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Title: Fighting for the Right
Author: Optic, Oliver, 1822-1897
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Library)



THE BLUE AND THE GRAY--AFLOAT

Two colors cloth  Emblematic Dies  Illustrated
Price per volume $1.50

  TAKEN BY THE ENEMY
  WITHIN THE ENEMY'S LINES
  ON THE BLOCKADE
  STAND BY THE UNION
  FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT
  A VICTORIOUS UNION

THE BLUE AND THE GRAY--ON LAND

Two colors cloth  Emblematic Dies  Illustrated
Price per volume $1.50

  BROTHER AGAINST BROTHER
  IN THE SADDLE
  A LIEUTENANT AT EIGHTEEN
  ON THE STAFF
  AT THE FRONT
  AN UNDIVIDED UNION

Any Volume Sold Separately

Lee and Shepard Publishers  Boston



  [Illustration:
  "Christy seized him by the collar with both hands." Page 75.]



                      The

               BLUE AND THE GRAY

                     Series

                 [Illustration]

                By Oliver Optic

             FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT



         _The Blue and the Gray Series_

             FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT

                       by

                  OLIVER OPTIC

                   Author of
"The Army and Navy Series" "Young America Abroad"
"The Great Western Series" "The Woodville Stories"
"The Starry Flag Series" "The Boat-Club Series"
"The Onward and Upward Series" "The Yacht-Club Series"
"The Lake Shore Series" "The Riverdale Stories"
"The Boat-Builder Series" "Taken by the Enemy"
"Within the Enemy's Lines" "On the Blockade"
"Stand by the Union" "A Missing Million"
"A Millionaire at Sixteen" etc., etc., etc.


                     BOSTON
          LEE AND SHEPARD Publishers


       Copyright, 1892 by Lee and Shepard
             _All Rights Reserved_

             Fighting for the Right


       Type-Setting and Electrotyping by
           C. J. Peters & Son, Boston



                       To

                My Grand Nephew

              RICHARD LABAN ADAMS

                   This Book

          Is Affectionately Dedicated



PREFACE


"FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT" is the fifth and last but one of "The Blue and
the Gray Series." The character of the operations in connection with the
war of the Rebellion, and the incidents in which the interest of the
young reader will be concentrated, are somewhat different from most of
those detailed in the preceding volumes of the series, though they all
have the same patriotic tendency, and are carried out with the same
devotion to the welfare of the nation as those which deal almost solely
in deeds of arms.

Although the soldiers and sailors of the army and navy of the Union won
all the honors gained in the field of battle or on the decks of the
national ships, and deserved all the laurels they gathered by their
skill and bravery in the trying days when the republic was in peril,
they were not the only actors in the greatest strife of the nineteenth
century. Not all the labor of "saving the Union" was done in the
trenches, on the march, on the gun deck of a man-of-war, or in other
military and naval operations, though without these the efforts of all
others would have been in vain. Thousands of men and women who never
"smelled gunpowder," who never heard the booming cannon, or the rattling
musketry, who never witnessed a battle on sea or land, but who kept
their minds and hearts in touch with the holy cause, labored diligently
and faithfully to support and sustain the soldiers and sailors at the
front.

If all those who fought no battles are not honored like the leaders and
commanders in the loyal cause, if they wear no laurels on their brows,
if no monuments are erected to transmit their memory to posterity, if
their names and deeds are not recorded in the Valhalla of the redeemed
nation, they ought not to be disregarded and ignored. It was not on the
field of strife alone in the South that the battle was fought and won.
The army and the navy needed a moral, as well as a material support,
which was cheerfully rendered by the great army of the people who never
buckled on a sword, or shouldered a musket. Their work can not be summed
up in deeds, for there was little or nothing that was brilliant and
dazzling in their career. They need no monuments; but their work was
necessary to the final and glorious result of the most terrible war of
modern times.

No apology is necessary for placing the hero of the story and his
skilful associate in a position at a distance from the actual field of
battle. They were working for the salvation of the Union as effectively
as they could have done in the din of the strife. They were "Fighting
for the Right," as they understood it, though it is not treason to say,
thirty years later, that the people of the South were as sincere as
those of the North; and they could hardly have fought and suffered to
the extent they did if it had been otherwise.

The incidents of the volume are more various than in the preceding
stories, which were so largely a repetition of battle scenes; but the
hero is still as earnest as ever in the cause he loves. He attains a
high position without any ambition to win it; for, like millions of
others who gave the best years of their lives to sustain the Union, who
suffered the most terrible hardships and privations, so many hundreds of
thousands giving their lives to their country, Christy fought and
labored for the cause, and not from any personal ambition. It is the
young man's high character, his devotion to duty, rather than the
incidents and adventures in which he is engaged, that render him worthy
of respect, and deserving of the honors that were bestowed upon him. The
younger participants in the war of the Rebellion, Christy Passford among
the number, are beginning to be grizzled with the snows of fifty
winters; but they are still rejoicing in "A Victorious Union."

  William T. Adams.

    Dorchester, April 18, 1892.



CONTENTS

                                              Page
CHAPTER I.
A Conference at Bonnydale                       15

CHAPTER II.
A Complicated Case                              26

CHAPTER III.
The Departure of the Chateaugay                 37

CHAPTER IV.
Monsieur Gilfleur explains                      48

CHAPTER V.
An Abundance of Evidence                        59

CHAPTER VI.
The Boarding of the Ionian                      70

CHAPTER VII.
A Bold Proposition                              81

CHAPTER VIII.
A Notable Expedition                            92

CHAPTER IX.
The Frenchman in Bermuda                       103

CHAPTER X.
Important Information obtained                 114

CHAPTER XI.
An Unexpected Rencontre                        125

CHAPTER XII.
As Impracticable Scheme                        136

CHAPTER XIII.
At the End of the Chase                        147

CHAPTER XIV.
An Easy Victory                                158

CHAPTER XV.
The Gentleman with a Grizzly Beard             169

CHAPTER XVI.
Among the Bahamas                              180

CHAPTER XVII.
The Landing at New Providence                  191

CHAPTER XVIII.
An Affray in Nassau                            202

CHAPTER XIX.
An Old Acquaintance                            213

CHAPTER XX.
A Band of Ruffians                             224

CHAPTER XXI.
A Question of Neutrality                       235

CHAPTER XXII.
On Board of the Snapper                        246

CHAPTER XXIII.
The Chateaugay in the Distance                 257

CHAPTER XXIV.
The Tables turned                              268

CHAPTER XXV.
Captain Flanger in Irons                       279

CHAPTER XXVI.
A Visit to Tampa Bay                           290

CHAPTER XXVII.
Among the Keys of Tampa                        302

CHAPTER XXVIII.
The Surrender of the Reindeer                  313

CHAPTER XXIX.
Bringing out the Prize                         324

CHAPTER XXX.
A Very Important Service                       335

CHAPTER XXXI.
An Undesired Promotion                         346



FIGHTING FOR THE RIGHT



CHAPTER I

A CONFERENCE AT BONNYDALE


"Well, Christy, how do you feel this morning?" asked Captain Passford,
one bright morning in April, at Bonnydale on the Hudson, the residence
of the former owner of the Bellevite, which he had presented to the
government.

"Quite well, father; I think I never felt any better in all my life,"
replied Lieutenant Passford, of the United States Navy, recently
commander of the little gunboat Bronx, on board of which he had been
severely wounded in an action with a Confederate fort in Louisiana.

"Do you feel any soreness at the wound in your arm?" inquired the
devoted parent with some anxiety.

"Not a particle, father."

"Or at the one in your thigh?"

"Not the slightest bit of soreness. In fact, I have been ready to return
to my duty at any time within the last month," replied Christy very
cheerfully. "It would be a shame for me to loiter around home any
longer, when I am as able to plank the deck as I ever was. In truth,
I think I am better and stronger than ever before, for I have had a long
rest."

"Your vacation has been none too long, for you were considerably run
down, the doctor said, in addition to your two wounds," added Captain
Passford, senior; for the young man had held a command, and was entitled
to the same honorary title as his father.

"These doctors sometimes make you think you are sicker than you really
are," said Christy with a laugh.

"But your doctor did not do so, for your mother and I both thought you
were rather run out by your labors in the Gulf."

"If I was, I am all right now. Do I look like a sick one? I weigh more
than I ever did before in my life."

"Your mother has taken excellent care of you, and you certainly look
larger and stronger than when you went to sea in the Bronx."

"But I am very tired of this inactive life. I have been assigned to the
Bellevite as second lieutenant, a position I prefer to a command, for
the reasons I have several times given you, father."

"I am certainly very glad to have you returned to the Bellevite, though
the honors will be easier with you than they were when you were the
commander of the Bronx."

"But I shall escape the responsibility of the command, and avoid being
pointed at as one who commands by official influence," said Christy,
rather warmly; for he felt that he had done his duty with the utmost
fidelity, and it was not pleasant to have his hard-earned honors
discounted by flings at his father's influence with the government.

"It is impossible to escape the sneers of the discontented, and there
are always plenty of such in the navy and the army. But, Christy, you
wrong yourself in taking any notice of such flings, for they have never
been thrown directly at you, if at all. You are over-sensitive, and you
have not correctly interpreted what your superiors have said to you,"
said Captain Passford seriously.

His father recalled some of the conversations between the young officer
and Captain Blowitt and others, reported to him before. He insisted that
the remarks of his superiors were highly complimentary to him, and that
he had no right to take offence at them.

"I dare say I am entirely wrong, father; but it will do me no harm to
serve in a subordinate capacity," added Christy.

"I agree with you here; but I must tell you again, as I have half a
dozen times before, that I never asked a position or promotion for you
at the Navy Department. You have won your honors and your advancement
yourself," continued the father.

"Well, it was all the same, father; you have used your time and your
money very freely in the service of the government, as you could not
help doing. I know that I did my duty, and the department promoted me
because I was your son," said Christy, laughing.

"Not at all, my son; you deserved your promotion every time, and if you
had been the son of a wood-chopper in the State of Maine, you would have
been promoted just the same," argued Captain Passford.

"Perhaps I should," answered the young officer rather doubtfully.

"After what you did in your last cruise with the Bronx, a larger and
finer vessel would have been given to you in recognition of the
brilliant service you had rendered," added the father. "I prevented this
from being done simply because you wished to take the position of second
lieutenant on board of the Bellevite."

"Then I thank you for it, father," replied Christy heartily.

"But the department thinks it has lost an able commander," continued the
captain with a smile.

"I am willing to let the department think so, father. All I really ask
of the officials now is to send me back to the Gulf, and to the
Bellevite. I believe you said that I was to go as a passenger in the
Chateaugay."

"I did; and she has been ready for over a week."

"Why don't she go, then?" asked Christy impatiently.

"On her way to the Gulf she is to engage in some special service,"
replied Captain Passford, as he took some letters from his pocket.

"Letters!" exclaimed the young lieutenant, laughing as he recalled some
such missives on two former occasions. "Do you still keep your three
agents in the island of Great Britain?"

"I don't keep them, for they are now in the employ of the government,
though they still report to me, and we use the system adopted some two
years ago."

"What is it this time, father?" asked Christy, his curiosity as well as
his patriotism excited by this time at the prospect of capturing a
Confederate man-of-war, or even a blockade-runner.

"There are traitors in and about the city of New York," answered Captain
Passford, as he returned the letters to his pocket. "We had a rebel in
the house here at one time, you remember, and it is not quite prudent
just now to explain the contents of the letters."

"All right, father; but I suppose you will read them to me before I sail
for the South."

"I will talk to you about it another time," added the captain, as a
knock was heard at the door. "Come in!"

It was the man-servant of the house, and he brought in a tray on which
there was a card, which Captain Passford took.

"Captain Wilford Chantor," the captain read from the card. "Show him in,
Gates. Lieutenant Chantor is appointed to the command of the Chateaugay,
Christy, in which you take passage to the Gulf; but she will not go
there directly."

"Captain Chantor," said Gates, as he opened the door for the visitor.

"I am happy to see you, Captain Chantor, though I have not had the
pleasure of meeting you before," said the captain, as he rose from his
chair, and bowed to the gentleman, who was in the uniform of a
lieutenant.

"I presume I have the honor to address Captain Horatio Passford," said
the visitor, as he took a letter from his pocket, bowing very
respectfully at the same time, and delivering the letter.

"I am very glad to meet you, Captain Chantor," continued Captain
Passford, taking the hand of the visitor. "Allow me to introduce to you
my son, Lieutenant Passford, who will be a passenger on your ship to the
Gulf."

"I am very happy to make your acquaintance, Mr. Passford, for I need
hardly say that I have heard a great deal about you before, and this is
a very unexpected pleasure," replied Captain Chantor.

"Thank you, Captain, and I am equally happy to meet you, as I am to be a
passenger on your ship," added Christy, as they shook hands very
cordially.

"I had three other passengers on board, but they have been transferred
to the store-ship, which sails to-day, and you will be my only
passenger."

"At my suggestion," said Captain Passford smiling, doubtless at the
puzzled expression of the captain of the Chateaugay at his statement.

"I am to attend to some special service on my voyage to the Gulf, and I
am ordered to take my instructions from you," added Captain Chantor.

"Precisely so; but I hold no official position, and your orders will be
put in proper form before you sail," replied Christy's father. "Now, if
you will be patient for a little while, I will explain the nature of the
special service."

"I shall be very glad to understand the subject, and I am confident my
patience will hold out to any extent you may require."

The conversation so far had taken place in the library. The owner of
Bonnydale rose from his arm-chair, opened the door into the hall, and
looked about him very cautiously. Then he closed a window which the
unusual warmth of an April day had rendered it necessary to open. He
conducted his companions to the part of the room farthest from the door,
and seated them on a sofa, while he placed his arm-chair in front of
them. Even Christy thought his father was taking extraordinary
precautions, and the visitor could make nothing of it.

"As I have had occasion to remark before to-day, there are traitors in
and about New York," the captain began.

"If you have any private business with Captain Chantor, father, I am
perfectly willing to retire," suggested Christy.

"No; I wish you to understand this special service, for you may be
called upon to take a hand in it," replied Captain Passford; and the
son seated himself again. "There are traitors in and about New York,
I repeat. I think we need not greatly wonder that some of the English
people persist in attempting to run the blockade at the South, when some
of our own citizens are indirectly concerned in the same occupation."

This seemed to the captain of the Chateaugay an astounding statement,
and not less so to Christy, and neither of them could make anything of
it; but they were silent, concluding that the special service related to
this matter.

"In what I am about to say to you, Captain Chantor, I understand that I
am talking to an officer of the utmost discretion," continued Captain
Passford, "and not a word of it must be repeated to any person on board
of the Chateaugay, and certainly not to any other person whatever."

"I understand you perfectly, sir," replied the officer. "My lips shall
be sealed to all."

"I wish to say that the command of the Chateaugay would have been
offered to my son, but I objected for the reason that he prefers not to
have a command at present," said the captain.

"That makes it very fortunate for me."

"Very true, though the change was not made for your sake. You were
selected for this command as much on account of your discretion as for
your skill and bravery as an officer."

"I consider myself very highly complimented by the selection."

"Now to the point: I have information that a fast steamer, intended to
carry eight guns, called the Ovidio, sailed from the other side of the
ocean some time since, and she is to be a vessel in the Confederate
navy. Her first port will be Nassau, New Providence."

"Does that prove that any Americans are traitors in and about New York,
father?" asked Christy.

"She is to run the blockade with a cargo consisting in part of American
goods."

Captain Passford took a file of papers from his pocket.



CHAPTER II

A COMPLICATED CASE


Captain Passford looked over his papers for a moment; but it was soon
evident from his manner that he had secrets which he would not intrust
even to his son, unless it was necessary to do so. He seemed to be armed
with documentary evidence upon which to act, but he did not read any of
his papers, and soon returned them to his pocket.

"The American goods of which I speak are certain pieces of machinery to
be used in the manufacture of arms," continued the captain. "They cannot
be obtained in England, and the traitors have decided to send them
direct, rather than across the ocean in the first instance. These will
form the principal and most important part of the cargo of a steamer now
loaded, though she will carry other goods, such as the enemy need most
at the present time."

"I did not suppose any Americans were wicked enough to engage in such an
enterprise for the sake of making money," said Christy indignantly.

"The steamer of which you speak is already loaded, is she?" asked
Captain Chantor.

"She is; and now I wish both of you to go with me, and I will point out
the vessel to you, and you must mark her so well that you can identify
her when occasion requires."

The trio left the house and took the train together. They went to New
York, and in an out-of-the-way locality they went down to a wharf; but
there was no steamer or vessel of any kind there, and the pier was
falling to pieces from decay. Captain Passford stopped short, and seemed
to be confounded when he found the dock was not occupied.

"I am afraid we are too late, and that the steamer has sailed on her
mission of destruction," said he, almost overcome by the discovery. "She
was here last night, and was watched till this morning. She has already
cleared, bound to Wilmington, Delaware, with a cargo of old iron."

"Do you know her name, Captain Passford?" asked the commander of the
Chateaugay.

"She was a screw steamer of about six hundred tons, and was called the
Ionian, but she is American."

It was useless to remain there any longer, for the steamer certainly was
not there. Captain Passford hailed a passing-tug-boat, and they were
taken on board. The master of the boat was instructed to steam down the
East River, and the party examined every steamer at anchor or under way.
The tug had nearly reached the Battery before the leader of the trio saw
any vessel that looked like the Ionian. The tug went around this craft,
for she resembled the one which had been in the dock, and the name
indicated was found on her stern.

"I breathe easier, for I was afraid she had given us the slip," said
Captain Passford. "She is evidently all ready to sail."

"The Chateaugay is in commission, and ready to sail at a moment's
notice," added her commander.

"But you are not ready to leave at once, Christy," suggested Captain
Passford, with some anxiety in his expression.

"Yes, I am, father; I put my valises on board yesterday, and when mother
and Florry went down to Mr. Pembroke's I bade them both good-by, for
after I have waited so long for my passage, I felt that the call would
come in a hurry," replied Christy. "I am all ready to go on board of the
Chateaugay at this moment."

"And so am I," added Captain Chantor.

"But I am not ready with your orders in full, though they are duly
signed," said Captain Passford. "I will put you on shore at the foot of
Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, Captain Chantor, and you will hasten to
your ship, get up steam, and move down to this vicinity. I will put my
son on board as soon as I can have your papers completed."

The order necessary to carry out this procedure was given to the captain
of the tug, and the commander of the Chateaugay was landed at the place
indicated. The tug started for the other side of the river.

"It seems to me this is very strange business, father," said Christy,
as he and his father seated themselves at the stern of the boat.

"Traitors do not work in the daylight, my son, as you have learned
before this time," replied Captain Passford.

"If you know the men who are engaged in supplying the enemy with
machinery, why do you not have them arrested and put in Fort Lafayette?"
asked Christy, in a very low tone, after he had assured himself that no
person was within possible hearing distance. "It looks as though the
case might be settled here, without going to sea to do it."

"We have not sufficient evidence to convict them; and to make arrests
without the means of conviction would be worse than doing nothing. The
Ionian has cleared for Wilmington with a cargo of old iron. Everything
looks regular in regard to her, and I have no doubt there is some party
who would claim the castings if occasion required. The first thing to be
ascertained is whether or not the steamer goes to Wilmington."

"Then we can make short work of her."

"My information in regard to this treason comes from Warnock--you know
who he is?"

"Captain Barnes," replied Christy promptly, for the names of all the
agents of his father in England and Scotland had been given to him on a
former occasion, when the information received from one of the three had
resulted in the capture of the Scotian and the Arran.

"Barnes is a very shrewd man. He does not inform me yet in what manner
he obtained the information that the Ovidio was to carry this machinery
from Nassau into a rebel port; but I shall get it later in a letter. He
gave me the name of the party who was to furnish the machinery; and one
of his agents obtained this from the direction of a letter to New York.
I placed four skilful detectives around this man, who stands well in the
community. They have worked the case admirably, and spotted the Ionian.
I have aided them in all possible ways; but the evidence is not
complete. If this steamer proceeds beyond Wilmington, Captain Chantor
will be instructed to capture her and send her back to New York."

"Then this business will soon be settled," added Christy.

"Perhaps not; the government official, with authority to act, is in New
York. I shall see him at once. I have no doubt the detectives have
already reported that the Ionian has moved down the river," said Captain
Passford, as the tug came up to a pier, where father and son landed.

They went to an office in Battery Place, where the captain was informed
that a special messenger had been sent to Bonnydale to acquaint him with
the fact that the Ionian had moved down the river. Files of documents,
containing reports of detectives and other papers, were examined and
compared, and then the government official proceeded to finish the
filling out of Captain Chantor's orders. The paper was given to Christy,
with an order to deliver it to the commander of the Chateaugay. The tug
had been detained for them, and they hastened on board of her.

They found the suspected steamer at her moorings still; but it was
evident that she was preparing to weigh her anchor. The tug continued on
her course towards the Navy Yard, and the Chateaugay was discovered in
the berth she had occupied for the last two weeks. Everything looked
lively on board of her, as though she were getting ready to heave up her
anchor.

"Christy, you will find on board of your steamer a man by the name of
Gilfleur," said Captain Passford, as the tug approached the man-of-war.

"That sounds like a French name," interposed Christy.

"It is a French name, and the owner of it is a Frenchman who has been a
detective in Paris. He has accomplished more in this matter than all the
others put together, and he will go with you, for you will find in the
commander's instructions that you have more than one thing to do on your
way to the Gulf. I gave him a letter to you."

"I shall be glad to see him."

"Now, my son, we must part, for I have business on shore, and you may
have to sail at any moment," said Captain Passford, as he took the two
hands of his son. "I have no advice to give you except to be prudent,
and on this duty to be especially discreet. That's all--good-by."

They parted, after wringing each other's hands, as they had parted
several times before. They might never meet again in this world, but
both of them subdued their emotion, for they were obeying the high and
solemn call of duty; both of them were fighting for the right, and the
civilian as well as the naval officer felt that it was his duty to lay
down his life for his suffering country. Christy mounted the gangway,
and was received by Captain Chantor on the quarter-deck. He had been on
board before, and had taken possession of his stateroom.

The passenger took from his pocket the files of papers given him by the
official on shore; and then he noticed for the first time an envelope
addressed to him. The commander retired to his cabin to read his
instructions, and Christy went to his stateroom in the ward room to open
the envelope directed to him. As soon as he broke the seal he realized
that his father had done a great deal of writing, and he had no doubt
the paper contained full instructions for him, as well as a history of
the difficult case in which he was to take a part. A paper signed by the
official informed him that he was expected to occupy a sort of advisory
position near the commander of the Chateaugay, though of course he was
in no manner to control him in regard to the management of the ship.

Christy read his father's letter through. The government was exceedingly
anxious to obtain accurate information in regard to the state of affairs
at Nassau, that hot-bed for blockade-runners. The Chateaugay was to look
out for the Ovidio, whose ultimate destination was Mobile, where she was
to convey the gun-making machinery, and such other merchandise as the
traitorous merchant of New York wished to send into the Confederacy. The
name of this man was given to him, and it was believed that papers
signed by him would be found on board of the Ionian.

A knock at the door of his room disturbed his examination of the
documents, and he found the commander of the steamer there. After
looking about the ward room, and into the adjoining staterooms, he came
in without ceremony.

"Here is my hand, Mr. Passford," said he, suiting the action to the
word. "I find after reading my instructions that I am expected to
consult with you, and as I have the very highest respect and regard for
you after the brilliant record you have made"--

"Don't you believe that I won my promotion to my present rank through
the influence of my father?" demanded Christy, laughing pleasantly, as
he took the offered hand and warmly pressed it.

"If you did, your father did the very best thing in the world for his
country, and has given it one of the bravest and best officers in the
service," replied Captain Chantor, still wringing the hand of his
passenger. "But I don't believe anything of the kind; and no officer who
knows you, even if he is thirsting for promotion, believes it. I have
heard a great many of higher rank than either of us speak of you, and if
you had been present your ears would have tingled; but I never heard a
single officer of any rank suggest that you owed your rapid advancement
to anything but your professional skill and your unflinching bravery, as
well as to your absolute and hearty devotion to your country. I rank you
in date, Mr. Passford, but I would give a great deal to have your record
written against my name."

"Your praise is exceedingly profuse, Captain Chantor, but I must believe
you are honest, however unworthy I may be of your unstinted laudation,"
said Christy with his eyes fixed on the floor, and blushing like a
school-girl.

"I hope and believe there will be no discount on our fellowship. A man
came on board this afternoon, and gives me a letter from the proper
authority, referring me to you in regard to his mission."

Christy decided to see this person at once.



CHAPTER III

THE DEPARTURE OF THE CHATEAUGAY


The commander told Christy that he would probably find the person who
had brought the letter to him in the waist, for he knew nothing of his
quality, position, or anything else about him, and he did not know where
to berth him, though there was room enough in the ward room or the
steerage. He was dressed like a gentleman, and brought two very handsome
valises on board with him.

"For all that, I did not know but that he might be a French cook, a
steward, or something of that sort," added Captain Chantor, laughing.

"He is a man who is said to be a Napoleon in his profession; but I will
tell you all about him after we get under way, for I am in a hurry to
speak with him," replied Christy.

"He is evidently a Frenchman," continued the captain.

"He is; but I never saw him in my life, and know nothing about him
except what I have learned from a long letter my father gave me when I
was coming on board."

"I have been told that you speak French like a native of Paris, Mr.
Passford," suggested the commander.

"Not so bad as that; I have studied the language a great deal under
competent instructors from Paris, but I am not so proficient as you may
think, though I can make my way with those who speak it," replied the
passenger, as he moved towards the door of the stateroom.

"And I can't speak the first word of it, for I have been a sailor all my
life, though I went through the naval academy somewhat hurriedly,"
continued the commander.

"Fortunately you don't need French on the quarter-deck;" and Christy
left the stateroom.

The captain went into his cabin, but came out before the passenger could
reach the deck. He informed Christy that he was directed to heave short
on the anchor and watch for a signal mentioned, which was to be hoisted
near the Battery. He might get under way at any minute.

Christy found the person of whom the captain had spoken in the waist.
He was dressed in a black suit, and looked more like a dandy than a
detective. He was apparently about forty years of age, rather slenderly
built, but with a graceful form. He wore a long black mustache, but no
other beard. He was pacing the deck, and seemed to be very uneasy,
possibly because he was all alone, for no one took any notice of him,
though the captain had received him very politely.

"Monsieur Gilfleur?" said Christy, walking up to him, and bowing as
politely as a Parisian.

"I am Mr. Gilfleur; have I the honor to address Lieutenant Passford?"
replied the Frenchman.

"I am Lieutenant Passford, though I have no official position on board
of this steamer."

"I am aware of it," added Mr. Gilfleur, as he chose to call himself,
taking a letter from the breast pocket of his coat, and handing it very
gracefully to Christy.

"Pardon me," added the young officer, as he opened the missive.

It was simply a letter of introduction from Captain Passford, intended
to assure him of the identity of the French detective. Mr. Gilfleur
evidently prided himself on his knowledge of the English language, for
he certainly spoke it fluently and correctly, though with a little of
the accent of his native tongue.

"I am very happy to meet you, Mr. Gilfleur," said Christy in French, as
he extended his hand to the other, who promptly took it, and from that
moment seemed to lose all his embarrassment.

"I thank you, Mr. Passford, for this pleasant reception, for it is
possible that we may have a great deal of business together, and I hope
you have confidence in me."

"Unlimited confidence, sir, since my father heartily indorses you."

"I thank you, sir, and I am sure we shall be good friends, though I am
not a gentleman like you, Mr. Passford."

"You are my equal in every respect, for though my father is a very rich
man, I am not. But we are all equals in this country."

"I don't know about that," said the Frenchman, with a Parisian shrug of
the shoulders. "Your father has treated me very kindly, and I have heard
a great deal about his brave and accomplished son," said Mr. Gilfleur,
with a very deferential bow.

"Spare me!" pleaded Christy, with a deprecatory smile and a shake of the
head.

"You are very modest, Mr. Passford, and I will not offend you. I am not
to speak of our mission before the Chateaugay is out of sight of land,"
said the detective, looking into the eyes of the young man with a gaze
which seemed to reach the soul, for he was doubtless measuring the
quality and calibre of his associate in the mission, as he called it,
in which both were engaged. "I knew your father very well in Paris,"
he added, withdrawing his piercing gaze.

"Then you are the gentleman who found the stewardess of the Bellevite
when she ran away with a bag of French gold at Havre?" said Christy,
opening his eyes.

"I have the honor to be that person," replied Mr. Gilfleur, with one of
his graceful bows. "It was a difficult case, for the woman was
associated with one of the worst thieves of Paris, and it took me a
month to run them down."

"Though I was a small boy, I remember it very well, for I was on board
of the Bellevite at the time," replied Christy. "I know that he was very
enthusiastic in his praise of the wonderful skill of the person who
recovered the money and sent the two thieves to prison. I understand now
why my father sent to Paris for you when he needed a very skilful person
of your profession."

"Thank you, Mr. Passford; you know me now, and we shall be good
friends."

"No doubt of it; but here comes the captain, and I have a word to say to
him," added Christy, as he touched his naval cap to the commander.
"Allow me to introduce to you my friend Mr. Gilfleur, whom my father
employed in Havre six years ago."

The captain was as polite as the Frenchman, and gave him a hearty
reception. Christy then suggested that his friend should be berthed in
the ward room. The ship's steward was called, and directed to give Mr.
Gilfleur a room next to the other passenger. As they were likely to have
many conferences together in regard to the business on their hands, they
were both particular in regard to the location of their rooms; and the
chief steward suited them as well as he could.

The detective spoke to him in French, but the steward could not
understand a word he said. Christy inquired if any of the ward-room
officers spoke the polite language, for his friend might sometimes wish
to converse in his own tongue.

"I don't believe they do, for they all got into the ward room through
the hawse-hole," replied the steward, laughing at the very idea.

When the passengers went on deck, the commander introduced them both to
the officers of the ship. To each in turn, at the request of Christy, he
put the question as to whether or not he could speak French; and they
all replied promptly in the negative, and laughed at the inquiry.

"Have you no one on board who speaks French, Captain Chantor?" asked
Christy.

"I don't know anything about it, but as it seems to be of some
importance to you and your friend, I will ascertain at once. Mr.
Suppleton, will you overhaul the ship's company, and see if you can find
any one that speaks French," continued the commander, addressing the
chief steward.

In about half an hour he returned, and reported that he was unable to
find a single person who could speak a word of French. Doubtless many of
the officers, who were of higher grade than any on board of the
Chateaugay, were fluent enough in the language, but they were not to be
found in the smaller vessels of the navy; for, whatever their rank
before the war, they had all been advanced to the higher positions.
Every one of the officers on board of this steamer had been the captain
of a vessel, and had been instructed in the profession after the war
began. Though substantially educated, they were not to be compared in
this respect with the original officers.

"We can talk as much as we please of our mission after we get out of
sight of land; and as long as we do it in French, no one will understand
us," said Christy to his fellow-passenger.

"As soon as we are permitted by my orders to do so, I shall have much to
say to you, Mr. Passford," replied Mr. Gilfleur.

"On deck!" shouted a man in the mizzen-top.

"Aloft!" returned Mr. Birdwing, the first lieutenant.

"Signal over the boarding-station, sir!" reported the quartermaster in
the top. "It is a number--'Get under way!'"

The executive officer reported the signal to the commander, though he
was on deck, and had heard the words of the quartermaster.

"Get under way at once, Mr. Birdwing," said the captain.

"Boatswain, all hands up anchor!" said the first lieutenant to this
officer; and in a moment the call rang through the ship.

Every officer and seaman was promptly in his station, for it was a
welcome call. The ship's company were dreaming of prize-money, for
officers had made fabulous sums from this source. In one instance a
lieutenant received for his share nearly forty thousand dollars; and
even an ordinary seaman pocketed seventeen hundred from a single
capture. The Chateaugayans were anxious to engage in this harvest, and
in a hurry to be on their way to the field of fortune.

In a short time the steamer was standing down East River at moderate
speed. The Ionian could not be seen yet, and nothing in regard to her
was known to any one on board except the captain and his two passengers.
As the ship approached the battery, a tug, which Christy recognized as
the one his father had employed, came off and hailed the Chateaugay. The
screw was stopped, and Captain Passford was discovered at her bow. He
waved his hat to his son, saluted the commander in the same manner, and
then passed up an envelope.

The tug sheered off, and the ship continued on her course, with a pilot
at the wheel. The missive from the shore was addressed to Captain
Chantor. He opened it at once, and then ordered one bell to be rung to
stop her. A few moments later a heavy tug came off, and twelve men were
put on board, with an order signed by the government official for the
commander to receive them on board. There had evidently been some
afterthoughts on shore. These men were turned in with the crew, except
two who were officers, and they were put in the ward room. The ship then
proceeded on her course.

"The Ionian is about two miles ahead of us, Mr. Passford," said the
captain, after he had used his glass diligently for some time. And he
spoke in a very low tone.

"We have no business with her at present," added Christy.

"None, except to watch her; and, fortunately, we have fine, clear
weather, so that will not be a difficult job. By the way, Mr. Passford,
the envelope I received was from your father, and he gives me
information of another steamer expected in the vicinity of Bermuda about
this time; and he thinks we had better look for her when she comes out
from those islands," said the captain, evidently delighted with the
prospect before him.

"What are these men for that were sent off in the tug?" Christy
inquired; for he felt that he had a right to ask the question.

"They are to take the Ionian back to New York, if we have to capture
her."

Captain Passford appeared to be afraid the Chateaugay would be
shorthanded if she had to send a prize crew home with the Ionian.



CHAPTER IV

MONSIEUR GILFLEUR EXPLAINS


The two officers and ten men that had been sent off to the Chateaugay
after she got under way, had evidently been considered necessary by the
authorities on shore after the receipt of the intelligence that another
vessel for the Confederates had been sent to Bermuda. A steamer had
arrived that day from Liverpool, and Captain Passford must have received
his mail after he landed from the tug. Captain Chantor had waited
several hours for the signal to get under way, and there had been time
enough to obtain the reinforcement from the Navy Yard.

The officer in command of the detachment of sailors said that he had
been ordered to follow the Chateaugay, and he had been provided with a
fast boat for this purpose. The steamer proceeded on her course as soon
as the transport boat had cast off her fasts, and everything suddenly
quieted down on board of her. The distance between the Ionian and the
man-of-war was soon reduced to about a mile. It was beginning to grow
dark, but the crew had been stationed and billed while the ship lay off
the Navy Yard; but the new hands sent on board were assigned to watches
and quarter-watches, stationed and billed, as though they were a part of
the regular ship's company. One of the two additional officers was
placed in each of the watches.

Before it was really dark everything on board was in order, and the ship
was put in perfect trim. Christy could not help seeing that Captain
Chantor was a thorough commander, and that his officers were excellent
in all respects. He walked about the ship, wishing to make himself
familiar with her. His father had not written to him in regard to the
second vessel which the Chateaugay was to look out for in the vicinity
of the Bermuda Islands, and he only knew what the captain had told him
in regard to the matter.

If the steamer was armed, as probably she was, an action would be likely
to come off, and the young lieutenant could not remain idle while a
battle was in prospect. His quick eye enabled him to take in all he saw
without much study, and only one thing bothered him. In the waist,
secured on blocks, was something like the ordinary whaleboat used in the
navy; but it was somewhat larger than those with which he was familiar
in the discharge of his duties, and differed in other respects from
them. The first watch would begin at eight o'clock, and all hands were
still on duty.

"What do you call this boat, Mr. Carlin?" asked Christy, as the third
lieutenant was passing him.

"I call it a nondescript craft," replied the officer, laughing. "It is
something like a whaleboat, but it isn't one."

"What is it for?" inquired the passenger.

"That is more than I know, sir. It was put on deck while we were still
at the Navy Yard. I never saw a boat just like it before, and I have not
the remotest idea of its intended use. Probably the captain can inform
you."

Christy was no wiser than before, but his curiosity was excited. He
strolled to the quarter-deck, where he found the captain directing his
night-glass towards the Ionian, which showed her port light on the
starboard hand, indicating that the Chateaugay was running ahead of her.
The commander called the second lieutenant, and gave him the order for
the chief engineer to reduce the speed of the ship.

"The Ionian is a slow boat; at least, she is not as fast as the
Chateaugay, Mr. Passford," said Captain Chantor, when Christy had halted
near him.

"That is apparent," replied Christy. "How many knots can you make in
your ship, Captain Chantor?"

"I am told that she has made fifteen when driven at her best."

"That is more than the average of the steamers in the service by three
knots," added Christy. "I have just been forward, Captain, and I saw
there a boat which is not quite on the regulation pattern."

"It is like a whaleboat, though it differs from one in some respects,"
added the commander.

"Is it for ordinary service, Captain Chantor?"

"There you have caught me, for I don't know to what use she is to be
applied," replied the captain, laughing because, as the highest
authority on board of the ship, he was unable to answer the question.

"You don't know?" queried Christy. "Or have I asked an indiscreet
question?" said the passenger.

"If I knew, and found it necessary to conceal my knowledge from you,
I should say so squarely, Mr. Passford," added the commander, a little
piqued. "I would not resort to a lie."

"I beg your pardon, Captain Chanter; I certainly meant no offence,"
pleaded Christy.

"No offence, Mr. Passford; my hand upon it," said the commander, and
they exchanged a friendly grip of the hands. "I really know nothing at
all in regard to the intended use of the boat; in my orders, I am simply
directed to place it at the disposal of Mr. Gilfleur at such time and
place as he may require, and to co-operate with him in any enterprise in
which he may engage. I must refer you to the French gentleman for any
further information."

The passenger went below to the ward room. The door of the detective's
room was closed, and he knocked. He was admitted, and there he found Mr.
Gilfleur occupied with a file of papers, which he was busily engaged in
studying. In the little apartment were two middle-sized valises, which
made it look as though the detective expected to pass some time on his
present voyage to the South.

"I hope I don't disturb you, Mr. Gilfleur," said Christy in French.

"Not at all, Mr. Passford; I am glad to see you, for I am ordered to
consult very freely with you, and to inform you fully in regard to all
my plans," replied the Frenchman.

"Perhaps you can tell me, then, what that boat in the waist is for,"
Christy began, in a very pleasant tone, and in his most agreeable
manner, perhaps copying to some extent the Parisian suavity, as he had
observed it in several visits he had made to the gay capital.

"I can tell you all about it, Mr. Passford, though that is my grand
secret. No other person on board of this ship knows what it is for; but
you are my confidant, though I never had one before in the practice of
my profession," replied Mr. Gilfleur, fixing his keen gaze upon his
associate. "A man's secret is the safest when he keeps it to himself.
But I will tell you all about it."

"No! no! I don't wish you to do that, Mr. Gilfleur, if you deem it wise
to keep the matter to yourself," interposed Christy. "My curiosity is a
little excited, but I can control it."

"I shall tell you all about it, for this affair is different from the
ordinary practice of my profession," replied the detective; and he
proceeded to give a history of the boat in the waist, and then detailed
the use to which it was to be applied.

"I am quite satisfied, and I should be glad to take part in the
expedition in which you intend to use it," said Christy when the
explanation in regard to the boat was finished.

