Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

ing that if they did not soon make land and, having tied down the seats, and they must be either drowned or recap- strengthened our keel with the fig-tree, we tured. Two goat-skins sewn together lastly drew on our double canvas case, served to hold fresh water. Okeley offered already fitted; and really the canvas seemed himself to carry through the gates canvas a winding-sheet for our boat, and our boat sufficient for a sail. He had not got a a coffin for us all. quarter of a mile from the town when, to “This done, four of our company took it his great agony, he saw the villanous spy upon their own shoulders, and carried it who had before arrested him and Randall down towards the sea, which was about half following him fast.

The danger, however, a mile off. It was a little representation of a gave him promptitude of mind; he at once funeral, to see the four bearers marching in walked boldly up to an English slave he deep silence, with something very like a saw washing clothes by the sea, and asked hearse and coffin upon their shoulders, and him to help him wash the canvas. They the rest of us decently attending the cerethen pretended to wash the sail, and spread mony; but we wanted torches, and, beit to dry on the top of the very rock where sides, it is not usual for any to wait upon

spy stood watching them. He soon their own coffins. But we durst not went away, but Okeley, still fearful, wait- grudge our boat that small and last office, ing till the canvas was dry, carried it to carry it half a mile, for we expected it mournfully back to the city.

should repay us that service and civility The day for attempting the escape was with interest, in carrying us many a league ; now fixed—June the 30th, 1644; the time, we carried it at land, where it could not one hour “within night;" the place, a hill swim, that it might carry us at sea, where about a mile from the sea; and till then we could not walk. As we went along the conspirators dispersed, lurking here they that were in the gardens heard us passand there in hedges and ditches, till the ing by, and called to us, “Who comes blessed moment arrived.

there?' but it was dark, and we had no There were two places thought suitable mind to prate, and therefore, without any for putting together the boat, a hill and a answer, we silently held on our way. valley. The hill, as we have before said, “When we came to the seaside we imwas first agreed upon, as having a good mediately stripped ourselves naked, and, out-look; but when the night came they all putting our clothes into the boat, carried it suddenly preferred the valley, which was and them as far into the sea as we could encompassed and sheltered by hedges. Near wade, and this we did lest our tender boat the top of the hill grew a fig-tree, and this should be torn against the stones or rocks, tree two of the band were sent to saw and then all seven of us got into her. down, as it was needful to strengthen the But here we soon found how our skill in keel. Some Moors with barking dogs calculating the lading of our vessel failed passed near the sawyers, but they keeping us; for we were no sooner embarked but close, were not discovered. Moors were at she was ready to sink under us, the water work in a neighbouring garden, so that the coming in over the sides, so that once again Englishmen dared not speak, but they we must entertain new counsels. At last buckled to in good earnest at their serious one whose heart most failed him was willing work, pointing, pulling, nodding, and act to be shut out, and rather hazard the uning like builders of Babel, by signs and certain torments of the land than certainly gestures.

be drowned at sea ; then we made a second “The two parts of our keel," says Okeley, experiment, but still she was so deep laden we soon joined, then opening the timbers, that we all concluded there was no venturwhich had already one nail in every joint, ing out to sea ; at length another went we groped out for the other hole, and put ashore, and then she held up her head very its nail into it; then we opened them at stoutly, and seemed hearty enough for our their full length, and applied them to the voyage. top of the keel, fastening them with rope- " It was time now to commit and comyarn and small cords, and so we served all mend ourselves and vessel to the protection the joints to keep them firm and stable; and conduct of God, who rules the winds then we bound small canes all along the and the waves, and whose kingdom is in ribs lengthways, both to keep the ribs from the deep waters, imploring mercy for the wearing, and also to bcar out the canvas pardon of our sins, and resigning up our very stiff against the pressing water. Then souls to God, as if we had been presently we made notches

