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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHomeward Bound; Or, The Chase: A Tale Of The Sea - Chapter 15
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Homeward Bound; Or, The Chase: A Tale Of The Sea - Chapter 15 Post by :kiranb Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :2758

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Homeward Bound; Or, The Chase: A Tale Of The Sea - Chapter 15

Chapter XV

Steph.--His forward voice now is to speak well
of his friend; his backward voice is to utter
foul speeches, and to detract.

TEMPEST


The situation of the Montauk appeared more desolate than ever, after the departure of so many of her passengers. So long as her decks were thronged there was an air of life about her, that served to lessen disquietude, but now that she was left by all in the steerage, and by so many in the cabins, those who remained began to entertain livelier apprehensions of the future. When the upper sails of the store-ship sunk as a speck in the ocean, Mr. Effingham regretted that he, too, had not overcome his reluctance to a crowded and inconvenient cabin, and gone on board her, with his own party. Thirty years before he would have thought himself fortunate in finding so good a ship, and accommodations so comfortable; but habit and indulgence change all our opinions, and he had now thought it next to impossible to place Eve and Mademoiselle Viefville in a situation that was so common to those who travelled by sea at the commencement of the century.

Most of the cabin passengers, as has just been stated, decided differently, none remaining but the Effinghams and their party, Mr. Sharp, Mr. Blunt, Sir George Templemore, Mr. Dodge, and Mr. Monday. Mr. Effingham had been influenced by the superior comforts of the packet, and his hopes that a speedy arrival at the islands would enable the ship to refit, in time to reach America almost as soon as the dull-sailing vessel which had just left them. Mr. Sharp and Mr. Blunt had both expressed a determination to share his fortunes, which was indirectly saying that they would share the fortunes of his daughter. John Effingham remained, as a matter of course, though he had made a proposition to the stranger to tow them into port, an arrangement that failed in consequence of the two captains disagreeing as to the course proper to be steered, as well as to a more serious obstacle in the way of compensation, the stranger throwing out some pretty plain hints about salvage; and Mr. Monday staying from an inveterate attachment to the steward's stores, more of which, he rightly judged, would now fall to his share than formerly.

Sir George Templemore had gone on board the store-ship, and had given some very clear demonstrations of an intention to transfer himself and the thirty-six pair of breeches to that vessel; but on examining her comforts, and particularly the confined place in which he should be compelled to stow himself and his numerous curiosities, he was unequal to the sacrifice. On the other hand, he knew an entire state-room would now fall to his share, and this self-indulged and feeble-minded young man preferred his immediate comfort, and the gratification of his besetting weakness, to his safety.

As for Mr. Dodge, he had the American mania of hurry, and was one of the first to propose a general swarming, as soon as it was known the stranger could receive them. During the night, he had been actively employed in fomenting a party to "resolve" that prudence required the Montauk should be altogether abandoned, and even after this scheme failed, he had dwelt eloquently in corners (Mr. Dodge was too meek, and too purely democratic, ever to speak aloud, unless under the shadow of public opinion,) on the propriety of Captain Truck's yielding his own judgment to that of the majority. He might as well have scolded against the late gale, in the expectation of out-railing the tempest, as to make such an attempt on the firm-set notions of the old seaman concerning his duty; for no sooner was the thing intimated to him than he growled a denial in a tone that he was little accustomed to use to his passengers, and one that effectually silenced remonstrance. When these two plans had failed, Mr. Dodge endeavoured strenuously to show Sir George that his interests and safety were on the side of a removal; but with all his eloquence, and with the hold that incessant adulation had actually given him on the mind of the other, he was unable to overcome his love of ease, and chiefly the passion for the enjoyment of the hundred articles of comfort and curiosity in which the baronet so much delighted. The breeches might have been packed in a trunk, it is true, and so might the razors, and the dressing-case, and the pistols, and most of the other things; but Sir George loved to look at them daily, and as many as possible were constantly paraded before his eyes.

To the surprise of every one, Mr. Dodge, on finding it impossible to prevail on Sir George Templemore to leave the packet, suddenly announced his own intention to remain also. Few stopped to inquire into his motives in the hurry of such a moment. To his room-mate he affirmed that the strong friendship he had formed for him, could alone induce him to relinquish the hope of reaching home previously to the autumn elections.

Nor did Mr. Dodge greatly colour the truth in making this statement. He was an American demagogue precisely in obedience to those feelings and inclinations which would have made him a courtier any where else. It is true, he had travelled, or thought he had travelled, in a _diligence with a countess or two, but from these he had been obliged to separate early on account of the force of things; while here he had got a _bona-fide English baronet all to himself, in a confined state-room, and his imagination revelled in the glory and gratification of such an acquaintance. What were the proud and distant Effinghams to Sir George Templemore! He even ascribed their reserve with the baronet to envy, a passion of whose existence he had very lively perceptions, and he found a secret charm in being shut up in so small an apartment with a man who could excite envy in an Effingham. Rather than abandon his aristocratical prize, therefore, whom he intended to exhibit to all his democratic friends in his own neighbourhood, Mr. Dodge determined to abandon his beloved hurry, looking for his reward in the future pleasure of talking of Sir George Templemore and his curiosities, and of his sayings and his jokes, in the circle at home. Odd, moreover, as it may seem, Mr. Dodge had an itching desire to remain with the Effinghams; for while he was permitting jealousy and a consciousness of inferiority to beget hatred, he was willing at any moment to make peace, provided it could be done by a frank admission into their intimacy. As to the innocent family that was rendered of so much account to the happiness of Mr. Dodge, it seldom thought of that individual at all, little dreaming of its own importance in his estimation, and merely acted in obedience to its own cultivated tastes and high principles in disliking his company. It fancied itself, in this particular, the master of its own acts, and this so much the more, that with the reserve of good-breeding its members seldom indulged in censorious personal remarks, and never in gossip.

