THE BLUE AND THE GRAY—AFLOAT
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TAKEN BY THE ENEMY WITHIN THE ENEMY'S LINES ON THE BLOCKADE STAND BY THE UNION FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT A VICTORIOUS UNION
THE BLUE AND THE GRAY—ON LAND
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BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER IN THE SADDLE A LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN ON THE STAFF AT THE FRONT AN UNDIVIDED UNION
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Lee and Shepard Publishers Boston
BLUE AND THE GRAY
By Oliver Optic
FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT
The Blue and the Gray Series
FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT
Author of "The Army and Navy Series" "Young America Abroad" "The Great Western Series" "The Woodville Stories" "The Starry Flag Series" "The Boat-Club Series" "The Onward and Upward Series" "The Yacht-Club Series" "The Lake Shore Series" "The Riverdale Stories" "The Boat-Builder Series" "Taken by the Enemy" "Within the Enemy's Lines" "On the Blockade" "Stand by the Union" "A Missing Million" "A Millionaire at Sixteen" etc., etc., etc.
BOSTON LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers
Copyright, 1892 by Lee and Shepard All Rights Reserved
Fighting for the Right
Type-Setting and Electrotyping by C. J. Peters & Son, Boston
My Grand Nephew
RICHARD LABAN ADAMS
Is Affectionately Dedicated
"FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT" is the fifth and last but one of "The Blue and the Gray Series." The character of the operations in connection with the war of the Rebellion, and the incidents in which the interest of the young reader will be concentrated, are somewhat different from most of those detailed in the preceding volumes of the series, though they all have the same patriotic tendency, and are carried out with the same devotion to the welfare of the nation as those which deal almost solely in deeds of arms.
Although the soldiers and sailors of the army and navy of the Union won all the honors gained in the field of battle or on the decks of the national ships, and deserved all the laurels they gathered by their skill and bravery in the trying days when the republic was in peril, they were not the only actors in the greatest strife of the nineteenth century. Not all the labor of "saving the Union" was done in the trenches, on the march, on the gun deck of a man-of-war, or in other military and naval operations, though without these the efforts of all others would have been in vain. Thousands of men and women who never "smelled gunpowder," who never heard the booming cannon, or the rattling musketry, who never witnessed a battle on sea or land, but who kept their minds and hearts in touch with the holy cause, labored diligently and faithfully to support and sustain the soldiers and sailors at the front.
If all those who fought no battles are not honored like the leaders and commanders in the loyal cause, if they wear no laurels on their brows, if no monuments are erected to transmit their memory to posterity, if their names and deeds are not recorded in the Valhalla of the redeemed nation, they ought not to be disregarded and ignored. It was not on the field of strife alone in the South that the battle was fought and won. The army and the navy needed a moral, as well as a material support, which was cheerfully rendered by the great army of the people who never buckled on a sword, or shouldered a musket. Their work can not be summed up in deeds, for there was little or nothing that was brilliant and dazzling in their career. They need no monuments; but their work was necessary to the final and glorious result of the most terrible war of modern times.
No apology is necessary for placing the hero of the story and his skilful associate in a position at a distance from the actual field of battle. They were working for the salvation of the Union as effectively as they could have done in the din of the strife. They were "Fighting for the Right," as they understood it, though it is not treason to say, thirty years later, that the people of the South were as sincere as those of the North; and they could hardly have fought and suffered to the extent they did if it had been otherwise.
The incidents of the volume are more various than in the preceding stories, which were so largely a repetition of battle scenes; but the hero is still as earnest as ever in the cause he loves. He attains a high position without any ambition to win it; for, like millions of others who gave the best years of their lives to sustain the Union, who suffered the most terrible hardships and privations, so many hundreds of thousands giving their lives to their country, Christy fought and labored for the cause, and not from any personal ambition. It is the young man's high character, his devotion to duty, rather than the incidents and adventures in which he is engaged, that render him worthy of respect, and deserving of the honors that were bestowed upon him. The younger participants in the war of the Rebellion, Christy Passford among the number, are beginning to be grizzled with the snows of fifty winters; but they are still rejoicing in "A Victorious Union."
William T. Adams.
Dorchester, April 18, 1892.
Page CHAPTER I. A Conference at Bonnydale 15
CHAPTER II. A Complicated Case 26
CHAPTER III. The Departure of the Chateaugay 37
CHAPTER IV. Monsieur Gilfleur explains 48
CHAPTER V. An Abundance of Evidence 59
CHAPTER VI. The Boarding of the Ionian 70
CHAPTER VII. A Bold Proposition 81
CHAPTER VIII. A Notable Expedition 92
CHAPTER IX. The Frenchman in Bermuda 103
CHAPTER X. Important Information obtained 114
CHAPTER XI. An Unexpected Rencontre 125
CHAPTER XII. As Impracticable Scheme 136
CHAPTER XIII. At the End of the Chase 147
CHAPTER XIV. An Easy Victory 158
CHAPTER XV. The Gentleman with a Grizzly Beard 169
CHAPTER XVI. Among the Bahamas 180
CHAPTER XVII. The Landing at New Providence 191
CHAPTER XVIII. An Affray in Nassau 202
CHAPTER XIX. An Old Acquaintance 213
CHAPTER XX. A Band of Ruffians 224
CHAPTER XXI. A Question of Neutrality 235
CHAPTER XXII. On Board of the Snapper 246
CHAPTER XXIII. The Chateaugay in the Distance 257
CHAPTER XXIV. The Tables turned 268
CHAPTER XXV. Captain Flanger in Irons 279
CHAPTER XXVI. A Visit to Tampa Bay 290
CHAPTER XXVII. Among the Keys of Tampa 302
CHAPTER XXVIII. The Surrender of the Reindeer 313
CHAPTER XXIX. Bringing out the Prize 324
CHAPTER XXX. A Very Important Service 335
CHAPTER XXXI. An Undesired Promotion 346
FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT
A CONFERENCE AT BONNYDALE
"Well, Christy, how do you feel this morning?" asked Captain Passford, one bright morning in April, at Bonnydale on the Hudson, the residence of the former owner of the Bellevite, which he had presented to the government.
"Quite well, father; I think I never felt any better in all my life," replied Lieutenant Passford, of the United States Navy, recently commander of the little gunboat Bronx, on board of which he had been severely wounded in an action with a Confederate fort in Louisiana.
"Do you feel any soreness at the wound in your arm?" inquired the devoted parent with some anxiety.
"Not a particle, father."
"Or at the one in your thigh?"
"Not the slightest bit of soreness. In fact, I have been ready to return to my duty at any time within the last month," replied Christy very cheerfully. "It would be a shame for me to loiter around home any longer, when I am as able to plank the deck as I ever was. In truth, I think I am better and stronger than ever before, for I have had a long rest."
"Your vacation has been none too long, for you were considerably run down, the doctor said, in addition to your two wounds," added Captain Passford, senior; for the young man had held a command, and was entitled to the same honorary title as his father.
"These doctors sometimes make you think you are sicker than you really are," said Christy with a laugh.
"But your doctor did not do so, for your mother and I both thought you were rather run out by your labors in the Gulf."
"If I was, I am all right now. Do I look like a sick one? I weigh more than I ever did before in my life."
"Your mother has taken excellent care of you, and you certainly look larger and stronger than when you went to sea in the Bronx."
"But I am very tired of this inactive life. I have been assigned to the Bellevite as second lieutenant, a position I prefer to a command, for the reasons I have several times given you, father."
"I am certainly very glad to have you returned to the Bellevite, though the honors will be easier with you than they were when you were the commander of the Bronx."
"But I shall escape the responsibility of the command, and avoid being pointed at as one who commands by official influence," said Christy, rather warmly; for he felt that he had done his duty with the utmost fidelity, and it was not pleasant to have his hard-earned honors discounted by flings at his father's influence with the government.
"It is impossible to escape the sneers of the discontented, and there are always plenty of such in the navy and the army. But, Christy, you wrong yourself in taking any notice of such flings, for they have never been thrown directly at you, if at all. You are over-sensitive, and you have not correctly interpreted what your superiors have said to you," said Captain Passford seriously.
His father recalled some of the conversations between the young officer and Captain Blowitt and others, reported to him before. He insisted that the remarks of his superiors were highly complimentary to him, and that he had no right to take offence at them.
"I dare say I am entirely wrong, father; but it will do me no harm to serve in a subordinate capacity," added Christy.
"I agree with you here; but I must tell you again, as I have half a dozen times before, that I never asked a position or promotion for you at the Navy Department. You have won your honors and your advancement yourself," continued the father.
"Well, it was all the same, father; you have used your time and your money very freely in the service of the government, as you could not help doing. I know that I did my duty, and the department promoted me because I was your son," said Christy, laughing.
"Not at all, my son; you deserved your promotion every time, and if you had been the son of a wood-chopper in the State of Maine, you would have been promoted just the same," argued Captain Passford.
"Perhaps I should," answered the young officer rather doubtfully.
