Beelingo.com

One of the 28th - a Tale of Waterloo

CHAPTER VI.

HOME AGAIN.

Having decided to stay as one of the signallers, Jacques proceeded at once to the captain's cabin.

"I am glad you have decided so, Jacques. It would have been a troublesome business to cast lots, and some of the men might have absolutely refused doing so; so I am glad it's settled. I have arranged with the other captains that you shall have an advance of twenty napoleons. You had best hide them about you; you may find them come in useful. The boy is to have ten. Of course he is glad of the chance; but at the same time he is doing us good service, and he has worked well since he came on board. It will help him to get a passage home."

"Thank you, captain. That twenty napoleons may help me to get out of an English prison. I will manage a hiding place for them. And now I think, captain, we will be off at once—at least as soon as we have had our dinner. It's a good long way across the island to where that schooner was lying, and I shall have to choose a place for my fire so that it can be seen from the top of the hill."

At dinner Jacques told his comrades that he was going to remain behind and act as signalman for them. A good deal of regret was expressed by his shipmates, many of whom came like himself from Dunkirk, and had known him from a boy. Before starting he went to the sailmaker and got him to open the soles of his shoes; he then inserted ten napoleons in each, and the sailmaker sewed them up again. Then making his clothes into a kit and getting a couple of bottles of wine from the steward, he shook hands with his messmates, and was with Ralph rowed ashore.

On landing they cut two sticks and hung their kits upon these, Ralph taking charge of the lantern, while both were provided with tinder and steel.

They walked for half a mile together, and then Jacques said:

"Here our paths separate, lad; you can't miss your way to the top of the hill. I go almost the other way, for the schooner lies but a short distance from the end of the island. If I were you I should lie up for a sleep as soon as I get there. Remember you will not see my fire till two o'clock. If you do not see it then you must keep watch till morning, for there's no saying when it may be lit. As soon as you see it you show a light three times in the direction of the creek. If you see it answered you will have nothing more to do; if not you must keep on showing the light till you do get an answer. In the morning you wait till the sun has been up an hour, then come to this spot and wait for me. I shall start at daybreak, but I have a lot further to walk than you have, so I shan't be there before you. If we find your people haven't come into the harbor we will wait till they do so; then when they find that there is no one there we can show ourselves quietly; but if we got there first they might begin to shoot directly they saw us without stopping to ask any questions."

Ralph made his way up to the top of the hill, threw himself down under some trees near the summit, and was soon fast asleep. When he awoke it was already dark. He lit his lantern, covered it up in his jacket, and took his station at the highest point. He had plenty to think about. Another twelve hours and he would be with friends! He had no reason to complain of the treatment he had received on board the privateer, but had he remained with her he might not have returned to France for a couple of years, and would then have had difficulty in crossing to England; beside, it was painful to him to be with men fighting against his country, and each prize taken instead of causing delight to him as to his comrades, would have been a source of pain.

But most of all he thought of his mother, of how she must have grieved for him as dead, and of the joy there would be at their reunion. The hours therefore passed quickly, and he could scarcely believe it to be two o'clock when he suddenly saw the light of a fire far way toward the end of the island. A glance at the stars showed him that the time was correct. He rose to his feet, and taking the lantern held it aloft, then he lowered it behind a bush and twice raised it again. He knew exactly the direction in which the harbor lay, and no sooner had he put down the lantern for the third time than three flashes of light followed in close succession.

He knew that everything would be prepared in the afternoon for the start. Orders had been issued before he left that the oars of the boats were to be muffled, that the chains at the entrance of the channel were to be removed, and the ships got in a position, with shortened cables, for a start. He could picture to himself, as he stood there gazing into the darkness, that the men would be already in the boats awaiting his signal, and as soon as it was seen they would begin to tow the vessels out of the harbor.

During the daytime the frigate cruised backward and forward under easy sail some two miles off the entrance; but the sailors believed that at night she came very much closer to the shore, the lookout with night-glasses having reported that she had been seen once or twice within a quarter of a mile of the entrance to the channel.

Half an hour passed without any sign that the frigate was aware that the ships were leaving the harbor; then Ralph heard the sound of a distant musket-shot, followed by several others, and had no doubt that one of the frigate's boats on watch near the channel had discovered them.

A few minutes later there was a flash some distance out at sea, followed after an interval by the deep boom of a gun; then came a broadside, followed by a steady fire of heavy guns. These were evidently fired on board the frigate, no answering sounds from the French ships meeting his ear. He could see by the direction of the flashes that the frigate was under way. The firing continued for two hours, becoming more and more distant, and then it ceased altogether.

