|Chapter Number||Prologue: I - III|
|Newspaper Title||The Queenslander (Brisbane, Qld. : 1866 - 1939)|
|Trove Title||The Smuggler's Ward: A Story of Ship and Shore|
THE SMUGGLER'S WARD.
A STORY OF SHIP AND SHORE.*
BY SYLVANUS COBB, JUN.
YEARS have passed—many years—since that day! It was a poorly furnished chamber, dark and cramped, in that section of the New England
metropolis of America where the streets were narrowest and most devious, and where the dwellings were most closely packed. The shingles upon the time-battered roof flapped with ghostly pattering in the wintry wind ; the biting blast crept in through many a crack and cranny; and upon the stool of the low dormer window were tiny drifts, like hoar-frost, that had been sifted in from the whirling snow that eddied about the quaint old gables and stumpy chimneys. Upon a scanty clothed bed lay a man, yet in the moraine of life, pale, wan, wasted—dying. The care-worn woman, beautiful still in all her suffering, bending over and bathing the clammy brow with tears, was his wife—fond, faithful, and devoted. And the two little ones— a golden haired girl, and a bright-eyed boy—were the offspring of a union that had been cemented in warmest love, but shadowed by the lowering clouds of dire and undeserved misfortune. "O! my Malcolm!—dear, dear Malcolm!— Can this be the death-touch ?" "Yes, Barbara. I am dying. But you should not weep. If I were alone—if I had no wife and children to leave—'twould be sweet to die—to flee from this cold, cruel earth to the bright, warm realms of the spirit land! Some time—some time, my love—you will join me there. O! how happy the thought—how blessed!—I shall wait for you, Barbara. God grant that it may be mine to guide you up the starlit path that leads to the house of the angels! —And our children!— Bless them! You will whisper to them kindly of their dead father—as kindly as you can. Ah, how cruel I have been—" "Cruel, Malcolm?—You,—the kindest, the gentlest, and the most enduring?" "I was cruel—unjust—selfish—when I urged you to—" " Hush! hush! No more of that. Think of brighter things." "Kiss me, Barbara," The devoted wife bent further over and im- printed a kiss upon the sunken cheek; and as she did so she detected a change in her hus- band's breathing. "Malcolm! Malcolm!" Malcolm St. George opened his eyes, and fixed his gaze upon his wife. A sweet smile had been wakened by the kiss, and a placid calm had settled down upon the pale features. "Can you not speak to me, darling?" The dying man started, and his lips opened ; and in tones that seemed begotten of a new life so soft and musical were they—he said: "Barbara, I am going! I have seen the golden gates flung wide open, and the angelic host await my coming. This is not death—it is life! I feel that I shall know and love you still, and watch over my loved ones from the sphere of the eternal.—Esther!—Noel!—Where are you?" The girl stepped softly to the side of the low cot, and pillowed her head upon her father's bosom; while the boy, creeping up into his mother's lap, stretched forth his tiny hands, and reached the loved and loving grasp that was failing now for ever. My wife!—My children!— God bless and protect you! Sweet angels—angels—Bar- bara!—" The storm of life was past, and the weary one was at rest.
