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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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Leander dived for love, Leucadia's cliff
The Lesbian Sappho leap'd from in a miff,
To punish Phaon; Icarus went dead,
Because the wax did not continue stiff;
And, had he minded what his father said,
He had not given a name unto his watery bed.

We must now advance the time several days, and change
the scene to a distant part of the ocean; within the tropics
indeed. The females had suffered slight attacks of sea-sickness,
and recovered from them, and the brig was safe
from all her pursuers. The manner of Spike's escape was
simple enough, and without any necromancy. While the
steamer, on the one hand, was standing away to the northward
and eastward, in order to head him off, and the
schooner was edging in with the island, in order to prevent
his beating up to windward of it, within its shadows, the
brig had run close round the northern margin of the land,
and hauled up to leeward of the island, passing between it
and the steamer. All this time, her movements were concealed
from the schooner by the island itself, and from the
steamer, by its shadow and dark back-ground, aided by the
distance. By making short tacks, this expedient answered
perfectly well; and, at the very moment when the two
revenue vessels met, at midnight, about three leagues to

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leeward of Blok Island, the brigantine, Molly Swash, was
just clearing its most weatherly point, on the larboard tack,
and coming out exactly at the spot where the steamer was
when first seen that afternoon. Spike stood to the westward,
until he was certain of having the island fairly between
him and his pursuers, when he went about, and filled
away on his course, running out to sea again on an easy
bowline. At sunrise the next day he was fifty miles to the
southward and eastward of Montauk; the schooner was
going into New London, her officers and people quite chop-fallen;
and the steamer was paddling up the Sound, her
captain being fully persuaded that the runaways had returned
in the direction from which they had come, and might yet
be picked up in that quarter.

The weather was light, just a week after the events related
in the close of the last chapter. By this time the
brig had got within the influence of the trades; and, it
being the intention of Spike to pass to the southward of
Cuba, he had so far profited by the westerly winds, as to
get well to the eastward of the Mona Passage, the strait
through which he intended to shape his course on making
the islands. Early on that morning Mrs. Budd had taken
her seat on the trunk of the cabin, with a complacent air,
and arranged her netting, some slight passages of gallantry,
on the part of the captain, having induced her to propose
netting him a purse. Biddy was going to and fro, in quest
of silks and needles, her mistress having become slightly
capricious in her tastes of late, and giving her, on all such
occasions, at least a double allowance of occupation. As
for Rose, she sat reading beneath the shade of the coach-house
deck, while the handsome young mate was within
three feet of her, working up his logarithms, but within the
sanctuary of his own state-room; the open door and window
of which, however, gave him every facility he could desire
to relieve his mathematics, by gazing at the sweet countenance
of his charming neighbor. Jack Tier and Josh were
both passing to and fro, as is the wont of stewards, between
the camboose and the cabin, the breakfast table being just
then in the course of preparation. In all other respects,
always excepting the man at the wheel, who stood within a
fathom of Rose, Spike had the quarter-deck to himself, and

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did not fail to pace its weather-side with an air that denoted
the master and owner. After exhibiting his sturdy, but
short, person in this manner, to the admiring eyes of all
beholders, for some time, the captain suddenly took a seat
at the side of the relict, and dropped into the following

“The weather is moderate, Madam Budd; quite moderate,”
observed Spike, a sentimental turn coming over him
at the moment. “What I call moderate and agreeable.”

“So much the better for us; the ladies are fond of
moderation, sir.”

“Not in admiration, Madam Budd—ha! ha! ha! no,
not in admiration. Immoderation is what they like when
it comes to that. I'm a single man, but I know that the
ladies like admiration—mind where you're sheering to,”
the captain said, interrupting himself a little fiercely, considering
the nature of the subject, in consequence of Jack
Tier's having trodden on his toe in passing—“or I'll teach
you the navigation of the quarter-deck, Mr. Burgoo!”

“Moderation—moderation, my good captain,” said the
simpering relict. “As to admiration, I confess that it is
agreeable to us ladies; more especially when it comes from
gentlemen of sense, and intelligence, and experience.”

Rose fidgeted, having heard every word that was said,
and her face flushed; for she doubted not that Harry's
ears were as good as her own. As for the man at the
wheel, he turned the tobacco over in his mouth, hitched up
his trousers, and appeared interested, though somewhat
mystified—the conversation was what he would have
termed “talking dictionary,” and he had some curiosity to
learn how the captain would work his way out of it. It
is probable that Spike himself had some similar gleamings
of the difficulties of his position, for he looked a little
troubled, though still resolute. It was the first time he had
ever lain yard-arm and yard-arm with a widow, and he had
long entertained a fancy that such a situation was trying to
the best of men.

“Yes, Madam Budd, yes,” he said, “exper'ence and sense
carry weight with 'em, wherever they go. I'm glad to find
that you entertain these just notions of us gentlemen, and
make a difference between boys and them that's seen and

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known exper'ence. For my part, I count youngsters under
forty as so much lumber about decks, as to any comfort and
calculations in keepin' a family, as a family ought to be

Mrs. Budd looked interested, but she remained silent on
hearing this remark, as became her sex.

“Every man ought to settle in life, some time or other,
Madam Budd, accordin' to my notion, though no man ought
to be in a boyish haste about it,” continued the captain.
“Now, in my own case, I've been so busy all my youth—
not that I'm very old now, but I'm no boy—but all my
younger days have been passed in trying to make things
meet, in a way to put any lady who might take a fancy to

“Oh! captain—that is too strong! The ladies do not
take fancies for gentlemen, but the gentlemen take fancies
for ladies!”

“Well, well, you know what I mean, Madam Budd; and
so long as the parties understand each other, a word dropped,
or a word put into a charter-party, makes it neither
stronger nor weaker. There's a time, howsomever, in every
man's life, when he begins to think of settling down, and
of considerin' himself as a sort of mooring-chain, for
children and the likes of them to make fast to. Such is
my natur', I will own; and ever since I've got to be intimate
in your family, Madam Budd, that sentiment has
grown stronger and stronger in me, till it has got to be
uppermost in all my idees. Bone of my bone, and flesh of
my flesh, as a body might say.”

Mrs. Budd now looked more than interested, for she
looked a little confused, and Rose began to tremble for her
aunt. It was evident that the parties most conspicuous in
this scene were not at all conscious that they were overheard,
the intensity of their attention being too much concentrated
on what was passing to allow of any observation
without their own narrow circle. What may be thought
still more extraordinary, but what in truth was the most
natural of all, each of the parties was so intently bent on
his, or her, own train of thought, that neither in the least
suspected any mistake.

“Grown with your growth, and strengthened with your

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strength,” rejoined the relict, smiling kindly enough on the
captain to have encouraged a much more modest man than
he happened to be.

