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To enable the reader to enter fully into Drysdale's views and plan of operation, and to account satisfactorily for his great anxiety to have everything executed as speedily as possible, it is necessary to explain what particularly occupied his mind on this occasion. In the first place, he was impressed with a belief that the ship was only partially aground, and consequently could be more easily detached from her present perilous situation ; in the second, that, by lightening her where she was principally aground, there was a greater probability of getting her off; and, in the third, from considering the time when she struck, which was during ebb-tide, he had good reason to conclude that, on the return of full tide, there would be a very powerful agent in his favour. It was therefore highly necessary that all possible despatch should be made, in order to catch the only favouring circumstance that could occur during that day. In addition to these considerations, Drysdale also knew well the inconvenience and embarrassment annexed to the detention of a large fleet in so confined and dangerous a passage as the Mozambique ; and, anxious to remove all impediments, determined to exert himself to the utmost of his power.
Having summoned the armourer to attend him, he not only gave the necessary directions for repairing the pump-chains, but superintended the operation till it was finally executed ; and addressing himself to the ship's company, encouraged them to apply vigorously and with spirit to labour, by assuring them that in a very short time they would receive assistance from all the ships in the fleet. After seeing the pumps work freely and effectually, anxious to examine critically what hitherto he had only conjectured, he carefully sounded from stem to stern, having previously measured the exact height of the ship's hull above water, in order to ascertain precisely what effects the pumps produced in lightening her where he conceived she principally grounded. His first conjecture was fully supported by experiment; but, unwilling to leave anything untried that might contribute to the relief of the ship, he next determined to discover, if practicable, the nature and direction of the bank or shoal on which she struck, by sounding for a considerable distance around her. In performing this operation with care and correctness, he found that she rested on the edge of a sandbank, and that nearly adjacent there was another shoal, on which there was also good holding-ground. As he had provided himself with an additional boat, with a grappling and hawser, he brought her to anchor on a part 'which he conceived could be depended upon; and perceiving the commodore's boat returning with a number of others from the ships of the fleet, he hastened on board, anxious to ascertain what effect the pumps had produced.
It was with no small satisfaction that Drysdale perceived the consequence of his assiduity. Upon sounding the well, he found hardly three feet of water in the hold; but what afforded him the
greatest pleasure was, the ship having lightened considerably from the quantity of water discharged. Giving immediate directions that the capstan should be manned, and that the best bower anchor and cable should be conveyed to the spot where he had stationed the boat, and where he directed that the anchor should be dropped, he suggested to the captain the propriety of backing the fore and foretop sails, and all the other drawing sails, now that the wind had shifted nearly ahead, and freshened; which, in addition to the operations at the capstan, he conceived the most likely means to accomplish matters during the continuance of the tide already set in, together with a strong current, which he had likewise discovered while sounding
Leaving these operations to be executed on deck, he descended with his mate to try if they could discover the leak, which he considered as of the utmost importance. It was not till the pumps had sucked that Drysdale was enabled to find it out; and when he did discover it, he was highly gratified in finding it such as could be effectually stopped without much difficulty. While he was giving directions to his mate for this purpose, he heard three cheers on deck, and perceiving the ship in motion, immediately concluded that she had been got off. Ascending to ascertain the fact, while his heart throbbed with anxious expectation, he was instantly surrounded by the poor fellows, who, but a few hours before, had given up everything for lost, and who, as soon as they saw him, in token of their gratitude and joy, gave him three cheers more. In return for this compliment, Drysdale informed them that he had discovered the leak, which in a very short time would be completely repaired, and that he hoped, after all their late disasters and labours, they would yet have a safe and prosperous voyage home to England.
As the ship was now fairly under-weigh, the captain, after shaking Drysdale cordially by the hand, and congratulating him on the success of his skill and assiduity, insisted on his accompanying him to the cabin, and taking some refreshment after his indefatigable exertions. The lieutenant, who had returned with the carpenter's mate, likewise joined them, and in talking over the operations of the day, the captain could not avoid remarking the immense value of an experienced ship's carpenter, particularly in long voyages, and lamenting his own situation in the want of one.
I wish from my heart, sir,' said Drysdale, that you had my mate, who is now below stopping the leak, in exchange for the man you have got ; for he is not only one of the cleverest fellows I have inet with, but highly deserving of preferment.'
'I wish I had, rejoined the captain ; ' but that, I am afraid, is altogether out of the question.'
I don't know that,' said the lieutenant ; 'I have some reason to think that neither the captain nor commodore would object to it, were they applied to ; and as your late situation has been perilous, and your present one critical, by not having one qualified to afford proper assistance in the event of your ship meeting with new misfortunes, I think,' continued he, turning to Drysdale, 'that we might represent matters in such a light as to obtain not only forgiveness, but approbation for having, without permission, done what neither time nor situation admits of delay; for I perceive the signal already made on board the commodore for sailing.'
'Nothing, I promise you, shall be wanting on my part to represent this circumstance in the strongest light possible,' said Drysdale ;
and it affords me a double gratification in sparing one of my best hands on the present occasion, and at the same time rewarding a very deserving, worthy man.'
