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Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 [1848], Jack Tier, volume 1 (Burgess, Stringer & Co., New York) [word count] [eaf079v1].
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The western wave was all a flame,
The day was well nigh done,
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright sun;
When that strange ship drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the sun.
The Ancient Mariner.

At that hour, on the succeeding morning, when the light
of day is just beginning to chase away the shadows of night,
the Molly Swash became visible within the gloom of the high
land which surrounds so much of the bay of Hempstead,
under easy sail, backing and filling, in order to keep within
her hiding-place, until a look could be had at the state of
things without. Half an hour later, she was so near the
entrance of the estuary, as to enable the look-outs aloft to
ascertain that the coast was clear, when Spike ordered the
helm to be put up, and the brig to be kept away to her
course. At this precise moment, Rose appeared on deck,
refreshed by the sleep of a quiet night; and with cheeks
tinged with a colour even more delicate than that which was
now glowing in the eastern sky, and which was almost as

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“We stopped in this bit of a harbour for the night, Miss
Rose, that is all;” said Spike, observing that his fair passenger
was looking about her, in some little surprise, at
finding the vessel so near the land, and seemingly so much
out of her proper position. “Yes, we always do that, when
we first start on a v'y'ge, and before the brig gets used to
travelling—do n't we, Mr. Mulford?”

Mr. Mulford, who knew how hopeless was the attempt to
mystify Rose, as one might mystify her credulous and weak-minded
aunt, and who had no disposition to deal any way
but fairly by the beautiful, and in one sense now helpless
young creature before him, did not see fit to make any reply.
Offend Spike he did not dare to do, more especially under
present circumstances; and mislead Rose he would not do.
He affected not to hear the question, therefore, but issuing
an order about the head-sails, he walked forward as if to see
it executed. Rose herself was not under as much restraint
as the young mate.

“It is convenient, Captain Spike,” she coolly answered
for Mulford, “to have stopping-places, for vessels that are
wearied, and I remember the time when my uncle used to
tell me of such matters, very much in the same vein; but, it
was before I was twelve years old.”

Spike hemmed, and he looked a little foolish, but Clench,
the boatswain, coming aft to say something to him in confidence,
just at that moment, he was enabled to avoid the
awkwardness of attempting to explain. This man Clench,
or Clinch, as the name was pronounced, was deep in the
captain's secrets; far more so than was his mate, and would
have been filling Mulford's station at that very time, had he
not been hopelessly ignorant of navigation. On the present
occasion, his business was to point out to the captain, two
or three lines of smoke, that were visible above the water
of the Sound, in the eastern board; one of which he was
apprehensive might turn out to be the smoke of the revenue
craft, from which they had so recently escaped.

“Steamers are no rarities in Long Island Sound, Clench,”
observed the captain, levelling his glass at the most suspected
of the smokes. “That must be a Providence, or
Stonington chap, coming west with the Boston train.”

“Either of them would have been further west, by this

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time, Captain Spike,” returned the doubting, but watchful
boatswain. “It's a large smoke, and I fear it is the revenue
fellow coming back, after having had a look well to the
eastward, and satisfying himself that we are not to be had
in that quarter.”

Spike growled out his assent to the possibility of such a
conjecture, and promised vigilance. This satisfied his subordinate
for the moment, and he walked forward, or to the
place where he belonged. In the mean time, the widow
came on deck, smiling, and snuffing the salt air, and ready
to be delighted with anything that was maritime.

“Good morning, Captain Spike,” she cried—“Are we in
the offing, yet?—you know I desired to be told when we are
in the offing, for I intend to write a letter to my poor Mr.
Budd's sister, Mrs. Sprague, as soon as we get to the offing.”

“What is the offing, aunt?” inquired the handsome

“Why you have hardly been at sea long enough to understand
me, child, should I attempt to explain. The offing,
however, is the place where the last letters are always written
to the owners, and to friends ashore. The term comes,
I suppose, from the circumstance that the vessel is about to
be off, and it is natural to think of those we leave behind,
at such a moment. I intend to write to your aunt Sprague,
my dear, the instant I hear we are in the offing; and what
is more, I intend to make you my amanuensis.”

“But how will the letter be sent, aunty?—I have no more
objections to writing than any one else, but I do not see how
the letter is to be sent. Really, the sea is a curious region,
with its stopping-places for the night, and its offings to write
letters at!”

“Yes, it's all as you say, Rose—a most remarkable
region is the sea! You'll admire it, as I admire it, when
you come to know it better; and as your poor uncle admired
it, and as Captain Spike admires it, too. As for the letters,
they can be sent ashore by the pilot, as letters are always

“But, aunty, there is no pilot in the Swash—for Captain
Spike refused to take one on board.”

“Rose!—you don't understand what you are talking
about! No vessel ever yet sailed without a pilot, if indeed

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any can. It's opposed to the law, not to have a pilot; and
now I remember to have heard your dear uncle say it wasn't
a voyage if a vessel didn't take away a pilot.”

“But if they take them away, aunty, how can they send
the letters ashore by them?”

“Poh! poh! child; you don't know what you're saying;
but you'll overlook it, I hope, Captain Spike, for Rose is
quick, and will soon learn to know better. As if letters
couldn't be sent ashore by the pilot, though he was a hundred
thousand miles from land! But, Captain Spike, you
must let me know when we are about to get off the Sound,
for I know that the pilot is always sent ashore with his letters,
before the vessel gets off the Sound.”

“Yes, yes,” returned the captain, a little mystified by
the widow, though he knew her so well, and understood her
so well—“you shall know, ma'am, when we get off soundings,
for I suppose that is what you mean.”

“What is the difference? Off the Sound, or off the
soundings, of course, must mean the same thing. But,
Rosy, we will go below and write to your aunt at once, for
I see a light-house yonder, and light-houses are always put
just off the soundings.”

Rose, who always suspected her aunt's nautical talk,
though she did not know how to correct it, and was not
sorry to put an end to it, now, by going below, and spreading
her own writing materials, in readiness to write, as the
other dictated. Biddy Noon was present, sewing on some
of her own finery.

“Now write, as I tell you, Rose,” commenced the widow—

“My dear sister Sprague—Here we are, at last, just off
the soundings, with light-houses all round us, and so many
capes and islands in sight, that it does seem as if the vessel
never could find its way through them all. Some of these
islands must be the West Indies”—

“Aunty, that can never be!” exclaimed Rose—“we left
New York only yesterday.”

“What of that? Had it been old times, I grant you
several days might be necessary to get a sight of the West
Indies, but, now, when a letter can be written to a friend in
Boston, and an answer received in half an hour, it requires
no such time to go to the West Indies. Besides, what other

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islands are there in this part of the world?—they can't be

“No—no,”—said Rose, at once seeing it would be preferable
to admit they were the West Indies; so the letter
went on:—

“Some of these islands must be the West Indies, and it
is high time we saw some of them, for we are nearly off
the Sound, and the light-houses are getting to be quite
numerous. I think we have already seen four since we left
the wharf. But, my dear sister Sprague, you will be delighted
to hear how much better Rose's health is already

“My health, aunty! Why, I never knew an ill day in
my life!”

