the young conceit wears out of you, you may be sorry.
Miss Andalusia, for your wonderful cleverness."
He made her a bow with his handsome hat, and
her warm young heart was chilled by it. Surely he
ought to have shaken hands. She tried to keep her
own meaning at home, and bid him farewell with a
curtsy, while he tried not to look back again ; but
fortune or nature was too much for them, and their
eyes met wistfully.
These things are out of my line so much, that I
cannot pretend to say now for a moment what these
very young people did ; and everybody else having
done the same, with more or less unwisdom, accord-
ing to constitution, may admire the power of charity
which restrains me from describing them. My fa-
vourite writer of Scripture is St Paul, who was afraid
of nobody, and who spent his time in making sails
when the thorn in the flesh permitted him. And
this great waiter describes the quick manners of
maidens far better than I can. Wherefore I keep
myself up aloft until they have had a good spell
THE MAID OF SKER. 1 77
" I have no opinion, now. What can you expect
of me ? Eodney, I must stop and think for nearly a
quarter of a century before I have an opinion."
" Then stay, just so ; and let me admire you, till I
have to swim with you."
" Eodney, you are reckless. Here comes the tide ;
and you know I have got my very best Candleston
side-lace boots on ! "
" Then come out of this rocky bower, which suits
your fate so, darling ; and let us talk most sensibly."
" By all means ; if you think we can. There, you
need not touch me, Eodney; — I can get out very
well indeed. I know these rocks better than you do
perhaps. N"ow sit on this rock where old David first
hooked me, as I have heard that old chatterbox tell
fifty times, as if he had done some great great thing.'*
" He did indeed a grand grand thing. No wonder
that he is proud of it. And he has so much to be
proud of that you may take it for your highest com-
pliment. Perhaps there is no other man in the Ser-
vice — or I might say in all the civilised world "
But it hurts me to tell what this excellent officer
said or even thought of me. He was such a first-
rate judge by this time that I must leave his
Over the sea they began to look, in a discontented
VOL. III. M
178 THE MAID OF SKER.
quietude ; as the manner of young mortals is before
they begin to know better, and with great ideas
moving them. Bunny, with the very kindest discre-
tion, had run away entirely, and might now be seen
at the far end of the sands, and springing up the
rocks, on her way to Newton. So those two sate
side by side, with their hearts full of one another,
and their minds made up to face the world together,
whatever might come of it. Eor as yet they could
see nothing clearly through the warm haze of loving,
being wrapped up in an atmosphere which generally
leads to a hurricane. But to them, for a few short
minutes, earth and sea and sky were all one universal
" It will not do," cried the maid of Sker, sud-
denly awaking with a short deep sigh, and drawing
back her delicate hand from the broad palm of young
Eodney: "it will never, never do. We must both
be mad to think of it."
" Who could fail to be mad," he answered, " if you
set the example?"
"Now, don't be so dreadfully stupid, Eodney.
What I say is most serious. Of course you know
the world better than I do, as you told me yesterday,
after sailing a dozen times round it. But I am think-
ing of other things. Not of what the world will say.
THE MAID OF SKER. 1 79
but of what I myself must feeL And the first of
these things is that I cannot be cruelly ungrateful.
It would be the deepest ingratitude to the Colonel if
I went on with it/'
" Went on with it ! What a way to speak ! As
if you could be off with it when you pleased ! And
my good uncle loves you like his own daughter ; and
so does my mother. I^ow what can you mean ?"
" As if you did not know indeed ! Now, Eodney,
do talk sensibly. I ought to know, if any one does,
what your uncle and your mother are. And T know
that they would rather see your death in the Gazette
than your marriage with an unknown, nameless no-
body like me, sir."
" Well, of course, we must take the chance of that,"
said Captain Bluett, carelessly. " The Colonel is the
best soul in the world, and my dear mother a most
excellent creature, whenever she listens to reason.
But as to my asking their permission — it is the last
thing I should dream of. I am old enough to know
my own mind, and to get my own living, I should
hope, as well as that of my family. And if I am
only in time with Nelson, of course we shall do
For a minute or two the poor young maid had not
a word to say to him. She longed to throw her arms
l80 THE MAID OF SKER.
around him, wlien he spoke so proudly, and to in-
dulge her own pride in him, as against all the world
beside. But having been brought up in so much
trouble, she had learned to check herself. So that
she did nothing more than wait for him to go on
again. And this he did with sparkling eyes and the
confidence of a young British tar,
" There is another thing, my beauty, which they
are bound to consider, as well as all the prize-money
I shall earn. And that is, that they have nobody
except themselves to thank for it. They must have
known what was sure to happen, if they chose to
have you there whenever I was home from sea.
