|The Tory Lover - Atlantic Contents|
THE TORY LOVER
The Atlantic Monthly Serialization
Chapters 22 - 25
April 1901 -- 87: 539-556
Paragraphs are not numbered in the Atlantic text.
1 The heads of the high Vitré houses nodded together above their narrow streets, as if to gossip about two unexpected cocked hats that passed below. This uniform of the Continental navy was new enough, but old Vitré had seen many new and strange things since she herself was young. The two officers had an air of proud command about them, and seemed to expect the best rooms at the inn, and the best wines.
2 "'T was here the famous Marchioness de Sévigné dwelt!" exclaimed Wallingford, with triumph. "My mother often read a book of her letters to my father, on a winter evening. I thought them dull then, but I know now 't was most pretty reading, with something of fresh charm on every page. She had her castle here at Vitré; she was a very great lady," continued the lieutenant, explaining modestly. "She spoke much in her letters about her orange trees, but I think that she was ill at ease, so far from Paris."
3 "We could visit her to-night, if she were still in Vitré," said the captain. "'T would pass our time most pleasantly, I dare say. But I take it the poor lady is dead, since we have her memoirs. Yes, I mind me of the letters, too; I saw them in a handsome binding once at Arbigland, when I was a lad. The laird's lady, Mrs. Craik, read the language; she had been much in France, like many of our Scottish gentlefolk. Perhaps 't was her very castle that we observed as we came near the town, with the quaint round tower that stood apart."
4 "'T was the chapel of Madame," said the old French serving man on a sudden, and in good English. "Messieurs will pardon me, but my grandfather was one of her head foresters."
5 The gentlemen turned and received this information with a politeness equal to that with which it was given.
6 "'T is a fine country, France," said the little captain handsomely. "Let us fill our glasses again to the glory of France and the success of our expedition." Then, "Let us drink to old England too, Mr. Wallingford, and that she may be brought to reason," he added unexpectedly, when they had drunk the first toast. "There is no such soldier-breeder as England; and as for her sailors, they are the Northmen of old, born again for the glory of a later time."
7 The next day but two they came into the gate of Paris, and saw the dark prison of the Bastille, the Tour St. Jacques, and the great cathedral of Notre Dame. It was late afternoon, and Paris looked like a greater Vitré, but with higher houses that also nodded together, and a busier world of shops and palaces and churches. Wallingford returned with older eyes to see much that had escaped him as a boy. And to Captain Paul Jones there was a noble assurance in finding the capital city of his adopted country's allies so rich and splendid; above all, so frankly gay. There was none of the prim discretion of those English and Scottish towns with which he was most familiar. Paris was in her prime, and was wholly independent of trifles, like a fine lady who admitted these two admiring strangers to the hospitality of her house, with the unconcern of one whose dwelling was well furnished and well served. The old French kings had gone away one by one, and left their palaces behind them, -- the long façades of the Louvre, and the pleasant courts of the Palais Royal, and many another noble pile. Here in Paris, Mr. Benjamin Franklin, the Bon Homme Richard, was bearing his difficult honors as first citizen of a new republic, and living on good terms with the best gentlemen of France. His house, which he had from Monsieur Le Ray de Chaumont, was at the other end of Paris, at Passy, a village beyond the suburbs of the great town; and next morning, the young men, well mounted, rode thither with a groom behind them, and alighted at the Commissioner's door.
8 Mr. Benjamin Franklin was in the midst of his morning affairs. He was dressed in a suit of reddish-brown velvet, with white stockings, and had laid his white hat beside him on a table which was covered with papers and a few serious-looking books. It was a Tuesday, and he had been to court with the rest of the diplomatic corps, having lately been presented with the two American Commissioners, his fellows, to the King.
9 He rose with a courteous air of welcome, as the young men entered, and looked sharply at them, and then at their uniforms with much indulgent interest.
10 "You are the representatives of our navy. 'T is a very dignified dress; I am glad to see it, -- and to receive its wearers," he added, smiling, while the officers bowed again gravely.
11 "I was in a poor enough undress at my first visit, and fresh from travel in the worst of weather," said Paul Jones, lowering his voice at the sad remembrance.
12 "Mr. Wallingford!" and the old Commissioner turned quickly toward the younger guest. "I remember you as a lad in Portsmouth. As for my good friend your honored father, he will be unforgettable to those who knew him. You begin to wear his looks; they will increase, I think, as you gather age. Sit ye down, gentlemen, sit ye down!" and he waved them to two straight chairs which stood side by side at some distance down the room, in the French fashion. Then he seated himself again behind his table, and gave audience.
13 Captain Paul Jones was occupied for a moment in placing his heavy sword. Wallingford was still looking eagerly toward their host.
14 "You are very good to remember me, sir," he said. "I counted it a great honor that my father let me attend him that day, at Mr. Warner's dinner. You will be pleased to know that the lightning conductors are still in place on his house, and are much shown to strangers in these days as being of your planning."
15 The philosopher smiled at his young friend's warmth; there was something most homely and amiable mingled with his great dignity.
16 "And my friend Mr. John Langdon? I have deeply considered our dispatches from him, and especially the letter from Morris, which agrees in the main with your own ideas, sir," and he bowed to Captain Paul Jones. "And my friend Mr. Langdon?" he repeated, looking for his answer to the lieutenant.
17 "Mr. Langdon was very well, sir, though much wearied with his cares, and sent his best remembrances and respects in case I should be so honored as to see you. And also Mr. Nicholas Gilman, of Exeter, who was with him, beside many Portsmouth gentlemen, your old friends."
18 "Our men at home carry the heaviest burdens," said Mr. Franklin, sighing, "yet I wish every day that I might be at home, as they are."
19 "My first lieutenant, Mr. Simpson, is the brother-in-law of Major Langdon," said Captain Paul Jones, flushing like a boy as he spoke. He could not help a somewhat uncomfortable sense of being on the quarter-deck of a commander much greater than himself, and an uncertain feeling about their relations that tried him very much, but he wore a manly look and kept to his quietest manners. He had parted from the Commissioner, at their last interview, in deep distress and a high passion.
20 "You have found Lieutenant Simpson an excellent officer, no doubt, with the large experience of a Portsmouth shipmaster," observed Mr. Franklin blandly. He cast a shrewd look at the captain; but while his firm mouth set itself a little more firmly, there was a humorous gleam of half inquiry, half indulgence, in his wide-set eyes.