As a consequence of these contradictory feelings of Mr. Dodge, and of the fastidiousness of Sir George Templemore, the interest her two admirers took in Eve, the devotion of Mr. Monday to sherry and champaigne, and the decision of Mr. Effingham, these persons therefore remained the sole occupants of the cabins of the Montauk. Of the _oi polloi who had left them, we have hitherto said nothing, because this separation was to remove them entirely from the interest of our incidents.

If we were to say that Captain Truck did not feel melancholy as the store-ship sunk beneath the horizon, we should represent that stout-hearted mariner as more stoical than he actually was. In the course of a long and adventurous professional life, he had encountered calamities before, but he had never before been compelled to call in assistance to deliver his passengers at the stipulated port, since he had commanded a packet. He felt the necessity, in the present instance, as a sort of stain upon his character as a seaman, though in fact the accident which had occurred was chiefly to be attributed to a concealed defect in the mainmast. The honest master sighed often, smoked nearly double the usual number of cigars in the course of the afternoon, and when the sun went down gloriously in the distant west, he stood gazing at the sky in melancholy silence, as long as any of the magnificent glory that accompanies the decline of day lingered among the vapours of the horizon. He then summoned Saunders to the quarter-deck, where the following dialogue took place between them:

"This is a devil of a category to be in, Master Steward!"

"Well, he might be better, sir. I only wish the good butter may endure until we get in."

"If it fail, I shall go nigh to see you clapt into the State's prison, or at least into that Gothic cottage on Blackwell's Island."

"There is an end to all things, Captain Truck, if you please, sir, even to butter. I presume, sir, Mr. Vattel, if he know anything of cookery, will admit that."

"Harkee, Saunders, if you ever insinuate again that Vattel belonged to the coppers, in my presence, I'll take the liberty to land you on the coast here, where you may amuse yourself in stewing young monkeys for your own dinner. I saw you aboard the other ship, sir, overhauling her arrangements; what sort of a time will the gentlemen be likely to have in her?"

"Atrocious, sir! I give you my honour, as a real gentleman, sir. Why, would you believe it, Captain Truck, the steward is a downright nigger, and he wears ear-rings, and a red flannel shirt, without the least edication. As for the cook, sir, he wouldn't pass an examination for Jemmy Ducks aboard here, and there is but one camboose, and one set of coppers."

"Well, the steerage-passengers, in that case, will fare as well as the cabin."

"Yes, sir, and the cabin as bad as the steerage; and for my part, I abomernate liberty and equality."

"You should converse with Mr. Dodge on that subject, Master Saunders, and let the hardest fend off in the argument. May I inquire, sir, if you happen to remember the day of the week?"

"Beyond controversy, sir; to-morrow will be Sunday, Captain Truck, and I think it a thousand pities we have not an opportunity to solicit the prayers and praises of the church, sir, in our behalf, sir."

"If to-morrow will be Sunday, to-day must be Saturday, Mr. Saunders, unless this last gale has deranged the calendar."

"Quite naturally, sir, and werry justly remarked. Every body admits there is no better navigator than Captain Truck, sir."

"This may be true, my honest fellow," returned the captain moodily, after making three or four heavy puffs on the cigar; "but I am sadly out of my road down here in the country of your amiable family, just now. If this be Saturday, there will be a Saturday night before long, and look to it, that we have our 'sweethearts and wives.' Though I have neither myself, I feel the necessity of something cheerful, to raise my thoughts to the future."

"Depend on my discretion, sir, and I rejoice to hear you say it; for I think, sir, a ship is never so respectable and genteel as when she celebrates all the anniwersaries. You will be quite a select and agreeable party to-night, sir."

With this remark Mr. Saunders withdrew, to confer with Toast on the subject, and Captain Truck proceeded to give his orders for the night to Mr. Leach. The proud ship did indeed present a sight to make a seaman melancholy; for to the only regular sail that stood, the foresail, by this time was added a lower studding-sail, imperfectly rigged, and which would not resist a fresh puff, while a very inartificial jury-topmast supported a topgallant-sail, that could only be carried in a free wind. Aft, preparations were making of a more permanent nature, it is true. The upper part of the mainmast had been cut away, as low as the steerage-deck where an arrangement had been made to step a spare topmast. The spar itself was lying on the deck rigged, and a pair of sheers were in readiness to be hoisted, in order to sway it up; but night approaching, the men had been broken off, to rig the yards, bend the sails, and to fit the other spars it was intended to use, postponing the last act, that of sending all up, until morning.

