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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 eume 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 tafl'rel, and in a voice that seemed to come from the cable-tier, it was so hoarse and deep, he said. "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!" 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 ol the fo'castle, there l" "Sir!" bawled the captain of both starboard at
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 the breakers, and if you'll stay by the boat, I'll give chase—and, If so needs be, lend him a lift."
The proposal of the honest coxswain was relished by all, and he accordingly set off in the same direction that his young officer had taken. But Bill Williams, though he could run about a ship's rigging, like a monkey in mischief, was no match for Merry in a land chase. His sea-legs wasn't used to such business, and he went pitching and heaving a-head like a Dutch lugger afore the wind, and seemed, at every step, to be watching for the weather roll.
In the mean time, Merry linked it off like a Baltimore clipper going large. He had proceeded perhaps about a mile from the boat, along the road which he had struck into directly after leaving the beach, and instead of shortening sail, appeared to be crowding more and more canvass all the time, when, all of a sudden, he luffed up and hove to, on hearing the clatter of an approaching carriage. The noise of the wheels sounded nearer and nearer, as they came rattling along over the rough road, and it wasn't long before the quick trampling of the horses' feet, and the clicking of their shoes against the stones, indicated that they were near at hand. The place where Merry had paused was about midway of a steep hill, and if he had chosen a spot it couldn't have been better suited to his purpose. The road, which had been rough and uneven from the first, was at this point broken into deep gullies by recent heavy rains, rendering, apart from the difficulty of the ascent, extreme caution necessary in passing with a vehicle. On one side, a steep wooded bank rose to a considerable height, and on the other, the surface of the ground gradually descended to the water, whiiJi was not quite excluded from view by a few scattering trees that occupied the intermediate space. Behind one of these trees, that grew close to the road-side, and threw a deep shadow over it, Merry, gritting and grinding his teeth, crouched down, like a young shark watching for his prey. The carriage had already gained the foot of the hill, and was slowly labouring up, when a deep gruff voice cried out to the driver from within, bidding him drive faster. At the sound of that voice, Merry's eyes fairly flashed fire. The black, with instinctive obedience, cracked his whip, and was about to make a more effectual application of it, when a figure suddenly sprang from the road side, and seizing the reins, commanded him to halt! The command, however, was scarcely necessary. The jaded horses had reached a short level stage in the ascent, and not even the sound of the whip had elicited any indication that they intended shortly to leave it. Merry, with a sailor's quick eye perceiving this favourable circumstance, in an instant was at the side of the car-