"You would be willing to take part in my little enterprise!" exclaimed
the Frenchman, his eyes lighting up with pleasure.

"I should; why not?"

"Because it may be very dangerous, and a slight slip may cost us both
our lives," replied the detective very impressively, and with another of
his keen and penetrating glances.

"I have not been in the habit of keeping under cover in my two years'
service in the navy, and I know what danger is," added Christy.

"I know you are a very brave young officer, Mr. Passford, but this
service is very different from that on the deck of a ship of war in
action. But we will talk of that at a future time," said Mr. Gilfleur,
as he rose hastily from his arm-chair at the desk, and rushed out into
the ward room.

Christy had heard footsteps outside of the door, and he followed his
companion. They found there Mr. Suppleton, the ship's steward, with the
two extra officers who had been sent on board.

"Do you speak French, gentlemen?" asked the detective, addressing
himself to the two officers.

"Not a word of it," replied Mr. Gwyndale, one of them.

"Not a syllable of it," added Mr. Tempers, the other.

"Excuse me, gentlemen," said Mr. Gilfleur, as he retreated to his room.

Mr. Suppleton introduced the two new officers to Christy, and he then
followed his associate. The Frenchman was afraid the new-comers
understood his native language, and had been listening to his
explanation of the use of the strange boat; but he had spoken in a
whisper, and no one could have heard him, even if the listener had been
a Frenchman.

"We are all right," said the detective when they had both resumed their
seats, and the Frenchman had begun to overhaul his papers.

Mr. Gilfleur proceeded to explain in what manner he had obtained his
knowledge of the plot to send the gun-making machinery to the South. One
of Captain Passford's agents had ascertained the name of Hillman Davis,
who was in correspondence with those who were fitting out the ships for
the Confederate service.

"But that is all we learned from the letters--that the men who were
sending out the ships were in correspondence with this man Davis, who is
a very respectable merchant of New York," Mr. Gilfleur proceeded.

"Is that all you had to start with, my friend?" asked Christy.

"That was all; and it was very little. Your American detectives are more
cautious than Frenchmen in the same service."

"I don't see how in the world you could work up the case with nothing
more than a mere name to begin with," added Christy, beginning to have a
higher opinion than ever of the skill of the French detective.

"I tell you it was a narrow foundation on which to work up the case. It
may amuse you, but I will tell you how it was done. In the first place,
Captain Passford gave me all the money I needed to work with. I applied
for a situation at Mr. Davis's warehouse. He imported wines and liquors
from France; when his corresponding clerk, who spoke and wrote French,
was commissioned as a lieutenant in the army, he was looking for a man
to take his place. He employed me. I had charge of the letters, and
carried the mail to him in his private counting-room every time it
came."

"I don't believe that any of our American detectives would have been
competent to take such a position," suggested Christy, deeply interested
in the narrative.

"That is where I had the advantage of them. I was well educated, and was
graduated from the University of France, with the parchment in that
valise, signed by the minister of education. The carrier brought all the
letters to my desk. I looked them over, and when I found any from
England or Scotland, or even France, I opened and read them."

"How could you do that?" asked Christy curiously.

"I was educated to be a lawyer; but before I entered upon the
profession, I found I had a taste for the detective service. I did some
amateur work first, and was very successful. I afterwards reached a high
position in the service of the government. I acquired a great deal of
skill in disguising myself, and in all the arts of the profession.
I could open and reseal a letter so that no change could be discovered
in its appearance, and this was what I did in the service of Mr. Davis.
He was a mean man, the stingiest I ever met, and he was as dishonest and
unscrupulous as a Paris thief. I copied all the letters connected with
the case I had in hand, and this enabled me to get to the bottom of the
traitor's plot. He wrote letters himself, not only to England and
Scotland, but to people in the South, sending them to Bermuda and
Nassau. I took copies of all these, and saved one or two originals.
My pay was so small that I resigned my situation," and he flourished a
great file of letters as he finished.



CHAPTER V

AN ABUNDANCE OF EVIDENCE


Captain Passford had certainly kept his own counsel with punctilious
care; for he had never even mentioned the skilful detective in his
family, though the members of it had met the gentleman in Paris and in
Havre. Mr. Gilfleur was in constant communication with him while he was
working up the exposure of the treason of Davis, who might have been a
relative of the distinguished gentleman at the head of the Southern
Confederacy, though there was no evidence to this effect.

"If the captain of this steamer manages his affair well with the Ionian,
I expect to find letters on board of her signed by Davis," continued Mr.
Gilfleur. "From the information I obtained, your father put American
detectives on the scent of Davis, who dogged him day and night till they
found the Ionian, and ascertained in what manner she obtained her cargo;
but she had been partly loaded before they reached a conclusion, and it
is suspected that she has arms under the pieces of machinery, perhaps
cannon and ammunition."

The detective continued to explain his operations at greater length than
it is necessary to report them. Christy listened till nearly midnight,
and then he went on deck to ascertain the position of the chase before
he turned in. He found the captain on the quarter-deck, vigilant and
faithful to his duty, and evidently determined that the Ionian should
not elude him.

"You are up late, Mr. Passford," said the captain, when he recognized
his passenger in the gloom of the night.

"I have been busy, and I came on deck to see where the Ionian was before
I turned in," replied Christy.

"I think the rascal has a suspicion that we have some business with him,
for at four bells he turned his head in for the shore," added the
commander. "If you go forward you will see that we have dowsed every
glim on board, even to our mast-head and side lights."

"You are carrying no starboard and port light?"

"None; but we have a strong lookout aloft, and in every other available
place. When the chase headed for the shore, we kept on our course for
half an hour, and then put out the lights. We came about and went off to
the eastward for another half-hour. Coming about, we went to the
westward till we made her out, for she has not extinguished her lights.
It is dark enough to conceal the ship from her, and no doubt she thinks
we are still far to the southward of her. At any rate, she has resumed
her former course, which was about south, half west."

Christy was satisfied with this explanation, for the Ionian was doing
just what she was expected to do. She was not inclined to be overhauled
by a gunboat, and she had attempted to dodge the Chateaugay. Besides, if
she were bound to Wilmington, as her clearance stated, she would turn to
the south-west two or three points by this time. The young officer
seated himself in his room, and figured on the situation. If the steamer
were making an honest voyage she would not be more than twenty miles off
Absecum light at this time, and ought to be within ten of the coast.

At two bells Christy was still in his chair, and when he heard the bells
he decided to go on deck again, for he felt that the time would soon
come to settle every doubt in regard to the character of the Ionian. He
found the commander still at his post, and he looked out for the chase.
It was not more than a mile distant, and hardly to be seen in the gloom
of a dark night.

"On deck again, Mr. Passford?" said Captain Chantor.

"Yes, sir; I am too much interested in this affair to sleep; besides,
I feel as though I had slept at home enough to last me six months,"
replied the passenger. "It seems to me that the question of that
vessel's destination is to be decided about this time, or at least
within an hour or two."

Christy explained the calculation he had been making, in which the
captain agreed with him, and declared that he had been over the same
course of reasoning. Both of them thought the Ionian would not wait till
daylight to change her course, as it would be more perilous to do so
then than in the darkness.

"I am confident that she has not seen the Chateaugay since we put out
the lights," said the captain. "At the present moment we must be off
Absecum; but we cannot see the light. She is far off her course for
Wilmington."

"That is plain enough."

"What she will do depends upon whether or not she suspects that a
man-of-war is near her. We shall soon know, for she is already in a
position to justify her capture."

"Better make sure of her course before that is done," suggested Christy,
who felt that he was permitted to say as much as this.

"I don't intend to act till we are south of Cape Henlopen," added the
commander promptly. "Before we do anything, I shall formally consult
you, Mr. Passford, as I am advised to do."

"I shall be happy to serve as a volunteer, and I will obey your orders
without question, and as strictly as any officer on board."

"That is handsome, considering the position in which you have been
placed on board, Mr. Passford, and I appreciate the delicacy of your
conduct."

Christy remained on deck another hour, and at the end of that time a
quartermaster came aft to report that the chase had changed her course
farther to the eastward. This proved to be the fact on examination by
the officers on the quarter-deck, and as nearly as could be made out she
was now headed to the south-east.

"But that will not take her to the Bahama Islands," suggested Christy.

"Certainly not; and she may not be bound to Nassau, as stated in those
letters. But it is useless to speculate on her destination, for we shall
be in condition in the morning to form an opinion," replied the captain.
"I shall keep well astern of her till morning; and if there should be
any change in her movements, I will have you called, Mr. Passford."

Christy considered this a sage conclusion, and he turned in on the
strength of it. He was not disturbed during the remaining hours of the
night. He had taken more exercise than usual that day, and he slept
soundly, as he was in the habit of doing. The bell forward indicated
eight o'clock when he turned out. Breakfast was all ready, but he
hastened on deck to ascertain the position of the chase. The captain was
not on the quarter-deck, but the first lieutenant was planking the deck
for his morning "constitutional."

"Good-morning, Mr. Birdwing," said Christy.

"Good-morning, Mr. Passford; I hope you are very well this morning,"
replied the executive officer.

"Quite well, I thank you, sir. But what has become of the chase?" asked
the passenger, for the Ionian did not appear to be in sight, and he
began to be anxious about her.

"Still ahead of us, sir; but she cannot be seen without a glass. I was
called with the morning watch, when the captain turned in. His policy is
to keep the Ionian so that we may know just where she is, and also to
give her the idea that she is running away from us," replied Mr.
Birdwing, as he took a glass from the brackets and handed it to Christy.

The young officer could just make out the steamer with the aid of the
glass. The Chateaugay was following her; and a glance at the compass
gave her course as south-east, half south. Christy had sailed the Bronx
over this course, and he knew where it would bring up.

"It is plain enough, Mr. Birdwing, that the Ionian is not bound to
Nassau," said he.

"So Captain Chantor said when I came on deck," replied the first
lieutenant.

"And it is equally plain where she is bound," added Christy. "That
course means the Bermuda Islands, and doubtless that is her
destination."

"So the captain said."

The passenger was satisfied, and went below for his breakfast. He found
Mr. Gilfleur at the table; and as the fact that the Chateaugay was
chasing the Ionian was well understood in the ward room, Christy did not
hesitate to tell him the news. The Frenchman bestowed one of his
penetrating glances upon his associate, and said nothing. After the meal
was finished they retired to the detective's room. Mr. Gilfleur looked
over his papers very industriously for a few minutes.

"This affair is not working exactly as it should," said he, as he
selected a letter from his files. "I supposed this steamer would proceed
directly to Nassau. Read this letter, Mr. Passford."

"Colonel Richard Pierson!" exclaimed Christy, as he saw to whom the
letter was addressed.

"Anything strange about the address?" asked the detective.

"Perhaps nothing strange; but I saw this gentleman in Nassau two years
ago," replied Christy, as he recalled the events of his first trip to
Mobile in the Bellevite. "I can say of my own knowledge that he is a
Confederate agent, and was trying to purchase vessels there. This letter
is signed by Hillman Davis."

"The American traitor," added Mr. Gilfleur; and both of them were using
the French language.

"He says he shall send the machinery and other merchandise to Nassau to
be reshipped to Mobile," continued Christy, reading the letter. "He adds
that he has bought the steamer Ionian for this purpose, and he expects
to be paid in full for her. I think that is quite enough to condemn the
steamer."

"Undoubtedly; but what is the Ionian to do in the Bermudas? That is what
perplexes me," said the detective.

"Possibly Captain Chantor can solve the problem, for I am sure I
cannot," answered the young officer, as he rose from his seat.

He was as much perplexed as his companion, and he went on deck to wait
the appearance of the commander. About nine o'clock he came upon the
quarter-deck. The Ionian remained at the same relative distance from the
Chateaugay, for the captain had given an order to this effect before he
turned in.

"I am glad to see you, Captain Chantor," said Christy. "Can you explain
why the Ionian is headed for the Bermudas, for you have later
information than any in my possession?"

"I think I can," replied the captain, taking a letter from his pocket.
"This is the contents of the last envelope brought off from the shore.
The writer of it says he has just addressed a letter to 'our friend in
New York,' directing him, if it is not too late, to send the steamer
with the machinery and other merchandise to the Bermudas, where the
cargo will be transferred to the Dornoch; for the Ovidio had been
obliged to sail without her armament, and the cargo was too valuable to
be risked without protection."

"That is the reason why the reinforcement was sent off at the last
moment," Christy remarked.

"The Dornoch carries six guns and fifty men," added the captain, reading
from the letter. "I think we need not wait any longer to take possession
of the Ionian, Mr. Passford. What is your opinion?"

"I concur entirely with you," replied Christy.

"Quartermaster, strike four bells," continued the captain to the man who
was conning the wheel.

"Four bells," repeated the quartermaster; and the gong could be heard on
deck as he did so.

In the course of half an hour, for the steam had been kept rather low
for the slow progress the ship was obliged to make in order not to alarm
the chase, the Chateaugay began to show what she could do in the matter
of speed, and before noon she had overhauled the Ionian.



CHAPTER VI

THE BOARDING OF THE IONIAN


The Chateaugay, with her colors flying, ran abreast of the Ionian and by
her; but the latter did not show her flag. A blank cartridge was then
fired, but the steamer took no notice of it. A shot was then discharged
across her fore foot, and this brought her to her senses, so that she
hoisted the British flag, and stopped her screw. All the preparations
had been made for boarding her, and two boats were in readiness to
discharge this duty.

The first cutter, in charge of Mr. Birdwing, was the first to leave the
ship. The sea was quite smooth, so that there was no difficulty in
getting the boats off. The first lieutenant's boat went from the
starboard side, and the second cutter was lowered on the port in charge
of the third lieutenant. Christy went in the first boat, and Mr.
Gilfleur in the second. The officers and crews of both boats were
especially directed to see that nothing was thrown overboard from the
Ionian; for if her captain found that he was in a "tight place," he
would be likely to heave his papers into the sea.

The first cutter had not made half the distance to the Ionian before she
pulled down the British flag and hoisted the American in its place. Her
commander evidently believed that he was getting into hot water, and
well he might. He must have been selected for this enterprise on account
of his fitness for it, and as the steamer had not sailed on an honest
voyage, he could not be an honest man, and the officers of the boats
despised him. They were determined to discharge their duty faithfully,
even if they were obliged to treat him with the utmost rigor.

"She has corrected her first blunder," said Mr. Birdwing, as the
American flag went up to her peak. "The skipper of that craft don't
exactly know what he is about."

"It must be a surprise to him to be brought to by a United States
man-of-war," added Christy.

"But why did the fool hoist the British flag when he has no papers to
back it up? That would have done very well among the blockaders,"
continued the officer of the boat. "I don't know very much about this
business, and the captain ordered me to let you and the French gentleman
in the other boat have your own way on board of her, and to do all you
required. Have you any directions for me?"

"We desire to have the steamer thoroughly searched, and I have little
doubt that we shall ask you to take possession of her," replied Christy.

"Then we are to make a capture of it?" asked the first lieutenant,
manifesting no little surprise.

"Under certain circumstances, yes."

"Is she a Confederate vessel?"

"No; she is an American vessel."

"All right; but I shall obey my orders to the very letter," added Mr.
Birdwing. "How many men shall I put on board of her?"

"Twelve, if you please," replied Christy, who had arranged the plan with
the detective.

"Six from each boat," said the executive officer; and then he hailed the
second cutter, and directed Mr. Carlin to send this number on board of
the Ionian.

"And, if you please, direct him to board the steamer on the starboard
side, for I take it you will board on the port," added Christy. "We fear
that she will throw certain papers overboard, and we must prevent that
if possible."

The order was given to the third lieutenant, and in a few minutes more
the first cutter came alongside the steamer. Mr. Birdwing ordered those
on board to drop the accommodation ladder over the side; and for so mild
a gentleman he did it in a very imperative tone. The order was obeyed,
though it appeared to be done very reluctantly. The first lieutenant was
the first to mount the ladder, and was closely followed by his
passenger.

"Where is the captain?" demanded Mr. Birdwing, as the six men detailed
for the purpose were coming over the side.

"I am the captain," replied an ill-favored looking man, stepping forward
with very ill grace.

"What steamer is this?"

"The Ionian, of New York, bound to St. George's, Bermuda," replied the
captain in a crusty tone.

"The captain's name?" demanded the officer, becoming more imperative as
the commander of the Ionian manifested more of his crabbed disposition.

"Captain Sawlock," growled the ill-favored master of the steamer, who
was a rather short man, thick-set, with a face badly pitted by the
small-pox, but nearly covered with a grizzly and tangled beard.

"You will oblige me by producing your papers, Captain Sawlock,"
continued Mr. Birdwing.

"For a good reason, my papers are not regular," answered the captain of
the Ionian, with an attempt to be more affable, though it did not seem
to be in his nature to be anything but a brute in his manners.

"Regular or not, you will oblige me by exhibiting them," the officer
insisted.

"It is not my fault that a change was made in my orders after I got
under way," pleaded Captain Sawlock.

"Will you produce your clearance and other papers?" demanded the
lieutenant very decidedly.

"This is an American vessel, and you have no right to overhaul me in
this manner," growled the captain of the steamer.

"You are in command of a steamer, and you cannot be so ignorant as to
believe that an officer of a man-of-war has not the right to require you
to show your papers," added Mr. Birdwing with a palpable sneer.

"This is an American vessel," repeated Captain Sawlock.

"Then why did you hoist the British flag?"

"That's my business!"

"But it is mine also. Do you decline to show your papers? You are
trifling with me," said Mr. Birdwing impatiently.

At this moment there was a scuffle in the waist of the steamer, which
attracted the attention of all on the deck. Mr. Gilfleur had suddenly
thrown himself on the first officer of the Ionian; and when his second
officer and several sailors had gone to his assistance, the third
lieutenant of the Chateaugay had rushed in to the support of the
Frenchman. The man-of-war's men were all armed with cutlasses and
revolvers; but they did not use their weapons, and it looked like a
rough-and-tumble fight on the deck.

Mr. Birdwing and Christy rushed over to the starboard side of the
steamer; but Mr. Carlin and his men had so effectively sustained the
detective that the affray had reached a conclusion before they could
interfere. Mr. Gilfleur was crawling out from under two or three men who
had thrown themselves upon him when he brought the first officer to the
deck by jumping suddenly upon him. The Frenchman had in his hand a tin
case about a foot in length, and three inches in diameter, such as are
sometimes used to contain charters, or similar valuable papers.

The contest had plainly been for the possession of this case, which the
quick eye of the detective had discovered as the mate was carrying it
forward; for Mr. Carlin had sent two of his men to the stern at the
request of the Frenchman, charged to allow no one to throw anything
overboard. The first officer of the Ionian had listened to the
conversation between Captain Sawlock and the first lieutenant, and had
gone below into the cabin when it began to be a little stormy.

"What does all this mean, Mr. Carlin?" inquired Mr. Birdwing.

"I simply obeyed my orders to support Mr. Gilfleur; and he can explain
his action better than I can," replied the third lieutenant.

"I have requested the officers, through Captain Chantor, to see that
nothing was thrown overboard, either before or after we boarded the
steamer," interposed Christy.

"And the captain's order has been obeyed," added the first lieutenant.
"Will you explain the cause of this affray, Mr. Gilfleur?"

"With the greatest pleasure," answered the detective with one of his
politest bows. "While you were talking with the captain of the Ionian,
I saw the first officer of this steamer go into the cabin. I was told by
a sailor that he was the mate. In a minute or two he came on deck again,
and I saw that he had something under his coat. He moved forward, and
was going to the side when I jumped upon him. After a struggle I took
this tin case from him."

The detective stepped forward, and handed the tin case to the executive
officer as gracefully as though he had been figuring in a ballroom.
Captain Sawlock had followed the officers over from the port side. He
appeared to be confounded, and listened in silence to the explanation of
Mr. Gilfleur. But he looked decidedly ugly.

"That case is my personal, private property," said he, as soon as it was
in the hands of the chief officer of the boarding-party.

"I don't dispute it, Captain Sawlock; but at the same time I intend to
examine its contents," replied Mr. Birdwing mildly, but firmly.

"This is an outrage, Mr. Officer!" exclaimed the discomfited master.

"If it is, I am responsible for it," added the executive officer, as he
removed the cover from the end of the case.

"I protest against this outrage! I will not submit to it!" howled
Captain Sawlock, carried away by his wrath.

"Perhaps you will," said Mr. Birdwing quietly.

"But I will not!"

With a sudden movement he threw himself upon the officer, and attempted
to wrest the tin case from his hands. Christy, who was standing behind
him, seized him by the collar with both hands, and hurled him to the
deck. A moment later two seamen, by order of Mr. Carlin, took him each
by his two arms, and held him like a vice.

"I think we will retire to the cabin to examine these papers, for I see
that the case is filled with documents, including some sealed letters,"
continued Mr. Birdwing, as he moved towards the cabin door.

"That cabin is mine! You can't go into it!" howled Captain Sawlock,
crazy with anger. "Don't let them go into the cabin, Withers!"

Withers appeared to be the mate, and he stepped forward as though he
intended to do something; but a couple of seamen, by order of the first
lieutenant, arrested and held him. He had apparently had enough of it in
his encounter with the detective, for he submitted without any
resistance. If the captain of the steamer was a fool, the mate was not,
for he saw the folly of resisting a United States force.

"Mr. Carlin, you will remain on deck with the men; Mr. Passford and Mr.
Gilfleur, may I trouble you to come into the cabin with me?" continued
Mr. Birdwing, as he led the way.

The executive officer seated himself at the table in the middle of the
cabin, and his companions took places on each side of him. The first
paper drawn from the case was the clearance of the Ionian for
Wilmington, with a cargo of old iron. The manifest had clearly been
trumped up for the occasion. The old iron was specified, and a list of
other articles of merchandise.

At this point the executive officer sent for Mr. Carlin, and directed
him to take off the hatches and examine the cargo, especially what was
under the pieces of machinery. There were several letters to unknown
persons, and one in particular to the captain himself, in which he was
directed to deliver the machinery to a gentleman with the title of
"Captain," who was doubtless a Confederate agent, in St. George's,
Bermuda. The papers were abundantly sufficient to convict Davis of
treason. The last one found in the case directed Captain Sawlock to
deliver the cannon and ammunition in the bottom of the vessel to the
steamer Dornoch, on her arrival at St. George's, or at some convenient
place in the Bahama Islands.



CHAPTER VII

A BOLD PROPOSITION


The evidence was sufficient to justify the capture of the Ionian without
a particle of doubt, for she was as really a Confederate vessel as
though the captain and officers were provided with commissions signed by
Mr. Jefferson Davis.

Mr. Birdwing went to the door and directed the third lieutenant to have
Captain Sawlock conducted to the cabin; and the two seamen who had held
him as a prisoner brought him before the first lieutenant of the
Chateaugay. He appeared to have got control of his temper, and offered
no further resistance. Mr. Carlin came to the door, and his superior
directed him to examine all hands forward, in order to ascertain whether
they were Confederates or otherwise. He gave him the shipping-list to
assist him.

"Are you an American citizen, Captain Sawlock?" asked Mr. Birdwing,
as soon as the third lieutenant had departed on his mission.

"I am," replied he stiffly.

"Where were you horn?"

"In Pensacola."

"Have you ever taken the oath of allegiance to the United States
government?"

"No; and I never will!" protested the captain with an oath.

"I must inform you, Captain Sawlock, that I am directed by the commander
of the United States steamer Chateaugay to take possession of the
Ionian, on finding sufficient evidence on board that she is engaged in
an illegal voyage. I have no doubt in regard to the matter, and I take
possession of her accordingly."

"It is an outrage!" howled the captain with a heavy oath.

"You can settle that matter with the courts. I have nothing more to
say," replied Mr. Birdwing as he rose and left the cabin, followed by
Christy and the detective.

"I found ten heavy guns and a large quantity of ammunition at the bottom
of the hold," reported Mr. Carlin, as his superior appeared on deck, and
handed back the shipping-list of the vessel. "The three engineers appear
to be Englishmen, and so declare themselves. I find six Americans among
the crew, who are provided with protections, and they all desire to
enlist in the navy. The rest of the crew are of all nations."

"Let the six men with protections man the first cutter. You will remain
on board of the Ionian, Mr. Carlin, till orders come to you from the
captain," said the first lieutenant. "I shall now return to the
Chateaugay to report."

Christy decided to return to the ship; but the detective wished to
remain, though he said there was nothing more for him to do. The six
sailors who wished to enter the navy were ordered into the boat, two of
the regular crew remaining in it. The recruits were good-looking men,
and they pulled their oars as though they had already served in the
navy. They supposed the Ionian was really bound to Wilmington; but they
could not explain why they had not enlisted at Brooklyn if they desired
to do so. The first lieutenant went on board of the ship, and reported
to the captain.

Mr. Gwyndale was at once appointed prize-master, with Mr. Tompers as his
executive officer, and sent on board with the ten seamen who had been
put on board of the Chateaugay expressly for this duty. Several pairs of
handcuffs were sent on board of the Ionian, for the first lieutenant
apprehended that they would be needed to keep Captain Sawlock and his
mate in proper subjection. The papers which had been contained in the
tin case were intrusted to the care of Mr. Gwyndale, with the strictest
injunction to keep them safely, and deliver them to the government
official before any of the Ionian ship's company were permitted to land.

The cutters returned from the prize with all the hands who had been sent
from the ship, including Mr. Gilfleur. The prize-master had a sufficient
force with him to handle the steamer, and to control the disaffected, if
there were any besides the captain and mate. The engineers and firemen
were willing to remain and do duty as long as they were paid. In a
couple of hours the Ionian started her screw and headed for New York,
where she would arrive the next day.

Captain Chantor directed the quartermaster at the wheel to ring one
bell, and the Chateaugay began to move again. The events of the day were
discussed; but the first business of the ship had been successfully
disposed of, and the future was a more inviting field than the past. The
captain requested the presence of the two passengers in his cabin, and
read to them in full the latest instructions that had been sent off to
him.

"Our next duty is to look for the Dornoch, with her six guns and fifty
men, and we are not likely to have so soft a time of it as we had with
the Ionian," said Captain Chantor, when he had read the letter.

"The Chateaugay is reasonably fast, though she could not hold her own
with the Bellevite, or even the Bronx; and you have a pivot gun
amidships, and six broadside guns," added Christy.

"Oh, I shall be happy to meet her!" exclaimed the commander. "I don't
object to her six guns and fifty men; the only difficulty I can see is
in finding her. I am afraid she has already gone into St. George's
harbor, and she may not come out for a month."

"Why should she wait all that time?" asked Christy. "Her commander knew
nothing about the Ionian, that she was to take in a valuable cargo for
her, and she will not wait for her."

"That is true; but I am afraid we shall miss the Ovidio if we remain too
long in these waters."

"It seems to me that the Dornoch has had time enough to reach the
Bermudas," said Christy. "Possibly she is in port at this moment."

"That is a harassing reflection!" exclaimed the commander.

"I don't see that there is any help for it," added Christy. "You cannot
go into the port of St. George's to see if she is there."

"Why not?" asked Mr. Gilfleur, speaking for the first time. "I spent a
winter there when I was sick from over-work and exposure; and I know all
about the islands."

"That will not help me, Mr. Gilfleur," said the captain, with a smile at
what he considered the simplicity of the Frenchman.

"But why can you not go in and see if the Dornoch is there?" inquired
the detective.

"Because if I learned that she was about to leave the port, the
authorities would not let me sail till twenty-four hours after she had
gone."

"You need not wait till she gets ready to leave," suggested the
Frenchman.

"She might be ready to sail at the very time I arrived, and then I
should lose her. Oh, no; I prefer to take my chance at a marine league
from the shore," added the captain, shaking his head.

"Perhaps I might go into Hamilton harbor and obtain the information you
need," suggested Mr. Gilfleur, looking very earnest, as though he was
thinking of something.

"You!" exclaimed Captain Chantor, looking at him with amazement. "How
could you go in without going in the ship?"

"You know that I have a boat on deck," replied the detective quietly.

"But you are not a sailor, sir."

"No, I am not a sailor; but I am a boatman. After I had worked up the
biggest case in all my life in Paris,--one that required me to go to
London seven times,--I was sick when the bank-robbers were convicted,
and the excitement was over. The doctors ordered me to spend the winter
in Martinique, and I went to the Bermudas in an English steamer, where I
was to take another for my destination; but I liked the islands so well
that I remained there all the winter. My principal amusement was
boating; and I learned the whole art to perfection. I used to go through
the openings in the reefs, and sail out of sight of land. I had a boat
like the one on deck."

"Your experience is interesting, but I do not see how it will profit
me," said the captain.

"I can go to the Bermudas, obtain the information you want, and return
to the Chateaugay," replied Mr. Gilfleur rather impatiently.

"That would be a risky cruise for you, my friend," suggested Captain
Chantor, shaking his head in a deprecatory manner.

"I don't think so. I have been outside the reefs many times when the
wind blew a gale, and I felt as safe in my boat as I do on board of this
ship," said the detective earnestly.

"How would you manage the matter?" asked the commander, beginning to be
interested in the project.

"You shall run to the south of the islands, or rather to the south-west,
in the night, with all your lights put out, and let me embark there in
my boat. You will give me a compass, and I have a sail in the boat. I
shall steer to the north-east, and I shall soon see Gibbs Hill light. By
that I can make the point on the coast I wish to reach, which is Hogfish
Cut. I have been through it twenty times. Once inside the reefs I shall
have no difficulty in reaching Hamilton harbor. Then I will take a
carriage to St. George's. If I find the Dornoch in the harbor, I will
come out the same way I went in, and you will pick me up."

"That looks more practicable than I supposed it could be," added Captain
Chantor.

"While I am absent you will be attending to your duty as commander of
the Chateaugay, for you will still be on the lookout for your prize,"
continued the versatile Frenchman. "You can run up twenty or thirty
miles to the northward, on the east side of the islands, where all large
vessels have to go in."

"How long will it take you to carry out this enterprise, Mr. Gilfleur?"

"Not more than two days; perhaps less time. Do you consent?"

"I will consider it, and give you an answer to-morrow morning," replied
Captain Chantor.

"Won't you take me with you, Mr. Gilfleur?" asked Christy, who was much
pleased with the idea of such an excursion.

"I should be very happy to have your company, Mr. Passford," replied the
detective very promptly, and with a smile on his face which revealed his
own satisfaction.

"Are you in earnest, Lieutenant Passford?" demanded the commander,
looking with astonishment at his passenger.

"Of course I am: I see no difficulty in the enterprise," replied
Christy. "I have had a good deal of experience in sailboats myself, and
I do not believe I should be an encumbrance to Mr. Gilfleur; and I may
be of some service to him."

"You would be of very great service to me, for you know all about ships,
and I do not," the detective added.

"Just as you please, Mr. Passford. You are not under my orders, for you
are not attached to the ship," said the captain.

The commander went on deck, and the two passengers retired to Christy's
stateroom, where they discussed the enterprise for a couple of hours.
In the mean time the Chateaugay was making her best speed, for Captain
Chantor did not wish to lose any of his chances by being too late; and
he believed that the Dornoch must be fully due at the Bermudas. Before
he turned in that night he had altered the course of the ship half a
point more to the southward, for he had decided to accept the offer of
Mr. Gilfleur; and he wished to go to the west of the islands instead of
the east, as he had given out the course at noon.

For two days more the Chateaugay continued on her voyage. At noon the
second day he found his ship was directly west of the southern part of
the Bermudas, and but fifty miles from them. He shaped his course so as
to be at the south of them that night.



CHAPTER VIII

A NOTABLE EXPEDITION


The position of the Chateaugay was accurately laid down on the chart
fifty miles to the westward of Spears Hill, which is about the
geographical centre of the Bermuda Islands. Captain Chantor had invited
his two passengers to his cabin for a conference in relation to the
proposed enterprise, after the observations had been worked up at noon,
on the fourth day after the departure from New York.

"Now, Mr. Gilfleur, if you will indicate the precise point at which you
desire to put off in your boat, I will have the ship there at the time
you require," said the captain, who had drawn a rough sketch of the
islands, and dotted upon it the points he mentioned in his statement.

"Of course you do not wish the ship to be seen from the islands,"
suggested the detective.

"Certainly not; for if the Dornoch is in port at St. George's that would
be warning her to avoid us in coming out, and she might escape by
standing off to the northward," replied the commander. "Besides, there
might be fishing-craft or other small vessels off the island that would
report the ship if she were seen. It is not advisable to go any nearer
to the islands till after dark. We will show no lights as we approach
your destination."

"How near Gibbs Hill light can you go with safety in the darkness,
Captain?" asked Mr. Gilfleur.

"I should not care to go nearer than ten miles; we could not be seen
from the shore at that distance, but we might be seen by some small
craft."

"That will do very well; and if you will make a point ten miles
south-west of Gibbs Hills light, I shall be exactly suited," added the
detective, as he made a small cross on the sketch near the place where
he desired to embark in the boat.

The conference was finished, and the two passengers went on deck to
inspect the craft which was to convey them to the islands. By order of
the commander the carpenter had overhauled the boat and made such
repairs as were needed. Every open seam had been calked, and a heavy
coat of paint had been put upon it. The sailmaker had attended to the
jib and mainsail, and everything was in excellent condition for the trip
to the shore.

"Is this the same boat that you used when you were in the Bermudas, Mr.
Gilfleur?" asked Christy, as they were examining the work which had been
done on the craft, its spars and sails.

"Oh, no; it was six years ago that I spent the winter in the islands. I
found this boat under a shed on a wharf in New York. It had been picked
up near the Great Abaco in the Bahama Islands by a three-master, on her
voyage from the West Indies," replied Mr. Gilfleur. "When I had formed
my plan of operations in the vicinity of Nassau, in order to obtain the
information the government desired, I bought this boat. When picked up,
the boat had her spars, sails, oars, water-breakers, and other articles
carefully stowed away on board of her; and it appeared as though she had
broken adrift from her moorings, or had been carried away by a rising
tide from some beach where those in charge of her had landed. I happened
to find the captain of the vessel that brought the boat to New York; and
he made me pay roundly for her, so that he got well rewarded for his
trouble in picking it up."

The Chateaugay stood due south till six o'clock at little more than half
speed, and when she came about her dead reckoning indicated that she was
seventy-five miles to the south-west of Gibbs Hill light. The weather
was very favorable for the proposed enterprise, with a moderate breeze
from the west. Mr. Gilfleur did not wish to leave the ship till after
midnight, for all he desired was to get inside the outer reefs before
daylight. The speed of the ship was regulated to carry out this idea.

The light so frequently mentioned in the conference is three hundred and
sixty-two feet above the sea level, for it is built on the highest point
of land in the south of the Bermudas, and could be seen at a distance of
thirty miles. At three bells in the first watch the light was reported
by the lookout, and the speed was reduced somewhat.

About this time the detective came out of his stateroom, and entered
that of Christy. He had smeared his face with a brownish tint, which
made him look as though he had been long exposed to the sun of the
tropics. He was dressed in a suit of coarse material, though it was not
the garb of a sailor. He had used the scissors on his long black
mustache, and given it a snarly and unkempt appearance. Christy would
not have known him if he had met him on shore.

"You look like another man," said he, laughing.

"A French detective has to learn the art of disguising himself; in fact,
he has to be an actor. Perhaps you will not be willing to believe it,
but I have played small parts at the Théâtre Français for over a year,
more to learn the actor's art of making himself up than because I had
any histrionic aspirations. I have worked up a case in the capacity of
an old man of eighty years of age," the detective explained. "When I
recovered the property of your father, stolen at Havre, I played the
part of a dandy, and won the confidence of the stewardess, though I came
very near having to fight a duel with the _voleur_ who was her 'pal' in
the robbery."

"Of course it will not do for me to wear my lieutenant's uniform,"
suggested Christy.

"Not unless you wish to have your head broken by the crews of the
blockade-runners you will find at St. George's," replied the Frenchman
significantly.

"I have some old clothes in my valise," added the lieutenant.

"I don't like the idea of putting you in a humiliating position, Mr.
Passford, but I have not told you all my plans."

"I will take any position you assign to me, for I am now to be a
volunteer in your service."

"I intend to represent myself as a French gentleman of wealth, who has
passed the winter in the Bahama Islands in search of health, and found
it in abundance," said Mr. Gilfleur, with a pleasant smile on his face,
as though he really enjoyed the business in which he was at present
engaged.

"Have you ever been in the Bahamas?" asked Christy.

"All through them, including Nassau. If I had not, I should not have
brought that boat with me. I made a trip in an English steamer from the
Bermudas, which had occasion to visit nearly all the islands; and I
passed about two months of my stay in this region on that cruise,"
replied the detective.

"But how far is it from the Bermudas to the nearest point in the
Bahamas? Will people believe that we came even from the Great Abaco in
an open boat?" inquired Christy. "What is the distance?"

"I estimate it at about seven hundred and fifty miles. That is nothing
for a boat like mine, though I should not care to undertake it in the
hurricane season," replied Mr. Gilfleur. "By the way, we must borrow
some charts of this region from the captain, though only to keep up
appearances."

"You have not told me in what character I am to be your companion,"
suggested Christy.

"As my servant, if you do not rebel at the humiliation of such a
position, though I promise to treat you very kindly, and with all proper
consideration," laughed the Frenchman.

"I have not the slightest objection to the character; and I will
endeavor to discharge my duties with humility and deference," responded
the lieutenant in the same vein.

"Now let me see what sort of a suit you have for your part," added the
detective.

Christy took from his valise a suit he had worn as a subordinate officer
when he was engaged in the capture of the Teaser. It was approved by his
companion, and he dressed himself in this garb.

"But you have been bleached out by your long stay at Bonnydale, and your
complexion needs a little improvement," said Mr. Gilfleur, as he went to
his room for his tints.

On his return he gave to the face of the officer the same sun-browned
hue he had imparted to his own. While he was so employed, he explained
that the tint was a fast color under ordinary circumstances, and in what
manner it could be easily removed, though it would wear off in about a
week.

"Now, you need only a little touching up," continued the detective, when
he had completed the dyeing process. "You will be amazed at the change
produced in the expression of a person by a few touches of paint
skilfully applied," and he proceeded to make the alteration proposed.

When he had finished his work, Christy looked in the glass, and declared
that he should hardly know himself. The preparations were completed, and
the French gentleman and his servant were ready to embark. But it was
only eleven o'clock, and both of them turned in for a nap of a couple of
hours. The captain had retired early in the evening, and the
quartermaster conning the wheel was steering for the light, the
Chateaugay making not more than six knots an hour.

At one o'clock the commander was called, in accordance with his order to
the officer of the watch. He went on deck at once, had the log slate
brought to him, and made some calculations, which resulted in an order
to ring two bells, which meant "Stop her." Then he went to the ward room
himself, and knocked at the doors of his two passengers. Mr. Gilfleur
and Christy sprang from their berths, and the two doors were opened at
once. No toilet was necessary, for both of them had lain down with their
clothes on.

"Pray, who might you be?" demanded the captain, laughing heartily when
the detective showed himself in his new visage and dress. "Can you
inform me what has become of Mr. Gilfleur?"

"He has stepped out for a couple of days, and Monsieur Rubempré has
taken his place," replied the detective.

"And who is this gentleman?" asked Captain Chantor, turning to his other
passenger, who was quite as much changed in appearance.

