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Wilson's Border Tales
The Smuggler
Chapter 2

It would be uninteresting to the reader to describe the journey of Harry and Ned Thomson to Blyth; but before they arrived at Felton, Harry had overtaken Ned, and they rode on together.

On arriving at Blyth, they stopped at the door of an individual who was to receive forty kilderkins of Hollands from the lugger, and a quantity of tobacco. It is well known to be the first duty of an equestrian traveller to look after his horse, and to see that it is fed; but, in this instance, Harry forgot the established rule—the horses were given in charge of a girl to take them to a stable, to see them fed, or otherwise, and Harry hastened into the house, and breathlessly inquired of its owner—"I hope to heaven, sir, ye have heard nothing of the Swallow?"

[The lugger was called "The Swallow?" from the carpenter in Cuxhaven, who built her, having warranted that she "would fly through the water."]

"Why, nothing," replied Harry’s brother smuggler; "but we shall be on the look-out for her to-night."

"So far well," said Harry; "but I hope you have no fear of any King’s lobsters being upon the coast, or rats ashore?"

"I don’t think we have anything to fear from the cutters," said the other; "but I won’t answer for the spies on the shore; there are folk wi’ us here, as weel as wi’ ye, that canna see their neighbours thrive and haud their tongues; and I think some o’ them hae been gaun ower often about wi’ the spy-glass this day or two."

"Then," said Harry, "the lugger doesna break bulk here, nor at Embleton outher—that’s flat. Get ye a boat ready, neighbour, and we maun off and meet her, or ye may drink sma’ yill to your venture and mine."

"It is growing too stormy for a boat to venture out," answered the other.

"Smash, man!" rejoined Harry; "wad you sit here on your hunkers, while your captial is in danger o’ being robbed frae ye as simply as ye would snuff out a candle, and a’ to escape a night’s doukin’! Get up man—get a boat—we maun to sea—we maun meet the lugger, or you and I are done men—clean ruined a’thegither. I hae risked the better part o’ my Fanny’s fortune upon this venture, and, Heaven! I’ll suffer death ten thousandfold afore I see her brought to poverty; sae get a boat—get it—and if ye daurna gang out, and if nane o’ your folk daur gang, Ned and me here will gang our two sel’s."

"Surely ye wad be mad, Harry, to attempt such a thing in an open boat to-night," said the Blyth merchant.

"Mad or no mad," answered Harry, "I hae said it, and I am determined. There is nae danger yet wi’ a man that knaws how to manage a boat. If ye gang pullin’ through thick and thin, through main strength, and for bare life, as many o’ the folk upon our coast dee, then there is danger—but there is nae use for the like o’ that. It isna enough to manage an oar; you must knaw how to humour the sea, and to manage a wave. Dinna think I’ve been at sea mair than thirty years without knawing something about the matter. But I tell you what it is, friend—ye knaw what the Bible says—‘The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong;’ now, the way to face breakers, or a storm at sea, is not to pull through desperation, as if your life depended on the pulling; but when you see a wave coming, ye must back-water and back-water, and not pull again until ye see an opportunity of gauin’ forward. It is the trusting to mere pulling, sir, that makes our lifeboats useless. The rowers in a life-boat should study the sea as well as their oars. They should consider that they save life by watching the wave that breaks over the vessel, as well as by straining every nerve to reach her. Now, this is a stormy night, nae doubt, but we maun just consider ourselves gaun off to the lugger in the situation o’ folk gaun off in a life-boat. We maun work cannily aud warily, and I’ll take the management o’ the boat mysel’."

"If ye dow that, master," said Ned Thomson, "then I gang wi’ ye to a dead certainty."

"Well, Harry," replied the merchant, "if it maun be sae, it just maun be sae; but I think it a rash and a dangerous undertaking. I wad sooner risk a’ that I have on board."

"Why, man, I really wonder to hear ye," said Harry; "folk wad say that ye had been swaddled in lamb’s wool a’ your life, and nursed on your mother’s knee—get a boat, and let us off to the lugger, and nae mair about it."

