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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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At the piping of all hands,
When the judgment signal's spread—
When the islands and the land,
And the seas give up their dead,
And the south and the north shall come;
When the sinner is dismayed,
And the just man is afraid,
Then heaven be thy aid,
Poor Tom.

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The people had now a cessation from their toil. Of all
the labour known to sea-faring men, that of pumping is
usually thought to be the most severe. Those who work
at it have to be relieved every minute, and it is only by
having gangs to succeed each other, that the duty can be
done at all with anything like steadiness. In the present
instance, it is true, that the people of the Swash were sustained
by the love of gold, but glad enough were they when
Mulford called out to them to “knock off, and turn in for
the night.” It was high time this summons should be made,
for not only were the people excessively wearied, but the
customary hours of labour were so far spent, that the light
of the moon had some time before begun to blend with the
little left by the parting sun. Glad enough were all hands
to quit the toil; and two minutes were scarcely elapsed ere
most of the crew had thrown themselves down, and were
buried in deep sleep. Even Spike and Mulford took the
rest they needed, the cook alone being left to look out for
the changes in the weather. In a word, everybody but this
idler was exhausted with pumping and bailing, and even
gold had lost its power to charm, until nature was recruited
by rest.

The excitement produced by the scenes through which
they had so lately passed, caused the females to sleep
soundly, too. The death-like stillness which pervaded the

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vessel contributed to their rest, and Rose never woke, from
the first few minutes after her head was on her pillow, until
near four in the morning. The deep quiet seemed ominous
to one who had so lately witnessed the calm which precedes
the tornado, and she arose. In that low latitude and warm
season, few clothes were necessary, and our heroine was on
deck in a very few minutes. Here she found the same
grave-like sleep pervading everything. There was not a
breath of air, and the ocean seemed to be in one of its profoundest
slumbers. The hard-breathing of Spike could be
heard through the open windows of his state-room, and this
was positively the only sound that was audible. The common
men, who lay scattered about the decks, more especially
from the mainmast forward, seemed to be so many
logs, and from Mulford no breathing was heard.

The morning was neither very dark nor very light, it
being easy to distinguish objects that were near, while those
at a distance were necessarily lost in obscurity. Availing
herself of the circumstance, Rose went as far as the gangway,
to ascertain if the cook were at his post. She saw
him lying near his galley, in as profound a sleep as any of
the crew. This she felt to be wrong, and she felt alarmed,
though she knew not why. Perhaps it was the consciousness
of being the only person up and awake at that hour of
deepest night, in a vessel so situated as the Swash, and in
a climate in which hurricanes seem to be the natural offspring
of the air. Some one must be aroused, and her
tastes, feelings, and judgment, all pointed to Harry Mulford
as the person she ought to awaken. He slept habitually in
his clothes—the lightest summer dress of the tropics; and
the window of his little state-room was always open for air.
Moving lightly to the place, Rose laid her own little, soft
hand on the arm of the young man, when the latter was on
his feet in an instant. A single moment only was necessary
to regain his consciousness, when Mulford left the
state-room and joined Rose on the quarter-deck.

“Why am I called, Rose,” the young man asked, attempering
his voice to the calm that reigned around him; “and
why am I called by you?

Rose explained the state of the brig, and the feeling which
induced her to awaken him. With woman's gentleness she

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now expressed her regret for having robbed Harry of his
rest; had she reflected a moment, she might have kept
watch herself, and allowed him to obtain the sleep he must
surely so much require.

But Mulford laughed at this; protested he had never
been awakened at a more favourable moment, and would
have sworn, had it been proper, that a minute's further sleep
would have been too much for him. After these first explanations,
Mulford walked round the decks, carefully felt how
much strain there was on the purchases, and rejoined Rose
to report that all was right, and that he did not consider it
necessary to call even the cook. The black was an idler
in no sense but that of keeping watch, and he had toiled the
past day as much as any of the men, though it was not
exactly at the pumps.

A long and semi-confidential conversation now occurred
between Harry and Rose. They talked of Spike, the brig,
and her cargo, and of the delusion of the captain's widow.
It was scarcely possible that powder should be so much
wanted at the Havanna as to render smuggling, at so much
cost, a profitable adventure; and Mulford admitted his convictions
that the pretended flour was originally intended for
Mexico. Rose related the tenor of the conversation she
had overheard between the two parties, Don Juan and Don
Esteban, and the mate no longer doubted that it was Spike's
intention to sell the brig to the enemy. She also alluded
to what had passed between herself and the stranger.

Mulford took this occasion to introduce the subject of
Jack Tier's intimacy and favour with Rose. He even professed
to feel some jealousy on account of it, little as there
might be to alarm most men in the rivalry of such a competitor.
Rose laughed, as girls will laugh when there is
question of their power over the other sex, and she fairly
shook her rich tresses as she declared her determination to
continue to smile on Jack to the close of the voyage. Then,
as if she had said more than she intended, she added with
woman's generosity and tenderness,—

“After all, Harry, you know how much I promised to
you even before we sailed, and how much more since, and
have no just cause to dread even Jack. There is another
reason, however, that ought to set your mind entirely at

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case on his account. Jack is married, and has a partner
living at this very moment, as he does not scruple to avow

A hissing noise, a bright light, and a slight explosion, interrupted
the half-laughing girl, and Mulford, turning on his
heel, quick as thought, saw that a rocket had shot into the
air, from a point close under the bows of the brig. He was
still in the act of moving toward the forecastle, when, at the
distance of several leagues, he saw the explosion of another
rocket high in the air. He knew enough of the practices
of vessels of war, to feel certain that these were a signal
and its answer from some one in the service of government.
Not at all sorry to have the career of the Swash arrested,
before she could pass into hostile hands, or before evil could
befall Rose, Mulford reached the forecastle just in time to
answer the inquiry that was immediately put to him, in the
way of a hail. A gig, pulling four oars only, with two
officers in its stern-sheets, was fairly under the vessel's
bows, and the mate could almost distinguish the countenance
of the officer who questioned him, the instant he showed his
head and shoulders above the bulwarks.

“What vessels are these?” demanded the stranger,
speaking in the authoritative manner of one who acted for
the state, but not speaking much above the usual conversational

“American and Spanish,” was the answer. “This brig
is American—the schooner alongside is a Spaniard, that
turned turtle in a tornado, about six-and-thirty hours since,
and on which we have been hard at work trying to raise
her, since the gale which succeeded the tornado has blown
its pipe out.”

“Ay, ay, that's the story, is it? I did not know what
to make of you, lying cheek by jowl, in this fashion. Was
anybody lost on board the schooner?”

“All hands, including every soul aft and forward, the
supercargo excepted, who happened to be aboard here.
We buried seventeen bodies this afternoon on the smallest
of the Keys that you see near at hand, and two this morning
alongside of the light. But what boat is that, and where
are you from, and whom are you signalling?”

