Зображення сторінки
PDF
ePub

of my temporarily-admired Seraphina---whom, as I had plainly discovered to be a jilt, I fully determined as such to treat her; I retraced my steps to Funchale, where I arrived just in time to see before me, but without being seen by him, our excellent third Luff, posting on, in breathless haste, towards Bom Jesus.

66 We met at dinner at the Consul's, at six o'clock; but not a word transpired either of my having seen him, nor of his visit to the convent. Nevertheless, whatever might have taken place, he had lost his appetite, was restless, sighed immoderately, and drank like a fish-but not water.

“I observed, however, for the first time, the absence of a splendid brilliant ring, that he had purchased with his first prize-money, which on full-dress occasions, or on shore, confined the ties of his black neckcloth in true ship-shaped style, where many an honest Jack tar sports the joint of a shark's back-bone by way of ornament.

“Day after day I visited Seraphina at the same hour, and we were much together in the parlour, the refectory, and the chapel, without any one else, except now and then that an occasional peep would be made into either by different sisters; for there was neither difficulty nor suspicion attending her reception of English visitors, she being the only Englishwoman there, but she invariably entreated her friends not to let it be known in English society that she was an Englishwoman, and in a convent—a circumstance that seemed strange, passing strange,' to me. I determined not to mention the frigate and convoy's intended departure the next day after that on which I paid my last visit. I had not broached the subject of love or matrimony, but she gave me repeated hints that young as I was compared to herself, for she acknowledged that she was eight-and-twenty, both would be an acceptable proposition. I pleaded non-age--that was nothing; You are a Catholic (that I knew, but not a Roman one as she meant), and our own confessor, who, by the by, was also called father Macarthy, can do all that is needful.' I did not wish to say, as many others had no doubt done before me, "Were you ever in the army, Seraphina ?'— but

At seven

snatching a kiss for the last time, I took leave with an unusually long adieu !—for I wished her well, and “better luck next —

“ In the evening the frigate gave a splendid ball, which for some days previously we had much feared the illness of the first Lieutenant would have prevented. The quarter-deck commodes were run forwards upon the

gang ways, the royal standard was extended from gangway to gangway just abaft the mainmast, the Portuguese ensign facing it over the topsail. The awning was ornamented by lines from which lamps and flowers, with abundance of myrtle, were suspended; and for curtains to the awning various flags and ensigns were stretched from the break of the quarter-deck to the topsail, having at intervals branches of orange and lemon trees supporting fighting lanterns, liberally supplied by our liberal purser with wax light.

o'clock every boat, except the jolly-boat, was despatched, together with the boats of several Indiamen, for the expected company, to the jetty and beach ; and in about an hour all were on board, including a Portuguese conde and his daughters, who were the only Portuguese ladies that could be induced to venture their precious lives on so dangerous an expedition,' as their confessors declared it to be ; and it is not unlikely were the very ladies who taught monte to our worthy first Lieutenant's messmates.

“As the Consul was unable to join us, some powder, much screaming, more smoke, and great noise were saved, and the ball soon opened to the tune of the “Triumph.' All appeared delighted, and danced with spirit and cheerfulness. At one o'clock we partook of a splendid cold supper, served in the Captain's cabin, including every delicacy that the island could supply. Singing commenced at two, dancing recommenced at three, and at five, A.M., after a cup of excellent coffee, every officer that could be spared from the usual duty of the ship accompanied our fair guests to the shore, deeply regretting, spite of fatigue, that day had begun so early, and that the setting sun would leave us many leagues distant from that delightful island and its hospitable society; but my surprise may be well imagined when, upon entering my cabin, I found a letter upon my sofa, from Seraphina, expressive of her determination not to live without me, and that, having ascertained our destination, she would follow in a ship belonging to the convoy.

“I was in a pretty mess; and that too after all my precaution, and the refusal of a bracelet of her hair, which she was desirous of placing upon my left wrist, but which I resolutely, and it required resolution, declined.

