James Fenimore Cooper.

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Homeward Bound;
or, The Chase.

A Tale of the Sea.

By J. Fenimore Cooper.


"Is 't not strange, Canidius.
That from Tarentum and Brundusium
He could so quickly cut the Ionian Sea,
and take in Toryne." - SHAKSPEARE.


Complete in One Volume.

New Edition.

NEW YORK:
Published by Hurd and Houghton,
Cambridge: Riverside Press.
1871




Homeward Bound.




Preface.



In one respect, this book is a parallel to Franklin's well-known apologue
of the hatter and his sign. It was commenced with a sole view to exhibit
the present state of society in the United States, through the agency, in
part, of a set of characters with different peculiarities, who had freshly
arrived from Europe, and to whom the distinctive features of the country
would be apt to present themselves with greater force, than to those who
had never lived beyond the influence of the things portrayed. By the
original plan, the work was to open at the threshold of the country, or
with the arrival of the travellers at Sandy Hook, from which point the
tale was to have been carried regularly forward to its conclusion. But a
consultation with others has left little more of this plan than the
hatter's friends left of his sign. As a vessel was introduced in the first
chapter, the cry was for "more ship," until the work has become "all
ship;" it actually closing at, or near, the spot where it was originally
intended it should commence. Owing to this diversion from the author's
design - a design that lay at the bottom of all his projects - a necessity
has been created of running the tale through two separate works, or of
making a hurried and insufficient conclusion. The former scheme has,
consequently, been adopted.

It is hoped that the interest of the narrative will not be essentially
diminished by this arrangement.

There will be, very likely, certain imaginative persons, who will feel
disposed to deny that every minute event mentioned in these volumes ever
befell one and the same ship, though ready enough to admit that they may
very well have occurred to several different ships: a mode of commenting
that is much in favour with your small critic. To this objection, we shall
make but a single answer. The caviller, if any there should prove to be,
is challenged to produce the log-book of the Montauk, London packet, and
if it should be found to contain a single sentence to controvert any one
of our statements or facts, a frank recantation shall be made. Captain
Truck is quite as well known in New York as in London or Portsmouth, and
to him also we refer with confidence, for a confirmation of all we have
said, with the exception, perhaps, of the little occasional touches of
character that may allude directly to himself. In relation to the latter,
Mr. Leach, and particularly Mr. Saunders, are both invoked as
unimpeachable witnesses.

Most of our readers will probably know that all which appears in a New
York journal is not necessarily as true as the Gospel. As some slight
deviations from the facts accidentally occur, though doubtless at very
long intervals, it should not be surprising that they sometimes omit
circumstances that are quite as veracious as anything they do actually
utter to the world. No argument, therefore, can justly be urged against
the incidents of this story, on account of the circumstance of their not
being embodied in the regular marine news of the day.

Another serious objection on the part of the American reader to this work
is foreseen. The author has endeavoured to interest his readers in
occurrences of a date as antiquated as two years can make them, when he is
quite aware, that, in order to keep pace with a state of society in which
there was no yesterday, it would have been much safer to anticipate
things, by laying his scene two years in advance. It is hoped, however,
that the public sentiment will not be outraged by this glimpse at
antiquity, and this the more so, as the sequel of the tale will bring down
events within a year of the present moment.

Previously to the appearance of that sequel, however, it may be well to
say a few words concerning the fortunes of some of our _characters_, as it
might be _en attendant_.

To commence with the most important: the Montauk herself, once deemed so
"splendid" and convenient, is already supplanted in the public favour by a
new ship; the reign of a popular packet, a popular preacher, or a popular
anything-else, in America, being limited by a national _esprit de corps_,
to a time materially shorter than that of a lustre. This, however, is no
more than just; rotation in favour being as evidently a matter of
constitutional necessity, as rotation in office.

Captain Truck, for a novelty, continues popular, a circumstance that he
himself ascribes to the fact of his being still a bachelor.

