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the sun is bursting out of the bank, and I think I see something under the sun.”
“ Watch well, Lilly,” replied the woman, who was throwing more wood on the fire.
“ I see a vessel, mother. It is a sloop beating to the eastward." “ A coaster, child ?”
“ No, mother, I think not. No, it is no coaster-it is that king's vessel, I think, but the glare of the sun is too great. When he rises higher I shall make it out better.”
“ Which do you mean, the king's cutter on the station, the Yungfrau ?”
“ Yes, mother,” replied Lilly, “it is. I'm sure it is the Yung. frau.”
" Then it is from her that the boats came last night. She must have received some info nation. There must be treachery somewhere; but well soon find that out."
It may appear singular that Lilly could speak so positively as to a vessel at a great distance; but it must be remembered that she had been brought up to it, nearly all her life. It was her profession, and she had lived wholly with seamen and seamen's wives, which will account for her technical language being so correct. What Lilly said was true ; it was the Yungfrau, which was beating up to regain her port, and having to stem a strong ebb tide during the night, had not made very great progress.
“ There are three other vessels in the offing,” said Lilly, looking round, " a ship and two brigs, both going down channel:" and as she said this, the little thing dropped lightly from rock to rock till she stood by her mother, and commenced rubbing her hands before the now blazing fire.
“ Nancy must go over to Portsmouth," observed the mother, “and find out all about this. I hardly know whom to suspect; but let Nancy alone, she'll ferret out the truth - she has many gossips at the Point. Whoever informed against the landing, must know of this cave."
But we must introduce the mother of Lilly to the reader. She was a tall, finely-featured woman, her arms beautifully moulded, and bare. She was rather inclined to be stout, but her figure was magnificent. She was dressed in the same costume as her daughter, with the exception of a net worsted shawl of many colours over her shoulders. Her appearance gave you the idea that she was never intended for the situation which she was now in ; but of that hereafter. As the reader may have observed, her language was correct as was that of the child, and proved that she had not only been educated herself, but had paid attention to the bringing up of Lilly. The most perfect confidence appeared to subsist between the mother and daughter : the former treated her child as her equal, and confided every thing to her; and Lilly was far advanced beyond her age in knowledge and reflection, her countenance beamed with intelligence; perhaps a more beautiful and more promising creature never existed.
A third party now appeared from the cave; although not in canonicals, his dress indicated his profession of a priest. He approached the mother and daughter with, “ Peace be with you, ladies.'
“ You forget, good father," replied the elder of the females,“ my name is Alice—nothing more."
“I crave pardon for my forgetting who you were. I will be more mindful. Well, then, Alice-yet that familiar term sounds strangely, and my tongue will not accustom itself, even were I to remain here weeks, instead of but two days I was about to say, that the affair of last night was most untoward. My presence is much wished for, and much required, at St. Germains. It was unfortunate, because it proves that we have traitors among us somewhere ; but of that, and of the whole affair, I will have cognizance in a few days."
“ And should you discover the party ?”
“ In so important and so righteous a cause, we must not stop at aught necessary to secure our purpose. But, tell me, think you that your husband will soon be here again ?".
“I should think not to-night, but tomorrow or the next he will be off ; and if we can show the signals of surety he will land, if the weather will permit."
“ 'Tis indeed time that I were over. Something might now be done."
“ I would so too, father; it is a tedious time that I have spent here."
* And most unfitting for you, were it not that you laboured in a great cause ; but it must soon be decided, and then that fair lily shall be transplanted, like a wild flower from the rock, and be nurtured in a conservatory."
“ Nay, for that, the time is hardly come. She is better here, as you see her, father, than in the chambers of a court. For her sake I would still remain ; but for my husband's sake, and the perils he encounters, I wish that one way or the other it were decided."
« Had there been faith in that Italian, it had been so before now," replied the priest, grinding his teeth, and turning away.