CHAPTER I. THE SAILOR-BOY'S VISION. ONE pleasant morning, in early summer, a boy, poorly clad, and carrying a small bundle in his hand, made his way, slowly and hesita- tingly, down upon the wharf, and approached the berth where an East Indiaman was taking in her cargo. For a long time he stood and watched the busy movements of the crew, over and anon lifting his eyes to the lofty spars and intricate maze of rigging, and seeming, the while, totally lost to everything save the novel scene before him. The hearty "heave-ho's" of the sturdy seamen, the rattle of the blocks, and the creaking of the running whips and falls, afforded entrancing music to his senses ; and he might have stood there much longer had not a loaded team started him from his position and from his reverie. After the team had passed the memory of a preconceived purpose came to mind, and in a timid, shrinking tone, he asked one of the men if he could see the captain of the ship. Said dignitary was pointed out to him—the man standing aft, by the wheel. The boy ascended the plank that lead over the gang way, and with trembling steps approached the place where stood the man who, in his childish mind, held destiny in his hand. " Is this the captain of the ship ?" There was something so modest and so frank in the manner of the boy as he lifted the worn flap from his head; and his handsome face so bright and beaming, and so indicative of intelli- gence and truth, blended with the trembling gleams of hopeful expectation, that the stern looks of command left their wonted rest upon the face of Captain Winslow, and with a kind expression he answered— "Yes, my boy. What is your errand?" "Perhaps you are too busy now?" "No. Speak on." "Well, sir, I have come to see if you would be willing to take me on board your ship. I am small, I know ; but if you will only try me, you will find that I can be faithful, and that I can learn." Ordinarily the captain would have made quick work of disposing of such an applicant ; but this was not an ordinary boy, as was evident from every look and tone. "What is your name?" "Noel Bradford, sir." "How old are you?" "Twelve years, sir." "Do your parents consent to you going to sea?" "I have no parents, sir." "No father nor mother?" "No, sir. My father died, a long, long time ago, when I was very little ; and my mother died only last—last—" Big tears filled the boy's bright blue eyes, and deep sobs choked his utterance ; but at length wiping away the flood with the sleeve of his torn jacket, he added— "They buried her last Sunday, sir ; and now
* Republished from the New York Ledger.
I've nobody left to care for me. Do let me come, sir!—take me, and try me,—and you shall never see anything that is wrong. O, sir, if you will let me go with you, I will try as hard as I can that you shall never be sorry." The kind, sympathising look of Captain Wins- low had given the boy an unusual degree of confidence, and as he ceased speaking he dropped upon his knees, and with folded hands and supplicating gaze, awaited the answer. And he had not long to wait. A boy was needed on board the ship, and the captain was willing to take him ; but with the understand- ing, however, that nothing should turn up to prove any of his statements false. Nothing of the kind occurred, and at the end of a week the good ship Hector was standing out from Boston harbor with Noel Bradford duly installed on board. For the first time within his remembrance Noel felt at home. His spirit of growth and culture had found an ample field for develop- ment, and he felt that the wide world was all open before him, and the way clear for the following of his ambition. Aye—young as he was—reared in the lap of poverty and want— Noel Bradford felt an ambition to do and to be something that should lift him to a place of honor among his fellows. He had read of ancient and of modern heroes ; of bold and daring deeds ; and of the fame and renown which fell to those who had fought the battle bravely and truly, and won the laurel crown of success. He had been a reader and a student. The ship had crossed the equator, having thus far been favored with excellent weather ; Noel had become used to the various peculiarities of shipboard, and by his good conduct and quick- ness of comprehension, his willingness and faith- fulness, he had won the love of all. It was a pleasant evening ; the first watch had been set ; and after contemplating the starry wealth of the heavens, and wondering if from the celestial sphere loved and loving ones looked down upon him with blessing, the boy went below, and turned into his hammock. To and fro rocked the ship, and to and fro, with gentle, soothing motion, swayed the orphan's canvas bed. Gradually his senses became closed to outward things, and as the interior being, untrammelled by thought and care of present surroundings, wandered back into a realm of the past which the waking memory held not in store, he was conscious of a pressure upon his shoulder, as though a human hand had been lightly and gently laid there. He turned his head, and opened his eyes, and he beheld a radiant presence, youthful and bright—as beautiful in maiden loveliness as the vestal angels of the poet's dream—a presence that smiled upon him from a beaming counte- nance not altogether strange, though when or where he had seen it before he could not divine. "Noel," spoke the seraphic messenger, in tones of silvery sweetness, "to you fortune extends an abundant store of her favors. They are far in the future ; but, nevertheless, if you tread the path of virtue and duty, they may be yours. Years must roll backward into the vortex of the past—years that now lie between you and the goal—but, beyond the trials and the turmoil of an eventful career—up the steep and rugged height of hardship and danger—is held the reward. Win it if you can ; and be sure it is worth the winning!" As the presence thus spoke she stretched forth her hand, and the boy saw that she extended to him a beautiful wreath, like a crown, of laurel and orange blossoms. With eager impulse he offered to take it, but no tangible substance met his touch. Still the sweet spirit gazed upon him, and held up the crown and smiled a heavenly, beatific smile. He sought to speak, but his voice only swelled to a soft cadence of murmuring music, without form of speech, and soon the bright phantom wasted and faded away into the surrounding gloom. Noel Bradford laid his head again upon his pillow, and sought to win the beautiful presence once more to his sight ; but the effort was vain ; and with a fervent prayer that the angel's promise might be verified in his life, he resigned himself to his rest. Simple and immaterial might have been the orphan boy's vision ; but to him it was a bliss- ful reality, and its foreshadowings were held as things of moment. And for long and eventful years that same bright presence seemed ever near him, at times appearing to his enraptured sight—gently leading him onward and upward in the path of duty and true manhood.
