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was, generally speaking, very morose and savage to everybody; seldom entered into conversation ; but sat apart, as if thinking, with a frown upon his countenance, and his eyes, surmounted with bushy eyebrows, fixed upon the ground. The pensioners who belonged to the same ward said that he talked in his sleep, and from what they could collect at those times he must have been a pirate : but no one dared to speak to him on the subject, for more than once he had been punished for striking those who had offended him: indeed, he nearly killed one old man who was jesting with him when he was at work, havirg made a stab at him with his knife screwed in his socket; but his foot slipped, and the blow missed. Spicer was brought up before the Council for this offence, and would have been discharged, had he not declared that he had done it only by way of a joke, to frighten thc man; and, as no one else was present, it could not be proved to the contrary. For some reason or another, which I could not comprehend, Spicer appeared to have taken a liking to me; he would call me to him, and tell me stories about the West Indies and the Spanish Main, which I listened to very cagerly, for they were to me very interesting. But he seldom, if ever, spoke to me inside of the Hospital; it was always when I was at the steps minding my vocation ; where he would come down and lean over the rail at the top of the wharf. He made and gave me a boat-hook, which I found very convenient. He had a great deal of information, and, as the ships came up the river. he would point out thio fings of the different nations, tell me where they traded from, and what their cargocs probably consisted of. If they had no ensign, he would tell by their build, and the cut of their sails, what nation they belonged to; pointing out to me the differences, which I soon began to perceive. He had been in every part of the world ; and scarcely a day passed in which I did not gain from him some amusing or useful information. Indeed, I became so fond of his company that Peter Anderson spoke to me on the subject, and asked me what Spicer talked about. I told him, and he replied,
“Well, Jack, I dare say that he is a very pleasant companion to one who, like you, is so anxious for information, and I have nothing to say against him, for we have no right to listen to foolish reports which may probably have been raised from his savage appearance. Still, I confess, I do not like the man, as he is decidedly of a violent temper. As long as he talks to you about what you say he does, there is no harm done; but when once he says anything which you think is wrong, promise me to let me know : and even now, if you will take my advice, you will not be so intimate with him.”
A little while afterwards, my father and Ben the whaler both spoke to me on the same subject, but with much less reservation.
My father said,
“ Jack, I don't like to see you always in company with that old pirate; no good can come of it; so haul off a little further for the future.” And Ben told me,
“That a man who couldn't sleep o’nights without talking of killing people must have a bad conscience. and something lying heavy on his soul. There's an old saying, Jack - Tell me whose company you keeps, and I'll tell you what sort of a chap you be.' You've the character of a good honest boy ;-steer clear of Sam Spicer, or you'll lose it.”
Admonitions from all those whom I loved were not without their effect; and I made a resolution to be less intimate with Spicer. But it was difficult to do so, as I was obliged to be at the landing-steps, and could not prevent his coming there.
I acknowledge that it was a severe privation to me to follow the injunctions given to me; for I would listen for hours to the thrilling narratives, the strange and almost incredible accounts of battles, incidents, and wild adventures, which this man Spicer would relate to me; and when I thought over them, I felt that the desire to rove was becoming more strong within me every day. One morning I said to him that “I had a great mind to go on board of a manof-war.”
“On board of a man-of-war ?" replied Spicer; "you'd soon be sick encugh of that. Why, who would be at the beck and nod of others, ordered here, called there, by boy midshipmen; bullied by lieutenants; flogged by captains; have all the work and little of the pay, all the fighting and less of the prize-money; and, after having worn out your life in hard scrvice, be sent here as a great favour, to wear a cocked-hat, and get a shilling a week for your 'baccy ? Pshaw! boy--that's not life.”
“Then, what is life?" inquired I. “What is life? Wly, to sail in a clipper, with a
jolly crew and a roving commission; take your prizes, share and share alike, of gold dust and doubloons.”
“But what sort of vessel must that be, Spicer ?”
" What sort? why-a letter of marque-a privateer --a cruise on the Spanish Main—that's life. Many's the jolly day I've seen in those latitudes, wbere menof-war do not bring vessels to and press the best inen out of them. There the sun's warm, and the sky and the sea are deep blue-and the corals grow like forests underneath, and there are sandy coves and cool caves for retreat--and where you may hide your gold till you want it-ay, and your sweethearts too, if you
“I thought privateers always sent their prizes into port, to be condemned ?"
“ Yes, in the Channel and these seas they do, but not down there; it's too far off. We condemn the vessels ourselves, and share the money on the capstan head."
“ But is that lawful ?”
“Lawful ; to be sure it is. Could we spare men to send prizes home to England, and put them into the hands of a rascally agent, who would rob us of threefourths at least ? No, no—that would never do. If I could have escaped from the man-of-war which picked up me and four others, who were adrift in 'an open boat, I would now have been on the Coast. But when I lost my fin, I knew that all was over with me; so I came to the Hospital : but I often think of old times, and the life of a rover. Now, have any thoughts of going to sea, look out for some vessel bound to the Gold Coast, and then you'll soon get in the right way." “ The Gold Coast ?-Is not that where the slavers
“ Yes, slavers, and other vessels besides : somo traffic for ivory and gold dust; however, that's as may happen. You'd soon find yourself in good company; and wouldn't that be better than begging here for halfpence? I would be above that, at all events."
This remark, the first of the kind ever made to me, stung me to the quick. Strange, I had never before considered myself in the light of a beggar; and yet, was I not so, just as much as a sweeper of a crossing?
“A beggar ?" replied I.
"Yes, a beggar; don't you beg for halfpence, and say, • Thank your honour; a copper for poor Jack, your honour ?'” rejoined Spicer, mimicking me. “When I see that pretty sister of yours, that looks so like a real lady, I often thinks to niyself, · Fine and smart as you are, miss, your brother's only a beggar. Now, would you not like to return from a cruise with a bag of doubloons to throw into her lap, proving that you are a gentleman, and above coppers thrown to you out of charity? Well, old as I am, and maimed, I'd sooner starve where I now stand- -but I must be off; so good-bye, Jack-look sharp after the halfpence.”
As Spicer walked away, my young blood boiled. A beggar !—it was but too true—and yet I had never hought it a disgrace before. I sat down on the steps, and was soon in deep thought. Boat after boat came to the stairs, and yet I stirred not. Not one halfpenny did I take during the remainder of that day: for I could not-would not ask for one. My pride, hitherto latent, was roused; and before I rose from