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Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 [1848], Jack Tier, volume 2 (Burgess, Stringer & Co., New York) [word count] [eaf079v2].
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The gull has found her place on shore;
The sun gone down again to rest;
And all is still but ocean's roar;
There stands the man unbless'd.
But see, he moves—he turns, as asking where
His mates? Why looks he with that piteous stare?

Superstition would seem to be a consequence of a state
of being, in which so much is shadowed forth, while so little
is accurately known. Our far-reaching thoughts range
over the vast fields of created things, without penetrating
to the secret cause of the existence of even a blade of grass.
We can analyze all substances that are brought into our
crucibles, tell their combinations and tendencies, give a
scientific history of their formation, so far as it is connected
with secondary facts, their properties, and their uses;
but in each and all, there is a latent natural cause, that
baffles all our inquiries, and tells us that we are merely
men. This is just as true in morals, as in physics—no
man living being equal to attaining the very faith that is
necessary to his salvation, without the special aid of the
spirit of the godhead; and even with that mighty support,
trusting implicitly for all that is connected with a future
that we are taught to believe is eternal, to “the substance
of things hoped for, and the evidence of things unseen.”
In a word, this earthly probation of ours, was intended for
finite beings, in the sense of our present existence, leaving
far more to be conjectured, than is understood.

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Ignorance and superstition ever bear a close, and even
a mathematical relation to each other. The degrees of the
one, are regulated by the degrees of the other. He who
knows the least believes the most; while he who has seen
the most, without the intelligence to comprehend that
which he has seen, feels, perhaps, the strongest inclination
to refer those things which to him are mysteries, to the supernatural
and marvellous. Sailors have been, from time
immemorial, more disposed than men of their class on the
land, to indulge in this weakness, which is probably heightened
by the circumstance of their living constantly and
vividly in the presence of powers that menace equally their
lives and their means, without being in any manner subject
to their control.

Spike, for a seaman of his degree of education, was not
particularly addicted to the weakness to which we have
just alluded. Nevertheless, he was not altogether free from
it; and recent circumstances contributed to dispose him so
much the more to admit a feeling which, like sin itself, is
ever the most apt to insinuate itself at moments of extraordinary
moral imbecility, and through the openings left by
previous transgression. As his brig stood off from the
light, the captain paced the deck, greatly disturbed by what
had just passed, and unable to account for it. The boat
of the Poughkeepsie was entirely concealed by the islet,
and there existing no obvious motive for wishing to return,
in order to come at the truth, not a thought to that effect,
for one moment, crossed the mind of the smuggler. So far
from this, indeed, were his wishes, that the Molly did not
seem to him to go half as fast as usual, in his keen desire
to get further and further from a spot where such strange
incidents had occurred.

As for the men forward, no argument was wanting to
make them believe that something supernatural had just
passed before their eyes. It was known to them all, that
Mulford had been left on a naked rock, some thirty miles
from that spot; and it was not easy to understand how he
could now be at the Dry Tortugas, planted, as it might be,
on purpose to show himself to the brig, against the tower,
in the bright moonlight, “like a pictur' hung up for his
old shipmates to look at.”

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Sombre were the tales that were related that night
among them, many of which related to the sufferings of
men abandoned on desert islands; and all of which bordered,
more or less, on the supernatural. The crew connected
the disappearance of the boat with Mulford's apparition,
though the logical inference would have been, that the
body which required planks to transport it, could scarcely
be classed with anything of the world of spirits. The links
in arguments, however, are seldom respected by the illiterate
and vulgar, who jump to their conclusions, in cases of
the marvellous, much as politicians find an expression of
the common mind in the prepared opinions of the few who
speak for them, totally disregarding the dissenting silence
of the million. While the men were first comparing their
opinions on that which, to them, seemed to be so extraordinary,
the Señor Montefalderon joined the captain in his
walk, and dropped into a discourse touching the events
which had attended their departure from the haven of the
Dry Tortugas. In this conversation, Don Juan most admirably
preserved his countenance, as well as his self-command,
effectually preventing the suspicion of any knowledge
on his part, that was not common to them both.

“You did leave the port with the salutes observed,” the
Mexican commenced, with the slightest accent of a foreigner,
or just enough to show that he was not speaking in his
mother tongue; “salutes paid and returned.”

“Do you call that saluting, Don Wan? To me, that
infernal shot sounded more like an echo, than anything

“And to what do you ascribe it, Don Esteban?”

“I wish I could answer that question. Sometimes I
begin to wish I had not left my mate on that naked rock.”

“There is still time to repair the last wrong; we shall
go within a few miles of the place where the Señor Enrique
was left; and I can take the yawl, with two men,
and go in search of him, while you are at work on the

“Do you believe it possible that he can be still there?”
demanded Spike, looking suddenly and intently at his companion,
while his mind was strangely agitated between

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hatred and dread. “If he is there, who and what was he that
we all saw so plainly at the foot of the light-house?”

“How should he have left the rock? He was without
food or water; and no man, in all his vigour, could swim
this distance. I see no means of his getting here.”

“Unless some wrecker, or turtler, fell in with him, and
took him off. Ay, ay, Don Wan; I left him that much
of a chance, at least. No man can say I murdered my

“I am not aware, Don Esteban, that any one has said
so hard a thing of you. Still, we have seen neither wrecker
nor turtler since we have been here; and that lessens
the excellent chance you left Don Enrique.”

“There is no occasion, señor, to be so particular,”
growled Spike, a little sullenly, in reply. “The chance,
I say, was a good one, when you consider how many of
them devils of wreckers hang about these reefs. Let this
brig only get fast on a rock, and they would turn up, like
sharks, all around us, each with his maw open for salvage.
But this is neither here nor there; what puzzles me, was
what we saw at the light, half an hour since, and the musket
that was fired back at us! I know that the figure at the
foot of the tower did not fire, for my eye was on him from
first to last; and he had no arms. You were on the island
a good bit, and must have known if the light-house keeper
was there or not, Don Wan?”

“The light-house keeper was there, Don Esteban—but
he was in his grave.”

“Ay, ay, one, I know, was drowned, and buried with
the rest of them; there might, however, have been more
than one. You saw none of the people that had gone to
Key West, in or about the house, Don Wan?”

“None. If any persons have left the Tortugas to go to
Key West, within a few days, not one of them has yet returned.”

“So I supposed. No, it can be none of them. Then I
saw his face as plainly as ever I saw it by moon-light, from
aft, for'ard. What is your opinion about seeing the dead
walk on the 'arth, Don Wan?”

“That I have never seen any such thing myself, Don
Esteban, and consequently know nothing about it.”

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“So I supposed; I find it hard to believe it, I do. It
may be a warning to keep us from-coming any more to the
Dry Tortugas; and I must say I have little heart for returning
to this place, after all that has fell out here. We
can go to the wreck, fish up the doubloons, and be off for
Yucatan. Once in one of your ports, I make no question
that the merits of the Molly will make themselves understood,
and that we shall soon agree on a price.”

“What use could we put the brig to, Don Esteban, if
we had her all ready for sea?”

