Jack Among the Mummies by the Old Sailor

"The times have been
That when the brains were out the man would die,
And there an end: but now they rise again
With twenty mortal murders on their crowns,
To push us from our stools."

Shakspeare.

A strange sail is always a matter of interest in a ship of war; and no sooner was the canvass set in chase of the brig mentioned in my last, than the forecastle of the Spankaway received its usual group of yarn-spinners, anxious to ascertain the character of the stranger, and what amount of prize-money was likely to be shared in case of her carrying an enemy's flag. There was our old friend Jack Sheavehole, together with Joe Nighthead, Bob Martingal, Bill Buntline, and several others; and occasionally the warrant-officers, and even the mate of the watch, stopped to chime in with a few words, so as to give life to their conversation.

"It bothers my univarsal knowledge," said old Savage, the boatswain, "to make out what lay the skipper's on; and as for the chase, mayhap she mayn't turn out to be moonshine arter all."

"How moonshine?" returned Mr. Bracebit, the carpenter; "she's plain enough to be seen, and they've made her out to be a brig: there can be no moonshine in that, anyhow."

"But I tell you there is moonshine in it," persevered the boatswain, "a complete bag o' moonshine, unless you can diskiver the right bearings and distance o' the thing. I tell you what it is, Mr. Bracebit, I arn't been these many years man and boy in the sarvice——"

"You should say boy and man, old Pipes," exclaimed the mate of the watch as he stopped short in his walk by the veteran's side.

"And why should I say boy and man, instead of man and boy, Mr. Winterbottom?" demanded old Savage in anger.

"Because, according to your own maxim, everything should be done ship-shape," replied the other; "and you was a boy before you was a man."

"He has him there," whispered Jack Sheavehole to his messmate Bob. "I'm bless'd if that arn't plain-sailing, anyhow!"

"Ship-shape do you call it?" answered the boatswain wrathfully.

"Ay, ay, Muster Winterbottom, mayhap it may be according to your calculations of the jometry of the thing. It's nothing new now-a-days to see the boy put forud afore the man;" and he laid strong emphasis on the latter words.

"There he hit him again, Jack," observed Bob Martingal in a whisper; "and I'm blowed if there arn't Gospel truth in that, anyhow!"

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Joe Nighthead and the Mummies

"Well, well, don't be angry, old friend," said Mr. Winterbottom, himself somewhat offended; "there's no occasion for being hot upon it; but, if you are, you may go to —— and cool yourself!"

"And a precious queer place that 'ud be for a cold-bath," said the carpenter: "but let's have no contentions, gentlemen. What do you take the brig to be, Mr. Winterbottom?"

"A ship with her mizen-mast out, bound to Bombay, with a cargo of warming-pans," replied the young officer.

"That arn't being over civil, anyhow," whispered Bob to his messmate; "though mayhap they may want warming-pans in Bumbay as much as they do in the West Ingees. To my thinking, she's a treasure-craft laden with mummies."

"Did you ever fall athwart any o' them there hanimals, Bob?" inquired Joe Nighthead.

"What hanimals do you mean, Joe?" returned Martingal. "For my part, I've seen a little somut of everything."

"I means the mummies," replied Joe, as he squatted down in amidships just before the foremast, in preparation for a yarn, and was soon surrounded by the rest;—"I means the mummies, my boyo."

"No; can't say as I have," answered Bob; "though I've heard somut about 'em, too:—what rig are they?"

"Why, for the matter o' that," said Joe, laughing, "they're broomstick-rig as soon as they makes a brush of it; but I'm blow'd if I hadn't onest as pretty a spree with a whole fleet of mummies as ever any man could fall aboard of in this world, or t'other either."

"What was it, Joe?" asked the boatswain's mate eagerly. "Pay it out handsomely, messmate; but don't pitch us any of Bob's devil's consarns;—let's have it all truth and honesty."

"I'd scorn to deceive you, Jack, or anybody else o' my shipmates wot's seamen," responded Joe reproachfully. "It's all as true as the skipper's a lord, and looks, alongside o' Johnny Cropoh there, like a man alongside of a—But, there,—it arn't honourable to make delusions; and so, shipmates, here goes for a yarn. I was coxswain in the pinnace of the ould Ajax, the Honourable Captain Cochrane, at that 'ere time when Sir Richard Bickerton took command of the fleet, and a flotilla was employed in co-operating with the troops again' Alexandria. Well, shipmates, I was always fond of a bit of gab; and so, the night we lay at a grapplin', waiting for daylight to begin the attack, my officer gets to talking about the place, and what a grand consarn it was in former days for gould and jewels, and sich like; and thinks I to myself, mayhap the Lords of the Admirality will take all that 'ere into account in regard o' the prize-money: and then he overhauls a good deal about the hobbylisks and Clipsypaddyree's Needle, and what not, that I'm blow'd if it didn't quite bamfoozle my larning. Well, we'd four or five days' hard work in the fighting way, and then there was a truce, and my officer run the pinnace aboard of a French prize laden with wine and brandy; so we starts the water out of one of the breakers and fills it with the real stuff, and I man-handled a pair of sodgers' canteens chock-full; and the prize-master, Muster Handsail, an old shipmate of mine, gives me a two-gallon keg to my own cheek, and I stows 'em all snug and safe abaft in the box, and kivers 'em up with my jacket to keep 'em warm. Well, it was just getting dusk in the evening when the skipper claps us alongside, and orders the leftenant to land me well up the lake, so as I might carry a letter from him across to a shore party as manned one of the heavy batteries away inland, at the back of the town.

