King of the Beggars - Chapter X

Chapter X

He is Captured again and Suffers Grievously for his Sense of Honour

            It was before such a justice Mr. Carew had the good fortune to be carried: they found him in his court-yard, just mounting his horse to go out, and he very civilly inquired their business; the timbermen told him they had got a runaway: the justice then inquired of Mr. Carew who he was: he replied he was a sea-faring man, belonging to the Hector privateer of Boston, captain Anderson, and as they could not agree, he had left the ship. The justice told him he was very sorry it should happen so, but he was obliged by the laws of his country to stop all passengers who could not produce passes; and, therefore, though unwillingly, he should be obliged to commit him; he then entertained him very plentifully with victuals and drink, and in the meantime made his commitment for New Town gaol. Mr. Carew, finding his commitment made, told the timbermen, that, as they got their money easily, he would have a horse to ride upon, for it was too hot for him to walk in that country. The justice merrily cried, Well spoken, prisoner. There was then a great ado with the timbermen to get a horse for him; but at last one was procured, and our hero, mounted on a milk-white steed, was conveyed in a sort of triumph to New Town, the timbermen performing the cavalcade on foot. The commitment was directed to the under-sheriff in New Town, a saddler by profession, who immediately waited on him to the prison; he found it well peopled, and his ears were confused with almost as many dialects as put a stop to the building of Babel. Mr. Carew saluted them, and courteously inquired what countrymen they were: some were from Kilkenny, some Limerick, some Dublin, others of Somerset, Dorset, Devon, and Cornwall; so that he found he had choice enough of companions, and, as he saw he had no remedy but patience, he endeavoured to amuse himself as well as he could. Looking through the bars one day, he espied a whipping-post and gallows, at which he turned to his companions, and cried out, A fine sight truly this is, my friends! which was a jest many of them could not relish, as they had before tasted of the whipping; looking on the other side, he saw a fine house, and demanding whose it was, they told him it was the assembly-house. While he was thus amusing himself, reflecting on the variety of his fate, fortune was preparing a more agreeable scene for him. A person coming up to the window, asked where the runaway was, who had been brought in that day, Mr. Carew composedly told him he was the man; they then entered into discourse, inquiring of each other of what country they were, and soon found they were pretty near neighbours, the person who addressed him being one out of Dorsetshire. While they were talking, our hero seeing the tops of some vessels riding in the river, inquired what place they belonged to. The man replied, To the west of England, to one Mr. Buck of Biddeford, to whom most of the town belonged. Our hero's heart leaped for joy at this good news, and he hastily asked if the captains Kenny, Hervey, Hopkins, and George Burd were there; the man replying in the affirmative, still heightened his satisfaction. Will you have the goodness to be an unfortunate prisoner's friend, said he to the person he was talking with, and present my humble duty to any of them, but particularly to Captain Hervey, and inform them I am here. The man very civilly replied he would do it; and asked what he should tell them was his name? Carew, replied our hero. Away ran the messenger with great haste, but before he got half way, forgetting the name ran back again to ask it. Tell them my name is Carew, the rat-catcher; away went the man again, repeating all the way, Carew, the rat-catcher, lest he should forget it a second time; and he now executed his message so well, that very soon after came the captains to the gaol door.

            Inquiring for Carew, the rat-catcher, as they wanted to speak with him; our hero, who heard them, answered with a tantivy, and a halloo to the dogs; upon which Captain Hervey swore it was Carew, and fell a-laughing very heartily, then coming to the window, they very cordially shook hands with him, saying, they should as soon have expected to have seen Sir Robert Walpole there as him. They then inquired by what means he came there; and he informed them circumstantially of everything as already mentioned. The captains asked him if he would drink a glass of rum, which he accepted of very gladly in his present condition; one of them quickly sent down to the storehouse for a bottle of rum and a bottle of October, and then they all went into the gaol, and sat down with him. Thus did he see himself once more surrounded by his friends, so that he scarcely regretted his meeting with the timber-men, as they had brought him into such good company. He was so elevated with his good fortune, that he forgot all his misfortunes, and passed the evening as cheerfully as if he was neither a slave nor a prisoner. The captains inquired if he had been sold to a planter before he made his escape; he replied in the negative, when they informed him, that unless his captain came and demanded him, he would be publicly sold the next court-day. When they took their leaves, they told him they would see him the next morning.