CHAPTER II. THE WRECK. THE Hector doubled the Cape of Good Hope with everything in excellent trim, and for a time the noble ship was wafted toward her destina- tion by fair and favoring winds. It was Sunday evening. The day had been unusually cool, from the fresh breeze that came sweeping up from the ice bound regions of the Antarctic ; but at the day closed in the wind gradually lulled, and ere the last dog-watch was off a dead calm had settled down over the broad expanse of water, and with it came a warm and sultry disposition of atmosphere. Heavy swells rolled up from the south, like mountains of dark, polished glass, and as the ship was lifted upon the towering summits, and anon plunged into the deep troughs, and rocked and reeled like a drunken man, while her sails flapped lazily, and the rigging snapped and rattled against the rigging spars. While the sun was sinking into its watery bed Captain Winslow came up from his cabin and gazed anxiously around upon the scene. There was an expression of deep concern and uneasiness upon his face as he mounted the horse block and looked off upon the fiery horizon. He was not the man to be alarmed at trifles, and when his men ob- served the cloud upon his brow, and marked the nervous twitching of his mouth, they knew that danger was at hand. Long and earnestly the captain gazed, sweeping the horizon from west to south, and then turning to his chief officer he said, in a voice which he meant should be calm, but the low tremulousness of which struck every ear— "Mr Mason, we shall very soon have a break- ing up of this spell." "A breaking up with a vengeance, I have been thinking, sir," returned the mate, stepping upon the block. "This air feels a little too light for my comfort." "Light!" repeated the captain, a perceptible shudder passing over his frame. "Mr Mason, the barometer has settled full three inches since four o'clock!" "Three inches?" cried the mate. " Impos- sible!" "Over three inches, sir," said Winslow, while the corners of his mouth betrayed by their nervous twitching the perturbation which he sought to conceal. "Only once before have I seen the mercury sink like that ; and then then—" "Well, sir?" attend the mate, anxiously, as the captain shuddered, and hesitated.
The men gathered around the spot and silently awaited the answer. "Then, Mr Mason, I was a boy on board the Ben Nevis. It was in this tame ocean, but very far to the north of where we now are. We had been in the monsoon for about a week ; but it was about breaking up, and one night there came a calm like this ; the barometer settled as the oldest man on board had never teen it settle before, and under bare poles we awaited the blast which we felt sure was to come. It did come, and ere midnight the Ben Nevis had gone down into the grave of waters, and twenty of the crew had found eternal sleep with her. Only one besides myself was saved. We gained a floating spar, and were washed upon one of the Southern Maldives.—Say your prayers, my men, and then stand by for work ; for God only knows how many of us shall see the sun again." While the captain was speaking, the sun had sank from right, and a sensation of gloom and dread settled down upon the crew. The atmos- phere had now become so light and rarified that the lungs could with difficulty perform their functions. The men moved, as it were, in a vacuum ; the air which they inhaled seemed more like an invisible smoke than like the pure breath of heaven, and as they expanded their chests in vain attempts to gain an invigorating breath, the organs of respiration literally col- lapsed beneath the burdensome oppression. The sails were all snugly furled, with the ex- ception of the fore and main stay-sails, and a storm spencer, which latter were left in the brails and clewlines, to be used in case it should be desirable to get the ship before the wind. The top-gallant and royal yards were sent on deck ; the top-gallant masts unstayed and lowered, and the topmasts housed. "We may need a bit of those topmasts, sir," suggested the mate, as Captain Winslow gave the order for housing them. "Need the topmasts! For what?" "With a heavy sea running we cannot be sure of a steady wind upon the stay-sails," answered Mason. "And either for running before it, or for lying-to, we may need the top- sails." "When that puff comes," returned the cap- tain, with a shrug, "I wouldn't have a linen frock exposed upon one of those yards. No, sir, you'll want no