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Title: Brave Old Salt - or, Life on the Quarter Deck
Author: Optic, Oliver, 1822-1897
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Brave Old Salt - or, Life on the Quarter Deck" ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



by The Kentuckiana Digital Library)



    [Illustration: Somers and the Admiral.]


    [Illustration: BRAVE OLD SALT.
    OLIVER OPTIC.
    LEE & SHEPARD. BOSTON.]



    BRAVE OLD SALT;

    OR,

    LIFE ON THE QUARTER DECK.

    A Story of the Great Rebellion.

    BY

    OLIVER OPTIC,


    Author of "THE SOLDIER BOY," "THE SAILOR BOY," "THE YOUNG
    LIEUTENANT," "THE YANKEE MIDDY," "FIGHTING JOE," "THE WOODVILLE
    STORIES," "THE RIVERDALE STORY BOOKS," ETC., ETC.

    BOSTON:
    LEE AND SHEPARD,
    SUCCESSORS TO PHILLIPS, SAMPSON & CO.
    1866.


    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1866, by
    WILLIAM T. ADAMS,
    In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of
    Massachusetts.

    ELECTROTYPED AT THE
    _Boston Stereotype Foundry_,
    No. 4 Spring Lane.


    TO

    SAMUEL C. PERKINS, ESQ.,

    This Book

    IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED,

    BY HIS FRIEND

    WILLIAM T. ADAMS.



PREFACE.


This volume, the sixth and last of "THE ARMY AND NAVY STORIES," is a
record of "Life on the Quarter Deck," mostly in the squadron of Vice
Admiral Farragut, one of whose familiar appellations, used in the
ward-room and on the berth deck, has furnished the leading title of the
book. The terrible war which devastated our country for four years has
given to history two generals, Grant and Sherman, and one admiral,
Farragut, whose achievements are unsurpassed, if they are equalled, in
the annals of military and naval warfare; but while the author, in this
work, has gratefully rendered his tribute of admiration to the
distinguished naval commander, he has not attempted to present a
complete biography of him.

Those who have read the preceding volumes of this series need hardly be
told that this is a book of adventure--of personal experience in the
great struggle of the nineteenth century. Jack Somers, "The Sailor Boy,"
Mr. Somers, "The Yankee Middy," and Captain Somers, Lieutenant
Commanding, are the same person; though often as he changes his official
position, he is still the same honest, true, and Christian young man.

In our completed sixth volume we take leave of the Somers family with
many regrets. If our young friends in the army and navy had been less
true, noble, and Christian, we could have parted with less sorrow. Yet
the army and navy, as they crushed the Rebellion, have given us many
young men just as true, just as noble and Christian. Let us gratefully
cherish these living heroes, and they will not pass away from us "like a
tale that is told."

To the readers, young and old, who have perseveringly followed my heroes
through the two thousand pages of this series, I am even more than
grateful; for I feel that they have sympathized with me in my desire to
present a lofty ideal to the young man of to-day--one who will be true
to God, true to himself, and true to his country, in whatever sphere his
lot may be cast, whether on the forecastle or the quarter deck; as a
private or an officer, in the great army which must ever battle with
life's trials and temptations till the crown immortal be won.

    WILLIAM T. ADAMS.

    HARRISON SQUARE, MASS., March 13, 1866.



    CONTENTS.


            CHAPTER

         I. LIEUTENANT PILLGRIM.
        II. WAITING FOR THE SHIP.
       III. THE WOUNDED SAILOR.
        IV. THE FRONT CHAMBER.
         V. SOMERS COMES TO HIS SENSES.
        VI. LIEUTENANT WYNKOOP, R. N.
       VII. LANGDON'S LETTERS.
      VIII. THE UNITED STATES STEAMER CHATAUQUA.
        IX. IN THE STATE-ROOM.
         X. THE CHIEF CONSPIRATOR.
        XI. AFTER GENERAL QUARTERS.
       XII. THE BEN NEVIS.
      XIII. A CONFLICT OF AUTHORITY.
       XIV. THE PRIZE STEAMER.
        XV. THE PRISONER IN THE CABIN.
       XVI. CAPTAIN WALMSLEY.
      XVII. OFF MOBILE BAY.
     XVIII. BRAVE OLD SALT.
       XIX. THE BOAT EXPEDITION.
        XX. THE PICKET BOAT.
       XXI. THE BEN LOMOND.
      XXII. RUNNING THE BLOCKADE.
     XXIII. A YANKEE TRICK.
      XXIV. PILLGRIM AND LANGDON.
       XXV. THE BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY.
      XXVI. IN THE HOSPITAL.
     XXVII. MISS PORTINGTON NOT AT HOME.
    XXVIII. THE BEN LEDI.
      XXIX. A LONG CHASE.
       XXX. THE END OF THE REBELLION.



BRAVE OLD SALT.



BRAVE OLD SALT; OR, LIFE ON THE QUARTER DECK.



CHAPTER I.

LIEUTENANT PILLGRIM.


"Well, Prodigy, I congratulate you on your promotion. I even agree with
your enthusiastic admirers, who say that no young man better deserves
his advancement than you," said Miss Kate Portington, standing in the
entry of her father's house at Newport, holding Mr. Ensign John Somers
by the hand.

"Thank you, Miss Portington," replied the young officer, with a blush
caused as much by the excitement of that happy moment, as by the
handsome compliment paid by the fair girl, who, we are compelled to
acknowledge, had formed no inconsiderable portion of the young man's
thoughts, hopes, and aspirations during the preceding year.

John Somers had been examined by the board of naval officers appointed
for the purpose, had been triumphantly passed, and promoted to the rank
he now held. A short furlough had been granted to him, and he had just
come from Pinchbrook, where he had spent a week. A visit to Newport was
now almost as indispensable as one to the home of his childhood, and on
his way to join the ship to which he had been ordered, he paused to
discharge this pleasing duty.

Ensign Somers was dressed in a new uniform, and a certain boyish look,
for which he was partly indebted to the short jacket he had worn as a
midshipman, had vanished. Perhaps Miss Portington felt that the
pertness, not to say impudence, with which she had formerly treated him,
though allowable, under a liberal toleration, towards a boy, would
hardly be justifiable in her intercourse with a young man. Though, from
the force of habit, she called him "Prodigy," there was a certain
maidenly reserve in her manner, which rather puzzled Somers, and he
could not help asking himself what he had done to cause this slight
chill in her tones and actions.

Undoubtedly it was the frock coat which produced this refrigerating
effect; but it was a very elegant and well-fashioned garment, having the
shoulder straps on which glistened the "foul anchor," indicating his new
rank, and each sleeve being adorned with a single gold band on the
cuff, also indicative of his new position. The cap, which he now held in
his hand, was decorated with a band of gold lace, and bore on its front
the appropriate naval emblem. In strict accordance with the traditions
of the navy, he wore kid gloves, without which a naval officer, on a
ceremonial occasion, would be as incomplete as a ship without a rudder.

We have no means of knowing what Mr. Ensign Somers thought of himself in
his "new rig," which certainly fitted with admirable nicety, and gave
him an appearance of maturity which he did not possess when we last saw
him on the quarter deck of the Rosalie. We will venture to assert,
however, that he felt like a man, and fully believed that he was one--a
commendable sentiment in a person of his years, inasmuch as, if he feels
like a man, he is the more likely to act like one. As we can hardly
suppose he soared above all the vanities of his impressible period of
life, it is more than probable that he regarded himself as a very good
looking young fellow; which brilliant suggestion was, no doubt, wholly
or in part due to the new uniform he wore.

If not wholly above the weakness of a young man of twenty, possibly he
had a great deal of confidence in his own knowledge and ability,
regarded some of the veterans of the navy as "old fogies," and looked
upon his own father as "a slow coach." But we must do Mr. Somers the
justice to say that he tried to be humble in his estimate of himself,
and to bear the honors he had won with meekness; that he endeavored to
crush down and mortify that overweening self-sufficiency which distorts
and disfigures the character of many estimable young men. His native
bashfulness had, in some measure, been overcome by his intercourse with
the world, and the humility of his nature, though occasionally assaulted
by the accident of a new coat and an extra supply of gold lace, or by
the hearty commendations of his superiors, was genuine, and, in the
main, saved him from the besetting sin of his years.

Standing in the presence of Miss Kate Portington, after an absence of
several months, wearing a new coat glittering with the laurels he had
won on the bloodstained decks of the nation's ships, he would have been
more than human if he had not felt proud of what he was, and what he had
done--proud, not vain. He was happy, holding the hand of her who had
occupied so large a place in his thoughts, and whose image had fringed
with roseate hues his brightest hopes and strongest aspirations.

Kate was not so free with him as she had been, and her reserve annoyed
and perplexed him. He had anticipated a much warmer welcome than that
which greeted him on his arrival. He was slightly disappointed, though
there was nothing in her manner for which he could have reproached her,
even if their relations had been more intimate than they were. She was
less stormy, but still gentle and kind; a little more distant in manner,
though her looks and words assured him she regarded him with
undiminished interest. Had he known that the elegant frock coat he wore
produced the chill in the lady which so vexed and disconcerted him, he
would willingly have exchanged it for the short jacket in which he had
won his promotion.

They were standing in the entry. When the servant admitted Mr. Somers,
Kate had heard his voice, and perhaps from prudential motives--for there
was a visitor in the parlor--she had preferred to meet him in the hall.

"You have been very fortunate, Mr. Somers," added she, gently releasing
her hand from that of the ensign.

Mr. Somers, instead of "Prodigy"!

"I have. I don't deserve my promotion, I know; but I could not help
taking it when it was within my reach," replied Somers; and her words,
though so slightly chilled that the frigid tone could not have been
noticed by any one who did not expect an unreasonable warmth, took half
the conceit out of him, and let him down a long reach from the high
hopes and brilliant expectations with which he had looked forward to
this meeting.

"On the contrary, Mr. Somers, I think you deserve even more than you
have received."

"Thank you, Miss Portington; you were always more lavish of kind words
than I deserved."

"Why, Prodigy--"

She suddenly checked herself. It was evident to Somers that she intended
to say something pert or saucy. Perhaps she choked down the impertinent
words from the fear that the honorable secretary of the navy, if such
wild and wayward young ladies as herself were permitted to contaminate
the plushy air of Newport society, would remove the Naval Academy back
to Annapolis, where it is better to be "proper" than to be loyal.

"You were about to say something, Miss Portington," said Somers.

"I was, but it was saucy."

"I am sorry you did not say it."

"I am glad I did not, for you must know, Mr. Somers, that mother has
scolded me so much for being saucy, that I have solemnly resolved to be
proper in all things henceforth and forevermore."

"I am sorry for it," answered Somers, with unaffected earnestness.

"Sorry, you wretch?"

Somers laughed.

"There's another slip. I have done my best to reform my life. I am
afraid I shall never succeed. Now, Prodigy--"

Somers laughed again.

"Again!" exclaimed Kate.

"I wish to ask one favor of you, Miss Portington."

"It would afford me more pleasure to grant it, than it does you to ask
it. Name it."

"That you will never call me Prodigy again."

"I had firmly resolved before you came never to do it," laughed she.

"Well, I only asked it in order to help along your good resolutions."

"Then you are making fun of me?"

"Like yourself, I am very serious."

"But I am in earnest, Mr. Somers; I mean to reform. Now, father and
mother will be very glad to see you, Mr. Somers."

"Your father?"

"He was temporarily relieved to attend a court martial. He is going away
again to-morrow."

"You have other visitors?"

"Only Lieutenant Pillgrim."

"I have not the pleasure of his acquaintance."

"He is a Virginian, I believe; at any rate he is from the South, and has
just been restored to his rank in the navy."

Kate led the way into the parlor, where he was first welcomed by her
mother.

"Mr. Somers, I am glad to see you, and to congratulate you on your
promotion," said the commodore, as he grasped the hand of the young
officer.

"Thank you, sir," replied Somers. "The only ungratified wish I had was
that I might be appointed to your ship."

"My ship!"

"I should have been glad to serve under so able and distinguished a
commander."

"I wouldn't have you in my ship," promptly returned the commodore,
shaking his head energetically.

Somers looked abashed, and Kate wore a troubled expression.

"I should endeavor to do my duty," he added.

"I have no doubt of it, but I wouldn't have you in my ship."

"Your remark is not very complimentary," said Somers, his face beginning
to flush with indignation at what seemed to be an assault upon his
professional character.

"It is the most complimentary thing I could say to you. And I mean what
I say: I wouldn't have you in my ship."

"Why not, father?" demanded Kate.

"Because I like the young dog, and because I believe in discipline. I
never indulge in partiality on board my ship, and it is better to keep
out of temptation. I am under obligations to you, Mr. Somers; I am happy
to acknowledge them, but they must not come between me and duty. Mr.
Somers, Lieutenant Pillgrim," continued Commodore Portington, turning to
the visitor.

Somers looked at the officer thus indicated, and as his eyes rested
upon him, he started back with a momentary astonishment, for the face
had a strange look of familiarity to him.

"Mr. Somers, I am happy to meet and to know you. Your name and
reputation are already familiar to me."

"I am glad to know you, sir," replied Somers, with some confusion. "Your
face looks so familiar to me, that I think we must have met before."

"Never, to my knowledge," answered the lieutenant, with easy
self-possession.

"I was quite sure I had seen you before."

"Possibly; I do not remember it, however."

"If I had met you without the favor of an introduction, I should
certainly have claimed the honor of your acquaintance."

"I should have been proud to be so claimed, but I must confess you would
have had the advantage of me."

"Of course, I must be mistaken, as you suggest."

"It is not unlikely that we have met in some ante-room where we were
dancing attendance on the powers that be, in search of employment; but I
am quite sure, Mr. Somers, that I should have been proud and happy to
number you among my friends."

"It is not too late now," said the commodore.

"Certainly not. I should be but too happy to have as my friend one who
has served his country so faithfully," added Mr. Pillgrim, as he bowed
gracefully to Somers, "especially as I understand we are appointed to
the same ship."

"Indeed!"

"I am ordered to the Chatauqua."

"So am I."

"Then, Mr. Pillgrim, you will take care of our Prodigy; you will be
excellent friends, I trust," said Kate, beginning very impulsively in
her old way, and suddenly checking herself when her resolution to be
"proper" interposed itself.

"What is the matter, Kate? Have you and Mr. Somers had a falling out?"
demanded the commodore.

"O, no, father."

"You talk as though you had had a quarrel, and for a moment had
forgotten to be savage."

"We have had no quarrel, pa," replied Kate, blushing. "I was going to be
saucy, but ma says I must not be saucy, and I shall not be saucy any
more. I only hoped the two gentlemen who are going to live together in
the same ship would be good friends."

"Of course they will. Officers never quarrel."

"Perhaps they don't; but they are not always as good friends as I hope
these gentlemen will be," laughed Kate.

"Perhaps he will be my friend for your sake, if he is not for mine,"
added Pillgrim.

"I do not wish that. I don't like to have anybody do anything for my
sake, unless it be to take paregoric when I am sick."

"I trust I shall not be paregoric to him," said Pillgrim.

"Then he will not take you for my sake."

"As Lieutenant Pillgrim is my superior officer, I should be likely to
court his good will, and prize his friendship very highly. If we are not
friends, I am sure it will not be my fault."

At this moment the dinner bell rang; and although Somers did not feel
intimate enough with the family to invite himself to dine, he was easily
prevailed upon to remain, and gallantly gave his arm to Mrs. Portington,
as Kate, for some wayward reason of her own, had already seized upon
that of Lieutenant Pillgrim.

At the table Somers sat opposite the lieutenant, and he found it
impossible to avoid looking upon him with a strange and undefinable
interest. Since his first glance at the commodore's visitor, who seemed
to be on the best of terms with the family, he had been perplexed by
some strange misgivings. He could not banish from his mind an assurance
that he had seen him before; that he had talked with him, and even been,
to some extent, intimate with him.

The thought that Kate was somewhat changed in her demeanor towards him
did not contribute to increase his satisfaction. She had contrived to
take the lieutenant's arm instead of his own, and perhaps he had come as
the successor of Phil Kennedy, who had been reputed to be high in her
good graces. But Mr. Pillgrim was a gentleman of thirty-five, at least,
and this was not probable, in his view of the matter. Somers, being
disinterested, was more worried to know when, where, and under what
circumstances he had met the lieutenant.



CHAPTER II.

WAITING FOR THE SHIP.


Somers was utterly unable to satisfy himself in regard to Lieutenant
Pillgrim. The face was certainly familiar to him, not as a combination
of remembered features, but rather as an expression. To him the eye
seemed to be the whole of the man, and its gaze would haunt him, though
his memory refused to identify it with any time, place, or
circumstances. Though his reason compelled him to believe that he was
mistaken, and that Mr. Pillgrim was actually a stranger, his
consciousness of having seen, and even of having been intimate with, the
gentleman, most obstinately refused to be shaken.

"Of course, gentlemen, you have no idea to what point the Chatauqua has
been ordered?" said the commodore.

"I have not," replied Mr. Pillgrim.

"I have heard it said that she was going to the Gulf," added Somers.

"Very likely; there are two points where extensive naval operations are
likely to be undertaken--at Mobile and at Wilmington. The rebellion has
had so many hard knocks that the bottom must drop out before many
months."

"I am afraid the end is farther off than most people at the North are
willing to believe," said Mr. Pillgrim.

"Every thing looks hopeful. If we can contrive to batter down Fort
Fisher, and open Mobile Bay, the rebels may count the months of their
Confederacy on their fingers."

"I think there is greater power of resistance left in the South, than we
give it the credit for."

"The rebels have fought well; what of it?" continued the commodore, who
did not seem to be pleased with the style of the lieutenant's remarks.

"As fighting men, we can hardly fail to respect those who have fought so
bravely as the people of the South."

"People of the South!" sneered the commodore. "Why don't you call them
rebels?"

"Of course that is what I mean," answered Mr. Pillgrim, a slight flush
visible on his cheek.

"If you mean it, why don't you say it? Call things by their right names.
The people of the South are not all rebels. Why, confound it, Farragut
is a Southerner; so is General Anderson; so are a hundred men, who have
distinguished themselves in putting down treason. It's an insult to
these men to talk about the people of the South as rebels."

"I agree with you, Commodore Portington, and what I said was only a form
of expression."

"It's a very bad form of expression. Why, man, you are a Southerner
yourself."

"I am; and I suppose that is what makes me so proud of the good fighting
the people of the South--I mean the rebels--have done. We can't help
respecting men who have behaved with so much gallantry."

"Can't we?" exclaimed the commodore, with a sneer so wholesome and
honest, that Lieutenant Pillgrim withered under it. "I can help it. I
have no respect for rebels and traitors under any circumstances."

"Nor I, as rebels and traitors," replied Pillgrim, mildly.

"As rebels and traitors! I don't like these fine-spun distinctions. If a
man is a traitor, call him so, and swing him up on the fore-yard arm,
where he belongs."

"You are willing to acknowledge that the rebels have fought well in this
war?" added the lieutenant.

"They have fought well: I don't deny it."

"And you appreciate gallant conduct?"

"That depends on the cause. No, sir! I don't appreciate gallant conduct
on the part of rebels and traitors. It is not gallant conduct; and the
better they fight, the more wicked they are."

"I can hardly take your view of the case."

"Can't you? The best fighting I ever saw in my life was on the deck of
a pirate ship. The black-hearted villains fought like demons. Not a man
of them would yield the breadth of a hair. We had to cut them down like
dogs. Is piracy respectable because these men fought well?"

"Certainly not; but the bravery of such men--"

"Nonsense! I know what you are going to say; but you can't separate the
pirate from his piracy, nor the traitor from his treason," replied the
commodore, warmly. "The other day I saw a little dirty urchin fighting
with his mother. The young cub had run away, I suppose, and the woman
was dragging him back to the house. He was not more than six years old,
but he displayed a power of resistance which rather astonished me. He
kicked, bit, scratched, and yelled like a young tiger. He called his
mother everything but a lady. The poor woman tugged at him with all her
strength, but the little rascal was almost a match for her. I wanted to
take him by the nape of the neck, and shake the ugly out of him: nothing
but my fixed principles of neutrality prevented me from doing so. I
suppose, Mr. Pillgrim, you would have sympathized with the brat, because
he fought bravely."

"Hardly," replied the lieutenant, laughing at the simile.

"But he fought like a tiger, and displayed no mean strategy in his
rebellious warfare. Of course he was worthy of your admiration," sneered
the commodore.

"That's hardly a fair comparison."

"The fairest in the world. The rebels have insulted their own
mother--the parent that fostered, protected, and loved them. They
undertook to run away from her; and when she attempts to bring them back
to their duty, they kick, and scratch, and bite; and you admire them
because they fight well."

"I stand convicted, Commodore Portington. I never took this view of the
matter; I acknowledge that you are right," said Mr. Pillgrim.

Somers, who had been an attentive listener to the conversation, thought
the lieutenant yielded very gracefully, and much more readily than could
have been expected; but then the logician was a commodore, and perhaps
it was prudence and politeness on his part to agree with his powerful
superior.

After dinner the party took a ride to the beach and to the Glen; and
after an early tea, Somers and Pillgrim, who were to be
fellow-passengers to Philadelphia, where the Chatauqua was fitting out,
began to demonstrate in the direction of their departure. Kate, though
she had been tolerably playful during the afternoon, had, in the main,
carried out her good resolution to be proper. She had not been
impudent--hardly pert; and deprived of this convenient mask for whatever
kindness she might have entertained towards the young ensign, she seemed
to be very cold and indifferent to him. She was more thoughtful,
serious, and earnest than when they had met on former occasions. He
could not help asking himself what he had done to produce this marked
change in her conduct.

"Good by, Miss Portington," said he, when he had taken leave of her
father and mother.

"Good by, Mr. Somers. Shall I hear from you when you reach your
station?" she asked, presenting her hand.

"If you desire it."

"If I desire it! Why, Mr. Somers, you forget that I am deeply interested
in your success."

"Perhaps, if I do anything of which you would care to learn, the
newspapers may inform you of the fact," replied Somers, with a kind of
grim smile, which seemed actually to alarm poor Kate.

"I would rather hear it from you."

"I judge that you are more interested in my success than you are in me."

"Ah, Mr. Somers, you cannot separate the pirate from his piracy, pa
said; nor the hero from his heroism, let me add."

"Thank you, Miss Portington."

"I cannot forget how deeply indebted we are to you, Mr. Somers."

"I wish you could."

"Why do you wish so?" demanded the astonished maiden; more astonished at
his manner than his words.

"I am sorry to have you burdened with such a weight of obligation."

"I think you mean to quarrel with me, Mr. Somers. I beg you will not be
so savage just as you are going away," laughed Kate, though there was a
troubled expression on her fair face. "I asked you if I should hear from
you, Mr. Somers."

"Certainly, if you desire."

"Why do you qualify your words? I should be just as glad to hear from
you as I ever was."

"Then you shall, at every opportunity."

"Thank you, Mr. Somers. That sounds hearty and honest, as father would
say."

"I do not wish you to feel an interest in me from a sense of duty. I
shall not write any letters from a sense of duty, or even because I have
promised to do so. I shall write to you because--because I can't help
it," stammered Somers, almost overcome by the violence of his exertions.

"I thank you, Mr. Somers, and I am sure your letters will be all the
more welcome from my knowledge of the fact."

"Good by," said he, gently pressing the little hand he held.

"Good by," she replied; and to his great satisfaction and delight, the
pressure was returned--a kind of telegraphic signal, infinitely more
expressive than all the words in the spelling-book, strung into
sentences, could have been to a young man in his desperate condition.

Mr. Ensign Somers was now entirely satisfied. That gentle pressure of
the hand had atoned for all her reserve and coldness, real or imaginary,
and made the future bright and pleasant to look upon. Undoubtedly Mr.
Somers was a silly young fellow; but there is some consolation in
believing that he was just like all young men under similar
circumstances.

Mr. Pillgrim followed him out of the house, and they hastened down to
the wharf to take the steamer for New York. On the passage the two
officers treated each other with courtesy and consideration, but there
appeared to be no strong sympathy of thought or feeling between them,
and they were not drawn so closely together as they might have been
under similar circumstances, if there had been more of opinion and
sentiment common between them.

On their arrival at Philadelphia, they found the Chatauqua was still in
the hands of the workmen, and would not go into commission for a week or
ten days. They reported to the commandant of the navy yard, and took up
their quarters at the "Continental," where Somers found his old friend
Mr. Waldron, who had been detached from the Rosalie at his own request,
and ordered to the Chatauqua, in which he was to serve as executive
officer. This was splendid news to Somers, for he regarded Mr. Waldron
as a true and trusty friend, in whom he could with safety confide.

"Do you know Lieutenant Pillgrim?" asked Somers, after they had
discussed their joint information in regard to the new ship.

"I am not personally acquainted with him, though I have heard his name
mentioned. He is a Virginian, I think."

"Yes."

"If I mistake not, there were some doubts about his loyalty, though he
never tendered his resignation; he has been kept in the background."

"He seems to be a loyal and true man."

"No doubt of it, or he would not have been appointed to the Chatauqua."

"He has some respect for the rebels, but no sympathy."

"I think he has frequently applied for employment, but has not obtained
it until the present time. I have no doubt he is a good fellow and a
good officer. He ranks next to me. But, Somers, I leave town in half an
hour," continued Mr. Waldron, consulting his watch. "I am going to run
home for a few days, till the ship goes into commission. I will see you
here on my return."

Somers walked to the railroad station with his late commander, and
parted with him as the train started. During the three succeeding days,
he visited the museums, libraries, and other places of resort,
interesting to a young man of his tastes. He went to the navy yard every
day, and, with his usual zeal, learned what he could of the build, rig,
and armament of the Chatauqua, and gathered such other information
relating to his profession as would be useful to him in the future.

Lieutenant Pillgrim passed his time in a different manner. Though he was
not what the world would call an intemperate or an immoral man, he spent
many of his hours in bar-rooms, billiard-saloons, and places of public
amusement. He several times invited Somers to "join" him at the bar, to
play at billiards, and to visit the theatre, and other places of more
questionable morality. The young officer was not a prude, but he never
drank, did not know how to play billiards, and never visited a gambling
resort. He went to the theatre two or three times; but this was the
limit of his indulgence.

Mr. Pillgrim was courteous and gentlemanly; he did not press his
invitations. He treated his brother officer with the utmost kindness and
consideration; was always ready, and even forward, to serve him; and
their relations were of the pleasantest character.

One evening, when Somers called at the office for the key of his room,
after his return from the navy yard, a letter was handed to him. The
writing was an unfamiliar hand, scrawling and hardly legible. It was
evidently the production of an illiterate person. On reaching his room
he opened it.



CHAPTER III.

THE WOUNDED SAILOR.


The curiosity of Somers was not a little excited before he opened the
uncouth letter in his hand. It was postmarked Philadelphia, which made
its reception all the more strange, for he had no friends or
acquaintances residing in the city. He tore open the dirty epistle,
which was not even enclosed in an envelope, and read as follows:--

    PHILA. June the 19. 1864.

MR. JOHN SOMERS ESQ. Sir. I been wounded in the leg up the Missippi and
can not do nothing more. I been in your division aboard the Rosalie, and
I know you was a good man and I know you was a good officer, I hope you
be in good helth, as I am not at this present writen. my Leg is very
bad, and don't git no better. This is to inform you that I am the only
son of a poor widdow, who has no other Son, and she can not do nothing
for me, nor I can't do nothing for her. I have Fout for my countrey and
have been woundded in the servis. If you could git a penshin for me. it
would be a grate help to me Sorrowin condition. I live No -- Front
Street. If I might make bold to ask you to come and see a old Sailor,
thrown on the beam ends of missfortune, I would be very thankful to you.

    Yours to command,

    THOMAS BARRON.

N. B. The doctor says he thinks my Leg will have to come off.

Tom Longstone knows me, and you ask him, he will tell you all About me.

"Thomas Barron," mused Somers, as he folded the letter. "I don't
remember him. There were two or three Toms on board the Rosalie. At any
rate, I have nothing better to do than call upon him. He is an old
sailor, and that is enough for me."

It was already after dark; but he decided to visit the sufferer that
night, and after tea he left the house for this purpose. He was
sufficiently acquainted with the streets of this systematic city to make
his way without assistance. Of course he did not expect to find the home
of the old sailor in a wealthy and aristocratic portion of the city; but
if he had understood the character of the section to which the direction
led him, he would probably have deferred his charitable mission till the
following day. On reaching the vicinity of the place indicated, he
found himself in a vile locality, surrounded by the lowest and most
depraved of the population.

With considerable difficulty he found the number mentioned in the
letter. The lower story of the building was occupied as a liquor shop,
and a further examination of the premises assured him the place was a
sailor's boarding-house. As this fact was not inconsistent with the
character of Tom Barron, he entered the shop. Half a dozen vagabonds had
possession; and as Somers entered, the attention of the whole group was
directed to him.

"Is there a sailor by the name of Thomas Barron in this house?" asked
Somers of the greasy, corpulent woman, who stood behind about four feet
of counter, forming the bar, on which were displayed several bottles and
decanters.

"Yes, sir; and very bad he is too," replied the woman, civilly enough,
though the young officer could hardly help shuddering in her presence.

"Could I see him?"

"I 'spect you can, if you be the officer Tom says is comin' to see him."

"I am the person."

"Tom's very bad."

"So he says in his letter."

"He hain't had a minute's peace or comfort with that leg sence he come
home from the war. Be you any relation of his?"

"I am not."

"Mebbe you're his friend."

"He served under me in the Rosalie."

"Tom hain't paid no board for two months, which comes hard on a poor
woman like me, takin' care of him, and his mother too, that come here to
nuss him."

"Perhaps something can be done for him."

"Well, I hope so. I don't see how I can keep him any longer. He owes me
forty dollars. If any body'll pay half on't, I'd keep on doin' for him."

"I will see what can be done for him. Why was he not sent to the
hospital?"

"He's too bad to be sent, and he don't want to go, nuther. He says the
doctors try speriments on poor fellers like him, and he don't want to be
cut up afore he's dead."

"Well, I will endeavor to have something done for him. I am entirely
willing to help him as much as I can."

"Perhaps you'd be willin' to do sunthin' towards payin' my bill, then."

"Perhaps I will; but I wish to see the man before I do anything. Will
you show me to his room?"

"I don't go up and down stairs none now. Here, Childs, you show this
gentleman up to the front room," said the landlady to one of the
vagabonds before her. "Then go and tell Tom his officer has come. I
suppose they'll want to slick up a little, afore they let you in; but
Miss Barron will tell you when she is ready."

Somers followed the man up a flight of rickety stairs, and was ushered
into the front room. It was a bedchamber, supplied with the rudest and
coarsest furniture. The visitor sat down, after telling Childs that the
sailor's mother need not stop to "slick up" before he was admitted. He
did not like the surroundings, even independent of the villainous odors
that rose from the groggery, and those that were engendered in the
apartment where he sat. Slush and tar were agreeable perfumes, compared
with those which assaulted his sense in this chamber; and he hoped Mrs.
Barron would humiliate her pride to an extent which would permit him to
make a speedy exit from the house.

Mrs. Barron, however, appeared not to be in a hurry, and Somers waited
ten minutes by his watch, which seemed to expand into a full hour before
he heard a sound to disturb the monotony of the chamber's quiet. But
when it was disturbed, it was in such a manner that he forgot all about
the place and the odors, the hour and the occasion, and even the poor
sailor, who had so piteously appealed to him for assistance.

In the rear of the room in which Somers sat, there was a door
communicating with another apartment. The house was old and out of
repair; and this door, never very nicely adjusted, was now warped and
thrown out of place, so that great cracks yawned around the edges, and
whatever was said or done in one room, of which any knowledge could be
obtained by the sense of hearing, was immediately patent to the
occupants of the other. Somers heard footsteps in the rear room, though
the parties appeared not to have come up the stairs by which he had
ascended. The rattling of chairs and of glass ware next saluted his
ears; but as yet Somers had not the slightest interest in the business
of the adjoining apartment, and only wished that Mrs. Barron would
speedily complete the preparations for his reception.

"It's dangerous business," said one of the men in the rear room; which
remark followed a smack of the lips, and a rude depositing of the glass
on the table, indicating that the speaker had just swallowed his dram.

The man uttered his remark in a loud tone, exhibiting a strange
carelessness, if the matter in hand was as dangerous as the words
implied.

"I know it is dangerous, Langdon," said another person, in a voice which
instantly riveted the attention of the listener.

Somers heard the voice. It startled him, and he had no eye, ear, or
thought for anything but the individual who had last spoken. If he had
considered his position at all, it would only have been to wish that
Mrs. Barron might be as proud as a Chestnut Street belle, in order to
afford him time to inform himself in relation to the business of the men
who occupied the other room.

"You have been shut up in Fort Lafayette once," added the first speaker.

"In a good cause I am willing to go again," replied the voice so
familiar to the ears of Somers. "I lost eighty thousand dollars in a
venture just like this. I must get my money back."

"If you can, Coles."

Coles! But Somers did not need to have his identity confirmed by the use
of his name. He knew Coles's voice. At Newport he had lain in the
fore-sheets of the academy boat, and heard Coles and Phil Kennedy mature
their plan to place the Snowden on the ocean, as a Confederate cruiser.
He had listened to the whole conversation on that occasion, and the
knowledge he had thus obtained enabled the government to capture the
steamer, and defeat the intentions of the conspirators.

The last Somers had known of Coles, he was a prisoner in Fort Lafayette.
Probably he had been released by the same influence which set Phil
Kennedy at liberty, and permitted him to continue his career of treason
and plunder. Coles had lost eighty thousand dollars by his speculation
in the Snowden, for one half of which Kennedy was holden to him; but the
bond had been effectually cancelled by the death of the principal. Coles
wanted his money back. It was a very natural desire; but Somers could
not help considering it as a very extravagant one, under present
circumstances.

The listener could not help regarding it as a most remarkable thing,
that he should again be within hearing of Coles, engaged in plotting
treason. Such an event might happen once; but that it should occur a
second time was absolutely marvellous. If our readers are of the opinion
that the writer is too severely taxing their credulity in imposing the
situation just described upon them, he begs they will suspend their
judgment till the sequel justifies him.

It was so strange to Somers, that he could not help thinking he had been
brought there by some mysterious power to listen to and defeat the
intentions of the conspirators. He was not so far wrong as he might have
been. It was Coles who spoke; it was Coles who had been in Fort
Lafayette; and it was Coles who had lost eighty thousand dollars by the
Snowden. All these things were real, and Somers had no suspicion that he
had inhaled some of the vile compounds in the bar below, which might
have thrown him into a stupor wherein he dreamed the astounding
situation in which he was actually placed.

Somers listened, and when Coles had mixed and drank his dram, he spoke
again.

"I can and will get my money back," said he, with an oath which froze
the blood of the listener.

"Don't believe it, Coles."

"You know me, Langdon," added the plotter, with a peculiar emphasis.

Langdon acknowledged that he did know him; and as there was, therefore,
no need of an introduction, Coles proceeded.

"You know me, Langdon; I don't make any mistakes myself."

Perhaps Langdon knew it; but Somers had some doubts, which, however, he
did not purpose to urge on this occasion.

"Phil Kennedy was a fool," added Coles, with another oath. "He spoiled
all my plans before, and I was glad when I heard that he was killed,
though I lost forty thousand dollars when he slipped out. He spilt the
milk for me."

Somers thought not.

"Phil was smart about some things; but he couldn't keep a hotel. Why,
that young pup that finally gave him his quietus, twirled him around his
fingers, like he had been a school girl."

"Thank you, Mr. Coles; but I shall have the pleasure of serving you in
the same way before many weeks," thought Somers, flattered by this warm
and disinterested tribute to his strategetic ability.

"You mean Somers?" said Langdon.

"I mean Somers. The young pup isn't twenty-one yet, but he is the
smartest man in the old navy, by all odds, whether the others be
admirals, commodores, lieutenants, or what not."

"That's high praise, Coles."

"It's true. If he wasn't an imfernal Yankee, I would drink his health in
this old Bourbon. Good liquor--isn't it, Langdon?"

"Like the juice of a diamond."

"I would give more for this Somers than I would for any four rear
admirals. He has just been appointed to the Chatauqua; but he will be in
command of some small craft down South, before many months, doing more
mischief to us than any four first-class steamers in the service. He is
as brave as a young lion; knows a ship from keel to truck, and is as
familiar with every bolt and pin of an engine as though he had been a
machinist all his life."

"Big thing, eh, Coles?"

"If I had this Somers, I could make his fortune and mine in a year, and
have a million surplus besides."

"What would you do with him?"

"I would give him the command of my steamer. I would rather have him in
that place than all the old grannies in the Confederate navy."

Somers thought Mr. Coles was rather extravagant. He had no idea that Mr.
Ensign Somers was one tenth part of the man which the amiable and
patronizing Mr. Coles declared he was; and he was impatient to have the
speaker announce his intentions, rather than waste any more time in such
unwarrantable commendation.

But instead of telling what he intended to do, he confined himself most
provokingly to what he had failed to do, giving Langdon minute details
of the capture of the Theban and the Snowden, dwelling with peculiar
emphasis on the agency of Somers in the work. This was not interesting
to the listener, but something better soon followed.



CHAPTER IV.

THE FRONT CHAMBER.


"But I am going to get back the money I lost, and make a pile besides,"
said Coles, when he had fully detailed the events attending the loss of
the Snowden.

"If you can," added the sceptical Langdon.

"Of course there is some risk, but my plans are so well laid that a
failure is hardly possible," continued Coles.

"It was possible before."

"Nothing but an accident could have defeated my plan before. Everything
worked to my satisfaction, and I was sure of success."

"But you failed."

"I shall not fail again."

"I hope not."

"Then believe I shall not," retorted Coles, apparently irritated by the
doubts and fears of his companion.

"It is not safe to believe too much," added Langdon, with a kind of
chuckle, whose force Somers could hardly understand; "you believed too
much before."

"I have been more cautious this time, and I wouldn't give anybody five
per cent. to insure the venture."

Somers was becoming very impatient to hear the particulars of the plan,
for he was in momentary fear of being summoned to the bedside of the
wounded sailor. Coles was most provokingly deliberate in the discussion
of his treasonable project; but when the naval officer considered that
the conversation was not especially intended for him, he did not very
severely censure the conspirators for their tardiness.

"I don't understand what your plan is," said Langdon.

"Nor I either," was Somers's facetious thought.

"I will tell you all about it. Are there any ears within hail of us?"

"Not an ear."

"Is there anybody in the front room?"

"No."

"Are you sure?"

"The old woman told me the front room was not occupied. She sent in
there an officer who wanted to see a sick sailor upstairs; but he is
gone before this time."

"Perhaps not; make sure on this point before I open my mouth. I have no
idea of being tripped up this time," said the cautious Coles.

"I will look into the front room," added Langdon, "though I know there
is no one there."

Somers was rather annoyed at this demonstration of prudence; but it was
quite natural, and he was all the more interested to hear the rest of
the conference. Dismissing for a moment the dignity of the quarter deck,
he dropped hastily on the floor, and crawled under the bed, concluding
that Langdon, who was already fully satisfied the front room was empty,
would not push his investigations to an unreasonable extent. But he had
already prepared himself for the worst, and if his presence were
detected, he resolved to take advantage of the high estimation in which
he was held, and, for his country's good, proposed to offer his valuable
services in getting the piratical ship to sea. He could thus obtain the
secret, and defeat the purposes of the conspirators.

He fortunately avoided the necessity of resorting to this disagreeable
course, for Langdon only opened the door, and glanced into the chamber
he occupied.

"The room is empty," he reported to Coles, on his return.

"There are cracks around this door big enough to crawl through. Somebody
may go into that room without being heard, and listen to all I say."

"There is no danger."

"But there is danger; and I will not leave the ghost of a chance to be
discovered. Langdon, lock that front room, and put the key in your
pocket. I must have things perfectly secure before I open my mouth."

Langdon complied with the request of his principal; the door was locked,
and Somers, without much doubt or distrust, found his retreat cut off
for the present. But, at last, everything was fixed to the entire
satisfaction of Coles. The glasses clinked again, indicating that the
worthies had fortified themselves with another dose from the bottle.
Somers crawled out from under the bed, and heedless of the dust which
whitened his new uniform, placed himself in a comfortable position,
where he could hear all that was said by the confederates.

Coles now told his story in a straightforward, direct manner, and Somers
made memoranda on the back of a letter of the principal facts in the
statement. The arch conspirator had just purchased a fine iron
side-wheel steamer, captured on the blockade, called the Ben Nevis. She
was about four hundred tons burden, and under favorable circumstances
had often made sixteen knots an hour. It had already been announced in
the newspapers that the Ben Nevis would run regularly between New York
and St. John. Coles intended to clear her properly for her destined
port, where she could, by an arrangement already made, be supplied with
guns, ammunition, and a crew. She was to clear regularly for New York,
but instead of proceeding there was to commence her piratical course on
the ocean.

This was the plan of the worthy Mr. Coles, which Langdon permitted him
to develop without a single interruption. But the prudent, or rather
critical, confederate raised many objections, which were discussed at
great length--so great that Somers, possessed of the principal facts,
would have left the room, if the door had not been locked, and escaped
from the house, so as to avoid the possibility of being discovered. The
wounded sailor could be attended to on the following day.

