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young girls of the same complexion, instantly rose to re
"Beg pardon," said Mr. Treenail, “pray, is this Mr.
's house ?” “Yes, sir, it is." “Will
you have the goodness to say if he be at home?" “Oh yes, sir, he is dere upon dinner wid company,” said the lady
"Well,” continued the lieutenant, "say to him, that an officer of his Majesty's sloop Torch is below, with despatches for the admiral.”
"Surely, sir,—surely,” the dark lady continued; “Follow me, sir; and dat small gentleman [Thomas Cringle, Esquire, no less !]-him will better follow me too."
We left the room, and turning to the right, landed in the lower piazza of the house, fronting the north. A large clumsy stair occupied the eastermost end, with a massive mahogany balustrade, but the whole affair below was very ill lighted. The brown lady preceded us; and, planting herself at the bottom of the staircase, began to shout to some one above
"Toby !—Toby!—buccra gentlemen arrive, Toby.” But no Toby responded to the call.
“My dear madam," said Treenail, “I have little time for ceremony. Pray usher us up into Mr. -'s presence.
“Den follow me, gentlemen, please.'
Forthwith we all ascended the dark staircase until we reached the first landing-place, when we heard a noise as of two negroes wrangling on the steps above us.
"You rascall” sang out one, “take dat; larn you for teal my wittal!”—then a sharp crack, as if he had smote the culprit across the pate; whereupon, like a shot, a black fellow, in a handsome livery, trundled down, pursued by another servant with a large silver ladle in his hand, with which he was belabouring the fugitive over his Aint-hard skull, right against our hostess, with the drumstick of a turkey in his hand, or rather in his mouth.
"Top, you tief !—top, you tief !—for me piece dat,” shouted the pursuer.
"You dam rascal!" quoth the dame. But she had no time to utter another word, before the fugitive pitched, with all his weight, against her; and at the very moment another servant came trundling down with a large tray full of all kinds of meats—and I especially remember that two large crystal stands of jellies composed part of his load—so there we were regularly capsized, and caught all of a heap in the dark landing-place, halfway up the stair; and down the other flight tumbled our guide, with Mr. Treenail and myself, and the two blackies on the top of her, rolling in our descent over, or rather into, another large mahogany tray which had just been carried out, with a tureen of turtle soup in it, and a dish of roast-beef, and platefuls of land-crabs, and the Lord knows what all besides.
The crash reached the ear of the landlord, who was seated at the head of his table in the upper piazza, a long gallery about fifty feet long by fourteen wide, and he immediately rose and ordered his butler to take a light. When he came down to ascertain the cause of the uproar. I shall never forget the scene.
There was, first of all, mine host, a remarkably neat personage, standing on the polished mahogany stair, three steps above his servant, who was a very well-dressed respectable elderly negro, with a candle in each hand; and beneath him, on the landing-place, lay two trays of viands, broken tureens of soup, fragments of dishes, and fractured glasses, and a chaos of eatables and drinkables, and table gear scattered all about, amidst which lay scrambling my lieutenant and myself, the brown housekeeper, and the two negro servants, all more or less covered with gravy and wine dregs. However, after a good laugh, we gathered ourselves up, and at length we were ushered on the scene. Mine host, after stilling his laughter the best way he could, again sat down at the head of his table, sparkling with crystal and wax-lights, while a superb lamp hung overhead. The company was composed chiefly of naval and military men, but there was also a sprinkling of civilians, or muftees, to use a West India expression. Most of them rose as we entered, and after they had taken a glass of wine, and had their laugh at our mishap, our landlord retired to one side with Mr. Treenail, while I, poor little middy as I was, remained standing at the end of the room, close to the head of the stairs. The gentleman who sat at the foot of the table had his back towards me, and was not at first aware of my presence. But the guest at his right hand, a happy-looking, red-faced, welldressed man, soon drew his attention towards me. The party to whom I was thus indebted seemed a very joviallooking personage, and appeared to be well known to all hands, and indeed the life of the party, for, like Falstaff, he was not only witty in himself, but the cause of wit in others.
The gentleman to whom he had pointed me out immediately rose, made his bow, ordered a chair, and made room for me beside himself, where, the moment it was known that we were direct from home, such a volley of questions was fired off at me that I did not know which to answer first. At length, after Treenail had taken a glass or two of wine, the agent started him off to the admiral's pen in his own gig, and I was desired to stay where I was until he returned.
The whole party seemed very happy, my boon ally was fun itself, and I was much entertained with the mess he made when any of the foreigners at table addressed him in French or Spanish. I was particularly struck with a small, thin, dark Spaniard, who told very feelingly how the night before, on returning home from a party to his own lodgings, on passing through the piazza, he stumbled against something heavy that lay in his grass-hammock, which usually hung there. He called for a light, when, to his horror, he found the body of his old and faithful valet lying in it, dead and cold, with a knife sticking under his fifth rib — no doubt intended for his master. The speaker was Bolivar. About midnight, Mr. Treenail returned, we shook hands with Mr. - , and once more shoved off; and, guided by the lights shown on board the Torch we were safe home again by three in the morning, when we immediately made sail, and nothing particular happened until we arrived within a day's sail of New Providence. It seemed that, about a week before, a large American brig, bound from Havana to Boston had been captured in this very channel by one of our men-of-war schooners, and carried into Nassau; out of which port, for their own security, the authorities had fitted a small schooner, carrying six guns and twenty-four men. She was commanded by a very gallant fellow—there is no disputing that-and he must needs emulate the conduct of the officer who had made the capture; for in a fine clear night, when all the officers were below rummaging in their kits for the killing things they should array themselves in on the morrow, so as to smite the Fair of New Providence to the heart at a blow—Whiss—a shot flew over our mast-head.
"A small schooner lying to right ahead, sir," sang out the boatswain from the forecastle.
Before we could beat to quarters, another sang between our masts. We kept steadily on our course, and as we approached our pigmy antagonist, he bore up. Presently we were alongside of him.
"Heave to,” hailed the strange sail; "heave to, or I'll
sink you.” The devil you will, you midge, thought I.
The captain took the trumpet—“Schooner, ahoy”—no answer—"D—n your blood, sir, if you don't let everything go by the run this instant, I'll fire a broadside. Strike, sir, to his Britannic Majesty's sloop Torch.”
The poor fellow commanding the schooner had by this time found out his mistake, and immediately came on board, where, instead of being lauded for his gallantry, I am sorry to say he was roundly rated for his want of discernment in mistaking his Majesty's cruiser for a Yankee merchantman. Next forenoon we arrived at Nassau.
In a week after we again sailed for Bermuda, having taken on board ten American skippers, and several other Yankees, as prisoners of war.
For the first three days after we cleared the Passages, we had fine weather-wind at east-south-east; but after that it came on to blow from the north-west, and so continued without intermission during the whole of the passage to Bermuda. On the fourth morning after we left Nassau, we descried a sail in the south-east quarter, and immediately made sail in chase. We overhauled her about noon; she hove to, after being fired at repeatedly; and, on boarding her, we found she was a Swede from Charleston, bound to Havre-de-Grace. All the letters we could find on board were very unceremoniously broken open, and nothing having transpired that could identify the cargo as enemy's property, we were bundling over the side, when a nautical-looking subject, who had attracted my attention from the first, put in his oar.
"Lieutenant,” said he, "will you allow me to put this barrel of New York apples into the boat as a present to Captain Deadeye, from Captain * * * of the United States navy?"
Mr. Treenail bowed, and said he would; and we shoved off and got on board again, and now there was the devil to