“Yes, Madam Budd—very just that remark; grown
with my strength, and strengthened with my growth, as
one might say; though I've not done much at growing for
a good many years. Your late husband, Captain Budd, often
remarked how very early I got my growth; and rated me
as an `able-bodied' hand, when most lads think it an honour
to be placed among the `or'naries.' ”

The relict looked grave; and she wondered at any man's
being so singular as to allude to a first husband, at the very
moment he was thinking of offering himself for a second.
As for herself, she had not uttered as many words in the
last four years, as she had uttered in that very conversation,
without making some allusion to her “poor dear Mr. Budd.”
The reader is not to do injustice to the captain's widow,
however, by supposing for a moment that she was actually
so weak as to feel any tenderness for a man like Spike,
which would be doing a great wrong to both her taste and
her judgment, as Rose well knew, even while most annoyed
by the conversation she could not but overhear. All that
influenced the good relict was that besetting weakness of
her sex, which renders admiration so universally acceptable;
and predisposes a female, as it might be, to listen to a suitor
with indulgence, and some little show of kindness, even
when resolute to reject him. As for Rose, to own the truth,
her aunt did not give her a thought, as yet, notwithstanding
Spike was getting to be so sentimental.

“Yes, your late excellent and honourable consort always
said that I got my growth sooner than any youngster he
ever fell in with,” resumed the captain, after a short pause;
exciting fresh wonder in his companion, that he would persist
in lugging in the “dear departed” so very unseasonably.
“I am a great admirer of all the Budd family, my good
lady, and only wish my connection with it had never tarminated;
if tarminated it can be called.”

“It need not be terminated, Captain Spike, so long as
friendship exists in the human heart.”

“Ay, so it is always with you ladies; when a man is
bent on suthin' closer and more interestin' like, you're for

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putting it off on friendship. Now friendship is good enough
in its way, Madam Budd, but friendship is n't love.”

Love!” echoed the widow, fairly starting, though she
looked down at her netting, and looked as confused as she
knew how. “That is a very decided word, Captain Spike,
and should never be mentioned to a woman's ear lightly.”

So the captain now appeared to think, too, for no sooner
had he delivered himself of the important monosyllable,
than he left the widow's side, and began to pace the deck,
as it might be to moderate his own ardour. As for Rose,
she blushed, if her more practised aunt did not; while Harry
Mulford laughed heartily, taking good care, however, not
to be heard. The man at the wheel turned the tobacco
again, gave his trousers another hitch, and wondered anew
whither the skipper was bound. But the drollest manifestation
of surprise came from Josh, the steward, who was
passing along the lee-side of the quarter-deck, with a tea-pot
in his hand, when the energetic manner of the captain
sent the words “friendship is n't love” to his ears. This
induced him to stop for a single instant, and to cast a wondering
glance behind him; after which he moved on toward
the galley, mumbling as he went—“Lub! what he want
of lub, or what lub want of him! Well, I do t'ink Captain
Spike bowse his jib out pretty 'arly dis mornin'.”

Captain Spike soon got over the effects of his effort, and
the confusion of the relict did not last any material length
of time. As the former had gone so far, however, he
thought the present an occasion as good as another to bring
matters to a crisis.

“Our sentiments sometimes get to be so strong, Madam
Budd,” resumed the lover, as he took his seat again on the
trunk, “that they run away with us. Men is liable to be
run away with as well as ladies. I once had a ship run
away with me, and a pretty time we had of it. Did you
ever hear of a ship's running away with her people, Madam
Budd, just as your horse ran away with your buggy?”

“I suppose I must have heard of such things, sir, my
education having been so maritime, though just at this moment
I cannot recall an instance. When my horse ran
away, the buggy was cap-asided. Did your vessel cap-aside
on the occasion you mention?”

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“No, Madam Budd, no. The ship was off the wind at
the time I mean, and vessels do not capsize when off the
wind. I'll tell you how it happened. We was a scuddin'
under a goose-wing foresail—”

“Yes, yes,” interrupted the relict, eagerly. “I've often
heard of that sail, which is small, and used only in tempests.”

“Heavy weather, Madam Budd—only in heavy weather.”

“It is amazing to me, captain, how you seamen manage
to weigh the weather. I have often heard of light weather
and heavy weather, but never fairly understood the manner
of weighing it.”

“Why we do make out to ascertain the difference,” replied
the captain, a little puzzled for an answer; “and I
suppose it must be by means of the barometer, which goes
up and down like a pair of scales. But the time I mean,
we was a scuddin' under a goose-wing foresail—”

“A sail made of goose's wings, and a beautiful object it
must be; like some of the caps and cloaks that come from
the islands, which are all of feathers, and charming objects
are they. I beg pardon—you had your goose's wings

“Yes, Madam Budd, yes; we was steering for a Mediterranean
port, intending to clear a mole-head, when a sea
took us under the larboard-quarter, gave us such a sheer
to-port as sent our cat-head ag'in a spile, and raked away
the chain-plates of the top-mast back-stays, bringing down
all the forrard hamper about our ears.”

This description produced such a confusion in the mind
of the widow, that she was glad when it came to an end.
As for the captain, fearful that the “goose's wings” might
be touched upon again, he thought it wisest to attempt
another flight on those of Cupid.

“As I was sayin', Madam Budd, friendship is n't love; no,
not a bit of it! Friendship is a common sort of feelin':
but love, as you must know by exper'ence, Madam Budd, is
an uncommon sort of feelin'.”

“Fie, Captain Spike, gentlemen should never allude to
ladies knowing any thing about love. Ladies respect, and
admire, and esteem, and have a regard for gentlemen; but
it is almost too strong to talk about their love.”

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“Yes, Madam Budd, yes; I dare say it is so, and ought
to be so; and I ask pardon for having said as much as I
did. But my love for your niece is of so animated and
lastin' a natur', that I scarce know what I did say.”

“Captain Spike, you amaze me! I declare I can hardly
breathe for astonishment. My niece! Surely you do not
mean Rosy!”

“Who else should I mean? My love for Miss Rose is
so very decided and animated, I tell you, Madam Budd,
that I will not answer for the consequences, should you not
consent to her marryin' me.”

“I can scarce believe my ears! You, Stephen Spike,
and an old friend of her uncle's, wishing to marry his

“Just so, Madam Budd; that's it, to a shavin'. The
regard I have for the whole family is so great, that nothin'
less than the hand of Miss Rose in marriage can, what I
call, mitigate my feelin's.”

Now the relict had not one spark of tenderness herself
in behalf of Spike; while she did love Rose better than
any human being, her own self excepted. But she had
viewed all the sentiment of that morning, and all the fine
speeches of the captain, very differently from what the present
state of things told her she ought to have viewed them;
and she felt the mortification natural to her situation. The
captain was so much bent on the attainment of his own
object, that he saw nothing else, and was even unconscious
that his extraordinary and somewhat loud discourse had
been overheard. Least of all did he suspect that his admiration
had been mistaken; and that in what he called
“courtin' ” the niece, he had been all the while “courtin' ”
the aunt. But little apt as she was to discover any thing,
Mrs. Budd had enough of her sex's discernment in a matter
of this sort, to perceive that she had fallen into an awkward
mistake, and enough of her sex's pride to resent it. Taking
her work in her hand, she left her seat, and descended to
the cabin, with quite as much dignity in her manner as it
was in the power of one of her height and “build” to express.
What is the most extraordinary, neither she nor
Spike ever ascertained that their whole dialogue had been
overheard. Spike continued to pace the quarter-deck for

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several minutes, scarce knowing what to think of the relict's
manner, when his attention was suddenly drawn to other
matters by the familiar cry of “sail-ho!”

