Chapter 25: Return to England
I had now been about 4 weeks in Charlestown and had nothing to do. So my time was chiefly occupied in roving about. Among other places I used often to turn up among the Wharves and Shipping. There I espied my Old Ship the 'Allegany' which had brought me from Liverpool to Philadelphia, and saw Captain Michels. When he saw me he said "Allo, George. What brings you here? I thought I left you at Philadelphia!" I said "Yes, that is so; but I could not stop there, on account of the Banks failing. I got discharged, and as I saw no prospect of getting employment, I came here. But it was coming out of the Frying Pan into the Fire, for all the Labour is taken up by the Slaves." "Well then" says he "Would you like to go back again?" "Yes", says I, "if I could only get the Chance". "Well", says he "can you play Cook?" "Well, I cannot say that but I will try!" "Well then", says he, "bring your Chest on board, for my Cook has not turned up".
So, immediately I run off and told John Herbert that I had got a Place to go back again in my Old Ship the 'Allegany' to Liverpool, and I have to take my Chest on board at once as the Ship was ready for Sailing. He shook hands with me very heartily and wished me a safe and pleasant Voyage. So I came down with haste to the Ship having my chest with me. As I was getting on board the Captain made his appearance, saying "The Cook has turned up! But, never mind, you can come all the same. You can assist the Cook." Upon this Announcement being made I was much relieved, for I had great Doubts about my giving satisfaction, not having the least Idea about Cooking. We hauled out into the stream; but there was a Headwind and it was doubtful how long we might remain there. So I asked the Captain, when the Boat went ashore, if I might run up to Meeting Street and see Mr Herbert, whom I had left suddenly, for fear of the Ship Sailing. He gave me leave, so I run up to give Mr Herbert thanks for the five weeks in which he had entertained me so generously. Mr & Mrs Herbert were both glad I had come back, for my departure had been so sudden. They said "After you was gone we thought what a pity it was we did not give you the ten shillings English Money which we have in the House and have no use for. But it would be very useful for you on your landing in Liverpool. Here it is, ready wrapped up if I found an Opportunity to send to you. But you can take it yourself". Then Mr Herbert went into his store and brought me a bottle of Brandy. "There", says he, "A swig at this of a Cold night, will do you no harm!" I was affected by the disinterested kindness of these Herberts, and said to myself "I hope some day to recompense you for your Kindness." But this did not take place till some years after this Event: for my immediate concern now was to keep my feet and struggle on and live! But I was in the hands of a Gracious God who ordered my Way as he thought best. In Process of time I was lifted up from my low Estate to Affluence and Plenty, which will be related hereafter. So far the digression.
When I arrived again on board Ship, the thought of God's Kindness in providing for me thus far encouraged me to wait on him for further help.
After waiting a few more Days we got a fair Wind. This carried us over the Bar and away into the Open Sea with a strong Westerly Wind. With our poor worn-out Sails we could only hoist the main Topsail and that close hauled. This carried us across the Atlantic till we got into the English Channel. We started from Charleston on Christmas Day and arrived in Liverpool after twenty five days. This we might call a Boisterous Passage; but, being a Fair wind all the way it was pleasant enough if it had not been for my thin clothing. For, having only one good suit, I reserved this for going ashore in. I had a good pair of Boots, but them I would not put on for the reason stated and I went barefoot. I had also a pair of light Nankeen trousers, a thin blue Jacket and Waistcoat to match. This was my Sea outfit. And then I had no Berth but laid myself down on a knee of the Ship with my clothes on and curled up like a dog. But this I did not mind as much as the horrid company and language I had to listen to. In this would be related, with great Gusto and Brag, the various scenes which they had been concerned in, the Rowing and Fighting and Murders they had been concerned in: some had been in Slavers. With their exploits all these were my Masters. I was only Jimmy Docky at the beck and Call of all. But this was not all. As I had no Watch they seemed to delight in calling me from my Wooden Roost with their knocking on the deck with Hand Spikes, saying : "Do you hear the News? " "About Ship! Come along there. Rouse up."
When I was on Deck the Ship was tumbling about, knock my bare shins against the Spars, with the Salt water getting in, keeping the Wound open. How pathetic the word of the Psalmist "Gather me not with Sinners, nor my Life with Bloody Men" which is indeed Hell upon Earth.
Well, the welcome News came at last. "Rock Ahoy!" Then we rounded the Lighthouse. Now was the time to throw off my Rags, wash, put on my good clothes, and look smart. I found that, although I had been much knocked about, I did not feel any worse, but better. I had gained a Stone in weight during the Voyage. My Shins, which had been so Knocked about and bruised, felt quite Comfortable and Cheerful after getting warm clothes on. But, what was best of all, my Friends gave me a Heart Welcome. I was reinstated into the Place I had lost by giving Notice when I wanted to go to Sea. I got also into my Old Lodgings, which had so many agreeable reminiscences. Also I had ten shillings in my pocket for my first week's lodging, which Mr Herbert gave me on leaving Charleston. So I had again a Fair Start.