The East Indian Cousin by Louis Becke
Nearly eighty years ago, when the news of Napoleon's downfall at Waterloo
had not yet reached England's colonies in the Far East, a country ship
named the Nourmahal sailed from Madras for the Island of Singapore.
The object of her voyage was not known except, perhaps, to the leading
officials of the Company's establishment at Madras; but it was generally
believed that she carried certain presents from the Indian Government to
the then Sultans of Malacca, Johore, and Pahang. Sir Stamford Raffles, it
was known, had urged the occupation and fortification of Singapore as a
matter of importance to England's supremacy in the Eastern seas. And,
indeed, three years later he began the work himself.
But the presents destined for the Rajahs never reached them; for from the
day that she sailed from Madras roadstead the Nourmahal was never
heard of nor seen again; and a year later no one but the relatives of the
few Europeans on board thought any more about her. She had, it was
conjectured, foundered in a typhoon, or been captured by pirates on her
way through the Straits of Malacca.
The master of the missing ship was an Englishman named John Channing. For
twenty-five or more years he had served the East India Company well, and
his brave and determined conduct in many a sea-fight had won him not only
a high place in the esteem of the directors, but considerable wealth as
well. In those days it was not unusual for the captains of the larger
ships belonging to or chartered by the Honourable Company to accumulate
fortunes as the result of half a dozen successful voyages between England
and Calcutta, and Captain John Channing had fared as well—or even
better—than any of his fellow-captains in the service. For many
years, however, he had not visited England, as, on account of his intimate
and friendly relations with both the Portuguese and Dutch in the East
Indies, the Government kept him and his ship constantly employed in those
parts. Jealous and suspicious as were both the Dutch and Portuguese of
English influence, they yet accorded Channing privileges granted to no
other Englishman that sailed their seas. The reasons for these concessions
from the Dutch were simple enough. A Dutch war-vessel conveying treasure
to Batavia had been attacked by pirates, and in spite of a long and
gallant defence was almost at the mercy of her savage assailants when
Channing's ship came to her rescue and escorted her to port in safety.
With the Portuguese merchants he was on most friendly terms, for twenty
years before the opening of this story he had married the daughter of one
of the wealthiest of their number, who was settled at Macassar, in
Celebes. They had but one child, Adela, who when the Nourmahal
sailed from Madras was about eighteen years of age, and she, with her
mother, had accompanied her father on his last and fateful voyage. In
England the missing seaman had but one relative, a nephew named Francis
Channing, who was a lieutenant in the Marines. Nearly a year after the
departure of his uncle's ship from India, all hope of his return was
abandoned, and as he had left no will an official intimation was sent to
the young man by John Channing's Calcutta bankers, informing him of his
uncle's supposed death, and suggesting that he should either obtain a
lengthened leave or resign from the service and come out to India to
personally confer with them and the proper authorities as to the disposal
of the dead man's property, which, as the owner had died intestate, would,
of course, be inherited by his sole remaining relative. But the ship by
which this letter was sent never reached England. A week after she sailed
she was captured by a French privateer, one of several which, openly
disregarding the proclamation of peace between England and France, still
preyed upon homeward-bound merchantmen; and all the letters and despatches
found on board the captured vessel were retained by the privateer captain,
and were doubtless lost or destroyed.
Meanwhile Lieutenant Channing, quite unconscious of his good fortune, had
sailed in His Majesty's ship Triton for the Cape and East Indies.
With no influence behind him, and nothing but his scanty pay to live on,
he had nothing to hope for but that another year's or two years' service
would gain him his captaincy. Of his uncle in India he had scarcely ever
heard, for his father and John Channing had quarrelled in their early
lives, and since then had not corresponded.