“Don't tell me that, my darling; I know too well what
all these deceptive appearances of health amount to. I
would not alarm you for the world, Rosy dear, but a careful
parent—and I'm your parent in affection, if not by nature—
but a careful parent's eye is not to be deceived. I know
you look well, but you are ill, my child; though, Heaven
be praised, the sea air and hydropathy are already doing
you a monstrous deal of good.”

As Mrs. Budd concluded, she wiped her eyes, and appeared
really glad that her niece had a less consumptive
look than when she embarked. Rose sat, gazing at her
aunt, in mute astonishment. She knew how much and
truly she was beloved, and that induced her to be more
tolerant of her connection's foibles than even duty demanded.
Feeling was blended with her respect, but it was almost too
much for her, to learn that this long, and in some respects
painful voyage, was undertaken on her account, and without
the smallest necessity for it. The vexation, however, would
have been largely increased, but for certain free communications
that had occasionally occurred between her and the
handsome mate, since the moment of her coming on board
the brig. Rose knew that Harry Mulford loved her, too,
for he had told her as much with a seaman's frankness;
and though she had never let him know that his partiality
was returned, her woman's heart was fast inclining toward
him, with all her sex's tenderness. This made the mistake

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of her aunt tolerable, though Rose was exceedingly vexed
it should ever have occurred.

“Why, my dearest aunt,” she cried, “they told me it
was on your account that this voyage was undertaken!”

“I know they did, poor, dear Rosy, and that was in order
not to alarm you. Some persons of delicate constitutions—”

“But my constitution is not in the least delicate, aunt;
on the contrary, it is as good as possible; a blessing for
which, I trust, I am truly grateful, I did not know but you
might be suffering, though you do look so well, for they all
agreed in telling me you had need of a sea-voyage.”

“I, a subject for hydropathy! Why, child, water is no
more necessary to me than it is to a cat.”

“But going to sea, aunty, is not hydropathy—”

“Don't say that, Rosy; do not say that, my dear. It is
hydropathy on a large scale, as Captain Spike says; and
when he gets us into blue water, he has promised that you
shall have all the benefits of the treatment.”

Rose was silent and thoughtful; after which she spoke
quickly, like one to whom an important thought had suddenly

“And Captain Spike, then, was consulted in my case?”
she asked.

“He was, my dear, and you have every reason to be
grateful to him. He was the first to discover a change in
your appearance, and to suggest a sea voyage. Marine
Hydropathy, he said, he was sure would get you up again;
for Captain Spike thinks your constitution good at the bottom,
though the high colour you have proves too high a state of
habitual excitement.”

“Was Dr. Monson consulted at all, aunt?”

“Not at all. You know the doctors are all against hydropathy,
and mesmerism, and the magnetic telegraph, and
everything that is new; so we thought it best not to consult

“And my aunt Sprague?”

“Yes, she was consulted after everything was settled, and
when I knew her notions could not undo what had been
already done. But she is a seaman's widow, as well as
myself, and has a great notion of the virtue of sea air.”

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“Then it would seem that Doctor Spike was the principal
adviser in my case!”

“I own that he was, Rosy dear. Captain Spike was
brought up by your uncle, who has often told me what a
thorough seaman he was. `There's Spike, now,' he said
to me one day, `he can almost make his brig talk'—this
very brig too, your uncle meant, Rosy, and, of course, one
of the best vessels in the world to take hydropathy in.”

“Yes, aunty,” returned Rose, playing with the pen, while
her air proved how little her mind was in her words.
“Well, what shall I say next to my aunt Sprague?”

“Rose's health is already becoming confirmed,” resumed
the widow, who thought it best to encourage her niece by
as strong terms as she could employ, “and I shall extol
hydropathy to the skies, as long as I live. As soon as we
reach our port of destination, my dear sister Sprague, I
shall write you a line to let you know it, by the magnetic

“But there is no magnetic telegraph on the sea, aunty,”
interrupted Rose, looking up from the paper, with her clear,
serene, blue eyes, expressing even her surprise, at this touch
of the relict's ignorance.

“Don't tell me that, Rosy, child, when everybody says
the sparks will fly round the whole earth, just as soon as
they will fly from New York to Philadelphia.”

“But they must have something to fly on, aunty; and
the ocean will not sustain wires, or posts.”

“Well, there is no need of being so particular; if there
is no telegraph, the letter must come by mail. You can say
telegraph, here, and when your aunt gets the letter, the postmark
will tell her how it came. It looks better to talk
about telegraphic communications, child.”

Rose resumed her pen, and wrote at her aunt's dictation,
as follows:—“By the magnetic telegraph, when I hope to
be able to tell you that our dear Rose is well. As yet, we
both enjoy the ocean exceedingly; but when we get off the
Sound, into blue water, and have sent the pilot ashore, or
discharged him, I ought to say, which puts me in mind of
telling you that a cannon was discharged at us only last
night, and that the ball whistled so near me, that I heard it
as plain as ever you heard Rose's piano.”

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“Had I not better first tell my aunt Sprague what is to
be done when the pilot is discharged?”

“No; tell her about the cannon that was discharged,
first, and about the ball that I heard. I had almost forgot
that adventure, which was a very remarkable one, was it
not, Biddy?”

“Indeed, Missus, and it was! and Miss Rose might put
in the letter how we both screamed at that cannon, and
might have been heard as plainly, every bit of it, as the

“Say nothing on the subject, Rose, or we shall never
hear the last of it. So, darling, you may conclude in your
own way, for I believe I have told your aunt all that comes
to mind.”

Rose did as desired, finishing the epistle in a very few
words, for, rightly enough, she had taken it into her head
there was no pilot to be discharged, and consequently that the
letter would never be sent. Her short but frequent conferences
with Mulford were fast opening her eyes, not to say her
heart, and she was beginning to see Captain Spike in his true
character, which was that of a great scoundrel. It is true, that
the mate had not long judged his commander quite so harshly;
but had rather seen his beautiful brig, and her rare qualities,
in her owner and commander, than the man himself; but
jealousy had quickened his observation of late, and Stephen
Spike had lost ground sensibly with Harry Mulford, within
the last week. Two or three times before, the young man
had thought of seeking another berth, on account of certain
distrusts of Spike's occupations; but he was poor, and so
long as he remained in the Swash, Harry's opportunities of
meeting Rose were greatly increased. This circumstance,
indeed, was the secret of his still being in the “Molly,” as
Spike usually called his craft; the last voyage having excited
suspicions that were rather of a delicate nature. Then
the young man really loved the brig, which, if she could
not be literally made to talk, could be made to do almost
everything else. A vessel, and a small vessel, too, is rather
contracted as to space, but those who wish to converse can
contrive to speak together often, even in such narrow limits.
Such had been the fact with Rose Budd and the handsome
mate. Twenty times since they sailed, short as that time

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was, had Mulford contrived to get so near to Rose, as to talk
with her, unheard by others. It is true, that he seldom
ventured to do this, so long as the captain was in sight, but
Spike was often below, and opportunities were constantly
occurring. It was in the course of these frequent but brief
conversations, that Harry had made certain dark hints
touching the character of his commander, and the known
recklessness of his proceedings. Rose had taken the alarm,
and fully comprehending her aunt's mental imbecility, her
situation was already giving her great uneasiness. She had
some undefined hopes from the revenue steamer; though,
strangely enough as it appeared to her, her youngest and
most approved suitor betrayed a strong desire to escape from
that craft, at the very moment he was expressing his apprehensions
on account of her presence in the brig. This contradiction
arose from a certain esprit de corps, which seldom
fails, more or less, to identify the mariner with his ship.