"Now, in course, shipmates, I warn't by no manner o' means piping my eye to get a cruise on terror firmer, seeing as mayhap I might chance to pick up some 'o' the wee things aboot the decks' as likely wud get me a bottle o' rum in England,—for, my thoughts kept running on the gould and jewels the leftenant spun the yarn about, and I'd taken a pretty good whack of brandy aboard the prize, though I warn't not in the least tosticated, but ounly a little helevated, just enough to make me walk steady and comfortable. So we run the boat's nose on to the beach, and I catches up my jacket and my canteens, leaving the keg to the marcy of Providence, and strongly dubersome in my mind that I had bid it an etarnal farewell. Howsomever, I shins away with my two canteens filled chock ablock; and 'Bear a hand, Joel' says the leftenant, 'though I'm blessed if I know what course you're to take, seeing as it's getting as dark as a black fellow's phisog.'—'Never fear, yer honour,' says I; 'ounly let me catch sight o' Clipsypaddyree's Needle for a landmark, and I'm darned if I won't find myself somewhere, anyhow;' and away I starts, shipmates, hand over hand, happy go lucky—all's one to Joe! But it got darker and darker, and the wind came down in sudden gusts, like a marmaid a-sighing; so, to clear my eyes, and keep all square, I was in course compelled to take a nip every now and then out of the canteen, till at last it got so dark, and the breeze freshened into a stiff gale, that the more I took to lighten my way and enable me to steer a straight course, I'm blessed, shipmates, if I didn't grow more dizzy; and as for my headway, why, I believes I headed to every point in the compass:—it was the dark night and the cowld breeze as did it, messmates."

"No doubt in the world on it, Joe," assented Jack Sheavehole; "for if anything could have kept you in good sailing trim, it was the brandy, and the more especially in token o' your drinking it neat;—them dark nights do play the very devil with a fellow's reckoning ashore, in regard of the course and distance, and makes him as apt to steer wild, like a hog in a squall."

"You're right, Jack," continued Nighthead; "and anybody as hears you, may know you speaks from experience o' the thing. Howsomever, there I was,—not a sparkler abroad in the heavens, not a beacon to log my bearings by; and, as I said afore, there I was in a sort of no-man's-land, backing and filling to drop clear of shoals, sometimes just at touch-and-go, and then brought-up all standing, like a haystack a-privateering. At last the weather got into a downright passion, with thunder, lightning, and hail; and 'I'm blessed, Joe,' says I to myself, 'if snug moorings under some kiver or other, if it's ounly a strip o' buntin', wouldn't be wastly superior to this here!' But there was no roadstead nor place of shelter, and the way got more rougherer and rougherer, in regard o' the wrecks of ould walls and ould buildings, till I'm blessed if I didn't think I was getting into the latitude and longitude of the dominions of the 'long-shore Davy Jones."

"My eyes, Joe!" exclaimed Martingal, replenishing his quid from an ample "'bacca" box, "but you was hard up, my boy!"

"Indeed and I was, Bob," responded the other; "and I'm blowed if every thing as I seed about me didn't begin to dance jigs and hornpipes to the whistling of the wind, that I thought all manner of bedevilment had come over me, and so I tries to dance too, to keep 'em company. But it wouldn't do, shipmates, and I capsizes in a sudden squall, and down I went, headforemost."

"It's precious bad work that, Joe," said the old boatswain's mate, shaking his head. "A fellow in an open sea may do somut to claw to wind'ard; but when you're dead upon a lee-shore, it's time to look for your bag. But what did you do, Joe?"