Toast is promoted, figuring at the head of a pantry quite equal to that of
his great master, who regards his improvement with some such eyes as
Charles the Twelfth of Sweden regarded that of his great rival Peter,
after the affair of Pultowa.

Mr. Leach now smokes his own cigar, and issues his own orders from a
monkey rail, his place in the line being supplied by his former "Dickey."
He already speaks of his great model, as of one a little antiquated it is
true, but as a man who had merit in his time, though it was not the
particular merit that is in fashion to-day.

Notwithstanding these little changes, which are perhaps inseparable from
the events of a period so long as two years in a country as energetic as
America, and in which nothing seems to be stationary but the ages of
Tontine nominees and three-life leases, a cordial esteem was created among
the principal actors in the events of this book, which is likely to
outlast the passage, and which will not fail to bring most of them
together again in the sequel.

_April_ 1838.




Chapter I.



An inner room I have,
Where thou shalt rest and some refreshment take,
And then we will more fully talk of this

ORRA.


The coast of England, though infinitely finer than our own, is more
remarkable for its verdure, and for a general appearance of civilisation,
than for its natural beauties. The chalky cliffs may seem bold and noble
to the American, though compared to the granite piles that buttress the
Mediterranean they are but mole-hills; and the travelled eye seeks
beauties instead, in the retiring vales, the leafy hedges, and the
clustering towns that dot the teeming island. Neither is Portsmouth a very
favourable specimen of a British port, considered solely in reference to
the picturesque. A town situated on a humble point, and fortified after
the manner of the Low Countries, with an excellent haven, suggests more
images of the useful than of the pleasing; while a background of modest
receding hills offers little beyond the verdant swales of the country. In
this respect England itself has the fresh beauty of youth, rather than the
mellowed hues of a more advanced period of life; or it might be better to
say, it has the young freshness and retiring sweetness that distinguish
her females, as compared with the warmer tints of Spain and Italy, and
which, women and landscape alike, need the near view to be appreciated.

Some such thoughts as these passed through the mind of the traveller who
stood on the deck of the packet Montauk, resting an elbow on the
quarter-deck rail, as he contemplated the view of the coast that stretched
before him east and west for leagues. The manner in which this gentleman,
whose temples were sprinkled with grey hairs, regarded the scene, denoted
more of the thoughtfulness of experience, and of tastes improved by
observation, than it is usual to meet amid the bustling and common-place
characters that compose the majority in almost every situation of life.
The calmness of his exterior, an air removed equally from the admiration
of the novice and the superciliousness of the tyro, had, indeed, so
strongly distinguished him from the moment he embarked in London to that
in which he was now seen in the position mentioned, that several of the
seamen swore he was a man-of-war's-man in disguise. The fair-haired,
lovely, blue-eyed girl at his side, too seemed a softened reflection of
all his sentiment, intelligence, knowledge, tastes, and cultivation,
united to the artlessness and simplicity that became her sex and years.

"We have seen nobler coasts, Eve," said the gentleman, pressing the arm
that leaned on his own; "but, after all England will always be fair to
American eyes."

"More particularly so if those eyes first opened to the light in the
eighteenth century, father."

"You, at least, my child, have been educated beyond the reach of national
foibles, whatever may have been my own evil fortune; and still, I think
even you have seen a great deal to admire in this country, as well as in
this coast."

Eve Effingham glanced a moment towards the eye of her father, and
perceiving that he spoke in playfulness, without suffering a cloud to
shadow a countenance that usually varied with her emotions, she continued
the discourse, which had, in fact, only been resumed by the remark first
mentioned.

"I have been educated, as it is termed, in so many different places and
countries," returned Eve, smiling, "that I sometimes fancy I was born a
woman, like my great predecessor and namesake, the mother of Abel. If a
congress of nations, in the way of masters, can make one independent of
prejudice, I may claim to possess the advantage. My greatest fear is,
that in acquiring liberality, I have acquired nothing else."

Mr. Effingham turned a look of parental fondness, in which parental pride
was clearly mingled, on the face of his daughter, and said with his eyes,
though his tongue did not second the expression, "This is a fear, sweet
one, that none besides thyself would feel."

