ERRORS OF ECCENTRICITY.
VOLUME THE FIRST.
ERRORS OF ECCENTRICITY.
IN THREE VOLUMES.
The dearest friend to me—the kindest man,
The best conditioned; and unwearied spirit
In doing courtesies—and one in whom
any that draws breath in
Printed for Longman, Hurst, Rees, and Orme,
AS it is by no means probable that the Author of the following sheets should again resume an occupation, which has formed the amusement (and in some degree the employment) of more than twenty years, she feels herself induced to offer her sincere thanks to a generous public, for their liberal reception of her humble attempts in the literary line; as well as for its forbearance of censure in various points, where candour itself obliges her to confess her many difficiencies. She also owns herself highly indebted to those Reviewers, for whose mild strictures, liberal decisions, and gentle reproofs, she retains a high sense of obligation;—an indulgence the more valuable, from its being awarded to a female, whose confined education, and want of patronage, has often raised difficulties, which an ardent love of writing only could have enabled her, in some measure to conquer: added to which, is the superiority of those contemporaries, whose genius, language, and invention, have left her moderate endeavours quite in the shade; yet, the consideration that if they were not brilliant, they were at least harmless, (and at the worst, they were only what a lambent moon-beam is to the brilliant sun) encouraged her to pursue a path in which she had found some pleasure, and her innocent readers no danger.
At the same time, she is well aware that Novel Writers have often, and in some instances too justly afforded much food for the severity of criticism; while Novel Readers have incurred a plentiful share of that opprobrium so indiscriminately bestowed upon this species of entertainment; but who will dare to place the “GOSSIP’S STORY,” “TALE OF THE TIMES,” “INFIDEL FATHER,” “PLAIN SENSE,” or “SARACEN,” with many others equally worthy, in the same predicament with some that might be mentioned? Therefore, while such examples of beautiful writing as the above, are so numerous, they must surely do away much of that prejudice so strongly maintained. But again: it is considered as the lowest of literary pursuits:—granted. Yet, if we are to believe that
Example draws where precept fails,
And sermons are less read than tales,
If we discover a purity of sentiment, a professed abhorrence of every insinuation, however artfully introduced, that can alarm the rectitude of mind so indispensable in a virtuous female,—a steady adherence to true, not fastidious delicacy, firmness of principle, with an avoidance of every subject which may lead to abstruse and unnecessary points—who shall deem such works unworthy the pen, or perusal of our British Ladies? It is too true, she has heard all Novels condemned, by more than one censurer, as totally unworthy the perusal of a sensible man; yet, with all due deference be it spoken, she has witnessed a conversation supported by two of those fastidious beings, delivered in language that would have disgraced a school boy, and replete with ideas and principles, that no novel writer would dare to intrude on the public.
Respecting her own little efforts to obtain notice, she can venture to claim the suffrage of every lady who may honor them with a perusal; and feels justified in observing, that whatever deficiency may appear in her diction, plots, or taste, no blame can attach to the principles they inculcate, the sentiments they enforce, or the manners they would recommend. Vice is not arrayed in the garb of seductive loveliness, nor is virtue driven to exert itself beyond the bounds of possibility; and though void of that sort of distress, which arises from amorous disappointments, or impracticable events, she flatters herself that there are traits of character in her humble essays, not wholly uninteresting to a rational reader. Of her “IRISH GUARDIAN,” she can only observe, that the errors of his conduct arise from the goodness of his heart; and hopes his characteristic blunders, will give no offence to the generous individuals of a nation to whom they are an honor.
The Author perceives she cannot conclude without paying a feeble tribute of praise to those male writers, who have thought it no degradation of their dignity, as scholars or gentlemen, to relax from their severer studies, and improve and amuse in the form of a novel: as witness, the elegant productions of Dr. Moore, Mr. Dallas, &c. In the full hope therefore, that a liberal public will not refuse to her honest Hibernian, that tribute so kindly bestowed upon his predecessors,
She presumes to subscribe herself,
Their most grateful and obedient servant,
ANNA MARIA MACKENZIE.
DETACHED from the society of mankind by misfortunes which gave to his countenance the cast of misanthropy, a person bearing the name of Favorita, sought refuge from a world he dreaded in the intricate recesses of Cabo Roco, commonly denominated Cintra; a promontory well known to English traders by the appellation of the Rock of Lisbon, situated near the mouth of the Tagus; where he meditated upon those dreadful events which alone could make such a lofty retreat endurable. It is true that from its summit one may command an almost unlimited space, but it is a view that partakes more of the awful and sublime, than the softened features of variegated scenery; now displaying all the horrors of winds and waves; now presenting a tame stillness but seldom enlivened by the distant sail, or nearer vessel; and the far-seen view of that celebrated land-mark Dos Clerigos, comprised the whole variety of his station.
Of the few beings to whom this lonely desart presented a temporary refuge from corroding anxiety, or the justice of their country, there were scarcely any attentive enough either to disturb his repose, or lessen his attachment to retirement, and Favorita wandered about the rocky base or climbed its dangerous acclivities uninterrupted and uncontrolled. Yet although the features of this unhappy recluse bore to an indifferent observer the sullen marks of a heart hardened even to stoical apathy, that heart still glowed with the noblest feelings, and its dictates were guided by melancholy despondency rather than the torpor of despair.
As a proof of the pity which lingered in his aching bosom for his fellow creatures who were suffering more immediately within his power of redress, it was our hermit’s constant custom after a storm to visit the shore, in the anxious hope of assisting any one who might chance to escape its effects by gaining the rock; this indeed was a deliverance that rarely occurred, but his want of success was no inducement to Favorita to resign his charitable intentions, and he constantly pursued them. Habituated by general observation to the prognostics of bad weather, he was seldom mistaken in his calculations; and the morning of a sultry day was employed in watching a small vessel, apparently making for Tagus, but impeded by an off-shore wind: He soon perceived her endeavours were fruitless; and, with concern, our hermit beheld a dark halo forming around the sun, which was soon obscured by clouds of a lurid aspect; the waves gradually assumed a turbulent appearance; the winds roared among the cavities of the rock; and the ship now gliding over the edge of a mountainous surge; now lost in the horrid chasm it formed; soon, by encreasing darkness, became totally hidden from his view.
Disturbed and uneasy for the fate of those whose doom seemed inevitable, he returned to his comfortless cabin, determined to revisit the strand with the approaching dawn; though, from all he could conjecture, little else was to be expected, than that mournful task of rendering the last sad offices to some poor creature, who, as the wind had suddenly shifted, might be driven to shore; but when, in consequence of this resolution, he had risen with haste to examine every place within reach, it appeared too plainly, that both vessel and crew were beyond all human assistance.
Favorita then ascended the highest accessible point of his station, and throwing an anxious eye over the still turbulent deep, felt more strongly convinced of their complete destruction; waves rolling over waves in awful succession; their upper parts tinged with a silvery foam, seemed to threaten death to all who should venture to contend against their violence. Sometimes he fancied a distant sail labouring through opposing seas, and could only lament the fate of those who might be struggling against the ruin they vainly tried to shun: Hopeless then of gratifying his benevolent principle, he slowly descended; but what was his surprize, when upon turning a sharp angle, he beheld in the valley before him, a figure bearing with seeming difficulty the body of a youth, which he gently deposited upon a seat hewn out of the chalky cliff; and who, while contemplating the insensible burthen so lately quitted, discovered a poignant grief; which upon Favorita’s hasty approach, broke into outrageous exclamations; and with tears of anguish running down an honest, though rough looking countenance, he begged the stranger’s attention to his fainting companion; at the same time applying himself what he conceived to be a certain, though very ungentle restorative, by shaking the poor creature in a way which denoted no great skill in physical operations; but his attempts proved ineffectual, till a deep sigh which followed the hermit’s application of a very powerful volatile, relieved his eager apprehensions; and in a few moments after, the feeble invalid recovered sufficiently to gaze about with a wild unsettled look.
