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Frederick Marryat.

Poor Jack; and The settlers in Canada online

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ness ? Do, my dear boy, make Bramble, Bessy, yourself,
and all of us happy, by weaning yourself from the memory
of one who was undeserving of you, and fixing your affections
upon her who will be as steadfast and as true to you as the
other was false and capricious."

I promised Anderson that I would think seriously of
what he said ; and I kept my word, using all my endeavours
to drive the image of Janet from my memory, and sub-
stitute that of Bessy. I often recalled the latter to my
mind as she lay, beautiful and motionless, after her having
rescued her father from the waves, and at last dwelt
upon the image with something more than interest. The
great point when you wish to bring yourself to do any-
thing is to make up your mind to it. I did so, and
soon found that Bessy was rapidly gaining possession of
my heart.

I remained several days at Greenwich. My mother was
still as busy as ever, attempting to obtain lodgers in her
house who were people of family, and this unwearied
system was a source of great vexation to my sister. " Oh,

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POOR JACK

Tom," she would sometimes say, " I almost wish sometimes,
selfish as it is, that you were married to Bessy, for then
I should be able to live with you, and escape from this
persecution."

" Better marry yourself, dear," replied I.

"There is but little chance of that, Tom," replied Virginia,
shaking her head.

On my return to Deal I found Bramble had remained
at the cottageyever since my departure. Our greeting was
warm, and when I went over to Bessy, for the first time
since she had returned from school, I kissed her. She
coloured up, poor girl, burst into tears, and hastened to
her own room.

" I hope that was in earnest, Tom," said Bramble, fixing
his eye upon me inquiringly, " otherwise it was cruel."

" It was indeed, father," replied I, taking him by the
hand.

" Then all's right, and God bless you, my dear good boy.
You don't know how happy you have made me yes, and
now I will say it poor Bessy also."



CHAPTER XLVH

In which a new character appears upon the stage, and I play
tlie part of a pilot on shore.

A. FRIGATE has anchored in the Downs, Tom, and makes
the signal for a pilot," said Bramble, coming into the
cottage, with my telescope in his hand. " There is but
you and I here what do you say ? will you venture to take
her up to the Medway ?"

" To be sure I will, father ; I would not refuse a line-of-
battle ship. Why should I ? the tides are the same, and
the sands have not shifted. Would you not trust me ? "

" Ay, that I would, Tom, and perhaps better than my-
self; for my eyes are not so good as they were. Well,
then, you had better be off."

I got my bundle ready, and was about to start, when I

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POOR JACK

perceived my telescope lying down where Bramble had
placed it on the table. "They are not very fond of letting
pilots have their glasses on board of a King's ship/' said I,
"so I will take mine this time."

" You're right, Tom ; you can't take the spy-glass out of
the captain's hand, as you do in a merchant vessel."

"Well, good-bye, father; I shall come down again as
soon as I can there's another gun, the captain of the
frigate is in a hurry." \

"They always are on board of a man-of-war, if no atten-
tion is paid to their orders or their signals. Come, start
away."

I went down to the beach, the men launched the galley,
and I was soon on board. As I gained the quarter-deck
I was met by the captain and first lieutenant, who were
standing there.

" Well," said the captain, " where's the pilot ? "

" I am, sir," replied I, taking off my hat.

" Where's your warrant ? "

"There, sir," replied I, offering him the tin case in which
I carried it.

" Well, all is right, my good fellow ; but you seem but a
young hand."

" Not so young as to lose so fine a vessel as this, I trust,
sir," replied I.

" I hope not, too ; and I daresay you are as good as many
with grey hairs. At all events, your warrant is sufficient
for me, and the frigate is now under your charge. Will you
weigh directly ? "

" If you please ; the wind will probably fail as the sun
goes down, and, if so, we may just as well lie off the Fore-
land to-night."