"Why, what could I do, shipmate, but to take another nip at the canteen," responded Joe; "it was all I had in life to hould on by, with a heavy gale strong enough to blow the devil's horns off, and the breakers all round me: my eyes! but it was a reg'lar sneezer. 'Howsomever,' thinks I, 'it won't do, Joe, to be hove down here for a full due—you must at it again, ould chap;' and so I tries to make sail again, and heaves ahead a few fathoms, when down I comes again into a deep hole, and, before you could say Jack Robison, I'm blow'd if I warn't right slap in the middle of a large underground wault, where there was a company o' genelmen stuck up in niches, and peeping over mummy-cases, with great candles in their hands; and in other respects looking for all the world like the forty thieves as I once seed at the play, peeping out of their oil-jars; and there was a scuffling and scrimmaging at t'other eend o' the wault: and, 'Yo hoy!' says I, 'what cheer—what cheer, my hearties!' but not nobody never spoke, and the genelmen in the niches seemed to my thinking to be all groggy, and I'm blessed if ever I seed sich a set o' baboon-visaged fellows in all my days. 'Better luck to us, genelmen,' says I, filling my tot and taking a dram; but not a man on 'em answered. 'Pretty grave messmates I've got,' says I; 'but mayhap you don't hail as messmates, seeing as you arn't yet had a taste o' the stuff. Come, my hearties, I'll pipe to grog, and then I'll sarve it out all ship-shape to any on you as likes.' So I gives a chirp, and 'Grog ahoy!' sings I. Well, shipmates, I'm blessed if one on 'em didn't come down from the far eend o' the wault, and claps me alongside as I was sitting on the ground, and he takes hould o' the tot, knocks his head at me, as much as to say, 'All in good fellowship,' and down went the stuff through a pair o' leather lips in the twinkling of a hand-spik. 'All right, my hearty,' says I, filling the tot again: 'is there any more on you to chime in?'—'Sailor,' says he, in a voice that seemed to come from a fathom and a half down underneath him, for I'm blowed, messmates, if his lips ever moved;—'sailor, you must get out o' this,' says he.—'Lord love your heart,' says I, 'the thing's onpossible; you wouldn't have the conscience to make an honest tar cut and run in sich a rough night as this here.'—'We arn't never got no consciences,' says he; 'we're all dead.'—'Dead!' says I laughing, though, messmates, I own I was a bit flusticated; 'dead!' says I; 'that's gammon you're pitching, and I thinks it's hardly civil on you to try and bamboxter me arter that fashion. Why, didn't I see you myself just now when you spliced the main brace?—dead men don't drink brandy.'—'We're privileged,' sings out a little cock-eyed fellow up in one o' the niches; 'we're the ould ancient kings of Egypt, and I'm Fairer.'—'If there warn't many more fairer nor you,' says I, 'you'd be a cursed ugly set, saving your majesty's presence,' for I thought it best to be civil, Jack, seeing as I had got jammed in with such outlandish company, and not knowing what other privileges they might have had sarved out to 'em besides swallowing brandy. 'Will your majesty like just to take a lime-burner's twist, by way of warming your stumack a bit, and fumigating your hould?' says I, as I poured out the stuff.—'Give it to King Herod, as is moored alongside of you,' says he, 'and keep your thumb out of the measure;' for, shipmates, I'd shoved in my thumb pretty deep, by way of lengthening out the grog, and getting a better allowance of plush. How the ould chap came to obsarve it, I don't know, unless it was another of their privileges to be up to everything. 'Keep your thumb out!' says he.—'All right, your honour,' says I, handing the little ould fellow the tot; and he nipped it up, and knocked off the stuff in a moment. And 'Pray,' says I, 'may I make bould to ax your honour how long you've been dead?'—'About two thousand years,' says he: and, 'My eyes!' thinks I, 'but you're d—d small for your age.'—'But, sailor,' says he, 'what brought you here?'—'My legs, your honour,' says I, 'brought me as far as the hatchway; but I'm blowed if I didn't come down by the run into this here consarn.'—'You mustn't stop here, sailor,' says he,—'that's King Herod,—you can have no business with us, seeing as we're all mummies.'—'All what?' says I, 'all dummies?' for I didn't catch very clearly what he said; 'all dummies?' says I. 'Well, I'm bless'd if I didn't think so!'—'No, no! mummies,' says he again, rather cantankerously; 'not dummies, for we can all talk.'—'Mayhap so, your majesty,' says I, arter taking another bite of the cherry, and handing him a third full tot, taking precious good care to keep my thumb out this time: 'but what am I to rouse out for? It ud take more tackles than one to stir Joe Nighthead from this. I'm in the ground-tier,' says I, 'and amongst all your privileges, though you clap luff upon luff, one live British tar, at a purchase, is worth a thousand dead kings, any day.'—'Haugh!' says he, as he smacked his leather lips, and the noise was just like a breeze making a short board through a hole in a pair of bellows; 'Haugh!' says he, as soon as he'd bolted the licker, 'it doesn't rest with us, my man: as mummies, we're privileged against all kinds of spirits.'—'Except brandy,' says I.—'I means evil spirits,' says he: 'but if the devil should come his rounds, and find you here upon his own cruising-ground, he'd pick you up and make a prize of you to a sartinty.'—'D—the devil!' says I, as bould as a lion, for I warn't a-going to let the ould fellow think I was afeard of Davy Jones, though I was hard and fast ashore; and 'D—the devil,' says I, 'axing your majesty's pardon; the wagabone has got no call to me, seeing as I'm an honest man, and an honest man's son as defies him.' Well, shipmates, I had my head turned round a little, and something fetches me a crack in the ear, that made all sneer again, and 'Yo hoy! your majesty,' says I; 'just keep your fingers to yourself, if you pleases.'—'I never touched you,' says he; 'but there's one close to you as I can see, though you can't.'—'Gammon!' says I; 'as if your dead-eyes were better than my top-lights.'—But, shipmates, at that moment somut whispers to me,—for may I be rammed and jammed into a penny cannon if I seed anything; but somut whispers to me, Joe Nighthead, I'm here over your shoulder.'—'That's my name all reg'lar enough, whatever ship's books you got it from,' says I: 'But who the blazes are you that's not nothing more than a woice and no-body?'—'You knows well enough who I am,' says the whisper again; 'and I tell you what it is, Joe, I've got a job for you to do.'—'Show me your phisog first,' says I, 'or I'm blow'd if I've anything whatsomever to say to you. If you are the underground Davy Jones, it's all according to natur, mayhap; but I never signs articles unless I knows the owners.'—'But you do know me, Joe,' says the woice, that warn't more nor half a woice neither, in regard of its being more like the sigh of a periwinkle, or the groan of an oyster.—'Not a bit of it,' says I; for though I suckspected, shipmates, who the beggar was, yet I warn't going to let him log it down again me without having hoclar proof, so 'Not a bit of it,' says I; 'but if you wants me to do anything in all honour and wartue,'—you see, Jack, I didn't forget wartue, well knowing that when the devil baits his hook he claps a 'skylark' on to the eend of it; so, 'all in honour and wartue,' says I, 'and Joe's your man.'—'Do you know who's alongside of you?' says the woice.—'Why, not disactly,' says I: 'he calls himself King Herod; but it's as likely he may be Billy Pitt, for anything I knows to the contrary.'—'It is King Herod,' says the whisper again; 'the fellow who killed all the Innocents,'—'What innocents?' axes I, seeing as I didn't foregather upon his meaning.—'The innocent babbies,' says the woice; 'he killed them all, and now he's got a cruising commission to keep me out o' my just rights, and I daren't attack him down below here.'—'The ould cannibal!' says I: 'what! murder babbies?—then I'm blowed if he gets a drop more out of my canteen.'—'Who's that you're meaning on?' says King Herod; 'who isn't to get another taste?'—'Not nobody as consarns you, your honour,' answers I, for I didn't like to open my broadside upon him, in regard of not knowing but he might have a privilege to man-handle me again.—'I think you meant me,' says he; 'but if you didn't, prove the truth on it by handing me over a full gill.' Well, shipmates, that was bringing the thing to the pint, and it put me into a sort of quandary; but 'All in course, your honour,' says I; 'but I'm saying, your majesty, you arn't never got sich a thing as a bite o' pigtail about you—have you? seeing as I lost my chaw and my 'bacca-box in the gale—hove overboard to lighten ship.'—'Yes, I can, my man—some real Wirginny,' says the king."