"After what you did in your last cruise with the Bronx, a larger and finer vessel would have been given to you in recognition of the brilliant service you had rendered," added the father. "I prevented this from being done simply because you wished to take the position of second lieutenant on board of the Bellevite."
"Then I thank you for it, father," replied Christy heartily.
"But the department thinks it has lost an able commander," continued the captain with a smile.
"I am willing to let the department think so, father. All I really ask of the officials now is to send me back to the Gulf, and to the Bellevite. I believe you said that I was to go as a passenger in the Chateaugay."
"I did; and she has been ready for over a week."
"Why don't she go, then?" asked Christy impatiently.
"On her way to the Gulf she is to engage in some special service," replied Captain Passford, as he took some letters from his pocket.
"Letters!" exclaimed the young lieutenant, laughing as he recalled some such missives on two former occasions. "Do you still keep your three agents in the island of Great Britain?"
"I don't keep them, for they are now in the employ of the government, though they still report to me, and we use the system adopted some two years ago."
"What is it this time, father?" asked Christy, his curiosity as well as his patriotism excited by this time at the prospect of capturing a Confederate man-of-war, or even a blockade-runner.
"There are traitors in and about the city of New York," answered Captain Passford, as he returned the letters to his pocket. "We had a rebel in the house here at one time, you remember, and it is not quite prudent just now to explain the contents of the letters."
"All right, father; but I suppose you will read them to me before I sail for the South."
"I will talk to you about it another time," added the captain, as a knock was heard at the door. "Come in!"
It was the man-servant of the house, and he brought in a tray on which there was a card, which Captain Passford took.
"Captain Wilford Chantor," the captain read from the card. "Show him in, Gates. Lieutenant Chantor is appointed to the command of the Chateaugay, Christy, in which you take passage to the Gulf; but she will not go there directly."
"Captain Chantor," said Gates, as he opened the door for the visitor.
"I am happy to see you, Captain Chantor, though I have not had the pleasure of meeting you before," said the captain, as he rose from his chair, and bowed to the gentleman, who was in the uniform of a lieutenant.
"I presume I have the honor to address Captain Horatio Passford," said the visitor, as he took a letter from his pocket, bowing very respectfully at the same time, and delivering the letter.
"I am very glad to meet you, Captain Chantor," continued Captain Passford, taking the hand of the visitor. "Allow me to introduce to you my son, Lieutenant Passford, who will be a passenger on your ship to the Gulf."
"I am very happy to make your acquaintance, Mr. Passford, for I need hardly say that I have heard a great deal about you before, and this is a very unexpected pleasure," replied Captain Chantor.
"Thank you, Captain, and I am equally happy to meet you, as I am to be a passenger on your ship," added Christy, as they shook hands very cordially.
"I had three other passengers on board, but they have been transferred to the store-ship, which sails to-day, and you will be my only passenger."
"At my suggestion," said Captain Passford smiling, doubtless at the puzzled expression of the captain of the Chateaugay at his statement.
"I am to attend to some special service on my voyage to the Gulf, and I am ordered to take my instructions from you," added Captain Chantor.
"Precisely so; but I hold no official position, and your orders will be put in proper form before you sail," replied Christy's father. "Now, if you will be patient for a little while, I will explain the nature of the special service."
"I shall be very glad to understand the subject, and I am confident my patience will hold out to any extent you may require."
The conversation so far had taken place in the library. The owner of Bonnydale rose from his arm-chair, opened the door into the hall, and looked about him very cautiously. Then he closed a window which the unusual warmth of an April day had rendered it necessary to open. He conducted his companions to the part of the room farthest from the door, and seated them on a sofa, while he placed his arm-chair in front of them. Even Christy thought his father was taking extraordinary precautions, and the visitor could make nothing of it.
"As I have had occasion to remark before to-day, there are traitors in and about New York," the captain began.
"If you have any private business with Captain Chantor, father, I am perfectly willing to retire," suggested Christy.
"No; I wish you to understand this special service, for you may be called upon to take a hand in it," replied Captain Passford; and the son seated himself again. "There are traitors in and about New York, I repeat. I think we need not greatly wonder that some of the English people persist in attempting to run the blockade at the South, when some of our own citizens are indirectly concerned in the same occupation."
This seemed to the captain of the Chateaugay an astounding statement, and not less so to Christy, and neither of them could make anything of it; but they were silent, concluding that the special service related to this matter.
"In what I am about to say to you, Captain Chantor, I understand that I am talking to an officer of the utmost discretion," continued Captain Passford, "and not a word of it must be repeated to any person on board of the Chateaugay, and certainly not to any other person whatever."
"I understand you perfectly, sir," replied the officer. "My lips shall be sealed to all."
"I wish to say that the command of the Chateaugay would have been offered to my son, but I objected for the reason that he prefers not to have a command at present," said the captain.
"That makes it very fortunate for me."
"Very true, though the change was not made for your sake. You were selected for this command as much on account of your discretion as for your skill and bravery as an officer."
"I consider myself very highly complimented by the selection."
"Now to the point: I have information that a fast steamer, intended to carry eight guns, called the Ovidio, sailed from the other side of the ocean some time since, and she is to be a vessel in the Confederate navy. Her first port will be Nassau, New Providence."
"Does that prove that any Americans are traitors in and about New York, father?" asked Christy.
"She is to run the blockade with a cargo consisting in part of American goods."
Captain Passford took a file of papers from his pocket.
A COMPLICATED CASE
Captain Passford looked over his papers for a moment; but it was soon evident from his manner that he had secrets which he would not intrust even to his son, unless it was necessary to do so. He seemed to be armed with documentary evidence upon which to act, but he did not read any of his papers, and soon returned them to his pocket.
"The American goods of which I speak are certain pieces of machinery to be used in the manufacture of arms," continued the captain. "They cannot be obtained in England, and the traitors have decided to send them direct, rather than across the ocean in the first instance. These will form the principal and most important part of the cargo of a steamer now loaded, though she will carry other goods, such as the enemy need most at the present time."
"I did not suppose any Americans were wicked enough to engage in such an enterprise for the sake of making money," said Christy indignantly.
"The steamer of which you speak is already loaded, is she?" asked Captain Chantor.
"She is; and now I wish both of you to go with me, and I will point out the vessel to you, and you must mark her so well that you can identify her when occasion requires."
The trio left the house and took the train together. They went to New York, and in an out-of-the-way locality they went down to a wharf; but there was no steamer or vessel of any kind there, and the pier was falling to pieces from decay. Captain Passford stopped short, and seemed to be confounded when he found the dock was not occupied.
"I am afraid we are too late, and that the steamer has sailed on her mission of destruction," said he, almost overcome by the discovery. "She was here last night, and was watched till this morning. She has already cleared, bound to Wilmington, Delaware, with a cargo of old iron."
"Do you know her name, Captain Passford?" asked the commander of the Chateaugay.
"She was a screw steamer of about six hundred tons, and was called the Ionian, but she is American."
It was useless to remain there any longer, for the steamer certainly was not there. Captain Passford hailed a passing-tug-boat, and they were taken on board. The master of the boat was instructed to steam down the East River, and the party examined every steamer at anchor or under way. The tug had nearly reached the Battery before the leader of the trio saw any vessel that looked like the Ionian. The tug went around this craft, for she resembled the one which had been in the dock, and the name indicated was found on her stern.
"I breathe easier, for I was afraid she had given us the slip," said Captain Passford. "She is evidently all ready to sail."
"The Chateaugay is in commission, and ready to sail at a moment's notice," added her commander.
"But you are not ready to leave at once, Christy," suggested Captain Passford, with some anxiety in his expression.
"Yes, I am, father; I put my valises on board yesterday, and when mother and Florry went down to Mr. Pembroke's I bade them both good-by, for after I have waited so long for my passage, I felt that the call would come in a hurry," replied Christy. "I am all ready to go on board of the Chateaugay at this moment."
"And so am I," added Captain Chantor.
"But I am not ready with your orders in full, though they are duly signed," said Captain Passford. "I will put you on shore at the foot of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, Captain Chantor, and you will hasten to your ship, get up steam, and move down to this vicinity. I will put my son on board as soon as I can have your papers completed."
The order necessary to carry out this procedure was given to the captain of the tug, and the commander of the Chateaugay was landed at the place indicated. The tug started for the other side of the river.
"It seems to me this is very strange business, father," said Christy, as he and his father seated themselves at the stern of the boat.
"Traitors do not work in the daylight, my son, as you have learned before this time," replied Captain Passford.
"If you know the men who are engaged in supplying the enemy with machinery, why do you not have them arrested and put in Fort Lafayette?" asked Christy, in a very low tone, after he had assured himself that no person was within possible hearing distance. "It looks as though the case might be settled here, without going to sea to do it."
"We have not sufficient evidence to convict them; and to make arrests without the means of conviction would be worse than doing nothing. The Ionian has cleared for Wilmington with a cargo of old iron. Everything looks regular in regard to her, and I have no doubt there is some party who would claim the castings if occasion required. The first thing to be ascertained is whether or not the steamer goes to Wilmington."
"Then we can make short work of her."