As it was now time to repair on board their own ship, Drysdale and the lieutenant, after wishing the captain a safe and speedy voyage home, took their leave, and as they were proceeding to go down the ship's side, they perceived a boat approaching, which they soon recognised to be one of their own, conveying the lady and her three children back. Having been the principal agents in removing this family from apparent danger, it was but natural for them both to wish to see them safely on board, previous to their final departure; they accordingly remained standing on the steps of the accommodation-ladder ready to receive them. The boat had approached within half a cable's length of the ship, when the lovely girl formerly mentioned, delighted with the near prospect of getting once more into her favourite cabin in the cuddy, suddenly started up, clapping her hands with joy, at the very time the boat unfortunately took a deep heel, when, losing her balance, she instantly dropt overboard. Drysdale, who was standing half-way down the ladder, like a flash of lightning plunged in after the child, and being an excellent swimmer, got up to her just as she was about sinking, and supporting her head with one hand above the waves, dashed through them with the other, till the boat came to their assistance. The agonies of the mother may be well conceived; for, in addition to maternal affection, this of all her children was the greatest favourite. When she, therefore, saw her darling Isabella snatched from a watery grave, and heard her generous protector, as he bore his lovely charge firmly along, calling out to her not to be in the least alarm, for that there was no danger, she experienced a conflux of varied emotions, between terror, hope, and anxiety, not to be described ; but when she once more clasped her recovered child to her bosom, and perceived that he who had saved her was the very man who had that morning, with such humanity, removed them all from a perilous and distressing situation, her sense of gratitude was such that she could only say, as she turned round to him with the most expressive look :
What do I not owe to you this day!' The captain, and every one on board were uncommonly agitated during this accident. When the mother and children were safely brought on deck, little Isabella,
forgetting her own situation, was solicitous about nothing but the comfort of her deliverer. Running up to the captain, she continued exclaiming : 'Oh, give him dry clothes! give him dry clothes, or he will die !'
'He shall have dry clothes immediately, said the captain ; 'do you go and get some on likewise, Isabella, for you have had a very narrow escape indeed. The mother with her children retired to their cabin, but not before she enjoined Drysdale not to depart till he first waited upon her, which he promised, and immediately accompanied the captain to his cabin, who was anxious to relieve him of his sea-drenched garments.
We must again disappoint our sentimental readers in not gratifying them with pathetic speeches, long harangues, and elevated sentiments on this interview. Time will really not admit of them; and consistency in this, as well as in everything else connected with plain unadorned narrative, we consider as of some importance. We shall therefore briefly state that the grateful mother, after lamenting her inability to reward the preserver of her child's life in the manner she could have wished, presented him with an order for 300 pagodas, enclosed in a letter to the father of her children, in the event of the commodore's ship touching at Madras; assuring him at the same time that, upon reading the contents, the person to whom it was addressed would, exclusive of this small testimony of her gratitude, be as willing as he was able to recompense in some degree one whom it was next to impossible he could ever repay for the obligation he owed him. To the lady's astonishment Drysdale positively refused receiving the letter, alleging as his excuse that he had done nothing more than what every man of common humanity and feeling would have done on the same occasion, and consequently that he had no claim or title whatever to recompenses or rewards. After surveying him for a few moments with a look of surprise, she requested that, since he rejected so trifling a mark of her gratitude, he would at least accept of some token in remembrance of her. 'Here,' said she, taking down a chased gold watch, with several seals attached to a rich chain, that hung near her in the cuddyhere is the only article I have at hand to present to you, as a small remembrance of one whom perhaps you may never more see, but of whose gratitude and esteem you may be well assured, while dife and memory remain.'
“What, madam!' said Drysdale, stepping back with affected astonishment, 'would you have me act the part of a common highwayman or footpad, and rob a lady of her watch and trinkets? Impossible! You cannot surely have so bad an opinion of me; but since you are so very anxious to give me something to keep in my remembrance what I am confident I never could forget, I shall with pleasure accept of one of those seals, which I shall most carefully preserve, not as a remembrancer of this memorable day's events, but as a token of the kindness and worth of the giver. This is all I can or will receive at present.'
After another look, which disposed the lady to view Drysdale in a very different light from that in which his immediate station had placed him, she selected one of the seals, and presenting it to him, said : ‘Should you ever chance to meet with the father of these children, and shew him this seal, he will know well from whom you received it.'
Drysdale, for its better security, immediately affixed it to a plain coarse steel chain that was attached to a silver watch of about forty shillings value ; and embracing the children, with a warmth of affection peculiar to him, wished the fond mother (who, with little Isabella, wept at his departure) a safe and happy arrival in England, and hurried from a scene too powerful for his feelings.
The ships now proceeded on their different courses, and that on board of which were Drysdale and Cochran soon after arrived safely at Madras.
INDIA-SKILL LEADS TO FORTUNE. Shortly after arriving in India, one of those extraordinary and unforeseen occurrences which frequently happen in human affairs took place in favour of Cochran. "The secretary was seized with a fever, which carried him off in a few days, and Cochran, at the special request of the dying man, was appointed to succeed him. One of our young heroes thus dropped immediately into an exceedingly lucrative office, and became the friend and associate of the naval commander-in-chief.
Drysdale's good-fortune was not less remarkable, but it came in a different and much more interesting way. For two years he was engaged in the ordinary duties of his profession, visiting during this period various ports in India and the Eastern Archipelago, and more than once doing great service to vessels in distress, for which he earned not only thanks, but rewards suitable to his merits. At the end of two years the vessel returned to Madras, where he again had the happiness of seeing his old friend Cochran. One day Cochran returned his visit to the ship, and chanced to use the seal of Drysdale's watch in sealing a note, not having brought his own with him. What great events spring from the most trifling causes! The seal employed on this occasion was that which the lady already spoken of had presented to Drysdale; and the note which bore its impress, by a fortunate coincidence, was one addressed to the husband of the lady in question. Surprised by the circumstance, he waited upon the secretary, and begged of him to inform him how the seal had come into his possession. This Mr Cochran readily did, stating all the circumstances which had led to his friend becoming its owner. Delighted