“The boat is a gig,” answered the stranger, deliberately,

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“and she belongs to a cruiser of Uncle Sam's, that is off
the reef, a short bit to the eastward, and we signalled our
captain. But I'll come on board you, sir, if you please.”

Mulford walked aft to meet the stranger at the gangway,
and was relieved, rather than otherwise, at finding that
Spike was already on the quarter-deck. Should the vessel
of war seize the brig, he could rejoice at it, but so strong
were his professional ideas of duty to the craft he sailed in,
that he did not find it in his heart to say aught against her.
Were any mishap to befall it, or were justice to be done, he
preferred that it might be done under Spike's own supervision,
rather than under his.

“Call all hands, Mr. Mulford,” said Spike, as they met.
“I see a streak of day coming yonder in the east—let all
hands be called at once. What strange boat is this we have

This question was put to the strangers, Spike standing
on his gangway-ladder to ask it, while the mate was summoning
the crew. The officer saw that a new person was
to be dealt with, and in his quiet, easy way, he answered,
while stretching out his hands to take the man-rope—

“Your servant, sir—we are man-of-war's men, belonging
to one of Uncle Sam's craft, outside, and have just come in
to pay you a visit of ceremony. I told one, whom I suppose
was your mate, that I would just step on board of you.”

“Ay, ay—one at a time, if you please. It's war-time,
and I cannot suffer armed boat's crews to board me at
night, without knowing something about them. Come up
yourself, if you please, but order your people to stay in the
boat. Here, muster about this gangway, half a dozen of
you, and keep an eye on the crew of this strange boat.”

These orders had no effect on the cool and deliberate lieutenant,
who ascended the brig's side, and immediately stood
on her deck. No sooner had he and Spike confronted each
other, than each gave a little start, like that of recognition,
and the lieutenant spoke.

“Ay, ay—I believe I know this vessel now. It is the
Molly Swash, of New York, bound to Key West, and a
market; and I have the honour to see Captain Stephen Spike

It was Mr. Wallace, the second lieutenant of the

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sloop-of-war that had boarded the brig in the Mona Passage, and to
avoid whom Spike had gone to the southward of Jamaica.
The meeting was very mal-à-propos, but it would not do to
betray that the captain and owner of the vessel thought as
much as this; on the contrary, Wallace was warmly welcomed,
and received, not only as an old acquaintance, but
as a very agreeable visiter. To have seen the two, as they
walked aft together, one might have supposed that the meeting
was conducive of nothing but a very mutual satisfaction,
it was so much like that which happens between those who
keep up a hearty acquaintance.

“Well, I'm glad to see you again, Captain Spike,” cried
Wallace, after the greetings were passed, “if it be only to
ask where you flew to, the day we left you in the Mona
Passage? We looked out for you with all our eyes, expecting
you would be down between San Domingo and
Jamaica, but I hardly think you got by us in the night.
Our master thinks you must have dove, and gone past loon-fashion.
Do you ever perform that manœuvre?”

“No, we've kept above water the whole time, lieutenant,”
answered Spike, heartily; “and that is more than can be
said of the poor fellow alongside of us. I was so much
afraid of the Isle of Pines, that I went round Jamaica.”

“You might have given the Isle of Pines a berth, and
still have passed to the northward of the Englishmen,” said
Wallace, a little drily. “However, that island is somewhat
of a scarecrow, and we have been to take a look at it ourselves.
All's right there, just now. But you seem light;
what have you done with your flour?”

“Parted with every barrel of it. You may remember
I was bound to Key West, and a market. Well, I found
my market here, in American waters.”

“You have been lucky, sir. This `emporium' does not
seem to be exactly a commercial emporium.”

“The fact is, the flour is intended for the Havanna; and
I fancy it is to be shipped for slavers. But I am to know
nothing of all that, you'll understand, lieutenant. If I sell
my flour in American waters, at two prices, it's no concern
of mine what becomes of it a'terwards.”

“Unless it happen to pass into enemy's hands, certainly
not; and you are too patriotic to deal with Mexico, just now,

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I'm sure. Pray, did that flour go down when the schooner
turned turtle?”

“Every barrel of it; but Don Wan, below there, thinks
that most of it may yet be saved, by landing it on one of
those Keys to dry. Flour, well packed, wets in slowly.
You see we have some of it on deck.”

“And who may Don Wan be, sir, pray? We are sent
here to look after Dons and Donas, you know.”

“Don Wan is a Cuban merchant, and deals in such articles
as he wants. I fell in with him among the reefs here,
where he was rummaging about in hopes of meeting with
a wrack, he tells me, and thinking to purchase something
profitable in that way; but finding I had flour, he agreed
to take it out of me at this anchorage, and send me away
in ballast at once. I have found Don Wan Montefalderon
ready pay, and very honourable.”

Wallace then requested an explanation of the disaster, to
the details of which he listened with a sailor's interest. He
asked a great many questions, all of which bore on the
more nautical features of the event; and, day having now
fairly appeared, he examined the purchases and backings
of the Swash with professional nicety. The schooner was
no lower in the water than when the men had knocked off
work the previous night; and Spike set the people at the
pumps and their bailing again, as the most effectual method
of preventing their making any indiscreet communications
to the man-of-war's men.

About this time the relict appeared on deck, when Spike
gallantly introduced the lieutenant anew to his passengers.
It is true he knew no name to use, but that was of little
moment, as he called the officer “the lieutenant,” and
nothing else.

Mrs. Budd was delighted with this occasion to show-off,
and she soon broke out on the easy, indolent, but waggish
Wallace, in a strain to surprise him, notwithstanding the
specimen of the lady's skill from which he had formerly

“Captain Spike is of opinion, lieutenant, that our cast-anchor
here is excellent, and I know the value of a good
cast-anchor place; for my poor Mr. Budd was a sea-faring

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man, and taught me almost as much of your noble profession
as he knew himself.”

“And he taught you, ma'am,” said Wallace, fairly opening
his eyes, under the influence of astonishment, “to be
very particular about cast-anchor places!”

“Indeed he did. He used to say, that roads-instead were
never as good, for such purposes, as land that's locked
havens, for the anchors would return home, as he called it,
in roads-instead.”

“Yes, ma'am,” answered Wallace, looking very queer
at first, as if disposed to laugh outright, then catching a
glance of Rose, and changing his mind; “I perceive that
Mr. Budd knew what he was about, and preferred an
anchorage where he was well land-locked, and where there
was no danger of his anchors coming home, as so often
happens in your open roadsteads.”

“Yes, that's just it! That was just his notion! You
cannot feel how delightful it is, Rose, to converse with one
that thoroughly understands such subjects! My poor Mr.
Budd did, indeed, denounce roads-instead, at all times calling
them `savage.' ”

“Savage, aunt,” put in Rose, hoping to stop the good
relict by her own interposition—“that is a strange word to
apply to an anchorage!”