His orders were obeyed—and about an hour after sunset, himself, with Ned Thomson, the merchant, and four others, put off to sea. They had indeed embarked upon a perilous voyage—before they were a mile from the shore, the wind blew a perfect hurricane, and the waves chased each other in circles like monsters at play. Still Harry guided the boat with unerring skill. He ordered them to draw back from the bursting wave--they rose over it— he rendered it subservient to his purpose. Within two hours he descried the lights of the lugger. He knew them, for he had given directions for their use, and similar lights were hoisted from the coble which he steered.

"All’s well!" said Harry, and, in his momentary joy, he forgot the tempestuous sea in which they laboured. They reached the lugger—they gained the deck.

"Put back, friend—put back," was the first salutation of Harry to the skipper; "the camp is blown, and there are sharks along shore."

"The devil!" replied the captain, who was an Englishman; "and what shall we do?"

"Back, back," answered Harry, "that is all in the meantime."

But the storm now raged with more fierceness—it was impossible for the boat to return to the shore, and Harry and his comrades were compelled to put to sea with the lugger. Even she became in danger, and it required the exertions of all hands to manage her.

The storm continued until near daybreak, and the vessel had plied many miles from the shore; but as day began to dawn, and the storm abated, an enemy that they feared more appeared within a quarter of a mile from them, in the shape of a cutter-brig. A gun was fired from the latter as a signal for the lugger to lie to. Consternation seized the crew, and they hurried to and fro upon the deck in confusion.

"Clear the decks!" cried the skipper; "they shan’t get all without paying for it. Look to the guns, my hearties."

"Avast! Master Skipper," said Harry; "though my property be in danger, I see no cause why I should put my neck in danger too. It will be time enough to fight when we canna better dow; and if we can keep them in play a’ day there will be sma’ danger in wur gi’en them the slip at night."

"As you like, Mr. Teasdale," said the skipper; "all’s one to me. Helm about, my lad," added he, addressing the steersman, and away went the lugger as an arrow, scudding before the wind.

The cutter made all sail, and gave chase, firing shot after shot. She was considered one of the fastest vessels in the service; and though, on the part of Harry and his friends, every nerve was strained every sail hoisted, and every manoeuvre used, they could not keep the lugger out of harm’s way. Every half-hour he looked at his watch, and wished for night, and his friend, the skipper, followed his example. There was a hot chase for several hours; and though tubs of brandy were thrown overboard by the dozen, still the whizzing bullets from the cutter passed over the heads of the smugglers. It ought to be mentioned, also, that the rigging of the lugger had early sustained damage, and her speed was checked. About sunset a shot injured her rudder, and she became, for a time, as Harry described her, "as helpless as a child." The cutter instantly bore down upon her.

"Now for it, my lads," cried the skipper—"there is nothing for it but fighting now—I suppose that is what you mean, Master Teasdale?"

Harry nodded his head, and quietly drew his pistols from the breast-pocket of his greatcoat, and then added—

"Now lads, this is a bad job, but we must try to make the best on’t, and, as we hae gone thus far," (and he discharged a pistol at the cutter as he spoke) "ye knaw it’s o’ nae use to think o’ yielding—it is better to be shot than hanged." In a few minutes the firing of the cutter was returned by the lugger, from two large guns and a number of small arms. Harry, in the midst of the smoke and flame of the action, and the havoc of the bullets, was as cool and collected as if smoking his pipe upon the beach at Embleton.

"See to get the helm repaired, lad, as fast as ye can," said he to the carpenter, while in the act of reloading his pistols; "let us fight away, but mind ye your awn wark."

Harry’s was the philosophy of courage, mingled with the calculations of worldly wisdom.

The firing had been kept up on both sides for the space of half an hour, and the decks of both were stained with the blood of the wounded, when a party from the brig, headed by her first mate, succeeded in boarding the lugger. Harry seized a cutlass, which lay unsheathed by the side of the companion, and was the first who rushed forward to repel them.

"Out o’ my ship, ye thieves!" cried he, while, with his long arm, he brandished the deadly weapon, and, for a moment, forgot his habitual discretion. Others of the crew instantly sprang to the assistance of Harry, and, after a short, but desperate encounter, the invaders were driven from the deck, leaving their chief mate, insensible from wounds, behind them.

