“While the Squire would be doing what he called the straight-forward up in town, I’d be dropping kedge at Digby, where (the Colonial Parliament having withdrawn the appropriation for a boarding-boat, that smugglers might get through their little operations without trouble) we would send our own boat for the collector. Used to have everything as bright as a new sixpence, and colors flying, and my own face squared up to do the honest, when that imported dignitary came on board, affecting all the importance of a Port-Admiral.
“‘Had a good passage, eh, Hornblower?’ the prim collector used to ask, as he mounted the rail.
“’Blowed like cannons, outside, last night! Seeing how we had just ballast in her, like to tipped her over,’ I’d say, bowing, keeping my hat in my hand, and doing the polite all up.
“‘Didn’t have a chance to smuggle, according to that, eh?’
“’Yer honor knows Hornblower never does that sort of thing. The Squire, my owner, is pious, you know,’ I’d say, keeping the long face hard down.
“’Yes, Hornblower, I know your owner to be conscientious and pious; that is why I always let you off so easy.’ And the collector would look so credulously good-natured that I couldn’t help drawing out a roll of cigars, telling him they were pure Havanas, when presenting them. It used to do me good to see how it—small as it was—softened things about his heart. I would immediately follow the cigars with the papers, taking good care to have merchandise enough in the hold to correspond with what was set forth on the clearance and manifest. ’Ye see, sir,’ I’d remark, ’I never smuggles, except it is a few cigars now and then, for my own smoking! Old Jacob Grimes says, when a government makes laws what people can’t live to, you must live round them; but them ain’t my principles.’
“’Thank you, Mr. Hornblower, I am sure you have more regard for your honor than to smuggle,’ he would resume, keeping his eyes fixed upon me.
“’I am obliged to you for the confidence—the confidence of superiors in spirit or body; and I hope I may never do anything but what will merit yours. It has been my motto through life to keep before me the words of my good old mother. Ah! she was a mother. Fond soul, she used to say, ’Solomon, my boy, let your dealing with the world be marked by honesty, and remember that one small error in your life may stain forever your character. The eyes of an unforgiving world once excited to suspicion will ever wear the same glasses.’’ Having said this, nothing more was wanted to make complete the Squire’s confidence. Without further detention, he would have the papers made out, and having received them, we would trim our sheets and sail away up the river, Old Tom boarding us off Pin Point, and laughing himself almost out of his black skin—welcoming us after the fashion of friends met after a long absence. All this time the Squire would be impatiently waiting on the wharf at the little town of Annapolis—so glad to see Hornblower! ‘No contraband goods on board, eh, Hornblower?’ he would inquire, affecting such an amount of piety that it made me laugh in my shoes.