“Not at all, young lady,” said Wallace gravely. “They
are often wild berths, and wild berths are not essentially
different from wild beasts. Each is savage, as a matter of

“I knew I was right!” exclaimed the widow. “Savage
cast-anchors come of wild births, as do savage Indians.
Oh! the language of the ocean, as my poor Mr. Budd used
to say, is eloquence tempered by common sense!”

Wallace stared again, but his attention was called to other
things, just at that moment. The appearance of Don Juan
Montefalderon y Castro on deck, reminded him of his duty,
and approaching that gentleman he condoled with him on
the grave loss he had sustained. After a few civil expressions
on both sides, Wallace made a delicate allusion to the
character of the schooner.

“Under other circumstances,” he said, “it might be my
duty to inquire a little particularly as to the nationality of

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your vessel, Señor, for we are at war with the Mexicans, as
you doubtless know.”

“Certainly,” answered Don Juan, with an unmoved air
and great politeness of manner, “though it would be out of
my power to satisfy you. Everything was lost in the
schooner, and I have not a paper of any sort to show you.
If it be your pleasure to make a prize of a vessel in this
situation, certainly it is in your power to do it. A few barrels
of wet flour are scarce worth disputing about.”

Wallace now seemed a little ashamed, the sang froid of
the other throwing dust in his eyes, and he was in a hurry
to change the subject. Señor Don Juan was very civilly
condoled with again, and he was made to repeat the incidents
of the loss, as if his auditor took a deep interest in
what he said, but no further hint was given touching the
nationality of the vessel. The lieutenant's tact let him see
that Señor Montefalderon was a person of a very different
calibre from Spike, as well as of different habits; and he did
not choose to indulge in the quiet irony that formed so large
an ingredient in his own character, with this new acquaintance.
He spoke Spanish himself, with tolerable fluency,
and a conversation now occurred between the two, which
was maintained for some time with spirit and a very manifest

This dialogue between Wallace and the Spaniard gave
Spike a little leisure for reflection. As the day advanced
the cruiser came more and more plainly in view, and his
first business was to take a good survey of her. She might
have been three leagues distant, but approaching with a very
light breeze, at the rate of something less than two knots in
the hour. Unless there was some one on board her who
was acquainted with the channels of the Dry Tortugas,
Spike felt little apprehension of the ship's getting very near
to him; but he very well understood that, with the sort of
artillery that was in modern use among vessels of war, he
would hardly be safe could the cruiser get within a league.
That near Uncle Sam's craft might certainly come without
encountering the hazards of the channels, and within that
distance she would be likely to get in the course of the
morning, should he have the complaisance to wait for her.
He determined, therefore, not to be guilty of that act of folly.

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All this time the business of lightening the schooner proceeded.
Although Mulford earnestly wished that the man-of-war
might get an accurate notion of the true character
and objects of the brig, he could not prevail on himself to
become an informer. In order to avoid the temptation so
to do, he exerted himself in keeping the men at their tasks,
and never before had pumping and bailing been carried on
with more spirit. The schooner soon floated of herself, and
the purchases which led to the Swash were removed. Near
a hundred more barrels of the flour had been taken out of
the hold of the Spanish craft, and had been struck on the
deck of the brig, or sent to the Key by means of the boats.
This made a material change in the buoyancy of the vessel,
and enabled the bailing to go on with greater facility. The
pumps were never idle, but two small streams of water were
running the whole time toward the scuppers, and through
them into the sea.

At length the men were ordered to knock off, and to get
their breakfasts. This appeared to arouse Wallace, who
had been chatting, quite agreeably to himself, with Rose,
and seemed reluctant to depart, but who now became sensible
that he was neglecting his duty. He called away his
boat's crew, and took a civil leave of the passengers; after
which he went over the side. The gig was some little distance
from the Swash, when Wallace rose and asked to see
Spike, with whom he had a word to say at parting.

“I will soon return,” he said, “and bring you forty or
fifty fresh men, who will make light work with your wreck.
I am certain our commander will consent to my doing so,
and will gladly send on board you two or three boat's

“If I let him,” muttered Spike between his teeth, “I shall
be a poor, miserable cast-anchor devil, that's all.”

To Wallace, however, he expressed his hearty acknowledgments;
begged him not to be in a hurry, as the worst
was now over, and the row was still a long one. If he got
back toward evening it would be all in good time. Wallace
waved his hand, and the gig glided away. As for Spike,
he sat down on the plank-sheer where he had stood, and
remained there ruminating intently for two or three minutes.
When he descended to the deck his mind was fully made

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up. His first act was to give some private orders to the
boatswain, after which he withdrew to the cabin, whither he
summoned Tier, without delay.

“Jack,” commenced the captain, using very little circumlocution
in opening his mind, “you and I are old shipmates,
and ought to be old friends, though I think your natur' has
undergone some changes since we last met. Twenty years
ago there was no man in the ship on whom I could so certainly
depend as on Jack Tier; now, you seem given up
altogether to the women. Your mind has changed even
more than your body.”

“Time does that for all of us, Captain Spike,” returned
Tier coolly. “I am not what I used to be, I'll own, nor
are you yourself, for that matter. When I saw you last,
noble captain, you were a handsome man of forty, and
could go aloft with any youngster in the brig; but, now,
you're heavy, and not over-active.”

“I!—Not a bit of change has taken place in me for the
last thirty years. I defy any man to show the contrary.
But that's neither here nor there; you are no young woman,
Jack, that I need be boasting of my health and beauty
before you. I want a bit of real sarvice from you, and
want it done in old-times fashion; and I mean to pay for
it in old-times fashion, too.”

As Spike concluded, he put into Tier's hand one of the
doubloons that he had received from Señor Montefalderon,
in payment for the powder. The doubloons, for which so
much pumping and bailing were then in process, were still
beneath the waters of the gulf.

“Ay, ay, sir,” returned Jack, smiling and pocketing the
gold, with a wink of the eye, and a knowing look; “this
does resemble old times sum'at. I now begin to know
Captain Spike, my old commander again, and see that he's
more like himself than I had just thought him. What am
I to do for this, sir? speak plain, that I may be sartain to
steer the true course.”

“Oh, just a trifle, Jack—nothing that will break up the
ground-tier of your wits, my old shipmate. You see the
state of the brig, and know that she is in no condition for

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“ 'T would have been better all round, sir, had they never
come aboard at all,” answered Jack, looking dark.

Spike was surprised, but he was too much bent on his
projects to heed trifles.

“You know what sort of flour they're whipping out of the
schooner, and must understand that the brig will soon be in
a pretty litter. I do not intend to let them send a single
barrel of it beneath my hatches again, but the deck and the
islands must take it all. Now I wish to relieve my passengers
from the confinement this will occasion, and I have
ordered the boatswain to pitch a tent for them on the largest
of these here Tortugas; and what I want of you, is to muster
food and water, and other women's knicknacks, and go
ashore with them, and make them as comfortable as you
can for a few days, or until we can get this schooner loaded
and off.”

