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Part III

ROMANCE. FROM THE PEN OF LIEUT.-COL. ROBIN REDFORTH (Aged nine.)

THE subject of our present narrative would appear to have devoted
himself to the pirate profession at a comparatively early age. We
find him in command of a splendid schooner of one hundred guns
loaded to the muzzle, ere yet he had had a party in honour of his
tenth birthday.

It seems that our hero, considering himself spited by a Latin-
grammar master, demanded the satisfaction due from one man of
honour to another. - Not getting it, he privately withdrew his
haughty spirit from such low company, bought a second-hand pocket-
pistol, folded up some sandwiches in a paper bag, made a bottle of
Spanish liquorice-water, and entered on a career of valour.

It were tedious to follow Boldheart (for such was his name) through
the commencing stages of his story. Suffice it, that we find him
bearing the rank of Capt. Boldheart, reclining in full uniform on a
crimson hearth-rug spread out upon the quarter-deck of his schooner
'The Beauty,' in the China seas. It was a lovely evening; and, as
his crew lay grouped about him, he favoured them with the following
melody:


O landsmen are folly!
O pirates are jolly!
O diddleum Dolly,
Di!
CHORUS. - Heave yo.


The soothing effect of these animated sounds floating over the
waters, as the common sailors united their rough voices to take up
the rich tones of Boldheart, may be more easily conceived than
described.

It was under these circumstances that the look-out at the masthead
gave the word, 'Whales!'

All was now activity.

'Where away?' cried Capt. Boldheart, starting up.

'On the larboard bow, sir,' replied the fellow at the masthead,
touching his hat. For such was the height of discipline on board
of 'The Beauty,' that, even at that height, he was obliged to mind
it, or be shot through the head.

'This adventure belongs to me,' said Boldheart. 'Boy, my harpoon.
Let no man follow;' and leaping alone into his boat, the captain
rowed with admirable dexterity in the direction of the monster.

All was now excitement.

'He nears him!' said an elderly seaman, following the captain
through his spy-glass.

'He strikes him!' said another seaman, a mere stripling, but also
with a spy-glass.

'He tows him towards us!' said another seaman, a man in the full
vigour of life, but also with a spy-glass.

In fact, the captain was seen approaching, with the huge bulk
following. We will not dwell on the deafening cries of 'Boldheart!
Boldheart!' with which he was received, when, carelessly leaping on
the quarter-deck, he presented his prize to his men. They
afterwards made two thousand four hundred and seventeen pound ten
and sixpence by it.

Ordering the sail to be braced up, the captain now stood W.N.W.
'The Beauty' flew rather than floated over the dark blue waters.
Nothing particular occurred for a fortnight, except taking, with
considerable slaughter, four Spanish galleons, and a snow from
South America, all richly laden. Inaction began to tell upon the
spirits of the men. Capt. Boldheart called all hands aft, and
said, 'My lads, I hear there are discontented ones among ye. Let
any such stand forth.'

After some murmuring, in which the expressions, 'Ay, ay, sir!'
'Union Jack,' 'Avast,' 'Starboard,' 'Port,' 'Bowsprit,' and similar
indications of a mutinous undercurrent, though subdued, were
audible, Bill Boozey, captain of the foretop, came out from the
rest. His form was that of a giant, but he quailed under the
captain's eye.

'What are your wrongs?' said the captain.

'Why, d'ye see, Capt. Boldheart,' replied the towering manner,
'I've sailed, man and boy, for many a year, but I never yet know'd
the milk served out for the ship's company's teas to be so sour as
'tis aboard this craft.'

At this moment the thrilling cry, 'Man overboard!' announced to the
astonished crew that Boozey, in stepping back, as the captain (in
mere thoughtfulness) laid his hand upon the faithful pocket-pistol
which he wore in his belt, had lost his balance, and was struggling
with the foaming tide.

All was now stupefaction.

But with Capt. Boldheart, to throw off his uniform coat, regardless
of the various rich orders with which it was decorated, and to
plunge into the sea after the drowning giant, was the work of a
moment. Maddening was the excitement when boats were lowered;
intense the joy when the captain was seen holding up the drowning
man with his teeth; deafening the cheering when both were restored
to the main deck of 'The Beauty.' And, from the instant of his
changing his wet clothes for dry ones, Capt. Boldheart had no such
devoted though humble friend as William Boozey.

Boldheart now pointed to the horizon, and called the attention of
his crew to the taper spars of a ship lying snug in harbour under
the guns of a fort.

'She shall be ours at sunrise,' said he. 'Serve out a double
allowance of grog, and prepare for action.'

