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heart of flint. All who know me have but one opinion. I am benevolence itself. But my balance is low at my bankers'.'
'I want no money, sir,' the sailor answered, simply offering benevolence itself a pipeful of tobacco, from an ancient bit of bladder; 'I have not got a farthing; but I am with good people, who never would take it, if I had it; and that makes everything square between I might have a handful of money, if I chose: but I find myself better without it, and my constitution braces up. If I only chose to walk a league sou-west, there would be bonfires burning! But I vowed I would go home a captain; and I will.'
'Ha!' cried Mr. Mordacks with his usual quickness, and now knowing all about everybody, you are Mr. John Anerley, the son of the famous Captain Anerley.'
'Jack Anerley, sir, till better times; and better they never will be, till I make them. But not a word to anyone about me, if you please. It would break my mother's heart (for she doth look down upon people, without asking), to hear that Robin Cockscroft was supporting of me. But bless you, I shall pay him soon, a penny for a guinea.'
Truth, which struggles through the throng of men, to get out and have a little breath sometimes, now and then succeeds, by accident, or the stupid misplacement of a word. A penny for a guinea, was as much as Robin Cockscroft was likely ever to see, for his outlay upon this very fine young fellow. Jack Anerley accepted the situation, with the large philosophy of a sailor; and all he wanted from Mr. Mordacks was leave to be present at the diving job. This he obtained, as he promised to be useful, and a fourth oar was likely to be needed.
It was about an hour before noon of a beautifully soft September day, when little Sam Precious, the same boy that carried Robin Lyth's note to Mary, came up to Mr. Mordacks with a bit of plaited rushes, the scytale of Nicholas the Fish, who was happy enough not to know his alphabet. The factor immediately put on his hat, girded himself with his riding-sword and pistol-belt, and told his good wife that business might take him away for some hours. Then he hastened to Robin Cockscroft's house, after sending the hostler, on his own horse, with a letter to Bridlington coast-guard station, as he had arranged with poor Carroway's successor.
The Flamborough fishermen were out at sea; and without any fuss, Robin's boat was launched, and manned by that veteran himself together with old Joe, and Bob, who had long been chewing the quid of expectation, and at the bow oar, Jack Anerley. Their orders were to slip quietly round, and wait in the Dovecot till the diver came. Mordacks saw them on their way; and then he strode up the deserted path, and struck away towards a northern cove, where the diver's little boat was housed. There he found Nicholas the Fish, spread out in all his glory, like a polypod awash, or a basking turtle, or a well-fed calf of Proteus. Laid on his back, where the wavelets
broke, and beaded a silver fringe upon the golden ruff of sand, he gave his body to soft lullaby, and his mind to perfect holiday. His breadth, and the spring of fresh air inside it, kept him gently up and down; and his calm enjoyment was enriched by the baffled wrath of his enemies. For flies, of innumerable sorts and sizes, held a hopeless buzz above him, being put upon their mettle to get at him, and perishing sweetly in the vain attempt.
With a grunt of reluctance, he woke to business, swam for his boat, and embarking Mr. Mordacks pulled him across the placid bay, to the cave where his forces were assembled.
'Let there be no mistake about it,' the factor shouted from the Mermaids' shelf, having promised his Calpurnia to keep upon dry land, whenever the water permitted him; our friend the great diver will first ascertain whether the thing which we seek is here. If so, he will leave it where it is, until the arrival of the preventive boat. You all understand that we wish to put the matter so that even a lawyer cannot pick any hole in the evidence. Light no links until I tell you. Now, Nicholas the Fish, go down at once.' Without a word the diver plunged, having taken something between his teeth which he would not let the others see. The watery floor of the cavern was as smooth as a mill-pond in July, and he plunged so neatly that he made no splash; nothing but a flicker of reflection on the roof, and a lapping murmur round the sides, gave token that a big man was gone into the deep. For several minutes no one spoke; but every eye was strained upon the glassy dimness, and every ear intent for the first break of sound.
'T' goop ha' got' un,' cried old Robin, indignant at this outrage by a stranger to his caves, God niver mahd mon to pree intil's ain warks.'