"We are likely to have a quiet night of it," said the captain, glancing his eyes round at the heavens; "and at eight o'clock to-morrow let all hands be called, when we will turn-to with a will, and make a brig of the old hussey. This topmast will do to bear the strain of the spare main-yard, unless there come another gale, and by reefing the new mainsail we shall be able to make something out of it. The topgallant-mast will fit of course above, and we may make out, by keeping a little free, to carry the sail: at need, we may possibly coax the contrivance into carrying a studding-sail also. We have sticks for no more, though we'll endeavour to get up something aft, out of the spare spars obtained from the store-ship. You may knock off at four bells, Mr. Leach, and let the poor fellows have their Saturday's night in peace. It is a misfortune enough to be dismasted, without having one's grog stopped."

The mate of course obeyed, and the evening shut in beautifully and placid, with all the glory of a mild night, in a latitude as low as that they were in. They who have never seen the ocean under such circumstances, know little of its charms in its moments of rest. The term of sleeping is well applied to its impressive stillness, for the long sluggish swells on which the ship rose and fell, hardly disturbed its surface. The moon did not rise until midnight, and Eve, accompanied by Mademoiselle Viefville and most of her male companions, walked the deck by the bright starlight, until fatigued with pacing their narrow bounds.

The song and the laugh rose frequently from the forecastle, where the crew were occupied with their Saturday night; and occasionally a rude sentiment in the way of a toast was heard. But weariness soon got the better of merriment forward, and the hard-worked mariners, who had the watch below, soon went down to their berths, leaving those whose duty it was to remain to doze away the long hours in such places as they could find on deck.

"A white squall," said Captain Truck, looking up at the uncouth sails that hardly impelled the vessel a mile in the hour through the water, "would soon furl all our canvas for us, and we are in the very place for such an interlude."

"And what would then become of us?" asked Mademoiselle Viefville quickly.

"You had better ask what would become of that apology for a topsail, mam'selle, and yonder stun'sail, which looks like an American in London without straps to his pantaloons. The canvas would play kite, and we should be left to renew our inventions. A ship could scarcely be in better plight than we are at this moment, to meet with one of these African flurries."

"In which case, captain," observed Mr. Monday, who stood by the skylight watching the preparations below, "we can go to our Saturday-night without fear; for I see the steward has everything ready, and the punch looks very inviting, to say nothing of the champaigne."

"Gentlemen, we will not forget our duty," returned the captain; "we are but a small family, and so much the greater need that we should prove a jolly one. Mr. Effingham, I hope we are to have the honour of your company at 'sweethearts and wives.'"

Mr. Effingham had no wife, and the invitation coming under such peculiar circumstances, produced a pang that Eve, who felt his arm tremble, well understood. She mildly intimated her intention to go below however; the whole party followed, and lucky it was for the captain's entertainment that she quitted the deck, as few would otherwise have been present at it. By pressing the passengers to favour him with their company, he succeeded in the course of a few minutes in getting all the gentlemen seated at the cabin-table, with a glass of delicious punch before each man.

"Mr. Saunders may not be a conjuror or a mathematician, gentlemen," cried Captain Truck, as he ladled out the beverage; "but he understands the philosophy of sweet and sour, strong and weak; and I will venture to praise his liquor without tasting it. Well, gentlemen, there are better-rigged ships on the ocean than this of ours; but there are few with more comfortable cabins, or stouter hulls, or better company. Please God we can get a few sticks aloft again, now that we are quit of our troublesome shadow, I think I may flatter myself with a reasonable hope of landing you, that do me the honour to stand by me, in New York, in less time than a common drogger would make the passage, with his legs and arms. Let our first toast be, if you please: A happy end to that which has had a disastrous beginning.'"

Captain Truck's hard face twitched a little while he was making this address, and as he swallowed the punch, his eyes glistened in spite of himself. Mr. Dodge, Sir George, and Mr. Monday repeated the sentiment sonorously, word for word, while the other gentlemen bowed, and drank it in silence.

The commencement of a regular scene of merriment is usually dull and formal, and it was some time before Captain Truck could bring any of his companions up to the point where he wished to see them; for though a perfectly sober man, he loved a social glass, and particularly at those times and seasons which conformed to the practice of his calling. Although Eve and her governess had declined taking their seats at the table, they consented to place themselves where they might be seen, and where they might share occasionally in the conversation.

"Here have I been drinking sweethearts and wives of a Saturday-night, my dear young lady, these forty years and more," said Captain Truck, after the party had sipped their liquor for a minute or two, "without ever falling into luck's latitude, or furnishing myself with either; but, though so negligent of my own interests and happiness, I make it an invariable rule to advise all my young friends to get spliced before they are thirty. Many is the man who has come aboard my ship a determined bachelor in his notions, who has left it at the end of the passage ready to marry the first pretty young woman he fell in with."

As Eve had too much of the self-respect of a lady, and of the true dignity of her sex, to permit jokes concerning matrimony, or a treatise on love, to make a part of her conversation, and all the gentlemen of her party understood her character too well, to say nothing of their own habits, to second this attempt of the captain's, after a vapid remark or two from the others, this rally of the honest mariner produced no _suites_.

"Are we not unusually low, Captain Truck," inquired Paul Blunt, with a view to change the discourse, "not to have fallen in with the trades? I have commonly met with those winds on this coast as high as twenty-six or twenty seven, and I believe you observed to-day, in twenty-four."

