Snarley-yow, or The Dog Fiend, by Captain Marryat.
"Snarley-yow", or "The Dog Fiend" was published in 1837, the eleventh book to flow from Marryat's pen.
You could say that this book is a chronicle of the doings of various hopeless people, who are constantly being unkind to one another, and in particular, except for his owner, to the rather horrible dog. But no matter what is put in hand to do the dog in, he always somehow seems to survive, and to re-appear just as unattractive and nasty as ever.
That might be enough for the story, but in addition it is set in a period of British history when the King was of Dutch origin, and so many of his courtiers, and officials in general, also hailed from the Netherlands. This meant that the naval vessel at the centre of the story was travelling to and from the Netherlands a lot of the time, which gave scope for various activities on the side, as it were.
Created as an eBook in 1998 by Nick Hodson, and reformatted in 2005.
SNARLEY-YOW, OR THE DOG FIEND, BY CAPTAIN FREDERICK MARRYAT.
INTRODUCTION OF DIVERS PARTIES AND A RED-HERRING.
It was in the month of January, 1699, that a one-masted vessel, with black sides, was running along the coast near Beachy Head, at the rate of about five miles per hour. The wind was from the northward and blew keenly, the vessel was under easy sail, and the water was smooth. It was now broad daylight, and the sun rose clear of clouds and vapour; but he threw out light without heat. The upper parts of the spars, the hammock rails, and the small iron guns which were mounted on the vessel's decks, were covered with a white frost. The man at the helm stood muffled up in a thick pea-jacket and mittens, which made his hands appear as large as his feet. His nose was a pug of an intense bluish red, one tint arising from the present cold, and the other from the preventive checks which he had been so long accustomed to take to drive out such an unpleasant intruder. His grizzled hair waved its locks gently to the wind, and his face was distorted with an immoderate quid of tobacco which protruded his right cheek. This personage was second officer and steersman on board of the vessel, and his name was Obadiah Coble. He had been baptised Obadiah about sixty years before; that is to say, if he had been baptised at all. He stood so motionless at the helm, that you might have imagined him to have been frozen there as he stood, were it not that his eyes occasionally wandered from the compass on the binnacle to the bows of the vessel, and that the breath from his mouth, when it was thrown out into the clear frosty air, formed a smoke like to that from the spout of a half-boiling tea-kettle.
The crew belonging to the cutter, for she was a vessel in the service of his Majesty, King William the Third, at this time employed in protecting his Majesty's revenue against the importation of alamodes and lutestrings, were all down below at their breakfasts, with the exception of the steersman and lieutenant-commandant, who now walked the quarter-deck, if so small an extent of plank could be dignified with such a name. He was a Mr Cornelius Vanslyperken, a tall meagre-looking personage, with very narrow shoulders and very small head. Perfectly straight up and down, protruding in no part, he reminded you of some tall parish pump, with a great knob at its top. His face was gaunt, cheeks hollow, nose and chin showing an affection for each other, and evidently lamenting the gulf between them which prevented their meeting. Both appear to have fretted themselves to the utmost degree of tenuity from disappointment in love: as for the nose it had a pearly round tear hanging at its tip, as if it wept. The dress of Mr Vanslyperken was hidden in a great coat, which was very long, and buttoned straight down. This great coat had two pockets on each side, into which its owner's hands were deeply inserted, and so close did his arms lie to his sides, that they appeared nothing more than as would battens nailed to a topsail yard. The only deviation from the perpendicular was from the insertion of a speaking-trumpet under his left arm, at right angles with his body. It had evidently seen much service, was battered, and the black Japan worn off in most parts of it. As we have said before, Mr Vanslyperken walked his quarter-deck. He was in a brown study, yet looked blue. Six strides brought him to the taffrail of the vessel, six more to the bows, such was the length of his tether—and he turned and turned again.
But there was another personage on the deck, a personage of no small importance, as he was all in all to Mr Vanslyperken; and Mr Vanslyperken was all in all to him; moreover, we may say, that he is the hero of the TAIL. This was one of the ugliest and most ill-conditioned curs which had ever been produced: ugly in colour; for he was of a dirty yellow, like the paint served out to decorate our men-of-war by his Majesty's dockyards;—ugly in face; for he had one wall-eye, and was so far under-jawed as to prove that a bull-dog had had something to do with his creation;—ugly in shape; for although larger than a pointer, and strongly built, he was coarse and shambling in his make, with his fore legs bowed out. His ears and tail had never been docked which was a pity as the more you curtailed his proportions the better looking the cur would have been. But his ears, although not cut, were torn to ribbons by the various encounters with dogs on shore, arising from the acidity of his temper. His tail had lost its hair from an inveterate mange, and reminded you of the same appendage to a rat. Many parts of his body were bared from the same disease. He carried his head and tail low, and had a villainous sour look. To the eye of a casual observer, there was not one redeeming quality that would warrant his keep; to those who knew him well, there were a thousand reasons why he should be hanged. He followed his master with the greatest precision and exactitude, walking aft as he walked aft, and walking forward with the same regular motion, turning when his master turned, and, moreover, turning in the same direction; and, like his master, he appeared to be not a little nipped with the cold, and, as well as he, in a state of profound meditation. The name of this uncouth animal was very appropriate to his appearance, and to his temper. It was Snarleyyow.
At last, Mr Vanslyperken gave vent to his pent-up feelings. "I can't, I won't stand this any longer," muttered the lieutenant, as he took his six strides forward. At this first sound of his master's voice the dog pricked up the remnants of his ears, and they both turned aft. "She has been now fooling me for six years;" and as he concluded this sentence, Mr Vanslyperken and Snarleyyow had reached the taffrail, and the dog raised his tail to the half cock.
They turned, and Mr Vanslyperken paused a moment or two, and compressed his thin lips; the dog did the same. "I will have an answer, by all that's blue!" was the ejaculation of the next six strides. The lieutenant stopped again, and the dog looked up in his master's face; but it appeared as if the current of his master's thoughts was changed, for the current of keen air reminded Mr Vanslyperken that he had not yet had his breakfast.
The lieutenant leant over the hatchway, took his battered speaking-trumpet from under his arm, and putting it to his mouth, the deck reverberated with, "Pass the word for Smallbones forward." The dog put himself in a baying attitude, with his fore feet on the coamings of the hatchway, and enforced his master's orders with a deep-toned and measured bow, wow, wow.
Smallbones soon made his appearance, rising from the hatchway like a ghost; a thin, shambling personage, apparently about twenty years old; a pale, cadaverous face, high cheekbones, goggle eyes, with lank hair very thinly sown upon a head which, like bad soil, would return but a scanty harvest. He looked like Famine's eldest son just arriving to years of discretion. His long lanky legs were pulled so far through his trousers, that his bare feet, and half way up to his knees, were exposed to the chilling blast. The sleeves of his jacket were so short, that four inches of bone above his wrist were bared to view; hat he had none; his ears were very large, and the rims of them red with cold, and his neck was so immeasurably long and thin, that his head appeared to topple for want of support. When he had come on deck, he stood with one hand raised to his forehead, touching his hair instead of his hat, and the other occupied with a half-roasted red-herring. "Yes, sir," said Smallbones, standing before his master.
"Be quick!" commenced the lieutenant; but here his attention was directed to the red-herring by Snarleyyow, who raised his head and snuffed at its fumes. Among other disqualifications of the animal, be it observed that he had no nose except for a red-herring, or a post by the way-side. Mr Vanslyperken discontinued his orders, took his hand out of his great-coat pocket, wiped the drop from off his nose, and then roared out, "How dare you appear on the quarter-deck of a king's ship, sir, with a red-herring in your fist?"
"If you please, sir," replied Smallbones, "if I were to come for to go to leave it in the galley I shouldn't find it when I went back."
"What do I care for that, sir? It's contrary to all the rules and regulations of the service. Now, sir, hear me—"
"O Lord, sir! let me off this time, it's only a soldier," replied Smallbones, deprecatingly; but Snarleyyow's appetite had been very much sharpened by his morning's walk; it rose with the smell of the herring, so he rose on his hind legs, snapped the herring out of Smallbones' hand, bolted forward by the lee gangway, and would soon have bolted the herring, had not Smallbones bolted after him and overtaken him just as he had laid it down on the deck preparatory to commencing his meal. A fight ensued: Smallbones received a severe bite in the leg, which induced him to seize a handspike, and make a blow with it at the dog's head, which, if it had been well aimed, would have probably put an end to all further pilfering. As it was, the handspike descended upon one of the dog's fore toes, and Snarleyyow retreated, yelling, to the other side of the forecastle, and as soon as he was out of reach, like all curs, bayed in defiance.