But the writing was finished, and the letter sealed with
wax, Mrs. Budd being quite as particular in that ceremony
as Lord Nelson, when the females again repaired on deck.
They found Spike and his mate sweeping the eastern part
of the Sound with their glasses, with a view to look out for
enemies; or, what to them, just then, was much the same
thing, government craft. In this occupation, Rose was a
little vexed to see that Mulford was almost as much interested
as Spike himself, the love of his vessel seemingly overcoming
his love for her, if not his love of the right—she
knew of no reason, however, why the captain should dread
any other vessel, and felt sufficiently provoked to question
him a little on the subject, if it were only to let him see that
the niece was not as completely his dupe as the aunt. She
had not been on deck five minutes, therefore, during which
time several expressions had escaped the two sailors touching
their apprehensions of vessels seen in the distance, ere she
commenced her inquiries.

“And why should we fear meeting with other vessels?”
Rose plainly demanded—“here in Long Island Sound, and
within the power of the laws of the country?”

“Fear?” exclaimed Spike, a little startled, and a good
deal surprised at this straight-forward question—“Fear,
Miss Rose! You do not think we are afraid, though there

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are many reasons why we do not wish to be spoken by certain
craft that are hovering about. In the first place, you
know it is war time—I suppose you know, Madam Budd,
that America is at war with Mexico?”

“Certainly,” answered the widow, with dignity—“and
that is a sufficient reason, Rose, why one vessel should
chase, and another should run. If you had heard your
poor uncle relate, as I have done, all his chasings and runnings
away, in the war times, child, you would understand
these things better. Why, I've heard your uncle say that,
in some of his long voyages, he has run thousands and
thousands of miles, with sails set on both sides, and all over
his ship!”

“Yes, aunty, and so have I, but that was `running before
the wind,' as he used to call it.”

“I s'pose, however, Miss Rose,” put in Spike, who saw
that the niece would soon get the better of the aunt;—“I
s'pose, Miss Rose, that you'll acknowledge that America is
at war with Mexico?”

“I am sorry to say that such is the fact, but I remember
to have heard you say, yourself, Captain Spike, when my
aunt was induced to undertake this voyage, that you did not
consider there was the smallest danger from any Mexicans.”

“Yes, you did, Captain Spike,” added the aunt—“you
did say there was no danger from Mexicans.”

“Nor is there a bit, Madam Budd, if Miss Rose, and
your honoured self, will only hear me. There is no danger,
because the brig has the heels of anything Mexico can send
to sea. She has sold her steamers, and, as for anything
else under her flag, I would not care a straw.”

“The steamer from which we ran, last evening, and
which actually fired off a cannon at us, was not Mexican,
but American,” said Rose, with a pointed manner that put
Spike to his trumps.

“Oh! that steamer—” he stammered—“that was a race—
only a race, Miss Rose, and I wouldn't let her come near
me, for the world. I should never hear the last of it, in the
insurance offices, and on 'change, did I let her overhaul
us. You see, Miss Rose—you see, Madam Budd—” Spike
ever found it most convenient to address his mystifying discourse
to the aunt, in preference to addressing it to the niece

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—“You see, Madam Budd, the master of that craft and I
are old cronies—sailed together when boys, and set great
store by each other. We met only last evening, just a'ter
I had left your own agreeable mansion, Madam Budd, and
says he, `Spike, when do you sail?' `To-morrow's flood,
Jones,' says I—his name is Jones;—Peter Jones, and as
good a fellow as ever lived. `Do you go by the Hook, or
by Hell-Gate—' ”

“Hurl-Gate, Captain Spike, if you please—or Whirl-Gate,
which some people think is the true sound; but the
other way of saying it is awful.”

“Well, the captain, my old master, always called it Hell-Gate,
and I learned the trick from him—”

“I know he did, and so do all sailors; but genteel people,
now-a-days, say nothing but Hurl-Gate, or Whirl-Gate.”

Rose smiled at this; as did Mulford; but neither said anything,
the subject having once before been up between them.
As for ourselves, we are still so old-fashioned as to say, and
write, Hell-Gate, and intend so to do, in spite of all the
Yankees that have yet passed through it, or who ever shall
pass through it, and that is saying a great deal. We do
not like changing names to suit their uneasy spirits.

“Call the place Hurl-Gate, and go on with your story,”
said the widow, complacently.

“Yes, Madam Budd—`Do you go by the Hook, or by
Whirl-Gate?' said Jones. `By Whirl-a-Gig-Gate,' says I.
`Well,' says he, `I shall go through the Gate myself, in the
course of the morning. We may meet somewhere to the
eastward, and, if we do, I'll bet you a beaver,' says he,
`that I show you my stern.' `Agreed,' says I, and we
shook hands upon it. That's the whole history of our
giving the steamer the slip, last night, and of my not wishing
to let her speak me.”

“But you went into a bay, and let her go past you,” said
Rose, coolly enough as to manner, but with great point as
to substance. “Was not that a singular way of winning a

“It does seem so, Miss Rose, but it's all plain enough,
when understood. I found that steam was too much for
sails, and I stood up into the bay to let them run past us,
in hopes they would never find out the trick. I care as little

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for a hat as any man, but I do care a good deal about having
it reported on 'change that the Molly was beat, by even a

This ended the discourse for the moment, Clench again
having something to say to his captain in private.

“How much of that explanation am I to believe, and
how much disbelieve?” asked Rose, the instant she was left
alone with Harry. “If it be all invention, it was a ready
and ingenious story.”

“No part of it is true. He no more expected that the
steamer would pass through Hell-Gate, than I expected it
myself. There was no bet, or race, therefore; but it was
our wish to avoid Uncle Sam's cruiser, that was all.”

“And why should you wish any such thing?”

“On my honour, I can give you no better reason, so far
as I am concerned, than the fact that, wishing to keep clear
of her, I do not like to be overhauled. Nor can I tell you
why Spike is so much in earnest in holding the revenue
vessel at arm's length; I know he dislikes all such craft, as
a matter of course, but I can see no particular reason for it
just now. A more innocent cargo was never stuck into a
vessel's hold.”

“What is it?”

“Flour; and no great matter of that. The brig is not
half full, being just in beautiful ballast trim, as if ready for
a race. I can see no sufficient reason, beyond native antipathy,
why Captain Spike should wish to avoid any craft,
for it is humbug his dread of a Mexican, and least of all,
here, in Long Island Sound. All that story about Jones is
a tub for whales.”

“Thank you for the allusion; my aunt and myself being
the whales.”

“You know I do mean—can mean nothing, Rose, that is
disrespectful to either yourself or your aunt.”

Rose looked up, and she looked pleased. Then she
mused in silence, for some time, when she again spoke.

“Why have you remained another voyage with such a
man, Harry?” she asked, earnestly.

“Because, as his first officer, I have had access to your
house, when I could not have had it otherwise; and because
I have apprehended that he might persuade Mrs. Budd, as

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he had boasted to me it was his intention to do, to make
this voyage.”