canvass for this night, de- pend upon it. The stay-sails may lie in their bunts, as they are, and the balance-reefed spencer in its brails, ready for spreading ; but we shall have no occasion for them." It was now dark. Along the line of the western horizon there was a visible streak of lurid light, which served to make the surround- ing gloom more terrible. There were a few stars in the heavens, but the dull, dead atmosphere seemed to have no power of refracting their beams, and though not a cloud was to be seen, yet the great ocean was black as ink. " A gale were better than this," observed Mr. Mason, as his lungs began to grow weak and fatigued. "You'll have it soon enough," replied Wins- low. "Hark!" This exclamation came from the look-out at the taffrail, and in an instant all ears were bent to catch the sound that had arrested his atten- tion. Far away in the southern distance rumbled and groaned the storm spirit. The loose rig- ging rattled, and the swinging blocks bumped and cracked ; but above all the clang on ship- board was to be plainly heard the voice of the grim giant of the tempest. The ship was luckily heading from it, and in breathless ex- pectation the men awaited the shock. Nearer and nearer it came, and louder and more loud sounded the fearful howl. At length it burst upon the devoted barque. Like the simultane- ous crash of a thousand thunderbolts broke the fury of the tempest upon the startled Hector, and for the time she plunged her bows into the flood as though she would thus escape the as- saulting demon. The men could only hold on upon the stout standing rigging for support, ex- pecting that the ship was going under ; but with a tremendous struggle she lifted her head from the water, and throwing the briny burden from her deck, she was borne along with the gale. Four men were lashed at the wheel, and for a time they succeeded, in keeping her before it. Captain Winslow stood by the starboard main brace, a bite of which he had passed around his body, while near him, holding on to the lanyard of the main topmast backstay, stood the chief mate. The men were all on deck, and as yet re- mained unharmed, with the exception of a few slight bruises. To Noel Bradford the scene presented a diorama of magnificent, awful grandeur. There was a sense of awe pervading his soul, and with it was a mystic dread of the terrific power that hurled the storm-bolt ; but to him the gale—the madly breaking seas—and the groaning, creaking spars and timbers af- forded only sublime music. Death might be staring him in the face, but its terrors were lost in the instinctive sentiment of wonder and wor- ship. Captain Winslow enjoyed not the emo- tions of the awe-stricken boy. He knew too well the fate that hung over the crew of his charge, and his heart was heavy, sad, and hope- less. As the ship was hurled onward over the boil- ing sea, she became more steady in her move- ments, and so long as she could be kept before the wind there were slight hopes of her holding together. By and by Captain Winslow disen- gaged himself from the main brace, and made his way to the companion-hatch, whence, with some difficulty, he gained the cabin, where the hanging lantern was still burning, though the floor was completely flooded. When he finally returned to the deck the rays of the binnacle lamp revealed his face, pale and agitated, and the men at the wheel knew that he was praying. "Mr Mason," he said, as he struggled to the spot where his mate stood, and grasped a be- laying pin, "I fear our time has come." "But we may ride it out yet," returned the mate, seeming to give utterance to a sunken hope rather than to the expression of a present thought. " Yes—if we had the sea in which to ride!" said Winslow, in a husky tone. "Sea!" repeated Mason, with a gasp. "And is there danger of more than the sea?" The captain was for a time silent, as though conscious only of his own late discovery ; but presently he replied— " I fear there is. This noon we were in lati- tude thirty-two forty, and in longitude fifty-one six, distant from Cape St. Henry about six hundred miles. Five hundred miles east-south- east of the oape there is a low island, to the westward of which makes out a long, broken reef ; and, as near as I can reckon, that island is in the line of our present course." "And how far?" asked the mate. "It was not more than seventy-five miles this noon. You can judge for yourself what distant we have made since that time."