"My information in regard to this treason comes from Warnock—you know who he is?"
"Captain Barnes," replied Christy promptly, for the names of all the agents of his father in England and Scotland had been given to him on a former occasion, when the information received from one of the three had resulted in the capture of the Scotian and the Arran.
"Barnes is a very shrewd man. He does not inform me yet in what manner he obtained the information that the Ovidio was to carry this machinery from Nassau into a rebel port; but I shall get it later in a letter. He gave me the name of the party who was to furnish the machinery; and one of his agents obtained this from the direction of a letter to New York. I placed four skilful detectives around this man, who stands well in the community. They have worked the case admirably, and spotted the Ionian. I have aided them in all possible ways; but the evidence is not complete. If this steamer proceeds beyond Wilmington, Captain Chantor will be instructed to capture her and send her back to New York."
"Then this business will soon be settled," added Christy.
"Perhaps not; the government official, with authority to act, is in New York. I shall see him at once. I have no doubt the detectives have already reported that the Ionian has moved down the river," said Captain Passford, as the tug came up to a pier, where father and son landed.
They went to an office in Battery Place, where the captain was informed that a special messenger had been sent to Bonnydale to acquaint him with the fact that the Ionian had moved down the river. Files of documents, containing reports of detectives and other papers, were examined and compared, and then the government official proceeded to finish the filling out of Captain Chantor's orders. The paper was given to Christy, with an order to deliver it to the commander of the Chateaugay. The tug had been detained for them, and they hastened on board of her.
They found the suspected steamer at her moorings still; but it was evident that she was preparing to weigh her anchor. The tug continued on her course towards the Navy Yard, and the Chateaugay was discovered in the berth she had occupied for the last two weeks. Everything looked lively on board of her, as though she were getting ready to heave up her anchor.
"Christy, you will find on board of your steamer a man by the name of Gilfleur," said Captain Passford, as the tug approached the man-of-war.
"That sounds like a French name," interposed Christy.
"It is a French name, and the owner of it is a Frenchman who has been a detective in Paris. He has accomplished more in this matter than all the others put together, and he will go with you, for you will find in the commander's instructions that you have more than one thing to do on your way to the Gulf. I gave him a letter to you."
"I shall be glad to see him."
"Now, my son, we must part, for I have business on shore, and you may have to sail at any moment," said Captain Passford, as he took the two hands of his son. "I have no advice to give you except to be prudent, and on this duty to be especially discreet. That's all—good-by."
They parted, after wringing each other's hands, as they had parted several times before. They might never meet again in this world, but both of them subdued their emotion, for they were obeying the high and solemn call of duty; both of them were fighting for the right, and the civilian as well as the naval officer felt that it was his duty to lay down his life for his suffering country. Christy mounted the gangway, and was received by Captain Chantor on the quarter-deck. He had been on board before, and had taken possession of his stateroom.
The passenger took from his pocket the files of papers given him by the official on shore; and then he noticed for the first time an envelope addressed to him. The commander retired to his cabin to read his instructions, and Christy went to his stateroom in the ward room to open the envelope directed to him. As soon as he broke the seal he realized that his father had done a great deal of writing, and he had no doubt the paper contained full instructions for him, as well as a history of the difficult case in which he was to take a part. A paper signed by the official informed him that he was expected to occupy a sort of advisory position near the commander of the Chateaugay, though of course he was in no manner to control him in regard to the management of the ship.
Christy read his father's letter through. The government was exceedingly anxious to obtain accurate information in regard to the state of affairs at Nassau, that hot-bed for blockade-runners. The Chateaugay was to look out for the Ovidio, whose ultimate destination was Mobile, where she was to convey the gun-making machinery, and such other merchandise as the traitorous merchant of New York wished to send into the Confederacy. The name of this man was given to him, and it was believed that papers signed by him would be found on board of the Ionian.
A knock at the door of his room disturbed his examination of the documents, and he found the commander of the steamer there. After looking about the ward room, and into the adjoining staterooms, he came in without ceremony.
"Here is my hand, Mr. Passford," said he, suiting the action to the word. "I find after reading my instructions that I am expected to consult with you, and as I have the very highest respect and regard for you after the brilliant record you have made"—
"Don't you believe that I won my promotion to my present rank through the influence of my father?" demanded Christy, laughing pleasantly, as he took the offered hand and warmly pressed it.
"If you did, your father did the very best thing in the world for his country, and has given it one of the bravest and best officers in the service," replied Captain Chantor, still wringing the hand of his passenger. "But I don't believe anything of the kind; and no officer who knows you, even if he is thirsting for promotion, believes it. I have heard a great many of higher rank than either of us speak of you, and if you had been present your ears would have tingled; but I never heard a single officer of any rank suggest that you owed your rapid advancement to anything but your professional skill and your unflinching bravery, as well as to your absolute and hearty devotion to your country. I rank you in date, Mr. Passford, but I would give a great deal to have your record written against my name."
"Your praise is exceedingly profuse, Captain Chantor, but I must believe you are honest, however unworthy I may be of your unstinted laudation," said Christy with his eyes fixed on the floor, and blushing like a school-girl.
"I hope and believe there will be no discount on our fellowship. A man came on board this afternoon, and gives me a letter from the proper authority, referring me to you in regard to his mission."
Christy decided to see this person at once.
THE DEPARTURE OF THE CHATEAUGAY
The commander told Christy that he would probably find the person who had brought the letter to him in the waist, for he knew nothing of his quality, position, or anything else about him, and he did not know where to berth him, though there was room enough in the ward room or the steerage. He was dressed like a gentleman, and brought two very handsome valises on board with him.
"For all that, I did not know but that he might be a French cook, a steward, or something of that sort," added Captain Chantor, laughing.
"He is a man who is said to be a Napoleon in his profession; but I will tell you all about him after we get under way, for I am in a hurry to speak with him," replied Christy.
"He is evidently a Frenchman," continued the captain.
"He is; but I never saw him in my life, and know nothing about him except what I have learned from a long letter my father gave me when I was coming on board."
"I have been told that you speak French like a native of Paris, Mr. Passford," suggested the commander.
"Not so bad as that; I have studied the language a great deal under competent instructors from Paris, but I am not so proficient as you may think, though I can make my way with those who speak it," replied the passenger, as he moved towards the door of the stateroom.
"And I can't speak the first word of it, for I have been a sailor all my life, though I went through the naval academy somewhat hurriedly," continued the commander.
"Fortunately you don't need French on the quarter-deck;" and Christy left the stateroom.
The captain went into his cabin, but came out before the passenger could reach the deck. He informed Christy that he was directed to heave short on the anchor and watch for a signal mentioned, which was to be hoisted near the Battery. He might get under way at any minute.
Christy found the person of whom the captain had spoken in the waist. He was dressed in a black suit, and looked more like a dandy than a detective. He was apparently about forty years of age, rather slenderly built, but with a graceful form. He wore a long black mustache, but no other beard. He was pacing the deck, and seemed to be very uneasy, possibly because he was all alone, for no one took any notice of him, though the captain had received him very politely.
"Monsieur Gilfleur?" said Christy, walking up to him, and bowing as politely as a Parisian.
"I am Mr. Gilfleur; have I the honor to address Lieutenant Passford?" replied the Frenchman.
"I am Lieutenant Passford, though I have no official position on board of this steamer."
"I am aware of it," added Mr. Gilfleur, as he chose to call himself, taking a letter from the breast pocket of his coat, and handing it very gracefully to Christy.
"Pardon me," added the young officer, as he opened the missive.
It was simply a letter of introduction from Captain Passford, intended to assure him of the identity of the French detective. Mr. Gilfleur evidently prided himself on his knowledge of the English language, for he certainly spoke it fluently and correctly, though with a little of the accent of his native tongue.
"I am very happy to meet you, Mr. Gilfleur," said Christy in French, as he extended his hand to the other, who promptly took it, and from that moment seemed to lose all his embarrassment.
"I thank you, Mr. Passford, for this pleasant reception, for it is possible that we may have a great deal of business together, and I hope you have confidence in me."
"Unlimited confidence, sir, since my father heartily indorses you."
"I thank you, sir, and I am sure we shall be good friends, though I am not a gentleman like you, Mr. Passford."
"You are my equal in every respect, for though my father is a very rich man, I am not. But we are all equals in this country."
"I don't know about that," said the Frenchman, with a Parisian shrug of the shoulders. "Your father has treated me very kindly, and I have heard a great deal about his brave and accomplished son," said Mr. Gilfleur, with a very deferential bow.
"Spare me!" pleaded Christy, with a deprecatory smile and a shake of the head.
"You are very modest, Mr. Passford, and I will not offend you. I am not to speak of our mission before the Chateaugay is out of sight of land," said the detective, looking into the eyes of the young man with a gaze which seemed to reach the soul, for he was doubtless measuring the quality and calibre of his associate in the mission, as he called it, in which both were engaged. "I knew your father very well in Paris," he added, withdrawing his piercing gaze.
