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The Young West Indian
By Mrs. Blackford (now Lady Stoddart) (1857) - The Story

WILLIAM FRAZER, the hero of this little tale, was bora in Tobago, an island in the West Indies. His father’s regiment was sent out thither, very soon after he. married, and Mrs. Frazer willingly agreed to accompany her husband to that part of the world, rather than endure a separation from him.

Little William was born a few months after their arrival in the island, and was for some years their only child. He was rather delicate till he attained the age of two years; but after that period he grew more robust, and at four years, was considered as a stout, healthy little fellow by all who saw him; indeed, much stronger than children in general are in that climate; for the heat is so great that very few bom of English parents can be reared beyond the age of four or five years, and they are therefore usually sent home to live with any relations their parents may have residing in England, or else to be placed at schools, under the care of proper teachers.

William, however, was so healthy, that his parents thought they might venture to keep him with them a year or two longer, as they loved him so dearly they could not think of separating from him. But though both Captain and Mrs. Frazer loved him so much, they took great care not to hurt him by improper indulgence, and neglected no opportunity of instructing him in his duty, so far as lay in their power. Mrs. Frazer was in very delicate health, so that she was not able to attend so much to him as she could have wished; but this was in a great measure made up to him by the unremitting care of his father, who undertook to teach him to read himself and who, as he advanced in strength and years, made him almost his constant companion.

When William was about five years old his mamma had a little girl, who was named Jane. Nothing could exceed his delight at this event; and from the day of her birth, he considered himself as her protector and guardian on all occasions; an idea his father encouraged in him, as he thought it might help to increase the affection he wished him to feel for his little sister.

For some months after the birth of little Jane nothing particular occurred. She was a fine, healthy child, and throve in every way but one, as well as could be -wished. Her father, when she was between four and five months old, could not help remarking that she took very little notice, for a child of her age. At first he thought little of it, but as she grew older, he became seriously alarmed, though, from tenderness to his wife, he did not mention his suspicions till he could be sure they were just. Often did he steal into the nursery, and try, by holding up his watch and other glittering articles likely to attract the attention of a baby, to be relieved from his fears. Alas! the poor little girl never gave the slightest attention to any thing held before her, though, at the sound of her brother’s voice, or even the touch of his little hand, she would laugh and bound with every mark of pleasure and delight This helped, in a great measure, to deceive her mother; but Captain Frazer having once taken up a suspicion of her want of sight, watched ner so closely, that, by the time she was a twelvemonth old, he was perfectly convinced that she was stone blind.

No one merely seeing her would ever have suspected that such a misfortune belonged to her, as her eyes had no visible defect in them, being large and even handsome. Poor Captain Frazer finding his fears thus cruelly confirmed, felt it to be his painful duty to inform her mother of the misfortune of their child. Cautiously as he ventured to reveal it to her, the knowledge of it was too much for her delicate frame to endure; a long and dangerous illness was the consequence; and though in some degree recovered from it, it soon became too evident that her constitution had received a shock from which it was very doubtful if she would ever completely recover. The surgeon who attended her advised her husband to lose no time in removing her from the unhealthy climate of the West Indies; as, in his opinion, the only chance she had of regaining her health was by returning to her native country.

This was a severe blow to her affectionate husband. His regiment had still some years to remain abroad; and from the many deaths which had taken place among the officers belonging to it, Captain Frazer (who had now attained the rant of Major) could not possibly be spared from it; at least till another gentleman came out from England to supply his place. As it was judged necessary for his wife to be removed immediately, he was, therefore, under the absolute necessity of allowing her to take the voyage without him. It was many weeks before he was able to prevail with her to adopt this plan; at last, on the surgeon’s suggesting, as an inducement for her to agree to the measure, that it was possible, by having the advice of a skilful oculist, something might be done for the sight of her beloved little girl, she agreed to quit her husband, and return to her mother, who resided in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, in Scotland, under whose care she could, if she recovered her health, leave her children, and again join her husband, if his stay was protracted beyond the period he expected to be able to follow her.

As soon as Mrs. Frazer had given her reluctant consent to quit Tobago, the Major lost no time in procuring every accommodation in his power for her safe conveyance to Scotland. A merchant ship, of considerable size, was then lying in the harbor, and in it he took her passage, securing for her the whole of the cabin. A mulatto servant, who had lived in the family for some years, agreed to accompany her mistress; and as this girl was a great favourite of Mrs. Frazer’s the Major thought he could not possibly entrust his children to a more careful, attentive domestic. It would greatly have added to his comfort, to have been able to place his family under the protection of any respectable passenger who might have been going home at the same time; but unfortunately, not a siugle person meant to leave the island that season, excepting his wife and children; he was, therefore, under the necessity of entrusting them to the care of the captain, who appeared a very respectable man, and was highly recommended by the mercantile gentlemen in whose employment he was.

As the time of the ship’s sailing drew near, Mrs. Frazer’s spirits seemed to sink, and her health became evidently so much worse, that her husband began to hesitate on the propriety of allowing her to leave him; the surgeon, however, was so urgent, and pressed on him so strongly the benefit she was likely to receive from tne voyage and change of climate, that, almost contrary to his own opinion, he yielded to his persuasions, and unfortunately kept to his first resolution.

Little William, who was now between six and seven years old, was deeply affected when he was told that he was to be separated from his father. He was a very sensible child of his age, though he had never shown any very great talents beyond what a boy educated with care, as he had been, might be supposed to possess. He could read and write pretty well, and had learned, a little arithmetic and geography; but his father had always considered him as having slow abilities, and imputed his acquirements more to the goodness of his disposition, and strong desire to please his parents, than to any quickness of parts he naturally possessed.

The day before Mrs. Frazer was to sail, the Major held a little conversation with William, in his own room. After telling him that he expected, when he went to school in Scotland, that he would continue to be as attentive and industrious under his master’s care, as he ever himself found him, he continued, “And above all things, my dear boy, recollect, that during the voyage, you give your dear mother as little trouble or anxiety as possible. She has, you know, been very ill, and even now is not able to endure much of either. From you alone, my love, can she receive kindness and attention, as poor little Jane is too young to be of any use to her. Though you are only a very little boy, yet you may, by being watchful and attentive, greatly add to her comfort, either in assisting her, or in amusing your poor sister, who is fond of you.”

William wept bitterly when his father began to speak; gradually, as he went on, the child dried his eyes, and looked steadily in his face, till he had finished, and then answered firmly, “I promise you, papa, that I will remember what you have now said to me, and do all I can to comfort mamma when she is so far from you. You may be quite sure that I will never give her any trouble I can help, and that I will do all I can to amuse Jane, and take care of her during the voyage; I likewise promise to attend closely to my lessons; but, my dear papa, I wish you would promise me something, likewise.”

"What is that, my dear boy? I am sure, if your demand is not unreasonable, I will promise you any thing in my power, that is not likely to be hurtful to you.”

"O, I am quite certain, papa, it can never hurt me,” answered William; "and, if you will only agree to it, I think I shall feel more reconciled to the thoughts of parting from you than I ever thought I coula have been.”

"Well, my boy, let me hear what is your request, and, if I can grant it with propriety, I will certainly give you the promise you desire.”

“Then, papa, it is, that when you return to Scotland, you will again teach me yourself, instead of sending me to school?”

“I am afraid, William, I cannot exactly promise to do that; but at least I will have you as much with me as I can. I am, my dear boy, not likely to be able to remain long in one place, and, from the necessary duties of my profession, cannot devote so much time to your improvement as you will require. We shall settle this matter better, my love, when I join you; I have no doubt you will be quite satisfied to agree to whatever is best for us both; be assured, your advantage and happiness shall always be my first object, whichever plan I adopt”

William kissed, his father, and tried to restrain the tears that were again forcing their way down his cheeks; the Major, who thought it best to endeavour to turn his mind from the subject, proposed taking him on board the ship, to introduce him to the captain, whom he had, not yet seen.

William was amused with all he saw; the sailors made much of him, and assured him they would do all they could to render him happy during the voyage. By the time the Major had finished his business, and taken leave, William had quite recovered his spirits, and laughed and talked to his father of all the wonderful things he had seen on board, as merrily as possible, the whole way home.

Early in the morning, Mrs. Frazer embarked in the Favourite, Captain Walker, with her children and servant-maid. The Major saw her on board, and remained with his family as long as he prudently could. At last he was forced to leave them, and return to his now solitary home. Whilst her husband remained with her, Mrs. Frazer had endeavoured to keep up her spirits; but the moment she saw him quit the ship, she lost all presence of mind, and gave way to the most violent grief In vain poor little William tried, by his affectionate caresses, to draw her attention either to himself, or his sister; his mother only wept the more when she heard heard his voice. Day after day passed, and still her tears flowed continually; she was roused, in some degree, from this criminal indulgence of sorrow, by a most violent storm, that continued for nearly three days, during which time the ship was in the most imminent danger. It did, however, outlive the storm; but was so much injured as to make it absolutely necessary for the captain to endeavour to gain the nearest port, to get it refitted.

Whilst the danger lasted, Mrs. Frazer exerted herself beyond what could have been expected; but the moment it was over, all the worst symptoms of her disease returned with redoubled violence; and by the time the ship reached St. Lucia, she was so weak as to be scarcely able to bear the fatigue of being carried ashore. A few days refitted the ship. It was then, however, impossible for the poor lady to attempt to proceed to Scotland It was evident to every one, that her life was fast drawing to a close. Captain Walker, therefore, who was a humane man, and felt deeply interested in the safety of the poor children, who would, on their mother’s death, be left so destitute, tried to persuade Mrs. Frazer to entrust them to his care, promising, that if she did so, he would, himself, carry them to Glasgow, and deliver them to her mother. Alas! his arguments could not prevail with this unfortunate mother to part from her children. Weakened by illness, and sinking under the agony of leaving her husband, she had not strength of mind sufficient to enable her to give due weight to his reasonings, or to induce her to undergo another blow, in a separation from them. She said she was sure a few weeks would re-establish her health, and enable her to pursue her voyage by the first ship that sails; and only begged that he would, before he left the island, make inquiries fox' her, how soon another opportunity was likely to occur. Captain Walker had no power to do more than advise; he was, therefore, forced to leave the poor children with their mother. He inquired what ships were likely to sail, and found that, in about three weeks, there was one destined for Port Glasgow, the captain of which said he knew Mrs. Frazer’s family very well, and offered, for a small recompense, to undertake to carry the children to their friends, provided their mother did not survive. By Mrs. Frazer’s desire, Captain Walker secured a passage with this captain, and, having ascertained that there were sufficient funds to answer all pecuniary concerns, whatever might happen, he wrote Major Frazer an account of tne situation of his wife, and entrusted to Captain M’Lean the charge of watching over the safety and comfort of his young protegees.

The Favourite had not sailed above ten days, when poor Mrs. Frazer became too well convinced of the error she had committed in refusing the offer of Captain Walker. Molly, the mulatto girl, who had, till now, always appeared a kind and attentive servant, began to be very saucy and remiss in her duty; often going out for hours; and, when her mistress expressed any displeasure, telling her it was impossible for her to bear the confinement of a sick room. Her mistress had neither strength nor energy sufficient to check this conduct; but, as she felt her strength gradually sinking, it alarmed her still more for the fate of her poor children. One day, when Molly had been more than usually* impertinent, she gave way to a violent burst of tears. William, who had been present, and had been greatly affected at seeing his mother so neglected, ran up to her couch on Molly’s leaving the room, and, taking her hand, said, “ Don’t cry, dear mamma; only tell me what I can do for you, and I will try all in my power to make you comfortable. I am but a little boy, but still I remember papa said I might, if I was good, be of great use; and now, when Molly is so very naughty, I wish you would try me; perhaps I can do more than you think.”

Mrs. Frazer kissed him almost convulsively, then laying her hand on his head, said, “My God, look with compassion on your afflicted servant, and endue this poor infant with strength and understanding sufficient to enable him to guard himself and his sister from the misfortunes which seem to threaten them;” then turning to William, she continued, “My poor little darling, your father spoke the truth when he told you that you could be of great service to me. You have been taught, my child, all your life, to obey the directions of your papa and me; will you now attend to what I am going to say, and then tell me whether you think you can promise to do what I require of you.” William kissed her hand, and said, firmly, “Yes, mamma, I will listen to whatever you tell me, and, so far as I am able, I will do whatever you wish me.”

“Very well, my love, that is all I can expect before I explain to you what it is I wish you to do, I must tell you, my love, I am, I fear, going to leave you very soon.”

“Leave me, mamma? Oh! what do you mean? Surely you won’t go on board the ship without me?”

“No, my love, I am not going on board the ship, nor shall I ever see Scotland or grandmamma. You know that whatever is the will of God, is best; and, therefore, I hope, my dear boy, you will not cry and fret more than you can help, when he takes me from you to himself. I am going to die, William; and, in a very few hours, I fear poor little Jane will have no one to take care of her but you.”

“Oh, mamma! mammal” sobbed out the boy, “don’t say so; you will be better, am sure, if you do not cry so much. Oh, do not leave us alone here; you do not know what a naughty woman Molly is. She would beat poor little Jane every day, only she is afraid of your hearing her cry.

“Alas! my child, that only adds to my affliction, and increases the apprehension I have both for your sister’s safety and your own. Yet I cannot now avert the evil from your heads. Do not, my child, if you really ove me, distract me by your tears. I have much to say to you, ana must seize the opportunity of Molly’s absence to give you directions how to conduct yourself after I am gone. Do you think you love me well enough to restrain your tears, and hide from every one that I have spoken to you of my death?”

William at first could give no answer to this question; but after a quarter of an hour’s indulgence of his sorrow, he came again to his mamma, and said he was now ready to listen to her, and would be a good boy, and not cry any more, Mrs. Frazer was rejoiced to see the child had recovered his resolution; and impressed with the importance of giving him his directions as quickly as possible, took care to make no further reference to any thing likely to excite his tears. She showed him a packet of letters she had written to her mother, and desired him to bring her a small cabinet, which his papa had had made for her before she left Tobago, for the purpose of holding any little comforts she might want in the cabin during her voyage. In this cabinet she showed him a concealed drawer, telling him, that he must never allow any one to know there was such a thing, till he had reached his grandmother’s house. She put the letters into it, and also a sum of money, which she desired William to make use of, in case of necessity; but not to touch it, if Captain M’Lean performed his promise of carrying him to Glasgow himself She then said, "And now, my poor child, I have taken all the precaution m my power, not to leave you totally dependent on strangers. Be a good boy, and obey the Captain and Molly in every thing, even though you may think them unkind and unreasonable; and above all things, never leave your poor sister a minute; her blindness makes her even more helpless than infants of her age usually are; ana unless you attend to her, I have no hope of her ever reaching her grandmother; for if she were to attempt to walk, either in the cabin, or on deck, without assistance, she would be liable to the most terrible accidents, and perhaps be killed by falling down the gangway.”

William promised faithfully to attend to his sister, and remember all the directions his mother had given him; he had scarcely done this, and returned the cabinet into the place where it usually stood, before Mrs. Frazer was seized with a fainting-fit, from which she just recovered sufficiently to kiss him, and desire him to bring his sister to her, that she might share her blessing. Whilst William, in obedience to her commands, was endeavouring to hold little Jane up to her lips, his mother fell back on her pillow, and expired without a groan.

William at first thought it was only a similar fit to what he had seen her have frequently during the preceding week. Gradually, however, he became alarmed at her long-continued silence. After washing her face with lavender-water, and rubbing her temple with hartshorn, as he had seen Molly do in former attacks, he lost all hope, and sat down beside Jane on the floor, where Molly, on her return, found them locked in each other’s arms, weeping; Jane, because her mamma would not speak to her, and poor William, from the vague idea he had that his mother had spoken to him for the last time. Molly was evidently shocked at finding her poor mistress had died in her absence. .She spoke kindly to the children, and after undressing Jane, and seeing her safe in bed, called William to her, and questioned him as to the manner of his mother’s death, asking particularly what she said to him, and if she had left any directions for her.

William replied to her questions, as well as his tears would allow him, that his mamma had desired him to obey Molly, and be a good boy till he got to his grandmother’s, and likewise to be very careful of little Jane. Molly appeared satisfied with his answers; she kissed him, and told him to sit down by his mamma till she went for Captain M’Lean, who must come and give orders about the funeral. She would not be long, and he need not be afraid.

This last assurance was very unnecessary, for the poor child had no fear, and willingly agreed to sit down on his little stool by the side of his mother’s couch, as he had been accustomed to do during her life. Whilst he sat there all alone, he suddenly began to think on all she had said to him previous to her death. The secret drawer in the cabinet brought to his mind, that he had seen a good deal of money in another part of it, besides a number of jewels and trinkets, which his mamma, after looking at, had said, as to herself, “I must not remove them, for fear of suspicion: Molly would miss them.” William pondered over these words a long time.

At last he thought to himself, I may as well know what is there, that I may tell grandmamma ; for who knows whether Molly may not wear mamma’s necklaces, as she does her gowns ? Papa may perhaps be angry with me, if I don’t do all I can to take care of them for little Jane.” With this feeling, he went to the cabinet, and on opening it, found in one of the drawers a written list of all his mother’s property. He took it up, and was going to put it in the concealed drawer, when he thought, “What if Molly knows there is such a paper? I must not hide it.” He folded it up, and again returned to his little stool, still thinking how he could secure the paper. In a few minutes he hastily arose, saying, aloud, “I know what papa would do, if he was here; he would copy that paper. I can’t write very well; though I think I can do it well enough to show grandmamma I have tried, all in my power, to do what my dear papa would wish me, if he knew what a naughty creature Molly is.”

The child now deliberately sat down and copied the paper, as well as his little unsteady fingers could scrawl, in a large text hand. Having finished it, he with some difficulty, squeezed it into the secret drawer; along with his poor mother’s letters. Having effected this, he shut the cabinet carefully, and again returned to his seat by the couch. By this time evening was fast approaching, and still Molly did not return. Jane slept quietly, and poor .William, feeling exhausted from the tears he had shed, ana the agitation he had undergone, could scarcely keep his eyes open.

“I must not go to bed,” thought he, “for Molly will beat me if I leave mamma.” Again he burst into tears, and called to his mother, “ only to speak to him once again, for he was very miserable.” As he tried to take her hand, he felt a little piece of crumpled paper fall from her bosom. He took it up, and carried it to the window to look at it It contained short pious sentences, in his mother’s hand-writing, and began, “Trust in the Lord, and be not afraid.”