The rudder being repaired, so as to render her manageable, the lugger kept up a sort of retreating fight, until night set in, when, as Harry said, "she gave the cutter the slip like a knotless thread."

But now a disagreeable question arose amongst them, and that was, what they should do with the wounded officer, who had been left as a prize in their hands—though a prize that they would much rather have been without. Some wished that he might die of his wounds, and so they would get rid of him, for they were puzzled how to dispose of him in such a way as not to lead to their detection, and place their lives in jeopardy. Harry was on his knees by the side of the officer, washing his wounds with Riga balsam, of which they had a store on board, and binding them up, when one desperate fellow cut short the perplexity and discussion of the crew, by proposing to fling their prize overboard.

On hearing the brutal proposal, Harry sprang to his feet, and hurling out his long bony arm, he exclaimed—"Ye savage!" and, dashing his fist in the face of the ruffian, felled him to the deck.

The man (if we may call one who could entertain so inhuman an idea by the name of man) rose, bleeding, growling, and muttering threats of revenge.

"Ye’ll blab will ye?" said Harry, eyeing him fiercely—"threaten to dow it again, and there’s the portion that’s waiting for yur neck!"—and, as he spoke, he pointed with his finger to the cross-tree of the lugger, and added, "and ye knaw that the same reward awaits ye if ye set yur weel faur’d face ashore!—Out o’ my sight, ye scape-the-gallows."

For three days and nights, after her encounter with the brig, the lugger kept out to sea; and, on the fourth night, which was thick, dark, and starless, Harry resolved to risk all; and, desiring the skipper to stand for the shore, all but run her aground on Embleton beach. No light was hoisted, no signal given. Harry held up his finger, and every soul in the lugger was mute as death. A boat was lowered in silence, and four of the crew being placed under the command of Ned Thomson, pulled ashore. The boat flew quickly, but the oars seemed only to kiss the water, and no sound, audible at the distance of five yards, proceeded from their stroke.

"Now, pull back quietly, mates," said Ned, "and I’ll be aboard wi’ some o’ wur awn folks in a twinkling."

It was between one and two in the morning, and there was no outward sign amongst the fishermen of Embleton that they were on the alert for the arrival of a smuggler. The party who gave information to the cutter having missed Harry for a few days, justly imagined that he had obtained notice of what they had done; and also believed that he had ordered the cargo to be delivered on some other part of the coast, and they, therefore, were off their guard. Ned, therefore, proceeded to the village; and at the houses of certain friends, merely gave three distinct and peculiar taps with his finger upon their shutterless windows, from none of which, if I may use the expression, proceeded even the shadow of light; but no sooner was the last tap given upon each, than it was responded to by a low cough from within. No words passed; and at one window only was Ned detained for a space exceeding ten seconds, and that was at the house of his master, Harry Teasdale. Fanny had slept but little since her father left; when she sought rest for an hour, it was during the day, and she now sat anxiously watching every sound. On hearing the understood signal, she sprang to the door. "Edward!" she whispered eagerly, "is it you?—where is my father?—what has detained him?"

"Don’t be asking questions, now, Miss Fanny—sure it is very foolish," replied Ned, in the same tone; "Master will be here by and by; but ye knaw we have bonny wark to dew afore daylight yet. Gude night, hinny."

So saying, Ned stole softly along the village; and, within half an hour, half a dozen boats were along-side the lugger; and, an hour before daybreak, every tub and every bale on board was safely landed and stowed away.

Yet, after she was a clean ship, there was one awkward business that still remained to be settled, and that was how they were to dispose of the wounded officer of the cutterbrig. A consultation was held—many opinions were given.

"At ony rate we must act like Christians," said Harry.

Some proposed that he should be taken over to Holland and landed there; but this the skipper positively refused to do, swearing that the sooner he could get rid of such a customer the better.

"Why, I canna tell," said Ned Thomson; "but what dow ye say, if we just take him ashore, and lay him at. the door o’ the awd rascal that gied information on us?"

