« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the tide swept like the current of a swift river, the wavy but shallow water at either side appearing much calmer in comparison. And now the water was up to his horse's knees, and began rapidly rising till it reached the saddle girths.
“No matter," muttered Neville to himself, as with set teeth and rigid face he prepared to commit himself and his brave horse to the mercy of the strong midcurrent- no matter. There is certain death behind, but there is still a chance before."
The next moment the waters rose around him as if he had fallen into a deep gulf, and he knew by the swaying motions of his horse that the noble beast had at last lost foothold underneath, and was swimming At last the dragoons, on arriving at the shore, after extending themselves into a long line in as advanced a position as they dared, amid the rising water, unslung their carbines, and at the word of their commander sent a volley after the struggling fugitive.
“ Ha, ha!” shouted Neville, in a wild kind of frenzy, as the bullets whistled and hissed and splashed round him,
a chance yet! Yes, poor fellow," and he bent forward and patted his horse upon the shoulder, “you will save me yet! On! on!”
Darker and thicker floated the shadows down upon the wild and terrible scene, and the water began now to rise so high that the captain of the troop was forced to order his men to retire some distance.
“ It is useless to hit a dying man,” he muttered to himself. “ By my soul, but he is a brave fellow. And yet he has now no chance of escape even without our firing a shot.”
Another detachment had now arrived at the shore, and was riding forward through the water to deliver their fire. As they formed into a line and looked forward over the gloomy inlet, Neville and his horse appeared like a black speck upon the steel-grey water. They thought he was still swimming, but by an amount of coolness, judgment, and strength almost superhuman, he had contrived to get across the deep channel, and was once more struggling onward with a solid footing for his horse underneath. Again the wide waste of billows was lit by the red flashes of the carbines, and Neville, as with renewed hope, he guided his steed in the direction of the rock he had first taken as a landmark, was thrown suddenly into the water; his horse was shot, but the dying animal employed his remaining strength in trying to gain the firm shore, which his instinct taught him to expect in front. The wind was blowing furiously over the water, and the night had set in, so that the dragoons, as they looked forward in the indistinct light, could barely see the body of the horse, after the poor animal had snorted out its last breath, floating helplessly with the rolling waves. Their work was done, and as they wheeled round and splashed back to the shore, a loud shout told their companions who were awaiting them that they had taken full vengeance for the death of their colonel.
But Bernard Neville was living for all that. With a desperate grasp he still clutched the bridle of his dead
horse, and thus kept himself above the water that had at last risen more than a fathom upon the flat shallow. Louder and more furious grew the wind, piping with deafening clamour over the turbulent expanse, but he still held on, looking occasionally with wistful eyes opon the black waste that stretched to the left as he was swept up the roaring inlet, into which, somewhat less than a furlong in front of him, a low tongue of the moorland extended itself right in the course in which he was driven.
“You will save me yet,” he muttered hoarsely, as he rose from a boiling wave that had submerged him for a moment. “My curse upon the hand that fired that shot: but no matter, you will save me yet!” and he grasped the loose bridle with a firmer and bolder hand. The roar of the waves rushing over the flat shore beyond, became momently louder, but their sound was not unpleasant to his ears, for he knew they would soon cast him upon firm land. At last one immense billow that seemed to spread across the whole inlet, arose behind him, and came thundering on with increased speed as it approached. Clutching the bridle with both hands, he held his breath, awaiting its coming. At length, with a deafening roar it overtook him, and when it retired again with a shock against the next that followed, he found himself stretched by the dripping body of his horse upon firm land. Another wave was coming on, and to avoid it as well as the weak state he was in would allow, he crawled forward, and stood tottering and scarcely knowing what he did, gazing back upon the turbulent waste of waters froin which he bad so wonderfully escaped.
He now turned, chill and weary, and leaving the foam-covered strand, walked on till he reached the precipitous coast, along which he pursued his way with stern and uriflinching resolution, although the rain was still pouring down in blinding torrents, and the comming wind and sea roaring with a deafening clangour that might well appal even a stouter heart than his. length beside-a naked crag that crowned the ridge of a steep promontory, he rested for a while, intending not to pursue his way further till the rain had cease! and the storm had somewhat abated its fury. An hour after, the storm ceased, and the moon shone out between the driving clouds.
