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MORRISON AND GIBB, EDINBURGH,
PRINTERS TO HER MAJESTY'S STATIONERY OFFICE.
BY THE AUTHOR OF
*TIBBIE TII CHARWOMAN;' 'LUCY SMITH, THE MUSIC GOVERNESS;'
'JEM THE TINKER,' ETC. ETC.
WILLIAM OLIPHANT & CO.
Oh, ne'er did sky and water blend
In such a holy sleep,
Or bathdn brighter quietude
A roamer of the deep !
So far the peaceful soul of heaven
Hath settled on the sea,
It seems as if this weight of calm
Were from eternity.
Oh, world of waters, the stedfast earth
Ne'er lay entranced like thee!'
T was a calm, and The Britannia lay
like a useless log upon the water.
It was a dead calm, which had
lasted for some days,-a dreamy, drowsy, lazy
calm, which had been voted 'a horrid bore' by
both passengers and crew. But some of the
latter were heard to declare that it was a
treacherous calm, which portended and might
8 Sam Silva.
prove the precursor of a great storm, as though
the spirit of the ocean only bided its time to
rise and rush forth in all its fury.
It was Sunday morning, and the passengers
in the cabin dawdled over their breakfast, and
prolonged it as much as possible, anxious to
kill the time which hung heavy on their hands;
whilst the sailors on duty washed and tidied
the decks, and then retired below to dress them-
selves in their clean shirts, in honour of the day
and of the service which a minister on board
was announced to conduct some time during
the forenoon, leaving an unusual silence behind
them. The wide expanse of sky above and
of water below was unbroken so far as the eye
could reach, save by the sight of a ship, also
becalmed, which had sailed from Jamaica in
company with The Britannia, and now lay, like
her, motionless and inactive, at a considerable
distance in advance, an object which pleasantly
relieved the almost terrible loneliness of the
The Calm. 9
At one side of the ship, leaning over the rail,
gazing apparently at the unruffled surface of
the water, stood a negro man, servant to a
gentleman on board, who, with his little boy,
was a passenger from Jamaica to England, and
who had brought one of his slaves with him
to wait upon and take charge of the child;
for slavery still reigned in the West Indies, a
dark blot on the fair fame of free and freedom-
loving England. Long time the black man
stood, with his eyes dreamily fixed on the great
deep, but seeing none of its wonders, for his
thoughts were far away, and in spirit he was
present with his brethren, who would, he knew,
at that hour be assembling in the Mission
Chapel at Kingston, where, when at home, he
was wont to meet with them for worship. He
saw them all trooping in,-some from far-off
plantations, who had risen ere the day dawned,
to be in time for their long walk to the church,
-men, women, and children, their bright many-
coloured garments relieving the various shades
10 Sam Silva.
of their uniformly dusky countenances. He
heard the hum of their voices, too, as for a
second or two they lingered in the yard out-
side, exchanging friendly Christian salutations
and inquiries after each other's welfare; then
the hush, the holy quiet which stole over them,
as one by one they took their places in their
accustomed seats, not a white face amongst
them, save those of the minister's wife and
family, looking all the whiter from the con-
trast Then he saw the minister, the beloved
Knibb, ascend the pulpit steps, and heard him
read, in powerful but melodious accents, the
appropriate opening hymn for the Sabbath
Hail, morning, known among the blest;'
and he knew the tune, too, to which it would
probably be sung, and half- uncorfsciously
hummed it to himself all through to the end
of the hymn. Then came the prayer; and
though he heard not the words, he entered with
The Calm. 1i
his whole heart into the spirit of the petitions
which he knew would be presented at the
throne of grace. The reading of the Scrip-
tures came next in the programme; and, tak-
ing a small Bible from his bosom, and sitting
down on a form, he found and began to read
the portion which he knew would come in
regular course that morning. But, alas! here
the illusion vanished. Read by his pastor, in
slow, distinct tones, and explained as he went
along in simple terms, adapted to the half-
opened, often childish, minds of his negro
audience, he could understand it all or nearly
all; but to read it himself was hard work, for,
alas! he was but a poor slave, and self-taught.
Slowly and patiently his finger travelled along
each line, pausing occasionally as he spelt out a
difficult word; and sometimes when he paused
thus, his face would brighten into a pleased
smile, for he had stumbled on a verse which
he had learned by rote, or on a familiar, well-
remembered text of his pastor's, which he
12 Sam Silva.
would read several times over, proud and happy
in his own proficiency, his face getting brighter
and brighter each time.
He had finished a chapter in the Old Testa-
ment, and one in the New, and was wonder-
ing with a sigh what Massa Knibb would be
preaching about that morning, when a young
man, with a cigar in his mouth, who had been
watching him for some time at a short dis-
tance, sauntered leisurely across the deck, and
sat down beside him.
'Well, Sambo, you are very studious,' said
he; 'what have you been reading so long?
Oh, the Bible!' he said carelessly, as the
negro held it out, without speaking. Good
reader, eh ?'
'No, Massa Bennet,' said the black man
sadly; 'can't read anything like you, sir.'
'Oh, want me to read a bit, I suppose?'
said he, laughing good-humouredly, as he took
the cigar from his mouth and extinguished it.
'Well, seeing it's Sunday, I don't mind if I do
The Calm. 13
so long as the other fellows keep down-stairs.
Where's your place?' he asked, as he took the
gratefully outstretched book.
'Anywhere massa pleases,' said the negro.
