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with great applause.) But first,” he resumed, “I will explain, as shortly as possible, the cause of Kate's not having made the arrangements for this evening's amusements, according to your request and wishes. Happening this afternoon to be passing through Somers Town, I saw Kate walking in the same neighbourhood, at a very quick pace. Being somewhat curious to know what she was doing there, and perhaps a little jealous, I followed her; she entered a cellar at the end of a passage, in Chapel Street, stayed there for about a minute, and then, running out, walked back to her own house. I returned to Chapel Street, entered the alley, descended into the cellar, and found a scene of misery which I will not attempt to describe; in a word, I found, on inquiry, that Kate had gone to hire a musician, had found the poor man ill more in mind than in body; for although both he and his family were half starved, their bodily sufferings were far increased by knowing that unless four pounds were paid to their landlord the next morning, even the bed upon which they lay would be sold from under them. Kate had paid this four pounds, and as I knew she had not at her own immediate command any such sum, I could not help fancying that this was the sum destined to defray this evening's expenses, or, at least, a portion of it, and, ladies, can you not guess what has become of your subscriptions? On learning all this, I guessed that our party would be somewhat deficient in a few material points, and so took the liberty of ordering supper and engaging musicians on my own responsibility; and now you have the whole story.”
The mystery was now cleared up, and cleared up to the satisfaction of all. Need we say that Kate's conduct met with the approbation of all?—that those who had suspected and murmured against her, now begged, with tears in their eyes, to be forgiven? Need we further add, that the supper was eaten, the polka danced, and a happier evening never spent, and that to this very day a favourite topic of conyersation amongst the favoured guests on that happy evening is Kate Crosby's Polka Party?
THE HUSBAND MALGRÉ LUI; OR, THE WEST INDIA
ADVENTURE OF A TEXIAN NAVAL OFFICER.
BY PERCY B. ST. JOHN.
PERHAPS no part of the world can produce scenery more exquisite than that which we have more than once gazed upon, in admiration and delight, while sailing, on a calm day, along the shores of that Hesperides of the Spanish West Indies, Porto Rico. Rising gradually from the sea, gently sloping meadows, heavy with sugar-cane, meet the eye, some long, smooth, and level, others heaving their green bosoms on high, here and there leaving space for the trickling streams which, taking their rise in the hills, come murmuring towards the sea. Numerous and varied groves of every tropical tree, between which appear the stately mansions of the planters and the low huts of the negroes, take up much of the foreground; while, further back, we espy delicious valleys and openings between the lofty but verdant hills, which, clothed with fertility, are crowned on their very summits by long lines of cocoa-nut trees, from beneath the deep shade of which, a little white cabin perhaps peeps forth, picturesque both in position and form. No European who has not entered into the domains of the tropics, can figure to himself the deep and rich glow, almost gorgeous in its intensity, which the burning light of the sun here throws upon everything vegetable. The green, fresh, glossy hue in which all nature is enveloped, is so ineffably soothing and delightful to the imagination, that it is much to be regretted the evils which accompany it are such as to render a residence in such a spot so very undesirable.
Many, however, live, and enjoy life, too, in these localities; and if the reader will transport himself with me, to about two miles from Aquadilla, he will behold the residence of Don Juan Mendoza, a wealthy planter, who, with his only daughter, defied the heat and pestilence, and found happiness in that retired spot. On the summit of a little hill, which swept its smooth, green carpet to the water's edge, and in the extreme bend of a small bay, was situate the house of the proprietor of all the surrounding land, exhibiting all the outward appearances of luxurious ease and comfort: let it be remembered, when first it caught my eye, I had been two months cooped up in the small cabin of an English brig, about the most opposite thing in the world to what I gazed upon, and hence I saw all couleur de rose. But still, under any circumstances, I should have admired it, for its nature and real beauties, both of appearance and situation. Long, low, and ornamented in front by a verandah, which afforded delicious shelter during the heat of the day, its beautiful adornments of flowers and shells, arranged in exquisite disorder around the pillars which supported the arcade, bore silent testimony, in their picturesque and tasteful confusion, to the discerning judgment of the hand which had placed them there.