Jack Tier looked at his commander as if he would penetrate
his most secret thoughts. A short pause succeeded, during
which the steward's mate was intently musing, then his
countenance suddenly brightened; he gave the doubloon a
fillip, and caught it on the palm of his hand as it descended,
and he uttered the customary “Ay, ay, sir,” with apparent
cheerfulness. Nothing more passed between these two worthies,
who now parted, Jack to make his arrangements, and
Spike to “tell his yarn,” as he termed the operation in his
own mind, to Mrs. Budd, Rose, and Biddy. The widow
listened complacently, though she seemed half doubting,
half ready to comply. As for Rose, she received the proposal
with delight—The confinement of the vessel having
become irksome to her. The principal obstacle was in overcoming
the difficulties made by the aunt, Biddy appearing to
like the notion quite as much as “Miss Rosy.” As for the
light-house, Mrs. Budd had declared nothing would induce
her to go there; for she did not doubt that the place would
soon be, if it were not already, haunted. In this opinion
she was sustained by Biddy; and it was the knowledge of
this opinion that induced Spike to propose the tent.

“Are you sure, Captain Spike, it is not a desert island?”
asked the widow; “I remember that my poor Mr. Budd always
spoke of desert islands as horrid places, and spots that
every one should avoid.”

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“What if it is, aunty,” said Rose eagerly, “while we
have the brig here, close at hand. We shall suffer none of
the wants of such a place, so long as our friends can supply

“And such friends, Miss Rose,” exclaimed Spike, a little
sentimentally for him, “friends that would undergo hunger
and thirst themselves, before you should want for any

“Do, now, Madam Budd,” put in Biddy in her hearty
way, “it's an island, ye'll remimber: and sure that's just
what ould Ireland has ever been, God bless it! Islands
make the pleasantest risidences.”

“Well I'll venture to oblige you and Biddy, Rosy, dear,”
returned the aunt, still half reluctant to yield; “but you'll
remember, that if I find it at all a desert island, I'll not pass
the night on it on any account whatever.”

With this understanding the party was transferred to the
shore. The boatswain had already erected a sort of a tent,
on a favourable spot, using some of the old sails that had
covered the flour-barrels, not only for the walls, but for a
carpet of some extent also. This tent was ingeniously
enough contrived. In addition to the little room that was
entirely enclosed, there was a sort of piazza, or open verandah,
which would enable its tenants to enjoy the shade in
the open air. Beneath this verandah, a barrel of fresh water
was placed, as well as three or four ship's stools, all of
which had been sent ashore with the materials for constructing
the tent. The boat had been going and coming
for some time, and the distance being short, the “desert island”
was soon a desert no longer. It is true that the supplies
necessary to support three women for as many days,
were no great matter, and were soon landed, but Jack Tier
had made a provision somewhat more ample. A capital
caterer, he had forgotten nothing within the compass of his
means, that could contribute to the comfort of those who had
been put especially under his care. Long before the people
“knocked off” for their dinners, the arrangements were
completed, and the boatswain was ready to take his leave.

“Well, ladies,” said that grum old salt, “I can do no
more for you, as I can see. This here island is now almost
as comfortable as a ship that has been in blue water for a

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month, and I do n't know how it can be made more comfortabler.”

This was only according to the boatswain's notion of
comfort; but Rose thanked him for his care in her winning
way, while her aunt admitted that, “for a place that was
almost a desert island, things did look somewhat promising.”
In a few minutes the men were all gone, and the islet was
left to the sole possession of the three females, and their constant
companion, Jack Tier. Rose was pleased with the
novelty of her situation, though the islet certainly did deserve
the opprobrium of being a “desert island.” There
was no shade but that of the tent, and its verandah-like
covering, though the last, in particular, was quite extensive.
There was no water, that in the barrel and that of the
ocean excepted. Of herbage there was very little on this
islet, and that was of the most meagre and coarse character,
being a long wiry grass, with here and there a few stunted
bushes. The sand was reasonably firm, however, more
especially round the shore, and the walking was far from
unpleasant. Little did Rose know it, but a week earlier, the
spot would have been next to intolerable to her, on account
of the musquitoes, gallinippers, and other similar insects of
the family of tormentors; but everything of the sort had temporarily
disappeared in the currents of the tornado. To do
Spike justice, he was aware of this circumstance, or he
might have hesitated about exposing females to the ordinary
annoyances of one of these spots. Not a musquito, or anything
of the sort was left, however, all having gone to leeward,
in the vortex which had come so near sweeping off
the Mexican schooner.

“This place will do very well, aunty, for a day or two,”
cried Rose cheerfully, as she returned from a short excursion,
and threw aside her hat, one made to shade her face
from the sun of a warm climate, leaving the sea-breeze that
was just beginning to blow, to fan her blooming and sunny
cheeks. “It is better than the brig. The worst piece of
land is better than the brig.”

“Do not say that, Rose—not if it's a desert island, dear;
and this is desperately like a desert island; I am almost
sorry I ventured on it.”

“It will not be deserted by us, aunty, until we shall see

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occasion to do so. Why not endeavour to get on board of
yonder ship, and return to New York in her; or at least induce
her captain to put us ashore somewhere near this, and
go home by land. Your health never seemed better than it
is at this moment; and as for mine, I do assure you, aunty,
dear, I am as perfectly well as I ever was in my life.”

“All from this voyage. I knew it would set you up, and
am delighted to hear you say as much. Biddy and I were
talking of you this very morning, my child, and we both
agreed that you were getting to be yourself again. Oh,
ships, and brigs, and schooners, full-jigger or half-jigger, for
pulmonary complaints, say I! My poor Mr. Budd always
maintained that the ocean was the cure for all diseases, and
I determined that to sea you should go, the moment I became
alarmed for your health.”

The good widow loved Rose most tenderly, and she was
obliged to use her handkerchief to dry the tears from her
eyes as she concluded. Those tears sprung equally from a
past feeling of apprehension, and a present feeling of gratitude.
Rose saw this, and she took a seat at her aunt's side,
touched herself, as she never failed to be on similar occasions
with this proof of her relative's affection. At that
moment even Harry Mulford would have lost a good deal
in her kind feelings toward him, had he so much as smiled
at one of the widow's nautical absurdities. At such times,
Rose seemed to be her aunt's guardian and protectress, instead
of reversing the relations, and she entirely forgot herself the
many reasons which existed for wishing that she had been
placed in childhood, under the care of one better qualified
than the well-meaning relict of her uncle, for the performance
of her duties.

“Thank you, aunty—thank'ee, dear aunty,” said Rose,
kissing the widow affectionately. “I know that you mean
the best for me, though you are a little mistaken in supposing
me ill. I do assure you, dear,” patting her aunt's
cheek, as if she herself had been merely a playful child, “I
never was better; and if I have been pulmonary, I am entirely
cured, and am now ready to return home.”

“God be praised for this, Rosy. Under His divine providence,
it is all owing to the sea. If you really feel so much
restored, however, I do not wish to keep you a moment

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longer on a ship's board than is necessary. We owe
something to Captain Spike's care, and cannot quit him too
unceremoniously; but as soon as he is at liberty to go into
a harbour, I will engage him to do so, and we can return
home by land—unless, indeed, the brig intends to make the
home voyage herself.”

“I do not like this brig, aunty, and now we are out of
her, I wish we could keep out of her. Nor do I like your
Captain Spike, who seems to me anything but an agreeable

“That's because you arn't accustomed to the sea. My
poor Mr. Budd had his ways, like all the rest of them; it
takes time to get acquainted with them. All sailors are so.”

Rose bent her face involuntarily, but so low as to conceal
the increasing brightness of her native bloom, as she answered,

“Harry Mulford is not so, aunty, dear—and he is every
inch a sailor.”

“Well, there is a difference, I must acknowledge, though
I dare say Harry will grow every day more and more like
all the rest of them. In the end, he will resemble Captain

“Never,” said Rose, firmly.

“You can't tell, child. I never saw your uncle when he
was Harry's age, for I was n't born till he was thirty, but
often and often has he pointed out to me some slender, genteel
youth, and say, `just such a lad was I at twenty,' though
nothing could be less alike, at the moment he was speaking,
than they two. We all change with our years. Now I
was once as slender, and almost—not quite, Rosy, for few
there are that be—but almost as handsome as you yourself.”

“Yes, aunty, I've heard that before,” said Rose, springing
up, in order to change the discourse; “but Harry Mulford
will never become like Stephen Spike. I wish we had
never known the man, dearest aunty.”

“It was all your own doings, child. He's a cousin of
your most intimate friend, and she brought him to the house;
and one could n't offend Mary Mulford, by telling her we
did n't like her cousin.”

Rose seemed vexed, and she kept her little foot in motion,
patting the sail that formed the carpet, as girls will pat the

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ground with their feet when vexed. This gleam of displeasure
was soon over, however, and her countenance became
as placid as the clear, blue sky that formed the vault of the
heavens above her head. As if to atone for the passing rebellion
of her feelings, she threw her arms around her aunt's
neck; after which she walked away, along the beach, ruminating
on her present situation, and of the best means of
extricating their party from the power of Spike.

It requires great familiarity with vessels and the seas, for
one to think, read, and pursue the customary train of reasoning
on board a ship that one has practised ashore. Rose
had felt this embarrassment during the past month, for the
whole of which time she had scarcely been in a condition to
act up to her true character, suffering her energies, and in
some measure her faculties, to be drawn into the vortex produced
by the bustle, novelties, and scenes of the vessel and
the ocean. But, now she was once more on the land, diminutive
and naked as was the islet that composed her present
world, and she found leisure and solitude for reflection and
decision. She was not ignorant of the nature of a vessel of
war, or of the impropriety of unprotected females placing
themselves on board of one; but gentlemen of character,
like the officers of the ship in sight, could hardly be wanting
in the feelings of their caste; and anything was better than
to return voluntarily within the power of Spike. She determined
within her own mind that voluntarily she would not.
We shall leave this young girl, slowly wandering along the
beach of her islet, musing on matters like these, while we
return to the vessels and the mariners.

A good breeze had come in over the reef from the Gulf,
throwing the sloop-of-war dead to leeward of the brigantine's
anchorage. This was the reason that the former had
closed so slowly. Still the distance between the vessels
was so small, that a swift cruiser, like the ship of war,
would soon have been alongside of the wreckers, but for the
intervening islets and the intricacies of their channels. She
had made sail on the wind, however, and was evidently disposed
to come as near to the danger as her lead showed
would be safe, even if she did not venture among them.

Spike noted all these movements, and he took his measures
accordingly. The pumping and bailing had been

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going on since the appearance of light, and the flour had been
quite half removed from the schooner's hold. That vessel
consequently floated with sufficient buoyancy, and no further
anxiety was felt on account of her sinking. Still, a great
deal of water remained in her, the cabin itself being nearly
half full. Spike's object was to reduce this water sufficiently
to enable him to descend into the state-room which
Señor Montefalderon had occupied, and bring away the doubloons
that alone kept him in the vicinity of so ticklish a
neighbour as the Poughkeepsie. Escape was easy enough to
one who knew the passages of the reef and islets; more especially
since the wind had so fortunately brought the cruiser
to leeward. Spike most apprehended a movement upon
him in the boats, and he had almost made up his mind, should
such an enterprise be attempted, to try his hand in beating it
off with his guns. A good deal of uncertainty on the subject
of Mulford's consenting to resist the recognised authorities
of the country, as well as some doubts of a similar
nature in reference to two or three of the best of the foremast
hands, alone left him at all in doubt as to the expediency of
such a course. As no boats were lowered from the cruiser,
however, the necessity of resorting to so desperate a measure,
did not occur, and the duty of lightening the schooner had proceeded
without interruption. As soon as the boatswain
came off from the islet, he and the men with him were directed
to take the hands and lift the anchors, of which it
will be remembered the Swash had several down. Even
Mulford was shortly after set at work on the same duty;
and these expert and ready seamen soon had the brig clear
of the ground. As the schooner was anchored, and floated
without assistance, the Swash rode by her.

Such was the state of things when the men turned to,
after having had their dinners. By this time, the sloop-of-war
was within half a league of the bay, her progress
having been materially retarded by the set of the current,
which was directly against her. Spike saw that a collision
of some sort or other must speedily occur, and he determined
to take the boatswain with him, and descend into the
cabin of the schooner in quest of the gold. The boatswain
was summoned, and Señor Montefalderon repeated in this
man's presence the instructions that he thought it necessary

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for the adventurers to follow, in order to secure the prize.
Knowing how little locks would avail on board a vessel,
were the men disposed to rob him, that gentleman had
trusted more to secreting his treasure, than to securing it in
the more ordinary way. When the story had again been
told, Spike and his boatswain went on board the schooner,
and, undressing, they prepared to descend into the cabin.
The captain paused a single instant to take a look at the
sloop-of-war, and to examine the state of the weather. It
is probable some new impression was made on him by this
inquiry, for, hailing Mulford, he ordered him to loosen the
sails, and to sheet home, and hoist the foretopsail. In a
word, to “see all ready to cast off, and make sail on the
brig at the shortest notice.” With this command he disappeared
by the schooner's companion-way.

Spike and his companion found the water in the cabin
very much deeper than they had supposed. With a view
to comfort, the cabin-floor had been sunk much lower than
is usual on board American vessels, and this brought the
water up nearly to the arm-pits of two men as short as our
captain and his sturdy little boatswain. The former grumbled
a good deal, when he ascertained the fact, and said
something about the mate's being better fitted to make a
search in such a place, but concluding with the remark,
that “the man who wants ticklish duty well done, must see
to it himself.”

The gold-hunters groped their way cautiously about the
cabin for some time, feeling for a drawer, in which they
had been told they should find the key of Señor Montefalderon's
state-room door. In this Spike himself finally succeeded,
he being much better acquainted with cabins and
their fixtures, than the boatswain.

“Here it is, Ben,” said the captain, “now for a dive
among the Don's val'ables. Should you pick up anything
worth speaking of, you can condemn it for salvage, as I
mean to cast off, and quit the wrack the moment we've made
sure of the doubloons.”

“And what will become of all the black flour that is lying
about, sir?” asked the boatswain with a grin.

“It may take care of itself. My agreement will be up as
soon as the doubloons are found. If the Don will come

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down handsomely with his share of what will be left, I may
be bought to put the kegs we have in the brig ashore for him
somewhere in Mexico; but my wish is to get out of the
neighbourhood of that bloody sloop-of-war, as soon as possible.”

“She makes but slow headway ag'in the current, sir; but
a body would think she might send in her boats.”

“The boats might be glad to get back again,” muttered
Spike. “Ay, here is the door unlocked, and we can now
fish for the money.”

Some object had rolled against the state-room door, when
the vessel was capsized, and there was a good deal of difficulty
in forcing it open. They succeeded at last, and
Spike led the way by wading into the small apartment.
Here they began to feel about beneath the water, and by a
very insufficient light, in quest of the hidden treasure.
Spike and his boatswain differed as to the place which had
just been described to them, as men will differ even in the
account of events that pass directly before their eyes. While
thus employed, the report of a heavy gun came through the
doors of the cabin, penetrating to the recess in which they
were thus employed.

“Ay, that's the beginning of it!” exclaimed Spike. “I
wonder that the fool has put it off so long.”

“That gun was a heavy fellow, Captain Spike,” returned
the boatswain; “and it sounded in my ears as if't was shotted.”

“Ay, ay, I dare say you're right enough in both opinions.
They put such guns on board their sloops-of-war, now-a-days,
as a fellow used to find in the lower batteries of a two-decker
only in old times; and as for shot, why Uncle Sam
pays, and they think it cheaper to fire one out of a gun,
than to take the trouble of drawing it.”

“I believe here's one of the bags, Captain Spike,” said
the boatswain, making a dip, and coming up with one-half
of the desired treasure in his fist. “By George, I've
grabbed him, sir; and the other bag can't be far off.”

“Hand that over to me,” said the captain, a little authoritatively,
“and take a dive for the next.”

As the boatswain was obeying this order, a second gun
was heard, and Spike thought that the noise made by the

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near passage of a large shot was audible also. He called
out to Ben to “bear a hand, as the ship seems in 'arnest.”
But the head of the boatswain being under water at the time,
the admonition was thrown away. The fellow soon came
up, however, puffing like a porpoise that has risen to the surface
to blow.

“Hand it over to me at once,” said Spike, stretching out
his unoccupied hand to receive the prize; “we have little
time to lose.”

“That's sooner said than done, sir,” answered the boatswain;
“a box has driven down upon the bag, and there's
a tight jam. I got hold of the neck of the bag, and pulled
like a horse, but it wouldn't come no how.”

“Show me the place, and let me have a drag at it.
There goes another of his bloody guns!”

Down went Spike, and the length of time he was under
water, proved how much he was in earnest. Up he came at
length, and with no better luck than his companion. He
had got hold of the bag, satisfied himself by feeling its outside
that it contained the doubloons, and hauled with all his
strength, but it would not come. The boatswain now proposed
to take a jamming hitch with a rope around the neck
of the bag, which was long enough to admit of such a fastening,
and then to apply their united force. Spike assented,
and the boatswain rummaged about for a piece of small rope
to suit his purpose. At this moment Mulford appeared at
the companion-way to announce the movements on the part
of the sloop-of-war. He had been purposely tardy, in order
to give the ship as much time as possible; but he saw by the
looks of the men that a longer delay might excite suspicion.

“Below there!” called out the mate.

“What's wanting, sir?—what's wanting, sir?” answered
Spike; “let's know at once.”

“Have you heard the guns, Captain Spike?”

“Ay, ay, every grumbler of them. They've done no
mischief, I trust, Mr. Mulford?”

“None as yet, sir; though the last shot, and it was a heavy
fellow, passed just above the schooner's deck. I've the
topsail sheeted home and hoisted, and it's that which has set
them at work. If I clewed up again, I dare say they'd not
fire another gun.”

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“Clew up nothing, sir, but see all clear for casting off and
making sail through the South Pass. What do you say,
Ben, are you ready for a drag?”

“All ready, sir,” answered the boatswain, once more
coming up to breathe. “Now for it, sir; a steady pull, and
a pull all together.”

They did pull, but the hitch slipped, and both went down
beneath the water. In a moment they were up again, puffing
a little and swearing a great deal. Just then another gun,
and a clatter above their heads, brought them to a stand.

“What means that, Mr. Mulford?” demanded Spike, a
good deal startled.

It means that the sloop-of-war has shot away the head of
this schooner's foremast, sir, and that the shot has chipp'd a
small piece out of the heel of our maintop-mast—that's all.”

Though excessively provoked at the mate's cool manner
of replying, Spike saw that he might lose all by being too
tenacious about securing the remainder of the doubloons.
Pronouncing in very energetic terms on Uncle Sam, and all
his cruisers, an anathema that we do not care to repeat, he
gave a surly order to Ben to “knock-off,” and abandoned
his late design. In a minute he was on deck and dressed.

“Cast off, lads,” cried the captain, as soon as on the deck
of his own brig again, “and four of you man that boat. We
have got half of your treasure, Señor Wan, but have been
driven from the rest of it, as you see. There is the bag;
when at leisure we'll divide it, and give the people their
share. Mr. Mulford, keep the brig in motion, hauling up
toward the South Pass, while I go ashore for the ladies. I'll
meet you just in the throat of the passage.”

This said, Spike tumbled into his boat, and was pulled
ashore. As for Mulford, though he cast many an anxious
glance toward the islet, he obeyed his orders, keeping the
brig standing off and on, under easy canvas, but working
her up toward the indicated passage.

Spike was met by Jack Tier on the beach of the little

“Muster the women at once,” ordered the captain, “we
have no time to lose, for that fellow will soon be firing broadsides,
and his shot now range half a mile beyond us.”

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“You'll no more move the widow and her maid, than
you'll move the island,” answered Jack, laconically.