"Contrary to his usual custom, he does not claim to be a gentleman just
now. This is Christophe, my servant, employed as such only for a couple
of days," answered Monsieur Rubempré.

"All right, Mr. Rubumper! Three bells have just been struck, and the
watch are putting your boat into the water," continued the commander.
"I have directed the steward to fill your breaker with water, and put a
small supply of provisions into the craft. We shall be ready for you in
about half an hour."

"We are all ready at this moment," replied Monsieur Rubempré; for both
of the passengers had agreed to call each other by their assumed names
at once, so as to get accustomed to them, and thus avoid committing
themselves in any moment of excitement.

The detective came out of his room with a valise in his hand, which he
had packed with extreme care, so that nothing should be found in it, in
case of accident, to compromise him. He had superintended the placing of
Christy's clothing in one of his valises. He objected to the initials,
"C. P.," worked on his linen; but the owner had no other, and the
difficulty was compromised by writing the name of "Christophe Poireau"
on a number of pieces of paper and cards, and attaching a tag with this
name upon it to the handle.

Both of them put on plain overcoats, and went on deck, where the boat,
which had the name of Eleuthera painted on the stern, had already been
committed to the waves.



CHAPTER IX

THE FRENCHMAN IN BERMUDA


"Bon voyage, Mr. Rubumper," said Captain Chanter, as the Frenchman was
about to descend the accommodation ladder. "I know French enough to say
that."

"Thank you, Captain."

"I hope you will make a success of the enterprise, Mr. Passford," the
commander added to the other member of the expedition.

"I shall do the best I can to make it so," answered Christy, as he
followed his companion down the accommodation ladder.

The detective shoved the boat off, and both of the voyagers took the
oars to get the craft clear of the ship, which was accomplished in a few
minutes. Then the Frenchman stepped the mast, which had been carefully
adjusted on board of the ship, while Christy rigged out the shifting
bowsprit. In half an hour they had placed the spars and bent on the
sail, for everything had been prepared for expeditious work. The sails
filled, and the skipper took his place at the long tiller.

"We are all right now, Christophe," said the detective.

"I should say that we were, Monsieur Rubempré," replied the acting
servant. "We have ten miles to make: with this breeze, how long will it
take for this boat to do it?"

"If she sails as well as mine did, she will make it in two hours."

The craft was about twenty feet long, and was sharp at both ends. She
had a cuddy forward, which was large enough to accommodate both of her
crew in a reclining posture. It had been furnished with a couple of
berthsacks, and with several blankets. The provisions and water had been
placed in it, as well as a couple of lanterns, ready for use if occasion
should require.

It was a summer sea in this latitude, with a very steady breeze from the
westward. The overcoats they wore were hardly necessary, and they had
put them on mainly to conceal their changed garments from the crew of
the ship, who could only conjecture what the expedition meant.

"You are a younger man than I am, Christophe, and you have slept only a
couple of hours to-night," said M. Rubempré, as soon as the Eleuthera
was well under way; and the remark was called forth by a long gape on
the part of the younger person. "You can turn in and sleep a couple of
hours more just as well as not, for there is nothing whatever for you to
do. We may have to make a long day of it to-morrow."

"I am accustomed to doing without my sleep at times," replied
Christophe, which was his first name, according to the French
orthography, and was pronounced in two syllables.

"Of course you have, when your duty required you to be on deck; but
there is not the least need of doing so now."

The lieutenant complied with the advice of the skipper, and in five
minutes more he was sound asleep. The Bahama boat, with a Bahama name,
rose and fell on the long rolling seas, which were very gentle in their
motion, and made very good progress through the water. The light could
be plainly seen in its lofty position, and the detective steered for it
over an hour, and then kept it a little on the starboard hand; for the
opening in the outer reef through which he intended to pass was two
miles to the westward of the high tower. He had correctly estimated the
speed of the boat, for the faint light of the dawn of day began to
appear in the east when he was able clearly to discern the outline of
the hills on the most southern of the islands.

Although it was still quite dark, the Frenchman continued on his course
very confidently. The reefs extended out two miles from the main shore;
but the navigator was so familiar with the locality that they did not
trouble him. Bearing about north-west from the light was Wreck Hill, one
hundred and fifty feet high, which assisted him in keeping his course.
As he approached the mainland he made out the fort, and steering
directly for it, passed safely through Hogfish Cut.

When he was within half a mile of this fort, he headed the boat to the
north-west. It was still eighteen miles to Hamilton, the capital of the
islands; but he had a fair wind, and the boat made about five miles an
hour. Christy still slept, and the skipper did not wake him. It was
daylight when he was abreast of Wreck Hill, and there was no further
difficulty in the navigation. It was half-past eight when he ran up to
a pier where he had kept his boat in former days. There were plenty of
just such crafts as the Eleuthera, and no attention was paid to her as
she passed along the Front-street docks. The pier at which he made his
landing was in a retired locality. He lowered the sails, and had made
everything snug on board before he called his companion.

"Half-past eight, Christophe," said he at the door of the cuddy.

"Half-past eight!" exclaimed Christy, springing out of his berth on the
floor. "Where are we now, M. Rubempré?"

"We are in Hamilton harbor; and if you will come out of the cuddy, you
will find yourself in the midst of flowers and green trees," replied the
skipper with a smile.

"I must have slept six hours," said Christy, rubbing his eyes as he
crawled out of the cuddy.

The scenery around him was certainly very beautiful, and he gazed upon
it in silence for a few minutes. It seemed to him just as though he had
waked in fairyland. He had cruised in the vicinity of the islands, but
he had never been very near the shore before. Though he had been in
Alabama, and seen the shores of the Gulf States, he had never beheld any
region that seemed so lovely to him. He had been on shore at Nassau, but
only on the wharves, and had hardly seen the beauties of the island.

"Why didn't you call me before, M. Rubempré?" asked he, when he had
taken in the view from the pier.

"Because I thought your sleep would do you more good than the view of
the shore, which you will have plenty of opportunities to see before we
leave," replied the detective. "But we must begin our work, for we have
no time to lose. I arranged with Captain Chantor to pick us up to-morrow
night at about the point where we embarked in the boat. In the mean time
he will sail around the islands, though the Chateaugay will not come
near enough to be seen from the shore."

"What will you do with the boat while we are absent?"

"Leave it where it is."

While they were talking, an old negro came down the pier, and very
politely saluted the strangers. He appeared to come from a small house a
short distance from the shore, and passed along to a boat which lay near
the Eleuthera.

"Is that your boat?" asked the detective, calling him back.

"Yes, sir; I am a fisherman, though I've got the rheumatism, and don't
go out much; but I have to go to-day, for we have nothing to eat in the
house," replied the negro, whose language was very good.

"What is your name?"

"Joseph, sir."

"Do you speak French?"

"Oh, no, sir!" exclaimed Joseph. "I don't speak anything but plain
English; but I used to work sometimes for a French gentleman that kept a
boat at this pier, six or seven years ago."

"What was his came?" asked the detective, who had had a suspicion from
the first that he knew the man, though he had changed a great deal as he
grew older.

"Mounseer Gillflower," replied Joseph; "and he was very kind to me."

"I am a Frenchman, Joseph; and, if you don't want to go fishing, I will
employ you to take care of my boat, and carry my valise to a hotel,"
continued the detective, as he handed an English sovereign to him, for
he had taken care to provide himself with a store of them in New York.

"Thank you, sir; but I can't change this piece," protested Joseph very
sadly.

"I don't want you to change it; keep the whole of it."

"God bless you forever and ever, Mounseer!" exclaimed the fisherman.
"I haven't had a sovereign before since Mounseer Gillflower was here.
I am a very poor man, and I can't get any work on shore."

Probably, like the rest of his class, he was not inclined to work while
he had any money. He promised to take good care of the Eleuthera, and he
asked no troublesome questions. The detective gave his name, and ordered
Christophe, calling him by his name, to bring the valises on shore. Then
the Frenchman locked the door of the cuddy, for they left their
overcoats there, as they had no use for them.

"To what hotel shall I carry the valises?" asked Joseph.

"To the Atlantic; that will be the most convenient for us. Do you know
anything about these vessels in the harbor, Joseph?"

"Not much, Mounseer Roobump; but they say the two steamers near the
island are going to run the blockade into the States; but I don't know.
They say a Confederate man-of-war came into St. George's harbor
yesterday; but I haven't seen her, and I don't know whether it's true or
not."

"What is her name?" asked the detective, who from the beginning had
broken up his English, and imparted a strong French accent to it.

"I did not hear any one mention her name, Mounseer. That vessel this
side of the island is the mail steamer from New York; she got in
yesterday," continued Joseph.

"That is important; if the Dornoch is the Confederate man-of-war that
arrived at St. George's yesterday, this steamer brought letters from
Davis to her captain," said the Frenchman to Christy, in French.

"But Davis could not have learned that the Ionian had been captured
before the mail steamer left New York," added Christy, in the same
language.

"No matter for that, Christophe. I did not resign my place at Davis's
warehouse till the morning we sailed; and I have his letter to the
captain of the Dornoch with my other papers on board of the Chateaugay,
and I know that was the only letter written to him. As he has no
information in regard to the Ionian, he will not wait for her."

"I remember; you showed me the letter."

Joseph listened with a show of wonder on his face to this conversation
which he could not understand. The detective directed him to carry the
two valises to the hotel named; but Christy interposed in French, and
insisted that it would look better for him to carry his own valise, and
the point was yielded. The Atlantic Hotel was on Front Street, the
harbor being on one side of it. A couple of rooms were assigned to them,
one of them quite small, which was taken by Christy, in order to keep up
appearances.

M. Rubempré registered his name, putting "and servant" after it, Paris,
and spoke even worse English than he had used to Joseph. Breakfast had
been ordered, but Christy, being only a servant, had to take his meal at
a side table. The detective was not dressed like a gentleman, and the
landlord seemed to have some doubts about his ability to pay his bills,
though he had baggage. He was not treated with anything like deference,
and he saw the difficulty. After breakfast he took a handful of English
gold from his pocket, and asked the landlord to change one of the coins
for smaller money. Mine host bowed low to him after this exhibition.

"I want to see the American consul," said M. Rubempré, in his own
language.

"I will go with you, but I think I will not see him, for he may take it
into his head that I am not a Frenchman," added Christy.

"You can come with me, and stay outside."

When they reached the consulate, which was on the same street as the
hotel, they found about a dozen sailors in front of the building. They
were a very rough and hard-looking set of men. They appeared to be
considerably excited about something, and to be bent on violence in some
direction; but the strangers could make nothing of the talk they heard,
though "the bloody spy" was an expression frequently used.



CHAPTER X

IMPORTANT INFORMATION OBTAINED


Christy walked behind the detective in his capacity as servant. It was
soon evident to them that the ruffians gathered in the street meant
mischief. On the staff over their heads floated the flag of the United
States. Though Mr. Gilfleur was an alien, his companion was not. Of
course he knew that the islands were the resort of blockade-runners,
that they obtained their supplies from the two towns of Hamilton and St.
George's. This fact seemed to explain the occasion of the disturbance in
this particular locality.

"What does all this mean, Christophe?" asked M. Rubempré, falling back
to join Christy at the door of the consulate.

"I should judge that these ruffians intended to do violence to the
American consul," replied Christy. "I heard in New York that he was
faithful in the discharge of his duty to his government, and doubtless
he has excited the indignation of these ruffians by his fidelity. His
principal business is to follow up the enforcement of the neutrality
laws, which compels him to watch these blockade-runners, and vessels of
war intended for the Confederate States."

"That was my own conclusion," added the Frenchman, speaking his own
language, as usual. "I should say that his position is not a pleasant
one."

"Here comes the bloody spy!" shouted several of the ruffians.

Looking down the street, they saw a dignified-looking gentleman
approaching, whom they supposed to be the consul, Mr. Alwayn. He did not
seem to be alarmed at the demonstration in front of his office. The
disturbers of the peace fell back as he advanced, and he reached the
door where the detective and his companion were standing without being
attacked. The mob, now considerably increased in numbers, though
probably more than a majority, as usual, were merely spectators, hooted
violently at the representative of the United States.

The gentleman reached the door of his office, and by this time the
ruffians seemed to realize that simple hooting did no harm, and they
rushed forward with more serious intentions. One of them laid violent
hands on the consul, seizing him by the back of his coat collar, and
attempting to pull him over backwards. Christy felt that he was under
the flag of his country, and his blood boiled with indignation; and,
rash as was the act, he planted a heavy blow with his fist under the ear
of the assailant, which sent him reeling back among his companions.

"No revolvers, Christophe!" said the detective earnestly, as he placed
himself by the side of the young man.

Christy's revolver was in his hip-pocket, where he usually carried it,
and the detective feared he might use it, for both of them could hardly
withstand the pressure upon them; and the firing of a single shot would
have roused the passions of the mob, and led to no little bloodshed.
M. Rubempré was entirely cool and self-possessed, which could hardly be
said of the young naval officer.

  [Illustration:
  "He planted a heavy blow with his fist under the ear of his
  assailant." Page 116.]

By this time Mr. Alwayn had opened the front door of the office, and
gone in. The detective backed in after him, and then pushed Christy in
after the consul. The ruffians saw that they were losing their game, and
they rushed upon the door. One of them crowded his way in, but M.
Rubempré, in a very quiet way, delivered a blow on the end of the
assailant's nose, which caused him to retreat, with the red fluid
spurting from the injured member.

Taking his place, two others pushed forward, and aimed various blows at
the two defenders of the position; but both of them were skilled in this
sort of play, and warded off the strokes, delivering telling blows in
the faces of the enemy. Mr. Alwayn had partially closed the door; but he
was not so cowardly as to shut out his two volunteer defenders. As soon
as they understood his object, they backed in at the door, dispersing
the ruffians with well-directed blows, and the consul closed and locked
the door. Before any further mischief could be done, the police came and
dispersed the rioters. The consul fared better on this occasion than on
several others, in one of which he was quite seriously injured.

As soon as order was restored, Mr. Alwayn conducted his defenders to his
office, where he thanked them heartily for the service they had rendered
him. During the _mélee_ M. Rubempré had tried to address the ruffians in
broken French, for he did not for a moment forget his assumed character.
He used the same "pigeon-talk" to the consul, and Christy, in the little
he said, adopted the same dialect.

"I see you are not Americans, my friends," said the official.

"No, saire; we are some Frenchmen," replied the detective, spreading out
his two hands in a French gesture, and bowing very politely.

"Being Frenchmen, I am not a little surprised that you should have
undertaken to defend me from this assault," added Mr. Alwayn.

"Ze Frenchman like, wat was this you call him, ze fair play; and ve
could not prevent to put some fingers in tose pies. Ver glad you was not
have the head broke," replied M. Rubempré, with another native flourish.
"_Mais_, wat for de _canaille_ make ze war on you, saire? You was
certainment un gentleman ver respectable."

Mr. Alwayn explained why he had incurred the hostility of the
blockade-runners and their adherents, for he was sometimes compelled to
protest against what he regarded as breaches of neutrality, and was
obliged in the discharge of his duty to look after these people very
closely, so that he was regarded as a spy.

"Oh! it was ze blockheads, was it?" exclaimed the Frenchman.

"Hardly the blockheads," replied the consul, laughing at the blunder of
the foreigner. "It is the blockade-runners that make the trouble."

"Blockade-runners! _Merci._ Was there much blockadeers here in ze
islands?" asked M. Rubempré, as though he was in total ignorance of the
entire business of breaking the blockade.

"Thousands of them come here, for this is about the nearest neutral port
to Wilmington, where many of this sort of craft run in."

"Wilmington was in Delaware, where I have seen him on ze map."

"No, sir; this Wilmington is in North Carolina. If you look out on the
waters of the harbor, half the vessels you see there are
blockade-runners," added the consul. "And there are more of them at St.
George's. It was only yesterday that a steamer I believe to be intended
for a man-of-war for the Confederacy came into the port of St. George's,
and I have been much occupied with her affairs, which is probably the
reason for this attempt to assault me."

"Ze _man_-of-war," repeated the Frenchman. "Ze war, _c'est la guerre_;
_mais_ wat was ze man?"

"She is a vessel used for war purposes."

"_She!_ She is a woman; and I think that steamer was a woman-of-war."

The consul laughed heartily, but insisted upon the feminine designation
of the steamer.

"What you call ze name of ze man-of-war?" asked M. Rubempré, putting on
a very puzzled expression of countenance.

"The Dornoch," replied Mr. Alwayn.

"The D'Ornoch," added the detective. "How you write him--like zis?" and
he wrote it on a piece of paper by his own method.

"Not exactly," replied the consul, writing it as given in English.

"How long ze Dornoch will she stop in zat port?" asked the Frenchman,
in a very indifferent tone, as though the answer was not of the least
consequence to him.

"Not long; I heard it stated in St. George's that she would get her
supplies and cargo on board to-day and to-morrow, and will sail before
dark to-morrow night," replied Mr. Alwayn. "The government here ought
not to allow her to remain even as long as that, for she is plainly
intended for a Confederate cruiser, and my men inform me that she has
six great guns, and fifty men."

M. Rubempré obtained all the information the consul was able to give
him, and much of it was of great importance. The official was under
obligations to the two strangers, and he seemed not to suspect that
either of them was an American, much less a naval officer. They took
their leave of him in the politest manner possible, and were shown to
the door by the consul.

"I am not quite sure that all his information is correct, and we must
investigate for ourselves," said the detective when they were in the
street. "But this affray is bad for us, and I was very sorry when you
interfered, Christophe."

"You did not expect to see me fold my arms when a representative of the
United States, and under our flag, was attacked by a lot of ruffians?"
demanded Christy, rather warmly, though he spoke in French.

"I know you could not help it, and I did my best to aid you," added M.
Rubempré. "I only mean that it was unfortunate for us, for when we go
about on the islands, we may be recognized by some of that mob. We must
go back to the hotel."

In a few minutes more they were at the Atlantic, where the Frenchman,
with his usual flourish, ordered a carriage to be ready in half an hour,
adding that he was about to dress for some visits he was to make in St.
George's. They went to their rooms, and each of them changed his dress,
coming out in black suits. The master wore a frock coat, but the servant
was dressed in a "claw-hammer," and looked like a first-class waiter.

It is about a two hours' ride over to St. George's, and Christy enjoyed
the excursion as much as though there had not been a blockade-runner in
the world. The town, with even its principal street not more than ten
feet wide, reminded him of some of the quaint old cities of Europe he
had visited with his father a few years before. But M. Rubempré was bent
on business, and the delightful scenery was an old story to him. They
took a boat at a pier, and for an hour a negro pulled them about the
harbor. There were quite a number of steamers in the port, long, low,
and rakish craft, built expressly for speed, and some of them must have
been knocked to pieces by the blockaders before the lapse of many weeks,
though a considerable proportion of them succeeded in delivering their
cargoes at Wilmington or other places.

The visitors looked them over with the greatest interest. They even went
on board of a couple of them, the detective pretending that he was
looking for a passage to some port in the South from which he could
reach Mobile, where his brother was in the Confederate army. No one
could doubt that he was a Frenchman, and on one of them the captain
spoke French, though very badly. M. Rubempré's good clothes secured the
respect and confidence of those he encountered, and most of the officers
freely told him where they were bound, and talked with great gusto of
the business in which they were engaged. But none of them could
guarantee him a safe passage to any port on the blockaded coast.

The excursion in the boat was continued, for the visitors had not yet
seen the steamer they were the most anxious to examine. The detective
would not inquire about this steamer, fearful that it might be reported
by the negro at the oars, and excite suspicion. But at last, near the
entrance to the harbor, the boatman pointed out the Dornoch, and told
them all he knew about her. There were several lighters alongside,
discharging coal and other cargo into her.

M. Rubempré, in his broken English, asked permission to go on deck, and
it was promptly accorded to him. He was very polite to the officers, and
they treated him with proper consideration. There were no guns in sight,
and the steamer looked like a merchantman; but if she had been searched,
her armament would have been found in the hold. The visitor again
repeated his desire to obtain a passage to the South; and this request
seemed to satisfy the first officer with whom he talked. He was informed
that the steamer would sail about five on the afternoon of the next day,
and he must be on board at that time, if he wished to go in the vessel.
He learned many particulars in regard to her.



CHAPTER XI

AN UNEXPECTED RENCONTRE


It was lunch-time when the visitors landed, and they proceeded to the
St. George's Hotel in Market Square, to attend to this mid-day duty. In
the coffee-room they found quite a number of guests, and the only spare
seat the detective found was at a large table at which a gentleman in
uniform was seated.

"Wit your permis-si-on, I take one of the places here," said M. Rubempré
with his politest flourish.

"Certainly," replied the gentleman, as politely as the Frenchman; and he
seated himself at the table, Christy remaining standing.

"_Demandez un garcon_" (ask for a waiter), "Christophe." Then in French
he asked the stranger opposite him if he spoke that language.

"A little, sir; but I am not fluent in it," replied the gentleman in the
same language.

"Ah, my dear sir, you speak very well; and you have the Parisian
accent," added the Frenchman, who, like his countrymen, counted upon the
effect of a little well-administered flattery.

"You are very kind to say so, sir. I have been in Paris a few months,
and was always able to make my way with the language," said the
stranger, evidently pleased with the commendation bestowed upon his
French accent; for many people take more pride in their foreign accent
than in the proper use of their own language.

"Christophe, find a place for yourself, and order what you desire,"
continued the Frenchman, as a waiter, summoned by the acting servant,
presented himself to take the order.

At this moment a gentleman behind the detective vacated his place at the
table, and Christy took a seat close to his companion. The lunch of both
was ordered, and the stranger opposite had but just commenced his meal.
M. Rubempré "laid himself out" to make himself as agreeable as possible,
and he seemed to be succeeding admirably, for the stranger appeared to
be absolutely charmed with him. Speaking slowly and clearly, so that the
person in uniform, who did not speak French fluently, could understand
him, he told him all about his brother in the Confederate army, and
strongly expressed his desire to join him, and perhaps the army, for he
had very strong sympathy for the right in the great conflict; in fact,
he was disposed to engage in fighting for the right.

Then he inquired of his new friend what wine was the best in the island.
The stranger preferred sherry, but perhaps a Frenchman might take a
different view of the subject. M. Rubempré ordered both sherry and
claret, and then filled the glasses of his _vis-a-vis_ and his own. He
did not offer any to his servant, for he knew that he never touched it.
They drank claret first to each other's health.

"You are in the military, my friend?" continued the detective.

"No, sir; I am a sailor. Allow me to introduce myself as Captain
Rombold, of the steamer Dornoch."

"I am extremely happy to make your acquaintance, Captain Rombold. To
reciprocate, I am M. Rubempré, of Paris," added the Frenchman, as he
filled his companion's glass, and they tippled again with an abundance
of compliments. "I presume that you are in the British navy, Captain
Rombold?"

"At present I am not, though I was formerly in that service, and
resigned to engage in a more lucrative occupation."

"Indeed, what could be better than the position of an officer in the
Royal navy?"

"I am now a commander in the navy of the Confederate States," added the
captain, looking with interest into the face of his companion. "I am
taking in coal and cargo, and shall sail at five to-morrow afternoon for
Wilmington."

"Is it possible?" said M. Rubempré, who appeared to be greatly impressed
by what was said to him. "I wish I was a sailor, but I am not. You will
break through the blockade?"

"I apprehend no difficulty in doing that, for the Dornoch is good for
fourteen knots an hour, and most of the Federal fleet cannot make more
than twelve."

Christy was very glad to hear this acknowledgment of the speed of the
intended cruiser, for it assured him that the Chateaugay could outsail
her. The two gentlemen at the other table passed the wine very freely,
and both of them seemed to be considerably exhilarated; but he was glad
to perceive that his friend allowed the captain to do the most of the
talking. The lunch was finished at last, and both of them rose from the
table.

"I am exceedingly obliged to you, M. Rubempré, for the pleasure I have
derived from this interview," said Captain Rombold, as he grasped the
hand of his companion. "I have had more practice with my French than for
several years, and I take great delight in speaking the language. I hope
we shall meet again."

"Thanks! Thanks! I am very sure that we shall meet again; and almost as
sure that we shall meet fighting for the right," added the Frenchman.

"But I hope you will be a passenger on board of the Dornoch, as you
suggested to me a little while ago. I will give you a good stateroom,
though I cannot absolutely promise to take you to the port of our
destination, for accidents may happen in the midst of the blockaders."

"If I can go with you, my dear Captain Rombold, I shall be on board of
your ship by four to-morrow afternoon," replied the detective, as he
took the hand of his new friend for the last time.

Christy had finished his lunch, and they left the hotel together. The
carriage in which they had come called for them at the appointed time,
and they returned to Hamilton. The conversation was continued in French,
so that the driver was none the wiser for what he heard. At the Atlantic
they went to their rooms, where the information they had obtained was
collaborated, and written down in French, the detective concealing it in
a belt pocket he wore on his body.

"The wonder to me has been that these officers talked so freely," said
Christy, as they seated themselves at a window. "They talked to you as
plainly as though you had been their friend for life."

"Why shouldn't they? They can't help knowing that I am a Frenchman; and
I am sorry to say that my countrymen, like so many of the English,
sympathize with the South in the great Civil War. They take me for a
friend at once. Besides, as they understand the matter here, why should
these blockade-runners, or even the Confederate commander, object to
telling what they are going to do. There will be no mail steamer to New
York till after they have all gone off; and there is no telegraph yet."

"Perhaps you are right, M. Rubempré; but I think a good deal more
discretion would become them better, as they are likely to ascertain
very soon," added Christy.

"I suppose none of these people here would consider it possible or
practicable to land at these islands and pick up the news, as we have
done. This was my plan for Nassau, but I did not think of applying it to
the Bermudas, till Captain Chantor told me his difficulty as to waiting
for the Dornoch."

"It seems to me we have done all we can do here, and there is nothing
more to do."

"That is very true; but I supposed it would take at least two days to do
our business. We have been much more successful than I anticipated, and
performed the duty in half the time I supposed it would require. But it
was better to have too much time than too little."

"It is nearly night now, and we have another day to spend here."

"We can rest from our labors in the hope that our works will follow us.
I am ready to do a good deal of sleeping in the time that remains to us,
for we may not be able to sleep any to-morrow night," added the
detective as he threw himself on his bed, and was soon fast asleep.

Christy had slept enough the night before and during the morning; and he
went out to take a walk in the town. He had taken off his suit of black,
and put on the costume he had worn from the ship. He was inclined to see
what there was in the town; and he walked about till it was dark, at
which time he found himself in the vicinity of the Hamilton Hotel, the
largest and best appointed in the town. He was dressed very plainly, but
there was nothing shabby in his appearance; and he thought he would
inspect the interior of the hotel.

He began to mount the piazza, when he suddenly halted, and started back
with astonishment, and his hair almost stood on end. Directly in front
of him, and not ten feet distant, sat his uncle, Homer Passford, of
Glenfield, talking with a gentleman in uniform. The lantern that hung
near him enabled him to see the features of the planter, but he could
not see the face of the officer, with whom he was engaged in a very
earnest conversation.

Christy's first impulse was to put a long distance between himself and
his uncle, for his father's brother might identify him in spite of the
color on his face. Such a discovery was likely to prove very annoying to
him, and might render useless the information the detective and himself
had obtained with so much trouble and risk. But the first question that
came into his head was the inquiry as to what his uncle was doing in
Bermuda. He was a Confederate of the most positive type, had done
everything in his power for his government, as he understood it, and was
willing to sacrifice his life and all that he had in the world in its
service.

Colonel Passford must be there on some mission. He was a prominent and
useful man in his State; and he would not have left it without some very
strong motive. The nephew would have given a great deal, and exposed
himself to no little peril, to be able to fathom this motive. He moved
away from the piazza, and went upon it at another place. If he could
hear some of the conversation he might be able to form some idea of the
occasion of his uncle's visit.

Walking along the platform, he obtained a position behind Colonel
Passford, and at the same time saw the face of the person with whom he
was in conversation. He was not a little surprised to discover that the
gentleman was Captain Rombold, commander of the Dornoch. He had hardly
seen this officer, and he had no fear that he would recognize him; and,
if he did, it was of little consequence, for he was there in the
capacity of a servant. He took a vacant chair, turned his back to both
of the speakers, and opened wide his ears. Probably nine-tenths of the
people in the hotel were directly or indirectly concerned in the
business of blockade-running; and secrecy was hardly necessary in that
locality.

"As I say, Captain Rombold, we need more fast steamers, not to run the
blockade, but to prey upon the enemy's commerce. In that way we can
bring the people of the North to their senses, and put this unhallowed
strife on the part of the Federals to an end," said Colonel Passford.

"Well, Colonel, there are ships enough to be had on the other side of
the Atlantic, and your money or your cotton will buy them," added the
naval officer.

"We have been rather unfortunate in running cotton out this last year.
Several steamers and sailing vessels that I fitted out with cotton
myself were captured by my own nephew, who was in command of a small
steamer called the Bronx."

"Of course those things could not be helped," replied Captain Rombold;
"but with the Gateshead and the Kilmarnock, larger and more powerful
steamers than any that have been sent over, you can scour the ocean.
They are ready for you when your money is ready."

"It is ready now, for I have sacrificed my entire fortune for the
purchase of these steamers; and I wait only for a vessel that will take
me to Scotland," replied Colonel Passford.

Christy promptly decided that the steamers mentioned should not be
purchased to prey on the commerce of the United States, if he could
possibly prevent it.



CHAPTER XII

AN IMPRACTICABLE SCHEME


Before the War of the Rebellion the commerce of the United States
exceeded that of any other nation on the globe. The Confederate
steamers, the Sumter, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and other cruisers,
swept our ships from the ocean, and the country has never regained its
commercial prestige. Christy Passford listened with intense interest to
the conversation between his uncle and the commander of the Dornoch, and
he came to the conclusion that the latter was a naval officer of no
ordinary ability. He evidently believed that the six-gun steamer in his
charge was a command not worthy of his talent.

The Sumter, and some other vessels fitted out as privateers or war
vessels, had already done a great deal of mischief to the shipping of
the Northern States, and the young man fully realized the meaning of his
uncle's intentions. Colonel Passford had been supplied with money by his
government, with what he had raised himself, to purchase larger and more
powerful steamers than had yet been obtained, and Captain Rombold
appeared to be his confidant, with whom he must have been in
communication for a considerable length of time.

Colonel Passford was going to England and Scotland to purchase the
steamers mentioned and recommended as the kind required by his present
companion. Christy could think of no manner in which he could serve his
country so effectually as by preventing, or even delaying, the adding of
these vessels to the navy of the South. But it was a tremendous
undertaking for a young man. His uncle had certainly been very
indiscreet in talking out loud about his plans; but it could hardly have
been supposed that any loyal ears were near enough to hear them, for
even the American consul was not safe in the islands.

Christy had doubled himself up in his chair, and pretended to be asleep,
so that no notice was taken of him by the two gentlemen in conversation.
He continued to listen till he heard a clock strike nine; but he
obtained no further information, except in relation to the details of
the colonel's plans. He was in great haste to get to England to purchase
the vessels, and he had the drafts about him for the purpose. It was a
vast sum, for the prices of desirable steamers had largely advanced
under the demand for them for running the blockade.

"The easiest and quickest way for you to get to Liverpool or Glasgow is
to go to New York, and there take a steamer to either of these ports,"
suggested Captain Rombold.

"I dare not go to New York, for I should certainly be recognized there.
My only brother is one of the most prominent agents of the Yankee
government, and every passenger from Bermuda and Nassau is watched and
dogged by detectives. It would not be prudent for me to go New York, for
some pretext to rob me of the drafts I carry would be found," replied
Homer Passford.

"There may be a steamer from Bermuda in a week or a month, for there is
no regular line," added the naval officer.

"But there are regular lines from Havana, Mexico, Jamaica, and the
Windward Islands," suggested the agent of the Confederate government.

"Very true, and it is not necessary that I should make a port in the
Confederate States before I begin my work on the ocean," said Captain
Rombold. "I have my commission from your government, with full powers to
act, though I desired to make a port in the South, for, as you are
aware, my wife is a native of Georgia, and is at her father's plantation
at the present time. I captured two Yankee vessels off the Azores, and
burned them."

"I have no doubt about your powers; but can you not aid me in getting to
England?" persisted the colonel.

"If you will take the chances, I can, Colonel Passford. If you will go
on board of my ship to-morrow afternoon, and sail with me, I have no
doubt we shall overhaul a steamer bound to England in the course of a
week, for I will get into the track of these vessels."

The agent promptly accepted this proposition, and soon after the
conference ended, though not till the listener had taken himself out of
the way, Christy had turned over in his mind a plan to terminate very
suddenly his uncle's mission to purchase steamers, and to obtain
possession of his drafts. M. Rubempré was adroit enough to accomplish
almost anything, and he intended to have the detective make the
colonel's acquaintance, and induce him to embark with them in the
Eleuthera, pretending that he was going to France himself, and intended
to intercept a French steamer from Progreso, whose course lay but a
short distance south of the Bermudas.

But the plan suggested by Captain Rombold, and adopted by Colonel
Passford, saved him from what the young officer regarded as his duty in
the deception and capture of his uncle. When the Bellevite, while she
was still the yacht of Captain Horatio Passford, had gone to the
vicinity of Mobile, to the home of his father's brother, Homer had done
all in his power to capture the steamer for the use of his government,
and had made war upon her with armed vessels. He had done so
conscientiously, believing it to be his duty to his country. This fact
from the past made it easier for Christy to think of such a thing as the
capture of his uncle, even in a neutral country.

The young man returned to the Atlantic Hotel. He found M. Rubempré still
fast asleep, for his slumbers the night before had been very brief.
He waked him, and told him all that had transpired during the evening,
though not till the detective had ordered supper, which they had not
partaken of so far. He stated the plan by which he had proposed to
himself to prevent the purchase, for the present at least, of the
Gateshead and Kilmarnock.

"Not a practicable plan, Christophe," said the detective, shaking his
head vigorously.

"Why not?" demanded Christy; and he explained the conduct of his uncle
in regard to the Bellevite, when she was on a peaceful errand to convey
her owner's daughter back to her home.

Then he related the attempt of the colonel's son, his cousin Corny,
to capture the Bronx by a piece of wild strategy.

"But I do not object to your scheme on moral grounds," interposed M.
Rubempré. "Have you forgotten the affair of the Trent, when Messrs.
Mason and Slidell were taken out of an English steamer? The British
government made a tremendous tempest, and would certainly have declared
war if the two envoys had not been returned to a British ship-of-war.
The English flag waves over these islands, and they are supposed to be
neutral ground."

"Neutral with a vengeance!" exclaimed Christy.

"If Colonel Passford had been carried off in the manner you thought of,
the United States government would have been compelled to return him to
these islands, with all his drafts and other property. I am very glad
you found it unnecessary to carry out such a plot," said the detective,
as a knock at the door announced that their supper was ready.

As Christy's plan was not in order, would be inutile, the business of
the visitors at the islands was finished. Both of them slept till very
late in the morning, and after breakfast lay down again and slept all
the forenoon. The young man was afraid to go out of the hotel in the
afternoon, fearful that he might meet his uncle. But his companion
walked about the place, and visited the Hamilton, where he again
encountered Captain Rombold, who introduced him to Colonel Passford;
informing him that he was to be his fellow passenger. When the commander
of the Dornoch told him that he might not make a Confederate port for
some weeks, if at all, M. Rubempré decided not to take passage with him.
Of course nothing was said that could be of any service to the
detective, for he had already obtained the information he needed; but he
assured himself that the steamer would sail at the time stated the day
before.

Towards night the detective informed the landlord that he was to go to
St. George's in the evening, paid his bill, and liberally rewarded the
waiters. He had been over to the pier to look after the Eleuthera, and
had found Joseph at his house. The boat was all right; her keeper had
washed her out, and put everything in order on board of her. M. Rubempré
returned to the hotel, and after supper Joseph came for the valises. It
was quite dark when they left the place, and made their way to the pier.
No one asked any questions, and the detective had caused it to be
understood that he had engaged a boatman to take him to St. George's by
water.

They went on board of the boat, and the fisherman assisted them in
getting under way. The liberal skipper gave him another sovereign,
adding that he need not say anything to any person about him and his
servant. Joseph was profuse in his expressions of gratitude, for with so
much money in his pocket he need not go a-fishing again for a month or
more, and protested with all his might that he would not mention them to
anybody.

The night was dark enough to conceal the Eleuthera after she got away
from the shore, but not so dark that the skipper could not find his way
around the reefs to Hogfish Cut. It was high tide, as it had been when
they came inside of the rocks, and the boat went along quite briskly in
the fresh west wind that was still blowing. Without accident or incident
of importance, though the wind was ahead a portion of the way, the boat
reached the Cut at about midnight. She stuck on a reef at this point,
but very lightly, though it required half an hour or more to get her
off. She made no water, and did not appear to be injured.

Without further mishap the Eleuthera passed through the opening in the
reefs, and, taking the bearing of the light on Gibbs Hill, Mr. Gilfleur,
as Christy began to call him from this time, laid his course to the
south-west. The Chateaugay was not to show any lights, and there was
nothing but the compass to depend upon; but a light was necessary to
enable the skipper to see it. The lantern was used for this purpose, but
it was carefully concealed in the stern.

"We are all right now, Mr. Passford; and you may turn in for about three
hours, for I don't think we shall sight the ship in less than that
time," said the detective, as he put on his overcoat, for the night air
was rather chilly, and his companion had already done so.

"I have no occasion to turn in, for I have slept enough at that hotel to
last me for a week," replied Christy. "It looks now as though we had
made a good job of this visit to the Bermudas."

"I think there can be no doubt of that, Mr. Passford; and there is an
unpleasant surprise in store for your worthy uncle," said Mr. Gilfleur,
chuckling as he spoke.

"And perhaps for your accomplished friend Captain Rombold. We have both
heard him say that he was regularly commissioned as a commander in the
Confederate navy, and that his ship is armed with all proper authority
to capture, burn, and destroy the mercantile marine of the United
States."

"But Captain Rombold is an ex-officer of the Royal navy, and you may
depend upon it he will fight. There will be a naval battle somewhere in
the vicinity of these islands to-morrow, and Captain Chantor will find
that it will be no boy's play," added Mr. Gilfleur.

"My father told me that he was a very able officer, and had already
rendered good service, good enough to procure his rapid promotion.
I liked the looks of his officers and crew, and I have no doubt they
will give a good account of themselves."

"I hope so, for I am to be an American citizen: I have filed my first
papers."

"I doubt not you will make a good and useful citizen; and your wonderful
skill as a detective will make you very serviceable to your new
country."

The conversation was continued for full three hours longer; at the end
of which time they saw a dark body ahead on the port bow, and heard some
rather gentle screams from a steam whistle.



CHAPTER XIII

AT THE END OF THE CHASE


Mr. Gilfleur estimated that the Eleuthera was at least fifteen miles
from the light, and the whistles were not loud enough to be heard at
that distance. Neither of the voyagers had any doubt that the dark mass
ahead was the Chateaugay, and the skipper headed the boat for her. If it
were not the ship that was expecting to pick up the visitors to the
island, she would not be whistling in mid-ocean; and any other vessel
would carry a head and side lights.

