WebNovel Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume V Part 1

WebNovel Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume V Part 1 – Hey, welcome to my web. This web site provides reading experience in webnovel genres, including action, adventure, magic, fantasy, romance, harem, mystery, etc. Readers can read free chapters in this web.

Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland is a web novel created by Alexander Leighton. This lightnovel is right now completed.

When you looking for “Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume V Part 1”, you are coming to the perfect site.

Read WebNovel Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume V Part 1

Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland.

by Various.

Volume 5

BILL STANLEY; OR, A SAILOR’S STORY.

Reader, if thou hast never visited the Fern Isles, but intendest to visit them, thou hast a pleasure in reserve–a positive, downright, profitable pleasure–profitable as regards the health of the body, for a trip upon the sea makes the blood feel ten years younger, and dance in the veins as merrily as the waves around us; and profitable also to the mind, by filling it with fresh objects for wonder and contemplation; and it is a fact very generally overlooked, that the poor jaded mind stands as much in need of new objects to work upon, as its plebeian neighbour, the body, stands in need of rest or change of diet. It is a matter of small consequence, whether you go in a yacht or in a steamer; in the former you will have as much pleasure, in the latter more punctuality.

But it is a matter of much consequence what sort of company you have on board–in a word, what materials your fellow-voyagers are made of. If they be all your exceedingly good-natured sort of people–people bowed down with politeness and a desire to please–you won’t be half an hour at sea till you find them dead as uncorked small beer that has stood an hour in the sun, or insipid as milk and water. I had as lief dine upon dried veal as be mewed up a day with such society. If you wish to relish the company, and to see character developed, be careful to have it sprinkled with the salt, the pepper, and the mustard of human dispositions; as for the vinegar, even a drop of that would be too much.

Sickness might improve your health for the future, but would impair your pleasure for the present; and, in truth, seasickness appears to be as pale, ghostly, and uncomfortable a companion as a man may meet withal.

But, if the day be fine, and the breeze moderate, there is but little chance of your being sick. At any rate, you will find about half a pound of well-boiled ham, just as the vessel kisses the salt water, an excellent preventive; and half the pleasure of a sea trip lies in the relish, the _salt_, which it gives to the homeliest morsel.

When the Ferns are first seen, what appeared but two, or, at most, three islands, are now found to be a cl.u.s.ter of sixteen or twenty–the ocean-homes of ten thousand times ten thousand sea-fowls; which now may be seen rising in myriads, blackening the air and covering the surface of the islands, as if a thunder-cloud hung over them–anon their snowy wings flash in the sunbeams, countless specks of light begem the seeming cloud, and flickering for a moment, a.s.sume the appearance of a magnificent rainbow instinct with motion,–and, again, as if turning from the flashing of their own beautiful plumage, settle like darkness on the rocks. To appreciate the striking effect of these islands, it is necessary to sail round them, as well as to land upon them. Each appears to be surrounded by a pier or bulwark of nature’s masonry. What is termed the Pinnacle Island, is the most impressive. We have been informed that it bears a strong resemblance to St. Helena–the grave of Europe’s conqueror. The pinnacles are a ma.s.s of perpendicular rocks, representing towers, battlements, and fortifications, apparently as perfect to the eye as if formed by the hands of man, but that their terrible strength seems to frown in mockery on his puny efforts. They, alone, are worth visiting again and again. They make man feel his own insignificance, and the power of the Omnipotent voice that called into existence the mighty ocean and the wonders of its bosom. Burns, on visiting a place in the Highlands, said it was “enough to make a blockhead a poet;” and we say that the man who could visit the Fern Isles without feeling the influence of poetry within him, has a head as stupid as the sea-fowl that inhabit them, and an imagination as impenetrable as the rocks that compose the pinnacles.

About three years ago, a mixed party left Newcastle, in a steamer, on a pleasure excursion to the islands. Amongst the company, there was a man of a weather-beaten but happy and intelligent countenance, whose age seemed to be at least sixty, and whose general appearance and manners indicated that he was an old seaman, and perhaps had been a purser or a sailing-master in the navy, or the commander of a merchantman, who had made enough to enable him to cast anchor ash.o.r.e, in peace, quiet, and plenty, for the remainder of his days. His shrewdness, his knowledge, and his humour, soon rendered him a favourite with the company.

On arriving at the islands, the party went on sh.o.r.e; and, dividing themselves into groups, sat down, and spread out their provisions on the rocks; about a dozen prevailed upon the old sailor to accompany them, and to be their messmate. After dinner, they began to sing, and the old tar was called upon for a song.