William, even young as he was, felt comforted. He kissed the paper, and putting it into his bosom, said to himself “Yes, mamma, I will trust in the Lord, and will no longer be afraid to lie down beside you, as I used to do every evening, when we were with dear papa in Tobago.” Having come to this resolution, he crept softly up by the back of the couch, and lay down by the side of the corpse, resting his little hand on the breast, and placing one arm round her neck. In this situation, Molly and Captain M’Lean found him, fast asleep, nearly two hours afterwards, when they came with the intention of preparing the corpse for interment. Molly lifted him from his melancholy resting-place, and carried him, still asleep, to the other room, where she placed him beside his sister, and then returned to the captain, who from directions left to him by Captain Walker, took upon himself to give every necessary order respecting the funeral.

Next morning when William awoke, he found Molly engaged in packing up all the trunks, etc., whilst little Jane was sitting on the floor, crying for her breakfast. He got up immediately, and went to her, when Molly desired him to make haste, and give Jane what she wanted, and then eat his own breakfast, as the captain had been there to say that the ship was to sail that afternoon.

“Where have you put mamma, Molly?” asked William, as he started on seeing the couch empty, “I won’t go on board of ship till I know where you have laid her.”

“Won’t you?” said Molly, grinning horribly as she looked at the child; “we shall see what Captain M’Lean will say to that.”

Alarmed at her looks, and feeling more fear than he chose to show, at her threats of the captain, he said no more, but quietly began to feed his sister. When she was satisfied he sat down to his own small portion of food, which Molly said, when she placed it before him, was more than she could now afford to give him, as she did not think her mistress had left money enough to pay their expenses to Scotland. William only said, “I hope you are wrong, Molly; but at all events, grandmamma will pay Captain M’Lean every thing when he takes us home.”

“How do you know what your grandmamma will do?” answered Molly, in a sharp tone.

At this moment the landlady of the house tapped at the door, saying she was come to inquire after the poor children. Molly opened it, whilst she held her apron to her eyes, saying she was much obliged to her for her inquiries. The little darlings were charmingly, considering; but that she herself would never get over the loss of so kind and good a mistress. “And it was so unfortunate, too, ma’am,” continued she, “that my mistress should have obliged me to leave her yesterday, about some business she wished to settle with Captain M’Lean. I shall never forgive myself for not being with her when she died.”

“And who was with the poor lady?” asked the compassionate landlady.

“No one but the children,” returned Molly; I wonder how Master Willy was able to live over it; but he is a very unfeeling, hardhearted little creature; you see he sits there, eating, as unconcernedly as if there was nothing the matter with his mamma.” William did not speak, though his heart was full. The landlady then asked, if she could give any assistance in preparing the packaged for the sea?

“No, thank you,” said Molly, “I have almost done now. This small cabinet is the only thing unpacked, and that must stand till Captain M Lean comes himself, as all is committed to his care, with regard either to the children or the property.”

“Did your lady know much about Captain M’Lean, that she left him so great a charge?” asked the landlady.

“Not much, 1 believe, ma’am, herself; but the captain who brought us here knew him very well, and recommended him very strongly.”

“I wish I had been aware of what Captain Walker was doing,” said the landlady, thoughtfully, “for I am sadly afraid Captain M’Lean is not a man to be so fully trusted; but, my good young woman, do you not think it would be much better for you to remain here with the children till your master joins you? I know Captain Walker wrote, before he sailed, to inform Major Frazer of your mistress’s situation, and he told me there was no doubt he would arrive here in a very few weeks.”

“Molly appeared astonished at this information, and, tor a few minutes, did not exactly know how to answer. At last she said, “I wish I had known this a little sooner; for I would certainly have got my poor mistress to have settled her affairs differently. I can now do nothing in it, as the captain got her directions, and must act as he pleases. He won’t, I am sure, wait even another day; for he insisted on having the funeral over this morning, in order that we might get on board to-night; however, I will tell him what you say.”

“I don’t see any use in your telling him any thing further than, that you expect your master by the next ship, and therefore, you prefer waiting for him, to going home with so great a charge.” At this moment, Captain M’Lean entered. The landlady immediately mentioned her opinion, as to the propriety of Molly’s giving up the intention of prosecuting the voyage till Major Frazer’s arrival. Captain M’Lean was exceedingly offended. He said Mrs. Frazer had committed the care of her dear children to him, and that no one had a right to interfere in the arrangements that had been made for them. He would pay all demands that she might have on Mrs. Frazer out of his own pocket, rather than not fulfil the promise he had made to a dying woman.”

The landlady, seeing she could be of no. service, wished Molly good morning, and, kissing little Jane, was going away, when she felt her hand pressed by William, whose eyes were filled with tears, as he shook his little head, and pointed to Molly and the captain, who were conversing earnestly at the other end of the room. She was going to speak to him, when he suddenly pulled his hana away, and knelt down beside Jane, just in time to prevent Molly from observing that he had attracted any notice.

“I wish, Master William,” said Molly as she advanced, u you would take your sister into the other room, till Captain M’Lean has corded these boxes. I am afraid some of you may be hurt if you stay here.”

"Will you allow the children to come with me into my room?” asked the landlady; “I will take great care of them, till you are at leisure to attend to them yourself.”

“Not for the world,” answered Molly; “it would be very improper in me to allow them, poor things, to go from myself a moment, till I have placed them in safety with their friends. They will do very well in the next room.”

The landlady, seeing she could get no opportunity of speaking to the child, thought it oest to appear satisfied, and left the room. William and Jane were obliged to do as Molly desired, and went into their sleeping apartment For some time, William was engaged in amusing Jane; but, at last, when she became quiet, he thought he would like to see what Molly was about Accordingly, he crept to the door and peeped out Molly was busily engaged, showing M’Lean her mistress’s jewels, whilst he haa all the money counted out before him on the table.

“I tell you captain,” said Molly, “you shall have it all, if you will keep your promise, and marry me as soon as we get in England. No one knows what my mistress had but myself, and, if we manage properly, my master shall never find me, to call me to an account for any thing.”

“But what shall we do with the children?” asked M’Lean; “I should not choose to take them into the bargain.”