This was positively the first vessel with which the Molly
Swash had fallen in since she lost sight of two or three craft
that had passed her in the distance, as she left the American
coast. As usual, this cry brought all hands on deck, and
Mulford out of his state-room.

It has been stated already that the brig was just beginning
to feel the trades, and it might have been added, to see the
mountains of San Domingo. The winds had been variable
for the last day or two, and they still continued light, and
disposed to be unsteady, ranging from north-east to south-east,
with a preponderance in favour of the first point. At
the cry of “sail-ho!” everybody looked in the indicated
direction, which was west, a little northerly, but for a long
time without success. The cry had come from aloft, and
Mulford went up as high as the fore-top before he got any
glimpse of the stranger at all. He had slung a glass, and
Spike was unusually anxious to know the result of his examination.

“Well, Mr. Mulford, what do you make of her?” he
called out as soon as the mate announced that he saw the
strange vessel.

“Wait a moment, sir, till I get a look,—she's a long way
off, and hardly visible.”

“Well, sir, well?”

“I can only see the heads of her top-gallant sails. She
seems a ship steering to the southward, with as many kites
flying as an Indiaman in the trades. She looks as if she
were carrying royal stun'-sails, sir.”

“The devil she does! Such a chap must not only be in
a hurry, but he must be strong-handed to give himself all
this trouble in such light and var'able winds. Are his yards
square?—Is he man-of-war-ish?”

“There's no telling, sir, at this distance; though I rather
think its stun'-sails that I see. Go down and get your
breakfast, and in half an hour I'll give a better account of

This was done, Mrs. Budd appearing at the table with
great dignity in her manner. Although she had so

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naturally supposed that Spike's attentions had been intended for
herself, she was rather mortified than hurt on discovering
her mistake. Her appetite, consequently, was not impaired,
though her stomach might have been said to be very full.
The meal passed off without any scene, notwithstanding,
and Spike soon re-appeared on deck, still masticating the
last mouthful like a man in a hurry, and a good deal à
l' Américaine
. Mulford saw his arrival, and immediately
levelled his glass again.

“Well, what news now, sir?” called out the captain.
“You must have a better chance at him by this time, for I
can see the chap from off the coach-house here.”

“Ay, ay, sir; he's a bit nearer, certainly. I should say
that craft is a ship under stun'-sails, looking to the eastward
of south, and that there are caps with gold bands on her

“How low down can you see her?” demanded Spike, in
a voice of thunder.

So emphatic and remarkable was the captain's manner in
putting this question, that the mate cast a look of surprise
beneath him ere he answered it. A look with the glass succeeded,
when the reply was given.

“Ay, ay, sir; there can be no mistake—it's a cruiser,
you may depend on it. I can see the heads of her topsails
now, and they are so square and symmetrical, that gold
bands are below beyond all doubt.”

“Perhaps he's a Frenchman—Johnny Crapaud keeps
cruisers in these seas as well as the rest on'em.”

“Johnny Crapaud's craft don't spread such arms, sir.
The ship is either English or American; and he's heading
for the Mona Passage as well as ourselves.”

“Come down, sir, come down—there's work to be done
as soon as you have breakfasted.”

Mulford did come down, and he was soon seated at the
table, with both Josh and Jack Tier for attendants. The
aunt and the niece were in their own cabin, a few yards distant,
with the door open.

“What a fuss'e cap'in make 'bout dat sail,” grumbled
Josh, who had been in the brig so long that he sometimes
took liberties with even Spike himself. “What good he
t'ink t'will do to measure him inch by inch? Bye'm by he

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get alongside, and den 'e ladies even can tell all about

“He nat'rally wishes to know who gets alongside,” put
in Tier, somewhat apologetically.

“What matter dat. All sort of folk get alongside of Molly
Swash; and what good it do 'em? Yoh! yoh! yoh! I do
remem'er sich times vid'e ole hussy!”

“What old hussy do you mean?” demanded Jack Tier a
little fiercely, and in a way to draw Mulford's eyes from the
profile of Rose's face to the visages of his two attendants.

“Come, come, gentlemen, if you please; recollect where
you are,” interrupted the mate authoritatively. “You are
not now squabbling in your galley, but are in the cabin.
What is it to you, Tier, if Josh does call the brig an old
hussy; she is old, as we all know, and years are respectable;
and as for her being a `hussy,' that is a term of endearment
sometimes. I've heard the captain himself call
the Molly a `hussy,' fifty times, and he loves her as he
does the apple of his eye.”

This interference put an end to the gathering storm as a
matter of course, and the two disputants shortly after passed
on deck. No sooner was the coast clear than Rose stood
in the door of her own cabin.

“Do you think the strange vessel is an American?” she
asked eagerly.

“It is impossible to say—English or American I make
no doubt. But why do you inquire?”

“But my aunt and myself desire to quit the brig, and if
the stranger should prove to be an American vessel of war,
might not the occasion be favourable?”

“And what reason can you give for desiring to do so?”

“What signifies a reason,” answered Rose with spirit.
“Spike is not our master, and we can come and go as we
may see fit.”

“But a reason must be given to satisfy the commander
of the vessel of war. Craft of that character are very particular
about the passengers they receive; nor would it be
altogether wise in two unprotected females to go on board
a cruiser, unless in a case of the most obvious necessity.”

“Will not what has passed this morning be thought a
sufficient reason,” added Rose, drawing nearer to the mate,

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and dropping her voice so as not to be heard by her

Mulford smiled as he gazed at the earnest but attractive
countenance of his charming companion.

“And who could tell it, or how could it be told? Would
the commander of a vessel of war incur the risk of receiving
such a person as yourself on board his vessel, for the reason
that the master of the craft she was in when he fell in with
her desired to marry her?”

Rose appeared vexed, but she was at once made sensible
that it was not quite as easy to change her vessel at sea, as
to step into a strange door in a town. She drew slowly
back into her own cabin silent and thoughtful; her aunt
pursuing her netting the whole time with an air of dignified

“Well, Mr. Mulford, well,” called out Spike at the head
of the cabin stairs, “what news from the coffee?”

“All ready, sir,” answered the mate, exchanging significant
glances with Rose. “I shall be up in a moment.”