Delighted with a consequence which his frantic despair had forbidden him to hope for; the elder stranger poured out, but in very imperfect Portuguese, a confused mixture of thanks, congratulations, and enquiries respecting their benefactor’s situation on that desolate spot; to all which, he received the most laconic replies; but when the delicate and graceful youth added his modest acknowledgements in the English tongue, Favorita betrayed an agitation that apparently exceeded the occasion; and which, he attempted to hide by asking some questions relative to the ship he had seen the preceding day, and to which he imagined they belonged. This observation, which was made also in English, gave much delight to Capt. Derrick, the loquacious sailor, who seemed happy to indulge his turn for frank communication, and after expressing his joy to meet with an ould Reverendissimo who could understand him, went on in a brogue peculiar to himself; to say, “that in consequence of some particular business, he had been dispatched to Lisbon, but now indeed, he knew not how to get thither; as he had staid by his ship poor dear sowl, till he could howld out no longer; and he had brought this faint-hearted milksop to shore upon his back; for the ship was stranded near a part of the Cape, at some distance from their present situation: howsoever, if his reverence could any how look to Charles, why, belike he might find his way to Lisbon by some means or other.”
Here his young companion cast a look of anguish towards him, which evidently pleaded for silence; but it was impossible to check the Irishman’s volubility, although he might mean to be prudent; but Charles, as he stiled him, expressing a wish to repose a few hours, Favorita advised the Captain to hasten to Lisbon; which he might do in a small vessel appropriated by his brethren to the purpose of fetching such necessaries as their secluded spot denied. Derrick seemed struck by this proposal; but declared his inability to procure a comfortable abode for his young friend; adding, that it was true he had been recommended to a family in that city, but as his employer had mistaken his character in giving him a commission which none but a rogue could act under, why he could not appear in a light in which no honest Irishman ever yet shone: For sure my dear little countrymen, that is, to say in general, if ever they are guilty of a bad action, do it with a good intent; so that the consequence, be what it may, can reflect no disgrace upon us at all—at all, honey. Derrick would have proceeded in his unfortunate endeavour to prove that an Hibernian could do no wrong, but Favorita, who had perceived the bitter agony that had settled in Charles’s features, interrupted him with a faint congratulation upon his Amor patria; and then, with a heart fully alive to the tender impression, communicated by the young stranger’s visible distress candidly offered him a shelter till Derrick could place him in a better situation. A tear of gratitude marked the acceptance of his favour; but there was an appearance of anguish mixed with horror in his speaking eye, which could not escape our hermit’s notice; nor was it lost upon the Captain, who heartily advised him to follow the ould Reverendissimo, and mount to his eagle’s nest. “Ay, ay, yonder it is, perched upon that little bit of a rock, d’ye see; well, to be sartain,” added this blunt observer, “I say Charles, to be sartain this ancient Jontlemun will live an hundred and fifty years, if one may judge by his ould youthful countenance; so up to your airy garret, my dear; why, what the divil ails you now, sappy?” perceiving his reluctance to follow Favorita, “first pining and whining for shelter, and then hanging back, and looking like a dog that’s burnt his ears.” “You know my motive,” replied the youth, expressively. “Your motive! O, none of this palaver, child; don’t I know you are unhappy, and fale it visibly? come, come,” (drawing nearer, as the hermit, who perceived a mystery in Charles’s manner, had retired to a little distance, to give him an opportunity of speaking his sentiments) “come, I say, cheer up, he is somewhere in Lisbon depend upon it, my pretty dove, and sure now I will not be long absent: But I say (putting on an arch good-humoured smile) what do you think now, of our romantic expedition?”
“Think! O, sir, (bursting into tears) why, that I have indeed undertaken a romantic expedition; but it has been with the best design, and thro’ your persuasions. O, my uncle, on your friendship rests all my earthly dependence; you, however, will not desert a woman in distress.”
“An Irishman and lave a woman in distress! indeed, honey, and by my sowl now, and I won’t; belave me, child, I never yet saw the famale who could raise a blush on my chake; no, nor the man who could make it look pale; becase, why I never did an injury to your sex, or was afeard of my own.”
“Best of friends!” cried the grateful young creature, who had assumed a masculine dress for a purpose that will gradually unfold itself “I know your goodness; I have experienced the tenderness of a heart impressed with every generous feeling in those points admitted by true delicacy.”
“Delicacy! nonsense, all stuff; a word niver to be found in a sailor’s creed; and so I’ll lave all that to the fops and the women, d’ye see; and now, good bye? but harkee, don’t think too much of that Frederica: By the ghost of my grandfather, things have niver gone right since we went to London.”
“Cruel Frederico!” responded the wretched Almeria, for that was indeed her feminine appellation, “thus to force me upon this hateful subterfuge; for, O, sir! you, as a man, cannot feel that portion of my misery, which arises from this improper disguise; and the necessity there is for my dependance upon strangers: Who are, and I beseech you to remember, must be ignorant of my story. For the present, I am too well aware of the obligation I am under to accept that good man’s offer: Hasten then to procure me, if possible, a more eligible asylum; for indeed the fatigues of the preceding night and day, render me nearly unable to contend with any farther difficulties.”
Here she was interrupted by Favorita’s approach; who, hastily demanded if the Captain were certain his vessel had not outrid the storm? to this question he received an unconnected, yet voluble, reply; from which, he gathered that Derrick and his companion were the last who quitted her, which they did in a small wherry; the crew having secured the jolly-boat; and, that immediately after their landing, the wherry was beaten to pieces by a terrible surf; but whether the brig went down, he could not tell, as it was impossible to distinguish her in a sea so rough.
A loud shout issuing as it should seem from many voices, completely electrified the impatient Captain; who, darting away, rushed toward the spot which Favorita had just quitted; and in a few minutes again joined them at the head of that crew he never more expected to command.
Rejoiced beyond the power of distinct articulation, he could only shake the hermit’s hand, with a roughness scarcely bearable—clasp his trembling friend, somewhat in the Cornish style—throw up his hat—vociferate three cheers—and exclaim “she’s safe, my little darling is safe! upon my conscience she’s a lucky one; there she rides. Come along Alme—I mane Charles, come along; all’s right again; (seizing his terrified niece, as he stiled her, who dreaded what this effusion of joy might produce) cheer up my girl—O faith and that’s a bull now; no matter, girl or boy, all’s one for that.”
Favorita started at the appellation of girl; while Almeria could not restrain an apprehensive tear; which Derrick perceiving, and struck with the blunder he had committed, awkwardly observed, “that his joy in finding his lovely Peggy once more, had made him talk nonsense very wisely; adding, why it was only last night the poor creature went to the bottom, and yet, for all that, she is come to her moorings just beyond that turning.”
From the boatswain, Favorita received a somewhat clearer account of this mysterious business; importing, that himself and companions had safely weathered the opposite point, from whence he beheld the ship in a perilous situation; but as the wind had veered to almost every part of the compass, it had driven her on to the shore, where she continued till the tide came in; and, owing to another change of the wind, they were enabled to turn her head toward the rock; for they expected to find their commander somewhere thereabouts, as, on their returning on board, neither himself nor Mr. Cleveland could be found; but they had discovered a safe anchorage behind that point which so completely sheltered her from our hermit’s most diligent search.
It also appeared, that drawn by the sound of their voices, Favorita discovered several of the men reposing upon his territory; when questioning them upon the subject of the supposed lost vessel, and hinting at Captain Derrick’s safety, they immediately followed him to make that worthy being as happy as themselves.
Concerned for the poor agitated creature, who sunk nearly helpless before him, Favorita tenderly entreated the Captain to consider the best means for accommodating his languid companion: Derrick was rather puzzled at the request, but thought it was better for her to stay with the hermit, at least, till he had examined his vessel, and discovered whether she was fit for sailing. To this, she reluctantly consented; and was led by her new friend to a cavity in the rock; for he thought her strength would be unequal to the performance of a journey, to what he so aptly stiled an eagle’s nest.
