Page images
PDF
EPUB

swore that it was all day with him; and as it was no use to veer or haul any longer, he might as well content himself; so he began to reflect upon the times when he used to go to church, and read the Bible, and he then wished that he had never cast off the tow-line his old woman gave him, when a lad. But just then, Jack's meditations were all blown aloft by the gig's darting alongside of a large frigate-built ship, with sails bent, and royal yards across. She was at single anchor, stu’n’-sail gear rove, clues furled out, lower booms alongside, and all ready for getting underway.

The Gent'man in Black leaped up the accommodation ladder, and Marlinspike followed him, swearing that he'd be d-d if he'd be boatkeeper to any such craft. When Jack got on board, not a soul could he see, fore or aft, save the skipper, who stood upon the quarter-deck; but what most astonished him, was to see the gig dropped to the davits, hooked on, and hoisted up, without a man in the boat, or a soul hold of the fall. Presently he heard the bo’son call all hands up anchor; then he heard the bustle of the men, as they hurried up to their stations; he saw the messenger passed, the bars shipped, and swiftered in, and heard the chain as it came rattling in the hause-hole — but not a man could he see, beside the skipper, who stood upon the quarter-deck, giving his orders through a trumpet as black and as big as a frigate's galley. funnel. Presently the anchor was catted and fished, and Jack beheld the ship moving out under all stu’n’-sails. You may be sure he was terribly frightened at this, and wondered all the time what the old woman would say, if she knew to what port the vessel was hastening.

At last Jack went up to the skipper, and asked him for his station, as he did n't like to be drifting about, with his hands in his beckets, when there was duty to do; but he was told that he was merely wanted to look out for land, and that it would be two or three months before his services would be wanted: so Jack had nothing to do, for a long time, but to work Tom Coxe's traverse - that is, come up one hatchway and go

down the other. The Gentman in Black did n't take an observation all the while; there warn't a compass aboard, and Jack could only tell that they were steering North, by the pole-star, which he saw ahead every night. They had some heavy blows, attended with rain, and thunder and lightning; but the sails were always so well trimmed to meet the emergencies, that Marlinspike guessed there might be about two hundred invisible men aboard, all told.

One day the skipper told Jack to go upon the top-gallant-yard and look out for land. Well, he had n't been there long, afore he sung out • Hell a head, Sir, by the Lord Harry!' — and sure enough, he saw a flame rising out of a hummock of land, a great way off, and once or twice he thought he smelt burning brimstone. Here we go,' says he, right into h – 11, with the wind aft

, and stu’n’-sails both sides clawing off, either. Well, I'll not take on, for many a better man than I has made this land-fall afore me, and many a better one will after me -- happy go lucky, if you go to the devil ?

That evening they came to anchor in a small bay, and the skipper told Jack to stand by to go ashore. So Marlinspike rigged out in his mustering suit

, and they went ashore in the same boat that brought them aboard. After cruising over hills and valleys, for three days, they

27

no

VOL. VIII.

6

came to the mouth of a cave, in the bight of a dismal mountain, out of which spouted a sheet of blue fire. Here they entered, and travelled round and round for three days: at last they began to near the infernal regions — for Jack could hear the clanking of chains, and could smell brimstone in the flaws that now and then passed him. On the evening of the third day, they came to a big iron door, and the Gent'man in Black took a key out of his pocket, and opened it. The next moment Jack was in one of the ante-chambers of the place he'd heard so much of. Here the skipper stopped, and taking Marlinspike to a grating set in the wall, told him to behold the rewards of iniquity. Jack looked down, and saw

a crowd of beings, as far as he could look, chained up in the flames. They were making the most infernal noises he ever heard; and some, whose tethers were long enough, were hop'ping round to get on to the cool side of the biggest coals; but what most affected Jack, was to see his master, old Boombrace, shackled to a red-hot anchor.

*Ah,' said he, 'old'un, the black fellow, your uncle, has got you at last ! Well, I 'm sorry

for you, being as how you were a seaman, and could splice a rope, or pass a gasket

, with the best hand that ever put his mark upon a ship's books: but it was your destination from a youth ; you were a devil's chicken, man and boy, and its a poor ship that won't make her port in fifty year's cruising?