"But one thing we lack," continued Coles, after he had removed all the
objections of his companion.

"More than one, I fear," said the doubtful Langdon.

"Well, one thing more than all others."

"What is that?"

"A naval officer to command her."

"There are plenty of them."

"No doubt of it; but they are not the kind I want. I need a man who will
play into my hand, as well as grind up the Yankees. I have no idea of
burning all the property captured by my vessel."

"Why don't you take command yourself?"

"I have other business to do."

"There are scores of Confederate naval officers in Canada and New
Brunswick," suggested Langdon.

"I know them all, and I wouldn't trust them to command a mud-scow. In a
word, Langdon, I want this Somers, and I must have him."

"But he is a northern Yankee. He would sooner cut his own throat than
engage in such an enterprise."

"Thank you for that," said Somers to himself. "If you had known me all
my lifetime, you couldn't have said a better or a truer thing of me."

"I know he is actually reeking with what he calls loyalty. He will be a
hard subject, but I think he can be brought over."

"Perhaps he can."

"It must be done; that is the view we must take of the matter."

"It will be easier to believe it than to do it."

"This is to be your share of the enterprise."

"Mine?"

"Yes."

"Well, I think you have given me the biggest job in the work."

"It can be done," said Coles, confidently. "Somers is a mere boy in
years, though he is smarter and knows more than any man in the navy in
the prime of life."

"I'm afraid he is too smart, and knows too much to be caught in such a
scrape."

"No; he is young and ambitious. Offer him a commission as a commander in
the Confederate navy, to begin with. I have the commission duly signed
by the president of the Confederacy, countersigned by the secretary of
the navy, with a blank for the name of the man who receives it, which I
am authorized to fill up as I think best. Somers must have this
commission."

"If he will take it."

"He will take it. In the old navy he is nothing but a paltry ensign. He
has been kept back. His merit has been ignored. He must stand out of the
way for numskulls and old fogies. Even if the war should last ten years
longer, he could not reach the rank, in that time, which I now tender
him. He will at once be offered the command of a fine steamer, and may
walk the quarter deck like a king. He is ambitious, and if you approach
him in the right way, you can win him over."

Somers listened with interest to this precious scheme. He did not even
feel complimented by the exalted opinion which such a man as Coles
entertained of him. It would be a pleasant thing for a young man like
him to be a commander, and have a fine steamer; but as he could regard
only with horror the idea of firing a gun at a vessel bearing the stars
and stripes, he was not even tempted by the bait; and he turned his
thoughts from it without the necessity of a "Get thee behind me, Satan,"
in dismissing it.

"Where is this Somers?" asked Langdon.

"He is at the Continental," replied Coles. "He has been appointed fourth
lieutenant of the Chatauqua; but what a position for a man of his
abilities! He is better qualified to command the ship than the numskull
to whom she has been given. Waldron, the first lieutenant, is smart: he
ought to be commander; though I think Somers did all the hard work in
Doboy Sound, for which Waldron got the credit, and for which he was
promoted. Pillgrim, the second lieutenant, is a renegade Virginian."

"We had some hopes of him, at one time," said Langdon.

"He is worse than a Vermont Yankee now--has been all along, for that
matter. I tried to do something with him, but he talked about the old
flag, and other bosh of that sort."

"Let him go," added Langdon, with becoming resignation.

"Let him go! He never went. He has always been a Yankee at heart. If the
navy department wouldn't trust him, it was their fault, not his, for the
South has not had a worse enemy than he since the first gun was fired at
Sumter. He is none the better, and all the more dangerous to us, because
he gives the South credit for skill and bravery."

Somers was pleased to hear this good account of Lieutenant Pillgrim; not
because he had any doubt in regard to his loyalty, but because it
confirmed the good impression he had received of his travelling
companion. If the conspirators would only have graciously condescended
to resolve the doubts in his mind in regard to some indefinite previous
acquaintance he had had with the second lieutenant of the Chatauqua, he
would have been greatly obliged to them. They did not do this, and
Somers was still annoyed and puzzled by the belief, patent to his
consciousness, that he had somewhere been intimate with the "renegade
Virginian," before they met at the house of Commodore Portington.

"Now, Langdon, you must contrive to meet Somers, sound him, and bring
him over. You must be cautious with him. He is a young man of good
morals--never drinks, gambles, or goes to bad places. He is a perfect
gentleman in his manners, never swears, and is the pet of the
chaplains."

"I think I can manage him."

"I know you can; I have picked you out of a hundred smart fellows for
this work."

"How will it do for me to put on a white choker, and approach him as a
doctor of divinity."

"You can't humbug him."

"If I can't, why should I try?"

"If you should pretend to be a clergyman, and he smelt the whiskey in
your breath, he would set you down as a hypocrite at once."

"That's so," thought Somers.

"He wouldn't listen to a preacher who drank whiskey. He is a fanatic on
these points."

Somers could not imagine where Coles had obtained such an intimate
knowledge of his views and principles; though, if he wanted his services
in the Confederate navy, it was probable he had made diligent inquiries
in regard to his opinions and habits.

"I think I could blind him as a D.D., but I am not strenuous."

"You had better get acquainted with him in some other capacity."

"As you please; I will think over the matter, and be ready to make a
strike to-morrow morning. What time is it?"

"Quarter past ten."

"So late! I must be off at once."

Somers heard the clatter of glass-ware again, as the conspirators took
the parting libation. He listened to their retreating footsteps, heard
Langdon return the key, and then began to wonder what had become of Tom
Barron and his mother. He had waited more than two hours in the front
room, and no summons had come for him to see the wounded sailor. It was
very singular, to say the least; but while he was deliberating on the
point, a hand was placed on the door of the chamber. The key turned, and
a person entered.

Now, Somers had a very strong objection to being seen after what had
occurred. If discovered in this room, Coles might see him, and finding
his plans discovered, might change them so as to defeat the ends of
justice. And the listener felt that, if detected in this apartment by
the conspirators, they would not scruple to take his life in order to
save themselves and their schemes.

For these reasons Somers decided not to be seen. The person who entered
the room was a rough, seafaring man, and evidently intended to sleep
there, which Somers was entirely willing he should do, if it could be
done without imperilling his personal safety. He therefore crawled under
the bed again, as quietly as possible. Unfortunately it was not quietly
enough to escape the observation of the lodger, who, not being of the
timid sort, seized him by the leg, dragged him out, and with a volley of
marine oaths, began to kick him with his heavy boot.

Somers sprang to his feet, and attempted to explain; but the indignant
seaman struck him a heavy blow on the head, which felled him senseless
on the floor.



CHAPTER V.

SOMERS COMES TO HIS SENSES.


When Somers opened his eyes, about half an hour after the striking event
just narrated, and became conscious that he was still in the land of the
living, he was lying on the bed in his chamber at the Continental. By
his side stood Lieutenant Pillgrim and a surgeon.

"Where am I?" asked the young officer, using the original expression
made and provided for occasions of this kind.

"You are here, my dear fellow," replied the lieutenant.

This valuable information seemed to afford the injured party a great
deal of consolation, for he looked around the apartment, not wildly, as
he would have done if this book were a novel, but with a look of
perplexity and dissatisfaction. As Mr. Ensign Somers was eminently a
fighting man on all proper occasions, he probably felt displeased with
himself to think he had given the stalwart seaman so easy a victory; for
he distinctly remembered the affair in which he had been so rudely
treated, though there was a great gulf between the past and the present
in his recollection.

"How do you feel, Mr. Somers?" asked the surgeon.

"The fact that I feel at all is quite enough for me at the present time,
without going into the question as to how I feel," replied the patient,
with a sickly smile. "I don't exactly know how I do feel. My ideas are
rather confused."

"I should think they might be," added the surgeon. "You have had a hard
rap on the head."

"So I should judge, for my brain is rather muddled."

"Does your head pain you?" asked the medical gentleman, placing his hand
on the injured part.

"It does not exactly pain me, but it feels rather sore. I think I will
get up, and see how that affects me."

Somers got up, and immediately came to the conclusion that he was not
very badly damaged; and the surgeon was happy to corroborate his
opinion. With the exception of a soreness over the left temple, he felt
pretty well. The blow from the iron fist of the burly seaman had stunned
him; and the kicks received from the big boots of the assailant had
produced sundry black and blue places on his body, which a man not
accustomed to hard knocks might have looked upon with suspicion, but to
which Somers paid no attention.

The surgeon had carefully examined him before his consciousness
returned, and was fully satisfied that he had not been seriously
injured. Somers walked across the room two or three times, and bathed
his head with cold water, which in a great measure restored the
consistency of his ideas. He felt a little sore, but he soon became as
chipper and as cheerful as an early robin. His first thought was, that
he had escaped being murdered, and he was devoutly thankful to God for
the mercy which had again spared his life.

The doctor, after giving him some directions in regard to his head, and
the black and blue spots on his body, left the room. He was a naval
surgeon, a guest in the hotel, and promised to see his patient again in
the morning.

"How do you feel, Somers?" asked Lieutenant Pillgrim, who sat on the
bed, gazing with interest, not unmixed with anxiety, at his companion.

"I feel pretty well, considering the hard rap I got on the head."

"You have a hard head, Somers."

"Why so?"

"If you had not, you would have been a dead man. The fellow pounded you
with his fist, which is about as heavy as an anvil, and kicked you with
his boots, which are large enough and stout enough to make two very
respectable gunboats."

"Things are rather mixed in my mind," added Somers, rubbing his head
again, as if to explain how a strong-minded young man like himself
should be troubled in his upper works.

"I am not surprised at that. You have remained insensible more than half
an hour. I was afraid, before the surgeon saw you, that your pipe was
out, and you had become a D.D. without taking orders."

"I think I had a narrow escape. What a tiger the fellow was that pitched
into me!"

"It was all a mistake on his part."

"Perhaps it was; but that don't make my head feel any better. Who is he,
and what is he?"

"He is the captain of a coaster. He had considerable money in his
pocket, and he thought you had concealed yourself in his room for the
purpose of robbing him. When he saw that you were an officer in the
navy, he was overwhelmed with confusion, and really felt very bad about
it."

"I don't know that I blame him for what he did, under the circumstances.
His conclusion was not a very unnatural one. I don't exactly comprehend
how I happen to be in the Continental House, after these stunning
events."

"Don't you?" said Pillgrim, with a smile.

"If I had been in condition to expect anything, I should naturally have
expected to find myself, on coming to my senses, in the low groggery
where I received the blows."

"That is very easily accounted for. I happened to be at the house when
you were struck down. I was in the lower room, and heard the row. With
others I went up to see what the matter was. I had a carriage in the
street, and when I recognized you, the captain of the coaster, at my
request, took you up in his arms like a baby, carried you down into the
street, and put you into the vehicle, and you were brought here. I
presume this will fill up the entire gap in your recollection."

"It is all as clear as mud now," laughed Somers. "Mr. Pillgrim, I am
very grateful to you for the kind offices you rendered me."

"Don't mention it, my dear fellow. I should have been worse than a brute
if I had done any less than I did."

"That may be; but my gratitude is none the less earnest on that account.
Those are villainous people in that house, and I might have been
butchered and cut up, if I had been left there."

"I think not. The captain of the coaster is evidently an honest man; at
any rate he is very sorry for what he did. But, Somers, my dear
fellow,--you will pardon me if I seem impertinent,--how did you happen
to be in such a place?" continued Mr. Pillgrim, with a certain
affectation of slyness in his look, as though he had caught the
exemplary young man in a house where he would not have been willing to
be seen.

"How did _you_ happen to be there?" demanded Somers.

"I don't profess to be a very proper person. I take my whiskey when I
want it."

"So do I; and the only difference between us is, that I never happen to
want it."

"I did not go into that house for my whiskey, though. It is rather
strange that we should both happen into such a place at the same time."

"Rather strange."

"But I will tell you why I was there," added Pillgrim. "I received a
letter from a wounded sailor, asking me to call upon him, and assist him
in obtaining a pension."

"Did you, indeed!" exclaimed Somers, amazed at this explanation. "You
have also told how I happened to be there."

"How was that?"

"I received just such a letter as that you describe," replied Somers,
taking the dirty epistle from his pocket, which he opened and exhibited
to his brother officer.

"The handwriting is the same, and the substance of both letters is
essentially the same. That's odd--isn't it?" continued the lieutenant,
as he drew the epistle he had received from his pocket. "I got mine when
I came in, about ten o'clock; and thinking I might go to New York in the
morning for a couple of days, I thought I would attend to the matter at
once."

Somers took the letters, and compared them. They were written by the
same person, on the same kind of paper, and were both mailed on the same
day.

"This looks rather suspicious to me," added Pillgrim, reflecting on the
circumstances.

"Why suspicious?"

"Why should both of us have been called? Tom Barron claims to have
served with me, as he did with you. I don't remember any such person."

"Neither do I."

"Did you find out whether there was any such person at the house as Tom
Barron?"

"The woman at the bar told me there was a wounded sailor there whose
description answered to that contained in the letter."

"So she told me. Did you see him?"

"No."

"I did not; and between you and me, I don't believe there is any Tom
Barron there, or anywhere else. This business must be investigated,"
said Pillgrim, very decidedly.

Somers did not wish it to be investigated. He was utterly opposed to an
investigation, for he was fearful, if the matter should be "ventilated,"
that more would be shown than he was willing to have exhibited at the
present time; in other words, Coles would find out that his enterprising
scheme had been exposed to a third person.

"I don't care to be mixed up in any revelations of low life, Mr.
Pillgrim; and, as I have lost nothing, and the hard knocks I received
were given under a mistake, I think I would rather let the matter rest
just where it is."

"Very natural for a young man of your style," laughed the lieutenant.
"You are afraid the people of Pinchbrook will read in the papers that
Mr. Somers has been in bad places."

"They might put a wrong construction on the case," replied Somers,
willing to have his reasons for avoiding an investigation as strong as
possible.

"I can hand these letters over to the police, and let the officers
inquire into the matter," added Pillgrim. "They need not call any
names."

"I would rather not stir up the dirty pool. Besides, Tom Barron and his
mother may be in the house, after all. There is no evidence to the
contrary."

"I shall satisfy myself on that point by another visit to the house. If
I find there is such a person there, I shall be satisfied."

"That will be the better way."

Just then it occurred to Somers that Coles might have seen him while he
was insensible, and was already aware that his scheme had miscarried. He
questioned Pillgrim, therefore, in regard to the persons in the bar-room
when he entered. From the answers received he satisfied himself that
the conspirators had departed before the "row" in the front room
occurred.

"Now, Somers, I am going down to that house again before I sleep," said
the lieutenant. "This time, I shall take my revolver. Will you go with
me?"

"I don't feel exactly able to go out again to-night. My head doesn't
feel just right," replied Somers, who, however, had other reasons for
keeping his room, the principal of which was the fear that he might meet
Coles there, and that, by some accident, his presence in the front room
during the conference might be disclosed.

"I think you are right, Somers. You had better keep still to-night,"
said Pillgrim. "Shall I send you up anything?"

"Thank you; I don't need anything."

"A glass of Bourbon whiskey would do you good. It would quiet your
nerves, and put you to sleep."

"Perhaps it would, but I shall lie awake on those terms."

"Don't be bigoted, my dear fellow. Of course I prescribe the whiskey as
a medicine."

"You are no surgeon."

"It would quiet your nerves."

"Let them kick, if nothing but whiskey will quiet them," laughed Somers.
"Seriously, Mr. Pillgrim, I am very much obliged to you for your
kindness, and for your interest in me; but I think I shall be better
without the whiskey than with it."

"As you please, Somers. If you are up when I return, I will tell you
what I find at the house."

"Thank you; I will leave my door unfastened."

Mr. Pillgrim left the room to make his perilous examination of the
locality of his friend's misfortunes. Somers walked the apartment,
nervous and excited, considering the events of the evening. He then
seated himself, and carefully wrote out the statement of Coles in regard
to the Ben Nevis, and the method by which he purposed to operate in
getting her to sea as a Confederate cruiser, with extended memoranda of
all the conversation to which he had listened. Before he had finished
this task, Lieutenant Pillgrim returned.

"It is all right," said he, as he entered the room.

"What's all right?"

"There is such a person as Thomas Barron. The facts contained in the
letters are essentially true."

"Then no investigation is necessary," replied Somers, with a feeling of
relief.

"None whatever; to-morrow I will see that the poor fellow is sent to the
hospital, and his mother provided for."

Mr. Pillgrim, after again recommending a glass of whiskey, took his
leave, and Somers finished his paper. He went to bed, and in spite of
the fact that he had drank no whiskey, his nerves were quiet, and he
dropped asleep like a good Christian, with a prayer in his heart for the
"loved ones at home" and elsewhere.

The next morning, though he was still quite sore, and his head felt
heavier than usual, he was in much better condition, physically, than
could have been expected. After breakfast, as he sat in the parlor of
the hotel, he was accosted by a gentleman in blue clothes, with a very
small cap on his head.

"An officer of the navy, I perceive," said the stranger, courteously.

"How are you, Langdon?" was the thought, but not the reply, of Somers.



CHAPTER VI.

LIEUTENANT WYNKOOP, R. N.


The gentlemanly individual who addressed Somers wore the uniform of an
English naval officer. By easy and gentle approaches, he proceeded to
make himself very agreeable. He was lavish in his praise of the
achievements of the "American navy," and was sure that no nation on the
face of the globe had ever displayed such skill and energy in creating a
war marine. Somers listened patiently to this eloquent and just tribute
to the enterprise of his country; and if he had not suspected that the
enthusiastic speaker was playing an assumed character, he would have
ventured to suggest that the position of John Bull was rather equivocal;
that a little less admiration, and a little more genuine sympathy, would
be more acceptable.

"We sailors belong to the same fraternity all over the world," said the
pretended Englishman. "There is something in sailors which draws them
together. I never meet one without desiring to know him better. Allow me
to present you my card, and beg the favor of yours in return."

He handed his card to Somers, who read upon it the name of "Lieutenant
Wynkoop, R. N." It was elaborately engraved, and our officer began to
have some doubts in regard to his new-found acquaintance, for the card
could hardly have been got up since the interview of the preceding
evening. This gentleman might not be Langdon, after all; but whether he
was or not, it was proper to treat him with respect and consideration.
Somers wrote his name on a blank card, and gave it to him.

"Thank you, Mr. Somers: here is my hand," said Lieutenant Wynkoop, when
he had read the name. "I am happy to make your acquaintance."

Somers took the offered hand, and made a courteous reply, to the
salutations of the other.

"May I beg the favor of your company to dinner with me in my private
parlor to-day?" continued Mr. Wynkoop. "I have a couple of bottles of
fine old sherry, which have twice made the voyage to India, sent to me
by an esteemed American friend residing in this city."

"Thank you, Mr. Wynkoop. To the dinner I have not the slightest
objection; to the wine I have; and I'm afraid you must reserve it for
some one who will appreciate it more highly than I can. I never drink
wine."

"Ah, indeed?" said the presumed representative of the royal navy, as he
adjusted an eye-glass to his left eye, keeping it in position by
contracting the muscles above and below the visual member, which gave a
peculiar squint to his expression, very trying to the risibles of his
auditor.

"I should be happy to dine with you, but I don't drink wine," repeated
Somers, in good-natured but rather bluff tones, for he did not wish to
be understood as apologizing for his total abstinence principles.

"I should be glad to meet you in my private parlor, say, at four
o'clock, whether you drink wine or not, Mr. Somers."

"Four o'clock?"

"It's rar-ther early, I know. If you prefer five, say the word," drawled
Mr. Wynkoop.

"I should say that would be nearer supper time than four," replied
Somers, who had lately been in the habit of dining at twelve in
Pinchbrook.

"Earlier if you please, then."

"Any hour that is convenient for you will suit me."

"Let it be four, then. But I must acknowledge, Mr. Somers, I am not
entirely unselfish in desiring to make your acquaintance. The operations
of the American navy have astonished me, and I wish to know more about
it. I landed in New York only a few days since, and I improve every
opportunity to make the acquaintance of American naval officers. I have
not yet visited one of your dock yards."

"I am going over to look at my ship this forenoon, and I should be
delighted with your company."

"Thank you! thank you!" exclaimed Mr. Wynkoop. "I shall be under great
obligations to you for the favor."

They went to the navy yard, visited the Chatauqua, and other vessels of
war fitting out there. Mr. Wynkoop asked a thousand questions about
ships, engines, and armaments; and one could hardly help regarding him
as the most enthusiastic admirer of naval architecture. Though the
gentleman spoke in affected tones, Somers had recognized the voice of
Langdon. This was the person, without a doubt, who was to lure him into
the Confederate navy, who was to crown his aspirations with a
commander's commission, and reward his infidelity with the command of a
fine steamer.

Somers was very impatient for the inquiring member of the royal navy to
make his proposition; for, strange as it may seem to the loyal reader,
he had fully resolved to accept the brilliant offers he expected to
receive; to permit Coles to place the name of "John Somers" in the blank
of the commander's commission which he had in his possession; and even
to take his place on the quarter deck of the Ben Nevis, if it became
necessary to carry proceedings to that extent.

But Lieutenant Wynkoop did not even allude to the Confederate navy, or
to the Ben Nevis, and did not even attempt to sound the loyalty of his
companion. Somers concluded at last that this matter was reserved for
the after-dinner conversation; and as he could afford to wait, he
continued to give his friend every facility for prosecuting his
inquiries into the secret of the marvellous success of the "American
navy."

After writing out his statement of Coles's plans, he had carefully and
prayerfully considered his duty in relation to the startling information
he had thus accidentally obtained. Of course he had no doubt as to what
he should do. He must be sure that the Ben Nevis was handed over to the
government; that Coles and Langdon were put in close quarters. He only
inquired how this should be done. Though the Snowden and the Theban had
been captured in the former instance, both Kennedy and Coles had escaped
punishment, and one of them was again engaged in the work of pulling
down the government.

If he gave information at the present stage of the conspiracy, his plans
might be defeated. Though Coles had mentioned no names, it was more than
probable that he was aided and abetted in his treasonable projects by
other persons. There were traitors in Boston, New York, and
Philadelphia, men of wealth and influence, occupying high positions in
society, who were engaged in just such enterprises as that which had
been revealed to the young naval officer.

Somers felt, therefore, that a premature exposure might ruin himself
without overthrowing the conspirators. A word from one of these
influential men might lay him on the shelf, to say the least, and remove
all suspicion from the guilty ones. He must proceed with the utmost
caution, both for his own safety and the success of his enterprise.

Besides, he felt that, if he could get "inside of the ring," he should
find out who the great men were that were striking at the heart of the
nation in the dark. By obtaining the confidence of the conspirators, he
could the more easily baffle them, and do the country a greater service
than he could render on the quarter deck of the Chatauqua.

After an earnest and careful consideration of the whole matter, he
concluded that his present duty was to pay out rope enough to permit
Coles and his guilty associates to hang themselves. For this purpose, he
was prepared to receive Langdon with open arms, to accept the commission
intended for him, and to enter into the secret councils of his country's
bitterest enemies.

Somers, pure and patriotic in his motives, did not for a moment consider
that he exposed himself to any risk in thus entering the councils of the
wicked, or even in taking a commission in the service of the enemy. He
did not intend to aid or abet in the treason of the traitors, and he did
not think what might be the result if a rebel commission were found upon
his person. He might be killed in battle with this damning document in
his pocket. If any of the conspirators were caught, they might denounce
him as one of their number. He did not think of these things. He was
ambitious to serve his treason-ridden country, and he forgot all about
himself.

It was half past three when Somers and Wynkoop returned to the hotel
from their visit to the navy yard. Langdon had evidently been in
England, for he insisted upon calling it a "dock yard." They separated
to dress for dinner, as the courtly John Bull expressed it. At four they
met again in the private parlor, where an elegant dinner was served, and
where Mr. Wynkoop sipped his sherry "which had twice made the voyage to
the East Indies," though it probably came from the cellar of the hotel.
When the coffee had been brought in, and the waiters had retired, the
representative of the royal navy lighted his cigar, and began, in a very
moderate way, to express some slight admiration for the skill and
prowess of the rebels. Somers helped him along until he became a
thorough rebel.

"With all my admiration for the American navy, Mr. Somers, I find there
is a great deal of injustice towards the officers, especially the
younger ones," continued Mr. Wynkoop, after he had sufficiently
indicated his sympathy for the "noble and gallant people who were
struggling against such hodds in the South."--The lieutenant
occasionally pressed an _h_ into use where it was not needed--probably
to be entirely consistent with himself.

"That's true; and I have suffered from it myself," replied Somers,
determined that his companion should want no inducement to make his
proposition as soon as he was ready.

"I don't doubt it, Mr. Somers;" and Mr. Wynkoop stated some instances
which had come to his knowledge.

Somers then gave a list of his own imaginary grievances, and professed
to be greatly dissatisfied with his present position and prospects.

"I think you would do better in the Confederate navy," said the
lieutenant, warmly.

"Perhaps I should."

"Whichever side you fight for, you fight for your own country."

"That's true."

"When the South wins,--as win she will,--all who fought against her,
will be like prophets in their own country--without honor. In less than
two months the independence of the Confederate States will be
acknowledged by England and France. I happen to know this."

"It would not surprise me."

"My uncle, the Earl of--never mind; I won't mention his name--my uncle,
who is an intimate friend of Palmerston, told me so."

Somers was rather glad to hear it, for it would bring the desolating war
to a close. Mr. Wynkoop hesitated no longer. He approached the real
business of the meeting rapidly, and in a few moments the commander's
commission was on the table. The offer was made, and Somers, with such
apparent qualms of conscience as a naval officer might be expected to
exhibit on deserting his flag, accepted the proposition. Mr. Wynkoop
went into his sleeping apartment, adjoining the parlor, with the
commission in his hand.

He returned in a moment with the name of "John Somers," filled in the
blank space left for that purpose, and handed it to his guest.

Somers shuddered when he saw his name written upon such an infernal
document; for though he was still true to God, his country, and himself,
the paper had an ugly look. But he regarded it only as evidence against
the conspirators, rather than against himself; as a necessary formality
to enable him to frustrate the designs of traitors, rather than as a
blot against his own name.

"Mr. Somers, I congratulate you. If you could be induced to join me in a
glass of this old sherry, we would drink to the success of the
Louisiana--for that is to be the name of your craft when you get to
sea."

"I thank you, Mr. Wynkoop; you must excuse me."

"As you please. Mr. Somers, though I am an Englishman, and belong to the
royal navy, it is hardly necessary for me to say now, that I am in the
service of the South. I go with you in the Louisiana, as a passenger.
Your first work will be to capture one of the California steamers, which
I am to transform into a man-of-war, and call the Texas. She will be
under my command."

"I am satisfied."

"By the way, Captain Somers," added Wynkoop, as he took a paper from his
pocket, "here is the oath of allegiance to the Confederate States of
America, which it will be necessary for you to sign."

This was more than Somers had bargained for, and he would have cut off
his right hand, or permitted his head to be severed from his body,
rather than put his signature to the detested paper. A cold chill crept
through his veins, as he glanced at the sheet on which it was printed,
and he was afraid all he had done would fail because he could not do
this thing.

Lieutenant Wynkoop brought a pen and ink from his sleeping apartment,
and placed it by the side of his guest.

"I would rather not sign this just now," said Somers. "It might get me
into trouble."

"Very well; we will attend to that after you get on board of the Ben
Nevis," replied Wynkoop, as he took the oath and the commission, with
the pen and ink, and went into his chamber again.

He was absent several minutes this time, and Somers had an opportunity
to review his position.

"Here is your commission, Captain Somers," said the lieutenant, as he
placed the document on the table. "On the whole, I think you had better
sign the oath now."

"I think it will do just as well when we get off."

"Perhaps it will; here are your orders," said he, handing Somers
another paper, and placing that containing the oath on the table.

At this moment, Somers heard a step in the direction of the bedroom. He
turned, with surprise, to see who it was, for he had heard no one enter.

"Ah, Somers, I am glad to see you," said the new arrival, stepping up to
the table, and glancing at the papers which lay open there.

It was Lieutenant Pillgrim.



CHAPTER VII

LANGDON'S LETTERS.


It had been no part of Somers's purpose to bear the whole responsibility
of the transactions in which he had so promptly engaged. Mr. Waldron
would return in a few days, and on his arrival, the overburdened young
officer intended to confide the momentous secret to him, receiving the
benefit of his advice and support in the great business he had
undertaken.

After the kind treatment he had received at the hands of Lieutenant
Pillgrim, he was rather disposed to make him a confidant; but he knew so
little about his travelling companion, that though he had no question
about his fidelity and honor, he was not quite willing to stake
everything on his judgment and discretion, as he must do, if he opened
the subject to him.

Somers was not a little surprised to see Mr. Pillgrim enter the parlor
in that unceremonious way. It indicated a degree of intimacy between the
two gentleman that gave him an unpleasant impression, which, however, he
had no time to follow out to its legitimate issue.

"Excuse me, Mr. Wynkoop," said Lieutenant Pillgrim, as he paused at the
side of the table, "for entering in this abrupt manner. I have been
knocking at your door for some time, without obtaining a response."

"You went to the wrong door. That's my bedroom."

"So I perceive, now."

"But there is no harm done; on the contrary, I am very glad to see you.
Sit down and take a glass of wine with me. Mr. Somers does not indulge."

"Mr. Somers is a very proper young man," said the lieutenant, with a
pleasant smile, as he glanced again at the papers which lay open on the
table. "I have been looking for you, Somers, but it was only to ask you
what the prospect is on board the Chatauqua. I have not been on board
to-day."

"I think we shall be wanted by to-morrow or next day," replied Somers,
who could not help seeing that the eye of his superior officer was fixed
on the commander's commission, which lay open before him.

"Indeed! I am glad to know this, for I had made up my mind to go to New
York in the morning. Of course I shall not go."

"Sit down, Mr.--Really, sir, you must excuse me, but I have forgotten
your name," said Mr. Wynkoop.

"Lieutenant Pillgrim--at your service. It is not very surprising that
you should forget it, since we have met but once; not half so
surprising as that I should force myself into your rooms, on so short an
acquaintance."

"Don't mention it, my dear fellow. We sailors are brothers all over the
world. Sit down, and take a glass of sherry with me. It's a capital
wine--made two voyages to India."

"Excuse me, Mr. Wynkoop; I merely called to invite you to spend the
evening with me. I have a plan that will use up two or three hours very
pleasantly."

"Thank you, Mr. Pillgrim. You are a friend in need, and a friend
indeed."

"I see that you and Mr. Somers have business, and I will take my leave."

"I should be happy to have you remain, but if you will not, I will join
you in half an hour in the reading-room. Better sit down, and wait
here."

"I will not interrupt your business with Mr. Somers," replied Lieutenant
Pillgrim, again glancing curiously at the documents on the table.

Greatly to the relief of Somers, his fellow-officer left the room. This
visit had been a most unfortunate one, for the lieutenant could not have
avoided seeing the nature of the papers on the table. But as Somers was
a true and loyal man, his conscience accused him of no wrong, and he had
no fears in regard to the result. This revelation simply imposed upon
him the necessity of making Mr. Pillgrim his confidant, which he
proposed to do at the first convenient opportunity.

"You think you will not sign the oath to-night, Mr. Somers?" said his
companion.

"It had better be deferred," replied Somers, as he folded up the
commission, and put it in his pocket, regarding it as the most important
evidence in his possession against Coles, and a sufficient confirmation
of the truth of the statement he had so carefully written out the night
before.

"Suit yourself, Somers. We shall not differ about these small matters,"
added Wynkoop, as he folded up the oath, and put it in his pocket. "By
the way, Somers, what do you think of our friend Pillgrim?"

"He is a fine fellow, and I am told he is a good officer. I was not
aware that you knew him."

"I have only met him once, just as I met you. How do you think he stands
affected towards our cause?"

"Not well."

"So I feared."

"He is a loyal man, though a Virginian."

"Do you think I could make anything of him?"

"I am satisfied you could not."

"I did not dare to try him. I gave him a chance to nibble at my bait,
but he wouldn't bite. Perhaps, when I know him better, he will come
round; for I don't think there are many of these Yankee officers that
have any real heart in their work."

"You are utterly mistaken," said Somers; but remembering that he was
hardly in a position to defend his loyal comrades in the navy, he did
not seriously combat the proposition of the rebel emissary.

As the business of the interview was now finished, Somers shook hands
with his agreeable host--though his heart repelled the act,--and took
leave of him. He hastened to his chamber, agitated and excited by the
strange and revolting scene through which he had just passed. It was
some time before he was calm enough to think coherently of what he had
done, and of the compact he had made. He wished very much to see Mr.
Waldron now; indeed, he felt the absolute necessity of confiding to some
trustworthy person the momentous secret he had obtained, which burned in
his soul like an evil deed.

If Lieutenant Pillgrim had not actually read his commission when it lay
on the table, he must, at least, have suspected that all was not right
with his shipmate. He must, therefore, confide in him, and without the
loss of another moment, he hastened to his room for this purpose; but
the lieutenant was not there. He searched for him in all the public
rooms of the hotel, but without success. Remembering that his
fellow-officer was to meet Mr. Wynkoop in the reading-room half an hour
from the time they parted, he waited there over an hour, but the
appointment evidently was not kept by either party.

Somers did not wish to sleep another night without sharing his great
secret with some one; for if anything should happen to him, he reasoned,
the commission and the orders might be found in his possession, and
subject him to very unpleasant suspicions, if they did not expose him to
the actual charge of complicity with the enemies of his country. He
waited in the vicinity of the office till midnight, hoping to see Mr.
Pillgrim; but he did not appear, and he reluctantly retired to his
chamber.

When he carried his key to the office in the morning, there was a note
in his box, addressed to him. The ink of the direction was hardly dry,
and the lap of the envelope was still wet where it had been moistened to
seal it. Somers opened it. He was surprised and startled at its
contents; but the writer had evidently made a mistake in the
superscription. It was as follows:--

     "MY DEAR PILLGRIM: I have just sent a note to Somers, saying
     that the Ben Nevis has sailed,--which is a fact,--and that he
     must join her at Mobile, where she will run in a cargo of arms
     and provisions. Act accordingly. How is this?

    "LANGDON."

Both the name and the import of the letter implied that the note was not
intended for Somers, though it was directed to him. The writer had
evidently written two notes, and in his haste had misdirected the
envelopes.

"My dear Pillgrim!" The note was intended for his fellow-officer. Was
Pillgrim a confederate of Langdon? It looked so, incredible as it
seemed.

Somers was bewildered for a moment, but he was too good a strategist to
be overwhelmed. Restoring the note to its envelope, he readjusted the
lap, which was still wet, and the letter looked as though it had not
been opened. He returned it to the box under his key, and perceived that
there was also a note in Mr. Pillgrim's box. As soon as the mistake was
discovered, the letters would be changed. He returned to his room to
await the result.

Somers had made an astounding discovery by the merest accident in the
world. Things were not what they seemed. Mr. Pillgrim had relations of
some kind with Langdon, _alias_ Lieutenant Wynkoop. His entering the
parlor while they were at dinner was not so accidental a circumstance as
it had appeared. Who and what was Lieutenant Pillgrim? The belief that
he had met him somewhere before they came together at Newport, still
haunted Somers; but he was in no better condition now than then to solve
the mystery.

In half an hour he went down to the office again. The note to Mr.
Pillgrim was gone; but there was one for himself in the box. He took it
out; the direction was not in the same handwriting as before. Mr.
Pillgrim had probably discovered the mistake, and changed the letters,
without a suspicion that the one addressed to himself had been read.
Somers opened the note, which contained the information he expected to
find there in regard to the Ben Nevis, and was signed by Wynkoop.

Beyond the possibility of a doubt now, Lieutenant Pillgrim was a
confederate of Langdon. Of course, he knew Coles. He was a Virginian,
and it was now certain to Somers, if to no one else, that his loyalty
had been justly suspected. He had doubtless entered the navy again for a
purpose. What that purpose was, remained yet to be exposed. From the
depths of his heart, Somers thanked God that this discovery had been
made; and he determined to put it to good use. He was now more anxious
than before to meet his friend Mr. Waldron, and communicate the
startling information to him.

From the morning papers he saw that the Ben Nevis, whose name had been
changed to that of a famous Union general, had actually sailed, as
Langdon's note informed him. In the forenoon, he went to the navy yard,
expecting to find the ship ready to go into commission; but he learned
that the bed-plates of her pivot guns had to be recast, and that she
would not be ready for another week. He also learned that his friend Mr.
Waldron had been taken down with typhoid fever at his home, and was then
in a critical condition.

Somers was not only shocked, but disconcerted by this intelligence, for
it deprived him of the friend and counsellor whom he needed in this
emergency. After careful deliberation, he obtained a furlough of a week,
and went to the home of Mr. Waldron; but the sufferer could not even be
seen, much less consulted on a matter of business. Left to act for
himself, he hastened to New York, and then to Boston, to ascertain what
he could in regard to the Ben Nevis. So far as he could learn,
everything was all right in regard to her. After a short visit to
Pinchbrook, he hastened back to Philadelphia, and found the Chatauqua
hauled out into the stream, and ready to go into commission at once.
Lieutenant Pillgrim and the other officers had already gone on board.
Under these circumstances, Somers had not a moment to see Langdon. He
took possession of his state-room, and at once had all the work he could
do, in the discharge of his duty.

At meridian the ensign was run up, and the ship went into commission
under the command of Captain Cascabel. Mr. Pillgrim was doing duty as
executive officer, though a substitute for Mr. Waldron was expected
before the ship sailed. Somers was uneasy, and dissatisfied with
himself. He began to feel that he had left a duty unperformed. He had
intended to expose the conspiracy before the Chatauqua sailed, and thus
relieve himself from the heavy responsibility that rested upon him. Yet
to whom could he speak? Mr. Waldron was still dangerously ill. Mr.
Pillgrim was evidently a traitor himself.

He could give his information to the United States marshal at
Philadelphia; but how could he prove his allegations? Langdon and Coles
he had not seen since his return, and perhaps they were in another part
of the country by this time. He had the commander's commission and the
written orders, but in the absence of the principals, he feared these
would be better evidence against himself than against the conspirators.

The Ben Nevis had sailed, and the worst she could do at present would be
to run the blockade. The Chatauqua was generally understood to be
ordered to Mobile, where the Ben Nevis was to run in, and fit out for
her piratical cruise. After a great deal of serious reflection, Somers
came to the unsatisfactory conclusion that he must keep his secret. He
could not denounce Mr. Pillgrim as a rebel, with his present
information, without exposing himself to greater peril than the real
criminal. Besides, he was to be with the lieutenant, and he was going to
Mobile. He could watch the traitor, and await the appearance of the Ben
Nevis, when she arrived at the station.

Somers was not satisfied with this conclusion, but his judgment assured
him his intended course of action was the best the circumstances would
admit. Thus settling the question, he attended to his duty with his
usual zeal and energy.



CHAPTER VIII.

THE UNITED STATES STEAMER CHATAUQUA.


Somers had served in several vessels, but never before had he gone on
board his ship with a heavier responsibility resting upon him, than when
he took his station on the deck of the Chatauqua. He was now a ward-room
officer, and as such he would be required to keep a watch, and be in
command of the deck. But in addition to his professional duties, he had
in his keeping valuable but dangerous information, of which he must make
a judicious use.

The young officer was perfectly familiar with the routine of his duties.
He knew the ship from stem to stern, and from keel to truck. He felt
entirely at home, therefore, and hoped soon to merit the approbation of
his superiors. He was formally presented to Captain Cascabel and the
other officers of the ship. He was kindly and cordially greeted by all.
Mr. Pillgrim, as acting first lieutenant, proceeded at once to make out
the watch, quarter, and station bill; and, whatever his political
principles, it must be confessed that he performed this difficult duty
with skill and judgment.

Every day, until the ship sailed, the crew were exercised at the guns,
and in all the evolutions required for carrying on ship's duty, from
"fire stations" to piping down the hammocks. They made the usual
proficiency, and were soon in condition to work together--to handle the
ship in a tornado, or to meet an enemy. On the fourth day, when Mr.
Pillgrim was superseded by Mr. Hackleford, who was appointed in the
place of Mr. Waldron, everything was in an advanced stage of progress.

The Chatauqua was a screw steam sloop of war, of the first class. She
carried ten guns, and was about fourteen hundred tons burden. Her
complement of officers and men was about two hundred and fifty,
including forty-two attached to the engineer's department. The ship was
a two-decker. On the upper or spar deck was placed her armament,
consisting of two immense pivot guns and eight broadside guns.

Below this was the berth deck, on which all the officers and men ate and
slept. The after part was appropriated to the officers, and the forward
part to the men. The former were provided with cabins and state-rooms,
while the latter swung their hammocks to the deck beams over their
heads.

[Illustration]

As most of our readers have probably never seen the interior of a ship
of war, we present on the adjoining page a plan of that portion of the
vessel occupied by the officers. The round part is the stern of the
ship, and the diagram includes a little less than one third of the
whole length of the vessel.

    A. The Captain's cabin, to which are attached the six small
       apartments on each side of it.

    1. The Companion-way, or stairs, by which the cabin is reached from
       the deck.

    2, 3. Store-rooms.

