I am so unfashionable as to pay my debts—ben's opinion as to my father's return—the chances exemplified in the list of killed and wounded—the "l'orient" blowing up and the "royal george" going down.
Time passed, and three years of it certainly were not unprofitably spent. Anderson had instructed me well. I could read, write, and cipher, and, what the reader will consider of more consequence, I was well acquainted with the Bible, and duly admonished by my preceptor of my duty toward God and man. Nor was my sister Virginia neglected. My mother, as soon as she was seven years old, sent her as a day scholar to a young ladies' seminary, where she was well taught, although the style of the school was much above my sister's situation in life; but my mother would not allow her to go anywhere else, although there were several schools more appropriate. She declared that Virginia should not mix with the vulgar, ungenteel girls of the place, and that, if she had demeaned herself by marrying below her rank, at all events her daughter should be brought up as she ought to be. The neighbors laughed at her, but my mother did not care. She worked hard, and always was ready to pay the quarter's bill for schooling whenever it was due.
To me Sunday was a day of rejoicing; I was so glad to throw off my ragged apparel of "Poor Jack" and put on my best clothes, that I might walk with my sister, for my mother gradually softened down her asperity (perhaps out of prudence), as she could raise no objection to Virginia walking with her brother when he was clean and well dressed, and Virginia was very firm in supporting me when I requested permission. Indeed, latterly my requests were more like demanding a right than a favor, and my mother appeared to wish to avoid a contest with me. She knew that I was a good scholar, very independent of her, and very much liked. The favorable opinion of others induced her to treat me with more consideration; but we had no regard for each other, only preserving a sort of armed neutrality.
There are grades in all classes of life; and the young ladies' seminary, to which Virginia went as a day scholar, had its distinctions of rank. The first in consequence among the young ladies were the two daughters of Mr. Tippet, the haberdasher; then came the hatter's daughter, Miss Beaver. The grades appeared to be as follows: manufactures held the first rank; then dry goods, as the tea-dealers, grocers, etc.; the third class consisted of the daughters of the substantial butchers and pastrycooks. The squabbles between the young ladies about rank and precedence were continual: what then must have been the position of poor little Virginia, whose mother was a clear-starcher and getter-up of fine linen? At first they called her the washerwoman's daughter, and would not associate with her, which made her very uncomfortable; and she used to tell me on the Sundays when we walked out how she had been treated during the week. But it was all for her advantage, and tended to correct the false pride and upstart ideas which in time must have been engendered by my mother's folly. Neither, after a few weeks, was my sister unhappy. She was too meek in disposition to reply, so that she disarmed those who would assail her; and being, as she was, of the lowest rank in the school, there could be no contest with the others as to precedence. Her mildness, humility, and sweetness of temper soon won upon both the schoolmistress and the scholars; eventually the Misses Tippet took Virginia under their protection, and this magnanimity on their part silenced all opposition. My mother had desired my sister to take lessons in dancing. At first the girls would not stand up with her; but, when the elder Miss Tippet took her as a partner, my sister became quite the fashion, and, what was better, a great favorite and pet with everybody; and they all patronized her as "little Virginia."
I very soon paid off my debt to old Nanny, without having to apply to Peter Anderson. I had assistance (but without asking for it) as follows: The second Sunday after I had obtained my clothes I called, with Virginia, upon the widow of St. Felix. She was in the back parlor, and the doctor, as usual, sitting with her. She received us very kindly, spoke a deal to Virginia, and told me that I looked very handsome for "Poor Jack."
"You'll be quite the fashion," continued she; "and I presume, like most fashionable gentlemen, your clothes are not paid for."
I replied, laughing, that they were not; but that they should be, if I lived and could work.
"I've heard the whole story from old Ben," replied she. "Come in to-morrow, Jack; I want to speak with you."
I did so in the forenoon, when she put a five-shilling piece in my hand, and said, "That's from me, to help you to pay your debt to old Nanny. But that's not all, Jack; I've coaxed the doctor (not that he required much coaxing, to do him justice), and here's two half-crowns from him, which, I believe, will go about as far as my five shillings. Now, Jack, you look very happy; so, just out of gratitude, run as fast as you can, and make poor old Nanny happy, for she moans over her generous fit, and wonders all day long whether you will ever pay her again."
I had listened all this while to Mrs. St. Felix, but I was so moved by her kindness and generosity that I could not speak. I had received money for services performed, and I had obtained it from Nanny as a loan, to be repaid with interest; but so much money, as a gift, had never entered into my imagination. I could not restrain my feelings. I dropped my face on the counter to conceal the tears which escaped.
"I can't say 'thank you,' as I wish, indeed I can't," said I, as I looked up at her.
"Why, you foolish boy, you have said thank you," replied the widow; "and now run away, for I must leave the shop a minute."
This assistance made me redouble my exertions, and in three months I had repaid the whole. The last portion which was due I received from Virginia. She knew how much I paid off every week; and when on Sunday I told her that I had only one and sixpence owing, she ran upstairs, and, when she came down again, put the sum into my hand. She had been saving up all she could coax out of my mother ever since I had first obtained the clothes; and great indeed was her delight when she gave me the money—she kissed me, and began to dance, although it was Sunday, and then she proposed that we should walk together to old Nanny's, and close the account. We found the old woman sitting on her steps; the door was open, but the shop shutters were up. On the Saturday night I had paid her two shillings, so that she did not expect to see me. Virginia put the one and sixpence in her hand, saying, "Now brother has paid you all."
"Yes, darling, he has," replied old Nanny; "but then he promised—"
"I know I did," interrupted I; "and I will keep my promise. I promised you good bargains."
"You're an honest boy, Jack, and what's more strange, your sister isn't a spoiled girl; but that's not her mother's fault. My dear, if it was not Sunday you would be able to see all the pretty things in my shop, and perhaps you might like something. You must come another day."
I thanked old Nanny once more for having trusted me, and then we left her, I did keep my word with, her, and gave her good bargains for a long while afterward.
I often thought of my father, who had been absent now for nearly four years, and, as the time advanced, I became more anxious to hear of him. I seldom met old Ben the Whaler without talking about my father, and asking Ben what chance he thought there was of his return.
"Why, you see, Jack," said Ben, "in these times it's hard to say whether a man be alive or not. Every day we hear of some naval action or another, and therefore every day some must lose the number of their mess; and then you see, Jack, a man may be supposed to be dead for years, and after all turn up in some French prison or another; and then ships change their stations, and ships' companies their ships; and then ships are sometimes wrecked, with all hands, or take fire, and are blown up. Many a good seaman loses his life by falling overboard in a gale—and who knows or cares? Whether your father be alive or be dead, Jack, it is impossible for me to say; but, howsomever, I hope he be."
This was not a satisfactory, although a cautious reply, and I never could get Ben to give any other. I began to think that one of the mischances enumerated in Ben's catalogue might have occurred, and that I never should see my father again, when one morning, as I was standing at the landing-place, Ben came up to me and said, "Now, Jack, perhaps we may hear something of your father. Here's been a famous action fought, and a matter of a thousand men killed and wounded. I've only just heard about it. Nelson has licked the French on the coast of Egypt" (Ben here referred to the battle of the Nile), "and the 'Oudacious,' the ship on board of which your father was boatswain's mate, was in the action. Now, you see, the names of the killed will be sent into the office here, that their relations may receive the pay and prize-money due to them. So now, Jack, perhaps you'll hear something about your father."
"But I shall only hear of his being killed, by your account. I don't want to hear that."
"No, boy, of course you don't; but if you do, you'll hear the worst of it, and that's some comfort, and if he aren't killed, why, perhaps he's wounded, and perhaps he aren't; all perhapses in this world. Howsomever, come with me. I saw Anderson, with a paper in his hand, walking up to his retreat, as he calls it; so let's make all sail after him, and we shall overhaul him before he begins to read it."
There is a small hill just inside of the Greenwich Park gates, commanding a beautiful view of the river and the hospital. Here Anderson was accustomed to repair when the weather was fine, that, as he told me, he might commune with himself. In this instance he had retired there to avoid the excitement and confusion which prevailed; he had, however, been accompanied by three other pensioners, whom we found on the hill when we arrived, and, before we had been there a minute, the pensioners had followed up so fast that there was quite a crowd. We were just in time to hear him commence reading the newspaper account. The wind was very high; old Anderson had taken off his hat (out of respect, I presume, for the service), and his long gray locks were swept by the wind, which, indeed, carried away his voice, so that it was with difficulty that I could hear what he said. "Second Edition. Glorious news! We have the felicity to inform our readers that, by dispatches received at the Admiralty this day, a splendid naval victory has been gained over the French fleet lying in Aboukir Bay, by Rear-Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson, and the gallant seamen under his command. We refer our readers to the dispatch of Sir Horatio Nelson for the details. We have only to say, in few words, that the French fleet of thirteen sail of the line and four frigates were, on the 1st of August last, when lying at anchor in Aboukir Bay, attacked by the English fleet of twelve sail of the line and one fifty-gun ship, and after a severe action, eleven sail of the line and two frigates belonging to the French were taken or burned. The loss on our side amounts to two hundred and eighteen killed, and six hundred and seventy-seven wounded."
"Hurrah! three cheers, my lads!" cried Anderson, dropping the hand which held the newspaper, and raising the other with his hat in it above his head. The three hearty cheers were given by the crowd which had now assembled; and then Ben said to me:
"You see, Jack, there's a lot of killed and wounded; so now, perhaps, you will hear something about your father."
By this time I had been pushed back, first by one, and then by another, until I was a long way off from where Anderson stood.
"I can't hear a word that Peter says," replied I to Ben.
"No, because the wind's so high, and I myself am a little hard of hearing out of doors. Suppose we go now, and by-and-by you shall get the paper from Anderson, and read it all over to me."
"Come away, Ben," replied I, impatiently, "I've got a shilling, and I'll buy one."
We left the hill and went down into the town, directing our course to where we heard the horns blowing. I had not, however, to go to such an extraordinary expense, as "a full and particular account" had been struck off for twopence; one of these I purchased, and then Ben and I sat down on the bench outside of a public-house, and I commenced reading.
"How good that porter looks!" observed Ben, after a pause, as he eyed a man near to him who was blowing off the froth from the top of the pot he held in his hand.
"Well, Ben, as I have bought the account of the battle for twopence, suppose I spend the rest of the money I intended to pay for it in a pot of porter, to drink the health of Nelson?"
"Ay, my boy, and of those who fought with him," replied Ben; "your own father, Jack, whether he be dead or alive."
I sighed at the idea of my father being dead, for I had a great regard for him, although I had not seen much of him. The porter was brought, and after we had both drunk I recommenced reading. Having concluded Admiral Nelson's dispatch and the list of the ships taken, we then came to the loss in killed and wounded on board of the respective English ships.
"'Vanguard'—thirty killed, seventy-five wounded; total, a hundred and five."
"Yes, Jack, that was Nelson's own ship; and he is always to be found where the shot fly thickest."
"'Bellerophon'—forty-nine killed, a hundred and forty-eight wounded; total, a hundred and ninety-seven."
"Well, she was in the thick of it, anyhow!" observed Ben.
"'Majestic'—fifty killed, a hundred and forty-three wounded; total, a hundred and ninety-three."
"Why, she and the 'Bellyruffron' seem to have pretty well shared and shared alike. You see, Jack, they led into the action, and had all the cream of the fire."
I went on reading and Ben remarking, until I came to the "Audacious."
"'Audacious'"—one killed, and thirty-five wounded; total, thirty-six."
"Well now, Jack, that's all in favor of your father being alive; 'cause why should he be the one killed, more than any one else? I'd bet two pots of beer that he's among the wounded—but it's impossible to say; for you see, Jack, although they give us the names of the officers killed and wounded, they always lump the petty officers and common seamen. Well, here's to your father's health, Jack, anyhow; we shall soon hear something about him."
"I hope so," replied I, folding up the paper.
"And now, Jack," continued Ben, handing me the pot, "don't you feel how proud a thing it is to know how to read? Here I am, you see, old enough almost to be your grandfather, and don't I look like a helpless babby beside you? you can inform me of what is going on, but I cannot help myself. Don't I feel it, as I sit here, as if you were the man and I were the boy? indeed I do, Jack, and no mistake; but, arter all, there was no one to blame in my case; that's some comfort."
I certainly did acknowledge to myself how much I had gained by the tuition of Peter Anderson, and what advantage it was to me that I had been instructed; and I could not help for a moment feeling that I had the advantage over my good friend Ben.
According to the usual custom on the occasion of a great victory, the pensioners had, on the following day, what was called a holiday, that is, a day of rejoicing, on which they were supplied with an extra quantity of beer, to make merry with. On these occasions the rules of the hospital, with respect to sobriety, are, of course, not strictly observed. Most of those who prefer smoking collect in what is called the smoking-room, where they sit and enjoy themselves; but very often, as there is so much noise on these occasions, those who belong to the same ward collect together, club for some spirits to add to their extra allowance, and sit by the fire, which is in the corridor of the ward. The fireplace is generally a very large one, and surrounded by benches with high backs, to serve as screens against the cold and wind; and, as there are tables inside, you are very snug and comfortable. On this occasion many of the Warriors' Ward, of which Anderson was boatswain, and Ben one of the boatswain's mates, had repaired to their own fire, for it was now October, and very chilly after the sun went down.
Ben, I suppose, in return for the pot of porter which I had given him, invited me to be of the party; they drank the health of Nelson, and talked about the different ships which were in the action. Some drank very fast, and then reeled off to their beds, which were close at hand; others were taken to bed by Peter Anderson and Ben; and at last there were but four or five left. One of these was the other boatswain's mate of the ward. I knew very little of him at that time, except that his name was James Turner. He was a very quiet well-behaved man, and seemed to be more fond of sitting or walking alone than of being in company; never was known to drink too much; and, indeed, as boatswain's mate, was more relied upon by Anderson than even Ben was—although, perhaps, Ben was his more constant companion. The conversation relative to the particulars of the battle of the Nile was resumed, and Anderson observed—
"What an awful sight it must have been to behold the blowing up of the 'L'Orient' French three-decker, with upward of a thousand men on board! Merciful Heaven! so many poor fellows launched into eternity in one moment! They say there were but seventy-three saved."
"There were nearly as many souls lost when the 'Royal George' went down at Spithead, with all the fleet at anchor round about her," replied Ben; "were there not, Turner, for you were on board of her?"
"Yes, I should think there were," replied Turner; "but it is impossible to say how many people were on board at the time."
"Messmate," said Anderson, "as all the noisy ones are gone, and we shall be able to hear you, suppose that you let us know all about it? I have heard a good deal, but, I suspect, not the rights of it."
"With all my heart," replied Turner. "It was a sad affair, and was all owing to the pride of an officer, who was not much of a sailor, at all events."
I drew nearer, that I might not lose a word of what Turner said; and then he narrated, in the following words,
THE LOSS OF THE "ROYAL GEORGE"
"Well, messmates, the 'Royal George' was a hundred-gun ship; and what we don't often see now, when I first belonged to her her guns were all brass. We had brass twenty-four-pounders on our quarter-deck, forecastle, poop, and main deck, brass thirty-twos on our middle deck, and brass forty-two-pounders on our lower deck. In the spring of '82, when we were at Plymouth (about six months before she sunk), it was considered that the brass forty-twos on the lower deck were too heavy for her, so they were put on shore, and we had iron thirty-twos instead. I don't think, myself, it made much difference in the weight of metal, and we were sorry to part with them. We were a flagship, you know—old Kempenfelt carrying his blue at the mizzen—and our poop lanterns were so large that the men used to get inside them to clean them. She was rather a top-heavy sort of ship, in my opinion, her upper works were so high—why, we measured sixty-six feet from the keelson up to the taffrail; but still, with proper attention, there was nothing to fear on that score.
"Well, it was on the twenty-ninth of August, '82—that's just fourteen years and about six weeks ago—that we were lying at Spithead, in company with Lord Howe's fleet of between twenty and thirty sail of the line: there was the 'Victory,' 'Barfleur,' 'Ocean,' and 'Union,' all three-deckers, I recollect, close to us. We were in good repair, not at all leaky, and were to have sailed in two days to join the fleet in the Mediterranean. We had been paid, in consequence of our being about to sail foreign; and we had been paid in golden guineas. I think that, could all the money be collected together, from the pockets of the seamen, the women, and the Jews, who went down in the ship, it would be a very pretty fortune even for a duke's daughter."
Here Ben shoved the ale to Turner, who drank a little and proceeded, while Ben took a swig and passed it round.
"Well, you see, messmates, the first lieutenant had been washing the decks on the morning before, and the carpenter had been ordered to let the water in, when it was found that the water-cock, which was about three feet below the water-line, was out of order, and it was necessary that it should be repaired. The foreman came off from the dockyard, and stated that it was necessary that the ship should be careened over to port sufficiently to raise the mouth of the pipe—which went through the ship's timbers below—clean out of the water, that they might work at it; so, between seven and eight o'clock on that morning, the whole of the larboard guns were run out as far as they could be, and of course the larboard lower deck ports were open; the starboard guns were also run in amidships, and secured by the tackles; the shifting over of this great weight of metal brought the larboard lower deck port-cills just level with the water; the men were then able to get at the mouth of the pipe to the water-cock on the starboard side, as it was clean out of water, and for about an hour they were working away hard at it.
"It was about nine o'clock, we had just finished our breakfasts, and the hands had been turned up, when the last lighter, with the rum on board, came alongside. She was a sloop of fifty tons, called the 'Lark,' and belonged to three brothers, whose names I forget. She was secured to the larboard side of the ship; and the hands were piped 'clear lighter.' Some of our men were in the lighter slinging the casks, others at the yard tackle and stay-falls hoisting in, some in the spirit-room stowing away. I was in the waist, bearing the casks over, down the hatchway; none of us thinking that we should never mix our grog out of that liquor."
"No, I suppose not," observed Anderson; "but we little know what the day may bring forth."
"That's true as Gospel," said Ben.
"That's a very old saying, that every little helps. I did not think of it at the time; but, you see, as we were clearing the lighter, almost all the men were on the larboard side, and that must have brought the ship down still more to port. Then, again, the water was not so smooth as it was when we first careened her, and it began to wash into the lower deck ports, and of course had no escape, so that there was very soon a good weight of water in the lower deck. There were mice in the ship, and they were disturbed by the water entering into their quarters, and the men were catching them, and laughing as they swam about, little thinking that it was to be a general swim so shortly afterward. But the carpenter was the first that perceived that there was danger; for again, you see, the casks of rum, hoisted in, and lying on the decks on the larboard side, before it could be lowered into the hold, made also a difference; and so the carpenter went on deck to the lieutenant, who was officer of the watch, requesting that he would be pleased to order the ship to be righted somewhat, as she could not bear it; but the lieutenant gave a very short answer to the carpenter, who then went down below."
"Who was the lieutenant on deck?" inquired Anderson.
"I don't recollect his right name—he was, I think, the third lieutenant—he went by the name of 'Jib and Foresail Jack,' for, whenever he had the watch, he did nothing but up jip and down jib, up foresail, down foresail, every five minutes, always worrying the men for nothing. He was not considered as a good officer, but a very troublesome one. He had a knack of twisting and moving his fingers about as he walked the deck, and the men were wont to say that 'he must have been a forty piany teacher.'"
"And where were the captain and first lieutenant?" said Anderson.
"The first lieutenant was at the time busy in the wing, I believe; and as for the captain, I don't know where he was—but, you know, a captain seldom interferes in harbor."
"Where was the admiral?" inquired Ben.
"The admiral was in his cabin. I saw the barber, who had been in to shave him, come out just before she went down."
"What sort of a man was the admiral?" said Anderson.
"He was a thin tall man, upward of seventy years of age, and he stooped a good deal in his walk."
"Wet your whistle, Jim," said Ben, "for this is a long yarn."
"Well," continued Turner, as soon as he had put down his pot, "the carpenter came up a second time on the quarter-deck to the lieutenant, and said to him—
"'If you please, sir, to right the ship, it's my duty to tell you she will not bear it any longer.' He spoke in a very positive way, as was his duty; but the lieutenant answered, with an oath—
"'If you think, sir, that you can manage the ship better than I can, you had better take the command.' I was in the waist at the time, with a good many more men, and we heard what the carpenter said, and what answer the lieutenant gave. Indeed, we were all aware of the danger, and felt very uncomfortable; there were plenty of good seamen on board, who knew what they were about almost as well as the officers, and certainly better than the one who had the watch.
"A few minutes afterward (whether it was that he had remained that time doing nothing, merely because he would not be dictated to by the carpenter, I know not) the lieutenant ordered the drummer to be called to beat to quarters, that the guns might be run into their places and the ship righted. The drummer's name was passed along quick enough, for we were all alarmed at our situation, for the ship just then heeled over still more. I jumped down off the gangway as soon as the drummer was called, and hastened down to my quarters. The drum was not beat, for the man had not time to get his drum. All hands were now tumbling down the hatchways as fast as they could to their quarters, that they might run their guns into their places, and so right the ship. The gun I was stationed at was the third gun from forward on the starboard side of the lower gundeck. I said to Carroll, the second captain of the gun, 'I say, let us try to get our gun out without waiting for the drum, as the sooner we right the better.' We boused out our gun, which had been run in amidships; but the ship heeled over so much that, do all we could, it ran in again upon us, and at the same time the water made a heavy rush into the larboard lower deck ports. 'The ship is sinking, Carroll!' cried I. 'Lay hold of the ring-bolt and jump out; we shall all be drowned!' He made for the ring-bolt, caught it, climbed out of the port, and jumped into the sea. I presume he was drowned, for I never saw him afterward. I followed him as fast as I could out of the same port, which was the one belonging to our gun (the third from forward on the starboard side), and when I was outside I perceived that all the other port-holes were crowded as full as they could be with the heads of the men, all trying to escape, and jamming one another so that they could scarcely move either one way or the other. I caught hold of the sheet anchor, which was just above me, to prevent falling back inboard; and perceiving a woman struggling at the port, I caught hold of her, dragged her out, and threw her from me. The ship was now lying down so completely on her larboard broadside that the heads of the men in the ports disappeared all at once; they all dropped back into the ship, for the port-holes were now upright, and it was just as if men were trying to get out of the tops of so many chimneys, with nothing for their feet to purchase upon. Just after the men fell inboard, there came a rush of air through the ports, so violent as to blow my hat off. It was the air from the hold and lower deck, which, having no other vent, escaped as the water which poured in took up its space. The ship then sunk in a moment, righting as she went down. I was a good swimmer and diver, and when she was sinking I attempted to keep above water, but it was impossible; I was drawn down with the ship until she reached the bottom. As soon as she grounded, the water boiled and bubbled a great deal, and then I found that I could swim, and began to rise to the surface. A man tried to grapple me as I went up; his forefinger caught in my shoe, between the shoe and my foot. I succeeded in kicking off my shoe, and thus got rid of him, and then I rose to the surface of the water."
"Take breath after that, Jim," said Ben, handing him the ale.
"I can tell you that I could hardly take breath when I came to the surface, for my head came up through a quantity of tar, which floated like fat on a boiler, and it nearly smothered me; for, you see, there had been one or two casks of tar on the decks, which had stove when the ship was going down, and the tar got up to the top of the water before I did. It prevented me from seeing at first, but I heard the guns firing as signals of distress." Here Turner drank some ale.
"Well," said he, after a short pause, "I may as well finish my story. As soon as I could clear the tar from my eyes, I saw the main topsail halyard-block about level with the water's edge about eight or ten yards from me; so I swam to it and rode on it, holding on by the halyards, and then I looked about me. The fore, main, and mizzentops were all above water, as was a part of the bowsprit, and also part of the ensign-staff, with the flag hoisted—for, you see, messmates, we went down in only thirteen and a half fathom water, that is, about eighty feet; and, as I said before, she measured sixty-six feet from the keelson up to the taffrail; and she grounded as nearly upright as a vessel could; for the lighter, which was fast to leeward when she went down, caught the main yard, which helped to right her as she sank—but the lighter went down with her. Well, as I looked round, I saw the admiral's baker in the mizzen shrouds, and there was the body of the woman I had dragged out of the port rolling about close to him. The baker was an Irishman, of the name of Claridge; and I called out to him, 'Bob, reach out your hand and catch hold of that woman, I daresay she is not dead.'
"He said, 'She's dead enough; it's no use to lay hold of her.'
"I answered, 'She is not dead.' He caught hold of the woman and hung her head over one of the rattlings of the mizzen shrouds, and there she swung by her chin till a wash came and lifted her off, and then she rolled about again. Just then one of the captains of the frigates came up in his boat. I waved my hand toward the woman—he stopped pulling, the men dragged her into the boat, and laid her in the sternsheets.
"'My man,' said the captain, 'I must pick up those who are in more danger than you.'
"'All right, sir,' said I; 'I'm safe moored here.'
"There was one of our men hanging on the mainstay, and roaring like a bull, as he tried to climb by it out of the water. Had he only remained quiet, he would have done well enough. The boat took him off first, and the others of the people who were clinging about the masts and rigging, including the baker and myself. It then pulled on board the 'Victory' with us; and I once more found a good dry plank between me and the salt water."
"Was the captain and admiral saved?"
"Captain Waghorn was. He could not swim; but one of the seamen held him up. The admiral was drowned in his cabin. Captain Waghorn tried to acquaint him that the ship was sinking; but the heeling over of the ship had so jammed the doors of the cabin that they could not be opened."
"What became of the lieutenant of the watch and the carpenter?"
"The lieutenant of the watch was drowned—and so indeed was the carpenter. His body was taken up, I believe, by the same boat which picked up Lieutenant Durham When I went on board of the 'Victory,' I saw the carpenter's body before the galley fire—some women were attempting to recover him, but he was quite dead. There was a strong westerly breeze, although the day was fine; and the wind made the water so rough that there was great danger of the boats getting entangled in the rigging and spars, when they came to take the men off, or more would have been saved."
"How many do you think were lost altogether?" inquired Anderson.
"We had our whole complement on board, eight hundred and sixty-five men; and there were more than three hundred women on board, besides a great many Jews with slops and watches; as there always are, you know, when a ship is paid and the men have any money to be swindled out of. I don't exactly know how many men were saved, but there was only one woman, which was the one I dragged out of the port. There was a great fat old bumboat woman, whom the sailors used to call the 'Royal George'—she was picked up floating, for she was too fat to sink; but she had been floating the wrong way uppermost, and she was dead. There was a poor little child saved rather strangely. He was picked up by a gentleman who was in a wherry, holding on to the wool of a sheep which had escaped and was swimming. His father and mother were drowned, and the boy did not know their names; all that he knew was that his own name was Jack; so they christened him John Lamb, and the gentleman took care of him."
"Have you no idea how many men were saved, Turner?"
"I only know this—that the Admiralty ordered five pounds a man to be given to the seamen who were saved, as a recompense for the loss of their clothes, and I heard that only seventy-five claimed it; but how many marines were saved, or other people who were on board, I do not know; but perhaps, altogether, there might be two hundred or more—for you see the seamen had the worst chance of being saved, as they were almost all down in the hold, or on the lower and main decks at their guns. A few days after the ship went down the bodies would come up, eight or ten almost the same time—rising to the top of the water so suddenly as to frighten people who were passing near. The watermen made a good thing of it; for, as the bodies rose, they took from them their shoe-buckles, money, and watches, and then towed them on shore to be buried."
"That lieutenant had much to answer for," observed Ben. "His false pride was the cause of it all."
"It would seem so—but God only knows," replied Anderson. "Come, my lads, the beer is out, and it's two bells in the middle watch. I think we had better turn in. Jack, what's to become of you?"
"Oh, I'll find a plank," said I.
"So you shall, boy, and a bed upon it," replied Ben. "Come and turn in with me, and don't you dream that the larboard lower deck ports are open."