"Oh 1 we can easily let their grandmother know where we leave them,” answered Molly; “only you must promise not to deceive me, or I will do as the landlady advises, and stay where I am till my master comes.”

“No, Molly, you must not think of that; I will promise to marry you the very day we land; but are you quite sure you have secured every thing? and do you think that that little rascal will not tell what his mother had, when he gets to his friends? I must not run the risk of losing my character for this paltry sum; that will never do.”

“Oh, there is no fear of the boy’s telling, for he knows nothing about what his mother had; besides, I have taken care to have him in good training. He will not dare to disobey me in any thing. I know how to frighten him.”

“I wish he may give me a good opportunity to lend him a quieting blow during the voyage; dead men tell no tales.”

“No, no, Captain, that won’t do,” said Molly. “I tell you, I won’t have the children hurt, though I don’t mind taking the property. I won’t have their ghosts coming after me to destroy all my pleasure. I will rather give you up, than run any such risk.” “Poh,” said the captain, laughing, “how can you be so silly as to believe me in earnest; I won’t touch a hair of their heads, if you don’t like it; but let us lose no more time. The wind is fair, and will carry us off the island directly. There is no saying how soon this master of yours may arrive, and, if we are not beforehand with him, all our plans will be ruined.”

The two confederates then began to pack up every thing in the cabinet William saw, with pleasure, that they had not discovered the concealed drawer, and, likewise, that they replaced the money and jewels, the captain observing, that they were safer there than in his possession, whilst he was in St Lucia.

William, on seeing them move, returned to Jane, and amused her, by talking and playing with her, till Molly 6ame to give them some dinner. After seeing them seated at their meal, she desired William to attend to Jane till she returned, when she would take them on board the ship, as they were to sail in the evening.

The children had finished their dinner, and little Jane was laid on her bed asleep, when William thought he heard a tap at the door of the room. He asked who was there? and the landlady said it was she, and that she wished to speak to him, desiring him to open the door.

“I cannot, ma’am,” answered the child; "Molly has locked us in, and taken the key with her.” “My poor boy,” said the landlady, “I doubt you are in very bad hands* I have a great mind to apply to a magistrate, and get him to protect you.”

“Could a magistrate keep Molly from taking us away?” asked William.

“Yes, my dear, he could. Would you wish to stay with me till your papa comes for you?”

“O yes, yes,” cried William, “I would much rather stay here than go with that terrible captain. Vo you know he is going to take all mamma’s money, and pretty things, and keep them to himself? 1 heard him say so.”

“Hush, my dear,” whispered the landlady,

“I hear Molly coming. I will endeavour to find a magistrate, who will soon oblige him to return you all he has taken.”

The landlady had scarcely left the door, before Molly entered with a number of sailors, who had come for the boxes. William took no notice, till Molly had taken up Jane, and had desired him to follow her. Then he could refrain no longer; but bursting into tears, entreated that she would wait a little longer to see if his papa would come. A violent box on the ear was her only answer; and, on his refusing to move from the sofa, where he had thrown himself, she ordered # one of the sailors to take him in his arms, and carry him away by force. Poor William’s resistance was all in vain. The man lifted him at once, and, in spite of his cries for assistance, he found himself on board the Speedwell, without having seen either the landlady or the magistrate, who, he had flattered himself, would have released him out of the hands of the captain.

During the bustle that was on deck, preparatory to sailing, Molly undressed Jane, and laid her in the little cot prepared for her, and then, after beating William severely, laid him beside her, telling him, that if he <nd not be quiet, and go to sleep directly, she would bring the captain down, who would give him twice as much. Poor William lay still, though he felt very miserable. In thinking over what had passed, he suddenly recalled his mother’s directions of being very obedient to Molly. "I have been a naughty boy,” thought he: “I have disobeyed my dear mamma, and, therefore, have deserved to be beaten. I will never again be so naughty.” As he lay thinking in this way, he heard Molly and the captain come into the cabin: he was so still that they supposed he was asleep.

"We were just in time,” said the captain; "I would lay any wager that that old woman has given some information against us. We have had a hard run for it; but they have given up the chase at last, and now, I think, we are safe, if we can only get to England before the Major has time to be there before us. I won’t go to Port Glasgow; but, for security, I will put into Liverpool, where we can get rid of the cargo, and can leave the children till some of their friends find them out, and send for them.”

“I don’t believe it possible,” answered Molly, “for my master to get to Scotland before us. I think it would be much better for you to go to your own port; the children need not be sent to their grandmother till you are ready to sail on another voyage, which will prevent all risk of detection.

“No, no, I tell you I will have my own way in that. Don’t I know better than you can what is the safest plan to be pursued? I have leave to go to Liverpool from my owners, if I think it for their advantage, and I run little or no risk in doing so; whereas, ten chances to one, if I go to Port Glasgow, the whole affair will be blown long before I could be able to provide either for my own security or yours. But come, let us enjoy ourselves; thanks to the care of your worthy master, he has given us the means.” The two then left the cabin, and William heard nothing more of them till the morning.

During the whole of this long and tedious voyage (for it lasted seven weeks) nothing could exceed the barbarous and brutal treatment which the children received, both from the captain and Molly. The latter, indeed, seemea to have entirely lost all feeling for the poor little innocents she had so unjustly assisted in betraying into the hands of the ruffian M’Lean, and even appeared to enjoy seeing them beaten, sometimes without any fault being alleged against them. William heroically bore all his own sufferings without complaining; but to see punishment inflicted on his poor little helpless sister, was sometimes beyond his endurance. On one occasion, when the captain kicked her on the deck, he could not help saying passionately, “Were I a man, you durst not kick my Jane so.”

Instantly he had reason to repent his imprudence, for with one blow, he was hurled from the top of the gangway stairs to the bottom, where he lay for some considerable time nearly senseless. One of the sailors, at last, on coming down, saw him, and picked him up, and with some difficulty brougnt him to himself) though for nearly a week afterwards he was unable to walk. During this time, he found that bv remaining in the cabin, he avoided a great deal of harsh treatment, by being out of the way of the captain; he, therefore, never, from that time, attempted to go upon deck, but remained constantly with Jane below, amusing her as well as he could, and sharing with her all his own scanty provisions; for what was allowed for herself, was quite insufficient to satisfy her appetite, and hunger made her so very restless and noisy, as to render it almost impossible for him to pacify her.