In half an hour more, for the Chateaugay appeared to have stopped her
screw, the boat was within speaking distance, and the hail of Christy
was answered. When she came alongside the steamer, the accommodation
ladder was rigged out, several seamen came on board, and the voyagers
hastened to the deck of the ship. Captain Chantor grasped the hand of
the lieutenant, and then of the detective.

"I had some doubts whether or not I should ever see you again," said the
commander. "If they had discovered that one of you was a United States
naval officer, they would have mobbed you."

"As they did the American consul while we were there," added Mr.
Gilfleur.

"You will tell me of that later," replied the captain, as he directed
the officer of the watch to hoist in the boat and secure it as it had
been before. "Now, come down into my cabin, and tell me your news, if
you have seen something, even if you have not done anything," he added.

"We were not expected to capture the islands, or make any demonstration;
and we have been in only one fight," replied Christy, to whom the
commander turned as soon as they were seated at the table.

"Then you have been in a fight?" queried the captain.

"Only with the fists. We defended the United States consul when he was
hard pressed, and we got him safely into his office by the time the
police came upon the scene," continued Christy. "But we have important
information. Mr. Gilfleur will give it to you in full."

"Pardon; but I very much prefer that Mr. Passford should be the
historian of the expedition," interposed the detective.

"But my friend and companion has been the principal actor; and I am sure
I could not have done anything to obtain the information without him,"
protested the lieutenant.

"Then it is all the more proper that you should tell the story, Mr.
Passford, and spare Mr. Gilfleur's modesty," said the captain.

It was agreed that Christy should be the narrator of the results of the
expedition, and he first described the trip to Hamilton in the boat.
Then he told about the assault on the consul, and in what manner they
had defended him.

"I ought to inform you at once that the Dornoch was at St. George's
harbor, and that she was to sail yesterday afternoon at five o'clock,"
said Christy. "But she is bound to the southward, and her first mission
is to intercept an English or French steamer, and put a Confederate
commissioner, wishing to get to England, on board of her. This agent of
the South happens to be my uncle."

"The brother of Captain Passford?"

"Yes, Captain; and he is provided with funds to purchase two
vessels--steamers, to be fitted up as men-of-war."

"Then if he is your father's brother, you think, perhaps, that we ought
not to molest him," suggested the captain.

"Why, his graceless nephew even considered a scheme to entice him on
board of our boat, under pretence of finding a passage to England for
him," interposed Mr. Gilfleur, laughing heartily at the suggestion of
the commander.

"I believe in treating him like a Christian and a gentleman, for he is
both of these; but I do not believe in letting him fill up the
Confederate navy with foreign-built steamers, to ruin the commerce of my
country," replied the young officer with spirit. "My father would no
more believe in it than I do. You should treat him, Captain Chantor,
exactly as though he was nobody's brother or uncle."

The commander clapped his hands as though he was of the same opinion as
his passenger, and Christy proceeded with his narrative, describing
their visit to the Dornoch and the blockade-runners at St. George's and
Hamilton. The captain was very much amused at his interview in French
with Captain Rombold, and his conversations with officers of other
vessels they had boarded. The detective took his papers from the belt,
and read the names of the steamers, and the ports for which they were
bound.

"They were a very obliging lot of blockade-runners," said the captain,
laughing heartily at the freedom with which they had spoken.

"I don't suppose there is an American in the Bermudas at the present
time besides Mr. Alwayn, the consul," added the detective. "The
blockade-runners have the islands all to themselves, or at least the two
towns on them. They have plenty of money, and they spend it without
stint or measure. They make business good, and the inhabitants take
excellent care of them. It is no place for Americans; for everybody's
sympathy is with the South. It seems to me that there is no danger of
talking about their business anywhere in the islands."

"They were speaking all the time to a Frenchman, who had considerable
difficulty in using the English language," said Christy. "All the talk
with Captain Rombold was in French."

The narrative was finished, and discussed at great length. The order had
been given to the officer of the deck to go ahead at full speed, making
the course south-east, after the Eleuthera had been hoisted on board and
secured.

"It looks decidedly like a battle some time to-morrow," said the
commander thoughtfully.

"No doubt of it," added Christy.

"If the Dornoch sailed at five o'clock yesterday afternoon, according to
the arrangement, she must be over a hundred miles from the islands at
this moment," continued Captain Chantor thoughtfully, as he consulted
his watch. "We can only conjecture his course, and that is the important
thing for us to know. His first objective point is to intercept a
steamer bound to England or France. If he runs directly to the southward
he may miss the first one."

"If I were in his place I should run to the eastward, so as not to fall
astern of any possible steamer bound to England," added Christy.

"That was the thought that first came to my mind," replied the
commander, as he brought out a chart and spread it on the table. "For
that reason I gave out the course to the south-east."

A careful examination of the chart and an extended calculation followed.
It was agreed between the two naval officers that the Dornoch would go
to the eastward till she fell into the track of vessels bound to the
north-east from Jamaica, Cuban ports, or Mexico, and then put her head
to the south-west. It was four o'clock in the morning, the cruiser had
been out nine hours, and the captain dotted the chart where he believed
she was at that moment.

"She has made all the easting necessary, and by this time she has laid
her course about south-west," continued the commander. "Captain Rombold
will not hurry his ship, for he has no occasion to do so, and he will
naturally save his coal. If our calculations are correct, we shall see
the Dornoch about noon to-day;" and he pointed to the conjunction of the
two courses as he had drawn them on a diagram. "That is all; and we had
better turn in."

A sharp lookout was maintained during the hours of the morning watch,
for the conjectures and calculations of the captain might prove to be
all wrong. It was possible that the Dornoch had proceeded directly to
the southward, after making less easting than was anticipated. Nothing
was seen of any steamer. But in the middle of the forenoon watch a long
and rather faint streak of black was discovered in the east. The Dornoch
was not exactly a blockade-runner, and doubtless she used soft coal,
though anthracite was beginning to come into use in other than American
steamers, for its smoke was less likely to betray them.

"I think we have figured this matter out correctly, Mr. Passford," said
Captain Chantor, as they gazed at the attenuated streak of black.

"Captain Rombold is a very competent officer, and you and he seem to
have agreed in your calculations," added Christy.

The steamer to the eastward soon came in sight; she and the Chateaugay
were headed for the same point, and by noon they were in plain sight of
each other. In another hour they were within hailing distance.

"That is not the Dornoch," said Christy decidedly.

"No; she is much larger than the Dornoch," added Mr. Gilfleur.

"I am disappointed," replied the captain.

The steamer showed the British flag, and went on her way to the
south-west. The Chateaugay continued on her course without change till
eight bells in the afternoon watch, when a heavier volume of smoke was
descried in the north-east. No change was made in the course, and at the
beginning of the second dog watch the craft from which the smoke issued
could be seen with the naked eye. She was headed to the south-west, and
it was evident that her course would carry her to the westward of the
Chateaugay. The darkness soon settled down upon the ocean, and the port
light of the stranger showed itself over the starboard quarter of the
ship, proving that it crossed the wake of the other.

The action, if the steamer proved to be the Dornoch, must be deferred
till the next morning. It was impossible to determine what she was in
the darkness, and Captain Chantor ordered the course to be changed to
correspond with that of the stranger, which manifested no disposition to
get away from her. All night the two vessels maintained the same
relative position, and both were making about ten knots an hour.
At daylight in the morning the commander and Christy were on the
quarter-deck, anxiously observing the stranger. She was carefully
examined with the glasses.

"That is the Dornoch!" exclaimed Mr. Gilfleur, after a long inspection
with the glass.

"No doubt of it," added Christy.

"You are sure of it?" inquired the commander.

"We have both been on board of her, and I am perfectly sure of it,"
replied Christy, who proceeded to explain the details by which he
identified her; and the captain was entirely satisfied.

The Dornoch was not more than two miles distant from the Chateaugay, for
in the early morning hours the course had been changed a couple of
points, to bring her nearer for examination. It was now a chase, and the
chief engineer was instructed to give the ship her best speed. It was
soon evident that the Dornoch was hurrying her pace, for her
smoke-stacks were vomiting forth immense inky clouds.

"I doubt if Captain Rombold cares to fight with my uncle on board," said
Christy. "He can see that the Chateaugay is of heavier metal than the
Dornoch."

"I should suppose that it would be his first care, as perhaps he regards
it as his first duty, to put his passenger on board of a steamer bound
to England," added the commander. "It appears to be a question of speed
just now."

The Chateaugay was driven to her utmost, and it was soon clear that she
was too much for her antagonist. At two bells in the forenoon watch she
was about a mile abreast of the chase, which had not yet shown her
colors. The flag of the United States floated at the peak, and the
commander ordered a shot to be fired across the forefoot of the Dornoch.

This was an order for her to come to; but, instead of doing so, she
flung out the Confederate flag, and fired a shotted gun, the ball from
which whizzed over the heads of the Chateaugay's officers on the
quarter-deck.



CHAPTER XIV

AN EASY VICTORY


The shot from the Dornoch, which had evidently been intended to hit
the Chateaugay, sufficiently indicated the purpose of her commander.
On board of either steamer there could be no doubt in regard to the
character of the other. Captain Chantor gave the order to beat to
quarters, and in a few moments every officer and seaman was at his
station.

Christy Passford went to his stateroom, buckled on his sword belt, and
prepared his revolvers for use; for though he held no position on board
of the Chateaugay, he did not intend to remain idle during the action,
and was ready to serve as a volunteer. Mr. Gilfleur came to the open
door of his room, and seemed to be somewhat astonished to observe his
preparations.

"You appear to be ready for duty, Mr. Passford, though you are not
attached to this ship," said he.

"I have no position on board of the Chateaugay; but it would be quite
impossible for me to remain inactive while my country needs my services,
even as a supernumerary," replied Christy.

"But what am I to do?" asked the detective, with a puzzled expression on
his face.

"Nothing at all, Mr. Gilfleur; I regard you as a non-combatant, and I
think you had better remain in your stateroom," replied Christy. "But I
must go on deck."

The Frenchman followed him to the quarter-deck, and seemed to be
inclined to take a hand in the conflict. He desired to be an American
citizen, and possibly he believed he could win his title to this
distinction in a battle better than by any other means. But he had no
naval training, could be of no service at the guns, and was more likely
to be in the way of others than to accomplish anything of value. It was
a needless risk, and the captain suggested that his life was too
valuable to his adopted country for him to expose himself before his
mission had been accomplished. He stepped aside, but he was not willing
to go below.

"I desire to offer my services as a volunteer, Captain Chanter," said
Christy, saluting the commander. "If you will assign me to any position
on deck, though it be nothing more than a station at one of the guns,
I will endeavor to do my duty."

"I have no doubt you would do your whole duty, Mr. Passford," replied
the captain, taking him by the hand. "You can be of more service to me
as an adviser than as a hand at a gun. It is plain enough that the
commander of the Dornoch intends to fight as long as there is anything
left of him or his ship. Your report of him gives me that assurance."

"I suppose by this time, Captain Chantor, you have arranged your plan
for the action," added Christy, looking curiously into the face of the
commander, though he had resolved to give no advice and to make no
suggestions unless directly requested to do so.

"I suppose the only way is to pound the enemy till he has had enough of
it, using such strategy as the occasion may require. According to your
report we outweigh her in metal, and we have proved that we can outdo
her in speed," replied Captain Chantor.

"But the Dornoch will have the privilege of pounding the Chateaugay at
the same time," said Christy in a very low tone, so that no one could
hear him.

"That is very true; of course we must expect to take as good as we
send."

"But then what use shall you make of your advantage in speed and weight
of metal?" asked the passenger very quietly. "We both believe that there
is humanity in war as well as in peace."

At that moment a shot passed under the counter of the ship, and buried
itself in the water a cable's length beyond her.

"That is good practice, Captain Chantor," said Christy. "That shot was
aimed at your rudder; and I have no doubt Captain Rombold is seeking to
cripple you by shooting it away."

"I believe in humanity in war; but I do not see where it comes in just
now, except in a very general way," replied the captain.

"If the Dornoch cripples you, and then takes her own time to knock the
Chateaugay to pieces, it will amount to the sacrifice of many lives,"
suggested the unattached officer.

"I should be very glad to have your opinion, Mr. Passford," added the
commander.

"I certainly do not desire to thrust my opinion upon you, Captain
Chantor; but as you have asked for it, I will express myself freely."

"Thank you, Mr. Passford."

"I should adopt the tactics of Commodore Dupont at Port Royal."

"In other words, you would keep sailing around the Dornoch."

"Precisely so. I would not give him a shot till I was out of the reach
of his broadside guns."

"And then pound her with the midship gun. That is my idea exactly.
Quartermaster, strike one bell."

"One bell, sir."

"Strike four bells, quartermaster," added the captain.

"Four bells, sir."

The Chateaugay was soon going ahead at her best speed, headed directly
away from the Dornoch, and it would have looked to an observer as though
she was running away from her. At any rate, the enemy made this
interpretation of her movement, and immediately gave chase, opening fire
upon the ship with her bow guns. Presently she fired her heavy midship
gun, the shot from which would have made havoc if it had hit the mark.
It was soon evident that the enemy's speed had been overrated, for the
Chateaugay gained rapidly upon her. A shot from her heavy gun knocked
off the upper works on one side of the Eleuthera, but did no other
damage.

At the end of two hours even the heavy gun of the enemy could not carry
its shot to the chase. It would have been easy enough to run away from
the Dornoch; but this was by no means the intention of Captain Chantor.
He was very cool and self-possessed, and he did not ask his passenger
for any further suggestions. He understood his business thoroughly,
though he had at first been disposed to make shorter work of the action
than he had now adopted. As soon as he had obtained his distance, he
gave the order to bring the ship about. Thus far he had not fired a gun,
and the enemy had apparently had it all his own way.

The midship was in readiness to initiate the work of the Chateaugay. At
the proper moment, the gunner himself sighted the piece, the lock string
was operated, and the hull of the ship shook under the discharge.
Christy had a spy-glass to his eye, levelled at the Dornoch. She had
just begun to change her course to conform to that of the Chateaugay,
and the observer on the quarter-deck discovered the splinters flying
about her forecastle. The shot appeared to have struck at the heel of
the bowsprit.

"That was well done, Captain Chantor," said Christy.

"Excellently well done; but Mr. Turreton will improve when he gets his
range a little better," replied the captain.

At this moment the report of the Dornoch's great gun was heard again;
but the shot fell considerably short of the Chateaugay. At the same time
she was crowding on all the steam she could make, and Captain Chantor
was manoeuvring his ship so as to maintain his distance. The midship
gun was kept as busy as possible, and Mr. Turreton improved his practice
very materially. Fought in this manner, the action was not very
exciting. The ship followed her circular course, varying it only to
maintain the distance. For several hours the unequal battle continued.
The mainmast of the Dornoch had been shot away, and Christy, with his
glass, saw several of the huge shots crash into her bow.

It was evident, after pounding her a good part of the day, that the
enemy could not stand much more of this punishment. At eight bells in
the afternoon watch she hauled down her flag. Christy had done nothing
but watch the Dornoch, and report to Captain Chantor. As her flag came
down, he discovered that her condition, after the last shot, was
becoming desperate.

"She has settled considerably in the water, Captain Chantor, and that is
evidently the reason why she hauled down her flag," said Christy, just
as the ship's company were cheering at the disappearance of the
Confederate flag from the peak of the enemy.

"I was confident she could not endure much more such hulling as Mr.
Turreton has been bestowing upon her," replied the commander, after he
had given the order to make the course directly towards the Dornoch.

Christy continued to watch the enemy's vessel. The ship's company were
employed in stretching a sail over the bow, evidently for the purpose of
stopping in whole or partially a dangerous leak in that part of the
vessel; and she seemed to be in immediate peril of going to the bottom.
They were also getting their boats ready, and the situation must have
been critical. In a short time the Chateaugay was within hailing
distance of her prize.

"Dornoch, ahoy!" shouted Captain Chantor, mounted on the port rail. "Do
you surrender?"

"I do," replied Captain Rombold; for Christy recognized his voice. "Our
ship is sinking!"

By this time the havoc made by the big gun of the Chateaugay could be
seen and estimated. The bow of the steamer had been nearly all shot
away. Her bowsprit and her mainmast had gone by the board. Her bulwarks
were stove in, and most of her boats appeared to have been knocked to
pieces. In spite of the efforts to keep her afloat, it was plain that
she was sinking; and Christy could see her settling in the water. The
boats of the victor were promptly lowered, and crews sent away in them
to the relief of the imperilled enemy. There were not more than sixty
men on board of her, including the officers; and they were soon
transferred to the deck of the Chateaugay.

Christy watched the boats with the most intense interest as they came
alongside the ship; for he knew that his Uncle Homer was on board of the
Dornoch, if the plans arranged at the hotel had been fully carried out.
Captain Rombold came in the last boat, and Colonel Passford was with
him. His nephew did not care to meet him just then. The Confederate
commissioner came on deck; and Christy looked at him with interest from
behind the mizzenmast. His expression testified to his grief and sorrow
at the early failure of his mission. The young lieutenant could pity the
man, while he rejoiced at his ill success in building up the navy of the
Confederacy.

His attention was drawn off from his uncle by the sudden sinking of the
Dornoch; and the vortex that followed her disappearance extended to the
Chateaugay. Most of the officers and seamen had brought off the whole or
a part of their clothing and other articles.

When Captain Rombold came on deck, Captain Chantor politely saluted him,
and returned the sword he surrendered to him. Colonel Passford kept
close to him; and Christy thought he looked dazed and vacant.

"While I must rejoice in my own good fortune, Captain Rombold, I can
sympathize personally with a brave commander who has lost his ship,"
said Captain Chantor, taking the hand of the late commander of the
Dornoch.

"I thank you for your consideration, Captain. I am sorry to have been so
easy a victim to your strategy; and I can reciprocate by congratulating
you on your victory, though your better guns enabled you to knock my
ship to pieces at your leisure," replied Captain Rombold.

He then introduced Colonel Passford, and both of them were invited to
the captain's cabin. The wounded were turned over to the surgeon, and
the crew were sent below. It was clearly impossible for the ship to
continue on her voyage with such an addition to her numbers; and the
Chateaugay was at once headed back to New York.



CHAPTER XV

THE GENTLEMAN WITH A GRIZZLY BEARD


The addition of about sixty persons to the full complement of the ship's
company of the Chateaugay made a considerable crowd on board of her; but
accommodations were provided for all, and in three days the ship would
deliver her human freight to the authorities in New York. The Dornoch
had gone to the bottom with all her valuable cargo; but her captors
would be remunerated in prize-money by the government, so that in a
material point of view she was not lost to them, and there was one less
cruiser to prey upon the commerce of the loyal nation.

Captain Rombold and Colonel Passford remained in the cabin all the rest
of the day; but the next morning both of them went on deck to take the
fresh air. Christy and Mr. Gilfleur were in the waist, and noticed them
as soon as they appeared. They had had some conversation the evening
before in regard to confronting the two most important prisoners, though
without arriving at a conclusion.

"Of course I must meet my uncle," said Christy. "I am not inclined to
skulk and keep out of sight rather than meet him. Though I have assisted
in doing him and his cause a great deal of mischief, I have done it in
the service of my country; and I have no excuses to offer, and no
apologies to make."

"I was not thinking of excusing myself, or apologizing for what I have
done," replied the detective quite earnestly. "That is not the point I
desire to make. Since I went to New York I have looked upon your country
as my own; and I would do as much to serve her as I ever would have done
for France."

"What is your point, Mr. Gilfleur?" asked Christy.

"I do not object to your fraternizing with your uncle, Mr. Passford, if
you are so disposed," continued the Frenchman; "but the case is quite
different with me. In the hotel at St. George's you were not presented
to Captain Rombold, and you did not allow the Confederate commissioner
to see and identify you. Neither of these gentlemen recognized you; but
the captain of the Dornoch would certainly know me, for I talked with
him a long time."

"Suppose both of them know us: what difference will that make?" demanded
the young lieutenant.

"It will explain to them in what manner we obtained our knowledge of the
force and weight of metal of the Dornoch. While we had as good a right
to be on shore in the Bermudas as the Confederates, if we were
recognized our method of operations would be betrayed, and in my opinion
that would be very bad policy, especially as we are to adopt the same
strategy in the Bahamas."

"I see; and I agree with you, Mr. Gilfleur, that it will be good policy
to keep our own counsel in regard to what we have done in the islands,"
added Christy, as he saw Captain Chantor approaching him.

"Good-morning, Mr. Passford. You and your uncle do not appear to be on
very friendly terms, for I notice that you do not speak to each other."

"Our relations have always been friendly, even while I was in a rebel
prison; but I have not happened to meet him since he came on board of
the Chateaugay."

"I will present you to him as his nephew, if you desire me to do so,"
continued the commander with a smile.

"I thank you, Captain: I intended to speak to him when an opportunity
came. But you will pardon me if I make a suggestion without being asked
to do so," said Christy, speaking in a low tone; and he proceeded to
state what had passed between him and Mr. Gilfleur. "I hope you have not
mentioned the fact that Mr. Gilfleur and myself have been in the
Bermudas."

"I have not, for it came to my mind that it would be very unwise to do
so," replied the captain. "Besides, I was not at all inclined to tell
Captain Rombold that I knew all about his ship, her size, the number of
her ship's company, and the weight of his guns. A man does not feel just
right when he finds he has been made the victim of a bit of strategy;
and I was disposed to spare his feelings. He charges his misfortune
altogether to his antiquated steamer, her failure in her promised speed,
and the neglect of the Confederate commissioners to provide him with a
suitable vessel."

"Mr. Gilfleur will keep out of the captain's sight during the run to New
York; but I was acting as a servant when we met him, and did not sit at
the same table. I will speak to my uncle now."

Captain Chantor attended him to the quarter-deck, where the commissioner
was taking his morning walk. They fell in behind him as he was moving
aft, so that he did not observe his nephew.

"Colonel Passford, I have a young gentleman on board of my ship who
bears your name; allow me to present to you Lieutenant Christopher
Passford, who is simply a passenger on the Chateaugay," said the
captain, directing the attention of the commissioner to the young man.

"My nephew!" exclaimed Colonel Passford, as he recognized Christy, and
extended his hand to him.

"I am very glad to see you, Uncle Homer, though I am sorry to meet you
under present circumstances," replied the nephew, taking the offered
hand. "I hope you are very well, sir."

"Not very well, Christy; and I am not likely to improve in health in a
Yankee prison," answered the colonel with a very sickly smile.

"Probably my father will be able to obtain a parole for you, and he will
be extremely glad to have you with him at Bonnydale," added Christy.

"The last time I met you, Christy, you looked upon me as a
non-combatant, released me, and sent me on shore."

"I am not sure that I did wisely at that time."

"I was not taken in arms; and I could hardly be regarded as a prisoner
of war."

"But you were engaged in the Confederate service, Uncle Homer, for you
were shipping cotton for the benefit of the cause."

"But I was merely a passenger on board of the Dornoch."

"Yet you are a Confederate commissioner, seeking a passage in some
vessel bound to England, for the purpose of purchasing steamers to serve
in your navy," added Christy with considerable energy, and without
thinking that he was in danger of compromising himself and his companion
in the visit to the Bermudas.

Colonel Passford stopped short, and gazed into the face of his nephew.
He appeared to be utterly confounded by the statement, though he did not
deny the truth of it.

"Without admitting the truth of what you say, Christy, I desire to ask
upon what your statement is founded," said the commissioner, after some
hesitation.

"As you are on one side in this great conflict, and I am on the other,
you must excuse me for not answering your question," replied Christy
very promptly, and declining to commit himself any farther.

"It is very sad to have our family divided so that we should be enemies,
however friendly we may be personally," added Colonel Passford in a tone
that indicated his profound grief and sorrow.

"I know how useless it is for us to discuss the question, Uncle Homer,
for I am sure you are as honest in your views as my father is in his."

"I have no desire to argue the question; but I believe the North will
come to its senses in good time--when the grass grows in the streets of
New York, if not before."

"You will have an opportunity to see for yourself, Uncle Homer, that New
York was never so busy, never so prosperous, as at the present time; and
the same may be truthfully said of all the cities of the North," replied
Christy with spirit.

"Sail, ho!" shouted the lookout forward.

An hour later the sail was reported to be a steamer, bound to the
westward, and her streak of black smoke indicated that she was English.
She was low in the water, had two smoke-stacks, and presented a very
rakish appearance. She was a vessel of not more than eight hundred tons,
and her build was quite peculiar. It was evident that she was a very
fast steamer. But she seemed to have no suspicions in regard to the
character of the Chateaugay.

Christy left his uncle, and went to the ward room, where he found Mr.
Gilfleur in his stateroom. He desired the advice of the Frenchman before
he said anything to the captain in regard to the approaching sail.
Together they had looked over all the steamers in the harbor of St.
George's, and those on board of them were not disposed to conceal the
fact that they were to run the blockade as soon as they could get over
to the coast of the United States.

"What have you been doing to yourself, Mr. Gilfleur?" asked Christy, as
soon as he discovered the detective, for he had completely changed his
appearance, and looked like an elderly gentleman of fifty, with a full
beard, grizzled with the snows of many winters.

"I don't care to be shut up in this stateroom during the voyage to New
York," replied the Frenchman with a pleasant laugh. "This is one of my
useful costumes, and I don't believe Captain Rombold will recognize me
now."

"I am very sure he will not," added Christy, looking him over, and
wondering at the skill which could so completely change his appearance.

"I want you to see the steamer which is approaching, bound to the
westward. If I am not mistaken, we have seen her before."

"I am all ready, and I will go on deck with you; but you must contrive
to let the captain know who I am, or he will order me below, or have too
much to say about me," replied the detective, as he followed Christy to
the quarter-deck.

Colonel Passford and Captain Rombold had seated themselves abaft the
mizzenmast, and seemed to be interested in the reports respecting the
approaching steamer. Christy called Captain Chantor to the rail, and
explained what the commander had already scented as a mystery in regard
to the gentleman with the grizzled beard. He laughed heartily as he
gazed at the apparent stranger, and declared that he thought he might be
another Confederate commissioner, for he looked respectable and
dignified enough to be one.

"I think that steamer is the Cadet, Captain Chantor; and I have brought
Mr. Gilfleur on deck to take a look at her."

The Frenchman had no doubt the steamer was the Cadet, for she was
peculiar enough in her build to be identified among a thousand vessels
of her class. For some time they discussed the character of the vessel,
and minutely examined her build and rig. Neither of them had any doubt
as to her identity, and the passenger reported the result of the
conference to the commander, who immediately ordered the American flag
to be displayed at the peak; and gave the command to beat to quarters.

"We are over six hundred miles from any Confederate port, Mr. Passford,"
said the captain. "I should not like to have one of my captures
surrendered to her owners."

"Of course you have your law books in your cabin, Captain; but I have
studied them so much that I can quote literally from one bearing on this
case," continued Christy. "'The sailing for a blockaded port, knowing it
to be blockaded, is, it seems, such an act as may charge the party with
a breach of the blockade.' Besides the evidence of her course, and that
of the nature of her cargo, there are two witnesses to the declaration
of the captain that he was intending to run into Wilmington."

"She has come about, and is running away from you, Captain!" exclaimed
the passenger, who was the first on the quarter-deck to notice this
change.

The commander ordered a gun to be fired across her bow, for the Cadet
was hardly more than a quarter of a mile from the Chateaugay. No notice
was taken of the shot, and a moment later the midship gun sent a shot
which carried away her pilot-house and disabled the wheel.



CHAPTER XVI

AMONG THE BAHAMAS


"I am sorry to disturb you, gentlemen, but I feel obliged to ask you to
retire to my cabin until this affair is settled," said Captain Chantor,
addressing Colonel Passford and Captain Rombold.

"I beg your pardon, Captain Chantor, but do you consider that you have a
right to capture that steamer?" asked the late commander of the Dornoch,
who seemed to be very much disturbed at the proceedings of his captor.

"Undoubtedly; and I have no doubt I shall be able to procure her
condemnation on the ground that she is loaded for a Confederate port,
no other than Wilmington, and has the 'guilty intention' to run the
blockade."

"I don't see where you could have obtained the information that enables
you to make sure of her condemnation at the very first sight of her,"
replied the Confederate officer.

"Well, Captain Rombold, if I succeed in proving my position before the
court, out of the mouth of Captain Vickers, her commander, would that
satisfy you?" asked the commander with a cheerful smile. "But you must
excuse me from discussing the matter to any greater length, for I have a
duty to perform at the present time."

The Chateaugay was going ahead at full speed when the two gentlemen
retired from the quarter-deck. She stopped her screw within hail of the
Cadet. Her crew were clearing away the wreck of the pilot-house; but the
destruction of her steering gear forward did not permit her to keep
under way, though hands were at work on the quarter-deck putting her
extra wheel in order for use. Of course it was plain enough to the
captain of the Cadet that the Chateaugay, after the mischief she had
done with a single shot, could knock the steamer all to pieces in a few
minutes.

The first cutter, in charge of Mr. Birdwing, the executive officer, was
sent on board of the disabled steamer, and Christy was invited to take a
place in the boat. Captain Vickers was a broken-hearted man when he
realized that his vessel was actually captured by a United States
man-of-war.

"Do you surrender, Captain Vickers?" said Mr. Birdwing, as he saluted
the disconsolate commander.

"How did you know my name?" demanded he gruffly.

"That is of no consequence, Captain Vickers. You will oblige me by
answering my question. Do you surrender?" continued the lieutenant.

"I don't know that I can help myself, for this steamer is not armed, and
I can make no resistance," replied the captain. "I had no idea that ship
was a Yankee gunboat."

"But we had an idea that this was a blockade-runner," added Mr.
Birdwing, as he proceeded to take formal possession of the vessel, and
called for her papers.

An examination was made into the character of the cargo, which consisted
largely of arms and ammunition. The extra wheel was soon in working
order. Before noon a prize crew was put on board, and both vessels were
headed for New York. In three days more the Chateaugay was at anchor off
the Navy Yard, with the Cadet near her. The return of the ship caused a
great deal of surprise, and one of the first persons to come on board of
her was Captain Passford. He gave his son his usual warm welcome.

Christy gave his father the narrative of the brief voyage, and astounded
him with the information that his brother was on board. The two brothers
had not met since they parted at the plantation near Mobile, and the
meeting was as tender as it was sad; but both of them refrained from
saying anything unpleasant in regard to the war. The prisoners were
taken from the Chateaugay by a tender, and conveyed to Fort Lafayette;
but Captain Passford soon obtained a parole for his brother, which he
consented to give for a limited period.

"I suppose the Chateaugay will sail again by to-morrow, Christy; but you
will have time to go home and see your mother and sister. I am so busy
that I cannot go, and you must take Uncle Homer with you," said his
father.

They landed on the New York side, and took a carriage for the station.
Perhaps the streets of the great city were never more crowded with all
kinds of vehicles, and especially with wagons loaded with merchandise of
all kinds. They passed up Broadway, and Colonel Passford was silent as
he witnessed the marvellous activity of the city in the midst of a great
war.

"I think you will not be able to find any grass growing in the streets
of New York, Uncle Homer," said Christy, as they passed the Park, where
the crowd seemed to be greater than elsewhere.

"There is certainly no grass here, and I am surprised to see that the
city is as busy as ever," replied the commissioner in a subdued tone.
"We have been told at the South that business was paralyzed in the
cities of the North, except what little was created by the war."

"The war makes a vast amount of business, Uncle Homer," added Christy.

But the gentleman from the South was not disposed to talk, and he soon
relapsed into silence. Mrs. Passford and Florry were very much
astonished to see Christy again so soon, and even more so to meet Uncle
Homer; but his welcome was cordial, and nothing was said about the
exciting topic of the day. The visitor was treated like a friend, and
not an enemy, and everything was done to make him forget that he was not
in his own home.

Early the next morning the young lieutenant hastened to report on board
of the Chateaugay, where Mr. Gilfleur had remained, though he had
divested himself of his disguise as soon as Captain Rombold was conveyed
to other quarters. They were kept very busy that day giving their
depositions in regard to the character of the Cadet, and of the
admissions of Captain Vickers in regard to his intention to run the
blockade. The ship had been coaled, and the next day she sailed again.
She gave the Bermudas a wide berth, for she had another mission now,
though she could probably have picked up one or two more of the
blockade-runners Christy and his companion had seen in the harbor of St.
George's.

Four days from Sandy Hook, very early in the morning, Abaco light was
seen; and about fifty miles south of it was Nassau, on the island of New
Providence, a favorite resort for blockade-runners at that time. The
mission of the detective was at this port. Christy had again volunteered
to be his companion, and they desired to get into the place as they had
done in the Bermudas, without attracting the attention of any one, and
especially not of those engaged in loading or fitting out vessels for
the ports of the South.

As soon as the light was discovered, Captain Chantor ordered the course
of the ship to be changed to east; and till eight bells in the afternoon
watch she continued to steam away from the Great Abaco Island. It was
his intention to avoid being seen, though there was a chance to fall in
with a blockade-runner. Standing to the south-west the last part of the
day, the light at the Hole in the Wall, the southern point of Great
Abaco Island, was made out in the evening. South-east of this point is
the northern end of Eleuthera Island, where the Egg Island light could
be seen. This was the locality where Mr. Gilfleur had decided to begin
upon his mission.

His boat had been repaired by the carpenter after the shot from the
Dornoch struck it, and it was now in as good condition as it had ever
been. At eleven o'clock in the evening the Eleuthera was lowered into
the water, with a supply of provisions and water, and such clothing and
other articles as might be needed, on board. The weather was as
favorable as it could be, with a good breeze from the north-west.

"Now, Mr. Gilfleur, I hope you will bring back as important information
as you did from the Bermudas," said the captain, when the adventurers
were ready to go on board of the boat.

"I hope so myself; but I don't know," replied the Frenchman. "I expect
to find the Ovidio at Nassau; and, like the Dornoch, she is intended for
a man-of-war. Mr. Passford and I will do the best we can."

"How long do you mean to be absent on this business?"

"About three days, as well as I can judge, though I have not had a
chance to look over the ground. I have no doubt there are
blockade-runners there, and we shall ascertain what we can in regard to
them."

"I shall expect to pick you up to the eastward of the Hole in the Wall,
and on the fourth night from the present time," added the captain. "You
know that the navigation of this region is very dangerous."

"I am aware of it; but I have been here before, and I provided myself
with a good chart in New York. I have studied it very attentively, and I
have the feeling that I can make my way without any difficulty," replied
Mr. Gilfleur confidently.

Christy had already taken his place in the boat, and the detective soon
followed him. It seemed something like an old story, after his
experience in the Bermudas. The Eleuthera was cast off, the captain
wished them a safe and prosperous voyage to their destination. The
mainsail had been set, and the breeze soon wafted the boat away from the
ship. The Chateaugay started her screw, and headed off to the eastward
again, on the lookout for blockade-runners.

"Here is a light ahead," said Christy, after his companion had set the
jib, and taken the helm.

"That is Egg Island light, about forty miles from Nassau. Our course is
south-west, which gives us a fair wind," replied the skipper. "Now, Mr.
Passford, you can do as you did on our former voyage in the Eleuthera:
turn in and sleep till morning."

"That would not be fair. I will take my trick at the helm, as it seems
to be plain sailing, and you can have your nap first," suggested
Christy.

"No; I slept all the afternoon in anticipation of to-night, and I could
not sleep if I tried," the skipper insisted. "By the way, Mr. Passford,
I am somewhat afraid that the name of our boat may get us into trouble."

"Why so?" asked the other curiously.

"The island on our port hand is Eleuthera, about forty miles long. Of
course it is well known at Nassau, and it may cause people to ask us
some hard questions. We may even stumble upon the boat's former owner,
who would claim her."

"We could buy her, or another like her, in that case," suggested
Christy. "The name is painted on the stern board, and we might remove
it, if necessary."

Mr. Gilfleur said so much about it that Christy finally turned in, and
was soon fast asleep. He did not wake till daylight in the morning. He
found that the boat was headed towards an island, while in the distance
he saw the light on Hog Island, with a portion of the town of Nassau,
and a fort. The skipper had his chart spread out on the seat at his
side, and he was watching it very closely.

"Good-morning, Mr. Gilfleur. I suppose that must be Nassau ahead of us."

"Yes; that is Nassau. I expected to get here earlier in the morning than
this, and I am not a little afraid to sail into the harbor at seven
o'clock in the morning, as it will be before we can get there. The wind
died out in the middle of the night, though I got it again very early
this morning. I must get to the town in some other way. The land on the
port is Rose Island, and Douglas Channel is just this side of it. I am
going through that, and shall make my way to the back side of the
island, where we can conceal the boat."

"I should say that would be a good idea," added Christy, as he took in
the plan. "The water is as clear as crystal here, and you can see the
bottom as plainly as though nothing came between your eye and the rock."

The skipper stationed his companion on the bow of the boat to watch for
rocks; but none interfered with the progress of the Eleuthera. She
sailed to the back side of the island of New Providence, where they
found a secluded nook, in which they moored the craft.



CHAPTER XVII

THE LANDING AT NEW PROVIDENCE


The water was so clear that the bottom could be seen at all times, the
white coral rock greatly assisting the transparency. From Douglas
Channel, through which the boat had passed, the chart indicated that it
was twenty miles to the point where the skipper desired to land, and it
was nearly eleven o'clock when the Eleuthera ran into the little bay,
extending over a mile into the island, and nearly landlocked. The shore
was covered with tropical vegetation, including cocoa-nut palms, loaded
with fruit, with palmettoes, wild palms, and many plants of which
Christy did not even know the names.

"We could not have anything better than this," said Mr. Gilfleur, as he
ran the boat into a tangle of mangroves and other plants.

"This bay appears to be about five miles from the town of Nassau, and I
should say that no person is likely to see the boat if it should stay
here for a month," replied Christy, as he measured the distance across
the island with the scale his companion had prepared.

"It will not take us long to walk that distance. There are all sorts of
people in Nassau at the present time, as there were in St. George's and
Hamilton; and we shall pass without exciting any particular attention."

"I think we had better look out for a cleaner place to land than this,
for the mud seems to be about knee-deep," suggested Christy, as he
tested the consistency of the shore with an oar.

"But there is hard ground within four feet of the water. I have a board
in the bottom of the boat with which we can bridge the mud," replied the
skipper. "But I think we had better have our lunch before we walk five
miles."

"I am in condition to lunch," added Christy.

The sails had been furled, and everything put in order on board of the
boat. The basket containing the provisions was brought out of the cuddy,
and seated in the stern sheets they did ample justice to the meal. The
detective had put on his suit of blue, and his companion dressed himself
as he had done in Bermuda, though he was not to act the part of a
servant on this occasion.

"It will not do to acknowledge that we are Americans, and it would not
be prudent to claim that we are Englishmen," said Mr. Gilfleur.

"Why not? We speak English; and you can pronounce it as well as I can,"
argued Christy.

"Because we may be catechised; though I know London almost as well as I
do Paris, I am afraid you might be caught."

"I have been in London twice, though I don't know enough about it to
answer all the questions that may be put to me," added Christy.

"In that case we had better be Frenchmen, as we were before. We are not
likely to find many people here who speak French, for the visiting
portion of the population must be people who are engaged in
blockade-running. Probably there are some Southern magnates here,
attending to the business of the Confederacy."