“Gentlemen,” said he, “I never could raise a single stave in my life; but, if it’s all one to you, I will spin you a sailor’s yarn.”

“Agreed,” cried they–“all! all!”

“Well,” began the old seaman, “it was a year or two before the short peace of Amiens, that two young seamen were sitting in a public-house in North Shields, which I shall please to speak of as the sign of the Old Ship; and its landlord I shall call Mr. Danvers. The name of the one sailor was William Stanley, the other Jack Jenkins. Jack was but a plain fellow, though no lubber; but Bill was a glorious young fellow–the admiration of everybody; though only the son of a poor laundress, who wrought hard to bring him up, while a boy, he had contrived to get knowledge and book-learning enough to have been made commodore of a college. I may here tell you, too, that old Danvers had a daughter called Mary–one of the best and prettiest girls on all Tyneside. She was Bill’s consort on all occasions; and they were true to each other as a needle is to the Pole. Jack and he were friends and shipmates; and being sitting together–

“‘I say Bill,’ said his comrade, ‘as we are to sail upon a long voyage to-morrow, what say you for a run up to Newcastle to the theatre to-night? You shall take Polly Danvers, and I shall take my old woman.'”

For Jack was married.

“‘It is of no use thinking of it,’ answered he; ‘I am brought up here as though it were my last mooring.’

“‘Whew! whew!’ whistled the other–‘with pretty Polly for a chain cable.

But I don’t ask you to part company with each other. So let us make ready and start.’

“‘No,’ added Stanley; ‘the best play and the best actors in the world, would be to me to-night like a land-lubber sitting smiling and piping upon a flute on the sea-banks, while I was being dashed to pieces by the breakers under his feet.

“‘What are you drifting at, Bill?’ said Jenkins; ‘your upper works seem to have hoisted a moon-raker.’

“‘I am unhappy, Jack,’ said he, earnestly, ‘and the cause presses like lead upon my heart. It throbs like fire within my forehead. For more than twenty years I have been tossed about as a helmless vessel, without compa.s.s or reckoning. It is hard, Jack, that I can’t mention my mother’s name, but the blush upon my cheek must dry up the tear that falls for her memory. Three months ago, as you know, I came home, with the earnings of a two years’ voyage in my pocket, and I found—-O shipmate! when I expected to have flung my savings into my mother’s lap, I found her dying in a miserable garret, with scarce a blanket to cover her! She had been long ill; and the rich old rascal called Wates, (who came to this part of the country some years ago), seized all but the straw on which she lay, for his rent. I thought my heart had burst as I flung myself upon the ground by her side. A mist came over my eyes. I neither knew what I saw nor heard. I felt her cold arms clinging round my neck. She spoke–she told me _my father’s name_! Comrade! it was the first time I had heard it! The word father pierced my heart like a dagger, and, in my agony, I knew not what she said. I started, I entreated her to repeat it again! But my mother was silent!–she was dead!–the arms of a corpse were fastened round my neck! With the breath which uttered the name she had not spoken for more than twenty years, her spirit fled–and I–I cannot remember it.’

“‘Vast there, Bill!’ cried Jack, wiping a tear from his eyes; ‘that is tragedy enough without going to the play for it. But, for the sake of Mary Danvers, the prettiest girl on Tyneside (not even excepting my old woman), cheer up, my lad!’

“‘If that should cheer me,’ said he, ‘I believe it is the princ.i.p.al cause why I am sad to-day.’

“‘Why, then,’ said Jack, ‘don’t you take an example by me, and run your frigate to church at once? You will find a plain gold ring is a precious fast anchor.’

“‘But what,’ replied Stanley, ‘if the old commodore, her father, won’t allow me to take her in tow?’

“‘He won’t!’ cried Jenkins–that’s a goodun! Old dad Danvers won’t allow you to splice with her! What’s his reason? I’m sure he can’t say but you are as sober as the chief judge of the Admiralty.

“‘To-night,’ replied Stanley, in a tone of agitation, ‘he found her in my company, and called, or rather dragged her away: and, as they went, I heard him upbraid her bitterly, and ask if the meanness of her spirit would permit her to throw herself away upon—-upon’—-William became more agitated, the words he had to utter seemed to stick in his throat; and his friend Jenkins exclaimed–‘Upon a better man than ever he was in his life! But what did he say, Bill–_upon_ what was she going to throw herself away?’

“‘Upon a beggar’s nameless _b.a.s.t.a.r.d_! he said,’ groaned poor Stanley, striking his hand upon his brow.