“That is a strange question to ask in time of war! Give
me such a craft as the Molly, with sixty or eighty men on
board her, in a war like this, and her 'arnin's should not
fall short of half a million within a twelvemonth.”

“Could we engage you to take charge of her, Don Esteban?”

“That would be ticklish work, Don Wan. But we can
see. No one knows what he will do until he is tried. In
for a penny, in for a pound. A fellow never knows! Ha!
ha! ha! Don Wan, we live in a strange world—yes, in a
strange world.”

“We live in strange times, Don Esteban, as the situation
of my poor country proves. But let us talk this matter
over a little more in confidence.”

And they did thus discuss the subject. It was a singular
spectacle to see an honourable man, one full of zeal of
the purest nature in behalf of his own country, sounding a
traitor as to the terms on which he might be induced to do
all the harm he could, to those who claimed his allegiance.
Such sights, however, are often seen; our own especial
objects too frequently blinding us to the obligations that we
owe morality, so far as not to be instrumental in effecting
even what we conceive to be good, by questionable agencies.
But the Señor Montefalderon kept in view, principally,
his desire to be useful to Mexico, blended a little too
strongly, perhaps, with the wishes of a man who was born
near the sun, to avenge his wrongs, real or fancied.

While this dialogue was going on between Spike and
his passenger, as they paced the quarter-deck, one quite as
characteristic occurred in the galley, within twenty feet of
them—Simon, the cook, and Josh, the steward, being the

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interlocutors. As they talked secrets, they conferred together
with closed doors, though few were ever disposed
to encounter the smoke, grease, and fumes of their narrow
domains, unless called thither by hunger.

“What you t'ink of dis matter Josh?” demanded Simon,
whose skull having the well-known density of his race, did
not let internal ideas out, or external ideas in as readily as
most men's. “Our young mate was at de light-house beyond
all controwersy; and how can he be den on dat rock
over yonder, too?”

“Dat is imposserbul,” answered Josh; “derefore I says
it is n't true. I surposes you know dat what is imposserbul
is n't true, Simon. Nobody can't be out yonder and
down here at de same time. Dat is imposserble, Simon.
But what I wants to intermate to you, will explain all dis
difficulty; and it do show de raal super'ority of a coloured
man over de white poperlation. Now, you mark my
words, cook, and be full of admiration! Jack Tier came
back along wid de Mexican gentle'em, in my anchor-watch,
dis very night! You see, in de first place, ebbery t'ing
come to pass in nigger's watch.”

Here the two dark-skinned worthies haw-haw'd to their
heart's content; laughing very much as a magistrate or a
minister of the gospel might be fancied to laugh, the first
time he saw a clown at a circus. The merriment of a negro
will have its course, in spite of ghosts, or of anything
else; and neither the cook nor the steward dreamed of puting
in another syllable, until their laugh was fairly and duly
ended. Then the cook made his remarks.

“How Jack Tier comin' back explain der differculty,
Josh?” asked Simon.

“Did n't Jack go away wid Miss Rose and de mate, in
de boat dat got adrift, you know, in Jack's watch on

Here the negroes laughed again, their imaginations happening
to picture to each, at the same instant, the mystification
about the boat; Biddy having told Josh in confidence,
the manner in which the party had returned to the
brig, while he and Simon were asleep; which fact the steward
had already communicated to the cook. To these two
beings, of an order in nature different from all around

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them, and of a simplicity and of habits that scarce placed
them on a level with the intelligence of the humblest white
man, all these circumstances had a sort of mysterious connection,
out of which peeped much the most conspicuously
to their faculties, the absurdity of the captain's imagining
that a boat had got adrift, which had, in truth, been taken
away by human hands. Accordingly, they laughed it out;
and when they had done laughing, they returned again to
the matter before them with renewed interest in the subject.

“Well, how all dat explain dis differculty?” repeated

“In dis wery manner, cook,” returned the steward, with
a little dignity in his manner. “Ebbery t'ing depend on
understandin', I s'pose you know. If Mr. Mulford got
taken off dat rock by Miss Rose and Jack Tier, wid de
boat, and den dey comes here altogedder; and den Jack
Tier, he get on board and tell Biddy all dis matter, and
den Biddy tell Josh, and den Josh tell de cook—what for
you surprise, you black debbil, one bit?”

“Dat all!” exclaimed Simon.

“Dat just all—dat ebbery bit of it, do n't I say.”

Here Simon burst into such a fit of loud laughter, that
it induced Spike himself to shove aside the galley-door,
and thrust his own frowning visage into the dark hole within,
to inquire the cause.

“What's the meaning of this uproar?” demanded the
captain, all the more excited because he felt that things
had reached a pass that would not permit him to laugh
himself. “Do you fancy yourself on the Hook, or at the
Five Points?”

The Hook and the Five Points are two pieces of tabooed
territory within the limits of the good town of Manhattan,
that are getting to be renowned for their rascality and orgies.
They probably want nothing but the proclamation
of a governor in vindication of their principles, annexed to
a pardon of some of their unfortunate children, to render
both classical. If we continue to make much further progress
in political logic, and in the same direction as that
in which we have already proceeded so far, neither will
probably long be in want of this illustration. Votes can

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be given by the virtuous citizens of both these purlieus, as
well as by the virtuous citizens of the anti-rent districts,
and votes contain the essence of all such principles, as well
as of their glorification.

“Do you fancy yourselves on the Hook, or at the Five
Points?” demanded Spike, angrily.

“Lor', no sir!” answered Simon, laughing at each pause
with all his heart. “Only laughs a little at ghost—dat
all, sir.”

“Laugh at ghost! Is that a subject to laugh at? Have
a care, you black rascal, or he will visit you in your galley
here, when you will least want to see him.”

“No care much for him, sir,” returned Simon, laughing
away as hard as ever. “Sich a ghost ought n't to skear
little baby.”

Such a ghost? And what do you know of this ghost
more than any other?”

“Well, I seed him, Cap'in Spike; and what a body sees,
he is acquainted wid.”

“You saw an image that looked as much like Mr. Mulford,
my late mate, as one timber-head in this brig is like

“Yes, sir, he like enough—must say dat—so wery like,
could n't see any difference.”

As Simon concluded this remark, he burst out into another
fit of laughter, in which Josh joined him, heart and
soul, as it might be. The uninitiated reader is not to imagine
the laughter of those blacks to be very noisy, or to be
raised on a sharp, high key. They could make the welkin
ring, in sudden bursts of merriment, on occasion; but, at a
time like this, they rather caused their diversion to be developed
by sounds that came from the depths of their
chests. A gleam of suspicion that these blacks were acquainted
with some fact that it might be well for him to
know, shot across the mind of Spike; but he was turned
from further inquiry by a remark of Don Juan, who intimated
that the mirth of such persons never had much
meaning to it, expressing at the same time a desire to pursue
the more important subject in which they were engaged.
Admonishing the blacks to be more guarded in their manifestations
of merriment, the captain closed the door on

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them, and resumed his walk up and down the quarter-deck.
As soon as left to themselves, the blacks broke out afresh,
though in a way so guarded, as to confine their mirth to
the galley.