"Capital!" cried two or three of the conclave; "that’s just the ticket, Ned!"

"Nonsense!" interrupted Harry, "it’s nae such thing. Man, Ned, I wonder that sic a clever chap as ye aye talks like a fool. Why ye might as weel go and ask them to take you and me off to Morpeth before dinner time, as to lay him at their door this morning."

"Well, Master Teasdale," said the skipper, who was becoming impatient, "what would you have us do with him?"

"Why, I see there’s naething for it," answered Harry, "but I maun take the burden o’ him upon my awn shouthers. Get the boat ready." So saying, and while it was yet dark, he entered the cabin where the wounded officer lay, but who was now conscious of his situation.

"I say, my canny lad," said Harry, approaching his bedside, and addressing him, "ye maun allow me to tie a big handkercher owre your een for a quarter of an hour or sae. Ye needna be feared, for there’s naething shall happen ye—but only, in looking after yur good, I mauna lose sight o’ my awn. You shall be ta’en ashore as gently as we can."

The wounded man was too feeble to offer any resistance, and Harry, binding up his eyes, wrapt the clothes on the bed around him, and carried him in his arms upon deck. In the same manner, he placed him in the boat, supporting him with his arm, and on reaching the shore, he bore him on his shoulders to his house.

"Now, sir," said he, as he set him down from his shoulders on an arm-chair, ye needna be under the smallest apprehension, for every attention shall be paid ye here; and, as soon as ye are better, ye shall be at liberty to return, safe and sound, to your friends, your ship, or wherever ye like." Harry then turned to his daughter, and continued— "Now, my bird, come awa in by wi’ me, and I will let ye knaw what ye have to dow."

Fanny wondered at the unusual burden which her father had brought upon his shoulders into the house; and at his request she anxiously accompanied him into her own apartment. When they had entered, and he had shut the door bebind them, he took her hand affectionately, and, addressing her in a sort of whisper, said—

"Now, Fanny, love, ye maun be very cautious—as I knaw ye will be--and mind what I am telling ye to dow." He then made her acquainted with the rank of their inmate, and the manner in which he had fallen into their hands, and added—"Now, darling, ye see ye maun be very circumspect, and keep his being here a secret frae everybody; he maun remain ignorant o’ his awn situation, nowther knawing where he is, nor in whose hands he is; for if it were found out, it wad be as much as your father’s life is worth. Now, he maun stop in this room, as it looks into the garden, and he can see naething frae it, nor will onybody be able to see him. Ye maun sleep wi’ the lass in the kitchen, and yur ‘sampler,’ and every book, or onything that has a name ont, maun be taken out o’ the room. It winna dow for onybody but you and me ever to see him, or to wait on him, and, when we dow, he mauna be allowed to see either yur face or mine; but I will put my awd mask on, that I used to wear at night sometimes when there was onything particular to dow, and I thought there wad be danger in the way; and," continued he, as the doting parent rose in his bosom, "it wadna be chancy for him to see my Fanny’s face at ony rate; and when ye dow see him, ye maun have your features so concealed, that, if he meet you again, he wadna knaw ye. Now, hinny, ye’ll attend to a’ that I’ve said—for ye remember your father’s life depends on it—and we maun be as kind to the lad as we can, and try to bring him about as soon as possible, to get clear on him."

Fanny promised to obey her father’s injunctions; but fears for his safety, and the danger in which he was placed, banished every other thought. The books, the "sampler," everything that could lead the stranger to a knowledge of the name of his keepers, or of the place where he was, was taken out of the room.

Harry, muffling up his face, returned to the apartment where the wounded man was, and, supporting him on his arm, he led him to that which he was to occupy. He then took the bandage from his eyes, and placing him on the bed, again desired him to keep himself easy, and wished him "good morning," for day was now beginning to dawn.