“‘What d’ye say?’cried Jenkins, clenching his fist; ‘had the old fellow’s ribs not been removed off the first letter, this hand had shivered them! Flesh and blood, Stanley, how did ye endure it?’

“‘I started to my feet,’ said he; ‘my teeth grated together; but I heard her gentle voice reproving him for the word, and it fell upon my heart like the moon upon the sea, Jack, after a storm. My hand fell by my side. He is _her_ father, thought I; and, for the first time in his life, Will Stanley brooked an affront.’

“Just as he was speaking, a gentle tap came to the door, ‘Good night, Jack,’ added he; ‘I understand the signal, the old cruiser is off the coast, and now for the smuggling trade.’

“I may tell you that the reason why old Danvers was so averse to his daughter keeping company with Bill Stanley was, that there was a hypocritical middle-aged villain, called Squire Wates (the same that Bill spoke of as having sold off his mother, and left her to die upon straw), I hate the very name of the old rascal! Well, you see, this same Squire Wates that I am telling you of, came from abroad somewhere, and bought a vast deal of property about Shields. He was said to be as rich as an Exchange Jew–and perhaps he was. He had cast an eye upon Mary Danvers, and the grey-haired rascal sought, through the agency of his paltry yellow dross, to accomplish the destruction of the innocent and beautiful creature; and thinking that Will Stanley was an obstacle to the accomplishment of his purpose, he determined to have him removed.

He also persuaded old Danvers that he wished to make his daughter his wife. Conscience!–after half drowning such a h.o.a.ry-headed knave, I would have hung him up at a yard-arm, without judge or jury, and buried him in a dunghill without benefit of clergy. He employed a fellow of the name of Villars as a confederate in his base intentions–one who had been thrice a bankrupt, without being able to show a loss that he had sustained, or pay a shilling to his creditors. This creature he professed to set up in business–in something connected with the West India trade–and he prevailed on landlord Danvers to embark in the speculation, and to risk all that he had saved in the _Old Ship_ for five-and-twenty years. So that the firm–if such a disgraceful transaction might be called by that appellation–went by the designation of _Villars & Danvers_. The firm, however, was altogether an invention of Wates, to promote his designs. There was another whom they engaged in their scheme–a fellow who was a disgrace to the sea–the very sp.a.w.n of salt water–a Boatswain Rigby; and the frigate to which he belonged was cruising upon the coast for the protection of the coasters. But you will hear more about these worthies by-and-by.

“It was within a few hours of the time, when, as I told you before, Bill Stanley and Jack Jenkins were to sail upon a twelvemonth’s voyage. The vessel to which they belonged was lying out in the harbour below Tynemouth Castle, and sweethearts and wives were accompanying the crew to the beach, where a boat was waiting to take them aboard.

“Mary had ventured to accompany William part of the way towards the beach to bid him adieu; and when, through fear of her father finding them together, she would have returned, he held her hand more firmly within his, and said–‘Fear nothing, love; it is the last time we shall see each other for twelve months. Come down as far as the boat; and do not let it be said, when it pulls off, that Bill Stanley was the only soul in the ship’s crew, that had not a living creature on the sh.o.r.e to wave _good-by_ to–or one to drop a tear for his departure, more than if he were a dog. If I be alone and an outcast in the world, do not let me feel it now.’

“‘Willingly,’ she replied, ‘would I follow you, not only there, but to the ends of the earth. But my father will be on the beach, watching the boat; or, if he be not, the spies of another will be there, and my accompanying you would only make my persecution the greater during your absence.’

“‘What!’ exclaimed he, ‘have I then a rival for your affections, one that I know not of, and whose addresses are backed by your father’s influence? Who is he?–or what is his name? Tell me, Mary–I conjure you, by your plighted faith.’

“‘Give not the name of a rival,’ said she, ‘to a hypocritical wretch, whose heart I would not tread beneath my heel, for fear of pollution! A rival!–William, I would not insult the meanest reptile that feeds upon garbage, by placing it in compet.i.tion with a hypocrite so base and mean!

A rival!–rather would I breathe the vapours of a ploughed charnel-house for ever, than be blasted with his breath for a single hour! No–my heart is yours–it is wholly yours–fear not.’

“‘Mary,’ said he, solemnly, ‘if I am worthy of your love, I am not unworthy of your confidence. You would not, you could not, bestow such language on the most worthless, where personal indignity had not been offered, or intended you. Name him, I adjure–nay, I _command_ you,’ he added wildly; ‘it will yet be three hours till the vessel sail, and in that period I will avenge the indignity that has been offered to you.’

“‘Speak not of such a thing,’ said she; ‘whatever be his designs, against such a persecutor she is a weak woman who cannot defend herself.