Smallbones picked up the herring, pulled up his trousers to examine the bite, poured down an anathema upon the dog, which was, "May you be starved, as I am, you beast!" and then turned round to go aft, when he struck against the spare form of Mr Vanslyperken, who, with his hands in his pocket and his trumpet under his arm, looked unutterably savage.
"How dare you beat my dog, you villain?" said the lieutenant at last, choking with passion.
"He's a-bitten my leg through and through, sir," replied Smallbones, with a face of alarm.
"Well, sir, why have you such thin legs, then?"
"'Cause I gets nothing to fill 'em up with."
"Have you not a herring there, you herring-gutted scoundrel? which, in defiance of all the rules of the service, you have brought on his Majesty's quarter-deck, you greedy rascal, and for which I intend—"
"It ar'n't my herring, sir, it be yours, for your breakfast; the only one that is left out of the half-dozen."
This last remark appeared somewhat to pacify Mr Vanslyperken.
"Go down below, sir," said he, after a pause "and let me know when my breakfast is ready."
Smallbones obeyed immediately, too glad to escape so easily.
"Snarleyyow," said his master, looking at the dog, who remained on the other side of the forecastle; "O Snarleyyow, for shame! Come here, sir. Come here, sir, directly."
But Snarleyyow, who was very sulky at the loss of his anticipated breakfast, was contumacious, and would not come. He stood at the other side of the forecastle, while his master apostrophised him, looking him in the face. Then, after a pause of indecision, he gave a howling sort of bark, trotted away to the main hatchway, and disappeared below. Mr Vanslyperken returned to the quarter-deck, and turned, and turned as before.
SHOWING WHAT BECAME OF THE RED-HERRING.
Smallbones soon made his re-appearance, informing Mr Vanslyperken that his breakfast was ready for him, and Mr Vanslyperken, feeling himself quite ready for his breakfast, went down below. A minute after he had disappeared another man came up to relieve the one at the wheel, who, as soon as he had surrendered up the spokes, commenced warming himself after the most approved method, by flapping his arms round his body.
"The skipper's out o' sorts again this morning," said Obadiah after a time. "I heard him muttering about the woman at the Lust Haus."
"Then, by Got, we will have de breeze," replied Jansen, who was a Dutch seaman of huge proportions, rendered still more preposterous by the multiplicity of his nether clothing.
"Yes, as sure as Mother Carey's chickens raise the gale, so does the name of the Frau Vandersloosh. I'll be down and get my breakfast, there may be keel-hauling before noon."
"Mein Got—dat is de tyfel."
"Keep her nor-east, Jansen, and keep a sharp look out for the boats."
"Got for dam—how must I steer the chip and look for de boats at de same time? not possible."
"That's no consarn o' mine. Those are the orders, and I passes them— you must get over the unpossibility how you can." So saying, Obadiah Coble walked below.
We must do the same, and introduce the reader to the cabin of Lieutenant Vanslyperken, which was not very splendid in its furniture. One small table, one chair, a mattress in a standing bed-place, with curtains made of bunting, an open cupboard, containing three plates, one tea-cup and saucer, two drinking glasses, and two knives. More was not required, as Mr Vanslyperken never indulged in company. There was another cupboard, but it was carefully locked. On the table before the lieutenant was a white wash-hand basin, nearly half full of burgoo, a composition of boiled oatmeal and water, very wholesome, and very hot. It was the allowance, from the ship's coppers, of Mr Vanslyperken and his servant Smallbones. Mr Vanslyperken was busy stirring it about to cool it a little, with a leaden spoon. Snarleyyow sat close to him, waiting for his share, and Smallbones stood by, waiting for orders.
"Smallbones," said the lieutenant, after trying, the hot mess before him, and finding that he was still in danger of burning his mouth, "bring me the red-herring."
"Red-herring, sir?" stammered Smallbones.
"Yes," replied his master, fixing his little grey eye sternly on him, "the red-herring."
"It's gone, sir!" replied Smallbones, with alarm.
"Gone! gone where?"
"If you please, sir, I didn't a-think that you would have touched it after the dog had had it in his nasty mouth; and so, sir—if you please, sir—"
"And so what?" said Vanslyperken, compressing his thin lips.
"I ate it myself—if you please—O dear, O dear!"
"You did, did you—you gluttonous scarecrow—you did, did you? Are you aware that you have committed a theft—and are you aware of the punishment attending it?"
"O sir, it was a mistake, dear sir," cried Smallbones, whimpering.
"In the first place, I will cut you to ribbons with the cat."
"Mercy, sir, O sir!" cried the lad, the tears streaming from his eyes.
"The thief's cat, with three knots in each tail."
Smallbones raised up his thin arms, and clasped his hands, pleading for mercy.
"And after the flogging you shall be keel-hauled."
"O God!" screamed Smallbones, falling down on his knees, "mercy—mercy!"
But there was none. Snarleyyow, when he saw the lad go down on his knees, flew at him, and threw him on his back, growling over him, and occasionally looking at his master.
"Come here, Snarleyyow," said Mr Vanslyperken. "Come here, sir, and lie down." But Snarleyyow had not forgotten the red-herring; so in revenge he first bit Smallbones in the thigh, and then obeyed his master.
"Get up, sir," cried the lieutenant.
Smallbones rose, but his temper now rose also; he forgot all that he was to suffer, from indignation against the dog: with flashing eyes, and whimpering with rage, he cried out, as the tears fell, and his arms swung round, "I'll not stand this—I'll jump overboard—that I will: fourteen times has that ere dog a-bitten me this week. I'd sooner die at once than be made dog's meat of in this here way."
"Silence, you mutinous rascal, or I'll put you in irons."
"I wish you would—irons don't bite, if they hold fast. I'll run away— I don't mind being hung—that I don't—starved to death, bitten to death in this here way—"
"Silence, sir. It's over-feeding that makes you saucy."
"The Lord forgive you!" cried Smallbones, with surprise; "I've not had a full meal—"
"A full meal, you rascal! there's no filling a thing like you—hollow from top to bottom, like a bamboo."
"And what I does get," continued Smallbones, with energy, "I pays dear for; that ere dog flies at me, if I takes a bit o' biscuit. I never has a bite without getting a bite, and it's all my own allowance."
"A proof of his fidelity, and an example to you, you wretch," replied the lieutenant, fondly patting the dog on the head.
"Well, I wish you'd discharge me, or hang me, I don't care which. You eats so hearty, and the dog eats so hearty, that I gets nothing. We are only victualled for two."
"You insolent fellow! recollect the thief's cat."
"It's very hard," continued Smallbones, unmindful of the threat "that that ere beast is to eat my allowance, and be allowed to half eat me too."
"You forget the keel-hauling, you scarecrow."
"Well, I hope I may never come up again, that's all."
"Leave the cabin, sir."
This order Smallbones obeyed.
"Snarleyyow," said the lieutenant, "you are hungry, my poor beast." Snarleyyow put his forepaw up on his master's knee. "You shall have your breakfast soon," continued his master, eating the burgoo between his addresses to the animal. "Yes, Snarleyyow, you have done wrong this morning; you ought to have no breakfast." Snarleyyow growled, "We are only four years acquainted, and how many scrapes you have got me into, Snarleyyow!" Snarleyyow here put both his paws upon his master's knee. "Well, you are sorry, my poor dog, and you shall have some breakfast;" and Mr Vanslyperken put the basin of burgoo on the floor, which the dog tumbled down his throat most rapidly. "Nay, my dog, not so fast; you must leave some for Smallbones; he will require some breakfast before his punishment. There, that will do;" and Mr Vanslyperken wished to remove the basin with a little of the burgoo remaining in it. Snarleyyow growled, would have snapped at his master, but Mr Vanslyperken shoved him away with the bell-mouth of his speaking-trumpet, and recovering a portion of the mess, put it on the table for the use of poor Smallbones. "Now, then, my dog, we will go on deck." Mr Vanslyperken left the cabin, followed by Snarleyyow; but as soon as his master was half way up the ladder, Snarleyyow turned back, leaped on the chair, from the chair to the table, and then finished the whole of the breakfast appropriated for Smallbones. Having effected this, the dog followed his master.
A RETROSPECT, AND SHORT DESCRIPTION OF A NEW CHARACTER.
But we must leave poor Smallbones to lament his hard fate in the fore peak of the vessel, and Mr Vanslyperken and his dog to walk the quarter-deck, while we make our readers a little better acquainted with the times in which the scenes passed which we are now describing, as well as with the history of Mr Vanslyperken.