'Your own place, sir,' he added, with an
anxious, wistful look at the handsome sunburnt
My place!' muttered the young man; 'rather
difficult to find that, I suspect. Come,' said
"he, with childish glee, 'we'll make a lottery of
it. See, I'll shut the Bible, and open it by
chance, and I'll read wherever it opens-see!'
and he shut it with a sharp clap, and, pressing
it between his two palms, allowed it to spring
suddenly open and flat. 'Hang it! it's opened
at a genealogy,' he cried. 'No use in reading
all those hard names, Sambo. Let's try
again. What's this now?' he cried, as he
opened it a second time,-" One spoon of ten
shekels of gold, full of incense: one young
bullock, one ram, one lamb of the first year,"-
that won't do either, Sambo; neither you nor
14 Sam Silva.
me need Moses' law. Let's try again; I'll
get it to open further on;' and with another
clap he managed to make the book open at
the New Testament. 'That will do now-
three times is canny,' he cried in triumph.
'Now, Sambo, I'm going to begin,' he said,
clearing his throat and trying to look grave.
'Wait a moment, massa,' said the negro
respectfully, and, folding his hands, he lifted
his eyes to heaven, and said aloud, 'Give
us of Thy Spirit, O Lord, that we may
understand Thy holy word, for Jesus' sake.
Taken by surprise, the young man blushed
an angry scarlet; but he was ashamed to draw
back, and began to read in a hurried, mono-
tonous tone,-'Let us therefore fear, lest, a
promise being left us of entering into His
rest, any of you should seem to come short of
it,'-for the Bible had opened at the fourth
chapter of the Hebrews; and he galloped
through till he came to the last verse,-'Let
The Calm. 5I
us therefore come boldly unto the throne of
grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find
grace to help in time of need,'-anxious to
be done before any of his fellow-passengers
arrived on deck, knowing they would ridicule
and banter him without mercy if they found
him reading the Bible, and to a black man.
The consequence was, that the anxious listener
lost the sense in a great measure; and when
the young man returned his Bible, saying,
'That's the end of the chapter now,' he was
only conscious of the stoppage of a monotonous
rattle, which had left no distinct impression
on his mind or memory, and though he said,
'Thank you, sir,' he unconsciously heaved a
sigh of disappointment, which struck his good-
natured friend with remorse.
'Would you like me to read a little more?'
he asked, blushing slightly.
'If massa would read the same over again
slow,' said the negro, his face brightening up
16 Sam Silva.
'Yes, I will, my honest fellow,' he said, with
sudden warmth. I'm a fool to care for them;
let them come, and laugh too,' he muttered to
And he did begin, and read every word
over again patiently and slowly, and was
surprised to find that he was reading with
interest and feeling himself; and when he got
through the chapter without the interruption
he had feared, and heard the heartfelt thanks
of his attentive listener, and saw his beaming,
grateful face, he experienced the pleasure of a
new and delightful sensation, in having been the
means of benefiting a fellow-creature, though
only one of the poor, despised race of Ham.
A silence of some minutes followed; for
the black man was again in the church at
Kingston, and the white man was watching
him, and wondering what he was thinking
about. 'I say, Sambo,' he said at length,' do
you believe all that I've been reading just
The Calm. 17
'Massa!' said the negro, staring at him in
I mean,' stammered the young man, in some
confusion,-' I mean, do you really think that
it's all true ?'
'I believes every word of it,' said the
negro solemnly; and then, with the same
wistful expression which his face had worn
before, he added, 'and you, massa, you be-
lieve it ?'
Well, in a sort of a way, you know; but not
as you do, Sambo, I suspect,' he said, with a
'Ah, massa! if you were like we poor slaves,'
said the negro, 'you would be only too glad
to believe the good news told us in the Bible;
but massa has many comforts in this world
that we know nothing about. It is the miser-
able slave who is so happy to be told of Jesus.
And then, massa,' he continued, 'you been
brought up good and know nothing of such
a black heart as he has,-hearts a greater
18 Sam Silva.
blacker than our skins. If yours was as black,
you would only be too glad to get it washed
in the blood of the Lamb.'
'Hold there, Sambo!' cried the young man
eagerly; 'you're wrong there, my fine fellow.
You have a white heart and a black skin;
and I have a white skin and a black heart.
How did you come to believe the gospel?' he
asked, with affected carelessness.
'I heard Massa Knibb preach it, and I be-
lieved it,' the black man replied, with great
'Knibb!' cried the young man,-' Knibb!
That's the dangerous fellow who incites the
negroes to revolt and murder their masters!'
A strange expression shone from the eyes of
the slave as he spoke, giving them a sinister,
snake-like appearance, disagreeable to behold.
It was the old man, subdued, but not altogether
destroyed within him, roused by the scornful
tone in which his much-loved minister was
mentioned; but it was only for a moment,
The Cahn. 19
and as it passed away, he said calmly, 'Massa
Bennet, somebody has been telling you great
lies. If you knew Massa Knibb, you would
not have believed that.'
Before he could reply, a beautiful boy of
about four years old came running forward,
and sprang into the arms which the negro had
extended at sight of him, and, stroking his
sable cheeks, he kissed and hugged him, and
cradled his fair curly head on his bosom, whilst
the black man was equally demonstrative to-
'I never saw a face so changeable in expres-
sion,' thought the young man, looking on. A
moment ago he looked a dangerous enough
customer; now he's like the Apostle John
himself, love beaming all over his face, from
the roots of his woolly hair to the point of his
black chin. Harry's very fond of you, Sambo!'
he said, in a slightly jealous tone.
Yes, I's very fond of him,' said the child,
before the negro had time to reply. 'But his
20 Sam Silva.
name is not Sambo: his name is Sam Silva,
and I calls him Sammy.'
'Oh, indeed! Sam Silva, Sam Silva !-I'll
try and mind that,' said the young man,
shaking his head very gravely. 'Whether
do you like Sam Silva or me best, Harry?'
'I loves you a little, but I loves Sammy
very, very much,' the child promptly replied.
Now Mr. Bennet had made a special pet of
this child during the voyage, and was natu-
rally chagrined to find that this poor slave
engrossed so much more of his affections than
he did. 'Why do you like Sam Silva better
than me, Harry?' he asked, in a slightly
'Behause he loves me,' said the child.
'And do I not love you, Harry?' he asked
The child was quick enough to see something
was wrong, and looked puzzled. 'I know you
loves Harry too,' he said; 'but Sammy has
The Calm. 21
loved me a long, long time;' and he stretched
out his arms, as though measuring the length
of Sam's love.
Don't tease him, please, Massa Bennet,' said
the negro, smoothing his curls; 'he has a loving
little heart, and loves both of us.'
'Sammy best,' persisted the child.
Mr. Bennet laughed, and began to whistle
'You should not whistle on Sabba- day,'
said the child. 'Sammy would not do that;
Sammy's dood !'
The young man stopped and bit his lip.
'Little hypocrite!' he muttered to himself.
'I wonder if the negro's a hypocrite too: that
man's a perfect puzzle to me. Sometimes he
has the patient, submissive look of a beast long
accustomed to the yoke, who has borne his
burden so long as to have lost the wish as well
as the power to rebel; then he'll look like a
wild beast, ready to spring on his prey. But
oftener, especially when with his master or the
22 Sam Silva.
child, he looks gratitude and mild benevolence
all over. I don't understand him at all!'
It was true it was not easy to judge of Sam
Silva by the outward appearance. Long years
of cruel servitude had left ineffaceable marks
upon his outward man; and though happy
now with a kind master,-the first who had
ever spoken to him as a fellow-creature, and
treated him as such,-the memory of his
wrongs would occur at times with overwhelming
force, sometimes crushing his wounded spirit
with their weight, and at others rousing within
him a bitter, revengeful feeling, over the sin-
fulness of which he often mourned with repent-
For when Sam Silva became a Christian, it
cost him hard work to forgive his oppressors;
and though he did forgive them, it was, alas!
not in his power to forget, and a haunting
sense of unmerited injuries was ever present
with him. But the love he. bore his master,
and his master's only and motherless child, and
The Calm. 23
the almost idolatry with which he regarded
the pastor who had been the means of impart-
ing to him the blessings of salvation, wrought
golden threads into what would otherwise have
been the hopeless web of his existence. And,
above all, like a halo over his head, lighting
up his path with rays of heavenly beauty,
shone the promised home, where the white
and the black, the bond and the free, shall
meet on equal terms; where his redeemed
soul, free from earth's curse and earth's toil,
would call no man master, but would take its
place with equal rights and privileges, amongst
the innumerable company of heaven, whilst his
body would find in the grave a refuge from
the troubling of the wicked, and rest in peace
till the resurrection morn.
Such were often on the Sabbath Sam Silva's
comforting thoughts, and they gave a mild
dignity to his countenance,-at least so thought
Edward Bennet, as he sat looking at him now,
watching with infinite tenderness the slightest
24 Sam Silva.
movement of the child, who had fallen asleep
on his bosom. Neither spoke for some time;
but a sudden thought struck the young man,
and, bending forward, he whispered, I say,
Sam, you are going to England,-there are no
slaves in England,-you can demand your free-
dom the moment you land. Isn't that grand?'
'Yes, Massa,' he said quietly, without lifting
'Well!' said the young man impatiently;
'did you know that before ?' he added.
"Yes, massa,' said Sam again, hastily wiping
off a tear from the brow of the child which had
fallen from his own eyes; 'Massa Knibb told
me,' he added in a low tone.
And you'll do it!' cried Mr. Bennet eagerly.
I'll back you, Sam; I'll stand by you; they
dare not touch you. It's the blessed law of
Sam did not reply, but he seized the young
man's hand, and, lifting it to his lips, covered
it with kisses.
The Carn. 25
'You'll do it!' cried Bennet, laying his hand
encouragingly on the slave's shoulder.
Sam lifted his eyes, humid with grateful
tears, and said in a whisper, 'No, Massa. You
be very kind; but I promised my master
before we left home to come back with him.'
'Cruel, selfish wretch!' cried the young man
angrily. Such a promise is not binding, Sam.
You surely would never remain a slave, when
you have the chance of freedom ?'
Could not break my word,' said Sam; 'and
besides,' he added, pressing his lips to the brow
of the sleeping child,--'besides, I could not
part from Massa Harry.'
'You love him more than your liberty?'
said the young man disdainfully.
I could die for him!' said the slave.
'Easier said than done! All words, I sus-
pect,' muttered the young man, as he relighted
his cigar and walked away.
In a few moments he came sauntering badk
again. 'Sam,' said he, 'it's a mystery to me
26 Sam Silva.
how you and the like of you can remain
slaves, year after year, without doing some-
thing desperate for freedom: it seems to me
patience gone mad.'
'Thought you blamed Massa Knibb, because
you had been told he wished us to rebel,' said
the negro quietly.
'Why, yes,' stammered the young man, in
some confusion ; 'it scarcely seems a minister's
work, you know, Sam. Butyou-you, the poor
sufferers-it was a mystery to me all the
time I lived in Jamaica, how great, strong,
stalwart fellows could submit, day after day,
without ever turning round to strike a blow
One of the changes common to the expres-
sion of Silva's countenance flashed suddenly
on Mr. Bennet, and startled him so much, that
he almost sprang to his feet in a fright.
'Did massa never hear of the slaves rebel-
ling ?' said Sam.
'Why, yes-to be sure-I quite forgot,' said
The Camn. 27
Bennet, quailing under the light which gleamed
from the negro's large eyes; but it vanished as
suddenly, giving place to a sad, reproachful
gaze, which smote the young man to the heart.
' Sam, forgive me!' he cried, wit a chok-
ing sensation in his throat.
But Sam seemed to have forgotten both him
and his offence; and, with an absent, far-off
look in his eyes, he fell into a reverie, mutter-
ing to himself, '"Vengeance is mine, I will
repay, saith the Lord." Ah, massa,' said he,
rousing himself after a while, 'you can't know
how hard it is for a slave to keep patience
here;' and he pressed his hand on his heart,
with a look of intense pain, which affected
Mr. Bennet still more. 'But, Mass', he con-
tinued, with another change which illuminated
his countenance, I have a Master in heaven,
who has made me free from a worse slavery
than man's-the slavery of sin; and, after all,
Massa Bennet, what is this earth to the heaven
to come ?-what is short time to long eternity ?'