In this recess, which had formerly belonged to a hermit, she found a tolerable couch formed out of some rough boards, and covered with a sort of long grass: The place, though open in front, was free from damp; and with due gratitude to her entertainer, she seated herself upon the homely receptacle. He then left her, but soon returned with grapes, bread, and a small flask of wine: She looked up, as he attentively surveyed her features, and perceived a tear moisten his cheek; Almeria also wept, but she could not at that moment ascertain the stimulus which provoked that sign of sorrow.
“You weep my child,” said Favorita, “and no wonder, your situation is productive of those tears; but you will again rejoice with those you love. While I,—nay look not so piercingly tender, those humid eyes, that soft impressive gaze, reminds me of an angel; recals to my imagination scenes which ought never to be repeated; but you will pardon the effusions of a distempered mind, adieu, repose in safety: I will be your guardian while you sleep, and till your friend returns, this humble cavern shall afford a comfortable shelter.”
“My thanks, benevolent stranger,” returned Almeria, “are not adequate to such generous attentions; a higher power, (and she meekly lifted her hands) will ratify the charitable deed, and reward it. I can only pray, that peace and resignation may shed their balm upon a heart, which, like my own, seems a prey to untold grief.”
“Ha!” cried the hermit, (catching her hand, and fixing a wild empassioned look upon her languid countenance) “can you, a youth at such an age, have cause for sorrow?” but, suddenly recollecting himself, “sacred be it! for if like my distress, it can neither be relieved, or even soothed; I would not tear the painful secret from thy bosom.”
He then quitted the recess, followed by her eye, till the jutting of a craggy point prevented a longer view of his plain brown garment, venerable beard, and snowy locks. If Favorita had discovered such strong emotion while contemplating features which seemed to strike him with horror, Almeria in the bending yet dignified form, the stern glance, and solemn manners of this stranger, found equal reason for wonder and curiosity; and her heart acknowledged an impulse in his favour, which reason and prudence strove to destroy. Even her reluctance to accept his protection had given way to this new sentiment, and while she partook of the welcome refreshment he had procured, that sentiment acquired additional strength. Indeed her present asylum was not devoid of inducements for gratitude. A total calm had succeeded the hurricane. A sight of the sparkling surf which rolled gently inwards, and contrasted by its pure tincture the deep green that appeared beyond in a long perspective view, with the balmy air which cooled and invigorated her wearied limbs, were advantages by no means to be neglected; and while she contemplated and enjoyed them with apparent satisfaction, her ear was struck by the soft and tinkling strains of a guitar: astonished beyond description she listened with trembling delight, till convinced by its proximity that her unknown friend was the musician; the perturbation it excited was so far allayed, that she listened with sweet composure to the following lines, sung in a fine soprano voice; the melody, strength, and softness of which, appeared more adapted to the middle age, than the debility and ancient appearance of that mysterious being:
To the lily’s soft tint, once the rich blushing rose,
United its bloom, to adorn
The fair face of my love; but her elegant mind
Display’d more than the beauties of morn:
Those charms which nor sun-beams nor sickness could
Depictured the mind of my innocent maid;
Yet she died, and I lost my dear innocent maid.
To think how I lov’d her, how ardent I burn’d,
Does but heighten extravagant grief;
And to say with what truth that fond love was return’d,
Forbids ev’ry hope of relief:
Since each moment the tribute of anguish is paid,
To the mem’ry of her, my dear innocent maid:
Ah she died! and I lost my sweet angel,
My innocent maid.
A SOLEMN pause succeeded the ceasing cadence of an air calculated to excite the most affecting ideas: There was a path in Favorita’s voice which created sensations of a peculiar tendency in Almeria’s bosom. She listened, but the delirium of those touching feelings was no longer encouraged; heavy sighs, and, half stifled groans, now broke on her ear; but the hermit appeared not: Nay, she could hear his stealing steps as he departed from a sort of niche in the rock, near her temporary habitation, which seem to be shut out from society.
This indeed, was not considered by her as an evil; for totally overcome with lassitude and depending upon her new guardian’s promise of protection, she submitted to the demands of imperious nature, and sunk into an unquiet repose. How long our poor heroine continued in a state of mental torpor, might be ascertained by the darkness, which on her suddenly awaking, conveyed a sort of terror to her heart;—but how was this terror encreased, when in the next instant she perceived a figure holding up a lamp to her bosom with one hand, while the other grasped a valuable miniature which was suspended by a ribband. A thousand confused fears now rushed to her mind, as she viewed the countenance and action of Favorita, for he it was who thus rudely forfeited the rights of hospitality by intruding on her privacy. His countenance was wild, even ghastly. His attempt to tear the picture away was so abrupt, so fierce, and so unlike the gentleness of his former conduct, that Almeria began to suppose her very life in danger; at least she dreaded a discovery of her sex, which would probably follow, as the collar of her shirt had been loosened by this intemperate attack; but starting from the couch and flinging herself upon her knees, she besought him to respect his promise of guarding her from every violence. “Say but,” he cried in a convulsed terrific voice, “Say wretched youth, whose picture is that you wear so near your heart?” “Mine, rude man, mine!” she replied; a momentary gleam of courage animating her soul. “It is dearer to me than existence itself. It is the solace of my lonely hours. It is, O it is,” and she burst into tears;—“the last, last consolation, my fate has left me,” and she clasped it with an energy which seemed to mock his attempts to get it from her.— “Keep off,” she resumed, “approach me not;—my life is in your power, but this dear resemblance, never.” “Your life,” repeated Favorita, shuddering as it appeared, at his own temerity;—“and has my unguarded impetuosity given rise to such an apprehension? Perish the idea.”—He then paced the cell with wild disordered steps, muttering at intervals, reflections upon his rashness;—when suddenly turning to her. “I see,” said he, “you still dread my violence, but fear not. Return to your couch, it yet wants some hours to morning; rest in the sure confidence that you shall not again be disturbed;—but ah! that portrait. Would you but trust it for one moment to my care; at least inform me if the original (for I cannot be mistaken in those features) is a relative of yours?”—“I can do neither sir;—yet this much I will declare, that to you the original never could be interesting. The glimpse you obtained misleads imagination, and throws an erroneous light upon what fancy paints as real.” “Fancy,” exclaimed Favorita. “Oh, that I were indeed mislead by her;—that deceived by the rainbow-colouring of her mimic illusions, I had no real foundation for such a hoard of anguish.
“Youth,” and he fixed a settled gaze upon her varying countenance,—“didst thou know my motives for this outrage—couldst thou trace on my heart the source of;—but wherefore this appeal, say only that I am forgiven for an action which nothing short of those motives can excuse, and I will retire immediately.”
“I do pardon you, sir,” replied Almeria, who felt comparatively happy in the possession of her own secret; for it was plain that Favorita mistrusted not her sex, “and trust you also will excuse a tenacity which perhaps can plead equally powerful motives for its support.”
Dissatisfied and reluctant, the hermit, after placing his lamp upon a lodge in the cavity, slowly retired, leaving Almeria a prey to sensations that threatened to produce despair. The opinion she had encouraged of Favorita’s rectitude, had no longer any support; nor could she depend even for safety, upon one whose actions and words were tinctured with insanity.—The same reason which induced his untimely visit, might again operate to produce still more dreadful consequences, and that portrait taken by force which she held so sacred.—“No, thou tenderly beloved,” addressing the miniature of a handsome youth; “never shalt thou quit this bosom while life trembles within its precincts.”
She then committed it to its usual situation, and endeavouring to collect her fortitude, began to arrange, if possible, a scheme, the completion of which, should convey her for ever beyond the sight or power of Favorita; yet to reach the main land without assistance, she knew was impossible. Even to wait till day-light, would produce only the certainty of being prevented in her design by him, who in other circumstances, could have obviated every difficulty;—however, after a fervent ejaculation to heaven for its guidance of her devious steps, she ventured to the shore undisturbed by aught but her reasonable apprehensions.