And my mother is so clever too — to my mind it is
plain enough that they meant me to do what I have
" And pray what is that ? "
" As if you did not know ! Come now, you must
pay the penalty of asking for a compliment. Talk
about breeding and good birth, and that stuff ! Why,
look at your hands and then look at mine. Put your
fingers between mine — both hands, both hands —
that's the way. Now just feel my great clumsy
things, and then see how lovely yours are — as clear
as wax-tapers, and just touched with rose, and every
nail with a fairy gift, and pointed like an almond.
THE MAID OF SKER. l8l
A ' nameless nobody ' indeed ! What nameless no-
body ever bad such nails? By way of contrast
" Ob but you bite yours shockingly, Eodney. I
am sure that you do, though I never saw you. You
must be cured of that dreadful trick."
" That shall be your first job, Delushy, when you
are Mrs Eodney. N'ow for another great sign of
birth. Do you see any peak to my upper lip ? "
" 'No, I can't say I do. But how foolish you are !
I ought to be crying, and you make me laugh ! "
" Then just let me show you the peak to yours.
Honour bright — and no mean advantages — that is to
say if I can help it. Oh, here's that blessed Moxy
coming! May the Frenchmen rob her henroost!
Now just one promise, darling, darling ; just one little
promise. To-morrow I go to most desperate battles,
and lucky to come home with one arm and one leg.
Therefore, promise a solemn promise to have no one
in the world but me."
" I think," said the maid, with her lips to his ear,
in the true old coaxing fashion, " that I may very
well promise that. But I will promise another thing
too. And that is, not to have even you, until your
dear mother and good uncle come to me and ask me.
And that can never never be."
NELSON AND THE NILE.
The first day of August in the year of our Lord
1798 is a day to be long remembered by every
Briton with a piece of constitution in him. For on
that day our glorious navy, under the immortal
Nelson, administered to the Frenchmen, under Ad-
miral Brewer, as pure and perfect a lathering as is
to be found in all history. This I never should
venture to put upon my own authority (especially
after the prominent part assigned therein by Provi-
dence to a humble individual who came from New-
ton-Nottage), for with history I have no patience at
all, because it always contradicts the very things I
have seen and known : but I am bound to believe a
man of such high principles and deep reading as
Master Koger Berkrolles. And he tells me that I
have helped to produce the greatest of all great
THE MATD OF SKER. 1 83
Be that one way or tlie other, I can tell you every
word concerning how we managed it ; and you need
not for one moment think me capable of prejudice.
Quite the contrary, I assure you. There could not
have been in the British fleet any man more deter-
mined to do justice to all Crappos, than a thoroughly
ancient navigator, now Master of the Goliath.
"We knew exactly what to do, every Captain, every
Master, every quarter-master; even the powder-
monkeys had their proper work laid out for them.
The spirit of Nelson ran through us all ; and our
hearts caught fire from his heart. From the moment
of our first glimpse at the Frenchmen spread out in
that tempting manner, beautifully moored and riding
in a long line head and stern, every old seaman among
us began to count on his fingers prize-mone}^ They
thought that we would not fight that night, for the
sun was low when we found them ; and with their
perpetual conceit, they were hard at work taking
water in. I shall never forget how beautiful these
ships looked, and how peaceful. A French ship
always sits the water with an elegant quickness, like
a Frenchwoman at the looking-glass. And though
we brought the evening breeze in very briskly with
us, there was hardly swell enough in the bay to make
them play their hawsers. Many fine things have I
1 84 THE MAID OF SKER.
seen, and therefore know pretty well how to look at
them, which a man never can do upon the first or
even the second occasion. But it was worth any
man's while to live to the age of threescore years and
eight, with a sound mind in a sound body, and eyes
almost as good as ever, if there were nothing for it
more than to see what I saw at this moment. Six-
and-twenty ships of the line, thirteen bearing the
tricolor, and riding cleared for action, the other
thirteen with the red cross flying, the cross of St
George on the ground of white, and tossing the blue
water from their stems under pressure of canvass.
