond merchants or two other Jews
- 5,112,215.65 GBP
- 538,127.96 GBP
- Literally, in both ways, "out of her order (in life)"
- 40,359.60 GBP