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the sergeant of marines; "go it, Joe;—you'll rival Tom Pepper presently. Why, Virginia is only a late discovery; such a place wasn't known in the days of Herod, nor tobacco either."

"To my thinking it's wery hodd, Muster Jolly, that you should shove your oar in where it arn't wanted," muttered Joe. "Why?—couldn't they have a Wirginny in Egypt? and as for the 'bacca, I'm blowed if I don't wouch for the truth on it, for out his majesty lugs a box as big round in dameter as the top of a scuttle-butt, and, knocking off the lid, 'There's some of the best as ever was many-facter'd,' says he. 'I loves a chaw myself, and there's nothing whatsomever as 'ull beat the best pound pig-tail.'—'Sartinly not, in course, your honour,' says I; 'but I'm blessed if it doesn't double upon my calculations o' things to think how your majesty, who ought to be in quod in t'other world, should take your quid in this.'—'We're privileged, my man,' says he; 'we're privileged and allowed to take anything, in reason,' and he fixed his glazed eyes with a 'ticing look at the canteen. 'You know,' says he, 'that it's an ould saying aboard, "the purser makes dead men chaw tobacco."' Well, shipmates, that was a clencher in the way of hargyfication that brought me up all standing; so I hands King Herod the tot again, and I rouses out a long scope of pig-tail out o' the box, and takes another nip at the brandy.—'You won't do it, then, Joe,' says the whisper t'other side of me.—'What is it?' axes I.—'The best pound pigtail,' says King Herod, as if he thought I was speaking to him.—'It's ounly to borrow one of these here mummies for me for about half an hour,' says the woice.—'Which on 'em?' says I.—'This here in the box,' says King Herod. 'Why, I'm thinking your brains are getting all becalmed.' And so they was, shipmates; for, what with the woice at one ear that I couldn't see, and his majesty at the other, who often doubled himself into two or three, I'm blowed if I warn't reg'larly bamboozled in my upper works."

"You was drunk, Joe," said the sergeant of marines; "it's very evident you was non compos mentis."

"And, what if I hadn't a nun compass to steer by?" replied Joe angrily, "is that any reason I should be tosticated? I tell you I warn't drunk, in regard o' the full allowance o' brandy I stowed in my hould to keep me steady and sober. Ax Jack there if it's any way likely I should be drunk."

"It stands to reason, not," argued Jack Sheavehole, "or, what's the use of a fellow having the stuff sarved out at all? Short allowance only brings a mist afore the eyes and circumpollygates the head till everything looms, like Beachy in a fog. But when you've your full whack, it clears the daylights, cherishes the cockles o' your heart, and makes you more handy, 'cause you often sees two first leftenants where there's ounly one."