upon the ends of the ribs to suffer death by the hand of the exeor timbers, wherein the oars might ply, | cutioner; and, taking our solemn farewell of our two companions, whom we good husbandry it lasted, but then pale left behind, and wishing them as much famine (which is the worst shape death happiness as could be hoped for in can be painted in) stared us in the face.” slavery, and they to us as long a life as The adverse wind doubled the cruel, could be expected by men going to their ceaseless labour, and yet defeated it. graves, we launched out upon the 30th They moved, but did not advance. The day of June, in the year of our Lord, 1644, waves strove hard to swallow up

those

poor a night for ever to be remembered by his wretches toiling for life and liberty. One or poor creatures, who are ourselves great two, soon losing heart, began to declare that monuments of Divine Providence.”

God, whom the wind obeyed, was fighting Five men only after all started; Okeley, against them, and proposed to bear up with John Anthony, John Jephs, John the wind, and return to slavery in Algiers. the carpenter, and William Adams, five But hope and Okeley again roused them, men in a frail canvas boat, with an adverse and at last they determined, whatever wind raging against them, and Algiers upon happened, to struggle on while they had the lee shrouded in the

angry

darkness. breath, strength, and life. Their perse“We were now,” says the brave nar- verance was rewarded as

perseverance rator, “without helm or pilot, without generally is. The wind presently shifted anchor, tackle, or compass, but God was round like a feeble enemy, and sided with these, all these, and more than all these. them. Our number was small, our work was Still the danger was very imminent. Ungreat, we could not afford one idle hand, like tired sentinels who watch on, knowing not one idle finger; four of the company that the welcome relief will soon come, continually wrought at the oars, and in these poor fellows had to labour without deed we wrought for our lives, and then I intermission. They might shift, but they shall not need to say how we wrought; but could never rest. Another great evil was this I shall say, I can truly say it, I never the raging heat of the sun, which burned saw strength so strained, nor the atmost like a furnace. The only alleviation they of what nature could do for life and liberty could obtain was that the fifth man, who exerted so much in all my life. The em- kept baling the frail boat, threw sea-water ployment of the fifth man was more easy, over them, for their skin now began to rise but no less necessary, which was to free all over in blisters. In danger, in pain, the boat of that water which by degrees and almost in despair, Okeley and his men leaked through our canvas.

toiled all day quite naked, at night putting “We laboured the harder that night, on their shirts or loose coats, their only because we would gladly be out of the ken clothing. For steering they had no guide of our old masters by day; but when day but a pocket dial; by night they were appeared, we were yet within sight of their guided by the stars, and when the stars ships that lay in the haven and road, and were hidden, by the motion of the clouds. off the land; but our boat being small, and In this sad and miserable plight they lying close and snug upon the sea, either continued four long days and nights. On was not at all discovered, or else seemed the fifth day despair took its dismal place something that was not worth the taking among them, and hope flew from them. op; a little hope in the midst of great fears They laid down their oars, for their strength made us double and redouble our diligence; was all but gone, and gloomily baled the we tugged at the oars like those who are boat, loth to drown, loth to die, yet seeing chained to the galleys, because we had no no way to avoid a dreadful death from mind to be slaves to our old patrons.

famine or the waves. They now resolved, “But upon all occasions we found our in their dark and utter despair, to make want of forecast, for now our bread, which to any vessel they could discover, even an was to be the staff of our decayed strength, Algerine. While in this dead ebb of hope, had lain soaking in the salt water, like a God, who saved “Israel at the sea, and the drunken toast sopped in brine, and was three young men in the fiery furnace,” sent quite spoiled; and our fresh water in the relief. As they lay in a lull they suddenly bottles stank of the tanned skins and owse, discovered floating near them a large sleephaving lain in the salt water, which made ing tortoise. Not the sight of a Spanish it nauseous. But yet, that hope that plate fleet was more grateful to the eager hovered over us, and flattered us that we eyes of Drake. The boat was silently rowed should one day mend our commons, sweet- up, and they took the broad-shelled creaened all again. So long as bread was ture rejoicingly on board. Off went its bread, we complained not; three days with head, the blood they caught in a pot, and drank by turns. The liver they ate, the they arrived in the old country, after a five flesh they sucked.