21 "You have spoken him, sir," acknowledged Captain Paul Jones, while with equal self-possession and a touch of deference he waited for the Commissioner to lead the conversation further, and thereby did not displease Mr. Franklin, who had feared an interview of angry accusation and indignant resentment. Wallingford too was conscious of great pleasure in his captain's bearing.
22 There was a pause, and Mr. Franklin looked again at the captain, and bowed slightly from his chair.
23 "You may say what you have come to say to me, Captain Paul Jones. You can no doubt trust Mr. Wallingford, and you see that I have for the moment dismissed my secretary."
24 "I can trust Mr. Wallingford," answered the captain, holding himself steady, but rising from the chair unconsciously, and taking a step nearer to the table. His new cocked hat was crushed under his arm, and Wallingford could see that the whole figure of the man was in a nervous quiver.
25 "I can trust Mr. Wallingford," he repeated sternly, "but I am sorry that I cannot say the same of Lieutenant Simpson. I have suffered too much already at his hands through his endeavors to supplant me as commander of the Ranger. He has descended to the poor means of disputing my authority before my crew, and stimulating them in their rebellion and surly feelings. A crew is easily prejudiced against its superiors. You must be well aware, sir, how difficult a proper government may become at sea; 't is a hard life at best for crew or captain, and its only safety is in wise control and decent obedience."
26 "Do you desire to make formal complaint of your lieutenant? It is hardly my province," said the Commissioner. The amused look had left his eyes, and they were as firm now as if he were a great judge on the bench.
27 "I respect your anxieties," he added next moment, when he saw that he held the captain in check. "I am not unaware of your high aims, your great disappointment, or your most difficult conditions of the present. But these conditions and the varieties of human nature among so large a ship's company were not unknown to you. The uncongenial man and the self-seeking, unwilling assistant must always be borne with patience, among our fellows. Besides, we pardon anything to those we love, and forgive nothing to those we hate. You may go on, sir."
28 "The trouble has come in great measure from an open understanding, long before we set sail out of Portsmouth, that I was to be given another frigate immediately upon my arrival, and that Simpson was to take command of the Ranger in my stead," said Paul Jones. "Now that all is over in regard to the Indien, he can fret under the long delay no worse than I, but shows his impatience of my orders at times and seasons when it ill befits him, and most wrongs and debases me; he behaves, on the slightest provocation, as if I had deeply injured him, and gives no reason why. He is my senior in age, which has added much to the difficulty between us. He loses no chance to hint that I am bent on selfish ends; even, I believe, that my principles, my character, may be questioned in this matter. My crew have become sensitive to the fear that I cannot be trusted, owing to my Scottish birth and early life spent upon British vessels, -- as if they were any of them of a very different blood and descent! There is a worse man than Simpson on board, a man named Dickson, who, to further his own ends, furthers the lieutenant's. He has insisted from the first that Mr. Wallingford is a Tory spy, and that the Ranger should be in the hands of those who could fill their pockets with prize money. He, and perhaps Simpson himself, bewails their disappointment at discovering that a man-of-war is not the same as a privateer. And their ignorance of statecraft and the laws of naval science and duty seems to make them smile with derision at all proper discipline as if at some pompous horseplay."
29 The captain's face was red now, and his voice sharpening to undue loudness; but at an anxious gesture from Wallingford he grew quiet again.
30 "I come to ask you, Mr. Commissioner, if by any means I can further this business and hasten my transfer to another ship; but I must first do what I can with the Ranger. She is unfit for any great action, but we can make a pretty showing in small matters. My head is full of ideas which I should be glad to lay before you. I desire to strike a smart blow at the English coast, to counteract the burnings of our towns at home, the interference with our shipping, and to stop the prisoning of our sailors. I can light a fire in England that will show them we are a people to be feared, and not teased and laughed at. I ask you now how far France is ready to help me."
31 "We have good friends in England still," said the Commissioner quietly. "Some of the best minds and best characters among Englishmen see our question of the colonies with perfect fairness; the common people are in great part for us, too, and I have not yet lost hope that they may win the day. But of late things have gone almost too far for hope. Mr. Wallingford," and he turned abruptly toward the lieutenant, "I must not forget to ask you for your mother's health. I have thought of her many times in her widowhood; she would ill bear the saddest loss that can fall upon any of us, but she would bear it nobly."
32 The captain felt himself silenced in the very gathering and uplift of his eloquence, when he was only delayed out of kind consideration. Roger Wallingford answered the kind old man briefly and with deep feeling; then the conference went on. The captain was in full force of his honest determination.
33 "Since I cannot have the Indien, as we well know, what ship can I have?" he demanded. "Shall I do what I can with the Ranger? 'T were far better than such idleness as this. When I have seen my friend the Duke de Chartres again, things may take a turn."
34 "He can do much for you," answered Franklin. "I have been told that he speaks of you everywhere with respect and affection. These things count like solid gold with the indifferent populace, ready to take either side of a great question."
35 "I feel sure, sir, that the blow must be struck quickly, if at all," urged the captain. "If nothing is to be expected from France, I must do the best I can with the means in my hand. I must make some use of the Ranger; we have already lost far too much time. They hampered and delayed me in Portsmouth for month upon month, when I might have been effective here."
36 "When you are as old as I, Captain Paul Jones, you will have learned that delays appear sometimes to be the work of those who are wiser than we. If life has anything to teach us, it is patience; but patience is the hardest thing to teach those men who have the makings of a hero in their breasts." And again he fell into expectant silence, and sat behind his table looking straight at the captain. Wallingford's heart was touched by a recognition of Paul Jones's character, which had been so simply spoken; but that man of power and action took no notice himself, except to put on a still more eager look, and shift his footing as he stood, doing honor from his heart to Mr. Franklin.
37 "Will you not sit, captain? We have much talk before us. It astonishes me that you should have gained so warm a love for your adopted country," said the Commissioner.
38 "I have to confess that England has been to me but a cruel stepmother. I loved her and tried to serve her, boy and man," answered the other. "When I went to live in Virginia, I learned to love my new country as a lover loves his mistress. God forgive me if I have sometimes been rash in my service, but Glory has always shone like a star in my sky, and in America a man is sure of a future if it is in his own breast to make one. At home everything is fixed; there are walls that none but the very greatest have ever climbed. Glory is all my dream; there is no holding back in me when I think of it; my poor goods and my poor life are only for it. Help me, sir, help me to win my opportunity. You shall see that I am at heart a true American, and that I know my business as a sailor. Do not join with those who, with petty quibbles and excuses, would hold me back!"