The name of our smuggler’s wounded prisoner was Augustus Hartley. He was about twenty-four years of age, and the son of a gentleman of considerable property in Devonshire; and, at the period we speak of, he was in expectation of being removed from his situation as second officer of the brig, and promoted to the command of a revenue cutter. The wounds which he had received on the deck of the lugger were severe, and had reduced him to a state of extreme feebleness; but they were not dangerous. He knew not where he was, and he marvelled at the treatment he experienced; for it was kind, yea, even roughly courteous, and unlike what he might have expected from the hands of such men as those into whose power he had fallen. Anxiety banished sleep; and when the risen sun had lighted up the chamber where he lay, he stretched forth his hand, and drew aside the curtains, to ascertain whether the appearance of the apartment would in any way reveal the mystery which surrounded his situation. But it rather increased it. In the window were the flowers—around the walls the curious needle-work; the furniture was neatly arranged—there was an elegance over all; and, to increase his wonder, in a corner by the window, was a small harp, and a few pages of music lay upon a table near him.

"Surely," thought Augustus, "this cannot be the habitation of a half uncivilized smuggler; and yet the man who brought me here seemed such."

He drew back his head upon his pillow, to seek the explanation in conjectures which he could not otherwise obtain; and while he lay conjuring up strange fancies, Harry, with the mask upon his face, his hair tied up and concealed, and his body wrapt in a greatcoat, entered the room.

"Well, how art thou now, lad?" said the smuggler, approaching the bed; "dost think ye can take breakfast yet?"

Augustus thanked him, but the appearance of Harry in his strange disguise, increased his curiosity and anxiety.

Harry withdrew, and again returned with the breakfast, and though an awkward waiter, he was an attentive one. Few words passed between them, for the questions which Augustus felt desirous to ask, were checked by the smuggler saying—"Now, my canny lad, while ye are here, I maun lay an embargo on your asking ony questions, either at me or onybody else. Ye shall be gude taken care on—if ye want onything, just tak that bit stick at your bed-side, and gi’e a rap on the floor, and I’ll come to ye. Ye shall want for naething; and, as soon as ye are better, ye shalt be at liberty to gang where ye like. But I maun caution ye again, that ye are to ask nae questions."

Augustus again thanked him, and was silent.

At the end of eight days, he was able to rise from his bed, and to sit up for a few hours. Harry now said to him--

"As thou wilt be dull, belike thou wilt have nae objections to a little music to cheer thee."

Thus saying, he left the room, and, in a few minutes, returned with Fanny. He was disguised as before, and her features were concealed by several folds of black crape, which covered her head and face, after the fashion of a nun. She curtsied with a modest grace to the stranger as she entered.

"That cannot be the daughter of a rude and ignorant smuggler," thought Augustus; "and how should such a creature be connected with them?" He noted the elegance of her form, and his imagination again begun to dream. The mystery of his situation deepened around him, and he gazed anxiously on the thick and folded veil that concealed her features.

"Wilt thou amuse the poor gentleman with a song, love,’ said Harry, "for I fear he has but a dull time on’t?"

Fanny took the harp which stood in the corner—she touched the trembling chords—she commenced a Scottish melody; and, as Augustus listened to the music of her clear and silvery voice, blending with the tones of the instrument, it

"Came o’er the ear like the sweet south
Breathing upon a bank of violets,
Stealing and giving odour."

It seemed the sweetest strain to which he had ever listened; and, romance and mystery lent it their magic. His eyes kindled at the sounds; and when Harry saw the change that was produced in him he was well pleased to observe it, and he was proud also of his daughter’s performance, and in the simplicity and fulness of his heart, he said—

"Thou mayst amuse the gentleman with thy music every day, child, or thou mayest read to him, to make him as comfortable as we can; only he must ask thee no questions, and thou must answer him none. But I can trust to thee."

From that moment Augustus no longer wearied for the days of his captivity to pass away; and he retired to rest, or rather to dream of the veiled songstress, and to conjure up a thousand faces of youth and beauty which might be like her face—for he doubted not but her countenance was lovely as her form was handsome; and he pictured dark eyes where the soul beamed, and the raven hair waved as the snowy temples, with the soft blue eyes where affection smiled, and the flaxen tresses were parted on the brow; but he knew not which might be like hers on whom his imagination dwelt.

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