That moment soon came, and Mulford was ready for
duty. While below, Spike had caused certain purchases
to be got aloft, and the main-hatch was open and the men
collected around it, in readiness to proceed with the work.
Harry asked no questions, for the preparations told him
what was about to be done, but passing below, he took
charge of the duty there, while the captain superintended
the part that was conducted on deck. In the course of the
next hour eight twelve-pound carronades were sent up out
of the hold, and mounted in as many of the ports which
lined the bulwarks of the brigantine. The men seemed to
be accustomed to the sort of work in which they were now
engaged, and soon had their light batteries in order, and
ready for service. In the mean time the two vessels kept
on their respective courses, and by the time the guns were
mounted, there was a sensible difference in their relative
positions. The stranger had drawn so near the brigantine
as to be very obvious from the latter's deck, while the brigantine
had drawn so much nearer to the islands of San
Domingo and Porto Rico, as to render the opening between
them, the well-known Mona Passage, distinctly visible.

Of all this Spike appeared to be fully aware, for he quitted

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the work several times before it was finished, in order to
take a look at the stranger, and at the land. When the
batteries were arranged, he and Mulford, each provided with
a glass, gave a few minutes to a more deliberate examination
of the first.

“That's the Mona ahead of us,” said the captain; “of
that there can be no question, and a very pretty land-fall
you've made of it, Harry. I'll allow you to be as good a
navigator as floats.”

“Nevertheless, sir, you have not seen fit to let me know
whither the brig is really bound this voyage.”

“No matter for that, young man—no matter, as yet.
All in good time. When I tell you to lay your course for
the Mona, you can lay your course for the Mona; and, as
soon as we are through the passage, I'll let you know what
is wanted next—if that bloody chap, who is nearing us,
will let me.”

“And why should any vessel wish to molest us on our
passage, Captain Spike?”

“Why, sure enough! It's war-times, you know, and
war-times always bring trouble to the trader—though it
sometimes brings profit, too.”

As Spike concluded, he gave his mate a knowing wink,
which the other understood to mean that he expected himself
some of the unusual profit to which he alluded. Mulford
did not relish this secret communication, for the past
had induced him to suspect the character of the trade in
which his commander was accustomed to engage. Without
making any sort of reply, or encouraging the confidence by
even a smile, he levelled his glass at the stranger, as did
Spike, the instant he ceased to grin.

“That's one of Uncle Sam's fellows!” exclaimed the
captain, dropping the glass. “I'd swear to the chap in
any admiralty court on 'arth.”

“'T is a vessel of war, out of all doubt,” returned the
mate, “and under a cloud of canvas. I can make out the
heads of her courses now, and see that she is carrying hard,
for a craft that is almost close-hauled.”

“Ay, ay; no merchantmen keeps his light stun'-sails
set, as near the wind as that fellow's going. He's a big
chap, too—a frigate, at least, by his canvas.”

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“I do not know, sir—they build such heavy corvettes
now-a-days, that I should rather take her for one of them.
They tell me ships are now sent to sea which mount only
two-and-twenty guns, but which measure quite a thousand

“With thunderin' batteries, of course.”

“With short thirty-twos and a few rapping sixty-eight
Paixhans—or Columbiads, as they ought in justice to be

“And you think this chap likely to be a craft of that sort?”

“Nothing is more probable, sir. Government has several,
and, since this war has commenced, it has been sending
off cruiser after cruiser into the Gulf. The Mexicans dare
not send a vessel of war to sea, which would be sending
them to Norfolk, or New York, at once; but no one can
say when they may begin to make a prey of our commerce.”

“They have taken nothing as yet, Mr. Mulford, and, to
tell you the truth, I'd much rather fall in with one of Don
Montezuma's craft than one of Uncle Sam's.”

“That is a singular taste, for an American, Captain
Spike, unless you think, now our guns are mounted, we
can handle a Mexican,” returned Mulford coldly. “At all
events, it is some answer to those who ask `What is the
navy about?' that months of war have gone by, and not an
American has been captured. Take away that navy, and
the insurance offices in Wall-street would tumble like a New
York party-wall in a fire.”

“Nevertheless, I'd rather take my chance, just now,
with Don Montezuma than with Uncle Sam.”

Mulford did not reply, though the earnest manner in
which Spike expressed himself, helped to increase his distrust
touching the nature of the voyage. With him the
captain had no further conference, but it was different as
respects the boatswain. That worthy was called aft, and
for half an hour he and Spike were conversing apart, keeping
their eyes fastened on the strange vessel most of the

It was noon before all uncertainly touching the character
of the stranger ceased. By that time, however, both vessels
were entering the Mona Passage; the brig well to windward,
on the Porto Rico side; while the ship was so far to

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leeward as to be compelled to keep everything close-hauled,
in order to weather the island. The hull of the last could
now be seen, and no doubt was entertained about her being
a cruiser, and one of some size, too. Spike thought she
was a frigate; but Mulford still inclined to the opinion that
she was one of the new ships; perhaps a real corvette, or
with a light spar-deck over her batteries. Two or three of
the new vessels were known to be thus fitted, and this might
be one. At length all doubt on the subject ceased, the
stranger setting an American ensign, and getting so near as
to make it apparent that she had but a single line of guns.
Still she was a large ship, and the manner that she ploughed
through the brine, close-hauled as she was, extorted admiration
even from Spike.

“We had better begin to shorten sail, Mr. Mulford,” the
captain at length most reluctantly remarked. “We might
give the chap the slip, perhaps, by keeping close in under
Porto Rico, but he would give us a long chase, and might
drive us away to windward, when I wish to keep off between
Cuba and Jamaica. He's a traveller; look, how he stands
up to it under that could of canvas!”

Mulford was slow to commence on the studding-sails, and
the cruiser was getting nearer and nearer. At length a gun
was fired, and a heavy shot fell about two hundred yards
short of the brig, and a little out of line with her. On this
hint, Spike turned the hands up, and began to shorten sail.
In ten minutes the Swash was under her topsail, mainsail
and jib, with her light sails hanging in the gear, and all the
steering canvas in. In ten minutes more the cruiser was
so near as to admit of the faces of the three or four men
whose heads were above the hammock-cloths being visible,
when she too began to fold her wings. In went her royals,
topgallant-sails, and various kites, as it might be by some
common muscular agency; and up went her courses.
Everything was done at once. By this time she was crossing
the brig's wake, looking exceedingly beautiful, with her
topsails lifting, her light sails blowing out, and even her
heavy courses fluttering in the breeze. There flew the
glorious stars and stripes also; of brief existence, but full
of recollections! The moment she had room, her helm
went up, her bows fell off, and down she came, on the

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weather quarter of the Swash, so near as to render a trumpet
nearly useless.

On board the brig everybody was on deck; even the
relict having forgotten her mortification in curiosity. On
board the cruiser no one was visible, with the exception of
a few men in each top, and a group of gold-banded caps on
the poop. Among these officers stood the captain, a red-faced,
middle-aged man, with the usual signs of his rank
about him; and at his side was his lynx-eyed first lieutenant.
The surgeon and purser were also there, though they
stood a little apart from the more nautical dignitaries. The
hail that followed came out of a trumpet that was thrust
through the mizzen-rigging; the officer who used it taking
his cue from the poop.