28 Sam Silva.
and he smiled, and stretched out his arms, even
as the child had done, as though measuring
space. 'We black slaves, who are free in the
liberty of Christ,' he added, after a pause, 'can
pity the white slaves of Satan, who serve a
harder master than any of ours; for ours can
only hurt the body, theirs can destroy both'
soul and body in hell.'
'Sam Silva!' cried Mr. Bennet, staring at
him in great surprise, 'you would make a
capital preacher. I wonder,' he thought to
himself,-' I wonder if it's all real, or if he only
repeats, like a parrot, what he has heard Knibb
say! I say, Sam,' he continued, 'if that's the
way you view it, I suppose you have no fear
of death, and would be quite happy if the ship
were to go down to-night?'
'Can't say that, massa,' the negro promptly
replied; 'can't say I don't fear death-it's not
in nature. '
'That's not exactly what I mean,' said the
young man, with some hesitation. 'I mean,
The Calm. 29
you would not be afraid, you know, of what
comes after death ?'
'After death%' said Sam joyfully; 'oh no,
massa! no fear then-no need to fear The
Lord will not forget poor Sam Silva.'
'I wish I were you,' muttered Mr. Bennet to
himself, with a sigh. He's no hypocrite, that's
certain; and no parrot either,' he continued.
'I wish I could get him roused to rebellion,
though; he would be a second Touissant
l'Overture, and Jamaica would be a second
Hayti, with Knibb for prime minister.'
He was laughing softly to himself at his own
fancies, when the company from the cabin
arrived on deck. They came in haste, and full
of excitement, for the captain had just informed
them that signals, inviting them all to dinner,
had been hoisted on the masts of The Fal-
mouth; and those who were possessed of
pocket telescopes were trying to interpret the
signals for themselves, and graciously allowing
their neighbours to have a peep, when they
30 Sam Silva.
tired looking at the various-coloured flags, of
which they declared they could make neither
'rhyme nor reason.'
It was voted unanimously that the invitation
should be accepted; and they cheered vocifer-
ously as they saw the reply gliding swiftly up
the mainmast of The Britannia, and louder still
when the captain reported that The Falmouth's
reply was 'Come immediately.' No time was
lost in getting out the long-boat, and both ladies
and gentlemen crowded into it, as pleased and
happy as so many children, the former having
made a hasty extra toilet for the occasion.
'Good-bye, darling,' said little Harry's father;
'you'll be asleep before we come back. See
you take good care of him, Sam.'
Yes, massa,' said Sam respectfully.
'You won't weary, Harry?' said the father,
as he kissed him again. 'You're quite safe
'Oh yes,' said the little fellow; 'and with
Mister Bcnnet-he loves me too.'
The Calm. 3I
'What! %re you not going, Ned?' said
Harry's father, turning round in surprise.
Now Edward Bennet had fully intended to
go and enjoy himself with the rest; but he was
the creature of impulse, and the child's speech,
and the soft touch of the little hand which he
put so confidingly in his, never doubting for a
moment that he would remain with him, altered
his intentions in a moment.
'No,' cried Harry, before he could reply;
'he's dood, and would not go on the Sabba-day;
nor him nor Sam would break the comman'-
'Hear him!' whispered the father, not at
all displeased at the implied censure on him-
self,-'hear him! It's Sam puts all that
nonsense in his head. Sam's one of those
pious Baptist fellows; but he's very fond of
my Harry, and would not let the wind blow on
him, if he could help it, and I don't think he
can get any harm from him in the meantime.'
Mr. Bennet listened gravely to the whispered
32 Sam Silva.
apology, but made no reply; and, hearing a
call to make haste, Harry's father ran off, and
was soon seen, seated along with the others in
the boat, kissing his hand to his little boy, whom
Sam held up in his arms to see them row off.
"Pon my word, the parson's there too,' mut-
tered Mr. Bennet.
'Hallo, Mr. Jenkins!' he cried, 'I thought
you announced a service on board to-day!
What are you doing there on Sunday?'
The clergyman looked up with an angry
flush on his face, but laughed carelessly, and
cried back, 'The better day the better deed,
Mr. Bennet. I appoint you to supply my place.'
A frown was the only answer Mr. Bennet
condescended to give; but Harry squared his
little fists, and, dealing imaginary blows at the
offender, cried, 'Oh, you bad naughty minister!'
'Well done, Harry! Hit hard,' cried Mr.
Bennet, convulsed with laughter, in which the
child's father and the rest of the passengers
joined, to the no small mortification of the
The Calm. 33
clergyman. But Sam imprisoned the little
lnds, whispering, 'Fie, fie, Massa Harry!'
and whilst the boy, pleased with the applause,
was struggling to renew the performance, the
boat rowed off, and the captain, who remained
"behind, joined the group on deck.
'Well, captain,' said Mr. Bennet, 'we are
minus a chaplain.'
'Yes,' he replied. 'The want of Jenkins
don't matter much, but I regret having inti-
mated the service to the sailors; and I re-
quested him to remain and read prayers to
them, but he said he would not miss the fun of
dining on board The Falmouth for any prayers.
You gave him his due, my little fellow,' he
added, chucking the child under his chin.
'Yes, I did it,' said he, nodding his head
'Massa Bennet,' said Sam respectfully, 'might
not you read to the men ?'
Me ?' cried Bennet. 'Me read prayers!'
*Did not mean that, Massa,' pleaded the
34 Sam Silva.
negro,-'meant the Bible. Might read a
chapter to them, massa.'
'Do, Mr. Bennet,' said the captain eagerly.