"Then you are the gentleman who found the stewardess of the Bellevite when she ran away with a bag of French gold at Havre?" said Christy, opening his eyes.
"I have the honor to be that person," replied Mr. Gilfleur, with one of his graceful bows. "It was a difficult case, for the woman was associated with one of the worst thieves of Paris, and it took me a month to run them down."
"Though I was a small boy, I remember it very well, for I was on board of the Bellevite at the time," replied Christy. "I know that he was very enthusiastic in his praise of the wonderful skill of the person who recovered the money and sent the two thieves to prison. I understand now why my father sent to Paris for you when he needed a very skilful person of your profession."
"Thank you, Mr. Passford; you know me now, and we shall be good friends."
"No doubt of it; but here comes the captain, and I have a word to say to him," added Christy, as he touched his naval cap to the commander. "Allow me to introduce to you my friend Mr. Gilfleur, whom my father employed in Havre six years ago."
The captain was as polite as the Frenchman, and gave him a hearty reception. Christy then suggested that his friend should be berthed in the ward room. The ship's steward was called, and directed to give Mr. Gilfleur a room next to the other passenger. As they were likely to have many conferences together in regard to the business on their hands, they were both particular in regard to the location of their rooms; and the chief steward suited them as well as he could.
The detective spoke to him in French, but the steward could not understand a word he said. Christy inquired if any of the ward-room officers spoke the polite language, for his friend might sometimes wish to converse in his own tongue.
"I don't believe they do, for they all got into the ward room through the hawse-hole," replied the steward, laughing at the very idea.
When the passengers went on deck, the commander introduced them both to the officers of the ship. To each in turn, at the request of Christy, he put the question as to whether or not he could speak French; and they all replied promptly in the negative, and laughed at the inquiry.
"Have you no one on board who speaks French, Captain Chantor?" asked Christy.
"I don't know anything about it, but as it seems to be of some importance to you and your friend, I will ascertain at once. Mr. Suppleton, will you overhaul the ship's company, and see if you can find any one that speaks French," continued the commander, addressing the chief steward.
In about half an hour he returned, and reported that he was unable to find a single person who could speak a word of French. Doubtless many of the officers, who were of higher grade than any on board of the Chateaugay, were fluent enough in the language, but they were not to be found in the smaller vessels of the navy; for, whatever their rank before the war, they had all been advanced to the higher positions. Every one of the officers on board of this steamer had been the captain of a vessel, and had been instructed in the profession after the war began. Though substantially educated, they were not to be compared in this respect with the original officers.
"We can talk as much as we please of our mission after we get out of sight of land; and as long as we do it in French, no one will understand us," said Christy to his fellow-passenger.
"As soon as we are permitted by my orders to do so, I shall have much to say to you, Mr. Passford," replied Mr. Gilfleur.
"On deck!" shouted a man in the mizzen-top.
"Aloft!" returned Mr. Birdwing, the first lieutenant.
"Signal over the boarding-station, sir!" reported the quartermaster in the top. "It is a number—'Get under way!'"
The executive officer reported the signal to the commander, though he was on deck, and had heard the words of the quartermaster.
"Get under way at once, Mr. Birdwing," said the captain.
"Boatswain, all hands up anchor!" said the first lieutenant to this officer; and in a moment the call rang through the ship.
Every officer and seaman was promptly in his station, for it was a welcome call. The ship's company were dreaming of prize-money, for officers had made fabulous sums from this source. In one instance a lieutenant received for his share nearly forty thousand dollars; and even an ordinary seaman pocketed seventeen hundred from a single capture. The Chateaugayans were anxious to engage in this harvest, and in a hurry to be on their way to the field of fortune.
In a short time the steamer was standing down East River at moderate speed. The Ionian could not be seen yet, and nothing in regard to her was known to any one on board except the captain and his two passengers. As the ship approached the battery, a tug, which Christy recognized as the one his father had employed, came off and hailed the Chateaugay. The screw was stopped, and Captain Passford was discovered at her bow. He waved his hat to his son, saluted the commander in the same manner, and then passed up an envelope.
The tug sheered off, and the ship continued on her course, with a pilot at the wheel. The missive from the shore was addressed to Captain Chantor. He opened it at once, and then ordered one bell to be rung to stop her. A few moments later a heavy tug came off, and twelve men were put on board, with an order signed by the government official for the commander to receive them on board. There had evidently been some afterthoughts on shore. These men were turned in with the crew, except two who were officers, and they were put in the ward room. The ship then proceeded on her course.
"The Ionian is about two miles ahead of us, Mr. Passford," said the captain, after he had used his glass diligently for some time. And he spoke in a very low tone.
"We have no business with her at present," added Christy.
"None, except to watch her; and, fortunately, we have fine, clear weather, so that will not be a difficult job. By the way, Mr. Passford, the envelope I received was from your father, and he gives me information of another steamer expected in the vicinity of Bermuda about this time; and he thinks we had better look for her when she comes out from those islands," said the captain, evidently delighted with the prospect before him.
"What are these men for that were sent off in the tug?" Christy inquired; for he felt that he had a right to ask the question.
"They are to take the Ionian back to New York, if we have to capture her."
Captain Passford appeared to be afraid the Chateaugay would be shorthanded if she had to send a prize crew home with the Ionian.
MONSIEUR GILFLEUR EXPLAINS
The two officers and ten men that had been sent off to the Chateaugay after she got under way, had evidently been considered necessary by the authorities on shore after the receipt of the intelligence that another vessel for the Confederates had been sent to Bermuda. A steamer had arrived that day from Liverpool, and Captain Passford must have received his mail after he landed from the tug. Captain Chantor had waited several hours for the signal to get under way, and there had been time enough to obtain the reinforcement from the Navy Yard.
The officer in command of the detachment of sailors said that he had been ordered to follow the Chateaugay, and he had been provided with a fast boat for this purpose. The steamer proceeded on her course as soon as the transport boat had cast off her fasts, and everything suddenly quieted down on board of her. The distance between the Ionian and the man-of-war was soon reduced to about a mile. It was beginning to grow dark, but the crew had been stationed and billed while the ship lay off the Navy Yard; but the new hands sent on board were assigned to watches and quarter-watches, stationed and billed, as though they were a part of the regular ship's company. One of the two additional officers was placed in each of the watches.
Before it was really dark everything on board was in order, and the ship was put in perfect trim. Christy could not help seeing that Captain Chantor was a thorough commander, and that his officers were excellent in all respects. He walked about the ship, wishing to make himself familiar with her. His father had not written to him in regard to the second vessel which the Chateaugay was to look out for in the vicinity of the Bermuda Islands, and he only knew what the captain had told him in regard to the matter.
If the steamer was armed, as probably she was, an action would be likely to come off, and the young lieutenant could not remain idle while a battle was in prospect. His quick eye enabled him to take in all he saw without much study, and only one thing bothered him. In the waist, secured on blocks, was something like the ordinary whaleboat used in the navy; but it was somewhat larger than those with which he was familiar in the discharge of his duties, and differed in other respects from them. The first watch would begin at eight o'clock, and all hands were still on duty.
"What do you call this boat, Mr. Carlin?" asked Christy, as the third lieutenant was passing him.
"I call it a nondescript craft," replied the officer, laughing. "It is something like a whaleboat, but it isn't one."
"What is it for?" inquired the passenger.
"That is more than I know, sir. It was put on deck while we were still at the Navy Yard. I never saw a boat just like it before, and I have not the remotest idea of its intended use. Probably the captain can inform you."
Christy was no wiser than before, but his curiosity was excited. He strolled to the quarter-deck, where he found the captain directing his night-glass towards the Ionian, which showed her port light on the starboard hand, indicating that the Chateaugay was running ahead of her. The commander called the second lieutenant, and gave him the order for the chief engineer to reduce the speed of the ship.
"The Ionian is a slow boat; at least, she is not as fast as the Chateaugay, Mr. Passford," said Captain Chantor, when Christy had halted near him.
"That is apparent," replied Christy. "How many knots can you make in your ship, Captain Chantor?"
"I am told that she has made fifteen when driven at her best."
"That is more than the average of the steamers in the service by three knots," added Christy. "I have just been forward, Captain, and I saw there a boat which is not quite on the regulation pattern."
"It is like a whaleboat, though it differs from one in some respects," added the commander.
"Is it for ordinary service, Captain Chantor?"
"There you have caught me, for I don't know to what use she is to be applied," replied the captain, laughing because, as the highest authority on board of the ship, he was unable to answer the question.
"You don't know?" queried Christy. "Or have I asked an indiscreet question?" said the passenger.
"If I knew, and found it necessary to conceal my knowledge from you, I should say so squarely, Mr. Passford," added the commander, a little piqued. "I would not resort to a lie."
"I beg your pardon, Captain Chanter; I certainly meant no offence," pleaded Christy.
"No offence, Mr. Passford; my hand upon it," said the commander, and they exchanged a friendly grip of the hands. "I really know nothing at all in regard to the intended use of the boat; in my orders, I am simply directed to place it at the disposal of Mr. Gilfleur at such time and place as he may require, and to co-operate with him in any enterprise in which he may engage. I must refer you to the French gentleman for any further information."
