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as ours did that evening in running up the jolly-boat that had saved Merry Terry.
The day Merry first came aboard our craft is as fresh in my mind as it was yesterday, and a snug, trim-built little fellow he was, too, as ever broke a biscuit, or went coxswain of a captain's gig. He was then about as old as Rosy Willy here, and much such another; only he was taunter built, and broader in the bows, and carried sail more man-of-war fashion. His eye was as blue as the sea in the tropics, and as bright as the tropic sea sometimes is at night, when it seems all on fire. His head was covered with dark hair, that lay as thick and close as the nap on this monkey-jacket; and his skin was so white and soft, that it always seemed a pity when I saw him standing his watch in the heat of the sun, and his plump little cheeks looking as red as if the blood was going to start right through them. However, he didn't mind it the value of a scupper nail, and I don't know but it did him good, for he grew handsomer as he got a little tanned, and seemed never happier than when he was on duty. He was a little green at first, of course, but there was no such thing as getting the weathergage of Merry, for as sure as an old reefer tried to run a rig on him, he would just cock up his bright blue eye, and see what the other was up to in the turn of a
It was a long cruise that we were together, and Merry got to be as much of a man in size and appearance as any of us, before it was over, though he couldn't have been more than eighteen then. On our arrival in New-York the most of the middies got their walking papers as soon as they could, and made sail each for his home. Merry's connections, who were of Irish descent, lived in Virginia, and it was that way he laid his course, you may be sure. I remember very well the morning when I had the third cutter called away and manned for him; and as we wrung each other's hand at the gangway, neither of us had voice enough to say goodbye. My stomach felt all that day as empty as a midshipman's locker, and the ship seemed as lonesome to me as the old brig Nancy did once, when all hands died off of the yellow fever, and left me and the old tom-cat the only living souls aboard of her.
For about two years after Merriville and me parted, I lost the run of my old shipmate. He continued ashore, but I soon got tired of being cooped up in narrow streets, with no chance of seeing more of the sky than chose to shine between the tops of the dingy houses. Happening to hear that some of my acquaintances were going aboard a ship then fitting out at Boston, I applied for orders myself, and was soon once more where I had a little sea-room to ware and haul upon. That was a short cruise, and by the time twenly
months were up we were all home again, the crew discharged, and I, with my hands in my beckets, spinning street yarn, and having nothing in the world to do.
The next ship I was ordered to was my own name-sake, old Jack Adams; she was lying in Hampton-roads, ready for sea. The first man I met, as I went up the accommodation-ladder, was Merry Terry himself, who stood upon the gang-way-sill to receive me. I knew him at a glance, though he was a good deal altered; and he knew me, too, as soon as his eye rested on my face. Merry was by this time about twenty years of age, or thereabouts, and a finer looking fellow never trod the quarter-deck. He had lately lost both his parents, and this had given a sort of sad expression to his countenance that made him appear handsomer than ever. I soon found that he was the general favourite on board the ship, as indeed he always was, go where he would; and it was expected that before we sailed he would get his parchment from Washington, and mount a swab. An elegant luff he would have made, too, for if ever man knew how to work a ship, it was Merry Terry. When he had the deck, the old craft herself seemed to know it; and no matter what kind of weather we had, she was sure to behave as obedient as a side-boy. I have seen him put her in stays where there wasn't a breaker of water to spare, with rocks both a-head and a-starn, and the wind whizzing round and round, like a bee in a bucket of tar. But when it was "helm's a-lee," and Merry had the trumpet, there was no such thing as missing stays.
I mind I told you a while ago that every body liked Merry Terry, except one man—that man was the skipper. Somehow or other he hated him worse than the devil hates a marine. He used to ride him down like a main tack, would row him on all occasions, and put him on all sorts of disagreeable duty. It was even thought he had clapped a stopper on his promotion. The story among the reefers went that Merry had come athwart captain's hawse in some love affair: but whether that was so or not was mere dead-reckoning, for Merry was as close as an oyster, and never spoke a disrespectful word of his commander. In return for all the abuse he received, he would only curl his lip a little, and look at him dead in the eyes—but such a look as he would sometimes give him! I would rather, for my part, have been on short allowance of grog for a month. Well, things went on in this way for some weeks, till at last sailing orders were given out, and of course there was no more going ashore for the middies. The boats were run up and stowed, the pole to'gallant masts struck, and storm stumps sent up in their place; all hands were called to unmoor, and we even hove short, so as to be ready to trip and be off, whenever word should come from the cabin to that effect. When all this was done, the captain sent up an order to have his gig lowered away and manned, and directly after came on deck himself in a full rig of citizen's toggs. Merry Terry stood in the gangway, leaning over the hammock cloth, when he heard the boatswain's mate pipe away the gigs, and as the familiar sound struck his ear, I noticed that he started and turned pale. It was a glorious night—much such an evening as this, only later, about two or three bells in the first watch, I think. As the captain passed over the gangway he gave a peculiar kind of a look at Merry—something like what a monkey would at a marine after stealing his pipe-clay—and then turning round to the first luff, he said—" Remember, Mr Orlop, that you are under sailing-orders, and that no one must leave the ship on any pretence." As he spoke this he turned another malicious glance at Merry out of the corner of his eye, and jumping into the stern sheets of the gig, ordered the men to let fall and give way.