'You've no idea of the bad effect on board
ship of any supposed carelessness or omis-
sion. If I had not announced the service, I
would "not have cared; but, as the matter
stands, I would consider it as a personal
"*Why can't you do it yourself?' said Bennet.
The captain blushed scarlet. 'Mr. Bennet,'
said he, putting his arm through his, and draw-
ing him aside, 'it would never do, sir. I have
a difficult part to act, and an oath will slip
out at times,-indeed, the men would not obey
without it; and if I were to read the Bible to
them, they would dub me a hypocrite at once.
But they never heard anything of the kind
from you, sir; and I would take it as a par-
ticular favour, seeing that sneak Jenkins has
forsaken his post. If he had never spoken of
it, I would not have minded.'
The Calm. 35
Edward Bennet hesitated: the task was dis-
tasteful to him. But he was a good-natured
fellow, who disliked to say no; and the moment
he consented, the captain left him, to give
orders for assembling the men, afraid he might
repent and draw back.
Well, Sam, I am to be parson for the nonce;
what shall I read ?' said he, sauntering up to
Sam Silva, who was busy teaching a hymn to
his little charge.
'Seeing it's sailors, massa, I think you should
read about the storms that Jesus turned into a
calm,' said the negro, after reflecting a little.
'A capital idea!' said the young man
eagerly. 'Find the place for me in your Bible,
Sam,-do, like a good fellow.'
Sam did as he was requested, and the young
man took the Bible, keeping his finger between
the leaves at the place.
'Mister Bennet, be you going to peach '
asked little Harry. 'Sammy can peach,' he
added, without waiting for a reply.
36 Sam Silva.
Massa Harry, Massa Harry!' cried the
'Come, Sam, confess,' cried Bennet gaily.
'I had no idea you tried the parson; confess.'
'Never preached in my life, Massa Bennet,'
said the negro; 'but you see, Massa Harry,
he be with me at the prayer-meeting one night,
and hear me say a word or two to the brethren.'
'Oh, I see you are up to it,' continued
Bennet, 'and I don't see why I should not
have a colleague in the work. I'll read, and
you'll preack. The Reverend Samuel Silva!-
it sounds well;' and he clapped the negro on
the back, his eyes dancing with mischievous glee.
'Massa, Massa said the negro a little re-
'Why, to be serious, Sam, where's the differ-
ence in speaking a word or two to the sailors
and a word or two to your brethren?' said he.
'In my opinion the sailors have more need of
it, and it may do them good, Sam. Think of
that! It's in the way of duty perhaps.'
The Calm. 37
He had begun in jest, but, creature of impulse
as he was, he ended in earnest. And poor Sam
was sorely puzzled, for he had often wished to
address words of kindly warning to the sailors,
who had been rather inclined to be kind to and
make a pet of the black man, just as they would
have petted any tame animal who happened to
enliven their life on board ship; and now an
opportunity was offered him,-forced upon him,
as it were,-which, all unwilling as he was, he
wondered if it would be sinful to neglect.
'Sam's to preach after I read,' said Mr.
Bennet to the amazed captain, who had re-
turned to say that all was ready. A hasty side
glance warned him not to express the surprise
he felt, and, with an amused smile lurking
round the corners of his mouth, he led the way
to the forecastle, where the sailors were already
assembled. 'Come away, Sam,' said Bennet;
and, accustomed to obey instinctively without
consulting his own feelings, Sam followed, with
little Harry perched on his shoulder. The crew
38 Sam Silva.
were all seated in decorous order, some of them
with Bibles in their hands, and every one look-
ing clean and tidy, and withal well pleased;
for that one of the gentlemen passengers should
condescend to read to them seemed an unex-
pected honour, and one which raised them con-
siderably in their own esteem. The presence
of little Harry, too, a favourite with one and all,
added to the novelty of the scene, and each
man was anxious to be the favoured one on
whose knee the child would sit; and all envied
the boatswain, who succeeded in coaxing him
from the faithful negro's arms. Then Mr.
Bennet, with a flush on his brow, And a feeling
in his heart, that, once out of this scrape,
nothing would ever induce him to do the like
again, opened Sam Silva's Bible, and began to
read. Warned by his previous experience with
Sam, he read slowly and distinctly, and, in the
silence which reigned in the ship and all around,
his melodious accents fell audible and clear on
each listener's ear.
The Calm. 39
First he read of the great storm which three
words, 'Peace, be still,' turned into a great calm.
Then he read of the contrary wind, which
tossed a ship hither and thither on the stormy
billows, and of Him who came .walking towards
it over the waves, and who had but to set His
foot on the deck to still the wind to a whisper,
and bring the ship into port in a moment of
time. Then, pleased with the respectful atten-
tion of his audience, he roamed through the
four Gospels, reading whatever of story, miracle,
or parable he thought likely to interest and
please; and then, his task finished, he handed
the Bible to Sam Silva, saying, 'Now, Sam, it's
your turn.' And Sam took it, and stepped
forward to the front,-all traces of backward-
ness or hesitation having vanished during the
reading. For what was the fear of man to
Sam, who, listening with rapt attention, had
been walking with Jesus by the sea of Galilee,
listening, with Peter, and James, and John, to
the words of wisdom which fell from their
40 Sam Silva.
Master's lips? What was the fear of man to
Sam, who had heard the gentle Ephphatha
spoken, and seen the blind eyes opened, and
the deaf ears unstopped? What was the fear
of man to Sam, who had followed the funeral
procession of the boy of Nain, and seen him
restored alive to his weeping mother's arms?