Although at times quiet and reflective in his manner, his genial,
open-hearted disposition soon made the young officer of Marines a general
favourite with every one on board the Triton. The captain of the
frigate, one of those gallant old seamen who had distinguished themselves
under Nelson and Hyde Parker, knew Channing's worth and bravery well, for
they had served together in some of the bloodiest engagements that had
ever upheld the honour of England's flag. Unlike many other naval captains
who in those days were apt to regard somewhat slightingly the services
rendered by the Marines, Captain Reay was, if not an ardent admirer of the
corps, at least a warm-hearted advocate for and friend to it. Perhaps much
of the feeling of friendship shown to Channing was due to the fact that
before he joined the Triton her captain had told his officers a
story of his experiences in the West Indies, in which the officer of
Marines was the central figure. Captain Reay had been sent by the senior
officer of the squadron to demand the surrender of a fort on the Island of
Martinique, when by an act of treachery he and his boat's crew were made
prisoners and confined in the fortress, where he was treated with almost
savage brutality by the commandant. The frigate at once opened fire, but
after four hours' bombardment had failed to silence a single gun in the
fort. At midnight it was carried in an attack led by young Channing, then
a mere lad, and who, although two-thirds of his small force fell ere the
walls were reached, refused to draw back and abandon Reay and his men.
From that day Reay became his warm and sincere friend.
The best part of a year had passed since the Triton had sailed from
Portsmouth, and now, with only the faintest air filling her canvas, she
was sailing slowly along the shores of a cluster of islands, high, densely
wooded, and picturesque. They formed one of the many minor groups of the
beautiful and fertile Moluccas. Ten days before, the frigate had left
Banda, and, impelled upon her course by but the gentlest breezes, had
crept slowly northward towards Ternate, where Captain Reay was touching
for letters before reporting himself to the Admiral at Singapore. On the
quarter-deck a party of officers were standing together looking over the
side at the wonders of the coral world, over which the ship was passing.
For many hours the Triton had sailed thus, through water as clear
as crystal, revealing full sixty feet below the dazzling lights and
ever-changing shadows of the uneven bottom. Now and again she would pass
over a broad arena of sand, gleaming white amid encircling walls of living
coral many-hued, and gently swaying weed and sponge of red and yellow,
which, though so far below, seemed to rise and touch the frigate's keel
and then with quivering motion sink again astern. And as the ship's great
hull cast her darkening shadow deep down through the transparency, swarms
of brightly coloured fishes, red and blue and purple and shining gold, and
banded and striped in every conceivable manner, darted away on either side
to hide awhile in the moving caverns of weed that formed their refuge from
predatory enemies. So slowly was the frigate moving, and so clear was the
water, that sometimes as she sailed over a valley of glistening sand the
smallest coloured pebble or fragment of broken coral could be as clearly
discerned upon the snowy floor as if it lay embedded in a sheet of
flawless crystal; and then again the quivering walls of weed and sponge
would seem to rise ahead as if to bar her way, then slowly sink astern in
the frigate's soundless wake.
But if the strange world beneath was wondrous and fascinating to look
upon, that around was even more so. Three miles away on the starboard hand
a group of green and fertile islands shone like emeralds in the morning
sun. Leaning over the rail, Francis Channing gazed at their verdant
heights and palm-fringed beaches of yellow sand with a feeling but little
short of rapture to a man with a mind so beauty-loving and poetic as was
his. Familiar to the wild bloom and brilliance of the West Indian islands,
the soft tropical beauty of the scene now before him surpassed all he had
ever seen, and, oblivious of the presence and voices of his brother
officers as they conversed near him, he became lost in reflective and
pleased contemplation of the radiant panorama of land, sea, and almost
cloudless sky around him. Thirty miles away, yet so distinctly defined in
the clear atmosphere that it seemed but a league distant from the ship, a
perfect volcanic cone stood abruptly up from out the deep blue sea, and
from its sharp-pointed summit a pillar of darkly-coloured smoke had risen
skywards since early morn; but now as the wind died away it slowly spread
out into a wide canopy of white, and then sank lower and lower till the
pinnacle of the mountain was enveloped in its fleecy mantle.
As the young officer watched the changes of the smoky pall that proclaimed
the awful and mysterious forces slumbering deep down in the bosom of the
earth, he was suddenly aroused from his reflective mood by the shrill
whistles and hoarse cries of the boatswain's mates, and in another minute
the watch began to shorten sail: a faint greenish tinge in the western
sky, quickly noted by the master, who was an old sailor in Eastern seas,
told of danger from that quarter.