The frigate was soon under weigh ; she was evidently
well manned, and as well commanded. The wind fell, as
I expected, and after dark we barely stemmed the ebb
tide. Of course I was up all night, as was my duty, and
occasionally entered into conversation with the officer of
the watch and midshipmen. From them I learnt that the
frigate, which was called the Euphrosyne, had just returned
from the West India station ; that they had been out four
years, during which they had two single-handed encounters,

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POOR JACK

and captured two French frigates, besides assisting at many
combined expeditions ; that they were commanded by Sir
James O'Connor, who had distinguished himself very much,
and was considered one of the best officers in the service ;
that the frigate had suffered so from the conflicts in which
they had been engaged, that she had been sent home to
be surveyed ; it was found that she must be docked, and
undergo a thorough repair, and consequently they had been
ordered to Sheerness, where the ship would be paid off.
At daylight there was a leading wind up the river, and we
made sail, carrying with us three-fourths of the flood. The
discipline and order of the ship's company were so great
that I felt much more confidence in piloting this vessel,
notwithstanding her greater draught of water, than I did
a merchant vessel, in which you had to wait so long before
the people could execute what you required : here, it was
but to speak and it was done, well done, and done imme-
diately ; the vessel appeared to obey the will of the pilot
as if endued with sense and volition, and the men at the
lead gave quick and correct soundings ; the consequence
was that I had every confidence, and while the captain
and officers sometimes appeared anxious at the decrease of
the depth of water, I was indifferent, and I daresay ap-
peared to them careless, but such was not the case.

" Quarter less five."

"Quarter less five. Pilot, do you know what water we
draw ? "

" Yes, Sir James, I do ; we shall have half four directly,
and after that the water will deepen."

As it proved exactly as I stated, the captain had after
that more confidence in me. At all events, the frigate
was brought safely to an anchor in the river Medway, and
Sir James O'Connor went down to his cabin, leaving the
first lieutenant to moor her, for such were the port orders.
As I had nothing more to do, I thought I might as well
go on shore, and get a cast down by one of the night coaches
to Dover. I therefore begged the first lieutenant to order
my certificate of pilotage to be made out, and to inquire
if I could take anything down to Deal for the captain.
A few minutes afterwards t was summoned down to the
captain. I found him sitting at his table with wine before

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POOR JACK

him. My certificates, which the clerk had before made out,
were signed, but my name was not inserted.

" I must have your name, pilot, to fill in here."

"Thomas Saunders, Sir James," replied I.

" Well, my lad, you're young for a pilot ; but you appear
to know your business well, and you have brought this ship
up in good style. Here are your certificates," said he as he
filled in my name.

I had my spy-glass in my hand, and, to take up the cer-
tificates and fold them to fit them into my tin case, I laid
my glass down on the table close to him. Sir James looked
at it as if surprised, took it up in his hand, turned it round,
and appeared quite taken aback. He then looked at the
brass rim where the name had been erased, and perceived
where it had been filed away.

" Mr. Saunders," said he at last, " if not taking a liberty,
may I ask where you procured this spy-glass ? "

" Yes, Sir James, it was given me by a person who has
been very kind to me ever since I was a boy."

" Mr. Saunders, I beg your pardon I do not ask this
question out of mere curiosity I have seen this glass
before ; it once belonged to a very dear friend of mine.
Can you give me any further information ? You said it
was given you by

" A very amiable woman, Sir James."

" Did she ever tell you how it came into her hands ? "

" She never did, sir."

" Mr. Saunders, oblige me by sitting down ; and if you
can give me any information on this point, you will confer
on me a very great favour. Can you tell me what sort of
a person this lady is where she lives and what country-
woman she is ? "

" Yes, Sir James ; I will first state that she is Irish, and
that she lives at present at Greenwich." I then described
her person.

'' This is strange, very strange," said Sir James, with his
hand up to his forehead as he leant his elbow on the
table.

After a pause, " Mr. Saunders, will you answer me one
question candidly ? I feel I Sm not speaking to a mere
Thames pilot I do not wish to compliment, and if I did

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POOR JACK

not feel as I state, I should not put these questions. Dd
you not know more about this person than you appear
willing to divulge ? There is something in your manner
which tells me so."

"That I know more than I have divulged is true, Sir
James ; but that I know more than I am willing to
divulge is not the case, provided I find that the party
who asks the question is sufficiently interested to warrant
my so doing."

" There can be no one more interested than I am," replied
Sir James mournfully. " You tell me she is Irish you
describe a person such as I expected would be described,
and my curiosity is naturally excited. May I ask what is
her name ? "

" The name that she goes by at present is St. Felix."

" She had distant relations of that name ; it may be one

of them yet how could they have obtained ? Yes, they

migb.t, sure enough ! "

" That is not her real name, Sir James."

" Not her real name ! Do you then know what is her real
name ? "

" I believe I do, but I obtained it without her knowledge,
from another party, who is since dead."

