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Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

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preceding chapter.

Jc ROM the time that I had passed my examination, and
worked as a pilot on my own account, until the period of
our escape, which I have narrated in the preceding chapter,
I had continued to live in the cottage with Bramble, without
contributing any share to the expenses. I had at first pro-
posed it, but Bramble would not listen to any such arrange-
ment ; he considered me, he said, as his son, and who knowed,
he added, but that the cottage would be mine after he was
gone. The fact was that Bramble ardently wished that Bessy
and I should be united. He continually hinted at it, joked
with Bessy about me ; and I believe that, in consequence,
Bessy's feelings towards me had taken the same bent. She
was prepared for the issue ; the regard naturally felt for me
from her long intimacy, now that the indulgence of it was so
openly sanctioned by him whom she considered as her father,
was not checked on her part ; indeed, there was no doubt but
that it had ripened into love. She showed it in every little
way that her maiden modesty did not interfere with, and old
Bramble would at times throw out such strong hints of our
eventual union as to make me feel very uncomfortable. They
neither of them had any idea of my heart having been pre-
engaged, and the strangeness of my manner was ascribed by
Bramble to my feelings towards Bessy. Bessy, however, was
not so easily deceived ; my conduct towards her appeared, to
say the best of it, very inconsistent. So often had I had
opportunities, especially when I was at home and Bramble
was away, of speaking on the subject, and so often had these
opportunities been neglected, that it filled her mind with
doubt and anxiety. After having accepted my addresses at
first, Janet had once or twice written to me ; latterly, how-
ever, she had not written herself all her messages were
through Virginia's letters, or, perhaps, she would add a little
postscript. Had letters arrived for me in any other hand-

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POOR JACK

writing than that of Virginia, Bessy, after her suspicions were
roused, might have easily guessed the truth ; but it was the
absence of any clue to guide her as to the state of my feelings
which so much puzzled her. She was fully convinced that
my heart was not hers, but she had no reason to suppose that
it was in the possession of another. Thus did my passion for
Janet Wilson in everyway prove to me a source of anxiety. I
knew that it was my duty to undeceive Bramble and Bessy,
yet the task was too painful, and I could not make up my
mind to make them unhappy. I felt that I had no right to
remain under Bramble's roof and live at his expense, and,
at the same time, I could not find an opportunity of telling
him what my feelings and wishes were, the very mention of
which would at once explain to him that the desire of his old
age would never be accomplished. I often accused myself of
ingratitude, and felt as if it were my duty to make every
sacrifice to one who had been so kind a protector ; but I was
bound by vows to Janet Wilson, and how was it possible that
I could retract ?

Virginia's letters Avere not satisfactory : at first she told
me how much she had been annoyed by the attentions of
the young nobleman, and how very indelicate my mother
had been in her conduct ; eventually she informed me that
she had been insulted by him, and that, upon complaining
to my mother, the latter had, much to her surprise and
indignation, not only laughed at his extreme forwardness,
but pointed out to Virginia a line of conduct by which he
might be entrapped into marriage ; that her refusal to accede
to such unworthy devices had created a serious breach be-
tween her mother and herself. She stated the young man
to be extremely silly and weak, and that my mother had
gained great influence over him ; and were it not that the
presence of the tutor, who seldom quitted the house, had
proved a check, that there was little doubt but, as far as
the young man was concerned, the disproportionate match
would be readily acceded to ; that the only person she had
ventured to consult was her dear friend Mrs. St. Felix, who
had promised her, if the persecution did not cease, that
she would make Mr. Sommerville the tutor aware of what
was going on. Virginia described the latter as an amiable,
modest young man, who did all in his power to instruct

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POOR JACK

his pupil,, but who was treated with anything but deference
in return.

Relative i.o Janet she said little, except that she generally
called there every day to make inquiries after me : once or
twice she did say that it was a pity that I was not able to
come oftener to Greenwich, as Janet was not very steady ;
indeed, considering how young she was, without a mother,
and so little controlled by her father, it was not to be
wondered at.