It was perfectly calm, no sounds broke on the sober silence, save from the advancing and retreating restless surf. With a trembling heart, she contemplated the vast expanse so lately agitated by furious winds, now scarcely in motion, and the lucid heavens illumined by innumerable stars; then raising her fearful eye to the overhanging rock, almost fancied, she beheld the eccentric hermit, placed upon a jutting point, and bending over to catch a view of his terrified guest; but the illusion soon vanished, and Almeria was convinced he was ignorant of her absence, and proceeded to the spot which he had mentioned, as containing a boat appropriated to the use of himself and brethren.
Scarcely had she reached a small Cove, described by Favorita as he passed it while conveying her to the recess, when a rustling noise aroused her fears to an agonizing degree. Uncertain whether it arose from the Cove, she dared not advance, and to retreat was equally dangerous.
Again the dissonant sounds came on the air, which she thought resembled those of a captured wild beast. While the approach of dawn gave new force to her terrors, Almeria determined to hazard every thing rather than return to her cell, and cautiously advancing, she discovered with new sensations, a human figure extended upon his back in the boat, whose uncomfortable position had produced those sonorous sounds, and occasioned the cause of her alarm. As the dawn strengthened, she was enabled to make a remark that revived her hopes of escaping; for it was evident the sleeper belonged to the vessel, and was either waiting for fresh orders, or had been prevented from returning to Lisbon, by the sudden approach of night.
To awake him, and endeavour by a considerable bribe to gain his confidence, was Almeria’s first idea; but totally ignorant of the country language, how was she to make her purpose known?—When happily, for the success of her plan, he hastily awoke, and starting up, began to make arrangements for putting to sea. This was an unexpected and pleasing circumstance, and it only remained for her to disclose her intention of going with him. As soon as his business was nearly completed, she timidly advanced, and holding up a moidore, pointed to the quarter to which she guessed he was bound. Devoid of all curiosity respecting her appearance at such an hour, and in such a spot, he only endeavoured to understand her meaning, which after some difficulty he accomplished, and seizing the money, with avidity he launched his boat in the water, and after placing his mysterious passenger at the stern, hoisted sail, and was soon out of sight of that part of the rock.
But Almeria’s terrors were by no means subsided. A total stranger to Lisbon, its language, people or customs, how was she to discover Captain Derrick, since all description would be useless, unless she could apply to the English factory, most of whom resided in different quarters of the city, and she was landed at Bellem, before the confusion of her mind would permit her to adopt a feasible plan. From her boatman no lights could be obtained, nor were the market women, who were now passing upon their Boriqua’s, at all likely to assist her. True, the appearance of a beautiful youth, pale, languid, and evidently a stranger to the country, clad in an English naval uniform, excited curiosity in those uncouth females, but that was all. They gazed, laughed and talked; yet as Almeria could not understand either their words or actions, those marks of attention were of little use;—nay, they added in a degree to her difficulties, by shewing the inutility of an application to a Portuguese native, and a hopelessness of relief from such a source, gave new terrors to her situation. Tears of bitter anguish poured along her faded cheek as she slowly passed the silent village; whose inhabitants, too indolent to take advantage of a lovely morning, were yet invisible. The prospect of fields, burnt up by a July sun, and scantily varied by several vineyards, could boast but few charms to attract an inhabitant of a more temperate clime, by Almeria they were totally neglected; who, sinking upon a stone that rested near the foot of a cross, encouraged a state of mind, to which insensibility would have been a relief;—when lifting up her swollen eyes towards a magnificent building at some paces distant, she perceived several Cavaliers advancing from it; when an eager desire of making them understand her signs, induced her to arise, and with a downcast look and palpitating heart, she ventured to approach the group.
If Almeria’s appearance had attracted the notice of the insensible and ignorant market folks, it did more for her with the Cavaliers, whose earnest looks she had already excited, and whose serviceable pity she was solicitous to obtain; but when one of them addressed her in tolerable English, her joy prevented immediate utterance, and the tears which fell upon his hand as she respectfully accepted it, made a strong interest for the gentle midshipman in his worthy bosom.
Recovered to a sense of her awkward situation, Almeria gave a brief account of her landing at Cabo Roco; describing as briefly, her reception by the hermit, Captain Derrick’s confidence in him, his hasty departure, and her successful attempt to leave the rock in quest of that blunt, but friendly relative. At the mention of Favorita, the Cavalier assumed an air of tender melancholy; observing, that he had been more unfortunate than criminal; and yet there were circumstances in his history which countenanced the world’s neglect, even their contempt. “You know him, then,” demanded Almeria, forgetful at that moment of her own strong claim to the stranger’s assistance. “I do,” he replied, “but sacred be those sorrows which I am not at liberty to communicate; for yourself young Sennor, I can only say, my endeavours to contribute to your ease, shall be exerted to the utmost; only declare how they may be best directed.
“I belong to yonder noble mansion. My brethren (pointing to his companions, who had walked to a respectful distance) are like myself, indebted to his Portuguese Majesty, whom we have served with fidelity and bravery, for a comfortable support in that building, where we are empowered to receive and entertain any friend who may oblige us with their company;—now if you are disposed to accept of an asylum there till we can discover your uncle, I can promise better accommodation than the unhappy hermit could afford.”—Almeria recollected her confidence in the hermit, and was silent; yet this proposal carried an air of sincerity, and certain comfort in it which Favorita’s, she thought, had truly wanted.
“I see you hesitate my friend,” said the generous Portuguese, “but believe me you will be perfectly safe; I venerate the English; I honor their invincible navy;—nay,” and a sigh escaped him. “I am half an Englishman myself;—fear not then.” An exclamation from Almeria, who darted towards the group of Cavaliers, astonished her benefactor, and interrupted his panegyric; but when he saw her return, led by Captain Derrick, he evinced tokens of the sincerest pleasure.
The honest sailor, with his usual unreserve, began to question his delighted niece respecting her strange departure from the ould Reverendissimo, as he chose to stile him, and before she could answer, described the comforts of a residence he had just secured for her, in consequence of which he was hastening to fetch her from the rock.
The poor girl would have waved the subject by presenting the Cavalier to him, and repeating the friendly offer he had so recently made, but to her utter dismay he ridiculed her nicety, in a way so pointed, respecting her flight from Favorita, that it gave her character as a man the cast of effeminacy; or what was still worse, might create suspicions of a disguise of which he was heartily weary;—however, observing her significant looks, he added,—“Well, well, don’t I know how it is? Ould Methusalem did not like solitude and a companion, and thought it very hard d’ye see, that he couldn’t be alone when there was nobody with him; or may be you was afear’d that ****** but a word to the wise—so come away Almy—Charles I mane—come away; and as to you Sennor, for I take you to be one of our native farreners, Oh let me but see you along side my lovely Peggy, and I warrant we’ll drink to the honor of little England; ay, and Ireland too, and the land we live on till ****. O Honey,” interrupting himself, “I could tell you such things about this little girl,—tho—” “Girl,” repeated the amazed gentleman, who felt a sensation equal to that of Favorita upon a similar occasion. “Girl, ay, girl’s companion, faith now and you don’t understand me; for Charles, though I say it, is as pretty a companion for the girls;—but what signify’s boggling at a word—we Irish gontlemin are apt to blunder a little but no matter for the head if the heart be right.”
Highly as Captain Derrick rated his talents as a wit, or his abilities as a retainer of secrets, the veteran officer, unable to keep his visible muscles in order, saw in Almeria’s expressive features, and the confused, but droll countenance of her friend, a confirmation of those suspicions his unhappy bull had excited;—however, recovering that gravity of mien which had been so forcibly attacked, he felicitated them upon this happy meeting, and after renewing his serviceable invitation, which was extended to Derrick, whose native good humour made its way to the generous heart, he joined his company in their morning peregrination.