When the sun rose he saw the frigate some twenty miles away. There was a smaller craft two or three miles further off, and two others were visible ten or twelve miles further away to the west. Two of the privateers had evidently made their escape, and the third seemed to be leaving her pursuer behind, for the wind was exceedingly light. Some miles nearer to the island than the frigate a schooner was visible. She was heading for the two vessels that had gone toward the west, but as these were fully fifteen miles to windward her chance of overtaking them appeared to be slight. Ralph waited an hour, and then proceeded at a leisurely pace toward the spot where he was to meet Jacques. He was but five minutes at the spot agreed upon when he saw him coming through the trees.

"I heard nothing of the landing-parties," he said as the French sailor approached.

"The reason is not far to search for," he replied. "They did not land at all, and I did not much expect that they would. The boats from the frigate arrived a few minutes before I lighted my fire. I was lying down at the edge of the cliff, looking right down upon her deck. They came up in a body, rowing with muffled oars. I could just hear the sound of their talking when they came on deck. As soon as I had the fire fairly alight I saw your signal and then went back to watch them. Everything was quiet till I heard the boom of the first gun; then I heard 'Silence!' ordered on the schooner. I suppose some one had said that he heard a gun, and other's didn't. Of course the sound did not come to them under the shelter of the cliff as it did to me. Then came the sound of another gun, and then three or four close together; then orders were given sharply, the capstan was manned and the anchor run up, and they were not a minute getting her sails set. But under the shelter of the cliff there was not enough wind to fill them, and so the boats were manned, and she went gliding away until I could no longer make her out. They guessed, of course, that our craft were making off, and went to help the frigate."

"They were too late to be of any use, Jacques."

"Ah! you have seen them from the top of the hill. I did not think of that. What is the news?"

"The frigate was in chase of one of them. It was too far for me to see which. I should say he was two or three miles ahead, certainly well out of gunshot, and as far as I could see during the hour I was watching them, was increasing her lead. Unless the wind freshens I think she is safe. The other two were on the opposite tack, ten or twelve miles away to the west. The schooner was heading after them, but was at least fifteen miles from them."

"She is very fast in a light wind like this, they say."

"Well, if she should catch them, they ought to be able to beat her off, Jacques, as they are two to one. So far I think your chance of getting your three shares is a good one."

"Maybe, lad. I have not had much luck so far. I began on the sea when I was eleven. At twenty-one I had to go into the navy, and it was seven years later when I got back to Dunkirk after that spell in the prison. I did not report myself, for I had no wish to do any more man-of-wars' work; and now I have had six years privateers' work, and have not made much by it. If I get back this time and get those three shares I will buy a fine fishing smack for myself and a snug little house on shore. There is some one I promised—if the voyage turned out well—she should have a nice little house of her own, and she promised to wait for me. After that, no more long voyages for me. I suppose we may as well go down to the harbor now, lad. They are sure to come back sooner or later, whether they catch any of the privateers or not."

"Oh, yes! we shall be all safe now. We will be on the beach when they come in. When they see that we are alone and unarmed there's no chance of their firing. We can go up occasionally to the cliffs and watch for them."

It was not until the following evening that the frigate was seen approaching the island.

"She will take another four or five hours to work in," Jacques said, "and they are not likely to try to land till to-morrow morning. All their boats and half their men are away in the schooner. I should think she would be back to-morrow morning. Either she caught them before it got dark last night—which I don't think likely—or they will have given her the slip in the night. In that case she might look about for another day and then make sail to rejoin."

As Jacques predicted the schooner was seen by daylight eight or ten miles away.

"We may as well hoist a white flag, Jacques. The captain of the frigate will be savage that all the privateers have escaped him, but it may put him into a good temper if he takes possession here before the schooner arrives."

Ralph ran down to the storehouse, got hold of a sheet and an oar, and a white flag was soon hoisted on the top of the cliff. Five minutes later two gigs were seen rowing off from the frigate. Ralph and Jacques took their places on the battery. When the boats reached the mouth of the narrow entrance the order was given for the men to lay on their oars. Ralph shouted at the top of his voice:

"You can come on, sir! We are the only two here!"

The order was given to row on, and Ralph and his companion at once went down to meet them at the end of the harbor. The captain himself was in the stern of his own gig, while a young lieutenant held the lines in the other boat.