“What brig is that?” commenced the discourse.

“The Molly Swash, of New York, Stephen Spike,

“Where from, and whither bound?”

“From New York, and bound to Key West and a market.”

A pause succeeded this answer, during which the officers
on the poop of the cruiser held some discourse with him of
the trumpet. During the interval the cruiser ranged fairly
up abeam.

“You are well to windward of your port, sir,” observed
he of the trumpet significantly.

“I know it; but it's war times, and I didn't know but
there might be piccaroons hovering about the Havanna.”

“The coast is clear, and our cruisers will keep it so. I
see you have a battery, sir!”

“Ay, ay; some old guns that I've had aboard these ten
years: they're useful, sometimes, in these seas.”

“Very true. I'll range ahead of you, and as soon as
you've room, I'll thank you to heave-to. I wish to send a
boat on board you.”

Spike was sullen enough on receiving this order, but there
was no help for it. He was now in the jaws of the lion, and
his wisest course was to submit to the penalties of his position
with the best grace he could. The necessary orders
were consequently given, and the brig no sooner got room
than she came by the wind and backed her topsail. The
cruiser went about, and passing to windward, backed her

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main-topsail just forward of the Swash's beam. Then the
latter lowered a boat, and sent it, with a lieutenant and a
midshipman in its stern-sheets, on board the brigantine. As
the cutter approached, Spike went to the gangway to receive
the strangers.

Although there will be frequent occasion to mention this
cruiser, the circumstances are of so recent occurrence, that
we do not choose to give either her name, or that of any
one belonging to her. We shall, consequently, tell the
curious, who may be disposed to turn to their navy-lists and
blue-books, that the search will be of no use, as all the
names we shall use, in reference to this cruiser, will be fictitious.
As much of the rest of our story as the reader please
may be taken for gospel; but we tell him frankly, that we
have thought it most expedient to adopt assumed names, in
connection with this vessel and all her officers. There are
good reasons for so doing; and, among others, is that of
abstaining from arming a clique to calumniate her commander,
(who, by the way, like another commander in the
Gulf that might be named, and who has actually been exposed
to the sort of tracasserie to which there is allusion, is
one of the very ablest men in the service,) in order to put
another in his place.

The officer who now came over the side of the Swash
we shall call Wallace; he was the second lieutenant of the
vessel of war. He was about thirty, and the midshipman
who followed him was a well-grown lad of nineteen. Both
had a decided man-of-war look, and both looked a little
curiously at the vessel they had boarded.

“Your servant, sir,” said Wallace, touching his cap in
reply to Spike's somewhat awkward bow. “Your brig is
the Molly Swash, Stephen Spike, bound from New York to
Key West and a market.”

“You've got it all as straight, lieutenant, as if you was
a readin' it from the log.”

“The next thing, sir, is to know of what your cargo is

“Flour; eight hundred barrels of flour.”

“Flour! Would you not do better to carry that to Liverpool?
The Mississippi must be almost turned into paste by
the quantity of flour it floats to market.”

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“Notwithstanding that, lieutenant, I know Uncle Sam's
economy so well, as to believe I shall part with every barrel
of my flour to his contractors, at a handsome profit.”

“You read Whig newspapers principally, I rather think,
Mr. Spike,” answered Wallace, in his cool, deliberate way,
smiling, however, as he spoke.

We may just as well say here, that nature intended this
gentleman for a second lieutenant, the very place he filled.
He was a capital second lieutenant, while he would not have
earned his rations as first. So well was he assured of this
peculiarity in his moral composition, that he did not wish
to be the first lieutenant of anything in which he sailed. A
respectable seaman, a well-read and intelligent man, a capital
deck officer, or watch officer, he was too indolent to
desire to be anything more, and was as happy as the day
was long, in the easy berth he filled. The first lieutenant
had been his messmate as a midshipman, and ranked him
but two on the list in his present commission; but he did
not envy him in the least. On the contrary, one of his
greatest pleasures was to get. “Working Willy,” as he called
his senior, over a glass of wine, or a tumbler of “hot stuff,”
and make him recount the labours of the day. On such
occasions, Wallace never failed to compare the situation of
“Working Willy” with his own gentlemanlike ease and
independence. As second lieutenant, his rank raised him
above most of the unpleasant duty of the ship, while it did
not raise him high enough to plunge him into the never-ending
labours of his senior. He delighted to call himself
the “ship's gentleman,” a sobriquet he well deserved, on
more accounts than one.

“You read Whig newspapers principally, I rather think,
Mr. Spike,” answered the lieutenant, as has been just mentioned,
“while we on board the Poughkeepsie indulge in
looking over the columns of the Union, as well as over those
of the Intelligencer, when by good luck we can lay our
hands on a stray number.”

“That ship, then, is called the Poughkeepsie, is she, sir?”
inquired Spike.

“Such is her name, thanks to a most beneficent and sage
provision of Congress, which has extended its parental care
over the navy so far as to imagine that a man chosen by the

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people to exercise so many of the functions of a sovereign,
is not fit to name a ship. All our two and three deckers
are to be called after states; the frigates after rivers; and
the sloops after towns. Thus it is that our craft has the
honour to be called the United States ship the `Poughkeepsie,
' instead of the `Arrow,' or the `Wasp,' or the `Curlew,'
or the `Petrel,' as might otherwise have been the case. But
the wisdom of Congress is manifest, for the plan teaches us
sailors geography.”

“Yes, sir, yes, one can pick up a bit of l'arnin' in that
way cheap. The Poughkeepsie, Captain—?”

“The United States' ship Poughkeepsie, 20, Captain
Adam Mull, at your service. But, Mr. Spike, you will
allow me to look at your papers. It is a duty I like, for it
can be performed quietly, and without any fuss.”

Spike looked distrustfully at his new acquaintance, but
went for his vessel's papers without any very apparent hesitation.
Every thing was en regle, and Wallace soon got
through with the clearance, manifest, &c. Indeed the cargo,
on paper at least, was of the simplest and least complicated
character, being composed of nothing but eight
hundred barrels of flour.

“It all looks very well on paper, Mr. Spike,” added the
boarding officer. “With your permission, we will next see
how it looks in sober reality. I perceive your main hatch
is open, and I suppose it will be no difficult matter just to
take a glance at your hold.”

“Here is a ladder, sir, that will take us at once to the
half-deck, for I have no proper 'twixt decks in this craft;
she's too small for that sort of outfit.”

“No matter, she has a hold, I suppose, and that can contain
cargo. Take me to it by the shortest road, Mr. Spike,
for I am no great admirer of trouble.”

Spike now led the way below, Wallace following, leaving
the midshipman on deck, who had fallen into conversation
with the relict and her pretty niece. The half-deck of the
brigantine contained spare sails, provisions, and water, as
usual, while quantities of old canvas lay scattered over the
cargo; more especially in the wake of the hatches, of which
there were two besides that which led from the quarter-deck.