During our Irishman’s short walk to the apartments he had taken for Almeria, he submitted pretty quietly to those remonstrances, which she ventured to press upon him, and which were mixed with bitter reflections upon her own conduct, in adopting an appearance that subjected her so continually through his disregard to propriety, to perpetual terror; “and now,” supplicated she, holding up her hands with eager earnestness, “I entreat my dear and ever kind uncle’s silence, respecting this detested disgrace which becomes every hour more hateful, more insupportable, and more dangerous, and has precipitated me into such a disagreeable situation; already you have awakened suspicions in the bosoms of two perfect strangers, which have exposed me in one instance to danger; indeed I might say, (had it not been for a providential interference) to destruction itself.” “Destruction did you say,” vociferated the impetuous Derrick, who directly comprehended her allusion, “Why I’ll tear the ould eagle out of his nest, I’ll * * * *;” “Patience, dear sir,—the evil I complain of, originated in your mistakes, but it was magnified by insanity, for the attack he made upon this dear memento of past affection (drawing the portrait from her bosom, and wiping from it a tear which recollection produced) can be attributed to no other cause.” “O then,” cried Derrick, his features settling into a calm—“the poor divil was mad, and that was his reason for disliking a single duet;—why my dear little girl, I never shall forgive myself for * * * * but hollo, don’t you remember ould Polygon who lived at Killalee Castle, when you was a chicken, and afterwards juggled with Sir Harry about?”
“Not much of him I must confess.” “Well, well, so much the better, for happening to meet him this morning accidentally on purpose as one may say, I told him our case; that is, with a proper reservation, (winking with an arch grin at his niece) and he has promised to accommodate you, at least while you stay at Lisbon; ay, and longer too if so be as you like Seniora Francisca, and her pretty sister, who by the by * * *, but stop, yonder is his Casa as he calls it; look’e now, don’t you see a great house for all the world like a prison; ha, don’t you?” “O yes, I do indeed, and shall be happy to reach it, for I am fatigued beyond endurance.” “You do see it?”—“Yes, yes, my dear teasing uncle,” “Very well—but that is not it. Here, now look this way up the avenue; don’t you see another that stands out of sight?” “Ridiculous,” said the unhappy Almeria, whose feelings were by no means in unison with her facetious conductor’s, “for mercy’s sake consider my uneasiness, and once more let me repeat my appeal to your prudence for back again.” “O,” cried he, interrupting her as usual,—“Prudence and I quarrel’d so heartily in former days, that we have never been friends since, and now when I am continually making advances for her friendship, she flies me, as, as * * * but no matter, reason shall supply her place;—but I’ll tell you what it is now, that little smock-faced visage, contradicts all I say, whether I speak or howld my tongue; therefore, I think you had better drop a disguise that misbecomes you so well.” “Alas! no,” she replied, shuddering at the ideas which this proposal excited, and which originated in his advice at first, “Alas! no, it must be continued for the present.
“At this house (they were then fronting Polygon’s Casa) I may be permitted to indulge in a solitude so necessary to my safety; at any rate, I cannot assume a female dress while under his roof; who, I fear, but too justly deserves the suspicion you entertain of him, and whose notice nothing short of absolute necessity, could induce either of us to accept.” “Enough of that child, I know more than you do of the ould Hyena;—but look up, in yonder eastern borander are the young ladies. Ah, poor little sowl! there sits Seniora Anica, as sad as ever.”
The Captain’s introduction of his pretended nephew, although in his usual stile, was wholly devoid of the smallest hint that could cause any apprehension; and Almeria, who was not fastidious as to the elegancies of life, felt little other difficulty than what arose from her ignorance of the language, but even this was obviated in a great measure by Francisca’s receiving her in broken, but tolerable English; and when Derrick awkwardly placed his nephew’s confusion to that sourse, the sprightly Portuguese entered into a conversation, which added by a brilliant and expressive countenance, threw a gleam of cheerfulness over this first interview.
“I suppose,” said the animated girl, “Senior Charles understands by what lucky chance we have obtained the pleasure of your society.” “O yes,” cried Derrick, “but I have not told him what an original ould Polygon is, and that we never meet without sparring, nor part without making it up;” “True Capitano; but this gentleman must pardon me for observing, it is but a natural consequence when two originals meet.” “Why yes, jewel, we were flint and steel to each other; and no wonder, for he was always provoking me with some bitter gibe, nor could I when a boy, partake of his dull amusements, which consisted in measuring the superficies of trees that he could’nt grasp, or peeping at the stars in a cloudy night through an eighteen penny microscope—O, but here he comes his own self now. Well little Isaac, and what’s the best news from above?” “Hay, Captain Derrick, by all the rules of architecture.” “And Isaac Polygon, by all the rules of formality;—and now ould boy I have announced you to my nephew, do pray tell us the subject of your present meditations.” “Whatever they were, I am indebted to you for their interruption.”—“Why to be sure now its divilish hard that a man must be interrupted when thinking of, of mischief; but perhaps you were only inventing a new dress for your mortal goddesses.” “Why I do think something might be invented even for their advantage, though to hazard an opinion, I will venture to assert that the English women have improved in that article, since the year 75, when their heads resembled an Egyptian Pyramid reversed; but now their whole appearance is more conformable to the rules of architecture for the petticoat I say, for the petticoat forms an exact radius in front, and the head answers to a parallelogram.” “So then sir, you are determining our dress by scientific rules, and defining it by tropes and metaphors, but indeed this is the first time I have heard a lady’s head bore any affinity to a long square.” “O simple chit,” cried the man of science, “what have I to do with thy flimsy parrot’s eloquence?” “Why nothing at all indeed,” replied Derrick, who was truly impatient to enter the lists, “since ’tis well known your observations are as heavy as the brain which produces them.” “As to the matter of brains,” retorted Polygon. “I have reason to know that your’s were never solid enough to comprehend, or conceive, or contain, the noble spirit that actuates my researches; for if I am right in my definition of the empty ball which finishes that inelegant form, it is what may be vulgarly denominated a paper scull.”—“There you’re out ould manufacturer of rhetoric, for I’ll warrant little Patrick’s scull is as thick as your own now.”
A good humoured smile from the Captain’s female auditors;—for even the melancholy Anica could not refuse this tribute to his endeavours, for their amusement gave a zest to Derrick’s blundering talent, although he could not be ignorant of its absurdity, and the delicate reproof produced no other effect than another attempt to rally his slow methodical adversary, whose eagerness to establish a favourite hypothesis, would, he well knew, furnish a large field for the display of its ridiculous pomposity. Resuming therefore, the theme which had pointed Polygon’s last attempt to be witty, he threw a humorous archness into his countenance, which partook equally of an expression of humility, and begged Mr. Isaac would favour the company with his notion on that business, who, notwithstanding their love of English fashions, would certainly sacrifice their opinions to one so able to direct them, what a woman’s dress ought to be. Satisfied by an address, whose concealed sarcasm escaped notice, and assuming an air of self complacency, “Why,” replied the man of science, at the same instant replacing the cup of chocolate which he had just taken from the pensive Anica’s hand, settling his frill, and rising with awkward dignity, “I do aver that a woman’s paraphernalia should be regulated by the square and compass;—for instance now, how much more gratifying to the taste of a person of discrimination?” Again adjusting his frill and raising his short unwieldy frame to catch a look of admiration from the noble pier glass opposite to which he stood “I repeat how much more gratifying would be this lady’s appearance (touching Anica’s pale averted cheek) could we trace the Composite, Ionic, Tuscan, or Corinthian order in her dress?” “Why I don’t know,” cried the arch Francisca, “whether this notion would be so very outre, provided we are allowed to chuse the mode, in that case I should vote for the Corinthian.” “Doubtless, Seniora Butterfly; but had I any influence in this important business, you should be confined to the Doric. I say Corinthian indeed, with its flowery ornaments.” “Thank you good sir, but if I must resemble a pillar of statuary, it should be once of the gayest model.” “St. Anthony grant you were but as chaste in appearance, and as cold in constitution, as the beautiful figures you so foolishly gibe at; but I do not wonder at your flippancy, while encouraged by the grin of ignorant contempt, which defaces your coadjutor’s no-meaning features, (glancing at Derrick a look of displeasure) he, I dare aver, would rather contemplate that roguish twist of the lips which you intend for a smile, than that sublime, though distant object, the planet Mercury.”—“O faith and that’s what I would now, for belave little Derrick or not, he would sooner gaze at the love-inspiring countenance of a pretty girl, than stare with aching neck, blind eyes, and half starved limbs, at those luminaries, which after all, nobody can ever be the better for; for they mock the Philosopher’s toil, and elude his utmost researches.”