    4. Water-closet.

    5. Pantry.

    6, 7. State-rooms.

    B. The Ward-room, in which there is a table, long enough to
       accommodate the eight officers who occupy this apartment.

    8. First Lieutenant's state-room.

    9. Second     "         "    "

    10. Third     "         "    "

    11. Fourth    "         "    "

    12. Chief Engineer's    "    "

    13. Master's            "    "

    14. Paymaster's         "    "

    15. Surgeon's           "    "

    16. First Assistant Engineers' state-room.

    17. Second Assistant Engineers' room.

    C. The Steerage, occupied by Midshipmen and Masters' Mates.

    D. Third Assistant Engineer's room.

    18. The Armory.

    19. Ward-room pantry, through which passes the mizzen-mast.

    20, 20. Berths.

    21, 21. Mess store-rooms.

In the floor of the ward-room, between the state-room, 8 and 12, there
are two scuttles leading down to the magazine, so that, during an
action, all the powder is passed up through this room. Woollen screens
are hung up on each side of these scuttles, when they are opened, to
prevent any spark from being carried down to the powder.

There are four other scuttles leading down into the hold from the
ward-room to the various store-rooms located there, and several in the
floor abreast of the steerage.

On the forward part of the berth deck, just abaft the foremast, there
are four state-rooms for the use of the carpenter, gunner, boatswain,
and sailmaker. All persons except those mentioned sleep in hammocks.

The engine department of the Chatauqua consisted of one chief, two first
assistant, two second assistant, and one third assistant engineers, with
eighteen firemen and eighteen coal heavers. The chief engineer is a
ward-room officer. He has the sole charge of the engine, and all persons
connected with its management, but he keeps no watch. The other
engineers obey the orders of their chief, and are divided into watches.
They attend to the actual working of the engine. The firemen are also
classified, and receive different grades of pay, a portion of them
attending to the oiling of the machinery,--called "oilers,"--while
others superintend or feed the fires, and do other work connected with
the engine and boilers. The coal-heavers convey the fuel from the coal
bunkers to the furnaces.

Mr. Ensign Somers was the fourth lieutenant of the Chatauqua, and
occupied the last state-room on the left, as you enter the ward-room. It
was a nice little apartment, and the young officer was as happy as a
lord when he was fully installed in his new quarters. And well might one
who had commenced his naval career as an ordinary seaman, sleeping in a
hammock, and who had never before known anything better than the
confined accommodations of the steerage, have been delighted with his
present comfortable and commodious quarters.

His state-room was lighted by a bull's eye, or round glass window, which
could be opened in port, or in pleasant weather at sea. The room
contained but one berth, which was quite wide for a ship, supplied with
an excellent mattress; and one who could not sleep well in such a bed
must be troubled with a rebellious conscience. There was also a bureau,
the upper drawer of which, when the front was dropped down, became a
convenient writing desk, supplied with small drawers, shelves, and
pigeon-holes. The room was carpeted, and contained all that a reasonable
man could require to make him comfortable and happy.

There was only one drawback upon the happiness of Somers; and that was
the absence of Mr. Waldron. There was not one among the officers whom he
could now call by the endearing name of friend, though all of them were
good officers and gentlemanly men, and he had no reason to anticipate
any difficulty with any of them, unless it was with Mr. Pillgrim. He
sighed for the friendly guidance and the genial companionship of the
late commander of the Rosalie, especially in view of the embarrassing
circumstances which surrounded him.

But it was some compensation to know that his old shipmate, Tom
Longstone, had been promoted to the rank of boatswain, and ordered to
the Chatauqua. The old man's splendid behavior in Doboy Sound had
enabled Mr. Waldron to secure this favor for him, and to obtain his
appointment to his own ship. Mr. Longstone, as he must hereafter be
called, came on board in a uniform of bright blue, and his dress so
altered his appearance that Somers hardly recognized him. The old salt
had always been very careful about "putting on airs," when he was a
common sailor or a petty officer; but he knew how to be a gentleman, and
his new dignity sat as easily upon him as though he had been brought up
in the ward-room. Though he looked well, and carried himself like an
officer, he could not immediately adapt his language to his new
position. He was a representative sailor, and he could not help being
"salt."

The boatswain was Somers's only real friend on board, and the distance
between a ward-room officer and a forward officer was so great that he
was not likely to realize any especial satisfaction from the friendship;
but it was pleasant to know that there was even one in the ship who was
devoted to him, heart and soul.

"All hands, up anchor!" piped the boatswain; and it was a pleasant sound
to the fourth lieutenant of the Chatauqua, as doubtless it was to all
hands, for "lying in the stream" is stupid work to an expectant crew.

The ship got under way with all the order and regularity which prevail
on board a man-of-war, and in a short time was standing down the
Delaware River. Her great guns pealed the customary salute, and as the
wind was fair, her top-sails and top-gallant-sails were shaken out as
soon as she had passed from the narrow river into the broad bay. Off the
capes the sealed orders were opened; and it proved, as the knowing ones
had anticipated, that the Chatauqua was bound to the blockading station
off Mobile Bay.

At eight o'clock in the evening the ship was out of sight of land.
Everything on board was in regular sea trim. Mr. Garboard, the third
lieutenant, had the deck, and the other officers were in the ward-room,
or in their state-rooms. They were discussing the merits of the ship, or
the probable work before them at Mobile; for a great naval attack in
that quarter was confidently predicted. The "Old Salamander," "Brave
Old Salt," as Admiral Farragut was familiarly called, was understood to
be making preparations for one of his tremendous onslaughts.

Somers was occupied in his state-room, putting his books, papers, and
clothing in order, which he had not had time to do before to his
satisfaction. He placed his Testament on the bureau, where it could be
taken up for a moment without delay, and where it would constantly
remind him of his duty, and of the loved ones at home, with whom the
precious volume seemed to be inseparably associated.

Among his papers were the rebel commission, the written orders, and the
statement he had made of the interview between Coles and Langdon, which
had been extended so as to contain a full account of his conference with
"Mr. Wynkoop," and his inquiries into the character of the Ben Nevis, in
Boston and New York. These documents brought forcibly to his mind his
relations with Lieutenant Pillgrim, who was still a mystery to him.
Since Somers had come on board of the Chatauqua, not a syllable had been
breathed about the dinner with the "officer of the royal navy." As Mr.
Pillgrim doubtless believed he had changed the letters, and thus
corrected his confederate's mistake, before the letter intended for him
had fallen into Somers's hand, the lieutenant had no reason to suppose
his treasonable position was even suspected.

Somers felt that he had a battle to fight with Mr. Pillgrim, and the
suspense was intolerable, not to mention the hypocrisy and deceit which
this double character required of him. Now, more than before, he
regretted the absence of Mr. Waldron, who would have been a rock of
safety and strength to him in the trials that beset him. While he was
moodily overhauling his papers, and thinking of his difficult situation,
Mr. Pillgrim knocked at the door of his room, and was invited to enter.

"Ah, making stowage, are you, Somers?" said the lieutenant, pleasantly.

"Yes, sir; putting things to rights a little."

"It's a good plan to have everything in its place," added Pillgrim, as
he took up the little Testament which lay on the bureau. "You are a good
boy, I see, and read the book."

"That was given me by my mother, and I value it very highly."

"Then I shouldn't think you would want to wear it out."

"She gave it to me to use, and I am afraid, if she saw it was not soiled
by handling, she would think it had not been well used."

"I am glad you use it. I don't fail to read mine morning and evening."

Somers could not believe him, and he could not see that a traitor to his
country should have any use for the New Testament.

"By the way, Somers, did you see your friend Wynkoop again before we
sailed?" added Mr. Pillgrim.

"I did not; I have not seen him since we dined together. I judge that
you were better acquainted with him than I was."

"My acquaintance with him was very slight. By the papers I saw on the
table before you, when you were at dinner, I think you made good use of
the short time you knew each other."

"To what do you allude?" asked Somers, now assured that Mr. Pillgrim
knew the nature of the papers.

"To your commission as a commander in the Confederate navy. Mr. Somers,
I could not believe my eyes."

"Were you very much astonished?"

"If I had been told that President Lincoln had gone over to the rebels,
I should not have been more astonished. Your conduct has severely
embarrassed me. It was my duty to denounce you as a traitor, in the
service of the enemy, but--"

At that instant the rattle of the drum, beating to quarters, caused both
of them to hurry on deck.



CHAPTER IX.

IN THE STATE-ROOM.


Somers took his station on the quarter deck, near the mizzen-mast, while
Mr. Pillgrim went forward to the forecastle. The guns were cast loose,
and the crew exercised at quarters for a few moments, just as though
there were an enemy's ship near. This manoeuvre was executed for the
purpose of perfecting the officers and crew in discipline; and it is not
an uncommon thing to turn up all hands in the dead of the night for this
object, for it is easier to correct mistakes at such times than when in
the presence of the enemy. As there was no Confederate ship in sight,
all hands were presently piped below, and Somers returned to his
state-room, where he was soon joined by Mr. Pillgrim, who evidently
wished to prolong the conversation which had been commenced before the
ship beat to quarters.

"Mr. Somers you and I have been friends for some little time," the
lieutenant began, "and I confess that I have been deeply interested in
you, not only on your own account, but for the sake of our friends at
Newport."

"Thank you, Mr. Pillgrim," said Somers, as the gentleman paused. "I am
greatly obliged to you, and I hope I shall always merit your good
opinion."

"I'm afraid not, my young friend; at least, you have not commenced this
cruise very well, having first sold yourself to the enemy."

"Do you think I have done that, Mr. Pillgrim?" demanded Somers, not a
little excited by the charge, from such a source.

"I know you have. I saw your commission on the table."

"I took the commission, I grant, but I have no intention of using it."

"Why did you take it then?"

"For the purpose of gaining information."

"Have you gained it?" demanded Mr. Pillgrim, with a hardly perceptible
sneer.

"I have."

"You received written orders, also."

"I did; and if I had obtained a foothold on the deck of the vessel to
which I was ordered, you would have seen how quick I should have passed
her over to my government."

"That is a very plausible explanation, Mr. Somers," added the
lieutenant. "But why did you sign the oath of allegiance to the Southern
Confederacy?"

"I did not."

"I beg your pardon, but I saw the document with your signature affixed
to it."

"You are mistaken, Mr. Pillgrim."

"Can I refuse to believe the evidence of my own eyes?"

"Nevertheless, I must persist in saying that I did not sign the oath."

"After what you have done, Mr. Somers, I could hardly expect you to
acknowledge it to a loyal officer. Are you aware that any court martial
would convict you, on the evidence against you, of treason, and sentence
you to death?"

"I think not, when it was made to appear that all I did was in the
service of my country."

Somers shuddered when he thought of a traitor's doom, and for the first
time realized that he had accumulated more evidence against himself than
against the conspirators. The commander's commission and the written
orders were almost, if not quite, enough to hang him.

"You don't believe what you say, Mr. Somers, and of course you cannot
expect me to believe it," said Pillgrim, when he saw his brother officer
musing, and looking rather anxious.

"I speak the truth, Mr. Pillgrim," replied Somers, unable to turn his
attention entirely away from the consequences which might follow some of
these appearances against him.

"Somers, I have felt a deep interest in you. I have all along desired to
be your friend. This is the only reason why I did not prefer charges
against you before the ship sailed. Now, I advise you not to deny what
is as plain as truth can make it. I am your friend. Own up to me, and I
promise never to betray you."

"Would your friend Langdon, _alias_ Lieutenant Wynkoop, R. N., be
equally considerate?" asked Somers, provoked into making this unguarded
remark by the hypocrisy of Pillgrim.

If the second lieutenant of the Chatauqua had received the bolt from a
thunder cloud he could not have been more astonished. He started back,
turned pale, and quivered with emotion.

"Who?" demanded he, with a tremendous effort to recover his
self-possession.

"Do you think, Mr. Pillgrim, that I am a little lamb, that can be led
round with a silken string?" replied Somers, with energy. "You are my
superior officer, and as such I will respect and obey you
until--until--"

"Until what?"

"Until the day of reckoning comes. When you stand up in my presence and
charge me with being a traitor to my country, you had better remember
that such charges, like chickens, will go home to roost."

"I was not brought up in a barn yard, Mr. Somers, and such comparisons
are beyond my comprehension."

"Wherever you were brought up, I think my language is plain enough to be
understood by a person of your intelligence."

Perhaps it was fortunate for both parties that a knock at the state-room
door disturbed the conference at this exciting moment. Somers opened the
door.

"Mr. Hackleford desires to see Mr. Somers on deck," said a midshipman.

"Excuse me for a few moments, Mr. Pillgrim," said Somers, as he closed
his desk and locked it.

"Certainly, sir; but I should be happy to see you when you are
disengaged. I will remain here if you please."

"I will join you as soon as I can."

It was warm below, and both Pillgrim and Somers had thrown off their
coats, and laid them on the bed. Somers slipped on his own, as he
supposed, and hastened on deck to meet the first lieutenant. The garment
seemed rather large for him, and there were several papers in the breast
pocket which did not belong to him. Then he was aware that he had taken
the second lieutenant's coat instead of his own.

Mr. Hackleford wished to obtain some information from him in regard to
one of the petty officers, and when Somers had answered the questions he
went below again. The papers in the pocket of Pillgrim's coat seemed to
burn his fingers when he touched them. The owner was a traitor, and
perhaps these documents might contain valuable intelligence. Under
ordinary circumstances it would have been the height of perfidy to look
at one of them; but, in the present instance, he felt justified in
glancing at them. The state-room of the second assistant engineers was
open and lighted, but neither of these officers was there. Stepping into
the room, he opened the papers and glanced at their contents. Only one
of them contained anything of importance. This was a note from a person
who signed himself simply "Irvine," but it was in the handwriting of
Langdon. The only clause in the epistle that was intelligible to Somers
was this: "Have just heard from B----. The Ben Nevis, he says, will make
Wilmington after leaving St. John. Plenty of guns there. She will sail
July 4."

Whether "B----" meant Boston or some person's name, Somers could not
determine; but the fact in regard to the Ben Nevis was of the utmost
consequence. Hastily folding up the note, he returned the package of
papers to the pocket where he had found them. Taking off the coat as he
entered the ward-room, he went into the state-room, where Mr. Pillgrim
was still waiting for him, with the garment on his arm. He threw it upon
the bed as he entered, and his companion was not even aware of the
mistake which had been made.

"Mr. Somers, you were making some grave charges against me when you were
called away," said the lieutenant.

"Not half so grave as those you made against me," replied Somers.

"Those can be proved."

"I made no charges. I only mentioned the name of your friend Langdon."

"I don't know him," added Pillgrim, doggedly.

"I beg your pardon, as you did mine, just now."

"Which means that you doubt my word."

"As you did mine."

"Somers, I am not to be trifled with," said Pillgrim, sternly.

"Neither am I."

"Be cautious, or I will denounce you to the captain at once," added the
lieutenant, in low and threatening tones.

"Proceed, and then I shall be at liberty to take the next step."

"What's that?"

"Do you think I intend to show you my hand?" said Somers, with a meaning
smile.

Pillgrim bit his lip with vexation. He seemed to be completely cornered.
He evidently believed that his companion knew more than "the law
allows."

"Mr. Pillgrim, I am no traitor; you know this as well as I do. Whatever
papers I took from your friend Langdon, _alias_ Wynkoop, were taken with
a view to serve my country."

"You signed the oath of allegiance he offered you."

"It is false!" replied Somers, angrily.

"Be calm, Mr. Somers. I am no hypocrite, as you are," added Pillgrim. "I
have heard that you have a talent for overhearing other people's
conversation."

"In the service of my country I am willing to do even this," said
Somers, indignantly.

"No matter about that. You have hinted that I am a traitor."

"If the hint is not sufficient, I declare that such is the fact."

Somers was roused to a high pitch of excitement, and he was not as
prudent as he was wont to be. He was not playing a part now; he was
talking and acting as he wanted to talk and act. He was calling treason
and treachery by their right names.

"Explain, Mr. Somers," said Pillgrim, who grew cooler as his companion
became hotter.

"You are in league with the enemies of your country. You and others have
just started a steamer for St. John, which you intend to fit out as a
Confederate cruiser--the Ben Nevis, of which you and your
fellow-conspirators did me the honor to give me the command."

Pillgrim smiled blandly.

"And you accepted the command?"

"For a purpose, I did."

"You have not explained why you connect me with this affair. You spoke
of some one whom you call Langdon. I don't know him."

"You--do!"

"Prove it."

"He addresses a note to you, calling you 'my dear Pillgrim,' and signs
himself, familiarly, 'Langdon.'"

"Then you have been reading my letters--have you?"

"It was addressed to me, and put in my box at the hotel."

The second lieutenant turned pale, then red. He walked up and down the
state-room several times in silence. He could not deny the fact alleged.
While he walked, Somers explained how he had read the note, and then put
it back in the box. Pillgrim understood it.

"Of course you know Coles," continued Somers, placing a heavy emphasis
on the name of this worthy.

The lieutenant halted before his companion, and looked earnestly and
inquiringly into his face. Somers returned his gaze with unflinching
resolution. There was a smile upon his face, for he believed that he had
thrown a red-hot shot into the enemy.

"Coles!" said Pillgrim.

"Coles!" repeated Somers.

"Mr. Somers, you are a fool!"

"Pray, where were you when human wisdom was distributed?"

"Do you know Coles?" asked Pillgrim.

"I think I should know Coles if I saw him."

"No, you wouldn't."

"He is the greatest villain that ever went unhung."

"Except yourself. Somers, this is child's play. You have made me your
enemy, but let us fight it out like men."

"I will do so with pleasure when you take your place on the deck of a
rebel vessel, where you belong."

"A truce to child's play, I say again. We must settle this matter here
and now."

"It can't be done."

"It must be done, or I will inform Captain Cascabel who and what you are
before the first watch is out. Probably he will wish to see your
Confederate commission and your letter of instructions."

"When he does, I have something else to show him," replied Somers, whose
answer was sufficiently indefinite to make the traitor look very stormy
and anxious.

"Can you show him a Confederate oath of allegiance signed by me?"

"No."

"Then he will be more likely to hear me than you," added the lieutenant,
whose countenance now looked as malignant as that of a demon. "You have
subscribed to that oath; I have not."

"It is false!"

"So you said before."

"Prove it."

"Here," continued Pillgrim, taking from his pocket the document which
had been offered to Somers by Wynkoop.

The young officer glanced at it, and on the line for the signature, he
saw, with horror and indignation, the name of "John Somers," apparently
in his own handwriting. Undoubtedly it was a forgery, but it was so well
done that even the owner of the name could hardly distinguish it from
his usual signature.

"It is a forgery," gasped Somers, appalled at the deadly peril which
seemed to be in his path.

"Prove it," said the lieutenant, with a mocking smile.

Somers groaned in spirit. It would be impossible for him to prove that
the signature was a forgery. Even his best friends would acknowledge it,
so well was it executed.

"I have you, Somers," said Pillgrim, exultingly. "Let us understand each
other. You are mine, Somers, or you hang! Somers, I am Coles!"



CHAPTER X.

THE CHIEF CONSPIRATOR.


Lieutenant Pillgrim rattled off the sentences in which he acknowledged
his complicity with treason with a smile of malignant triumph on his
face. He gloated over his victim as the evil one might be supposed to do
over a soul wrenched from truth and virtue. He believed that he had
Somers in a position where he could not betray him, or even resent his
tyranny.

For the first time Somers realized that he had been imprudent in
exposing himself to the machinations of these evil men. Before he had
only felt a little uncomfortably, and harbored a vague suspicion that,
in attempting to overreach others, he had committed himself. He had
learned in his babyhood that it is dangerous to play with fire, but had
never believed it so fully as at this moment. He had touched the pitch,
and felt that he had been defiled by it. Though his conscience kept
assuring him he was innocent, and protesting against a harsh judgment,
he could not help regretting that he had not exposed the villains
before he left Philadelphia, and permitted the consequences to take care
of themselves.

But stronger than any other impression, at this eventful moment, was the
feeling that he was no match for men so deeply versed in treason and
wickedness as Pillgrim and his confederates. He had played at the game
of strategy, and been beaten. While he thought he was leading them on to
confusion, they were actually entwining the meshes of the net around
him.

Mr. Pillgrim had just declared that he was the mysterious Coles. Somers,
at first, found it very difficult to realize the fact. He had really
seen Coles but once; but they had spent some hours together. At that
time Coles wore long, black whiskers, which concealed two thirds of his
face; Pillgrim wore no beard, not even a mustache. Coles was dressed in
homely garments; Pillgrim, in an elegant uniform. Coles's hair was short
and straight; Pillgrim's, long and curly at the ends.

In height, form, and proportions, they were the same; and the difference
between Coles and Pillgrim was really nothing which might not have been
produced with a razor, a pair of barber's shears, and the contrast of
dress. The familiarity of the lieutenant's expression, before
unexplained, was now accounted for; and before his tyrant spoke again,
Somers was satisfied that he actually stood in the presence of Coles.

Pillgrim stood with folded arms, gazing at his victim, and enjoying the
confusion which Somers could not conceal. The persecutor was a confident
man, and fully believed that he was master of the situation, and that
Somers would do anything he asked of him, even to going over into the
rebel ranks. He was mistaken; for Somers, deep as he felt that he was in
hot water, would have chosen to hang at the fore yard-arm, rather than
betray his country, or be false to her interests.

"You just now remarked that you should know Coles if you saw him,"
sneered Pillgrim.

"I know you now," replied Somers, bitterly.

"I see you do; but you will know me better before we part."

"I know you well enough now. You are a rebel and a traitor; and what I
said of Coles I say of you,--that you are the greatest villain that ever
went unhung."

"I don't like that kind of language, Mr. Somers," replied Pillgrim, with
entire coolness and self-possession. "It isn't the kind of language
which one gentleman should apply to another."

"Gentleman!" said Somers, with curling lip; "I applied it to a rebel and
a traitor."

"In the present instance it is mutiny. I am your superior officer."

"You are out of place; you don't belong here."

"Your place is on the quarter deck of the Ben Nevis; and perhaps it will
be when she goes into commission as a Confederate cruiser."

"Never!" exclaimed Somers, with energy.

"My dear Mr. Somers, be prudent. Some of the officers might hear you."

"I don't care if they all hear me."

"You talk and act like a boy, Somers. I beg you to consider that your
neck and mine are in the same noose. If I hang, you hang with me."

Somers groaned, for he could not see where his vindication was to come
from.

"You seem to understand your situation, and at the same time you appear
to be quite willing to throw yourself into the fire. Let me call your
attention to the fact that fire will burn."

"Better burn or hang, than be a traitor."

"Be reasonable, Somers. I do not propose to ask anything of you which
will compromise your position in the navy; but I repeat, you are mine."

"I don't understand you."

"I have told you my secret. You know that I am in the Confederate
service; that I have fitted out a vessel to cruise for Yankee ships. I
am willing you should know this, for you dare not violate my
confidence."

"Perhaps I dare."

"If you do, you are a dead man."

"Will you kill me?"

"If necessary."

"I have usually been able to defend myself," replied Somers, with
dignity.

"I am not an assassin. A court martial will do all I wish done if you
are not prudent and devoted, as you should be. The Confederate oath of
allegiance signed by you is good testimony."

"I didn't sign it. The signature is a forgery."

"My dear fellow, what possible difference does that make? It is well
done--is it not?"

"Perhaps it is. Where did you get it?"

"Langdon gave it to me."

"Did he sign my name to it?"

"Possibly; but even grant that I did it myself--what then?"

"You are a greater villain than I ever gave Coles the credit of being."

"Thank you!"

"Where is Langdon now?"

"In New York--where he can be reached if you make it necessary to
convene a court martial."

"Is he a naval officer?"

"Yes; he has been a Confederate agent in London for the past two years.
Since the English have become a little particular about letting steamers
out for the Confederates, he buys them on this side."

"What do you want of me, Mr.--Pillgrim? if that is your name?"

"That is my name. I don't want much of you."

"What?"

"I am not ready to tell you until you are in a proper frame of mind. You
are rather childish to-night. After you have thought the matter over,
you will be a man, and be reasonable. Let me see: Garboard has the
forenoon watch to-morrow, and we shall both be off duty after general
quarters. If you please, I will meet you at that time."

Somers considered a moment, and assented to the proposition. Pillgrim
bade him good night, and retired to his own state-room, apparently
without a fear that his victim would struggle in the trap into which he
had fallen.

"And into the counsels of the ungodly enter thou not." This text rang in
the mind of Somers, as though some mighty prophet were thundering it
into his ears. He felt that he had already plunged deep enough into the
pit of treason, and he was anxious to get away from it before he was
scorched by the fire, and before the smell of fire clung to his
garments.

For half an hour the fourth lieutenant of the Chatauqua sat at his desk,
in deep thought. Though in the matter of which he was thinking, he had
not sinned against his country, or the moral law, he was sorely
troubled. He could not conceal from himself the fact that he was afraid
of Pillgrim. The dread of having his name connected with any treasonable
transaction was hard to overcome. That oath of allegiance, with his
signature forged upon it, haunted him like an evil demon. He felt more
timid and fearful than ever before in his life. His faith in Him who
doeth all things well, seemed to be momentarily shaken, and he was
hardly willing to do justly, and leave the consequences to themselves.

He felt weak, and being conscious of his weakness, he looked upward for
strength. Leaning on his desk, he prayed for wisdom to know the right,
and for the power to do it. He was in earnest; and though his prayer was
not spoken, it moved his soul down to the depths of his spiritual being.

Three bells struck while he was thus engaged. He rose from the desk, and
walked up and down the state-room several times. Suddenly he stopped
short. A great thought struck him. In an instant it became a great
resolution. Before it had time to grow cold, he put on his coat and cap,
and went out into the ward-room. Mr. Transit, the master, Mr. Grynbock,
the paymaster, and Dr. De Plesion, the surgeon, were there, discussing
the anticipated attacks on Mobile and Wilmington. Somers felt no
interest in the conversation at this time. He went on deck, where he
found Captain Cascabel and the first lieutenant, smoking their cigars.
Waiting till the captain went below, he touched his cap to Mr.
Hackleford.

"Mr. Somers?"

"Yes, sir."

"Not turned in, Mr. Somers? You have the mid-watch."

"If you will excuse me, sir, for coming to you at such a time, I wish to
have half an hour's conversation with you."

"With me?" said Mr. Hackleford, apparently much surprised at such a
request at such an hour.

"Yes, sir. It is a matter of the utmost consequence, or I would not have
mentioned it at this time."

"Very well, Mr. Somers; I am ready to hear you."

"Excuse me, sir; I would rather not introduce the matter on deck."

"Well, come to my state-room."

"To my state-room, if you please, Mr. Hackleford."

"Why not mine?"

"I am afraid the person most deeply concerned will overhear me. His room
is next to yours."

"Mr. Pillgrim?" exclaimed the first lieutenant.

"Yes, sir."

"Mr. Somers, I have a high regard for you as an officer and a gentleman,
and I am not unacquainted with your past history. I hope you have
nothing to say which will reflect on a brother officer."

"I have, sir."

"Then I advise you to think well before you speak."

"I am entirely prepared to speak, sir."

"Complaints against superior officers, Mr. Somers, are rather
dangerous."

"It is not personal, sir, though I may be the sufferer for making it."

Mr. Hackleford led the way down to the ward-room. The officers had
retired to their apartments, and there was no one to see them enter the
state-room. As it was now nearly ten o'clock, when all officers' lights
must be extinguished, Somers formally asked and obtained permission to
burn his lamp till eleven o'clock. The first lieutenant entered the
room, and Somers closed the door.

"Mr. Hackleford, may I trouble you to read this statement?" said Somers,
as he handed out the paper he had so carefully prepared.

The first lieutenant adjusted his eye-glass, and read the statement
through, asking an explanation of two or three points as he proceeded.
He was deeply absorbed in the narrative, which was drawn up with the
utmost minuteness.

"This is an infernal scheme, Mr. Somers. I hope you did not permit the
vessel to sail without giving information of her character."

"The Ben Nevis sailed from New York before I could do anything or say a
word," said Somers, exhibiting Langdon's letter.

"That was bad. You should have spoken before."

"My paper explains my reasons for keeping still. Perhaps I was wrong,
sir, but I did the best I knew how."

"And this vessel is bound to Mobile. We may pick her up."

"The note says she is bound to Mobile; but it is not true. That is a
blind to deceive me."

"Why should they wish to deceive you, after giving you their
confidence."

"I don't know the reason."

"But what has all this to do with Mr. Pillgrim?" asked Mr. Hackleford.

"Mr. Pillgrim is the person spoken of in that paper as Coles."

"Impossible!" ejaculated Mr. Hackleford, springing to his feet.

"I shall be able to prove it by to-morrow, sir."

Somers then gave him the substance of the conversation between himself
and Mr. Pillgrim.

"Why, this Coles wants something of you."

"Yes, sir; but I don't know what. He engaged to meet me here at four
bells in the forenoon watch to-morrow, when he will tell me what he
wants."

"Very well, Mr. Somers; meet him as agreed. You have played your part
well. When you come together, you must yield the point; lead him along,
and you will bag him,--and the vessel, I hope."

"The Ben Nevis will sail from St. John July 4, for Wilmington."

"Ah, then she is about even with the Chatauqua. I would give a year's
pay for the privilege of catching her."

Until eleven o'clock the two officers consulted charts, and figured up
the time of the Ben Nevis.



CHAPTER XI.

AFTER GENERAL QUARTERS.


At eleven o'clock, when the master-at-arms knocked at the door of the
fourth lieutenant, to inform him that it was time to put out his light,
the calculations in regard to the position of the Ben Nevis had been
made and verified. Mr. Hackleford, after counselling prudence and
precaution, retired to his state-room. Somers threw himself on his cot,
and having eased his mind of the heavy burden which had rested upon it,
he went to sleep. But there was only an hour of rest for him, for at
twelve o'clock he was to take the deck.

When eight bells struck, he turned out, much refreshed by his short nap,
to relieve Mr. Garboard. It was a beautiful night, with only a gentle
breeze from the westward, and the ship was doing her ten knots without
making any fuss about it. Somers took the trumpet, which the officer of
the deck always carries as the emblem of his office, and commenced his
walk on the weather side.

Though he carefully watched the compasses, and saw that the sheets were
hauled close home, he could not help thinking of the startling events
which had transpired on the preceding evening. But he was satisfied with
himself now. He had purged himself of all appearance of complicity with
the enemies of his country, and he fully expected that Pillgrim would be
put under arrest within the next forty-eight hours. The consciousness of
duty done made him happy and contented. The first lieutenant had even
praised him for the manner in which he had conducted the delicate
business, and did not lay any stress on the oath of allegiance, or the
commander's commission.

For his four hours he "planked the deck," thinking of the past and
hopeful of the future. At eight bells he sent a midshipman down to call
Mr. Pillgrim. While he was waiting to be relieved, he could not help
considering what a risk it was to leave that noble ship in the hands of
a traitor; but Somers had given all the information he had to Mr.
Hackleford, and the responsibility did not rest upon himself. The first
lieutenant was an able and discreet officer, and would not permit the
Chatauqua to be imperilled even for a moment.

"Good morning, Mr. Somers," said Lieutenant Pillgrim, as he came on
deck.

"Good morning, Mr. Pillgrim," replied Somers, with all the courtesy due
to the quarter deck.

"A fine morning."

"Beautiful weather."

"You have had a good opportunity to think over our business. How do you
feel about it?"

"Just right, I hope."

"I am glad to hear it. Have you seen anything of the Ben Nevis?"

"Of the Ben Nevis! No, sir; I don't expect to see her here."

"We may," replied Pillgrim, as he took the trumpet.

"Isn't she going to Mobile?"

"We'll talk of her during the forenoon watch," added the second
lieutenant, as he turned on his heel and walked forward.

Somers went below. As he entered the ward-room, Mr. Hackleford came out
of his state-room. This gentleman evidently intended to keep a sharp
lookout for the officer of the deck during his watch. He asked the
relieved officer if anything more had transpired, and the unimportant
conversation which had just taken place was fully reported to him.

"Mr. Somers, I haven't slept an hour during the night. There are one or
two points in your statement which were a little dark to me," said Mr.
Hackleford.

"More than that of it is dark to me. I do not profess to understand the
whole of it. I only state the facts from my own point of view."

"You listened to this talk between Coles and Langdon at the sailors'
boarding-house in Front Street?"

"Yes, sir."

"If you saw Coles there, how could--"

"I didn't see him, sir; I only heard him."

"That accounts for it," said Mr. Hackleford, musing. "Didn't you
recognize Mr. Pillgrim's voice?"

"No, sir; I think he changed it; though the two tones were so similar
that I might have recognized it, if I had suspected they were the same
person."

Mr. Hackleford asked other questions, which Somers answered with strict
regard to the truth, rather than with the intention of removing the
first lieutenant's doubts. He wanted only facts himself, and he was
careful not to distort them, in order to confirm any theory of his own
or of his superior officer.

Mr. Hackleford went on deck, and Somers turned in. He was in condition
to sleep now, and he improved his four hours below to the best
advantage.

After general quarters, when the crew were dismissed, he went down to
his state-room, prepared to meet Mr. Pillgrim. He was surprised to know
how little curiosity he felt to learn what the traitor wanted and
expected of him. Punctual to the appointed time, which exhibited the
interest he felt in the expected interview, the treacherous second
lieutenant made his appearance. Somers received him as one officer
should receive another, though it was hard work for him to disguise the
contempt and detestation with which he regarded the traitor.

"Well, Somers, now I am to tell you what I want of you. It isn't much,
as I warned you before; and I am very glad to see that you are in such a
happy frame of mind."

"I am ready to hear you, and do the best I can," replied Somers,
carefully following the instructions of Mr. Hackleford with regard to
matter and manner.

He had been cautioned to be ready enough in listening to the chief
conspirator, but not too ready, so as to betray his object.

"Good! I think you understand me now."

"I think I do, sir."

"I am sorry to do it, but it is necessary for me to remind you again
that your fate is in my hands; that a word from me would subject you to
a trial by court martial for treason, and probably to more hemp rope
than would feel good about your neck."

"Though I don't think I am in so much danger as you represent, I will
grant your position."

"Don't grant it, if you think it is not correct;" and Mr. Pillgrim
minutely detailed the evidence which could be brought to bear against
him.

Somers appeared to be overwhelmed by this array of testimony. He
groaned, looked hopeless, and finally granted the traitor's position in
full.

"I am in your power. Do with me as you will. Of course the moment I put
my foot on a rebel deck I am ruined."

"You can do as you please about going into the Confederate service. What
I want of you will not compromise you as a loyal man in the slightest
degree."

"What do you want of me?"

"Not quite so loud, if you please, Mr. Somers," said the lieutenant,
glancing at the door. "To me, Somers, you have been a thorn. You lost me
the Snowden, and the valuable cargo of the Theban."

"I only did my duty," pleaded Somers.

"Bah! don't use that word to me again. Through you a fortune slipped
through my fingers. I should have got the Snowden into Wilmington, if
you had not meddled with the matter. I have lost eighty thousand dollars
by you."

"Of course I had no ill will against you personally."

"Very true; if you had, you would have been a dead man before this time.
Phil Kennedy was a fool, but he was my best friend. I have his bond for
forty thousand dollars, which is waste paper just now. Phil fell by your
hand."

"It was in fair fight."

"Nonsense! What matter is it to me how he fell, whether it was in fair
fight or foul? He is dead; that is all."

"What has all this to do with me?" asked Somers, with seeming
impatience.

"Much, my dear fellow. Phil was to marry Kate Portington; was to pocket
her fortune. You have cut him out. You will marry her, and in due time
come into possession of a million. The commodore is apoplectic, and will
not live many years. Do you see my point?"

"I do not," answered Somers, disgusted with this heartless statement.

"As you cheated me out of the Snowden, as you killed Phil Kennedy, as
you will marry Kate Portington, I propose that you assume and pay Phil's
bond."

"I?"

"Certainly--you; Mr. Somers; Kate's prodigy," laughed Pillgrim.

"Never!" exclaimed Somers, jumping to his feet.

"You speak too loud, Mr. Somers."

"Am I a dog, or a snake, or a toad, that I should do such an unclean
thing?"

The traitor took from his pocket the oath of allegiance, opened it, and
in silence thrust it into his companion's face.

"I have sold myself."

"You have, Somers. Think of it. If I have to make out a case against
you, of course you will never see Kate again. Let me add, that the
commodore sets his life by me. We were old friends before the war. You
may marry his daughter with my consent, but not without it."

"I never thought of such a thing."

"Perhaps not. We waste time. Will you sign the bond?"

"The bond is good for nothing. No court--"

"That is my affair. If you agree to it, I will run all risks. I trouble
no courts. If you don't pay, I have only to speak, and hang you then."

"I am lost," groaned Somers.

"No, you are not. Sign, and you have found fortune and a friend."

"I dare not sign."

"You dare not refuse."

Somers walked up and down the state-room, apparently in great mental
agony.

"Shall I sign?" said he, in a loud tone, as though he were speaking to
the empty air.

"Not so loud, man!" interposed Pillgrim, angrily.

At that instant two light raps were distinctly heard.

"What's that?" demanded the traitor, greatly alarmed.

"I will sign it," promptly added Somers, to whom the two raps seemed to
be perfectly intelligible.

"What was that noise?" asked Pillgrim, fearfully. "Is there any one in
Garboard's state-room?"

"I think not."

The second lieutenant was not satisfied. He opened the door and looked
into the adjoining state-room, but there was no person there, and the
ward-room was empty. There was no one within hearing, and the
conspirator recovered his wonted self-possession.

"You will sign?" said he.

"I will."

"I knew you would, and therefore I prepared the document; read it," he
continued, taking a paper from his pocket.

Somers read. It was simply an agreement to pay forty thousand dollars,
when he married Kate Portington, in consideration of certain assistance
rendered the signer, but without any allusion to the circumstances under
which it was given. As a legal document, of course it was good for
nothing, as both parties well understood. Somers signed it.

"Now, Mr. Somers, we are friends," said Pillgrim, as he folded up the
paper, and restored it to his pocket. "You have done me a good turn, and
I have done you one."

Somers, unwilling to regard Pillgrim as a fool, believed that this paper
was intended to ruin him in the estimation of the Portington family, and
that the villain intended to marry her himself when her apparent suitor
was disposed of.

"Is this all you expect of me?" asked Somers.

"This is the principal thing. I may have occasion to use you again; if
I do, I shall not hesitate to call upon you. You are in my confidence
now."

"Will you tell me, then, where the Ben Nevis is bound? I may want to
find her, for I haven't much taste for the old navy now."

"Ah, you make better progress than I anticipated. She is bound to St.
Marks."

This was a lie, as Somers well knew.

"Coles and Langdon said she was to make Mobile."

"The plan was changed. You must not lay much stress on what you heard
that night. It was all a blind,--or most of it was."

"Indeed?"

"The conversation at the house in Front Street was carried on for your
especial benefit," added Pillgrim, laughing and rubbing his hands.
"Langdon wrote both letters about the wounded sailor; there was no such
person. The old woman that kept the house was in my pay. When I spoke so
warmly in your praise to Langdon, I knew that you were listening to all
I said; indeed, I said it to you rather than to Langdon."

"Why did you tell me beforehand, if you intended to catch me with the
treasonable offer?" asked Somers, rather mortified to learn that he had
been duped from the beginning.

"I knew you would pretend to accept it. All I wanted was to get you to
take the commission, orders, and oath. As you agreed to sign the
latter, Langdon did it for you, for I could not wait."

"The Ben Nevis is no humbug?"

"No; I bought her and two other steamers on the Clyde, in Scotland. The
Ben Nevis was captured, but my friends bought her after she was
condemned. As there had been a great deal said about her in the
newspapers, I used her because it was probable you had heard of her."

"I had."

"Everything works as I intended."

"Not exactly," thought Somers.

"The captain of the coaster that pounded you that night was Langdon,"
laughed Pillgrim.

"Why was that done?"

"That I might take you back to the hotel, and be your friend. We did not
intend to hurt you much. It was important that you should think well of
me. You do--don't you?"

"Of course."

"All right now; remember you are mine, Somers," said Pillgrim, as he
left the room.



CHAPTER XII.

THE BEN NEVIS.


The Chatauqua rolled along easily on her course during the rest of the
day, until the dog watch, when Mr. Pillgrim had the deck again. Somers,
having discharged his whole duty in reference to the conspiracy, was
content to leave the matter in the hands of Mr. Hackleford, to whom he
had committed it.

At eight bells, as soon as Somers had been relieved from the afternoon
watch, he was not a little surprised to receive a message from the
captain, inviting him to his cabin. He readily came to the conclusion
that the summons related to the conspiracy. When he entered the cabin,
he saw Captain Cascabel and Mr. Hackleford seated at the table, on which
was spread a general chart of the coast of the United States.

"Say what you wish to Mr. Somers," said the captain to the first
lieutenant.

"Mr. Somers, Captain Cascabel has sent for you in relation to the affair
of which we talked in your state-room last night," Mr. Hackleford began.
"All that you have written out in your statement, and all that you told
me, have been fully confirmed."

"I intended to confine myself strictly to the facts," replied Somers,
modestly.

"You have been very discreet and very prudent," added Mr. Hackleford.