Rose now looked grateful; and deeply grateful did she
feel, and had reason to feel. Harry had concealed no portion
of his history from her. Like herself, he was a ship-master's
child, but one better educated and better connected
than was customary for the class. His father had paid a
good deal of attention to the youth's early years, but had
made a seaman of him, out of choice. The father had lost
his all, however, with his life, in a shipwreck; and Harry
was thrown upon his own resources, at the early age of
twenty. He had made one or two voyages as a second
mate, when chance threw him in Spike's way, who, pleased
with some evidences of coolness and skill, that he had
shown in a foreign port, on the occasion of another loss,
took him as his first officer; in which situation he had remained
ever since, partly from choice and partly from necessity.
On the other hand, Rose had a fortune; by no
means a large one, but several thousands in possession, from
her own father, and as many more in reversion from her
uncle. It was this money, taken in connection with the
credulous imbecility of the aunt, that had awakened the
cupidity, and excited the hopes of Spike. After a life of
lawless adventure, one that had been chequered by every
shade of luck, he found himself growing old, with his brig
growing old with him, and little left beside his vessel and
the sort of half cargo that was in her hold. Want of means,
indeed, was the reason that the flour-barrels were not more

Rose heard Mulford's explanation favourably, as indeed
she heard most of that which came from him, but did not
renew the discourse, Spike's conference with the boatswain
just then terminating. The captain now came aft, and
began to speak of the performances of his vessel in a way
to show that he took great pride in them.

“We are travelling at the rate of ten knots, Madam Budd,”
he said exultingly, “and that will take us clear of the land,
before night shuts in ag'in. Montauk is a good place for
an offing; I ask for no better.”

“Shall we then have two offings, this voyage, Captain
Spike?” asked Rose, a little sarcastically. “If we are in

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the offing now, and are to be in the offing when we reach
Montauk, there must be two such places.”

“Rosy, dear, you amaze me!” put in the aunt. “There
is no offing until the pilot is discharged, and when he's discharged
there is nothing but offing. It's all offing. On the
Sound, is the first great change that befalls a vessel as she
goes to sea; then comes the offing; next the pilot is discharged—
then—then—what comes next, Captain Spike?”

“Then the vessel takes her departure—an old navigator
like yourself, Madam Budd, ought not to forget the departure.”

“Quite true, sir. The departure is a very important
portion of a seaman's life. Often and often have I heard
my poor dear Mr. Budd talk about his departures. His
departures, and his offings and his—”

“Land-falls,” added Spike, perceiving that the ship-master's
relict was a little at fault.

“Thank you, sir; the hint is quite welcome. His land-falls,
also, were often in his mouth.”

“What is a land-fall, aunty?” inquired Rose—“It appears
a strange term to be used by one who lives on the

“Oh! there is no end to the curiosities of sailors! A
`land-fall,' my dear, means a shipwreck, of course. To
fall on the land, and a very unpleasant fall it is, when a
vessel should keep on the water. I've heard of dreadful
land-falls in my day, in which hundreds of souls have been
swept into eternity, in an instant.”

“Yes; yes, Madam Budd—there are such accidents
truly, and serious things be they to encounter,” answered
Spike, hemming a little to clear his throat, as was much his
practice whenever the widow ran into any unusually extravagant
blunder; “yes, serious things to encounter. But
the land-fall that I mean is a different sort of thing; being,
as you well know, what we say when we come in sight of
land, a'ter a v'y'ge; or, meaning the land we may happen
first to see. The departure is the beginning of our calculation
when we lose sight of the last cape or headland,
and the land-fall closes it, by letting us know where we are,
at the other end of our journey, as you probably remember.”

“Is there not such a thing as clearing out in navigation?”

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asked Rose, quickly, willing to cover a little confusion that
was manifest in her aunt's manner.

“Not exactly in navigation, Miss Rose, but clearing out,
with honest folk, ought to come first, and navigation a'terwards.
Clearing out means going through the Custom-House,
accordin' to law.”

“And the Molly Swash has cleared out, I hope?”

“Sartain—a more lawful clearance was never given in
Wall Street; it's for Key West and a market. I did think
of making it Havana and a market, but port-charges are
lightest at Key West.”

“Then Key West is the place to which we are bound?”

“It ought to be, agreeable to papers; though vessels
sometimes miss the ports for which they clear.”

Rose put no more questions; and her aunt, being conscious
that she had not appeared to advantage in the affair
of the “land-fall,” was also disposed to be silent. Spike
and Mulford had their attention drawn to the vessel, and the
conversation dropped.

The reader can readily suppose that the Molly Swash
had not been standing still all this time. So far from this,
she was running “down Sound,” with the wind on her
quarter, or at south-west, making great head-way, as she
was close under the south shore, or on the island side of the
water she was in. The vessel had no other motion than
that of her speed, and the females escaped everything like
sea-sickness, for the time being. This enabled them to
attend to making certain arrangements necessary to their
comforts below, previously to getting into rough water. In
acquitting herself of this task, Rose received much useful
advice from Josh, though his new assistant, Jack Tier,
turned out to be a prize indeed, in the cabins. The first
was only a steward; but the last proved himself not only
a handy person of his calling, but one full of resources—a
genius, in his way. Josh soon became so sensible of his
own inferiority, in contributing to the comforts of females,
that he yielded the entire management of the “ladies'
cabin,” as a little place that might have been ten feet square,
was called, to his uncouth-looking, but really expert deputy.
Jack waddled about below, as if born and brought up in
such a place, and seemed every way fitted for his office. In

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height, and in build generally, there was a surprising conformity
between the widow and the steward's deputy, a circumstance
which might induce one to think they must often
have been in each other's way, in a space so small; though, in
point of fact, Jack never ran foul of any one. He seemed
to avoid this inconvenience by a species of nautical instinct.

Towards the turn of the day, Rose had everything arranged,
and was surprised to find how much room she had
made for her aunt and herself, by means of Jack's hints,
and how much more comfortable it was possible to be, in
that small cabin, than she had at first supposed.

After dinner, Spike took his siesta. He slept in a little
state-room that stood on the starboard side of the quarter-deck,
quite aft; as Mulford did in one on the larboard.
These two state-rooms were fixtures; but a light deck overhead,
which connected them, shipped and unshipped, forming
a shelter for the man at the wheel, when in its place, as
well as for the officer of the watch, should he see fit to use
it, in bad weather. This sort of cuddy, Spike termed his

The captain had no sooner gone into his state-room, and
closed its window, movements that were understood by
Mulford, than the latter took occasion to intimate to Rose,
by means of Jack Tier, the state of things on deck, when
the young man was favoured with the young lady's company.

“He has turned in for his afternoon's nap, and will sleep
for just one hour, blow high, or blow low,” said the mate,
placing himself at Rose's side on the trunk, which formed
the usual seat for those who could presume to take the
liberty of sitting down on the quarter-deck. “It's a habit
with him, and we can count on it, with perfect security.”

“His doing so, now, is a sign that he has no immediate
fears of the revenue steamer?”

“The coast is quite clear of her. We have taken good
looks at every smoke, but can see nothing that appears like
our late companion. She has doubtless gone to the eastward,
on duty, and merely chased us, on her road.”

