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Title: Captain Brand of the "Centipede" - A Pirate of Eminence in the West Indies: His Love and Exploits, Together with Some Account of the Singular Manner by Which He Departed This Life
Author: Wise, H. A. (Henry Augustus), 1819-1869
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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CAPTAIN BRAND, OF THE "CENTIPEDE."

A Pirate of Eminence in the West Indies:
His Loves and Exploits,

Together with Some Account of the Singular Manner
by Which He Departed This Life.

by

HARRY GRINGO,
(H. A. WISE, U.S.N.),

Author of "Los Gringos," "Tales for the Marines," and
"Scampavias."

    "Our God and sailors we alike adore,
    In time of danger--not before;
    The danger passed, both are alike requited:
    God is forgotten, and the sailor slighted."

With Illustrations.



[Illustration: CAPTAIN BRAND.]



New York:
Harper & Brothers, Publishers,
Franklin Square.
1864.

Entered, according to Act of Congress, in the year one thousand
eight hundred and sixty-four, by
Harper & Brothers,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the Southern District
of New York.



CONTENTS
   CHAPTER                                                        PAGE

           Part I
        I. Spreading the Strands                                     5
       II. Calm                                                      7
      III. High Noon                                                15
       IV. Sunset                                                   21
        V. Darkness                                                 24
       VI. Danger                                                   33
      VII. The Meeting and Mourning                                 42
     VIII. Captain Brand at Home                                    44
       IX. Captain and Mate                                         53
        X. An Old Spaniard with One Eye                             61
       XI. Conversation in Pockets and Sleeves                      69
      XII. Doctor and Priest                                        73
     XIII. A Manly Fandango                                         79
      XIV. A Pirates' Dinner                                        85
       XV. Drowning a Mother to Murder a Daughter                   92
      XVI. Nuptials of the Girl with Dark Eyes                     103
     XVII. Doom of Doña Lucia                                      112
    XVIII. End of the Banquet                                      119
      XIX. Fandango on One Leg                                     122
       XX. Business                                                133
      XXI. Treasure                                                138
     XXII. Pleasure                                                144
    XXIII. Work                                                    150
     XXIV. Caught in a Net                                         154
      XXV. The Mouse that Gnawed the Net                           160
     XXVI. The Hurricane                                           166
    XXVII. The Virgin Mary                                         168
   XXVIII. The Ark that Jack Built                                 173

           Part II
     XXIX. Laying Up the Strands                                   179
      XXX. Old Friends                                             186
     XXXI. The Commander of the "Rosalie"                          193
    XXXII. A Splice Parted                                         198
   XXXIII. The Blue Pennant in the Cabin                           201
    XXXIV. The Devil to Pay                                        203
     XXXV. And the Pitch Hot                                       208
    XXXVI. The Chase                                               214
   XXXVII. The Wreck of the "Centipede"                            220
  XXXVIII. Vultures and Sharks                                     226
    XXXIX. Escondido                                               231
       XL. Paul Darcantel                                          236
      XLI. Instinct and Wonder                                     243
     XLII. Truth and Terror                                        247
    XLIII. Peace and Love                                          252
     XLIV. Snuff out of a Diamond Box                              256
      XLV. Lilies and Sea-weed                                     262
     XLVI. Parting                                                 266
    XLVII. Devotion                                                270
   XLVIII. All Alive Again                                         273
     XLIX. The Rope Laid Up                                        278
        L. On a Bed of Thorns                                      288



ILLUSTRATIONS
                                                                  PAGE
  Captain Brand                                           Frontispiece
  "When the Wind Comes from Good San Antonio"                       12
  The Pirates Boarding the Brig                                     26
  The Night Chase                                                   38
  The Pirate Den                                                    47
  The "Panchita"                                                    50
  "He Touched the Bell Overhead as He Spoke"                        65
  A Pirates' Dinner                                                 85
  The Pirate's Prey                                                 94
  "A Supernatural Warning!"                                        116
  Shriving a Sinner                                                124
  "He Crept Forward on Hands and Knees"                            141
  "A Dull, Heavy, Booming Roar"                                    156
  "See If You Can Not Slip That Pretty Silk Rope Over my
      Head"                                                        162
  Building the Boat                                                174
  The United States Frigate "Monongahela"                          183
  "Queer Old Stick, That!" Said the Commodore                      188
  And the Pitch Hot                                                208
  The Stern Chase                                                  217
  "His Right Arm Poised with Clenched Hand Aloft," Etc.            256
  The Old Water-Logged Launch                                      280
  "Now Captain Brand Knew What Was Coming"                         294



PART I.



CHAPTER I.

SPREADING THE STRANDS.

    "Shout three times three, like Ocean's surges,
      Join, brothers, join, the toast with me;
    Here's to the wind of life, which urges
      The ship with swelling waves o'er sea!"

    "Masters, I can not spin a yarn
      Twice laid with words of silken stuff.
    A fact's a fact; and ye may larn
      The rights o' this, though wild and rough
    My words may loom. 'Tis your consarn,
      Not mine, to understand. Enough--"


It was in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and five, and in the
River Garonne, where a large, wholesome merchant brig lay placidly on
the broad and shining water. The fair city of Bordeaux, with its great
mass of yellow-tinted buildings, towers, and churches, rose from the
river's banks, and the din and bustle of the great mart came faintly to
the ear. The sails of the brig were loosed, the crew were hauling home
the sheets and hoisting the top-sails with the clear, hearty songs of
English sailors, while the anchor was under foot and the cable rubbing
with a taut strain against the vessel's bluff bows. At the gangway stood
a large, handsome seaman, bronzed by the sun and winds of about half a
century, dressed in a square-cut blue jacket and loose trowsers, talking
to the pilot--a brown little Frenchman, in coarse serge raiment and
large, clumsy sabots. The conversation between them was carried on
partly by signs, for, in answer to the pilot, the other threw his
stalwart arm aloft toward the folds of the spreading canvas, and nodded
his head.

"_Fort bien! vite donc! mon Capitaine_," said the pilot; "the tide is on
the ebb; let us go. Up anchor!"

"Ay, pilot!" replied the captain, pulling out his watch; "in ten
minutes. The ladies, you know, must have time to say 'good-by.' Isn't it
so, my pilot?"

The gallant little Frenchman smiled in acquiescence, and, taking off his
glazed hat with the air of a courtier, said, "_Pardieu!_ certainly; why
not? Jean Marie would lose his pilotage rather than hurry a lady."

Going aft to the raised cabin on the quarter-deck, the captain softly
opened the starboard door, and looking in, said, in a kindly tone,

"It is time to part, my friends; the pilot says we are losing the
strength of the tide, so we must kiss and be off."

Two lovely women were sitting, hand clasped in hand, on the sofa of the
transom. You saw they were sisters of nearly the same age, and a little
boy and girl tumbling about their knees showed they were mothers--young
mothers too, for the soft, full, rounded forms of womanhood, with the
flush of health and matronly pride tinged their cheeks, while masses of
dark hair banded over their smooth brows and tearful eyes told the story
at a glance. They rose together as the captain spoke.

"_Adieu, chère Rosalie!_ we shall soon meet again, let us hope, never
more to part."

"Adieu, Nathalie! adieu, dearest sister! adieu! adieu!"

The loving arms were twined around each other in the last embrace; the
tears fell like gentle rain, but with smiles of hope and trustfulness
they parted.

"Ay," said the sturdy skipper, as he stood with eyes brimful of moisture
regarding the sisters, "ay, trust me for bringing you together again.
Well do I remember when you were little wee things, when I brought you
to France after the earthquake in Jamaica; just like these little rogues
here"--and he laid his brawny hands on the heads of the children, who
clung to each other within the folds of their mothers' dresses; "but
never fear, my darlings," he went on, "you will meet happily again. Ay,
that you shall, if old Jacob Blunt be above land or water."

A boat which was lying alongside the brig shoved off; the little boy,
who had been left on board, was held high above the rail in the arms
of a sturdy negro, while the mother stood beside him, waving her
handkerchief to the boat as it pulled rapidly away toward the shore.

"Man the windlass, lads!" cried the captain. "Mister Binks, brace round
the head-yards, and up with the jib as soon as the anchor's a-weigh."

The windlass clinked as the iron palls caught the strain of the cable,
the anchor was wrenched from its oozy bed, the vessel's head fell off,
and, gathering way, she moved quietly down the River Garonne.



CHAPTER II.

CALM.

    "It ceased: yet still the sails made on
      A pleasant noise till noon--
    A noise like that of a hidden brook
      In the leafy month of June.
    Till noon we quietly sailed on,
      Yet never a breeze did breathe;
    Slowly and smoothly went the ship,
      Moved onward from beneath."


The great lumbering brig, with yards square, main-sail hauled up, and
the jib and trysail in the brails, lay listlessly rolling on the easy
swell of the water, giving a gentle send forward every minute or so,
when the sluggish sails would come with a thundering slap against the
masts, and the loose cordage would rattle like a drum-major's ratan on a
spree. The sea was one glassy mirror of undulations, shimmering out into
full blaze as the rising sun just threw its rays along the crest of the
ocean swell; and then, dipping down into the rolling mass, the hue would
change to a dark green, and, coming up again under the brig's black
counter, would swish out into a little shower of bubbles, and sparkle
again joyously.

Away off in the distance lay the island of Jamaica--the early haze about
the mountain tops rising like a white lace veil from the deep valleys
below, with here and there a white dot of a cluster of buildings
gleaming out from the sombre land like the flicker of a heliotrope, and
at intervals the base of the coast bursting forth in a long, heavy
fringe of foam, as the lazy breakers chafed idly about the rocks of some
projecting headland. Nearer, too, were the dark succession of waving
blue lines in parallel bars and patches of the young land wind, tipping
the backs of the rollers in a fluttering ripple of cats'-paws, and then
wandering sportively away out to sea.

On board the brig, forward, were three or four barefooted sailors, in
loose frocks and trowsers, moving lazily about the decks, drawing
buckets of water over the side and dashing it against the bulwarks,
while others were scrubbing and clearing up the vessel for the day. The
caboose, too, began to show signs of life, and a thin column of smoke
rose gracefully up in the calm morning air until it came within the
eddying influence of the sails and top-hamper, when a bit of roll would
puff it away in blue curls beyond.

Abaft stood a low, squat-built sailor at the wheel, his striped Guernsey
cap hanging on one of the spokes, and his body leaning, half asleep,
over the barrel, which gave him a sharp twitch every now and then when
the sea caught the rudder on the wrong side. Near at hand, with an arm
around an after top-mast backstay, and head resting over the rail, was
the mate, Mr. Binks, with a spy-glass to his eye, through which he was
peering at the distant hills of Jamaica. Presently, as he was about to
withdraw the brass tube, and as the old brig yawed with her head
inshore, something appeared to arrest his attention; for, changing his
position, and climbing up to the break of the deck cabin, he steadied
himself by the shrouds, and rubbing his eye with the sleeve of his
shirt, he gave a long look through the glass, muttering to himself the
while. At last, having apparently made up his mind, he sang out to the
man at the wheel in this strain:

"Ben, my lad, look alive; catch a turn with them halliards over the lee
wheel; and just take this 'ere glass and trip up to the fore-yard, and
see what ye make of that fellow, here away under the eastermost
headland."

Ben, without more ado, secured the spokes of the wheel, clapped his cap
on his head, hitched up his trowsers, and, taking the glass from the
mate, rolled away up the fore-rigging. Meanwhile Mr. Binks walked
forward, stopping a moment at the caboose to take a tin pot of coffee
from the cook, and then, going on to the topsail-sheet bitts, he
carefully seated himself, and leisurely began to stir up the sugar in
his beverage with an iron spoon, making a little cymbal music with it on
the outside while he gulped it down. He had not been many minutes
occupied in this way when Ben hailed the deck from the fore-yard.

"On deck there!"

"Hallo!" ejaculated Mr. Binks.

"I see that craft," cried Ben; "she's a fore and after, sails down, and
sweeping along the land. She hasn't got a breath of wind, sir."

"Very well," said Mr. Binks, speaking into the tin pot with a sound like
a sheet-iron organ; "come down."

As Ben wriggled himself off the fore-yard and caught hold of the futtock
shrouds to swing into the standing rigging, he suddenly paused, and
putting the glass again to his eye, he sang out:

"I say, sir! here is a big chap away off on the other quarter, under
top-sails. There! Perhaps ye can see him from the deck, about a
handspike clear of the sun"--pointing with the spy-glass as he spoke in
the proper direction.

"All right!" said the mate, as he began again the cymbal pot and spoon
music; "becalmed, ain't he?"

"Yes, sir; not enough air to raise a hair on my old grandmother's wig!"
muttered Ben, as he slowly trotted down the rigging.

The sun came up glowing like a ball of fire. The land wind died away
long before it fluttered far off from the island, and, saving the uneasy
clatter at times of the loose sails and running gear, all remained as
before. It was getting on toward eight o'clock, and while the cook was
dishing the breakfast mess for the crew beneath an awning forward of the
quarter-deck, the captain came up from his cabin below. The stalwart old
seaman stepped to the bulwarks, and, shading his eyes with his hand from
the glare, he took a broad glance over the water to seaward, nodded to
the mate, and said, in a cheerful voice,

"Dull times, matey! No signs of a breeze yet, eh?"

"No, captain," said Mr. Binks; "dead as ditch water; not been enough air
to lift a feather since you went below at four o'clock. But we have
sagged inshore by the current a few leagues during the night, and here's
old Jamaica plain in sight broad off the bow."

"Well, it's not so bad after all, a forty-four days' passage--so I'll
tell my Lady Bird passenger."

Going to the latticed door of the deck cabin, the jolly skipper threw it
wide open, clapped his hands together thrice, and then, placing them to
his mouth like a speaking-trumpet, he bellowed out, in a deep, low
roar,

"Heave out there, all hands! Heave out, Lady Bird and baby! Land ho!"

There came a joyous note from a soft womanly voice within a screen drawn
across the after cabin, mingled with a little cooing grunt from a child,
and presently an inner door swung back, and the sweetest little tot of a
boy came tumbling out into the open space, and sprang at once into the
captain's arms. The little fellow buried his brown curly head into the
old skipper's whiskers, and then, kicking up his fat naked legs, he
laughed and chattered like a magpie.

"Aha! you young scamp, this small nose smells the oranges and cinnamon,
eh? And dear lazy mamma shuts her pretty eyes, and won't look for papa,
and so near home, too!"

Here Madame Rosalie's low sweet voice trilled out merrily in a slightly
foreign accent, while the contralto tones vibrated on the ear like the
note of a harp.

"Ah! _bon capitaine_, how could you deceive me? Still, I forgive you for
telling me last night that we were so far from Kingston. When you know,
too," she went on in her Creole accent, "how I love and want to see my
dear husband these last four years, since you carried him away in your
good big ship. But never mind, my good friend, I shall pay you off one
of these days; and now send, please, for Banou to dress his little
boy."

Scarcely had the worthy skipper reached a bell-rope near at hand, and
given it one jerk, than the cabin door opened, and in stepped a brawny
black, whose bare woolly head and white teeth and eyes glittered with
delight. There was that about his face which indicated intelligence,
courage, devotion, and humanity--those indescribable marks of expression
which Nature sometimes stamps in unmistakable lines on the skin, whether
it be white or black. He was below the middle height, but the large head
was set with a great swelling throat on the shoulders of a Titan. His
loose white and red striped shirt was thrown well back over his black
and broad chest; and putting out a pair of muscular arms that seemed as
massive and heavy as lignum vitæ, the boy jumped from the captain to
meet them; and then sticking his little soft legs down the slack of
Banou's shirt, he ran his rosy fingers in his wool, and shouted with
glee.

"Oho!" said the black, as he passed his huge arms around the little
fellow, and smoothed down his scanty night-dress as if it were the
plumage of a bird, "oho! little Master Henri loves his Banou, eh? Good,
he take bath."

Bearing his charge out upon the quarter-deck beneath the awning, he
pulled a large tub from under a boat turned upside down over the deck
cabin; and then, while the young monkey had scrambled round to his back,
and was beating a tattoo with his tiny fists on his shoulders, Banou
caught up a bucket and proceeded to draw water from over the side, which
he dashed into the tub. When he had nearly filled the tub he felt around
with his black paws as delicately as if he was about to seize a
musquito, and, clutching the kicking legs with one hand, he spun the
little fellow a somersault over his head, and skinning off at the same
time his diminutive frock, plunged him into the sparkling brine, singing
the while in a laughing chant:

    "Dis is the way strong Banou catch him,
    First he strip and den he 'plash him;
    Henri he jump and 'cream for his moder,
    But Banou lub him more dan his broder!"

Here the brawny nurse would souse him head over heels in the sparkling
water, lift him up at every dip, rub his black nose all over him, making
mock bites at the little legs and stomach; and, finally, holding him
aloft, dripping, laughing, and struggling, go on with his refrain:

    "What will papa say when he sees him,
    Picaninny boy dat is sure to please him?
    Big Banou he rub and dress him,
    But little Henri he kick and pinch him!"

All this time the men seated forward on the deck, pegging away deep into
their mess-kids, would pause occasionally, shake their great tarry
fingers at the imp, and chuckle pleasantly with their mouths full of
lobscouse, as if the urchin belonged to them as individual property.

"What a tidy little chap he'll make some of these days," said Ben,
"a-furlin' the light sails in a squall! My eye! wouldn't I like to live
and see him!"

"No, no, messmates," replied that worthy, as he crunched a biscuit and
took a sip of coffee out of the pot, "that 'ere child will, some of
these times, when he's growed a bit, be a-wearing gold swabs on his
shoulders, and a-givin' his orders like a hadmiral of a fleet!"

"Quite right, my hearty! It'll never do for sich a knowin' little chub
to spend his days along shore a-bilin' sugar-cane on a plantation, and
a-footin' up accounts; for, ye mind, he was like the chip as was

    "'Born at sea, and his cradle a frigate,
      The boatswain he nursed him true blue;
    He'll soon learn to fight, drink, and jig it,
      And quiz every soul of the crew!'"

While these old salts were thus carving out a destiny for the youngster,
the black gave him a final souse in the tub, and then holding him up to
drain, as it were, for the last time, exclaimed, while his face lighted
up with pleasure,

"Oho, my little massa! what will papa say to-morrow when he sees his
brave Henri?"

"Ah! how happy he will be, Banou!" said the lovely mother, who had just
come on deck, as she kissed the mouth of the young scamp, while the
black wrapped and dried his little naked body in a large towel.

"Ah! yes, my mistress, we all will be happy once more to get home to
master on the plantation."

"Tell me! tell me, good _capitaine_," said she, turning in a pretty
coquettish way to the skipper, "when shall we get in port?"

It was a sight to see her, in the loose white morning-gown folded in
plaits about the swelling bosom, her slender waist clasped by a flowing
blue sash, the dark brown satin bands of her hair confined by a large
gold filigree pin, and half concealed by a jaunty little French cap,
with the ribbons floating about her pear-shaped ears; and while her
soft, dark hazel eyes were bent eagerly toward the solid old skipper,
her round, rosy, dimpled fingers clasped a miniature locket fastened by
a massive linked gold chain around her neck. Ah! she was a sight to see
and love!

"Tell me, _mon cher Capitaine_ Blunt, how many hours or minutes will it
be before I shall behold my husband?"

The good-natured skipper laughed pleasantly at the eagerness of his
beautiful passenger, and opening his hands wide, he gave vent to a long,
low whistle, and replied,

"When the wind comes from good San Antonio, my Lady Bird--when the
sea-breeze makes--then the old brig will reel off the knots! But see!
just now not a breath to keep a tropic bird's wings out. There, look at
that fellow!"

High up in the heavens, two or three men-of-war birds, with wide-spread
pointed wings, and their swallow tails cut as sharp as knife-blades,
were heading seaward, and every little while falling in a rapid sidelong
plunge, as if in a vacuum, and then again giving an almost imperceptible
dash with their pinions as they recovered the lost space and continued
on in their silent flight.

"That's a sure sign, Madame Rosalie," continued the skipper, "that the
trade wind has blown itself out, and the chances are that this hot sun
will drink up the flying clouds, and leave us in a dead calm till the
moon quarters to-night. What say you, Mr. Binks? am I right?"

"Never know'd you to be wrong, sir," said the mate, with an honest
intonation of voice, as he tried to stare the sun out of countenance in
following the captain's glance.

"_Hélas!_" said the young mother, with a little sigh of sadness, as she
stood peering over the lee rail to the green hills and slopes of the
island, standing boldly out now with the lofty blue mountains cutting
the sky ten thousand feet in mid-heaven; "so near, too; and he is
thinking and waiting for us!"

"Come," exclaimed the skipper, heartily, "the youngster wants his
breakfast!"

[Illustration: "WHEN THE WIND COMES FROM GOOD SAN ANTONIO, MY LADY
BIRD--"]



CHAPTER III.

HIGH NOON.

    "No life is in the air, but in the waters
      Are creatures huge, and terrible, and strong;
    The swordfish and the shark pursue their slaughters;
      War universal reigns these depths along.
    The lovely purple of the noon's bestowing
      Has vanished from the waters, where it flung
    A royal color, such as gems are throwing
      Tyrian or regal garniture among."


High noon! Still the stanch old brig bowed and dipped her bluff bows
into the long, easy swell of the tropics; the round, flat counter sent
the briny bubbles sparkling away in the glare of the noontide sun; the
sails flapped and chafed against the spars and rigging, while the crew
sheltered themselves beneath the awnings, and dozed on peacefully.

Off to seaward a few dead trade-clouds showed their white bulging cheeks
along the horizon, and occasionally a fluttering blue patch of a breeze
would skim furtively over the backs of the rollers; but long before they
reached the brig they had expended their force, and expired in the
boundless calm.

Not so, however, with the large sail that had been seen from the brig in
the early morning. For, with a lofty spread of kites and a studding-sail
or two, she at times caught a flirting puff of air, and when the sun had
passed the zenith she had approached within half a mile or less of the
brig. There was no mistaking the stranger's character. Her taunt, trim
masts, square yards, and clear, delicate black tracery of rigging,
shadowed by a wide spread of snow-white canvas over the low, dark
hull--which at every roll in the gentle undulations exposed a row of
ports with a glance of white inner bulwarks--while the brass stars of
her battery reflected sparks of fire from the blazing rays of the sun,
showed she was a man-of-war.

"She's one of our cruisers, I think, sir," said the mate, as he handed
the spy-glass to the captain; "but Ben here believes contrariwise, and
says she is a French corvette."

"Have to try again, Mr. Binks; for, to my mind, she's an out-and-out
Yankee sloop-of-war. Ay! there goes his colors up to the gaff! so up
with our ensign, or else he'll be burning some powder for us."

Even while they were speaking a flag went rapidly up in a roll to the
corvette's peak, when, shaking itself clear, it lay white and red, with
a galaxy of white stars in a blue union, on the lee side of the spanker;
while at the same instant a long, thin, coach-whip of a pennant unspun
itself from the main truck, and hung motionless in the calm down the
mast. Her decks were full of men, standing in groups under the shade of
the sails to leeward; and on the poop were three or four officers in
uniform and straw hats. One of these last stood for some time gazing at
the brig--one hand resting on the ratlines of the mizzen shrouds, and
the other slowly swinging a trumpet backward and forward. Presently an
officer with a pair of gleaming epaulets on his shoulders mounted the
poop ladder, touched his hat, and waved his hand toward the brig. A
moment after--

"Brig ahoy!" came in a sharp, clear, manly tone through the trumpet.

"Sir?"

"What brig is that?"

"The 'Martha Blunt!' named after my dear old wife, God bless her! and
myself, Jacob Blunt, God bless me!" added the jolly skipper, in a sotto
voce chuckle to the fair passenger who stood beside him.

"Where are you from, and where bound?" came again through the trumpet.

"Bordeaux, and bound to Kingston. We have a free passport from Sir
Robert Calder and Admiral Villeneuve."

There was a wave of the trumpet as the speaker finished hailing, and
then touching his hat to the officer with the gold swabs, and pausing
only a moment, he moved to the other side of the corvette's poop.

"It would be no more nor polite in him to tell us what his name is,
arter all the questions he's axed."

"Don't ye know, Mr. Binks," broke in the captain, "that the dignity of a
man-of-war is sich that it wouldn't be discreet to tell no more than
that she has a cargo of cannon balls, and going on a cruise any wheres?
which ye may believe is as much valuable information as we might get out
of our own calabashes without asking a question."

"You are allers right, Captain Blunt, but I did not tax my mind to think
when I spoke them remarks," said Binks, deferentially.

The cruiser, however, seemed more communicative than the mate gave her
credit for, and a moment after the officer with the trumpet sang out,

"This is the United States ship 'Scourge,' from Port Royal, bound on a
cruise! Please report us."

And again, after a few words apparently with the officer with the
epaulets, the trumpet was raised to his lips, and he asked, "Have you
seen any vessels lately?"

The skipper was on the point of answering the hail, when his mate said,
"Beg pardon, Captain Blunt, but Ben and me made out a fore-and-aft
schooner airly this morning, with sweeps out, pulling in under the
outermost headland there," pointing with his horny finger as he spoke.

"Nothing, sir, but a small schooner at daylight sweeping to windward."

"What?" came back in a clear, quick note from the corvette.

"Small fore-and-after, sir, with sails down and sweeps out, close under
the land."

In a moment two or three officers on the cruiser's deck put their heads
together, several glasses were directed toward the now dim mirage-like
shadow of the island, and the next instant the sharp ring of a
boatswain's whistle was heard, followed by a gruff call of, "Away there!
Ariels, away!"

Immediately a cluster of sailors, in white frocks and trowsers and straw
hats, sprang over the ship's quarter to the davits; and then with a
chirruping, surging pipe, a boat fell rapidly to the water. The falls
were cast off, the cutter hauled up to the gangway, and soon an officer
stepped over the side and tripped down to the boat. The white blades of
the oars stood up on end in a double line, the boat pushed off, the oars
fell with a single splash, and she steered for the brig. Descending down
into the gentle valley of the long swell, she would disappear for an
instant, till nothing but the white hats and feather blades of the oars
were visible; and again rising on the crest, the water flashed off in
foam from her bows as she came dancing on.

In a few minutes the coxswain cried, "Way enough," and throwing up his
hand with the word "Toss," the cutter shot swiftly alongside; the
boat-hooks of the bowmen brought her up with a sudden jar, and the next
moment an officer with an epaulet on his right shoulder and a sword by
his side stepped over the gangway. The skipper was there to receive him,
to whom he touched his cap with his fore finger; but as his eye glanced
aft he saw a lady, and he gracefully removed his cap and bowed like a
gentleman to her. He was a man of about eight-and-twenty, with a fine,
manly, sailor-like figure and air, and with a pair of bright, determined
gray eyes in his head that a rascal would not care to look into twice.

"I am the first lieutenant of the 'Scourge,' sir," he said, turning to
the skipper, "and if you will step this way, I'll have a few words with
you."

This was said in a careless tone of command, but withal with frankness
and civility. The captain led him aft toward the taffrail, but in
crossing the deck the little tot of a boy followed closely in his wake,
and getting hold of the officer's sword, which trailed along by its
belt-straps on the deck, he got astride of it, and seized on to the
coat-skirts of the wearer. The little tug he gave caused the officer to
turn round, and with a cheerful smile and manner he snatched the urchin
up in his arms, kissed him on both cheeks, and as he put him down again
and detached his sword for him to play with, he exclaimed,

"What a glorious little reefer you'll make one of these days! Won't
you?"

"_Oui! oui! mon papa!_" said the little scamp, as he looked knowingly up
in the officer's face.

"Excuse my little boy, sir," said his mother, who was in chase of him;
and then turning to the child with a blush spreading over her lovely
face, "It is not your papa, Henri! papa is in Kingston."

"Ah! madame, I love children. I had once a dear little fellow like this,
but both he and his sweet mother are in heaven now. God bless them!"

A flush of sadness tinged his cheeks, and he passed his hand rapidly
across his eyes, as if the dream was too sad to dwell upon; but changing
his tone, and while with one hand he patted the little fellow's head, he
went on: "Madame lives in Jamaica?"

"Oh yes; I was born there, but my parents were destroyed by an
earthquake when I was quite a little child, and this good captain here
carried my sister and myself to France soon after, where Monsieur--"
here she hesitated and blushed with pleasure--"where I married my
husband, who is a planter on the island. Perhaps you may know Monsieur
Jules Piron?"

"Piron!" said the navy man, with warmth. "Ay, madame, for as fine a
fellow as ever planted sugar! Know him? Why, madame, it is only a week
ago that a lot of us dined with him at his estate of Escondido; you know
it, madame? in the grand piazza which looks down the gorge. But he
behaved very shabbily," said the officer, as his face lighted up gayly,
"for he kept a spy-glass to his eye oftener than the wine-glass to his
lips, in looking out seaward, and in talking of his wife and the little
boy he had never seen."

"Oh, monsieur! you make me so happy," said the lovely woman, as with
sparkling eyes and heaving bosom she cried, "Banou! Banou! this
gentleman has just seen your good master."

The black, who had been standing near and guarding every movement of his
little charge, who was trailing the sword about the deck, immediately
approached the officer, and, falling on his knees, seized his hand and
drew it toward his face.

"Ah! madame, I see that kindness meets with a return as well from a dark
as a fair skin," said the officer, in a low tone, as he gently withdrew
his hand from Banou's grasp.

"But," he continued, turning toward the skipper, as the clear sound of
the cruiser's bell struck his ear, "I must not forget what I came for."

"You say, captain, that you saw a schooner at daylight, eh? This way, if
you please"--as he raised his cap to Madame Piron and walked over to the
other side of the deck. "What was she like?"

"She was reported to me by the mate," replied Jacob Blunt.

"Please send for him."

"Oh! Mr.--a'--"

"Binks, sir," said that individual, touching his hat and making an
awkward scrape at a bow.

"Well, Mr. Binks, did you clearly make out the vessel you saw this
morning under the land?"

"Can't say exactly, sir, as I did; but Ben Brown there was on the
fore-yard, and he got a good squint at her."

"Ah! can I see the man?"

The mate straightway went forward, and, after a few pokes about the lee
waist, Ben was roused out from under the jolly-boat and came rolling
aft.

"_You_ saw the schooner, eh?" said the lieutenant, as if he was in the
habit of asking sharp questions and getting quick answers.

"Yes, sir," said the squat seaman, as he hitched up his knife-belt, and
wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, and took off his cap.

"Where?"

"Here away, sir," with a wave of his paw, "just clear of that bluff
foreland where the gap opens with the Blue Mountain."

"How was she rigged?"

"Bare sticks, sir, not much of a bowsprit, and no sail spread. I see her
first by the flash of her sweeps in the rising sun, as she was heading
about sou'-sou'-east into the land."

"Two masts, you say?"

"Ay, sir; but I thought as 'ow there was a jigger-like yard a-sticking
out over her starn, though I wasn't sartin."

"So!" said the lieutenant, in a musing tone, and with rather a grave
face and compressed lip; "that will do; thank you, my man." Then placing
his hand on the skipper's shoulder, he drew him to one side, out of
ear-shot, and said,

"Captain Blunt, are you much acquainted in these latitudes?"

"Oh yes, sir, me and my old brig are regular traders here, from Bordeaux
to Jamaica, and so home to England."

"No treasure, I presume?" went on the officer, with a smile.

"Why, lieutenant, none to speak of, p'raps; just a handful of dollars
and a guinea or two in the bag for a few sacks of sugar or coffee, or a
pipe of rum, or sich like, on my own account."

"Well, my friend, there is probably nothing to fear, but if the breeze
springs up, keep as close to the corvette as you can, and I shall ask
the captain to keep a look-out for you during the night."

"By the way"--the officer continued in a low tone as he moved toward the
gangway--"in case any thing should happen, you had better hoist a
lantern at your peak or in the main-rigging--we have sharp eyes for ugly
customers, and one or two of them have been particularly troublesome of
late hereabouts."

Turning for a moment to bid adieu to the fair lady passenger on the
quarter-deck, and recovering his sword after a playful struggle with the
youngster, he buckled it around his waist, and, stepping lightly over
the side and into the boat, the oars fell with a single splash, and the
cutter shot rapidly away toward the corvette.



CHAPTER IV.

SUNSET.

    "Light is amid the gloomy canvas spreading,
      The moon is whitening the dusky sails,
    From the thick bank of clouds she masters, shedding
      The softest influence that o'er night prevails.
    Pale is she, like a young queen pale with splendor,
      Haunted with passionate thoughts too fond, too deep;
    The very glory that she wears is tender,
      The very eyes that watch her beauty fain would weep."


Not a breath from the lungs of Æolus. The sun went down like a globe of
fire; but just as it touched the horizon it flattened out into an oval
disk, and, sinking behind a dead, slate-colored cloud, shot up half a
dozen broad rose and purple bands, expanding as they mounted heavenward,
and then fading away in pearly-tinted hues in the softening twilight
until it mingled in the light of the half moon nearly at the zenith.
There lay the island, too, now all clear again, with the blue tops of
the mountains marked in pure distinct outline, and falling away from
peak to peak on either hand, till the sea flashed up in sluggish creamy
foam at the base. The man-of-war birds came floating in from seaward,
high up, like black musquitoes, with their pointed wings wide spread and
heading toward the land, but now with never a quiver to their silent
pinions. A school of porpoises, too, broke water from the opposite
direction, and, crossing and recrossing each other's track, came leaping
and puffing over the gentle swells until they struck the brig's wake,
when they wheeled around her bows, dashed off on a swift visit to the
corvette, and then, closing up in watery phalanx, went gamboling,
leaping, and breaking water again to windward. Presently, along the
eastern horizon, the banks of clouds, which had been lying dead and
motionless all the sultry day, seemed to be imbued with life, and,
separating in their fleecy masses, mounted up above the sea, and soon
spread out, like a lady's fan, in all directions.

"Ho! ho!" shouted Captain Blunt, clapping his hands, "what said I,
Madame Rosalie, when we saw the sun setting up his lee backstays a while
ago? A breeze, eh? Come, Mr. Binks, be wide awake! We shall be bowling
off the knots before the watch is out."

The mate caught the enthusiasm of the skipper, and, jumping up on the
break of the deck cabin, he sang out,

"D'ye hear there, lads? give us a good pull of the top-sail halliards,
and round in them starboard braces a bit! That's your sort! Well, the
head-yards! That'll do with the main! Up with the flying jib, and trim
aft them starboard jib and staysail sheets! There! Belay all."

Meanwhile the corvette, with her lofty dimity kissing the sky, caught
the first light airs before the slightest ripple darkened the surface of
the water; and with her helm a-starboard, and her after-yards braced
sharp up, she silently swung round on her heel, while the spanker came
flat aft, like a sheet of white paper, and with the head-sails trimmed,
she slowly moved athwart the stern of the brig. The sharp whistles of
the boatswain and his mates, piping like goldfinches, were the only
sounds that were heard; and as the cruiser moved on in her course, the
declining moon cast a mellow light over the folds of her canvas, and,
like a girl in bridal attire, she threw a graceful shadow over the
smooth and swelling waters away off to windward.

The sails of the brig, which had begun to swell out in easy drooping
lines, fell back again flat to the masts as the ship crossed her wake.
But as the corvette passed, the officer of the watch on the poop raised
his cap to the lovely woman who was standing out in graceful relief on
the upper cabin deck, with her little boy held up beside her in the
sturdy arms of the black, and placing the trumpet to his lips, said, in
a distinct voice, as if addressing the skipper,

"We shall go about at midnight. Remember the directions I gave you this
morning. _Bon voyage, madame!_" He shook his trumpet playfully at the
boy, who put out his chubby arms with delight to the speaker, and then
hammered away with great glee on the crown of his bearer's head.

"Thank you, sir," said Captain Blunt, who was leaning over the rail; and
then turning to his mate, he added,

"Them Yankees, Mr. Binks, always treats a merchantman like gentlemen on
the high seas, and I never knew one on 'em to turn their backs on
friends or foes. What a pity they ever cut adrift from the Old Country!
Howsoever, matey, it can't be helped, and you had better up with the
port studding-sails, hang out all the rags, and make the old drogher
walk."

Now came the rippling breeze all at once over the sea, fluttering
furtively for a minute or two, so as to make the top-sails of the brig
swell out and then fall back in a tremulous shiver; but again bulging
forward in a full-breasted curve, the vessel felt the tug, and began to
dash the spray from her bluff bows till it fell away beyond the lee
cathead in flying masses of foam. The studding-sail booms rolled out,
the sailors busied themselves aloft in making the additional sail, and
by-and-by the old brig floundered along, the bubbles gurgling out ahead
in the ruffled water, tipping over astern as the crests broke on her
quarter; at times plunging her bows into the rolling swell, but coming
up sturdily again, and so on as before.

Meanwhile the corvette had edged away in a parallel course with the
brig, running past her at first as if she were at anchor, when she let
her topgallant-sails slide down to the caps, and, with the weather clew
of her main-sail triced up, she held way with the brig a mile or more to
windward.

The moon was sinking well down in the west, and the clear, well-defined
crescent was occasionally obscured by the light fleecy clouds moving
under the influence of the trade wind, when, toward eight bells, the
moon gave one pure white glimmer, threw a rippling flood of light over
the waves, and sunk below the horizon. Still the stars twinkled and the
planets flamed out like young moons--masked at intervals by the
darkening clouds as they swept overhead in heavy masses--and tinging the
sea with shade, which would again break out in phosphorescent flashes as
the waves caught the reflection.

"Now, Madame Rosalie," said the kind old skipper, "it is nearly
midnight; take your last snooze in the old barky, and wake up bright and
happy for Port Royal and--you know who, in the morning."

The charming woman had been watching, with soul-rapt gaze, the lofty
hills of Jamaica from the last blaze of the setting sun, and until the
moon too had vanished and left only a dim blue haze over the island. She
started as the captain spoke, gave a deep sigh, kissed her hand to the
good old skipper, said "_Bon soir, mon ami_," and with a smile she
entered her cabin.

The black was seated within the partition of the apartment, near a small
swinging cot, urging it gently to and fro, and watching over his little
charge.

"Good-night, Banou," she said, in patois French; "you may go to bed, and
I will take care of my little boy."

The black grinned so as to show his double range of white teeth beneath
the rays of the cabin lamp, and without a word he moved silently away.
The lady stood for a few moments gazing lovingly at the sleeping child,
and then drawing the miniature from her bosom, she detached it with the
chain from her neck, and after pressing it to her lips, she leaned
softly over the cot and fastened it around the little sleeper. As light
and zephyr-like as was the effort, it caused the little fellow to stir,
and reaching out his tiny arms, while a baby smile played around the
dimples of his cheeks, he clasped his mother's neck.

Ah! fond and devoted mother! That was the last sweet infantile caress
your child was ever destined to give you! Treasure it up in joy and
sorrow, in sunshine and gloom, for long, long years will pass before you
press him to your heart again!



CHAPTER V.

DARKNESS.

    "The busy deck is hushed, no sounds are waking
      But the watch pacing silently and slow;
    The waves against the sides incessant breaking,
      And rope and canvas swaying to and fro.
    The topmost sail, it seems like some dim pinnacle
      Cresting a shadowy tower amid the air;
    While red and fitful gleams come from the binnacle,
      The only light on board to guide us--where?"


On went the "Martha Blunt" with no fears of danger near. The bell struck
eight, the watch had been called, and the captain, taking a satisfactory
look all around the horizon, glanced at the compass, and, with a slight
yawn, said,

"Well, Mr. Binks, I believe I'll turn in for a few hours; keep the brig
on her course, and at daylight call me. It will be time enough then to
bend the cables, for I don't think we shall want the anchors much afore
noon to-morrow. Where's the corvette?"

"There she is, sir, away off on the port beam. She made more sail a few
minutes ago, and now she appears to be edging off the wind, and steering
across our forefoot. I s'pose she's enjoying of herself, sir, and
exercisin' the crowds of chaps they has on board them craft."

"Well, good-night, matey"--pausing a moment, however, as the honest old
skipper stepped down the companion-way, and half communing with himself,
and then, with his head just above the slide, he added, "I say, Mr.
Binks, there's no need, p'r'aps, but you may as well have a lantern
alight and bent on to the ensign halliards there under the taffrail, in
case you want to signalize the corvette. Ah, Banou! that you, old
nigger? Good-night!"

So Captain Blunt went slowly down below, and at the same time the black
went aft, coiled himself down on the deck, and made a pillow of the
brig's ensign.

Mr. Binks wriggled himself upon the weather rail, where, with a short
pipe in his mouth, he kicked his heels against the bulwarks, and while
the old brig plunged doggedly on, he indulged himself with a song, the
air, however, being more like the growl of a bull-dog than a specimen of
music:

    "If lubberly landsmen, to gratitude strangers,
      Still curse their unfortunate stars;
    Why, what would they say did they try but the dangers
      Encounter'd by true-hearted tars?
    If life's vessel they put 'fore the wind, or they tack her,
      Or whether bound here or there,
    Give 'em sea-room, good-fellowship, grog, and tobaker,
      Well, then, damme if Jack cares where!"

"What d'ye think of that, Ben?" said Mr. Binks, as he finished his
ditty, and sucked away on his pipe.

"Why, Mr. Mate," replied Ben, as he gave the wheel a spoke or two to
windward and glanced at the binnacle, "the words is first-rate, but it
seems to me your singing gear is a bit out o' condition, and I thought
you wos a prayin'; but the fact is," concluded Ben, apologetically,
"that whenever I hears grog and tobaker jined together, I likes to see
them in my fist."

"Oh! you would, eh? Well, shipmate, turn and turn about is fair play; so
here, just take a pull at the pipe, and I'll step to the cuddy for the
bottle, and we'll have a little sniffler all around!"

Saying this, Mr. Binks swung off the rail, handed Ben the pipe, and
after an absence of a few moments, he returned with a square case-bottle
and a pewter mug.

"Now, Ben," said he, "this 'ere is not a practice, as you know, I often
is guilty of; but you bein' a keerful hand and a stiddy helmsman, and
port here close aboard, I've no objections to take a toss with ye." Then
pouring out a moderate quantity of the fluid, the mate handed it to Ben,
who, taking the pipe out of his mouth, and with one hand on the
king-spoke of the wheel and one eye at the compass-card, threw his head
back and pitched the dram down his throat.

"My sarvice to ye, sir!" said Ben, as he smacked his lips and then shut
them tight together, fearful lest a breath of the precious liquid might
escape; "a little of that stuff goes a great ways."

Mr. Binks hereupon measured himself off an allowance, and touching Ben
on the shoulder, raised the pewter to his lips. Before, however,
draining the cup, he tuned his pipes once more, and croaked forth in
this strain:

    "While up the shrouds the sailor goes,
      Or ventures on the yard,
    The landsman, who no better knows,
      Believes his lot is hard.
    But Jack with smiles each danger meets;
      Casts anchor, heaves the log,
    Trims all the sails, belays the sheets,
      And drink his can of grog!"

"Here comes the corvette, sir!" broke in Ben, as he stood on tiptoe,
holding on to the spokes of the wheel, and taking his eyes off the
binnacle a moment to get a clear view over the rail. "Here she comes,
with her starboard tacks aboard, athwart our bow, and moving like an
albatross!"

The man-of-war had for an hour or more crept well to windward, and then,
wearing round, she came down close upon the wind under royals, and her
three jibs and spanker as flat as boards. As she whirled on across the
brig's bow, a few cables' length ahead, the sharp ring of the whistles
was again heard, and the moment after the head-sails fluttered and shook
in the wind, the sheets and blocks rattled, and with a clear order of
"Main-sail haul!" the after-yards swung round like magic, the sails
filled, and without losing headway the head-yards were swung, and she
gathered way on the other tack. On she came, with the spray flying up
into the weather leech of her fore-sail, the dark mazes of her rigging
marked out in clear lines against her white canvas, and the watch
noiselessly coiling up the ropes on her decks. As she pushed her sharp
snout through the water, and grazed along the brig's lee quarter, an
officer on the poop gave a rapid and searching glance around, peered
sharply along the brig's deck, waved his trumpet to the mate, and
resumed his rapid tramp to windward. In ten minutes after she had passed
the brig's wake nothing was seen of her save a dark, dim outline; a
light halo reflected on the water from her white streak, and an
occasional luminous flash of foam as it bounded away from her lean
bows.

Half an hour went by. The mate was sitting on the weather rail droning
out an old sea-song to himself, and the four or five men of the watch
were dozing away along the bulwarks. Presently, however, Ben, the
helmsman, happened to let his eyes wander away from the compass-card for
a moment, as he steadied the wheel by his legs and bit a quid from his
plug of niggerhead to last him to suck for the remainder of the watch,
when, glancing beneath the bulging folds of the lee clew of the
main-sail, he clapped both hands again on the steering spokes, and
shouted,

"Mr. Mate, here's a sail close under our lee beam!"

"Where?" said Binks. But, before he had fairly time to run over to the
other side of the vessel and take a look for himself, a quick rattle of
oars was heard as a boat grated against the brig's side, and, before you
could think, a swarm of fellows started up like so many shadows above
the rail. In five seconds they had jumped on the deck, Ben fell like a
bullock from a blow from the butt-end of a pistol, the helm was jammed
hard down, the lee braces let fly, and, as the old brig gave a lurching
yaw in bringing her nose to windward, the weather leeches shivered
violently in the wind, and, taking flat aback, the studding-sail booms
snapped short off at the irons, and, with the sails, fell slamming and
thumping below.

[Illustration: THE PIRATES BOARDING THE BRIG.]

Meanwhile the mate had barely time to spring to the companion-way and
sing out, "We're boarded by pirates, Captain Blunt!" when he, too,
received an ugly overhand lick from a cutlass on his skull, and went
senseless and bleeding down the hatchway like a scuttle of coals.

At the first noise, however, the black Banou sprang to his feet, and, as
he caught a glimpse of the fellows swarming over the side, he snatched
hold of the ensign halliards where the signal lantern had been bent on,
and in an instant it was dancing away up to the gaff, shrouded from view
to leeward of the vessel by the spread of the spanker. In another moment
the black leaped to the deck cabin and darted through the door. But in
less time than it has taken to tell it, the "Martha Blunt" had changed
hands.

There, on the quarter-deck, stood in groups some sixteen barefooted
villains, in coarse striped gingham shirts, loose trowsers, and
skull-caps, and all with glittering, naked knives or cutlasses, and
pistols in their belts and hands. In the midst of this cluster of
swarthy wretches, near the companion-way, stood a burly, square-built
ruffian, with a pistol in his right hand, and his dexter paw pushing up
a brown straw hat as he ran his fingers across his dripping forehead and
a tangled mass of carroty, unshorn locks. There was a wisp of a red silk
kerchief tied in a single knot around his bare bull neck; the shirt was
thrown back, and exposed a tawny, hairy chest, as a ray of light flashed
up from the binnacle. He looked--as indeed he was--the lowest type of a
sailor scoundrel. His companions were of lighter build, and their dress,
complexion, and manner--to say nothing of their black hair and rings in
their ears--indicated a birth and breeding in other and hotter climes.

"Well, my lads," said the big fellow, who seemed to be in command, "the
barkey is ours, and we've cheated that infarnal cruiser handsomely. Go
forward, Pedro, and gag them lubbers, and then tell the boys to trim aft
them jib sheets; and round in them after-braces, some of you, so we can
keep way with the schooner and take things easy."

Here he laughed in a husky, spirituous, low chuckle, and then went on:
"This will make up for lost time, _amigos_! _Christo!_ there may be some
ounces on board. But who's left in the boat, Gomez?" This was addressed
to a bow-legged, beetle-browed individual, with a hare-lip, which kept
his face in a perpetual and skeleton-like grin, who hissed out from
between his decayed front tusks,

"_El Doctor Señor, con tres de nosotros._" "_Bueno!_ all right; three of
the chaps will do to look out for her; but tell the doctor to drop the
boat astern, and veer him a rope from the gangway. There! that's well
with the braces! Keep her off a point; so--that'll do."

As the orders were promptly obeyed, and the crew of the brig gagged,
and the vessel surged slowly on her course, the same speaker turned to
his men and said,

"Now, my hearties! let's have an overhaul of the skipper. Hand him up
here, will ye? or, never mind," he added, "I'll just step down and have
a growl with him myself."

As the mate pitched head foremost down the companion ladder, two of the
pirates jumped after him, and, dealing him another cruel stab with a
knife deep into the back, they passed on into the lower cabin. There was
a brief struggle, the sound of voices mingled with curses and threats,
and then all quiet again.

In pursuance of his expressed purpose, the stout ruffian slewed himself
round, took a sweep about the horizon, then sticking his pistol in its
belt, he slowly descended the ladder, gave the wounded and dying mate a
kick, and with a hoarse laugh entered the cabin.

There, on a small sofa abaft, between the two stern air-ports, sat
Captain Blunt. Blood was trickling down in heavy drops from a lacerated
bruise on his forehead; but, notwithstanding the swelling and pain of
the wound, his features were calm, stern, and honest. On either side of
him sat as villainous a brace of mongrel Portuguese or Spaniards as ever
infested the high seas; and his arms were pinioned by a stout cord to
the bolt above the transom.

"My sarvice to you, sir!" said the leader of the gang, with a devilish
smile of derision, as he stuck his arms akimbo and squirted some
tobacco-juice from his filthy mouth across the cabin table at the
pinioned prisoner.

"I s'pose you know by this time that you're a lawful prise, captured by
an hindependent constable of the West Indies, notwithstandin' ye had
sich safe escort and convoy all the arternoon?"

Here he chuckled, squirted more juice over the table, then dropped down
on a sea-chest cleated to the deck, took off his hat, and scratched his
yellowish red hair. The poor captain said not a word, but shook a great
clot of blood from his brow.

"Well, now, my old hearty, the first thing for you to do is to poke out
your manifest, and any other little matters of vallew ye may have stowed
away; and be quick, mind ye, for you haven't much time to sail in this
'ere craft. Howsoever, I s'pose ye can swim?"

"You'll find the manifest and the ship's papers there, inside that
instrument-box; and all the money in the vessel is in that locker; and I
trust in Heaven it may burn your hands to cinders, you devils!"

"Ho! smash my brains! keep a stopper on your jaw, or I'll squeeze your
dead carcass through that 'ere starn port."

The fellow rose as he spoke, and, stepping up to the narrow state-cabin
near by, he jerked open the upper drawer of a small bureau affair, and
pulling out a canvas bag, sealed at the mouth, tossed it on to the
cabin table. The coin fell with the heavy dead sound peculiar to gold,
and the ruffian, after taking it up again and weighing it tenderly,
growled out, "This chink will do for a yapper, at any rate! So now let's
have a peep at what the cargo consists on."

Then stepping a second time to the berth, he gave a kick to the
instrument-box, the lid flew off, and diving in his fist he drew out a
bundle of papers. Once more seating himself at the table beneath the
swinging lamp, he clumsily undid the papers and spread them before him.

"What a blessed thing is edication," muttered he to himself, "and what a
power o' knowledge reading 'riting does for a man!" Putting his fat
stumpy finger on each line of the manuscript as he slowly began to spell
out the contents, he began, "Man-i-fest of Brig 'Martha Blunt'--Ja-cob
Blunt, master:" here he paused, and, squirting more tobacco-juice over
at the skipper, as if to attract his attention, he suddenly ejaculated,
"Hark ye! Master Blunt, what was the name of that man-o'-war vessel as
was lyin' by you this morning?"

"The 'Scourge,'" replied the skipper, faintly, as he shook another great
drop of blood from his brow.

"The what? The 'Scourge!' That Yankee snake! Smash my brains! D'ye know
that that ship has been a hangin' about the north side of Cuba for ever
so long, interruptin' our trade? And you an Englishman, to go and ax him
to purtect ye! take that!"

Here he snatched a pistol from his sash, and, taking aim full at the
skipper's breast, he pulled the trigger. Fortunately, the weapon snapped
and did not explode. The ruffian held it a moment in his hand, and then
letting it rest upon the table, he said, with a horrible imprecation,

"Ye see you wos not born to be shot; but we'll try what salt water will
do for ye by-and-by."

Taking out his knife at the conclusion of this speech, he picked the
flint of his pistol, opened the pan, shook the priming, and then shoved
the weapon back in his belt. The mention of the "Scourge," however, had
evidently caused him some trepidation, for when he resumed the perusal
of the manifest it was in a hurried, agitated sort of way, and not at
all at his ease.

Smoothing the papers again before him, he went on, making running
commentaries as he read: "Eighty-six cases of silks--light, and
easily stowed away; twenty-nine tons bar iron; sixty-four sugar-kettles!
it will help to sink the brig; forty pipes of Bordeaux; two hundred
baskets Champagne; three hundred and fifty boxes of claret--sour
stuff, I warrant you; two casks Cognac brandy--but I say, you Blunt,"
said the fellow, looking up, "where's your own private bottle? It's
thirsty work spellin' out all this 'ritin', and my mouth's as dry as a
land-crab's claws. Howsoever," he continued, as he caught the
glance of satisfaction which came over the swarthy faces of his
companions beside the captain, "wait a bit, and we'll punch a hole in a
fresh barrel presently."

Having run through the manifest, he opened another paper and exclaimed,
"Hallo! what have we here? List of passengers--Madame Rosalie Piron
and--ho! that's a French piece, I knows by the name. Where is she?
Hasn't died on the v'yage, has she? D'ye hear there, ye infarnal
Blunt?"

The captain's face was troubled, and his head dropped down on his breast
without replying; but one of the scoundrels at his side struck him a
brutal blow with the back of his knife-hilt on the mouth, and jerking
up, he said, with an effort,

"Yes, we have a female passenger on board, with a helpless child; but I
pray you, in God's name, to leave the innocent woman in peace. You've
robbed and ruined me and my poor old wife--turn me adrift if you like,
drown or hang me, but don't harm the poor lady."

The tears blinded him as he spoke, and mingled with the bloody stream
which trickled down his cheeks. The ruffian's ugly face and bloodshot
eyes lighted up with a devilish and sinister satisfaction as the skipper
began his appeal, but before he had well finished speaking he broke in,

"Avast your jaw! will ye? You'll have enough to look out for your own
gullet, my lad, without mindin' any body else's; so turn to and say your
prayers afore eight bells is struck, because there's sharks off
Jamaiky."

Then addressing his own scoundrelly myrmidons, he exclaimed, "Look out
sharp for that old chap, my lads, while I goes to sarch for the woman
passenger!" As he turned, however, to leave the cabin, one of his
subordinates began to rummage about in a locker, when the burly brute
said, "Tonio, don't get to drinkin' too airly, boy, for ye know it's
agin the law till the prize is snug in harbor, or sunk, as the case may
be."

"_Si, señor_," replied the man, with a nod and a grin, and he resumed
his seat again; but no sooner had their leader left the cabin than a
bottle and glasses were placed upon the table, and they fell to with a
will, complimenting the bound and wounded prisoner by pitching the last
drops from their tumblers into his face.



CHAPTER VI.

DANGER.

    "What tale do the roaring ocean
      And the night wind, bleak and wild,
    As they beat at the crazy casement,
      Tell to that little child?
    And why do the roaring ocean
      And the night wind, wild and bleak,
    As they beat at the heart of the mother,
      Drive the color from her cheek?"


In all this time so little noise had been made that even the watch
below, in the brig's forecastle, were snoozing away without a dream of
danger; though, had one of them shown his nose above the fore-peak, he
would have either been knocked down and murdered like the mate, or, with
a gag in his jaws, been hurled overboard. When the leader of the pirates
stepped again on deck, he said to his companions, who were still
clustered around the companion-way,

"Well, my boys, we have 'arned a good prize--a fine cargo of the real
stuff--silks, wines, and what not, besides a few of the shiners!" Here
he jingled the bag of gold and dollars in his paws, and then threw it,
with an easy, indifferent toss, on to the slide of the companion-way.

"But what think ye, lads?" he continued, in a hoarse whisper, "there's a
petticoat aboard! and, as sure as my name's Bill Gibbs, here goes for a
look; for there's nothing like lamplight for the lovely creeturs!"

As he slewed round on his bare feet to approach the entrance to the deck
cabin, a move was made in the same direction by two or three of the
wretches of his band; but, shoving them roughly back with his heavy
fist, and clapping a hand to his belt, he said, in a threatening tone,

"None o' that, my souls! I takes the first look myself; and if I think
her beauty'll suit the chief, why--I shall be able to judge, ye know,
whether she'll go furder on the cruise or swim ashore with the rest of
the lubbers at daylight to Jamaiky. Keep your eye on the schooner,
Pedro, and don't make no more sail! D'ye hear?"

"Ay, ay, _si señor_!" quoth that worthy, as he and his followers fell
sulkily back. It took but three strides for Mr. Bill Gibbs to reach the
cabin door, when, finding it hard to open, after several trials at the
knob, he placed his burly shoulder against the edge of the panelwork,
and, throwing his powerful weight upon it, the door yielded with a snap
of the lock, and he pitched forward full length upon the cabin floor.
The noise startled the lady within, and speaking as if half asleep, she
called,

"Banou! Banou! what is the matter?"

"_Mon dieu, madame!_ we are prisoners in the hands of pirates!"

Before more words were uttered, Mr. Bill Gibbs, who by this time had
regained his feet while giving vent to a volley of blasphemous curses,
roared out as he beheld the black, "Ho! nigger passengers, hay? A
mounseer of color, as I'm a Christian! I say, cucumber shins, is that
'ere woman as is talkin' as black as you be?"

He was not left long in doubt concerning the color of the person he
alluded to, for at the instant the stateroom door flew open, and the
lovely woman, in her loose night-dress and hair streaming in brown,
heavy silken tresses over her fair neck and shoulders, with a pale and
terror-stricken face, stood before him. Speechless with agony, she gazed
at the coarse ruffian, who had, at the moment, reached the swinging cot
which held the little boy, and while he was in the act of looking at the
sleeping child, the mother uttered a fearful cry and the boy awoke.

"Sarvice, madam! don't be scared! come and take the little chap! I ain't
goin' to hurt him--that is, if it be a him."

The frightened mother, spell-bound at first, needed no second bidding,
and, forgetful of her disheveled dress, sprang forward, and with
outstretched arms, bare to the shoulder, was about to snatch her child.
The pirate, however, with his red eyes gleaming with unholy fire, threw
his great arm around the lovely woman's waist, and with a hoarse,
fiendish chuckle of triumph, attempted to draw her toward him. But,
quick as lightning, two black, sinewy paws clutched him with such a
steel-like grip about the throat that his sacrilegious arm dropped by
his side, and he was hurled violently back against the cabin bulkhead.
Then standing before him, the negro glared like an angry lion roused
from his lair as he looked round inquiringly at his mistress.

"Ho!" sputtered the ruffian, as he pulled a pistol from his belt, "ho!
you mean fight, do ye?"

"_Banou! mon pauvre Banou!_" screamed the terrified woman. "Yield! Oh,
sir, spare him! Don't harm us, and we will give you all we possess!"

The burly scoundrel hesitated a moment, and balanced the cocked pistol
in his hand, as if undecided whether to blow the black's brains out on
the spot where he stood; and then shoving the weapon back in his sash,
and keeping a wary eye on his assailant, he exclaimed in an angry tone,

"Well, come here, then, my deary, and give us a kiss for this nigger's
bad manners."

Moving forward as he spoke, he caught up the little boy from the cot,
tore the gold chain and locket from his neck, which he thrust into his
pocket, and shook him roughly at arm's length, in hopes, perhaps, of
enticing the tender mother within his merciless grasp. But again the
black interposed his heavy frame before his mistress.

"What! at it again, are ye? Well, then"--fumbling with his left hand for
his pistol--"say your prayers, ye imp of darkness."

The black seemed, however, in no mood for praying; and putting forth his
slabs of arms like the paws of an alligator, he tried to grapple his foe
by the throat. The cries of the mother now mingled with those of the
child as he put out his little arms to shield his black protector. The
ruffian, foiled in his purpose, with baffled rage evaded the negro by
stepping to one side; and as he did so, he hurled the helpless child
with great force from him. The large cabin windows at the stern were
open to let in the breeze; and as the brig sank slowly down with her
counter to the following waves, and gurgled up as the sea eddied and
surged around the rudder, the faint, plaintive cry of the little boy
arose above the seething waters--a light splash followed--and the mother
had lost her child!

"Oh, monster!" cried the heart-broken woman. "Oh, my boy! my boy! May
Heaven curse you forever!" as she sank down senseless on the deck.

The awful howl of vengeance which burst from the deep lungs of Banou
came simultaneously with the report of the pirate's pistol, the bullet
from which struck the black hard in the left shoulder; but putting out
for the third time his sinewy arms, and this time with an iron grip that
only left the ruffian time to yell with a stifled curse for help, he was
hurled headlong, smashing through the latticed cabin door, and fell
stunned upon the outer deck. In an instant half a dozen pistol balls
whistled around the negro's head, and the knives of the pirates flashed
from their sashes as they rushed forward to bury the blades in his body;
but leaping to one side, and while two more bullets were driven into
him, he seized an iron-shod pump brake from the bulwarks, and, with a
mighty bound, whirled it once with the rapidity of thought high above
his head, and brought it down on the leg of his prostrate foe. Such was
the force of the blow that it smashed both bones, and drove the white
splinters through the brute's trowsers, where they gleamed out red and
bloody by the light of the binnacle lamp. Even then, wounded, and the
blood flowing from several places, and though almost encircled in the
grasp of the scoundrels, Banou made good his retreat to the cabin, and
planted his powerful body firmly against the door.

With a volley of polyglot curses and yells in all languages, two or
three of the pirates stopped to raise their fallen leader, while the
others, leaving the wheel and vessel to herself, rushed in pursuit of
the black. Scarcely, however, had they made a step, when their ears were
saluted by a stunning crash from a heavy cannon, and the peculiar
humming sound of a round shot as it flew just above their heads between
the brig's masts.

There, within half a cable's length to windward, loomed up the dark hull
of a large ship. The crew were evidently at quarters, with the battle
lanterns lit and gleaming in the ports, while the rays shot up the black
rigging and top-hamper, and spread out over the sails in fitful flashes
as she slowly forged abreast the brig, with her main top-sail to the
mast. For a minute not a sound was heard, though the decks were full of
men, some with their heads poked out of the open ports beside the guns,
or swarming along over the lee hammock-nettings and about the quarter
boats; but the next instant there came in a voice of thunder through the
trumpet,

"What's the matter on board that brig?"

There was no answer for a few seconds, until a choking voice, as if with
a pump-bolt athwart the speaker's mouth, mumbled out,

"We're captured by pi--"

A dull, heavy blow cut short these words; and though the reply to the
hail could hardly have been heard on board the ship, yet, as if divining
the true state of the case, loud, clear orders were given--

"Away, there, third and fourth cutters! away! Spring, men!"

Then came the surging noise of the whistles as the falls dropped the
boats from the davits; then the men, leaping down into cutters--silently
and quick--no sound save the clash of a cutlass or the rattle of an
oar-blade as they took their places and shoved off. Again an order
through the trumpet--

"Clear away the starboard battery! Load with grape! Sail trimmers!
stations for wearing ship! Hard up the helm! Fill away the main-yard!"

The "Scourge" had by this time forged ahead of the brig, her sails aback
or shivering, as she came up and fell off from the wind, and the boats
dancing with full crews toward her. No sooner, however, had the presence
of the unwelcome stranger been made known on board the brig than the
pirates seemed seized with a panic, and, without a second thought, they
scudded to leeward, where their boat had been hauled alongside, and
forgetful or indifferent for the fate of their companions below, though
dragging the while their maimed comrade to the rail, they lowered him
into the boat, jumped in themselves, and pulled away with all their
strength toward the schooner near. They were not, however, a moment too
soon; for as the last of the band disappeared, their places were
supplied by a crowd of nimble sailors to windward, headed by an officer
with his sword between his teeth as he swung over the bulwarks. The
first sound which greeted the new-comers was from below, and from the
throat of the honest skipper. Down the open companion-way leaped the
officer, with half a dozen stout, eager sailors at his heels, and dashed
right into the lower cabin. There was the brave old skipper, with but
one arm free, shielding himself and struggling--faint and well-nigh
exhausted--from the knives of the drunken brace of rascals who had been
left to guard him. A pistol in the hands of one of this pair was pointed
with an unsteady aim at the officer as he entered, but the ball struck
the empty rum-bottle on the table and flew wide of its mark; and before
the smoke of the powder had cleared away, a sword and cutlass had passed
through and through both their bodies, and they fell dead upon the cabin
floor.

While Captain Blunt found breath to give a rapid explanation of the
trouble, and while the brig was once more got under control and the
wounded cared for, we will take a look at the man-of-war and the part
she bore in the business.

At the first sound of the warning gun from the cruiser the schooner
began to show life; and drawing her head sheets, she wore short round on
her heel, with every thing ready to run up her fore and aft sails, and a
stay-tackle likewise rove and hanging over the low gunwale to hook on to
the boat and hoist it in the moment it came alongside. Meanwhile the
"Scourge" had shot ahead of the brig, and wearing round her forefoot,
with her starboard tacks on board, she emerged out beyond, like a hound
just slipped from the leash. As she cleared the brig, the schooner lay
with bare masts about three cables' length to windward, and the rattle
of oars told that her boat had just scraped alongside. At that moment a
clear, determined voice shouted through the trumpet,

"Level your guns! Take good aim! Fire!"