Beneath him, at the side of the promontory, a small rocky haven up which the waves still careered madly, stretched inward, and here a sight met Neville's eyes that made his heart bound with uncertain hopes. It was a large boat like one of those belonging to a man. of-war, moored at the sheltry side of a projecting rock at the upper extremity of the little haver.
Surely,” said he to himself, “that boat must belong to some ship which I know cannot be far away."
He now swept the horizon sharply with his eye, and at last discovered a solitary mast-head dipping under the far-off waves, and rising over them alternately. he turned his gaze inland once more, his eyes rested on a huge black mass, which at first he took to be a detached rock, but which, on closer inspection, he di.
covered was the ruin of a large building.
warlike, but Neville marked one scarred face amongst situated upon a barren knoll, scarcely half a furlong them, which by its expression, indicated a character inside the rock beneath which the boat was moored. of unusual energy and ferocity. It belonged to a midNothing could be wilder, more forbidding, or more dle-aged man, of low stature, but herculean bulk, who desolate than the appearance of this ancient structure, as sat at the head of the board near the fire, and who it loomed up from its bare and solitary knoll in the ghastly seemed, by the authoritative manner in which he delimoonlight. Fit appendage to such an object ; a vered himself, when he spoke, to be the commander of mighty tree siood at its front on the very verge of the the motley gang of desperadoes. From one side of his slope, throwing its gnarled and sapless branches abroad belt hung a large, heavy cutlass and a dagger, the other over what was once the courtyard, without a single leaf side being ornamented with two long-barrelled pistols, or green spray to shelter them from the biting winds, which showed by their brightness the nice and conand looking as if it had been blasted and stricken dead tinual care bestowed upon them by their owner. A3 by some sudden lightoing stroke. In fact, the whole this burly personage was now in the act of raising a scene appeared as though a curse had fallen upon it in cup of hollands to his lips, his eyes, after a secming obsome by-gone age, and that it had remained ever since servation of the vaulted roof above, at last wandere I deserted by bird and beast and man.
towards the door, and met those of Bernard Neville, But Neville knew that by man at least it was still who was at the moment regarding him intently. Neville, often tenanted, for he remembered strange stories told the instant he caught the look of the other, steppel in connection with it, of smugglers and pirates who boldly into the apartment. A yell of surprise and had made its vaults the hiding-places for their ill-gotten anger greeted his entrance, as the eyes of the whole gang treasures.
now marked his uniform. All started to their feet, “ Aod,” muttered he to himself, as he stood up, and thinking that a detachment of the intruder's comrades began descending the side of the promontory, "there were about to follow, and three of them who sat farmust be some one there to-night. No matter who or thest from the fire immediately rushed over, and began what they may be, I must at all events seek their com- barricading the ancient and ponderous door. At the pany, and take shelter with them at least till morning.” same time a number of pistols were presented at
After getting round the little haven, he at last stood Neville's person, under which, however, he stood unnpon the edge of the rock looking down upon the boat. flinchingly, gazing back calınly at the crew, as they reIt was a large and strong one, with six oars at each garded him over the iron tubes with knit brows an! side. On examining it, he became more tirmly con- flashing eyes. vinced than ever, that it belonged to some large ship, “Stop!” exclaimed Neville, “ You do not mean to most likely that whose mast he had seen dipping in the shoot me for claiming your hospitality!" offing.
He now turned up towards the ruined castle, “Where are your comrades ?” thundered the burly and as he did so, loosened his sword in its scabbard, leader, with his pistol still pointed at Neville's heal. for he guessed rightly that he was about to come in “I have no comrades," answered the latter. “I'ın contact with men if possible more desperate than him- alone, and a desperate man like yourselves. Will you self.
give me shelter for the night?" Neville still stood irresolute, but at last intruded his The pistols were now lowered. head beyond the edge of the door, and looked in. At “Look at me,” resumed Neville. “ I am after doing the upper end of a huge-vaulted chamber, before a a deed whose guerdon is certain death—I am an outblazing fire of wood, which burned beneath an arched law. Think you, if I came to attack you in this place, fire-place, sat about a dozen men around a rude board that I would thus enter the room alone and unarmed ? which seemed formed from the planks of wrecked ships, You see I have nothing but my sword—a poor defence and which was supported on four large blocks of storie against your ready pistols.” that served the purpose of legs. These men seemed of “ Aye! aye !” said one of them.