The date in our first chapter, that of the year 1699, will, if the refer back to history, show them that William of Nassau had been a few years on the English throne, and that peace had just been concluded between England with its allies and France. The king occasionally passed his time in Holland, among his Dutch countrymen, and the English and Dutch fleets, which but a few years before were engaging with such an obstinacy of courage, had lately sailed together, and turned their guns against the French. William, like all those continental princes who have been called to the English throne, showed much favour to his own countrymen, and England was overrun with Dutch favourites, Dutch courtiers, and peers of Dutch extraction. He would not even part with his Dutch guards, and was at issue with the Commons of England on that very account. But the war was now over, and most of the English and Dutch navy lay dismantled in port, a few small vessels only being in commission to intercept the smuggling from France that was carrying on, much to the detriment of English manufacture, of certain articles then denominated alamodes and lutestrings. The cutter we have described was on this service, and was named the Yungfrau, although built in England, and forming a part of the English naval force.
It may really be supposed that Dutch interest, during this period, was in the ascendant. Such was the case; and the Dutch officers and seamen who could not be employed in their own marine were appointed in the English vessels, to the prejudice of our own countrymen, Mr Vanslyperken was of Dutch extraction, but born in England long before the Prince of Orange had ever dreamt of being called to the English throne. He was a near relation of King William's own nurse, and even in these days that would cause powerful interest. Previous to the revolution he had been laid on the shelf for cowardice in one of the engagements between the Dutch and the English, he being then a lieutenant on board of a two-decked ship, and of long, standing in the service; but before he had been appointed to this vessel, he had served invariably in small craft, and his want of this necessary qualification had never been discovered. The interest used for him on the accession of the Dutch king was sufficient for his again obtaining the command of a small vessel. In those days, the service was very different from what it is now. The commanders of vessels were also the pursers, and could save a great deal of money by defrauding the crew: and further, the discipline of the service was such as would astonish the modern philanthropist; there was no appeal for subordinates and tyranny and oppression, even amounting to the destruction of life, were practised with impunity. Smollett has given his readers some idea of the state of the service a few years after the time of which we are now writing, when it was infinitely worse, for the system of the Dutch, notorious for their cruelty, had been grafted upon that of the English. The consequence was, a combination of all that was revolting to humanity was practised, without any notice being taken of it by the superior powers, provided that the commanders of the vessels did their duty when called upon, and showed the necessary talent and courage.
Lieutenant Vanslyperken's character may be summed up in the three vices of avarice, cowardice, and cruelty. A miser in the extreme, he had saved up much money by his having had the command of a vessel for so many years, during which he had defrauded and pilfered both from the men and the government. Friends and connections he had none on this side of the water, and, when on shore, he had lived in a state of abject misery, although he had the means of comfortable support. He was now fifty-five years of age. Since he had been appointed to the Yungfrau, he had been employed in carrying despatches to the States-General from King William, and had, during his repeated visits to the Hague, made acquaintance with the widow Vandersloosh, who kept a Lust Haus, [Pleasure house] a place of resort for sailors, where they drank and danced. Discovering that the comfortably fat lady was also very comfortably rich, Mr Vanslyperken had made advances, with the hope of obtaining her hand and handling her money. The widow had, however, no idea of accepting the offer, but was too wise to give him a decided refusal, as she knew it would be attended with his preventing the crew of the cutter from frequenting her house, and thereby losing much custom. Thus did she, at every return, receive him kindly and give him hopes, but nothing more. Since the peace, as we before observed, the cutter had been ordered for the prevention of smuggling.
When and how Mr Vanslyperken had picked up his favourite Snarleyyow cannot be discovered, and must remain a secret. The men said that the dog had appeared on the deck of the cutter in a supernatural way, and most of them looked upon him with as much awe as ill-will.
This is certain, that the cutter had been a little while before in a state of mutiny, and a forcible entry attempted at night into the lieutenant's cabin. It is therefore not unreasonable to suppose that Vanslyperken felt that a good watch-dog might be a very useful appendage to his establishment, and had procured one accordingly. All the affection he ever showed to anything living was certainly concentrated on this one animal, and, next to his money, Snarleyyow had possession of his master's heart.
Poor Smallbones, cast on the world without father or mother, had become starved before he was on board the cutter, and had been starved ever since. As the reader will perceive, his allowance was mostly eaten up by the dog, and he was left to beg a precarious support from the good-will and charity of his shipmates, all of whom were equally disgusted with the commander's cruelty and the ungain temper of his brute companion.
Having entered into this retrospect for the benefit of the reader, we will now proceed.
Mr Vanslyperken walked the deck for nearly a quarter of an hour without speaking: the men had finished their breakfasts, and were lounging about the deck, for there was nothing for them to do, except to look out for the return of the two boats which had been sent away the night before. The lieutenant's thoughts were at one minute, upon Mrs Vandersloosh thinking how he could persuade her, and, at another, upon Smallbones, thinking how he could render the punishment adequate, in his opinion, to the magnitude of the offence. While discussing these two important matters, one of the men reported the boats ahead, and broke up the commander's reverie.
"How far off?" demanded Mr Vanslyperken.
"About two miles."
"Pulling or sailing?"
"Pulling, sir; we stand right for them."
But Mr Vanslyperken was in no pleasant humour, and ordered the cutter to be hove-to.
"I tink de men have pull enough all night," said Jansen, who had just been relieved at the wheel, to Obadiah Coble, who was standing by him on the forecastle.
"I think so too: but there'll be a breeze, depend upon it—never mind, the devil will have his own all in good time."
"Got for dam," said Jansen, looking at Beachy Head, and shaking his own.
"Why, what's the matter now, old Schnapps?" said Coble.
"Schnapps—yes—the tyfel—Schnapps, I think how the French schnapped us Dutchmen here when you Englishment wouldn't fight."
"Mind what you say, old twenty breeches—wouldn't fight—when wouldn't we fight?"
"Here, where we were now, by Got, you leave us all in the lurch, and not come down."
"Why, we couldn't come down."
"Bah!" replied Jansen, who referred to the defeat of the combined Dutch and English fleet by the French off Beachy Head in 1690.
"We wouldn't fight, eh?" exclaimed Obadiah in scorn—"what do you say to the Hogue?"
"Yes, den you fought well—dat was good."
"And shall I tell you why we fought well at the Hogue, you Dutch porpoise—just because we had no Dutchmen to help us."
"And shall I tell you why the Dutch were beat off this Head?—because the English wouldn't come down to help us."
Here Obadiah put his tongue into his right cheek. Jansen in return threw his into his left, and thus the argument was finished. These disputes were constant at the time, but seldom proceeded further than words—certainly not between Coble and Jansen, who were great friends.
The boats were soon on board; from the time that the cutter had been hove-to, every stroke of their oars having been accompanied with a nautical anathema from the crews upon the head of their commander. The steersman and first officer, who had charge of the boats, came over the gangway and went up to Vanslyperken. He was a thick-set, stout man, about five feet four inches high, and, wrapped up in Flushing garments, looked very much like a bear in shape as well as in skin. His name was Dick Short, and in every respect he answered to his name, for he was short in stature, short in speech, and short in decision and action.
Now when Short came up to the lieutenant, he did not consider it at all necessary to say as usual, "Come on board, sir," for it was self-evident that he had come on board. He therefore said nothing. So abrupt was he in his speech, that he never even said "Sir" when he spoke to his superior, which it may be imagined was very offensive to Mr Vanslyperken; so it was, but Mr Vanslyperken was afraid of Short, and Short was not the least afraid of Vanslyperken.
"Well, what have you done, Short?"
"Did you see anything of the boat?"
"Did you gain any information?"
"What have you been doing all night?"
"Did you land to obtain information?"
"And you got none?"
Here Short hitched up the waistband of his second pair of trousers, turned short round, and was going below, when Snarleyyow smelt at his heels. The man gave him a back kick with the heel of his heavy boot, which sent the dog off yelping and barking, and put Mr Vanslyperken in a great rage. Not venturing to resent this affront upon his first officer, he was reminded of Smallbones, and immediately sent for Corporal Van Spitter to appear on deck.
IN WHICH THERE IS A DESPERATE COMBAT.
