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."
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!"
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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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,
"Where are you from?" shouted his lordship as soon as the cheering
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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
"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'
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.