« FöregåendeFortsätt »
the images of the Deity that it is a profana- time. “My good men, take the advice of tion to handspike. Not ouly will they lick your true friend. Go to your different duties the foot of the murderer still wet with his in silence, and praying inwardly for the devictim's blood, but they would sell their own ceased, commune with your own hearts. Mr. souls for the privilege of getting drunk. Let Tomkins can no longer have any control in the brutes have their way. There is a curse this vessel. The moment that we arrive in upon the vessel-it will be all one a week harbor he shall be handed over to the civil hence. She is doomed to destruction, and power, and be made to answer for the deed every living creature in her."
that you have partly witnessed. Go, be seri. " Thank you for me,” said the boatswain ; ous—know me as your friend, and be obedi“but all this lingo is neither here nor there. ent to Mr. Gavel.” One man's word is as good as another's. So They retired humbled, but not contumahere goes to cut the lashings, and, my lads, cious. As the negro, who was the last about we'll have a night of it.”
to retire, passed me he knelt down, and tak“Hurrah!” shouted the men, and the boat- ing my hand placed it respectfully to his swain advanced to release the wretched homi- forehead and his lips, and then rose to depart; cide, when an unsuspected impediment pre- but, before he had gained the cabin door, Gasented itself.
vel called him. I have mentioned before, a great and strong “ Jugurtha, I want you. Help me to renegro, that was very active in cutting away move this dead body and this living lump of the foremast in our late dangerous situation. beastiality, into the after cabin. They shall Of this man I had taken less notice than of keep each other company. And I'll take the others. I never remembered to have care that the watcher of the dead shall remain spoken to him. Of course I was a little sur- sober. Away with him." prised to see him start out from the group of The whining supplications of the debased his shipmates, and, bestriding the prostrate drunkard were most disgusting; but, in the man, seize the other undischarged pistol, and sinewy arms of Jugurtha, he was soon conthreaten by action, though not by words, to veyed to his place of imprisonment, and aftershoot the first man that might attempt to un- wards, with much more reverence, the body bind him. The crew gave back, and the of the old man was placed beside him. mate, at this turn of affairs, indulged himself As the moans and the pitiable howlings of with a low, deriding laugh, that seemed hor- Tomkins were unintermitting and most dolribly out of character in this scene of hor- orous, I repaired to the deck, and in the afterrors.
noon, the weather being still fine, with bafFor myself, I was still occupied in support. fling winds, I there dined upon the reduced ing the dying steward, holding to his wound- allowance, and on the same sordid fare as the ed breast my handkerchief saturated with inen. James Gavel ate nothing. He seemed blood. The would-be liberators and the absorbed, absent, and at times transported, boatswain, to use the language of the latter, ever and anon muttering to himself various were taken aback. The black had now his texts from Scripture, and pious ejaculations, right hand upon the throat of his master, his “ Lord have mercy upon his soul,” being the left still holding the pistol, looking first at me, most frequently repeated. and then at Gavel, watching for the slightest About five in the afternoon he went below, indication from us to end this dilemma, by and I, going a short time afterwards into the strangling him with his neckerchief. The fore-cabin, principally to listen if Tomkins mate gave the ready and self-constituted exe- was still moaning, found Gavel on his knees, cutioner a grim smile of approbation; but I praying so devoutly, with the Bible open bemotioned to him energetically not to harm fore him, that he did not perceive iny enthe prisoner. He obeyed me immediately, trance. I looked over his shoulder, and making a harsh guttural sound that was found the holy book open at that part that frightfully startling.
narrates the sacrifice of Jonah. I shuddered. At length, the boatswain said to Tomkins, A fear crept over me, that I too well under“I and the ship's company are very sorry to stood the workings of his distracted and susee you hove down there, captain, and be perstitious imagination. I laid my hand on layed to the deck. All we can do just now his shoulder, he started, trembled, and looked is to remember what's going on when this up. comes before the coroner. Are you, captain, “ This will never do, Gavel,” I said, mildly. innocent of the poor old man's death ?" “ Your thoughts are unholy, unchristian “I am,”
damnable. In that same book that lies be“ Will you swear to it?"
fore you, there is an express command, Thou “I will."
shali do no murder.'” “So help you God ?"
“ A tooth for a tooth, an eye for an eye, and “ So help me God.”
a life for a life. But fear not, I will do no Then there was a silence, when, to the as-murder. And, Ardent Troughton, if I did, tonishment and dismay of all, the dying you at least should be grateful for it. This steward half rose from my arms, and said murder, as you improperly call it, will restore distinctly, “Captain Tomkins shot me. May you to your father, to your mother, to your God forgive him!” and fell back dead into sister. "But fear not. The Lord himself will my arms.
decide this question. I am but an instru• He is gone,” said I, speaking for the first ment."
“ You fill me with horror. Let us leave curely to a ring-bolt in the stern-port. His this unhappy man to the laws of his country, arms had been previously loosened, in order administered with due form, and by impartial that he might, if he had chosen, feed himself. judges. Do not give way to these wild When the mate thought him properly securdreams. We shall make Teneriffe to-mor-ed, he locked the door of the cabin, and, with
We may then hand him over to the myself, proceeded on deck. civil authorities, if we do not find a man-of To all my remonstrances on this unneceswar in the roadstead. The British consul sary cruelty, he was sternly unheedful. will advise us what to do."
There was a light wind from the right quar. “We shall never again reach land whilst ter. Every sail that our jury.masts and the murderer is on board. No, not one of us,” make-shift yards could carry and spread, answered Gavel, doggedly.
was extended to take advantage of it. As “Well, let us then all perish together, ra- the bright haze of the heat dispersed, and the ther than peril our souls by a contrived assas- evening approached, cool and clear, the high sination.”
and snow-white peak of Teneriffe distinctly “ Who talks of assassination, Troughton ? appeared right before us, singularly and The word is yours, not mine. I will not soil beautifully relieved by the intense blue of the my hand with the dastard's blood. His fate sky. There was joy came upon us all but is in the hands of the Lord.”
Gavel, and the prisoner in the cabin. My “Do not thus prevaricate with me. What exhilaration was excessive-the mate, howis blood ? Starvation, poison, strangulation, ever, grew more and more gloomy. At that or the cool depths of the unrevealing sea, are moment I could have embraced my bitterest each as effectual. Shall even a man like enemy. Full of this gushing milk of human Tomkins be shufflcd out of the way like a kindness, I addressed the superstitious zealot loathsome reptile in our path, with no prayer in the blandest and most friendly tones. I -110 rite-no Christian burial? Even if he could not move him. I talked to him of his be condemned by the laws to suffer death-friends, his home, of happiness in store for the consolations of religion will not be denied him, of his approaching promotion. But it to him during his passage to death, nor its roused him not. I spoke to him of his mothrites afterwards. You have no right, guilty er, and he softened. But it was only a change as you esteem him, to deprive him of them." from the stony rigidity of despair to its weak
" He shall have them. I will go in and ness. I could see by the contorted play of pray with him, and with the dead."
the muscles of his face, that he could have Gavel, I swear by all that's sacred, I'll wept, had it not been for very shame. He watch you. I will be a guard to this man thanked me with a tremulous voice for all my until the laws determine his fate."
kindness to him-made me write down in my “ Be so. Fear me not. I swear to you that pocket-book the address of his mother-dehe shall have Christian burial."
scribed to me exactly where she lived, in “ Must I be satisfied with this assurance ? some bye street leading from the CommerMay I depend upon you ?"
cial Road—and asked me to be kind to her. “ You may. "And see, I take this sinner Indeed, had he been standing on the scaffold, food."
with the headsman near him, he could not The mate then procured him one ration, have taken a more solemn leave of me, or exactly similar to those served out to the rest bade God bless me more fervently—and all of the ship’s company, with half a pint of fir- the time nearing land with a favoring and tid cold water. * I entered the after cabin rapidly-increasing breeze. with him. The master was in mental agony It was nearly dusk, when we found the on the floor, still bound, and had removed wind had risen so much, that we were forced himself as far as possible from the dead body. to take in sail. It was done cheerfully and His haggard countenance was cadaverously rapidly. pale, excepting where it was disfigured by the * It is coming," said Gavel to me; we are dark blue blotches of intemperance. He was drawing near the end of this frightful chapa wretched spectacle, every muscle in his ter: before midnight we shall have learned face quivering, every limb trembling. the great secret : I am awed, but yet I am
“I have brought you food and water," said happy. the mate sternly. Eat, and then try to make Nonsense.” your peace with God."
“ But I have much to do. I will save as But he could not eat-he could not drink. many of you as I can: it is a bitter cup that He could only plead to be removed from his is offered to me, but I will not, I may not reghastly companion, and petition for his favor- fuse it.” ite rum. How ardently, how passionately, He then again turned the hands up, still did the abject wretch pray for the draught of further to shorten sail. After this was done, intoxication ! His language was by turns and we were again running along under the bold, figurative, pathetic, and touching. I foresail only, - that unlucky foresail, - he had no conception of the powers of his elo-called the men aft, and spoke to them to the quence. What impassioned oratory was following effect. wasted, for the privilege of making himself a · My men, we shall have hard work to beast! To all these moving appeals, Gavel night:-prepare yourselves. I know by signs answered only by tightening the bands upon that you cannot understand that, before midhis hands and feet, and lashing him more se- night, we shall have the sea and the heavens
raging. Let us be prepared. He who is be. “ Ardent Troughton, I meet your look with low promised you each a bottle of rum; but a calm brow and a clear conscience.
We I know that you would not now take it if it are doomed. In spite of human skill, most, were offered to you. Let us not stand like if not all of us, will go down, this night, to beasts upon the brinks of our graves ; but, as their watery graves. It is unsafe to let the there has been much malice between me and drunken madman loose who is below. In the you, as a peace-offering, I will give to every crisis, when the timВers part, and the cold, man on board a half-pint of spirits.” black death of the wave is amongst us, can
“ Too much, too much,” I exclaimed; but he be saved ?-ought he to be saved ? and Gavel did not take the least notice of the in- steeped, as he is, in sin, ought I not to enterruption.
deavor to awaken in his mind some religious “Now, if there is any man among you thoughts? The parable of the eleventh hour whom I have wronged or insulted, let him is honey and balm to the sinner.” come forward, and I will right him if I can. “ Well, go. Do we not all want those con. None:-well then, I am, from my very heart, solations ?" glad to see that there is no ill-will among us. “ None so much as he." Let us all shake hands. At four bells (10 He then went below with Jugurtha; and o'clock, P. M.,) in the first watch, we will bury every time, as I turned aft in my solitary the dead. If any man thinks his half-pint watch, I heard a low moaning rise out of the too much for let him refrain. We must after-cabin, and mingle sorrowfully with the not disgrace the last of poor old Williams, whistling of the winds that came shrieking for you all know that he was yours and every after us as we hurried on our course. sailor's friend. Let us attend his burial The night was excessively dark, for the flylike men and like Christians. Join me, my ing scud had appeared with the gale, and obdear friends, as fervently as you can in the scured what little starlight we might have burial service,-we are threatened with much expected. The moon was voyaging rouad calamity, for there is a murderer on board. the earth, the fickle companion of the sun,
The men were then all sent down except and was with him now, far beneath the hori. the man at the wheel and one look-out ahead. zon. That my thoughts should have assumGavel then walked the deck with me, labor- ed a sombre hue was most natural. The ing under a great depression of spirits. At office going on immediately beneath me of length, he ordered Jugurtha, the negro, to be sewing the slain steward up in his hammock, sent to him, and then it was, for the first time, at once his coffin and his shrovd, the dire that I discovered that the poor fellow was events of the day, and the dreadful prognosdumb. However, tie mate made himseli tications of the mate, which I could not, understood sufficiently, and the dark counte- though I wished, despise, altogether lay nance of the black grinned with a satisfac- heavily on my bosom. tion that I thought almost demoniac.
