THE NAVAL CADET
t, .p W
BY GORDON STABLES, M.D., R.N.
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.^ .?, i *
"TTHE BOAT PICKED THE MIDDY UP, AS TWO SHARKS SPRANG
AT TIE LIFE-BUOY."
THE NAVAL CADET
A STORY OF
ADVENTURE ON LAND AND SEA
GORDON STABLES, M.D., C.M.
Surgeon, Royal Navy
Author of "Westward with Columbus", "Twixt School and College"
"To Greenland and the Pole", &c.
WITH SIX ILLUSTRATIONS BY WILLIAM RAINEY, RI.
BLACKIE & SON, LIMITED, 50 OLD BAILEY, E.O.
GLASGOW AND DUBLIN
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA . .
THE NIGHT CAME ON BEFORE ITS TIME, .
THE STORM, . . .
STORY OF THE SKYE CLEARINGS, .
A TERRIBLE ADVENTURE, . .
IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE, . .
LOST IN A HIGHLAND MIST, .. ..
CREGGAN AND OSCAR, . .
ON BOARD THE GUNBOAT RATTLES, .
WAR AHEAD! . . .
THE CITY OF BLOOD,. . .
CAPTURE OF THE CITY OF BENIN, .
IN A WILD AND LOVELY MOUNTAIN-LAND,
A FEARFUL NIGHT, . .
WELCOME BACK TO SKYE, .. ..
LIFE ON THE GOOD SHIP OSPREY, .
MESS-ROOM FUN, . .
ST. ELMO'S FIRE, . .
XIX. THE BURNING SHIP, ... . 182
XX. GUN-ROOM FUN, . . .. 192
XXI. JACKO STEALS THE CAPTAIN'S PUDDING,, ... 203
XXII. IN THE WILDS OF VENEZUELA, . .. 210
XXIII. DOLE FAR NIENTE, . ... 219
XXIV. ON THE LONESOME LLANOS, . ... 230
XXV. PROMOTION, ............. 234
XXVI. ADVENTURE IN A PAPUAN LAKE-VILLAGE, .. ... 244
XXVII. A TERRIBLE TRAGEDY,. . .. .253
XXVIII. "THE BATTLE RAGES LOUD AND LONG," .. 263
XXIX. LIKE A BATTLE OF OLDEN TIMES, . 271
XXX. COURT-MARTIALED, ... . .276
XXXI. SAFELY HOME AT LAST, . ... 283
"THE BOAT PICKED THE MIDDY UP, AS TWO SHARKS SPRANG
AT THE LIFE-BUOY," ... ... FrTontispiece 201
CREGGAN KEPT THE BOAT HEAD-ON TO EACH THREATENING
WAVE, . . . 29
"WELL, MY LAD, YOU'RE ONE OF THE RATTLER'S MIDDIES,
AREN'T YOU?" .. . . . 82
"JUST IN THE NICK OF TIME, CREGGAN, WHO IS NEAR AT
HAND, FIRES!" .... .. . .111
"ANTOINE WAS IN A STATE OF MESMERIO FASCINATION, AND
PALE AS DEATH . .. . 217
"THE BOAT WAS STRUCK BY A HUGE WAVE AND TURNED
KEEL UPPERMOST." . ... .265
THE NAVAL CADET.
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA.
HERE was something in the reply given by
young Creggan M'Vayne to Elliott Nugent,
Esq., that this gentleman did not altogether.
relish. He could not have complained of
any want of respect in the boy's utterance or in his
manner, but there was an air of independence about
the lad that jarred against his feelings, and made him
a trifle cross-for the time being, that is.
For Nugent was a great man,-in his own country
at all events. He was an ex-secretary from one of the
Colonies, and at home in Australia he had been like
the centurion we read of in the New Testament, and
had had many men under him to whom he could say
"Do this" with the certainty of finding it done, for in
his own great office his word had been law.
But here stood this kilted ghillie with his collie dog
by his side-stay, though, till I present my young hero
to you, reader. You will then know a little more of
the merits of the case.
THE NAVAL CADET.
Than young Creggan M'Vayne, then, no boy was
better known on land or at sea, all along the wild
rocky shores that stretch from Loch Snizort to the
very northernmost cape of Skye, well-named in the
Gaelic "The Island of Wings". At any time of the
day or by moonlight his little skiff of a boat might be
met by sturdy fishermen speeding over the waves of
the blue Minch, or lazily floating in some rock-
guarded bay, while its solitary occupant lured from
the dark, deep water many a silvery dancing fish.
But inland, too, he was well-known, on lonely moor
and on mountain brow.
And Creggan was welcome wherever he went.
Welcome when he appeared at the doors of the rude
huts that were huddled along the sea-shore, welcome
in the shepherd's shieling far away on the hills, and
welcome even at the firesides of gamekeepers them-
Up to the present time, at all events, Creggan's life
had been a half-wild one, to say the least of it.
Though tall for his years, which barely numbered
fourteen, he was as strong and well-knit as the
sinewy deer of the mountains. Good-looking he
certainly was, with a depth of chin that pronounced
him more English than Scotch; the bluest of eyes,
a sun-kissed face, and fair, curly hair of so self-
assertive a nature that Creggan's Highland bonnet
never by any chance got within three inches of his
From that same bonnet, then, down to his boots,
or rather brogues, the lad looked every inch a gentle-
man. He was just a trifle shy in presence of his
elders and those who moved in a superior walk of
life to him; but every really good honest-hearted lad
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA.
is so. Among the peasantry, however, he was always
his own manly self.
There was one thing concerning Creggan's wild
life that he did not care for anyone to know, not
even his best friend, M'Ian the minister. And it was
this: he was kind to the very poor. The fact is, that
the lad was always either in pursuit of game, as he
chose to call even rabbits, or fishing from his skiff or
from the rocks, so that he had generally more than
sufficed for his own needs and those of his guardian,
whom I shall presently introduce to you. So when
he appeared at the door of widow M'Donald, M'Leod,
or M'Rae, as the case might be-for they were nearly
all Macs thereabout,-you couldn't have guessed that
he was carrying a beautiful string of codling or a
sonsyy" rabbit, so carefully was it concealed in his
well-worn and somewhat tattered plaid.
I am quite sure that Creggan's faithful collie, whose
name was Oscar, quite approved of what his master
did; he always looked so pleased, and sometimes even
barked for joy, when Creggan presented those welcome
gifts, and while the recipients called blessings down
from heaven on the boy's curly head.
But not only did the poorest among the crofters, or
squatters as they might have been called, love the
winsome, happy-visaged boy, but many of them
looked upon him with a strange mixture of super-
stition and awe. He was supposed to bear a kind of
charmed life, because a mystery hung over his advent
which might never, never be cleared up. For Creggan
was an ocean-child in the truest sense of the word.
When a mere infant he had been found in a small
boat which was stranded on the rock-bound Isle of
Kilmara, off the shores of Skye, one morning after a
THE NAVAL CADET.
gale of wind. In this islet, which indeed is but little
more than a sea-girt rock, he had dwelt for many
years with the strange being who had picked him up
half-frozen, and had wooed him back to life, and be-
came not only a father to him but a tutor as well.
A strange being indeed was old Tomnahurich, the
Hermit of Kilmara, the name by which he was gener-
ally known. Only old people could remember his
coming to and taking possession of the island, which
probably belonged to no one in particular, although in
summer-time a few sheep used to be sent to crop the
scanty herbage that grew thereon. But one beautiful
spring morning,-with snow-white cloudlets in the
blue sky, and a light breeze rippling the Minch, till
from the mainland of Skye it looked like~ome mighty
river rolling onwards and north twixtt the Outer and
Inner Hebrides,-some fisher-lads on landing were con-
fronted by a tall, brown-bearded stranger, dressed in
seaman's clothes, and with a cast of countenance and
bearing that showed he was every inch a sailor. He
had come out from a cave, and into this, with smiles
and nods and talking in the purest of Gaelic, he had
invited the young fellows. They found a fire burning
here, and fish boiling; there was a rude bench, several
stools, and various articles of culinary utility, to say
nothing of a row of brown stone bottles, the contents
of one of which he begged them to taste.
But where the hermit had come from, or how or
why he had come, nobody could tell, and he never
even referred to his own history.
He had ceased to dwell in the cave after a time,
and with wood from a shipwrecked barque he had
built himself, in a sheltered corner, a most substantial,
though very uncouth kind of a dwelling-hut. As the
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA.
time went on, silver threads had begun to appear in
the brown of the hermit's beard; and now it was
nearly white. He was apparently as strong and
sturdy as ever, notwithstanding the wintryness of
his hair, and the boy loved his strange guardian
far more than any friend he had, and was never so
happy anywhere as at the rude fireside of his island
We never think of what Fate may have in store
for us, especially when we are young, nor at what
particular date fortune's tide may be going to flow
This morning, for instance, when Creggan came on
shore with Oscar, he had no idea that anything par-
ticular was going to happen. He had first and fore-
most drawn up his little boat-the very skiff it was in
which he had been cradled on the billowy ocean,-
then gone straight away up to the manse. Here he
was a great favourite, and M'Ian, the kind-hearted
minister, had for years been his teacher, educating the
boy with his own two children, Rory and Maggie, both
I am not going to say that Creggan was more clever
than children of his age usually are, but as the in-
struction he received was given gratuitously or for
love, he felt it to be his bounden duty to learn all he
could so as to gratify his teacher.
His English was therefore exceptionally good al-
ready, and he had made good progress in geography,
history, arithmetic, and knew the first two books of
Euclid; and he could even prattle in French, which
he had learned from the hermit. It was usual for
Creggan to spend an hour or two playing with Rory
and little winsome Maggie, after lessons, but to-day
THE NAVAL CADET.
they were going with their father to the distant
town of Portree, so, after bidding them good-bye he
shouldered his little gun, a gift from M'Ian, and,
whistling for Oscar, went off to the cairns to find
a rabbit or two.
The cairns where the rabbits dwelt were small
rounded hills about a quarter of a mile inland from
the wild cliffs that frowned over the deep, dark sea.
These knolls were everywhere covered with stones, and
hundreds of wild rabbits played about among these.
But no sooner had Creggan shot just one than the rest
disappeared into their burrows as if by magic. The
boy had plenty of patience, however, so he simply lay
down and began to read. Not to study, though. His
school-books he had left in the graveyard on an old
tombstone, and near to the last resting-place of the
romantic Flora M'Donald, the lady who had saved the
unfortunate Prince Charlie Stuart.
After half an hour he secured two more rabbits, and
as the sun began to wester, he strolled slowly back-
wards towards the spot where he had beached his
boat, with no intention, however, of putting out to sea
for some little time.
With the exception of his school-books poor Creg-
gan's library was wonderfully small, and his literature
was nearly always borrowed or given to him. For
instance, even in the most squalid huts he had often
found books that gave him no end of pleasure. They
were mostly in the grand old Gaelic; but Creggan
could read the language well, and in the long dark
forenights of winter he used to delight the old hermit
by trotting out the mysterious and Homeric-like lines
of Ossian's poems. Then tourists, to whom he acted
in the capacity of guide in summer-time, sometimes
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA.
gave him a book, and M'Ian's library was always at
So to-day he had thrown himself on his face on the
green cliff-top, and had commenced to read his Ossian.
What a glorious summer afternoon! There was
the blue Minch asleep in the sunshine, and stretching
away and away far over to the hazy hills of Harris
and Lewis. White gulls were floating on its billows
close inshore, or wheeling high in air around the stu-
pendous cliffs, where their nests were,-their plaintive,
melancholy notes mingling with the song of the lark,
the mavis, and the merle, while the solemn boom of
the breaking waves made a sweet but awful diapason.
The air all around was warm and balmy, and laden
with the sweet breath of wild thyme.
And Creggan M'Vayne was just reading one of his
favourite, because most romantic passages, when the dry
and business-like tones of Elliott Nugent fell upon his
ear. Beautiful, indeed, did the boy consider every
line of that wild and weird poem. Carric-Thura. The
ghost scene therein made him shudder; but it was the
death of the lovers on the field of battle-the death of
Connal and Crimora that affected him most. She had
given him his arms with sad and woesome foreboding,
but at the same time had determined to-follow him
into the fight.
Here was the din of arms; here the groans of the
dying. Bloody are the wars of Fingal, 0 Connal, and
it was here thou didst fall! Thine arm was like a
storm; thy sword a beam of the sky; thy height a
rock upon the plain; thine eyes a furnace of fire.
Warriors fell by thy sword as the thistles by the staff
of a boy. Then Dargo the mighty came on, darkening
in his wrath.
THE NAVAL CADET.
Bright rose their swords on each side; loud was the
clang of their steel.
But Crimora was near, bright in the armour of
man. Her yellow hair is loose behind, her bow is
in her hand.
She drew the string on Dargo; but-erring-she
pierced her Connal. He falls like an oak on the plain;
like a rock from the shaggy hill. What now can she
do, 0 hapless maiden? See how he bleeds, her Connal
All night long she weeps and all the livelong day.
0 Connal, 0 Connal, my love and my friend!
But with grief the maiden dies, and in the same
grave they sleep. Undisturbed they now sleep to-
gether; in the tomb on the mountain they rest alone,
and the wind sighs through the long green grass that
grows twixt the stones of the grave.
Autumn is dark on the mountains; gray mists rest
on the hills. Dark rolls the river through the narrow
plain. A tree stands alone on the hill and marks the
slumbering Connal. The leaves whirl round in the
wind and strew the grave of the dead. Soft be their
rest, hapless children of stream Loda.
Here Creggan had closed the book with a sigh.
"Boy, are you willing to earn an honest shilling?
Keep back that dog, please!"
The boy had sprung to his feet and seized the all-
too-impetuous Oscar by the collar.
Nugent's appearance was somewhat out of keeping
with the grandeur of the scenery around him. Thin
and wan he was, with close-trimmed whiskers turning
to gray, a London coat, and a soft felt hat.