Old Joe and Bob grunted approbation; and Mordacks himself was beginning to believe that some dark whirlpool, or coil of tangles, had drowned the poor diver, when a very gentle noise, like a dabchick playing beneath a bridge, came from the darkest corner. Nicholas was there inhaling air, not in greedy gulps and gasps, like a man who has had no practice, but leisurely encouraging his lungs with little doses; as a doctor gives soup to a starved boat-crew. Being hailed by loud voices, he answered not, for his nature was by no means talkative; but presently, with very little breach of water, he swam to the middle, and asked for his pipe.
'Have you found the gun?' cried Mordacks, whose loftiest feelings had subsided, in a quarter of a minute, to the business level. Nicholas made no reply until the fire of his pipe was established, while he stood in the water, quite as if he were on land, supporting himself by nothing more than a gentle movement of his feet; while the glow of the touch-paper lit his round face and yellow leather skull-cap. In coorse I has,' he said at last, blowing a roll of smoke along the gleaming surface; over to yon little cornder.'
And you can put your hand upon it in a moment?' The reply
was a nod, and another roll of smoke. Admirable! Now then, Joe, and Bob the son of Joe, do what I told you; while Master Cockscroft, and our nimble young friend, get the links all ready.'
The torches were fixed on the rocky shelf, as they had been upon the fatal night; but they were not lit, until Joe and his son, sent forth in the smaller boat to watch, came back with news that the preventive gig was round the point, and approaching swiftly, with a lady in the stern whose dress was black.
'Right,' cried Mr. Mordacks, with a brisk voice ringing under the ponderous brows of rock. Men, I have brought you to receive a lesson. You shall see what comes of murder. Light the torches. Nicholas, go under, with the exception of your nose, or whatever it is you breathe with. When I lift my hand, go down; and do as I have ordered you.'
The cavern was lit with resinous fire, and the dark still water heaved with it, when the coastguard boat came giiding in. The crew, in white jerseys, looked like ghosts flitting into some magic scene. Only the officer, darkly clad, and standing up with the tillerlines in hand, and the figure of a woman sitting in the stern, relieved their spectral whiteness.
'Commander Hardlock, and men of the coast-guard,' shouted Mr. Mordacks, when the wash of ripples, and the drip of oars, and the creak of wood, gave silence; the black crime commited upon this spot shall no longer go unpunished. The ocean itself has yielded its dark secret to the perseverance of mankind, and the humble, but not unskilful efforts which it has been my privilege to conduct. A good man was slain here, in cold blood slain, a man of remarkable capacity and zeal, gallantry, discipline, and every noble quality, and the father of a very large family. The villain who slew him would have slain six other harmless men by perjury, if an enlightened English jury had been fools enough to believe him. Now I will show you what to believe. I am not eloquent, I am not a man of words; my motto is strict business. And business with me is a power, not a name. my hand; you wait for half a minute; and then, from the depths of this abyss, arises the gun used in the murder.'
The men understood about half of this, being honest fellows in the main, and desiring time to put heads together, about the meaning; but one there was who knew too well that his treacherous sin had found him out. He strove to look like the rest, but felt that his eyes obeyed heart more than brain; and then the widow, who had watched him closely through her black veil, lifted it, and fixed her eyes on his. Deadly terror seized him; and he wished that he had shot himself.
'Stand up, men,' the commander shouted, until we see the end of this. The crime has been laid upon our force. We scorn the charge of such treachery. Stand up, men; and face like innocent men whatever can be shown against you.'
The men stood up, and the light of the torches fell upon their faces. All were pale with fear and wonder; but one was white as
death itself. Calling up his dogged courage, and that bitterness of malice, which had made him do the deed, and never yet repent of it, he stood as firmly as the rest; but differed from them in three things. His face wore a smile; he watched one place only; and his breath made a noise, while theirs was held.
Then, from the water, without a word, or sign of any hand that moved it, a long gun rose before John Cadman, and the butt was offered to his hand. He stood, with his arms at his sides, and could not lift them, to do anything. Neither could he speak, nor make defence; but stood like an image that is fastened by the feet.