"Who are you? the captain asked, as he stepped ashore on the little wharf. You are English by your speech."

"I am English, sir. I was on board a fishing boat in the channel when we were run down by one of those privateers in the dark. I believe the fisherman with me was drowned, but I clung to the bobstay and was got on board. She was on her way out here and had no opportunity of landing me. She only arrived here two days before you came up."

"You are not a fisherman?" the captain said abruptly.

"No, sir; my mother is living at Dover, and I was at school there. I lost my father, who was an architect, some years ago."

"And who is this who is with you?"

"He is a sailor in the brig I came out in, and has been extremely kind to me during the voyage, and kept the others from persecuting me."

"How is it he is left behind?" the captain asked.

"He was round the other side of the island watching the schooner," Ralph replied, "and the others sailed away without him;" for Ralph had agreed with Jacques that it was better to say nothing about the signalling.

"Have you done any fighting since you were on board the privateer?" the captain asked sternly.

"No, sir. We have only exchanged shots with one ship since we sailed. She fired one broadside and the privateer drew off a good deal damaged. Another was surprised by night, but I took no part in it. I don't know what she was laden with or what was her name."

"Well, lad, your story sounds truthful, and will, of course, be inquired into when we get to England. As to this man, he is of course a prisoner."

"I hope not, sir," Ralph pleaded. "He has not been taken with arms in his hands, and is, in fact, a castaway mariner."

The captain's face relaxed into a smile. "I see you are a sort of sea lawyer. Well, we shall see about it. What is there in these storehouses?"

"A quantity of things, sir. They took away a great many with them, but there must be ten times as much left. I heard them say they had the cargoes of more than twenty ships here."

"That is satisfactory at any rate," the captain said. "Mr. Wylde, will you just take a look round these storehouses and see what there is worth taking away. You had better take my boat's crew as well as your own to help you to turn things over. Are you quite sure, lad, that there is no one beside yourselves on the island?"

"I can't say that, sir. The orders were for all hands to embark last night, and so far as I know none of them were left behind except Jacques Clery. We have been here for two days now and have seen no one, so I do not think any one else can have been left."

"How did you get on on board the brig?" the captain asked. "I suppose you cannot speak French?"

"I couldn't speak any French when I first was got on board, sir, but I picked up a great deal on the voyage out. Jacques speaks English very well. He was a prisoner in England for three years, and learned it there, and it was that which caused him to speak to me directly he had got me on board, for no one else understood me. So he set to work at once to help me in my French, so that I could get along. The captain was very kind too. He said that as I had been picked up in that way he should not treat me as a prisoner; but he expected me to make myself useful, and, of course, I did so. It was the only way of having a comfortable life."

"Is this the only place the privateers had on shore here?" the captain asked, looking round. "I only see one or two huts."

"The storekeepers lived in them, sir. They stopped behind to look after things when the privateers were away. The men slept on board their vessels, only landing to disembark the cargoes they had captured, and for a drunken spree when they first returned. I am sure they have no other place."

"So your brig only arrived here four days ago? I was puzzled in the morning when I saw there were two brigs and a schooner when we had only expected one brig. Of course your arrival accounts for that. What was her name, and how many guns and men did she carry?"

"She was La Belle Marie of Dunkirk," Ralph replied. "She carried fourteen guns, mostly eighteen-pounders, and a thirty-two-pounder on a pivot. She had eighty hands at first, but eight of them went away in the prize."

"Do you know whether she has gone off straight for France or whether she is going to remain here?"

"Prom what I gathered from the men, sir, I believe the other two privateers are going straight home. They loaded up from the storehouses, taking, of course, the most valuable stuff. There was a great deal of copper, but what the rest was I do not know. Our brig was loaded up too, but I believe her intention was to transfer her cargo into the first prize she took and send it to France. I do not know whether she was going to cruise about here for a time, but I should rather think that now that her consorts have gone and this place been discovered she will not stay here, for she never intended to cruise in these waters long. I know that her destination was the Indian Ocean, and she intended to capture Indiamen on their way out or home."

"In that case our expedition has been more satisfactory than I expected," the captain said. "We shall have discovered and destroyed their depot here, captured anyhow some valuable stuff, and caused the two privateers that we have been hunting for so long to leave the islands, to say nothing of this brig of yours, of which we had not heard. Well, Mr. Wylde, what is your report?"