I would have conversed with the man who It was now nearly eight o'clock, or, as it is was steering, were it not that all his attention nautically termed, the beginning of the first was necessary to keep the brig from broachwatch. By this time, I had become a very ing to. I continually hailed the man forward tolerable seaman: my schooling had been to keep a good look-out, but his monotonous, severe, but not only salutary as regarded my dismal, “ Ăye, aye, sir," did not in the least present position, but also of the most vital tend to dispel my melancholy or distract my importance to me in my after-life.
thoughts. As is usual in these cases, my mind Gavel advanced to me with a great deal ran back to the scenes that I had leit, and of respect in his manner, and said, “Mr. the memory of other days came over me with Troughton, will you do me the favor to keep a mingled bitterness and pleasure. For the the first half of the first watch? You per- first time, I felt a strange tenderness come ceive that the wind is bustling up into a gale; over me for the little Mira. I dwelt upon her there is a good man at the wheel, and a good pure and fair complexion, and the honest yet look-out placed forward. Do not, if you intellectual frankness of her countenance. I please, disturb the men from the enjoyment recalled to mind the social board of the good of the spirits that I have served out to them, old merchant, with all its luxuries, and the without ihere is the most pressing occasion.” smiling and cordial faces around it. I con
Considering their long abstinence, they trasted all this, and much more, with the reel. will get drunk.”
ing and crazy vessel that was staggering on, “I know it; but only partly so. I speak like one just recovering from a fit—the vagaunder an invisible and supernatural control ; bonds of the sea, who were now my companthey will be sober enough four hours hence. ions, and, above all, with the morose and suDo not disturb me on any account. Jugur- perstitious, though manly matr, with the tertha and I must go and sew up the dead in his rible idea of murder so familiarized to his winding-sheet. You know that we bury to- mind, that he had by some strange and pernight. A body should not be kept long in verted manner of reasoning sanctified it by these warm latitudes: besides, it is unlucky, the approbation of religion. and with a corpse on board, one does not feel What I am going to relate may be deemed comfortable. Besides, I wish to offer reli- a wild fiction. I cannot help it. I wish that gious consolation to the drunken reprobate it were so. To me, it was a dreadful truth, velow.
and taught me an awful lesson of mist rust in “ James Gavel !"
our weak natures, and the necessity of guard. VOL. I.
ing against presumption, that nursing mother Sarve him right, I think, to be made to stand of superstition; but I will hurry over this part by the man he murdered." of my biography as rapidly as I can.
" He is near enough,” said Gavel, hurriedly, It was just eight bells, ten o'clock, when and with a slight shudder. “Let me have no James Gavel again came on deck. His fea. more interruption. You man at the wheel, tures were rigid and stern, yet there was a there, John Cousins, mind the ship's head, wild excitement in his eye that was painful and keep your ears open." to look upon, and which appeared the more Three times did Gavel begin, and, at each startling, from the concentrated light of the attempt, his voice was, as if in wrath, blown lanthurn that he held. He first of all, with back upon his lips, and, at last, he was obliged studious phrase, thanked me for the diligent to turn his face from the corpse, and thus watch that I had kept. Indeed, lutterly, I standing to proceed. This omen, this appahad perceived a refinement in his language rent anger of Him to whom the hurricane is much at variance with his former nautical but as a servant, appalled not Gavel. Verily phraseology. He then requested me to turn was he a man of strong nerve, or he was more up the hands for the burial of the dead. The than an enthusiast. wind was mournfully singing among the rig- In a loud, clear, and sonorous voice, that ging, and hurrying along the decks, whilst the winds could not overcome, he began, "of the doleful cry of the boatswain, “All hands am the resurrection and the life, saith the to burial,” sounded strangely sad. The men Lord,'" &c. &c., still keeping with the left did not hurry up quickly, as usual. They hand a firm hold of the bier, whilst, with his came up like so many shadows in the partial right, he held the prayer-book. There was a darkness, stealing quietly and reverently aft. savage solemnity about the scene, that did
By the directions of Gavel, who superin- not elevate, but made the heart tremble. The tended the preparation, instead of placing the officiating priest
, for so, for the moment, must grating on the gangway, as is usual, he or we call this untamed seaman, seemed to be dered it to be placed on the taffrail, that, as actuated by a spirit of defiance, as much as we were running before the wind, when the by a feeling of piety; and there was a scowl body was thrown overboard, it might the of gratified revenge, or of some passion as sooner be clear of the vessel. The line was evil, upon his countenance. That it was made ready, another lanthorn was lighted, dangerous even then and there to cross him, and Jugurtha, the dumb black, with the boat was made manifest by an interruption, that, swain and Gavel, went below, and shortly on any other occasion, would have appeared afterwards the corpse was handed up, cover- ludicrous. ed with the ship's colors for a pall. It was The disappointed sailor, who had wished then put upon the grating, in order to be to inherit the bedding that he supposed was launched overboard.