“Cap'in Spike t'ink dat a ghost!” exclaimed Simon,
with contempt.

“Guess if he see raal ghost, he find 'e difference,” answered
Josh. “One look at raal sperit wort' two at dis

Simon's eyes now opened like two saucers, and they
gleamed, by the light of the lamp they had, like dark balls
of condensed curiosity, blended with awe, on his companion.

“You ebber see him, Josh?” he asked, glancing over
each shoulder hurriedly, as it might be, to make sure that
he could not see “him,” too.

“How you t'ink I get so far down the wale of life, Simon,
and nebber see sich a t'ing? I seed t'ree of the crew of the
`Maria Sheffington,' that was drowned by deir boat's capsizin',
when we lay at Gibraltar, jest as plain as I see you
now. Then—”

But it is unnecessary to repeat Josh's experiences in this
way, with which he continued to entertain and terrify Simon
for the next half-hour. This is just the difference between
ignorance and knowledge. While Spike himself,
and every man in his brig who belonged forward, had
strong misgivings as to the earthly character of the figure
they had seen at the foot of the light-house, these negroes
laughed at their delusion, because they happened to be in
the secret of Mulford's escape from the rock, and of that
of his actual presence at the Tortugas. When, however,
the same superstitious feeling was brought to bear on circumstances
that lay without the sphere of their exact information,
they became just as dependent and helpless as all
around them; more so, indeed, inasmuch as their previous
habits and opinions disposed them to a more profound credulity.

It was midnight before any of the crew of the Swash
sought their rest that night. The captain had to remind
them that a day of extraordinary toil was before them, ere
he could get one even to quit the deck; and when they did

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go below, it was to continue to discuss the subject of what
they had seen at the Dry Tortugas. It appeared to be the
prevalent opinion among the people, that the late event
foreboded evil to the Swash, and long as most of these men
had served in the brig, and much as they had become attached
to her, had she gone into port that night, nearly
every man forward would have run before morning. But
fatigue and wonder, at length, produced their effect, and
the vessel was silent as was usual at that hour. Spike himself
lay down in his clothes, as he had done ever since
Mulford had left him; and the brig continued to toss the
spray from her bows, as she bore gallantly up against the
trades, working her way to windward. The light was
found to be of great service, as it indicated the position of
the reef, though it gradually sunk in the western horizon,
until near morning it fell entirely below it.

At this hour Spike appeared on deck again, where, for
the first time since their interview on the morning of Harry's
and Rose's escape, he laid his eyes on Jack Tier.
The little dumpling-looking fellow was standing in the
waist, with his arms folded sailor-fashion, as composedly as
if nothing had occurred to render his meeting with the captain
any way of a doubtful character. Spike approached
near the person of the steward, whom he surveyed from
head to foot, with a sort of contemptuous superiority, ere
he spoke.

“So, Master Tier,” at length the captain commenced,
“you have deigned to turn out at last, have you? I hope
the day's duty you've forgotten, will help to pay for the
light-house boat, that I understand you've lost for me,

“What signifies a great clumsy boat that the brig
could n't hoist in nor tow,” answered Jack, coolly, turning
short round at the same time, but not condescending to
“uncoil” his arms as he did so, a mark of indifference that
would probably have helped to mystify the captain, had he
even actually suspected that anything was wrong beyond
the supposed accident to the boat in question. “If you
had had the boat astarn, Captain Spike, an order would
have been given to cut it adrift the first time the brig made
sail on the wind.”

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“Nobody knows, Jack; that boat would have been very
useful to us while at work about the wreck. You never
even turned out this morning to let me know where that
craft lay, as you promised to do, but left us to find it out
by our wits.”

“There was no occasion for my tellin' you anything
about it, sir, when the mast-heads was to be seen above
water. As soon as I heard that them 'ere mast-heads was
out of water, I turned over and went to sleep upon it. A
man can't be on the doctor's list and on duty at the same

Spike looked hard at the little steward, but he made no
further allusion to his being off duty, or to his failing to
stand pilot to the brig as she came through the passage in
quest of the schooner's remains. The fact was, that he
had discovered the mast-heads himself, just as he was on
the point of ordering Jack to be called, having allowed him
to remain in his berth to the last moment after his watch,
according to a species of implied faith that is seldom disregarded
among seamen. Once busied on the wreck, Jack
was forgotten, having little to do in common with any one
on board, but that which the captain termed the “women's

“Come aft, Jack,” resumed Spike, after a considerable
pause, during the whole of which he had stood regarding
the little steward as if studying his person, and through
that his character. “Come aft to the trunk; I wish to
catechise you a bit.”

“Catechise!” repeated Tier, in an under tone, as he
followed the captain to the place mentioned. “It's a long
time since I've done anything at that!

“Ay, come hither,” resumed Spike, seating himself at
his ease on the trunk, while Jack stood near by, his arms
still folded, and his rotund little form as immovable, under
the plunges that the lively brig made into the head-seas
that she was obliged to meet, as if a timber-head in the
vessel itself. “You keep your sea-legs well, Jack, short
as they are.”

“No wonder for that, Captain Spike; for the last twenty
years I've scarce passed a twelvemonth ashore; and what

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I did before that, no one can better tell than yourself, since
we was ten good years shipmates.”

“So you say, Jack, though I do not remember you as
well as you seem to remember me. Do you not make the
time too long?”

“Not a day, sir. Ten good and happy years did we
sail together, Captain Spike; and all that time in this

“Hush—h-u-s-h, man, hush! There is no need of telling
the Molly's age to everybody. I may wish to sell her
some day, and then her great experience will be no recommendation.
You should recollect that the Molly is a female,
and the ladies do not like to hear of their ages after

Jack made no answer, but he dropped his arms to their
natural position, seeming to wait the captain's communication,
first referring to his tobacco-box and taking a fresh

“If you was with me in the brig, Jack, at the time you
mention,” continued Spike, after another long and thoughtful
pause, “you must remember many little things that I
do n't wish to have known; especially while Mrs. Budd
and her handsome niece is aboard here.”

“I understand you, Captain Spike. The ladies shall
l'arn no more from me than they know already.”

“Thank 'e for that Jack—thank 'e with all my heart
Shipmates of our standing ought to be fast friends; and so
you'll find me, if you'll only sail under the true colours,
my man.”

At that moment Jack longed to let the captain know how
strenuously he had insisted that very night on rejoining his
vessel; and this at a time, too, when the brig was falling
into disrepute. But this he could not do, without betraying
the secret of the lovers—so he chose to say nothing.

“There is no use in blabbing all a man knows, and the
galley is a sad place for talking. Galley news is poor news,
I suppose you know, Jack.”

“I've hear'n say as much on board o' man-of-war. It's
a great place for the officers to meet and talk, and smoke,
in Uncle Sam's crafts; and what a body hears in such
places, is pretty much newspaper stuff, I do suppose.”

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“Ay, ay, that's it; not to be thought of half-an-hour
after it has been spoken. Here's a doubloon for you,
Jack; and all for the sake of old times. Now, tell me, my
litle fellow, how do the ladies come on? Does n't Miss
Rose get over her mourning on account of the mate?
Ar' n't we to have the pleasure of seein' her on deck soon?”