"Earn a shilling, sir?"
"I said earn a shilling, an honest shilling. But
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA. 17
perhaps you are above that sort of thing. You Skye
Highlanders are, as a rule, so lazy."
Thank you, sir, but I am not a Skyeman, though
I should not be ashamed to be. I was born on the
high seas, and I have neither mother nor father."
Nugent's voice softened at once. His whole bearing
"Poor boy!" he said. "I fear I talked harshly.
But come, we were directed here by an old man who
told us you could guide us over the mountains
inland. My wife is an artist, and wants to make
a sketch or two. See, yonder she comes, and my little
daughter, Matty. Come, you seem to be a superior
sort of lad, you shall have half a crown."
"I don't want your money. I sha'n't touch it. But
if you wait a few minutes I will guide you to a
strange land far away among the hills. There will
just be time to return before sunset."
"And you will take no reward?"
"Oh yes, sir, I will. I love books. I would have
a book if you could lend it to me."
"That we will, with pleasure. I have a boy just
about your age-sixteen, and he lives in books. You
are a little over sixteen, perhaps?"
"No, sir," he replied, taking off his b6nnet now, for
Mrs. Nugent and Matty had come up; "I want some
months of fourteen."
"You are a very beautiful Highland boy," said
Matty, gazing up at Creggan with innocent admira-
tion; "and if you is good, mamma will paint you."
"Hush, dear, hush!" cried the stately mother.
Creggan looked at the child. He had never seen
anyone so lovely before, not even in Portree. But
(M 397) B
18 THE NAVAL CADET.
there was a little green knoll high up in a glen that
he knew of, on which, as the old people told him,
fairies danced and played in the moonlight. He had
never seen any of these, though many times and oft
he had watched for them. But he thought now that
Matty must just be like one.
I must confess that there was a small hole in each
of the elbows of Creggan's tweed jacket, but neverthe-
less when he stepped right up, as if moved by some
sudden impulse and shook Matty's tiny hand, his
bearing was in keeping with the action, and even
Nugent himself admitted afterwards that he looked
a perfect little gentleman.
"I wish you were my sister."
That is all he said.
But for the next few minutes very busy was
First and foremost he made a flag of his hand-
kerchief and hoisted it on the end of his gun. This
he waved in the air, until presently an answering
signal could be seen on the distant island.
Then to right and to left, alow and aloft, he made
signals with the flag, much to the delight of little
blue-eyed Matty, ending all by holding his gun per-
pendicularly and high in air, after which he turned to
his new acquaintances.
"I'm quite ready," he said.
The march towards the mountains was now com-
menced. But the road led past the manse, and thither
ran Creggan, returning almost immediately with a tiny
Shetland pony. This consequential little fellow was
fully caparisoned, with not only a child's saddle but
saddle-bags. Into the latter Mrs. Nugent's sketching-
gear was put, and then Creggan picked Matty up
THE HERMIT OF KILMARA.
and placed her on the saddle. Oscar barked, and
the child screamed with joy, as off they headed for
the wild mountains.
High above the blue-gray hills of Harris lay streak
on streak of carmine clouds, with saffron all between,
as Creggan's skiff went dancing over the waves that
evening, towards his little island home. But the boy
saw them not, saw nothing in fact till his boat's keel
rasped upon the beach, where his foster-father stood,
ready to haul her up.
For Creggan's thoughts were all with his newly-
found friends and the doings of this eventful day.
THE NIGHT CAME ON BEFORE ITS TIME.
T HE home of Hermit M'Vayne, which was Creggan's
foster-father's real name, was indeed a strange
one. Situated under the south-western side of a rock,
partly leaning against it, in fact, stood the strong and
sturdy hut. The sides, and even the roof, were of
timber, the latter thatched with heather and grass;
though only one gable was of stone, and here was the
chimney that conducted the smoke from the low
hearth upwards and outwards to the sky.
And night and day around this log-house moaned
the wind, for even when almost calm on the mainland
a breeze was blowing here, and ever and aye on the
dark cliff-foot beneath broke and boomed the waves
of the restless Minch. But when the storm-king rose
in his wrath and went shrieking across the bleak
island, the spray from the breakers was dashed high
and white, far over the hut, and would have found
its way down the chimney itself had this not been
protected by a moving cowl.
But I really think that the higher the wind blew,
and the louder it howled, while the waves sullenly
boomed and thundered on the rocks below, the cosier
and happier did the hermit and his foster-child feel
THE NIGHT CAME ON BEFORE ITS TIME.
Although, strangely enough, the hermit had never
as yet told Creggan the story of his own past life, nor
his reasons for settling down on this sea-girdled little
morsel of rock and moorland, still he never seemed to
tire of telling the boy about his adventures on many
lands and many seas, nor did the lad ever weary
of listening to these. And the wilder they were the
better he liked them.
It was on stormy nights, especially in winter, that
Creggan's strange foster-father became most communi-
cative. But on such nights, before even the frugal sup-
per was placed upon the board, the hermit felt he had
a duty to perform, and he never neglected it. For high
on a rock on the centre of the island he had erected
a little hollow tower of stone. It was in reality
a kind of slow-combustion stove filled with peats and
chunks of wood, and with pieces of sea-weed over all.
It was lit from below, and when the wind blew
through the chinks and crannies, it sent forth a glare
that could be seen far and high over the storm-tossed
ocean. Many a brave brig or barque staggering up
the Minch, and many a fisherman's boat also, on dark
and windy nights had to thank the hermit's beacon-
light that warned them off the Whaleback rocks.
Having set fire to his storm-signal, the old man's
work was done for the day. Supper finished, a chap-
ter from the Book of Books was read, then a prayer
was prayed-not read from a printed book,-and after
this the inmates of this rude but cosy hut drew their
stools more closely to the fire. No light was lit if not
needed, and indeed it was seldom necessary, the blaz-
ing peats and the crackling logs gave forth a glare
that, though fitful, was far more pleasant to talk by
than any lamp could have been.
THE NAVAL CADET.
Now, Mr. Nugent and his wife had promised to visit
Creggan some evening on his lonely island, and not
only Matty but her brother also were to accompany
them. They did not say when the visit would be
made. Their lives were as unlike Creggan's as one
could possibly imagine. They were spending the
summer here in Skye, living in a rough sort of a
shanty, which, however, they had furnished them-
selves and made exceedingly comfortable; and every
day brought them some new pleasure: boating parties,
long journeys over the mountains, painting, botaniz-
ing, or collecting specimens and even fossils, for on no
island in all our possessions, does nature display her
stores on a more liberal scale than in this same wildly
The afternoon's outing for which they were indebted
to young Creggan Ogg M'Vayne had been pronounced
delightful beyond compare. It was indeed a strange
land they had reached at last, pastoral and poetic as
well. Bonnie green valleys, watered by many a rip-
pling burn, and little waterfalls that came trickling
down from the rocks, and studded over with lazy,
well-fed cattle and a few sheep. There were but two
huts here, near-by the banks of a little stream, that
went singing onwards till its brown waters were
swallowed up in a small lake, the surface of which
was everywhere wrinkled by sportive trout, leaping
high to catch gnats or midges even in the air.
The Nugents were surprised, but charmed to find
that the tiny encampment was inhabited only by
sturdy bare-footed, bare-headed lassies, who were here
to tend the cows, and to make butter and cheese, which
would afterwards be sold at the distant market town
THE NIGHT CAME ON BEFORE ITS TIME
Creggan had to be interpreter, for never a word of
English had these girls to bless themselves in.
And Mrs. Nugent stayed long enough to make
several delightful sketches in water-colours, over
which the lassies went into raptures. The clouds in
the blue sky, the distant peeps of ocean, with here and
there a little sail, the darkling rocks, the mountain
peaks, and nearer still in the foreground, the foaming
linns, the green braes, and the beautiful cows, with
their attendants, all came out on the paper by the
magic touch of the artist's brush.
Long before they had once more reached the cliffs by
the sea that night, Matty and Creggan seemed to have
established a friendship as frank and free as if they
had known each other for many and many a year.
Then good-byes had been said, and the promise given
by Mr. Nugent to come out to the island some after-
noon, or to take it in their way home from the far-off
island of Harris. But a fortnight passed by and they
had not yet appeared. Nor, although he thought about
them, and especially about Matty, times without num-
ber, had Creggan seen them even at a distance.
One afternoon, the boy in his skiff returned home
much sooner than usual.
It is not in winter only that wild storms sweep up
or down or across the Minch, for even in summer, and
suddenly too, gales arise, and while, as far as eye can
see, the Atlantic is one wide chaos of broken and
foaming water, the cliffs and hills seem shaken to
their rude foundations by wind and wave. Yet
speedily as such tempests come, there are generally
indications beforehand that tell the fishermen abroad
in their open boats that they must run quickly for
the nearest shelter, if dear life itself is to be saved.
THE NAVAL CADET.
"Right glad to see you, lad," said the hermit, as he
helped Creggan to secure his boat high and dry behind
a rock, where, blow as it might, nothing could damage
"You think it is going to blow, Daddy?"
"Aye, sonny, that it is. Night will come on, too,
long hours before its time. Ah, boy, we'll have
to pray for those at sea to-night! I hope your friends
will not think of leaving Lewis."
You have seen them, father?"
"Aye, boy, aye. They passed the island almost
within hail of me, in a half-deck boat, which I think
must have been hired at Portree."
"And was little Matty there?"
"Yes, lad, and her father and mother, and a boy
older than you-though not so brave-looking."
The old hermit put his hand fondly on young
Creggan's curly head as he spoke. No father could
have been fonder of a son' than was he of this
"But, dear boy, you haven't come empty-handed, I
No; I never had a better forenoon among the trout.
From under a thwart of the boat forward, Creggan
lugged forth and held up for admiration, a string
of crimson-spotted mountain trout that would have
caused many a Cockney sportsman to bite his lips
The old man smiled, patted the boy once again, then
hand in hand-such was their habit-they took their
way along the winding path which led to the hut.
Oscar had been at home all day, but he now came
bounding out with many a joyous bark, to welcome
THE NIGHT CAME ON BEFORE ITS TIME.
his master back. More quietly, too, though none the
less sincerely did Gilbert, a huge, red tabby cat, bid
the boy welcome, rubbing his great head against Creg-
gan's stocking and purring loudly, while from the inner
recesses of the hut a voice could be heard shouting:
Come in, Creggan! Come in, come in!"
It was the voice of no human being, however, but
that of a beautiful gray parrot, who had been the
hermit's companion since ever he had taken up his
residence on this little isle of the ocean.
The afternoon wore away quickly enough, as after-
noons always do when one is busy. And Creggan had
hooks to busk, and his foster-father was busy mend-
But the sun set at last, in lurid fiery clouds, over
the hills of Harris, and soon after those very clouds,
dark and threatening now, began to bank up and roll
forward over the sea, on the wings of a moaning wind,
shortening the twilight and obscuring the rising stars
that had already begun to twinkle in the east.
The beacon had not been lit for many weeks, but
to-night the hermit seemed to take extra pains with it,
and as soon as the shadows of night fell over the sea
its red glimmer shone far over the darkling waves, on
which already white horses had begun to appear.
Bleak and cold blew the wind, too, for in these
northern climes summer is not always the synonym for
warmth of weather.
But supper and prayers over, the two Crusoes, as
we well might term them, drew closer round the fire.
Even Polly asserted her right to join the circle.
"Poor Polly!" she cried; "poor dear old, old Polly!
Polly wants to come!"
Then Creggan carried her cage forward and placed
THE NAVAL CADET.
it in a corner, where the firelight might dance and
flicker on it. Collie curled up in front of the fire,
and close beside him Gibbie the cat sat down. And
before seating himself near to his foster-father's big
easy-chair, the boy handed him his pipe, and not that
alone, but a fine old fiddle that he took from a green
baize bag which hung upon the wall.
And now," said Creggan; "now, dear Daddy, I feel
just very happy, but I'm not quite sure yet what I
shall make you do. You shall sing, anyhow, over the
fiddle, some fine old sea-song, father, that will bring
right up before me all the romance of your early days,
just as this little book of Ossian's poems makes me
think I am living in the olden times, and can hear the
clang and crash of battle, or the sweet notes of harps
sounding low and sweet in halls by the stormy sea."
Verily, boy, you are a poet yourself. Ah, lad, when
you enter life all will be stern reality!"
"I never want to enter life, Daddy dear; I want
always, always to be here with you on our own little
island home. But listen, Daddy, was that not a scream?
"Nay, boy, nay, it is but the cry of some storm-
frightened night-bird rising shrill and high over the
wail of the wind and dash of the waves. Yet may
Heaven in its mercy protect any craft on a lee shore
But Creggan felt uneasy, and for quite a long time
he sat in silence, while the hermit, gazing quietly into
the blazing fire as he smoked, seemed to recall many a
strange event in his former life.
Suddenly Creggan sprang up. He had keen ears.
The dog ran towards the door at the same time, barking
THE NIGHT CAME ON BEFORE ITS TIME.
For down the wind, twice repeated, had floated the
sharp sound of a rifle or gun.
Oh, Daddy," cried Creggan, now pale with agitation,
"some ship or boat is on the Whaleback rocks out
yonder! That was a signal of distress."
"Then, boy, we must give all the assistance in our
power, and if in doing so we die, we shall die doing
our duty. Light the great hurricane-lamp. Keep
calm, lad; while there is life there is hope."
Next minute both stood together on the edge of
the cliff that pointed nor'ard and west, while behind
them on a pole was fixed the hurricane-lamp.
What a wild turmoil of a sea was down below!
As each white wave dashed against the beetling rocks,
high upwards almost to their feet rose the singing,
seething water. But at present the sky was not
wholly overcast. There were rifts among the scud-
ding, hurrying clouds, and now and then the moon
"Look! look!" cried Creggan. "Can you see it,
Daddy? High and dark on Lorna's rock! The boat,
the boat, with the waves sweeping past and over it!"
