Read CHAPTER XLVIII of Dulcibel A Tale of Old Salem , free online book, by Henry Peterson, on

Captain Tolley’s Propositions.

That evening as Master Raymond was standing in the bar-room of the Red Lion, Captain Tolley came in, and after tossing off a stout glass of rum and water, went out again, giving the young Englishman a nod and the agreed-upon-signal, a smoothing of his black beard with the left hand. After the lapse of a few minutes, Master Raymond followed, going towards the wharves, which in the evening were almost deserted. Arrived at the end of one of the wharves, he found the Captain of the Storm King.

“So you got out of the clutches of those Salem rascals safely?” said the Captain. “I was afraid I should have to go all the way to Salem for you.”

“You would not have deserted me then, Captain?”

“That is not the kind of a marlinespike I am,” replied the Captain quaintly. “I’d have got you out of Salem jail, unless it is a good deal stronger than the Boston one.”

“Thank you, Captain, but I am glad there was no need of your trying.”

“You heard of course that Captain Alden was off, and Master and Mistress English?”

“Yes and very glad I was too.”

“Why did not your sweetheart go with the Englishes?”

“There were several reasons one, a rather foolish one, she would not leave me in prison.”

“She would not?”


“D me! Why that girl is fit to be a sailor’s wife! When we get her off safely I intend to have her as the figure-head of the Storm King.”

“I am afraid that would be a very unhealthy position she might catch a bad cold,” replied Master Raymond.

“Oh, of course I mean in wood, painted white with red cheeks,” said Captain Tolley. “It brings good luck to have a fine woman for a figure-head pleases old Nep, you know.”

“But we must get her off first,” rejoined Master Raymond. “Now to keep out of that hateful jail, she has given her word to Keeper Arnold not to escape. You know she cannot break her word.”

“Of course not,” replied the Captain; “a lady is like a sailor, she cannot go back on her promise.”

“And there is where the trouble comes in.”

“Buy Keeper Arnold over.”

“I am afraid I cannot not for a good while at least. They are all down upon him for Captain Alden’s escape. They might give him a terrible whipping if another prisoner got off.”

The Captain shrugged his shoulders. “Yes, I saw them whip some Quakers once. It was not a good honest lash, but something the hangman had got up on purpose, and which cut to the very bone. I have seen men and women killed, down on the Spanish main, but I never saw a sight like that! Good, harmless men and women too! A little touched here, you know,” and the Captain tapped his forehead lightly with his fore-finger.

“Yes I should not like to hear that Master Arnold had been tortured like that on our account.”

“Suppose we carry her off some night by force, she having no hand in the arrangements? She can even refuse to go, you know, if she pleases we will handle her as gently as a little bird, and you can come up and rescue her, if you choose, and knock down two or three of us. How would that do? Half-a-dozen of the Storm King’s men could easily do that. Choose a night with a brisk nor’wester, and we would be past the castle’s guns before the sleepy land-lubbers had their eyes open.”

Master Raymond shook his head dubiously. “I do not like it and yet I suppose it must do, if nothing better can be found. Of course if we carry her off bodily, against her will, it would neither be a breaking of her pledge nor expose Keeper Arnold to any danger of after punishment, though he might perhaps get pretty seriously hurt in resisting us, and she would not like that much.”

“I suppose then we must wait a while longer,” said the Captain. “I am ready any time you say the word only be careful that a good west or a nor’west wind is blowing. When once out on the high seas, we can take care of ourselves.”

“Many French privateers out there?”

“Thick as blackberries. But they are of no account. Those we cannot fight, we can easily run away from. There is no craft on these seas, that can overhaul the Storm King!”

With a hearty shake of the hand the two parted, the Captain for the vessel of which he was so proud; Master Raymond for his room in the Red Lion.