“But why should she chase us, at all?”

“Because we ran. Let a dog run, or a man run, or a
cat run, ten to one but something starts in chase. It is

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human nature, I believe, to give chase; though I will admit
there was something suspicious about that steamer's movements—
her anchoring off the Fort, for instance. But let
her go, for the present; are you getting things right, and to
your mind, below decks?”

“Very much so. The cabin is small, and the two state-rooms
the merest drawers that ever were used, but, by putting
everything in its place, we have made sufficient room,
and no doubt shall be comfortable.”

“I am sorry you did not call on me for assistance. The
mate has a prescriptive right to help stow away.”

“We made out without your services,” returned Rose,
slightly blushing—“Jack Tier, as he is called, Josh's assistant,
is a very useful person, and has been our adviser
and manager. I want no better for such services.”

“He is a queer fellow, all round. Take him altogether, I
hardly ever saw so droll a being! As thick as he's long,
with a waddle like a duck, a voice that is cracked, hair like
bristles, and knee high; the man might make a fortune as
a show. Tom Thumb is scarcely a greater curiosity.”

“He is singular in `build,' as you call it,” returned Rose,
laughing, “but, I can assure you that he is a most excellent
fellow in his way—worth a dozen of Josh. Do you know,
Harry, that I suspect he has strong feelings towards Captain
Spike; though whether of like or dislike, friendship or enmity,
I am at a loss to say.”

“And why do you think that he has any feeling at all?
I have heard Spike say he left the fellow ashore, somewhere
down on the Spanish Main, or in the Islands, quite twenty
years since; but a sailor would scarce carry a grudge so
long a time, for such a thing as that.”

“I do not know—but feeling there is, and much of it,
too; though, whether hostile or friendly, I will not undertake
to say.”

“I'll look to the chap, now you tell me this. It is a little
odd, the manner in which he got on board us, taken in connection
with the company he was in, and a discovery may
be made. Here he is, however; and, as I keep the keys of
the magazine, he can do us no great harm, unless he scuttles
the brig.”

“Magazine! Is there such a thing here?”

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“To be sure there is, and ammunition enough in it to
keep eight carronades in lively conversation for a couple of

“A carronade is what you call a gun, is it not?”

“A piece of a one—being somewhat short, like your
friend, Jack Tier, who is shaped a good deal like a carronade.”

Rose smiled—nay, half laughed, for Harry's pleasantries
almost took the character of wit in her eyes, but she
did not the less pursue her inquiries.

“Guns! And where are they, if they be on this vessel?”

“Do not use such a lubberly expression, my dear Rose,
if you respect your father's profession. On a vessel, is a
new-fangled Americanism, that is neither fish, flesh, nor
red-herring, as we sailors say—neither English nor Greek.”

“What should I say, then? My wish is not to parade
sea-talk, but to use it correctly, when I use it at all.”

“The expression is hardly `sea-talk,' as you call it, but
every-day English—that is, when rightly used. On a vessel
is no more English than it is nautical—no sailor ever used
such an expression.”

“Tell me what I ought to say, and you will find me a
willing, if not an apt scholar. I am certain of having often
read it, in the newspapers, and that quite lately.”

“I'll answer for that, and it's another proof of its being
wrong. In a vessel is as correct as in a coach, and on a
vessel as wrong as can be; but you can say on board a
vessel, though not `on the boards of a vessel;' as Mrs. Budd
has it.”

“Mr. Mulford!”

“I beg a thousand pardons, Rose, and will offend no
more—though she does make some very queer mistakes!”

“My aunt thinks it an honour to my uncle's memory, to
be able to use the language of his professional life, and if
she does sometimes make mistakes that are absurd, it is
with motives so respectable that no sailor should deride

“I am rebuked for ever. Mrs. Budd may call the anchor
a silver spoon, hereafter, without my even smiling. But if
the aunt has this kind remembrance of a seaman's life, why
cannot the niece think equally well of it?”

“Perhaps she does,” returned Rose, smiling again—

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“seeing all its attractions through the claims of Captain

“I think half the danger from him gone, now that you
seem so much on your guard. What an odious piece of
deception, to persuade Mrs. Budd that you were fast falling
into a decline!”

“One so odious that I shall surely quit the brig at the
first port we enter, or even in the first suitable vessel that
we may speak.”

“And Mrs. Budd—could you persuade her to such a

“You scarce know us, Harry Mulford. My aunt commands,
when there is no serious duty to perform, but we
change places when there is. I can persuade her to anything
that is right, in ten minutes.”

“You might persuade a world!” cried Harry, with strong
admiration expressed in his countenance; after which he
began to converse with Rose, on a subject so interesting to
themselves, that we do not think it prudent to relate any
more of the discourse, forgetting all about the guns.

About four o'clock, of a fine summer's afternoon, the
Swash went through the Race, on the best of the ebb, and
with a staggering south-west wind. Her movement by the
land, just at that point, could not have been less than at the
rate of fifteen miles in the hour. Spike was in high spirits,
for his brig had got on famously that day, and there was
nothing in sight to the eastward. He made no doubt, as he
had told his mate, that the steamer had gone into the Vineyard
Sound, and that she was bound over the shoals.

“They want to make political capital out of her,” he
added, using one of the slang phrases, that the “business
habits” of the American people are so rapidly incorporating
with the common language of the country—“They want
to make political capital out of her, Harry, and must show
her off to the Boston folk, who are full of notions. Well,
let them turn her to as much account in that way as they
please, so long as they keep her clear of the Molly. Your
sarvant, Madam Budd”—addressing the widow, who just at
that moment came on deck—“a fine a'ternoon, and likely
to be a clear night to run off the coast in.”

“Clear nights are desirable, and most of all at sea,

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Captain Spike,” returned the relict, in her best, complacent
manner, “whether it be to run off a coast, or to run on a
coast. In either case, a clear night, or a bright moon must
be useful.”

Captain Spike rolled his tobacco over in his mouth, and
cast a furtive glance at the mate, but he did not presume to
hazard any further manifestations of his disposition to laugh.

“Yes, Madam Budd,” he answered, “it is quite as you
say, and I am only surprised where you have picked up so
much of what I call useful nautical knowledge.”

“We live and learn, sir. You will recollect that this is
not my first voyage, having made one before, and that I
passed a happy, happy, thirty years, in the society of my
poor, dear husband, Rose's uncle. One must have been
dull, indeed, not to have picked up, from such a companion,
much of a calling that was so dear to him, and the particulars
of which were so very dear to him. He actually gave
me lessons in the `sea dialect,' as he called it, which probably
is the true reason I am so accurate and general in
my acquisitions.”

“Yes, Madam Budd—yes—hem—you are—yes, you are
wonderful in that way. We shall soon get an offing, now,
Madam Budd—yes, soon get an offing, now.”

“And take in our departure, Captain Spike—” added the
widow, with a very intelligent smile.

“Yes, take our departure. Montauk is yonder, just
coming in sight; only some three hours' run from this spot.
When we get there, the open ocean will lie before us; and
give me the open sea, and I'll not call the king my uncle.”

“Was he your uncle, Captain Spike?”