Onward rushed our British ships, as if every one of
them was alive, and driven out of all patience by
the wicked escapes of the enemy. Twelve hundred
leagues of chase had they cost us, ingratitude towards
God every night, and love of the devil at morning,
with dread of our country for ever prevailing, and
mistrust of our own good selves. And now at last
we had got them tight ; and mean we did to keep
them. Captain Foley came up to me as I stood on
the ratlines to hear the report of the men in the
starboard fore-chains; and his fine open face was
clouded. "Master," he said, "how much more of
this? Damn your soundings. Can't you see that
the Zealous is drawing ahead of us ? Hood has no-
THE MAID OF SKER. 1 85
body in the chains. If you can't take the ship into
action, I will Stand by there to set top-gallant-
These had been taken in, scarce five minutes agone,
as prudence demanded, for none of us had any chart
of the bay ; and even I knew little about it, except
that there was a great shoal of rock betwixt Aboukir
island and the van ship of the enemy. And but for
my warning, we might have followed the two French
brigs appointed to decoy us in that direction. ISTow,
having filled top-gallant-sails, we rapidly headed our
rival the Zealous, in spite of all that she could do ;
and we had the honour of receiving the first shot of
the enemy. For now we were rushing in, stem on,
having formed line of battle, towards the van of the
Now as to what followed, and the brilliant idea
which occurred to somebody to turn the enemy's
line and take them on the larboard or inner side (on
which they were quite unprepared for attack) no two
authorities are quite agreed, simply because they all
are wrong. Some attribute this grand manceuvre to
our great Admiral Nelson, others to Captain Hood of
the Zealous, and others to our Captain Foley. This
latter is nearest the mark; but from whom did
Captain Foley obtain the hint? Modesty forbids
1 86 THE MAID OF SKER.
me to say what Welsliman it was who devised this
noble and most decisive stratagem, while patriotic
duty compels me to say that it was a AVelshman,
and more than that a Glamorganshire man, born in
a favoured part of the quiet village of N — N — .
Enough, unless I add that internal evidence will
convince any unprejudiced person that none but an
ancient fisherman, and thorough-going long-shore-
man, could by any possibility have smelled out his
way so cleverly.
Our great Admiral saw, with his usual insight into
Prenchmen, that if they remained at anchor we were
sure to man their capstans: For Crappos fight well
enough with a rush, but unsteadily when at a stand-
still, and worst of all when taken by surprise and
outmanoeuvred. And the manner in which the
British fleet advanced was enough to strike them
cold by its majesty and its awfulness. For in per-
fect silence we were gliding over the dark -blue sea,
with the stately height of the white sails shining,
and the sky behind us full of solemn yellow sunset.
Even we, so sure of conquest, and so nerved with
stern delight, could not gaze on the things around
ns, and the work before us, without for a moment
wondering whether the Lord in heaven looked down
THE MAID OF SKER. 1 8/
At any rate we obeyed to the letter the orders
both of our Admiral and of a man scarcely less
remarkable. ''Let not the sun go do^Yn on your
wrath," are the very words of St Paul, I believe ; and
we never fired a shot until there was no sun left to
look at it. I stood by the men at the wheel myself,
and laid my own hand to it : for it was a matter of
very fine steerage, to run in ahead of the French
line, ware soundings, and then bear up on their
larboard bow, to deliver a thorough good raking
broadside. I remember looking over my left shoul-
der after we bore up our helm a-weather, while
crossing the bows of the Carrier (as the foremost
enemy's ship was called), and there was the last
limb of the sun like the hoof of a horse disappear-
ing. And my own head nearly went with it, as tlie
wind of a round-shot knocked me over. " Bear up,
bear up, lads," cried Captain Foley, " our time has
come at last, my boys. Well done Llewellyn ! A
finer sample of conning and steerage was never seen.
Let go the best bower. Pass the word. Picady at
quarters all of you. Now she bears clear fore and
aft. Damn their eyes, let them have it."
