|Newspaper Title||Adelaide Chronicle and South Australian Literary Record (SA : 1840 - 1842)|
|Trove Title||Maurice Chesterfield. A Tale of the Quarter Deck|
MAURICE CHESTERFIELD. A TALK OP THE QUARTER DECK. CHAPTER II. " The last link is broken which bound me to thee.'
And now, at the commencemenn t of a new chapter, we mast tell our readers something about -Charles Morris. He had formerly served in another frigate, from which he had been transferred to the Ariel. Iiis history is soon told. He was an orphan, or rather, a foundling, for he had been adopted by a kind-hearted man, and brought up till he was ten years of age. Whose son he really was was n it known, for the person who had brought him up had
found him under a tree, and of |course was rather astonished at the same, knowing that whatever might be the state of things ia foreign lands, English trees do not generally bear such fruit. Mr Morris, who was a brushmaker, of the town of •• - , was taking a | morning walk at tbe 4ime when he made die novel discovery. Struck with the extraordinary beauty of the child, and having so such stock of his own—his stock In trade being limited to brushes—he thought it would be a good plan to adopt him as his own son. Mrs Morris, 4 who was a woman equally kind-hearted with her husband, and about three times his size— for, gentle reader, Charley's foster father was very small in stature, scarcely so tall as a longhandled broom—Mrs Morris, we say, entered into her husband's views, and Charley was duly enrolled as son and heir of the brushmaker. But, alas ! this happy state of things could not last for ever, and in due course of time Mrs Morris died—went off. We forget what it was she died of, for Charley was only nine years old at the time, but he perfectly remembered her kindness to him, and never would hear either her or the brushmaker spoken of lightly or disrespectfully. W ell, the loss of his wife so much distressed the husband that he somehow neglected his business, and in the course of twelve months his affairs got embarrassed, and he came to the conclusion that he waslnsolvent. One day he disappeared, and was never heard of more, except that all the neighbours persisted that the well in the neighbourhood which supplied them all with water had a very peculiar taBte, as if there was a dead dog in it. Whether the dead body of the unfortunate brushmaker was ever found is not recorded; but it is certain that part of the coat he wore when last seen was fished up out of the well one day.
This untoward event of course played the bear with poor Charley, who, endeavoured for some time to get into a situation on shore, and was three times nearly 'reduced to starvation, and five times brought up before the magistrate charged with the appalling and soul-stirring crime of being found destitute in the streels, on all which five occasions his singular beauty saved him from that exemplary and severe punishment which it is DO doubt such a vice, deserves. We forgot to say that the creditors of the unfortunate brushmaker, when they met, consulted about Charley, and the resolution passed, proposed by one very fat jolly-looking oldgentleman, and seconded by ibe whole meetihgj was, to let Him, go to toe. workhouse or the d—•—1. These terms being to Charley's mind synonymous, he most ungratefully did not take the old gentleman's advice. . We regret we cannot give our readers a brief abstract - of this meeting of creditors, which, as we have always believed^—-never having had f the luck to make one at such gatherings—are the most amiable and pleasant of all convivial assemblies, aud beat, out and out, all the Select Vestry meetings in the world. Charley, we were going to say r having unsuccessfully tried to get some employment on land, at length succeeded in : obtaining one at sea, as cabin-boy to the Monarch of the Deep man of war. The way in which he got into this honorable and responsible situation was of itself singular, for he concealed himself somewhere forward till the Monarch was fairly at sea, and then went and presented himself to the captain. Here again his good looks stood his friend, for the captain, instead of being angry at the triick played on him, took good eare of Charley, and never let him" be punished for anything, though by this time the little fellow's mischievous disposition was; beginning to develop itself pretty clearly.