"Dat berry true, massa Jack," said Mungo Pearl; "me al'ays sweep de deck more clean when me tink me hab two broom in me hand."

"In course," continued Joe, more soothed; "none but a Jolly would go to say anything again it, or doubt the woracity o' the thing. Well, shipmates, to heave ahead, I'm saying I was reg'larly bamblustercated when one of the genelmen up in the niches squeaks out, 'King Herod, I'll just thank you for a thimble-full of the stuff.'"

"Did he say 'a thimble-full?'" inquired Sam Slick, the tailor. "It couldn't be a professional thimble, then, for they never has no tops to 'em. It shows, however, the antickity of thimbles; though I thought they never had any use for them in those days."

"And why not, you lubber?" asked Bob Martingale.

"Simply because their garments were not sewed together as they are in the present day," answered the tailor.

"Tell that to the marines, Sam," said the boatswain's mate; "why what was Clipsypaddyree's needle for, eh? But, get on, Joe; there's no conwincing such ignoramasses."

"Ay, ay, messmate!" uttered Joe. "'Well,' says the genelman in the niche, 'I'll thank you for a thimbleful of that 'ere stuff.'—'With all the pleasure in life, your honour,' says I as I filled up the tot, and was going to carry it to him, but——'Give it to me, I'll take it,' says King Herod;' and up he gets,—my eyes! I never seed such a queer little ould chap in all my life!—and off he bolts to t'other mummy, steering precious wild, by the way; and he tips him the likser witey, and then back again he comes, and brings up in his ould anchorage. 'May I make bould to ax your majesty,' says I, 'what the name o' that genelman is as you've just sarved out the stuff to?'—'He's not a genelman, not by no manner o' means,' says he, 'in regard of his being a king.'—'And King who?' axes I.—'You're werry quizative, Muster Sailor,' says he; 'but it's in the natur o' things to want to know your company. That's King Hangabull.'—'And a devilish queer name, too,' says I, 'for a fellow to turn into his hammock with. Is he of Irish distraction?'—'His mother was an Irishman,' says the king, 'and his father came out of a Cartridge.'—'And a pretty breed they'd make of it,' says I, 'somut atwixt a salt cod and a marmaid.'—'Will you steal me a mummy?' comes the whisper again; 'you'd better, Joe.'—'No threats, if you please,' says I.—'I never threatened you,' says the king, who thought I was directing my discourse to him; 'but, sailor, I must call over all their names now to see there's none absent without leave,'—and I'm blow'd if he didn't begin with King Fairer; but there was a whole fleet of King Fairers and King Rabshakers, and King Dollyme, and ever so many more, every one answering muster, as if it had been a rope-yarn Sunday for a clean shirt and a shave, till at last I got fairly foozlified, and hove down on my beam-ends as fast asleep as a parish-clerk in sarmon time."

"A pretty yarn you 're spinning there, Mister Joe," said old Savage, who it was evident had been listening,—as he had often done both before and since he mounted his uniform coat:—"A pretty yarn you're spinning. I wonder you arn't afeard to pay out the slack o' your lies in that fashion."