“I can't answer for the minds and fancies of young
women, Captain Spike. They are difficult to understand;
and I would rather not meddle with what I can't understand.”

“Poh, poh, man; you must get over that. You might
be of great use to me, Jack, in a very delicate affair—for
you know how it is with women; they must be handled as
a man would handle this brig among breakers; Rose, in
partic'lar, is as skittish as a colt.”

“Stephen Spike,” said Jack, solemnly, but on so low a
key that it entirely changed his usually harsh and cracked
voice to one that sounded soft, if not absolutely pleasant,
“do you never think of hereafter? Your days are almost
run; a very few years, in your calling it may be a very few
weeks, or a few hours, and time will be done with you, and
etarnity will commence.—Do you never think of a hereafter?”

Spike started to his feet, gazing at Jack intently; then
he wiped the perspiration from his face, and began to pace
the deck rapidly, muttering to himself—“this has been a
most accursed night! First the mate, and now this! Blast
me, but I thought it was a voice from the grave! Graves!
can't they keep those that belong to them, or have rocks
and waves no graves?”

What more passed through the mind of the captain must
remain a secret, for he kept it to himself; nor did he take
any further notice of his companion. Jack, finding that
he was unobserved, passed quietly below, and took the
place in his berth, which he had only temporarily abandoned.

Just as the day dawned, the Swash reached the vicinity
of the wreck again. Sail was shortened, and the brig stood
in until near enough for the purpose of her commander,
when she was hove-to, so near the mast-heads that, by lowering
the yawl, a line was sent out to the fore-mast, and the

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brig was hauled close alongside. The direction of the reef
at that point formed a lee; and the vessel lay in water sufficiently
smooth for her object.

This was done soon after the sun had risen, and Spike
now ordered all hands called, and began his operations in
earnest. By sounding carefully around the schooner when
last here, he had ascertained her situation to his entire satisfaction.
She had settled on a shelf of the reef, in such
a position that her bows lay in a sort of cradle, while her
stern was several feet nearer to the surface than the opposite
extremity. This last fact was apparent, indeed, by
the masts themselves, the lower mast aft being several feet
out of water, while the fore-mast was entirely buried, leaving
nothing but the fore-topmast exposed. On these great
premises Spike had laid the foundation of the practical
problem he intended to solve.

No expectation existed of ever getting the schooner
afloat again. All that Spike and the Señor Montefalderon
now aimed at, was to obtain the doubloons, which the former
thought could be got at in the following manner. He
knew that it would be much easier handling the wreck, so
far as its gravity was concerned, while the hull continued
submerged. He also knew that one end could be raised
with a comparatively trifling effort, so long as the other
rested on the rock. Under these circumstances, therefore,
he proposed merely to get slings around the after body of
the schooner, as near her stern-post, indeed, as would be
safe, and to raise that extremity of the vessel to the surface,
leaving most of the weight of the craft to rest on the bows.
The difference between the power necessary to effect this
much, and that which would be required to raise the whole
wreck, would be like the difference in power necessary to
turn over a log with one end resting on the ground, and
turning the same log by lifting it bodily in the arms, and
turning it in the air. With the stern once above water, it
would be easy to come at the bag of doubloons, which Jack
Tier had placed in a locker above the transoms.

The first thing was to secure the brig properly, in order
that she might bear the necessary strain. This was done
very much as has been described already, in the account
of the manner in which she was secured and supported in

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order to raise the schooner at the Dry Tortugas. An anchor
was laid abreast and to windward, and purchases were
brought to the masts, as before. Then the bight of the
chain brought from the Tortugas, was brought under the
schooner's keel, and counter-purchases, leading from both
the fore-mast and main-mast of the brig, were brought to it,
and set taut. Spike now carefully examined all his fastenings,
looking to his cables as well as his mechanical power
aloft, heaving in upon this, and veering out upon that, in
order to bring the Molly square to her work; after which
he ordered the people to knock-off for their dinners. By
that time, it was high noon.

While Stephen Spike was thus employed on the wreck,
matters and things were not neglected at the Tortugas.
The Poughkeepsie had no sooner anchored, than Wallace
went on board and made his report. Capt. Mull then sent
for Mulford, with whom he had a long personal conference.
This officer was getting grey, and consequently he had acquired
experience. It was evident to Harry, at first, that
he was regarded as one who had been willingly engaged in
an unlawful pursuit, but who had abandoned it to push
dearer interests in another quarter. It was some time before
the commander of the sloop-of-war could divest himself
of this opinion, though it gradually gave way before the
frankness of the mate's manner, and the manliness, simplicity,
and justice of his sentiments. Perhaps Rose had
some influence also in bringing about this favourable change.

Wallace did not fail to let it be known that turtle-soup
was to be had ashore; and many was the guest our heroine
had to supply with that agreeable compound, in the course
of the morning. Jack Tier had manifested so much skill
in the preparation of the dish, that its reputation soon extended
to the cabin, and the captain was induced to land,
in order to ascertain how far rumour was or was not a liar,
on this interesting occasion. So ample was the custom,
indeed, that Wallace had the consideration to send one of
the ward-room servants to the light-house, in order to relieve
Rose from a duty that was getting to be a little irksome.
She was “seeing company” as a bride, in a novel
and rather unpleasant manner; and it was in consequence
of a suggestion of the “ship's gentleman,” that the remains

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of the turtle were transferred to the vessel, and were put
into the coppers, secundum artem, by the regular cooks.

It was after tickling his palate with a bowl of the soup,
and enjoying a half-hour's conversation with Rose, that
Capt. Mull summoned Harry to a final consultation on the
subject of their future proceedings. By this time the commander
of the Poughkeepsie was in a better humour with
his new acquaintance, more disposed to believe him, and
infinitely more inclined to listen to his suggestions and advice,
than he had been in their previous interviews. Wallace
was present in his character of “ship's gentleman,”
or, as having nothing to do, while his senior, the first lieutenant,
was working like a horse on board the vessel, in the
execution of his round of daily duties.

At this consultation, the parties came into a right understanding
of each other's views and characters. Capt. Mull
was slow to yield his confidence, but when he did bestow
it, he bestowed it sailor-fashion, or with all his heart. Satisfied
at last that he had to do with a young man of honour,
and one who was true to the flag, he consulted freely
with our mate, asked his advice, and was greatly influenced
in the formation of his final decision by the opinions
that Harry modestly advanced, maintaining them, however,
with solid arguments, and reasons that every seaman could

Mulford knew the plans of Spike by means of his own
communications with the Señor Montefalderon. Once acquainted
with the projects of his old commander, it was
easy for him to calculate the time it would require to put
them in execution, with the means that were to be found
on board the Swash. “It will take the brig until near
morning,” he said, “to beat up to the place where the
wreck lies. Spike will wait for light to commence operations,
and several hours will be necessary to moor the brig,
and get out the anchors with which he will think it necessary
to stay his masts. Then he will hook on, and he may
partly raise the hull before night return. More than this
he can never do; and it would not surprise me were he
merely to get everything ready for heaving on his purchases
to-morrow, and suspend further proceedings until the next
day, in preference to having so heavy a strain on his spars

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all night. He has not the force, however, to carry on such
duty to a very late hour; and you may count with perfect
security, Captain Mull, on his being found alongside of the
wreck at sunrise the next day after to-morrow, in all probability
with his anchors down, and fast to the wreck. By
timing your own arrival well, nothing will be easier than to
get him fairly under your guns, and once under your guns,
the brig must give up. When you chased her out of this
very port, a few days since, you would have brought her
up could you have kept her within range of those terrible
shells ten minutes longer.”

