Chapter 2


As Captain Wilson truly said, he was too busy, even to hear Jack’s story that night, for they were anxious to have both vessels ready to make sail as soon as a breeze should spring up, for the Spaniards had vessels of war at Carthagena, which was not ten miles off, and had known the result of the action: it was therefore necessary to change their position as soon as possible. Mr. Sawbridge was on board the prize, which was a corvette mounting two guns more than the Harpy, and called the Cacafuogo.

She had escaped from Cadiz, run through the straits in the night, and was three miles from Carthagena when she was captured, which she certainly never would have been, but for Jack’s fortunately blundering against the cape with his armed vessel, so that Captain Wilson and Mr. Sawbridge (both of whom were promoted, the first to the rank of post-captain, the second to that of commander) may be said to be indebted to Jack for their good fortune. The Harpy had lost nineteen men, killed and wounded, and the Spanish corvette forty-seven. Altogether, it was a very creditable affair.

At two o’clock in the morning, the vessels were ready, everything had been done that could be done in so short a time, and they stood under easy sail during the night, for Gibraltar, the Nostra Sigñora del Carmen, under the charge of Jolliffe, keeping company. Jolliffe had the advantage over his ship-mates, of first hearing Jack’s adventures, with which he was much astonished as well as amused—even Captain Wilson was not more happy to see Jack than was the worthy master’s mate. About nine o’clock the Harpy hove to, and sent a boat on board for our hero and the men who had been so long with him in the prize, and then hoisted out the pinnace to fetch on board the dollars, which were of more importance. Jack, as he bade adieu to Jolliffe, took out of his pocket, and presented him with the articles of war, which, as they had been so useful to him, he thought Jolliffe could not do without, and then went down the side; the men were already in the boat, casting imploring looks upon Jack, to raise feelings of compassion, and Mesty took his seat by our hero in a very sulky humour, probably because he did not like the idea of having again “to boil de kettle for de young gentlemen.” Even Jack felt a little melancholy at resigning his command, and he looked back at the green petticoat, which blew out gracefully from the mast, for Jolliffe had determined that he would not haul down the colours under which Jack had fought so gallant an action.

Jack’s narration, as imagined, occupied a large part of the forenoon; and, although Jack did not attempt to deny that he had seen the recall signal of Mr. Sawbridge, yet, as his account went, the captain became so interested, that at the end of it he quite forgot to point out to Jack the impropriety of not obeying orders. He gave Jack great credit for his conduct, and was also much pleased with that of Mesty. Jack took the opportunity of stating Mesty’s aversion to his present employment, and his recommendation was graciously received. Jack also succeeded in obtaining the pardon of the men, in consideration of their subsequent good behaviour; but notwithstanding this promise on the part of Captain Wilson, they were ordered to be put in irons for the present. However, Jack told Mesty, and Mesty told the men, that they would be released with a reprimand when they arrived at Gibraltar, so all that the men cared for was a fair wind.

Captain Wilson informed Jack that after his joining the admiral he had been sent to Malta with the prizes, and that, supposing the cutter to have been sunk, he had written to his father, acquainting him with his son’s death, at which our hero was much grieved, for he knew what sorrow it would occasion, particularly to his poor mother. “But,” thought Jack, “if she is unhappy for three months, she will be overjoyed for three more when she hears that I am alive, so it will be all square at the end of the six; and as soon as I arrive at Gibraltar I will write, and, as the wind is fair, that will be to-morrow or next day.”

After a long conversation Jack was graciously dismissed, Captain Wilson being satisfied from what he had heard, that Jack would turn out a very good officer, and had already forgotten all about equality and the rights of man; but there Captain Wilson was mistaken—tares sown in infancy are not so soon rooted out.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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