What was the fear of man to Sam, who had
stood by the grave of Lazarus, and seen the
dead come forth alive? No; Sam was for the
time being far above the fear of man; and,
taking for his subject the portions first read
by Mr. Bennet, he delivered an address to the
sailors, full of earnest entreaty and affection-
ate expostulation. It was clear Sam loved
them all, though he certainly did not spare
them; and whilst his faithfulness brought the
tears into some of their eyes, it roused the
pride of others. And one man was heard to
whisper to his neighbour, 'A black fellow
like him, that can't even call his big toe his
own!' whilst little Harry looked round, proud
The Calm. 41
and happy, saying in a loud whisper, 'Sam
By and by Sam waxed eloquent, as, in
language telling and forcible from its very
simplicity, he brought before them the Syrian
scene of the storm and sudden calm which
followed, drawing so vividly the picture he saw
himself so clearly, that some of the men
glanced askance at the sea, almost expecting
to see a majestic form coming silently towards
the ship over the waters. Then the transition
was easy from the natural to the spiritual; and
Sam drew a still more vivid picture of the
storm which rages more or less in every human
breast, and of the Power which can turn it into
a calm, even as He laid the storm by three
simple words, 'Peace, be still I'
When he paused, the captain, who had been
standing near, listening attentively with folded
arms, came forward, and, patting him on the
back, said in a kind, patronizing tone, as
though addressing a child who had been recit-
42 Sam Silva.
ing something learned by rote for the amuse-
ment of the company, 'Well done, Sambo, very
well done!' Poor Sam! the words, the touch,
and, above all, the tone, roused him from his
dream, and, blushing painfully under the spell-
bound gaze of the sailors, he was once more
the self-conscious, humble slave, and slunk
away to the side of the vessel.
'I wonder if he's hypocrite, parrot, or true
Christian,' thought Mr. Bennet, who had lis-
tened with breathless interest to Sam's sermon.
'If he's the last, I would give all, ay, and more
than all I possess, to have a faith such as his.
But would I exchange places with him even to
gain that?' he added, with a gloomy smile.
'Nothing in this life, and everything in the life
to come! Nay, Edward Bennet, such sacrifice
is not required of thee The gospel is as free
to me as to him,-as free to the freeman as to
the slave; and yet-and yet -and, lighting his
cigar, he walked thoughtfully away.
SHer keel hath struck on a hidden rock,
Her planks are torn asunder,
SAnd down comes her mast with reeling shock,
And a hideous crash like thunder;
Her sails are draggled in the brine,
That gladdened late the skies,
And her pendant, that kissed the fair moonshine,
Down many a fathom lies.'
'Now is the ocean's bosom bare,
Unbroken as the floating air!
The ship hath melted quite away,
Like a struggling dream at break of day;
No image meets my wandering eye,
But the new-risen sun and the sunny sky.'
EFORE the sun set the wind had
risen, and it was no longer a matter
of doubt that a storm was brewing.
The captain of The Falmouth made signals
that his guest must remain on board all night,
46 Sam Silva.
and the captain of The Britannia shook his
head, and wished the night well over. He
knew that his vessel was scarcely seaworthy,
for she had sprung a leak during a storm
encountered shortly after leaving Jamaica,
and the pumps had been in use almost every
day to lessen the water in the* hold; and,
strange as it may seem, the honest tar, fearing
the worst, congratulated himself that the bulk
of his passengers were safe on board The
Falmouth. He would have been happier still
had none but himself and his crew been left to
wage unequal war with the fury of the elements.
'The wind's up at last!' cried Mr. Bennet,
holding on his hat with both hands, whilst he
steadied himself with difficulty. 'We're going
to have a jolly blow. I'm glad of it, for one.
I'm sick of that dead calm: it was enough to
make a fellow sleep for ever.'
Ay, ay,' said the captain drily, as he hurried
past to give some orders to the mate.
'It's glorious!' cried the young, man, catching
The Storm. 47
hold of Sam Silva, who approached, staggering
like a drunken man.
'Where's little Harry, Sam ?' he asked.
Massa Harry asleep in his berth, sir,' replied
the negro; 'he be very frightened for the wind,
and glad to be put in bed.'
'Poor dear, no wonder!' said Bennet. 'It's
almost a pity, though,' he added regretfully;
'he may never see the like again in his life,-
it's magnificent and so sudden after the calm.
What, Sam, you are not frightened, are you ?'
'Yes, I'm frightened,'said the negro solemnly.
'Who knows, Massa Bennet, what may happen
before morning? Oh, if my Massa Harry was
only safe!' he passionately ejaculated. 'If
massa had only been here !'
'Pooh, pooh, nonsense !' cried Bennet gaily;
'there's no fear of the good ship Britannia.
Sam, I guess she's stood many a stronger gale
At that moment the vessel gave a lurch,
which laid them both rolling on the deck.
48 Sam Silva.
'Halloa!' cried Mr. Bennet, as, laughing
and breathless, he regained his footing,-
'Halloa! Sam, this storm will teach us the
massa, this be no time for fun,' said Sam;
'we may be very near eternity.'
A flash of lightning and a peal of thunder
such as he had never heard before, prevented
the jesting reply rising to the young man's lips;
and the negro hurried below to attend to his
charge, fearing the noise might have roused
him from his sleep. Keenly alive to beauty
in whatever form, Mr. Bennet kept his place
on deck, and enjoyed the storm. Never before
had he seen such lightning, never before heard
such thunder,-the warring of the elements
affording to him an exciting contrast to the
dead calm which had preceded it.
'This is something like a storm! I wish I
could paint the scene,' he cried to the cap-
tain, who paused for a moment by his side.
'There's no danger, I suppose ?' he added.
The Storm. 49
'She's a noble craft: look how the masts bend
to the storm!'
'Ay, she's a noble craft,' said the captain,
looking up with melancholy pride at the
towering masts of his gallant ship, 'and she's
stood many a gale as bad as this; but, Mr.
Bennet, it would be wrong to conceal our
danger from you. That confounded leak
ruined her for bad weather. Our only chance
was to keep down the water, and it's gaining
fast, though they are working at the pumps
without intermission. Oh, sir, if you and that
child had only been on board The Falmouth !'
'Counting the negro as nothing,' muttered
Bennet between his set teeth.