A long French window, in the centre of the house, reaching to the ground, and which gave an uninterrupted view of the sea, was, on a morning in May, 1841, tenanted by one of those lovely visions which occur oftener, it must be confessed, in our day dreams than in reality. It was a young girl, not more, perhaps, than seventeen, but of so indefinable a character of loveliness, as to render it a useless effort to describe her, in default of which, we would portray her costume, but that we don't sabee, as the niggers say, silks and satins. Let it then be considered as granted, that she was beautiful in person and elegant in dress, for we hope our readers will have sufficient respect for us to take our word for it, since, to prove an assertion, however true in itself, often requires considerable tact and ingenuity. But perhaps we may inquire into her occupation; but here, again, we have assigned ourselves a most Herculean task, since, we believe, Donna Maria Mendoza was employed in thinking, and the thoughts of a young lady of seventeen, especially when that lady is of Spanish parentage, are apt to be of a somewhat complex nature. Emotions, feelings, and sentiments begin at this age, especially in countries where seventeen is the age of woman, to crowd upon one another so fast, that even their owner cannot take full cognizance of them, much less we unfortunates of the other sex, who only, as it were by chance and hap-hazard, obtain glimpses of that microcosm, a woman's heart. Donna Maria, however this may be, was habited for a walk; and though we must own we have actually walked arm-in-arm more than once with the said young lady, we protest, by the head of President Jackson, we could no more describe her dress than we could have fulfilled the late David Crockett's mission of catching the last comet by the tail from the top of the Alleghany mountains. Dressed, however, she was, for a walk; but certain signs of a forthcoming storm appeared to render it exceedingly doubtful whether her wishes could be fulfilled or not. For some time, the previously slumbering ocean had been agitated above and below its surface, and now came tumbling headlong, wave after wave, one over the other, on to the beach, first hissing, then roaring, until, at length, it became plainly evident that not far on the surface of the ocean a tempest was heaving. This is often to be remarked; the vexed deep swelling visibly long before the strength of the wind is felt. The fact was, however, soon rendered more plain, by the gradual rise, in the north-east, of a low black cloud, at first but a streak upon the horizon, but which, by degrees, extending east and west as it rose, at length enveloped the whole sky in Tartarian darkness. The appearance of the dense vapour was actually awful, overcharged, as it was known to be, with
“ Hideous ruin and combustion." Presently, the dark bank opened, and from a break, known as the “ Wind's Eye,” and somewhat clearer than the rest, the storm came pouring out its tremendous fury upon the waters, ploughing up the deep, and lashing the liquid masses until they foamed, as if in fury, and the waves sank, rose, and sank again, as if anxious to escape the vengeance of the gale. Those who have been, as I have, upon the wide ocean, during such a scene, can alone comprehend its full horror -waves rising like mountains, and leaving a hollow chasm between, ready, as it were, to engulf, in hideous profundity, all that rode upon the waters—now sweeping on, in majestic force, but in unbroken masses—then meeting, breaking, striking one billow against another, and uniting in one pyramidal wave, rising to the heaven — then separating once more, and commingling with the torrent below. How it whistled-how it howled—this raging, furious tempest—as, puff after puff, and blast after blast, it came on, like the Miltonic forces of Satan, to the charge
Blowing marshal sounds
A shout that tore hell's conclave !" But why stands Donna Maria transfixed to the spot in which we left her, despite the raging fury of the elements? She appears absolutely immovable. Is it that she is one of these anomalous beings who take pleasure in what in general causes terror and alarm-one of these extraordinary specimens of humanity who delight in the terrific and horrible? Or, rather, does some object, which we have not yet noticed, claim her undivided attention? We shall endeavour to satisfy the reader, by shifting our position a few miles, and joining, at the risk of a wet jacket, a small knot of men, in a position which, in sight of the planter's villa, was likely to call forth the attention of even a less enthusiastic and sympathetic mind than that which at present was so anxiously interested for them.
Upon the deck of a moderate-sized brig, which appeared to “walk the waters like a thing of life," a party of men were engaged in the usual anxious endeavours to provide against casualties which the outburst of a tempest is very apt to arouse the thought of. The deck was a scene of orderly confusion; every man occupying his proper
position. At the wheel stood a middle-sized young man, of fair hair and complexion, evidently an Englishman, in the undress uniform of a naval officer. He was, at the same time, steering, and giving his orders, while the master, Monsieur Frontin,-a Frenchman, one of those men who carry on, until the last moment, with a species of Dutch courage, which, once overcome, their presence of mind is entirely gone,-was standing still, aghast, and, for the moment, helpless. In consequence of this error of character in the master, the storm had struck the brig with all sails set, and though the halliards had been all let go, the square mainsail hauled up, and every rag of canvas flapping about in the furious blast, yet so great was the force and violence of the wind, that, close-hauled as they had been, had they not instantly, before its full fury reached them, squared the yards, there had been no hope, especially as she was not quick enough in obeying the helm; when the object was to shake her, she would not come up, though the wheel was hard down, until the furious blast was perhaps abated.
We step on the quarter-deck just as the halliards are let go, the men standing by the main rigging awaiting orders, the master looking anxiously at Captain Downing-his passenger, who had been allowed to take command, pro tempore, of the vessel.