The passenger went below to the ward room. The door of the detective's room was closed, and he knocked. He was admitted, and there he found Mr. Gilfleur occupied with a file of papers, which he was busily engaged in studying. In the little apartment were two middle-sized valises, which made it look as though the detective expected to pass some time on his present voyage to the South.
"I hope I don't disturb you, Mr. Gilfleur," said Christy in French.
"Not at all, Mr. Passford; I am glad to see you, for I am ordered to consult very freely with you, and to inform you fully in regard to all my plans," replied the Frenchman.
"Perhaps you can tell me, then, what that boat in the waist is for," Christy began, in a very pleasant tone, and in his most agreeable manner, perhaps copying to some extent the Parisian suavity, as he had observed it in several visits he had made to the gay capital.
"I can tell you all about it, Mr. Passford, though that is my grand secret. No other person on board of this ship knows what it is for; but you are my confidant, though I never had one before in the practice of my profession," replied Mr. Gilfleur, fixing his keen gaze upon his associate. "A man's secret is the safest when he keeps it to himself. But I will tell you all about it."
"No! no! I don't wish you to do that, Mr. Gilfleur, if you deem it wise to keep the matter to yourself," interposed Christy. "My curiosity is a little excited, but I can control it."
"I shall tell you all about it, for this affair is different from the ordinary practice of my profession," replied the detective; and he proceeded to give a history of the boat in the waist, and then detailed the use to which it was to be applied.
"I am quite satisfied, and I should be glad to take part in the expedition in which you intend to use it," said Christy when the explanation in regard to the boat was finished.
"You would be willing to take part in my little enterprise!" exclaimed the Frenchman, his eyes lighting up with pleasure.
"I should; why not?"
"Because it may be very dangerous, and a slight slip may cost us both our lives," replied the detective very impressively, and with another of his keen and penetrating glances.
"I have not been in the habit of keeping under cover in my two years' service in the navy, and I know what danger is," added Christy.
"I know you are a very brave young officer, Mr. Passford, but this service is very different from that on the deck of a ship of war in action. But we will talk of that at a future time," said Mr. Gilfleur, as he rose hastily from his arm-chair at the desk, and rushed out into the ward room.
Christy had heard footsteps outside of the door, and he followed his companion. They found there Mr. Suppleton, the ship's steward, with the two extra officers who had been sent on board.
"Do you speak French, gentlemen?" asked the detective, addressing himself to the two officers.
"Not a word of it," replied Mr. Gwyndale, one of them.
"Not a syllable of it," added Mr. Tempers, the other.
"Excuse me, gentlemen," said Mr. Gilfleur, as he retreated to his room.
Mr. Suppleton introduced the two new officers to Christy, and he then followed his associate. The Frenchman was afraid the new-comers understood his native language, and had been listening to his explanation of the use of the strange boat; but he had spoken in a whisper, and no one could have heard him, even if the listener had been a Frenchman.
"We are all right," said the detective when they had both resumed their seats, and the Frenchman had begun to overhaul his papers.
Mr. Gilfleur proceeded to explain in what manner he had obtained his knowledge of the plot to send the gun-making machinery to the South. One of Captain Passford's agents had ascertained the name of Hillman Davis, who was in correspondence with those who were fitting out the ships for the Confederate service.
"But that is all we learned from the letters—that the men who were sending out the ships were in correspondence with this man Davis, who is a very respectable merchant of New York," Mr. Gilfleur proceeded.
"Is that all you had to start with, my friend?" asked Christy.
"That was all; and it was very little. Your American detectives are more cautious than Frenchmen in the same service."
"I don't see how in the world you could work up the case with nothing more than a mere name to begin with," added Christy, beginning to have a higher opinion than ever of the skill of the French detective.
"I tell you it was a narrow foundation on which to work up the case. It may amuse you, but I will tell you how it was done. In the first place, Captain Passford gave me all the money I needed to work with. I applied for a situation at Mr. Davis's warehouse. He imported wines and liquors from France; when his corresponding clerk, who spoke and wrote French, was commissioned as a lieutenant in the army, he was looking for a man to take his place. He employed me. I had charge of the letters, and carried the mail to him in his private counting-room every time it came."
"I don't believe that any of our American detectives would have been competent to take such a position," suggested Christy, deeply interested in the narrative.
"That is where I had the advantage of them. I was well educated, and was graduated from the University of France, with the parchment in that valise, signed by the minister of education. The carrier brought all the letters to my desk. I looked them over, and when I found any from England or Scotland, or even France, I opened and read them."
"How could you do that?" asked Christy curiously.
"I was educated to be a lawyer; but before I entered upon the profession, I found I had a taste for the detective service. I did some amateur work first, and was very successful. I afterwards reached a high position in the service of the government. I acquired a great deal of skill in disguising myself, and in all the arts of the profession. I could open and reseal a letter so that no change could be discovered in its appearance, and this was what I did in the service of Mr. Davis. He was a mean man, the stingiest I ever met, and he was as dishonest and unscrupulous as a Paris thief. I copied all the letters connected with the case I had in hand, and this enabled me to get to the bottom of the traitor's plot. He wrote letters himself, not only to England and Scotland, but to people in the South, sending them to Bermuda and Nassau. I took copies of all these, and saved one or two originals. My pay was so small that I resigned my situation," and he flourished a great file of letters as he finished.
AN ABUNDANCE OF EVIDENCE
Captain Passford had certainly kept his own counsel with punctilious care; for he had never even mentioned the skilful detective in his family, though the members of it had met the gentleman in Paris and in Havre. Mr. Gilfleur was in constant communication with him while he was working up the exposure of the treason of Davis, who might have been a relative of the distinguished gentleman at the head of the Southern Confederacy, though there was no evidence to this effect.
"If the captain of this steamer manages his affair well with the Ionian, I expect to find letters on board of her signed by Davis," continued Mr. Gilfleur. "From the information I obtained, your father put American detectives on the scent of Davis, who dogged him day and night till they found the Ionian, and ascertained in what manner she obtained her cargo; but she had been partly loaded before they reached a conclusion, and it is suspected that she has arms under the pieces of machinery, perhaps cannon and ammunition."
The detective continued to explain his operations at greater length than it is necessary to report them. Christy listened till nearly midnight, and then he went on deck to ascertain the position of the chase before he turned in. He found the captain on the quarter-deck, vigilant and faithful to his duty, and evidently determined that the Ionian should not elude him.
"You are up late, Mr. Passford," said the captain, when he recognized his passenger in the gloom of the night.
"I have been busy, and I came on deck to see where the Ionian was before I turned in," replied Christy.
"I think the rascal has a suspicion that we have some business with him, for at four bells he turned his head in for the shore," added the commander. "If you go forward you will see that we have dowsed every glim on board, even to our mast-head and side lights."
"You are carrying no starboard and port light?"
"None; but we have a strong lookout aloft, and in every other available place. When the chase headed for the shore, we kept on our course for half an hour, and then put out the lights. We came about and went off to the eastward for another half-hour. Coming about, we went to the westward till we made her out, for she has not extinguished her lights. It is dark enough to conceal the ship from her, and no doubt she thinks we are still far to the southward of her. At any rate, she has resumed her former course, which was about south, half west."
Christy was satisfied with this explanation, for the Ionian was doing just what she was expected to do. She was not inclined to be overhauled by a gunboat, and she had attempted to dodge the Chateaugay. Besides, if she were bound to Wilmington, as her clearance stated, she would turn to the south-west two or three points by this time. The young officer seated himself in his room, and figured on the situation. If the steamer were making an honest voyage she would not be more than twenty miles off Absecum light at this time, and ought to be within ten of the coast.
At two bells Christy was still in his chair, and when he heard the bells he decided to go on deck again, for he felt that the time would soon come to settle every doubt in regard to the character of the Ionian. He found the commander still at his post, and he looked out for the chase. It was not more than a mile distant, and hardly to be seen in the gloom of a dark night.
"On deck again, Mr. Passford?" said Captain Chantor.
"Yes, sir; I am too much interested in this affair to sleep; besides, I feel as though I had slept at home enough to last me six months," replied the passenger. "It seems to me that the question of that vessel's destination is to be decided about this time, or at least within an hour or two."
Christy explained the calculation he had been making, in which the captain agreed with him, and declared that he had been over the same course of reasoning. Both of them thought the Ionian would not wait till daylight to change her course, as it would be more perilous to do so then than in the darkness.
"I am confident that she has not seen the Chateaugay since we put out the lights," said the captain. "At the present moment we must be off Absecum; but we cannot see the light. She is far off her course for Wilmington."
"That is plain enough."
"What she will do depends upon whether or not she suspects that a man-of-war is near her. We shall soon know, for she is already in a position to justify her capture."
"Better make sure of her course before that is done," suggested Christy, who felt that he was permitted to say as much as this.
"I don't intend to act till we are south of Cape Henlopen," added the commander promptly. "Before we do anything, I shall formally consult you, Mr. Passford, as I am advised to do."