"Then may God have mercy on us!" ejacu- lated Mason ; "for no earthly power can aid as now. To think of veering in this gale would be utter madness." "You are right," returned the captain. "Our only hope is in clearing that island ; and that is an event entirely in the hands of Provi- dence. If we loosen a furling-line, our canvas will be blown into shreds ; and if we should at- tempt to change our course while under bare poles, we should broach to, and be lost in a twinkling." This conversation had not been heard by the men, for the incessant and deafening roar of the tempest swallowed up the words almost from the speaker's lips ; but still they knew that something more than the storm was at hand, for even through the darkness of the night they could make out the new terror that marked the manner of their commander. Meanwhile Noel Bradford had gradually worked his way forward ; and, all fearless of the plunging of the ship's head into the surging flood, he climbed up over the heel of the bow- sprit, and finally ensconced himself in the bunt of the fore-stay-sail. He had not long been thus situated when he was aware that some one called to him from the deck : " Come down out o' that, Noel, or you'll be washed away!" The boy turned his head, and could distinguish one of the men, standing by the night-head, making eager gesticulations for him to come in. But there were two reasons why Noel did not obey : In the first place he was fascinated by the awful grandeur of his present position ; and moreover, the task of getting back by the way he had come was by no means an easy one. But the man did not call a second time, for a sound had struck upon his ear, and a sight had met his straining gaze, that put all thoughts of the boy from his mind. He turned aft, and placed his hands to his lips ; and in a moment more that dreadful, frightful cry echoed above the voice of the storm : "Breakers ahead!" Once more the man looked toward the spot where the angry sea broke upon the threatening rocks, and then, seizing whatever came in his way for support, he hurried aft. Every ear had caught the note of alarm, and forgetful of all other danger the men leaped upon the rails wherever they could find a stay for support, and strained their gaze in the direction of the foam dashed coast. It required but a single glance to reveal their doom. Directly ahead, towering up through the darkness, like storm-born Cyclops playing with the elements in terrific sport, were a long line of dark, jagged rooks. All the sails in the world, had they been of warp and woof of steel, and held by ropes and spars of triple brace, could not have saved that devoted ship. Not a sheet was touched, not a sail was thought of ; but with clutching hands and lips tightly closed, the doomed ones awaited their fate. "Aft! aft!— Lay aft, every man!" was the only order which the captain had to give ; and that was spoken when the far-spreading spray from the breakers had begun to rain upon their heads. Home, friends, kindred — father, mother, brother, sister, and wife and children, were called to mind ; —an earnest prayer found utterance—a prayer for self, and for the loved ones far away,—and then came the death-touch of the dark spirit of the breakers. With a crash like the note of many thunders the noble ship struck. High up between the opening jaws of two projecting cliffs was driven the bow of the Hector, and in an instant she was broken in sunder ; and the next sea that came roaring on in its awful might caught the stem in its re- sistless grasp ; tore the massive fabric in pieces as though it had been a thing of reeds, and bore its load of humanity away to swift destruction. Alone crouched Noel Bradford upon his perch on the bowsprit. Alone ? Not so did it seem to him. From out the blinding spray appeared the bright spirit—the angel-robed presence— smiling upon him, and whispering, in notes that sounded above the fierce roar of the elements, as the soft music of the flute makes itself distinct above the crash of many brazen instruments— "Be not afraid, my brother ; I am with thee!" * * * * * * * Morning dawned upon the scene of death and destruction. High up in a broad fissure between two rocks, upon a bed of folded canvas, reposed a sailor-boy. There had been numb- ness ; and a sense of exhaustion had succeeded ; but still he was comparatively uninjured. The bows of the ship had been firmly wedged into the fissure at the first shock, and as the bulk of the hull had been almost immediately broken off and swept away, the wedged portion had re- ceived but little further damage from the seas. The loosened condition of the fore stay-sail, upon which the boy had rested, had served to break the force of the concussion, and with hardly a bruise upon his body he awoke to con- sciousness. As the sun came up from its bed of waters, and cast its golden beams over the troubled ocean, Noel Bradford arose and gazed around. Far down among the sharp, craggy rocks he be- held the fragments of the wreck ; and when a little exercise had driven out the stiffness and numbness from his limbs, he set about the task of clambering down to where the waves broke in upon the shore. Alas! what a scene awaited him! Not in the broken timbers lay the horror. No, no. All bruised and battered—all stark and dead—strewed here and there upon the cruel rocks—were the forms of his once loved and loving shipmates. The notes of thanksgiving that had been swelling up from his grateful soul were changed to waitings of grief and agony. The happiness and the joy of deliverance were gone. He was alone!—all, all alone. The friends whom he had loved—all that he had known of love and friendship on earth—were gone for ever. And as he gazed, in mourning and sadness, upon the ghastly forms of the sleepers, he almost wished that he had been taken with them.
