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CAPTAIN BRAND, OF THE "CENTIPEDE."
A Pirate of Eminence in the West Indies: His Loves and Exploits,
Together with Some Account of the Singular Manner by Which He Departed This Life.
HARRY GRINGO, (H. A. WISE, U.S.N.),
Author of "Los Gringos," "Tales for the Marines," and "Scampavias."
"Our God and sailors we alike adore, In time of danger—not before; The danger passed, both are alike requited: God is forgotten, and the sailor slighted."
New York: Harper & Brothers, Publishers, Franklin Square. 1864.
Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, by Harper & Brothers, In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District of New York.
CONTENTS CHAPTER PAGE
Part I I. Spreading the Strands 5 II. Calm 7 III. High Noon 15 IV. Sunset 21 V. Darkness 24 VI. Danger 33 VII. The Meeting and Mourning 42 VIII. Captain Brand at Home 44 IX. Captain and Mate 53 X. An Old Spaniard with One Eye 61 XI. Conversation in Pockets and Sleeves 69 XII. Doctor and Priest 73 XIII. A Manly Fandango 79 XIV. A Pirates' Dinner 85 XV. Drowning a Mother to Murder a Daughter 92 XVI. Nuptials of the Girl with Dark Eyes 103 XVII. Doom of Dona Lucia 112 XVIII. End of the Banquet 119 XIX. Fandango on One Leg 122 XX. Business 133 XXI. Treasure 138 XXII. Pleasure 144 XXIII. Work 150 XXIV. Caught in a Net 154 XXV. The Mouse that Gnawed the Net 160 XXVI. The Hurricane 166 XXVII. The Virgin Mary 168 XXVIII. The Ark that Jack Built 173
Part II XXIX. Laying Up the Strands 179 XXX. Old Friends 186 XXXI. The Commander of the "Rosalie" 193 XXXII. A Splice Parted 198 XXXIII. The Blue Pennant in the Cabin 201 XXXIV. The Devil to Pay 203 XXXV. And the Pitch Hot 208 XXXVI. The Chase 214 XXXVII. The Wreck of the "Centipede" 220 XXXVIII. Vultures and Sharks 226 XXXIX. Escondido 231 XL. Paul Darcantel 236 XLI. Instinct and Wonder 243 XLII. Truth and Terror 247 XLIII. Peace and Love 252 XLIV. Snuff out of a Diamond Box 256 XLV. Lilies and Sea-weed 262 XLVI. Parting 266 XLVII. Devotion 270 XLVIII. All Alive Again 273 XLIX. The Rope Laid Up 278 L. On a Bed of Thorns 288
ILLUSTRATIONS PAGE Captain Brand Frontispiece "When the Wind Comes from Good San Antonio" 12 The Pirates Boarding the Brig 26 The Night Chase 38 The Pirate Den 47 The "Panchita" 50 "He Touched the Bell Overhead as He Spoke" 65 A Pirates' Dinner 85 The Pirate's Prey 94 "A Supernatural Warning!" 116 Shriving a Sinner 124 "He Crept Forward on Hands and Knees" 141 "A Dull, Heavy, Booming Roar" 156 "See If You Can Not Slip That Pretty Silk Rope Over my Head" 162 Building the Boat 174 The United States Frigate "Monongahela" 183 "Queer Old Stick, That!" Said the Commodore 188 And the Pitch Hot 208 The Stern Chase 217 "His Right Arm Poised with Clenched Hand Aloft," Etc. 256 The Old Water-Logged Launch 280 "Now Captain Brand Knew What Was Coming" 294
SPREADING THE STRANDS.
"Shout three times three, like Ocean's surges, Join, brothers, join, the toast with me; Here's to the wind of life, which urges The ship with swelling waves o'er sea!"
"Masters, I can not spin a yarn Twice laid with words of silken stuff. A fact's a fact; and ye may larn The rights o' this, though wild and rough My words may loom. 'Tis your consarn, Not mine, to understand. Enough—"
It was in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and five, and in the River Garonne, where a large, wholesome merchant brig lay placidly on the broad and shining water. The fair city of Bordeaux, with its great mass of yellow-tinted buildings, towers, and churches, rose from the river's banks, and the din and bustle of the great mart came faintly to the ear. The sails of the brig were loosed, the crew were hauling home the sheets and hoisting the top-sails with the clear, hearty songs of English sailors, while the anchor was under foot and the cable rubbing with a taut strain against the vessel's bluff bows. At the gangway stood a large, handsome seaman, bronzed by the sun and winds of about half a century, dressed in a square-cut blue jacket and loose trowsers, talking to the pilot—a brown little Frenchman, in coarse serge raiment and large, clumsy sabots. The conversation between them was carried on partly by signs, for, in answer to the pilot, the other threw his stalwart arm aloft toward the folds of the spreading canvas, and nodded his head.
"Fort bien! vite donc! mon Capitaine," said the pilot; "the tide is on the ebb; let us go. Up anchor!"
"Ay, pilot!" replied the captain, pulling out his watch; "in ten minutes. The ladies, you know, must have time to say 'good-by.' Isn't it so, my pilot?"
The gallant little Frenchman smiled in acquiescence, and, taking off his glazed hat with the air of a courtier, said, "Pardieu! certainly; why not? Jean Marie would lose his pilotage rather than hurry a lady."
Going aft to the raised cabin on the quarter-deck, the captain softly opened the starboard door, and looking in, said, in a kindly tone,
"It is time to part, my friends; the pilot says we are losing the strength of the tide, so we must kiss and be off."
Two lovely women were sitting, hand clasped in hand, on the sofa of the transom. You saw they were sisters of nearly the same age, and a little boy and girl tumbling about their knees showed they were mothers—young mothers too, for the soft, full, rounded forms of womanhood, with the flush of health and matronly pride tinged their cheeks, while masses of dark hair banded over their smooth brows and tearful eyes told the story at a glance. They rose together as the captain spoke.
"Adieu, chere Rosalie! we shall soon meet again, let us hope, never more to part."
"Adieu, Nathalie! adieu, dearest sister! adieu! adieu!"
The loving arms were twined around each other in the last embrace; the tears fell like gentle rain, but with smiles of hope and trustfulness they parted.
"Ay," said the sturdy skipper, as he stood with eyes brimful of moisture regarding the sisters, "ay, trust me for bringing you together again. Well do I remember when you were little wee things, when I brought you to France after the earthquake in Jamaica; just like these little rogues here"—and he laid his brawny hands on the heads of the children, who clung to each other within the folds of their mothers' dresses; "but never fear, my darlings," he went on, "you will meet happily again. Ay, that you shall, if old Jacob Blunt be above land or water."
A boat which was lying alongside the brig shoved off; the little boy, who had been left on board, was held high above the rail in the arms of a sturdy negro, while the mother stood beside him, waving her handkerchief to the boat as it pulled rapidly away toward the shore.
"Man the windlass, lads!" cried the captain. "Mister Binks, brace round the head-yards, and up with the jib as soon as the anchor's a-weigh."
The windlass clinked as the iron palls caught the strain of the cable, the anchor was wrenched from its oozy bed, the vessel's head fell off, and, gathering way, she moved quietly down the River Garonne.
"It ceased: yet still the sails made on A pleasant noise till noon— A noise like that of a hidden brook In the leafy month of June. Till noon we quietly sailed on, Yet never a breeze did breathe; Slowly and smoothly went the ship, Moved onward from beneath."
The great lumbering brig, with yards square, main-sail hauled up, and the jib and trysail in the brails, lay listlessly rolling on the easy swell of the water, giving a gentle send forward every minute or so, when the sluggish sails would come with a thundering slap against the masts, and the loose cordage would rattle like a drum-major's ratan on a spree. The sea was one glassy mirror of undulations, shimmering out into full blaze as the rising sun just threw its rays along the crest of the ocean swell; and then, dipping down into the rolling mass, the hue would change to a dark green, and, coming up again under the brig's black counter, would swish out into a little shower of bubbles, and sparkle again joyously.
Away off in the distance lay the island of Jamaica—the early haze about the mountain tops rising like a white lace veil from the deep valleys below, with here and there a white dot of a cluster of buildings gleaming out from the sombre land like the flicker of a heliotrope, and at intervals the base of the coast bursting forth in a long, heavy fringe of foam, as the lazy breakers chafed idly about the rocks of some projecting headland. Nearer, too, were the dark succession of waving blue lines in parallel bars and patches of the young land wind, tipping the backs of the rollers in a fluttering ripple of cats'-paws, and then wandering sportively away out to sea.
On board the brig, forward, were three or four barefooted sailors, in loose frocks and trowsers, moving lazily about the decks, drawing buckets of water over the side and dashing it against the bulwarks, while others were scrubbing and clearing up the vessel for the day. The caboose, too, began to show signs of life, and a thin column of smoke rose gracefully up in the calm morning air until it came within the eddying influence of the sails and top-hamper, when a bit of roll would puff it away in blue curls beyond.
Abaft stood a low, squat-built sailor at the wheel, his striped Guernsey cap hanging on one of the spokes, and his body leaning, half asleep, over the barrel, which gave him a sharp twitch every now and then when the sea caught the rudder on the wrong side. Near at hand, with an arm around an after top-mast backstay, and head resting over the rail, was the mate, Mr. Binks, with a spy-glass to his eye, through which he was peering at the distant hills of Jamaica. Presently, as he was about to withdraw the brass tube, and as the old brig yawed with her head inshore, something appeared to arrest his attention; for, changing his position, and climbing up to the break of the deck cabin, he steadied himself by the shrouds, and rubbing his eye with the sleeve of his shirt, he gave a long look through the glass, muttering to himself the while. At last, having apparently made up his mind, he sang out to the man at the wheel in this strain:
"Ben, my lad, look alive; catch a turn with them halliards over the lee wheel; and just take this 'ere glass and trip up to the fore-yard, and see what ye make of that fellow, here away under the eastermost headland."