39 The passion of Paul Jones, the fire and manly beauty in his face, his look of high spirit, would have moved two duller hearts than belonged to his listeners. Mr. Franklin still sat there with his calm old face, and a look of pleasant acceptance in his eyes.
40 "Yes, you are willing to go forward; the feet of young men are ever set toward danger," he said. "I repeat that we must sometimes be heroes at waiting. To your faith you must add patience. Your life of effort, like mine, must teach you that, but I have had longer to learn the lesson. I shall do all that I can for you. I respect your present difficulties, but we have to live in the world as it is: we cannot refashion the world; our task is with ourselves."
41 "Quel plaisir!" said the little captain under his breath.
42 The pleasant French room, with its long windows set open to the formal garden, was so silent for a time that at last all three of the men were startled by a footstep coming out of the distance toward them, along the loose pebbles of the garden walk. They could not help the feeling that a messenger was coming from the world outside; but as the sound approached the window they recognized the easy clack of a pair of wooden shoes, and the young gardener who wore them began to sing a gay little French song. Captain Paul Jones moved impatiently, but Mr. Franklin had taken the time for thought.
43 "My friend Mr. David Hartley, a member of Parliament, who has been my willing agent in what attempts could be made to succor our prisoned sailors, begs me to have patience," he said reflectively. "He still thinks that nothing should persuade America to throw herself into the arms of France; for times are sure to mend, and an American must always be a stranger in France, while Great Britain will be our natural home for ages to come. But I recalled to him, in my answer, the fact that his nation is hiring all the cutthroats it can collect, of all countries and colors, to destroy us. It would be hard to persuade us not to ask or accept aid from any power that may be prevailed with to grant it, for the reason that, though we are now put to the sword, we may at some future time be treated kindly!
44 "This expects too much patience of us altogether," he continued. "Americans have been treated with cordiality and affectionate respect here in France, as they have not been in England when they most deserved it. Now that the English are exasperated against us we have become odious as well as contemptible, and we cannot expect a better treatment for a long time to come. I do not see why we may not, upon an alliance, hope for a steady friendship with France. She has been faithful to little Switzerland these two hundred years!"
45 "I cannot find it in my heart to think that our friendship with our mother country is forever broken," urged Wallingford, speaking with anxious solicitude. "The bond is too close between us. It is like the troubles that break the happiness of a family in a day of bad weather; it is but a quarrel or fit of the sulks, and when past, the love that is born in our hearts must still hold us together."
46 "You speak truly, my young friend," said the old Commissioner; "but we have to remember that the lives of nations are of larger scope, and that the processes of change are of long duration. I think that it may be a century before the old sense of dependence and affection can return, and England and America again put their arms about each other."
47 Paul Jones fretted in his gilded chair. The carved crest of Monsieur de Chaumont was sharp against his back, and the conversation was becoming much too general.
48 "Our country is like a boy hardly come to manhood yet, who is at every moment afraid that he will not be taken for a man of forty years," said Mr. Franklin, smiling. "We have all the faults of youth, but, thank God, the faults of a young country are better than the faults of an old one. It is the young heart that takes the forward step. The day comes when England will love us all the better for what we are doing, but it provokes the mother country now, and grieves the child. If I read their hearts aright, there have been those who thought the mother most deeply hurt, and the child most angry. You will have seen much of the Loyalists, Mr. Wallingford, if I mistake not?"
49 Wallingford colored with boyish confusion. "It would seem most natural, sir, if you take my mother's connection into account," he answered honestly. "She and her family are among those who have been sure of England's distress at our behavior. She is of those who inherit the deepest sentiments of affection toward the Crown."
50 "And you have been her antagonist?"
51 The question was kindly put, but it came straight as an arrow, and with such force that Paul Jones forgot his own burning anxiety for the French frigate, and turned to hear Wallingford's answer. All his natural jealousy of a rival in love, and deep-hidden suspicion of a man who had openly confessed himself a conservative, were again roused.
52 "I have taken oath, and I wear the uniform of our American navy, sir," replied Wallingford quietly. "My father taught me that a gentleman should stand by his word. I was not among those who wished to hasten so sad a war, and I believe that our victory must be the long defeat of our prosperity; but since there is war and we have become independent, my country has a right to claim my service. The captain knows the circumstances which brought me here, and I thank him for giving me his confidence." The young man blushed like a girl, but Captain Paul Jones smiled and said nothing.
53 "You have spoken like your father's son, -- and like the son of Madam Wallingford," added Mr. Franklin. "I must say that I honor your behavior. I trust that your high principle may never fail you, my young friend, but you are putting it to greater strain than if you stood among the Patriots, who can see but one side." The sage old man looked at the lieutenant with a mild benevolence and approval that were staying to the heart. Then a shrewd, quick smile lighted his eyes again.
54 "You should be one of the knights of old come out on his lady's quest," said Mr. Benjamin Franklin; and the young man, who might have blushed again and been annoyed at the jest, only smiled back as he might have smiled at his own father, whose look had sometimes been as kind, as wise and masterful, as this of the old Commissioner.
55 Captain Paul Jones was in no mind that this hour should be wasted, even though it was a pleasant thing to see an old man and a young one so happily at home together. He wished to speak again for himself, and now rose with a formal air.
56 "Sir, I pray you not to condemn me without hearing me. I have my enemies, as you have come to know. I am convinced that at least one of Mr. Lee's secretaries is a British spy. I do not blame England for watching us, but I accuse Mr. Lee. If his fault is ignorance, he is still guilty. I desire also to lay before you my plans for a cruise with the Ranger."
57 Mr. Roger Wallingford left his own chair with sudden impulse, and stood beside his captain. He was a head taller and a shoulder-breadth broader, with the look of an old-fashioned English country gentleman, in spite of his gold lace and red waistcoat and the cocked hat of a lieutenant of marines.