CHAPTER III. THE YOUNG LIEUTENANT. OVER a period of ten years take we now the reader. It is a movement easily made by us who have only to write and read of it ; but what a flood of life has flowed on and emptied into the great ocean of eternity during that lapse of time! Ten years ago many a frail barque started forth upon the voyage of life with a fair wind, a smooth sea, and a clear sky ; while others there were who had been long upon the voyage, and were sailing prosperously on. But during these ten years how many of the voyagers have been met by the storms and the winds, and while yet the looked-for haven was far distant, have foundered and gone down. Some have sailed out the proposed voyage ; en- tered the haven of eternal rest through the gates of age ; furled their worn and tattered sails ; and cheerfully resigned the crumbling timbers of their earthly barks as they were
ready to step upon the bright and beautiful shore where storms and tempests can come no more for ever. But, thanks to the Giver of all Good, even the poor shipwrecked mariner need not be without the chart of hope and salvation. God hath given to him a compass by which he may surely guide his spirit barque to the realms of eternal rest ; and the dreadful storm is robbed of half its terrors to him whose chief anchors in the hour of mortal peril are faith and hope. The old ship Hector—peace to her shattered timbers!—had almost passed from the memory of man, and even a remembrance of her de- voted crew dwelt only in the bosoms of a few. Noel Bradford, after many days of wandering and signalising, had been taken from the island by an English East Indiaman, and now, at the age of two and twenty, we find him second in command of one of the largest and best ships that ever spread canvas in the service of the East India Company. The memory of a kind act—an act that had saved his life when starva- tion upon a desolate island had already placed its wasting grip upon him—and the uniform love and kindness he had met at the hands of his new companions and shipmates, all served to warm his soul with generous gratitude, and hence it is that we find him contentedly quartered and rationed beneath the glorious old British flag. It was on a pleasant day in the early part of the Indian summer that the noble ship Atlas was preparing to leave Calcutta. She had on board, besides the crew, Lord and Lady War- rington, their son and daughter, and their ser- vants. The former had been acting as Governor- General of the British dominions in the Indies, but having found the duties more arduous, and the responsibilities more complicated and weary- ing than he deemed his health would permit, he had resigned the commission, and was about to return to England. In his general manners he was affable and easy ; by nature frank and just ; but the conscious dignity of position was not to be set aside. He was of an old family, and wore his titled honors with becoming pride, though with nothing of hauteur. The wife was a pleasant, happy lady in her own circle ; but her ideas of lordly propriety were very rigid, and she seldom unbent to those below her. The son, Robert—a youth of three and-twenty —seemed to care but little for sounding names and empty titles so long as the world went smoothly with him, and he could enjoy friend- ship through his father's wealth and standing. Grace Warrington, the daughter, was one of those rare exceptions, which are sometimes met with among the lordly families of the old world, who take people for what they are—who would stoop to pluck a sweet flower, or to pick up a pearl by the way-side, but pass in cool disdain by the glare and tinsel that glitters only for the eyes of fashion, and is without fragrance and without inborn lustre of heart. She had basked in the sunshine of eighteen happy summers, with the bloom of health and loveliness growing deeper and richer upon her radiant face, and was the pride of her parents, and the darling and dearly beloved of her true-hearted brother. That Grace Warrington was beautiful to look upon no one could deny,—a single glance was sufficient for the proof,—but the deeper traits of beauty—the essentials of her character—her deep seated, inherent love and reverence for the pure and the good—the gentle spirit of benevo- lence and charity that dwelt always in her bosom, and was always active—the quick, bound- ing impulse which answered in smiles to the happiness of others, and in tears to others' woes —and withal, that noble pride in virtue and truth, begetting true maidenly modesty—these things only became manifest to those who looked deeper than the mere contour and grace of form and feature. Everything was in readiness, and as soon as the men had eaten their dinners Captain McIvor told Noel Bradford