Ben, without more ado, secured the spokes of the wheel, clapped his cap on his head, hitched up his trowsers, and, taking the glass from the mate, rolled away up the fore-rigging. Meanwhile Mr. Binks walked forward, stopping a moment at the caboose to take a tin pot of coffee from the cook, and then, going on to the topsail-sheet bitts, he carefully seated himself, and leisurely began to stir up the sugar in his beverage with an iron spoon, making a little cymbal music with it on the outside while he gulped it down. He had not been many minutes occupied in this way when Ben hailed the deck from the fore-yard.
"On deck there!"
"Hallo!" ejaculated Mr. Binks.
"I see that craft," cried Ben; "she's a fore and after, sails down, and sweeping along the land. She hasn't got a breath of wind, sir."
"Very well," said Mr. Binks, speaking into the tin pot with a sound like a sheet-iron organ; "come down."
As Ben wriggled himself off the fore-yard and caught hold of the futtock shrouds to swing into the standing rigging, he suddenly paused, and putting the glass again to his eye, he sang out:
"I say, sir! here is a big chap away off on the other quarter, under top-sails. There! Perhaps ye can see him from the deck, about a handspike clear of the sun"—pointing with the spy-glass as he spoke in the proper direction.
"All right!" said the mate, as he began again the cymbal pot and spoon music; "becalmed, ain't he?"
"Yes, sir; not enough air to raise a hair on my old grandmother's wig!" muttered Ben, as he slowly trotted down the rigging.
The sun came up glowing like a ball of fire. The land wind died away long before it fluttered far off from the island, and, saving the uneasy clatter at times of the loose sails and running gear, all remained as before. It was getting on toward eight o'clock, and while the cook was dishing the breakfast mess for the crew beneath an awning forward of the quarter-deck, the captain came up from his cabin below. The stalwart old seaman stepped to the bulwarks, and, shading his eyes with his hand from the glare, he took a broad glance over the water to seaward, nodded to the mate, and said, in a cheerful voice,
"Dull times, matey! No signs of a breeze yet, eh?"
"No, captain," said Mr. Binks; "dead as ditch water; not been enough air to lift a feather since you went below at four o'clock. But we have sagged inshore by the current a few leagues during the night, and here's old Jamaica plain in sight broad off the bow."
"Well, it's not so bad after all, a forty-four days' passage—so I'll tell my Lady Bird passenger."
Going to the latticed door of the deck cabin, the jolly skipper threw it wide open, clapped his hands together thrice, and then, placing them to his mouth like a speaking-trumpet, he bellowed out, in a deep, low roar,
"Heave out there, all hands! Heave out, Lady Bird and baby! Land ho!"
There came a joyous note from a soft womanly voice within a screen drawn across the after cabin, mingled with a little cooing grunt from a child, and presently an inner door swung back, and the sweetest little tot of a boy came tumbling out into the open space, and sprang at once into the captain's arms. The little fellow buried his brown curly head into the old skipper's whiskers, and then, kicking up his fat naked legs, he laughed and chattered like a magpie.
"Aha! you young scamp, this small nose smells the oranges and cinnamon, eh? And dear lazy mamma shuts her pretty eyes, and won't look for papa, and so near home, too!"
Here Madame Rosalie's low sweet voice trilled out merrily in a slightly foreign accent, while the contralto tones vibrated on the ear like the note of a harp.
"Ah! bon capitaine, how could you deceive me? Still, I forgive you for telling me last night that we were so far from Kingston. When you know, too," she went on in her Creole accent, "how I love and want to see my dear husband these last four years, since you carried him away in your good big ship. But never mind, my good friend, I shall pay you off one of these days; and now send, please, for Banou to dress his little boy."
Scarcely had the worthy skipper reached a bell-rope near at hand, and given it one jerk, than the cabin door opened, and in stepped a brawny black, whose bare woolly head and white teeth and eyes glittered with delight. There was that about his face which indicated intelligence, courage, devotion, and humanity—those indescribable marks of expression which Nature sometimes stamps in unmistakable lines on the skin, whether it be white or black. He was below the middle height, but the large head was set with a great swelling throat on the shoulders of a Titan. His loose white and red striped shirt was thrown well back over his black and broad chest; and putting out a pair of muscular arms that seemed as massive and heavy as lignum vitae, the boy jumped from the captain to meet them; and then sticking his little soft legs down the slack of Banou's shirt, he ran his rosy fingers in his wool, and shouted with glee.
"Oho!" said the black, as he passed his huge arms around the little fellow, and smoothed down his scanty night-dress as if it were the plumage of a bird, "oho! little Master Henri loves his Banou, eh? Good, he take bath."
Bearing his charge out upon the quarter-deck beneath the awning, he pulled a large tub from under a boat turned upside down over the deck cabin; and then, while the young monkey had scrambled round to his back, and was beating a tattoo with his tiny fists on his shoulders, Banou caught up a bucket and proceeded to draw water from over the side, which he dashed into the tub. When he had nearly filled the tub he felt around with his black paws as delicately as if he was about to seize a musquito, and, clutching the kicking legs with one hand, he spun the little fellow a somersault over his head, and skinning off at the same time his diminutive frock, plunged him into the sparkling brine, singing the while in a laughing chant:
"Dis is the way strong Banou catch him, First he strip and den he 'plash him; Henri he jump and 'cream for his moder, But Banou lub him more dan his broder!"
Here the brawny nurse would souse him head over heels in the sparkling water, lift him up at every dip, rub his black nose all over him, making mock bites at the little legs and stomach; and, finally, holding him aloft, dripping, laughing, and struggling, go on with his refrain:
"What will papa say when he sees him, Picaninny boy dat is sure to please him? Big Banou he rub and dress him, But little Henri he kick and pinch him!"
All this time the men seated forward on the deck, pegging away deep into their mess-kids, would pause occasionally, shake their great tarry fingers at the imp, and chuckle pleasantly with their mouths full of lobscouse, as if the urchin belonged to them as individual property.
"What a tidy little chap he'll make some of these days," said Ben, "a-furlin' the light sails in a squall! My eye! wouldn't I like to live and see him!"
"No, no, messmates," replied that worthy, as he crunched a biscuit and took a sip of coffee out of the pot, "that 'ere child will, some of these times, when he's growed a bit, be a-wearing gold swabs on his shoulders, and a-givin' his orders like a hadmiral of a fleet!"
"Quite right, my hearty! It'll never do for sich a knowin' little chub to spend his days along shore a-bilin' sugar-cane on a plantation, and a-footin' up accounts; for, ye mind, he was like the chip as was
"'Born at sea, and his cradle a frigate, The boatswain he nursed him true blue; He'll soon learn to fight, drink, and jig it, And quiz every soul of the crew!'"
While these old salts were thus carving out a destiny for the youngster, the black gave him a final souse in the tub, and then holding him up to drain, as it were, for the last time, exclaimed, while his face lighted up with pleasure,
"Oho, my little massa! what will papa say to-morrow when he sees his brave Henri?"
"Ah! how happy he will be, Banou!" said the lovely mother, who had just come on deck, as she kissed the mouth of the young scamp, while the black wrapped and dried his little naked body in a large towel.
"Ah! yes, my mistress, we all will be happy once more to get home to master on the plantation."
"Tell me! tell me, good capitaine," said she, turning in a pretty coquettish way to the skipper, "when shall we get in port?"
It was a sight to see her, in the loose white morning-gown folded in plaits about the swelling bosom, her slender waist clasped by a flowing blue sash, the dark brown satin bands of her hair confined by a large gold filigree pin, and half concealed by a jaunty little French cap, with the ribbons floating about her pear-shaped ears; and while her soft, dark hazel eyes were bent eagerly toward the solid old skipper, her round, rosy, dimpled fingers clasped a miniature locket fastened by a massive linked gold chain around her neck. Ah! she was a sight to see and love!
"Tell me, mon cher Capitaine Blunt, how many hours or minutes will it be before I shall behold my husband?"
The good-natured skipper laughed pleasantly at the eagerness of his beautiful passenger, and opening his hands wide, he gave vent to a long, low whistle, and replied,
"When the wind comes from good San Antonio, my Lady Bird—when the sea-breeze makes—then the old brig will reel off the knots! But see! just now not a breath to keep a tropic bird's wings out. There, look at that fellow!"
High up in the heavens, two or three men-of-war birds, with wide-spread pointed wings, and their swallow tails cut as sharp as knife-blades, were heading seaward, and every little while falling in a rapid sidelong plunge, as if in a vacuum, and then again giving an almost imperceptible dash with their pinions as they recovered the lost space and continued on in their silent flight.
"That's a sure sign, Madame Rosalie," continued the skipper, "that the trade wind has blown itself out, and the chances are that this hot sun will drink up the flying clouds, and leave us in a dead calm till the moon quarters to-night. What say you, Mr. Binks? am I right?"
"Never know'd you to be wrong, sir," said the mate, with an honest intonation of voice, as he tried to stare the sun out of countenance in following the captain's glance.
"Helas!" said the young mother, with a little sigh of sadness, as she stood peering over the lee rail to the green hills and slopes of the island, standing boldly out now with the lofty blue mountains cutting the sky ten thousand feet in mid-heaven; "so near, too; and he is thinking and waiting for us!"
"Come," exclaimed the skipper, heartily, "the youngster wants his breakfast!"
"No life is in the air, but in the waters Are creatures huge, and terrible, and strong; The swordfish and the shark pursue their slaughters; War universal reigns these depths along. The lovely purple of the noon's bestowing Has vanished from the waters, where it flung A royal color, such as gems are throwing Tyrian or regal garniture among."