The hermit passed his hand across his brow and
eyes, and strained forward to gaze into the darkness.
Just then the moon cast a pale glimmer across the
waves, and every line of the stranded boat stood
darkling out against a background of white and
The old man shuddered.
"Heaven be near to help us, boy," he cried, "but
yonder is the Nugents' boat!"
NEVER would I dare to detract from the glory and
honour that hangs, halo-like, around the memory
of one of our nation's heroines-poor Grace Darling;
but there are deeds done along the shores of this land
of ours every winter, ay, and every summer too, that,
although they shine not in story, are as bravely
undertaken and as courageously carried out as that
rescue at the Longstone lighthouse.
Though the hermit was white as to hair, though
his beard flowed backwards now in the breeze like
a silver stream as he stood in the glare of the
hurricane-lamp, he was not an aged man. Every
limb was straight, every muscle was strong, and
his lowered brows nearly hid eyes that burned like
living coals as he stood there on the cliff-top, pointing
towards the doomed and stranded boat.
Creggan, my lad," he cried, "we may not be able
to save a single life, but our duty lies plain before us-
we shall try!"
He unfastened the lamp and swung it to and fro
for a spell, as if to give heart to those on board,
then hastened with it down to the beach, closely
followed by Creggan.
Not only was there here, in a little rock-bound cove,
CR 3' E O J
CREGGAN KEPT THE BOAT HEAD-ON TO EACH THREATENING WAVE.
Creggan's own skiff, but one of far broader beam, one
with a sturdy keel, and encircled as to its outside
with a great and thick band of cork. The old man
called it his lifeboat, and it had done duty more than
once before, but never perhaps on so wild and stormy
a night as this.
It was quickly launched now, and, being to the
manner born, Creggan seized the tiller and the hermit
took the oars.
Every rock around the islet was well-known to
both. The lamp was hung aloft on a morsel of mast
that was stepped near to the fore thwart, and cast its
red glare on the seas ahead as well as on the faces of
these daring heroes.
Once beyond the protection of the black jutting
rocks, it was all that M'Vayne could do-strong
though his arms were-to keep the boat from
broaching-to, but soon he got weigh on her and
then the rudder told.
But how the wind howled, and .how the seething,
angry waves dashed over them! Sometimes the bows
were tossed clean out of the water, and it seemed for
a second or two that she would go down stem first
into the trough of the sea; and as that wave went
racing past her, down dashed the bows again with
a slapping sound that could be heard high over the
roar of the wind.
Not a word was spoken. Not a word could have
been heard in the turmoil, unless it were shrieked.
Yet Creggan knew enough to keep her head on to
each advancing, threatening wave. Neither the fury
of the tempest nor the anger of the curling waves
frightened him. He felt in that state of exultation
which danger never fails to raise in the hearts of
THE NAVAL CADET.
the truly brave, and beside which fear finds no
So sturdily did the hermit row, that in less than
twenty minutes' time-and this did not seem long
-the boat was well to windward of the stranded
The danger now was great. To bear down on the
wave-tops and get alongside seemed almost a hopeless
But although she shipped some water she came
bravely round, and went heading inland now, like
a bird adrift on the ocean tide.
The Skyemen on board the stranded craft saw her,
and did not require to be told to throw a rope. Next
minute it seemed-so quickly did the minutes fly-
that the tiny lifeboat was alongside and fast.
"Quick now!" shouted the hermit. "Lower down
the ladies and the boy. We caii only manage three.
Bear a hand, my lads. Bear a hand!"
It seemed in answer to the hermit's prayers that at
this moment a lull in the storm took place, and the
moon shone out bright and clear over the tempestuous
Nevertheless, the labour of getting the trembling
lady and frightened little Matty on board was most
dangerous, and had to be undertaken with the greatest
Nugent shouted to his son Willie to go next, but
the brave boy positively refused to get over the side
until the boat returned from the shore when his father
had landed. His father must go first, he said.
She did return, and then took off young Nugent
and two seamen, all she could stow away with safety.
There was but one man left in the lugger now.
Alas, for his fate!
Just as M'Vayne's boat was once more leaving the
beach, a heavier squall than any that yet had swept
over the sea dashed her back and beached her. When
the wind subsided somewhat she was once more
launched, but had not proceeded far from the shore
when she found herself surrounded by wreckage.
Just for one moment, in the side of a darkling
wave and in a glimpse of moonlight, a white face
could be seen and a raised arm.
That was all, and the unfortunate fisherman's body
was never found.
Everything possible was done for the comfort of
Matty and her mother and father. A bigger fire was
made up, and from his cupboard, honest, kind-hearted
Tomnahurich brought forth refreshments for them as
they sat before the roaring fire to get dry and warm.
The hermit even made tea for his guests, a luxury he
seldom indulged in himself, or Creggan either. Then
he said "Good-night", blessed them in his semi-patri-
archal kind of way, and left with Willie Nugent. They
reached the bottom of the cliff by the zigzag path
safely enough, though the spray dashed over them
in sheets of white and blinding foam. It was indeed
a fearful night.
The boat had already been secured, and when they
entered the cave they found that a good fire had
already been lit by Creggan, and was roaring up the
rude chimney that led into a cleft in the rocks.
For a long time the hermit, with the two seamen
and Willie and Creggan, sat around the fire, talking
low during a lull in the storm, or remaining silent and
awe-struck when the huge waves boomed and crashed
THE NAVAL CADET.
against the rocks, seeming to shake the very island to
Sorrow induces sleep, and at last all turned in on
beds of heather, and the events of this terrible night
Morning broke, bright and clear, but still the storm
Skyemen, like most Highlanders, are very super-
stitious, and one of these honest fishermen declared
that he had slept but little, for every now and then
he had heard poor Matheson-the drowned sailor-
calling, calling, calling from the deep.
The hermit assured him that it was but the scream
of the frightened sea-birds.
"Och and och no, Mr. Tomnahurich. Mind you, I'll
no be sayin' it was Matheson himself-it was his wraith,
sure and sure enough!"
Prayers were now said, and a hymn sung to that
beautiful old melody called "Martyrdom", the hermit
leading with his clear and manly voice, which many a
night, when far at sea, had been heard high over the
raging storm and the dash of angry seas:-
Take comfort, Christians, when your friends
In Jesus fall asleep;
Their better being never ends:
Why then dejected weep?
"Why inconsolable as those
To whom no hope is given?
Death is the messenger of peace,
And calls the soul to heaven."
All seemed more cheerful after this, and breakfast
was cooked and eaten with relish.
Then the hermit and the two boys, who were
already great friends, ascended the cliff. They met
Nugent, and were glad to hear that Matty and her
mother were well and happy. They had been told
nothing about the lost sailor.
"There will be no getting on shore to-day, I fear,"
said Mr Nugent.
The hermit shook his head and pointed to the
seething sea, on which white horses were riding.
"No, sir, no," he said; "but we have plenty of food
and plenty of fire. Heaven be praised!"
Tomnahurich all that day laid himself out to please
his guests. He did all the cooking himself; and the
food was by no means to be despised, for the old man
was plentifully supplied with stores from shore, Creg-
gan being the purchaser. Well, they had fish and
bacon, and the eggs of sea-birds, so beautiful in colour
and markings that Nugent said it was almost a sin to
break them. The fish were of the best, for off the
rocks mullet can be caught with rod and line. Rock
pigs these delightful little seafarers are called.
They had potatoes, butter, and, last but not least,
beautiful lobsters. What more could anyone expect
on a hermit's isle?
When the sun went down the storm lulled somewhat,
but it was thought advisable to remain one more night
on the island.
After an early supper in the hut, and, the cave also,
where the fishermen remained as troglodytes-if you
don't know this word, dear young reader, take your
dictionary and look it up;-after an early supper, I say,
the hermit went down the cliff and returned soon.
"I'm going to bring up my wife," he said with a
1 White horses=the spume on the breaking waves.
34 THE NAVAL CADET.
"Your wife, Mr. M'Vayne!" cried Mrs. Nugent in
astonishment. "Have you a wife, then? We will be
delighted to see her."
"That you shall, and hear her too. Her voice is
There was a roguish smile playing about his eyes as
Creggan was in a corner near the fire talking low
to Matty, Pussy was curled up beside Collie (Oscar),
and Polly was making droll remarks to all, when
Tomnahurich entered with his "wife".
He carried her in a green baize bag. A strange place
to stow away a wife in, it must be admitted.
"Have you brought Mrs. M'Vayne?"
"Yes," said the hermit, "and here she is!"
As he spoke he opened the green baize bag, and
pulled out his Cremona fiddle.
He smiled, but he sighed as well. "Och hey!" he
said; "this is the only wife I have now!"
But sweet was the music he brought from that old
fiddle. Sweet and plaintive at first. Then he sang
over it,-grand old sea-songs in which his listeners
could fancy they heard the "coo" and the moan" of
the waves, as they dashed along the quarter of some
gallant ship, far, far at sea.
Then looking up, and thinking he was making the
young folks a trifle triste or sad, he burst into such
a rattling cheery sailor's hornpipe, that the children
laughed aloud in spite of themselves, while Polly
danced for joy on her perch, uttering every now and
then that real Irish "whoop!" which used to be heard
at Donnybrook Fair.
That evening, as all sat in a wide circle around the
fire-peats and wood, and after a momentary lull in the
conversation, Mrs. Nugent addressed the hermit.
Mr. M'Vayne," she said, I noticed that you sighed
deeply when you took your violin from its bag. Now,
I know yours may be a sad story, but will you not tell
it to us?"
"Oh, tell us a stoly!" cried bonnie Matty, clapping
her tiny hands.
"I have never told my story to anyone hereabouts
yet," said the hermit; "not even to my sonny, Creggan
Ogg. But," he added, "when ladies ask, what can I
do but obey."
"Well, light your pipe."
The hermit smoked for a minute or two, looking
into the fire, as if to renovate his memories of the
Then he began.
STORY OF THE SKYE CLEARINGS.
I MUST be brief, madam," the hermit began, as he
glanced at a little "wag-at-the-wa'",1 "for night
comes on apace."
"I was born, then, in Skye, and not fifty miles from
the spot where I and Creggan here now live."
You were born in Skye," interrupted Mrs. Nugent,
"and yet you never go on shore!"
"Ah, madam! there is a reason for that, which I
will presently tell you. But for just one day I shall
go, I hope, before I die, and visit a green and lonesome
grave close to the cliffs where the sea-birds scream,
and where, for ever and for aye, one can hear the
moan of the waves-the sweet, sad song of the sea.
"I was born in a beautiful glen, and down near to
the beach was my father's cottage, only one of many
that clustered here and there, forming a village with-
out either street or lane, and more like the towns one
sees in Madagascar than anything else. We were all
poor enough, goodness knows, but still we were happy.
Our farms were mere crofts, and we tilled only the
tops of the ridge with the wooden plough, or what is
called the crooked spade. We paid but little rent, it is
'A small clock, with weights and pendulum exposed, that is hung
against the wall.
STORY OF THE SKYE CLEARINGS.
true, but our wants were easily satisfied. We were
called lazy by visitors who in summer passed through
the glen. We were not. For well we knew that if we
improved our land as some did, the grasping landlord
would at once raise our rent.
We were-and many Skyemen are to this day-in
a condition of serfdom. The old feudal system still
existed, and we had even to leave our own corn stand-
ing until we cut down and stocked that on the
minister's large and beautiful glebe. For this we
received nothing, and often before we were finished
at the manse, a wild, wet storm .would come on and
our own little patches of grain would be spoiled.
"So far was feudalism carried, that the first and
choicest of the fish we caught, whether mullet or saith
or codling, had to be given to the minister, and the best
of the crabs and lobsters also. In return for this the
minister visited the sick, with medicine in his pocket
-salts and senna or a nauseous pill. But he never
brought food. And many an old man or woman, aye,
and many an innocent child died, not of disease, but of
sheer starvation, although the minister's barns and
stackyards, and the landlord's also, were full to over-
"It was not from choice that we dwelt in those
windowless huts, with a raised stone in the centre,
around which the fire was built, with simply a hole
in the roof to let out the eye-racking smoke when
it chose to go.
"But in dark, dreary winters those roof-holes not
only permitted'a-little smoke to escape, but the snow to
drift in. The soft, powdery snow also sifted in under
the door, and through the apertures in the eaves which
did duty as windows.
THE NAVAL CADET.
"It was no uncommon thing for some of these huts
to be entirely buried in the snow. When one or two
neighbours escaped they dug the rest out. For water
we often had to melt the snow.
"Food? Well, madam, in summer we were not so
badly off; we had oatmeal and fish and a herring
harvest. But in some icy winters, when we couldn't
launch a boat, and when fishing from the rocks was
useless, as the mullet refused to bite, we lived princi-
pally on oatmeal-often bad at the best,-and limpets
that we gathered from the great black rocks when the
tide was back. They are poor eating, but we gathered
dulse from the boulders, roasted it with a red-hot
poker, and ate it with the limpets. At every door you
would have seen a large pile of empty limpet-shells,
that told of the poverty within.
My father's hut was one of two rooms. Our two
cows were turned into one at night and we occupied
the other. There were many other huts with two
rooms and a cow, or perhaps more than one. Often
the dividing partition between the cow's room and the
family apartment was but a few ragged old Highland
plaids hung upon a rope.
"They used to say that the breath of the kine and
the smoke were healthy, and kept us all strong and
hardy. Well, as a boy I preferred the fresh air. I
got plenty of this, because every day it was my duty
to collect all the cattle in the village, after they had
been milked, and, assisted by two honest collie dogs,
drive them far away to the uplands for pasture.
Would you believe it, madam, that even this privilege
was finally taken from us, and there being but little
herbage in the glen, many of us had to take our cows
to Portree and sell them? Yes, our homes were
STORY OF THE SKYE CLEARINGS.
miserable enough; but still they were homes, and we
dearly loved them-loved the seas that swept the
craggy shores, loved the green braes, the rocks and
cliffs, and the grand old hills that frowned brown
o'er all the scene. For home is home, be it ever so
"Well, I grew up to manhood. Both father and
mother were now dead, and when one day the neigh-
bours saw me and some friends start building a better
sort of hut, they smiled to each other, nodded and
winked. They knew what was coming. True enough,
for I loved sweet Mary Gray as I believe only High-
landers can love. I won't bother you with this part
of my history. But I just went on building my house.
You see it was like this, madam. Many of the lads of
the glen went every year to the herring-fishery at
Peterhead, and thus we saved a little money; why, I
even got real glass windows from Portree, and had a
real chimney in my hut, chairs, and a good bed. I
built also a byre for my two cows, so that I was
considered the richest man in the glen.
"Then one day Mary and I got married, and I'm
sure that when we were settled in our home there was
no more happy couple in all the glen, or in any other
glen. I had no ambition then. I only wanted to live
and die in our cottage by the sea. And I used to take
down my fiddle, a gift from an Englishman whom I
had saved from drowning, and sing over it such love
ditties as this."
And the hermit played:
0, whar was ye sae1 late yestreen,
My bonnie Jeannie Gray?
1To English boys. 'Sae' and 'hae' are pronounced 'say'and 'hay',
and in all Scotch words ending in '-ae' the ae' sounds like ay'.
THE NAVAL CADET.
Your mither missed you late at e'en,
And eke at break o' day."
Dear sister, sit ye doon by me,
And let nae body ken,
For I hae promised late yestreen
To wed young Jamie Glen."
"Well, time wore on; a year and a half-Oh, what a
happy time! Then a beautiful child saw the light of
day, and our joy was trebled. But about three months
after this came a bolt from the blue-an order that
every man, woman, and child was to clear out of the
"We would have a free passage to America, but the
glen was wanted as a sheep-farm.
"What wailing and anguish there was now in every
hut and hamlet!
"But the men were furious. They would take no
notice of the cowardly edict. They could not, would
not, leave their Highlands.
"Another month went past, and then half a dozen
men from Portree arrived with summonses and de-
livered them. These long blue letters were torn from
their hands, rent in pieces, and thrown fluttering on
the breeze. The men tried to use their sticks. There
was a battle, but a brief one. The minions of an
unjust law were soundly thrashed, and two were
thrown into a pond. They were glad to get away
with their lives, I think.
"Police were sent next, and a more terrible fight
ensued. Many of our brave glensmen were wounded,
but eventually this enemy also had to beat a speedy
STORY OF THE SKYE CLEARINGS.
"Nothing more happened for three weeks, and we
were beginning to think we should be left in the
peaceful possession of our bonnie glen. But one day,
much to our surprise, a small steamer cast anchor in
the bay, and on her deck were redcoats. Alas! I
knew now the grief had come. But still we deter-
mined to resist to the bitter end. Bitter it was bound
to be, for it was a cold, bleak day in early winter.
"We speedily placed heaps of stones where they
would be handiest.
"The fight lasted till nearly darkling. We kept
well beyond reach of the fixed bayonets, and battered
the soldiers severely with stones. Again and again
the order was given to charge. But these fellows
might as well have tried to follow Highland deer on
foot as lithe and active Skyemen like us.
"At last the order was given to fire, and two of our
poor fellows were stretched bleeding on the grass.
"The end had come. What is a stone-armed mob
against soldiers with ball cartridge!
"So we gave in, and I myself advanced with a
white rag tied to my stick as a flag of truce.
"But the officer in charge was furious. He must
do his duty, he said. He had dallied too long. Out
we must turn. He would give us an hour to save any
small articles we valued, no more.
"Oh, madam, fancy the sadness of that night!
The old, the young, and the infirm were turned forth
into the bleak cold of a wind-swept glen. The sick
were carried out in blankets, and put down on the
bare green braes to die or to live.
"Then at midnight every hamlet was fired, and the
glen was lit up by a blood-red blaze that tipped even
the distant hills with carmine, while tongues of flame,
THE NAVAL CADET.
mounting every moment higher and higher, seemed to
lick up the rolling clouds of smoke, while showers
of sparks, thick as flakes of snow in a winter's storm.
were carried far away to leeward.
"I was dazed. I knew not what to do. I knelt
beside my poor Mary, but she spoke not. How cold
her hand was! And her face. Ah,' I shrieked, 'my
wife, my wife is dead?'
"I remember nothing more. I had fainted, but in
the dusk of the morning I recovered my senses. Not
only was Mary dead, but poor baby had rolled over
her on to the grass, and there lay stark and stiff."
Tears were trickling down the hermit's cheeks, and
it was some time before he felt fit to continue his
"Ah, madam," he said, "that was a sad morning.
The people of the glen, I could just see, were all
loaded on to that steamer, which was to bear them
away, far away across the broad Atlantic. I could
hear their weeping and wailing, I could see the women
wringing their hands and the men tearing their hair
as they gazed on the land they should never see
again. The soldiers, too, were on board, and steam up.
Speedily she rounded the cape, and I was left alone
with the dead.
"All that day I lay beside Mary and baby, and all
the next bleak, cold night. The people that crowded
in kindness to the deserted glen could not get me
"But next day I consented to have my darlings
And there they lie, and my heart lies also in that
"Since then, madam, and until I came to this
STORY OF THE SKYE CLEARINGS.
island, my life has been one of constant wandering by
land and on the sea. I am a good sailor, but I have
also been gold-miner, treasure-hunter, and pearl-fisher
by turns. Anything that could give me excitement
and help me to forget was new life to me, so my
career has been a chequered one.
I have made a little money, and that is safe. But
at long last an indescribable longing to visit dear old
Skye seized me, and I returned to Glasgow. Here I
bought a boat, and having been offered a passage as
far as Skye in a sailing ship, which, however, did not
mean to put in there, I gladly accepted it, buying
stores, &c., and feeling that if it were possible I
should get a site for a house however humble, and
live once more near to baby's and Mary's lonely
"Well, my heart failed me at the last moment, and
when the kindly skipper lowered my boat and stores
and bade me farewell, instead of rowing to the glen I
landed here with my parrot. And here I have been
ever since, and here I may remain, madam, till God
calls me. I am willing to live, but I am also ready to
"And my sonny here,"-he put an arm over
Creggan's shoulder as he spoke,-" who came to me
in so strange a way, and has been such comfort to
me, he, I say, must go out into life soon and see the
"Hush, lad, hush! You must have a career-you
must be a sailor!
"Why," he added, "you may yet clear up the
mystery of your childhood. But come, children, I
fear I have saddened you;" and once more this strange
mortal put his fiddle under his chin, and dashed off
THE NAVAL CADET.
into one of the maddest, merriest airs the Nugents
had ever listened to.
Next morning all the hermits were landed, Matty
being delighted because Creggan took her, and her
.nly, in his skiff.
It was a lovely day now, blue sky above and
rippling waves beneath and around, that broke in
long white lisping lines on the beach where they
M'Ian and Creggan's two playmates, Rory and
Maggie, were delighted to see them all. Their
anxiety had been very great, for pieces of wreckage
had been washed up on the beach, and they believed
that every soul on board the lugger had perished.
They dined at the manse, and afterwards Nugent
took Creggan aside.
"Come with me for a walk, my boy. I have some-
thing to say to you, but I must have you all alone."
So off they went, down along the cliffs, and at last
seated themselves on the grass, high above the blue
Minch, the summer sunshine sparkling on the sea, and
the soft summer wind perfumed with the odour of
A TERRIBLE ADVENTURE.
4R. NUGENT sat down among the wild thyme,
and beckoned to Creggan to follow his example.
Then he lit a huge meerschaum, and smoked in
silence for a time, gazing thoughtfully far over the
Minch at the mountains of Harris, that lay like clouds
of blue on the horizon.
Now boy," he said at last, I'm a plain-spoken man.
You were instrumental in saving my life, my wife's,
and dear Matty's. How can I reward you? Not with
money, I know. You couldn't have lived so long in
Skye without being proud."
He smiled as he spoke, afraid apparently of offend-
ing the brave and spirited lad.
Well, sir, I don't want any reward at all, I only did
my duty, and the hermit has often told me that when
I clearly saw my duty, I was to go straight for it,
through thick and thin. But, sir-"
He paused, looking shy.
"Well, lad ?"
You may lend me a book to read."
Mr. Nugent took his pipe out of his mouth to
"A book, my boy! A book for saving all our lives!
Ha, ha, ha! This is really too amusing.
46 THE NAVAL CADET.
"But, tell me," he added, "what you would like to
"Nothing at all. Just live on the island with
"Nonsense, that will never do."
Well, sir, I suppose I must leave Daddy and Oscar,
but if I do, I shall go to sea, before the mast."
"That will never do either. Now, your hermit
Daddy told me that he had gold, and that all was yours.
I have not very much gold, but, lad, I have influence,
much influence, and it is into the Royal Navy you must
go as a brave cadet, and if you keep up your self-
respect and never give way to temptations, I feel
certain your career will be a brilliant one. What do
There was a big lump in Creggan's throat, and as he
gazed across the Minch he could see his dear island
home only through a mist of tears.
But he turned bravely round and said to Nugent:
Thank you, sir; I will go into the navy and try to
do my duty."
Well, that is spoken right manfully. Leave all the
rest to me. All you have got to do is to continue your
studies; but take plenty of open air exercise as well,
for in the service they like strong hardy boys."
Then he shook hands with Creggan and rose to
"We will be three weeks longer in this wild and
romantic island, and during that time you'll be our
guide, won't you?"
"That I will, sir," said Creggan, his eyes all in a
sparkle now. "I'll show you everything, and Matty
can always ride on the Shetland pony. Can't she?"
"You young rascal," replied Mr. Nugent laughing,
A TERRIBLE ADVENTURE.
"I believe you have fallen in love with my little
Creggan blushed, but spoke out straightforwardly.
"I don't know about love, sir. I love Oscar and
Daddy, but I like Matty so very, very much. To be
sure she is a child; but she is pretty, and talks just
like a linnet."
"Well, well, boy, the sea will soon drive all that out
of your noddle."
So they parted, and soon Creggan's little skiff was
dancing over the wavelets, her prow turned towards
Dear boy readers, I hope that many of you will one
day visit the Island of Wings-Skye. I've travelled
the world around, but I have never yet landed on a
wilder or more romantic island. I have no idea of de-
scribing the grandeur of its scenery. 'Walter Scott
himself were he alive could not do that; but if I now
close my eyes just for a moment, it rises before me, its
mountains towering far into the blue of the skies; its
thousand-feet-high cliffs; its bonnie bosky glens; its
long stretches of heath-clad moorland; its streams; its
torrents; its castles, mostly ruins, that carrythethoughts
back and away into the long forgotten feudal past;
and, last but not least, its dark tarns or lochs, and
the awful desolation of some of its caftons.
But independent of the wildness of its scenery, Skye
is not only a man's paradise as regards sport, but a
boy's as well, if he is fond of fishing. The dark lakes
abound in trout, and all around the island the sea is
alive with fish.
THE NAVAL CADET.
It was not only for three weeks, but four, that the
Nugents remained on the island, and happy weeks
indeed they were to Creggan,and I'm sure to Matty also.
The bracing sea breezes that blew across the hills and
braes had heightened her colour, and she now looked
more like a fairy than ever. Only, as a rule fairies
don't ride on Shetland ponies through the bonnie
Many a dark night at sea while keeping the middle
watch, when hardly a sound was to be heard, except
now and then the flap of a great sail overhead, or the
dreary cry of some belated sea-bird, did Creggan's
thoughts revert to those days he had spent in the
Island of Wings with the Nugents.
And when the stars were shining overhead, so big, so
clear, and so close that it seemed as if the main-truck
could touch them, the sailor-boy used to hope, aye,
and pray, that he might be spared to go back to Skye,
to see old Daddy, and to meet the Nugents-especially
His adventures with the child were principally
among the heather or at sea in the skiff. He was so
strong a boy, and so tall and brave that neither
Nugent himself nor his wife were afraid to trust him
with the child. So, on fine days he used to row her
right away out to the hermit's isle itself, and spend
hours listening to the old man's yarns, but above all to
Well, the two would sink baited lobster-traps in the
deep water near the towering cliffs, on which stood the
grand old castle of Duntulm. They used to go for
those lobster creels next day, and always found plenty
Or they would fish from the boat lent them by a
A TERRIBLE ADVENTURE.
fisherman, the saith leaping at times around them as
thick as rain-drops in a thunderstorm.
But it was even more pleasant to sit on the rocks,
and fish with a white fly for mullet or herring. The
idea of angling for herring may seem a droll one to a
South Briton, but it is done nevertheless, and many is
the good haul I have made myself.
From the place where the children used to fish, to
Nugent's little home was a good three miles' walk.
They had to pass over a chain of boulders, where wild
cats dwelt. One evening they had stayed longer fish-
ing than usual, and it was quite gloaming ere they
reached the stony chaos.
Matty was trembling with fear, so Creggan threw
his plaid around her, placing her on his right hand,
because that was nearest to the sea, and not to that
cleft and precipitous mountain face where the danger
lay. Matty crept as close to the boy aS she could.
Now, Creggan usually carried a stout stick with a
pointed iron-shod end. It was well, indeed, that he
had it to-night. For they had hardly got half-way
through the chaotic mass of boulders, when the boy
saw something dark in the road ahead that made his
heart beat quicker for Matty's sake.
The something dark sprang off the road as Creggan
and Matty slowly advanced. Indeed the child had not
seen it, for she had quite buried her head and face in
the plaid. The boy was beginning to think that the
danger was over, but he grasped his cudgel neverthe-
less. Lucky for him he did so, for they had advanced
but fifty yards farther, when with an unearthly and
eldritch yell that dark something sprang at Creggan's
It was doubtless the scent of the fish that had
THE NAVAL CADET.
excited the monster. But the lad's stout plaid saved
him. Matty had disengaged herself and stood trem-
bling by the roadside, while Creggan fought this
Again and again it charged, its eyes gleaming like
yellow diamonds. Again and again the lad drove it
Victory came at last, for with one well-aimed blow
it was laid dead on the road.