66 That may be different nations. One was clad in the dress and wore all very good, but, comrades, if you take Jack Bolton's the broad sombrero of a Spaniard ; another squat and judgment on the matter, you will regard this man as a burly figure was habited in the ample trousers and hose and short wide jacket of a Dutchman ; another swarthy “ Vera goot !" put in the Dutchman. “ Himmel! fellow sat luxuriously back with ahug e bowl of Scheidam but when old Mynheer van Schulkenwold commanded in bis hand, and dressed in the picturesque habiliments us on the Spanish Main, the same thing happened. of a Portuguese ; a fourth, by his dress appeared to be Listen, and I vill tell you the story. Der teufel, but I an Englishman, and so on to the end, not a man of the vill !”— whole crew appearing to belong to the same nation "Shut that tough jaw of yours !" interrupted the with one of his fellows. Swords, guos, pistols, commander from the head of the board, at the same and boarding pikes lay in wild confusion around them moment raising his pistol again, the whole fierce crew on the black oaken floor, or rested against the equally following his example.
“ This is no time for yarns, black walls, reflecting the gleams of the red fire, as it Dirk Slagendyke, when a company of soldiers may for blazed and crackled beneath iis capacions chimney-arch. all we know, be surrounding the old castle outside.
The countenances of these men were mostly fierce and Give a better account of yourself, sir,” continued he,
turning to Neville, “or, by the blood of my body, you will have a dozen bullets through your head in another instant!"
“ I can give none better,” answered Neville. "Send one of your men down to the porch, and if he find a single soldier following me, then use your weapons as you threaten. I tell you that I come merely to claim shelter from you for the night, and your protection, perchance, in the morning, for I have now more enemics than yourselves, if you are what I take you to be !"
This seemed a fair proposition to the leader.
“ Dirk Slagendyke,” said he, turning his fierce eye on the Dutchman, away with you and and Jack Bolton down to the porch, and out upon the slope. Look sharply around you, and if you see a single landshark, then you may send our untimely visitor to Davy's locker as soon as you wish !”
After about five minutes, the pair returned with a favourable report for Neville.
“Now," said the commander, throwing himself once more upon his seat, and pointing to a rude bench near the fire, “ plant yourself upon that Mr. Stranger. Tel us why you have come to these moorings, and if you want it, you may have no reason to complain of the aid that a roving buccaneer and his men can give you."
Neville, without more ado, sat himself upon the bench, and the heat of the fire, aided by a rousing stoup of fiery hollands tendered to him by the commander, soon succeeded in restoring the bodily warmth he was so much in need of. He then explained, as far as he thought prudent, the reason of his untimely visit, and ended by requesting his entertainer to give him a passage across the sea to some foreign shore.
66 That we will, my lad," said the commander, his sympathy excited by the knowledge of the daring deed Neville was after doing. “But the land is no place for a gallant youth like you. I warrant me, once you set your foot on the deck of the Flying Hawk, by which I mean our ship, whose mast you may have seen in the offing as you came along, that you will be tempted to become a rover of the Main, like ourselves. However, let that stand by. We have enough to attend to ere we leave this, without recruiting for the Flying Hawk.”
“What brought you to these shores?” asked Neville, after refreshing himself with another cup of hollands.
The brows of his auditors contracted darkly at this question, and some of them regarded Neville once more with looks of renewed suspicion.
“If you consent on the spot to become one of ourselves- in other words, a stout buccaneer, I may answer your qnestion," said the commander. wise, I may not, and will not inform you.”
Neville paused, his lowering brows becoming darker as the moments wore on without his giving a reply. It was a terrible life to run. He knew, however, that he had nothing better to hope for now, and thus made up his mind with little further delay.