Such was the state of affairs when I made up my mind
that I would speak to Bramble about my paying my share
of the expenses, which I thought would open his eyes to the
real state of my feeling towards Bessy : I did so ; I pointed
out to him that I was now earning money fast, and that I
considered it but fair that I should support myself, and not
put him to further expense ; that perhaps it would be better
that I should take a house for myself, as I must give a great
deal of trouble to Bessy and Mrs. Maddox.

"Well, Tom," said Bramble, "you've been at me about
this before, and I believe it's a proper feeling, after all. It
certainly does seem to me to be a matter of little conse-
quence, as things stand ; however, I can't consent to your
leaving us. You have been with me ever since you were a
lad, and I should feel like a fish out of water if I were
to be without you or Bessy ; so pay just what you please
I'll take it since you wish it and there's an end of the
matter."

This was not the end to which I was driving ; but Bramble's
eyes would not be opened, and I could not help it. He had
never directly spoken to me about an union with Bessy, and
therefoi'e it was impossible for me to say any more. Bramble,
however, did not fail to communicate what I had said to
her ; and one evening when we were standing on the shingle
beach, she said to me, " So Emerson has been convicted for
smuggling, and sentenced beyond the seas."

" I am sorry for it," replied I.

" His house is to be let now, Tom ; would it not suit you ?
for my father told me that you wished to leave us."

" Why should I live upon you when I am able to support
myself? "

" Certainly not. If it were not that I could not bear to



POOR JACK

see father miserable, I think it would be better if you did
take Emerson's house ; but it would vex him, poor good
man."

" But not you, Bessy ; is it that you mean ? "

" Perhaps it is. Tell me yourself, Tom, would it not be
better ? "

I made no reply.

" Well," replied Bessy, " think of me as you please ; I will
speak now, Tom. I am not considering you, Tom, nor am I
thinking of myself; I am only induced so to do on account
of my father. We have been brought up together as
children, Tom, and, as children, we were great friends, and,
I believe, sincerely attached to each other. I believe it to
be very true that those who are brought up together as
brothers and sisters do not change that affection for any
other more serious in after life. It is therefore not our faults
if we cannot feel as, you must know, Tom, my father wishes
we should. Am I not right ? "

" You are, I believe, Bessy," replied I.

" My father, therefore, is deceiving himself with the hopes
of what never can take place, but I know him even better
than you do, Tom ; it is the object of his daily thoughts
his only wish before he sinks into his grave. I cannot
bear to undeceive him ; no more can you, if I have truly
judged your feelings."

"You have judged right, Bessy."

" The very circumstance of our knowing his wishes, the
hints which he throws out, his joking on the subject, have
been a source of annoyance to both of us ; and not only a
source of annoyance, Tom, it has estranged us we no longer
feel that affection which we should feel for each other, that
kindness as between brother and sister which might exist ;
on the contrary, not being exactly aware of each other's
feelings, we avoid each other, and fearful that the least
kindness might be misconstrued, we do not really treat each
as we otherwise would ; in fact, it has destroyed our mutual
confidence. Is it not so ? "

" It is, I acknowledge, but too true, Bessy, and I thank
you for having entered into this explanation

" Which, as I said before," continued Bessy, " I should not
have done except for the sake of my father ; but now that



POOR JACK

I have done so " (and here Bessy's voice became tremulous),
"let us consult at once how we shall act so as to secure his
happiness, and that in future we may return to the former
confidence and regard which should exist between us as
brother and sister."

" Point out how this is to be done, Bessy, and I will cheer-
fully enter into you wishes."

" We must laugh when he laughs, Tom, even if not in-
clined ; we must gain time that is very easy : I may refuse
as long as he lives you may put it off; and then, Tom,
circumstances may help us who knows what even a day
may bring forth ? "

" Very true," replied I, " there's only one thing "

" What is that ? "

" Suppose I was to marry ? "

"Then," replied Bessy, in a voice half choked, as she
turned away, " my father would be very unhappy."

