« AnteriorContinuar »
“I should say, stay on board till you are able to get about again ; but the ship will be paid off to-morrow, so I had better send you up to Chatham directly. You are entitled to salvage, if ever men were, for you have earned it gloriously; and I will take care that you are done justice to. I must go now and report the vessel and particulars to the admiral ; and the first lieutenant will send you to Chatham in one of the cutters. You'll be in good hands, Tom, for you will have two nurses."
We were taken up to Chatham to the hotel, where we found Lady O'Connor and Virginia very much surprised, as may be imagined, at our being brought there wounded; however, we were neither of us ill enough to go to bed, and had a sitting-room next to theirs. This re-capture made a great deal of noise.
At first the agent for the prize wrote down a handsome letter to us, complimenting us upon our behaviour, and stating that he was authorised to present us each with 5001. for our conduct; but Sir James O'Connor answered the letter, informing him that we claimed, and would have, our one-eighth, as entitled to by law, and that he would see us righted. Mr. Wilson, whom we employed as our legal adviser, immediately gave the prize agent notice of an action in the Court of Admiralty, and finding we were so powerfully backed, and that he could not help himself, he offered 40,0001., which was one-eighth, valuing the cargo at 320,0001. The cargo proved to be worth more than 400,0001., but Mr. Wilson advised us to close with the offer, as it was better than litigating the question; so we assented to it, and the money was paid over.
In a fortnight we were both ready to travel again. Sir James O'Connor had remained a week longer than he intended to have done at Chatham on our account. We now took leave of them, and having presented Virginia with 50001., which I had directed Mr. Wilson to settle upon her, we parted, the O'Connors and Virginia for Leamington, and Bramble and I for Deal.
в в 2
BEING THE LAST CHAPTER, THE READER MAY PRETTY WELL GUESS
THE CONTENTS OF IT.
“ Tom, do you know that I very often find myself looking about me, and asking myself if all that has happened is true or a dream," said Bramble to me, as we sat inside of the coach to Dover, for there were no other inside passengers but ourselves. “I can't help thinking that great good fortune is as astounding as great calamity. Who would have thought, when I would, in spite of all Bessy's remonstrances, go round in that ship with you, that in the first place we should have been taken possession of by a privateer in the very narrows (he was a bold cruizer that Frenchman)! After we were captured I said to myself, Bessy must have had a forewarning of what was to happen, or she never would have been, as I thought, so perverse: and since it has turned out so fortunately, I can't help saying how fortunate it was that we did not allow her to persuade us; for had we not both gone, nothing could have been done. Well, I think we may promise Bessy this time, when we meet her, that we will not trust ourselves to salt water again in a hurry. What do you think, Tom?"
“ No; I think the best thing I can do is to marry, and live on shore,” replied I.
“ Yes, Tom that's it, — give me your hand ; you don't know how happy you make me. We'll all live together; but where shall we live, for the poor little cottage that I thought quite big enough for us a month ago will not do now ?”
“We have plenty of time to talk that over, father. I love the cottage for many reasons; although, as you say, it is not large enough now for our means, or future way of living."
“ And I love it too, boy; I love to look out of the door and see the spot where my Bessy rescued me from death. God bless her! she is a noble girl, Tom, though I say it who - but I'm not her father after all; and if I were, I would still say
it.” “ It is evident, by her letter to you, that she has been most anxious about us. What will she say when she hears we have both been wounded ?"
“Ay! it wouldn't have done to have told her that, or she would have set off for Chatham, as sure as we are sitting here."
Here a pause ensued for some time, and we were busied with our own thoughts: the silence was at last broken by me.
“ Father,” said I, “I should like to ask my father and Peter Anderson to come down to us; they can easily get leave.”
“Is it to be present at your wedding, Tom ?" “ Exactly — if Bessy will consent."
"Well, I have no doubt of that, Tom; but she will now require a little courting - you know why."
“Why - because all women like it, I suppose."
“ No, Tom; it is because she was in love before you were, d'ye understand; — and now that things are all smooth, and you follow her, why it's natural, I suppose, that she should shy off a little in her turn. You must mind that, Tom; it's a sort of soothing to the mortification of having at one time found herself, as it were, rejected.”
“Well, I sha'n't mind that; it will only serve me right for being such a fool as not to have perceived her value before. But how do you understand women so well, father?”
“ Because, Tom, I've been looking on, and not performing, all my life: except in one instance in a long life, I've only been a bystander in the way of courtship and matrimony. Here we are at last, and now for a chaise to Deal. Thank God, we can afford to shorten the time, for Bessy's sake, poor thing!”
We arrived at the cottage ; the sound of the wheels had called out not only Bessy and Mrs. Maddox, but all the neighbours; for they had heard of our good fortune. Bessy, as soon as she had satisfied herself that it was Bramble and me, went into the cottage again. Once more we entered the humble roof. Bessy flew into her father's arms, and hung weeping on his shoulder.
you a kind word to say for Tom?" said Bramble, kissing her as he released himself.
“Does he deserve it, to leave me as he did, laughing at my distress ? He had no right to treat me so."
“Indeed, Bessy, you do me injustice. I said at the time, that I thought there was no risk; and I certainly did think there was
Who would have expected a privateer half way up the Thames, any more than a vessel with twenty men on board could be re-captured by two men ? "
“Well, Bessy, you ought to make friends with him ; for without his arm, your father would not have been back here quite so soon. He beat down the Frenchmen, one after another, in good style, when they attempted to recover the vessel—that he did, I can tell you, wounded as he was.”
“ Wounded ?” cried Bessy, starting, her eyes running over me to find out where.
“ Yes, with a bullet in his leg ; I didn't like to say a word about it in the letter. But I suppose if he had been killed you would not have cared?"
“Oh, father!” cried Bessy, as she turned towards me, and I received her in my arms.
Bessy soon recovered her smiles, and thankful for our preservation and good fortune, and satisfied with our mutual affection, we passed a most happy evening. Somehow or another, Bramble having sent Mrs. Maddox on a message, found out that it was very sultry in-doors, and that he would take his pipe on the beach. He left me alone with Bessy; and now, for the first time, I plainly told her the state of my affections, and asked her to consent to be my wife. I did not plead in vain, as the reader may suppose from what he has already been made acquainted with.
After Bessy had retired, and I was sitting with Bramble, who had his glass of grog and pipe as usual, I made him acquainted with my success.
“ All right, Tom,” said he, “ I'm thankful and God bless
And had I not reason also to be thankful ? When I had retired