tacked up with the body of the steward, cried The manner of burial at sea is this. The out in a reproachful manner, when Gavel body is sown up in the hammock of the dead, read aloud, “We brought nothing into this and if he died of any disease considered epi- world, and it is certain that we can carry demical, the bed-clothes are also contained nothing out,”—“Then why does Williams in this canvass shroud. Two or three heavy walk off with his blankets and bed ?" shot are also sown up at the feet, to ensure The hand that held on the bier was dashed, a rapid sinking. The grating is used as a in an instant, by this man of fierce passions, kind of bier, on which this mummy-like re. into the face of the interrupter, whilst he exceptacle for mortality is placed, and that with claimed, “Silence, reprobate scoffer." the body is launched generally over the ship’s As the seaman fell to the earth with a blow, side. The grating is afterwards, when the he muttered a dreadful imprecation, and a funeral service has been completed, hauled strange and stifled groan was heard, but no again on board by means of the rope attached one knew from whence it proceeded. to it.
After this, Gavel resumed the book, and The body on the grating, covered with the read on. The gale was increasing momenensign, was, at the direction of the mate, made tarily, but it seemed to make no impression ready for launching overboard, the whole of upon the stern officiator. He read more loudly the ship's company clustering round, and and more sternly. A horror began to creep one of the seamen holding the lanthorn, Gavel over us all. Methought, at times, that the prepared to read the funeral service. Hats corpse under the union jack had a motion not were taken off.
produced by the plunging and rolling of the “Axing your pardon, Mr. Gavel," began vessel. I endeavored to repel the horrible one of the men, “ but it seems to me as if you idea that seized me. It was in vain. My had sown up all poor Wilson's bed clothes, it suspicions increased every moment. I knew is so bulky like. Now, as he didn't die of no not how to act. fever-and my whole kit was washed over- Gavel read on. board last gale, I'm willing to pay a fair price It was now a perfect storm, yet he seemed for his'n, and you can stop it out of my wa- to be trying his strength against it. His voice ges."
became shrill, and still mastered the rushing Jugurtha grinned, and the mate merely of the mighty winds. Twice had I laid my said, “Silence, do not disturb the service.” hand upon his arm, and besought him to for.
“ Had you not better, Mr. Gravel,” re- bear. I might as well have addressed the marked the boatswain, “ send for the captain ? | tempest that was hurrying us to destruction. He was laboring-laboring did I say?-revel. With the dead body of your murdered capling under the influence of a superstitious ex. tain? And how murdered? May it not be citement. Nothing but sudden death could remembered against you in the fatal day! have stopped him.
Why do you crouch here !—for you, repent. He read on.