High noon! Still the stanch old brig bowed and dipped her bluff bows into the long, easy swell of the tropics; the round, flat counter sent the briny bubbles sparkling away in the glare of the noontide sun; the sails flapped and chafed against the spars and rigging, while the crew sheltered themselves beneath the awnings, and dozed on peacefully.
Off to seaward a few dead trade-clouds showed their white bulging cheeks along the horizon, and occasionally a fluttering blue patch of a breeze would skim furtively over the backs of the rollers; but long before they reached the brig they had expended their force, and expired in the boundless calm.
Not so, however, with the large sail that had been seen from the brig in the early morning. For, with a lofty spread of kites and a studding-sail or two, she at times caught a flirting puff of air, and when the sun had passed the zenith she had approached within half a mile or less of the brig. There was no mistaking the stranger's character. Her taunt, trim masts, square yards, and clear, delicate black tracery of rigging, shadowed by a wide spread of snow-white canvas over the low, dark hull—which at every roll in the gentle undulations exposed a row of ports with a glance of white inner bulwarks—while the brass stars of her battery reflected sparks of fire from the blazing rays of the sun, showed she was a man-of-war.
"She's one of our cruisers, I think, sir," said the mate, as he handed the spy-glass to the captain; "but Ben here believes contrariwise, and says she is a French corvette."
"Have to try again, Mr. Binks; for, to my mind, she's an out-and-out Yankee sloop-of-war. Ay! there goes his colors up to the gaff! so up with our ensign, or else he'll be burning some powder for us."
Even while they were speaking a flag went rapidly up in a roll to the corvette's peak, when, shaking itself clear, it lay white and red, with a galaxy of white stars in a blue union, on the lee side of the spanker; while at the same instant a long, thin, coach-whip of a pennant unspun itself from the main truck, and hung motionless in the calm down the mast. Her decks were full of men, standing in groups under the shade of the sails to leeward; and on the poop were three or four officers in uniform and straw hats. One of these last stood for some time gazing at the brig—one hand resting on the ratlines of the mizzen shrouds, and the other slowly swinging a trumpet backward and forward. Presently an officer with a pair of gleaming epaulets on his shoulders mounted the poop ladder, touched his hat, and waved his hand toward the brig. A moment after—
"Brig ahoy!" came in a sharp, clear, manly tone through the trumpet.
"What brig is that?"
"The 'Martha Blunt!' named after my dear old wife, God bless her! and myself, Jacob Blunt, God bless me!" added the jolly skipper, in a sotto voce chuckle to the fair passenger who stood beside him.
"Where are you from, and where bound?" came again through the trumpet.
"Bordeaux, and bound to Kingston. We have a free passport from Sir Robert Calder and Admiral Villeneuve."
There was a wave of the trumpet as the speaker finished hailing, and then touching his hat to the officer with the gold swabs, and pausing only a moment, he moved to the other side of the corvette's poop.
"It would be no more nor polite in him to tell us what his name is, arter all the questions he's axed."
"Don't ye know, Mr. Binks," broke in the captain, "that the dignity of a man-of-war is sich that it wouldn't be discreet to tell no more than that she has a cargo of cannon balls, and going on a cruise any wheres? which ye may believe is as much valuable information as we might get out of our own calabashes without asking a question."
"You are allers right, Captain Blunt, but I did not tax my mind to think when I spoke them remarks," said Binks, deferentially.
The cruiser, however, seemed more communicative than the mate gave her credit for, and a moment after the officer with the trumpet sang out,
"This is the United States ship 'Scourge,' from Port Royal, bound on a cruise! Please report us."
And again, after a few words apparently with the officer with the epaulets, the trumpet was raised to his lips, and he asked, "Have you seen any vessels lately?"
The skipper was on the point of answering the hail, when his mate said, "Beg pardon, Captain Blunt, but Ben and me made out a fore-and-aft schooner airly this morning, with sweeps out, pulling in under the outermost headland there," pointing with his horny finger as he spoke.
"Nothing, sir, but a small schooner at daylight sweeping to windward."
"What?" came back in a clear, quick note from the corvette.
"Small fore-and-after, sir, with sails down and sweeps out, close under the land."
In a moment two or three officers on the cruiser's deck put their heads together, several glasses were directed toward the now dim mirage-like shadow of the island, and the next instant the sharp ring of a boatswain's whistle was heard, followed by a gruff call of, "Away there! Ariels, away!"
Immediately a cluster of sailors, in white frocks and trowsers and straw hats, sprang over the ship's quarter to the davits; and then with a chirruping, surging pipe, a boat fell rapidly to the water. The falls were cast off, the cutter hauled up to the gangway, and soon an officer stepped over the side and tripped down to the boat. The white blades of the oars stood up on end in a double line, the boat pushed off, the oars fell with a single splash, and she steered for the brig. Descending down into the gentle valley of the long swell, she would disappear for an instant, till nothing but the white hats and feather blades of the oars were visible; and again rising on the crest, the water flashed off in foam from her bows as she came dancing on.
In a few minutes the coxswain cried, "Way enough," and throwing up his hand with the word "Toss," the cutter shot swiftly alongside; the boat-hooks of the bowmen brought her up with a sudden jar, and the next moment an officer with an epaulet on his right shoulder and a sword by his side stepped over the gangway. The skipper was there to receive him, to whom he touched his cap with his fore finger; but as his eye glanced aft he saw a lady, and he gracefully removed his cap and bowed like a gentleman to her. He was a man of about eight-and-twenty, with a fine, manly, sailor-like figure and air, and with a pair of bright, determined gray eyes in his head that a rascal would not care to look into twice.
"I am the first lieutenant of the 'Scourge,' sir," he said, turning to the skipper, "and if you will step this way, I'll have a few words with you."
This was said in a careless tone of command, but withal with frankness and civility. The captain led him aft toward the taffrail, but in crossing the deck the little tot of a boy followed closely in his wake, and getting hold of the officer's sword, which trailed along by its belt-straps on the deck, he got astride of it, and seized on to the coat-skirts of the wearer. The little tug he gave caused the officer to turn round, and with a cheerful smile and manner he snatched the urchin up in his arms, kissed him on both cheeks, and as he put him down again and detached his sword for him to play with, he exclaimed,
"What a glorious little reefer you'll make one of these days! Won't you?"
"Oui! oui! mon papa!" said the little scamp, as he looked knowingly up in the officer's face.
"Excuse my little boy, sir," said his mother, who was in chase of him; and then turning to the child with a blush spreading over her lovely face, "It is not your papa, Henri! papa is in Kingston."
"Ah! madame, I love children. I had once a dear little fellow like this, but both he and his sweet mother are in heaven now. God bless them!"
A flush of sadness tinged his cheeks, and he passed his hand rapidly across his eyes, as if the dream was too sad to dwell upon; but changing his tone, and while with one hand he patted the little fellow's head, he went on: "Madame lives in Jamaica?"
"Oh yes; I was born there, but my parents were destroyed by an earthquake when I was quite a little child, and this good captain here carried my sister and myself to France soon after, where Monsieur—" here she hesitated and blushed with pleasure—"where I married my husband, who is a planter on the island. Perhaps you may know Monsieur Jules Piron?"
"Piron!" said the navy man, with warmth. "Ay, madame, for as fine a fellow as ever planted sugar! Know him? Why, madame, it is only a week ago that a lot of us dined with him at his estate of Escondido; you know it, madame? in the grand piazza which looks down the gorge. But he behaved very shabbily," said the officer, as his face lighted up gayly, "for he kept a spy-glass to his eye oftener than the wine-glass to his lips, in looking out seaward, and in talking of his wife and the little boy he had never seen."
"Oh, monsieur! you make me so happy," said the lovely woman, as with sparkling eyes and heaving bosom she cried, "Banou! Banou! this gentleman has just seen your good master."
The black, who had been standing near and guarding every movement of his little charge, who was trailing the sword about the deck, immediately approached the officer, and, falling on his knees, seized his hand and drew it toward his face.
"Ah! madame, I see that kindness meets with a return as well from a dark as a fair skin," said the officer, in a low tone, as he gently withdrew his hand from Banou's grasp.
"But," he continued, turning toward the skipper, as the clear sound of the cruiser's bell struck his ear, "I must not forget what I came for."
"You say, captain, that you saw a schooner at daylight, eh? This way, if you please"—as he raised his cap to Madame Piron and walked over to the other side of the deck. "What was she like?"
"She was reported to me by the mate," replied Jacob Blunt.
"Please send for him."
"Binks, sir," said that individual, touching his hat and making an awkward scrape at a bow.
"Well, Mr. Binks, did you clearly make out the vessel you saw this morning under the land?"
"Can't say exactly, sir, as I did; but Ben Brown there was on the fore-yard, and he got a good squint at her."
"Ah! can I see the man?"
The mate straightway went forward, and, after a few pokes about the lee waist, Ben was roused out from under the jolly-boat and came rolling aft.
"You saw the schooner, eh?" said the lieutenant, as if he was in the habit of asking sharp questions and getting quick answers.
"Yes, sir," said the squat seaman, as he hitched up his knife-belt, and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and took off his cap.
"Here away, sir," with a wave of his paw, "just clear of that bluff foreland where the gap opens with the Blue Mountain."
"How was she rigged?"
"Bare sticks, sir, not much of a bowsprit, and no sail spread. I see her first by the flash of her sweeps in the rising sun, as she was heading about sou'-sou'-east into the land."
"Two masts, you say?"
"Ay, sir; but I thought as 'ow there was a jigger-like yard a-sticking out over her starn, though I wasn't sartin."