I looked round to reply, but she had gone into the cottage.
This conversation gave me great satisfaction. I felt con-
vinced that if I had at one time formed the idea that Bessy
was attached to me, I had been mistaken, and I was as
indifferent to her as she was to me. I was just as anxious as
she was not to vex Bramble, and equally glad that confidence
was restored between us. Alas ! I must have been very
blind not to have perceived what was the true state of her
feelings, but I did not, and after some reflection I determined
that I would make her a confidant of my passion for Janet
Wilson ; and then I walked to the post-office to see if there
were any letters from Virginia. There was a letter for me
a double one. As soon as I had paid the money, I opened
it ; it was very closely written, and evidently Virginia had
much to communicate to me. I forgot for the moment Bessy
and Bramble, thought only of Janet, and put the letter to
my lips as I walked away, that I might go home and read it.
I hurried past Bessy, who was in the parlour, and went up
the stairs into my bedroom, where I took my letter out of
my pocket and commenced it.

" I5th April.

" MY DEAR TOM, I shall begin a letter to you now, and
fill it up as a sort of a diary ; as it is the best plan, I think,

' 254



POOR JACK

to narrate circumstances as they actually take place. It is
unpleasant to say anything against my mother, the more so
as I believe that she thinks she has been doing right, and
lias my interest sincerely at heart : she appears to consider
that an alliance with people of rank cannot be purchased too
dear, and that every attempt is justifiable to secure for me
such an advantage. Little does she know me : if she forgets,
I never shall, that I am the daughter of a Greenwich pen-
sioner, and never would ally myself with those whose rela-
tions would look upon me as a disgrace to their family. No,
Tom ; even if I were so heedless as to allow my affections
to be enthralled, I would at any sacrifice refuse to enter into
a family much beyond my condition. I have thought of
this often, and I confess that I am sometimes unhappy. I
have been brought up and educated above my situation in
life, and I do not think I ever could marry a person who was
not more refined and educated than those who are really
and truly my equals. But as, at the same time, I never will
enter into a family who might look down upon my parentage,
I presume your little Virginia must remain unmarried. If
so, 1 am content I have no wish to alter my present con-
dition. I am happy and respected ; and with the exception
of the trifling annoyances which we all must expect and
must submit to, I have no reason to be dissatisfied ; on the
contrary, I have to be grateful for many blessings, and I
trust that I am so. My poor mother is the cause of all my
present vexations. She tells me that my beaut} 7 , as she is
partially pleased to call it, is sufficient for my aspiring to
the hand of a duke, and that it will be my own fault if I
do not make a high connection. Every night she has been
overwhelming me with alternate reproaches and entreaties
to permit the attentions of the gay gentleman who is now
lodging at our house, stating that it was on my account
only that he took the apartments, and that, if I play my
cards well, he will be caught in his own trap, which, I
presume, is as much as to say that he came here with
different intentions, and finding that he cannot succeed, will
secure his intended prize or victim by marriage rather than
not obtain her at all. Very flattering, truly ! and this is
the man to whom my mother would induce me to confide
my future happiness a man who, independent of his want

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POOR JACK

of probity, is a fool into the bargain. But the persecution
on his part and on that of my mother now becomes so
annoying, that I have requested Mrs. St. Felix to speak to
Mr. Sommerville the tutor, who, if he does his duty and I
have every reason to believe that he will do so will take
some measures to remove his pupil from our house.

" \lth. Mrs. St. Felix and Mr. Sommerville have had a
meeting. He generally walks out every afternoon in the
park ; and Mrs. St. Felix and he have already been intro-
duced : she therefore went out and met him, and after ex-
changing a few woi'ds she introduced the subject, stating
that she did so at my request. Mr. Sommerville, although
he had not been blind, had had no idea that things had pro-
ceeded so far; and he promised Mrs. St. Felix that he would
soon put an end to the persecution, or remove him from our
house. Janet has been here to-day, and I told her what had
passed ; she very much approved of the steps which I had
taken. I must, however, say that latterly she has not
appeared to take that interest about you that she used to do,
and I fear that your continual absence is injurious to your
prospects. She is very young and very giddy, Tom : I wish
she had been older, as, even when she is your wife, she will
require much looking after, and a firm hand to settle her
down into what a married woman in my opinion ought to be.
Mr. Sommerville has requested me to favour him with a few
minutes' conversation ; and as I cannot do it in our house,
for my mother never leaves me a minute to myself, I told
him that I should be at Mrs. St. Felix's this afternoon, and
he could speak to me then. He knows that I have no
secrets from Mrs. St. Felix ; and although it is not pleasant
to resort to such means, still there can be no impropriety in
my hearing what he has to tell me in her presence.

