Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

vessel; and I, not being able to help it, landed them all in the Bay of Honduras, where I thought it very possible they would be taken by the Spaniards, and imprisoned, if not hanged. They were imprisoned ; but, after some time, they were released. The desertion of Fitzgerald and the other men left me with my vessel half manned ; and I vowed vengeance against him if ever I had an opportunity. I now cruised as a pirate, and was very successful, and my name was a terror to those seas. A high reward was offered for me, dead or alive, which pleased me much, and I became more murderous than ever. Jack, all this rises up in judgment against me now; and I recollect every single life taken away by me, or by my orders, as well as if I had noted them down in a book. May God forgive me!" continued Spicer, covering his eyes up for a time.

After a pause he continued, “I had ordered a vessel with a valuable cargo to be taken on a rendezvous we had in the Caicos ; but it was recaptured and taken into Port Royal, Jamaica. As the proofs of the piracy were well established, the men on board were thrown into prison to take their trial. I heard of this, for I was often on shore in disguise in one island or another, and a scheme entered my head which I thought would benefit myself and wreak my vengeance upon Fitzgerald. But I must leave off now. Here comes the chaplain ; he promised to talk with me this evening, and you see that I have changed my opinion on that point, praised be God for it. Good night, Jack, come to-morrow."

CHAP. XLV.

spicer's death.'

When I saw Spicer again he continued his narrative:

“ I told you that I was anxious to wreak my vengeance upon Fitzgerald, and the plan which I hit upon was as follows: I contrived to get to Port Royal, and to speak to the two men whom I had been on the best terms with. I told them that the only chance of escape would be for them to give their names as those of James, which was mine, and of Fitzgerald, the first officer; and I explained to them why ;- because Fitzgerald and I had saved the life of the daughter of one of the chief planters, who, in gratitude, had promised that he would assist us, if we were ever in difficulty. I told them that they must adhere to what they said, as they would be condemned with the others; but that a reprieve would be given when they were on the scaffold.”

“ But why should you have done this ? ” inquired I.

“ First, because I wished people to believe that I was dead, that there might not be so great a hue and after

me,

and the temptation of so high a reward ; next, because I knew that Fitzgerald was still in prison : and that his wife would read the account of his execution in the newspapers, which I hoped would break her heart and so make him miserable.”

“ Oh, Spicer, that was too cruel."

“ It was, but my plan succeeded. The men gave our names, went to the scaffold, expecting a reprieve, and were hanged."

And thus it is that your poor mother thinks even now that you were hanged," said I. “ Even so, Jack, even so.

Well, after a time, I quitted my vessel, and returned to England; for I was actually tired of bloodshed, and I had collected a great deal of money.

On
my

arrival I inquired after Fitzgerald. It appeared that his wife had heard

cry

Y

the account of his execution; and, as her bonnet was found by the side of the mill dam, it was supposed that she had destroyed herself. Fitzgerald returned home, and was distracted at the intelligence. I have always thought that she was dead; but, by what you say, Jack, I now doubt it."

“ And Fitzgerald, Spicer, what became of him?"

“I really cannot tell. I heard that he had entered on board of a king's ship, but not under his own name: how far that was true or not, I cannot say; but I have every reason to believe that such was the case.” “ And how came you on board of a man-of-war ? "

Why, that's soon told. I spent my money, or lost it all in gambling, went out again, obtained command of a vessel, and did well for some time; but I was more tyrannical and absolute than ever.

I had shot five or six of my own men when the crew mutinied, and put me and two others who had always supported me in an open boat, and left us to our fate. We were picked up by a frigate going to the East Indies when we were in the last extremity. And now, Jack, I believe you have my whole history. I am tired now, and must go to sleep ; but, Jack, I wish you to come to-morrow morning, for I have something to say to you of great importance. Good-bye, Jack; don't forget."