" Yes !” he said, vainly endeavouring to repress a sigh over his fate, “my career seems run on shore at
last. Take me as you will on board the Flying Hawk, and whenever you have the doing of a bold deed, place me in front, and I think you will find me doing the part of a man with the best of you ; henceforwani such a life seems to be my destiny !”
A murmur of approval from his auditors echoel round the vaulted apartment.
“Well," resumed the commander, “in that case I will tell what brought us here. Fifteen year ago, the commander of the Flying Hawk was Captain Bernardo, the boldest and bravest buccaneer leader that ever sailed the seas"—
“Von Schulkenwold," interrupted the Dutchman,” " Donnerwetter! but he was as goot a man, vich [ vill maintain against de best foremost man on board, vit sword, pistol or dagger. Himmel, but I vill!" anit his buge clenched fist went down upon the rude board with a resounding thump.
“Silence!" said the commander with a grim smile “ Von Schulkenwold was never as good a man as Captain Bernardo."
Bernard Neville started, as the thought struck hin, that one day or other, he might become a buccaneer captain of the same name.
“Never half as good,” resumed the commander,
Well, sir, about that time our Captain died, and I was elected by our brave crew to fill his place. Before is death he bade me sail to Barbadoes and marry his daughter, who lived there in a certain village by the coast with her mother, a Creole ; and, he also told me, that I would find in their possession a little iron coffer, wbich I was not to open till I visited this old castle on the Irish shore, in which he and his crew, after being halt wrecked by a storm, lived for nearly a month, ani to which he brought those strange figures yon must have seen on the stairs, from beyond the seas. I obeyel his dying command, and found everything as he told
to sailing over to Ireland at that time, it was out of the question. Busines was then toy good on the Spanish Main. So, year by year I neglected it, during which, many a brave man's blood has dyed the planks of the Flying Hawk. At last I saileil over as you see, and found the castle according to the points and bearings he had given for its discovery. We opened the coffer in this hall to-night, and found therein a bit of parchment, but may the fiend seize me, if ove of us could read a word of the outlandish gibberish that was written on it. And so you see we have had our cruise for nothing; but no matter, we will make it a dear one to the fat merchantmen on our return !”
“ Perhaps,” said Jack Bolton, “our new comrade can read it.”
“ True," said the commander. Bring over the coffer."
The little iron box was now brought and placed in Bernard Neville's hands. He opened it and took out the parchment.
“ Why,” said he, after casting his eyes curiously over it, “this is Latin !"
if we are to believe what is written on the parchment by my unfortunate uncle.”
The eyes of the wild crew sparkled at this bit of wel
“ Latin !” exclaimed the commander. “ Well, that settles my opinion, at all events.
When I looked over it, I said it was written in the New Zealand lingo, or something of the kind. Pierre Aubanelle over there, said it was old French, but then Don Pedro," and he nodded to a tall, grave-looking man at the other side of the table—“Pedro claimed it for Spanish, and between them both they went near settling the question with their hangerz, till we pacified them before you came in. Can you read it ?”
My God! what is this?” exclaimed their new comrade, heedless of the question, and at the same time starting up and laying the parchment on the table. “ Did none of you see this ?” and he pointed his finger to the name · Bernard Neville,' written in a bold hand at the end of the document. “This is also my name.”
“It is strange;" said the commander, “but as we couldn't make out the first few lines, we did not mind the end.”
“ Was Captain Bernardo a Spaniard ?" asked Neville, a strange suspicion crossing his mind.
“I have reason to think he was not,” answered the commander, “although he spoke the Spanish language fuently, and adopted the dress of that pation. He had been in his early days in the Spanish navy, but was outlawed by that government in consequence of a mutiny in which he was one of the ringleaders !”
" That man must have been my uncle !" said Neville. “ Everything happened to him as you say, but then bis friends thought that he was shot after the mutiny, which took place, if I recollect rightly, on the coast of San Domingo !”
“ It is true!” said the commander. lads, that we are about to have some of the blood of our old captain on the decks of the Flying Hawk once more, let us welcome the brave heart that brings it!' and with that he raised a hoarse shout of welcome, which was responded to by the whole wild gang, till the vaulted chambers of the old ruin rang again and again with the wild clamor.
