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Chapter Ten.
Happiness at home—War breaks out again—Pressgangs abroad—Mysterious appearance of Charley Iffley—His unaccountable conduct—Anecdotes about smugglers—The old couple and their lost son—Sea-yarns.

No happiness could be more complete than ours, and I saw no reason why it should not be permanent. Happy it undoubtedly is that we do not see the dark clouds of adversity gathering in the horizon, yet it would be wiser in men if they would still recollect that, however bright the sky and fine the weather, storms may arise, and thick mists may overshadow them—perhaps sent as punishments, perhaps in mercy to try and purify them. I was actively engaged all day in the duties of my office, and in the evening, when I returned home, I was welcomed by the smiles of my wife, and the cordial kindness of Aunt Bretta. I desired no change—I should have been content to live the same sort of life to the end of my days. I had a few little rubs and annoyances to contend with in my employment, but I did not allow them to vex me, and went on steadily doing my duty, neither turning to the right hand nor to the left.

War with France had again broken out, and England was making every effort to renew the struggle with the numerous foes which her prosperity and greatness had won for her. A difficulty existed then, as now, in manning the navy, and the pressgangs were always hard at work endeavouring to secure by force or stratagem the necessary crew for the ships.

I knew that I was not exempt from the risk of being taken, but as I dressed in shore-going clothes, and as I was not likely to meet any of my old shipmates or other people who knew me to have been a seaman, I had little fear on the subject. Had I been single and without the ties of home, I would gladly have once more gone afloat to serve my country; but how could I be expected to tear myself from all I loved on earth to do duty before the mast among rough and uneducated men, subject to all the rigours of the naval discipline of those days? I talked the subject over with my uncle.

“If the time comes when every man who can handle a rope is wanted, I shall be the first to say ‘Go,’” said he. “Till then, my boy, stay at home, do your duty, and look after your wife.”

I was too glad to follow his advice. There was no grass growing in the streets of Portsmouth in those days. The place swarmed with seamen and officers; troops were marching in and out; carriages-and-four were dashing down from London; bands were playing; the hotels swarmed with visitors come to see their friends off; ships were being commissioned and fitted out with unwonted rapidity; and all was life, activity, and energy. I now and then, on my way home, took a walk up High Street, for the amusement of observing the bustling, laughing, talking, busy throng.

One evening, as I turned to go back, my eye fell on the countenance of a man whose features I felt sure I knew. In an instant I recollected that they were those of Charles Iffley. Forgetting all I had heard to his disparagement, I was going to follow him, when he turned into a cross street among a crowd who were looking on at some itinerant tumblers, and I lost sight of him. I felt very sorry, for I should have been glad to have shaken him again by the hand and invited him to our house. My wife and aunt used constantly to walk out a little way on the common to meet me.

Two days after that, when they met me, they told me that, in the morning, as they were returning home, they had suddenly encountered Charles Iffley. He knew them at once, but did not speak. He stopped for an instant, stared hard at them, and then moved on. When, however, they reached our house door, they observed that he had followed them at a distance and remarked where they had gone in. Just as they had finished their account, the very person we were speaking of appeared at the further end of the road coming towards us. Directly, however, he saw us, he stopped short and looked at me with an astonished and inquiring gaze. He remained long enough, apparently, to ascertain positively who it was. At first he evidently was in doubt. He had heard of my death, and believed that I was dead, I concluded, and that when he saw me alive, and, as he might have suspected, married to the very woman who had refused to become his wife, he at first could not trust his senses.

My impulse was immediately to run forward to meet him, but my wife pressed my arm so tightly that I could not leave her.

“No, no, do not go,” she whispered. “I do not like his look. He means us mischief.” She must have felt very strongly, I knew, before she could have given way to such an expression. Of course, I yielded to her wish, though it went much against my feelings to turn away from my old associate, ill as I had too much reason to think of him. I could not help agreeing with my wife, as I watched him, that I did not like his look. There was something very evil in his expression as he watched us proceeding towards our home, and I could no longer have any doubt that he recognised me. I never before had seen his countenance wear so malignant an expression, and I feared, not without reason, that even at that moment he was plotting to do us some mischief. A picture I had once seen was forcibly recalled to my memory. It represented Satan watching our first parents in Paradise, and when he is envying them the happiness he can never enjoy, he is considering how he may the most effectually destroy it.