58 "I have already reminded you, sir, and the other honorable Commissioners," the captain continued, speaking quickly, "that I have the promise of a better ship than the Ranger, and that my opportunities of serving the Congress must wait in great measure upon the event of that promise being fulfilled. I have also to make formal complaint of the misdemeanors of some members of my present crew. I have fixed upon the necessity of this, and the even greater necessity for money, as our men lack clothes, and we are running short in every way. Our men are clamorous for their pay; I have advanced them a large sum on my own account. And we are already short of men; we must soon take action in regard to the exchange of prisoners toward this end."
59 "Sit ye down again, gentlemen," said the Commissioner. "Mr. Deane and Mr. Adams should listen to your reasonable requests and discuss these projects. With your permission, we can dispense with the advice of Mr. Lee. I have here under consideration some important plans of the French Minister of Marine."
60 There was a happy consciousness in the hearts of both the younger men that they had passed a severe examination not wholly without credit, and that the old Commissioner would stand their friend. There were still a few minutes of waiting; and while the captain hastily reviewed his own thick budget of papers, Wallingford glanced often at Mr. Franklin's worn face and heavy figure, remembering that he had lately said that his life was now at its fag-end, and might be used and taken for what it was worth. All the weight of present cares and all the weariness of age could not forbid the habit of kindly patience and large wisdom which belonged to this very great man.
61 "You are a dumb gentleman!" exclaimed the captain as they came away. "You sat there, most of the time, like an elder of the kirk, but you and Mr. Franklin seemed to understand each other all the better. The higher a man gets, the less he needs of speech. My Lord Selkirk and his mates and my dear Duke de Chartres, they do it all with a nod and a single word, but poor folks may chatter the day through. I was not so garrulous myself to-day?" he said, appealing for approval; and Wallingford, touched by such humility, hastened to assure him that the business of the Ranger had been, in his opinion, most handsomely conducted. The captain's fiery temper might well have mounted its war chariot at certain junctures.
62 "Listen!" said Paul Jones, as they climbed the long slopes toward Paris and their good horses settled into a steady gait. "I have often been uncertain of you since we came to sea; yet I must have a solid knowledge that you are right at heart, else I could not have had you with me to-day. But you have been so vexingly dumb; you won't speak out, you don't concern yourself!" and the captain swore gently under his breath.
63 Wallingford felt a touch of hot rage; then he laughed easily. "Poor Dickson will be disappointed if I do not prove a spy in the end," he said. "Look, captain; Mr. Franklin gave me these letters. The packet came for us by the last ship."
64 The lieutenant had already found time to take a hasty look at two letters of his own; his young heart was beating fast against them at that moment. His mother's prim and delicate handwriting was like a glimpse of her face; and he had seen that Mary Hamilton had also written him in the old friendly, affectionate way, with complete unconsciousness of those doubts and shadows which so shamed his own remembrance.
1 In midwinter something happened that lifted every true heart on board. There had been dull and dreary weeks on board the Ranger, with plots for desertion among the crew, and a general look of surliness and reproach on all faces. The captain was eagerly impatient in sending his messengers to Nantes when the Paris post might be expected, and was ever disappointed at their return. The discipline of the ship became more strict than before, now that there was little else to command or insist upon. The officers grew tired of one another's company, and kept to their own quarters, or passed each other without speaking. It was easy, indeed, to be displeased with such a situation, and to fret at such an apparently needless loss of time, even if there were nothing else to fret about.
2 At last there was some comfort in leaving Nantes, and making even so short a voyage as to the neighboring Breton port of L'Orient, where the Ranger was overhauled and refitted for sea; yet even here the men grumbled at their temporary discomforts, and above all regretted Nantes, where they could amuse themselves better ashore. It was a hard, stormy winter, but there were plenty of rich English ships almost within hand's reach. Nobody could well understand why they had done nothing, while such easy prey came and went in those waters, from Bordeaux and the coast of Spain, even from Nantes itself.
3 On a certain Friday orders were given to set sail, and the Ranger made her way along the coast to Quiberon, and anchored there at sunset, before the bay's entrance, facing the great curve of the shores. She had much shipping for company: farther in there lay a fine show of French frigates with a convoy, and four ships of the line. The captain scanned these through his glass, and welcomed a great opportunity: he had come upon a division of the French navy, and one of the frigates flew the flag of a rear admiral, La Motte Piqué.
4 The wind had not fallen at sundown. All night the Ranger tossed about and tugged at her anchor chains, as if she were impatient to continue her adventures, like the men between her sides. All the next day she rode uneasily, and clapped her sailcloth and thrummed her rigging in the squally winter blast, until the sea grew quieter toward sundown. Then Captain Paul Jones sent a boat to the French fleet to carry a letter.
5 The boat was long gone. The distance was little, but difficult in such a sea, yet some of the boats of the country came out in hope of trading with the Ranger's men. The poor peasants would venture anything, and a strange-looking, swarthy little man, who got aboard nobody knew how, suddenly approached the captain where he stood, ablaze with impatience, on the quarter. At his first word Paul Jones burst with startling readiness into Spanish invective, and then, with a look of pity at the man's poverty of dress in that icy weather, took a bit of gold from his pocket. "Barcelona?" said he. "I have had good days in Barcelona, myself," and bade the Spaniard begone. Then he called him back and asked a few questions, and, summoning a quartermaster, gave orders that he should take the sailor's poor gear, and give him a warm coat and cap from the slop chests.
6 "He has lost his ship, and got stranded here," said the captain, with compassion, and then turned again to watch for the boat. "You may roll the coat and cap into a bundle; they are quaint-fashioned things," he added carelessly, as the quartermaster went away.
7 The bay was now alive with small Breton traders, and at a short distance away there was a droll little potato fleet making hopefully for the Ranger. The headmost boat, however, was the Ranger's own, with an answer to the captain's letter. He gave an anxious sigh and laid down his glass. He had sent to say frankly to the rear admiral that he flew the new American flag, and that no foreign power had yet saluted it, and to ask if his own salute to the Royal Navy of France would be properly returned. It was already the last fluster of the February wind, and the sea going down; there was no time to be lost. He broke the great seal of his answer with a trembling hand, and at the first glance pressed the letter to his breast.
8 The French frigates were a little apart from their convoy, and rolled sullenly in a solemn company, their tall masts swaying like time-keepers against the pale winter sky. The low land lay behind them, its line broken here and there by strange mounds, and by ancient altars of the druids, like clumsy, heavy-legged beasts standing against the winter sunset. The captain gave orders to hoist the anchor, nobody knew why, and to spread the sails, when it was no time to put to sea. He stood like a king until all was done, and then passed the word for his gunners to be ready, and steered straight in toward the French fleet.