"It's all right now, Matty," cried Creggan cheerfully.
"Come on, a run will warm us."
So it did, and they soon got clear of the Wild Cats
Cairns", as the ugly place was called.
But they never permitted themselves to be belated
These wild cats are still common enough in Suther-
landshire, and the adventure I have just related is very
similar to one a boy had in that county. The cat
on this occasion sprang from a tree. The lad was
severely wounded, and although he managed to beat
the beast off he did not succeed in killing it.
In the soft and fleshy part of the middle finger of
my left hand are still the marks of the bite of a wild
cat, with whom I had a difference of opinion. The
beast had the best of it, and I went about with my
arm slung to my head for three weeks at least.
That ruined castle of Duntulm was a favourite
resort with the children. The donjon-keep was still en-
tire, and from a window, or the hole where a window
had been, one could look down over the precipice into
the deep but clear water; and Matty used to clap her
hands with joy to witness the great medusze or jelly-
fish swimming about. Very beautiful indeed they
were; some as big as a small open parasol, and fring d
A TERRIBLE ADVENTURE.
with long soft legs that kicked about in the drollest
Creggan used to read Ossian in English to Matty,
and she would listen with open eyes to the wild and
wondrous stories, all so full of romance and war. He
knew the history of the castle too. It was at one time,
he told Matty, the head stronghold of one of the
M'Donald clans, and here dwelt the warlike chief.
But across the sea-loch was the M'Leod country, and
in his strong castle of Dunvegan dwelt the head of
the clan. This castle is still inhabitable. Between the
M'Donalds and the M'Leods was a blood feud, and
many a fearful fight was the result.
Once the M'Donalds surprised the M'Leods in church.
They heaped up banks of peats and wood in front of
doors and windows, and burned or smothered every
man, woman, and child. But the M'Leods took a
terrible revenge, and for a long time the M'Donalds
were quiet. But a thirst for revenge still lay latent
in the breast of the Highland chief, and one day, under
the guise of friendship, he enticed M'Leod to Duntulm
Castle. When M'Leod arrived with his followers the
latter were immediately set upon and slain, and al-
though M'Leod himself laid about him boldly with
his broad claymore, he was eventually captured and
thrust into the donjon-keep.
Here he was kept for nearly two days without food.
Then a trencher of salt beef was handed into him, and
a large flagon which M'Leod thought was sack-a kind
of claret. He ate heartily, then turned to the flagon
to allay his thirst.
Alas, it contained only sea-water!
So poor M'Leod perished miserably of thirst and
52 THE NAVAL CADET.
This is a strange story, reader, but I have every
reason to believe it is a true one. It quite entranced
little Matty, and when Creggan had finished she sighed,
looked wistfully into his face with her bonnie blue
eyes, and said:
"Do tell us some more!"
IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE.
W ILLIE NUGENT was as far from being what
we call a "snob" as anyone could well wish.
Looks are nothing, so long as one is pleasant and
affable, so long as the ready smile-not the artificial
one-beginning at the lips spreads upwards over the
face like morning sunrise, and so long as heart and
soul speak through a pair of kindly sympathetic eyes.
Well, Willie Nugent was not extremely good-look-
ing. For my own part I do not like to see what we
called pretty boys ", because they are usually goody-
goody, namby-pamby, and affected, sometimes even
effeminate. But Willie was manly in appearance, and
so kind-hearted that I am certain he would not have
trampled on a beetle crossing his path.
Creggan Ogg1 M'Vayne was at best, for the present
at all events, only a peasant boy, and had not Willie
been a bold, frank Colonial young gentleman he
might have treated Creggan with some approach to
hauteur. In his face at times, had he been a snob,
there might have been a look that said plainly enough,
"Not too near, please ".
Instead of this he noted at a glance all the good in
SOgg is really a Gaelic word, and the "o" is pronounced long: thus
"Oag ". It signifies "young".
THE NAVAL CADET.
Creggan's character, and, figuratively speaking, hela
out to him the right hand of fellowship and camara-
derie from the first day they met.
Willie was like his little sister in many of his ways,
and Creggan loved him all the more for this.
I think that nothing cements friendship between
two boys more than a long tour on the road. Skye
isn't much of a place for cycling, you must know.
If you attempted to cross country your bike would
be just as often on your back as beneath you, and
there is a probability that a dive over a precipice
might end your earthly career. But there is no
grander country in which to travel that I know of,
even if you do not climb the mountains, many of
which, however, are all but inaccessible, even to
members of Alpine clubs.
So one beautiful summer day, when a wavy trans-
parency like molten glass or the clearest of water
seemed rising from the ground, when the sky was
ethereal-blue, with here and there just the ghost of
a cloud, and a gentle breeze blowing from far over the
wide Atlantic, Willie and Creggan, with their knap-
sacks on their backs and sticks in their hands, started
to explore the land. Of course Matty had a good cry,
and kissed both boys.
"Oh," she cried, in semi-Scriptural language, "don't
let any naughty evil beast devour you!"
Away the lads went, their hearts as light and
joyous as that of the laverock1 yonder, who, hover-
ing high in the brightness of the sky, so high that he
could hardly be seen, trilled his jubilant morning
1 Scottice= "lark ", but a much more musical word.
IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE.
Creggan had on his very best Highland costume,
the suit he wore every Sunday to kirk, and Willie
was neatly clad in strong Scotch tweed, so neither
were likely to suffer from the dews of night should
they be belated.
They bent their steps first to the bonnie wee village
of Uig that nestles close to the loch, an arm of the
sea. And here they had an excellent second break-
fast, and much enjoyed the well-cooked mullet, the
delicious ham and eggs-the latter those of the sea-
gulls,-and the butter and white crisp cakes.
They had tea.
The landlady was good-hearted evidently.
"And is it," she said, "is it that you won't be taken
just a thistlefull of mountain-dew to make your meal
But the boys only laughed and school their heads.
The sea out yonder was very blue and still to-day,
but while Willie was gazing away across it, somewhat
pensively perhaps, suddenly first one then another and
a third great fountain of snow-white spray was thrown
about twenty feet into the air.
"Oh, look, look, Creggan! What can it be?"
"Only the blowing whales," our young hero re-
plied. "They are always about. And there are
always plenty of seals about the low rocks, but I
never shoot them, because they are so beautiful, and
have eyes that look through and through you."
In their march across a long healthy moorland on
their way to Quiraing, for the first time in his life
Willie Nugent had the pleasure of seeing a real
Scottish eagle. He was wheeling round and round in
circles, but ever upwards, as if he would seek to reach
SA glass shaped like a thistle.
THE NAVAL CADET.
the sun itself, and ever and anon his wild whistling
scream made hills and rocks resound.
"There now," cried Creggan, pointing skywards,
"that isn't a lark this time. And that isn't a lark's
"No," said Willie, gazing wonderingly up at the
"I think I should like to be an eagle. Is it true
they take babies to their nests?"
"They build," said Creggan, "on shelves of rock,
that in some parts here rise sheer up from the sea
a thousand feet or more. Their nests are huge
bundles of sticks, built as a wild pigeon arranges
her nest, and in the centre is often moss, hay, and
feathers. These are called eeries. Men or big boys
have sometimes been let down by ropes to rob these
of their yellow, fluffy, red-throated gaping fledglings;
but Mr. M'Ian says it is very cruel, and highly
dangerous. Once, when a man went down like this
and stood on the eerie, where whole skeletons of lambs
lay bleaching in the sun, and many other strange
bones as well, the she-eagle with a deafening scream
dashed at him. He managed to beat her off, and the
fight for a time was fearful. He signalled soon to be
hauled up, but hardly was he in the air before the
eagle swooped down again. This time she tore at the
rope, and--oh! wasn't it awful, Willie?-it snapped,
and the man was hurled down, down eight hundred
feet into the sea."
"Yes. But though his body was found it was a
headless trunk, for in his descent, you know, and
when about half-way down, a piece of sharp rock cut
IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE.
the head clean off; and they do say that when well
out to sea you can see the bleached skull, if you have
a good glass, grinning on that shelf of rock."1
They went on now.
Not only was the moorland covered with moss and
green heather, but many charming wild flowers were
scattered about, with here and there patches of
sweetly-scented bog-myrtle and white downy toad's-
tail, and the whole place was musical with the song of
tit-larks and linnets.
They climbed that day high up into the crater of
the extinct volcano Quiraing. Right in the centre is a
round raised green plot, big enough to drill a company
of soldiers on. At one side the wall of rock is black,
wet, and solid, but at the other it is split up into
needles, higher far than Cleopatra's on the Thames
embankment, and between these, today, the boy-ad-
venturers could catch glimpses of a sea of Italian blue,
dotted here and there with many a sail, snow-white or
To gaze on such a scene as this, in a silence so dread
that you could hear the water dropping from the
rocks, is very impressive; but like everything solemn
and beautiful in nature, I think it brings one into closer
union with God.
Having slid down about five hundred feet through
a chaos of shingle, the boys completed the descent on
firm ground, and then bent their footsteps back to Uig.
They were tired enough to sleep soundly after a capital
supper, and next day they crossed the loch to visit the
land of the M'Leods, and the grand old feudal castle of
1 The same kind of accident occurred to a shepherd in Skye, who had
fallen over a precipice while trying to save a lamb.
THE NAVAL CADET.
And so, on and on and on for many days, by moor
and mount and fell, and by many a brown and lone-
some tarn, the boys wandered. They cared not either
to fish or to collect specimens. Amidst such scenery
and surroundings, in the glad sunshine and bracing
air, to live was sufficient happiness.
I cannot say they had any wild adventures worth
the name. They saw many huge heather snakes
curled up in the sunshine asleep, but passed them
Once when on a moorland, they felt very hungry
and there was no house near. But after walking a
mile or two farther, a shepherd's hut hove in sight.
There was no one inside except the comely wife of
the shepherd, who was away on the hills with his
But this woman was as kindly as comely, and re-
galed the lads with pea-meal bannocks and creamy
milk. Willie averred it was the best meal ever he
sat down to. Nor would the good lady accept even
sixpence for her hospitality.
They bade her good-bye.
The nearest road," she said in Gaelic, is across that
grassy moor. It would save three miles, but it is
swarming with adders. I advise you to go round."
But the saving of those three miles tempted the lads,
and they took to the grassy moor. The patch altogether
was barely two hundred yards across. The grass was
longish, withered and dry, and they soon found to
their dismay that it literally swarmed with vipers. It
was the home of the viper, and the viper was at home.
They heard them in their hundreds rustling about, and
they saw them too. But the lads would not show the
white feather. To walk across, however, would have
IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE.
increased the danger. So they took to their heels and
ran, as barefooted boys do when passing across a field
of low white clover, with bees in thousands on it.
The bees haven't time to sting, and in this case the
vipers hadn't time to bite even if trampled on.
"That's a sweater!" said Willie, when they landed
safe on bare ground.
"I'll go round by the road next time," said Creggan
However, all is well that ends well, so they went on
their way rejoicing.
It wasn't the first time that Creggan, young though
he was, had made a walking tour in Skye, so he made
an excellent guide for his friend.
Near to the wildest scenery of Scavaig, Coruisk,
and the Cuchullin mountains, they lived for a day or
two at a hotel that was palatial. Almost too much
so, indeed, for simple Creggan's taste. He was not
accustomed to carpeted rooms and silver forks, so
he told Willie. He was at home in a moorland, he
said, but not among lords and ladies dressed in silk
But Willie only laughed, and did all he could to put
him to rights, and to teach him the manners and
customs of polite society, both at table and in the
However, Creggan sighed like a steam-engine-a
sigh of relief, however,-when he found himself once
more in the cosy parlour of an old-fashioned glen
"This is true pleasure, Willie," he said.
"Well," answered Willie, I'm not shy, you know.
I am as much at home in an old farmer's house as
in a nobleman's drawing-room. Always keep cool,
THE NAVAL CADET.
Creggan. Don't imagine people are staring at you
in particular, and if ladies in society say pretty things
to you or praise you up, don't get hysterical, for they
never mean it."
Sometimes," continued Willie, I am asked to sing
or recite. By people who don't know me, I mean.
They say, 'Now, Master Nugent, I'm sure you can
favour us with a song, or a recitation'. 'Most cer-
tainly', I reply, and do both; but as I sing like a crow
and recite like a hen that has just dropped an egg,
they never ask me twice."
There were just one or two little things that marred
the pleasure of this wild and delightful tour. They
were indeed little, but very wicked. First there were
the midges. Among the bushes or in a garden in the
glens, there is no going out of doors of an evening
without muslin over one's face. If one neglects this,
the face will be bitten all over, till it resembles badly
Then the gnats or mosquitoes are very venomous.
Centipeds abound in some parts, great healthy
greenish-brown brutes, and if they bite you in a
tender part, it is nearly as bad as a snap from an
adder. In the dark you may see these fellows
hurrying through the short grass like miniature
railway-trains, all aglow with a phosphorescence that
streams out from both sides of them. Centipeds are
nasty persons and have more legs than they know
what to do with.
Away up on the moorlands, however, you don't find
these things; only daddy-long-legs in millions in
August. They are so tame that they are trouble-
IN SEARCH OF ADVENTURE.
some. Their favourite seat is a-straddle of one's
"Give us a ride old chap," they seem to say. I'm
going the same way as you."
I believe myself that the best plan is to leave the
daddy on your nose, though I confess it looks funny;
but, as certain as sunrise, if you knock one off another
gets on. So what are you to do?
Well, at long last the two young tourists, somewhat
dusty and tired, and sadly in need of clean collars, bore
round to Portree.
Here they rested one night.