“ But now for the reading of the parchment,” said the commander, after he and his companions hıd shaken hands with Neville all round. Can
do it?" “I think I can," answered Neville, as he sat down and began to peruse it carefully.
The gang watched him eagerly as he went through it, and their impatience and curiosity were not a little heightened on observing Neville start several times with an exclamation of astonishment as he read on.
" What is it?” said the pirate eagerly, as he saw that Neville had come to the end.
“ It is a wonderful thing," answered the latter. “ It is an account of the first booty taken by the crew of the Flying Hawk at the sacking of Alpuxarra, a Spanish settlement on the coast of Brazil !”
" Aye, aye!” said the commander, “I was there, and a bloody day it was. But let that stand by. Where is the booty? I thought it was long ago at the bottom of the sea ---the iron box that held it and all.”
“ It is here in this cas: le !” said Neville, “at least
66 And now,
“ Believe his written word !” almost roared the fierce commander. “Why, man, if all the world gathered together and took their oaths to the contrary, I'd believe him in preference. Young man, whatever your uncle might have been, he was never known to break his word, no matter for what he pledged it. What else does he
?” “ He says,” answered Neville, “that when you have found the booty, you must bring a few casks of powder from the ship and blow up the castle. He says also that the booty must be fairly divided amongst the crew of the Flying Hawk according to each man's degree.”
“Good !” said the commander. 66 Now read the directions he gives for finding it."
Neville read the passage in English :
“When you stand at the stair foot, and look upon the unholy figure that the Spanish sculptor carved during his madness, mark the spot in the wa'l above at which the demon's spear points. In that spot you will find the booty of Alpuxarra."
“ Throw some fresh brands upon the fire," said the commander. " We must make them serve as torches to light the spot our old captain speaks of."
It was done, and in a few moments the whole throng were standing under the massive porch beneath, facing the staircase.
a wild scene. The burning brands held aloft, casting their red and fitful light upon the rude walls around, and upon the stern faces of the
of desperadoes, who now peered upward with eager scrutiny to the point indicated by the huge spear, while at the same time the terrible colossal figure seemed to gaze down upon them in return, with a cold stony smile of demoniac satisfaction at their greed.
“ This will never do,” said their commander. “There is the spot near the landing above, but we cannot pick the wall till we get some implements from the ship. Come, Jack Bolton, off with you with nine men to the Flying Hawk, aud bring back the necessary things, together with a mining fuse and two barrels of powder. You should be here at least by sunrise."
Jack dashed his brand on the floor, and then, calling off nine of his comrades, led the way down to the boat, which was soon dancing over the still rough water. The remainder, with Neville, returned to the chamber above, and waited by the fire till morning, at which time Jack Bolton and his comrades returned with the several things ordered by his commander. They picked the wall at the spot which was so remarkably and strangely pointed out, and there found a huge iron coffer, in which, on breaking it open, they found what they sought, the booty taken at the cruel sack of Alpuxarra. It consisted of a huge heap of Spanish coin in gold and silver, with several valuable stones and ornaments, all of which, before the sun of that day set, was divided according to the dying instructions of their old commander, on board the Flying Hawk. They placed the barrels of powder
in one of the vaults of the old castle, and attached to them a mine fuse, which they carried down the slope to the shore. On gaining their boat they applied a match to the fuse, and in a few moments the grim and ancient structure was blown in fragments into the air with a roar that was heard for many a mile along the barren coast and desolate moorlands. The inhabitants of a far-off fishing village oame over during the day to see the cause of the explosion, and their horror may be well conceived when they saw the black figure still standing uninjured amid the ruins. They dragyed it from its foundation with a strong rope, and then cast it into the sea, where it was lost for ever.
Bernard Neville's career was a short one. He crossed the seas, but about a twelvemonth afterwards fell on board the Flying Hawk, in an action fought somewhere on the Spanish Main.
LAST CHRISTMAS EVE.
BY FRANCES CROSBY,
ready now? Henry, my dear, be so good as to make a blaze for us; that is a fine fellow ! I like, of all things, to see the bright fire light flickering an l dancing, and playing at hide and seek in the bright eyes, and glistening hair, and pleasant faces turned towards me.