But the conversation was closed at the appearance of some women who came out of the cave. They were variously clothed, some coarsely, and others with greater pretensions to finery: they brought with them the implements for cooking, and appeared surprised at the fire being already lighted. Among them was one about twenty-five years of age, and although more faded than she ought to have been at that early age, still with pretensions to almost extreme beauty. She was more gaily dressed than the others, and had a careless, easy air about her, which suited to her handsome, slight figure. It was impossible to see her without being interested, and desiring to know who she was.
This person was the Nancy mentioned by Alice in her conversation with Lilly. Her original name had been Nancy Dawson, but she had married one of the smugglers, of the name of Corbett. Her original profession, previous to her marriage, we will not dwell upon; suffice it to say, that she was the most celebrated person of that class in Portsmoutli, both for her talent and extreme beauty. Had she lived in the days of King Charles II., and had he seen her, she would have been more renowned than ever was Eleanor Gwynne; even as it was, she had been celebrated in a song, which has not been lost to posterity. After a few years of dissipated life, Nancy reformed, and became an honest woman, and an honest wife. By her marriage with the smuggler, she had become one of the fraternity, and had taken up her abode in the cave, which she was not sorry to do, as she had become too famous at Portsmouth to remain there as a married woman. Still she occasionally made her appearance, and to a certain degree kept up her old acquaintances, that she might discover what was going on--very necessary information for the smugglers. She would laugh, and joke, and have her repartee as usual, but in other points she was truly reformed. Her acquaintance was so general, and she was such a favourite, that she was of the greatest use to the band, and was always sent over to Portsmouth when her services were required. It was supposed there, for she had reported it, that she had retired to the Isle of Wight, and lived there with her husband, who was a pilot, and that she came over to Portsmouth occasionally, to inquire after her old friends, and upon business.
"Nancy Corbett, I must speak to you," said Alice. “Come aside : I wish you, Nancy, to go over immediately. Can you go up, do you think, without being perceived ?”
“ Yes, Mistress Alice, provided there is no one to see me.”
“ That's a commodity that I've not been very well provided with through life ; but I have my wits in its stead."
“ Then you must use your wit, Nancy.”
Alice then entered into a detail of what she would find out, and gave her instructions to Nancy. The first point was, to ascertain whether it was the cutter which had received the information; the second, who the informer was.
Nancy, having received her orders, tied the strings of her bonnet, caught up a handful of the victuals which were at the fire, and bidding the others a laughing good-bye, with her mouth full, and one hand also occupied, descended the ladder, previous to mounting the cliff.
“ Nancy,” said Lilly, who stood by the ladder, “bring me some pens."
“ Yes, dear; will you have them alive, or dead ?" “ Nonsense, I mean some quills.”
“ So do I, Miss Lilly ; but if you want them dead, I shall bring them in my pocket, if alive, I shall bring the goose under my arm."
“I only want the quills, Nancy," replied Lilly, laughing.
“ And I think I shall want the feathers of them before I'm at the top,” replied Nancy, looking up at the majestic cliff above her. “Goodbye, Miss Lilly.”
Nancy Corbett again filled her handsome mouth with bread, and commenced her ascent. In less than a quarter of an hour she had disappeared over the ridge.
In which there is a great deal of plotting, and a little execution.
We will follow Nancy Corbett for the present. Nancy gained the summit of the cliff, and panting for breath, looked round to ascertain if there was any one in sight, but the coast was clear; she waited a minute to recover herself a little, and then set off at a brisk pace in the direction of the hamlet of Ryde, which then consisted of a few fishermen's huts. It was an hour and a half before she gained this place, from whence she took a boat, and was safely landed at the Point. The fisherman who brought her over was an old acquaintance of Nancy's, and knew that he would have to remain to take her back, but he was well paid for his trouble, and it was a lucky day for him when Nancy required his services. The Yungfrau had rounded St. Helen's, and was standing into Spithead, when Nancy landed, and the first door at which she knocked was at the lodgings of Moggy Salisbury, with whom she was well acquainted, and from whom she expected to be able to gain information. On inquiry, she found that Moggy had not come on shore from the cutter, which had sailed during the night very unexpectedly.