"They were here two years ago, when I was in Nassau for a few hours,
on the lookout for steamers for their navy. I remember Colonel Richard
Pierson, who was extremely anxious to purchase the Bellevite, which
anchored outside the light, for there was not water enough to allow her
to cross the bar," said Christy, recalling some of the events of his
first voyage in the steamer his father had presented to the government.

"Perhaps he is still in Nassau," suggested Mr. Gilfleur, with a shade of
anxiety on his face.

"He would not recognize me now, for I have grown a good deal, and I
hardly saw him. He employed his son, a young fellow of eighteen, to act
for him in obtaining information in regard to the Bellevite. The son's
name was Percy Pierson, and when he tried to pump me in regard to the
Bellevite, I chaffed him till he lost all patience. Then he proposed to
put the owner of our steamer, for she had not then been transferred to
the government, in the way of making a fortune. I told him that the
owner was determined to get rid of the ship, though I only meant to say
that he intended to pass her over to the government. At any rate, Percy
believed she was for sale, and he smuggled himself on board of her. He
was not discovered till we were under way; and we had to take him with
us."

"What became of this Percy Pierson?" asked the detective.

"We brought him off with us when we fought our way out of Mobile Bay.
Off Carisfort Reef light we put him on board of a schooner belonging to
Nassau; and that was the last I know about him."

"But I hope he is not in Nassau now," said Mr. Gilfleur.

"I don't believe he is, for his brother was doing his best to get him
into the Confederate army."

"You must keep your eyes wide open for this fellow, Mr. Passford," added
the skipper earnestly. "If he should recognize you, our enterprise would
be ruined."

"I don't believe there is the least danger of that, for I am a
different-looking fellow from what I was two years ago. But I will look
out sharply for him, and for his father."

"We had better speak nothing but French between ourselves, and break up
our English when we are obliged to use it," Mr. Gilfleur concluded, as
he returned the basket of provisions to the cuddy, and locked the door.

The board was put down on the mud, and they walked ashore, dry-shod. The
temporary bridge was taken up, and concealed in a mass of mangroves. The
Eleuthera was so well covered up with trees and bushes that she was not
likely to be discovered, unless some wanderer penetrated the thicket
that surrounded her. A gentle elevation was directly before them, so
that they could not see the town.

"We must not walk ten miles in making five," said the detective, as he
produced a pocket compass. "Our course, as I took it from the chart, is
due north, though it may bring us in at the western end of the town."

"Then we can bear a little to the east, though if we get to the town it
will not make much difference where we strike it," added Christy.

The land showed the remains of plantations which had flourished there in
the palmy days of the island. The ruins of several mansions and many
small huts were seen. Cocoa-nut palms and orange-trees were abundant.
After they had walked about a mile, they came upon what had been a road
in former days, and was evidently used to some extent still. Taking this
road, they followed it till they were satisfied that it would take them
to Nassau.

The appearance of the island soon began to improve. The trees showed
that some care had been bestowed upon them, and an occasional mansion
was noticed. Then the street began to be flanked with small houses,
hardly better than huts, which were inhabited by the blacks. All the
people they met were negroes, and they were as polite as though they had
been brought up in Paris, for every one of the men either touched his
hat or took it off to the strangers. The women bowed also; and both of
the travellers returned the salutes in every instance.

As they proceeded, the houses became better, and many of them were used
in part as shops, in which a variety of articles, including beer, was
sold. Christy had seen the negroes of the Southern States, and he
thought the Nassau colored people presented a much better appearance.
At one of these little shops a carriage of the victoria pattern was
standing. Doubtless the driver had gone in to refresh himself after a
long course, for the vehicle was headed towards the town.

"I think we had better ride the rest of the way, if this carriage is not
engaged," said M. Rubempré, for they had agreed to use the names they
had adopted in the Bermudas. "What do you say, Christophe?"

"I like the idea; I am beginning to be a little tired, for I have not
walked much lately," replied Christy.

At this moment the driver, a negro wearing a straw hat with a very broad
brim, came out of the shop, wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his
coat. He bowed with even more deference than the generality of the
people. The strangers were not elegantly or genteelly dressed, but they
wore good clothes, and would have passed for masters of vessels, so far
as their costumes were concerned.

"Is this your carriage?" demanded M. Rubempré.

"Yes, sir," replied the man in good English.

"How far you must go to get into Nassau?" inquired the detective,
mangling his English enough to suit the occasion.

"Two miles, sir."

"How much you make pay to go to Nassau in ze carriage?"

"Fifty cents."

"Feefty cents; how much money was zat?"

"Arn't you Americans?"

"_Non!_" replied M. Rubempré with energy. "We have come from ze France;
but I was been in London, and I comprehend ze money of Eengland."

"Two shillings then," replied the driver, laughing.

"We go wiz you to ze Nassau," added the Frenchman, seating himself in
the carriage, his companion taking a place at his side.

"Where do you want to go, sir?" asked the negro, as he closed the door
of the victoria.

"We must go to Nassau," replied the detective, mangling his
pronunciation even more than his grammar.

"Yes, I know; but where in Nassau do you wish to go? Shall I drive you
to a hotel? The Royal Victoria is the best in the place."

"You shall take us to zat hotel."

For the sake of appearances, rather than for any other reason, each of
the visitors to Nassau had brought with him a small hand-bag, containing
such articles as might be useful to them. Having these evidences that
they were travellers, it would be prudent to go to a hotel, though the
want of more luggage had made the landlord in Hamilton suspicious of
their ability to pay their bills.

Christy found enough to do during the ride to observe the strange sights
presented to his gaze, even in the outskirts of the town. The people
were full of interest to him, and he wondered that his father had never
made a winter trip in the West Indies in former years, instead of
confining his visits to the more northern islands of the ocean.

The carriage arrived at the Royal Victoria Hotel, located on a ridge
which has been dignified as a hill, a short distance in the rear of the
business portion of the town. M. Rubempré produced his purse, which was
well stuffed with sovereigns, more for the enlightenment of the clerk
who came out when the vehicle stopped, than for the information of the
driver, to whom he paid four florins, which was just double his fare.

"Do you speak French?" asked the guest in that language.

"No, sir; not a word of it," though he understood the question.

"We must have two chambers for one, two, t'ree day."

"All right; we have two that were vacated this morning," replied the
clerk, as he led the way to the office, where the Frenchman registered
his name, and his residence as in Paris.

Christy wrote the name of Christophe Poireau, also from Paris. Then they
chatted together in French for a moment, in order to impress the clerk
and others who were standing near with the fact that they spoke the
polite language. They were shown to two small chambers, well up in the
air, for the hotel seemed to be as full as the clerk had suggested that
it was. The blockade business made the town and the hotel very lively.

The newly arrived guests did not waste any time in their rooms, but
entered at once upon the work of their mission. On the piazza they
halted to size up the other visitors at the hotel. From this high point
of view they could see the harbor, crowded with vessels.



CHAPTER XVIII

AN AFFRAY IN NASSAU


Christy's first care was to look about among the guests of the hotel
gathered on the piazza, in order to ascertain if there was any person
there whom he had ever met before. Very few of them were what could be
classed as genteel people, and some of them were such people as one
would not expect to see at a first-class hotel. They were dressed in
seaman's garments for the most part, though not as common sailors; and
doubtless many of them were commanders or officers of the vessels in the
harbor.

Putting on an indifferent air he walked about the veranda, observing
every person he encountered, as well as those who were seated in groups,
engaged in rather noisy conversation, intermixed with a great deal of
profanity. He breathed easier when he had made the circuit of the
piazzas on the first floor, though there were two others on the stories
above it, for he found no one he could identify as a person he had seen
before.

There were quite a number of steamers in the harbor, or in that part of
it which lies inside of the bar and in front of the town, with at least
three times as many sailing craft. No doubt many of the latter, as well
as the former, had brought cargoes of cotton from Confederate ports; for
though the blockade was regarded as effective, and treated as such by
foreign nations, many small vessels contrived to escape from obscure
harbors on the Southern coast. Christy had been concerned in the capture
of a considerable number of such. On the wharves were stacks of cotton
which had been landed from these vessels, and several of them were
engaged in transferring it to small steamers, for large ones were unable
to cross the bar. But the visitors had no business with the vessels thus
engaged, for they had completed their voyages, and were exempt from
capture.

"I have taken not a few prisoners in or off Southern ports, and it would
not greatly surprise me if I should meet some one I had met before,"
said Christy, in French, as he resumed his seat by the side of the
detective.

"Then I fear that your coming with me was a mistake," replied M.
Rubempré. "You must be extremely cautious, not only for your own
protection, but because you may compromise me, and cause me to fail in
the accomplishment of my mission here."

"I should be sorry to interfere with your work, and I think we had
better separate," replied Christy, very much disturbed at the suggestion
of his friend. "If I can do no good, I certainly do not wish to do any
harm."

"No, my friend; I cannot desert you, especially if you are in peril,"
protested the detective. "How could I ever look your father in the face
if I permitted you to get into trouble here?"

"I don't think I shall get into trouble, even if I am recognized by some
person. This is not Confederate territory, though it looks very much
like it; for all the people around us are talking secession, and the
inhabitants sympathize with the South to the fullest extent. I could not
be captured and sent to a Confederate State, or be subjected to any
violence, for the authorities would not permit anything of the kind,"
Christy argued with energy.

"I am not so sure of that."

"I have no doubt in regard to my own safety; but if you appear to be
connected with me in any manner, and I were identified as a United
States naval officer, of course it would ruin your enterprise. For this
reason I insist that we separate, and I will take a room at another
hotel."

Christy was determined, and in the end the detective had to yield in
substance to him, though it was agreed, for reasons that seemed to be
good, that M. Rubempré should change his hotel. They arranged to meet
after dark in the grounds in the rear of the Royal Victoria, to consult
in regard to the future.

"In the mean time I will do what I can to obtain information in regard
to steamers bound to Confederate ports. I will still claim to be a
Frenchman, and talk pigeon English," continued Christy.

"If any misfortune happens to you, Christophe, I shall blame myself for
it," added the Frenchman.

"You cannot fairly do that, for it will not be through any fault of
yours. If I fail to meet you as agreed, you can look for me. If you
cannot find me, you must leave at the time agreed upon with Captain
Chantor, whether I go with you or not. But I have no idea that anything
will happen to prevent me from returning to the ship with you."

"I could not leave without you," said the detective moodily.

"If you do not, you will be likely to get the Chateaugay into trouble;
for if we did not return to her, she would probably come into this port
after us."

"I will consider the matter before I assent to it," returned M.
Rubempré, rising from his chair.

Christy was fully resolved not to endanger the mission of his companion,
and he left the hotel. He walked slowly down Parliament to Bay Street,
which is the principal business avenue of the town, running parallel to
the shore. It was lined with shops, saloons, and small hotels on one
side, and with the market and wharves on the other. He desired to see
what he could of the place, and pick up all the information that would
be serviceable to an officer of the navy.

  [Illustration:
  "His blood was boiling with indignation at the unprovoked assault."
  Page 207.]

As he passed a drinking-saloon a torrent of loud talk, spiced with
oaths, flowed out from the place. Before he had fairly passed the door a
violent hand was laid upon him, seizing him by the collar with no gentle
grasp. The ruffian had fallen upon him from the rear, and he could not
see who it was that assaulted him. The man attempted to drag him into
the saloon; but he was evidently considerably affected by his potations
in the place, and his legs were somewhat tangled up by the condition of
his brain.

Christy attempted, by a vigorous movement, to shake off his assailant;
but the fellow held on, and he found it impossible to detach his grasp.
His blood was boiling with indignation at the unprovoked assault, and
his two fists were clinched so tight that iron could hardly have been
harder and tougher. He levelled a blow at the head of the ruffian, who
still kept in his rear, and delivered it with all the power of his
strong arm.

The assailant reeled, and released his hold, for his head must have
whirled around like a top under the crashing blow it had sustained.
Christy turned so that he could see the ruffian. He was a stalwart
fellow, at least fifty pounds heavier than the young lieutenant. His
nose was terribly disfigured, not by the blow of the young officer, for,
twisted as it was, there was no sign of a fresh wound upon it. One
glance was enough to satisfy Christy as to the identity of the ruffian.

It was Captain Flanger, whose steamer Christy had captured, with a boat
expedition sent out from the Bronx, in St. Andrew's Bay. He was a
prisoner, but had escaped, and invaded the cabin of the Bronx, where he
attempted to make Christy sign an order which would have resulted in
delivering the steamer to the enemy. The heroic young commander,
preferring death to dishonor, had refused to sign the order. The affair
had culminated in a sort of duel in the cabin, in which Christy, aided
by his faithful steward, had hit Flanger in the nose with his revolver.

The ruffian had sworn to be revenged at the time, and he seemed to have
chosen the present occasion to wreak his vengeance upon the destroyer of
his nasal member. The blow his victim had struck was a set-back to him;
but he presently recovered the balance of his head which the shock had
upset. It was plain enough that he had not given up the battle, for he
had drawn back with the evident intention of using his clinched fists
upon his adversary.

"Hit him again, Flanger!" shouted one of the brutal occupants of the
saloon, who now filled the doorway.

The affair was rapidly becoming serious, and Christy was debating with
himself whether or not he should draw a revolver he carried in his
pocket; but he was cool enough to realize that he was on neutral ground,
and that it would be very imprudent to be the first to resort to deadly
weapons. He could not run away, for his self-respect would not permit
him to do so. He braced himself up to meet the onslaught of the ruffian.

Flanger charged upon him, and attempted to plant a blow with his fist in
the face of his intended victim; but the young officer parried it, and
was about to follow up the movement with a blow, when Monsieur Rubempré
rushed in between them, struck the assailant such a blow that he went
over backwards. In fact, the man was too much intoxicated to stand
without considerable difficulty.

At this moment a couple of colored policemen rushed in between the
combatants. The tipplers in the saloon picked up their comrade, and
stood him on his feet. The Nassau officers doubtless had a great deal of
this sort of quarrelling, for drinking strong liquors was the principal
occupation of the officers and crews of the blockade-runners while in
port and on shore.

"What is all this about? Who began this quarrel?" demanded one of them,
as he looked from one party to the other in the battle.

"I was passing the door of this saloon, and did not even look into it,
when that man rushed upon me, and seized me by the collar," replied
Christy. "I tried to shake him off, but I could not, and then I struck
him in the side of the head."

"Look here, you nigger!" shouted Captain Flanger. "It's none of your
business who began it."

"I shall arrest you for a breach of the peace," said the policeman.

"I don't reckon you will. Do you see my nose? Look at it! Don't you see
that it is knocked into a cocked hat?" said Flanger fiercely.

"I see it is; but what has that to do with this matter?" asked the negro
officer.

"That man shot my nose off!" roared Flanger. "I am going to kill him for
it, if it costs me my head!"

"You shall not kill him here," protested the guardian of the peace. "You
have been drinking too much, sir, and you must go with me and get
sobered off."

The two policemen walked up to him with the intention of arresting him;
but he showed fight. He was too tipsy to make an effectual resistance.
His companions in the saloon huddled around him, and endeavored to
compel the policemen to let go their hold of him; but they held on to
their prisoner till two more officers came, and Flanger was dragged out
into the street, and then marched to the jail.

Christy was very much surprised that nothing was said to him by the
officers about the affair in which he had been one of the principal
actors. He had expected to be summoned as a witness against the prisoner
they had taken, but not a word was said to him. He looked about to see
if the detective was in sight, but he had disappeared.

"That was an ugly-looking man," said a gentleman in the street, after
the carousers had returned to the saloon. "I hope he has not injured
you."

"Not at all, sir; he was too drunk to do all he could have done if he
had been in full possession of his faculties, for he is a much heavier
person than I am," replied Christy. "Why was I not summoned as a witness
at his examination?"

"Oh, bless you, sir! they will not examine or try him; they will sober
him off, and then discharge him. He is the captain of that little
steamer near the public wharf. She is called the Snapper, and will sail
for the States on the high tide at five o'clock."

"Do you know to what port she is bound?" asked Christy.

"Mobile."

The young officer walked down to the public wharf to see the Snapper.



CHAPTER XIX

AN OLD ACQUAINTANCE


The Snapper was quite a small craft, and looked like an old vessel; for
she was a side-wheeler, though she had evidently been built for a
sea-going craft. Whether Flanger had escaped from the Bellevite after
being transferred to her from the Bronx, or had been regularly exchanged
as a prisoner of war, Christy had no means of knowing. It made little
difference; he was in Nassau, and he was thirsting for revenge against
him.

The young officer did not feel that the brutal wretch had any reasonable
cause to complain of him, and especially no right to revenge himself for
an injury received while his assailant was the aggressor. He had done
his duty to his country. He had been compelled to act promptly; and he
had not aimed his revolver particularly at the nose of his dangerous
assailant. Flanger was engaged in a foolhardy enterprise; and the
mutilation of his nasal member had resulted very naturally from his
folly.

His enemy was probably a good sailor, and he was a bold ruffian. Christy
had captured the steamer loaded with cotton, in which he was all ready
to sail from St. Andrew's Bay; and doubtless this was his first reason
for hating the young officer. But no soldier or sailor of character
would ever think of such a thing as revenging himself for an injury
received in the strife, especially if it was fairly inflicted. The
business of war is to kill, wound, and capture, as well as for each side
to injure the other in person and property to the extent of its ability.

"Want a boat, sir?" asked a negro, who saw that Christy was gazing at
the Snapper, even while he was thinking about his quarrel with Captain
Flanger.

"Where is your boat?" asked the officer.

"Right here, sir," replied the boatman, pointing to the steps at the
landing-place. "The best sailboat in the harbor, sir."

"I want to sail about this bay for a couple of hours," added Christy,
as he stopped on the upper step to examine the craft.

It was built exactly like the Eleuthera, though not quite so large.

"I saw you looking at the steamer there," said the boatman, pointing to
the vessel in which Christy was interested. "Do you wish to go on board
of her, sir?"

"No; I desire only to sail about the harbor, and perhaps go outside the
bar. Can you cross it in this boat?"

"Yes, sir; no trouble at all about crossing it in the Dinah. Take you
over to Eleuthera, if you like."

"No; I only want to sail about the harbor, and look at the vessels in
port," replied Christy.

While he was looking at the boat, he became conscious that a young man,
who was standing on the capsill of the wharf, was looking at him very
earnestly. He only glanced at him, but did not recognize him. He had
taken the first step in the descent of the stairs, when this person put
his hand upon his shoulder to attract his attention. Christy looked at
him, and was sure that he had seen him before, though he failed to
identify him.

"How are you, Christy?" said the stranger. "Don't you know me?"

"Your face has a familiar look to me, but I am unable to make you out at
first sight," replied the young officer, more puzzled as he examined the
features of the young man, who appeared to be about twenty years old.

"You and I both have grown a great deal in the last two years, since we
first met on this very wharf; but I am Percy Pierson, and you and I were
fellow-voyagers in the Bellevite."

"I think you have changed in that time more than I have, or I should
have recognized you," answered Christy very coldly, for he was not at
all pleased to be identified by any person.

"You are a good deal larger than when I saw you last time, but you look
just the same. I am glad to see you, Christy, for you and I ran a big
rig over in Mobile Bay," continued Percy, as he extended his hand to the
other.

Christy realized that it would be useless as well as foolish to deny his
identity to one who knew him so well. A moment's reflection assured him
that he must make the best of the circumstances; but he wished with all
his might that he had not come to Nassau. He was particularly glad that
he had insisted upon separating from Mr. Gilfleur, for the present
encounter would have ruined his mission. The young man's father was
Colonel Richard Pierson, a neighbor of Homer Passford; and he was a
Confederate commissioner for the purchase of vessels for the rebel navy,
for running the blockade. Doubtless the son was his father's assistant,
as he had been at the time of Christy's first visit.

Percy was not a person of very heavy brain calibre, as his companion had
learned from an association of several weeks with him. Christy believed
that he might obtain some useful information from him; and he decided,
since it was impossible to escape the interview, to make the best of it,
and he accepted the offered hand. He did not consider the young
Southerner as much of a rebel, for he had refused to shoulder a musket
and fight for the cause.

"I begin to see your former looks, and particularly your expression,"
said Christy. "I am very glad to see you, and I hope you have been very
well since we met last."

"Very well indeed."

"Do you live here, Percy?"

"I have lived here most of the time since we parted on board of the
Bellevite, and you put me on board of a schooner bound to Nassau. That
was a very good turn you did me, for I believed you would take me to New
York, and pitch me into a Yankee prison. I was very grateful to you, for
I know it was your influence that saved me."

This remark seemed to put a new face upon the meeting. Christy had done
nothing to cause him to be set free; for the Bellevite, though she had
beaten off several steamers that attempted to capture her, was not in
the regular service at the time, her mission in the South being simply
to bring home the daughter of her owner, who had passed the winter with
her uncle at Glenfield.

"I am very glad I was able to do you a good turn," replied Christy, who
considered it his duty to take advantage of the circumstances. "I am
just going out to take a sail; won't you join me?"

"Thank you; I shall be very glad to do so. I suppose you are a Yankee
still, engaged in the business of subjugating the free South, as I am
still a rebel to the backbone," replied Percy, laughing very pleasantly.

"But you are not in the rebel army now, any more than you were at that
time," added Christy in equally good humor.

"I am not. You know all about my army experience. My brother, the major,
sends me a letter by every chance he can get, and has offered to have my
indiscretion, as he called it, in leaving the camp, passed over, if I
will save the honor of the family by returning to the army; but my
father insists that I can render better service to the cause as his
assistant."

Christy led the way down the steps, and the two seated themselves in the
bow of the boat. The skipper shoved off after he had set his sails, and
the boat stood out towards the Snapper, for he could hardly avoid
passing quite near to her.

"What are you doing in Nassau, Christy?" asked Percy.

This was a hard question, and it was utterly impossible to make a
truthful reply without upsetting the plan of Mr. Gilfleur, and rendering
useless the voyage of the Chateaugay to the Bahamas.

"I am in just as bad a scrape as you were when you were caught on board
of the Bellevite," replied Christy after a moment's reflection.

"Are you a prisoner of war?"

"How could I be a prisoner in a neutral port like Nassau? No; I do not
regard myself as a prisoner just now," answered Christy very
good-humoredly.

"But you have been a prisoner, and you have escaped in some vessel that
run the blockade. I see it all; and you need not stop to explain it,"
said Percy, who flattered himself on his brilliant perception.

"The less I say about it the better it will be for me," added Christy,
willing to accept the situation as his companion had marked it out.

"But you must not let my father see you."

"I never met Colonel Pierson, though I saw him once, and he would not
know me if we should meet."

"Then don't let him know who you are."

"He will not know, unless you tell him."

"You may be very sure that I will not mention you to him, or to anybody
else, for that matter," replied Percy very earnestly.

But Christy did not put any confidence in his assertion. Percy was
really a deserter from the Confederate army, and he knew that he had in
several instances acted the traitor's part. He had more respect for an
out-and-out rebel than for one who shirked his duty to his country as he
understood it.

"I have been afraid some one might identify me here," suggested Christy,
determined not to over-act his part.

"I might help you out of the scrape," said Percy, who appeared to be
reflecting upon something that had come to his mind. "I suppose you are
aware that most of the vessels in this harbor, and those outside the
bar, are directly or indirectly interested in blockade-running."

"I supposed so, but I know nothing about it."

"Some of them have brought in cotton, with which others are loading for
England. My business as my father's clerk takes me on board of most of
them, and I know the captains and other officers very well. This little
steamer we have just passed was bought for a Mobile man by my father.
She carried a full cargo of goods into Mobile, and came out again full
of cotton. She is called the Snapper, and she is a regular snapper at
her business. She is now all loaded, and will sail on the next tide.
I am well acquainted with her captain."

"What sort of a man is he?" asked Christy in an indifferent tone.

"He is a very good fellow; bold as an eagle, and brave as a lion. He
drinks too much whiskey for his own good; but he knows all the ports on
the Gulf of Mexico, and he gets in or out in face of the blockaders
every time," answered Percy with enthusiasm.

"Did he never lose a vessel?"

"Never but one; that was the Floridian, and I reckon you know as much
about that affair as any other person, Christy," replied Percy, laughing
as though it had been a good joke on Captain Flanger.

"I know something about it."

"Your uncle, Colonel Passford, lost several vessels, and you had a hand
in their capture. But never mind that; you did me a good turn, and I
never go back on a friend. Now, my dear fellow, I do not think it will
be safe for you to remain here. You are looked upon as a dangerous
fellow along the Gulf coast, as Colonel Passford writes to my father;
and if my governor should get a hint that you were here, he would make a
business of getting you inside a Confederate prison."

"I am under the flag of England just now, and that is supposed to
protect neutrals."

"That's all very well, my dear fellow; but my governor could manage your
affair in some way. I can make a trade with the captain of the Snapper
to put you ashore at Key West."

"You are very kind, Percy."

"It will be necessary for you to buy a boat here, one with a sail, which
can be carried on the deck of the steamer," continued Percy, evidently
much interested in the scheme he was maturing.

At this moment the Dinah was passing under the stern of a steamer,
on which Christy read the name "Ovidio."



CHAPTER XX

A BAND OF RUFFIANS


The Ovidio was one of the vessels of which Captain Passford had obtained
information in New York, and by which the traitor merchant had at first
intended to send the machinery on board of the Ionian into the
Confederacy.

"That vessel flying the British flag appears to be a man-of-war," said
Christy.

"That is just what she is, confound her!" replied Percy bitterly. "She
is the Greyhound, and she has seized the Ovidio which we just passed;
but my father believes she will be released;" as in fact she was, after
a delay of two months.

"That looks a little like neutrality," added the naval officer.

"But what do you think of my scheme to get you out of this scrape before
you get into any trouble here?" asked Percy, who seemed to his companion
to be altogether too much interested in his plan. "Flanger is a friend
of mine, for I was able to render him a very important service, nothing
less than getting him the command of the Snapper."

"Of course I want to get out of the scrape."

"I suppose you haven't money enough to buy the boat, if you escaped from
a Confederate prison; but I will help you out on that by lending you
forty or fifty dollars."

"Thank you, Percy, you are behaving like a true friend, and I shall
remember you with gratitude," replied Christy, as earnestly as the
occasion seemed to require. "Do you think you can trust Captain Flanger
to put me in the way to get to Key West?"

"I am sure I can!" exclaimed the schemer warmly. "He would do anything
for me."

"But perhaps he would not do anything for me."

"I hope you don't mistrust my sincerity in this matter, my dear fellow,"
continued Percy, with an aggrieved expression on his face.

"Oh, no! Certainly not. I only suggested that your friend the captain
might not be as willing as you are to let me escape at Key West."

"I will guarantee his fidelity. I am as sure of him as I am of myself."

"All right, Percy, I will hold myself subject to your orders. But I
think you had better buy the boat, and put it on board of the Snapper,
for I could not do so without exposing myself," suggested Christy.
"I have some money that I concealed about me, and I will pay the bills
before I go on board of the steamer."

"I will do everything that is necessary to be done with the greatest
pleasure. Perhaps you had better go on board of the Snapper on our
return to the town. Then you will not be seen by any person," suggested
Percy with as much indifference as he could assume.

"What time will the steamer sail?"

"About five o'clock, which is high tide."

"It is only half-past one now; besides, I have to go up to the hotel for
my satchel, and to pay my bill. Where do you live, Percy?"

"We have a house on Frederick Street. At what hotel are you stopping?"

"At the Royal Victoria."

"What is the number of your room?" asked Percy.

"No. 44."

Christy was sharp enough to comprehend the object of these questions;
and, as a matter of precaution, he divided the number of his room by two
in making his reply.

"That makes an easy thing of it," continued Percy. "I will go to the
Royal Victoria at four o'clock, pay your bill and get your satchel.
I will meet you on the public wharf at half-past, and see that you have
a good stateroom in the cabin of the Snapper."

"That seems to be all very well arranged," added Christy.

"But I must see Captain Flanger before four o'clock. How much longer do
you intend to cruise in this boat?" asked the schemer, beginning to
manifest a little impatience.

The conversation had been carried on in a low tone at the bow of the
boat, where the boatman could not hear what was said.

"I think I am safer out here than I should be on shore," suggested
Christy. "I might meet some other person in the town who knows me."

"All right; but I ought to see Captain Flanger as soon as possible, for
I shall ask him to buy the boat," replied Percy uneasily. "You might
land me, and then sail another hour or two yourself."

"Very well; that will suit me exactly. Skipper, this gentleman wishes to
be put on shore; but I desire to sail another hour or two," said
Christy, addressing the boatman.

"All right, sir; I will go to the wharf if you say so, but I can put the
other gentleman into that boat which has just come over the bar. The
boatman is a friend of mine."

"Who is he, David?" asked Percy.

"Jim Peckson."

"I know him, and I will go up in his boat if you will hail him,"
answered the young Southerner. "I suppose the arrangement is well
understood," he added, dropping his voice so that the boatman could not
hear him. "You are to be on the public wharf at half-past four, when I
come down with your satchel."

"Perfectly understood," added the other.

David hailed his friend Jim Peckson, and Percy was transferred to his
boat. Christy felt an intense relief in getting rid of him. Of course he
had not the remotest idea of going on board of the Snapper, whose brutal
commander had declared that he would kill him. But he realized that
Nassau was not a safe place for him.

The boat crossed the bar, and the passenger took his seat by the side of
the boatman. David directed his boat towards the larger steamers
outside, which were loading with cotton from several small craft. They
were, doubtless, to convey it to England. Christy felt no interest in
these, for the voyages of the blockade-runners ended when they reached
the port of Nassau.

"Shall I sail you over to the sea-gardens now, sir?" asked David, when
his passenger intimated that he had seen enough of the vessels outside
the bar.

"Yes; anywhere you please, David. I don't care about going on shore
before dark," replied Christy.

The passenger was greatly interested in the sea-gardens, and for more
than an hour he gazed through the clear water at the sea-plants on the
bottom, and at the many-colored fishes that were swimming about in the
midst of them. He was desirous of using up the time until he could have
the covert of the friendly darkness. He looked at his watch, and found
it was nearly five o'clock.

"What time is it high tide, David?" he asked.

"Five o'clock, sir."

"Are there any steamers to sail to-day? I suppose they can go over the
bar only at full sea."

"Only small vessels can go over at any other time. The Snapper was to
sail at high tide."

"Then I think we will run down by the light, and see her come out of the
harbor," added Christy.

"I don't believe she will come out this afternoon, sir," said David.

"Why not?"

"Her captain got arrested for something. I saw four officers taking him
to the jail. Some one told me he was drunk, and had pitched into a
gentleman who was walking along the sidewalk in front of a saloon on Bay
Street."

"They will discharge him in time to sail on the tide, won't they?"

"I don't reckon they will. The men from the vessels in the harbor at
this time make heaps of trouble," replied David. "If the gentleman he
hit had a mind to complain of him, the court would lock him up for a
week or two."

Christy was not disposed, under the circumstances, to make a complaint.
The boat was soon in sight of the lighthouse and the bar. The Dinah made
a long stretch to the eastward, and was in sight of the entrance to the
harbor till it began to be dark; but no steamer came out on the high
tide. The boat crossed the bar again.

"Now, David, I want you to land me some distance beyond the public
wharf," said Christy. "How much shall I pay you for this sail?"

"About three dollars, sir, if you don't think that is too much,"
answered the boatman.

"That is very reasonable for the time you have been out; and there is a
sovereign," added the passenger, as he handed him the gold coin.

"I don't think I can change this piece, sir."

"You need not change it; keep the whole of it."

"Oh, thank you, sir! You are very generous, and I thank you with all my
heart. I don't often earn that much money in a whole day."

"All right, David; I am satisfied if you are."

"I am more than satisfied, sir. But where shall I land you?"

"I don't know the names of all the streets, but go to the eastward of
the public wharf."

"I can land you at the foot of Union Street."

"How will I get to the Royal Victoria Hotel?"

The boatman directed him so that he could find his destination. He was
somewhat afraid that Percy Pierson might be on the lookout for the
Dinah; but by this time it was so dark that he could hardly make her
out. David landed him at the place indicated, and he followed the
directions given him, which brought him to the east end of the hotel.
It was too early to meet Mr. Gilfleur, and he found the guests were at
dinner. He had eaten nothing since the lunch on board of the Eleuthera;
and, after he had looked in the faces of all the men at the table, he
took his place with them, and did full justice to the fare set before
him.

He did not venture to remain in the hotel. He desired to see the
detective, for he had decided not to remain another day in Nassau. As
long as Percy Pierson was in the town, it was not a safe place for him.
He had decided to make his way across the island to the nook where the
Eleuthera was concealed, and remain on board of her until the detective
returned. But he desired to see him, and report his intention to him,
so that he need not be concerned about him.

  [Illustration:
  "Two men sprang upon him." Page 233.]

Christy was entirely satisfied that he had correctly interpreted the
purpose of Percy to betray him into the hands of Captain Flanger. As he
was not on the public wharf at half-past four, doubtless he had been on
the lookout for him. He knew David, and his first step would be to find
him. The boatman would be likely to tell him that his fellow-passenger
in the Dinah had gone to the hotel. He visited the place arranged for
his meeting with Mr. Gilfleur; but it was in advance of the time, and he
was not there. He walked about the hotel grounds, careful to avoid every
person who came in his way.

In the darkness he saw a man approaching him, and he turned about,
walking away in the opposite direction. But presently this person moved
off towards the hotel, and he started again for the rendezvous with the
detective. He had gone but a short distance before two men sprang upon
him, one of them taking him in the rear, and hugging him so that he
could not move his arms. He began a mighty struggle; but two more men
came out of their hiding-place, and a pair of handcuffs were slipped
upon his wrists.

Then he attempted to call for assistance, but a handkerchief was
promptly stuffed into his mouth, and the ruffians hurried him out
through a narrow gateway to an unfrequented street, where a carriage
appeared to be in waiting for them.

"Drive to the beach back of Fort Montague," said one of them.

It was the voice of Captain Flanger.



CHAPTER XXI

A QUESTION OF NEUTRALITY


Even before he heard the voice of his savage enemy, Christy Passford
realized that he had fallen into the hands of the commander of the
Snapper. He was placed on the back seat of the carriage, with a pair of
handcuffs on his wrists, and a handkerchief in his mouth to do duty as a
gag. Captain Flanger was at his side, with two other men on the front
seat, and one on the box with the driver. Against these four men he was
powerless to make any resistance while he was in irons.

The carriage was drawn by two horses, and was considerably larger than
the ordinary victoria used in the town. It was quite dark, and though
the streets were flanked with many houses, hardly a person appeared to
be stirring at this hour. But a vehicle loaded down with the rough
visitors of the place could not be an unusual sight, for they were the
kind of people who were disposed to make the night hideous, as well as
the day.

Christy had struggled with all his might to shake off the ruffians who
beset him, and two more had come out from their concealment when he
thought he was making some progress in freeing himself from their grasp.
As soon as his wrists were ironed he realized that resistance was
useless, and that it could only increase his discomfort. It was a
terrible calamity to have fallen into the power of a man so brutal and
unscrupulous as Captain Flanger, bent upon revenging himself for the
mutilation of his most prominent facial member. He was certainly
disfigured for life, though the wound made by the ball from the revolver
had healed; but it was an ill-looking member, and he appeared to be
conscious of his facial deformity all the time.

The men in the carriage said nothing, and Christy way unable to speak.
They seemed to be afraid of attracting the attention of the few
passers-by in the streets, and of betraying the nature of the outrage in
which they were engaged. The streets in the more frequented parts of the
town were crowded with men, as the victim had been able to see, and he
hoped that they would come across some large collection of people. In
that case he decided to make a demonstration that would attract the
attention of the police, if nothing more.

He had no idea of the location of Fort Montague, to which the man on the
box had been ordered to drive them. The direction was to a beach near
the fort; and he had no doubt there would be a boat there in readiness
to convey him to the Snapper. But the farther the carriage proceeded,
the less frequented the streets became. He found no opportunity to make
his intended demonstration. His only hope now was that Mr. Gilfleur, who
must have been in the vicinity of the hotel, had witnessed the outrage,
and would interfere, as he had done on Bay Street, and save him from the
fate that was in store for him.

In a rather lonely place Christy discovered the outline in the darkness
of what looked like a fort. At the same moment he heard the distant
stroke of some public clock, striking nine o'clock. This was the time
appointed for the meeting with the detective, and he had been at the
place a quarter of an hour before, which fully explained why the
detective had not been there; and probably he had been in his room. This
conclusion seemed to cut off all hope that he had witnessed the attack
upon him.

The carriage stopped at the beach below the fort. It was the
bathing-place for the town, and at this hour it was entirely deserted.
The person on the box with the driver was the first to alight, and he
ran down to the water. He returned in a few minutes to the carriage, the
other ruffians retaining their places.

"The boat is not here yet, but it is coming," said this man, reporting
to the captain.

"All right; I told the mate to be here at nine o'clock, and it has just
struck that hour," replied Flanger. "Go down to the water, driver."

The vehicle moved down to the water's edge and stopped again. At the
same time the boat grated on the sand, and came to a halt a few feet
from the dry ground.

"We are all right now," said the person who had been with the driver on
the box; and this time Christy recognized his voice as that of Percy
Pierson.

He had not mistaken or misjudged him. He had not been able to understand
why the young man should befriend him, and it was clear enough now,
if it had not been before, that his gratitude towards him was a mere
pretence. Captain Passford, senior desired to get rid of him, and had
put him on board of the schooner for this reason only.

"Captain Passford, we meet again, as I was sure we should when we parted
in Nassau to-day," said the commander of the Snapper. "Now, if you will
take the trouble to get out of the carriage, we shall be able to make
you comfortable before we have done with you."

Christy attempted to speak; but the gag prevented him from articulating,
and he could not breathe as freely as usual. The captain drew the
handkerchief from his mouth, for there was no one within a long distance
of the spot to aid the prisoner if he had called for help. The victim
had fully determined to resign himself to his fate, and make the best of
the situation until an opportunity offered to effect his escape, though
he greatly feared that such an opportunity would not be presented.

"Thank you, Captain Flanger; I am much obliged to you for giving me a
better chance to breathe, though I suppose you are not very anxious that
I should continue to breathe," replied Christy, assuming a degree of
good nature which had no substantial foundation in reality. "On the
contrary, I dare say you intend to stop my breathing altogether as soon
as you find it convenient to do so."

"Not so; you can do all the breathing you want to, and I won't interfere
as long as you behave yourself," replied Captain Flanger in a more
civilized tone than his victim had heard him use before.

"But to-day noon you swore that you would kill me," added the prisoner,
much surprised at the change in the manner of the ruffian since they had
met on the sidewalk.

"I have altered my mind," replied the captain, leaving Christy in the
hands of his companions, and walking down to the boat, where the two men
in it seemed to be trying to find deeper water, so as to bring it nearer
to the shore.

"Well, how do you find yourself, Christy?" asked Percy, placing himself
in front of him.

"I haven't lost myself so far, and I am as comfortable as could be
expected under the circumstances," answered Christy, whose pride would
not permit him to show that he was overcome or cast down by the
misfortune which had overtaken him.

"You did not come to the public wharf as you promised to do at half-past
four o'clock this afternoon," Percy proceeded.