"I fully concur," said Captain Cascabel. "You have exposed yourself to
no little peril, in your zeal to serve your country."

Somers bowed and blushed.

"I confess that I had some doubts in regard to the result of your
operations, Mr. Somers," continued the first lieutenant; "but I am
entirely satisfied now that Mr. Pillgrim is just what you represent him
to be."

"All that you affirmed has been fully verified," added the captain.

He did not say that both himself and Mr. Hackleford had listened to the
entire conversation between Somers and the traitor in the forenoon,
occupying one of the captain's state-rooms, which adjoined the starboard
side of the ward-room, having bored a couple of holes through the
partition, behind the bureau; he did not say this, for it was hardly
dignified for a captain to play the eavesdropper, even in a good cause.
Somers knew that Mr. Hackleford was at hand at the time, and had
arranged a set of signals by which he could advise the young officer, if
he should be in doubt. One rap meant, "No;" two raps, "Yes;" and three
raps, "Give no direct answer." When Somers was in doubt respecting the
bond, he asked the question of the empty air, apparently, but really of
Mr. Hackleford, who had promptly replied in the affirmative by giving
the two knocks, which had startled the traitor.

"Mr. Somers, what do you know of the Ben Nevis?" asked the captain.

"She was to sail from St. John on the 4th of July, to run the blockade
at Wilmington. She is said to make sixteen knots, under favorable
circumstances."

"She has had a head wind part of the time. If she has made twelve on the
average, she has done well," said Mr. Hackleford.

"She will be due off Cape Fear some time after meridian to-morrow,"
added the captain, consulting a paper, on which were several
arithmetical operations.

The calculations were carefully reviewed, and Somers was questioned at
considerable length; but he had already given all the information he
possessed. It was evidently the intention of Captain Cascabel to capture
the Ben Nevis, though he did not announce his purpose.

"After what has occurred, Mr. Somers, you may be surprised that Mr.
Pillgrim has not been relieved from duty and placed under arrest,"
continued Captain Cascabel, after the position of the Ben Nevis had been
carefully estimated.

"I leave the matter entirely in the hands of my superior officers,"
replied Somers. "Having cast the responsibility upon them, I am willing
to obey orders without asking any questions."

"That is a very proper view to take of the subject, and I commend your
moderation," said the captain, with a pleasant smile. "It has been
thought best not to disturb Mr. Pillgrim for a day or two, for other
events may transpire."

Captain Cascabel bowed to Somers, and intimated that he had no further
need of him at present.

"Ah, Mr. Somers, been visiting the captain," said the second lieutenant,
as his victim came on deck.

"I was sent for."

"What was the business?"

Fortunately, Mr. Transit, who was planking the deck on the lee side,
approached near enough to enable Somers to avoid answering the question,
and he thus escaped the necessity of telling a falsehood. But as soon as
Mr. Garboard took the deck, Pillgrim repeated the inquiry, and the young
officer was obliged to narrate an imaginary conversation.

"It's no matter, Somers. You understand that I have a rope round your
neck, and I am not at all afraid that you will make an improper use of
your tongue."

"I certainly shall not," answered Somers, with emphasis. "You may depend
upon me for that."

"The fact is, Somers, I have got a mortgage on you; and I want no better
security for your good conduct."

"You needn't trouble yourself at all about me."

"I shall not; because, if you wish to betray me, I should rather enjoy
it. I have been your best friend. Instead of blowing your brains out for
making an end of poor Phil Kennedy, I have taken you into my confidence.
You shall marry the prettiest and the richest girl north of the Potomac;
and when Union officers are proscribed and condemned after the war, you
will have a friend at court who will speak a good word for you."

"Thank you; but do you really believe that the South will carry the
day?"

"I'm sure of it. England is our best friend; and Louis Napoleon, in
order to complete his Mexican scheme, must recognize the Confederacy.
When France does the job, England will be only one day behind her."

"If I go with you, I shall be on the winning side, then."

"If you do? You have gone with me. Though I don't ask you to help the
South openly, I expect you to be a friend of the government which must
soon rule the country. Leave it all to me, Somers, and I will manage the
business for you and myself. You must confess, Somers, that I am a
little ahead of you in strategy," said the traitor, with a complacent
smile.

"You beat me in the game we have been playing; but that only makes us
even, for I got the better of you in another affair."

"Not of me; it was the stupidity of Phil Kennedy that ruined the Snowden
business. I pride myself on my strategy, Somers. I have never been
beaten in anything of this kind yet. The fact of it is, I know whom to
trust. I never give my confidence to a man who dares to betray it,"
replied Pillgrim, rubbing his hands with delight at his own cleverness.

Somers was of the opinion that he would think differently before many
days had elapsed; but he was as prudent as the circumstances required.

At eight bells, the fourth lieutenant took the deck for the first watch;
and from that time until the following afternoon, he saw but little of
the conspirator. At this time, the ship was off Cape Fear, though too
far out to sight the land, or even the outer line of blockaders which
kept vigilant watch over the entrance to the river. Precisely at the
moment when one bell struck in the first dog-watch, the engine of the
Chatauqua, without any order from the officer of the deck, and without
any apparent reason, suddenly stopped.

It had proved itself to be a very good and well-meaning engine, thus
far, and all hands began to wonder what had happened, or what was going
to happen. But Mr. Cranklin, the chief engineer, presently reported that
there was a "screw loose" somewhere, and that it would be necessary to
lay to, and make some repairs. Certainly it was a very opportune moment
for the ship to stop; and those who did not know what had passed between
the chief engineer and the first lieutenant might have supposed that the
zealous engine, heretofore so faithful in the discharge of its trying
duties, had overheard some of the conversation we have related, and was
waiting for the Ben Nevis to show herself to seaward.

In further confirmation that the stoppage was not entirely owing to the
obstinacy of the engine, it was observed that extra lookout men had been
stationed on the fore yard, and on the cross-trees, since meridian of
that day. The captain and the first lieutenant were often seen in
confidential communication; and everybody on board seemed to be
impressed with the idea that something was about to "turn up."

Something did "turn up," about three bells; for the man on the fore
cross-trees, reported a vessel on the beam. The dense mass of black
smoke in the wake of her smoke-stack indicated that she was an English
blockade runner, approaching the coast so as to run in after dark. As
soon as this agreeable information spread through the Chatauqua, it
created an intense excitement, not manifested in noisy demonstrations,
for that would have been in violation of the strict rule of naval
discipline, but in the expectant eyes and stimulated movements of the
officers and crew, to whose pockets, as well as to their national
pride, the prospect of a rich prize appealed with tremendous force.

At this thrilling moment, when everything depended upon the sailing
qualities of the Chatauqua, either Mr. Cranklin had completed his
remedial efforts, or the engine had come to a realizing sense of the
proprieties of the occasion, and was sensible of the appalling
wickedness of disappointing the two hundred and fifty anxious souls on
board. The docile machine was reported to be in condition for active
service. The bells pealed forth the signal to "go ahead slowly," then
"at full speed," and the Chatauqua darted away.

"Hard a starboard!" said Mr. Somers, now the officer of the deck, to the
quartermaster, who was conning the wheel.

"Hard a starboard, sir!"

"Steady!"

"Steady, sir!"

"What does this mean, Somers?" demanded Pillgrim, in a low, angry tone,
as he passed the officer of the deck.

"I don't know, sir. I only obey orders," replied Somers, as he glanced
ahead at the chase.

"Do you know what steamer that is?" asked Pillgrim.

"How should I?"

"It is the Ben Nevis."

"How do you know?"

"I know; that is sufficient. We must save her," said the second
lieutenant, in low, but excited tones.

The chase continued for half an hour longer, when it was evident that
the Ben Nevis--for it was indeed she--had changed her course, and was
headed to the eastward.

"This will never do, Mr. Somers," said Mr. Hackleford. "We can't sail
with her. We must change our tactics."

"She gains upon us," replied Somers.

"No doubt of it."

"I am afraid we shall lose her, sir."

"I would give my year's pay to capture her, Mr. Somers, if it were only
for your sake."

Somers suggested an idea to the first lieutenant, who, after the
approval of Captain Cascabel, adopted it.

"Clear away the first cutter," said Mr. Hackleford. "Lower away."

The first cutter was soon in the water, the ship having now stopped her
engine.

"Mr. Pillgrim, you will stand by in the first cutter till that steamer
comes up. Capture her if her papers are not all right, or if she is
bound into Wilmington."

A smile of satisfaction lighted up the countenance of the second
lieutenant, when he found he was to go in the boat. The first cutter
pulled away.

"Clear away the second cutter!" said the first lieutenant; and while
the men were eagerly performing this duty, the captain instructed
Somers, who was to go in her, in regard to the duty he was expected to
perform.

Somers took his place in the stern-sheets of the second cutter, which
was armed with a twenty-four pounder howitzer, while the first cutter
had nothing but small arms. As soon as this boat left the ship's side,
the Chatauqua came about, as though she had abandoned the chase, and
stood to the westward.

The Ben Nevis immediately discovered the change which had been made in
the course of her pursuer. Apparently satisfied that she had outwitted
the man-of-war, she put about and headed towards the coast again,
without suspecting the fact that two boats lay in her track.



CHAPTER XIII.

A CONFLICT OF AUTHORITY.


It was about sunset when the Ben Nevis put about and headed in shore.
The first cutter was at least half a mile in advance of the second, and
both, of them lying near the track of the blockade-runner. It was
useless to pull towards the expected prize; on the contrary, it was
better policy to keep still, so as not to attract the attention of her
people.

The Ben Nevis, when she changed her course, might have been about five
miles distant from the Chatauqua, and the longer the meeting between the
steamer and the boats was deferred, the more would the darkness favor
the latter. It was thought that the blockade-runner would approach at
half speed, so as not to encounter the fleet off the river at too early
an hour; but her commander did not appear to regard this delay as
necessary, and came down at full speed. It was not dark, therefore, when
the first cutter was within hail of her.

As soon as the Ben Nevis discovered the nearest boat, she sheered off,
though, as the first cutter had no howitzer, she could have everything
her own way. Somers kept the second cutter just out of hail of the other
boat; and carefully watched the operations of the second lieutenant.

The steamer sheered off just enough to avoid the boat; but presently she
resumed her course, as if, making twelve knots, she had nothing to fear
from an enemy with oars only to urge her forward. It would be impossible
for the first cutter to board her at full speed, and she seemed disposed
to run the risk of a shot or two rather than expose herself to falling
into any other trap which the man-of-war might have set for her.

The Ben Nevis dashed on, therefore, in a direction which placed the
first cutter on her starboard bow, when Mr. Pillgrim hailed her, and
ordered her to heave to, accompanying the command with a peculiar wave
of his cap in the air, which was thrice repeated, very much to the
astonishment, no doubt, of the loyal blue-jackets in the boat with him.

"Topple my timber-heads! What does all that mean?" exclaimed Boatswain
Longstone, who, by the especial request of the fourth lieutenant, had a
place in the stern-sheets of the second cutter.

"Wait, and you will see," replied Mr. Somers.

The Ben Nevis at once stopped her wheels, and the first cutter pulled
towards her.

"That beats me!" ejaculated the boatswain. "What did she stop for?"

"Probably her captain thinks that is his best course," replied Somers,
who knew very well why she had stopped.

The commander of the blockade-runner evidently recognized the voice and
the signal of Pillgrim, and, like an obedient servant, was willing to
shift the responsibility of the occasion on his owner and employer.
Honest Tom Longstone was sorely perplexed by the movement of the steamer
and the conduct of the second lieutenant of the Chatauqua, for a
suspicion of foul play on the part of one of his officers could not have
entered his loyal heart.

The first cutter touched the side of the Ben Nevis, and Mr. Pillgrim
went up the accommodation ladder.

"Clear away the howitzer!" said Somers.

The boatswain looked at him as though he had been mad.

"Man the howitzer!"

The gun was loaded with a solid shot, and made ready for instant use.

"Now give way, boatswain," continued Somers; and the second cutter
dashed swiftly over the long billows towards the Ben Nevis.

"Are you going to use that gun?" asked Tom Longstone, in a low tone.

"If necessary."

"But Mr. Pillgrim has the steamer. He has boarded her."

"We will wait and see," answered Somers, evasively; for it was expected
and intended that the second lieutenant should "hang himself," on this
interesting occasion.

Before the second cutter could reach the steamer, Mr. Pillgrim had
completed his examination on board of her, and descended to his boat. As
he gave the order for the cutter to shove off, Somers's boat shot in
alongside of her.

"She is all right, Mr. Somers," said the second lieutenant.

"All right?" exclaimed Somers; and, in spite of himself, he actually
trembled with emotion, being conscious that a very trying scene was
before him--one which would require all his skill and all his energy.

"I say she is all right, Mr. Somers," repeated Pillgrim, sharply, for he
did not appear to like the tone and manner of the fourth lieutenant.

"What is she?"

"She is an American steamer from Baltimore, bound to Havana."

"What is she doing in here, then?" demanded Somers.

"That's her affair. Don't you see the American flag at her peak?"

"What is her name?"

"The Ben Nevis," replied Pillgrim, with the most expressive emphasis.
"Sheer off, and return to the ship."

"I think she is a blockade-runner."

"Do you, indeed?" sneered the traitor.

"I am satisfied she is."

"I have boarded her, and my report will be final in this matter."

"My orders were to board her," said Somers.

"Your orders?"

"Yes, sir."

"I am your superior officer."

"You are, Mr. Pillgrim."

"Of course your orders were intended to be carried out, in case you
happened to come up with the steamer before I did."

"I was ordered to board her, Mr. Pillgrim, and I feel compelled to
obey," replied Somers, with firmness, though he still trembled with
emotion.

"Steady, Mr. Somers; be careful," said Tom Longstone, bewildered by this
conflict of authority--a circumstance he had not before observed in his
long career in the navy. "He is your superior officer."

"I know what I am about, Tom," whispered Somers, compassionating the
misery his apparently mutinous actions must cause his honest friend.

"If you do, go ahead, my darling."

"Mr. Somers, I order you to return to the ship," said Mr. Pillgrim,
sternly.

"I must obey the captain's orders, and board this steamer."

"You mistake your orders, and I insist that you obey me."

"You will excuse me if I disregard your command; and I will be
answerable to the captain for my conduct."

"The captain is not here; I am your superior officer. Disobey me at your
peril!" continued Pillgrim, in savage tones.

"Is it all right?" shouted the captain of the Ben Nevis, who was
standing on the starboard paddle-box of the steamer.

"Ay, ay; all right. Start your wheels!" replied Pillgrim.

"Captain, if you move a wheel, I will fire into you!" added Somers; and
the captain of the howitzer stood, with the lock-string in his hand,
ready to execute the order when it should be given.

The commander of the Ben Nevis looked down upon the second cutter's gun,
pointing into the hull of his vessel, so that the twenty-four pound shot
would pass through her engine-room. He did not give the order to start
the wheels. Pillgrim was disconcerted: he was foiled in his scheme. By
this time he realized that the fourth lieutenant of the Chatauqua was
not the willing, timid tool he had taken him to be.

The men in both boats were astonished and confounded by the startling
clash of authority between their officers. Such a thing had never been
known before. They had been surprised when Mr. Pillgrim declared that
the steamer was all right, for there was not one of them who was not
perfectly satisfied that the vessel was running in to break the
blockade. They were still more surprised when Mr. Somers dared to
dispute the conclusions of his superior officer. Involuntarily they took
sides with the fourth lieutenant, because his opinion that the Ben Nevis
was not all right coincided with their own, and because the prize-money
went with his view of the matter. But they were well disciplined men,
and each crew, thus far, obeyed the orders of its own officer; and, so
far as they were concerned, there was no conflict of command, though
this was likely soon to be the case.

"Mr. Somers, I warn you--beware!" said Pillgrim, with the most
expressive emphasis.

"I intend to do my duty," replied Somers.

"Bully for the fourth luff!" shouted a seaman in the second cutter, who
felt disposed to take a part in the dispute.

"Silence!" interposed Somers, sternly, as he perceived that this bad
example was likely to be followed by others, and he felt that the
occasion was too serious and solemn to admit of anything like levity.

"Mr. Somers, you know the consequences!" continued the second
lieutenant.

"I do."

"Remember!"

"I know what I am about," answered Somers, understanding to what
Pillgrim alluded, though of course it was incomprehensible to others in
the boats. "I shall board the steamer."

"Do it at your peril!"

"I shall do it."

"This is mutiny!" stormed Pillgrim, with an oath, as he took a revolver
from his belt.

"I will abide the consequences," replied Somers, drawing his pistol.

"For God's sake, Mr. Somers--"

"Silence, boatswain!"

"You will ruin yourself," whispered Tom, whose bronzed face was ghastly
pale, and whose lips quivered with the anxiety he felt for his
_protégé_.

"I am perfectly cool, Tom; don't be alarmed about me," replied Somers,
tenderly, as he glanced at the expression of suffering on the face of
his faithful friend. "That man is a traitor!" he whispered.

"Once more, Mr. Somers, will you obey me, or will you not?" shouted Mr.
Pillgrim, angrily.

"If you will capture this steamer, as you should do, I will obey you in
all things," replied Somers. "I know she is about to run the blockade,
and so do you."

"I have examined her, and I declare that her papers are all right. My
decision is final. Return to the ship, Mr. Somers, and there answer for
your mutinous conduct."

"I shall board this vessel," replied Somers, as he ordered the bowman to
haul in towards the steamer.

"This is mutiny, and I shall treat it as such. I _will_ be obeyed!"

Mr. Pillgrim raised his pistol, and fired at the rebellious officer; but
he was too much excited to take good aim, if, indeed, he intended to do
anything more than intimidate his inferior officer. The ball whistled
within a few feet of Somers's head, and roused his belligerent spirit.
He raised his revolver on the instant, before the second lieutenant was
ready to repeat his experiment, and fired.

The traitor sank down in the stern-sheets of the cutter. The men seemed
to be paralyzed by this sharp work, and sat like statues on the thwarts.

[Illustration: A Conflict of Authority.]

"Haul in, bowman!" said Somers, in sharp and earnest tones, breaking the
solemn silence of that awful moment.

The man obeyed mechanically, and the others did the same when required
to boat their oars; but probably there was not one of the crew of either
cutter who did not believe that the fourth lieutenant would be hung
at the yard-arm for his mutinous, murderous conduct.

Somers directed the coxswain of the first cutter to pull in to the
accommodation ladder of the steamer. He was obeyed, and Boatswain
Longstone was ordered to take charge of the boat. Eight men, armed with
cutlasses and revolvers, were sent on board the Ben Nevis, and Somers
followed them. The captain protested against the capture, but his papers
were not what they were represented to be by Pillgrim. The character of
the steamer was evident, and she was taken possession of by the fourth
lieutenant, and the crews of both cutters were ordered on board.

"How is Mr. Pillgrim?" asked Somers of the boatswain. "Is he dead?"

"No, sir; the ball only glanced along the side of his head. He bleeds
badly, but he is not severely wounded."

The second lieutenant was soon able to sit up, and was assisted on board
the Ben Nevis, where he was conducted to a state-room, and two seamen
placed as guards at the door.

"Somers, you have played me false!" said Pillgrim, with a savage
expression on his pale face, "but you are a doomed man."

"As you please, Mr. Pillgrim. You will consider yourself under arrest,"
replied Somers, as the traitor passed into his state-room.



CHAPTER XIV.

THE PRIZE STEAMER.


It was quite dark when the capture of the Ben Nevis was completed.
Rockets were thrown up to inform the Chatauqua of her present position,
and with guards of seamen in the engine and fire-rooms, the wheels of
the captured steamer were set in motion, and she was headed to the
north. Somers displayed his usual decision and energy, and perhaps the
men began to think, by this time, that the young officer knew his duty
and was competent to perform it.

While the Ben Nevis was making her way towards the Chatauqua, Somers
paced the deck, thinking of the great event which had just transpired.
The captain of the Ben Nevis, sullen and discontented, stood by the
quartermaster at the wheel. He had attempted to enter the state-room of
the wounded officer, but the seamen in charge of the prisoner had been
instructed to exclude him, and they carefully obeyed their orders.

The men of the first and second cutters were silent and troubled.
Perhaps they fully sympathized with Somers, and dreaded the consequence
of the decisive deed he had performed. However the petty officers and
seamen felt, it is quite certain that Boatswain Longstone could hardly
keep from weeping when he thought of the punishment which might be in
store for his young friend. He was in charge of the lookouts forward,
and when the Chatauqua was sighted, he went aft to report to Somers.

"Very well; we shall soon see the end of this business," said the young
officer.

"I would like to see you safe through it," added the boatswain, in tones
of unaffected sympathy.

"What's the matter, Tom?" asked Somers.

"I feel worse to-night than I have before for twenty odd years," groaned
Tom.

"Why so?"

"I'm afraid this is bad business. It's no little thing to fire a pistol
at your superior officer."

"I told you what he was."

"I know you said he was a traitor; but it don't do for an officer in the
navy to take the law into his own hands."

"This steamer makes sixteen knots an hour, they say," said Somers, with
a smile.

The boatswain looked at him, and wondered what this had to do with
shooting the second lieutenant.

"She was going to run the blockade," continued Somers.

"No doubt of that."

"Then they intended to fit her out as a Confederate cruiser."

"Perhaps they did, Mr. Somers; you know best."

"Mr. Pillgrim did not intend to capture her."

"He did not, sartinly."

"Suppose I had permitted this vessel to go on her way, to run the
blockade, which she could have done as easily as a hundred others have
done the same thing, at the same place, and then come out as a
man-of-war."

"But Mr. Pillgrim was your superior officer, and he was responsible, not
you."

"I carried out my orders to the letter, Tom."

"Did you?"

"To the letter, I said."

"Were you ordered to shoot Mr. Pillgrim?"

"Yes, if necessary."

"Thank'ee, Mr. Somers. You have taken a weight heavier than the best
bower off my stomach. I'd rather be where Jonah was--in the whale's
belly--than see any harm come to you. I feel better now."

"You shall know all about it, Tom, in a few days, or perhaps a few
hours."

"I'm satisfied, Mr. Somers. Shiver my kevel-heads, but I ought to have
been satisfied with anything you do."

By this time the steamer came up with the Chatauqua, and both vessels
stopped their engines, as the Ben Nevis rounded to under the stern of
the man-of-war.

"Chatauqua, ahoy!" shouted Somers.

"On board the prize!" replied the officer of the deck.

"Send the surgeon on board, if you please."

"Ay, ay."

In a few moments the third cutter, in charge of Mr. Transit, the master,
put off from the ship, with Dr. De Plesion on board.

"Where is Mr. Pillgrim, sir?" asked the master of Somers.

"Wounded, below."

"Mr. Hackleford wishes your report forthwith on board the ship."

"Mr. Transit, Mr. Pillgrim is under arrest. You will permit no one to
communicate with him except the surgeon."

"Under arrest!" exclaimed Mr. Transit.

"I have no time to explain," replied Somers, as he directed his coxswain
to pipe down his boat's crew.

When the second cutter was hauled up to the accommodation ladder, Somers
stepped on board, and a few moments later, touched his hat to the first
lieutenant on the quarter deck of the Chatauqua.

"I have to report that I have captured the Ben Nevis," said Somers.

"Where is Mr. Pillgrim?" asked Mr. Hackleford, the captain standing by,
an interested and excited listener.

"He is wounded, and under arrest, sir."

"How wounded?"

"He fired at me, and in self-defence I was obliged to shoot him. I think
he is not seriously wounded. He boarded the Ben Nevis, and had given the
captain of her permission to proceed, though the vessel was headed
towards Cape Fear."

"You have done well, Mr. Somers," said Captain Cascabel. "Beat to
quarters, Mr. Hackleford."

When the crew were at quarters, Mr. Hackleford explained to them what
had occurred, and fully justified the course of the fourth lieutenant;
whereupon an earnest and enthusiastic cheer rang through the ship.

"Are you satisfied, Tom?" asked Somers of the boatswain.

"Bless ye! I was satisfied before, Mr. Somers. There is only one dark
thing in the whole of it."

"What's that, Tom?"

"If Captain Cascabel and Mr. Hackleford both knew that Mr. Pillgrim was
a traitor, why did they send him out to capture that steamer? That's
what I can't see through."

"Can't you? Well, if they had not sent him, we should not have captured
the Ben Nevis."

"I don't see why."

"Don't you? Well, you are not as sharp as you are sometimes."

"I know I'm dull, Mr. Somers, but splinter my figger head if I can see
through it."

"The Ben Nevis is good for fifteen knots at least."

"I know that; she did it while we were coming up."

"The Chatauqua can't make more than twelve."

"That's true."

"Then, of course, the Chatauqua could not catch the Ben Nevis."

"That's clear enough. But we were out in the boats, and were close
aboard of her."

"And just then she sheered off. Could the boats have overhauled her?"

"Sartinly not; but you could have put a shot through her hull."

"Which might, at that distance, have disabled her, and might not. The
chances were all against us. But the moment Mr. Pillgrim hailed her, and
swung his cap, she stopped her wheels. They knew very well he would not
detain her."

"I see now."

"Probably the captain of the Ben Nevis knew the Chatauqua, and knew that
Pillgrim was on board of her, and they were on the lookout for him. If
any other officer than myself had been in the second cutter, I am
satisfied Mr. Pillgrim would not have returned to his boat, but would
have staid on board the Ben Nevis."

"He's a horrible villain--arn't he?" said the honest boatswain.

This conversation took place while Captain Cascabel was preparing his
despatches to be sent by the prize steamer to the navy department. When
they were completed, Somers was sent for, and he repaired at once to the
captain's cabin.

"Mr. Somers, though I can hardly spare you, I feel compelled to send you
home as prize master in the Ben Nevis. I have commended you to the
department," said Captain Cascabel, as he handed him the despatches.

"Thank you, sir."

A prize crew was at once detailed, with two master's mates to act as
first and second officers, and a corporal and three marines to guard the
prisoner who was to be sent back in the prize. Somers bade a hasty good
by to his brother officers, and with his crew was sent on board the Ben
Nevis, whose deck he was now to tread for a brief period as her
commander. His orders required him to take the Ben Nevis to Fortress
Monroe, and there communicate with the navy department.

"Well, doctor, how is your patient?" asked Somers, when he reached the
deck of the prize.

"He will do very well. If you had put the bullet half an inch nearer his
brain, you would have finished him. The skin is torn off the side of his
head, and I suppose the ball stunned him. He is sitting up now, and
appears to be as well as ever, though in no very amiable frame of mind."

"I suppose not."

"He says you are a rebel and a traitor, and he intends to prove it. I
told him I thought his wound had affected his brain."

"It would require a long story to explain what he means. Mr. Hackleford
has the papers, and I doubt not he will tell you all about it, doctor,"
replied Somers, as he proceeded to arrange for the return voyage.

All who were not going home in the Ben Nevis were sent back to the
Chatauqua. The firemen and engineers of the prize steamer were willing
to discharge their duties as before, and under the direction of one of
the second assistants from the ship, they were set at work. The first
and third cutters pulled away towards the man-of-war, giving three
rousing cheers as they departed, and the Ben Nevis steamed away to the
northward.

By this time it was ten o'clock at night. The watch was set on deck, and
Somers went below to obtain his supper, for he felt the need of some
rest and refreshment. The steward, anxious to be on good terms with the
new commander, had provided the best meal the larder of the Ben Nevis
afforded, and Somers was hungry enough to do it ample justice.

A marine, with cutlass and revolver, stood at the door of Pillgrim's
state-room. When Somers had finished his supper, and was about to go on
deck, the sentinel informed him that the prisoner had knocked several
times on his door.

"See what he wants."

The marine opened the door.

"Who is the prize master?" asked Pillgrim.

The sentinel looked at Somers for permission before he replied.

"Answer him."

"Mr. Somers," answered the marine.

"Will you present my compliments to Mr. Somers, and say that I beg the
favor of an interview with him?"

Again the sentinel glanced at Somers.

"With pleasure," replied the prize master, as politely as the request
was made.

"Ah, Mr. Somers," said the traitor, as the new commander of the Ben
Nevis stepped forward and showed himself to the prisoner, "I am happy to
see you."

"Are you, indeed?" added Somers, rather amused at the smooth tones of
the traitor.

"I am, I assure you. Might I beg the favor of a few moments' private
conversation with you?"

"Certainly; have you any weapons about you?"

"None, whatever."

Somers directed the marine to seat himself at the farther end of the
cabin.

"Thank you, Mr. Somers; you are as kind and generous as ever."

"Let me say, Mr. Pillgrim, that flattery and threats are all the same to
me."

"Somers, you have me on the hip."

"I know it."

"You have won the game."

"I know it."

"I am in your power."

"I know it."

Pillgrim appeared to be hopeless and disconcerted.

"Somers, I have, in a bank in Philadelphia, fifty thousand dollars."

"What bank?"

"Excuse me; the confiscation laws are dangerous to men in my situation."

"No matter; I will inform the proper officers of the fact, and they can
find out what bank."

Pillgrim bit his lip.

"I will give you this money if you will--"

"Silence, sir! There is not money enough in the whole world to bribe
me."

"I still have the oath of allegiance--signed by you, and--"

"No, you haven't. Mr. Hackleford has it. You left it in your
state-room."

"Now listen to reason, Somers."

"I shall. Reason counsels me to do my duty."

"Somers, I will be revenged."

"Good night, Mr. Pillgrim. I see you have nothing of importance to say
to me;" and Somers went on deck after calling the marine back to his
post.



CHAPTER XV.

THE PRISONER IN THE CABIN.


Mr. Pillgrim's wound, as such injuries are regarded in the army and
navy, was a mere scratch; but it might have been very sore, and might
have ached severely. The traitor did not even mention it in his
interview with Somers, for the sore in his mind was much more serious.
His victim had now become his tyrant; not implacable or vindictive, but
firm and unyielding in the discharge of his duty.

Somers went on deck, satisfied himself in regard to the course of the
steamer, then visited the engine-room, and other parts of the vessel,
until he had assured himself that everything was right. It was a fine,
clear night, and when the port watch came on deck, he went below, and
lay down on the broad sofa, which extended across the after part of the
cabin. He was tired enough to sleep, and he did sleep till the starboard
watch was called in the morning.

He was a prudent and zealous commander, and he hastened on deck at once
to make sure that his charge was still safe. The weather continued fine,
and every man was at his post. He scrutinized the log slate, and
questioned the officer of the deck. Everything had been correctly done;
nothing had happened, and nothing was likely to happen. There was
nothing for him to do but sleep, and he returned to his couch in the
cabin, to complete his nap.

The sentinel at the door of the prisoner's state-room was still in
position. The guard was relieved every two hours, and the door was
secured on the outside by a padlock, which had been put on by the
armorer after the vessel was captured. Of course there could be no doubt
in regard to the safety of the prisoner.

Somers went to sleep again, satisfied that he had neglected no
precautions to insure the safety of the vessel and the prisoner. The
movements of the steward in the cabin awoke him at six o'clock. He had
slept away all his fatigue, and when he looked out through the stern
lights upon a smooth sea, brightened by the morning sun, all his anxiety
left him. It was hardly possible that any accident could interfere with
the safe arrival of the prize at her destined port.

As he rose from the sofa, the corporal of marines relieved the sentry at
the prisoner's door.

"Marine," said Somers, as the man passed him on his way out of the
cabin.

The sentinel stopped and touched his cap.

"How is the prisoner?"

"I haven't heard anything of him, sir, during my beat," replied the
marine.

"Isn't he up yet?"

"I didn't hear him, sir. He's a heavy sleeper, I should say, for I don't
think he moved while I was on guard."

As Somers had the key of the padlock in his pocket, he was satisfied it
was all right with the prisoner, and he went on deck. At seven bells,
when his breakfast was brought down, he directed the steward to give Mr.
Pillgrim his morning meal, handing the key of the state-room to the
corporal.

The door was opened, and the marine entered the little room. Somers sat
down at the table to eat his breakfast. He was blessed with a good
appetite, and some "'am and heggs," which the steward particularly
recommended, looked very inviting. But he had hardly satisfied himself
that the steward had not overrated the quality of his viands, before his
attention was attracted by an exclamation from the corporal of marines.

"What's the matter?" demanded Somers, rising from the table, and rushing
to the state-room.

"Mr. Pillgrim is not here, sir," replied the man.

"Not here!"

"No, sir."

"He can't be far off."

Somers entered the state-room. Certainly the prisoner was not there; nor
was there any indication of the means by which he had departed. The
partitions between this and the adjoining state-rooms were undisturbed.
The door had been securely locked, and the key was in the pocket of the
commanding officer. The traitor could not have crawled through the
bull's eye which lighted the room, for it was not more than nine inches
in diameter.

The marines who had been on guard during the night were summoned. They
all told the same story; not a sound had been heard in the room. Both
the master's mates who had kept the watches on deck were examined, but
they had no information to communicate.

"This is very remarkable," said Somers to his first officer.

"Very remarkable," replied Mr. Hudson, who seemed to be even more
bewildered than his commander.

"Where is Captain Walmsley?" asked Somers of the steward.

"I don't know, sir. I 'aven't seen him since 'e hate his supper last
night."

"See if he is in his state-room, steward."

He was not in his state-room. His bed had not been occupied; no one had
seen him since the Ben Nevis parted company with the Chatauqua.

"Are there any boats missing, Mr. Hudson?" continued Somers.

"No, sir; the steamer had two quarter-boats, and a life-boat forward.
They are all in their places."

"Wasn't there a dingy, or a jolly-boat, at the stern?"

"No, sir; I am sure that no boat is missing."

"Then of course the prisoner must be on board."

"No doubt of that, Mr. Somers. In my opinion he has concealed himself in
the hold, and intends to escape after we go into port."

"But how could he get into the hold?"

"That is more than I know, sir. He isn't in his state-room; he wouldn't
have jumped overboard forty miles from land."

"He must be found before we make the capes," said Somers, who could not
help thinking how "cheap" he should feel if compelled to report the
escape of his prisoner to the department.

He returned to the table and finished his breakfast, as a matter of
necessity now,--for man must eat,--rather than of inclination. The
Scotch ham seemed to have lost its fine flavor, and it was really a pity
that he had not completed his repast before the escape of Pillgrim was
discovered. But Somers was satisfied that the traitor was still on
board, and he was determined to find him, even if he had to throw the
valuable cargo of the Ben Nevis overboard, in order to effect his
purpose.

When Somers had worried down his breakfast, he went on deck to detail
parties to engage in the search. The hatches were taken off, and Mr.
Hudson was directed to examine the hold, while Somers himself, with the
marines and a couple of seamen, went to the cabin for the purpose of
tracing the fugitive from his starting-point. This appeared to be no
easy matter, for as yet there was not the slightest clew to his means of
egress.

Somers opened the door of the state-room, which had been occupied by the
prisoner, and there, to his utter astonishment and confusion, he saw
Pillgrim, sitting on a stool, and looking as composed as though nothing
had happened. Somers could hardly believe the evidence of his own eyes.

"Good morning, Mr. Somers," said the traitor. "I am happy to see you. I
was just thinking it was about breakfast time."

"Haven't you had your breakfast yet?" asked Somers, who deemed it best
to talk at random.

"How should I? You lock the door, and confine me to a very limited
sphere of observation. I hope you don't intend to starve me."

"O, no, by no means. I thought it likely you had breakfasted while on
your travels."

"On my travels?" said the prisoner, inquiringly.

"You have been out of your room."

"I?"

Pillgrim opened his eyes, and seemed to be astonished.

"Certainly you have. When we opened the door half an hour since, you
were not here. Perhaps you will not object to telling me where you have
been."

"I have not been out of my state-room, as you must be aware."

"But you have," replied Somers, stoutly.

"Am I to infer that you accuse me of lying, Mr. Somers?" demanded the
traitor, with an exhibition of dignity.

"I accuse you of nothing; I only say you have been out of your
state-room."

"But I say I have not. I am your prisoner: it is hardly magnanimous to
insult me in my present situation."

"Are you ready for your breakfast?" asked Somers, unwilling to pursue
the conversation on that tack.

"A hungry man is always ready for his breakfast. My misfortunes have not
impaired my appetite. I am ready for my breakfast."

Somers directed the steward to bring the prisoner his morning meal.

"Mr. Somers, may I beg the favor of half an hour's conversation with
you, when I have done my breakfast?" added Pillgrim.

"It is hardly necessary."

"Excuse me; it is absolutely necessary for your comfort and safety as
well as mine."

"Under such a threat, I shall certainly decline," replied Somers,
coldly.

"I intended no threat. Send these people away, and I will speak."

"You may speak or be silent, as you please."

Somers stationed a marine at the door, and sent the others away,
retiring himself to the farther end of the cabin. He was sorely puzzled
to know how the prisoner had got out of his state-room, and why he had
returned. He concluded that the opening of the hold had induced the
latter step, but the former was still enveloped in mystery. He
determined to give the prisoner another room, and make a more careful
search in the one he now occupied.

When Pillgrim had done his breakfast, Somers called a couple of marines,
and ordered them to put the prisoner in the aftermost room. The hasp and
padlock were then transferred to the occupied room.

"Mr. Somers," said Pillgrim, as he was about to lock the door, "I should
like to speak with you."

The tone was gentlemanly, and even supplicating, and Somers entered the
room, closing the door behind him; but he was careful to cock his
revolver as he did so, for the prisoner was a desperate man.

"I am ready to hear you."

"It is well you are."

"If you have any threats to make, I will not remain."

"Let me speak only the truth," said Pillgrim, as he looked at his watch.
"In twenty minutes from now, we shall all be in kingdom come."

There was a malignant smile on the face of the traitor as he spoke, and
it was plain to Somers that the villain did not speak without a cause.

"Somers, you have beaten me in the last game we played. I shall beat in
the next one."

"I told you I did not come here to listen to threats."

"You will be a dead man in seventeen minutes, Somers," continued
Pillgrim, glancing at his watch again. "I could not deny myself the
satisfaction of informing you of the fact. But, Somers, you will have
the pleasure of knowing that I shall share your fate."

"What do you mean, you villain?" demanded Somers, horrified by the
thought suggested by the traitor's words.

"Gently, my dear fellow. Don't use hard words. But I am glad to see you
are moved. Ah, Somers, I have you now," said the wretch, in mocking
tones.

"Speak!" roared Somers, drawing his pistol.

"Shoot me, Somers. I will thank you if you will. It is better to be shot
dead, than to be blown up, mangled, and then, after enduring a moment or
an hour of agony, to be drowned. Fire, Somers!"

He restored the revolver to his belt, appalled by the terrible picture
which the villain painted.

"Somers, I did leave my state-room. I was not willing to acknowledge it
before your crew."

"How?"

"I have not time to explain. There are but ten minutes of life left to
you and me. We will not waste them in what is of so little consequence
to either of us. You know of what the cargo of the Ben Nevis is
composed?"

"I do--of arms, ammunition, and provisions."

"Correct; the ammunition is stowed in the after part of the ship--under
us, in fact. Captain Walmsley and myself have laid a train by which the
vessel will be blown up when four bells strike. It wants five minutes of
the time. Captain Walmsley is in a position where he can hear the bell,"
continued Pillgrim with perfect coolness.

"Marine," said Somers, opening the door.

"Here, sir," responded the man.

"Pass the word for the quartermaster to strike four bells, instantly,"
added the young commander. "I am ready, Mr. Pillgrim."

The traitor looked aghast.



CHAPTER XVI.

CAPTAIN WALMSLEY.


"Mr. Pillgrim, I am not to be intimidated by any such stuff," said
Somers, when he had ordered the bells to be struck, which would produce
the explosion.

"Perhaps Captain Walmsley will not think it best to fire the ammunition
at the moment agreed upon; some discretion on this point was left with
him; but I assure you, on my word and honor, that the train is laid
which will blow up the Ben Nevis," said Pillgrim, earnestly.

"If you had not mentioned the name of Captain Walmsley, I might have
believed you. As it is, I do not. Your word and honor do not weigh much
with me."

"Don't insult me."

"I simply speak the truth. There! do you hear four bells?"

"I do; and if you are not blown up in half a minute, you may thank
Captain Walmsley for his moderation."

"He is not villain enough to destroy the lives of forty men, his own
people as well as mine, to gratify your malice and revenge. I give you
_my_ word and honor that he will do nothing of the kind."

Pillgrim looked hard at him, and seemed to be slightly disconcerted by
the obstinacy of Somers.

"If he will not, I will!" said he, fiercely.

"I purpose to put you in irons, when you have said all you have to say."

"In irons, Somers!" exclaimed the traitor, springing to his feet, his
face flushed with indignation.

"Since you are open enough to announce your intentions, it is plainly my
duty to defeat them. Acknowledge that your plot to blow up the vessel is
a mere scare, and I may spare you this indignity."

"You will find that it is a reality."

"Why don't it blow up, then?"

"It will, as soon as Captain Walmsley is ready. The Ben Nevis shall not
again go into a Yankee port as a prize. Mark my words."

"Captain Somers," called Mr. Hudson.

"What is wanted?"

"The men in the hold report a smell of fire there."

"I will be with you soon," replied Somers, convinced by this message
that there was some foundation for the threats of the traitor. "Go into
the hold, Mr. Hudson, and find the fire, if there is any."

He was cool, and did not permit the wretch before him to see a muscle of
his face move.