When we got home, we talked the matter over. I did not express my own suspicions to my wife, as they could not fail to agitate her, but I endeavoured rather to make light of it, and to appear as if I hoped, should Charles Iffley feel any desire of revenge, that he would be unable to effect it. I felt regret, also, that I had not hurried after Iffley. Whatever were his feelings, I thought that I might perhaps have turned his heart to better thoughts by talking of bygone days and of our early friendship. “Well, it may not yet be too late,” I thought to myself; “I will seek him out and try to persuade him to discard those feelings of jealousy and envy which are now influencing him.” When, however, I mentioned my intentions to Uncle Kelson, he rather laughed at my notion.

“An idle, conceited young puppy. What business has he to interfere with you or yours?” he exclaimed. “Because a girl, of whom he is utterly unworthy, does not choose to have anything to say to him, is he to set himself up and to look daggers at any man she may happen to marry? Let him alone. Let him go his own gait, as your Aunt Bretta would say. He’ll find a rope long enough to hang himself, depend on it.”

My uncle thought he was giving good advice, but even at the time I felt that better is given elsewhere. “Therefore, if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head. Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.” I felt that if I could have met with Iffley, I might have heaped coals of fire on his head. I might have softened his heart, just as the contents of a pot are melted by piling up coals, not only around it, but on the very head or top of it. I did not do what I felt and knew was right, and the result of my neglect will be seen.

Aunt Bretta was more indignant than any of us with Iffley. “If he does come to the door, in my opinion, he ought to be turned away!” she exclaimed. “The idea of a person whom I knew as a little boy, glad to receive a slice of gingerbread, giving himself such airs! I have no notion of it.” This was very severe for Aunt Bretta, whose heart was kindness itself.

On making inquiries of the servant, she discovered that a man exactly answering his description had, while they were out, knocked at the door and asked all sorts of questions.

“She could not mind what exactly,” she said. “They were about Mr Wetherholm. Where he had come from! When he had got married? What he was doing? And all sorts of such like things.” After I had heard this account of the servant girl, I could not help feeling somewhat suspicious of Iffley’s object. The mere asking them was very natural, and had he come frankly forward to meet us, I should not have entertained any ill thoughts of him; but now, in spite of all my resolution, I could not help dreading that he contemplated doing me some mischief or other. Still I did my best to get rid of such thoughts of an old friend, for they were not pleasant.

When the evening came, I forgot all about the matter. Old Jerry Vincent looked in, and several other friends, among them two former shipmates of Uncle Kelson’s, and anecdotes and stories innumerable were told. We got on the subject of smuggling. In those days it was certainly not looked on in its proper light, and a smuggler, if he was bold and daring, was considered a very fine fellow. Most of our guests were Hampshire or Isle of Wight men, and had been personally acquainted with many of the smugglers in their day, and might, perhaps, not have refused to purchase any of the goods they had to offer.

“Some of you may have known Jim Dore?” began Jerry.

One or two nodded.

“I thought so,” said Jerry. “Well, then, when he began the work he was very young, and there wasn’t a bolder or more daring hand in the trade. We were boys together, and a braver fellow or better seaman never stepped. He was a Yarmouth man, born and bred, just inside the Needles there. There was a large family of them. He wasn’t always as prudent as he might be, and one day he and the cutter he was in was taken with three hundred tubs on board. Of course he was sent to serve his Majesty. When he found that there was no help for it, he vowed that he would do his duty like a man, and he kept his word.

“He was sent aboard a brig of war employed in looking after smugglers, and though before she had never taken one, now scarcely a month passed that through his means she did not make a prize.