Even at this period of the English history, it was the custom to put a few soldiers on board of the vessels of war, and the Yungfrau cutter had been supplied with a corporal and six men, all of whom were belonging to the Dutch marine. To a person who was so unpopular as Mr Vanslyperken, this little force was a great protection, and both corporal Van Spitter and his corps were well treated by him. The corporal was his purser and purveyor, and had a very good berth of it, for he could cheat as well as his commandant. He was, moreover, his prime minister, and an obedient executer of all his tyranny, for Corporal Van Spitter was without a shadow of feeling—on the contrary, he had pleasure in administering punishment; and if Vanslyperken had told him to blow any man's brains out belonging to the vessel, Van Spitter would have immediately obeyed the order without the change of a muscle in his fat, florid countenance. The corporal was an enormous man; tall, and so corpulent, that he weighed nearly twenty stone. Jansen was the only one who could rival him; he was quite as tall as the corporal, and as powerful, but he had not the extra weight of his carcase.
About five minutes after the summons, the huge form of Corporal Van Spitter was seen to emerge slowly from the hatchway, which appeared barely wide enough to admit the egress of his broad shoulders. He had a flat foraging cap on his head, which was as large as a buffalo's and his person was clothed in blue pantaloons, tight at the ankle, rapidly increasing in width as they ascended, until they diverged at the hips to an expanse which was something between the sublime and the ridiculous. The upper part of his body was cased in a blue jacket, with leaden buttons, stamped with the rampant lion, with a little tail behind, which was shoved up in the air by the protuberance of the parts. Having gained the deck, he walked to Vanslyperken, and raised the back of his right hand to his forehead.
"Corporal Van Spitter, get your cats up for punishment, and when you are ready fetch up Smallbones."
Whereupon, without reply, Corporal Van Spitter put his left foot behind the heel of his right, and by this manoeuvre turned his body round like a capstan, so as to bring his face forward and then walked off in that direction. He soon re-appeared with all the necessary implements of torture, laid them down on one of the lee guns, and again departed to seek out his victim.
After a short time, a scuffle was heard below, but it was soon over, and once more appeared the corporal with the spare, tall body of Smallbones under his arm. He held him, grasped by the middle part, about where Smallbones' stomach ought to have been, and the head and heels of the poor wretch both hung down perpendicularly, and knocked together as the corporal proceeded aft.
As soon as Van Spitter had arrived at the gun, he laid down his charge, who neither moved nor spoke. He appeared to have resigned himself to the fate which awaited him, and made no resistance when he was stripped by one of the marines, and stretched over the gun. The men, who were on deck, said nothing; they looked at each other expressively as the preparations were made. Flogging a lad like Smallbones was too usual an occurrence to excite surprise, and to show their disgust would have been dangerous. Smallbones' back was now bared, and miserable was the spectacle; the shoulder-blades protruded, so that you might put your hand sideways under the scapula, and every bone of the vertebrae and every process was clearly defined through the skin of the poor skeleton. The punishment commenced, and the lad received his three dozen without a murmur, the measured sound of the lash only being broken in upon by the baying of Snarleyyow, who occasionally would have flown at the victim, had he not been kept off by one of the marines. During the punishment, Mr Vanslyperken walked the deck, and turned and turned again as before.
Smallbones was then cast loose by the corporal, who was twirling up his cat, when Snarleyyow, whom the marine had not watched, ran up to the lad, and inflicted a severe bite. Smallbones, who appeared, at the moment, to be faint and lifeless—not having risen from his knees after the marine had thrown his shirt over him, roused by this new attack, appeared to spring into life and energy; he jumped up, uttered a savage yell, and to the astonishment of everybody, threw himself upon the dog as he retreated, and holding him fast with his naked arms, met the animal with his own weapons, attacking him with a frenzied resolution with his teeth. Everybody started back at this unusual conflict, and no one interfered.
Long was the struggle; and such was the savage energy of the lad, that he bit and held on with the tenacity of a bulldog, tearing the lips of the animal, his ears, and burying his face in the dog's throat, as his teeth were firmly fixed on his windpipe. The dog could not escape, for Smallbones held him like a vice. At last, the dog appeared to have the advantage, for as they rolled over and over, he caught the lad by the side of the neck; but Smallbones recovered himself, and getting the foot of Snarleyyow between his teeth, the dog threw up his head and howled for succour. Mr Vanslyperken rushed to his assistance, and struck Smallbones a heavy blow on the head with his speaking trumpet, which stunned him, and he let go his hold.
Short, who had come on deck, perceiving this, and that the dog was about to resume the attack, saluted Snarleyyow with a kick on his side, which threw him down the hatchway, which was about three yards off from where the dog was at the time.
"How dare you strike my dog, Mr Short?" cried Vanslyperken.
Short did not condescend to answer, but went to Smallbones and raised his head. The lad revived. He was terribly bitten about the face and neck, and what with the wounds in front, and the lashing from the cat, presented a melancholy spectacle.
Short called some of the men to take Smallbones below, in which act they readily assisted; they washed him all over with salt water, and the smarting from his various wounds brought him to his senses. He was then put in his hammock.
Vanslyperken and the corporal looked at each other during the time that Short was giving his directions—neither interfered. The lieutenant was afraid, and the corporal waited for orders. So soon as the men had carried the lad below, Corporal Van Spitter put his hand up to his foraging cap, and, with his cat and seizings under his arm, went down below. As for Vanslyperken, his wrath was even greater than before, and with hands thrust even further down in his pockets than ever, and the speaking-trumpet now battered flat with the blow which he had administered to Smallbones, he walked up and down, muttering every two minutes, "I'll keel-haul the scoundrel, by heavens! I'll teach him to bite my dog."
Snarleyyow did not re-appear on deck; he had received such punishment as he did not expect. He licked the wounds where he could get at them, and then remained in the cabin in a sort of perturbed slumber, growling every minute, as if he were fighting the battle over again in his sleep.
A CONSULTATION IN WHICH THERE IS MUCH MUTINY.
This consultation was held upon the forecastle of his Majesty's cutter Yungfrau, on the evening after the punishment of Smallbones. The major part of the crew attended; all but the Corporal Van Spitter, who, on these points, was known to split with the crew, and his six marines, who formed the corporal's tail, at which they were always to be found. The principal personage was not the most eloquent speaker, for it was Dick Short, who was supported by Obadiah Coble, Yack Jansen, and another personage, whom we must introduce—the boatswain or boatswain's mate of the cutter; for although he received the title of the former, he only received the pay of the latter. This person's real name was James Salisbury, but for reasons which will be explained, he was invariably addressed or spoken of as Jemmy Ducks. He was indeed a very singular variety of human discrepancy as to form: he was handsome in face, with a manly countenance, fierce whiskers and long pigtail, which on him appeared more than unusually long, as it descended to within a foot of the deck. His shoulders were square, chest expanded, and, as far as half-way down, that is, to where the legs are inserted into the human frame, he was a fine, well-made, handsome, well-proportioned man. But what a falling off was there!—for some reason, some accident it is supposed, in his infancy, his legs had never grown in length since he was three years old: they were stout as well as his body, but not more than eighteen inches from the hip to the heel; and he consequently waddled about a very ridiculous figure, for he was like a man razeed or cut down. Put him on an eminence of a couple of feet, and not see his legs, and you would say at a distance, "What a fine-looking sailor!" but let him get down and walk up to you, and you would find that Nature had not finished what she had so well begun, and that you are exactly half mistaken. This malconformation below did not, however, affect his strength—it rather added to it; and there were but few men in the ship who would venture a wrestle with the boatswain, who was very appropriately distinguished by the cognomen of Jemmy Ducks. Jemmy was a sensible, merry fellow, and a good seaman: you could not affront him by any jokes on his figure, for he would joke with you. He was indeed the fiddle of the ship's company, and he always played the fiddle to them when the danced, on which instrument he was no mean performer; and, moreover, accompanied his voice with his instrument when he sang to them after they were tired of dancing. We shall only observe that Jemmy was a married man, and he had selected one of the tallest of the other sex: of her beauty, the less that is said the better—Jemmy did not look to that, or perhaps, at such a height, her face did not appear so plain to him as it did to those who were more on a level with it. The effect of perspective is well known, and even children now have as playthings, castles, etcetera, laid down on card, which, when looked at in a proper direction, appear just as correct as they do preposterous when lying flat before you.
Now it happened that from the level that Jemmy looked up from to his wife's face, her inharmonious features were all in harmony, and thus did she appear—what is very advantageous in the marriage state—perfection to her husband, without sufficient charms in the eyes of others to induce them to seduce her from her liege lord. Moreover, let it be recollected, that what Jemmy wanted was height, and he had gained what he required in his wife, if not in his own person: his wife was passionately fond of him, and very jealous, which was not to be wondered at, for, as she said, "There never was such a husband before or since."