“Flour to the number of eight hundred barrels,” said

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Wallace, striking his foot against a barrel that lay within
his reach. “The cargo is somewhat singular to come from
New York, going to Key West, my dear Spike?”

“I suppose you know what sort of a place Key West is,
sir; a bit of an island in which there is scarce so much as
a potatoe grows.”

“Ay, ay, sir; I know Key West very well, having been
in and out a dozen times. All eatables are imported, turtle
excepted. But flour can be brought down the Mississippi so
much cheaper than it can be brought from New York.”

“Have you any idee, lieutenant, what Uncle Sam's men
are paying for it at New Orleens, just to keep soul and
bodies together among the so'gers?”

“That may be true, sir—quite true, I dare say, Mr.
Spike. Have n't you a bit of a chair that a fellow can sit
down on—this half-deck of your's is none of the most comfortable
places to stand in. Thank you, sir—thank you
with all my heart. What lots of old sails you have scattered
about the hold, especially in the wake of the hatches!”

“Why, the craft being little more than in good ballast
trim, I keep the hatches off to air her; and the spray might
spit down upon the flour at odd times but for them 'ere sails.”

“Ay, a prudent caution. So you think Uncle Sam's
people will be after this flour as soon as they learn you have
got it snug in at Key West?”

“What more likely, sir? You know how it is with our
government—always wrong, whatever it does! and I can
show you paragraphs in letters written from New Orleens,
which tell us that Uncle Sam is paying seventy-five and
eighty per cent. more for flour than anybody else.”

“He must be a flush old chap to be able to do that, Spike.”

“Flush! I rather think he is. Do you know that he is
spendin', accordin' to approved accounts, at this blessed moment,
as much as half a million a day? I own a wish to be
pickin' up some of the coppers while they are scattered about
so plentifully.”

“Half a million a day! why that is only at the rate of
$187,000,000 per annum; a mere trifle, Spike, that is scarce
worth mentioning among us mariners.”

“It's so in the newspapers, I can swear, lieutenant.”

“Ay, ay, and the newspapers will swear to it, too, and

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they that gave the newspapers their cue. But no matter,
our business is with this flour. Will you sell us a barrel
or two for our mess? I heard the caterer say we should
want flour in the course of a week or so.”

Spike seemed embarrassed, though not to a degree to
awaken suspicion in his companion.

“I never sold cargo at sea, long as I've sailed and owned
a craft,” he answered, as if uncertain what to do. “If
you'll pay the price I expect to get in the Gulf, and will
take ten barrels, I do n't know but we may make a trade
on't. I shall only ask expected prices.”

“Which will be—?”

“Ten dollars a barrel. For one hundred silver dollars I
will put into your boat ten barrels of the very best brand
known in the western country.”

“This is dealing rather more extensively than I anticipated,
but we will reflect on it.”

Wallance now indolently arose and ascended to the quarter-deck,
followed by Spike, who continued to press the flour
on him, as if anxious to make money. But the lieutenant
hesitated about paying a price as high as ten dollars, or to
take a quantity as large as ten barrels.

“Our mess is no great matter after all,” he said carelessly.
“Four lieutenants, the purser, two doctors, the master, and
a marine officer, and you get us all. Nine men could
never eat ten barrels of flour, my dear Spike, you will see
for yourself, with the quantity of excellent bread we carry.
You forget the bread.”

“Not a bit of it, Mr. Wallace, since that is your name.
But such flour as this of mine has not been seen in the Gulf
this many a day. I ought in reason to ask twelve dollars
for it, and insist on such a ship as your'n's taking twenty
instead of the ten barrels.”

“I thank you, sir, the ten will more than suffice; unless,
indeed, the captain wants some for the cabin. How is it
with your steerage messes, Mr. Archer—do you want any

“We draw a little from the ship, according to rule, sir,
but we can't go as many puddings latterly as we could before
we touched last at the Havanna,” answered the laughing
midshipman. “There is n't a fellow among us, sir, that

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could pay a shore-boat for landing him, should we go in
again before the end of another month. I never knew such
a place as Havanna. They say midshipmen's money melts
there twice as soon as lieutenants' money.”

“It's clear, then, you'll not take any of the ten. I am
afraid after all, Mr. Spike, we cannot trade, unless you will
consent to let me have two barrels. I'll venture on two at
ten dollars, high as the price is.”

“I should n't forgive myself in six months for making so
had a bargain, lieutenant, so we'll say no more about it if
you please.”

“Here is a lady that wishes to say a word to you, Mr.
Wallace, before we go back to the ship, if you are at leisure
to hear her, or them—for there are two of them,” put
in Archer.

At this moment Mrs. Budd was approaching with a dignified
step, while Rose followed timidly a little in the rear.
Wallace was a good deal surprised at this application, and
Spike was quite as much provoked. As for Mulford, he
watched the interview from a distance, a great deal more
interested in its result than he cared to have known, more
especially to his commanding officer. Its object was to get
a passage in the vessel of war.

“You are an officer of that Uncle Sam vessel,” commenced
Mrs. Budd, who thought that she would so much
the more command the respect and attention of her listener,
by showing him early how familiar she was with even the
slang dialect of the seas.

“I have the honour, ma'am, to belong to that Uncle Sam
craft,” answered Wallace gravely, though he bowed politely
at the same time, looking intently at the beautiful girl in the
back-ground as he so did.

“So I've been told, sir. She's a beautiful vessel, lieutenant,
and is full jiggered, I perceive.”

For the first time in his life, or at least for the first time
since his first cruise, Wallace wore a mystified look, being
absolutely at a loss to imagine what “full jiggered” could
mean. He only looked, therefore, for he did not answer.

“Mrs. Budd means that you've a full rigged craft,” put
in Spike, anxious to have a voice in the conference, “this
vessel being only a half-rigged brig.”

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“Oh! ay; yes, yes—the lady is quite right. We are
full jiggered from our dead-eyes to our eye-bolts.”

“I thought as much, sir, from your ground hamper and
top-tackles,” added the relict smiling. “For my part there
is nothing in nature that I so much admire as a full jiggered
ship, with her canvas out of the bolt-ropes, and her clewlines
and clew-garnets braced sharp, and her yards all

“Yes, ma'am, it is just as you say, a very charming
spectacle. Our baby was born full grown, and with all her
hamper aloft just as you see her. Some persons refer vessels
to art, but I think you are quite right in referring them
to nature.”

“Nothing can be more natural to me, lieutenant, than a
fine ship standing on her canvas. It's an object to improve
the heart and to soften the understanding.”

“So I should think, ma'am,” returned Wallace, a little
quizzically, “judging from the effect on yourself.”

This speech, unfortunately timed as it was, wrought a
complete change in Rose's feelings, and she no longer
wished to exchange the Swash for the Poughkeepsie. She
saw that her aunt was laughed at in secret, and that was a
circumstance that never failed to grate on every nerve in
her system. She had been prepared to second and sustain
the intended application—she was now determined to oppose

“Yes, sir,” resumed the unconscious relict, “and to
soften the understanding. Lieutenant, did you ever cross
the Capricorn?”