" Ah ! may I ask that name ? "

"A man who died in the hospital, who went by the name
of Spicer, but whose real name was Walter James ; he saw
the glass in my hand, recognised ^it, and on his deathbed
revealed all connected with it ; but he never knew that the
party was still alive when he did so."

" If Walter James confessed all to you on his deathbed.
Mr. Saunders, it is certain that you can answer me one
question. Was not her real name Fitzgerald ? "

" It was, Sir James, as I have understood."

Sir James O'Connor fell back in his chair, and was silent
for some time. He then poured out a tumbler of wine, and
drank it off.

" Mr. Saunders, do others know of this as well as you ? "

" I have never told any one, except to one old and dearest
friend, in case of accident to myself. Mrs. St. Felix is
ignorant of my knowledge, as well as others."

" Mr. Saunders, that I am most deeply interested in that

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POOR JACK

person I pledge you my honour as an officer and a gentle-
man. Will you now do me the favour to detail all you do
know on this subject, and what were the confessions made
you by that man Walter James ? "

" I have already, sir, told you more than I intended. I
will be candid with you; so much do I respect and value the
person in question, that I will do nothing without I have
your assurance that it will not tend to her uiihappiness."

"Then, on my honour, if it turns out as I expect, it will,
I think, make her the happiest woman under the sun."

" You said that the spy-glass belonged to a dear friend ? "

" I did, Mr. Saunders ; and if I find, from what you can
tell me, that Mrs. St. Felix is the real Mrs. Fitzgerald, I
will produce that friend and her husband. Now are you
satisfied ?"

"I am," replied I, "and I will now tell you everything."
I then entered into a detail from the time that Mrs. St.
Felix gave me the spy-glass, and erased the name, until the
death of Spicer. " I have now done, sir," replied I, " and
you must draw your own conclusions."

"I thank you, sir," replied he; "allow me now to ask
you one or two other questions. How does Mrs. St. Felix
gain her livelihood, and what character does she bear?"

I replied to the former by stating that she kept a
tobacconist's shop; and to the latter by saying that she
was a person of most unimpeachable character, and highly
respected.

Sir James O'Connor filled a tumbler of wine for me,
and then his own. As soon as he had drunk his own off,
he said, " Mr. Saunders, you don't know how you have
obliged me. I am excessively anxious about this matter,
and I wish, if you are not obliged to go back to Deal im-
mediately, that you would undertake for me a commission
to Greenwich. Any trouble or expense "

" I will do anything for Mrs. St. Felix, Sir James ; and I
shall not consider trouble or expense," replied I.

" Will you then oblige me by taking a letter to Greenwich
immediately ? I cannot leave my ship at present it is
impossible."

" Certainly I will, Sir James."

" And will you bring her down here ? "



POOR JACK

ft If she will come. The letter I presume will explain
everything, and prevent any too sudden shock."

" You are right, Mr. Saunders ; and indeed I am wrong
not to confide in you more. You have kept her secret so
well that, trusting to your honour, you shall now have
mine."

"I pledge my honour, Sir James."

"Then, Mr. Saunders, I spoke of a dear friend, but the
truth is, / am the owner of that spy-glass. When I re-
turned to Ireland, and found that she had, as I supposed,
made away with herself, as soon as my grief had a little
subsided, I did perceive that, although her apparel remained,
all her other articles of any value had disappeared ; but I
concluded that they had been pillaged by her relations, or
other people. I then entered on board of a man-of-war,
under the name of O'Connor, was put on the quarter-deck,
and by great good fortune have risen to the station in
which I now am. That is my secret not that I care about
its being divulged, now that I have found my wife. I did
nothing to disgrace myself before I entered on board of a
man-of-war, but having changed my name, I do not wish
it to be known that I ever had another until I can change
it again on a fitting opportunity. Now, Mr. Saunders, will
you execute my message ? "

" Most joyfully, Sir James ; and I now can do it with
proper caution ; by to-morrow morning I will be down
here with Mrs. St. Felix."

"You must post the whole way, as hard as you can,
there and back, Mr. Saunders. Here is some money,"
said he, thrusting a bundle of notes in my hand, "you
can return me what is left. Good-bye, and many, many
thanks."

" But where shall I meet you, sir ? "

" Very true ; I will be at the King's Arms Hotel,
Chatham."

