Poor Jack

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Spicer discloses strange matters.

The next day, when I called to see Spicer, I found him in great pain. Anderson had been with him, but he had been in such agony that he found it almost impossible to converse with him. Spicer did not like that I should leave him, although he could not talk, and I therefore remained by his bedside, occasionally assisting him to move from one position to another, or to take the drink that was by his bedside. Toward the evening he became more easy, and went to sleep. I left him, therefore, till the next day. As I supposed, the mortification had commenced, for the doctor told him so the next morning, when he visited him, and the chaplain pointed out to him that all hopes of living were now over. Spicer heard the communication unmoved. He asked the doctor how long he might live, and his reply was, it was possible four or five days, and that he would feel no more pain. He was now able to listen to Anderson, and he did so. I shall not trouble the reader with repeating what Anderson imparted to me, as I can give him an idea of Spicer's feelings by what passed between us.

"Tom," said he, "I have led a very wicked life, so wicked that I hate to think of it, and I hate myself. I believe all that Anderson and the chaplain tell me, and I find that I may hope and do hope for mercy; but I can't cry, or wail, or tear my hair. The fact is, Tom, I can't feel afraid. If I am pardoned, and I do scarcely expect it, I shall be all gratitude, as well I may. Should I be condemned, I shall acknowledge my punishment just, and not complain, for I have deserved all; but I cannot feel fear. I believe I ought; but it is not in my nature, I suppose."

"But you do not feel anything like defiance, Spicer?"

"No, God forbid! no, nothing like that, but my spirit cannot quail."

He was very anxious for the chaplain the last two days of his life, and I really believe was sincere in his repentance; but before I wind up his history, I will narrate to the reader those portions of his life which are unknown, and which are necessary to the explanation of other matters.

He told me that when he first went to sea he had joined a vessel employed in the slave trade, that he had left it at Gambia, and shipped on board of a vessel which was about to cruise on the Spanish Main. He was some time in her, and had been appointed second officer, when he resolved to fit out a vessel and cruise for himself. He had therefore quitted the vessel at Surinam, and worked his passage home in a sugar ship.

It was on his return home this time that, as old Nanny had told me, he had taken to gaming, and eventually had robbed his mother. With the two thousand pounds in his pocket, he had repaired to Liverpool, where he fell in with Fitzgerald, a young man who had served as first mate in the vessel in which they had cruised on the Spanish Main, and to him he had proposed to join him as first officer in the vessel which he was about to fit out. It appeared that this young man had but a few days returned from Ireland, where he had married a young woman, to whom he had been some time attached, and that his disinclination to leave his young wife made him at first refuse the offer made by Spicer. Spicer, however, who was aware of his value, would not lose sight of him, and contrived, when Fitzgerald had taken too much wine, to win of him, by unfair means, about one thousand five hundred pounds. Spicer then offered Fitzgerald a release from the debt, provided he would sail with him; and he exacted as a further condition that he should not return and take a farewell of his wife. To these harsh terms Fitzgerald, being without means of liquidating the debt, consented, and they sailed accordingly.

"And now, Jack, I will tell you why I was so curious about that spy-glass. I knew the moment that I saw it in your hands that it was one that belonged to Fitzgerald when we were on our first cruise together. It was the best glass I ever met with. When we left Liverpool this time, I asked him for the spy-glass, and he told me that, expecting to return to his wife before he sailed, he had left it at home. How it came into the lady's hands I can't tell."

"I never said that Lady Hercules gave it to me," replied I; "although I did not undeceive you when you thought so. The fact is, it was given me by a very pretty young Irish widow."

"Then, Jack, I should not wonder if she was the wife of Fitzgerald, whom I have been talking about; but that I leave to you. Let me finish my story. When we arrived on the Spanish coast I had as fine a crew with me as ever were on board of a vessel; but I had long made up my mind that I would hoist the black flag. Yes, Jack, it is but too true. But when I proposed it, Fitzgerald declared that the first act of piracy that was committed he would leave the vessel. I tried all I could to persuade him, but in vain. However, we did take an English vessel, and plundered her. Upon this Fitzgerald protested, and half the crew, at least, joined him. I threatened the men to shoot them through the head; but they were resolute; and, being rather the stronger party, I dared not make any attempt. They insisted upon leaving the vessel; and I, not being able to help it, landed them all in the Bay of Honduras, where I thought it very possible they would be taken by the Spaniards and imprisoned, if not hanged. They were imprisoned; but, after some time, they were released. The desertion of Fitzgerald and the other men left me with my vessel half manned; and I vowed vengeance against him if ever I had an opportunity. I now cruised as a pirate, and was very successful, and my name was a terror to those seas. A high reward was offered for me, dead or alive, which pleased me much, and I became more murderous than ever. Jack, all this rises up in judgment against me now; and I recollect every single life taken away by me, or by my orders, as well as if I had noted them down in a book. May God forgive me!" continued Spicer, covering his eyes up for a time.

After a pause he continued: "I had ordered a vessel with a valuable cargo to be taken on to a rendezvous we had in the Caicos; but it was recaptured and taken into Port Royal, Jamaica. As the proofs of the piracy were well established, the men on board were thrown into prison to take their trial. I heard of this, for I was often on shore in disguise in one island or another, and a scheme entered my head which I thought would benefit myself and wreak my vengeance upon Fitzgerald. But I must leave off now. Here comes the chaplain; he promised to talk with me this evening, and you see that I have changed my opinion on that point, praised be God for it. Good-night, Jack; come to-morrow."

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