weeks' voyage, in September, 1644. OkeThe good warm food strengthened them ley's canvas boat was long hung up as a at once both naturally and through the monument in the church at Majorca. This imagination; they fell to work like lions, brave and excellent Puritan afterwards and pulled hard, fast, and faster on. became bailiff to one of the Osbourn family That did it. That very noon they dis- at Chickson, in Bedfordshire, between covered land low, faint, and blue in the far Ampthill and Shefford. His narrative, distance. Okeley lays down his pen, and which he called Ebenezer, or a Small finds it impossible to express the joy and Monument of Great Mercy, was not pubtriumph of that blessed moment. Fresh lished till 1675, thirty-one years after the blood poured through their veins, fresh events; a third edition was published in colour came to their cheeks; they looked 1764. like persons

risen from the dead. Yet fear still held hope so chained and bound, that they could hardly believe that it was really GEOFFREY LUTTRELL'S NARRATIVE. land. It was new life only to them to BY THE AUTHOR OF " IN THAT STATE OF LIFE," &c. see it, but five days of only sea and air, air and sea, and so many hopes deceived,

IN ELEVEN CHAPTERS. CHAPTER X. made them distrust even land itself. Still As the morning wore on, I resolved to the hope made them toil hard to see if they obtain an interview with Assunta ; but were deceived or no, and when they were how was this to be accomplished ? Was fully convinced the land was no dream, it true that she was free ? that this seclutheir joy was extravagant. Regardless of sion in her boudoir was voluntary? She the sharks that abounded in those seas, did not appear at breakfast; I saw no sign they all at once leaped like madmen into the of her about the house. If the maids in water, to bathe and cool their streaming attendance upon her were spies, I must limbs. Then they all returned to the boat, guard against arousing their suspicions. and worn out with toil fell asleep.

Mr. Ridgway was busy in his study with Awaking in time to bale the boat, and his translation of Horace's Odes, which he refreshed by the sleep, they worked harder had talked of to me all breakfast-time, at the oars, but made but very little way. pointing out the difficulties of the task, Towards evening another blue spot ap- and by what happy turns he had parapeared on the horizon; that second island phrased the poet's verse in places. I was was Fromentiere, the first Minorca, as some at my work in the crimson saloon, the of the sailors now recognised. All that windows of which overlooked the terraces night the men rowed hard, and on the and fountains at the back of the house. I evening of the next day, the 6th of July, listened to every footfall on the gravel, but reached the island at a place too rocky only a gardener or two passed that way. to climb. Just then a vessel, probably a Towards noon, I took up my hat, and Turkish corsair, passed, but they lay close, strolled out. I passed her boudoir window; and gently creeping round the island landed she was not there. I sauntered down to in a safe place, and with great thankfulness the water's edge, and watched the wild to God, made fast their weather-beaten fowl stringing pearls along the surface of boat. After some danger from the shot of the lake; and then I turned, and made a Spaniard in a seaside watch-tower, Okeley my way through a wire wicket into the and his companions reached a well, drank great gardens at the other side of the with great difficulty, and fell asleep. The house. I had traversed all the broad next day, with feet raw and blistered with alleys, and was speculating on the small the sun and salt water, the five men amount of pleasure this stately place could crawled towards the city of Majorca, sleep- afford to its owner or his unhappy wife, ing by the way beside a well. In the town when, on crossing a walk narrower than they were kindly clothed and fed, and taken the rest, and screened by a thick yew-hedge before the viceroy, who was anxious to from the house, I saw her whom I had know the strength of the Algerine fleet. despaired of finding, seated at the further From thence they went in a Spanish war end, as motionless as the Greek nymph galley to Alicante, from there, pursued by with her urn on its pedestal above her. two Turkish pirates, in an English vessel She raised her 'eyes as I approached, that to Gibraltar. From Cadiz, Okeley and his was all. The hands lay listless on the party got to St. Lucar. Thence an English long, stone-coloured cloak, which covered vessel charitably took them to England, and her to the very ground; the very outline