"So!" said the lieutenant, in a musing tone, and with rather a grave face and compressed lip; "that will do; thank you, my man." Then placing his hand on the skipper's shoulder, he drew him to one side, out of ear-shot, and said,
"Captain Blunt, are you much acquainted in these latitudes?"
"Oh yes, sir, me and my old brig are regular traders here, from Bordeaux to Jamaica, and so home to England."
"No treasure, I presume?" went on the officer, with a smile.
"Why, lieutenant, none to speak of, p'raps; just a handful of dollars and a guinea or two in the bag for a few sacks of sugar or coffee, or a pipe of rum, or sich like, on my own account."
"Well, my friend, there is probably nothing to fear, but if the breeze springs up, keep as close to the corvette as you can, and I shall ask the captain to keep a look-out for you during the night."
"By the way"—the officer continued in a low tone as he moved toward the gangway—"in case any thing should happen, you had better hoist a lantern at your peak or in the main-rigging—we have sharp eyes for ugly customers, and one or two of them have been particularly troublesome of late hereabouts."
Turning for a moment to bid adieu to the fair lady passenger on the quarter-deck, and recovering his sword after a playful struggle with the youngster, he buckled it around his waist, and, stepping lightly over the side and into the boat, the oars fell with a single splash, and the cutter shot rapidly away toward the corvette.
"Light is amid the gloomy canvas spreading, The moon is whitening the dusky sails, From the thick bank of clouds she masters, shedding The softest influence that o'er night prevails. Pale is she, like a young queen pale with splendor, Haunted with passionate thoughts too fond, too deep; The very glory that she wears is tender, The very eyes that watch her beauty fain would weep."
Not a breath from the lungs of Aeolus. The sun went down like a globe of fire; but just as it touched the horizon it flattened out into an oval disk, and, sinking behind a dead, slate-colored cloud, shot up half a dozen broad rose and purple bands, expanding as they mounted heavenward, and then fading away in pearly-tinted hues in the softening twilight until it mingled in the light of the half moon nearly at the zenith. There lay the island, too, now all clear again, with the blue tops of the mountains marked in pure distinct outline, and falling away from peak to peak on either hand, till the sea flashed up in sluggish creamy foam at the base. The man-of-war birds came floating in from seaward, high up, like black musquitoes, with their pointed wings wide spread and heading toward the land, but now with never a quiver to their silent pinions. A school of porpoises, too, broke water from the opposite direction, and, crossing and recrossing each other's track, came leaping and puffing over the gentle swells until they struck the brig's wake, when they wheeled around her bows, dashed off on a swift visit to the corvette, and then, closing up in watery phalanx, went gamboling, leaping, and breaking water again to windward. Presently, along the eastern horizon, the banks of clouds, which had been lying dead and motionless all the sultry day, seemed to be imbued with life, and, separating in their fleecy masses, mounted up above the sea, and soon spread out, like a lady's fan, in all directions.
"Ho! ho!" shouted Captain Blunt, clapping his hands, "what said I, Madame Rosalie, when we saw the sun setting up his lee backstays a while ago? A breeze, eh? Come, Mr. Binks, be wide awake! We shall be bowling off the knots before the watch is out."
The mate caught the enthusiasm of the skipper, and, jumping up on the break of the deck cabin, he sang out,
"D'ye hear there, lads? give us a good pull of the top-sail halliards, and round in them starboard braces a bit! That's your sort! Well, the head-yards! That'll do with the main! Up with the flying jib, and trim aft them starboard jib and staysail sheets! There! Belay all."
Meanwhile the corvette, with her lofty dimity kissing the sky, caught the first light airs before the slightest ripple darkened the surface of the water; and with her helm a-starboard, and her after-yards braced sharp up, she silently swung round on her heel, while the spanker came flat aft, like a sheet of white paper, and with the head-sails trimmed, she slowly moved athwart the stern of the brig. The sharp whistles of the boatswain and his mates, piping like goldfinches, were the only sounds that were heard; and as the cruiser moved on in her course, the declining moon cast a mellow light over the folds of her canvas, and, like a girl in bridal attire, she threw a graceful shadow over the smooth and swelling waters away off to windward.
The sails of the brig, which had begun to swell out in easy drooping lines, fell back again flat to the masts as the ship crossed her wake. But as the corvette passed, the officer of the watch on the poop raised his cap to the lovely woman who was standing out in graceful relief on the upper cabin deck, with her little boy held up beside her in the sturdy arms of the black, and placing the trumpet to his lips, said, in a distinct voice, as if addressing the skipper,
"We shall go about at midnight. Remember the directions I gave you this morning. Bon voyage, madame!" He shook his trumpet playfully at the boy, who put out his chubby arms with delight to the speaker, and then hammered away with great glee on the crown of his bearer's head.
"Thank you, sir," said Captain Blunt, who was leaning over the rail; and then turning to his mate, he added,
"Them Yankees, Mr. Binks, always treats a merchantman like gentlemen on the high seas, and I never knew one on 'em to turn their backs on friends or foes. What a pity they ever cut adrift from the Old Country! Howsoever, matey, it can't be helped, and you had better up with the port studding-sails, hang out all the rags, and make the old drogher walk."
Now came the rippling breeze all at once over the sea, fluttering furtively for a minute or two, so as to make the top-sails of the brig swell out and then fall back in a tremulous shiver; but again bulging forward in a full-breasted curve, the vessel felt the tug, and began to dash the spray from her bluff bows till it fell away beyond the lee cathead in flying masses of foam. The studding-sail booms rolled out, the sailors busied themselves aloft in making the additional sail, and by-and-by the old brig floundered along, the bubbles gurgling out ahead in the ruffled water, tipping over astern as the crests broke on her quarter; at times plunging her bows into the rolling swell, but coming up sturdily again, and so on as before.
Meanwhile the corvette had edged away in a parallel course with the brig, running past her at first as if she were at anchor, when she let her topgallant-sails slide down to the caps, and, with the weather clew of her main-sail triced up, she held way with the brig a mile or more to windward.
The moon was sinking well down in the west, and the clear, well-defined crescent was occasionally obscured by the light fleecy clouds moving under the influence of the trade wind, when, toward eight bells, the moon gave one pure white glimmer, threw a rippling flood of light over the waves, and sunk below the horizon. Still the stars twinkled and the planets flamed out like young moons—masked at intervals by the darkening clouds as they swept overhead in heavy masses—and tinging the sea with shade, which would again break out in phosphorescent flashes as the waves caught the reflection.
"Now, Madame Rosalie," said the kind old skipper, "it is nearly midnight; take your last snooze in the old barky, and wake up bright and happy for Port Royal and—you know who, in the morning."
The charming woman had been watching, with soul-rapt gaze, the lofty hills of Jamaica from the last blaze of the setting sun, and until the moon too had vanished and left only a dim blue haze over the island. She started as the captain spoke, gave a deep sigh, kissed her hand to the good old skipper, said "Bon soir, mon ami," and with a smile she entered her cabin.
The black was seated within the partition of the apartment, near a small swinging cot, urging it gently to and fro, and watching over his little charge.
"Good-night, Banou," she said, in patois French; "you may go to bed, and I will take care of my little boy."
The black grinned so as to show his double range of white teeth beneath the rays of the cabin lamp, and without a word he moved silently away. The lady stood for a few moments gazing lovingly at the sleeping child, and then drawing the miniature from her bosom, she detached it with the chain from her neck, and after pressing it to her lips, she leaned softly over the cot and fastened it around the little sleeper. As light and zephyr-like as was the effort, it caused the little fellow to stir, and reaching out his tiny arms, while a baby smile played around the dimples of his cheeks, he clasped his mother's neck.
Ah! fond and devoted mother! That was the last sweet infantile caress your child was ever destined to give you! Treasure it up in joy and sorrow, in sunshine and gloom, for long, long years will pass before you press him to your heart again!
"The busy deck is hushed, no sounds are waking But the watch pacing silently and slow; The waves against the sides incessant breaking, And rope and canvas swaying to and fro. The topmost sail, it seems like some dim pinnacle Cresting a shadowy tower amid the air; While red and fitful gleams come from the binnacle, The only light on board to guide us—where?"
On went the "Martha Blunt" with no fears of danger near. The bell struck eight, the watch had been called, and the captain, taking a satisfactory look all around the horizon, glanced at the compass, and, with a slight yawn, said,
"Well, Mr. Binks, I believe I'll turn in for a few hours; keep the brig on her course, and at daylight call me. It will be time enough then to bend the cables, for I don't think we shall want the anchors much afore noon to-morrow. Where's the corvette?"
"There she is, sir, away off on the port beam. She made more sail a few minutes ago, and now she appears to be edging off the wind, and steering across our forefoot. I s'pose she's enjoying of herself, sir, and exercisin' the crowds of chaps they has on board them craft."
"Well, good-night, matey"—pausing a moment, however, as the honest old skipper stepped down the companion-way, and half communing with himself, and then, with his head just above the slide, he added, "I say, Mr. Binks, there's no need, p'r'aps, but you may as well have a lantern alight and bent on to the ensign halliards there under the taffrail, in case you want to signalize the corvette. Ah, Banou! that you, old nigger? Good-night!"
So Captain Blunt went slowly down below, and at the same time the black went aft, coiled himself down on the deck, and made a pillow of the brig's ensign.
Mr. Binks wriggled himself upon the weather rail, where, with a short pipe in his mouth, he kicked his heels against the bulwarks, and while the old brig plunged doggedly on, he indulged himself with a song, the air, however, being more like the growl of a bull-dog than a specimen of music:
"If lubberly landsmen, to gratitude strangers, Still curse their unfortunate stars; Why, what would they say did they try but the dangers Encounter'd by true-hearted tars? If life's vessel they put 'fore the wind, or they tack her, Or whether bound here or there, Give 'em sea-room, good-fellowship, grog, and tobaker, Well, then, damme if Jack cares where!"