'Hand me that,' cried the officer sharply; but instead of obeying, the man stared malignantly, and then plunged over the gun into the depth.
Not so, however, did he cheat the hangman; Nicholas caught him (as a water-dog catches a worn-out glove), and gave him to anyone that would have him. Strap him tight,' the captain cried, and the men found relief in doing it. At the next jail-delivery he was tried, and the jury did their duty. His execution restored goodwill, and revived that faith in justice, which subsists upon so little food.
IN THE THICK OF IT.
ONE of the greatest days in all the history of England, having no sense of its future fame, and being upon a hostile coast, was shining rather dismally. And one of England's greatest men, the greatest of all her sons in battle-though few of them have been small at that—was out of his usual mood, and full of calm presentiment and gloomy joy. He knew that he would see the sun no more; yet his fear was not of that, but only of losing the light of duty. As long as the sun endures he shall never see duty done more brilliantly.
The wind was dropping, to give the storm of human fury leisure; and while a sullen swell was rolling, canvas flapped, and timbers creaked. Like a team of mallards in double column, plunging and lifting buoyant breasts to right and left alternately, the British fleet bore down upon the swanlike crescent of the foe. These were doing their best to fly; but failing of that luck, put helm alee, and shivered in the wind, and made fine speeches, proving that they must win the day.
'For this I have lived, and for this it would be worth my while to die; having no one left I dare say now in all the world to care for me.'
Thus spake the junior lieutenant of that British ship the 'Victory; a young man after the heart of Nelson, and gazing now on Nelson's face. No smarter sailor could be found in all that noble fleet than this Lieutenant Blyth, who once had been the captain of all smugglers. He had fought his way up by skill, and spirit, and
patience, and good temper, and the precious gift of self-reliance, failing of which, all merit fails. He had always thought well of himself, but never destroyed the good of it by saying so; and whoever praised him, had to do it again, to outspeak his modesty. But without good fortune, all these merits would never have been successes. One of Robin's truest merits was that he generally earned good luck.
However, his spirits were not in their usual flow of jocundity just now, and his lively face was dashed with care. Not through fear of lead, or steel, or wooden splinter, or a knock upon the head, or any other human mode of encouraging humanity. He hoped to keep out of the way of these, as even the greatest heroes do-for how could the world get on if all its bravest men went foremost? His mind meant clearly, and with trust in proper Providence, to remain in its present bodily surroundings; with which it had no fault to find. Grief, however-so far as a man having faith in his luck admits that pointcertainly was making some little hole into a heart of corky fibre. For Robin Lyth had heard last night when a schooner joined the fleet with letters, that Mary Anerley, at last, was going to marry Harry Tanfield. He told himself, over and over again, that if it were so, the fault was his own, because he had not taken proper care about the safe despatch of letters. Changing from ship to ship, and from sea to sea, for the last two years or more, he had found but few opportunities of writing; and even of those he had not made the utmost. To Mary herself he had never once written, knowing well that her father forbade it; while his letters to Flamborough had been few, and some of those few had miscarried. For the French had a very clever knack, just now, of catching the English despatch-boats; in most of which they found accounts of their own thrashings, as a listener catches bad news of himself. But none of these led them to improve their conduct.
Flamborough (having felt certain that Robin could never exist without free-trade, and missing many little courtesies that flowed from his liberal administration) was only too ready to lament his death, without insisting on particulars. Even as a man who has foretold a very destructive gale of wind tempers with the pride of truth the sorrow which he ought to feel for his domestic chimney-pots (as soon as he finds them upon his lawn), so little Denmark, while bewailing, accepted the loss as a compliment to its own renowned sagacity.
But Robin knew not, until last night, that he was made dead at Flamborough, through the wreck of a ship which he had quitted a month before she was cast away. And now, at last, he only heard that news by means of his shipmate, Jack Anerley. Jack was a thorough-going sailor now, easy, and childish, and full of the present, leaving the past to cure, and the future to care for itself, as might be. He had promised Mr. Mordacks and Robin Cockscroft to find out Robin Lyth, and tell him all about the conviction of John Cadman ; and knowing his name in the navy, and that of his ship, he had done so, after in-and-out chase. But there for the time he had rested from