"It's all true as Gospel, Muster Savage," responded Joe: "I seed it, and suffered it myself, and afore I dropped asleep—'Mayhap,' thinks I, 'if I could steal a mummy for myself to give to my ould mother, it 'ud be a reg'lar fortin to her,—dead two thousand years, and yet drink brandy and chaw tobacco!' So I sleeps pretty sound, though for how many bells I'm blessed if I can tell; but I was waked up by a raking fire abaft, that warmed my starn, and I sits upright to clear my eyes of the spray, and there laid King Herod alongside of me, with one of the canteens as a pillow, and all the ould chaps had come down out o' their niches, and formed a complete circle round us, that made me fancy all sorts of conjuration and bedevilment; so I jumps up on to my feet, and lets fly my broadsides to starboard and port, now and then throwing out a long shot a-head, and occasionally discharging my starn chasers abaft till I'd floored all the mummies, and the whole place wrung with shouts of laughter, though not a living soul could I see, nor dead uns either,—seeing as they'd nothing but bodies. Well, shipmates, if the thought didn't come over me again about bolting with one on 'em, and so I catches up King Herod, and away I starts up some steps,—for the moon had got the watch on deck by that time, and showed her commodore's light to make every thing plain:—Away I starts with King Herod, who began to hollow out like fun, 'Stop—stop, sailor! stop!—where are you going to take me? I'm Corporal Stunt.'—'Corporal H—!' says I, 'you arn't going to do me in that way,—you said yourself you was King Herod.'—'It was all a trick,' says he, again, kicking and sputtering like blazes; 'I'm not King Herod, I'm ounly Corporal Stunt,' says he.—'That be d—;' says I, 'you're conwicted by your own mouth. And didn't the woice tell me you was the barbarous blaggard as murdered the babbies?'—'Yes,—yes; but I did it myself,' says he.—'I know you did,' says I, fetching him a poke in the ribs,—for, shipmates, I made sure he warn't privileged above ground,—'I know you did,' says I, 'and I'm blessed if the first leftenant shan't bring you to the gangway for it!' And then he shouts out, and I hears the sound of feet astarn coming up in chase, and I carries on a taut press, till I catches sight of Clipsypaddyree's needle, that sarved me for a beacon, and I hears the whole fleet of mummies come 'pad-pad' in my wake, and hailing from their leather-lungs, 'Stop, sailor—stop!' but I know'd a trick worth two of that, shipmates; so I made more sail, and the little ould chap tries to shift ballast so as to bring me down by the head; but it wouldn't do, and he kept crying out, 'Let me down! pray let me go, I'm ounly Corporal Stunt!'—'Corporal Stunt or Corporal Devil,' says I, giving him another punch to keep him quiet; 'I knows who are you, and I'm blessed if the ould woman shan't have you packed up in a glass cage for a show! you shall have plenty o' pigtail and brandy:' and on I carries, every stitch set, and rattling along at a ten-knot pace, afeard o' nothing but their sending a handful o' monyments arter me from their bow-chasers, that might damage some of my spars. At last I makes out the battery, and bore up for the entrance, when one of the sodgers, as was sentry, hails, 'Who goes there?'—'No—no!' says I, seeing as I warn't even a petty officer.—'That won't do,' says the sodger; 'you must give the countersign.'—'What the blazes should I know about them there things?' axes I, 'you may see I'm a blue-jacket.'—'You can't pass without the countersign,' says he.—'That be d—d!' says I, 'arn't I got King Herod here? and arn't there King Fairer, and King Dollyme, and King Hangabull, and a whole fleet more on 'em in chase!' says I.—'Oh, Tom Morris, is that you?' says King Herod.—'Yes,' says the sentry; 'why, I say, sailor, you've got hould o' the corporal!'—'Tell that to the marines,' says I, 'for I knows well enough who he is, and so shall my ould mother when I gets him home! But, I'm blessed, but here they come!' and, shipmates, I heard 'em quite plain close aboard o' me, so that it was all my eye to be backing and filling palavering there afore the sentry, and get captured, and with that I knocks him down with King Herod, and in I bolts with my prize right into the officer's quarters. 'Halloo! who the devil have we got here?' shouts the leftenant, starting up from his cot.—'It's not the devil, your honour,' says I, 'not by no manner o' means; it's Joe Nighthead, and King Herod,' and I pitches the wagabone upright on to his lower stancheons afore the officer.—'There, your majesty,' says I, 'now speak for yourself.'—'Majesty!' says the leftenant, onshipping the ould fellow's turban and overhauling his face,—'majesty! why, it's the corporal—Corporal Stunt; and pray, Muster Corporal, what cruise have you been on to-night?'—and then there was the clattering of feet in the battery, and, 'Here they all are, your honour!' says I, 'all the ould ancient kings of Egypt as are rigged out for mummies. My eyes, take care o' the grog bottles, for them fellows are the very devil's own at a dram! Stand by, your honour! there's King Dollyme and all on 'em close aboard of us! but, I'm blowed if I don't floor some on 'em again as I did in the wault!' Well, messmates, in they came; but, instead of mummies in their oil jars, I'm bless'd if they warn't rigged out like sodger officers, and they stood laughing at me ready to split their sides when they saw me squaring away my yards all clear for action."

"But, what was they, Joe?" inquired the boatswain's mate, "they must have shifted their rigging pretty quick."

"I think I can explain it all," said the sergeant, laughing heartily, "for I happened to be there at the time, though I had no idea that our friend Joe here was the man we played the trick on."

"Just mind how you shapes your course, Muster Sergeant!" exclaimed Joe, angrily. "I'd ounly give you one piece of good adwice,—don't be falling athwart my hawse, or mayhap you may wish yourself out o' this."

"Don't be testy, Joe," said the sergeant, "on my honour I'll tell you the truth. Shipmates, the facts are these:—I belonged to the party in the battery, and went with some of the officers to explore a burial-ground, not without hopes of picking up a prize or two, as the report was that the mummies had plates of gold on their breasts. Corporal Stunt went with us; and, when we got to the place we lighted torches and commenced examination, but, if they ever had any gold about them the French had been there before us, for we found none. Whilst we were exploring, a storm came on, and not being able to leave the vault the officers dressed Stunt up in some of the cerements that had been unrolled from the mummies by way of amusement, little expecting the fun that it was afterward to produce. When Joe came in as he has described, we all hid ourselves, and, if truth must be spoken, he was more than half sprung." Joe grumbled out an expletive. "Stunt went to him, and we had as fine a piece of pantomime——"

"Panter what?" uttered Joe, with vehemence, "there's no such rope in the top, you lubber! and arter all you can say I werily believes it wur King Herod; but, you see, messmates, what with running so hard, and what with losing my canteens, I got dumbfoundered all at once, and then they claps me in limbo for knocking down the sentry."