Although the typhoon season had not yet set in, and both Captain Reay and
the master knew that in that latitude (about 4 deg. south) there was not
very much probability of meeting with one, every preparation was made, as
violent squalls and heavy rain, at least, were certain to follow the
greenish warning in the sky. In a very short time their surmise proved
correct, for by four in the afternoon the Triton under short
canvas, was battling with a mountainous sea and furious gusts of wind from
the W.N. W. The presence of so much land around them, surrounded by
networks of outlying reefs, the strong and erratic currents, and the
approaching night, gave Captain Reay much concern, and it was with a
feeling of intense relief that he acceded to the master's suggestion to
bring the ship to an anchor in a harbour situated among the cluster of
islands that the ship had passed early in the day.
"We can lie there as snugly as if we were in dock," said the master; "the
holding ground is good, and there is room for half a dozen line-of-battle
ships." Then, pointing to the chart lying before him, he added, "The place
is called Tyar, and, curiously enough, was first made known to the Admiral
at Calcutta by a Captain Channing, one or the Company's men. This plan of
the harbour is a copy of the one he made ten years ago."
"Channing's uncle, very probably," said Captain Reay, who had been told by
his Marine officer that he had an unknown uncle in the Company's service.
"Very well, Mr. Dacre, let us get in there by all means. I am most anxious
to see the ship out of this before darkness sets in and we get piled up on
A mighty downpour of rain, which fell upon the frigate's deck like a
waterspout, cut short all further speech by its deafening tumult, and
although it lasted but a few minutes, it killed the fury of the squall to
such an extent that the ship, unsteadied by her canvas, rolled so
violently that no one could keep his feet. Suddenly the torrent ceased,
and a short, savage, and gasping puff struck and almost sent her over on
her beam-ends, then swept away as quickly as it came, to be followed a
minute later by another almost as fierce but of longer duration.
Without further loss of time the reefs were shaken out of the topsails,
for darkness was coming on, and, wearing ship at a favourable opportunity,
the Triton kept away for Mr. Dacre's harbour. The wind, now blowing with
steady force, sent her through the confused and lumpy sea at such a speed
that before sundown she ran through the entrance to the harbour, and,
bringing to under a high, wooded bluff, dropped anchor in ten fathoms of
water, quite close to a narrow strip of beach that fringed the shores of a
The place in the immediate vicinity of the ship appeared to be
uninhabited, but as darkness came on, a glimmer of lights appeared along
the shore some miles away, and at daylight a number of fishing prahus
approached the frigate, at first with hesitation, but when they were
hailed by the master in their own tongue, and told that the ship was
English, they came alongside and bartered their fish. They assured the
master that the stormy weather was sure to continue for some days, until
the moon quartered, and Captain Reay was pleased to learn from them that a
certain amount of provisions, fish, vegetables, and fruit, would be
brought off daily to the ship for sale.
The wind still blew with violence, and although the ship lay in water as
smooth as a mill-pond, the narrow strip of open ocean visible from her
decks was whipped foaming white with its violence.
In their conversation with the master, the natives had told him that at a
village some miles away from where the Triton was anchored, there was a
white man and his wife living—French people, so they said. A year
before, a French privateer, running before a heavy gale and a wild,
sweeping sea, had struck upon the barrier reef of one of the outer
low-lying islands of the group, and, carried over it by the surf, had
foundered in the lagoon inside. Only ten people were saved, and among them
were the Frenchman and his wife. Two months afterwards eight of the male
survivors took passage in a prahu belonging to the Sultan of Batchian,
having heard that there was a French ship refitting at that island.
"Why did the two others remain?" asked Mr. Dacre.
The natives laughed. "Ah! the one man who stayed was a clever man. When
the prahu from Batchian came here he said he was sick, and that his wife
feared to sail so far in a small prahu. He would wait, he said, till a
"And then?" asked Dacre.