Molly left the entire care of her to him; never even undressing her after the first night.

The constant care and anxiety that the poor boy endured on her account, added to the privation of food and exercise, as well as of every other comfort necessary to the health of a child, gave his countenance so settled an expression of melancholy, that the sailors, who occasionally looked into the cabin, considered him as little better than an idiot, and therefore, took but little interest in any thing that concerned him. They had been about five weeks at sea, when a tremendous storm came on. Whilst it lasted, nothing could exceed the suffering of our unhappy little passengers. Molly was too much alarmed for ner own safety to give a thought to what was passing in the cabin, so that it was only a miracle that the children were not killed by the falling of some of the heavy packages which the pitching of the ship had loosened. All William’s strength could not hold Jane firm in one place; but in every fresh roll they were thrown from one end of the little cabin to the other, at the imminent hazard of their lives. In this situation they continued for some considerable time, till an old sailor happened to have occasion to come into the cabin. William was weeping bitterly, though tenderly soothing the little girl, wno clung affrighted found nis neck, screaming, and imploring him to hold her. The old man was touched with the situation of the children, and as the best thing he could do for them, lifted them both into bed, where he left them, telling William not to venture to rise till he came to assist him.

For three days the storm lasted, the children remained m bed, cheered only by the occasional visits of the old sailor, who, as far as he had the power, did every thing to comfort them. When Jane could be kept quiet no longer, old Jack, at William’s request, took her out, and lashed her firmly to the feet of the table, so that she could not be driven $bout as she had been at the beginning of the storm. When the ship arrived in Liverpool, old Jack came into the cabin and told William that he must cheer up, he would soon be on dry land now. William asked where they were to land ? Jack answered in Liverpool

“Is that in Scotland?” said William.

“No, my man, it is a long way from Scotland,” answered Jack; but I hope you will find friends here to take care of you.

William sighed so heavily as he answered, “I know no one in England,” that the old man’s curiosity was excited, and there is no saying what he might have drawn from William, nad he had time; but at that critical moment Molly entered the cabin, for the first time the last week.

“Come, come,” said she, impatiently, “William, get up, and put on Jane’s bonnet, for we are going ashore this minute. If you don’t mate haste, I shall go and leave you both; I can’t wait all day for such lazy brats.”

“In my mind, mistress,” said old Jack, “you ought to bear a hand yourself in rigging that poor lass. It is a burning shame in any Christian to leave her entirely to the care of such a child as this little fellow.” “Hold your tongue, you old meddling rascal,” answered Molly, “or I shall make you repent your insolence as long as you live.” “No occasion, mistress, for bad words,” said Jack as he left the cabin, “though, if every one had their due, I know one who deserves a salt-eel for their supper.”

Molly probably did not understand the meaning attached to this phrase by the sailors, she therefore turned indignantly from the old man, and snatching Jane up, hurried out of the cabin, leaving William to make his way as he best could. With some trouble he clambered up the gangway stairs, and crept after Molly to the side of the ship, where he saw her get into a boat, unmindful of his cries or entreaties not to be left; and in all probability the boat would have gone without him, had not his friend Jack observed what was passing, and hailed the sailors in the boat, desiring them to take the boy. Molly, though she made no opposition to their doing so, appeared determined to take no notice of him, and when they landed, walked quickly .away with the captain, who was waiting for her on the pier. William, though weakened and exhausted by the voyage, felt so strongly the necessity for exertion, that he continued to keep up with them, till he saw them enter one of the principal hotels. He staid a few minutes, to be sure that they meant to remain there, and then deliberately determined to put in practice a scheme he had been planning in his own mind from the time he had quitted St Lucia. He turned from the door of the hotel, after having observed it very closely, and then asked a porter, who was standing near, what was the name of the street. The man answered him civilly, and William, having thanked him, walked away quickly, never stopping, till he came into a large handsome street, in which there were a great many shops—into the largest and handsomest he entered boldly, and addressing a respectable looking man, who stood behind the counter, asked him if he would be so good as to direct him where to find a magistrate.

The gentleman was naturally much surprised at the child’s request, and asked what he wanted at his age with a magistrate?

“Sir,” said William, “I cannot tell my story to any one but a magistrate. If you will be so good as to assist me in finding one, you shall hear what I have got to say; but if you cannot do what I want, I have no time to stay, as it is of the greatest consequence that I should see one immediately, or it will be too late to do any good.”

The gentleman became interested in the boy, from the simple, yet steady manner in which he expressed himself, he took his hat down from the peg where it hung, and said, “Well, my boy, I will try what I can do for you; you don’t look like a cheat, or an impostor, so come along with me; I will take you to my brother, who is a magistrate, and he will help you if he thinks you require it.”

William’s heart was full; but his mind was too much occupied in considering what he was to say to the magistrate, to allow him to do more than press the gentleman’s hand, as he led him along. When arrived at the house, the gentleman rapped at the door, and inquired if Mr. Munro was within. “Yes, sir, answered the servant; “he is in his own room quite alone.”

“Show us in, then, to him; we have some private business, John, so don’t let us be interrupted.”

John opened his master’s door, and the gentleman thinking to encourage the boy, desired him not to be afraid.

“I am not afraid, sir,” answered William, “I am only anxious to tell the gentleman all I have suffered, and to beg of him to take care of my sister and me, till grandmamma knows where we are.”

Mr. Munro heard from his brother how he had met with the child; after which, he called him forward, and taking his hand, desired him to mention what was his business, and how he could serve him.

William blushed a little at first, but instantly recovering himself related his history, from the time of his sailing from Tobago, in a clear, distinct voice, without the slightest hesitation or confusion. When he had finished, he said, "and now, sir, I have told you all; our landlady at St Lucia said, that a magistrate could prevent either the captain or Molly from taking poor mamma’s property, and, as I know it is all safe yet in the little cabinet, I thought it was best to lose no time in applying to one immediately on landing. Will you try to help me, sir?”,

Mr. Munro was so deeply affected with the child’s story, that he could scarcely answer him. “Tell me, my love,” said he at last, “what is your grandmamma’s name?”

“Munro,” answered William. “My mamma’s name was Charlotte Munro, I have heard papa say, before she was married.”