"I did not; David sailed me off to the sea-gardens, and we did not get
back to the town in season for me to keep the appointment."

"Then you intended to keep it?"

"I did not say so."

"I had the idea you were a fellow that kept all the promises he made,
even if it hurt him to do so."

"Do you think you would have kept your promise to have Captain Flanger
land me at Key West, if I had been weak enough to go on board of his
steamer?" demanded Christy.

"You are fighting on one side, and I am fighting on the other, Christy;
and I suppose either of us is justified in lying and breaking his
promises in the service of his country."

"You are fighting on your side at a very convenient distance from the
battle-ground, Percy."

"I am fighting here because I can render the best service to my country
in this particular place," replied the young Southerner with spirit.
"I am sure I could not do anything better for my country than send you
back to the Confederate prison from which you escaped."

"Even if you violate the neutrality of the place," suggested Christy.
"The British government was ready to declare war against the United
States when a couple of Confederate commissioners were taken out of an
English steamer by a man-of-war. Do you suppose that when this outrage
is known, England will not demand reparation, even to the restoring of
the victim to his original position on this island? I hope you have
considered the consequences of this violation of the neutrality of the
place."

"I don't bother my head about matters of that sort. I have talked about
it with my father, and I think he understands himself," replied Percy
very flippantly.

"I don't think he does. I have the same rights in Nassau that you and
your father possess. You are carrying on the war on neutral ground; and
no nation would permit that."

"I am no lawyer, Christy. I only know that you have done a great deal of
mischief to our cause in the Gulf, as set forth in the letters of your
uncle to my father."

"But I have fought my battles in the enemy's country, or on the open
sea; and I have not done it while skulking under a neutral flag,"
replied the naval officer, with quite as much spirit as his adversary in
the debate. "You and Captain Flanger, with the co-operation of your
father, it appears, are engaged in a flagrant outrage against the
sovereignty of England."

"My father has nothing to do with it; I will take back what I said about
him," added Percy, evidently alarmed at the strength of the argument
against him.

"You told me that you had talked with your father about the case."

"But I withdraw that statement; he knows nothing about it."

"You make two diametrically opposite statements; and I am justified in
accepting the one that suits me best as the truth. If Captain Flanger
does not hang me to the yard-arm as soon as he gets me into blue water,
I shall make my complaint to the United States government as soon as I
have an opportunity to do so; and I have no doubt you and your father
will have permission to leave Nassau, never to return."

Percy was silent, and appeared to be in deep thought. Captain Flanger
had returned to the spot from the boat, and had listened to the last
part of the discussion.

"Captain Flanger understands enough of international law to see that I
am right," continued Christy, when Percy made no reply.

"The people here treat us very handsomely, my little larky," said
Captain Flanger, with a coarse laugh. "I am not to be scared out of my
game by any such bugbears as you talk about. But I am willing to say
this, my little rooster: I have no intention to hang you to the
yard-arm, as you hinted that I might."

"At noon to-day you swore that you would kill me."

"I have altered my mind, as I told you before," growled the commander of
the Snapper, with very ill grace, as though he was ashamed because he
had abandoned his purpose to commit a murder. "I am not what you call a
temperance man; and when I get ashore, and in good company, I sometimes
take a little more good whiskey than it is prudent; but I don't drink
anything on board of my ship. To cut it short, I was a little too much
in the wind when I said I was going to kill you. I am sober now."

"I think you must be able to see what the consequences of murdering a
person captured on British soil would be, Captain Flanger," suggested
Christy.

"As I have told you twice before, I do not intend to murder you," said
the captain angrily. "I am going to put you back in the prison from
which you escaped; that's all. No more talk; take him to the boat."

The two men at Christy's side marched him down to the boat, and seated
him in the stern. The rest of the party took places, and shoved off. In
half an hour the boat was alongside the Snapper.



CHAPTER XXII

ON BOARD OF THE SNAPPER


Christy could not help seeing that a great change had come over the
manner of Captain Flanger, especially in his repeated declarations that
he did not intend to kill his prisoner. His thirst for revenge could
hardly have abated as the effect of his cups passed off, and it was
evident to the victim of the outrage that some other influence had been
brought to bear upon him. It did not seem possible to him that Percy
Pierson could have modified his vindictive nature to this degree.

The young man's father could not fail to see the peril of the step his
son was taking, though he appeared not to have been able to resist the
temptation to get rid of such an active enemy as Christy had proved
himself to be. It looked plain enough to the victim, as he considered
the situation, that Colonel Pierson's influence had produced the change
in the intentions of Captain Flanger. If the prisoner were brutally
treated, and especially if his life were taken, it would make the breach
of neutrality so much the more flagrant.

"Help the young cub on board," said the captain, as he went up the
accommodation ladder, followed by Percy.

With his wrists fettered with a pair of handcuffs, Christy needed
assistance to mount the vessel's side. He was handled with more
consideration than he expected, and reached the deck without any injury.
By the order of the captain he was conducted to the cabin, where he
seated himself on a stool near the companion-way. A few minutes later
Percy came down the steps with a valise in his hand, which he deposited
in one of the staterooms.

"I am your fellow-passenger, Christy," said he, when he came out of the
room. "I hope we shall be good friends."

"After the treachery which has been practised upon me to-day, there
cannot be much love wasted between us, though I am not disposed to be a
bear, even under the present unfavorable circumstances," replied the
prisoner. "I suppose this steamer is to run the blockade?"

"Of course she is to run the blockade; how else could she get into
Mobile?" replied Percy.

"You can bet your worthless life she is going to run the blockade, and
you may be sure that she will get in too," added Captain Flanger, who
came into the cabin at the moment the question was asked.

"By the way, Christy, from what prison in the Confederacy did you make
your escape?"

"If you will excuse me, I prefer to answer no questions."

"Just as you please, my boy. We shall know all about it when we get to
Mobile," said Percy lightly. "I am going home for a few days to see my
mother, who is in feeble health. I don't want to quarrel with you; and
if I can be of any service to you after we get into port, I shall be
happy to do so. We sail at about five o'clock in the morning, on the
high tide."

"Captain Passford," began the commander, in a more subdued tone than the
prisoner had ever heard him use.

"That title does not apply to me now, Captain Flanger," Christy
interposed. "If I ever get back to my duty on shipboard, it will be as
second lieutenant of the Bellevite."

"Mr. Passford, if that suits you better, I was going to say that I mean
to treat you like a gentleman, whether you are one or not, in spite of
my shattered and battered nose," added the captain.

"I do not consider myself responsible for the condition of your nose,
Captain Flanger. At the time you received that wound you were engaged in
a daring adventure, with two revolvers in your hands, ready to blow my
brains out. It was war, and I did nothing but my plain duty; and even in
a time of peace I had the natural right to defend myself, and save my
own life, even at the sacrifice of yours, as you were the assailant,"
argued Christy quite warmly. "You would have put a ball through my head
or heart if I had not fired at the moment I did."

"Why didn't you shoot me like a gentleman, and not blow my nose off?"
demanded the captain bitterly.

"I had to fire in a hurry; and I did not aim at your nose. I could only
discharge my weapon on the instant, and I had no time to aim at any
particular part of you. I intended simply to cover your head."

"But you blowed my nose off all the same."

"I had no grudge against your nose. Do you think it would be honorable
for a soldier to revenge himself on neutral ground for a wound received
in the field?"

"But it was a sneaking Yankee trick to shoot at a man's nose, even in a
square battle by sea or by land," protested the captain with a rattling
oath.

It was useless to discuss the matter with such a man, though he had
probably been charged by Colonel Pierson not to do his prisoner any
injury, and Christy relapsed into silence.

"If you propose to treat me like a gentleman, whether I am one or not,
may I ask where you propose to berth me, for I am very much fatigued
to-night?" asked the prisoner later in the evening.

"I mean to give you as good a stateroom as I have myself; but it will
contain two berths, and the mate will occupy the lower one, to prevent
you from escaping, if you should take it into your head to do so,"
replied the captain, as he opened the door of one of the rooms.

"I can hardly get into the upper berth with my wrists ironed," said the
prisoner, exhibiting his fetters.

"That is so," replied the captain, taking the key of the manacles from
his pocket and removing them. "But I warn you that any attempt to escape
may get you into a worse scrape than you are in now. When we get to sea
you shall have your liberty."

"Thank you, Captain, for this indulgence. I suppose you will not make a
long voyage of it to Mobile. I presume you go to the northward of Great
Abaco Island?" asked Christy, though he hardly expected to receive an
answer to his question.

"Why do you presume such a stupid idea as that?" demanded the captain,
who seemed to regard the inquiry as an imputation upon his seamanship;
and the inquirer had put the question to provoke an answer. "I have been
sailing nearly all my life in these waters, and I know where I am. Why
should I add three hundred miles to my voyage when there is no reason
for it?"

"I am not much acquainted down here."

"I shall go through the North-west, or Providence Channel."

Captain Flanger did not know that the steamer Chateaugay was cruising
somewhere in the vicinity of the Bahamas; but his prisoner did know it,
and the information given him was not pleasant or satisfactory. Captain
Chantor had told him that he intended to stand off and to the eastward
of Great Abaco, and he had been cherishing a hope that he would fall in
with the Snapper, though he might not find evidence enough on board of
her to warrant her capture.

If he fell in with the steamer, he would be likely to examine her; and
that would lead to the release of the involuntary passenger. But if the
Snapper went through the Providence Channel, the Chateaugay would not be
likely to fall in with her. It looked to the unfortunate officer as
though he was booked for a rebel prison. He could see no hope of escape,
though he was duly grateful for the change which had come over his
vicious persecutor. If he was allowed his liberty, he might find some
avenue of escape open. It was useless to groan over his fate, and he did
not groan; but he had come to the conclusion that it would be a long
time before he took possession of his stateroom in the ward room of the
Bellevite.

Availing himself of the permission given to him, he went into the room,
and turned in with his clothes on, so that he might be in readiness for
any event. Mr. Gilfleur would miss him at the rendezvous agreed upon;
but he would have no means of knowing that anything had happened to him.
Tired as he was, he was not inclined to sleep. Presently he heard a
conversation which was not intended for his ears, for it was carried on
in very low tones.

"Do you know, Captain Flanger, that I believe we are getting into a very
bad scrape?" said Percy Pierson in a subdued tone.

"What are you afraid of?" demanded the captain, in a voice hardly above
a whisper.

"My father refused at first to permit the capture of Passford," added
Percy. "He would consent to it only after you had promised to treat him
well."

"I am treating him as well as I know how, though it goes against my
grain. We will get him into the jail in Mobile, and keep him there till
the Yankees have acknowledged the independence of the Confederacy, and
paid for all the damage they have done to our country. How is any one in
Washington or London to know anything about this little affair of
to-night?"

"I don't know how; but if it should get out, the Yankees would make an
awful row, and England would be obliged to do something about it."

"But we must make sure that it does not get out. The young cub has a
deal of spirit and pluck, and he would not live long if he were shut up
on such rations as our men have."

Percy seemed to be better satisfied than he had been, and the
conversation turned to other subjects in which the listener had no
interest. Without much of an effort he turned over and went to sleep.
When he woke in the morning he heard the tramp of footsteps on the deck
over his head, and he concluded that the steamer was getting under way.
If the mate had slept in the berth below him, he had not seen or heard
him. He leaped out of the bed, and descended to the floor. When he tried
the door he found that it was locked.

Presently he heard the movement of the screw, and felt the motion of the
vessel. There was a port light to the room, and he placed himself where
he could see out at it. But there was nothing to be seen which afforded
him any hope of comfort. There must be a pilot on board, and he began to
wonder if there could be any way to communicate with him. He took from
his pocket a piece of paper and pencil. He wrote a brief statement of
the outrage which had been perpetrated upon him, folded the paper, and
put it in his vest pocket, where he could readily slip it into the hand
of the pilot, if he found the opportunity to do so. The captain had
promised to give him his liberty when the vessel got out to sea, and he
hoped to be able to go on deck before the pilot left the steamer.

The Snapper continued to go ahead, and in a short time she made a sort
of a plunge, as she went over the bar. The motion of the steamer began
to be rather violent, and Christy saw through the port the white caps
that indicated a strong north-west wind. When the vessel had continued
on her course for a couple of hours, she stopped, and the prisoner saw
the pilot boat drop astern a little later. The opportunity to deliver
his statement had passed by, and he tore up the paper, keeping the
fragments in his pocket, so that they should not expose his intention.

He had scarcely destroyed the paper before his door was thrown open by
Percy Pierson, who informed him that he was at liberty to go on deck if
he wished to do so. He accepted the permission. He could see the land in
the distance in several directions, but he had no interest in anything.
He was called to breakfast soon after, and he took a hearty meal, for
the situation had not yet affected his appetite. In the middle of the
forenoon, with the light at Hole in the Wall on the starboard, and that
on Stirrup Cay on the port, the course of the Snapper was changed to the
north-west.

At this point Christy discovered a three-masted steamer, which had also
excited the attention of Captain Flanger. It looked like the Chateaugay;
and the prisoner's heart bounded with emotion.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE CHATEAUGAY IN THE DISTANCE


The steamer which Christy had discovered was a long distance from the
Snapper. She had just come about, and this movement had enabled the
prisoner to see that she had three masts; but that was really all there
was to lead him to suppose she was the Chateaugay. She was too far off
for him to make her out; and if he had not known that she was cruising
to the eastward of the Bahamas, it would not have occurred to him that
she was the steamer in which he had been a passenger two days before.

Captain Flanger discovered the sail a few minutes later, and fixed his
attention upon it. In the business in which he was engaged it was
necessary to practise the most unceasing vigilance. But, at this
distance from any Confederate port, the commander of the steamer did not
appear to be greatly disturbed at the sight of a distant sail, believing
that his danger was nearer the shores of the Southern States. Doubtless
he had papers of some sort which would show that his vessel had cleared
for Havana, or some port on the Gulf of Mexico.

Christy did not deem it wise to manifest any interest in the distant
sail, and, fixing his gaze upon the deck-planks, he continued to walk
back and forth, as he was doing when he discovered the steamer. He had
not been able to make out her course. He had first seen her when she was
in the act of turning, obtaining only a glance at the three masts.
Whether or not she was "end-on" for the Snapper, he could not determine,
and Captain Flanger seemed to be studying up this question with no
little earnestness.

The principal mission in these waters of the Chateaugay was to look up
the Ovidio, of which Captain Passford in New York had obtained some
information through his agents. This vessel was not simply a
blockade-runner, but was intended for a cruiser, though she had sailed
from Scotland without an armament. It was known that she would proceed
to Nassau, and this fact had suggested to Mr. Gilfleur his visit to that
port to obtain reliable information in regard to her, as well as
incidentally to look into the methods of fitting out vessels for running
the blockade.

Captain Chantor was expecting to fall in with the Ovidio, even before
the return of his two passengers. He did not believe the authorities at
Nassau would permit her to take on board an armament at that port; but a
rendezvous had probably been arranged, where she was to receive her guns
and ammunition. But the only safe channel for any vessel to get to the
deep sea from Nassau was by the one that had received the name of
Providence. This channel is a continuation of what is called "The Tongue
of the Ocean," which extends over a hundred miles south of New
Providence, a hundred and fifty fathoms in depth, and bordered by
innumerable cays, reefs, and very shoal water.

South of Great Abaco Island, this channel, from thirty to forty miles
wide, divides into the North-east and North-west Channels, and all
vessels of any great draught can safely get out to sea only through one
of them. It was evident enough to Captain Chantor, who was familiar with
the navigation of these seas, that the Ovidio must come out through one
of the channels indicated. Christy had talked with the commander of the
Chateaugay in regard to these passages, and knew that it was his
intention to keep a close watch over them.

He could not be sure that the steamer in the distance was the
Chateaugay; but the more he recalled what had passed between himself and
Captain Chantor, and considered the situation, the stronger became his
hope that it was she. He was sure that she had come about, and he
reasoned that she had done so when her commander ascertained that the
steamer he had sighted laid her course through the North-west Channel.
This was as far as he could carry his speculations.

Without understanding the situation as well as did his prisoner, Captain
Flanger seemed to be nervous and uneasy. He watched the distant sail for
a long time, sent for his spy-glass and examined her, and then began to
plank the deck. When he came abreast of Christy he stopped.

"Do you see that sail off to the eastward, Mr. Passford?"

"I see it now, Captain," replied the prisoner, as indifferently as
possible, for he felt that it would be very imprudent to manifest any
interest in the matter.

"Can you make out what she is?" continued the captain.

"I cannot; she must be eight or ten miles from us," replied Christy,
as he glanced to the eastward.

"I shouldn't wonder if that was one of your Yankee gunboats," added
Captain Flanger, spicing his remark with a heavy oath, for he could
hardly say anything without interlarding his speech with profanity.

"It may be, for aught I know," replied the prisoner with something like
a yawn.

"Whatever she is, the Snapper can run away from her, and you need not
flatter yourself that there is any chance for you to escape from a
Confederate prison; and when they get you into it, they will hold on
very tight."

"I must take things as they come," added Christy.

He wanted to ask the captain why he wondered if the sail was a Yankee
gunboat, but he did not think it would be prudent to do so. The captain
seemed to have, or pretended to have, great confidence in the speed of
the Snapper. When he left his prisoner he went to the engine-room, and
it was soon evident from the jar and shake of the vessel that he had
instructed the chief engineer to increase the speed.

Christy watched the distant sail for about three hours before he could
come to any conclusion. At the end of this time he was satisfied that
the three-masted steamer was gaining very decidedly upon the Snapper. He
began to cherish a very lively hope that the sail would prove to be the
Chateaugay. Captain Flanger remained on deck all the forenoon, and every
hour that elapsed found him more nervous and excitable.

"I reckon that's a Yankee gunboat astern of us, Mr. Passford; but I am
going to get away from her," said the captain, as they sat down to
dinner.

"Is she gaining upon you, Captain?" asked Christy.

"I don't think she is; but if she does get any nearer to us, I shall
give her the slip. The Snapper is going into Mobile Bay as sure as you
live. You can bet your life on it," insisted the captain.

Christy was not disposed to converse on the subject, and he began to
wonder in what manner the Snapper could give her pursuer the slip. The
former was the smaller vessel, and probably did not draw over fourteen
feet of water, if she did more than twelve. It might be possible for her
to run into shoal water where the pursuer could not follow her.

After the dinner table was cleared off, the captain seated himself at it
with a chart spread out before him. It was plain enough that he was
devising some expedient to escape the three-master. Christy did not deem
it prudent to observe him, and he went on deck. It was as clear as the
daylight that the pursuer was gaining rapidly upon the Snapper; and the
prisoner did not believe that the latter was making over twelve knots.

By this time seven hours had elapsed since the distant sail had come in
sight, and she was now near enough for the prisoner to be sure that she
was the Chateaugay. She could make sixteen knots when driven at her
best, and she must be gaining four or five knots an hour on the chase.
Christy had been through this channel in the Bellevite, and he
discovered that the steamer was running near the shoal water. Presently
the captain came on deck, and he appeared to be less nervous than
before, perhaps because he had arranged his plan to escape his pursuer.

Within an hour Christy recognized the East Isaac, a rock rising ten or
twelve feet above the surface of the water, which he identified by its
nearness to one over which the sea was breaking. The captain was too
much occupied in the study of the surroundings to take any notice of
him, and he endeavored to keep out of his sight.

The prisoner consulted his watch, and found it was four o'clock. The
tower of the Great Isaac light could just be made out. The Chateaugay
was not more than four miles astern of the Snapper, and in another hour
she would certainly come up with her, if Captain Flanger did not put his
plan into execution. The course of the chase continued to bring her
nearer to the reefs.

"Ring one bell!" shouted the captain to the quartermaster at the wheel.

The effect of one bell was to reduce the speed of the Snapper by
one-half. The order to put the helm hard a starboard followed in a short
time. The course was made about south, and the steamer went ahead
slowly. Two men in the chains were heaving the lead constantly. They
were reporting four and five fathoms. After the vessel had gone five or
six miles on this course, it was changed to about south-west. She was
then moving in a direction directly opposite to that of the Chateaugay,
and the anxious prisoner could see the man-of-war across the reefs which
lifted their heads above the water, very nearly abreast of the Snapper,
though at least ten miles distant from her.

"Do you know what steamer that is, Mr. Passford?" asked Captain Flanger,
coming aft, apparently for the purpose of finding him.

"How should I know, Captain?" asked Christy.

"I thought you might know her by sight."

"I could hardly be expected to know all the ships in the United States
navy by sight, Captain, for there are a great many of them by this
time."

"All right; she looks like a pretty large vessel, and the bigger the
better. I hope you won't get up a disappointment for yourself by
expecting that you are going to get out of this scrape," said Captain
Flanger, and there was a great deal of bitterness in his tones.

"I am taking things as they come, Captain."

"The Snapper is not a man-of-war, and she is engaged in a peaceful
voyage. If that fellow thinks of capturing me, he is reckoning without
his host. He has no more right to make a prize of me than he has to
murder me," protested the captain, as he gave the order to hoist the
British flag.

"Of course you know your business better than I do, Captain Flanger, and
I don't propose to interfere with it," replied Christy.

The commander walked forward again, giving the order to the
quartermaster to ring two bells, which presently brought the steamer to
a full stop, quite near the rocks which were awash to the northward of
her. As the captain moved forward he encountered the first officer in
the waist, who addressed him, and they began a conversation, none of
which Christy could hear. From the looks and gestures of the mate, he
concluded that they were talking about him.

It was not difficult to imagine the subject of the conversation, and it
was evident to Christy that the first officer had suggested an idea to
his commander. While he was waiting impatiently to ascertain what the
Chateaugay would do next, Percy Pierson came on deck looking very pale,
for it had been reported at breakfast that he was very sea-sick.

"How are you, Christy?" asked the Southerner.

"I am very well, I thank you."

"Haven't you been sea-sick?" asked the invalid.

"Of course not; I never was sea-sick."

"But what has the steamer stopped for?" asked Percy, looking about him.

"Captain Flanger seems to think that vessel over there is a United
States man-of-war."

"Will she capture the Snapper?" asked the sufferer, looking paler than
before.

At this moment a boat was lowered from the davits into the water, and
Christy was invited by the mate to take a seat in the stern sheets. He
was astounded at this request, and wondered what it meant.



CHAPTER XXIV

THE TABLES TURNED


Christy understood the character of Captain Flanger well enough to be
confident he meant mischief to him in getting him into the boat. He
concluded that this movement was the result of the conference with the
mate. He had a suspicion that his terrible enemy intended to drown him,
or get rid of him in some other manner.

"May I ask where I am to be taken in the boat, Mr. Dawbin?" asked the
prisoner, suppressing as much as he could the excitement that disturbed
him.

"I give you leave to ask, but I cannot answer you," replied the mate.

"If you intend to put me on board of that steamer, it can do no harm to
say so, I think," added Christy.

"If you will excuse me, Mr. Passford, I cannot answer any questions.
I ask you again to get into the boat," said Mr. Dawbin.

"Well, sir, suppose I decline to do so?"

"Then I shall be compelled to use force, and tumble you into the boat in
the best way I can, with the assistance of my men."

"If you intend to murder me, why can't you do the deed here on deck?"
demanded the prisoner.

"I don't intend to murder you."

"That is some consolation. That lighthouse on the Great Isaac is the
only place to which you can convey me, and that is sixteen miles from
this steamer. I can't believe you intend to pull me that distance."

"No fooling there!" shouted the captain. "What are you waiting for, Mr.
Dawbin? Why don't you obey my order?"

"The fellow wants to talk," replied the mate.

"If he won't get into the boat, pitch him into it like a dead dog!"

Christy saw that it was useless to resist, though he had a revolver in
his pocket which had not been taken from him, for he had not been
searched. The mate and two sailors stood in front of him, and he
realized that he could accomplish nothing by resistance under present
circumstances. He thought he could do better in the boat after it was
beyond the reach of any reinforcements from the steamer. He went over
the side, and took his place in the stern sheets.

The mate followed him, and the two men, one of whom was hardly more than
a boy, took their places on the thwarts. The boat was shoved off, and
the prisoner had an immediate interest in the course it was about to
steer. The mate arranged the tiller lines, and then looked about him.

He directed his gaze towards the north, and seemed to be trying to find
some object or point. He satisfied himself in some manner, and then
resumed his seat, from which he had risen in order to obtain a better
view over the waves. The passenger had watched him closely, and found
that his vision had been directed towards the rocks awash and the East
Isaac rock. Towards these objects he steered the boat. The Chateaugay
was at least three miles to the eastward of these rocks.

Christy watched the course of the boat long enough to satisfy himself
that it was headed for the rocks, which were awash at high tide, though
they now looked like a minute island. There could be but one object in
visiting this locality: and that must be to leave him on that desolate
reef. The wind was still fresh from the north-west, and the spray was
dashed over the rocks in a manner which suggested that a human being
could not remain long on it after the tide was high without being
washed off. It was little better than murder to leave him there, and he
knew very well that Captain Flanger would shed no tears if assured that
his troublesome prisoner was no more.

Christy decided that he would not be left on the reef, or even on the
top of the East Isaac, which might be a drier place, though hardly more
comfortable. It must have been Mr. Dawbin who had suggested the idea of
landing him on the reef, for there was no other place nearer than the
Great Isaac light. Captain Flanger had boasted that he sailed a vessel
on a peaceful mission, and that the commander of the Chateaugay had no
more right to capture him than he had to murder him. But the prisoner
knew that the Snapper was to run the blockade, and was bound to Mobile,
for the captain had told him so himself.

The commander could now see the folly of his boast. He had not expected
to encounter a United States man-of-war in the Bahamas. His prisoner was
a naval officer, and would be a strong witness against him. Upon his
testimony, and such other evidence as the cargo and other circumstances
might supply, the captain of the steamer in the channel might feel
justified in making a prize of the Snapper. It was necessary, therefore,
to remove this witness against him. As Christy had imagined, the captain
had not thought of his prisoner as a witness, and the mate had suggested
it to him.

"I suppose I need not ask you what is to be done with me, for that is
sufficiently apparent now," said Christy, more to engage the attention
of the mate than for any other reason.

"You can form your own conclusion," replied Mr. Dawbin.

"You intend to leave me on that reef ahead, and doubtless you expect me
to be washed off and drowned, or starved to death there," added the
prisoner. "I can't see why you take all this trouble when you could more
conveniently blow my brains out."

"The captain has promised not to harm you, Mr. Passford, and he will
keep his word," replied the mate with very ill grace.

"I consider it worse than murder to leave me on that reef, or any of
these rocks, Mr. Dawbin. Since I understand your intention, I might as
well put a bullet through my own head, and save myself from all the
suffering in store for me," said Christy, assuming the manner of one
rendered desperate by his situation. "Have you a revolver in your
pocket?"

"I have not a revolver in my pocket; and if I had I should not lend it
to you to shoot yourself," replied the mate.

Mr. Dawbin had no revolver in his pocket, and that was all the prisoner
had been driving at. He was equally confident that neither of the
sailors was armed, for he had looked them over to see if there was any
appearance of pistols in their pockets.

"You are making altogether too much fuss over this little matter, Mr.
Passford. The captain desires you to remain on one of these rocks till
he gets through his business with the commander of that steamer in the
channel, which is now headed for the Snapper," the mate explained. "When
that is finished we will take you off and proceed on our voyage."

"You had better put a bullet through my head."

"I don't think so. It is no great hardship for you to stay a few hours
on that rock. You have had your dinner, and you will not starve to
death. I don't think you will have to stay there long, for that steamer
draws too much water to come in among these reefs, and she will be hard
and fast on one of the shoals before she goes much farther."

"Possibly her captain knows what he is about as well as you do,"
suggested Christy.

"I don't believe he does. There isn't a fathom of water on some of these
shoals."

But the Chateaugay kept on her course, though she proceeded very slowly.
When she was off the Gingerbread Cay she stopped her screw, and she was
near enough for the observer to see that she was lowering at least two
boats into the water. In a few minutes more they were seen pulling
towards the Snapper, whose boat was now very near the reef which had
been selected as the prisoner's abiding-place. A few minutes later the
keel ground on the coral rock.

"Jump ashore, both of you, and take the painter with you, my men," said
the mate, when the boat stuck about six feet from the top of the ledge.

The two sailors waded to the highest part of the reef, and began to haul
in on the painter; but they could not get it anything less than three
feet from the rock.

"We can't get the boat any nearer, Mr. Passford; but you are a vigorous
young man, and you can easily leap to the rock," said Mr. Dawbin.

"Do you think you could leap to the ledge?" asked Christy, looking him
sharp in the eye.

"I know I could."

"Let me see you try it, Mr. Dawbin," replied Christy, with his right
hand on his revolver.

"Come, come! Mr. Passford. No fooling. I have no time to spare," growled
the mate.

"I am not fooling. As you consider it no hardship to pass a few hours on
that rock, I am going to trouble you to take my place there."

"No nonsense! I am not to be trifled with!"

"Neither am I," added the prisoner, as he drew out his weapon, and aimed
it at the head of the mate. "You can take your choice between the rock
and a ball from my revolver, Mr. Dawbin."

"Do you mean to murder me?" demanded the mate.

"I hope you will not compel me to do so harsh a thing as that. But no
fooling! I have no time to spare. Jump on the rock, or I will fire
before you are ten seconds older!" said Christy resolutely.

"Come back into the boat, men!" shouted the officer.

"The first one that comes any nearer the boat is a dead man!" added the
prisoner, "Five seconds gone, Mr. Dawbin."

The mate did not wait for anything more, but made the leap to the rock.
He accomplished it so hastily that he fell when he struck the ledge; but
the impetus he had given the boat forced it from the rock, and sent it a
considerable distance. Christy restored the revolver to his pocket, and,
taking one of the oars, he sculled towards the Chateaugay, which was now
much nearer than the Snapper. The two boats from the man-of-war took no
notice of him, and perhaps did not see him.

Taking out his white handkerchief he attached it to the blade of one of
the oars, and waved it with all his might in the direction of the
steamer. He set it up in the mast-hole through the forward thwart, and
then continued to scull. But his signal was soon seen, and a boat came
off from the steamer.

  [Illustration:
  "Jump on the rock or I will fire before you are ten seconds older."
  Page 276.]

"Boat ahoy!" shouted the officer in charge of the cutter.

"In the boat!" replied Christy, turning around as he suspended his labor
with the oar.

"Lieutenant Passford!" exclaimed Mr. Hackling, the second lieutenant of
the Chateaugay. "Is it possible that it is you?"

"I haven't any doubt of it, Mr. Hackling, if you have," replied the late
prisoner, heartily rejoiced to find himself in good company again.

"But what does this mean? How do you happen to be here?" demanded the
astonished lieutenant of the ship.

"I happen to be here because I have just played a sharp game. I was a
prisoner on that steamer yonder, on my way to a rebel prison. But I
think it is necessary that I should report immediately to Captain
Chantor in regard to the character of the Snapper, which is the name of
the vessel you have been chasing."

The Snapper's boat was taken in tow, and the crew of the cutter gave way
with a will. In due time Christy was received with the most unbounded
astonishment by the commander on the deck of the Chateaugay.

"Where is Mr. Gilfleur? I hope that no accident has happened to him,"
said the captain with deep anxiety on his face.

"None that I am aware of; but if you will excuse me from explanations
for the present, I will state that the steamer on the bank is the
Snapper, Captain Flanger, bound for Mobile; and the captain told me that
he intended to run the blockade."

"Mr. Hackling, take charge of the second cutter, and give Mr. Birdwing
my order to make a prize of that steamer, and bring her off to the deep
water."

It was quite dark when this order was executed.



CHAPTER XXV

CAPTAIN FLANGER IN IRONS


Christy Passford related to Captain Chantor all that had occurred to the
detective and himself from the time of their departure from the ship to
their parting on the shore; and he did not fail to mention the fact that
Mr. Gilfleur had come to his assistance when he was assaulted by the
ruffian in front of the saloon.

"You have had a narrow escape, Mr. Passford," said the commander, when
he had concluded. "The idea of avenging an injury received in that way
is something I never happened to hear of before, though my experience is
not unlimited. Mr. Birdwing," he continued, after the first lieutenant
had reported to him, "had you any difficulty in effecting the capture of
the Snapper?"

"Only with the captain; for my force was sufficient to have taken her if
she had been fully armed and manned. There was no fighting; but I was
obliged to put the captain in irons, for he was about the ugliest and
most unreasonable man I ever encountered," replied the chief of the boat
expedition. "I was not at all satisfied that the steamer was a fit
subject for capture till your order came to me, brought by Mr. Hackling.
Then Captain Flanger not only protested, with more bad language than I
ever before heard in the same time, but he absolutely refused to yield.
I could not give him the reasons that induced you to send me the order,
and I referred the matter to you."

The Snapper had been anchored within a cable's length of the Chateaugay,
and Mr. Birdwing had brought Captain Flanger on board of the ship, with
Percy Pierson, that the question of prize might be definitely settled by
the commander, for he was not quite satisfied himself. The captain of
the Snapper was still in irons, and he and his companion had been put
under guard in the waist. The man with the mutilated nose had not yet
seen Christy, and possibly he was still wondering what had become of his
chief officer and the two men who had been ordered to put the prisoner
on the ledge.

Christy had informed Captain Chantor, in his narrative, of the manner in
which he had turned the tables on his custodians, and he had not
forgotten that the party were still where he had left them. He reminded
the commander of the latter fact, and a quartermaster was sent in the
third cutter to bring them off, and put them on board of the Snapper;
where a considerable force still remained under the charge of Mr.
Carlin, the third lieutenant.

"Now we will settle this matter with the captain of the Snapper, and I
hope to convince him that his vessel is a lawful prize, so far as she
can be so declared in advance of the decision of the court," said
Captain Chantor. "Come with me, if you please, Mr. Birdwing. For the
present, Mr. Passford, will you oblige me by keeping in the shade till I
send for you?"

"Certainly, Captain Chantor, though I should like to hear what Captain
Flanger has to say in defence of his steamer," replied the passenger.
"But I will take care not to show myself to him till you are ready for
me."

"I do not object to that arrangement. I do not quite understand who this
Percy Pierson is, though you mentioned him in your report of what had
occurred during your absence," added the commander.

"He is the son of Colonel Richard Pierson, a Confederate commissioner,
who represents his government at Nassau, purchasing vessels as
opportunity to do so is found. His son is the person who tried to induce
me to take passage in the Snapper, with the promise that I should be
permitted to land at Key West. It was only a trick to get me on board of
the steamer; and when it failed, for I declined to fall into the trap,
I was captured by a gang of four or five ruffians, Captain Flanger being
one of them, and conveyed to the vessel, where I was locked up in a
stateroom till after she had sailed."

"That is a proper question for the British government to deal with, and
I hope it will be put in the way of adjustment by the proper officials,
though I am inclined to regard it as an act of war, which will justify
me in holding the men engaged in the outrage as prisoners. Do you know
who they are, Mr. Passford?"

"I can designate only three of them,--the captain, Mr. Dawbin, the mate,
who is now on the ledge, and Percy Pierson. I am sure they were all in
the carriage that conveyed me to the beach where I was put into the
boat. The others were sailors, and I could not identify them."

"I will hold the three you name as prisoners," added Captain Chantor,
as he moved forward, followed by the executive officer.

It was getting dark, and Christy made his way to the shadow of the
mainmast, where he obtained a position that enabled him to hear all that
passed without being seen himself. Captain Flanger seemed to be more
subdued than he had been reported to be on board of the Snapper, and the
commander ordered the irons to be taken from his wrists.

"Captain Flanger, I have concluded to make a prize of the Snapper; but I
am willing to hear anything you may wish to offer," Captain Chantor
began.

"I protest; you have no more right to make a prize of my vessel than you
have to capture a British man-of-war, if you were able to do such a
thing," replied the commander of the Snapper.

"Do you claim that the Snapper is a British vessel?"

"Yes, I do!" blustered Captain Flanger recklessly.

"Are you a British subject?"

"No, I am not; but I am not attempting to run the blockade."

"For what port are you bound?"

"Havana."

"Have you a clearance for that port?"

"For Havana, and a market."

"But you have no more idea of going to Havana than you have of going to
China," added the captain of the Chateaugay. "You are bound to Mobile,
and you intend to run the blockade; and that intention proved, you are
liable to capture."

"You seem to know my business better than I know it myself," said
Captain Flanger, with a sneer in his tones.

"Perhaps I know it quite as well as you do, at least so far as the
voyage of the Snapper is concerned," replied the commander of the
Chateaugay, who proceeded to explain international law in relation to
the intention to run the blockade. "I shall be able to prove in the
court which sits upon your case that you left Nassau for the purpose
of running the blockade established at the entrance of Mobile Bay.
I presume that will be enough to satisfy both you and the court. In
Nassau you did not hesitate to announce your intention to run the
blockade, and get into Mobile."

"I should like to see you prove it," growled the captain of the Snapper,
in his sneering tones.

"I don't think you would like to see me do it; but I will take you at
your word, and prove it now. I have an excellent witness, to whom you
made your announcement;" and at this remark Christy stepped out from
behind the mainmast, and placed himself in front of the astounded
ruffian. "Lieutenant Passford, a naval officer in excellent repute,
is all ready to make oath to your assertions."

Captain Flanger and Percy Pierson gazed in silence at the witness, for
they supposed he was on the ledge to which he had been transported by
the boat. Christy repeated what he had said before, and stated in what
manner he had been made a prisoner on board of the Snapper.

"For this outrage in a neutral port I shall hold you and Mr. Pierson as
prisoners, leaving the government to determine what steps shall be taken
in regard to you; but I trust you will be handed over to the authorities
at Nassau, to be properly punished for the outrage."

Of course this decision did not suit Captain Flanger; and Percy Pierson
appeared to be intensely alarmed at the prospect before him. Captain
Chantor, after consulting with his naval passenger, determined to send
the Snapper to Key West, from which she could readily be despatched to
New York if occasion should require. Mr. Carlin was appointed
prize-master, with a sufficient crew; and at daylight the next morning
he sailed for his destination.

The boat which had been sent for the mate and two men belonging to the
Snapper put them on board of the steamer; but the captain and the
passenger were retained on board of the Chateaugay. The man with the
mutilated nose was so disgusted at the loss of his vessel, and with the
decision of his captor, that he could not contain himself; and it became
necessary not only to restore his irons, but also to commit him to the
"brig," which is the ship's prison.

"What is to become of me, Christy?" asked Percy in the evening, overcome
with terror at the prospect before him.

"That is more than I can inform you," replied Christy coldly.

"But we had no intention of doing you any harm; and we treated you well
after you went on board of the Snapper."

"You committed a dastardly outrage upon me; but your punishment will be
left to others."

"But I had no intention to do you any harm," pleaded Percy.

"No more lies! You have told me enough since I met you."

"But I am speaking the truth now," protested the frightened Southerner.

"No, you are not; the truth is not in you! Did you mean me no harm when
you attempted to entice me on board of the Snapper? Did you mean me no
harm when you engaged Flanger and his ruffians to make me a prisoner,
and put me on board of his steamer? It was a flagrant outrage from
beginning to end; for I had the same rights in Nassau that you and your
father had, and both of you abused the hospitality of the place when you
assaulted me."

