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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesJohn Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 35. Home Again--Another Bitter Disappointment
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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 35. Home Again--Another Bitter Disappointment Post by :Zoderami Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1384

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John Deane Of Nottingham: Historic Adventures By Land And Sea - Chapter 35. Home Again--Another Bitter Disappointment


Soon after the battle which has been described the fleet once more returned to England. The admirals and many of the captains were presented to Queen Anne, who complimented them on the actions in which they had been engaged. Among the officers who received promotion was John Deane, who was raised to the rank of captain. At length, as he was now without a ship, he was able to set forward to pay his long-promised visit to his home. In those days the post was very irregular on shore, and sailors often went many years without receiving letters from home. Such had been John Deane's case, and he still remained in ignorance of all the events which had taken place among those he loved since his departure. One thing had troubled him greatly; it was at not hearing of the arrival of Elizabeth and her faithful guardian, Mistress Pearson. He had gained a large amount of prize-money, which the agent at Portsmouth, where he landed, promised to remit to him at Nottingham. He took with him only a sum sufficient for his journey and to supply his wants while he expected to remain on shore. He met with no adventure during his journey. The number of loose characters who had infested the roads in the early days of King William's reign, had been drawn away to fight the battles of their country, either under Marlborough or at sea, and few highwaymen were to be met with in any part of the country. Deane would gladly have turned aside to go to Norwich; but it was greatly out of his way, and he felt that it was his duty in the first place to visit his own father and mother. He could scarcely restrain his eagerness as he passed over the Trent bridge once more, and took his way through the well-known streets which led to the market-place. It was early in the day, but no one knew him in his richly-laced coat, his countenance well bronzed by sun and wind, and his whiskers and beard of no mean growth. At length he stopped before the door of the old house and threw himself from his horse, calling to a boy passing at the moment to hold it. Not till then did it occur to him how long he had been absent, and what great changes might have taken place. His heart sank, for he expected almost to see his mother hurrying to the door, with his old father's fine countenance peering behind her; but the door remained closed, and he had to knock more than once before it was opened. His voice trembled as he inquired of the serving-damsel who opened the door whether Mr and Mistress Deane were at home.

"Ay," was the answer, "they are in the parlour at the back of the house."

He pushed past her and hurried on. The old gentleman and lady rose from their seats as he threw open the door, at first not knowing him.

"To what cause do we owe the honour of this visit, sir?" said old Mr Deane, taking Jack to be an intruder, or one of the officers quartered in the town engaged in a frolic.

"He is our son--our son Jack!" exclaimed Mistress Deane, who, knowing him at a second glance, threw her arms round his neck.

Old Mr Deane hurried forward, and grasping his hand, almost wrung it off. Then his mother bestowed her kisses on his bronzed cheeks.

"Yes, it's Jack--I know him now!" exclaimed the old gentleman, drawing back a pace, that he might look at him from head to foot. "Well, thou art grown into a brave lad, Jack," he said, looking at him affectionately.

And now Jack was seated between the two old people, who scarcely would allow him to ask any questions, so eager were they to hear his adventures. It was some time, therefore, before he could learn what had become of the rest of the family.

"And how is sister Polly and her husband, Tom Dovedale? It seems an age since the day they were spliced."

"They live six doors off, and are wonderfully flourishing, for from morning to night they do little else than `laugh and grow fat,'" was the answer.

"And Jasper, where is he?" was the next question.

"The father of two fine cherubs, and Alethea as beautiful and cheerful as ever. He is a fortunate fellow, your brother Jasper. Cousin Nat now lives with him, and has given him up all his business, so that Jasper is the leading physician in the town, and, on my word, he bears his honours bravely, and is in no way behind cousin Nat in the estimation of the townspeople and neighbourhood. At first I feared that Jasper and Alethea would not have got on very smoothly together. She, as you remember, was a warm Jacobite, as was her poor father, but Jasper argued the matter so well with her, that he soon brought her over, and she became as loyal a subject of King William as any to be found within the realm. Had it not been, indeed, for her marriage to Jasper, it would have gone hard with her, for poor Harwood was so implicated in the plot against King William, that his property would have been confiscated. Cousin Nat and other friends, however, so earnestly petitioned the Government, that it was preserved for the sake of his daughter, and Jasper, after poor Harwood's death, became the Squire of Harwood Grange."

