Chapter 5


In three weeks the Aurora, with her prize in tow, arrived at Malta. The wounded were sent to the hospital, and the gallant Russian captain recovered from his wounds about the same time as Mr. Hawkins, the chaplain.

Jack, who constantly called to see the chaplain, had a great deal to do to console him. He would shake his hands as he lay in his bed, exclaiming against himself. “Oh,” would he say, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. That I, a man of God, as they term me, who ought to have been down with the surgeons, whispering comfort to the desponding, should have gone on deck (but I could not help it), and have mixed in such a scene of slaughter. What will become of me?”

Jack attempted to console him by pointing out, that not only chaplains, but bishops, have been known to fight in armour from time immemorial. But Mr. Hawkins’s recovery was long doubtful, from the agitation of his mind. When he was able to walk, Jack introduced to him the Russian captain, who was also just out of his bed.

“I am most happy to embrace so gallant an officer,” said the Russian, who recognized his antagonist, throwing his arms round the chaplain, and giving him a kiss on both cheeks. “What is his rank?” continued he, addressing himself to Jack, who replied, very quietly, “That he was the ship’s padre.”

“The padre!” replied the captain, with surprise, as Hawkins turned away with confusion. “The padre—par exemple! Well, I always had a great respect for the church. Pray, sir,” said he, turning to Easy, “do your padres always head your boarders?”

“Always, sir,” replied Jack; “it’s a rule of the service—and the duty of a padre to show the men the way to heaven. It’s our ninety-ninth article of war.”

“You are a fighting nation,” replied the Russian, bowing to Hawkins, and continuing his walk, not exactly pleased that he had been floored by a parson.

Mr. Hawkins continued very disconsolate for some time; he then invalided, and applied himself to his duties on shore, where he would not be exposed to such temptations from his former habits.

As the Aurora, when she was last at Malta, had nearly exhausted the dockyard for her repairs, she was even longer fitting out this time, during which Captain Wilson’s despatches had been received by the admiral, and had been acknowledged by a brig sent to Malta. The admiral, in reply, after complimenting him upon his gallantry and success, desired that, as soon as he was ready, he should proceed to Palermo with communications of importance to the authorities, and having remained there for an answer, was again to return to Malta to pick up such of his men as might be fit to leave the hospital, and then join the Toulon fleet. This intelligence was soon known to our hero, who was in ecstasies at the idea of again seeing Agnes and her brothers. Once more the Aurora sailed away from the high-crowned rocks of Valette, and with a fine breeze dashed through the deep blue waves.

But towards the evening the breeze increased, and they were under double-reefed topsails. On the second day they made the coast of Sicily, not far from where Easy and Gascoigne had been driven on shore; the weather was then more moderate, and the sea had, to a great degree, subsided. They therefore stood in close to the coast, as they had not a leading wind to Palermo. As they stood in, the glasses, as usual, were directed to land; observing the villas with which the hills and valleys were studded, with their white fronts embowered in orange groves.

“What is that, Gascoigne,” said Easy, “under that precipice?—it looks like a vessel.”

Gascoigne turned his glass in the direction—“Yes, it is a vessel on the rocks: by her prow she looks like a galley.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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