ance is too late :- prayer is useless. Do you Another hand had quietly stepped to the see that dark bounding wave that has just wheel to assist the man at the helin-for the passed over your forecastle, sweeping with it, brig was bounding, plunging, and reeling- with as little remorse as if they were so much but to all this Gavel seemed impassable, im- sea-weed, the half of your crew to the angry perturbable. The service drew to conclusion deeps ?- this is the safety that you have pur-I was in a perfect agony of dread. The chased with the price of blood: it is the third cold perspiration stood upon my brow. I felt, wave, is it not, James Gavel the third, that I knew not why, that I was assisting at some you sailors think so destructive? Well, there horrible, some unnatural sacrifice. Several is the second, and, behold, how smooth your times was I upon the point of laying my decks are! Do you not tremble for the third ? hands upon the swaddled corpse to relieve --murderer-speak!" the crushing burden of my suspicions ; but "Spare me." when the cruel mate came to that part that “ Up, man, and show some of your boasted finishes the ceremony, and read, " We thure- seamanship: where is now your craft of pracfore commit their bodies to the deep," the truth, tice ! Has your brain no expedient, your in all its horror, flashed upon me, and I caught heart no fibre? Has your right hand forgot at Gavel's throat, and exclaimed, “ Atrocious its cunning? Oh, yes! on your knees then, murderer! Men, haul the bodies on board.” and meet your death like a felon ; for we
But Gavel was too quick for me, he thrust shall all perish, all-all-all for the MURDERthe grating over the stern, and the plash of ER IS STILL ON BOARD.” the descending bodies to their cold deep grave To these almost insane invectives the shi. was hardly heard amidst the lashings of the vering wretch replied not, but contracted himwater that boiled under the counter of the self into as small a space as possible, tremvessel.
bling excessively. I was strangely situated ; “ Man of cruel superstitions! what hast crouched down under what little remained of th done ?”
the weather side of the quarter-deck bulwark, He replied collectedly, almost calmly, Bounder, the Newfoundland dog, on one side, “There is one more Jonah for the whale-I the grinning negro, Jugurtha, on the other, have buried the quick and the dead. He had whilst the utterly prostrated mate lay rolled the consolations of religion-he had Christian up at our feet. The dog from time to time burial. There is now safety for us all-the looked up piteously, and licked my face and winds will shortly cease. Hands, up fore- hands, and the black was the very personifi. sail.”
cation of a stoic. “ Deluded murderer!" said I, petrified with The third swell came. For an instant, I horror. But he heard me not-he went for- perceived a curling white canopy high over ward to assist in reducing the only sail we the heads of this wretched group, and the next had upon the vessel. In the attempt it was we were far, far to leeward in the open and split into shreds. The next moment the sea dreary, sea, and a little dispersed from each rushed over us, and swept away the wheel, other. At that period I could not swim. Juthe two men who were steering, and the bin- gurtha was soon beside me, and the faithful nacle, and the brig broached to. Before these Bounder too. The waves were huge anıl damages were commented on, our jury-masts munstrous, but they did not break, excepting were over the sides. We were again a wreck. when they met with resistance, for they were All that is so awfully magnificent in a storm heaving in the exact direction of the wind. I came down, as in vengeance, upon us. There never once lost my perceptions : they were, was the battering hail, and the nimble-tongued instead of being confused by the dangers and lightning, that voiced the anger of the hea- horrors around me, painfully distinct. Bound. vens in the stunning thunders-and the wind er swam nobly. I merely placed my left - that wind !—it appeared as if it was able hand upon his back, and was sufficiently supto have lifted us out of the water, had we not, ported. Jugurtha swam buoyantly on my as I fancied, been heavy with a load of sin- right. We endeavored to turn and face the burdened with the weight of a double homi- brig, from which we had been washed. We cide.
did so at length, notwithstanding the violence The discomfited mate crept aft to me. He of the spray: but she was no more; or, if looked abject, haggard, dismayed. No longer she existed, the few yards of distance that we had he the high expression of an awarder of had been swept from her were, in the dark. vengeance—he was the trembling felon. ness, sufficient to hide her from our view.
“God forgive me,” he exclaimed in his I now despaired for the first time. I gave agony, “how Satan hath misled me!" At one thought to my unknown parents and sis. that moment I could not restrain the bitter- ter, and addressed myself to prayer. After ness of my reproaches. I placed my mouth this, I felt considerably calmed and almost close to his ear, and shouted into it," Is this resigned. I even dared, without repining, to the calm you have purchased for us, O man contemplate the agonies of a prolonged death, of iniquity? Where are we now to look for and felt no inclination to hasten it by plung. safety-with the black wave that is sporting ing, at once, beneath the waters.