"And have you heard from Kate and Dainsforth, mother?" asked Jack. He had another question which he was eager to ask, but he wished first to inquire about his own family.

"Oh, yes! they're flourishing in their new plantation; and glowing are the accounts which they send us of the country. It must be a wonderful place, and although the free Government we now enjoy makes fewer people wish to go over there, yet many are tempted, from time to time, from the accounts they receive from their friends settled there."

Jack's next inquiry was about Mr Gournay at Norwich. He could only learn that a foreign lady and gentleman were residing at his house, but not a word about Elizabeth could they tell him. He concluded that they alluded to Monsieur and Madame de Mertens, but they were not aware even that they had a daughter, nor could they give him any account of the arrival of their supposed daughter.

Jack's visit to Jasper and Alethea and to cousin Nat must be briefly passed over.

Having spent a few days at Nottingham he became eager to visit Norwich. He found Will Brinsmead, who, in spite of his age, continued his journeys through the country, about to set off in that direction. Will begged that he would give him the honour of his company, but Jack laughingly assured him, that though he should have great delight in talking over old days, his eagerness to reach Norwich would not allow him to jog along behind the cattle. He, however, rode a few miles with him, when just as the old man was beginning one of his lectures on the "Pilgrim's Progress," Jack, shaking him warmly by the hand, pushed on his steed in advance of the herd.

On making himself known to Mr Gournay, he was received in the kindest way by him and his wife; but Jack's astonishment and disappointment was very great when he found that they had not received the accounts he had sent home of his discovery of Elizabeth, and of her proposed return with Mistress Pearson, under charge of Captain Davis, to England. Monsieur and Madame de Mertens were residing, he found, in a small house in Norwich, and they also had not received either his letter or one from Captain Davis. His heart sank within him. What was he now to do? The more he had of late thought of Elizabeth, the more completely he found that she had entwined herself round his heart, and he had anticipated the delight of meeting her again and receiving her as his bride from the hands of her parents. All these delightful visions had now vanished. Monsieur and Madame de Mertens received him with every expression of regard and affection.

"I can never forget the important service you rendered me in restoring to me my husband," said Madame de Mertens, "and I feel sure that, had it been in your power, you would have brought back to me my child. Even now I have a hope that you may possibly restore her to me."

Jack spent some time with his friends, and finally came to the resolution of returning to the West Indies, in order to make inquiries about Elizabeth and Dame Pearson.

"I will first go to the Admiralty and ascertain where the `Venus' frigate now is, and then I will communicate with Captain Davis," said Deane. "Should he be unable to give me the information I desire, I will immediately set off on my projected voyage."

Captain Deane had been invited to return to Mr Gournay's to supper. On entering the house, the excellent quaker met him with a letter in his hand.

"I have just received this," he said, "from your brother-in-law Giles Dainsforth. He mentions a curious circumstance which occurred some time ago, which may tend to solve the mystery concerning the fate of Elizabeth de Mertens and her friend. He writes me word that information had been received in the plantation of the wreck of a ship on an island off the American coast, with several passengers, among whom were said to be some ladies. A small boat which had left the island, had, after a long voyage, the people undergoing great hardships, reached the mainland. They had come in the hopes of obtaining relief for those left behind. As soon as the information was received, a meeting of the inhabitants of Philadelphia was held, and it was resolved to send out a vessel for the rescue of the sufferers. Unfortunately, friend Giles does not mention the name of the vessel or the passengers, except casually he refers to the loss of a queen's ship."

This was indeed important information. It raised Captain Deane's hopes of the possibility of discovering Elizabeth; at the same time he was well aware that there were many probabilities of the wreck being that of some other vessel.

"Friend Dainsforth is very anxious that we should send out a vessel with a cargo of which he may dispose. It is a business in which I myself am not willing to enter," observed Mr Gournay; "but thou mayest find friends in Nottingham who will be more ready to engage in the speculation, and being thyself a seaman of experience, thou mightest take the command of it. It will be far better for thee than following the occupation of fighting, in which thou hast been engaged."

The plan thus suggested by Mr Gournay was much in accordance with Jack's taste. He, however, made up his mind in the first instance to go to London, that he might make inquiries as to the fate of the "Venus." If she had left the West Indies, and had not since been heard of, or if it was supposed that she had been cast away, he would then have very little doubt of her being the ship of which Giles Dainsforth spoke; but if, on the contrary, she had returned to England, or been sent to some other station, he would then only suppose that the wreck alluded to in the letter must be that of another ship, and thus proceeding to Pennsylvania would in no way forward the great object he had in view. Mr Gournay having fully agreed with him in the wisdom of his plans, after he had bidden farewell to Monsieur and Madame de Mertens, he set off on his visit to London.

Jack felt very differently from what he did before on his first visit to the metropolis in company with Long Sam. He was now a captain in the navy, with an honourable name, and money in his pocket. On going to the Admiralty, however, he could gain no satisfactory information regarding the "Venus" or Captain Davis. One of the clerks told him that he believed she was still in the West Indies. Another that she had been captured by the enemy. A third, of whom in his despair he made further inquiries, told him that she had been sunk; and another, that she was on her passage home. He had just left the office, and was taking his way disconsolately along the street, when he met an old shipmate.

"My dear fellow," he exclaimed, "you did not employ a golden key, I suspect, to unlock the mystery! Just go back with a doubloon in your band, and cross the palm of Master Dick Greedifist, and you will soon find that he knows more about the matter than you supposed."

Jack, though indignant that such a proceeding should be necessary, did as he was advised.

"Oh, certainly, Captain Deane!" answered Dick. "It was about the `Venus' you were inquiring. Oh, ah, let me see! she was ordered home in 1702, and immediately afterwards the order was countermanded and she remained on the station for some time longer. Since then, she was sent to visit the plantations on the mainland of North America; and, in consequence of her not having been heard of for some time, it is feared that she must have met with some disaster. As soon as she had executed her mission she was to return home; and I know that some months ago she was expected."

This was all the information Jack required. He did not tell Master Greedifist the opinion he had formed of him, but, hastening out of the office, took his way to his inn. Jack as has been seen was a man of action. He took care of the minutes, well knowing that the hours would take care of themselves. As soon as he had sufficiently fortified the inner man, he again mounted his horse, and leaving all the wonders of London unvisited, spurred back northward towards Nottingham.

At the inn where he rested the first night of his journey, he wrote an account of the information he had gained to his friends at Norwich, saying that he proposed carrying out the plan suggested by Giles Dainsforth, and that as soon as he could make the arrangements he hoped to sail in a galley for Pennsylvania. On reaching home he found that Dainsforth had expressed the same opinion to his friends at Nottingham. He had, therefore, little difficulty in inducing them to join in a speculation for the purchase of a galley, to be freighted with goods suitable for the plantations, he himself having the command of her. Having made all the preliminary arrangements, he was about to start for London, when he received information from Mr Gournay that a galley admirably suited for his object was about to be launched at Lynn Regis. Scarcely had the letter been read, when Jack was on horseback, and spurring forward to that town. He was not disappointed in the appearance of the vessel. She was stoutly built, and roomy, capable of carrying a large cargo. As she reached the water she was named the "Nottingham Galley." John Deane, whose manners were such as to gain the confidence of his fellow-men, soon found a hardy crew to man her. By the time she was ready for sea, he had obtained a considerable share of his prize-money. His brother Jasper, his cousin Nat, and his father, with several other influential persons at Nottingham, took shares in the speculation. It would be impossible to follow Deane in his various journeys backwards and forwards to Norwich, Lynn, and Nottingham, while the galley was getting ready for sea. At length, having received a part of her cargo on board, sent from Norwich and Nottingham, and other places to the west, he made sail for the Thames, where he was to receive the remainder.

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