9 They all understood now. The little Ranger ran slowly between the frowning ships, looking as warlike as they; her men swarmed like bees into the rigging; her colors ran up to salute the flag of his most Christian Majesty of France, and she fired one by one her salute of thirteen guns.
10 There was a moment of suspense. The wind was very light now; the powder smoke drifted away, and the flapping sails sounded loud overhead. Would the admiral answer, or would he treat this bold challenge like a handkerchief waved at him from a pleasure boat? Some of the officers on the Ranger looked incredulous, but Paul Jones still held his letter in his hand. There was a puff of white smoke, and the great guns of the French flagship began to shake the air, -- one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine; and then were still, save for their echoes from the low hills above Carnac and the great druid mount of St. Michael.
11 "Gardner, you may tell the men that this was the salute of the King of France to our Republic, and the first high honor to our colors," said the captain proudly to his steersman. But they were all huzzaing now along the Ranger's decks, -- that little ship whose name shall never be forgotten while her country lives.
12 "We hardly know what this day means, gentlemen," he said soberly to his officers, who came about him. "I believe we are at the christening of the greatest nation that was ever born into the world."  The captain lifted his hat, and stood looking up at the Flag.
1 Early in April the Ranger was still waiting to put to sea. She had been made ready and trained for action like a single gun, in her long weeks at Brest. The captain had gone away on a mysterious errand, afterward reported to be a visit to Amsterdam directed by Mr. Franklin, who wished for information regarding the affairs of the Commissioners and the loss of their frigate. Paul Jones carried with him the poor dress of that Spanish seaman who had boarded him at Quiberon, and made good use of the Basque cap and his own sufficient knowledge of the Spanish language. To Wallingford only he gave any news of the journey, and it was only Wallingford whom he made his constant companion in frequent visits to the Duke de Chartres and his duchess, at their country house near the city.
2 The Sailor Prince had welcomed this American captain and friend with all the affection with which he had said farewell in Virginia, and hastened to present him to his wife, who was not only one of the most charming of French ladies, and a great-granddaughter of Louis Quatorze, but granddaughter of the great Count of Toulouse, that sailor son of the King, who had won the famous sea fight off Malaga against the Dutch and English fleets, seventy years before. The beautiful duchess was quick to recognize a hero. She was most proud of her seafaring ancestor, and listened with delight to Paul Jones as he spoke with some French officers of the Malaga victory, and showed his perfect acquaintance with its strategy. She found him handsome, spirited, and full of great qualities, and at once gave her warmest friendship to him and to his cause.
3 All the degrading side of a sailor's life and hardships, all the distresses that Paul Jones and Roger Wallingford had known on board the Ranger, faded away like bad dreams when they stood in her presence. They were both true gentlemen at heart; they were also servants of their own country in France; and now every door flew open before their wishes; the future seemed but one long triumph and delight. Paul Jones, the poor Scottish lad who had steadily followed his splendid vision, had come at last very near to its reality, and to the true joys of an unfailing friendship.
4 The Ranger sailed out of Brest on the 10th of April. There had been an attempt at mutiny on board, but the captain had quelled that, and mastered the deep-laid plot behind it. Once at sea, everything seemed to be at rights again, since the ship was heading toward the English coast. The captain was silent now, as if always brooding upon great affairs, and appeared to have fallen into a calm state of self-possession; his eyes looked unconscious of whatever minor objects were reflected in their quick mirrors. All his irascibility was for the moment gone; his face was thoughtful and even melancholy, with a look as if at last he possessed some secret happiness and assurance. Glory herself had become strangely identified with a beautiful French princess, and he had made a vow to high Heaven that he would some day lay an English frigate at her feet, and show himself worthy of her confidence and most inspiriting sympathy. The captain had spoken to her of all his hard and hopeful life as he had never spoken to any one; she even knew the story of Wallingford, and their relations to Mary Hamilton and to each other. Madame de Chartres had listened eagerly, and next day said a word to the lieutenant that made his young heart fairly quiver at such exquisite understanding; to the captain she had spoken only of Glory as they both understood it, and of a hero's task and sacrifice.
5 The Ranger headed past the Channel and into the Irish Sea. At last the rich shores of England were close at hand, behind a shifting veil of fog, and even those among the Ranger's crew whose best dreams were of prizes were not unsatisfied with their prospects. When the gusty wind beat back the fog, they could see the mountains of Cumberland; and the shapes of those solid heights looked well to the eye, after the low lines of the French coast they had left behind. They passed St. Bees Head, keeping well at sea; and the captain did some petty trading with poor fisherman, to learn how things stood now at Whitehaven, and whether there might be frigates in those waters, or any foe too great for so bold a venturer. They were beating against the easterly winds, and steadily nearing the shore. They could see no large-looking ships, when the fog lifted here and there, though it was a region where much shipping went and came. There was possible danger of alarm, and that their sailing from Brest had been heralded by treachery. The captain was alive in every nerve, and held himself steady, like a tiger in the night, whose best weapons must be speed and silence.
6 Wallingford stood long on deck in the late afternoon, leaning against the gun in his wonted place, and troubled by the persistent reluctance of his heart. These were the shores of England, and he was bound to do them harm. He was not the first man who found it hard to fight against the old familiar flag which a few months earlier had been his own. He had once spent a few months in the old country, after his college course had ended, -- a boy of eighteen, who looked on at life admiringly, as if it were a play. He had been happy enough in London then, and in some great country houses, where old family friends of both his father and his mother had shown him much kindness, and the days had gone by not so unlike the fashion of life at home. The merchants and gentlefolk of New England had long been rich enough to live at ease, and Boston and Portsmouth, with Salem and the harbor towns between, were themselves but tiny Londons in those happier days before the war. Each had a few men of learning and a few women of the world, and were small satellites that borrowed their lesser light from a central sun. Wallingford knew enough of the solid force and dignity of England to wince at the ignorant talk of the crew about so formidable an enemy, and again his heart grew heavy with regret that this mother and child among the nations had been so rashly drawn into the cruelties of war. The King and those who flattered him were wrong enough, God forgive them! But the great Earl of Chatham, and Mr. Fox, and many another man of authority and power had stood for the colonies. For a moment this heavy young heart grew even heavier for the thought of being the accomplice of France in such a short-sighted business, but next moment Wallingford angrily shook himself free from such fears as these. They were the thoughts that had been born in him, not his own determination: he had come to fight for the colonies, and would trample down both his fears and his opinions once for all on the Ranger's deck. The lieutenant looked down on the good pine planks where he stood, -- they had grown out of the honest ground of his own neighborhood; he had come to love his duty, after all, and even to love his ship. Up went his head again, and his heart was once more hot within him; the only question now was, what did the captain mean to do?
