Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

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them, all upon shelves in my chambers, called the 'Statutes
at Large/ and by other names."

He then entered into conversation with me, and I told
him most of what had passed, of course not forgetting that
the Indiaman we had brought up the river had captured
a privateer. He sat about an hour, and then went away,
desiring me to call upon him. I was not sorry when he
went, as I wished to show my presents to Virginia, and give
her those which she liked best. When Virginia had selected
for herself, or rather I had forced upon her ail she most
admired, I gave a cut ivory card-case, a filigree needle-case,
and a small red scarf to my mother, who, for the first time
In her life, appeared pleased with me, and said that they
were very genteel, and she was much obliged to me. The
remainder I put away in my room upstairs, intending to keep
some for Bessy, and give the others to Mrs. St. Felix, the
doctor, and old Nanny.

I then went to the hospital and found out my father, old
Anderson, and Ben. I narrated to them much more circum-
stantially than I did to the old lawyer the particulars of
the capture of the privateer. Anderson put a great many
inquiries to me, as to my liking my profession, and also con-
cerning little Bessy, whose history I communicated to him.
After my father and Ben had left he gave me a great deal
of advice, all of which I trust that I treasured up.

" I hear," said he, " that Spicer has been talking a good
deal about you, and inquiring very often when you were
expected to return. Were you very intimate with that
man ? "

I replied in the negative, and then narrated the whole
history of the spy-glass, the erasure of the name by Mrs. St.
Felix, and the recognition of it by Spicer.

" You did right to leave him in his error relative to where
you received the glass from," said Peter Anderson ; " there
is some mystery there which time may unravel, but do not
say a word of it to any one, Tom. I am glad that you have
told me, as in case you are away, and anything should occur,
I shall know how to act."

I must acknowledge that I now walked proudly through
the streets of Greenwich. I was no longer Poor Jack, but
I was earning my livelihood in my profession. I had reason



to be still prouder when, two days afterwards, Mr. Wilson
carne to my mother's with the newspaper in his hand in which
there was a long account of the capture of the privateer, and
the conduct of Bramble and of me spoken of in the highest
terms. This he read aloud to my mother and Virginia. I
watched my sister. The tears filled her eyes as she listened,
and when Mr. Wilson had done, her arms were round
my neck, and her smiles were mixed with her tears, and
sometimes she would laugh as she cried. Oh ! how I
loved her then, for I felt how dearly she loved me ; even
my mother appeared gratified, although she said nothing,
but continued to repair the lace veil upon which she had
been employed. That evening I went with Virginia to
call upon Mrs. St. Felix, taking with me the presents I
had laid aside for her. She welcomed me as usual, and
accepted what I brought for her without hesitation and with
many thanks.

"Well, Mr. Tom," said she, "I'll just put away all your
nice little remembrances, and then I'll tell you that I've
heard all about your behaviour in the fight with the priva-
teer, and I've no doubt but that, if you continue to go on as
you've begun, you will one day have a leg the less, as your
father has before you."

" I hope not," replied I ; "two legs are better than one."

" Yes, when you want to run away, that's true. I see now
why you're so anxious to save your legs."

" But, Mrs. St. Felix, if it had not been for that good spy-
glass you gave me, I never should have discovered the priva-
teer, and we should not have been prepared for her."

" Well, that's fortunate ; it didn't prove a glass too much,
anyhow, or you'd have seen double. I suppose, then, all
these pretty things are my share of the prize-money."

"No, they are no value, except to prove to you that Poor
Jack has not forgotten your kindness, and never will."

" That I believe ; and believing that, I suppose you have
not forgotten old Nanny."

"No; but I have not seen her yet. I intend to go to-
morrow ; but I have something for the doctor. He is not at
home, will you give it to him ? "

" Certainly ; you know I am as good as a mother to



K \ think the doctor would rather you'd be a wife to

" That's a foolish idea that's in many people's heads,
Tom, which I'll thank you to contradict. I never intend to
change my name."

" Don't make too sure/' replied I ; and I added at a
venture (why, I know not, but I had formed the idea in my
mind that St. Felix was not her proper name), "you may
change it yet for your real name."

" Tom, Tom," cried the widow, " what do you mean ? "

" Nothing," replied I, " I was only joking."