"There is fire there, Somers," said Pillgrim. "I know just where it is.
In a few minutes it will reach the ammunition boxes."

"Corporal," said Somers, opening the door again.

"Here, sir."

"Put the prisoner in irons, hands and feet," continued Somers.

"Do you mean that, Mr. Somers?" asked Pillgrim, quivering with emotion.

"I do mean it, and I shall stand by till it is done."

"Will you leave me in the midst of the fire, ironed hand and foot?"

"I will. You kindled the fire; and if you perish by it, blame yourself."

Pillgrim attempted to resist the execution of the order, but the marines
were resolute, and he was fully ironed in spite of his struggles.

"Now lock him in," said Somers.

"One word, Mr. Somers."

"Not another word;" and the young commander hastened from the
state-room, and made his way to the scene of peril in the hold.

He did not believe that even Pillgrim was stupid enough to blow up the
Ben Nevis for mere revenge; and Captain Walmsley certainly would do
nothing of the kind, for he could have no strong feeling on the
subject, at least not enough to sacrifice the lives of himself and his
crew.

There was a smell of fire in the hold--the hold filled with powder,
shells, and other combustibles. This fact tended to confirm the
statement of the wretch; yet Somers was incredulous. When he reached the
scene of danger he found the officers and the men timid about proceeding
far into the hold, for if there was fire, there must soon be an
explosion.

"Follow me, my men!" said he, as he walked aft on the cargo.

"Ay, ay, sir!" cheerfully responded the men,--for the American seaman
will go anywhere an officer will lead him.

In the after part of the hold there was a dense smoke and a strong smell
of fire.

"Keep back! You are all dead men!" shouted Captain Walmsley, as Somers
advanced and discovered the speaker seated on a box.

"What are you doing here?" demanded Somers.

"I am going to blow up the steamer," replied the captain, who held in
his hand a tin pan filled with burning oakum, chips, and other
combustible material.

"Well, why don't you do it, then?" said Somers.

"For God's sake, Mr. Somers, don't stay here," pleaded Mr. Hudson.

"You needn't, if you are afraid," replied he, coolly.

"Mr. Somers, in one instant I can blow the Ben Nevis all to pieces,"
said Captain Walmsley, with a proper exhibition of tragic adjuncts.

"Why don't you do it, then?"

"I am willing to give you one chance to save your lives."

"You are very considerate. Mr. Pillgrim was going to blow her up for my
special benefit."

"If you think I am not in earnest, you are greatly mistaken," continued
the captain, as he stirred up the burning substances in the pan.

"I see you are in earnest, and I am waiting for you to blow her up."

"I will give you ten minutes to save your lives; for I have sworn this
vessel shall never go into port as a prize. You and your people can take
to the boats and save yourselves."

"Will you blow her up when we are gone?"

"I will."

"I have had quite enough of this, Captain Walmsley," said Somers,
advancing to the fire king, revolver in hand. "Now go on deck, or I will
blow your brains out, if you have any."

The captain looked at the revolver, and he might as well have
acknowledged his defeat, for his face proclaimed it.

"If I should drop this into the cargo, it would blow up the ship."

"No, it wouldn't. There are nothing but solid shot and shell under you,"
replied Somers; and perhaps his coolness and self-possession were in a
great measure due to his knowledge of this fact, for he had carefully
inspected the cargo immediately after the capture of the vessel.

Captain Walmsley, with the blazing censer in his hand, made his way over
the boxes, bales, and barrels which lay above the heavy articles, to the
hatchway. The pan and its contents were thrown overboard, and the men
informed that there was no danger. The captain was ordered into the
cabin, where he was put in double irons, as his fellow-conspirator had
been. He protested, at first, against this indignity. Then he begged,
declaring that Mr. Pillgrim was the author of the plot by which it was
intended to recapture the steamer. It was fully believed that Somers and
his crew would abandon the vessel as soon as it was announced that there
was fire in the hold, knowing that her cargo would readily explode.

Captain Walmsley declared that Pillgrim was a fool; if he had kept still
till the fire was discovered, instead of declaiming over it beforehand,
the plan would have succeeded. Somers doubted it; and when the
humiliated captain was ironed, he was sent into his state-room, and a
sentinel placed at his door. This business was hardly completed before
the marine in charge of Pillgrim informed Somers that his prisoner
wished to speak with him. The request was peremptorily refused.

"There, Mr. Hudson, I think we have fixed those fellows so that we shall
know where to find them when we want them," said Somers, when the
conspirators had been disposed of.

"Yes, sir; and if any other man had been in charge of this vessel, he
would have lost her, Captain Somers. I should have voted for abandoning
her as soon as I was satisfied that she was on fire."

"Perhaps I should, if I had not known the powder and shells were in the
fore hold. But I did not believe the villains had pluck enough to blow
themselves up for the sake of blowing me up. If there had been any real
danger, they would have been the first to run away."

"Well, sir, I think you have managed them exceedingly well."

Somers was perfectly willing he should think so, and perhaps he thought
so himself. At any rate, he was heartily rejoiced to get out of the
scrape so easily, and fully resolved that the conspirators should have
no further opportunity to exercise their talents at plotting on board
the Ben Nevis.

There was a mystery still unsolved to the young officer, and with Mr.
Hudson he repaired to the state-room in which Pillgrim had passed the
night,--or ought to have passed it,--and commenced a further
examination. There was nothing supernatural, or even very remarkable, in
the absence of the prisoner, when the carpet was pulled up, and a square
aperture, now closed by a pine board, was discovered in the corner of
the room. In the ceiling there was a similar aperture, which had been
filled up to correspond with the deck above. It was evident that a
ventilator, which had been used to convey fresh air to the after hold,
had been removed at some recent period.

As Captain Walmsley had indicated this state-room for the use of
Pillgrim, it was probable that he had chosen it on account of this means
of egress. Some time in the night he must have visited the prisoner,
entering through this aperture, and conducted him to the hold below.

In the fine weather and smooth sea the Ben Nevis nearly made good the
claim of the conspirators in regard to her speed, for all day she logged
fifteen knots, and at three bells in the first dog watch Cape Henry was
sighted, and at ten o'clock in the evening she anchored off Fortress
Monroe.

By the first conveyance Mr. Hudson was sent to Washington with the
despatches of Captain Cascabel, and one from Somers. On the second day
the messenger returned, with orders from the department. The young
officer took the bundle of documents into the cabin, and proceeded to
examine those directed to himself. He was ordered to hand his prisoners
over to the commandant of the fort, to deliver his vessel into the
keeping of the senior naval officer on the station, and to rejoin his
ship forthwith, taking passage in a supply steamer to sail on the
following day. He was highly commended for the skill and energy with
which he had discharged his duty on board the Ben Nevis, full
particulars of which had been communicated by Mr. Hudson.

Another document contained his commission as master, the next rank above
that of ensign, which had been solicited by Captain Cascabel. This paper
was full of interest to the recipient of it, and he was obliged to open
the long letters he had written to his mother and to Kate Portington, in
order to add, in a postscript, this important intelligence. He was proud
and happy, and more than ever satisfied that republics are not
ungrateful, notwithstanding the tradition to the contrary.

At the proper time he proceeded to execute his orders in regard to the
vessel and the prisoners. Pillgrim and his fellow-conspirator were
brought on deck. The former looked easy and defiant, as usual, and
assured his captor that he should be at liberty in a few days.

"Perhaps not," said Somers.

"You shall yet be cheated of your victim, but I shall not be cheated of
mine," said he, with a malignant smile.

"I bear you no malice, Mr. Pillgrim."

"I do bear you malice; and the heaviest revenge that ever fell on man
shall fall on you before the end of this year."

"Your threats are idle. I have heard too many of them. Pass into the
boat, if you please."

Pillgrim and Walmsley went over the side, and the boat pulled away. The
chivalrous military officer removed the irons from their legs and arms
as soon as he received them.

The Ben Nevis was to be sent to New York to be condemned, and Somers
handed her over to the naval officer, according to his orders.



CHAPTER XVII.

OFF MOBILE BAY.


Somers was now entirely relieved from duty. He had delivered up the
prize and handed the prisoners over to the proper officers. On the
following day he went on shore to spend a few hours before the supply
steamer sailed. On visiting the fortress, he received the astonishing
intelligence that Mr. Pillgrim had escaped from the officer having him
in charge, even before he had been placed in the casement appropriated
to his use. Somers had cautioned the lieutenant to whom he had delivered
him, of the danger of removing the irons, but his advice had not been
heeded. The careless officer was now under arrest for his neglect of
duty.

By none was this unfortunate event more deeply regretted than by him who
had been the means of foiling the schemes of the traitor and handing him
over to the custody of the government. Pillgrim had boasted that he
would soon be at liberty. He was certainly a talented and a daring
fellow; and to handle him safely, it was necessary to understand him
thoroughly. Somers had a suspicion that the officer from whom the
wretch escaped was bribed by his prisoner; but of course there could be
no evidence on this interesting point.

A careful search had been made by the garrison of the fort, but without
success. Pillgrim was dressed in the full uniform of a naval lieutenant,
and in this garb his ingenuity would enable him to pass the military
lines, if indeed he was not provided with the means of doing so by the
faithless officer in charge of him. The prisoner had escaped on the
preceding day, and there was now little hope of recapturing him; but
Somers gave such information as he possessed in regard to the fugitive.
Captain Walmsley had been less fortunate, and was still in durance.

The story of the traitor's escape was a very simple one. When the boat
which had conveyed the prisoners from the steamer to the shore reached
the pier, and they had landed, Walmsley began to protest against his
confinement, being a British subject. He insisted upon seeing the
commandant of the fortress; and while everybody was listening to this
debate, Pillgrim slipped into the crowd and disappeared, passing the
sentinels, who had no suspicion that he was a prisoner, without a
challenge. Immediate search was made for him; but he must have taken to
the water, since there was no other place of concealment which was not
examined. A calker's stage was moored to the shore near the pier, and
it was afterwards surmised that he had crawled under this, securing a
position so that his head was out of water, and remained there till
evening.

He was gone, and that was all it was necessary to know. The officer who
had permitted him to escape would be court-martialed and broken, and
that would be the end of it. At noon, as Somers was about to embark on
the supply steamer, a letter was handed to him, which had been brought
in by a contraband. The negro said it had been handed to him by "a
gemman wid de anchors on his shoulders," whom he had met on the road to
Williamsburg, nine miles from the fort.

The epistle was from Pillgrim, as Somers would have known from the
writing, without the contraband's description of the person who had
given it to him. He put it in his pocket, and did not open it till he
had taken possession of his state-room on board the steamer. He was
confident that it contained nothing but threats and abuse, and he felt
but little interest in its contents. The writer, chagrined at the
failure of his plot, was running over with evil thoughts and malicious
purposes. Somers opened the letter and read as follows:--

    OLD POINT COMFORT, July 14.

SOMERS: You have been promoted. You remind me of the fable. The goat
went down into the well. The fox sprang upon his horns and leaped out.
You are the fox; you jumped over my head; you went up; you are a master
now. I congratulate you. You are the only man in the world I hate.

The Tallahassee is doing a good business for the South. She has captured
fifty vessels. The Ben Nevis was her sister. You have her. There are
more of the same family. You believe I am used up. No. I write this
letter to inform you that I am not even singed yet, say nothing of being
burned out. I shall be afloat soon. The Ben Lomond, twin sister of the
Ben Nevis and the Tallahassee, will be at work in a fortnight. She will
then be called the Tallapoosa. Look out for her.

The Ben Nevis was captured; my agents bought her again. The Ben Lomond
is now at--you wish you knew where! I shall command her. I could not
resist the temptation to inform you of my plan. I know you will enjoy my
prospects!

You would like to make a little arrangement for the capture of the Ben
Lomond. I wish you might. You will hear of her on the broad ocean in a
few weeks,--capturing, burning, bonding Yankee ships. It will please you
to read the papers then! I shall strike for a California steamer. Her
treasure will make good my losses.

I am so anxious to meet you again that I am tempted to tell you where my
ship is. I would like to meet you on her quarter deck. You are a
remarkably enterprising fellow; perhaps we shall meet. If we do, I
should feel justified in hanging you at the yard-arm. You belong to the
South. You accepted a commission in her navy. You betrayed your trust. I
shall _endeavor_ to see you again.

Give my regards to the officers of the Chatauqua. Inform them of my
present brilliant prospects. Remember me kindly to Kate Portington.
Possibly she may be a little _chilly_ when you see her again.

If you capture the Ben Lomond, otherwise the Tallapoosa, it would make
you a lieutenant. Do it by all means.

    PILLGRIM.

Somers read this singular letter three times before he could form an
opinion whether or not its statements were mere idle boasts, and whether
or not they had a foundation of truth. Was there any such vessel in
existence as the Ben Lomond? This was the interesting and important
question to him. At this time the Tallahassee was making fearful ravages
among the shipping on the coast, and the success and impunity with which
she carried on her depredations offered plenty of encouragement for the
rebels to send forth similar vessels, if they could obtain them.

The Ben Nevis had been named after a mountain in Scotland; Ben Lomond
was the name of another. The former was a Clyde-built vessel, and it
would have been natural to give these twin names to twin steamers.
Pillgrim, in the character of "Coles," had given him a certain amount
of correct information in respect to the Ben Nevis, though he had
deceived him in regard to her destination. He had obtained this
knowledge by accident, and the Ben Nevis had been captured.

To Somers there appeared to be a strong probability that the statements
contained in the letter were wholly or partially true. There were only
two rebel ports into which it was possible for the Ben Lomond to have
run--Mobile and Wilmington. The conspirators had told him that the Ben
Nevis was bound to Mobile when she was actually going to Wilmington.
Pillgrim, in his letter, declared that he was to command the Tallapoosa.
If there was any plan at all, of course it had been laid before the
Chatauqua sailed from Philadelphia.

Why did Pillgrim start for Mobile in the Chatauqua? Was it not possible
that he intended, as second lieutenant of a national ship, to obtain the
means of getting the Ben Lomond, or Tallapoosa, through the blockading
fleet? Did he not endeavor to involve the fourth lieutenant in the
meshes of the conspiracy for the purpose of obtaining his assistance in
this work? It was plausible. Perhaps the recreant wretch had left some
papers in his state-room on board the Chatauqua, which would be
intelligible in the light which he could bring to bear upon them.

Bewildered and astonished by the prospect before him, as he read the
letter again and again, and considered its remarkable statements in
connection with his previous knowledge, Somers spent the whole afternoon
in his state-room, and was only aroused from his meditations by the
supper bell. In the evening he resumed his study of the case, and tried
to reconcile the theory he had framed with reason and common sense.
There was nothing to conflict with this theory but the fact that
Pillgrim himself had given him the information upon which it was based.
The traitor would not intentionally betray himself. Perhaps he did not
expect his statements would be credited; or if he did, he had twice
before been equally reckless.

Then Somers attempted to analyze the mental constitution of Pillgrim.
The conspirator seemed to be able to endure all misfortunes. The loss of
the Ben Nevis had not affected him, and he had endangered, defeated his
plan to recapture her by indulging in idle threats before the match was
applied. He had been more desirous of mortifying, humiliating, and
overwhelming Somers, than of recovering his lost steamer. With great
talents for scheming and plotting, he had displayed the most amazing
stupidity.

At this point the remark to the letter that Kate Portington would be
_chilly_ when he saw her again, came up for consideration. Pillgrim
certainly had some purpose in view which was equal to, or greater than,
his desire to serve the South, or even himself, in a pecuniary point of
view. He was the friend of the commodore--had known the family before
the war. Somers could not help believing that, in spite of his
thirty-five years, he was an aspirant for the hand of Kate, and that the
bond he had signed was for her use rather than his own.

Miss Portington might well be _chilly_, if she discovered that Somers
had pledged a part of her fortune at the present stage of proceedings!

Somers was nervous and uneasy until he had reasoned and coaxed himself
into a full belief in the theory which he had suggested. He could not
wait for evidence, if, indeed, any could be obtained. For the present he
was satisfied, and determined to proceed upon his hypothesis, just as
though every point in the argument had been fully substantiated.

Our young officer was never idle when it was possible to work. If any of
our readers believe that Somers was very "smart," very skilful, and very
fortunate in his previous career, we beg to remind them, and to impress
it upon their minds in the most forcible manner, that he owed more to
his industry and perseverance than to the accidents of natural ability
and favorable circumstances combined. For example, when he captured the
Ben Nevis, instead of gaping idly about the deck, and thinking what a
great man he was, he went into the hold, and made a careful examination
of the steamer's cargo. The knowledge thus gained had prevented him from
abandoning the vessel when she was believed to be on fire, and thus
saved the prize and confounded the conspirators.

Somers was not idle now. He procured "Blunt's Coast Pilot," and "A Chart
of the North Coast of the Gulf of Mexico, from St. Mark's to Galveston,"
of the captain of the steamer, and diligently studied up, and even
committed to memory, the bearings, distances, and depths of water in
Mobile Bay and vicinity. He carefully trained his mind on these matters
so important to a seaman; and being blessed with a retentive memory, he
hoped and expected to have this knowledge at command when it should be
serviceable. It was hard study--the hardest and dryest kind of study;
but he stuck to it as though it had been a bewitching novel.

To assist his design he drew maps and charts of the coast from memory,
and was not satisfied till he could make a perfect diagram of the coast,
shoals, islands, and bars, mark the prominent objects to be sighted from
a vessel, and lay down the depth of water. He had nothing else to do on
the passage; and as the steamer glided swiftly over the summer sea, he
found it a more agreeable occupation than smoking, playing cards, and
"spinning yarns," which were the employments of his fellow-passengers.

On the eighth day from Fortress Monroe the supply steamer reached the
blockading fleet off Mobile Bay, and Somers was warmly welcomed by his
brother officers. Of course he had a long story to tell, which was
listened to with interest. The escape of the late second lieutenant was
received with becoming indignation. Somers was now the third lieutenant
of the Chatauqua, and he moved into the state-room formerly occupied by
Mr. Garboard, who had also advanced one grade in his relative rank.

"Somers, you are just in time for a big thing," said Mr. Hackleford.
"Our Brave Old Salt is going to take us up Mobile Bay in a few days."

"Indeed?"

"Yes, the Old Salamander has issued his orders."

"God bless him!" ejaculated Somers, fervently, in much the same spirit
that a loyal subject speaks of a popular monarch.

"Ay, God bless him!" replied the first lieutenant. "He is the ablest
naval commander the world has yet produced. In my opinion he is the
superior of Nelson, Collingwood, Decatur, Porter, Preble, and Hull. By
the way, Mr. Somers, you were with him on the Mississippi?"

"Yes, sir; I was in the Harrisburg when the fleet passed Forts Jackson
and St. Philip. But I am rather sorry the attack is to take place so
soon."

"Why so?"

Then Somers showed him Pillgrim's letter; but as we intend to tell only
what was done, not what was said, we will not record the conversation.



CHAPTER XVIII.

BRAVE OLD SALT.


The most extensive and careful preparations were in progress for the
events which, a few days later, astonished the world even more than the
splendid achievements of the fleet below New Orleans. The squadron off
the mouth of Mobile Bay had been actively employed for several days in
sending down top-masts, superfluous spars, and rigging. Chain cables had
been extended over the sides of the ships where the machinery was
exposed to injury from the shot and shell of the fort. Chains and sand
bags were placed on the decks where plunging shot might disable the
engines. Boats were removed from the starboard to the port sides, for
the fleet was to go in with Fort Morgan on the right, and close aboard
of them.

The preparations were advancing when Somers reported on board of the
Chatauqua, and of course he at once experienced the inspiration of
coming events. If there was any man in the navy whom he admired and
reverenced, that man was Admiral Farragut. It is true, he was not
singular in this respect, for every man in the fleet was equally devoted
to him. The "Old Salamander," who seemed never to be happier than when
in the midst of the hottest fire which the engines of modern warfare
could produce, was the idol of both officers and seamen. He was an
honest, just, and humane man, one who involuntarily won the respect of
every person with whom he came into contact.

We were never more thoroughly impressed by the honesty, justice, and
humanity of a man, than when we took the hand of this "Brave Old Salt."
His expressive eye, and his gentle, but dignified bearing, spoke more
truly and forcibly of what he was, than the most elaborate biography
which the pen of genius could produce. It almost passes belief that men
can stand up and work and fight as officers and seamen worked and fought
between Forts Jackson and St. Philip, and at Mobile Bay; but we can
think of no better inspiration than the leadership of such a man as
Admiral Farragut.

He was born in Tennessee--a southern state; his home was in Virginia--a
southern state--at the breaking out of the rebellion. With all the
motives which actuated Lee and Johnston, Tatnall and Hollins, to induce
him to abandon the old flag under which he had fought in early youth,
and served through all his manhood, he remained true to his country in
the hour of her severest trial. Neither bribes nor threats could move
him, and not for one instant did he falter in his devotion to the flag
he had sworn to sustain against all foes. Glory, honor, and immortality
in the hearts of his countrymen to the noble Admiral!

As a naval commander, he has no rival in the past or the present, in
this or in any country. He has achieved, once, twice, thrice, what any
board of naval officers that could have been convened from the boldest
and most skilful naval heroes of the united nations, would have solemnly
pronounced impossible. Chance might have given him the Lower
Mississippi--it did not; but it could not have given him that and Mobile
Bay, and the brilliant exploits up the Great River. Chance is
capricious; it never metes out uniform success.

Admiral Farragut is not simply a brave and skilful seaman, for the
stroke of genius shines out in all his battle plans, in all his
preparations, and in all his movements, whether on the silent river, as
his majestic ship leads in the van to the conflict, or under the most
deadly and destructive fire that ever was rained down on a wooden hull.
"Brave Old Salt" in the main rigging of the Hartford, as she breasted
the storm of shot and shell from Fort Morgan, is a spectacle more
sublime than can be presented in the annals of any other nation. The
position he chose for himself on that momentous occasion, more truly
indicates the key to his marvellous success than any other fact in
connection with the battle. He was not there to expose himself
needlessly to deadly peril; he was there to see and take advantage of
the issues of the battle.

His position was a symbol of the intelligence and bravery which won the
great battle. He saw with his own eyes--not with others; while his
glorious personal devotion was a type for every other man, which was
imitated from commodores down to powder-boys. We read of a general who
could not remember where he was during one of the severest and most
destructive fights of the war. If he had been in a position
corresponding to that of the doughty old admiral, it would have been
difficult for him to forget it. But personal bravery alone does not win
the battle on the sea or the land. The admiral's victories are due even
more to his genius--to his persevering industry in the elaboration of
preparatory details.

"Brave Old Salt," as Somers always called him, was our young officer's
beau-ideal of a naval commander. "Brave" he certainly was, and "Old
Salt," to a sailor, means something more than a long experience at sea.
It conveys to the nautical mind an idea of skill which no "lubber" can
possess. It was bravery, seamanship, and those peculiar qualities which
an "old salt" possesses, that made him great on the quarter deck, in
command of a squadron.

Somers's admiration for the commander-in-chief of the fleet off Mobile
Bay was of no recent origin. Since he had first known him as "Flag
Officer Farragut" at Ship Island, before the grade of Rear and Vice
Admiral had been created in our navy, he had reverenced him as a
superior man, and looked up to him with an almost superstitious awe. He
could hardly realize that they were both of the same earthly mould, with
the like human hopes and aspirations. Though, for a young man of his
age, Somers regarded his rank of master as very high, it did not permit
him to abate one jot or tittle of the distance which lay between him and
the admiral. He did not feel any better entitled to tread the same deck
with the glorious old hero, as a master, than he did as an ordinary
seaman.

Somers returned to active duty as soon as he had reported to the first
lieutenant of the Chatauqua, and he had the deck in the first dog watch
on the day of his arrival. During the afternoon watch he had had plenty
of time to report the incidents of his cruise in the Ben Nevis. Mr.
Hackleford had immediately communicated to the captain the facts
concerning Pillgrim's letter, and the recreant lieutenant's papers had
been carefully overhauled in search of anything which would shed a ray
of light upon the statements of the strange letter.

The only document which looked at all hopeful was a note written in
cipher, to which there was no key among the papers. If the communication
had been in Chinese or Chaldaic, there might have been a chance of
unravelling it; as it was, the note was written in arbitrary characters,
which were as cabalistic and unintelligible as the Egyptian
hieroglyphics. Somers was annoyed and discomfited, for he had
confidently reckoned upon finding some letter which contained a hint to
guide him. There was nothing but this note in cipher.

To add to his chagrin, Mr. Hackleford was utterly sceptical in regard to
Pillgrim's letter--did not believe the first word of it--called it
"gas," and declared that it would be stupid and childish to pay the
least attention to the document. Captain Cascabel fully concurred with
him in this opinion, and both of them laughed at Somers for bestowing a
second thought upon it.

"Nonsense! Mr. Somers!" exclaimed the first lieutenant. "There isn't a
single scintillation of truth in the story. If there were even a
glimmering of reality in the thing, I would look into it."

"But Mr. Pillgrim told me some truth in regard to the Ben Nevis," argued
Somers.

"That is the best reason in the world for believing he has not done so
in this instance," said Mr. Hackleford.

"I suppose I must give up the idea, then."

"You must, indeed. If you don't, I am afraid your reputation for common
sense and good judgment will suffer."

"Will you allow me to take this letter in cipher, and keep it till
to-morrow?" asked Somers.

"Certainly."

Somers took the letter, and put it into his pocket until he had an
opportunity to study its mystic characters. He was mortified by the
rebuff he had received, but his faith, though somewhat shaken, was not
destroyed. He was officer of the deck from four till six. Just before he
was relieved, he ordered the side to be manned to receive the captain,
who was just returning from a visit to the flag-ship.

As he touched his cap to Captain Cascabel, he noticed a smile on his
commander's face, which seemed to relate to him, and he blushed beneath
the pleasant, but expressive glance bestowed upon him.

"Mr. Somers," said the captain.

The officer of the deck stepped forward, and saluted the commander
again.

"You are invited to dine with Admiral Farragut to-morrow afternoon."

"I, sir!" exclaimed Somers, completely overwhelmed by this remarkable
declaration.

"Rear Admiral Farragut presents his compliments to Mr. Somers, and would
be happy to see him at dinner to-morrow, on board the Hartford."

The captain passed on to the companion-way, leading to his cabin,
leaving Somers as bewildered as though he had been invited to dine with
Queen Victoria, Louis Napoleon, and the Emperor of Russia; indeed, he
regarded it as a much greater honor to dine with "Brave Old Salt," than
to put his feet under the mahogany of the mightiest crowned head of the
world. It was evident that somebody had been talking to the admiral
about him; the captain and the first lieutenant of the Chatauqua
certainly felt kindly enough towards him to do so.

To dine with Admiral Farragut! That was glory enough for a lifetime; or
at least to be deemed worthy of such a distinction. Our friend Somers
was no snob; he "looked up" to great people, especially to those who
were really great. He pretended to no familiarity with his superiors,
though some of the officers were dying with envy at the notice taken of
him by the captain and first lieutenant of the ship. He did not assume
to be familiar with men who had won a deathless fame in defending their
country's cause. Perhaps there was not an officer in the fleet who would
so highly appreciate such a compliment as that of which he was now the
happy recipient.

When he was relieved from the deck, and went down into the ward-room,
the news had gone before him, and the "idlers" there congratulated him
upon his rising fame. But Somers broke away from them as soon as he
could decently do so, and shut himself up in his state-room. He was
actually dizzy at the idea of sitting down at the table with "Brave Old
Salt" in the cabin of the Hartford; and though he took the cabalistic
note of Mr. Pillgrim from his pocket, at least half an hour was wasted
before he could apply his mind undividedly to the difficult problem
before him. Finally, the hope of making a grand revelation to the
admiral on the morrow fired his zeal to such a pitch that the work
looked like play to him.

Somers opened the mysterious document and spread it out on the desk, at
which he seated himself. It looked dark and hopeless, with its dots and
dashes, its horizontals and perpendiculars, its curves and crosses. We
present the note in full, that our readers may be able to appreciate the
difficulty of the task he had undertaken.

[Illustration]

If Somers had been a student of the occult sciences, he might have been
more hopeful. An hour's hard study brought a gleam of light. He thought
the note must be signed by Langdon. There were seven letters in the
signature. This was his first ray of hope. He then placed all the
letters of the alphabet in a column, and against each made the character
that represented it in the cipher. Six letters were thus interpreted.

The next step was to place each of the letters thus discovered over its
sign in the note. The second and third words of the epistle then stood,
the eights being for undiscovered letters, as follows: 88nxlo8ond.

"Ben Lomond!" exclaimed Somers, as he gave a smart rap on the desk to
indicate his joy at the discovery.

Three more letters were gained, and the oblique cross was only a mark to
divide the words. The three letters before Ben Lomond must be, t h e.
The solution began to be easy, though it required a long time to reach
it. At midnight, when he was called to take the mid watch, he had it
written out as follows:--

    _Washington, Twentieth of June._

_The Ben Lomond is at Mobile, fitting out. Mallory gives you the
command. The forts will be attacked by the first of August. You must get
her out before that time._

    _LANGDON._



CHAPTER XIX.

THE BOAT EXPEDITION.


At general quarters, on the following day, Somers looked somewhat
care-worn. It was midnight when he had worked out the solution of the
cipher, and at this hour he had been called to take the mid watch. But
there was no happier or more exultant man in the fleet. His conquest
over the cabalistic letter had confirmed his theory. The Ben Lomond was
not a myth, and she was at Mobile. Pillgrim had expressed a desire to
see Somers again, and there was a fair prospect that he might yet be
able to do so.

The important event of this day was the dinner with "Brave Old Salt."
But the letter and the dinner seemed to be inseparably connected. Somers
had given the translation to the first lieutenant, who, to the chagrin
and mortification of the persevering student, did not appear to attach
much importance to the letter.

"If the Tallapoosa, or Ben Lomond, is in the bay, we shall soon have
her," said Mr. Hackleford, "for we are going to make the attack on the
forts within a few days."

"The attack may fail, and thus afford an opportunity for the cruiser to
come out," suggested Somers.

"Fail?"

The third lieutenant of the Chatauqua stood abashed before the look of
his superior. He did not believe that any attack made by Admiral
Farragut could fail, but it was possible for the Confederate steamer to
run the blockade, as hundreds had done before her, especially as she
could steam sixteen knots.

"I don't think the attack will fail, sir; but even a victory might
afford the Ben Lomond a chance to run out."

"I don't think there is much chance; but Captain Cascabel has your
solution of the letter under consideration. Perhaps the admiral may have
something to say about it."

Somers was not satisfied with the reception given to his revelation. He
had already formed a plan for ascertaining where the Ben Lomond was, but
the cool manner in which his communication was received prevented him
from even mentioning it.

In the afternoon, the captain's gig came up to the accommodation ladder,
and the commander, attended by Somers, seated himself in the
stern-sheets. Captain Cascabel was received with due honors on the
quarter deck of the Hartford, where the gallant admiral was walking at
the time.

When his superior had been welcomed with dignified cordiality, Captain
Cascabel introduced Somers. The admiral bowed, smiled pleasantly, and
did not look patronizingly upon the young officer, as he might have been
pardoned for doing. As he stood there on the quarter deck of the
flag-ship, he was full of genuine dignity and true manliness--a noble
representative of the American naval commander. He was of medium
stature, well formed, and of elegant proportions. He seemed to be made
of nerves and muscles, and when he moved there was an elastic spring to
his frame, which impressed the observer with the idea of energy and
vigor. He did not appear to stand on the deck, but to be poised
independently in the air, resting on the planks beneath him more because
it was the fashion to do so, than because he had any need of such
support.

Somers removed his cap, made his best bow, and blushed like a summer
rose. He was deeply impressed by the glance of the admiral, and the
atmosphere around him seemed to be full of the man at whom he gazed in
reverent admiration.

"Mr. Somers, I am happy to see you," said the admiral, in a tone so
gentle and affable that it seemed to remove the "curse" of greatness far
from him. "I have heard of you before, and I doubt not we shall be able
to make you very useful to your country."

"Thank you, sir," replied Somers, not daring to say any more, and with
the feeling of his childhood, that "boys ought to be seen, not heard."

The admiral, with this judicious commendation, turned to Captain
Cascabel, and opened conversation with him, evidently determined not to
spoil the young man by taking too much notice of him. Somers was soon at
home with the officers of the Hartford, and behaved himself with
becoming modesty and discretion. He dined with the admiral, several
other officers of distinction being present. The conversation at the
table, singularly enough, it may appear to our readers, did not relate
to the war, or even to the navy. These topics appeared to be carefully
excluded, though the reserve on this occasion was probably accidental.

Somers found sufficient pleasure in looking at and listening to the
admiral, and the other distinguished officers, though he was not
ignored, being kindly encouraged, by an occasional question, to use his
voice. But he was not forward, and his very nature prevented him from
indulging in any of that impudent familiarity which is so offensive to
elderly men, especially if they occupy high positions.

After dinner, a matter of business came up, and it soon appeared that
Captain Cascabel had given the admiral all the particulars relating to
the Ben Lomond, including the letter in cipher, which Somers had
interpreted. The conversation took place in private, with only the three
persons present who were most intimately concerned. The letter was
exhibited, and its solution explained.

"Mr. Somers, what is your plan? I am informed that you have one," said
the admiral.

"I have one, sir, but I hardly hope it will merit your approbation,"
replied the third lieutenant of the Chatauqua.

"We will hear it, if you please. By the way, our picket boats report
that a steamer came down the bay this morning, and moored inside the
Middle Ground. It may be the one mentioned in your letter--the
Tallapoosa."

"Probably it is, sir. She can now only be waiting the arrival of
Lieutenant Pillgrim, who is to command her."

"We must capture that man. State your plan, Mr. Somers."

The young officer, with no little trepidation, related the particulars
of the method he had considered for the capture of the Ben Lomond.

"Very daring and impudent, Mr. Somers," said the admiral, as he glanced
with a meaning smile at Captain Cascabel.

"Mr. Somers's _forte_ is daring and impudence. But his scheme, besides
being based on mere theory, is absolutely fool-hardy," added the
captain, throwing a whole bucket of cold water on the young officer's
prospects.

"I do not wholly agree with you, captain. By the report of the picket
boats, there is certainly a sea-going steamer in the bay. That, in a
measure, confirms Mr. Somers's theory. Now, if the vessel is there, the
young man may bring her out if he has the ability to do so."

"What force do you require, Mr. Somers?"

"The first cutter of the Chatauqua, and twenty-four men."

"You shall have them, Mr. Somers," said the admiral. "Instead of the
first cutter, I suggest a whale-boat, which will not be much more than
half as heavy."

"That would be better, sir," replied Somers, hardly able to conceal the
joy and exultation he felt at the prospect of being permitted to carry
out his plan.

"Captain, you will permit Mr. Somers to pick his men, and afford him
every facility for the execution of his purpose."

"I will, with pleasure, sir."

"When do you wish to begin, Mr. Somers?" asked the admiral.

"To-night, sir."

"Very well. The monitors haven't arrived, captain, and it may be a
fortnight before we make the attack on the forts. The steamer may run
out in a fog or storm before that time, and I think we do well to
prevent another Tuscaloosa from preying on the commerce of the country."

"Undoubtedly, sir, if we can."

"Mr. Somers's scheme may possibly succeed, though I do not think his
chances of cutting out the steamer are very encouraging."

"I am afraid not, admiral," answered Captain Cascabel, incredulously.

"Mr. Somers, your reputation would be seriously damaged by the failure
of your enterprise. Your officers would be more unwilling to trust you
than they are now if you should meet with a disaster."

"I could not complain. I do not intend to meet with any disaster. If I
do nothing better, I shall bring my men back with me."

The admiral laughed, and seemed to be pleased with this confidence,
while Captain Cascabel shook his head.

"Mr. Somers, the risk is very great. You and your men may be prisoners
in Fort Morgan within twenty-four hours. A failure would damage, if not
ruin you. Are you still ready to undertake the work?" asked the admiral.

"I am, sir."

"Remember that everything depends upon yourself. My best wishes for your
success go with you."

Somers needed no better inspiration, and his frame seemed to jerk and
spring like that of Brave Old Salt, when he realized that he was
actually to undertake his cherished purpose.

The gig pulled back to the Chatauqua, and Somers immediately commenced
his preparations. The cordial indorsement of the admiral was enough to
silence all opposition, and to "put a stopper on the jaw-tackle of all
croakers." He was earnestly seconded by the captain and his officers. In
a short time a light whale-boat was towed up, and made fast to the boom.

Somers's first duty was to select his crew. He was to engage in a
desperate enterprise, and everything must depend upon the skill and
bravery, as well as the silence and discretion, of his force. The first
person selected was the boatswain, Tom Longstone, who, being better
acquainted with the qualities of the seamen, was intrusted with the
selection of the boat's crew. Just as soon as it was discovered that
some daring enterprise was to be undertaken by the third lieutenant, he
was beset by eager applicants for a place in the boat. Acting ensigns,
masters' mates, midshipmen, indeed, all the officers below Somers in
rank, begged to be appointed.

The young commander of the expedition was prudent and cautious, and he
accepted the services of none. Tom Longstone was the only officer to
accompany him. The boatswain would obey his orders without asking any
questions, or bothering him with any advice.

"There, Mr. Somers, I have picked out the twenty-four best men in the
ship--men that will work, fight, and hold their tongues," said Boatswain
Longstone, when he had executed the important trust committed to him.

"Thank you, boatswain. What do you think of the weather?"

"It's going to be a nasty night."

"So much the better. Let every man take his pea-jacket; apply to the
armorer for revolvers and cutlasses for each of them."

"A howitzer, Mr. Somers?"

"No; we must go as light as possible," replied Somers, as he proceeded
to instruct the boatswain in regard to certain "slings" and other
rigging that would be wanted.

Boatswain Longstone did not ask a single question about the nature or
object of the enterprise; and with the exception of the admiral, and the
captain and first lieutenant of the Chatauqua, not a man in the fleet
besides Somers knew "what was up." It was necessary to conduct the
enterprise with the utmost caution and secrecy.

The boatswain's predictions in regard to the weather proved to be
entirely correct, for at eight bells, when the first watch was set, it
was dark, foggy, and rainy. Somers had calculated upon this weather,
when he had so promptly chosen the time for his venture. It was just the
night for a difficult and dangerous enterprise, and the fog and the
darkness were its best friends. While the boatswain was carrying out the
orders given him, Somers had been engaged at the desk in his state-room,
preparing for use certain papers, including his commander's commission
in the Confederate navy, and his letter of instructions, intended for
the Ben Nevis, or Louisiana. With his knife he scratched, and with his
pen he wrote, until the documents suited his present purpose; and they
were placed in his pocket.

At two bells--nine o'clock in the evening--while the rain poured down in
torrents, Somers embarked with his force, consisting of Tom Longstone
and twenty-four as athletic and resolute fellows as ever pulled an oar
or handled a cutlass. The whale-boat was crowded, though it was of the
largest size, being thirty feet in length. The oars were carefully
muffled, and the seamen were so disposed that the oarsmen could be
relieved without noise.

Wrapping his overcoat closely around him, Somers seated himself in the
stern-sheets of the whale-boat, with the boatswain at his side. Though
profoundly impressed by the magnitude and danger of the work in which he
was engaged, he could not help thinking of the changes which had
checkered his lot, since, two years before, he had sat in the first
cutter of the Harrisburg, as an ordinary seaman. Now he was a master,
and in command of the expedition. Tom Longstone had been with him then;
he was with him now. In low tones, they talked of that eventful night,
and of the changes which had occurred since that time.

Somers was grateful for his advancement, and thanked God that he had
been enabled to perform his duty so as to merit the favor of his
superiors. And in the depths of his heart he asked God to bless his
present exertions for the good of his country. He leaned on the Good
Father even in this exciting hour, and his religious faith was the
strength of his arm.



CHAPTER XX.

THE PICKET BOAT.


Through the deep darkness and the dense fog the boat made its way. There
was not an object to be seen, on ship or shore, to guide its course; and
in front of Somers there was a patent binnacle, whose lights were
reflected on the compass, but did not even soften the gloom without,
into which he continued to gaze with the most anxious solicitude. He had
carefully estimated the currents the whale-boat would encounter, and
calculated the force of the wind, so as to determine her lee-way with
the nicest practicable accuracy.

The young commander of the expedition hoped to strike a certain point of
the land to the eastward of the fort on Mobile Point, distant five and a
half miles from the ship. Half a mile east or west of the desired point
might involve him in serious if not fatal difficulties, and everything
depended upon the accuracy of his calculations. His early experience as
a boatman at Pinchbrook Harbor was of incalculable service to him, since
nothing can supply the place of actual observation in the making of
such nice estimates as were required for success in the present
instance.

The rain poured down in torrents, and the sea was rough and uneasy; but
Somers, never for an instant turned aside from the grand object before
him by the discomforts of his situation, watched his compass and closely
observed every motion of the whale-boat. He was fired with zeal, but he
was not excited, for he knew how much depended upon cool judgment and
careful execution of the details of his work.

"Breakers ahead!" said the bowman, in a low tone; and the words were
passed aft to the officer.

Breakers were to be expected; and of course Somers was not appalled by
the announcement. The boat dashed on till she reached the broken water;
but the surf on the shore, thrown up by the storm, was absolutely
fearful. A stunning roar broke upon the ears of the young officer as the
frail craft approached the foaming billows that shattered themselves on
the beach.