A brilliant series of sheets of flame burst forth from the corvette's
battery, lighting up the water and jet black wales, and away aloft to
the great towering maze of rigging and sails to the trucks, with the
topmen clustering to windward, and their very eyes and teeth lit up in
the glare; then, too, the crews of the guns, in their trim frocks and
trowsers; the marines on the top-gallant forecastle, with their
firelocks and white cross-belts; and abaft a knot of officers on the
poop, with night-glasses to their eyes, all standing out as clear as day
in the sudden flashes from the cannon. Then followed the concussive
roar, and the next instant you could hear the hurtling rush of the iron
hail as it flew singly or in bunches through the air, or skipped in its
deadly flight from wave to wave, until it went crashing into the
pirate's boat, slapping with heavy thumps against the schooner's side,
or furrowing along her decks; while a shower of white splinters flew
high over her low rail, and told how well the iron had done its
bidding. Then, with many a groan and imprecation, the shattered and
sinking boat was cut adrift, and, a moment after, the sails of the
vessel were spread, the sheets hauled flat aft, and, taking the breeze,
she heeled over till her lee rail was all awash, and away she walked,
right up to windward.

But again came the clear, commanding tones on board the cruiser, mingled
with the jumping of the crew and ramming home the charges in the guns:

"Load! round shot! Run out! One point abaft the beam! Fire as you bring
the schooner to bear!"

Out belched the red flames; the heavy globes of iron, like so many black
peas in daylight, sung their deadly note as they darted on their way,
and the corvette gave a little heel to leeward as the shock of the
explosion was felt. One shot dropped within fifty yards of the low hull
of the schooner, bounded just clear of her after-deck, knocked off the
head and shoulder of a man at the tiller, and then went skipping away
over the water like a black foot-ball. Another messenger cut off the
schooner's delicate fore-top-mast as clean as a bit of glass, bringing
down the gaff-top-sail, and, what was equally pleasant, the fellow who
was setting it--pitching him over and over like a wheel, until he fell,
a bruised and lifeless lump of jelly, on the oak bitts at the fore-mast.
Before, however, they were treated to another of these metallic doses,
the pirates had got their craft in splendid trim; and with every stitch
of her canvas spread, and tugging and straining, she rushed on with the
heels of a race-horse, within three points of the wind. The "Scourge,"
too, was now close hauled, her yards braced as fine as needles, and
crowded with every inch of sail that would draw; while every ten minutes
or so she would let slip two or more guns from a division at the chase.
But the uncertain gloom of starlight, and the darkening effect of the
passing trade-clouds, made the little vessel a very difficult object to
see; and though one of the last balls struck her on the narrow deck,
passed through that and the waterways, and out to windward, spoiling two
of her timbers, and no end of planking, yet this was the last damage she
received. Her crew, also, had got as well as could be out of harm's
way--both the sound and wounded--and were lying quietly as possible deep
down in the vessel's run. When daylight broke the breeze began to
slacken, but she was by this time hull down from the corvette, a long
way beyond the reach of her long eighteens in the bow ports, and eating
her way to windward, with no chance of being taken.

[Illustration: THE NIGHT CHASE.]

"It's no use," said the captain of the corvette to his first lieutenant,
as they stood watching the receding chase. "We may as well give it up;
she has the heels of us in this light wind, and will soon be out of
sight. I think, however," continued the captain, with a smile, "that
he'll remember the 'Scourge' when he meets her again. This is the second
time we have chased that fellow; and this heat, by the way the splinters
flew, we must have peppered the skin off his back."

Shutting up the joints of the spy-glass which he held in his hand, he
took hold of the man-ropes of the poop ladder, and as he put his feet on
the steps, he said,

"You can go about, Mr. Cleveland, and run down to the brig."



CHAPTER VII.

THE MEETING AND MOURNING.

    "Moan! moan, ye dying gales!
    The saddest of your tales
      Is not so sad as life!
    Nor have you e'er began
    A theme so wild as man,
      Or with such sorrow rife.

    "Then, when the gale is sighing,
    And when the leaves are dying,
      And when the song is o'er,
    Oh! let us think of those
    Whose lives are lost in woes--
      Whose cup of grief runs o'er!"


The afternoon following the night when the foregoing events transpired,
the "Martha Blunt" sailed slowly along the sandy tongue of land which
separates Port Royal from Kingston, and dropped anchor in the harbor. As
the cable rumbled out with a grating sound through the hawse-hole, and
the crew aloft were furling the sails, a large, gayly-painted barge,
pulled by a dozen blacks shaded by a striped awning, shot swiftly
alongside. Jabbering were those darkies, and clapping their hands, and
shouting joyously. A rope was immediately thrown from the gangway of the
brig, and a tall, handsome man, with a broad Panama hat, loose white
jacket and trowsers, sprang with a bound up the side, and leaped on
deck.

Captain Blunt stood there to receive him. A broad white bandage was
passed around his head, and the tears trickled slowly down his bronzed
and honest cheeks. Just beyond him, under the shade of the awning, lay
Banou, stretched out at full length on a mattress; while Ben, the
helmsman, was kneeling beside him, fanning his hot and fevered face with
his tarpaulin. A yard or two beyond, on a broad plank resting on
trestles, lay the mate, Mr. Binks, cold and rigid in the grasp of death,
with the union jack folded modestly over his corpse. The black breathed
heavily and in pain; but when he caught sight of the gentleman as he
stepped on deck, a deathly blue pallor came over his countenance, and,
closing his eyes, the hot salt tears started in great drops from the
lids.

"My God! captain," said the gentleman, with a bewildering stare, "what's
all this? What has happened?"

The old skipper merely made a motion with his hand toward the cabin,
and, leaning painfully against the rail, wept like a child. The
gentleman's blood forsook his cheeks, and, with his knees knocking
together, he staggered like a drunken man toward the cabin door. A few
minutes later he emerged, bearing in his arms the sobbing, drooping form
of his wife. Starting from his close embrace for a moment as he bore her
to the gangway, she gave one shuddering, terrified, searching gaze over
the blue water to seaward, and then, with a wailing cry of agony, that
would have shaken the hardest heart, she fell sobbing again into her
husband's arms.

The voices and joyous shrieks of the negroes in the barge alongside
subsided into low moaning groans; four or five came up, and carefully
lowered Banou down; then all got into the boat, and she moved mournfully
away toward the shore.



CHAPTER VIII.

CAPTAIN BRAND AT HOME.

    "From his brimstone bed at break of day,
      A-walking the Devil is gone,
    To visit his snug little farm the Earth,
      And see how his stock goes on."


Upon a broad, flat, rocky ledge, near a small, landlocked narrow inlet
of one of the clustering Twelve League Keys on the south side of Cuba,
stood a red-tiled stone building, with a spacious veranda in front,
covered by plaited matting and canvas curtains triced up all around. The
back and one side of the building rested against a craggy eminence which
overlooked the sea on both sides of the island, and commanded a wide
sweep of reef and blue water beyond. A few clumps of cocoa-nut-trees and
dwarf palms, with bare gaunt stems and tufted tops, stood out here and
there along the rocky slopes, while lesser vegetation of cactus and
mangrove bushes were scattered thickly over the island, cropping out
with jagged edges of rock down to the sandy beaches of the sea-shore. A
deep narrow inlet of blue water lay pure and still near the base of the
rocky height, where, too, was a shelving curve of white sand, sprinkled
about by a few mat sheds, while on the other side the rocks arose to an
elevation of a hundred and fifty feet, forming a precipitous wall to the
water. The inlet here took a sharp turn, scooped out in a secluded
basin, and then narrowing to less than forty yards in width, it wound
and twisted for a good mile in a thin blue channel to the open sea. Half
that distance farther out was a roaring ledge of white breakers, where
the long swell came hammering on it, bursting up in the air in brightish
green masses, and then tumbling over the reef and bubbling smoothly on
toward the shore. On a level with the water no channel could be
discerned through the ledge; but, looking down from the heights around
the inlet, a narrow blue gateway was marked out, skirted on the surface
by frothy crests of dead foam, and near where flocks of cormorants and
gulls were riding placidly on the inner side of the ledge. The island
itself was about two miles broad and seven long; and about midway of its
width the inlet formed a forked strait, one branch finding its way to
the north, between a low succession of sandy hummocks, where the water
was too shallow to float a duck, and the other finding an outlet,
scarcely a biscuit-toss wide, between two bluff rocks. With the trade
wind this passage was safe and accessible; but on the change of the
moon, with a breeze and swell from the south, the sea came bowling in,
in boiling eddies and whirlpools, and it required a nerve of iron to
attempt an entrance. Just within this narrow mouth, on a flat beveled
ledge of rock but a few feet above the water, was a small battery of two
long eighteen-pounders, and two twenty-four pounder carronades mounted
on slides and trucks, with platforms laid on a bed of sand. Near by,
beneath a low shed of tiles and loose stones, were a pile of round shot,
nicely blacked, and some stands of grape and canister in canvas bags and
cases, together with a large copper magazine of cartridges. Seated a
little way off on a low stool was a dingy Spaniard with a telescope laid
across his knees, which every little while he would raise to his eye and
take a steady glance around the horizon to seaward. At other times he
would roll and light a paper cigar, murmuring some low ditty to himself
as he sent the smoke in volumes through his nose. A small brass bell
hung beside the shed near the battery, together with a telegraphic card,
which was connected by a wire strung on low posts, or hooked from rock
to rock to the stone building away up at the basin. To return, however,
to the building: the veranda rested on square rough masonry full twenty
feet from the ground, which was loopholed for musketry, and with but one
narrow slip of a doorway that fell like a portcullis, banded and
strapped with bars and studs of wrought iron. Within this stone
inclosure was a large and roomy vault, half filled with cases, barrels,
and packages, and at the upper angle was a narrow subterranean vaulted
passage, barred also by an iron-bound door, which led to a succession of
whitewashed chambers--dark, damp, and gloomy--and then on, in a
fissure-like pathway, to another equally strongly secured outlet on the
other side of the crag. Leading to the veranda was a tautly-stretched
rope ladder lashed to eye-bolts let into the natural rock below, and
hooked on to the edge of the floor above. This was the only approach to
the main floor of the building from the outside, though within were
heavy trap-doors like the hatches of a ship, which communicated to the
chambers beneath. The whole structure was of stone and tiles, roughly
built, but yet strong and durable, and capable of resisting any assault,
unaided by cannon, that could be brought against it. The floor was
divided into four rooms, the smallest used for a kitchen, the next for a
magazine of small arms, and the third a spacious bedchamber, which
opened into a large square apartment facing the veranda, and which
deserves more notice.

[Illustration: THE PIRATE DEN.]

The lofty ceiling came down with the slant, showing the bare red tiles
and heavy square beams which supported the roof. In one of the stoutest
of these beams was an eye-bolt and copper-strapped block, through which
was rove a long green silk rope, with one end secured by a cleat on the
wall, and the other dangling loose, and squirming, whenever a current of
air struck it, like a long, slim snake. Around the sides of the room,
which were paneled with cedar, stood four or five quaint ebony armoires,
and as many cabinets, clocks, and bookcases, with here and there a
woman's work-stand, some of them curiously inlaid with pearl and silver.
The walls were hung with a great number of pictures of all kinds of
vessels--generally, however, of the merchant description--under full
sail, with vivid light-houses in the distance, and combing breakers
under the lee; and all portraying gallant crews and buoyant freights,
which probably had never reached their destinations. Among this gallery
of marine display was a broad framing of the "Flags of All Nations;" and
codes of signals, too, in bright colors, hung beside them. Farther on,
in a pretty panel by itself, surrounded by an edging of mother-o'-pearl,
was a triple row of female miniatures, a number of them of great beauty,
and many executed in excellent taste and art. In one corner was a large
chart-stand, covered with rolls of maps and nautical instruments, while
above were suspended, by white rope grummets, a pyramidal line of
spy-glasses and telescopes of all sizes and make. Near the centre of the
apartment stood a large round dining-table, on which was laid things for
a breakfast, a box of cigars, and a small silver pan of live coals.
There were but two windows to this room, both hung with striped muslin
curtains, the casements going to the floor, and looking out upon the
veranda; and but two doors, one leading to the kitchen, and the other to
the sleeping-chamber on the opposite side.

Presently this last door opened, and, pushing aside a blue gauze curtain
which hung before it, an individual of about eight-and-twenty years of
age stepped languidly into the room. He was a tallish man, over six feet
in stature, rather spare in build, but with great breadth of shoulders,
and though pale, apparently from long illness, yet he was evidently very
active and muscular when his nerves were called into action. Had it not
been for a downward choleric curve to his large nose, and a little
parting at the corners of his wide mouth and compressed lips, the face
might have been thought handsome. The eyes were light blue, set close
together, but hard and stony, with no ray of mercy or humanity in them.
He wore no beard, and his light brown hair was thin and dry, and
carefully parted at the side. He was dressed in a snow-white pair of
loose drilling trowsers, cut sailor fashion, straw slippers, and silk
stockings; and above he wore a brown linen jacket with large pearl
buttons, and pockets. As he entered the room he held a delicate cambric
handkerchief, with a fine lace border, in his hands, which he seemed to
regard with curious interest as he lounged toward the windows of the
veranda.

"I wish I could remember," he muttered musingly to himself, "which of
those sisters this bit of cambric belonged to, marked with an E.--Ellen
or Eliza--hum! They _would_ die--silly things!--tried to stab me! Ho!
what fun! Never left me even a miniature, either, for my collection.
'_Bueno!_' There's more fish in the sea--and under it too!" he
concluded, with an unpleasant elevation of his eyebrows.

By this time he had approached the open window, and, shoving the
delicate fabric daintily in his pocket, he gave a slight yawn and looked
out. Before him lay the deep blue basin of the inlet, with a couple of
boats hauled up on the shore; a few idle sailors moving about, or
squatted beneath the sheds playing cards or sewing. Without letting his
eye rest more than a moment on this scene, he turned and gave a long,
earnest gaze between an opening of the rocks to seaward. Then, with an
angry frown, he approached the table, poured out a cup of black coffee,
threw rather than dropped in a lump of sugar, and sat himself down for
his morning's meal. He had scarcely, however, gulped down his cup of
coffee and choked after it a slice of toast, than he pushed away the
breakfast things, snapped his teeth together like a steel clasp, biting
a tooth-pick in twain by the effort; and then, tossing the pieces away,
he dashed his hand into the cigar-box, extracted one, touched it to the
pan of coals, and began to smoke savagely. At first the grateful smoke
appeared to soothe his chafed spirit, for he threw himself lazily into a
large cane-bottomed settee, and, stretching out his legs, seemed to
enjoy the tranquil scene around him with uninterrupted pleasure. But
soon a scowl darkened his face; he dropped his cigar on the floor, and
springing to his feet as if touched by a galvanic battery, he snatched
down a telescope from the wall, steadied it at the window-sash, and
peered again long and anxiously to windward. He saw nothing, however,
save the long, glassy, unbroken undulations of a calm tropical sea,
rolling away off beyond the ledge under a burning sun; no sign of a
breeze--not even a cat's-paw; and only now and then the leap of a
deep-sea fish sparkling for a moment in the air, and some sluggish gulls
and pelicans sailing and diving about the reef for their prey. Shutting
up the glass with a crash that made the joints ring, he strode to the
settee, where hung several knotted bell-ropes, and, seizing one, gave it
a sharp jerk. Then putting his ear to an aperture in the wall, where was
a hollow cane tube like the mouth of a speaking-trumpet, he listened
attentively till a hoarse whisper uttered the word,

"_Señor._"

Putting his mouth to the tube, he said,

"Can you make out the 'Centipede' from the crag station?"

"Not sure, sir, this morning; but last evening, at sunset, I saw a sail
which I took to be her. The sea-breeze is just beginning to make, and if
she's to windward of Punta Arenas she'll soon heave in sight."

This colloquy was held in Spanish; and when the signal-man had ceased
speaking, the interlocutor lit another cigar mechanically, kicked a
foot-stool out of his way like a foot-ball, and thus communed with
himself as he rapidly paced between the table and the veranda:

"Fourteen weeks ago yesterday since the schooner was off Matanzas; not a
word of news to cheer me through all that cursed fever; the spring trade
done, and the track deserted by this time!"

Then pausing in his walk, he stopped at the chart-stand, and unrolling a
map, he went on:

"Where, in the devil's name, could she possibly have gone to? She might
have been to Cape Horn and back before this. Miserable fool that I was
to trust the craft with that thirsty, thick-headed Gibbs! _Diavolo!_ he
may have been captured, and if he has, I hope his neck has been
stretched like a shred of jerked beef."

Even while he was talking a bell struck near the settee, and, putting
his ear again to the tube, the hoarse voice said,

"I can make her out now, _señor_. She's just caught the strong young
breeze, and is, hull up, coming along with the bonnet off her fore-sail
and a reef in her main-sail! There's a felucca to windward of her, which
I take to be the 'Panchita!'"

"Ah ha!" laughed the individual in the room. "The 'Centipede' is safe,
then; and I am to have the pleasure, too, of a visit from the Tuerto,
the mercenary old owl, with his account of sales and his greed. But let
me once catch him foul, and, my one-eyed friend, I'll treat you to such
a dance that you won't need shoes!"

Here he glanced with a meaning look at the silk rope swaying from the
beam above his head, and the laugh of satisfaction which followed was
not one a timid man would care to hear in a dark night; nor did it come
from his heart, as any one might have discovered from the ferocious
gleam of inward passion which shot out in the cold sparkle of his eyes
and flitted away over his grating teeth.

Controlling his feelings, however, and stepping out on the veranda, he
drew aside the curtains and sung out to the men in the huts, "One of you
fellows, tell the boatswain I want him."

The men started up, and a moment after a man in a blue jacket stood out
from one of the sheds and threw up his hand to his straw hat.

[Illustration: THE "PANCHITA"]

"Get together the people! Let run the cable at the Alligator's mouth,
and have three or four warps ready for the schooner when she passes the
point! The 'Panchita' is coming too, so look out, and have enough lines
to tow both vessels in case the breeze fails. Tell Mr. Gibbs to moor
close under the other shore in the old berth, and to come to me when
he's anchored! D'ye hear?"

All this was said in a sharp tone of command, and by the alacrity with
which the orders were executed the men seemed to be accustomed to a
master who knew how to rule them.



CHAPTER IX.

CAPTAIN AND MATE.

    "So I hauled him off to the gallows' foot,
      And blinded him in his bags;
    'Twas a weary job to heave him up,
      For a doomed man always lags;
    But by ten of the clock he was off his legs
      In the wind, and airing his rags!"


A couple of hours had passed since the occupant of the stone building
had last spoken to his subordinates down at the inlet, but the
interval he devoted to a minute inspection of weapons in the armory
adjoining his bedroom. They were all in excellent order, of the best
make, and very neatly arranged in stands and cases around the room.
When he emerged again, after locking the door, he held an exquisite
pair of small pistols inlaid with gold in his hand, which he gently
polished with his cambric handkerchief, and then slipped them into
his trowsers pockets. Then he held short dialogues with the voice at
the signal-station, and, without looking out of the window, he
informed himself of what was doing outside, and what progress the
vessels made toward their haven. When, however, the schooner poked her
slim, low black bows, with her sails down, around the point, he gave one
stealthy peep, or glare rather, at her. He took all in at that glance,
from the patches of sheet-lead nailed over the shot-holes in her side,
to the sawed-off stump of the fore-top-mast; and then he remarked the
absence of the boat which was carried amidships, and the few men moving
about her deck. Ay! he took it all in with that one comprehensive
glance, and when he had done, he raised his fore finger quivering
with anger, and slowly and unconsciously passed it with an ominous
gesture across his throat.

Soon was heard a sullen plunge as an anchor was let go, and the
splashing of the warps upon the water as the stern of the "Centipede"
was being moored to the rocks, to make room for her companion the
felucca, now shortly expected.

"Mr. Gibbs is coming on shore, _señor_, and he seems to have a wooden
leg," came through the tube. "The doctor is coming with him, and there
is a little boy in the boat."

"Ho!" muttered the man in the saloon, "where was that brat picked up?"

Nothing more was said. The tall man lit a cigar, threw himself into an
easy attitude on the settee, opened a richly-bound volume, and waited.
Ten minutes may have gone by when the trampling of feet was heard on the
smooth rocks outside the building, and the voice of Mr. Gibbs
exclaimed,

"Easy, will ye? Doctor! Don't ye see it tears the narves out of me to
hobble with this broomstick-handle of a leg! There! Stop a bit! How in
thunder am I to climb this ladder? Oh!" Here a low howl of pain.
"Another shove. Easy, old Sawbones! So--give us another push, will ye?
All right! There, that'll do."

The next minute Mr. Bill Gibbs stood on the broad piazza, and, with the
assistance of a crutch, he hobbled to the entrance of the apartment, and
only pausing to recover his wind and compose his features, he pulled off
his straw hat and entered.

"So ho! Mr. Gibbs," said the man on the settee, as the burly, lame
ruffian darkened the entrance, laying the book down as he spoke, and
waving his delicate handkerchief before him.

"So ho! Mr. Gibbs, you've come back at last! Delighted to see you. I am,
'pon my soul. Ah! one of those stout pins gone? Why, how's this? Some
little accident? Santa Cruz rum and a tumble down the hatchway, perhaps,
eh? D'ye smoke? Take a cheroot. Put that bag on the table."

All this was said in a gay, gibing tone, with an indifference and _sang
froid_ that a tight-rope dancer might have been proud of; and as he
ended, he threw a handful of cigars across the table, and pushed the pan
of coals toward his visitor. Before, however, Gibbs had time to utter a
word in reply, his companion, while lolling over the settee, caught up
an opera-glass from the table, and, placing it to his eyes, went on:

"Ha! ho! the fore-top-mast of my pretty long-legged schooner is gone.
Pretty stick it was! I suppose, Master Gibbs, that _you_"--he nodded
fiercely without removing the glass--"cut it up for that lovely new leg
you've mounted. Ay, my beauty!" again apostrophizing the vessel, which
lay like a wounded bird in the calm inlet before him; "but where's my
handsome barge, that used to cover the long gun? Ho! stormy weather
you've seen of late."

During all this one-sided conversation Gibbs had managed to wriggle his
mutilated body on to a wicker chair, where he steadied himself with his
crutch, evincing manifest signs of choler the while by running his fat
fingers through the reddish door-mat of hair, hitching up his trowsers,
and rapping nervously his timber stump of a leg on the floor, until at
last, unable, apparently, longer to control himself, he burst out, with
his bad face suffused with passion,

"I say, Captain Brand, it's time to end them 'ere gibes. What's took
place is unfortinate; but, howsoever, I has a bag of shiners and a
wooden leg to show for it, and d----n the odds."

"Stop, stop, my bull-dog! Don't be profane in my presence, if you
please. We are both Christians, you know, and friends too, I hope."

This was said in a very precise, emphatic, and clear enunciation, and
without apparent heat; and Captain Brand smiled too--but such a smile,
as his wide mouth came down with a twitch at the corners, and left a
sort of hole, where the cigar was habitually stuck, to see his teeth
through.

"And now, my friend, suppose you give me some little account of your
cruise, and fill up, if you can, any chinks that I haven't seen through
already," he concluded, throwing his legs again over the back of the
settee, and elevating his eyebrows as the cigar smoke curled in spiral
wreaths around his face.

Mr. Gibbs hereupon settled himself more at ease in his chair, laid his
crutch across his knees, and began:

"I s'pose, sir, you got the news I sent in a letter from Matanzas, after
we'd been chased out of the Nicholas Channel by that Yankee corvette?"

Captain Brand nodded at the eye-bolt which held the green silk rope from
the ceiling, as if calculating mentally the strain it would bear, merely
as a matter of philosophical speculation, perhaps.

"Well, arter that--and a very tight race it was--we ran down to the
Behamey Banks. There we picked up a Yankee schooner loaded with shingles
and lumber; and as the skipper was sarsy, I just made him and his crew
walk one of his own planks, and then bored a couple of holes through his
vessel, arter taking out some water which we stood in need of. You
hasn't a drop of summut to drink, has you, Captain Brand? becase it
makes my jaw-tackle dry to talk much."

The captain merely motioned with a wave of his cambric handkerchief
to an open liquor-case which stood on a cabinet near, and to which
Mr. Gibbs hobbled; when, seizing a square flask of crystal incased in
a network of frosted silver, he returned with it to the table. Had
Mr. Gibbs chosen he might have brought with the flask a small,
thimble-shaped liqueur glass; but he did not, and contented himself
with a china coffee-cup which stood on the tray before him. He seemed a
little near-sighted too; and as he inverted the flask, gave no heed to
the quantity of fluid he poured into the cup. But he took care, however,
that it did not run over; and then, raising it with a trembling hand
to his lips, he said, "My sarvice to you, Captain Brand," and tossed it
down his capacious throat. The captain gave no response to this
compliment, but as Mr. Gibbs put down the coffee-cup he said blandly,

"Thank you; but suppose you put that flask back in the case. I am
rather choice with that brandy; it was a--given to me by a--person who
was a--unfortunately hanged, and a--I rarely offer it a--the second
time."

Puffing his cigar as he spoke in an easy manner, he then turned round to
listen to Mr. Gibbs's narrative. Becoming more genial as the brandy
loosened his tongue, Mr. Gibbs continued:

"Well, sir, from the Behameys we ran to leeward, nearly to the Spanish
Main, in hopes, perhaps, of finding some stray fellow as was bound to
Europe; but we see nothing for days and days, and weeks and weeks, till
finally the water fell short again, and we beats up and runs into Santa
Cruz. There, as luck would have it, Eboe Pete and French Tom got into a
bit of a scrimmage up on a gentleman's plantation arter sunset, and was
werry roughly handled by a patrol of sogers as happened to be near. I
believe as how Eboe Pete died that night; and I heerd, too, that French
Tom had his skull cracked; and what does he go for to do but make a
confession to the authorities that the 'Centipede' was a pirate!

"Well, captain, the moment that information reached me, and seein'
a sogers' boat gettin' ready, and the sogers running about the
water-battery of the fort, than I just slips the cable, and runs
out to sea like a bird; and, Lord love ye, sir! the way they pitched
round shot arter us was--was--" Here Master Gibbs paused for a
simile, and the captain observed with a hacking, cough-like laugh,

"You saved the water-casks, though?"

"Why no, sir; and we was forced to go upon a 'lowance of a pint a water
a man!"

"Ho!" rejoined the listener. "Capital! Didn't suffer, I hope? Go on."

"Howsomever, I says to myself, the captain wants a good valy'ble cargo,
and so we beats up again and stretches away back along the coast of
Jamaiky, on the look-out for any think that might be comin' that 'ere
way. Well, sir, d'ye see, airly one morning, as we was a lying as close
as wax under the land, we spies a big brig becalmed off to seaward; but
we diskivered at the same time that same Yankee cruiser as was in chase
of us off Matanzas. I know'd as how you would be displeased at any risks
being run, so we keeps clean and snug inshore, under a pint o' land,
till set of sun, and until arter the moon went down. Then the breeze
sprung up fresh from the old trade quarter, and says I, now we'll make a
dash at that 'ere drogher, and squeeze him as dry as bone-dust; more
pertikerly, ye see, captain, since the corvette, arter dodgin' about him
all day, had yawed off, and, with his port-tacks aboard, was beatin' to
wind'ard."

Here Mr. Gibbs's auditor took the cigar from his mouth and rolled his
light blue eyes at him, puffed a thick volume of smoke through the
corner of his mouth, but said never a syllable.

The narrator gave a wistful look at the brandy-flask, drained the last
few drops from the coffee-cup, pushed out his timber leg, and resumed:

"So you see, sir, as I was a sayin', I says to myself, I'll get the boat
in the water with the lads, and, to make sure of all being conducted
shipshape, I'll go myself."

"Oh!" said the captain, as his eyebrows went up and the corners of his
mouth came down, with the faintest breath of a sardonic smile, while he
lit a fresh cigar, "oh! you did!"

"Ay, sir! So we let the old drogher go bouncing on past us, at about the
rate of five mile in four hours, when we crossed his wake under the jib,
and then we ups with the fore and main-sail, got a pull of the sheets,
and--"

Captain Brand shook the point of his curved nose at the speaker, who
checked himself, and, giving an emphatic rap with his crutch on the
floor, went on with--

"Beg parding, sir; but, Lord love ye! we just walked up under his lee,
and afore he know'd where he wos, we boarded him, knocked over two or
three chaps, and had the skipper lashed down in his cabin as quick as
winkin' and as quiet as could be. Ay, sir, we had it all our own way;
but during the scrimmage wot should I see (here he inclined his head out
like a loggerhead turtle) but the lovelyest young 'oman as ever I
clapped eyes on!" Here his timber stump grated nervously on the floor.
"Says I, that's just the craft, with such a clean run and full bows, as
would please Captain Brand"--at which that individual rolled round on
his elbow and brought his eye to the opera-glass in the direction of the
schooner.

"She isn't there, captain!" parenthesized the narrator, following the
motion with his head. "So I just fisted hold of her to hand her tenderly
into the boat, with a bag of shiners as wos found on board, when, so
help me---- --beg parding, sir--if a dwarfed giant of a nigger didn't
take an overhand lick at me with an iron pump-break, and nearly cut this
'ere larboard pin in two pieces; and, smash my brains!" he continued,
shaking his broad paw aloft with rage, "but what does I do, with all the
pain from the clip that da--(beg parding, sir) give me, I slams away
with a pistol bullet through the nigger's head--"

"Didn't I see a little boy on board the 'Centipede?' Perhaps I was
mistaken, the sun blazes so fiercely, eh?" broke in Captain Brand,
though the sun didn't blaze with a fiercer light than shot out of his
deadly cold blue eyes.

"Ho, ay, sir! that young imp was a bitin' at my t'other leg like a bull
terrier pup, while the nigger was attackin' me, and then he goes and
crawls out of the cabin winders, and was fished out of the water by the
chaps as wos towin' astarn in the boat."

"Oh, really! how very fortunate!" muttered the captain; "go on; don't
stop, I pray you, Master Gibbs."

"Well, sir, I knows very little what happened arter this, for the young
'oman was a screamin' and our chaps a cursin' about the decks, when all
of a sudden I fell off into a faint like, and the same time a heavy gun
came slamming into our very ears; and there was that infarnal corvette
agen bowlin' down within five cables' length of the brig, her battery
all alight and the whistles a callin' away the boats, in as violent a
haste as any think I can remember," said Gibbs, as he paused to catch
his breath.

"You must have kept a sharp look-out, though?" But, without heeding this
remark, the burly scoundrel went on--

"Well, Captain Brand, the boys tumbled me over the side--"

"Not forgetting the little bag of shiners!" sneered his auditor.

"Tumbled me into the boat, sir, and then pulled like mad for the
schooner. I know'd, d'ye mind, captain, or leastways I felt sartain we
could show any think afloat our heels, and so away we scrambles aboard,
and off we splits. But ye must see by this time, sir, the corvette had
come down and rounded to on the weather beam of the drogher, acting like
a screen for the schooner close under his lee. It wos only a minnit,
though, while he was holding some jaw with those lubbers aboard the
brig, before he filled away again, and wearing sharp round her bows, he
diskivered us sartain. I don't think, as matters stood by this time,
that our boat was a boat-hook's length from the schooner when I jist see
a burst of red flashes from the man-o'-war's starboard ports, and heerd
an officer roar out, 'Give him the whole three divisions of grape!' when
I'm da--your parding agin, sir; I'm blest if ever I heerd sich a rain of
cold iron in all my sea-goin' experience. Ay, sir, by G--gracious, sir,
if about two bushels of them grape didn't riddle the barge like the
nozzle to a watering-pot, and same time tore seven of our noble fellows
all to rags--"

"You saved the boat, of course?" suggested his companion, in a kind
voice, but with a frightful sneer.

"Why, captain, we unfortinately lost her; for ye see, arter tumbling me
aboard the schooner, and arter bailing nigh as much blood as water--"

"Capital! excellent! best joke I ever heard," broke in Captain Brand,
with a hollow laugh of much enjoyment.

"Arter bailin' as much blood as water, and finding the man-o'-war was
heaving in stays to slam another broadside into us, we cut the boat
adrift, and then got the sheets flat aft, the gaff-top-sails up, and
away we drove with a crackin' breeze right up to wind'ard, like a
swordfish. Lord love ye, sir! we walked away from the cruiser, a eatin'
the wind out of him like a knife, and notwithstandin' he hove more nor
forty round shot at us, he only knocked away the fore-top-mast and some
other triflin' little damage about the hull, and"--he hesitated--"Lascar
Joe's head."

"That counts off about half your crew, eh?" said Captain Brand, smiling
in his peculiar manner. "Well, what next?"

"Why, sir, the next mornin' Belize Paul--as is part doctor, you
know--said as how my leg was to come off below the knee, and arter
givin' me a sip or two o' rum--"

"Bottle," interjected the captain, twisting the beak of his nose in a
puff of smoke.

"--Rum, why, smash my brains, sir, if he didn't hack it off with a
wood-saw!"

"Well, what next?"

"Then, sir, ye see, we run the schooner down Cape Cruz, where we kept
werry snug and quiet till sich times as the old one-eyed Diego judged
the coast clear to return to head-quarters."

"Well, what then?"

"That's all, Captain Brand!" concluded the narrator his garbled yarn, as
he again had recourse to scratching the door-mat on his head, and cast a
thirsty look at the brandy-flask.

"That's all, is it?" hissed the man with the iron jaws, in a tone of
concentrated passion, as he sprang with a single bound from the settee,
and clutched Master Gibbs with both hands around his hairy throat until
his face turned livid purple and his eyes started from the sockets.
"That's all, is it, you drunken beast? That's all you have to tell after
idling away the summer, losing anchors and boats, and more than half my
crew, and bringing a hornet's nest down about our ears! That's all, is
it? And what would you say, now, if I should order the doctor to cut off
your other leg close behind your ears, you beast?"

In the last stages of suffocation, the man was hurled on his back to the
floor, and there lay, bleeding a torrent from his mouth and nose. His
superior stood over him for a moment and put his hand in his trowsers
pocket for a pistol, and then he glanced rapidly at the green rope
squirming from the beams above; but, changing his purpose apparently, he
strode back to the settee and shouted "Babette!"

Presently the door opened from the passage leading to the kitchen, and
there appeared a large, powerfully-made negro-woman, with her arms
akimbo, and a pair of bloodshot eyes gleaming from beneath a striped
Madras turban wound round her head.

"Babette!" repeated the captain, resuming his seat and his habitual
polite air and voice, "serve out a barrel of Bordeaux and a beaker of
old Antigua rum to the 'Centipede's' crew to drink my health; and I say,
my beauty! have a pig or two killed; tell the boatswain to haul the
seine, and have a good supper for all hands to-night. And, Baba"--he
went on as if he had just thought of something--"there's my friend Gibbs
lying there--I believe he has fallen down in a fit--be very careful of
him--a bed in the vault--a little biscuit and water--he may be feverish
when he wakes up, you know. And, Babette, old girl, if you are in want
of kindling wood, you may as well use that timber leg of our friend
Gibbs! I don't think he'll want it again. There! _doucement_, Baba!"

The negress gave a deep grunt of assent, and, seizing the senseless body
lying on the floor, she dragged it out of the room. Returning a few
moments after, she wiped up the blood with a cloth dipped in hot water,
and finally disappeared.



CHAPTER X.

AN OLD SPANIARD WITH ONE EYE.

    "I fear thee, Ancient Mariner!
      I fear thy skinny hand!
    For thou art long, and lank, and brown,
      As is the ribbed sea-sand."


"The 'Panchita' has passed Mangrove Point," came in the hoarse whisper
from the signal-man. "You can see her now from below, sir."

Captain Brand put on a fine Panama hat, and stepped out on the veranda,
where, with a cigar in his mouth, he leaned over the balustrade, and
kept sharp watch on every thing that was going on below him. In a few
minutes a long pointed brown bowsprit protruded itself beyond the wall
of rocks, followed by a great triangular lateen sail, bent to a yard a
mile long, and tapering away like a fly-fishing-rod, where, at the end,
was a short bit of yellow and red pennant. As her bows came into view
they showed above a curved prow falling inboard, with a huge bunch of
sheepskin for a chafing-mat on the knob, and a thin red streak along the
wales, on a lead-colored ground, above her bottom, which was painted
green. As more of her proportions came into the picture, you saw a stout
stump of a mast, raking forward, with short black ropes of purchases for
hoisting the single yard, and heavy square blocks close down to the foot
of the mast. When this great sail had come out from the screen of rocks,
another light stick of a mast stood up over the taffrail, with another
lateen sail and whip-stalk of a yard, to which was bent the Spanish
Colonial Guarda Costa flag. In fact, she was a Spanish felucca all over,
from stem to stern, and truck to water-line. A few dingy hammocks were
stowed about halfway along her rail, and there were a good many men
moving about her decks in getting the cable clear, and a lot more
clinging like so many lizards along the bending yard, and all in some
attempt at uniform dress, in readiness to roll up the sail when the
anchor was down. There was a long brass gun, too, burnished like gold,
on a pivot slide, with all its equipment, trained muzzle forward in
front of the main-mast. No sooner had she sagged into the open basin,
with her immense sail hanging flat and heavy in the light air, than a
boat from the schooner boarded her, and presently she let go an anchor.
There were a few coarse compliments and greetings exchanged between the
crews of the two vessels, and some rough jokes made, as the last comer
veered out the cable, rolled up his sails, and set taut his running gear
in quite a tidy and man-of-war style.

"Go on board the felucca, José, and give my compliments to Don Ignaçio,
and say I shall be happy to see him," cried Captain Brand from the
piazza to a man at the cove; "and tell him," continued he, "that I
should have called in person, but I can't bear the hot sun since I
caught the fever. Take my gig."

This was said in Spanish, and when he had finished speaking he shaded
his face behind the curtain and scowled.

"You're a bird of ill omen, my one-eyed friend; but one of these days
I'll wipe out old scores, and new ones too, perhaps," Captain Brand
muttered to himself; and, from his murderous expression of face, he
seemed just the man to carry out his threat. Meanwhile, a light
whale-boat of a gig, manned by four men and a coxswain, pushed off from
the shore, and in three strokes of the oars she was alongside the
felucca. The coxswain stepped over the low rail, and, walking aft,
turned down a cuddy of a cabin, took off his hat, and delivered his
message. A minute later he again got into the boat, and pulled to the
cove, where he said to the captain,

"Don Ignaçio says he'll come in his own boat when he's ready."

"_Bueno!_" was responded aloud; and then to himself: "Don't ask or
receive favors, eh? What an old file the brute is!"

He said no more, but watched. Presently a small man came up out of the
cabin of the "Panchita," but so very slow, and with such a quiet motion
did he emerge, that one might suppose it was a wary animal rather than a
human being. He was scrupulously neat in attire--a brown pair of linen
trowsers, a Marseilles vest with silver filigree buttons, an embroidered
shirt-bosom with gold studs, and a dark navy-blue broadcloth coat, with
standing collar and anchor gilt buttons. His head-gear was simply a
white chip hat, with a very narrow brim and a fluttering red ribbon; but
beneath it his coal-black hair behind was chopped as close as could be,
leaving a single long and well-oiled ringlet on each side, which curled
like snakes around a pair of large gold rings pendent from his ears. His
complexion was dark, bilious, and swarthy, with a thin, sharp nose, and
a million of minute wrinkles, all meeting above, at the corners, and
under a small line of a mouth; quite like rays, in fact, and only
relaxed when the lips parted to show a few ragged, rotten pegs of sharp
teeth. But perhaps the most noticeable feature in his face was his
eye--for he had but one--and the spot where the other is seen in the
species was merely a red, closed patch of tightly-drawn skin, with a few
hairs sticking out like iron tacks. His single eye, however, was a jet
black, round, piercing organ, which seemed to do duty for half a dozen
ordinary glims, and danced with a sharp, malevolent scrutiny, as if the
owner was always in search of something and never found it, and every
body and every thing appeared to slink out of its light wherever it
glanced around. His age might have been any where from forty to sixty.
As he stepped on deck, clear of the cuddy cabin hatch, his sinister
optic played about in its socket--now scanning the long brass gun, the
half-furled sails, the crew, the ropes, or taking a steady, unwinking
glance at the midday sun, and then shining off to the shore, and
sweeping in the "Centipede," the little pool of blue water, and the
mouth of the inlet. Feeling apparently satisfied with the present aspect
of affairs, he slowly pulled out a machero from his waistcoat pocket,
plucked a cigarette from the case, and then proceeded deliberately to
strike a light. Even while performing this simple operation, his uneasy
orb, like unto a black bull's-eye, traversed about in its habitual way;
and when he raised the spark of fire with his brown, thin hand, and the
claws of fingers loaded with rings, he seemed to be looking into his own
mouth. Nodding to a fellow who stood near, with a crimson sash around
his waist, he inclined his eye toward the shore, blew out a thin wreath
of smoke from his lungs--all the while his vigilant organ shining like a
burning spark of lambent jet through the smoke--and merely said,

"The boat!"

In a moment a small cockle-shell of a punt was lowered from the stern of
the felucca, when, stepping carefully in, he seized a scull, and with a
few vigorous twists pushed her to the landing at the cove.

During all these movements of the commander of the felucca Captain Brand
was by no means an inattentive observer; and, indeed, he was so
extremely critical that he stuck the tube of a powerful telescope
through an aperture of the curtains around him, and not only looked at
his cautious visitor, but he actually watched the expression of his
uneasy eye, and almost counted every wrinkle--finely engraved as they
were--on his swarthy visage; but, if Captain Brand's own visage
reflected an index of his mind, he did not seem over and above pleased
with what he saw.

"Has a bundle of papers under his arm! I can see the hilt of that
delicate blade, too, sticking out from his wristband. Ah! I've seen him
throw that short blade from his coat-sleeve and strike a dollar at
twenty yards! Wonderful skill with knives you have, Don Ignaçio; but you
never yet tried your knack with _me_! Oh no, my Tuerto--bird of ill omen
that you are! We can't do without one another just yet, so let us wait
and see what's in the wind!"

Soliloquizing these remarks, Captain Brand withdrew his telescope as the
commander of the felucca approached, and, with a cheerful smile, waited
to receive him. A few moments later the one-eyed individual mounted the
rope-ladder stairway, carefully feeling the strands, however, and
looking suspiciously around him as he stepped lightly on the piazza.

"_Ah! compadre mio!_" exclaimed Captain Brand, in Spanish, as he seized
his visitor by the flipper, and squeezed his fingers till the pressure
on his valuable rings made him wince, as he was led into the large and
spacious saloon, while at the same time the captain gave him a hearty
slap between his narrow shoulders.

"_Ah! compadre!_ How goes the friend of my soul?"

The small man gave no symptoms of joy at this warm greeting; but,
screwing his wiry frame out of the captain's caresses, his eye flashed
like a spark of fire quickly up and down and all around the apartment,
as if making a mental inventory of the furniture, and not omitting his
tall companion, from the crown of his head to the toes of his straw
slippers, when he quietly remarked through his closed teeth,

"_Como estamos?_"--"How are we?"

"Ah, Don Ignaçio, _poco bueno, poco malo_! Half and half. Just getting
well over that maldito attack of Yellow Jack."

"Hum! more bad than good. No? I've brought you some letters from the
agent at Havana."

"Thanks--thanks, my friend. Ho! Babette! Babette! Some anisette for Don
Ignaçio. _Presto!_ my good Baba. There--that will do!" he said, merrily,
as the liqueur and glasses were placed on the table. "And don't omit the
turtle-soup for dinner, and tell Lascar Joe to make it. Ah! I
forget--the best cook I had--the devil's making soup of him now.
However, do the best you can, my Baba, and let us have dinner about
sunset."

Then turning to his visitor, with a graceful bow and a laugh, he added,
"And we'll have the doctor to join us, and tell how he cut off our poor
friend Gibbs's leg with a hand-saw. _Dios! amigo!_ Capital joke, 'pon my
honor!"

Captain Brand's honor! Lord have mercy upon us! And he had very few
jokes, and never told one himself.

"Hum!" replied the Tuerto, in the pause of the conversation. "There's
better jokes than that to hear. _Mira!_ look!"

With this brief rejoinder he threw a bundle of newspapers on the table,
and, pulling out a packet of letters from a breast pocket, pitched it
toward his host. Then helping himself to a thimbleful of anisette, he
took off his narrow-brimmed chip hat for the first time, polished up his
eye a bit with the knuckle of his fore finger, and looked at his
companion fixedly.

"Letters, I see, from our old friend Moreno, at Havana," said Captain
Brand, as he sat down on the settee, and with a pretty tortoise-shell
knife cut round the seals. "Ah! what says he? 'Happy to inform you,' is
he? 'Packages of French silks seized by custom-house on account of
informal invoice and clearance.' Why didn't the fool forge others, then?
Well, what next? 'Schooner "Reel," from Barbadoes, with cargo of rum and
jerked beef, wrecked going into Principe, and crew thrown into prison on
suspicion of being engaged in--' Oh! ah! served them right, when I
ordered them to St. Jago--delighted they must be! 'Bills for advances
and stores now due, please remit, per hands of Don Ignaçio Sanchez--'"

Here Captain Brand caught a ray from the one eye of his companion, which
he returned with interest; and then laying the letters down on the table
with the softest motion in life, he exclaimed, with a sigh,

"Not the best news in the world, as you say, _compadre_; all those rich
goods, and those bags of coffee, and pipes of rum gone to the devil. But
these are little accidents in our profession."

"_Como?_" said Señor Ignaçio, "_our_ profession?" shaking his fore
finger before his paper cigar in a deprecating manner. "Speak for
yourself, _amigo_."

"Ah! true," the other went on--"my profession. The freedom of the seas,
the toll of the tropics, the right of search, and all that sort of
buccaneering pastime, is liable, you know, to the usual risks."

Here he inclined his head to one side and gave a slight clack to his
lips, as if to illustrate in a humorous way a man choking to death with
a knotted rope under his ear. "However, we must be more cautious in
future and retrieve the past disasters, for there are still on the sea
as good barks as ever floated."

Captain Brand said this as if he were a merchant of large means and
strict integrity, and was about to enter into some shrewd commercial
speculation.

"Hum!" murmured Señor Ignaçio, while pouring out another little glass of
anisette. "_Amigo mio!_ you had better read the papers from Havana
before you talk of another cruise."

"Oh! delighted to read the news--quite refreshing to get a peep at the
world after being cooped up here for months! Another French revolution!
Bonaparte alive yet! A Patriot war! Nelson and Villeneuve! All
interesting."

Thus glancing rapidly over the prints, pausing at times at a paragraph
that arrested his attention, then tossing a paper away and taking up
another, till suddenly Captain Brand's hand shook with passion as he
read aloud,

[Illustration: "HE TOUCHED THE BELL OVERHEAD AS HE SPOKE, AND, PUTTING
HIS MOUTH TO THE TUBE, ASKED, 'ANY THING IN SIGHT?'"]

"His Britannic majesty's squadron has been augmented on the West India
station. The brig 'Firefly,' corvettes 'Croaker' and 'Joker,' touched at
Nassau, New Providence, on the 2d instant, bound to leeward. We also
learn that the United States have fitted out a squadron of small
vessels, called the Musquito Fleet, to search for the noted pirate
Brand, who has so long committed atrocities among the islands. He was
last chased by the American corvette 'Scourge,' off Morant Bay, on the
east coast of Jamaica, but escaped during the night. The following day a
shattered boat was picked up, which had been cut adrift from the
piratical schooner, containing several dead and dying bodies of the
pirates. One of the latter gave such information to the captain of the
'Scourge' as leads to the hope that Brand's retreat may soon be
discovered and his nest of pirates be destroyed. Recent advices from
Principe state that a vessel loaded with valuable merchandise struck on
the Cavallo Reef and went down. The crew, however, five in number, were
rescued, but on landing were identified by the mate of the English bark
'Trident' as a portion of the men who robbed that vessel and murdered
the master and several of the passengers. Our readers may remember that
among the latter were two sisters, who leaped overboard and were
drowned, to save themselves the horror of a more cruel fate. The men
alluded to, who were wrecked in the brig off Principe, were sent in
chains to Havana, and were yesterday publicly garroted in the Plaza of
Moro Castle."



CHAPTER XI.

CONVERSATION IN POCKETS AND SLEEVES.

    "He holds him with his skinny hand:
      'There was a ship,' quoth he.
    'Hold off! unhand me, graybeard loon!'
      Eftsoons his hand dropp'd he."


Captain Brand laid down the paper without a sign of outward emotion, and
nodded his head several times at the one-eyed man facing him. He then
extracted his perfumed handkerchief, examined the cipher in the corner,
and waved it before his face. Don Ignaçio pulled out a red silk bandana,
and polished his eye as if it were the lens of a spy-glass. At length
the former spoke:

"_Amigo mio!_ The nets are spreading, but the fish are not in them
yet!"

"No, _amigo_!"

"Ah! _compadre, viento y ventura poca dura!_ the fair breezes have
chopped round in our teeth. Success, my friend, creates jealousy, envy,
hatred, and malice. Now here were we swimming along as quietly as sharks
under water, only coming up for a bite occasionally, when on come those
villainous swordfishes, and wish to drive us away."

Captain Brand gave expression to this pious homily in a tone of virtuous
reproach against the world at large, and as if he were a very much
maligned and ill-used gentleman. He touched the bell overhead as he
spoke, and, putting his mouth to the tube, asked,

"Any thing in sight?"

"Nothing, _señor_."

"Telegraph the man at the Tiger-trap station to keep a bright look-out,
and direct the gunner to keep the battery manned day and night! Tell the
boatswain to set taut the chain on the other side at the Alligator's
mouth!"

Don Ignaçio gave a rather suspicious glimmer at his vessel as this last
order was given, and smiled; that is, if a one-sided twitch to the
wrinkles about the line of his mouth could be tortured into a smile. His
companion seemed to divine what was passing in the Don's mind, for he
added politely,

"The cable won't interfere with the 'Panchita!'"

"No, _amigo_; the felucca is anchored just _out_side of it." The Tuerto
was not a man to leave any thing to chance, and he had taken the
precaution to be on the safe side of the pirates, either as friends or
enemies. He had indeed been as near an approach to a pirate himself as
could be, and had only abandoned the business for a profession quite as
bad, where there was less risk and more profit. In other words, he was
now a colonial officer in command of a Guarda Costa, winking--but
without shutting his eye--at piracy whenever he was well paid for it;
and he invariably was well paid for it, or else he made mischief.
Withal, he was as crafty and determined an old villain as ever sailed
the West Indies. He had amassed a large fortune, and owned several
tobacco estates--pretty much all his wealth acquired by the easy trouble
of holding his tongue. Yet his greed was insatiable, and he probably
would have sold the fingers from his hands, and his legs and arms with
them--all, save his single black ball of an optic, which was invaluable
to him--for doubloons. In fact, this feverish thirst after gold which
always raged in his hot veins had induced him to pay Captain Brand a
visit, and we shall see with what result. The truth is, however, that
Captain Brand was the only man of his numerous villainous acquaintance
afloat for whom he felt the least dread. He knew him to be bold,
skillful, and wary, and so the Don had a tolerably positive conviction
that, should he play him false, his own neck might get a wrench in the
garrote while he was throwing the noose for his coadjutor.

To return, however, to the pair of worthies sitting in conclave in the
pirate's saloon: the captain, resuming the conversation, observed in a
careless tone, quite as if the subject under discussion was a mere
ordinary matter,

"When will this swarm of hornets be down upon us?"

The Spaniard blew a thick puff of smoke from his cigarette, and still
holding it between his teeth, while his eye glittered through the murky
cloud, he replied,

"Perhaps a fortnight, a little more or less. I left St. Jago five days
ago, with orders from the Administrador to run down this side of the
island, and procure information for the English consul."

"Any cruisers down that way?"

"Ay! the corvette 'Scourge,' and the 'Snapper' schooner; they arrived
the night before I sailed."

"Did you happen to see their officers, _amigo_?"

"_Oh si!_ I had a long talk with the captain of the corvette at the
custom-house."

"Holloa! and you told him--"

"Yes; I showed him a chart of the Isle of Pines, and pointed out how to
get into the old hole."

Here the pair laughed short laughs, when Brand continued his questions
with,

"And how did he take the bait?"

"Hooked him; for I heard him order his first lieutenant to be ready for
weighing at daylight, and say that my description tallied with that of
the dying man they picked up in the 'Centipede's' boat," replied the
Tuerto, with a chuckle.

"_Bueno!_" exclaimed the pirate, as his face assumed an unwonted
sternness, while he rested his cheek on his left hand with the elbow on
the table, and slipped his right into the pocket of his trowsers.

"_Bueno! amigo mio!_ But how do I know but you may have made a little
mistake, and described another haunt besides the Island of Pines, off in
this direction?"

There was the faintest click of a noise in the captain's pocket as he
spoke, but not so faint but that it vibrated on the ear of the Spaniard,
and, pushing back his chair a foot or two from the table, he raised his
right hand, the fore fingers and thumb slightly bent inward, but
grasping a jewel-hilted knife, whose dim blue blade glimmered up the
loose sleeve. There was nothing threatening apparently in the movement,
though the two villains looked at each other with a cold, murderous,
unflinching glare.

The Don was the first to break the silence; and he said, in a low,
hissing tone,

"_Maldito!_ Because I had a little account of plata to settle with you
before the men-o'-war should roast you out. But beware, _Capitano mio_!
I left a little paper at St. Jago with directions where to find me in
case I did not return in a certain time."

"Ho, _compadre_, how very cautious with your friends! Why, what has put
such thoughts into your head? _Diavolo!_ we have stood by one another
too long to separate now. There, my hand upon it."

Saying this, Captain Brand's whole manner changed, and, drawing his hand
from his pocket, he reached over toward his companion. The Don, however,
watched him narrowly, and his eye shot out a wary sparkle as he withdrew
his hand, when, cautiously putting forth his own left, he touched his
cold, thin brown fingers to those of the man before him. This operation
ended, he quietly sipped a few drops of anisette, and rolled and lighted
another paper cigar.

"Well, _amigo_, let us now proceed to business," said Brand, gayly, "for
dinner will soon be ready, and we have no time to lose. How stands the
account?"

"The papers are on board the felucca, and it will be more convenient,
when the settlement is made, to come on board with the money. How would
to-morrow morning do? There's no hurry."

"Just as you choose, friend of my soul! The doubloons, or the silk, or
broadcloth are ready for you at any moment. Pay you in any thing except
the delicious wines of France. _Bueno!_" he added, pulling out a
splendid gold repeater, with a marquis's coronet on the chased back.
"And now, _amigo_, accept this little token into the bargain."

Don Ignaçio's fiery eye twinkled with greed, but it was only for a
moment, when, giving a quick glance at the coronet and coat of arms, he
waved his fore finger gently to and fro, and shook his head.

"What! No? Why, you know it once belonged to the Captain General of
Cuba, old Tol de rol de riddle rol--what was his name? He gave it me,
you know, together with some other trinkets, for saving his life--a--you
remember? Very generous old gentleman--nobleman indeed--he was. May he
live a thousand years, or more, if he can!"

Ay, Don Ignaçio did remember the circumstance attending that generous
transaction, and he remembered to have heard, also, that the Captain
General made a present of all his money and jewels with the point of a
broad blade quivering at his throat. He said nothing, however, in
allusion to this interesting episode, but he smiled meaningly, and went
on with his cigar.

"Not take it, eh? Well, _amigo_, I must look you up something else;
but now for dinner. Babette, clear away for dinner. Here are the keys
of the wine-cellar. The best, my beauty, and plenty of it." Then
turning to his companion: "Suppose we take a stroll to the Tiger's Trap;
the sun is sinking, and a walk will give us an appetite for the
turtle-soup--_vamanos!_"



CHAPTER XII.

DOCTOR AND PRIEST.

    "But soon I heard the dash of oars,
      I heard the pilots' cheer;
    My head was turned perforce away,
      And I saw a boat appear.

    "The pilot and the pilot's boy,
      I heard them coming fast;
    Dear Lord in heaven! it was a joy
      The dead men could not blast."


While Captain Brand and Don Ignaçio Sanchez walked pleasantly along the
pebbly shore of the clear blue inlet to the Tiger's Trap, let us, too,
saunter amid the habitations which sheltered the pirate's haunt.

Apart from the mat sheds of the shelly cove of the basin, where the
"Centipede" and "Panchita" were anchored, there was a nest of red-tiled
buildings which served the crew of the former vessel for a dwelling when
in port. It was pleasantly situated on a little sandy plateau, within a
stone's-throw of the water, and shaded by a cluster of palm-trees; while
in the rear was a dense jungle of canes and bushes, through which led
numerous paths to a small lagoon beyond. The buildings were of one
story, constructed of loose stones, the holes plastered with yellow
clay, with broad, projecting eaves extending over roughly-built piazzas.
They stood in a double row, leaving a stone pavement yard between, where
one or two cocoa-nut-trees lifted their slim trunks like sentinels on
guard. Two of the largest of these huts were mere shells inside, and
used for mess-rooms, exposing the unhewn girders and roof above, but all
whitewashed and tolerably clean. The floors were of rough mahogany
boards, or heavy dark planks, and no doubt part of the cargo of some
Honduras trader who had fallen into the pirates' hands. Around the sides
of these mess-rooms were arranged small tables and canvas camp-stools,
with eating utensils of every variety of pattern and value, from stray
sets of French porcelain to common delf crockery. A large open chimney
stood a little way off, where was a kitchen, in which the cookery was
carried on, under the superintendence of a couple of old negroes. Beyond
the mess-rooms were the sheds used for sleeping apartments, with lots of
hammocks of canvas and straw braid hanging by their clews from the
beams, quite like the berth-deck of a ship of war. Bags and sea-chests
stood out from the walls, with bits of mirrors here and there, some with
the glasses cracked, and others in square or round gilt frames. All,
however, was arranged with a certain degree of order, and the floor was
clean and well scrubbed. Another detached building, much smaller than
the rest, was divided by a board partition into two rooms. The first was
used for a storeroom, and was filled with bread in barrels, bags of
coffee and sugar, hams, dried fruits, beans, salt meats, and what not,
but every thing in abundance, and apparently the very best the market of
the high seas could produce. A strong door protected this repository,
with a wrought iron bar and padlock. The other portion of the building
was more habitable. There were chairs and tables; a couple of upright
bookcases with glass doors, one filled with books, odd numbers of
magazines, and old newspapers, and the other containing a multitude of
vials, pots, and bottles of medicine--a small apothecary's shop, in
fact, together with two or three cases of surgical instruments. Two
elegant bureaus, with rosewood doors and mouldings, like those furnished
passenger ships to the East Indies, stood against the wall at either
side; and near to each, in opposite corners, were low iron bedsteads,
without mattresses or bedding, and merely stretched with dressed and
embossed leather. For pillows were Chinese heel stools, and as for
covering, the climate dispensed with it altogether. Hanging against the
wall were a couple of brace of pistols and two or three muskets, and on
the table stood a square case-bottle of gin, some glasses, and a
richly-bound breviary clasped with a heavy gold strap; but in no other
part of these huts were fire-arms ever allowed, and very rarely was
liquor served out in more than the usual daily half-gill allowance.

Seated at the table in the last room we have described were two men.
One, the shorter of the two, was dressed in a long, loose bombazine
cassock, girded about his waist by a white rope, which fell in knotted
ends over his knees. Around his open neck was hung a string of black
ebony beads, hooked on to a heavy gold cross, which rested on his
capacious breast, and which the wearer was continually feeling, and
occasionally pressing to his lips. His face was dark and sensual--thick,
unctuous lips, a flat nose, and large black eyes--while a glossy fringe
of raven hair went like a thick curtain all around his head, only
leaving a bluish-white round patch on the shaved crown. This individual
was the Padre Ricardo, who, for some good reasons best known to himself,
had left his clerical duties in his native city of Vera Cruz and taken
service with Captain Brand. One of the reasons for leaving--and rather
abruptly, too--was for thrusting a cuchillo into the heart of his own
father, who had reported him to his superior for his monstrous
licentiousness. The padre, however, always declared that he was
actuated entirely by filial duty in killing his old parent, to save him
the pain and disgrace which would have followed the exposure of his son!
He still clung, though excommunicated, to the priestly calling, and
prided himself upon his fasts and vigils, never omitting the smallest
forms or penances, and saying mass from Ave Maria in the early morning
to Angelus at vesper time in the evening. For Captain Brand he was ready
to shrive a dying pirate--and pretty busy he was, too, at times--or hear
the confession of one with a troubled conscience in sound health; which,
if important to the safety or well-being of the fraternity, he took a
quiet opportunity of imparting to his superior in command. In these
pursuits he not only made himself useful to Captain Brand, but he became
more or less his confidant and adviser, and seemed to maintain his
influence by ghostly advice over the superstitious feelings of the men.
The padre, however, utterly detested the sea, and never touched his soft
feet in the water if he could by any possibility avoid it; but since he
had plenty to eat and drink on the island, and no end of prayers for his
amusement when in charge of the haunt--as he was--to look out for the
people who were left when the "Centipede" sailed on a cruise, he thus
passed the time in a delightfully agreeable manner.

The companion who sat opposite to the padre was a tall, gaunt,
cadaverous person, evidently of French extraction, with something kind
and humane about his face, but yet the physiognomy expressed the utmost
determination of character--such a heart and eye as could perform a
delicate surgical operation without a flutter of nerve or eyelid, and
who would stand before a leveled pistol looking calmly down the barrel
as the hammer fell. His face was intellectual, and he never smiled. His
whole appearance portrayed a thorough seaman. Where he came from no one
knew; nor did he ever open his lips, even to the captain, with a reason
for taking service among his band. All known about him was that he
landed from a slaver at St. Jago, and was engaged by Don Ignaçio to
serve professionally with Brand in assisting the patriots on the Spanish
Main. When, however, he reached the rendezvous of the pirates, and
discovered that they were altogether a different sort of patriots than
he had bargained for, he nevertheless made no objections to remain, and
took the oath of allegiance, only stipulating that he should not be
called upon to take an active part in their proceedings. Here, then, he
remained for nearly three years, attending to the sick or wounded,
taking no interest in the accounts of the exploits of the freebooters
around him--rarely, indeed, holding speech with any one save his
room-mate, the padre, or occasionally a dinner or a walk with Captain
Brand. On the last expedition, however, of the "Centipede," he had been
induced to go on board, so that he might become a check and guard over
the brutal ruffian who had been placed temporarily in command; but, as
we have already seen, his influence had been of little avail.

There was yet another occupant of the room inhabited by the doctor and
Padre Ricardo; and a low moaning cry caused the former to rise quietly
from his chair and approach the low iron bedstead on his side of the
lodging. There, beneath a light gauze musquito net, lay our poor little
Henri--his once round, rosy, innocent face now pale and thin, with a red
spot on each cheek, and a dark, soft line beneath the closed eyes.
Uneasily he moved in his fitful slumber; and putting his little hands
together as if in prayer, he murmured, "Oh mamma, mamma!"

Beside the bed stood an unglazed jar of lemonade, together with a vial
and a spoon. The doctor drew nigh, and, gently pushing aside the
curtain, stood looking at the child for some minutes. Presently the
little sick boy feebly stretched out his delicate, thin limbs, and
unclosed his eyes. Oh! how dim, and sad, and touching was that look, as
he gave a timid, half-wild stare, and then, closing the lids tight
together, the hot drops bubbled out and coursed slowly down his tender
cheeks.

The doctor, with the gentleness of a woman, bent over him, and taking up
his poor, limp little hand, he remained feeling the fluttering pulse and
catching the hot breath on his dark cheeks. As if communing with
himself, while a glow of compassion lighted up his careworn visage, he
muttered,

"By the great and good God, who hears me, if I save this child I will
restore him to his heart-broken mother!"

He sank down on his knees by the bedside as he made his vow, and letting
the little hand rest on the bed, he buried his face in his large bony
hands. What thoughts passed through that man's mind none but the
Almighty knows; but when he arose his stern features had resumed their
wonted expression, and, pouring a little lemonade in a glass, he held it
to the sleeper's lips. Then moving noiselessly back to the table, he
said, in a low tone,

"Padre, the boy will live. His fever is leaving him, and he will get
well."

"_Ave Maria! Santissima!_" ejaculated the padre, crossing himself and
kissing his cross; "I pray for him. You must give him to me, doctor. I
will make him a little priest, and he shall swing the censer and chant
the Misericordia when I get the new chapel built."

"Time enough to think of that, _mi padre_, when he gets strong again.
But just now all the prayers _you_ can say for him will do him no good,
and so I hope you won't put yourself to the trouble."

"_Cierto, amigo_, doctor; but don't sneer at the prayers of the Church.
They do good; they ease the soul and soothe the pangs of Purgatory."

"Ah! and how long do you expect to stop in Purgatory?"

"_Ave purissima!_ What a question to ask your pious and devout Padre
Ricardo!"

"Question the devil when you want fire," retorted the doctor, as he
opened a book lying on the table before him, and put an end to the
dialogue. His companion quietly helped himself to a measure of pure gin,
and unclasped the covers of his richly-bound missal.

Scarcely, however, had their conversation ceased, when a hoarse hum of
many voices was heard in the direction of the sheds without, mingled
with shouts in all tongues and uproarious laughter.

"_Peste!_" said the doctor, looking out of an open window; "the people
have knocked off work and are coming home to their supper. They seem to
have brought some of the crew of the felucca with them too. We shall
have a loud night of it, for the captain has sent them a pipe of wine
and a barrel of rum to carouse with."

"_Pobre çitos!_ they have had a hard time of it during the summer--short
of rum, and water too, I hear, and they need refreshment and repose. So
many of my poor flock killed, too, by that savage American corvette, and
I not near to administer the last consolations and holy rite!" sighed
the padre, as he kissed the crucifix and bowed his head. "There is
Lascar Joe, too, among the missing! He refused the sacrament, infidel as
he was, the day before he sailed; but what turtle-soup he made!" The
padre hereupon sighed deeply again, but whether for the loss of the
Lascar or the soup, no one knows.

The noise without increased--the rattle of crockery, the clinking of
glasses, the moving of feet, and all the sounds of hungry, boisterous
sailors at table. Soon, too, a shout or cheer would be heard, then a
verse of a song, roars of laughter, and now and then the tinkle of a
guitar struck by vigorous fingers in waltz or fandango.

"_Merçi!_" muttered the doctor, as he looked compassionately at the sick
child on the bed; "those noisy wretches will, I fear, disturb the little
boy, and it's as hot here too, padre, as the place we all are going
to."

"It _is_ warm, my son!" he replied, as his thick unctuous lips parted
with a smile at his companion's allusion to another and a hotter place;
"but I think our good _capitano_ would have a cot slung for my little
priest in the saloon of the big building there. It is always cool on the
crag, you know."

"Ah! perhaps he will," said the doctor, reflectively; "I'll see about
it."

Stepping again to the bedside of the little sufferer, he laid a hand
gently on his forehead, where the soft curls lay in confusion about his
temples, and then quickly touching his pulse, he regarded him
attentively for a few moments, while at the same time a light glow of
perspiration came faintly over the innocent face and spread itself down
the neck.

"His fever is breaking! _Grace à Dieu!_" whispered the doctor to the
padre; "his breath is regular and cool, and he is sleeping sweetly. Now,
if you like, we will go to see the captain, and, if he consents, I will
carry the child when he wakes to the dwelling."

The doctor carefully closed the door of the room as he and his companion
stepped out into the open court-yard, and moved toward the spacious
sheds beyond.



CHAPTER XIII.

A MANLY FANDANGO.

    "While feet and tongues like lightning go
    With--What cheer, Luke? and how do, Joe?
    Dick Laniard chooses Meg so spruce,
    And buxom Nell takes Kit Caboose."

    "Now around they go, and around and around,
    With hop, skip, and jump, and frolicsome bound,
           Such sailing and gliding,
           Such sinking and sliding,
           Such lofty curvetting
           And grand pirouetting,
    Mix'd with the tones of a dying man's groans,
    Mix'd with the rattling of dead men's bones."


Twilight had taken the place of the red sun, the stars came timidly out
one by one, and then in sparkling clusters the brilliant constellations
illumined the blue heavens as the rosy twilight faded again away. Then
the ripple of the inlet came with a tranquil musical sound upon the
white pebbly beach, the lizards in the holes and crevices of the rocks
began their plaintive wheetlings, the frogs and alligators joined in the
chorus from the low lagoon in the distance, and the early night of the
tropic had begun.

But louder far than the hum of the insects and reptiles, and brighter
than the lamps of heaven, arose the wild shouts and songs of the pirates
carousing, where the torches and wax-lights lit up the scene of their
orgies with the glare of day. The great mess-room was a blaze of light
from candles and lamps, stuck in brackets or gilt sconces about the
walls, or hanging awry in broken chandeliers from the lofty beams. The
remains of their feast had been cleared away, and the tables were
covered with bottles, cups, and glasses, with boxes of cigars and pans
of lighted coals. At one end of the room was a large table, on which was
laid a black cloth with a broad silver border--sometimes used by the
padre on great occasions--and covered with cards and piles of Mexican or
Spanish dollars. At the other end was a raised platform, where four or
five swarthy fellows with guitars in their hands were strumming away in
the clear rattling harmony of Spanish boleros and dances, shrieking out
at intervals snatches of songs in time to the music, or twirling the
instruments around their heads in a frenzy of excitement. At the
tables, too, were more of the excited band, vociferating with almost
superhuman fluency in various languages their exploits, pausing
occasionally amid the hubbub to clink their glasses together, and then
chattering and yelling on as before. In the centre of the apartment were
some half dozen of the same sort, either spinning around the floor in
the waltz, or moving with a certain air of careless, manly grace one
toward another in the gavotte or bolero. There were at the least some
sixty or seventy of these fellows in the room together, most of them
above the middle height, with finely-developed muscles, broad shoulders,
bushy whiskers, and flowing hair. They came apparently from all climes,
from Africa to the Mexican Gulf, and their features and complexions
partook of every imaginable type, from the light skin and florid
complexion of the Swede, to the low brow, oval olive cheek of the
Mediterranean, and the coal-black hue and flat nose of the Bight of
Benin. Their dress was uniform--frock collars cut square and thrown well
back over their ample chests; their nether limbs incased in clean duck
or brown linen trowsers, with silk sashes around their waists, and large
gold rings in their ears. Mingled here and there in the moving throng,
or leaning over the large table with the black cloth cover, were a few
fellows in the uniform rig of the Guarda Costa, in navy jackets and
black silk belchers around their throats; but all were without weapons
of any description, and were enjoying themselves each after his fancy.
Sentinels stood at the doors of the mess-room with drawn cutlasses over
their shoulders, so that in case of a violent quarrel or row, in dance,
drinking, or gaming, the culprits might be cared for.

While the uproar was at its height, and the lofty tiled roof was ringing
with the gay and ribald songs and shouts of the excited crowds, two
persons appeared in the doorway at the middle of the room, and entered.
In a moment, as the busy revelers beheld them, the dance ceased, the
music of the guitars died away in a tinkling cadença, the glasses
stopped clinking, the dollars no longer chinked, and the songs and
shouts were hushed. You might have heard a _real_ drop for a minute,
until one of the individuals who had entered slowly walked forward a few
paces and threw his right hand aloft in salutation. Then burst forth a
hoarse, simultaneous shout of

"_Viva nuestro amigo! Viva el capitano!_"

Captain Brand did not pause until he had reached the centre of the great
hall, where he stood calmly looking around upon the swarthy groups, who
crowded about in circles at a respectful distance from him; and then
amid the silence he spoke up, in a frank, off-hand manner,

"Well, my men, I am glad to see you all once more around me. You have
not been so successful as I hoped, but we must take the good and ill
luck as it comes, and I have no fault to find with you. The times,
however, are bad enough; for I have certain news that our retreat here,
where we have so long been hid, may be discovered"--the villains around
held their breath and let their cigars lie dead in their mouths--"but,"
went on their commander, "I shall do all that is prudent in the
circumstances for the benefit of all of us; and when we leave here you
will still have me for your leader, with my head, heart, and blade ever
ready to advise or protect you." As he stopped speaking another cheer
arose:

"_Viva, nuestro amigo! viva! viva! El 'Centipede' y el capitano! Hasta
muerto!_ Long live the captain! We stand by you until death!"

"Thank you, my friends; I have but one more word to say. The men who
have the relief at the signal-stations and the water-battery must keep
sober. Now go on again with the music."

The captain, however, did not immediately quit the hall, but, while the
revel began once more with all its enthusiasm, he moved amid the crowd
of its adherents and said a cheerful word to many.

"Ah! Pepe, your arm in a sling, eh! a graze of a grape-shot, eh? Why,
Hans, you here! nothing can hurt _you_! Well, Monsieur Antoine, how well
thou art looking; and that pretty sweetheart of thine at St. Lucie! Bah!
never look sad, man; thou shalt see her again. What, my jolly Jack Tar!
an ugly scratch, that, across your jaw--a splinter, eh? Never mind; a
little plaster and half allowance of grog will put you all right again.
So good-night, my friends. _Adios!_"

Saying these words, all addressed to the individuals in their different
languages, he gave a graceful wave of his hand and passed out of the
building. As he rejoined his friend, the commander of the "Panchita,"
who had waited at the threshold, while his wary glim of an eye searched
the faces and read the thoughts of all the villains who clustered about
the room--they both stepped out into the court-yard and sauntered
pleasantly on toward the crag. They had not, however, proceeded many
paces before they encountered the padre and the doctor.

"Ah!" exclaimed the captain, who was in advance, "how goes it with my
doctor?" shaking his hand as he spoke. "Oh, _mi padre_, how art thou?"
turning to Ricardo.

"_Salve!_ my son; not been so well this morning, with the old rheumatism
in my head."

"Drunk!" said sententiously the doctor.

Then again with a gay laugh to the other, "Well, my doctor, your first
cruise has not been so pleasant in the 'Centipede' as I hoped it might
be, but the next may be more agreeable."

"Perhaps so, Captain Brand; but I shall have a word or two with you on
that subject to-morrow; and, in the mean while, _señor_, I brought a
little boy back with me who is ill from fever, and my quarters are so
stifling hot, and the air from the lagoon is so bad, that I would like
to stow him for a day or so, with your permission, in your quarters,
where it is cooler."

"Certainly, doctor; why not? my house and all in it are at your service.
By the way, I was about to ask you and the padre to dine with me and Don
Ignaçio there. Will you join us? Yes? Then let us move on, for dinner
must be ready by this time, and it would be a sin to keep Babette
waiting."

Excusing himself for a few minutes, the doctor went for his sick charge,
and returned with him in his arms to the pirate's dwelling.



CHAPTER XIV.

A PIRATES' DINNER.

    "But the best of the joke was, the moment he spoke
    Those words which the party seemed almost to choke,
    As by mentioning Noah some spell had been broke,
    And, hearing the din from barrel and bin,
    Drew at once the conclusion that thieves had got in."


When the guests had assembled in the pirate's saloon it was some minutes
before their host appeared. When, however, he did step into the room
from his private apartment adjoining, he was altogether a different man
in outward appearance than in the early morning. In place of the loose
sailor summer rig which he then wore, he was now attired as a gentleman
of elegant fashion of the time in which we write. His lower limbs were
clothed with flesh-colored silk stockings, and fitted into a pair of
pointed toed pumps with buckles of brilliants that a duchess might have
envied. A pair of white cassimere breeches, which set off to advantage
his well-shaped leg, were tied in a dainty bow of rose-colored satin
ribbon below the knee, and fitted him like a second skin. His waistcoat
was of rose-colored watered silk, embroidered with silver, and which,
with its flaps and ample proportions, was halfway hidden by a dress coat
of green velvet. This last garment had a sort of navy cut, with standing
collar richly laced with silver, gold buttons in a double row of the
size of doubloons, with loose sleeves and cuffs heavily laced with
silver also. His linen was of the most gossamer fineness, the collar
thrown slightly back and confined by a single clasp of rubies the size
of beans, while below was a frill of cambric ruffles sparkling with opal
studs framed in diamonds. The ruffles, too, at his wrist were of the
most beautiful point lace, secured by royal brilliants, and he was
altogether a dandy of such princely magnificence that the courtiers of
the days of the old French monarchy might have taken him for a study.
His manner, likewise, was every way in keeping with his splendid attire;
and the ease and grace with which he excused himself to his guests for
keeping them waiting certainly denoted a knowledge of a higher order of
breeding and society than that in which his lot had been cast.

[Illustration]

From the very moment of his entrance, however, Don Ignaçio had measured
him at a glance. His single glittering eye of jet had taken him in from
the laced collar of his coat to the buckles of his shoes. Not a jewel in
his dress, from the flaming opals in his bosom to the brilliant stones
at his wrists, and down to the sparkling clusters at his feet, did not
his one uneasy optic drink in the flash and estimate the value. Nay, he
calculated by instinct the weight of the gold buttons on his coat and
the price of the exquisite lace which fell in snowy folds about his
hands. Oh, a rare mathematician was Don Ignaçio! What greedy thoughts,
too, passed through that little Spaniard's brain! "Ah!" thought he,
"shall I take my debt in those priceless gems, each one the ransom of a
princess, which the old Captain General may one of these days reclaim?
Hola! no! Or shall I receive more negotiable commodities in gold,
cochineal, or silks? Well! _Veremos!_ we shall see!"

The effect produced upon the good Padre Ricardo was altogether
different. As the captain entered with all his glorious raiment upon
him, he started back, and, bowing before him as if he were Saint Paul
himself, he seized his superior's white hand, and kissed it with fervent
devotion. Not satisfied with this mark of respect, he raised his dingy
paws, holding his crucifix before him, and murmured, in a sort of
ecstasy,

"_Mi hico! mi capitano! que brillante!_"--"My son! my captain! what a
brilliant being you are!"

Singularly in contrast, however, was the effect produced upon the
doctor, who merely raised his dark eyes in an abstracted gaze, gave
a careless and rather contemptuous nod of recognition, and then turned
to examine one of the richly-inlaid cabinets which adorned the
saloon. All these various phases of sympathy, attraction, or contempt
flickered like a sunbeam into Captain Brand's reflecting brain, as, with
a delicately-perfumed handkerchief in one hand, and a gold-enameled
and diamond-incrusted snuff-box in the other, he bowed gracefully to
his visitors, and seated himself at table.

The table was now rolled out into the centre of the saloon, laid with a
snowy-white damask cloth, and covered with the equipage for a banquet.
At either corner were noble branches of solid silver candelabra, which
would have graced an altar, as perhaps they had, and holding clusters of
wax-lights, which shed their rays over the display below. In the centre
arose a huge épergne of silver, fashioned into the shape of a drooping
palm-tree, whose leaves were of frosted silver, and about the trunk
played a wilderness of monkeys. Beneath, around the board, were
cut-glass decanters, flat bulbous flasks of colored Bohemian glass,
crystal goblets, delicate and almost shadowy wine-cups from Venice,
silver wine-coolers, all mingled in with a heterogeneous collection of
rare china and silver dishes. Such wines, too, as filled those vessels!
not a prince or magnate in all the lands where the vine is planted could
boast of so rare and exquisite a collection. Pure, thin, rain-water
Madeira, full threescore years in bottle! Pale, limpid Port, whose color
had long since gone with age, and left only the musk-like odor; flasks
of Johannisberg of pearly light; bottles of Tokay for lips of cardinals;
tall, slim stems of the taper flasks of the Rhine; while the ruby hues
of wine from the Rhone stood clustering about amid pyramids of
pine-apples, oranges, and bananas, and all loading the air of the saloon
with their delicious fragrance.

When the party had become fairly seated around the board, and while the
host was bailing out the soup from an enormous silver tureen with a
tea-cup--for it did not appear that he had ever been presented in the
usual way with a ladle--fishing out the floating morsels of rich
callipee, with the delicate frills of his sleeves turned back, he began
the conversation in the Castilian language:

"Well, _amigos_, we are taking our last feast together, I fear, on this
little cluster of rocks, for a long time to come."

"How!" exclaimed the padre, as he stuffed a wedge of turtle fat in his
oily mouth, and opened his round black eyes to their fullest extent in
manifest surprise.

"_Como, mi hico!_" he repeated, as he passed a dirty paw over his smooth
chin, and looked inquiringly.

"Yes, holy father, our good friend Don Ignaçio here has brought us
somewhat startling intelligence. Capital soup, this. I shall give
Babette a dollar. Yes, the eagles and vultures are after us; all the
West India fleet; the Lord only knows how many ships, and brigs, and
gun-boats. Glass of Madeira with you, doctor?" wiping his thin lips with
a corner of the damask table-cloth as he spoke; "and they have tampered,
too, with my old friends the custom-house people. Take away the tureen,
Babette--and, in point of fact, I shouldn't be the least surprised to
see a swarm of those navy gentlemen off the reef here at any moment. A
sharp knife, Babette, for these teal--a duck should be cut, not torn.
Try that Moselle, Don Ignaçio; I know your fancy for light wines. This
was given me by a Captain--'pon my soul, I forget his name; he had such
a pretty wife, Madame Matilde," glancing at the frame of miniatures on
the wall; "sweet creature she was; took quite a fancy for me, I believe,
and might have been sitting here at this moment, but a--really I forget
her other name. However, it makes no difference: the wine is called
Moselle."

Now be it here observed that Don Ignaçio drank very little wine or
stimulants of any sort, and never by any chance a drop from any vessel
which, with his single bright eye, he did not see his host first indulge
in. This self-imposed sacrifice may have been owing to his diffidence,
or modesty, or deference to Captain Brand, or, perhaps, other and
private reasons of his own; but yet he never broke through that rule of
politeness and abstemiousness. Sometimes, indeed, he carried his
principles so far as to refuse a meat or the fruits which his host had
not partaken of, and always with a slow shake of his brown fore finger,
as if he did not like even to smell the dish presented to him.

"What! not even a sip of that nectar, _compadre mio_?"

The compadre shook his digit, and observed that drinking nectar
sometimes made people sick.

The captain laughed gayly, and said, "Bah! learning to drink does the
harm, and not the art, when properly acquired."

During all the foregoing interlude the doctor remained in his grave,
calm humor, and only when the captain alluded to the lady whose
husband's name escaped him did he show signs of interest. Then his eye
followed the look toward the miniature, and his jaws came together with
a slight grating spasm.

Padre Ricardo, however, was in excellent sympathetic spirits, eating and
drinking like a glutton of all within his reach, and turning his full
eyes at times, as if to a deity, upon his friend the captain. Once he
spoke--

"But, my son, you were talking of leaving this quiet retreat, where we
have passed so many happy hours."

"Yes, friend of my soul! Those fellows with commissions, and pennants at
their mast-heads, and guns, and what not, seem determined to do us a
mischief." The devout padre crossed himself, and pressed the crucifix to
his greasy lips. "Ay! they would no doubt arraign us before some one of
their legal tribunals. Put us in prison, perhaps; or maybe give us a
slight squeeze in a rope or iron collar!"

The padre groaned audibly, and dropped the wing of a teal he was
gnawing, forgetting, strange as it may seem, to cross himself.

"_Hola, mi padre!_ cheer up! We are worth a million of dead men yet. The
world is wide, the sea open, and with a stout plank under our feet and
one of these fellows"--here he balanced a long carving-knife, dripping
with blood-red gravy, in his hand--"in our belts, who can stop us?"

There was the cold, ferocious-eyed gleam of a dying shark in the
speaker's eyes as he went on with his carving; but the priest gave a
jerk of trepidation with his chin, and appeared anxious to hear more.

"Don Ignaçio, try a bit of this roast _guana_; it's quite white and
tender. No? Babette, give me some of that rabbit stew!" The one-eyed
individual was likewise helped to some of that savory ragoût, and
proceeded to pick the bones with much care and deliberation.

"Still _triste_, my _padre_! Come, come, this will never do. Join me in
a bumper of this generous old Port. _Bueno!_ may we attain the same age!
By the way, where did this rich stuff come from?" holding up the
decanter between the light and his face as he spoke.

Don Ignaçio's glittering optic pierced clear through the light ruby
medium of the wine, cut-glass decanter and all, as he furtively watched
his host, and was prepared to dodge in case the heavy vessel should slip
out of the captain's hand. Such things had happened, and might again;
besides, a hard flint substance with a multitude of sharp projections,
two or three inches thick and five or six pounds in weight, falling from
a height on a man's head, might kill him. The Don thought of all this,
and twitched something up his sleeve with his hand under the table. But
Captain Brand, it seemed, had no intention of smashing his elegant
dinner set of glass, and putting down the decanter and raising a finger
to his forehead, he said, "How did that wine come into my possession?"

"Somebody gave it to you, perhaps. _Quien sabe?_ (Who knows?)" suggested
Don Ignaçio.

Without heeding the interruption, the captain's eye rested on the
brilliant snuff-box on the table beside him, where the letter L was set
in diamonds and blue enamel on the back, and catching it with a rap, his
face lighted up, and as he took a pinch and passed the box to the padre,
he exclaimed,

"Ah! now I remember, my old friend--the Portuguese countess from Oporto.
_Dios! de mi alma!_ (God of my soul!) what a stately beauty was her
daughter!"

Here Captain Brand sneezed, and, drawing a delicately-perfumed lace
handkerchief from his waistcoat pocket, blew his nose. Meanwhile the box
went round the table; Padre Ricardo took a huge pinch with his dirty
fingers, and feasted his eyes upon the precious lid. The doctor scarcely
gave the elegant bawble a glance as he helped himself. The Don, however,
examined it with the eye of a connoisseur, and not only that, but he
threw a spark at the captain's flashy waistcoat, and thought he detected
some other article in the capacious pockets vice the handkerchief.
Perhaps he may have been mistaken and perhaps not, though he was so very
suspicious an old villain that he sometimes did his friends injustice.
Nor did he put his thin brown fingers, with the few grains of snuff he
had dipped from the box, to his sheepskin nostrils till he had watched
the effect it had produced on those around him.

"Ah! my friends, I remember distinctly now all about it," continued the
captain, as he returned the kerchief and shook a few specks of the
titillating dust from his point-lace sleeve; "it is about three years
ago, just before you came to live with me, padre, that we fell in with a
large ship bound to Porto Rico. She had been disabled in an awful
hurricane, which had taken two of her masts clean off at the decks, and
was leaking badly. We, too, had been a little hurt in the same gale, and
having made a pretty good season, I was anxious to get back here and
give the crews a rest. Well, we made out the ship about an hour before
sunset, and it was quite dark before we came up with her. There she lay,
rolling like a log, though there was not much sea on, and we could hear
her chain-pumps clanking, and saw the water spouting out from her
scuppers as pure almost as it went into her hold. As we came up
alongside they hailed me for assistance, and said the ship was sinking,
and could not live till morning.

"Of course I could give them no actual assistance, situated as I
was"--here the narrator smiled as he glanced round upon his guests--"it
would have been simply absurd, you know, the idea of my putting men on
board to keep her afloat for the nearest gibbet. Bah! I did not dream of
such ridiculous nonsense. However, I determined to make her a visit,
and, if there should be any thing to save from the wreck in an undamaged
condition, why, I should look around.

"Not too much of that Port, _mi padre_; think of your rheumatism in the
morning! Doctor, you don't drink!

"Well, going on board, I found two lady passengers--the wife and
daughter of an old judge of the island of Porto Rico, with half a dozen
servants, who were all screaming, and praying, and beseeching me to save
them--all but one, a tall, graceful girl, with a large India shawl
wrapped around her shoulders, her white arms glancing through the folds,
and a pair of dark, liquid, almond-shaped eyes, such as I had never
before seen. The fact is, my friends, I had always before fancied blue.
But there stood this girl, with eyes like a wounded stag, leaning up
against the weather bulwarks near the open cabin door.

"Babette, take away all but the wine and fruit, and bring fire. Pass
that box this way, if you please, _compadre_! Thank you."

Don Ignaçio seemed to have an affection for the trifle, and had counted
the brilliants over and over again, and made a mental calculation of
their weight and value; and when he did move it as he was desired, his
greedy eye followed it with fascination.

"Yes, it's very pretty, and I set a great store by it," parenthesized
the host, as he resumed his tale:

"The girl never screamed or even spoke, and, amid all the hubbub of a
drunken skipper and a disorderly crew, she remained quiet and unmoved.
To assure the people, I told them that I would stay by the ship and do
what I could for them. At this the old lady clasped me around the neck,
and kissed me, and blubbered over me more than ever she did, I imagined,
to the old Spanish judge, her husband--imploring me too, by all the
saints she could think of, to take herself and daughter out of the
sinking vessel at once. You may believe that I would much rather have
been treated in that way by the lovely girl with the wonderful eyes
instead of the fat, rancid old woman beside her; but there was no help
for it just then, and so I consented, with all the professions of
sympathy I could make, to do as she desired."

Here the captain lit a pure Havana, and, after a few puffs and a sip of
Port, continued:



CHAPTER XV.

DROWNING A MOTHER TO MURDER A DAUGHTER.

    "At last she startled up,
      And gazed on the vacant air
    With a look of awe, as if she saw
      Some dreadful phantom there."


"No sooner had I assured the old lady that I would transfer them to my
vessel than her daughter made a step forward, and, letting her shawl
fall upon the deck, she seized my hand with both of hers, and said, in a
low contralto voice,

"'Heaven bless you, _señor_!'

"By the cestus of Venus, _caballeros_, the pressure of that girl's hand,
and the deep, speaking look of gratitude she gave me out of her liquid
eyes, quite did my business!"

"And the señorita's too, I think," chimed in the one-eyed commander, as
he wagged his uneasy head at the narrator.

"_Quien sabe?_" (who knows?) went on Captain Brand: "at all events, I
raised her soft patrician hand to my lips and kissed it respectfully.
Ha! I noticed, too, as I released her round, slender fingers, that she
wore a sapphire of great brilliancy--ay, here it is now. I keep it in
remembrance of the girl."

Saying this, the host shook back the lace ruffles of his sleeve, and,
crooking his little finger, exhibited the jewel to his guests.

"Go on, my son," said the padre, as his sensual face expressed his
satisfaction at the recital--"_Vamonos!_"

"My holy father," responded the narrator, "beware of that wine-flask!
You have grand mass to-morrow! it is the feast of our patron saint, you
know."

"_Si! si! hijo mio!_ your padre is always ready," crossing himself in a
half tipsy way as he spoke--"_Vamonos!_" The doctor looked as cold as
marble, and said not a word.

"Well, gentlemen," went on Captain Brand, "I soon got that ship in a
tolerably wholesome state of command. I made my trusty old boatswain,
Pedillo, lock the fuddled skipper up sound and tight in his own
stateroom, and the rest of my men took a few ropes' ends, and belted the
lubbers of a crew until they went to work at the pumps with renewed
vigor. I also insisted upon the scared male servants of the passengers
lending a hand at that innocent recreation, for you see I had no
intention of letting the ship go down--"

"With the Capitano Brand in her," interrupted Señor Sanchez.

"No, by no manner of means; for the ship, I felt, was settling fast, and
I could hear the loose cargo, which had broken adrift below in the main
hold, playing the devil's own game; smashing and crushing from side to
side as the vessel rolled, and coming in contact with the stanchions and
beams, with a surging swash of water, too, which told the tale without
the trouble of breaking open the hatches. I took, however, the
precaution to run my eye over the manifest to see if, perchance, there
was any treasure in the after run or any where else, as, in case there
had been, I should have made some little effort to get at it. However,
there was nothing on board but wine, dried fruits, and heavy bale goods,
not worth the time or trouble, in the aspect of affairs at that time, to
save as much as a single cask or a drum of prunes. I glanced, too, at
the clearance list, and saw that the names of the passengers were La
Señora Luisa Lavarona, and the Señorita Lucia, lady and daughter, with
half a dozen orders and titles, of the judge in _Puerto Rico_. _Bueno!_
roll me an orange, if you please, doctor! Ah! _gracias_, thanks."

The doctor rolled the orange, and, had it been a grape-shot or any other
iron missile, its aim would have gone straight through the captain's
body, just above his left waistcoat pocket.

"In the mean while the old lady rushed around in a tremendous hurry, in
and out of the cabin, losing her balance occasionally in the lurches,
ordering her maids to pull out trunks and boxes on to the deck; then
giving me a hug to relieve her feelings, and praying and crying between
whiles in the most whimsical manner. Not contented either with getting
out a pile of luggage and chests that would have swamped a jolly-boat,
she insisted upon waiting until a locker was broken open in the cabin
pantry for the purpose of rescuing six cases of old Port wine, which had
been, she told me, sent as a present from the Archbishop of Lisbon to
his friend the judge. At this juncture I persuaded her to send her
daughter and a few light articles first on board my vessel, when the
boat would then return for herself and the remainder of their property.
Accordingly, I carefully wrapped the lovely girl in shawls and cloaks,
and got her over the side and down into my boat, pitched a few light
caskets and cases in after the young beauty, and then, with a quiet word
or two into Pedillo's sharp ear, the boat shoved off. I suppose it may
have been half an hour before my boat returned, and then I learned from
the coxswain that he had shown his charge down into my private cabin,
and she appeared as comfortable and resigned as possible. Well, we made
quick work of it now, tumbled a good many things into the boat, when I
myself got in to receive the old lady and her retinue. By the way, among
the articles were the boxes of wine--this is some of it"--tapping the
decanter, now nearly empty from the attacks of the priest--"and in my
opinion it does great credit to the taste and judgment of that venerable
archbishop."

"_Ave, purissima!_" said the padre, with a hiccough; "I shall be a
bishop myself one of these days. _Ora pro nobis!_"

"You'll be a cardinal," gibed in the doctor, "if swilling wine will do
it."

Captain Brand went on with his narrative:

"Where was I? Oh! ah! We were waiting alongside the ship, with her lower
chain-plates not a foot above water, for the donna to be hoisted over
the rail, since she would not permit any of her attendants to precede
her--though Heaven knows they were anxious enough to do so. By this
time, too, after my men had left the deck of the ship, the crew had
somehow got hold of a barrel of wine, and, letting the pumps work
themselves, were guzzling away in grand style. I began to lose patience
at last, and shouted to the old lady to come at once, or I should be
compelled to leave her. She merely leaned over the rail, however, and
chattered forth that all she had in the world was at my service--of
course, figuratively she meant--but she must stay another minute to find
a jar of preserved ginger, which was her only cure for the cholic."

"You didn't take the offer of the old lady as a figure of speech, I
presume?" asked the doctor.

"No!" muttered the one-eyed old wretch, with a sneer. "And that jar of
ginger spared her any more attacks of cholic!"

"_Caballeros_, you are both right. I did accept the gift of her worldly
goods in the frank spirit in which it was offered, without any
reservation; and, to my almost certain knowledge, the Señora Lavarona
was never more troubled with illness of any kind.

"The fact was, that, finding the ship fast sinking, and her crew
becoming boisterous and rebellious as the imminent danger burst upon
them, they proposed, since their own boats were stove, to take
possession of mine! That _was_ a joke, to be sure! A dozen drunken
swabs, with naked hands, to capture ten of the old 'Centipede's' picked
men, with a pistol and knife each under their shirts; and"--here the
speaker laughed heartily--"and Captain Brand beside them! _Diavolo!_
what silly people there are in this world!"

The good padre joined his superior in this ebullition of feeling, and
seemed to enjoy the joke immensely, rolling his goggle eyes and head
from side to side, kissing his crucifix, and exclaiming, with devotion,

"_Que hombre es eso!_"--"What a man he is!"

[Illustration: THE PIRATE'S PREY.]

"Well, _señores_, the next minute we let go the painter and floated
astern past the ship's counter, and a few strokes of the oar-blades sent
us dancing away to leeward, where the schooner was lying with her
main-sail up, and the jib-sheet hauled well to windward. We made no
unnecessary noise in getting alongside, and it took no great time to get
the boat clear, a tackle hooked on, and to swing her on board over the
long gun. Then we drew aft the sheets, set the fore-sail, and the
'Centipede' was once more reeling off the knots on her course."

"But the ship, my son?"

"Why, my padre, I was so busy attending to the schooner, and afterward
going below to break the sad news to my lovely dark-eyed passenger of
the loss of her mother, that I had no time to devote to the ship.
Pedillo, however, told me that he heard a good deal of frantic
shrieking, and prayers, and cursing, with, for a little while, the
renewed clank of the chain-pumps, but after that we had got too far to
windward to hear more. About midnight, though, Pedillo and some of the
watch thought they saw a white shower of foam like a breaking wave, and
a great commotion in the water, but that was all. So, you see, what
really became of that old craft we do not positively know; though for a
long time afterward I read the marine lists very attentively, yet I
never saw any accounts of her arrival at her destination.

"Perhaps," added Captain Brand, with a peculiar smile, as he lit a fresh
cigar, "her arrival may have escaped my notice, as I hope it may, though
I think not."

Don Ignaçio intimated, by waving his fore finger to and fro, that such a
hope had no possible foundation in fact; and he stated, too, that he
knew the underwriters had paid the full insurance on the missing ship.

"Ah! well, that seems to settle the matter, truly," murmured the
captain, as if he had long entertained painful doubts on the subject,
and now his mind was finally relieved.

"But, _hico mio_! Son of mine! _La Señorita_--hiccough--with the
almond-shaped eyes--_Santissima!_--hic--how did she bear the--death of
her--hic--mother?"

"_Por Dios, padre!_ there was a scene which would have drawn tears from
a--"

"Pirate," suggested the doctor.

The padre blubbered outright, and his round, tipsy eyes nearly popped
out of his head.

"Ay, _monsieur_, even from mine! But to go back a little. When I had got
all snug on board the schooner, I went below, and moved softly on tiptoe
along the passage to the door of my beautiful cabin.

"You remember, _amigo_," said the narrator, turning toward Don Ignaçio,
"how that cabin was fitted, and how much it cost to do it. I think you
paid the bill for me? No?"

Oh yes, Captain Brand was quite right. Don Ignaçio remembered it well,
and the bill was a thousand gold ounces, sixteen thousand hard silver
dollars; and by no means dear at that, for the Don never allowed any
body to cheat _him_.

"Cheats himself, though, sometimes. Don't charge more than the usual
commission."

The one-eyed usurer looked wicked at this remark, but he said nothing,
being occupied at the moment rolling up a paper cigar with one hand, and
wetting the brown fore finger of the other.

"Well, _caballeros_, I peeped through the lattice-work of the cabin
door, and there reclined my pretty prize--I recall her as if it were
yesterday--on one of the large blue satin damask lounges of the after
transoms. Her head rested on one of her round ivory arms, half hidden in
the luxurious pillows; her shawl, too, was thrown back; and with a
somewhat disordered dress, and a mass of glossy hair clustering in
ringlets about her neck and white shoulders, I thought then, as I do
now, that she was a paragon of loveliness. I saw her, as she thus
reclined, by the light of a large shaded crystal lamp, which hung by
silver chains from the cabin beams, and shed a rose-tinted effulgence
over the whole apartment. When I first approached the door the girl was
looking out of her own large liquid lamps, so superbly framed in a heavy
fringe of dark lashes, in evident curiosity around the elegant cabin.
Her looks wandered from the Turkey carpet on the floor to the beautiful
silk hangings, that exquisite set of inlaid pearl ebony furniture, the
display of knickknacks, and Dresden porcelain panels of the sides, and,
in fact, nothing seemed to escape her; and the good taste of the
fittings evidently met her approbation. At times, too, she would turn
her gaze out of the narrow little window of the stern, and peer
anxiously over the vessel's wake, which by this time was skimming along
like a wild duck, and leaving countless bubbles behind her. At the first
sound I made, however, in opening the door, she started up and stepped
forward to meet me.

"'Oh, _Señor Capitano_, _mi madre_! (My mother!) What detains her? We
seem to be going very fast through the water!'

"I gently took the girl's outstretched hands and led her back to the
cushioned transom. Then I told her, as kindly as I could, that I did
all in my power to save her good mother, but that the crew had
mutinied--they had taken possession of the unfortunate ship--great
confusion existed--and as I feared, you know, that my own boat would be
swamped by remaining longer alongside, I was compelled to leave her to
her fate.

"'But my mother, _señor_!' exclaimed the girl, with anguish; 'she was
saved?'

"'No, _señorita_,' I said, 'she went down with the ship; but the last
words she uttered--that is to me--were to invoke a blessing on my head,
and to consign all she possessed to my care.' The poor thing swooned
away as I uttered these words, and it was a long time before she came to
again. When she did, however, regain consciousness, tears came to her
relief, and I did all I could to soothe her distress by telling her
that, if the wind came fair, she would in the course of a few days be
restored to her father."

"But the wind didn't come fair, eh?" broke in Don Ignaçio, "and she
didn't see--"

"No, _amigo_, the wind held steady from the opposite quarter, and I
thought it better not to beat up with a fished fore-mast, and all
that--and a--she did _not_ see her father."

Captain Brand here wet his thin lips with a few sips of wine, said,
"Babette, bring coffee!" and resumed his story.

"When the girl became a little more calm I induced her to retire to my
stateroom, where I left her to sob herself to sleep. Don't spill that
coffee, Babette, and put the liqueurs on the table. There, that will do,
old lady.

"Well, _señores_, the next morning my pretty prize was too ill to leave
her room; but, as I handed her a cup of chocolate through the door
curtains, she thanked me with much gratitude for what I had done, and
knew that her dear father, the judge, would bless me."

"So he will," snarled the one-eyed old rascal, "if he ever catches you,
when he draws the black cap over your head."

"Possibly he may, though perhaps it will be some considerable time
before he has that pleasure."

"Ah! _cuidado hico mio!_ Take care of yourself, my son," hiccoughed the
priest as he crossed himself. The captain gave a light laugh, sipped his
coffee, and went on as if a dungeon, scaffold, and noose were the last
things he ever thought of.

"I amused myself during the day in looking over the trunks, caskets, and
what not we had saved from the sinking trader--presented to me, as you
know, by the old lady who was on board. There were, of course, a great
quantity of ladies' dresses, and a good many jewels and trinkets; among
the latter this fine snuff-box here, which our friend Don Ignaçio so
much admires, and which I set aside as an especial testimonial of the
old lady's regard. Try another pinch, _amigo_? No? _Bueno!_ I caused
what I believed to be the daughter's elegant raiment to be placed in the
after cabin. For three days I never even saw my pretty passenger, though
I heard her low, sweet voice occasionally when I laid out something for
her to eat in the adjoining cabin. She sang, too, some little sad songs
with a voice which vibrated upon my ear like the notes of an Æolian harp
sighing in the night wind. _Dios!_ how I regretted then and afterward
that I did not have a cabinet piano!"

"Presented to you," suggested the doctor.

"Yes, presented to me, so that she might have touched the keys with
those ivory and rose-tipped fingers.

"So the time passed, the schooner flying on under whole sails, the wind
about two points free, and the weather as fine as silk. It was the
fourth evening, I think, after parting with the Oporto trader that I
induced my fair passenger to come on deck and take a little breath of
sea-air. You will observe, _caballeros_, that I did not make this
suggestion in the daytime, because the 'Centipede's' crew, you know,
were rather numerous, and some of them not so handsome in point of
personal looks as ladies at all times care to behold. Besides, there
were certain things about the decks--racks of cutlasses, lockers of
musketry along the rail, and a long brass twelve-pounder, which is not
altogether hidden by the boat, you know, and might have given rise to a
little curiosity, or maybe suspicion, even in the mind of a girl, as to
our character, pursuits, and so forth, which I should have been puzzled
to answer. Therefore I chose a clear starlight night to pay my homage,
and accordingly I went below about four bells of the first watch to
escort the little lady to the deck. She was dressed, and waiting for me
in the cabin; and if I was so struck with her beauty when I first saw
her, my heart thumped now against my ribs like a volley of musket-balls
against an oak plank. She wore a black silk robe, such as Spanish women
wear at early mass, and around the back part of her head--where the hair
was gathered in a glossy knot, and secured by a gold bodkin--fell the
heavy folds of a black lace mantilla, the lower end fastened sash
fashion around her lithe waist. She stepped, too, like a queen on a pair
of slim, long, delicate feet, with arched ball and instep, as if she
were in command of the schooner.

"By my right arm!" exclaimed Captain Brand, shaking that member aloft in
a glorious fit of enthusiasm, "I am quite sure she had conquered me, and
that was more than half the battle!

"Well, I led her to the quarter-deck, where some cushions and flags had
been placed for her near the weather taffrail, and where she sat down.
The schooner was at the time under the two gaff-top-sails, the main boom
and sheets eased off a little, those long masts, with the sticks above
them running clear away up the sky, almost out of sight, bending like
whalebone, and reeling over the long swell when the breeze freshened;
and not a sound to be heard save now and then a light creak from the
main boom as the broad white sail strained flat and taut over to
leeward, or the rush of the water as it came hissing along from her
sharp, clean bows, with a noise like a breeze through the leaves of a
forest, away off over the counter into luminous sparkles as it swished
out into our wake. The 'Centipede' was indeed doing her best, and you
all know what that is, when we have been chased many and many a time by
some of the fastest cruisers going.

"You remember, Don Ignaçio, how the 'Juno' frigate nearly ran us under,
and yet never gained a fathom on us in nine hours?"

"Ay, _amigo_; but, had she not carried away her fore-top-mast, in
another hour there would have been nothing left of you afloat but
a--hencoop perhaps."

"_Quien sabe, compadre?_ If hads had been shads you would have had fish
for your breakfast," rejoined the narrator; and then throwing back
the lappels of his green velvet coat with an air of gentlemanly
satisfaction, he hooked his thumbs in the arm-holes of his fine
waistcoat, and went on.

"Well, _señores_, the graceful girl beside me never spoke scarcely for
half an hour. I divined, however, what her thoughts might have been in
dwelling on the painful scenes she had recently witnessed, and I held my
peace also; for, you see, I have had considerable experience with women,
and I have ever found that a man loses more by talking than by remaining
watchful and attentive."

Captain Brand looked, as he gave utterance to this philosophical
sentiment, as if he were a thirsty, cold-eyed tiger, lying in wait to
spring upon an unwary passer-by.

"Yes, I waited, until at last she spoke.

"'_Capitano_,' she said, 'what a beautiful vessel you command, and how
fast she sails!'

"What I replied, my friends, is neither here nor there; but I sank down
on the cushions beside the lovely girl, and poured out a torrent of
passionate words--which I really felt, too, at the time--as I don't
think I ever uttered before or since. She was a little startled and
nervous at first, but after a while I saw her stately head droop to one
side till it rested on my shoulder; I stole my arm around her yielding
waist and clasped her to my breast."

Here Captain Brand looked as if the tiger had already sprung upon the
passer-by, and was sucking the blood, with his claws buried deep into
the carcass.

"'_Señor_,' she murmured, in the low, sweet, plaintive note of a
nightingale, 'I am a young and inexperienced girl, of an old and noble
family; you have saved my life; my mother is gone, and I have no one to
advise with, and, if my dear father smiles upon my choice, I will marry
you; but do not, I implore you, deceive me!'"

"And you did not deceive her, I hope?" broke in the doctor, with a
shiver of light from his determined eyes that was almost painful to see,
so earnest and terrible it was, as he leaned forward with both of his
clenched hands quivering nervously on the table.

Captain Brand looked at the doctor with rather a suspicious stare, and
letting his thumbs drop from his armpits till they rested on the flaps
of his waistcoat pockets, he replied, in a careless tone,

"Oh no, _monsieur_, I never deceived--a--that is to say, intentionally
deceived a woman in all my life!"

"Let us hear more, my son," said the priest, thickly, who had now woke
up from a short nap.

"_Bueno, caballeros!_" continued the narrator, as he tossed off a
thimbleful of maraschino from a wicker-bound square bottle after his
coffee. "Well, gentlemen, the young Portuguese damsel, Señorita
Lucia, and I sat there under the weather rail till the first faint
streaks of early dawn in the tropics began to announce the coming of
the gray morning. Then she arose, and, leaning with a soft pressure on
my arm, I took her to her cabin, kissed her sweet hands, and bade her
good-night."

At this stage of the narrative Captain Brand threw himself triumphantly
back in his large Manilla chair, and ran his white muscular hands
through his dry light hair. Ay! the tiger had clutched his prey. An
unprotected, young, and lovely girl had been won and lost, and her
palpitating heart was soon to be torn from her tender body.



CHAPTER XVI.

NUPTIALS OF THE GIRL WITH DARK EYES.

    "With a pint and a quarter of holy water
      He made the sacred sign,
    And he dashed the whole on the only daughter
      Of old Plantagenet's line!"

    "But the count he felt the nervous work
    No more than any polygamous Turk,
        Or bold piratical skipper,
    Who, during his buccaneering search,
    Would as soon engage a 'hand' at church
        As a hand on board his clipper."


The captain got up from his chair, stepped to the settee, and, pulling
the signal-cord on the wall, held a short dialogue with the man at the
station; then, saying in a low, sharp whisper through the tube, "A
bright look-out, Pedro!" he resumed his place at the table. The doctor
had, in the mean while, got up and gone to the veranda, where, swinging
in a Yucatan grass hammock, shielded from the night wind, lay his little
patient sleeping soundly. Carefully closing the curtains again around
him, he returned to his place. The padre was now all awake again, with
his thick lips open, waiting for the captain to go on with his story. As
for Don Ignaçio, he never stirred body or limb, but his eye traveled
about perpetually, and he observed the movements of his companions all
at the same time. Still the hoarse roar of the pirates in their carouse
arose from the covered sheds in the calm night, and the two solitary
lights from each mast-head of the felucca and schooner twinkled above
the basin of the inlet.

"And now, _amigos_," began again Captain Brand, after he had assured
himself that all was going on as he could wish without, "I shall inform
you of the sequel of my adventure with the Señorita Lucia. The evening
after the night on which I had declared my passion, we were seated at
dinner in the after cabin. Such a choice little dinner, too, as only our
late friend, Lascar Joe, could prepare! Poor fellow, he'll never make
another of those famous curries, though, no doubt, he'll find fire and
pepper enough where he is, if the devil chooses to employ him. What a
neat hand he was, too, with that spiral-bladed Malay creese of his! Ah!
well--we were sitting over the dessert, and I was relating to my pretty
passenger some account of my early days, and of my lady mother and my
old squire of a father, omitting, perhaps, some few uninteresting
details--"

Here the old commander of the felucca cackled, and his black, beady eye
glittered as the thought flashed through his head as to what details his
villainous compeer had omitted. How he forged his old father's name,
which brought down his gray hairs in sorrow and disgrace to the grave;
and how his poor mother, too, died of grief, together with other bitter
memories, all of which Captain Brand, the pirate, omitted to mention.

"Yes, I related likewise some of my early privateering adventures, when
all the broad Atlantic was alive with the fleets of France, England, and
Spain; how I was captured by a Spanish brigantine"--omitting again to
state that he got up a mutiny with the crew of that brigantine,
poniarded the captain and mate in their sleep, and, assuming command of
the vessel, changed her colors for a black flag, and began his career as
a pirate in the Caribbean Sea--"and how I escaped. To all this she
listened with great interest, her large eyes dilating, and her bosom
swelling with sympathy as I proceeded, when suddenly the cabin door
opened, and my ugly friend Pedillo put his head in, and gave me a
warning nod.

"'What is it?' I said, rather sharply, to Pedillo; 'and how dare you
intrude inside my cabin?' I fear, too, that I came very near doing a
mischief to my boatswain; for I am rather impulsive at times, and by the
merest accident I happened to have a small pistol in my pocket."

Don Ignaçio twitched his sleeve, and looked as if he believed such
accidents as pistols being found in the narrator's pockets happened
quite often.

"'_Señor_,' said Pedillo, 'there are two sail standing out from the lee
of Culebra Island, and one of them appears to be a large--'

"I stopped any farther particulars from the lips of my subordinate by a
motion of my finger, and then, kissing the hands of the girl, who was
somewhat surprised at what had transpired, I left the cabin and jumped
on deck.

"The schooner was now running down through the Virgin's Passage between
St. Thomas and Porto Rico, with a fine breeze on the quarter, and the
sun was just sinking behind the last-named island. I snatched a
spy-glass from the rail, and looked ahead. There, sure enough, was a
sixteen-gun brig on the starboard tack heading across our track, and a
large frigate under single-reefed top-sails stretching away over to the
opposite shores of Culebra, while they were telegraphing bunting one
with another as fast as the bright-colored flags could talk. And, as
luck would have it, as I swept the glass round, what should I see but a
long rakish corvette in company with a huge whale of a line-of-battle
ship, with her double tier of ports glimmering away in the slanting rays
of the sun, both on the wind, and coming out from under the lee of
Culebra Point, just a mile or two astern of us. By the blood of
Barabbas, _caballeros_, we were in a trap for wolves, and the hounds
were in full cry! I immediately, however, luffed the schooner up, and
steered boldly for the frigate; and, as a puff of smoke spouted out from
the lee bow of the admiral to windward, and before the boom of the gun's
report reached us, I hoisted American colors. Seeing this, the brig hove
in stays, and, perhaps being ordered to board me, came staggering along
on the other tack across our forefoot, while the frigate went round too,
and held her wind toward her consorts to windward. Now this was just the
disposition which I wanted of the vessels, and it could not have been
done better for my plans had I been the admiral of the squadron. In less
than a quarter of an hour, the brig--and no great things she was, with a
contemptible battery, as I could see, of short carronades--hove aback a
little on the bow of the schooner, and gave us a warning of a
twenty-four pound shot across our forefoot, to heave to also, at the
same time hoisting the English ensign.

"So ho!" ejaculated Captain Brand, as he twisted the point of his nose,
accompanied by a malevolent scowl, "_señores_, I at once hauled flat aft
the fore-sail, dropped the main peak, and put the helm up, as if to
round to under the brig's stern; whereupon my man-of-war friend dropped
a cutter into the water, and she had just shoved off in readiness to
board me, when, before you could light a paper cigar, I ran up the main
peak, got a pull of the sheets, and the 'Centipede' was off again like a
shark with his fin above water, heading for the narrow passage between
Culebra and Crab Islands. It was at least five minutes before that
stupid brig could believe his eyes, and ten more before he got hold of
the boat again, when she filled away and began to pop gun after gun at
me as fast as he could bring his battery to bear! There was only one
shot that skipped on board us, and that only smashed both legs of a
negro, and then hopped off through the fore-sail to windward.

"Had I not had a good dinner that day and pleasant society on
board"--how peculiarly the speaker smiled--"I should perhaps have taught
that brig such a lesson that he would not have cared to report it to his
admiral. But as I knew I had the heels of him, and as the rest of the
squadron were now crowding all sail and keeping off in chase of me, I
ordered Pedillo, just by way of touching my hat and saying '_Adios_,' to
clear away the long gun and return the brig's salute. The shot struck
him just forward the night-heads by the bowsprit, and by the way the
splinters flew and his jib and head-sails came down, I knew I had
crippled him for an hour at least. At the same time, to prevent any
mistakes as to our quality, and to satisfy the admiral's curiosity, we
hauled down the Yankee colors and set our swallow-tailed flag!"

"Rather dark bunting! no?" edged in Don Ignaçio.

"Ay, _amigo_! as black as that eye of thine, though not half so
murderous," retorted the pirate as he continued his narrative.

"_Bueno_, there came the whole of the squadron down after us, spitting
out from their bridle ports mouthfuls of cold iron, which all went to
the bottom of the Virgin's Passage, for not one came within a mile of
the schooner; and then I led them such a dance through that intricate
cluster of reefs and islets, that soon after dark they gave up the game,
and I said '_Buenos noches_' to them all!"

Here Captain Brand paused, made a careful selection of a beautifully
turned trabuco cigar from the box, shouted to Babette to produce some
old Santa Cruz rum, sugar, lemons, and hot water--screeching hot, he
said--at which the padre crossed himself; and then throwing his fine
legs, incased in the lustrous silk stockings, on a chair beside him, and
while his eyes gazed fondly on the brilliants sparkling in the buckles
of his shoes, he resumed his tale.

"When I went below again, after every thing had become quiet on deck, I
found my stag-eyed sweetheart waiting to receive me! How superbly she
looked as she made a movement from the cushions where she had been
reclining, and exclaimed,

"'Oh, _señor_, what has happened, and what was the cause of all that
noise of guns, and those cries of agony I heard above?'

"'_Querida Lucia_, dearest,' I replied, 'we have been where there
are--a--pirates, but fortunately have escaped, and the cries you heard
were from one of my poor crew who got slightly wounded by a shot!'

"'Ah, _malditos piratos_! cursed pirates!' exclaimed the charming
beauty, as she put both her hands in mine, 'and how thankful am I that
you are not hurt! But, _querido mio_! dear one!' she went on, 'when
shall we get to Porto Rico and _our_ dear father? We must be near, for I
heard one of your sailors shout to you the name of the island!'

"In reply, I told her that we had been near Porto Rico, but
that--a--circumstances were such, on account of the dangerous pirates
who infested those seas, that I felt obliged, for her safety--you
understand--to run along by way of Hispaniola--she not having a very
clear idea of the position and geography of those parts--and that our
cruise might probably be prolonged for a few days more."

"And into h----, perhaps," said the doctor, with a hollow voice and a
calm cold eye.

"Oh no, my friends, certainly nothing so bad as that. Possibly to
heaven! but, _quien sabe_? no one can tell!

"However," pursued the captain, "I soon succeeded in allaying her
apprehensions, and then I threw myself at her feet, and implored her to
risk her father's displeasure and to marry me at once; that she knew her
father was cold, stern, and obdurate, and should he frown upon my suit I
should die of despair!"

"_Cierto!_" murmured Ignaçio, with the grin of a skeleton.

"I used these passionate appeals and many more, until at last the fond
girl yielded her consent to my entreaties.

"'But the priest, _querido mio_!' she exclaimed, as she rose and
disengaged herself from my arms. I told her that I chanced to have one
on board as a passenger, who would perform the ceremony.

"And so I had," added Captain Brand, "or at least a very near approach
to one, for my ugly boatswain, Pedillo, had been bred up--as an
acolyte--you comprehend--in the house of a rich old prelate of San Paulo
Cathedral in Trinidad, to whom Pedillo, one fine morning, gave about
eight inches of his cuchillo!"

"_Jesus Maria!_" exclaimed Padre Ricardo, starting back with horror, and
telling his beads.

"Ay, _mi padre_! Pedillo assassinated the holy father, and plundered his
cash-box besides; and so you see Pedillo was just the man I wanted."

Don Ignaçio nodded his wicked old head through a cloud of cigar smoke as
a sign of approval.

"Accordingly, _señores_, the next day I made the trusty Pedillo cut off
all the bushy beard about his ugly face, and had the crown of his head
shaved besides--quite like that round, oily spot there on the top of
good Ricardo's poll--and then he rigged himself out in a clerical gown,
to which the trunks of my bride's old mother contributed, and, take my
word for it, he was as proper and rascally a looking priest as could be
found on the island of Cuba. He performed the ceremony, too, by way of
practice, on Lascar Joe and the second cook beforehand, with as much
decorum and solemnity, and gave as pious a benediction, as his old
Trinidad uncle, the prelate, ever did. Well, that evening we were
married."

"How many times has the _capitano_ been married?" grunted out Don
Ignaçio.

"Why, let me reflect," as he threw his cold, icy look at the frame of
miniatures on the opposite wall. "You mean, _compadre_, how often the
ceremony has been performed. Ah! I think on eleven occasions. No, it was
only ten. Madame Mathilde had two husbands living when I made love to
her, and declined to take a third. But then, you know, I have an
affectionate disposition, and I can not set my heart against the
fascinations of the sex."

He gave vent to these moral sentiments as if he really meant them to be
believed and generally adopted by his audience.

"Well, that same evening I was married to the beautiful Señorita Lucia
Lavarona, though I am sorry to say that Pedillo did not perform his part
of the business as well as I had expected of him, from his practice in
the morning. He stammered a good deal, and when he raised the crucifix
to the lips of the young girl, her innocent looks and maidenly majesty
of deportment so struck my coadjutor with confusion that he let the
crucifix fall to the deck at her dainty feet. This little incident
caused me some displeasure; but, reflecting that the poet tells us

    'A tiger, 'tis said, will turn and flee
    From a maid in the pride of her purity,'

I said nothing to the abashed Pedillo as I gave him back the emblem; but
I favored him with a look, with my right hand in my pocket--this
fashion."

Here the cold-blooded scoundrel dipped his thumb and fore finger into
the flap of his waistcoat, while the commander of the "Guarda Costa"
waved his brown digit before him, as if he knew what was there all the
time.

"Ah! that restored my new-made priest to his senses, and he then got
through the ceremony entirely to my satisfaction.

"However," said Captain Brand, turning with lazy indifference toward
Padre Ricardo, "ever after this I resolved not to take the risk of such
another chance of failure, and this is the reason why I first sought
your services."

"_Gracias à Dios!_ Thanks be to heaven, my son, that you found me!" said
the sacrilegious wretch, as he bowed to his superior and sipped a glass
of rum punch. "_Vamonos!_ let us hear more."

"At the conclusion of our nuptials, while I held my sweet Lucia to my
heart, and kissed her pale brow, and while tears of crystal drops, half
in rapture and half in sorrow, dimmed her large, sparkling black eyes,
she withdrew this royal sapphire from her slender finger, and gently
placing the gem on mine--where you see it, _amigos_--she said,

"'My dear and only love, this is the talisman of my race. It has been
for ages in my family, and it has been the guardian of our hope and
honor. Receive it, friend of my heart, and be the protector of the young
girl who yielded up to you her very soul!'"

The doctor started as if he had been stung by a scorpion; but Captain
Brand, heedless or inattentive to the movement, went on:

"Yes, _caballeros_, those were her very words; murmured, too, in her low
contralto tones with a pure, lisping Castilian accent, as she laid her
stately head on my shoulder.

"Ay, those were rapturous moments; and it was in some degree--yes, I may
say in truth--entirely her own fault that they did not last.

"Well, for some days--eight or ten, perhaps--with light baffling winds,
we crept stealthily along the south side of St. Domingo; but the weather
was delightful, and the time passed on the wings of a zephyr. In the
warm, soft evenings, with the moon or stars shedding their pearly gleams
over the sea, she sat beside me on the deck of the schooner, watching
with girlish interest the white sails above her head, or singing to me
the sweet little sequidillas of her native land. And again, starting up
from my arms, she would peep over the counter, trace the foam as it
flashed and bubbled in our wake, or point to the track of a dolphin as
he leaped above the luminous waves and went like a bullet to windward.

"I flatter myself, _caballeros_, that there have been periods in my
career on the high seas, or on land, and may be again, for aught I
know," continued the elegant pirate, as he crossed his legs and threw
back the lappels of his velvet coat, so as to expose the magnificence of
his waistcoat, and the frills on his broad, muscular chest, "when men of
high birth and breeding, and lovely women too of noble lineage, have not
thought it beneath them to dine with or to receive the homage
of--a--Captain Brand.

"And, _por Dios_!"--the narrator did not consider it unbecoming his
cloth and profession to swear in a foreign language--"_por Dios!_
_señores_, I have known the time, too, when I have played whist with a
French prince of the blood and two knights of the Golden Fleece."

"And you fleeced them? No?" muttered Don Ignaçio, with an envious
glimmer from his greedy eye, as if no one had a right to rob the
community but himself.

"And not only that," continued the captain, rapidly, "but the daughter
of an English peer of the realm once proposed to run away with me. Ho!
ho! yes, she actually proposed to elope with me; but as she was verging
on fifty years, and only weighed fifty pounds, with never a pound in her
pocket, I sighed my regrets. Ay, great compliment it was, but I declined
the honor. You yourself, _compadre_, must remember how I was received by
the people on the Buena Vista villa at Principe; how the obispo blessed
me, the old general embraced me, and the beautiful marquesa, with the
hour-glass waist, smiled on me."

"_Cierto!_" That astute old Spaniard never forgot any thing, particularly
a debt due to him; and he remembered, moreover, to have heard that when
the noble _Mi Lord Inglez_ left the villa one dark night, a good deal of
plate, jewels, doubloons, and other valuable property disappeared with
him. Ay, the sly old fellow had a faint recollection as well of seeing
a heavily-armed schooner running the gauntlet through the forts before
daylight, and that she left a certain bag of gold ounces for him--Don
Ignaçio Sanchez--somewhere in a secret hole beneath a well-known rock
inside the harbor. Oh, a wonderful memory for matters of this nature
had our rapacious one-eyed acquaintance!

"Yes," went on his partner in many a scene of pillage and crime, "I have
every reason to know that I won the hearts, and purses too, sometimes,
of some of the fine people I met in refined society. But yet there have
been occasions when the game has gone against me--"

Don Ignaçio's tenacious memory came again into play, and he looked back
to the time when he himself had cleaned his profuse friend out of all
his gains at the card-table, even to the buttons off his coat; but he
gave no sign of remembrance of those days, and only blew a dense cloud
of smoke from his thin yellow nostrils as the captain spoke.

"--Though those occasions have not been of frequent recurrence."

The good Padre Ricardo at this juncture hoped that, by Saint Barnabas,
luck might, in all time to come, befriend his son and patron; croaking,
too, with a goblet of punch to his unctuous lips, "_Vamonos!_ Tell us
more of the adorable Doña Lucia!"

Captain Brand rapped his snuff-box, opened the diamond-crusted lid, took
a dainty pinch, laid his cambric handkerchief over his kerseymere
breeches, and resumed his narrative.

"So passed the days, _caballeros_; and when, one morning, the high
mountains back of Port Guantamano were reported to me, I felt a
presentiment that my dream of bliss was drawing to a close. Indeed, I
might probably have remained at sea a week or two longer, but the men
were getting a little impatient, and I thought it better to sacrifice my
own pleasure to theirs. That day we caught a cracking breeze out of the
Windward Passage, and toward midnight we came up with this little sandy
island here.

"The preparations for going into port excited the curiosity of my bride;
for, poor thing! she believed we were bound into Porto Rico, and I had
some trouble in inducing her to go below before we crossed the reef.
_Bueno!_ the coast was clear, the signals were all right, and an hour
later the schooner had her anchor down and sails furled pretty much in
the spot where she now lies moored.

"While, however, we were sweeping up the inlet, I sent a boat ahead,
with directions for my tidy old housekeeper, Babette, to have every
thing prepared to receive her new mistress. Just then one of those
terrible thunder-storms came up; heavy masses of clouds obscured the
sky, followed by such double-barrel shocks and intensely vivid lightning
as is only beheld in the tropics preceding the equinox. The rain, too,
came along in horizontal sheets, driven by a squall which burst in fury
over the island, and it seemed to me that all the devils from hell were
howling and shrieking in the air.

"Shielded from the storm by a large boat-cloak, I carried my beautiful
bride, with her face nestling on my breast, to the cove, and then I bore
her into this fine saloon.

"I shall never forget the sweet words she whispered, and the loving
caresses she gave me on that little journey, even while the tempest
almost dashed me to the ground, and the sharp flashes of lightning
nearly blinded me. They were the last she ever lavished upon me."

No sigh escaped the lips of this cold-blooded monster as he uttered
these words; no sign of feeling for the ruin of a gentle girl whom he
had betrayed to his piratical den of infamy and crime--whose dream of
life was destroyed like a crushed rose-leaf, and all her hope gone from
that moment.



CHAPTER XVII.

DOOM OF DOÑA LUCIA.

      "I went into the storm,
    And mocked the billows of the tossing sea;
    I said to Fate, What wilt thou do to me?
      I have not harmed a worm!

      "Thy dim eyes tell a tale--
    A piteous tale of vigils; and the trace
    Of bitter tears is on thy beauteous face;
      Beauteous, and yet so pale!"


"Thus it ever is, _caballeros_, and ever will be," went on Captain
Brand, in rather a reflecting strain. "There is a point to begin
and stop, and an end to joy as well as grief. We should, however,
take the world as it comes and as it goes. I do, and so do you,
_compadre_!"--pitching a cigar spear fashion at Don Ignaçio to
attract his attention--"and, therefore, we should never look too
far ahead, and live only for the present.

"Indulging then in this train of thought, as I set down my lovely burden
here, and the cloak fell from her shoulders, I was prepared for any
thing which might happen. I wore a slightly different costume at the
time than that she had been accustomed to see me in, as I always do when
I think there might be a chance of a surprise or trap laid for us in
entering the inlet. So, instead of fine linen and velvet, I had on a red
flannel shirt, canvas trowsers, with a cutlass slung to my side, and a
pair of pistols in my belt. I don't think I appear handsome in that rig,
but the fellows at my back somehow think it is becoming to me,
especially when we are engaged in a hand-to-hand fight! What say you,
_compadre_?"

The Don said nothing, and merely waved his fore finger, as if dress was
not a matter to which he devoted much attention. He thought, however,
that sleeves should be cut loose for knives when the pockets were not
too small for pistols; but he uttered no word.

"_Bueno!_ There I stood"--pointing to the corner of the room as he
spoke--"drenched with rain, and there stood my tall and lovely wife!

"The saloon was brilliantly lighted; a profusion of plants and flowers
were clustered here, there, and every where, on cabinets and tables, in
striking contrast to the display exhibited yonder in that armory, where
pikes, muskets, and knives were gleaming through the open door.

"Quick as the lightning which was piercing deep into the inmost crevices
of the rocks and lighting up the crag without, Lucia's dark eyes flashed
around the apartment from floor to ceiling, from flower to blade,
resting an instant on the frame of miniatures there--hers was not among
the collection _then_; it is the one in the middle, doctor--"

There were no knives on the table, or else, from the deadly look the
doctor gave, he might have perhaps sprinkled the narrator's heart's
blood on the floor.

"--Until at last her gaze of terror rested on _me_! No one, I fancy, can
tell the power of Spanish girls, who has never seen them when the whole
passion of their souls, either in love or hate, comes pouring in a black
blaze of jet from their gleaming eyes.

"Advancing a step toward me, with her white hands clasped together, she
said, in a hurried, beseeching voice--and low as was the sound, I heard
it distinctly during the crashing thunder which shook the rocks of the
crag to their foundations--

"'_Señor!_ where am I? My father! Who--who--in the name of the Blessed
Virgin, art _thou_?'

"Again giving a look of the utmost horror around the room, she pressed
her hands to her eyes, and said, in the same low, distinct tone,

"'Speak, _señor_! For the love of our holy Savior, speak!'

"I felt that the girl had saved me, by her own instinctive perception, a
world of painful explanations, and I replied,

"'Lucia! I divine that all farther concealments are useless; you are in
the haunt of the most noted pirate of these seas, and that man stands
before you.'

"_Caballeros!_" continued Captain Brand, "had my pretty prize swooned
away, or fallen down in a fit, or gone into hysterics and torn her
hair out by the roots, I should not have been greatly surprised; but
she did none of those things. On the contrary, she became as calm as
marble--frightfully so, in fact--and pushing back the bands of her
magnificent tresses from her pale forehead, she raised her round
white arm aloft, with her slender fore finger quivering like the tongue
of a viper in mid air, and then poured forth such a torrent of
awfully impressive words that I quailed before her.

"Yes, _señores_, I am no coward, take me when you will; but on this
occasion I must honestly admit that I stood powerless before the gaze
and gesture of that slight, delicately-formed woman.

"'Pirate--wretch--monster! may the curses of hell be heaped upon thee!
Murderer--betrayer! may thy heart be burned, and thy soul blasted
forever!'

"I need not pain you, _señores_, by reciting the cruel words that came
hissing through her closed teeth, nor yet farther describe the terrible
concentrated gaze of hate and fury which streamed from those gleaming
eyes. Suffice it to say, that though often afterward I was treated in
the same manner, yet, on the occasion alluded to, I cut short the
interview by summoning Babette to see her mistress to her chamber, and
then, glad to escape, I went out of the house and attended to the duties
which required my presence."