“Why should I not move them? Do they wish to stay
here and starve?”

“It's little that they think of that. The sloop-of-war no
sooner begun to fire than down went Mrs. Budd on the canvas
floor of the tent, and set up just such a screaming as
you may remember she tried her hand at the night the revenue
craft fired into us. Biddy lay down alongside of her
mistress, and at every gun, they just scream as loud as they
can, as if they fancied they might frighten off Uncle Sam's
men from their duty.”

“Duty!—You little scamp, do you call tormenting honest
traders in this fashion the duty of any man?”

“Well, captain, I'm no ways partic'lar about a word or
two. Their `ways,' if you like that better than duty, sir.”

“Where's Rose? Is she down too, screaming and squalling?”

“No, Captain Spike, no. Miss Rose is endeavouring, like
a handsome young Christian lady as she is, to pacify and
mollify her aunt and Biddy; and right down sensible talk
does she give them.”

“Then she at least can go aboard the brig,” exclaimed
Spike, with a sudden animation, and an expression of countenance
that Jack did not at all like.

“I ray-y-ther think she'll wish to hold on to the old
lady,” observed the steward's-mate, a little emphatically.

“You be d—d,” cried Spike, fiercely; “when your opinion
is wanted, I'll ask for it. If I find you've been setting
that young woman's mind ag'in me, I'll toss you overboard,
as I would the offals of a shark.”

“Young women's minds, when they are only nineteen,
get set ag'in boys of fifty-six without much assistance.”

“Fifty-six yourself.”

“I'm fifty-three—that I'll own without making faces at
it,” returned Jack, meekly; “and, Stephen Spike, you logged
fifty-six your last birthday, or a false entry was made.”

This conversation did not take place in the presence of
the boat's crew, but as the two walked together toward the
tent. They were now in the verandah, as we have called
the shaded opening in front, and actually within sound of

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the sweet voice of Rose, as she exhorted her aunt, in tones
a little louder than usual for her to use, to manifest more
fortitude. Under such circumstances Spike did not deem it
expedient to utter that which was uppermost in his mind, but,
turning short upon Tier, he directed a tremendous blow directly
between his eyes. Jack saw the danger and dodged,
falling backward to avoid a concussion which he knew would
otherwise be fearful, coming as it would from one of the best
forecastle boxers of his time. The full force of the blow was
avoided, though Jack got enough of it to knock him down,
and to give him a pair of black eyes. Spike did not stop to
pick the assistant steward up, for another gun was fired at
that very instant, and Mrs. Budd and Biddy renewed their
screams. Instead of pausing to kick the prostrate Tier, as
had just before been his intention, the captain entered the

A scene that was sufficiently absurd met the view of Spike,
when he found himself in the presence of the females. The
widow had thrown herself on the ground, and was grasping
the cloth of the sail on which the tent had been erected with
both her hands, and was screaming at the top of her voice.
Biddy's imitation was not exactly literal, for she had taken
a comfortable seat at the side of her mistress, but in the way
of cries, she rather outdid her principal.

“We must be off,” cried Spike, somewhat unceremoniously.
“The man-of-war is blazing away, as if she was a
firin' minute-guns over our destruction, and I can wait no

“I'll not stir,” answered the widow—“I can't stir—I shall
be shot if I go out. No, no, no—I'll not stir an inch.”

“We'll be kilt!—we'll be kilt!” echoed Biddy, “and a
wicket murther't will be in that same man, war or no war.”

The captain perceived the uselessness of remonstrance at
such a moment, and perhaps he was secretly rejoiced thereat;
but it is certain that he whipped Rose up under his arm,
and walked away with her, as if she had been a child of two
or three years of age. Rose did not scream, but she struggled
and protested vehemently. It was in vain. Already
the captain had carried her half the distance between the
tent and the boat, in the last of which, a minute more would
have deposited his victim, when a severe blow on the back

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of his head caused Spike to stumble, and he permitted Rose
to escape from his grasp, in the effort to save himself from
a fall. Turning fiercely toward his assailant, whom he suspected
to be one of his boat's crew, he saw Tier standing
within a few yards, levelling a pistol at him.

“Advance a step, and you're a dead man, villain!”
screamed Jack, his voice almost cracked with rage, and the
effort he made to menace.

Spike muttered an oath too revolting for our pages; but
it was such a curse as none but an old salt could give vent
to, and that in the bitterness of his fiercest wrath. At that
critical moment, while Rose was swelling with indignation
and wounded maiden pride, almost within reach of his arms,
looking more lovely than ever, as the flush of anger deepened
the colour in her cheeks, a fresh and deep report from
one of the guns of the sloop-of-war drew all eyes in her direction.
The belching of that gun seemed to be of double
the power of those which had preceded it, and jets of water,
that were twenty feet in height, marked the course of the
formidable missile that was projected from the piece. The
ship had, indeed, discharged one of those monster-cannons
that bear the name of a distinguished French engineer, but
which should more properly be called by the name of the
ingenious officer who is at the head of our own ordnance,
as they came originally from his inventive faculties, though
somewhat improved by their European adopter. Spike suspected
the truth, for he had heard of these “Pazans,” as he
called them, and he watched the booming, leaping progress
of the eight-inch shell that this gun threw, with the apprehension
that unknown danger is apt to excite. As jet succeeded
jet, each rising nearer and nearer to his brig, the
interval of time between them seeming fearfully to diminish,
he muttered oath upon oath. The last leap that the shell
made on the water was at about a quarter of a mile's distance
of the islet on which his people had deposited at least a hundred
and fifty barrels of his spurious flour:-thence it flew,
as it might be without an effort, with a grand and stately
bound into the very centre of the barrels, exploding at the
moment it struck. All saw the scattering of flour, which
was instantly succeeded by the heavy though slightly straggling
explosion of all the powder on the island. A hundred

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kegs were lighted, as it might be, in a common flash, and a
cloud of white smoke poured out and concealed the whole
islet, and all near it.

Rose stood confounded, nor was Jack Tier in a much
better state of mind, though he still kept the pistol levelled,
and menaced Spike. But the last was no longer dangerous
to any there. He recollected that piles of the barrels encumbered
the decks of his vessel, and he rushed to the boat,
nearly frantic with haste, ordering the men to pull for their
lives. In less than five minutes he was alongside, and on
the deck of the Swash—his first order being to—“Tumble
every barrel of this bloody powder into the sea, men. Over
with it, Mr. Mulford, clear away the midship ports, and
launch as much as you can through them.”

Remonstrance on the part of Señor Montefalderon would
have been useless, had he been disposed to make it; but,
sooth to say, he was as ready to get rid of the powder as
any there, after the specimen he had just witnessed of the
power of a Paixhan gun.