“You would then advise my not sailing from this place
immediately,” said Mull.

“It will be quite time enough to get under way late in
the afternoon, and then under short canvas. Ten hours
will be ample time for this ship to beat up to that passage
in, and it will be imprudent to arrive too soon; nor do I
suppose you will wish to be playing round the reef in the

To the justice of all this Capt. Mull assented; and the
plan of proceedings was deliberately and intelligently formed.
As it was necessary for Mulford to go in the ship, in
order to act as pilot, no one else on board knowing exactly
where to find the wreck, the commander of the Poughkeepsie
had the civility to offer the young couple the hospitalities
of his own cabin, with one of his state-rooms.
This offer Harry gratefully accepted, it being understood
that the ship would land them at Key West, as soon as the
contemplated duty was executed. Rose felt so much anxiety
about her aunt, that any other arrangement would
scarcely have pacified her fears.

In consequence of these arrangements, the Poughkeepsie
lay quietly at her anchors until near sunset. In the interval
her boats were out in all directions, parties of the
officers visiting the islet where the powder had exploded,
and the islet where the tent, erected for the use of the females,
was still standing. As for the light-house island, an
order of Capt. Mull's prevented it from being crowded in
a manner unpleasant to Rose, as might otherwise have been
the case. The few officers who did land there, however,
appeared much struck with the ingenuous simplicity and

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beauty of the bride, and a manly interest in her welfare
was created among them all, principally by means of the
representations of the second lieutenant and the chaplain.
About five o'clock she went off to the ship, accompanied
by Harry, and was hoisted on board in the manner usually
practised by vessels of war which have no accommodation-ladder
rigged. Rose was immediately installed in her
state-room, where she found every convenience necessary
to a comfortable though small apartment.

It was quite late in the afternoon, when the boatswain
and his mate piped “all hands up anchor,!” Harry
hastened into the state-room for his charming bride, anxious
to show her the movements of a vessel of war on such
an occasion. Much as she had seen of the ocean, and of
a vessel, within the last few weeks, Rose now found that
she had yet a great deal to learn, and that a ship of war
had many points to distinguish her from a vessel engaged
in commerce.

The Poughkeepsie was only a sloop-of-war, or a corvette,
in construction, number of her guns, and rate; but she
was a ship of the dimensions of an old-fashioned frigate,
measuring about one thousand tons. The frigates of which
we read half a century since, were seldom ever as large as
this, though they were differently built in having a regular
gun-deck, or one armed deck that was entirely covered,
with another above it; and on the quarter-deck and forecastle
of the last of which were also batteries of lighter
guns. To the contrary of all this, the Poughkeepsie had
but one armed deck, and on that only twenty guns. These
pieces, however, were of unusually heavy calibre, throwing
thirty-two pound shot, with the exception of the Paixhans,
or Columbiads, which throw shot of even twice that weight.
The vessel had a crew of two hundred souls, all told; and
she had the spars, anchors, and other equipments of a light

In another great particular did the Poughkeepsie differ
from the corvette-built vessels that were so much in favour
at the beginning of the century; a species of craft obtained
from the French, who have taught the world so much in
connection with naval science, and who, after building
some of the best vessels that ever floated, have failed in

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knowing how to handle them, though not always in that.
The Poughkeepsie, while she had no spar, or upper deck,
properly speaking, had a poop and a topgallant-forecastle.
Within the last were the cabins and other accommodations
of the captain; an arrangement that was necessary for a
craft of her construction, that carried so many officers, and
so large a crew. Without it, sufficient space would not be
had for the uses of the last. One gun of a side was in the
main cabin, there being a very neat and amply spacious
after-cabin between the state-rooms, as is ordinarily the
case in all vessels from the size of frigates up to that of
three-deckers. It may be well to explain here, while on
this subject of construction, that in naval parlance, a ship
is called a single-decked vessel; a two-decker, or a three- decker, not from the number of decks she actually possesses,
but from the number of gun-decks that she has, or of
those that are fully armed. Thus a frigate has four decks,
the spar, gun, berth, and orlop (or haul-up) decks; but she
is called a “single-decked ship,” from the circumstance
that only one of these four decks has a complete range of
batteries. The two-decker has two of these fully armed
decks, and the three-deckers three; though, in fact, the
two-decker has five, and the three-decker six decks. Asking
pardon for this little digression, which we trust will be
found useful to a portion of our readers, we return to the

Harry conducted Rose to the poop of the Poughkeepsie,
where she might enjoy the best view of the operation of
getting so large a craft under way, man-of-war fashion.
The details were mysteries, of course, and Rose knew no
more of the process by which the chain was brought to the
capstan, by the intervention of what is called a messenger,
than if she had not been present. She saw two hundred
men distributed about the vessel, some at the capstan, some
on the forecastle, some in the tops, and others in the waist,
and she heard the order to “heave round.” Then the shrill
fife commenced the lively air of “the girl I left behind
me,” rather more from a habit in the fifer, than from any
great regrets for the girls left at the Dry Tortugas, as was
betrayed to Mulford by the smiles of the officers, and the
glances they cast at Rose. As for the latter, she knew

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nothing of the air, and was quite unconscious of the sort of
parody that the gentlemen of the quarter-deck fancied it
conveyed on her own situation.

Rose was principally struck with the quiet that prevailed
in the ship, Captain Mull being a silent man himself, and
insisting on having a quiet vessel. The first lieutenant
was not a noisy officer, and from these two, everybody else
on board received their cues. A simple “all ready, sir,”
uttered by the first to the captain, in a common tone of
voice, answered by a “very well, sir, get your anchor,”
in the same tone, set everything in motion. “Stamp and
go,” soon followed, and taking the whole scene together,
Rose felt a strange excitement come over her. There
were the shrill, animating music of the fife; the stamping
time of the men at the bars; the perceptible motion of the
ship, as she drew ahead to her anchor, and now and then
the call between Wallace, who stood between the knight-heads,
as commander-in-chief on the forecastle, (the second
lieutenant's station when the captain does not take the
trumpet, as very rarely happens,) and the “executive officer”
aft, was “carrying on duty,” all conspiring to produce
this effect. At length, and it was but a minute or two from
the time when the “stamp and go” commenced, Wallace
called out “a short stay-peak, sir.” “Heave and pull,”
followed, and the men left their bars.