"A congress of nations, truly!" muttered another male voice near the
father and daughter. "You have been taught music in general, by seven
masters of as many different states, besides the touch of the guitar by a
Spaniard; Greek by a German; the living tongues by the European powers,
and philosophy by seeing the world; and now with a brain full of learning,
fingers full of touches, eyes full of tints, and a person full of grace,
your father is taking you back to America, to 'waste your sweetness on the
desert air.'"

"Poetically expressed, if not justly imagined, cousin Jack," returned the
laughing Eve; "but you have forgot to add, and a heart full of feeling for
the land of my birth."

"We shall see, in the end."

"In the end, as in the beginning, now and for evermore."

"All love is eternal in the commencement."

"Do you make no allowance for the constancy of woman? Think you that a
girl of twenty can forget the country of her birth, the land of her
forefathers - or, as you call it yourself when in a good humour, the land
of liberty?"

"A pretty specimen _you_ will have of its liberty!" returned the cousin
sarcastically. "After having passed a girlhood of wholesome restraint in
the rational society of Europe, you are about to return home to the
slavery of American female life, just as you are about to be married!"

"Married! Mr. Effingham?"

"I suppose the catastrophe will arrive, sooner or later, and it is more
likely to occur to a girl of twenty than to a girl of ten."

"Mr. John Effingham never lost an argument for the want of a convenient
fact, my love," the father observed by way of bringing the brief
discussion to a close. "But here are the boats approaching; let us
withdraw a little, and examine the chance medley of faces with which we
are to become familiar by the intercourse of a month."

"You will be much more likely to agree on a verdict of murder," muttered
the kinsman.

Mr. Effingham led his daughter into the hurricane-house - or, as the
packet-men quaintly term it, the _coach_-house, where they stood watching
the movements on the quarter-deck for the next half-hour; an interval of
which we shall take advantage to touch in a few of the stronger lights of
our picture, leaving the softer tints and the shadows to be discovered by
the manner in which the artist "tells the story."

Edward and John Effingham were brothers' children; were born on the same
day; had passionately loved the same woman, who had preferred the
first-named, and died soon after Eve was born; had, notwithstanding this
collision in feeling, remained sincere friends, and this the more so,
probably, from a mutual and natural sympathy in their common loss; had
lived much together at home, and travelled much together abroad, and were
now about to return in company to the land of their birth, after what
might be termed an absence of twelve years; though both had visited
America for short periods in the intervals, - John not less than
five times.

There was a strong family likeness between the cousins, their persons and
even features being almost identical; though it was scarcely possible for
two human beings to leave more opposite impressions on mere casual
spectators when seen separately. Both were tall, of commanding presence,
and handsome; while one was winning in appearance, and the other, if not
positively forbidding, at least distant and repulsive. The noble outline
of face in Edward Effingham had got to be cold severity in that of John;
the aquiline nose of the latter, seeming to possess an eagle-like and
hostile curvature, - his compressed lip, sarcastic and cold expression, and
the fine classical chin, a feature in which so many of the Saxon race
fail, a haughty scorn that caused strangers usually to avoid him. Eve drew
with great facility and truth, and she had an eye, as her cousin had
rightly said, "full of tints." Often and often had she sketched both of
these loved faces, and never without wondering wherein that strong
difference existed in nature which she had never been able to impart to
her drawings. The truth is, that the subtle character of John Effingham's
face would have puzzled the skill of one who had made the art his study
for a life, and it utterly set the graceful but scarcely profound
knowledge of the beautiful young painter at defiance. All the points of
character that rendered her father so amiable and so winning, and which
were rather felt than perceived, in his cousin were salient and bold, and
if it may be thus expressed, had become indurated by mental suffering and
disappointment.

The cousins were both rich, though in ways as opposite as their
dispositions and habits of thought. Edward Effingham possessed a large
hereditary property, that brought a good income, and which attached him to
this world of ours by kindly feelings towards its land and water; while
John, much the wealthier of the two, having inherited a large commercial
fortune, did not own ground enough to bury him. As he sometimes deridingly
said, he "kept his gold in corporations, that were as soulless
as himself."