We must now return to the conference, observing, that all these parties were sitting down on the deck, and that Jemmy Ducks had his fiddle in his hand, holding it with the body downwards like a base viol, for he always played it in that way, and that he occasionally fingered the strings, pinching them as you do a guitar, so as to send the sound of it aft, that Mr Vanslyperken might suppose that they were all met for mirth. Two or three had their eyes directed aft, that the appearance of Corporal Van Spitter or the marines might be immediately perceived; for, although the corporal was not a figure to slide into a conference unperceived, it was well known that he was an eavesdropper.
"One thing's sartin," observed Coble, "that a dog's not an officer."
"No," replied Dick Short.
"He's not on the ship's books, so I can't see how it can be mutiny."
"No," rejoined Short.
"Mein Got—he is not a tog, he is te tyfel," observed Jansen.
"Who knows how he came into the cutter?"
"There's a queer story about that," said one of the men.
Tum tum, tumty tum—said the fiddle of Jemmy Ducks, as if it took part in the conference.
"That poor boy will be killed if things go on this way: the skipper will never be content till he has driven his soul out of his body—poor creature; only look at him as he lies in his hammock."
"I never seed a Christian such an object," said one of the sailors.
"If the dog ain't killed, Bones will be, that's sartain," observed Coble: "and I don't see why the preference should be given to a human individual, although the dog is the skipper's dog—now then, what d'ye say, my lads?"
Tum tum, tum tum, tumty tumty tum, replied the fiddle.
"Let's hang him at once."
"No," replied Short.
Jansen took out his snickerree, looked at Short, and made a motion with the knife, as if passing it across the dog's throat.
"No," replied Short.
"Let's launch him overboard at night," said one of the men.
"But how is one to get the brute out of the cabin?" said Cobb; "if it's done at all it must be done by day."
Short nodded his head.
"I will give him a launch the first opportunity," observed Jemmy Ducks, "only—(continued he in a measured and lower tone)—I should first like to know whether he really is a dog or not."
"A tog is a tog," observed Jansen.
"Yes," replied one of the forecastle men, "we all know dog is a dog, but the question is—is this dog a dog?"
Here there was a pause, which Jemmy Ducks filled up by again touching the strings of his fiddle.
The fact was, that, although every one of the sailors wished the dog was overboard, there was not one who wished to commit the deed, not on account of the fear of its being discovered who was the party by Mr Vanslyperken, but because there was a great deal of superstition among them. It was considered unlucky to throw any dog or animal overboard; but the strange stories told about the way in which Snarleyyow first made his appearance in the vessel, added to the peculiarly diabolical temper of the animal, had often been the theme of midnight conversation, and many of them were convinced that it was an imp of Satan lent to Vanslyperken, and that to injure or to attempt to destroy it would infallibly be followed up with terrible consequences to the party, if not to the vessel and all the crew. Even Short, Coble, and Jansen, who were the boldest and leading men, although when their sympathies were roused by the suffering of poor Smallbones they were anxious to revenge him, had their own misgivings, and, on consideration, did not like to have anything to do with the business. But each of them kept their reflections to themselves, for, if they could not combat, they were too proud to acknowledge them.
The reader will observe that all their plans were immediately put an end to until this important question, and not a little difficult one, was decided—Was the dog a dog?
Now, although the story had often been told, yet, as the crew of the cutter had been paid off since the animal had been brought on board, there was no man in the ship who could positively detail, from his own knowledge, the facts connected with his first appearance—there was only tradition, and to solve this question, to tradition they were obliged to repair.
"Now, Bill Spurey," said Coble, "you know more about this matter than any one, so just spin us the yarn, and then we shall be able to talk the matter over soberly."
"Well," replied Bill Spurey, "you shall have it just as I got it word for word, as near as I can recollect. You know I wasn't in the craft when the thing came on board, but Joe Geary was, and it was one night when we were boozing over a stiff glass at the new shop there, the Orange Boven, as they call it, at the Pint of Portsmouth—and so, you see, falling in with him, I wished to learn something about my new skipper, and what sort of a chap I should have to deal with. When I learnt all about him, I'd half-a-dozen minds to shove off again, but then I was adrift, and so I thought better of it. It won't do to be so nice in peace times, you know, my lads, when all the big ships are rotting in Southampton and Cinque Port muds. Well, then, what he told me I recollect as well—ay, every word of it—as it he had whispered it into my ear but this minute. It was a blustering night, with a dirty south-wester, and the chafing of the harbour waves was thrown up in foams, which the winds swept up the street, they chasing one another as if they were boys at play. It was about two bells in the middle watch, and after our fifth glass, that Joe Geary said as this:—
"It was one dark winter's night when we were off the Texel, blowing terribly, with the coast under our lee, clawing off under storm canvas, and fighting with the elements for every inch of ground, a hand in the chains, for we had nothing but the lead to trust to, and the vessel so flogged by the waves, that he was lashed to the rigging, that he might not be washed away; all of a sudden the wind came with a blast loud enough for the last frump, and the waves roared till they were hoarser than ever; away went the vessel's mast, although there was no more canvas on it than a jib pocket-handkerchief, and the craft rolled and tossed in the deep troughs for all the world like a wicked man dying in despair; and then she was a wreck, with nothing to help us but God Almighty, fast borne down upon the sands which the waters had disturbed, and were dashing about until they themselves were weary of the load; and all the seamen cried unto the Lord, as well they might.
"Now they say, that he did not cry as they did, like men and Christians, to Him who made them and the waters which surrounded and threatened them; for Death was then in all his glory, and the foaming crests of the waves were as plumes of feathers to his skeleton head beneath them; but he cried like a child—and swore terribly as well as cried—talking about his money, his dear money, and not caring about his more precious soul.
"And the cutter was borne down, every wave pushing her with giant force nearer and nearer to destruction, when the man at the chains shrieked out—'Mark three, and the Lord have mercy on our souls!' and all the crew, when they heard this, cried out—'Lord save us, or we perish!' But still they thought that their time was come, for the breaking waves were under their lee, and the yellow waters told them that, in a few minutes, the vessel, and all who were on board, would be shivered in fragments; and some wept and some prayed as they clung to the bulwarks of the unguided vessel, and others in a few minutes thought over their whole life, and waited for death in silence. But he, he did all; he cried, and he prayed, and he swore, and he was silent, and at last he became furious and frantic; and when the man said again and again, 'The Lord save us!' he roared out at last, 'Will the devil help us, for—' In a moment, before these first words were out of his mouth, there was a flash of lightning, that appeared to strike the vessel, but it harmed her not, neither did any thunder follow the flash; but a ball of blue flame pitched upon the knight heads, and then came bounding and dancing aft to the taffrail, where he stood alone, for the men had left him to blaspheme by himself. Some say he was heard to speak, as if in conversation, but no one knows what passed. Be it as it may, on a sudden he walked forward as brave as he could be, and was followed by this creature, who carried his head and tail slouching as he does now.
"And the dog looked up and gave one deep bark, and as soon as he had barked the wind appeared to lull—he barked again twice, and there was a dead calm—he barked again thrice, and the seas went down—and he patted the dog on the head, and the animal then bayed loud for a minute or two, and then, to the astonishment and fear of all, instead of the vessel being within a cable's length of the Texel sands in a heavy gale, and without hope, the Foreland lights were but two miles on our beam with a clear sky and smooth water."
The seaman finished his legend, and there was a dead silence for a minute or two, broken first by Jansen, who in a low voice said, "Then te tog is not a tog."
"No," replied Cobb, "an imp sent by the devil to his follower in distress."
"Yes," said. Short.
"Well, but," said Jemmy Ducks, who for some time had left off touching the strings of his fiddle, "it would be the work of a good Christian to kill the brute."
"It's not a mortal animal, Jemmy."
"True, I forgot that."
"Gifen by de tyfel," observed Jansen.
"Ay, and christened by him too," continued Coble. "Who ever heard any Christian brute with such a damnable name?"
"Well, what's to be done?"
"Why," replied Jemmy Ducks, "at all events, imp o' Satan or not, that here Smallbones fought him to-day with his own weapons."
"And beat him too," said. Coble.
"Yes," said Short.
"Now, it's my opinion, that Smallbones ar'nt afraid of him," continued Jemmy Ducks, "and devil or no devil, he'll kill him, if he can."
"He's the proper person to do it," replied Coble; "the more so, as you may say that he's his natural enemy."
"Yes, mein Got, de poy is de man," said Jansen.
"We'll put him up to it at all events, as soon as he is out of his hammock," rejoined Jemmy Ducks.
A little more conversation took place, and then it was carried unanimously that Smallbones should destroy the animal, if it was possible to destroy it.
The only party who was not consulted was Smallbones himself, who lay fast asleep in his hammock. The consultation then broke up, and they all went below.