"You were a prisoner of the Confederacy, and had escaped in a
blockade-runner; and I thought it was no more than right that you should
be returned to your prison," Percy explained.

"I had the right to escape if I could, and was willing to take the risk;
and my capture in Nassau was a cowardly trick. But I did not escape from
a Confederate prison."

"You told me you did."

"I did not; that was a conclusion to which you jumped with very little
help from me."

"I thought I was doing my duty to my country."

"Then you were an idiot. You have done your best to compromise your
country, as you call it, with the British government. If your father is
not sent out of Nassau, I shall lose my guess as a Yankee."

"But my father would not allow Captain Flanger to do you any harm; for
he was bent upon hanging you as soon as he got out of sight of land, and
he sent me with you to see my mother in order to prevent him from
carrying out his threat."

"You would have been a powerful preventive in the face of such a brutal
ruffian as Captain Flanger," said Christy with a sneer. "You have lied
to me before about your father, and I cannot believe anything you say."

"I am speaking the truth now; my father saved your life. I heard him
tell Flanger that he would lose the command of the Snapper if any harm
came to you."

"If he did so, he did it from the fear of the British authorities.
I have nothing more to say about it."

"But as my father saved your life, you ought to stand by me in this
scrape," pleaded Percy.

"Whatever was done by you or your father for me, was done from the fear
of consequences; and you were the originator of the outrage against me,"
added Christy, as he descended to the ward room.

The next morning the Snapper was on her voyage to Key West, and the
Chateaugay headed for the Hole in the Wall, though she gave it a wide
berth, and stood off to the eastward. The next night, being the fourth
since the Eleuthera left the ship, the boat containing Mr. Gilfleur was
picked up about twenty miles east of the lights. The detective came on
board, and was welcomed by the captain, who had been called by his own
order.



CHAPTER XXVI

A VISIT TO TAMPA BAY


As soon as Mr. Gilfleur had been welcomed back to the Chateaugay the
commander gave the order to the officer of the deck to have the Bahama
boat hoisted to the deck, and disposed of as before.

"I beg your pardon, Captain Chantor; but be so kind as to allow the boat
to remain alongside, for I must return to Nassau," interposed the
detective.

"Return to Nassau!" exclaimed the captain.

"Yes, sir; it is really necessary that I should do so, for you see that
I have come back without Mr. Passford," replied the Frenchman. "He was
attacked by a cowardly ruffian in front of a saloon in the town, and I
lost sight of him after that. I have been terribly distressed about him,
for the ruffian threatened to kill him, and I fear he has executed his
threat."

"Don't distress yourself for another instant, Mr. Gilfleur, for Mr.
Passford is on board of the ship at this moment, and doubtless asleep in
his stateroom," said the captain, cutting short the narrative of the
detective.

"On board of the ship!" exclaimed the Frenchman, retreating a few paces
in his great surprise. "Impossible! Quite impossible! I found our boat
just where we had left it at the back side of the island."

"But what I say is entirely true; and Mr. Passford wished me to have him
called when you came on board," added the commander, as he sent a
quartermaster to summon Christy to the captain's cabin.

"I don't understand how Mr. Passford can be on board of the ship,"
continued the bewildered Frenchman. "Ah, he might have hired a boat like
the Eleuthera to bring him off."

"He might have done so, but he did not," replied Captain Chantor, as he
directed the officer of the deck to go ahead, making the course east, as
soon as he had secured the detective's boat. "Now, if you will come to
my cabin, Mr. Gilfleur, Mr. Passford shall inform you himself that he is
on board of the ship; and he has quite an exciting story to tell."

The commander and the Frenchman went below, and seated themselves in the
cabin of the former.

"Mr. Passford has already informed me that the Ovidio is at Nassau, but
that she has been seized by a British gunboat for violation of the
neutrality laws," said the captain.

"That is quite true, and it is not probable that the case will be
settled for a month to come," replied Mr. Gilfleur. "But I ascertained
by great good luck that her armament was waiting for her at Green Cay,
if you know where that is: I do not."

"It is on the Tongue of the Ocean, as it is called, nearly a hundred
miles to the southward of Nassau. I supposed it would be managed in some
such way as that," added the commander. "But do you think it will be a
month before her case will be settled?"

"Of course I know nothing about it myself; but I found a court official
who was very desirous of talking French, and he invited me to dine with
him at his house. I began to ask him questions about the blockade, and
the vessels in the harbor; and finally he gave me his opinion that a
decision in the case of the Ovidio could not be reached in less than a
month, and it might be two mouths."

At this moment there was a knock at the door of the cabin, and the
captain called to the person to come in. Christy, who had taken the time
to dress himself fully, opened the door and entered the cabin. The
Frenchman leaped from his seat, and embraced the young officer as though
he had been his wife or sweetheart, from whom he had been separated for
years. Christy, who was not very demonstrative in this direction,
submitted to the hugging with the best possible grace, for he knew that
the detective was sincere, and had actually grown to love him, perhaps
as much for his father's sake as for his own.

"Oh, my dear Mr. Passford, you are to me like one who has come out of
his grave, for I have believed for nearly three days that you had been
killed by the ruffian that attacked you in the street!" exclaimed Mr.
Gilfleur, still pressing both of his late companion's hands in his own.
"I was never so rejoiced in all my life, not even when I had unearthed a
murderer."

"Perhaps you expected to unearth another murderer," said Christy with a
smile.

"That was just what I intended to do. I heard the villanous ruffian
swear that he would kill you, and I was almost sure he had done so when
you failed to meet me in the rear of the hotel."

At the request of the commander, Christy repeated the story of his
adventure in Nassau as briefly as possible, up to the time he had been
picked up by the Chateaugay's cutter, and conveyed on board of the ship.
The detective was deeply interested, and listened to the narration with
the closest attention. At the end of it, he pressed the hand of the
young officer again, and warmly congratulated him upon his escape from
the enemy.

Mr. Gilfleur then reported more in detail than he had done before, the
result of his mission. He gave the names of all the intending
blockade-runners in the harbor of Nassau; but the captain declared that
he could not capture them on any such evidence as the detective had been
able to obtain, for it would not prove the intention.

"The Ovidio may not come out of Nassau for two months to come, and then
she will proceed to Green Cay," said Captain Chantor. "I do not think I
should be justified in waiting so long for her, especially as she is to
run her cargo into Mobile. The blockaders will probably be able to pick
her up. I think my mission in the Bahama Islands is finished, and the
Chateaugay must proceed to more fruitful fields."

"But you have not made a bad voyage of it so far, Captain Chantor,"
added Christy. "You sent in the Ionian, sunk the Dornoch, and captured
the Cadet and the Snapper, to say nothing of bagging a Confederate
commissioner, and the son of another. I should have been glad if you had
sent in Colonel Pierson, for he has already done our commerce a great
deal of mischief."

"I am entirely satisfied, and doubtless the information obtained here
and at the Bermudas will enable our fleet to pick up some more of the
steamers you have spotted," added the captain, as he rose from his seat,
and dismissed his guests.

The Frenchman was so exhausted by his labors, and the want of sleep,
that he retired at once to his room, while Christy went on deck with the
commander. The ship had been working to the eastward for over an hour;
but the order was given for her to come about, and the course was laid
for the light at the Hole in the Wall.

"Now, Mr. Passford, we are bound for the Gulf of Mexico, putting in at
Key West for the purpose of attending to the affair of the Snapper,"
said Captain Chantor. "In a few days more no doubt you will be able to
report for duty on board of the Bellevite."

"I shall not be sorry to be on duty again, and especially in the
Bellevite," replied Christy, as he went to his stateroom to finish his
night's sleep.

The next day the Chateaugay overhauled the Snapper; but all was well on
board of her, and the ship proceeded on her course. On the third day she
went into the harbor of Key West. Christy and the captain went to work
at once on the legal questions relating to the prize last taken. The
evidence was deemed sufficient to warrant the sending of her to New
York, and on her arrival the prize-master was directed to proceed to
that port. Captain Flanger and Percy Pierson were transferred to her,
and she sailed the next day; but she encountered a tremendous storm on
the Atlantic coast, and was totally wrecked on Hetzel Spit, near Cape
Canaveral. The prisoners were put into one boat, which upset, and all in
it were drowned, while the other boat, in charge of Lieutenant Carlin,
succeeded in reaching the shore of Florida.

The Snapper's case was settled, therefore, outside of the courts.
Captain Flanger perished in his wickedness, and Percy Pierson never
reached his mother in Mobile. But it was weeks before the news of the
disaster reached the Chateaugay and the Bellevite. Christy did not mourn
the loss of his great enemy, and he was sorry only that the young man
had not lived long enough to become a better man.

The Chateaugay proceeded on her voyage, and reported to the flag-officer
of the Eastern Gulf Squadron; by whom she was assigned to a place in the
fleet off Appalachicola, while Christy was sent in a tender to the
Bellevite, then on duty off the entrance to Mobile Bay.

At this point it became necessary for Christy and Mr. Gilfleur to
separate, for the latter was to proceed to New York by a store-ship
about to sail. The detective insisted upon hugging him again, and the
young officer submitted with better grace than usual to such
demonstrations. He had become much attached to his companion in the late
enterprises in which they had been engaged, and he respected him very
highly for his honesty and earnestness, and admired his skill in his
profession. On the voyage from Key West, Christy had written letters to
all the members of his family, as well as to Bertha Pembroke, which he
committed to the care of Mr. Gilfleur when they parted, not to meet
again till the end of the war.

When Christy went on board of the Bellevite he was warmly welcomed by
Captain Breaker, who happened to be on deck. Mr. Blowitt was the next to
grasp his hand, and before he had done with him, Paul Vapoor, the chief
engineer, the young lieutenant's particular crony, hugged him as though
he were a brother.

Most of the old officers were still in the ship, and Christy found
himself entirely at home where-ever he went on board. He was duly
presented to Mr. Walbrook, the third lieutenant, the acting second
lieutenant having returned to the flag-ship in the tender.

For all the rest of the year the Bellevite remained on duty as a
blockader off Fort Morgan. It was an idle life for the most part, and
Christy began to regret that he had caused himself to be transferred
from the command of the Bronx. The steamer occasionally had an
opportunity to chase a blockade-runner, going in or coming out of the
bay. She was the fastest vessel on the station, and she never failed to
give a good account of herself.

Late in the year the Bellevite and Bronx were ordered to operate at
Tampa Bay, where it was believed that several vessels were loading with
cotton. On the arrival of the ships off the bay, a boat expedition was
organized to ascertain what vessels were in the vicinity. But the
entrance was protected by a battery, and it was supposed that there were
field-works in several places on the shores. One of these was discovered
just inside of Palm Key, and the Bellevite opened upon it with her big
midship gun. Two or three such massive balls were enough for the
garrison, and they beat a precipitate retreat, abandoning their pieces.
There was water enough to permit the steamer to go into the bay nearly
to the town at the head of it.

No other batteries were to be seen, and the Bronx proceeded up the bay,
followed by the Bellevite. When the latter had proceeded as far as the
depth of water rendered it prudent for her to go at that time of tide,
the Bronx went ahead some ten miles farther. The boat expedition,
consisting of three cutters from the Bellevite and one from the Bronx,
moved towards the head of the bay. Christy, in the second cutter of the
Bellevite, was at least two miles from any other boat, when a punt
containing a negro put out from the shore near him.

"Are you a frien' ob de colored man?" demanded the negro as soon as he
came within speaking-distance of the cutter.

"Within reasonable limits, I am the friend of the colored man," replied
Christy, amused at the form of the question.

"What you gwine to do up dis bay, massa?" asked the colored man.

"That will depend upon what we find up this bay."

"You don't 'spect you find no steamers up dis bay, does you, massa?"

"Do you know of any steamers up this bay, my man?" asked Christy. "Do
you know of any vessels up here loading with cotton?" asked Christy.

"P'raps I do, massa; and den, again, p'raps I don't know anyt'ing about
any vessels," replied the negro, very indefinitely.

Christy was provoked at the manner in which the negro replied to his
questions. Ordering his boat's crew to give way with all their might,
he directed the cockswain to run for the punt of the negro. The cutter
struck it on the broadside, and broke it into two pieces. The boatman
was fished up, and hauled on board of the boat.

  [Illustration:
  "The boatman was fished up and hauled on board the boat." Page 301.]



CHAPTER XXVII

AMONG THE KEYS OF TAMPA


Christy Passford did not intend to cut the negro's punt into two pieces,
though perhaps there was some mischief in the purpose of the cockswain.
The boatman gave him an evasive answer to his question, which provoked
the young officer. The punt was a very old affair, reduced almost to
punk by the decay of the boards of which it was built, or the bow of the
cutter would not have gone through it so readily. The lieutenant had
simply desired to get alongside the negro's shaky craft in order to
question him, for he was satisfied from the fellow's manner that he knew
more than he pretended to know.

The boatman had come off from the shore of his own accord; he had not
been solicited to give any information, and his movements had been
entirely voluntary on his own part. Yet Christy was sorry that his punt
had been stove, valueless as the craft had been; for, as a rule, the
colored people were friendly to the Union soldiers, and he was not
disposed to do them any injury.

As soon as the officer in charge of the boat saw that the bow was likely
to strike the punt, he directed the cockswain to stop and back her,
which was done, but too late to save the flimsy box from destruction.
The two bowmen drew in the negro without any difficulty; and so
expeditiously had he been rescued that he was not wet above the hips.
He had been caught up just as the bow of the cutter cut into the punt.

"That was well done, bowmen," said Christy, as the boatman was placed
upon his feet in the fore sheets.

The negro was rather small in stature, and black enough to save all
doubts in regard to his parentage; but there was an expression of
cunning in his face not often noticed in persons of his race. The
coast of Florida, south of the entrance to Tampa Bay, as in many other
portions, is fringed with keys, or cays as they are called in the West
Indies, which are small islands, though many of them are ten miles in
length. This fringe of keys extended up Tampa Bay for over twenty
miles; and it was from behind one of them that the punt had put out
when Christy's boat approached. The negro had been obliged to paddle
at least half a mile to come within speaking-distance of the cutter.

"You done broke my boat in two pieces!" exclaimed the boatman, gazing at
the two parts of the floating wreck. "Don't t'ink you is a frien' ob de
colored man widin no limits at all, or you don't smash his boat like
dat."

"That was an accident, my friend," replied Christy. "How much was the
punt worth?"

"Dat boat wan't no punk, massa, and it was wuf two dollars in good
money," replied the colored man, his eyes brightening, and his
expression of cunning becoming more intense, when he realized the
possibility of being paid for his loss.

"If you give me the information I desire, I will pay for the boat,"
added Christy, who proposed to do so out of his own pocket, for his
father was a millionaire of several degrees, and the son had very nearly
made a fortune out of the prizes, from which he had received an
officer's share.

"Tank you, massa; I'm a poor man, and I git my livin' gwine fishin' in
dat boat you done stove."

"What is your name, my man?"

"Quimp, sar; and dat's de short for Quimple," replied the colored person
of this name.

"Where do you live?"

"Ober on de shor dar, in de woods."

"How deep is the water inside of these keys, Quimp?" asked Christy,
pointing to the long, narrow islands which lined the south-easterly side
of the bay.

"Not much water inside dem keys dar, sar," replied the boatman, looking
off in the other direction.

"But there are deep places in there, I am very sure."

"Yes, sar; ten feet in some places," replied Quimp, suddenly becoming
more communicative. "When de wind blow from de west or de norf-west,
dar's twelve foot inside de long key."

"Do you know of any vessels, any schooners, or steamers, inside the bay,
Quimp?" asked Christy, pushing his inquiries a point farther.

"Couldn't told you, massa," replied the boatman, shaking his head.

"Do you mean that you don't know, my man?"

"Dis nigger done got but one head, and it's wuf more to him dan it is to
any oder feller, massa; and it don't do for him to tell no stories about
vessels and steamers," replied Quimp, shaking his head more vigorously.

"I suppose you have a family, Quimp?"

"No, sar; done got no family. De ole woman done gone to glory more'n ten
years ago, and de boys done growed up and gone off. No, sar; dis nigger
got no family."

"Then you don't care to stay here, where you have to work hard for
little money?" suggested Christy.

"Money! Don't see no money. Nobody but white folks got any money; and
dey has next to noffin in dese times."

"I will pay you well for any information that may be of importance to
me, and I will take you on board of a man-of-war farther down the bay,
if you are afraid of losing your head."

"If dis nigger told some stories he lose his head for sartin," added
Quimp, shaking his head, as if to make sure that it safely rested on his
shoulders.

"If you tell me the truth, you shall be protected."

"Wot you want to know, massa?" demanded Quimp, as though he was
weakening in his resolution.

Christy could not help wondering why the boatman had come out from
behind the key, if he was not willing to impart his knowledge to the
officer of the boat, for he could not help understanding the object of
the gunboats in visiting the bay; and the Bellevite lay not half a mile
below the northern end of what Quimp called the long key.

"I want to know if there are any steamers or other vessels in the bay,"
replied Christy, coming directly to the point. "If there are any, we
shall find them; but you can save us the trouble of looking for them."

"How much you gwine to gib me, massa, if I told you?" asked the negro,
as he walked between the men on the thwarts to the stern sheets, in
order to be nearer to the officer.

"I will give you ten dollars if you will be sure and tell me the truth."

"Dis nigger don't never told no lies, massa," protested Quimp. "If you
pay me five dollars for de boat you done stove, and"--

"But you said the boat was worth only two dollars," interposed the
officer.

"Dat's de gospel truf, massa; but it costs me five dollars to get a new
boat, to say noffin about de time. I mought starve to def afore I can
get a boat."

The negro's argument was logical, and Christy admitted its force, and
expressed his willingness to pay the price demanded.

"Five dollars for de boat, massa, and ten dollars for tellin' de whole
truf," added Quimp.

"All right, my man," added the lieutenant.

"Yes, sar; but I want de money now, sar," said Quimp, extending his hand
to receive it; and Christy thought he was very sharp for one in his
position.

"I will pay you when you have imparted the information," he replied;
and, for some reason he could not explain, he was not satisfied with the
conduct of the negro.

He was altogether too shrewd for one who appeared to be so stupid. The
expression of cunning in his face told against him, and perhaps it was
this more than anything else that prejudiced the officer. He took it for
granted that he should have to take the boatman off to the Bellevite
with him, and that it would be time enough to pay him on board of the
ship.

"Dat won't do, massa!" protested Quimp earnestly. "What you tink?
Suppose dar is a steamer in de bay loaded wid cotton, all ready to quit
for somewhar. Do you tink, massa, I can go on bord of her wid you? No,
sar! Dis nigger lose his head for sartin if dem uns knows I pilot you to
dat steamer. You done got two eyes, massa, and you can see it for
shore."

"But I can protect you, Quimp," suggested Christy.

"No, sar! All de sojers in de Yankee camp could not save me, sar. De
first man dat sees me will knive me in de heart, or cut my froat from
one ear to de oder!" protested Quimp more earnestly than before, though
he manifested no terror in his words or manner.

"Very well, Quimp; I will pay you the money as soon as we see the
steamer or other vessel, and then assist you to make your escape,"
replied Christy. "I will go a step farther, and pay you for the boat
now; but I will not pay you the ten dollars till you show us a vessel."

While the negro was scratching his head to stimulate his ideas, the
officer handed him a gold sovereign and a shilling of English money,
provided for his visit to Bermuda and Nassau, which made a little more
than five dollars.

"I don't reckon a gemman like you would cheat a poor nigger," said
Quimp, while his eyes were still glowing with delight at the sight of
the money in his hand.

"Certainly not, my man," replied Christy, laughing at the idea. "Just as
soon as I get my eye on the steamer of which you speak, I will pay you
the ten dollars in gold and silver."

"I don't know much about dis yere money, massa," said the boatman, still
studying the coin.

"The gold piece is an English sovereign, worth about four dollars and
eighty-five cents; and the silver coin is a shilling, worth very nearly
a quarter of a dollar; so that I have paid you over five dollars."

"Yes, sar, tank you, sar. Cap'n Stopfoot fotched over some ob de money
like dat from Nassau, and I done seen it."

"But I can't stop to talk all day, Quimp," continued Christy
impatiently. "If you are going to do anything to earn your ten dollars,
it is time for you to be about it."

"Yes, sar; I will told you all about it, massa."

"No long yarns, my man!" protested the officer, as Quimp seated himself
in the stern sheets as though he intended to tell a long story.

"Yes, massa; told you all about it in a bref. De wind done blow fresh
from de norf-west for t'ree days; dat's what Massa Cap'n Stopfoot say,"
Quimp began.

"No matter what Captain Stopfoot says!" Christy interposed. "Tell me
where the steamer is, if there is any steamer in the bay. We will stop
the foot and the mouth of Captain Stopfoot when we come to him."

"Well, sar, if you don't want to har dis nigger's yarn, he'll shet up
all to onct," replied Quimp, standing on his dignity.

"Go on, then; but make it short," added Christy, finding it would take
less time to get what he wanted out of the negro by letting him have his
own way. "Wind fresh from the north-west for three days."

"Yes, sar; and dat pile up de water so de tide rise six or eight inches
higher," continued Quimp, picking up the clew given him. "High tide in
one hour from now, and de Reindeer was gwine out den for shore. Dat's de
whole story, massa, and not bery long."

"All right, Quimp. Now where is the Reindeer?"

"Ober de oder side ob long key, massa. Dar's more'n four fadoms ob water
under dis boat now, and twelve feet 'tween de two keys," added the
boatman, whose tongue was fully unlocked by this time.

The crew of the cutter were directed to give way, and the negro pointed
out the channel which led inside the keys.



CHAPTER XXVIII

THE SURRENDER OF THE REINDEER


Christy looked over the side of the boat, and saw that the water was
quite clear. The channel, which lay in the middle of the bay, had four
and a quarter fathoms of water at mean low tide, according to the chart
the officer had with him. He had brought several copies of the large
chart with him from New York, and he had cut them up into convenient
squares, so that they could be easily handled when he was on boat
service. But his authority gave no depth of water on the shoal sands.

In a short time the boat came to the verge of the channel, and Christy
directed the bowman to stand by with the lead, with which the boat was
provided. The first heaving gave three and a half fathoms, and it
gradually decreased at each report, till only two fathoms and a quarter
was indicated, when the boat was between the two keys, the southern of
which Quimp called the long key, simply because that was the longest in
the bay, and not because it was a proper name.

"Now, Massa Ossifer, look sharp ober on de starboard side," said the
negro.

"I don't see anything," replied Christy.

"No, sar, not yet; but look ober dat way, and you see somet'ing fo' yore
t'ree minutes older, massa."

Christy fixed his gaze on the point of the long key, beyond which Quimp
intimated that the steamer would be seen.

"Now, Massa Ossifer, fo' yore two minutes nearer glory, you'll see de
end ob de bowsprit ob de Reindeer," added Quimp, who was beginning to be
somewhat excited, possibly in expectation of receiving his ten dollars;
and perhaps he was regretting that he had not demanded twenty.

"How big is that steamer, Quimp?" asked the officer of the cutter.

"Fo' hund'ed tons, massa; dat's what Cap'n Stopfoot done say, kase I
never done measure her. He done say she is very flat on her bottom, and
don't draw much water for her size," replied the negro. "Dar's de end ob
de bowsprit, massa!" he exclaimed at this moment.

"Way enough, cockswain!" said Christy sharply. "Stern all!"

The headway of the cutter was promptly checked, and she was set back a
couple of lengths, when the order was given to the crew to lay on their
oars.

"W'at's the matter, Massa Ossifer? Arn't you gwine no furder?" asked
Quimp.

"I have seen enough of the Reindeer to satisfy me that she is there; and
I have stopped the boat to give you a chance to make your escape,"
replied Christy. "I don't want you to lose your head for the service you
have rendered to me."

"Dis nigger can't get away from here, massa," replied the boatman,
looking about him. "A feller can't swim a mile when de water's full ob
alligators. Dem varmints like niggers to eat jus' as well as dey do
white men."

Christy had his doubts about there being alligators of a dangerous size
in the bay, though he had seen small ones in other bays of the coast;
but he was willing to admit that Quimp knew better about the matter than
he did. It was a hard swim to any other key than the long one, to which
the cutter was quite near. He could land the negro on that key, but he
would reveal the presence of the boat to the people on board of the
Reindeer, and they would burn her rather than have her fall into the
hands of the Union navy.

"I can land you on the long key, Quimp," suggested the officer.

"No, sar! Can't go there; for Cap'n Stopfoot sartainly cotch me dar,"
protested the negro.

"I don't think so, Quimp."

"De ossifers and men ob de Reindeer will go asho' when you done took de
steamer; don't you see dat, massa?"

"What shall I do with you then?" asked Christy, as he handed him two
sovereigns and two shillings.

"T'ank you, sar; dat's a pile ob money!" exclaimed Quimp, as he looked
with admiration upon the coins.

"It is what I agreed to give you. But what shall I do with you now? That
is the question I want answered," continued the officer impatiently.

"You can't do not'ing wid me, Massa Ossifer, and I must tooken my chance
to go up in de boat. Better hab my froat cut 'n be chawed up by a big
alligator. Was you ever bit by an alligator, Massa Ossifer?"

"I never was."

"I knows about dat, massa," added Quimp, as he bared his leg, and showed
an ugly scar.

Christy would not wait to hear any more, but ordered the cockswain to go
ahead again. It looked to him that Quimp, now that he had received his
money, and made fifteen dollars out of his morning's work, was
intentionally delaying the object of the expedition, for what reason he
could form no clear idea.

"I spose, if Captain Stopfoot kill me for w'at I done do, you'll bury me
side de old woman dat done gone to glory ten year ago?" continued the
negro, who did not look old enough to have buried a wife ten years
before.

"I am not in the burying business, my friend, and after you are dead,
you had better send for your sons to do the job, for they will know
where to find the grave of the departed companion of your joys and
sorrows," replied Christy, as the boat came in sight of the bowsprit of
the Reindeer again.

"My sons done gone away to Alabamy, sar, and"--

"That's enough about that. There are no alligators about here, and you
can swim ashore if you are so disposed; but you must shut up your wide
mouth and keep still if you stay in the boat. Heave the lead, bowman!"

"Mark under water two, sir," reported the leadsman.

In a few moments more the cutter had gained a position where the steamer
could be fully seen. She was a side-wheeler, and appeared to be a very
handsome vessel. She had a considerable deck-load of cotton, and
doubtless her hold was filled with the same valuable commodity.

"Is that steamer armed, Quimp?" asked Christy, who could see no signs of
life on board of her.

"She don't got no arms, but she hab two field-pieces on her for'ad
deck," replied the negro.

"How many men has she on board?"

"L'em me see: the cap'n and de mate is two, two ingineers, two firemen;
dat makes six; and den she hab two deck-hands."

"But that makes only eight in all," replied Christy. "Are you sure that
is all?"

"Dead shoar dat's all, Massa Ossifer."

"But that is not enough to handle the steamer on a voyage to a foreign
port, for I dare say she is going to Nassau," added Christy, who was on
the lookout for some piece of strategy by which his boat and its crew
might be destroyed.

"I don't know not'ing about dat, sar; but Cap'n Stopfoot is a pow'ful
smart man; and he's Yankee too. I done hear him say he gwine to j'in de
Yankee navy."

What Quimp said was rather suspicious; but Christy could see nothing to
justify his doubts. He directed the cockswain to steer the cutter as
closely to the side of the Reindeer as the movement of the oars would
permit, so that the field-pieces could not be brought to bear upon it.
The steamer lay at a sort of temporary pier, which had evidently been
erected for her accommodation, and the cotton had doubtless been brought
to the key by river steamers by the Suwanee and other streams from
cotton regions.

There was no habitation or other building on the shore, but a gangway
was stretched to the land, over which a couple of men were hastening on
board when the cutter reached the stern of the Reindeer. From
appearances Christy judged that the water had been deepened by dredges,
for a considerable quantity of sand and mud was disposed in heaps in the
shallow water a hundred feet or more from the rude wharf.

"Boat ahoy!" shouted a person on board, near the starboard accommodation
ladder, which the officer of the boat had noticed was in place.

"On board the steamer!" replied Christy.

"What is your business here?" inquired the person on the deck of the
Reindeer, though he could not be seen from the cutter.

"I will go on board and inform you," replied Christy.

As there were no signs of resistance on board of the vessel, the officer
of the cutter directed his men to make a dash for the accommodation
ladder, which had the appearance of having been left to make things
convenient for a boarding-party. The crew were all armed with a cutlass
and revolver in the belt.

"Lay her aboard!" said Christy, quietly enough, as he led the way
himself, for he was a bold leader, and was not content to follow his
men. As he leaped down from the bulwarks to the deck, he confronted the
person who had hailed him in the boat.

"What is your business on board of the Reindeer?" demanded, in a very
tame tone, the man in front of him.

"I am an officer of the United States navy, and my business is to make a
prize of this steamer and her cargo," replied Christy.

"Is that so? You did not give me your name, sir," added the man.

"Lieutenant Passford, attached to the United States steamer Bellevite.
Do me the favor to explain who you are, sir," returned Christy.

"I am Captain Solomon Stopfoot, in command of the Reindeer, at your
service, born and brought up on Long Island," answered the commander of
the steamer.

"Then what are you doing here?" demanded the naval officer. "Where were
you born on Long Island?"

"In Babylon, on the south shore."

"Then Babylon is fallen!" exclaimed Christy, indignant to find a man
born so near his own home doing the dirty work of the Confederate
government.

"Perhaps not; and perhaps you may change your view of me when you have
heard my story," added Captain Stopfoot.

"Well, Captain, there is only one story that I care to hear just now,
and its title is simply 'Surrender,'" replied Christy rather
impatiently. "You understand my business on board of the Reindeer; and
if you propose to make any resistance, it is time for you to begin."

"It would be folly for me to make any resistance, and I shall not make
any. I have only two engineers, two firemen, foreigners, hired in
Nassau, who would not fight if I wished them to do so, and two
deck-hands. I could do nothing against the eight well-armed men you have
brought on board. I surrender."

"I should say that was a wise step on your part, Captain Stopfoot,"
replied Christy. "When you are more at leisure, I hope you will indulge
me in an explanation of the manner in which a Long Islander happens to
be engaged in blockade-running."

"I am an American citizen now, as I have always been; I shall be only
too happy to get back under the old flag. As an evidence of my
sincerity, I will assist you in getting the Reindeer out of this place.
The tide is high at this moment; and half an hour from now it will be
too late to move the vessel," said Captain Stopfoot, with every
appearance of sincerity in his manner.

"I will see you, Captain, as soon as I have looked the steamer over,"
replied Christy, as he left the commander of the Reindeer at the door of
his cabin, and went forward to examine the vessel.

He found the steam up; and the engineer bowed to him as he looked into
his room. There was nothing to be seen but cotton, piled high on the
deck, and stuffed into the hold; and he returned to the cabin.



CHAPTER XXIX

BRINGING OUT THE PRIZE


It seemed to Christy, after he had completed his examination of the
Reindeer, that she carried an enormous deck-load for a steamer of her
size, and that the bales were piled altogether too high for a vessel
that was liable to encounter a heavy sea. But the cotton was where it
could be readily thrown overboard if the safety of the steamer was
threatened by its presence. He found only the six men mentioned by
Stopfoot, though he had looked in every part of the vessel, even to the
fire-room and the quarters of the crew and firemen.

"I find everything as you stated, Captain Stopfoot; but I should say
that you were proposing to go to sea short-handed. I did not even see a
person whom I took for the mate. Is it possible that you could get along
without one?" said Christy, when he met the commander at the door of the
cabin.

"The truth is, that my men deserted me when they saw the two men-of-war
come into the bay, for they knew I had no adequate means of making a
defence. In fact, the Reindeer was as good as captured as soon as your
two steamers came into the bay, for you were morally sure to find her,"
replied the captain.

"But where are your men? How could they get away?" asked Christy.

"They have not got away a great distance. You could see the gangway to
the shore; and all they had to do was to land, without even the trouble
of taking to a boat. They are all on the long key; and without some sort
of a craft they will not be able to leave it. If you desire to spend
your time in hunting them down, I have no doubt you could find them
all."

"How many of them are there on the island, Captain Stopfoot?"

"The mate, four deck-hands, and two firemen. It would not be a difficult
task for you to capture them all, for I did not look upon them as
fighting material; they have crowded about all the men of that sort into
the army."

"I have no desire to find them, and they may stay on the key till
doomsday, so far as I am concerned," replied Christy. "We don't regard
the men employed on blockade-runners as of much account. But it is time
to get under way, Captain; I have men enough to do all the work, and I
think I have learned the channel well enough to find the way out into
the deep water of the bay."

"As I said before, Lieutenant Passford, I am willing to assist you, for
I am anxious to get back among my own people, and to find a position in
the old navy. I have been master of a vessel for the last ten years, and
I know the Southern coast better than most of your officers."

"No doubt you will find a place when you want one, for all competent men
are taken," replied Christy, as he went to the quarter to see if the
Bellevite's cutter was in condition to be towed by the Reindeer.

He had left the boat in charge of Quimp, or rather he had left him in it
without assigning any particular duty to him. He was no longer in the
cutter, and the officer concluded that he had taken to the long key, and
was fraternizing with the renegades who had deserted the Reindeer. The
long painter of the boat was taken to the stern and made fast in a
suitable place, and Christy hastened to the forward part of the vessel
with six of his men, leaving a quartermaster, who was the cockswain of
the cutter, with two others, in charge of the after part.

On his way he went into the engine-room, which opened from the main
deck, where he had before seen the two engineers, the chief of whom had
received him very politely. He suggested to the captain that he had made
no arrangement with these officers, and he was not quite sure that they
would be willing to do duty now that the steamer was a prize.

"There will be no trouble about them, for they are Englishmen, engaged
at Nassau, and they will do duty as long as they are paid for it, as
they have no interest in the quarrel between the North and the South,"
said Captain Stopfoot; and Christy could not help seeing that he was
making everything very comfortable for him.

"We are willing to work for whoever will pay us," added the chief
engineer, "and without asking any hard questions."

"I will see that you are paid," returned Christy. "You will attend to
the bells as usual, will you?"

"Yes, sir; we will do our duty faithfully," answered the chief.

Christy and the captain proceeded to the pilot-house, which appeared to
have been recently added to the vessel to suit the taste of her American
owners. The naval officer stationed one of his own men at the wheel, and
then took a careful survey of the position of the steamer. He directed
his crew to cast off the fasts.

"Is there a United States flag on board of this craft, Captain
Stopfoot?" asked Christy.

"To be sure there is, Lieutenant," said the captain with a laugh; "but I
do not get much chance to get under its folds."

"Of course you have Confederate flags in abundance?"

"Enough of them," replied the commander, as he drew forth from a
signal-box the flags required. "What do you intend to do with these?"

"I intend to hoist the United States flag over the Confederate to show
that this steamer is a prize, otherwise the Bellevite might put a shot
through her as soon as she shows herself outside of the key," replied
Christy.

"A wise precaution," added Captain Stopfoot.

The naval officer rang one bell as one of his men reported to him that
the fasts had been cast off, and that all was clear. The grating sound
of the engine was immediately heard, with the splash of the paddle
wheels. Very slowly the Reindeer began to move forward. Christy had very
carefully noted the bearings of the channel by which the steamer must
pass out into the deep water of the bay, and the instructions which the
captain volunteered to give him were not necessary.

"I suppose I am as really a Northern man in principle as you are, Mr.
Passford," said the captain, as the steamer crept very cautiously
through the pass between the keys.

"If you are, you have taken a different way to show it," replied
Christy, glancing at the speaker.

"But the circumstances have compelled me to remain in the service of my
Southern employer until the present time, and this promises to be the
first favorable opportunity to escape from it that has been presented to
me," Captain Stopfoot explained.

"You have been to Nassau a number of times, I judge; and it was possible
for you to abandon your employment any time you pleased," suggested the
naval officer.

"It was not so easy a matter as you seem to think; for there were no
Northern vessels there in which I could take passage to New York, or any
other loyal port.

"Mr. Groomer, the mate of the Reindeer, is part owner of her, though he
is not competent to navigate a vessel at sea, and he kept close watch of
me all the time, on shore as well as on board."

"But I understand that Mr. Groomer, the mate, has deserted you, and gone
on shore with the others of your ship's company," added Christy, rather
perplexed at the situation indicated by the captain.

"What else could he do?"

"What else could you do? and why did you not abandon the steamer when he
did so? If one of the owners would not stand by the vessel, why did you
do so?"

"I have told you before why I did not: because I wish to get back to my
friends in the North, and find a place in the old navy, which would be
more congenial to me than selling cotton for the benefit of the
Confederacy," replied Captain Stopfoot with considerable energy.

The explanation seemed to be a reasonable one, and Christy could not
gainsay it, though he was not entirely satisfied with the declarations
of the commander. He admitted that he regarded the Reindeer as good as
captured when he saw the Bellevite and Bronx come into the bay; and he
could easily have escaped in a boat to one of the gunboats after the
watchful mate "took to the woods," as he had literally done, for the key
was partly covered with small trees.

"And a quarter two!" reported the leadsman who had been stationed on the
forecastle.

"The water don't seem to vary here," added Christy.

"No, for the owners had done some dredging in this channel; in fact,
there was hardly anything like a channel here when they began the work,"
replied Captain Stopfoot. "To which of the steamers do you belong, Mr.
Passford?"

"To the Bellevite, the one which lies below the long key. The other has
gone up the bay."

"She has gone on a fruitless errand, for there is not another vessel
loading in these waters," said the captain. "I suppose you will report
on board of the Bellevite, Mr. Passford?"

"Of course I shall not leave the Reindeer without an order from the
commander of the ship," replied the lieutenant.

"And a half two!" shouted the leadsman.

"The channel deepens," said Christy.

"You will be in deep water in five minutes."

On this report Christy rang four bells, and the Reindeer went ahead at
full speed.

"By the mark three!" called the man at the lead.

The water was deepening rapidly, and presently the report of three and a
half fathoms came from the forecastle. It was soon followed by "And a
half four," upon which the lieutenant directed the wheelman to steer
directly for the Bellevite. He had hardly given the order before the
report of heavy firing from the upper waters of the bay came to his ear.

"What can that be?" he asked, looking at Captain Stopfoot.

"I don't know; but I suppose that the gunboat which went up the bay is
firing at some battery she has discovered. They have strengthened the
works in that direction which defend the town, since the only one there
was silenced by one of your gunboats," the captain explained.

The guns were heard on board of the Bellevite, and she began to move up
the bay as though she intended to proceed to the assistance of her
consort. Mr. Blowitt in the first cutter had followed the Bronx, and the
third cutter, in charge of Mr. Lobscott, had gone over to Piney Point,
to which there was a channel with from three to five fathoms of water,
and which seemed to be a favorable place to load a vessel with cotton.

As the Reindeer approached the Bellevite, the latter stopped her screw,
and Christy directed the wheelman to run the steamer alongside, and
within twenty or thirty feet of her. There was no sea in the bay, and
there was no danger in doing so. As the Reindeer approached the position
indicated, two bells were struck to stop her. The flags that had been
hoisted on board, informed Captain Breaker of the capture of the
steamer, so that no report was necessary.