Captain Truck looked hard at the speaker, and when he had done, he nodded his head in approbation.

"You have travelled this road before, Mr. Blunt, I perceive. I have suspected you of being a brother chip, from the moment I saw you first put your foot on the side-cleets in getting out of the boat. You did not come aboard parrot-toed, like a country-girl waltzing; but set the ball of the foot firmly on the wood, and swung off the length of your arms, like a man who knows how to humour the muscles. Your present remark, too, shows you understand where a ship ought to be, in order to be in her right place. As for the trades, they are a little uncertain, like a lady's mind when she has more than one good offer; for I've known them to blow as high as thirty, and then again, to fail a vessel as low as twenty-three, or even lower. It is my private opinion, gentlemen, and I gladly take this opportunity to make it public, that we are on the edge of the trades, or in those light baffling winds which prevail along their margin, as eddies play near the track of strong steady currents in the ocean. If we can force the ship fairly out of this trimming region--that is the word, I believe, Mr. Dodge--we shall do well enough; for a north-east, or an east wind, would soon send us up with the islands, even under the rags we carry. We are very near the coast, certainly--much nearer than I could wish; but when we do get the good breeze, it will be all the better for us, as it will find us well to windward."

"But these trades, Captain Truck?" asked Eve: "if they always blow in the same direction, how is it possible that the late gale should drive a ship into the quarter of the ocean where they prevail?"

"Always, means sometimes, my dear young lady. Although light winds prevail near the edge of the trades, gales and tremendous fellows too, sometimes blow there also, as we have just seen. I think we shall now have settled weather, and that our chance of a safe arrival, more particularly in some southern American port, is almost certain, though our chance for a speedy arrival be not quite as good I hope before twenty-four hours are passed, to see our decks white with sand.

"Is that a phenomenon seen here?" asked the father.

"Often, Mr. Effingham, when ships are close in with Africa, and are fairly in the steady winds. To say the truth, the country abreast of us, some twenty or thirty miles distant, is not the most inviting; and though it may not be easy to say where the garden of Eden is, it is no hazardous to say it is not there."

"If we are so very near the coast, why do we not see it?"

"Perhaps we might from aloft, if we had any aloft just now. We are to the southward of the mountains, however, and off a part of the country where the Great Desert makes from the coast. And now, gentlemen, I perceive Mr. Monday finds all this sand arid, and I ask permission to give you, one and all, 'Sweethearts and wives.'"

Most of the company drank the usual toast with spirit, though both the Effinghams scarce wetted their lips. Eve stole a timid glance at her father, and her own eyes were filled with tears as she withdrew them; for she knew that every allusion of this nature revived in him mournful recollections. As for her cousin Jack, he was so confirmed a bachelor that she thought nothing of his want of sympathy with such a sentiment.

"You must have a care for your heart, in America, Sir George Templemore," cried Mr. Dodge, whose tongue loosened with the liquor he drank. "Our ladies are celebrated for their beauty, and are immensely popular, I can assure you."

Sir George looked pleased, and it is quite probable his thoughts ran on the one particular vestment of the six-and-thirty, in which he ought to make his first appearance in such a society.

"I allow the American ladies to be handsome," said Mr. Monday; "but I think no Englishman need be in any particular danger of his heart from such a cause, after having been accustomed to the beauty of his own island. Captain Truck, I have the honour to drink your health."

"Fairly said," cried the captain, bowing to the compliment; "and I ascribe my own hard fortune to the fact that I have been kept sailing between two countries so much favoured in this particular, that I have never been able to make up my mind which to prefer. I have wished a thousand times there was but one handsome woman in the world, when a man would have nothing to do but fall in love with her; and make up his mind to get married at once, or to hang himself."

"That is a cruel wish to us men," returned Sir George, "as we should be certain to quarrel for the beauty."

"In such a case," resumed Mr. Monday, "we common men would have to give way to the claims of the nobility and gentry, and satisfy ourselves with plainer companions; though an Englishman loves his independence, and might rebel. I have the honour to drink your health and happiness, Sir George."

"I protest against your principle, Mr. Monday," said Mr. Dodge, "which is an invasion on human rights. Perfect freedom of action is to be maintained in this matter as in all others. I acknowledge that the English ladies are extremely beautiful, but I shall always maintain the supremacy of the American fair."

"We will drink their healths, sir. I am far from denying their beauty, Mr. Dodge, but I think you must admit that they fade earlier than our British ladies. God bless them both, however, and I empty this glass to the two entire nations, with all my heart and soul."

"Perfectly polite, Mr. Monday; but as to the fading of the ladies, I am not certain that I can yield an unqualified approbation to your sentiment."

"Nay, sir, your climate, you will allow, is none of the best, and it wears out constitutions almost as fast as your states make them."

"I hope there is no real danger to be apprehended from the climate," said Sir George: "I particularly detest bad climates; and for that reason have always made it a rule never to go into Lincolnshire."

"In that case, Sir George, you had better have stayed at home. In the way of climate, a man seldom betters himself by leaving old England. Now this is the tenth time I've been in America, allowing that I ever reach there, and although I entertain a profound respect for the country, I find myself growing older every time I quit it. Mr. Effingham, I do myself the favour to drink to your health and happiness."