All was now preparation.

When morning dawned, after a sleepless night, it was seen that the
stranger was crowding on all sail to come out of the harbour and
offer battle. As the two ships came nearer to each other, the
stranger fired a gun and hoisted Roman colours. Boldheart then
perceived her to be the Latin-grammar master's bark. Such indeed
she was, and had been tacking about the world in unavailing
pursuit, from the time of his first taking to a roving life.

Boldheart now addressed his men, promising to blow them up if he
should feel convinced that their reputation required it, and giving
orders that the Latin-grammar master should be taken alive. He
then dismissed them to their quarters, and the fight began with a
broadside from 'The Beauty.' She then veered around, and poured in
another. 'The Scorpion' (so was the bark of the Latin-grammar
master appropriately called) was not slow to return her fire; and a
terrific cannonading ensued, in which the guns of 'The Beauty' did
tremendous execution.

The Latin-grammar master was seen upon the poop, in the midst of
the smoke and fire, encouraging his men. To do him justice, he was
no craven, though his white hat, his short gray trousers, and his
long snuff-coloured surtout reaching to his heels (the self-same
coat in which he had spited Boldheart), contrasted most
unfavourably with the brilliant uniform of the latter. At this
moment, Boldheart, seizing a pike and putting himself at the head
of his men, gave the word to board.

A desperate conflict ensued in the hammock-nettings, - or somewhere
in about that direction, - until the Latin-grammar master, having
all his masts gone, his hull and rigging shot through, and seeing
Boldheart slashing a path towards him, hauled down his flag
himself, gave up his sword to Boldheart, and asked for quarter.
Scarce had he been put into the captain's boat, ere 'The Scorpion'
went down with all on board.

On Capt. Boldheart's now assembling his men, a circumstance
occurred. He found it necessary with one blow of his cutlass to
kill the cook, who, having lost his brother in the late action, was
making at the Latin-grammar master in an infuriated state, intent
on his destruction with a carving-knife.

Capt. Boldheart then turned to the Latin-grammar master, severely
reproaching him with his perfidy, and put it to his crew what they
considered that a master who spited a boy deserved.

They answered with one voice, 'Death.'

'It may be so,' said the captain; 'but it shall never be said that
Boldheart stained his hour of triumph with the blood of his enemy.
Prepare the cutter.'

The cutter was immediately prepared.

'Without taking your life,' said the captain, 'I must yet for ever
deprive you of the power of spiting other boys. I shall turn you
adrift in this boat. You will find in her two oars, a compass, a
bottle of rum, a small cask of water, a piece of pork, a bag of
biscuit, and my Latin grammar. Go! and spite the natives, if you
can find any.'

Deeply conscious of this bitter sarcasm, the unhappy wretch was put
into the cutter, and was soon left far behind. He made no effort
to row, but was seen lying on his back with his legs up, when last
made out by the ship's telescopes.

A stiff breeze now beginning to blow, Capt. Boldheart gave orders
to keep her S.S.W., easing her a little during the night by falling
off a point or two W. by W., or even by W.S., if she complained
much. He then retired for the night, having in truth much need of
repose. In addition to the fatigues he had undergone, this brave
officer had received sixteen wounds in the engagement, but had not
mentioned it.

In the morning a white squall came on, and was succeeded by other
squalls of various colours. It thundered and lightened heavily for
six weeks. Hurricanes then set in for two months. Waterspouts and
tornadoes followed. The oldest sailor on board - and he was a very
old one - had never seen such weather. 'The Beauty' lost all idea
where she was, and the carpenter reported six feet two of water in
the hold. Everybody fell senseless at the pumps every day.

Provisions now ran very low. Our hero put the crew on short
allowance, and put himself on shorter allowance than any man in the
ship. But his spirit kept him fat. In this extremity, the
gratitude of Boozey, the captain of the foretop, whom our readers
may remember, was truly affecting. The loving though lowly William
repeatedly requested to be killed, and preserved for the captain's
table.

We now approach a change of affairs. One day during a gleam of
sunshine, and when the weather had moderated, the man at the
masthead - too weak now to touch his hat, besides its having been
blown away - called out,

'Savages!'

All was now expectation.

Presently fifteen hundred canoes, each paddled by twenty savages,
were seen advancing in excellent order. They were of a light green
colour (the savages were), and sang, with great energy, the
following strain:


Choo a choo a choo tooth.
Muntch, muntch. Nycey!
Choo a choo a choo tooth.
Muntch, muntch. Nycey!