I lost no time. As soon as the boat put me on shore
I hired a chaise, and posted to Greenwich, where I arrived
about half-past nine o'clock. I dismissed the chaise at
the upper end of the town, and walked down to Mrs. St.
Felix's. I found her at home, as I expected, and to my
great delight the doctor was not there.

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POOR JACK

"Why, Mr. Pilot, when did you come back?" said she.

" But this minute I come from Chatham."

" And have you been home ? "

" No, not yet ; I thought I would come and spend the
evening with you."

" With me ! Why, that's something new ; I don't suppose
you intend to court me, do you, as the doctor does ? "

"No, but I wish that you would give me some tea in
your little back parlour, and let Jane mind the shop in
the meantime."

"Jane's very busy, Mr. Tom, so I'm afraid that I can't
oblige you."

" But you must, Mrs. St. Felix. I'm determined I will
not leave this house till you give me some tea ; I want to
have a long talk with you."

" Why, what's in the wind now ? "

" I'm not in the wind, at all events, for you see I'm
perfectly sober ; indeed, Mrs. St. Felix, I ask it as a par-
ticular favour. You have done me many kindnesses, now
do oblige me this time : the fact is, something has happened
to me of the greatest importance, and I must have your
advice how to act; and, in this instance, I prefer yours
to that of any other person."

"Well, Tom, if it really is serious, and you wish to con-
sult me, for such a compliment the least I can do is to
give you a cup of tea." Mrs. St. Felix ordered Jane to take
the tea-things into the back parlour, and then to attend
in the shop.

"And pray say that you are not at home, even to the
doctor."

" Well, really the affair looks serious," replied she ; " but
it shall be so if you wish it."

We took our tea before I opened the business, for I
was thinking how I should commence : at last I put down
my cup, and said, " Mrs. St. Felix, I must first acquaint
you with what is known to no one here but myself." I
then told her the history of old Nanny ; then I went on
to Spicer's recognition of the spy-glass his attempt to
murder his mother, the consequences, and the disclosure
on his deathbed.

Mrs. St. Felix was much moved.

328



POOR JACK

" But why tell me all this ? " said she at last ; " it proves,
certainly, that my husband was not hanged, which is some
consolation, but now I shall be ever restless until I know
what has become of him perhaps he still lives."

" Mrs. St. Felix, you ask me why do I tell you all this ?
I beg you to reply to my question : having known this so
long, why have I not told you before ? "

" I cannot tell."

" Then I will tell you : because I did feel that such
knowledge as I had then would only make you, as. you
truly say, unhappy and restless. Nor would I have told
you now, had it not been that I have gained further
intelligence on board of a frigate which I this afternoon
took into the Medway."

Mrs. St. Felix gasped for breath. " And what is that ? "
said she faintly.

" The spy-glass was recognised by a person on board,
who told me that your husband still lives."

I ran out for a glass "of water, for Mrs. St. Felix fell back
in her chair as pale as death.

I gave her the water, and threw some in her face : she
recovered, and put her handkerchief up to her eyes. At
first she was silent, then sobbed bitterly ; after a while she
sank from the chair down on her knees, and remained
there some time. When she rose and resumed her seat, she
took my hand and said, " You may tell me all now."

As she was quite calm and composed, I did so ; I re-
peated all that had passed between Sir James O'Connor and
me, and ended with his wish that I should accompany her
at once to Chatham.

" And now, Mrs. St. Felix, you had better go to bed.
I told Sir James that I would be down to-morrow morning.
I will come here at seven o'clock, and then we will go to
the upper part of the town and hire a chaise. Will you
be ready ? "

" Yes," replied she, smiling. " Heaven bless you, Tom !
and now good night."

I did not go to my mother's, but to an inn in the town,
where I asked for a bed. In the morning I went down.
As soon as Mrs. St. Felix saw me she came out, and followed
me at a little distance. We went up to where the chaises

329



POOR JACK

were to be obtained, and in less than three hours were at
the King's Arms, Chatham. I asked to be shown into a
room, into which I led Mrs. St. Felix, trembling like an
aspen leaf. I seated her on the sofa, and then asked to be
shown in to Sir James O'Connor.

" She is here, sir," said I.

" Where ? "

"Follow me, Sir James."

I opened the door of the room, and closed it upon them.



CHAPTER XL VIII

My sister Virginia is at last placed in a situation which is
satisfactory to my mother as well as to herself.