Still, John Effingham was a man of cultivated mind, of extensive
intercourse with the world, and of manners that varied with the occasion;
or perhaps it were better to say, with his humours. In all these
particulars but the latter the cousins were alike; Edward Effingham's
deportment being as equal as his temper, though also distinguished for a
knowledge of society.

These gentlemen had embarked at London, on their fiftieth birthday, in the
packet of the 1st of October, bound to New York; the lands and family
residence of the proprietor lying in the state of that name, of which all
of the parties were natives. It is not usual for the cabin passengers of
the London packets to embark in the docks; but Mr. Effingham, - as we shall
call the father in general, to distinguish him from the bachelor,
John, - as an old and experienced traveller, had determined to make his
daughter familiar with the peculiar odours of the vessel in smooth water,
as a protection against sea-sickness; a malady, however, from which she
proved to be singularly exempt in the end. They had, accordingly, been on
board three days, when the ship came to an anchor off Portsmouth, the point
where the remainder of the passengers were to join her on that particular
day when the scene of this tale commences.

At this precise moment, then, the Montauk was lying at a single anchor,
not less than a league from the land, in a flat calm, with her three
topsails loose, the courses in the brails, and with all those signs of
preparation about her that are so bewildering to landsmen, but which
seamen comprehend as clearly as words. The captain had no other business
there than to take on board the wayfarers, and to renew his supply of
fresh meat and vegetables; things of so familiar import on shore as to be
seldom thought of until missed, but which swell into importance during a
passage of a month's duration. Eve had employed her three days of
probation quite usefully, having, with the exception of the two gentlemen,
the officers of the vessel, and one other person, been in quiet possession
of all the ample, not to say luxurious cabins. It is true, she had a
female attendant; but to her she had been accustomed from childhood, and
Nanny Sidley, as her quondam nurse and actual lady's-maid was termed,
appeared so much a part of herself, that, while her absence would be
missed almost as greatly as that of a limb, her presence was as much a
matter of course as a hand or foot. Nor will a passing word concerning
this excellent and faithful domestic be thrown away, in the brief
preliminary explanations we are making.

Ann Sidley was one of those excellent creatures who, it is the custom with
the European travellers to say, do not exist at all in America, and who,
while they are certainly less numerous than could be wished, have no
superiors in the world, in their way. She had been born a servant, lived a
servant, and was quite content to die a servant, - and this, too, in one
and the same family. We shall not enter into a philosophical examination
of the reasons that had induced old Ann to feel certain she was in the
precise situation to render her more happy than any other that to her was
attainable; but feel it she did, as John Effingham used to express it,
"from the crown of her head to the sole of her foot." She had passed
through infancy, childhood, girlhood, up to womanhood, _pari passu_, with
the mother of Eve, having been the daughter of a gardener, who died in the
service of the family, and had heart enough to feel that the mixed
relations of civilised society, when properly understood and appreciated,
are more pregnant of happiness than the vulgar scramble and
heart-burnings, that, in the _mêlée_ of a migrating and unsettled
population, are so injurious to the grace and principles of American life.
At the death of Eve's mother, she had transferred her affections to the
child; and twenty years of assiduity and care had brought her to feel as
much tenderness for her lovely young charge as if she had been her natural
parent. But Nanny Sidley was better fitted to care for the body than the
mind of Eve; and when, at the age of ten, the latter was placed under the
control of an accomplished governess, the good woman had meekly and
quietly sunk the duties of the nurse in those of the maid.