"You live too well when amongst us, Mr. Monday," said the captain; "there are too many soft crabs, hard clams, and canvas-backs; too much old Madeira, and generous Sherry, for a man of your well-known taste to resist them. Sit less time at table, and go oftener to church this trip, and let us hear your report of the consequences a twelve-month hence."

"You quite mistake my habits, Captain Truck, I give you my honour. Although a judicious eater, I seldom take anything that is compounded, being a plain roast and boiled man; a true old-fashioned Englishman in this respect, satisfying my appetite with solid beef and mutton, and turkey, and pork, and puddings and potatoes, and turnips and carrots, and similar simple food; and then I _never drink.--Ladies, I ask the honour to be permitted to wish you a happy return to your native countries.--I ascribe all the difficulty, sir, to the climate, which will not permit a man to digest properly."

"Well, Mr. Monday, I subscribe to most of your opinions, and I believe few men cross the ocean together that are more harmonious in sentiment, in general, than has proved to be the case between you and Sir George, and myself," observed Mr. Dodge, glancing obliquely and pointedly at the rest of the party, as if he thought they were in a decided minority; "but in this instance, I feel constrained to record my vote in the negative. I believe America has as good a climate, and as good general digestion as commonly falls to the lot of mortals: more than this I do not claim for the country, and less than this I should be reluctant to maintain. I have travelled a little, gentlemen, not as much, perhaps, as the Messrs. Effinghams; but then a man can see no more than is to be seen, and I do affirm, Captain Truck, that in my poor judgment, which I know is good for nothing--"

"Why do you use it, then?" abruptly asked the straight-forward captain; "why not rely on a better?"

"We must use such as we have, or go without, sir; and I suspect, in my very poor judgment, which is probably poorer than that of most others on board, that America is a very good sort of a country. At all events, after having seen something of other countries, and governments, and people, I am of opinion that America, as a country, is quite good enough for me."

"You never said truer words, Mr. Dodge, and I beg you will join Mr. Monday and myself in a fresh glass of punch, just to help on the digestion. You have seen more of human nature than your modesty allows you to proclaim, and I dare say this company would be gratified if you would overcome all scruples, and let us know your private opinions of the different people you have visited. Tell us something of that _dittur you made on the Rhine."

"Mr. Dodge intends to publish, it is to be hoped!" observed Mr. Sharp, "and it may not be fair to anticipate his matter."

"I beg, gentlemen, you will have no scruples on that score, for my work will be rather philosophical and general, than of the particular nature of private anecdotes. Saunders, hand me the manuscript journal you will find on the shelf of our state-room, next to Sir George's patent tooth-pick case. This is the book; and now, gentlemen and ladies, I beg you to remember that these are merely the ideas as they arose, and not my more mature reflections."

"Take a little punch, sir," interrupted the captain, again, whose hard nor'-west face was set in the most demure attention. "There is nothing like punch to clear the voice, Mr. Dodge; the acid removes the huskiness, the sugar softens the tones, the water mellows the tongue, and the Jamaica braces the muscles. With a plenty of punch, a man soon gets to be another--I forget the name of that great orator of antiquity,--it wasn't Vattel, however."

"You mean Demosthenes, sir; and, gentlemen, I beg you to remark that this orator was a republican: but there can be no question that liberty is favourable to the encouragement of all the higher qualities. Would you prefer a few notes on Paris, ladies, or shall I commence with some extracts about the Rhine?"

"_Oh! de grace, Monsieur_, be so very kind as not to overlook _Paris_!" said Mademoiselle Viefville.

Mr. Dodge bowed graciously, and turning over the leaves of his private journal, he alighted in the heart of the great city named. After some preliminary hemming, he commenced reading in a grave didactic tone, that sufficiently showed the value he had attached to his own observations.

"'_Dejjuned at ten, as usual, an hour, that I find exceedingly unreasonable and improper, and one that would meet with general disapprobation in America. I do not wonder that a people gets to be immoral and depraved in their practices, who keep such improper hours. The mind acquires habits of impurity, and all the sensibilities become blunted, by taking the meals out of the natural seasons. I impute much of the corruption of France to the periods of the day in which the food is taken--'"

"_Voila une drole d'idee!_" ejaculated Mademoiselle Viefville.

"'--In which food is taken," repeated Mr. Dodge, who fancied the involuntary exclamation was in approbation of the justice of his sentiments. 'Indeed the custom of taking wine at this meal, together with the immorality of the hour, must be chief reasons why the French ladies are so much in the practice of drinking to excess'"

"_Mais, monsieur!_"

"You perceive, mademoiselle calls in question the accuracy of your facts," observed Mr. Blunt, who, in common with all the listeners, Sir George and Mr. Monday excepted, began to enjoy a scene which at first had promised nothing but _ennui and disgust.

"I have it on the best authority, I give you my honour, or I would not introduce so grave a charge in a work of his contemplated importance. I obtained my information from an English gentleman who has resided twelve years in Paris; and he informs me that a very large portion of the women of fashion in that capital, let them belong to what country they will, are dissipated."

"_A la bonne heure, monsieur!--mais_, to drink, it is very different."

"Not so much so, mademoiselle, as you imagine," rejoined John Effingham. "Mr. Dodge is a purist in language as well as in morals, and he uses terms differently from us less-instructed prattlers. By dissipated, he understands a drunkard."

"_Comment!_"

"Certainly; Mr. John Effingham, I presume, will at least give us the credit in America in speaking our language better than any other known people. 'After dejjunying, took a _phyacre and rode to the palace, to see the king and royal family leave for Nully.--'"

"_Pour ou_?"

"_Pour Neuilly, mademoiselle_," Eve quietly answered.

"'--For Nully. His majesty went on horseback, preceding his illustrious family and all the rest of the noble party, dressed in a red coat, laced with white on the seams, wearing blue breeches and a cocked hat.'"

"_Ciel!_"

"'I made the king a suitable republican reverence as he passed, which he answered with a gracious smile, and a benignant glance of his royal eye. The Hon. Louis Philippe Orleans, the present sovereign of the French, is a gentleman of portly and commanding appearance, and in his state attire, which he wore on this occasion, looks 'every inch a king.' He rides with grace and dignity, and sets an example of decorum and gravity to his subjects, by the solemnity of his air, that it is to be hoped will produce a beneficial and benign influence during this reign, on the manners of the nation. His dignity was altogether worthy of the schoolmaster of Haddonfield.'"

"_Par exemple!_"

"Yes, mam'selle, in the way of example, it is that I mean. Although a pure democrat, and every way opposed to exclusion, I was particularly struck with the royalty of his majesty's demeanour, and the great simplicity of his whole deportment. I stood in the crowd next to a very accomplished countess, who spoke English, and she did me the honour to invite me to pay her a visit at her hotel, in the vicinity of the Bourse."

"_Mon Dieu--mon Dieu--mon Dieu!_"

"After promising my fair companion to be punctual, I walked as far as Notter Dam--"

"I wish Mr. Dodge would be a little more distinct in his names," said Mademoiselle Viefville, who had begun to take an interest in the subject, that even valueless opinions excite in us concerning things that touch the affections.

"Mr. Dodge is a little profane, mademoiselle," observed the captain; "but his journal probably was not intended for the ladies, and you must overlook it. Well, sir, you went to that naughty place--"

"To Notter Dam, Captain Truck, if you please, and I flatter myself that is pretty good French."

"I think, ladies and gentlemen, we have a right to insist on a translation; for plain roast and boiled men, like Mr. Monday and myself, are sometimes weeping when we ought to laugh, so long as the discourse is in anything but old-fashioned English. Help yourself, Mr. Monday, and remember, you _never drink."

"_Notter Dam_, I believe, mam'selle, means our Mother, the Church of our Mother.--Notter, or Noster, our,--Dam, Mother: Notter Dam. 'Here I was painfully impressed with the irreligion of the structure, and the general absence of piety in the architecture. Idolatry abounded, and so did holy water. How often have I occasion to bless Providence for having made me one of the descendants of those pious ancestors who cast their fortunes in the wilderness in preference to giving up their hold on faith and charity! The building is much inferior in comfort and true taste to the commoner American churches, and met with my unqualified disapprobation.'"

"_Est il possible que cela soit vrai, ma chere!_"

"_Je l'espere, bien, mademoiselle_."

"You may _despair bien_, cousin Eve," said John Effingham, whose fine curvilinear face curled even more than usual with contempt.

The ladies whispered a few explanations, and Mr. Dodge, who fancied it was only necessary to resolve to be perfect to achieve his end, went on with his comments, with all the self-satisfaction of a provincial critic.

"'From Notter Dam I proceeded in a _cabrioly to the great national burying-ground, Pere la Chaise, so termed from the circumstance that its distance from the capital renders chaises necessary for the _convoys_--"

"How's this, how's this!" interrupted Mr. Truck; "is one obliged to sail under a convoy about the streets of Paris?"

"_Monsieur Dodge veut dire, convoi_. Mr. Dodge mean to say, _convoi_" kindly interposed Mademoiselle Viefville.

"Mr. Dodge is a profound republican, and is an advocate for rotation in language, as well as in office: I must accuse you of inconstancy, my dear friend, if I die for it. You certainly do not pronounce your words always in the same way, and when I had the honour of carrying you out this time six months, when you were practising the continentals, as you call them, you gave very different sounds to many of the words I then had the pleasure and gratification of hearing you use."

"We all improve by travelling, sir, and I make no question that my knowledge of foreign language is considerably enlarged by practice in the countries in which they are spoken."

Here the reading of the journal was interrupted by a digression on language, in which Messrs. Dodge, Monday, Templemore, and Truck were the principal interlocutors, and during which the pitcher of punch was twice renewed. We shall not record much of this learned discussion, which was singularly common-place, though a few of the remarks may be given as a specimen of the whole.

"I must be permitted to say," replied Mr. Monday to one of Mr. Dodge's sweeping claims to superiority in favour of his own nation, "that I think it quite extraordinary an Englishman should be obliged to go out of his own country in order to hear his own language spoken in purity; and as one who has seen your people, Mr. Dodge, I will venture to affirm that nowhere is English better spoken than in Lancashire. Sir George, I drink your health!"

"More patriotic than just, Mr. Monday; every body allows that the American of the eastern states speaks the best English in the world, and I think either of these gentlemen will concede that."

"Under the penalty of being nobody," cried Captain Truck; "for my own part, I think, if a man wishes to hear the language in perfection, he ought to pass a week or ten days in the river. I must say, Mr. Dodge, I object to many of your sounds, particularly that of inyon, which I myself heard you call onion, no later than yesterday."