Mr. Munro clasped him in his arms: “My little fellow, what a wonderful miracle conducted you to this house! Your poor mother was my only sister; I am, therefore, your uncle, as well as this gentleman who brought you to me. Make yourself quite comfortable; I will take care to secure both Molly and Captain M’Lean in a very short while; your mother’s property, if it remains, as you believe, in the cabinet, shall be brought here before I sleep; but we must get your sister into our possession before we can think of any thing else,”

The two gentlemen, after a little consultation together, agreed that Mr. Munro, the magistrate, should, with proper assistance accompany William to the hotel, in order to get Jane, before they attempted any thing against Molly or Captain M’Lean, whilst Mr. Henry Munro was to go on board the Speedwell, with proper power for securing the various packages belonging to the children. As soon as all was settled, Mr. Munro, taking William’s hand, said, “I am sorry, my dear boy, to be obliged to take you out again to-night, before you have had any refreshment; but we have no time to lose; for, if these worthless people should, on missing you, suspect the possibility of your having betrayed them, there is no saying what they may do, either with your sister or the property.”

“Never mind me, sir,” answered William; “I don’t care for any thing till I see Jane safe here. O, you do not know what a wicked, bad creature Molly is, and how terribly she beats her, poor little thing, for nothing at all. Mr. Munro felt so exasperated against the woman, that he could not answer the child: taking his hand, he walked off towards the hotel, where William had told him she was. As they came near the door, they heard voices speaking very loud. Mr. Munro stood still a moment.

“I tell you,” said a voice, “the woman is telling a great story. If the boy is lost, she has left him on purpose in the streets; for she has never showed the least concern for him ever since she has been on board. I am determined to see the rights of it, for somehow my heart misgave me that some harm would come to him, as I put him into the boat beside the wicked black creature.” “Nonsense, Jack,” said another voice, “You had best, I advise you, have nothing to do in the business; you know the captain has taken her under his protection, and if you offend him, when are you ever likely to get employment again? lake my word for it, the boy has only wandered away of his own accord, and will be found safe enough by to-morrow morning, without any interference of yours.”

“I don’t value the captain a brass farthing, when I am doing my duty,” roared the other; “I won’t, Tom Fowler, flinch in such a lubberly manner, from protecting the innocent, as long as my name is Jack Thompson; and if this woman does not produce both the poor infants, and that quickly, I will make it the worst job she ever meddled in, before the night goes over her head. I said she deserved a salt-eel for her supper, and, by the Lord, she shall have it, if the boy is not forthcoming.”

A violent squabble amongst the crowd followed this harangue, some taking part with honest Jack, others siding with his more prudent companion. Mr. Munro pushed forward to where Jack stood, and taking the astonished sailor by the hand, said, “I thank you, my honest friend, for the interest you nave taken in the helpless children that came over in the Speedwell. There is the boy, quite safe, under my care; I want to know where the woman now is, that I may deliver the little wanderer to those who are intrusted with the care of him.”

"Ah, your honour, if so be he is with you, the young rogue is safe enough. As to the woman she is in the hotel there; but I doubt she is but a bad one to have the charge of any Christian. Hang me if I would trust her with my cat.” Mr. Munro desired Jack to go to his house, and wait till he returned home, as he wished to have some conversation with him, after he had seen Captain M’Lean. Jack gave a sort of a scrape, which he intended for a bow, and promised to do what he desired; and Mr. Munro, taking William’s hand, turned to go into the hotel. On the steps he met a waiter, of whom he inquired if Captain M’Lean, of the Speedwell, was in the house.

“Yes, sir,” answered the man, “he is here at present, but has just ordered a post-chaise to go a few miles in the country, with a passenger he has brought over from St. Lucia. At present he has no time to see any one, but has desired me to say that he will be here at ten o’clock to-morrow morning to transact business.”

"I cannot wait till to-morrow morning; my business is with the black girl he has with him, I must see her this moment, so lose no more time; show me to her room immediately.”

The waiter hesitated a moment, but on seeing that Mr. Munro was determined to be obeyed, he opened the door of a back parlour, and, standing back, desired him to walk in, he believed both the girl and Captain M’Lean were within.

Mr. Munro immediately entered, but saw neither Molly nor the Captain, though, from the confusion that the room was in, it was evident they had but recently left it. Two chairs stood before the fire, close to a table, on which were spread various articles of wearing apparel, and at a little distance the cabinet which William believed had been left on board the SpeedwelL It was open, and all the drawers thrown about in confusion; every thing that it had contained appeared to have been removed, though in so great a hurry as not to have allowed the robbers time to take any precautions against discovery. “We are too late, I fear, William,” said Mr. Munro, “to prevent these wretches from taking possession of the property; I think, however, they cannot be far off.” He instantly summoned the landlord of the hotel, and telling him the nature of his business, ordered him to permit his men to search his premises for the robbers. Whilst he was employed in seeing his orders put in execution, William stood crying for nis sister, his poor little Jane. The sound of his well-known voice probably awakened her, for at that moment she began to cry loudly for her brother Willy. Both Willy and Mr. Munro started. They heard her distinctly, yet for a few seconds could not discover from whence the sound came. On a close search, they found her laid under the sofa, and carefully covered over with the hearth-rug, probably to prevent it from being observed that she was there, till her wicked nurse was beyond the reach of pursuit.

It soon became evident that Molly and her accomplice had actually effected their escape.

On Mr. Munro’s threatening vengeance against all who had assisted them, if they did not instantly confess what they knew, the waiter to whom he had first spoken, owned that he had seen them set off about half an hour before in a post-chaise for Wem, whither Molly had pretended to say she suspected William had been carried by one of the sailors, who owed her a grudge, and it was of much consequence to overtake them before he had time to go further. The man, with every appearance of speaking truth, protested his total ignorance that little Jane had been left behind, saying, on the contrary, Molly had said she was fast asleep, and as she was afraid the child would take cold from travelling in the night air, had borrowed a cloak from him to cover her with.