"And the officers begged you off," said the sergeant, "on account of the fun they'd enjoyed, and you was sent away on board, to keep you out of further mischief, Joe, and to prevent your going a mummy-hunting again. As for Corporal Stunt——"

"Corporal D—n!" exclaimed Joe in a rage, "it's all gammon about your Corporal Stunt; and in regard o' the matter o' that, what have you got to say in displanation o' the woice? There I has you snug enough anyhow; there was no mistake about the woice," and Joe chuckled with pleasure at what he deemed unanswerable evidence in his favour.

"It may be accounted for in the most sensible way imaginable," said the sergeant; "Corporal Stunt was what they call a ventriloquist."

"More gammon!" says Joe; "and, what's a wentillerquis, I should like to know; and how came the mummies to muster out of their niches when I woke?"

"We placed them there whilst you were asleep," replied the sergeant, "and, as for Stunt, he was as drunk and drowsy as yourself."

"Ay,—ay, sergeant!" said Joe, affecting to laugh, "it's all wery well what you're overhauling upon, but I'm blessed if you'll ever make me log that ere down about Corporal Stunt and the wentiller consarn. I ounly wish I had the canteens now."

"Get a musket ready there for'ard!" shouted his lordship from the gangway, "fire athwart the brig's bows."

"They seem to be all asleep aboard, my lord!" said Mr. Nugent. "At all events they don't seem to care much about us."

"You're mistaken, Mr. Nugent," replied his lordship, as he directed his night-glass steadily at the stranger, "she's full of men, and if I am correct in my conjectures, there are many, very many eyes anxiously watching our motions."

The musket was fired, and the brig came to the wind with her maintopsail to the mast. The frigate ranged up to windward of her, and the sonorous voice of Lord Eustace was heard,

"Brig a-hoy! What brig's that?"

"L'Hirondelle de Toulon," responded the commander of the vessel hailing through his speaking-trumpet. "Vat sal your ship be?"

"His Britannic Majesty's frigate, the Spankaway," answered Lord Eustace: "lower away the cutter, Mr. Nugent, and board her."

The two craft had neared each other so closely, and the moon shone with such clearness and splendour, that every thing was perfectly visible from each other on the decks of both. The brig was full of men, and when Lord Eustace had announced the name of his ship, the sounds had not yet died away upon the waters when out burst a spontaneous cheer from the smaller vessel such as only English throats could give,—it was a truly heart-stirring British demonstration, and there was no mistaking it. The effect was perfectly electric on the man-of-war's men,—the lee gangway was instantly crowded as well as the lee ports, and, as if by a sudden communion of spirit that was irrepressible, the cheer was returned.

There is amongst thorough tars a sort of freemasonry in these things that no language can describe,—it is the secret sign, the mystery that binds the brotherhood together,—felt, but not understood,—expressed, yet undefined.

"Where are you from?" shouted his lordship as soon as the cheering had subsided.

"From Genoa, bound to Malta, your honour," answered a voice in clear English: "we're a Cartel."

"Fortune favours us, Monsieur Capitaine," said his lordship to Citizen Begaud; "the exchange of prisoners can be effected where we are, and I will take it on my own responsibility to dismiss you on the usual terms, if you wish to return to France."

"A thousand thanks, my lord," returned Begaud, with evident satisfaction. "Yet all places are alike to me now. You have heard my narrative, and I hope, if we part, you will not hold me altogether in contempt and abhorrence. My spirits are depressed—my star is dim and descending—my destiny will soon be accomplished."

"You fought your ship bravely, Monsieur," said Lord Eustace, "and I trust your future career will redeem the past. You have suffered much, and experience is a wise teacher to the human mind. But there is one thing I am desirous of having explained. You say that Robespierre detained you for some time before he gave you a pardon for the Countess—do you think he was aware of her approaching execution?"

"Aware of it, my lord?" exclaimed the French Captain, in a tone approaching to a shriek: "Danton, whom you well remember I said I met quitting the bureau, had the death-warrant, with the wretch's signature, in his hand—'twas solely for the purpose of destruction that he detained me—he knew the villain would be speedy—they had planned it between them."

"All ready with the cutter, my lord," exclaimed Mr. Sinnitt, coming up to the gangway, and saluting his noble captain.

"Board the brig, Mr. Nugent, and bring the master and his papers to the frigate," directed Lord Eustace. "Call the gunner—a rocket and a blue light."

Both orders were obeyed; the signal was readily comprehended by Mr. Seymour, who hove-to in the prize, and in a few minutes Nugent returned from his embassy with the master of the cartel and the officer authorized to effect an exchange. The papers were rigidly examined—there were no less than one hundred and six Englishmen on board the brig, the principal portion of whom had been either wrecked or captured in merchant-men, and were now on their way to Malta for an equal number of French prisoners in return; the commander-in-chief at Genoa, rightly judging that British humanity would gladly accede to the proposition. There were no officers, but Lord Eustace undertook to liberate Citizen Captain Begaud—the preliminaries were arranged—the Frenchmen, man for man, were transferred to the brig (his lordship throwing in a few hands who earnestly implored his consideration)—the Englishmen were received on board the frigate—necessary documents were signed, and they parted company—the brig making sail for Toulon—the Spankaway rejoining her prize.