Portree is a nice little town, and the people are
kind and obliging. But there is a herring there,
and you can scent him, either in boats or reclining
in a frying-pan, wherever you go.
I forget how many miles it is from Portree round
the northern portion of the island to Duntulm Castle.
Perhaps thirty. The boys hired a boat to take them
round, and a more delightful row or grander rock-and-
mountain scenery it would indeed be difficult to con-
Willie wondered to see the tartan rocks, but he
wondered still more to see a waterfall shoot right
over a cliff many hundreds of feet in height, so that
you could have sailed a boat between the rock and
the linn, and hardly get wet even with the spray.
There are no such sunsets anywhere in Britain as
there are in Skye. This evening the sun went down
in a glory of crimson, gray, and orange, which it is
impossible to describe.
Matty could not have been more rejoiced to see
Creggan had he been away for a year.
THE NAVAL CADET.
"Oh, I is glad you've cored!" she cried, jumping on
his knee with childish abandon.
Then in the starlight, Creggan launched his skiff
and rowed swiftly away across a heaving waveless sea,
to where the beacon burned afar on his own little island
home of Kilmara.
LOST IN A HIGHLAND MIST.
SOON now the scene must change, and we shall find
ourselves afloat on the dark blue sea, and taking
part in adventures far more thrilling than any that
could possibly be met with even in the wild Island of
Wings itself. I have said that, when not fishing or
boating with Matty, Creggan used to be guide to Mr.
Nugent and show him all the sights. In these devious
wanderings both rode, when the ground permitted it,
Nugent on a pretty bay mare, Creggan on a daft little
Shetland pony, who sometimes pitched him off and
then rolled on him. Only play certainly, but play
may be a trifle rough at times.
For example, I was walking-in full uniform-one
day in a lonely part of the city of Zanzibar. Well,
just as I entered one end of a rather narrow lane
a camel entered the other. There wasn't a soul in
the street but our two selves.
"There is plenty of room to pass," I said to myself.
So on I went, and on came the camel, with his head half
a mile in the air (more or less). When we met about
the centre, instead of nodding to me in a friendly way
and saying Yambo sana" (good luck to you), he
snuffed the air, grinned, uttered a little scream and
made straight for me. I thought my hour had come.
THE NAVAL CADET.
He didn't bite, however-he did worse. He crunched
me against the wall and turned me right round. Oh,
how I ached! For the next hour or two I felt as flat
as a pancake. I have never trusted camel or drome-
But just one little adventure before we leave dear
old romantic Skye-for a time, at all events.
It was early morning.
Creggan had just finished a homely but delicious
breakfast of mullet, crisp oat-cakes with butter, and
sea-gulls' eggs, and after bidding Daddy good-bye, had
launched his skiff, and with faithful Oscar in the
bows might have been seen speeding shorewards over
a blue but somewhat uncertain sea.
Might have been seen," I said. Yes, and was seen.
For look yonder, a tiny tottie of a child high on the
cliff-top waving a white handkerchief to him.
Creggan replies, and at once Matty disappears. She
is making a somewhat perilous descent a-down the
high cliff, which here is of grass and rock commingled.
She is there on the beach to meet Creggan and his collie
doggie nevertheless. And now after the usual affec-
tionate greetings she scrambles into the skiff, and, with
reason or none, the lad has to take her for a little row.
They are soon on shore again, for Creggan has
promised to guide Mr. Nugent far over the mountains,
in order that he may make some additions to his col-
lection of Skye flora.
"Ah, welcome, Creggan lad!" he cried, as the latter,
hand in hand with Matty, came up the little path that
led to the bungalow. "What do you think of the
weather, my child of the ocean wave?" he added
merrily. For despite the severe style of his whiskers
he could be right merry when he liked.
LOST IN A HIGHLAND MIST.
"I don't quite like it," answered Creggan dubiously.
"And why, lad?"
"Well, sir, you see it is nine now, and the hills
haven't taken their night-caps1 off yet. That is one
thing. Then the sea is a bit lumpy, and every now and
then comes a puff, making big cat's-paws on it."
"Well, lad, I start in two days' time for the tame,
domestic south of England, so if you are willing I'll
"Oh," answered Creggan flushing a little, "I'm
ready, sir, aye ready!"
Willie and his mother were off to Portree, so poor
Matty would have a lonesome day with only the ser-
vants to amuse her. The journey would have been
too much for Matty at any rate. After a second
breakfast at eleven o'clock they started. One, by the
by, can always eat two breakfasts in Skye, just as I
do while travelling in my caravan, "The Wanderer".
Oscar went with them of course. Oscar went
everywhere. And so much did Creggan love the dog,
that his heart beat high and the tears sprang to his
eyes when he thought that in about six months' time
they would have to part.
And who can blame one for loving a dog?
Right happy were Mr. Nugent and Creggan as they
set out over the moor towards the mountains that
forenoon, while Oscar ran on in front barking for joy,
sometimes starting a bird, and actually pretending to
jump after it into the sky.
"If I only had bits of wings," he appeared to say,
"I'd soon catch that quack-quacking old duck."
1 The morning mist on the mountain-tops is so called.
THE NAVAL CADET.
The hills had by this time thrown off their night-
caps and were fully awake, but the wind seemed on
the increase, blowing in uncertain squalls, then dying
away again into a calm. This is always an ugly sign.
Besides, there was a nasty bank of "sugar-loaf clouds",
as Creggan called them, rising slowly in the west.
Nor did Creggan like the appearance of them, and
said so to Mr. Nugent.
"Never meet troubles half-way, my lad," was the
answer. "For troubles, you know, are never quite so
bad when they do come as we imagined they would
be. The cloud approaching the moon is black and
dark, but lo! when it gets in front the light shines
"Well, sir," said Creggan, "I shall always try to
think of that, but I myself do not mind storms.
I was thinking of lonely Matty's father if we get
Creggan had a botanical case slung over his shoulder
and Nugent a much larger one. This latter contained
They collected a large number of specimens on an
upland moor they reached about one o'clock. Many
of these were well-known to the boy, but he could
only give Gaelic and English names to them.
Now, in a mountainous or Alpine region like that
of Skye, however high you climb it seems there are
still higher hills ahead of you. By three o'clock
Creggan suggested that they should not go farther.
It was good advice, for the sea-damp wind from the
west was increasing every minute, while away to the
east the moisture had already condensed against the
cold sides of the lofty hills, and here the wind was
LOST IN A HIGHLAND MIST.
blowing high, sweeping before it a genuine Scotch
Very few people in England have any idea what
a real Scotch mist means. Some think it is a fog,
some a drizzle. It is neither. It is rain broken up
into mist by the violence of the wind, and driven
along the sides of the hills or valleys in intermittent
clouds. It is searching, bitter, miserable, and will not
only wet an Englishman to the skin in five minutes,
but will penetrate even the plaid of a Scot.
They now sat down to luncheon. It was a very
sumptuous one, for Nugent was nothing if not a good
and generous eater. As he discussed his meal he
talked away right merrily, and told Creggan scores of
humorous and other anecdotes of colonial life and
adventure. So delightful were these that Creggan
said he longed to be there.
"If," he continued, "I could only take poor Oscar."
"Look here, my boy; Oscar is young, isn't he?"
"Only two, sir."
"And you love him?"
"Very, very much."
Well, I have a deal more influence than I care to
boast about. So, after you have passed through the
Britannia, if you are appointed to a small ship, as
you most likely will be, I'll see to it that Oscar and
you shall not be parted."
Creggan's joy was so great that for a few moments
he dared not trust himself to speak.
"Oh, thank you, thank you, sir!" he said at last;
and then Oscar had an extra hug, for a load had been
lifted off his master's mind.
While talking thus they did not observe a bank of
rolling fog creeping gradually up the hillside.
THE NAVAL CADET.
Creggan saw the danger first and sprung to his
We must hurry, sir; it is a fearful thing to be
lost in the mist all among the lonely mountains.
"If we hurry, though," he added, "I think we can
reach old Donald Clearach's cottage before the mist
gets near us."
All sail was now made downwards and homewards.
But this meant meeting the mist!
In less than an hour, and while only a mile from
the shepherd's hut, they were enveloped in so dense
a fog that even Oscar was puzzled. Donald's hut
stood on a bit of moorland, that, though far above the
level of the sea, afforded excellent pasture for the
sheep he tended.
Well, it is far more confusing to walk in a fog like
this than in the dark of the darkest night, for one
speedily loses his bearings, and owing to the muscles
of the right side of the body being stronger than
those of the left, the person who is lost usually walks
round in a circle.
"What's to be done, boy?" said Nugent uneasily.
"Nothing, sir, but wrap our plaids about us and
wait. Even Oscar could not guide us now."
Mr. Nugent smiled faintly, lit his pipe, and sat
The wind now began to get higher and higher, but
it had no visible effect upon the fog.
The time went on and on, oh! so slowly, although
Nugent continued to talk and tell of far-off lands
beyond the seas.
Six o'clock, seven, eight o'clock, came and passed.
But still no change. Creggan had a splendid plaid, and
his companion a stout coat of frieze, but the wet, cold
LOST IN A HIGHLAND MIST.
mist that went curling round their necks made them
shiver and shudder.
"Is it not possible to proceed, lad?'"
"No sir; we are on level ground now, you see, and
we should only go round and round and further
astray. We might fall into a wild-duck pond and
get drowned. Even if we were on a hillside, though
we could descend, we might go astray and tumble
over a precipice."
"You speak like an old man-wisely," said Mr.
Nugent. "Well, anyhow we can have supper. That
will warm us."
By the time they had finished it was dark.
The darkness soon grew dismal. Not a star would
shine to-night, except far away beyond the clouds.
It was pleasant, though, to think and know that the
stars and moon were there.
Both now remained silent for a very long time.
Their faculties were quite benumbed with the cold.
Then Nugent lay back.
"Are you going to sleep, sir?"
"Yes, just forty winks."
"No, no, no! I cannot let you, for many and many a
man lost on the moors as we now are has been found
stark and stiff when the mist cleared away, just because
of falling asleep."
His companion, now thoroughly aroused to a true
sense of his danger, tried to pull himself together. He
even tried to tell more stories, but his teeth were
chattering in his head, and his lips were all but frozen.
He could not.
Soon after there was a wild blood-curdling eldritch
yell heard, that startled both.
"Heavens! what is it?" cried Nugent.
THE NAVAL CADET.
Something dark rushed past next moment at their
very feet. It was a wild cat, and Oscar jumped up to
pursue it, but Creggan quickly caught him by the
"No, Oscar, no. I might never see you more, and
you're going to sea with me, you know."
Another long dreary hour passed, perhaps two.
Both were now resigned to their fate. They must
spend the night on the moor.
Even Creggan himself began to nod.
Suddenly Oscar sprang up and uttered a short
defiant or challenging bark.
And lo! not far off, a light appeared glimmering
hazily through the dismal fog, and a spectre-like figure,
so magnified by the mist that it seemed to reach
from earth to heaven, slowly approached.
Is it that there is any-pody here at all at all what-
Once more Oscar barked, but it was with a ring of
joy and pleasure.
"Oh, Donald, is that yourself?"
"To be surely, boy, to be surely; and is it you, my
dear lad Creggan?"
"Oh, I am so glad you've come! This is my friend
Mr. Nugent, and we're lost, you know."
"Well, well, well, but it isn't long lost you'll be
whatever. Sure I know the sheepies' tracks, and can
guide you safely to my hut.
"Ay," he continued, and it's as dead as braxie you'd
have been 'fore morning' if I hadn't been out looking'
for a sheepie."
How gladly they followed him need not be told,
and how delighted they were to find themselves seated
once more in front of a fire of wood and peats.
LOST IN A HIGHLAND MIST. 71
Donald hastened to make supper-oatmeal porridge
and milk. Though eaten from caups and with horn
spoons, Nugent told the old shepherd that he had
never supped more sumptuously in his life.
Then Donald himself sat down, and while the two
collies fraternized in a corner, the men folks had a long
and enjoyable conversation.
Donald next made "shake-downs", or heather beds,
for both, and they slept as sound as babies.
Early astir they were, however, and after more por-
ridge and milk Nugent thanked the shepherd-solidly,
and away they went down the hill with poor Donald's
blessing ringing in their ears.
It was a bright and beautiful morning, with ne'er a
cloud in all the sky.
What a relief for poor Mrs. Nugent when they
entered the bungalow! And innocent wee Matty must
jump up into Creggan's arms and cry for joy.
1 Round, strong, wooden bowls.
CREGGAN AND OSCAR.
BOY, you've been crying," said the hermit one fore-
noon, as Creggan jumped on shore with Oscar
from his little skiff.
He had been rowing more slowly to-day towards his
little island home. Usually he made the skiff dance
over the water, singing as he rowed, but his arms
seemed to be lead this morning.
"Well, Daddy," said Creggan, with an apology for a
smile, "I-I-I'm afraid that I did let a tear or two
"I've been parting from the Nugents, you know,
and Matty would hang about my neck and cry-and
so I really couldn't help joining in for a moment. Oh,
only for a moment, Daddy! But partings are such
nasty things, aren't they?"
The hermit put his hand on the boy's head, and
looked kindly in his sunburnt face.
"Boy," he said, "never be ashamed to shed an hon-
est tear. It is nature's way of showing that the heart
is in the right place. As to partings, they are always
sad, and one of the joys of heaven will rest on the
fact that there won't be any more partings. You mind
what the hymn says:'
11 Thessalonians, iv. 13 to the end.
CREGGAN AND OSCAR.
"'A few short years of evil past,
We reach the happy shore,
Where death-divided friends at last
Shall meet to part no more'.
"But come on, Creggan, and have dinner, I've
something very nice, and then I'll tell you stories.
Ah, we'll all be happy yet!"
But Creggan had another sad grief to face that
It will be remembered that Nugent had not only
promised to get him a cadetship for the Royal Navy
-if he could pass the examinations,-but, if appointed
to a small ship, work the oracle so that he might take
poor Oscar with him.