"Mr. Monday is a little peculiar in fancying that the best English is to be met with in Lancashire," observed Sir George Templemore; "for I do assure you that, in town, we have difficulty in understanding gentlemen from your part of the kingdom."

This was a hard cut from one in whom Mr. Monday expected to find an ally, and that gentleman was driven to washing down the discontent it excited, in punch.

"But all this time we have interrupted the _convoi_, or convoy, captain," said Mr. Sharp; "and Mr. Dodge, to say nothing of the mourners, has every right to complain. I beg that gentleman will proceed with his entertaining extracts."

Mr. Dodge hemmed, sipped a little more liquor, blew his nose, and continued:

"'The celebrated cemetery is, indeed, worthy of its high reputation. The utmost republican simplicity prevails in the interments, ditches being dug in which the bodies are laid, side by side, without distinction of rank, and with regard only to the order in which the convoys arrive.' I think this sentence, gentlemen, will have great success in America, where the idea of any exclusiveness is quite odious to the majority."

"Well, for my part," said the captain, "I should have no particular objection to being excluded from such a grave: one would be afraid of catching the cholera in so promiscuous a company."

Mr. Dodge turned over a few leaves, and gave other extracts.

"'The last six hours have been devoted to a profound investigation of the fine arts. My first visit was to the _gullyteen; after which I passed an instructive hour or two in the galleries of the Musy.'--"

"Ou, done?"

"Le Musee, mademoiselle."

"--'Where I discovered several very extraordinary things, in the way of sculpture and painting. I was particularly struck with the manner in which a plate was portrayed in the celebrated marriage of Cana, which might very well have been taken for real Delft, and there was one finger on the hand of a lady that seemed actually fitted to receive and to retain the hymeneal ring.'"

"Did you inquire if she were engaged?--Mr. Monday, we will drink her health."

"'Saint Michael and the Dragon is a _shefdowory_.'--"

"Un quoi?"

"Un chef-d'oeuvre, mademoiselle."

"--' The manner in which the angel holds the dragon with his feet, looking exactly like a worm trodden on by the foot of a child, is exquisitely plaintive and interesting. Indeed these touches of nature abound in the works of the old masters, and I saw several fruit-pieces that I could have eaten. One really gets an appetite by looking at many things here, and I no longer wonder that a Raphael, a Titian, a Correggio, a Guide-o.'--"

"Un qui?"

"Un Guido, mademoiselle."

"Or a Cooley."

"And pray who may he be?" asked Mr. Monday.

"A young genius in Dodgetown, who promises one day to render the name of an American illustrious. He has painted a new sign for the store, that in its way is quite equal to the marriage of Cana. 'I have stood with tears over the despair of a Niobe,'" continuing to read, "'and witnessed the contortions of the snakes in the Laocoon with a convulsive eagerness to clutch them, that has made me fancy I could hear them hiss." That sentence, I think, will be likely to be noticed even in the New-Old-New-Yorker, one of the very best reviews of our days, gentlemen."

"Take a little more punch, Mr. Dodge," put in the attentive captain; "this grows affecting, and needs alleviation, as Saunders would say. Mr. Monday, you will get a bad name for being too sober, if you never empty your glass. Proceed, in the name of Heaven! Mr. Dodge."

"'In the evening I went to the Grand Opery.'--"

"Ou, done?"

"Au grand Hoppery, mademoiselle," replied John Effingham.

"--'To the _Grand Opery_,'" resumed Mr. Dodge, with emphasis, his eyes beginning to glisten by this time, for he had often applied to the punch for inspiration, "'where I listened to music that is altogether inferior to that which we enjoy in America, especially at the general trainings, and on the Sabbath. The want of science was conspicuous; and if _this be music, then do I know nothing about it!'"

"A judicious remark!"'exclaimed the captain.--"Mr. Dodge has great merit as a writer, for he loses no occasion to illustrate his opinions by the most unanswerable facts. He has acquired a taste for Zip Coon and Long Tail Blue, and it is no wonder he feels a contempt for your inferior artists."

"'As for the dancing,'" continued the editor of the Active Inquirer, "'it is my decided impression that nothing can be worse. The movement was more suited to a funeral than the ball-room, and I affirm, without fear of contradiction, that there is not an assembly in all America in which a _cotillion would not be danced in one-half the time that one was danced in the _bally to-night.'"

"Dans le quoi?"

"I believe I have not given the real Parisian pronunciation to this word, which the French call bal-_lay_", continued the reader, with great candour.

"Belay, or make all fast, as we say on ship-board. Mr. Dodge, as master, of this vessel, I beg to return you the united, or as Saunders would say, the condensed thanks of the passengers, for this information; and next Saturday we look for a renewal of the pleasure. The ladies are getting to be sleepy, I perceive, and as Mr. Monday _never drinks and the other gentlemen have finished their punch, we may as well retire, to get ready for a hard day's work to-morrow."

Captain Truck made this proposal, because he saw that one or two of the party were _plenum punch_, and that Eve and her companion were becoming aware of the propriety of retiring. It was also true that he foresaw the necessity of rest, in order to be ready for the exertions of the morning.