"I shall be happy to serve as a volunteer, and I will obey your orders without question, and as strictly as any officer on board."
"That is handsome, considering the position in which you have been placed on board, Mr. Passford, and I appreciate the delicacy of your conduct."
Christy remained on deck another hour, and at the end of that time a quartermaster came aft to report that the chase had changed her course farther to the eastward. This proved to be the fact on examination by the officers on the quarter-deck, and as nearly as could be made out she was now headed to the south-east.
"But that will not take her to the Bahama Islands," suggested Christy.
"Certainly not; and she may not be bound to Nassau, as stated in those letters. But it is useless to speculate on her destination, for we shall be in condition in the morning to form an opinion," replied the captain. "I shall keep well astern of her till morning; and if there should be any change in her movements, I will have you called, Mr. Passford."
Christy considered this a sage conclusion, and he turned in on the strength of it. He was not disturbed during the remaining hours of the night. He had taken more exercise than usual that day, and he slept soundly, as he was in the habit of doing. The bell forward indicated eight o'clock when he turned out. Breakfast was all ready, but he hastened on deck to ascertain the position of the chase. The captain was not on the quarter-deck, but the first lieutenant was planking the deck for his morning "constitutional."
"Good-morning, Mr. Birdwing," said Christy.
"Good-morning, Mr. Passford; I hope you are very well this morning," replied the executive officer.
"Quite well, I thank you, sir. But what has become of the chase?" asked the passenger, for the Ionian did not appear to be in sight, and he began to be anxious about her.
"Still ahead of us, sir; but she cannot be seen without a glass. I was called with the morning watch, when the captain turned in. His policy is to keep the Ionian so that we may know just where she is, and also to give her the idea that she is running away from us," replied Mr. Birdwing, as he took a glass from the brackets and handed it to Christy.
The young officer could just make out the steamer with the aid of the glass. The Chateaugay was following her; and a glance at the compass gave her course as south-east, half south. Christy had sailed the Bronx over this course, and he knew where it would bring up.
"It is plain enough, Mr. Birdwing, that the Ionian is not bound to Nassau," said he.
"So Captain Chantor said when I came on deck," replied the first lieutenant.
"And it is equally plain where she is bound," added Christy. "That course means the Bermuda Islands, and doubtless that is her destination."
"So the captain said."
The passenger was satisfied, and went below for his breakfast. He found Mr. Gilfleur at the table; and as the fact that the Chateaugay was chasing the Ionian was well understood in the ward room, Christy did not hesitate to tell him the news. The Frenchman bestowed one of his penetrating glances upon his associate, and said nothing. After the meal was finished they retired to the detective's room. Mr. Gilfleur looked over his papers very industriously for a few minutes.
"This affair is not working exactly as it should," said he, as he selected a letter from his files. "I supposed this steamer would proceed directly to Nassau. Read this letter, Mr. Passford."
"Colonel Richard Pierson!" exclaimed Christy, as he saw to whom the letter was addressed.
"Anything strange about the address?" asked the detective.
"Perhaps nothing strange; but I saw this gentleman in Nassau two years ago," replied Christy, as he recalled the events of his first trip to Mobile in the Bellevite. "I can say of my own knowledge that he is a Confederate agent, and was trying to purchase vessels there. This letter is signed by Hillman Davis."
"The American traitor," added Mr. Gilfleur; and both of them were using the French language.
"He says he shall send the machinery and other merchandise to Nassau to be reshipped to Mobile," continued Christy, reading the letter. "He adds that he has bought the steamer Ionian for this purpose, and he expects to be paid in full for her. I think that is quite enough to condemn the steamer."
"Undoubtedly; but what is the Ionian to do in the Bermudas? That is what perplexes me," said the detective.
"Possibly Captain Chantor can solve the problem, for I am sure I cannot," answered the young officer, as he rose from his seat.
He was as much perplexed as his companion, and he went on deck to wait the appearance of the commander. About nine o'clock he came upon the quarter-deck. The Ionian remained at the same relative distance from the Chateaugay, for the captain had given an order to this effect before he turned in.
"I am glad to see you, Captain Chantor," said Christy. "Can you explain why the Ionian is headed for the Bermudas, for you have later information than any in my possession?"
"I think I can," replied the captain, taking a letter from his pocket. "This is the contents of the last envelope brought off from the shore. The writer of it says he has just addressed a letter to 'our friend in New York,' directing him, if it is not too late, to send the steamer with the machinery and other merchandise to the Bermudas, where the cargo will be transferred to the Dornoch; for the Ovidio had been obliged to sail without her armament, and the cargo was too valuable to be risked without protection."
"That is the reason why the reinforcement was sent off at the last moment," Christy remarked.
"The Dornoch carries six guns and fifty men," added the captain, reading from the letter. "I think we need not wait any longer to take possession of the Ionian, Mr. Passford. What is your opinion?"
"I concur entirely with you," replied Christy.
"Quartermaster, strike four bells," continued the captain to the man who was conning the wheel.
"Four bells," repeated the quartermaster; and the gong could be heard on deck as he did so.
In the course of half an hour, for the steam had been kept rather low for the slow progress the ship was obliged to make in order not to alarm the chase, the Chateaugay began to show what she could do in the matter of speed, and before noon she had overhauled the Ionian.
THE BOARDING OF THE IONIAN
The Chateaugay, with her colors flying, ran abreast of the Ionian and by her; but the latter did not show her flag. A blank cartridge was then fired, but the steamer took no notice of it. A shot was then discharged across her fore foot, and this brought her to her senses, so that she hoisted the British flag, and stopped her screw. All the preparations had been made for boarding her, and two boats were in readiness to discharge this duty.
The first cutter, in charge of Mr. Birdwing, was the first to leave the ship. The sea was quite smooth, so that there was no difficulty in getting the boats off. The first lieutenant's boat went from the starboard side, and the second cutter was lowered on the port in charge of the third lieutenant. Christy went in the first boat, and Mr. Gilfleur in the second. The officers and crews of both boats were especially directed to see that nothing was thrown overboard from the Ionian; for if her captain found that he was in a "tight place," he would be likely to heave his papers into the sea.
The first cutter had not made half the distance to the Ionian before she pulled down the British flag and hoisted the American in its place. Her commander evidently believed that he was getting into hot water, and well he might. He must have been selected for this enterprise on account of his fitness for it, and as the steamer had not sailed on an honest voyage, he could not be an honest man, and the officers of the boats despised him. They were determined to discharge their duty faithfully, even if they were obliged to treat him with the utmost rigor.
"She has corrected her first blunder," said Mr. Birdwing, as the American flag went up to her peak. "The skipper of that craft don't exactly know what he is about."
"It must be a surprise to him to be brought to by a United States man-of-war," added Christy.
"But why did the fool hoist the British flag when he has no papers to back it up? That would have done very well among the blockaders," continued the officer of the boat. "I don't know very much about this business, and the captain ordered me to let you and the French gentleman in the other boat have your own way on board of her, and to do all you required. Have you any directions for me?"
"We desire to have the steamer thoroughly searched, and I have little doubt that we shall ask you to take possession of her," replied Christy.
"Then we are to make a capture of it?" asked the first lieutenant, manifesting no little surprise.
"Under certain circumstances, yes."
"Is she a Confederate vessel?"
"No; she is an American vessel."
"All right; but I shall obey my orders to the very letter," added Mr. Birdwing. "How many men shall I put on board of her?"
"Twelve, if you please," replied Christy, who had arranged the plan with the detective.
"Six from each boat," said the executive officer; and then he hailed the second cutter, and directed Mr. Carlin to send this number on board of the Ionian.
"And, if you please, direct him to board the steamer on the starboard side, for I take it you will board on the port," added Christy. "We fear that she will throw certain papers overboard, and we must prevent that if possible."
The order was given to the third lieutenant, and in a few minutes more the first cutter came alongside the steamer. Mr. Birdwing ordered those on board to drop the accommodation ladder over the side; and for so mild a gentleman he did it in a very imperative tone. The order was obeyed, though it appeared to be done very reluctantly. The first lieutenant was the first to mount the ladder, and was closely followed by his passenger.
"Where is the captain?" demanded Mr. Birdwing, as the six men detailed for the purpose were coming over the side.
"I am the captain," replied an ill-favored looking man, stepping forward with very ill grace.
"What steamer is this?"
"The Ionian, of New York, bound to St. George's, Bermuda," replied the captain in a crusty tone.
"The captain's name?" demanded the officer, becoming more imperative as the commander of the Ionian manifested more of his crabbed disposition.
"Captain Sawlock," growled the ill-favored master of the steamer, who was a rather short man, thick-set, with a face badly pitted by the small-pox, but nearly covered with a grizzly and tangled beard.
"You will oblige me by producing your papers, Captain Sawlock," continued Mr. Birdwing.
"For a good reason, my papers are not regular," answered the captain of the Ionian, with an attempt to be more affable, though it did not seem to be in his nature to be anything but a brute in his manners.
"Regular or not, you will oblige me by exhibiting them," the officer insisted.