"We've made a luckly windfall, Seymour," hailed his lordship when the frigates had closed; "I've a hundred prime hands for you. Out boats, Mr. Sinnitt, and send the new men away directly—but first of all, let every soul of them come aft." A very few minutes sufficed to execute the command. "My lads," said his lordship, addressing them, "are you willing to serve your country?—speak the word. I've an object in view that will produce a fair share of prize-money—enter for his majesty's service, and you shall have an equal distribution with the rest. Yonder's your ship, a few hours will probably bring us into action, and I know every man will do his duty."

With but few exceptions, the seamen promptly entered, and were sent away to the Hippolito, where Mr. Seymour was instructed to station them at the guns with all possible despatch.

"Well, here we goes again," said old Savage, as the order was given to bear up and make sail, "it's infarnally provoking not to be able to discover what the skipper's arter. There's the Pollytoe running away ahead, and Muster Seymour's just fancying himself first Lord o' the Admirality."

"Beat to quarters, Mr. Sinnitt," exclaimed his lordship, "and cast loose the guns."

"Well, I'm —— if I can make anything on it, Jack," grumbled the boatswain; "what are we going to engage now—the Flying Dutchman, or Davy Jones?"

"Mayhap a whole shole of Joe's mummies, sir," said Jack Sheavehole, with a respectful demeanour, as he cast loose his gun upon the forecastle, and threw his eye along the sight. Suddenly his gaze was fixed, he then raised his head for a moment, looked eagerly in the same direction, and once more glanced along the gun. "Well, I'm blessed if there aint," says he,—his voice echoed among the canvass as he shouted—"two sail on the starboard bow."

"Who's that hailing?" said the captain, as he walked forward to the bows, with his glass under his arm.

"It's Jack Sheavehole, your honour, my lord," replied the boatswain's mate, his eye still steadily fixed upon the objects.

"If they're what I expect, it will be a hundred guineas for you, my man, and, perhaps something better," said his lordship. "Where are they?"

"Just over the muzzle of the gun, my lord," answered Jack, as a fervent wish escaped him, that his lordship's expectations might be realized; for the hundred guineas, and something better, brought to his remembrance Suke and the youngsters.

Lord Eustace took a steady persevering sight through his night glass, as the men went to their quarters, and the ship was made clear for action; his lordship then ascertained the correct distance of the Hippolito ahead to be about two miles. "Get top-ropes rove, Mr. Savage," said he; "heave taut upon 'em, and see all clear for knocking the fids out of the topmasts."

"Ay ay, my lord," responded the boatswain, as he prepared for immediate obedience, but mumbling to himself, "What the—— will he be at next; rigging the jib-boom out o' the cabin windows, and onshipping the rudder, I suppose. Well, I'm ——, if the sarvice arn't going to the devil hand-over-hand; I shouldn't be surprised if we have to take a reef in the mainmast next."

"Mr. Sinnitt," said his lordship, "let them pass a hawser into the cutter,"—the boat had not been hoisted up again,—"take the plug out, and drop her astern."

"D'ye hear that, Joe?" growled the boatswain; "there'll be more stores expended if she breaks adrift, and I'm —— if I can make it out; first of all, we goes in chase o' nothing—now here's a couple o' craft in sight, that mayhap may be enemies' frigates,—he's sinking the cutter to stop our way. Well, we shall all be wiser in time."

The strangers were made out to be two ships, standing in for the land, and whilst they were clearly visible to the Spankaway and the Hippolito, the position the moon was in prevented the strangers from seeing the two frigates. At length, however, they did obtain sight of them, and they immediately hauled to the wind, with their heads off shore.

"There's a gun from the prize, sir," shouted one of the men forward, as the booming report of a heavy piece of ordnance came over the waters.

"Run out the two bow-guns through the foremost ports, and fire blank cartridge," said his lordship. "Where's the gunner?"—Mr. Blueblazes responded, "Ay ay, my lord."—"Draw all the shot on the larboard side," continued Lord Eustace, to the great astonishment of the man of powder, and still greater surprise of the old boatswain.

"Mr. Seymour is making signals, my lord," said the third lieutenant; "and he's altered his course towards the strangers."

"Very good, Mr. Nugent," said his lordship; "let them blaze away with the bow-guns, but be careful not to shot them."

The Hippolito kept discharging her stern chasers as she stood towards the strangers, who made all possible sail away, and the Spankaway fired her bow-guns without intermission, as she pursued her prize.

"What an onmarciful waste of powder," said the boatswain to his mate; "I say, Jack, just shove in a shot to take off the scandal o' the thing."

Whether Jack complied or not, is unknown. The boat astern was cut away, the Spankaway felt relieved, and drew up with the prize; the strangers retained their position, about three or four miles distant, and thus the chase continued till daylight, no one being able to make out what it all meant.