“Up, you boys,” said he, after an instant's pause, during which he resigned the wheel to the master, and awaited the result of a mad plunge into a deep and hollow wave, that appeared to shake the very masts out of her;“up, boys, and furl the top-gallant sails! You Edwards, stow the flying-jib and fore-topmast staysail. Up, my lads, and close reef the topsails! Bear a hand, or we shall have them blown away. Holloa! you doctor!" addressing the cook, who was busily engaged about the galley, doing nothing; “ clear away the thwart halliards and peak halliards. Cut that enchanted yarn. We must have out the close-reefed, boom mainsail, Mr. Frontin, to keep her up, and thus clear the land, though I scarcely think she will live close-hauled. It is of no use heaving her to; we should drift on shore in no time with this sea on, Haul out well there to leeward, you on the main-topsail yard! By George! it pipes a trifle," added he, as a heavy puff, forcing up a huge sea, they simultaneously struck the vessel, which, broaching to, almost lay over on her beam ends, to the great inconvenience and danger of the men on the yard.
“ You, cook, and you, Mr. Simcox,” addressing the mate, here and let us haul taut this weather clew-garnet, the mainsail is shaking to pieces. Furl the mainsail!” continued he, in a loud and authoritative voice, addressing those who, having concluded their share of the work aloft, were coming down the rigging.
In about twenty minutes from the commencement of the storm everything was all “ right and straight,” as Brother Jonathan would express it. The top-gallant sails were snugly furled, as well as the courses; the flying-jib and staysail carefully stowed, the topsails closereefed, when it was instantly decided to haul up close on a wind, with the larboard tacks aboard, and endeavour to gain the open sea, and thus avoid Aquadilla Point, into which they were now rushing, or, rather, into the very bay above alluded to. The whole surface of the heavens was now black with clouds; the sea, gaining strength every instant, had risen to a tremendous fury; the short, broken waves, combing up when thus near the land, were cast with almost irresistible fury over the brig's decks, rendering all the necessary maneuvres almost im
possible. Often when snug on shore, reviewing in my mind the terrors of the wave, the prodigious force of the wind, and all the accompanying horrors of a storm, I can scarcely too much admire the skill and cool courage of the sailor, who, amidst all this, does his duty, and trusts in Providence and the goodness of his ship. The uproar-the wind howling like mad demons in the rigging, whistling through the trembling cord—the creaking of the strained timbers, as they are struck by heavy seas—the wild and scampering clouds aloft--the boiling and angry deep below—the bare, naked masts and yards—the ship itself flying through the fierce element,—all these things were present to our hero's mind, but though a young man, Downing was not braving the stormy ocean for the first time, and he did not hesitate more than an instant.
“ Starboard sheets stand by to haul-larboard sheets let go-port a little, port-haul aft your starboard sheets-hard a-starboard your helm. I say, haul up your peak halliards—so! so!". And the gallant little brig flew, her one side bare to the wind, her other deep in the water, in the required direction. Aquadilla was soon neared, but it was instantly apparent that on this tack she would not fetch round. Downing was prepared, and though, with such a tremendous sea on, it was a highly dangerous experiment, yet knowing the good qualities of the craft, he determined to try her on the other tack, and then again return to her present course.
“Ready about!” he exclaimed, and the men were instantly at their various stations.
“ Tacks and sheets!" and the little amount of sail to be managed was ready.
“ Helm's a-lee!” he shouted, as Monsieur Frontin put his wheel hard down; the brig came up, the sails shook, she got stern-way in her, and contrary to the master's opinion, did not miss stays.
“ Mainsails let go and haul! over with the trie-rail boom!" and the main-yards swung round, followed in an instant by the head-yards, but without the same success, as the fore-topmast cracked and went over the side, carrying with it the whole foresails and rigging.
All hope of keeping off a lee shore was now of course gone, and the brig, of necessity, under her close-reefed main-topsail, was put right before the wind, and steered headlong for the beach. The sky had cleared a trifle, though the storm raged with unabated fury, and as Captain Downing again took the wheel, having first told each man to look out for himself, he cast his eyes anxiously around to select the best spot for running the brig ashore. A party of negroes and one or two white persons were standing on the kind of lawn which sloped down from Don Mendoza's house, and Downing noticed with interest, even at that moment, an elegantly-habited female amongst them. The beach, near the spot where they stood, was evidently that best fitted to ensure their safety, at least, so thought our friend, and he strove, might and main, to steer for that place. The serf ran, it is true, tremendously high, but still there were many reasons which rendered it very far from doubtful that their life might be spared. The whole of the crew, including the master, stood near the forecastle hatch, anxiously preparing for the approaching struggle, and watching the character of the coast with intense anxiety. The beach was, luckily, somewhat bluff, as the bowsprit actually protruded over land, which, though not dry, was only wet by the surf dashing itself over it.