"It will take a long time to go through the whole sir, but I should say that we have taken a most valuable prize. Part of the goods consist of produce of these parts—puncheons of rum and hogsheads of sugar in any number. Then I see they have left a good many tons of copper behind them; overlooked them, I suppose, in the hurry of loading. A considerable portion of the stores consist of home produce—cottons, cloths, silks, furniture, musical instruments, mirrors, and, in fact, goods of all kinds."

"That is most satisfactory, Mr. Wylde, and we sha'n't have had our trouble for nothing. Ah! here come the other boats."

As he spoke the pinnaces, long-boats, and cutters of the two ships of war dashed into the harbor, and in a minute or two reached the landing-place.

"So they gave you the slip as well as me, Chambers?" Captain Wilson said.

"Confound them, yes. I was within about four miles of them at sunset, but they both gave me the slip in the dark."

"Mine fairly outsailed me," Captain Wilson said. "I am afraid we have made rather a mess of the affair; though we acted for the best, and I don't see how we could have done otherwise. However. I have learned that the brig and the schooner we have been chasing so long have made straight for France, so that we shall have no more trouble with them. The other brig, which only arrived two days before we chased the others in here, has, it is believed, also gone off. So we shan't have done so badly; for we can report that we have found out and destroyed their nest here, and I fancy from what my lieutenant says we have made a very valuable capture, enough to give us all a round sum in prize-money."

"That will be some consolation," the other laughed; "but I would give my share of it if I could but have come up with and engaged those rascally craft I have been hunting all over the islands for these last two years. Whom have we got here—two prisoners?"

"Well, I hardly know whether they can be called prisoners. One is an English lad who was in a boat they run down in the channel, and who, I dare say, they were glad to get rid of. It seems that he is a gentleman's son, and his story is clear enough. The other belongs to the brig I chased, which it seems only arrived here two days ago. The young fellow says that he has been particularly kind to him, and has begged me to regard him in the light of a castaway sailor, seeing that he was found here unarmed and away from his ship. I think there is something in his plea; and as there is no credit or glory to be obtained from handing over one prisoner, I consider that under the circumstances we shall be justified in letting him go ashore quietly and in saying nothing about it. At one time the man was a prisoner of war in England and has picked up our language, so I dare say he will be able to manage to find his way home without difficulty."

"What are you thinking of doing with all this stuff?" Captain Chambers asked, pointing to the storehouses.

"I think we had better take it away with us. I don't like turning the Alert into a storeship; but it would be better to do that than to have the expense of chartering two or three ships to come here to fetch it away. Beside, if I did that, you would have to stop here until it is all carried away, and to burn the storehouses afterward."

"Then by all means let us load up," Captain Chambers said. "I certainly have no wish to be kept here for six weeks or a couple of months. I will go out and bring the Seagull in at once."

"The sooner the better, Chambers. I will set a couple of boats at work at once to take soundings here and in the channel. If I can get the Alert in I will; it would save a lot of trouble and time."

It was found that the channel and the harbor inside contained an abundance of water for the frigate. The width between the rocks was, however, only just sufficient to let her through; and, therefore, while the schooner sailed boldly in, the frigate was towed in by her boats. The next morning the work of shipping the contents of the storehouses commenced, but so large was the quantity of goods stored up that it took six days of hard work before all was safely on board. The sailors, however, did not grudge the trouble, for they knew that every box and bale meant so much prize-money.

"I hope we shall meet nothing we ought to chase on our way to Port Royal," Captain Wilson said, looking with some disgust at the two vessels. "It has brought the Alert nearly two feet lower in the water; while as to the Seagull she is laden down like a collier."

"Yes, her wings are clipped for the present," Captain Chambers replied. "Of course those rascals carried off the pick of their booty with them; but we may be well content with what they left behind. It will be the best haul that we have made for some years. As a rule, the most we have to hope for is the money fetched by the sale of any privateer we may catch, and they generally go for next to nothing. I retract what I said—that I would give my share of the prize-money to come up with the privateers. I certainly never calculated on such a haul as this. I suppose they intend to have gone on storing away their booty till the war came to an end, and then to have chartered a dozen ships to carry it away."

Captain Wilson had introduced Ralph to the midshipmen, telling them he would be in their mess till he reached port. He was soon at home among them, and his clothes were replaced by some they lent him. Jacques made himself equally at home among the crew. Captain Wilson had intimated to the first lieutenant that the man was not to be considered as a prisoner, but as a castaway, picked up on the island; and from his cheery temper, his willingness to lend a hand and make himself useful in any way, and his knowledge of their language, he was soon a favorite with them.