that he might get the ship under way. "For," he added, as he gave the order to his lieutenant, "the lighter which is about to return to the city must take back our receipts to the agent, and I have not yet proved and signed them. So you may get the ship off as soon as you can, while I fill up the blanks in the re- turns." " I think I shall go and help," said Grace Warrington, starting from her father's side with a light, ringing laugh. "You like help, don't you, Mr Bradford?" "Certainly, my lady," replied Noel, with a bright, warm smile. And then, taking his trumpet, he turned toward the companion-way. "Stop, sir, stop!" cried the buoyant hearted girl, as she threw a silken mantle over her shoulders. "If I am to help you get your ship off, yon must assist me up this awkward ladder." Noel extended his hand, and when Grace had taken it, which she did with a firm, confiding grasp, he politely assisted her to the deck. The touch of that fair hand, and the beaming of those lustrous eyes, might have sent a thrill of pleasure to the heart of a stoic ; and it is no matter of wonder that our youthful hero ex- perienced a peculiar sensation as he found him- self the recipient of such trust and confidence. The whole voyage might have passed, and Noel would never have intruded himself upon the society of one whom he considered so far above him in point of rank and wealth ; but now that the lady had so frankly and freely offered her companionship, for the present, at least, he felt no hesitation in making himself as agreeable as possible ; though more than once he felt a strange fluttering of the heart as he met the warm light of those beaming eyes. Merrily sounded the cheerful song of the hardy sailors as they walked around the cap- stan. They were now heaving up the anchor for home, and the cable was taken in with a will. At length the larboard anchor was up, and the messenger was nippered to the cable of the starboard anchor. Again the song arose cheerily upon the breeze—around went the capstan—and ere long the anchor was reported to be "a-peak." " Man the braces, fore and aft," ordered Noel, when the ship had been brought directly over the anchor, and the topsails had been sheeted home, and the yards hoisted. "Haul home the larboard fore-braces,—starboard braces aft. That's it.—Belay. Now to the capstan—again. —Lively, boys!" While the seamen were engaged in obeying the last order, Noel was called upon by his fair companion to explain the why's and wherefore's of the various operations. " Why do you have the yards turned in dif- ferent directions?" she asked, pointing to where the larboard fore and main yard-arms almost touched each other. " Ah, my lady, I fear you would fail to com- prehend were I to explain," replied the young officer, gazing with deferential admiration into the animated face of his interlocutor. "Never mind that, Mr Bradford. I would like for you to tell me, nevertheless." "With pleasure," quickly responded Noel,
whose eyes were aglow with grateful light. "You observe that our ship now lies with her head exactly to the wind ; and, also, that our true course is very nearly in the same direction?" "Yes, sir." " Well,—as soon as the anchor breaks ground we wisc to east to starboard, and——" "Oh, fie, Mr Bradford! If you would ex- plain, you must speak to that I can understand." There was something so free and so happy in the look and bearing of the beautiful girl, and she spoke with such charming frankness and candor, that the young man stood for a time like one entranced ; but presently he recollected himself, and replied— "When I say, 'east to starboard,' I mean that we wish the ship's head to turn to the right." "There,—Now I can understand." "A little more comprehensive, I suppose. Well,—as soon as the anchor breaks ground, you can see that the wind will strike upon the head sails in such a manner as to turn the ship in the right direction ; and then, when we fill away, we shall be able to make a good leg on the larboard tack." "O, dear! 'A good leg on the larboard tack!" There,—I'll give it up." "I mean," said Noel, a little confused, "when the ship has got the right cast, and we let go and haul forward, we shall catch the wind a-port, you see,—and with everything—" A light, ringing laugh interrupted the lieu- tenant's very clear and lucid explanation ; and as the anchor was breaking its hold, he was forced to give his attention to his duty. But be promised Grace that he would yet give her a complete understanding of the mystery and its peculiar vocabulary. As the anchor broke ground the ship's head gracefully fell off to starboard ; the after sails soon filled ; the jib was hoisted ; and the helm righted. "But we don't sail any," said Grace War- rington, when she had watched for several