This information pleased Nancy, as Moggy would in all probability be able to give her important information, and she took up her quarters in Moggy's apartments, anxiously awaiting her arrival, for Nancy was not at all anxious to be seen. In due time the cutter was again anchored in the harbour, and the first order of Mr. Vanslyperken's was, that Moggy Salisbury should be sent on shore, which order was complied with, and she left the vessel, vowing vengeance upon the lieutenant and his dog. The informer also hastened into a boat, and pulled on shore on the Gosport side, with a very significant farewell look at Mr. Vanslyperken. Moggy landed, and hastened, full of wrath, to her own lodgings, where she found Nancy Corbett waiting for her. At first she was too full of her own injuries, and the attempt to flog her dear darling Jemmy, to allow Nancy to put in a word. Nancy perceived this, and allowed her to run herself down like a clock; and then proposed that they should send for some purl, and have a cosey chat, to which Moggy agreed, and as soon as they were fairly settled, and Moggy had again delivered herself of her grievances, Nancy put the requisite questions, and discovered what the reader is already acquainted with. She requested, and obtained a full description of the informer, and his person was too remarkable, for Nancy not to immediately recognise who it was.
“ The villain !” cried she; “ why if there was any man in whom we thought we could trust, it was- him ;" for Nancy had in her indignation, nearly pronounced his name.
“ Nancy,” said Moggy, “you have to do with the smugglers, 1 know, for your husband is one of them, if report says true. Now, I've been thinking, that the cutter is no place for my Jemmy, and that with this peak-nosed villain, he will always be in trouble. Tell me, will they let him in, if he volunteers.
“I can't exactly say, Moggy; but this I can tell you, that you may be very useful to them in giving us information, which you may gain through your husband.”
“Ay, and not only through my husband, but from every body on board the cutter. I'm yours, Nancy - and here's my hand on ityou'll see what I can do. The wagabond, to attempt to flog my own dear, darling duck-my own Jemmy. Only tell me what you want to know, and if I don't ferret it out, my name's not Moggy. But hear me, Nancy; I join you now hand and heart, though I gain nothing by it ; and when you choose to have him, I'll bring you my little duck of a husband, and he will be worth his weight in gold, though I say it that shouldn't say it."
“ Thanky, Moggy; but you shall not work for nothing ;" and Nancy laid a gold Jacobus on the table. “This for your present information. Be secret and cautious, and no gossiping, and you'll find that you shall have all you wish, and be no loser in the bargain. And now, good night-I must be away. You shall see me soon, Moggy; and remember what I have told you."
Moggy was astonished at the sight of the gold Jacobus, which she took up and examined as Nancy departed. “Well,” thought she, “but this smuggling must be a pretty consarn ; and as sure as gold is gold, my Jemmy shall be a smuggler."
Nancy turned down the street, and passed rapidly on, until she was clear of the fortifications, in the direction of South Sea Beach. A few scattered cottages were at that time built upon the spot. It was quite dark as she passed the lines, and held her way over the shingle. A man was standing alone, whose figure she recognised. It was the very person that she wished to find. Nancy watched him for awhile, and observed him pull out a paper, tear it in two, and throw it down with gesticulations of anger and indignation. She then approached.
“ What's o'clock ?" said Nancy.
“ To a minute," replied Nancy, who, finding that the password was given correctly, now stopped, and faced the other party. “Is that you, Cornbury ?"
“Yes, Nancy,” replied the man, who was the same person who went on board of the cutter to give the information.
“I have been seeking you,” replied Nancy. “ There has been some information laid, and the boats were nearly surprised. Alice desires that you will find out what boats entered the cove, whom they belonged to, and, if possible, how they obtained the information.”
“ Boats nearly surprised—you don't say so," replied Cornbury, with affected astonishment. “This must indeed be looked to. Have you no idea "
“None,” replied Nancy. “There was no vessel to be seen the next morning—the fog was too thick. Have you seen Wahop ?"
“ No; I thought he was on the Isle.” “ He ought to have been, but has not come; I have been at the