Charley new, on the whole, was not unhappy, but what was his surprise and gratitude when, after two years, he was promoted to the quarter-deck as midshipman, - Here, -indeed, be was in better prospect Of independence than when heir to the brush manufactory, especially when it turned out as it did. Here then " He dined from off the plate be lately washed.^ But Charley never presumed upon : his promotion, and with the exception of the tricks which it was not in his nature to leave off, he conducted himself well, and he was indeed soiry when he left the Monarch to go .into the Ariel, where we -left him at the end of last chapter, and where he was an universal favorite with every body except the first lieutenant, Mr Cayman, through" whose agency, as we have before seen, he had obtained the nickname of the 41 Middy of the Mast." * * # * * It was now some months after the time of our first chapter, and the frigate was going through the water slowly; Mr Cayman was in a terrible bad humour, and for some trick (rather insolent, we believe, but history does not say what) had sent little Mori is up to tbe mast
head, where hebad Iwen^ five hours. The weather was mbst outrageously cold, and Charley of course nelrly frozen ; he was shivering with the cold, and began to think it would'makeanendofhim. Bnt still Mr Cayman gloomily walked the quarter-deck, regarding Charley with an air of grim satisfaction. He was in reality a kind-hearted man this Cay man, but unfortunately possessed of a nasty temper, which seemed to delight in giving pain to others. But it was only appearance, for no one would have been more sorry and grieved if anything had happened to Charley than the first lieutenant. It seemed, however, as he turned round on the deck in bis walk, that he discovered a lot of midshipmen, among them Maurice Chesterfield; in some little breach of discipline, standing on the hammocks or something like that. He instantly sent them all aloft, including of course Maurice. Tbis was the first time] Maurice had ever been caught in any breach of discipline, and he felt his pride severely wounded; he looked at the first lieutenant with an expression of malice and even revenge in his eye, and as lie went aloft, vowed to himself he would no ,longer be friends with Cayman, but on the first opportunity repay him tho debt be owed him with interest. By and bye all the delinquents were called down, and among them Charley Morris, who was by this time so stiff with tbe cold that he could hardly nse his limbB; but, however, he made an attempt to descend; but he shivered and shook as if he had got- the ague, and by the time he was half-way down he somehow lost
his hold and fell ^overboard. Charley was a capital swimmer, bnt now, chilled with the cold, he would certainly have perished had not Chesterfield, who had just descended, and was for the first time aware of the Btate Charley was in, assisted him. Maurice,: after giving the first lieutenant a look that £coze the blood in his veins, and told him as..plainly as looks could tell that he regarded him as themnrderer of Charley, plunged into the water, and at great risk to them both succeeded in sup- 'P 0 f t " > & M l.«alK ASII. the boat was lowered 1 3 to their rescue, Charley was instantly put to bed, and next morning was in a burning fever. But that night, when all the other officers were thought to be asleep, the first lieutenant was alone on deck, thinking, with no pleasant feelings, on tbe proceedings of the day. He could not help having an inward conviction that he was in some measure to blame, for it was indeed a cruel and brutal) thing-to keep the poor lad up aloft so long in'such weather; he was also grieved that the friendship between hun and Maurice Chesterfield should have been thus broken, but on this account he did not blame himself so much. In the midst of his reveries, he was startled, and, looking anxiously round, saw, within a short distance, of bim, Maurice Chesterfield, his eyes glaring like a tiger's at him. The noise that startled him aras the cocking of a pistol: the next moment he heard the voice of Maurice, inja fierce whisper, say. " Ton would have murdered Charles Maurice, yon d—1!'/ A report of a pistol instantly followed; No WJnder that Maurice, almost in a state of madness, should have been unsteady in his aim; the bullet merely grazed the lieutenant's should' der and took off one of his epaulettes. Cayman rushed on Chesterfield and seized him, calling aloud for assistance. Maurice must have been
nearly in a state of madness at the time, for he shoo^off the lieutenant, dashing him down on the deck, and it took three-marines to master him; he of course was placed under arrestand heavily ironed. _n * , # * * * When the unfortunate young man came to himself, and could reflect calmly upon'what he had done,. he immediately .saw that he had blasted all his prospects m life for ever. Even if he was acquitted by a court-martial, on the ground of temporary insanity, it was evident he must leave the service. He reflected for a long i whib,and£hea eame to the conclusion' that he witoldTnake thfe Attempt to escape, and" would, in some way or other, amass money sufficient -to repay the debt he.owed to Cayman. This all-absorbing thought preyed upon his mind, and he felt he never could be,easy until : the debt was payed. In the silence of the night he formed his pl»n, and determine^ if he lived to carry it through, to sacrifice his haughty pride; hewotildstoop to anything but tbe loss of hishonor; he would «arn money like the lowest Of the low, but he would repay, the debt to Cayman. In about six weeks after the cou.njepcement of his confinement, he was visited by Charley'Morris, who did not learn the sad events that had happened tili after his perfect recovery. Captain Clenchy had severely reproached himself with (having left so much of tbe command of his ship to Lieutenant Cayman, and; was sow much oftener on deck than before. Bnt it was not merely the news'of the quarter-deck that was discussed by tliei two midshipmen—they had longer and deeper conferences, which, however, were fortunately unobserved by any one. .'• Charley knew that Chesterfield's love to him had betrayed him into the crime be had committed, and determined to hazard everything-to assist him. [To be continued.]