“Once upon a time the brig attacked a large armed smuggler, the crew of which had vowed that they never would be taken alive. There was a desperate fight for more than three hours, and in the end the smugglers kept their word, for they went down with colours flying, under the guns of the brig which was just about to board them. On this occasion, as on every other, Dore behaved so bravely that the captain put him on the quarter-deck, and if he had chosen to follow it, there was the road open to him to become an admiral. But you know there are people who cannot give up habits, so to speak, born and bred with them, as one may say.

“Well, Dore’s time of servitude was up for the smuggling affair, and soon after that the brig put into Portsmouth harbour. The next day Dore got leave to go and see his friends, so he hired a wherry, and got ready for a start for Yarmouth. Just as he was shoving off, I saw him and asked him for a cast down there, as I had some friends in those days in the same place. Now, though he was an officer with a cocked hat on his head, and a sword by his side, I knew that he was in no way proud, at all events. He told me to jump into the boat, by all means. On our way down I asked him if he was going to be long away from his ship.

“‘Long away, do you say?’ he answered, in an indignant tone. ‘I’ll tell you what it is, Vincent, it will be long, I’m thinking, before I go back again. I’ve been made an officer of, it’s true, but I haven’t been treated as one or looked on as one, because I wasn’t born a gentleman, and slavery in a cocked hat I, for one, will not bear.’

“In that way he talked till we got pretty nearly down to Yarmouth. At last he worked himself up into a regular rage, for he was a passionate man, do you see.

“‘Give us a knife, some one of you,’ he sang out.

“I handed him mine. When he got it, he began cutting off the buttons from his coat. Then he unbuckled his sword, and took off his hat. He jumped up, and holding all the things together, as it were in a lump, he hove them away into the sea as far from him as he could, uttering at the same time a loud and deep curse. ‘There goes the last link of the chain that binds me to slavery!’ he exclaimed. ‘Now, my lads, I’m once more Jim Dore, the bold smuggler.’

“The men in the boat thought what he had done was very fine, and so did I in those days, and so we all cheered him over and over again. When he landed at Yarmouth, every one turned out to welcome him as if he had been an admiral just come home after a great victory; and certainly the people did make much of him. Those Yarmouth men are great smugglers, there’s no doubt about it. I don’t think, however, myself, as I did in those days. Dore was a brave man, and it’s a great pity he had not been taught better, and he might have been an ornament to the service he deserted.

“When his leave was up, and he did not return, an officer with a boat’s crew was sent to look for him. He got notice of their coming, and got stowed out of the way, for there were plenty of people to help him. He had to keep in hiding for a long time, and often, I dare say, he wished himself back aboard the brig. When the war was over he took to smuggling again, and he soon got command of a large cutter. At last he and some other Yarmouth men went away in her, and from that day to this have never been heard of. It is supposed that the cutter was run down or foundered in a tremendous gale of wind, which sprung up soon after she was last seen.”

One of our friends who came from Poole in Dorsetshire, told us a very good story, when Jerry Vincent and one or two others sang out in chorus, “Howe! howe! howe!”

I asked what they meant.

“That is what we always say to a Poole man,” answered Jerry. “Did you never hear tell of the Poole man and the owl?”

I told him that I never had, and asked him for the story.

“Well, you must know that once upon a time there was a homeward-bound Poole man just coming up Channel, and not far off the land, when, the night being somewhat dark, do ye see, an old owl flew by ‘Howe! howe! howe!’ cried the owl.

“The master, who had been dozing aft, thinking all the time, exactly as many another man does, that he was wide awake, just heard the sound as he roused up, and fancied that another skipper was hailing him.

“‘From Newfoundland!’ he sang out, rubbing his eyes, and dreaming that he saw the strange ship abeam.

“‘Howe! howe! howe!’ hooted the owl again.

“‘With fish,’ answered the Poole man.

“‘Howe! howe! howe!’ once more cried the old owl, as he was flying off.