"What d'ye think of that, Ben?" said Mr. Binks, as he finished his ditty, and sucked away on his pipe.
"Why, Mr. Mate," replied Ben, as he gave the wheel a spoke or two to windward and glanced at the binnacle, "the words is first-rate, but it seems to me your singing gear is a bit out o' condition, and I thought you wos a prayin'; but the fact is," concluded Ben, apologetically, "that whenever I hears grog and tobaker jined together, I likes to see them in my fist."
"Oh! you would, eh? Well, shipmate, turn and turn about is fair play; so here, just take a pull at the pipe, and I'll step to the cuddy for the bottle, and we'll have a little sniffler all around!"
Saying this, Mr. Binks swung off the rail, handed Ben the pipe, and after an absence of a few moments, he returned with a square case-bottle and a pewter mug.
"Now, Ben," said he, "this 'ere is not a practice, as you know, I often is guilty of; but you bein' a keerful hand and a stiddy helmsman, and port here close aboard, I've no objections to take a toss with ye." Then pouring out a moderate quantity of the fluid, the mate handed it to Ben, who, taking the pipe out of his mouth, and with one hand on the king-spoke of the wheel and one eye at the compass-card, threw his head back and pitched the dram down his throat.
"My sarvice to ye, sir!" said Ben, as he smacked his lips and then shut them tight together, fearful lest a breath of the precious liquid might escape; "a little of that stuff goes a great ways."
Mr. Binks hereupon measured himself off an allowance, and touching Ben on the shoulder, raised the pewter to his lips. Before, however, draining the cup, he tuned his pipes once more, and croaked forth in this strain:
"While up the shrouds the sailor goes, Or ventures on the yard, The landsman, who no better knows, Believes his lot is hard. But Jack with smiles each danger meets; Casts anchor, heaves the log, Trims all the sails, belays the sheets, And drink his can of grog!"
"Here comes the corvette, sir!" broke in Ben, as he stood on tiptoe, holding on to the spokes of the wheel, and taking his eyes off the binnacle a moment to get a clear view over the rail. "Here she comes, with her starboard tacks aboard, athwart our bow, and moving like an albatross!"
The man-of-war had for an hour or more crept well to windward, and then, wearing round, she came down close upon the wind under royals, and her three jibs and spanker as flat as boards. As she whirled on across the brig's bow, a few cables' length ahead, the sharp ring of the whistles was again heard, and the moment after the head-sails fluttered and shook in the wind, the sheets and blocks rattled, and with a clear order of "Main-sail haul!" the after-yards swung round like magic, the sails filled, and without losing headway the head-yards were swung, and she gathered way on the other tack. On she came, with the spray flying up into the weather leech of her fore-sail, the dark mazes of her rigging marked out in clear lines against her white canvas, and the watch noiselessly coiling up the ropes on her decks. As she pushed her sharp snout through the water, and grazed along the brig's lee quarter, an officer on the poop gave a rapid and searching glance around, peered sharply along the brig's deck, waved his trumpet to the mate, and resumed his rapid tramp to windward. In ten minutes after she had passed the brig's wake nothing was seen of her save a dark, dim outline; a light halo reflected on the water from her white streak, and an occasional luminous flash of foam as it bounded away from her lean bows.
Half an hour went by. The mate was sitting on the weather rail droning out an old sea-song to himself, and the four or five men of the watch were dozing away along the bulwarks. Presently, however, Ben, the helmsman, happened to let his eyes wander away from the compass-card for a moment, as he steadied the wheel by his legs and bit a quid from his plug of niggerhead to last him to suck for the remainder of the watch, when, glancing beneath the bulging folds of the lee clew of the main-sail, he clapped both hands again on the steering spokes, and shouted,
"Mr. Mate, here's a sail close under our lee beam!"
"Where?" said Binks. But, before he had fairly time to run over to the other side of the vessel and take a look for himself, a quick rattle of oars was heard as a boat grated against the brig's side, and, before you could think, a swarm of fellows started up like so many shadows above the rail. In five seconds they had jumped on the deck, Ben fell like a bullock from a blow from the butt-end of a pistol, the helm was jammed hard down, the lee braces let fly, and, as the old brig gave a lurching yaw in bringing her nose to windward, the weather leeches shivered violently in the wind, and, taking flat aback, the studding-sail booms snapped short off at the irons, and, with the sails, fell slamming and thumping below.
Meanwhile the mate had barely time to spring to the companion-way and sing out, "We're boarded by pirates, Captain Blunt!" when he, too, received an ugly overhand lick from a cutlass on his skull, and went senseless and bleeding down the hatchway like a scuttle of coals.
At the first noise, however, the black Banou sprang to his feet, and, as he caught a glimpse of the fellows swarming over the side, he snatched hold of the ensign halliards where the signal lantern had been bent on, and in an instant it was dancing away up to the gaff, shrouded from view to leeward of the vessel by the spread of the spanker. In another moment the black leaped to the deck cabin and darted through the door. But in less time than it has taken to tell it, the "Martha Blunt" had changed hands.
There, on the quarter-deck, stood in groups some sixteen barefooted villains, in coarse striped gingham shirts, loose trowsers, and skull-caps, and all with glittering, naked knives or cutlasses, and pistols in their belts and hands. In the midst of this cluster of swarthy wretches, near the companion-way, stood a burly, square-built ruffian, with a pistol in his right hand, and his dexter paw pushing up a brown straw hat as he ran his fingers across his dripping forehead and a tangled mass of carroty, unshorn locks. There was a wisp of a red silk kerchief tied in a single knot around his bare bull neck; the shirt was thrown back, and exposed a tawny, hairy chest, as a ray of light flashed up from the binnacle. He looked—as indeed he was—the lowest type of a sailor scoundrel. His companions were of lighter build, and their dress, complexion, and manner—to say nothing of their black hair and rings in their ears—indicated a birth and breeding in other and hotter climes.
"Well, my lads," said the big fellow, who seemed to be in command, "the barkey is ours, and we've cheated that infarnal cruiser handsomely. Go forward, Pedro, and gag them lubbers, and then tell the boys to trim aft them jib sheets; and round in them after-braces, some of you, so we can keep way with the schooner and take things easy."
Here he laughed in a husky, spirituous, low chuckle, and then went on: "This will make up for lost time, amigos! Christo! there may be some ounces on board. But who's left in the boat, Gomez?" This was addressed to a bow-legged, beetle-browed individual, with a hare-lip, which kept his face in a perpetual and skeleton-like grin, who hissed out from between his decayed front tusks,
"El Doctor Senor, con tres de nosotros." "Bueno! all right; three of the chaps will do to look out for her; but tell the doctor to drop the boat astern, and veer him a rope from the gangway. There! that's well with the braces! Keep her off a point; so—that'll do."
As the orders were promptly obeyed, and the crew of the brig gagged, and the vessel surged slowly on her course, the same speaker turned to his men and said,
"Now, my hearties! let's have an overhaul of the skipper. Hand him up here, will ye? or, never mind," he added, "I'll just step down and have a growl with him myself."
As the mate pitched head foremost down the companion ladder, two of the pirates jumped after him, and, dealing him another cruel stab with a knife deep into the back, they passed on into the lower cabin. There was a brief struggle, the sound of voices mingled with curses and threats, and then all quiet again.
In pursuance of his expressed purpose, the stout ruffian slewed himself round, took a sweep about the horizon, then sticking his pistol in its belt, he slowly descended the ladder, gave the wounded and dying mate a kick, and with a hoarse laugh entered the cabin.
There, on a small sofa abaft, between the two stern air-ports, sat Captain Blunt. Blood was trickling down in heavy drops from a lacerated bruise on his forehead; but, notwithstanding the swelling and pain of the wound, his features were calm, stern, and honest. On either side of him sat as villainous a brace of mongrel Portuguese or Spaniards as ever infested the high seas; and his arms were pinioned by a stout cord to the bolt above the transom.
"My sarvice to you, sir!" said the leader of the gang, with a devilish smile of derision, as he stuck his arms akimbo and squirted some tobacco-juice from his filthy mouth across the cabin table at the pinioned prisoner.
"I s'pose you know by this time that you're a lawful prise, captured by an hindependent constable of the West Indies, notwithstandin' ye had sich safe escort and convoy all the arternoon?"
Here he chuckled, squirted more juice over the table, then dropped down on a sea-chest cleated to the deck, took off his hat, and scratched his yellowish red hair. The poor captain said not a word, but shook a great clot of blood from his brow.
"Well, now, my old hearty, the first thing for you to do is to poke out your manifest, and any other little matters of vallew ye may have stowed away; and be quick, mind ye, for you haven't much time to sail in this 'ere craft. Howsoever, I s'pose ye can swim?"
"You'll find the manifest and the ship's papers there, inside that instrument-box; and all the money in the vessel is in that locker; and I trust in Heaven it may burn your hands to cinders, you devils!"
"Ho! smash my brains! keep a stopper on your jaw, or I'll squeeze your dead carcass through that 'ere starn port."
The fellow rose as he spoke, and, stepping up to the narrow state-cabin near by, he jerked open the upper drawer of a small bureau affair, and pulling out a canvas bag, sealed at the mouth, tossed it on to the cabin table. The coin fell with the heavy dead sound peculiar to gold, and the ruffian, after taking it up again and weighing it tenderly, growled out, "This chink will do for a yapper, at any rate! So now let's have a peep at what the cargo consists on."
Then stepping a second time to the berth, he gave a kick to the instrument-box, the lid flew off, and diving in his fist he drew out a bundle of papers. Once more seating himself at the table beneath the swinging lamp, he clumsily undid the papers and spread them before him.