I promised Spicer that I would not fail, and quitted the Hospital. When I called again upon him, I found him very low and weak — he could not raise himself from his pillow. “I feel that I am going now, Jack," said he - "going very fast-I have not many hours to live, but, I thank Heaven, I am not in any pain. A man who dies in agony cannot examine himself— cannot survey the past with calmness, or feel convinced of the greatness of his offences. I thank God for that; but, Jack, although I have committed many a foul and execrable murder, for which I am full of remorse although I feel how detestable has been

my

life - I tell you candidly, that, although those crimes may appear to others more heavy than the simple one of theft, to me the one that lies most heavy on my soul is the robbing of my poor mother, and my whole treatment of her. Jack, will you do one favour to a dying man--and it must be done soon, or it will be too late. Will you go to my poor mother, acquaint her with my being here, still alive, and that my hours are numbered, and beg for me forgiveness ? — Obtain that for me, Jack — bring that to me, and so may you receive forgiveness yourself!"

“I will, Spicer,” replied I; “I will go directly; and I have little fear but that I shall succeed."

“Go, then, Jack-don't tarry, for my time is nearly come.”

I left the Hospital immediately, and hastened to Old Nanny's. I found her very busy, sorting a lot of old bottles, which she had just purchased.

“Well, Jack,” said she, “ you are just come in time to help me. I was just a saying if Jack was to call now, he'd be of some use, for I can't well reach so high as the shelf where I put the bottles on, and when I get on a stool my old head swims.”

“ Mother," said I, “suppose you put down the bottles for a little while, as I have that to say to you which must not be delayed.”

Why, what's the matter, boy ?--and how pale you look – what has happened? You don't want money, do you?"

“ No, mother, I want no money-I only want you to listen to matters important, which I must disclose to you."

“ Well— well-what is it? - about the fellow who tried to rob me, I suppose. I told you before, Jack, I won't hurt him, for my poor boy's sake.”

It is about your poor boy I would speak, mother,” replied I, hardly knowing how to begin. “Now, mother, did you not tell me that he was hanged at Port Royal ?”.

“ Yes-yes—but why come and talk about it again ?"

“ Because, mother, you seem to feel the disgrace of his being hanged so much."

“Well, to be sure I do--then why do you remind me of it, you bad boy- it's cruel of you, Jack – I thought you kinder.”

“Mother, it is because you do feel it so much that I have come to tell you that you have been deceived. Your son was not hanged."

[ocr errors]

“ Not hanged! Why, Jack, are you sure?"
“ Yes, mother, quite sure.”
“ Not banged — quite sure —"

Here Old Nanny burst out into a wild laugh, which ended in sobbing and tears. I was obliged to wait some minutes before she was composed enough to listen to me: at last I said, “ Mother, I have more to say, and there is no time to be lost.”

Why no time to be lost, my dear boy?" said she. “Oh! now that you have told me this, I could dwell for hours — ay, days more-I shall dwell my whole life upon this kind news.”

“But listen to me, mother, for I must tell you how I discovered this.”

“Yes, yes, Jack — do, that's a good boy. I am quite calm now," said Nanny, wiping her eyes with her apron.

I then acquainted her with what Spicer had told me, relative to his inducing the man to take his name; and continued the history of Spicer's life, until I left him on board of a man-of-war.

“ But where is he now? And who told you all this ? "

“He told me so himself,” replied I. “He has been in the Hos. pital some time; and living here close to you, without either of you being aware of it.

But, mother, he is now ill — very ill in the Hospital : he would not have confessed all this, if he had not felt how ill he was."

Deary, deary me,” replied Old Nanny, wringing her hands; “I must go see him."

“ Nay, mother, I fear you cannot; the fact is, that he is dying, and he has sent me to ask your forgiveness for his conduct to you."

“Deary, deary me," continued old Nanny, seemingly half out of her wits; "in the Hospital - so near

so near to his poor mother — and dying – dear Jemmy!”

Then the old woman covered up her face with her apron, and was silent. I waited a minute or two, and then I again spoke to her.

“ Will you not answer my question, mother? Your son has but an hour, perhaps, to live, and he dies penitent not only for his

« AnteriorContinuar »