One of the severest trials - or "crosses," as she herself termed it - that
poor Nanny had ever experienced, was endured when Eve began to speak in a
language she could not herself comprehend; for, in despite of the best
intentions in the world, and twelve years of use, the good woman could
never make anything of the foreign tongues her young charge was so rapidly
acquiring. One day, when Eve had been maintaining an animated and laughing
discourse in Italian with her instructress, Nanny, unable to command
herself, had actually caught the child to her bosom, and, bursting into
tears, implored her not to estrange herself entirely from her poor old
nurse. The caresses and solicitations of Eve soon brought the good woman
to a sense of her weakness; but the natural feeling was so strong, that it
required years of close observation to reconcile her to the thousand
excellent qualities of Mademoiselle Viefville, the lady to whose
superintendence the education of Miss Effingham had been finally confided.

This Mademoiselle Viefville was also among the passengers, and was the one
other person who now occupied the cabins in common with Eve and her
friends. She was the daughter of a French officer who had fallen in
Napoleon's campaigns, had been educated at one of those admirable
establishments which form points of relief in the ruthless history of the
conqueror, and had now lived long enough to have educated two young
persons, the last of whom was Eve Effingham. Twelve years of close
communion with her _élève_ had created sufficient attachment to cause her
to yield to the solicitations of the father to accompany his daughter to
America, and to continue with her during the first year of her probation,
in a state of society that the latter felt must be altogether novel to a
young woman educated as his own child had been.

So much has been written and said of French governesses, that we shall not
anticipate the subject, but leave this lady to speak and act for herself
in the course of the narrative. Neither is it our intention to be very
minute in these introductory remarks concerning any of our characters; but
having thus traced their outlines, we shall return again to the incidents
as they occurred, trusting to make the reader better acquainted with all
the parties as we proceed.




Chapter II.



Lord Cram and Lord Vultur.
Sir Brandish O'Cultur,
With Marshal Carouzer,
And old Lady Mouser.

BATH GUIDE.


The assembling of the passengers of a packet-ship is at all times a matter
of interest to the parties concerned. During the western passage in
particular, which can never safely be set down at less than a month, there
is the prospect of being shut up for the whole of that period, within the
narrow compass of a ship, with those whom chance has brought together,
influenced by all the accidents and caprices of personal character, and a
difference of nations, conditions in life, and education. The
quarter-deck, it is true, forms a sort of local distinction, and the poor
creatures in the steerage seem the rejected of Providence for the time
being; but all who know life will readily comprehend that the _pêle-mêle_
of the cabins can seldom offer anything very enticing to people of
refinement and taste. Against this evil, however, there is one particular
source of relief; most persons feeling a disposition to yield to the
circumstances in which they are placed, with the laudable and convenient
desire to render others comfortable, in order that they may be made
comfortable themselves.

A man of the world and a gentleman, Mr. Effingham had looked forward to
this passage with a good deal of concern, on account of his daughter,
while he shrank with the sensitiveness of his habits from the necessity of
exposing one of her delicacy and plastic simplicity to the intercourse of
a ship. Accompanied by Mademoiselle Viefville, watched over by Nanny, and
guarded by himself and his kinsman, he had lost some of his apprehensions
on the subject during the three probationary days, and now took his stand
in the centre of his own party to observe the new arrivals, with something
of the security of a man who is entrenched in his own door-way.

The place they occupied, at a window of the hurricane-house, did not admit
of a view of the water; but it was sufficiently evident from the
preparations in the gangway next the land, that boats were so near as to
render that unnecessary.

"_Genus_ cockney; _species_, bagman," muttered John Effingham, as the
first arrival touched the deck. "That worthy has merely exchanged the
basket of a coach for the deck of a packet; we may now learn the price
of buttons."

It did not require a naturalist to detect the species of the stranger, in
truth; though John Effingham had been a little more minute in his
description than was warranted by the fact. The person in question was one
of those mercantile agents that England scatters so profusely over the
world, some of whom have all the most sterling qualities of their nation,
though a majority, perhaps, are a little disposed to mistake the value of
other people as well as their own. This was the _genus_, as John Effingham
had expressed it; but the _species_ will best appear on dissection. The
master of the ship saluted this person cordially, and as an old



Online LibraryJames Fenimore CooperHomeward Bound or, the Chase → online text (page 1 of 41)