“Egregious ignorance,” cried the would-be Philosopher, again striving to catch another look at the mirror which reflected two such opposites, as if to find a motive for triumph in the comparison, “Thou enemy to the sublime and intricate study of astronomy; stranger to the mysterious operations of Aldebaran, Castor, Jupiter, Saturn, Mercury, Venus.” “Not so fast, Old One, clap a stopper on your tongue; though faith it is seldom so unruly, except when Venus is the subject.” “Venus,” repeated Isaac, with fastidious scorn,—“Depreciate not that lovely planet by such inviduous reflection.”—“O to be sure she is a swate crater, but why I can’t tell, seeing as how she is nothing at all in a single duet; and then as to the matter of those mysterious appearances you talk of—why what does it all signify to Patrick Derrick, so as he can but see the polar star in a foggy night. The mystery indeed, of a deep head, and designing heart, may be worth investigating, and before long I will endeavour to ******”. Here he made an abrupt pause, though the significant nod and expressive leer which supplied that pause, was not lost upon Almeria, who read in the deep crimson hue of Polygon’s cheek, a consciousness of some dishonourable transaction alluded to by Derrick. Anica also sighed so heavily, and turned a look of such abhorrent disgust upon her guardian, as if she likewise participated in the Captain’s motive for an observation so dark, and yet so pointed. Be that as it would, the conversation was immediately terminated by Isaac in a very unceremonious way, while Derrick rubbed his hands in visible triumph, nodding sagaciously at this crest-fallen antagonist as he quitted the room. The encreasing languor of our quondam midshipman, now excited her uncle’s attention, who after an awkward attempt to cheer her spirits, and warmingly recommending her to the two Senioras, hastily departed for the purpose of beginning a search in which her happiness and his sincere friendship were jointly and deeply implicated.
TRIALS OF TENDERNESS.
IT may now be necessary not only to account for Almeria Cleveland’s retention of a disguise, so improperly calculated for her feminine appearance and natural delicacy, but to trace also, the circumstances which introduced her to the notice of a being so rough (though so guileless) as Captain Derrick; and to do this, we must advert to a period when that estimable creature figured in a station, extremely subordinate to that in which he has been so recently viewed.
Enthusiastically attached to the amor patrie, Patrick found all his fund of native good humour, and fraternal tenderness, scarcely equal to the violence done to it, by his favorite and only sister’s abdication of a country so precious in his estimation; and when pressed to give her hand to Abraham Dawson, a simple Wiltshire curate, who had spent both time and money to no purpose, endeavouring to obtain a more wealthy curacy than his own, in the north of Ireland; Derrick demurred to a proposal that carried on the face of it, the destruction of his dearest hope; but Mary pleaded, and Mary when she appealed to Patrick’s feelings, had never pleaded in vain, consequently she became the wife of Abraham Dawson, and an alien from her affectionate brother, and dear little Ireland, leaving him without one tie of consanguinity to detain him at Killalee Castle; within whose domains, his predecessors had cultivated a spot of ground, sufficient to produce the necessaries of existence. Derrick again prepared to reassume an occupation that had been previously interrupted by Mary’s establishment, and soon found himself an almost solitary wanderer, as he described his situation in the Mediterranean, where he met with various success for several years, during the lapse of which, the affection of his once loved Mary, met with repeated trials, which the fervent attention of her guileless Abraham, could not always avert.
The letters of her brother, were short and unsatisfactory, and after the first twelvemonth, he ceased to write at all. Added to this trouble, she had to contend with certain habits and peculiar ideas, not exactly consonant to her own notions of the dignity attached to Mr. Dawson’s profession.
By the poorer sort, his advice was most humbly solicited; by the middling class, his opinions, if not always adopted, were never openly opposed; and, as if to encourage the predominant foible of his wife, the doors of Wallbrook Tower, a modern ruin, as Derrick would have stiled it) were never shut upon the worthy curate, nor would Mary have been excluded, if she could have persuaded the despotic Abraham to grant that to her self importance, which his own modesty denied to himself; but seldom as Sir Henry Tillotson admitted his refusal of an invitation, calculated to raise the good pastor in the general opinion, there were times when he strenuously determined not to accept the kindly intended honor. Upon these occasions, Mary would sometimes argue, infer, draw conclusions, and without a single idea of the powers of rhetoric, as defined and employed by the logician, run nearly through the whole of that not very comprehensive science; but her arguments were unanswered, her inferences useless, and her conclusions vague; at other times she would content herself with a gentle insinuation, a shrewd remark, or a pompous display of the rose-coloured damask, faced with yellow padusoy, as a proof of her taste in dress and ability, to shine in Lady Tillotson’s parties.
Alas, for Mary, neither her eloquence of speech, nor the splendor of her habiliments, could prevail upon the stubborn Abraham, to relax either in his judgment or determination, when a certain dignitary and his lady, with several other distinguished families, made an occasional visit at Wallbrook Tower, or indeed at any other season, except those in which the numerous tenantry were invited according to their different ranks, either as guests of the landlord, or his steward.
It was a positive article in Mary’s creed, that every one of the sacred profession was, or ought to be, upon an equal footing; to be forbidden then to mix with a society, of which (such was her veneration of Abraham’s talents) she positively believed her husband to be its greatest ornament, was a circumstance, almost too grievous to be borne; but Abraham was tenacious, and Mary found every effort to establish her own opinion weak and ineffectual.
On one of those memorable days, when Mrs. Dawson had exhibited an extraordinary portion of fruitless eloquence, she found herself compelled to an unwilling silence, by the sudden departure of Abraham, who, extremely loth to enter the field against an opponent, that notwithstanding this childish foible, he tenderly esteemed, or rather loved, had quitted his comfortable cottage, in a heavy rain, to avoid any further useless altercation.— Conscious of the motive which induced him to desert his social board, and the comforts of a cheerful fire-side, Mary lamented with tears of bitterness, her ridiculous obstinacy, and while she gave the glowing embers a hasty stir, pictured to herself the situation of her husband, who, driven by her folly, was encountering upon the almost trackless plain, a penetrating shower and piercing wind.
While thus indulging in useless reflections, the miserable matron was completely roused by a clattering of hoofs, the beating of a stick against the low pales which enclosed her little garden, and a halloo that perfectly restored the use of every dormant faculty. Starting suddenly from her feet, and careless of the rain which descended in torrents, she ran to the gate, and hastily withdrawing a little bolt, was instantly recognized by Patrick Derrick; whose rough tones conveyed to her affectionate heart, a pleasure it had long mourned for.
To the joy her brother’s appearance excited, Mary speedily added an eager, but painful curiosity. Even Abraham, the injured Abraham, wandering perhaps, amongst the noble druidical reliques of Stonehenge, which lay nearly two miles south-west of their cottage, or vainly seeking a shelter beneath its massive pillars, was for that instant forgotten.
Derrick, whom she had not seen for three years, returned in visible distress, mounted upon a wretched animal; his head armed with no other defence from a raging storm, than what a red cap afforded; his person partly covered by an old roquelaure; beneath which, he seemed to bear a considerable burden, drenched with wet. This Derrick was a subject that totally engrossed her present feelings, and she welcomed him with uplifted hands and a flood of tears.
Not quite so delicate in his expression of tenderness, was her unexpected visitor; who giving the bridle an awkward twitch, he brought the horses heels in contact with Mary’s spotless apron; but she, by hastily starting backwards, escaped with no other mishap, than a considerable portion of mud upon her cloaths. This extorted a hearty laugh from the thoughtless sailor; while he swore by his “Sowle he had not met with a foot of dry land all the way from Salisbury, but what was knee-deep in mud;” adding, that he had been twice landed in a wet ditch, only the day before; therefore, he supposed she might fancy he had been keelhauled; and then turning suddenly round upon a boy who was uneasily and dangerously placed behind him, he bid him bring his feet to an anchor, and hold the mettlesome jade, while he dismounted.