"And then, after the other Frenchmen had gone, he came to our head man and
said that if they would keep faith with him he would make them rich, for
he knew that which none else knew. So he and they made a bond to keep
faith with one another, and that day he took them to where the ship had
sunk, and pointing to where she lay beneath the water he said: 'Is there
any among ye who can dive down so far?' They laughed, for the wreck was
but ten single arm lengths below, and then they said: 'Is this where thy
riches lie? Of what use to us is this sunken ship, save for the guns on
"Then he said: 'In that ship is gold and silver money enough to cover as a
carpet the beach that lies in front of the village, but to get it the
decks must be torn up. I, who was second in command, know where the
treasure lieth in the belly of the ship. Now let us talk together and make
a plan whereby we can get this money. It was for this I lied to those who
have gone and said I was sick.'
"Then as soon as the tides were low, the Frenchman and the head men made
rafts of bamboos and timber, and floating them on the wreck they took
thick ropes of rattan, and divers went down and lashed the ends thereof to
the cross-beams under the decks. Then when this was done more bamboos were
added to the rafts above, and as the tide flowed the rattan ropes stood up
like iron bars. For two days the people worked at this, and yet the decks
kept firm, but on the third day a great piece tore out, and the sunken
rafts sprang to the surface. And then the divers again went down, and by
and by they brought up money in bags of canvas, and wooden boxes. And half
of which was gotten up the Tuan took, and half he gave to the head men,
according to the bond. And much more money is yet in the ship, for it is
only when the water is clear and the current is not swift can we dive. Yet
every time do we get money."
"The rascal!" said Captain Reay, when Dacre translated this. "I suppose
this money was from plundered English prizes. Only that we are at peace
with France, I'd like to take every coin from both the piratical scoundrel
himself and his Malay partners. And, indeed, if the Triton were not
a King's ship, I'd send a boat there and take it now. But I suppose I
can't interfere—confound the fellow!—now that we are at peace
The wind was still blowing with great force, and as there appeared no
prospect of the weather breaking for another day or two, Captain Reay and
his officers made preparations for excursions into the country. The
natives showed a very great friendliness towards the Triton's
people, and at about ten in the morning two boats left the ship for the
shore, and Channing, accompanied by one of his Marines, who carried a
fowling-piece, set out by themselves along the winding path that encircled
the narrow littoral of the island off which the frigate lay. The captain
had ordered that the shore party was not to remain later than sunset; so,
determined to see as much of the place as possible, Channing and Private
Watts set off at a brisk pace. A three hours' walk brought them to the
windward side of the island, and then emerging from the palm-shaded path,
they suddenly came upon the principal village of the island. Their
appearance was hailed by the natives with every manifestation of pleasure,
and a number of young men escorted them to the house of the principal head
man, where they offered a simple repast of fish and fruit, and small drams
of arrack served in coconut shells.
Leaving Private Watts to amuse himself with the villagers, who apparently
took much interest in his uniform and accoutrements, Francis Channing set
out for a walk. The path led along through the sweet-smelling tropical
forest at about a cable's length from the shore, and then suddenly emerged
upon a little cove, the beach of which was strewn with wreckage; spars,
hempen cables, and other ship's gear covering the sand at high-water mark.
Several rudely constructed rafts of wreckage, timber, and bamboo, were
moored a little distance off, and Channing at once surmised that the spot
was used as a landing-place by the wreckers working at the sunken
As he stood looking about him, uncertain whether to go on or turn back, a
man approached him from a house that stood at the furthest point of the
bay, and saluted him politely in French.
"I presume, sir," he said, as he bowed and extended his hand to the
Englishman, "that you are one of the officers from the English frigate
anchored at Tyar. I have heard that peace has been declared between our
two nations, and I rejoice."
Channing made a suitable reply, and gazed with interest at the stranger,
who was a handsome man of less than twenty-five years of age, dressed in a
rough suit of blue jean, and wearing a wide-rimmed hat of plaited straw.