"I have seen Mr. Sommerville he thanked me very
much for having communicated, through Mrs. St. Felix, my
mother's plot against his protege, and paid me many compli-
ments upon my behaviour, which were quite unnecessary.
He told me that he had spoken to his pupil, who had most
positively denied his having any such intention, and stated
that he was merely amusing himself, and he had pledged
himself not to take the least notice of me for the future.
' I am well aware,' said he, ' that what he has stated is not

256



POOR JACK

correct ; he has not deceived me by his assertions ; and were
it not that I feel confidence in you, Miss Virginia/ continued
he, ' I would write to his father that he might be immedi-
ately removed. I hardly need say, that should anything of
this kind take place, I should be most severely blamed: it
is not the first time that I have been compelled to interfere,
for my pupil is of a very susceptible disposition, and has
fancied himself in love with at least five young people since
he has been under my charge. In this instance/ continued
he, making me a bow, ' he has some extenuation to offer.
Will you oblige me by informing me if he adheres to his
promise ? or do you wish that I should speak to your
mother ? '

" Mrs. St. Felix replied that it would be unnecessary ;
indeed, that if Lord - left the house I should only be
subject to fresh persecution. Mr. Sommerville, at her re-
quest, stayed to drink tea, and is certainly a very pleasant,
well-informed, amiable young man.

"23rd. I have received no molestation since the explana-
tion with Mr. Sommerville, except from my mother, who
accuses me of having affronted Lord ; and although I
deny it, she asserts that he never could have so changed his
conduct towards both of us if I had not so done. I have not
seen Janet this week I cannot imagine what has become
of her.

" 24>th. You may imagine my joy, my dear Tom: Mr.
Sommerville has received a letter, stating that his lordship is
to go down to his father's seat in the country, as he will be
of age in a month, and he is to make acquaintance with the
tenants ; there are to be great rejoicings there upon his
coming of age. I am sure no one can rejoice more than I
shall when he leaves, which is to be next Saturday. I am
also very glad to say that the Marquess has presented Mr.
Sommerville with a valuable living, now that he gives up his
tutorship. I really think he will do justice to his profession, for
I have seen more of him lately, and esteem him very much.

" 27th. They are gone, much to my mother's mortification,
and to my delight ; and now, as I have written so much about
myself, I shall leave this letter open till I see Janet, that I
may tell you something about her, otherwise I know my letter
will not be interesting to you.



POOR JACK

"31st. My dear Tom, you must prepare yourself for painful
intelligence.

"Janet has disappeared. She left her father's house last
night after the family had retired, but no one knows where :
she left a few lines on her table, stating that they would hear
from her soon. Poor Mr. Wilson was here to-day he is half
distracted and the whole town is full of the scandal. Mrs.
St. Felix told me this morning that she has discovered that
within the last week she had been seen walking on the
London Road with Lord . Is it possible ?

" fyid May. It is all true Mrs. St. Felix has a letter from
Mr. Sommerville, stating that Janet was brought up to town
and married to Lord two days ago. It appears, that
from the time that I repulsed his attentions, he fixed them
upon Janet ; that she encouraged him, and used to meet him
every night, as Mrs. St. Felix was informed. Mr. Sommerville
has seen his father, and fully exculpated himself; but the
Marquess declares, as his son is a minor, that the marriage
shall not be binding. How it will end Heaven only knows ;
but she is much to be pitied. This will account for her not
coming to me as usual. Now, Tom, I do not suppose you
will pay attention to me at present, but from what I knew of
Janet, and which her conduct has fully proved, she was not
worthy to be your wife, and could not have contributed to
your happiness. I pity you from my heart, as I know what
you will feel; but still I congratulate you, and eventually you
Will congratulate yourself at your fortunate escape.

" I will say no more at present, except that I am, and ever
will be, your truly attached sister, VIRGINIA."

I had courage to finish the letter, and then it dropped
from my hands. I was bewildered, stupefied, maddened.
As my sister said, I did indeed feel. Was it possible ?
Janet, who had mercy on me ! I threw myself on the
bed, and there I remained till the next morning in a state
most pitiable.