As the shades of night were by this time closing in, these
expressions were supposed to embody this simple people's views of
the evening hymn. But it too soon appeared that the song was a
translation of 'For what we are going to receive,' &c.

The chief, imposingly decorated with feathers of lively colours,
and having the majestic appearance of a fighting parrot, no sooner
understood (he understood English perfectly) that the ship was 'The
Beauty,' Capt. Boldheart, than he fell upon his face on the deck,
and could not be persuaded to rise until the captain had lifted him
up, and told him he wouldn't hurt him. All the rest of the savages
also fell on their faces with marks of terror, and had also to be
lifted up one by one. Thus the fame of the great Boldheart had
gone before him, even among these children of Nature.

Turtles and oysters were now produced in astonishing numbers; and
on these and yams the people made a hearty meal. After dinner the
chief told Capt. Boldheart that there was better feeding up at the
village, and that he would be glad to take him and his officers
there. Apprehensive of treachery, Boldheart ordered his boat's
crew to attend him completely armed. And well were it for other
commanders if their precautions - but let us not anticipate.

When the canoes arrived at the beach, the darkness of the night was
illumined by the light of an immense fire. Ordering his boat's
crew (with the intrepid though illiterate William at their head) to
keep close and be upon their guard, Boldheart bravely went on, arm
in arm with the chief.

But how to depict the captain's surprise when he found a ring of
savages singing in chorus that barbarous translation of 'For what
we are going to receive,' &c., which has been given above, and
dancing hand in hand round the Latin-grammar master, in a hamper
with his head shaved, while two savages floured him, before putting
him to the fire to be cooked!

Boldheart now took counsel with his officers on the course to be
adopted. In the mean time, the miserable captive never ceased
begging pardon and imploring to be delivered. On the generous
Boldheart's proposal, it was at length resolved that he should not
be cooked, but should be allowed to remain raw, on two conditions,
namely:

1. That he should never, under any circumstances, presume to teach
any boy anything any more.

2. That, if taken back to England, he should pass his life in
travelling to find out boys who wanted their exercises done, and
should do their exercises for those boys for nothing, and never say
a word about it.

Drawing the sword from its sheath, Boldheart swore him to these
conditions on its shining blade. The prisoner wept bitterly, and
appeared acutely to feel the errors of his past career.

The captain then ordered his boat's crew to make ready for a
volley, and after firing to re-load quickly. 'And expect a score
or two on ye to go head over heels,' murmured William Boozey; 'for
I'm a-looking at ye.' With those words, the derisive though deadly
William took a good aim.

'Fire!'

The ringing voice of Boldheart was lost in the report of the guns
and the screeching of the savages. Volley after volley awakened
the numerous echoes. Hundreds of savages were killed, hundreds
wounded, and thousands ran howling into the woods. The Latin-
grammar master had a spare night-cap lent him, and a long-tail
coat, which he wore hind side before. He presented a ludicrous
though pitiable appearance, and serve him right.

We now find Capt. Boldheart, with this rescued wretch on board,
standing off for other islands. At one of these, not a cannibal
island, but a pork and vegetable one, he married (only in fun on
his part) the king's daughter. Here he rested some time, receiving
from the natives great quantities of precious stones, gold dust,
elephants' teeth, and sandal wood, and getting very rich. This,
too, though he almost every day made presents of enormous value to
his men.

The ship being at length as full as she could hold of all sorts of
valuable things, Boldheart gave orders to weigh the anchor, and
turn 'The Beauty's' head towards England. These orders were obeyed
with three cheers; and ere the sun went down full many a hornpipe
had been danced on deck by the uncouth though agile William.

We next find Capt. Boldheart about three leagues off Madeira,
surveying through his spy-glass a stranger of suspicious appearance
making sail towards him. On his firing a gun ahead of her to bring
her to, she ran up a flag, which he instantly recognised as the
flag from the mast in the back-garden at home.

Inferring from this, that his father had put to sea to seek his
long-lost son, the captain sent his own boat on board the stranger
to inquire if this was so, and, if so, whether his father's
intentions were strictly honourable. The boat came back with a
present of greens and fresh meat, and reported that the stranger
was 'The Family,' of twelve hundred tons, and had not only the
captain's father on board, but also his mother, with the majority
of his aunts and uncles, and all his cousins. It was further
reported to Boldheart that the whole of these relations had
expressed themselves in a becoming manner, and were anxious to
embrace him and thank him for the glorious credit he had done them.
Boldheart at once invited them to breakfast next morning on board
'The Beauty,' and gave orders for a brilliant ball that should last
all day.