Happy to be freed from a companion so uncomfortable, the lad immediately obeyed his orders, and Derrick was soon upon his legs; while Mary, who was more than satisfied with the specimen he had given of his skill in horsemanship, kept a respectful distance till he had discharged the boy, and had reached the entrance of her keeping room. She then ventured to approach, with an intent to take the bundle, which he visibly endeavoured to detain from her sight, till putting back her extended hands, with the one he kept at liberty, and retreating a step or two, he asked with a dry and solemn aspect, “if she could keep a secret?” Mary, though somewhat astonished, simply replied, “she could not tell, for she had never tried.”— “O well, then my dear, I have got a bit of one now, d’ye see, that you may keep till doom’s-day, and longer too if you please, for nobody will try to get it from you belike.” He then, to her great amazement, slowly and cautiously unfolded the ragged roquelaure, from which he drew a little creature, wrapt in a man’s surtout, which added to a small bundle that was fastened about Patrick’s arm, made his burthen of a tolerable magnitude.
From the swoll’n lids and wet cheeks, of this hapless child, it appeared as if she had cried herself into a sleep, which Derrick’s vociferation and unruly motions at the gate, could scarcely disturb; however, she was then sufficiently awakened to gaze with fearful astonishment, upon the surrounding objects; till settling her sweet eyes upon Mrs. Dawson’s good humoured countenance, she extended her arms towards her, broke into a suppressed whimper, and then turned a reluctant glance upon her rough nurse, as if desirous to escape his caresses, of which Patrick was by no means sparing. “Pretty sowle,” cried he, endeavouring to detain her, “Why will you leave your own dear uncle?”—“Mama,” exclaimed the child, still struggling to get from him. “Mina rica mama—sothades—sothades.”— “What does she say brother?” asked the simple Mary, clasping the little foreigner to her bosom; “but no matter, she shall be my child; though I cannot help crying when I think.” “O now, I beg you will make no apologies for crying, becase as why, I myself can never see clearer than when I am blinded with the tear of sympathy. But hollo, where’s Abraham—what will he say to my little Portuguese. O Molly, I have a long story to tell about her; but let’s have a drop of grog first.”— “I have good ale brother, which you may like better perhaps, as it was brewed by my husband,” replied Mary, who felt all her solicitude for her husband, awakened by this malapropos enquiry. “Well, well, no odds for that, they are all the same so as a man can but have enough. But Abraham I say” “O don’t mention his name * * * * * * *” cried Mrs. Dawson, “He is; I know not where he is, but my folly has driven him away.” “Then my prudence shall fetch him back Molly,” retorted the kind-hearted sailor, (who mindless of the grog, and the various comforts his situation demanded, was sallying forth in pursuit of his absent brother). “What, I suppose he has taken a short walk to give your tongue a little holiday. O but, I can spy him already in the offing with his sails all aback, and hulling to and fro, like a ship that has lost her rudder.” So saying, Patrick hastened to meet Mr. Dawson, who was indeed, returning to the wife he already began to feel for.
Almost overborne by the rough congratulations of his visitor, the tearful acknowledgment of his Mary’s error, and the astonishing acquisition of an infant guest, Abraham, scarcely knew whether to rejoice or lament, over such singular events; but compassion soon destroyed the apathy of worldly wisdom, and in less than an hour, he contemplated in Derrick’s laughing features, his Mary’s contented countenance, and the sparkling eye of the little unknown, the happy effect of a blazing hearth, warm cloathing, a well covered table, and his own native sweetness of disposition.
With a share of caution, that was by no means Mrs. Dawson’s general characteristic, she avoided any question relative to her brother’s young companion (who wearied with her journey, and refreshed by proper nutriment, soon sunk into a pleasing repose) until himself should be willing to satisfy her curiosity, which had received another stimulus from his own wretched appearance; but in her visible agitation, Abraham soon traced the latent wish, and after ordering a fresh supply of ale and grog, he undertook to relieve their joint anxiety, by putting a few necessary questions, to which Derrick, in his hurrying way, gave short and not very clear replies; but determined to be completely satisfied in every particular, Mary added her mite of inquiry, and at length extorted the following account of those transactions that led to, and succeeded this important business.
From all that could be gathered in a desultory communication, it appeared that Derrick, when he quitted Ireland after his sister’s marriage, made several voyages to and from the Levant; after which, he received a lucrative offer to take the command of a vessel bound to Lisbon, where he occasionally resided during the very little time he remained on shore, which were a few weeks, more or less, as the ship might be detained while unloading.
Derrick in his narrative, failed not to confess a degree of negligence in his epistolary correspondence; acknowledging he had written but twice in the last two years, and as he received no answer, concluded he was forgotten. He then went on to say, that on the 22d of September, after having been sumptuously regaled by some of the British factory, he was returning to the beach, where a boat waited his arrival, he was to sail on the following day, but that he was induced by the serenity of the hour, to stroll towards a vineyard, which at that season was generally enlivened by parties of both sexes, to enjoy its cool delights, as well as to partake of the festivities of those, whose business it was to strip the vines of their delicious incumbrances. Already the voice of merriment stole upon his ear, and the tones of various rustic instruments, now heightened by the evening breeze, grew gradually stronger. The quick step of hilarity then became distinguishable, and in a few minutes more our light-hearted Irishman, found himself encompassed by a troop of lads and lasses, some of whom belonging to the factory, welcomed his arrival with apparent pleasure, and in the gaiety of a moment so congenial to his temper, he forget every thing but the scene before him; till startled by an early dawn, he suddenly recollected his obligation to leave Portugal before the next night. As his way to the beach lay wide of his companion’s intended rout, they pointed out a path, which leading through a narrow defile, would bring him to the spot where he expected to find his boat, and Derrick, after a hearty adieu, hastened forward, not extremely well satisfied with the folly that had occasioned a delay so inconvenient. Advanced to the utmost depth of that gloomy valley, he felt a sensation not unlike awe, creeping about his heart, and looked on every side with a dread for which he could not account, when suddenly his courage was completely put to the test, by the appearance of a figure, who rapidly descended by a path near which he must pass. Derrick would have fled, for some how his fortitude (as he nautically expressed himself) was at the lowest ebb, and at the dead of the neaps; but when this unwelcome interrupter entreated him, “for St. Anthony’s sake, to stop and rescue an innocent and devoted babe, from a cruel death,” his courage returned, beat his ancient opposer Prudence, out of the field, and left him totally under the dominion of pity;—actuated by that lovely principle, Patrick took the wretched little creature in his arms, vowing at the same instant, never to desert it. “Now then,” exclaimed the miserable object who conveyed it thither, “I will hope that one branch of a persecuted race may be spared the tortures which hang over its misguided parent.”
“Senior,” continued he, “To-morrow’s sun will behold the destruction of an entire family, already the wheels are preparing to receive their miserable bodies. Even this child would have shared their horrid fate, and must have suffered with her once noble father. Adieu then, pity and preserve the young Almeria D’Aveiro’s Heir.”
As Derrick knew enough of Portuguese to comprehend the nature of this request, and as he knew that in consequence of an attack upon the King of Portugal’s life, a whole family, whether guilty or not, were to share in the awful punishment; he had no difficulty in crediting this information, and wrapping his adopted child in his own capota, hastened to the boat, which luckily had not changed her station. As it was the very first occasion on which poor Patrick’s talents as a nurse, had been called into action, his awkward acquittal of that office may be easily imagined; nor did he wonder at his Protegee’s tearful reluctance, to accept the tasteful viands prepared for her by the no less awkward cabin boy, but as there were no alternative, little Almeria Sothades, as Derrick called her, became rather better reconciled to her rough attendants, before they had cleared Cabo de Roco; and by the period of their entering the Bay of Biscay, she began to address her preserver by the name of uncle, another whim of that excentric being.