Come," said the skipper, ‘I will show you your duty.. They went into a room much larger than the first here Jack saw a great number of spars, coils of rigging, and old junk, blocks of all kinds, pennant-tackles, and old sails; there were also about a hundred large pots in the room, and a rousing fire under them all. The Gent'man in Black then told Marlinspike that he must keep up a good lively flame under all the pots, for the space of one year, and that at the end of that time, if he did his duty well, he would give him some lighter employment.

But, look'ye, Sir,' said Marlinspike, 'when I shipped, it was as a man afore the mast, not as a land-lubber of a pitch-boiler. Every man to his trade,' as the doctor said when he killed the king. Now if you have any dead-eyes to turn in, or rigging to fit, or any thing to be done which requires the knack of a man who has followed the sea, I am the chap that can do it; but this job you've laid out here is more in the line of a ship's cook than of a rated seaman.

But the Old Boy said he had nothing else for him to do, and so Jack had to take hold of the poker and shovel. In the mean time, his superior left him, telling him that he would be back in one year. So Marlinspike was left alone in the ante-chamber I spoke of, to learn the profession of pot-boiling.

One day, as Jack was rousing up the coals, he heard a groan, and presently a voice crying out from inside the pot :

O shipmate, for mercy's sake, avast!'
Marlinspike instantly laid down his poker in astonishment.

And who in the devil's name are you ? asked Jack — for the voice was as familiar to him as the roaring of the seas. • What !' said the voice have

you

let old Timberheads slip the cable of mem’ry in that kind o'way? - he, too, that larnt you to knot and clinch, when you warn’t higher than a match-tub ?'

• My eyes ! — iš this old Jim Timberheads ?'

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

6

up here

· Yes, Jack, and in a pot, too, boiling like a yam,' answered Jim. · And what wind blowed you here, pray ??

Why, you must know I shipped aboard of a craft that turned out to be a pirate; we were all taken by a British channel.groper, and hung - the tail end of which was, that we were shipped to this port, bag and hammock.'

Jack then took the poker, and pushing off the lid of the pot, set his old friend at liberty. Jim began to thank his preserver, but Jack told him to never mind it — that it was all in the cruise, and that they ought to turn to, and get the rest on 'em out of limbo. Who's in that pot, there? asked Marlinspike.

Old Tressletrees, the boatswain.' • Pot there!' shouted Jack. Hallo!' answered the voice within. You're in Darby's, I think.'

Yes,' answered the bo’son, 'coiled away like an old sheet in a tier; but who are you, making my number in that familiar kind o'way??

• Your old messmate, Marlinspike.

• What,' said Timberheads, has the devil toggled you at last, Jacky? Well, my lad, I am not surprised, 'cause I always know'd you'd bring

- but I did n't think the old 'un would heave his grapnels at you so soon. You're a young man, but I'm an old offender, and it's a-most time my account was squared.'

Jack then told him how he had got into Beelzebub's clutches, and how he had liberated Timberheads.

Well then, Jacky,' said the bo’son, if that's your spirit, just lift up the lid, and let an old messmate out o'irons, for d'ye see, I havn't stirred tack nor sheet these six months, and its almost as uncomfortable here as 't was with me at Dartmoor.'

Marlinspike and Timberheads then slued the lid off the pot, and the bo'son jumped out, and shook his old shipmates heartily by the hands ; they then turned to, and liberated about twenty more on 'em. At last they came to a pot that was up in one corner. • Who's in this pot ?? asked Timberheads.

*Ah, my good kind friend Timberheads, do pray let me out of this !' groaned a voice from within.

•Who are you?' asked Jim.
• Your old shipmate, Mister Clews.'

• Ah ha, my darling!— Nicholas has hoisted you in, too; well, you infernal, tyrannical scoundrel, here's where you ought to have been ten years ago : if he'd caught you then, it might have saved your credit, if you ever had any."

0, Mister Timberheads-recollect, Sir, that I only did my duty!' Avast there, Sir! — avast there!

o
your

lies my timbers, if you ever see daylight again. You was a tyrant on the J-'s berth-deck; but I'll forgive you that, and show you how a seaman remembers an injury: there, Sir, hop out, and if you should ever be master's mate of another frigate's berth-deck — which is a thing not at all likely, considering the place we're in - jist please to recollect that blue-jackets have feelings as well as those who sling further aft, although they don't wear as much gold lace, nor make as much noise to so little purpose.'