"Well then, don't talk such nonsense, or I shall send you
out of the shop."

I had, however, it appeared, struck upon a chord which
jarred, and all the spirits of Mrs. St. Felix vanished at once.
So Virginia and I wished her a good evening, and returned


Some little difference in the proceeds of this chapter, and my
former " Copper for Poor Jack, your honour."

\JN our arrival at my mother's I found a letter from
Bramble, stating that he would be at Greenwich in two
days, and further informing me that the Honourable Com-
pany had been pleased, in consequence of the report made
of our good behaviour, to award to him the sum of two
hundred pounds, and to me the sum of one hundred pounds,
as a remuneration for our assistance in the capture of the

This was news indeed. One hundred pounds ! I never
thought that I should possess such a sum in my life. One
hundred pounds ! what should I do with it ? My mother was
astonished, and then fell into a very grave mood. Virginia
was pleased, but appeared to care less about it than I thought
she would have done. My father came in as usual with Ben
the Whaler, and I read the letter.

" Why, Tom, that's about as much prize-money as I have



made in all ray sarvice," said my father, "and you've been
afloat only four months. Come, missis, send for some beer,
and let us drink Tom's health, and success to him. God
bless you, my boy ! the papers say you deserved it, and
that's better than your getting it. I'm proud of you ; I am,
indeed, my boy ; your father's proud of you, Tom " and
here my father showed more emotion than ever I witnessed
in him before ; however, he put his lips to the porter-pot,
and when he had drained it nearly to the bottom, he had
quite recovered himself.

"Well, Tom," said Ben, after he had finished the small
modicum of beer left him by my father, "and what do you
mean to do with all that money ?"

" I'm sure I don't know I have no want of it I have
everything I wish for."

" Come, missis," said my father, " we must have another
pot, for I drank deep, and Ben has been shared out." My
mother very graciously sent for another pot of porter, which,
with the newspaper, occupied Ben and my father till it was
time for us to break up and go to bed.

The next morning when I went down I found Virginia
alone, my mother having returned to her room.

" Tom," said she, " what do you think my mother said to
me when we were going to bed last night ? '

"Tell me."

" She said, ' Tom says he don't know what to do with his
money. I only wish I had it ; I would turn it into three
times the sum in three years, and have a better home for
you, my dear.' "

" Did she say how ? "

" Yes, I asked her how ; she said that she should take a
new house with a shop up the town, and set up as a milliner,
with apprentices ; that, as soon as she was fairly employed, she
should give up getting up fine linen, and only take in laces
to wash and mend, which was a very profitable business."

" Well," says I, " Virginia, my mother is a hard-working
woman, and a clever woman, and I dare say she would do
very well, and as she says she would have a better home for
you, I think I shall let her have the money ; but I won't
say so yet. I must talk about it to Peter Anderson, and it'
he don't say no, she shall have it with pleasure."



" That will be very kind of you, Tom ; and I hope mother
will feel it, for you don't owe her much."

"Nevermind that; after breakfast I'll see Peter Anderson;
don't say a word about it till I come back."

At breakfast-time my mother still appeared to be very
thoughtful : the fact was, that the idea of what advantage the
money would be had taken possession of her mind ; and per-
haps she thought that there was no chance of obtaining it. Per-
haps she felt that, had she treated me better, she would have
had it without difficulty it was impossible to say exactly.

After breakfast I walked with Virginia to her school, and
then set off to Anderson, to whom I immediately imparted
what had taken place. His answer was decided

"I think, Jack, you can't do better; but at the same
time, let us go to your father and hear his opinion."

My father coincided with Anderson and me ; and he
added, " I tell you what, your mother is not parfect exactly
though I say it, as shouldn't say it but still she does
work hard, and she will work hard ; she has paid my little
girl's schooling out of her own arnings, and, moreover, she
has found me one pot of porter at least every night, which
has made me very comfortable. Now, I've still a matter of
forty pounds in the lieutenant's hands ; I'll add it to Tom's
hundred pounds, and then she will have a fair start. What
d'ye think, Peter ? "

" I think you are both right ; and, Tom, you are doing
your duty."