“‘Over Poole bar with the next tide, please the pigs,’ sang out the skipper at the top of his voice, for fear those in the other craft wouldn’t otherwise hear him. Nothing would ever persuade him that he hadn’t been talking all the time with the skipper of some outward-bound craft.

“That’s all very well, and it is not a bad story, and may be true, or it may not; but you Hampshire men are not all of you so very clever,” answered Mr Bexley, our Poole friend, who had himself been skipper of a merchantman. “Have none of you ever heard speak of Botley assizes, eh?”

I asked him what he meant.

“Why,” he answered, “you know Botley isn’t very far from Southampton. Once upon a time a party of young chaps belonging to Botley were returning from a merry-making of some sort, and as it happened, all of them but one were more than three sheets in the wind. For some reason or other, nothing would make this one touch a drop of liquor. As they were walking along they began to jeer him, and at last they declared that he had been guilty of a capital offence, because he had let the glass pass by, and they agreed that they would try him. Well, they came to a place near a wood, where there were a number of trees cut down, and there they all sat round, and the accused was placed in the middle. The most drunk of the party was chosen as judge, and the others were the counsel, some to accuse and the others to defend him.

“The poor fellow tried to get away, but his friends would not let him. He, of course, had nothing to say for himself, except that he did not choose to drink, and the upshot of his trial was that he was condemned to be hung.

“Unfortunately one of them had a rope with him, and without more ado they ran up the culprit to the nearest tree. To be sure, they did intend to put the rope round his waist, but they were too drunk to know exactly what they were about, and by mistake slipped it, Jack Ketch fashion, round his neck. Having done this wise trick, they all ran away, shrieking with laughter at the cleverness of their joke.

“They were very much surprised to find, the next morning, that the poor fellow was missing. At last they went out to look for him, and found him hanging where they had left him, but as dead as a church door.

“So, gentlemen, you see that the people in those parts are very clever chaps, and if you take them at their own value, there are none to be found like them in all the world. I have another story for you to prove this.

“One day a poor Jew fell into the Itchen.

“‘Oh, shave me! shave me! vil no one shave me?’ he sang out; but of all the people standing round there wasn’t one who would touch him with his fingers, because they looked on him as a dirty old Jew.

“At last they thought that though he was a Jew it was a shame to let him drown, so half-a-dozen or more of them ran off to get a rake to haul him out. One couldn’t find a rake, and another couldn’t find a rake; so, long before they came back, the poor Jew was drowned. That is the reason why we say, when a chap is a long time doing a thing that he ought to have done in a hurry, ‘He’s gone for a rake to haul out the Jew.’”

“Ay, ay, Mr Bexley, but you know what the Poole man did when his pig got his head through the bars of the gate?” exclaimed Jerry Vincent, with a good-natured laugh. “Why, you see, mates, when he found that he couldn’t haul it out, to save trouble he cut off the beast’s head. Some people in our parts would have sawed through the bars, but we don’t pretend to be wise, you know.

“I don’t mind telling a story against ourselves. Did any of you ever hear why the Downton people are called ‘Moonrakers’? They themselves don’t mind hearing the story. Once upon a time, some Downton men had sunk some tubs in a big pond, and they were hard at work all night raking them up. While they were still engaged, who should come by but a party of custom-house people.

“‘What are you doing there, men?’ they asked. ‘Some mischief, no doubt.’

“‘Oh, no! please, kind gentlemen, we are only trying to rake the moon out of this pond,’ answered the Downton men, quite in a simple voice. You see that the moon was at the time shining brightly down into the pond.

“‘Oh! is that all?’ said the custom-house people, thinking that they were a few simpletons escaped out of a madhouse. On went the custom-house people. After a little time they came back. The smugglers had just got out their last tub. Some clouds meantime had come over the moon. ‘Well, my men, have you got the moon at last?’ said the custom-house officer.

“‘Oh, yes! there’s little doubt about it, for it’s no longer there. If we haven’t got it, perhaps you can tell us who has.’

“This made the custom-house people feel sure that they were right in their conjectures; so on they went, little dreaming of the prize they had lost.”