mo- ments the drawing sails. "Oh, no," replied Noel, with a happy smile. "You observe that the fore-topsail is receiving the wind upon its front surface, which tends to drive the ship astern ; while the after sails operating in an opposite direction, counter- balance the tendency. But the moment those head yards are braced around the other way, the ship will begin to gather headway. You under- stand that, don't you?" "O, yes," answered the enthusiastic girl, gas- ing up at the swelling canvas. "I declare, I should like to be a sailor—to live upon the sea!" "With no friends to comfort and cheer save the rough sons of the ocean?" said Noel, with a solemn shadow upon his handsome face. For a moment Grace gazed upon her com- panion with an earnest, enquiring look. It may be that the moisture in her eye gathered into a tear ; but, at all events, there was deep sym- pathy in her expression, and soft, generous music in her voice, as she replied— "I fear you do not set a full value upon the love of these rough sons of the ocean, Mr. Bradford. Ah, there most be something deeper and richer in the wealth of those stout hearts than is to be found in the circle of fashion where my steps have been wont to follow the lead of parents and friends. I always feel that beneath the homely garb of the true and honest sailor there beats a heart as warm and as trust- ful as earth can know ; and that the soul so inured to danger in all its forms must needs bear firmest friendship and devotion in the hour of need and peril. O, I love to gaze upon their cheerful, honest faces!" " Your sentiments are true and noble, dear lady," returned Noel, with quivering lip. "But —but—" "But what?" interposed Grace, as her com- panion hesitated. " Did I mistake?" "No, no, lady—you spoke most truly. You say true when you say that the hardy son of the ocean has a heart full of wealth, and that his soul is the soul of pure and devoted friendship ; but you cannot tell all, for you do not know all. There are emotions which stir the spirit of the ocean child, as his thoughts dwell in the future, which you may not comprehend. Your sex naturally turn to the man of true heart and strong arm for support ; and I thank God there be some, like your own fair self, who can per- ceive the jewel of true manhood, even though it be incrusted in the rough exterior of the honest mariner. But the true man—he whose aspirations lead heavenward—be he high or lowly, longs for a purer, holier love than can be found in the stern surroundings of ocean life. Ah! when storm-tossed and wrecked—when driven about under clouds and gloom, upon my home of vast waters, I have ever found true and sympathising friends ; and yet there hath been yearning for a softer, a sweeter, and more tender love. Stout arms have been near to sup- port me ; but no gentle, affection-warmed bosom upon which I might pillow my aching brow, in trustful, confiding peace and joy!" While Noel had been speaking Grace had kept her gaze fastened upon his radiant features ; but as he closed she turned away her head to hide an emotion which she could not repress, and which she might not have defined had she sought its solution. The youthful officer feared that the impulse of his feelings might have led him to say more than he ought, though he had only given utterance to sentiments that were continually in his silent reveries ; and in a lower and more subdued tone he added— " I trust, lady, that I have not overstepped the bounds of propriety." Grace turned her bright, beaming orbs full upon him—orbs warm and overflowing with liquid light—and was upon the point of reply, when her parents appeared upon the deck. What she would have said remained unspoken ; and more than once, during the next half hour, as her eyes rested upon the young lieutenant, did she ask herself why she had hesitated to trust her feelings in speech while her father and her mother were so near. The captain came up with the papers for the lighter, and when the messenger to whom they were entrusted had stepped over the side, the head yards were braced around, the top-gallant sails set, the courses spread, and the Atlas was upon her way homeward. Not until the chill dampness of night began to permeate the atmosphere did Grace War- rington leave the deck ; and as she reached the companion-way she cast one more earnest glance upon Noel Bradford, murmuring to herself as she did so— " Can it be that I have known him in other years? Where—where have I met that face before?" [TO BE CONTINUED.] =========
MR. BLANCHARD JERROLD is engaged, with the special sanction of the Empress Euginie, on "The Life and Times of Napoleon the Third," the first part of which, illustrated with portraits from the family collection, will appear about the end of the year.