And now for our story. I spent last Christmas in England, at the hou e of Irish friends settled there. Every year since her marriage, my dear, warm-hearted friend, Mrs. Blackmore, had asked me to Christmas with her. So at last, I packed up my best bib and tucker, and set off for London, where Mr. Blackmore met me, and carried me down to his house at Richmond. Here I arrived safe and sound, but very blue in the face, and red about the nose, just two days before Christmas.
“ There's Letty louking out for us,” said Mr. Blackmore, as we drove up to the house. Sure enough, there was his wife's rosy face at one of the windows, with her pretty little nose Rattened comically against the frosty pane. But that was only just while you might count five; and then the rosy face vanished, to reappear next moment at the hall-door, whence its owner male a sudden sally into the carriage, to welcome me in her usual style. I wondered my frosty nose and frozen face didn't moderate her ardour. But not at all; she rather seemed to like them than others ise.
“Welcome to England, you dear, dear, dear oll friend !” And between every “ dear,” she gave me a kiss, and after “friend," she went at it wholesale.
“ Come, cricket !" said her husband, who hau got out on the other side of the carriage, and was looking on, highly amused by his wife's mode of welcome, “ hadn't you better take Miss Crosby in, and make her comfort. able there? She is almost frozen, after her journey.”
" With twenty half-laughing self-accusations, the inpulsive hostess pulled me out of the carriage, up the hall-door-steps, across the hall, up the stairs, along a corridor; and deposited me, gasping and laughing, by the blazing fire in my own dressing-room.
dressing-room. Next she pulled off my frosty wrappings, saw me supplied with some delicious hot soup; and finally, sat down opposite for a chat.”
“ I thought we should never get you over !” said she, setting her head sideways, and viewing me with affec. tionate satisfaction. , “ Hugh said that nobody but myself would dream of anything so unreasonable as to ask you to come so far to spend Christmas. But you see we have you after all, and I am so glad you came !"
“So am I, Letty, if it were only to see you so well and happy, and light-hearted. My dear, I have not wished you a merry Christmas yet, have I ?”
“Nor I you ; I declare I was so glad to see you, that I forgot it. A merry Christmas, dear old lady, an i many of them; and a merry Christmas you shall speni, please God, and one after your own heart. your talents must not lie dormant, you must belp me in something."
" What may the something be, Letty?"
“ A something quite in your line, most skilful matehmaker! Yes, we want to make up a maich,”
A merry Christmas I wish you all !
For dear Father Christmas is coming fast, and will be in the midst of us before we know what we are about. And may be fill the place of honour by our firesides for years and years to come!
Yes, Christmas is coming fast. I will venture to affirm that not one boy or girl away at school would fail to tell us the exact number of days to intervene between this and the Christmas Holidays—hurrah! hurrah! hurrah! What makes the girls so wonderfully industrious and stay-at-home these times I wonder? What do all these whispers betoken? And when papa or the boys come into the room pectedly, why is there such a fussing, and rustling, and bustling, and slapping of work-box lids, and flushing of cheeks ? Eh, girls ? Well, we shall see on Christmas morning, not till then. Bless your hearts, my dears, there is no fear that I shall betray you! What makes papa so fond of spying into shop-windows as he goes along, stopping now and again as his eye falls on some pretty or usefal object, smiling pleasantly to himself the while ? Hah! that, too, we shall know on Christmas morning, papa. But above all, wbat do mamma and Betiy discuss during those lengthened and frequent consulta ions, eh, mamma? O dear me! It's really too bad to betray. mamma, and nobody else ; but for the life of me I can't help saying, in
rict confidence, you know !--that the last time I came on Mamma and Betty in council, I heard something very like " the spiced round," and "he mince-meat, ma'am ;" from Betiy's lips. It certaiı ly sounded remarkably like it !
Now, I want to make myself welcome amongst you, so I think I shall tell you a story-a true story, a real Christmas story- and one that happened no farther back than last Christmas. That makes it more interesting, doesn't it? Even chubby little Polly there can remember last Christmas. Well, come now, every one of you, and draw round the fire while you listen. U love to feel cosy, and to see others sc. Are you all
Yes, yes ;