“Only in a philanthropic way, Madam Budd. Yes, let
us get a good offing, and a rapping to'gallant breeze, and I
do not think I should care much for two of Uncle Sam's
new-fashioned revenue craft, one on each side of me.”

“How delightful do I find such conversation, Rose! It's
as much like your poor, dear uncle's, as one pea is like another.
`Yes,' he used to say, too, `let me only have one
on each side of me, and a wrapper round the topgallant
sail to hold the breeze, and I'd not call the king my uncle.'
Now I think of it, he used to talk about the king as his
uncle, too.”

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“It was all talk, aunty. He had no uncle, and, what is
more, he had no king.”

“That's quite true, Miss Rose,” rejoined Spike, attempting
a bow, which ended in a sort of jerk. “It is not very
becoming in us republicans to be talking of kings, but a
habit is a habit. Our forefathers had kings, and we drop
into their ways without thinking of what we are doing.
Fore-topgallant yard, there?”


“Keep a bright look-out, ahead. Let me know the instant
you make anything in the neighbourhood of Montauk.”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“As I was saying, Madam Budd, we seamen drop into
our forefathers' ways. Now, when I was a youngster, I
remember, one day, that we fell in with a ketch—you know,
Miss Rose, what a ketch is, I suppose?”

“I have not the least notion of it, sir.”

“Rosy, you amaze me!” exclaimed the aunt—“and you
a ship-master's niece, and a ship-master's daughter! A
catch is a trick that sailors have, when they quiz landsmen.”

“Yes, Madam Budd, yes; we have them sort of catches,
too; but I now mean the vessel with a peculiar rig, which
we call a ketch, you know.”

“Is it the full-jigger, or the half-jigger sort, that you

Spike could hardly stand this, and he had to hail the top-gallant-yard
again, in order to keep the command of his
muscles, for he saw by the pretty frown that was gathering
on the brow of Rose, that she was regarding the matter a
little seriously. Luckily, the answer of the man on the
yard diverted the mind of the widow from the subject, and
prevented the necessity of any reply.

“There's a light, of course, sir, on Montauk, is there
not, Captain Spike?” demanded the seaman who was aloft.

“To be sure there is—every head-land, hereabouts, has
its light; and some have two.”

“Ay, ay, sir—it's that which puzzles me; I think I see
one light-house, and I'm not certain but I see two.”

“If there is anything like a second, it must be a sail.
Montauk has but one light.”

Mulford sprang into the fore-rigging, and in a minute was

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on the yard. He soon came down, and reported the light-house
in sight, with the afternoon's sun shining on it, but no
sail near.

“My poor, dear Mr. Budd used to tell a story of his being
cast away on a light-house, in the East Indies,” put in the
relict, as soon as the mate had ended his report, “which
always affected me. It seems there were three ships of
them together, in an awful tempest directly off the land—”

“That was comfortable, any how,” cried Spike;—“if it
must blow hard, let it come off the land, say I.”

“Yes, sir, it was directly off the land, as my poor husband
always said, which made it so much the worse you
must know, Rosy; though Captain Spike's gallant spirit
would rather encounter danger than not. It blew what they
call a Hyson, in the Chinese seas—”

“A what, aunty?—Hyson is the name of a tea, you

“A Hyson, I'm pretty sure it was; and I suppose the
wind is named after the tea, or the tea after the wind.”

“The ladies do get in a gale, sometimes, over their tea,”
said Spike gallantly. “But I rather think Madam Budd
must mean a Typhoon.”

“That's it—a Typhoon, or a Hyson—there is not much
difference between them, you see. Well, it blew a Typhoon,
and they are always mortal to somebody. This my poor
Mr. Budd well knew, and he had set his chronometer for
that Typhoon—”

“Excuse me, aunty, it was the barometer that he was
watching—the chronometer was his watch.”

“So it was—his watch on deck was his chronometer, I
declare. I am forgetting a part of my education. Do you
know the use of a chronometer, now, Rose? You have
seen your uncle's often, but do you know how he used it?”

“Not in the least, aunty. My uncle often tried to explain
it, but I never could understand him.”

“It must have been, then, because Captain Budd did not
try to make himself comprehended,” said Mulford, “for I
feel certain nothing would be easier than to make you understand
the uses of the chronometer.”

“I should like to learn it from you, Mr. Mulford,” answered
the charming girl, with an emphasis so slight on the

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`you,' that no one observed it but the mate, but which was
clear enough to him, and caused every nerve to thrill.

“I can attempt it,” answered the young man, “if it be
agreeable to Mrs. Budd, who would probably like to hear it

“Certainly, Mr. Mulford; though I fancy you can say
little on such a subject that I have not often heard already,
from my poor, dear Mr. Budd.”

“This was not very encouraging, truly; but Rose continuing
to look interested, the mate proceeded.

“The use of the chronometer is to ascertain the longitude,”
said Harry, “and the manner of doing it is, simply
this: A chronometer is nothing more nor less than a watch,
made with more care than usual, so as to keep the most
accurate time. They are of all sizes, from that of a clock,
down to this which I wear in my fob, and which is a watch
in size and appearance. Now, the nautical almanacs are all
calculated to some particular meridian—”

“Yes,” interrupted the relict, “Mr. Budd had a great
deal to say about meridians.”

“That of London, or Greenwich, being the meridian
used by those who use the English Almanacs, and those of
Paris or St. Petersburg, by the French and Russians. Each
of these places has an observatory, and chronometers that
are kept carefully regulated, the year round. Every chronometer
is set by the regulator of the particular observatory
or place to which the almanac used is calculated.”

“How wonderfully like my poor, dear Mr. Budd, all this
is, Rosy! Meridians, and calculated, and almanacs! I
could almost think I heard your uncle entertaining me with
one of his nautical discussions, I declare!”

“Now the sun rises earlier in places east, than in places
west of us.”

“It rises earlier in the summer, but later in the winter,
everywhere, Mr. Mulford.”

“Yes, my dear Madam; but the sun rises earlier every
day, in London, than it does in New York.”

“That is impossible,” said the widow, dogmatically—
“Why should not the sun rise at the same time in England
and America?”

“Because England is east of America, aunty. The sun

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does not move, you know, but only appears to us to move,
because the earth turns round from west to east, which
causes those who are farthest east to see it first. That is
what Mr. Mulford means.”

“Rose has explained it perfectly well,” continued the
mate. “Now the earth is divided into 360 degrees, and
the day is divided into 24 hours. If 360 be divided by 24,
the quotient will be 15. If follows that, for each fifteen
degrees of longitude, there is a difference of just one hour
in the rising of the sun, all over the earth, where it rises at
all. New York is near five times 15 degrees west of Greenwich,
and the sun consequently rises five hours later at
New York than at London.”

“There must be a mistake in this, Rosy,” said the relict,
in a tone of desperate resignation, in which the desire to
break out in dissent, was struggling oddly enough with an
assumed dignity of deportment. “I've always heard that
the people of London are some of the latest in the world.
Then, I've been in London, and know that the sun rises in
New York, in December, a good deal earlier than it does in
London, by the clock—yes, by the clock.”

“True enough, by the clock, Mrs. Budd, for London is
more than ten degrees north of New York, and the farther
north you go, the later the sun rises in winter, and the
earlier in summer.”

The relict merely shrugged her shoulders, as much as to
say that she knew no such thing; but Rose, who had been
well taught, raised her serene eyes to her aunt's face, and
mildly said—

“All true, aunty, and that is owing to the fact that the
earth is smaller at each end than in the middle.”

“Fiddle faddle with your middles and ends, Rose—I've
been in London, dear, and know that the sun rises later
there than in New York, in the month of December, and
that I know by the clock, I tell you.”

“The reason of which is,” resumed Mulford, “because
the clocks of each place keep the time of that place. Now,
it is different with the chronometers; they are set in the observatory
of Greenwich, and keep the time of Greenwich.
This watch chronometer was set there, only six months

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since; and this time, as you see, is near nine o'clock, when
in truth it is only about four o'clock here, where we are.”

“I wonder you keep such a watch, Mr. Mulford!”

“I keep it,” returned the mate, smiling, “because I know
it to keep good time. It has the Greenwich time; and, as
your watch has the New York time, by comparing them together,
it is quite easy to find the longitude of New York.”

“Do you, then, keep watches to compare with your chronometers?”
asked Rose, with interest.

“Certainly not; as that would require a watch for every
separate part of the ocean, and then we should only get
known longitudes. It would be impracticable, and load a
ship with nothing but watches. What we do is this: We
set our chronometers at Greenwich, and thus keep the
Greenwich true time wherever we go. The greatest attention
is paid to the chronometers, to see that they receive no
injuries; and usually there are two, and often more of them,
to compare one with another, in order to see that they go
well. When in the middle of the ocean, for instance, we
find the true time of the day at that spot, by ascertaining
the height of the sun. This we do by means of our quadrants,
or sextants; for, as the sun is always in the zenith
at twelve o'clock, nothing is easier than to do this, when the
sun can be seen, and an arc of the heavens measured. At
the instant the height of the sun is ascertained by one observer,
he calls to another, who notes the time on the chronometer.
The difference in these two times, or that of the
chronometer and that of the sun, gives the distance in degrees
and minutes, between the longitude of Greenwich and
that of the place on the ocean where the observer is; and
that gives him his longitude. If the difference is three hours
and twenty minutes, in time, the distance from Greenwich
is fifty degrees of longitude, because the sun rises three hours
and twenty minutes sooner in London, than in the fiftieth
degree of west longitude.”

“A watch is a watch, Rosy,” put in the aunt, doggedly—
“and time is time.—When it's four o'clock at our house,
it's four o'clock at your aunt Sprague's, and it's so all over
the world. The world may turn round—I'll not deny it,
for your uncle often said as much as that, but it cannot turn
in the way Mr. Mulford says, or we should all fall off it, at

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night, when it was bottom upwards. No, sir, no; you've
started wrong. My poor, dear, late Mr. Budd, always admitted
that the world turned round, as the books say; but
when I suggested to him the difficulty of keeping things in
their places, with the earth upside down, he acknowledged
candidly—for he was all candour, I must say that for him—
and owned that he had made a discovery by means of his
barometer, which showed that the world did not turn round
in the way you describe, or by rolling over, but by whirling
about, as one turns in a dance. You must remember your
uncle's telling me this, Rose?”

Rose did remember her uncle's telling her aunt this, as
well as a great many other similar prodigies. Captain Budd
had married his silly wife on account of her pretty face, and
when the novelty of that was over, he often amused himself
by inventing all sorts of absurdities, to amuse both her and
himself. Among other things, Rose well remembered his
quieting her aunt's scruples about falling off the earth, by
laying down the theory that the world did not “roll over,”
but “whirl round.” But Rose did not answer the question.

“Objects are kept in their places on the earth by means
of attraction,” Mulford ventured to say, with a great deal
of humility of manner. “I believe it is thought there is no
up or down, except as we go from or towards the earth;
and that would make the position of the last a matter of
indifference, as respects objects keeping on it.”

“Attractions are great advantages, I will own, sir, especially
to our sex. I think it will be acknowledged there has
been no want of them in our family, any more than there
has been of sense and information. Sense and information
we pride ourselves on; attractions being gifts from God,
we try to think less of them. But all the attractions in the
world could not keep Rosy, here, from falling off the earth,
did it ever come bottom upwards. And, mercy on me,
where would she fall to!”

Mulford saw that argument was useless, and he confined
his remarks, during the rest of the conversation, to showing
Rose the manner in which the longitude of a place might be
ascertained, with the aid of the chronometer, and by means
of observations to get the true time of day, at the particular
place itself. Rose was so quick-witted, and already so well

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instructed, as easily to comprehend the principles; the details
being matters of no great moment to one of her sex
and habits. But Mrs. Budd remained antagonist to the last.
She obstinately maintained that twelve o'clock was twelve
o'clock; or, if there was any difference, “London hours
were notoriously later than those of New York.”

Against such assertions arguments were obviously useless,
and Mulford, perceiving that Rose began to fidget, had
sufficient tact to change the conversation altogether.

And still the Molly Swash kept in swift motion. Montauk
was by this time abeam, and the little brigantine began to
rise and fall, on the long swells of the Atlantic, which now
opened before her, in one vast sheet of green and rolling
waters. On her right lay the termination of Long Island;
a low, rocky cape, with its light, and a few fields in tillage,
for the uses of those who tended it. It was the “land's end”
of New York, while the island that was heaving up out of
the sea, at a distance of about twenty miles to the eastward,
was the property of Rhode Island, being called Blok
Island. Between the two, the Swash shaped her course for
the ocean.

Spike had betrayed uneasiness, as his brig came up with
Montauk; but the coast seemed clear, with not even a distant
sail in sight, and he came aft, rubbing his hands with
delight, speaking cheerfully.

“All right, Mr. Mulford,” he cried—“everything ship-shape
and brister-fashion—not even a smack fishing hereaway,
which is a little remarkable. Ha!—what are you
staring at, over the quarter, there?”

“Look here, sir, directly in the wake of the setting sun,
which we are now opening from the land—is not that a

“Sail! Impossible, sir. What should a sail be doing in
there, so near Montauk—no man ever saw a sail there in
his life. It's a spot in the sun, Madam Budd, that my mate
has got a glimpse at, and, sailor-like, he mistakes it for a
sail! Ha—ha—ha—yes, Harry, it's a spot in the sun.”

“It is a spot on the sun, as you say, but it's a spot made
by a vessel—and here is a boat pulling towards her, might
and main; going from the light, as if carrying news.”

It was no longer possible for Spike's hopes to deceive

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him. There was a vessel, sure enough; though, when first
seen, it was so directly in a line with the fiery orb of the
setting sun, as to escape common observation. As the brig
went foaming on towards the ocean, however, the black
speck was soon brought out of the range of the orb of day,
and Spike's glass was instantly levelled at it.

“Just as one might expect, Mr. Mulford,” cried the captain,
lowering his glass, and looking aloft to see what could
be done to help his craft along; “a bloody revenue cutter,
as I'm a wicked sinner! There she lies, sir, within musket
shot of the shore, hid behind the point, as it might be in
waiting for us, with her head to the southward, her helm
hard down, topsail aback, and foresail brailed; as wicked
looking a thing as Free Trade and Sailor's Rights ever ran
from. My life on it, sir, she's been put in that precise spot,
in waiting for the Molly to arrive. You see, as we stand
on, it places her as handsomely to windward of us, as the
heart of man could desire.”