"It is not my fault that a change was made in my orders after I got under way," pleaded Captain Sawlock.
"Will you produce your clearance and other papers?" demanded the lieutenant very decidedly.
"This is an American vessel, and you have no right to overhaul me in this manner," growled the captain of the steamer.
"You are in command of a steamer, and you cannot be so ignorant as to believe that an officer of a man-of-war has not the right to require you to show your papers," added Mr. Birdwing with a palpable sneer.
"This is an American vessel," repeated Captain Sawlock.
"Then why did you hoist the British flag?"
"That's my business!"
"But it is mine also. Do you decline to show your papers? You are trifling with me," said Mr. Birdwing impatiently.
At this moment there was a scuffle in the waist of the steamer, which attracted the attention of all on the deck. Mr. Gilfleur had suddenly thrown himself on the first officer of the Ionian; and when his second officer and several sailors had gone to his assistance, the third lieutenant of the Chateaugay had rushed in to the support of the Frenchman. The man-of-war's men were all armed with cutlasses and revolvers; but they did not use their weapons, and it looked like a rough-and-tumble fight on the deck.
Mr. Birdwing and Christy rushed over to the starboard side of the steamer; but Mr. Carlin and his men had so effectively sustained the detective that the affray had reached a conclusion before they could interfere. Mr. Gilfleur was crawling out from under two or three men who had thrown themselves upon him when he brought the first officer to the deck by jumping suddenly upon him. The Frenchman had in his hand a tin case about a foot in length, and three inches in diameter, such as are sometimes used to contain charters, or similar valuable papers.
The contest had plainly been for the possession of this case, which the quick eye of the detective had discovered as the mate was carrying it forward; for Mr. Carlin had sent two of his men to the stern at the request of the Frenchman, charged to allow no one to throw anything overboard. The first officer of the Ionian had listened to the conversation between Captain Sawlock and the first lieutenant, and had gone below into the cabin when it began to be a little stormy.
"What does all this mean, Mr. Carlin?" inquired Mr. Birdwing.
"I simply obeyed my orders to support Mr. Gilfleur; and he can explain his action better than I can," replied the third lieutenant.
"I have requested the officers, through Captain Chantor, to see that nothing was thrown overboard, either before or after we boarded the steamer," interposed Christy.
"And the captain's order has been obeyed," added the first lieutenant. "Will you explain the cause of this affray, Mr. Gilfleur?"
"With the greatest pleasure," answered the detective with one of his politest bows. "While you were talking with the captain of the Ionian, I saw the first officer of this steamer go into the cabin. I was told by a sailor that he was the mate. In a minute or two he came on deck again, and I saw that he had something under his coat. He moved forward, and was going to the side when I jumped upon him. After a struggle I took this tin case from him."
The detective stepped forward, and handed the tin case to the executive officer as gracefully as though he had been figuring in a ballroom. Captain Sawlock had followed the officers over from the port side. He appeared to be confounded, and listened in silence to the explanation of Mr. Gilfleur. But he looked decidedly ugly.
"That case is my personal, private property," said he, as soon as it was in the hands of the chief officer of the boarding-party.
"I don't dispute it, Captain Sawlock; but at the same time I intend to examine its contents," replied Mr. Birdwing mildly, but firmly.
"This is an outrage, Mr. Officer!" exclaimed the discomfited master.
"If it is, I am responsible for it," added the executive officer, as he removed the cover from the end of the case.
"I protest against this outrage! I will not submit to it!" howled Captain Sawlock, carried away by his wrath.
"Perhaps you will," said Mr. Birdwing quietly.
"But I will not!"
With a sudden movement he threw himself upon the officer, and attempted to wrest the tin case from his hands. Christy, who was standing behind him, seized him by the collar with both hands, and hurled him to the deck. A moment later two seamen, by order of Mr. Carlin, took him each by his two arms, and held him like a vice.
"I think we will retire to the cabin to examine these papers, for I see that the case is filled with documents, including some sealed letters," continued Mr. Birdwing, as he moved towards the cabin door.
"That cabin is mine! You can't go into it!" howled Captain Sawlock, crazy with anger. "Don't let them go into the cabin, Withers!"
Withers appeared to be the mate, and he stepped forward as though he intended to do something; but a couple of seamen, by order of the first lieutenant, arrested and held him. He had apparently had enough of it in his encounter with the detective, for he submitted without any resistance. If the captain of the steamer was a fool, the mate was not, for he saw the folly of resisting a United States force.
"Mr. Carlin, you will remain on deck with the men; Mr. Passford and Mr. Gilfleur, may I trouble you to come into the cabin with me?" continued Mr. Birdwing, as he led the way.
The executive officer seated himself at the table in the middle of the cabin, and his companions took places on each side of him. The first paper drawn from the case was the clearance of the Ionian for Wilmington, with a cargo of old iron. The manifest had clearly been trumped up for the occasion. The old iron was specified, and a list of other articles of merchandise.
At this point the executive officer sent for Mr. Carlin, and directed him to take off the hatches and examine the cargo, especially what was under the pieces of machinery. There were several letters to unknown persons, and one in particular to the captain himself, in which he was directed to deliver the machinery to a gentleman with the title of "Captain," who was doubtless a Confederate agent, in St. George's, Bermuda. The papers were abundantly sufficient to convict Davis of treason. The last one found in the case directed Captain Sawlock to deliver the cannon and ammunition in the bottom of the vessel to the steamer Dornoch, on her arrival at St. George's, or at some convenient place in the Bahama Islands.
A BOLD PROPOSITION
The evidence was sufficient to justify the capture of the Ionian without a particle of doubt, for she was as really a Confederate vessel as though the captain and officers were provided with commissions signed by Mr. Jefferson Davis.
Mr. Birdwing went to the door and directed the third lieutenant to have Captain Sawlock conducted to the cabin; and the two seamen who had held him as a prisoner brought him before the first lieutenant of the Chateaugay. He appeared to have got control of his temper, and offered no further resistance. Mr. Carlin came to the door, and his superior directed him to examine all hands forward, in order to ascertain whether they were Confederates or otherwise. He gave him the shipping-list to assist him.
"Are you an American citizen, Captain Sawlock?" asked Mr. Birdwing, as soon as the third lieutenant had departed on his mission.
"I am," replied he stiffly.
"Where were you horn?"
"Have you ever taken the oath of allegiance to the United States government?"
"No; and I never will!" protested the captain with an oath.
"I must inform you, Captain Sawlock, that I am directed by the commander of the United States steamer Chateaugay to take possession of the Ionian, on finding sufficient evidence on board that she is engaged in an illegal voyage. I have no doubt in regard to the matter, and I take possession of her accordingly."
"It is an outrage!" howled the captain with a heavy oath.
"You can settle that matter with the courts. I have nothing more to say," replied Mr. Birdwing as he rose and left the cabin, followed by Christy and the detective.
"I found ten heavy guns and a large quantity of ammunition at the bottom of the hold," reported Mr. Carlin, as his superior appeared on deck, and handed back the shipping-list of the vessel. "The three engineers appear to be Englishmen, and so declare themselves. I find six Americans among the crew, who are provided with protections, and they all desire to enlist in the navy. The rest of the crew are of all nations."
"Let the six men with protections man the first cutter. You will remain on board of the Ionian, Mr. Carlin, till orders come to you from the captain," said the first lieutenant. "I shall now return to the Chateaugay to report."
Christy decided to return to the ship; but the detective wished to remain, though he said there was nothing more for him to do. The six sailors who wished to enter the navy were ordered into the boat, two of the regular crew remaining in it. The recruits were good-looking men, and they pulled their oars as though they had already served in the navy. They supposed the Ionian was really bound to Wilmington; but they could not explain why they had not enlisted at Brooklyn if they desired to do so. The first lieutenant went on board of the ship, and reported to the captain.
Mr. Gwyndale was at once appointed prize-master, with Mr. Tompers as his executive officer, and sent on board with the ten seamen who had been put on board of the Chateaugay expressly for this duty. Several pairs of handcuffs were sent on board of the Ionian, for the first lieutenant apprehended that they would be needed to keep Captain Sawlock and his mate in proper subjection. The papers which had been contained in the tin case were intrusted to the care of Mr. Gwyndale, with the strictest injunction to keep them safely, and deliver them to the government official before any of the Ionian ship's company were permitted to land.
The cutters returned from the prize with all the hands who had been sent from the ship, including Mr. Gilfleur. The prize-master had a sufficient force with him to handle the steamer, and to control the disaffected, if there were any besides the captain and mate. The engineers and firemen were willing to remain and do duty as long as they were paid. In a couple of hours the Ionian started her screw and headed for New York, where she would arrive the next day.
Captain Chantor directed the quartermaster at the wheel to ring one bell, and the Chateaugay began to move again. The events of the day were discussed; but the first business of the ship had been successfully disposed of, and the future was a more inviting field than the past. The captain requested the presence of the two passengers in his cabin, and read to them in full the latest instructions that had been sent off to him.