7 The light began to fade, and evening to fall. The men were heaving the lead, and the captain watched them, listening anxiously as they told the soundings with the practiced drawl and quaint phrases that old seamen use. They could now and then catch a glimpse of small houses on the shore. The ship was evidently in shoal water, and the fog lifted and parted and thickened again, as if a skyful of clouds had dropped upon the sea.
8 Presently the word was passed to let go the anchor; and the storm of oaths and exclamations which this involved, owing to some unexpected hindrance, grew so tiresome to the lieutenant that he left the place where he had been standing, to go below again.
9 "Look, look, mon ami!" urged the captain eagerly; and Wallingford turned to see that the fog had driven away, while Paul Jones pointed toward a large town, and a forest of vessels lying in the bay before it, -- a huge flock of shipping for such a port. The Irish Sea had emptied itself into Whitehaven, and the wind had gone down; not a sloop or a snow, and not a little brig in a hurry, could put to sea again that April night.
10 "'T is old Whitehaven," said Paul Jones. "Now I'll show them that they have made an enemy! Now they'll know we are to be feared, not laughed at! I'll put an end to all their burnings in America. I'll harry their own coasts now, and frighten them back into their hills before I'm done. I'll sweep them off their own seas! My chance is in my hand!"
11 Dickson presented himself at this moment. The captain would not have had him listening, and turned upon him angrily to hear what he had to say.
12 "Thick as coasters in Portsmouth lower harbor in a northeast blow," commented the unwelcome officer, "but that's no such handsome town as ours."
13 "'T is a town of three hundred ships, mostly in the coal trade, and ranks close to Newcastle in Northumberland; 't is a town large enough to be charged with six hundred men for his Majesty's navy," and the captain scowled. "We need not take it for a poor fishing village till we have seen it better. A more uncertain coast, from the shifting sands, I do not remember to have known; but I can keep the main channels well enough through long acquaintance," he added, in a lower voice. "Now we are out of this dungeon of fog, thank God, and I shall creep in still and steady as a snail when I get ready."
14 They could see the gleam of white cliffs now, as the fog rolled up the hills.
15 "'T is full of poor miners there, burrowing like moles in the dark earth," said the captain pityingly, -- "a wretched life for a Christian!" Then he went to his cabin, and called his officers about him, and gave orders for the night's work.
16 "I loved Britain as a man may only love his mother country; but I was misjudged, and treated with such bitter harshness and contempt in my younger days that I renounced my very birthright!" said Paul Jones, turning to Wallingford with a strange impulse of sadness when the other men had gone. "I cannot help it now; I have made the break, and have given my whole allegiance to our new Republic, and all the strength of me shall count for something in the building of her noble future. Therefore I fight her battles, at whatever cost and on whatever soil. Being a sailor, I fight as a sailor, and I am here close to the soil that bore me. 'T is against a man's own heart, but I am bent upon my duty, though it cost me dear."
17 Wallingford did not speak, -- his own reluctance was but hardly overcome; he could not take his eyes off the captain, who had grown unconscious of his presence. It was a manly face and bold look, but when at rest there was something of wistfulness in the eyes and boyish mouth, -- something that told of bafflings and disappointments and bitter hardness in a life that had so breathlessly climbed the steep ladder of ambition. The flashing fire of his roused spirit, the look of eager bravery, were both absent now, leaving in their places something of great distinction, but a wistfulness too, a look hungry for sympathy, -- that pathetic look of simple bewilderment which sometimes belongs to dreamers and enthusiasts who do not know whither they are being led.
18 The wind was down, so that there was no hope, as at first, of the Ranger's running in closer to the harbor, with all her fighting force and good armament of guns. There was still light enough to see that no man-of-war was standing guard over so many merchantmen. The Ranger herself looked innocent enough from shore, on her far anchorage; but when darkness fell they hove up the anchor and crept in a little way, till the tide turned to go out and it was too dangerous among the shoals. They anchored once more, yet at too great a distance. Hours of delay ran by, and when the boats were lowered at last there was hindrance still. Some preparations that the captain had ordered were much belated, to his great dismay; discipline was of no avail; they were behindhand in starting; the sky was clear of clouds now, and the night would be all the shorter.
19 The officers were silent, wrapped in their heavy boat cloaks, and the men rowed with all the force that was in them. The captain had the surgeon with him in one boat, and some midshipmen, and the other boat was in charge of Lieutenant Wallingford, with Dickson and Hall.
20 There were thirty picked seamen, more or less, in the party; the boats were crowded and loaded to the gunwale, and they parted company like thieves in the night to work their daring purposes. The old town of Whitehaven lay quiet; there was already a faint light of coming dawn above the Cumberland Hills when they came to the outer pier; there was a dim gleam of snow on the heights under the bright stars, and the air was bitter cold. An old sea was running high after the late storms, and the boats dragged slowly on their errand. The captain grew fierce and restless, and cursed the rowers for their slowness; and the old town of Whitehaven and all her shipping lay sound asleep.
21 The captain's boat came in first; he gave his orders with sure acquaintance, and looked about him eagerly, smiling at some ancient-looking vessels as if they were old friends, and calling them by name. What with the stormy weather of the past week, and an alarm about some Yankee pirates that might be coming on the coast, they had all flocked in like sheep, and lay stranded now as the tide left them. There was a loud barking of dogs from deck to deck, but it soon ceased. Both the boats had brought what freight they could stow of pitch and kindlings, and they followed their orders; the captain's boat going to the south side, and Wallingford's to the north, to set fires among the shipping. There was not a moment to be lost.
22 On the south side of the harbor, where the captain went, were the larger ships, many of them merchantmen of three or four hundred tons burthen; on the north side were smaller craft of every sort, Dutch doggers and the humble coast-wise crafts that made the living of a family, -- each poor fish boat furnishing the tool for a hard and meagre existence. On few of these was there any riding light or watch; there was mutual protection in such a company, and the harbor was like a gateless poultry yard, into which the captain of the Ranger came boldly like a fox.