His face was tanned a rich brown by the Eastern sun; and rough and coarse
as was his attire, his address and manner showed him to be a man of
education and refinement.
He seemed somewhat discomposed when Channing, in a very natural manner,
asked him the name of his ship, and answered—
"L'Aigle Noir, Monsieur, and my name is Armand Le Mescam."
"I have heard her name mentioned by our master," said the Marine officer,
with a smile. "He has had the honour of serving in many engagements
against your country's ships in these seas, in which our ships have not
always secured a victory."
The Frenchman bowed and smiled, and then, feeling no doubt that he could
do so with safety to himself, and that even if the cause of his presence
on the island were known to the Tritons people that he would suffer
no molestation, invited Channing to walk to his house and take a glass of
"Ah!" said Channing, with a laugh; "then you have got wine as well as
money from the wreck of L' Aigle Noir."
The Frenchman's face darkened, and he stopped short.
"You know then, Monsieur, the reason of my remaining on this island?"
"I have heard," answered Channing frankly; and then, noticing the
agitation expressed on the Frenchman's face, he added, "but that does not
concern me, nor indeed any one else on board the Triton—not
now, at any rate, since France and England are at peace."
Monsieur Le Mescam seemed greatly relieved at hearing this, and in another
minute, chatting gaily to his visitor, led the way into his house. The
building was but little better than an ordinary native dwelling, but it
was furnished with rude couches and seats made from the wreckage of the
privateer, and scattered about were many articles, such as weapons,
crockery, cooking utensils, clothing, &c. Two or three native
servants, who were lounging about, at once presented themselves to their
master, and one of them, bringing a small keg, filled two silver cups with
wine, and Channing and his host, bowing politely to each other, drank.
For some little time the two men conversed pleasantly, and then the
Frenchman, who so far had avoided all allusion to the treasure, offered to
conduct his guest a part of the way back to the native village. That he
had not presented Channing to his wife did not surprise the latter, who
imagined that she could scarcely be clothed in a befitting manner to meet
a stranger, and he therefore did not even let his host know that he was
aware of his wife being with him on the island.
Drinking a parting cup of wine together, the two men set out, the
Frenchman leading the way past a number of sheds built of bamboos, and
covered with atap thatch. As they reached the last of these buildings,
which stood almost at the water's edge, they came upon a woman who was
sitting, with her back turned to them, under the shade of the overhanging
thatched eaves, nursing a child.
In a moment she rose to her feet and faced them, and rough and coarsely
clad as she was, Channing was struck by her great beauty and her sad and
For a moment the Frenchman hesitated, and with a quick "Sit you there,
Adela, I shall return shortly," was turning away again with Channing, when
they heard the woman's voice calling in French, "Adrian, come back!" and
then in another moment she added in English, as she saw Channing walking
on, "And you, sir, in Heaven's name, do not leave me! I am an
In an instant Channing turned, and quick as lightning the Frenchman, whose
face was dark with passion, barred his way—"Monsieur, as an
honourable man, will not attempt to speak to my wife when I request him
not to do so."
"And I beg of you, sir, as my fellow-countryman, not to desert me. I am
indeed an Englishwoman. My father's ship was captured, plundered, and then
sunk by a French privateer, within sight of Malacca. Both he and my mother
are dead, and I was forced to marry that man there," and she pointed
scornfully through her tears to Le Mescam. "His captain, who I thought had
some honour, promised to set me ashore at Manila, but when we reached
there I was kept on board, and, ill and scarce able to speak, was married
to Lieutenant Le Mescam, against my will, by a Spanish priest. Oh, sir,
for the sake of my father, who was an English sailor, help me!"