IN WHICH AS OFTEN HAPPENS AT SEA WHEN SIGNALS ARE NOT MADE OUT, FRIENDS EXCHANGE BROADSIDES.
Notwithstanding all the precautions of the party on the forecastle, this consultation had been heard by no less a person than the huge Corporal Van Spitter, who had an idea that there was some mystery going on forward, and had contrived to crawl up under the bulwark, and throw himself down on the fore-staysail, which lay between two of the guns. Having so done without being perceived, for it was the very moment that the party were all listening to Bill Spurey's legend of the dog's first appearance on board, he threw a part of the sail over his fat carouse, and thus remained undiscovered during the remainder of the colloquy. He heard them all descending below, and remained still quiet, till he imagined that the forecastle was clear. In the meantime, Mr Vanslyperken who had been walking the deck abaft, unaccompanied by his faithful attendant (for Snarleyyow remained coiled up on his master's bed), was meditating deeply how to gratify the two most powerful passions in our nature, love and revenge: at one moment thinking of the fat fair Vandersloosh, and of hauling in her guilders, at another reverting to the starved Smallbones and the comfort of a keel-hauling. The long conference on the forecastle had not been unperceived by the hawk's eye of the lieutenant, and as they descended he walked forward to ascertain if he could not pick up some straggler who, unsupported by his comrades, might be induced by fear to acquaint him with the subject of the discussion. Now, just as Mr Vanslyperken came forward, Corporal Van Spitter had removed the canvas from his body, and was about to rise from his bed, when he perceived somebody coming forward. Not making it out to be the lieutenant, he immediately dropped down again and drew the canvas over him. Mr Vanslyperken perceived this manoeuvre, and thought he had now caught one of the conspirators, and, moreover, one who showed such fear as to warrant the supposition that he should be able to extract from him the results of the night's unusually long conference.
Mr Vanslyperken walked up to where the corporal lay as quiet but not quite so small as a mouse. It occurred to Mr Vanslyperken that a little taste of punishment in esse would very much assist the threats of what might be received in posse; so he laid aside his speaking-trumpet, looked round, picked up a handspike, and raising it above his head, down it came, with all the force of the lieutenant's arm, upon Corporal Van Spitter, whose carcase resounded like a huge kettle-drum.
"Tunder and flame!" roared the corporal under the canvas, thinking that one of the seamen, having discovered him eavesdropping, had thus wreaked his revenge, taking advantage of his being covered up, and pretending not to know him. "Tunder and flame!" roared the corporal, muffled up in the canvas, and trying to extricate himself; but his voice was not recognised by the lieutenant, and, before he could get clear of his envelope, the handspike had again descended; when up rose the corporal, like a buffalo out of his muddy lair, half blinded by the last blow, which had fallen on his head, ran full butt at the lieutenant, and precipitated his senior officer and commander headlong down the fore-hatchway.
Vanslyperken fell with great force, was stunned, and lay without motion at the foot of the ladder, while the corporal, whose wrath was always excessive when his blood was up, but whose phlegmatic blood could not be raised without some such decided stimulus as a handspike, now turned round and round the forecastle, like a bull looking for his assailants; but the corporal had the forecastle all to himself, and, as he gradually cooled down, he saw lying close to him the speaking-trumpet of his senior officer.
"Tousand tyfels," murmured Corporal Van Spitter, "but it must have been the skipper. Got for dam, dis is hanging matter!" Corporal Van Spitter was as cool as a cucumber as soon as he observed what a mistake he had made; in fact he quivered and trembled in his fat. "But then," thought he, "perhaps he did not know me—no, he could not, or he never would have handspiked me." So Corporal Van Spitter walked down the hatchway, where he ascertained that his commandant lay insensible. "Dat is good," thought he; and he went aft, lighted his lantern, and, as a ruse, knocked at the cabin-door. Receiving no answer but the growl of Snarleyyow, he went in, and then ascended to the quarter-deck, looked round him, and inquired of the man at the wheel where Mr Vanslyperken might be. The man replied that he had gone forward a few minutes before, and thither the corporal proceeded. Of course, not finding him, he returned, telling the man that the skipper was not in the cabin or the forecastle, and wondering where he could be. He then descended to the next officer in command, Dick Short, and called him.
"Well," said Short.
"Can't find Mr Vanslyperken anywhere," said the corporal.
"Look," replied Dick, turning round in his hammock.
"Mein Got, I have looked de forecastle, de quarter-deck, and de cabin— he not anywhere."
"Overboard," replied Dick.
"I come to you, sir, to make inquiry," said the corporal.
"Turn out," said Dick, suiting the action to the words, and lighting with his feet on the deck in his shirt.
While Short was dressing himself, the corporal summoned up all his marines; and the noise occasioned by this turn out, and the conversation overheard by those who were awake, soon gave the crew of the cutter to understand that some accident had happened to their commander. Even Smallbones had it whispered in his ear that Mr Vanslyperken had fallen overboard, and he smiled as he lay in the dark, smarting with his wounds, muttering to himself that Snarleyyow should soon follow his master. By the time that Short was on the quarterdeck, Corporal Van Spitter, who knew very well where to look for it, had, very much to the disappointment of the crew found the body of Mr Vanslyperken, and the marines had brought it aft to the cabin, and would have laid it on the bed, had not Snarleyyow, who had no feeling in his composition, positively denied its being put there.
Short came down and examined his superior officer.
"Is he dead," inquired the corporal with alarm.
"No," replied Short.
"Vat can it be then?" said the corporal.
"Stunned," replied Short.
"Mein Got! how could it happen?"
"Tumbled," replied Short.
"What shall we do, sir?" rejoined the corporal.
"Bed," replied Short, turning on his heel, and a minute after turning into his hammock.
"Mein Got, the dog will not let him go to bed," exclaimed the corporal.
"Let's put him in," said one of the marines; "the dog won't bite his master."
So the marines lifted up the still insensible Mr Vanslyperken, and almost tossed him into his standing bed-place, right on the body of the snarling dog, who, as soon as he could disengage himself from the weight, revenged himself by making his teeth meet more than once through the lantern cheek of his master, and then leaping off the bed, retreated growling under the table.
"Well, you are a nice dog," exclaimed one of the marines, looking after Snarleyyow in his retreat.
Now, there was no medical assistance on board so small a vessel. Mr Vanslyperken was allowed a small quantity of medicine, unguents, etcetera; but these he always sold to an apothecary as soon as he had procured them from the authorities. The teeth of the dog had, however, their effect, and Mr Vanslyperken opened his eyes, and in a faint voice cried, "Snarleyyow." Oh, if the dog had any spark of feeling, how must he then have been stung with remorse at his ingratitude to so kind a master! But he apparently showed none, at least report does not say that any symptoms were manifest.
After a little burnt oakum had excoriated his nose, and a certain quantity of the cold salt-water from alongside had wetted through his bed-clothes, Mr Vanslyperken was completely recovered, and was able to speak and look about him. Corporal Van Spitter trembled a little as his commandant fixed his eyes upon him, and he redoubled his attention.
"Mein Got, Mynheer Vanslyperken, how was this happen?" exclaimed the corporal in a pathetic tone. Whereupon Mr Vanslyperken ordered every one to leave the cabin but Corporal Van Spitter.
Mr Vanslyperken then communicated to the corporal that he had been knocked down the hatchway by one of the men when he went forward; that he could not distinguish who it was, but thought it must have been Jansen from his size. Corporal Van Spitter, delighted to find that his skipper was on a wrong scent, expressed his opinion in corroboration of the lieutenant's; after which a long consultation took place relative to mutiny, disaffection, and the proper measures to be taken. Vanslyperken mentioned the consultation of the men during the first watch, and the corporal, to win his favour, was very glad to be able to communicate the particulars of what he had overheard, stating that he had concealed himself for that purpose.
"And where did you conceal yourself?" said Vanslyperken, with a keen inquiring look: for it immediately occurred to him that, unless it was under the sail, there could be no concealment for such a huge body as that of the corporal; and he had his misgivings. But the corporal very adroitly observed, that he stood at the lower step of the fore-ladder, with his head level with the coamings; and had, by this means, overheard the conversation unperceived, and had only walked away when the party broke up. This restored the confidence of Mr Vanslyperken, and a long discussion took place, in which it was agreed between them, that the only way to prevent Snarleyyow from being destroyed, was to try some means to make away quietly with poor Smallbones. But this part of the conversation was not carried to any length: for Mr Vanslyperken, indignant at having received such injury in his face from his ungrateful cur, did not, at that moment, feel the current of his affection run so strong as usual in that direction. After this, the corporal touched his hat, swung round to the rightabout in military style, and left the cabin.