Well, as the boy and his foster-father sat by the fire
with the collie between: *
"I'm so pleased you're going to the service, lad," the
hermit said. "Oh, there's nothing like a life on the
ocean wave, and I've sailed the seas so long that
dearly do I love it. "I'm gladder still to think that
from the pile I made at the gold-diggings and pearl
fisheries, I can make you a comfortable allowance.
Bah! what is the dross to me, and it will be all yours
when I am gone."
"Oh, don't talk of death, Daddy; though you are
gray you are not old."
"Well, no, I cannot as yet give myself airs about
my age, but I'm wearing on. "But to business, lad.
The examination is a stiff one."
"Yes, Daddy. But won't I study just; and I'm sure
I'll pass even in history, though I hate it. I'll read up
There won't be much fun in it. But I'll coach you
in French anyhow. You are right as to age for eight
THE NAVAL CADET.
months to come. Well, of course your old Daddy will
get your outfit. And as they give no pay to cadets in
the Britannia, but demand 75 a year, I'll make it
"Oh, thanks, dear Daddy!"
Fain would I go south with you, but I shall not
leave my island for some time yet. Don't imagine I
am going to be downright unhappy,-because I sha'n't
be. Your friend Archie M'Laren will bring me all I
want off from the shore. Fishermen will often visit
me, and your minister M'Ian. Then I shall have my
fiddle, and, last but not least, our dear doggie here.
We'll both miss you, but I shall think of you every
time I gaze into his loving eyes."
If a bomb-shell had suddenly burst over the hut it
would have had a far less stunning effect upon poor
Creggan than the hermit's last words. Would he,
after all, have to go away without his doggie? Had he
looked at Oscar for even a moment, he would have
burst out crying like a girl.
He just gazed into the fire for a few minutes in
silence, then rose.
"I'll be back in a very short time, Daddy," he said.
"And shall I light the beacon?"
"Do, like a good lad."
Creggan went out into the clear and starry sum-
A great round moon had just arisen, and was casting
a broad triangular light across the sea, the apex down
there close to the island, its base on the far-off horizon.
How calmly it shone! It seemed a holy light. But
neither moon nor the bright silvery stars could soothe
our young hero then.
He lit the beacon almost automatically and after-
CREGGAN AND OSCAR.
wards paced up and down for five minutes or over,
then stood by the beacon resolved and firm.
A brave boy now-a hero, indeed!
"I'll do it," he said half-aloud. "Oh, how I should like
to take my Oscar with me, but I shall not, cannot!
I'll suffer myself rather than let dear kind Daddy
He felt easier now and happier, and returned smil-
ing to the hut; and the hermit played and sang for an
hour at least.
There was a kind of incubus at Creggan's heart
when he awoke next morning, and for a time he could
not quite make out what it meant. Then all at once
he remembered his doggie. The recollection came so
suddenly back to him that at first he was nearly cry-
ing. But he jumped out of bed, and .lightly dressing
went down the cliffs with Oscar to enjoy his morning
Then back to breakfast.
Well, you know, reader, "sorrow may endure for a
night but joy cometh in the morning".
It did. For that very forenoon a humble friend of
Creggan's-Archie-came off in a shore-boat, bringing
a long letter for the hermit, and a childish but loving
scrawl from Matty to Creggan. He put that carefully
away, and determined to take it to sea with him.
He certainly was a romantic boy, and this is not to
be wondered at seeing the wild life he led, the wild
scenery around him, and the voice of the sounding sea
ever changing and ever telling him something new.
As soon as the hermit had read the letter he jumped
up and took Creggan's hand.
"This is from Nugent, dear sonny, and he is going
to get leave to let you have Oscar with you."
THE NAVAL CADET.
"No, no, no, no!" cried the boy. "He must stay
with you and make you happy."
"And I say 'no, no, no!'" replied the hermit, laugh-
ing now. Go he shall; I have my bird, my cat, and
my violin. Oh, believe me, boy, I shall be happy
enough till you come back to see me."
And so it was decided.
Archie was but a crofter's son, but he was a
particular friend of Creggan's, and they used to be
constantly together before the Nugents came, fishing,
shooting, or wandering over the hills and far away.
Archie thought that Creggan was very clever, and
laughed inordinately at all the stories he made up and
told him while they lay together on the cliff-top, where
the wild thyme grew. It was here they used to meet,
and Archie always brought his dambrod (draughts)
with him. He had made it himself, and together in
the sunshine they used to play for hours and hours.
They had no real men, only bits of carrots and parsnips
to represent the black and the white, and as Archie
was a far better player than Creggan, he always
removed a few men from his own side before the game
But Archie could play chess as well, and always
solved the problems given in the weekly papers, which
the minister kindly lent him. Creggan had no patience
with so deep a game. Life, he appeared to think, was
too short for chess. Well, so far I believe he was right,
for in studying for an exam. one wastes brain power by
playing so difficult a game.
Poor Archie was just a year or two older than
Creggan, but over and over again, as they used to lie
together on the wild-thyme cliff, he would say with
all the ingenuousness and frankness of youth:
CREGGAN AND OSCAR.
Oh, Creggan, you don't know how much I love you,
and I'll just cry my heart out when you go away."
Ay, and there wouldn't be a hut in which there
would be no sorrow, when our young hero went to sea.
By the way, I may mention just one thing to prove
the genuineness of the old hermit's kindness.
Archie had a brother called Rory, a tall yellow-
haired sturdy young fellow, but somewhat of a doll.
The father was dead, the two boys tilled the small
croft and tended the cows; but somehow Rory took
it into his head to enlist. Some recruiters came
marching through the parish with kilts and plumes and
ribbons fluttering in the wind, and they marched off
with Rory and some other young fellows too.
Well, that same evening Archie met Creggan near
His eyelashes were wet with tears.
"Oh, man!" he cried, "what will we do? Rory has
gone off with the soldiers. Oh, come and see poor
Creggan went at once, and entered the hut. Such
grief he had never witnessed before. Among the ashes
by the fireside, with little on save a petticoat, sat Rory's
distracted mother, her gray hair hanging dishevelled
over her shoulders; and her body swaying to and fro
constantly in the agony of her sorrow. She was
mourning in the Gaelic.
"Oh, my son, my son! Oh, Rory, Rory, love of my
heart, my Rory! Oh, heaven look down and help me!
Rory, Rory, will I never never see you more!"
Her face was wet with tears and covered with ashes.
She was still sitting there when Creggan left at
eight o'clock, still swaying her body, still mourning,
mourning, and mourning.
78 THE NAVAL CADET.
And when Creggan returned early next day there
was no change.
There she sat, as she had sat all night long, among
the ashes, still swaying to and fro, still plaintively
calling for Rory.
"Love of my heart, my Rory, will you never, never
Ah, but Creggan had glorious news for her. Cheer
up, dear mother," he said, showing her shining gold,
"I am going to Portree to bring your Rory back."
And Creggan, with the hermit's money, did buy the
foolish lad off, and Rory never left his mother more
until she was laid in the quiet churchyard beside the
blue and rolling Minch.
ON BOARD THE GUNBOAT RATTLER.
SREGGAN OGG M'VAYNE worked very hard in-
Sdeed to make sure of passing. I am quite certain
of one thing, that did any lad study so hard in a city,
burning perhaps the midnight oil and sitting in a
badly-ventilated, stuffy room, although at the examina-
tion he might make quite a good show' still "his face
would be sicklied o'er with the pale cast of thought ".
He could not be in good health; and I have known
many a boy who, bright in intellect, was too weakly
to "pass the doctor ", as it is called.
But it was all so very different with Creggan.
There is no more bracing or healthy island in the
world than Skye, and during the summer, and all
throughout the autumn till the "fa' o' the year ", his
study was out of doors.
On fine days it was always on that green-topped
cliff where the wild thyme grew. I verily believe,
and Creggan himself used to think so, that the song
of the sea as the waves broke lazily on the brown
weed-covered boulders, far beneath the cliff, making
a solemn bass to the musical cry of the gulls, the
kittiwakes, and skuas, helped the lad along. It lulled
him, soothed him, so that his head was always clear
and his mind never too exalted.
THE NAVAL CADET.
City students often need a wet towel to tie around
their brows when at work. Creggan needed none
of that; his bonnet lay near him, on Oscar's ear, and
the cool and gentle breezes fanned his brow, so that
hard though his "grind" undoubtedly was his face re-
mained hard and brown, with a tint of carmine on his
On stormy days even, he did not go indoors, for
M'Ian the minister knew the value of fresh air, and
had a kind of summer-house study built in his garden
for his son and daughter, Rory and Maggie, and
Both were very fond of Creggan. In fact, being
brought up together, they were like brother and sister
to him, in a manner of speaking, and well he loved
them in return.
But the winter itself wore away at last. And
a wild tempestuous winter it had been. There were
weeks at a time when Creggan could not leave his
little island home, for the seas that tumbled and heaved
around, and surged in foaming cataracts high up the
sides of the black and beetling cliffs, would have sunk
the stoutest boat that was ever built.
But Creggan had not been idle for all that. There
had come a six weeks' spell of calm, clear, frosty
weather, with seldom a breath of wind or cat's-paw to
ruffle the glassy surface of the smooth Atlantic rollers.
So high were these "doldrums" at times, that when
Creggan's skiff was down in the trough of the seas as
he rowed manfully shorewards, there were long seconds
during which Rory and Maggie, watching his progress
eagerly, could not see him.
Then, when he mounted a house-high wave, they
ON BOARD THE GUNBOAT RATTLER.
would rejoicingly wave their handkerchiefs to him,
and he his bonnet to them.
Yes, winter flew far away back to the icy Arctic
regions on snow-white wings, and soft gentle spring
returned, laden with bird and bud and green bourgeon
to scatter over hill and brae and moorland.
And next came Creggan's time to start for the far
south to face his examiners. I shall not linger over
the leave-takings. He departed with many blessings,
and many prayers would be prayed for his success.
M'Ian kindly accompanied him to Portree and saw
the steamer off. Then the boy was all alone in the
world, because for the time being he had left even
poor sad-eyed Oscar with Daddy the hermit.
Yes, Creggan was bold enough to take the journey all
by himself-by steamer to Glasgow, by train to Leith,
and by steamer again to London. He had been recom-
mended to a small but comfortable hotel, and here he
took up his abode till the exam. days came round.
Of course everything in London streets was strangely
foreign to Creggan, and very confusing. He didn't
like it. The twangy jargon of the guttersnipe boys
grated harshly on his ear; the streets were thick in
greasy mud; all aloft was gloom and fog, and never
a green thing about.
"I'll do my best to pass well," he said to himself as
he left one day to be present at the examination;
"I'll do my best to pass, but I sha'n't be sorry if I
There were other boys trying to enter the Navy
creditably, and though many were bold, handsome
English lads, most were pale, nervous, and frightened.
About a week afterwards Archie M'Laren's boat
THE NAVAL CADET.
might have been seen driving over the Minch towards
The hermit knew from his face that he was the
bearer of good tidings.
"Hurrah, sir!" he cried, waving a letter aloft.
"I've had one myself. Creggan has passed with
more marks than anybody. Aren't you joyful, sir?"
The hermit, as he rapidly read Creggan's school-
boyish caligraphy, was indeed too joyful to speak,
and I'm not sure but that his eyes were moist with
Before going to sea, of course, Creggan had to put
in time on board the Britannia, and after that to be
further examined. He was a great favourite with
the other cadets, and a noisy, joyous lot they were,
brimful of fun, commingled with a modicum of mis-
At long last he was appointed to a small ship, and
this was an ironclad too. He didn't like her. This
wasn't his idea of a ship. She lay at Sheerness; and
he didn't like Sheerness either, and I never knew
anyone who did.
But the Rattler was only a gunboat, and bound for
the African shores.
Now Creggan was a brave lad, so he took a step
that few boys would have dared to take. He went to
visit Captain, or rather Commander Jeffries at his
hotel. He found that gallant gentleman lingering
over dessert. A very tall and handsome man, with
a jolly, smiling face, but exceedingly stout.
"Well, my lad," he said, "come in and bring your-
self to anchor. You're one of the Rattler's middies,
"WELL, MY LAD, YOU'RE ONE OF TIE RATTLER'S MIDDIES,
ON BOARD THE GUNBOAT RATTLER.
Have a glass of wine, my lad. No? Better with-
out. But what can I do for you?"
"If you please, Captain Jeffries, I have a lovely
gentle collie dog. Can I take him to sea?"
"I love dogs, my lad, and would gladly have your
collie. But," he paused and laughed till the glasses
rung, "a curious thing has happened. I cannot go to
sea in the Rattler, and another officer must be
appointed in my place."
May I ask, sir-"
"Yes, I'll tell you the 'why', and it is just here
where the smile comes in. I am too big to get below,
through the companion, and I couldn't remain on
deck all the cruise, you know. I've, had a deal of
correspondence and red-tapery already about it. 'You
must take up your appointment', said their lordships.
I wrote a few days ago saying plainly 'I sha'n't',
adding, 'What's the use of a commander taking a ship
if he can't get more than just his legs below'."
"Yes, sir," said Creggan smiling.
"Well, at last they are going to appoint another
officer, and I'm sorry to tell you, my lad, that Captain
Flint, who is what we call a kind of sea-lawyer, and
pretends to know everything, hates both dogs and
music. I'm sorry for you, boy, but keep up your
spirits. Your ship won't be more than two years out,
and when you return, owing to the splendid show
I hear you made at your examinations, you'll be en-
titled to apply for any ship you like, and if I'm in
England call on me and I'll put you up to the ropes.
There, good-bye. Keep up your heart, my lad, and
you'll do well."
Creggan walked briskly and quickly towards the
THE NAVAL CADET.
pier; he was determined he would not give way for
Just two years after this we still find the Rattler
cruising about the west coast of Africa, and despite its
unhealthiness there was no extra sickness on board
and no fever.