When all the goods were on board fire was applied to the storehouses and huts. The two vessels were then towed out of the harbor, and hoisting sail made for Port Royal. The winds were light, and it was six days before they entered the harbor. A signal was at once hoisted from the flagship there for the captain to come on board.

"I have no doubt he is in a towering rage at our appearance," Captain Wilson said to the first lieutenant; "but I fancy he will change his tone pretty quickly when he learns what we have got on board. His share of the prize money will come to a pretty penny."

The next morning a number of lighters came alongside the ships, and the work of discharging the cargo commenced. After breakfast Ralph and Jacques were rowed ashore.

"You will want some money to pay for your passage, young gentleman." Captain Wilson said to Ralph before leaving the ship. "I will authorize you to tell an agent that I will be security for the payment of your passage-money."

"I am very much obliged to you, sir," Ralph replied; "but I shall work my way home if I can. I have learned to be pretty handy on board the privateer, and I would as lief be working forward as dawdling about aft all the way home. Beside, I don't want to inconvenience my mother by her being called upon suddenly to pay thirty or forty pounds directly I get home. I have caused her trouble enough as it is."

"That's, right, my lad," the captain said. "I like your spirit. Have you money enough to pay for your hotel expenses while you are waiting for a ship?"

"Yes, thank you, sir. The French captain said I had fairly earned wages, and gave me ten napoleons when he started."

"He must have been a good sort of fellow," the captain said; "though I wish we had caught him for all that. Well, good-by, and a pleasant voyage home."

Ralph put up at a quiet boarding-house, kept by a Mulatto woman. He and Jacques got a fresh rig-out of clothes at once, and went down to the port to inquire about ships. Ralph was greatly amused at the aspect of the streets crowded with chattering negroes and negresses, in gaudy colors. The outlay of a few pence purchased an almost unlimited supply of fruit, and Ralph and his companion sat down on a log of wood by the wharves and enjoyed a feast of pine apples, bananas, and custard apples. Then they set about their work. In an hour both were suited. Jacques Clery shipped as a foremast hand on board an American trading schooner, which was about to return to New York; while Ralph obtained a berth before the mast in a fine bark that would sail for England in a few days.

Next morning they said good-by to each other, for Jacques had to go on board after breakfast. They made many promises to see each other again when the war came to an end.

"I shall never forget your kindness, Jacques; and if I am still at Dover when peace is proclaimed I will run over to Dunkirk by the very first vessel that sails."

"As for the kindness, it is nothing," Jacques replied; "and beside that, you saved my life from that snake. I dream sometimes of the beast still. And it was really owing to you that I am here now, and that I shall get a round sum coming to me when I return home. If it hadn't been for you I should not have been chosen to stop behind and get three shares instead of one of the prize money. And in the next place it is your doing that I am free to start at once, and to make my way back as soon as I can, instead of spending four or five years, it may be, in an English prison. Why, my Louise will be ready to jump for joy when she sees me arrive, instead of having to wait another two years for me, with the chance of my never coming back at all; and she will hardly believe me when I tell her that I shall be able to afford to buy that fishing boat and set up in a house of our own at once; and she will be most surprised of all when I tell her that it is all owing to an English boy I fished on board on a dark night in the channel."

"Well, Jacques, we won't dispute as to which owes the other most. Anyhow, except for my mother, I am not sorry I have made the trip in the Belle Maire. I have seen a lot of life, and have had a rare adventure; and I have learned so much of sailor's work, that if I am ever driven to it I can work my way anywhere before the mast in future."

Ralph went on board his own ship as soon as he had seen Jacques off, and was soon hard at work assisting to hoist on board hogsheads of sugar and other produce. He was startled by the sound of a heavy gun. It was answered presently by all the ships of war in the harbor and by the forts on shore, and for five minutes the heavy cannonade continued. The captain, who had been on shore, crossed the gangway on to the ship as the crew were gazing in surprise at the cannonade, exchanging guesses as to its cause.

"I have great news, lads," he said. "Peace is proclaimed, and Napoleon has surrendered, and is to be shut up in the Isle of Elba in the Mediterranean. No more fear of privateers or French prisons."

The crew burst into a hearty cheer. This was indeed surprising news. It was known that Wellington was gradually driving back the French marshals in the south of France, and that the allies were marching toward Paris. But Napoleon had been so long regarded as invincible, that no one had really believed that his downfall was imminent.