“No less than six times; three going and three returning,
you know.”

“And did Neptune come on board you, and were you

“Everything was done secundem artem, ma'am. The
razor was quite an example of what are called in poetry
`thoughts too deep for tears.' ”

“That must have been delightful. As for me, I'm quite
a devotee of Neptune's; but I'm losing time, for no doubt
your ship is all ready to pull away and carry on sail—”

“Aunt, may I say a word to you before you go any further,”
put in Rose in her quiet but very controlling way.

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The aunt complied, and Wallace, as soon as left alone,
felt like a man who was released from a quick-sand, into
which every effort to extricate himself only plunged him
so much the deeper. At this moment the ship hailed, and
the lieutenant took a hasty leave of Spike, motioned to the
midshipman to precede him, and followed the latter into his
boat. Spike saw his visiter off in person, tending the side
and offering the man-ropes with his own hands. For this
civility Wallace thanked him, calling out as his boat pulled
him from the brig's side—“If we `pull away,' ” accenting
the “pull” in secret derision of the relict's mistake, “you
can pull away; our filling the topsail being a sign for you
to do the same.”

“There you go, and joy go with you,” muttered Spike,
as he descended from the gangway. “A pretty kettle of
fish would there have been cooked had I let him have his
two barrels of flour.”

The man-of-war's cutter was soon under the lee of the
ship, where it discharged its freight, when it was immediately
run up. During the whole time Wallace had been
absent, Captain Mull and his officers remained on the poop,
principally occupied in examining and discussing the merits
of the Swash. No sooner had their officer returned, however,
than an order was given to fill away, it being supposed
that the Poughkeepsie had no further concern with
the brigantine. As for Wallace, he ascended to the poop
and made the customary report.

“It's a queer cargo to be carrying to Key West from
the Atlantic coast,” observed the captain in a deliberating
sort of manner, as if the circumstance excited suspicion;
“Yet the Mexicans can hardly be in want of any such supplies.”

“Did you see the flour, Wallace?” inquired the first lieutenant,
who was well aware of his messmate's indolence.

“Yes, sir, and felt it too. The lower hold of the brig
is full of flour, and of nothing else.”

“Ware round, sir—ware round and pass athwart the
brig's wake,” interrupted the captain. “There's plenty of
room now, and I wish to pass as near that craft as we can.”

This manœuvre was executed. The sloop-of-war no
sooner filled her maintop-sail than she drew ahead, leaving

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plenty of room for the brigantine to make sail on her course.
Spike did not profit by this opening, however, but he sent
several men aloft forward, where they appeared to be getting
ready to send down the upper yards and the topgallant-mast.
No sooner was the sloop-of-war's helm put up
than that vessel passed close along the brigantine's weather
side, and kept off across her stern on her course. As she
did this the canvas was fluttering aboard her, in the process
of making sail, and Mull held a short discourse with Spike.

“Is anything the matter aloft?” demanded the man-of-war's

“Ay, ay; I've sprung my topgallant-mast, and think
this a good occasion to get another up in its place.”

“Shall I lend you a carpenter or two, Mr. Spike?”

“Thank'ee, sir, thank'ee with all my heart; but we can
do without them. It's an old stick, and it's high time a
better stood where it does. Who knows but I may be
chased and feel the want of reliable spars.”

Captain Mull smiled and raised his cap in the way of an
adieu, when the conversation ended; the Poughkeepsie
sliding off rapidly with a free wind, leaving the Swash
nearly stationary. In ten minutes the two vessels were
more than a mile apart; in twenty, beyond the reach of shot.

Notwithstanding the natural and common-place manner
in which this separation took place, there was much distrust
on board each vessel, and a good deal of consummate management
on the part of Spike. The latter knew that every
foot the sloop-of-war went on her course, carried her just
so far to leeward, placing his own brig, in-so-much, dead to
windward of her. As the Swash's best point of sailing,
relatively considered, was close-hauled, this was giving to
Spike a great security against any change of purpose on
the part of the vessel of war. Although his people were
aloft and actually sent down the topgallant-mast, it was
only to send it up again, the spar being of admirable toughness,
and as sound as the day it was cut.

“I don't think, Mr. Mulford,” said the captain sarcastically,
“that Uncle Sam's glasses are good enough to tell
the difference in wood at two leagues' distance, so we'll
trust to the old stick a little longer. Ay, ay, let 'em run off
before it, we'll find another road by which to reach our port.”

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“The sloop-of-war is going round the south side of Cuba,
Captain Spike,” answered the mate, “and I have understood
you to say that you intended to go by the same passage.”

“A body may change his mind, and no murder. Only
consider, Harry, how common it is for folks to change their
minds. I did intend to pass between Cuba and Jamaica,
but I intend it no longer. Our run from Montauk has been
oncommon short, and I've time enough to spare to go to the
southward of Jamaica too, if the notion takes me.”

“That would greatly prolong the passage, Captain Spike,—
a week at least.”

“What if it does—I've a week to spare; we're nine
days afore our time.”

“Our time for what, sir? Is there any particular time
set for a vessel's going into Key West?”

“Don't be womanish and over-cur'ous, Mulford. I sail
with sealed orders, and when we get well to windward of
Jamaica, 't will be time enough to open them.”

Spike was as good as his word. As soon as he thought
the sloop-of-war was far enough to leeward, or when she
was hull down, he filled away and made sail on the wind
to get nearer to Porto Rico. Long ere it was dark he had
lost sight of the sloop-of-war, when he altered his course to
south-westerly, which was carrying him in the direction
he named, or to windward of Jamaica.

While this artifice was being practised on board the
Molly Swash, the officers of the Poughkeepsie were not
quite satisfied with their own mode of proceeding with the
brigantine. The more they reasoned on the matter, the
more unlikely it seemed to them that Spike could be really
carrying a cargo of flour from New York to Key West, in
the expectation of disposing of it to the United States' contractors,
and the more out of the way did he seem to be in
running through the Mona Passage.

“His true course should have been by the Hole in the
Wall, and so down along the north side of Cuba, before the
wind,” observed the first lieutenant. “I wonder that never
struck you, Wallace; you, who so little like trouble.”

“Certainly I knew it, but we lazy people like running
off before the wind, and I did not know but such were Mr.

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Spike's tastes,” answered the “ship's gentleman.” “In my
judgment, the reluctance he showed to letting us have any
of his flour, is much the most suspicious circumstance in the
whole affair.”

These two speeches were made on the poop, in the presence
of the captain, but in a sort of an aside that admitted
of some of the ward-room familiarity exhibited. Captain
Mull was not supposed to hear what passed, though hear it
he in fact did, as was seen by his own remarks, which immediately

“I understood you to say, Mr. Wallace,” observed the
captain, a little drily, “that you saw the flour yourself?”