We all laughed heartily at Jerry Vincent’s and Mr Bexley’s stories.

“I’ll tell you a story, for the truth of which I can vouch,” said Uncle Kelson. “The circumstance only lately happened. So, strange as it may seem, there is no doubt about it. You all have heard speak of Sir Harry Burrard Neale, who commands just now the King’s yacht, the Royal Charlotte. The boatswain of her is a friend of mine, and last summer he got me a cast down to Weymouth, where I wanted to go to see the widow of an old shipmate I had promised to look after. We were just clear of the Needles. There was a light breeze and a smooth sea, when we made out a small boat standing towards us, seemingly as if she had come out of Poole harbour or Swanage.

“‘She seems to me to be a fishing-boat, and as if she wanted to speak us, Sir Harry,’ said the first lieutenant, who had been spying at her through his glass.

“‘So I see,’ answered the captain. ‘There seem to be two people in her making signals. It will not delay us much, so heave the ship to, and let us learn what they want.’

“This was just like Sir Harry. Many a captain would have stood on and taken no notice of a poor fisherman’s boat, even had there been a dozen people waving in her. In a little time the boat came alongside, with a man and a woman in her, and they were certainly the rummest old couple you ever saw in your life.

“A midshipman hailed them, and asked them what they wanted. As well as we could make out, for they spoke very broad Scotch, they said that they wanted their son.

“‘Let them come aboard,’ said Sir Harry kindly, ‘and we will hear what they have to say.’

“With no little difficulty, after a good deal of pulling and hauling, we got the old couple upon deck, and led them aft to Sir Harry.

“‘For whom are you inquiring, my good people?’ asked the captain.

“‘Our bairn, sir—our ain bairn,’ answered the old lady. ‘For many a weary week have we been looking for him, and never have our eyes rested on his bonnie face since the black day, near five long years ago, when he was carried away from us. Ah! it was a sair day, sirs.’

“‘What is your son’s name, my good people?’ asked Sir Harry.

“‘David, sir—Davie Campbell. He was so called after his grandfather, who died in ’45, with mony other brave men,’ answered the old dame.

“‘We have a man of that name on board, sir,’ remarked the first lieutenant to the captain. ‘He is in the watch below. It will be strange if he should prove to be the man these poor souls are searching for.’

“‘Let him be called on deck, and we will see if they acknowledge him as their son,’ said Sir Harry. ‘There must be many hundred David Campbells in the world, I suspect, so do not raise their hopes too high by letting them know that at all events we know the name on board.’

“‘David Campbell! David Campbell!’ was passed along the decks, and in a minute a fine active young fellow came tumbling up from below.

“A mother’s eye was not to be deceived. She knew him in an instant, and toddled off as fast as her legs would carry her, followed by her husband, to meet him. ‘He is, he is my ain bairn! There’s none like him!’ she cried; and not caring a fig for the officers and men standing around,—before even he knew who she was,—she had him clasped in her arms, and was covering his cheeks with kisses, while the old father had got hold of his hand and was tagging away at it just as a man in a hurry does at a bell-rope.

“Now comes the extraordinary part of the story. Campbell had been rather a wildish sort of a chap, and getting into some scrape, had gone on board a tender, at Leith I think it was, and entered the navy. He could not write, and was ashamed to get any one to write for him, so his old father and mother did not know where he was, or whether he was alive or dead.

“At last their hearts grew weary at not hearing tidings of him, and they resolved to set out together to look out for their lost sheep; for you see they were decent people and well to do in the world, so they had money to bear the expense, which was not slight. They had very little information to guide them. All they knew was, that their son had gone on board one of the King’s ships. A mother’s deep love and a father’s affection was the only compass by which they could steer their course. That did not fail them. They went from port to port, and visited every ship in harbour, and asked every seaman they met about their son, but nothing could they hear of him. At last, that very morning, a waggon had brought them to Poole, and seeing a ship in the offing, which was no other than the Royal Charlotte, they had got a boatman to take them out to us.