The anguish depicted on the captain's face,
even more than his words, roused for the first
time a sense of danger in his mind; but, of a
happy, sanguine temperament, his alarm lasted
only for a moment, and he put down the evident
apprehensions of the captain to a sensitive fear for
the safety of the passengers committed to his care.
50 Sam Silva.
'It's curious what cowards these sailors are,'
he thought. 'It would have been liker me to
be frightened than him. We have the boats,
captain, if the worst come to the worst,' he
said, half in jest.
'The best boats went to The Falmouth,'
said the captain. 'We have only one left
worth anything: we must make the best of it
when the time comes,' he added; and Bennet
thought he heard a groan as he again hurried
away to shout some orders to the sailors.
'Humph! it's beginning to look serious,'
said the young man, no longer able to enjoy
the solemn grandeur of the scene.
'Seven feet water in the hold; she'll founder
before morning, sir,' said the mate, to whom
he had applied for confirmation or denial of
the captain's fears. 'We'll be glad of your
help at the pumps, sir,' he added. 'We have
fewer hands on account of the men who rowed
the party to The Falmouth.'
Bennet eagerly agreed to the proposal, and
The Storm. 5
in the excitement of working hard, almost for-
got that, in a few hours, time might be for him
no more, and eternity begun. But when another
took his place, he again sought the captain.
I expect the wind may fall as suddenly as
it rose,' said the latter; 'and if we hold out
till then, we may get on board The Falmouth.
But it's no longer even a question of time:
she may founder at any moment, and no boat
could live in that sea. God have mercy on our
souls!' he added as he turned away.
'I wonder if he knows what he's saying!'
muttered the young man to himself. These
sailors get so accustomed to being face to face
with death, I don't believe they really realize
the awful nature of the fact If he were lying
dying on his bed at home, he might not speak
so carelessly about his soul.'
Suddenly the storm broke forth with renewed
fury, as though the spirit of the ocean, unwill-
ing to lose its prey, was making a final effort
to engulf its victims ere the expected calm
52 Sam Silva.
came. In the midst of the uproar, Sam Silva
arrived on deck with his little charge. The
child, petrified with terror, was clasped to his
bosom, whilst his hands were convulsively
clasped round his neck, and his face hidden in
the negro's shoulder.'
Well, Sam,' said Bennet, in a tone of affected
carelessness, 'the captain says we are all going
to the bottom!'
Really alarmed and impressed by the awful
situation in which he and his fellow-sufferers
stood, the young man was himself shocked by
the lightness of his own words whenever they
were uttered, and the negro was still more so.
'Ah, massa,' he said reproachfully, 'it is only
our bodies that will go to the bottom of the
sea. Oh,' he added, in a tone of passionate
sadness,' if the Lord would only hear my prayer,
and save Massa Harry I If he were only safe!'
'Always the child!' thought Bennet. Has
he no thoughts of the more precious souls
around him ? I suspect if it came to his life
The Storm. 53
or the child's, Sam would look out for number
one like his neighbours.'
'Sam,' said he, 'if that child were drowned,
I suppose you think he would be sure to go to
'Sure,' said the negro promptly. 'But, oh,
Massa Bennet, do not you speak of his being
drowned; he be left in my charge. If his
father had only taken him to the other ship!'
"It's the fidelity of a faithful dog,' thought
Bennet. 'If we're all drowned, what would it
matter? He would never need to face his
master without the child,-he forgets that.
You and he will go to heaven together, Sam,'
he said, trying to speak in a kind, soothing
tone, though really in a state of irritation at
what he considered the negro's insensibility to
the claims of others upon his sympathy.
A sudden flash of rapture lighted up for a
moment the negro's face, but the very next
moment he wailed, 'But Massa Harry be
drowned Massa Harry be drowned !'
54 Sam Silva.
'And you'll be drowned too!' retorted
Bennet; and the black man shivered, but made
There they stood, side by side,-the bond-
man trembling in every limb, his very teeth
chattering in his head, keenly alive even to the
physical discomforts of the situation; shudder-
ing, too, at the thought of the approach of the
king of terrors, but with no fears or misgivings
as to the future, for his confidence was placed
in another, and not in himself,-Sam Silva was
nothing, but Christ was everything. And there
stood the freeman, outwardly calm and com-
posed, showing no signs of fear or trepidation,-
even what men call brave,-caring little for the
fury either of wind or waves, rising superior
even to the fear of death, as death; but that
sharp conflict once over, looking forward with
mournful dismay to the dark futurity which lay
beyond. In the one, the material had for the
time being conquered the spiritual; in the other,
the spiritual had absorbed the material: and at
The Storm. 55
that moment Edward Bennet would have been
only too glad to have changed places with Sam
Suddenly the wind began to fall, becoming
gradually less and less boisterous, and, ere
daylight began to struggle with the darkness,
the storm was over, and, had The Britannia
been seaworthy, the danger would have been
over too; but the ship was sinking, and the
captain ordered the boat to be launched with-
All was immediately hurry and confusion;
for the idea of saving the ship once abandoned,
self-preservation became the order of the day,
and in an incredibly short space of time every
soul on board was in the boat, save Sam Silva
and his charge. Sam had got excited like the
others, and, assisting to launch the boat, had for
a few minutes abandoned the child, and no
words can paint his dismay and remorse, when,
on returning to the place where he had left him,
he was nowhere to be seen. Harry was a sharp
56 Sam Silva.
little fellow, and had heard every word of the
conversation between Bennet and Sam; and
equally disliking the idea of being drowned or
going to heaven, he had, thinking the time was
now come, managed to secrete himself during
Wildly the negro flew about the deck, shout-
ing, 'Massa Harry! Massa Harry!' but no
sweet childish voice responded to the familiar
call; and, bewildered by the desperate urgency
of the case, he lost his presence of mind, and
wasted the few precious moments that re-
'Sam Silva! Sam Silva! where are you?