23 He ran his boat ashore below the fort, and sent most of her crew to set fires among the vessels, while he mounted the walls with a few followers, and found the sentinels nothing to be feared: they were all asleep in the guardhouse, such was the peace and prosperity of their lives. It was easy enough to stop them from giving alarm, and leave them fast-bound and gagged, to find the last half of the night longer than the first of it. A few ancient cannon were easily spiked, and the captain ran like a boy at Saturday-afternoon bird-nesting to the fort beyond to put some other guns out of commission; they might make mischief for him, should the town awake.
24 "Come after me!" he called. "I am at home here!" And the men at his heels marveled at him more than ever, now that they were hand to hand with such an instant piece of business. It took a man that was half devil to do what the captain was doing, and they followed as if they loved him. He stopped now in a frenzy of sudden rage. "They have had time enough already to start the burning; what keeps them? There should be a dozen fires lit now!" he cried, as he ran back to the waterside. The rest of the boat's crew were standing where he had left them, and met his reproaches with scared faces: they had their pitch and tar with them, and had boarded a vessel, but the candles in their dark lanterns, which were to start the blaze, had flickered and gone out. Somebody had cut them short: it was a dirty trick, and was done on purpose. They told in loud, indignant whispers that they had chosen an old deserted ship that would have kindled everything near her, but they had no light left. And the sky was fast brightening.
25 The captain's face was awful to look at, as he stood aghast. There was no sight of fire across the harbor, either, and no quick snake of flame could be seen running up the masts. He stood for one terrible moment in silence and despair. "And no flint and steel among us, on such an errand!" he gasped. "Come with me, Green!" he commanded, and set forth again, running like a deer back into the town.
26 It took but a minute to pass, by a narrow way, among some poor stone houses and out across a bit of open ground, to a cottage poorer and lower than any, and here Paul Jones lifted the clumsy latch. It was a cottage of a single room, and his companion followed hastily, and stood waiting close behind on the threshold.
27 "Nancy, Nancy, my dear!" said the captain, in a gentle voice, but thrusting back a warning hand to keep the surgeon out. "Nancy, ye'll not be frighted; 't is no thief, but your poor laddie, John Paul, that you wintered long ago with a hurt leg, an' he having none other that would friend him. I've come now but to friend you and to beg a light."
28 There was a cry of joy and a sound of some one rising in the bed, and the surgeon heard the captain's hasty steps as he crossed the room in the dark and kissed the old creature, who began to chatter in her feeble voice.
29 "Yes, here's your old tinder box in its place on the chimney," said the captain hastily. "I'm only distressed for a light, Mother Nancy, and my boat just landing. Here's for ye till I get ashore again from my ship," and there was a sound of a heavy handful of money falling on the bed.
30 "Tak' the best candle, child," she cried, "an' promise me ye'll be ashore again the morn's morn an' let me see your bonny eyes by day! I said ye'd come, -- I always said ye'd come!" But the two men were past hearing any more, as they ran away with their treasure.
31 "Why in God's name did you leave the door wide open?" said the surgeon. "She'll die of a pleurisy, and your gold will only serve to bury her!"
32 There was no time for dallying. The heap of combustibles on one old vessel's deck was quick set afire now and flung down the hatches, and a barrel of tar was poured into the thick-mounting flames; this old brig was well careened against another, and their yards were fouled. There was no time to do more; the two would easily scatter fire to all their neighborhood when the morning wind sprung up to help them, and the captain and his men must put off to sea. There were still no signs of life on the shore or the fort above.
33 They all gathered to the boat; the oarsmen were getting their places, when all at once there was a cry among the lanes close by, and a crowd of men were upon them. The alarm had been given, and the Ranger's men were pressed hard in a desperate, close fight. The captain stood on the end of the little pier with his pistol, and held back some of the attacking party for one terrible minute till all his men were in. "Lay out, lay out, my boys!" he cried then from his own place in the stern. There were bullets raining about them, but they were quick out of harm's way on the water. There was not a man of that boat's company could forget the captain's calmness and daring, as they saw him stand against the angry crowd.
34 The flames were leaping up the rigging of the burning ship; the shore was alive with men; there were crowds of people swarming away up among the hills beyond the houses. There had been a cannon overlooked, or some old ship's gun lay upon the beach, which presently spoke with futile bravado, bellowing its hasty charge when the captain's boat was well out upon the bay. The hills were black with frightened folk, as if Whitehaven were a ruined ant-hill; the poor town was in a terror. On the other side of the harbor there was no blaze even yet, and the captain stood in his boat, swaying to its quick movement, with his anxious eyes set to looking for the other men. There were people running along the harbor side, and excited shapes on the decks of the merchantmen; suddenly, to his relief of mind, he saw the other boat coming out from behind a Dutch brig.
35 Lieutenant Hall was in command of her now, and he stood up and saluted when he came near enough to speak.
36 "Our lights failed us, sir," he said, looking very grave; "somebody had tampered with all our candles before we left the ship. An alarm was given almost at once, and our landing party was attacked. Mr. Dickson was set upon and injured, but escaped. Mr. Wallingford is left ashore."
37 "The alarm was given just after we separated," said Dickson, lifting himself from the bottom of the boat. "I heard loud cries for the guard, and a man set upon me, so that I am near murdered. They could not have watched us coming. You see there has been treachery, and Wallingford has stayed ashore from choice."
38 "That will do, sir!" blazed the captain. "I must hear what you have done with Wallingford. Let us get back to our ship!" And the two boats sped away with what swiftness they could across the great stretch of rough water. Some of the men were regretful, but some wore a hard and surly look as they bent to their heavy oars.
1 The men left on board the Ranger, with Lieutenant Simpson in command, who had been watching all these long hours, now saw clouds of smoke rising from among the shipping, but none from the other side of the town, where they knew the captain had ordered many fires to be set among the warehouses. The two boats were at last seen returning in company, and the Ranger, which had drifted seaward, made shift with the morning breeze to wear a little nearer and pick them up. There was a great smoke in the harbor, but the town itself stood safe.