“That, now, is what I call a providential circumstance; indeed, from all I have seen and learned since I came into the world, I am convinced that there is nothing happens in it by chance. The God of heaven orders all for the best in kindness to us. Sometimes, it is true, things do not occur exactly as we could wish, but that does not alter the rule; for if we could but see the end, we should discover that the very thing of which we most complain was in reality most for our good. Remember that, nephew, whenever you get into danger or difficulty; be sure that you do your duty, and all will come right at last. But I have not told you the end of my story.

“The Poole boatman was sent on shore, and the traps of the old couple were handed up on board. Like canny Scotch people, they had not let their property remain out of their sight, but had brought it with them. It was delightful to see their pleasure when Sir Harry invited them to go on to Weymouth, and to live on board as long as the ship remained there; and he gave orders to have a screen put up for their accommodation. That, too, was just like him. There is not another man in the service more considerate or kind to all below him. All, too, who know him love him; and his Majesty, I believe, trusts him more, and loves him more, than he does all his courtiers put together.

“Never have I seen a pair of old folks look more happy, as their son went about showing them round the ship, and when all the officers and crew spoke kindly to them as they passed.

“The king, too, when he came on board and heard the story, was very much interested, and sent for them to have a talk with them. They did not know who he was, but when they came out of the cabin they said that he was one of the kindest old gentlemen they had ever seen; that he had had a long crack with them all about bonnie Scotland and Scotch people; and that he had asked them a heap of questions about their adventures.

“You should have seen their look of surprise when they heard that it was his gracious Majesty himself. (Note. Admiral Sir Harry Burrard Neale was a great-uncle of the author, and the account is given as it was narrated to him many years ago.) They wanted to go back to fall down on their knees, and to ask his pardon for talking so freely with him, and it was not till we assured them that the king talked just in the same way with any of the crew, that we could quiet them and make them believe that all was right.

“At last, having assured themselves that their son was well and happy, they returned with contented hearts to Scotland, and many has been the long yarn they have spun, I doubt not, about King George and all the wonders they have seen on their travels.”

Every one was very much interested in my uncle’s story. A young man who was present, a friend of mine, belonging to a revenue cutter, observed, “We were talking of smugglers just now. There is no end to the dodges they are up to.

“Not long ago, soon after I joined the Lively, it had come on to blow pretty fresh, and we had had a dirty night of it, when just as morning broke we made out a cutter standing in for the land to the eastward of Weymouth, and about two miles from us. The wind was from the north-west, and it had kicked up a nasty sea, running pretty high, as it well knows how to do in that part of the Channel.

“Our old mate, Mr Futlock, had the morning watch. It was never his brightest time, for though he did not actually get tipsy, the reaction following the four or five pretty stiff glasses of grog which he drank at night, generally at this time took place. I was in his watch.

“‘Youngster,’ said he to me, ‘hand me the glass, and let us see if we can make out what that fellow is.’

“I brought him the glass, which was kept hung up in beckets within the companion-hatch. I had got my sea-legs aboard pretty well, but I confess that I felt very queer that morning in certain regions, ranging from the top of my head to the soles of my feet, and I doubt not looked very yellow in the cheeks, with every instant an irresistible drawing down of the mouth, and that worst of signs, a most unyoungsterlike disinclination to eat.

“Mr Futlock took the glass, and with his lack-lustre eye had a long look at the cutter, which was bobbing away into the seas, while she kept her course on a wind as if in no manner of a hurry.

“‘She is honest, I believe,’ he observed, with a wise nod. ‘Probably a Poole or Exmouth trader; but we must overhaul her notwithstanding. Shake a reef out of the mainsail, my lads.’

“This was quickly done, and the sail hoisted up. ‘Now, keep her away a couple of points more, and we shall about fetch her.’

“Our mate’s orders being executed, away we went tearing through the foaming, hissing water, now looking, in the morning’s pale light, of a dark, melancholy hue. The stranger continued on as steady as before.