Thus it is ever with men. Had two or three of those
shells been first thrown without effect, as might very well
have happened under the circumstances, none there would
have cared for the risk they were running; but the chance
explosion which had occurred, presented so vivid a picture
of the danger, dormant and remote as it really was, as to
throw the entire crew of the Swash into a frenzy of exertion.

Nor was the vessel at all free from danger. On the contrary,
she ran very serious risk of being destroyed, and in
some degree, in the very manner apprehended. Perceiving
that Spike was luffing up through one of the passages nearest
the reef, which would carry him clear of the group, a long
distance to windward of the point where he could only effect
the same object, the commander of the sloop-of-war opened
his fire in good earnest, hoping to shoot away something
material on board the Swash, before she could get beyond
the reach of his shot. The courses steered by the two vessels,
just at that moment, favoured such an attempt, though they
made it necessarily very short-lived. While the Swash was
near the wind, the sloop-of-war was obliged to run off to
avoid islets ahead of her, a circumstance which, while it
brought the brig square with the ship's broadside, compelled

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the latter to steer on a diverging line to the course of her
chase. It was in consequence of these facts, that the sloop-of-war
now opened in earnest, and was soon canopied in the
smoke of her own fire.

Great and important changes, as has been already mentioned,
have been made in the armaments of all the smaller
cruisers within the last few years. Half a generation since,
a ship of the rate—we do not say of the size—of the vessel
which was in chase of Spike and his craft, would not have
had it in her power to molest an enemy at the distance these
two vessels were now apart. But recent improvements have
made ships of this nominal force formidable at nearly a
league's distance; more especially by means of their Paixhans
and their shells.

For some little time the range carried the shot directly
over the islet of the tent; Jack Tier and Rose, both of whom
were watching all that passed with intense interest, standing
in the open air the whole time, seemingly with no concern
for themselves, so absorbed was each, notwithstanding all
that had passed, in the safety of the brig. As for Rose, she
thought only of Harry Mulford, and of the danger he was
in by those fearful explosions of the shells. Her quick intellect
comprehended the peculiar nature of the risk that was
incurred by having the flour-barrels on deck, and she could
not but see the manner in which Spike and his men were
tumbling them into the water, as the quickest manner of
getting rid of them. After what had just passed between
Jack Tier and his commander, it might not be so easy to
account for his manifest, nay, intense interest in the escape
of the Swash. This was apparent by his troubled countenance,
by his exclamations, and occasionally by his openly
expressed wishes for her safety. Perhaps it was no more
than the interest the seaman is so apt to feel in the craft in
which he has so long sailed, and which to him has been a
home, and of which Mulford exhibited so much, in his struggles
between feeling and conscience—between a true and a
false duty.

As for Spike and his people, we have already mentioned
their efforts to get rid of the powder. Shell after shell exploded,
though none very near the brig, the ship working
her guns as if in action. At length the officers of the

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sloop-of-war detected a source of error in their aim, that is of very
common occurrence in sea-gunnery. Their shot had been
thrown to ricochet, quartering a low, but very regular succession
of little waves. Each shot striking the water at an
acute angle to its agitated surface, was deflected from a
straight line, and described a regular curve toward the end
of its career; or, it might be truer to say, an irregular
curvature, for the deflection increased as the momentum of
the missile diminished.

No sooner did the commanding officer of the sloop-of-war
discover this fact, and it was easy to trace the course of the
shots by the jets of water they cast into the air, and to see
as well as to hear the explosions of the shells, than he ordered
the guns pointed more to windward, as a means of
counteracting the departure from the straight lines. This
expedient succeeded in part, the solid shot falling much nearer
to the brig the moment the practice was resorted to. No
shell was fired for some little time after the new order was
issued, and Spike and his people began to hope these terrific
missiles had ceased their annoyance. The men cheered,
finding their voices for the first time since the danger had
seemed so imminent, and Spike was heard animating them
to their duty. As for Mulford, he was on the coach-house
deck, working the brig, the captain having confided to him
that delicate duty, the highest proof he could furnish of confidence
in his seamanship. The handsome young mate had
just made a half-board, in the neatest manner, shoving the
brig by its means through a most difficult part of the passage,
and had got her handsomely filled again on the same
tack, looking right out into open water, by a channel through
which she could now stand on a very easy bowline.
Everything seemed propitious, and the sloop-of-war's solid
shot began to drop into the water, a hundred yards short
of the brig. In this state of things one of the Paixhans
belched forth its angry flame and sullen roar again. There
was no mistaking the gun. Then came its mass of iron, a
globe that would have weighed just sixty-eight pounds, had
not sufficient metal been left out of its interior to leave a
cavity to contain a single pound of powder. Its course, as
usual, was to be marked by its path along the sea, as it
bounded, half a mile at a time, from wave to wave. Spike

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saw by its undeviating course that this shell was booming
terrifically toward his brig, and a cry to “look out for the
shell,” caused the work to be suspended. That shell struck
the water for the last time, within two hundred yards of the
brig, rose dark and menacing in its furious leap, but exploded
at the next instant. The fragments of the iron were
scattered on each side, and ahead. Of the last, three or
four fell into the water so near the vessel as to cast their
spray on her decks.

“Overboard with the rest of the powder!” shouted Spike.
“Keep the brig off a little, Mr. Mulford—keep her off, sir;
you luff too much, sir.”

“Ay, ay, sir,” answered the mate. “Keep her off, it is.”

“There comes the other shell!” cried Ben, but the men
did not quit their toil to gaze this time. Each seaman
worked as if life and death depended on his single exertions.
Spike alone watched the course of the missile. On it came,
booming and hurtling through the air, tossing high the jets,
at each leap it made from the surface, striking the water
for its last bound, seemingly in a line with the shell that had
just preceded it. From that spot it made its final leap.
Every hand in the brig was stayed and every eye was raised
as the rushing tempest was heard advancing. The mass
went muttering directly between the masts of the Swash.
It had scarcely seemed to go by when the fierce flash of fire
and the sharp explosion followed. Happily for those in the
brig, the projectile force given by the gun carried the fragments
from them, as in the other instance it had brought
them forward; else would few have escaped mutilation, or
death, among their crew.

The flashing of fire so near the barrels of powder that
still remained on their deck, caused the frantic efforts to be
renewed, and barrel after barrel was tumbled overboard,
amid the shouts that were now raised to animate the people
to their duty.

“Luff, Mr. Mulford—luff you may, sir,” cried Spike.
No answer was given.

“D'ye hear there, Mr. Mulford?—it is luff you may,

“Mr. Mulford is not aft, sir,” called out the man at the
helm—“but luff it is, sir.”

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“Mr. Mulford not aft! Where's the mate, man? Tell
him he is wanted.”

No Mulford was to be found! A call passed round
the decks, was sent below, and echoed through the entire
brig, but no sign or tidings could be had of the handsome
mate. At that exciting moment the sloop-of-war seemed to
cease her firing, and appeared to be securing her guns.

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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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