JL REMAINED very quietly in the coffee-room of the hotel,
in case I should be sent for; wlrioh I presumed I should
be before the day was over. In the afternoon a waiter
came to say that Sir James O'Connor wished to speak to
me, and I was ushered into his room, where I found Mrs.
St. Felix on the sofa.

As soon as the door was closed, Sir James took me by the
hand, and led me up, saying, " Allow me to introduce your
old friend as Lady O'Connor."

" My dear Tom," said she, taking me by the hand, " I am
and ever shall be Mrs. St. Felix with you. Come, now,
and sit down. You will again have to take charge of me,
for I am to return to Greenwich, and leave it in a re-
spectable manner. I daresay they have already reported
that I have run away from my creditors. Sir .James thinks
I must go back as if nothing had happened, give out that
I had some property left me by a relation, and then settle
everything, and sell the goodwill of my shop. It certainly
will be better than to give grounds for the surmises and
reports which may take place at my sudden disappearance,
not that I am very likely to fall in with my old acquain-
tances at Greenwich."

" Don't you think so, Tom ? for Tom I must call you, in
earnest of our future friendship," said Sir James.

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POOR JACK

" I do think it will be the best plan, sir."

"Well, then, you must convey her ladyship to Greenwich
again this evening* and to-morrow the report must be
spread, and the next day you will be able to re-escort her
here. I hope you feel the compliment that I pay you in
trusting you with my new-found treasure. Now let us sit
down to dinner. Pray don't look at your dress, Tom ; at all
events, it's quite as respectable as her ladyship's."

After dinner a chaise was ordered, and Lady O'Connor
and I returned to Greenwich, arriving there after dark. We
walked down to her house: I then left her, and hastened
to my mother's.

"Well, mother," said I, after the first salutations were
over, " have you heard the news about Mrs, St. Felix ? "

" No, what has she done now ? "

" Oh, she has done nothing, but a relation in Ireland
has left her a lot of money, and she is going over there
immediately. Whether she will come back again nobody
knows,"

"Well, we can do without her," replied my mother, with
pique. " I'm very glad that she's going, for I have always
protested at Virginia's being so intimate with her a tobacco-
shop is not a place for a young lady/'

" Mother," replied Virginia, " when we lived in Fisher's
Alley Mrs. St. Felix was above us in situation."

" I have desired you very often, Virginia, not to refer to
Fisher's Alley, you know I do not like it the very best
families have had their reverses."

" I cannot help thinking that such has been the case with
Mrs. St. Felix," replied Virginia.

" If you please, Miss Saunders, we'll drop the subject,"
replied my mother haughtily.

The news soon spread ; indeed, I walked to several places
where I knew it would be circulated, and before morning
all Greenwich knew that Mrs. St. Felix had been left a
fortune : some said ten thousand pounds, others had magni-
fied it to ten thousand a year. When I called upon her
the next day, I found that she had made arrangements for
carrying on her business during her absence, not having
stated that she quitted for ever, but that she would write
and let them know as soon as she arrived in Ireland what

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POOR JACK

her decision would be, as she was not aware what might
be the property left hei% The doctor, who had undertaken
to conduct her affairs during her absence, looked very woe-
begone indeed, and I pitied him ; he had become so used
to her company, that he felt miserable at the idea of her
departure, although all hopes of ever marrying her had
long been dismissed from his mind. Mrs. St. Felix told
me that she would be ready that evening, and I returned
home and found Virginia in tears ; her mother had again
assailed her on account of her feelings towards Mrs. St.
Felix ; and Virginia told me that she was crying at the
idea of Mrs. St. Felix going away, much more than at what
her mother had said ; and she requested me to walk with
her to Mrs. St. Felix that she might wish her farewell.

When we arrived Mrs, St. Felix embraced Virginia
warmly, and took her into the little back parlour. Virginia
burst into tears. " You are the only friend in the town
that I dearly love," said she, " and now you are going."

" My dear girl, I am more sorry to part with you and Tom
than I can well express our pain is mutual, but we shall
meet again."

"I see no chance of that," said Virginia mournfully.

" But I do ; and what is more, I have thought about it
since I have had the news. Tom, your sister, of course,
only knows the common report ? "

" Of course she knows no more than anybody else."

" Well, you do, at all events ; and I give you leave, as I
know she is to be trusted, to confide my secret to her.



Online LibraryFrederick MarryatPoor Jack; and The settlers in Canada → online text (page 29 of 58)