Would you raise your hand against a worm, or draw a sword against a venomous fly? Come, think not of it–look not so; would a vessel of the line throw a broadside into a paltry c.o.c.k-boat? Punish him!–no, despise him!’

“‘It may be so,’ he rejoined; ‘but my heart is to yours as the eyelid is to the eyeball, and even a moth between them causes agony. Name him, that I may judge of his power to do evil, or the vessel which is this day to sail–sails without me.’

“‘Then, that your contempt may equal mine,’ added she, ‘think of the creature _Wates_! He whose name stands first on the list of _published_ charities–and who sends the newsman abroad to trumpet his piety, while villany lurks in his grey hairs.’

“‘What!’ he exclaimed wildly–_Wates_! the murderer of my mother!–who sent his minions to sell the very bed from beneath her, and left her to perish on the ground! Justice! where sleep thy thunderbolts! Mary, we shall return–I go not to sea to-day!’

“‘William,’ said she affectionately, ‘do you then fear to trust me? Did he carry honours in his right hand, and in his left the wealth of the world, and lay them both at my feet–I feel that within me that would spurn them from me, as I would an insect that crawled upon me to sting me. To you would I give my hand and beg for a subsistence, rather than share with him the throne of an empire. What then do you fear? In your own words, if I am unworthy of your confidence, I am unworthy of your love.’

“‘No, Mary!’ he cried, ‘it is not fear. Wrong not yourself, neither wrong my bosom, that is full to bursting, by harbouring such a thought.

When darkness issues from the sunbeams, I will doubt your affection; when a whirlwind sweeps across the sea, and the billows rise not at its voice, I will fear your truth–not till then. But I know that to a.s.sociate the name of the most virtuous woman with that of a villain, is to make the world suspect her. Ah, Mary! in the innocence of your own heart you suspect not the iniquity of which some are capable. Let the name of a libertine be attached to the character of a man, and especially of a rich man, till his crimes are heaped up like a world of sin upon the shoulders of their contemptible author, and the next sun that rises, in the eyes of the world melts away their enormity, if not their remembrance; but, if the mere shadow of such a villain’s breath pa.s.s over the character of a woman, its stains will remain fixed and immoveable, growing in blackness and gathering misery, until life and memory have made their last port. I will not speak of revenge, to distress you–but I shall not undertake this voyage. I will remain on sh.o.r.e, not to guard your innocence, but to protect your name from slander.’

“‘William,’ she answered, ‘ignorant of the world I may be; but I know that your remaining on sh.o.r.e would only give rise to the calumnies which you would wish to prevent. You would make yourself an object for the laughter and remarks of your shipmates; and would disoblige your owners, who, after this voyage, have promised you the command of a vessel. And for what would you do this, but through fear of a wretch on whom I could not waste a single thought, and on whom I regret that I have thrown away a single word.’

“At that moment Jack Jenkins, with his wife Betty, weeping like a mermaid under his arm, hove in sight, and the moment he beheld his comrade, he called out–‘Hollo, Bill! how did you and Polly manage to pa.s.s the old Commodore of _the Ship_; I saw him keeping a look-out abaft there.’ But his wife sobbed while he was speaking, and, as he approached his shipmate, he continued–‘Take aback in time, Bill, and don’t marry–I ask your pardon, Polly, and yours too, Betty, my love,’ kissing his wife’s cheeks; ‘I don’t exactly mean not to marry, either–but this parting company breaks up one’s heart, like an old fir-built craft that is not fit for fire-wood. I wish the lubber’s back had a round dozen that invented the word–_good-by_! It always sticks in my throat, like pushing a piece of old junk down it.’

“While he was speaking, a king’s cutter shot round a point of land, with a pack of lobsters abaft; and the black fellow, Boatswain Rigby, sat in her bow. She was within twenty yards of where they stood.

“‘Fly, William!–fly!’ said Mary, wildly; ‘it is you they seek–my heart tells me it is you–oh, fly!’

———-

Looking for another chapters? or another webnovel? Simple .. just use search menu, you can find it by title or by author.

Related Posts

WebNovel Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume VII Part 17

WebNovel Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume VII Part 17 – Hello, welcome to my web. My web provides reading experience in webnovel genres,…

WebNovel Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume V Part 10

WebNovel Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume V Part 10 – Hi, thanks for coming to my web. This place provides reading experience in…

WebNovel Wilson's Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume I Part 7

WebNovel Wilson’s Tales of the Borders and of Scotland Volume I Part 7 – Hi, welcome to my website. My web provides reading experience in webnovel genres,…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *