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´╗┐Title: Marcy The Blockade Runner
Author: Castlemon, Harry, 1842-1915
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Marcy The Blockade Runner" ***

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                [Frontispiece: MARCY AND THE OVERSEER.]

                        CASTLEMON'S WAR SERIES.



                                MARCY



                                 THE



                           BLOCKADE-RUNNER

                                 BY

                          HARRY CASTLEMON,

         AUTHOR OF "GUNBOAT SERIES," "ROCKY MOUNTAIN SERIES,"

                "SPORTSMAN'S CLUB SERIES," ETC., ETC.

                 Four Illustrations by Geo. G. White.



                            PHILADELPHIA:

                           PORTER & COATES.



                           Copyright, 1891,

                                  BY

                           PORTER & COATES.



                              CONTENTS.



       CHAPTER                       PAGE

    I. MARCY HAS A VISITOR,             1

   II. HIDING THE FLAGS,               26

  III. BEARDSLEY BETRAYS HIMSELF,      52

   IV. TWO NARROW ESCAPES,             77

    V. A CAT WITHOUT CLAWS,           105

   VI. RUNNING THE BLOCKADE,          125

  VII. THE mate's LUCKY SHOT,         150

 VIII. A NOISE AT THE WINDOW,         174

   IX. THE "_SUMTER_" LOSES A PRIZE,  197

    X. A COOL PROPOSITION,            219

   XI. THE BANNER ON THE WALL,        241

  XII. CONFLICTING REPORTS,           268

 XIII. UNION OR CONFEDERATE--WHICH?   292

  XIV. JULIUS IN TROUBLE,             317

   XV. THE ENCHANTED LOOKING-GLASS,   339

  XVI. OFF FOR THE FLEET,             362

 XVII. AN UNEXPECTED MEETING,         381

XVIII. CONCLUSION,                    403



                      MARCY, THE BLOCKADE-RUNNER,



                              CHAPTER I.

                          MARCY HAS A VISITOR.

The boys who have read the first volume of this series of books, in
which we followed the fortunes of our Union hero, Marcy Gray, and
described the persevering but unsuccessful efforts he made to be true to
his colors in deed as well as in spirit, will remember that we left him
at his home near Nashville, North Carolina, enjoying a brief respite
from the work he so heartily detested, that of privateering. He had made
one voyage in the _Osprey_ under Captain Beardsley, during which he
assisted in capturing the schooner _Mary Hollins_, bound from Havana to
Boston with an assorted cargo. When the prize was brought into the port
of Newbern the whole town went wild with excitement, Captain Beardsley's
agent being so highly elated that he urged the master of the _Osprey_ to
run out at once and try his luck again, before the capture of the
_Hollins_ became known at the North. But Beardsley, who was afraid to
trust landsharks any farther than he could see them, declared with a
good deal of earnestness that he would not budge an inch until the
legality of the capture had been settled by the courts, the vessel and
cargo sold, and the dollars that belonged to him and his crew were
planked down in their two hands. Knowing that it would take time to go
through all these formalities, Marcy Gray asked for a leave of absence,
which Beardsley granted according to promise, and in less than half an
hour after the _Osprey_ was hauled alongside the wharf, her disgusted
young pilot, wishing from the bottom of his heart that she might sink
out of sight before he ever saw her again, left her and went home as
fast as the cars could take him. When we last saw him he had reached his
mother's house, and was reading a letter from his cousin, _Rodney the
Partisan_ a portion of which we gave to the reader at the close of the
first volume of this series.

"Rodney is full of enthusiasm, isn't he?" exclaimed Marcy, when he had
finished reading the letter. "He says he looks for 'high old times'
running the Yankees out of Missouri, but I am afraid he'll not enjoy
them as much as he thinks he will. Perhaps the Yankees are not good
runners. But Rodney has been true to his colors and I have not. I said I
never would fight against the Union, but I have stood by and seen a gun
fired at the old flag; and I have no doubt that the skipper of the
_Hollins_ when he saw me aboard the privateer, took me for as good a
rebel as there was in the crew. Perhaps he will see his mistake some
day. I shall have to accept my share of the prize money, for if I don't
Beardsley's suspicions will be aroused; but I'll put it away and send it
to the master of the _Hollins_ the first good chance I get. Has Wat
Gifford been here since I went to sea? You know he warned me of two
secret enemies I would have to look out for, and hinted that he would
some day tell me who the rest are." ["But I think I know already," added
Marcy mentally.] While he was at sea he had had ample leisure to think
over the situation, and had made up his mind that he knew right where
the most serious danger that threatened him and his mother was coming
from.

"Walter has been here," replied Mrs. Gray, "and I understand that he has
since gone back to the army, his furlough, which was a short one, having
expired. I was glad to see Walter, for it was a very great relief to
visit with some one to whom I knew I could talk freely; but I must say
he left a very unpleasant impression on my mind. He told me, in so many
words, that we are suspected of being traitors at heart, and that there
are but few of our neighbors we can trust."

"And who are they?" inquired Marcy. "When we know who our friends are,
it will be no trouble for us to pick out our enemies."

"I asked Walter that very question, and after some hesitation he was
obliged to confess that he could not name a single person. There are
some who denounce secession in the very strongest terms, but that
doesn't prove anything, for Walter has often done the same thing
himself, and he is a rebel soldier," said Mrs. Gray sadly. "Only think
of it, Marcy! To not one of the many who were our warm friends in times
past, can we go for advice and sympathy, now that trouble is coming upon
us. Is it not dreadful?"

"Who cares for advice or sympathy?" exclaimed the boy wrathfully. "We've
got each other and Jack to go to when the pinch comes, and outsiders can
just mind their own business and live to themselves, and let us do the
same. Traitors! That word doesn't apply to us, mother."

"I know it doesn't; but for all that I am afraid that the 'outsiders,'
as you call them, will not let us live to ourselves. Young Gifford
almost as good as told me that some of our near neighbors intend to keep
themselves posted in regard to our movements."

"The--the impudence of the thing!" exclaimed the young pilot, pounding
his knees with his clenched hands. "Who's going to keep them posted?
Where do they expect to get their information? Through the overseer?"

"Through the overseer," whispered Mrs. Gray, in reply.

"Are you afraid to speak the words out loud?" cried Marcy, who had
seldom been so excited as he was at that moment. "Great Moses! Have
things come to such a pass that we dare not talk in our ordinary tones
in our own house, but must carry on our conversation in whispers?"

"I was in hopes that my letters would prepare you for something like
this," said his mother slowly.

"Well, they didn't. Of course I knew I should find things changed, but I
never thought we should be spied upon in our own house," answered Marcy.
"Traitors, are we, when we haven't done the first thing to deserve the
name! But is there no way in which that villain Hanson can be got rid
of?"

"There is but one way that occurs to me now," was the reply. "When his
contract expires we can tell him that we do not intend to employ an
overseer any longer."

"And that will be almost a year from now," groaned Marcy. "How can we
live for so many months, knowing all the while that our every movement
is watched, and that some one is constantly trying to catch every word
we say? I don't believe I can stand it. Did Gifford say anything
about----"

Marcy paused, got upon his feet, and opened quickly, but silently, one
after another, all the doors that led from the room in which he and his
mother were sitting. There were no eavesdroppers among the servants
_yet_ but that was no sign that there wouldn't be some to-morrow or next
day. An overseer who was left as much to himself as Hanson was, held
great power in his hands; and some negro servants are as open to bribery
as some white people are. Having made sure that there was no one
listening at the door, Marcy drew his chair close to his mother's side
before he spoke again.

"Did Gifford say anything about the money--the thirty thousand dollars
in gold you have hidden in the cellar wall?" he asked, in suppressed
tones.

"He did, and it troubles me more than anything else he said during his
visit," replied Mrs. Gray, glancing nervously around the room, as if she
feared that there might be a listener concealed behind some of the
chairs or under the sofa. "In spite of my utmost care, that matter,
which I hoped to keep from the knowledge of even the most faithful among
the servants, has become known. I cannot account for it. It fairly
unnerves me to think of it, for it suggests a most alarming
possibility."

"Did Gifford say, in so many words, that you were known to have money in
the house?"

"He did not. He said it was suspected."

"And what is the alarming possibility you just spoke of?" continued
Marcy.

"Why, I am afraid that there is some trusted person nearer to me than
the overseer is--some one right here in the house who has been watching
me day and night," answered his mother, shivering all over and drawing
nearer to her sturdy son, as if for protection. "You don't know how it
makes me feel, or how keenly I have suffered since young Gifford's
visit."

"I wish he had stopped away," said Marcy, almost fiercely.

"I don't," replied his mother. "He meant it for the best, and wouldn't
have told me a word if I had not insisted. You must not blame Walter. It
is best that I should understand the situation; and Marcy, you know you
would not have told me a word of all this if Gifford had told it to
you."

"Perhaps he did say something to me about it," answered the boy, with an
air which said that his mother had not been telling him anything he did
not know before. "But I have been more careful of your feelings than
Gifford was."

"And did you mean to leave me all in the dark and utterly ignorant of
the perils that surround us?" said Mrs. Gray reproachfully. "Do you
think that would have been just to me? Don't imagine, because you are my
protector and the only one I have to depend on while Jack is at sea,
that you have all the courage there is between us. I know you would
shield me entirely if you could, but it is impossible; and you must let
me bear my part. I shall have to whether you consent or not. But you
haven't yet told me where you have been, how you captured that vessel,
what the captain said about it, or--or anything," she added, with a
feeble attempt to bring the boy's usual smile back to his face.
"Remember, I am deeply interested in all that you do."

"Well, you wouldn't be if you had seen the cowardly work I helped
Beardsley carry out," replied Marcy. "In the first place, Crooked Inlet
is buoyed in such a way that the stranger who tries to go through it
will run his vessel so hard and fast aground that she will be likely to
stay there until the waves make an end of her, or the shifting sands of
the bar bury her out of sight."

"That's murderous," exclaimed Mrs. Gray, with a shudder. "Is Captain
Beardsley about to turn wrecker?"

"He means to wreck any war vessel that may give chase to his schooner,"
answered Marcy. "If we are pursued, I can take the _Osprey_ through all
right; but if the man-of-war attempts to follow us, and allows herself
to be guided by the buoys, she'll stick. Oh, it's lovely business--a
brave and honorable business," exclaimed the boy, running his hands
through his hair and tumbling it up as he used to do at school when he
found anything in his books that was too hard for him. "I have the
profoundest contempt for the villain who brought me into it, and despise
myself for yielding to him."

"But, Marcy, what else could you have done? Gilford assured me it was
the only course open to you, and that by shipping as pilot on board that
privateer you have somewhat allayed suspicion."

"Mother," said Marcy, placing his arm around her neck and whispering the
words in her ear, "Captain Beardsley doesn't need a pilot any more than
he needs some one to command his piratical craft. I suspected as much
all the while, and the minute we got up to Crooked Inlet I knew it. He
can tell you more about the coast in five minutes than I could in an
hour."

"Of course, a trader----" began Mrs. Gray.

"Mother," repeated Marcy, "Lon Beardsley is not and never has been a
trader. He's a smuggler between this country and Cuba. He says himself
that he never made a voyage farther away from home than the West Indies.
He knows every inch of the coast like a book."

"Then what does he want of you?" inquired Mrs. Gray, with a look of
surprise. "Why can he not permit you to stay at home in peace, as he
knows I want you to do? Do you still think he wants to test your loyalty
to the South?"

"That's just what he is up to," replied Marcy. "He came here in the hope
that I would refuse his offer, so that he would have an excuse for
getting me into trouble."

Yes, that was one object Captain Beardsley had in view when he proposed
to make Marcy Gray pilot of the privateer, but there was another behind
it, and one that was much nearer to the smuggler's heart. As Marcy had
told his friend Wat Gifford, on the day the two held that confidential
conversation in front of the Nashville post-office, Beardsley wanted to
marry Mrs. Gray's plantation; and when he found that he must give up all
hope in that direction, like the poor apology for a man that he was, he
hit upon a plan for taking vengeance upon Marcy's mother. If she proved,
when the test was applied, to be friendly to the South and its cause, he
would not dare lift a finger against her or her property, for he knew
that if he did his neighbors would quickly interest themselves in the
matter; but if she would only refuse to permit Marcy to ship on board
the privateer, then he would have a clear field for his operations. He
could accuse Marcy's mother of being a Yankee sympathizer, and that
would turn the whole settlement against her at once, because she was
already suspected of Union sentiments, and some of her nearest neighbors
were so certain that she was loyal to the old flag and opposed to
secession, that they thought it their duty to cease visiting her. It
would be no trouble at all, Beardsley thought, to arouse public feeling
against her; but unfortunately for the success of his plans, Mrs. Gray
did not refuse her consent; the boy took the position offered him on the
_Osprey_ made one voyage at sea, and did his duty as faithfully as any
other member of the crew.

"I know Beardsley wanted to find out where I stood," repeated Marcy. "He
expected and hoped that I would refuse to accept his proposition so that
he would have an excuse for persecuting us; but being disappointed
there, he intends to work in another direction. He means to make trouble
on account of the money you have in the cellar."

"But what business--what right has he with it?" said Mrs. Gray
indignantly. "It's ours."

"I know it, and we're going to keep it; but if Beardsley can make sure
that you went to Richmond, Wilmington, and Newbern for _money_--and I
think you will find that he looks to Hanson, the overseer, to furnish
him with the proof, and bring a gang of longshoremen up here from
Plymouth some dark night----"

"Oh, Marcy!" cried Mrs. Gray, starting from her chair and clasping her
hands in alarm, "don't speak of it!"

"I wish from the bottom of my heart that I need not have told you of
it," said the boy, getting upon his feet and pacing the floor with
restless, angry strides. "But Wat Gifford believes that something of the
sort is going to happen, and so do I. Wat didn't say so, but I am sure
that is what he would have told me if he had found me at home when he
came here. You knew there was danger in every one of those gold pieces
you brought home with you; else why did you take so much pains to put
them where you thought no one would be likely to find them?"

"It is true I did know it, and was afraid that if the news got abroad in
the settlement, some of our poor neighbors might be tempted to commit
crime," answered Mrs. Gray. "We never had so large an amount of money in
the house before, and its presence troubles me greatly; but I never
dreamed that we had anything to fear from an organized band of
freebooters."

"And the fear of what Beardsley will do, if he finds out that the money
is really in the house, is what troubles me," said the young pilot
dolefully. "That man is capable of any desperate deed when he thinks he
has the power on his side. I know you never thought of such a thing at
the time, but your trips about the country, which Wat Gifford says could
not have been made without an object of some sort, have excited a good
deal of talk among the neighbors. Captain Beardsley posted Hanson, and
Hanson, so Wat told me, is more to be feared than any one else, for he
is right here on the place. These secret enemies will drive us both
crazy."

"We'll not give them the satisfaction of knowing that they can trouble
us in the least," replied his mother, with dignity. "Now we will dismiss
them entirely from our minds, while you tell me all the interesting
things that happened during your cruise."

"There isn't a thing to tell," was Marcy's answer. "We sighted the
_Hollins_ inside Diamond Shoals, threw a couple of shrapnel at her and
she came to; that's all there was of it. Her skipper was a sailorman all
over, and plucky, too; and if he had had anything to fight with, he
would have made things lively for us. I never before felt so sorry for
anybody as I did for him; but of course I didn't have a chance to tell
him so. I may some day meet him under different circumstances."

When the boy said this he did not really believe that such a thing ever
could occur, but nevertheless it did. Strange things happen in this
world sometimes, and in process of time it came about that the young
pilot again stood face to face with the master of the _Mary Hollins_ no
longer a prisoner pleading with Captain Beardsley that his men might not
be ironed like felons, but standing free on the quarter-deck of an armed
vessel, with a hundred blue-jackets ready to do his bidding, and the
Stars and Stripes waving proudly and triumphantly above him. And
Beardsley--he was there, too; and perhaps we shall see what sort of
heart he kept up when he found himself thrust into the "brig" so quickly
that he did not have time to tell what his name was.

"How long does your leave of absence extend?" inquired Mrs. Gray, after
a little pause.

"Until I am ordered to report," replied Marcy, with a laugh. "Perhaps
the captain didn't know I wrote it out that way, but that isn't my
fault. It was his business to read the paper before signing it. If he
wants me he will have to send for me. You ought to have heard that
Newbern mob whoop and yell when the crew of the _Hollins_ were marched
off to jail. They called them 'Abolitionists' and 'nigger-lovers'; but
the prisoners kept their eyes straight to the front, and marched on as
though they didn't hear a word of it. It was a shame to treat brave men
that way."

Just as the young pilot ceased speaking there was a gentle knock at the
door; and so sudden and unexpected was it, that it brought both him and
his mother to their feet in a twinkling. How long had the person who
gave that knock been within reach of the door, was the first thought
that arose in the mind of each. Had some one crept along the hall and
listened at the key-hole in the hope of hearing some of their
conversation?

"If that is the case," Marcy whispered to his mother, "she has had her
trouble for her pains. We haven't said a dozen words that could have
been heard the length of this room. 'Come in!'"

The door opened to admit one of the numerous female house servants, who
announced that there was a gentleman on the gallery who had called to
see Mrs. Gray on very important private and particular business.

"She looks innocent enough," thought Marcy, who could not bring himself
to believe, as his mother evidently did, that some of the domestics were
watching their movements and reporting the result of their observations
to the overseer. "I don't think she heard a word, and she certainly
could not have seen anything." And then, finding that his mother was
looking at him as if she meant him to understand that she knew what the
visitor's business was, and desired him to take it off her hands, he
said, aloud: "Who is the gentleman, and do you know what he's got to say
that is so very important and particular?"

"I don't know, sah, what he want to speak about," answered the girl,
"but de man is Mr. Kelsey."

Marcy could hardly keep back an exclamation of disgust, and in an
instant he was on his guard. The man's name and the message he had sent
in warned him to be on the lookout for treachery. Kelsey was one of
Beardsley's "renters"--that is to say, he hired from the captain a few
acres of ground, on which he managed to raise enough corn and potatoes
to keep his family from absolute want, and a little log cabin in which
he found shelter when he was not absent on his hunting and thieving
expeditions. Marcy had not seen him since his return from Barrington,
but he had heard of him as a red-hot Confederate who went about
declaring that hanging was too good for Yankees and their sympathizers.
When Marcy heard of this, he told himself that the man was another Bud
Goble, who, when the pinch came, would take to the woods and stay there
as long as danger threatened.

"I'll be with him directly," he said, addressing himself to the girl,
who went out, closing the door behind her.

"What in the name of wonder can that worthless man want with me?"
whispered Mrs. Gray, when she thought she had given the domestic time to
get out of hearing. "He has never been in this house before except to
beg."

"And he wouldn't be here now if he hadn't been sent," replied the boy.

"Oh, Marcy!" said his mother.

"That is just what I mean. It isn't old clothes or grub that he is after
this time."

"But Beardsley couldn't have put him up to anything. He is in Newbern."

"No odds. He left plenty of friends behind to do his dirty work, and
this fellow, Kelsey, is one of them. It will take a sharper man than he
is to pull the wool over my eyes."

"Don't be over-confident, my son. He is not too insignificant--no one is
too insignificant these times to do us some terrible injury. Be careful
how you treat him and what you say to him. It might be dangerous to make
him angry, for he has powerful friends behind him. Don't be gone long,
for I shall be uneasy until you return."

"I'll be right back," promised Marcy; and, giving his mother a
reassuring kiss, he left the room and went out on the porch to see what
Beardsley's friend and spy wanted.

The latter looked just as he did the last time Marcy saw him--too lazy
to take a long breath. He was tall and lank, his hair fell down upon his
shoulders, his whiskers were as tangled and matted as a little brush
heap--in short, he was as fine a specimen of a poor white as one could
find anywhere in the seceded States. He looked stupid as well as
shiftless, but the young pilot knew he wasn't. He was as sly as a fox
and as cunning as well, and Marcy confessed to himself that he stood
more in fear of him than he did of Captain Beardsley. When the man heard
Marcy's step upon the porch, he tried to assume the servile air which
was characteristic of poor Southern whites before the war; but he did
not succeed very well. His manner seemed to say that he knew he was
dealing with one he could crush whenever he felt like it, and of whom he
need not stand in fear; and Marcy was quick to notice it.

"Sarvent, sah," said Kelsey, rising to his feet and taking off his
tattered hat, which, however, he almost instantly replaced. "I heared
that you had got back again from sea, an' that you had whopped the
Yankees first time tryin', same as our fellers done down to
Charleston."

"Yes, sir," replied Marcy, seating himself, and depositing his feet on
the railing, as if to indicate that he was quite at the service of his
friend Kelsey as long as the latter wanted to talk to him. "We whipped
them, and we could do the same thing again." ["And that's nothing but
the truth," he added, to himself. "When an armed vessel meets one that's
not armed, the helpless one is bound to go under every time."]

It is hard to tell just what Kelsey expected the boy to say in response
to his greeting, but in spite of his usual self-control his face showed
that he had not looked for any such answer as this. Marcy spoke and
acted as if he were delighted with the success that had attended the
_Osprey's_ first cruise at sea, and proud of being able to say that he
was one of her crew.

"You sent in word that you desired to see my mother on very particular
business," continued Marcy. "She doesn't feel like seeing anybody
to-day--upset by the war news, you know--and I am here to speak for her.
It's nothing bad, I hope?"

Kelsey straightened up on his seat and assumed a business air, as if
these words had suggested an idea to him.

"Yes, it's kinder bad," said he. "We uns know that you are true blue,
fur if you wasn't you wouldn't be on that privateer; an' if your maw
wasn't true blue, she wouldn't a let you go."

["That sounds exactly like Beardsley," said Marcy, to himself.] "Well,
what of it? Didn't I do my duty faithfully?"

"I ain't sayin' nothing agin that," replied the man hastily.
"But--you're fur Jeff Davis, ain't you?"

Instead of answering in words, Marcy pulled down the corner of his right
eye and looked at Kelsey as if to ask him if he saw anything green in
it.

"What do ye mean by them movements?" demanded the visitor.

"I mean that I am not going to talk politics with you," was the reply.
"This settlement is full of traitors, and I'm going to hold my tongue
unless I know who I am talking to. If I do that, I shan't get into
trouble by speaking too freely in the hearing of a Yankee spy."

"But look a-here, Mister Marcy," protested Kelsey.

"If you came to pry into our private affairs, you might as well jump on
your mule and go home, for you'll not get a word from me. I ought to put
the dogs on you, for if all I hear is true you're the worst kind of a
traitor." ["And so you are," thought Marcy, closely watching the effect
of his words, although he did not seem to be doing so; "you're a traitor
to the old flag."]

The visitor was astonished beyond measure, and it was fully a minute
before he could collect his wits sufficiently to frame a reply.



                              CHAPTER II.

                           HIDING THE FLAGS.

"I think I have taken the right course," soliloquized the young pilot,
who mentally congratulated himself on the ease with which he had "got to
windward" of this sneaking spy. "If I fight him with his own weapons I
shall probably get more out of him than I could in any other way."

"You heared that I was a traitor?" exclaimed Kelsey, as soon as he could
speak. "Mister Marcy, the man who told you that told you a plumb lie,
kase I ain't. I whooped her up fur ole Car'liny when she went out, I
done the same when our gov'ner grabbed the forts along the coast, an' I
yelled fit to split when our folks licked 'em at Charleston. Any man in
the settlement or in Nashville will tell ye that them words of mine is
nothing but the gospel truth."

Marcy knew well enough that his visitor's words were true, but he shook
his head in a doubting way, as he replied:

"That may all be; but _I_ didn't hear you whoop and yell, and you must
not expect me to take your word for it. You must bring some proof before
I will talk to you."

"Why, how in sense could ye hear me whoop an' yell, seein' that you was
away to school in the first place, an' off on the ocean with Beardsley
in the next?" exclaimed Kelsey. "Ask Dillon, an' Colonel Shelby, an' the
postmaster, an' see if they don't say it's the truth."

"You have mentioned the names of some of our most respected citizens,"
said Marcy slowly, as if he were still reluctant to be convinced of the
man's sincerity. "And if they, or any of them, sent you up here to talk
to my mother--why, then, I shall have to listen to you; but mind you, if
you are trying to play a game on me----"

"Mister Marcy," said Kelsey solemnly, "I ain't tryin' to come no game.
Them men done it sure's you're born."

"Did what?"

"Sent me up here this mawnin'."

"That's one point gained, but won't mother be frightened when she hears
of it?" thought Marcy, leaning his elbows on his knees and covering his
face with his hands so that his visitor could not see it. "Some of the
best men in the country have so far forgotten their manhood, and the
friendship they once had for our family, that they can send this
sneaking fellow here to worm something out of us."

"I don't believe a word of it," he cried, jumping to his feet and
confronting his visitor.

"Ye--ye don't believe it?" faltered Kelsey, springing up in his turn.
"Well, I--I--look a-here, Mister Marcy, mebbe this is something else you
don't believe. Them men whose names I jest give you, say that you an'
your maw an' all the rest of the Gray family is Union. What do ye say to
_that?_"

"I say that they had better attend to their own business and let me
attend to mine," answered Marcy. "Are Colonel Shelby and the rest of
them for the Union?"

"Not much; an' nuther be I."

"Are you in favor of secession?"

"I reckon." replied Kelsey earnestly; and Marcy knew all the while that
he could not have told what the word secession meant.

"Then why don't you prove it--you and Colonel Shelby, and the rest of
the neighbors who are saying things behind my back that they don't care
to say to my face? Why don't you prove your loyalty to the South by
shouldering a musket and going into the army?"

"Why, we uns has got famblies to look out fur," exclaimed the visitor,
who had never had this matter brought squarely home to him before.

"That makes no difference," answered the boy, who wondered if Kelsey's
family would fare any worse while he was in the army than they did now,
while he was out of it. "Every man in this country must show his good
will in one way or another. And there's that loudmouthed fellow Allison,
who went out of his way to insult me in the post-office just before I
went to sea. Nashville is full of such braggarts as he is. When they
can't find anything else to talk about they talk about me; and I have
smelt powder while they haven't." ["No odds if it was our own powder and
the wind blew the smoke into my face," he said to himself.]

By this time Marcy had the satisfaction of seeing that he had taken the
wind completely out of Kelsey's sails, and that the man who had come
there to trouble him was troubled himself. He even began to fear that he
had gone too far, and that if he did not change his tactics the visitor
would go away without giving a hint of the errand that had brought him
to the house; for Kelsey picked up the hat he had placed upon the floor
beside his chair, put it on his head and leaned forward with his hands
on his knees, as if he were about to get upon his feet. That wouldn't do
at all. There was something in the wind--something that Captain
Beardsley, aided by Colonel Shelby and others, had studied up on purpose
to get Marcy into a scrape of some kind, and Marcy was very anxious to
know what it was.

"You hinted a while ago that Colonel Shelby had sent you here to tell me
some bad news," said the young pilot, in a much pleasanter tone of voice
than he had thus far used in addressing his visitor. "Are you ready now
to obey orders and tell me what it is?"

"Well, I dunno. I reckon mebbe I'd best ride down an' see the colonel
first," replied the man. But his actions said plainly that he _did_
know, and that he had no intention of facing his employer again until he
could tell him that his instructions had been carried out.

"Of course, you must do as you think best about that; but if it is
anything that concerns my mother or myself----"

"I should say so," exclaimed Kelsey. "I don't reckon it'll do any harm
to tell you--but ain't there anybody to listen? It's very important an'
private."

"I think you may speak with perfect freedom; but in order to make sure
of it----" Marcy finished the sentence by getting up and closing both
the doors that opened upon the veranda. "Now we're safe," said he;
whereupon Kelsey revealed the whole plot in less than a score of words.

"Mebbe you don't know it," said he, in a whisper which was so loud and
piercing that it could have been heard by an eavesdropper (if there had
been one) at least fifty feet away, "but you are harboring a traitor
right here on the place."

"Who is it?"

"Your mean sneak of an overseer."

It was now Marcy's turn to be astonished. He knew that there was not a
word of truth in what the man said, and that if the overseer really was
a Union man the planters round about would have sent a person of more
influence and better social standing than Kelsey to tell him of it; but
after all the plot was not as simple as it looked at first glance.

"Where's your proof?" was the first question he asked.

"Well, Hanson has been talkin' a heap to them he thought to be Union,
but it turned out that they wasn't. They was true to the flag of the
'Federacy."

"What do Colonel Shelby and the rest want me to do?" inquired Marcy,
catching at an idea that just then flashed through his mind. "If they
will write me a note stating the facts of the case and asking me to
discharge Hanson, I will attend to it before the sun goes down."

"Well, you see they don't keer to take a hand in the furse at all,
seein' that there's so many Union folks in the settlement," said Kelsey.
"They've got nice houses an' nigger quarters, an' they don't want 'em
burned up."

"But they are willing that I should get into trouble by discharging
Hanson, and put myself in the way of having my house and quarters
destroyed, are they?" exclaimed the boy, his face growing red with
indignation, although, as he afterward told his mother, there wasn't
really anything to arouse his indignation. "You may tell those gentlemen
that if they want the overseer run off the plantation, they can come
here and do it. If the Union men are as vindictive as Colonel Shelby
seems to think they are, I don't care to get them down on me."

"But the Union folks won't pester you uns," said Kelsey, speaking before
he thought.

"Ah! Why won't they?"

"Kase--kase they think you're one of 'em."

"I don't see how they can think so when they know that I belong to a
Confederate privateer."

"Them men, whose names I give ye a minute ago, thought that mebbe you'd
be willing to turn Hanson loose when you heared how he had been swingin'
his tongue about that there money."

Kelsey had come to the point at last. He looked hard at Marcy to see
what effect the words would have upon him, and Marcy returned his gaze
with an impassive countenance, although he felt his heart sinking within
him.

"What money?" he demanded, in so steady a voice that the visitor was
fairly staggered. The latter believed that there was rich booty hidden
somewhere about that old house, and he hoped in time to have the
handling of some of it.

"I mean the money your maw got when she went to Richmon' an' around,"
replied the man, who, in coon hunters' parlance, began to wonder if he
wasn't "barking up the wrong tree."

"Can you prove that she brought any money back with her?"

"No, I can't," answered Kelsey, in a tone which said as plainly as words
that he wished he could. "I--me--I mean that the neighbors suspicion
it."

"Oh, that's it. Let those officious neighbors keep on talking; and when
they have talked themselves blind, you may tell them, for me, that what
money we have is safe," said Marcy, with a good deal of emphasis on the
adjective. "If you want to see what mother brought back from the city,
go and look at the servants. Every one of them is dressed in a new suit.
Now go on and tell me the bad news. I'm getting impatient to hear it."

"Heavings an' 'arth! Haven't I told it to ye already?" Kelsey almost
shouted. "I think it is bad enough when you an' your maw are keepin',
right here on the plantation, a man who is all the time waitin' an'
watchin' fur a chance to do harm to both of ye. If you don't think so,
all right. I was a fule fur comin' here, an' I reckon I'd best be
lumberin'. If anything happens to ye, bear in mind that I give ye fair
warnin'."

"I will," answered Marcy. "And in the mean time do you bear in mind that
I am ready to discharge Hanson at any time Colonel Shelby proves to my
satisfaction that he is a dangerous man to have around; but I shall make
no move unless the colonel says so, for I don't want to get into trouble
with my neighbors." ["I wonder if I have done the right thing," thought
Marcy, as the visitor mounted his mule and rode out of the yard. "The
next plotter I hear from will be Hanson himself."]

The boy remained motionless in his chair until Kelsey disappeared behind
the trees that bordered the road, and then got up and walked into the
sitting-room, where he found his mother pacing the floor. Her anxiety
and her impatience to learn what it was that brought Kelsey to the house
were so overpowering that she could not sit still.

"Another plot to ruin us," whispered the boy, as he entered the room and
closed the door behind him.

"Oh, Marcy, it is just what I was afraid of," replied Mrs. Gray. "Who is
at the bottom of it this time?"

"The same old rascal, Lon Beardsley; but he's got backing I don't like.
There's Colonel Shelby for one, the postmaster for another, and Major
Dillon for a third."

"The most influential men in the neighborhood," gasped Mrs. Gray,
sinking into the nearest chair. "And the best."

"They used to be the best, but they are anything but that now. When men
will stoop as low as they have, they are mean enough for anything. I
suppose you ought to hear what that fellow said to me, but I don t know
how I can tell it to you."

"Go on," said his mother, trying to bear up bravely. "I must hear every
word."

Marcy knew that it was right and necessary that his mother should be
kept fully informed regarding the plots that were laid against them, and
that she should know what the planters were thinking and saying about
her; for if she were kept in ignorance, she would be at a loss how to
act and speak in a sudden emergency. She might be surprised into saying
something in the presence of a secret enemy that would be utterly
ruinous. So he drew a chair to her side and told her everything that had
passed between Kelsey and himself. He did not try to smooth it over, but
repeated the conversation word for word; and when he came to the end,
his mother was as much in the dark as Marcy was himself. She said she
couldn't understand it.

"There are but two things about it that are plain to me," answered
Marcy, "perhaps three. One is that the house is watched by somebody, and
that the neighbors knew I was at home almost as soon as you knew it
yourself. Another is that the suspicions aroused in the minds of some of
our watchful neighbors are so strong that they amount to positive
conviction. They are as certain that there is money in this house as
they would be if they had caught you in the act of hiding it."

"Doesn't that prove that the overseer is not the only spy there is on
the place?" said Mrs. Gray. "And I was so careful."

"I never will believe that anybody watched you at night," said Marcy
quickly. "The neighbors saw you when you went away and came back."

"But I brought goods with me on purpose to allay their suspicions."

"I am really afraid you didn't succeed. The other thing I know is, that
you need not think yourself safe out of Captain Beardsley's reach even
when he is at sea. As I said before, he has friends ashore to work for
him while he is absent."

"What can we do? What do you advise?" asked his mother, after she had
taken time to think the matter over.

"There is but one thing we can do, and that is to wait as patiently as
we can and see what is going to happen next. This last plot is not fully
developed yet, and until it is we must not make a move in any direction.
I am as impatient as you are, and so I think I will ride out to the
field and give the overseer a chance to say a word if he feels in the
humor for it."

"Be very cautious, Marcy," said Mrs. Gray.

The young pilot replied that sleeping or waking he was always on the
alert, and went out to the little log stable, which did duty as a barn,
to saddle his horse. A long lane led through the negro quarter to the
field in which the hands were putting in the time in clearing out fence
corners and burning brush, while waiting for the early crops to get high
enough for hoeing. The overseer's mule was hitched to the fence, and the
overseer himself sat on a convenient stump, watching the hands at their
work, and whittling the little switch that served him for a riding-whip.
The man was almost a stranger to Marcy. The latter had seen and spoken
to him a few times since his return from Barrington, but of course he
did not like him, for he could not forget that his mother was afraid of
him, and would be glad to see him leave the place. He liked him still
less two minutes later, for, as he drew rein beside the overseer's perch,
threw his right leg over the horn of his saddle and nodded to the man,
the latter said, first looking around to make sure that none of the blacks
were within hearing:

"I was sorry to see that man ride away from the big house a while ago."

"What man?" inquired Marcy. He looked over his shoulder and saw that the
front of the house was entirely concealed from view, and that the road
that ran before it "was shut out from sight by the trees and the
whitewashed negro quarter. It followed then, as a matter of course, that
Hanson could not have seen anybody ride away from the house. He was deep
enough in the plot to know that if mother and son had not had a visitor,
they ought to have had one.

"I suspicioned it was that shiftless, do-nothing chap, Kelsey," replied
the overseer. "Looked sorter like his mu-el."

"Oh, yes; Kelsey has been up to see us," answered Marcy. And then he
tapped his boot with his whip and waited to see what was coming next. If
the overseer wanted to talk, he might talk all he pleased; but Marcy was
resolved that he would not help him along. Hanson twisted about on the
stump, cleared his throat once or twice, and, seeing that the boy was
not disposed to break the silence, said, as if he were almost afraid to
broach the subject:

"Have much of anything to talk about?"

"He talked a good deal, but didn't say much."

"Mention my name?"

"Yes. He mentioned yours and Shelby's and Dillon's and the
postmaster's."

"Say anything bad about us?" continued the overseer, after waiting in
vain for the boy to go on and repeat the conversation he had held with
Kelsey.

"Not so very bad," answered Marcy, looking up and down the long fence to
see how the work was progressing.

"Looka-here, Mister Marcy," said Hanson desperately. "Kelsey told you I
was Union, didn't he? Come now, be honest."

"If by being honest you mean being truthful, I want to tell you that I
am never any other way," said the boy emphatically. "What object could I
have in denying it? I don't care a cent what your politics are so long
as you mind your own business, and don't try to cram your ideas down my
throat. But I'll not allow myself to be led into a discussion. Kelsey
did say that you are Union; and if you are, I don't see why you stay in
this country. You can't get out any too quick."

"Are you going to discharge me?"

"No, I am not; and I sent word to Shelby and the rest that if they want
you run off the place, they can come up here and do it. I shall have no
hand in it."

Marcy could read the overseer's face a great deal better than the
overseer could read Marcy's; and it would have been clear to a third
party that Hanson was disappointed, and that there was something he
wanted to say and was afraid to speak about. That was the money that was
supposed to be concealed in the house.

"Was that all Kelsey said to you?" he asked, at length.

"Oh, no. He rattled on about various things--spoke of the ease with
which the _Osprey_ captured that Yankee schooner, and let fall a word or
two about the battle in Charleston harbor."

"Is _that_ all he said to you?"

"I believe he said something about being a good Confederate, and I asked
him why he didn't prove it by shouldering a musket. I don't go about
boasting of the great things I would do if I were only there. There's no
need of it, for I have been there." ["But it was because I couldn't help
myself," he added mentally.]

"But folks say you're Union, all the same," said Hanson.

"What folks? Are they soldiers?"

"No. Citizens."

"Then I don't care that what they say," replied Marcy, snapping his
fingers in the air. "When they put uniforms on and show by their actions
that they mean business, I will talk to them, and not before."

Marcy waited patiently for the overseer to say "money," and the latter
waited impatiently for Marcy to say it; and when at last the boy made up
his mind that he had heard all he cared to hear from Hanson, he brought
his leg down from the horn of his saddle, placed his foot in the
stirrup, and gathered up the reins as if he were about to ride away.

"Kelsey didn't say nothing to get you and your maw down on me, did he?"
inquired Hanson, when he observed these movements.

"I shouldn't like for to lose my place just because I am strong for the
Union and dead against secession."

"If you lose your place on that account, it'll be because Colonel Shelby
and his friends will have it so," answered Marcy. "You are hired to do
an overseer's work; and as long as you attend to that and nothing else
you will have no trouble with me. You may depend upon that."

"But before you go I'd like to know, pine-plank, whether you are
friendly to me or not," continued Hanson, who was obliged to confess to
himself that he had not learned the first thing, during the interview,
that could be used against Marcy or his mother.

"I am a friend to you in this way," was the answer. "If I found you out
there in the woods cold and hungry, and hiding from soldiers who were
trying to make a prisoner of you, I would feed and warm you; and I
wouldn't care whether you had a gray jacket or a blue coat on."

"He's a trifle the cutest chap I've run across in many a long day,"
muttered the overseer, as Marcy turned his filly about and rode away. "I
couldn't make him tell whether he was Union or secesh, although I give
him all the chance in the world, and he didn't say "money" a single
time. Now, what's to be done? If the money is there and Beardsley is
bound to have it, he'd best be doing something before that sailor gets
back, for they say he's lightning and will fight at the drop of the hat.
I reckon I'd better make some excuse to ride over town so't I can see
Colonel Shelby."

"I think I have laid that little scheme most effectually," was what
Marcy Gray said to himself as he rode away from the stump on which the
overseer was sitting. "They haven't got a thing out of me, and I have
left the matter in their own hands. If there is anything done toward
getting Hanson away from this country (and I wish to goodness there
might be), Shelby and his hypocritical gang can have the fun of doing
it, and shoulder all the responsibility afterward."

But what was the object of the plot? That was what "banged" Marcy, and
he told his mother so after he had given her a minute description of his
brief interview with the overseer. Was it possible that there were some
strong Union men in the neighborhood, and that Beardsley hoped Marcy
would incur their enmity by discharging Hanson on account of his alleged
principles? Marcy knew better than to believe that, and so did his
mother.

"I'll tell you what I think to be the most reasonable view of the case,"
said the boy, after taking a few turns across the floor and spending
some minutes in a brown study. "Beardsley knows there is no man in the
family; that we'd be only too glad to have somebody to go to for advice;
and he hoped we would take that ignorant Hanson for a counselor, if he
could make us believe that he was really Union. But Hanson didn't fool
me, for he didn't go at it in the right way. He's secesh all over. The
next thing on the program will be something else."

"I trust it will not be a midnight visit from a mob," said his mother,
who trembled at the bare thought of such a thing.

"So do I; but if they come, we'll see what they will make by it. They
might burn the house without finding anything to reward them for their
trouble."

"Oh, Marcy. You surely don't think they would do anything so
barbarous."

"They might. Think of what that Committee of Safety did at Barrington."

"But what would we do?"

"Live in the quarter, as Elder Bowen and the other Union men in
Barrington did after their houses were destroyed. And if they burned the
servants' homes as well as our own, We'd throw up a shelter of some sort
in the woods. I don't reckon that Julius and I have forgotten how to
handle axes and build log cabins. The practice we have had in building
turkey traps would stand---- Say," whispered Marcy suddenly, at the same
time putting his arm around his mother's neck and speaking the words
close to her ear, "if a mob should come here to-night and go over the
house, we'd be ruined. There are those Union flags, you know."

"I never once thought of them," was the frightened answer. "Suppose I
had had a mob for visitors while you were at sea? Our home would be in
ashes now. Those flags are dangerous things, and must be disposed of
without loss of time. I am sorry you brought them home with you. Don't
you think you had better destroy them while you have them in mind?"

"Of course I will do it if you say so, and think it will make you feel
any safer; but I was intending--you see----"

His countenance fell, and his mother was quick to notice it. "What did
you intend to do with them?" she asked.

"One of them used to float over the academy," replied Marcy. "Dick
Graham, a Missouri boy, than whom a better fellow never lived, stole it
out of the colonel's room one night because he did not want to see it
insulted and destroyed, as it would have been if Rodney and his friends
could have got their hands upon it. He gave it to me because he knew it
would some day be something to feel proud over, and said he hoped to
hear that it had been run up again."

"But, Marcy, you dare not hoist it here," exclaimed Mrs. Gray.

"Not now; but there may come a time when I shall dare do it. The other
flag--well, the other was made by a Union girl in Barrington, who had to
work on it by stealth, because her sister, and every other member of her
family except her father, were the worst kind of secesh. Rodney thought
sure he was going to put the Stars and Bars on the tower when the Union
colors were stolen, but our fellows got mine up first, and would have
kept it there if they had had to fight to do it. But I'll put them in
the stove if you think best."

"You need not do anything of the kind," said Mrs. Gray, whose patriotism
had been awakened by the simple narrative. "I shall not permit a party
of beardless boys to show more loyalty than I am willing to show
myself."

"Bully for you, mother!" cried Marcy. "We'll see both of them in the air
before many months more have passed over our heads. Now, think of some
good hiding place for them, and I'll put them there right away. Not in
the ground, you know, for if the Union troops should ever come marching
through here, we should want to get them out in a hurry."

"How would it do to sew them up in a bed-quilt?" said Mrs. Gray,
suggesting the first "good hiding place" that came into her mind.

"That's the very spot," replied Marcy. "Put them in one of mine, and
then I shall have the old flag over me every night."

No time was lost in carrying out this decision, and in a few minutes
mother and son were locked in the boy's room, and busy stitching the
precious pieces of bunting into one of the quilts. It never occurred to
them to ask what they would do or how they would feel if some half-clad,
shivering rebel should find his way into the room and walk off with that
quilt without so much as saying "by your leave." Probably they never
dreamed that the soldiers of the Confederacy would be reduced to such
straits.



                              CHAPTER III.

                      BEARDSLEY BETRAYS HIMSELF.

Never before had the hours hung as heavily upon Marcy Gray's hands as
they did at the period of which we write. There was literally nothing he
could do--at least that he _wanted_ to do. He did not care to read
anything except the newspapers, and they came only once a day; he had
never learned how to lounge around and let the hours drag themselves
away; he very soon grew weary of sailing about the sound in the _Fairy
Belle_ with the boy Julius for a companion; and so he spent a little of
his time in visiting among the neighboring planters, and a good deal
more in "pottering" among his mother's flower beds. Visiting was the
hardest work he had ever done; but he knew he couldn't shirk it without
exciting talk, and there was talk enough about him in the settlement
already.

To a stranger it would have looked as though he had nothing to complain
of. He was cordially received wherever he went, often heard himself
spoken of as "one of our brave boys" (although what he had done that
was so very brave Marcy himself could not understand), and visitors at
Mrs. Gray's house were as numerous as they ever had been; but Marcy and
his mother were people who could not be easily deceived by such a show
of friendship. Some of it, as they afterward learned, was genuine; while
the rest was assumed for the purpose of leading them on to "declare"
themselves. It was a mean thing for neighbors to be guilty of, but you
must remember that, like Rodney Gray when he wrote that mischievous
letter to Bud Goble, they did not know all the time what they were
doing. Of course the high-spirited Marcy grew restive under such
treatment; and when, after long waiting, the postmaster handed him a
letter from Captain Beardsley, ordering him to report on board the
_Osprey_ without loss of time, he did not feel as badly over it as he
once thought he should. On the contrary, he appeared to be very jubilant
when he showed the letter to Allison and half a score of other young
rebels who were always to be found loafing around the post-office at
mail time.

"I'm off to sea again," said he. "Now the Yankees had better look out."

"It must be an enjoyable life, Marcy," replied Allison. "You see any
amount of fun and excitement, draw big prize-money in addition to your
regular wages, and, better than all, you run no sort of risk. It may
surprise you to know that I have been turning the matter over in my mind
a good deal of late, and have come to the conclusion that I should enjoy
being one of a privateer's crew. What do you think about it?"

"I am not acquainted with a single fellow who would enjoy it more,"
answered Marcy, who told himself that Allison was just coward enough to
engage in some such disreputable business. "You are just the lad for it.
It is such fun to bring a swift vessel to and haul down the old flag in
the face of men who are powerless to defend it."

Sharp as Marcy Gray was, his strong love for the Union and his intense
hatred for the business in which he was perforce engaged, sometimes led
him to come dangerously near to betraying himself. Allison looked
sharply at him, but there was nothing in Marcy's face to indicate that
he did not mean every word he said.

"I am heartily glad I am going to sea again," continued the latter; and
he told nothing but the truth. The companionship of the ignorant
foreigners who composed the _Osprey's_ crew was more to his liking than
daily intercourse with pretended friends who were constantly watching
for a chance to get him into trouble.

"Do you think I could get on with Captain Beardsley?" inquired Allison.

"You might. The crew was full when I left the schooner, but I will speak
to the captain, if you would like to have me."

"I really wish you would, for I am anxious to do something for the
glorious cause of Southern independence. When do you sail?"

"I don't know. About all the captain says in his letter is that he wants
me to report immediately."

"Does he say whether or not the _Hollins_ has been sold yet?"

"Oh, yes; he speaks of that, and congratulates me on the fact that I
have eight hundred and seventy-live dollars more to my credit on the
schooner's books than I did when I left her at Newbern."

"W-h-e-w!" whistled Allison. "How long did it take you to make the
capture?"

"Four or five hours, I should say."

"Eight hundred and seventy-five dollars for four or five hours' work!
Marcy, you have struck a gold mine. You will be as rich as Julius Caesar
in less than a year."

"How long do you suppose Uncle Sam will allow such--such work to be kept
up?" exclaimed Marcy.

"Oh, no doubt he would be glad to stop it now if he could; but when he
tries it, he will find that he's got the hardest job on his hands he
ever undertook. There never was a better place for carrying on such
business than the waters of North Carolina. Our little inlets are too
shallow to float a heavy man-of-war."

"No matter how big the job may be, you will find that these small-fry
privateers" (it was right on the end of Marcy's tongue to say "pirates")
"will be swept from the face of the earth in less than a year; so that I
shall have no chance to get rich. But I'll have to be going, for I must
start for Newbern this very night. I suppose you will all be in the army
by the time I get back, so good-by."

Allison and his friends shook hands with him, wished him another
successful voyage, and Marcy mounted and rode away, his filly never
breaking her lope until she turned through the gate into the yard, and
drew up before the steps that led to the porch. His mother met him at
the door and knew as soon as she looked at him that he had news for
her.

"Yes, I've got orders from Beardsley," said the boy, without waiting to
be questioned. "And if Jack were only here, and I was about to engage in
some honorable business, I should be glad to go. Mother, on the day we
captured the _Hollins_ we robbed somebody of fifty-six thousand
dollars."

"Oh, Marcy, is it not dreadful!" said Mrs. Gray.

"It is, for a fact. We're having a bully time now, but the day will come
when we'll have to settle with the fiddler. You will see. Yes, the
vessel and her cargo sold for fifty-six thousand dollars. Half of it
went to the government, and half of the remainder was divided among the
three officers, Beardsley getting the lion's share, I bet you. The
sixteen members of the crew get an equal share of the other fourteen
thousand, the difference in rank between the petty officers and foremast
hands being so slight that Beardsley did not think it worth while to
give one more than another; but he hints that he has got something laid
by for me."

"My son, it will burn your fingers," said Mrs. Gray.

"I can't help it if it does. I'll have to take all he offers me, but, of
course, I don't expect to keep it. Now, mother, please help me get off.
The longer I fool around home the harder it will be to make a start."

Marcy wanted to caution his mother to look out for Hanson while he was
gone; but he did not do it, for he well knew that she had enough to
trouble her already, and that the mention of the overseer's name would
awaken all her old fears of spies and organized bands of robbers. He
sent word to Morris, the coachman, to have the carriage brought to the
door, loitered about doing nothing while his mother packed his valise,
and in twenty minutes more was on his way to Newbern, which he reached
without any mishap, not forgetting, however, to send a telegram on from
Boydtown informing Beardsley that his orders had been received, and that
the pilot was on his way to join the _Osprey_.

"And I wish I might find her sunk at her dock, and so badly smashed that
she never could be raised and repaired," was what he thought every time
he looked out of the car window and ran his eyes over the crowds of
excited people that were gathered upon the platforms of all the depots
they passed. "But, after all, what difference does it make? If I don't
go to sea I shall have to live among secret enemies, and I don't know
but one thing is about as bad as the other. If any poor mortal ever
lived this way before, I am sorry for him."

Although Marcy was almost a stranger in Newbern, he had no difficulty in
finding his vessel when he got out of the cars. He walked straight to
her, and while he was yet half a block away, the sight of her masts told
him that she was still on top of the water. She would soon be ready to
sail, too, for her crew were rushing her stores aboard, while Captain
Beardsley walked his quarter-deck smoking a cigar and looking on. His
face seemed to say that he was a little surprised to see his pilot; but
if he was he did not show it in his greeting.

"Well, there, you did come back, didn't yon?" said he, extending his
hand.

"Of course I came back," replied Marcy. "What else did yon expect me to
do? I was on the road in less than two hours after your order came to
hand."

"That's prompt and businesslike," said the captain approvingly. "But I
didn't look for you to appear quite so soon. How's everybody to home?"

"All right as far as I could see; and Allison wants to join your crew."

"The idea!" exclaimed Captain Beardsley. "Well, he can just stay where
he is for all of me, hollering for the Confederacy and doing never a
thing to help us gain our independence. His place is in the army, and I
won't have no haymakers aboard of me. See any Union folks while you was
to home?"

"I saw and talked with one man who said he was for the Union," answered
the young pilot. He was prepared for the question, and positive that if
he managed the matter rightly, Beardsley would soon let him know whether
or not he was concerned in that little plot, as Marcy believed he was.
But, as it happened, no management was necessary, for keeping a secret
was the hardest work Beardsley ever did.

"Did, hey?" he exclaimed, throwing the stump of his cigar over the stern
and looking very angry indeed. "I always suspected that man Hanson. You
discharged him, of course."

"No, I didn't," replied Marcy. "It wouldn't have been safe. I told
Kelsey that if the colonel and his friends desired that he should be run
off the place, they could attend to the matter themselves. I wouldn't
have the first thing to do with it. I was given to understand that there
were many Union men in the settlement, and I didn't care to give them an
excuse for burning us out of house and home."

"That was perfectly right. And what did Shelby say?"

"I didn't hear, for he sent no message to me."

"Did you say anything to Hanson about it?"

"I did, and told him that as long as he attended strictly to his
business he would have no trouble with me."

Marcy had purposely avoided speaking Colonel Shelby's name and Hanson's,
preferring to let Captain Beardsley do it himself. The latter walked
squarely into the trap without appearing to realize that he had done it,
and the young pilot was satisfied that his commander was the man who
needed watching more than anybody else.

"I can't say that I hope Beardsley will be killed or drowned during the
cruise," thought Marcy. "But I do say that if he was out of the way I
would have less trouble with my neighbors."

"Never mind," said Beardsley, after a little pause. "When I get home I
will ask Shelby and Dillon to tell me all about it; and if that overseer
of yourn is really Union, perhaps I can make him see that he had better
go up to the United States, where he belongs."

The captain took a turn or two across the deck, looked up at the
topmasts as he might have done if the schooner had been under way and he
wanted to make sure that everything was drawing, and then he leaned up
against the rail.

"Oh!" said he, as if the thought had just come to him, "what do you
think of your good fortune? Eight hundred dollars don't grow in every
boy's dooryard. I tell you. And, Marcy," he went on in a lower tone,
"I've got as much more laid by for you. I told you I would do the fair
thing, and I meant every word of it. You're pilot, you know."

"Thank you, sir," replied the boy--not because he felt grateful to
Captain Beardsley for giving him nearly nine hundred dollars of
another's man's money, but because he knew he was expected to say it.

"Seventeen hundred dollars and better will keep your folks in grub and
clothes for quite a spell, won't it?" the captain continued. "But law!
what am I saying? It ain't a drop in the bucket to such rich people as
you be."

Marcy listened, but said nothing. He thought he knew what Beardsley had
on his mind.

"Some folks pertend to think we're going to have the very toughest kind
of a war, but I don't," said the latter. "The Yankees don't come of
fighting stock, like we Southern gentlemen do; but if a war should come,
I suppose your folks are well fixed for it?"

"About as well fixed as most of the planters in the settlement,"
answered the pilot. "You know we've had the best of crops for a year or
two back."

"But I mean--you see--any money?" inquired the captain cautiously--so
very cautiously that he thought it necessary to whisper the words.

"Oh, yes; we have money. How could we live without it?"

"That's so; how could you? I reckon you've got right smart of a lot,
ain't you?"

"Mother has some in the bank at Wilmington, but just how much I don't
know. I never asked her."

The young pilot's gaze was fastened upon the men who were at work
getting the provisions aboard, but for all that, he could see that
Beardsley was looking at him as if he meant to read his most secret
thoughts.

"I don't believe there's no money in that there house," was what the
captain was saying to himself.

"Sly old fox," thought Marcy. "I knew he would betray his secret if I
only held my tongue and gave him a chance to do it." And then he asked
the captain when he expected to get the schooner ready for sea, and
whether or not any prizes had been brought into port during his
absence.

"There's been one prize brought in worth ten thousand dollars more'n
our'n, dog-gone it all--there she is right over there--and there's been
three blockade-runners went out and two come in," was the captain's
answer. "I didn't see why they should call 'em blockade-runners when we
didn't think there was a blockade at all, excepting the paper one that
appeared in Lincoln's proclamation; but seeing that the brig _Herald_
ain't been heard from since she run out of Wilmington, I begin to
mistrust that there's war vessels outside, and that the _Osprey_ may
have a chance to show her heels. If that happens we'll make the best
time we know how for Crooked Inlet, and trust to you to bring us
through."

"You won't need any help from me," was what the boy said to himself.
"I'll bet my share of that prize-money, that if we get into trouble with
a Union cruiser you will take command of the schooner yourself and sail
her through Crooked Inlet as slick as falling off a log."

"The folks around here and Wilmington have been hoping that the _Herald_
might be captured, and that the United States people will have the
backbone to hold fast to her," added Captain Beardsley.

"Why do they hope for any such bad luck as that?" inquired Marcy,
considerably surprised.

"May be it wouldn't be bad luck. You see she is a Britisher, the
_Herald_ is, and her cargo was consigned to an English house all fair
and square. A blockade, to be legal and binding upon foreign nations,
must be effectual," said the captain, quoting the language his agent had
often used in his hearing. "A paper blockade won't do; and if the
Yankees can't send ships enough here to shut up our ports completely,
any Britisher or Frenchman can run in and out as often as he feels like
it, and the Yankees dassent do a thing to him. If the _Herald_ has been
captured she will have to be given up."

"But suppose Uncle Sam won't give her up?"

"We are hoping he won't, for that will get the British folks down on
him; and between the two of us we'll give him such a licking that he'll
never get over it. See?"

Yes; Marcy saw, now that the situation had been explained to him, but it
was something he had never thought of before. Almost the first lesson he
learned in history was that England had no love for the United States,
and if she took a hand in the war that was surely coming, why then----

"Why, then, France may help Uncle Sam," exclaimed Marcy. "She has always
been friendly to us, and didn't she send troops here during our
Revolutionary war to help us whip the English?"

"She did; but what was the reason she sent them troops over here?"
demanded the captain, who had heard this question discussed a good many
times while Marcy was at home on his leave of absence. "Was it because
she had any love for republican--republican--ah--er--institutions? No,
sir. It was because she wanted to spite the English for taking Canady
away from her. France won't lift a hand to help the Yankees if we get
into a row with them."

Beardsley took another turn about his quarter-deck, lighted a fresh
cigar, and became confidential.

"Something tells me that this business of privateering ain't a going to
last long, and so I think some of dropping it and starting out in
another," said he. "Any idea what it is?"

Marcy replied that he had not.

"Well, it's trading--running the blockade."

"To what ports?" asked the boy.

"I can't rightly tell till I get some word from them vessels that's just
went out," was the answer. "But it'll be Nassau or Havana, one of the
two. I'll take cotton out--cotton is king, you know, and must be had to
keep all them working people in England from starving--and bring
medicine back. Medicine is getting skurse and high-priced already. And
percussion caps. They're the things you can make money on. Why, I have
heard it said that there wasn't enough gun caps in the Confederacy to
fight a battle with till Captain Semmes made that tower of his through
the Northern States, buying powder and bullets, and making contracts
with the dollar-loving Yankees to build cannon to shoot their own kin
with. But I want to see how the land lays before I go into the business
of running the blockade. If there's big risk and little profit I ain't
in."

"What port will you run out of?" was Marcy's next question; and when the
captain said it would probably be Wilmington, the boy was delighted, for
he expected to hear him announce that after he gave up privateering and
took to blockade-running he would no longer need the services of a
pilot. But if such a thought came into Beardsley's mind he did not speak
it aloud. Just then he was called to another part of the deck and Marcy
picked up his valise and went below.

"Beardsley doesn't mean to let me go," he soliloquized, as he tossed the
valise into his bunk and opened the locker in which he had stowed his
bedding for safe-keeping. "He's got me fast, and there's no chance for
escape as long as the _Osprey_ remains in commission. Well, there's one
comfort: Beardsley is not a brave man, and he'll make haste to lay the
schooner up the minute he has reason to believe that it is growing
dangerous outside."

Marcy went on deck again, and having nothing to do with the loading of
the vessel, sauntered around with his hands in his pockets. He fully
expected that Beardsley would have something more to say about the money
that was supposed to be hidden in Mrs. Gray's house; but he didn't, for
the captain had almost come to the conclusion that there was no money
there. If there was, Marcy could not be surprised into acknowledging the
fact, and so Beardsley thought it best to let the matter drop until he
could go home and hold a consultation with the overseer.

Bright and early the next morning the privateer cast off her fasts and
stood down the river, reaching the sound in time to catch the flood tide
that hurried her up toward Crooked Inlet. It was now the middle of July,
and the Union and the Confederacy stood fairly opposed to each other.
The Confederate Government, having established itself at Richmond, had
pushed its outposts so far to the north that their sentries could see
the dome of the Capitol across the Potomac. There were nearly eight
hundred thousand square miles in the eleven seceded States, and of this
immense territory all that remained to the Union were the few acres of
ground enclosed within the walls of Fortress Monroe and Forts Pickens,
Taylor, and Jefferson. Loyal Massachusetts men had been murdered in the
streets of Baltimore; battles of more or less importance had been fought
both in the East and West, and on the very day that Marcy joined the
privateer, the future leader of the Army of the Potomac won a complete
victory over the rebel forces at Rich Mountain. The Richmond papers had
very little to say about this fight, except to assure their readers that
it was a matter of no consequence whatever; but they had a good deal to
say concerning the "gallant exploit" that Captain Semmes had performed a
few days before at the passes of the Mississippi. Well, it was a brave
act--one worthy of a better cause--to run the little _Sumter_ out in the
face of a big ship like the Brooklyn and when Marcy read of it he
recalled what his Cousin Rodney had once said to him while they were
talking about sailor Jack, who was then somewhere on the high seas:

"He may never get back," said Rodney. "We'll have a navy of our own one
of these days, and then every ship that floats the old flag will have to
watch out. We'll light bonfires on every part of the ocean."

That was just what Captain Semmes intended to do, and history tells how
faithfully he carried out the instructions of the Richmond Government.

Somewhat to Marcy's surprise, Captain Beardsley turned the command over
to him when the schooner reached Crooked Inlet, and Marcy took her
safely through and out to sea. If there were any war ships on the
coast--and it turned out that there were, for the brig _Herald_ had been
captured and taken to a Northern port--they were stationed farther down
toward Hatteras Inlet, and the schooner's lookouts did not see any of
them until she had been some hours at sea. At daylight on the morning of
the third day out the thrilling cry from the crosstrees "sail ho!"
created a commotion on the privateer's deck, and brought Marcy Gray up
the ladder half dressed.

"Where away?" shouted Captain Beardsley.

"Broad on our weather beam and standing straight across our bows," was
the encouraging response from aloft.

"Can you make her out?" asked the captain, preparing to mount to the
crosstrees with a spy-glass in his hand. "You're sure she isn't a
cruiser?"

"No, sir. She's a brig, and she's running along with everything set."

"Then we must cut her off or she'll get away from us. Put a
fifteen-second shell in that bow gun, Tierney! Stand by the color
halliards, Marcy!"

These orders were obeyed with an "Ay, ay, sir," although the brig was
yet so far away that she could not be seen from the deck; but as the two
vessels were sailing diagonally toward each other, she did not long
remain invisible. The moment Marcy caught sight of her top-hamper, and
while he stood with the halliards in his hand waiting for the order to
run up the Stars and Stripes, Captain Beardsley began swearing most
lustily and shouting orders to his mates, the sheets were let out, the
helm put down, and the privateer fell off four or five points. Marcy
knew the meaning of this before the excited and angry Beardsley yelled,
at the top of his voice:

"The rascal is trying to dodge us. He's got lookouts aloft. Run up that
flag, Marcy, and see if that won't quiet his feelings. Them war ships
down to Hatteras have posted him, and if we don't handle ourselves just
right we'll never bring him within range."

Marcy lost no time in running up the old flag; but if the master of the
brig saw it he was not deceived by it. He showed no disposition to run
back to Hatteras, and put himself under protection of the war ships
there, as Marcy thought and hoped he would, but put his vessel before
the wind, squared his yards, and trusted to his heels. It looked to
Marcy like a most desperate undertaking, for you will remember that the
schooner was far ahead of the brig, and that the merchant captain was
about to run by her. It didn't seem possible that he could succeed, but
the sequel proved that he knew just what his vessel was capable of
doing. She came up at a "hand gallop," and finally showed herself from
water-line to main-truck in full view of the privateer's crew. Her
canvas loomed up like a great white cloud, and her low, black hull, by
comparison, looked no bigger than a lead pencil. She went like the wind,
and Marcy Gray told himself that she was the most beautiful object he
had ever seen.

"I hope from the bottom of my heart that she will get away," was the one
thought that filled his mind.

Perhaps the wish would have been even more fervent if he had known who
was aboard that brig.



                              CHAPTER IV.

                          TWO NARROW ESCAPES.

"Another Cuban trader," shouted Captain Beardsley, standing erect upon
the crosstrees and shaking his eye-glass in the air. "She's worth double
what the _Hollins_ was, dog-gone it all, and if we lose her we are just
a hundred thousand dollars out of pocket. Pitch that shell into her,
Tierney. Take a stick out of her and I'll double your prize money. Run
up our own flag, Marcy. May be it will bring him to his senses."

The howitzer's crew sprang at the word. The canvas covering was torn off
the gun and cast aside, the train-tackles were manned, and a minute
afterward a fifteen-second shrapnel went shrieking toward the brig, all
the privateer's men standing on tiptoe to watch the effect of the shot.
To Marcy's great delight the missile struck the water far short of the
mark, _ricocheted_ along the surface a few hundred yards farther, and
finally exploded, throwing up a cloud of spray, but doing no harm to the
brig, which never loosened tack or sheet, but held gallantly on her way.
A moment after the shrapnel exploded, her flag--the old flag--fluttered
out from under the lee of her spanker, and little puffs of smoke arose
from her port quarter. Some of her crew were firing at the privateer
with rifles. Of course, the distance was so great that they never heard
the whistle of the bullet, but it was an act of defiance that drove
Captain Beardsley almost frantic.

"When we catch her I'll hang the men who fired those shots," he shouted,
jumping up and down on his lofty perch. "What are you standing there
gaping at, Tierney? Give that gun more elevation and try her again."

"I had her up to the last notch in the rear sight, sir," replied
Tierney. "I can't give the gun any more elevation. The cascabel is down
to the bottom of the screw now. I can't reach the brig into an eighth of
a mile."

"Try her again, I tell you," roared the enraged captain. "Are you going
to stand chinning there while a hundred thousand dollars slips through
our fingers?"

The captain continued to talk in this way while the howitzer was loaded
and trained for the second shot; but he might as well have saved his
ammunition, for this shrapnel, like the first, did no harm to the brig.
It didn't frighten her company, either, for they set up a derisive yell,
which came faintly to the ears of the privateer's crew.

"Oh, how I'd like to get my hands on that fellow!" shouted Captain
Beardsley. "I'd learn him to insult a Confederate government vessel.
I'd----"

Marcy Gray, who stood holding fast to the halliards, looking aloft and
listening to what Beardsley had to say, saw the lookout, who had
remained at his post all this time, touch the captain on the shoulder
and direct his gaze toward something in the horizon. Marcy looked, too,
and was electrified to see a thick, black smoke floating up among the
clouds. Could it be that there was a cruiser off there bearing down upon
them? He looked at Captain Beardsley again, and came to the conclusion
that there must be something suspicious about the stranger, for the
captain, after gazing at the smoke through his glass, squared around and
backed down from aloft with much more celerity than Marcy ever saw him
exhibit before.

"It is a cruiser," thought the young pilot, when the captain assumed
charge of the deck and ordered the schooner to be put about and headed
toward Crooked Inlet. "She has heard the sound of our guns and is coming
up to see what is the matter."

Marcy couldn't decide whether the captain's pale face and excited,
nervous manner were occasioned by the fears that had been conjured up by
the sudden appearance of that strange vessel in the offing, or by the
rage and disappointment he felt over the loss of the valuable prize he
had so confidently expected to capture. He hauled down the schooner's
flag, packed it away in the chest where it was usually kept, and then
had leisure to take a look at the crew. Could they be the same men who
had so valiantly fired into that unarmed brig a short half hour before?

"It _is_ a cruiser," repeated Marcy, turning to the side to conceal the
look of exultation which he knew the thought brought to his face. "It
can't be anything else, for the whole ship's company are scared out of
their boots. We were so busy with the brig that we never saw her until
she got so close on to us that she is liable to cut us off from the
Inlet. If she comes within range of us Captain Beardsley will find that
there is a heap of difference between shooting and being shot at. I
hope----"

Marcy was about to add that he hoped the on-coming war ship would either
capture or sink the _Osprey_, and so put a stop to her piratical career;
but if she did, what would become of him? If one of those big shells
came crashing into the schooner, it would be as likely to hit him as
anybody else, and if the privateer were cut off from the Inlet and
captured, he would be taken prisoner with the rest of the crew and sent
to some Northern prison. Of course, Marcy could not make the captain of
the war ship believe that he did not ship on the privateer of his own
free will, and that he was strong for the Union; and indeed it would be
dangerous for him to try, for the folks at home would be sure to hear of
it sooner or later, and then what would happen to his mother? As the
young pilot turned these thoughts over in his mind, he came to the
conclusion that he would feel a little safer if he knew that the
schooner would reach the Inlet in advance of the steamer, but he was
obliged to confess that it looked doubtful. She was coming up rapidly,
land was a long way off, and it would be many hours before darkness came
to their aid.

"That rain squall out there is our only salvation," Marcy heard the
captain say to one of the mates. "When it comes up we'll haul our wind
and run for Hatteras. The cruiser will hold straight on her course, and
if the squall lasts long enough we may be able to run her out of
sight."

Although Captain Beardsley was frightened at the prospect of falling
into the hands of those whose flag he had insulted, he did not lose his
head. The plan he had suddenly adopted for eluding the steamer proved
that he could take desperate chances when it was necessary. By hauling
his wind (which in this case meant shaping the schooner's course as near
as possible toward the point from which the wind was blowing), he would
be compelled to pass within a few miles of the steamer, and if the
rain-cloud, under cover of which he hoped to escape, lifted for the
space of one short minute, he was almost certain to be discovered. The
squall came up directly behind the steamer, and in about half an hour
overtook and shut her out from view.

"Now's our time," exclaimed Beardsley. "Flatten in the fore and main
sails and give a strong pull at the headsail sheets. Tierney, go to the
wheel."

Marcy lent a hand, and while the orders were being obeyed was gratified
to hear one of the crew remark that the squall was something more than a
squall; that it was coming to stay, and that they would be lucky if they
saw the end of it by sunrise the next morning. If that proved to be the
case they would have nothing to fear from the steamer. All they would
have to look out for was shipwreck.

Half an hour was all the time that was necessary to prove that the
sailor knew what he was talking about. The wind blew a gale and the rain
fell in torrents. Just before the storm reached them, Captain Beardsley
thought it would be wise to shorten his canvas, but all he took in were
the gaff-topsails and fore-topmast staysail. Shortly afterward it became
necessary to reef the sails that were left, and when that had been done
the captain declared that he wouldn't take in anything else, even if he
knew that the wind would take the sticks out of the schooner by the
roots. He would rather be wrecked than go to prison any day.

Things could not have worked more to Beardsley's satisfaction if he had
had the planning of the storm himself. The privateer's crew never saw
the steamer after the rain and mist shut her out from view; and when the
sun arose the next morning, after the wildest night Marcy Gray ever
experienced on the water, there was not a sail in sight.

"I wish it was safe for us to stand out and try our luck again," said
Captain Beardsley, who had been aloft sweeping the horizon with his
glass. "But the Yankee war ships are getting too thick for comfort."

"Don't you expect to find some of them about Hatteras?" inquired Marcy.

"Of course I do. I believe the one that was chasing us yesterday came
from there, and that that brig we lost held some communication with her
before she sighted us. If she hadn't been warned by somebody, what was
the reason she began dodging the minute she saw us? I hope to slip in
between them, or at least to get under the protection of the guns of the
forts at the Inlet before any of the cruisers can come within range.
Privateering is played out along this coast. As soon as we get into port
I shall tear out the bunks below, reduce my crew, and go to blockade
running."

"But you'll run the same risk of capture that you do now," Marcy
reminded him.

"But I won't be captured with guns aboard of me," said Beardsley, with a
wink that doubtless meant a great deal. "Perhaps you don't know it, but
I gave orders, in case that steamer sighted us again, to throw
everything in the shape of guns and ammunition overboard. Then they
couldn't have proved a thing against us."

"The size of your crew would have laid you open to suspicion," replied
Marcy.

"Yes; but suspicion and proof are two different things," was the
captain's answer. "But I am afraid of them howitzers, all the same, and
am going to get shet of them the minute we get to Newbern. I don't
reckon I can give you a furlong to go home this time, 'cause it won't
take two days to get the schooner ready to take out a load of cotton."

"But you'll not need a pilot any longer," said Marcy, who was very much
disappointed.

"What's the reason I won't? Do you reckon I'm going to run out of
Hatteras in the face of all the war ships that are fooling around here?
Not much. And I'm not going to hug the coast, neither. I'll make Crooked
Inlet my point of departure, like I always have done, and then I'll
stand straight out to sea till I get outside the cruisers' beat. See?
Then I'll shape my course for Nassau. It'll give us a heap of bother and
we'll go miles out of our way; but we'll be safe."

"But suppose we are captured after all your precautions; what then?"

"Well, if we are we'll lose our vessel and be sent to jail; but we'll
not be treated as pirates, don't you see? The Northern folks are awful
mad 'cause our President has issued letters of mark-we and reprisal, and
their papers demand that every one of us who is taken shall be hung to
the yardarm. To tell you the honest truth, that kinder scared me, and
that's one reason why I want to get out of the business of
privateering."

"And you think you will still need a pilot?"

"Can't you see it for yourself from what I have told you?" asked
Beardsley, in reply. "And, Marcy, you'll make more money with less risk
than you do in this business. It ain't to be expected that men will run
the risk of going to jail for regular foremast hands' wages. They want
more money, and it's right that they should have it. Why, them
blockade-runners I told you about paid their hands five hundred dollars
apiece for the run to Nassau and back. What do you think of that?"

"I think it is good wages," replied Marcy. ["If the business was only
safe and honorable," he added, to himself.]

"Of course it is good wages. I don't expect to get a crew for any less;
but, as I said before, I'll do the fair thing by you. If you go home you
will have to enlist--I've heard the folks say that everybody had got to
show his hand one way or the other--and then you would get only twelve
or thirteen dollars a month. Think of that!"

Marcy was right when he told himself that the captain had him fast, and
that there was no release for him as long as the _Osprey_ remained in
commission. It was a gloomy outlook, but the only thing he could do was
to make the best of it.

As soon as the captain thought it safe to do so every inch of the
privateer's canvas was given to the breeze, and she made good headway
toward her destination. That day and the ensuing night passed without
excitement of any sort, and at sunrise the next morning two objects were
in plain sight from the schooner's deck. One was the entrance to
Hatteras Inlet, and the other was a large steamer in the offing. The two
vessels had been in view of each other ever since daylight. They were
both headed for the same point--one making the most desperate efforts to
place herself under cover of the guns of the forts, and the other making
equally desperate efforts to bring the schooner within range of her
bow-chaser before she could get there. It was a close and exciting race,
and the crews of both vessels watched it anxiously. The black smoke
rolled in thick clouds from the steamer's funnels, and the privateer's
topmasts snapped and bent like fishing-rods, while her white-faced
captain paced his quarter-deck, dividing his attention between his
imperilled top-hamper and the pursuing steamer, and rubbing his hands
nervously. At last the climax came. A puff of white smoke arose from the
steamer's bow, and a shell from an old-fashioned smooth-bore thirty-two
pounder dropped into the water about half way between her and the flying
schooner. If that same steamer had had for a bow-chaser the heavy rifled
gun she had a few months later, the result would have been different. As
it was, Captain Beardsley gathered courage, and the anxious look left
his face.

"If that's the best he can do we're all right," said he gleefully. "If
this breeze holds half an hour longer we'll show him our flag."

"Shall we give him an answer from one of the howitzers, sir?" inquired
Tierney.

"Not for your life!" replied Beardsley, quickly. And then he added in a
lower tone, addressing himself to Marcy, who stood near, "That would be
a bright idea, wouldn't it? This breeze may die away any minute, and we
don't want to do anything to make them Yankees madder at us than they be
now. Another thing, we mustn't give 'em anything to remember this
schooner by. We may be caught when we try to run the blockade with our
cargo of cotton, and we don't want anybody to recall the fact that we
once had guns aboard. See?"

It was a long time before Marcy Gray could make up his mind how the
chase was going to end, although he noticed when it first began that
there were two things in the schooner's favor. One was that she was so
far out of range that her pursuer could not cripple her, and the other
was, that the wind that was favorable to her was unfavorable to the
steamer, so that the latter could not use her sails. He also took note
of the fact that Beardsley hugged the shore pretty closely, and this
made it evident that he intended to beach the schooner rather than
permit her to fall into the hands of the Yankees. But he was not driven
to such extremity. The breeze held out, and although the steamer
continued to fire her bow-chaser at intervals, the privateer rounded the
point unharmed; while the pursuer, not caring to trust herself within
range of the rifled guns on shore, veered around and stood out to sea. A
look through his glass showed Beardsley that the half-finished batteries
had been manned in readiness to give the war ship a warm reception if
she had ventured to follow the privateer through the Inlet.

"Marcy, run up the flag so that our friends in the forts can see who we
are!" commanded Beardsley. "The last time we sailed through here we had
a prize following in our wake, and we would have had a more valuable one
to-day if that brig hadn't been warned by them Yankees outside."

The Confederate emblem proved to be as good as a countersign, and
Captain Beardsley was permitted to sail on through the Inlet without
going ashore to give an account of himself. As soon as he was safe
inside the bar he directed his course toward Newbern, which he reached
without any more adventures; but there were no cheers to greet him as
his schooner was pulled into the wharf. Beardsley's agent, who was the
first to spring over the rail, looked very much disgusted.

"Why, Captain, how is this?" were the first words he uttered. "I didn't
expect to see you come back empty handed."

"No more did I expect to come back that way," was the captain's reply.
"But we can't always have luck on our side. There is too many cruisers
out there."

"Did you see any of them?"

"Well, I reckon. We had a race with two of them, and I ain't going
privateering no more."

"Scared out, are you?" said the agent, with some contempt in his tones.
"Well, it may interest you to know that while you were fooling around
out there, doing nothing, we have fought the battle that will bring us
our independence."

"_You_ did?" exclaimed Beardsley, who knew that the agent thought he had
played the part of a coward in making such haste to get back to port.
"You didn't have nary hand in it. You stay around home, yelling for the
Confederacy, and flinging your slurs at we uns who have been under the
fire of a Yankee war ship, but you ain't got the pluck to go into the
service yourself. We didn't see but one merchantman while we was gone
and she was a brig; and as she carried three times the canvas we did she
had the heels of us, and besides she wouldn't let us come within range.
It was all we wanted to do to get into Hatteras, on account of the
cruiser that fired on us. What battle was it that gained us our
independence?"

"Bull Run," replied the agent.

"Where's that?"

"Somewhere up in Virginia. We had thirty-five thousand men and the
Yankees more than twice as many; but we threw them into a panic and run
them clear into Washington. I expect our army has got the city by this
time."

"I didn't think the Yankees would fight," said the captain reflectively.
"Then the war is just as good as over."

"That's what the Richmond papers say."

"And it won't be no use for me to go blockade running?"

"Oh, yes it will. Peace hasn't been declared yet, and you had better
make money at something while you can. After all, I don't know that I
blame you for coming back. We've lost two blockade-runners and one
privateer since you went out."

"There, now"; exclaimed Beardsley. "And I'd have lost my own vessel if I
hadn't had the best of luck. What you sneering at me for?"

"Well, you see you were safe outside, and I was sure you would come back
with a prize. I was disappointed when I saw you coming up the river
alone."

"Not more disappointed than I was myself," answered the captain. "That
brig was worth a power of money, and I might have been chasing her yet
if that man-of-war hadn't hove in sight."

This was all the conversation Marcy overheard between Beardsley and his
agent, for the two drew off on one side and talked earnestly in tones so
low that he could not catch a word they said. It was plain that they
came to an understanding on some point, for shortly afterward they went
into the cabin, and Marcy was commanded to station himself at the head
of the companion ladder and pass the word for the crew as fast as their
names were called. He could see that the schooner's books and papers had
been placed upon the cabin table, and that led him to believe that the
reduction of the crew was to begin immediately. When the first man who
was sent below came on deck again with his wages in his hand, Marcy
whispered:

"What did the captain say when he paid you off B+"

"He didn't say he was gallied," replied the sailor, with a knowing look,
"but I'll bet he is. The booming of that war ship's guns was too much
for his nerves, and he's going to quit pirating and go to blockade
running. I don't see but that one is about as dangerous as the other."
One by one the members of the crew were sent into the cabin, and as fast
as they received their money and their discharges they bundled up their
clothes and bedding and went ashore. At last there were only six
foremast hands left, including Marcy Gray, and these were summoned into
the cabin in a body to listen to what Captain Beardsley had to propose
to them. He began with the statement that privateering was played out
along that coast, because numerous cruisers were making it their
business to watch the inlets and warn passing vessels to look out for
themselves. It was no use trying to catch big ships that would not let
him come within range, and so he had decided to put his howitzers
ashore, tear out the berths and gun decks fore and aft, and turn the
_Osprey_ into a freighter. He would change her name, too, give her
another coat of paint, and take the figures off her sails, so that she
could not be recognized from the description the _Hollins's_ men would
give of her when they went North.

"I have kept you men because you are the best in the crew," said
Beardsley in conclusion, "and of course I want none but good men and
true aboard of me; but you needn't stay if you don't want to. I want you
to understand that blockade running is a dangerous business, and that we
may be captured as others have been; but if you will stand by me, I'll
give you five hundred dollars apiece for the run--one hundred to spend
in Nassau, and the balance when you help me bring the schooner safe back
to Newbern. What do you say?"

The men had evidently been expecting something of this sort, for without
a moment's hesitation Tierney, speaking for his companions, replied that
the captain's liberal offer was accepted, and they would do all that men
could do to make the _Osprey's_ voyages profitable. Marcy said nothing,
for Beardsley had already given him to understand that he was to be one
of the blockade-runner's crew. He was the only native American among the
foremast hands, and the only one who could sign his name to the shipping
articles, the others being obliged to make their marks. When this had
been done the men returned to the deck, and the agent went ashore to
make arrangements for landing the guns, to hunt up a gang of ship
carpenters, and find a cotton-factor who was willing to take his chances
on making or losing a fortune. He worked to such good purpose that in
less than an hour two parties of men were busy on the schooner--one with
the howitzers and the other with the bunks below--and a broker was
making a contract with Beardsley for taking out a cargo of cotton. When
the broker had gone ashore Beardsley beckoned Marcy to follow him into
the cabin.

"The schooner owes you seventeen hundred dollars and better," said he,
as he closed the sliding door and pointed to a chair. "It's in the bank
ashore, and you can have it whenever you want it. Would you like to take
out a venture?"

It was right on the point of Marcy's tongue to reply that he would be
glad to do it; but he checked himself in time, for the thought occurred
to him that perhaps this was another attempt on the part of Captain
Beardsley to find out something about the state of his mother's
finances. So he looked down at the carpet and said nothing.

"There's money in it," continued Beardsley. "Suppose you take out two
bales of cotton, sell it in Nassau for three times what it was worth a
few months ago, and invest the proceeds in quinine; why, you'll make
five hundred percent. Of course I can't grant all the hands the same
privilege, so I will make the bargain for you through my agent, and
Tierney and the rest needn't know a thing about. What do you say?"

"I don't think I had better risk it," answered Marcy.

"What for?" asked Beardsley.

"Well, the money I've got I'm sure of, am I not?"

"Course you are. Didn't I say you could have it any minute you had a
mind to call for it?"

"You did; but suppose I should put it into cotton, as you suggest, and
the _Osprey_ should fall into the hands of one of those war ships
outside. There'd be all my money gone to the dogs, or, what amounts to
the same thing, into the hands of the Yankees. I may want to use that
money before the war is over."

"But didn't you hear the agent say that we ain't going to have any war?
We've licked 'em before they could take their coats off."

"But perhaps they'll not stay whipped. My teachers at the academy were
pretty well posted, and I heard some of them say that a war is surely
coming, and in the end the Southern States will wish they had never
seceded."

"Well, them teachers of yourn was the biggest fules I ever heard tell
of," exclaimed Beardsley, settling back in his chair and slamming a
paper-weight down upon the table. "Why, don't I tell you that we've got
'em licked already? More'n that, I don't mean to fall into the hands of
them cruisers outside. I tell you that you'll miss it if you don't take
out a venture. And as for your mother needing them seventeen hundred
dollars to buy grub and the like, you can't pull the wool over my eyes
in no such way as that. She's got money by the bushel, and I know it to
be a fact."

"Then you know more than I do," replied Marcy, his eyes never dropping
for an instant under the searching gaze the captain fixed upon him.
"Now, I would like to ask you one question: You have money enough of
your own to load this vessel, have you not?"

"Why, of course I--that's neither here nor there," replied Beardsley,
who was not sharp enough to keep out of the trap that Marcy had placed
for him. "What of it?"

"I know it to be a fact that you could load the schooner with cotton
purchased with your own money if you felt like it," answered the young
pilot, "but you don't mean to do it. You would rather carry cotton
belonging to somebody else, and that is all the proof I want that you
are afraid of the Yankees. If you want to do the fair thing by me, why
do you advise me to put my money into a venture, when you are afraid to
put in a dollar for yourself?"

"Why, man alive," Beardsley almost shouted, "don't I risk my schooner?
Every nigger I've got was paid for with money she made for me by
carrying cigars and such like between Havana and Baltimore."

"That's what I thought," said Marcy, to himself. "And you didn't pay a
cent of duty on those cigars, either."

"I do my share by risking my schooner," continued the captain. "But I
want somebody to make something besides myself, and if you don't want to
risk your money, I reckon I'll give the mates a chance. That's all."

"What in the name of sense did I go and speak to him about them cigars
for?" he added, mentally, as the pilot ascended the ladder that led to
the deck. "I think myself that there's a war coming, and if we get
licked I must either make a fast friend of that boy or get rid of him;
for if he tells on me I'll get into trouble sure."

It looked now as though Marcy might some day have it in his power to
make things very unpleasant for Captain Beardsley.



                              CHAPTER V.

                          A CAT WITHOUT CLAWS.

"I really believe I've got a hold on the old rascal at last," said Marcy
to himself, as he leaned against the rail and watched the men, who,
under direction of the mates, were hard at work getting the howitzers
ashore. "From this time on he had better be careful how he treats my
mother, for he may fall into the hands of the Yankees some day; and if
that ever happens, I will take pains to see that he doesn't get back to
Nashville in a hurry. I'll go any lengths to get a letter to the
Secretary of the Treasury, telling him just who and what Beardsley is,
and then perhaps he will stand a chance of being tried for something
besides piracy and blockade-running."

Marcy's first care was to write to his mother. While omitting no item of
news, he took pains to word the letter so cautiously that it could not
be used against him in case some of his secret enemies in and around
Nashville, the postmaster and Colonel Shelby, for instance, took it into
their heads to open and read it instead of sending it to its address.
They had showed him that they were quite mean enough to do it. Then he
went ashore to mail the letter and take notes, and was not long in
making up his mind that he was not the only one who thought there was
going to be a war. Although the Newbern people were very jubilant over
the great victory at Bull Run, they did not act as though they thought
that that was the last battle they would have to fight before their
independence would be acknowledged, for Marcy saw infantry companies
marching and drilling in almost every street through which he passed,
and every other man and boy he met was dressed in uniform. As he drew
near to the post-office he ran against a couple of young soldiers about
his own age, or, to be more exact, they ran against him; for they were
coming along with their arms locked, talking so loudly that they could
have been heard on the opposite side of the street, and when the
_Osprey's_ pilot turned out to let them pass, they tried to crowd him
off into the gutter. But Marcy, beside being a sturdy fellow, knew how
to stand up for his rights. He braced his foot firmly against the
curbstone and met the shock of the collision so vigorously that those
who would have sent him headlong into the street were sent backward
themselves, and came very near going head first down the stairs that led
into a basement restaurant.

"Don't you think I ought to have a little of this sidewalk?" he asked
good-naturedly, as the two straightened up and faced him with clenched
hands and flashing eyes.

"Then put on a uniform and you can have as much of it as you want," said
one, in reply.

"How long have you had those good clothes of yours?" inquired Marcy.
"Were they in the fight at Bull Run?"

"Of course not. We only enlisted a week ago, but we show our good will
and you don't."

"Then you have never smelled powder or heard the noise of the enemy's
guns?"

"It isn't likely, for there's been no fighting around here," said the
same speaker, who began to wonder if he and his companions hadn't made a
mistake.

"Then go and get some experience before you take it upon yourselves to
shove a veteran into the ditch," said Marcy loftily. "I've been in the
service ever since President Davis issued his call for privateers.
You've heard of the _Osprey_, haven't you? Well, I belong to her."

"Is that so?" exclaimed the other, extending his hand, which the pilot
was prompt to accept. "I am sorry we insulted you and beg your pardon
for it. But you ought to wear something to show who you are, for the
folks around here don't think much of citizens unless they have declared
their intention of enlisting as soon as they can get their affairs in
shape."

"I knew why you bumped up against me, and that was the reason I didn't
get mad at it," answered Marcy. "You don't seem to have much to do; and
if you will walk up to the post-office with me, I'll show you over the
_Osprey_, if you would like to take a look at her. But we'll have to be
in a hurry if we want to see her with the guns aboard, for she is being
changed into a blockade-runner."

"Ah! That's the money-making business," said one of the recruits with
enthusiasm. "I wish I knew something about boats, so that I could go
into it myself. What wages do you get?"

"Five hundred dollars for the run to Nassau and back."

The eyes of Marcy's new friends grew to twice their usual size. They
looked hard at him to see if he was really in earnest, and then whistled
in concert.

"It's worth it," continued Marcy, "and I don't believe you could get men
to go into it for less. From the time we leave the protection of the
forts at Hatteras to the time we get back, we shall be in constant fear
of capture. We know something of the dangers of the business, for we had
two narrow escapes during our last cruise."

Of course the recruits wanted to know all about it, and as they faced
around and walked with him, Marcy gave them a short history of what the
schooner had done since she went into commission. When he told how
neatly that Yankee brig had slipped through Captain Beardsley's fingers,
his companions looked at him in surprise.

"What a pity," said one. "And yet you talk as if you were glad of it."

"I talk as if it was a brave and skilful act, and so it was," answered
Marcy. "You would say the same if you had been there and seen it done."

"No, I wouldn't. The Yankees are not brave and skilful, and they can't
do anything to make me think they are. How will they feel when they see
our President sitting in the White House, dictating terms of peace to
them? I hope our company will be there to witness the ceremony."

This was a point Marcy did not care to discuss with the two recruits,
for fear he might say something to arouse in their minds a suspicion
that he was not intensely loyal to the Confederacy, even if he did sail
under its flag; so he inquired if there were anything else but drilling
and marching going on in Newbern.

"Not much else in the city," replied one of the young soldiers. "But
there's a heap going on about five miles below. There's a corps of
engineers down there laying out a system of fortifications which are to
be a mile long. It will take eight or nine thousand men to garrison
them, and they will be defended by thirty-one guns."

"But I don't see any sense in it," said the other, who seemed to think
he had learned considerable of the art of war since he put on his gray
jacket. "A Yankee army will never come so far south as Newbern, and
their gunboats can't get past the forts at Hatteras."

But, all the same, the Confederate authorities thought the works ought
to be pushed to completion, and so they were; but they did not amount to
much, for Burnside's troops captured them after a four hours' fight,
with the loss of only ninety-one men killed, the garrison retreating to
Newbern and taking the cars for Goldsborough. When Marcy heard of it a
few months later, he wondered if his new acquaintances were in the
fight, and if they still held to the opinion that the Yankees were not
brave.

After leaving the post-office they spent an hour on board the _Osprey_
and parted at last well pleased with the result of their meeting, and
fully satisfied in their own minds that the Yankees had been so badly
whipped at Bull Run that they would never dare face the Confederate
soldiers again. At least the two recruits were satisfied of it; but
Marcy thought he knew better.

On the morning of the next day but one, a tug came alongside and towed
the schooner up to a warehouse, where there was a load of cotton waiting
for her; and for want of something better to do, Marcy hunted up a
cotton-hook and assisted in rolling the heavy bales on board. The little
vessel was so changed in appearance that a landsman would hardly have
recognized her. The treacherous figure "9," which Beardsley had caused
to be painted on her sails, in the hope that merchant vessels would take
her for a harmless pilot-boat, was not to be seen; all the black paint
about her, from the heel of her bowsprit to the crosstrees, had given
place to a bluish-white; and on both sides of her bow and over her cabin
door the name _Hattie_ appeared in large gilt letters.

"Now, when them _Hollins_ men get home and try to give the war ships a
description of the privateer that captured them, they will be mighty apt
to shoot wide of the mark, won't they?" said Captain Beardsley, who was
much pleased with the work the painters had done under his instructions.
"There ain't the first thing aboard of us to show that we used to be
engaged in the privateering business. Oh, I'm a sharp one, and it takes
something besides a Yankee to get the start of me."

Beardsley was so impatient to get to sea, and so very anxious to handle
the fortune he was sure he was going to make by his first attempt at
blockade running, that he employed all the men that could be worked to
advantage, and took on board every bale he could possibly find room for.
The deck load was so large that it threatened to interfere with the
handling of the sails! and when a tug pulled the schooner's head around
till it pointed down the river, she set so low in the water that she
could not show her usual speed, even with the tide in her favor, and
Tierney said in Marcy's hearing that he believed he could hoist a sail
in a washing-tub and reach Nassau before the schooner could leave the
sand dunes of Hatteras out of sight. But the captain did not seem to
think he had made any mistake in loading his vessel, although he did
show some anxiety for her safety; for when she reached Crooked Inlet he
walked aft and took charge of the wheel himself, and without saying one
word to the young fellow whom he called his pilot, until he saw the
latter looking at him as if he wanted to know what Beardsley meant by
such work.

"There, now," said the captain, by way of explanation, "I thought you
was below; I did for a fact. And so I said to myself that I wouldn't
bother you, but would try and take her through without your help, just
to see if I could do it, you know. Supposing you was the only one aboard
who knew the channel, and something should happen to you, and I should
want to come through here in a hurry to get out of the way of a war ship
that was close in my wake; wouldn't I be in a pretty fix? Now stand by,
so't you can give me a word in case I don't hold her just right."

"You old hypocrite," thought Marcy. "If that was the first lie you ever
told it would choke you. So he thinks something is going to happen to
me, does he? Now what does he mean by that?"

Captain Beardsley had done nothing more than Marcy expected him to do,
but he did not have a word of fault to find with it, as a regular pilot
would have done when he saw his business taken out of his hands in so
unceremonious a fashion. If the skipper was willing to pay him five
hundred dollars for doing nothing, the boy didn't think he ought to
complain. He took his stand close by the captain's side, but he did not
touch the wheel, nor did he so much as look at the black and red buoys
that marked the channel. He was turning these words over in his mind:
"Suppose something should happen to you!" Was he to understand that
Beardsley had made up his mind to get rid of him in some way?

"If that is what he wants, why didn't he pay me off while we were in
Newbern?" was the question Marcy asked himself. "But for some reason or
other it doesn't suit him to have me at home with mother; and that makes
me think that there's going to be an attempt made to steal the money she
has hidden in the cellar wall. Oh, how I wish Jack was at home."

When the schooner was clear of the Inlet, Beardsley gave the boy a wink
as if to say, "I did take her through, didn't I?" held a short
consultation with the mates, during which the course was determined
upon, then mounted to the cross trees with his glass in his hand; and
after sweeping it around the horizon, gave the cheering information to
those below that there was nothing in sight. But there was something in
sight a few hours later--something that put Beardsley in such a rage
that he did not get over it for a day or two. It was a schooner a little
larger than his own, and she was standing directly across the _Hattie's_
bows. She did not show any disposition to "dodge" as the brig had done,
but held straight on her course, and this made Captain Beardsley suspect
that there might be a cruiser following in her wake to see that she did
not get into trouble. But if there was, his glass failed to reveal the
fact, and this suggested an idea to him. When the stranger's topsails
could be seen from the _Hattie's_ deck he shouted down to his mate:

"Say, Morgan, I'll tell you what's the matter with that fellow. He don't
know that there's such things as privateers afloat, and he ain't seen
nary cruiser to warn him. That's why he don't sheer off."

"I reckon you're right, cap'n," replied the mate. "It's plain that he
ain't afraid of us."

"Well, if I am right," continued Beardsley, "it proves that the war
ships off Hatteras have went off somewheres, and that the coast below is
all clear; don't you think so? What do you say if we make a straight run
for our port? We'll save more than a week by it."

"I'm agreeable," answered the mate, who, upon receiving a nod from the
captain, gave the necessary orders, and in a few minutes the _Hattie_
was close-hauled and running in such a direction that if the two vessels
held on their way, they would pass almost within hailing distance of
each other. Of course the captain of the stranger must have witnessed
this manoeuvre, but he did not seem to be surprised or troubled by it;
for he kept straight on and in another hour dashed by within less than a
quarter of a mile of Captain Beardsley, who lifted his hat and waved it
to a small party of men, her officers probably, who were standing on her
quarter deck. In response to the salutation the Stars and Stripes were
hoisted at her peak.

"If she had done that three weeks ago wouldn't I have brought that flag
down with a jerk?" exclaimed Beardsley angrily. "Did anybody ever hear
of such luck? Why didn't she show up when we had them howitzers aboard?
They don't know what to make of us, for I can see two fellows with
glasses pointed at us all the time. Run up that Yankee flag, Marcy."

The latter was prompt to obey the order, and he was quite willing to do
it, since it was not in Beardsley's power to do any harm to the handsome
stranger. After being allowed to float for a few minutes the two flags
were hauled down and stowed away in their respective chests, and the
little vessels parted company without either one knowing who the other
was. But there was an angry lot of men on board the _Hattie._ Beardsley
showed that he was one of them by the hard words he used when he came
down from aloft and sent a lookout up to take his place, and Tierney,
after shaking his fist at the Yankee, shut one eye, glanced along the
rail with the other, as he had glanced through the sights of the
howitzer he once commanded, and then jerked back his right hand as if he
were pulling a lock-string. Marcy Gray was the only one aboard who
carried a light heart.

After the schooner's course was changed there was a good deal of
suppressed excitement among the crew, for Captain Beardsley was about to
take what some of them thought to be a desperate risk. Probably there
were no cruisers off Hatteras when that merchant vessel passed, but that
was all of fifteen or twenty hours ago, and they had had plenty of time
to get back to their stations. So a bright lookout was kept by all
hands, and Beardsley or one of the mates went aloft every few minutes to
take a peep through the glass. Marcy thought there was good cause for
watchfulness and anxiety. In the first place, the Bahama Islands, of
which Nassau, in the Island of New Providence, was the principal port,
lay off the coast of Florida, and about five hundred miles southeast of
Charleston. They must have been at least twice as far from Crooked
Inlet, so that Captain Beardsley, by selecting Newbern as his home port,
ran twice the risk of falling into the hands of the Federal cruisers
that he would if he had decided to run his contraband cargo into
Savannah or Charleston.

"It seems to me that the old man ought to have learned wisdom after
living for so many years in defiance of the law," thought Marcy, when it
came his turn to go aloft and relieve the lookout. "Of course a smuggler
has to take his chances with the revenue cutters he is liable to meet
along the coast, as well as with the Custom House authorities, and I
should think that constant fear of capture would have made him sly and
cautious; but it hasn't."--"Nothing in sight, sir," he said, in answer
to an inquiry from the officer who had charge of the deck.

And this was the report that was sent down by every lookout who went
aloft during the next four days; and what a time of excitement and
suspense that was for Marcy Gray and all the rest of the _Hattie's_
crew. Perhaps there was not so much danger of being run down at night by
some heavy vessel as there would have been a few months before, but
Marcy's nerves thrilled with apprehension when he stood holding fast to
the rail during the lonely mid-watch, and the schooner, with the spray
dashing wildly about her bows and everything drawing, was running before
a strong wind through darkness so black that her flying-jib-boom could
not be seen, and there was no light on board except the one in the
binnacle.

"I know it's dangerous and I don't like it any better than you do,"
Beardsley said to him one night. "But think of the money there is in it,
and what a fule you were for not taking out a venture when I gave you
the chance. I bought four bales apiece for the mates, and they will
pocket the money that you might have had just as well as not."

"But I want to use my seventeen hundred dollars," replied Marcy; and so
he did. He still clung to the hope that he might some day have an
opportunity to return it to the master of the _Hollins_, and that was
the reason he was unwilling to run the risk of losing it.

"Go and tell that to the marines," said Captain Beardsley impatiently.
"They'll believe anything, but I won't. You don't need it; your folks
don't, and I know it. Keep a bright lookout for lights, hold a stiff
upper lip, and I will take you safely through."

And so he did. Not only were the Federal war ships accommodating enough
to keep out of the way, but the elements were in good humor also. The
schooner had a fair wind during the whole of her perilous journey, and
in due time it wafted her into the port of Nassau. Although Marcy Gray
had never been there before, he had heard and read of New Providence as
a barren rock, with scarcely soil enough to produce a few pineapples and
oranges, and of Nassau as a place of no consequence whatever so far as
commerce was concerned. It boasted a small sponge trade, exported some
green turtles and conch-shells, and was the home of a few fisherman and
wreckers; this was all Marcy thought there was of Nassau, and
consequently his surprise was great when he found himself looking out
upon the wharves of a thriving, bustling little town. The slave-holders'
rebellion, "which brought woe and wretchedness to so many of our States,
was the wind that blew prosperity to Nassau." When President Lincoln's
proclamation, announcing the blockade of all the Confederate ports was
issued, Nassau took on an air of business and importance, and at once
became the favorite resort of vessels engaged in contraband trade. There
were Northern men there too, and Northern vessels as well; for, to quote
from the historian, "The Yankee, in obedience to his instincts of
traffic, scented the prey from afar, and went there to turn an honest
penny by assisting the Confederates to run the blockade." The supplies
which the Confederates had always purchased in the North, and of which
they already began to stand in need, were shipped from Europe in neutral
vessels; and being consigned to a neutral port (for Nassau belonged to
England), they were in no danger of being captured by our war ships
during the long voyage across the Atlantic. It was when these supplies
were taken from the wharves and placed in the holds of vessels like the
_Hattie_ that the trouble began, and men like Captain Beardsley ran all
the risk and reaped the lion's share of the profits. Almost the first
thing that drew Marcy's attention was the sight of a Union and
Confederate flag floating within a few rods of each other.

"What's the meaning of that?" he asked of Beardsley, as soon as he found
opportunity to speak to him. "We don't own this town, do we?"

"No; but we've got a Consulate here," was the reply. "I don't know's I
understand just what that means, but it's some sort of an officer that
our government has sent here to look out for our interests. If a man
wants to go from here to our country, he must go to that Consulate and
get a pass before any blockade-runner will take him. Now don't you wish
you had took my advice and brought out a venture?"

"It's too late to think of that now," answered Marcy. "And your own
profits are not safe yet. It must be all of a thousand miles from here
to Newbern, and perhaps we'll not have as good luck going as we did
coming. I am to have a hundred dollars to spend here, am I not?"

"Course. That's what I promised before you and the rest signed articles.
I'll give it to you the minute this cotton is got ashore and paid for.
What you going to do with it?"

"I thought I would invest it in medicine."

"Your head's level. You couldn't make bigger money on anything else."

"And as it is my own money and the captain of the _Hollins_ has no
interest in it, I shall feel quite at liberty to spend it as I choose,"
soliloquized Marcy, as the captain turned away to meet the
representative of the English house to which his cargo of cotton was
consigned. "Besides, I must keep up appearances, or I'll get into
trouble."

"Turn to, all hands, and get off the hatches," shouted one of the mates.
"Lively now, for the sooner we start back the sooner we'll get there."

Marcy did not know whether or not he was included in this order
addressed to "all hands," but as the officer looked hard at him he
concluded he was. At any rate he was willing to work, if for no other
purpose than to keep him from thinking. Somehow he did not like to have
his mind dwell upon the homeward run.



                              CHAPTER VI.

                         RUNNING THE BLOCKADE.

The gang of 'longshoremen, which was quickly sent on board the _Hattie_
by the Englishman to whom we referred in the last chapter, worked to
such good purpose that in just forty-eight hours from the time her lines
were made fast to the wharf, the blockade-runner was ready for her
return trip. Meanwhile Marcy Gray and the rest of the crew had little to
do but roam about the town, spending their money and mingling with the
citizens, the most of whom were as good Confederates as could have been
found anywhere in the Southern States. Marcy afterward told his mother
that if there were any Union people on the island they lived in the
American Consulate, from whose roof floated the Stars and Stripes. Marcy
was both astonished and shocked to find that nearly every one with whom
he conversed believed that the Union was already a thing of the past,
and that the rebellious States never could be whipped. One day he spoke
to Beardsley about it, while the latter was pacing his quarter-deck
smoking his after-dinner cigar.

"If those English sailors I was talking with a little while ago are so
very anxious to see the Union destroyed, I don't see why they don't ship
under the Confederate flag," said he. "But what has England got against
the United States, anyway?"

"Man alive, she's got everything against 'em," replied the captain, in a
surprised tone. "Didn't they lick old England twice, and ain't the
Yankee flag the only one to which a British army ever surrendered?
You're mighty right. She'd be glad to see the old Union busted into a
million pieces; but she's too big a coward to come out and help us open
and above board, and so she's helping on the sly. I wish the Yankees
would do something to madden her, but they're too sharp. They have give
up the _Herald_--the brig I was telling you about that sailed from
Wilmington just before you came back from your furlong. She was a
Britisher, yon know, and a warship took her prisoner; but the courts
allowed that Wilmington wasn't blockaded at all, except on paper, and
ordered her to be released. I only wish the Yankees had had the pluck to
hold fast to her."

Marcy's thoughts had often reverted to the capture of the brig _Herald_
and to Captain Beardsley's expressed wish that the act might lead to an
open rupture between the United States and England, and he was glad to
learn that there was to be no trouble on that score. But England could
not long keep her meddlesome fingers out of our pie. She did all she
dared to aid the Confederacy, and when the war was ended, had the fun of
handing over a good many millions of dollars to pay for the American
vessels that British built and British armed steamers had destroyed upon
the high seas.

"I saw you bring aboard some little bundles a while ago," continued
Beardsley. "What was in 'em?"

"One of them contained two woolen dresses I bought for mother, and in
the others there was nothing but medicine," said Marcy. "Woolen goods
will be worth money by and by."

"Oh, yes; they'll run up a little. Things always do in war times. The
money them medicines cost, you will be able to turn over about three
times when we get back to Newbern. You'll clear about three hundred
dollars, when you might just as well have made five thousand, if you'd
took my advice and put in your seventeen hundred, as I wanted you to
do."

Marcy made no rely, for he had grown weary of telling the captain that
he intended to use that money for another purpose.

During the two days they remained in port two large steamers came in,
and on the way out they passed as many more, both of which showed the
English colors when Marcy, in obedience to Beardsley's orders, ran the
Confederate emblem up to the _Hattie's_ peak.

"Everything that's aboard them ships is meant for us," said Captain
Beardsley. "I know it, because there never was no such steamers sailing
into this port before the war. Them fellows over the water are sending
in goods faster'n we can take 'em out. Go aloft, Marcy, and holler the
minute you see anything that looks like a sail or a smoke."

When the pilot had been discharged and the schooner filled away for
home, her crew settled down to business again, and every man became
alert and watchful. Those dreadful night runs on the way down Marcy
always thought of with a shiver, and now he had to go through with them
again; and one would surely have ended his career as a blockade-runner,
for a while at least, had it not been for the credulity or stupidity of
a Union naval captain. This particular night, for a wonder, was clear;
the stars shone brightly, and Marcy Gray, who sat on the cross trees
with the night-glass in his hand, had been instructed to use extra
vigilance. There was a heavy ground swell on, showing that there had
recently been a blow somewhere, and the schooner had just breeze enough
to give her steerage way, with nothing to spare. Marcy was thinking of
home, and wondering how much longer it would be necessary for him to
lead this double life, when he saw something that called him back to
earth again. He took a short look at it through his glass, and then
said, in tones just loud enough to reach the ears of those below:

"On deck, there."

"Ay, ay!" came the answer. "What's to do?"

"Lights straight ahead, sir."

"Throw a tarpaulin over that binnacle," commanded Beardsley; and a
moment later Marcy saw him coming up. He gave the glass into his hands
and moved aside so that the captain could find a place to stand on the
crosstrees. Either the latter's eyes were sharper than Marcy's, or else
he took time to make a more critical examination of the approaching
vessel, for presently he hailed the deck in low but excited tones.

"I'm afraid we're in for it, Morgan," said he. "I do for a fact. Tumble
up here and see what you think of her. I can make out that she is a
heavy steamer," he added, as Marcy moved to the other side of the mast,
and the mate came up and stood beside the captain, "and if she can't
make us out, too, every soul aboard of her must be blind. Our white
canvas must show a long ways in this bright starlight. What is she?"

"I give it up," replied the mate.

"She is coming straight for us, ain't she?"

"Looks like it. Suppose you change the course a few points and then we
can tell for a certainty."

Captain Beardsley thought this a suggestion worth acting upon. He sent
down the necessary orders to the second mate, who had been left in
charge of the deck, and in a few minutes the schooner was standing off
on the other tack, and rolling fearfully as she took the ground swell
almost broadside on. Then there came an interval of anxiety and
suspense, during which Marcy Gray strained his eyes until he saw a dozen
lights dancing before them instead of two, as there ought to have been,
and at last Captain Beardsley's worst fears were confirmed. The relative
position of the red and green lights ahead slowly changed until they
were almost in line with each other, and Marcy was sailor enough to know
what that meant. The steamer had caught sight of the _Hattie_, was
keeping watch of her, and had altered her course to intercept her. Marcy
began to tremble.

"I know how a prison looks when viewed from the outside," he said to
himself. "And unless something turns up in our favor, it will not be
many days before I shall know how one looks on the inside."

It was plain that his two companions were troubled by the same gloomy
thoughts, for he heard Beardsley say, in a husky voice:

"She ain't holding a course for nowhere, neither for the Indies nor the
Cape; she shifted her wheel when we did, and that proves that she's a
Yankee cruiser and nothing else. See any signs of a freshening
anywhere?"

"Nary freshening," replied the mate, with a hasty glance around the
horizon. "There ain't a cloud as big as your fist in sight."

Of course Beardsley used some heavy words--he always did when things did
not go to suit him--and then he said, as if he were almost on the point
of crying with vexation:

"It's too bad for them cowardly Yankees to come pirating around here
just at this time when we've got a big fortune in our hands. Them goods
we've got below is worth a cool hundred thousand dollars in Newbern, if
they're worth anything, and my commission will be somewhere in the
neighborhood of twenty-five per cent.; dog-gone it all. Can't we do
nothing to give her the slip? You ain't fitten to be a mate if you can't
give a word of advice in a case like this."

"And if I wanted to be sassy I might say that you ain't fit to command a
ship if you can't get her out of trouble when you get her into it. There
can't no advice be given that I can see, unless it be to chuck the cargo
over the side. I reckon that would be my way if I was master of the
_Hattie._

"But what good would that do?" exclaimed Beardsley. "Where are my
dockyments to prove that I am an honest trader? And even if I had some,
and the cargo was safe out of the hold and sunk to the bottom, I
couldn't say that I am in ballast, because I ain't got a pound of any
sort of ballast to show. Oh, I tell you we're gone coons, Morgan. Do the
Yankees put striped clothes on their prisoners when they shove 'em into
jail, I wonder?"

The mate, who had come to the wise conclusion that the only thing he
could do was to make the best of the situation, did not answer the
captain's last question. All he said was:

"If you dump the cargo overboard the Yankees won't get it!"

"But they'll get my schooner, won't they?" Beardsley almost shouted.
"And do you reckon that I'm going to give them Newbern fellows the
satisfaction of knowing that I saved their goods by sending them to the
bottom? Not by a great sight. If that cruiser gets my property she'll
get their'n, too. I don't reckon we'd have time to clear the hold
anyway."

Marcy Gray had thought so all along. The lights were coming up at a hand
gallop, and already they were much nearer than they seemed to be, for
the shape of the steamer could be made out by the unaided eye. When
Beardsley ceased speaking, the sound of a gong was clearly heard, and a
minute later the steamer blew her whistle.

"What did I tell you, Morgan?" whined the captain. "She's slowing up,
and that whistle means for us to show lights. The next thing we shall
see will be a small boat coming off. I hope the swell'll turn it upside
down and drown every mother's son of her crew that--On deck, there," he
shouted, in great consternation. "Get out lights, and be quick about it.
She'll be on top of us directly."

"She can see us as well without lights as she can with 'em," growled the
mate, as he backed down slowly from the crosstrees. "I don't care if she
cuts us down. I'd about as soon go to the bottom as to be shut up in a
Yankee prison."

Marcy Gray was almost as badly frightened as Beardsley seemed to be. The
steamer was dangerously near, and her behavior and the schooner's proved
the truth of what he had read somewhere, that "two vessels on the ocean
seemed to exercise a magnetic influence upon each other, so often do
collisions occur when it looks as though there might be room for all the
navies of the world to pass in review." So it was now. The two vessels
drifted toward each other, broadside on, and the breeze was so light
that the _Hattie_ was almost helpless; but the stranger was well
handled; her huge paddle wheels, which up to this moment had hung
motionless in the water, began to turn backward, and presently Marcy let
go his desperate clutch upon the stay to which he was clinging, and drew
a long breath of relief. Whatever else the cruiser might do to the
_Hattie_ she did not mean to send her to the bottom.

"Schooner ahoy!" came the hail.

"On board the steamer," answered Captain Beardsley, who had been allowed
a little leisure in which to recover his wits and courage.

"What schooner is that?"

"The _Hattie_ of New York," shouted Beardsley. "Homeward bound from
Havana with a cargo of sugar. Who are you?"

"The United States supply steamer _Adelaide._ What are you doing a
hundred miles eastward of your course, and showing no lights?" asked the
voice; and Marcy fully expected that the next words would be, "I'll send
a boat aboard of you."

"I'm afraid of privateers," was Beardsley's response. "I heered there
was some afloat, and I can't afford to fall in with any of 'em, kase
everything I've got on 'arth is this schooner. If I lose her I'm
teetotally ruined."

"Well, then, why don't you hold in toward Hatteras, where you will be
safe? There's a big fleet in there, and in a few days there'll be
more."

"You don't tell me! Much obleeged for the information! I will put that
way as fast as this breeze will take me. Seen anything suspicious? No?
Then good-by and farewell."

Beardsley shouted out some orders, the schooner filled away so as to
pass under the steamer's stern, and to Marcy's unbounded astonishment
she was permitted to go in peace. The stranger's gong sounded again, and
she also went on her way. There was scarcely a word spoken above a
whisper until her lights had disappeared; then the schooner's own
lanterns were hauled down, her head was turned to the point of the
compass toward which it had been directed when the steamer was first
discovered, and Captain Beardsley was himself again.

"By gum!" said he, striding up and down the deck, pausing now and then
to go through the undignified performance of shipping his mates on the
back.  "_By_ gum, I done it, didn't I! What sort of a Yankee do you
reckon I'd make, Marcy? I talked just like one--through the nose, you
know. Pretty good acting; don't you think so?"

"It was good enough to save the schooner," replied Marcy.

"And that was what I meant to do if I could. I wouldn't have give a
dollar for my chances of getting shet of that steamer till she began to
back away to keep from running us down, and then something told me that
I'd be all right if I put a bold face on the matter. And that's what I
done. Oh, I'm a sharp one, and it takes a better man than a Yankee to
get ahead of me. I was really much obliged to him for telling me of that
blockading fleet at Hatteras, for now I'll know better than to go nigh
that place. Hold the old course, Morgan, and that will take us out of
the way of coasters and cruisers, both. I'll go below and turn in for a
short nap."

"If I should follow this business until I am gray-headed I don't think I
should ever again have so narrow an escape," said Marcy to himself, as
he too went below to take a little needed rest. "Why, it seems like a
dream; and somehow I can hardly bring myself to believe it really
happened. If the Yankees talk the way Captain Beardsley did, all I can
say for them is that they are queer folks."

It seemed as though the schooner's crew could never get through talking
about their short interview with the supply steamer, for every one of
them had given up all hope of escape, and looked for nothing else but to
see an armed boat put off to test the truth of Captain Beardsley's
statements regarding the _Hattie_ and her cargo. The mate, Morgan, was
completely bewildered. He could not understand how a man who had showed
a disposition to cry when he saw his vessel in danger, could be so cool
and even impudent when the critical moment came.

In due time all thoughts of the enemy they had left astern gave way to
speculations concerning those they might find before them. The latitude
of Hatteras Inlet was thought to be particularly dangerous; but that was
passed in the night and Marcy breathed easily again, until Beardsley
began to take a slant in toward the shore, and then there was another
season of suspense. But the day drew to a close without bringing any
suspicious smoke or sail to add to their fears, and when darkness came
Crooked Inlet was not more than thirty miles away. If the strong and
favoring wind that then filled the schooner's sails held out, her keel
would be plowing the waters of the Sound by midnight or a little later,
and Captain Beardsley's commission would be safe. At least that was what
the latter told Marcy; and, while he talked, he jingled some keys in his
pocket with as much apparent satisfaction as though they were the
dollars he hoped to put there in a few days more. But the old saying
that there is many a slip came very near holding true in Beardsley's
case. The latter was so certain that he had left all danger behind him,
and that he had nothing more to do but sail in at his leisure and land
his cargo when he got ready, that he did not think it worth while to man
the crosstrees after nightfall; consequently there was no watchful
lookout to warn him of the suspicious looking object that moved slowly
out of the darkness a mile or so ahead, and waited for him to come up.
About eleven o'clock Marcy Gray strolled forward and climbed out upon
the bowsprit to see if he could discover any signs of the land, which,
according to his calculations, ought not to be far distant.

"I might as well be out here as anywhere else," he thought, pulling out
the night-glass, which he had taken the precaution to bring with him.
"Of course the skipper will run her through without any aid from me, as
he did before, and so--what in the world is that? Looks like a smooth
round rock; but I know it isn't, for there's nothing of that sort about
this Inlet."

Marcy took another look through the glass, then backed quickly but
noiselessly down from his perch and ran aft to the quarter-deck. The
captain was standing there joking with his mates, and congratulating
them and himself on the safe and profitable run the _Hattie_ had made;
and as Marcy came up he threw back his head and gave utterance to a
hoarse laugh, which, in the stillness of the night, could have been
heard half a mile away.

"Captain! Captain!" exclaimed Marcy, in great excitement, "for goodness'
sake don't do that again! Keep still! There's a ship's long boat filled
with men right ahead of us."

It seemed to Marcy that Beardsley wilted visibly when this astounding
piece of news was imparted to him. His hearty laugh was broken short off
in the middle, so to speak, and when turned so that the light from the
binnacle shone upon his face, Marcy saw that it was as white as a
sheet.

"No!" he managed to gasp.

"Why, boy, you're scared to death," said one of the mates, rather
contemptuously. "Where's the ship for the long boat to come from?"

"I don't know anything about that," answered Marcy hurriedly. "I only
tell you what I saw with my own eyes. Here's the glass. Captain. Go
for'ard and take a look for yourself."

The captain snatched the glass with almost frantic haste and ran toward
the bow, followed by the mates and all the rest of the crew, with the
exception of the man at the wheel. With trembling hands Beardsley raised
the binoculars, but almost immediately took them down again to say, in
frightened tones:

"For the first time in my life I have missed my reckoning. We're lost,
and the Yankee fleet may be within less than a mile of us. Take a look,
Morgan. I never saw that rock before."

"But I tell you it isn't a rock," protested Marcy. "It is a boat, and
she's lying head on so that she won't show as plainly as she would if
she lay broadside to us. Do you see those long black streaks on each
side? Those are oars, and they were in motion when I first saw them."

The mate was so long in making his observations that Marcy grew
impatient, and wondered at his stupidity. He could see without the aid
of a glass that it was a boat and nothing else; and more than that, the
schooner had by this time drawn so near her that he could make out two
suspicious objects in her bow--one he was sure was a howitzer, and the
other looked very like the upright, motionless figure of a blue-jacket,
awaiting the order from the officer in command to pull the lock-string.
An instant later a second figure arose, as if from the stern-sheets, and
the command came clear and distinct:

"Heave to, or we'll blow you out of the water!"

"Now I hope you are satisfied!" exclaimed Marcy.

He expected to see Beardsley wilt again; but he did nothing of the sort.
It required an emergency to bring out what there was in him, and when he
saw that he must act, he did it without an instant's hesitation.

"Lay aft, all hands!" was the order he gave. "Marcy, stand by to watch
the buoys in the Inlet. Morgan, go to the wheel and hold her just as she
is. Don't luff so much as a hair's breadth. We'll run them Yankees down.
It's our only chance."

"And a very slim one it is," thought Marcy, as he took the glass from
the mate's hand and directed it toward the point where he thought the
entrance of the Inlet ought to be. "The cruiser to which this boat
belongs can't be far away, and she will come up the minute she hears the
roar of the howitzer."

"Heave to, or we'll sink you!" came the order, in louder and more
emphatic tones.

"Starboard a spoke or two. Steady at that," said Beardsley, turning
about and addressing the man who had been stationed in the waist to pass
his commands. "Ten to one they'll miss us, but all the same I wish I
knew how heavy them guns of their'n is."

"They have but one," replied Marcy, wondering at the captain's coolness.
"Can't you see it there in the bow?"

"Well, if it's a twenty-four pounder, like them old ones of our'n, and
they hit us at the water-line, they'll tear a hole in us as big as a
barn door."

All this while the schooner had been bearing swiftly down upon the
launch, and when the officer in command of her began to see through
Beardsley's little plan, he at once proceeded to set in motion one of
his own that was calculated to defeat it. His howitzer was loaded with a
five-second shrapnel, and this he fired at the schooner at a point-blank
range of less than a hundred yards. He couldn't miss entirely at that
short distance, but the missile flew too high to hull the
blockade-runner. It struck the flying jib-boom, breaking it short off
and rendering that sail useless, glanced and splintered the rail close
by the spot where the captain and his pilot were standing, went
shrieking off over the water, and finally exploding an eighth of a mile
astern. The skipper and Marcy were both prostrated by a splinter six
feet long and four inches thick that was torn from the rail; but they
scrambled to their feet again almost as soon as they touched the deck,
and when they looked ahead, fully expecting to find the launch under the
schooner's fore-foot and on the point of being run down, they saw an
astonishing as well as a most discouraging sight. The boat was farther
away than she was before, and her whole length could be seen now, for
not only was she broadside on, but the darkness above and around her,
which had hitherto rendered her shape and size somewhat indistinct, was
lighted up by a bright glare that shot up from somewhere amidships, and
the sound of escaping steam could be plainly heard.

              [Illustration: CAPTAIN BEARDSLEY SURPRISED.]

"Oh, my shoulder! Dog-gone it all, my shoulder!" cried Beardsley,
placing the instep of his left foot behind his right knee and hopping
about as if it were the lower portion of his anatomy that had been
injured instead of the upper. "She's got a steam ingine aboard of her,
and them oars of her'n was only meant for snooping up and down the coast
quiet and still' so't nobody couldn't hear 'em. We're gone this time,
Morgan; and I tell you that for a fact!"

The moment Marcy Gray recovered his feet he made an effort to pick up
the glass that had fallen from his grasp, but to his surprise, his left
hand refused to obey his will. When he made a second attempt, he found
that he could not move his hand at all unless he raised his arm at the
shoulder. He was not conscious of much pain, although he afterward said
that his arm felt a good deal as it did when Dick Graham accidentally
hit his biceps with a swiftly pitched ball. But his right hand was all
right, and with it he snatched up the glass and levied it at the Inlet,
which to his great delight he could plainly see straight ahead.

"Mind what you are about, Captain," said he, as soon as he could induce
the man to stand still and listen to him. "That first buoy is a black
one, and you want to leave it to port. If you keep on as you are holding
now you will leave it to starboard, and that will run you hard and fast
aground."

"Don't make much odds which way we go," whined Beardsley, holding fast
to his elbow with one hand and to his shoulder with the other. "Just
look what them Yankees is a doing!"

The captain became utterly disheartened when he saw that his plan for
sinking the launch and making good his escape into the Inlet was going
to end in failure, and Marcy did not blame him for it. The officer in
command of the small boat, whoever he might be, was a determined and
active fellow; his crew were picked men; his little craft was a
"trotter," and he knew how to handle both of them. He had been sent out
by one of the blockading squadron to patrol the coast and watch for just
such vessels as the _Hattie_ was, and although he had steam up all the
while, he used his twenty-four muffled oars, twelve on a side, as his
motive power; and this enabled him to slip along the coast without
making the least sound to betray his presence. As luck would have it, he
had not discovered Crooked Inlet. If he had, he would have lifted the
buoys, and it might have led to extra watchfulness on the part of the
blockading fleet. But he had discovered the _Hattie_ and his actions
proved that he did not mean to let her escape if he could help it.



                              CHAPTER VII.

                        THE MATE'S LUCKY SHOT.

"Just look what them Yankees is a doing now," repeated Captain
Beardsley; and when Marcy turned his eyes from the warning buoy to the
launch, he saw that the latter was scuttling rapidly out of harm's way;
that her bow was swinging around so that she would pass by within less
than a hundred feet of the schooner; that the oars had been dropped
overboard, and were dragging alongside by the lanyards that were
fastened to them; that some of the crew had arisen to their feet and
stood facing the _Hattie_; and that the rest were busy with the howitzer
in the bow.

"Heave to, or we'll cut you all to pieces!" shouted the officer in
command; and Marcy could see him plainly now, for he stood erect in the
stern-sheets with a boat-cloak around him. "We'll send canister and
rifle balls into you next time, and they'll come so thick that they
won't leave so much as a ratline of you. Heave to, I say!"

At this juncture a rifle or pistol shot, Marcy could not tell which it
was, sounded from the schooner's quarter-deck, and the plucky officer
was seen to throw his hands above his head, grasp wildly at the empty
air for a moment, and then disappear over the side of the launch. In an
instant all was confusion among the blue-jackets. The coxswain, who of
course was left in command, shouted to the engineer to shut off steam,
to the crew to drop their muskets and pick up their oars, and to the
captain of the howitzer to cut loose with his load of canister.

"Lay down, everybody," cried Beardsley, who plainly heard all these
orders; and suiting the action to the word, he quickly stretched himself
upon the deck. Marcy had barely time to follow his example before the
howitzer roared again, and the canister rattled through the rigging like
hail, tearing holes in the canvas, splintering a mast here and a boom
there, but never cutting a stay or halliard. If a topmast had gone by
the board, or a sail come down by the run, the schooner would have been
quite at the mercy of the launch; for the latter could have carried her
by boarding, or taken a position astern and peppered the _Hattie_ with
shrapnel until Captain Beardsley would have been glad to surrender. The
captain did not see how his vessel could escape being crippled, and he
would have surrendered then and there if any one in the launch had
called upon him to do so; but when he got upon his feet and saw that
every rope held, and that the schooner was just on the point of entering
her haven of refuge, he took heart again.

"Marcy, go aft and tell Morgan that that buoy ahead is a black one,"
said he, as soon as he had taken time to recover his wits. "Lay for'ard
some of us and cut away this useless canvas. The _Hattie_ ain't catched
yet, doggone it all. I tell you, lads, it takes somebody besides a
plodding, dollar-loving Yankee to get to windward of Lon Beardsley."

"The captain desired me to remind you that that buoy is a black one, and
you want to leave it to port," said Marcy, taking his stand beside the
man at the wheel. "Who fired that shot? It came from this end of the
vessel."

"The second mate fired it," replied Morgan, "and he done it just in the
nick of time. The killing of that officer was all that saved our
bacon."

"Oh, I hope he wasn't killed!" exclaimed Marcy.

"You do, hey? Well, I don't. I'd like to see the last blockader on this
coast tumbled into the drink in the same way. What did the old man say
about it?"

"Not a word. I think he was too surprised to say anything."

"Was anybody hurt by that shell?" continued Morgan. "I seen the jib
flying in the wind and the rail ripped up, and you and the old man was
standing right there."

"Something or other knocked both of us flatter than pancakes," answered
Marcy. "The captain must have been hit all over; but I was struck only
on the arm, and I don't seem to have much use of it any more."

"You can go forward and lookout for the buoys, can't you? All right.
Sing out when ever you see one, and I will stay here and take her
through while the cap'n gets that headsail out of the way."

Before obeying this order Marcy stopped long enough to level the glass
toward the place where he supposed the launch to be. Having worked the
water out of the cylinders the engineer had shut off the stop-cocks so
that she could not be heard, and as there was no flame shooting out of
her smoke-stack, she could not be seen; but she was still on top of the
water, and eager to do mischief. While Marcy was moving his glass around
trying to locate her, the howitzer spoke again; but as the schooner took
the wind free after rounding the first buoy, her course was changed, so
that the shell passed behind her, and exploded far ahead and to the
right.

"You've got your wish," said Morgan. "That shot means that they have
picked up their cap'n, and that he's as full of fight as ever. Well, let
him bang away, if he wants to. He can't hurt the sand-hills, and this
channel is so crooked that he won't hit us except by accident."

"But he will follow in our wake, won't he?"

"Who cares if he does so long as he don't sight us? We'll dodge him easy
enough after we get into the Sound. Now toddle for'ard and look out for
me."

["It's an ill wind that blows nobody good," thought the boy, as he
leaned his uninjured arm upon the splintered rail and brought the glass
to his eye. "This night's work will put an end to the _Hattie's_
blockade-running. If that fellow astern don't catch us, he will surely
find and pull up the buoys, and then we can't follow the channel except
by sending a boat on ahead with a lead-line. That might do when we were
going out, but it wouldn't work running in if there was an enemy close
behind us. Another thing, this Inlet will be watched in future. Now you
mark my words."] "Red buoy on the starboard bow," he called out to the
man at the wheel.

Morgan repeated the words to show that he understood them, and just then
Beardsley came up, having seen the useless jib brought on deck and
stowed away.

"Be careful and make no mistake, Marcy," said he. "It's a matter of life
and death with us now--and money."

"I can call off the color of every buoy between here and the Sound,"
replied the pilot confidently. "I took particular pains to remember the
order in which they were put out. Where are you hurt, Captain?" he
added, seeing that the man had let go of his shoulder and was now
holding fast to both elbows.

"I'm hurt in every place; that's where I am hurt," said Beardsley,
looking savagely at Marcy, as if the latter was to blame for it.
"Something hit me ker-whallop on this side, and the deck took me
ker-chunk on the other; and I'll bet there ain't a spot on ary side as
big as an inch where I ain't black and blue. You wasn't touched, was
you? But I thought I seen you come down when I did."

"I went down fast enough," answered Marcy. "I bumped my head pretty
heavily on the deck, but the worst hurt I got was right here. And I
declare, there's a bunch that don't belong to me. Is it a fracture of
the humerus, I wonder?"

"A which?" exclaimed the puzzled captain.

"I really believe the bone of my upper arm is broken," replied Marcy,
feeling of the bunch to which he had referred. "It doesn't hurt much
except when I touch it. It only feels numb."

Just then the howitzer spoke again, and another shrapnel flew wide of
the schooner and burst among the sand dunes. Another and another
followed at short intervals, and then the firing ceased. The launch had
given it up as a bad job; the pursuit was over and Marcy and the captain
were the only ones injured.

"She has either run hard and fast aground, or else she is amusing
herself with them buoys of our'n," said Beardsley, when he became
satisfied that the launch was no longer following in the schooner's
wake. "Now, where's that good-looking son of mine who fired the lucky
shot that tumbled that Yankee officer overboard? Whoever he is, I'll
double his wages. He ought to have it, for he saved the vessel and her
cargo. Let him show up."

The second mate obeyed the order, exhibiting the revolver that had fired
the shot, and the captain complimented him in no measured terms. Marcy
could not help acknowledging to himself that their escape was owing
entirely to the prompt action the mate had taken without waiting for
orders; but all the same he was sorry for that Federal officer.

Less than an hour's run sufficed to take the schooner out of the Inlet
and into the Sound, and when Beardsley had given out the course and seen
the sails trimmed to suit it, he went into his cabin, from which he
presently issued to pass the word for Marcy Gray. When the boy descended
the ladder he found the first mate and two foremast hands there besides
the captain; and on the table he saw two pieces of thin board, and
several strips of cloth that had evidently been torn up for bandages. He
noticed, too, that the atmosphere was filled with the odor of liniment.

"What are you going to do?" he asked, in some alarm.

"We're going to set that--that--what-do-you-call-it of your'n," replied
the captain cheerfully. The name that Marcy had given to the bone of his
upper arm was too much for Mm. He could not remember it.

The boy knew that all sea captains have more or less knowledge of
medicine and surgery. It is necessary that they should have, for sailors
are often seized with illness, or meet with serious accidents when their
ship is at sea, and so far from a doctor that without immediate aid from
some source they would surely lose their lives. Marcy had read of a
whaling captain, one of whose men was jerked overboard from his boat by
a wounded whale, dragged for six hundred feet or more through the water
with frightful speed, and who was finally released by his leg giving way
to the strain. The captain saw that that leg must be attended to or the
man would die. His crew were too badly frightened to help him, so he
amputated the injured member himself; and all the surgical instruments
his ship afforded were a carving-knife, a carpenter's saw, and a
fish-hook. But he saved the man's life. Marcy thought of this and
shuddered at the thought of submitting himself to Beardsley's rude
surgery.

"I believe I would rather wait until we get to Newbern," said he
doubtfully.

"Why, man alive, we may not see port for a week," answered the captain.
"How do we know but what there are a dozen or more steam launches, like
the one we've just left astern, loafing about in the Sound waiting for
us? If there are, we'll have to get shet of 'em somehow, and that will
take time. If we don't 'tend to your arm now, it may be so bad when the
doctor sees it that he can't do nothing with it without half killing of
you. Take off his coat and vest, men; and Morgan, you roll up his
sleeve. There is folks around home who think you are for the Union, and
that you ain't secesh, even if you do belong to my vessel. If you run
foul of one of 'em while you are gone on your furlong, just point to
your arm and tell him to hold his yawp."

"Are you going to give me a leave of absence?" asked Marcy, who was so
delighted at the thought that he could scarcely keep from showing it.

"I reckon I'll have to. I ain't got no use for a one-handed man; but
I'll keep your place open for you, never fear. Just see that, now. Ain't
that a pretty looking arm for a white boy to carry around with him? It
makes me hate them Yankees wusser'n I did before."

The wounded arm was already becoming inflamed, and it was painful, too;
and although Beardsley's assistants were as careful as they could be,
Marcy winced while they were helping him off with his coat and vest and
rolling up his sleeve. When this had been done one of the men, in
obedience to a slight nod from the captain, seized Marcy around the
chest under his arms, the mate by a movement equally quick grasped his
left wrist, and both began pulling in opposite directions with all their
strength, while Beardsley passed his huge rough hands up and down over
the "bunch" until he was satisfied that the protruding bone had been
pulled back to its place. The operation was a painful one, and the only
thing that kept Marcy from crying out was the remembrance of Beardsley's
words "I ain't got no use for a one-handed man." That broken arm would
bring him a furlough.

"There, now; that'll do. 'Vast heaving," said the captain, at length.
"Put some of the stuff in that bottle on one of them bandages and hand
it over here. Pretty rough way of getting to go home, but better than
none at all, and I reckon your maw will be just as glad to see you as
she would if you had two good arms. Don't you reckon she will?"

After his arm had been bandaged and placed in a sling, Marcy was quite
willing to go into the forecastle and lie down in his bunk; and there he
stayed until the schooner entered the Neuse River and a tug came
alongside to tow her up to the city. This time there were plenty of
cheers to welcome her, the first coming from the working parties who
were building the fortifications, and the next from the soldiers and
loafers who were assembled upon the wharf to which she was made fast,
and who howled themselves hoarse when they caught sight of the holes in
her sails, her broken bowsprit, and her splintered rail.

"I see that blockade running has its dangers as well as privateering,"
said Beardsley's agent, as he sprang over the rail and seized the
captain's hand. "The _Hattie_ is cut up pretty badly, but the _Osprey_
was never touched. Been in a fight?"

"Well, no, not much of a fight, because we uns didn't have nothing to
fight with. But the schooner ran through a pretty tol'able heavy fire, I
tell you."

It was all over now, and Beardsley could afford to treat the matter with
indifference; but Marcy remembered that when that splinter knocked him
down, the captain was the worst frightened man in the crew. However,
Beardsley was not as badly hurt as he thought he was. When he came to
make an examination of his injuries, all he could find was a black and
blue spot on one of his shoulders that was about half as large as his
hand; but he made more fuss over that than Marcy Gray did over his
broken arm.

"Anybody shot?" continued the agent.

"Well, yes; two of us got touched a little, but not enough to growl
over. You see it was this-a-way----"

"I suppose I may go ashore now and hunt up a surgeon, may I not?" Marcy
interposed.

He thought from the way Beardsley settled himself against the rail that
he was preparing for a long talk with the agent, and that it would be a
good plan to have his own affairs settled before the captain became too
deeply interested in his narrative to listen to him. There was little to
detain him in Newbern. On the way up the river Beardsley had given him a
written leave of absence for ninety days, and a check on the bank for
his money; and all he had to do besides presenting that check was to
have his arm examined by a surgeon.

"Of course you can go," replied Beardsley. "And if I don't see you when
you come back for your dunnage, don't forget them little messages I give
you for the folks at home, nor them letters; and bear in mind that I
want you back as soon as ever you can get well."

Marcy promised to remember it all, and the captain went on to say:

"He's the bravest lad that ever stepped in shoe leather. When them
Yankees sent that shell into us and knocked him and me down and smashed
his arm all to flinders, he stood in the bow and piloted us through
Crooked Inlet as slick as falling off a log; and there was his arm
broken all the while, and hanging by his side as limp as a piece of wet
rope. Oh, he's a good one, and I don't for the life of me see how I am
going to get on without him. I've said as much in them letters I wrote
to the folks to home."

Under almost any other circumstances Marcy Gray would have been
disgusted; but as it was, he was quite willing that Beardsley should
talk about him in this strain as often as he felt like it.

"Perhaps it will help me with those secret enemies at home," he said to
himself, as he stepped upon the wharf and forced his way slowly through
the crowd, not, however, without being compelled to shake hands with a
dozen or more who wanted to know when and where he got hurt and who did
it, and all about it. "I should really like to see the inside of the
letters the captain gave me to hand to Shelby and the rest. I wonder if
he thinks I am foolish enough to open and read them? He'll not trap me
that way; but I wouldn't trust any letters to him that I didn't want him
to read, I bet you."

Arriving at a drug store which bore the name of a medical man upon one
of its doorposts, Marcy entered and asked where he could find somebody
to tell him whether or not his broken arm had been properly set and
cared for.

"Step right this way, and I will tell you in less than five minutes,"
said the man who stood behind the counter. "How did you break it?"

"I was knocked down," replied Marcy.

"Who knocked you down?"

"A Yankee!"

"Heyday! Bull Run?"

"No, sir; Crooked Inlet."

"Well, I thought you looked like a seafaring man. What vessel do you
belong to?"

"The blockade-runner _Hattie._ She used to be the privateer _Osprey._"

"Were you one of the brave fellows who captured the _Mary Hollins_?"
exclaimed the surgeon, giving Marcy a look of admiration. "It was a
gallant deed."

"I was there when she was taken," answered the boy, while the doctor was
helping him off with his coat. "Do you know what become of her crew?"

"They were paroled and sent North long ago. We didn't want such folks
among us."

"But they are not prisoners of war."

"That doesn't matter. They had to promise that they would not take up
arms against us until they were regularly exchanged; and if they do, and
we find it out, they will stand a fine chance of being strung up. You've
got a pretty good surgeon aboard your ship, and he has made a good job
of this. I wonder if I know him. Is he a Newbern man?"

"No, sir; he hails from up toward Plymouth. And he isn't a doctor,
either. He's the captain."

"Oh, ah!" said the surgeon, who was very much surprised to hear it. "I
see, now that I come to look at it closely, that it is not quite as
straight as I thought it was. It sticks out a little on this side, and
your arm will always be more or less crooked. It is unfortunate that you
did not have a surgeon aboard; but we will have to let it go."

"Of course I can't do duty with one hand," said Marcy, "and so the
captain has given me leave to go home for awhile. I can travel on the
cars, I suppose?"

"There's nothing in the world to hinder it," replied the medical man,
who seemed on a sudden to have lost all interest in Marcy and his
injured arm. "I will do it up again and give you a little medicine, and
you will get along all right. It's a mere trifle."

When Marcy asked what his bill was, he told himself that he made a
mistake when he said it was the captain and not a doctor who set his
arm, for the surgeon charged him a good round price for his trouble, as
well as for the little bottle of tonic he wrapped up for him; and when
he went to the telegraph office, the operator who sent off a dispatch to
his mother made no distinction between him and a citizen. The dispatch
ran as follows:

Arrived from Nassau this morning with a valuable cargo after a running
fight with the Yankees. Had two men slightly injured. Will leave for
Boydtown by first train.

"After mother reads that she will not be so very much shocked when she
sees me with my arm in a sling," was what he told himself as he passed
the dispatch over to the operator.

"Did you have a tight with one of the blockaders?" asked the latter
carelessly. He had become accustomed to the sight of wounded men since
the battle of Bull Run was fought, and did not take a second look at
Marcy.

"It wasn't much of a fight, seeing that there was but one shot fired on
our side," answered the pilot. "But that one shot was what brought us
through. It wasn't a blockader, either, but a launch; and if you want to
see what she did to us, step down to the wharf and take a look at the
_Hattie_. One more round of canister would have made a wreck of us."

"And you happened to be one of the two who were wounded, I reckon," said
the operator. "Fifty cents, please."

"The last time I sent off a dispatch from here you did not tax me a cent
for it," Marcy reminded him. "Is your patriotism on the wane?"

"Not much; but you couldn't expect us to keep up that thank-ye business
forever, could you? How would we run the line if we did? We think as
much of the brave boys who are standing between us and Lincoln's
Abolitionists as we ever did; but it takes the hard cash to pay
operators and buy poles and wires."

Marcy had no trouble in getting his check cashed, and when he went back
to the schooner after his valise and bundles, he had twenty-one hundred
dollars in his pocket. But there were seventeen hundred dollars of it
that did not belong to him. He was only keeping it until he could have
opportunity to return it to the master of the _Mary Hollins._ He found
that Captain Beardsley had gone ashore with his agent, and as Marcy had
already said good-bye to him, it was not necessary that he should waste
any valuable time in hunting him up. He took a hasty leave of his
shipmates, hired a darkey to carry his luggage to the depot, and was in
time to purchase his ticket for a train that was on the point of leaving
for Goldsborough. He had hardly settled himself in his seat before he
became aware that nearly all the passengers in the car were looking at
him, and finally one of them came and seated himself by his side.

"You are not in uniform," said the passenger, "but all the same I take
it for granted that it was the Yankees who put your arm in a sling."

"Yes, sir; they did it," answered Marcy.

"Well, now, I want to know if it's a fact that the Yankees outnumbered
us two to one in that fight," continued the man.

"You refer to the battle of Bull Run, I suppose. I don't know. I wasn't
there, and I don't hesitate to say that I am glad of it. One howitzer is
as much as I care to face. I got this hurt while coming into Crooked
Inlet on the schooner _Hattie_. She's a blockade-runner."

"Oh! well, if there's going to be a war, as some people seem to think,
you blockade-runners will be of quite as much use to the Confederacy as
the soldiers. We shall be dependent upon foreign governments for many
things that we used to get from the North, and men like you will have to
supply us. Was it much of a fight?"

Marcy briefly related the story, and when it was finished the man went
back to his old seat; but during the journey the young pilot was obliged
to tell more than a score of people that he was not present at the
battle of Bull Run, and consequently could not have got his injury
there. He kept his ears open all the way, and was gratified to learn
that the Confederates had not followed up their victory, that they were
not in Washington, and that there was no reason to suppose that they had
any intention of going there immediately; and he thought he knew the
reason why, when he heard one of the passengers say that a few more
victories like Bull Run would ruin the Confederacy.

At an early hour the next morning Marcy stepped off the train at Boyd
town and found Morris waiting for him. That faithful servitor's eyes
grew to twice their usual dimensions when he saw his young master with
his arm in a sling, and without waiting to learn the extent of his
injuries, he broke out into loud lamentations, and railed at the Yankees
in such a way that the by-standers were led to believe that old Morris
was the best kind of a rebel.

"The Missus done tole me two men shot on the _Hattie_ and las' night I
dreamed you one of 'em," said he.

"Silence!" whispered Marcy angrily; "can't you see that you are drawing
the attention of all the people on the platform by your loud talking? I
wasn't shot, either. Come to the carriage and I will tell you all about
it."

Even after Morris had been assured that the young pilot had merely been
knocked down by a splinter, Marcy didn't tell him that that "splinter"
weighed between fifteen and twenty pounds, for he knew it would get to
his mother's ears if he did; and that his injuries were by no means
serious; the old slave was not satisfied, but continued to scold and
fume at such a rate that Marcy was glad when the carriage whirled
through the gate and drew up at the steps, at the top of which his
mother stood waiting to receive him.

"Da' he is, Missus; but the Yankees done kill him," exclaimed Morris,
opening and shutting the carriage door with a bang, as if he hoped in
that way to work off some of his excitement.



                             CHAPTER VIII.

                        A NOISE AT THE WINDOW.

Mrs. Gray's countenance grew white with alarm. She flew down the steps,
and throwing both her arms about her son's neck, hid her face on his
shoulder and sobbed violently. Marcy put his uninjured arm around her,
and his mother leaned so heavily upon it that the boy thought she was
going to faint.

"Now see what you have done, you black rascal, by wagging your tongue so
freely," said Marcy angrily. "I've the best notion in the world to have
you sent to the field."

"But, moster," protested the frightened coachman, "de Yankees did
shoot----"

"Hold your tongue! If you lisp another word I will have you sent to the
overseer as sure as you are a living darkey. Now take those things out
of the carriage and put them in my room; and when you have done that, go
off somewhere and spend an hour or two every day telling the truth, so
that you will get used to it. Come into the house," he added gently,
leading his mother up the steps, "and I will tell you all about it. I
wasn't shot. I was struck by a splinter."

"Oh, Marcy," sobbed Mrs. Gray, "your face tells a different story. You
have suffered--you are suffering now; and there isn't a particle of
color in your cheeks. Don't try to deceive me, for I must know the worst
sooner or later."

"I am not trying to deceive you," answered Marcy, although he _was_
trying to break the disagreeable news as gently as he could. "I was
knocked down by a splinter and my arm was broken."

"There now," began his mother.

"But it's all right," Marcy hastened to add. "Beardsley set the bone in
less than three hours after it was broken, and the surgeon I consulted
in Newbern said he made a good job of it. I don't know what you think
about it, but I am not sorry it happened."

"Oh, Marcy! why do you say that?"

"Because it gave me a chance to come home. To tell you the truth,
blockade running is getting to be a dangerous business. We had four
narrow escapes this trip. Beardsley's impudence and a Union captain's
simplicity brought us out of the first scrape, a storm came to our aid
in the second, sheer good luck and a favoring breeze saved us in the
third, and a shot from the second mate's revolver brought us out of the
fourth. We are liable to fall into the hands of the cruisers any day;
and suppose I had been captured and thrown into a Northern prison! You
might not have seen me again for a year or two; perhaps longer. Bring
those bundles in here and take the valise upstairs," he added to the
coachman, who just then passed along the hall with Marcy's luggage in
his hands. "Open that bundle, mother. You need not be ashamed to wear
those dresses, for they were bought in Nassau with honest money--money
that I earned by doing duty as a foremast hand. I didn't pay any duty on
them because no one asked me for it. And in fact I don't know whether
there is a custom-house in Newbern or not. The box in the other bundle
contains nothing but bottles of quinine."

"What induced you to get so much?" asked Mrs. Gray, who had wiped away
her tears and was trying to look cheerful again.

"Captain Beardsley first called my attention to the fact that medicine
had gone up in price, and I saw by a paper I got in Nassau that the
rebels are already smuggling quinine across the Potomac," answered
Marcy. "There's a good deal of ague about here, and we'd be in a pretty
fix if we should all get down with it, and no medicine in the house to
help us out." Here he got up and drew his chair closer to his mother's
side, adding in a whisper, "I've twenty-one hundred dollars in gold in
my valise, lacking what I paid for my railroad ticket, and nearly four
hundred dollars of it belongs to me. The rest belongs to the captain of
the _Hollins._"

"Do you still cling to the hope that you will some day meet him again?"
asked his mother.

"I know it will be like hunting for a needle in a haystack, but if I
don't find him I shall have the satisfaction of knowing that I tried to,
and that I haven't spent any of his money. I'll keep it locked in my
trunk until my arm gets so that I can handle a spade, and then I'll hide
it in one of the flower beds. Now, how is everything about home? Has
Kelsey shown his ugly face here since I went away, or have you heard
anything from those 'secret enemies' that Wat Gifford spoke of? How has
Hanson behaved himself?"

Mrs. Gray's report was so satisfactory that Marcy was put quite at his
ease. She had had nothing to worry over, she told him, except, of
course, his absence and Jack's, and if she had not received so many
warnings she would not have suspected that there were such things as
secret enemies around her. But she had relaxed none of her vigilance,
and was always on her guard when any of the neighbors came to see her.
It was a dreadful way to live, but there was no help for it.

By the time Marcy had removed some of the stains of travel from his face
and clothing, supper was announced; and as he had to talk about
something during the meal, he entertained his mother with a minute
description of the exciting incidents that happened during the
_Hattie's_ homeward run. He could talk of these things in his ordinary
tone of voice, and he did not care who overheard him. More than that, he
was satisfied that every word he uttered in the presence of the girl who
waited at table would go straight to Hanson's ears, and he was really
talking for Hanson's benefit. He retired at an early hour, after his arm
had been bathed and bandaged again (his mother could not keep back her
tears when she saw how inflamed and angry it looked), and left his lamp
burning, as he had done every night since his friend Gifford dropped
that hint about a visit from an organized band of 'longshoremen. Before
he got into bed he unlocked his valise and took from it two things that
his mother knew nothing about,--a brace of heavy revolvers,--which he
placed where he could get his hands upon them at a moment's warning.
"Thank goodness the old flag is above me once more, and not that
secession rag that Beardsley seems to be so proud of," thought Marcy, as
he pounded his pillow into shape and drew the quilts over his shoulders.
"If Colonel Shelby and the rest knew that there are two Union flags
somewhere among these bedclothes, how long do you suppose this house
would stand? If those men are such good rebels, I can't for the life of
me understand why they don't go into the service, instead of staying at
home and making trouble for their neighbors. I should think they would
be ashamed of themselves."

There were plenty of such men all over the South, and Marcy Gray was not
the only one who wondered why they did not hasten to the front, seeing
that they were so very hostile to the Yankees and their sympathizers,
and professed so much zeal for the cause of Southern independence. His
cousin Rodney often asked himself the same question while Dick Graham
was staying at his father's house, waiting for a chance to get across
the Mississippi River. Tom Randolph, who could not forget that Captain
Hubbard's Rangers had refused to give him the office he wanted, was
Rodney's evil genius. Although Tom became in time commander of a small
company of Home Guards, he could be for the old flag or against it, as
circumstances seemed to require. When the Union forces took possession
of Baton Rouge and the gunboats anchored in front of the city, Randolph
sent more than one squad of Yankee cavalry to search Mr. Gray's house
for firearms, and took measures to keep Rodney, Dick Graham, and the
other discharged Confederates in constant trouble; but when General
Breckenridge and his army appeared, and it began to look as though the
rebels were about to drive the Union forces out and take possession of
Baton Rouge and the surrounding country, Tom Randolph gave his scouts
the names of all the Union men in Mooreville and vicinity, and of course
they did not escape persecution. But Tom, sly as he was, could not play
a double part forever. His sin found him out and his punishment came
close upon the heels of it. We shall tell all about it in its proper
place.

Having no watch to stand on this particular night, and having no fear of
capture by cruisers or a fight with armed steam launches, Marcy soon
fell asleep, to be awakened about midnight by a sound that sent the cold
chills all over him. He could not have told just what it was, but all
the same it frightened him. He sat up in bed and pulled one of his
revolvers from under his pillow. He listened intently, and in a few
seconds the sound was repeated. Then he knew that it was made by a
pebble which some one in the yard below had tossed against his window.
It was a signal of some sort, but who made it, and why should the
visitor, whoever he might be, seek to arouse him without disturbing his
mother?

"By gracious!" thought Marcy, resting his revolver on his knee with the
muzzle turned toward the window, as if he half expected to see some one
try to force an entrance there. "What can it mean! It may be a dangerous
piece of business to draw the curtain and open that window, for how do I
know but that there's somebody below waiting for a chance to pop me
over? How do I know but those 'longshoremen have come up----"

When this thought passed through the boy's mind his fear gave place to
indignation; and hesitating no longer he threw off the bedclothes and
advanced toward the window, just as another pebble rattled against it.
He dashed the curtain aside, threw up the sash, and thrust his head and
his revolver out of the window. The night was so dark that he could not
see a thing except the dark sky and the darker shadows of the trees
against it.

"Who's there?" he demanded. "Speak quick."

    "The despot's heel is on thy shore;
     His torch is at thy temple door.
     Avenge the patriotic gore
     That flecks the streets of Baltimore
     And be the battle queen of yore--
                   Maryland! my Maryland!"

That was the answer he received to his challenge. It was given in a
voice that he had never heard before, and Marcy was so utterly amazed
that he could not interrupt the speaker, or say a word himself when the
verse was concluded. It was part of a rebel song that had recently
become very popular in Baltimore, but it had not yet reached North
Carolina. For only an instant, however, did Marcy stand motionless and
speechless, and then he pointed his weapon in the direction from which
the voice sounded, saying in steady tones:

"If you don't give me an answer that I can understand, I'll cut loose.
Who are you?"

"I am a homeless, friendless smuggler," replied the voice; and at the
same instant a familiar bark, followed by an impatient whine, told the
astonished Marcy that his faithful watchman, Bose, was under the window
with the stranger. The unexpected discovery made every nerve in his body
tingle with excitement, and his next words were uttered in a husky and
indistinct tone.

"Jack!" he exclaimed. "Oh, Jack! Is that you?"

"It's I," answered the visitor, speaking in his natural voice this time.
"I'm here safe and sound, and none the worse for having been a prisoner
in the hands of that pirate, Captain Semmes."

"Go round to the front door and I will be right down," said Marcy, in
suppressed tones. He could not imagine why his brother should make his
presence known in this guarded way instead of boldly demanding
admittance at the door, but he knew that there was some reason for it
and conducted himself accordingly. He moved about his room very quietly
while he dressed himself as well as he could with only one hand to work
with, and then he caught up the lamp, hurried downstairs and made his
way to his mother's room. His low tap met with an instant response.

"Oh, mother," exclaimed Marcy, "Jack's come home, and he's Union."

"Of course he is for the Union," answered Mrs. Gray calmly, although she
was almost as highly excited as Marcy was. "I have never thought of him
as being a rebel."

"The rebels had him prisoner," added Marcy; and with this bit of news to
add to his mother's excitement, the boy ran to the front door. The
moment he opened it a stalwart young fellow sprang upon the threshold
with his arms spread out; but he stopped suddenly when his eyes fell
upon Marcy's white face and upon the sling in which he carried his left
hand.

"What's happened to you?" he demanded, as soon as he could speak.

"I got that while helping Captain Beardsley run a cargo of contraband
goods through Crooked Inlet," replied Marcy, laughing at the expression
of surprise and disgust that came upon the young sailor's bronzed face
as he listened to the words. "First I was a privateer and now I am a
blockade-runner."

"There must be some good reason for it, because I know as well as you do
that you do not belong on that side of the house," said the returned
wanderer, closing and locking the door after beckoning to Bose, who was
never permitted to enter the house except upon extraordinary occasions.
"I had a fine chance to become a rebel pirate. When the prize-master who
was put aboard of us after we were captured, found that I was from a
seceded State, he promised if I would ship on the _Sumter_ to ask
Captain Semmes----"

Just at this point the young sailor looked over his brother's shoulder
and saw his mother coming along the hall. A second later he held her
clasped in his arms. She looked very small and frail while standing
beside that tall, broad-shouldered son, who was as fine a specimen of an
American sailor as could be found anywhere outside of New England.
Although he was but three years older than Marcy, who was by no means a
puny fellow, he stood head and shoulders above him, and was built like a
young Hercules. It was little wonder that Mrs. Gray and Marcy had
awaited his coming with the greatest anxiety and impatience, or that the
former should say to himself: "From this time on I can sleep in peace.
Jack's got home and mother's property is safe."

"Now that you have got through saying 'hallo,' I'd like to have you tell
me why you came home like a thief in the night instead of knocking at
the door," said Marcy. "I don't know when I have been so frightened."

"Aha! That shows that I did not make a mistake in going to so much
trouble to be on the safe side. You are afraid of the neighbors, are
you? I read the papers when I could get them, and among other things I
learned that the South is divided against itself, and that few men know
for certain who their friends are. Let's go somewhere and sit down."

Jack led his mother into the sitting-room. Marcy following with the
lamp, and taking care to see that all the doors were closed before he
seated himself.

"I should judge from your actions, Marcy, that this family is divided
against itself, and that you are afraid to trust the servants," said
Jack. "If that's the case, the papers told the truth. Now tell me how
you got that bad arm. Were you shot?"

Marcy did not spend much time on his story, for he was impatient to
learn when and where his brother had been captured, and how he had
managed to escape after a prize crew had been thrown aboard his vessel.
He simply told of his experience in the blockade-runner _Hattie_,
leaving his exploits in the _Osprey_ to be narrated at some future
time.

"I am glad the _Hattie_ got through the blockade all right seeing that
you were aboard of her," said Jack, when Marcy brought his story to a
close. "But if Uncle Sam doesn't do something to break up
blockade-running, he'll have a war on his hands that will make him open
his eyes. It will not take me five minutes to tell my story. I was a
prisoner not more than twelve hours, and during that time not the first
exciting thing happened. If it hadn't been for the fact that there was a
strange officer in command of the brig, and that our old man was walking
around with his hands in his pockets, saying nothing, we wouldn't have
known that we were prisoners at all."

With this introduction the returned sailor settled into an easy position
among the sofa pillows and related his experience very nearly as
follows, with this exception: He quite forgot to say that he was the one
who first conceived the idea of taking the _Sabine_ out of the hands of
the prize crew that Semmes had placed aboard of her, and that, if it had
not been for his courage and prompt action, the brig would either have
been sold for the benefit of the Confederate Government, or burned in
the Caribbean Sea after her neutral cargo had been put ashore.

It happened on the morning of July 4, and the _Sabine_, in company with
the brig _Herndon_, was sailing along the southern coast of Cuba, having
recently left the port of Trinidad-de-Cuba with a cargo of sugar and
molasses, which was consigned to an English port in the Island of
Jamaica. Although there was some sea on and rain squalls were frequent,
there was but little breeze, and consequently the _Sabine_ could not
have run into neutral waters even if second mate Jack Gray, who had
charge of the deck, had known that the steamer that was bearing down
upon her was the freebooter, _Sumter_.

"What do you mean by neutral waters?" Marcy wanted to know.

"Why, every country that owns a strip of seacoast owns also the waters
for three miles out," replied Jack. "And inside of that marine league,
as it is called, the cruisers of one nation mustn't trouble the ships of
another with which it happens to be at war. For example, if two armed
vessels belonging to two different nations who are at loggerheads,
happen to sail into the same neutral port, they can't fight there, but
must go outside; and if one of them runs out, the other must wait
twenty-four hours before following her."

The coast of Cuba was in plain view when the _Sumter_ was sighted, but
as there was little breeze stirring, and the brigs could not escape,
Captain Semmes was not obliged to resort to the cowardly trick he
usually practiced--that is, hoisting the English ensign to quiet the
fears of the crew of the unlucky vessels he intended to destroy. He
began business at once; and the first thing that drew the attention of
second mate Jack Gray, as he planked the quarter-deck thinking of almost
everything except Confederate war vessels, was the roar of a thirty-two
pounder. Jack looked up to see a thick cloud of white smoke floating
slowly away from the side of the steamer, and to take note of the fact
that a peculiar looking flag floated from her peak. Jack had never seen
it before, but he knew in a minute what it was. At the same time he
noticed that the _Herndon_ which was half a mile or so in advance of the
_Sabine_ had backed her main topsail and hoisted her own colors--the
Stars and Stripes.

"Tumble up here. Captain," exclaimed Jack, rushing to the top of the
companion-ladder. "There's a rebel steamer on the lee bow, speaking to
us."

"I wondered what that noise was," said the captain, as he came up the
ladder in two jumps, and saw that a boat had already been lowered from
the steamer and was putting off to take charge of the _Herndon_.

The captain knew that there were rebel privateers afloat, for in a
foreign port he had read of the escape of the _Savannah_ from Charleston
on June 2, and of the inglorious ending of her short career as a
freebooter. The _Savannah_ captured one merchantman with a cargo of
sugar, and afterward gave chase to a brig, which turned out to be the
man of war Perry. The _Savannah_ was captured after a little race, and
her crew were sent to New York as prisoners. But the captain of the
_Sabine_ never knew until that moment that the rebels had let loose
steam vessels to prey upon the commerce of the Northern States. He
looked at the "pirate," which, having sent off a boat to complete the
capture of the _Herndon_ had put herself in motion again and was drawing
closer to the _Sabine_ glanced up at the sails, and then turned his
wistful eyes toward the Cuban coast line.

"There isn't the ghost of a chance," said Jack, who easily read the
thoughts that were passing in the mind of his commander. "If we try to
run and she doesn't feel like chasing us, she'll shoot us into little
bits."

"She's got five guns," remarked the first mate, who was making a close
examination of the steamer through the spyglass. "She's loading one of
them, and it might be a good plan for us to come to and show colors."

These words brought the captain to his senses. He gave the necessary
orders, and in a few minutes the brig's maintopsail had been backed and
the Union emblem was floating from her peak. There were an astonished
lot of men aboard of her, and they were so angry, too, that they could
not stand still. They clenched their hands and gritted their teeth when
they saw a boat filled with armed men put off from the steamer, and when
the boarding officer came over the side and informed the captain of the
_Sabine_ in courteous tones, that his vessel was a prize to the
Confederate cruiser _Sumter_ they could scarcely control themselves.

"I suppose I shall have to give in," said the Yankee skipper. "But I
tell you plainly that if I had five guns and as many men as you've got,
one or the other of us would have been on his way to the bottom before
this time."

"Oh, I don't doubt that you would make us plenty of trouble if you had
the power," said the rebel officer, with a smile. "But, fortunately, you
haven't got it. I shall have to ask you to get your papers and go off to
the _Sumter_ with me. What's your cargo, where from, and whither bound?"
he added, turning to Jack, when the captain had disappeared in the
cabin.

The second mate did not waste any time or words in giving the desired
information.

"Ah! A neutral cargo bound from one neutral port to another," said the
officer.  "I am sorry to hear that."

"Why are you?" inquired Jack.

"Because under the circumstances we cannot destroy your vessel."

"What's the use of being so mean just because you happen to possess the
power?" said Jack.

"Young man," replied the officer sharply, "we are bound to harass you
Yankees all we can and in every way we can. That's what your people are
doing to us. But what else can we do? France and England have denied us
the privilege of taking our prizes into any of their ports, and there's
but one course left for us to pursue. But Spain hasn't spoken yet, and
perhaps we shall test her friendship for us by taking you into a Cuban
port."

Things turned out just as the boarding officer thought they would. The
captain of the brig was taken off to the _Sumter_, and after his papers
had been examined he was sent back, and a prize crew, consisting of a
midshipman and four sailors, was placed on board the brig. Both prizes
were then taken in tow by the _Sumter_, which steamed away for the
harbor of Cienfuegos, Captain Semmes laboring under the delusion that
Spain would permit him to have his Yankee prizes condemned and sold in a
Spanish port. The Confederate midshipman commanded the brig, the Yankee
sailors sullenly performed the little work there was to be done, and the
four Confederate sailors stood around and kept watch of them.

Only one thing that was worthy of note occurred during the day. The
_Sumter_ steamed slowly along the coast, making not more than five knots
an hour, and the Yankee sailors, enraged over the loss of their vessel,
and looking forward to nothing else but a long term of confinement in a
Southern prison, were very uneasy, and naturally enough they wanted to
exchange opinions on the situation; but that was something the
midshipman would not permit. He was vigilant, and would not allow the
brig's crew to get together for fear that they might hatch up a plan for
recapturing their property. If a couple of them got near enough together
to whisper a few words to each other, he would call out roughly:

"What are you about, there? Get farther apart, you two."

This state of affairs continued until night came and darkness settled
down over the Caribbean Sea, and then Captain Semmes himself did
something that caused the heart of every one of the _Sabine's_ crew to
beat high with hope.



                              CHAPTER IX.

                      THE "SUMTER" LOSES A PRIZE.

While the majority of the _Sabine's_ crew chafed and fretted like
captive birds which beat their wings against the bars of their cage to
no purpose, there were two who stood aloof from every one and from each
other; who never spoke a word, but who nevertheless came to a perfect
understanding through the interchange of frequent and expressive
glances. They were the captain and Jack Gray. Each one knew as well as
if the other had explained it to him, that both had resolved upon the
same thing--that before the sun rose again the _Sabine_ must be taken
out of the hands of the prize crew, and her course shaped toward a
Northern port, no matter what the risk might be.

"I knew, although I had no chance to speak to the old man about it, that
our first hard work must be to disarm those five rebels," said Jack, in
telling his story. "I knew it would be easy enough to do that if we all
moved together, for there was but one native American in the prize
crew--the midshipman--and he was a little whiffet to be strangled with a
finger and thumb. Even the fact that we were in the middle of the tow,
the _Sumter_ ahead and the _Herndon_ behind, wouldn't have made any
difference to us if we had had control of the brig, because a few lusty
blows with an axe would have severed the two hawsers and the darkness
would have aided us in making our escape; but the trouble was, the
elements were against us. The wind would not come up, and of course it
would be of no use for us to take the brig unless we had a breeze to
help us draw off."

While the captain and his vigilant second mate were waiting and watching
in the hope that something might unexpectedly turn up in their favor,
Captain Semmes came to their aid. The _Sumter_ with her heavy tow and
little breeze to help her, was making headway altogether too slowly to
suit him; and besides, it had occurred to him that it might be well to
run ahead and find out what the authorities at Cienfuegos thought of him
and his government, and whether or not they would permit Yankee prizes
to be condemned and sold in that port. The first intimation the brig's
crew had that Captain Semmes was about to cast off his tow was a warning
whistle from the _Sumter_. This was followed by a sudden slackening of
the hawser, and a few minutes later the _Sumter's_ black hulk showed
itself on the starboard bow. She was backing water.

"_Sabine_ ahoy!" came the hail.

"On board the _Sumter!_ replied the midshipman.

"Cast off the _Herndon's_ hawser and stand by to pass it aboard of us."

The midshipman responded with an "Ay, ay, sir!" and ordered the brig's
crew to lay aft and hold themselves in readiness to cast off when they
received the word. It took half an hour to transfer the line from one
vessel to the other (it was accomplished by the aid of a small boat),
and then another order came to the prize-master of the _Sabine_.

"Haul in your own hawser and make sail and follow us into port," were
the instructions he received, and which he at once proceeded to act
upon. He did not notice, however, that the first man to seize the hawser
and lay out his strength upon it with a "Heave yo! All together now,"
was the surly second mate, who seemed to take the loss of his vessel so
much to heart that he hadn't said a word to anybody since the prize crew
was put aboard of her. But Jack Gray was there with an object. When the
end of the hawser had been wound around the capstan, and the bars were
shipped, he took pains to place himself next to a couple of Green
Mountain boys, whose courage had been proved in more than one trying
ordeal.

"Heave yo! 'Round she goes. Strike up a song, somebody," shouted Jack;
and then he leaned over and spoke so that not only the two men who were
heaving at the bar with him but also the three who were on the bar in
front could hear every word he said. "Listen, boys," said he earnestly.
"We're going to take the ship out of the hands of these pirates. Put a
handspike or an axe where you can get your hands on it, and be ready to
jump the instant the old man or I make a move."

Jack could say no more just then, for in his progress around the capstan
he came opposite the place where the midshipman was standing. He
breasted the bar manfully and joined in the song, looking as innocent as
though he had never thought of knocking the midshipman overboard if the
latter gave him even the shadow of a chance to do it.

"I knew well enough that you cabin fellows would never let these
villains get away with the brig," said the man on his left, as soon as
it was safe for him to speak. "Jump as soon as you get ready and we'll
be there. What was it you read to us from that Mobile paper you brought
aboard at Rio--that one Southern gentleman is as good as five Northern
mudsills? We will give them a chance to prove it."

"Pass the word among the boys and tell them to stand by to bear a hand
when the time comes," added the second mate. "But be sly about it, for
we must not arouse the suspicions of these rebels. They are armed and we
are not."

In due time the hawser was hauled aboard and stowed away, and then the
midshipman prepared to make sail and follow the _Sumter_ which was by
this time so far off that her lights could not be seen. It took a good
while to do this, and once, while working on the foreyard, Jack was
delighted to find himself by his captain's side.

"I hope that rebel officer didn't see you come up," said Jack. "If he
did he will be on his guard, and then good-by to all our chances of
taking the ship."

"Do you take me for a dunce?" asked the captain, in reply. "I came up
when he wasn't looking, because I wanted a chance to say a word to
you."

"I know what you would say if you had time," was Jack's answer. "So do
the men. They have all been posted, and are as eager to get the ship
back as you can possibly be."

"Very good," said the captain, who was highly gratified. "Stand by the
companion-ladder and watch all that goes on in the cabin."

Having seen the last sail sheeted home Jack obeyed the order to "lay
down from aloft," and engaged the midshipman in conversation to give the
captain a chance to gain the deck without being discovered. At the same
time he noticed that the long wished for breeze was springing up, and
that everything was beginning to draw beautifully. At this moment the
steward came up from the cabin and approached the place where they were
standing.

"You haven't had any supper, sir," said he, saluting the midshipman.
"Won't you come down and drink a cup of coffee and eat an orange?"

Jack fairly trembled while he waited for the officer's reply. He was
afraid he would decline the invitation--Jack knew he would have done so
if he had been in the midshipman's place, and that nothing short of an
overpowering force would have taken him from the deck so long as he was
prize-master of the brig. But the young officer's fears had not only
been lulled to sleep by the orderly conduct of the _Sabine's_ crew,
which led him to believe that they, like all the rest of their
countrymen, were too cowardly to show fight under any circumstances, but
he was tired and hungry, and he thought that a cup of coffee and
something good to eat would take the place of the night's sleep which he
knew he was going to lose. Accordingly he followed the steward toward
the cabin, and then Jack told himself that something was about to
happen--that this was a part of the captain's plan for seizing the
vessel. Jack had been instructed to stand at the top of the
companion-ladder and watch all that went on below, and in order that he
might carry out those instructions without attracting the midshipman's
attention, he quietly removed his shoes and stood in his stocking feet.
As he was about to start for the post that had been assigned him, he saw
an opportunity to aid the captain that was too good to be lost. Standing
within less than ten feet of him was one of the Confederate sailors. He
was leaning over the rail looking down into the water, evidently in a
brown study. He held his musket clasped in his arms in a position
something like "arms port," and Jack knew that he carried his revolver
on the right side, that the butt was entirely out of the holster, and
that there was no strap to hold the weapon in place. He had taken note
of these facts when the prize-crew first came aboard.

Before attempting to carry out the desperate plan he had so suddenly
conceived for securing this particular rebel, Jack swept a hasty glance
over the deck to calculate his chances for success. They could not have
been better. There was not another one of the prize-crew in sight; but
just across from him, on the other side of the deck, stood Stebbins, one
of the Green Mountain boys who had worked at the capstan with him. Other
members of the crew were making a pretense of being busy at something in
the waist, but they were one and all keeping a close watch on the second
mate, and there were hand-spikes, axes, or belaying-pins within easy
reach. Jack made a warning gesture to Stebbins, and the sailor at once
reached for his capstan-bar. With two quick, noiseless steps Jack placed
himself close behind the dreaming rebel, and thrusting his left arm over
his shoulder seized his musket with a firm grasp, while at the same
time, with his right hand, he deftly slipped the revolver from its
holster.

"Not a word--not a whisper!" said Jack, placing the muzzle of the heavy
Colt close to the rebel's head. "Let go that gun. Stebbins, take off his
cutlass and buckle it around your own waist."

When the captive recovered himself sufficiently to look around, he was
astonished to find that he was confronted by four of the brig's foremast
hands, all of whom carried weapons of some sort, which they held
threateningly over his head. There was no help for it, and he was prompt
to obey both Jack's orders; that is to say, he gave up his gun and kept
his lips closed.

"Lead him aft, Stebbins, and stand guard over him with your cutlass,"
commanded Jack. "If he tries to run or give warning to his companions,
cut him down. Smith, take this musket and keep a sharp eye on me. The
officer is in the cabin, and I don't think the old man means to let him
come out very soon."

Stebbins moved off with his prisoner. Smith and the other two sailors
stationed themselves where they could see everything the second mate
did, and the latter advanced close to the companion-way so that he could
look down and obtain a view of the interior of the cabin. At the very
first glance he saw something to discourage him.

"The moment the old man told me to watch all that went on in the cabin,
that moment I understood his plan," said Jack. "And when I afterward
compared notes with him and the steward, I learned that I had made no
mistake. The captain was not denied the privilege of going in and out of
his cabin as often as he pleased, and that was one place where the
midshipman, who was really a sharp officer, did wrong. Another wrong
move he made was in scattering his men about the deck. If he had kept
them close together, so that they could have helped one another, we
never could have taken the brig."

It was during one of these visits to the cabin that the captain took his
revolver from the place in which he had concealed it when he saw the
prize-crew coming aboard, and put four pairs of hand-cuffs into his
pockets; for when the rebel boarding officer hauled down his colors, he
determined that at sunrise the next morning the Stars and Stripes should
again float at his peak if he had to sacrifice half his crew to get them
there. His next move was to order his steward to dish up supper, and
when it was ready he sent word to the midshipman to come down and have a
bite; but, although the brig was towing at the stern of the _Sumter_ and
there was not the smallest chance for her to escape, the officer would
not trust himself within reach of the skipper and his mates. However, he
was not afraid to go into the cabin alone, and when the steward asked
him, in Jack's hearing, to come below and drink a cup of coffee and eat
an orange, he accepted the invitation; but his actions indicated that he
was very suspicious.

"Sit down here, sir," said the steward, drawing back the chair he had
placed for him.

"Well, hardly," replied the officer, glancing at the door behind him,
which, by the way, opened into the captain's state-room. "Move that
chair and plate to the other side of the table."

"Certainly, sir," said the steward, in his politest tones; and the
command was promptly obeyed.

The first thing the midshipman did after he had taken his seat, was to
draw his revolver from its holster and show it to the steward; and then
he placed it on the chair under his left leg.

"You will observe that I don't put it on the table and give you a chance
to snatch it while I am in the act of drinking my coffee," said he
blandly.

"Certainly, sir," said the steward again.

"You Yankees have the reputation of being pretty sharp people,"
continued the officer, "and I believe you are somewhat famous for the
tricks you play upon unsuspecting strangers; but you will find that
there are smarter men south of Mason and Dixon's line than there are
north of it. Now, if we understand each other, trot out your grub."

The steward ran up the ladder, at the top of which he found the second
mate, standing back out of the light so that the midshipman could not
see him if he chanced to look toward the deck.

"Did you notice that he would not sit where I wanted him to?" whispered
the steward. "The old man is in his state-room, waiting for a chance to
rush out and grab him, but I am afraid that move on the Confederate's
part will knock the whole thing in the head."

"Not by a long shot," replied Jack. "We've got firearms of our own now,
and if the worst is forced upon us, we'll engage them in a regular
battle. But we don't want to shoot if we can help it, for that might
bring the _Sumter_ upon us."

The steward vanished in the galley, and while he was gone Jack thought
seriously of giving him the revolver he had taken from the captured
rebel, and telling him to watch his chance to put it to the head of the
midshipman while he was eating his supper, and demand his surrender on
pain of death. That would have been just the thing to do. Jack thought,
if he were only sure that the steward's courage would not fail him when
the critical moment came; but unfortunately he was not quite positive on
that point. He had never had an opportunity to see how the steward would
act in an emergency, and after a little reflection he concluded that he
had better keep the weapon in his own possession.

In a few minutes the steward came out of the galley, carrying a tray
upon which he had placed a tempting supper, and Jack saw him descend
into the cabin and put it on the table.

"Here, you fellow, that won't do," he heard the midshipman exclaim.
"Don't take quite so much pains to get behind me, if you please. Stand
around on the other side of the table, so that I can see everything you
do."

"Certainly, sir," answered the steward, as he hastened to take the
position pointed out to him.

If Jack Gray had been in the cabin at that moment he would have seen
that he did a wise thing when he decided to hold fast to his revolver
instead of handing it over to the steward and depending upon him to
capture the midshipman, for when the latter emphasized his commands by
pulling his six-shooter from under his leg and raising and lowering the
hammer with one hand, keeping the muzzle pointed toward the steward's
head all the while, the latter grew as white as a sheet and trembled in
every limb. After he thought he had inflicted sufficient torture upon
the timid fellow, the Confederate put up his weapon and demanded:

"What State are you from?"

"Massachusetts, sir."

"Are all Massachusetts men as great cowards as you are?"

"Certainly, sir," answered the steward, who was afraid to say anything
else.

"Then we're going to have a walk-over, sure enough," said the rebel.
"You Yankees are afraid to fight."

"Certainly, sir."

Every word of this conversation was overheard by a man who, but for a
most unfortunate interruption, would have forced the Confederate officer
to swallow his words almost as soon as they had left his lips. It was
the skipper. He had come down from aloft and reached his cabin without
being seen, and it was in obedience to his instructions that the
prize-master had been asked below to get some supper. His plan was to
have the steward seat the officer with his back to a certain state-room,
so that he could be seized from behind and choked into submission before
he knew that there was a third party in the cabin; but that could not be
done now. The rebel's suspicions led him to change to the other side of
the table, and he now sat facing the state-room door, on whose farther
side stood the merchant captain with rage in his heart and a cocked
revolver in his hand. The captain knew that he was going to put himself
in danger when he attempted to make a prisoner of the midshipman, but
that did not deter him. When he heard that sweeping charge of cowardice
made against the men of his native State he could stand it no longer,
but jerked open the door and sprang into the cabin.

Now came that unexpected interruption to the skipper's plan of which we
have spoken. The steward heard the door of the state room creak softly
behind him, and, knowing what was coming, he made a quick jump to one
side to get out of the skipper's way and leave him a clear field for his
operations; but he was so badly frightened that he hardly knew what he
was about, and consequently he did the very thing he tried to avoid. He
sprang directly in front of his commander, and the two came together
with such force that they measured their length on the cabin floor, the
captain and his revolver being underneath. For one single instant the
prize-master sat as motionless in his chair as if he had been turned
into a block of wood; but it was for one instant only. He was quick to
comprehend the situation, and equally quick to act. He sprang to his
feet, and before either of the prostrate men could make a move he ran
around the end of the table and covered them with his revolver.

"If you stir or utter a word I will shoot you as quickly as I would
shoot a couple of dogs which disputed my right to use the highway," said
he, in tones that could not have been steadier if he had been ordering
the boatswain's mate of the _Sumter_ to pipe sweepers. "Captain, drop
that revolver on the floor without moving your hand a hair's-breadth."

"Let go your own revolver," said a voice in his ear: and to his infinite
amazement the Confederate suddenly found himself in a grasp so strong
that it not only rendered him incapable of action, but brought him to
his knees in a second. One vise-like hand was fastened upon the back of
his neck and the other upon his wrist, turning the muzzle of the
revolver upward, so that it pointed toward the roof of the cabin.

            [Illustration: JACK GRAY RECAPTURES THE BRIG.]

This is what we referred to when we stated that if it had not been for
Jack Gray's courage and prompt action, it is probable that the brig
would never have been recaptured. When the midshipman jumped from his
chair and ran around the table, he turned his back toward the
companion-way; and the moment he did so, Jack Gray, who saw that the
critical time had come and that the next few seconds would decide who
were to be masters of the brig, made a spring for the ladder. As he was
in his stocking feet his movements were noiseless, and so rapid, too,
that he had the Confederate prize-master in his grasp before the latter
was fairly done speaking. Then he was powerless, for the second mate had
a grip that few who knew him cared to contend against.

"Didn't you have the revolver you took from the captured sailor in your
pocket?" inquired Marcy, when Jack reached this point in his story.

"I did, but I didn't think it best to depend upon it, for this reason:
Although the midshipman wasn't much to look at, he had showed himself to
be possessed of any amount of pluck, and I was afraid that even if I
succeeded in getting the drop on him he might shoot any way, for the
double purpose of disabling me and calling his men to his assistance. So
I made all haste to get a hold on him."

"Now that I think of it," continued Marcy, who was deeply interested in
the narrative, "why did Captain Semmes keep the _Herndon_ in tow when he
cast off the _Sabine?_ Why didn't he let both vessels go?"

"I have never been able to account for that except upon the supposition
that he had more confidence in our prize-master than he had in the one
he put aboard the _Herndon_," replied sailor Jack. "The _Herndon_ was a
heavy vessel, and had a much larger crew than we had; and perhaps that
had something to do with it. I think we taught Semmes a lesson he will
remember. I don't believe he will ever again trust a Yankee prize and a
Yankee crew out of reach of his big guns."

The master of the brig and his frightened steward got upon their feet as
soon as they could, and found that the Confederate officer had been
secured beyond all possibility of escape. The second mate had twisted
his revolver from his grasp; Smith, the man to whom Jack had given the
captured musket, was holding a bayonet close to his nose, and another
sailor was threatening him with a handspike.

"Did you really think that nine Yankee sailors would permit five
traitors to work their sweet will on them?" demanded the skipper, as he
let down the hammer of the officer's revolver and dropped the weapon
into his own pocket. "I think you will learn to your cost that you have
been very much mistaken in the opinions you have formed of Northern
people. I shall have to ask you to go into my state-room and remain
there, leaving the door open. Smith, stay here and watch him, while the
rest of us go on deck, and attend to the other four."

"There are but three left, Captain," observed Jack. "One is already a
prisoner, and Stebbins is keeping guard over him."

At that moment a body of men marched aft from the forecastle, came to a
halt at the top of the ladder, and a hoarse voice hailed the cabin. It
was the voice of the first mate.

"Tumble up, Cap'n," said the officer. "We've got the rest of 'em hard
and fast. Tumble up and take command of your ship. She's your'n once
more."

That was the most gratifying piece of news Jack Gray had ever heard.



                              CHAPTER X.

                          A COOL PROPOSITION.

Although the captain and Jack had not spoken to the first mate since the
brig was captured, except it was in the presence of some member of the
prize-crew, they had scowled and winked at him as often as the
opportunity was presented, and the mate knew well enough what they meant
by it and what they intended to do. He determined to do his part. He
managed to exchange a few words with some of the brig's crew, whom he
instructed to stand by him and be ready to lend a hand when the time
came. He saw Jack make the first capture, with Smith's aid and
Stebbins's, and by adroitly engaging the other three members of the
prize-crew in conversation, it is probable that he kept them from taking
note of what was going on in the waist. When he saw Jack make a rush for
the companion-ladder, he seized the nearest Confederate, his men quickly
overpowered the other two, and then he marched aft to tell his captain
the good news. It was all done in less than two minutes, and Captain
Semmes was none the wiser for it. The surprise was complete. There was
not a shot fired, and the movements of the Yankee sailors were so rapid
that resistance was useless.

"You've got the brig all to yourself again, Cap'n," said the mate. "What
shall I do with these varmints?"

"Send them down here," was the reply. "And tell Stebbins to send his man
down also."

As the four prisoners filed into the cabin, Jack was rather surprised to
see that they did not appear to be at all cast down by the sudden and
unexpected turn affairs had taken. Indeed, one of them, who spoke with a
rich Irish brogue, boldly declared:

"Sure it's not mesilf that cares at all, at all. I've had enough of the
bloody hooker."

"Have a care," whispered Jack, nudging him in the ribs with his elbow.
"Your commanding officer is in that state-room. He can hear every word
you say."

"Sorry a wan of me cares whether he can or not," replied the sailor. "We
were promised big wages and prize-money by the bushel if we would help
capture the Yankee ships on the high seas. We've took two prizes besides
this wan, and the _Herndon_ but we put the torch to thim, and niver a
cint of prize-money is there forninst the name of Paddy Scanlan on the
books."

"Well, Paddy," said the captain, with a laugh, "you may abuse the rebels
all you please, and no one aboard my vessel will say a thing to you.
Now, will you give your word of honor that you will behave yourselves as
long as you stay aboard of me?"

"Sure I will," replied the sailor earnestly.

"I mean all of you rebels," said the captain. "You treated us very
civilly while we were your prisoners, and I want to treat you in the
same way if you will let me. Let's have your promise."

It was given without a moment's hesitation, and was to the effect that
as long as they remained on the _Sabine_ they would make no disturbance,
but would in all respects conduct themselves with as much propriety as
though they had been regularly shipped as members of her crew.

"As long as you stand to that agreement I will allow you the liberty of
the deck, beginning to-morrow morning," said the captain. "But I tell
you plainly that if you go back from your word, I will have you in irons
before you know what is the matter with you. Smith, stand at the foot of
the ladder until you are relieved. On deck the rest of us!"

Never had the _Sabine's_ crew worked harder than they did on this
particular night to bring their vessel about and get her on her course
again; but this time the skipper did not intend to make for the port to
which his cargo was consigned. He told his mates that as soon as the
brig rounded the western end of the island of Cuba, he would fill away
for Key West, which was the nearest Federal naval station.

"I won't trust myself and my ship in these waters an hour longer than I
am obliged to," he declared. "How do I know but that there may be a
dozen or more vessels like the _Sumter_ cruising about here, watching
their chance to make bonfires of the defenseless merchant vessels? Now
let this be a standing order: While we are under way we'll not speak a
single ship, no matter what flag she floats. If you see a sail, run away
from it."

"And strict obedience to that order saved our bacon," said Jack, in
conclusion. "We got up to Key West without any mishap, turned our
prisoners over to the commandant of the station, and then filled away
for Boston, taking with us a cargo that ought to have gone another way.
We were warned to look out for little privateers--sailing vessels with
one or two guns aboard--and the navy fellows told us that the coasts of
North and South Carolina were particularly dangerous; but our brig was a
grayhound, the captain had the fullest confidence in her, and so he held
his course. But we kept a bright lookout night and day, and were almost
worn out with watching by the time we reached our home port."

"You didn't see anything of those privateers, did you?" said Mrs. Gray.

"Yes; we sighted one somewhere in the latitude of Sandy Point," answered
Jack. "She fired a couple of shells at us, and tried to lay herself
across our course; but she couldn't make it. We ran away from her as if
she had been anchored."

"What sort of a looking craft was she?" exclaimed Marcy, starting up in
his chair.

"Well, she was a fore-and-after and had figures painted on her sails to
make us believe that she was a pilot boat," answered Jack, somewhat
surprised at his brother's earnestness. "But she was about four times
too big for a pilot boat. She hoisted Union colors, and when she found
that she could not decoy us within range that way, she ran up the
secession rag and cut loose with her bow-chaser; but she might as well
have saved her ammunition, for she didn't come anywhere near us."

"And neither did the rifle-shots that you fired in return come anywhere
near us," added Marcy.

"Anywhere near you?" exclaimed Jack, starting up in his turn. "What do
you mean? What do you know about it?"

"I know all about it, for I was there," replied Marcy. "It was I who ran
up those flags, and although I didn't dream that you were on the brig,
you can't imagine how delighted I was when I saw that she was bound to
give us the slip. That privateer was Captain Beardsley's schooner, and I
was aboard of her in the capacity of pilot."

Sailor Jack settled back in his chair as if to say that that was the
most astounding thing he had ever heard in his life.

"_Pilot!_" he exclaimed, at length. "Lon Beardsley doesn't need a pilot
on this coast. He has smuggled more than one cargo of cigars through
these inlets."

"I know that. But you are aware that Beardsley has been our enemy for
years. He couldn't find any way to take revenge until this war broke
out, and then he began troubling us. He knew, and he knows to-day, that
I am Union all over, and down on secession and all who favor it, and
when he offered me the pilot's berth and promised to do the fair thing
by me, he was in hopes that mother would refuse to let me go; then,
don't you see, he would have had an excuse to set our rebel neighbors
against us on the ground that we were traitors to our State."

"I always knew that Lon Beardsley was beneath contempt, but this rather
gets ahead of me," said Jack hotly.

"But it so happened that we saw through his little game. Mother never
said a word, and I shipped as pilot aboard the privateer _Osprey_"
continued Marcy. "And, Jack (here he got up, moved his chair close to
the sofa on which his brother was sitting and lowered his voice to a
whisper), I was on her when she made her first and only capture, and
upstairs in my valise I have seventeen hundred dollars in gold, my share
of the money the _Mary Hollins_ brought when she was condemned and sold
in the port of Newbern."

"That would be a nice little sum of money if it had been earned in an
honorable way," observed Jack.

"But it wasn't," said Marcy, "and consequently I don't intend to keep
it. I'm going to give it back to the one to whom it belongs. Oh, you
needn't laugh. I mean it!"

"I know you do, and I hope that you will some day find the man; but I am
afraid you won't. Where is Beardsley now?"

"I left him at Newbern. The presence of the cruisers on the coast
frightened him so that he gave up privateering--he didn't want to run
the risk of being captured with guns aboard of him for fear that he
might be treated as a pirate--and took to running the blockade. We made
one successful trip, taking out cotton and bringing back an assorted
cargo worth somewhere in the neighborhood of a hundred thousand dollars,
and it was while we were trying to make Crooked Inlet on our way home
that we came the nearest to being captured. We ran foul of a howitzer
launch, which turned loose on us with shrapnel and canister, and gave me
this broken arm and Beardsley a black and blue shoulder."

"I wish from the bottom of my heart that she had given him a broken
head," said Jack. "Were you much hurt?"

"I don't mind it in the least," answered Marcy. "It has given me a
chance to visit with mother and you. But I don't quite understand why
you came home as you did. What made you so sly about it? Go more into
particulars, but don't talk too loud."

"Is it a fact that you are afraid to converse in ordinary tones in your
own house?" said Jack, looking inquiringly at his mother.

"Marcy and I have been very cautious, for we don't know whom to trust,"
answered Mrs. Gray. "One of our principal sources of anxiety is the
money we have hidden in the cellar wall."

"Thirty thousand dollars!" whispered Marcy in his brother's ear. "Mother
brought it home herself and spent three nights in fixing a place for
it."

"Holy Moses!" said Jack under his breath. "Do the neighbors know it?"

"They suspect it, and that is what troubles us."

"I don't wonder at it. Why, mother, there are plenty of white trash about
here who would rob you in a minute if they thought they could do it
without bringing harm to themselves. I declare, I am almost afraid to
leave home again."

"Oh, Jack!" said his mother, the tears starting to her eyes; "you surely
will not leave me again."

"Not if you bid me stay, but I didn't think you would do it, knowing, as
I did, that you are strong for the Union. That was the reason I came
home in the night and threw stones at Marcy's window. I intended, after
a short visit, to show my love for the old flag by making my way out to
the blockading fleet, and shipping with the first commander who would
take me. Consequently, I did not want to let any of the neighbors know
that I came home at all. I was sure that there must be some Union people
here, but of course I don't know who they are any more than I know who
the rebels are; so I thought it best to keep my movements a secret.
However, I might as well have saved myself the trouble," added Jack,
while an expression of anxiety settled upon his bronzed features; "of
course I can't keep out of sight of the servants, and if there are any
treacherous ones among them, as you seem to think, they will blab on me
to the first rebel they can find."

"They will tell the overseer of it," said Marcy. "He's a sneak and a spy
as well as a rebel."

"Why do you keep him, then?" demanded Jack. "Why didn't you kick him off
the place as soon as you found out that he could not be trusted?"

"I hired him for a year," answered Mrs. Gray. "And if I should discharge
him on account of his political opinions, can you not see that I would
give the rebels in the settlement the very opportunity that I believe
they are waiting for--the opportunity to persecute me?"

"Perhaps there is something in that," said Jack thoughtfully. "I must
say that this is a nice way to live. But the Confederates can't say a
word against you now, because Marcy sails under their flag."

"If anybody tells you that story don't you believe a word of it," said
Marcy. "They know why I went aboard that privateer as well as if I had
told them all about it. But, Jack, what did you mean when you told me
that you were a homeless, friendless smuggler?"

"I am not exactly homeless and friendless," replied the sailor, with a
hearty laugh, "but it is a fact that I am a smuggler in a small way.
When I found myself safe in Boston, the first thing I thought of was
getting home. I first decided I would go to Washington and try to get a
pass through the Union lines; but I soon found that that wouldn't do,
for I saw by the papers that the Federals were straining every nerve to
close the Potomac against smugglers and mail-carriers, and that
satisfied me that no passes were granted. My only hope then was to get
here by water. I met my captain every day or two, and he helped me out
by securing me a berth on the schooner, _West Wind_. He never said a
word to me about the character of the vessel, although he must have
known all about it and given me a good recommend besides, for the day
after I went aboard. Captain Frazier called me into his cabin, and took
me into his confidence.

"I thought the master of the _Sabine_ was a strong Union man," said
Marcy. "But this looks as though he was giving aid and comfort to the
rebels."

"Well, no; he didn't mean it that way. He was giving aid and comfort to
_me_, don't you see? He wanted to help me get home, and I assure you I
was glad of the chance he gave me. Captain Frazier was an old friend of
his. He happened to find out that Frazier was about to turn an honest
penny by selling the Confederates medicine and other little things of
which they stood in need, and instead of betraying him, he recommended
me as a suitable man for second mate, for I was a tolerable sailor, and
well acquainted with the coasts of the Carolinas. I accepted the
position when it was offered me, and brought the _West Wind_ through
Oregon Inlet as slick as you please, although the channel doesn't run
within a hundred yards of where it did the last time I went through
there."

"Did you take out a venture?"

"Of course. I risked about two-thirds of my hard-earned wages."

"What did you buy?"

"Quinine, calomel, and about half a dozen different kinds of quack
medicines in the shape of pills and tonics. But there was where I made a
mistake. I ought to have put all the money in quinine. If I had, I would
have made two or three hundred dollars more than I did. As it was I
cleared about twelve hundred. And that reminds me that I left my
grip-sack on the gallery."

He and Marcy went out to bring it in, and when they returned, Jack was
slapping the side of the valise to make the gold pieces jingle.

"My son, I am very sorry you did it," said Mrs. Gray reproachfully.
"Very sorry indeed."

"Why, mother, just listen to this," replied Jack, hitting the valise
another sounding whack.

"I hear it," said his mother. "But when you brought those things down
here and piloted that vessel through the blockade, didn't you violate
the laws of your country? Did you not render yourself liable to arrest
and imprisonment?"

"Well, to be honest, I did; but you see I was looking into the future.
When I reached Newbern I wasn't home by a long shot. There's a right
smart stretch of country between that place and this. I walked nearly
every step of the way from Boydtown, and every man I met was the hottest
kind of a rebel, or professed to be. When questioned, as I often was, I
could tell a truthful story about being second mate of a schooner that
had slipped into Newbern with a lot of goods for the Confederacy, and
furthermore, I had the documents to prove it," said Jack, drawing an
official envelope from an inside pocket. "This is a strong letter from
the captain of the _West Wind_, recommending me to any blockade-running
shipmaster who may be in need of a coast pilot and second mate; but I
never expect to use it. Here are some documents of an entirely different
character," and as he said this, the sailor thrust his hand into the leg
of his boot and pulled forth another large envelope. "This contains two
letters, one from the master of the _Sabine_, and the other from her
owners; and they give a flattering history of the part I took in
recapturing the brig. These letters may be of use to me when the time
comes for me to ship on a blockader."

"I don't see how you got out of Boston with your contraband cargo," said
Marcy. "How did you clear at the custom house?"

"Why, bless you, our cargo was all right," replied Jack, "and so were
our papers. The cargo was brought aboard in broad daylight, and
consigned to a well-known American firm in Havana; but the little
articles that were brought aboard after dark and scattered around among
the barrels and boxes in the hold, would have sent the last one of us to
jail if they had been discovered."

"Oh, Jack!" exclaimed Mrs. Gray, "how could you do it? I can't see how
you could bring yourself to take so much risk."

"I did it to keep up appearances; and hasn't Marcy done the same thing
and with your consent? Didn't he join that privateer and run the risk of
being captured or killed by the Yankees because you and he thought it
policy for him to do so? I am not a policy man, but in times like these
one can't always do as he wants to."

There were so many things to talk about, and such a multitude of
questions to be asked and answered on both sides, that the little clock
on the mantel struck four different hours before any one thought of
going to bed; and then Jack did not go to his own room, but passed the
rest of the night with Marcy, for the latter hinted very strongly that
he had some things to say to him that he did not care to mention in his
mother's presence.

"She has enough to bother her already," said he, as he closed and locked
the door of his room; "and although I have no secrets from her, I don't
like to speak to her on disagreeable subjects. I wish she could forget
that money in the cellar wall and the hints Wat Gifford gave her about
'longshoremen coming up here from Plymouth some dark night to steal
it."

Sailor Jack, who was standing in front of the bureau putting away his
letters of recommendation and the canvas bag that contained his money,
turned quickly about and looked at his brother without speaking.

"Of course I don't know that such a thing will ever happen," continued
Marcy, "but I do know for a fact that Beardsley and a few others are
very anxious to find out whether or not there are any funds in the
house. Beardsley tried his level best to pump me, and Colonel Shelby
sent that trifling Kelsey up here for the same purpose. Now what
difference does it make to them whether mother has money or not, unless
they mean to try to take it from her?"

"Marcy," said Jack, who had backed into the nearest chair, "I wish that
money was a thousand miles from here. You haven't anything to fear from
those wharf-rats at Plymouth; but if the Confederate authorities find
out about it, and can scrape together evidence enough to satisfy them
that mother is Union, they'll come down on this house like a nighthawk
on a June bug. And, worse than that, Beardsley may contrive to have
mother put under arrest."

"No!" gasped Marcy. "What for?"

"Don't you know that the Richmond Government has instructed its loyal
subjects to repudiate the debts they owe to Northern men and to turn the
amount of those debts into the Confederate treasury?"

"Well, what of it? We don't owe anybody a red cent."

"No odds. If Beardsley wants evidence to prove that we _do_ owe some
Northern house for the supplies we have been receiving, and that we are
holding back the money instead of giving it to the Confederacy--if
Beardsley needs evidence to prove all that he can easily find it."

"Why, the--the villain!" exclaimed Marcy, who had never been more
astounded.

"He's worse than that, and he'll do worse than that if he sees half a
chance," said Jack, with a sigh. "I wish the Yankees might get hold of
him, and that some one would tell them who and what he is, for I judge
from what you have told me that he is at the bottom of all mother's
troubles. Now, let me tell you: you must stay at home and take care of
mother, and I will ship on a war vessel and do my share toward putting
down this rebellion."

"But how can I stay at home?" interrupted Marcy. "My leave is for only
ninety days, and Beardsley looks for me to join the schooner as soon as
my arm gets well."

"All right. No doubt you will have to do it; but you'll not make many
more trips on that blockade-runner. It'll not be long before all our
ports will be sealed up tight as a brick by swift steamers, and sailing
vessels will stand no show of getting out or in. I know Lon Beardsley,
and he will quit blockade running when he thinks it's time, the same as
he quit privateering. Why, Marcy, you can't imagine what an uproar there
is all over the North. They're getting ready to give the South
particular fits."

"Then the result of the fight at Bull Run didn't frighten or discourage
them?"

"Man alive, if you had had as much to do with Northern people as I have,
you would know that they don't understand the words. They've got their
blood up at last, and now they mean business. Recruits are coming in
faster than they can equip and send them off. And I can't stay behind.
Mother must let me go."

"Do you think of enlisting on one of the blockading fleet?"

"I do."

"But how are you going to get to it? It's off Hatteras."

"So I supposed. Where's the _Fairy Belle?_"

"Great Scott!" ejaculated Marcy "Do you expect me to take you out on
her?"

"Well, yes; I had rather calculated on it." Marcy was profoundly
astonished. He threw himself upon the bed, propped his head up with his
uninjured hand, and looked at his brother without saying a word.



                              CHAPTER XI.

                        THE BANNER ON THE WALL.

"You seem to be very much surprised at a very simple proposition," said
Jack, at length.

"And you seem to have a deal more cheek than you did the first time I
made your acquaintance," replied Marcy.

Jack laughed heartily.

"Why, what is there to hinder you from taking me down to the fleet?" he
demanded. "Haven't I often heard you boast of the _Fairy Belle's_
sea-going qualities? If she can cross the Atlantic, as you have more
than once declared, she can surely ride out any blow we are likely to
meet off the Cape."

"Oh, she can get there easy enough," answered Marcy. "I was not thinking
about that. But suppose I take you down to the fleet and the Yankees
won't let me come back? Then what?"

"Nonsense!" exclaimed Jack. "They'll let you come back. They are not
obliged to force men into the service against their will. They've got
more than they want."

"But there's another thing," continued Marcy. "There are two forts at
the Inlet; and suppose some of the rebels in those forts should see a
little schooner communicating with one of the blockading fleet. Wouldn't
they take pains to find out where the schooner belonged, and who her
owner was? And then what would they do to me?"

"They would put you in jail, of course," replied Jack, with refreshing
candor. "But I take it for granted that you are sharp enough to go and
come without being seen by anybody. If you magnify the dangers of the
undertaking by holding back or raising objections to the programme I
have laid out, I am afraid you will frighten mother into saying that I
can't go."

"I'll neither hold back nor object," said Marcy resolutely. "When you
are ready to go say the word, and I will do the best I can for you."

"I knew you would. Now let's lie down for a while. I have tramped it all
the way from Boydtown since daylight, and am pretty well tuckered out."

"If you had telegraphed to Nashville, I would have met you with a
carriage," said Marcy.

"Of course. But I thought I would rather have a talk with you and mother
before I let any one know I was in the country. And now that I have got
here and had the talk--what would you do if you were in my place? Keep
out of sight?"

"No, I wouldn't. What good would it do as long as the servants know you
are here? Make it a point to say 'hallo' to all the neighbors, talk
politics with them, and tell them how you ran that schooner into Newbern
through Oregon Inlet. By the way, what was done with the cargo that was
intended for that house in Havana?"

"It wasn't intended for Havana. It was sold in Newbern, as the owners
meant it should be, and when I left, the _West Wind_ was loading up with
cotton for Nassau. Well, suppose I play that I am as good a Confederate
as any of the people hereabouts; what then? When I leave for the
blockading fleet they will want to know where I have gone, won't they?
And what will you say to them? We must think about that and cook up some
sort of a story on purpose for them."

The boys tumbled into bed while they were talking, but it was a long
time before Marcy could go to sleep. He shuddered every time he thought
of what the consequences would be if by any misfortune it became known
in the settlement, that Jack Gray, whom everybody took to be a good
Confederate, and who had been permitted, while at home, to go and come
as he pleased, had seized the first opportunity to go down to Hatteras
and ship on board a Union gunboat.

"This house would be in ashes in less than twenty-four hours after the
news got noised about in the neighborhood," said Marcy, to himself,
wishing that the sound sleep that so promptly came to his weary brother
might come to him, also! "Then I should learn by experience how it seems
to live in a negro cabin. But there's one consolation. They couldn't
burn the cellar walls, so mother's money would be safe."

The clock struck nine before the boys got up that morning, but there was
a hot breakfast waiting for them. A family council was held while they
were seated at the table, during which it was decided that the only
course for Jack to pursue while at home was to do as he always had
done--go about the settlement as though he had a perfect right to be
there (as indeed he had), and act and talk as though such a thing as war
had never been heard of. If political questions were forced upon him, he
could tell of his voyage on the _West Wind_, and show Captain Frazier's
letter; but he must be careful not to say anything about his short
captivity in the hands of the _Sumter's_ men. Accordingly, when Marcy's
filly was brought to the door after breakfast, there was another horse
brought with her for Jack's use. The coachman, who had been so soundly
rated the day before, came also, for the two-fold purpose of making his
peace with Marcy and welcoming the returned sailor.

"Sarvent, Marse Marcy. Sarvent, Marse Jack," said he, dropping his hat
upon the ground and extending a hand to each of the boys. "So glad to
have you back, Marse Jack, and so proud to know that you wasn't took
prisoner by that pirate Semmes. We saw by the papers that he run out on
the high seas las' month, and I was mighty jubus that you might run onto
him. Glad to see you among us again, safe and sound, sar."

"And Morris, I am very glad to see myself here," replied Jack, giving
the black man's hand a hearty shake. "So you take the papers, do you?"

"Well, no sar; I don't take 'em, but the Missus does, and she tells me
what's into 'em, sar."

"I don't know that it makes any difference how you get the news so long
as you get it. But I am rather surprised to see you on the plantation. I
thought that of course you had run away and joined the Yankees before
this time. You had better dig out, for you are an Abolitionist, and they
hang Abolitionists in this country."

"Now, Marse Jack, I don't like for to have you talk to me that a way"
said the coachman in a tone of reproach. "All the other niggers may go
if they want to, but Morris stays right here on the place. He does for a
fac'. Who going to drive the carriage if Morris runs away."

"Well, that's so," replied Jack, gathering up the reins and placing his
foot in the stirrup. "I didn't think of that. Help Marcy into his saddle
and then tell me what I shall bring you when I come from town--a plug of
store tobacco for yourself, and a big red handkerchief for Aunt Mandy?"

"Thank you kindly, Marse Jack," said the coachman, with a pleased laugh.
"You always thinking of we black ones."

"Yes; I have thought of them a good many times during the two years and
better that I have been knocking around the world," said Jack, as he and
his brother rode out of the yard. "Especially did I think of home when
the brig was dismasted by a tornado in the South Atlantic. We came as
near going to the bottom that time as we could without going, and I
promised myself that if I ever again got a foothold on solid ground, I
would keep it; but here I am thinking of going to sea once more, as soon
as I have had a visit with you and mother."

"I can't bear to think of it," said Marcy.

"I'd like to stay at home, but these fanatics who are trying to break up
the government won't let me," answered the sailor. "Now that you have
had a chance to sleep on it, what do you think of the proposition I made
you last night?"

"About taking you down to the blockading fleet at the Cape?" inquired
Marcy. "Well, if you are bound to go, I don't see that there is anything
else you can do. Of course I shall do all I can to help you, and if
there was some trustworthy person to look out for mother, I would go
too; but I should go into the army."

"Of course. Your training at Barrington has fitted you for that, and you
would be out of place on board ship. What color is the hull of the
_Fairy Belle_?"

"It's black," replied Marcy, catching at the idea. "But it wouldn't take
you and me long to make it some other color. That is what Beardsley did
when he turned his privateer into a blockade-runner."

"And that is what we will do with your little schooner--we will disguise
her," said Jack, "and by the time we get through with her, her best
friends won't recognize her. More than that, if we have to run within
spyglass reach of the forts at the Inlet, we'll hoist the rebel flag
with the Stars and Stripes above it, to make the Confederates think that
she has been captured by the Yankees."

"But we haven't any rebel flag," said Marcy.

"What's the reason we haven't? When the _Sumter's_ boarding officer told
our captain that we were a prize to the Confederate steamer, he hauled
our colors down, and ran his own up in their place; and they were there
when we took the vessel out of the hands of the prize-crew. I jerked it
down myself, said nothing to nobody, and brought it home as a trophy.
It's in my valise now. When we return from town I intend to stick it up
in the sitting-room where every one can see it."

"You do?" exclaimed Marcy. "Mother won't let you."

"Oh, I think she will," said Jack, with a laugh. "She will know why it
is put on the wall, and so will you. Every time you two look at it, you
will think of the part I played in turning the tables on Semmes and his
prize-crew; but the visitors who come to the house on purpose to wheedle
mother into saying something for the Union and against the Confederacy,
will think they are barking up the wrong tree, and that the Gray family
are secesh sure enough."

"I hope they will, but I don't believe it," answered Marcy. "When you
join the blockading fleet and the neighbors ask me where you are, what
shall I tell them?"

"That's a question I will answer after I have been here long enough to
get my bearings," said Jack. "Did you remark that you would have to stop
at Beardsley's? Well, here we are."

The rapidity with which news of all sorts traveled from one plantation
to another, before and during the war, was surprising. Among the letters
that Marcy Gray had been commissioned to deliver was one addressed to
Captain Beardsley's grown-up daughter, and the girl was waiting for them
when they rode into the yard and drew rein at the foot of the steps.

"Morning, gentle_men_," was the way in which she greeted the two boys.
"I was dreadful frightened when I heard that the Yankees had run onto
you, and that you had got your arm broke, Mister Marcy. But it seems paw
was into the same boat. Was he much hurted? Hope your venture in quinine
paid you well, Mister Jack. You done yourself proud by running that
schooner into Newbern with all them supplies aboard, but you oughter
stayed with her and helped her through the blockade."

"Oh, the skipper will find plenty of pilots in Newbern," replied Jack,
who was not a little astonished to learn that the news of his return had
already got abroad in the settlement. "If I can't ship on something
better than a blockade-runner, I will stay ashore."

"But they do say there's a power of money in it," said the girl. "Is
that a fact, Marcy? Paw must have got safe out and back from Nassau, or
else you wouldn't be here now. Did he make much, do you reckon?"

"I believe he calculated on clearing about twenty-five thousand
dollars," answered Marcy, who was looking over the package of letters he
had taken from his pocket.

"I say!" exclaimed the girl, fairly dancing with delight. "If paw made
that much he must get me the new dress I want, and that's a word with a
bark onto it. That letter for me? Sarvent, sar. Good-bye."

"I don't see why Beardsley went to the trouble of writing to her," said
Jack, as the two turned about and rode away. "She can't read a word of
it."

"And I am very glad she can't," answered Marcy. "She will take it to old
Mrs. Brown, most likely, and if she does, she might as well stick it up
in the post-office. Mrs. Brown is a regular built gossip, and if there
is anything in the letter about me, as I think there is, I shall be sure
to hear of it. But don't it beat you how things get around? Just see how
much that girl knows; and I haven't been out of the house since I came
home yesterday afternoon. I tell you there are spies all about us. Don't
trust any one you may meet in town. Tell just the story you want
published, and nothing else. And don't forget that before you sleep
to-night I want you to bury seventeen hundred dollars for me. You've got
two good hands."

"Marcy, I am almost afraid to do it," replied Jack. "Suppose some one
should watch us and dig it up as soon as we went away?"

"We'll take Bose with us for a sentry, and slip out of the house after
everybody else has gone to bed. We'll take all the precautions we can
think of and trust to luck. There's Nashville; now be as big a rebel as
you please. I know they'll not believe a word of it, but that won't be
your fault."

As Marcy expected, the first one to rush out of the post-office and
greet them, as they were hitching their horses, was young Allison. He
gave the sailor's hand a hearty shake, and then he turned to Marcy.

"Really, I am surprised to see you here, and in citizen's clothes, too,"
said the latter. "I should have thought that your zeal for the
Confederacy would have taken you into the army long ago. Man alive,
you're missing heaps of fun. Look at my arm. I've suffered for the cause
and you haven't." ["And what's more to the point, you don't mean to,
added Marcy to himself.]

"It's fun to have a broken arm, is it?" exclaimed Allison. "I can't see
it in that light. The reason I haven't enlisted is because I thought
that perhaps you would bring me a favorable word from Captain Beardsley.
Did you speak to him about taking me as one of his crew?"

"I did, before I had been aboard the schooner half an hour."

"And what did he say?"

"His reply was that he couldn't accept you. The crew is full; you know
nothing about a vessel; he wants nothing but sailor-men aboard of him,
and if you want to do something for the South, the best thing you can do
is to go into the army."

"Well, I'd thank him to hold fast to his advice until he is asked to
give it," said Allison spitefully. "I'll not carry a musket; I can tell
him that much. I have seen some fellows who were in the fight at Bull
Run, and they say that the privates in our army are treated worse than
dogs. If I could get a commission the case would be different."

"That's the idea," said Jack. "Why don't you pitch in and get one?
Begin at the top of the ladder and not at the foot. Crawl in at the
cabin windows and don't bother about the hawsehole. I mean--you see,"
added the sailor, seeing by the blank look on his face that Allison did
not understand his nautical language, "aboard ship we take rank in this
way: First the captain, then the mates, then the captain's dog, and
lastly the foremast-hands. And I suppose it must be the same in the
army."

"You don't mean it!" exclaimed Allison, opening his eyes.

"I do mean every word of it. Ask any seafaring man and he will tell you
the same. Whatever you do, don't go before the mast--I mean don't go
into the ranks. Get a commission and be a man among men." ["You'd look
pretty with straps on your shoulders, _you_ would," said Jack mentally.
"I'd like to gaze upon the man who would be foolish enough to put
himself under your orders."]

"Don't go into the office yet," said Allison, when the boys turned about
as if to move away. "There's a crowd in there, and I want you to stay
and talk to me. Tell me how you got wounded, Marcy."

"Let Jack tell you how he piloted that Yankee schooner into the port of
Newbern with a cargo of supplies for the Confederacy," replied Marcy. He
said this with an object in view; and that object was to find out how
much Allison knew about Jack's movements and his own. Consequently,
after his interview with Captain Beardsley's daughter, he was not
greatly surprised to hear Allison say:

"Jack hasn't much to tell, has he? As I heard the story he had no
trouble at all in bringing the schooner through--he didn't even see the
smoke of a blockader. But there's one thing about it," he added, in a
lower tone, "you boys have shut up the mouths of some talkative people
around here who have been trying hard to injure you, especially Marcy."

"Why should anybody want to injure me?" exclaimed Marcy, looking
astonished. "I don't remember that I ever misused any one in the
settlement."

"I never heard of it," continued Allison. "But they say that you are for
the Union, and that the only reason you shipped on Beardsley's schooner
was because you had to."

"Some people around here say that I am for the Union?" repeated Marcy,
as though he had never heard of such a thing before. "And that I shipped
because I had to?"

"That's what they say, sure's you're born; but your broken arm gives the
lie to all such tales as that. And as for Jack--did he know that the
_West Wind_ was a smuggler when he joined her in Boston?"

"Of course he knew it," answered Marcy. "He brought out a venture and
cleared twelve hundred dollars by it."

"Whew!" whistled Allison. "I wish I could make as much money as that;
but somehow such chances never come my way. But what is a venture,
anyway?"

"It is a speculation that sailors sometimes go into on their own hook,"
replied Marcy. "For example. Captain Beardsley wanted me to invest my
wages and prize-money in cotton, sell it in Nassau for more than double
what I gave for it, put the proceeds into medicine and gun-caps, and so
double my money again when we returned to Newbern. If I had taken his
advice, I might have been four or five thousand dollars ahead of the
hounds at this minute."

"You don't mean to say that you _didn't_ act upon his advice?" exclaimed
Allison.

"Yes; that's just what I mean to say. You see, we stood a fine chance of
being captured by the Yankees, and Beardsley was so very much afraid of
it that he wouldn't load his vessel himself, but took out a cargo he
obtained through a commission merchant.--I see Jack is going into the
post-office, and we might as well go, too. If you hear anybody saying
things behind my back that they don't want to say to my face, tell them
to ride up to our house and look at the Confederate flag in our
sitting-room, and then go somewhere and get shot before they take it
upon themselves to talk about one who has risked his life while they
were stopping safe at home."

"I'll do it," said Allison, and Marcy was almost ready to believe that
he meant what he said. "But are you really flying the Confederate
colors? Every one says that your mother----"

"Yes, I know they do," said Marcy, when Allison paused and looked
frightened. "They think she is for the Union, and have set some mean
sneaks at work to get evidence against her; but you ride out to-morrow
or the next day and take a look at that flag. How do you do?" he added,
turning about to shake hands with Colonel Shelby and Mr. Dillon, who
came up at that moment and greeted him with the greatest cordiality.

"We were very sorry to hear of your misfortune," said the latter, "but
you have the satisfaction of knowing that you have suffered in a
righteous cause. Did Captain Beardsley send any word to either of us?"

"No, sir; but he sent a letter to each of you," answered the boy,
thrusting his hand into his pocket. "And there they are. This other one
is for the postmaster, and perhaps I had better go in and give it to
him."

The Colonel and his friend were so very anxious to learn what Captain
Beardsley had to say to them that they did not ask the wounded
blockade-runner any questions, but drew off on one side to read their
letters; and this action on their part went far toward confirming
Marcy's suspicions that these two men were the ones Beardsley had left
ashore "to do his dirty work" while he was at sea. He was as certain as
he could be, without positive proof, that those letters told of the
unsuccessful attempts the captain had made at different times to find
out whether or not there was any money hidden in Mrs. Gray's house. That
money had been a constant source of trouble to the boy, but now he felt
like yelling every time he thought of it. If their "secret enemies" took
the course that sailor Jack was afraid they might take--if they told the
Confederate authorities that Mrs. Gray, after repudiating her debts to
Northern merchants (debts that she never owed), had concealed the money
instead of turning it into the Confederate treasury as the law provided,
then there would be trouble indeed.

When Marcy and Allison went into the post-office they found Jack
surrounded by an interested group of old-time friends, to whom he was
giving a humorous account of Captain Beardsley's unsuccessful effort to
capture the vessel to which he belonged.

"It happened right here on our own coast," said Jack. "She first tried
to fool us by showing the figures that were painted on her sails; but
that wouldn't go down with our old man. Then she hoisted the English
colors, but that made us sheer still farther away from her; for what
would a pilot-boat be doing in these waters with a foreign flag at her
peak? Than she cut loose on us with her bow gun, and we yelled and shot
back with sporting rifles. What do you think of a fellow who will try
his best to bring trouble to his only brother by showing a friendly
flag, and then shoot cannons at him when he finds he can't do it? That's
the way Marcy served me and more than that, he had the face to tell me
of it when I came home last night."

Of course this raised a laugh at Marcy's expense, but he didn't seem to
mind it. He gave the postmaster Captain Beardsley's letter and asked for
the mail in his mother's box.

"And of course when the brig escaped you yelled as loudly as any Yankee
in the crew," observed one of his auditors. "I suppose you had to in
order to keep out of trouble."

"But I don't reckon he'll do it again in a hurry," said another. "When
he brought that Yankee schooner into Newbern he proved to my
satisfaction that he is as good a Confederate as any man in the State.
Why didn't you stay with her. Jack, and make yourself rich by running
the blockade?"

"I had two reasons," answered the sailor. "In the first place I wanted
to come home for awhile; and in the next, there is too much danger these
times in cruising about on an unarmed vessel. The next time I ship it
will be aboard of something that can fight."

"Did you hear any talk of an ironclad that is being built in the river a
few miles above Newbern?" asked a third.

Jack winked first one eye and then the other, looked sharply into the
face of each member of the group around him, and then turned about and
softly rapped the counter with his riding-whip.

"You needn't be afraid to speak freely," said the postmaster, who knew
what the sailor meant by this pantomime. "There isn't a traitor within
the hearing of your voice. We are all true blue."

"One can't be too careful in times like these," replied Jack, turning
around again and facing the crowd. "After I have been among you awhile,
I shall know who my friends are. I did hear some talk of a heavy vessel
that is to be added to the defensive force of the city, and which might
some time go outside and scatter the blockading fleet, but I didn't go
up to take a look at her. I couldn't spare the time. She'll need a crew
when she is completed, and if I leave the settlement between two
days--if I am here to-night and gone to-morrow morning--my friends
needn't worry over me."

"We understand. You'll be on board an armed vessel fighting for your
principles."

"You're right I will. Now, George," he added, turning to the clerk and
slamming his saddle-bags upon the counter, "I want one of those pockets
filled with plug tobacco, and the other stuffed with the gaudiest
bandanas you've got in the store."

The clerk took the saddle-bags, and when they were passed back to their
owner a few minutes later, they were so full that it was a matter of
some difficulty to buckle the flaps. Then the boys said good-bye and
left the store. They started off in a lope, but when they were a mile or
so from the town and alone on the road, they drew their horses down to a
walk, and Jack said:

"Do they take me for one of them or not?"

"They pretend to, but everybody is so sly and treacherous that you can't
place reliance upon anything," answered his brother. "What you said
about leaving home between two days was good. It will help me, for I can
refer to it when you are gone. Now, Jack, you must put up that rebel
flag the minute you get home. I told Allison about it, and if he should
ride out some day and find the flag wasn't there, he would suspect that
we are not just the sort of folks he has been led to believe."

"All right! And our next hard work must be to hide your money and paint
that schooner of yours. We'll go about it openly and above board. We'll
say she is scaling,--if she isn't she ought to be, for it is a long time
since she saw a brush,--and that she needs another coat of paint to
protect her from the weather."

This programme was duly carried out. Of course Mrs. Gray protested,
mildly, when Jack brought down his rebel flag, and, after spreading it
upon the floor so that his mother could have a good view of it,
proceeded to hang it upon the sitting-room wall; but when the boys told
her why they thought it best to place it there, she became silent and
permitted them to do as they pleased. While they were putting the trophy
in position, Jack found opportunity to whisper to his brother:

"Now, if any of our officious neighbors give the Confederate officers a
hint that mother is keeping back money that she ought to turn into the
treasury, and they come here to search the house, they'll take a look at
this flag and go away without touching a thing. Mark what I tell you."

"But suppose the Yankees come here and take a look at it; then what?"
whispered Marcy, in reply.

"Well, that will be a black horse of another color," said Jack. "They'll
come here--don't you lose any sleep worrying about that; but when they
come, you must see to it that this flag is out of sight. I'll say one
thing for the rebels," he said aloud, turning his head on one side and
gazing critically at his prize, "they've got good taste. I've seen the
colors of all civilized nations, and that flag right there on the wall
is the handsomest in the world, save one."

"But think of the principles it represents," exclaimed Mrs. Gray.
"Disunion and slavery."

"Of course," replied Jack. "But when these fanatics have been soundly
thrashed, there will be no such things as disunion and slavery. They
will be buried out of sight. I was speaking of the rebel flag, which,
next to our own, is the prettiest I ever saw. Their naval uniforms are
handsome, too."

Of course it soon became known among the servants that there was a
Confederate banner displayed upon the walls of the "great house," and
those who came into the room turned the whites of their eyes at it and
then looked at Marcy and Jack in utter astonishment. But the boys did
not appear to notice them nor did they volunteer any explanation--not
even when old Morris came in to satisfy himself that the astounding news
he had heard was really true. The sight of the emblem, which he knew was
upheld by men who were fighting for the sole purpose of keeping him and
his race in bondage, struck him dumb, and he left the room as silently
as he had entered it. In less than half an hour the news reached
Hanson's ears, and that worthy, astonished and perplexed, waited
impatiently for night to come so that he could ride into town and tell
Colonel Shelby about it.



                              CHAPTER XII.

                          CONFLICTING REPORTS.

During the next three weeks Marcy Gray would have lived in a fever of
suspense had it not been for the presence of courageous, happy-go-lucky
sailor Jack. He could not for a moment forget the letters which, at
Captain Beardsley's request, he had delivered to Colonel Shelby and the
rest. Did they convey to those who received them the information that
Beardsley no longer believed that there was money concealed in Mrs.
Gray's house, or did they contain instructions concerning a new plot
that was to be worked up against Marcy and his mother? The boys did not
know, and never found out for certain what it was that the captain wrote
in those letters. That night, after placing the captured Confederate
flag upon the wall of the sitting-room, Jack turned the proceeds of the
sale of his "venture" over to his mother, buried Marcy's prize money in
one of the flower beds, and bright and early the next morning went to
work to disguise the _Fairy Belle_ so that "her own brother wouldn't
know her." If the neighboring planters who visited them, and whom they
visited in return, had any suspicion that the captured flag in the
sitting-room did not express the political sentiments of the family,
they said nothing to indicate it. Their life apparently was as quiet and
peaceful as though such a thing as a slaveholders' rebellion had never
been heard of; but one day it was broken up most unexpectedly, and young
Allison was the first to tell them of it.

"Glorious victory of the Confederate arms," he shouted, jumping off the
steps of the store in which the post-office was located, and running
full tilt toward the place where Jack and Marcy were hitching their
horses. "Didn't we always say the Northern people had no business
alongside of us? The crowd in the post-office have cheered themselves
hoarse, and you fellows ought to have been here to join in."

"Has there been another fight?" asked Jack. "Where did it take place and
how much of a fight was it?"

"Well, you see," said Allison, "there hasn't exactly been any fight yet,
but there's going to be if the cowardly Yankees will only give us a
chance to get at them."

"Oh," said Jack, while an expression of disgust settled on his face.
"Where is it going to come off and how do you happen to know so much
about it?"

"Why, the authorities know all about it, and I suppose the papers got
the information from them," replied Allison. "At any rate, there's a
strong land and naval expedition being fitted out at Fortress Monroe,
and it is coming down here to destroy forts Hatteras and Clark and block
up Hatteras Inlet."

"And that expedition hasn't got here yet?"

"No. It's going to sail on Monday. We know all about it in spite of the
efforts the Yankees have made to keep it secret."

"If the ships haven't even sailed yet, why do you raise such a row over
a Confederate victory that is not won?" asked Jack.

"Oh, it's going to be won," said Allison confidently. "Everybody says
so, and we thought we would begin to holler in time. What we are afraid
of is, that old Hatteras will turn in and fight the battle for us by
kicking up such a sea that the Yankee ships won't dare come near the
Inlet. That would be bad for us, for of course if they keep beyond the
range of our guns we can't sink them. Oh, they're bound to get a
whipping if we can only get a chance to give it to them."

Although the Confederates boasted loudly of the strong fortifications
which (so they said) had been thrown up everywhere along their coast,
and even went so far as to warn the Federal government that the most
powerful expedition that could be fitted out against these
fortifications would be sure to meet with disaster, Marcy Gray was well
aware that the coast was almost defenseless, because one of his papers,
the Augusta _Chronicle and Sentinel_ was brave enough to tell the truth
now and then. Only a few days before, this paper had called upon the
government to provide for coast defense by "organizing and drilling
infantry and guerrillas at home," so that there would be no need to call
upon the Confederate President for troops. The same paper also stated
that the Union naval officers knew the bays and inlets along the coast
like a book from surveys in their possession, and if so disposed, there
were many places where they might raid and do damage before they could
be driven off. But events proved that the Union forces did not go down
to the coast of the Carolinas just to give the Confederates the fun of
driving them off. When once they got a foothold there they kept it, in
spite of all the efforts that were made to dislodge them.

Having secured their horses and listened to all that young Allison had
to tell them concerning the glorious victory that had not yet been won,
the brothers bent their steps toward the post-office, where they found a
crowd of men and boys who seemed to be trying to make themselves
ridiculous. They acted in the same senseless way that those travelling
companions did whom Marcy Gray found on the train when he left
Barrington, and could not have been more excited and jubilant if the
five war ships and two transport steamers, that were to operate against
the forts at Hatteras Inlet, had already been wrecked on the bar or sent
to the bottom by Confederate shells. One of these two things was sure to
happen to that expedition; they had not the slightest doubt on that
point.

Marcy and his brother did not linger long at the post-office after they
received their mail, for the boyish antics and confident boastings of
the crowd that filled every foot of space between the two counters, were
more than they could stand. Pleading business as an excuse, they got
away as soon as they could, and unfolded their papers when they were in
their saddles, only to find that Allison had told them about all there
was to be learned regarding the Hatteras expedition. There were the
editorials, of course, and when the boys glanced over them they knew
where that crowd in the post-office got its inspiration.

"These editors remind me of Allison," said Marcy. "Seated in their
comfortable rooms, hundreds of miles away from the threatened point,
they speak of _our_ coming victory and the pounding _we_ are going to
give the Yankee ships the minute they come within range. But I'll tell
you one thing, Jack--that expedition isn't strong enough."

"Don't worry about that," replied Jack. "Uncle Sam won't send a boy to
mill as long as he's got a man handy. If they sail from Fortress Monroe
on Monday, they ought to get here on Tuesday afternoon at the latest.
Probably the fight will begin on Wednesday. Now let's watch the weather,
and see whether or not Allison's amiable wish is likely to be gratified.
Now Marcy, I will tell you something. If the Federals win a victory they
will garrison those forts to break up blockade running, and carry on
operations farther down the coast. As soon as we hear they are doing
that, you must stand by with the _Fairy Belle_."

"She'll be ready when you want her, but it is the hardest task one
brother ever put upon another," answered Marcy.

"I am sorry to ask you to do it," said Jack, "but it is my only chance;
and you can see for yourself that I can't live at home. Our whole family
is under suspicion; and if I don't get away while I can, there will be
such a pressure brought to bear upon me by and by, that I shall be
forced to enter the rebel service or take to the swamps."

"Why Jack, you know you wouldn't do such a thing as that," exclaimed
Marcy.

"Hide in the swamps? I'd do it in a minute sooner than lift a hand
against the flag that your grandfather and mine died under, and under
which I have sailed the world over. Why Marcy, you claim to love the old
flag, but I tell you that you don't know any more about it than the man
in the moon. Now don't get huffy, but wait until you have laid for long
weeks in a foreign port, thousands of miles from home and friends,
looking for a cargo which takes its own time in coming, and surrounded
by people whose hostility to all white men is such that they would cut
your throat in a second if they were not afraid of the consequences, and
let some one on deck report a stranger inside. You look over the side
and see a handsome ship standing in with the Stars and Stripes waving in
the air. When you have felt every nerve in you thrill with excitement
and pride, as I have on such occasions, then you can talk of your love
for the old flag. I'll fight for it as long as I can stand; but I'll
starve and die in the swamp before I will fight against it."

Sailor Jack spoke with unusual warmth, and if Marcy's patriotism had
been on the wane, his brother's earnest words would have infused new
life and strength into it. If the Northern people, with their immense
resources, were animated by the same spirit, it would not be long, he
told himself, before the old flag would crowd its secession rival to the
wall. Of course Mrs. Gray was very much alarmed by the startling news
the boys brought from Nashville, and she straightway began talking of
hiding the money Jack had given her, and of stowing the family silver in
some safe place; but Jack laughed at the idea.

"Why, mother, the Northern soldiers are not coming down here to steal
our valuables," said he. "They are not robbers."

"But have you never read how lawless all soldiers are?" inquired Mrs.
Gray. "They take delight in despoiling an enemy. It seems to be part of
their creed. And then--look a' that," she added, pointing toward the
rebel flag.

"That will not be in sight when the Federals come around here," replied
Marcy. "I'll make it my business to get it out of the way, and then I'll
rip up one of my bed quilts and show them my Union colors."

The fear that had taken possession of Marcy's mother--that possibly the
Union forces might ascend the Roanoke River, capture Plymouth, and
devastate the surrounding country--now took possession of Marcy also.
Northern soldiers had not yet been given an opportunity to show the
merciful way in which the inhabitants of captured cities were to be
treated during the war, and Marcy may be pardoned for looking into the
future with fear and trembling. The neighboring planters and their
families did much to add to Mrs. Gray's fears and Marcy's, as well as to
increase the general feeling of uneasiness which began spreading through
the settlement as soon as the newspapers arrived. If they believed, as
the Charleston and Newbern editors seemed to believe,--that the attack
on Hatteras Inlet was sure to end in failure,--they nevertheless thought
it the part of wisdom to prepare for the worst; and they at once began
the work of concealing everything that was likely to excite the cupidity
of the lawless Union soldiers. Remembering what their Mobile papers had
said about the ragged, half-starved appearance of the Massachusetts
troops who marched through the streets of Baltimore, they even hid their
clothing and carted the contents of their smoke-houses and corn-cribs
into the woods. But busy as they were, some of the women found time to
run over and compare notes with Mrs. Gray, and see what she thought
about it; and because she tried to accept Jack's view of the situation,
and believed that there would be no invasion of the Union forces, the
visitors went away to spread the report elsewhere that Mrs. Gray wasn't
afraid of the Yankees because she sympathized with them.

"Would you believe it, she isn't hiding a thing," said one of these
gossips. "She looks white, but she can't make me think that she's
frightened as long as she sits there in her rocking-chair as cool as a
cucumber. I know that Jack belongs to a blockade-runner, that Jack
piloted a Yankee smuggler into one of our ports, and that Mrs. Gray has
a Confederate flag hung up in her sitting-room; but I don't care for
that. She's Union, the whole family is Union, and I know it."

Mrs. Gray and the boys always looked troubled after an interview with
one of these busybodies, who did not scruple to magnify every rumor that
came to their ears, and wished from the bottom of their hearts that they
would stay at home and attend to the business of hiding their valuables;
but when the day drew to a close the gossips ceased to trouble them, for
they were afraid to go out of doors after dark.

"And between you and me I don't blame them for being afraid," said Jack,
when he and Marcy went up to bed. "It is in times like these that the
turbulent and vicious members of the community show their hands. The
rebels have been maltreating Union people all over the South, and I
don't know why we should expect to escape. Well," he added, shoving a
brace of revolvers under his pillow, while Marcy provided for his own
defence in the same way, "if anybody comes we'll give him as good as he
sends, provided he gives us half a chance."

The moment Jack Gray opened his eyes the next morning he jumped out of
bed and drew the curtain. "All right so far," said he, in a satisfied
tone; "and that rebel Allison is in a fair way to be disappointed."

"But you must remember that the fleet hasn't arrived off the cape yet,"
Marcy reminded him. "With the best of luck it cannot get there until
late this afternoon. I wish we could go down and watch the fight."

"I wish we could be in it," replied Jack, "for I just know it will end
in a Union victory."

But as they could do neither one thing nor the other, they were obliged
to possess their souls in patience. Of course they went to Nashville
after breakfast, and of course, too, they found in the post-office the
same excited and confident crowd they had met the day before, who had
all sorts of stories to tell them.

"Report says that the most of the Union ships foundered before they were
fairly out of sight of Fortress Monroe," shouted Allison, in great glee.
"I am sorry for that, for I wanted our boys to have the honor of sending
them to the bottom."

"Another report says that one of the old tubs that the Yankees were
using for a transport ship sprung a leak and went down with every soul
on board," said a second speaker.

"Why didn't the other vessels save them?" asked Marcy.

"They couldn't. There was a heavy gale on."

"Who brought these reports?" inquired Jack.

"The papers, of course."

"How did the papers get them, seeing that all telegraphic communication
with the North is cut off?" continued Jack.

"It makes no difference how they got the news so long as they got it,"
exclaimed Allison. "You talk and act as though you don't want to believe
it."

"It is no concern of yours how I talk and act, you stay-at-home
blow-hard. My common sense will not let me believe any such reports,
which are not reports at all, but something those newspaper men made up
all out of their own heads, on purpose to give such fellows as you a
subject to talk about. Some of the fleet may have sprung a
leak--probably they did if they were not seaworthy; but it wasn't in a
gale. I watched the weather closely last night, and if there had been a
blow outside we should have felt some of the force of it," said Jack. He
spoke calmly enough, but he gave Allison such a look that the latter did
not think it safe to say another word until the brothers were well on
their way toward home.

During the rest of the day Jack and Marcy did little else but stroll
about the grounds and talk--they had no heart for work of any sort.
Every time Jack took out his watch he would offer some such remark as
this: "If the expedition has had no bad luck, it ought to be off such
and such a place by this time;" and at three in the afternoon he
electrified his brother by declaring confidently: "Now the ships are off
Hatteras, and are probably looking about for a good place to put the
troops ashore." And subsequent events proved that he guessed pretty
close to the mark, for history says, "By two o'clock on Tuesday the
fleet arrived off Hatteras, and the _Monticello_ was despatched to
reconnoiter the position, and to look out a suitable landing-place."

Thus far everything had gone well. The weather was all that could be
desired, and the hearts of the loyal people along that coast beat high
with hope; but when Jack Gray drew the window curtain on Wednesday
morning, he turned to his brother with a look of disappointment on his
face.

"They will probably try to land some of the troops to-day to cut off the
retreat of the Fort Hatteras garrison after the war ships have whipped
them," said he. "But if they don't get about it pretty soon, I am afraid
they'll not make it. It's going to blow by-and-by, and if the wind comes
from the southeast, as it generally does, the ships will have to make an
offing to secure their own safety."

And that was just the way things turned out. That morning some of
General Butler's troops were landed a few miles from the forts under
cover of some of the gunboats, while the others opened a hot fire upon
the fortifications. The battle thus commenced lasted from nine o'clock
until almost night, and then Fort Clark was abandoned, while the flag
was hauled down on Fort Hatteras in token of surrender, whereupon the
_Monticello_ steamed into the inlet; but when she came within a few
hundred yards of the fort, the heavy guns of the Confederates opened
upon her with such terrible effect that she was badly cut up, and in
danger of sinking. The man in command of the fort who was guilty of this
act of treachery was Commodore Barron, formerly of the United States
Navy. He would have scorned to do such a thing while the old flag waved
above him, but when he threw off his allegiance to the government he had
sworn to defend, he threw off his manhood with it. But he gained nothing
by it. The battle was fiercely renewed by the Union forces, and the next
day Commodore Barron hoisted the white flag and surrendered himself and
his garrison unconditionally. In going off to the fleet he was obliged
to pass close under the guns of the _Wabash_, a fine vessel which, six
months before, he had himself commanded with honor.

While these events were taking place at Hatteras Inlet, Marcy and his
brother remained at home, waiting with as much patience as they could to
see how the battle was going to end. They knew there was a battle going
on, for they heard about it when they went to the post-office on
Thursday morning; and if they had believed all that was told them, they
would have gone home very much disheartened. One man assured them (and
he got his information from his papers) that the remnant of the fleet,
that is to say all the vessels that had not been wrecked when the
expedition left Fortress Monroe, had made its appearance in due time,
begun the assault in the most gallant manner, and the few that had not
been sunk or disabled by the seventeen heavy guns of the forts, had been
scattered by the gale. The flag of the Confederacy waved triumphant, and
Hatteras Inlet was yet open to blockade-runners.

When the two were on their way home, and each had read all he cared to
read in papers that did not give any reliable information, Marcy
inquired:

"How much of those stories do you believe?"

"Not quite half," replied Jack. "Perhaps some of the attacking fleet
were sunk; they are liable to be when they go into action. But I believe
that if our fellows were whipped, they were whipped by the gale and not
by the forts. We ought to hear something definite in the course of a few
days."

And they heard something the very next morning; but even then, to quote
from Jack, who was very much disgusted when he said it, they "didn't get
the straight of the story." Young Allison did not come out to greet them
when they drew up their horses at the hitching-rack (he objected to
being called a stay-at-home blow-hard), but Colonel Shelby and his
intimate friend, Dillon, were standing close by, and the boys noticed
that they looked very solemn.

"Well, the agony is over," said the colonel.

"Have you received some reliable news at last?" exclaimed Jack. "How did
it come out? Which whipped?"

"Oh, the Federals overcame us with the force of numbers aided by their
long-range guns," answered the colonel. "My paper acknowledges a defeat,
but says it doesn't amount to anything, for it will not help the enemy
in any way."

"It will close Hatteras against blockade-runners, will it not?" said
Marcy.

"Oh, that doesn't amount to a row of pins," said the colonel. "We have
Wilmington, Charleston, and a dozen other ports that the Yankees can't
shut up for want of a suitable fleet. They haven't stationed a ship off
Crooked Inlet yet, and you and Captain Beardsley----"

"I know they haven't put a ship there," Marcy interposed. "But if they
didn't have the wickedest kind of a steam launch at that very place the
last time I came through, I don't want to lay up anything for old age.
That night's work put the blockaders on their guard, and we can't use
that Inlet any more. Beyond a doubt they pulled up our buoys, and more
than that, they'll watch it as a terrier watches a rathole. Beardsley
will have to lay his schooner up or go somewhere else."

"You will go with him, I suppose?" said Dillon carelessly.

"I am ordered to report at the end of ninety days," replied Marcy, who
knew that the question was meant for a "feeler." "If I live I shall do
so; and I expect to stay with the schooner as long as she is in the
business."

"As for me, I shall report in less than ninety days," said Jack. "I've a
notion to start for Newbern to-morrow; and if I find that things are
working as I should like to have them, I will return and say good-bye to
mother, and some fine morning you'll see Marcy ride down to the
post-office alone."

"Good for you, Jack!" exclaimed the colonel, thrusting out his hand. "I
looked for something like this when I heard that you had purchased a
Confederate flag and brought it home with you. Where did you get the
flag, if it is a fair question?"

"Of a good Confederate," replied Jack readily. "He left it in a certain
place, and when I saw my chance I took it."

"Had to take it on the sly, did you? Then there must have been some
Union men hanging around."

"There were, several of them; and they were fighting mad, too. But I got
away with the flag."

"I hope it will not be the means of bringing mischief to you and your
mother," said the colonel; "but if I were in your place, I wouldn't make
it so conspicuous. Now, when you go to Newbern to enlist in the army----"

"But if I go there, it will not be for any such purpose," interrupted
Jack. "On land I am as awkward as a mud-turtle; but when I am at sea, I
can get about with the best of them. I shall go into the navy if I can
get the chance."

"Never fear. You'll get the chance easy enough. When you return I should
like to have you tell me how things look on our side, and what the
Yankees are doing at the Inlet."

"You mustn't be surprised if I don't," answered Jack, "for I may slip
back and slip out again without taking time to say good-bye to anybody.
When I fail to come to town with Marcy, you may know that I am in the
navy."

When the boys went in after their mail, they found a silent and
sulky-looking company leaning against the counters. They said not a word
to the new-comers or to one another, but simply stared at the floor,
apparently absorbed with gloomy reflections. Jack and his brother were
glad to find them so, for it gave them an opportunity to secure their
mail without delay and get away by themselves, where they could exult to
their hearts' content over the victory at Hatteras.

"What is this new notion you have taken into your head all of a sudden?"
was the first question Marcy propounded. "You haven't any idea of going
to Newbern."

"Yes, I think it would be a good plan," said Jack. "I want to know just
where the Union fleet is, and what it is doing, and I can't depend upon
these lying rebel papers to tell me. So the only thing I can do is to
find out for myself; for of course I don't want to run outside in the
_Fairy Belle_ unless I know of a certainty that there is a gunboat there
to receive me. If Beardsley's schooner is in port I'll take a look at
her, and then I can tell whether or not she is the one that chased the
_Sabine_."

"She's the one," replied Marcy. "But you'll not know her. She is
disguised."

Jack said he didn't care if she had been painted a dozen different
colors since he saw her, she couldn't fool him. He would look at her
"general make-up;" and while he was describing some peculiarities in the
_Hattie's_ rigging that Marcy had not noticed himself, they rode through
the gate into the yard.



                             CHAPTER XIII.

                      UNION OR CONFEDERATE--WHICH?

For the first time since sailor Jack came home he was the bearer of good
news, and you may be sure that his mother was glad to listen to it. He
declared that he took no stock whatever in the thousand and one
conflicting reports that had come to him through the papers, and so
suspicious had he become that the only thing that led him to believe the
rebels had been worsted in the fight at Hatteras, was because they were
willing to confess it themselves. Of course it would not be safe for him
to try to carry out his resolve to enlist in the Union navy until he
knew just how the land lay; and the only way in which he could find out
would be to go to Newbern and make personal observations. If his mother
did not object he would start the very next morning and take Marcy with
him. This proposition startled Mrs. Gray, for she had looked upon
another separation from Jack as something that was far in the future,
and would not allow herself to think about it if she could help it. She
said nothing discouraging, however, and Jack's programme was duly
carried out.

The trip to Newbern was the most exciting and altogether disagreeable
one that Marcy had ever taken on the cars. The train was crowded with
soldiers, and among them were some boisterous and inquisitive ones who
seemed to think it their duty to question every civilian who came on
board. And they did not do it in the most gentlemanly manner, either.
Before the train had left Boydtown a mile behind, a young man, dressed
in a neat, clean uniform that had never seen a minute's service at the
front, stopped in the aisle and laid his hand heavily on Jack's
shoulder.

"Look here, my lad," said he, in a tone that was as offensive as his
manner, "you are strong and able-bodied, are you not?"

"You'll think so if you don't take your hand off my collar mighty
sudden," replied Jack, jumping from his seat.

"Hallo!" exclaimed the young man, starting back in some alarm when he
saw the sailor's broad shoulders rising to a level with his own. "I
wouldn't throw on any airs," he added, glancing around at his uniformed
companions, who straightway became interested in the proceedings.

"I won't, and I don't mean to let you do so, either--not with me,"
replied Jack. "You seem to feel very important because you happen to
have some good clothes on, but you haven't been under fire yet."

"Neither have you," answered the Confederate.

"That's all you know about it. Now go off and let me alone, or I'll
pitch you through the window."

The young man fell back to call up re-enforcements, and Jack took his
seat again.

"It's all right," said he, when he noticed the troubled expression on
his brother's face. "Because he wears a uniform himself, he thinks he
had a right to know why I haven't one also; but it is none of his
business. Besides, it is nothing more than you did to Allison in the
post-office at Nashville."

"But I was among friends when I backed Allison down, and these men are
all strangers to us," replied Marcy.

"No matter for that. I judge by their looks that they are mostly
Americans, and if they are they will see fair play. There will be a
white man along to question us presently."

And sure enough there was. The defeated rebel drew back a little way to
hold a council of war with some of his friends, and in a few minutes one
of these friends, whose uniform was by no means as clean and neat as the
others', arose from his seat and came down the aisle.

"Beg pardon, sir," said he respectfully. "I wish to offer a word of
excuse for my impulsive young companion's conduct. He is a warm
patriot----"

"So I see," said Jack, with a smile. "A good many get that way the
minute they put on a gray suit; but my brother and I, who have already
risked our lives and liberty, do not feel called upon to give an account
of ourselves to every raw recruit who may demand it. If he had asked me
a civil question I would have given him a civil answer."

"Of course; certainly. But I know you will overlook it this time. But
are you two really in the service?"

"My brother has been on a privateer and now he belongs to a
blockade-runner," answered Jack. "You see he's got a bad arm, don't you?
The Yankees gave him that."

"Well, well!" exclaimed the man, who did not know what else to say. "He
ought to have a uniform on."

"His crew don't have any," replied Jack. "And if you want to know what I
have done--by the way, are you going to Newbern?"

The soldier said he was.

"Well, when you get there go to Parker & Wall's and ask them whether or
not the supplies the _West Wind_ brought down from Boston are going to
be of any use to the Confederacy. I was second mate and pilot of that
craft, and might have been on board of her yet if I had been inclined to
stay; but if there is going to be a war I want a hand in it. I am going
to Newbern to see if there is any chance for me to get into the navy."

Of course, after such a talk as this it was impossible for the brothers
to keep to themselves as they would like to have done. The inquisitive
rebel apologized to Jack and introduced his friends; and from that time
forward there was a crowd of soldiers hanging about his seat all the
while. Some of them had seen service and some hadn't; and the latter
were particularly anxious to know how Marcy felt when that shrapnel came
over the _Hattie's_ bow and knocked him and Captain Beardsley down, and
whether or not he was frightened and afraid he was going to be killed.

"The whole thing was done so quickly, and I was so excited, that I
didn't have time to ask myself whether I was frightened or not," was
Marcy's invariable reply; and it seemed to satisfy his questioners.

To Jack Gray's disappointment there was not a soldier in the car who
could tell him anything definite regarding the situation at Hatteras
Inlet; but some of them interested themselves in the matter, and finally
discovered a citizen who knew all about it, but who, upon being
questioned, proved to be almost as ignorant as the rest. The few things
he _did_ know, however, were very encouraging to Jack. The captured
forts had not been destroyed, he said, and that seemed to indicate that
the Yankees intended to place garrisons there. The vessels of the
attacking fleet had not been sunk or scattered, and neither was there a
sailor killed during the whole of the fight. The war vessels were still
hanging around the Inlet, ready to go up or down the Sound, according to
the orders they might receive from Washington, and the rebel garrison at
Fort Ocracoke, which was located on the seaward face of Beacon Island a
few miles below, as well as the troops who occupied the camp on the
opposite side of the island, were trembling in their boots, and holding
themselves ready to run at a moment's notice. He didn't know the first
thing about naval matters, he said in conclusion. There might be a
gunboat or two building in the river above Newbern, but he didn't think
there was, and the only thing left for Jack was to ship on some
blockade-runner. They still had the free use of Ocracoke and Oregon
Inlets.

"I thank you for the information you have given me," said Jack. "I
declare it is refreshing to find a man who can tell the truth. The
falsehoods I have read and listened to during the last few days are
enough to disgust anybody. The possession of Hatteras Inlet is important
to the Federal government, and you'll find it out."

"We have found it out already," answered the citizen. "The Yankee ships
are hauling in the prizes as fishermen haul in their catch with a drag
net. You see, the blockade-runners that are bound in don't know that the
Inlet has been captured, and neither do they find it out until they run
slap into the arms of the cruisers, who are always on the watch for
them. They had hardly ceased firing upon the forts before they captured
five schooners."

"All in one day?" exclaimed Marcy.

"All in one day," repeated the citizen.

"Good enough," said Marcy, to himself. "I hope the _Hattie_ was one of
them." Then aloud he said: "Do you know the names of those schooners?
The reason I ask is because my captain has had plenty of time to load
up, run down to Nassau, and get back again. His name is Beardsley, and
he commands the _Hattie_."

"Oh, yes. I heard about him, and when he gets back you will see an
account of his daring exploit in the papers. That man has pluck, I tell
you."

"What did he do, and why will the papers wait until he returns before
saying anything about it?" inquired Marcy.

"He had taken his cargo of cotton on board, and was all ready to sail
when word was received that the Yankee ships had appeared off Hatteras,"
answered the citizen. "No one supposed that he would think of going out,
but he did; and the first thing we heard of him was that he had got
safely off."

"He didn't run out of Hatteras, of course?"

"Certainly not. He stole a march on the Yankees and went down to
Ocracoke."

"Then I can't see what he did that was so daring," said Marcy, to
himself. "The greatest coward in the world, if he can handle a vessel at
all, ought to be able to run her out of a wide inlet when there is
nothing to oppose him."

"And the reason our papers didn't speak of it is because we don't want
the Yankees to be on the watch for him when he comes back," continued
the citizen. "We can tell by the way they have acted since they captured
the forts, that they know what is going on in the city as well as we do.
They must get the papers regularly; and if we ever find out who is to
blame for it, I wouldn't give much for his neck."

"Now that's what _I_ call pluck," thought Marcy. "Captain Beardsley
didn't show a particle when he ran out to sea under the guns of Fort
Ocracoke, for there was nothing for him to be afraid of, all the
blockaders, if there were any, having gone to Hatteras to help the
fleet. But when a Union man, in such a nest of rebels as Newbern is,
risks his life by sending information to the defenders of the old flag,
he's got nerve. But I am sorry to hear that about Beardsley. He'll keep
on running the blockade until he is captured, and what if I should
chance to be aboard the schooner when that happens?"

Having given them all the information he could, the citizen went back to
his own seat, and the boys were at last left to themselves. They hadn't
learned much, and they did not learn any more when they reached Newbern.
The fortifications below the city were being rapidly pushed to
completion (negroes and poor whites did the work, the officers finding
life in town much more to their liking than digging in the trenches),
and there had been some talk of building gunboats to assist in the
defence of the place; but so far nothing had been done about it. But,
after all, there was no need of gunboats, for the thirty-one pieces of
heavy artillery that had been planted on the works below, would send the
Yankee fleet to the bottom in short order, should its commanding officer
be so foolhardy as to bring it into the Neuse River. There was nothing
to keep the boys in the city, for the _West Wind_, which Marcy wanted
much to see, had already sailed for Nassau with a cargo of cotton; and
after spending two days in making inquiries that did not bring them the
information they desired, they took the cars for home. Old Morris, whom
they found waiting for them at Boydtown depot, was both surprised and
disappointed because they did not ride on the box with him, as they
usually did; but as the boys wanted to be alone, they went inside.

"You haven't done much talking since we started," said Marcy, when
Morris cracked his whip and drove away from the depot. "What's the
matter?"

"I have been laying my plans," replied Jack. "But with all my thinking I
haven't been able to decide upon anything further than this: As soon as
it comes dark, we'll begin and load the _Fairy Belle_ with provisions
and such other things as we may be likely to stand in need of, and
to-morrow morning we'll slip down and out."

"To-morrow night, you mean," suggested Marcy.

"No, to-morrow morning; just as soon as we have had breakfast. I am
impatient to be off; and besides I really cannot afford to waste any
more time. We must go at once or run the risk of missing the Federal
fleet. It may be ordered somewhere else."

"But every one along the river will see us," protested Marcy.

"Who cares if they do? In fact I should care if they did not see us.
We'll hoist my Confederate flag at the peak as----"

"Why, Jack. And sail under a lie?"

"Now just listen at you" exclaimed Jack, shaking his finger at his
brother. "Captain Semmes didn't sail under a lie, I suppose, when he ran
up the English colors to quiet the fears of the _Herndon's_ commander,
and neither did you when you hoisted the same flag to coax my vessel
within reach of your guns."

"Do you imagine that I would have done such a thing if I had been in a
position to refuse?" retorted Marcy, with some spirit. "I couldn't help
myself."

"I know it; and can't you see that hoisting the rebel rag will help both
of us? I can, and I only wish Nashville was situated on the river so
that Allison and Shelby and the rest of those blatant traitors could see
us as we go by. It will save you from a heap of questioning, and may be
the means of keeping a roof over mother's head."

"But what will the Union men in the settlement think and do about it?"

"Not the first thing. There are but few of them, and they dare not say
their souls are their own. They know they are watched as well as mother
knows that she is watched, and there isn't one among them who dares lift
his hand or say a word. For their own sakes, I hope they will not do
anything to you and mother because they think we are rebels, for if they
do, their houses will go up in smoke."

"But, Jack," persisted Marcy, "I wouldn't dare go alongside a Union
gunboat with that flag on board my schooner."

"When the time comes, we will pull it down and hoist one of your Union
flags in its place," was the answer.

"But suppose we should be seen by some one on shore who happened to have
a strong spy-glass in his hand? Wouldn't I find myself in a fix when I
got back?"

"It is no part of my programme to hug the shores so closely that our
flag can be seen and recognized," replied Jack. "You are not going to
get yourself into trouble by taking me down to the fleet. If I thought
you were, I would not ask you to go; but that money in the cellar may be
the means of turning you out of doors."

When the boys reached home, their mother saw at a glance that something
had been decided upon, but she asked no questions until they were all
seated at the supper table, and then they told her as much of their
plans as they were willing Hanson should know, and no more.

"There isn't the sign of a navy in or about Newbern," said Jack, talking
for the benefit of the girl who waited at table as well as for the
information of any other eavesdropper who might chance to be hanging
around. "But there must be some vessels fitting out at Edenton or
somewhere else in these waters, and we intend to find out before we come
back. We shall set out to morrow as soon as we have had breakfast, and
in order to do that we must provision the _Fairy Belle_ before we go to
bed."

Of course the news of their intended movements got noised among the
servants, as the boys were sure it would, and when they were ready to
set to work, there were any number of volunteers at hand to assist them,
the boy Julius, who took it for granted that he was to be one of the
crew, being particularly active and "bossy." He and another small darkey
were sent off in a skiff to cast the schooner loose from her moorings
and tow her to the shore, and the minute that duty had been performed he
jumped out, seized a bundle which he had left on the bank, and was
climbing back over the side with the agility of a monkey when Jack
called to him:

"Avast, there. What are you about?" cried the sailor.

"Going to stow dis yere dunnage of mine in de fo'castle," replied
Julius, without stopping.

"Well, come back. You can't go this trip."

"Ain't I going to sea with Marse Marcy?" said Julius, who was almost
ready to cry.

"Not this trip, I tell you. You are an Abolitionist, and we can't trust
you. If I should get a chance to go into the navy I shall not want you
around, for you would come back and blab it all over the neighborhood.
Somebody must stay home and take care of mother. Come ashore and lend a
hand with this grub."

"I jes' ain't going to do no such nigger's work as dat," replied Julius
spitefully. "If I can't run on de schooner, I shan't help load her. I
tell you dat for a fac'. I jes' hope she'll go to de bottom 'fore she
sees Seven Mile creek agin."

The darkey emphasized his words by throwing his bundle as far as he
could send it, and by flinging himself over the side as if he had been a
bag of cotton. The moment his feet touched the ground he snatched up his
property again and disappeared in the darkness.

"Sorry he went off mad," said Jack, "but it can't be helped. In times
like these the only persons we can trust are those who can keep still
tongues in their heads, and that is something Julius was never known to
do. Now," he added, turning to the half a dozen blacks who remained, "if
there are any among you who don't want to aid in loading a vessel that
is going to hoist the Confederate colors to-morrow, you can go also."

"But, Marse Jack," exclaimed Morris, who had been waiting for an
opportunity like this, "you ain't no rebel."

"Of course I am not. Who said I was?"

"But I mean, you don't go in for the 'Federacy; kase if you did go in
for the 'Federacy, the Missus wouldn't luff you in the house. I don't
see what you want with that rebel flag in the sitting-room, nohow. I
just believe--"

"I don't care what you believe," interrupted Jack, who was afraid that
the coachman was about to give utterance to some suspicions that would
come too near the truth. "Are you for the Union?"

"Course I is, Marse Jack. And so be you."

"Are all the rest of you black ones for the Union, too?"

"Yes, sar, we is," was the unanimous response.

"Very well. I don't try to control your opinions; but if you are going
to take sides with those who are coming down here to rob us of our
property, you may trot right back to the quarter and leave us to do our
own work. Off you go, now."

The astonished negroes urged and pleaded to no purpose. Jack, who
thought he knew just what he was doing, would not listen to them, and
finally they turned slowly and sorrowfully away, leaving Bose to act as
sentry and bodyguard.

"If everybody on the place doesn't hear of this in less than half an
hour and set you down for a rebel, it will not be your fault," said
Marcy, when the negroes were out of ear-shot.

"I don't care what they set me down for, so long as they let you and
mother alone while I am gone," replied Jack. "I have been here long
enough to find out what is the matter with our neighbors. They are mad
because we will not declare ourselves."

"And you think the safest plan is to make them believe, if you can, that
we are Confederates," added Marcy. "But don't you know that this game of
deception can't last forever? Now that the Yankees have got a foothold
on the coast, what is there to hinder them from spreading all over the
country? Suppose they should come here, and some Union man should tell
them that we hoisted the first rebel flag that was seen in the
settlement--then what?"

"Then will be the time for you to show how smart you are, for I shall
not be here to help you. Now, Bose," he added, speaking as though the
animal could understand every word he said, "you stay here and keep
watch; and if you hear anybody sneaking up on us, take after him and
hold him at bay till we come."

So saying he picked up the nearest basket and hoisted it over the
schooner's side.

The _Fairy Belle_ having been built under sailor Jack's personal
supervision, was especially adapted for the service for which she was
intended, that of single-handed cruiser. Although she was provided with
top-masts, she had no sails for them, and all the sheets and halliards
were made to lead aft, so that they were under complete control of the
boy at the helm, who could put his hand upon any of them without moving
from the cock-pit. Beginning forward, there was the chain locker, which
contained all the extra cordage the schooner was likely to need during a
cruise, and also served as a place of storage for the ground tackle when
not in use. Abaft of that was a forecastle, with bunks for two hands,
and then came a small but convenient galley, with cupboards and dishes
in plenty, from which a door gave entrance into a neatly furnished
cabin. It was all there, too, no space being taken up with state-rooms.
An upholstered locker, running the full length of each side of the
cabin, not only served as receptacles for hunting and fishing outfits,
canned provisions, flags, and clothing, but could easily be made into
beds that would accommodate four boys. Nothing had been omitted that
could in any way add to the comfort of her master and crew, and her
speed, under the four sails she usually carried, was all that could be
desired. She had sailed over nearly every mile of Albemarle and Pamlico
Sounds, and been fifty miles outside the sand dunes; but that was before
Yankee gunboats with their sharp-eyed lookouts were known upon the
coast. When Marcy made those trips he had but one flag--one that was
known and respected the world over; but when he went outside this time
he would have two, either of which might be the means of sending him and
his brother to prison.

It did not take the boys more than ten minutes to put their supplies
aboard the schooner, and while they were about it they talked in their
ordinary tones, so that their words could have been heard and understood
by any one who thought it worth while to come to the top of the bank and
listen to them; but they were careful to weigh the words before they
uttered them, and the sequel proved that the precaution was not a
needless one. After everything had been stowed in its proper place and
the hatches were fastened down. Jack said:

"Of course we can't leave her alone; we must have some one to watch her.
So if you will keep an eye on her, I'll go to the house and send Morris
and Julius down." At the same time he pointed to Bose; and Marcy,
comprehending his meaning, seized the dog by the neck to keep him from
following Jack, who lumbered up the bank, making any amount of noise,
and singing a sailor ditty as he went.

Scarcely had the words of the song died away in the distance, when
something that sounded suspiciously like the breaking of twigs came to
Marcy's ears, and at the same instant the faithful watch-dog tore
himself loose from his master's detaining grasp and bounded up the bank,
barking fierce and loud at every jump. This must have been what Jack was
thinking of when he left Bose behind. As quickly as he could Marcy got
upon his feet and shouted words of encouragement to his four-footed
friend.

"Pull him down," he yelled. "Pull the spy down and let me see who he
is."

The dog heard the command and probably tried to obey it, for his bark
changed to an angry snarl, and a second later a familiar but frightened
voice cried out:

"Call him off, Mister Marcy! Call him off! He'll eat me up if you
don't."

"It's nothing more than I expected," thought the boy, who was in no
particular hurry to give ear to the entreaty. "Now who is it that
carries news to him from the house? That's the next thing to be found
out."

"Is that you, Hanson?" he exclaimed, as if he were much surprised. "Come
away, Bose. What brought you down here, and why did you come in that
sneaking way? Jack will be mad enough to knock you down," he added, when
he stood face to face with the overseer.

"Why Mr. Marcy, I had no thought of playing the part of a sneak,"
protested the man. "I couldn't make head or tail of what the darkey
tried to tell me, but I knew there was something going on in the creek,
and thought it my duty to come down and take a look at things. I didn't
know you was here."

"You are Union, are you not?" said Marcy, who knew there wasn't a word
of truth in the overseer's story.

"Of course I am, and so are you. So is Mr. Jack."

"Well, if he is, what is that Confederate flag doing in the house?"

"It's put there a purpose to fool folks. The niggers don't know what to
think about it, but I do; and I think it was a good idee on your part.
There's plenty of folks about here who would be glad to see harm come to
you, but I'm watching 'em."

"So am I; and some day, when they least expect it, I will bring some of
them up with a round turn. I hear Jack coming, and you had better get
out of his way. He'd just as soon pick a quarrel with you as not."

But the overseer did not want Jack to pick a quarrel with him, so he
took Marcy at his word. He went away more mystified than ever. Were the
Grays Union or Confederate? He would have given almost anything he
possessed to have his doubts on this point cleared up, and the men for
whom he was working in secret would have done the same thing.



                              CHAPTER XIV.

                          JULIUS IN TROUBLE.

By the time the overseer was out of hearing sailor Jack came up,
followed by two negroes, who carried blankets on their arms. They were
the ones who had been selected to watch the schooner during the night,
and the first words they uttered in Marcy's hearing seemed to indicate
that they were not very well pleased with the duty that had been imposed
upon them. Having learned from their companions that the Stars and Bars
were to be hoisted at her peak on the following morning, they did not
want to have anything to do with her.

"I couldn't find Julius, but I heard of him," said Jack. "He is mad
clear through, and hopes some Union man will walk off with the _Fairy
Belle_ as soon as we rebels turn our backs upon her. I never knew him to
talk as spitefully as I heard he did when he took his bundle back to the
quarter. Now, boys, tow her out to her moorings and look out for her
till we come again. Good-night."

"But, Marse Jack, Ise mighty jubus about dis business; I is for a fac'.
Sposen some of de Union men in de settlement----"

"Well, if any Union folks come here before morning, it will be because
some of you black ones have posted them," interrupted Jack. "The people
in this settlement know our business as well as we know it ourselves, or
think they do, and some of you boys are to blame for it."

"Now, Marse Jack----" began the negroes, with one voice.

"I am not accusing either one of you," exclaimed the sailor. "But if the
shoe fits you, you can wear it. There's one among you who runs to a
certain person with everything that is done in and about the house that
he can get hold of. I know who he is," Jack added, to Marcy's great
amazement, "and can put my hand on him in less than ten minutes. But I'm
not going to do it. I shall let somebody else punish him; and some dark
night, when the ghosts come out of the church-yard and walk around the
quarter----"

"Oh, Marse Jack," cried the frightened blacks throwing down their
blankets and moving closer to the boys for protection. "Don't say dem
unrespec'ful words. If you do, yo' boat sink wid you to-morrer, suah."

"Well, you know it to be a fact, don't you? At any rate I have often
heard some of you say that white things do walk around of nights. I know
it, whether you do or not; and some night, when you are all asleep in
the quarter, and I am away on the water fighting for the flag I believe
in, something, I don't know just how it will look, will walk into a
certain cabin down there and take a man out: and it will be a long time
before you will hear of him again. You'll be astonished when you wake up
the next morning. But you two will be all right if you keep still
tongues in your head. If you don't, I'll not answer for the
consequences."

"But, Marse Jack----" began one of the negroes.

"I can't waste any more time with you," said the sailor impatiently.
"Haven't I told you that I don't know how the thing will look when it
gets ready to go to work? I don't even know when it is coming; _but it
is coming._ You may depend upon that. Now take the schooner out to her
moorings and keep an eye on her till morning."

The astonished Marcy, who did not understand the situation any better
than the frightened blacks did, fully expected so hear them refuse duty;
but Jack had so worked upon their feelings that they were afraid to do
it. Out of pure mischief he had often done the same thing before, by
telling them of the wonderful adventures he had met at sea. He had seen
lots of mermaids riding on the waves and dressing their hair with the
combs they had taken from the pockets of drowned sailors; had often
listened to the entrancing music of sirens, who, seated on submerged
rocks in mid-ocean, had played their harps for all they were worth in
the hope of drawing his ship to destruction; and once the vessel on
which he was sailing had a two weeks' race before it could get away from
the whale that swallowed Jonah. This whale got hungry once every hundred
thousand years; and whenever that happened he sunk the first ship he
came to and made a meal off the crew. But Jack himself always came off
safe by reason of the powers of a charm which he carried in his
ditty-bag. This wonderful charm not only brought him good luck in
everything he undertook, but enabled him to give a wide berth to those
who sought to do him harm, and to turn the tables upon them whenever he
saw fit to do so. Without saying another word in protest, the two
negroes stepped into the skiff and made ready to tow the schooner to her
moorings, while the boys faced about and started for the house.

"Jack, what in the name of sense are you up to now?" demanded Marcy,
when he could speak without fear of being overheard.

By way of reply the sailor laughed heartily but silently, and poked his
brother in the ribs with his finger.

"I know you have made the darkeys afraid of you by telling them your
ridiculous stories, and I am ashamed to say that I have backed up all
you have said to them," continued Marcy. "But I don't see why you
stuffed them up that way to-night. It wasn't true, of course."

"All sailors are strictly truthful," replied Jack. "But seriously,
Marcy, I never told a straighter story than I told those blacks a while
ago, when I warned them that some morning they would find a man
missing.

"Jack," said Marcy, suddenly, "what is it that has been taking you out
of the house so much of nights during the last two weeks? Mother and I
have often thought we would ask you, but have as often come to the
conclusion that when you were ready to let us know, you would tell us."

"And a very wise conclusion it was," answered Jack. "By leaving me
entirely alone, you have thrown no obstacles in my way."

"But if you were working up anything, why didn't you take me into your
confidence?" said Marcy reproachfully.

"Because one can hide his movements better than two. Besides, I did not
see my way clearly, and I didn't want to raise any false hopes. But I
think the thing is cut and dried now, and as sure as you live," here he
sunk his voice to a whisper, "there'll be the biggest kind of a rumpus
in the quarter some morning; and if mother happens to be awake, she will
wonder why she doesn't hear the horn."

"Why won't she hear it?"

"For the very good reason that there will be no one there who has a
right to blow it."

"_Jack!_" Marcy almost gasped.

"Well, you wait and see if I don't know what I am talking about,"
replied the sailor.

"Where will Hanson be on that particular morning?"

"I can't tell. I only know that he will be gone, that he will not be
likely to trouble you and mother any more, for a while at least, and
that the whole thing will be so very mysterious that such fellows as
Shelby and Allison will be frightened out of their boots; and, Marcy,"
added Jack, speaking in a still lower whisper, "you needn't go back to
the _Hattie_ if you don't want to."

"Jack, I wish you would tell me just what you mean," said Marcy
impatiently.

"All right. Give me a chance and I will. But, in the first place, what
was Bose barking at while I was gone? He acted as though he was getting
ready to bite something or somebody. Was it Hanson?"

"That's just who it was," replied Marcy.

"And did Bose hold him until you had opportunity to speak to him!"
continued Jack. "All right. That was what I left him for. I don't care
now what Hanson told you, for I don't suppose there was a word of truth
in it; but what did you think when you spoke to him?"

"I said to myself that one eavesdropper had been brought to light, and
that the next thing would be to find out who it is that carries news to
him from the house," replied Marcy.

"Exactly. Well, there's no one that carries news, but there is a little
nig who used to take him a pack of lies every day," replied Jack, "and I
know who it is. That was what I meant when I told those two darkeys
awhile ago that I could put my hand on the talebearer in less than ten
minutes. It's Julius."

"Jack, you are certainly dreaming," exclaimed Marcy, growing more and
more amazed.

"If you should try to take my measure on the ground right here, you
might find that I am tolerably wide awake," replied the sailor, with a
laugh. "I have had several talks with the overseer, all unbeknown to you
and mother, and by taking it for granted that he was a good rebel, I
caught him off his guard a time or two (but that wasn't a hard thing to
do), and learned, to my surprise, that somebody was keeping him very
well _mis_informed regarding the doings in the house. Of course that
excited my curiosity, and after thinking the matter over I took Julius
by the neck one day when I happened to catch him alone, and frightened
the secret out of him."

And this was the secret, which Jack told in as few words as possible,
for he knew that his mother was anxiously awaiting his return. Julius
was one of the few servants who were allowed the freedom of the house;
but, like many others of his race, he was somewhat given to laying
violent hands upon things that did not belong to him. He was rarely
detected, and when he was he generally succeeded in lying out of it, and
of course this made him bolder; so when he saw Mrs. Gray's valuable
breastpin lying exposed on her dressing-table, he slipped it into his
pocket, made his way from the house without being seen, and went behind
one of the cabins to admire it. But, as bad luck would have it, the
overseer, who never did things openly and above board as other folks do
them, came "snooping" along the lane and caught him in the act.

"What's that you've got there?" he demanded.

"Wha--what thing, Marse Hanson?" stammered Julius.

"That thing you're putting in your pocket," replied the overseer.  "Hand
it out, or I'll wear this rawhide into slivers on your black hide."

"Look a yer, Marse Hanson," exclaimed Julius. "My missus don't 'low no
white trash of a oberseer to whop de house servants. I tell you dat."
And before the words were fairly out of his mouth the little darkey took
to his heels and ran like a deer.

"All right," shouted Hanson. "Run away if you want to, and I will go to
the missus and tell her that you've got something of hers--some of her
gold things. You won't lie me down, either, like you done the last time,
for I seen you have 'em."

This dreadful threat reached the ears of the thief and stopped his
flight. He turned about and faced the overseer.

"And then do you know what the Missus will say to me?" the latter went
on. "She'll say, 'Mister Hanson, take this boy to the field and put him
to work. He ain't fitten to stay about the house.' And when I get you
into the field," he added, shaking his riding-whip at the culprit,
"won't I see that you handle them hoes lively? I reckon not. Come here
and give me that, I tell you."

"You'll lick me if I come back," said Julius.

"No, I won't tech hide nor hair of ye. Honor bright."

"And won't ye tell de Missus, nuther?"

"Well, that depends on whether I do or not," replied Hanson evasively.
"If you'll mind every word I say to you and jump the minute you hear the
word, I won't tell her. Come here, now."

Not being able just then to discover any other way out of the scrape,
Julius tremblingly obeyed. When the overseer took the stolen pin in his
hands his eyes seemed ready to start from their sockets.

"Do you know what you've went and done, you thieving nigger?" he said,
in a mysterious whisper. "What do you reckon these yer things is
scattered round 'mongst this gold?"

"Glass, ain't they?" faltered Julius.

"Glass, you fule! They're diamonds. They cost more'n a hundred thousand
dollars, and that's more'n a dozen such niggers as you is worth," said
Hanson, who was not very well versed in figures.

This incident happened at the beginning of the troubles between the
North and South, and about the time that everybody was supposed to be
"taking sides." All the people in that part of the country, with but a
single exception, had declared for secession (whether they were sincere
or not remains to be seen), and that single exception was Mrs. Gray, who
could not be coaxed, cajoled, or surprised into saying a word in favor
of one side or the other. Of course this did not suit the red-hot rebels
in the vicinity, and as they could not find out anything themselves,
they bribed Hanson to try his luck; but he was at fault, too. The
trouble with him was, he did not live in the great house, but close to
the quarter, which was nearly half a mile away; he had nothing whatever
to do with the house servants; and he was pretty certain that those he
found opportunity to question, did not always take the trouble to tell
him the truth. He must have a reliable ally in the house--some one who
was in a position to hear and see everything that was said and done by
the inmates, who must not, of course, be given reason for believing that
they were watched. Until this episode of the breastpin occurred, Hanson
did not know how he was going to get such an ally; but he thought he had
found him now.

"I'll keep these yer diamonds till I find out whether or not you are
going to do Jest like I tell you," said the overseer, putting the
jewelry into his pocket.

"But, Marse Hanson," protested the darkey, "it ain't right for you to
keep dat thing."

"Now listen at you," said the overseer angrily. "Wasn't you going to
steal it? I ain't. I'm only going to hold fast to it a little while to
see if you are going to do like I tell you. If you do, the Missus will
get her pin back, and she won't never know who took it; but if you
don't, I'll have you in the field where I can find you every time I
retch for you. Now listen. I reckon you know that Mister Marcy is coming
home from school one of those days, don't you? Well, when he comes, I
want you to find out if he's Union or secesh. What's the Missus
anyway?"

"She's jes' the same that you be," replied Julius.

"Look here, nigger," said the overseer, in savage tones, "that won't go
down. You're Union, ain't you?"

"Oh, yes sar. Ise Union if you is."

Hanson raised his whip and Julius dodged like a flash.

"'Tain't what I want, and you know it well enough," the man shouted. "I
want to know for a fact--for a fact, mind you--what them folks up to the
great house is; which side they leans to, Union or Confederate. And if
you don't come down to my house this very night after dark with some
news of some kind, I'll take these yer diamonds straight to the Missus
and tell her where I got 'em. You know what I mean, so cl'ar yourself."

Glad to escape the whip with which the overseer constantly threatened
him while he was talking, Julius lost no time in making his way to the
great house; but he did not go near Mrs. Gray till she summoned him into
her presence to ask him if he had been in her room that day. Of course
he hadn't been upstairs at all, not even to "tote up de wash-watah, kase
dat was de gals' work and not his'n."

"I never heard that mother lost a breastpin," said Marcy, when Jack had
got this far with his narrative. "Did she find it again? Did Hanson give
it up?"

Instead of replying in words, Jack took hold of a small cord that
encircled his neck, and pulled his ditty-bag from beneath the bosom of
his flannel shirt. This he opened with great deliberation, taking from
it a small vial and a package wrapped in a piece of newspaper.

"What have those things to do with mother's breastpin?" demanded Marcy.
"What's in that bottle?"

"That vial contains my charm; and a most potent one it is," said the
sailor gravely.

"If you don't quit your nonsense and come to the point, I will leave you
and go into the house," said Marcy angrily.

"I'll bet you won't. This thing is getting interesting now, and it will
not be long before it will be more so," answered Jack. "Look at that!"

He had been unwrapping the newspaper while he was talking, and Marcy was
struck dumb with astonishment when he saw him bring the lost breastpin
to light.

"Jack," he faltered, "where did you get it?"

"The charm brought it. Hold on, now," exclaimed Jack, when his brother
turned away with an ejaculation indicative of the greatest annoyance and
vexation. "It helped bring it, and a little common sense, backed by an
insight into darkey nature, did the rest. Now, don't break in on me any
more. Mother will begin to wonder what's keeping us."

When Julius came to ponder the matter, he found that he was in the worst
scrape of his life. A house servant considered it an everlasting
disgrace to be sent to the field, and Julius thought he would about as
soon die or take to the swamps, one being as bad as the other in his
estimation. But there was one thing that could be said in his favor: He
was loyal to every member of the family in whose service his father and
mother had grown gray. Although he could not possibly tell the truth,
and found it hard to keep his nimble fingers off other people's
property, the tortures of the whipping post, if there had been such a
thing on the plantation, could not have wrung from Julius a word or a
hint that could be used to their injury. He didn't like to work, but he
knew he would have to if he was not ready with "some news of some kind"
that very night. But what could he do when there wasn't any news? In his
extremity he bent his steps toward the barn where old Morris was busy
washing the carriage.

"Say," he began.

"Look here, nigger," replied Morris, straightening up as quickly as a
jack in the box, "who you calling 'Say'? If you can't put a Mister to my
name, cl'ar yourself and don't bother me no more."

"Say, Mistah Morris," repeated Julius, taking another start.

"That's better," said the coachman approvingly. "What was you going to
deserve?"

"Say, Mistah Morris, we uns is all Union, ain't we?"

"Jest listen at the chile. G'long, honey. What you know 'bout
politicians? Course we is all Union; all except the overseer, and he
ain't fitten to live. Run along, now."

Julius was quite willing to obey, for he had learned all he wanted to
know. If Hanson was a rebel, it followed, as a matter of course, that it
would afford him satisfaction to learn that the inmates of the great
house were rebels also; accordingly when the time came for him to make
his report, he was on hand and eager to unburden himself. The overseer,
who was waiting for him, took him into a room and carefully locked the
door behind him. This not only made the darkey feel a little uneasy, but
it stimulated his inventive faculties as well.

"What do you know?" Hanson inquired, taking his pipe from the mantel
over the fireplace. "Have you heard anything?"

"Well--I--yes, sar," stammered Julius, as if he did not know how to
begin. "I--oh, yes, sar. Is you Union?"

"Of course I am," replied Hanson. "Every white man is."

"Den you ain't got no call to have truck wid de Missus. If she find out
dat you is Union, she chuck you off'n de place quick's a cat kin bat her
eye. She don't like Linkum. I hearn her say so dis bery day."

"Are you telling me the truth?" asked Hanson, looking sharply at the
darkey, who met his gaze without flinching.

"If I ain't telling you de fac's ob de case, you kin w'ar dat rawhide o'
your'n out on me quick's you please," said the boy, earnestly. "If you's
Union you best dig out, kase de Missus put de secesh on you suah," added
Julius, hoping that the man would act upon the suggestion and leave
before morning.

"But I don't want to give the Missus warning till I know that she's got
money enough to pay me."

"Oh, yes, sar; she got plenty ob money," declared Julius, whereupon
Hanson began pricking up his ears. "I seen her have as much as a dollah
dis bery day. I seen it wid my own two eyes."

"A dollar," sneered the overseer. "She owes me more'n that, and she's
got more'n that. She's got a bushel basketful hid away somewhere; and
Julius, if you will find out where it is, and tell me and nobody else, I
will give you a piece of money just like that."

As he said this he put his hand into his pocket and brought out a
twenty-dollar gold piece--a portion of the liberal sum Colonel Shelby
had given him for spying upon the family whose bread he ate. Julius
declared, with much earnestness, that he didn't believe Mrs. Gray had
concealed any money, but if she had he could find it out if anybody
could, and he would bring the news straight to the overseer.

When his supposed ally took his departure Hanson was obliged to confess
to himself that he did not know any more about Mrs. Gray and the money
she was thought to nave in the house than he did before. And we may add
that he never did learn anything through the boy Julius. That astute
darkey was altogether too smart for the overseer, and brought him only
such news as he thought the man wanted to hear; and more than half of
that had not a word of truth in it. In the first place his only thought
and desire was to keep the overseer from telling his mistress that he
stole the breastpin; but as Hanson became more communicative and stood
less on his guard, and the boy's eyes were opened to the startling fact
that Mrs. Gray had an enemy in the overseer, he threw the fear of
punishment to the winds, and set himself at work to defeat all the man's
plans. How he managed to keep his secret was a mystery, for never before
had the negro been known to hold his tongue. But he kept it, and kept it
well until sailor Jack frightened it out of him.



                              CHAPTER XV.

                      THE ENCHANTED LOOKING-GLASS.

Things went on in this unsatisfactory way for a long time--so long, in
fact, that Hanson began to grow discouraged. And well he might, for with
all his scheming he had not been able to add a single scrap of
information to the first report he made to Colonel Shelby. The boy
Julius held manfully to his story--that Mrs. Gray was the best kind of a
Confederate, that she had no money except the dollar she carried in her
pocket-book--and the most cunningly worded cross-questioning could not
draw anything else from him. In process of time Fort _Sumter_ was fired
upon, Marcy Gray came home from school, and then the overseer rubbed his
hands joyously and told himself that he would soon know all about it.
Well, he didn't, but Julius did; and this was the way it came about.

In the ceiling of the dining-room, to which apartment the family usually
betook themselves when they had anything private to talk about, was a
stovepipe hole, communicating with a store-room on the floor above. It
happened that Julius was roaming about the house one day when Mrs. Gray
had company at dinner, and the sound of voices coming up through this
opening attracted his attention. He listened a moment, and found that he
could plainly hear every word that was uttered in the room below; but he
never would have thought of playing the part of eavesdropper if Hanson
had not told him that he was expected to do it. Believing that he could
add to his usefulness and better guard the interests of the family if he
knew more about its private affairs, Julius hastened to the store-room
the minute he saw Marcy and his mother going in to breakfast, and put
his ear directly over the open stovepipe hole, and heard some things
that made him tremble all over. There was money in the house after
all--thirty thousand dollars all in gold; it was hidden in the cellar
wall, and he could earn a nice little sum by carrying the news straight
to the overseer, as he had solemnly promised to do; but he never thought
of it. On the contrary he strove harder than ever to make Hanson believe
that there was not a dollar in the house beyond the one Mrs. Gray kept
in her pocket; because why, hadn't he heard her tell Marse Marcy so with
his own two ears? If the overseer did not say "money" during their
interviews, Julius did; but he did not dwell long enough on the subject
to arouse the man's suspicions. More than that, Julius was brave enough
to "take the bull by the horns," and one day he disheartened the
overseer by declaring:

"I seen something dis day, Marse Hanson, dat done took my breff all plum
away; I did so. Marse Marcy he come home a purpose to go into our army;
and his mother she cried and cried, and pooty quick she say: 'My deah
boy, dat man Linkum mus' be whopped; dat am de facs in de case'; and den
she slap him on de back and sick him on. Yes, sar. I done see dat wid my
own two eyes dis bery day."

The reason Hanson was disheartened was because he had been promised a
liberal reward if he could bring evidence to prove that Mrs. Gray was
opposed to secession, and that her journeys to Richmond and other cities
had been made for the purpose of drawing funds from the banks; and when
Marcy backed up the young negro's bold statement by shipping on board
Captain Beardsley's privateer, Hanson came to the sorrowful conclusion
that it was not in his power to earn that reward. He was none too good
to bear false witness against Mrs. Gray, but he was afraid to do it.
Sailor Jack might come home some day, and--well, Hanson had never seen
sailor Jack but he had been told that he was a good one to let alone.

The long-expected wanderer returned in due time, and the wide-awake
little negro was the second on the plantation to find it out, Bose being
the first. Julius slept in the back part of the house, so close to
Marcy's room that if the latter wanted anything during the night, all he
had to do was to open his window and call out, and consequently it was
no trouble at all for him to catch every word that passed between Jack
and his brother. He was not far off when the sailor was admitted at the
front door, and when he saw the reunited family go into the dining-room,
he bounded up the back stairs into the store-room and placed his ear at
the stovepipe hole--not because he wanted to repeat anything he heard,
you will understand, but because he wanted to know what subjects to
steer clear of in his interviews with the overseer. When he heard that
Jack had passed himself off for a rebel, that he had brought a smuggler
into a Southern port, and that he had made considerable money out of the
sale of his venture, Julius thought it would help matters if the news
were spread broadcast; and he lost no time in spreading it among the
negroes, and by their aid it reached Nashville before the boys went
there for their mail the next morning. He told about the _Hattie's_
adventure with the steam launch, also (of course he made it more
thrilling than it really was), and that was the way Captain Beardsley's
daughter came to know so much about it; but he never said a word
concerning Jack's short captivity in the hands of the _Sumter's_ men.

After Jack had been at home long enough to find out how things stood, he
set himself at work to learn who it was that kept certain people in the
neighborhood so well posted in regard to his mother's private affairs.
He said not a word to anybody, but worked in secret, for he believed
that his efforts would result in the unearthing of a spy who lived in
the house. It would add to his mother's troubles if she knew that Jack
believed, as she did, that there was some trusted servant who kept an
eye on her movements and went to the overseer with a report of them--so
he kept his own counsel, and laid siege to Hanson the very first thing.
The latter wasn't sharp enough to hold his own with any such fellow as
Jack Gray, and Jack learned all he cared to know about Hanson in less
than two days. The next step was to find the servant on whom the
overseer depended for his information. This looked like a hopeless task,
but fortune favored him. One morning he stood in front of the mirror in
Marcy's room performing his toilet. The door, which was behind and a
little to one side of him, was open, and the lower end of the long hall
was plainly reflected upon the polished surface of the looking-glass. So
was the slim, agile figure of the small darkey who slipped out of one of
the rooms, ran along the hall with the speed of the wind, and
disappeared down the back stairs.

"That's Julius," said Jack, whose first thought was to call the boy back
and make him give an account of himself. "He has been up to some
mischief, I'll warrant; but I will see if I can find out what it is
before hauling him over the coals."

So saying Jack stepped into the hall, and the first door he opened was
the one leading into the store-room. There was the open stovepipe hole,
and through it voices came up from the room below. He bent a little
closer to it, and distinctly heard his mother tell one of the girls to
put breakfast on the table and ring the bell for the boys. In an instant
the whole secret flashed upon him. He said not a word, but as soon as he
returned from the post-office, and Marcy had ridden to the field to
carry some instructions to the overseer, Jack went up to his room,
leaving orders with one of the girls to send Julius there at once. When
he came, the first thing Jack did was to lock the door and put the key
in his pocket.

"Now, Julius," said he, in his most solemn tones, his face at the same
time taking on a fierce frown, "if you are an innocent boy, if you have
been strictly honest and truthful ever since I have been at sea, if you
have obeyed your mistress and kept your hands off things that do not
belong to you----"

"Oh, Marse Jack," exclaimed the frightened boy. "Suah hope to die I
nevah----"

"Don't interrupt me," commanded Jack, with a still more savage frown.
"I'll show you in a minute that I have it in my power to find out just
what you have done while I have been gone, from the time you stole----"

"Marse Jack, I nevah took dat breastpin; suah hope to die if I did,"
began Julius.

"Hal-lo!" thought Jack. "I've got on to something when I least expected
it. That's what comes of knowing how to handle a darkey. I didn't even
know that mother had lost a breastpin."

"I haven't asked you whether you stole it or not," he said, aloud.
"There is no need that I should ask you any questions, for I have a way
of finding out everything I want to know. If you have been an honest,
truthful boy during the last two years, sit down in that chair; but I
warn you that if you are deceiving me, it will drop to pieces with you
and let you down on the floor. Sit down!"

"Oh, Marse Jack," cried the darkey, backing away from the chair. "Don't
I done tol' you dat I didn't took it?"

"Do you stick to that story?" demanded Jack.

"Yes, sar. I stick to it till I plum dead."

"All right. I hope you are telling me the truth, and I'll very soon find
out whether you are or not. The Yankees are coming right through this
country some day, and I don't want to give you up to them, as I am
afraid I shall have to do. You have heard Aunt Mandy tell her
pickaninnies what awful fellows the Yankees are, have you not? Why,
Julius, it scares me to think of them. If a live Yankee was in this room
this minute,--don't get behind me, for I wouldn't try to help you if one
should walk in and carry you off,--if one came in and sat down in that
chair that will fall to pieces if you touch it, and you should take off
his hat and his right boot, you would find that he had horns and a
cloven hoof--a hoof like an ox instead of a foot like yours."

"Look a hyar, Marse Jack," exclaimed Julius, clinging to the sailor with
one trembling hand while he pointed toward the wash-stand with the
other. "Wha--wha' you doing da'? Wha' dat white stuff for?"

While Jack was telling the boy what terrible fellows the Yankees were
supposed to be, he had slowly and solemnly filled a goblet with water
from the pitcher, and then in the same solemn and deliberate way drew
forth his ditty-bag and took from it a small bottle containing a
harmless-looking white powder known to the druggists as citrate of
magnesia. He held it at arm's length as if he were afraid of it, and
that made Julius so weak with terror that he could scarcely keep his
feet.

"Do you want to know what--look out for yourself, now! If it explodes
when I remove the cork, look out! Do you want to know what this is?"
said Jack. "Then I must whisper the words to you, for it would never do
to say them out loud. It is my enchanted looking-glass--my fetich--my
voodoo charm."

That was too much for Julius. With a wild scream he jumped for the door;
but it was locked, and he could not get out.

"Now watch," continued Jack, who knew that he would get at the truth of
the whole matter in a minute more. "To begin with, I shall command my
enchanted looking-glass to show me the likeness of the villain who stole
that breastpin; and in the next, I shall tell it to show me the place
where it is now. Now, stand by to look in and tell me who you see
there."

He poured a small portion of the white powder into the goblet, whose
contents at once began to bubble and boil in the most unaccountable
manner. When the water boiled up to the top and ran over on the
wash-stand, Jack commanded Julius to look in and tell him what he saw
there; but the boy sprang away and curled himself up on the floor in the
farthest corner of the room.

"Come here!" said Jack sternly. "You won't? Then I'll look myself. Ah!
What is this I see? Julius, come here this instant and tell me who this
is."

Jack emphasized the order by taking the negro by the back of the neck
and lifting him to his feet; but he soon found that he could not hold
him there without the use of more strength than he cared to put forth.
Julius was like an eel in his grasp. As fast as he raised him from the
floor he would somehow manage to slip back again; and all the while he
begged and pleaded so loudly that Jack was forced to desist for fear
that his mother would hear the uproar, and come to the door to ask what
was the matter.

"You are afraid to look in that goblet and you dare not sit in the
chair," said Jack at length. "That proves that you did take the pin. Now
where is it? If I have to fill my enchanted glass again, I'll make you
look in it whether you want to or not. Where is it?"

              [Illustration: THE ENCHANTED LOOKING-GLASS.]

"De oberseer got it," was the reply that made the sailor wonder whether
he was awake or dreaming. "Suah's you born, de oberseer done made me gib
it to him."

Jack had not the least doubt of it, but in order to test the boy's
sincerity, he told him to sit down in the chair, assuring him, at the
same time, that he had nothing to fear. As he had atoned for his guilt
by making a confession, the chair would hold him up as it would anybody
else. Julius tremblingly obeyed, and when he found that the chair really
did support him, he gained courage, and with a little questioning told
the whole story pretty nearly as we have told it, with this difference:
He omitted some important items which we have been obliged to explain in
order to make the narrative clear to the reader. It was a very nice
scheme, Jack told himself, but he had not yet got the game as completely
in his own hands as he determined to have it.

"Julius," said he impressively, "do you know what will happen to you if
you fail to prove the truth of this most remarkable tale? You'll be sold
down South before the week is over. A darkey who has been as carefully
brought up as you have wouldn't last long in the cotton fields."

"But, Marse Jack," said Julius earnestly, "I kin prove dat I ain't tole
you nuffin but the gospel truth. I kin fotch you de pin; but you musn't
luff de oberseer whop me."

"He shall not put a hand on you," Jack assured him. "Keep away from the
quarter, take no more reports to him, and I will stand between you and
all harm."

As he said this he unlocked the door, and the darkey disappeared like a
flash. He was gone about half an hour, and when he returned he handed
Jack the breastpin, which was wrapped in a piece of newspaper. The
overseer being away in the field and his cabin unlocked, it was a matter
of no difficulty for the darkey to rummage his bureau drawers until he
found the object of which he was in search. Whether or not Hanson ever
discovered that he had been robbed of the "charm" that gave him such
power over Julius, Jack never knew. If he did, he never said a word
about it while he remained on that plantation.

But this was not the only good work Jack Gray did during the first two
weeks he passed at home. When the _West Wind_ was a day out from Boston,
he accidentally learned that one of his best foremast hands was a
resident of his own State, and that his father, who was a strong Union
man, lived but an hour's ride from Nashville. Of course the two became
friends at once. All the lightest and easiest jobs about deck seemed to
fall into Aleck Webster's hands, and Jack won the good will of his mess
by taking it upon himself to see that their food was not only abundant,
but that it was well-cooked and properly served. They talked over the
situation as often as they could get together, and not knowing just how
matters stood at home they concluded that they had better not recognize
each other after they reached Newbern. If, after they had passed a few
days at their respective homes, they thought it safe to do so, they
could very easily bring about a meeting, and who could tell but that
they might find opportunity to work together for the good of the old
flag, or for the relief of some persecuted Unionist? Jack knew of one
Unionist who was persecuted by being watched by rebel neighbors, and
that one was his mother. He and Webster met at the post-office one
morning, but they met as strangers. In fact his shipmate was a stranger
to all present, for his father, who was a small farmer, had moved into
that section from Georgia while Aleck was at sea. Having the misfortune
to be a "cracker," or a poor white, Mr. Webster was rather looked down
on by such men as Colonel Shelby and Major Dillon, but Jack Gray was not
that sort. Aleck was a good sailor, and such a man was worth more in a
gale at sea than a landsman who could call upon his bank account for a
hundred thousand dollars.

During his first interview with his old shipmate Jack Gray heard some
things that made him open his eyes. It was true, as he afterward told
Marcy, that the Union men in the neighborhood were few in number, and
that they dared not say out loud that their souls were their own; but
they were well organized, and by no means afraid to follow the example
set them by the rebels, and act in secret. Aleck said that there were
about twenty of them all told, and no one could join their company
unless he was vouched for by every man in it. They calculated to defend
themselves and one another. They would not go into the Confederate
service, and if they were crowded upon too closely they would take to
the swamps and fight it out with any force that might be sent against
them. They were well armed and resolute, and Aleck said they would be in
just the right humor to deal with Hanson's case when it was brought to
their notice at their next meeting.

"My mother rather took me to task because I helped that smuggler into
port, but if you can give me the assurance that these Union men will
stand between her and that cowardly overseer she's got on the place, I
shall be glad I became a smuggler for the time being," said Jack.

"I can give you that assurance, Mr. Gray," said Aleck positively.
"That's just what the company, or society, or whatever you have a mind
to call it, was got together for. I know, because I was present at their
last meeting, and the whole thing was explained to me before I took the
oath to stand by it. Why can't you come down and join us?"

"We're not on board ship now, and my name is Jack. There's no Mister
about it," was the reply. "I am in full sympathy with you and with the
object for which you have been brought together, and if I was going to
stay at home I should surely ask you to hand in my name. But my mother
will be defenseless when I go into the navy and Marcy leaves to join
that blockade-runner, and if Shelby and Beardsley and Hanson should find
out that I knew there was an organization like yours in existence, they
would burn up everything we've got. We can't discharge Hanson without
bringing ourselves into serious trouble; and if you fellows could think
up some way to drive him off the place, and bring old Beardsley home so
that my brother wouldn't have to go blockade running any more, you would
make us all your everlasting debtors."

"If you wanted to write to this Captain Beardsley you would address him
at Newbern, wouldn't you? All right. We meet somewhere in the woods next
Wednesday night, and then we will talk it over and see what can be done
for you."

Jack Gray always was light-hearted and jolly, no matter whether things
worked to suit him or not; but Marcy and his mother thought they had
never seen him quite so much at peace with himself and all the world as
he appeared to be after this interview with Aleck Webster. If those
Union men were in earnest and did what his shipmate thought they
certainly would do, there might be a fight right there on the
plantation; and that was the reason Jack did not take his mother into
his confidence. To quote from Marcy, she had enough to trouble her
already. If the attempt to drive the overseer from the place was made
and resulted in failure, it would probably lead to some vigorous action
on the part of Colonel Shelby and his friends; and that was the reason
Jack did not tell Marcy of it. If a difficulty arose, he wanted Marcy to
be able to say that he did not know a thing about it. But this
particular night might be the last one he would ever spend with his
brother, and he thought it prudent to make a clean breast of the
matter.

"That is my story," said Jack, in conclusion. "What do you think of
it?"

"I think you have worked to some purpose," replied Marcy, who could not
yet understand how Jack had done all this without his knowledge. "But
there is one thing you have yet to explain. You told me that I need not
go back to the _Hattie_ if I don't want to. I certainly do not want to,
but how shall I get out of it?"

This was the way Jack explained that. On the Thursday morning following
the day on which he held his first interview with Aleck Webster, he met
him again, and the young fellow had startling news for him. After the
two had seated themselves on a low fence a little way from the store,
Aleck fastened his gaze upon a paper he held in his hand and said:

"It is just as I told you it would be. Our men were all mad when I told
them that Unionists, and women at that, were being mistreated right here
under their very noses, and them setting around like bumps on a log and
doing nothing to stop it, and it's my private opinion that if that
overseer of your'n had been handy last night, they would have used him
rough. He'll get out; I can promise you that."

"Well, look here, Aleck. My brother is going to take me down to the
blockading fleet in a few days, and I wish you wouldn't make a move
until we are gone. Then folks can't say we had a hand in it or knew
anything about it."

"Very good, sir. We'll look out for that. And perhaps you and your
brother will be glad to learn that Captain Beardsley will be warned
to-day that if he don't quit blockade running and bringing in supplies
for the Confederacy, he will miss some of his buildings when he gets
back."

"That will bring him sure," said Jack gleefully. "You can't touch him in
a worse place than his pocket. But you didn't say anything about his
forcing Marcy into the rebel service, did you? For if you did, he'll
bounce my folks the minute he gets home."

"If he tries it, may be he'll miss some more buildings when he gets up
in the morning," said Aleck.

"But he'll not let you or anybody know that he is working against them,"
said Jack. "He's too sharp for that."

"If anything happens to your folks we will lay it to him and act
accordingly," said Aleck, with a laugh. "But the man who was told to
write that letter to Beardsley will take care to word it so that he
can't lay the blame on any one person's shoulders. You tell your brother
that if he doesn't want to go blockade running again, he needn't go; for
his schooner is about to quit the business."

"Do I know any of those Union men?" inquired Marcy.

"Probably you are acquainted with all of them, but they will make no
sign," replied Jack. "The only one I know is Aleck Webster. I tell you
it was a lucky thing for all of us when Captain Frazier took me aboard
the _West Wind._ Now you take charge of this pin, and when the agony is
all over, when Beardsley has been brought home and Hanson has been taken
care of, give it to mother and tell her how you came by it. Perhaps the
story will prove as interesting to her as I hope it has been to you.
Now, let's go into the house. She will wonder what is keeping us out so
long."



                              CHAPTER XVI.

                          OFF FOR THE FLEET.

Mrs. Gray was always uneasy when the boys were out of her sight, and
that was not to be wondered at, for they so often brought her bad news
when they came back. But on this particular evening they had no news of
any sort, except that which shone from their radiant faces. Marcy
thought he had good reason to feel light-hearted, for was he not getting
the better of the secret enemies of whom he and his mother had stood so
much in fear? Julius would carry no more reports to Hanson; Hanson
himself would soon disappear from their sight; Captain Beardsley would
be compelled to stop blockade running; and Colonel Shelby and his
friends would have to act with the greatest caution in order to escape
the vengeance of the Union men who held secret meetings somewhere in the
woods. That was good news enough for one night, and Marcy was sorry that
he was obliged to keep it from his mother. It was long after midnight
when the boys went upstairs, and there they passed another half hour in
ripping up one of Marcy's bed quilts to get at the flags that had been
stitched into it.

"I hope there are no more privateers on the coast," said Marcy, as he
drew one of the flags from its hiding place.

"So do I," replied Jack, "for if we should happen to run foul of one of
them, my Confederate colors would be no protection whatever. The
boarding officer would very naturally inquire: 'What are you doing out
here so near the blockading fleet?' and no answer that we could give
would satisfy him. Why don't you take the old one? It would be a pity to
have that nice piece of silk whipped to tatters by a Cape Hatteras
gale."

"My friend Dick Graham gave me that old flag," answered Marcy; "and I
told him that the next time it was hoisted it would be in a breeze that
was not tainted by any secession rag. I want to keep my promise if I
can. Now, I will put what is left of the quilt in my trunk where mother
can find it in the morning." After that the boys went to bed, but not to
sleep. Marcy was too nervous. Thinking over the details of the
remarkable story his brother had told him during the evening, and
speculating upon the possible results of his trip to the blockading
fleet, effectually banished slumber; and seeing how restless he was.
Jack was considerate enough to stay awake to keep him company. The time
passed more rapidly than it generally does under such circumstances, and
it did not seem to them that they had been in bed an hour before they
heard their mother's gentle tap at the door, and her voice telling them
that the day was breaking.

"I told her we shouldn't need a warm breakfast," said Marcy. "But this
looks as though she had stayed up all night on purpose to have one ready
for us."

The only thing the boys had to do before they left the room was to hide
some papers which they did not want anybody to see while they were
gone--to wit, Marcy's leaves of absence, signed by Captain Beardsley,
and the letter of recommendation that the master of the smuggling vessel
had given Jack. These they slipped under the edge of the carpet, where
the boys thought they would be safe (they little dreamed that the time
would come when that same carpet would be torn up and cut into blankets
for the use of Confederate soldiers); but the papers which related to
the part he had taken in rescuing the brig _Sabine_ from the hands of
the _Sumter's_ men, Jack put carefully into his pocket. They were
documents that he would not be afraid or ashamed to show to the officers
of the blockading fleet.

That was the last breakfast that Jack Gray ate under his mother's roof
for long months to come. Realizing that it might be so, it required the
exercise of all the will power he was master of to keep him from showing
how very gloomy he felt over the coming separation. He was glad when the
ordeal was over, when the last kiss and the last encouraging words had
been given, and he and Marcy, with the two rival flags stowed away in a
valise, were on their way to the creek. Greatly to Marcy's surprise,
though not much to Jack's, they found the little skiff which did duty as
the _Fairy Belle's_ tender drawn out upon the bank, and Marcy was almost
certain that he saw the woolly head of the boy Julius drawn out of sight
behind the schooner's rail.

"What's the meaning of this?" he demanded. "Where are the
ship-keepers?"

"Let's go aboard and find out," replied Jack, with a twinkle in his eye
which said that he could tell all about it if he were so inclined. "I
was afraid we would have to tow out to the river; but this is a topsail
breeze that will take us down there without any trouble at all. Take the
valise and get in and I will shove off."

Marcy had plenty of questions to ask, but knowing that his brother would
not take the least notice of them unless he felt like it, he stepped
into the tender and picked up one of the oars. A few sturdy strokes
sufficed to lay the skiff alongside the schooner, and the first thing
Marcy did when he jumped aboard, leaving Jack to drop the small boat
astern, was to look down the hatchway that led into the forecastle.
There stood Julius, as big as life, with his feet spread out, his hands
resting on his hips, and a broad grin on his face.

"What are you doing there, you imp of darkness?" exclaimed Marcy.
"Didn't you understand that we don't want any Abolitionists aboard of us
this trip?"

"G'long now, honey," replied the boy, turning his head on one side and
waving Marcy away with his hand. "Ise heah 'cording to Marse Jack's
orders."

"That's all right," said Jack, who had come aboard by this time and was
making the skiff fast to the stern. "You see," he added, coming forward,
"I wanted to make all the darkeys on the place think that I am going
down to Newbern to join the rebel gunboat that so many people seem to
think is being built there."

"Aw, g'long now, Marse Jack," said Julius. "Mebbe de niggahs all fools,
but dey ain't none of dem b'lieves dat."

"You hold your tongue," said Jack good-naturedly. "Perhaps our darkeys
are all right, and perhaps they are not. It won't do in times like these
to trust too many with things that you don't want to have scattered
broadcast over the neighborhood. Our nigs all know, Marcy, that you have
been in the habit of taking Julius with you on all your trips about the
coast, and when I told him to stay behind I did it with an object. I
meant to take him and he knew it. You will need his help coming back,
and his presence will give weight to the story we are going to tell the
blockaders."

"But what will the hands say when they miss him?" inquired Marcy. "What
will mother think?"

"Dey'll all think I done took to de swamp," declared Julius, with such a
hearty guffaw that it made the boys laugh to hear it. "Dat's what I tole
'em all I going to do, and I ain't nevah coming back no mo' till Marse
Marcy come too."

"You see he played his part well. There's the chink I promised you,"
said Jack, tossing a gold coin down to the boy, who scrambled for it as
though some one was trying to get it away from him.

"But what has become of the two ship-keepers?" said Marcy. "They were
told to remain on board till we came."

"Law-zee, Marse Marcy," exclaimed Julius, with another laugh, "you jes'
oughter see dem niggahs hump demselves when I swum off to de schooner
and cotch de bob-stay. 'Oh, dere's one of dem white things,' dey holler;
but I ain't white and I knows it, and den dey run for de skiff and jump
in and go off to de sho' so quick you can't see 'em for de foam dey riz
in de watah."

"Did you scare them away?" exclaimed Marcy.

"I reckon so, sar; kase dere ain't nobody but Julius been on de schooner
or 'bout it sence dat time."

"Well, let's get to work," said Jack. "Julius, you stay below till I
tell you to come up, do you hear? If I see so much as a lock of your
wool above the combings of the hatch, I'll chuck you over for the
catfish."

A laughing response from the black boy showed just how much he feared
that the sailor would carry this threat into execution; but it kept him
below, and that was what Jack wanted. As matters stood now, Julius could
account for his absence from the plantation by saying that he had got
angry and run away because Jack ordered him to stay ashore; but he
couldn't say that with any hope of being believed if any of the settlers
along the coast saw him on board the schooner.

If Jack Gray had been so disposed, he could have taken the _Fairy Belle_
into Pamlico Sound without showing her to the Plymouth people at all,
for a small stream, called Middle River, and its tributaries, ran
entirely around the city behind it, and out of sight of the
fortifications that the Confederates had thrown up on the banks of the
Roanoke. Starting from Pamlico River below Roanoke Island, a small boat,
manned by those who were acquainted with the windings of the different
channels, could come up through Middle River and Seven Mile Creek,
passing within a few hundred yards of Captain Beardsley's house and Mrs.
Gray's, and strike the Roanoke two miles above Plymouth. Please bear
this in mind, for it is possible that we may have to speak of two
expeditions that made use of these rear waterways to avoid the
Confederate batteries. But there was no danger to be apprehended from
the Plymouth people. The danger would come when the schooner passed
outside and drew near to the blockading fleet; and that was the reason
Jack had thought it best to disguise her.

The breeze being light and the channel crooked, it took the schooner an
hour or more to work out of the creek under her jib, but when the rapid
current of the Roanoke took her in its grasp, and the fore and main
sails were run up, she sped along at a much livelier rate. As the _Fairy
Belle_ approached the town the roar of the morning gun reverberated
along the river's wooded shores, and the Confederate colors were run up
to the top of a tall flagstaff.

"Now comes something I don't at all like," said Jack. "We will run our
own rebel rag up to the peak, and when we come abreast of the town we'll
salute the colors on shore."

"How do you perform that ceremony anyhow?" asked Marcy.

"By lowering and hoisting the flag three times in quick succession,"
replied Jack. "It takes two to do it as it ought to be done, but of
course you can't manage the halliards with only one hand. All I ask of
you is to hold the wheel. I don't suppose those haymakers in the fort
will have the sense to answer the salute, but we don't care for that. It
may save us the trouble of going ashore to listen to questions that we
can't answer with anything but lies."

The first gray-coated sentry they passed looked at them doubtfully, as
though he did not know whether it was best to halt them or not, but
probably the sight of the flag they carried settled the matter for him.
At any rate he did not challenge them, and neither did any of the other
sentinels they saw along the bank; but one of the numerous little groups
which had assembled, as if by magic, to see them go by, hailed them with
the inquiry:

"Where do you uns think you are going?"

"We hope to see Newbern some day or other," was Jack's reply. "Now stand
by the wheel, Marcy, and I will see what I can do with the halliards."

The ceremony of saluting the Confederate flag was duly performed, but,
as Jack had predicted, no notice was taken of the courtesy. The soldiers
looked on in silence, and probably there was not one among them who knew
why the _Fairy Belle's_ colors were hauled down and up again so many
times; but when Jack made the halliards fast to the cleat and took his
brother's place at the wheel, the same voice called out:

"Will you uns bring us some late papers when you come back?"

The sailor replied that he would think about it, and then he said to
Marcy:

"You want to have your wits about you when you pass this place on your
way home. If they hail you and ask where your partner is, you can tell
them that I am in the navy. If they inquire where Julius was that they
didn't see him when we went down, he was below attending to his duties;
and if they ask about the papers, you were so busy that you couldn't get
them."

The next place where Jack wanted to show his captured flag was in
Croatan Sound. The Confederate force which had been mustered to defend
these waters, having been compelled to abandon, one after the other, all
the forts they had erected to defend the various inlets leading to the
open sea, were concentrating on Roanoke Island, which they were
preparing to hold at all risks. They were building forts, fitting out
gunboats, and sinking obstructions in the channels. Everything was well
under way when the boys went through, their captured banner serving as a
passport here as it had done at Plymouth. They took the deepest interest
in all they saw, little dreaming that the day would come when the big
guns, which now offered no objection to their progress, would pour a hot
fire of shot and shell upon both of them. Sailor Jack would have been
delighted if some one in whom he had perfect confidence had assured him
that such would be the case, but Marcy would have been overwhelmed with
astonishment.

"This island is already historic," said Jack, as the little schooner
dashed by the unfinished walls of Fort Bartow, and he waved his hat in
response to a similar salute from one of the working party on shore,
"and it'll not be many weeks before it will be more so."

"What has ever happened here to give this lonely island a place in
history?" inquired Marcy.

"I am surprised at you," answered Jack. "Here you are, a North Carolina
boy born and bred, and you don't know the history of your own State.
Well, I didn't know it, either, until I happened to pick up an old
magazine, thousands of miles from home, and read something about it--not
because I cared a snap for history, which is awful dry stuff to me, but
because I had nothing else to do just then. Of course you know that many
of the Croatan Indians, who have gray eyes and speak the English
language of three hundred years ago, claim to be descendants of Sir
Walter Raleigh's lost colony, don't you? Well, that colony was planted
here in 1585 on the shores of Shallow Bag Bay, which lies on the seaward
side, and a little to the northeast of the fort we just passed. They
were the forerunners of the English-speaking millions now on this side
of the big pond. Here, on the 18th of August, 1587, Virginia Dare, the
first white American, was born. The county of which this island forms a
part was named after her family. Now tell Julius to bring up some
supper, and while we are eating it we'll take a slant over toward the
main shore. There may be some sailor men among those soldiers for all we
know, and, if they are watching our movements, we want to make them
believe that we are holding a course for the lower end of the Sound, and
that we have no intention of going near any of the inlets."

Up to this time Julius had kept below out of sight; but his forced
inactivity did not wear very heavily upon him, for he had been asleep
all the while. He was prompt to respond to Marcy's call, and took Jack's
place at the wheel while the two boys were eating the cold supper he
brought up for them. It was quite safe for him to stay on deck now, for
it was almost dark, and besides it was not likely that he would be seen
by any one on shore who knew him. When he had satisfied his appetite
Jack hauled down the Confederate colors and asked his brother where he
should hide them.

"It looks to me like a dangerous piece of business for you to hide them
anywhere," replied Marcy, who had been thinking the matter over. "It
looks sneaking, too. We are all right and we know it. We are never going
to get through Crooked Inlet without meeting that steam launch or
another one like her, and if the officer in command shouldn't be
satisfied with your story or with your papers either, and should take it
into his head to give the _Fairy Belle_ a thorough overhauling, then
what? If he found that flag stowed away in some secret place, he'd make
prisoners of us, sure pop."

"If I didn't think it would be of use to you when you come back I would
tie a weight to it and chuck it overboard," said Jack. "On the whole I
think we'd better not try to hide it. The honest way is the best where
Yankees are concerned. I'll put it in the locker alongside our own
flag."

It was about twenty-five miles across the Sound to Crooked Inlet, and
the schooner covered this distance in four hours. Of course Captain
Beardsley's buoys had been lifted and carried away long before this
time, and the only safe way to take the vessel into open water was to
pull her through with the skiff which was towing astern. Although that
would involve three or four hours of hard work, it was not a thing to be
dreaded; but the thought of what they might meet before or after they
got through, almost made Marcy's hair stand on end.

The night being clear and starlight, Marcy had no trouble in piloting
the _Fairy Belle_ into the mouth of the Inlet. Then the sails were
hauled down, the skiff was pulled alongside, and a tow-line got out.

"Now, Julius," said Jack impressively, "stand by to turn over a new
leaf. Quit lying and tell the honest truth."

"Now, Marse Jack," protested Julius.

"I know what you want to say," interrupted the sailor, "but we have no
time for nonsense. I don't care what sort of lies you tell those rebels
round home, but nothing but the truth will answer our purpose here.
We've got to go aboard some ship--we can't get out of that; and while
the captain is questioning Marcy and me, some other officer may be
questioning you. If your story doesn't agree with ours in every
particular, all of us will find ourselves in trouble. Tell them who we
are, where we came from, why we are here, and all about it."

"But, Marse Jack," said the darkey, who seemed to have forgotten
something until this moment, "I dunno if I want to go 'mong dem Yankees.
I don't want to see no horns an' huffs."

"It's too late to think of that now," replied the sailor. "But I will
tell you this for your encouragement: You won't see any horns and hoofs
if you do just as you are told. But if you begin lying, you'll see and
hear some things that will make your eyes bung out as big as my fist.
Crawl over, Marcy, and I will hand you the boat-hook."

Marcy clambered into the skiff followed by Julius, Jack lingering behind
long enough to lash the rudder amidships. Then he also took his place in
the tender and picked up one of the oars, Julius took the other, Marcy
knelt in the bow to feel for the channel with his boathook, and the work
of towing the schooner through the Inlet was begun. There was not a buoy
in sight, and when he removed them the officer whose business it was to
guard that particular part of the coast must have thought he had done
his full duty, for the active little launch that Marcy so much dreaded
did not put in her appearance. They passed through the Inlet without
running the _Fairy Belle_ aground or seeing anything alarming; and it
was not until the broad Atlantic opened before them that the
long-expected hail came.

"Not a thing in sight," said Jack, with some disappointment in his
tones. "I was in hopes we could get through with our business so that
you could return to the Sound before daylight, but perhaps it is just as
well as it is. You want to keep away from those soldiers long enough to
make them believe that you have been to Newbern. Haul the skiff
alongside, and we'll fill away for Hatteras."

"Jack, Jack!" exclaimed Marcy suddenly, "there comes something."

Looking in the direction indicated by his brother's finger, the
experienced sailor distinctly made out the white canvas of a natty
little schooner that was holding in for the Inlet. It was the most
unwelcome sight he had seen for many a day.



                             CHAPTER XVII.

                        AN UNEXPECTED MEETING.

"What is she, Jack?" said Marcy, in a suppressed whisper. "Do you make
her out?"

His voice was husky, and he trembled as he asked the question, for he
knew by the exclamation that fell from his brother's lips that those
white sails were things he did not like to see.

"I make her out easy enough, in spite of her disguise," was Sailor
Jack's reply. "And I would rather meet all the gunboats in Uncle Sam's
navy than her."

"Disguise!" Marcy almost gasped. "You surely don't think----"

"No, I don't think anything about it," Jack interposed. "I know that
that is Captain Beardsley's schooner. I wish from the bottom of my heart
that she had been sunk or captured before she ever caught us here; but
it is too late to get away from her. She will go by within less than
twenty yards of us."

"And do you think Beardsley will know the _Fairy Belle_ in her new
dress?" asked Marcy, who had never before been so badly frightened.

"Being an old sailor he can't help it."

"Of course he will mistrust what brought us out here, and spread it all
through the settlement," added Marcy.

"That is just what he will do," said Jack truthfully.

"And what will Shelby and Dillon and the rest of them do to us--to
mother?"

"You must make it your business to see Aleck Webster as soon as you get
home," replied Jack. "Tell him that Beardsley has returned, that he
caught us out here, and that the time has come for him and his friends
to show their hands. I think you will have time to see Aleck before
Beardsley gets home, because he's got to go to Newbern with his cargo."

All this while Captain Beardsley's blockade-runner had been swiftly
drawing near to the mouth of the Inlet, where the _Fairy Belle_ lay
rising and falling with the waves, and now she dashed by within less
than a stone's throw of them. The boys, who were standing up in their
skiff holding fast to the _Fairy Belle's_ rail, could not see a man on
her deck except the lookout in the bow and the sailor at the wheel. The
lookout was Beardsley himself; Marcy and his brother would have
recognized his tall form and broad shoulders anywhere. He kept his eyes
fastened upon the _Fairy Belle_ as he swept by, but he did not say a
word or change his course by so much as an inch. In five minutes more he
was out of sight.

"Now will somebody tell me what that old villain wants of a pilot?"
exclaimed sailor Jack, as he climbed over the rail and turned about to
help Marcy up. "He knows more about Crooked Inlet than you do, or he
couldn't run it with all his muslin spread and no buoys to mark the
channel."

"I always said he didn't need a pilot," replied Marcy. "He has kept me
with him on purpose to torment mother."

"He'll not do it any longer," said Jack confidently. "You must send word
to those Union men as soon as you get home. If you don't, Beardsley will
make it so very hot for you that by the time the fire gets through
burning mother won't have a roof to go under when it rains. Stand by,
Julius."

Jack and the darkey went forward to hoist the headsails, and Marcy,
filled with the most gloomy forebodings, undid the fastenings of the
wheel and laid his uninjured hand upon one of the spokes. One after the
other the sails were given to the breeze, lights were put out to show
the first cruiser they met that they were honest folks going about
honest business, and Jack came aft to relieve his brother.

"I have been thinking of Barrington," said the latter, as he backed away
and leaned up against the rail. "It has somehow run in my mind that our
little settlement would escape the horrors of war, but the events of the
last half hour have opened my eyes. We're going to see trouble."

"I really believe you are," answered Jack. "And when it comes, you must
show what you are made of. I have no fear but that you will stand up to
the rack like a man."

"It isn't myself I care for; it's mother."

"I know; but when it comes to the pinch you will find that she's got
more pluck than you have. That money is what scares me. If the
suspicions of the authorities become aroused, look out. But don't lisp a
word of that where mother can hear it."

"Oh, Marse Jack," exclaimed Julius, who just then came aft in two jumps,
"de Yankees out da'."

"Out where?" inquired Jack, while Marcy's heart began beating like a
trip-hammer. "Oh, yes; I see them now. Stand by with a lantern,
Julius."

The darkey hastened forward to obey the order, muttering as he went that
Marse Marcy would have to take de light kase he wasn't going nigh dem
Yankees till he seed 'em fust, and the schooner held on her course. What
the boys saw was a bright light shining through the darkness a short
distance off the starboard bow, and what they heard a moment later was
the puffing of a small but exceedingly active steam engine. The light
presently disappeared but the puffing continued, increasing in force and
frequency as the approaching launch gathered headway, and then came the
hail:

"Schooner ahoy!" And almost in the same breath the same voice added:
"All ready with that howitzer."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Jack promptly; and anticipating the next command
he gave the wheel a rapid turn and spilled the sails, while Marcy took
the lantern Julius gave him and held it over the side.

In five minutes more a large launch, carrying a crew of twenty men and a
twelve-pound howitzer in the bow, came alongside, half a dozen pairs of
brawny hands laid hold of the _Fairy Belle's_ rail, and an officer,
dressed in an ensign's uniform, came over the side, being immediately
followed by four or five blue-jackets, armed with cutlasses. What sort
of a reception they expected to meet at the hands of the _Fairy Belle's_
crew it is hard to tell, but they were plainly surprised when they
looked about her deck and found that there was no one there to oppose
them.

"Who are you?" demanded the officer, as Jack slipped a becket over one
of the spokes in the wheel and came forward to meet him. "What schooner
is this and where are you going?"

"This schooner is the _Fairy Belle_ and she is the property of my
brother," answered Jack, waving his hand in Marcy's direction. "We are
going to the blockading fleet. And as to who I am--will you be kind
enough to run your eye over these? They will answer the question for
you."

As Jack said this, he placed his papers in the officer's hand, while
Marcy held up the lantern so that he could see to read them. He was by
no means so surprised as Marcy expected him to be, and the reason was
simple enough. Since the forts at Hatteras Inlet were captured, scarcely
a day passed that some vessel of the blockading fleet did not hold
communication with Union people on shore. There was more love for the
old flag in that secession country than most of us dreamed of. If Marcy
Gray had known this he would not have felt as uneasy as he did.

"I have been on the watch for an audacious little blockade-runner that
slipped by one of our boats into this Inlet a few weeks ago," said the
officer, as he folded the papers and handed them back to their owner.
"You're quite sure you're not the fellow?"

"Do I answer his description?" asked Jack, in reply.

"Well, no; I can't say that you do. But it is very easy to disguise a
vessel of this size."

"And it is just as easy for you to look around and see if I have any
place to stow a cargo," said Jack. "Come below, if you please."

Taking the lantern from his brother's hand Jack led the way through the
standing-room into the _Fairy Belle's_ cabin, where he stopped to throw
back the cushioned top of one of the lockers.

"Here's the flag I have sailed under ever since I was old enough to shin
aloft," said he, taking up the carefully folded Union banner. "The other
is the one Semmes's boarding officer hoisted on the _Sabine_ when she
was captured. When we took her out of the hands of the prize crew I
hauled it down and kept it. It brought us safely by Plymouth and Roanoke
Island, and I hope it will take my brother safely back."

With this introduction Jack went on to give the officer a hasty
description of the state of affairs in and around the settlement in
which his mother lived, and told what the Confederates were doing at
Roanoke Island; and all the while he was leading the officer from one
room to another and showing him all there was to be seen on the Fairy
Belle. But he did not say a word about the _Hattie_. The officer did not
know that that "audacious little blockade-runner" had slipped through
his fingers, and Jack thought it would be the part of wisdom to steer
clear of the subject of blockade-runners if he could. A reference to
them might lead to some questions that he would not care to answer.

"I am entirely satisfied with your story," said the officer, when they
returned to the deck. "But, all the same, I shall have to send you to my
commander. I have no authority to act in a case like this."

"Very good, sir," replied Jack. "We are quite willing to go. Do I
understand that you take the schooner cut of our hands?"

"By no means," was the prompt reply. "I will put a petty officer aboard
of you to act as your pilot, and you can run the vessel down yourselves.
I must stay about here till daylight and look out for that
blockade-runner. Bo'son's mate!"

The petty officer stepped forward and received some brief instructions
from his superior, which were given in Jack's hearing.

"These are Union boys, and one of them has come out here to ship," said
the officer. "I want you to pilot him to the _Harriet Lane_. You are not
to interfere with the management of the schooner in any way, for she is
not a prize. She sails under our flag. Tell the captain the same story
you have told me," he added, turning to Jack, "and I think it will be
all right. Good-bye."

With these parting words the officer and his boarding party clambered
down into the launch, which put off to resume her useless vigil at the
mouth of the Inlet; the boatswain's mate, at Jack's request, took his
place at the wheel, and the _Fairy Belle_ filled away on her course.

"All right so far," said Marcy, who breathed a great deal easier now
than he did when the launch first hove in sight. "If the captain of the
_Harriet Lane_ treats us as well as that ensign did, I shall be glad I
came out here."

"He will, sir," said the boatswain's mate, letting go of the wheel with
one hand long enough to raise his forefinger to his cap. "He always
does. We have often had shore boats, come off to us since we have been
on the blockade."

"You have!" exclaimed Marcy, who was very much surprised. "And do you
let them go ashore again when they get ready?"

"Cert'ny, sir. They come and go betwixt two days--not because they are
afraid of us, but because they must look out that the rebels ashore
don't hear of it. Some of the boats get news from Newbern every day or
so."

"We know that," answered Jack. "And we heard a rebel say, not long ago,
that if the Newbern people could find out who it is that sends off the
papers so regularly they would make short work of him. How much farther
have we to go?"

"Not more than ten miles, sir. We'll see our lights directly."

"Do you know anything about this little blockade-runner that your launch
is watching for?" inquired Marcy. "Who is she? What's her name and where
does she hail from?"

"We know all about her, sir, for we chased her once when she was the
privateer _Osprey_. She belongs up Roanoke River, but she runs the
blockade out of Newbern. Her captain--what's this his name is
again?--Beardsley, used to be a smuggler; and if we get our hands on him
we'll be likely to remember him for that. Our Uncle Sam ain't so broke
up yet but what he can deal with men who have violated his laws."

"I hope to goodness you may get your hands upon him," thought Marcy, who
was surprised at the extent and accuracy of the blue-jacket's
information. It proved beyond a doubt that there were Union men ashore
who kept the Yankee commanders posted, and Marcy wished he knew who they
were. He might find it convenient to appeal to them if he and his mother
got into trouble with Captain Beardsley.

The strong breeze being in her favor, the _Fairy Belle_ made good speed
along the coast, and in due time the warning lights of the Union war
vessel showed themselves through the darkness. It was not customary for
the Union cruisers to show lights and thus point out their position to
vessels that might approach the coast with the intention of running the
blockade, but being anchored off an inlet that was known to be in full
possession of our forces, the captain of the _Harriet Lane_ knew that no
such vessels would come near him. While the blue-jacket was explaining
this to the boys, a hoarse voice came from the gunboat's deck.

"Schooner ahoy!" it roared.

"No, no!" replied the man at the _Fairy Belle's_ wheel.

"That's a little the queerest answer to a hail _I_ ever heard," was
Jack's comment.

"Be ready to stand by the sheets fore and aft, for we must round to
under her stern and come up on her port side," said the boatswain's
mate. "The answer was all right, sir, and in strict accordance with
naval rules. Had I been a captain, I should have given the name of my
ship. Had I been a wardroom officer, I should have answered, 'Ay, ay!'
But being neither one nor the other, I gave the same reply that the
steerage officers have to give."

"And what answer would you have given if the admiral was aboard of us?"
inquired Jack.

"I should have said 'Flag,' sir. You give different replies for
different ranks so that the officer of the deck may know how to receive
the people that are coming aboard. It would make him awful mad if you
gave such an answer that he would extend wardroom honors to a steerage
officer. Now, stand by to slack away and haul in."

Five minutes' skilful manoeuvring sufficed to bring the schooner around
the stern of the gunboat and up to an open gangway, in which stood the
officer of the deck and one of the ship's boys, who held a lighted
lantern in his hand. To the former the boatswain's mate reported:

"A shore boat, sir, with a couple of Union boys aboard. Mr. Colson sent
me down here with her. One of 'em wants to ship, sir. He's got papers."

"Let them come aboard," said the officer.

"It was easy enough for Jack to obey the order, for the gangway was low;
but Marcy, having but one hand to work with, required a good deal of
assistance. As there was considerable swell on, Julius and the
boatswain's mate remained on board the schooner to fend her off with the
aid of boat-hooks.

"I have come off to ship under the old flag, sir," was the way in which
Jack introduced himself and his business.

"Are you an able seaman?" inquired the officer.

"I am, sir, and there is the proof."

Jack produced his papers, and the officer of the deck read them by the
light of the lantern, Marcy improving the opportunity to make a hasty
inspection of his surroundings. He didn't see much except the big guns
which had aided in the reduction of the forts along the coast, the
quartermaster on the bridge, and a few men lying on deck, apparently
fast asleep, but he took note of the fact that everything was as neat as
his mother's kitchen. By the time he had made these observations the
officer had finished reading Jack's letters of recommendation. When he
handed them back, all he had to say was:

"So you have had some experience with that pirate, Semmes, have you? I
wish we had been around there about the time he captured your vessel. We
will attend to your case in the morning. The doctor and paymaster are
asleep, and it isn't worth while to rout them out just to ship one
man."

"It will not be necessary for my brother to lie alongside all night,
will it, sir?"

"Oh, no. Boatswain's mate, you go back and report to Mr. Colson."

"Very good, sir," replied the petty officer, with his linger to his
cap.

"May I make bold to inquire if you have any papers aboard that you can
spare?" continued Jack, who would not have thought of asking such a
question if he had had a blue shirt on and been sworn into the service.
"We'd like some Northern papers, if you have them, for as we are
situated we get the news from only one side."

In response to this request the messenger boy was commanded to run down
to the wardroom and bring up any papers he might find on the table
there, and while awaiting his return Jack turned to say a parting word
to his brother.

"Now Marcy," said he, "you've got to look out for yourself--and for
mother. Not knowing what dangers you are likely to meet, I can't give
you a word of advice; you will have to be on the alert and act according
to circumstances. See Aleck Webster at the post-office, and tell him to
put a stopper on those secret enemies of ours the first thing he does.
You have seen me talking with him, and will know him the minute you see
him. I shall trust you to communicate with me as often as you can,
though I can't ask you to write to me. Tell mother you left me well and
in good spirits. Good-bye."

"Why, my lad, things must be in a bad way in your part of the country,"
said the officer of the deck, who had heard all Jack had to say to his
brother.

"They are indeed, sir," answered the sailor. "It is easy enough for you
Northern folks to be loyal to the old flag, but it is as much as one's
life is worth down here."

The messenger boy having returned by this time, Marcy took the papers he
handed him, gave Jack's hand a parting shake, and was assisted over the
side.

"Shove her bow off, Snowball," commanded the boatswain's mate, as he
moved aft to take his place at the wheel, and let her drift astern.
"Come back here, sir, and sit down," he added, in a vain effort to cheer
Marcy up a little. "He's a fine lad. I'll warrant, that brother of
yours."

"He is, indeed," replied Marcy proudly. "And a sailor man, too, I think
you will find."

He had never before felt so gloomy and downhearted as he did at that
moment, and he didn't care to talk. Calling Julius aft to strike a light
for him, he went into the cabin and tried to read, leaving the
man-of-war's man to sail the schooner, which he was able to do without
help from anybody. In the bundle of papers that the messenger boy gave
him, Marcy was glad to find three that were published in Newbern. These
he kept out to be read at once, intending when he passed Plymouth to
throw them ashore for the soldiers; but the Northern papers he stowed
away in one of the lockers beside the flags. He wanted time to read them
carefully, for he believed they would tell him the truth; and that was
something he had not heard for many a day. It seemed to him that he had
not been below more than half an hour when he heard a hail, to which the
hoarse voice of the man at the wheel responded. A moment later it
added:

"On deck, if you please, sir. I've got to leave you now. My launch is
close aboard."

She was almost alongside by the time Marcy reached the deck, and five
minutes later the officer in command of her again came over the rail;
but this time he came alone. There were no blue-jackets with drawn
cutlasses at his heels.

"I guess you've had luck," were the first words he said. "I don't see
the other fellow anywhere."

"No, sir. We left him aboard your vessel," replied Marcy. "He will be
examined and sworn in in the morning. By the way, what did the officer
of the deck mean when he said that the paymaster was asleep as well as
the doctor? What has the paymaster to do with swearing him in?"

"He or his clerk has to take the descriptive lists, you know, sir,"
replied the sailor. "Then he gets an order from the captain to give the
men their clothes and small stores--tobacco, soap, sewing silk, and the
like, you know, sir. I was told to come back and report to you, Mr.
Colson."

"Very good. Get aboard the launch. Can you and the moke get along by
yourselves?" he continued, turning to Marcy. "I see you have but one
hand."

"Oh, yes, sir; we'll get along all right," answered Marcy, who was very
much afraid that the officer would ask him how he had got hurt. "Seen
anything of that blockade-runner since we left?"

"I haven't seen a thing except this schooner to-night," was the reply;
and Marcy judged from the tone in which the words were uttered that the
officer was much disgusted at being obliged to stay out there all night
in an open boat for nothing. No doubt he would have been still more
disgusted to learn that if he had been two miles farther up the coast he
would have had a chance of capturing the "audacious" little vessel that
he was looking for.

The officer wasted no words in leave-taking, but went at once, and Marcy
Gray felt more gloomy than ever when he found himself alone on the ocean
with nobody but the boy Julius for a companion. He sent the latter to
the wheel and went forward to act as lookout and pilot, intending to
follow Captain Beardsley's example and run through Crooked Inlet under
full sail. He thought he could remember about where the buoys had been
placed, and besides he had the flood tide to help him. If he succeeded,
he would run across the Sound and hunt up some little bay in which he
could go into hiding until such time as he thought it safe to come out
and start for home.

This programme was duly carried out, and the good luck that had thus far
attended him stayed with him to the end. He piloted the schooner through
the Inlet without the least trouble, ran across the Sound without being
seen by anybody, and put into the mouth of a little bayou, where he tied
up and turned in for a much needed rest. He remained there all that day
and the ensuing night, and at sunrise on the following morning ran
Sailor Jack's Confederate flag up to the _Fairy Belle's_ peak, and stood
boldly out for Roanoke Island.



                            CHAPTER XVIII.

                              CONCLUSION.

As soon as the schooner was straightened on her course so that Marcy
could manage her with one hand, he came aft and took the wheel.

"Go below and hide that Union flag," said he. "These rebels may not be
as easily satisfied this time as they were when we went down, and if
they send a boat aboard of us I don't want them to find anything. I
don't care to know where you put the flag. All you have to do is to hide
it where we can find it again when we want it."

Julius was gone not more than five minutes, and when he returned to take
the wheel Marcy walked forward, carrying in his hand one of the Newbern
papers which he had folded and twisted, newsboy fashion, so that it
could be thrown a considerable distance.

The first thing that attracted his attention, after the _Fairy Belle_
passed the foot of the island, was a steamer, whose crew were busy
adding to the obstructions that had already been placed in Croatan
Sound. But there was a wide clear space close under the guns of Fort
Bartow, and into this Julius held his way, passing so near the steamer
that Marcy was able to throw his paper among the crew.

"Newbern," he shouted to the Confederate officer, who flicked up the
paper and waved his thanks. "It isn't a very late one, but it was the
best I could do."

That blockade had been run in safety, but when they reached the head of
the island Marcy found himself menaced by another danger which he was
afraid could not be so easily passed. One of Commodore Lynch's gunboats
was lying there, and when she saw the schooner approaching, she sent one
of her boats off to intercept her. Marcy's hair began to stand on end.

"What have you done with that Union flag, Julius?" he asked.

"Now, jes' listen at you," replied the boy. "What for you want dat flag
now? It hang you, suah."

"I only wished to be assured that you had it safe," said Marcy, as he
ran into the cabin to bring up another paper; and when he returned with
it, he shook it at the men in the boat and beckoned them to come
alongside, Just as if he didn't know that that was what they intended to
do. As the small boat came nearer and began to swing broadside to the
schooner, Marcy raised his hand and Julius spilled the sails.

"You needn't stop," said the young master's mate, who sat in the
stern-sheets. "Throw us a line and we'll tow alongside. Our old man had
a little curiosity to know who you are, where you have been, and where
you belong. Thanks for the paper. What's the news?"

"I didn't get any," replied Marcy. "I saw one Yankee cruiser riding at
anchor off the coast, and also saw one blockade-runner come in. What
sort of a cargo she brought I don't know, for I didn't exchange a word
with any of her crew."

"What's the matter with your hand?" inquired the master's mate.

"De Yankees done guv him dat hand, sar," said Julius promptly. "Dey done
knock him 'mos dead wid a shell."

"The Yankees!" exclaimed the young rebel. "Are you in the service?"

"I was running the blockade when I was hurt," answered Marcy. "But I
wasn't hit by a shell. I was knocked down by a heavy splinter."

"Pass us down your other flipper," said the officer, standing up in his
boat and extending his hand. "I am glad to meet you. When you get the
use of your arm again come aboard of us. We need men, and I know the
captain will be glad to take you."

"He got one brother in de navy now," added Julius, who thought that
Marcy wasn't trying half hard enough to make the boat's crew believe
that he was loyal to the flag that waved above him.

"Is that so? Then if he comes in himself that will make two, won't it?
Well, I will detain you no longer. Come aboard of us if you can, for we
think we are going to see fun here in the course of a few weeks. Good-by
till I see you again. Shove off, for'ard."

"Julius, I am afraid you talk too much," said Marcy, when the boat was
left out of hearing. "If you don't keep still you may get me into
trouble."

"Look a yere, Marse Marcy," said Julius, "Marse Jack done tol' me it
plum time for me to stan' by to tell what's de troof, an' I ain't done
nuffin else sence he tol' me dat. De Yankees did guv you dat hand, you
done got one brother in de navy, an' dat's all I tol' dat rebel. I
didn't say you a rebel you'self, kase dat would be a plum lie; an' all
de black ones knows it."

At the end of two hours a bend in the shore hid the island and Commodore
Lynch's gunboat from view, and as night was drawing on apace, Marcy
began looking around for a suitable spot in which to tie up for the
night. He knew better than to try to pass Plymouth after dark. The
countersign would be out, and not only would he be obliged to go ashore
to get it, but he would also be compelled to land to _give_ it to every
sentry on the bank. That would be a good deal of trouble and might prove
to be dangerous as well. It would give the soldiers off duty a chance to
board the schooner, and that was something Marcy did not want them to
do. They would go all over her, peeping into every locker and corner,
steal everything they could get into their pockets or put under their
coats, and one of them might accidentally find that Union flag. For
these reasons Marcy thought it best to lie by for the night.

"It will bring us home in broad daylight, Julius, and some of the
servants will be sure to see you when you leave the schooner to take me
ashore," said he. "So the story you made up to tell them about running
away to the swamp, will have to be changed to something else. It would
have to be changed any way, for of course Captain Beardsley saw you when
he ran by us at the mouth of the inlet."

"I been thinkin' 'bout dat," answered Julius, "an' I going to tell
nuffin but de troof. Dat's de bes'. I was stowed away on de schooner,
an' you nevah knowed it till you come off in de mawnin' an' cotch me."

Marcy said nothing more, for he did not believe that either of them
could tell a story that would save them from the trouble that Captain
Beardsley would surely try to bring upon himself and his mother. He
would take Jack's advice and lose no time in seeking an interview with
Aleck Webster.

Marcy easily found a hiding-place for the night, and bright and early
the next morning set out to run the last of the blockade--the garrison
at Plymouth. This was accomplished without any trouble at all, the depth
of the water permitting Julius to hold so close in that Marcy could
throw his last Newbern paper ashore. The soldiers scrambled for it as if
it had been a piece of gold, and shouted for him to send off some more;
but Marcy could truthfully say that he had no more, the garrison at
Roanoke Island having got the others. The Northern papers were too
precious to be given to rebels. Those were to be saved for his mother.

In due time the _Fairy Belle_ reached the mouth of Seven Mile Creek, the
sails were hauled down, and Julius, with such slim aid as Marcy could
give him with one hand, began the work of towing her to her moorings. It
took them two hours to do this. When Marcy had seen her made fast to her
buoy he did not get out of the skiff, but sent Julius aboard the
schooner with instructions to put both the flags and the Northern papers
into his valise and hand it over the side. To his great surprise there
was not even a pickaninny on the bank to say, "Howdy, Marse Marcy?" and
he usually found them out in full force whenever he returned from his
sailing trips. Presently Julius got into the skiff to row him ashore,
and followed him to the house carrying the valise in his hand; but even
when they passed through the gate they did not see a person about the
premises, nor a dog, neither. Bose seemed to have "holed up" the same as
the rest. The doors and windows were wide open, but where were the house
servants that they were not singing at their work? Marcy did not know
what to make of it, and Julius gave it as his opinion that something
done been going wrong on the plantation.

"I believe you and Jack, between you, have frightened everybody off the
place," declared Marcy, little dreaming how near he came to the truth
when he said it. "But we'll soon know all about it, for here's mother."

He ran lightly up the steps to greet her as she appeared at the door,
but stopped short when he reached the gallery, for he saw that his
mother was as solemn as her surroundings. She tried to call a cheerful
smile to her face, but the effort was a sad failure.

"What in the world is the matter here?" demanded Marcy, as soon as he
could speak. "Have the hands all run away? Where is everybody? Why is
the place so quiet?"

"Oh, Marcy!" exclaimed Mrs. Gray, motioning to Julius to take the valise
into the house, "such a strange thing has happened since you went away.
Hanson has disappeared as completely as though he had never been on the
place at all."

"Good enough," cried Marcy, giving his mother a bear-like hug with his
one strong arm. "Now we shall be free from his--eh? You don't mean to
say you are sorry he has gone, do you?"

"I don't know whether I am or not," was the astounding reply. "If he had
left of his own free will I should be glad, I assure you; but the manner
of his going frightens me."

"The manner?" repeated Marcy, who was all in the dark.

"Yes. The night after you went away, some of the field hands were
awakened by an unusual noise and went to the door of their cabins to see
a party of fifteen or twenty masked men making off, with Hanson bound
and gagged in the midst of them. They were so badly frightened
that--Marcy," exclaimed Mrs. Gray, holding the boy off at arm's length
and looking searchingly into his face, "do you know anything about it?
Is Jack at the bottom of this strange affair?"

These last words were called forth by the exclamation of surprise and
delight that Marcy uttered when the truth of the whole matter flashed
suddenly upon him. The absent Jack had told him that the morning was
coming when his mother would not hear the field hands called to work
because there would be no one to call them, and his prediction had been
verified. Aleck Webster was true blue, the Union men who held secret
meetings in the swamp could be depended on to hold their rebel neighbors
in check, and Marcy Gray could hardly refrain from dancing with delight
at the thought of it.

"Come in and I will tell you all I know about it," said he, throwing his
arm about his mother's waist and leading her into the hall. "You needn't
worry. Every one of the men who came here that night were your friends
and mine, and they----"

"But who were they?" asked Mrs. Gray.

"It is probable that one of them sailed with Jack when he was on the
_West Wind;_ but who the others were I don't know, and it isn't at all
likely that I shall ever find out," replied Marcy. "Not in the
dining-room, please, because there's a stove-pipe hole in the ceiling
that leads into a room upstairs. Oh, it's a fact," he added with a
laugh, when his mother stopped and looked at him. "A certain person,
whose name I shall presently give you, listened at that pipe-hole time
and again, and took messages straight to Hanson. But you'll not blame
him when you hear my story. Let's go into the back parlor. By the way,
did you find your breastpin?"

His mother said in reply, that she had neither seen nor heard of it
since the day it was stolen.

"Well I've got it safe and sound," continued Marcy; and then he settled
back in his chair and repeated, almost word for word, the story sailor
Jack had told him the night before he left for the blockading fleet. He
told how Julius had taken the pin in the first place, how the overseer
had worked upon his fears to compel him to give it up, and how he had
used the power which the possession of the stolen pin enabled him to
exercise over the timid black boy. Then he described how sailor Jack and
his "Enchanted Goblet" appeared upon the scene; and from that he glided
into the history of Jack's acquaintance with Aleck Webster, and the
interviews he had held with him at the post-office. But there were two
things he did not touch upon--the meeting with Captain Beardsley at
Crooked Inlet, and sailor Jack's fears that the Confederate authorities
might interest themselves in the matter if they learned, through any of
her "secret enemies," that Mrs. Gray kept money concealed in the house.
His mother was profoundly astonished, and when Marcy finished his story
she did not know whether to be glad or frightened. The boy thought, from
the expression of her countenance, that he had added to her fears.

"You don't act as if you were pleased a bit," said he dolefully. "Are
you not glad to know that I can stay at home now? Beardsley has got to
quit business, and of course he can't make any more excuses to take me
away from you. He never did need a pilot, the old rascal. When he reads
the warning letter that is waiting for him in Newbern, he'll fill away
for home without the loss of a moment."

"Of course I am glad that you will not be obliged to go to sea any
more," said Mrs. Gray. "But I don't want those Union men to destroy
Captain Beardsley's property. When you see this man Webster I hope you
will say as much to him."

"If it's all the same to you, mother, I'll wait and see how Beardsley
conducts himself," answered Marcy, who did not like the idea of trying
to protect a man who had done all he could to annoy his mother. "If he
lets us alone, we'll let him alone; but if he bothers us, he had better
look out. When he finds out what those Union men did to Hanson, I think
he will haul in his horns. I wonder if Shelby and Dillon know it?"

"That's another strange thing that happened while you were absent, and I
did not know what to make of it," replied Mrs. Gray. "Of course the
story of the overseer's abduction spread like wild-fire, and I know it
must have reached the village, for the very next afternoon Mr. and Mrs.
Shelby rode out to visit me; and that is something they have not done
before since these troubles began."

"Aha!" said Marcy, in a significant tone. "They began to see that you
were not so helpless as they thought you were, and that it might be to
their interest to make friends with you."

"That is what I think now that I have heard your story," replied his
mother, "but I did not know what to think at the time they made their
visit. I am sorry that I was not more courteous to them, but they were
so _very_ cordial and friendly themselves that it made me suspicious of
them."

"That was perfectly right," said Marcy approvingly. "You did well to
stand on the defensive. Don't let them fool you with any of their
specious talk. They're treacherous as Indians, and would burn your house
over your head to-morrow, if they were not afraid."

"Oh, I hope they are not as bad as that. What do you think these Union
men did with the overseer? They didn't--didn't----"

"Kill him as they ought to have done?" exclaimed Marcy, when his mother
hesitated. "No, I don't think they did; and neither can I guess what
they did with him. But Jack said, in effect, that after he was taken
away he would not bother us again for a long while. Did Shelby ask after
Jack and me?"

"He did; and I told him that you had gone off in the _Fairy Belle._ Mrs.
Shelby hinted that Jack might be on his way to Newbern to join the navy,
and I did not think it worth while to deny it. It seems Jack told young
Allison that if you rode into Nashville alone some fine morning, Allison
might know that Jack was aboard a gunboat. Of course Mrs. Shelby thought
he meant a rebel gunboat."

"Don't you believe it," said Marcy earnestly. "She knew better than that
and so did Allison. Did the hands seem to be very badly frightened over
Hanson's disappearance?"

"There never was such a commotion on this plantation before," answered
Mrs. Gray. "According to the coachman's story, Jack predicted that
'white things' would some night appear in the quarter and carry Hanson
away with them; and although the abductors were not dressed in white,
the fact that they came and did just what Jack said they would do was
terrifying to the minds of the superstitious blacks. I wish Jack would
not tell them such ridiculous tales."

"He'll not be likely to tell them any more for some days to come,"
replied Marcy. "But there was nothing ridiculous about his last story.
It was business, and I think that villain Hanson found it so. Now, if
you will come up to my room and stitch my Union flag into the quilt
where it belongs, I will hand over your breastpin."

When this had been done, Marcy strolled out to the barn to tell Morris
to saddle his horse, and to see what the old fellow thought of the
situation. Just as he stepped off the gallery he heard a piercing
shriek, and hastened around the corner of the house to find the boy
Julius struggling in the grasp of the coachman, who flourished the
carriage whip over his head.

"What are you about, there?" demanded Marcy.

"He going whop me kase I say Marse Jack in de navy," yelled Julius.
"Turn me loose, you fool niggah."

"No, I ain't going whop him for dat, but for lying," said Morris,
releasing his captive with the greatest reluctance, and with difficulty
restraining his desire to give him a cut around the legs as he ran away.
"He say Marse Jack gone on a _rebel_ boat, an' I know in reason dat
ain't so."

"You won't get nuffin mo' outen Julius if you whop him till he plum
dead," shouted the black boy, who had taken refuge behind Marcy and was
holding fast to him with both hands. "I reckon I know whar Marse Jack
gone, kase I was dar."

"Go into the house, Julius. You will be safe there; and, besides, your
mistress wants to see you. Put the saddle on Fanny, Morris, and I will
ride to Nashville. Where's the overseer?"

"Oh, Marse Marcy, we black ones so glad you done come back," exclaimed
the coachman, throwing his whip and hat on the ground, and shaking the
boy's hand with both his Own. "We safe now. Nobody won't come to de
quarter and tote folks away to de swamp when you around."

"Who did it?" asked Marcy.

Morris laughed as he had not laughed before since Marcy went away. "Now
listen at you," said he. "How you reckon a pore niggah know who done it?
Everybody afraid of de niggahs now-days; everybody 'cepting de Union
folks. Going get 'nother oberseer, Marse Marcy?"

"Yes. I think I shall take the place myself."

"Dar now," said Morris, with a delighted grin. "Dem niggahs wuk
demselves to death for you. Now you go in de house an' tell your maw
whar you going, an' I bring de hoss an' holp you in de saddle."

Marcy good-naturedly complied, and hearing voices coming from the
dining-room he went in there, and found Julius listening to a lecture
from Mrs. Gray on the sinfulness of stealing. But Julius defended
himself with spirit, and declared that for once his habit of picking up
any little articles he found lying around loose had been productive of
good to every member of the family.

"When I put dat pin in my pocket, missus, I know I ain't goin' to steal
it," he protested, with so much earnestness and with such an appearance
of sincerity that almost anybody except Mrs. Gray would have believed
him. "I don't do no stealin'. I jes' want to look at de pin, an' I goin'
put it back when I get done lookin' at it. But de oberseer he done took
it away from me, an' dat's de way you find out what sort of a man he is.
No, missus; I don't steal. I always tell de troof."

Marcy Gray did not ride to Nashville with any hope of meeting Aleck
Webster that day, and consequently he was most agreeably surprised when
he saw him standing on the steps of the post-office. He did not look or
act like a man who had been engaged in any underhand business, and
neither did Colonel Shelby, who hastened down the steps and came across
the road to the hitching-rack to help Marcy off his horse.

"So glad to see you safe back," was the way in which he greeted the boy.
"Your brother said that if you came down here without him some day we
might know he was in the navy; so I suppose that is where he is. He
didn't waste much time in going, did he? What's the news from Newbern?"

Marcy cut his replies as short as he could without being rude, and went
into the office to look at his mother's box, which had been emptied by
the coachman half a dozen hours before. He exchanged a very slight nod
and a wink with Aleck Webster as he passed him, and the latter, who
seemed to know just what he meant by the pantomime, mounted his horse
when no one but Marcy was watching him and went down the road toward
Mrs. Gray's plantation. There were plenty of loungers in the office,
young Allison, of course, being one of the most talkative ones among
them, and although they seemed to know where Jack was, they could not
imagine what had become of Hanson.

"I tell you honestly, Marcy, that if it hadn't been for that Confederate
flag in your mother's dining-room, we should have laid his abduction at
your door," said Allison. "But the flag proves that you are all right;
and, besides, you couldn't have had a hand in it, for you were on your
way to Newbern when it happened. It opened our eyes to the fact that
there are traitors among us, and that we must be careful who we talk
to."

"Traitors," repeated Marcy. "I don't know what you are trying to get at.
Hanson told me with his own lips that he was a Union man. Kelsey told me
the same, and brought word to the house that Colonel Shelby and Mr.
Dillon wanted Hanson discharged; but I sent back word that if they
wanted the overseer run o& the place they could come up and do the work
themselves, for I would have no hand in it. I don't want to get my
neighbors down on me if I can help it. If Hanson was a Union man, as he
professed to be (and I don't know whether he was or not, for I would not
talk politics with him), it was Confederates living right around here
who came to the quarter and took him away."

Marcy saw by the astonished look that came to Allison's face that all
this was news to him, and this made it plain that he was not in Colonel
Shelby's "ring." He backed up against one of the counters and glanced
around at his companions, but had not another word to say. The time came
when he was admitted into the "ring," and showed himself to be one of
the most active and aggressive ones in it. To keep up appearances Marcy
bought a paper, took another look at his mother's box and left the
office; and as no one went with him to help him on his horse, he led her
alongside the fence and mounted without assistance. A mile and a half
from Nashville the road followed the windings of a little creek whose
banks were thickly wooded. As he drew near this point he dropped the
reins upon his horse's neck and pulled his paper from his pocket--not
with any intention of reading it, but to be in readiness to answer Aleck
Webster's hail when he heard it. It came before he had ridden twenty
yards farther. The man had hidden his horse in the bushes, and now stood
in the edge of them within easy speaking distance, but out of sight of
any one who might be watching Marcy Gray.

"You are Mr. Jack's brother, ain't you?" said he, as Marcy stopped his
horse and fastened his eyes upon the paper he held in his hand. "I
thought so; and I want to know if you are satisfied, by what we did
while you were gone, that we will do to trust."

"We are more than satisfied," replied Marcy. "We'll never forget you for
it. What did you do with him?"

"Turned him loose with orders never to show his face in the settlement
again. We wanted to take him off to the fleet; but of course we
couldn't, for he wasn't in the rebel service. Shelby was sort of civil
to you, wasn't he? Well, he got a letter, same as Beardsley did, or will
when he gets to Newbern----"

"He's in Newbern now," interrupted Marcy, still keeping his gaze
fastened upon the paper. "We passed him at Crooked Inlet just as we were
going out. That frightened Jack, and he told me to lose no time in
telling you of it."

"That's all right; but Beardsley will not trouble you. We've written
letters to him and Shelby and all the rest telling them that if they
don't stop persecuting Union folks we'll burn everything they've got;
and if that don't quieten them, we'll hang the last one of them to the
plates of their own galleries. Go home and sleep soundly. We'll take
care of you. Where did you leave Mr. Jack?"

Marcy gave a brief history of his run to the blockading fleet and back,
told how very badly frightened his mother's servants were when they saw
the overseer carried away by armed men, and how the circumstance had
affected some of the "secret enemies" of whom they stood so much in
fear; hinted very plainly that if at any time Aleck or any of his
friends found themselves in need of bacon, meal, or money, they could
have their wants supplied at his mother's house, and wound up by urging
him to keep a sharp eye on Captain Beardsley.

"I don't think he will ever trouble you," was Aleck's reply. "At any
rate, he will never make you go to sea again against your will. But if
anything does happen to you after the warning we have given him, we'll
blame him for it, whether he is guilty or not, and some night you will
see his buildings going up in smoke. Is there any one on the road who
will be likely to see me if I come out? Well, then, good-bye."

Marcy put his paper into his pocket and rode away with a light heart,
little dreaming how soon the time would come when another of sailor
Jack's predictions would be partly fulfilled, and he, the well-fed Marcy
Gray, standing sorely in need of some of the bacon and meal he had
promised Aleck and his friends, would steal up to his mother's house
like a thief in the night to get them, starting at every sound, and
keeping clear of every shadow he saw in his path for fear that it might
be an armed man lying in wait to capture him. But that time came. It is
true that Captain Beardsley and his friends did not do anything against
him openly (they were afraid to do that), but they worked against him in
secret and to such purpose that Marcy Gray, forced to become a fugitive
from his home, was glad to take up his abode for a while with the Union
men who lived in the swamp. How this unfortunate state of affairs was
brought about, what young Allison did after he became a member of the
"ring," and how Captain Beardsley, Colonel Shelby, and the rest paid the
penalty of their double dealing, shall be told in the next volume of
this series of books, which will be entitled, "MARCY, THE REFUGEE."

THE END.



The

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BY

Harry Castlemon.



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