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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
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CHAPTER XVIII. According to promise, relates how Mr. Ruffin was tied to the fife rail, and how the sailors went ashore in the jolly boat, and how they returned again.

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Mr. Paterson, the second mate, having been
married only the night before, had obtained permission
from the captain to sleep ashore with his
wife; the cook was drunk in his berth; so there
was nobody for the mate to call to his assistance
but the steward; it was not, therefore, a very
valiant feat which my shipmates had undertaken
to perform.

Jack Snaggs went on deck, and found Mr. Ruffin
walking fore and aft, with his arms folded, and
his mind, no doubt, busily employed in devising
plans for “working up” the sailors when he should
get them off soundings, to pay them for the drubbing
they had given him.

“What the h— do you want?” he growled
out, as Jack approached him.

“If you please, sir,” said Jack, in a supplicating
voice, “I left all my white shirts ashore at
the washerwoman's, and I want to borrow the loan
of the jolly-boat to go after them.”

“Go below, you mutinous scoundrel,” replied

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the mate, “or I'll blow your brains out.” At the
same time he called to the steward to bring him
his pistols,

But Mr. Snaggs was not a man to stand still
and have his brains blown out; so he caught Mr.
Ruffin in his arms, and held him fast, until the men,
who were waiting to hear a scuffle, rushed on
deck, and according to previous arrangement,
bound him hand and foot, and then lashed him to
the fife rail. The steward, in the mean time, had
come on deck with the pistols, and Mr. Ruffin ordered
him to shoot Jack Snaggs, but he declined
doing any such thing, saying he didn't ship for it.
Jerry had sense enough to reflect that pistols were
dangerous instruments, so he took them out of
the negro's hands, and threw them overboard.
They then lowered away the jolly boat, and finding
themselves masters of the ship, they came to the
conclusion that they would take their chests
ashore with them, for fear they might wish to remain
after they got there. One of the sailors
said they could go before the Mayor and swear
they were afraid of their lives, and that would
clear them from all harm. They accordingly put
all their baggage into the boat, and insisted that
I should go with them; but I was afraid of the
consequences, and refused to go. They made me

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promise that I would not release the mate, and
then they jumped into the boat, gave three cheers,
and pushed off. As soon as they were gone, I
jumped down into the forecastle, crept into a berth,
and snored away with all my might, pretending to
be fast asleep.

Mr. Ruffin was no sooner set at liberty by the
steward, than he came forward, swearing and cursing
most horribly; he jumped down into the forecastle,
and going to the berth where the black
cook was fast asleep, began to flog him with a
piece of tarred rope; but finding he could not
wake up the negro, he came to the berth where I
lay, probably attracted by the noise I made
through my nose, in trying to appear as though I
was sound asleep, and the first thing I perceived
was a stinging cut across my shoulder from a
rope's end. I started up to avoid a repetition.
“Haul yourself out of that, you green horn,”
exclaimed Mr. Ruffin, “and come upon deck and
keep watch.” So without any opposition, I followed
Mr. Ruffin on deck; he ordered me to keep
watch for the remainder of the night, and to
rouse him at seven bells in the morning; he
then went below, and after knocking the steward
down, and kicking him for falling, he went to

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I paced the deck until I grew weary and sleepy,
and then I wrapped myself up in a monkey jacket
and lay down, and was soon lost in sleep.
Dreams are not often interesting at second hand,
so I shall not intrude upon my kind reader those
with which I was visited on this occasion.

I felt a sudden twinge at my ear, which broght
me upon my feet, and opening my eyes, the first
object I saw was the ugly face of Mr. Ruffin.
“This is a pretty way to keep watch,” said the
mate; “the sun has been up these two hours.”

“I dare say,” I replied, rubbing my eyes.

I felt stiff and lame, and it was some time before I
could move myself with my accustomed activity.
Mr. Ruffin made a signal of distress, by hoisting the
ensign union down, and very soon Captain Gunnel
came off with a boat full of men. The mate related
to him the particulars of the last night's rebellion,
with a few gratuitous additions respecting
his own valorous achievements; at which Captain
Gunnel was so enraged, that he called the steward
to him, and then knocked him down the cabin
stairs, for having refused to shoot Jack Snaggs;
he then struck the cook over the head with an iron
soup ladle, and shook his finger at me in a threatening
manner. After having promised to do a good
many horrible things, he got into the boat and

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started for the shore, and in less than an hour, he
returned with the ship's jolly boat, and all the deserters;
but they were as drunk as lords, and Mr.
Ruffin, the cook, and myself, were forced to hoist
them on board. Another boat came off soon after,
with half a dozen riggers, and the pilot; the wind
springing up fair, the ship was got underway, and
we were soon outside of the Hook, and before sunset,
the Highlands of Neversink looked like a little
blue speck in the horizon.