Mr. Munro now, before the landlord and other witnesses, desired William to examine the cabinet, and ascertain whether the concealed drawer had been discovered. The child instantly obeyed his directions, and soon produced his mother’s packet, and the little money she had dared to conceal for his use, in case of the very desertion she had but too truly feared he might experience. His own list, likewise, of his mother’s property was there. He had omitted to mention the circumstance of his having taken one to his Uncle in his narrative. Now, when Mr. Munro inquired how it had come there, in such a scrawling hand, William answered, blushing, that he had thought, though he could not write very well, it would be best to do it as well as he could, to let his grandmamma and dear papa see that he had at least tried to do what he could for their satisfaction.

Mr. Munro could not help pressing him to his breast, as he said, “I really do not believe there ever was a child blessed with such admirable good sense and fortitude at so tender an age. You have been, my love,” continued he, still holding him upon his knee, “a very good and obedient boy, and I am sure when you see your papa again, he will love you more than ever he did, and study to make you happy and comfortable all the rest of your life. This paper is now of inestimable value; for without it, I should find a difficulty in recognizing your poor mother’s property. Here, every thing is so accurately described, that should we be so fortunate as to overtake the miscreants, I shall easily be able to prove your right to all which they have taken from you.”

Mr. Munro now took the children home to his own house4 and committed them to the care of his wife, who, after giving them a comfortable supper, put them bom to bed with the greatest care; and, in a few days, by her continuation of this treatment, had the satisfaction of witnessing the greatest possible improvement in their health and-appearance. Meantime the two Mr. Munros were actively employed in tracing the vile confederates, M’Lean and Molly. The morning after their escape, Mr. Henry Munro happened to be walking through a little narrow street at the back of the town, when, by accident, in passing a window, he saw the face of a mulatto woman, who instantly turned away, and another person drew down the blind to prevent his seeing more. He lost not a moment in calling to a man whom he saw in the street; he desired him to go to his brother’s house, and let him know lat he wanted assistance immediately; promising his messenger that if he executed his commission well, he would give him five guineas for his trouble. The man lost no time in earning so unexpected a reward, and in little more than half an hour both Molly and the Captain were secured, with nearly the whole of the stolen property in their possession. Their trial took place soon afterwards, when William gave his testimony so distinctly as to call forth the praises and approbation both of the judge and jury. M’Lean and Molly were convicted on the clearest evidence, and remitted to prison, to be brought up for judgment on a future day; but, through some means never discovered, they contrived to make their escape before that time arrived, and were never heard of afterwards.

William and little Jane resided with Mr. Munro till the trial was over, and then went, under their Uncle Henry’s protection, into Scotland, to their grandmother, who received them with the greatest affection, and tried, by her kindness, to make up to them, as far as possible, the irreparable loss they had sustained in. the death of their amiable and excellent mother.

William, one morning, soon after his arrival in Glasgow, had got a task of spelling, set by a master whom his good grandmother had engaged to give him a little private instruction before she sent him to school. Anxious to acquit himself properly, he went and sat down behind a chair so as to be quite concealed from observation, and was so much interested in learning his lesson, that he did not observe the entrance of a gentleman, who, seeing no one in the room, concluded himself alone. After sitting a few minutes, he sighed so heavily that William heard him. The child laid down his book and, raising himself up, saw through the bars of the chair a gentleman in deep mourning, who was resting his head on his hand, as he leant on a little table that usually stood by Mrs. Munro’s chair. The gentleman was in: great distress, William thought, for he saw him wipe his face several times with his handkerchief, though, as his back was towards him, he could not see whether he was shedding tears. Our little friend had a most affectionate and feeling heart; the sorrows and trials he had himself gone through so lately, made him enter into the distress of another more fully than probably he would have done had he never known misfortunes. Gradually he moved from his hiding-place, and approached the stranger till he had got to his side, when, laying his little hand on his knee, he said, “Pray, sir, don’t fret.” The gentleman started, and at the same moment the father and son recognized each other. William threw himself into Major Frazer’s arms, who held him close to his breast as if he was afraid to look at him for fear of being awakened from an agreeable dream.

“Is it possible,” at last said the Major, “that I see my child in safety? Oh’, my darling William, tell me how you have been preserved, and whether your poor sister has Deen equally fortunate.” William related all that had happened to him, assuring his papa that Jane was quite safe, and much stronger and better than when she left Tobago. An hour had nearly passed before Mrs. Munro returned from her walk. Her astonishment nearly equalled her delight on finding the Major with his son. All that had occurred was related. Major Frazer shed tears over the history of his poor wife’s distresses, and blessed God for the almost miraculous preservation of his infants. He told his friends that immediately on receipt of Captain Walker’s letter, he left Tobago, at all hazards, for St. Lucia. Unfortunately, he did not arrive there for nearly a week after his children had quitted it From the worthy landlady, he received such an account, both of Molly’s conduct and of Captain M’Lean, that his fears for what might happen to the children, who were left in such unprincipled hands, produced a fever, and it was several weeks before he was able to pursue them to Scotland. On reaching Port Glasgow, he learned that the Speedwell had not been there, but had gone to Liverpool, where, after delivering her cargo, she had been taken up as a store-ship, and sent to the Mediterranean. Captain M’Lean had left her immediately on landing at Liverpool, and the owners either knew nothing of what had become of him, or were determined to give no information on the subject. He then resolved to set out instantly for Liverpool, and had come to Glasgow on his way that morning; yet, though anxious beyond description about his children, he thought he could not avoid devoting an hour to his poor wife’s mother, and fortunately came with that intention, when the unexpected blessing of finding his children with her, and in safety, put an end to the necessity of prosecuting his intended journey.

Little more remains to be related of the history of our Young West Indian. Very soon after the Major’s return tp Scotland, he succeeded, by the unexpected death of a near relation, to a moderate inheritance, which rendered him so independent that he sold his commission, and settled in the neighbourhood of Glasgow, devoting his whole time to the improvement and instruction of his amiable and strong-minded little boy, who continued to increase in knowledge and virtue, under the superior advantages he enjoyed, till he attained the age of manhood, wnen he became a blessing to all connected with him, and fully repaid his father by his dutiful and unremitting attention, for all the anxiety and trouble he had taken with him in his youth.

Old Jack was handsomely rewarded by Major Frazer; and, on his becoming infirm, and unable to earn his bread in his profession, was settled in a small cottage on the Major’s estate, where he lived to a good old age, in happiness and comfort, blessing every day of his life the chance that led him to sail in the Speedwell, where he had the opportunity of becoming known to the Young West Indian and his friends.


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