It was in the course of the night that the captain discovered the
hopelessness of reclaiming the Latin-grammar master. That
thankless traitor was found out, as the two ships lay near each
other, communicating with 'The Family' by signals, and offering to
give up Boldheart. He was hanged at the yard-arm the first thing
in the morning, after having it impressively pointed out to him by
Boldheart that this was what spiters came to.

The meeting between the captain and his parents was attended with
tears. His uncles and aunts would have attended their meeting with
tears too, but he wasn't going to stand that. His cousins were
very much astonished by the size of his ship and the discipline of
his men, and were greatly overcome by the splendour of his uniform.
He kindly conducted them round the vessel, and pointed out
everything worthy of notice. He also fired his hundred guns, and
found it amusing to witness their alarm.

The entertainment surpassed everything ever seen on board ship, and
lasted from ten in the morning until seven the next morning. Only
one disagreeable incident occurred. Capt. Boldheart found himself
obliged to put his cousin Tom in irons, for being disrespectful.
On the boy's promising amendment, however, he was humanely released
after a few hours' close confinement.

Boldheart now took his mother down into the great cabin, and asked
after the young lady with whom, it was well known to the world, he
was in love. His mother replied that the object of his affections
was then at school at Margate, for the benefit of sea-bathing (it
was the month of September), but that she feared the young lady's
friends were still opposed to the union. Boldheart at once
resolved, if necessary, to bombard the town.

Taking the command of his ship with this intention, and putting all
but fighting men on board 'The Family,' with orders to that vessel
to keep in company, Boldheart soon anchored in Margate Roads. Here
he went ashore well-armed, and attended by his boat's crew (at
their head the faithful though ferocious William), and demanded to
see the mayor, who came out of his office.

'Dost know the name of yon ship, mayor?' asked Boldheart fiercely.

'No,' said the mayor, rubbing his eyes, which he could scarce
believe, when he saw the goodly vessel riding at anchor.

'She is named "The Beauty,"' said the captain.

'Hah!' exclaimed the mayor, with a start. 'And you, then, are
Capt. Boldheart?'

'The same.'

A pause ensued. The mayor trembled.

'Now, mayor,' said the captain, 'choose! Help me to my bride, or
be bombarded.'

The mayor begged for two hours' grace, in which to make inquiries
respecting the young lady. Boldheart accorded him but one; and
during that one placed William Boozey sentry over him, with a drawn
sword, and instructions to accompany him wherever he went, and to
run him through the body if he showed a sign of playing false.

At the end of the hour the mayor re-appeared more dead than alive,
closely waited on by Boozey more alive than dead.

'Captain,' said the mayor, 'I have ascertained that the young lady
is going to bathe. Even now she waits her turn for a machine. The
tide is low, though rising. I, in one of our town-boats, shall not
be suspected. When she comes forth in her bathing-dress into the
shallow water from behind the hood of the machine, my boat shall
intercept her and prevent her return. Do you the rest.'

'Mayor,' returned Capt. Boldheart, 'thou hast saved thy town.'

The captain then signalled his boat to take him off, and, steering
her himself, ordered her crew to row towards the bathing-ground,
and there to rest upon their oars. All happened as had been
arranged. His lovely bride came forth, the mayor glided in behind
her, she became confused, and had floated out of her depth, when,
with one skilful touch of the rudder and one quivering stroke from
the boat's crew, her adoring Boldheart held her in his strong arms.
There her shrieks of terror were changed to cries of joy.

Before 'The Beauty' could get under way, the hoisting of all the
flags in the town and harbour, and the ringing of all the bells,
announced to the brave Boldheart that he had nothing to fear. He
therefore determined to be married on the spot, and signalled for a
clergyman and clerk, who came off promptly in a sailing-boat named
'The Skylark.' Another great entertainment was then given on board
'The Beauty,' in the midst of which the mayor was called out by a
messenger. He returned with the news that government had sent down
to know whether Capt. Boldheart, in acknowledgment of the great
services he had done his country by being a pirate, would consent
to be made a lieutenant-colonel. For himself he would have spurned
the worthless boon; but his bride wished it, and he consented.

Only one thing further happened before the good ship 'Family' was
dismissed, with rich presents to all on board. It is painful to
record (but such is human nature in some cousins) that Capt.
Boldheart's unmannerly Cousin Tom was actually tied up to receive
three dozen with a rope's end 'for cheekiness and making game,'
when Capt. Boldheart's lady begged for him, and he was spared.
'The Beauty' then refitted, and the captain and his bride departed
for the Indian Ocean to enjoy themselves for evermore.

Charles Dickens

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