"I have to report the capture of the Reindeer, loaded with cotton, and
ready to sail for Nassau," said Christy, mounting one of the high piles
of cotton bales, and saluting the commander of the Bellevite, who had
taken his place on the rail to see the prize.

"Do you know the cause of the firing up the bay, Mr. Passford?" asked
Captain Breaker.

"I do not, Captain; but I learn that the battery below the town has been
strengthened, and I should judge that the Bronx had engaged it."

"Have you men enough to hold your prize, Mr. Passford?"

"I think I have, Captain."

"You will go down the bay, and anchor outside of Egmont Key."

Christy rang one bell, and then four.



CHAPTER XXX

A VERY IMPORTANT SERVICE


The Reindeer went ahead at full speed, while the Bellevite stood up the
bay, picking up the crew of Mr. Blowitt's boat on the way, evidently
with the intention of taking part in the action which the Bronx had
initiated. The loud reports at intervals indicated that the Bronx was
using her big midship gun, while the feebler sounds proved that the
metal of the battery was much lighter. The prize was not a fast steamer,
and she was over an hour in making the dozen miles to Egmont Island, on
which was the tower of a lighthouse forty feet high, but no use was made
of it at that time.

The Bellevite proceeded very slowly, sounding all the time; but at the
end of half an hour the Reindeer was at least ten miles from her, which
was practically out of sight and hearing. About this time Christy
observed that Captain Stopfoot left the pilot-house, where he had
remained from the first; but he paid no attention to him. He had three
men on the quarter-deck of the steamer, one in the pilot-house with him,
and five more in other parts of the vessel.

Christy knew the channel to the south of the lighthouse, and piloted
the steamer to a point about half a mile to the westward of the island.
He was looking through one of the forward windows of the pilot-house,
selecting a proper place to come to anchor, in accordance with the
orders of Captain Breaker. While he was so engaged he heard some sort of
a disturbance in the after part of the steamer.

"On deck there!" he called sharply; and the five men who had been
stationed in this part of the steamer stood up before him, jumping up
from the beds they had made for themselves on the cotton bales, or
rushing out from behind them. "Hopkins and White, go aft and ascertain
the cause of that disturbance," he added.

The two men promptly obeyed the order, and the naval officer directed
the other three to stand by to anchor the steamer. In a few minutes the
anchor was ready to let go. Perhaps a quarter of an hour had elapsed,
when Christy began to wonder what had become of the two men he had sent
aft to report on the disturbance.

"Linman," he called to one of the three men on the forecastle, "go aft
and see what has become of Hopkins and White."

Linman proceeded to obey the order, but had not been gone twenty
seconds, before the noise of another disturbance came to Christy's ears,
and this time it sounded very much like a scuffle. Up to this moment,
and even since Captain Stopfoot had left the pilot-house, Christy had
not suspected that anything on board was wrong. The sounds that came
from the after part of the vessel excited his suspicions, though they
did not assure him that the ship's company of the steamer were engaged
in anything like a revolt.

"Follow me, Bench and Kingman!" he shouted to the two men that remained
on the forecastle. "Strike two bells, Landers," he added to the
wheelman.

Christy had drawn the cutlass he carried in his belt, and was ready,
with the assistance of the two men he had called, to put down any
insubordination that might have been manifested by the ship's company of
the prize. He would have been willing to admit, if he had given the
matter any attention at that moment, that it was the natural right of
the captured captain and his men to regain possession of their persons
and property by force and violence; but he was determined to make it
dangerous for them to do so.

"On the forecastle, sir!" exclaimed Landers, the wheelman.

Christy had put his hand upon the door of the pilot-house to open it as
the two men were moving aft; but he looked out the window at the
exclamation of the wheelman. The cotton bales seemed to have become
alive all at once, for half a dozen of them rolled over like a spaniel
just out of the water, and four men leaped out from under them, or from
apertures which had been formed beneath them.

  [Illustration:
  "His assailant put his arms around him and hugged him like a bear."
  Page 339.]

Bench and Kingman seemed to be bewildered, and both of them were thrown
down by the movement of the bales. The four men who had so suddenly
appeared sprang upon them, and almost in the twinkling of an eye had
tied their hands behind them. Christy drew one of the revolvers from his
belt; but he did not fire, for he was as likely to hit his own men as
their assailants. The victors in the struggle dragged the two men into
the forecastle, and disappeared themselves.

Christy was almost confounded by the suddenness of the attack; but he
did not give up the battle, for he had at least six men in the after
part of the steamer. Bidding Landers draw his cutlass and follow him, he
rushed out at the door he had before opened. He could not see anything
aft but the walls of cotton bales, with a narrow passage between them
and the bulwarks. He moved aft with his eyes wide open; but he had not
gone ten feet before a man dropped down upon him from the top of the
deck-load with so much force as to carry him down to the planks.

His assailant put his arms around him and hugged him like a bear, so
that he could neither use his cutlass nor his revolvers. At the same
moment another man dropped down on Landers in like manner. It was
impossible to resist an attack made from overhead, where it was least
expected, and when they were taken by surprise. Christy was a prisoner,
and his hands were bound behind him.

At this moment Captain Stopfoot presented himself before the
prize-master, his face covered with smiles, and nervous from the excess
of his joy at the recapture of the Reindeer. Christy could not see what
had become of the rest of his men. He knew that three of them had been
secured, but he did not know what had become of the other six, and he
had some hope that they had escaped their assailants, and were in
condition to render him needed assistance, for it seemed impossible that
all of them could have been overcome.

In spite of his chagrin and mortification, Christy could not help seeing
that the affair on the part of Captain Stopfoot had been well managed,
and that the author of the plot was smart enough to be a Yankee, whether
he was one or not. It was evident enough now that the mate and the rest
of the crew had not "taken to the woods," but had been concealed in such
dens as could be easily made among the cotton bales.

"I hope you are not very uncomfortable, Mr. Passford," said Captain
Stopfoot, as he presented his smiling face before his late captor.

"Physically, I am not very uncomfortable, in spite of these bonds; but
otherwise, I must say that I am. I am willing to acknowledge that it is
a bad scrape for me," replied Christy as good-naturedly as possible, for
his pride would not allow him to let the enemy triumph over him.

"That would not be at all unnatural, and I think it is a very bad scrape
for a naval officer of your high reputation to get into," added the
captain. "But I desire to say, Mr. Passford, that I have no ill-will
towards you, and it will not be convenient for me to send you to a
Confederate prison, important as such a service would be to our cause."

"I judge that you are not as anxious as you were to get into the old
navy," added Christy.

"I confess that I am not, and that I should very much prefer to obtain a
good position in the Confederate navy. I hope you will excuse the little
fictions in which I indulged for your amusement. I was born in the very
heart of the State of Alabama, and never saw Long Island in all my
life," continued the captain. "By the way, my mate is not part owner of
the Reindeer, though he is just as faithful to her interests as though
he owned the whole of her; and it was he that pounced down upon you at
the right moment. I assure you he is a very good fellow, and I hope you
will not have any grudge against him."

"Not the least in the world, Captain Stopfoot," replied Christy.

"I hope I shall not be obliged to detain you long, Mr. Passford; and I
shall not unless one of your gunboats chases me. I shall endeavor to put
you and your men on shore at the Gasparilla Pass, where you can hail one
of the gunboats as it comes along in pursuit of the Reindeer, though I
hope they will not sail for this purpose before night."

"The Bellevite is not likely to discover the absence of the prize at
present, for she will have to remain up the bay over one tide," said the
mate.

"That is what I was calculating upon," added the captain. "Now, Mr.
Passford, I shall be compelled to take my leave of you, for we have to
stow the cotton over again before we go to sea. I am exceedingly obliged
to you for the very valuable service you have rendered me."

"I was not aware that I had rendered you any service," replied Christy,
wondering what he could mean.

"You are not? Then your perception is not as clear as I supposed it was.
When it was reported to me that two gunboats were coming into the bay I
considered the Reindeer as good as captured, as I have hinted to you
before. My cargo will bring a fortune in Nassau, and I am half owner of
the steamer and her cargo, if Mr. Groomer, the mate, is not. I was
almost in despair, for I could not afford to lose my vessel and her
valuable cargo. I considered myself utterly ruined. But just then I got
an idea, and I came to a prompt decision;" and the captain paused.

"And what was that decision?" asked Christy curiously.

"When I saw your boat coming, for I was on the long key, I determined
that you should bring the Reindeer out into the Gulf, and save me all
trouble and anxiety in regard to her, and I knew that you could do it a
great deal better than I could. Wherefore I am extremely grateful to you
for this very important service," said Captain Stopfoot, bowing very
politely. "But I am compelled to leave you now to your own pleasant
reflections. Mr. Passford, I shall ask you and your men to take
possession of the cabin, and not show yourselves on deck; and you will
pardon me if I lock the door upon you."

The captive officer followed the captain aft to the door of the cabin.
On a bale of cotton he saw the cutlasses and revolvers which had been
taken from him and his men, which had apparently been thrown in a heap
where they happened to hit, and had been forgotten. Seated on the cotton
he found all his men, with their hands tied behind them. Captain
Stopfoot opened the cabin door, and directed his prisoners to enter.

"Excuse me for leaving you so abruptly, Mr. Passford," continued the
captain while he was feeling in his pocket for the key of the door. "It
looks as though it were going to blow before night, and I must get ready
for it. Besides, the Bellevite may return on the present tide, and I am
informed that she is a very fast sailer, as the Reindeer is not, and I
must make the most of my opportunity; but when my fortune is made out of
my present cargo, I shall owe it largely to you. Adieu for the present."

Captain Stopfoot left the cabin, locking the door behind him. The hands
of the prisoners, ten in number, were tied behind them with ropes, for
probably the steamer was not provided with handcuffs. Christy examined
his men in regard to the manner in which they had been overcome. The
three men who had been left near the cabin door had been overthrown by
those who jumped down upon them when they were separated, one at the
stern, one on the bales, watching the Bellevite in the distance, and the
third asleep on a cotton bale. The lieutenant had seen the rest of the
enterprise.

"This thing is not going to last long, my men," said Christy, who
realized that he should never be able to stand up under the obloquy of
having brought out a blockade-runner for the enemy.

He caused the hands to march in front of him till he found one who had
been carelessly bound. He backed this one up in the rear of Calwood, the
quartermaster, and made him untie the line, which he could do with his
fingers, though his wrists were bound. It was not the work of three
minutes to unbind the rest of them.

Christy broke a pane of glass in the door, and unlocked it with the key
the captain had left in the keyhole.



CHAPTER XXXI

AN UNDESIRED PROMOTION


As Christy unlocked the cabin door, he discovered a negro lying on the
deck, as close as he could get to the threshold. The man attempted to
spring to his feet, but the officer seized him by the hair of the head,
and pulled him into the cabin.

"Here, Calwood, put your hand over this fellow's mouth!" said Christy to
the quartermaster, who laid violent hands on him, assisted by Norlock.

The latter produced a handkerchief, which he thrust into the mouth of
the negro, so that he could not give the alarm. All the men were alert
and eager to wipe out the shame, as they regarded it, of the disaster;
and those who had been stationed near the cabin had certainly been
wanting in vigilance. Two of them seized a couple of the lines with
which they had been bound, and tied the arms of the negro behind him.

A second look at the negro assured Christy that it was Quimp, and he was
more mortified than before at the trick which had been played upon him.
Thrusting his hand into the pocket of the fellow, he drew from it the
three sovereigns and the three shillings he had paid him for his boat
and his information. It was evident enough now that he belonged to the
Reindeer, and that he had been sent out by Captain Stopfoot to do
precisely what he had done, taking advantage of the general good feeling
which prevailed between the negroes and the Union forces.

Christy thought that Captain Stopfoot had been over-confident to leave
his prisoners without a guard; but it appeared now that Quimp had been
employed in this capacity, though it was probable that he had been
instructed not to show himself to them, and for that reason had crept to
his station and lain down on the deck.

"Now, my men, take your arms from that bale of cotton; but don't make
any noise," said Christy in a low tone, as he took his revolvers and
cutlass from the heap of weapons; and the seamen promptly obeyed the
order. "The captain of this steamer managed his affair very well indeed,
and I intend to adopt his tactics."

The steamer was under way, and had been for some time. Christy climbed
upon the bales of cotton far enough to see what the crew of the vessel
were doing. The hatches appeared to have been taken off in the waist and
forward, and the crew were lowering cargo into the hold. A portion of
the cotton had either been hoisted out of the hold, or had been left on
deck, to form the hiding-places for the men. The captain must have had
early notice of the approach of the Bellevite and Bronx; but there had
been time enough after the former began to fire at the battery to enable
him to make all his preparations.

Captain Stopfoot was not to be seen, and was probably in the
pilot-house. The officer concluded that there must be as many as four
men in the hold attending to the stowage of the bales, and four more
could be seen tumbling the cargo through the hatches. This accounted for
eight men; and this was the number Christy had figured out as the crew
of the Reindeer, though there was doubtless a man at the wheel. The
force was about equal to his own, not counting the engineers and the
firemen.

Christy stationed his men as he believed Captain Stopfoot had arranged
his force. The cabin was in a deck-house; between the door of it and the
piles of cotton was a vacant space of about six feet fore and aft, which
could not be overlooked from the forward part of the vessel. It was here
that the first movement had been made. Calwood, who had been on duty
here, said that two men had dropped down upon them; and when the third
man came to learn the cause of the disturbance, he had been secured by
two more.

This was the noise that Christy had heard when he sent two hands from
the forecastle to ascertain the occasion of it. The three prisoners had
been disarmed, bound, and concealed in the cabin. They were threatened
with instant death if they made any outcry, and one of their own
revolvers was pointed at them. Linman, who had been sent to learn what
had become of Hopkins and White, was treated in the same manner. Then he
went himself, and the mate had dropped upon him, while those from under
the bales secured Bench and Kingman.

Every sailor was fully instructed in regard to the part he was to have
in the programme, and Christy had crawled forward to the point where he
found the aperture in which Groomer, the mate, had been concealed. He
was followed by Norlock, a very powerful man, who was to "make the drop"
on Captain Stopfoot, and stuff a handkerchief into his mouth before he
could call for assistance. Christy believed that the commander would be
the first one to come aft when the men by the cabin fired their
revolvers, as they had been instructed to do.

Two hands had been placed where they could fall upon the two who were
rolling the cotton into the hold at the hatch in the waist; and two more
were instructed to rush forward and fall upon the two men at work at the
fore-hatch. The four men in the space in front of the cabin were to leap
upon the bales and rush forward, revolvers in hand, and secure those at
work in the hold. If there was any failure of the plan to work as
arranged, the sailors were to rally at the side of their officer, ready
for a stand-up fight.

Christy gave the signal for the two revolvers to be discharged. The
captain did not appear at the report of the arms as expected; but he
ordered the two hands at work at the after-hatch to go aft and look out
for the prisoners. The two seamen on that side of the steamer dropped
upon them, gagged them, and secured them so quickly that they could
hardly have known what had happened to them. The enterprise had been
inaugurated without much noise; but the captain had heard it, and called
one of the men at the fore-hatch to take the wheel, from which it
appeared that he had been steering the steamer himself.

The naval officer saw this man enter the pilot-house, from which Captain
Stopfoot had come out. He moved aft quite briskly with a revolver in his
hand; but as soon as he had reached the point where the mate had dropped
upon him, Christy leaped upon his head and shoulders, and he sank to
the deck, borne down by the weight of his assailant. He was surprised,
as the first victim of the movement had been, and a handkerchief was
stuffed into his mouth. He had dropped his weapon, which Christy picked
up and discharged while his knees were placed on the chest of the
prostrate commander, and his left hand grappled his throat. He was
conquered as quickly as the first victim had been.

The shots had been the signal for all not engaged to rally at the side
of the lieutenant, and the men rushed forward. All of them had removed
their neck handkerchiefs to serve as gags, and they brought with them
the lines with which they had been bound. The captain was rolled over,
and his arms tied behind him. He was sent aft to the cabin, while
Christy led six of his crew forward. The hands in the hold had attempted
to come on deck, but the two sailors at each hatch dropped upon them.

In less than five minutes every one of the crew of the Reindeer had been
"jumped upon," as the sailors put it, bound, and marched to the cabin.
The battle was fought and the victory won. Christy was quite as happy as
Captain Stopfoot had been when he had taken possession of the steamer.
The man at the wheel had been the last to be secured, and Calwood was
put in his place, with directions to come about and steer for Egmont
Key.

Christy determined not to make the mistake Captain Stopfoot had
committed in leaving his prisoners insufficiently guarded. He selected
four of his best men, ordered them to hold the cutlass in the right hand
and the revolver in the left, and to keep their eyes on the prisoners
all the time. He then went to those who had been gagged, and removed the
handkerchiefs from their mouths.

"I am as grateful to you, Captain Stopfoot, as you were to me less than
an hour ago," said Christy, and he removed the gag from his mouth. "I am
happy to be able to reciprocate your complimentary speeches."

"I am not aware that I have done anything to merit your gratitude, Mr.
Passford," said the chief prisoner.

"You are not? Why, my dear Captain, you could not have arranged
everything better than you did for the recapture of the Reindeer,"
replied Christy.

"I did not think that ten men with their hands tied behind them could do
anything to help themselves; but you Yankees are very ingenious, and it
seems that you found a way to liberate yourselves. Besides, I had a hand
here to watch you, with instructions to call me if there was any
trouble," added the captain, in an apologetic tone.

"When the trouble came he was not in condition to call you," the
lieutenant explained.

"No, sar! Dem beggars gagged me, and den robbed me of all my money!"
howled Quimp, whose greatest grievance was the loss of his fifteen
dollars.

"That was hardly justifiable, Mr. Passford," added the captain shaking
his head.

"It would not have been justifiable if the rogue had not first swindled
me out of the money," replied the naval officer.

"How was that?" asked the chief prisoner.

Christy explained the manner in which he had encountered Quimp, saying
that he had paid him five dollars for the loss of his boat, and ten for
the information that a steamer was loaded with cotton and ready to sail
behind the long key.

"Quimp is as smart as a Yankee," said Captain Stopfoot, laughing in
spite of his misfortune. "The flatboat was one we picked up on one of
the keys; and the information was precisely what I instructed Quimp to
give you, without money and without price. I promised to give him ten
dollars if he would pretend to be an honest nigger, and do the job
properly. I have no fault to find with him; but under present
circumstances I have not ten dollars to give him. I have lost the
steamer and the cotton, and it seems to be all up with me."

"I hope you will get into a safer business, Captain. I will suggest to
the commander of the Bellevite that you and your party be landed at
Gasparilla Pass; and I shall thus be able to reciprocate your good
intentions towards me."

Christy had sent some of his men forward, and he now followed them
himself. The engineers had remained in their room, and kept the
machinery in motion. As the Reindeer approached Egmont Key, the
Bellevite, followed by the Bronx towing a schooner, were discovered
coming out of the bay.

It was evident that the second lieutenant's capture had not been the
only one during the day, and he concluded that Mr. Lobscott had brought
out the schooner that had been supposed to be at Piney Point.

The Reindeer was about two miles south of Egmont Key when the Bellevite
came out of the bay, and the latter stopped her screw as soon as she had
reached a favorable position a mile from the island. Christy brought his
prize as near to her as it was prudent to go in the open sea. The
lieutenant went to the cabin to look out for the prisoners there, and
found that the four men who had been detailed a guard were marching up
and down the cabin in front of their charge, plainly determined that the
steamer should not be captured again.

"Boat from the Bellevite, sir," said one of the men on the quarter.

"Where is the Bronx and her prize now, Kingman?" asked Christy.

"Just coming by the island, sir."

In a few minutes more the third cutter of the Bellevite came alongside.
Mr. Walbrook, the third lieutenant of the ship, came on board of the
Reindeer, and touched his cap to his superior officer.

"Captain Breaker requests you to report on board of the ship, and I am
directed to take charge of the prize you have captured, Mr. Passford."

"I will go on board at once, Mr. Walbrook," replied Christy. "It is
necessary for me to inform you before I leave that this steamer has
changed hands twice to-day, and her ship's company have given me a great
deal of trouble. The prisoners are in the cabin under guard, and I must
caution you to be vigilant. Calwood will inform you in regard to the
particulars."

"I am sorry to inform you that Mr. Blowitt was severely, if not
dangerously wounded in the action with the battery up the bay, where we
had some sharp work," added Mr. Walbrook.

"That is very bad news to me," replied Christy, who had known the
wounded man as second officer of the Bellevite when she was his father's
yacht, and had served under him when she became a man-of-war, and as his
first lieutenant in the Bronx.

The intelligence filled him with anxiety and sorrow; but while he was
fighting for the right, as he had been for three years, he could not
give way to his feelings. Without asking for the result of the action up
the bay, he went over the side into the cutter, and ordered the crew to
pull for the ship. Mr. Blowitt had been more than his superior officer,
he had been his friend, and the young lieutenant was very sad while he
thought of the wounded officer.

He found Captain Breaker on the quarter-deck; and he could see from his
expression that he was greatly affected by the condition of his
executive officer. Mr. Dashington, his first officer in the yacht, had
been killed in action the year before, and now another of his intimate
associates might soon be registered in the Valhalla of the nation's dead
who had perished while fighting for the right.

"We have sad news for you, Mr. Passford," said the commander, who seemed
to be struggling with his emotions.

"But I hope there is a chance for Mr. Blowitt's recovery, Captain
Breaker," added Christy.

"I am afraid there is not. Dr. Linscott has very little hope that he
will live. But we have no time to mourn even for our best friends. You
have captured a steamer and brought her out; but I saw that you were
coming up from the southward when I first discovered the steamer. What
does that mean, Mr. Passford?"

"I hardly know, Captain, whether I brought her out, or she brought me
out," replied Christy, who felt very tender over the Southern Yankee
trick which had been played upon him. "The steamer is the Reindeer,
Captain Stopfoot. My boat's crew were overpowered by her ship's company,
and we were all made prisoners; but we rebelled against the humiliating
circumstances, and recaptured the steamer."

"Then you have redeemed yourself," added the captain.

Christy gave a detailed report of all the events that had occurred
during his absence from the ship. The commander listened to him with the
deepest interest; for the young officer was in some sense his _protégé_,
and had sometimes been his instructor in navigation and seamanship. In
spite of the sadness of the hour, there was a smile on his face when he
comprehended the scheme of the captain of the Reindeer to get his vessel
out of the bay in the face of two men-of-war.

While Christy was still on the quarter-deck, Mr. Lobscott came on board,
and reported the capture of the schooner Sylphide, full of cotton. Her
ship's company, consisting of six men, were on board of the Bronx.
Captain Breaker planked the deck for some time, evidently making up his
mind what to do with the prizes and with their crews, for he did not
regard these men as prisoners of war. He asked the second lieutenant
some questions in regard to the character of the Reindeer. She was an
old-fashioned craft, but a good vessel.

"We are rather overburdened with prisoners, and I desire only to get rid
of them," said the captain.

"Captain Stopfoot was considerate enough to announce his intention to
put me and my men on shore at Gasparilla Pass; and I promised to
reciprocate the favor by suggesting that he and his ship's company be
landed at the same place."

"That will be a good way to get rid of them, and I will adopt the
suggestion," replied the commander.

All the rest of the day and a part of the night were used up in making
the preparations for disposing of the prizes. A large number of hands
were sent on board of the Reindeer, and her cotton was nearly all placed
in the hold by good stowage. The prisoners from both prizes, except the
engineers and firemen, who were willing to work for wages, were
transferred to the Bronx. Mr. Lobscott was appointed prize-master of the
steamer, which was to tow the schooner to Key West, where both were to
be disposed of as circumstances might require.

The Bronx was to convoy the two vessels as far as the Pass, where she
was to land her prisoners, and then return to her consort. At midnight
this fleet sailed. A protest against being landed at the place indicated
came from Captain Stopfoot before it departed; but the commander paid no
attention to it, declaring that if the Pass was good enough for one of
his officers, it was good enough for the captain of a blockade-runner.

"Mr. Passford, by the lamentable accident to Mr. Blowitt, you become the
ranking lieutenant in condition for service," said Captain Breaker, soon
after the young officer had reported the capture of the Reindeer. "You
therefore become the acting executive officer of the Bellevite."

"Of course I shall do my duty faithfully, Captain Breaker, in whatever
position is assigned to me," replied Christy, his bosom swelling with
emotion. "I regret more than anything else the occasion that makes it
necessary to put me in this place; and I am very sorry to be called upon
to occupy a position of so much responsibility."

"You are competent to discharge the duties of executive officer, Mr.
Passford, though I appreciate your modesty in not desiring such an
important position; but there is no alternative at present."

It was therefore under Christy's direction that all the arrangements for
sending off the prizes were made. The Bronx returned at noon the next
day, and both vessels sailed to the station of the flag-officer. The
commander reported that he had silenced two batteries, captured a
steamer and a schooner, sending them to Key West; but the shoal water in
the vicinity of Tampa had prevented him from capturing the town.

Christy, in becoming first lieutenant, was relieved from duty as a watch
officer; but his duties and responsibilities had been vastly increased.
He was the second in command, and a shot from another vessel or a
battery on shore might make him the commander, and he certainly did not
aspire to such a charge and such an honor. There was something in the
situation that worried him greatly. Captain Breaker had not been to the
North since he entered upon his duties, now very nearly three years, and
the state of his health had given Dr. Linscott considerable uneasiness.

Mr. Blowitt was sent home by a store-ship; but he died soon after his
arrival; and his loving companions-in-arms could not follow his remains
to an honored grave.

The flag-officer, either because he believed that Christy was a faithful
and competent officer, in spite of his age, though in this respect he
had added a year to his span, or that no other officer was available for
the vacant position, made no other appointment, and Christy was
compelled to retain the place, very much against his desire. As he
thought of it he was absolutely astonished to find himself, even
temporarily, in so exalted a position.

Here we are obliged to leave him for the present, crowned with honors
far beyond his most sanguine expectations, but always willing to do his
duty while fighting for the right. The future was still before him; he
had not yet done all there was for him to do; and in the early years of
his manhood came his reward, in common with the loyal sons of the
nation, in A VICTORIOUS UNION.



OLIVER OPTIC'S BOOKS

+All-Over-the-World Library.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. First Series.
    Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +A Missing Million+; or, The Adventures of Louis Belgrade.
  2. +A Millionaire at Sixteen+; or, The Cruise of the "Guardian
        Mother."
  3. +A Young Knight Errant+; or, Cruising in the West Indies.
  4. +Strange Sights Abroad+; or, Adventures in European Waters.

  No author has come before the public during the present generation
  who has achieved a larger and more deserving popularity among young
  people than "Oliver Optic." His stories have been very numerous,
  but they have been uniformly excellent in moral tone and literary
  quality. As indicated in the general title, it is the author's
  intention to conduct the readers of this entertaining series "around
  the world." As a means to this end, the hero of the story purchases
  a steamer which he names the "Guardian Mother," and with a number of
  guests she proceeds on her voyage.--_Christian Work, N.Y._


+All-Over-the-World Library.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Second Series.
    Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +American Boys Afloat+; or, Cruising in the Orient.
  2. +The Young Navigator+; or, The Foreign Cruise of the "Maud."
  3. +Up and Down the Nile+; or, Young Adventurers in Africa.
  4. +Asiatic Breeze+; or, Students on the Wing.

  The interest in these stories is continuous, and there is a great
  variety of exciting incident woven into the solid information which
  the book imparts so generously and without the slightest suspicion
  of dryness. Manly boys will welcome this volume as cordially as they
  did its predecessors.--_Boston Gazette_.


+All-Over-the-World Library.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Third Series.
    Illustrated. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +Across India+; or, Live Boys in the Far East.
  2. +Half Round the World+; or, Among the Uncivilized.
  3. +Four Young Explorers+; or, Sight-Seeing in the Tropics.
  4. +Pacific Shores+; or, Adventures in Eastern Seas.

  Amid such new and varied surroundings it would be surprising indeed
  if the author, with his faculty of making even the commonplace
  attractive, did not tell an intensely interesting story of
  adventure, as well as give much information in regard to the distant
  countries through which our friends pass, and the strange peoples
  with whom they are brought in contact. This book, and indeed the
  whole series, is admirably adapted to reading aloud in the family
  circle, each volume containing matter which will interest all the
  members of the family.--_Boston Budget_.


LEE AND SHEPARD, BOSTON, SEND THEIR COMPLETE CATALOGUE FREE.


OLIVER OPTIC'S BOOKS

+Army and Navy Stories.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Six volumes. Illustrated.
    Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +The Soldier Boy+; or, Tom Somers in the Army.
  2. +The Sailor Boy+; or, Jack Somers in the Navy.
  3. +The Young Lieutenant+; or, Adventures of an Army Officer.
  4. +The Yankee Middy+; or, Adventures of a Navy Officer.
  5. +Fighting Joe+; or, The Fortunes of a Staff Officer.
  6. +Brave Old Salt+; or, Life on the Quarter Deck.

  "This series of six volumes recounts the adventures of two brothers,
  Tom and Jack Somers, one in the army, the other in the navy, in
  the great Civil War. The romantic narratives of the fortunes and
  exploits of the brothers are thrilling in the extreme. Historical
  accuracy in the recital of the great events of that period is
  strictly followed, and the result is, not only a library of
  entertaining volumes, but also the best history of the Civil War
  for young people ever written."


+Boat Builders Series.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. In six volumes. Illustrated.
    Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +All Adrift+; or, The Goldwing Club.
  2. +Snug Harbor+; or, The Champlain Mechanics.
  3. +Square and Compasses+; or, Building the House.
  4. +Stem to Stern+; or, Building the Boat.
  5. +All Taut+; or, Rigging the Boat.
  6. +Ready About+; or, Sailing the Boat.

  "The series includes in six successive volumes the whole art of boat
  building, boat rigging, boat managing, and practical hints to make
  the ownership of a boat pay. A great deal of useful information
  is given in this +Boat Builders Series+, and in each book a very
  interesting story is interwoven with the information. Every reader
  will be interested at once in Dory, the hero of 'All Adrift,' and
  one of the characters retained in the subsequent volumes of the
  series. His friends will not want to lose sight of him, and every
  boy who makes his acquaintance in 'All Adrift' will become his
  friend."


+Riverdale Story Books.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Twelve volumes. Illustrated.
    Illuminated covers. Price: cloth, per set, $3.60; per volume,
    30 cents.

  1. +Little Merchant.+       7. +Proud and Lazy.+
  2. +Young Voyagers.+        8. +Careless Kate.+
  3. +Christmas Gift.+        9. +Robinson Crusoe, Jr.+
  4. +Dolly and I.+          10. +The Picnic Party.+
  5. +Uncle Ben.+            11. +The Gold Thimble.+
  6. +Birthday Party.+       12. +The Do-Somethings.+

+Riverdale Story Books.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Six volumes. Illustrated.
    Fancy cloth and colors. Price per volume, 30 cents.

  1. +Little Merchant.+       4. +Careless Kate.+
  2. +Proud and Lazy.+        5. +Dolly and I.+
  3. +Young Voyagers.+        6. +Robinson Crusoe, Jr.+

+Flora Lee Library.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Six volumes. Illustrated.
    Fancy cloth and colors. Price per volume, 30 cents.

  1. +The Picnic Party.+      4. +Christmas Gift.+
  2. +The Gold Thimble.+      5. +Uncle Ben.+
  3. +The Do-Somethings.+     6. +Birthday Party.+

  These are bright short stories for younger children who are unable
  to comprehend the +Starry Flag Series+ or the +Army and Navy
  Series+. But they all display the author's talent for pleasing
  and interesting the little folks. They are all fresh and original,
  preaching no sermons, but inculcating good lessons.


LEE AND SHEPARD, BOSTON, SEND THEIR COMPLETE CATALOGUE FREE.


OLIVER OPTIC'S BOOKS

+The Great Western Series.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. In six volumes.
    Illustrated. Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +Going West+; or, The Perils of a Poor Boy.
  2. +Out West+; or, Roughing it on the Great Lakes.
  3. +Lake Breezes+; or, The cruise of the Sylvania.
  4. +Going South+; or, Yachting on the Atlantic Coast.
  5. +Down South+; or, Yacht Adventures in Florida.
  6. +Up the River+; or, Yachting on the Mississippi.

  "This is the latest series of books issued by this popular writer,
  and deals with life on the Great Lakes, for which a careful study
  was made by the author in a summer tour of the immense water sources
  of America. The story, which carries the same hero through the six
  books of the series, is always entertaining, novel scenes and varied
  incidents giving a constantly changing yet always attractive aspect
  to the narrative. OLIVER OPTIC has written nothing better."


+The Yacht Club Series.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. In six volumes. Illustrated.
Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +Little Bobtail+; or, The Wreck of the Penobscot.
  2. +The Yacht Club+; or, The Young Boat Builders.
  3. +Money-Maker+; or, The Victory of the Basilisk.
  4. +The Coming Wave+; or, The Treasure of High Rock.
  5. +The Dorcas Club+; or, Our Girls Afloat.
  6. +Ocean Born+; or, The Cruise of the Clubs.

  "The series has this peculiarity, that all of its constituent
  volumes are independent of one another, and therefore each story is
  complete in itself. OLIVER OPTIC is, perhaps, the favorite author of
  the boys and girls of this country, and he seems destined to enjoy
  an endless popularity. He deserves his success, for he makes very
  interesting stories, and inculcates none but the best sentiments,
  and the 'Yacht Club' is no exception to this rule."--_New Haven
  Journal and Courier_.


+Onward and Upward Series+. By OLIVER OPTIC. In six volumes.
Illustrated. Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +Field and Forest+; or, The Fortunes of a Farmer.
  2. +Plane and Plank+; or, The Mishaps of a Mechanic.
  3. +Desk and Debit+; or, The Catastrophes of a Clerk.
  4. +Cringle and Crosstree+; or, The Sea Swashes of a Sailor.
  5. +Bivouac and Battle+; or, The Struggles of a Soldier.
  6. +Sea and Shore+; or, The Tramps of a Traveller.

  "Paul Farringford, the hero of these tales, is, like most of this
  author's heroes, a young man of high spirit, and of high aims and
  correct principles, appearing in the different volumes as a farmer,
  a captain, a bookkeeper, a soldier, a sailor, and a traveller. In
  all of them the hero meets with very exciting adventures, told in
  the graphic style for which the author is famous."


+The Lake Shore Series+. By OLIVER OPTIC. In six volumes. Illustrated.
Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +Through by Daylight+; or, The Young Engineer of the Lake Shore
        Railroad.
  2. +Lightning Express+; or, The Rival Academies.
  3. +On Time+; or, The Young Captain of the Ucayga Steamer.
  4. +Switch Off+; or, The War of the Students.
  5. +Brake Up+; or, The Young Peacemakers.
  6. +Bear and Forbear+; or, The Young Skipper of Lake Ucayga.

  "OLIVER OPTIC is one of the most fascinating writers for youth, and
  withal one of the best to be found in this or any past age. Troops
  of young people hang over his vivid pages; and not one of them ever
  learned to be mean, ignoble, cowardly, selfish, or to yield to any
  vice from anything they ever read from his pen."--_Providence
  Press_.


LEE AND SHEPARD, BOSTON, SEND THEIR COMPLETE CATALOGUE FREE.


OLIVER OPTIC'S BOOKS

+The Famous Boat Club Series.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Six volumes.
    Illustrated. Any volume sold separately. Price per volume $1.25.

  1. +The Boat Club+; or, The Bunkers of Rippleton.
  2. +All Aboard+; or, Life on the Lake.
  3. +Now or Never+; or, The Adventures of Bobby Bright.
  4. +Try Again+; or, The Trials and Triumphs of Harry West.
  5. +Poor and Proud+; or, The Fortunes of Katy Redburn.
  6. +Little by Little+; or, The Cruise of the Flyaway.

  "This is the first series of books written for the young by OLIVER
  OPTIC. It laid the foundation for his fame as the first of authors
  in which the young delight, and gained for him the title of the
  Prince of Story Tellers. The six books are varied in incident and
  plot, but all are entertaining and original."


+Young America Abroad+: A Library of Travel and Adventure in Foreign
    Lands. By OLIVER OPTIC. Illustrated by Nast and others.
    First Series. Six volumes. Any volume sold separately. Price per
    volume, $1.25.

  1. +Outward Bound+; or, Young America Afloat.
  2. +Shamrock and Thistle+; or, Young America in Ireland and Scotland.
  3. +Red Cross+; or, Young America in England and Wales.
  4. +Dikes and Ditches+; or, Young America in Holland and Belgium.
  5. +Palace and Cottage+; or, Young America in France and Switzerland.
  6. +Down the Rhine+; or, Young America in Germany.

  "The story from its inception, and through the twelve volumes (see
  Second Series), is a bewitching one, while the information imparted
  concerning the countries of Europe and the isles of the sea is not
  only correct in every particular, but is told in a captivating
  style. OLIVER OPTIC will continue to be the boys' friend, and his
  pleasant books will continue to be read by thousands of American
  boys. What a fine holiday present either or both series of 'Young
  America Abroad' would be for a young friend! It would make a little
  library highly prized by the recipient, and would not be an
  expensive one."--_Providence Press_.


+Young America Abroad.+ By OLIVER OPTIC. Second Series. Six volumes.
    Illustrated. Any volume sold separately. Price per volume, $1.25.

  1. +Up the Baltic+; or, Young America in Norway, Sweden, and
       Denmark.
  2. +Northern Lands+; or, Young America in Russia and Prussia.
  3. +Cross and Crescent+; or, Young America in Turkey and Greece.
  4. +Sunny Shores+; or, Young America in Italy and Austria.
  5. +Vine and Olive+; or, Young America in Spain and Portugal.
  6. +Isles of the Sea+; or, Young America Homeward Bound.

  "OLIVER OPTIC is a _nom de plume_ that is known and loved by almost
  every boy of intelligence in the land. We have seen a highly
  intellectual and world-weary man, a cynic whose heart was somewhat
  embittered by its large experience of human nature, take up one of
  OLIVER OPTIC's books, and read it at a sitting, neglecting his work
  in yielding to the fascination of the pages. When a mature and
  exceedingly well-informed mind, long despoiled of all its freshness,
  can thus find pleasure in a book for boys, no additional words of
  recommendation are needed."--_Sunday Times_.


LEE AND SHEPARD, BOSTON, SEND THEIR COMPLETE CATALOGUE FREE.


       *       *       *       *       *
           *       *       *       *
       *       *       *       *       *

Errata Noted by Transcriber:

Invisible punctuation has been silently supplied, and superfluous
quotation marks removed. Inconsistent hyphenation has been retained.

The spelling "cockswain" is standard for this text. The variation
between "knots" and "knots an hour" is as in the original.

"_Demandez un garcon_" (ask for a waiter), "Christophe."
  _cedilla missing in original_
and your wonderful skill as a detective
  _text reads "wonderful-skill"_
he could not breathe as freely as usual
  _text reads "breath"_
There was a port light to the room
  _so in original: "porthole"?_
the commander of that steamer
  _text reads "of of" at line break_
I heard the villanous ruffian swear that he would kill you
  _spelling "villanous" as in original_
"Do you know of any steamers ..." asked Christy.
  _entire paragraph as in original_
He knew that three of them had been secured
  _text reads "know"_
All of them had removed
  _text reads "of of"_





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