It is only those who have been deceived in their first
attachment who can appreciate my agony of feeling.
Fo/r the first few hours I hated the whole world, and,
had then the means been at hand, should in all probability
have hastened into another; but gradually my excitement

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POOR JACK

abated ; I found relief in tears of sorrow and indignation.
I arose at daylight the next morning, worn out with
contending feelings, heavy and prostrated in mind. I went
out stood on the beach, the keen breeze cooled my fevered
cheek. For hours I leant motionless upon an anchor, all
hope of future happiness abandoned for ever.



CHAPTER XXXVHI

Which is all about love Bramble confides to me all his
acquaintance with the tender passion.

_L O conceal from Bramble or Bessy the state of mind to
which I was reduced was impossible. I was in a condition
of prostration against which I could not rally ; and I believe
that there never was a person who had been disappointed in
his first love who .did not feel as I did that is, if he really
loved with a sincere, pure, and holy feeling; for I do not
refer to the fancied attachments of youth, which may be said
to be like the mere flaws of wind which precede the steady
gale. I could not, for several days, trust myself to speak, I
sat silent and brooding over the words, the looks, the smiles,
the scenes which had promised me a store of future happiness
such as would probably have been the case, as far as we
can be happy in this world, had I fixed my affections upon a
true and honest, instead of a fickle and vain, woman ; had I
built my house upon a rock, instead of one upon the sand
which, as pointed out by the Scriptures, had been washed
away, and had disappeared for ever ! Bramble and Bessy in
vain attempted to gain from me the cause of my dejection ; I
believe that they had many conversations upon it when I
was absent, but whatever may have been their surmises, they
treated me with every kindness and consideration. About a
week after I had received the letter, Bramble said to me,
" Come, Tom, we have had an easterly wind for ten days
now, they are going off in a galley to-morrow suppose we
go too ; it's no use' staying here moping and doing nothing.
You've been out of sorts lately, and it will do you good." I

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POOR JACK

thought so too, and consented ; but the other pilots were not
ready, and our departure was deferred till the day after.
Bramble had acquainted me in the morning with this delay;
I was annoyed at it, for I was restless, and wished for change.
My bundle had been prepared ; I had passed the best part of
the night in writing to Virginia, and was, as people very often
are when under such oppressed feelings, in anything but a
good humour at being obliged to remain another day at Deal.
I had walked out to the beach after we had breakfasted, and
had remained there some time. Bramble had gone out in
the direction of the post-office, and I asked him to inquire if
there was a letter for me, for I thought it very likely that
Virginia might have written to me again. I had remained
for an hour on the beach, when I recollected that my knife
required to be sharpened, and I walked round the cottage to
the backyard, where there was a small grindstone. I had
not put my knife to it, when I heard Bramble come in and
say to Bessy

" Well, girl, I've found it all out ; for, you see, I thought
old Anderson might know something about it, or, if he did
not, he could inquire, and I've got the whole story. Here's
Anderson's letter. I thought there must be something of
that sort."

Here there was a pause, as if Bessy was reading the
letter.

" Only to think she's run away with a young lord," said
Bramble.

" So it seems," replied Bessy. " I'm sorry for poor Tom,
for he feels it severely."

" I'm not sorry," rejoined Bramble ; " she wasn't deserving
of him ; and, Bessy, I'm glad for your sake."

" Don't say that, father ; Tom will never think of me, nor
do I care about him."

" 1 don't exactly believe that, Bessy, for all you say so.
It's my wish, and you know it, Bessy, to see you and Tom
spliced before I die ; and I thank Heaven that this false
girl is out of the way I've more hopes now."

" Marriages are made in heaven, father," replied Bessy ;
" so, pray don't say anything more about it. It will be time
enough for me to think of Tom when Tom appears to think
of me. I shall always love him as a brother."

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POOR JACK

" Well, God's will be done ! We must now try and con-
sole him, poor fellow : and I'm very glad that we're off
to-morrow. Salt water cures love, they say, sooner than
anything else."

" It may, perhaps," replied Bessy ; " but I feel that if I
were once really in love the whole ocean itself could not
wash my love out. However, women are not men."

"That's true. You hug your love as you do your



Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 23 of 58)