"That's a heavy surf, Mr. Somers," said Tom Longstone.

"So much the better," replied the officer, cheerfully.

"This whale-boat will not be much better than a cockle-shell in that
surf."

"She will go through it, if she is well handled."

"Ay, ay, sir; of course she will."

"The rebels will not expect a boat to land in such a surf and on such a
night. We shall not be expected," replied Somers, in a loud tone, for
whispers and soft speech could not be heard above the roar of the
billows.

The commander of the expedition stood up in the stern-sheets, and
attempted to penetrate the gloom and fog in the direction of the beach;
but neither sight nor sound of the shore could be obtained. To plunge
through that boiling surf upon a rebel battery or an artillery company,
would be a sad conclusion of the night's work; but even this must be
risked, for it was not possible to obtain a single item of information
in regard to the surroundings on shore.

"Oars!" shouted Somers, when he had completed his unsatisfactory survey
shoreward, and there was not the slightest danger of his order being
heard by an enemy beyond the thundering roll of the sea. "Hold water!"

The onward progress of the boat was stopped.

"Back the starboard, pull the port oars!" added the officer, who had now
taken the management of the boat out of the hands of the coxswain.
"Oars!" he continued, when the boat was turned so as to head directly
from the shore.

"Now, my lads, pull steady, and mind the orders promptly," said the
confident young officer. "There's a heavy surf; but if you pull strong,
and mind quick, we shall be through it in a moment."

"Ay, ay, sir!" responded the blue-jackets.

"Stern, all!" continued Somers, when he had carefully observed the sweep
of the last wave.

The oarsmen backed water, and the boat moved towards the shore, stern
foremost. In a moment she was lifted up by a great billow and swept
furiously towards the beach.

"Steady!" said Somers, gazing forward over the heads of the men,
watching the approach of the next foam-crested wave.

The men were entirely cool, and their iron muscles held the boat under
perfect control. A huge roller was coming in, fiercely, rapidly, at
double or triple the speed of the whale-boat, and the first great peril
of the surf was at hand.

The danger was, as our inexperienced readers may not understand, that
the stern of the boat, suddenly struck by the swift-flying wave, would
be lifted high in air, and the bow forced under; or that the boat would
broach to, and be rolled over in the sea. In either case the boat would
be swamped, and eventually be stove on the beach. Somers saw one of
these rushing billows coming down with frightful velocity upon the
whale-boat.

"Oars!" cried he; and the men ceased backing her.

"Give way!" he added, with an energy which was at once communicated to
the muscles of the men; and they pulled steadily, as a well-disciplined
crew always does, but with a firmness and strength which caused the boat
to dart forward towards the savage roller.

She met the billow; her bow rose upon it; she passed over without being
ingulfed by it.

"Oars! Hold water! Stern, all!" continued the young officer; and again
the whale-boat moved towards the shore.

The manoeuvre described was repeated several times, until the boat had
passed through the surf, and struck heavily on the sandy beach. The men
in the bow were then ordered to jump into the water; and as the forward
part was thus lightened, the successive rollers bore the boat farther
and farther upon the beach, until the whole crew were landed. The first
step of the expedition had been safely accomplished.

Somers ordered the men to haul up the boat high and dry upon the beach.
There was not a person to be seen, or a sound to be heard, which
indicated the presence of an enemy. The young officer had now to prove
the correctness of his calculations, for as yet he knew not upon what
portion of the point he had landed. A careful survey of the ground was
therefore immediately to be made. It was necessary to have assistance in
this; and Somers selected two first-class firemen, very intelligent men,
machinists and engineers, who were in training for situations in
government ships. They had been brought to work the engine of the Ben
Lomond, if, fortunately, she were captured.

Tom Longstone was left in charge of the boat and crew, and the two
firemen followed the commander of the expedition, who moved towards the
north. When he had proceeded a short distance, he explained to his
companions his object.

"About an eighth of a mile from the beach," said he, "there is a creek,
which widens into a little bay. I wish to find this creek; it will lead
us into Mobile Bay. Conant, you will go east, and, Wade, you will go
west. You must be very careful, or you will lose your way. You will not
go more than half a mile, as nearly as you can judge, in either
direction. If you find it, return to the beach, and take notice of the
best way to reach it."

The firemen parted, and Somers moved forward himself. He did not find
the creek in the direction he had chosen, and returned to the beach,
after a search of about an hour. Wade was there before him; but Conant
had not yet made his appearance, though he did not long delay the
expedition.

"I have found it, sir," said Conant, when he returned. "It lies in this
direction:" he pointed to the north-east. "It isn't a quarter of a mile
distant; but I had some difficulty in finding a good path."

"Did you see anybody, or anything?"

"Nothing, sir."

The whale-boat was then turned over; each man took off his pea-jacket,
rolled it up, and put it on his shoulder. The boat was then lifted up,
and placed on the shoulders of the sailors, the garment acting as a
cushion to support the weight, without injury to the bearers. After a
great many trials and difficulties incident to the darkness of the night
and the character of the ground, the creek was reached, and the
whale-boat launched. Unfortunately, the water was very shallow, and even
the light draught of the boat was too great for rapid progress, though
by various expedients this obstacle was overcome, and the expedition
reached the mouth of the creek at about half past twelve o'clock in the
morning.

Somers was entirely dependent upon his memory and the compass for
sailing directions; and the careful study he had made of the navigation
of the bay enabled him to move with considerable confidence. The creek
disembogued in a nearly landlocked bay, whose comparatively still waters
were passed, and the boat began to be tossed by the waves of the broad
bay.

Heading his craft to the westward, he bade the men give way with a will.
Encouraged by the manner in which all obstacles had thus far been
overcome, they were ready and willing subjects. After pulling about
three miles, the rougher sea and the depth of water which the bowman had
continually reported, assured Somers that he must have reached the
Middle Ground, where vessels bound out usually came to anchor when
subjected to any delay. The Ben Lomond, if she was in the bay, could not
be far distant; but the fog and darkness prevented him from seeing a
ship's length ahead.

"Can you see anything, Mr. Longstone?" asked the young commander, who
felt that he was now in the midst of the greatest obstacles to the
success of his mission.

"I can't see anything," replied the boatswain; "but I think I hear
something. There, sir! Two bells just struck in a vessel dead ahead."

"I see her," said the bowman. "It's a rebel iron-clad!"

"She's an ugly customer. I don't want anything of her," said Somers, as
he ordered the boat to go about, and headed her to the north-east.

"Boat ahead, sir!" reported the bowman.

"Speak out, man!" said the commander. "I am not afraid of being seen
now. Where away is she?"

"On the port quarter, sir."

"Starboard, coxswain," continued Somers.

In a few moments the dark outline of the boat was seen in the water, and
the coxswain was directed to steer towards her. Somers was fully
committed now, and intended to carry himself through by impudence and
audacity. He was in the midst of the rebel fleet to be used for the
defence of the bay. He knew that the waters around him were patrolled
by picket boats, and he doubted not the craft before him was one of
them. He could not find the Ben Lomond readily, and probably the officer
of this boat would know her position.

"Boat ahoy!" he shouted.

"In the boat!" was the reply.

"Oars! Hold water!"

"What boat is that?" demanded the officer of the rebel party.

"My boat," replied Somers, rather irregularly.

"Who are you?"

"John Pillgrim, commander in the Confederate navy, appointed to the
steamer Tallapoosa."

"Ah," responded the officer. "You were expected before."

"Couldn't come before," replied Somers, with perfect assurance. "Where
is the Tallapoosa? I have been beating about here in the fog these two
hours, trying to find her."

"She lies about half a mile to the northward and eastward."

"Thank you; I shall find her. Please report me to Admiral Buchanan, and
say I shall run out immediately."

"It's a good night for it. I beg your pardon, Captain Pillgrim; have you
a pass?"

"A what?" demanded Somers, as if astonished at the request.

"A pass."

"No; where should I get a pass, or what should I want one for?"

"Excuse me, but my orders are very strict. I cannot let a boat or vessel
pass me without the proper papers."

"What papers do you want?"

"Simply a pass."

"I have no pass."

"I shall be obliged to detain you, then."

"No, you won't!" answered Somers, indignantly. "Here it is one o'clock
in the morning. I ought to have been over the bar by this time."

"I can't help it, Captain Pillgrim; my orders are imperative," pleaded
the picket officer.

"Well, if you can't help it, I can. I may not have such another night as
this for a month."

"I shall not detain you half an hour. The Tallapoosa has steam up, and
is only waiting for her commander and the balance of her crew."

"How many men has she on board?" asked Somers, somewhat startled.

"About forty, besides the firemen."

"I have the balance. It is all right."

"Pardon me, if I persist. I must see your papers."

"I have no pass; but I will show you my commission and my orders from
the secretary of the navy."

"Those will answer."

The boat was laid alongside, and by the light of a lantern the officer
glanced at Somers's commission and orders. He pronounced them all right,
and the expedition was permitted to proceed.



CHAPTER XXI.

THE BEN LOMOND.


"That's a bold step, Mr. Somers," said Tom Longstone, as the whale-boat
dashed on towards the intended prize.

"If it were less bold, it would be more dangerous," replied Somers,
easily; for he entered so fully into the spirit of the affair, that he
felt quite at home, and was hardly disturbed by a doubt of final
success.

"Where is Mr. Pillgrim now?" asked the boatswain.

"I haven't the least idea; but I think he cannot be far off."

"You left him at Fortress Monroe?"

"Yes; he had started for the South then, to take command, I suppose, of
this vessel. The traitor's plan was to come down on the Chatauqua, and
then bring out this vessel perhaps, on the pretence of capturing her. At
any rate, he was going to use his official position in the navy to help
him get the Tallapoosa out of the bay, and past the blockading squadron.
If not, he would not have gone in her, and thus wasted so much of his
valuable time. I wish I knew where he is now."

"Perhaps it don't make much difference."

"I am afraid it will make considerable difference. Suppose the traitor
has been on board the Ben Lomond?"

"The what?"

"The Tallapoosa; they have changed her name. Keep a sharp lookout
forward for the ship, bowman."

"Ay, ay, sir! I can't see a thing yet."

"Suppose he has been on board, Mr. Somers?" continued the boatswain.

"If he has, we may have to fight for the vessel."

"Well, we can do that," replied Tom, as he involuntarily grasped his
cutlass.

"He has forty men aboard of her now, besides the firemen and
coal-heavers."

"Our boys wouldn't mind forty of them."

"I should not hesitate to attack her, but the noise would wake up the
rebel iron clads and gunboats. We must get the vessel without fighting.
I don't believe Pillgrim has been on board of her. If he had, that
picket officer would have known that I am not the man. I'm not going to
croak about the business, though. In my opinion it will be all right."

"Of course the Tallapoosa is in charge of some one."

"All her officers are on board, except the commander, we were told."

"Some of them may know Mr. Pillgrim," suggested the boatswain, who had
more fears for his young commander than the latter had for himself.

"Mr. Pillgrim has been in the North, and in England since the war began.
I am of the opinion that those on board do not know him."

"Suppose they do?"

"I shall put them under arrest if they refuse to obey my orders."

"You are smart, Mr. Somers," said Tom, who chuckled over the adroitness
of his _protégé_, even while he trembled for his safety and success.

"Steamer ahead, sir!" reported the bowman.

"Where does she lie?"

"On the starboard bow, sir!"

"Port a little," said Somers. "Now, my men, you will obey orders and
keep silent. Answer no questions which may be put to you."

"Ay, ay, sir," responded the crew, cheerfully; for though they seemed to
be knocking at the door of a rebel prison, they had full confidence in
their gallant young leader.

Perhaps some of them "had their doubts," for four and twenty men are
hardly ever gathered together, among whom there are not more or less who
are disposed to grumble, and croak, and imagine possible disasters.
Within the rebel lines, surrounded by Confederate vessels, and on the
point of confronting superior numbers, it would not have been
surprising if these men had been rather uncertain of the future.
Whatever doubts or fears they had, they believed in Somers.

"My lads," continued the commander of the expedition, in a low tone,
"you are rebel sailors for an hour or so. You will talk and act as such.
Do you understand me?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"You will call me Captain Pillgrim."

The men had listened to the conversation between their officer and the
pickets, and they comprehended enough of the plan to enable them to act
intelligently.

"Tom," said Somers, "there is nothing to prevent me from acting just as
Mr. Pillgrim would do, if he were in my place."

"That's so."

"I could go to sea in this steamer, and plunder all the vessels I could
overhaul."

"So you could," replied the boatswain, who seemed to be amazed even at
such a suggestion.

"I'm not sure that I am not carrying out the very plan which the traitor
had in his mind. Perhaps he intended to do just what I have done, when
he reached the blockading station."

"Very likely."

"Then I shall be Mr. Pillgrim, and carry out his purpose to the letter;
only, when we get out of the bay I shall do rather differently from what
he intended."

"Boat ahoy!" shouted a man at the gangway of the Ben Lomond.

"On board the Tallapoosa!" replied Somers.

"Keep off," said the man, who seemed to be the officer of the deck. "Who
are you?"

"Commander John Pillgrim, Confederate States navy, and captain of this
ship."

"Man the side, you lubbers!" added the boatswain, rather improving on
the suggestion of Somers, given him at this moment.

"Captain Pillgrim?" said the officer of the deck.

"I said so. Is the ship ready to sail?"

"She is, sir; we have kept steam up all day, waiting for you."

"Good! You are the right officers for me. I commend you," replied
Somers, as he mounted the accommodation ladder.

The pretended commander went up the side, closely followed by Longstone
and a dozen of the sailors, and stepped down upon the deck.

"I have not the pleasure of your acquaintance, I believe," added Somers,
confronting the officer.

"Mr. Swayne, second lieutenant, sir," replied the officer. "Mr. Langdon
is below, sir. I will send for him."

Langdon! It was all up with Somers! Langdon knew him, had dined with
him, had been intimate with him, and of course it would be useless to
attempt to pass himself off as Mr. Pillgrim.

"Stop, sir!" said Somers, sternly, and with great presence of mind.
"When did Mr. Langdon come on board?"

"Nearly a week ago, sir, when the rest of us did."

"Indeed!" added Somers, savagely. "Mr. Langdon and myself have a little
account to settle. He has disobeyed my orders, and I never will go to
sea with such a man as executive officer. Mr. Swayne, for the present
you will act as first lieutenant. I shall put Mr. Langdon under arrest
at once."

"Here he comes, sir."

"Mr. Longstone, you will arrest the first lieutenant at once; put him in
irons if he resists," said Somers, as he saw Langdon come up the
companion-way.

The stalwart boatswain confronted the astonished officer, as he
approached the spot where Somers stood with the second lieutenant.

"By order of Captain Pillgrim, you are placed under arrest," said Tom,
as, with a couple of seamen, he placed himself in front of the executive
officer.

"Under arrest?"

"Yes, sir."

"What for?"

"For disobedience of orders."

"By whose command?" demanded the bewildered Langdon.

"Captain Pillgrim's, sir?"

"Impossible!"

"I beg your pardon, sir, but the captain told me to lose no time. He is
going to sea at once."

"Is Captain Pillgrim on board?"

"Of course he is. I just came off with him. He ordered me to arrest
you."

"Who are you, sir?"

"Blarney, sir!" exclaimed the boatswain, impatiently; "I can't stop--"

"Mr. Blarney, will you do me the favor to ask Captain Pillgrim for a
moment's conversation with me. There must be some mistake, Mr. Blarney."

"Can't stop, sir," answered Tom, who could not even pause long enough to
laugh at the rebel's blunder. "My orders are to put you in irons if you
resist. What do you say, Mr. Langdon?"

"Of course I do not resist; but there is some mistake."

"No mistake, upon my honor. You may take my word for it, the business is
all straight."

"With what am I charged?"

"With disobedience of orders; and, Mr. Langdon, you'll excuse me, but
there's a suspicion that you mean to go over to the Yankees."

"I! To the Yankees!"

"Beg pardon, sir; but I can't stop to blarney any longer. My duty is
plain; and I'll bet a month's pay you will see the captain sooner than
you want to. Down below if you please, sir, to your state-room."

Langdon obeyed in dogged silence. No doubt he much wondered who the
rough fellow was that subjected him to this summary treatment. But the
salutary hint about irons seemed to satisfy him, and when he had gone
into his room, the door was closed, and a seaman placed before it.
Longstone returned to the deck, touched his cap politely to Somers, and
reported his orders executed.

"Mr. Swayne, you will call all hands," said the new commander of the
Tallapoosa, when his dangerous first lieutenant had been secured.

The boatswain of the steamer piped all hands, among whom the seamen from
the Chatauqua mingled, and made themselves entirely at home.

"Mr. Swayne, will you do me the favor to read my commission to the
crew," said Somers, handing him the document which he had carefully
"tinkered" to suit the present occasion.

Tom Longstone held the lantern, and the acting first lieutenant promptly
complied with the request of the assumed commander. The document
proclaimed that John Pillgrim was duly invested with authority as a
commander in the Confederate navy, and was duly signed by "S. R.
Mallory," though whether that distinguished rebel functionary had
actually issued the paper or not, Somers was himself as ignorant as the
others who listened to the reading.

From his orders Somers then read enough to satisfy any who might be in
doubt of his appointment to the Tallapoosa, which name he had
substituted for that of Ben Nevis, as it read on the original document,
given him by Langdon, _alias_ Lieutenant Wynkoop.

"Are you satisfied, Mr. Swayne?" asked the commander, when he had
finished the document.

"Entirely so, Captain Pillgrim," replied the first lieutenant.

If he had not been satisfied, probably he would have been put under
arrest as summarily as his superior had been a few moments before. With
such an energetic captain, it was lucky for him he was satisfied!
Perhaps Mr. Swayne was duly and properly impressed by the decided
character of his commander, and deemed it prudent to raise no
objections.

"Are you satisfied, gentlemen?" asked Somers, turning to the little
group of officers.

Fortunately for them, and perhaps for Somers too, they were also
satisfied.

"My lads," continued the courteous but decisive captain, "you have
listened to my commission, and you have listened to my orders."

Somers paused, and the two first-class firemen from the Chatauqua
started a demonstration of applause which was a complete success.

"My lads, I am going out to take a look at the Yankee fleet, to-night,"
he proceeded.

Applause.

"I am a fighting man."

More applause.

"That Yankee fleet will not stop me!" added Somers, with enthusiasm.

"That's so!" shouted one of the first-class firemen, who had a high
appreciation of a good joke; and his remark was followed by a storm of
applause.

"I repeat, my lads, the Yankee fleet will not stop me. I shall pay my
respects to the Yankee admiral down there before the sun rises."

Tumultuous applause.

"Now, my lads, I mean just what I say, and I say just what I mean. I
command this ship, and every man on board obeys me. I am going through
the Yankee fleet; will you go with me?"

"Ay, ay, sir!" roared the crew; and the voices of the Chatauqua's people
were prominent in the reply.

"Will you go where I lead you?"

"Ay, ay, sir."

"Very likely I shall send you upon the deck of the heaviest man-of-war
in the Yankee squadron; but I will go with you."

"Bully for the captain!" shouted the enthusiastic first-class fireman,
which remark was indorsed and approved by the crew in general.

"What an awful fellow he is!--a regular fire-eater," whispered Mr.
Swayne to Tom Longstone.

"He will do all he says he will," replied the boatswain.

"Will he board a Yankee frigate?"

"It's like him; but he is as prudent as he is brave."

"Now, my lads, to your duty. We shall get under way at once, and I want
every man to be true to God and his country," continued Somers.

"Three cheers for the captain!" shouted the fireman; and they were given
with a will, as Somers walked aft.



CHAPTER XXII.

RUNNING THE BLOCKADE.


"Mr. Swayne, you will get the ship under way at once," said Somers, as
he turned from the crew, and walked aft.

The first lieutenant gave his orders, and the crew were soon walking
round the capstan. The officers of the Tallapoosa had certainly used
their time to advantage, for the crew was well disciplined, though the
twenty-four petty officers and seamen from the Chatauqua were the spice
of every movement.

"Where is the pilot, Mr. Swayne?" asked Somers.

"We have one on board, sir. He berths in the steerage. Shall I send for
him, Captain Pillgrim?"

"If you please, do so."

A master's mate was ordered to find the pilot.

"Is he up to his business?" continued Somers, to whom the pilotage of
the vessel was of the last importance.

"Yes, sir; he is the best pilot in these waters. He has taken out a
great many vessels on worse nights than this."

"I could take the vessel out myself, so far as that is concerned," said
Somers, nervously. "Does he know how to get through the obstructions?"

"O, yes, sir; he is perfectly familiar with everything about the bay."

"And the channel is full of those infernal torpedoes."

"It is, sir; but the pilot knows exactly where every one of them is
located. We are in no danger from them; but they will blow the Yankee
fleet sky high when they attempt to come up, as they probably will in a
short time."

"So I understand."

"There will be fun here in a few days," added Mr. Swayne, rubbing his
hands with delight, as he contemplated the destruction of the naval
force gathered on the other side of the bar for the demonstration.

"The admiral down there is no joker," suggested Somers. "He won't feel
his way, and then back out."

"It would be better for him if he did. Admiral Buchanan is his equal in
every respect. With his ram he will stave in every wooden ship in the
fleet. His monitors will be blown up on the torpedoes."

"I hope the affair will come out right," said Somers, rather
indefinitely.

"It will; you may depend upon it, captain. Whoever is here when the
thing is done will see the greatest smash-up that has happened since the
war began."

"I hope so," replied Somers. "But suppose Admiral Farragut should run by
the forts."

"He can't do it; the thing is utterly impossible. The torpedoes will
sink his monitors--they are like lead, and if you shake them up a
little, they will plump down on the bottom like a solid shot. His wooden
vessels, even if he gets by the fort,--which can't be done,--would be
all chawed up in half an hour by the ram Tennessee."

"Anchor apeak, sir!" shouted Boatswain Longstone, who was doing duty as
second lieutenant.

"Captain Column, the pilot, sir," said the first lieutenant, presenting
a person who had been waiting a moment at his side.

"I am happy to see you, Captain Column;" and Somers took his hand.

"Thank you, sir," replied the pilot, who was evidently astonished at the
degree of intimacy with which the commander condescended to treat him.

Already the new captain had won a hard reputation abaft the mainmast.
His stern and decisive measures with Langdon had been privately
discussed among the officers, and it was the unanimous opinion that they
had "caught a Tartar."

"Well, Captain Column, have you got your weather eye open? This is a
dark and foggy night."

"Wide open, sir," replied the pilot, cheerfully; for Somers's cordial
greeting had already produced a good effect upon him. "The darker and
foggier the better, captain, for such a job as this. But there are so
many Yankee ships outside, you can hardly get clear of them without a
shot or two."

"O, I don't mind that, if you can get us well over the torpedoes, and
through the obstructions."

"The obstructions are not of much account, and as for the torpedoes, I
could put my hand on every one of them with my eyes shut."

"Good; but I don't want you to put your hand or my ship on them."

"Certainly not, captain," laughed the pilot. "I know how to keep clear
of them."

"That will suit me better. The ship is in your hands, Captain Column."

A quartermaster from the Chatauqua was placed at the wheel, and when the
anchor was heaved up, the Tallapoosa started on her course. Her wheels
began to turn very slowly at first, and before she had gathered any
headway, a boat touched at her side.

"Boat alongside, Captain Pillgrim," reported Mr. Swayne.

"What boat?"

"I don't know, sir."

"I have no more time to waste; keep the ship moving."

As the Tallapoosa gathered headway, a gentleman, clothed in naval
uniform, stepped on the rail from the accommodation ladder. When he had
reached this point, he stopped and looked down at the boat.

"Stop the steamer!" shouted he, in tones of authority; and to those who
had heard it before there was no mistaking that voice.

It was Pillgrim, without a doubt! Somers was vexed and disappointed at
this accident, which threatened to overthrow all his plans; but he
promptly decided to treat him as he had Langdon.

"See what he wants," said the commander to Swayne, "but don't let the
ship be delayed a single instant."

"Stop the steamer!" shouted Pillgrim, with a volley of oaths, because
his first order had not been heeded. "Stop the steamer, or you will
swamp my gig!"

"Your business, sir, if you please," said Swayne, stepping up to him.

"Don't you hear what I say?" replied Pillgrim, angrily. "Stop the
steamer."

"It can't be done, sir."

"Can't be done!" gasped the traitor. "It can and shall be done."

"Who are you, sir, that step upon this deck in that overbearing manner?"
demanded the first lieutenant, roused by the tones and the manner of the
new comer.

"I'll let you know who I am. Where is Langdon?"

"None of your business where he is," said Swayne, spunkily. "What do you
want here?"

"You shall soon know what I want here!"

Pillgrim was boiling over with passion at the rough reception given him
by his officers on board his own ship. He was disposed to be even more
stern and severe in his discipline than Somers had been.

"Who are you?" demanded Swayne.

"None of your business who I am, if you don't know; but I will soon
bring you to your senses," roared Pillgrim, as he leaped down upon the
deck, and with the step of a conqueror moved aft towards the wheel.

"Halt, sir!" said Mr. Swayne, placing himself in front of the stranger;
for he was roused to a high pitch of anger and excitement by the
unwarrantable conduct of the interloper. "You can go no farther on this
deck, sir, till you explain who and what you are."

Somers stood where he could see without being seen; for his presence on
the deck of the Ben Lomond would have explained to Pillgrim the reason
for his uncourteous reception. He quietly sent the two firemen and a
couple of seamen to the assistance of Mr. Swayne.

"I am the captain of this ship," replied Pillgrim, who found it
necessary to make this statement.

"The man is crazy," muttered Swayne.

"You understand me now," growled Pillgrim. "Stop the ship!"

"I think not, sir," replied Swayne, coolly; and he evidently regarded
the claim of the stranger in the light of a joke, or as the whim of a
maniac.

"You think not!" gasped Pillgrim, roused almost to madness by this cool
disregard of his authority. "I'll have you in irons in three minutes,
you scoundrel."

"There, sir, I have heard enough of this!" said Swayne. "No man uses
such language as that to me with impunity."

"I tell you I am the commander of this steamer," added Pillgrim, who
doubtless felt that the epithet he had used was unbecoming an officer
and a gentleman.

"I don't care what you are. If your boat is alongside, you will go into
it, in double quick time."

Pillgrim began to storm again, shouted to the pilot to stop the steamer,
and behaved in the most violent manner. Mr. Swayne's patience was
totally exhausted, and he ordered the seamen who stood near him to
arrest the interloper. A sharp struggle ensued, in which Pillgrim was
overpowered, and was held fast by the stout tars of the Chatauqua.

The first lieutenant then explained to the captain what had passed, and
what he had done.

"Put him in irons!" said Somers, decidedly.

"Who is he, captain?"

"It matters not who he is. No man can behave in that manner on board of
this ship."

Swayne executed his orders to the letter, and the traitor, in spite of
his struggles, in spite of his explanations and appeals, was put in
irons on the quarter deck of his own ship. He was carried below, and put
in a state-room, which was guarded by Conant, who had orders to shoot
him if he did not keep quiet.

In the mean time, the Ben Lomond,--for Somers, in strict accordance with
the subsequent "ruling" of Mr. Seward, refused to recognize the vessel
by any other than her original name, calling her the Tallapoosa only in
the presence of the rebels,--the Ben Lomond, under the skilful guidance
of the pilot, was slowly making her way out of the bay. A quartermaster
had been stationed in the fore-chains when the steamer got under way, to
take the soundings, which seemed to be the pilot's principal reliance in
the difficult duty he had undertaken. Captain Column had placed himself
on the port rail, just abaft the foremast, and the steering directions
were sent aft through a line of officers to the helmsman.

"By the deep four," sang the quartermaster in the chains.

"Steady!" said the pilot. "Keep her sou'-west by west, half west."

"Steady!" responded the quartermaster at the wheel. "Sou'-west by west,
half west."

"By the mark five!" said the leadsman, a little later.

"We are getting into deep water," said Somers.

"Yes, sir; we shall deepen till we get seven fathoms."

"And a half five!" came from the chains. "By the deep six."

The pilot went on the bridge, and taking the cord attached to the
whistle of the engine, made a signal, consisting of several blasts, with
irregular intervals between them. A heavy bell on shore sounded several
times in answer to the signal.

"All right," said the pilot. "I know exactly where I am."

"By the deep six!" called the leadsman.

The pilot repeated the signal with the whistle, which was answered from
the shore by the bell.

"Quarter less seven!"

"It is all going right, captain," said the pilot to Somers, who stood on
the bridge with him.

"By the mark seven!"

"Hard a port!" shouted the pilot, as he gazed into the binnacle on the
bridge.

"Hard a port!" repeated the line of officers, till the order was
returned by the wheelman.

"Steady!" said the pilot.

"Mark under water seven!" cried the quartermaster in the chains.

"Keep her south by west," added the pilot.

"South by west!" returned the wheelman.

"This course will bring us into the midst of the Yankee fleet in about
twenty minutes," said Captain Column.

"I'm not at all afraid of the Yankee fleet," replied Somers.

"I'm not afraid of anything else," laughed the pilot.

"Where are the torpedoes?"

"Between us and Fort Morgan, which is only about a third of a mile
distant, on our beam."

"And the obstructions?"

"We have passed them; they are of no account. Captain, I think all your
troubles are yet to come," said the pilot, as he glanced ahead.

"Why so?"

"If we should happen to plump into one of those monitors, a fifteen inch
shot would finish this craft in less time than it would take to read a
man's epitaph."

"I have prepared for all such accidents. The Yankees will not fire on
me."

"No?" exclaimed the pilot, wonderingly.

"I think you don't know me."

"I heard the first lieutenant say you were coming down here in one of
the Yankee ships."

"I did."

"Did you, though?"

"We will come to anchor, pilot, when we get within hail of the Yankee
squadron."

"Come to anchor, sir?"

"Certainly; come to anchor, until the fog clears off, or we can get a
little daylight. I don't want much."

"Well, that beats me!" ejaculated Captain Column.

"I shall hoist The Yankee flag over the Confederate; then the Yankees
will think this ship is a prize, and will not fire into her."

"That beats me!" repeated the pilot.

"I came down here in a Yankee man-of-war, and I made the arrangements
for carrying this thing through before I left her."

"O, yes, I see!" laughed Captain Column. "You are playing them a Yankee
trick."

"Exactly so!"

"Capital! capital!" exclaimed the pilot.

Fifteen minutes later, the Ben Lomond came to anchor under the lee of
Sand Island, to wait for a favorable time to continue her voyage.



CHAPTER XXIII.

A YANKEE TRICK.


The rebel officers and crew of the Ben Lomond were greatly astonished
when the order was given to let go the anchor. They were not in a
condition to appreciate the policy of stopping the wheels, and waiting
for daylight within hail of the blockading squadron, reënforced as it
had been for the attack on the forts; but as the captain had the
reputation of being a perfect tiger, a fire-eater of the most ravenous
sort, they did not venture to grumble or make any complaints.

Captain Column, the pilot, chuckled, and declared it was all right; the
commander knew what he was about, and would get the steamer out of the
scrape without even a shot from the Yankee men-of-war.

Somers had kept up his dignity and maintained his self-possession in the
exciting scenes through which he had just passed; but it must not be
thought that he was as easy in mind as he appeared to be. Every moment
had been burdened with its own peculiar anxiety. The least slip, the
slightest accident, would expose him and his brave followers to great
peril, if not to capture and death. He had won the day thus far by the
mere force of impudence and self-possession; but it was not without a
fear of failure, disgrace, and captivity.

But everything, up to this time, had worked admirably. He had met and
successfully turned aside the obstacles which beset him; and when the
Ben Lomond came to anchor, the prospect looked more hopeful than at any
previous hour. It was now about two o'clock in the morning. As there was
nothing to do, he devoted an hour to an examination of the vessel, which
had been fitted up at Mobile as a rebel cruiser. She had a heavy rifled
pivot gun amidships, and four broadside guns, and was in every respect
well provided for the work in which she was to engage.

She was a vessel of about four hundred tons measurement, long, narrow,
and very sharp. Her rig was that of a topsail schooner, and her
smoke-stack raked with her masts. She was a beautiful craft, and no
labor or expense had been spared to make her the fastest and most
elegant vessel afloat.

Even in the darkness, Somers could see enough of her shape and fittings
to excite his admiration. He passed from the spar deck to the berth
deck, where everything was in keeping with her appearance above. The
ward-room was small, but it was comfortable and well arranged, and the
captain's cabin was fitted up like that of a royal yacht. Probably Mr.
Pillgrim had spent some of his own money on these arrangements before
she left the Clyde; but what contributed distinctly to make her a war
steamer had been done after her arrival at Mobile.

Somers was delighted with the arrangements of the prize, and as he
examined the commander's cabin, he could not help envying the man who
was permitted to occupy this sumptuous and convenient apartment; that
is, if the stars and stripes floated at the peak above him, for he would
rather have been a coal-heaver in a loyal ship, than in command of the
Ben Lomond under the flag of the Confederacy.

Mr. Swayne had conducted Somers over the vessel, and pointed out to him
those features which were most worthy of notice.

"She is a splendid vessel," said the young commander, as they paused in
the ward-room.

"Yes, sir; I am but too happy in being appointed to such a ship. If we
only get clear of the Yankee squadron, we shall give a good account of
her."

"We shall have no quarrel with the Yankee ships," replied Somers, as he
led the way to the spar deck again, for he was not disposed, just yet,
to let Pillgrim and Langdon, who were confined there, hear his voice.

"Captain Pillgrim, you seem to be more confident on this point than your
officers," replied Swayne, in a gentle tone, which more than insinuated
that he would like to know more of the commander's plans.

Somers was very anxious that he should know more of them, so as to
prevent any suspicions which his subsequent course might excite.

"From what point did you expect me to come, before my arrival?" asked
Somers.

"I had no idea. Mr. Langdon seemed to be familiar with all your
movements, but he did not say much about them. He did remark, at one
time, that you were coming down as second lieutenant of one of the
Yankee men-of-war."

"Did he, indeed? Well, he was a prudent man, and he will have his reward
within a few days. Did he really say that?"

"He did."

"I was deceived in him; he was not to be trusted. I placed every
confidence in him. What else did he tell you?" asked Somers, artfully.

"Nothing else, sir. He said more to me than to any other officer, and
hardly anything to me."

"He has betrayed me."

"He told only me that you were to come in a Yankee man-of-war."

"Yes, he did; the pilot knew it--spoke to me of it; and very likely
every man in the ship has the news. But, Mr. Swayne, the statement was
true."

"Mr. Langdon afterwards contradicted it, and said you were in Richmond,
and were coming down by land."

"Probably he thought he had made a blunder. I did come down in the
Yankee ship, the Chatauqua. I am third lieutenant of her, not second. I
was sent off by the captain, at my own suggestion, of course, to bring
out this vessel. I have done it--haven't I?"

"You have," laughed Swayne. "Then you are expected by the Yankees?"

"Of course I am."

The first lieutenant of the Ben Lomond indulged in a laugh highly
complimentary to the skill and cleverness of his commander. Somers
laughed with him. It was an excellent joke to both parties, though, like
the Druid shield, it was seen from different points of view.

"Capital!" exclaimed Mr. Swayne, when he had evaporated the foam of his
mirth.

"If the fog clears off, I shall let up some rockets, which will prevent
the Yankees from firing at us. You understand?"

"I see, sir: you have the Yankee signals?" chuckled Mr. Swayne.

"Every one of them. No doubt they are on the lookout for me in every
ship in the squadron."

"Excellent, Captain Pillgrim. This is, by all odds, the best joke of the
season."

"Now, Mr. Swayne, you will hoist the Yankee flag over the Confederate."

"I don't like to do that, captain," added Mr. Swayne, with a burst of
patriotic enthusiasm.

"For a purpose, Mr. Swayne. Of course, when the men-of-war see that flag
over the other, they will not fire. We shall run through the squadron,
as though we belonged to it; and then--well, you will see what you will
see."

"Exactly so!" exclaimed Mr. Swayne, who seemed to enjoy the prospect
exceedingly, even independent of his desire to flatter and "toady" to
his commander.

The flags were hoisted as Somers directed, and the "captain" for a
couple of hours planked the deck in silence, impatiently waiting for the
fog to lift, or for the daylight to come. It was his policy to anchor,
because he was fearful that the steamer would run by the squadron, in
the fog and darkness, and it would excite suspicion to return to the
fleet, after safely passing through it. If Mr. Swayne had suspected any
treachery, or that everything was not as it appeared to be, it would
have gone hard with Somers and his men, for he could call in double the
loyal force to assist him, besides releasing Pillgrim and Langdon.

At four o'clock in the morning, the fog lifted, and Somers directed the
rockets to be discharged, and the steamer to be got under way. Though
anxious to keep up appearances, he quietly directed Tom Longstone to
make as much delay as possible, and by some accident the messenger
parted when the anchor was apeak, and it was necessary to do the work
over again.

"Captain Pillgrim, what shall be done with the men who came on board
with you?" asked Mr. Swayne, while the crew were walking round the
capstan.

"What shall be done with them?" asked Somers, apparently not
comprehending the meaning of the question.

"They are Yankees--are they not?"

"They are true men, Mr. Swayne. I selected them for this very duty, and
I know them."

"Excuse me, sir, I heard one of them singing a Yankee song, just now."

"They have been in the habit of singing such songs lately; but they are
true men, and will stand by me to the last. If I had wanted them, I
might have brought off a hundred of the crew of the Chatauqua."

Somers told a great many truths in the course of the night, for the
purpose of deceiving the enemies of his country, which is a very
anomalous duty for truth to perform.

The anchor was at the hawse hole, was "catted and fished;" and the Ben
Lomond moved on again, with the pilot on the bridge. As the fog lifted,
and the daylight increased, the squadron of "Brave Old Salt" was seen by
Somers and his companions. As he had promised, not a ship fired on the
steamer, or offered to molest her. The first lieutenant, pilot, and
other officers were entirely satisfied that everything was working in
exact accordance with the plans of their "smart" commander, as they
already called him.

The exciting moment when all the delusion would be swept away, and the
rebel officers and seamen find themselves prisoners, and their ship a
prize, was at hand. Somers had already arranged his final movements with
the boatswain, and certain of the men were instructed to perform
particular parts in the closing scene of the drama.

"Now, Captain Column," said Somers to the pilot, "we must run down for
the Chatauqua. She is the last vessel in the squadron, and if we appear
to be moving towards her, nothing will be suspected."

"Exactly so, captain," replied the pilot, shaking his fat sides with
laughter at the Yankee trick which they were playing off upon the
originators of this species of pleasantry.

"It is quite smooth this morning. The wind has all gone down. Run right
under the quarter of the Chatauqua."

"I can take her within six feet of the ship, if you like."

"Not too close."

"They will give us three cheers, won't they?" laughed the pilot.

"Very likely."

"Port!" shouted the pilot, as the Ben Lomond approached the Chatauqua.

"Port!" yelled the quartermaster at the helm, at whose side stood Tom
Longstone.

"Port!" repeated the pilot with greater energy, when he saw that the
head of the steamer was swinging off from the Chatauqua.

"Port!" again responded the quartermaster.

"Starboard a little more," said Tom, in a low tone.

Captain Column began to storm because the helm did not go to port as he
ordered.

"Can't help it, sir. The tiller chains are jammed, sir," replied the
quartermaster.

"Now hard a port!" said Tom Longstone.

"Starboard! Hard a starboard!" screamed the pilot, in tones of fury.

"Helm is jammed, sir!" returned the boatswain.

At this moment the bells were rung to stop, and then to back the engine.
To all but the half dozen loyal seamen who stood near the helm,
everything seemed to be in confusion. The Ben Lomond ran up on the lee
side of the Chatauqua, and stopped within a few feet of her. A stroke of
the wheels and a turn of the helm brought her alongside, before the
rebels could clearly apprehend the situation. The twenty-four men, with
their revolvers and cutlasses, stood ready to check any demonstration on
the part of officers or crew, but none was made. Their weapons were in
the armory, and they suspected nothing till an instant before the
steamer touched the ship's side.

Conant, as instructed, leaped on board the Chatauqua, and reported
Somers's wish to the officer of the deck. In another moment, the watch
on deck of the man-of-war poured into the prize, and secured every
officer and seaman. Then came the three rousing cheers which the pilot
had expected, and the work was done.

If ever a rebel was disappointed, disheartened, and disgusted, it was
Mr. Swayne. He had been bewildered by the sudden change in the course of
the steamer, and actually believed that it was caused by the wheel
chains being jammed, until the watch from the Chatauqua poured in upon
her decks.

"Well, Mr. Swayne, I suppose you are satisfied that I spoke the truth.
The Yankees have not fired upon us; I came down in the Chatauqua; I was
sent off to bring out this vessel; I have done it," said Somers.

"I had no suspicion you were a Yankee," replied the first lieutenant.
"Where did you get your commission?"

"It was given me by Mr. Langdon and Mr. Pillgrim, both of whom are under
guard below."

Swayne used some expletives more forcible than polite, and Somers went
on board the Chatauqua to report.



CHAPTER XXIV.

PILLGRIM AND LANGDON.


"I have the honor to report the capture of the Ben Lomond, otherwise the
Tallapoosa," said Somers, as he advanced towards Mr. Hackleford, his
face red with blushes, and his heart bounding with emotion.

The first lieutenant of the Chatauqua had regarded his enterprise with a
want of faith, to say the least; and when the young commander of the
expedition came forward to report its entire success, there was
something like pride and exultation in his manner, mingling not
ungracefully with the manifestations of his natural modesty. He had done
"a big thing;" he felt that he had done "a big thing;" and it would have
been a ridiculous affectation for him to pretend, by word or manner,
that he had not done "a big thing."

"I congratulate you upon your success, Mr. Somers," replied Mr.
Hackleford, warmly. "I was sceptical, I confess; but no man in the fleet
is happier than I am at your good fortune."

"Thank you, sir," said Somers, blushing more deeply than before, and
almost wishing that the first lieutenant had done the "big thing"
instead of himself, because he was so kind and generous in his
commendation.

"You have managed the affair with skill and energy. For my own part, I
did not believe you would even get into the bay, let alone capturing the
vessel. I am astonished at your success, but none the less delighted
because I am surprised."

"Thank you, sir," was all Somers could say in reply to this praise so
magnanimously bestowed.

"Captain Cascabel will see you, in his cabin, and we will hear your
verbal report there."

Mr. Garboard had already gone on board the prize, hauled her off from
the ship, where she was chafing her sides, and moored her a cable's
length distant. Somers went below, where he was as warmly and generously
greeted by the captain as he had been by the first lieutenant. He
related the story of his night's adventures to them with all necessary
minuteness. His auditors could not help laughing when he told them what
he had done with his old friends, the first lieutenant and the commander
of the rebel craft. He had acted on his theory of Pillgrim's intended
movements, and thus kept himself above suspicion.

"How does Mr. Pillgrim appear?" asked the captain.

"I haven't seen him, sir; I was very careful not to let him see me. Mr.
Swayne, the first lieutenant of the Ben Lomond, after I had disposed of
Langdon, managed him for me."

"It's a very amusing as well as a very exciting affair. But we must see
these officers. Where are they?"

"Under guard in the state-rooms of the prize, sir."

"Bring them on board, if you please, Mr. Somers. Get your breakfast
first."

Somers went to the ward-room, where he breakfasted with the officers off
duty. He was cordially congratulated upon his success, though perhaps
some of the mess regarded him as rather exclusive in permitting none of
them to share his laurels.

After breakfast the first cutter was cleared away, and Somers pulled to
the prize in her. The Ben Lomond was temporarily in charge of the second
lieutenant of the Chatauqua, who had secured the prisoners, and put
everything in order on board. Somers went at once to the ward-room,
where the two most important prisoners were confined. There were now at
each door a couple of marines with loaded muskets, but no communication
had been had with the solitary occupant of either.

Pillgrim had several times attempted to obtain some information in
regard to what was going on, but he was still in darkness. Even the
bull's eye in his room could not have enlightened him, for it was on the
starboard side of the steamer, while the Chatauqua lay on the port
side.

Somers ordered the marines to open the door of Langdon's room first, and
the late first lieutenant of the Tallapoosa came forth.

"Lieutenant Wynkoop, I believe," said Somers, facetiously.

Langdon looked at him with astonishment.

"Have you any more old sherry that has made two voyages to India?"

"This is hardly magnanimous, Mr. Somers," said Langdon, coldly.

"Perhaps not; but when officers stoop to such tricks as those you have
practised, there can be no great harm in mentioning them."

"Mr. Somers, I find myself somewhat bewildered."

"I dare say," laughed Somers. "Very likely your friend Pillgrim, or
Coles, is in the same situation."

"Is he on board?"

"He is."

"I have not seen him since he left Philadelphia in the Chatauqua."

"I have."

"You were in the Chatauqua with him?"

"For a short time."

"I had a letter from him, dated at Richmond, saying that he had changed
his plans."

"Changed them--did he?" said Somers, who had changed them for him.
"Perhaps you will inform me how you happened to be on board this
vessel."

"I don't object; it makes little difference what I say now. After
obtaining the command of the Tallapoosa for Pillgrim, I went to
Wilmington, where I was to take command of the Coosa."

"You mean the Ben Nevis."

"I do."

"I thought you were to call her the Louisiana."

"We did not always give you correct information," added Langdon, with a
sickly smile.

"Go on."

"While at Wilmington I got a letter from Pillgrim, then in Richmond,
informing me that the Ben Nevis had been captured, and that I was
appointed first lieutenant of the Tallapoosa, if I chose to take the
place. I did choose to take it, hoping soon to be in command of one of
the California steamers. I went to Mobile at once, and attended to the
fitting out of the ship. Pillgrim wrote me that he should be on board by
the 22d, and I had steam up to run out the moment he arrived."

"How happened you to tell your officers that Pillgrim was coming down in
a Yankee man-of-war?" asked Somers.

"That was his original plan. Though he wrote me from Richmond, I did not
know but that he intended to return to the Chatauqua. He gave me no
particulars; did not tell me that his plans had failed, only that he
had changed them. When he wrote that he should be on board by the 22d, I
knew he was coming down by land, and I corrected my statement. Now, Mr.
Somers, will you tell me how you happen to be here?"

"Marine, bring out the other prisoner," said Somers, who had been
instructed by Captain Cascabel to confer with the conspirators, if he
could obtain any information from them.

The discomfited, crestfallen commander of the Tallapoosa was brought
from his room by a marine. He saw Somers, and started back with
astonishment. He was pale and haggard, as though he had been spending
his time in drinking bad whiskey, and in other debauchery. He had upon
his face a fortnight's growth of black beard, and looked more like
"Coles" than when Somers had last met him. His captor concluded that his
misfortunes on board the Chatauqua had depressed his spirits, in spite
of the cool look he had before carried, and that he had given way to
dissipation. He certainly appeared like a person who had just come out
of a hard "spree."

In the Ben Lomond there was a door opening from the ward-room into the
captain's cabin. The vessel had evidently been built for a swift
passenger steamer. The ward-room was a portion of the main cabin, from
which the steerage and engineers' rooms had been parted off; while the
captain's cabin was the original "ladies' saloon." Langdon had been
conducted by the marines through this door to the captain's cabin, where
the conversation with him had taken place. Pillgrim was in the same
manner introduced to this apartment.

"Mr. Somers!" exclaimed the traitor.

"Yes, sir. In the letter you sent me from Old Point Comfort,--and I am
greatly obliged to you for the information contained in that
letter,--you expressed a hope that you should meet me on board of the
Ben Lomond. Your wish has been realized," replied Somers, taking the
original letter, with other papers, from his pocket.

Pillgrim trembled in every fibre of his frame. It was not thus he had
hoped to meet his enemy.

"'If you capture the Ben Lomond, it will make you a lieutenant. Do it,
by all means,'" continued Somers, reading the last paragraph of the
letter. "This was your advice. I have done it."

Pillgrim made no reply. His pale, haggard face, darkened by his
half-grown beard, was contorted by emotion, and his bloodshot eyes had
lost their fire.

"You don't seem to enjoy the situation so much as your letter intimated
that you would."

"Mr. Somers, I am your prisoner," said he, with a desperate struggle.

"You are; you will not have the pleasure of hanging me at the
yard-arm."

"I am bewildered--overcome."

"So was Langdon."

"I see why you did not join your ship before," said Langdon, with a
sneer, as he glanced contemptuously at his principal. "You have been
dissipating."

This remark brought forth an angry retort from Pillgrim, and for a few
moments each traitor reproached and vilified the other, much to the
amusement of the marines, and to the disgust of Somers, who was
compelled to interfere. Langdon's severest charge against his late
captain was, that he had betrayed their schemes by writing letters, and
in other stupid ways. Pillgrim denied it.

"Mr. Somers has just thanked you for the information contained in your
letter," sneered Langdon. "He has good reason to do so."

"I gave him no information that could be of any service to him."

"You gave him the name of the vessel," retorted Langdon.

"But I did not tell him where she was."

"You gave me that information, Mr. Langdon," said Somers, quietly.

"I?"

Somers exhibited the letter in cipher.

"You could not read that without the key," protested the writer of the
note.

"The first word I made out was 'Langdon:' the next, 'Ben Lomond.' I am
indebted to both of you. The moral of the whole affair is, that treason
cannot prosper. I am indebted to both of you for the information which
enabled me to capture the steamer. Gentlemen, it becomes my duty to
conduct you on board of the Chatauqua."

"No, Mr. Somers!" groaned Pillgrim, "spare me that."

"I must obey my orders."

The traitor objected strongly to being taken into the presence of the
officers of the ship in which he had so recently served. He protested
that he had but a few days to live, and begged to be saved from this
humiliation. But Somers, though he was not without pity for the degraded
and disgraced wretch, had no alternative but to obey the orders of
Captain Cascabel.

Langdon accepted his misfortunes with more resignation. He was quite
cheerful, and volunteered to tell all he knew, though he was very bitter
against Pillgrim, who, he declared, had ruined all their hopes by his
dissipation, his silly pretensions, and his reckless exposure of their
plans.

Somers was now satisfied that Pillgrim had been intoxicated when he came
over the side of the Ben Lomond the night before, which accounted for
his violent conduct, and which was one of the accidents which assisted
in the easy capture of the vessel.

Both the prisoners were examined on board the Chatauqua; and, with the
explanations of Somers, their operations were clearly comprehended. They
were placed in confinement, to await the final decision in regard to
them. In the forenoon Somers was sent to make his report to the admiral.
He was warmly received, judiciously commended, and courteously
dismissed. The young officer's respect and admiration for the "Brave Old
Salt" were not diminished by his second interview.

In the afternoon the Ben Lomond, in charge of an acting ensign, was sent
to Pensacola, where she was to remain until further orders. It was
surmised that the admiral, not wishing to spare any of the best officers
of the fleet, when on the eve of a mighty event, had decided to let the
prize remain in port with her prisoners until a more favorable season.
Be this as it may, the Old Salamander kept everybody busy for the next
ten days, when, the monitors having arrived, and all the ships intended
for the attack being in complete readiness, the order was given for the
battle, which now stands without a parallel in the annals of naval
warfare.



CHAPTER XXV.

THE BATTLE OF MOBILE BAY.


In order to appreciate the importance of the tremendous action in Mobile
Bay, it is necessary to consider that Mobile and Wilmington were the
only available ports of the rebels east of the Mississippi. The
resources of the Confederacy were exhausted by three years of wasting
war, and it was dependent upon foreign supplies for the means of
continuing the strife. The earnest attention of the government at
Washington, therefore, was directed to the shutting up of these ports.

To form a correct idea of the obstacles to the closing of Mobile Bay,
which had been intrusted to Admiral Farragut, it should be remembered
that its entrance was guarded by two strongly-built and heavily-armed
forts; that the only available channel for large vessels, but three
fourths of a mile in width, ran under the guns of Fort Morgan, the
stronger of the two forts; that this channel was filled with sunken
torpedoes, which, experience had demonstrated, were fatal to any vessels
subjected to the explosion; and that the rebels had a fleet of gunboats
and iron-clads, which could operate with every advantage against an
advancing fleet.

"Brave Old Salt" had estimated all these obstacles, and believing that
"success was a duty," he had resolved to overcome them. All the
expedients which the ingenuity of a thorough seaman could devise were
adopted to strengthen and protect the ships. The plan of the battle was
entirely original, and displayed the genius of its author. The admiral
modestly declares that he only obeyed the orders of the navy department,
and disclaims the credit so lavishly awarded to him by his admiring
fellow-citizens; but the government did not tell him how to do it--and
in that consisted the doing of it--did not order him to "lash ships" and
take his elevated position in the main rigging; did not bid him "butt"
the rebel rams with his wooden prows; and for all these things does the
whole world sound his praise.

At half past five in the morning the Chatauqua, with the Androscoggin
lashed to her port side, took her position in the line of battle. The
Brooklyn was to lead the van, with the "Old Hartford," the flag-ship,
next in the line, though the doughty old admiral had but tardily acceded
to the request of his officers in taking this place. The position of the
Chatauqua was in the centre of the line of battle.

At the signal from the admiral, the fleet moved on. Every officer was
full of zeal and enthusiasm, though it was certain that some of them
would never behold the light of another day; that more or less of the
gallant vessels must soon be overwhelmed by the hidden engines of
destruction which had been planted in the channel. Somers regarded it as
the great day of his existence. He had read his Testament and said his
prayers that morning as though it were the last day he had to live, for
the most fearful and deadly strife of the whole war was anticipated. A
man is never so fully prepared to live well and do his duty faithfully
as when he is ready to die.

While the young officer thought even more tenderly than usual of the
loved ones in his far-off home, and of that other loved one who was
never forgotten when home was remembered, he felt that his country was
theirs, and that every blow struck for the nation was struck for them.
To die for his country was to die for them--for his own home; and he
asked no higher duty than to sacrifice his life, if such was the will of
God. "Thy will be done," he repeated many times, though life was full of
hopes and joys to him.

The fleet moved on, and the roar of the great guns in the monitors soon
announced that the action had commenced. The chase guns of the Chatauqua
opened first, and the ship trembled beneath the concussion.

"The Tecumseh has gone down," passed from mouth to mouth, as a
tremendous explosion saluted the ears of the seamen.

The monitor had struck upon a torpedo, and in a moment had disappeared
beneath the tide, carrying down with her nearly all her gallant crew.
But this incident, appalling as it was even to the battle-scarred
veterans on the decks of the fleet, was hardly heeded in the terrible
determination of purpose which animated every heart. The Brooklyn paused
to dodge some supposed torpedo buoys, and "Brave Old Salt" dashed ahead
in the Hartford to his proper place in the van of the battle.

The ships in pairs came up abreast of the fort; and according to the
orders of the admiral, the broadside and other guns opened upon the
works, not with solid shot, in futile attempts to batter down their
dense walls, but with grape, which drove the gunners of the fort from
their stations.

Never were guns fired more rapidly; and the roar was tremendous, shaking
all earth beneath, and enveloping the scene in dense volumes of smoke,
above which, as it occasionally rolled away, might be seen the admiral,
lashed to the main rigging of the Hartford. A glimpse at him never
failed to call forth the most unbounded enthusiasm, among officers and
seamen.

With comparatively little injury the fleet passed the fort, and standing
to the north-west to clear the Middle Ground, was out of the reach of
its guns. Terrible stories of the torpedoes had been told by deserters
and refugees, but the admiral's hopes had been realized; they had been
so long in the water that they had become "innocuous."

But a new and greater danger menaced the fleet. The rebel iron-clad
Tennessee started out from under the guns of Fort Morgan. She was a
formidable adversary; and though the monitors were depended upon to
"neutralize" or destroy her, they moved so slowly and steered so badly,
that the brunt of the battle was borne by the wooden ships.

"Run her down," was the order from the admiral, which the signal officer
interpreted on the quarter deck of the Chatauqua.

[Illustration: The Battle of Mobile Bay.]

Captain Cascabel instantly ordered full head of steam to be put on, and
the ship, gathering headway, dashed down upon the Tennessee, striking
her at right angles, near the after part of the casemate. The shock of
the concussion was terrible. The men were thrown from their feet, and
the ship groaned in bitterness of spirit at the hard usage to which she
was subjected. Her stem was crushed in to the plank ends, and the water
began to pour into the forward store-rooms. Expecting such an event, the
carpenter and his gang were at the threatened point, and prevented any
disaster from the collision.

The effect upon the iron-clad was hardly perceptible, giving her a
heavy list, but apparently inflicting no damage upon her. The Chatauqua
swung round as she struck. Captain Cascabel, who had leaped into the
mizzen rigging, gave his orders, which were promptly executed by Mr.
Hackleford. Solid shot and shell were poured into the ram with a fury
which would have been fatal to a less strongly built craft. As it was,
one of her port shutters was struck and shattered, the rest of the shot
bounding off like peas from an oak floor.

"Hah, you bloody villains of Yankees!" shouted the rebels, at their
ports.

"How are you, Johnny Reb?" replied a fore-top man, as he hurled a
spittoon in at the port.

Another old salt dashed in a holy-stone, and then the marines opened
fire upon them with their muskets.

"Ram her again!" shouted the admiral from the main rigging of the
Hartford, as the flag-ship dashed at the game.

The Chatauqua swept round, and succeeded in striking the Tennessee
again, but with no better result than before. At the same time she
poured in shot and shell from every available gun.

At this moment one of the ships struck the Hartford, by accident, in the
dense smoke, and knocked two of her ports into one. It was believed that
the flag-ship would go down, for her planking was stove in within two
feet of the water-line.

"Save the admiral! save the admiral!" shouted the men; and there was
not one of them who would not have died by fire or water to rescue their
beloved leader.

Somers sprang upon the rail, to observe the catastrophe, and to be in
readiness to save the admiral if an opportunity occurred. While he stood
there, a shot hit the rail diagonally, a splinter struck him in the
side, and he dropped helpless into the water.

"Mr. Somers is wounded and fallen overboard!" shouted the captain of the
pivot gun amidships.

The words were hardly out of his mouth, before another man dropped into
the water from one of the ports. It was Tom Longstone. He found his
young friend, and bearing him up with his strong arm, both were rescued
from their perilous position.

"She shows the white flag! She surrenders!" was the cry, as the
boatswain and Somers reached the deck.

The young officer was borne to the ward-room at the moment of victory,
while the cheers of the brave tars were ringing through the fleet.

The Tennessee and the Selma had surrendered, the Gaines had been driven
ashore, and the Morgan was for the present safe under the guns of the
fort. The victory was complete and decisive.

Somers was severely, if not dangerously, injured. He was borne tenderly
to his state-room by his brother officers, as the cheers for the great
victory were sounding through the fleet. There had been seven men killed
and thirty-five wounded on board the Chatauqua. The surgeon was in the
cockpit, busily engaged in attending to the wounds of the poor fellows,
and could not immediately examine the young officer, who, it was
evident, required no surgical operation.

The ship, though considerably cut up by the shots from the fort and from
the rebel steamers, was still in condition for active service. The fleet
anchored in the bay, out of the reach of the guns of Fort Morgan.
Officers were busy in making the necessary surveys, and the men were
occupied in repairing damages and restoring order about the decks and
rigging.

"How do you feel, Mr. Somers?" asked Mr. Hackleford, entering the
sufferer's room, as soon as he could leave the deck.

"I do not suffer much pain, sir; but I am afraid I am badly damaged in
the hull," replied Somers, with a languid smile.

He was very pale, and lay very still. He was numb from the effects of
the shock given him by the splinter, and some of the functions of his
frame seemed to be suspended. The first lieutenant was alarmed, and sent
a second messenger for the surgeon, who presently made his appearance,
having disposed of the severest cases in the cockpit.

"What do you think of him, doctor?" asked Mr. Hackleford.

"I fear he is badly injured," replied Dr. De Plesion, shaking his head.

"Dangerously?" whispered the first lieutenant.

The surgeon shook his head.

"Speak out, doctor," said the patient, faintly. "I am not afraid to die
for my country. Please tell me the truth."

"I cannot tell yet, Mr. Somers. Three of the ribs are fractured, but if
he is not injured internally, he will do very well," added the surgeon,
to Mr. Hackleford.

"I have but little pain," said the patient.

"You will have more, Mr. Somers, by night," continued Dr. De Plesion. "I
do not discover any internal injury."

"I hope there is none," said the first lieutenant. "You are too good an
officer to be spared, Mr. Somers,--I mean for even a brief period, of
course."

The report of the surgeon was anxiously awaited by the captain and all
the ward-room officers, for the third lieutenant had been a universal
favorite, and his capture of the Ben Lomond, and his gallant conduct
during the action with the forts and the Tennessee, had not diminished
his popularity. Of all who waited the doctor's decision, none took the
matter so much to heart as the boatswain, who had saved him from
drowning while he was helpless in the water. Mr. Hackleford noticed him
at his duty, still wet to the skin, and kindly gave him permission to
visit his young friend.

"I shall not go by the board, Tom," said Somers. "You and I may yet make
another cruise together."

"Thank God! I hope so," exclaimed the boatswain, encouraged by these
cheerful words.

"Tom, I owe my life to you."

"O, never mind that, my darling! What would I have done if you had
slipped your wind?"

"You would have done your duty, as you always do, my good fellow."

"I dare say I should, Mr. Somers, but I can only thank God that you are
alive now," replied the boatswain, as the tears flowed down his bronzed
cheek, and he turned to leave the room.



CHAPTER XXVI.

IN THE HOSPITAL.


Under the arrangement made by Admiral Farragut with the commander of
Fort Morgan, the wounded of both sides were sent in the Metacomet to
Pensacola. Somers was of the number, and he was borne from his berth in
the Chatauqua to the steamer, though the removal caused him great pain.
The numbness of his side was beginning to pass away, and the parts to
become very sensitive.

"Mr. Somers, I am sorry to see you in this condition," said "Brave Old
Salt," who was present with a kind word for the suffering heroes of the
battle. "You behaved nobly during the fight, as I am told you always
do."

"Thank you, sir. You are very kind," moaned Somers, in his pain and
weakness.

"I have not forgotten you, my brave fellow," continued the admiral. "The
capture of the Ben Lomond was a matter of more consequence than you can
appreciate, perhaps; and your faith and skill in doing this work entitle
you to the gratitude of your country."

"I am happy in having merited your approbation."

"You have behaved gallantly in the action; and, I repeat, you shall be
remembered. What can I do for you, Mr. Somers?"

"Nothing more for me, admiral. You have done more for me now than I
deserve. Mr. Longstone, the boatswain of the Chatauqua, who saved my
life--"

"I know all about him, Mr. Somers. He was your right-hand man in the
capture of the Ben Lomond."

"He was, sir."

"He shall not be forgotten."

"I have already been rewarded more than I deserve--"

"No, you haven't. Mr. Pillgrim promised you a lieutenant's commission,
if you brought out his steamer. I ratify that promise. As to the
boatswain, it is a pity he is not an educated man; but he shall be cared
for."

"Thank you, sir."

But Somers was too faint to talk any longer, and the admiral passed to
other of the noble fellows who had been wounded on that eventful day.
The sufferer's cot was placed on the ward-room floor, for the
state-rooms and berths were already full. In one of them lay Admiral
Buchanan, who had commanded the rebel fleet. He had been wounded in the
leg in the battle, and he had lost the battle itself, which, to a proud,
brave spirit, was worse than losing a leg.

Somers was now suffering the most intense pain, which he bore like a
hero. Tom Longstone bent tenderly over him, his eyes filled with tears,
and uttered his adieus. With a hand as gentle as a woman's, he pillowed
his head on the couch, and smoothed back his hair from his eyes. He
would gladly have gone with his wounded friend, to lave his fevered brow
and speak words of comfort and encouragement to him; but neither of them
thought of such a thing, for the admiral's fleet was in the enemy's
waters, and every man was needed at his post.

The Metacomet, having received her precious freight of mangled heroes,
cast off her moorings, and, passing the fort, turned her prow to the
eastward. On her arrival at Pensacola, the sufferers were transferred to
the hospital, where they received every attention which willing hands
and generous hearts could bestow.

Fort Morgan surrendered to the combined forces of the army and navy
before the end of the month, and Mobile Bay was in undisputed possession
of the government. The work undertaken by the brave admiral had been
fully completed. Mobile was now a cipher, so far as the Confederacy was
concerned, though a great bluster was made of defending it to the last.

Somers had been three weeks in the hospital, and doubtless owed his life
to the skill of the surgeon and the attentions of the nurses. He had
been injured internally, as Dr. De Plesion feared; but he had begun to
improve, though he was still unable to sit up. He had endured the
severest pain, and the doctor had not concealed from him his fears of a
fatal result, because the patience and firmness, but especially the
religious faith, of the sufferer warranted him in doing so.

Day after day and night after night Somers struggled with his condition,
in faith, patience, and resignation. He felt that he was ready to leave
the world, full of joys and hopes as it was, for the purer hopes and
brighter joys of the eternal world beyond the grave. He thought of his
mother, and wished that she might be with him to smooth his dying
pillow, if he must die; but it was not the will of God, and he did not
murmur. He thought of Kate Portington. He would like to see her once
more before he passed away, but this was a vain wish; and from her and
the loved ones at home he turned to the glorious realities of the
immortal life--fitting theme for one who was trembling between life and
death.

In the midst of his pain and earthly loneliness he was happy. He could
not but recall the scene of Phil Kennedy's death-bed; of the agony of
remorse which shook him, as he looked back upon his past life; of the
terrors with which his stricken conscience invested the grave. Then the
sufferer, in the deepest depths of his heart, thanked God that he had
been enabled to be true to himself and to duty. He was happy in the
past, happy in the hope of the future. There was much to regret and to
repent of; but as he did regret and repent, he felt that he was
forgiven.

He was happy; and the joy of that hour, when an approving conscience
triumphs over bodily pain, and decks the waiting tomb with flowers, was
worth the struggle with the legions of temptations which all must
encounter.

We are best fitted to live when best prepared to die. Somers waited with
hope and resignation for the angel of death, but he came not. The very
calmness with which he regarded the open tomb, assisted in closing its
portals to him. At the end of two weeks the doctor spoke more of life
than of death; at the end of three he spoke not at all of the grim
messenger--grim he was, even when he wore the chaplet of flowers with
which Faith and Hope ever crown him.

Somers was out of danger. The internal inflammation passed away, and the
patient began to mend. He thought of life now, of meeting the loved ones
who, afar off, had sadly spoken farewells to him when he departed from
their presence, with all the fearful perils of storm and battle hanging
over him.

On the day after the news of the surrender of Fort Morgan arrived, the
Chatauqua dropped her anchor off Pensacola. A boat immediately put off
from her, containing Boatswain Longstone, who landed, and hastened to
the hospital with all possible speed. Probably there had hardly been an
hour since the Metacomet left Mobile Bay with the wounded, in which Tom
had not thought of Somers. The old man was as eager and impatient as a
child, and could hardly submit to the formalities necessary to procure
admission to the hospital.

"My darling!" exclaimed the veteran, as he crept up to the bed of his
young friend.

He walked lightly, and spoke softly and tenderly, for he knew how sick
Somers had been.

"Ah, Tom, I am glad to see you," replied the patient, as he extended his
thin hand, which the boatswain eagerly seized, though he handled it as
tenderly as a bashful youth does the hand of the maiden he loves. "It
does my eyes good to look upon you, Tom."

"Jack, I've been dying to see you. They told me you were in a bad way,
and might slip your cable any moment."

"I have not expected to live, until a week ago."

"God bless you, Jack! I was never so happy in my life;" and the
boatswain actually wept,--great, strong, weather-stained veteran as he
was, who had breasted the storms of four and thirty years on the ocean.

"I know how you feel, Tom."

"So you may, Jack,--I beg pardon, Mr.--"

"Call me Jack, now," interposed Somers, with a faint smile; "it sounds
like old times. You have been the making of me, Tom, and we won't stand
on ceremony, as long as we are not on board the ship."

The boatswain still held the attenuated hand of his sick friend, and
they talked of the past and of the present; of the battle, and of the
subsequent events in the bay. But Tom Longstone seemed to be thinking
all the time of something else.

"What have you got on, Tom?" asked Somers, as he noticed a "foul anchor"
on his shoulder, and a band of gold lace on his sleeve.

"What have I got on? Why, I always wear my colors, of course," replied
Tom, with a smile of the deepest satisfaction.

"But those are not the colors of a boatswain in the United States Navy."

"That's a fact, Jack. I'm not a boatswain, just now."

"Indeed!"

"I'm an acting ensign."

"Is it possible?" exclaimed Somers, not less pleased than the veteran.

"It's a fact, my darling; but before we spin any more yarns, here's a
document for you. Shall I open it?" continued Tom, as he took from his
breast pocket a huge official envelope, whose appearance was entirely
familiar to Somers.

"If you please."

It was directed to "Lieutenant John Somers;" and the superscription
sufficiently indicated the nature of its contents.

"God bless the admiral!" said Somers.

"God bless the admiral!" repeated Tom, glancing reverently upward as he
spoke.

The commission was dated before the news of the battle in Mobile Bay
could have reached Washington. It followed the reception of the
despatches concerning the capture of the Ben Lomond; and Tom Longstone
had been made an acting ensign, though he still retained his warrant as
a boatswain, for his conduct in the same affair.

"I congratulate you, Tom, on this promotion," said Somers.

"Thank you, Jack; and I congratulate you as Lieutenant Somers. You are a
'regular,' but I'm only an 'acting,'" replied the veteran. "When the
war's over, I shall be a boatswain again."

"I am more rejoiced for you than for myself, Tom."

"Just like you, Jack. If I made you, I'm sure you made me. I got my
rating as boatswain's mate in the Rosalie through you, and then I was
made a boatswain for what I did with you. Now I'm an ensign by your
doings. I suppose you think I'm not up to it, Jack."

"Yes, I do. I know you are. There's nothing about a ship that you don't
know as well as the admiral himself, except--"

"Except," laughed Tom, as Somers paused, "except what?"

"Navigation."

"I know something about that, Jack--I do, upon my honor."

"I do not doubt it."

"When I first went into the navy, I was a regular sea dandy. I used big
words, as long as the coach-whip; but I soon found a man must not talk
above his station. When I was a young man, I wasn't a bad scholar. I
went to the academy, and learned surveying; I meant to be a surveyor;
but I got a hitch, and went to sea."

"A hitch?"

"Well, I never mention it now. Squire Kent's daughter didn't treat me as
handsomely as she did another young fellow, and I drank more liquor than
was good for me. I got run down; and when I had payed out all the
respectability I had, I went to sea. That cured me of drinking; in fact,
I became a temperance man before the grog rations were stopped in the
navy. As I said, I was pretty well educated, and talked as well as the
officers on the quarter deck. But my shipmates laughed at me, and I soon
dropped down into using sea slang."

"I have noticed that your speech has been wonderfully improved since you
were made a boatswain."

"I've been trying to cure my bad habits. I've been lying round loose in
the navy for thirty years before the war began. I tried to be honest and
true, but the war has set me right up. I haven't told you the best of
the news yet, Jack."

"What more?"

"You are appointed to the Ben Lomond as prize master, and I'm going with
you as second officer. The admiral says you shall take the prize home,
if she has to wait two months for you. She is yours, and you shall have
the command of her."

"He is very kind; but I do not think I shall be able to take command at
present."

"We are to go as soon as the doctor will let you be carried on board of
her. Jack, the Ben Lomond is going into the navy; and if I mistake not,
she will be in command of Lieutenant Somers."

"That would be the height of my ambition. Indeed, I never aspired to
anything so great as the command of a fine steamer."

"You'll have her; the admiral is your friend. If you do, I shall be in
the ward-room. Splinter my timber-heads! Only think of that! Tom
Longstone a ward-room officer!"

"You deserve it, Tom."

In the course of the week, other officers of the Chatauqua visited the
patient, and at the end of that period the doctor permitted Somers to be
conveyed on board the Ben Lomond.



CHAPTER XXVII.

MISS PORTINGTON NOT AT HOME.


Pillgrim and Langdon had been in close confinement at Pensacola since
their capture. They were now placed on board of the Ben Lomond to be
sent north. An apartment was specially fitted up for their use in the
steerage, for they were regarded as dangerous men, to whom bolts, bars,
and other obstacles, were but trifling impediments. A sufficient number
of marines to guard them were detailed for duty on the passage, and the
steamer sailed for Boston, where the prize was to be adjusted.

Somers was now improving very rapidly, and before he left the hospital,
had sat up a small portion of each day. The pleasant intelligence
brought to him by Tom Longstone had not retarded his recovery; on the
contrary, the bright hopes of the future which it suggested, rather
stimulated his feeble frame, and assisted in his restoration to health.

The steamer had fine weather on the passage, with the exception of a
gale of thirty hours' duration. She put into Hampton Roads, and landed
her prisoners at Fortress Monroe, in accordance with the orders of her
commander, and then proceeded to Boston. The Ben Lomond behaved
remarkably well in the heavy weather she experienced, proving herself to
be a strongly-built and substantial vessel. Somers sent his despatches
to Washington from Fortress Monroe.

When the Ben Lomond sailed into Boston Harbor, Somers was able to go on
deck, for with each day of the voyage his health had continued to
improve. The steamer was duly handed over to the naval authorities, and
the young lieutenant was granted a furlough of sixty days.

"Our cruise is up," said Tom Longstone, when the business had been
completed.

"For the present, we have nothing to do; but I hope we shall soon
receive our orders," replied Somers. "Now, Tom, you will go down to
Pinchbrook with me, and spend a couple of months."

"Thank you, Jack; I hardly think I should know how to behave in a house
on shore, it is so long since I have been in one."

"You will soon learn."

They went to Pinchbrook, and Tom received a welcome almost as cordial as
that extended to Somers. The veteran was soon made entirely at home by
his young friend's father, and such a "spinning of yarns" for thirty
days had never been known before. Tom told a story of the Cumberland;
then Captain Somers had a West India yarn; and gran'ther Greene was
indulgently permitted to relate his experience in the "last war," though
it was observed that the old man, whose memory was much impaired, always
told the same story.

Never did a happier trio gather around a kitchen fire than that which
sat around the cook-stove at Pinchbrook on those autumn mornings. Very
likely Mrs. Somers thought the "men folks" were in the way at times;
but, she was too much interested in the stories told, and too good
natured to raise an objection, especially when John joined the party.

In the mean time, Somers was rapidly regaining his health and strength.
As may be supposed, he was a lion in Pinchbrook, and was invited to
every party and every merry-making in the place. Captain Barney was with
him a great deal, and was as fond of him as though he had been his own
son. Of course the young ladies of Pinchbrook regarded the lieutenant as
a great man; and if it had not been known in town that he was "paying
attention" to a commodore's daughter, he might have been absolutely
persecuted by the fair ones of his native village.

In strict observance of his promise, Somers had written several letters
to Kate Portington, but had received no answer. These epistles, with the
exception of an occasional playful remark, were confined to the details
of his naval operations. The events of his career were faithfully
recorded, and they were in no sense such productions as many silly young
men would have written under similar circumstances. No answer to any of
them had been received.

Since his arrival at Pinchbrook, Somers had written two letters; but at
the end of the first month of his furlough, he had not heard a word from
Kate. He was troubled, and no doubt thought Kate was very cold and
cruel. He knew that Pillgrim had not seen her, and therefore could not
have prejudiced her against him. It was possible that his letters had
not reached their destination; Kate might be away from home; and he was
not willing to believe that anything had occurred to make her less
friendly to him than formerly.

Somers, as we have so often had occasion to represent him, was always in
favor of "facing the music." If there was anything the matter, he wanted
to know it. If the lady wished to discontinue the acquaintance, he
wanted to know that; and when he could no longer content himself in
Pinchbrook, with the question unsettled, he started for Newport. On his
arrival he proceeded at once to the residence of Commodore Portington.
With a firm hand he rang the bell--in surprising contrast with his first
visit, for now he was firm and decided.

The servant informed him that Miss Portington was at home, and he sent
up his card. Somers sat nervously waiting the issue. Presently the
servant returned and handed him a card, on which was written, "_Miss
Portington is not at home to Mr. John Somers_."

He was confounded by this cool reply. Though her present conduct was in
accordance with the unanswered letters, he had not expected to be thus
rudely repelled. If she had any objection to him, why didn't she tell
him so? He had done his duty to his country, and kept his promises to
her. It was the severest blow he had ever received.

He read the card, rose from his chair, and left the house, as dignified
as though he had been on the quarter deck of the Ben Lomond. He was too
proud to ask or to offer any explanations. We will not undertake to say
how bad he felt. Perhaps he wished he had died in the Pensacola
hospital, when he lay at death's door; perhaps he felt like rushing into
the hottest of a fight, and laying down his life for the cause he had
espoused, without thinking that this would be suicide, rather than a
generous sacrifice to a holy duty.

Mr. Pillgrim had informed him that he would meet with a "chilly"
reception. It was even worse than that; but as it was evidently caused
by the traitor's machinations, he was content to suffer. If she chose to
let the words of the wretched conspirator against his country bias her
against him, he could not help it; and his only remaining duty was to
submit with the best possible grace.

Of course he could not leave Newport without calling at the Naval
Academy. Mr. Revere, the commandant of midshipmen, was his firm friend,
and it would be treason to him to leave the city without seeing him. He
was cordially received, and his experience in Mobile Bay was listened to
with the most friendly interest.

"I need not ask you if you have been to Commodore Portington's," said
Mr. Revere.

"I have, sir."

"Well, how is Miss Portington?"

"I did not see her," replied Somers, who, conscious that he had done no
wrong, was not disposed to conceal his misfortune from so good a friend.

"Did not see her!" exclaimed the commandant.

Somers explained.

The story of Pillgrim's treason had been circulated, but the particulars
by which it had been exposed were known to only a few. Mr. Revere saw at
once the cause of the rupture.

"The villain has sent her the bond you signed," said he.

"Perhaps he has."

"Probably she knows nothing of the circumstances under which you signed
it."

"I have had no opportunity to explain."

"But, Somers, you musn't be too stiff. Any lady would be fully justified
in refusing to see a gentleman who signed a paper like that, which
contained her name in such a connection."

"I think so myself; and therefore I will not blame her."

"Pillgrim got you to sign that document for this very purpose."

"I surmised as much."

"But it is a wrong to the lady as well as to you, to permit this thing
to go on."

"I have no remedy."

"Write her a note, explaining your position."

"My motives would be misconstrued."

"Then I shall act for you."

Somers went to his hotel, and Mr. Revere did act it for him. Kate was
not satisfied. A high-minded man would have died rather than sign such a
paper. So would Somers, if the bond had any real meaning. The commandant
was not successful in the negotiation, as mediators seldom are in such
cases.

"I am satisfied, Mr. Revere," said Somers: but he was as far from
satisfied as a young man could be.

"There is no help for it; but, Somers, I have invited a few friends to
my house this evening, and you must be with us."

"Will Miss Portington be there?"

"She has been invited, with her mother."

"I will go," replied he, still carrying out his principle that it is
always best to "face the music."

He did go. The few friends were about fifty--to celebrate the birthday
of the commandant's lady. There were music, and dancing, and revelry;
and Kate Portington was there, with her mother. He saw the fair girl;
saw her smile as pleasantly and unconcernedly as though nothing had
happened. He met her face to face; she bowed coldly, and passed on. Mrs.
Portington was not quite so "chilly," but not at all as she had been in
former times.

"Mr. Somers, we shall always remember you with gratitude, for the
service you so kindly rendered us," said she.

"It is hardly worth remembering, madam, much less mentioning," replied
Somers.

"It shall always be gratefully remembered, and cordially mentioned. You
cannot yourself regret more than I do, that anything should have
occurred to disturb the pleasant relations which formerly existed."

"I regret it very much, madam; but as I think I have done my duty to my
country and to my friends, I must regret it without reproaching myself
for my conduct in that which has proved so offensive."

"Was it your duty to sign that vile paper?" asked the lady, in excited
tones.

"I think it was."

"I must take a different view of the matter; but, Mr. Somers, I shall
still be interested in your success."

"Thank you, madam."

And the lady passed on. Somers looked at Kate. She was dancing with a
young officer who had greatly distinguished himself in the waters of
North Carolina. She looked happy. Was she so? She certainly had a
wonderful command of herself if she was not. Somers retired at an early
hour.

Did Kate think he was an adventurer? His superior officer had directed
him to sign the bond, as a "war measure." He had done so with regret and
disgust. The paper meant nothing to him. Why should it mean anything to
her and her mother?

The next day, Somers returned to Pinchbrook, where he found certain
official documents in the post office, directed to him. He was appointed
to the command of the Firefly, which was the new name given by the
department to the Ben Lomond. The steamer had been duly condemned, and
purchased by the government, her great speed admirably adapting her as a
cruiser for rebel pirates. Somers was generously rewarded for his zeal
and success in the capture of the twin steamers, which had been intended
to prey on the commerce of the country.

Acting Ensign Longstone was appointed second lieutenant of the Firefly.
The third and fourth lieutenants, and the sailing master, were acting
ensigns, like Tom Longstone.

All was excitement now at the cottage in Pinchbrook, in anticipation of
Somers's departure. A lieutenant commanding was a higher position than
he had ever hoped to obtain; but even while he rejoiced over his bright
future, he could not help being "blue" over his affair at Newport. He
tried to forget the fair lady, but he found that was not an easy matter.
He devoted himself to the fitting up of the Firefly, spending part of
his time at Pinchbrook, till his orders came from Washington. A kind
word from Kate would have made him the happiest man in the world. As
that did not come, he went to sea without it.



CHAPTER XXVIII.

THE BEN LEDI.


The Firefly had been strengthened and otherwise improved for the purpose
to which she was to be applied. Her armament had been changed, to adapt
it to the standard of the United States navy. She now carried a hundred
pounder rifle amidships, a rifled thirty on her forecastle, four
twenty-four pounders on the broadsides, and two howitzers on the quarter
deck. The cabin, ward-room, and steerage remained as before.

It was a pleasant November day--in the full reign of the Indian
summer--when she went down the harbor. Somers stood on the quarter deck,
as dignified as the commander of a man-of-war should be, but he could
hardly repress the feeling of pride and exultation with which he
regarded his position. He was hardly twenty-one, though he was mature
enough in appearance and in judgment for twenty-five. He had realized
the warmest hope he had permitted himself to cherish. He was in command
of a beautiful vessel, with a hundred officers and men under his
charge. He was the supreme authority; every man on board touched his cap
to him.