The padre, with his flat lips half open, eagerly drinking in--with his
Santa Cruz punch--the words of his patron; the doctor, calm, unmoved
now, and thoughtful; the one-eyed old rascal, still puffing his
cigarettes and allowing no rest to his uneasy, suspicious optic, all sat
listening, with each an interest peculiarly his own, to the fate of Doña
Lucia. The narrator leisurely arose and held his hourly confab with the
man at the signal-station, and then returning to his place, proceeded
with his discourse:

"I shall pass rapidly over, my friends, many little incidents of a
rather unpleasant nature which occurred here, in this my rocky retreat,
for some months after the interview which I have described. I tried
every argument and persuasion I was master of to bring my proud bride to
reason, but to all my entreaties she turned a cold and chilling stare of
obdurate hate. Day by day the intensity of her detestation grew stronger
and stronger, and seemed to have become a part of her nature. Yes; the
gentle, yielding girl I had won on board the 'Centipede' had now become
as stern and unbending as a rock, and my controlling power over her mind
and love was gone. I left her entirely to herself for some weeks, until
one day I thought her passion might have subsided, and once more,
attired in a rich and splendid suit, I came in here, as she sat like a
marble statue at table. She never looked up at my entrance, but her eyes
shone like stars as she mechanically went through the forms of the
dinner laid before her.

"'Lucia!' I said, gayly. No answer by word or look. 'Lucia! _querida
mia!_' I repeated, and, sinking on one knee beside her, attempted to
take her hand.

"By all the saints, _señores_, that came near--very near--being the last
time that I ever should kneel to a woman; for with a movement so sudden
that I had barely time to leap aside, she snatched a long pointed
carving-knife from the table and lunged full at my throat! The blade
just grazed my jugular artery, inflicting a slight wound. But she never
turned round to see the extent of her effort, and again sat calm and
rigid at the table.

"This was my last visit save one. I had long before abandoned these
comfortable quarters entirely, and occupied the rooms you do, _mi
padre_, out there among the men. In fact, my stern young bride was in
entire command of the island; and even my good Babette here stood in
such awe of her that she always crossed herself when called to approach
her mistress.

"Month by month matters went on in this way, until the rainy season had
gone, and I was preparing for another cruise in the schooner; but hour
by hour the consuming passion which flamed in the veins of Lucia was
doing its work. I sometimes beheld her standing out on the veranda, tall
and stately as ever; and when the moon was at the full, it threw its
light upon her wan and sunken cheeks, and thin, wasted frame. Ay, there
she stood, like an almost transparent statue of alabaster, with her dark
eyes shining with an unearthly light, turned in one long tearless gaze
upon the ledge and combing breakers to seaward. It was singular, too,
the effect she produced even upon the horde of these brave fellows of
mine, for no persuasion could induce a man of them to come within
pistol-shot of that part of the house while she was thus keeping her
nightly vigils. And as for Pedillo, he acquired such a superstitious
dread of the girl he had married, and lived in such a state of abject
terror, that I had serious thoughts of shooting him through the head to
avoid the contaminating influence he exercised over his comrades.

"Well, _caballeros_, late one Saturday night, while the men were
carousing and drinking success to the coming cruise--we were to sail on
the following Monday--and while I was returning from my usual stroll to
the Tiger's Trap to see the battery in order and the look-outs wide
awake, I met Babette toddling along, nearly out of breath.

"'What is it, old lady?' You know, _amigos_, that Babette never spoke a
word in her life, but she made signs to let me know that I was wanted at
the crag, and that there was no time to be lost. I quickened my pace,
and, preceded by Babette, I once more darkened my own threshold. The
curtains and hangings were all closely drawn in the saloon here, and it
was dark as a tomb; but there was a light burning yonder in the passage
leading to the chamber, and I made my way to the door.

"I shall never forget what I saw, though I should like to, as it comes
to me sometimes in the night, or when I am left much alone by myself."

The pirate passed his hands over his eyes as if he saw something while
he spoke, and then, letting his voice drop to an almost sepulchral
pitch, he went on hurriedly:

"I stood at the door, _caballeros_, and looked in. On the bed, which was
drawn to the middle of the chamber to get the air through the narrow
loopholed windows, with the gauze curtains falling square on all sides,
lay Lucia. Her attenuated frame scarcely presented an uneven surface
beneath the snowy sheet which covered it. Her superb hair was spread in
great black masses on the pillow, and her pale marble face reposed
there like an ivory picture in an ebony setting. Her eyes were wide
open, large and luminous, and her thin delicate hands were clasped
around a silver and pearl crucifix, which rested on her hollow breast. A
single taper in a silver lamp threw a lurid, flickering ray about the
room, and beside it was Babette on her knees quivering with terror,
while from one of the loopholed windows a broad white band of moonlight
streamed directly across the pillow and face of the dying girl."

Captain Brand's face assumed a deathly pallor, and, with his icy blue
eyes fixed on vacancy, and his voice sunk to a hoarse whisper, he went
on:

"As I appeared in the portals of the door, Lucia slowly raised her fore
finger, and beckoned me to approach. I could no more have resisted the
summons than if a chain cable to a frigate's anchor had caught me in its
iron coils, and was dragging me to the bottom of the sea. I moved to the
foot of the bed.

"'_Pirato!_' came from her slightly-parted lips, in her old low and
distinct tones. '_Pirato_, behold your cruel work! Destroyer of mother
and child--of soul and body--may the curses of a dying woman and her
unborn child haunt you by day and by night!' I was dumb, and my pulse
stopped beating.

"'_Ave Maria purissima!_' were the last words that came in a sweet, pure
whisper from her parted lips; she clasped the crucifix tighter, and the
spirit departed. I tore aside the gauze net to lay my hand on her heart,
when, on my soul! her right hand slowly relaxed its death-grasp on the
crucifix, and, rising to a vertical line, with the fore finger pointing
upward, quivered in the light of the waning moon, like, as it was, a
supernatural warning! Yes, that finger--"

[Illustration: "A SUPERNATURAL WARNING! YES, THAT FINGER--"]

"Mamma! mamma!" came in a weak, plaintive voice from the piazza, while
the villain, with his hands before him as if to shut out a frightful
vision, and eyeballs starting from their sockets, was hoarsely
whispering to his horror-stricken audience the last warning of the dead
Lucia.

As the low moaning cry in the stillness which reigned around the saloon
struck his ear, he sprang with a bound to his feet, and, quick as
thought, with a pistol in each hand, he shouted, "Who's there?"

"It is the little sick boy, _señor_. Do him no harm at your peril!" and
the doctor stood towering before the pirate's leveled weapons.

"_Maldito_ on the brat! Pshaw!" said Captain Brand, quieting down, and
returning the pistols to his pockets. "How nervous I am! Excuse me,
_caballeros_. I was thinking of something else."



CHAPTER XVIII.

END OF THE BANQUET.

    "There was turning of keys, and creaking of locks,
    As he stalked away with his iron box.
    Oh, ho! oh, ho! The cock doth crow,
    It is time for the fisher to rise and go.
    Fair luck to the abbot, fair luck to the shrine!
    He hath gnawed in twain my choicest line;
    Let him swim to the north, let him swim to the south,
    The _pirate_ will carry my hook in his mouth."


In the pause which followed the dreadful episode just recounted by
Captain Brand, the padre was occupied in pattering a prayer, counting
his beads, and elevating his crucifix as if he was mumbling high mass at
the altar. Don Ignaçio slowly waved his brown fore finger, and his
single spark of glowing eye glared fiercely and fixedly at his host. A
clammy sweat burst out on the pallid brow of the doctor, and his hands
were clutched before him on the table like the jaws of a steel vice. And
still the drunken shrieks and cheers of the piratical crew at the sheds
arose wild and shrill in the calm night, making a gloomy echo for the
banquet. The doctor was the first to break the awkward silence which
pervaded the saloon.

"_Capitano!_" said he, in his habitual calm, deep voice, "with respect
to what you said in the early part of the evening, of breaking up this
establishment, what, may I ask, are your plans for the future?"

"_Gracias!_ _amigo_ doctor! Thank you, my friend, for changing the
conversation. My plans! eh! ah! Well, they are these--"

Here Captain Brand's face assumed its usual expression; and entirely
himself again, he went on to state, in a precise, business-like way, the
views he had resolved upon for future action.

"--To-morrow, gentlemen, is Sunday. Those boisterous fellows out there,
after mass, will need rest all the day. On Monday, however, I shall
begin to change the rig of the schooner, fill up with provisions for a
long cruise, take on board all the loose odds and ends we have stowed
here, of course," he added, as he remarked an inquiring and a rather
alarmed mercenary look from the Tuerto's glim--"of course, after having
squared up all claims of our _compadre_ there!"

"Hum!" croaked that sharp rascal, with a nod of satisfaction quite like
an old raven.

"Then, _señores_, I shall burn or destroy the old sheds, and bury the
cannon and heavy articles we can not find room for in the 'Centipede;'
when, if nothing happens, we shall trip anchor and spread our sails for
sea!

"Babette! Babette! Really I believe that dear old negress has fallen
asleep. Babette! ah! there you are, my beauty! See if you can't give us
a bowl of okra gumbo before we break up here!"

Babette had not been asleep. Oh no! She had her ear to the door of the
saloon, and was listening to the sad history of Doña Lucia, and when her
master came to the final scene the old woman fell on her knees and
shivered all over, where she remained until the sound of the captain's
voice again called her to her duties.

"And when we have left these quiet waters, my son!" broke in the padre,
"what then?"

The fact was, that the carnivorous and vinous Father Ricardo knew that
his stomach was not suited for high winds and rough oceans, and was
hoping that some scheme might be devised to allow him to remain
tranquilly on the island.

"Why, holy padre, I propose to steer clear of the West Indies by some
unfrequented track, and, striking the broad Atlantic, stretch down the
coast of Brazil. Perhaps we may double Cape Horn, and see what those
miserable patriots are fighting for in Chili and Peru; then maybe across
the Pacific, to the lovely islands and maidens of Polynesia; so on to
the China Seas, where we may fall in with an outward-bound Canton
trader, or a galleon with a ton or two of silver on board--who
knows?--there is plenty of blue water and fine ships every where; so we
must be content."

Padre Ricardo made the sign of the cross, kissed his thumb and fore
finger, and, reaching his dirty paw over to the captain, shook hands
with him.

"Ay, _amigos_!" continued the leader, without minding the friendly
interruption; "yes, my friends, we shall, I trust, give the hounds in
search of us the slip; and even should they scent out this retired
little spot, they will have their trouble for their chase, and find
nothing but a few stones and heaps of rubbish above ground."

"They may find some little matters below, though," chimed in the
commander of the felucca.

"If they do," retorted the pirate, with a meaning scowl, "I'll put the
spy who betrays it to such a torture as that he'll wish himself below
ground when I come back here."

"_Cierto, amigo!_ no fear of that!" muttered the Tuerto, with some
little trepidation of manner. "_My_ papers are white."

"Captain Brand," said the doctor, "my contract with you is nearly up,
and since I only agreed--as you know--to enlist my professional services
here on shore, I presume you will have no objections to permit me to
depart with Don Ignaçio in the felucca."

It would be difficult to say what caused the flush of passion which
overspread the leader's face as he listened to this simple request, but
it was full a minute before he replied, and then, having weighed the
matter carefully in his mind, he said, in a precise and determined tone,
in French,

"_Monsieur le Docteur!_ the compacts that I have made with all those
that have taken service with me have never been broken except by death.
I can not, therefore, consider your request, and I shall expect you to
sail with me in the schooner."

Then he added, quickly, as he noticed a certain haughty expression in
his subordinate's face, "Pardon me, _monsieur_; we had better not
discuss this question now. Suppose you see me on the morrow."

"Willingly, _señor_, and you will find my resolution unchangeable."
Rising as he spoke, he bowed to his companions at table, and saying
"_Buenas noches!_ (good-night!)" he passed from the saloon to the
piazza. There he paused a moment, as if communing with himself, and then
approaching the grass hammock where the sick boy was sleeping, he gently
took the little fellow up in his arms. The child murmured "Mamma,
mamma!" and was borne away.

Captain Brand followed the doctor with his searching, sharklike eyes
until he had left the apartment, and there was something that denoted
danger in the look; but he uttered no sound, and, placing a finger on
his lip, he nodded meaningly to the padre.

A moment after Babette brought in the steaming gumbo soup, and the
pirate's feast was nearly ended. Don Ignaçio waited until his companions
had swallowed a goodly portion of the grateful mess, when he too
refreshed himself. Then making his salutations in his usual observant
manner, he departed. He declined, however, the offer of his host's
society to his boat, saying he had, he knew, half a dozen of the
felucca's crew outside the building to guard his footsteps, and he would
not put the _capitano_ to the trouble.

When the padre rose to give his benediction to his patron, the captain
took him impressively by the rope which girded his cassock about the
loins, and giving it a sharp jerk or two, he said,

"My holy father, I think we shall have a sad duty to perform to-morrow.
Our old friend Gibbs has behaved badly, and I shall punish him. He is
now in the Capella dungeon. After early mass go and console him."

The padre returned a meaning smile, crossed himself, and slowly left the
pirate alone in his saloon.



CHAPTER XIX.

FANDANGO ON ONE LEG.

    "God! 'tis a fearsome thing to see
    That pale wan man's mute agony--
    Those pinioned arms, those hands that ne'er
    Shall be lifted again--not even in prayer!
    That heaving chest! Enough; 'tis done!
    The bolt has fallen! the spirit is gone."


Day dawned in the east. The early spikes of morning shot up in rosy
bands from behind the lofty hills of Cuba and announced the coming of
the sun. The inlet and basin, framed in by their rocky walls, were still
clothed in the gloom of night, and dimly reflecting the fading stars on
the calm unruffled surface where the schooner and felucca were moored.
Away off in the distance a dense white misty vapor hung flat and low
over the lagoon and thickets of mangroves, with not a breath of air to
disturb the noxious fog or quiver a leaf in the silent groves. The
revels, too, of the drunken sailors had long since ceased; the
sentinels, with their cutlasses in the sheaths, paced slowly to and fro
before the doors of the sheds, and the look-outs at the signal-stations
and battery peered through the early dawn to seaward; else not a sound
or moving thing, save a teal or two fluttering with a sharp cry up and
down the lagoon; the music of the tiny ripples lapping on the shelly
beach; and the low roar, in a deep bass, breaking and moaning over the
ledge beyond the island. Such was the appearance of things where our
scene is laid in the Twelve League Group of Keys, on a Sunday morning,
in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and five.

Half a mile, perhaps, inland from the sheds where the sailors lived, and
beneath the steep face of the ridge-like crag which split the island in
two parts, stood a low chapel, built of loose stones nicely fitted
together and roofed with tiles. A rough iron cross was fastened over the
doorless entrance, and at the other end was a stone balustrade, with a
rude painting of the Virgin over the altar, on which stood four or five
tall brass candlesticks and a lighted taper. Outside the building was a
narrow and secluded inclosure, surrounded by a low wall of coral rocks,
with a few head-stones marked with black crosses--the graves of the
pirates whose bones reposed beneath. At one end of this burial-place was
still another subdivision, where stood ten upright flat white stones,
on whose faces were rudely carved initial letters, with the years in
which the eternal sleepers had been laid beneath the sand. Far and near
sprang up close and almost impenetrable thickets of cactus, whose sharp
and pointed needle-shoots defied the passage of any thing more bulky
than land-crabs and lizards. One or two narrow pathways had been cut out
here and there, but they were overgrown again by the stubborn, hardy
vegetation; and only with the risk of losing one's trowsers, and having
one's legs cut in gashes, could a human being struggle through it.

Within the chapel kneeled a dozen or more of the "Centipede's" crew, the
coarse and sodden faces and uncombed locks, from their night's debauch,
in striking contrast to the place and the apparent devoutness of manner
in which they crossed themselves while the rites of the Church were
going on. Before the altar stood Padre Ricardo, with his breviary on the
chancel beneath the taper, and chanting forth from his deep lungs the
services of the mass. In a few minutes the unholy hands and lips which
performed the solemn ceremony ceased word and gesture, and with a
sonorous benediction at the elevation of the Host, and a tinkle of a
bell, the sailors arose from their knees and again staggered back to the
sheds, to slumber through the day. When all had gone, the padre clasped
his missal, tucked it into his bosom, and making the sign of the cross
with a genuflexion before the Virgin, the sacrilegious wretch turned and
left the chapel.

Pursuing the winding path which led to his own habitation for a certain
distance, he then turned to the left, and carefully picking his way
through the sharp cactus and Spanish bayonets along the face of the
crag, he stopped at a yawning fissure which gaped open in the rock.
Here, too, the same wiry vegetation had crept, and it was with great
difficulty, and many an "_Ave!_" and "_Santa Maria!_" that the padre
succeeded in passing into the dark, rugged mouth of the cavern.

"By the ashes of San Lorenzo!" he muttered, "there are serpents and
venomous insects in this pit of purgatory. Oh, _misericordia_! what has
pierced my leg? Why should my son drag me through this hole? Ah! blessed
Saint Barnabas! a slimy reptile has crossed my instep!"

Feeling with his outspread hands in his fright, as he gradually made his
way into the dripping cavern, getting narrower and lower as he
proceeded, he at last, after stumbling prayerfully along for about a
hundred and fifty yards, came to a loose pile of stones. Here opened
another low narrow fissure on the left, and, in some doubt, he was about
to enter; but the noise he made by stepping on a stone was answered by
the hissing warning of a serpent, and the scared padre fell back at his
full length in a pool of stagnant slimy water.

"_O Madre di Dios!_ I am stung by a cobra! Holy Virgin! my new cassock
ruined too! _Ave Maria!_ light me out of this abode of the devil!"

Slowly recovering, however, from his fright, he once more regained his
feet, and, after a few steps, which he was obliged to accomplish by
scraping his crown against the jagged rocks above, his outstretched
hands touched an iron-bound door.

"_Gracias à Dios!_ Thanks be to all the saints, I am here at last; but,
alas! curses on me, I shall be obliged to return by the same path unless
my son allows me to escape by the casa."

Cautiously searching with his fingers as he muttered these words, he
touched a bolt, and, grasping it with both hands, drew it partly out
like the knob of a bell. Then, placing his ear to the door, he presently
heard a rattling, creaking noise, as if a beam of timber, with pulley
and chain, was being raised from behind the entrance. When the sound
ceased the door yielded to the padre's sturdy shoulder, and there was
just room to admit his portly body. Here the passage was wider, the rock
evidently chiseled away by the hands of man, and on one side was an
artificial chamber, blasted out of the solid rock, with a narrow door
with heavy iron bolts on the outside. At this opening the padre paused
and listened. No sound caught his ear at first, but as he clutched the
bolt and it grated back in its bands, he was saluted by such a volley of
frightful curses as to make him start back and cross his ample breast.
It was the voice of Master Gibbs, lying there on a low iron settle in
the noisome dungeon, with not a ray of light to cheer him, and only a
jug of water and some weevily biscuit to save him from starvation. All
through the day and during the long, long hours of the awful night, in
pain and suffering from his lopped-off limb and bruises, had he lain on
his hard bed with clenched hands, blaspheming and impotently raging in
his agony and despair. No prayer, however, dawned in his ruthless heart,
or was breathed from his brutal lips; but curses upon curses came thick
and fast, till his tongue refused to give them utterance, and he fell
back in utter exhaustion. As the noise, however, of the bolt struck his
ear, he clutched the stone water-jug from the floor, and hurled it, with
a yell of execrations, toward the door, where the fragments fell with a
clattering crash on the stone pavement.

Grinding his teeth in his frightful passion, he howled,

"Let me but once put these hands on your bloodstained carcass, and if
the mother that bore ye will know her spawn again, my name's not Bill
Gibbs! Ha! you miserable swab, with your soft words and white hands!
when I get out of this hole I'll blow you and your infarnal hounds
to ----! Give me fair play, and, even on one of my legs, I'll cut the
cowardly heart out of you, Captain Brand! Come in, will ye? ye son of
the devil, and I'll bite the tongue out of your mouth by the roots!"

[Illustration: SHRIVING A SINNER.]

 Here the hoarse and panting wretch again ceased his roarings, and
the padre timidly opened the door.

"Ha! who's that? Babette?"

"No, my son, it is your good Padre Ricardo, come to console you."

What the maimed villain replied to the priest, and what means the holy
father took to allay the passion and assuage the sorrows of the man
lying helpless in the dungeon, or whether successful in his mission, is
not important to state in detail. An hour later, however, the priest
seemed relieved in body and spirit as he retired from the loathsome
hole, and shooting the bolt as he closed the door, cautiously felt his
way along the dark and narrow passage. Presently, as he turned an angle,
a ray of light from the loopholes of the great stone vault beneath the
pirate's dwelling lighted his pathway; and a moment after, with a hearty
sigh of satisfaction, he seized a cord above his head and gave it a
jerk. A bell sounded above, and then a large, square-hinged trap-hatch
fell down, swinging gently to and fro from the beams above. At the same
time the padre put his arms about a square wooden stanchion which
supported the floor of the saloon, and then painfully sticking his toes
in some deep-cut notches at the sides, he slowly began to mount upward.
When, however, his oily shaved crown appeared nearly at the level of the
floor, a vigorous grasp was laid on his shoulders, and he was pulled up
like a flapping lobster and rolled into the apartment. It was Captain
Brand who kindly assisted the holy father, and it was the captain's
hollow laugh which saluted him in his torn and soiled raiment, as, with
difficulty, he regained his perpendicular.

"Laugh not, _hijo mio_, at my sorrowful plight," said the bruised
Ricardo, with some asperity; "I have met with dangers of venomous
serpents, and been stabbed cruelly by those villainous cactus."

"But I raised the beam, my padre, the moment you made the signal."

"You did, my son; but what I suffered in the cavern was as nothing to
what I endured when I entered the dungeon of the English Gibbs. _Jesus
Maria_, what an infidel he is!"

"You did not find his spirit subdued, then, by bread and water?"

"Far from it, my friend. He rages like a wild beast. He consigns your
body and soul to everlasting torments! But, what is more impious still,"
went on the padre, as he crossed himself, "he damned your holy father,
and hoped I would roast in hell!"

"But he confessed, Ricardo, and you gave him absolution?"

"If calling me thief and assassin, and hurling his stone water-jug at my
head, be confession and forgiveness of sins, the ceremony has been
performed. Ah! my son, he needs no more mercy in this world!"

"Of course not, my padre; and we will give him a short shrift and a long
rope."

"Babette!" continued Captain Brand. "Ah! my Baba, you have not forgotten
to feed our jolly Gibbs there below? No? I thought not. Well, then, it
is Sunday, you know; give him a pint of pure rum for his morning's
draught. And, Baba, my beauty, slip a pair of iron ruffles over his
wrists, and then pass a cloth over those bloodshot eyes of his, and lug
him here beneath this hatch. Go down by your own ladder, and be quick,
my Baba, as I wish my breakfast presently!"

All this was said in a cool and rather an affectionate tone, as Captain
Brand sipped a spoonful or two of chocolate from a cup of Dresden china.
Then turning to the padre, he said,

"You would perhaps like a cordial, my father, to take the chill off your
stomach? Yes. You will find some capital Curaçoa in that stand of
bottles there."

The padre, forgetful of the dignity of his calling, shuffled with
indecent haste to the spot indicated, and, without going through the
form of filling one of the diminutive thimble-shaped glasses in the
stand, he boldly raised the silver-netted flask to his lips, and sucked
away until it was nearly empty. Then seating himself on the settee, he
lugged out his illuminated missal and pored over its contents. Captain
Brand occupied himself with opening the loop of the silk rope which fell
from the ceiling, and securing the end firmly on the stout cleat at the
wall.

So passed the time until a noise beneath the room of a voice in anger,
and a body bumped and dragged along, once more attracted the attention
of those in the saloon.

"Oh ho! is that you, Master Gibbs?" exclaimed Captain Brand, in a
cheerful voice. "You have risen early; but stop that profane language,
my friend, or you will never see daylight again!"

The maimed ruffian only muttered, "Your friend, eh? blindfolded and
manacled!" And then, apparently abashed by the cool, commanding tone of
his superior, he held his peace.

"Well, you are quiet, my lad. Now we'll see if we can't hoist you up
here in the saloon."

"Thank ye, sir!" said Gibbs, aloud; and then he muttered to himself,
"Let me jest get one grip of ye, and I'll show ye how quiet I'll be."

"Do you think we shall need assistance, my son?" whispered the padre
into the ear of his patron.

"_Diavolo!_ No. I never wanted help in these little affairs, except in
the case of that violent Yankee whaler, who gave us much trouble, you
know, and we were obliged to call Pedillo," replied the captain, in the
same low tone. Then, raising his voice, he said,

"Hark ye, Master Gibbs! Babette will lift you off the stones, and the
padre and I will raise you up to the room here. You don't weigh so much
as you did before you had your leg hacked off with a hand-saw--ho! and I
dare say you are as light now as a dried stockfish! Up with him, Baba!
There--steady! all right--here you are!"

Saying this, Captain Brand, with the assistance of the stout negress and
the padre, raised the once burly ruffian, with a vigorous hoist that
made him groan, to the floor of the saloon, where they laid him out at
full length on his back.

"Wait a moment, my hearty, till the hatch is raised, and then we will
raise you. Unpleasant position, no doubt," continued Captain Brand, as
the trap came up and was secured by a spring; "but then, you know, you
_would_ have that pin of yours cut off, and somehow you have been so
careless as to dispose of the nice leg you had the other day, made out
of the spruce fore-top-mast of the 'Centipede'--a very tough bit of a
spar it was."

Here Master Gibbs grated his teeth and grinned hideously.

The captain smiled like a demon, and, approaching the prostrate cripple,
said cheerfully--ay, in a frank and hearty tone--

"Now, my padre, place a comfortable chair for Master Gibbs, and we will
help him to a seat."

The considerate Ricardo placed a large, roomy Manilla chair on the fatal
trap, and then aided his chief in lifting their victim to the position
assigned him. As they performed this operation, the captain, with the
gentleness of a tiger before he strikes his prey, and with a wink to the
padre, lightly passed the noose of the silk rope over the ruffian's
hairy throat, where it lay like a snake with its slack coil squirming at
the back of the chair.

"Now, Master Gibbs, I am about to remove this bandage from your
beautiful red eyes," said Captain Brand, in his cold, chilling,
deliberate manner, "and if you so much as move when daylight shines
before you, I'll blow your brains out."

Here the pirate leisurely cocked a pistol close to his subordinate's
ear, removed the bandage, and laid the weapon on the table within
reach.

"No noise either, Master Gibbs!" continued Captain Brand, as he stirred
up the remains of his chocolate and gulped it down; "for it is Sunday
morning, and we must respect the feelings of our padre. You were unkind
to him, he tells me, just now, and even said some disrespectful things
of me. What have _I_ done to vex you?"

The manacled wretch tried to raise his horny hands to his face when the
cloth was removed from his eyes, and rub those organs, while he glared
suspiciously around; but the captain pointed with his white finger in a
threatening way to the cocked pistol, and Master Gibbs let his hands
fall again.

"Well, Captain Brand, I s'pose now you're going to treat me as a
faithful man who has sarved under you ought to be treated; and I'm
willin' to forgive what has passed."

There was no look of forgiveness, however, in those brutal bloodshot
eyes, nor much signs of repentance in those grinding teeth and
compressed lips.

"Why, no, my Gibbs, _I_ am _not_ going to treat you as a faithful man,
but I tell you what I will do"--here the captain moved his chair nearer
till his straw slipper touched the spring of the trap--"I will drink a
glass of grog with you in forgetfulness of the past and forgiveness for
the future."

"Thank ye, Captain Brand; I do feel dry. That stuff Babette gave me a
while ago didn't touch the right spot, and I'll be glad to jine you."

"Ah! _bueno_, my old friend; you _shall_ drink something that _will_
touch the right spot! What shall it be? you have only to name it."

"I'll take a toss of that old brandy you gave me the other day, if it's
the same to you, sir."

"Oh, Master Gibbs, it's all the same to me. Delighted I am to oblige
you! _Padre mio!_ a glass of old Cognac for our friend--a tumblerful; a
wine-glass will do for me."

The padre poured out the brandy as he was desired, handed the lesser
glass to the captain, and the tumbler he placed in the locked hands of
the victim. Slowly and painfully the subdued ruffian raised the glass to
his mouth, careful not to spill a drop; then, before draining it, he
cleared his throat, while at the same time the captain rose to his feet,
his right foot resting a little on the heel, and held the wine-glass
before him.

"Now, then, Master Gibbs, for a toss that will touch the right spot."

"Ay, ay, captain!" said Gibbs; "and here's forgiveness for the future."

Scarcely had the words been uttered, and the liquor began to gurgle down
the hairy throat of the manacled wretch, than the pirate before him
pressed his foot with a quick, nervous action on the spring.

Like a flash the trap fell, carrying chair and man with it. The hinges
of the hatch creaked, the wicker-work chair fell with a bound on the
stone floor below, the heavy beam overhead gave a jarring quiver as the
strong silk rope brought up with a shuddering surge on the cleat where
it was belayed at the wall, and with a gasping, choking cry of pain
mingled with the ring of the shattered tumbler on the pavement, the
ruffian of a hundred crimes fell full three feet, and hung struggling in
the death agony. With almost superhuman force he raised his clenched
hands and struck his forehead till the manacles were twisted like wire
by the effort, spinning around too by the lopsided weight of his body,
while the beam above yielded slightly to the strain, and the deadly
cord, no longer squirming, but taut as a bar of iron, held the wretch in
its knotted embrace, clasped tight around the throat. In a minute or two
the hands ceased beating the inflamed face and head, and fell with a
clank before the body; the legs gave a few convulsive twitches, a last
and violent spasm shook the frame, and there Master Gibbs hung, a warm
dead lump of clay.

While this murderous business was going on, and the poor crippled wretch
was struggling in the jaws of death, the padre was chanting with his
profane tongue from his open breviary the _Salve Domine_, and his patron
coolly took down a telescope and swept it over the blue water to
seaward. When, however, after a quarter of an hour had elapsed, and the
body of their victim gave no more signs of life, the captain laid down
the telescope as the padre closed his missal, and remarked quietly,
while glancing critically down at the suspended body,

"He did not go off so easy as I had anticipated; his bull-neck is not
broken, though the knot was perfectly well placed. However, he is stone
dead, and we will lower him down. You, my padre, will bury him!"

"_Hijo mio!_ son of mine! spare me that troublesome duty. Would you have
me drag such a carcass through the cavern and consign him to consecrated
earth, when he refused the last holy offers of salvation?"

"_Bueno_, my padre, I respect your feelings! You need not put him under
the sand; take him merely to his late dungeon, and lay him decently on
his bed."

"Thank you, my son; your orders shall be obeyed!"

Glad, apparently, to be relieved from farther exertion, though with
manifest symptoms of disgust, the priest, more infamous even than the
scoundrel he had assisted in hanging, clumsily descended the hatchway by
the way he came up, and awaited the movements of his chief. The captain
stepped to the wall, and, casting off the turns from the cleat, he
slowly lowered the body down till it rested on the pavement.

"Unbend the rope from his neck, my padre, and hitch it on to that
Manilla chair. There--all right! you may return this way and breakfast
with me."

Saying this, Captain Brand rounded up the chair, detached the silk rope,
hung the loop in its accustomed place, and then waited the reappearance
of his confederate. Not many minutes elapsed before the padre, having
performed the last rites, again ascended the stanchion, and was assisted
above the floor by his chief. Then both together got hold of a
ring-bolt in the trap, drew it up and secured the spring, placing square
bits of mahogany over the countersunk apertures, so as to prevent
accidental falls or hangings of themselves. Even while performing these
mechanical operations, the priest puffed out an account of his
proceedings below: how he had dragged the body to the dungeon; how, when
there, he had inadvertently stumbled and fallen on the top of it; and
that his lips--_maldito!_--came in contact with the open mouth of the
late Master Gibbs; but when he had recovered from the horror of this
frightful caress, he had said a short prayer and bolted the door.

"You have done well, my padre; and now let us break our fast. Babette, a
couple of broiled snappers and a cold duck! Be lively, old lady, for I
have business to attend to after breakfast. _Hola, mi padre_, will you
wash your hands in water before sitting down? No! _bueno!_ I will myself
take a dip all over."

No, the oily Ricardo never washed his hands, save wetting the tips of
his fingers in holy water in the chapel; and, indeed, he rarely touched
water in any quantity either outside or in; and it was with a look of
surprise, not unmingled with contempt, that he beheld his patron retire
for a bath.



CHAPTER XX.

BUSINESS.

    "He had rolled in money like pigs in mud,
    Till it seemed to have entered into his blood
          By some occult projection;
    And his cheeks, instead of a healthy hue,
    As yellow as any guinea grew,
    Making the common phrase seem true
          About a rich complexion."

The business which Captain Brand alluded to when he was about to partake
of breakfast with his friend the padre was, in the first instance, to
arrange some matters in the way of payment of debts to his compadre, Don
Ignaçio Sanchez, commander of the Colonial Guarda Costa felucca
"Panchita."

Accordingly, when he rose from table, and after a whispered dialogue and
reports as to the state of affairs in and around the den and island from
the men at the signal-stations, he summoned Pedillo. When that worthy
appeared below the veranda--for be it remembered that Captain Brand
never permitted the inferior officials of his band to pollute his
apartments, unless, perhaps, as in the case of his deceased subordinate,
Master Gibbs, it was on urgent business--Captain Brand ordered his gig
manned.

Pedillo threw up his hand in token of assent, and walked down to the
brink of the basin to execute the command. Then, after a few minutes,
Captain Brand lit a cigar, dismissed the padre, put on his fine white
Panama straw hat, unlocked a strong cabinet with a secret drawer,
glanced over a paper before him, and, making a rapid calculation, he
caught up a heavy bag of doubloons, and left the house in charge of
Babette. The captain always told his guests that his fellows had
such love and respect for him that he rarely locked up his property,
and never placed a guard at his door. The truth was, that his
fellows--scoundrels, miscreants, and villains as they were--stood in
such fear and dread of their leader, that they were glad to keep out of
his way. Moreover, he never boasted or made any display before them,
living on shipboard, as on shore, by himself, but always ready and
terrible when the moment came for action; treating his crew, too, with
the most rigid impartiality, adhering strictly to his promises and
compacts with them, and never overlooking an offense.

So Captain Brand left his dwelling in charge of his dumb housekeeper
Babette, and tripping down the rope ladder from the piazza in a clean
suit of brown linen and straw slippers, his beardless face shaded by his
broad-brimmed hat from the sun, and the bag of gold on his arm, he
jauntily walked toward the cove.

"Ah! good morning, my doctor! Glad to meet you! How are the sick? Doing
well, I hope!"

"Quite well, sir; but I was about to call upon you in relation to the
conversation we had last evening, and--"

"Pardon me, _Monsieur le Docteur_, but I have been very busy this morning,
and am now going to see Don Ignaçio on matters of importance"--here the
elegant pirate took the cigar from his thin lips and held it daintily
between his thumb and fore finger in the air--"and really, monsieur, I am
very sorry to miss your visit. But," he added, with one of his usual
smiles, "I shall be at leisure this afternoon, and in the cool of the
evening we can take a stroll. What say you?"

The doctor nodded.

"Apropos, _docteur_, suppose we have a little game of _monté_ afterward
at your quarters. I never permit gaming in mine, you know. The padre
will not object; and I am confident our _compadre_, the Tuerto, will be
delighted."

"As you please, captain," replied the medico, with a cold, indifferent
air and averted face. "I will join you in the promenade, and I shall be
ready to receive you in the evening."

"_Hasta huego, amigo!_" said Captain Brand, as he again stuck his cigar
between his teeth, waved his hand in adieu, and walked to his boat.

"You don't love me, doctor," thought the pirate. "I don't fear you,
captain," thought the doctor.

It was a touch of high art the way this notorious pirate pitched the bag
of gold toward his coxswain, crying, "Catch that, Pedillo!" and then the
almost girlish manner in which he pattered about the beach and held up
his trowsers, so that he might not even get his slippers damp. Had that
salt water been red blood, he would not have cared if his feet had been
soaked in it. And then, too, the little exclamation of joy when he
finally stepped into the stern-sheets, and sat down beneath the awning,
while he stretched his smooth brown linen legs out on the cushions. Oh,
it was certainly a touch of high piratical art!

"The old 'Centipede' is looking a little rusty after her late cruise,
Pedillo!" throwing his head back to evade a curl of smoke, and casting
his cold eyes like a rattle of icy hail at the coxswain. "But I am glad
Pedro took your place"--puff, puff--"that knife-stab prevented you, of
course"--puff--"and we shall have her all tight and trig again in a day
or two."

"_Si, señor!_" said Pedillo, respectfully; "and how goes Señor Gibbs,
_capitano_?"

The _capitano_ rolled his icy eyes again at the coxswain, and replied,
carelessly, "Why, Pedillo, our friend Gibbs came to see me when the
'Centipede' anchored, but almost before"--puff--"he had given me an
account of his unfortunate cruise he fell down in a fit. The fact is,
however"--puff, puff--"that, what with hard drinking and inflammation
which set in on the stump of his lost leg, he has been in a very bad
way"--puff--"quite in a dangerous condition indeed, requiring all my old
Babette's care and attention"--puff--"but this morning the good padre
went to see him, and he told me a while ago that he left him without
fever, and altogether tranquil."

Pedillo's wiry mustaches twirled of themselves.

Meanwhile the boat skimmed lightly over the basin, and as the captain
ceased speaking she ran alongside of the felucca. Don Ignaçio, with his
bright single eye in full burning power, and a cigarette between his
wrinkled lips, was on the deck of the vessel to receive his visitor; and
as he saw the coxswain follow his superior with a weighty bag under his
arm, his glimmering orb became brighter, if possible--as if it was
piercing through the thick canvas of the bag, and counting, ounce by
ounce, the contents--and putting out his fore finger, it was grasped
cordially by the white hand of Captain Brand.

"_Como se va?_ How goes it with my _compadre_? Stomach and head all
clear after our long dinner of yesterday?"

The _compadre_ said that his head was particularly clear that morning,
and as for his stomach he had not yet inquired; but if the _capitano_
had any doubts as to the former proposition, he had better step below
and decide for himself.

In accordance with this ambiguous invitation, the visitor and commander
disappeared down the small cuddy in the afterpart of the felucca, where
was a low, stifling hole of a cabin, dank with stale tobacco-smoke, and
smelling awfully of rats and roaches. There was a little round table in
the middle, and on one side was a single berth, with some dirty bedding,
which had not been cleaned, apparently, since the vessel was built.
Light was shed from a skylight above.

Captain Brand gave a sniff of disgust as he entered this floating
sanctum of Don Ignaçio, but, without remark, seated himself on a canvas
stool, and waved a perfumed cambric kerchief before his nose.

Commander Sanchez, catching the inspiration, merely observed that it was
a little close certainly, and not so spacious as the superb cabin of the
schooner, and that sometimes, when lying in a calm off the lee side of
Cuba, it was hot enough to melt the tail off a brass monkey; but yet it
was his duty, and he did not particularly mind it.

Hereupon Captain Brand requested Don Ignaçio to produce his papers, and
they were presently laid upon the table. For a few minutes the pirate
was absorbed in running his cold eyes over the accounts--making
pencil-notes on the margins, and comparing them with a memorandum he
took from his pocket; but at last he threw himself back and exclaimed,

"_Compadre_, the account of old Moreno, at the Havana, is correct to a
real--three hundred and twelve doubloons and eight hard dollars. Yours,
however, has some few inaccuracies--double commissions charged here and
there; all losses and sales charged to me, and all profits credited to
you."

Don Ignaçio spread out the palms of both his hands toward his
companion, as if to exorcise such unjust charges from the brain of his
confederate.

"_O si, si, compadre!_ it is as I state, and you know it is true; but,
nevertheless, a few dozens of ounces more or less makes no difference;
and, to make short work, I am ready to pay. But," said Captain Brand,
laying a hand on the heavy bag of money beside him, "though I am quite
ready to cancel my debts in hard cash here on the spot, yet, as I am
bound on a long cruise--Heaven only knows where--I would prefer to keep
the gold and pay you in something else."

Don Ignaçio threw his head back and fixed his eye like a parrot on the
captain, waiting to hear farther.

"What have I on hand besides gold? Well, there are a few bales of
Mexican cochineal, and English broadcloths, and some cases of French
silks, which you can have at a fair market value; then there is all that
collection of silver table-service, which you can take by weight; and,
besides, lots of rare furniture, which you may set your own price
upon--altogether much more than enough to pay Moreno and you both. What
say you, _compadre_? is it a bargain? or shall I carry the stuff with
me, and run the chance of disposing of it on the Spanish Main?"

It was a long time before the crafty old Spaniard could make up his mind
whether to receive his pay in a simple portable currency, or take more
bulky matter, with the hope of making double the money by the operation.
Finally, however, his greed overcame his prudence, and he accepted the
last proposition, with the understanding that the articles should be
transferred to the felucca the next night.

"Ah!" said Captain Brand, with another sniff of disgust, as he spat on
the dirty floor of the cabin, "I am glad the affair is settled, for I
wouldn't remain another hour in this filthy hole for all the money you
have cheated me out of, you old rascal."

He said the last portion of this sentence to himself as he emerged from
the cuddy.

"But listen, _amigo_!" he continued, as they both reached the deck. "You
will give me duplicate receipts on the part of Señor Moreno, so that I
can forward one to him from the next port I visit. And, by the way,
suppose you come on shore this afternoon for a stroll, and in the
evening we will have a little game of _monté_--eh?"

"_Cierto!_ (certainly!)" returned the commander of the felucca; when
Captain Brand, with his bag of gold intact under his arm, got into his
boat and was pulled to the shore.



CHAPTER XXI.

TREASURE.

    "Gold! gold! gold! gold!
    Bright and yellow, hard and cold,
    Molten, graven, hammered, and rolled;
    Heavy to get, and light to hold;
    Hoarded, bartered, bought, and sold;
    Stolen, borrowed, squandered, doled;
    Price of many a crime untold--
    Gold! gold! gold! gold!"


It was long past noon when the pirate returned to his island home, and
the day was hot, for the sea-breeze had not made, and the tropical sun
was pouring down its burning rays until the sand was roasting as in a
furnace; the very rocks throwing off a trembling mirage of heated air,
and the lagoon almost boiling under the fiery influence. The sailors,
with aching heads and parched mouths, were swinging in their grass
hammocks beneath the sheds; and, save the watchful vigilance of the men
at the look-outs and battery, the little island was wrapped in repose.

Captain Brand, however, was as cool as a cucumber; and regardless of
the heat, and indifferent about _siesta_, he drew the curtains of the
saloon, and took some active exercise. First, however, he desired
his faithful Babette to get out some camphor trunks and pack the
contents of his splendid wardrobe. This operation was performed under
the critical eye of Captain Brand himself, to which he personally
lent his aid by stowing away, here and there, his caskets, trinkets,
and treasures--those which had been presented to him by the unfortunate
people who had the ill luck to make his acquaintance on the high seas,
or in midnight forays on shore. Then the captain opened and rummaged
cabinets, bureaus, and bookcases, making liberal presents to his
trusty housekeeper; and, turning from that occupation, he had all his
table furniture spread before him, when he made careful estimates of
the value of the silver, china, and glass. This concluded, Captain
Brand ordered Babette to furnish him a slight repast; and while it was
preparing--the captain taking the precaution to bolt his handmaiden in
her kitchen--he went quietly into his bedroom, and when he came out he
bore heavy burdens in his muscular arms, all of which he laid
conveniently near the trap in the floor. Then letting the hatch swing
softly down, he lowered the heavy articles by the silk rope, as he
had Master Gibbs, though not so suddenly, going down himself as
nimbly as a rat after them. In the vault beneath, Captain Brand struck
a light and set fire to a torch, which blazed out luridly, and illumined
the dark excavation and passages like day. Going slowly on, with his
burden in his arms, by the path by which we traced the padre, he
came to the outer door, which opened into the fissure in the crag; and,
after a vigorous effort, the beam was raised, and he passed out. Once
outside, he felt his way cautiously, stepping clear of the stagnant
pools beneath, and guarding his head from the jagged rocks above; and
then, lighting his way over the stones which had upset the equilibrium
of Don Ricardo, he crept slowly into an aperture on the right.

[Illustration: "HE CREPT FORWARD ON HANDS AND KNEES, THE BLAZING TORCH
LIGHTING UP THE DAMP AND DRIPPING ROCKS."]

No serpents or venomous reptiles disturbed the pirate's progress; for,
though there were plenty of them coiled or crawling near, yet their
instinct probably taught them that he was a monster with a more deadly
poison than themselves, and whose fangs were sharper, though his tongue
did not hiss a note of warning. Captain Brand put down his burden and
crept forward on hands and knees, the blazing torch lighting up the damp
and dripping rocks, all green and slimy from the tracks of the snake and
lizard. Where the narrow fissure seemed to end by a wall of natural
rock, the pirate rolled aside a large stone at the base, and scratching
away the sand, a large copper lock was displayed, in which, after
pushing aside the hasp, Captain Brand touched a spring, and it opened.
Then, exerting all the force of his powerful frame, a rough slab of
unhewn rock yielded to the effort, and rose like a vertical door slung
by a massive hinge at the top. Placing the large stone at the opening,
so as to prevent the slab falling to its place, the captain stood the
torch within the opening, and went back for his burden; then he
returned, and squeezed himself with it into a small excavated, uneven
chamber, where he sat down.

"Nasty work," communed the pirate with himself, "but a safe place to lay
up a penny for a rainy day! Let me see. These two bags of doubloons, and
the small one my Gibbs brought me, with those three, there, of guineas,
and those sacks of dollars, will make about ten thousand pounds. That
will make me a nest-egg when I retire from the profession and return to
Scotland. They will have forgotten all my boyish follies by that time."

Captain Brand alluded to forging his father's name, and other little
peccadilloes of a similar nature.

"And I may be elected to Parliament--who knows? It is something of a
risk, perhaps, to leave all this pretty coin here, but then it's a
greater risk to carry it in the schooner"--he argued both ways--"and
then, again, damp does not decay pure metal. But," thought Captain
Brand, "suppose somebody should discover this little casket in the
rock. Ah! that's not probable, for no soul besides myself knows of it,
and even the very man who made the door did not know for what it was
intended; besides, he died long ago."

Captain Brand had forgotten, in this connection, that the man who cut
out the stone chamber and door, and fashioned the hinge and lock, took
too much sugar in his coffee the morning the job was finished, and died
in horrible convulsions before night. Oh yes, that incident had entirely
escaped his memory!

Captain Brand, having now thoroughly reasoned the matter out, gave each
of the bags lying on the sand a gentle kick to get a responsive echo
from the coin; and then creeping out of the treasure-chamber, he
withdrew the torch, removed the stone, and the heavy slab fell again
into its place. Then clasping the lock, covering it over with sand, and
rolling back the stone, he seized the torch and quickly returned to the
vault beneath his saloon. There, putting out the torch by rubbing it
against the stone pavement until not a spark was left, by the sunlight,
streaming through the loopholes around, he passed to one side and began
removing the cases of cochineal, silks, and what not, near to the
strongly-barred portcullis door, which opened toward the basin fronting
his dwelling. It was hard work, but Captain Brand seemed to enjoy it;
and even after he had arranged the packages intended for shipment in his
_compadre's_ felucca, he began again. Going to the farther corner of the
vault, he stopped before a strong mahogany door, and taking a key from
his pocket, unlocked and threw it wide open. It was as black as night
inside, floored and lined with wood, and emitting a choking atmosphere
of charcoal and sulphur. Piled around the walls were some fifty or a
hundred small barrels with copper hoops, and branded on the heads with
the word "powder." Unmindful of the odor and the rather combustible
material around him, Captain Brand again resumed his work, and rolled a
large number of the little barrels toward the doorway, near the
merchandise already there, saying to himself the while,

"I think that will about fill the 'Centipede's' magazine, and we must
make a proper disposition of the remainder."

Hereupon Captain Brand, actively bent upon the work of disposing of his
treasures, rolled out a dozen or two more of the little barrels. Strange
to say, among the very few articles that were never presented to him,
but actually bought of Señor Moreno, was this highly useful and
indispensable material of powder, and he therefore set much store by it.
And it was with a sigh of regret that the pirate stood the little
barrels on their ends in a line across the great vault of the building,
beneath kitchen, bedrooms, and saloon, and especially beside the square
upright stanchions on which the interior of the building rested. Not
content with this, he took a copper hammer and knocked in all the heads
of the little barrels, and then, with a scoop of the same metal, he
dipped out large quantities of the black material, and poured thick
trains of it from barrel to barrel, sometimes capsizing one, but always
particularly cautious not to rasp a grain of it beneath his grass
slippers and the pavement. Then he took a piece of match-rope, and
sticking one end deep into a barrel, he just poked the other end out of
a loophole, to be in readiness whenever Captain Brand should deem proper
to touch his lighted cigar to it.

"There," said Captain Brand, "that piece of tow will burn about thirty
or forty minutes, and then--stand from under!"

Ascending the hatchway again with the agility of a cat, he drew up and
secured the trap, and in ten minutes afterward he was freshly attired in
a nice pair of India panjammers, a grass cloth jacket and vest--with, of
course, the usual knickknacks in his pockets--and seated at table, where
his busy housekeeper had placed a broiled chicken and a bottle of old
Bordeaux before him.



CHAPTER XXII.

PLEASURE.

    "But ever, from that hour, 'tis said,
      He stammered and he stuttered,
    As if an axe went through his head
      With every word he uttered.
    He stuttered o'er blessing, he stuttered o'er ban,
      He stuttered, drunk or dry;
    And none but he and the fisherman
      Could tell the reason why."


"Babette," said Captain Brand, as he tapped a spoon against his
coffee-cup and puffed his cigar, while the stout dumb negress was
removing the remains of the light dinner, "Babette, old girl, you know
that we are going to leave here in a few days, and I should like to know
whether you care to go with us or remain here on the island."

The negress made a guttural grunt of assent, and nodded her head till
the ends of her Madras turban fluttered.

"Ho! you do, eh? Well, my Baba, I shall be sorry to leave you, for you
will be very lonely here, and it may be a long, very long time before I
come back."

Babette jerked her chin up this time, and did not grunt.

"It's all the same, eh? old lady! Well, I shall leave enough to eat to
last you a lifetime; but you will have to change your quarters, my Baba,
and live in the padre's shed, for I--a--don't think this house will be
inhabitable long after I am gone."

The negress gave another grunt and nod of assent.

"Yes. Well, old lady, the matter is decided, then; but, in case you
should have any visitors here after we have gone, you won't take any
trouble to describe what you have seen here? No! That shake of your head
convinces me--not if they roast you alive?"

The hideous sign of understanding that the woman expressed in her dumb
way would have convinced any body without the trouble of uttering a
word.

"_Bueno!_" said Captain Brand; "that will do for to-day."

Rising as he spoke, he stepped to a cabinet, slipped a large handful of
doubloons in his trowsers pocket, put on his hat, and walked out.

The sea-breeze swept over the island with its full strength, making the
lofty cocoa-nuts bow their tufted tops, the palm-trees rustle their
broad flat leaves and clash the stems together. The mangroves bent, too,
before the wind, and the sand eddied up in tiny whirls amid the great
expanse of cactus, while the vessels swung with taut cables to their
anchors. Even Captain Brand's hat nearly was blown off his dry light
hair as he joined his _compadre_, Don Ignaçio, at the landing; and the
sandy dust blinded--though only for a moment--that one-eyed individual's
optic, and put out his cigarette as they struggled against the influence
of the breeze. But yet they walked on in the direction of the sheds, and
as they passed through the court-yard, where the men were lounging about
in yawning groups or sitting under the piazza, playing cards--getting up
and touching their hats as their chief passed--Señor Pedillo accosted
him thus:

"_Capitano_, the people are thirsty, and desire a barrel of wine."

"Not a drop, Señor Pedillo--not so much as would wet the bill of a
musquito! To-morrow at daylight let all hands be called, for we have
work to do, and we must be quick to do it."

Pedillo slunk away, abashed by the positive tone of his commander; and
Captain Brand, with his companion, passed on to the domicile of the
padre and doctor. Pausing at the open door of the shed, they looked in.
The padre was lying flat on his back on his narrow bed, with his mouth
wide open, and snoring like a key-bugle with leaky stops; while his
beads and crucifix--misplaced emblems in contact with drunkenness and
debauchery--were reposing on his ample chest. The doctor was sitting
beside his own couch, whispering words of childish comfort to the little
boy, whose pale cheeks and brown curls reposed on the pillow of the bed.
The poor child's thin, limp fingers rested like the petals of a drooping
lily in the dark, bony hand of his friend, and his dim hazel eyes were
turned sadly toward him.

"Holloa, _amigos_!" shouted Captain Brand, in a hearty voice. "We are
losing the glorious sea-breeze. _Vamanos!_ let us take a stroll to the
Tiger's Trap."

Hereupon Captain Brand entered the room, and gave the padre a violent
tweak of the nose, at the same time puffing a volume of cigar-smoke
into his beastly mouth, which combined effort brought the holy father
to life in a trice, choking and sputtering, as he arose, a jargon of
paternosters, which an indifferent hearer might have mistaken for a
volley of execrations, so savagely were they uttered.

"Take a sip of Geneva, my padre. There it is on the table. Ah! do you
call half a bottle a sip? Well! Come, doctor, let us be moving."

Down by the narrow gorge of the inlet, and over the smooth rocks and
shelly shore, the party took their way, Don Ignaçio leading with the
amiable priest, on whom he glared with his malevolent eye as if--he not
being a person from whom money or its equivalent could be squeezed--the
greedy old Spaniard would like to transfix him with a glance. In the
rear came Captain Brand and the doctor, the former as gay as a bird--of
the vulture species--and his companion grave, severe, and preoccupied.
Stopping as they reached the Tiger Trap Battery, where, after Captain
Brand had made a close inspection of the guns, and held sharp confabs
with the men who rose to receive him, he moved away a few steps, and,
resting his body against the lee side of a projecting rock, removed the
cigar from his frozen lips, and said,

"The arguments you have urged, monsieur, and the views you entertain,
have a certain amount of reason in them. It is true you were deceived in
coming here, but yet you swore to remain and not betray us when you did
come. Well--ah! don't interrupt me; I divine what you are going to
say--you did not know what our real character was. Perhaps not.
Nevertheless, I can not consent to your going away with that old rascal,
Don Ignaçio, there--that is, if he would take you, which I think he
would not, as your presence on board might compromise him with the Cuban
authorities; and," went on Captain Brand, as he crossed his legs, and
held his fine Panama hat on his head as a ruffle of the sea-breeze shot
around the rock, "with respect to your remaining here on the island, you
will only have that dumb old beast of a Babette for company; and it is
highly probable that the English or American cruisers will be down upon
you before a change of the moon, and they might--a--hang you, perhaps,
for a pirate. Ho! ho!"

"If Don Ignaçio declines to take me, Captain Brand, of course I can not
go in the felucca; but, let come what will, I am resolved not to sail in
the 'Centipede.'"

The pirate regarded the doctor for a moment with a cold, freezing look,
not wanting, however, in a partial glimmer of respect and admiration, as
he thus resolutely stated his determination; and then, putting his
finger lightly on the doctor's arm, as he saw Don Ignaçio and the padre
draw near, he said impressively, in a low tone,

"_Monsieur le Docteur_, do not make hasty resolutions. _I_ command here,
and my will is law. I will turn the matter over, however, in my mind,
and give you a final decision before we part to-night. Now let us
return. The sun is down, and the rocks are slippery."

"Well, _caballeros_, let us have a little social amusement," said
Captain Brand, as he sat down at the table in the padre's and doctor's
quarters, and wound up his splendid watch, the present from the Captain
General of Cuba. "But bear in mind that we must break up at midnight,
for our _compadre_ here has a multitude of articles to get on board his
felucca to-night, and I must be astir at daylight."

Did Captain Brand think, while he turned the key of that gold repeater,
of the bloodstained wretch he had put to death in the morning, who was
lying stark and still in his narrow, damp resting-place, or of the poor
little sufferer who had been torn from his heart-broken mother sleeping
near him? Oh no, certainly not. Captain Brand was thinking of a little
game of monté.

The padre lugged out a small store of dollars, and a gold ounce or two,
and other stray bits of gold, down to quartitos or eighths of
doubloons--all of it donations made him for remission of sins and
absolutions, presented at one time and another from the pirates of his
flock, such donations falling in pretty rapidly after a successful
cruise, but dwindling away to most contemptible gifts long before his
flock took to sea again.

Captain Brand was very liberal to his crew, dividing a great deal of
money with them, but, since he rarely visited any foreign ports, they
had little chance of squandering it; and in the end it served merely as
a gaming currency to play with, and eventually coming back to him as
contributions for stores, ammunition, rigging, and so forth. The
captain, therefore, was a large gainer by the operation, as most of the
articles in eating and drinking, and the vessel's outfit, were--as we
know--generally presented to him, so that he was enabled to stow away
the cash for future gratification.

Don Ignaçio Sanchez was likewise a moneyed man, and came provided with a
long pouch of solid gold, which he made into little piles before him of
the exact size of those of the captain. The doctor, however, declined to
play, and sat an indifferent spectator of the game.

"Let us begin, _señores_!" exclaimed the Don, as he rapidly shuffled the
cards, and his keen, black spark of fire lit up with animation at the
rich prospect before him. "We are losing precious time. I'll be
_banquero_! _Vamanos!_"

So they began. The cards were dealt, and the betting went on. The padre
forgot breviary and beads in his excitement, and as his little pointings
were swept away, he forgot, too, the sacred ejaculations he was wont to
lard his discourse with, and he became positively profane. The captain
won largely in the beginning, and jeered his _compadre_ with great zest
and enjoyment; but that one-eyed, rapacious old Spanish rascal was not
in the least disturbed, and bided his time. At first the conversation
was light and jovial, Captain Brand insisting upon the doctor describing
minutely how he had hacked his friend Gibbs's leg off with a hand-saw,
laughing hugely thereat, and wiping the icy tears from his cold blue
eyes with his delicate cambric handkerchief. Then the fascinating game
began to fluctuate, and the luck set back with a steady run into the
piles of the banker. Captain Brand liked as little to lose his money as
any other gambler in cards, stocks, or dice, and he was somewhat chafed
in spirit; but what especially irritated him was losing it to that
wrinkle-faced, one-eyed, greedy old scoundrel, with no possible hope of
ever seeing a dollar of it again. As for the padre, he was dead broke;
and since his friends would not lend him a real, and the banker did not
play upon credit, he sat moodily by, and gloated over the winnings of
the Tuerto, cursing his own luck and that of his companions likewise.

"Ho!" growled Captain Brand, "_maldito a la sota!_ I have lost my last
stake!"

Even while he spoke the poor little boy murmured in a sobbing voice,
"Mamma, _chère_ mamma!" and turned uneasily in his little nest from his
fitful slumber.

"That crying imp again!" said the now angry pirate, as he hurled the
padre's half empty gin jug in the direction of the couch, which crashed
against the wall, and fell in a shower of glass splinters over the
little sleeper.

The child gave one terrified shriek, and, starting from the bed in his
little night-dress, now soiled and torn, he ran and threw himself on his
knees before the doctor. Another bottle was raised aloft by the long
muscular arm of the pirate; but, before you could wink, that arm was
arrested, and the missile twisted from his grasp.

"For shame, you coward! Don't harm the boy. He will die soon enough in
this awful den without having his brains dashed out."

"Ho, _Monsieur le Docteur_!" muttered the villain, looking as if he
would like to taste the heart's-blood of the resolute man who stood
before him, as he pushed a hand into his waistcoat pocket, "do you
presume to call names and oppose _my_ will?"

But, controlling his passion with a violent contortion of face that
would have made one's blood run cold to see it, he changed his tone and
said,

"Nonsense, doctor; you seem to take rather a strong interest in the
brat--possibly an injudicious one; but, since he is my prize, you know,
by law, come--what will you give for him? Ah! happy thought, we will
play for him! There, deal away, _compadre_. _Sota_ and _cavallo_! I take
the knave again, and you ten doubloons against the boy on the horse."

The doctor said not a word, but nodded assent, and seemed absorbed in
the game.

"_Presto!_ Turn the cards, you old sinner! Quick! _Por dios!_ horse has
kicked me, and the knave loses! _Monsieur_, the brat is yours!"

Then starting up, Captain Brand hastily pulled out his watch, and said,
"_Hola, caballeros_, the time is up! I must say good-night."

Don Ignaçio's brown thin fingers, like a dentist's steel nippers, laid
down the cards, and carefully picked up his winnings, even to the
smallest bit of the precious metal, and dropped it piece by piece into
his long pouch, following them each with his glittering eye, like a
magpie peering into a narrow-necked bottle, and smiling with his
wrinkled old lips as the dull chink of the coin fell upon his ear. When
he had performed this operation, he tied up the mouth of the bag as if
he was choking somebody to death; and then, twitching something which
was partly hidden in his sleeve, he arose in readiness to go out.

As, however, Captain Brand turned to follow his _compadre_, he looked
carelessly toward the doctor, and said,

"By the way, monsieur, I have made up my mind with respect to our
conversation to-day, and you _shall_ remain on the island. No thanks.
Adieu. Now, Don Ignaçio, if your men and boats are at the cove, we will
make sharp work with your business. _Vamanos!_"



CHAPTER XXIII.

WORK.

    "Skeleton hounds that will never be fatter,
      All the domestic tribes of hell,
    Shrieking for flesh to tear and tatter,
            Bones to shatter,
            And limbs to scatter,
    And who it is that must furnish the latter,
      Those blue-looking men know well!"


When the pirate stood in his saloon on the morning subsequent to the
pleasurable events of the Sunday previous, he, as well as his saloon,
presented altogether a different aspect. The apartment had been stripped
of all its rare and costly furniture, cabinets, candelabra, plate,
china, and glass, and nothing of value was left save the camphor trunks
on the floor, the cane-bottomed settee, a few chairs, and a table. All
the beautiful things, ornamental as well as useful, had disappeared,
even to the rich packages of merchandise in the great vault beneath. The
late possessor, however, of all that worldly wealth did not appear to be
at all discomposed, or to cherish the faintest pang of regret at his
loss. In truth, he seemed to be relieved from an uncomfortable load of
responsibility; and feeling assured, perhaps, that in roaming about the
world he could collect a still more valuable collection--only give him
time--and he would exercise his critical taste with every pleasing
variety. It was thus he consoled himself as he stood there in his now
denuded room, attired in a pair of coarse canvas trowsers, a red flannel
shirt, with a short sharp hanger on his hip, and a double-barreled
pistol in his belt--quite the costume in which he so singularly shocked
Doña Lucia, whose lovely miniature once hung there on the wall in
company with the other miserable victims of his lust.

Captain Brand had just entered his dwelling, having been up and actively
occupied ever since we last parted with him. Now he had come for a cup
of tea and dry toast; and, while Babette was bringing that simple
breakfast, the pirate stood, tall, erect, and powerful, with one
muscular arm resting high above his head on the side of the doorway, and
the other lying lightly on the shark's-skin hilt of his cutlass, looking
out to seaward--a very model, as he was, of a cool, prudent, desperate
villain.

"Ah! there you go, you crafty old miser, in your guarda costa! Take
care, my compadre, of that reef. If that felucca's keel touches one of
those coral ledges there won't be a tooth-pick left of her in ten
minutes. San Antonio! but that was a close shave! How the sharks would
rasp your bones, for there's no flesh on them! Grazed clear, eh?
_Bueno!_ now you're in blue water, you rapacious scoundrelly old wretch,
and make the most of it."

Captain Brand waved his hand in adieu to the felucca, which, with the
wind off shore, had crept through the coral gateway, and, with her great
lateen sail and green glancing bottom, was rising and falling on the
long swell as she slipped away to the eastward. He then gulped down his
tea, made one or two savage bites at his toast, and again walked out to
the veranda, descended the ladder, and took his course toward the
basin.

There, too, the scene had changed; and instead of the tranquil, shelly
shore, only agitated by the musical rippling from the pure little inlet,
the faint cry of a sea-gull, or the chirps of the lizards in the
crevices of the rocks across the basin, those sounds had given place to
the nimble feet and voices of busy sailors. The "Centipede," also, had
been towed from her moorings to a jetty which projected into the water
from the shore, and there she lay, careened down, her keel half out of
the water, with a dozen of her crew scrubbing her lean sides till the
green-coated copper came flashing out in the sunlight like burnished
gold. With her slanting masts lashed to the jetty, carpenters were
engaged reducing the length of the fore-mast, and trimming out a spar
for a new bowsprit. The long gun, with its carriage, lay near, and
artisans were at work at a temporary forge, hammering out bolts and
straps to replace those which were weakened by long service. On the
shore, too, were a score or more of the piratical gang--Spaniards,
negroes, Indians, Italians, and who not--ferocious-looking scoundrels,
busy as bees, splicing and knotting ropes, stretching new rigging,
cutting running gear from the coils of hemp or Manilla-grass rope, or
making spun-yarn and chafing-mats; while beneath the low mat sheds hard
by, sail-makers were stitching away with their shining needles, making a
set of square sails for the changed rig of the "Centipede," or repairing
old sails. But this was not all; for in a shed beyond was the armorer,
with a few hands, grinding pikes and cutlasses, and cleaning small arms;
while farther still was the gunner and his mate, filling powder-cases
for the long gun and swivels, and making up musket and pistol
ball-cartridges.

In the midst of all these busy throngs moved Captain Brand, hither and
thither, from vessel to forge, from sails to rigging, giving clear,
sharp directions in various languages--commendation here, reproof
there--inspecting with his own cold eyes every thing; judging of all;
quick, active, ready; never at a loss for an expedient, and urging on
the work like a thorough-bred seaman as he was, who knew his own duty
and how to make others do theirs. So went on the refitting of the
"Centipede," all through the burning hot tropical day; and while the
half-exhausted crew took a respite in the scorching noon for dinner,
still their leader toiled on. Or, if he took a rest, it was in closely
scrutinizing the progress made by his men, in puffing a cigar like to a
small high-pressure engine, or in clambering up the steep face of the
crag to the signal-station, where he would peer away in all directions
around the island--never missing the glance of a pelican's pinion or the
leap of a fish out of water. Then he would return to the cove and begin
anew the work. It was no longer the elegant Captain Brand, in
knee-breeches, point-lace sleeves, and velvet doublet, seated at his
luxurious table, groaning under splendid plate, fine wines, and
brilliant wax-lights, and dispensing a profuse hospitality, but Captain
Brand the pirate, in tarry rig, amid sailors, sails, and cordage,
munching a bit of hard biscuit at times, or a cube of salt-junk out of a
mess kid, but ever ready, never weary, and always up to the professional
mark.

At the first gray blush of dawn on the following day Captain Brand was
astir again, and before the sun went down behind the waves the schooner
"Centipede" had been transformed into a brigantine, her fore-mast
reduced, new standing rigging fitted for it, with a new bowsprit and
head-booms, her rail raised four or five feet by shifting bulwarks, and
a temporary house built on deck over the long gun. She was also painted
afresh, with a white streak; and, with false head-boards on her bows to
hide her snakelike snout of a cutwater, no one, unless in the secret,
could have known that the clumsy box of a merchantman lying there was
once the low, swift, piratical schooner which had made so notorious a
name in the West Indies. Still the work was driven on with scarcely any
intermission--a few hours' repose for the crew at night, and an hour for
dinner in the day; but as for Captain Brand, he never slept at all--a
doze for an hour or two, perhaps, on his settee in the saloon, and a cup
of tea in the morning, with cigar-smoke, satisfied his frugal
requirements. The next day, by noon, the water and stores were got on
board the brigantine, her magazine stowed, the dunnage of the crew
transferred from the sheds, the captain's camphor trunks on board and
cabin in order, the sails bent, anchors on the bows, and, swinging to a
hawser made fast to the rocks, the vessel was ready to put to sea at any
moment.

"Pedillo," said Captain Brand, as his vigilant gaze took in all around
him and then rested on the "Centipede"--"Pedillo, you may warp the
vessel down to the mouth of the Tiger's Trap so soon as you've strewed
some fagots ready for lighting in the sheds. When you get to the Trap,
tell the gunner to take a gang of hands and give that battery a good
coat of coal tar, plug the vents of the guns, and bury carriages and
all in the sand beside the magazine. Tell him to destroy the powder, and
pitch overboard all he can't conceal; and let him bear a hand about it,
for we shall sail with the last of the sea-breeze toward sunset.

"And, Pedillo"--here the pirate's voice dropped to a whisper--"come back
after the vessel is secured, and bring that Maltese fellow without a
nose with you. It will be as well, perhaps, for you to provide yourself
with a few fathoms of raw-hide strips, as we may have occasion to use
it. _Quien sabe?_"

Señor Pedillo's black wiry beard fairly bristled as he grinned
understandingly at his superior; and, getting into a bit of a canoe at
the jetty, he paddled off to the brigantine to execute his orders.

Meanwhile Captain Brand slowly bent his steps toward the house under the
crag, and entered his spacious saloon for the last time. On the bare
table, too, was his last dinner, served on a few odd dishes and cracked
plates.

"Babette, old girl!" said he, as he sat down to this repast, "you have a
bottle of good Madeira, and a flask of Hock left? No?"

The negress shook her head violently, made the sign of the cross, and by
other telegraphic motions gave her master to understand that Padre
Ricardo had dropped in, drained both bottles, and then had reeled off on
board the brigantine.

"The drunken selfish beast!" muttered Captain Brand; "it will be the
last taste of wine he will swallow for a long time."

The pirate was quite correct in his schemes for the padre's reform, for
the next copious draught the holy father imbibed was the briny salt
water from the Caribbean Sea.

"Well, my Baba, a drop of water, then! Thank you, old lady. Here's to
your health while I am gone. There--you need not blubber so over my
hand--good-by!" And so passed away from Captain Brand's sight the only
creature in the wide world who loved him.



CHAPTER XXIV.

CAUGHT IN A NET.

    "I closed my lids and kept them close,
      And the balls like pulses beat;
    For the sky and the sea, and the sea and the sky,
    Lay like a load on my weary eye,
      And the dead were at my feet."


Captain Brand did not linger long over his frugal dinner, and when he
had finished, as if he had not had enough exercise for the last three
days, he began to walk with long nervous strides across the saloon.

"He called me coward, did he? and dared to lay his hands on me! By my
right arm, my Creole doctor, I'll teach you not to call hard names
again, and I'll paralyze your hands for all time to come."

The pirate's jaws grated like a rusty bolt as he hissed out these
murderous threats; but as his eye caught the squirming green silk rope
as he swung round on his heel in his walk, he paused and muttered,

"That bit of stuff may be of use. I'll take it by way of precaution."

Hereupon he rapidly unrove the cord and coiled it away in the bosom of
his shirt. Then looking at his watch, he said, "Ho! the time approaches,
and here comes Pedillo."

Lighting a cigar, he left his dwelling for the last time; and, after
pausing to hear a report from Pedillo that his orders had been executed
and the vessel all ready for sea, and whispering a few precise
directions in return, Captain Brand mounted up the steep face of the
crag again, and accosted the signal-man at the station.

"Any thing in sight?"

"Nothing to the eastward, _capitano_; but it has been a little hazy here
away to the southward since meridian, and I can hardly see through it."

"_Bueno_, my man! give me the glass. You can go on board the brigantine.
I'll take a last look myself."

While the signal-man scrambled down the crag, Captain Brand rested the
spy-glass on the trunk of the single cocoa-nut-tree, whose skeleton-like
fingers of leaves rattled above his head like a gibbeted pirate in
chains, and then he searched steadily along the hazy horizon. As he was
about, however, to withdraw his eye from the tube, something--a mere dim
speck--arrested his attention. Quickly dropping the glass, and as
rapidly rubbing the large lens and carefully adjusting the joints, he
raised it again, as a backwoodsman does his rifle with an Indian for a
mark. For full five minutes the pirate stood as motionless as the crag
beneath him, intently glaring through the tube at the speck in the
distance. At last he let the glass fall at his side, and pulling out his
watch with a jerk, he muttered to himself,

"It is a large and lofty ship; but, should she be a cruiser after me,
she will find the bird flown and the nest empty. Ho, now for action!"

Springing down the precipitous declivity as he spoke, he paused a moment
at a loophole of the vault beneath his dwelling, and puffing his cigar
into a bright coal, he carefully twitched the match-rope which led to
the train, opened the loose strands, and placed the fire to it. Waiting
an instant till he saw the nitre sparkle as it ignited, he moved away
with long, swinging strides toward the sheds. There, glancing through
the now deserted halls the crew had occupied, where quantities of
fagots, and kindling-wood, and barrels of pitch were standing, he
continued on till he came to the quarters of the doctor. The doctor was
standing at the open door on the thatched piazza, looking quietly at the
brigantine, whose sails were loosed, and the vessel hanging by a
sternfast, with her head just abreast the Tiger's Trap.

"Ah! _Monsieur le Docteur_, I have merely called to bid you a final
adieu before I go on board; and as I have a few moments left, and a few
words to say, suppose you walk with me toward the chapel. _Allons!_
there is a suspicious sail off there," waving his glass in the
direction, "and I wish to take a good look at her."

"Doctor," continued Captain Brand, as they reached the little esplanade
facing the graves and church, "you will have no one left here on our
island save our dumb Babette, and the chances are rather remote for your
getting away, without, perhaps, some of the West India fleet should
happen to drop in here, which I do not think probable. I rely, however,
upon your keeping your oath, even if they do come, and not betraying the
secrets you are acquainted with."

The pirate said this in an off-hand, friendly way, as he had his glass
leveled toward the sail he saw in the offing.

"Captain Brand," replied the doctor, "I was deceived in coming here, as
you well know; but I shall religiously keep my oath for the twenty
years, as I swore to do. After that, if we both live so long, my tongue
and arm shall speak and strike."

The pirate stepped back a little as he shut up the joints of the
spy-glass with a crash, and, with a scowl of hate and vengeance
combined, he said, in a loud voice, while his cold eyes gleamed like a
ray of sunlight on an iceberg,

"And I, too, keep my oaths; and, without waiting twenty years, I strike
now!"

Even while the treacherous villain spoke, two swarthy, sinewy scoundrels
crept stealthily from within the chapel, and, with the soft, slimy
movements of serpents, as their leader uttered the last word, they
sprang at the back of the doctor, and wound their coils around him,
twining strong strands of raw-hide rope about his arms, legs, and body.
Bound as in a frame of elastic steel, their victim was thrown, face
downward, upon the sand.

"Be quick, Pedillo! the time is flying! Gomez, bring the corpse trestle
from the chapel."

In a moment a wooden frame with legs, and stretched across with a bed
of light wire, which had been used to carry the mortal remains of
the pirates--and the poor women, too, beside them--to their last
resting-places, was brought out from the little church. Then the
bound victim was laid on it, face upward; again the hide thongs were
passed in numerous plaits until the body was lashed firmly to the
trestle.

"Place it on the edge of that rock there, with his head toward the
cocoa-nut-tree. Take this silk rope, Gomez, and clove-hitch it well up
the trunk. There, that will do. I myself will perform the last act of
politeness."

Saying this, the pirate widened the noose of the cord, and, slipping it
over the doctor's head, he placed the knot carefully under his left ear.
The victim gave no groan or sigh, and his dark, luminous eyes were fixed
on the blue sky above him in heaven.

"_Monsieur le Docteur_," said Captain Brand, as he hurriedly looked at
his watch and raised his hat, "I have but one word of caution to give
you: if you struggle you will have your neck broken before you are stung
to death! Talk as much as you like; but, as Babette is a long way off,
and hard of hearing, I doubt if she comes to your assistance! Adieu!"

[Illustration: "A DULL, HEAVY, BOOMING ROAR, THAT SHOOK THE CRAG TO ITS
BASE, ANNOUNCED THE RUIN OF THE PIRATES' DEN."]

The retreating figures went leaping toward the inlet, and, as they
rushed through the sheds, applied a torch to the combustible material
deposited there, and then sprang on toward the Tiger's Trap. A few
minutes afterward the doctor turned his eyes in that direction, and saw
the sails of the brigantine sheeted home and run up like magic; and,
taking the last breath of the sea-breeze on her quarter, the sternfast
was cast off, and she slipped easily out of the gorge-like channel.
Still, as those dark stern eyes watched the receding hull of the
"Centipede," a sudden jar shook the island, a heavy column of white
smoke rose from below the crag like a water-spout, and, spreading out
like a palm-tree, came down in a deluge of timber, stones, and dust,
while sheets of vivid flame leaped out from the gloom, and an awful
peal, followed by a heavy, booming roar, that shook the crag to its
base, announced the ruin of the pirate's den. At the same time the red
fires gleamed in fitful flashes from the sheds, and, rapidly making
headway, all at once burst forth in wild conflagration, till the whole
nest was wrapped in flames. The shock of the explosion and the fires
killed the wind, and a lurid pall of smoke and cinders hung like a
gloomy canopy over the island.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE MOUSE THAT GNAWED THE NET.

    "There passed a weary time. Each throat
      Was parched, and glazed each eye.
    A weary time! a weary time!
      How glazed each weary eye!
    When, looking westward, I beheld
      A something in the sky."


As the powder vomited forth its dreadful thunder, and as the stones and
timbers from the blasted den were hurled high in air, and scattered by
the explosive whirlwind far and near, some of the splinters and
fragments came down in dropping hail upon the red-tiled sheds and the
doctor's dwelling. At the first shock the lonely child started up in his
little bed, and while the earth rocked and the stones came pelting and
crashing on the roof, he screamed, "Mamma! mamma!" No loving echo came
back to those innocent lips, and naught was heard save the crackling of
the flame beyond, licking its tongue along the dry timber and roaring
joyously as it was fed. "Mamma! _chère_ mamma!"

Yet no answer, and still the savage flames came careering wildly on till
the very stones of the court-yard cracked like slates, while the burning
flakes and cinders loaded the air, and the eddying volumes of smoke
reeled in dense clouds, and poured their suffocating breath into the
room where the forsaken child was crying.

One more panting, helpless cry, and the little fellow instinctively flew
through the open doorway, where, blinded and choking with the
devastating element around him, he staggered feebly beyond its
influence. Yet again a flurry of thick smoke lighted up the forked and
vivid flames, and chased the child before it.

Oh, fond mother! in your poignant grief for the loss of your poor
drowned boy, you were spared the agony of seeing him, even in
imagination, struggling faintly before that tempest of fire and smoke,
calling plaintively for her on whose tender bosom his head had rested,
while his naked feet were cut and bruised by the sharp coral shingle
beneath them. But onward and onward the boy wandered, and fortunately
his footsteps took the path into a purer atmosphere which led toward the
chapel. Here he looked timidly around at the lurid glare behind him, and
then entered the church and sank down exhausted, his feverish, smarting
eyes closing in slumber on the hard pavement beneath the image of the
Virgin Mary.

Then came the close and sultry night--no murmur of a land-wind to drive
the smoky canopy away--the black cinders falling in burning rain on
basin, thicket, and lagoon, till even the very lizards and scorpions hid
themselves deep within the holes and crevices of the rocks. Midnight
came. The dim and silent stars were obscured by a veil of heavy clouds,
and with a low, muttering sound of thunder, the vapory masses unclosed
their portals, and the rain fell in torrents. The flames, now nearly
satisfied with their work, leaped out occasionally from the fallen
ruins, but were quenched by the tropical deluge, and smouldered away
amid the charred and saturated timbers. Then the thunder ceased, the
lizards and scorpions came from their retreats, the teal fluttered over
the lagoon, and the noise of the waves bursting over the reef came again
to the ear. Still there was no breath of air; the atmosphere was thick
and damp; and out from the mangrove thickets and wide expanse of cactus,
swarms of insects, musquitoes, and sand-flies in myriads went buzzing
and singing in the sultry, murky night.

So dragged on the weary hours until day broke again, and the sea-birds
floated off seaward for their morning's meal, and the flying-fish
skipped with their silvery wings from wave to wave, as the dolphins
glittered in gold and purple after them below the blue water. No bright
and blazing sun came over the hills of Cuba to light up this picture,
but all was blight and gloom, with murky masses of dead, still clouds
hanging low down over the island.

The little suffering boy, lying there on the coral pavement, with his
head resting on the thin, delicate arm, with pale, sweet face turned
half upward toward the Virgin, gave a feeble cry and opened his eyes. He
rose to a sitting posture, with his little hands resting on his lap and
little ragged shirt. Then, with his dim hazel eyes fixed upon the
painting, while the tears coursed slowly down his pallid cheeks, he put
forth his hands in a childish movement of supplication, and murmured
again his tearful prayer, "Mamma! mamma!"

Presently rising, he turned his feeble footsteps toward the doorway, and
as his eye caught the stone bowl of holy water standing on its coral
pedestal near the portal, he bent down his feverish head and slaked his
parched lips. Revived by this, he timidly looked out from the chapel,
and shuddering as he beheld the gloomy wilderness around, he once more
screamed in a thin piercing cry, "Mamma! oh, _ma chère_ mamma!"

That was the last sad wail for help for many and many a long year that
those infant lips were destined to utter; and when he again called upon
that dear name, his manly arms would clasp a joyful mother to his
swelling heart.

"Henri!" came back like an echo in a clear shout to the shriek of the
boy. "Henri! Henri!" was reiterated again and again, each time in a
voice that seemed to split asunder the canopy of clouds above.

The boy started and listened.

"Henri! Henri! this way to your good friend the doctor! Quick, my little
boy!"

Now with the step of a fawn the child ran out upon the sharp sandy
esplanade, and following the voice as he tripped lightly through the
narrow pathway between the needle-pointed cactus, in a moment he
stopped, with a look of horror, beside the trestle on which the bound
and nearly naked man was stretched.

Ay, it was a sight to make a strong and stalwart man turn pale with
sickness and horror, much less a baby-boy of three or four years old.
There lay the man, all through the dreadful night, with swarms on swarms
and myriads upon myriads of stinging insects, biting and sipping, and
sucking his life-blood with distracting agony away. Ah! think of the
hellish torture often practiced by those bloody pirates upon their
victims in the West Indies! The bound man's eyes were closed, the lips
and cheeks puffed and swollen out of all human proportions, and the
inflamed body was one glowing red and angry surface. No needle could
have been stuck where the venomous stings of a thousand sand-flies or
musquitoes had not already sucked blood. Ay, well might the child start
back with horror!

"It is your friend the doctor, Henri," he said in French, still in a
strong but kindly voice. "I can not see you, but get me a knife. No, my
child, never mind--you can not find one; don't leave me."

Here the child timidly put his little hands out and brushed away the
poisonous insects, and then touched the doctor's face.

"Ah! Henri, see if you can not slip that pretty silk rope over my head;
yes, that is the way--_doucement_--easily, my child! Well, now, my
Henri, you are weak and sick, my poor little boy; but listen to me--yes,
I feel your little hands on my eyes. Well, bite upon that cord that goes
across my throat. Bite till it snaps asunder! I am nearly choking,
little one; but don't cry."

True, the strips of raw-hide, which had partially slackened in the rain
that had washed the body of the victim, now began to tauten again in the
sultry heat of the morning, and lay half hidden in the swollen throat,
stomach, and limbs of the tortured sufferer.

Henri's sharp little teeth fastened upon the strand, biting and gnawing,
until finally it was severed, and the doctor gave a great sigh of
relief.

[Illustration: "AH! HENRI, SEE IF YOU CAN NOT SLIP THAT PRETTY SILK ROPE
OVER MY HEAD."]

"Blessings on you, my poor boy!" he murmured, painfully. "Now bite away
on the strands which bind the arm. There! Don't! don't hurry! Rest a
little, my child! Ah! it is well!"

 Again those sharp little teeth of a mouse had gnawed through the net
which bound the lion-hearted man; the ends of the raw-hide drew back and
twisted into spiral curls, and the right arm, though numbed and four
times its original size, was free.

"Thanks be to God for all His mercies!" exclaimed the doctor, as with
difficulty he raised his released arm to his face and pushed back the
swollen lids from his closed eyes--"and to you, my little friend, for
saving this wretched life!"

Waiting a few moments to recover his strength, the doctor made a mighty
effort, and some of the coils whose strands had been cut by those little
teeth yielded and gradually unrove, so as to leave the upper part of his
body free. Then, while the child was once more cutting the lashings of
his feet, he himself unfastened the knots of his left arm, and by a
vigorous effort he tore the net from off him and sat upright. Clasping
his numbed and swollen hands together, he turned his face and almost
sightless eyes to heaven.

"May this awful trial serve as a partial forgiveness of my sins, and
make me a better man!"

He paused, and laid his heavy arms around the child, while warm and
grateful tears trickled down his cheeks. Slowly, and like a drunken man,
his feet sought the sand, and then, weak, trembling, and faint, he
staggered along the path, the boy tripping lightly before him, till he
fell exhausted on the floor of the chapel.

"Water, my Henri! water!"

The child scooped it out from the stone bowl with his tiny hands and
sprinkled it on his friend's face.

"There, that will suffice, my brave boy! Lay your cheek to mine!"

What a sight it was--that dark, swollen, yet powerful frame lying on the
coral pavement, and the innocent child, like a dewdrop on the leaf of a
red tropical flower, nestling close beside it!



CHAPTER XXVI.

THE HURRICANE.

    "'Twas off the Wash--the sun went down--the sea looked black and
          grim,
    For stormy clouds with murky fleece were mustering at the brim;
    Titanic shades! enormous gloom! as if the solid night
    Of Erebus rose suddenly to seize upon the light!
    It was a time for mariners to bear a wary eye,
    With such a dark conspiracy between the sea and sky!"


Past a September noon. The great canopy of dark, murky clouds fell lower
and lower, until they nearly touched the earth, wrapping as in a blanket
the single cocoa-nut-tree on the crag, and shutting out the light and
air of heaven as they settled over the noxious lagoon, the mangrove
thickets, and pure inlet. The sea-birds came screaming in from seaward,
fluttering their wide-spread wings in the sultry atmosphere, and
alighting on the smooth rocks, where they furled their pinions and put
their heads together. The flying-fish no longer skimmed over the waves,
and the dolphin and shark sank deep down in the blue water, or lay still
and quiet beside the coral groves. The rolling, swelling ocean of the
tropic, with its glassy, greasy surface unruffled by the faintest air,
rolled heavily on until it struck the coral ledge, when, with a dull,
heavy roar, it broke over in creamy foam, and came sluggishly in to the
sandy beach. There the tiny waves lashed the shelly strand, and all was
still again. No sun; no breeze; and even the birds, and serpents, and
insects gasped for breath. The fish below the sea, the animated nature
above, and the very leaves and vines of the forests and thickets knew
what was brewing in the great vacuum around.

Slowly and painfully the man in the chapel regained his feet, and with
the child by the hand, moved on to the farthest corner by the rude
altar, where he sank down again, and, clasping the boy to his heart,
waited in breathless awe. As if the powder and flames had not done their
destructive work, the wrath of heaven was to be poured out over the
devoted den of the pirates.

Then came a bellowing roar as a current of wind swept over the sea,
cutting a pathway in the blue water, and scooping it up in an impalpable
mist, hurrying on to the low beach of the island, and tearing the sand
and shells up in heaps--and then a lull. Now, as if all the demons of
winds had let loose their cavernous lungs from the four quarters of the
earth, and like the shocks of artillery, volley upon volley, came the
hurricane. The sea became one boiling, seething, hissing surface of
foam, pressed and flattened by the weight of the tempest, which laid the
black rocks bare on the ledge, and drove the water into both mouths of
the inlet, until, with a crashing shock, it met in the basin, and broke
over and over the cove, and high up the wall of rocks on the other side.
Two or three streams of whirlwind meeting, too, over the island, drove
the lagoon hither and thither, catching up the white pond-lilies by
their long stems, twisting off the dense thickets of mangroves by the
roots, burrowing holes in the sandy beds of the cactus, and shearing off
their flat, thorny leaves and needle points by the acre together; then a
rushing whirl around the cocoa-nuts, bowing their tufted tops at first
till they nearly touched the earth, when, the stout trunks snapping like
glass, they would go pitching and tossing from base to crown, careering
and dancing aloft, borne away with sand and mangrove, cactus, flowers,
and sticks, into the flying clouds before the hurricane. Then another
lull; and from the opposite direction again thundered the terrible
breath of the demons, sweeping thousands of sea-birds, with broken
pinions, screaming amid the gale, hurling them against the crag,
stripping the feathers from their crushed carcasses, and in a moment
burying them a foot deep in clouds of sand. No more pauses or lulls now
in the hurtling tempest; but with a steady, tremendous roar, which made
the earth tremble, the rocks quake, and laid every vestige of vegetation
flat to the ground, it came on mightier and mightier, and fiercer and
fiercer, with black masses of never-ending clouds sweeping close down
like dark midnight, as if heaven and earth had come together. All
through the gloomy day and through the night this elemental war, with
its legions of careering demons, continued to lash the sea and smite the
land; until, as if satiated with vengeance, the clouds belched forth in
red lightning, vomiting out peal upon peal of awful thunder as a parting
salute, and then, moderating down to a hard gale from another quarter,
broke away. The blue sky appeared, and the glorious sun once more came
up in his majesty over the distant hills of Cuba.



CHAPTER XXVII.

THE VIRGIN MARY.

    "A weary weed, tossed to and fro,
      Drearily drenched in the ocean brine,
    Soaring high and sinking low,
      Lashed along without will of mine;
    Sport of the spoom of the surging sea;
      Flung on the foam, afar and near,
    Mark my manifold mystery--
      Growth and grace in their place appear."


With the boy clasped to his heart, the doctor sat beside the altar of
the chapel during all the direful strife without, shielding his little
charge from the clouds of fine sand and rubbish that every few minutes
came swirling within the temple, dashing the padre's candlesticks into
battered lumps of brass on the pavement, and tearing to atoms the votive
offerings hung around the walls by the pirates. But, as if in mercy to
the trustful souls lying there, the Virgin Mary still looked down in
sweet pity upon them, and the little chapel stood unharmed.

When at last, however, the hurricane's back was broken, and Æolus had
reined up his maddened chargers and curbed their flying wings, and when
all the demons of the wind had gone moaningly back to their caverns in
the clouds, the doctor arose, and with the boy beside him, knelt
devoutly before the altar while he uttered a fervent prayer of
thanksgiving.

"Come, my Henri, now we may go out and see if we can find something to
eat and drink. You are weak and hungry, my poor little boy; but you
shall not suffer much longer."

That strong man, with the heart of a gentle woman, had no thought of how
ill, and famished, and thirsty he himself was from the terrible torture
he had endured. No, he only thought of the child who had saved him.

In front of the chapel the sand and bushes were piled up in ridgy heaps,
the coral wall around the cemetery had been thrown down, while the flat
head-stones over the pirates' graves had disappeared entirely. Not so,
however, with the white slabs near by where those poor doomed women were
lying; for the hurricane had spared their tombs, and a pall of pure
white sand was sprinkled evenly over their remains. Bending over them
was the trunk of the cocoa-nut, with its top stripped and its leafless
branches quivering in the wind; while from below them streamed out the
long, thin green silk rope which had so often served Captain Brand, the
pirate, for his private executions. Near at hand lay the trestle on
which the doctor had been stretched--caught by the base of the cocoa-nut
column, and half buried in sand--while the cruel strips of raw-hide
which had lashed the victim down were tied and twisted into a maze of
complicated knots by the nimble fingers of the winds.

The doctor started, and his half-closed eyes shot out gleams of anger as
he beheld the unconscious implements designed for his torturing murder;
and leaving the child at the doorway to the chapel, he sallied out,
detached the rope, loosened the trestle from its sandy bed, and placed
them in a corner of the chapel.

Then carefully picking his way, with the boy in his great arms, over
the trees and débris which obstructed the pathway, he speedily
reached the site on which had stood the sheds of the "Centipede's"
crew. Fire, water, and wind had done their work effectually, though
the fire had partially spared the detached storehouse and shed which
he had shared with the infamous padre. All else was a ruin of loose
blocks of stone, broken tiles, nearly buried in banks of sand. From a
well in the once busy court-yard, and which had also escaped the
devouring elements, the doctor drew a bucket or two of water, in which
he slaked the boy's thirst and then his own, and afterward poured water
over their bodies. Then, from a still smouldering beam which puffed out
at intervals a thin curl of smoke from beneath one of the sheds, he
lit a fire in the court-yard, while from the wreck of the storeroom he
succeeded in rescuing some hard biscuit and a ham. This last he tore
in shreds, and placing them on sticks before the fire, they were
thus enabled to make a hearty meal, first providing for the wants of
the child, however--soaking the biscuit for him, as if it were his first
duty on earth. Again raising the boy in his arms, he passed from the
ruined sheds and bent his steps toward Captain Brand's former dwelling.
The road was heaped with shells and sand, strewed with shoals of dead
fish and wounded or dying birds, while the wreck of a boat, mingled with
the timbers and planks of the jetty to the basin, were lying pell-mell
on the beach of the little cove. Casting his eyes around in search
of the once spacious dwelling, with its vaults, veranda, and saloon, he
could hardly at first trace a vestige of the structure. The powder,
more destructive even than the hurricane, had tossed walls and
building into a confused heap of rubbish; then came the wind and sand
on top of the rocks which had tumbled down by the concussion of the
first explosion, and then the water, packing all together as if no
habitation had ever existed there. The doctor walked slowly around
until he came to the angle where the kitchen once was, and there, three
fourths hidden beneath a mass of blackened stones and charred timber,
peered forth the white skeleton of a human being. The flesh had been
seared and burned from the face and skull by the instantaneous flash
of the powder, and there lay the remains of Babette, whitely bleached,
as if she had been thrown a lifeless corpse on the sea-beach. A few
yards below this frightful spectacle lay a number of shattered boxes
and trunks, then a confused bundle of clothes, and a sandy saturated
collection of kitchen utensils and crockery. Yes, the poor dumb woman,
the creature and witness of many a cruel scene, ignorant or uncertain
of the warning given her by the master she loved, had fallen another
tribute to his long list of victims.

The doctor only waited long enough to select a few necessary articles
from the heterogeneous heap before him, and then, with the child still
clinging contentedly to his shoulder, he returned to the chapel.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE ARK THAT JACK BUILT.

    "Good heaven, befriend that little boat,
      And guide her on her way!
    A boat, they say, has canvas wings,
      But can not fly away;
    Though, like a merry singing-bird,
      She sits upon the spray."


The land wind sighed and murmured; the sea-breeze wafted its rustling
influence over the waves; the long swells broke over the ledge; the
inlet flowed pure and limpid; and the gulls and sea-mews floated
gracefully over the reef, as if a hurricane had never poured its baneful
wrath upon it or the lonely island.

Day by day and week by week, the man and boy, getting each hour stronger
and better, worked and worked. He with his great arms hewing and sawing,
and the child attending upon him like a shadow. By great toil and
exertion the doctor had succeeded in placing some of the timbers of the
jetty together as launching-ways, and on the cradle he had laid the
wreck of the old boat. Then, with an old saw and some tools he found
near the site of the mat sheds by the cove, he began to build the frail
ark which was to carry him and the child from the hated island. From the
storehouse, too, he obtained plenty of provisions to supply their wants,
and old sails and rope he found in abundance. Babette's collection of
worldly wealth provided them with linen and clothing, together with
utensils for eating and drinking; and he had made their dwelling in the
little chapel clean and habitable. Here they slept by night on an old
sail, and soundly too, the sleep of repentance and innocence. With the
early morning the man and the boy arose, and took their way to the cove.
The little fellow was clean and tidy now, dressed in a little loose
calico frock, and a queer contrivance of an old bonnet fashioned out of
Babette's gear, and on his feet were a pair of little canvas slippers,
stitched for him by his protector. After a bath in the basin of the
inlet the fire was kindled, and the simple breakfast prepared. Then,
while the strong man hewed, and sawed, and hammered beneath a temporary
awning which covered the open workshop, the boy would pick up shells
along the cove, or with a little rod and line, seated on a flat rock
near by, jerk out fish from the basin to serve for dinner. Sometimes he
would wander about in search of nails and spikes for the boat, or gather
sticks for the fire, but never out of hail, and never beyond the
watchful eyes of his friend. Yes, those watchful, kind eyes followed his
slightest movements; and while the hammer was going in vigorous blows on
the planks, or the axe chipping away a timber, his pleasant voice sang
Creole songs to the child, or encouraged his innocent prattle. A loaded
musket, which, with some ammunition, he had dug out from the wreck of
his old quarters, stood leaning against an upright post under the shade,
and woe to the man or beast that might have dared to approach the boy!
In the burning heat of the tropical day the labor ceased, and the child
either lay on his back on the soft sand beneath the awning, kicking up
his little legs, watching the small gulls as they skimmed across the
basin, or, with his brown curly head resting on the doctor's knees,
slept sweetly. Happy and contented he was, too, with the return of
health and strength; and if his budding memory looked back to her he had
lost, and the recollection of his faithful Banou, it was only for a
moment, and, like a childish dream, it passed away.

[Illustration: BUILDING THE BOAT.]

Every evening at sunset, when the work was done for the day, the doctor,
with Henri in his arms and the musket on his shoulder, would climb the
crag, and peer all around the island; but never a sail did he see from
the hour the "Centipede" spread her canvas, while he lay helplessly
bound on the trestle with the green noose around his neck. As the
twilight faded, the sole human occupants of the island returned to the
chapel, and when they had said a simple prayer, kneeling before the
Virgin, they laid themselves down on their canvas bed to rest till the
dawn. Many a silent hour in the watches of the tedious night did the
doctor lie awake, while the cool sweet breath of the child fanned his
cheek as he lay nestling beside him, pondering and wondering on the fate
of his charge. He knew absolutely nothing about his history save that he
had been pitched overboard from the brig the pirates were robbing; but
what was the name or nation of the vessel, where from, or whither bound,
he was in utter ignorance. He had questioned the leader Gibbs on that
occasion after the chase by the corvette, when he had lopped off the
brute's leg; but, what with suffering and drink, the ruffian had either
forgotten the brig's name, or feigned to, and all he could impart was
the belief that she was an English trader. Even from the boy, too, the
doctor could elicit nothing of importance, though day by day he tried
every means of leading the child's mind back to the past, but always
with the same result.

"_Oui, ma chère mama! Bon Banou!_" and "_Ma petite cousine, Rosalie!_"
These were the only words the little fellow had to link his fate with
the future, and even they became fainter and fainter on his mind and
tongue as the time passed on. With this delicate web around the destiny
of the child, and that he spoke French, and had evidently been tenderly
nurtured, the doctor was forced to be content.

Well, so the days and nights went by, and so the work went on, and the
little ark began to assume a wholesome look, and to be capable of
plowing the distant main. Then, when she was planked up, with a gunwale
on, and half-decked over forward, she was calked, and the seams payed
with pitch. When all ready for launching, early one morning the doctor
and the boy went gayly down to the cove. There, as the first golden rays
of the rising sun shot athwart the inlet, Henri stood up in the bows,
and with a large pearl-shell of pure spring water, he waved his tattered
bonnet round his curly locks, and with childish delight, as the vessel
began to move, he emptied the shell of its sparkling treasure, shouting,
as she slid off the ways into the basin, "_Ma petite cousine Rosalie!_"
The builder, too, took off his hat and shouted, in his deep bass, till
the rocks gave back the echo of "_Rosalie! Rosalie!_"

Thus was the ark launched and christened by her captain and crew,
and there she rode on the basin, a little pinnace of about ten tons,
which had been once used to carry anchors, chains, and stores about the
harbor. A week or two more, and she was fitted with a single mast,
stepped well in the bows, for a jib and one square lug-sail. Then
ballast in bags of sand was laid along her keelson, and a couple of
breakers of fresh water got on board, together with a quantity of
cooked salt meat and hard biscuit stowed away under the half-deck
forward--where, too, was a cozy little nest of spare canvas, with an
oakum pillow, for the boy! Yes, there lay the good ship "Rosalie,"
outward bound, with sails bent and gear rove, cargo on board, and
waiting for a wind.

Meanwhile the doctor had tried her under sail, and satisfied himself
that every thing worked well, and that she was in proper trim. Then he
moored her within a fathom from the shore, and waited for a moon to
light him on his voyage. Whither?

Carefully, too--like one who had passed a lifetime on the ocean, from
the China Seas to the broad Atlantic, under the suns of the tropics as
well as in the dim gloom of high latitudes--the doctor studied the
clouds and watched their course, noting the flight of the birds in the
air and the track of fish in the sea. At last the trade breezes began to
blow regularly and steadily; the land winds, too, in the gray of the
morning, fluttered timidly away out to sea, and the round pearly moon
shone bright and mellow over rock and water.

"To-morrow, my brave boy, we shall sail away from the island. Ah! you
clap your hands, eh? Yes, we shall go to find mamma!" This was said as
man and child stood for the last time on the lofty crag, while the
former ranged his dark eyes scrutinizingly around the horizon. Nothing
in sight!

Once more to their chapel of refuge, where, for the first time in all
their association, putting the child to sleep by himself, the doctor sat
down on the trestle by the entrance, and, lighted by the brilliant moon,
he caught up the tangled mazes of the hide net which had bound him, and
sedulously applied himself to a task before him.

Any one who has seen the effect produced by a violent gale upon the
tattered shreds of a shivered main-top-sail, bound up into the most
tortuous knots that it is possible to conceive of, and so hard and solid
that you might saw the canvas balls in slices like boards, may form some
idea of the task the doctor had imposed upon himself to loosen the hide
strands tied together by the furious fingers of the hurricane. Patiently
and quietly, with no sign of temper, he applied himself to the work, and
with nothing but a sharp-pointed spike to aid his hands, he began to
unravel, bit by bit, the laced knots and bunches of raw-hide, without
ever cutting a strand, until, as the moon sank glimmering down, the
tangled mass lay in clear coils beside him--though in several pieces,
where it had been severed by the teeth of that little mouse purring
behind the altar--and the task was done. Then raising the trestle, he
bore it within the altar, and with the now unraveled coil of hide, and
the softer silk rope for a pillow, he again stretched himself upon what
once had been his bed of torture.

For what possible object all this labor had been undertaken, or for what
future purpose--vague they must have been--no one but the persevering
man who did it can tell; and there he lay, no sound coming from his
compressed lips till the day dawned. Then he arose, and, kneeling over
the sleeping child, he again solemnly repeated the oath he had before
taken in his hut--

"Sleeping or waking, on land or sea, I devote the remainder of my
wretched life to returning this lost child to his mother. So help me
God!"

The little boy stirred, as if the angels and the sweet Virgin were
whispering their protecting power over him, and, with a smile dawning
upon his rosy, dimpled cheeks, he raised the lids from his bright hazel
eyes, and put his fat round arms around the doctor's neck. If two great
drops fell upon that upturned innocent little face from the dark full
eyes bending over him, they were not tears of sorrow! Oh, no! It was the
dew of hope and trustfulness falling from the soul of a repentant sinner
relying upon an all-wise Providence.

"Come, my Henri, say your little prayer of the morning, and we will go."
The man had taught the child that little prayer which he himself had
learned at his mother's knee.

Up again to the crag, and down to the shelly margin of the shore; and a
long look the man gave at the ruin of shed and den, as he gently placed
the child on a sand-bag in the stern-sheets of the ark. Then he cast
off the rope which held the vessel to the hated strand, hoisted the
sail, and, as she bubbled along the inlet with the first sigh of the
land wind, he stood at the helm with his bare head lighted up by the
beams of the rising sun, and his lips moved in prayer.

On, noiselessly through the Tiger's Trap sailed the little pinnace till
she bowed her rugged cutwater in the yielding waves, and with her square
lug-sail swelling gently to the freshening breeze, she held her course
to sea. I question much if the stanch brigantine, named the "Centipede,"
which had preceded her through this tiger's gorge, with all the
ruffianly crew that manned her, and their villainous captain on her
quarter-deck, stood half the chance of a prosperous voyage as the tiny
ark, called the "Rosalie," which followed, with her noble, brave
commander, and his weak and boyish mate. Who can tell?

END OF PART I.



PART II.



CHAPTER XXIX.

LAYING UP THE STRANDS.

    "Ever drifting, drifting, drifting
            On the shifting
      Currents of the restless main,
    Till in sheltered coves and reaches
            Of sandy beaches,
      All have found repose again."


It was in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and twenty-two, and in
the broad and commodious harbor of Kingston, a great mercantile haven,
crowded with shipping from all parts of the commercial globe; landlocked
by reef and ridge, with the rocks and heights crowned by frowning
batteries of heavy cannon; while beyond were spread the lower and upper
town, in masses of low two-story buildings, with piazzas, bright green
jalousies, stately palm, tamarind, and cocoa-nut-trees waving above
them. At the mouth of the harbor strait, where stands Fort Augusta, lay
a magnificent double-banked American frigate, with a broad blue
swallow-tailed pennant at her main, standing out stiff, like a dog-vane,
from the lofty mast, as the ship rode to the strong sea-breeze.

The stays and rigging came down from trucks, cross-trees, and tops in
straight black lines, from the great length of lower masts and
enormously square yards fore and aft; and from side to side, till they
met the long majestic hull and taper head-booms; while below were two
rows of ports, with the guns run out and the brass tompions gleaming in
their muzzles. The awnings were spread in one flat extended sheet of
white cotton canvas from bowsprit to taffrail, and from the wide-spread
lower booms at the fore-chains boats were riding by their painters.
Within a cable's length of the frigate's black quarter lay a low rakish
schooner, like a minnow alongside a whale, with a thin little coach-whip
streaming from her main-mast head, a long brass gun amidships, and
looking as trig and tidy as a French maid beside her portly mistress.

The bell struck in twin notes _eight_ on board the frigate, echoed back
from the pigmy schooner in a faint, double succession of tinkles; the
whistles resounded from deck to deck in ear-splitting notes, surging and
chirruping all together, and then suddenly ceasing with a rattling beat
of a drum and a short bellow of "Grog, ho!"

Between the guns of the main deck, and about the spar-deck battery
forward of the main-mast, sat five hundred lusty sailors on the white
decks around their mess-cloths, bolting hot pea soup after their grog,
and chatting and laughing in a devil-may-care sort of a strain, as if
the grub was good and the timbers sound, as they were, of the stanch
frigate beneath them. No noise, no confusion, but just as polite and
courteous, in their honest, seamanlike way, as half a legion of French
dancing-masters, they whacked off the salt pork before them with their
sheath-knives, munching the flinty biscuit, and all as happy and
careless of the past and future as clams at high water. Ay, there they
clustered, those five hundred sailors, in their snowy duck trowsers and
white, coarse linen frocks, with the blue collars laid square back over
their broad shoulders, exposing their bronzed and hairy throats, wagging
their jaws, and ready at any moment, at the tap of the drum, day or
night, to spring to the guns, and make the battery dance a jig as the
solid iron food went amid sheets of flame toward a foe. Yes, and ready,
too, in the gentle breeze or the howling tempest, to leap at the shrill
pipe of the whistle from the busy deck or their snug hammocks, and, like
so many monkeys, jump up the shrouds, lie out on the enormous yards
while the frigate was plunging bows under in the tumultuous seas, grasp
the writhing canvas in their sinewy paws, and wrap it up close and tight
in the hempen gaskets. Man-of-war sailors, for battle, or gale, or
spree, every one of them.

On board that little consort near were about forty more of the same
sort, only older, more bronzed, and more deliberate and methodical in
manner, sipping their pea pottage after blowing away the steam, cutting
their pork after much reflection, and cracking their biscuit tranquilly.
Their conversation, too, was slow and dignified, each word well
considered before it came out, and never interrupting one another in a
yarn, as did the younger harum-scarum chaps in the big ship near. But
yet those weather-beaten old sons of Neptune, who had each one of them
seen sights that would make your hair stand on end to think of, could
handle that schooner when her low deck was buried waist-deep to the
combings of the main hatch in angry water, and make that Long Tom
amidships there spin round on its pivot, and never threw away idly one
of its solid globular messengers. Ay, trust them for that.

Then honor to them all, those gallant tars who have fought the battles
of our country by sea and lake, and upheld those Stars and Stripes
until they are respected to the uttermost ends of the earth! Glory to
them, ye wise legislators, who sit in council upon the nation's wealth
and grandeur! Think of the fearless arms that have shielded your
otherwise unprotected shores when circled in a ring of dreadful fire
from the guns of a haughty foe.

[Illustration: THE UNITED STATES FRIGATE "MONONGAHELA."]

And you, too, ye rich traders! whose valuable cargoes roll hither and
thither over the trackless deep, cared for by those toiling tars who
fight and bleed for the flag that waves o'er your treasure--in stinging
gale, with frozen fingers, or under burning suns, with panting
breasts--think of them when your noble ships come gallantly into your
superb ports, and unlade their floating mines of wealth into your
spacious warehouses, while you in your lordly mansions sip your wine!
Think of those arms grasping the shivering sail in the mighty tempest,
in the black night, and the coarse fare they eat, the sometimes putrid
water they drink, and the hard beds they lie upon, while you are
reposing on downy pillows with your wives and little ones beside you!
Ah! take pity on the sailor, and scatter your shining gold over him in
his distress.

When the time comes, as come it may, when the cannon of a hostile fleet
are thundering at your ports; when your lumbering craft are flying
before the rapacious grasp of quick-heeled cruisers, and fiery bombs are
hissing through the pure air, bursting in your marble palaces and
blasting your stores of wealth to dust, _then_ you will turn with
blanched faces to the sea, and wonder why you have so long forgotten the
noble hearts and stalwart arms that once were thrown around you. But not
before.

On the flush quarter-deck of the frigate, by the raised signal lockers
abaft, stood a bronzed old quarter-master, a spy-glass resting on his
arm, through which every minute he peered around the harbor, giving an
eye, too, occasionally to the half-hour glass, whose sands dribbled
steadily into the lower bulb on the locker beside him.

What cared he--no wife or child to cheer him! No cares save but to see
that the ensign did not roll foul of the halyards, that the broad
pennant blew out straight, that the half-hour glass did not need
turning, and that no boat approached the frigate without his reporting
it to the officer of the watch. Naught else save, perhaps, whether the
other old quarter-master, Charley Holmes, down below there on the
gun-deck, had wiped from his lips the moisture of the midday grog, and
would be up in time to take the relief while the pea soup was warm.
Nothing else.

The lieutenant of the watch briskly paced the solid deck, scrubbed white
as milk with lime-juice and molasses, the even seams between the planks
glistening like the strands of a girl's raven tresses as his profane and
rapid feet pressed upon them. What thought he in his careless walk, with
the gleaming bunch of bullion on his right shoulder, sword by his side,
white trowsers, and gilt eagle buttons on his navy-blue coat?

He was thinking how his pittance of pay would support, in a scrimpy way,
his poor mother and sister, who looked unto him as their only hope and
refuge. And he thought, too, as he tramped that noble deck, made
glorious by many a battle and victory in which he had borne a humble
part, that his rich and powerful country would eventually reward him
with increased pay and promotion. Were the single dollar which lay alone
in his trowsers pocket, and the light mist which arose off there beyond
the Apostles' Battery, opposite Port Royal Harbor, an evidence of one or
a sign of the last aspiration? We hope not; but we shall see.[*]

Three or four midshipmen, too, pranced over that frigate's white
quarter-deck, on the port side, in their blue jackets and duck trowsers.
Little gay madcaps they were, scarcely well into their teens, with
little glittering toasting-forks of dirks dangling at their sides, and
ready for any lark or mischief.

And what thought those boyish imps of reefers? Did they trace the flight
of that tropic man-of-war bird, sailing high up in the heavens, heading
seaward, away into the distant future, through clouds and sunshine, rain
and storm? And did they think, as they fluttered along the deck, that
their own career might lead them in that direction, toward the star of
promotion which shone so brightly near at hand, and was never reached;
or else, by a chance shot, to come tumbling down with a crippled pinion,
and hobble out their lives on shore? No. Those gay young blades, whose
mothers were dreaming and sighing for them, had no reflections of that
kind. They were chattering about the little frolic they had on their
last liberty day, when the captain ordered them off to the frigate at
sunset, and planning another for the week to come. Happy little scamps,
let them dance their careless thoughts away!

"Two bells, sir," said the quarter-master to the officer of the watch.

"Very good! Young gentlemen, tell the boatswain to turn the hands to,
and have the barge manned. Let the first lieutenant and the marine
officer know that the commodore is going to leave the ship. There, no
larking on the quarter-deck, Mr. Mouse!"

This last command was addressed to a tiny youngster who was hardly big
enough to go without pantalettes, much less to wear a jacket and order
half a hundred huge sailors about, any one of whom was old enough to be
his great-grandfather. But yet that small lad did it, and could steer a
boat, too, or fly about like a ribbon in a high wind up there in the
mizzen-top, while the men on the yard were taking the last reef in the
top-sail.

"Go down to the cabin, sir, and let the commodore and his friend know
the boat is ready."

Down the ladder skipped Mr. Mouse, and while he was gone, the guard, in
their white summer uniform and cross-belts, stood at ease, resting on
their muskets on the quarter-deck, eight side-boys and the boatswain at
the starboard gangway, with the first lieutenant and the officer of the
watch standing near.

Presently there came up from the after cabin hatchway a fine, handsome
man, in the very prime of life, in cocked hat, full-dress coat, a pair
of gleaming epaulets, sword by his hip, and his nether limbs cased in
white knee-breeches, silk stockings, and pumps. The one who followed him
was apparently a much older man, with grizzled locks, a dark, stern
face, and without epaulets. The first raised his hat as he stepped on
the quarter-deck--not a thread of silver was seen in his dark hair--and
then both bowed to the officers, who saluted them as they moved toward
the gangway. The boatswain piped, the marines presented arms, the drum
gave three quick rolls, and the commodore went over the gangway,
preceded by his companion.

-----

  [*] This was written before the "Pay Bill" was passed.



CHAPTER XXX.

OLD FRIENDS.

    "What though when storms our bark assail,
      The needle trembling veers,
    When night adds horror to the gale,
      And not a star appears?
    True to the pole as I to thee,
      It faithful still will prove--
    An emblem dear of constancy,
      And of a sailor's love."


The barge left the side of the frigate, a broad blue pennant with white
stars on a staff at her bow, with fourteen handsome sailors to man her,
all in clean white frocks and trowsers, with straw hats and flowing
black ribbons around them, on which was stamped in gold letters,
"Monongahela."

The double bank of white ash oars flashed in the rippling waves of the
harbor as the barge was urged over the water, the current seething and
buzzing under her bows, and bubbling into her wake as she flew on toward
the town. In a mahogany box at the stern sat a bushy-whiskered coxswain,
whose body swayed to the stroke of the oars, while his hand grasped the
brass tiller as he steered amid the shipping. The commodore had settled
himself down under the boat's awning on the snow-white covered cushions
in the stern-sheets, and, with one foot resting on the elegant ash
grating beneath, he began to talk to the grave gentleman who sat
opposite to him.

"It is many a long year since I last visited this superb harbor, but I
remember it as if it were yesterday. You never were here before, I
think? No? Well, if any of the old set I once knew, when I was first
lieutenant of the old 'Scourge,' are yet alive, we shall have a pleasant
time!"

"One fine fellow," went on the commodore, "I know is. His name is Piron.
I had a note from him as soon as the frigate anchored yesterday, and I
shall ask him to dine sociably with me on board this evening. I hope you
will join us."

The grave gentleman said that he had business which would detain him on
shore all night.

The barge swept up to the mole, the oars were thrown up at a wave of the
coxswain's hand, and came into the boat on either side like shutting up
a pair of fans, while the boat-hooks checked her way, and she remained
stationary at the steps of the landing. The awning was canted, the
commodore and his friend got out and mounted the stairway, while the
boat's crew stood up with their hats off. On the mole were four or five
people in light West India rig of brown and white, and broad Guayaquil
sombreros.

"Cleveland!" exclaimed a tall, handsome man, as he seized the
commodore by both hands, "how glad we are to see you! Here is Tom
Stewart, and Paddy Burns, and little Don Stingo, attorneys, factors, and
sugar-boilers, all of us delighted to welcome you back once more to
Jamaica!"

Crowding about the commodore, shaking hands and slapping one another on
the back, standing off a step or two to see the effect of time on each
other's appearance, laughing heartily with many a happy allusion to days
gone by, those old friends and former companions, unmindful of the hot
sun, stood there with their faces lighted up and talking all together.

"And you are a commodore, eh! Cleveland, with a broad pennant and a
squadron? Ah! we have kept the run of you, though. Read all about that
action you were in with the 'President,' and that bloody battle in the
'Essex' and 'Phebe' at Valparaiso, with Porter. And here you are again,
safe and sound, and hearty!"

"And you too, Piron! The same as ever! Not tired of cane-planting yet?
But how is madame?"

"Lovely a girl as ever, Cleveland, but never entirely got over that sad
loss of the little boy, you know. However, she will be overjoyed to see
you. She's been talking of you ever since we saw your appointment to the
station fifteen months ago. Apropos, we have her widowed sister with us,
whose husband was killed at Waterloo, and our little niece who came from
France--all out there at the old place of Escondido, where you must come
and pass a week with us. Nay, man, no excuse! The thing is arranged, and
it would be the death of Stingo, Tom Stewart, and Paddy Burns if you
disappoint us."

"Well, Piron, I am your man, but not for a day or two, until I have made
some official calls here on the authorities. Meanwhile, gentlemen, you
all dine with me this evening on board the frigate, every mother's soul
of you! Coxswain, go on board and tell my steward to have dinner for
six. Stop at the schooner as you go off, and say to Mr. Darcantel that I
shall expect him to join us. Now, my friends, that matter is arranged,
and we will all go off in the barge at sunset."

"Dry talking, isn't it, Stingo?" said Piron; "so, commodore, come, and
we'll have a sip of sangaree and a deviled biscuit to keep our mouths in
order. But, halloo! where is your friend, Cleveland? that tall man in
black? Parson or chaplain, eh?"

"No," replied the officer; "an old friend of mine, my brother-in-law,
who takes a cruise with me occasionally; but he never goes in society,
and has taken himself off, as he always does when we get in port. He is
a glorious fellow, though, and I hope to present him to you yet. Never
mind him now."

Arm in arm went the blue coat and bullion, locked in white grass
sleeves, along the busy quays, crowded with mule-carts and drays for
stores or shipping. Spanish dons, dapper Frenchmen, burly John Bulls,
standing at warehouse and posadas, all with cigars in their teeth, which
they puffed so lazily that the smoke scarcely found its way beyond the
brims of their wide sombreros. Negroes, too, with scanty leg gear, and
still scantier gingham shirts, having bales, or boxes, or baskets of
fruit on their heads, never any thing in their hands, chattering and
laughing one with another as they danced and jostled along the busy
mart; then through the hot, sandy ruts of streets, pausing now and then
to shake hands with some old acquaintance beneath the overhanging
piazzas; sedan-chairs moving about, with a negro in a glazed hat and red
cockade at either end of the poles, in a long easy trot, as they bore
their burdens of Spanish matron, or English damsel, or maybe a portly
old judge, or gouty admiral, on a shopping or business excursion to the
port; so on to the upper town, where the dwellings stand in detachments
by themselves--single or in pairs--with spacious balconies and bright
green Venetian blinds, all surrounded by gardens and vines; with noble
tamarind-trees, and cocoa-nuts swaying their lofty trunks, and rattling
their branches and leaves over the negro huts and offices below. Here
the party stopped, and, entering a house, were ushered into a cool,
lofty room, where there were a lot of mahogany desks, and a single old
clerk, who resembled a last year's dried lemon, with some few drops of
acid juice for blood, perched up on a hard stem of a high stool, with
four or five quill pens, like so many thorns, sticking out above his
yellow leafy ears.

"All by myself here, Cleveland, as I told you. All my people are living
out there at Escondido. Very little business doing just now, and Paddy
Burns and Tom Stewart haven't had a suit or a fight for the last six
months. Inkstands dry, and my old clerk, Clinker, there, has forgotten
how to write English.

"However," went on Piron, as the party threw themselves back on the
wicker arm-chairs, and enjoyed the breeze which fluttered merrily
through the blinds, "the cellar isn't quite dry yet; and I say, Clinker,
suppose you tell Nimble Jack, or Ring Finger Bill, to spread a little
luncheon here, with a bottle or two of Bordeaux, or something of that
sort!" The dried, fruity old gentleman dropped off his branch at the
desk like a withered nut, and then, with a husky kind of shuffle, betook
himself off.

[Illustration: "QUEER OLD STICK, THAT!" SAID THE COMMODORE.]

 "Queer old stick, that!" said the commodore, as he unbuckled his
sword and laid it on the table.

"Ah! he grew here, and will blow away one of these days. My father used
to tell me that he looked just the same when he first sprouted as he
does now. But he is a dear faithful old stump; and you must remember
hearing, Cleveland, of that frightful earthquake here in seventeen
hundred and eighty-three, which killed so many people? Yes? Well, it was
old Clinker who saved my sweet wife that is now--and her sister; though
he was nearly squeezed--drier, if any thing, than he is now--in doing
it. He lay, you know, Stingo, supporting the whole second story of the
house for seven hours, pressed as flat as a tamarind-leaf, while they
were getting those twin babies out of their cradle. Yes, God bless him!"
Starting up, while a flush of feeling darkened his face--"but, what is
more, he threw himself precisely where he did, as he saw the walls
giving way, so that not a hair of those children should be injured when
the beams came down. My father has told me since, that when they got a
lever under the timber and wedged old Clinker out, he gave a kind of
cackle; but, in my opinion, he has not drawn a breath from that day to
this. And, generally, he is a very taciturn old root, and rarely opens
his rind; but latterly he talks a good deal about the earthquake; says
he's sure there'll be another awful one before an interval of forty
years has passed, and wants us to go away. No objection, however, to
coming back when the thing is over, and then waiting forty years for
another. Don't laugh, you Paddy Burns, for if ever the '_Tremblor_'
gives you one little shake, you'll jump higher than you did when that
ugly Frenchman ran you through your waistcoat pocket, and you thought it
was your midriff. Now, Tom Stewart and Don Stingo, what are you grinning
about? Your teeth will chatter so fast at the next quake that you won't,
either of you, be able to deliver a charge to the jury over a false
invoice, or suck another drop of old Antigua rum."

"But really, Piron," broke in the commodore upon this voluble harangue,
"do you give heed to these barkings of that old clerk?"

"Why, yes, Cleveland," replied Piron, with rather a grave manner, "I do;
and, moreover, my sweet wife Rosalie out yonder, who has never got over
her grief for the loss of our boy, regards every word old Clinker says
as so much prophecy; and the upshot of the business is, I have made up
my mind to leave the island."

"For where, my friend--back to France?"

"No. Since the war and the peace, with Bonaparte at St. Helena, France
is no place for an Englishman, even with a French father, and I am going
to try America."

"Truly, Piron, I am charmed to hear it. But what part of America?"

"Why, I've bought a fine sugar estate at a bargain in Louisiana, and
there we shall pass the remainder of our days."

"He! he!" sniggled Tom Stewart, while Don Stingo and Paddy Burns
cackled incredulously; but, at the same moment, Ring Finger Bill and
Nimble Jack, two jet-black persons, in loose striped gingham shirts
and bare feet, with an attempt at a grave expression of thick-lipped
coffee-coolers, the whites of their eyes turned up with becoming
decorum, and preceded by the old twig of a clerk, who seemed to
crackle in the sea-breeze as he again hung himself, stern on, to his
stool of a trunk, entered the cool counting-house, bearing trays,
fruits, and bottles, which they methodically arranged on the large
table.

"Massa! him want small, red, plump snapper, make mizzible brile?" said
Nimble Jack. "S'pose Massa Ossifa him pick shell of land-crab, wid crisp
pepper for salad?"

"No, no! Put those cool water-monkeys on the table and be gone! Come,
Clinker, take a bite with us!"

Leaving this pleasant party to sip their claret and water, and nibble
their midday food, while they rambled back to the past or schemed into
the future, we will return to the frigate.



CHAPTER XXXI.

THE COMMANDER OF THE "ROSALIE."

    "The handsomest fellow, Heaven bless him!
    Setting the girls all wild to possess him,
    With his dark mustache and his hazel eyes,
    And cigars in those pretty lips--"

    "That girl who fain would choose a mate,
      Should ne'er in fondness fail her,
    May thank her lucky stars if Fate
      Should splice her to a sailor."


"The 'Rosalie's' gig coming alongside, sir," reported the quarter-master
to the officer of the watch.

"Very well. A boatswain's mate and two side-boys. Mr. Rat, have the
barge manned, and send her on shore for the commodore. Mr. Martin, tell
the boatswain to call all hands to furl awnings."

While these orders were being executed, the whistles ringing through the
ship, the sailors lining the white hammocks, stowed in a double line,
fore and aft, around the nettings of the frigate, in readiness to cast
off the stops and lacings and let fall the awnings, the officer on deck
stood near the gangway. At the same time there tripped up the
accommodation-ladder, lightly touching the snowy man-ropes, a young
fellow of about one-and-twenty, dressed in undress frock-coat, one
epaulet, smooth white trowsers, and shoes. Catching up his sword in his
left hand as he reached the upper grating of the ladder, he took off his
blue, gold-banded cap, and half bounded, with a springy step, on to the
frigate's deck.

Observe him well, young ladies, as he stands there; for of all the
scarlet or blue jackets on whose arm you have leaned and looked up at
with your soft violet, blue, or dark eyes, you never saw a young fellow
that you would sooner give those eyes, or those warm hearts too,
throbbing under your bodices, or who would drive you wilder to possess
him, than that gallant young sailor standing on the "Monongahela's"
deck. Ay, observe him well, that tall, graceful youth, with a waist you
might span with one of your short plump arms; those slim patrician feet,
that might wear your own little satin slippers; then that swelling chest
and those elegantly turned shoulders, which will take both of your arms,
one of these days, to entwine and clasp around them! Ah! but the round
throat and chin, the smiling mouth, half hiding a double row of even
teeth, with the merest moonshine of a mustache darkening the short upper
lip, and then those large, fearless hazel eyes, sparkling with health
and fun, shaded by a mass of chestnut curls, which cluster about his
clear open forehead! Ay, there he stands, "a king and a kingdom" for the
girl who wins him!

"Well, Harry, give us your fist, my boy! How do you get on aboard your
prize? Not so roomy as the old frigate, eh? And a little more work than
when you were playing flag-lieutenant, eh? Well, glad to see you, but
can't stop to talk. So jump down below there in the wardroom; the mess
are just through dinner, and yours won't be ready for an hour yet. Come,
bear a hand, or I'll let these awnings fall on your new gold epaulet."

The new-comer tripped as lightly down the ladder to the gun-deck
as Mr. Mouse, and making another dive down to the berth-deck,
exchanging a rapid volley of pleasantry with the midshipmen in
the steerage, he opened the wardroom door and entered. There, in
a large open space, transversely dividing the stern of the ship,
with rows of latticed-doored staterooms on either side, lighted by
open skylights from above, with a barrel of a wind-sail coming
down between the sashes, and every thing, from beams to bulkheads,
painted a glistening white, and the deck so clean that you might
have rubbed your handkerchief on it without leaving a stain on
the cambric, around a large extension mahogany table stretching
from side to side, the cloth removed, decanters and wine-glasses
here and there, and water-monkeys in flannel jackets hanging like
criminals from a gallows from the beams above, sat the wardroom
mess of the frigate.

"By all that's handsome, here's Darcantel! Why, Harry, we are delighted
to see you!" exclaimed half a dozen voices; "come, sit down here and
take a glass of wine with us!"

As the handsome young fellow entered the wardroom, all faces lighted up
as they saw him. The old sailing-master, who seldom indulged in more
than a scowl since he lost his right ear by the stroke of a cutlass in
capturing the tender to the "Plantagenet" seventy-four off the Hills of
Navesink; the rigid old major of marines, who pipe-clayed his very
knuckles, and wore a stiff sheet-iron padding to his stock to encourage
discipline in the guard; the dear, kind old surgeon, who swallowed
calomel pills by the pint, out of pure principle, and who lopped off
limbs and felt yellow fever pulses all through the still watches of the
hot nights with never a sign or look of encouragement; and the staid old
chaplain, who had often assisted the surgeon and helped to fill
cartridges, contributing his own cotton hose for the purpose when those
government stores gave out in battle, and who never smiled, even when
committing a marine to the briny deep; the purser, too, prim and
business-like, looking as if he were a complicated key with an iron
lock of his own strong chest, calculating perpetually the amount of
dollars deposited in his charge, the total of pay to be deducted
therefrom, and never making a mistake save when he overcharged the dead
men for chewing tobacco; and the gay, young, roistering lieutenants, who
never did any thing else but laugh, unmindful of navigation, pipe-clay,
pills, parsons, or pursers, though standing somewhat in awe of the
sharpish, exacting executive officer at the head of the table--all
welcomed, each in his peculiar way, the bright, graceful young blade who
dawned upon them. And not only the mess were cheered by his presence,
but also a troop of clean-dressed sable attendants, whose wide jaws
stretched wider, while the whites of their eyes seemed painfully like
splashes of whitewash on the outside of the galley coppers, as they
nudged one another and yaw-yaw'd quietly away aft there in the region of
the pantry.

"Here, my salt-water pet, come and sit down by me, where all those old
fellows can see you! Steward, a wine-glass for Mr. Darcantel! What? you
won't take a sip of Tinta, and you can only stop a minute because you
are to dine with your uncle the commodore, eh? Well, I'll drink your
uncle's health even if you don't!" said the first lieutenant, as he
familiarly laid his hand on the young fellow's shoulder and drained his
glass.

"Why, Harry, what the deuce did you come down here for?" squeaked out
the purser, as he unscrewed his lips into a pleasant smile. "You've put
an end to that interesting account the master was giving us of how he
lay inside Sandy Hook for six months with a glass to his--"

"Mouth," broke in the surgeon.

    "It was Sam Jones the fisherman,
      Who was bound to Sandy Hook;
    But first upon the Almanac
      A solemn oath he took--
    That he would catch a load of clams!"

"Silence there, you roarer!" said the surgeon, as he popped a filbert
into the wide mouth of the rollicking fourth lieutenant, which cut his
song short off. "Yes, Harry, that's what you have done in coming here
for a minute. But stay a week with us, and the master will tell it you
again. We've heard it once or twice before."

The old grizzled sea veteran scratched the remains of his ear, and
growled jocosely while nodding to young Darcantel.

"Ah! my dear boy, and I'll tell you how the surgeon and nipcheese there
were entertained by a one-eyed old Spaniard at St. Jago."

"Let's hear it!" roared every body except the medico and purser. "Out
with it, master!"

"Well, messmates, when we were in the old 'Scourge,' a long time ago,
one day we anchored in St. Jago de Cuba."

Here the surgeon and purser smiled horribly, and implored the grizzled
old navigator not to go on; every body had heard that old story; he
might fall ill with the _vomito pietro_, and would require pills; or
else there might be found a mistake in his pay account, and he would
like, perhaps, to draw for the imaginary balance not due to him, and to
drink his grog and scratch the remains of his old ear, or turn his
attention to the load of clams waiting for him at Sandy Hook! But, for
mercy's sake, don't repeat that silly, long-forgotten yarn!

"Well, messmates, in less than an hour after we had anchored in St. Jago
they went on shore, and made the acquaintance of a little thin, sharp
old villain, with one eye, who invited them to make him a visit, and
pass the evening on a fine estate he owned near the base of the Copper
Hills, some distance--about four leagues, I believe--from the town. He
was a most respectable person, very rich, and commanded a Cuban guarda
costa to boot. The _capitano_, Don Ignaçio Sanchez--wasn't that his
name, doctor? Oh! you forget--all right! Off they started with a guide,
on hired mules; but when they pulled up at their destination they found
the Don wasn't there, though they were handsomely entertained by the
señora--a comely, fat, and waspish body, with very few clothes on--who
cursed her Don for sending people to see her, and the visitors too for
coming. However, as her guests had not dined, she fed them bountifully
on a supper of the nastiest jerked beef and garlic they had ever
smelled. You told me so, purser."

Both Pills and Purser had forgotten all about it, and thought it would
be better to talk of something else; that there was plenty of good wine
to drink in place of drying his lips on such dusty old rubbish.

"Well, messmates, after the supper the old lady demanded a little game
of monté, and she insisted, too, on making herself banker, though she
had no money on the table to pay with in case she lost--which she had no
intention of doing. So she won every ounce, dollar, real, and centavo
they had in their pockets! The doctor and purser told me they saw her
cheat boldly; but yet she not only bagged all the money, but she won
their mules into the bargain!"

Here those individuals confessed roundly--standing on the defensive--that
the fat old señora had a false pack of cards always ready in her ample
bosom, and had cheated them in the barest manner conceivable; but yet
they had no appeal, and were inclined, out of gallantry for the sex, to
behave like gentlemen, though she did drink aguardiente.

"Well, messmates, toward midnight that hospitable wife of the Don began
to abuse our friends for not bringing more cash with them when they
visited ladies, and then fairly kicked them out of the house! Yes, you
both told me so when I lent you the money to pay the boatmen, after
being obliged to tramp all the way back to the port on foot, nearly
missing their billets in the old 'Scourge.'"

"Go on, master! Tell us all about it; don't stop!"

"Well, messmates, I was on deck while beating out of the channel, and
just abreast the Star Castle I saw a boat with two gentlemen in the
stern, stripped to a girt-line, and howling at rather than hailing the
ship. Bear in mind, doctor, the men refused to take either of you unless
you gave them your coats and trowsers before shoving off. And don't you
remember, Hardy, how they yelled at us, and we thought they were
deserters from that English gun-boat in St. Jago? And how the captain
arrested the pair of them when they got on board for going out of signal
distance? This is the first time _I_ ever told this yarn," concluded the
old navigator, tugging away at the lobe of his lost ear.

The young lieutenants shouted, and the old major of marines, forgetful
of his iron-stuffed stock, laughed till he nearly sawed his chin off,
rubbing his chalky knuckles into his eyes the while.

    "But first upon the Almanac
      A solemn oath he took--
    That he would catch a load of clams--"

"The barge is coming off, Mr. Hardy, with the pennant flying, sir!"
reported a reefer, in the midst of the conversation, to the first
lieutenant, as he shoved his bright face through the wardroom door.

"Very good, Mr. Beaver; but hark ye, sir! the next time you go ashore in
the market-boat, look sharp that the men don't suck the monkey. Three of
them came off drunk this morning. And inform Mr. Rat and Mr. Mouse that
if I see their heels on the cutter's cushions again, I'll take a better
look at them from the main-top-mast cross-trees. You understand, sir?
Steward, a glass of wine for Mr. Beaver!" Saying this, the executive
officer, with Harry Darcantel, arose and went on deck to receive the
commodore.



CHAPTER XXXII.

A SPLICE PARTED.

    "Oh! for thy voice, that happy voice,
      To breathe its loving welcome now!
    Fame, wealth, and all that bids rejoice,
      To me are vain! For where art thou?"

    "What is glory--what is fame?
    That a shadow--this a name,
      Restless mortal to deceive.
    Are they renown'd--can they be great,
    Who hurl their fellow-creature's fate,
      That mothers, children, wives may grieve?"


The drum rolled, the marines presented arms, the boatswain piped, the
side-boys and officers took off their caps; and as the colors dropped
with the last ray of sunset from the peak, and the broad blue
day-pennant came fluttering down from the lofty main truck, Commodore
Cleveland and his friends stood on the splendid deck of the flag-ship
"Monongahela."

It must have been with conscious pride that the brave and loyal
commander gazed around him on the noble frigate and her gallant crew.
The white decks, the tiers of cannon polished like varnished leather,
with the breechings and tackles laid fair and even over and around them;
the bright belaying-pins, holding their never-ending coils of running
gear--the burnished brass capstan--the great boom--board to the boats
amidships with a gleaming star of cutlasses, reflecting a glitter on the
ring of long pikes stuck around the main-mast near, all inclosed by the
high and solid bulwarks; while towering above, like mighty leafless
columns of forest pines, stood the lofty masts, running up almost out of
sight to the trucks in the fading light, supported by stays and shrouds,
singly and in pairs, and braided mazes--black, and straight, and
taut--never a thread loose on rigging or ratlin--and spreading out as
they came down in a heavy hempen net, till they disappeared over the
rail, and were clenched and spliced, or seized and clamped to the bolts
and dead-eyes of the chain-plates outside. Holding up too, in
mid-heaven, on those giant trunks--like a child its toys--the great
square yards of timber branches, laying without a quiver, in their black
lifts and trusses, with their white leaves of sails crumpled and packed
in smooth bunts in the middle, and running away to nothing on either
hand at the tapering yard-arms.

Grand and imposing is the sight. And well may you wonder, ye land
lubbers, why all that mass of timber, sails, and cordage, with its
enormous weight, does not crush with the giant heels of the masts
through the bottom of the ship like unto an egg-shell, and tear the
stanch live-oak frame to splinters!

The commander of the frigate saw all this, and he beheld at the same
time the clusters of happy sailors, sauntering with light step and
pleasant faces up and down the waist and gangways; and he heard, too,
the scraping of a fiddle on the forecastle, the shuffling, dancing feet,
and the least notion of a jovial sea-song coming up from the gun-deck.
Yes, it must have been a glorious pride with which that gallant officer
gazed around him from the quarter-deck of the magnificent frigate.

Did he say to himself, "I am monarch of this floating kingdom; my will
is law; I say but the word, and those sails are spread and the ship
moves to wherever I command. My subjects, too, who watch my slightest
look and whisper, with that flag above, will pour broadside upon
broadside--ay, they have!--from those terrible guns upon whoever dares
to cross my track. Yes. They will fight for me so long as there is a
plank left in this huge ship to stand upon, and while there is a
rope-yarn left to hold the ensign--ay! even until my pennant, nailed to
the truck, sinks beneath the bloodstained waves?" Did the commander
think of all this? Perhaps he did.

And yet, in all the pride of rank and power, bravely won and maintained
in many a scene of strife and deadly conflict, with visions of honest
patriotism and ambition for the future, did his thoughts go back long
years ago into the shadowy past, and was his spirit in the silent
church-yard, where the magnolia was drooping over a grass-green grave?
The sweet mother and her baby boy--the girl who had so fondly loved him,
and the child who played about his knees--oh that they could have lived
to share the wreaths of victory which were hung around his brow; that
they could have lived to see the sword his country gave him, to twine
but for one little moment their loving arms around his neck! No, the
magnolia waves its white flowers over mother and boy, and they sleep on
in their heavenly and eternal rest.

Did Commodore Cleveland, as a saddened flash of thought swept over his
handsome face, while he stood on his quarter-deck, dwell on those
scenes? Yes, we know he did. By day and night, in war and peace, in gale
or calm, on deck or at banquet, in dream and action, the girl and mother
he so dearly loved was close clasped to his heart, and the child still
playing at his knee.

"Gentlemen, let me make you acquainted with the first lieutenant, Mr.
Hardy; and permit me also to present my nephew, Mr. Darcantel, captain,
if you please, my friends, of the one-gun schooner 'Rosalie,' formerly
the slaver 'Perdita,' cut out of a river on the Gold Coast by the young
gentleman who stands before you."

"Rosalie! why that's the name of my niece," exclaimed Piron; "and she is
prettier and whiter than your trim little craft, sir. But you must come
with the commodore to Escondido, and judge for yourself. But, bless my
soul! _you_ resemble our Rosalie, even if your schooner don't. Why, look
at him, Paddy Burns!"

Don Stingo, and Tom Stewart, and the Paddy did look at him, and all
shook hands with him, laughing the while at Piron, and asking when old
Clinker looked for another earthquake.

"Come, Piron, come, gentlemen, don't let us keep the soup waiting! By
the way, Mr. Hardy, will you do me the favor to take a glass of wine
with us after gun-fire?"

"Thank you."

"Suppose you bring little Mouse with you; I like children; and perhaps
you will excuse the younker from keeping his watch to-night? A little
extra sleep in hammock won't hurt him, you know."

And so Commodore Cleveland raised his hat, followed by the eyes of
respect and devotion from officer and sailor, as he passed down the
ladder and entered his spacious cabin.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

THE BLUE PENNANT IN THE CABIN.

    "To Bachelors' hall we good fellows invite
    To partake of the chase that makes up our delight."

    "Ask smiling honor to proclaim
    What is glory, what is fame?
    Hark! the glad mandate strikes the list'ning ear!
    'The truest glory to the bosom dear,
    Is when the soul starts soft compassion's tear.'"


"Now, gentlemen, let me get off this heavy coat and epaulets. There! all
right, Domino! put the sword in its case, and give me a white jacket.
Choose your own places, my friends. Piron, sit here on my right; Henri,
take the foot of the table."

These last words were said in French; whereupon Piron started and
whispered to the commodore, "By George, Cleveland, is that youth's name
Henry, and does he speak French?"

"Hush, Piron, he may hear you. His mother was French, and he speaks the
language like a native. She died when he was a baby, and he doesn't like
to allude to it. Come, steward, we are all ready. Serve the gumbo!"

The cabin of the frigate was divided by a light lattice-work bulkhead in
two parts, running from quarter to quarter of the vessel. The after part
had a large sleeping stateroom on either side, resting on the quarter
galleries, and opening on to another gallery which hung over the stern
of the frigate. Inside, in the open space, was a round table, cushioned
lounges, a few chairs, with a bronze lamp pendent from a beam above,
while taking the curve of the stern over the after windows was a range
of bookcases, half hidden by the gilt cornice and curtains of the
windows. The entire fittings and furniture of cabin and staterooms,
including the neat Brussels carpet on the deck, were elegant and useful,
though by no means luxurious. The forward cabin, where no carpet graced
the floor, was much more spacious. It took in the two after ports of the
gun-deck; and the carriages and cannon within the sills of the ports
were painted a marble white, as were the ropes, in covered canvas, that
held them. In a recess forward was a large mahogany sideboard, or
buffet, the top fitted with a framework for glasses and decanters, which
were reflected from a large mirror let into the bulkhead. In the middle
of this space was the dining-table, lighted by a pair of globe lamps
hanging from above, while neat racks for bottles and water-jugs, moving
on sliding brass rods, were also suspended from the paneled beams and
carlines of the upper deck ceiling. On the right--the starboard
side--was a door leading into a roomy pantry, where the steward and
Domino, and the servants of the commodore, bestirred themselves at
dinner-time.

"So, my friends," exclaimed the commodore, "you wish to hear what became
of me after I last parted with you?"

"By all means, Cleveland! we are all dying to hear, and--" Here Piron's
appeal was interrupted by the heavy report of a bow gun, which gave a
slight, though almost imperceptible jar to the frigate.

"Smithereens! Stingo! what noise is that?" exclaimed Burns.

"Only the nine o'clock gun, sir," replied Darcantel.

"Hech, mon!" said Stewart, "ye needna upset ma glass of auld Madeira in
yer mickle fright, for I've seen the time when ye ha' laughed at the
music in the report of a peestol and the ping of a bullet! But your
nervous seestem seems to be unstrung ever since the sma' French dancing
count untied the string o' your waistcoat with his rapeer."

"You don't think, Paddy, the commodore here is going to bang a forty-two
pound shot into our stomachs after all the good prog he's filled them
with?" added Stingo, _sotto voce_, while the rotund Milesian threw his
head back and twinkled careless defiance at them all.

Just then the orderly swung the port-cabin door open, and standing up as
rigid as a pump-bolt, with a finger to the visor of his stovepipe hat,
in cross-belts and bayonet, he announced "Lieutenant Hardy and
Midshipman Mouse!"

"Ah! Hardy, glad to see you!" rising as he spoke; "squeeze in there
between Stewart and Burns, or Darcantel! Here, gentlemen, let me exhibit
to you Mr. Tiny Mouse! Don't move, Piron; I'll make a place for him near
me."

Saying this, the commodore took the lad affectionately by the hand, and
as he sat him down on a chair at his elbow, and while the conversation
went on with his guests, he said, in a kindly tone,

"Tiny, my dear, the first lieutenant tells me you are a good boy and
attend to your duty. I hope you pay attention to your studies also, and
write often to your dear mother. Ah! you do? That is right; for you know
you are her only hope since your brave father was killed. There, sir,
you may swig a little claret, but don't touch those cigars."

"Come, Cleveland! Cleveland! you are forgetting your adventures, my
boy!"

"Well, my friends, you shall hear them."



CHAPTER XXXIV.

THE DEVIL TO PAY.

    "And how then was the devil dressed?
    Oh! he was dressed in his Sunday's best;
    His jacket was red and his breeches were blue,
    And there was a hole where the tail came through."

    "Hairy-faced Dick understands his trade,
    He stands by the breech of a short carronade,
    The linstock glows in his bony hand,
    Waiting that grim old skipper's command!"


"The last dinner I had in Jamaica, and a very jolly one it was, as you
all know, was out at Escondido, where we kept it up so late that I only
got on board the 'Scourge' at daylight, in time to get her under way
with the land wind. Well, we were bound to windward, and for a week
afterward we rolled about in a calm off Morant Bay, maybe twenty leagues
off the island, and one morning we discovered a sail. She was a large
merchant brig, heading any way, and bobbing about, as we were, in the
calm. Toward noon, however, a light air sprang up, and we got within
hail, and I went on board to say a word or two to the skipper, for we
had news before leaving Kingston that that infamous pirate Brand, in his
long-legged schooner 'Centipede,' had been seen off Guadaloupe; and, in
fact, we had actually chased him off Matanzas three months before; so I
was ordered to give the brig a warning, particularly as she had reported
a suspicious craft in sight that same morning at sunrise. When I got on
board of her I saw--"

Here Piron placed both hands to his face as he leaned his elbows on the
table, and the commodore, checking himself, hurried on:

"Ah! well, we kept the brig in sight all day, and ran round her once or
twice in the evening, but toward midnight the trade wind freshened, and,
as the coast seemed clear, and we were anxious to make up for lost time
in the calm, we gradually came up to our course, and went bowling away
to windward.

"I remember going below at the time, and just as I was about to turn in,
I heard a quarter-master sing out to Hardy there, who was junior
lieutenant of the ship, and who had the middle watch, that he saw a
light going up to the brig's gaff. In five seconds I was on the poop,
where I met the captain.

"This is his only son, gentlemen, and a braver or more skillful seaman
never trod a ship's deck," said the commodore, as he passed his hand
affectionately over the boy's head, who was sitting beside him.

But he forgot, perhaps, to say that he, Cleveland, had stood by the
father when he was struck dead by a cannon-shot, and that afterward he
had the boy appointed a reefer, and, out of his own means, helped the
widow to eke out her pittance of a pension. Yes, Cleveland forgot all
that as he smoothed the youngster's soft hair, while, with the men
around him, he drained his glass in silence to the memory of his
departed friend and chief. Then resuming, he went on:

"In less than no time after the light was seen--for you must know,
gentlemen, that it was an understood signal between us--the 'Scourge'
was flying off with a stiff breeze abaft the beam, the crew at quarters,
and the boats ready to be lowered from the davits. When we ranged up
alongside the brig, and even before, we felt certain that our misgivings
would prove true, and so they did; and merely slamming a shot over her,
and dropping a couple of armed boats into the water, we luffed round her
bows, and there we saw that cursed schooner--venomous snake as she
was--just hoisting her sails, and creeping away to windward.

"We let her have two or three divisions of grape, and followed the dose
up with round shot. I am sure we hit her, and that pretty hard, for we
knocked away her fore-top-mast, and we saw the splinters fly in showers
from her hull. However, she was well handled, and lying nearer the wind
than the 'Scourge,' when day dawned she was clear out of range, and
leaving us every minute. So we up helm and ran down again to the brig,
to see what mischief had been done and to pick up our boats.

"Ah! yes, you all know what had taken place, so I won't go over the
details; but the same afternoon, after seeing the brig pointed straight
for Port Royal, and while we were once more on our course, we fell in
with a water-logged boat, in which were half a dozen dead and dying men.
One, a mongrel Indian from Yucatan, who was frightfully torn by two or
three grape-shot, before he died on board--as did all the others--gave
us, in his confused dialect, some account of the pirate he had served
under, and the haunt he frequented. As near as we could learn, the haunt
was situated somewhere on the south side of Cuba, on a rocky island
having a safe and secure inlet; but as he did not know the latitude or
longitude, we were left somewhat in the dark. The last words, however,
the mangled wretch uttered, as the gasping breath was leaving his body,
were, that the spot could be distinguished by a tall cocoa-nut-tree
which grew from a craggy eminence in the middle of the island. We buried
them all, pirates as they were, decently, and then we clapped on all
sail on our course.

"Steward, another bottle of the old Southside that Mr. March sent me
from Madeira! Here, Domino, take Mr. Mouse up gently, and lay him down
on my cot in the after cabin. Dear little fellow, he is sound asleep;
and mind you draw the curtains around him, lest he take cold from the
draught of the stern windows!"

Rather a striking contrast this to the way Captain Brand, the pirate,
treated the little Henri in the den there in the Doçe Léguas.

"Well, gentlemen, for some weeks after these occurrences we sailed about
the islands, touching here and there, until at last we arrived at the
Havana, took in stores and water, and then continued the cruise. The
orders were to beat up the south side of Cuba, where we expected to fall
in with the Musquito fleet and some English vessels, especially detailed
to destroy two or three nests of pirates who had for some years swarmed
in those seas and infested that coast. In the course of time we beat all
around the south side of Cuba, and at last dropped anchor in St. Jago,
where we learned from the English consular agent that five or six
fellows, who had been wrecked on the Carvalo reef, were identified as
having been part of a piratical crew who had plundered an English vessel
with a free passport bound to Havana, and had been sent there in irons
for trial.

"The truth was, that the Spanish colonial authorities had so long
connived, winked at, or been indifferent to what was going on during the
wars of the Continent, that they allowed these piratical hordes to exist
and thrive at their very doors. The matter had already been brought to
the notice of the administrador of the port, and all other ports as far
along the coast as Cienfuegos, and in such a threatening manner, too,
that the governor at St. Jago, fearful of having his town blown down,
exerted himself in the arrest of the rascals I have alluded to, and
likewise in procuring information by dispatching guarda costas along the
south side of the island.

"Accordingly, the very morning we anchored I went ashore with the
captain of the custom-house, where we met the deputy administrador and a
little withered, one-eyed old rascal, who was in the colonial service,
and who professed to know the haunt, or at least he said he thought he
did, of that notorious villain Brand.

"I remember distinctly spreading a chart before him, and while he traced
with the end of his cigarette a course for the captain to steer by, I
stood near, watching him narrowly. But the fact was, that he had the
very sharpest spark of an eye set, or rather standing out, beside his
nose that any body ever saw in a human being's head; and instead of me
watching him, he seemed to be looking straight through me, and divining
my thoughts and suspicions. However, the spot he pointed out, and the
way he described it, with a cocoa-nut-tree on top of a rock, and the
passage through the reef, so nearly corresponded with the confused
account the Yucatanese gave us before he died, that the captain was
entirely convinced we were on the scent, though I myself was not more
than half satisfied. The place indicated was near the Isle of Pines,
three hundred miles off; but, to make the thing more plausible, that
one-eyed old scoundrel was detailed to run along the Doçe Léguas Cays,
see what information he could pick up there, and then follow down after
us.

"That night, or early the next morning, we were off again, and ran down
the coast, with a good offing to keep the wind, until we got to the
ground, and passed in by Cape St. Francis, and doubled round into the
Bight of Pines. There we fell in with a whole fleet of English and
American cruisers and schooner craft, who informed us that they had
searched every accessible spot where a man could walk dry-shod upon,
from Guayabos to the Isle of Mangles; that they had destroyed several
old and deserted piratical nests, and hung two or three ostensible
fishermen by way of wholesome warning to their allies the pirates; but
that was all; and from what they had learned, there did not seem to have
been an established retreat in that maze of cays and reefs for four or
five years.

"So you see we had our cruise for nothing, and then the captain agreed
with me that we had both been most egregiously deceived by the Spanish
commander of the guarda costa. Well, we hauled our wind once more,
standing well out to sea, and after a tedious beat of some days we again
edged in toward the coast, somewhere near the Boca Grande of the Twelve
League Cays on the westernmost side. It was in the morning when we made
the land, and, steering close in, we got a good slant off the shore, and
kept the glasses going from the topmost cross-trees down all through the
day. For my part, as Hardy may perhaps remember, I scarcely took the
glass from my eye for eight hours, and from the mizzen-top I feel quite
sure that there were not many objects, from the size of a blade of grass
to a mangrove bush, that I did not examine, from the coral reefs up to
the rocky heights, let alone the cocoa-nut-tree that we were in search
of.

"Toward afternoon, however, the weather came up hazy, the wind began to
fall off, and the barometer began to exhibit very queer spasms indeed,
rising with a sort of jerk at first, and then dropping down the tenth of
an inch at a clip, with the atmosphere becoming close and sultry, and
the men gasping about the decks as if we were about to choke at the next
breath. It was during the hurricane months, and the indications
certainly should have led us as far as our legs could carry us to open
water, instead of being caught embayed perhaps with half a thousand
reefs around us on what might prove a lee-shore; but, nevertheless, the
captain decided to hold on till sunset, and then make an offing. The
breeze still held in the upper sails, and so we slipped on in smooth
water till about five o'clock, when I heard a fellow sing out from the
main royal yard,

"'On deck there! I can see a tall cocoa-nut-tree on an island here on
the port bow!'

"Before the words were well out of his mouth I too caught the object,
and I knew at the first glance that it was the spot we were looking for.
At the same time the haze lighted up a bit, and we saw the ridge of
rocks and every thing as the haunt of that pirate Brand had been
described to us. So, my friends, we were all alive once more on board
the 'Scourge,' and the captain resolved to dash in upon the scoundrel's
nest before he could have time to leave it.

"The engine was rigged and water spirted over the sails from the trucks
down, to make the canvas hold the wind, and in an hour after we were
within two leagues of the island, and just as the sun fell below the
horizon we caught sight of the mast-heads of a large vessel sticking up
over some bluff rocks near the bold shore. Not five minutes later the
hull of the craft came slowly out from the gap, under all sail, and we
discovered her to be a long and rather lumbering-looking brigantine,
painted lead-color, and bearing no resemblance to the schooner we had
twice chased before. Simultaneously, however, with her coming out into
full view, as she rounded in her head-yards and got a pull of the
main-sheet, with the breeze abeam and heading to the eastward, we beheld
a great volume of white smoke spout up over the rock near the
cocoa-nut-tree, with a vivid sheet of flame at the base, and before the
vast column turned, like the crown of a palm-tree, in its descent, we
were greeted by a dull, heavy roar, the concussion of which fairly made
the 'Scourge' tremble. Then, as the white smoke partially broke away, an
avalanche of rocks and timbers was scattered far and near, and nothing
visible but a veil of dust and masses of heavy smoke. Nearly at the same
moment of this explosion wreaths of heavy black smoke arose from another
spot nearer to the gap, lit up in the fading, hazy twilight with forked
red fires, and soon after a great conflagration burst forth, swirling
flakes of burning cinders all over the island, and casting a lurid glare
upon the water around us."



CHAPTER XXXV.

AND THE PITCH HOT.

          "He is born for all weathers;
    Let the winds blow high or blow low,
      His duty keeps him to his tethers,
    And where the gale drives he must go.

    "The wind blew hard, the sea ran high,
    The dingy scud drove 'cross the sky,
    All was safe lashed, the bowl was slung,
    When careless thus Ned Halyard sung."


Said the commodore, with a knowing shake of his head, "Ah! gentlemen, if
the fellow, whoever he was, who was creeping away so nimbly in that
lazy-looking brigantine, with English colors at the peak, had written
down in detail what he had been doing on that secluded nook of an
island, and sent the information off to us in a letter, we could have
read it without breaking the seal. We could have told him that that
little scoundrel with one eye had purposely misled us, and had given him
warning to quit his strong-hold; and that he had hastily got his plunder
and people on board his vessel, blown up and set fire to his nest, and
that the brigantine he was now on board of was once upon a time the
notorious schooner 'Centipede!' Yes, we knew all that by instinct."

Piron sat with his eyes fixed upon the speaker, taking in every word as
it fell from his lips, the teeth set close together and the hand
clenched which supported his head on the table. Paddy Burns and Tom
Stewart, too, looked eagerly that way, as did Harry Darcantel, while
Hardy sipped his wine and puffed his cigar leisurely, as if he knew the
tale by heart.

"It had fallen nearly calm. A light air perhaps in the royals, though
nothing down below. But as we hauled down our colors at sunset, which
had been hoisted to let the fellow know who we were, down came his also.
Then there we both lay looking at each other. He knew by instinctive
experience that we were the American corvette 'Scourge,' mounting
eighteen twenty-four-pounder carronades and two long eighteens in the
bow ports; for the brigantine had once or twice determined their exact
calibres, and that we were the fastest cruiser, with the wind a point or
two free, that had been seen in the West Indies for twenty years.

[Illustration]

 "Yes, he knew all about us, but he was still a little in doubt
whether we knew all about _him_. He lay--unfortunately, perhaps, for
him--a little beyond the range of our long guns, or else he might have
been spared a good deal of time and uneasiness, and we a long chase and
considerable risk. Ah! as the night came, the very fires he had kindled
in his den on shore prevented his escape; for while the calm lasted the
bright flames shone upon him with the glare of hell! There we lay all
that night without moving a muscle or a mile until day dawned--and such
a day as did dawn!

"Meanwhile the barometer had fallen an inch and a half, until the master
began to believe the bulb leaked, and the mercury was dropping into the
case. Then, through the murky gloom of daylight, with the sea one flat
greasy surface, with never the splash of a fish to disturb it, while the
lowest whisper of the topmen aloft could be distinctly heard on deck, as
if we were hung in the vacuum of an exhausted receiver where a feather
would drop like a bullet, suddenly there came a sound from the direction
of the cays. Suppose, Burns, you saw a forty-two pound shot coming
toward you, and without you dodged quick, your head would be flying off
with it in the same direction?"

"Whist, mon!" said Stewart, with a groan, "dinna be calling up sic
peectures of the brain, Cleveland. Paddy, there, ne'er thinks of ony
meesals bigger than a peestol bullet."

"Well, my friends, we ran precisely a similar risk, though the
cloudy embrasures over the island had not quite enough thunder to
reach us. However, the brigantine knew what would follow as well as we
did--better, perhaps--and before you could swallow that glass of wine
she was stripped as bare as a bone, and down came her yards too, but
keeping the sticks up, and spreading a patch of a storm staysail
forward that you might apparently have put in your pocket. Her decks
and rigging were crowded with men while she was doing all this, but
the moment it was done, and well done too, they ran into their holes
below like so many rats, and we could only see a man or two left on
deck near the helm.

"All hands had been called on board the 'Scourge' at four o'clock, and,
with the exception of securing the battery, every thing was ready to
make a skeleton of the ship the moment we saw the brigantine begin; for
she was a wary fish, and we had no idea of letting her give us the slip
the third time. I had the trumpet, however, and with the captain at my
elbow, the instant he saw that the brigantine was once more rigged
nearly in her old way, he gave me the word, 'Now, Cleveland, work
sharp!'

"With a hundred and twenty men aloft, jumping about like cats, the light
sails, studding-sail booms, royal and top-gallant yards came down, the
top-gallant masts after them, and the flying jib-boom rigged in. Then
the top-sails close reefed and furled with extra gaskets, and so with
the courses; preventer braces clapped on, rolling tackles hooked, and
the spare purchases set up by the lower pennants. Meanwhile the
divisions on deck had got hawsers over the launch amidships, the chains
unbent, the anchors lashed down on the forecastle, and the quarter boats
triced well inboard and secured with the davits. At the same time the
light stuff from aloft was got below, the hammocks piped down, and the
carpenters slapped the gratings on the hatches, and stood ready with the
tarpaulins to batten them down. I never beheld a smarter piece of work
done afloat--not even, Hardy, in the 'Monongahela.'

"As I turned round an instant a hoarse, howling bellow struck my ear
from the island, and I just caught a glimpse of the tall cocoa-nut-tree
flying round and round in the air like an inverted umbrella with a
broken stick; while at the same time the men from aloft had reached the
deck, and, jumping to the battery, the guns were run in and housed,
spare breechings and extra lashings passed, and life-lines rove fore and
aft. After that, gentlemen, there was no farther need of a trumpet.

"You all know pretty well what sort of a thing a hurricane is, and the
one I speak of must, I think, have given you a touch of its quality here
in Jamaica."

"Ay, by the holy Moses! we remember it well, bad luck to it; and so does
Tom Stewart and Piron there, for it didn't lave a stick of sugar-cane
standing from Montego Bay to Cape Antonio."

"Yes," said Stewart; "and to show ye what a piff of wind can do, the
whirl of it caught up an eighteen-foot Honduras plank, and laid it
crosswise, like an axe, full seven inches into an old tamarind trunk
standing in my garden, and then twisted off the ends like a heather
broom! Hech, mon, ye may see it there now any day!"

Piron was thinking of the barks that were driving before that hurricane,
with no thought of the damage done to his own plantations.

"Well, then, I shall spare you all prolix description of it; and you
need only fancy a ship blown every where and every how except out of
water--now with the lower yard-arms cutting deep into the sea like
rakes, the lee hammock-nettings under water, the stern boat torn away
into splinters, the main-top-sail picked, bolt by bolt, from the yard
until there was not a thread left, and the lee anchor twisted bodily out
of its lashings and swept overboard!

"Then a lull, while the sea got up and the ship dashed down on the other
side on her bow; then staggering back and making a stern-board till the
water was plunged up in a deluge over the poop. Recovering herself
again, and almost quivering on her beam-ends, the guns groaning and
creaking as the terrible strain came upon the breechings, with the shot
from the racks bounding about the decks, dinting holes in the solid oak
waterways big enough to wash your face in, and then hopping out of the
smashed half-ports to leeward. The spar-deck up to your armpits in
water, and every man of us holding on to the life-lines or standing
rigging like grim death, while all the time the roaring, thundering yell
of the hurricane taught us how powerless we were, by hand or voice, to
cope with the winds when they were let loose in all their might and
fury!

"Nor need I relate to you the scene presented below--mess-chests, bags,
tables, crockery, flying from deck and beam to stanchion, smashing about
in the most dangerous way, pell-mell, while the worst of the tempest
lasted. But, gentlemen, the 'Scourge' had a frame of live-oak, to say
nothing of two or three acres of tough yellow-pine timber in her, a good
deal of fibrous hemp to hold the masts up; and, moreover, she was well
manned, and, though I say it myself, she had a skillful captain and
thorough-bred officers, in whose sagacity the crew could rely, to manage
that old 'Scourge.'"

"That she had," exclaimed Hardy; "and the most skillful and the coolest
of them all was the first lieutenant!" The "Monongahela's" executive
officer here bounced off his chair as if he was prepared to fight any
man breathing who did not subscribe to that opinion.

"Well, my friends, that awful hurricane continued for about twenty
hours, from late one morning till the beginning of the next. As for day,
there was none; for the sea and black clouds made one long night of it.
Fortunately, too, we had been driven off shore, and when the murky gloom
broke away, and we were able to look around, our first anxiety was to
see what had become of the brigantine.

"Yes, and I truly believe, in all that turmoil of the elements, while we
were on the brink of foundering and going down to old Davy's locker,
that there was not an officer or man, from the captain to the cook, who
was not thinking of that pirate, and hoping that he might go down first.
I myself, however, felt a sort of confidence, as I was held lashed on
the poop to the mizzen rigging, that the brigantine might be caught and
whirled about--so long as she was above water--by the same blows of the
hurricane that beat upon the 'Scourge;' and when the tornado broke, and
some one sang out 'Sail ho!' I knew by instinct it must be the
'Centipede.'"



CHAPTER XXXVI.

THE CHASE.

    "With sloping masts and dipping prow,
    As who pursued with yell and blow
    Still treads the shadow of his foe,
      And forward bends his head,
    The ship drove past, loud roared the blast,
      And southward aye we fled."

    "Clap on more sail, pursue, give fire--
    She is my prize, or ocean whelms them all."

    "So many slain--so many drowned!
      I like not of that fight to tell.
    Come, let the cheerful grog go round!
      Messmates, I've done. A spell, ho, spell!"


"It was all hands again, gentlemen. The hurricane had settled
down into a moderate gale from northeast, though it was some time
before the awfully confused sea got to roll regularly. Then we
judged ourselves--for reckoning and observation had been out of
the question--to be a long way south of Jamaica, and even to the
southward of the great Pedro Bank. We did not wait this time for
the pirate to lead us in getting ready for a race, but we got up
a bran-new suit of top-sails and courses out of the sail-room,
and, so soon as the men could go aloft with safety, they were
ordered not to unbend the few tattered rags still clinging to the
yards, but to cut away at once. Up went the top-sails and courses,
and they were soon brought to the yards and set close-reefed, with
a storm-jib to steady the ship forward. Presently we gave her the
whole fore-sail and main-sail, and I think that even then, for
some hours, but one half the corvette's upper works could have been
visible as she plunged through the angry heaving seas.

"It left us dry enough, however, to pay some heed to the brigantine
ahead of us. She was about four miles off, a little on our weather bow,
and as she rode up--splendid sea-boat that she was--like a gull on the
back of a mighty roller, we could see that her bulwarks--mere boards and
canvas, probably--had been washed away, the house between her masts gone
too, and, no doubt, her long gun, or whatever else had been lying hid
under it. And now she was once more the schooner 'Centipede,' long
and sharp, and without any rail to speak of, so that we could see her
deck from the stem to her taffrail at every lurch she made. The only
difference in her appearance was a short fore-mast with cross-trees, and
a top-mast for square sails. Almost as soon as our top-sail sheets were
hauled home, her own yards went up and the sail was spread, while with
the bonnet off her fore-sail, the whole jib and a close-reefed
main-sail, she went flying to the southward with the gale a point abaft
the beam.

[Illustration: THE STERN CHASE.]

"Thus we went on, the sea getting more regular every hour, so that we
could send up the top-gallant masts, get the yards across, shake a reef
or two out, and put the 'Scourge' in order. The schooner needed no
encouragement from us, but cracked on more sail until her long main-mast
reeled and bent over, as she came up on the breaking ridge of a wave,
like a whip-stalk. By noon the clouds had gone, and left us a clear sky,
with the gale going down into a full top-gallant breeze, sending the
corvette along good eleven knots. We got an observation for latitude,
and five hours later we determined the longitude and our position to be
a few leagues to leeward of the Sarrana Keys, with that bird of a
schooner before us heading for the Musquito coast.

"If _we_ had caught a cataract of water as it rolled over our bows in
the morning, the schooner was taking _her_ bath in the afternoon, for
occasionally, for five minutes at a time, there was nothing seen of her
deck, and only the masts and broad white canvas above, like jury-sticks
out of a raft. But when she did slide up with her low, long hull
shooting clean out of water, till nearly half her keel, with the copper
sheathing flashing in the sun, was visible, she looked like a dolphin
making a spring after a shoal of flying-fish. And then on her narrow
deck we could see a few fellows lashed about the fore-mast, and a couple
more abaft steering her like a thread through a needle.

"We began to gain upon her now, and whenever she kept a little away
before the wind the gap between us closed more rapidly; for the ship
could evidently outcarry the schooner, and, had the breeze freshened and
the sea kept up, we could have run her under if her masts didn't go out
of her, as we hoped and expected every minute they would. Gradually,
however, she watched her chance and hauled up till she brought the wind
barely abeam, and steered true for the Musketeers--a bad cluster of low
keys nearly surrounded by as terrible ledges and reefs as any to be
found in the Caribbean Sea.

"Her captain was evidently bent upon playing a desperate game, but, if
he thought he would not find another ready to lay down the same stake,
he was greatly mistaken! It was about sunset when we made the keys, and
there we went--the schooner leading us about a mile--at a rate which
would have made both vessels leap clear over the first ledge they
struck, and perhaps have thrown summersaults of us into the bargain. I
asked the captain, who had never left my side on the poop, if we should
keep on.

"'Yes, sir,' he replied, 'so long as we have a gun and a plank to float
it!'

"And, by Saint Paul! we kept on. And there was not a soul on board the
'Scourge,' from the drummer-boy up, who did not agree with the captain.
How those villains on board the pirate relished this decision we could
only surmise; but, at all risks, he held his course with a nerve that
might have made the devil himself shudder.

"By this time the sun was well down, and a brilliant moon was riding
high in the heavens; but, as bright as it was, the fellow who commanded
that schooner required an eye as keen as an albatross and a hand as
steady as an iron bar to guide his craft in the direction he was
going--too late for either of us to think of hauling off.

"He must, too, have had a thorough knowledge of the reefs and keys, and
trusted, perhaps, if he got clear himself, that the corvette, drawing
eighteen feet water and ignorant of the channel, might touch something
which would throw the game in his hands. Our men had the ropes stretched
along the decks and the battery clear on both sides, so as to be ready
to wear, or tack, or fire, as our pilot ahead might require.

"The reefs were to leeward of the string of low keys, which made the
water comparatively smooth, though the wind still swept strongly over us
and sang through the rigging; and it was here the 'Centipede' entered,
going like wild pigeons the pair of us. The outer reef had a fair, deep
passage, and so had the next; but the inner one presented but one narrow
gateway, scarcely wide enough for a ship to scrape through, with the
whole reef one uninterrupted fringe of black pointed rocks and roaring
white breakers, which toppled over, and boiled and eddied like a
thousand whirlpools into the smoother water inshore.

"As the 'Centipede's' stern gave a sharp pitching jerk when she entered
this boiling gorge, we saw, in the moonlight, her head-yards laid
square, the fore and aft sails flowing in the sheets as she fell off
with wide wings and the wind on her quarter, and flew down inside the
reef.

"Five minutes after we too entered this maelstrom chasm, and, though the
helm was hove hard up, and the after-sails shivered, yet, before the
'Scourge's' bows, going at the rate she was, could turn the sharp angle
of that water-gate, her port bilge grated against a coral ledge, and
grooved and broomed the planks and copper away like so much sea-weed!
But yet that slight graze never stopped us a hair's weight, and, with
additional sail, we rushed after our pilot, mile after mile, through
reef, ledge, breakers, inlets, and keys, now braced sharp up, and again
going free, until at last the fellow, having run us a dance of full ten
miles, once more emerged into the open water, close jammed on the wind,
steering nearly due east.

"There, Hardy!" exclaimed the commodore, "I am tired of talking; suppose
you take up the thread of the yarn. Domino, another bottle of tinta!"



CHAPTER XXXVII.

THE WRECK OF THE "CENTIPEDE."

    "Gun bellows forth to gun, and pain
      Rings out her wild, delirious scream;
    Redoubling thunders shake the main,
      Loud crashing falls the shot-rent beam.
    The timbers with the broadsides strain;
      The slippery decks send up a steam
    From hot and living blood; and high
      And shrill is heard the death-pang cry!"

    "She struck where the white and fleecy waves
      Looked soft as carded wool;
    But the cruel rocks they gored her side
      Like the horns of an angry bull."


Piron turned his gaze toward the first lieutenant, moved away the full
glasses of wine, which he had never raised to his lips since the
commodore began, and, resting his bloodless cheek on his other hand,
listened.

"It's vera interesting indeed." "Tear an' ages, boy! Fire away!" quoth
the Scotchman and his Milesian crony in a breath.

Hardy threw his arm over the shoulder of Harry Darcantel as if it was a
pleasant Corinthian column to lean upon, and breaking off the ashes of
his cigar on the rim of a wine-glass which he had specially devoted to
that purpose, he forthwith began:

"I am quite confident, gentlemen, that I can not describe what afterward
took place so well as Commodore Cleveland, but, at all events, I'll do
my best. Nor do I remember very distinctly the events of the night after
we got out of the Musketeers Keys; for I was pretty well fagged out
myself, and all of us who had the watch below turned in to take the
first wink of sleep we could catch for forty hours.

"The next morning, however, when I took the deck, I found the corvette
under royals and flying-jib, with a fresh trade wind blowing from about
east-northeast, and a smooth sea; though close hauled as we were, and
going ten knots, the spray was flying well up the weather leech of the
fore-sail. The 'Centipede' was about a mile and a half ahead, jammed on
the wind, and trying all she could to eat the wind out of us; but, as
the commodore there said at the time, he had thrown that trick away when
he cut off eight or ten feet of his fore-mast, and made a brigantine of
the craft, so that he could not brace his head-yards sharper, or lie
nearer the wind than we did.

"I remember, also, that two or three of the officers and half a hundred
of the sailors were very anxious to pitch shot at the chase from the
long eighteen in the weather bridle port; but the captain refused, and
said we might lose a cable's length or two in yawing off to fire, and it
would be better to save the powder until we could slam a broadside into
him. But all the while that 'Centipede' was handled and steered in such
a thorough seamanlike manner, and proved herself such a beautiful
sea-boat, that I doubt if there was a man on board the 'Scourge' who
would not have given a year's pay to have taken her whole, and only
expended a spare top-mast studding-sail halliards for the necks of her
crew.

"From the top-gallant forecastle we could see every thing that took
place on the schooner's deck: sometimes a lot of fellows forward reeving
some fresh gear, peering about the low bowsprit, or putting on a seizing
to a traveler on the jib-stay; with a chap or two aloft stitching a
chafing-mat on the lee backstays; and then aft a man shinning up the
main shrouds with a tin pot hung around his neck, greasing the jaws of
the main gaff, and twitching a wrinkle out of the gaff-top-sail, so that
it would lie as flat as this dining-room table set on end.

"But always, from the very first moment we descried her--before the
hurricane and afterward--there were two fellows abaft by the taffrail.
One a large fat man, in a long dark dress, who appeared at times to be
leaning over the rail as if he were sea-sick; and the other a spare,
tall-built fellow, who sat there with a quadrant in his hands and
smoking cigars, measuring the distance between the two vessels as if he
were a government surveyor, and especially appointed to make a
hydrographical chart of the Caribbean Sea. Occasionally, too, we could
see him approach the binnacle, spread a chart on the deck at his feet,
examine it closely with a pair of dividers in his hands, and then he
would return to his seat on the taffrail, cigar in his mouth and
quadrant to his eye as before.

"Nor were we idle on board the 'Scourge;' for when the breeze lulled we
slacked up the lower rigging and stays, got down all extra weight and
hamper from the tops, sent the watch below to the berth-deck with a
round shot apiece in their hammocks, moved a couple of carronades about
the spar-deck till we got the ship in the best sailing trim, and then we
went skipping and springing through the water with the elasticity of an
India-rubber ball.

"At noon the sailing-master reported the position of the ship to be two
hundred and eighty miles from the nearest land, which was the Darien
Coast. So all that day and all that night, with a moon to make a lover
weep to see, we went bowling after our waspish consort in hopes before
long of taking the sting out of her. No kite ever pursued its quarry
with a keener eye than we did. No hound ever leaped after a wolf with
the froth streaming from his jaws and blood-red thirsty eyes, than did
the 'Scourge' chase that infamous pirate. The delay only made our eyes
sparkle and our teeth sharper in expectation; for we knew we would have
our prey sooner or later, and it was only a bite and a pleasure
deferred.

"The next morning and all the day there was no change to speak of in our
respective positions. The 'Centipede' went skimming on over the water
with every thread of canvas she could spread, reeling over on her side
at times when the breeze freshened, while the spray flashed up joyously
and sparkled in the sun, leaving a bubbling current of foam in her wake,
which, before it had been entirely lost in the regular waves of the sea,
the corvette's sharp bows would plunge into, and again make it flash
high up to her fore-yard, and then go seething, and hissing, and kissing
her black sides until it rippled around her rudder and was lost again in
the wake astern.

"And all the time that man sat with a cigar in his mouth on the pirate's
taffrail, while Commodore Cleveland there stood with a spy-glass to his
eye on the poop of the 'Scourge.'

"You may imagine, gentlemen," continued Hardy, as he again knocked the
ashes off his cigar, "that going to sea is attended with some few
discomforts, such as battening down the hatches in a sirocco in the
Mediterranean off Tripoli; a simoom in the China Seas; a bitter
northwest gale off Barnegat, with the rigging and sails frozen as hard
as an iceberg; but if a man can catch forty winks of sleep once in a
while, whether in a hammock, or on an oak carronade slide with the
breech of a gun for a pillow, he may manage to weather through it. But
from the moment we first saw that pirate till we saw the last of him,
neither the first lieutenant of the 'Scourge' nor the commander of the
'Centipede' once closed their eyes, unless--well, I won't anticipate."

Piron reached over his hand and shook that of his friend Cleveland
convulsively.

"Vera weel, mon! vera weel!" "He's the very man to do it!" said Stewart
and Burns to Stingo, nodding backward at the commodore.

Another striking contrast to the hand-shaking, virtuous compact between
Captain Brand and his friend, the pious padre Ricardo! I wonder if they
are shaking hands now! Probably not.

"Gentlemen," resumed Hardy, as he shook the ashes level in his
wine-glass, as if he wished to preserve them to clean his teeth with
after smoking, "I will not detain you much longer. Both vessels were
making great speed, and long before sunset we had been keeping a bright
look-out for the land. At last it was reported, trending all around
both bows, low and with a trembling mirage of pines and mangroves
looming up, and a multitude of rocky keys dead ahead. We were steering
directly for Las Mulatas Islands, a cluster then little known to any
navigators save, perhaps, the buccaneers of the Gulf of Columbus, and
perhaps, too, with the intention of running us just such another dance
as our pilot had a night or two before. However, we were again all
prepared to explore the unknown reefs; and, moreover, we got the
starboard anchor off the bow, and bent the cables to that and the spare
anchors amidships, so as to be all ready to moor ship in case our pilot
required us to do so. And likewise the cutters were hanging clear from
the davits--the same boats which had once before paid a complimentary
visit to some of his friends--supposing he would like to entertain us in
person.

"The sun went down again in a fiery blaze, and with its last ray there
slowly rose to the main truck of the pirate a swallow-tailed black flag,
with a white skull and cross-bones in the dark field. It fluttered for a
moment out straight and clear, and then twisted itself around the thin
mast, never more to be released by hands or halliards! That was the last
glimpse those pirates ever caught of the murderous symbol they had so
often fought and sailed under; and it was the last sun that a good many
aching eyes ever looked upon who were sailing there in that half league
of blue water. The moon, however, was riding bright and beaming, as
clear as a bell, overhead, and that was all the light we cared for. The
'Centipede,' no doubt, would have preferred no moon at all, with a
cloudy sky and a bit of a rain squall, to pursue the intricate
navigation before her; but Heaven arranged the atmospheric scenery
otherwise.

"'By the deep eight!' sang out the leadsman in the port chains. 'The
mark five!' came from the opposite side. 'Another cast, lads--quick!'
'And a half four!' 'Six fathoms, sir!'

"'We must have stirred up the sand, Cleveland,' said the captain; but
even as he spoke the man in the starboard chains cried, 'Three fathoms,
sir!' and while each instant we expected the ship to bring up all
standing, and the masts to go by the board, the other leadsman sung out,
joyfully, 'No bottom with the line, sir!'

"Well, we were safely through that bed of coral, doing, no doubt, some
trifling damage to the tender shoots and branches, as we flew through a
narrow channel, with the waves breaking and moaning on the sandy shores
over the keys, out into deep water again.

"Four or five miles beyond stood out a bluff rock, looking in the
moonlight like a dozing lion with his paws crossed before him, ready to
bound upon any who should approach his lair in the dense jungle of pines
and tangled thickets which stood up like a bristling mane on the ridge
behind.

"The 'Centipede' was now but a short half-mile ahead of us, her deck
alive with men, and manifestly ready for some desperate devilment. On
her after rail, too, stood that man, tall and erect, his feet steadied
by the cavil of the main boom, a spy-glass to his eye, and looking at
the rocky lion now close aboard him, still with a cigar in his mouth;
and we thought we could even see the thin puffs of smoke curling around
his face. Suddenly, too, we saw the spy-glass whirled around his head,
and at the instant the vessel fell dead off before the wind, the great
main-sail flew over with a stunning crash and clatter of blocks and
sheets as the wind caught it on the other quarter, making the long
switch of a mast to spring like a bow, while the weather-shrouds slacked
up for a moment in bights, and then came back taut with a twang you
might have heard a mile! We could now see, as the space opened behind
the rock, another frightful jagged ledge, on which the rollers were
heaving in liquid masses high up a precipitous rock, and where the
channel was not a cable's length wide, leading into a foaming gloomy
inlet, where not even the beams of the moon could penetrate! I heard the
captain say, in his old decided way,

"'Now for it, Cleveland! You take the battery, and I'll look out for the
ship!'

"Then, gentlemen," said Hardy, with unusual animation, as he waved his
right arm aloft with an imaginary cutlass swinging over his head, "came
the word 'Fire!'

"Yes, the entire starboard broadside, round shot, grape, and canister,
all pointed toward a centre, were delivered with one simultaneous
shock--the hurricane a mere cat's-paw in comparison--which shook the
corvette as if she had struck a rock, while the smoke and sheets of
flame spouted out from the cannon, half hiding the black torrent which
gushed forth from so many hoarse throats; and as the roar of the
concussion was taken up in terrible echoes from the lion on the rock, a
peppering volley of musket-balls from the marines on the poop and
forecastle made a barking tenor to the music.

"Meanwhile the helm of the 'Scourge' was hove hard down, and as she just
swirled, by a miracle, clear of the ledge under our lee, and came up to
the wind with the sails slamming and banging hard enough to send the
canvas out of the bolt-ropes, the courses were clewed up, every thing
aloft came down by the run; anchor after anchor went plunging to the
bottom, and before the cables had fairly begun to fly out of the
hawse-holes with their infernal jar and rattle, high above the sounds of
flapping sails, snapping blocks, running chains, and what not, came
another clear order, 'Fire!'

"Then pealed out the port broadside at a helpless, dismasted hulk within
two hundred yards of our beam, rolling like a worm-eaten log on the top
of a ruffled broad roller, going to break, in ten seconds, on the ledge,
whose pointed rocks stood up like black toothed fangs to grind its prey
to atoms! But before the fangs closed upon it our own teeth gave it a
shake; and as the breath of our bull-dogs was swept aft by the fresh
breeze, we could see the sluggish mass almost rise bodily out of water
as it was torn and split by the round iron wedges, the fragments flying
up in dark, ragged strips and splinters with squirming ropes around
them, looking, in the moonlight, like skeletons of gibbeted pirates
tossed, gallows and chains, into the air, and then coming down in dips
and splashes into the unforgiving water.

"A minute later, all that was left of the shattered hull fell broadside
into the open fangs of the ledge, which ground it with its merciless
jaws into toothpicks. But in all the lively music and destruction going
on around us--which takes longer to tell than to act--we heard no human
voice save one, and that came in a loud, terrified yell amid the
crunching roar of the ledge,

"'_O Madre! Madre dolorosa!_'

"This, gentlemen, was the last sound that came from the piratical
schooner 'Centipede.'"



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

VULTURES AND SHARKS.

            "Oh ho! oh ho! Above! below!
    Lightly and brightly they glide and go;
    The hungry and keen on the top are leaping,
    The lazy and fat in the depths are sleeping!"

        "Ah! well-a-day! What evil looks
          Had I from old and young;
        Instead of the cross, the albatross
          About my neck was hung."


When Hardy had concluded his part of the tale, he stuck the stump of his
cigar into the wine-glass of ashes, as if he had no farther use for
either, moistened his throat with a bumper of tinta, and almost
unconsciously passed his left arm around Harry Darcantel's neck.

Stingo drank two bumpers, as if he had a particularly parched throat;
but Paddy Burns and Tom Stewart, strange to relate, never wet their
lips, and passed their hands in a careless way across their eyes, as if
there were moisture enough there--as, indeed, there was; feeling, as
they did, in the founts of their own generous natures, for their dear
friend who sat opposite.

Piron's head rested, face downward, on his outspread hands, and a few
drops trickled through his close-pressed fingers, but they were not
wine. And as he raised his head and looked around the board, where
glowing, sympathizing eyes met his, he said, in a low, subdued voice,

"I trust I may thank Heaven for avenging the murder of our child!"

Even as he uttered these words, his gaze rested on the face of
Darcantel; and striking the table with a blow that made the glasses
jingle, he started back, as he had done on the frigate's quarter-deck,
and exclaimed,

"Great God! can it be possible that that boy was saved from the clutches
of the drowned pirate!"

Not so fast, good Monsieur Piron--not so fast. Your boy was saved, and
Captain Brand was not drowned. So keep quiet for a time, and you shall
not only see that bloody pirate, but hear how he departed this life;
only keep quiet!

Paddy Burns said, with a violent attempt at indignation, "Wirra, ye
spalpeen! is it thinking of old Clinker and his 'arthquake ye are?"
While Tom Stewart ejaculated, "Heeh, mon! are you for breaking the
commodoor's decanters and wine-glasses, in the belief that ye are the
eerthquak yersel?" Stingo, who was more calm, and a less excitable
Creole, merely murmured, "Commodore, we want to hear more of what took
place, and then what became of you for the past sixteen or seventeen
years."

"You shall hear more if you are not tired, gentlemen, though I have very
little to add to what Hardy has already related of the 'Centipede.'
Steward, let the servants turn in; and brew us, yourself, a light jorum
of Antigua punch! Now, then," said Commodore Cleveland, "I'm your man!

"After we had scaled the guns on both sides of the 'Scourge,' as Hardy
has told you, the captain thought it an unnecessary trouble to lower the
boats to pick up the chips floating about the mouth of the channel; and,
besides, it would have been a bit dangerous, since the sea was coming in
savagely, boiling about the ship, with a very uncertain depth of water
around and under us; and, moreover, we had our hands full the best part
of the night in reeving new running-gear, bending a new sail or two that
had flapped to pieces when every thing was let go by the run in coming
to anchor. However, before morning, we were in cruising trim once more,
and ready to cut and run in case it was expedient to lose our
ground-tackle, and get out of what we afterward learned was the Garotte
Gorge. But by sunrise the wind fell away into a flat calm, and with the
exception of the long, triple row of rollers heaving in occasionally
from seaward, we lay as snug and quiet as could be.

"After breakfast the quarter boats were lowered, and Hardy took one, and
I got in the other, and we pulled in toward the jaws of the channel,
between the Lion Rock and the ledge on the opposite side.

"There were still a good many fragments of the wreck, which had
escaped the reacting current out to sea, floating about on the
water; some of the timbers, too, of the hull were jammed in the black
gums of the ledge, shrouded in sea-weed and kelp, as if all had
grown there together. Farther on was part of the fore-mast and top-mast,
swimming nearly in mid-channel, anchored as it were by one of the
shrouds--twisted, perhaps, around a sharp rock below. The top-sail
was still fast to the yards, hoisted and sheeted home, and laid in
the water transversely to the masts, just as it fell under the raking
fire of our first broadside, jerking over the main-top-mast with it.

"A myriad of sea-birds, from Mother Carey's chickens to gulls and
cormorants, and even vultures and eagles from the shore, were clustered
on the wreck as thick as bees--screaming, croaking, and snapping at each
other with their hard beaks and bills, while thousands more were
hurrying in from seaward, and either swooped down over the ledge, or
tried to find a place on the floating spars.

"The gorge, too, was alive with barracoutas and sharks, leaping out of
water, or with their stiff triangular fins cutting just above the
surface, and sometimes even grazing the blades of the cutter's oars. I
pulled slowly toward the wreck of the fore-mast, and hooked on to the
reef-cringle of the fore-top-sail. The birds did not move at our
approach, and one old red-eyed vulture snapped on the polished bill of
the boat-hook, leaving the marks of his beak in the smooth iron. Down in
the clear green depths, too, the water was alive with ravenous fish, and
we could see at times hundreds of them with their heads fastened on to
some dark object, rolling it, and biting it, and pulling every way, with
now and then the glance of a clean-picked bone shining white in the
limpid water as the mass was jerked out of our sight.

"The bowmen, however, attracted my attention, and one of them sang out,
as he pointed with his finger, 'I say, Mr. Cleveland, here's the captain
and his priest lying in the belly of the top-sail!'

"I walked forward, while the men fired a few pistols to scare away the
birds, and looked in. There, about a foot below the water, lay one
drowned man and half the body of another, who had evidently been cut in
twain by a twenty-four pound shot at the stomach, leaving only a few
revolting shreds of entrails dangling beneath the carcass. The other
corpse was a large, burly, fat man, wrapped in a black cassock, with a
knotted rope to confine it at the midriff, and around his thick bare
neck was a string of black beads, holding a gold and ebony crucifix,
pendent in the water. The eyes of the one with half a body had been
picked out by the gulls, but he still possessed a fang-like tusk,
sticking through a hare-lip under a fringe of wiry mustache, which gave
me a tolerable correct idea of his temper even without seeing his eyes.
The truck and shivered stump of the main-top-mast, too, with the
piratical flag still twisted around it, lay across his chest; but, as we
approached, an eagle seized it in his beak, and, tearing it in tattered
shreds, flew aloft, with the remains of the parted halliards streaming
below his talons.

"The large lump rolling slowly over beside him had the crown of the head
shaved, and the mouth and eyes were wide staring open, as if it was
chanting forth a misericordia for his own soul. As I stood gazing at
these revolting objects, and while the men were firing pistols and
slashing the oars and boat-hooks around to drive away the greedy birds,
a huge pelican, unmindful of powder or ash, made one dashing swoop into
the sail, and as he came up and spread his broad pinions--nearly as
broad as the sail itself--he held in his pouch the crucifix from the
padre's neck, and as he slowly flapped his great wings and sailed away,
with the beads dropping pit-a-pat-pat on the glassy surface of the
water, a cloud of cormorants, gulls, and vultures took after him to
steal his plunder.

"At the same time the sharks--many of them resting their cold, sharp
noses on the very leech of the top-sail--waiting like hungry dogs for a
bone, with a thousand more diving and cutting in the water beneath, at
last cut through the canvas belly of the sail, and, before you could
think, the floating corpses were within their serrated jaws. In another
moment the bodies rose again to the surface outside the sail and wreck;
then another dash from the monsters, and a greedy dive and peck from the
birds; a few bubbles and shreds of black threads, and that was the last
of those wretches until the sea shall give up its dead.

"As for Hardy, he pulled higher up the gorge, and examined the rocks and
pools on both sides, but saw nothing living or dead, and we both
returned to the ship."

Had Dick Hardy landed at the flat rock where the eddy swept in under the
Lion's paws, he might have seen the footprint of a man, with a straw
slipper in it; and following the track a few yards farther, he would
have passed his sword through a villain lying bleeding in a mangrove
thicket; and found, too, in his belt, snugly stowed away, a lot of
gleaming jewels, with a sapphire gem of priceless value on the finger of
his bloody hand. But never mind, Hardy! You will hear more of that man
one of these days, and you will have no cause for regrets--though he
will, perhaps; and, meanwhile, let him wander in quest of fresh
villainies over Spanish South America.

"Well, gentlemen," resumed Commodore Cleveland, "although I have doubts
whether the mangled carcass we saw in the sail was the captain of that
notorious 'Centipede,' yet I felt confident at the time, and do now,
that it was scarcely possible for him or a man of his crew to have
escaped our fire and the water and rocks combined. So that evening, when
the land-wind made, we tripped anchor and sailed away from the coast of
Darien."

"Come, my friends," said Piron, in a low, tremulous voice, rising as he
spoke, "we must not push Cleveland too far to-night, for it is getting
late, you know, and they keep early hours on board men-of-war."

"No hurry, Piron! I'll talk to you all night, if you have the patience
to listen to me. No? Then I'll have the boat manned." He touched a
bell-rope which hung over his head, and the cabin door opened. "Orderly,
my compliments to the officer of the watch, and desire him to call away
the barge."

While some of the gentlemen in the forward cabin left the table, and
stood about in groups chatting till the boat was reported, Piron put his
arm around the commodore's belt, and they moved aft into the starboard
stateroom. Little Mouse was lying sound asleep on the elegant cot, with
all his clothes on, but with a smile on his lips, and dreaming, maybe,
of the dear widowed mother he would one of those days make proud of
him.

"Cleveland, my old friend, tell me more of that young Darcantel!"

"Hist! Piron, don't wake little Tiny! There's nothing to tell more than
he is my adopted nephew, and the son of the gentleman who occupies that
stateroom opposite. But when we go out to Escondido I'll tell you about
his father, who has led a very adventurous life."

"Well, good-night! You will bring young Darcantel with you, and this
little rogue, too, here in the cot. My wife and her sister will be
delighted to see you all. Good-night!"

As the "Monongahela's" bell struck eight for midnight, the commodore's
guests got in the barge and pulled toward the shore.

At the same time, a light gig, with handsome Harry Darcantel, went
alongside the "Rosalie," and Commodore Cleveland turned into his
friend's cot opposite, leaving small Mr. Mouse to sleep his dream out
till morning; while, as the barge ran up to the landing at Kingston
Harbor, and a gold ounce was slipped into the old coxswain's honest paw,
what did they all think about? Good-night!



CHAPTER XXXIX.

ESCONDIDO.

    "They bore her far to a mountain green,
    To see what mortal never had seen;
    And they seated her high on a purple sward,
    And bade her heed what she saw and heard;
    And note the changes the spirits wrought,
    For now she lived in the land of thought."

    "'Twixt Africa and Ind, I'll find him out,
    And force him to restore his purchase back,
    Or drag by the curls to a foul death,
    Cursed as his life."


Hidden in a cleft of the hills of Jamaica, fifteen hundred feet above
that blue tropical sea below, on the brow of a cool valley, where that
bounding stream of white water rushes from the tall peak in the sky in
tiny cataracts, till it forms a pool there, held in by the smooth rim of
rocks, where the cane-mill is lazily turning its overshot wheel, with
the spray flying off in streaming mist, and the happy blacks stacking
the sugar-cane in even fagots as they unlade the huge carts with solid
wheels cut out of a single drum of a cotton-tree; the six or eight yoke
of oxen ahead ruminating under the shade of the tropical foliage, with
never a switch to their tails; while the lively young sea-breeze comes
flurrying up the valley, whistling among the coffee bushes below,
bending the standing cane on the slopes, rattling the tamarinds,
cocoa-nuts, and plantains, and then climbing with noisy wings up the
mountain, is lost with a whirl in the heavy cloud which obscures the
lofty peak.

Below the mill, where the mule-path crosses the foaming torrent by the
shaky bridge, which stands on cocoa-nut stilts, and never yet has been
thrown down by an earthquake, nestling under a precipitous crag, stood
the mountain seat of Escondido. Vines and parasitical plants, mingled
with scarlet creeping geraniums, made a living wall of dewy green and
red on the face of the hoary rock, falling over here and there at some
projecting acclivity in leafy torrents, and then forming a glowing green
cornice along the topmost edges of the height.

The buildings stood on a flat esplanade below, looking down the gorge as
from the apex of a triangle, and taking in the overseer's houses on the
plantations, with their cone-shaped roofs, the fields of cane and coffee
groves, the cataract between, down to the white snowy beach at the
sea-shore, and the blue water crested by waves as far as the sight could
reach.

The main house was square--standing on stilts, too, like the shaky
bridge--the lower part fenced in by straight bamboos, of one story, with
a broad roomy veranda going all round, where half a dozen grass hammocks
were slung between the windows which opened into the dwelling. A great
airy saloon and dining-room faced the valley, while six or eight cool
bedchambers looked out from the rear up at the green wall of the
precipice, and down on the sparkling stream of the mill.

But there were no loopholes for musketry, nor vaults and dungeons.

The sun had long passed the tall peaks of the blue mountains above, and
the shadows had fallen down the valley until even the patch of white
pebbly cove at the shore had become dim; and no sounds were heard save
the rustling of the sea-breeze, the splash of the torrent as it fell off
from the rickety old wheel of the cane-mill, mingled with the shrill
cries and songs of the negroes as they unloaded the carts.

Yes; but there _were_ other sounds--the low, sweet tones of women's
voices--inside the villa of Escondido. Two lovely matrons were sitting
within that lofty saloon, hand clasped in hand, and gazing with glowing
pride upon a lovely girl, who waved lithe as a lily on its stem before
them.

It is about seventeen years since we last saw this charming trio. And
now look at them, old bachelors, and tell me if, while old Time has been
scraping the hair off your own selfish heads, and pinching the noses,
too, of the ancient maids beside you, has not the scything old wretch
spared these lovely matrons? Look at their rounded forms, those soft
dimpled cheeks, and those bands of brown tresses, kissing the
pear-shaped ears before they are looped up in one magnificent knot of
satin at the back of the head. Look at them, you miserable old
procrastinators, and then kneel down before the ancient damsels you have
sneered at, even if they have the pelican gout and a crow's-foot at the
corners of their eyes! They are better than you are, any day; so bear a
hand, send for the parson--and now stand back.

But come here, my young gallants, and take a peep at that Bordelaise
demoiselle standing before those fair matrons. Strange to say, she is
nearly a blonde, with large blue eyes, so very blue that--fringed with
lashes that cast a shade over the cheek--they seem almost black. Then,
too, that low, pure forehead, with great plaits of hair going round and
round her elegant head like a golden turban, and thin hoops of rings
quivering in the pearl-tipped ears. Tall and waving in figure, as
maidens are; with slim, arched feet, dimpled at the ankle; and round,
tapering fingers too, with a wrist so plump and soft that no manacles of
bracelets could press it without slipping off the ivory hand. Dressed
she was in a light mousseline, coyly cowering in loose folds around her
budding bosom to the slender waist, where, clasped by a simple buckle of
mother-o'-pearl, it fell flowing in gauzy, floating waves to her feet.
Look at her, my gallants, for she is Rosalie!

"They are coming to-day, my aunt; and Uncle Jules says that our dear old
Captain Blunt has just arrived at Kingston, and is coming with them."

"What else, my daughter?"

The girl held a letter before her face, maybe to hide a little blush
which suffused her cheeks.

"Why, mamma, he writes that the spring-cart, with Banou, was to start
overnight with the 'traps'--that means trunks, I suppose--and that--"

"What, Rosalie?"

"That there is a handsome young officer, the nephew of Commodore
Cleveland--_merci_, mamma! some of Uncle Jules's nonsense!"

No such great nonsense, after all, mademoiselle, when your uncle Piron
tells you to keep that fluttering little heart safe within your bodice,
for there are thieves in blue jackets in the island of Jamaica. Strange,
too, as she spoke--with her animated face, large blue eyes, and
graceful, wavy figure--how much she resembled both those lovely women,
with their darker coloring, who sat smiling sweetly upon her.

"Oh! here comes Uncle Banou. Well, my good Banou, what news of your
master?" said Madame Piron, as she put out her hand to the black, who
raised it respectfully to his lips.

"He will be here with his friends at sunset, eh! And Mademoiselle
Rosalie must place the gentlemen's things in their rooms, and see that
the billiard-house has some cots made ready in it."

"Nothing more?"

"No, madame."

"_Allons!_ Rosalie, we have no time to lose."

Winding through the mazes of the tropical forest, over the broken stony
road, leading through a brilliant labyrinth of wild fig and acacia,
plume-like palms, white shafts of silk and cotton, and lance-wood,
mahogany, and ebony, parasitical plants in green and red, with endless
varieties of gay flowers strung and laced in superb festoons on trunk
and branch; singing birds and paroquets making the forest alive; while,
mingled with the delicious fragrance of orange-blossoms, cinnamon, and
pimento, the fresh breeze wheeled through clump and leaf, changing the
hues of plant and flower from white to crimson, green, purple, and gold,
as Nature painted them in gorgeous dyes.

Through this brilliant vegetation, along the uneven road, came the sound
of horses' feet, with hearty shouts and laughter; and presently appeared
a cavalcade, mounted on mules and horses, all making the forest ring
with merriment.

Ahead came Tom Stewart, on a small, sure-footed pony; and beside him Mr.
Tiny Mouse, reefer, on a high mule, with a scrubbing-brush mane, looking
like a fly pennant at the mast-head of the frigate, kicking his little
heels into the old mule, as if that mule minded it even so much as to
shake his long ears! Then straggling in the centre were Darcantel,
Stingo, and Paddy Burns; and behind them came a tall, muscular man, on a
mettled barb, which he controlled by a touch of his little finger. And
at his side, on the most diminutive of the donkey breed, with feet
touching the ground, clung stout Jacob Blunt, the sailor, in a more
dreadful trepidation than he had ever known on board his old teak-built
brig, lying there in the Roads of Kingston; while the rear was brought
up by Piron and Commodore Cleveland.

"Now, you little madcap, look sharp when we turn the curve of the
mountain, and you'll catch a peep at Escondido; and don't you pinch that
old mule again on her back, or she'll pitch you up into that silk
cotton-tree."

"If it pleases Providence to restore me safely to my dear old 'Martha
Blunt,' I'll take my davy never to sit astride of any d---- brute on
four legs again!" This mild vow came from the lips of Jacob Blunt, and
he honestly meant every word he said.

"Give us another jolly song, Stingo; it will keep your throat clear for
the claret."

"For the sake of my old timbers, sir, and as you vally my wife's
blessing, don't sing! There, you infarnal beast, you've yawed sharp up
into this ere bush, and put my starboard glim out forever! I say, Don
Spanisher, don't sing--_I'm_ going fast enough!" shouted the poor
skipper, as he passed his paws around the little brute's neck, with his
hat over his eyes.

"Colonel," said Burns, as he reined up, and gave the perverse little
donkey a cut with his whip, which elicited another hoarse roar from the
old sailor as the animal half doubled himself up, and then ambled away
like a yawl in a short sea, until he came up to the people ahead, when
he stood stock-still and brayed maliciously, "have you another cigar,
colonel? Thankee! Fine scenery this about here--never visited Jamaica
before? Ye have been off the island, eh? It's a nate little spot Piron
has there, that it is; and the whole of us will be mighty sorry to lose
him. Is he going to lave? Yes, he is; and, what is worse, he is going to
take his swate wife and her sister. Is the sister handsome? Begorra!
handsome? Why, man, she's a beauty! And didn't I crack the elbow-joint
of that ugly, abusive divil, Peter Growler, for saying he had seen a
gray hair in her head, when I knew it was only a loose thread from her
lace cap--and me in love with her all the time. Bad luck to him! he's
never fired a pistol since."

Here Paddy Burns's small eyes twinkled as he slowly raised the stock of
his riding-whip at a slender lance-wood-tree about twelve yards off, and
gave the lash a sharp crack.

The person on the spirited barb almost unconsciously put his right hand
in his pocket.

Take care, Paddy Burns; the colonel has a cool hand and a colder eye,
and has made a study of pistols--cannon and swivels too, perhaps. Knows
the cutlass exercise as well, and has had considerable experience in
bullets, knives, and ropes. Has murdered women--lots of them. Wouldn't
stick at killing a child with a junk bottle. And as for men--pshaw! Keep
a bright look-out, Paddy. Why, he'd drown your mother if you had a
sister to love. For didn't he drag his own old father and mother down to
a dishonored grave? and do you think, you brave, honest little Irishman,
that he would sleep a wink the less sound for putting you to death? Bah!
man. Shoot all the game you spring, but don't waste powder on a tiger or
a shark. You would like to take a mutual shot with him, though? Of
course you would--who doubts it? But then, gentlemen fight gentlemen;
and this colonel at your elbow is a scoundrel, miscreant, villain,
assassin, and--pirate! So you can't take a crack at him, Paddy Burns.



CHAPTER XL.

PAUL DARCANTEL.

    "From the strong will, and the endeavor,
            That forever
      Wrestles with the tide of fate;
    From the wrecks of hope far scattered,
            Tempest shattered,
      Floating waste and desolate."


"Well, Piron, as I have told you, after the peace was made in 1815, I
had command of a brig, and took a cruise on the coast of Brazil. After
that I was appointed to a thirty-six gun frigate--the old 'Blazer'--and
went, for three years, to the East Indies, and round home by the
Pacific. When we were paid off I made a tour in Europe with that boy's
father, Dr. Darcantel, and--"

"But you promised to tell me, Cleveland, something about him."

"Nothing easier; and, if we have half an hour before we get to
Escondido, I will give you all I know, in a general way, of his history.
Yes? Well, then, Darcantel is descended from one of the oldest and best
Creole families in our State of Louisiana, and the plantations of my
family and his father were contiguous to each other on the Mississippi,
some leagues up the coast above New Orleans. We had the same tutor when
we were children, and we grew up from infancy to boyhood together. He
was passionate and ungovernable even as a child; but as he was the heir
to a large estate, and his father dead, his weak mother humored and
allowed no one to curb him. I myself, one of a numerous family, was put
in the navy, and I went away on cruise after cruise, and did not get
home again to the old plantation for full seven years. I was a man then,
had seen some active service, and I held a commission as a lieutenant in
the navy.

"In the mean while, Paul Darcantel, who had taken, at the time I left, a
strong fancy for medicine and surgery, had been sent to France to begin
his studies. How he applied himself we do not know; but with a large
letter of credit he spent a great deal of money; and we heard that, with
great talents and wonderful skill in his profession, he was yet unfitted
for close application, and plunged madly into the vortex of dissipation
around him. I heard, too--or at least my brothers told me--that his
extravagances had seriously impaired his fortune, and that his duels
had been so numerous and desperate as to make his name dreaded even in
Paris. On one occasion, at a café, he had cut a bullying hussar's head
clean off with his own sabre for knocking a woman down; and in another
duel, where he had detected a French count cheating him at cards, he
shot his nose off for a bet. With this unenviable reputation, and at the
urgent solicitations of his agent, after years of absence he returned to
his ancestral home. We met as of old--it was Paul and Henry--and though
still the same restive, hot-headed spirit as he had ever been, he yet
always listened patiently to what I said, and I could, in a manner,
control him. He paid very little attention to his property, however, and
when he did go to the city to consult with his factor or trustee, he got
into some wild frolic, duel, and scrape, and came back worn out with
fatigue and dissipation. He was a fine, stern-looking youth in those
days, with great muscular power, which, even with the endurance put upon
it by gaming and drinking, seemed not to be lessened.

"After one of these visits to New Orleans, where his long-forbearing
agents had at last awakened him to a bitter sense of his delinquencies,
and when mortgage upon mortgage were laid with all their shocking truth
before him, he returned and came to me. With all his vices and faults,
he was truthful and generous. He told me all, and how he would try to do
better, and soothe the declining years of his too indulgent mother.

"I always had great faith in the companion almost of my cradle, and I
loved him, I think, better than my own brothers. Well, he spread all his
affairs before me, and in my little den of an outhouse on the plantation
we both went systematically over the papers. We were two days and nights
at the business; and when, at last, I showed him that he would still,
with a little prudent economy, have a fair income, and eventually,
perhaps, redeem his hereditary property, he burst out in a wild yell of
delight, and hugged me in his arms. When he had put away the papers, I
said,

"'Paul, you know I am engaged to be married, and I have not seen my
sweetheart for two whole days; she has a sister, too, prettier than my
Fifine, whom you have never seen since we were boys together. Come, will
you go with me? We can pull ourselves across the river.'

"He hesitated; and it would have been, perhaps, better had he refused to
accompany me, for dreadful misery came of it."

The commodore gave a deep sigh, and touched his horse with the spur.

"I don't know, though, Piron; there is a fate marked out for us all, and
we should not exclaim against the decrees of Providence. Paul went with
me across the river. There, on the bank, was a little bower of an old
French-built stone house, where dwelt the last of a line of French
nobility who dated back to the days of Charlemagne. It was an
impoverished family, consisting of a reckless brother and two sisters,
who, with a few acres of sugar-cane and some old faithful servants,
managed to make both ends meet, and to support the establishment in a
certain air of elegance and comfort to which they had been accustomed.
They were of a proud and haughty race--the brother a disdainful and
imperious gentleman, smarting and brooding over the reverses of his
family, and rarely visiting his neighbors. His sisters--and they were
twins--were trustful, happy girls, and Josephine had been my childish
love."

Here Cleveland bent over his saddle-bow, and if the quiet old horse he
bestrode believed the large drops which fell upon his sleek neck came
from the clouds, or the drooping foliage of the forest, that animal was
never more deceived in his quadruped life. We know that fact, for it
stands upon the angelic record.

"Well, my dear Piron, as we entered the little saloon where Fifine was
seated at the piano, playing the sweet airs she had sung to me when a
little bit of a girl, and her beautiful sister bending over a table
near, absorbed in a book, while the candles under the glass shades
lighted up her dark passionate eyes and brunette complexion, Paul
approached her. It was not love at first sight, because they had played
together when children; but it was such a love as only begins and dies
with man or woman. The brother came in soon afterward, but there was no
love exchanged between him and Paul, and they met in a manner which
seemed to revive the early dislike they had entertained one toward the
other in boyhood.

"So the time passed, and in the course of a few months Josephine and I
were married, and our home was made on my own old place. Still, night by
night, in storm, calm, or freshet, Paul pulled himself in a skiff across
that mighty river, and we could see the lights shining to a late hour in
the little bower. He had changed a great deal, for he loved with the
whole force of his fiery and impetuous nature. Pauline loved too, though
still she feared him. The brother, however, bitterly opposed their
union, and stormy scenes arose. Josephine and I did all we could to put
matters on a happy footing, but Jacques, the brother, grew more
determined as his sister refused to cast off her lover, till at last his
feeling against him broke out into open scornful insult; and though Paul
still persisted in seeing Pauline, yet we feared that the impetuous
spirits of the two men would, at any moment, burst out into open
violence.

"Darcantel, however, controlled himself, avoided as much as possible any
altercations with Jacques, applied himself to the duties of his
plantation, and always promised me that he would wait and see if time
would not induce the brother to give his consent to the marriage.
Meanwhile Paul's mother died. A year passed. Fifine gave me a little
boy, who was called after me, and then I went again to sea. Nearly three
years later I returned, and the very night before I reached the
plantation a dreadful tragedy had occurred. I might, perhaps, have
prevented it had I been there, but it was ordered otherwise.

"It seems that two days previously Jacques wrote to Paul--I saw the
letter--and it was something painful to read; for he not only
recapitulated his vices and follies, but he taxed him with being a
ruined gambler, who had brought his mother in sorrow to the grave, and
ended by swearing, in the most solemn manner, that if he dared again to
speak to his sister or darken their doors, he would shoot him like a
dog!

"That evening, as usual, the skiff pursued its way across the river, and
late at night when it returned there was a fluttering white dress in the
stern. Scarcely, however, had the skiff left the bank than a boat shoved
out from the other side manned by four negroes, and came swiftly over in
pursuit. What afterward transpired I heard from an old married couple of
servants who had passed their lives with the family. It appears that
Paul, with Pauline in his arms, had barely reached the hall of the great
house, and was giving orders to close the doors, when Jacques rushed in
with a naked rapier in one hand and a pistol in the other. Paul adjured
him, by all he held sacred, not to attack him, as his blood was up, and,
unarmed as he was, he would do him a mischief. Pauline, too, implored
him by a sister's love to desist; but seeing him still advance, as she
partially shielded Paul, she told him that the man she loved was her
husband.

"Blinded with haughty rage, this last admission rendered him ungovernable,
and he lunged with all his force at Darcantel. Paul parried his rapid
passes, though receiving some sharp thrusts in his arm and shoulder, and
still supporting his drooping, terrified wife on his left arm till, by a
quick spring, he got within Jacques's guard, and, seizing him by the
wrist, wrenched the weapon from his grasp. This was enough to make the
brother totally insane by passion from baffled revenge, when he leveled
his pistol and fired. There was a faint cry with the report, and a groan
from Jacques as the sword went through his body and heart, till the hilt
struck hard against his ribs as he fell, a dead man, on the marble
pavement. But the bullet from his pistol had pierced the fair forehead
of his sister, and she lay a bridal corpse in her husband's arms. It was
horrible.

"I spare you all the afflicting details, Piron, and will only add that
Paul left the plantation that night, and when I got home I found an
envelope post-marked 'New Orleans,' inclosing a paper, which constituted
me his sole executor, and leaving our little boy his heir. I had but a
short leave of a month, and duty called me again away. It was on the
anniversary of the day the tragedy occurred, after another long
interval of four years in the 'Scourge,' that I again returned, and then
there was wailing and moaning in my own dwelling. My poor Josephine had
never recovered from the shock; she drooped away like a lily, her little
boy by her side, and both died during my absence."

What makes the strong man's eyelids quiver and voice tremble--those eyes
that have looked calmly on death and carnage in every shape, with his
deep, calm voice cheering on the men to battle at his side? Ah!

"It was midnight, and I walked out to the little grave-yard where my
fathers had been buried, and bending my steps to a cluster of magnolias
on a little mound by itself, I--I--a--kneeled down beside the sod where
reposed all I had loved on earth! I do not know how long I remained
there, but presently I heard a groan near by, and a tall man rose up
from where he had been stretched, face downward, on the ground, and I
beheld Paul Darcantel! I could hardly recognize him at first, for he
seemed fifty years older than when we had last parted.

"'Cleveland,' he said, in a hollow, choking voice, 'forgive me! I am a
changed, and, I trust, a better man. I have been drawn to this holy spot
by the same errand which brought you hither, and though I did not expect
to meet you, yet I am glad of it now. Speak, and say you forgive me, and
you will shed a ray of hope and salvation into the heart of one who will
suffer unto the end! Speak!'

"Old memories crowded around me, and I saw before me the child in the
cradle, and with our arms round each other's necks as we played
together. I forgot, for the moment, the sisters lying there--bride,
mother, and baby-boy. The magnolias bowed their white flowers in the
light of the waning moon, and we fell again into each other's arms.

"After a time he said, 'My only friend, I have brought home with me a
little helpless boy; he is named Henry, after you, and will take the
place of the lost little one lying here. Whoever of us survives shall
inherit that estate. Come with me and look at him!'

"He led me to the other mound, and there, beside the tree, a beautiful
child lay calmly sleeping, wrapped in a sailor's jacket, with his curls
escaping from a straw hat, and the head resting on one arm on the grave
beneath him.

"'Be good to him,' Paul went on, 'for the sake of those we have lost
ourselves! His mother's name was Rosalie.'

"He stooped down as he said this, and, raising the boy in his arms, he
kissed him passionately, and then put him gently in mine. 'Let him kneel
sometimes at this grave, my friend, and pray for me.'

"In another moment Paul Darcantel had gone. The little fellow partly
woke, and put his arms affectionately around my neck, and whispered
'Mamma! mamma!' That dashing, brave young fellow ahead there was once
that boy.

"Well, I took the child to the house, where my good mother and sisters
went wild over him, and there he passed a happy boyhood. Years went by,
and he grew apace, the pride and delight of us all; and as he evinced
the greatest fondness for me and the accounts I gave him of my life at
sea, I had him appointed a reefer in the navy. Since that he has seen a
great deal of service; been distinguished in action; and, on shipboard
as well as on shore, liked and respected by all who know him.

"In the mean while his father went away, nobody knew whither, for years
and years. He wrote to me, however, and to his son, from all parts of
the world; and when I made the tour in Europe I spoke about, Darcantel
was my companion. But while there he passed a retired life, never went
into society, but visited every hospital in every sea-port from the
Mediterranean to Aberdeen in Scotland; for he is not only a surgeon, as
I have reason to know, of wonderful skill, but a thorough-bred seaman
too; and when he has been with me on board ship there is no one whose
opinion of the weather, or other nautical matters, do I place greater
reliance on. I could tell you of half a dozen times when his advice to
me has saved serious damage. And during all these years Darcantel's
estates, under the careful supervision of my eldest brother, have been
redeemed from their load of debt, and now he enjoys a noble income--or,
rather, he spends nothing on himself, but devotes it to widows and
orphans, and sick or worn-out sailors.

"In the seventeen years which have gone by since he brought his child to
me he has made several visits of a month or two's duration to the
plantations, but only when Henry was on leave from duty. Then it was a
pleasant sight to see them both together, and the touching air of
affection which bound the youth to his father. Henry, from a child,
often went and prayed beside the grave under the magnolias, and to this
day he believes that his own mother lies buried there. Perhaps it is as
well that he should cherish this early belief; for I may tell you in
confidence, Piron, that we believe there at home that he is the
illegitimate offspring of some erring passion of Darcantel, though none
of us have ever learned it positively from his father's lips. He is not
a person to be questioned by any one, not even by me; and as he seems
anxious to throw a thick veil over the past, we never venture to draw it
aside.

"When, however, I was appointed to my present command, Darcantel
desired to sail with me, and see the West India Islands, which he had
not visited for an age. I was only too happy to have him, especially as
Harry there--whom I love like a father--was named to the little
schooner he had cut out in Africa on his last cruise, and ordered to
join my squadron. But whenever we get into port his father goes
quietly on shore; passes his time, I think, among the sailors of the
foreign shipping, spending money freely among the deserving, and
again coming back in his calm, stern way. He told me, however, Piron,
yesterday, that perhaps he might accept your kind invitation to come
up here, though not for some days. By George!" said the commodore,
"that must be Escondido!"

Piron sighed as if a pleasant dream had vanished.



CHAPTER XLI.

INSTINCT AND WONDER.

    "'Ho! sailor of the sea!
      How's my boy--my boy?'
    'What's your boy's name, good wife,
      And in what good ship sailed he?'"

    "Through the night, through the night,
      In the saddest unrest,
    Wrapped in white, all in white,
      With her babe on her breast,
    Walks the mother so pale,
      Staring out on the gale,
                Through the night!"


As the cavalcade trotted round the curve of the peak, and then walked
the cattle down the steep zigzag road of the beautiful valley, the
commodore said, "But, Piron, tell me who that large man is with the
black hair and blue eyes."

"Why, Cleveland, all I know of him is that he landed at Kingston in a
vessel from the Isthmus of Panama, and is going to Cuba on his way to
England. He came to me, hearing that I was the consignee of old Blunt's
older brig, bound to New Orleans, and so home, to know if he could be
dropped at St. Jago, where he has some property or debts to collect; and
since the old skipper has no objection, he has taken passage in the brig
when she goes with me and my family. I have since met him--he calls
himself Colonel Lawton--at dinners of our set, and he seems to be an
Englishman or Scotchman. Tom Stewart thinks the latter from his accent,
and for his liking for snuff; but Paddy Burns differs, and believes he
don't like snuff, but only takes it to show his splendid box. Any way,
he speaks all languages, Spanish, French, Italian, and English, and can
talk slang in them all like a native. He has served, too, from his own
account, with Bolivar there on the Spanish Main; and he was with
Cochrane in that desperate affair of cutting out the 'Esmeralda' in
Callao Bay. A very amusing, entertaining vagabond he is, and I asked him
to join us to make the acquaintance of my people on our last frolic to
the valley; but, somehow, I am rather sorry that I gave him a passage
with us in the brig, for I don't altogether like his looks."

"Neither do I, Piron; his hair is too black for his light blue eyes.
However, we must make the most of him."

Over the shaky bridge of the torrent, where Jacob Blunt prayed earnestly
for Martha Blunt, and d----d his donkey as if he had never rocked on
water before; Mr. Mouse, with a last tiny kick on the saddle-flaps of his
lofty mule, tumbled off; Colonel Lawton swinging himself from the saddle
of his barb as if he had been part of him; Tom Stewart, Paddy Burns, and
Don Stingo sliding off any way; Harry Darcantel trying to descend in
fine style, and failing miserably; Piron and the commodore doing the
thing leisurely; Jacob Blunt pulled off bodily; while the laughing
blacks took the beasts and led them away.

There were three pair of eyes that watched all this grace and clumsiness
from the windows of the saloon. Two pair of dark ones smiled, and the
pair of blue opened until they seemed like azure globes, and then they
closed until the fringe of chestnut lashes nearly hid them from sight.

"Colonel Lawton, do me the favor to follow my old friend Banou--you too,
Captain Jacob, and Lieutenant Darcantel and Mr. Mouse; Paddy Burns and
Stingo, here, will show you your quarters in the old billiard-room.
Come, commodore, the rest of us will find quarters in the casa."

An hour later the saloon and sala were all alight, and the sashes of the
jalousies closed, for it was cool at times up there at Escondido. There,
too, stood the party of gentlemen, Mr. Mouse being a prominent figure in
the background. Then came a rustling of robes, and as the great folding
doors swung open, the three ladies lit up the saloon in a halo of
loveliness with brighter rays than were shed from the wax-lights in the
chandelier. Two fair hands were placed in those of Cleveland, and the
look which accompanied went back to the happy morning on the old brig's
deck, away off there to sea.

"Oh, monsieur, I can not say how glad I am to see you once more! Let me
present you to my sister, Madame Nathalie Delonde, and _our_ daughter.
Ah! my dear Captain Blunt, both your children before you again, and you
have come to take us away."

"Colonel Lawton, _ma chère_," said Piron.

"And, mesdames," said the commodore, "let me also present my nephew,
Lieutenant Darcantel, and Mr. Mouse."

What caused that woman to start as the girl took the tiny reefer by the
hand, and impulsively clasped those white hands together, while her
heart beat in yearning throbs, and her bosom rose and fell like billows
by the shore? Why did she then raise one hand to her fair neck, and, as
if in a dream, feel for the golden links of the chain, with the other
hand pressed to her panting heart for the locket which once reposed
there? How was it that, bewildered by a mother's instinct, she gazed at
the youth before her, and then turned her eyes hopelessly around in
search of her husband in the crowd?

"Yes, madame. This is my nephew, Henry Darcantel."

"Ah! Henri! Excuse me, _monsieur_. I am charmed to see you!"

Why, now, did the touch of his hand make her heart beat faster, and send
a thrill of joy through her frame? Only be a little calm, madame, for a
while longer, and don't be sad and ponder all night, like your good
Jules Piron does habitually. Wait; Jules will tell you all _he_ knows
when you are alone to-night.

The doors of the sala were thrown open. The broad pennant leading with
Madame Rosalie; the military chieftain marching beside Madame Nathalie,
much to the animosity of Paddy Burns. Then Mr. Mouse convoying
mademoiselle, to the infinite disgust of the commander of the "Rosalie,"
one-gun schooner, formerly the "Perdita." But what made that old negro
in spotless white, standing at the door, jerk his head back and open his
great eyes till there was no black left in them? And why did he blunder
about the table afterward, and pour wine over the colonel's richly-laced
coat, while staring like an ogre at the young blue-jacket opposite? That
old Banou, perhaps, did not like to see his young mistress too much
attended to by every gay scamp who came near her. Oh no; of course not.
But then, if that brawny negro in white had only known over whose arm
and mutilated hand he was pouring light wine in his abstraction, he
would have crammed that heavy cut decanter in powdered glass splinters
down the chieftain's throat. There would have been claret of a different
color spilled then--quantities of it. You needn't feel in your pockets,
colonel, or look round the sala to see if perchance there is a green
silk rope squirming from the ceiling. We don't keep any of those pretty
things out at Escondido. So go on with your dinner, you cold-eyed
scoundrel, and tell all the lies you can to that lovely woman at your
elbow; how you wanted to save Bolivar's life, and it was saved without
you. Don't forget, either, to tell her how that patriot had you drummed
out of his army, suspecting you of having assassinated the officer near
you in the confusion of battle, and robbing him of his watch to replace
the one presented to you by the captain general. Paddy Burns is watching
you, Colonel Lawton, and that whole-souled little Irishman is not the
man to be trifled with. Now remove the covers. But take care, Banou--you
nearly twitched off the military gentleman's hair. Tom Stewart saw it,
and he noticed, too, a broad red seam, like the track of a musket
bullet--honorable wound, no doubt--under your black glossy wig.

Mr. Mouse had fallen desperately in love with the perfumed damsel beside
him, and he knew she was up to her rose-tipped ears in love with him,
oh! fifty fathoms deep; but his mother liked girls, and he would leave
her half-pay! Still he didn't forget his adoration for the roast duck;
and he slyly swigged some Madeira too, with a wary eye on the broad
pennant through the flowers of the épergne. Talked, too, did that
reefer--ay, chattered--and said that the quiet young officer on her left
was very well liked in the steerage, and commanded a pretty little craft
named the "Rosalie." She knew that before, did she? Well, his father was
a cold, stern man, but he was kind and generous, and had been very good
to his poor mother, God bless him!

Commodore Cleveland talked in a low tone, all through the dinner, to the
lady who did not eat at the head of the table, but who occasionally
rested her white hand, with a trustful reliance, on the great
tanned-leather paw of Jacob Blunt, that honest mariner not wishing to
talk to any body, man or woman. That ancient mariner was mentally
cursing donkeys; speculating how he should get back to the "Martha
Blunt" brig, in Kingston harbor; and praying for Martha Blunt, wife,
riding at single anchor near Plymouth beach. Piron took wine with every
body, said a word or two all around the table, and talked to Tom Stewart
about certain business matters connected with the plantation when he had
gone.

Then came the last course, and the dessert of delicious fruits, which
quite stopped Mr. Mouse's mouth, and even his palpitating heart ceased
beating; while Mademoiselle Rosalie nibbled some lady-finger biscuit,
and bent her graceful head to listen to the music of the earnest lips
beside her.

We told you, miss, how it would be; and, in spite of the warning, there
you are--the color coming and going over your girlish cheeks, and never
saying a word! "What a couple that would make!" thought Madame Nathalie.
And what a resemblance in expression there is between them--he with his
dark hair and eyes, and she fair and blue. Be careful, my sweet Rosalie!
And so thought her sister and her sister's husband; Stingo, too, old
Banou, and every one save Tiny Mouse, who had no rivals but Rat, Beaver,
and Martin, and he could take the wind out of their sails any day.

The party of ladies rose from the table, and leaving the men--all
except the captain of the "Rosalie" and Mr. Mouse, who would have
remained had he not seen a shake of the broad pennant's finger--went
into the saloon. Then there was a brilliant prelude on the piano, a
touch of a guitar by stronger fingers, an air from an opera, a song or
two, much conversation--while Reefer Mouse slept on the sofa--and
coffee. Then it was late; every one was fatigued, _bon soirs_ were said,
and the party--coffee and all--separated.



CHAPTER XLII.

TRUTH AND TERROR.

    "In slumbers of midnight the sailor-boy lay,
      His hammock swung loose at the sport of the wind;
    But watch-worn and weary, his cares flew away,
      And visions of happiness danced o'er his mind."

            "And how the sprites of injured men
              Shriek upward from the sod;
            Ay! how the ghostly hand will point
              To show the burial clod;
            And unknown facts of guilty acts
              Are seen in dreams from God!"


In a great square room, standing, as usual, on cocoa-nut stilts, which
had once been used for a billiard-room, were half a dozen iron-framed
cots, ranged along the walls, in which some of the Escondido's guests
were to bivouac. Every thing, however, was tidy and comfortable;
snow-white bedclothes and gauze musquito nets, lots of napkins and
ewers, and things for bathing behind a screen of dimity curtains; and
not forgetting a large table--vice the billiard-table--in the centre, on
which stood plenty of sugar and limes, cinnamon and nutmeg, bottles and
flasks, red and white, and--very little water, in jugs.

The occupants of this bivouac had turned in, and the lights had been
doused. Conversation, however, was kept up, especially by the thin
little voice of Mr. Mouse, who, having enjoyed a nap in the early
evening, and having been danced and tumbled about on the trip to the
lodge by Harry Darcantel, who was in tiptop condition, the reefer was as
wide awake as a blackfish. Don Stingo chanted a few convivial airs and
snored; so did Jacob Blunt, with a spluttering groan intermixed; and
Paddy Burns fell off into a doze, saying blasphemous words addressed to
the world at large, with a mutter against the military, hoping he might
look at a Bolivian patriot edgewise with a friend and companion of his,
Mr. Joe Manton, at his side; he would put an end to any more lies about
charges of cavalry, and cutting out frigates in Callao Bay. That Paddy
Burns would, though he didn't wear a wig and a large sapphire on the
only finger he had left on his left hand, and with a diamond snuff-box,
too! Presented to you by a connection of your family, was it? Take a
pinch out of it? D---- him, no! Begorra, the snuff is not Lundy Foot's,
and the box is brass, sir, brass!

"I say, Mouse, keep quiet, will you, and let me go to sleep!" Harry
Darcantel did not think of going to sleep; that was a fib he told the
reefer; he wanted merely to shut his eyes and dream of--you know who--a
tall, graceful girl with blue eyes and light hair, who looked at him
once or twice such looks that there was no sleep for him for ever so
long. What did she say? Why, she never opened her pouting lips to show
those even pearly teeth. She only looked out of those soft blue eyes.
That was all!

"Mr. Darcantel, I think of getting married."

"The d---- you do! And who to, pray?"

"Why," said Mr. Mouse, as he rolled over and kicked the sheet off his
slate-pencil built legs, "I haven't made up my mind; but do you know
that that pretty girl up there at the big house has taken quite a fancy
to me, and when you were presented to her mother she gave me _such_ a
squeeze of the hand! Oh my!"

Here Mr. Mouse's narrative was cut short by a pillow hitting him plump
on the mouth, clean through his musquito net.

"Very charming young lady, Mr. Mouse," said a quiet voice, in a cool
tone, on the other side of him; "she did seem to take a violent fancy to
you."

Mr. Mouse rolled over, and then, sitting up in his cot, replied, "Yes,
sir! and that was her mother sitting by you when the big nigger in white
capsized the wine over your sleeve, and nearly pulled your a--hair
off."

Look out, Mr. Mouse! If that man there beside you once gives a twitch at
your curls, he'll pull something more than hair--perhaps a little scalp
with it!

"Oh!" was the sound that came back.

"Yes, sir; and the other beautiful lady next the commodore is her
sister. She had a son just mademoiselle's age, who was murdered by
pirates off Jamaica ever so many years ago, and Commodore Cleveland
chased them in a ship he was first lieutenant of--my father commanded
the ship--she was the old 'Scourge.'"

"Hold your tongue!" came from the cot where the spare pillow was thrown
from.

"Ho!" said the military chieftain; but if the room had not been so dark,
the way his eyes opened and emitted an icy glare of surprise would have
made Tiny Mouse shiver with cold.

"Oh dear, yes, colonel, I heard the commodore tell all about it the
other night on board the frigate. He thought I was asleep, but I kept
awake through the best part of it."

"The best part of it?"

"Why, sir, how an old one-eyed Spaniard deceived my father, and sent
him on a fool's errand from St. Jago down to the Isle of Pines, and
afterward how the 'Scourge' chased the piratical schooner in a hurricane
for ever so long, clear away to the coast of Darien, where they blew her
out of water, and killed every scoundrel on board!"

Not every one, Mr. Mouse. There is the very greatest of those scoundrels
grinding his teeth and glaring your way at your elbow.

"What was the name of that cape, Darcantel, where the schooner was
destroyed? No, I won't be quiet; the colonel wants to hear all about it.
There's a good fellow, tell me!"

"Garotte Cape."

The listener slowly raised the mutilated hand, and put the finger with
the sapphire ring to his throat, evidently not liking the name of that
cape, for it caused a choking sensation to utter it--"Ho! Cape
Garotte!"

"Yes, sir; and Darcantel's father here once chartered a vessel, and went
all the way down there to explore the place, and was gone fifteen
months! Wasn't he, Darky?" said the boy, familiarly.

"Mouse, I tell you what it is, if you don't shut up that little flytrap
of yours, I'll make Rat lick you when you go on board!"

"Rat lick me?" said Tiny, as he jumped straight up in the cot; "I gave
him and Martin a black eye apiece only on our last boat-duty day for
saying your father, the doctor, had killed his brother-in-law in a
duel!"

"Hush, my dear little fellow! you did a very foolish thing. There, say
no more on that subject; it gives me pain, my Tiny. So talk on as much
as you like."

"My dear friend," exclaimed the lad, in a broken voice; as he plunged
through his net and put his arms around Darcantel, "I wouldn't grieve
you for the world; but do you suppose, little as I am, that I wouldn't
fight for the doctor, who is so kind to me, and has done so much for my
poor dear sweet mother?"

Here there was a sob as he wound his arms closer round his friend's
neck, and cried like a child, as he was.

"Well, never mind, Tiny; go to sleep, now! I am not angry. There, turn
in!"

"I won't speak another word to-night, Harry, for any soul
breathing--little fool that I am!"

"I beg your pardon, monsieur," said the colonel, in French, with a
slight quiver on his tongue, "but did your father really go all the way
down to Darien out of mere curiosity?"

"Yes, sir, he did go there to see if by any chance one of the pirates
had escaped; and he traveled, too, a good deal about among the Indians,
making inquiries."

"Ho! and did he pick up any information there?"

"Why, sir, I am not positive, but I believe that he got a hint that a
European had wandered over that country who had been wounded in the head
and hand, and was almost naked; but the natives could give him but very
meagre accounts. He continued on, however, down the Isthmus, on the
Pacific side, by sea, as far as Chili, when he went into the interior to
Peru, crossed the Andes, and followed down the Orinoco to Para, when he
sailed again for England."

"Oh! no other motive than curiosity?"

"Perhaps he had; for he once told me he had some old scores to settle
with the man who commanded the pirate, and if he was alive he felt quite
sure he would, one of those days, put him to death. My father, sir, is a
very determined person, and never forgets an oath."

"Truly, monsieur, you interest me. But what sort of a man in appearance
is your father--a doctor, I think you said?"

"He is a tall gentleman of about fifty, sir, though he looks much older;
for he has suffered deeply in early life, when my mother--a--died; but I
shall have the pleasure of introducing him to you, colonel. He is now on
board our frigate at Kingston, and told me he would be up here to-morrow
or the next day."

"Ah! thank you extremely, Monsieur Darcantel. I shall have--a--much
curiosity to see him."

No more words that night; but much thinking and moving of thin lips, and
eyes staring in the dark, wide open. There was low grating of teeth,
too! And a man lay in that large room on a narrow cot, surrounded by a
gauze net; and, so far as mental torture went, it was not unlike a
trestle net we once saw without gauze, where a gaunt frame was
stretched, with myriads of sand-flies, musquitoes, and stinging
insects sucking his heart's blood. Sometimes the eyelids closed, as if
they were a film of ice forming over the blue cold orbs within; and
again the fabric cracked, and they were wide open once more. They
could read, too, those frozen orbs; and like heavy flakes of snow
falling on bloodstained decks, till it covered with a weight of lead the
stark, stiff corpse beneath, they yet tried to pierce into the dark
region beyond. And the heart beat with a slow and measured tramp, like
a moose crunching through the sharp, treacherous crust of snow, and
then stood stock-still! Had a letter, traced with the fingers of an
icicle, been congealed a hundred feet deep in the heart of a toppling
iceberg on the coast of Labrador, those eyes could have read it as
clear as day!

"You infamous pirate, Captain Brand!" it began--"the son of the man who
destroyed the 'Centipede' and her crew, and the boy whom your brutal
mate tore from the mother you saw at dinner to-day, are near you! That
calm, stern, determined doctor, too, whom you laced down on the trestle
for poisonous insects to kill, has been on your track for the past
seventeen years, and will soon hold you in his iron gripe! There will be
no mercy then!"

The eyes closed, the heart stopped beating, and the thin lips and
tongue, as dry as cartridge-paper, now took up the strain, while the
mutilated hand clutched convulsively, as if there were fifty fingers
fingering knives and pistols.

"Shall I assassinate my old doctor, and run the risk of being arrested
and hung? No! He thinks me dead, and I will go back to the island,
redeem my treasure, and pass the remainder of my life tranquilly in the
highlands of Scotland!"

Don't be too sanguine, Colonel Lawton; for, though your ten thousand
pounds in gold is still in the vault, yet there is Don Ignaçio Sanchez,
whose estates have been confiscated, and who has just got out of ten
years' imprisonment in the Moro of Havana, glad to save his neck from
the iron collar, and, without the little jewel-hilted blade up his
sleeve, is now turning about to see how he may redeem his lost fortunes.
Don't be an hour too late, I pray you, Captain Brand, for that sharp eye
of Don Ignaçio has already, perhaps, looked at the shiny cleft in the
crag, and thinks he knows what lies hidden there! Oh, _si_! nothing but
mouldy beans and paper cigars to live upon for ten years, and fond of
more substantial food, even though it were yellow greenish gold,
mildewed by damp, but yet solid and refreshing. _Cierto_--certainly!
_Quien sabe_--who knows?

But be careful, Don Ignaçio! Don't take your old wife with you on that
projected expedition, for you have treated that old woman--who resembles
a rotten banana--badly! You have won back in monté all she ever won by
cheating, besides the half ounces you used to give her for the
Church--cheated her by drawing two cards at a time when you saw the
numerals with that spark of an eye, and when you knew that she would win
if you drew fairly! Yes, you have, you old sinner, for more than two
score of years! And she hates you now--though you don't think it--worse
than you did Captain Brand! Have an eye to that old banana!

So passed that short night--long enough, however, for somebody--and
before the fresh land-wind had woke up to creep down the valley, there
was a mettled barb, with open nostrils, galloping up the broken road as
if he had the devil on his back--as perhaps he had, or Colonel Lawton,
or Captain Brand, possibly all three, but it makes very little odds to
us.



CHAPTER XLIII.

PEACE AND LOVE.

    "And many a dim o'erarching grove,
    And many a flat and sunny cove;
    And terraced lawns, whose bright cascades
    The honeysuckle sweetly shades;
    And rocks whose very crags seem bowers,
    So gay they are with grass and flowers."


It was a delightful breakfast with the merry party at Escondido as they
sat under the wide, cool piazza in the shade, with the sun throwing his
slanting rays through the vines and clusters of purple grapes, and
through the orange-trees, where the yellow fruit was fast losing its
fragrant dew--all the men once more in summer rig, and the ladies in
flowing muslin and tidy caps.

"My dear," said Piron to his wife, "we have lost one of our guests,
Colonel Lawton; he went away at daylight this morning, and left a
message to me, and compliments to you all, that business of importance,
which he had forgotten, demanded his immediate return to Kingston."

There was no sorrow expressed by the lady or her fair sister, and even
the men treated it with indifference, except Mr. Burns, who remarked, as
he snapped a tooth-pick in twain, that, for his part, he was glad the
fellow had gone; he didn't like his looks at all, though he did make
himself so fascinating to the beautiful widow who sat next him.

"Ah! Monsieur Burns, think you I would prefer a scarlet coat when--"

"You might get a blue!" broke in Paddy, with a comical twinkle of his
eye, as he winked in the direction of Commodore Cleveland, who sat
opposite.

"No, no," exclaimed the pretty widow, hastily, as she shook her finger
at her despairing admirer, "that is not what I was going to say--when
those red coats there from England killed my poor husband at Quatre
Bras."

"Ah! yes, my dear--bad luck to them! But an Irishman would never have
been so cruel, you know, though, 'pon me sowl," went on Paddy, as he
stuck a fork in an orange and began to divest it of its peel, West
India fashion, to present it to the matron beside him, "I fear I should
like to kill any man who loved ye, Madame Nathalie, myself."

"What a droll man you are, Monsieur Burns," replied the widow, laughing
outright, "when you know you would prefer a jug of Antigua punch, any
day, to me. Stop, now! didn't you say, at your grand dinner in Kingston,
that you would never allow a woman to darken your doors?"

"I--a meant--a black woman, my dear; as true as me name's Paddy Burns, I
did!"

"What are you two laughing at, my sister?"

"Why, here is Mr. Burns making love to me at breakfast, and before night
he will be abusing me for not pouring enough rum in his punch!"

"That's his caractur, Madame Nathalie; for I, Tom Stewart, am the only
person he ever loved, and he sometimes offers to shoot me for giving him
unco' good advice."

"Howld yer tongue, ye divil ye! and you too, Stingo, or the pair of ye
shall niver taste another sip of the old claret. Ye've ruined me cause
entirely! But I'll lave ye me property, madame, when I'm gone."

"He's been talking of going, Nathalie," said Piron, "for the last twenty
years, and has left his estate to at least thirty women, to my certain
knowledge; but he hasn't got off yet, and--"

"Tom Stewart, ye miserable limb of the law! make out me will this very
night."

Jacob Blunt unclosed his salt-junk mouth, and roared out in a peal of
laughter that would have shivered his old brig's spanker, and caused,
perhaps, Martha Blunt, sposa, to have spanked him, Jacob, had she heard
and seen that mariner wagging his old bronzed face at the lovely woman
facing him.

Mr. Tiny Mouse, who could not touch bottom on his high chair, with his
little heels dangling about, forgetful of discipline, fairly kicked the
broad pennant on the shins of his white ducks, screaming joyously; the
three women made the piazza vibrate with their musical trills; Stingo
and Stewart choked; Cleveland and Darcantel were amused; and old black
Banou looked at his master, and grinned till his double range of teeth
seemed like a white wave breaking at the cove. And then Paddy Burns took
up the chorus, and after one or two Galway yells his friends took him
up, thumped him smartly on the back, and stood him up against one of the
posts of the piazza to have his laugh out. When he did, however, recover
the power of speech, he wiped his eyes and looked around till they
rested on Madame Nathalie, when, with his white napkin held up like a
shield beside his rubicund visage, he spluttered,

"By me sowl, Tom Stewart, I mane what I say; and Paddy Burns's word is
his bond!"

Ay, and so it was, you generous, whole-souled Milesian! And you did this
time make a will. Tom Stewart and Stingo witnessed it, with handsome
legacies therein set forth; and when one night you tumbled down--Well,
we won't mention the particulars; but Paddy kept his word.

As the party rose from the breakfast table to get ready for a stroll
down to the mill and around the plantation, one fair woman's hand was
placed with a confiding, friendly clasp in that of Monsieur Burns; and
then, as a graceful girl reached up to pull down her great flat straw
hat from the post, Paddy Burns kissed her on the forehead, and she
returned it too, as if she knew how to perform that ceremony even before
people. Mr. Reefer Mouse had some thoughts of getting jealous, and
calling Mr. Burns out, at ten paces, ships' pistols, and all that sort
of thing; but the round, red-faced gentleman kissed him too, declaring
the while, as he held him aloft, that he was first-rate kissing--that he
was; nearly as good as mademoiselle, which quite disarmed Tiny's wrath,
and then he hooked on to the damsel's delicate flipper, and tripped away
with her down the valley.

Harry Darcantel exchanged a nod--not of defiance--with Paddy Burns, as
much as to hint that those were not dangerous kisses--oh, not at all;
and passing his hand over his brown mustache, he followed after the
couple before him. Yes, Harry, Tiny's legs will get tired soon, and he
will be hungry, and come back to old Banou for luncheon, while you will
be putting aside the coffee bushes, and imploring mademoiselle to keep
her straw hat about her lovely face, and not to get tanned by the sun.
And when she turns her humid eyes toward you, you begin to believe the
sky is never so blue as those eyes!

Tom Stewart, Stingo, and Burns never walked; they preferred lounging
about the veranda, smoking cigars, and talking over the price of sugar
and coffee, together with minor matters connected with factors' profits
and suits at law. Jacob Blunt leaned over the bridge, thinking of the
"Martha Blunts," brig and wife--not unfrequently confounding the two
together--thinking this was to be his last voyage by land or sea, and
that young Binks, his mate, should take command, and steer that old
teak-built vessel carefully--oh, ever so keerful--or else the old hulk
might come to grief.

Piron and his wife going mournfully down the valley--she with her
mother's eyes gazing far out to sea, and he with his strong arm around
her, whispering words of consolation; both looking, night and morning,
out over the blue water, from chamber and piazza, and seeing nothing but
a breaking wave and a baby-boy drowning beneath it--nothing more!

Madame Nathalie and Cleveland went on gallantly ahead--he with his blue
pennant flying, and she with a black silk widow's ribbon around the
frill of her cap, and a broader band about that muslin waist--talking of
those they had both lost years ago, and trusting they were in heaven, as
they believed they were; hope to meet again themselves in Louisiana, and
see a great deal of one another in time to come--not a doubt of it! Yes,
the cruise was more than half over, and he was quite tired of the sea.
She, however, thought the sea beautiful, and never tired of looking at
it. True, not rolling on top of it all the time--liked to sleep without
rocking.

When the sea-breeze came fluttering up the gorge again, through the
canes and the coffee-trees, and shaking up the superb foliage of the
tropical forest, with the brilliant feathered tribes nestling close
together on the lofty branches, and before the first salt breath had
been exhaled in the clouds about the topmost peaks of the Blue
Mountains, thousands of feet in the air, the party at Escondido had
again returned to the broad piazzas, where, with blinds open, and
swinging in cool grass hammocks, the men took siesta, while the ladies
sought the pretty bowers within.

So passed one happy day, like the one gone before; and before the close
of the week Dr. Darcantel joined the party, to take the place of Colonel
Lawton; and a few days after old Clinker crackled up, very dry and
thorny, with parchment in his pockets to take inventories, and do musty
business generally.

Then the fair women, escorted by the navy men, and the Droger and
Stingo, took their departure for the town house and ships in Kingston,
leaving Paddy Burns, and Tom Stewart, and Clinker with Piron to close up
matters, prior to his leaving the island. Paul Darcantel said he would
remain with them likewise, since he had got through his business in
Spanish Town and Port Royal, and wanted quiet. Madame Rosalie was the
last to leave; and before her husband lifted her into the saddle, they
stood together on the piazza, she looking with that still yearning gaze
over the sea, and seeing nothing but breaking waves. That was the last
look from Escondido!



CHAPTER XLIV.

SNUFF OUT OF A DIAMOND BOX.

                  "Hark! a sound,
                    Far and slight,
                  Breathes around
                    On the night;
                  High and higher,
                  Nigh and nigher,
                  Like a fire
                    Roaring bright."

    "Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace--
    Neck by neck, stride by stride, never changing our place;
    I turned in my saddle and made its girths tight,
    Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right;
    Rebuckled the check-strap, chained slacker the bit,
    Nor galloped less steadily, Roland, a whit."


Another week rolled on. Old Clinker had pounded the parchment down as
flat as last year's palm-leaves, rustling himself like the leaves of an
old book, and began to squeeze out a few dry remarks about earthquakes.
He at last got Paddy Burns, who was a round, fat man, with much blood in
him, in such a state of excitement, by talking about cracks, and yawning
chasms, and splits in the earth, clouds of dust, sulphureous smells, and
beams falling down and pressing people to powder over their wine, that
Paddy declared he thought he was swallowing sawdust and eating dried
codfish at every sip of Antigua punch and suck of orange he took.

Tom Stewart, likewise, said he couldn't sleep a wink for quaking, and
had cut a slice clean out of his chin while shaving, because his glass
shook by a slamming door, and he thought his time had come.

Darcantel said nothing, but he took a quiet fancy to old Clinker, and
talked for hours with him of the effect earthquakes had upon ships, and
especially of general matters connected with the shipping interest,
being withal very particular with regard to the appearance of the
crews.

Piron looked grave, and heard the old clerk out, as if dried fruit were
better than fresh, and limes sweeter than oranges.

Well, they were all sitting over their dessert at their last dinner at
Escondido, for they were all going to leave old Clinker in the morning.

[Illustration: "HIS RIGHT ARM POISED WITH CLENCHED HAND ALOFT," ETC.]

 "Well, Clinker," said Piron, kindly, "don't let us talk any more
about the earthquake. You told me yesterday that you had a note from
Colonel Lawton, saying he would not take passage in the brig with us to
New Orleans, as his business obliged him to leave before we could
sail?"

Clinker choked out something like "Yes," as if it were the last sound a
body could sigh with three or four hundred tons on his back.

"I'm dooced glad to hear it, Piron; for your military friend didn't
enlist my fancy at all, and I don't believe any more of his patriot
sarvice than I do in Clinker's earthquake. That colonel is a baste; and
if my words prove true, I'll lave a thousand pounds to old Clinker
there."

Paddy Burns's words did prove true; and old Clinker was with him when he
gave a quake the earth had nothing to do with, it being entirely of an
apoplectic nature; but he got the thousand pounds nevertheless.

"For once in your life, Burns, I agree with ye; and if that military mon
went to shoot grouse with me in the Hielands, I'd tramp behind him, and
keep both barrels of me gun cocked. The devil take his black wig and his
green eyes! and he passing himsel' aff for a Scot, too! Tut, mon!"

"By the way, Clinker," said Piron, during a pause in the conversation,
"if the colonel is not going with us, I must take him back his
magnificent snuff-box he forgot when he left us so suddenly the other
morning. Here it is, with the letters of his name on it in brilliants. I
thought it too valuable to send by one of the blacks, and I kept it to
carry myself."

How singular it was that the colonel should have forgotten his royal
treasure! Keep your wits about you, Captain Brand, or one of these days
you'll be forgetting your pistols.

"Given to him by a connection of his family, was it, Paddy? Weel, mon,
let's take a peench for the honor of Sackveel Street, and then push it
along to Meester Darcantel."

The doctor was sitting in his calm, grave way, listening to the
disjointed words--like dry nuts dropping on the ground--from the
shriveled lips of Clinker; but as he abstractedly put his fingers in the
box, and turned his eyes languidly as he pushed down the lid, he gave a
bound from his chair--with the box clutched in his left hand--giving a
jar to the room and table that even made Clinker believe the forty-year
earthquake had come before its time.

Standing there, with his tall, majestic figure, like a statue of bronze,
his right arm poised with clenched hand aloft in a threatening attitude,
his dark, grizzled locks bristling above his head, the black eyes
flaming with an inhuman light, as if prepared to crush, with the power
of a god, the pigmies around him, he said, in a deep low voice, which
made the glasses ring and shudder,

"Who owns this bawble?"

"It belongs to a Colonel Lawton who has been staying here!" exclaimed
Piron, quickly and hurriedly.

"What sort of man?" came again from those terrible lungs, without
relaxing a muscle of his frame.

"A square-built, tallish fellow, of about feefty, with greenish-blue
eyes, a black wig, and a glorious sapphire ring on the only finger of
his left hand!" roared Burns and Stewart together.

Again came the jar of the earthquake to make the building, table,
glasses, and all shake, as Paul Darcantel strode with his heels of
adamant out of the sala and to the veranda; then a bound, which was
heard in the room; and after five minutes' stupid silence Banou
appeared.

The buckra gentleman had torn rather than led his master's barb from the
stable, and scarcely waiting for a saddle, had thrown himself like an
Indian across his back. There! his master might hear the clattering of
the hoofs up the steep.

"The mon's daft--clean daft, mon!" "Be me sowl, it's the only pair of
eyes I iver wouldn't like to look at over me saw-handled friend, Joe
Manton!" "He's taken the box with him," crackled Clinker.

But that was the last that Paddy Burns, or Stewart, or Clinker ever saw
of man or box. Piron rose and listened to the sound of the receding
hoofs from the veranda; and when he resumed his place his lips were
sealed for the night. _He_ saw, however, and the rest of them heard a
good deal about the man and the box in time to come.

Did that blooded horse, as he dashed round the curve of the peak, with
his thin nostrils blazing red in the dark night, know who his rider was,
and on what errand he was bound? It was not snuff that distended those
wide nostrils as he plunged down the broken road, through the close,
deep forest, over rocks and water-courses, without missing a step with
his sure, ringing hoofs; and mounting the sharp gorge beyond with the
leap of a stag, his mane and tail streaming in the calm, thick night;
the eyes lanterns of pursuing light, flashing out before his precipitous
tread in jets of fire, as his feet struck the flinty stones, with a
regular, enduring throb from his heaving chest, as an encouraging hand
patted his shoulder and urged him onward.

Down the mountain again, with never a shy or a snort--the horse
knowing the rider, and the man the noble beast; the lizards wheetling
merrily, and the paroquets on the tree-tops waking up to chatter with
satisfaction. Then into the beaten track along by the sea-shore, the
horse increasing his stride at every minute, the spume flying in
flakes from his flaming nostrils, and the man bending to his hot
neck, smoothing away the white foam, until, with a panting stagger,
horse and rider stood still in the town of Kingston.

"Here, my boys, rub this your master's horse down well, and walk him
about the court-yard for an hour. There! Take this between you!"

One last pat of the steed's arched neck, a grateful neigh as the dark
face pressed against his broad head, and Paul Darcantel strode away in
the gray light of the morning.

"Gorra mighty! Nimble Jack, look at dis! Bress my modder in hebben, it
am one gold ounce apiece, sure as dis gemman's name Ring Finger Bill! De
Lord be good to dat tall massa! Him must hab plenty ob shiner to hove
him away on poor niggers!"

Even while the tall man strode on toward the port, and as the happy
blacks were chattering over their yapper, and walking the gallant steed
up and down the paved court-yard, a dull, heavy-sailing Spanish
brigantine was slowly sagging past Gallows Point and the Apostles'
Battery, when, creeping on by the frowning forts of Port Royal, she held
her course to sea.

Very different sort of craft from the counterfeit brigantine, with
clean, lean bows, slipping out from the Tiger's Trap one sultry evening
before a hurricane, which went careering, with a sea-hound after her,
down to the Garotte Gorge. Different kind of a crew too; and Captain
Brand must have remarked the contrast, with his keen, critical, nautical
eye--that is, if he chanced to sail in both brigantines, as there is
much reason for believing he did--with great disgust, on board the
dirty, dumpy old ballahoo now just clear of Drunkenman's Cay, and
heading alongshore for Helshire Point, bound for St. Jago de Cuba.



CHAPTER XLV.

LILIES AND SEA-WEED.

    "Oh leave the lily on its stem!
      Oh leave the rose upon the spray!
    Oh leave the elder bloom, fair maids,
      And listen to my lay!"

    "When descends on the Atlantic
            The gigantic
      Storm-wind of the equinox,
    Landward in his wrath he scourges
            The toiling surges,
      Laden with sea-weed from the rocks."


By day and night, under sun or moon, and in breeze or calm--by the
resounding shore--on the rippling water--in saloon and grove, picnicking
and boating--under vine or awning--all around in the whirling waltz, the
measured contra-danza--amid the tinkle of guitar or trill of piano, the
rattle and crash of the full band on board the frigate--gently rocking
on the narrow deck of the "Rosalie," or down in the brig of teak, there
was ever a white arm linked in the arm of blue--now timidly, then with a
confiding pressure--now a furtive look of blue eyes into dark, then a
fixed, steady gaze from the brown to the light--here a palpitating
pause, and then the blue arms wound around the waving stem--two white
arms clasping, with a passionate caress, the neck of the weed--and, yes!
the lily floating on the white cheek of the pond had been caught by the
strong weed, and with the reacting tide was going out to sea! Ay! the
sailor had won the maiden!

But while the lily rocked hither and thither on the pond, with its blond
leaves and petals of blue, and its pliant stem in danger at every tide,
did the fond mothers watch it from the bank? That they did, thinking of
the time when they were lilies of the pond themselves, with no fears of
danger near. But at last it came, and, like blooming flowers, they swung
to and fro in the rain, dropping a tear or two from their own rosy
leaves--more in dewy sorrow than in fear--and waiting for sunshine;
bending their beautiful heads of roses the while one toward another,
peeping out with their dark violet eyes, and listening, as the wind
shook them, with a tremble of apprehension, and clinging hopefully to
the straight support on which they reclined.

By day and night, in burning sun with not a drop to drink, and in the
sultry night with no morsel of food to eat--through the searing sand in
the streets and lanes, down by the quays--to every vessel in the crowded
harbor--in every hotel and lodging-house in Kingston--up and down
Spanish Town--away off to Port Royal--occasionally going on board the
frigate for gold, then on shore again--in ribald wassail and drunken
dance, gaming hells especially, and low crimping houses, maroon and
negro huts, and wretched haunts of vice--scattering gold like cards,
dice, rum, and water--no end to it--in large yellow drops too--and still
striding on, questioning, gleaming with those revengeful eyes--never
resting brain or body, without drink or meat--went Paul Darcantel.

Oh, Paul, that cowardly villain saw you from the very moment you took
that pinch of snuff out of his blue enameled box--ay, even before, when
you walked your mule slowly up the broken road, while a goaded barb was
curbed back in the gloomy forest till you had passed, with his rider's
finger in his waistcoat pocket. And in all your ceaseless wanderings, by
day and night, that now timid, terror-stricken villain has been
following you; dodging behind corners--under the well-worn cloths of
monté banks--in the back rooms of pulperias--hiding in nests of
infamy--every where and in all places steering clear of you.

Oh, Paul! what a deceived man you are!

And while you are doing all this, just turn your eyes out to the calm
spot off Montego Bay, where that leaky old brigantine is bobbing about.
The dirty, surly _capitano_ kicking and beating the hands from taffrail
to bowsprit, particularly one great tall fellow, without a hat, and but
a few dry thin hairs to shield his skull from the scorching sun; cursing
him, as he puffs a cigarette, for being the most idle scoundrel of a
skulk on board! But he--the scoundrel!--laughing with a hollow laugh up
the sleeve of his filthy shirt, with never a dollar in his belt or an
extra pair of trowsers in the forecastle, with bare feet, and still,
cold eyes, now turned to green--eating nasty jerked beef and drinking
putrid water--never sleeping for vermin--kicked and cuffed about the
decks.

But yet he smiled with a devilish satisfaction, Paul, for he has escaped
_you_, and was bound to St. Jago de Cuba! From there he would
charter--steal, perhaps--a small boat, and run over to the Doçe Léguas
Cays, where there were ten thousand pounds in mildewed gold!--if nobody
had discovered it, which was not probable--and he--the scoundrel!--would
gather it up in bags, and slink away to some other part of the world.

You must be very quick, Captain Brand, for the leaky brigantine does not
sail so fast as the "Centipede," and your ancient compadre, Don Ignaçio,
is just out of prison. His old, fat, banana wife is very sorry for it,
but that's none of your business.

And you, Doctor Paul! don't you pity that flying, dirty wretch, with his
mutilated hand, and soul-beseeching gaze out of those greenish frozen
eyes, where a ray of mercy never entered, but whose icy lids fairly
crack as your shadow stamps across them?

No, not a ray of pity or mercy for the infamous villain; not even a
twitch of the little finger of his bloody, mutilated white hand! No, not
the faintest hope of pity! He shall die in such torments as even a
pirate never devoted a victim.

But you are worn out, Darcantel; your prey has escaped you. The people
think you mad, as you are, for revenge; and though your stride is the
same, and your frame still as nervous as a galvanized corpse, yet flesh
and blood can not stand it. Go on board the "Monongahela," and talk to
that true friend whose counsels you have ever listened to since you were
rocking in your cradle; or take that noble, gallant youth in your arms
and console him--for he needs consolation--and think of the mouse who
gnawed the net years and years ago.

Well, you will, Paul Darcantel; but before you do, you will step into
that jeweler's shop and buy a trifle for old Clinker there, out at
Escondido. You want a ring, the finest gem that can be found on the
island of Jamaica. There it is--its equal not to be bought in the whole
West India Islands, or the East Indies either.

"I gave a military man an ounce for the setting alone, but the
sapphire-looking stone may be glass. He was going to sail the next
morning in a Spanish brigantine for St. Jago de Cuba, and wanted the
money to pay his bill at the lodging-house adjoining. The señor might
take it for any price he chose to put upon it."

What made that old dealer in precious stones and trinkets turn paler
than his old topaz face as he yelled frantically for his older Creole
wife? The señor had seized the ring as he broke his elbows through the
glass cases which contained the time-honored jewelry, and dashed a
yellow shower of heavy gold ounces over the floor of the little shop,
smashing the glass door of that too in his exit! And when the little
toddling fat woman appeared in the most indecent dress possible to
conceive of, with scarcely time to light her paper cigar, she
exclaimed,

"_Es lunatico, hombre! ay, demonio con oro!_ A crazy man--a demon with
gold!" And forthwith she picked up the pieces and looked at them
critically to be sure of their value. "_Son buenos, campeche!_ All
right, old deary; we'll have such a podrida to-day! Baked duck, with
garlic too! So shut the door. There's the ounce you gave the officer man
for the ring, and I'll guard the rest."

That old woman did, too; and that very night she won--in the most
skillful way--from her shaky old topaz, in his tin spectacle setting,
his last ounce, and locked all up in her own little brass-nailed trunk
for a rainy season for them both, together with their daughter's
pickaninnies.

Paul Darcantel whirled and spun round the corners and along the sandy
streets till he reached the landing, moving like a water-spout, and
clearing every thing from his track. There he sprang into the first boat
he saw, seized the sculls, despite the shrieks and gesticulations of the
old nigger whose property it was, and who jumped overboard with a howl
as if a lobster had caught him by the toe, and paddled into a
neighboring boat, where, with the assistance of another ancient crony,
they both let off volley upon volley of shrieks, which alarmed the
harbor, while the boat went shooting like a javelin toward the
men-of-war.

However, those old stump-tailed African baboons found a gold ounce in
their boat after it had been set adrift from the American frigate. What
a jolly snapping of teeth over a tough old goose stuffed with onions
that night, with two respectable colored ladies and a case-bottle of rum
beside them! You can almost sniff the fragrant odor as it arises, even
at this distance. I do, and shall, mayhap, many a time again, in lands
where stuffed goose and comely colored ladies abound.



CHAPTER XLVI.

PARTING.

    "The very stars are strangers, as I catch them
      Athwart the shadowy sails that swell above;
    I can not hope that other eyes will watch them
      At the same moment with a mutual love.
    They shine not there as here they now are shining;
      The very hours are changed. Ah! do ye sleep?
    O'er each home pillow midnight is declining--
      May one kind dream at least my image keep!"


There had been a small party on board the "Monongahela" the night before
to bid the commodore good-by--all old friends of both parties--the
Pirons, Burns, Stewart, Stingo, and Jacob Blunt. Clinker was not there,
for he never went where it was damp, and if he got musty it must be from
mildew on shore. The "Martha Blunt," under the careful management of
young Binks, the mate, with Banou and all the baggage on board, was
being towed by two of the frigate's boats down the harbor, with her
yards mast-headed, all ready to sheet home the sails when the black
pilot should say the land-wind would make and the passengers to come on
board.

The lights were twinkling from lattice and veranda in the upper and
lower town, the lanterns of the French and English admirals were shining
from the tops of their flag-ships, and the revolving gleams from the
beacon on the Pallissadoes Point flickered and dazzled over the gemmed
starlit surface of the water. The awning was still spread on the
after-deck of the "Monongahela;" and there, while the officer of the
watch paced the forward part of the deck with the midshipmen to leeward,
the sentries on the high platform outside and on the forecastle, the
party of ladies and gentlemen stood silently watching and thinking.