"What a blessed thing is edication," muttered he to himself, "and what a power o' knowledge reading 'riting does for a man!" Putting his fat stumpy finger on each line of the manuscript as he slowly began to spell out the contents, he began, "Man-i-fest of Brig 'Martha Blunt'—Ja-cob Blunt, master:" here he paused, and, squirting more tobacco-juice over at the skipper, as if to attract his attention, he suddenly ejaculated, "Hark ye! Master Blunt, what was the name of that man-o'-war vessel as was lyin' by you this morning?"
"The 'Scourge,'" replied the skipper, faintly, as he shook another great drop of blood from his brow.
"The what? The 'Scourge!' That Yankee snake! Smash my brains! D'ye know that that ship has been a hangin' about the north side of Cuba for ever so long, interruptin' our trade? And you an Englishman, to go and ax him to purtect ye! take that!"
Here he snatched a pistol from his sash, and, taking aim full at the skipper's breast, he pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the weapon snapped and did not explode. The ruffian held it a moment in his hand, and then letting it rest upon the table, he said, with a horrible imprecation,
"Ye see you wos not born to be shot; but we'll try what salt water will do for ye by-and-by."
Taking out his knife at the conclusion of this speech, he picked the flint of his pistol, opened the pan, shook the priming, and then shoved the weapon back in his belt. The mention of the "Scourge," however, had evidently caused him some trepidation, for when he resumed the perusal of the manifest it was in a hurried, agitated sort of way, and not at all at his ease.
Smoothing the papers again before him, he went on, making running commentaries as he read: "Eighty-six cases of silks—light, and easily stowed away; twenty-nine tons bar iron; sixty-four sugar-kettles! it will help to sink the brig; forty pipes of Bordeaux; two hundred baskets Champagne; three hundred and fifty boxes of claret—sour stuff, I warrant you; two casks Cognac brandy—but I say, you Blunt," said the fellow, looking up, "where's your own private bottle? It's thirsty work spellin' out all this 'ritin', and my mouth's as dry as a land-crab's claws. Howsoever," he continued, as he caught the glance of satisfaction which came over the swarthy faces of his companions beside the captain, "wait a bit, and we'll punch a hole in a fresh barrel presently."
Having run through the manifest, he opened another paper and exclaimed, "Hallo! what have we here? List of passengers—Madame Rosalie Piron and—ho! that's a French piece, I knows by the name. Where is she? Hasn't died on the v'yage, has she? D'ye hear there, ye infarnal Blunt?"
The captain's face was troubled, and his head dropped down on his breast without replying; but one of the scoundrels at his side struck him a brutal blow with the back of his knife-hilt on the mouth, and jerking up, he said, with an effort,
"Yes, we have a female passenger on board, with a helpless child; but I pray you, in God's name, to leave the innocent woman in peace. You've robbed and ruined me and my poor old wife—turn me adrift if you like, drown or hang me, but don't harm the poor lady."
The tears blinded him as he spoke, and mingled with the bloody stream which trickled down his cheeks. The ruffian's ugly face and bloodshot eyes lighted up with a devilish and sinister satisfaction as the skipper began his appeal, but before he had well finished speaking he broke in,
"Avast your jaw! will ye? You'll have enough to look out for your own gullet, my lad, without mindin' any body else's; so turn to and say your prayers afore eight bells is struck, because there's sharks off Jamaiky."
Then addressing his own scoundrelly myrmidons, he exclaimed, "Look out sharp for that old chap, my lads, while I goes to sarch for the woman passenger!" As he turned, however, to leave the cabin, one of his subordinates began to rummage about in a locker, when the burly brute said, "Tonio, don't get to drinkin' too airly, boy, for ye know it's agin the law till the prize is snug in harbor, or sunk, as the case may be."
"Si, senor," replied the man, with a nod and a grin, and he resumed his seat again; but no sooner had their leader left the cabin than a bottle and glasses were placed upon the table, and they fell to with a will, complimenting the bound and wounded prisoner by pitching the last drops from their tumblers into his face.
"What tale do the roaring ocean And the night wind, bleak and wild, As they beat at the crazy casement, Tell to that little child? And why do the roaring ocean And the night wind, wild and bleak, As they beat at the heart of the mother, Drive the color from her cheek?"
In all this time so little noise had been made that even the watch below, in the brig's forecastle, were snoozing away without a dream of danger; though, had one of them shown his nose above the fore-peak, he would have either been knocked down and murdered like the mate, or, with a gag in his jaws, been hurled overboard. When the leader of the pirates stepped again on deck, he said to his companions, who were still clustered around the companion-way,
"Well, my boys, we have 'arned a good prize—a fine cargo of the real stuff—silks, wines, and what not, besides a few of the shiners!" Here he jingled the bag of gold and dollars in his paws, and then threw it, with an easy, indifferent toss, on to the slide of the companion-way.
"But what think ye, lads?" he continued, in a hoarse whisper, "there's a petticoat aboard! and, as sure as my name's Bill Gibbs, here goes for a look; for there's nothing like lamplight for the lovely creeturs!"
As he slewed round on his bare feet to approach the entrance to the deck cabin, a move was made in the same direction by two or three of the wretches of his band; but, shoving them roughly back with his heavy fist, and clapping a hand to his belt, he said, in a threatening tone,
"None o' that, my souls! I takes the first look myself; and if I think her beauty'll suit the chief, why—I shall be able to judge, ye know, whether she'll go furder on the cruise or swim ashore with the rest of the lubbers at daylight to Jamaiky. Keep your eye on the schooner, Pedro, and don't make no more sail! D'ye hear?"
"Ay, ay, si senor!" quoth that worthy, as he and his followers fell sulkily back. It took but three strides for Mr. Bill Gibbs to reach the cabin door, when, finding it hard to open, after several trials at the knob, he placed his burly shoulder against the edge of the panelwork, and, throwing his powerful weight upon it, the door yielded with a snap of the lock, and he pitched forward full length upon the cabin floor. The noise startled the lady within, and speaking as if half asleep, she called,
"Banou! Banou! what is the matter?"
"Mon dieu, madame! we are prisoners in the hands of pirates!"
Before more words were uttered, Mr. Bill Gibbs, who by this time had regained his feet while giving vent to a volley of blasphemous curses, roared out as he beheld the black, "Ho! nigger passengers, hay? A mounseer of color, as I'm a Christian! I say, cucumber shins, is that 'ere woman as is talkin' as black as you be?"
He was not left long in doubt concerning the color of the person he alluded to, for at the instant the stateroom door flew open, and the lovely woman, in her loose night-dress and hair streaming in brown, heavy silken tresses over her fair neck and shoulders, with a pale and terror-stricken face, stood before him. Speechless with agony, she gazed at the coarse ruffian, who had, at the moment, reached the swinging cot which held the little boy, and while he was in the act of looking at the sleeping child, the mother uttered a fearful cry and the boy awoke.
"Sarvice, madam! don't be scared! come and take the little chap! I ain't goin' to hurt him—that is, if it be a him."
The frightened mother, spell-bound at first, needed no second bidding, and, forgetful of her disheveled dress, sprang forward, and with outstretched arms, bare to the shoulder, was about to snatch her child. The pirate, however, with his red eyes gleaming with unholy fire, threw his great arm around the lovely woman's waist, and with a hoarse, fiendish chuckle of triumph, attempted to draw her toward him. But, quick as lightning, two black, sinewy paws clutched him with such a steel-like grip about the throat that his sacrilegious arm dropped by his side, and he was hurled violently back against the cabin bulkhead. Then standing before him, the negro glared like an angry lion roused from his lair as he looked round inquiringly at his mistress.
"Ho!" sputtered the ruffian, as he pulled a pistol from his belt, "ho! you mean fight, do ye?"
"Banou! mon pauvre Banou!" screamed the terrified woman. "Yield! Oh, sir, spare him! Don't harm us, and we will give you all we possess!"
The burly scoundrel hesitated a moment, and balanced the cocked pistol in his hand, as if undecided whether to blow the black's brains out on the spot where he stood; and then shoving the weapon back in his sash, and keeping a wary eye on his assailant, he exclaimed in an angry tone,
"Well, come here, then, my deary, and give us a kiss for this nigger's bad manners."
Moving forward as he spoke, he caught up the little boy from the cot, tore the gold chain and locket from his neck, which he thrust into his pocket, and shook him roughly at arm's length, in hopes, perhaps, of enticing the tender mother within his merciless grasp. But again the black interposed his heavy frame before his mistress.
"What! at it again, are ye? Well, then"—fumbling with his left hand for his pistol—"say your prayers, ye imp of darkness."
The black seemed, however, in no mood for praying; and putting forth his slabs of arms like the paws of an alligator, he tried to grapple his foe by the throat. The cries of the mother now mingled with those of the child as he put out his little arms to shield his black protector. The ruffian, foiled in his purpose, with baffled rage evaded the negro by stepping to one side; and as he did so, he hurled the helpless child with great force from him. The large cabin windows at the stern were open to let in the breeze; and as the brig sank slowly down with her counter to the following waves, and gurgled up as the sea eddied and surged around the rudder, the faint, plaintive cry of the little boy arose above the seething waters—a light splash followed—and the mother had lost her child!
"Oh, monster!" cried the heart-broken woman. "Oh, my boy! my boy! May Heaven curse you forever!" as she sank down senseless on the deck.