"Our next duty is to look for the Dornoch, with her six guns and fifty men, and we are not likely to have so soft a time of it as we had with the Ionian," said Captain Chantor, when he had read the letter.
"The Chateaugay is reasonably fast, though she could not hold her own with the Bellevite, or even the Bronx; and you have a pivot gun amidships, and six broadside guns," added Christy.
"Oh, I shall be happy to meet her!" exclaimed the commander. "I don't object to her six guns and fifty men; the only difficulty I can see is in finding her. I am afraid she has already gone into St. George's harbor, and she may not come out for a month."
"Why should she wait all that time?" asked Christy. "Her commander knew nothing about the Ionian, that she was to take in a valuable cargo for her, and she will not wait for her."
"That is true; but I am afraid we shall miss the Ovidio if we remain too long in these waters."
"It seems to me that the Dornoch has had time enough to reach the Bermudas," said Christy. "Possibly she is in port at this moment."
"That is a harassing reflection!" exclaimed the commander.
"I don't see that there is any help for it," added Christy. "You cannot go into the port of St. George's to see if she is there."
"Why not?" asked Mr. Gilfleur, speaking for the first time. "I spent a winter there when I was sick from over-work and exposure; and I know all about the islands."
"That will not help me, Mr. Gilfleur," said the captain, with a smile at what he considered the simplicity of the Frenchman.
"But why can you not go in and see if the Dornoch is there?" inquired the detective.
"Because if I learned that she was about to leave the port, the authorities would not let me sail till twenty-four hours after she had gone."
"You need not wait till she gets ready to leave," suggested the Frenchman.
"She might be ready to sail at the very time I arrived, and then I should lose her. Oh, no; I prefer to take my chance at a marine league from the shore," added the captain, shaking his head.
"Perhaps I might go into Hamilton harbor and obtain the information you need," suggested Mr. Gilfleur, looking very earnest, as though he was thinking of something.
"You!" exclaimed Captain Chantor, looking at him with amazement. "How could you go in without going in the ship?"
"You know that I have a boat on deck," replied the detective quietly.
"But you are not a sailor, sir."
"No, I am not a sailor; but I am a boatman. After I had worked up the biggest case in all my life in Paris,—one that required me to go to London seven times,—I was sick when the bank-robbers were convicted, and the excitement was over. The doctors ordered me to spend the winter in Martinique, and I went to the Bermudas in an English steamer, where I was to take another for my destination; but I liked the islands so well that I remained there all the winter. My principal amusement was boating; and I learned the whole art to perfection. I used to go through the openings in the reefs, and sail out of sight of land. I had a boat like the one on deck."
"Your experience is interesting, but I do not see how it will profit me," said the captain.
"I can go to the Bermudas, obtain the information you want, and return to the Chateaugay," replied Mr. Gilfleur rather impatiently.
"That would be a risky cruise for you, my friend," suggested Captain Chantor, shaking his head in a deprecatory manner.
"I don't think so. I have been outside the reefs many times when the wind blew a gale, and I felt as safe in my boat as I do on board of this ship," said the detective earnestly.
"How would you manage the matter?" asked the commander, beginning to be interested in the project.
"You shall run to the south of the islands, or rather to the south-west, in the night, with all your lights put out, and let me embark there in my boat. You will give me a compass, and I have a sail in the boat. I shall steer to the north-east, and I shall soon see Gibbs Hill light. By that I can make the point on the coast I wish to reach, which is Hogfish Cut. I have been through it twenty times. Once inside the reefs I shall have no difficulty in reaching Hamilton harbor. Then I will take a carriage to St. George's. If I find the Dornoch in the harbor, I will come out the same way I went in, and you will pick me up."
"That looks more practicable than I supposed it could be," added Captain Chantor.
"While I am absent you will be attending to your duty as commander of the Chateaugay, for you will still be on the lookout for your prize," continued the versatile Frenchman. "You can run up twenty or thirty miles to the northward, on the east side of the islands, where all large vessels have to go in."
"How long will it take you to carry out this enterprise, Mr. Gilfleur?"
"Not more than two days; perhaps less time. Do you consent?"
"I will consider it, and give you an answer to-morrow morning," replied Captain Chantor.
"Won't you take me with you, Mr. Gilfleur?" asked Christy, who was much pleased with the idea of such an excursion.
"I should be very happy to have your company, Mr. Passford," replied the detective very promptly, and with a smile on his face which revealed his own satisfaction.
"Are you in earnest, Lieutenant Passford?" demanded the commander, looking with astonishment at his passenger.
"Of course I am: I see no difficulty in the enterprise," replied Christy. "I have had a good deal of experience in sailboats myself, and I do not believe I should be an encumbrance to Mr. Gilfleur; and I may be of some service to him."
"You would be of very great service to me, for you know all about ships, and I do not," the detective added.
"Just as you please, Mr. Passford. You are not under my orders, for you are not attached to the ship," said the captain.
The commander went on deck, and the two passengers retired to Christy's stateroom, where they discussed the enterprise for a couple of hours. In the mean time the Chateaugay was making her best speed, for Captain Chantor did not wish to lose any of his chances by being too late; and he believed that the Dornoch must be fully due at the Bermudas. Before he turned in that night he had altered the course of the ship half a point more to the southward, for he had decided to accept the offer of Mr. Gilfleur; and he wished to go to the west of the islands instead of the east, as he had given out the course at noon.
For two days more the Chateaugay continued on her voyage. At noon the second day he found his ship was directly west of the southern part of the Bermudas, and but fifty miles from them. He shaped his course so as to be at the south of them that night.
A NOTABLE EXPEDITION
The position of the Chateaugay was accurately laid down on the chart fifty miles to the westward of Spears Hill, which is about the geographical centre of the Bermuda Islands. Captain Chantor had invited his two passengers to his cabin for a conference in relation to the proposed enterprise, after the observations had been worked up at noon, on the fourth day after the departure from New York.
"Now, Mr. Gilfleur, if you will indicate the precise point at which you desire to put off in your boat, I will have the ship there at the time you require," said the captain, who had drawn a rough sketch of the islands, and dotted upon it the points he mentioned in his statement.
"Of course you do not wish the ship to be seen from the islands," suggested the detective.
"Certainly not; for if the Dornoch is in port at St. George's that would be warning her to avoid us in coming out, and she might escape by standing off to the northward," replied the commander. "Besides, there might be fishing-craft or other small vessels off the island that would report the ship if she were seen. It is not advisable to go any nearer to the islands till after dark. We will show no lights as we approach your destination."
"How near Gibbs Hill light can you go with safety in the darkness, Captain?" asked Mr. Gilfleur.
"I should not care to go nearer than ten miles; we could not be seen from the shore at that distance, but we might be seen by some small craft."
"That will do very well; and if you will make a point ten miles south-west of Gibbs Hills light, I shall be exactly suited," added the detective, as he made a small cross on the sketch near the place where he desired to embark in the boat.
The conference was finished, and the two passengers went on deck to inspect the craft which was to convey them to the islands. By order of the commander the carpenter had overhauled the boat and made such repairs as were needed. Every open seam had been calked, and a heavy coat of paint had been put upon it. The sailmaker had attended to the jib and mainsail, and everything was in excellent condition for the trip to the shore.
"Is this the same boat that you used when you were in the Bermudas, Mr. Gilfleur?" asked Christy, as they were examining the work which had been done on the craft, its spars and sails.
"Oh, no; it was six years ago that I spent the winter in the islands. I found this boat under a shed on a wharf in New York. It had been picked up near the Great Abaco in the Bahama Islands by a three-master, on her voyage from the West Indies," replied Mr. Gilfleur. "When I had formed my plan of operations in the vicinity of Nassau, in order to obtain the information the government desired, I bought this boat. When picked up, the boat had her spars, sails, oars, water-breakers, and other articles carefully stowed away on board of her; and it appeared as though she had broken adrift from her moorings, or had been carried away by a rising tide from some beach where those in charge of her had landed. I happened to find the captain of the vessel that brought the boat to New York; and he made me pay roundly for her, so that he got well rewarded for his trouble in picking it up."
The Chateaugay stood due south till six o'clock at little more than half speed, and when she came about her dead reckoning indicated that she was seventy-five miles to the south-west of Gibbs Hill light. The weather was very favorable for the proposed enterprise, with a moderate breeze from the west. Mr. Gilfleur did not wish to leave the ship till after midnight, for all he desired was to get inside the outer reefs before daylight. The speed of the ship was regulated to carry out this idea.
The light so frequently mentioned in the conference is three hundred and sixty-two feet above the sea level, for it is built on the highest point of land in the south of the Bermudas, and could be seen at a distance of thirty miles. At three bells in the first watch the light was reported by the lookout, and the speed was reduced somewhat.
About this time the detective came out of his stateroom, and entered that of Christy. He had smeared his face with a brownish tint, which made him look as though he had been long exposed to the sun of the tropics. He was dressed in a suit of coarse material, though it was not the garb of a sailor. He had used the scissors on his long black mustache, and given it a snarly and unkempt appearance. Christy would not have known him if he had met him on shore.