2 The captain looked back eagerly from the height of the deck after he came aboard; then his face fell. "I have been balked of my purpose!" he cried. "Curse such treachery among ye! Thank God, I've frightened them, and shown what a Yankee captain may dare to do! If I had been an hour earlier, and no sneaking cur had tampered with our lights" --
3 He was pale with excitement, and stood there at first triumphant, and next instant cursing his hard luck. The smoke among the shipping was already less; the Ranger was running seaward, as if the mountains had waked all their sleepy winds and sent them out to hurry her.
4 There was a crowd on deck about the men who had returned, and the sailors on the yards were calling down to their fellows to ask questions. The captain had so far taken no notice of any one, or even of this great confusion.
5 "Who's your gentleman now?" Dickson's voice suddenly rang triumphant, like a cracked trumpet, above the sounds of bragging narrative that were punctuated by oaths to both heaven and the underworld. "Who's a traitor and a damned white-livered dog of a Tory now? Who dropped our spare candles overboard, and dirtied his pretty fingers to spoil the rest? Who gave alarm quick 's he got his boat ashore, and might have had us all strung up on their English gallows before sunset?"
6 Dickson was standing with his back against the mast, with a close-shouldered audience about him, officious to give exact details of the expedition. Aloft, they stopped who were shaking out the sails, and tried to hear what he was saying. At this moment old Cooper lowered himself hand over hand, coming down on the run into the middle of the company before he could be stopped, and struck Dickson a mighty blow in the breast that knocked him breathless. Some of Dickson's followers set upon Cooper in return; but he twisted out of their clutch, being a man of great strength and size, and took himself off to a little distance, where he stood and looked up imploringly at the captain, and then dropped his big head into his hands and began to sob. The captain came to the edge of the quarter-deck and looked down at him without speaking. Just then Dickson was able to recover speech; he had nearly every man aboard for his audience. "You had ten minutes to the good afore Mr. Wallingford follered ye!" bellowed Hanscom, one of the Berwick men who had been in the same boat.
7 "I saw nothing of the judge's noble son; he took good care of that!" answered Dickson boldly; and there was a cry of approval among those who had suspected Wallingford. They were now in the right; they at last had proof that Wallingford deserved the name of traitor, or any evil name they might be disposed to call him. Every man in the lieutenant's boat was eager to be heard and to tell his own story. Mr. Hall had disappeared; as for Wallingford, he was not there to plead for himself, and his accusers had it all their own way.
8 "I tell ye I ain't afraid but he's all right! A man's character ought to count for something!" cried Hanscom. But there was a roar of contempt from those who had said from the first that a Tory was a Tory, and that Wallingford had no business to be playing at officer aboard the Ranger, and making shift to stand among proper seamen. He had gone ashore alone and stayed ashore, and there had been a sudden alarm in the town: the black truth stared everybody in the face.
9 The captain's first rage had already quieted in these few minutes since they had come aboard, and his face had settled into a look of stolid disappointment and weariness. He had given Whitehaven a great fright, -- that was something; the news of it would quickly travel along the coast. He went to his cabin now, and summoned Dickson and Hall to make their statements. Lieutenant Hall had no wish to be the speaker, but the fluent Dickson, battered and water-soaked, minutely described the experience of the boat's company. It certainly seemed true enough that Wallingford had deserted. Lieutenant Hall could contradict nothing that was said, though the captain directly appealed to him more than once.
10 "After all, we have only your own word for what happened on shore," said the captain brutally, as if Dickson were but a witness in court before the opposing attorney.
11 "You have only my word," said Dickson. "I suppose you think that you can doubt it. At least you can see that I have suffered. I feel the effects of the blows, and my clothes are still dripping here on your cabin floor in a way that will cause you discomfort. I have already told you all I can."
12 "I know not what to believe," answered Paul Jones, after a moment's reflection, but taking no notice of the man's really suffering condition. The captain stood mute, looking squarely into Dickson's face, as if he were still speaking. It was very uncomfortable. "Lieutenant Wallingford is a man of character. Some misfortune may have overtaken him; at the last moment" --
13 "He made the most of the moments he had," sneered Dickson then. "The watch was upon us; I had hard work to escape. I tried to do my best."
14 "Tried!" roared the captain. "What's trying? 'T is the excuse of a whiner to say he tried; a man either does the thing he ought, or he does it not. I gave your orders with care, sir; the treachery began here on board. There should have been fires set in those spots I commanded. 'T was the business of my officers to see that this was done, and to have their proper lights at hand. Curse such incompetence! Curse your self-seeking and your jealousy of me and one another!" he railed. "This is what you count for when my work is at the pinch! If only my good fellows of the Alfred had been with me, I might have laid three hundred ships in ashes, with half Whitehaven town."
15 Dickson's face wore a fresh look of triumph; the captain's hopes were confessedly dashed to ground, and the listener was the better pleased. Hall, a decent man, looked sorry enough; but Dickson's expression of countenance lent fuel to the flames of wrath, and the captain saw his look.
16 "I could sooner believe that last night's villain were yourself, sir!" he blazed out suddenly, and Dickson's smug face grew a horrid color. The attack was so furious that he was not without fear; a better man would have suffered shame.
17 "I take that from nobody. You forget yourself, Captain Jones," he managed to say, with choking throat; and then the viper's instinct in his breast made him take revenge. "You should be more civil to your officers, sir; you have insulted too many of us. Remember that we are American citizens, and you have given even Mr. Wallingford good reason to hate you. He is of a slow sort, but he may have bided his time!"
18 The bravery of the hypocrite counted for much. Paul Jones stared at him for a moment, wounded to the quick, and speechless. Then, "Leave me, you sneaking thief!" he hissed between his teeth. "Am I to be baited by a coward like you? We'll see who's the better man!" But at this lamentable juncture Lieutenant Hall stepped between, and by dint of hard pushing urged the offending Dickson to the deck again. Such low quarrels were getting to be too common on the Ranger, but this time he was not unwilling to take the captain's part. Dickson was chilled to the bone, and his teeth were chattering; the bruises on his face were swelling fast. He looked like a man that had been foully dealt with, -- first well pounded and then ducked, as Hall had once seen an offender treated by angry fishwives in the port of Leith.
19 There was much heaviness among those Berwick men who stood bravely for Roger Wallingford; one of them, at least, refused to be comforted, and turned his face to the wall in sorrow when the lieutenant's fate was discussed. At first he had boldly insisted that they would soon find out the truth; but there were those who were ready to confute every argument, even that of experience, and now even poor Cooper went sad and silent about his work, and fought the young squire's enemies no more.
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