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BY THE OLD SAILOR :'
"TOUGH YARNS;" "NIGHTS AT SEA;" "GREENWICH
IN THREE VOLUMES.
LEA AND BLANCHARD.
SUCCESSORS TO CAREY AND CO.
The sun's o'ercast with blood. Fair day, adieu!
THERE were but few families in the realm that could claim a more illustrious line of ancestors than the Wentworths and the Achesons. Allied by blood, but divided by political feuds, very little intercourse had been kept up between the branches, till at length it settled nearly into forgetfulness. The Achesons resided in a delightful place which, though designated a cottage, was nearly as large as a castle, situated on the border of a beautiful little bay at the back of the Isle of Wight; whilst the Wentworths inhabited a fine baronial hall on the coast of Devonshire, one of the most complete and superb specimens of the olden time improved upon by modern taste. Both possessed ample wealth; but at the period of my history, the representatives of each were widely different in mauners and practices. The head of the Wentworth estate was married, but had no children; the father of the Achesons was also married, and the parent of two girls and a boy, his wife dying in childbirth with the latter.
The sister of Mr. Acheson had constantly resided
with his family at the cottage, and seldom was there seen a female more strikingly beautiful: but there was also a repulsive pride about her, that, however much her beauty might be admired, at once repressed all tendencies to love. In so sequestered a spot, there was but little choice of society; but amongst the visitors at the cottage was a naturalised Frenchman, and his wife, an Englishwoman, persons of small income but of respectable character, named Clairfait, who occupied a pleasant and snug retreat in the neighborhood. Such was their outward show; but there were individuals better versed in the mysteries of the contraband who told a different tale, and, as it afterwards appeared, with no small degree of truth. Their son was a remarkably handsome young man, and perfect master of that sort of speciousness which but too frequently passes current in the world for sterling worth and integrity. Half sailor, half landsman, he had the good qualities of neither; but under the assumed frankness of the former he ingratiated himself with Miss Alicia, whilst with the shrewdness of the latter he disguised his real character and immoral propensities. He was courageous, if ferocity could be called courage; and he was daring, if constantly risking his life as a spy for the enemy could so be dignified. With the sister of Mr. Acheson he was an es pecial favorite and companion: they wandered together over the romantic scenery of that part of the island, and were seldom apart-for Mr. Acheson being an extremely indolent man, never interfered; and his wife laboring under very delicate health, generally confined herself closely to the house. But there were not wanting those who spread a tale of slander greatly to Miss Alicia's prejudice; and the conduct of the young man himself tended considerably to heighten the rumors that prevailed. Alicia had but little property of her own she was almost entirely dependent on her brother, and she was fully sensible that his
- pride would revolt at the idea of her union with one so much beneath her in family connexion; nay, more, she was convinced that a clandestine contract would at once destroy all future expectations, and she would be thrown a destitute creature upon the world. She had no feelings of real affection for young Clairfait, and could not be blind to his numerous faults; but there seemed to be a sort of compact by which they were drawn together.
Amongst the hardy race of doubtful characters who inhabited the vicinity of the bay, was a man named George Dawes, but far better known among his associates by the title of Pig's Petitoes. He was by profession a fisherman and pilot; but, in point of fact, he was one of the most reckless and notorious smugglers that ever defrauded the revenue of its dues: and yet, desperate rogue as he was, (and almost every crime had been laid to his charge,) there was a degree of chivalrous honor about the man that rendered it doubtful whether there' was not a devil in his nature that constantly overcame the better resolutions of his mind and heart. His word, whether for good or evil, was kept with a punctilio that seemed almost sacred, and a pledge from his lips was certain to be redeemed. To his wife he was kind and indulgent; but she bore him no children, and thus he was deprived of inducements which might have checked him in his reckless habits. The exterior of his residence, with its neat bit of garden, was characteristic of the class to which he professed to belong; but the inside displayed comforts, and even luxuries, which proved that Dawes was well supplied from some source or other.
This man, then, was the confidant, friend, and partner of young Clairfait; and thither would Alicia. repair to meet with the chosen companion of her ram bles. Mrs. Dawes was a shrewd, pains-taking, money-loving woman, and she very early perceived the advantages of encouraging the assignations of the