Channing sprang towards her. "Madam, I am an Englishman, and there is a
King's ship not four miles away. You, sir"—and he turned to the
Frenchman, whose handsome face was now distorted with passion—"shall
answer for your cowardly conduct, or I very much mistake the character of
the gallant officer under whom I have the honour to serve. Ha!" And with
sudden fury he seized Le Mescam's right arm, the hand of which had grasped
a pistol in the bosom of his coat. "You cowardly, treacherous hound!" and
wrenching the weapon from his grasp, he struck the Frenchman in the face
with it, and sent him spinning backward upon the sand, where he lay
Then Charming turned to the woman, who, trembling in every limb, was
leaning against the side of the house. "Madam, I shall return to the ship
at once. Will you come with me now, or shall I go on first? That our
captain will send a boat for you within an hour you may rely on. He will
take quick action in such a matter as this. If you fear to remain alone, I
shall with pleasure escort you on board now."
"No, no," she pleaded; "he," and she pointed to the prone figure of the
Frenchman, "would never hurt me; and I cannot leave him like this—I
cannot forget that, wicked and cruel as he has been to me, he is the
father of my child. Return, sir, I pray you, to your ship, and if you can
help me to escape from my unhappy position, do so. Were it not for the
money that my husband is employed in getting from the sunken privateer, my
lot would not have been so hard, for he would have returned with the other
survivors to Batchian; and from there, by the weight of my poor father's
name, I could easily have escaped to Macassar, where my mother's relatives
"Do not fear then, Madam," said Channing kindly, "I shall leave you now,
but rest assured that a few hours hence you shall be among your own
countrymen once more." Then as two native women appeared, as if searching
for their mistress, he raised his hat and walked quickly away.
Armand Le Mescam, with the bitterest rage depicted on his swarthy
features, rose to his feet, and instead of returning to his house went
slowly along towards one of his storehouses, without even glancing at his
wife, who stood watching him from where Channing had left her. In a few
moments she saw his figure vanishing among the palms, but not so quickly
but that she perceived he carried a musket.
His intention was easy to divine, and with a despairing look in her eyes,
she began to run after him, carrying the infant in her arms.
Private Watts, meanwhile, had very much enjoyed himself with the natives,
who, by reason of the Polynesian strain in their blood, were a merry,
demonstrative, joyous people, unlike most of the Malayan race, who are
much the reverse, especially towards strangers. For some time he had been
watching the native boys throwing darts at a target, and his attempts to
emulate their skill aroused much childish merriment. Suddenly the
lengthening shadows of the surrounding palms recalled him to the fact that
it was getting late, so bidding goodbye to his entertainers, he shouldered
his fowling-piece and set off to meet his master, taking the same path as
that by which Lieutenant Channing had left him. Half an hour's walk
brought him to a spot where the path lay between the thick forest jungle
on one side and the open beach on the other, with here and there jagged
clumps of broken coral rock covered with a dense growth of vines and
Three or four hundred yards away he could see the tall figure of
Lieutenant Channing walking quickly along the path; and so, sitting down
upon a little strip of grassy sward that skirted the beach side of the
track, the soldier awaited his master.
With the approach of sunset the wind had fallen, and though a mile or two
away the thundering surges leapt with loud and resounding clamour upon the
barrier reef, only the gentlest ripple disturbed the placid water of the
sheltered lagoon. Overhead the broad leaves of the coco-palms, towering
above the darker green of the surrounding vegetation, drooped languidly to
the calm of the coming night, and great crested grey and purple-plumaged
pigeons lit with crooning note upon their perches to rest.
As he lay there, lazily enjoying the beauty of the scene, the soldier
heard the loud, hoarse note and whistling and clapping of a hornbill, and,
turning his head, he saw the huge-beaked, ugly bird, rising in alarm from
one of the vine-covered boulders of coral which stood between the path and
high-water mark not thirty yards away, and at the same moment he caught a
gleam of something bright that seemed to move amid the dense green tangle
that covered the rock; and then a man's head and shoulders appeared for a
second in full view. His back was turned to Watts, who now saw, with a
vague feeling of wonder, that he was kneeling, and peering cautiously out
upon the path below. Further along Watts could see his master, now within
a hundred feet of the boulder, and walking very quickly. Then an
exclamation of horror broke from him as the kneeling man slowly rose, and
pointed his musket full at Channing; but ere the treacherous hand could
pull the trigger, the Marine had levelled his piece and fired; without a
cry the man spun round, and then pitched headlong to the ground at
"My God, sir!" panted Watts, as a few seconds later he stood beside his
master, who was gazing with stupefied amazement at the huddled-up figure
of Armand Le Mescam, who lay with his face turned upward, and a dark
stream trickling from his mouth, "I was only just in time. He had you
covered at ten paces when I fired."