Out rang the whole of our larboard battery, almost
like a single gun ; a finer thing was never seen ; and
before the ring passed into a roar, the yell of French-
1 88 THE MAID OF SKER.
men came through the smoke. Masts and spars flew
right and left with the bones of men among them,
and the sea began to hiss and heave, and the ships
to reel and tremble, and the roar of a mad volcano
rose, and nothing kept either shape or tenor, except
the faces of brave men.
Every ship in our fleet was prepared to anchor by
the stern, so as to spring our broadsides aright ; but
the anchor of the Goliath did not bite so soon as it
should have done, so that we ran past the Carrier,
and brought up on the larboard quarter of the second
French 74, with a frigate and a brig of war to employ
a few of our starboard guns. By this time the rapid
darkness fell, and we fought by the light of our own
guns. And now the skill of our Admiral and his
great ideas were manifest, for every French ship had
two English upon it, and some of them even three
at a time. In a word, we began with the head of
their line, and crushed it, and so on joint by joint,
ere even the centre and much more the tail could
fetch their way up to take part in it. Our antagonist
was the first that struck, being the second of the
Frenchman's line, and by name the Conquer-ant.
But she found in Captain Foley and David Llewellyn
an ant a little too clever to conquer. We were a
good deal knocked about, with most of our main
THE MAID OF SKER. 1 89
rigging shot away, and all our masts heavily wounded.
Nevertheless we drew ahead, to double upon the third
French ship, of the wonderful name of Sparticipate.
From this ship I received a shot, which, but for
the mercy of the Lord, must have made a perfect end
of me. That my end may be perfect has long been
my wish, and the tenor of my life leads up to it.
Nevertheless, who am I to deny that I was not ready
for the final finish at that very moment ? And now,
at this time of writing, I find myself ready to wait a
bit longer. What I mean was a chain- shot sailing
along, rather slowly as they always do ; and yet so
fast that I could not either duck or jump at sight of
it, although there was light enough now for anything,
with the French Admiral on fire. Happening to be
well satisfied with my state of mind at that moment
(not from congratulation, so much as from my inside
conscience), I now was beginning to fill a pipe, and
to dwell upon further manoeuvres. For one of the
foremost points of all, after thoroughly drubbing the
enemy, is to keep a fine self-control, and be ready to
go on with it.
No sooner had I filled this pipe, and taken a piece
of wadding to light it, which was burning handy (in
spite of all my orders), than away went a piece of
me ; and down went I, as dead as a Dutch herring.
1 90 THE MAID OF SKER.
At least so everybody tliouglit, who had time to
think about it ; and " the Master's dead " ran along
the deck, so far as time was to tell of it. I must
have lain numb for an hour, I doubt, with the roar
of the guns, and the shaking of bulk-heads, like a
shiver, jarring me, and a pool of blood curdling into
me, and another poor fellow cast into the scuppers
and clutching at me in his groaning, when the heavens
took fire in one red blaze, and a thundering roar, that
might rouse the dead, drowned all the rolling battle-
din. I saw the white looks of our crew all aghast,
and their bodies scared out of death's manufacture,
by this triumph of mortality ; and the elbows of big
fellows holding the linstock fell quivering back to
their shaken ribs. For the whole sky was blotched
with the corpses of men, like the stones of a crater
cast upwards ; and the sheet of the fire behind them
showed their knees, and their bellies, and streaming
hair. Then with a hiss, like electric hail, from a
mile's height all came down again, corpses first (being
softer things), and timbers next, and then the great
spars that had streaked the sky like rockets.
The violence of this matter so attracted my atten-
tion that I was enabled to rally my wits, and lean on
one elbow and look at it. And I do assure you that
anybody who happened to be out of sight of it, lost
THE MAID OF SKER. I9I
a finer chance than ever he can have another pros-
pect of. For a hundred-and-twenty-gun ship had
blown up, with an Admiral and Eear-Admiral, not to
mention a Commodore, and at least 700 complement.
And when the concussion was over, there fell the
silence of death upon all men. N'ot a gun was fired,
nor an order given, except to man the boats in hopes
of saving some poor fellows.
A SAVAGE DEED.
Nevertheless our Britons were forced to renew tlie
battle afterwards ; because those Frenclimen had not
the manners to surrender as they should have done.
And they even compelled us to batter their ships so
seriously and sadly, that when w^e took possession
some were scarcely worth the trouble. To make us
blow up their poor Admiral was a distressing thing
to begin with; but when that was done, to go on
with the battle was as bad as the dog in the manger.
What good could it do them to rob a poor British
sailor of half his prize-money ? And such conduct
becomes at least twice as ungenerous when they
actually have wounded him !
My wound was sore, and so was I, on the follow-
ing day, I can tell you ; for not being now such a very
young man, I found it a precious hard thing to renew
the power of blood that was gone from me. And
THE MAID OF SKER.
after the terrible scene that awoke me from the first
trance of carnage, I was thrown by the mercy of
Providence into pure insensibility. This I am bound
to declare ; because the public might otherwise think
itself wronged, and perhaps even vote me down as of
no value, for failing to give them the end of this
battle so (brilliantly as the beginning. I defy my
old rival, the Newton tailor (although a much younger
man perhaps than myself, and with my help a pretty
good seaman), to take up the tucks of this battle as
well as I have done, — though not well done. Even
if a tailor can come up and fight (which he did, for
the honour of Cambria), none of his customers can
expect any more than French-chalk flourishes when
a piece of description is down in his books. How-
ever, let him cut his cloth. He is still at sea, or else
under it ; and if he ever does come home, and sit
down to his shop-board — as his wife says he is sure
to do — his very first order shall be for a church-going
coat, with a doubled-up sleeve to it.
For the Frenchmen took my left arm away in a
thoroughly lubberly manner. If they had done it
with a good cross-cut, like my old wound of forty
years' standing, I would at once have set it down to
the credit of their nation. But when I came to
dwell over the subject (as for weeks my duty was),
VOL. III. N
194 THE MAID OF SKER.
more and more clear to me it became, that instead of
honour they had now incurred a lasting national
disgrace. The fellows who charged that gun had
been afraid of the recoil of it. Half a charge of
powder makes the vilest fracture to deal with — how-
ever, there I was by the heels, and now for nobler
people. Only while my wound is green you must
not be too hard on me.
The GoKath was ordered to chase down the bay,
on the morning after the battle, together with the
Theseus and a frigate called the Leader. This frigate
was commanded by the Honourable Eodney Bluett,
now a post-captain, and who had done wonders in
the height of last night's combat. He had brought
up in the most brazen-faced manner, without any
sense of his metal, close below the starboard bow of
the great three-decker Orient and the quarter of the
Franklin, and thence he fired away at both, while all
their shot flew over him. And this was afterwards
said to have been the cleverest thing done by all of
us, except the fine helm and calm handling of H.M.
The two ships, in chase of which we were de-
spatched, ran ashore and surrendered, as I was told
afterwards (for of course I was down in my berth at
the time, with the surgeon looking after me) ; and
THE MAID OF SKER. IQS
thus out of thirteen French sail of the line, we took
or destroyed eleven. And as we bore up after taking
possession, the Leader ran under our counter and
hailed us, "Have you a Justice of the Peace on
board V Our Captain replied that he was himself a
member of the quorum, but could not attend to such
business now as making of wills and so on. Hereupon
Captain Bluett came forward, and with a polite wave
of his hat called out that Captain Foley would lay
him under a special obligation, as well as clear the
honour of a gallant naval officer, by coming on board
of the Leader, to receive the deposition of a dying
man. In ten minutes' time our good skipper stood
in the cockpit of the Leader, while Captain Bluett
wrote down the confession of a desperately-wounded
seaman, who was clearing his conscience of perilous
wrong before he should face his Creator. The poor
fellow sate on a pallet propped up by the bulkhead
and a pillow ; that is to say, if a man can sit who
has no legs left him. A round shot had caught him
in the tuck of both thighs, and the surgeon could
now do no more for him. Indeed he was only
enabled to speak, or to gasp out his last syllables, by
gulps of raw brandy which he was taking, with great
draughts of water between them. On the other side
of his dying bed stood Cannibals Dick and Joe, howl-
196 THE MAID OF SKER.
incf, and nodding tlieir heads from time to time,
whenever he lifted his glazing eyes to them for con-
firmation. For it was my honest and highly-respected
friend, the poor Jack Wildman, who now lay in this
sad condition, upon the very brink of another world.
And I cannot do better than give his own words, as
put into shape by two clear-witted men, Captains
Foley and Eodney Bluett. Only for the reader's
sake I omit a great deal of groaning.
" This is the solemn and dying delivery of me,