As long as the sound of the oars in the rowlocks could be heard, Merry stood as still as a stock-fish, his eye following the wake of the boat till it was lost in the haze of distance. When he could neither hear nor see it any longer, he began to walk about as wild as the devil in a gale of wind; and the reefers, who would gladly have done any thing they could to soothe him, saw clear enough that it wasn't a matter for them to meddle with. In the midst of his agitation, a shore-boat came alongside, the waterman in which handed a note up to the middy that went to the gangway to receive it, and immediately shoved off again. The note, of course, was given to the officer of the deck, according to man-of-war fashion, and he being a stately, pompous sort of fellow, took his own time to send one of the side-boys for a lantern. When the glim came up, he walked to the fife-rail, and looking at the superscription discovered that the note was for Merry Terry. The latter, on learning this, eagerly extended his hand for it, and tearing it open, rapidly devoured the contents; then rushing to the gangway, he would have sprung into the shore-boat which he hoped was still alongside; but during the officer of the deck's delay it had already got far beyond hailing distance. Three or four times Merry paced up and down the deck in violent agitation, his lip as white and quivering as a jib in the wind, and his eyes shining like the top-glim of a Commodore's ship. All at once he walked right up to the first luff, who was standing abaft, leaning on the taffrel, and in a voice that seemed to come from the cable-tier, it was so hoarse and deep, he said. u Mr Orlop, 1 must go ashore to-night." "You cannot, Mr Terry, you heard the captain's orders." "Damn the captain!" (It was the first word I ever heard Merry swear, though he and I had been messmates going on five years.) "Mr Terry, you forget yourself 1" answered the first luff, in a firm, yet mild tone. "If you use such language, sir, you will force me to a disagreeable exercise of my duty." "I mean no disrespect to you Mr Orlop," said Merry, partly recollecting himself; "but I am half distracted. If you will lend me your ear, sir, in a more private part of the ship, I will relate to you what may perhaps change your notions of duty."
Mr Orlop was one of that class of officers who, to the knowledge and skill of an able seaman, added the feelings and address of a perfect gentleman. He, as well as every body else on board, had seen, and felt indignant at the treatment Merry received at the captain's hands; and some of the whispers respecting the cause had also reached him. Perceiving that poor Merry was now uncommonly agitated, and fearing that he might commit some indiscretion which would oblige him to exert unpleasant authority, he readily complied with his request, and led the way to his own stateroom.
The conference, whatever was its nature, was of short duration; but while it lasted, many a curious glance was cast towards the state-room door, and—I'm most ashamed to own it—many a listening ear was inclined towards the bulk-head. There was little satisfaction got that way, howsomever, for nothing was heard but a low, humming sound, now and then broken by a muttered curse in Mr Orlop's voice; and terminated at last by a sudden exclamation of that gentleman, loud enough for the whole steerage, and birthdeck into the bargain, to hear. "Enough, Mr Terry, enough I" cried he. "You shall have it—if it costs me my commission, you shall have it! There is a point where obedience becomes a crime. When military discipline conflicts with the principles of honour, I will be the first to set an example of insubordination."
As he spoke thus, the door of the state-room was thrown violently open, and the two officers issued suddenly to view. The cheek and lips of Merry were still pale and quivering while the face of the other was flushed with a deep red. They both ran rapidly up the companion-ladder, Mr Orlop, at the same moment, calling out to me—" Mr Palmer," said he, " call the boatswain, and order him to get out the first cutter immediately. Do you attend yourself, sir, on the birth-deck, and start up all the men!"
By this time, his foot was on the top step of the ladder. As soon as his head was fairly above the combings of the hatch, he began again: "Boatswain's mate!" "Sir!" sung out old Reuben James, in his peculiar drawl. "Call away the first cutters, and do you stand by and see to getting up the yard-tackles.—Captain of the fo'castle, there!" "Sir!" bawled the captain of both starboard and larboard watch, at once, startled at the loud earnestness of the first lieutenant's voice. "Lay aloft, and stand by to get your yardtackles on the fore-yard!—Quarter gunners, do you hear? do you do the same on the main!—Foretop, there! out on the yard with you, and send down a whip for the yard-tackle block!" "Ay, ay, sir!" promptly responded a voice from the foretop; and with these and similar orders and replies,intermixed with the shrill pipings of the boatswain and his mates, the spar-deck now resounded for several minutes. By the end of that time the cutter was hoisted out, and brought to at the gangway. She was no sooner there than Merry Terry sprang down the side, and the crew after, who, though they wondered as much as all the rest of us, officers and men, how all this was going to end, yet seeing they would oblige their favourite by moving lively, shoved off and had up their oars in the crossing of a royal. "Mr Terry," cried the first lieutenant, "remember your word of honour that you will return to-night, provided you find or make all safe!" "Upon my honour," answered Merry, laying his hand on his heart: then turning quickly to the men, "give way!" and as long as we could hear him, he kept saying every now and then, " give way, my hearties, give way—pull with a will," and such like.
And they did give way, too. They were a set of as stout oarsmen as ever manned a frigate's first cutter; but they never showed themselves afore as they did that night. The boat fairly jumped out of the water every clip, and the foam that she dashed off from her bows formed a long white streak in her wake, as bright and dazzling as the trail of a Congreve rocket You may think it wasn't many minutes before they reached the shore, going at that rate as if the devil had sent 'em an end. Merry steered her right head on, and never cried "rowed of all," till she struck the sandy beach with such force that she ran up high and dry, pitching the two bow oarsmen who had got up to fend off, about half a cable's length from her. At the first grating of the keel upon the gravel, he leaped ashore, and without stopping to say one word to the men, darted off like a wounded porpoise, running with all speed up the bank. For two or three minutes, the boat's crew looked at each other with their eyes stretched wide open, like the mouth of a dying fish, as much as to say what the devil's all this? At length they began to consult together in a low, grumbling tone, as they were afraid to hear themselves speak, and Bill Williams, who was coxswain of the cutter, was the first to offer a suggestion that met the approval of the rest. "Damn my chain-plates," said he, "only hark how his feet go, clatter-clatter-clatter, as fast as the flopping of a jib-sheet in the wind. I'm fear'd, my hearties, that Mr Terry's runnin' 'mongst