Four days later the cargo was all on board, and the Fanny sailed for England. The voyage was accomplished without adventure. As soon as the vessel entered dock and the crew were discharged Ralph landed, and having purchased a suit of landsman clothes, presented his kit to a lad of about his own age, who had been his special chum on board the Fanny, and then made his way to the inn from which the coaches for Dover started. Having secured a place for next day, dined, and ordered a bed, he passed the evening strolling about the streets of London, and next morning at six o'clock took his place on the coach.

"Going back from school, I suppose, young gentleman?" a military-looking man seated next to him on the coach remarked as soon as they had left the streets behind them, and were rattling along the Old Kent Road.

"No, I am not going home from school," Ralph said with a smile. "At least not from the sort of school you mean; though I have been learning a good deal too. I arrived yesterday from the West Indies."

"Indeed!" the gentleman said, scrutinizing him closely. "I see you look sunburned and weather-beaten now that I look at you; but somehow I should not have put you down as a sailor."

"Well, I am not exactly a sailor; though I may say I have worked as one before the mast both out and home. That was my first experience; and I suppose one takes longer than that to get the regular nautical manner."

"Before the mast, were you? Then I suppose you have been getting into some scrape at home, young sir, and run away; for, from your appearance, you would hardly have been before the mast otherwise. Boys never know what is good for them. But I suppose after your experience you will be inclined to put up with any disagreeables you may have at home rather than try running away again?"

"You are mistaken!" Ralph said with a laugh. "I did not run away. I was run away with!"

"Kidnapped!" the gentleman said in surprise. "I know that merchantmen have often difficulty in getting hands owing to the need of men for the navy, but I did not know that they had taken to press-gangs on their own account."

"No, I don't know that they have come to that," Ralph replied. "The fact is, sir, I was out fishing a few miles off Dover, when the smack I was in was run down in the dark by a French privateer. I was hauled on board, and as she was bound for the West Indies I had to make the voyage whether I liked it or not."

"How long ago is it that you were run down?"

"About five months," Ralph replied.

"Why, you are not the son of Mrs. Conway of Dover, are you?"

"Yes, I am, sir. Do you know her, and can you tell me how she is?" Ralph asked eagerly.

"I believe that she is well, although of course she must have suffered very greatly at your disappearance. I haven't the pleasure of knowing her personally, but several friends of mine are acquainted with her. I heard the matter talked about at the time the boat was missing. Some portions of her were picked up by other fishing boats, and by the shattered state of some of the planks they said that she had been run down; beside, there had been no wind about the time she disappeared, so that there was little doubt some vessel or other had cut her down. I happened to hear of it from Colonel Bryant, who is a friend of your mother."

"Yes, I know him," Ralph put in.

"I have heard Colonel Bryant say that she has not altogether abandoned hope, and still clings to the idea that you may have been run down by some outward-bound ship and that you had been saved and carried away, and that she declares that she shall not give up all hope until ample time has elapsed for a ship to make the voyage to India and return."

"I am very glad of that," Ralph said. "It has been a great trouble to me that she would be thinking all this time that I was dead. I should not have minded having been carried away so much if I had had a chance of writing to her to tell her about it; but I never did have a chance, for I came home by the very first ship that left Port Royal after I arrived there."

"But how did you get away from the French privateer—was she captured?"

"Well, it is rather a long story, sir," Ralph said modestly.

"All the better," the gentleman replied. "We have got fourteen hours journey before us, and your story will help pass the time; so don't try to cut it short, but let me have it in full." Ralph thereupon told the story, which lasted until the coach reached Tunbridge, where it stopped for the passengers to dine.

"Well, that is an adventure worth going through," the officer, who had already mentioned that his name was Major Barlow, said; "and it was well for you, lad, that you possessed good spirits and courage. A man who is cheerful and willing under difficulties will always make his way in the world, while one who repines and kicks against his fate only makes it harder for him. I have no doubt that if, instead of taking matters coolly when you found yourself on board the privateer you had fretted and grumbled, you would have been made a drudge and kicked and cuffed by everyone on board. You would not have had a chance of landing at that island or of being chosen to make the signal when they went away, and you would now be leading the life of a dog on board that brig. Cheerful and willing are two of the great watchwords of success in life, and certainly you have found it so."

It was eight o'clock when the coach rattled up the streets of Dover. Major Barlow had already offered Ralph to take him to Colonel Bryant's quarters, and to ask the colonel to go with him to call on Mrs. Conway and prepare her for Ralph's coming.

 


1 of 2
2 of 2