There is no need explaining their looks or their thoughts; we know all
about them. How Paddy Burns and Tom Stewart, with little Stingo, were
going over the time, thirty years or more back, when with Piron there,
boys together, they all swam on the beach of that fine harbor. The old
school-house, too, with the tipsy old master, who whacked them soundly,
drunk or sober; their frolics at the fandangoes in Spanish Town; their
transient separations in after life on visits to France or the Old
Country; the hearty joy to meet again and drink Jamaica forever. And now
their companion in tropical heat and mountain shade was going to part
with them, and sail away over that restless ocean, never, perhaps, to
meet again!

Even old Clinker, as he sat on his stem by the old worm-eaten desk, with
his dried old lemon of a face lying in his leaves of hands--with no
light in the dark, deserted old counting-house--looked out between his
fibres of fingers and saw the cradle, with the sleeping twins within it,
while the rafters pressed him as flat as the old portfolio before him.
And now, as a drop or two of bitter juice exuded from his shriveled
rind, he saw those lovely twins floating away, never more to be saved
from an earthquake by old Clinker.

Mr. Mouse, likewise, was wide awake, and hopping about with a kangaroo
step, a little in doubt why Miss Rosalie was so pale, why those blue
eyes were so dim, and why she said to him "Go away, little one," with a
quivering, tremulous voice and hand. Mouse told Rat, and Rat told Martin
and Beaver, that the poor girl was in love with him, Tiny, and that he
would make it all right one of these days, when he got an epaulet on his
little shoulder.

Softly, like the cool breath of a slumbering child, came a faint air
from the land. The bell of the frigate, clanging in its brassy throat,
struck for midnight. The sentinels on their posts cried "All's well!"
The old brig was letting fall her top-sails, and the sound of the oars
in the cutter's row-locks ceased.

"Cleveland," said Piron, quietly, "while the ladies and our friends are
getting into the barge, come down with me in your cabin. I wish to have
a parting word with you."

So they go down.

"Now, my dear friend, you have seen as well as I how wildly those young
people are in love with each other; so has my wife and her sister; and,
indeed, _my_ sweet Rosalie seems more in love with him than our niece. I
have not had the heart to put a thorn in the path of their happiness,
and God grant it may all come right. But, Cleveland, you know that we
come from an old and noble stock, where the bar sinister has never
crossed our escutcheon, and I can not yet make up my mind to an
immediate engagement. This our niece has consented to--Stop, Cleveland,
hear me out. I do not, however, carry my prejudices to any absurd
extent, nor have I spoken on this subject to the girl, and only to her
mother and my wife; but I wish you to explain the way we feel, in your
own kind manner, to your friend's son. Say to him what a trial it has
been to us--how we all love him"--he pressed his handkerchief to his
eyes--"and after he has learned all, if he still persists in urging his
suit when the cruise is over, he shall have our consent and blessing.
Time may work changes in them both; and meanwhile I shall not mention
the matter to our little Rosalie, as we fear for the consequences."

"Spoken like a true father and a noble gentleman, my dear Piron! I have
thought as you and your excellent wife do on this matter; but, like you,
I have not had the courage to give even a hint of warning to Henry. I
shall, however, break the matter gently to him, and send my coxswain for
his father also, whom I have not seen for a week, and who, they tell me,
has been raging about Kingston ever since he ran away from you at
Escondido. His son loves him devotedly, and a word from him will do more
than I could say in a lifetime."

"The ladies are in the barge, commodore," squeaked Midshipman Mouse, as
he popped his tiny head into the cabin.

"Very well, sir. And tell Lieutenant Darcantel that I wish to see him
to-morrow morning, before church service. Come, Piron!"

On the lower grating of the accommodation-ladder stood the commodore,
with his first lieutenant, as the barge shoved off.

"I am heartily obliged to you, Commodore Cleveland," said Jacob Blunt,
"for your kindness to me; and if Mr. Hardy will permit, I'll give the
boats' crews a glass of grog for their trouble in towing the old brig."

Certainly! Jacob knew what was proper under the circumstances, and liked
a moderate toss himself after a hard night's work as well as the lusty
sailors in the boats, and the youngsters, Rat and Martin, who steered
them.

So the barge shoved off, with no other words spoken, though there were
white handkerchiefs wet with women's tears, and red bandanas, too,
somewhat moist; while following in the barge's wake went a light
whale-boat gig, pulled by four old tars, who could make her leap, when
they had a mind, half out of water, for it was in those brawny old arms
to do it. But now they merely dipped the long oar-blades in the water,
and could not keep up with the barge.

They knew--those corrugated old salts--that their gallant, considerate
young captain there in the stern-sheets, with the tiller-ropes in his
hands, who steered so wildly about the harbor, had something more
yielding than white-laced rope in his flippers; and that the sweet
little craft under white dimity, with her head throwing off the
sparkling spray as she lay under his bows, was in no hurry to go to
sea--not caring much, either, to what port she was bound, so long as she
found good holding-ground when she got in harbor with both bowers down,
and cargo ready for another voyage--not she!

Finally, old Jacob Blunt, master, again in full command of brig
"Martha," with Mr. Binnacle Binks catting the anchor forward, all sail
made, sheets home, and every thing shipshape, with a fresh, steady
land-wind, and a light gig towing astern, went steering out to sea,
bound to New Orleans by way of the Windward Passage.

At the first ray of sunrise the gig's line was cast off; and with the
waves breaking over her, those four old sons of Daddy Neptune bared
their tattooed arms--illustrative of ships, anchors, and maidens--and
bent their bodies with a will toward the harbor.

"Take keer, sir, if it's the same to you, or we'll be on that ledge off
the ''Postles' Battery.' It looks jist like that 'ere reef in the
Vargin's Passage as I was wunce nearly 'racked on, in the 'Smasher,'
sixteen-gun brig."

"No fear, Harry Greenfield."

"Beg your parding, Mr. Darcantel, but that 'ere wessel you is heading
for is that old clump of a Spanish gun-boat; our craft is off here,
under the quarter of the 'Monongaheelee.'"

"Oh yes, Charley; I see the 'Rosalie.'"

What made these old salts slew gravely round one to the other, as their
sixteen-feet oars rattled with a regular jar in the brass row-locks, and
shut one eye tight, as if they enjoyed something themselves? Probably
they were thinking of a strapping lass, in blue ribbons, who lived
somewhere in a sea-port town long years ago. But yet they loved that
young slip of sea-weed, whose head was bent down to the buttons of his
blue jacket, his epaulet lopsided on his shoulder, his sword hilt
downward, and his brown eyes tracing the lines of the ash grating where
pretty feet had once rested, while he jerked the tiller-ropes from side
to side, and his gig went wild by reef and point toward the "Rosalie."

When the gig's oars at last, in spite of her meandering navigation by
her abstracted helmsman, trailed alongside the schooner, and while her
crew were cracking a few biscuits and jokes on deck, with the sun high
up the little craft's masts, her captain hurried down to his small
cabin, and changed his rig for service on board the frigate.



CHAPTER XLVII.

DEVOTION.

    "To walk together to the kirk,
      And all together pray,
    While each to his Great Father bends--
    Old men and babes, and loving friends,
      And youths and maidens gay!"

    "Farewell! farewell! but this I tell
      To thee, thou wedding-guest,
    He prayeth well who loveth well
      Both man, and bird, and beast!"


Sunday morning in Kingston harbor. The deep-toned bells from cathedral
and church were wafted off from the town; the troops at Park Camp
marching with easy tread to their chapel; matrons and maidens, with bare
heads, fans, and mantillas, going along demurely; portly judges,
factors, and planters trudging beside palanquins of their Saxon spouses;
negroes in white; Creoles in brown, cigarettes put out for a time; while
swinging censers and rolling sound of organs and chants, or prayers and
sermons from kirk and pulpits, told how the people were worshiping God
according to their several beliefs.

On the calm harbor, too, and in Port Royal, lay the men-of-war, the
church pennants taking the place of the ensigns at the peaks, the bells
tolling, and the sailors--quiet, clean, and orderly--were attending
divine service.

On board the "Monongahela" the great spar-deck was comparatively
deserted--all save that officer with his spy-glassing old quarter-master,
and the sentries on gangway and forecastle. The ropes, however, were
flemished down in concentric coils, the guns without a speck of dust
on their shining coats, the capstan polished like an old brass
candlestick, and every thing below and aloft in a faultless condition.

As Harry Darcantel came rather languidly over the gangway, and went down
to the main deck, where the five hundred sailors in snowy-white
mustering clothes were assembled, Commodore Cleveland beckoned to him
with his finger as he stood talking at the cabin door to his first
lieutenant.

"Hardy, I do not feel well this morning; make my excuses to the
chaplain, and go on with the service. Come in, Harry. Orderly, allow no
one, not even the servants, to enter the cabin--except Dr. Darcantel, in
case he should come on board."

The stiff soldier laid his white-gloved finger on the visor of his hat.
Then the chaplain, standing on his flag-draped pulpit at the main-mast,
with those five hundred quiet, attentive sailors seated on capstan-bars
and match-tubs between the silent cannon, and no sound save his mild,
persuasive voice, as he read the sublime service from the good lessons
before him. Then, after a short but impressive sermon, adapted to the
comprehension of the honest tars around him, with a kindly word, too,
for the sagacious officers who commanded them, he closed the holy book
and delivered the parting benediction.

As he began, a shore boat, in spite of the warning of the sentry at the
gangway, came bows on to the frigate's solid side, and as she went
dancing and bobbing back from the recoil of the concussion, a tall,
powerful man leaped out of her, and, by a mighty spring, caught the
man-ropes of the port gangway, and swung himself through the open port
of the gun-deck. Bowing his lofty head with reverential awe as the last
solemn words of the benediction were uttered by the chaplain, he joined,
in a deep, guttural voice, the word "Amen," and strode on and entered
the cabin.

The curtains were closely drawn of the after cabin, even to shut out the
first whisper of the young sea-breeze which was fluttering in from Port
Royal; and there stood that noble officer, with his strong arm thrown
around the gallant youth--the picture of abject woe--talking in his
kind, feeling accents, trying to console him, painting the sky bright in
the distance, and begging him, by all the love and affection he bore him
through so many years, to be a man, and trust to his good conscience and
his right arm to cleave his way through the clouds and gloom which
surrounded him.

"There, Henry, you are calmer now. Sit down here in my stateroom, and
while you think of that fond girl, give a thought to that poor bereaved
mother, Madame Rosalie, who loves you for the resemblance she thinks you
bear to her little boy, who was murdered by pirates just seventeen years
ago off this very island."

"What do you say, Cleveland?" said a voice behind him, with such deep,
concentrated energy that the commodore fairly started. "What did you say
about a lost child and a Madame Rosalie?"

Paul Darcantel stood there in the softened crimson light, with his
sinewy, bony hands upraised, his gaunt breast heaving, with unshorn
beard and tangled, grizzly locks, the iron jaw half open, and his dark,
terrible eyes gleaming with unearthly fire.

"Speak, Harry Cleveland! For the wife you have lost, speak!"

"My dear, dearest friend, do be calm! Why have you been so long away
from me? I wanted you here, but you did not come. Our poor boy has had
_his_ first lesson in this world's grief, and I have felt obliged to
tell him all--yes, every thing! That the grave he has so often wept
over, under the magnolia, does not contain his mother; and that--"

"Merciful God!" said Paul Darcantel, sinking down on his knees, with his
hands clasped together, while the first tears for more than twenty years
streamed from his agonized eyes. "There is a Providence in it all! That
boy is not my son! I saved him from the pirate's grasp, and that woman
must be his mother!"

Lower and lower the lofty head bent till it touched the deck, the bony
hands clasped tight together, and those eyes--ah! those parched eyes--no
longer dry!

"Paul, Paul, what is this I hear? For the love of heaven and those
angels who are waiting for us, speak again!"

"My father--my more than father, I am not illegitimate, then! No such
shame may cause your boy to blush for his mother?"

While strong and loving arms raised the exhausted man from the deck, and
while he becomes once more the same determined Paul Darcantel, and with
hand grasped in hand is rapidly recounting unknown years of his
existence, let us leave the cabin.



CHAPTER XLVIII.

ALL ALIVE AGAIN.

    "Among ourselves, in peace, 'tis true,
      We quarrel, make a rout;
    And having nothing else to do,
      We fairly scold it out;
    But once the enemy in view,
      Shake hands, we soon are friends;
            On the deck,
            Till a wreck,
      Each common cause defends."


Down in the steerage, where a bare cherry table stood, and upright
lockers ranged around, with a lot of half-starved reefers devouring
their dinner--not near so good or well served as the sailors' around
their mess-cloths on the upper decks--with a few urchins utterly
regardless of steerage grub, and a dollar or two in their little fists,
all nicely dressed in blue jackets and white trowsers, waiting for the
hands to be turned to and the boats manned, to go on shore for a lark.

Abaft in the wardroom, two or three of the swabs, the surgeon's mates,
and the jaunty young marine lieutenant were getting into their bullion
coats and fine toggery, and buckling on their armor to do sad havoc
among the planters' families in the evening, away there in Upper
Kingston. As for the first lieutenant, the purser, the fleet surgeon,
the sailing-master, and the old major of marines, they had been ashore
before, and didn't care to go again; growling jocosely among themselves
on board the frigate, and glad to get rid of the juvenile gabble.

Presently, and before the hands were turned to from dinner, the cabin
bell rang so violently that the orderly's brass scale-plate fixtures on
his leather hat fairly rang too as he opened the sacred door.

"Tell the first lieutenant I want him."

The dismayed soldier forgot to lay his white worsted finger on his visor
as he slammed to the door and marched out on the gun-deck.

"Mr. Hardy, unmoor ship! Hoist a jack at the fore and fire a gun for a
pilot! Get the frigate under weigh, sir, and be quick about it!"

"Ay, ay, sir!"

As Hardy rapidly passed his old cronies, who were tramping along the
deck as he mounted the after-ladder, he said, with a nod,

"By the Lord! I haven't seen the commodore in such a breeze since he
blew that pirate out of water at Darien."

In a minute the "Monongahela's" bell struck two, and the boatswain and
his mates, piping as if their hairy throats would split, roared out,
"All hands!" and a moment later, "All hands unmoor ship!"

"What does that mean?" said a cook of a mess to Jim Dreen, the old
quarter-master, who had just come down from his watch.

"Mean? why, you lazy, blind duff b'iler, it means that I've lost my
blessed dinner."

"Hallo!" says Rat to Beaver, "what's that? Unmoor ship on my liberty
day! I swear I'll resign!"

No you won't, reefers, but you'll trip aloft as fast as your little legs
will carry you--Mouse in company--up to the fore, main, and mizzen tops,
and squeak there as much as you like; but jump about and look sharp that
nothing goes wrong, or Mr. Hardy will be down upon you like a main
tack.

Bang from the bow port and the union jack at the fore!

"God bless my soul, fellows, this is the most infernal tyranny I ever
heard of!" came from the wardroom; "all of us engaged to dine and dance
in Kingston this evening, and--"

"It's 'All hands up anchor, gentlemen!'" and away they all went.

Down went the mess-kids, and down came the awnings, and up came the
boats to their davits; in went the bars to both capstans, the nippers
clapped on, and the muddy cables coming in to the tunes of fifes; while
above the running gear was rove, the Sunday bunts to the sails cast off,
and the five hundred sailors dancing about on the decks, spars, and
rigging of that American double-banked frigate, as if they could always
work her sails and battery to the admiration of their good commodore
there, who was looking at them from the quarter-deck.

"Massa captan," said the shining ebony pilot, in his snowy suit, as he
took off his fine white Panama hat, "dis is de ole pilot, sa, Peter
Crabreef--name after dat black rock way dere outside. Suppose you tink
ob beating dis big frigate troo de channel? Unpossible, wid dis
breeze!"

"Peter Crabreef," said the old sailing-master, to whom these observations
were addressed, "you had better not give such a hint to that gentleman
there in the epaulets; for if you do, you'll never see Mrs. Crabreef
again! You had better keep your wits about you, too, and plenty of
water under the keel, for the commodore is fond of water!"

"Sartainly, massa ossifa! I is old Peter, and never yet touch a nail of
man-of-war copper battam on de reefs!"

On board the pigmy black schooner near, half a dozen old salt veterans
were squinting at the flag-ship and holding much deliberate speculation
as to what all the row meant. Old Harry Greenfield, however, with Ben
Brown, who were the gunner and boatswain of the little vessel, observed
that, "In the ewent of our bein' wanted, ye see, Harry, it will be as
well to have the deck tackle stretched along for heavin' in, and get the
prop from under the main boom."

Even as they spoke, a few bits of square bunting went up in balls to the
mizzen of the frigate, and, blowing out clear, said, as plain as flags
could speak, "Prepare to weigh anchor!"

At the same moment the "Rosalie's" gig came bounding like a bubble over
the water with the tall gentleman beside the young commander in the
stern-sheets. There was a great, nervous, bony hand now holding his, but
with as an affectionate pressure as the soft dimpled fingers he himself
had held the night before. Gig not steered at all wild now, but going as
straight as a bullet to the schooner.

The stirring sounds of the fifes as the sailors danced round with the
bars in the capstans, with a beating step to keep time to the lively
music, were still heard on board the frigate, and then came from the
forecastle,

"The anchor's under foot, sir!"

"Pawl the capstan! Aloft, sail-loosers! Trice up! Lay out! Loose away!"
Almost at the instant came down the squeaks from aloft of, "All ready
with the fore! the main! the mizzen!" "Let fall--sheet home! hoist away
the top-sails!"

Again were heard the quick notes of the fifes on both decks, and in less
than five minutes more the anchors were catted, and the "Monongahela,"
under a cloud of canvas, began to move.

But where was the "Rosalie," late "Perdita," all this time? Why, there
she goes, with never a tack, through the narrow strait, lying over under
the press of her white dimity like a witch on a black broomstick, as she
shoots out to sea.

And who is that tall man, on that narrow deck, clapping on to sheet and
tackle, though there was no need of assistance, or skill, or seamanship
to be displayed on board that craft, except by way of love of the thing?
And why does he, during a pause when there was nothing more that could
possibly be done, stand by the weather rail, shaking a great huge old
seaman by both hands till he almost jarred the schooner to her
keel?--Ben Brown, the helmsman, whom you have heard of on board the
"Martha Blunt," who, by some accidental word he dropped near to the tall
gentleman, caused that hand-grasping collision.

It was not another five minutes before the other thirty-nine old
sea-dogs knew all about every body, and where they were bound, and so
on. They did not care a brass button for the thousand silver dollars
they were to have from the tall gentleman--not they! They wanted merely
to lay their eyes along that Long Tom amidships, and to have a cutlass
flashing over their shoulders--so fashion! Pistols and pikes! Fudge!

But where was the "Martha Blunt?" Oh, that old teak brig was bouncing
along past Morant Point, with a good slant from the southward, pretty
much where she was some seventeen years before, with a few more
passengers in her deck cabin, reading their Bibles, and praying for
those who go down to the sea in ships on that Sabbath day--one looking
with her sad eyes out of the stern windows, and another doing the same,
and both thinking of the same boy who had been dashed out of one of
those windows; and though both of them knew the other's thoughts, yet
they did not dream they were thinking of the same person at the time.

And where was the Spanish brigantine, with the exacting _capitano_--who
was a slaver in dull times--and his pleasant mate, who would think no
more of sticking a knife into you than he did of kicking that skulking,
icy-eyed sailor on board--detesting as he did the entire Saxon race ever
since Cadiz was bombarded--and feeding him on rotten jerked beef? There
were no prayers, only curses, on board that brigantine as she dropped
anchor in St. Jago that fine Sunday morning.

And where was our ancient one-eyed mariner, formerly in command of the
colonial guarda costa felucca, the "Panchita," named after his fat
banana of a sposa? Oh, the Don--simply Ignaçio now--had had a quiet
confab with the deputy administrador all about some treasure which he
knew was concealed, and where--for he had seen with his bright eye the
light of a torch in a cleft of a crag--and he would go shares with that
official if he would give him a little assistance.

"_Oh, cierto!_" Why not? And there was an old launch, with a torn lateen
sail, which Columbus might have been proud to command; and, in this fine
weather, he might sail back to Port Palos in her.

Oh yes! But, to keep all secret, he would merely take old Pancha, his
wife, for crew. And so, with a few bundles of paper cigars, and some
dried fish and water--the only property they possessed, save his eye
and a pack of cards, and those valuables rescued with difficulty--they
sailed the night before the blessed Sunday. _He_ never came back,
though. No blame attributable to the eye--that was as bright and
wary an old burning spark of suspicious fire as ever; but then old
Pancha held the cards, and this time she won. Very singular it was,
_cierto_. If Ignaçio had not gone back again for another bag which
was not there, why, the _sota_ of a knave being the next card--Ah! we
won't anticipate.

But we are all alive yet, except those murdered women, whose white coral
head-stones still stand up there in the cactus, and poor Binks, and
those slashing blades of the poisonous, many-legged "Centipede," who
were eaten by the sharks--all alive the rest of us, and wide awake!



CHAPTER XLIX.

THE ROPE LAID UP.

    "The captain is walking his quarter-deck
    With a troubled brow and a bended neck;
    One eye is down the hatchway cast,
    The other turns up to the truck on the mast."

    "The breeze is blowing--huzza, huzza!
    The breeze is blowing--away, away!
    The breeze is blowing--a race, a race!
    The breeze is blowing--we near the chase."


Well, the positions of all hands were simply these. The icy-eyed man,
without snuff-box, or ring on that mutilated flipper, with two under
pockets in his shirt, and something in them, a pair of filthy old canvas
trowsers, and no hanger by his side, where there had been so much
hanging in the good old times, slipped overboard like a conger eel, and
swam on shore at St. Jago de Cuba. Without a _real_ of wages--for he was
to work his passage--and because he didn't feel inclined to work, the
_capitano_ in command assisted his agile subordinate to kick him all the
voyage.

Had, however, the mate presented that cold eel his knife for a moment
before he jumped overboard and squirmed to the shore, that cuchillo
would have found a redder sheath than the crimson sash which usually
held it. Fortunately perhaps for the mate, he was not of a generous
disposition, save with kicks and ropes'-ends, or else he might have
regretted his philanthropy.

So soon as the icy-blue man had congealed, as it were, in the sun until
he was quite dry and frozen again, he slunk away to the ditch of the old
fort, where he thawed till nightfall, and then entered the town; hanging
round the pulperias, smacking and cracking his parched lips for a
measure of aguardiente, only two centavos a cup, and not caring for that
fine, generous, pale, amber-colored old Port sent to him by the good
Archbishop of Oporto! But, not having the copper centavos--though his
own coppers stood so much in need of moisture--he continued to skulk
on.

Presently, coming to the wide streets and to the outskirts of the town,
he spied a large mule, ready caparisoned for the road, hitched to the
door of a house, waiting for his owner to mount him. The icy green-eyed
individual, disgusted for the time with blue salt water, and being, as
we know, a capital cavalry-man--in dashing charges among the patriots,
and caprioling also up the Blue Mountains to Escondido--thought he would
take another gallop on the dry ground, just to keep his hand and little
finger in; so he quietly cast off the mule's painter, and flung his
canvas legs over the beast as if he belonged to him. And so he did; for
he told the man at whose place he passed an hour or two that night, and
who thought he knew the master to whom the mule had once belonged, that
it had been presented to him by an old friend, whose name--as had the
mule's--escaped him.

All this time the one-eyed man, with his banana woman, Pancha, were
creeping along the water part of the land--with the Peak of Tarquina in
sight--toward Cape Cruz, bound round that peninsula, and so on to the
Doçe Léguas Cays; while the man on the mule navigated by the Sierras del
Cobre of St. Jago, steering by bridle for Manzanillo, and then to take
water again for the same secret destination.

The cargo that both expected to take in there was about ten thousand
pounds sterling in mildewed coin of various realms and denominations;
but it was there, and would pass current any where.

So they sailed and navigated. It was tedious work, though; and it took a
week for the old launch with the torn sail to get into the Tiger's
Trap--fine weather, and no sea--and there make fast to the rocks. At the
same evening hour the mule with his passenger planted his fore feet,
like a pair of kedges over his bows, in the fishing village near
Manzanillo, and foundered bodily, going down with his freight slap-dash
in the mud. The passenger, however, escaped, and skulled along by the
shore, where he fell in with a poor fisherman who was about to shove off
in his trim, wholesome bark for professional recreation on the Esperanza
bank.

Glad was old Miguel Tortuga to have a strong man to assist him for the
privilege of joining in a sip of aguardiente and catching a red snapper
or two; so they jumped on board and spread the sail.

Had old Miguel, however, seen the sharklike eyes of his assistant in the
sunlight, or dreamed what a snapper was about to catch _him_, he would
not have gone fishing that night, and it would have saved him much
tribulation at daylight the next morning, when he was picked off a small
rock by a fisher acquaintance of his from Manzanillo.

But we have nothing to do with old Miguel; and need only say, to console
him, that his stanch boat went safely through the blue gateway of the
roaring ledge of white breakers, and late Sunday night lay calmly in the
inlet abreast Captain Brand's former dwelling.

To go back again for a week, the "Monongahela"--double-banked leviathan
as she was--came plunging out to sea from Kingston, every man and boy,
from Jack Smith on her forecastle to Bill Pump in the spirit-room, and
from Richard Hardy to Tiny Mouse, knowing from the first plunge the
frigate made what they all sailed for.

With her proud head toward the east, she went dashing on past the White
Horse Rocks, and woe to the small angry waves which did not get out of
her way, for she smashed them contemptuously in foaming masses from her
majestic bows, sending them back in sparkling spray and bubbles to hiss
their angry way to leeward in her wake. On she went, far off to sea,
where the trade wind was strongest, disdaining gentle zephyrs near the
land, with her great square yards swinging round at every watch while
beating to windward--the tacks close down, yards as fine as they would
lay, and the heavy sheets flat aft.

Every evening the surgeon, the purser, the chaplain, the major, and the
old sailing-master were in the cabin, going over the chase of a certain
pirate in a schooner "Centipede" away down on the Darien Coast, with
Cape Garotte there under their lee, and the vultures and the sharks
grinding the bones and tearing the flesh of the half of a man with the
tusk gleaming out of his wiry mustache; and the padre, with his eyes
staring wide open, and the crucifix, borne away by the carnivorous birds
of prey.

All of those dreadful particulars, together with matters that had gone
before--of a lost boy, a heart-broken mother, and a murdered mate, Mr.
Binks, on board the brig "Martha Blunt"--the party at Escondido, the
snuff-box, and Paul Darcantel--all about him, too, from the tragedy on
the plantation, his despair, and reckless life afterward, when he served
in slavers, where he did something to allay the sufferings of the poor
wretches; and afterward how he was trepanned to the "Doçe Léguas," went
a cruise with Mr. Bill Gibbs, whose leg he hacked off with a hand-saw,
not knowing at the time about the locket; the little child he had saved;
how that child had saved him from his torture on the trestle with his
mouselike teeth; how he had wandered the wide world over searching and
searching for the mother of that boy!

And there the boy was--the manly, brave young fellow now--whom officers
and sailors had always loved, flying away with the dark doctor--no
longer Darcantel, but Harry Piron--with his fond father and mother in
the distance, and the sweet girl he adored with her blonde head resting
in her mother's lap.

[Illustration: THE OLD WATER-LOGGED LAUNCH.]

Ay, every soul in the ship knew all about it, and talked of it, and
drank to the happiness of the young couple--all save Dick Hardy, who
moved energetically about the frigate's decks, with his eyes every
where, below and aloft, prompt, sharp, and quick, quite like Cleveland,
there, beside him, when they were together in the old "Scourge"
during the hurricane, and chased, to her destruction, the "Centipede."

"Sail ho!" sang out the man on the fore-top-sail yard.

"Where away?"

"Right ahead, sir. A brig on the starboard tack!"

Ay, the old "Martha Blunt" bouncing along under all sail, squaring off
at the short-armed seas, and striking them doggedly, as she beat up for
the Windward Passage between Hayti and Cuba.

But there was an old sea-bruiser of a different build, who wore the belt
in the West Indies, and was after that sturdy old brig with teak ribs
for a hearty set-to; and when she came up alongside, in the friendly
sparring-match which ensued while both squared their main yards, and lay
for an hour side by side, there was considerable conversation; so much
talk, in fact--boats going to and fro, mingled with roars and shrieks,
and clasping of hands on board the brig--never a sound on board the
ship--that the blue pennant fluttered in such a way it was hard to tell
whether it was Jacob, or Piron, or the sweet wife, or mademoiselle, or
her lovely mother, who threw their arms around that pennant's truck.

Then yard-arm and yard-arm, the frigate with her canvas canopy of upper
sails furled, and the brig in her best bib and tucker, they both filled
away and moved side by side.

For a day or two they went on, talking and laughing to one another in
these friendly shakes of the hand over blue water, until one day, the
brig being to windward, she came upon an old water-logged launch, with a
broken mast and a torn sail hanging over her side.

It fell calm, and Jacob Blunt ordered young Binks to get into the yawl
and tow the boat alongside, and to be smart about it; for the breeze
might make so soon as the fog rose, and the commodore was not the man to
be kept waiting in a big frigate. Mr. Binks was smart about it, and
presently he returned--though there was no hurry, for the calm lasted a
long time--with his water-logged prize.

There was no human being in this prize; but when she came alongside, and
a yard tackle was hooked on to let the water drain out of her, Jacob
Blunt and the people on board gave a pleasant yell of astonishment.

It was not the soiled pack of Spanish cards, or the few bundles of
saturated paper cigars floating about, which caused this excitement. No,
it was several canvas bags lying there in the stern-sheets, strapped
with strands of a woman's red petticoat to the empty water-cask beneath
the thwarts; and not one of those canvas bags, or what was in them,
injured in the least by salt water. Very carefully were those bags--and
they were weighty--lifted on board the brig, over the rail where the
pirates swarmed some long years ago, on to the quarter-deck; and then
there was another joyous shout from Jacob Blunt, as when he had hailed
the trade wind in that long past time.

"By all that's wonderful, here is my old bag of guineas, and some few
Spanish milled dollars! Look at the mark, my darlings!"

Another weighty bag was set aside for Mrs. Timothy Binks, and the rest
were devoted, with some large doubloon reservations for crew, to Martha
Blunt and Jacob Blunt in their declining years.

Then, the weather being still calm and foggy, Jacob and his passengers
went on board the double-banked frigate for church service, where they
all prayed with much hope and thanksgiving for what had passed and what
was to come; and then they went into the commodore's cabin, where they
remained ever so long a time.

Let us go back this same week again--a very long seven days it has been
for every body, particularly so for the icy-eyed man, who was extremely
anxious, as he kicked and lashed his mule, and kept looking round the
south side of Jamaica, from Portland Point to Pedro Bluff and San
Negril, throwing a ray of cold frost there day and night, expecting that
tall doctor to come striding along in that deep water, heading due
north.

And at last the dark figure hove in sight, in the schooner "Rosalie"--the
sweet little craft skimming exultingly over the seas, kissing them
occasionally with both her dainty, glistening cheeks, reeling joyously
over on her side, with her tidy dimity laced and spread in one flat sheet
of white, while the slender arms bent like whalebone to the freshening
breeze, and she left the dancing bubbles sparkling and flashing lovingly
in her wake.

Two hundred miles to go, and the breeze fell from fresh to light, until
at last, shrouded in a thick fog, one Sunday morning, when there was no
air at all, only a flat calm, the sea as smooth as a glass mirror with
the quicksilver clouded.

Then out sweeps, my lads! Ten of a side, and two of those bronzed old
lads at each sweep! All except the two after ones, where Ben Brown and
the tall doctor handled one apiece.

Thus, with sails down and bare arms, the light little "Rosalie"
continued gliding rapidly over the mirrored surface--a little ashamed of
herself, perhaps, at being seen in such a scanty rig--while her
commander guided her graceful course, and Harry Greenfield peered about
forward to see that no harm should arrest her dainty footsteps.

Presently was heard the toll of a bell. The sweeps paused, the hide
gromets resting on the thole-pins, and the water raining from their
broad blades.

"That must be a man-of-war off here on the quarter," exclaimed the young
officer at the tiller, "ringing for church."

The old seamen at the sweeps unconsciously took off their hats, wiped
the sweat from their brows, and listened.

"It can hardly be the 'Monongahela,'" said Ben, "though p'raps she took
more of a breeze to wind'ard, off the island."

Still the schooner glided on noiselessly over the sea, until, a minute
later, Harry Greenfield sang out,

"Port, sir! or we'll be plump into a vessel here ahead."

The helm was put down, and the "Rosalie" sheered off to starboard within
a biscuit-toss of a large brig.

"By my grandmother's wig!" said Ben, "that's the old 'Martha Blunt!'"

"Henri," said Paul Darcantel, in French, in his deep voice, "the last
request I shall ever make is to keep on. There is not a moment to
lose!"

"Give way, men!" shouted the officer, in a decided tone, as the words
came with a stifled gasp from his heaving breast, while the sigh that
followed was drowned in the splash of the sweeps in the water as they
again chafed in their gromets, and the foam flashed away from the blades
astern.

But there was another splash. A white object sprang with a bound over
the brig's quarter, dipping below the surface of the calm sea, and when
it came up, two great flippers, with a large black head between them,
struck out like the paws of an alligator, breasting the water with a
speed that soon brought him within a few fathoms of the schooner's low
counter. Then, seizing hold of the slack of the main sheet, which was
thrown to him, he came up, hand over hand, as if he could tear the stern
frame out of the schooner. A vigorous grasp caught him by one paw, and,
with the other laid on the taffrail, he leaped on deck as if his feet
had pressed a springboard instead of the yielding water.

Again, as in the olden time, he held his little Henri aloft in his giant
arms; but this time it was Banou who was dripping from a souse, and not
his little master.

"Give way, my souls! Another thousand dollars if we get up to the Key
before dark!" said the deep, low tones of the tall doctor.

"Good Lord!" roared a voice from on board the brig, now shut up again
all alone in the fog--"if that old nigger has not gone and jumped
overboard, my name's not Binks!"

"All right, Mr. Binks; Banou is safe! Send a boat on board the
'Monongahela,' and report that the schooner 'Rosalie' has passed ahead,"
went back in a clear note.

It was some considerable time before Binks could believe that he had not
been hailed by David Jones himself, for he had seen nothing, being at
the time in the lower cabin reading his Bible, and writing his name,
"Binnacle Binks, Master of brig 'Martha Blunt,'" on the fly-leaf; and he
was only disturbed in this praiseworthy occupation by a heavy body
plunging overboard, and by one of the drowsy crew, who had, with his
comrades, been sleeping near, reporting that circumstance with his eyes
half shut.

Then young Binks took considerable more time to get a boat lowered, and
send her, with the cabin-boy, to the large frigate close on his beam,
whose bell had just struck seven.

The boat, too, with four sleepy hands to pull her, took considerable
time to find the ship, and then the whistles were piping to dinner, and
all the good people from the brig, with the flag-officers, had retired
to the commodore's cabin for luncheon.

When Jacob Blunt heard the news, regardless of sherry and cold tongue,
he himself got in his boat, leaving his passengers in an excited frame
of mind, but rather comfortable on the whole, and returned to the teak
bosom of his "Martha."

There he took young Binks firmly by the shoulder, and walked him aft to
the rail where his father--long since dead and murdered--had been used
to sit and sing sailor ditties.

Then he impressively told him that "this 'ere sort of thing wouldn't do!
even if he was a readin' the Bible, which was all very good on occasion,
sich as clear weather out on the broad Atlantic; but in fog times, when
schooners was creepin' about in among the Antilles, and partick'larly
off Jamaiky or the south side of Cuby, mates and men should be wide
awake and lookin' every wheres. And harkee, Binnacle! when you commands
this 'ere old brig, or maybe a bran-new 'Martha Blunt,' and me and my
old woman lying below together in narrow cabins, you must bear in mind
these my words! Well, my boy, don't rub that 'ere sleeve over your eyes
no more, and it will be all right."

Young Binks promised "that from that 'ere minnit he would never sit on
no rails, or sip no grog, or even read his old mother's Bible when he
wos on watch, but always be as keerful as if there wos no lady
passengers or children on board, or bags of shiners in the lower cabin
stateroom--that he would! And his blessed old second father might take
his davy he, young Binks, would never be caught foul again."

Meanwhile the girlish schooner tripped away far out of sight, and when
the fog lifted and the breeze came to blow it to leeward she was once
more tidily dressed in snowy white, and splashing the water from her
black eyes, as the last rays of the setting sun showed her the Tiger's
Trap in the distance.

"Henri, my boy, put your arms around me again as you did when I lay in
torture on the trestle on that island. Have no fears for me; we shall
meet again. There! now listen to me. Here is a packet which I wish you
to carry to Porto Rico with this letter. The old judge is alive, I
think, to whom this letter is addressed, and it may perhaps soothe his
declining years. I wish to take your little gig, with Banou and Ben
Brown--no more force--and if, as I believe, that villain has returned to
his former haunt, I will fulfill my oath to its very letter. Meanwhile,
so soon as we have shoved off, while the breeze still holds, run down to
the frigate--she is not three leagues off--and you will be in your
yearning parent's arms, and those of the girl you love, before they
sleep. There! I know you will think of me. Farewell!"



CHAPTER L.

ON A BED OF THORNS.

    "An orphan's curse would drag to hell
      A spirit from on high;
    But oh! more horrible than that
      Is the curse in a dead man's eye!"

    "O Heaven! to think of their white souls,
      And mine so black and grim!"


"Ho, ho!" said Captain Brand, as he stretched out his straight legs in
their canvas casings on the sand of the little cove, "safe and sound,
and not a soul to share this nice supper of that good old man Miguel!

"Ho, ho!" continued he; "here at last! No Babette to cook for me--no
'Centipede'--nothing but that stanch little boat presented me by that
generous fisherman, who, I fear, is drowned by this time. Well, let us
enjoy ourselves! Excellent real snapper this! Sausage rather too much
garlic perhaps; but the brown bread and the aguardiente unexceptionable.
Blaze away, my little fire; your sticks cost me much labor to dig out of
my once comfortable house, but you are better than gunpowder any day.

"Just to think of the years that have passed! That great bank of sand
there over the sheds, nearly as high as the crag, where my brave fellows
once caroused; the young cocoa-nut springing up on the crag itself--not
a vestige of my old habitation left, or the bright blades or pleasant
guests to dine with me!"

Here there was something of the old cold murderous scowl on the
captain's face as he twisted the point of his nose.

"Ah! yes, there may be my wary-eyed Sanchez left, though the last
I heard of him he was in the Capilla dungeon of the Moro. And
that"--grating his teeth, and glaring with his icy eyes at the
fire, as if those two blocks of ice would put it out--"cursed
doctor who pursues me!

"Well, well, neither of those old friends are here yet, and before
another sun sets I shall bequeath the old den to them both! Ho, ho! with
those solid bags of clinking metal, I shall leave them as much sand and
rocks as they choose to walk over. What a sly devil I was to stow that
treasure away for a rainy day! Never told a living being! Poisoned the
fellow, too, who made the lock! Capital joke, 'pon my soul!"

This was the very last of the very few jokes that Captain Brand ever
enjoyed.

"And, now I think of it, I wonder if my thirsty old mate's bones are yet
lying there in the vault. What _was_ his name? such a bad memory I have!
Oh! Gibbs--Bill Gibbs--with one leg! Ho, ho!"

Here Captain Brand drained some more aguardiente out of a cracked
earthen pot, and slapped his fine legs with rapture.

"And those dear girls who married me! Lucia, too!"

The dirty wretch started as the wing of a sea-bird swooped down over the
pure inlet; and he thought he saw a white fore finger beckoning him on
to his doom.

"Pshaw!" said he, smoothing down his filthy tattered shirt with the
finger of his mutilated left hand, "how nervous I am! But what a bungle
Pedillo made of that marriage! And my good Ricardo, too! What a feast
the sharks must have had on his oily, well-fed carcass! Misericordia!
Ho, ho! I believe I'll bid my friends good-night."

Captain Brand stretched himself out at full length on the shelly strand,
his boat secured by a clove-hitch round his right leg, which rode calmly
in the little inlet; his bald head, with the few dry gray hairs on his
temples, resting on Miguel's sennit hat, and the thin scum of frosty
eyelids drawn over his frozen eyes--cracking their covering at
times--until at last the pirate, aided by fiery aguardiente, slept.

A few late cormorants and sea-birds sailed over him in his fitful
slumber, and uttered a cold cry, as if their pecking-time had not come
yet, but would shortly, as they sought their silent retreats on the wall
of rocks opposite.

And Captain Brand dreamed, too--of the old laird, his father, in prison;
his mother weeping over forged notes; the sleeping, unsuspecting people
he had treacherously murdered; the pillages he had committed; the men he
had slain in open conflict; those he had executed with his own private
cord; the poor woman who had died in worse torments, when, indeed, even
knife or pistol, rope or poison, would have been a mercy; the agony and
sufferings of those who survived them; with all the concomitant horrors
which make the blood run cold to think of, and which made the pirate's
almost freeze in his veins--living years in minutes--did Captain Brand,
as he lay there on the chill sand in his troubled nightmare of a sleep.

"Ah! _Dios! Dios!_" chattered the Señora Banana Pancha, at the other
outlet to the inlet, rolling over on the ledge of the rocks at the
Tiger's Trap.

"What has become of my Ig--Ig--naçio--the one-eyed old villain who has
persecuted me for forty years? Why did I cut the old launch adrift
before I got in myself? And here I am alone and desolate on this cursed
island, and my Ig--Ig--naçio--bless his spark of an eye--not come back
to me! Ah! _Dios! Dios!_ what has become of the little man? He will kill
me, _cierto_, when he comes back and finds the boat gone with all the
money, which nearly broke his thin back to bring here; but, _Dios!
Dios!_ I am dying of thirst, and not a shred of dried fish or jerked
beef has gone into my old mouth--"

Yes there has, Doña Pancha, for just then a piece of hawser-laid
rope--rather dry, perhaps, for mastication--was placed across your
crying mouth that you might bite upon, if you would only stop your old
tongue.

For while you were screaming on the rocks, and yelling for your
Ig--Ig--naçio, who went back for the last bag of gold that wasn't there,
a light gig glided in like a blackfish, and a bigger blackfish jumped up
and stopped your old mouth, Pancha, with that bit of hide rope. But if
you will keep quiet, Pancha, and not exorcise Banou for the Evil One,
that old nigger will give you a cup of liquid not known in the devil's
dominions, and treat you also to some white biscuit to nibble upon.

Ah! you will, eh? and tell all about that thin curl of smoke, which you
believe to have been made by that coal-eyed Ig--Ig--naçio, away up there
by the inlet? Now keep quiet again, old Lady Banana; and while your
screaming mouth is gagged, don't cut this small gig away, or else she
may navigate herself out to sea, as did your Ig's launch, and you be
left desolate again.

The tropical night was still; the lizards wheetled, the breakers roared
on the outer ledge, the ripples washed musically on the shelly shores,
the alligators flapped about on the surface of the lagoon, the insects
buzzed around the mangrove thickets; and as the gray dawn of morning
appeared, and the rain began to fall, a steaming hot mist arose, through
which the sea-birds flapped their wings and sailed away in search of
their morning's meal. The sharks and the deep-sea fish, however, lay
still and motionless low down by the base of the reefs, and watched with
their cold, round eyes. Captain Brand, too, arose, and, opening _his_
green-bluish eyes, smoothing his moulting feathers, and splashing his
fins in the wet sand, took an observation.

This was the rainy day for which Captain Brand had laid by all that
money to spend it in!

It was a Monday morning--Black Monday for Captain Brand--when, after
divesting his leg of the clove-hitch, he secured old Miguel's boat to a
large stone, and then, according to his own ancient practice, he
clambered with difficulty up to the venerable crag. Captain Brand had no
spy-glass, and there was a good deal of rain falling, but yet he thought
he saw a large ship, a brig, and a small schooner in the offing.

So Captain Brand scrambled down again, a good deal disconcerted, knowing
it would be hours and hours before those vessels got up to the island,
even were they so inclined; but, nevertheless, he bestirred himself.
Fortifying his inner man with the last half pint of aguardiente for
breakfast, which quite refreshed him, he went to work.

First, he took Miguel's copper coffee-pot, into which he emptied that
disciple of the net's shark-oil jug, which Miguel himself used for a
torch to attract the fish. Then, with a strip of old canvas--part of one
leg to Captain Brand's trowsers; to such straits was he reduced--seized
like a ball on the end of a stick, and a match-box, he was all ready for
Black Monday's work.

Captain Brand, however, made one serious omission; he snugly stowed away
his beautiful pistols in a locker of the boat to keep them dry, never
having been wet but twice before in all his marine excursions--the first
time at Cape Garotte, and the next when he jumped overboard from the
brigantine at St. Jago. He set great store by these valuable implements,
for they had done him good service in time of need. Miguel came into
possession of them afterward, and sold them almost for their weight in
gold.

But, for the first time, Captain Brand forgot his personal friends and
bosom companions. It was a great oversight; and he was extremely sorry
when it was too late to go back for them. However, with the copper
oil-pot dangling from his little finger, where the sapphire once shone,
and the torch-stick in the other hand, he marched boldly over the sandy
ridges toward the crag.

But, Captain Brand, there had been three pairs of open eyes watching you
through every mouthful of snapper you snapped, and every drop of fiery
white rum you swallowed. Ay! and while you tossed about on the shelly
beach, with the red glow of the embers of the fire lighting up your
cold-blooded, wrinkled face--while, twisting your nose, you muttered ho!
ho's! of murderous satisfaction--there was not a bird that swooped over
you, or a lizard on the rocks with jet beads of eyes, that watched you
so sharply as did those attentive beholders from the crag.

And when you made your observations from the young cocoa-nut clump,
those watchers retired down the opposite side, and two of them clambered
through a hole in the roof of the decaying little chapel, while the
other moved to the little cemetery of coral gravestones, and there
scooped a place in the sand and cactus behind the one cut with the
letter L.

Captain Brand meanwhile came on, picking his way through the dense
cactus, which lacerated his legs, and sadly tore the remains of his
loose canvas. The rain came down in torrents, the thunder growled and
crashed as the tropical storm burst over the island; and just as a vivid
sheet of forked lightning seemed to stride the crag, and the awful peal
that followed shook it to its base, Captain Brand crept for shelter
within the cleft of the rock, and sat down to prepare for a more
extended research.

He may have been gone twenty minutes; but when he again emerged the rain
had ceased, the clouds were breaking away, and the gentle sea-breeze
blowing, while Captain Brand looked a thousand years older. He seemed to
have borrowed all the million of wrinkles from his compadre, in addition
to those he already possessed. The thin lids of his frozen green--now
quite solid--eyes had apparently exhaled by intense cold, and left
nothing but a stony look of horror.

What caused our brave captain to reel and stagger as he plunged with a
bound out into the matted cactus, without his tattered hat, like a wolf
flying from the hounds? Had he trodden on a snake, or seen his compadre,
or had that white finger waved him away? Yes, all three. But the
interview with his one-eyed compadre had shocked him most.

On he came, driving the hot, wet sand before him, toward the Padre
Ricardo's chapel. There he paused for breath, though it was only by a
spasmodic effort that he could unclose his sheet-white lips, where his
sharp teeth had met upon them, and held his mouth together as if he had
the lockjaw, while he snorted through his nostrils.

"Ho!" he gasped, "the spying old traitor has sacked the cavern, and the
gold must have gone in that launch I saw the night I came over the reef.
Ho! the traitor has found the torture I promised him; but I would like
to have killed him a little slower."

Here Captain Brand, having regained some few faculties and energy, moved
on beyond the church, till he came to the white coral headstone, where
he stood still.

It was his last walk on deck or sand! Shading his still horror-stricken
eyes by both hands, he glared to seaward.

"Ho, ho! there you are, my Yankee commodore, with that old brig under
convoy, and that pretty schooner! Reminds me of my old 'Centipede.'
_Bueno!_ there are other 'Centipedes,' and I must begin the world anew.
I am not old; here is my strong right arm yet; and who can stop me?"

Captain Brand made these remarks in a loud tone, as if he wanted the
whole world to hear him; and as if he had failed in early life, and come
to a strong resolution to retrieve his past errors.

As he waved his strong right arm aloft, while, in imagination, blood
rained from the blade of his cutlass after cleaving the skull by a blow
dealt behind the back of an unsuspecting skipper or mate, suddenly he
paused, and the arm fell powerless at his side, where it hung dangling
loose like a pirate from a gibbet on a windy night.

He caught sight of the old broken cocoa-nut trunk to which he had
hitched the green silk rope, with its noose around his victim's neck,
and he endeavored to prevent himself falling to the sand.

"Ho!" he choked out, his jaws rattling like dry bones, "I see it all
now. The column was snapped just where the rope was hitched, and the
trestle must have been torn to pieces by the hurricane. Ho, ho! That's
the way my man escaped, to dog me all over the world. Ho! I have no time
to lose; he may be here at any moment."

This was the last connected speech that Captain Brand ever made in this
world, or in the world to come, perhaps, for at the last word Paul
Darcantel rose in all his revengeful majesty before him. With folded
arms he bent his dark, stern eyes upon the pirate, wherein the revenge
of twenty years was gleaming with a concentrated power.

"You palsied villain! the oath I took to you, and for which I have been
accursed, expired yesterday! I took another myself, when we stood here
last together, and I am come to fulfill that oath, and--strike!"

His terrible voice and words came back in an echo from the crag, and
they seemed with their intense energy to pierce and shrivel the man
before him into sleet. And the pirate would have fallen had not two
huge, black, lignum-vitæ paws grappled him about the body, pinioning his
arms to his sides as if they had been bolted through and through, while
at the same moment another pair of tough, sea-weed flippers wound a
lashing round his straight legs, and they laid him gently down on the
sandy esplanade.

"The trestle, Banou. And you, Ben, bring the hide strands, the faded old
cord, and that black altar-cloth!"

The pirate lay on his back, his eyes wide open--for he could not shut
them, since the lids had gone in frost--but the solid balls, light green
now in the light, rolled from side to side. He recognized the old
apparatus too, though it was in different hands than those of Pedillo
and his confederate; and he saw, also, that, though the pale green rope
was rotten, yet his knowledge of nautical matters taught him that it yet
might bear a taut strain, and that those coils of hide thongs never gave
way by any amount of tugging, and he saw as well that they had been
recently dipped in grease.

But what was to be done with that rotten, moth-eaten old cloth, which
the men used to play monté on on Saturday nights in the sheds, and on
which the good padre played _his_ cards likewise in the chapel? It was
not to keep the cold air away from him, or shield his half-naked body
from the poisonous insects. Then what could it be for?

"Lift him up, men, and when you lash him down, leave only that little
finger free!"

Ben Brown squatted himself on a stone beside the bier, and with his
cutlass unbuckled and laid on the sand, and sleeves rolled up, began
his work as if he had a chafing-mat to make for the dead-eyes of the
frigate's lower shrouds, and, though in a hurry, still intended to make
a neat job of it. He had a small and rather sharp-pointed marline-spike,
too, which he wore habitually, like a talisman, round his neck, and
which stood him in hand in the intricate parts of his task.

Taking in at a glance the exact amount of hide stuff he required, he
middled the coils, and passing each strand fair and square, his old
bronzed arms went backward and forward, under and over--sometimes
pricking a little hole by accident in the pirate's own thin hide as he
passed the strips by the aid of his marline-spike, but always
apologizing in his bluff, rough way, though without squirting
tobacco-juice into his victim's face, as did Mr. Gibbs to Jacob Blunt.

"Beg pardon, ye infarnal pirate! but that stick will do ye no harm.
It'll heal much sooner than the iron spike one of yer crew drove through
both cheeks of my watch-mate when you gagged him on board the brig.

"I say, old nigger, hand us a little more of that slush, will ye? this
'ere strand won't lie flat. Thankee, old darkey! Kitch hold on that
lower end, will ye? and draw it square up between his pins, and
straighten out that 'ere knee-joint a bit--so fashion.

"I wouldn't hurt ye, you ugly villain, for a chaw of tobaccy.

"Warm work, shipmate! suppose you just toddle down to the boat for that
'ere grafted bottle lyin' in the starn sheets, and bring a tin pot of
fresh water with you; the gentleman might be thirsty, you know. _I
am_--Benjamin Brown, of Sandy Pint, seaman."

So Benjamin plaited Captain Brand, late of the "Centipede," down on his
bier; not a thong too little, or one in the wrong place. A strand
between each of his toes, and the big ones turned up in quite an
ornamental way, and worked around with a Turk's-head knot.

"Breathin' works all reg'lar, too, no bit of hide bearin' an onequal
strain over his bread-basket. Throat and jaw-tackle in fair talkin'
order, little finger free; and there, Capting Brand, jist let old Ben
reward ye, good for evil, ye child-murdering scoundrel, for the lick
your mate gave him with the pistol on the head, by placing this soft
pillow of green silk rope under your bare skull. There! a little this
side, so as ye can look at your finger, while I pass this broad piece of
stuff over your ear. Don't ye look at me, ye infarnal scoundrel, or I'll
let this 'ere copper spike slip into one of yer junk-bottle glims!

"Now," continued Ben, "I'll take a spell till the doctor and the old
nigger come back."

Ay, the job was done, and the mat over the dead-eyes of the shrouds!

[Illustration: "NOW CAPTAIN BRAND KNEW WHAT WAS COMING."]

During this neat and seamanlike operation Paul Darcantel wandered away
on the tracks of the flying wolf till he came to the cleft in the
rock. There he picked up and lighted the torch and stalked on. Presently
he came to the stones before the low cavern, and pushed his way in with
the blazing torch before him. Had Paul Darcantel had nerves, they would
have shaken at what he saw; but having none to shake, he calmly fixed
his eyes upon the sight.

There lay the head of the ancient Ignaçio, caught, as he tried to creep
out of the treasure-chamber, by the falling of the stone slab. It must
have been sudden, for the stump of a paper cigar was still seized in his
wrinkled lips, while the snakelike curls twined about his ears, and his
wary eye looked out with its usual suspicious intensity, and seemed to
throw out a spark of fire in the reflection of the torch. Rising from a
coil in a slimy bed of sand before the head was a venomous serpent, with
his graceful neck curved into the broad flat head, all like an ebony
cane, straight, motionless, and elegant to the curved top--fascinated by
that single living orb of the dead man.

The human intruder left this well-matched pair to their own venomous
devices, and winding his way on, he soon came to the open door to the
vaults. A powerful kick smashed in the door of the dungeon, and while
the rusty bolts were still ringing on the stone pavement, Paul Darcantel
entered the loathsome chamber.

He saw nothing at first save a few fragments of broken crockery and a
rusty metal pot--not even a rat. But flaring the torch down upon the
mouldy floor something sparkled in the light. This he snatched, and it
was the long-lost locket and chain which had last rested around the
baby-boy's neck.

When the doctor strode back to the esplanade of the chapel he found
Benjamin Brown and Banou taking a friendly sip out of the tin pot.

"Well, sir," said Ben, as he got on his pins and strapped on his
cutlass, "there he is, sir! and as neat a piece of cross-lashing as ever
I did. He looks as if he growed there, jist like a hawk-bill turtle
a-bilin' in the ship's coppers, only he can't paddle about.

"I did it marciful, too, sir, and tried to convarse with him, in case he
had any presents to make to his friends.

"Why, sir, and would you believe it? I offered to pour a drop of
grog--mixed or raw--down his tight mouth, but he never had the
perliteness to thank me or ax me a question, but only looked wicked at
me. Consarn him! if he had only winked, I wouldn't mind it!" said Ben,
with much indignation; "but, howsever, I don't b'lieve he's any think to
leave or any friends left!"

But Captain Brand, though speechless without being tongue-tied, and
unable to wink, still thought. And what did the doctor propose to do
with him in case he was not to be stung to death by insects, sand-flies,
musquitoes, and what not?

"Lift the trestle for the last time, men, and stand it here over this
thick bed of cactus, so as the little finger may touch the letter on
this white tomb-stone."

Now Captain Brand's doubts were relieved, and he knew what was coming.
Oh ho! ho!

"There! that is right! Now collect stones and rocks, and wall this
trestle up solid to the edge of the frame, so that a hurricane can't
loosen it."

Big Banou went to work now, and presently his job was done--coral rocks,
and loose head-stones of pirates, well packed down with sand, made the
sides of the living tomb. Then the black pall was drawn over the body,
and they left the pirate to his inevitable doom.

Soon the three executioners reached the Tiger's Trap.

"Banou, take this locket and chain--ah! you know it well--to your young
master. Brown, the two thousand dollars will be placed in your and
Greenfield's hands for distribution among the schooner's crew; make a
good use of it! Tell the commodore that I shall take an old woman we
have found here away with me in a stolen fisherman's boat to Manzanillo,
and within the year I shall be at home! There! shove off, my lads!"

As the gig skimmed through the Tiger's Trap, Paul Darcantel, with the
widow of Ignaçio, sailed out by the Alligator's Mouth, and as they
crossed that roaring ledge, the sun sank in its unclouded glory in the
west, and the young moon, with its thin pearly crescent, looked timidly
down upon the island.

And the night passed, and the next and the next, with scorching days and
blazing suns between them; while the mangrove, the palm, the cocoa-nut,
and the cactus--ah! that luxuriant plant throve apace--shooting up its
steel-pointed bayonets two inches of a night in thorny needles as thick
as pins in a paper, growing clean through the hide of ox or man like
blood, till their hard-edged leaves met resistance, when, turning flat
side up, they put forth a score for one of the needle bayonets! No
escape from them. From shoulder to heel one long, hopeless agony. The
fierce sun flaming down, absorbed by the black pall of death! The moon
glimmering in pale white rays of splendor through the moth-eaten holes
upon the finger and the white tomb-stone! All the day and all the
night!

Was it a dream, Captain Brand? No, a frightful reality! Don't you feel a
fresh thorn at every slow pulse of the heart they are aiming at? And
don't you hear those dread croakings of gulls and cormorants flapping in
the air, who have left their prey on the reef to join the vultures in
their feast on the shore? You may almost catch the grating sounds of the
rasping jaws of the sharks as they crowd into the inlet, and rest their
cold noses on the shelly cove where you slept!

Flesh and blood, and pinions and beaks can endure it no longer. A cloud
of carnivorous birds swoop down at last, snap the black pall in their
talons and bills, and fly fighting and screaming away with it. Another
cloud, darker than the rest, light upon the body, and while the
needle-points pierce the palpitating heart, and the breath flutters on
the still clenched lips and nostrils, the eyes are picked out, and the
flesh is torn piecemeal, hide strands and all, till nothing is left but
a hideous white skeleton, with the long bony finger pointing to the
letter L.

The lizards wheetled on the rocks, the alligators lashed the lagoon amid
the steaming mist of the mangrove roots; the sharks and birds returned
to the reefs, the cocoa-nuts waved their tufted tops, the palms crackled
in the shower and gale, and the pure inlet murmured musically on the
shelly shore for years and years over and around the deserted key, until
the whitened bones crumbled into dust, and were borne away by the four
winds of heaven.

                   *       *       *       *       *

The hemp has been tarred and spread, the strands twisted, and the rope
laid up. The knots have been turned in between good sailors and
bad--between pirates and men-of-war's-men--and here Harry Gringo hauls
down his pennant until his reading crew care again to take a cruise with
him in blue water.



THE END.

                   *       *       *       *       *



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_Notices of Harper's Weekly._

"HARPER'S WEEKLY, of which the Seventh Volume is now issued in neat,
substantial binding, shows the industry and zeal with which the cause of
the Union has been maintained in its columns during the year 1863. It
has continued to increase the fervor of patriotic sentiment as well by
its appropriate pictorial illustrations as by its able editorial leaders
commenting on the events of the day. In its present shape, the journal
furnishes copious materials for the history of the war, and can not fail
to find a place in public and private libraries as an important volume
for permanent reference."--_Tribune_ (New York).

"HARPER'S WEEKLY _for_ 1863--a journal of the year, kept in the most
interesting way; and as we turn over the pages we revive many now
almost forgotten sensations, and see, bit by bit, how history has
grown. The volume closed and bound up becomes history; but it would
not be just to this publication to omit a remark on the influence
which it has exerted during the year, and which it continues to exert.
An illustrated journal like _Harper's Weekly_, which circulates, as
we have heard, over one hundred and twenty thousand copies per week,
chiefly among families, and which has probably a million of readers, has
necessarily a great influence in the country. The _Weekly_ has
consistently and very ably supported the Union, the Government, and
the great principles to develop which the Union was founded. Unlike most
illustrated journals, _Harper's Weekly_ has displayed political and
literary ability of a high order as well as artistic merit. Its
political discussions are sound, clear, and convincing, and have done
their share to educate the American people to a right understanding of
their dangers and duties. In its speciality--illustrations of passing
events--it is unsurpassed; and many of the pictures of the year do
honor to the genius of the artists and engravers of this country.
Thus complete in all the departments of an American Family Journal,
_Harper's Weekly_ has earned for itself a right to the title which it
assumed seven years ago, 'A JOURNAL OF CIVILIZATION.'"--_Evening Post_
(New York).

HARPER'S WEEKLY.--This periodical merits special notice at the present
time. There is probably no weekly publication of the country that equals
its influence. More than one hundred thousand copies fly over the land
weekly: they are read in our cars, steamboats, and families. Our youth
especially read them; and as _the_ family newspaper of the nation, its
power over the forming opinions of the next generation of the American
people is an important item.

It is abundant, if not superabundant, in pictorial illustrations--a
means of strong impression, especially on the minds of the young. Both
by its illustrations and its incessant discussion of the occurrences and
questions of the war it is a "current history" and "running commentary"
on the great event, and there is probably no literary agency of the day
more effective in its influence respecting the war in the families of
the common people. Most happy are we then to be able to say that this
responsible power is exerted altogether on the side of loyalty. No paper
in the land is more outspoken, more uncompromising for the Union, for
the war, for even the policy of the President's "great Proclamation."
When the rebellion broke out we did the publishers the injustice of some
anxious fears about their probable course on the subject.

Steadily have they kept up with the Providential development of its
events and questions; not only abreast of them, but, in important
respects, ahead of them. No periodical press in the nation deserves
better of the country for its faithfulness and "pluck" in all matters
relating to the great struggle. And we should do it injustice were we
not to add that, with its outright loyalty and bravery, it combines
commanding ability. The editorial leaders which it continuously
flings out against all political traitors and flunkies strike
directly at their mark. They are evidently from pens both strong and
polished. On even the astuter subjects of policy, finance, &c., it
is eminently able. And it makes no mistake in supposing its readers
capable of an interest and of intelligence in these respects.
American families look keenly into such questions, and with such a
really educational force as this paper wields, it is especially right
and commendable that it seeks to elevate the common mind to the higher
questions of the times. The American people will not fail to notice
and to remember the courageous and patriotic course of _Harper's Weekly_
in these dark times of hideous treason, and of more hideous, because
more contemptible, semi-treason.--_The Methodist, N. Y._


  TERMS.

    One Copy for Four Months                               $1 00
    One Copy for One Year                                   3 00
    Two Copies for One Year                                 5 50
    "Harper's Weekly" and "Harper's Magazine" one year      5 50


_An Extra Copy of either the Weekly or Magazine will be supplied gratis
for every Club of TEN SUBSCRIBERS, at $2 75 each; or, Eleven Copies for
$27 50._

                   *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's note:

The author's archaic spelling is preserved, including creative
Spanish spelling such as "Guantamano" and "Hasta huego".

The author's punctuation style is preserved.

Hyphenation has been made consistent.

In addition to making hyphenation consistent, the following
changes were made to the original text:

  Page 18: =Escondide= standardized to =Escondido= (Why,
            madame, it is only a week ago that a lot of us dined with
            him at his estate of =Escondido=)

  Page 19: Added quote (he continued, turning toward the
            skipper, as the clear sound of the cruiser's bell struck his
            ear, ="I must= not forget what I came for.")

  Page 29: Added tilde ("_El Doctor =Señor=, con tres de
            nosotros._")

  Page 34: Removed extra end quote from "ho!" (sputtered the
            ruffian, as he pulled a pistol from his belt, ="ho!= you
            mean fight, do ye?")

  Page 49: Removed accent from "e" ('_=Bueno=!_' There's more
            fish in the sea--and under it too!)

  Page 85: Changed from single quote (="But= the best of the
            joke was, the moment he spoke)

  Page 86: Added accent (In the centre arose a huge =épergne=
            of silver, fashioned into the shape of a drooping
            palm-tree)

  Page 92: Added tilde ("And the =señorita's= too, I
            think,")

  Page 136: Removed dash from =money--you= (I wouldn't remain
            another hour in this filthy hole for all the =money you=
            have cheated me out of, you old rascal.)

  Page 166: =hirtling= changed to =hurtling= (No more pauses
            or lulls now in the =hurtling= tempest)

  Page 185: =epaulettes= standardized to =epaulets= (in
            cocked hat, full-dress coat, a pair of gleaming =epaulets=,
            sword by his hip, and his nether limbs cased in white
            knee-breeches)

  Page 205: Added quote (="Well=, gentlemen, for some weeks
            after these occurrences we sailed about the islands)

  Page 205: =Mosquito= standardized to =Musquito= (The orders
            were to beat up the south side of Cuba, where we expected to
            fall in with the =Musquito= fleet and some English vessels)

  Page 225: =is= changed to =its= (A minute later, all that
            was left of the shattered hull fell broadside into the open
            fangs of the ledge, which ground it with =its= merciless
            jaws into toothpicks.)

  Page 252: Removed repeated "at all" (he didn't like his
            looks =at all=, though he did make himself so fascinating to
            the beautiful widow who sat next him)

  Page 261: =believeing= changed to =believing= (as there is
            much reason for =believing= he did--with great disgust, on
            board the dirty, dumpy old ballahoo)

  Page 284: =tholl-pins= changed to =thole-pins= (The sweeps
            paused, the hide gromets resting on the =thole-pins=, and
            the water raining from their broad blades.)





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