The first three days I was deadly sick, and I am
entirely ignorant of every thing that took place
during that time. The fourth day I began to recover
my appetite, and as it returned I devoured the
coarse food voraciously, which my stomach had
refused to receive before. I gradually gained
strength, and ran up and down the rigging without
fear, and felt as happy and as careless as the porpoises,
which leaped about our ship's bows. All
the sailors, with the exception of Jack Snaggs, had
recovered from the effects of their dissipation, and
they jumped at the call of Mr. Ruffin, and appeared
to obey his orders with as hearty a will as
though nothing had ever happened between them.
Captain Gunnell had lain aside his white waistcoat
and ruffle shirt, and made his appearance on the
quarter deck, in a dress not much better than a

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sailors. I have no doubt he felt himself much more
at his ease, than he did when dressed up in his
shore suit.

The weather was bright and warm, and every
thing appeared joyous and pleasant; the ship
bounded and dashed through the water, leaving a
foaming white track behind her, and throwing the
spray from her bows like drifts of snow; the very
waves appeared to leap up with pleasure, and the
glorious sun seemed to look down upon us with
intelligent kindness, for there was not another object
that we could see upon the waters, to be gladdened
by his beams; and at night the stars twinkled
merrily and brightly, as though they kept watch
over our destinies; the winds and the waves made
music expressly for our ears, at least I could not
but think so, for there were none to participate
with us in these delights. I was very happy, and
had it not been for thoughts of home, and dreams of
Georgiana De Lancey, I could have remained forever
at sea; at least I felt so then. Every day I
learned the name of some new rope, and added to
my nautical acomplishments, by practising, in my
watch below, the art of making running bowlines
and turk's heads.

I have said that all hands had recovered from
the effects of their drinking, but Jack Snaggs; he,

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unfortunately, had contrived to smuggle on board
in his chest a jug of rum, of which he drank so
constantly, that the delirium tremens, or, as the
sailors called it, the horrors, was the consequence.
It was a melancholy sight to see a stout vigorous
man, like Jack, stand with terrified looks, and cry
out that the evil one was in pursuit of him; whenever
he laid down in his birth, he would exclaim,
“there he is, there he is — save me, save me,”
and then the sweat would start upon his forehead,
and his teeth would chatter like a man's in an ague

On the fifth day after we left port, towards sunset,
a heavy black cloud was seen in the horizon
ahead, and, as it grew dark, a constant succession
of flashes of vivid lightning appeared to dart from
it. The sailors said we were getting into the Gulph
Stream. The cloud began to rise as we approached
it, and the air grew warm and oppressive. We
were soon in thick darkness, which was relieved,
however, by continual flashes of lightning; the
thunder pealed and rattled over our heads, and our
ship trembled like a leaf; soon the rain came
down in torrents, and sudden gusts of wind assailed
us on either quarter. Fortunately, we had
shortened sail, and made every preparation for a
storm before it grew dark. The courses were

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hauled up, the topsails close reefed, the jib and
spanker hauled down, and a storm staysail set. All
hands had been called upon deck, except Jack
Snaggs, who, on account of his horrors, was allowed
to remain below; and we all stood huddled
together, on the quarter deck, that we might be in
readiness to carry into execution any orders which
should be given. For my own part, I enjoyed the
sublimity of the scene highly, and felt not the least
fear; indeed, the only thing which annoyed me was
the water running down my back, which rather
dampened my admiration of the tempest. The
sky was pitch black, but the sea was covered with
little particles of luminous matter, so numerous and
so bright, that they cast a greenish glare upon our
ship, and showed in strong relief all her spars and
ropes against the sky; in addition to this strange
and unnatural light, a ball of phosphorescent matter
had gathered at each mast head, and at the ends
of the yards, and gave the ship the appearance of
being illuminated with goblin lanterns. These were
novel sights to me, but to the sailors, and even to
Captain Gunnel and the mate, they were sights of
terror; these men who, on ordinary occasions,
were full of ribald jests and wanton oaths, now
stood with hushed voices, apparently waiting for
some expected evil. They knew from experience,

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the dangers which surrounded them; but I, from
ignorance, was without fear or apprehension. I
stood looking over the gunnel, watching the
lightning as it crinkled along on the surface of the
waves, when a shrill cry rising above the tumult of
the elements, and the pelting of the rain and the
roaring of the thunder, caused all hands to start
with fear. The sound came from the forward part
of the ship, and I recognized in it the voice of
Jack Snaggs; a flash of lightning the next moment
showed the poor wretch standing between the
night heads, with his hands thrown above his
head, as if preparing to leap into the ocean.
“Bear a hand forward,” exclaimed the captain,
“and save him—be quick.” But it was too late;
we heard him as he plunged, and I ran to the ship's
side, and caught a glimpse of him struggling in
the water; we threw overboard all the loose articles
about deck, but they were of no avail; it was
the last we ever saw of poor Jack.

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Briggs, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1804-1877 [1839], The adventures of Harry Franco. Volume 1 (F. Saunders, New York) [word count] [eaf025v1].
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