The process of making sail succeeded. There was no
“letting fall” a fore-topsail here, as on board a merchantman,
but all the canvas dropped from the yards, into festoons,
at the same instant. Then the three topsails were
sheeted home and hoisted, all at once, and all in a single
minute of time; the yards were counter-braced, and the
capstan-bars were again manned. In two more minutes it
was “heave and she's up and down.” Then “heave and
in sight,” and “heave and pull again.” The cat-fall was
ready, and it was “hook on,” when the fife seemed to turn
its attention to another subject as the men catted the anchor.
Literally, all this was done in less time than we
have taken to write it down in, and in very little more time
than the reader has wasted in perusing what we have here

The Poughkeepsie was now “free of bottom,” as it is

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called, with her anchor catted and fished, and her position
maintained in the basin where she lay, by the counter-bracing
of her yards, and the counteracting force of the
wind on her sails. It only remained to “fill away,” by
bracing her head-yards sharp up, when the vast mass overcame
its inertia, and began to move through the water.
As this was done, the jib and spanker were set. The two
most beautiful things with which we are acquainted, are a
graceful and high-bred woman entering or quitting a drawing-room,
more particularly the last, and a man-of-war leaving
her anchorage in a moderate breeze, and when not
hurried for time. On the present occasion, Captain Mull
was in no haste, and the ship passed out to windward of
the light, as the Swash had done the previous night, under
her three topsails, spanker and jib, with the light sails
loose and flowing, and the courses hanging in the brails.

A great deal is said concerning the defective construction
of the light cruisers of the navy, of late years, and
complaints are made that they will not sail, as American
cruisers ought to sail, and were wont to sail in old times.
That there has been some ground for these complaints, we
believe; though the evil has been greatly exaggerated, and
some explanation may be given, we think, even in the cases
in which the strictures are not altogether without justification.
The trim of a light, sharp vessel is easily deranged;
and officers, in their desire to command as much as possible,
often get their vessels of this class too deep. They
are, generally, for the sort of cruiser, over-sparred, over-manned,
and over-provisioned; consequently, too deep.
We recollect a case in which one of these delicate craft,
a half-rigged brig, was much abused for “having lost her
sailing.” She did, indeed, lose her fore-yard, and, after that,
she sailed like a witch, until she got a new one! If the
facts were inquired into, in the spirit which ought to govern
such inquiries, it would be found that even most of
the much-abused “ten sloops” proved to be better vessels
than common. The St. Louis, the Vincennes, the
Concord, the Fairfield, the Boston, and the Falmouth, are
instances of what we mean. In behalf of the Warren, and
the Lexington, we believe no discreet man was ever heard
to utter one syllable, except as wholesome crafts. But the

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Poughkeepsie was a very different sort of vessel from any
of the “ten sloops.” She was every way a good ship, and,
as Jack expressed it, was “a good goer.” The most severe
nautical critic could scarcely have found a fault in
her, as she passed out between the islets, on the evening
of the day mentioned, in the sort of undress we have described.
The whole scene, indeed, was impressive, and
of singular maritime characteristics.

The little islets scattered about, low, sandy, and untenanted,
were the only land in sight—all else was the boundless
waste of waters. The solitary light rose like an aquatic
monument, as if purposely to give its character to the
view. Captain Mull had caused its lamps to be trimmed
and lighted for the very reason that had induced Spike to
do the same thing, and the dim star they presented was
just struggling into existence, as it might be, as the briliance
left by the setting sun was gradually diminished, and
finally disappeared. As for the ship, the hull appeared
dark, glossy, and graceful, as is usual with a vessel of war.
Her sails were in soft contrast to the colour of the hull,
and they offered the variety and divergence from straight
lines which are thought necessary to perfect beauty.
Those that were set, presented the symmetry in their trim,
the flatness in their hoist, and the breadth that distinguish
a man-of-war; while those that were loose, floated in the
air in every wave and cloud-like swell, that we so often see
in light canvas that is released from the yards in a fresh
breeze. The ship had an undress look from this circumstance,
but it was such an undress as denotes the man or
woman of the world. This undress appearance was increased
by the piping down of the hammocks, which left
the nettings loose, and with a negligent but still knowing
look about them.

When half a mile from the islets, the main-yard was
braced aback, and the maintopsail was laid to the mast.
As soon as the ship had lost her way, two or three boats
that had been towing astern, each with its boat-sitter, or
keeper, in it, were hauled up alongside, or to the quarters,
were “hooked on,” and “run up” to the whistling of the
call. All was done at once, and all was done in a couple

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of minutes. As soon as effected, the maintopsail was again
filled, and away the ship glided.

Captain Mull was not in the habit of holding many consultations
with his officers. If there be wisdom in a “multitude
of counsellors,” he was of opinion it was not on
board a man-of-war. Napoleon is reported to have said
that one bad general was better than two good ones; meaning
that one head to an army, though of inferior quality, is
better than a hydra of Solomons, or Cæsars. Captain Mull
was much of the same way of thinking, seldom troubling
his subordinates with anything but orders. He interfered
very little with “working Willy,” though he saw effectually
that he did his duty. “The ship's gentleman” might
enjoy his joke as much as he pleased, so long as he chose
his time and place with discretion, but in the captain's
presence joking was not tolerated, unless it were after dinner,
at his own table, and in his own cabin. Even there
it was not precisely such joking as took place daily, not to
say hourly, in the midshipmen's messes.

In making up his mind as to the mode of proceeding on
the present occasion, therefore, Captain Mull, while he had
heard all that Mulford had to tell him, and had even
encouraged Wallace to give his opinions, made up his decision
for himself. After learning all that Harry had to communicate,
he made his own calculations as to time and
distance, and quietly determined to carry whole sail on the
ship for the next four hours. This he did as the wisest
course of making sure of getting to windward while he
could, and knowing that the vessel could be brought under
short canvas at any moment when it might be deemed necessary.
The light was a beacon to let him know his distance
with almost mathematical precision. It could be
seen so many miles at sea, each mile being estimated by so
many feet of elevation, and having taken that elevation, he
was sure of his distance from the glittering object, so long
as it could be seen from his own poop. It was also of use
by letting him know the range of the reef, though Captain
Mull, unlike Spike, had determined to make one leg off to
the northward and eastward until he had brought the light
nearly to the horizon, and then to make another to the
southward and eastward, believing that the last stretch

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would bring him to the reef, almost as far to windward as
he desired to be. In furtherance of this plan, the sheets
of the different sails were drawn home, as soon as the boats
were in, and the Poughkeepsie, bending a little to the
breeze, gallantly dashed the waves aside, as she went
through and over them, at a rate of not less than ten good
knots in the hour. As soon as all these arrangements were
made, the watch went below, and from that time throughout
the night, the ship offered nothing but the quiet manner
in which ordinary duty is carried on in a well-regulated
vessel of war at sea, between the hours of sun and sun.
Leaving the good craft to pursue her way with speed and
certainty, we must now return to the Swash.

Captain Spike had found the mooring of his brig a much
more difficult task, on this occasion, than on that of his
former attempt to raise the schooner. Then he had to lift
the wreck bodily, and he knew that laying the Swash a
few feet further ahead or astern, could be of no great moment,
inasmuch as the moment the schooner was off the
bottom, she would swing in perpendicularly to the purchases.
But now one end of the schooner, her bows, was
to remain fast, and it became of importance to be certain
that the purchases were so placed as to bring the least strain
on the masts while they acted most directly on the after
body of the vessel to be lifted. This point gave Spike
more trouble than he had anticipated. Fully one half of
the remainder of the day, even after he had begun to heave
upon his purchases, was spent in rectifying mistakes in
connection with this matter, and in getting up additional
securities to his masts.

In one respect Spike had, from the first, made a good
disposition. The masts of the brig raked materially, and
by bringing the head of the Swash in the direction of the
schooner, he converted this fact, which might otherwise
have been of great disadvantage, into a circumstance that
was favourable. In consequence of the brig's having been
thus moored, the strain, which necessarily led forward,
came nearly in a line with the masts, and the latter were
much better able to support it. Notwithstanding this advantage,
however, it was found expedient to get up preventer-stays,
and to give the spars all the additional support

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could be conveniently bestowed. Hours were passed in
making these preliminary, or it might be better to say, secondary

It was past five in the afternoon when the people of the
Swash began to heave on their purchases as finally disposed.
After much creaking, and the settling of straps and lashings
into their places, it was found that everything stood,
and the work went on. In ten minutes Spike found he had
the weight of the schooner, so far as he should be obliged
to sustain it at all, until the stern rose above the surface;
and he felt reasonably secure of the doubloons. Further
than this he did not intend to make any experiment on her,
the Señor Montefalderon having abandoned all idea of recovering
the vessel itself, now so much of the cargo was
lost. The powder was mostly consumed, and that which
remained in the hull must, by this time, be injured by
dampness, if not ruined. So reasoned Don Juan at least.

As the utmost care was necessary, the capstan and windlass
were made to do their several duties with great caution.
As inch by inch was gained, the extra supports of the
masts were examined, and it was found that a much heavier
strain now came on the masts than when the schooner
was raised before. This was altogether owing to the direction
in which it came, and to the fact that the anchor
planted off abeam was not of as much use as on the former
occasion, in consequence of its not lying so much in a
straight line with the direction of the purchases. Spike
began to have misgivings on account of his masts, and this
so much the more because the wind appeared to haul a little
further to the northward, and the weather to look unsettled.
Should a swell roll into the bight of the reef where the brig
lay, by raising the hull a little too rudely, there would be
the imminent danger of at least springing, if not of absolutely
carrying away both the principal spars. It was
therefore necessary to resort to extraordinary precautions,
in order to obviate this danger.

The captain was indebted to his boatswain, who was now
in fact acting as his mate, for the suggestion of the plan
next adopted. Two of the largest spare spars of the brig
were got out, with their heads securely lashed to the links
of the chain by which the wreck was suspended, one on

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each side of the schooner. Pig-iron and shot were lashed
to the heels of these spars, which carried them to the bottom.
As the spars were of a greater length than was necessary
to reach the rock, they necessarily lay at an inclination,
which was lessened every inch the after body of the wreck
was raised, thus forming props to the hull of the schooner.

Spike was delighted with the success of this scheme, of
which he was assured by a single experiment in heaving.
After getting the spars well planted at their heels, he even
ordered the men to slacken the purchases a little, and
found that he could actually relieve the brig from the strain,
by causing the wreck to be supported altogether by these
shores. This was a vast relief from the cares of the approaching
night, and indeed alone prevented the necessity
of the work's going on without interruption, or rest, until
the end was obtained.

The people of the Swash were just assured of the comfortable
fact related, as the Poughkeepsie was passing out
from among the islets of the Dry Tortugas. They imagined
themselves happy in having thus made a sufficient
provision against the most formidable of all the dangers
that beset them, at the very moment when the best laid
plan for their destruction was on the point of being executed.
In this respect, they resembled millions of others of
their fellows, who hang suspended over the vast abyss of
eternity, totally unconscious of the irretrievable character
of the fall that is so soon to occur. Spike, as has been
just stated, was highly pleased with his own expedient, and
he pointed it out with exultation to the Señor Montefalderon,
as soon as it was completed.

“A nicer fit was never made by a Lunnun leg-maker,
Don Wan,” the captain cried, after going over the explanations
connected with the shores—“there she stands, at
an angle of fifty, with two as good limbs under her as a
body could wish. I could now cast off everything, and
leave the wreck in what they call `statu quo,' which, I suppose,
means on its pins, like a statue. The tafferel is not
six inches below the surface of the water, and half an hour
of heaving will bring the starn in sight.”

“Your work seems ingeniously contrived to get up one
extremity of the vessel, Don Esteban,” returned the

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Mexican; but are you quite certain that the doubloons are in

This question was put because the functionary of a government
in which money was very apt to stick in passing
from hand to hand was naturally suspicious, and he found
it difficult to believe that Mulford, Jack Tier, and even
Biddy, under all the circumstances, had not paid special
attention to their own interests.

“The bag was placed in one of the transom-lockers before
the schooner capsized,” returned the captain, “as Jack
Tier informs me; if so, it remains there still. Even the
sharks will not touch gold, Don Wan.”

“Would it not be well to call Jack, and hear his account
of the matter once more, now we appear to be so near the
Eldorado of our wishes?”

Spike assented, and Jack was summoned to the quarter-deck.
The little fellow had scarce showed himself throughout
the day, and he now made his appearance with a slow
step, and reluctantly.

“You've made no mistake about them 'ere doubloons,
I take it, Master Tier?” said Spike, in a very nautical sort
of style of addressing an inferior. “You know them to be
in one of the transom-lockers?”

Jack mounted on the breech of one of the guns, and
looked over the bulwarks at the dispositions that had been
made about the wreck. The tafferel of the schooner actually
came in sight, when a little swell passed over it,
leaving it for an instant in the trough. The steward thus
caught a glimpse again of the craft on board which he had
seen so much hazard, and he shook his head and seemed
to be thinking of anything but the question which had just
been put to him.

“Well, about that gold?” asked Spike, impatiently.

“The sight of that craft has brought other thoughts than
gold into my mind, Captain Spike,” answered Jack, gravely,
“and it would be well for all us mariners, if we thought
less of gold and more of the dangers we run. For hours
and hours did I stand over etarnity, on the bottom of that
schooner, Don Wan, holdin' my life, as it might be, at the
marcy of a few bubbles of air.”

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“What has all that to do with the gold? Have you deceived
me about that locker, little rascal?”

“No, sir, I've not deceived you—no, Captain Spike, no.
The bag is in the upper transom-locker, on the starboard
side. There I put it with my own hands, and a good lift
it was; and there you'll find it, if you'll cut through the
quarter-deck at the spot I can p'int out to you.”

This information seemed to give a renewed energy to all
the native cupidity of the captain, who called the men from
their suppers, and ordered them to commence heaving
anew. The word was passed to the crew that “it was now
for doubloons,” and they went to the bars and handspikes,
notwithstanding the sun had set, cheerfully and cheering.