Le Mescam never spoke again. The shot had struck him in the back and
passed through his chest. As the two men bent over him, a woman carrying a
child burst through the jungle near them, sank exhausted on her knees
beside the dead man, and then fainted.
There was much excitement when the last boat returned to the Triton
pulling as her crew had never pulled before. Then there was a rush of
pig-tailed bluejackets to the gangway, as a murmuring whisper ran along
the decks that the "soger officer was comin' aboard holdin' a woman in his
arms," and the news was instantly conveyed to the captain, who was that
evening dining with his officers, with the result that as the cutter ran
up alongside, Captain Reay, the master, and half a dozen other officers
were standing on the main deck.
"By Heavens, gentlemen, it's true!" cried Captain Reay to the others.
"Here, show more light at the gangway!"
And then amid a babble of excitement, Lieutenant Channing, pale, hatless,
and excited, ascended the gangway, carrying in his arms a woman whose
white face and dark hair stood clearly revealed under the blaze of lights
held aloft by the seamen. As he touched the deck, the sleeping babe in her
arms awoke, and uttered a wailing cry.
"Take her to my cabin, Channing," said Reay, without waiting to question
him. "Here! give me the youngster, quick! Sentry, pass the word for the
The moment the officers had disappeared a buzz of talk hummed, and Private
Watts was besieged with questions. "Give us a tot, an' I'll tell ye all
about it, afore I'm sent for by the captain," was his prompt answer; and
then swallowing the generous draught provided him, he told his story in as
few words as possible.
A big, bony sergeant slapped him on the shoulder, "Mon, ye'll hae your
stripes for this."
"Ay, that he will," said a hairy-chested boatswain. "Well, it's a uncommon
curious ewent: this 'ere young covey goes a-shootin', and bags a
Frenchman, and the soger officer brings a hangel and a cherrybim aboard."
The officers of the Triton sat long over their wine that night, and
Lieutenant Channing was the recipient of much merry badinage; but there
was behind it all a sincere feeling of joy that he had escaped such a
treacherous death. Private Watts being sent for, was excused by the Scotch
sergeant, who gravely reported that he was bad in the legs, whereat the
officers laughed, and straightway made up a purse of guineas for him.
Suddenly, as Captain Reay entered, the babble ceased.
"Gentlemen, let Mr. Channing turn in; he wants rest. The lady and her baby
are now sound asleep. She has told me her strange story. To-morrow, Mr.
West, you can take a boat's crew, and bring aboard a large sum of money
concealed in a spot of which I shall give you an exact description. It
belongs to this lady undoubtedly, now that Watts's lucky shot has settled
her ruffianly husband."
Two days after, the frigate had cleared her harbour of refuge, and was
bowling along on her course for Ternate when Captain Reay sent for
Lieutenant Channing to come to his cabin.
"Channing," he said, taking his hand with a smile, "it is my happy lot to
give you what I know will prove a joyful surprise. This lady"—and he
bowed to Mrs. Le Mescam, who was sitting looking at him with a bright
expectancy in her dark eyes—"is your own cousin, Adela Channing.
There, I'll leave you now. She has much to tell you, poor girl; I have
decided to go straight to the Admiral at Singapore instead of touching at
Ternate, and if old Cardew is worth his salt he'll give you leave to take
her to Calcutta."
Of course, Channing and Adela fell in love with each other, and he duly
married the lady, and when they reached England he received the news of
the inheritance that had fallen to him by John Channing's death.
Ex-Sergeant Watts, of the Marines, followed his master when he retired
from the Service, and was for long the especial guardian of the
"cherubim," as Adela Channing's eldest boy had been named by the Triton's
people—until other sons and daughters appeared to claim his