IN WHICH MR. VANSLYPERKEN GOES ON SHORE TO WOO THE WIDOW VANDERSLOOSH.
Three weeks of comparative calm now passed away, during which Mr Vanslyperken recovered of his wounds and accident, and meditated how he should make away with Smallbones. The latter also recovered of his bites, and meditated how he should make away with Snarleyyow. Smallbones had returned to his avocations, and Mr Vanslyperken, intending mischief, treated him more kindly as a blind. Snarleyyow also, not forgetting his defeat on the quarter-deck, did not renew his attacks, even when the poor lad helped himself to biscuit.
The Yungfrau anchored in the Downs, and Mr Vanslyperken received despatches for the Hague; King William having written some letters to his friends, and sent over to them a little English money, which he knew would be acceptable; for continental kings on the English throne have never appeared to have a clear sense of the honour conferred upon them. England, in their ideas, has always been a parvenue kingdom; her nobles not able to trace further back than the Conquest; while, in their country, the lowest baron will prove his sixteen quarters, and his descent from the darkest ages. But, nevertheless, upon the same principle that the poor aristocracy will condescend to unite themselves occasionally to city wealth, so have these potentates condescended to reign over us.
Mr Vanslyperken received his despatches, and made the best of his way to Amsterdam, where he anchored delivered his credentials, and there waited for the letters of thanks from his Majesty's cousins.
But what a hurry and bustle there appears to be on board of the Yungfrau—Smallbones here, Smallbones there—Corporal Van Spitter pushing to and fro with the dog-trot of an elephant; and even Snarleyyow appears to be unusually often up and down the hatchway. What can it all be about? Oh! Mr Vanslyperken is going on shore to pay his respects and continue his addresses to the widow Vandersloosh. His boat is manned alongside, and he now appears on the cutter's quarter-deck.
Is it possible that this can be Mr Vanslyperken? Heavens, how gay! An uniform certainly does wonders with some people: that is to say, those who do not look well in plain clothes are invariably improved by it; while those who look most like gentlemen in plain clothes, lose in the same proportion. At all events Mr Vanslyperken is wonderfully un proved.
He has a loose pair of blue pantaloons, with boots rising above his knees pulled over them: his lower parts remind you of Charles the Twelfth. He has a long scarlet waistcoat, with large gilt buttons and flap pockets, and his uniform coat over all, of blue turned up with red, has a very commanding appearance. To a broad black belt over his shoulder hangs his cutlass, the sheath of which is mounted with silver, and the hilt of ivory and gold threads; and, above all, his small head is almost dignified by being surmounted with a three-cornered turned-up and gold-banded cocked hat, with one corner of the triangle in front parallel with his sharp nose. Surely, the widow must strike her colours to scarlet, and blue, and gold. But although women are said, like mackerel, to take such baits, still widows are not fond of a man who is as thin as a herring; they are too knowing, they prefer stamina, and will not be persuaded to take the shadow for the substance.
Mr Vanslyperken was, nevertheless, very well pleased with himself, which was something, but still not quite enough on the present occasion; and he strutted the deck with great complacency, gave his final orders to Dick Short, who, as usual, gave a short answer; also to Corporal Van Spitter, who, as usual, received them with all military honour; and, lastly, to Smallbones, who received them with all humility. The lieutenant was about to step into the boat when a doubt arose, and he stopped in his advance, perplexed. It was one of no small importance— was Snarleyyow to accompany him or not? That was the knotty question, and it really was a case which required some deliberation. If he left him on board after the conspiracy which had been formed against him, the dog would probably be overboard before he returned; that is, if Smallbones were also left on board; for Mr Vanslyperken knew that it had been decided that Smallbones alone could and should destroy the dog. He could not, therefore, leave the dog on board with safety; and, as for taking him on shore with him, in that there was much danger, for the widow Vandersloosh had set her face against the dog. No wonder: he had behaved in her parlour as bad as the dog Crab in the Two Gentlemen of Verona; and the Frau was a very clean person, and had no fancy for dogs comparing their legs with those of her polished mahogany chairs and tables. If Mr Vanslyperken's suit was to be decided according to the old adage, "love me, love my dog," he certainly had but a poor chance; for the widow detested the cur, and had insisted that it should never be brought into her house. Take the dog on shore, therefore, he could not; but, thought Mr Vanslyperken, I can take Smallbones on shore, that will do as well. I have some biscuit to dispose of, and he shall go with it and wait till I come off again. Smallbones was, therefore, ordered to put on his hat and step into the boat with two halt bags of biscuit to carry up to the widow's house, for she did a little business with Mr Vanslyperken, as well as allowing him to make love to her; and was never so sweet or so gracious as when closing a bargain. So Mr Vanslyperken waited for Smallbones, who was soon ready, for his best consisted only in a pair of shoes to his usually naked feet, and a hat for his generally uncovered head. And Mr Vanslyperken, and Smallbones, and the biscuit, were in the boat, when Snarleyyow intimated his intention to join the party; but this was refused, and the boat shoved off without him.
As soon as Mr Vanslyperken had shoved off, Dick Short, being in command, thought he might as well give himself leave and go on shore also. So he went down, put on his best, and ordered the other boat to be manned, and leaving Obadiah Coble on board as the next officer, he took with him Jansen, Jemmy Ducks, and four or five others, to have a cruise. Now, as Snarleyyow had this time made up his mind that he would go on shore, and Short was willing to indulge him, for he knew that Smallbones, if he fell in with him would do his best to launch him into one of the canals, so convenient in every street, the cur was permitted to get into the boat, and was landed with the rest of the party, who, as usual, repaired to the Lust Haus of the widow Vandersloosh; where we must leave them for the present, and return to our friend, Mr Vanslyperken.
IN WHICH THE WIDOW LAYS A TRAP FOR MR. VANSLYPERKEN, AND SMALLBONES LAYS A TRAP FOR SNARLEYYOW, AND BOTH BAG THEIR GAME.
The widow Vandersloosh, as we have informed the reader, was the owner of a Lust Haus, or pleasure-house for sailors: we will describe that portion of her tenements more particularly by-and-bye: at present, we must advert to her own private house, which stood adjoining, and had a communication with the Lust Haus by a private door through the party wall. This was a very small, snug little habitation, wit one window in each front, and two stories high; containing a front parlour and kitchen on the basement, two small rooms on the first and two on the second floor. Nothing could be better arranged for a widow's residence. Moreover, she had a back-yard running the whole length of the wall of the Lust Haus in the rear, with convenient offices, and a back-door into the street behind.
Mr Vanslyperken had arrived, paid his humble devoirs to the widow, more humble, because he was evidently pleased with his own person, and had been followed by Smallbones, who laid the biscuit by the scraper at the door, watching it as in duty bound. The lieutenant imagined that he was more graciously received than usual. Perhaps he was, for the widow had not had so much custom lately, and was glad the crew of the cutter were arrived to spend their money. Already had Vanslyperken removed his sword and belt, and laid them with his three-cornered laced hat on the side-table; he was already cosily, as of wont, seated upon the widow's little fubsy sofa, with the lady by his side, and he had just taken her hand and was about to renew his suit, to pour forth the impromptu effusions of his heart, concocted on the quarter-deck of the Yungfrau, when who should bolt into the parlour but the unwelcome Snarleyyow.
"O that nasty brute! Mynheer Vanslyperken, how dare you bring him into my house?" cried the widow, jumping up from the sofa, with her full-moon-face red with anger.
"Indeed, widow," replied Vanslyperken, "I left him on board, knowing that you were not fond of animals; but some one has brought him on shore. However, I'll find out who it was, and keel-haul him in honour of your charms."
"I am fond of animals, Mr Vanslyperken, but I am not fond of such animals as that—such a filthy, ugly, disagreeable, snarling brute; nor can I think how you can keep him after what I have said about it. It don't prove much regard, Mr Vanslyperken, when such a dog as that is kept on purpose to annoy me."
"I assure you, widow—"
"Don't assure me. Mr Vanslyperken, there's no occasion—your dog is your own—but I'll thank you to take him out of this house; and, perhaps, as he won't go without you, you had better go with him."