“I saw the flour-barrels, sir; and as regularly built were
they as any barrels that ever were branded. But a flour-barrel
may have contained something beside flour.”

“Flour usually makes itself visible in the handling; were
these barrels quite clean?”

“Far from it, sir. They showed flour on their staves,
like any other cargo. After all, the man may have more
sense than we give him credit for, and find a high market
for his cargo.”

Captain Mull seemed to muse, which was a hint for his
juniors not to continue the conversation, but rather to seem
to muse, too. After a short pause, the captain quietly remarked—
“Well, gentlemen, he will be coming down after
us, I suppose, as soon as he gets his new topgallant-mast
on-end, and then we can keep a bright look-out for him.
We shall cruise off Cape St. Antonio for a day or two, and
no doubt shall get another look at him. I should like to
have one baking from his flour.”

But Spike had no intention to give the Poughkeepsie the
desired opportunity. As has been stated, he stood off to the
southward on a wind, and completely doubled the eastern
end of Jamaica, when he put his helm up, and went, with
favouring wind and current, toward the northward and westward.
The consequence was, that he did not fall in with
the Poughkeepsie at all, which vessel was keeping a sharp
look-out for him in the neighbourhood of Cape St. Antonio
and the Isle of Pines, at the very moment he was running
down the coast of Yucatan. Of all the large maritime countries
of the world, Mexico, on the Atlantic, is that which is

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the most easily blockaded, by a superior naval power. By
maintaining a proper force between Key West and the
Havanna, and another squadron between Cape St. Antonio
and Loggerhead Key, the whole country, the Bay of Honduras
excepted, is shut up, as it might be in a band-box. It
is true the Gulf would be left open to the Mexicans, were
not squadrons kept nearer in; but, as for anything getting
out into the broad Atlantic, it would be next to hopeless.
The distance to be watched between the Havanna and Key
West is only about sixty miles, while that in the other direction
is not much greater.

While the Swash was making the circuit of Jamaica, as
described, her captain had little communication with his passengers.
The misunderstanding with the relict embarrassed
him as much as it embarrassed her; and he was quite willing
to let time mitigate her resentment. Rose would be
just as much in his power a fortnight hence as she was today.
This cessation in the captain's attentions gave the
females greater liberty, and they improved it, singularly
enough as it seemed to Mulford, by cultivating a strange
sort of intimacy with Jack Tier. The very day that succeeded
the delicate conversation with Mrs. Budd, to a part
of which Jack had been an auditor, the uncouth-looking
steward's assistant was seen in close conference with the
pretty Rose; the subject of their conversation being, apparently,
of a most engrossing nature. From that hour, Jack
got to be not only a confidant, but a favourite, to Mulford's
great surprise. A less inviting subject for tête-à-têtes and
confidential dialogues, thought the young man, could not
well exist; but so it was; woman's caprices are inexplicable;
and not only Rose and her aunt, but even the captious
and somewhat distrustful Biddy, manifested on all occasions
not only friendship, but kindness and consideration for Jack.

“You quite put my nose out o' joint, you Jack Tier, with
'e lady,” grumbled Josh, the steward de jure, if not now de
of the craft, “and I neber see nuttin' like it! I s'pose
you expect ten dollar, at least, from dem passenger, when
we gets in. But I'd have you to know, Misser Jack, if you
please, dat a steward be a steward, and he do n't like to hab
trick played wid him, afore he own face.”

“Poh! poh! Joshua,” answered Jack good-naturedly,

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“do n't distress yourself on a consail. In the first place,
you've got no nose to be put out of joint; or, if you have
really a nose, it has no joint. It's nat'ral for folks to like
their own colour, and the ladies prefar me, because I'm

“No so werry white as all dat, nudder,” grumbled Josh.
“I see great many whiter dan you. But, if dem lady like
you so much as to gib you ten dollar, as I expects, when
we gets in, I presumes you'll hand over half, or six dollar,
of dat money to your superior officer, as is law in de case.”

“Do you call six the half of ten, Joshua, my scholar, eh?”

“Well, den, seven, if you like dat better. I wants just
half, and just half I means to git.”

“And half you shall have, maty. I only wish you would
just tell me where we shall be, when we gets in.”

“How I know, white man? Dat belong to skipper, and
better ask him. If he do n't gib you lick in de chop, p'rhaps
he tell you.”

As Jack Tier had no taste for “licks in the chops,” he
did not follow Josh's advice. But his agreeing to give half
of the ten dollars to the steward kept peace in the cabins.
He was even so scrupulous of his word, as to hand to Josh
a half-eagle that very day; money he had received from
Rose; saying he would trust to Providence for his own half
of the expected douceur. This concession placed Jack Tier
on high grounds with his “superior officer,” and from that
time the former was left to do the whole of the customary
service of the ladies' cabin.

As respects the vessel, nothing worthy of notice occurred
until she had passed Loggerhead Key, and was fairly
launched in the Gulf of Mexico. Then, indeed, Spike took
a step that greatly surprised his mate. The latter was directed
to bring all his instruments, charts, &c., and place
them in the captain's state-room, where it was understood
they were to remain until the brig got into port. Spike
was but an indifferent navigator, while Mulford was one of
a higher order than common. So much had the former
been accustomed to rely on the latter, indeed, as they approached
a strange coast, that he could not possibly have
taken any step, that was not positively criminal, which
would have given his mate more uneasiness than this.

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At first, Mulford naturally enough suspected that Spike
intended to push for some Mexican port, by thus blinding
his eyes as to the position of the vessel. The direction
steered, however, soon relieved the mate from this apprehension.
From the eastern extremity of Yucatan, the Mexican
coast trends to the westward, and even to the south of
west, for a long distance, whereas the course steered by
Spike was north, easterly. This was diverging from the
enemy's coast instead of approaching it, and the circumstance
greatly relieved the apprehensions of Mulford.

Nor was the sequestration of the mate's instruments the
only suspicious act of Spike. He caused the brig's paint to
be entirely altered, and even went so far toward disguising
her, as to make some changes aloft. All this was done as
the vessel passed swiftly on her course, and everything had
been effected, apparently to the captain's satisfaction, when
the cry of “land-ho!” was once more heard. The land
proved to be a cluster of low, small islands, part coral, part
sand, that might have been eight or ten in number, and the
largest of which did not possess a surface of more than a
very few acres. Many were the merest islets imaginable,
and on one of the largest of the cluster rose a tall, gaunt
light-house, having the customary dwelling of its keeper at
its base. Nothing else was visible; the broad expanse of
the blue waters of the Gulf excepted. All the land in sight
would not probably have made one field of twenty acres in
extent, and that seemed cut off from the rest of the world,
by a broad barrier of water. It was a spot of such singular
situation and accessories, that Mulford gazed at it with a
burning desire to know where he was, as the brig steered
through a channel between two of the islets, into a capacious
and perfectly safe basin, formed by the group, and dropped
her anchor in its centre.

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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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