Is there any

of the broad-leafed hat was unchanged went on rapidly, “will you treat me as a against the background of dark yews; her true friend, and tell me if there is any way eyes were just lifted to mine, no more. in which I can serve you ? The opportu

“ I am so glad to find you," I began. nities of my seeing you alone, while I am “I feared you were going to remain in here, may be few, therefore I seize this your room, as you did all yesterday, and moment to say what is on my mind. I am that I should not have a moment's conver- doing what nothing can scarcely ever sation alone with you.”

justify, but the circumstances of your case “I come here twice every day,” she re- are peculiar, and you have just alluded to plied, quietly.

them in terms which I cannot misunder"I think this is not so pretty as some stand. You are unhappy: other parts of the garden,” I observed, by thing in your position which you would way of saying something. My great object have altered—which the intervention of was to get her to talk, and this, I feared, friends might improve in any way ?" would be difficult. She was silent for some She looked at me with her stony eyes. minutes. Then, as it she felt she must say “There is no improvement possible—no something, she said:

change, for better or for worse, antil the “I come here to watch a blackbirds' nest great change comes, when I shall lay my in that laurel-bush. I saw them begin and burden down, and be at rest.” finish it, and now I watch the mother-bird There was a light step upon

the gravel. sitting."

I looked up; Mr. Ridgway was at the "Ah! I see her. Have

you many

birds further end of the walk, swinging his cane about here?”

as he approached us, with a placid aspect. " I don't know-yes, I suppose so.” But he glanced keenly at both faces as he “ And any pets of your own ?"

said: * No. The less one loves, you know, the “March winds are treacherous, my

dear. less there is to lose.”

It is too cold for you to be sitting here.” " Yet you take an interest in these “I am not like the wind," she returned, birds ?"

calmly, “and it does me no harm." Their " It is the mother's loving care of her eyes met. little ones I come here to watch. Oh! if I I thought Assunta was about to speak had but a little one of my own!” she ex- again, but she checked herself, and, rising, claimed, with a sudden passion, “I could walked silently towards the house. bear anything-anything. But the sins of "Well, Mr. Luttrell, and how fares your the fathers are visited on the children. My work ?” Mr. Ridgway laid a light hand own mother abandoned me. I clung to upon my arm; and I took the double hint nothing, and nothing will ever cling to me. --first, that the master

expected his I shall go out of the world, a waif, as I | labourer to be earning his wage at this came, leaving nothing behind me!" hour; secondly, that I was by no means to

“You are too young to talk thus. While follow the lady, but to remain with him. there is life there is

I answered that I had done my morning's “Not hope ! No, there is no hope for work; it was necessary that some preparame but when this life is ended. Would to tion I had applied should be left to dry for God it might end to-night !” She had several hours, before I again touched the worked herself up into a state of excite- canvas. ment, and spoke rapidly. “Mr. Ridgway “Has Mrs. Ridgway been more comthinks I am mad, perhaps I am. I know municative to you this morning ? Has she I have said things I should not; if I talked thawed under the rays of old acquaintI might be tempted to say them again. anceship?” he asked, with a careless air, That is why I am dumb, as you see me. which veiled but indifferently the sharpened If I should ever talk to you about-about curiosity with which he looked at me. him, don't believe what I say. I have been “On the contrary; she seems to shrink the rain of one already, in my short life; 1 from conversation. I fear she is very far will not be his ruin, too, God help me!" from well, Mr. Ridgway. Do you not Then suddenly dropping her voice to a low think it would be advisable to have further tremulous tone, “Mr. Luttrell,” she added, medical advice ?”. " have you seen Harry lately ?”.

He shrugged his shoulders.