            Accordingly they returned very early, and having got admittance into the prison, hailed him with the pleasing sound of liberty, telling him, they had agreed among themselves to purchase him, then give him his release, and furnish him with proper passes; but instead of receiving this joyful news with the transports they expected, our hero stood for some time silent and lost in thought. During this while, he reflected within himself, whether his honour would permit him to purchase his liberty on these terms: and it was indeed no little struggle which passed in his breast on this occasion. On the one side, Liberty, with all her charms, presented herself, and wooed to be accepted, supported by Fear, who set before his eyes all the horrors and cruelties of a severe slavery; on the other side, dame Honour, with a majestic mien, forbade him, sounding loudly in his ears how it would read in future story, that the ingenious Mr. Carew had no contrivance left to regain his lost liberty, but meanly to purchase it at his friends' expense. For some time did these passions remain in equipoise; as thou hast often seen the scales of some honest tradesman, before he weighs his commodity; but at length honour preponderated, and liberty and fear flew up and kicked the beam; he therefore told the captains he had the most grateful sense of this instance of their love, but that he could never consent to purchase his freedom at their expense: and therefore desired they would only do him the favour to acquaint Captain Froade of his being there. The captains were quite amazed at this resolution, and used great entreaties to persuade him to alter it, but all in vain; so that at last they were obliged to comply with his earnest request, in writing to Captain Froade.

            Captain Froade received with great pleasure the news of his being in custody in New Town, and soon sent round his long-boat, paid all costs and charges, and brought him once more on board his ship. The captain received him with a great deal of malicious satisfaction in his countenance, telling him in a taunting manner, that, though he had promised Sir William Courtney to be at home before him, he should find himself damnably mistaken; and then with a tyrannic tone bade him strip, calling the boatswain to bring up a cat-o'-nine-tails, and tie him fast up to the main geers; accordingly our hero was obliged to undergo a cruel and shameful punishment. Here, gentle reader, if thou hast not a heart made of something harder than adamant, thou canst not choose but melt at the sufferings of our hero; he, who but just before, did what would have immortalised the name of Caesar or Alexander, is now rewarded for it with cruel and ignominious stripes, far from his native country, wife, children, or any friends, and still doomed to undergo severe hardships. As soon as the captain had satisfied his revenge, he ordered Mr. Carew on shore, taking him to a blacksmith, whom he desired to make a heavy iron collar for him, which in Maryland they call a pot-hook, and is usually put about the necks of runaway slaves. When it was fastened on, the captain jeeringly cried, "Now run away if you can; I will make you help to load this vessel, and then I'll take care of you, and send you to the ironworks of Susky Hadlam."

            Captain Froade soon after left the vessel, and went up to a storehouse at Tuckhoe, and the first mate to Kent island, whilst the second mate and boatswain kept the ship; in the meantime our hero was employed in loading the vessel, and doing all manner of drudgery. Galled with a heavy yoke and narrowly watched, he began to lose all hopes of escape; his spirits now began to fail him, and he almost gave himself up to despair, little thinking his deliverance so near at hand, as he found it soon to be.

            One day, as he was employed in his usual drudgery, reflecting within himself upon his unhappy condition, he unexpectedly saw his good friends, Captains Hervey and Hopkins, two of the Biddeford captains, who, as has been before related, had offered to redeem him from the prison at New Town; he was overjoyed at the sight of them, not that he expected any deliverance from them, but only as they were friends he had been so much obliged to.

            The captains came up and inquired very kindly how it fared with him, and how he bore the drudgery they saw him employed in; adding, that he had better have accepted the offer they made him at New Town. Our hero gallantly replied, that however severe the hardships he underwent, and were they still more so, he would rather choose to suffer them, than purchase liberty at their cost. The captains, charmed with his magnanimity, were resolved to make one attempt more to get him his liberty. They soon after sounded the boatswain and mate; and finding them not greatly averse to give him an opportunity to escape, they took him aside, and thus addressed him:—"Friend Carew, the offer we made you at New Town may convince you of the regard we have for you; we therefore cannot think of leaving the country before we have, by some means or other, procured your liberty; we have already sounded the boatswain and mate, and find we can bring them to wink at your escape; but the greatest obstacle is, that there is forty pounds penalty and half a year's imprisonment, for anyone that takes off your iron collar, so that you must be obliged to travel with it, till you come among the friendly Indians, many miles distant from hence, who will assist you to take it off, for they are great friends with the English, and trade with us for lattens, kettles, frying-pans, gunpowder and shot; giving us in exchange buffalo and deer skins, with other sorts of furs. But there are other sorts of Indians, one of which are distinguished by a very flat forehead, who use cross-bows in fighting; the other of a very small stature, who are great enemies, and very cruel to the whites; these you must endeavour by all means to avoid, for if you fall into their hands, they will certainly murder you.—And here the reader will, we make no doubt, be pleased to see some account of the Indians, among whom our hero was treated with so much kindness and civility, as we shall relate in its proper place.

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