After the party had broken up, which it did very contrary to the wishes of Messrs. Dodge and Monday, Mademoiselle Viefville passed an hour in the state-room of Miss Effingham, during which time she made several supererogatory complaints of the manner in which the editor of the Active Inquirer had viewed things in Paris, besides asking a good many questions concerning his occupation and character.

"I am not quite certain, my dear mademoiselle, that I can give you a very learned description of the animal you think worthy of all these questions, but, by the aid of Mr. John Effingham's information, and a few words that have fallen from Mr. Blunt, I believe it ought to be something as follows:--America once produced a very distinguished philosopher, named Franklin--"

"Comment, ma chere! Tout le monde le connait!"

"--This Monsieur Franklin commenced life as a printer; but living to a great age, and rising to high employments, he became a philosopher in morals, as his studies had made him one in physics. Now, America is full of printers, and most of them fancy themselves Franklins, until time and failures teach them discretion."

"_Mais the world has not seen but _un seul Franklin!_"

"Nor is it likely to see another very soon. In America the young men are taught, justly enough, that by merit they may rise to the highest situations; and, always according to Mr. John Effingham, too many of them fancy that because they are at liberty to turn any high qualities they may happen to have to account, they are actually fit for anything. Even he allows this peculiarity of the country does much good, but he maintains that it also does much harm, by causing pretenders to start up in all directions. Of this class he describes Mr. Dodge to be. This person, instead of working at the mechanical part of a press, to which he was educated, has the ambition to control its intellectual, and thus edits the Active Inquirer."

"It must be a very useful journal!"

"It answers his purposes, most probably. He is full of provincial ignorance, and provincial prejudices, you perceive; and, I dare say, he makes his paper the circulator of all these, in addition to the personal rancour, envy, and uncharitableness, that usually distinguish a pretension that mistakes itself for ambition. My cousin Jack affirms that America is filled with such as he."

"And, Monsieur Effingham?"

"Oh! my dear father is all mildness and charity, you snow, mademoiselle, and he only looks at the bright side of the picture, for he maintains that a great deal of good results from the activity and elasticity of such a state of things. While he confesses to a great deal of downright ignorance that is paraded as knowledge; to much narrow intolerance that is offensively prominent in the disguise of principle, and a love of liberty; and to vulgarity and personalities that wound all taste, and every sentiment of right, he insists on it that the main result is good."

"In such a case there is need of an umpire. You mentioned the opinion of Mr. Blunt. Comme ce jeune homme parle bien Francais!"

Eve hesitated, and she changed colour slightly, before she answered.

"I am not certain that the opinion of Mr. Blunt ought to be mentioned in opposition to those of my father and cousin Jack, on such a subject," she said. "He is very young, and it is, now, quite questionable whether he is even an American at all."

"Tant mieux, ma chere. He has been much in the country, and it is not the native that make the best judge, when the stranger has many opportunities of seeing."

"On this principle, mademoiselle, you are, then, to give up your own judgment about France, on all those points in which I have the misfortune to differ from you," said Eve, laughing.

"_Pas tout a fait_," returned the governess goodhumouredly. "Age and experience must pass _pour quelque chose. Et Monsieur Blunt_?--"

"Monsieur Blunt leans nearer to the side of cousin Jack, I fear, than to that of my dear, dear father. He says men of Mr. Dodge's character, propensities, malignancy, intolerance, ignorance, vulgarity, and peculiar vices abound in and about the American press. He even insists that they do an incalculable amount of harm, by influencing those who have no better sources of information; by setting up low jealousies and envy in the place of principles and the right; by substituting--I use his own words, mademoiselle," said Eve, blushing with the consciousness of the fidelity of her memory--"by substituting uninstructed provincial notions for true taste and liberality; by confounding the real principles of liberty with personal envies, and the jealousies of station; and by losing sight entirely of their duties to the public, in the effort to advance their own interests. He says that the government is in truth a _press-ocracy_, and a press-ocracy, too, that has not the redeeming merit of either principles, tastes, talents or knowledge."

"Ce Monsieur Blunt has been very explicit, and _suffisamment eloquent_," returned Mademoiselle Viefville, gravely; for the prudent governess did not fail to observe that Eve used language so very different from that which was habitual to her, as to make her suspect she quoted literally. For the first time the suspicion was painfully awakened, that it was her duty to be more vigilant in relation to the intercourse between her charge and the two agreeable young men whom accident had given them as fellow-passengers. After a short but musing pause, she again adverted to the subject of their previous conversation.

"Ce Monsieur Dodge, est il ridicule!"

"On that point at least, my dear mademoiselle, there can be no mistake. And yet cousin Jack insists that this stuff will be given to his readers, as views of Europe worthy of their attention."

"Ce conte du roi!--mais, c'est trop fort!"

"With the coat laced at the seams, and the cocked hat!"

"Et l'honorable Louis Philippe d'Orleans!"

"Orleans, mademoiselle; d'Orleans would be anti-republican."

Then the two ladies sat looking at each other a few moments in silence, when both, although of a proper _retenue of manner in general, burst into a hearty and long-continued fit of laughter. Indeed, so long did Eve, in the buoyancy of her young spirits, and her keen perception of the ludicrous, indulge herself, that her fair hair fell about her rosy cheeks, and her bright eyes fairly danced with delight.

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