Make haste! they will cut the rope, and you
and Harry will be left behind!' shouted Mr.
Bennet, in tones of agonized entreaty; and,
'Sambo! Sambo! quick! quick!' cried the
captain, in loud, peremptory tones: but Sam
was neither to be seen nor heard.
'We have not a moment to lose,' ejaculated
the captain. 'If we only had the child, that
The Storm. 57
foolish fellow might take his chance: he must
have lost his senses!' and again he shouted,
At that moment Sam appeared, his face
exhibiting marks of the deepest anguish; and,
as he looked over the side of the vessel at the
upturned faces below, he wailed out, 'I have
lost Massa Harry! I have lost Massa Harry!'
Never mind the child; jump for your life,
Sambo!' cried out the mate.
Sam hesitated. Life was sweet, delay was
death; and there was the boat waiting for him,
voice after voice shouting to him to come.
But his hesitation lasted only for a moment;
for how could he leave the child behind him,-
the precious child left by his father in his care,
-his own darling Massa Harry? and with the
despairing cry, 'Massa Harry! wait for Massa
Harry!' he again disappeared.
'Captain, you'll wait for him,-you'll never
leave him behind!' cried Bennet.
It's one life against all that are in the boat,
58 Sam Silva.
sir,' replied the captain. 'We have not a
moment to lose. If I had only brought the
child!' he added, with a groan at the thought
of facing Harry's father; and, unwilling to give
the order to cut the rope, he again shouted,
'Leave Harry, Sam,' cried Mr. Bennet; 'you
know he's sure to go to heaven,' he added,
utterly oblivious at the moment of how strange
his words must appear to his listeners.
But no Sam appeared, and mutinous murmurs
at the delay arose amongst the crew. 'She's
settling down,' said the mate, 'arid it will take
hard rowing at the best to get clear, and not
be drawn down along with her;' and, all un-
willing as he was, the captain gave the word
to cut the rope.
At that instant Sam Silva appeared once
more with the child in his arms. He had found
him in his crib, his head buried in the bed-
clothes, innocently hiding from the threatened
danger. To seize him in his arms and spring
The Storm. 59
up the cabin-stairs like lightning was the work
of a very few moments; for, with the child
in his arms, Sam's presence of mind was com-
pletely restored. Another moment and they
might both have been safe in the boat; but the
terrified child, divining his intention, tightened
his grasp of Sam's neck, and kicked and
struggled in a manner which precluded all
freedom of action.
'Throw him down, and jump yourself, Sam;
the rope's cut,' cried several of the men in
one breath. But Sam took another way of it.
Forcing with loving violence the little hands
from their convulsive clasp, and pausing not
even to take one last kiss, he held him out
at arm's length over the ship's side, and just
as the boat glided swiftly away, he dropped
him into Mr. Bennet's outstretched arms,
crying, in clear, firm accents, 'I give him to
you, Massa Bennet; you give him to his
Mr. Bennet could not speak; but as the half-
6o Sam Silva.
conscious child hid his eyes on his shoulder in
a panic of terror, he clasped him to his bosom,
and the action was enough for the faithful,
'Farewell, Massa Bennet he cried, in a
grateful tone; and, obeying a sudden impulse,
the remembrance of which surprised him not
a little when he thought of it afterwards, Mr.
Bennet disengaged his right hand from the
child, and, looking back, pointed upwards.
Sam understood him at once, and, with a smile,
cried something which was inaudible to those
in the boat, already at a considerable distance
from the ship.
'Can he swim?' asked the captain, in a
'Not one stroke!' said a sailor, as he passed
the back of his hand across his eyes, adding an
oath, really intended as an expression of genuine
'Oh!' cried Mr. Bennet in a tone of anguish,
and as though suddenly awaking from a dream,
The Storm. 61
'could we not have waited for him? can we
not return yet ?'
'Impossible!' cried the captain; 'she's going
down fast. Our only chance is to be far enough
away to save being sucked down after her. I
wish we were all safe on board The Falmouth.
Row for your lives, my men !' and the boat flew
rapidly on, the distance between it and the ship
becoming perceptibly greater at each stroke of
'After all, he's only a poor nigger; I'm glad
the child's safe,' Bennet heard him muttering
to himself; and with a choking sensation in
his throat, the young man clasped still closer
the charge given him by the faithful slave,-
faithful to the last, faithful even to death,-
and as the occurrences of the last few hours
rushed through his mind, large tears fell from
his eyes on the curly head of poor Sam's
At length safe beyond the circle of water
clearly defined around the sinking vessel, they
62 Sam Silva.
paused on their oars to watch the solemn scene,
and see the last of the gallant ship on board
which they had felt so safe only the day before;
and, as the morning sun suddenly broke forth
in all his splendour, the form of Sam Silva
was distinctly seen kneeling on the deck, now
nearly on a level with the water, his hands
clasped as though in prayer, and his eyes raised
to heaven. Various exclamations broke forth
from the sailors at the sight, the man who had
spoken before announcing his conviction that
' Sambo was sartain sure to go aloft;' whilst
Mr. Bennet gazed till he could gaze no longer,
and then, shuddering and shivering, he closed
his eyes, and never opened them again till
roused by the arrival of the boat at the side of
The Falmouth. Sam's figure, as he knelt upon
the deck of the sinking Britannia, was ever
after associated in his mind with that of the
martyr Stephen; and who can tell but that at
that moment the black man's spiritual vision
was equal to that of the bold defender of the
The Storm. 63
truth, and that, like him, he saw the gates of
heaven standing open ready to receive him!
That scene Edward Bennet never forgot,-
it proved the turning-point in his career; and
when tempted at any time, during a long life
of Christian faith and hope, to forget the
realities of eternity in the trifles of time, his
wandering thoughts were always recalled to
a sense of their supreme importance by the re-
collection of the faith, fidelity, and courage of
the negro slave, SAM SILVA.