Till they had cleared considerably more than two thirds of this dangerous Bay, a soft and steady gale made their passage serenely pleasant, but Derrick, whose judgment respecting the weather, was seldom erroneous, beheld a halo form itself about the sun, with no very pleasurable sensations. The wind sunk to a dead calm, while the water appeared agitated without any visible means. A number of aquatic birds too, by their incessant screams and eagerness to seek some sheltering rocks, were so many omens of a speedy change. It was in vain to croud sails, which flapped against the mast; all then that could be done, was to prepare the dead lights, to put his vessel into such a trim, as might best suit the expected occasion, and to wait patiently for the issue of those prognostics.
Soon, very soon, were our experienced seaman’s fears verified; the storm approached, or rather overtook them, with a rapidity not to be opposed, and more than once the ship was laid upon her beam ends; so that it required the utmost skill to keep its cargo from shifting entirely.
Notwithstanding Derrick’s restless activity, which like lightning, pervaded every part of the vessel, he forgot not his poor little charge; and when, in consequence of a violent blast, the main-mast went by the board, and he was morally certain they should soon go to pieces, he ran down into the cabin, snatched up the screaming child, wrapped her in his capota, and with a small bundle which contained part of the rich attire she wore when he first received her, carried her upon deck, nor parted with her, till he could do it with safety.
To depicture the horrors of inevitable shipwreck. To paint the despair, the extravagance, the inebriation of men no longer under subordinate discipline, is a task unequal to a mind unused to such scenes of anarchy and confusion; and Derrick’s description was so interlarded with nautical epithets and allusions, as to be nearly unintelligible to his attentive auditors.
The only hope left to our unfortunate Captain, was that of hailing some vessel better calculated to withstand a tempest so destructive. Anxiously then did he (after fruitlessly attempting to reason with creatures acting under the joint influence of intoxication and despair) examine, when the lurid flashes permitted, every part of the horizon within his ken, but it appeared as if they alone were left to contend with the wild effects of winds and waves; and many hours elapsed in doubt and fearful forebodings. Not a hand but his own, would ply the pump. The water was already three foot in the hold, gaining rapidly upon Derrick’s endeavours to supply the place of a maddening crew; and indeed, cried he, at this part of his narrative, “I found enough to do, supporting with one hand the poor little Portuguese, and pumping with the other, till my strength was exhausted. O but, and I cannot forget my surprise to find when the day broke upon us, it was still midnight, for after the ship began to settle, I found it was all over, and I ran to her stern, which by that time beat so hard against a rock, while her head seemed every moment ready to part, owing to the shock of such a heavy sea; and as I could do no good below, I thought I would just see how the land lay.”
Poor Derrick’s observation in this particular, encreased his surprise to a painful degree. The morning, although not quite so gloomy as midnight, would barely permit him to discover a sort of huge excavation in the monstrous cliffs, which frowned dreadfully above his devoted vessel; but as the dawn strengthened, he perceived a high coast, which trended rather northward, and while musing in much perplexity, upon his local situation, the mate, who had recovered recollection sufficient to feel, ran distractedly towards his Captain, swearing they would all be lost, and food for Davy Jones; “for see ye now,” exclaimed the terrified Scot, “yon frightful beach where I was wreck’d some few years since, which men ca Chesil Bank, so that you mun guess we are noo under Portland Island.”
This information Derrick could scarcely credit, as it seemed impossible for the vessel to have made so much way in four and twenty hours, although the wind had shifted to the east, within the first six of their perilous situation—but there was little time for argument; a violent crash announced their impending doom. The ship’s back was broke by the straining of her timbers; in consequence, she parted almost immediately; and Derrick, with his infant charge, and Michal Hamilton, being providentially on her stern, supported themselves by the broken gallery, till they obtained a sure footing upon a ledge of the tremendous rock, while a short and mingled shriek from the sinking vessel, just reached their ears as they were struggling to preserve themselves from an equally dreadful fate.
Divided at that awful moment, between gratitude for this almost miraculous preservation, and pity for those who were not so fortunate, our ship-wrecked Captain adverted not to the dangers which still awaited them. Three biscuits and a small bottle of cordial, was all the refreshment they possessed; not that it would have added to their security had there been ten times as much. Other consequences besides those arising from unsatisfied hunger, threatened still more alarming mischief.
The tide was out, but would soon return; and although a higher ledge of rock might be gained, even that was within reach of the waves, and above this temporary security, no farther means of escape offered; for the cliff projected so much beyond their station, and the dangerous navigation beneath, so effectually excluded every hope of permitting any vessel to come with the vortex of waves, whose confined powers of acting, occasioned a sort of whirlpool near the awful excavation, that Derrick frankly acknowledged he gave up every hope of deliverance, and indeed, said he, “when I look down upon the little thing who rested within my wet bosom, and moaned as if its poor heart was breaking, I thought ***** but no matter what I thought, when the noise of the waves prevented my thinking at all, or seeing any thing indeed by the big rock which dangled over my head like—O indeed now it was like, nothing at all at all that I had ever seen before.”
Derrick’s observation upon this part of his narrative, though simple and blundering, went to the hearts of his feeling auditors. Abraham dashed a tear from his cheek, while Mary wept over the hand of her sleeping charge, who had unconsciously extended it towards her mouth, from whence it sunk upon the friendly bosom
The attention of our ship-wrecked wanderers, soon became anxiously confined to the swelling surge, as it gradually pervaded their recess; not a word was uttered by either of them, while a hopeless eye attentively directed to each other’s pallid countenance, declared the anguish they endured. And now the restless foam began to dash against the rock beneath, covering their shivering bodies with its silver spray, and then retiring with a terrifying noise.—While thus awfully employed, the Captain was interrupted by his infant companion’s inarticulate complaint of hunger; and Michal’s biscuits were produced, and her lips welted with Derrick’s cordial, tears of compassion pouring from his eyes, at the idea of the instant destruction which awaited her. Again he threw a despairing look over the southern horison, which a brilliant sun and unclouded sky, would have rendered (after the opposite extreme) truly delightful; but to those devoted men, it only exaggerated the horrors of their situation.
A solemn silence now succeeded the late turbulance of the surge; for the tide had arisen to a heighth which prevented its dashing noise, and it stole forward and retired in soft succession. “Ten minutes more,” cried Michal, “and all will be feenushed, for my lags are in the sea already.” “And my feet,” cried Patrick, “are knee-deep, so *****. But avast Michal, I hear a noise.” Michal listened, when the roar of several deep voices reached their delighted ears, and they returned the shout with all their might; a short pause ensued. Derrick’s fears returned, but suddenly a thick rope was seen with a great weight attached to it, depending from the cliff, which by the motion given to it from above, sometimes swung within their reach, although they could not catch the noose, till after several attempts, when Michal luckily obtained a firm hold, and carefully following the direction of their deliverers, the almost exhausted creatures were safely drawn from their perilous station.
Although not much in the habits of high-wrought compassion, the men who had seen on the foregoing day, the vessel struggling in vain against a storm, which they were convinced she could not weather, had assembled by day-break on the cliff surmounting Derrick’s dangerous situation; when certain of the ships destruction, they thought some of her crew might have gained the rock beneath; a circumstance, which had occurred more than once before; but having called till hope itself could no longer encourage their efforts, owing to the roaring of the waves and lowering the rope, which till that providential moment, had been frequently caught by the rocky asperities, they were just retiring, when Derrick and Michal were happily heard, who gratefully thanked those brave and active fellows, for that assistance, of which they had totally despaired; but as soon as the dread of immediate death subsided, our Captain’s troublesome charge became an object of serious inconvenience. True, these friendly people conducted them to a cot where they might dry and refresh themselves, but as nothing remained to Derrick of all his possessions, but the little bundle which fastened to his arm, had escaped with him, and contained nothing but some rich apparel of the child’s, already spoiled by the sea water, he could not in reason expect any further assistance than what might be obtained by begging, a mode of relief which his generous heart detested;—but how were they to be supported in their journey to Amebury, the resi