All Spike's expedients admirably answered the intended
purposes. The stern of the schooner rose gradually, and
at each lift the heels of the shores dropped in more perpendicularly,
carried by the weights attached to them, and the
spars stood as firm props to secure all that was gained. In
a quarter of an hour, most of that part of the stern which
was within five or six feet of the tafferel, rose above the
water, coming fairly in view.

Spike now shouted to the men to “pall!” then he directed
the falls to be very gradually eased off, in order to
ascertain if the shores would still do their duty. The experiment
was successful, and presently the wreck stood in
its upright position, sustained entirely by the two spars. As
the last were now nearly perpendicular, they were capable
of bearing a very heavy weight, and Spike was so anxious
to relieve his own brig from the strain she had been enduring,
that he ordered the lashings of the blocks to be loosened,
trusting to his shores to do their duty. Against this
confidence the boatswain ventured a remonstrance, but the
gold was too near to allow the captain to listen or reply.
The carpenter was ordered over on the wreck with his
tools, while Spike, the Señor Montefalderon, and two men
to row the boat and keep it steady, went in the yawl to
watch the progress of the work. Jack Tier was ordered
to stand in the chains, and to point out, as nearly as possible,
the place where the carpenter was to cut.

When all was ready, Spike gave the word, and the chips
began to fly. By the use of the saw and the axe, a hole

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large enough to admit two or three men at a time, was soon
made in the deck, and the sounding for the much-coveted
locker commenced. By this time, it was quite dark; and
a lantern was passed down from the brig, in order to enable
those who searched for the locker to see. Spike had
breasted the yawl close up to the hole, where it was held
by the men, while the captain himself passed the lantern
and his own head into the opening to reconnoitre.

“Ay, it's all right!” cried the voice of the captain from
within his cell-like cavity. “I can just see the lid of the
locker that Jack means, and we shall soon have what we
are a'ter. Carpenter, you may as well slip off your clothes
at once, and go inside; I will point out to you the place
where to find the locker. You're certain, Jack, it was the
starboard locker?”

“Ay, ay, sir, the starboard locker, and no other.”

The carpenter had soon got into the hole, as naked as
when he was born. It was a gloomy-looking place for a
man to descend into at that hour, the light from the lantern
being no great matter, and half the time it was shaded by
the manner in which Spike was compelled to hold it.

“Take care and get a good footing, carpenter,” said the
captain, in a kinder tone than common, “before you let go
with your hands; but I suppose you can swim, as a matter
of course?”

“No, sir, not a stroke—I never could make out in the
water at all.”

“Have the more 'care, then. Had I known as much, I
would have sent another hand down; but mind your footing.
More to the left, man—more to the left. That is
the lid of the locker—your hand is on it; why do you not
open it?”

“It is swelled by the water, sir, and will need a chisel,
or some tool of that sort. Just call out to one of the men,
sir, if you please, to pass me a chisel from my tool-chest.
A good stout one will be best.”

This order was given, and, during the delay it caused,
Spike encouraged the carpenter to be cool, and above all
to mind his footing. His own eagerness to get at the gold
was so great that he kept his head in at the hole,

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completely cutting off the man within from all communication with
the outer world.

“What's the matter with you?” demanded Spike, a
little sternly. “You shiver, and yet the water cannot be
cold in this latitude. No, my hand makes it just the right
warmth to be pleasant.”

“It's not the water, Captain Spike—I wish they would
come with the chisel. Did you hear nothing, sir? I'm
certain I did!”

“Hear!—what is there here to be heard, unless there
may be some fish inside, thrashing about to get out of the
vessel's hold?”

“I am sure I heard something like a groan, Captain
Spike. I wish you would let me come out, sir, and I'll go
for the chisel myself; them men will never find it.”

“Stay where you are, coward! are you afraid of dead
men standing against walls? Stay where you are. Ah!
here is the chisel—now let us see what you can do with

“I am certain I heard another groan, Captain Spike. I
cannot work, sir. I'm of no use here—do let me come
out, sir, and send a hand down that can swim.”

Spike uttered a terrible malediction on the miserable
carpenter, one we do not care to repeat; then he cast the
light of the lantern full in the man's face. The quivering
flesh, the pallid face, and the whole countenance wrought
up almost to a frenzy of terror, astonished, as well as alarmed

“What ails you, man?” said the captain in a voice of
thunder. “Clap in the chisel, or I'll hurl you off into the
water. There is nothing here, dead or alive, to harm ye!”

“The groan, sir—I hear it again! Do let me come out,
Captain Spike.”

Spike himself, this time, heard what even he took for a
groan. It came from the depths of the vessel, apparently,
and was sufficiently distinct and audible. Astonished, yet
appalled, he thrust his shoulders into the aperture, as if to
dare the demon that tormented him, and was met by the
carpenter endeavouring to escape. In the struggle that
ensued, the lantern was dropped into the water, leaving the
half-frenzied combatants contending in the dark. The

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groan was renewed, when the truth flashed on the minds
of both.

“The shores! the shores!” exclaimed the carpenter
from within. “The shores!” repeated Spike, throwing
himself back into the boat, and shouting to his men to
“see all clear of the wreck!” The grating of one of the
shores on the coral beneath was now heard plainer than
ever, and the lower extremity slipped outward, not astern,
as had been apprehended, letting the wreck slowly settle to
the bottom again. One piercing shriek arose from the
narrow cavity within; then the gurgling of water into the
aperture was heard, when naught of sound could be distinguished
but the sullen and steady wash of the waves of the
gulf over the rocks of the reef.

The impression made by this accident was most profound.
A fatality appeared to attend the brig; and most
of the men connected the sad occurrence of this night with
the strange appearance of the previous evening. Even the
Señor Montefalderon was disposed to abandon the doubloons,
and he urged Spike to make the best of his way for
Yucatan, to seek a friendly harbour. The captain wavered,
but avarice was too strong a passion in him to be easily
diverted from its object, and he refused to give up his

As the wreck was entirely free from the brig when it
went down for the third time, no injury was sustained by
the last on this occasion. By renewing the lashings, everything
would be ready to begin the work anew—and this,
Spike was resolved to attempt in the morning. The men
were too much fatigued, and it was too dark to think of
pushing matters any further that night; and it was very
questionable whether they could have been got to work.
Orders were consequently given for all hands to turn in,
the captain, relieved by Don Juan and Jack Tier, having
arranged to keep the watches of the night.

“This is a sad accident, Don Esteban,” observed the
Mexican, as he and Spike paced the quarter-deck together,
just before the last turned in; “a sad accident! My miserable
schooner seems to be deserted by its patron saint.
Then your poor carpenter!”

“Yes, he was a good fellow enough with a saw, or an

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[figure description] Page 156.[end figure description]

adze,” answered Spike, yawning. “But we get used to
such things at sea. It's neither more nor less than a carpenter
expended. Good night, Señor Don Wan; in the
morning we'll be at that gold ag'in.”

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Cooper, James Fenimore, 1789-1851 [1848], Jack Tier, volume 2 (Burgess, Stringer & Co., New York) [word count] [eaf079v2].
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