Now the widow had never spoken so indignantly before: if the reader wishes to know why she did so now we will acquaint him; the widow Vandersloosh had perceived Smallbones, who sat like Patience on a monument, upon the two half bags of biscuit before her porch. It was a query to the widow whether they were to be a present, or an article to be bargained for: it was, therefore, very advisable to pick a quarrel that the matter might be cleared up. The widow's ruse met with all the success which it deserved. In the first place Mr Vanslyperken did what he never would have believed himself capable of, but the wrath of the widow had worked him also up to wrath, and he saluted Snarleyyow with such a kick on the side, as to send him howling into the backyard, followed him out, and, notwithstanding an attempt at defence on the part of the dog, which the lieutenant's high boots rendered harmless, Snarleyyow was fairly or unfairly, as you may please to think it, kicked into an outhouse, the door shut, and the key turned upon him; after which Mr Vanslyperken returned to the parlour, where he found the widow, erect, with her back turned to the stove, blowing and bristling, her bosom heaving, reminding you of seas mountains high, as if she were still under the effect of a just resentment for the affront offered to her. There she stood waiting in all dignity for Mr Vanslyperken to repair the injury done, whether unintentional or not. In few words, there she waited for the biscuit to be presented to her. And it was presented, for Vanslyperken knew no other way of appeasing her wrath. Gradually the storm was allayed—the flush of anger disappeared, the corners of the scornfully-turned-down mouth were turned up again— Cupid's bow was no longer bent in anger, and the widow's bosom slept as when the ocean sleeps, like "an unweaned child." The biscuit bags were brought in by Smallbones, their contents stored, and harmony restored. Once more was Mr Vanslyperken upon the little sofa by the side of the fat widow, and once more did he take her melting hand. Alas! that her heart was not made of the same soft materials.
But we must not only leave Short and his companions in the Lust Haus, but the widow and the lieutenant in their soft dalliance, and now occupy ourselves with the two principal personages of this our drama, Smallbones and Snarleyyow.
When Smallbones had retired, with the empty bread-bags under his arm, he remained some time reflecting at the porch, and then having apparently made up his mind, he walked to a chandler's shop just over the bridge of the canal opposite, and purchased a needle, some strong twine, and a red-herring. He also procured, "without purchase," as they say in our War Office Gazettes, a few pieces of stick. Having obtained all these, he went round to the door of the yard behind the widow's house, and let himself in. Little did Mr Vanslyperken imagine what mischief was brewing, while he was praising and drinking the beer of the widow's own brewing.
Smallbones had no difficulty in finding out where Snarleyyow was confined, for the dog was very busy gnawing his way through the door, which, however, was a work of time, and not yet a quarter accomplished. The place had been a fowl-house, and, at the bottom of the door, there was a small hatch for the ingress and egress of these bipeds, the original invention of some thrifty spinster, to prevent the maids from stealing eggs. But this hatch was closed, or Snarleyyow would have escaped through it. Smallbones took up his quarters in another outhouse, that he might not be observed, and commenced his operations.
He first took out the bottom of one bread-bag, and then sewed that on the other to make it longer; he then ran a string through the mouth, so as to draw it close when necessary, and cut his sticks so as to support it and keep it open. All this being arranged, he went to where Snarleyyow was busy gnawing wood with great pertinacity, and allowed him not only to smell, but to tear off the tail of the red-herring, under the door; and then gradually drew the herring along until he had brought it right under the hatch in the middle, which left it at the precise distance that the dog could snuff it but not reach it, which Snarleyyow now did, in preference to gnawing wood. When you lay a trap, much depends upon the bait; Smallbones knew his enemy's partiality for savoury comestibles. He then brought out his bag, set up his supporters, fixed it close to the hatch, and put the red-herring inside of it. With the string in one hand, he lifted up the hatch with the other. Snarleyyow rushed out and rushed in, and in a moment the strings were drawn, and as soon as drawn were tied tight round the mouth of the bag. Snarleyyow was caught; he tumbled over and over, rolling now to the right and now to the left, while Smallbones grinned with delight. After amusing himself a short time with the evolutions of his prisoner, he dragged him in his bag into the outhouse where he had made his trap, shut the door, and left him. The next object was to remove any suspicion on the part of Mr Vanslyperken; and to effect this, Smallbones tore off the hatch, and broke it in two or three pieces, bit parts of it with his own teeth, and laid them down before the door, making it appear as if the dog had gnawed his own way out. The reason for allowing the dog still to remain in prison, was that Smallbones dared not attempt anything further until it was dark, and there was yet an hour or more to wait for the close of the day.
Smallbones had but just finished his work in time; for the widow having been summoned to her guests in the Lust Haus, had left Vanslyperken alone, and the lieutenant thought this a good opportunity to look after his four-footed favourite, he came out into the yard, where he found Smallbones, and he had his misgivings.
"What are you doing here, sir?"
"Waiting for you, sir," replied Smallbones, humbly.
"And the dog?" said Vanslyperken, observing the strewed fragments of the door hatch.
"He's a-bitten himself out, sir, I believe."
"And where is he then?"
"I don't know, sir; I suppose he's gone down to the boat."
Snarleyyow hearing his master's voice, had commenced a whine, and Smallbones trembled: fortunately, at that moment, the widow's ample form appeared at the back-door of the house, and she called to Mr Vanslyperken. The widow's voice drowned the whine of the dog, and his master did not hear it. At the summons, Vanslyperken but half convinced, but not daring to show any interest about the animal in the presence of his mistress, returned to the parlour, and very soon the dog was forgotten.
But as the orgies in the Lust Haus increased, so did it become more necessary for the widow to make frequent visits there; not only to supply her customers, but to restrain them by her presence: and as the evening wore away, so did the absences of the widow become more frequent. This Vanslyperken well knew, and he therefore always pressed his suit in the afternoon, and as soon as it was dark returned on board. Smallbones, who watched at the back door the movements of his master, perceived that he was refixing his sword-belt over his shoulder, and he knew this to be the signal for departure. It was now quite dark; he therefore hastened to the outhouse, and dragged out Snarleyyow in the bag, swung him over his shoulder, and walked out of the yard-door, proceeded to the canal in front of the widow's house, looked round him, could perceive nobody, and then dragged the bag with its contents into the stagnant water below, just as Mr Vanslyperken, who had bidden adieu to the widow, came out of the house. There was a heavy splash—and silence. Had such been heard on the shores of the Bosphorus on such a night, it would have told some tale of unhappy love and a husband's vengeance; but, at Amsterdam, it was nothing more than the drowning of a cur.
"Who's there—is it Smallbones?" said Mr Vanslyperken.
"Yes, sir," said Smallbones, with alarm.
"What was that noise I heard?"
"Noise, sir? Oh, I kicked a paving-stone into the canal."
"And don't you know there is a heavy fine for that, you scoundrel? And pray where are the bread-bags?"
"The bread-bags, sir? Oh, Mr Short took them to tie up some vegetables in them."
"Mr Short! O, very well. Come along, sir, and no more throwing stones into the canal; why you might have killed somebody—there is a boat down there now, I hear the people talking." And Mr Vanslyperken hastened to his boat, which was waiting for him; anxious to ascertain if Snarleyyow, as he fully expected, was in it. But to his grief and disappointment he was not there, and Mr Vanslyperken sat in the stern sheets, in no pleasant humour, thinking whether it was or was not a paving-stone which Smallbones had thrown into the canal, and resolving that if the dog did not appear, Smallbones should be keel-hauled. There was, however, one more chance, the dog might have been taken on board.
A LONG CHAPTER, IN WHICH THERE IS LAMENTATION, SINGING, BIBBLING, AND DANCING.
It may readily be supposed, that the first question asked by Mr Vanslyperken, on his gaining the quarter-deck, was, if Snarleyyow were on board. He was received with the military salute of Corporal Van Spitter, for Obadiah Coble, having been left commanding officer, had given himself leave, and, with a few men, had joined Bob Short and the first party at the Lust Haus, leaving the corporal as the next senior officer in charge. The answer in the negative was a great mortification to Mr Vanslyperken, and he descended to his cabin in no very good humour, and summoned Smallbones. But before Smallbones was summoned, he had time to whisper to one or two of the conspirators—"He's gone." It was enough; in less than a minute the whisper was passed throughout the cutter. "He's gone," was siffilated above and below, until it met the ears of even Corporal Van Spitter, who had it from a marine, who had it from another marine, who had it from a seaman, who—but it was, however, soon traced up to Smallbones by the indefatigable corporal—who considered it his duty to report the report to Mr Vanslyperken. Accordingly he descended to the cabin and knocked for admission.
In the meantime Vanslyperken had been venting his ill-humour upon Smallbones, having, as he took off from his person, and replaced in his drawers, his unusual finery, administered an unusual quantity of kicks, as well as a severe blow on the head with his sheathed cutlass to the unfortunate lad, who repeated to himself, by way of consolation, the magic words—"He's gone."