The awful howl of vengeance which burst from the deep lungs of Banou came simultaneously with the report of the pirate's pistol, the bullet from which struck the black hard in the left shoulder; but putting out for the third time his sinewy arms, and this time with an iron grip that only left the ruffian time to yell with a stifled curse for help, he was hurled headlong, smashing through the latticed cabin door, and fell stunned upon the outer deck. In an instant half a dozen pistol balls whistled around the negro's head, and the knives of the pirates flashed from their sashes as they rushed forward to bury the blades in his body; but leaping to one side, and while two more bullets were driven into him, he seized an iron-shod pump brake from the bulwarks, and, with a mighty bound, whirled it once with the rapidity of thought high above his head, and brought it down on the leg of his prostrate foe. Such was the force of the blow that it smashed both bones, and drove the white splinters through the brute's trowsers, where they gleamed out red and bloody by the light of the binnacle lamp. Even then, wounded, and the blood flowing from several places, and though almost encircled in the grasp of the scoundrels, Banou made good his retreat to the cabin, and planted his powerful body firmly against the door.
With a volley of polyglot curses and yells in all languages, two or three of the pirates stopped to raise their fallen leader, while the others, leaving the wheel and vessel to herself, rushed in pursuit of the black. Scarcely, however, had they made a step, when their ears were saluted by a stunning crash from a heavy cannon, and the peculiar humming sound of a round shot as it flew just above their heads between the brig's masts.
There, within half a cable's length to windward, loomed up the dark hull of a large ship. The crew were evidently at quarters, with the battle lanterns lit and gleaming in the ports, while the rays shot up the black rigging and top-hamper, and spread out over the sails in fitful flashes as she slowly forged abreast the brig, with her main top-sail to the mast. For a minute not a sound was heard, though the decks were full of men, some with their heads poked out of the open ports beside the guns, or swarming along over the lee hammock-nettings and about the quarter boats; but the next instant there came in a voice of thunder through the trumpet,
"What's the matter on board that brig?"
There was no answer for a few seconds, until a choking voice, as if with a pump-bolt athwart the speaker's mouth, mumbled out,
"We're captured by pi—"
A dull, heavy blow cut short these words; and though the reply to the hail could hardly have been heard on board the ship, yet, as if divining the true state of the case, loud, clear orders were given—
"Away, there, third and fourth cutters! away! Spring, men!"
Then came the surging noise of the whistles as the falls dropped the boats from the davits; then the men, leaping down into cutters—silently and quick—no sound save the clash of a cutlass or the rattle of an oar-blade as they took their places and shoved off. Again an order through the trumpet—
"Clear away the starboard battery! Load with grape! Sail trimmers! stations for wearing ship! Hard up the helm! Fill away the main-yard!"
The "Scourge" had by this time forged ahead of the brig, her sails aback or shivering, as she came up and fell off from the wind, and the boats dancing with full crews toward her. No sooner, however, had the presence of the unwelcome stranger been made known on board the brig than the pirates seemed seized with a panic, and, without a second thought, they scudded to leeward, where their boat had been hauled alongside, and forgetful or indifferent for the fate of their companions below, though dragging the while their maimed comrade to the rail, they lowered him into the boat, jumped in themselves, and pulled away with all their strength toward the schooner near. They were not, however, a moment too soon; for as the last of the band disappeared, their places were supplied by a crowd of nimble sailors to windward, headed by an officer with his sword between his teeth as he swung over the bulwarks. The first sound which greeted the new-comers was from below, and from the throat of the honest skipper. Down the open companion-way leaped the officer, with half a dozen stout, eager sailors at his heels, and dashed right into the lower cabin. There was the brave old skipper, with but one arm free, shielding himself and struggling—faint and well-nigh exhausted—from the knives of the drunken brace of rascals who had been left to guard him. A pistol in the hands of one of this pair was pointed with an unsteady aim at the officer as he entered, but the ball struck the empty rum-bottle on the table and flew wide of its mark; and before the smoke of the powder had cleared away, a sword and cutlass had passed through and through both their bodies, and they fell dead upon the cabin floor.
While Captain Blunt found breath to give a rapid explanation of the trouble, and while the brig was once more got under control and the wounded cared for, we will take a look at the man-of-war and the part she bore in the business.
At the first sound of the warning gun from the cruiser the schooner began to show life; and drawing her head sheets, she wore short round on her heel, with every thing ready to run up her fore and aft sails, and a stay-tackle likewise rove and hanging over the low gunwale to hook on to the boat and hoist it in the moment it came alongside. Meanwhile the "Scourge" had shot ahead of the brig, and wearing round her forefoot, with her starboard tacks on board, she emerged out beyond, like a hound just slipped from the leash. As she cleared the brig, the schooner lay with bare masts about three cables' length to windward, and the rattle of oars told that her boat had just scraped alongside. At that moment a clear, determined voice shouted through the trumpet,
"Level your guns! Take good aim! Fire!"
A brilliant series of sheets of flame burst forth from the corvette's battery, lighting up the water and jet black wales, and away aloft to the great towering maze of rigging and sails to the trucks, with the topmen clustering to windward, and their very eyes and teeth lit up in the glare; then, too, the crews of the guns, in their trim frocks and trowsers; the marines on the top-gallant forecastle, with their firelocks and white cross-belts; and abaft a knot of officers on the poop, with night-glasses to their eyes, all standing out as clear as day in the sudden flashes from the cannon. Then followed the concussive roar, and the next instant you could hear the hurtling rush of the iron hail as it flew singly or in bunches through the air, or skipped in its deadly flight from wave to wave, until it went crashing into the pirate's boat, slapping with heavy thumps against the schooner's side, or furrowing along her decks; while a shower of white splinters flew high over her low rail, and told how well the iron had done its bidding. Then, with many a groan and imprecation, the shattered and sinking boat was cut adrift, and, a moment after, the sails of the vessel were spread, the sheets hauled flat aft, and, taking the breeze, she heeled over till her lee rail was all awash, and away she walked, right up to windward.
But again came the clear, commanding tones on board the cruiser, mingled with the jumping of the crew and ramming home the charges in the guns:
"Load! round shot! Run out! One point abaft the beam! Fire as you bring the schooner to bear!"
Out belched the red flames; the heavy globes of iron, like so many black peas in daylight, sung their deadly note as they darted on their way, and the corvette gave a little heel to leeward as the shock of the explosion was felt. One shot dropped within fifty yards of the low hull of the schooner, bounded just clear of her after-deck, knocked off the head and shoulder of a man at the tiller, and then went skipping away over the water like a black foot-ball. Another messenger cut off the schooner's delicate fore-top-mast as clean as a bit of glass, bringing down the gaff-top-sail, and, what was equally pleasant, the fellow who was setting it—pitching him over and over like a wheel, until he fell, a bruised and lifeless lump of jelly, on the oak bitts at the fore-mast. Before, however, they were treated to another of these metallic doses, the pirates had got their craft in splendid trim; and with every stitch of her canvas spread, and tugging and straining, she rushed on with the heels of a race-horse, within three points of the wind. The "Scourge," too, was now close hauled, her yards braced as fine as needles, and crowded with every inch of sail that would draw; while every ten minutes or so she would let slip two or more guns from a division at the chase. But the uncertain gloom of starlight, and the darkening effect of the passing trade-clouds, made the little vessel a very difficult object to see; and though one of the last balls struck her on the narrow deck, passed through that and the waterways, and out to windward, spoiling two of her timbers, and no end of planking, yet this was the last damage she received. Her crew, also, had got as well as could be out of harm's way—both the sound and wounded—and were lying quietly as possible deep down in the vessel's run. When daylight broke the breeze began to slacken, but she was by this time hull down from the corvette, a long way beyond the reach of her long eighteens in the bow ports, and eating her way to windward, with no chance of being taken.
"It's no use," said the captain of the corvette to his first lieutenant, as they stood watching the receding chase. "We may as well give it up; she has the heels of us in this light wind, and will soon be out of sight. I think, however," continued the captain, with a smile, "that he'll remember the 'Scourge' when he meets her again. This is the second time we have chased that fellow; and this heat, by the way the splinters flew, we must have peppered the skin off his back."
Shutting up the joints of the spy-glass which he held in his hand, he took hold of the man-ropes of the poop ladder, and as he put his feet on the steps, he said,
"You can go about, Mr. Cleveland, and run down to the brig."
THE MEETING AND MOURNING.
"Moan! moan, ye dying gales! The saddest of your tales Is not so sad as life! Nor have you e'er began A theme so wild as man, Or with such sorrow rife.
"Then, when the gale is sighing, And when the leaves are dying, And when the song is o'er, Oh! let us think of those Whose lives are lost in woes— Whose cup of grief runs o'er!"
The afternoon following the night when the foregoing events transpired, the "Martha Blunt" sailed slowly along the sandy tongue of land which separates Port Royal from Kingston, and dropped anchor in the harbor. As the cable rumbled out with a grating sound through the hawse-hole, and the crew aloft were furling the sails, a large, gayly-painted barge, pulled by a dozen blacks shaded by a striped awning, shot swiftly alongside. Jabbering were those darkies, and clapping their hands, and shouting joyously. A rope was immediately thrown from the gangway of the brig, and a tall, handsome man, with a broad Panama hat, loose white jacket and trowsers, sprang with a bound up the side, and leaped on deck.
Captain Blunt stood there to receive him. A broad white bandage was passed around his head, and the tears trickled slowly down his bronzed and honest cheeks. Just beyond him, under the shade of the awning, lay Banou, stretched out at full length on a mattress; while Ben, the helmsman, was kneeling beside him, fanning his hot and fevered face with his tarpaulin. A yard or two beyond, on a broad plank resting on trestles, lay the mate, Mr. Binks, cold and rigid in the grasp of death, with the union jack folded modestly over his corpse. The black breathed heavily and in pain; but when he caught sight of the gentleman as he stepped on deck, a deathly blue pallor came over his countenance, and, closing his eyes, the hot salt tears started in great drops from the lids.