“‘Oh, there’s no use in the world giving ourselves the trouble of boarding her,’ muttered Mr Futlock; and he was just going to order the cutter to be kept on a wind, when we saw the stranger haul up his foresail, and let fly his jib sheets, evidently intending to wait our coming.

“‘What cutter is that?’ shouted old Futlock.

“‘The Polly of London, bound for Weymouth,’ answered a man, who stood at the taffrail, through a speaking-trumpet. ‘We hove-to, sir, that we might tell you we have just run over a large number of tubs away there to the southward.’

“‘Thank you, thank you,’ shouted Mr Futlock in return, as we ran by and were soon out of speaking distance. ‘I knew that fellow was honest,’ he observed to me, rubbing his hands at the thought of making some prize-money. ‘Come, rouse aft the main-sheet. We must haul up a little again. Can any one see the tubs?’

“There were plenty of busy eyes looking out for the prize, and it was not long before we discovered them on the weather bow. By keeping our luff we were quickly up to them.

“The commander was by this time called, and now came a difficulty. With the heavy sea there was running, it was a work not free from danger to lower a boat. We first shortened sail; the helm was put down, and the cutter hove-to, and then, after several attempts by waiting for a lull, we got the boat with a crew safe in water.

“Mr Futlock jumped into the boat, and pulled towards the tubs which were first seen, we meantime keeping a bright look-out for any more which might be floating near.

“Not being accustomed to this sort of work, I felt not a little alarmed for the safety of my shipmates, as I saw the boat tumbling about among the white-crested waves.

“Mr Futlock soon got hold of ten tubs, lashed together, and hauled them into the boat. A little further on he made a prize of ten more. This was no bad beginning. He was returning with them, having in vain searched for others, when we made out another collection just ahead of the cutter. We soon had them all aboard, though the boat was nearly swamped alongside. We hoisted her in at last, and seeing no more tubs, let draw the foresail, and again stood on. When at last we looked about for our communicative friend, he was not visible; but some of the men said they thought they had seen him standing in for the land.

“We cruised about all the morning in the neighbourhood, but not a tub more could we discover. Three days after that we dropped our anchor in Weymouth roads. The commander went on shore to communicate with the officer of the coast-guard on the station.

“‘We were looking out for a cutter with a large cargo the other day, but somehow or other we managed to miss her, and she managed to land every tub. We understand that there has not been such a run for years,’ observed the coast-guard officer.

“Something made our commander fancy that she might have been the very craft we spoke, and which had been so ready with information.

“‘A cutter of about fifty tons, with her bulwarks painted yellow inside?’ he asked.

“‘The very same,’ answered the lieutenant. ‘That cunning rascal, Dick Johnstone, was on board of her himself. Hearing that we were on the look-out for his craft, the Seagull, he shifted his cargo into her.’

“‘Then we were cleverly done!’ exclaimed our commander, stamping his foot with vexation. ‘The very fellow old Futlock thought looked so honest that he would not take the trouble to board him. It is the very last time in my life that I will trust to outside appearances.’

“All hands of us aboard the cutter felt very foolish when we found that we had lost so good a chance of taking one of the richest prizes we were ever likely to fall in with. However, revenue officers must have all their seven senses wide awake to compass the artful dodges of determined smugglers. After that, we took very good care to be smart about boarding every vessel we fell in with.”

After the conclusion of this yarn we had several other accounts of smugglers and their daring deeds. Some even, it was asserted, had ventured to defend themselves against king’s ships, and had fought severe actions, one or two having gone down with their colours flying rather than surrender. On one point all were agreed, that no smugglers had ever become permanently wealthy men. As my uncle observed, they take a great deal of trouble and undergo great risk to obtain a very uncertain advantage.

All the rest of the guests were gone; old Jerry remained behind. We told him what had occurred in the morning, and I asked him if he could find out anything about Charley Iffley; what was his rank, and to what ship he belonged. I begged him, if he could find him, to take a message to him from me, and to assure him that far from bearing him any ill-will, I would gladly welcome him as an old friend.


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