Jack and the rest on 'em then freed three or four old admirals, some

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

none

now, or shiver

captains, and one or two lieutenants, of different nations - and when they were all free, they began to sky-lark, and kick up a hooroosh in all quarters: but presently they were somewhat astonished at seeing a huge monkey-built varmint, with ears like a jackass, and horns like an ox, come io the grating and ogle at them, grinning and chattering like an angry baboon. Old Tressletrees swore it was the devil, having seen him, as he said, twice in Havana, and once on the coast of Africa. One o' the men then picked up a poker, and hove it at him, but the varmint wheeled round, and poking his tail between the bars of the grating, began to shake it at 'em, as much as to say, 'You may go to h—11,

you

d d tar-dobbing scoundrels;' but while he was wagging it about, old Timberheads sneaked up behind him, and catching hold the end of it, took a turn with it round a spike in the wall. Now, boys,' said he, . we've got a clinch on the ryptile, and we'll see how he's laid up; hand me down that luff tackle, and look round, some of ye, for a selvige. Both these articles were found at hand, and in a minute they had hooked the double-block of the luff to a strap round the varmint's tail, and the single block to a bar in the opposite grating. • Now, my lads,' said the bo’son, as coolly as if he had been on a mano'-war's fo'castle, clap on the fall, every man o'you!' — while at the same time he took out his whistle, and commenced piping •Bouseaway!' As soon as the tackle got pretty well taut, the fiend began to grow very uneasy, frisking his head and arms about on all sides, and looking pitifully at 'em through the grating. You d-d monkey-rigged villain,' said old Timberheads, going within a few paces of the animal, .we'll have a longer face than that on you, 'fore we're done with you; we'll taut'en your cable for you. Haul, boys, haul; hold on what you get, and don't slack an inch of it.'

By this time he began to bellow out, and ax for mercy: O gentlemen,' said he, "for pity's sake spare me! do, good gentlemen, spare me! Mister Tressletrees, I appeal to you! Recollect our long friendship.'

You be d-d!' shouted the bo’son; 'I wants none o' your blarney. Bouse away, my livelys !'

The tears now ran down the varmint's face, as big as dead-eyes, and he roared out like the united voices of a thousand mad bulls. Nothing could be heard but the bo'son's whistle, excepting when the animal took breath for another bellow, at which time Tressletrees took advantage of the lull, to give his orders: at last the bo’son thought it would be best to hold on a bit, for fear his tail would strand, or part, and they'd lose him altogether; but Timberheads sung out to go on with him, and clap stoppers on his tail, in case it began to weaken. This so terrified him, that he commenced begging and praying to all, addressing his conversation particularly to one or two of the admirals, and to Tressletrees, calling them his particular friends, and telling them the favors he had done 'em; but finding this useless, he at last told 'em that he'd deliver up the key, in case they'd come up the tackle. The bo’son told him to fork it out then, which he immediately did.

* Now, boys,' said the bo’son, take a turn with the fall round that bar, while I go and try if the villain has given us the right key.'

Tressletrees then opened the door, and finding all right, he went up to the grating, saying to the liberator : ‘Hark ye, my friend, you 'll

larn, after this, to treat honest seamen like men, when they happen ag'in to drift into your clutches, and not to be wagging your tail at 'em in that tantalizin' kind o'way. I've got no ill will agi'n' you, at all, except that kind o' feeling which a Christian man should always have for Satan; and as to the stretching we gave your out-rigger, it will be sarviceable to you, seeing as how it will taughten the lays of the strands, and make it more imparvious to water. Give us a grip of your flipper, and so good-bye to ye. Come, up the fall, boys, and let's be moving. So they released the poor devil, and cleared out for upper air. In three days, they made the surface of the 'arth, and in three more arrived at the bay, where, to their great joy, they found a Nantucket whaler, which had put in for water. When they told the captain their history, he laughed, and agreed to give 'em a passage home, where they all arrived shortly afterward.

One day Jack was standing on Old-Slip, when he heard some one from behind ask him if he wanted a berth. Marlinspike turned round, when, to his astonishment, there stood the Gent'man in Black. Jack eyed him a moment, and then knocked him down, saying: There's a berth for you, you blear-eyed, man-roasting, coal-burning scoundrel.' The devil then hauled his wind, nor has he showed his colors ever since. It being, come Christmas next, twenty years ago, I suppose the varmint shifted his cruisin'-ground. Tressletrees told me that, about ten years afterward, he got a peep at the gent’man on the Livy, at Orleans, but afore he could overhaul him, the scoundrel was hull down.

R. B.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »