The Tory Lover -- Contents

.The Tory Lover by Sarah Orne Jewett

Chapter XIV

"O garlands, hanging by these doors, now stay,
Nor from your leaves too quickly shake away
My dew of tears. (How many such, ah me!
A lover's eyes must shed!)"

     Captain Paul Jones was waiting, a most affable and dignified host, to greet his guest. Wallingford stood before him, with a faint flush of anger brightening his cheeks.

     "You commanded me, sir," he said shortly.

     "Oh, come, Wallingford!" exclaimed the captain, never so friendly before, and keeping that pleasant voice and manner which at once claimed comradeship from men and admiring affection from women. "I'll drop the commander when we're by ourselves, if you'll consent, and we'll say what we like. I wanted you to sup with me. I've got a bottle of good wine for us, - some of Hamilton's Madeira."

     Wallingford hesitated; after all, what did it matter? The captain was the captain; there was a vigorous sort of refreshment in this life on shipboard; a man could not judge his associates by the one final test of their being gentlemen, but only expect of each that he should follow after his kind. Outside society there lies humanity.

     The lieutenant seated himself under the swinging lamp, and took the glass that was held out to him. They drank together to the flag they carried, and to their lucky landfall on the morrow.

     "To France!" said the captain gallantly. It was plainly expected that all personal misunderstandings should be drowned in the good wine. Wallingford knew the flavor well enough, and even from which cask in Hamilton's cellar it had been drawn. Then the captain was quickly on his feet again, and took the four steps to and fro which were all his cabin permitted. He did not even appear to be impatient, though supper was slow in coming. His hands were clasped behind him, and he smiled once or twice, but did not speak, and seemed to be lost in thought. As for the guest, his thoughts were with Mary Hamilton. The flavor of wine, like the fragrance of a flower, can be a quick spur to memory. He saw her bright face and sweet, expectant eyes, as if they were sitting together at Hamilton's own table.

     The process of this evening meal at sea was not a long one; and when the two men had dispatched their food with businesslike haste, the steward was dismissed, and they were left alone with Hamilton's Madeira at better than half tide in the bottle between them, a plate of biscuit and some raisins, and the usual pack of cards. Paul Jones covered these with a forbidding hand, and presently pushed them aside altogether, and added a handful of pipes to the provisioning of the plain dessert. He wished to speak of serious things, and could not make too long an evening away from his papers. It seemed incredible that the voyage was so near its end. He refilled his own glass and Mr. Wallingford's.

     "I foresee much annoyance now, on board this ship. I must at once post to Paris, and here they will have time to finish their machinations at their leisure, without me to drive them up to duty. Have you long known this man Dickson?" asked the captain, lowering his voice and fixing his eyes upon the lieutenant.

     "I have always known him. He was once in our own employ and much trusted, but was afterward dismissed, and for the worst of reasons," said Wallingford.

     "What reputation has he borne in the neighborhood?"

     "He is called a sharp man of business, quick to see his own advantage, and generous in buying the good will of those who can serve his purpose. He is a stirring, money-getting fellow, very close-fisted; but he has been unlucky in his larger ventures, as if fortune did not much incline to favor him."

     "I despised the fellow from the first," said the captain, with engaging frankness, "but I have no fear that I cannot master him; he is much cleverer than many a better man, yet 't is not well to forget that a cripple in the right road can beat a racer in the wrong. He has been sure these last days that he possesses my confidence, but I have made him serve some good turns. Now he is making trouble as fast as he can between Simpson and me. Simpson knows little of human nature; he would as soon have Dickson's praise as yours or mine. He cannot wait to supplant me in this command, and he frets to gather prizes off these rich seas. There's no harm in prizes; but I sometimes think that no soul on board has any real comprehension of the larger duties of our voyage, and the ends it may serve in furthering an alliance with France. They all begin, well instructed by Dickson, to look upon me as hardly more than a passenger. 'T is true that I look for a French frigate very soon, as Dickson tells them; but he adds that it is to Simpson they must look for success, while if he could rid himself of Simpson he would do it. I must have a fleet if I can, and as soon as I can, and be master of it, too. I have my plans all well laid! Dickson is full of plots of his own, but to tell such a man the truth about himself is to give him the blackest of insults."

     Wallingford made a gesture of impatience. The captain's face relaxed, and he laughed as he leaned across the table.

     "Dickson took his commission for the sake of prize money," he said. "A pirate, a pirate, that's what he is, but oh, how pious in his speech!

"'Unpitying hears the captive's moans
Or e'en a dying brother's groans!'

     "There's a hymn for him!" exclaimed the captain, with bitter emphasis. "No, he has no gleam of true patriotism in his cold heart; he is full of deliberate insincerities; 'a mitten for any hand,' as they say in Portsmouth. I believe he would risk a mutiny, if he had time enough; and having gained his own ends of putting better men to shame, he would pose as the queller of it. A low-lived, self-seeking man; you can see it for yourself, Mr. Wallingford."

     "True, sir. I did not need to come to sea to learn that man's character," and Wallingford finished his glass and set it down, but still held it with one hand stretched out upon the table, while he leaned back comfortably against the bulkhead.

     "If our enterprise has any value in the sight of the nations, or any true power against our oppressors, it lies in our noble cause and in our own unselfishness," said Paul Jones, his eyes kindling. "This man and his fellows would have us sneak about the shores of Great Britain, picking up an old man and a lad and a squalling woman from some coastwise trading smack, and plundering what weak craft we can find to stuff our pockets with ha'pennies. We have a small ship, it is true; but it is war we follow, not thievery. I hear there's grumbling between decks about ourselves getting nothing by this voyage. 'T is our country we have put to sea for, not ourselves. No man has it in his heart more than I to confront the enemy; but Dickson would like to creep along the coast forever after small game, and count up by night what he has taken by day, like a petty shopkeeper. I look for larger things, or we might have stopped at home. I have my plans, sir; the Marine Committee have promised me my proper ship. One thing that I cannot brook is a man's perfidy. I have good men aboard, but Dickson is not among them. I feel sometimes as if I trod on caltrops. I am outdone, Mr. Wallingford. I have hardly slept these three nights. You have my apology, sir."

     The lieutenant bowed with respectful courtesy, but said nothing. The captain opened his eyes a little wider, and looked amused; then he quickly grew grave and observed his guest with fresh attention. There was a fine unassailable dignity in Wallingford's bearing at this moment.

     "Since you are aware that there is some disaffection, sir," he said deliberately, "I can only answer that it seems to me there is but one course to follow, and you must not overrate the opposition. They will always sit in judgment upon your orders, and discuss your measures, and express their minds freely. I have long since seen that our natural independence of spirit in New England makes individual opinion appear of too great consequence, - 't is the way they fall upon the parson's sermon ashore, every Monday morning. As for Lieutenant Simpson, I think him a very honest-hearted man, though capable of being influenced. He has the reputation in Portsmouth of an excellent seaman, but high-tempered. Among the men here, he has the advantage of great powers of self-command."

     Wallingford paused, as if to make his words more emphatic, and then repeated them: "He has the mastery of his temper, sir, and the men fear him; he can stop to think even when he is angry. His gifts are perhaps not great, but they have that real advantage."

     Paul Jones blazed with sudden fury. He sprang to his feet, and stood light and steady there beyond the table, in spite of the swaying ship.

     "Forgive me, sir," said Roger Wallingford, "but you bade us speak together like friends to-night. I think you a far greater man and master than when we left Portsmouth; I am not so small-minded as to forget to honor my superiors. I see plainly that you are too much vexed with these men, - I respect and admire you enough to say so; you must not expect from them what you demand from yourself. In the worst weather you could not have had a better crew: you have confessed to that. I believe you must have patience with the small affairs which have so deeply vexed you. The men are right at heart; you ought to be able to hold them better than Dickson!"

     The captain's rage had burnt out like a straw fire, and he was himself again.

     "Speak on, Mr. Lieutenant; you mean kindly," he said, and took his seat. The sweat stood on his forehead, and his hands twitched.

     "I think we have it in our power to intimidate the enemy, poorly fitted out as we are," he said, with calmness, "but we must act like one man. At least we all pity our countrymen, who are starving in filthy prisons. Since Parliament, now two years agone, authorized the King to treat all Americans taken under arms at sea as pirates and felons, they have been stuffing their dungeons with the innocent and guilty together. What man seeing his enemy approach does not arm himself in defense? We have made no retaliation such as I shall make now. I have my plans, but I cannot risk losing a man here and a man there, out of a crew like this, before I adventure a hearty blow; this cuts me off from prize-hunting. And the commander of an American man-of-war cannot hobnob with his sailors, like the leader of a gang of pirates. I am no Captain Kidd, nor am I another Blackbeard. I can easily be blocked in carrying out my purposes. Dickson will not consent to serve his country unless he can fill his pockets. Simpson cannot see the justice of obeying my orders, and lets his inferiors see that he resents them. I wish Dickson were in the blackest pit of Plymouth jail. If I were the pirate he would like to have me, I'd yard-arm him quick enough!"

     "We may be overheard, sir," pleaded Wallingford. "We each have our ambitions," he continued bravely, while his father's noble looks came to his face. "Mine are certainly not Dickson's, nor do I look forward to a life at sea, like yourself. This may be the last time we can speak together on the terms you commanded that we should speak to-night. I look for no promotion; I am humble enough about my fitness to serve; the navy is but an accident, as you know, in my career. I beg you to command my hearty service, such as it is; you have a right to it, and you shall not find me wanting. I know that you have been very hard placed."

     And now the captain bowed courteously in his turn, and received the pledge with gratitude, but he kept his eyes upon the young man with growing curiosity. Wallingford had turned pale, and spoke with much effort.

     "My heart leaps within me when I think that I shall soon stand upon the shore of France," Paul Jones went on, for his guest kept silence. "Within a few days I shall see the Duke of Chartres, if he be within reach. No man ever took such hold of my affections at first acquaintance as that French prince. We knew each other first at Hampton Roads, where he was with Kersaint, the French commodore. My only thought in boarding him was to serve our own young navy and get information for our ship-building, but I was rewarded by a noble gift of friendship. 'T is now two years since we have met, but I cannot believe that I shall find him changed; I can feel my hand in his already. He will give our enterprise what help he can. He met me on his deck that day like a brother; we were friends from the first. I told him my errand, and he showed me everything about his new ship, and even had copies made for me of her plans. 'T was before France and England had come to open trouble, and he was dealing with a rebel, but he helped me all he could. I had loaded my sloop with the best I had on my plantation; 't was May, and the gardens very forward. I knew their vessels had been long at sea, and could ship a whole salad garden. I would not go to ask for favors then without trying to make some pleasure in return, but we were friends from the first. He is a very noble gentleman; you shall see him soon, I hope, and judge for yourself."

     Wallingford listened, but the captain was still puzzled by a look on the young man's face.

     "I must make my confession," said the lieutenant. "When I hear you speak of such a friend, I know that I have done wrong in keeping silence, sir. I put myself into your hands. When I took my commission, I openly took the side of our colonies against the Crown. I am at heart among the Neutrals: 't is ever an ignominious part to take. I never could bring myself to take the King's side against the country that bore me. I should rather curse those who insisted, on either side, upon this unnatural and unnecessary war. Now I am here; I put myself very low; I am at your mercy, Captain Paul Jones. I cannot explain to you my immediate reasons, but I have gone against my own principles for the sake of one I love and honor. You may put irons on me, or set me ashore without mercy, or believe that I still mean to keep the oath I took. Since I came on board this ship I have begun to see that the colonies are in the right; my heart is with my oath as it was not in the beginning."

     "By Heaven!" exclaimed the captain, staring. "Wallingford, do you mean this?" The captain sprang to his feet again. "By Heaven! I could not have believed this from another, but I know you can speak the truth! Give me your hand, sir! Give me you hand, I say, Wallingford! I have known men enough who would fight for their principles, and fight well, but you are the first I ever saw who would fight against them for love and honor's sake. This is what I shall do," he went on rapidly. "I shall not iron you or set you ashore; I shall hold you to your oath. I have no fear that you will ever fail to carry out my orders as an officer of this ship. Now we have indeed spoken together like friends!"

     They seated themselves once more, face to face.

     There was a heavy trampling overhead. Wallingford had a sudden fear lest this best hour of the voyage might be at an end, and some unexpected event summon them to the deck, but it was only some usual duty of the sailors. His heart was full of admiration for the great traits of the captain. He had come to know Paul Jones at last; their former disastrous attempts at fellowship were all forgotten. A man might well keep difficult promises to such a chief; the responsibilities of his life were in a strong and by no means unjust hand. The confession was made; the confessor had proved to be a man of noble charity.

     There was a strange look of gentleness and compassion on the captain's face; his thought was always leading him away from the past moment, the narrow lodging and poor comfort of the ship.

     "We have great dangers before us," he reflected, "and only our poor human nature to count upon; 't is the shame and failures of past years that make us wince at such a time as this. We can but offer ourselves upon the altar of duty, and hope to be accepted. I have kept a promise, too, since I came to sea. I was mighty near to breaking it this very day," he added simply.

     The lieutenant had but a dim sense of these words; something urged him to make a still greater confidence. He was ready to speak with utter frankness now, to such a listener, of the reasons why he had come to sea, of the one he loved best, and of all his manly hopes; to tell the captain everything.

     At this moment, the captain himself, deeply moved by his own thoughts, reached a cordial hand across the table. Wallingford was quick to grasp it and to pledge his friendship as he never had done before.

     Suddenly he drew back, startled, and caught his hand away. There was a ring shining on Paul Jones's hand, and the ring was Mary Hamilton's.


garlands, hanging by these doors, now stay,
Nor from your leaves too quickly shake away
My dew of tears. (How many such, ah me!
A lover's eyes must shed!):
    This is from "The Dew of Tears" (LXX), an epigram by Asclepiades, which appears in the Greek Anthology (1890), Edited with a Revised Text, Translation, and Notes, by J. W. Mackail. Jewett uses a different translation.

Stay there, my garlands, hanging by these doors, nor hastily scattering your petals, you whom I have wetted with tears (for lovers' eyes are rainy), but when you see him as the door opens, drip my rain over his head, that so at least that golden hair may drink my tears.
Asclepiades was a Greek-born orator and physician who lived in first-century BC Rome.
    (Research: Patricia Rattray)
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cripple in the right road: See Ralph Waldo Emerson, Journals III, Works I, p. 33. Cited in A Dictionary of American Proverbs, Taylor and Whiting, 1958. (Research: Travis Feltman)
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Unpitying hears the captive's moans
Or e'en a dying brother's groans!:
  These lines appear in several sources, specifying that they describe a pirate.  Jewett may have encountered this verse on the title page of The Interesting Life, Travels, Voyages, and Daring Engagements, of that Celebrated and Justly Notorious Pirate, Paul Jones; Containing Numerous Anecdotes of Undaunted Courage, in the Prosecution of His Nefarious Undertakings. Written by Himself.  The origin of the quotation remains unknown.
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Marine Committee: The Marine Committee was formed in 1775 by the Continental Congress to deal with the formation of a navy. (See Morison 36).
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caltrops: Star thistle and other thorny plants of the Zygophyllaceae or the caltrop family, but perhaps more pertinent in this case, "a device with four metal points so arranged that when any three are on the ground the fourth projects upward as a hazard to the hooves of horses." (Research: Gabe Heller; source: Merriam-Webster dictionary).
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Since Parliament ... treat all Americans taken under arms at sea as pirates and felons: According to John Paul Jones's diaries this act was passed in February 1776; there he says: "This circumstance more than any other made me the declared enemy of Great Britain." (Research: Gabe Heller)
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Captain Kidd ... Blackbeard: Whether William Kidd (c. 1645-1701) really was a pirate is a matter of controversy. He gained his reputation as privateer, paid by King William of England to attack French ships in the West Indies. He became legendary on the coast of Maine, where he is supposed to have hidden "treasures." In the process he became a wealthy New York ship-master. In 1696 he was sent to be a privateer and suppress piracy in the Red Sea and near Madagascar. It is unclear what happened on this voyage, but for some reason he took at least one American colonial vessel. When he returned to England, he was tried as a pirate and hanged.
     Blackbeard's origins are unknown. One source says he was born Edward Drummond, but changed his last name to Teach or Thatch or another variant when he went to sea. He began as a British privateer out of Bristol during Queen Anne's War, then in 1713 he joined a pirate crew on "The Queen Anne's Revenge." He became captain in 1717. His crew took 40 ships in the next year. He became known as Blackbeard for his large unkempt black beard, which he often decorated with black ribbons and smoking fuses to make it more fearsome. On the orders of the colonial governor of Virginia, Lieutenant Robert Maynard captured and killed Blackbeard in November 1718. (Research: Gabe Heller)
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Hampton Roads ... with Kersaint: Hampton Roads is a channel in southeast Virginia between the mouth of the James River and Chesapeake Bay. Buell reports the meeting of Jones with Commodore de Kersaint and the Duke of Chartres at Hampton Roads in May 1775, saying it was important to the development of a relationship with influential French officials and the eventual U.S.-French alliance (1;25-27). Morison, however, says this event never took place (426), and there is no record of this in other Jones biographies or in his own writing (Research assistance: Travis Feltman)
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The Tory Lover -- Contents