I knew what Anderson meant. I thanked him for his
advice, and my father and I went to my mother's house. I
requested my father to stand spokesman, which he did,
ending by telling my mother that my hundred pounds and
his forty pounds were very much at her sarvice, and good
luck to her. Virginia's eyes glistened as she took me by
the hand. My mother replied, " Very well, if we pleased,
she would do her best for us all."

The answer was hardly gracious, but I watched her
countenance, and saw she was moved. Her thin lips
quivered as she turned away and went upstairs, which she
did immediately after her reply. In about half-an-hour,
during which I was laughing with Virginia, my mother
came downstairs in her shawl and bonnet.



"Tom," said she, in a kind manner, "will you walk with
Virginia to school this afternoon, as I am going to have
some conversation with Mr. Wilson?"

The alteration in her tone ot voice to me was immediately
perceived by Virginia.

" You are a dear good Tom," said she, kissing me, as soon
as my mother had left the house.

As soon as I had left Virginia at school I went to call
upon old Nanny, whom I found quite brisk and lively, sorting
old keys and rusty hinges.

"Well, Jack," said she, "so you are come at last! I
thought you would have been here yesterday, but nobody
cares about an old woman like me. I heard all about you,
and how you took the privateer, and how the Company
have given you a hundred pounds ; and when I heard that,
I said, ' Now Jack (Poor Jack that was, who came begging
to old Nanny to lend him money) will not come to see me,
he'll be too proud. Besides, I said, his family is getting
up in the world ; there's a baronet and his lady who have
taken them under their protection, arid there's lawyer
Wilson calls at the house. Oh dear me ! it's the way
of us all.' "

"And so you said all that to yourself, did you ?" replied I.

" Yes, and a great deal more too."

"Then, mother, you did me injustice. I could not well
come before ; I had to see my father and mother and my
sister, and I had business to transact."

" Mercy on us ! business to transact ! Poor Jack had
business to transact ! Here's a change from the time that
his whole business was to touch his hat for coppers., and dip
his head in the mud for a penny."

" Nevertheless, what I say is true, and you are very
unjust to accuse me as you have done. I have always
thought of you, and have now with me several things that
I have collected for you."

" Yes, you promised me. Jack, you do keep your
promises ; I will say that for you. Well, what have you

I opened my handkerchief, and pulled out several little
articles, such as fine worked baskets, shells, c., and among
the rest, a pound of tea in a leaden canister.



"There, mother, I have brought you them as a present,
and I hope you will take them."

Old Nanny turned them over one by one rather con-
temptuously, as I thought, until she came to the tea. " That
may do," said she. " Why, Jack, those are all very pretty
things, but they are too pretty for my shop. Why didn't
you bring me some empty gingerbeer bottles ? I could have
sold them this very morning."

" Why, mother, I really did not like to ask for such

te No, there it is ; you've grown so fine all of a sudden.
These are no use, for nobody will come to my shop to buy

"I thought you would like to keep them yourself,

" Keep them ? Oh, they are keepsakes, are they ? Look
you, Jack, if they are to be kept you had better take them
away at once, and giv^e them to the young girls. Girls like
keepsakes, old women like money."

" Well, mother, sell them if you please ; they are your

" Sell them ? let me see yes, I think I know where
there is a sort of curiosity-shop, in Church Street ; but it's a
long way to walk, Jack, and that let me see," continued
she, counting the different articles, "one, two, three seven
times, Jack."

"But why not take them all at once."

" All at once, you stupid boy ! I should get no more for
two than for one. No, no; one at a time, and I may make
a few shillings. Well, Jack, it's very kind of you after all, so
don't mind my being a little cross ; it was not on account of
the things, but because you did not come to see me, and I've
been looking out for you."

" If I had thought that, I would have come sooner,
mother, although it would not have been convenient."

" I believe you, Jack, I believe you ; but you young
people can't feel as an old woman like I do. There is but
one thing I love in the world, Jack, now, and that's you ;
and when I get weary of waiting for that one thing, and it
don't come, Jack, it does make a poor old woman like me a
little cross for the time."



I was touched with this last speech of old Nanny's, who
had never shown me any such a decided mark of kindness
before. " Mother," said I, " depend upon it, whenever I
return to Greenwich, you shall be the first person that I
come to see after I have been to my mother's."

" That's kind, Jack, and you keep your promise always.
Now sit down ; you don't want to go away already, do
you ?"

" No, mother ; I came to spend the whole morning with

"Well, then, sit down take care, Jack, you'll knock
down that bottle. Now tell me, what do you intend to do
with your hundred pounds ? "

" I have settled that already, mother. I have given it

" Already ! Why, the boy has one hundred pounds given
him on the morning, and he gives it away before night.
Mercy on us ! who would ever think of leaving you any
money ? "

" No one, mother ; and I never expect any except what I

"Why, Jack, do you know how much one hundred
pounds is ?"

" I think so."

" Now, Jack, tell me the truth, who did you give it to,
your father, or your little sister, or who ? for I can't under-
stand how a person could give away one hundred pounds in
any way or to anybody."

" Well, then, I gave it to my mother."

" Your mother ! your mother, who has hated you, wished
you dead, half-starved you ! Jack, is that possible ? "

" My mother has not been fond of me, but she has worked
hard for my sister. This hundred pounds will enable her to
do much better than she does now, and it's of no use to me.
Mother may love me yet, Nanny."

" She ought to," replied old Nanny gravely ; and then she
covered her face up with her hands. "Oh, what a differ-
ence ! " ejaculated she at last.

" Difference, mother, difference ? in what ? "

" Oh, Jack, between you and somebody else. Don't
talk about it any more, Jack," said Nanny, casting her eyes



clown to the presents I had brought her. " I recollect the
time," continued she, evidently talking to herself, " that I
had plenty of presents ; ay, and when it was thought a great
favour if I would accept them. That was when I was young
and beautiful ; yes, people would laugh if they heard me,
young and very beautiful, or men's smiles and women's hate
were thrown away

" ' Why so pale and wan, fond lover ;
Prithee, why so pale ? '

Yes, yes, bygones are bygones."

I was much surprised to hear old Nanny attempt to sing,
and could hardly help laughing ; but I restrained myself.
She didn't speak again, but continued bent over one of the
baskets, as if thinking about former days. I broke the
silence by saying -

" What part of the country did you live in when you
were young, mother ? "

" In the north part. But never ask questions."

" Yes, but, mother, I wish to ask questions. I wish you to
tell me your whole history. I will not tell it again to any
one, I promise you."

" But why should you wish to know the history of a poor
old thing like me ? "

" Because, mother, I am sure you must have seen better

" And if I have, Jack, is it kind to ask me to bring up to
memory the days when I was fair and rich, when the world
smiled upon me, and I was fool enough to think that it
would always smile ? is it kind to recall what was to an old,
miserable, deserted wretch like me, struggling to keep out
of the workhouse ? Look at me now, Jack, and see what I
now am ; is it not cruel to bring to my mind what I once
was ? Go to, Jack, you're a selfish boy, and I don't love

" Indeed, mother, if I thought it would have given you
pain, I never would have asked you ; but you cannot wonder
at me. Recollect that you have ever been my best friend ;
you trusted me when nobody else would ; and can you be
surprised at my feeling an interest about you ? Why,
mother, I don't even know your name."



" Well, Jack, you have put things in a better light. I do
believe that you care for me, and who else does ? But, Jack,
my name you never shall know, even if I am to tell you all
the rest."

" Were you ever married, mother ? "

" Yes, child, I was married. Now, what's . the next
question ? " continued she impatiently.

" Had you any children ? "

"Yes, boy, I had one one that was a source of misery
and shame to his doting mother." Old Nanny pressed her
eyeballs with her knuckles as if in agony.

" I won't ask you any more questions," said I mournfully.

" Not now, Jack, that's a good boy ; some other day, per-
haps, I'll tell you all. There's a lesson in every life, and a
warning in too many. You'll come again, Jack yes, I know
you'll come to hear my story, so I shall see you once more be-
fore you leave ; go now." Old Nanny rose and went indoors,
taking her stool in her hand, and leaving the presents where
they lay, outside a proof that she was in great agitation. I
put them inside the threshold, and then went homewards.

I could not help remarking, as I walked home, that old
Nanny's language and manner appeared very superior when
she broke out in these reminiscences of the past, and I felt
more interest in her than I ever had before. On my return
I found Bramble, who had come down sooner than he was
expected, sitting in the parlour with Peter Anderson and my
father, all smoking, with porter on the table.

"Well, Tom," said Bramble, "here I am two days before
my time, but that's better than being two days after it, and
what's more, I've got the money, both yours and mine.
They told me I should not get it for three months at least ;
but I sent up my name to the Board, and explained to them
that a pilot could not wait like a purser while they were
passing accounts, so the gentleman laughed, and gave me an
order for it ; and I've got all my pilotage too, so I'm a rich man
just now. Come, I'll give you yours at once, and I hope it
may not be the last hundred pounds that you'll pick up."

Bramble pulled his leathern case out of his pilot jacket,
and counted out ten ten-pound notes. "There, Jack, you
ought to give me a receipt, for I signed for you at the India



"Oh, you've plenty of witnesses/' replied I, as I collected
the notes, and giving them to Virginia, told her to take
them to my mother, who was upstairs in her room.

" To tell you the truth, Jack, this two hundred pounds,
which I earned so easily, has just come in the right time,
and with it and my pilotage I shall now be able to do what I
have long wished."

" And what's that ? " inquired I. " Something for Bessy,
I suppose."

" Exactly, Tom, it is something for Bessy ; that is, it will
be by-and-by. I've a good matter of money, which I've
laid by year after year, and worked hard for it too, and I
never have known what to do with it. I can't understand
the Funds and those sort of things, so I have kept some here
and some there. Now, you know the grass land at the back
of the cottage : it forms part of a tidy little farm, which is
rented for seventy pounds a year by a good man, and it has
been for sale these three years ; but I never could manage
the price till now. When we go back to Deal I shall try if
I can buy that farm ; for you see, money may slip through
a man's fingers in many ways, but land can't run away ;
and, as you say, it will be Bessy's one of these days and
more too, if I can scrape it up."

" You are right, Bramble," said Peter Anderson, " and I
am glad to hear that you can afford to buy the land."

" Why, there's money to be picked up by pilotage if
you work hard, and aren't afraid of heavy ships," replied

" Well, I never had a piece of land, and never shall have,
I suppose," said my father. " I wonder how a man must
feel who can stand on a piece of ground and say, 'This is
my own ! ' '

" Who knows, father ? it's not impossible but you may."

ff Impossible ! No, nothing's impossible, as they say on
board of a man-of-war. It's not impossible to get an apology
out of a midshipman, but it's the next thing to it."

" Why do they say that, father ? "

" Because midshipmen are so saucy why, I don't know.
They haven't no rank as officers, nor so much pay as a
petty officer, and yet they give themselves more airs than
a lieutenant."



" I'l tell you why," replied Anderson. " A lieutenant
takes care what he is about. He is an officer, and has some-
thing to lose ; but a midshipman has nothing to lose, and
therefore he cares about nothing. You can't break a mid-
shipman, as the saying is, unless you break his neck. And
they have necks which aren't easily broken, that's sartain."

" They do seem to me to have more lives than a cat,"
observed my father, who after a pause continued, " Well,
I was saying how hai'd it was to get an apology out of a
midshipman. I'll just tell you what took place on board of
one ship I served in. There was a young midshipman on
board who was mighty free with his tongue ; he didn't care
what he said to anybody, from the captain downward. He'd
have his joke, come what would, and he'd set everybody
a-laughing ; punish him as much as you please, it was all
the same. One day, when we were off Halifax Harbour,
the master, who was a good-tempered fellow enough, but
not over bright, was angry with this young chap for some-
thing that he had not done, and called him a ' confounded
young bear,' upon which the youngster runs to the Jacob-
ladder of the main-rigging, climbs up, and as soon as he had
gained the main rattlings he cries out, 'Well, if I'm a bear,
you aren't fit to carry guts to a bear.' ' What, sir ? ' cried
the master. ' Mutiny, by heavens ! Up to the masthead,
sir, directly.' ' Don't you see that I was going of my own
accord ? ' replied the midshipman ; for, you see, he knew that
he would be sent there, so he went up the rigging on purpose.
Well, this was rather a serious affair, and so the master re-
ports it to the first lieutenant, who reports it to the captain,
who sends for the youngster on the quarter-deck, at the

time that the ship's company were at quarters. ' Mr. '

(I forget his name), said the captain (drawing himself up to
his full height, and perhaps an inch or two above it, as they

Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 17 of 58)