"My God! captain," said the gentleman, with a bewildering stare, "what's all this? What has happened?"
The old skipper merely made a motion with his hand toward the cabin, and, leaning painfully against the rail, wept like a child. The gentleman's blood forsook his cheeks, and, with his knees knocking together, he staggered like a drunken man toward the cabin door. A few minutes later he emerged, bearing in his arms the sobbing, drooping form of his wife. Starting from his close embrace for a moment as he bore her to the gangway, she gave one shuddering, terrified, searching gaze over the blue water to seaward, and then, with a wailing cry of agony, that would have shaken the hardest heart, she fell sobbing again into her husband's arms.
The voices and joyous shrieks of the negroes in the barge alongside subsided into low moaning groans; four or five came up, and carefully lowered Banou down; then all got into the boat, and she moved mournfully away toward the shore.
CAPTAIN BRAND AT HOME.
"From his brimstone bed at break of day, A-walking the Devil is gone, To visit his snug little farm the Earth, And see how his stock goes on."
Upon a broad, flat, rocky ledge, near a small, landlocked narrow inlet of one of the clustering Twelve League Keys on the south side of Cuba, stood a red-tiled stone building, with a spacious veranda in front, covered by plaited matting and canvas curtains triced up all around. The back and one side of the building rested against a craggy eminence which overlooked the sea on both sides of the island, and commanded a wide sweep of reef and blue water beyond. A few clumps of cocoa-nut-trees and dwarf palms, with bare gaunt stems and tufted tops, stood out here and there along the rocky slopes, while lesser vegetation of cactus and mangrove bushes were scattered thickly over the island, cropping out with jagged edges of rock down to the sandy beaches of the sea-shore. A deep narrow inlet of blue water lay pure and still near the base of the rocky height, where, too, was a shelving curve of white sand, sprinkled about by a few mat sheds, while on the other side the rocks arose to an elevation of a hundred and fifty feet, forming a precipitous wall to the water. The inlet here took a sharp turn, scooped out in a secluded basin, and then narrowing to less than forty yards in width, it wound and twisted for a good mile in a thin blue channel to the open sea. Half that distance farther out was a roaring ledge of white breakers, where the long swell came hammering on it, bursting up in the air in brightish green masses, and then tumbling over the reef and bubbling smoothly on toward the shore. On a level with the water no channel could be discerned through the ledge; but, looking down from the heights around the inlet, a narrow blue gateway was marked out, skirted on the surface by frothy crests of dead foam, and near where flocks of cormorants and gulls were riding placidly on the inner side of the ledge. The island itself was about two miles broad and seven long; and about midway of its width the inlet formed a forked strait, one branch finding its way to the north, between a low succession of sandy hummocks, where the water was too shallow to float a duck, and the other finding an outlet, scarcely a biscuit-toss wide, between two bluff rocks. With the trade wind this passage was safe and accessible; but on the change of the moon, with a breeze and swell from the south, the sea came bowling in, in boiling eddies and whirlpools, and it required a nerve of iron to attempt an entrance. Just within this narrow mouth, on a flat beveled ledge of rock but a few feet above the water, was a small battery of two long eighteen-pounders, and two twenty-four pounder carronades mounted on slides and trucks, with platforms laid on a bed of sand. Near by, beneath a low shed of tiles and loose stones, were a pile of round shot, nicely blacked, and some stands of grape and canister in canvas bags and cases, together with a large copper magazine of cartridges. Seated a little way off on a low stool was a dingy Spaniard with a telescope laid across his knees, which every little while he would raise to his eye and take a steady glance around the horizon to seaward. At other times he would roll and light a paper cigar, murmuring some low ditty to himself as he sent the smoke in volumes through his nose. A small brass bell hung beside the shed near the battery, together with a telegraphic card, which was connected by a wire strung on low posts, or hooked from rock to rock to the stone building away up at the basin. To return, however, to the building: the veranda rested on square rough masonry full twenty feet from the ground, which was loopholed for musketry, and with but one narrow slip of a doorway that fell like a portcullis, banded and strapped with bars and studs of wrought iron. Within this stone inclosure was a large and roomy vault, half filled with cases, barrels, and packages, and at the upper angle was a narrow subterranean vaulted passage, barred also by an iron-bound door, which led to a succession of whitewashed chambers—dark, damp, and gloomy—and then on, in a fissure-like pathway, to another equally strongly secured outlet on the other side of the crag. Leading to the veranda was a tautly-stretched rope ladder lashed to eye-bolts let into the natural rock below, and hooked on to the edge of the floor above. This was the only approach to the main floor of the building from the outside, though within were heavy trap-doors like the hatches of a ship, which communicated to the chambers beneath. The whole structure was of stone and tiles, roughly built, but yet strong and durable, and capable of resisting any assault, unaided by cannon, that could be brought against it. The floor was divided into four rooms, the smallest used for a kitchen, the next for a magazine of small arms, and the third a spacious bedchamber, which opened into a large square apartment facing the veranda, and which deserves more notice.
The lofty ceiling came down with the slant, showing the bare red tiles and heavy square beams which supported the roof. In one of the stoutest of these beams was an eye-bolt and copper-strapped block, through which was rove a long green silk rope, with one end secured by a cleat on the wall, and the other dangling loose, and squirming, whenever a current of air struck it, like a long, slim snake. Around the sides of the room, which were paneled with cedar, stood four or five quaint ebony armoires, and as many cabinets, clocks, and bookcases, with here and there a woman's work-stand, some of them curiously inlaid with pearl and silver. The walls were hung with a great number of pictures of all kinds of vessels—generally, however, of the merchant description—under full sail, with vivid light-houses in the distance, and combing breakers under the lee; and all portraying gallant crews and buoyant freights, which probably had never reached their destinations. Among this gallery of marine display was a broad framing of the "Flags of All Nations;" and codes of signals, too, in bright colors, hung beside them. Farther on, in a pretty panel by itself, surrounded by an edging of mother-o'-pearl, was a triple row of female miniatures, a number of them of great beauty, and many executed in excellent taste and art. In one corner was a large chart-stand, covered with rolls of maps and nautical instruments, while above were suspended, by white rope grummets, a pyramidal line of spy-glasses and telescopes of all sizes and make. Near the centre of the apartment stood a large round dining-table, on which was laid things for a breakfast, a box of cigars, and a small silver pan of live coals. There were but two windows to this room, both hung with striped muslin curtains, the casements going to the floor, and looking out upon the veranda; and but two doors, one leading to the kitchen, and the other to the sleeping-chamber on the opposite side.
Presently this last door opened, and, pushing aside a blue gauze curtain which hung before it, an individual of about eight-and-twenty years of age stepped languidly into the room. He was a tallish man, over six feet in stature, rather spare in build, but with great breadth of shoulders, and though pale, apparently from long illness, yet he was evidently very active and muscular when his nerves were called into action. Had it not been for a downward choleric curve to his large nose, and a little parting at the corners of his wide mouth and compressed lips, the face might have been thought handsome. The eyes were light blue, set close together, but hard and stony, with no ray of mercy or humanity in them. He wore no beard, and his light brown hair was thin and dry, and carefully parted at the side. He was dressed in a snow-white pair of loose drilling trowsers, cut sailor fashion, straw slippers, and silk stockings; and above he wore a brown linen jacket with large pearl buttons, and pockets. As he entered the room he held a delicate cambric handkerchief, with a fine lace border, in his hands, which he seemed to regard with curious interest as he lounged toward the windows of the veranda.
"I wish I could remember," he muttered musingly to himself, "which of those sisters this bit of cambric belonged to, marked with an E.—Ellen or Eliza—hum! They would die—silly things!—tried to stab me! Ho! what fun! Never left me even a miniature, either, for my collection. 'Bueno!' There's more fish in the sea—and under it too!" he concluded, with an unpleasant elevation of his eyebrows.
By this time he had approached the open window, and, shoving the delicate fabric daintily in his pocket, he gave a slight yawn and looked out. Before him lay the deep blue basin of the inlet, with a couple of boats hauled up on the shore; a few idle sailors moving about, or squatted beneath the sheds playing cards or sewing. Without letting his eye rest more than a moment on this scene, he turned and gave a long, earnest gaze between an opening of the rocks to seaward. Then, with an angry frown, he approached the table, poured out a cup of black coffee, threw rather than dropped in a lump of sugar, and sat himself down for his morning's meal. He had scarcely, however, gulped down his cup of coffee and choked after it a slice of toast, than he pushed away the breakfast things, snapped his teeth together like a steel clasp, biting a tooth-pick in twain by the effort; and then, tossing the pieces away, he dashed his hand into the cigar-box, extracted one, touched it to the pan of coals, and began to smoke savagely. At first the grateful smoke appeared to soothe his chafed spirit, for he threw himself lazily into a large cane-bottomed settee, and, stretching out his legs, seemed to enjoy the tranquil scene around him with uninterrupted pleasure. But soon a scowl darkened his face; he dropped his cigar on the floor, and springing to his feet as if touched by a galvanic battery, he snatched down a telescope from the wall, steadied it at the window-sash, and peered again long and anxiously to windward. He saw nothing, however, save the long, glassy, unbroken undulations of a calm tropical sea, rolling away off beyond the ledge under a burning sun; no sign of a breeze—not even a cat's-paw; and only now and then the leap of a deep-sea fish sparkling for a moment in the air, and some sluggish gulls and pelicans sailing and diving about the reef for their prey. Shutting up the glass with a crash that made the joints ring, he strode to the settee, where hung several knotted bell-ropes, and, seizing one, gave it a sharp jerk. Then putting his ear to an aperture in the wall, where was a hollow cane tube like the mouth of a speaking-trumpet, he listened attentively till a hoarse whisper uttered the word,