Captain Flint was really a good sailor, but snappish
and ill-natured. He bullied everyone around him, and
often punished his men and boys severely.
Under such a commander it is almost needless to say
that Creggan's life was not altogether a happy one.
However, he did his duty, and did it with method and
precision. He was so strong and healthy that there
was no one on board that ship who could make him
nervous. But he used to pity some of his messmates
who, though a year or two older, were smaller and less
bold than he. Both the first and second lieutenants
were real good fellows, but this little fiery-haired, ferret-
eyed commander, or skipper, as all hands plainly called
him when out of hearing, cowed even these.
I do not suppose that Flint could help himself, and it
is always best, I think, to say all one can for even bad
men. Now, whisper-the commander's wine-cellar was
far too big for him. I do not think anybody ever saw
the little man intoxicated, on deck at all events, but
that curse of our nation-alcohol-made him crabbed
and peevish, and he did not care then whom he in-
One or two instances of how Flint carried on may
serve to show my readers what a tyrant even the
commander of a Royal Navy screw gunboat may
make himself, on a lonely coast like that of the wes-
tern shores of Africa.
Please remember that I am not depending on my
ON BOARD THE GUNBOAT RATTLER.
imagination for my facts, the experiences were my
The surgeon of the Rattler-and there was but one
-for the craft was only 800 tons, was a sturdy Scot,
who did his duty, and did not care a pin-head for any-
one. His very independence annoyed Flint.
"I'll bring that saucy Scot to his senses," he said
one night to his first lieutenant, who was dining with
The first luff, laughing, told the doctor next morning
that he was to be brought down a peg, and asked him
how he would like it.
The surgeon-Grant, let us call him-merely laughed
and said quietly:
"It won't be that little skin-Flint, that will do it.
Why, Lacy, I could take him up with one hand and
hold him overboard while I shook his teeth out into
the sea. I could mop up the quarter-deck with him,
then stand him on his head on the top of the cap-
Everyone laughed, because everyone liked the sur-
But as the commander had said he would make the
surgeon haul down his flag, he determined to act, and
went to bed grinning to himself.
The persecution began next morning.
T HE skipper was on the bridge near the quarter-
deck next morning, when the surgeon tripped up
the ladder, saluted, and handed him the sick-list book.
"What!" shouted Flint. "Fifteen on the sick-list, sir,
out of a small crew like this?"
What's the meaning of it, sir? What's the meaning
of it? I've been in a line-of-battle ship with no more
on the list than this."
The cases, Captain Flint, are chiefly coast ulcer. I
do my duty, sir, and it will go hard with anyone who
denies it. And it is also my duty, sir, to inform you,
that if you continue to get into red-faced rages,
like that from which you are now suffering, you will
before long have a fit of apoplexy."
"When I want your valuable advice, Dr. Grant, I
will send for you."
"Thank you, Captain Flint. Delighted, I'm sure!"
The captain took a turn up and down the bridge.
Then returning to the charge:
"Is there any hygienic measure you could suggest
for the removal of this ulcer plague?" he roared.
"Oh, yes, the place where the sick lie is as hot and
stuffy as the stoke-hole. I'd like screen-berths on
"Well, well, have my quarter-deck by all means!"
The commander was talking sarcastically now, of
But the surgeon's chance had come.
Thank you, sir," he cried, laughing in spite of him-
self. Then he wheeled, and was down below before
Flint had time to utter another word.
Now, the little man dearly loved his quarter-deck.
He was king there; a sea-king and monarch of all he
surveyed. Well, he was in the habit of taking a sleep-
siesta every afternoon, as soon as luncheon was over.
And this was the surgeon's time. He got the carpenter
and his mate to remove their shoes, and put up the
screen-berths and hang the hammocks as silently as
moles work. Then the worst cases were got up and
put to bed.
It was really very nice for them, because they could
look at the blue sparkling sea, get fresh air, and watch
everything that went on around them. When the
skipper came on deck, he was fain to catch hold of a
stay to prevent himself from falling. So at least the
quarter-master said. But he himself had given the
order, and as the surgeon had obeyed it, nothing could
now be done.
Two days after was the Sabbath, and before divisions
the commander and first lieutenant, accompanied by
Surgeon Grant, walked roirnd the ship and down below
to inspect. As usual, those of the sick who could
stand were drawn up in single file. Now, the skipper
ought to have asked the surgeon, not the men, about
their complaints, only Flint was still intent on bringing
the doctor low.
"What's the matter with you, my man? And what
is the surgeon giving you?"
THE NAVAL CADET.
":It is my business to answer that question, sir,"
said the surgeon angrily.
I'm not talking to you, doctor."
Grant said nothing. He simply lifted his cap,
wheeled about and walked on deck.
His flag wasn't down yet.
The war went on.
Next morning a boy was, by the captain's orders,
introduced to the gunner's daughter for some trifling
offence. This means that without being undressed, a
boy is tied breast-downwards to a gun, and in this
position receives a rope's-ending.
The doctor was walking the quarter-deck laughing
and chatting with a messmate, when the commander
"Surgeon Grant," he said, "attend to that boy's
Now, if a real flogging1 or "flaying match" had to be
played, and a man-guilty of some great crime-was
stripped to the waist and tied to the rigging to receive
four dozen with the cat, not only the doctor, in cocked
hat and lashed to his sword, but all the officers and
crew as well would have to be piped up to witness
this fearful punishment. But it was no part of the
surgeon's duty to attend a boy's birching. That in-
deed would have been infra dig. So, on this occasion
the surgeon simply gave Flint a haughty stare, then
continued his conversation.
Why, this is insubordination, sir! I've a good mind
to put you under arrest."
Then, as the bo's'n's mate expressed it, "the doctor's
dander riz". But he kept his temper.
SFlogging is now done away with in our Navy.
"Captain Flint," he said, "you can put me under
arrest if you please, but I shall not lower the dignity
of a profession which is as honourable as yours by
attending a boy's rope's-ending."
The commander stamped and paused.
"I'll-I'll-" he began.
"Now, now, now," cried the surgeon, "you'll have a
fit! I warn you, sir. You're short-necked, sir, and
excitable, and if-"
He got no further.
"Confound you, sir, I'll pay you out for this!"
Then he rushed below.
But there was nothing done about it. Flint simply
nursed his wrath to keep it warm. -
One day, some time after this, the ship grounded on
a sand-bank. Luckily it was at low tide, so when the
tide began to rise, all hands, even the officers, had orders
from the commander to arm themselves each with a
56-lb. shot, and rush fore and aft, and aft and fore, in a
body to help to swing the ship off.
But Grant stood quietly by the binnacle.
Did you hear the order, sir?" roared the commander.
"Get your shot and join the crew."
Na, na, na," answered Grant, in his native Doric.
"Man, I've gotten a laddie's back to see till, and a
poultice to mak. Jist tak' a shot yourself man."
On this occasion the captain had to smile.
But the war culminated about a month after this,
and on that occasion, it must be confessed, the doctor
did lose his temper, and had the captain been able to
get witnesses he could have tried the surgeon by
court-martial, for Grant's conduct amounted almost to
mutiny, albeit the provocation he received was very
THE NAVAL CADET.
You cannot insult a Scot more than by attempting
to throw mud at his country.
Well, while anchored near a village the officers gen-
erally went on shore in mufti, and Grant was in the
habit of wearing a Scotch Glengarry bonnet (called a
cap by the English).
Now it occurred to the commander that he might
give the surgeon a knock-down over this. So he called
the assistant paymaster, and ordered him to write
what is called "a memo.", which is really a tyrannical
edict, which all the officers, however, must sign.
Flint dictated the memo., and when presented to him
for inspection, it read as follows:-
It is my directions that the officers of this ship
shall go on shore dressed as gentlemen.
This would have been insult enough to poor Grant,
but the skipper added to it greatly, for between the
words as and gentlemen he wrote the word English,
making the memo. read as English gentlemen.
The doctor was writing in his cabin, between which
and the commander's saloon there was only a single
bulkhead. He was the last officer to be asked to sign
When he read it, then indeed his dander riz".
His fury was fearful to behold, and the commander
could hear all that was said.
Grant sprang to his feet.
This from Flint!" he roared; and he dares ask me
to sign it! Is not a Scotch gentleman as good as an
English gentleman any day? See here, Maxwell, I
tear it in pieces, and fling them on the deck. Take it
back to him thus if you choose, but he shall not insult
my native land!"
At this moment the commander was heard shout-
"Ay, ay, sir."
"Send Dr. Grant to my cabin at once."
Grant required no two bidding. He rushed up the
ward-room companion and thundered down the cap-
tain's stair, while officers, quartermaster, and all rushed
forward, determined not to be witnesses to anything
that might happen.
Perhaps never on board a man-o'-war before did
such a scene take place in a commander's cabin.
Grant had picked up a handful of the torn-up
memo., and quickly now drawing back Flint's curtain
he stood like an angry bull in the doorway.
The skipper started to his feet. He had been
sitting in his easy-chair.
Sir-" he began.
But he got no further.
"You sent this memo. to me? There! I fling it at
your feet. I ought to fling it into your white and
frightened face. How dare you insult my country,
sir? You little tippling whipper-snapper!"
"This is rank mutiny!" cried the skipper. "I'll
call the first lieutenant and quartermaster."
"You may call till you are hoarse, and they will
not come to witness against me. Even your boy has
fled, and now I'll speak my mind."
Here the commander attempted to run the blockade
and force his way out.
"Stand back, sir," cried Grant, "or worse will
THE NAVAL CADET.
"Now, sir, listen to me. I have stood your tyranny
long enough and as calmly as I could, and now it is
my turn, and I tell you plainly that whenever and
wherever I find you on shore in plain clothes, I'll
give you such a thrashing that you won't forget it the
longest day you live. Good-morning."
This ended the scene.
Some captains would have shot Grant where he
stood. But Flint was terror-stricken and silent.
He was on deck again half an hour afterwards,
looking as if nothing had happened.
Next evening the steward came in to say, with
Captain Flint's compliments, that he wished Dr. Grant
to come and share a bottle of wine with him.
"Tell the captain, with my compliments, that I
That was the answer.
The steward returned in three minutes' time.
"The captain wants to see you, sir."
"Oh, certainly; that is an order."
And off he marched to obey it.
When he entered Flint stood up, smiling.
"I'm afraid, doctor," he said, "I've been too hard.
Are you willing to let bygones be bygones?"
Who could have resisted an appeal like this? It
was as nearly an apology as any captain could make
to a junior officer. And he held out his hand as he
Willing," cried Grant with Scotch enthusiasm, "ay,
and delighted! You know, sir, I'm only a wild High-
lander, so I lost my balance when-but there, never
mind. 'Tis past and gone for ever and for aye."
Then there was a hearty handshake and both sat
"There is the wine," said the commander, "and
there is the whisky."
"I'll have the whisky," said Grant, "though not
much. But it is the wine of my country, sir."
The commander smiled, and Grant drew the cruet
towards him, quoting as he did so and while he tapped
the bottle, the words of Burns:
When neebors anger at a plea,
And just as wud1 as wud can be,
How easy can the barley-bree
Cement the quarrel!
It's aye the cheapest lawyer's fee
To taste the barrel."
Some time after this the commander fell ill, and so
kind was Grant to him, and so constant in his atten-
tions, that all animosity fled for ever, and Flint
really got fond of Grant, whom he delighted when
visiting on shore to call "my surgeon ".
Well, whatever ill-feeling officers or men may ex-
hibit toward each other if penned up in a small mess,
when war comes it is all forgotten, and the British
sailors and marines, when sent on shore to fight, stand
shoulder to shoulder, and woe be to the foe who faces
One day, while lying off Loanda, startling intelli-
gence came to the commander of the Rattler from
a steam launch that had been despatched in all haste
to hurry her up to the mouth of the Benin river. A
party of European traders, many British as well as
foreign, had been surrounded and massacred to a man.
THE NAVAL CADET.
The steam launch belonged to H.M.S. Centipede, a
cruiser far larger than the Rattler. The officer in
charge could hardly stop to eat or drink, but food was
handed over the side, and in ten minutes' time she was
once more under weigh and steering rapidly north.
A glance at a map of Africa will show you that
Loanda lies well to the south of the Bight of Benin,
and show you, too, where the great river Niger or
Quorra empties itself into the Gulf of Guinea.
All was now bustle and stir on board the Rattler.
Steam was ordered to be got up at once. There used
to be disputes between the engineer and captain, but
these were all forgotten now.
Would you believe it, reader, that all hands, from
the commander to the dark-skinned Kroomen from
Sierra Leone, were as merry and happy as if they
were going to a fancy ball instead of to battle and to
carnage. Such is your British sailor.
Dinner was ordered half an hour sooner, so that
the men should have plenty of time to get their arms
and accoutrements into perfect fighting trim before
the sun went down at four bells in the first dog-
The captain felt in fine form; for whatever faults
he had, he certainly was no coward.
He liked his middies well, too, when he had not
those nasty little fits of bad temper on. To-day he
walked up and down the quarter-deck holding our
hero Creggan by the arm, and not only talking to
him but encouraging the boy himself to talk.
Creggan was nothing loath. But from some words
he let fall, Commander Flint found he had a romantic
"You must come and dine with me to-night," he
said, "and tell me all your story. You and Dr.
Oh, thank you, sir.
"And now," added Creggan, "may I take the
liberty of asking you just one question?"
"Certainly, Mr. M'Vayne, certainly."
"Well, sir, do you think we shall have a real battle
with the savages?"
"Sure to, and perhaps half a dozen. The case
seems very grave, you know."
"Well, I'll be glad to see some fighting."
Bravo! And now you can go and tell the steward
I want him."
Off went Creggan, and next minute up popped the
"Sir?" he said.
Splice the main brace," said the commander.
(This means, reader, an extra glass of rum to all
By this time the Rattler was ploughing her way
through the bright blue sea, and heading for the
Exciting adventures were before them.