« AnteriorContinuar »
terms Fitzgerald, being without means of liquidating the debt, consented, and they sailed accordingly. “And now, Jack, I will tell you why I was so curious about that spy-glass. I knew the moment that I saw it in your hands that it was one that belonged to Fitzgerald when we were on our first cruise together. It was the best glass I ever met with. When we left Liverpool this time, I asked him for the spy-glass, and he told me that, expecting to return to his wife before he sailed, he had left it at home. How it came into the lady's hands I can't tell.” “I never said that Lady Hercules gave it to me,” replied I, “ although I did not undeceive you when you thought so. The fact is, it was given me by a very pretty young Irish widow.” “ Then, Jack, I should not wonder if she was not the wife of Fitzgerald, whom I have been talking about; but that I leave to you. Let me finish my story. When we arrived on the Spanish coast, I had as fine a crew with me as ever were on board of a vessel ; but I had long made up my mind that I would hoist the black flag. Yes, Jack, it is but too true. But when I proposed it, Fitzgerald declared that the first act of piracy that was committed he would leave the vessel. I tried all I could to persuade him, but in vain. However, we did take an English vessel, and plundered her. Upon this Fitzgerald protested, and half the crew, at least, joined him. I threatened the men to shoot them through the head; but they were resolute; and, being rather the stronger party, I dared not make any attempt. They insisted upon leaving the 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.
he continued, “I had ordered a Fessel 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 vengeanco upon Fitzgerald. But I must leave off now. Here comes tho 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-nuorrow.”
After a pause
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 Janes, 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 cry 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 ber 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 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 crow 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 remorsealthough 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, Jackbring that to me, and so may you receive forgiveness yourself!"
“I will, Spicer,” replied 1; "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.