* You canI dreaded to touch upon that theme. not' minister to a mind diseased.' There " No; I see none of them now. My links is nothing but time-time and a little with the Grange are all snapped. But in philosophy. That enables one to bear most memory of that good time that is past," I | things in life if she would only think so. What is the use of brooding over the past, I had been at Hapsbury nine days; it and imaginary ills of every kind, instead wanted but one more to complete my of seizing the pleasures of the hour, eh? work; and by no subterfuge could I proThere is something in the Persæ of Æschy, long my stay. Late on the afternoon of lus to that effect, if I remember right." the 12th of March occurred an incident

On the morning of the fourth day I re- which elicited a reply to the question which ceived the following letter:

I have above recorded.
London, March 7th.

CHAPTER XI. was sent for eighteen months ago by Mr. The fierce March winds which had swept Ridgway, and made the journey to Haps

across the wolds during the past week had bury expressly for the purpose of seeing given way to a mild beneficent rain, soften. that gentleman's wife. He remained there ing the cracked earth, and healing its one night. She was suffering from hys-for-hunters alike rejoiced; the latter in

suffering vegetation. Husbandmen and teria and great mental irritability, tending deed regarded it as a boon sent especially to produce delusions of a painful character. His advice was that she should be watched, from heaven for the promotion of their and that care should be taken to avoid any coachman said to me," the groun's as ’ard

favourite sport. “You see, sir," as the old excitement for her. He did not consider, at that time, that restraint was necessary. about terrible.” Not that Mr. Ridgway

as nails, and knocks them poor 'osses' legs This is all the information upon the case my brother says he is justified in giving cared either as agriculturalist or sportsAs to the subject of the unhappy lady's man. The bitter blast chapped his face delusions, that is a point upon which he as he sauntered up and down the terrace will always consider himself in honour in a sable coat, polishing a line of his bound to be silent.

translation, and therefore he was glad of I am, dear Luttrell, very truly yours,

the change. Otherwise, the tender shoots, F. L.

too early forced forward by a warm Feb

ruary, might be cut off for all he cared, and So far, then, this evidence was in Mr. fox-hunters be exterminated from the face Ridgway's favour, and it confirmed a pain of the iron-bound earth. ful impression which had been daily clivities it was much that he was not that strengthening in me, that the balance of abhorred thing, a "vulpicide." It might Assunta's mind was, in some measure, have been looked for that he should have shaken. Every evening, and on the rare trapped every fox in his covers, and have occasions when we met during the day, rigidly shut his park gates against "the she observed her immovable demeanour, field” when in full cry. But diplomacy never again relaxing even to the extent led him always to try and stand well with she had done in the garden on the first his fellow-men when neither obstinacy nor morning after my arrival. It was not the resentment ranged themselves on the oppoaspect of mere dejection ; there was some site side, as they did in the case of his thing unnatural about it, as though the feud with the village. The master of the exercise of self-restraint taxed the powers hounds had permission to draw the Hapsof the sufferer almost beyond endurance. bary covers when he pleased; and once at She never seemed to do anything; she sat least in the season the meet was at the for hours at her window, and would give house itself, when a sumptuous breakfast me a little nod as I passed ; sometimes I was prepared for such as were disposed to heard a few wild chords on the piano; but avail themselves of Mr. Ridgway's hospithe sweet soul of the music I had known tality. in bygone days was not there. I tried to On the day in question the hounds had arouse her interest about books; but she, met some miles distant. But the direction whose intelligence had formerly been so of the wind, which had shifted round to keenly alive to such topics, now responded the south-west, led my friend the coachapathetically to every appeal of the kind. man to predicate that, if found, Master Her thoughts, it was clear, were fixed Reynard would be likley to run in our immovably on one subject; it remained direction. The rain cleared away as the but to ascertain whether, upon that sub- day wore on, and late in the afternoon, ject, her ideas were lucid and coherent. my work being completed, I set off for How was this to be done in the face of a a distant hill in the park, which com. stony reserve, which it seemed hopeless to manded a vast expanse of country. A penetrate ?

dweller in the great city from my youth

With his pro

« AnteriorContinua »