“Our second and third Lieutenants became extraordinarily pensive, and seemed to have lost all their former flow of spirits with our departure from Madeira ; deep-drawn sighs escaped them, when least they imagined ; so that they gave rise to much laughter and occa sional jokes upon 'hearts like cullenders,' &c., or, as the master said, * like the top of a watering-pot.' They heeded nothing, and occasionally made mistakes in their watch upon deck, although, as we were in the trades,' they were of little importance.

“Our second Lieutenant had the forenoon watch upon deck, when the third passed his writing-desk upon the gun-room table; the skylight was off, and whilst the former leisurely paced up and down the deck, occasionally looking down into the gun-room, a letter upon the third Lieutenant's desk, which he was apparently employed in answering, attracted his eye—That handwriting (said he) is Seraphina's!'- To be sure it is,' answered the third Lieutenant, and away he went on deck. Mutual explanations took place, letters were compared, and each bore on his left wrist a similar bracelet of her hair to that she had offered me. The link of love was suddenly snapped by each, and ended in a mutual laugh at the syren's art, who had so contrived as to receive the trio of us at separate periods, and to make us all believe the same story. It became of course the subject of after-dinner conversation. The jilt is in the convoy (said I) if this be true,' showing her letter to myself; and it was determined, upon the first day of having a calm, or but little wind, to board every ship and ascertain the fact.

“We were bound to Rio Janeiro, and in about ten days an opportunity offered. Sure enough she was found on board the 'Hector,' one of our convoy, in which ship the angelic Seraphina had taken

a passage; and when discovered by our third Lieutenant, he found her fast asleep upon the sofa in the Captain's cabin; to whose kind care, and shortly after to whose arms, she had voluntarily consigned herself, having thought no more of naval or marine Lieutenants. Upon landing at Rio, she resided at the Captain of the Hector's' lodgings, as his mistress, and, to our great surprise, we subsequently discovered that she was the long lost, but most abandoned daughter of the catholic Earl of .!

Here lots of approbatory exclamations followed, and the usual toast was given. The sixteen members of the wardroom mess having each told his tale, it was agreed that for the following Saturday night the first Lieutenant should resume the President's chair, and the same routine be followed that had already given such unqualified amusement and satisfaction; but the next Saturday night introduced a scene of very different nature; the ship was taken suddenly about, the wardroom windows were stove in by a tremendous sea, and the rudder was unshipped, and the damage that followed was found so great, upon a survey the following day, that she was ordered to Portsmouth to be repaired, and on arrival there, her men were transferred to the Ocean,' and the good old ship was paid off.

CHAPTER LX.

ARRIVAL AT PORTSMOUTH.-RECITAL OF EVENTS.

JACK had scarcely been forty-eight hours ashore when he met, as he walked down High-street, a brother officer and an old schoolfellow at the Caleb Quotem Domine's when boys together. Determined to enjoy a private conversation which they could not at the mess, they ordered horses for Southampton, and having comfortably seated themselves in a snug parlour at the hotel, they mutually questioned each other about the school and school-fellows. It was not to be suffered that Lucy and the sibyl should have been forgotten; and adverting to the gipsy's prediction of poor Lucy's fate, at the time they were at the academy of the Caleb Quotem of the parish, Jack was surprised to learn that in two particular instances it had been verified. In the first, her original lover had deserted her from the moment he left her father's school; had since married a naval officer's daughter; had left a good practice in considerable disgrace; taken a degree in the North ; been supported by his wife's exertions in making fire-screens, card-racks, &c.; been introduced to a nobleman, through the medium of his mistress, the notorious

and at her request had been knighted; useful in a variety of ways, and humbly subservient to the great, he had every chance of becoming physician to a Prince, through the agency of his patron the Marquis that Lucy's second lover had not “avoided wool," upon which the gipsy had declared his fate depended; for that although a very rich man and after he had cut with poor Lucy, he married for the sake of more money;--that at a large dinner party, his daughter, who, after her mother's death, presided, asked her father “From whom he bought the haunch of mutton at that time on the table, for

« НазадПродовжити »