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

An Unwilling Parson.

Not quite an hour had elapsed, when the sound of oars was again heard; and Captain Tolley, peering through the dark, saw that another form was seated opposite the mate in the stern-sheets of the boat.

“I thought that Simmons would bring him,” said Captain Tolley to the second mate; “such a smooth tongue as he has. It is a pity he wasn’t a minister himself his genius is half wasted here.”

“Glad to see you on board the Storm King, Master Mather,” was the greeting of the Captain, as the minister was helped up to the deck by the mates.

“The Storm King! Why I was told that it was an English frigate, just come into port,” said the minister in a surprised voice.

“The messenger must have made a mistake,” replied the Captain coolly. “You know that landsmen always do get things mixed.

“Well, as I am here, no matter. Show me the dying man.”

“Walk down into the cabin,” said the Captain politely.

Entering the cabin which was well lighted, Master Raymond stepped forward, “I am happy to see you, Master Mather. You remember me, do you not?”

“Master Raymond, I believe,” returned the minister coldly. “Where is the dying man who requires my spiritual ministrations?”

“Dying!” laughed the Captain. “How strangely that fellow got things mixed. I said dying to get married did I not, Master Raymond?”

“Of course you did that is, after you had explained yourself.”

Master Mather’s face looked blank, he did not know what to make of it.

“In truth, Master Mather,” said the young Englishman, “I was under the necessity of getting married this evening; and, thinking over the worshipful ministers of Boston town, I singled you out as the one I should prefer to officiate on the happy occasion.”

“I decline to have anything to do with it,” said Master Mather indignantly, turning on his heel, and going to the door of the cabin. But here a muscular sailor, with a boarding pike, promptly forbade his passage by putting the pike across the door way.

“What do you mean by barring my way in this manner?” said the minister in great wrath to the captain. “Have you no reverence for the law?”

“Not a particle for Boston law,” replied Captain Tolley. “The only law recognized on board the Storm King is the command of its Captain. You have been brought here to marry these two young friends of mine; and you will not leave the vessel before you do it if I have to take you with us all the way to China.”

Master Mather pondered the matter for a moment. “This is too informal, there are certain preliminaries that are necessary in such cases.”

“Advisable but I am told not absolutely necessary,” replied Master Raymond.

“Wait then for an hour or two; and we shall be on the high seas and out of any jurisdiction,” added Captain Tolley.

“Who is this maiden? Who gives her away?” asked the minister.

“This maiden is Mistress Dulcibel Burton,” said Master Raymond, taking her by the hand.

“She is an orphan; but I give her away,” added the Captain.

“Dulcibel Burton! the serpent witch!” exclaimed Master Mather. “What is that convict doing here? Has she broken jail?”

“Master Mather,” said the Captain in an excited tone, “if you utter another word of insult against this innocent and beautiful maiden, I will have you flung overboard to the sharks! So take care of what you say!” and the indignant seaman shook his finger in the minister’s face warningly.

“Master Mather,” added Raymond, more coolly, “Mistress Burton has not broken jail. She was duly released from custody by Keeper Arnold on the presentation of an official paper by Lady Mary Phips. Therefore your conscience need not be uneasy on that score.”

“Why are you here then why making this haste? It is evident that there is something wrong about it.”

“Boston has not treated either of us so well that we are very desirous of remaining,” replied Master Raymond. “And as we are going together, it is only decorous that we should get married. If you however refuse to marry us, we shall be compelled to take you with us for the mere presence of such a respected minister will be sufficient to shield the maiden’s name from all reckless calumniators.”

The second mate came to the door of the cabin. “Captain, there is a fine breeze blowing, it is a pity not to use it.”

“Make all ready, sir,” replied the Captain. Then turning to the minister, “There is no particular hurry, Master Mather. You can take the night to think over it. To-morrow morning probably, if you come to your senses, we may be able to send you ashore somewhere, between here and the capes of the Delaware.”

“This is outrageous!” said Master Mather. “I will hold both of you accountable for it.”

“It is a bad time to threaten, when your head is in the lion’s mouth, Master Mather,” returned Captain Tolley fiercely. “No one knows but my own men that you ever came on board the ‘Storm King.’ How do you know that I am not Captain Kidd himself?”

The minister’s face grew pale. It was no disparagement to his manhood. Even Master Raymond’s face grew very serious for did even he know that this Captain Tolley might not be the renowned freebooter, of whose many acts of daring and violence the wide seas rang?

“I would counsel you for your own good to do at once what you will have to do ultimately,” said Master Raymond gravely. “I owe you no thanks for anything; but” and the young man laughed as he turned to Dulcibel “I never could trap even a fox without pitying the animal.”

Dulcibel went up to the minister, and put her hand upon his arm: “Do I look so much like a witch?” she said in a playful tone.

“We are told that Satan can enrobe himself like an angel of light,” replied Master Mather severely. “I judge you by what I have heard of your cruel deeds.”

“As you judged the cruel yellow bird that turned out to be only a harmless little chicken,” said Master Raymond sarcastically. “Enough of this folly. Will you marry us now or not? If you will, you shall be put ashore unharmed. If you will not, you shall go along with us. Make up your mind at once, for we shall soon be out of Boston harbor.”

Master Mather had a strong will and an equally strong won’t but the Philistines were, for this time, too much for him. That reference to Captain Kidd had frightened him badly. “Stand up and I will marry you. Unscrupulous as you both are, it is better that you should be married by legal rites, than allowed to go your own way to destruction.”

And then the important ceremony being duly gone through he pronounced Master Ellis Raymond and Mistress Dulcibel Burton man and wife. The Captain being allowed by Master Raymond to take the first kiss, as acting in the place of the bride’s father.

“No, not a penny!” said the minister, closing his hand against the golden pieces that the groom held out to him. “All I ask is, that you comply with your promise and put me on shore again as soon as possible.”

“Better take a drink of wine first,” said the Captain, filling up a glass and handing it to him.

“I will neither break bread nor drink wine on this” he was going to say accursed ship; but the fierce eyes of the possible freebooter were upon him, and he said, “on this unhappy vessel.”

Captain Tolley laughed heartily. “Oh well, good wine never goes begging. The anchor is not up yet, and we will put you off just where you came on. Come along!”

Without a word of leave-taking to the two whom he had joined together, Master Mather followed the Captain. In fact though, Master Raymond and Dulcibel scarcely noted his going, for they were now seated on a small sofa, the arm of the young husband around the shapely waist of his newly-made wife, and the minister dismissed from their minds as completely as the wine-glass out of which they had just drank. He had answered their purpose and in the deep bliss of their new relation, they thought no more about him.

As Master Mather turned to descend to the boat again not wasting any formal words of leave-taking upon the Captain either the latter grasped him by the arm.

“Wait one moment,” said Captain Tolley. “You will speak of what has occurred here this evening Master Mather, or not, at your pleasure. But be careful of what you say for there is no power on this coast, strong enough to protect you against my vengeance!” And with a scowl upon his face, that would not have done injustice to the dreaded Captain Kidd himself, he added in a hoarse, fierce tone the one impressive word “Beware!”

The minister made no reply. It was a day of fierce men and wild deeds especially on the high seas. Prudence in some positions is far better than valor.

“Now, my hearties! let us get out of this harbor as soon as possible!” cried the Captain. “I might have held him till we were opposite the castle, and put him ashore there; but it is safer as it is. We have a regular clearance, and he cannot do anything legally under an hour or two at least while in half-an-hour we shall be outside. With a stiff breeze like this, once on the open seas, I fear neither man nor devil!”