“It is a revenue cutter, sir; now she's out of the sun's
wake, that is plain enough. And that is her boat, which
has been sent to the light to keep a look-out for us. Well,
sir, she's to windward; but we have everything set for our
course, and as we are fairly abeam, she must be a great
traveller to overhaul us.”

“I thought these bloody cutters were all down in the
Gulf,” growled the captain, casting his eyes aloft again, to
see that everything drew. “I'm sure the newspapers have
mentioned as many as twenty that are down there, and here
is one, lying behind Montauk, like a snake in the grass!”

“At any rate, by the time he gets his boat up we shall
get the start of him—ay, there he fills and falls off, to go
and meet her. He'll soon be after us, Captain Spike, at
racing speed.”

Everything occurred as those two mariners had foreseen.
The revenue cutter, one of the usual fore-top-sail schooners
that are employed in that service, up and down the coast,
had no sooner hoisted up her boat, than she made sail, a
little off the wind, on a line to close with the Swash. As
for the brig, she had hauled up to an easy bowline, as she
came round Montauk, and was now standing off south south-east,
still having the wind at south-west. The weatherly

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position of the cutter enabled her to steer rather more than
one point freer. At the commencement of this chase, the
vessels were about a mile and a half apart, a distance too
great to enable the cutter to render the light guns she carried
available, and it was obvious from the first, that everything
depended on speed. And speed it was, truly; both
vessels fairly flying; the Molly Swash having at last met
with something very like her match. Half an hour satisfied
both Spike and Mulford that, by giving the cutter the
advantage of one point in a freer wind, she would certainly
get alongside of them, and the alternative was therefore to
keep off.

“A starn chase is a long chase, all the world over,” cried
Spike—“edge away, sir; edge away, sir, and bring the
cutter well on our quarter.”

This order was obeyed; but to the surprise of those in
the Swash, the cutter did not exactly follow, though she
kept off a little more. Her object seemed to be to maintain
her weatherly position, and in this manner the two vessels
ran on for an hour longer, until the Swash had made most
of the distance between Montauk and Blok Island. Objects
were even becoming dimly visible on the last, and the light
on the point was just becoming visible, a lone star above a
waste of desert, the sun having been down now fully a
quarter of an hour, and twilight beginning to draw the curtain
of night over the waters.

“A craft under Blok,” shouted the look-out, that was
still kept aloft as a necessary precaution.

“What sort of a craft?” demanded Spike, fiercely; for
the very mention of a sail, at that moment, aroused all his
ire. “Arn't you making a frigate out of an apple-orchard?”

“It's the steamer, sir. I can now see her smoke. She's
just clearing the land, on the south side of the island, and
seems to be coming round to meet us.”

A long, low, eloquent whistle from the captain, succeeded
this announcement. The man aloft was right. It was the
steamer, sure enough; and she had been lying hid behind
Blok Island, exactly as her consort had been placed behind
Montauk, in waiting for their chase to arrive. The result
was, to put the Molly Swash in exceeding jeopardy, and the

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reason why the cutter kept so well to windward was fully
explained. To pass out to sea between these two craft was
hopeless. There remained but a single alternative from
capture by one or by the other,—and that Spike adopted
instantly. He kept his brig dead away, setting studding-sails
on both sides. This change of course brought the
cutter nearly aft, or somewhat on the other quarter, and
laid the brig's head in a direction to carry her close to the
northern coast of the island. But the principal advantage
was gained over the steamer, which could not keep off,
without first standing a mile or two, or even more, to the
westward, in order to clear the land. This was so much
clear gain to the Swash, which was running off at racing
speed, on a north-east course, while her most dangerous
enemy was still heading to the westward. As for the cutter,
she kept away; but it was soon apparent that the brig had
the heels of her, dead before the wind.

Darkness now began to close around the three vessels;
the brig and the schooner soon becoming visible to each
other principally by means of their night-glasses; though
the steamer's position could be easily distinguished by means
of her flaming chimney. This latter vessel stood to the
westward for a quarter of an hour, when her commander
appeared to become suddenly conscious of the ground he
was losing, and he wore short round, and went off before
the wind, under steam and canvas; intending to meet the
chase off the northern side of the island. The very person
who had hailed the Swash, as she was leaving the wharf,
who had passed her in Hell-Gate, with Jack Tier in his
boat, and who had joined her off Throgmorton's, was now
on her deck, urging her commander by every consideration
not to let the brig escape. It was at his suggestion that the
course was changed. Nervous, and eager to seize the brig,
he prevailed on the commander of the steamer to alter
his course. Had he done no more than this, all might have
been well; but so exaggerated were his notions of the
Swash's sailing, that, instead of suffering the steamer to
keep close along the eastern side of the island, he persuaded
her commander of the necessity of standing off a long distance
to the northward and eastward, with a view to get
ahead of the chase. This was not bad advice, were there

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any certainly that Spike would stand on, of which, however,
he had no intention.

The night set in dark and cloudy; and, the instant that
Spike saw, by means of the flaming chimney, that the
steamer had wore, and was going to the eastward of Blok,
his plan was laid. Calling to Mulford, he communicated it
to him, and was glad to find that his intelligent mate was of
his own way of thinking. The necessary orders were
given, accordingly, and everything was got ready for its

In the meantime, the two revenue craft were much in
earnest. The schooner was one of the fastest in the service,
and had been placed under Montauk, as described, in the
confident expectation of her being able to compete with even
the Molly Swash successfully, more especially if brought
upon a bowline. Her commander watched the receding
form of the brig with the closest attention, until it was entirely
swallowed up in the darkness, under the land, towards
which he then sheered himself, in order to prevent the
Swash from hauling up, and turning to windward, close in
under the shadow of the island. Against this manœuvre,
however, the cutter had now taken an effectual precaution,
and her people were satisfied that escape in that way was

On the other hand, the steamer was doing very well.
Driven by the breeze, and propelled by her wheels, away
she went, edging further and further from the island, as the
person from the Custom-House succeeded, as it might be,
inch by inch, in persuading the captain of the necessity of
his so doing. At length a sail was dimly seen ahead, and
then no doubt was entertained that the brig had got to the
northward and eastward of them. Half an hour brought
the steamer alongside of this sail, which turned out to be a
brig that had come over the shoals, and was beating into
the ocean, on her way to one of the southern ports. Her
captain said there had nothing passed to the eastward.

Round went the steamer, and in went all her canvas.
Ten minutes later the look-out saw a sail to the westward,
standing before the wind. Odd as it might seem, the
steamer's people now fancied they were sure of the Swash.
There she was, coming directly for them, with squared yards!

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The distance was short, or a vessel could not have been
seen by that light, and the two craft were soon near each
other. A gun was actually cleared on board the steamer,
ere it was ascertained that the stranger was the schooner!
It was now midnight, and nothing was in sight but the
coasting brig. Reluctantly, the revenue people gave the
matter up; the Molly Swash having again eluded them,
though by means unknown.

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Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 [1848], Jack Tier, volume 1 (Burgess, Stringer & Co., New York) [word count] [eaf079v1].
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