Below was a cabin, appropriated wholly to his use, where he could live
as luxuriously as a lord. He had no watch to keep, no work to perform.
As he contemplated his position, he was absolutely amazed. He had hoped,
but not expected, to reach this pinnacle of his ambition. But there was
another side to the question. A fearful responsibility was imposed upon
him. The lives of his hundred men depended upon him. This valuable
steamer, with her armament and stores, was intrusted to him, and he must
account for all loss or waste on board of her. More than this, the honor
of the flag under which he sailed had been committed to him. If he lost
his ship by bad management, it would be his ruin. If he permitted the
ensign which floated at his peak to be disgraced, it would be infamy to
him.

In the public service he might have occasion to run into foreign ports,
or to visit neutral waters. His want of knowledge, or his want of
judgment, might entangle his country in perplexing broils with other
nations, or even involve her in another war. As he thought of his
delicate and difficult duties, he felt like shrinking from them, and
avoiding the immense responsibility. Being "captain," in this view, was
quite a different thing from what he had anticipated.

With a smile he recalled his own reflections, when, as an ordinary
seaman, he had observed the captain of his ship walk the deck. Then he
had thought the commander had the easiest and jolliest time of all the
men on board, with his fine cabin all to himself, and no watch to keep,
and apparently no work to do. From his present stand-point, the captain
occupied the most difficult and trying place in the ship, and he almost
wished he had declined the command offered to him.

Outside the bay, the sealed orders were opened. As he had anticipated,
he was ordered to cruise in search of rebel steamers, whose depredations
on the coast had severely tried the patience of the nation. He was
directed to proceed first to the eastward, and then to use his own
judgment. There were several rebel privateers, or naval vessels
belonging to the Confederacy. The Tallahassee, the Chickamauga, and the
Olustee had been the most mischievous; and it was believed that there
were others at Wilmington, and the _neutral_ ports of New Brunswick,
Nova Scotia, and the West Indies.

Having learned where he was to go, and what he was to do, he went on
deck and gave his orders to Mr. Gamage, the first lieutenant. The
Firefly was headed to the north-east, and all sail set to help her
along. Before Somers went below, she logged fifteen knots, which was
splendid for a ship with her bunkers full of coal.

In the evening the young commander invited Tom Longstone to visit his
cabin. The veteran was in his happiest frame of mind. All the
aspirations of his earlier years seemed to have been rekindled in his
soul; he had abandoned the use of slang, and conducted himself so much
like a gentleman, outwardly, that no one could have suspected he had
spent thirty odd years of his life before the mast; but as he had always
been a gentleman at heart, it was comparatively easy for him to assume
the externals of his new profession.

The old man had donned a new uniform; and though his hair and beard were
iron gray, he looked as "spruce" as a dry goods clerk. No change of
dress, however, could make him any other than an "old salt." He walked
with a rolling gait, and had all the airs of a veteran seaman. It is
true that in the transposition from the forecastle to the ward-room he
had discarded "pigtail," and confined himself to "fine cut," taken from
a silver box; but he still used as much of the "weed" as an old
sheet-anchor man.

"You sent for me, Captain Somers," said the second lieutenant, as he
touched his fore-top, from the force of habit.

"Sit down, Mr. Longstone," said the captain. "It is one of the blessings
of my present position that I have a place to sit down and talk with old
friends. I suppose you know we are bound to the eastward in search of
rebel privateers."

"So Mr. Gamage told me, sir. I hope we shall catch some of them."

"So do I; but I'm afraid we are on a wild-goose chase."

"Perhaps not--at least, I hope not. If there is a rebel ship in these
waters, we'll have her, if we have to dive after her."

"The ocean is very broad. None of our ships have had much luck in
catching these rebel pirates. I would rather have gone down on the
blockade, where there is some show for us."

"Don't give it up, Captain Somers."

"I don't give it up; but I do not see any reason why I should be more
fortunate than others. A score of our ships have cruised for months
without catching a single one of them."

"They didn't look where they were," laughed Tom.

"If I knew where they were, I would look there."

"You will certainly catch one of the pirates, Captain Somers."

"Why do you say so?"

"Because you are smart, and you are lucky. I know you will make a
capture on this cruise. I feel it in my bones."

"I hope I shall. Wouldn't it be glorious, if I could send such a
despatch as Captain Winslow did, after he had sunk the Alabama?"

Somers's eyes glistened as he thought of it, but it was only an
air-castle; and after he had contemplated it for a moment, his common
sense obliged him to come down from the clouds.

The cruise of the Firefly would supply matter enough for a whole volume,
but we have only space for a mere outline of the voyage. The steamer lay
off and on for a week without meeting with anything that looked like a
rebel privateer, when her commander decided to run into Halifax, where
he hoped to obtain some information. The city was a nest of "secesh
sympathizers," and the captain of the Firefly was not received with much
enthusiasm outside of the American consulate. He had not been in the
habit of hearing his country and her rulers vilified, and as he sat in
the parlor of the hotel, and listened to hostile remarks, evidently
intended for his ear, nothing but prudence prevented him from indulging
in the luxury of pulling the noses of the speakers. He preserved his
dignity in spite of his inclination.

"Upon my word, this is a very unexpected pleasure," said a familiar
voice.

He looked up from the newspaper he was reading. Before him stood Mr.
Pillgrim!

"Quite as unexpected to me as to you, Mr. Pillgrim!" replied Somers,
with abundant self-possession.

"I dare say, Mr. Somers," laughed Pillgrim. "Of course you did not
expect to see me. Will you take a glass of wine with me, Mr. Somers?"

"No, I thank you; I never indulge--as you are aware."

"I didn't know but your rapid advancement had changed your tastes."

"No, sir."

"You command the Ben Lomond now, Mr. Somers, I learn from the papers."

"The Firefly is her present name."

"Bah! What an ugly name for a fine steamer like her. The Tallapoosa is
much better. Be that as it may, I congratulate you on your promotion and
your appointment; and you know how sincere I am!

"I do know; and, therefore, cannot even thank you for your good wishes."

"Don't be savage, Mr. Somers. You can afford to be very good-natured."

"I am."

"You don't seem to be very glad to see me."

"On the contrary, I am. I hope, with your usual candor, that you will
tell me what you are going to do next, and give me an opportunity to cut
out your vessel. I am up here for that purpose."

Pillgrim bit his lip.

"At present, Mr. Somers, I must be silent; but we shall yet meet and
settle up old accounts. Let us not be ill-natured. If we meet as
enemies, we will fight it out."

"We can never meet in any other way."

"That isn't friendly. How is Miss Portington?"

"She was well, last time I saw her;" and Somers blushed, and looked
disconcerted--as he really was.

"I am glad to hear it, Mr. Somers," said Pillgrim, significantly.

Somers changed the topic at once, and finally contrived to ask the
traitor how he happened to be in Halifax, instead of Fortress Monroe.
Pillgrim laughed exultingly, and declared there were no irons, bolts, or
bars that could keep him a prisoner; and the facts seemed to justify the
assertion.

"Mr. Somers, not more than one half of the people of the North are in
favor of this cruel war. I have friends in Washington and other cities
whom no one suspects of favoring the South. I am indebted to them for my
liberation. I shall yet carry out my original purpose. I have lost three
vessels. I was paid for two by the Confederacy; and I have your bond for
half the value of the third. I am a commander in the Confederate navy.
In one week I shall be at sea. I shall sink, burn, and destroy! You
can't help yourself."

"Is your ship here?"

"Yes--no."

Pillgrim laughed, turned on his heel, and walked away. Somers was
excited. He wanted to know more. He went to the American consul. A
"blue-nose" sailor of the Firefly was sent on shore, who found Pillgrim,
and without much difficulty shipped in the "Sunny South" for a voyage on
the coast. This was all the information that could be obtained. There
was no such craft as the Sunny South in port. Somers examined all the
vessels in the harbor, and found a steamer called the Ben Ledi--another
Scottish mountain. She was Clyde-built, and similar to the Ben Nevis and
the Ben Lomond. The name alone satisfied the inquirer that she belonged
to the same family as the two vessels he had already captured.

Things began to look a little more hopeful, and the young commander
carefully read his books on international law. He attempted to place the
Firefly where he could watch the suspected steamer; but the authorities,
on various pretences, prevented him from doing so. The next morning the
Ben Ledi was gone. Somers was exceedingly mortified, for he might as
well look for a needle in a haymow as try to find the vessel on the
ocean. He put to sea at once. A "blue-nose" official laughed at him as
his gig pulled off to the ship, and everybody on shore was in high glee
because the Confederate had eluded the Yankee.

Somers kept cool in spite of his chagrin; and believing the Ben Ledi
would run for Wilmington, where she would probably be fitted out as a
cruiser, he headed the Firefly in that direction, and gave chase.



CHAPTER XXIX.

A LONG CHASE.


Somers was somewhat bewildered by the events which had transpired during
his brief stay at Halifax. It was almost incredible that Pillgrim had
again escaped; but the traitor had powerful friends--men who appeared to
be loyal while they were in full sympathy with the leaders of the
rebellion. The three "Bens," the last of which was now fleeing before
him, were certainly an interesting family. Pillgrim, while abroad, and
operating for the Southern Confederacy, had apparently purchased a whole
line of Clyde-built steamers. Two of them were now in good hands, and
doing good service to the loyal cause; but Somers feared that the third
would escape him.

Pillgrim had learned prudence from the experience of the past. Somers
hoped he would indulge in his customary reckless boasting; that his
thirst for revenge would again lead him to betray himself; but he had
not dropped even a hint that could be of any service. The decoy seaman
had only learned that he was to sail in the "Sunny South." The sudden
departure of the Ben Ledi was the only important fact in possession of
the commander of the Firefly.

When the ship was well out of the bay, and her course laid down, Somers
went into his cabin to consult his charts, and consider a plan for
future operations. Unfortunately there was no information on which to
base a theory in regard to the pirate's course. He could only guess at
her destination. The Firefly was run at her best speed during the rest
of the day, but her course for a large portion of the time was through a
dense Nova Scotia fog, and nothing was seen or heard.

On the following day, the sun shone through a clear air, and at noon
there was seen, dead ahead, some evidences of black smoke in the
horizon. This was a hopeful sign, for there was a steamer burning
English coal in the direction indicated. It might be the Ben Ledi, and
it might not; but the appearance created a tremendous excitement on
board the Firefly.

"Captain Somers, you will have her," said Tom Longstone, placing himself
by the side of the young commander. "It is your luck."

"That may not be the steamer we are after. We haven't seen her yet."

"That's the Ben Ledi; you may depend upon it. I wouldn't give five cents
to any man to guarantee my share of prize money in her."

"Don't be too confident, Mr. Longstone."

"She is ours, Captain Somers."

"I wish I could believe it."

"You must believe it, and work for it."

"I shall certainly work for it."

And he did work for it. Everything that would add a fraction of a knot
to the speed of the Firefly was done. The black smoke was visible all
the rest of the day, but not a sight of the steamer from which it
proceeded could be obtained. Darkness settled down upon the ocean, and
nothing could be seen during the night. The next day was cloudy, and
there was not a sign of encouragement to those on board of the pursuing
vessel. Then came a gale of twenty hours' duration; but the Firefly held
her course, and proved herself to be a perfect sea boat.

The fourth day out from Halifax was fine, and shortly after sunrise the
cloud of black smoke was again discovered, and a thrill of delight
coursed through the veins of Somers as he discovered it. The steamer was
on the port bow now, but it was evident that both steamers were bound to
the same point, though their courses had slightly varied during the
gale.

"I told you so, Captain Somers!" exclaimed Lieutenant Longstone, as he
rubbed his hands briskly in view of the bright prospect.

"We haven't caught her yet, Mr. Longstone."

"But you will catch her, just as sure as the sun shines."

"Mr. Pillgrim will not allow himself to be taken."

"He cannot help himself."

"Perhaps he can. That steamer sails as well as the Firefly, and we are
not a hundred and fifty miles from Cape Fear."

"No matter; we have got ten hours' working time, and we shall use her
up. Shall we put the helm to starboard, Captain Somers?"

"No; keep her as she is," replied the commander. "If she is going into
Wilmington we shall be making something on this tack. We have the
weather-gage of her."

It was soon clearly demonstrated that the chase had "slowed down," so as
not to approach the coast before night should favor her operations,
though her great speed gave her every advantage over an ordinary
pursuer. The Firefly had run down so that the Ben Ledi was on her port
beam, about eight miles distant. Both steamers had hoisted English
colors, for Somers had no idea of being cheated out of the game by
"showing his hand."

The most intense excitement prevailed on board of the Firefly, for it
was evident that a few hours more would settle the question one way or
the other. Somers was not disposed to wait until night, which would
favor the chase more than himself; and he was afraid, if he headed
towards her, that she would take the alarm and beat him on time. He kept
quiet for a couple of hours, just as though he were waiting for the
darkness to cover him in running the blockade.

His plan seemed to be a success, for after a while the Ben Ledi began to
bear down upon him. It was an anxious hour for Somers. He ordered the
first lieutenant to beat to quarters, and the chief engineer to have on
a full head of steam. The guns were loaded with solid shot, and every
preparation made for an exciting time. Pillgrim did not seem to suspect
thus far that the steamer under English colors was the one he had left
in Halifax harbor. It was certain that he did not yet recognize her.

The Firefly reciprocated the attention of the Ben Ledi, and moved slowly
towards her, for Somers was careful not to excite suspicion by being
precipitate. The two steamers approached within three miles, and the
respective captains were busy in examining each other's ship through
their glasses. The chase now hoisted her number. As Somers had the
Lloyd's signal book, he read it without difficulty. It was the Ben Ledi.
To the question, "What ship is that?" he had no answer to give, for it
was not prudent to hoist the old number of the Ben Lomond.

Our younger readers may not understand how a conversation is carried on
between ships at sea, several miles distant from each other. There are
ten small signal flags representing the nine digits and the zero. Any
number can of course be formed of these figures. Every ship is provided
with a number, which if it consists of two figures is represented by two
flags, hoisted together; three figures, three flags; and so on.

The signal book also contains a great number of questions and answers,
such as, "What ship is that?" "Where bound?" "All well." "Short of
water," &c. Each sentence has its invariable number, which may be
indicated by the signal flags. If one vessel shows the number 124, the
captain of the ship signalized would find this number in his signal
book; and against it would be printed the question or answer.

Somers was not disposed to reply to the question of Pillgrim; and as he
did not do so, the traitor immediately took the alarm. The Ben Ledi went
about, and made off to the eastward under full steam. The Firefly was
all ready to follow, and then commenced a most exciting chase. It was
useless to waste shot at that distance, and Somers confined his
attention to the speed of his vessel. For three hours the pursuit was
continued, without any perceptible decrease of the distance between the
two steamers.

But it was soon discovered that Pillgrim was gradually wearing round.
Somers perceived his intention, but it was not prudent to attempt to
cut him off all at once, by taking the arc of a smaller circle; but he
worked his ship slowly round; and when both vessels were headed to the
west, he had gained a mile. Pillgrim had evidently made up his mind to
go into Wilmington at any risk, though under ordinary circumstances the
more prudent course would have been for him to continue at sea, where a
dark night or a fog might have enabled him to elude his pursuer. Somers
concluded, therefore, that the Ben Ledi was short of coal, for his own
supply was nearly exhausted.

The furnaces of the Firefly were now worked to their utmost capacity,
and every expedient to make steam was resorted to by the excited
engineers and firemen. There was a stiff breeze from the south-west, and
both vessels had crowded on every stitch of canvas that could be spread.
It had already been demonstrated that there was no appreciable
difference in the speed of the two steamers, and the result of the chase
was to depend entirely upon the management of each.

When the two vessels had come about so as to make a fair wind, the
Firefly had been the first to spread her canvas, and the superior
discipline of her crew was thus made apparent. A slight advantage had
thus been gained, and it was certain that "the balance of power" lay in
the sails. At meridian an observation was obtained, and the position of
the ship was accurately laid down on the chart. The latitude was 33°
59' 7"; the longitude 76° 29' 23". To make the Swash Channel, which was
covered by the guns of Fort Fisher, the Ben Ledi would have laid a
course about half a point south of west; but her present course was
west-south-west. Somers, after examining his chart, had some doubts
whether she was going into Wilmington.

Tom Longstone had the deck during the afternoon watch. He was a veteran
seaman, and his experience had made him more familiar with canvas than
with steam. With the most anxious solicitude he watched the sails during
the afternoon, and under his skilful directions they were kept perfectly
trimmed. On that momentous occasion everything was reduced down to the
finest point, as well in the handling of the engine as the tacks,
sheets, and halliards.

The case was hopeful, though the gain could not be perceived in one, or
two, hours; but at eight bells hardly a mile lay between the contending
steamers. The first lieutenant wanted to open on the chase with the
rifled gun on the top-gallant forecastle; but Somers refused permission,
for while he was gaining on the Ben Ledi only in inches, he could not
afford to lose feet by the recoil of the gun, until there was a better
chance of hitting the mark. At two bells in the first dog watch, just as
the sun was setting, the Ben Ledi doubled Frying Pan Shoals, passing
close to the breakers. Then, as her people discovered a couple of
vessels belonging to the blockading squadron, she sheered off, and went
to the westward.

These changes, with the doubt and uncertainty which prevailed on board
of the Ben Ledi, had been very favorable to the Firefly, now within half
a mile of her. Two vessels from the blockading fleet had started to
engage in the exciting work, but they were too late to help or hinder
the pursuit. Somers gave the order to fire upon the Ben Ledi, which was
now endeavoring to work round to the Beach Channel.

Though the darkness had settled down upon the chase, the Firefly
continued the pursuit with unabated vigor. Her pilot was familiar with
the channels, bars, and shoals. Shot after shot was fired at the Ben
Ledi, and it was soon evident that one of them had in some way damaged
her wheels, for she was rapidly losing ground. But now a battery on Oak
Island suddenly opened on the Firefly.

"We must end this thing," said Somers, as a shot from the fort whizzed
over his head.

"Yes, sir," replied the first lieutenant. "We can hardly pass that
battery."

"Try the hundred pounder."

When the pivot gun was ready, the Firefly swung round, and the heavy
piece roared out its salutation to the blockade runner. It was aimed by
Tom Longstone, and the bolt struck the Ben Ledi square in the stern,
breaking in her counter, and leaving her helpless on the water. The
Firefly stopped her wheels. A shot from the fort crushed through her
smoke-stack.

The chase, completely disabled, drifted on the beach and grounded, under
the guns of the battery. The Firefly now poured shell into her from
every gun that could be brought to bear. In a few moments a sheet of
flame rose from her, and lighted up the channel for miles around,
clearly revealing to the gunners in the fort the exact position of
Somers's vessel.

The work had been accomplished, the Ben Ledi had been destroyed, and the
Firefly hastened to escape from her dangerous locality. In coming about
she poured a parting broadside into the burning steamer. As she swung
round, a hail from the water was heard, and a boat containing several
men was discovered. It had been carried by the tide away from the beach.
The occupants were taken on board, though one of them was wounded and
utterly helpless. They had no oars, and were in danger of being carried
out to sea.

"Here's the cap'n; he was hit by a piece of a shell," said one of the
men.

"Who is he?" asked Somers.

"Cap'n Pillgrim."

The sufferer was taken down into the ward-room, and the surgeon began to
examine him as the Firefly steamed down the channel under a shower of
shot and shell from the battery.

"How is he?" asked the young commander, when the ship had passed out of
the reach of the guns of the fort.

"He is dead!" replied the surgeon.

"Dead! Good Heaven!" exclaimed Somers, impressed by the terrible
retribution which had at last overtaken the traitor.

"Yes, sir; he died a few moments since. A fragment of a shell tore open
his breast and penetrated his lungs," added the surgeon.

"That's the last of him," said Lieutenant Longstone. "He will lay no
more plots."

"He has been a dangerous enemy to his country," continued Somers. "If he
had succeeded in running in with that vessel, he would have obtained her
armament, and made terrible havoc among the merchant ships on the coast.
He was a daring fellow; he was reckless at times. He told me on board of
the Chatauqua that he had purchased three steamers in Scotland; this is
the last one."

"Three Bens," added Tom. "Captain Somers, you have had a hand in
capturing and destroying them all."

"I have; and it is really marvellous, when I think of it."

"I knew you would capture the Ben Ledi," continued the second
lieutenant, exultingly.

"I did not capture her."

"It is the same thing."

"You will not find it so when your prize money is distributed."

"A fig for the prize money," replied Tom, contemptuously. "We destroyed
her; and it's all the same thing. I would rather have had that villain
hanged than killed by an honest shell; but there is no help for it now."

"Peace, Mr. Longstone; he is dead now. We have nothing more to do with
him."

The body of Mr. Pillgrim was laid out in a proper place, and as the coal
bunkers of the Firefly were nearly empty, she was headed for Port Royal,
where she arrived on the afternoon of the following day. On the passage,
the men from the Ben Ledi, who had been picked up in the boat, were
examined in regard to their knowledge of her ultimate use. One of the
party was an intelligent English seaman, who acknowledged that he had
shipped, for the Confederate navy, in the Sunny South, which was to be
the new name of the Ben Ledi. She had waited a month at Halifax for
orders. Langdon was not on board of her, and the seaman had no knowledge
of any such person.

The Firefly had not been seen on board the Sunny South until both
steamers were off Wilmington. After passing Frying Pan Shoals, a shot
from the Firefly had partially crippled her port wheel, which accident
had caused her to lose ground rapidly. The projectile from the hundred
pounder had completely shattered her stern, and disabled her rudder, and
knocked the engine "all in a heap." The port quarter boat was torn to
pieces by a shell, the same which had given Pillgrim his mortal wound.
The after tackle of the other quarter boat had been shot away, and when
it was dropped into the water the oars were gone. Most of the crew had
saved themselves by swimming ashore. The Ben Ledi had a valuable cargo,
which the informer declared was totally destroyed by fire or water.

On her arrival at Port Royal, the Firefly coaled without delay; the body
of Pillgrim was buried, and after forwarding his despatches to the navy
department by a supply steamer, Somers sailed again on another cruise
after privateers, Confederate cruisers, and blockade runners. The
Tallahassee and the Chickamauga were supposed to be at Wilmington, but
the Olustee was believed to be still afloat. Of this cruise our limits
do not permit us to record details; but the Firefly captured a valuable
steamer in December, and sent her into port. This was the only prize she
obtained; and being short of coal, she ran into Boston, on New Year's
day, where her prize had arrived before her.

Somers immediately forwarded his despatches, and awaited the orders of
the department. Of course he hastened down to Pinchbrook as soon as he
could leave the ship, where he was heartily welcomed and warmly
congratulated upon his successful cruise.

"Here's something for you, John," said Mrs. Somers, taking a daintily
made up letter from the mantel-piece, when the welcome had been given,
kisses bestowed, and hands shaken. "It has been here a fortnight."

Somers knew the handwriting, for it had often gladdened his heart
before, and a flush came to his cheeks as he tore open the envelope. It
was from Kate Portington, whom the young commander had not failed to
think of every day during his absence, though it was with pain and
sorrow at the rupture which had separated them. The letter healed his
only wound.

"I shall never forgive myself," she wrote, "for my harsh treatment of
you; and I am afraid you can never forgive me. I have seen Mr.
Hackleford, who says that he _ordered_ you to sign that horrible paper.
Why didn't you tell me so, John?" He would have told her so, if she had
given him an opportunity. But she was repentant, and Somers was
rejoiced.

The letter was four pages in length, and among all the pleasant things
it contained, the pleasantest was that she was spending a month in
Boston, at the residence of a friend, where she hoped to see him.

She did see him there, on the very day he received the letter. What
passed between them we are not at liberty to say in a book of this kind,
except to inform the reader that Kate was herself again; that in the
joy of meeting him after this painful rupture, she actually forgot to be
proper, and in spite of her promise, and her mother's lecture, she
called him "prodigy." The past, the present, and the future, were
discussed, and Somers went on board the Firefly the happiest of
mortals.



CHAPTER XXX.

THE END OF THE REBELLION.


The Firefly, with her energetic young commander, was too serviceable to
be permitted long to remain in idleness, and she was ordered to join
Admiral Porter's squadron, which had failed to capture Fort Fisher in
December; or rather, the military portion of the expedition had failed
to do it, for the navy had done its part of the work to the satisfaction
of the nation.

Somers sailed again, and in due time reported to the admiral, who was
then waiting for the army, in order to make the second attack. A
tremendous gale delayed the expedition; but on the 13th of January, the
bombardment of Fort Fisher was commenced, and the military force was
landed on Federal Point. A detachment of sailors from the Firefly, under
the command of Lieutenant Longstone, was sent on shore to join the naval
brigade, and the steamer was variously employed during the action,
rendering valuable aid with her hundred pounder, as well as performing
various duties, for which her great speed and light draught peculiarly
fitted her. The zeal and energy of Somers were warmly commended, though
he had no opportunity to render any signal service in the attack.

Fort Fisher fell this time; every man and every ship was faithful; and
though some were distinguished by gallant exploits, the victory was the
result of the steadiness of the whole line, rather than of the brilliant
deeds of the few. The last maritime stronghold of the rebellion was
reduced, and the sinking Confederacy was shut in from all material
support from abroad. Its days were numbered, and many of its most rabid
supporters were now crying out for peace.

The flag of the Union floated over Fort Fisher, and the great fleet
before its shattered ramparts celebrated the victory with clouds of gay
flags, with flights of rockets, and with salvos of artillery. It was a
glorious day for that expedition. Admiral Porter and General Terry won a
glorious fame and an unfading name upon the annals of their country.

Gallant old Tom Longstone was wounded in the arm in an attempt to rally
the sailors when they broke under the most terrible fire that mortal men
ever breasted. Lieutenant Longstone did all that any officer could do,
but the whole garrison seemed to be gathered at the point where the
naval assault was made. The sailors were repulsed and driven back. They
had never been disciplined to this kind of work; yet they fought like
tigers, hand to hand oftentimes, with the foe; and though they were
forced back, even while the American flag was floating over the other
side of the works, it was no disgrace to them. Tom stood by to the last,
though he was severely wounded, and finally had the satisfaction of
beholding a complete triumph. The soldiers did wonders on that day--the
sailors hardly less.

With other vessels of light draught the Firefly went up the river,
fishing up torpedoes, transporting soldiers, and hammering down rebel
batteries, and continued upon this duty until General Terry marched into
the deserted city of Wilmington, and raised the national flag where the
emblem of treason had insulted the free air for four long years.

The Firefly was ordered to the James River, in the vicinity of which the
last groan of the expiring monster of Rebellion was soon to be heard;
and on the 20th of March she was on her winding way up the stream. In
the mean time Charleston had fallen; negro troops patrolled her streets,
and the people of this foul nest of secession were suffering the agonies
of actual subjugation. Sherman, with his grand army, was "marching on"
in his resistless course, with hardly a foe to impede his exultant
march. Columbia, the proud capital of arrogant South Carolina, yielded,
and the people repented their folly in the ashes of the burning city.
Johnston was retreating before his invincible conqueror, and the whole
military power of the rebellion east of Mississippi was concentrated
within an area of not more than a hundred and fifty miles.

The movements of General Grant before Petersburg commenced; and his
great army, now animated by the sure prestige of victory, was hurled
against the rebel lines. The shock was tremendous; the whole world
seemed to be shaken by it, for it was the onslaught of freedom, striking
its last terrible blow at the legions of slavery.

The fleet on the James was busily employed in fishing up torpedoes, in
guarding the pontoons across the river, and in "neutralizing" the
enemy's iron-clads which lay above the obstructions. The Firefly found
abundant occupation, though there was no opportunity for brilliant and
startling achievements; but she bore her full share in the hard work and
disagreeable drudgery of the occasion.

Tom Longstone had entirely recovered from his wound; and being a
practical man himself, he was the life of every working party sent out
from the ship. The old man was an immense favorite with the sailors;
for, unlike many who have risen from a low position to a high, he was
kind and considerate, while he exacted the full measure of duty from
all. He was no tyrant, and had a heart for every man, whatever his
degree.

"Well, Mr. Longstone, we have got almost to the end of the rebellion,"
said Captain Somers, on one of those last days of March, when the roar
from beyond Petersburg was heavier than usual.

"No doubt of that, captain," replied Tom. "I shall be a boatswain again
before long."

"Do you dread the time?"

"No, sir; far be it from me. I wouldn't prolong the war a single day, if
that day would make me an admiral."

"Only one day, Tom?" said Somers, with a smile.

"Not one, sir!" repeated the veteran, with emphasis. "For on that day a
husband or a father, a brother or a son, might be killed, and I should
be a murderer before God."

"What do you think of those, then, that began this war?"

"They are murderers! The blood of every man who has been killed in this
war on both sides rests on their heads. I'd rather be Cain than Jeff
Davis, or any other man of his crew."

"I think you are right, Tom."

"As for me, it don't make much difference whether I'm a boatswain or an
admiral. This old hulk won't stand many more storms; and I wouldn't do a
mean thing for the sake of living twenty years. Well, well," sighed the
veteran, as he glanced in the direction from which the roar of the
artillery came, "many a good fellow will lose the number of his mess
to-day."

"Hundreds of them."

And so the reports of the succeeding days assured them. The rebels had
stormed and temporarily possessed themselves of Fort Steadman. The
terrible conflict was opened in earnest; and from that time, swarms of
prisoners were sent forward to the river, which were guarded by
detachments of sailors and marines from the fleet.

For three days the storm of war continued to howl in the distance, and
on the peaceful Sabbath more fiercely than before. Vague rumors were
flying through the fleet, and everybody felt that the end was at hand.
Somers retired as usual that night; but in the first watch, Tom
Longstone came down to him with report of great lights and heavy
explosions in the direction of Richmond.

The rebels were evacuating the city, blowing up their iron-clads, and
firing the town. Richmond, which had defied the armies of the Union for
four years, had fallen. The heroic and persevering Grant had struck a
blow miles away, which tumbled down the last stronghold of treason. Jeff
Davis and his cabinet were fugitives now, fleeing from men, while the
wrath of God pursued where men could not reach them.

The morning came, and with it the glad tidings of victory, which
foreshadowed peace. The Firefly was ordered to move up the river, and
she went up into waters where a loyal steamer had not floated for four
years. The negro troops were even then marching through the streets of
Richmond. The note of rejoicing, begun in the early morning, was
continued through the day. The brightest flags and the heaviest guns
proclaimed the joyful event.

The Firefly went up to Varina, and then returned. This river was clear;
there was no sign of an enemy upon its waters. At City Point the sounds
of rejoicing thrilled upon the ear of soldier and sailor. Cheer upon
cheer rent the air, gun upon gun roared the pæan of triumph, and every
heart beat in unison with the glad acclaim.

"Glory, hallelujah!" shouted Somers, on the quarter deck of the Firefly,
as she passed through the fleet.

"Glory, hallelujah!" returned all who heard him.

Three rousing cheers, such as Jack only can give, came from the
flag-ship, as the Firefly ran under her counter.

"What's that?" asked Somers--for there seemed to be something unusual
going on.

Calling his gig, he went on board the flag-ship to report the result of
his visit up the river. On the quarter deck he discovered a familiar
face, which thrilled his heart with delight. It was "Brave Old Salt."

Somers approached the vice admiral, cap in hand, and was immediately
recognized.

"Mr. Somers, I am delighted to see you!" said the admiral, extending his
hand.

"Thank you, sir," replied the young commander. "This is an unexpected
happiness to me."

"There is only one joy to-day, Mr. Somers," continued the admiral.
"Richmond has fallen, and the rebellion is ended!"

"Glory, hallelujah!" said Somers, waving his cap.

"I came down here to learn what Grant was doing. God bless him! He has
done everything," added the admiral.

Rear Admiral Porter now ordered the Firefly to be placed at the disposal
of the Old Salamander, and Somers was happy in the duty assigned to him.
A twelve-oar barge received the vice admiral, and conveyed him to the
steamer in which his voyage was to be continued. When he was on board,
the barge was towed astern for his use farther up the river.

The Firefly steamed up the river with her illustrious passenger, and at
the invitation of the admiral, Somers accompanied him to Richmond.

A day later came President Lincoln in a barge, attended by Admiral
Porter, and Somers had the honor of being formally presented to the
chief magistrate of the nation, who had a pleasant word for him, as he
had for all who approached him. Somers assisted in the ovation to the
president, and listened with wonder and delight to the shouts of the
negroes, as they greeted the author of the Emancipation Proclamation as
the saviour and redeemer of their race.

Ten days later, that simple, great man fell by the hand of the assassin,
though not till the news of the surrender of Lee's army had gladdened
his heart, and assured him that the great work of his lifetime was
finished.

Somers was shocked, stunned by the fearful news, the more so that he had
so recently pressed the hand of the illustrious martyr; and though the
nation was full of mourners, there were none more sincere in their grief
than the young commander of the Firefly. He wept as he would have wept
for his own father; and shutting himself up in his cabin, in solemn
fast, he read his Bible and prayed for the land he loved. How many true
souls did the same, when they heard of the awful tragedy!

The war was ended. A few days later came the news of Johnston's
surrender. One by one, the gunboats were ordered north, and in June the
Firefly dropped her anchor off the navy yard at Charlestown. A few hours
later Somers was in the arms of the loved ones at home, weeping tears of
joy that the sound of strife was no more heard in the land.

The Firefly was no longer needed in the navy, and with a hundred others
she was sold. As soon as she went out of commission, Tom Longstone,
having been "honorably discharged with the thanks of the department" as
an ensign, returned to his former rank of boatswain. When he obtained a
furlough, he paid a visit to Pinchbrook, where he was kindly received by
all the friends of his _protégé_. The old man had money enough to buy
him a farm and retire from the navy; but he obstinately refused to do so
while Somers retained his commission. He confidently expected to be
appointed boatswain of the ship to which Lieutenant Somers might be
ordered.

During his absence Somers had received occasional letters from Kate
Portington; and we will not undertake to say how many reams of fine note
paper he spoiled in saying what can be of interest to none but the
parties concerned. Of course there was any quantity of liquid moonshine
spread out on these dainty sheets, and the young man was all the happier
for writing it, as she was for reading it, for Kate and Somers had come
to an excellent understanding with each other on these matters.

At the earliest day the public service would admit, he hastened to
Newport; but on his arrival he found the commodore's house filled with
grief and lamentation. The husband and the father--the kindest of
husbands and the tenderest of fathers--had been suddenly stricken down
in New Orleans, where his ship was stationed. The sad tidings had come
but a few hours before; and a few hours later it had flashed all over
the land that one of the nation's truest defenders had fallen at the
post of duty.

In her grief Kate clung to Somers, who became the tenderest of
comforters. Then she learned, when earth was dark to her, what a wealth
of holy hope and pious faith there was in the soul of him she had chosen
from the whole world to lean upon in joy and in sorrow, in prosperity
and adversity, till life's fitful dream was over. Fondly she looked up
to him in her heavy affliction, and through him to the heaven of which
he spoke. He wept with her for him who was gone, and if she had loved
him before, she reverenced him now.

Two weeks after the news came a steamer bearing the remains of the
deceased commodore. Then the tears broke out afresh, and Somers
continued to perform the holy office he had chosen. With the bereaved
child--the only one--he stood at the tomb, and helped her to see the
glory that streamed forth beyond its dark portals. Every day, for weeks
after, he visited her, never now to speak of his own selfish heart
yearnings, but to utter words of peace and hope. When he announced his
intention to return home, she could not restrain her tears, so needful
had he become to her in the depth of her sorrow.

In the autumn her mother and herself came to Boston to spend the winter.
Kate was cheerful now, but the affliction through which she had passed
had given a shade of pensive sadness to her beautiful face, which time
alone could wear away. They attended the wedding of Major Somers,
John's brother, and rejoiced with him as he put the cup of bliss to his
lips. Lilian and Kate became fast friends; they were nearer alike now
than before the death of Commodore Portington.

The winter passed away, and early in March Lieutenant Somers was
appointed to a ship bound to the Pacific Ocean. He must be absent two or
three years. He hastened to Kate with the intelligence; and sad as it
was to himself, he knew it would be infinitely more so to her. She
turned pale, and burst into tears. Her mother was hardly less affected.

"You must not go, John! O, no! You will not leave me!"

"I must obey orders."

"You can resign," suggested Mrs. Portington.

"Resign!" exclaimed Somers. "Resign when I am ordered to difficult or
disagreeable duty."

"You need not make so much of it," added the matron, with a smile.
"There are twice as many officers in the navy as are required. It is
certainly no disgrace, in time of peace, to resign. You will only make a
place for another who wants to visit the Pacific."

"You must resign, John," pleaded Kate, with an eloquence which he could
not resist.

"On one condition I will do so," replied he, at last. "If there should
be war, I shall return to my post, if needed."

And thus it was that Somers left the navy. His prize money, which had
been carefully invested from time to time by Captain Barney, now
amounted to more than twenty thousand dollars. He was able to retire,
and he did so.

It is generally understood that they are to be married in the autumn,
when Mr. Somers will receive half a million with his wife, who is worth
a million times that sum herself. As the happy event has not yet
occurred, we have nothing to say about it, but we wish them every joy in
anticipation. Mrs. Portington speaks hopefully of the occasion, and has
already selected a location, in the vicinity of Boston, where the happy
young couple are to reside.

This event has decided Tom Longstone. He has thrown up his warrant, and
bought a farm in Pinchbrook, on which he intends to "lay up" for the
rest of his life. A niece, who lost her husband in the war, is his
housekeeper, and at the time of Somers's last visit, the veteran was at
the high tide of felicity.

       *       *       *       *       *

With many regrets we bid adieu to John Somers, to Thomas his brother,
and all of the family. We leave them prosperous and happy; but they have
purchased earth's joys and heaven's hopes by being faithful to
duty--true to God and themselves.


       *       *       *       *       *


    THE ARMY AND NAVY STORIES.

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    A SEQUEL TO "THE SOLDIER BOY."

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    FIGHTING JOE;
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    Or, Life on the Quarter Deck.
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    ROBINSON CRUSOE, JR.

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     originality, its tenderness and its teasing,--its infinite,
     unconscious drollery, the serious earnestness of its fun, the
     fun of its seriousness, the natural religion of its plays, and
     the delicious oddity of its prayers,--all these waited for dear
     Little Prudy to embody them. Sam Weller is not more piquant;
     Hans Andersen's nutcrackers and knitting-needles are not more
     thoroughly charged with life. Who is our benefactress in the
     authorship of these books the world knows not. Sophie May must
     doubtless be a fancy name, by reason of the spelling, and we
     have only to be grateful that the author did not inflict on us
     the customary alliteration in her pseudonyme. The rare gift of
     delineating childhood is hers, and may the line of 'Little
     Prudy' go out to the end of the earth.... To those
     oversaturated with transatlantic traditions, we recommend a
     course of 'Little Prudy.'"

Copies of any of the above books sent by mail on receipt of price.

    LEE AND SHEPARD,
    PUBLISHERS,
    149 Washington Street, Boston.

MRS. LESLIE'S JUVENILE SERIES,

FOR BOYS.

Put up in a neat box. Price $6.00 a set, or $1.50 a vol. Comprising


THE MOTHERLESS CHILDREN.

A thrilling story of orphanage, illustrating the trials and temptations
of the young, and the happy results of Christian nurture.


HOWARD AND HIS TEACHER;

WITH THE SISTER'S INFLUENCE, AND OTHER STORIES.

An illustration of the different modes of home-government with their
results.


PLAY AND STUDY.

An interesting story of school-days, very suggestive of practical hints
to parents and teachers, and of the manner in which they may aid their
children and pupils in the invention of their own amusements, for their
relief and stimulus in study.


JACK THE CHIMNEY-SWEEPER,

AND OTHER STORIES FOR YOUTH.

This charming book is a most happy illustration of the duties enjoined
in the Commandments, and in other precepts of Scripture, but is entirely
free from all denominational bias.

Each volume handsomely illustrated, bound in good style and distinct
from the others.

       *       *       *       *       *

LEE & SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS, BOSTON.


MRS. LESLIE'S JUVENILE SERIES

FOR GIRLS.

Put up in a neat box. Price $6.00 a set, or $1.50 a vol. Comprising


LITTLE AGNES.

This little book is an entertaining and instructive story of a girl
whose patience, industry, and fidelity raised her to eminence, honor,
and happiness.


TRYING TO BE USEFUL.

A narrative showing the happy results of worthy resolution and endeavor.


I'LL TRY.

An exhibition of the successful reward of perseverance to the
acquisition of fortune and fame.


ART AND ARTLESSNESS.

In this admirable volume the virtues which adorn female loveliness
appear in bold and enviable contrast with the arts of coquetry and
deception.

       *       *       *       *       *

The above elegant series have been recently issued, and are written in
an attractive style, and calculated to interest the young. A sound moral
tone pervades each volume, and in point of interest and instruction they
are unsurpassed by any series published. Each volume contains, on an
average, 260 pages, 16mo, is elegantly illustrated, bound in muslin, and
entirely distinct from the rest.


LEE & SHEPARD, PUBLISHERS, BOSTON.





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