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Title: With Porter in the Essex - A Story of his Famous Cruise in the Southern Waters during - the War of 1812
Author: Otis, James, 1848-1912
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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     +WITH PERRY ON LAKE ERIE.+ A TALE OF 1812. 307 pp. Cloth. $1.50.

     TRIPOLITAN WAR. 349 pp. Cloth. $1.50.

     WATERS DURING THE WAR OF 1812. 344 pp. Cloth. $1.50.

     STATES IN 1779. 359 pp. Cloth. $1.50.



_A Story of his Famous Cruise in Southern
Waters during the War of 1812_



[Illustration: Logo]


_Copyright, 1901_,
_All rights reserved._



CHAPTER                         PAGE
   I. INTRODUCING MYSELF          17

  II. THE COAST OF CHILI          34


  IV. AMONG THE WHALERS           80

   V. THE NEW FLEET              103


 VII. AN ISLAND PORT             149

VIII. NUKUHEVA                   172

  IX. AN OLD ENEMY               195

   X. AMONG THE TYPEES           218

  XI. A NAVAL STATION            241

 XII. AT VALPARAISO              264

XIII. THE BRITISHERS             287

 XIV. THE BATTLE                 311

  XV. ON PAROLE                  334


"It was only necessary that the crew should reach out and
pull us on board"                              _Frontispiece_    28

"He forced the iron rods from their sockets in short order"      77

"Soon we were out of reach of the grape, and then we ran
across the ship's bow"                                          158

"The party came in, waving green palm-leaves"                   244

"Nearer and nearer came the _Phoebe_"                         295


The manuscript of this story was written by Ezra McKnight, a cousin of
that Stephen Decatur McKnight of Hartford, Connecticut, who was captured
after the action between the _Essex_ and the _Phoebe_ and _Cherub_, and
with a companion named James Lyman went to Rio de Janeiro as exchanged
prisoners of war. From that port, according to Lossing, these two
shipped for England in a Swedish vessel, and, although the ship arrived
in safety, her captain never gave any account of his prisoners, nor was
it known what had become of them. That they were murdered would be the
natural inference, since in event of their being treacherously sent to
England some record must have been found regarding them.

He who wrote the story of the cruise of the _Essex_ which follows here,
searched long but vainly for some clew to the fate of his brave cousin;
in fact, after leaving the United States Navy it was his lifework to
discover the fate of that brave lieutenant who was the only officer
uninjured on board the _Essex_ after that unequal conquest was cowardly
forced upon her by Captain Hillyar of the _Phoebe_, whose vessel and
life had once been spared by Captain Porter.

Failing to gain any information concerning the lieutenant, Ezra McKnight
set himself down to write the story of that marvellous cruise of the
_Essex_, the United States frigate of thirty-two guns, commanded by
Captain David Porter who was born in Boston on the first of February,
1780. How this manuscript came into the hands of the editor it is not
necessary to state. Suffice it to say that no change has been made in
the original arrangement of the tale, nor in any of the details; it is
here presented virtually as Ezra McKnight wrote it, with only so much of
editing as seemed necessary in order to bring it within the requirements
of a story of the present day.

To those who may read that which follows for the purpose of learning
somewhat of their country's history, it is well to state a few facts
which would not naturally appear in what was originally intended for an
account of the adventurous voyage.

The commander of the _Essex_ gained his first experience in the navy on
board the frigate _Constellation_, which vessel he entered as midshipman
in 1798. Concerning him Lossing says that "he was in the action between
the _Constellation_ and the _L'Insurgente_ in February, 1799, when his
gallantry was so conspicuous that he was immediately promoted to
lieutenant. He accompanied the first United States squadron that ever
sailed to the Mediterranean in 1803, and was on board the _Philadelphia_
when she struck on the rock in the harbor of Tripoli. There he suffered
imprisonment. In 1806 he was appointed to the command of the
_Enterprise_, and cruised in the Mediterranean for six years. On his
return to the United States he was placed in command of the flotilla
station near New Orleans, where he remained until war was declared in
1812, when he was promoted to captain and assigned to the command of the
frigate _Essex_, taking with him, on this last cruise, his adopted son,
David G. Farragut, who, during the War of the Rebellion, was made an

Now, in order that the memory of the reader may be refreshed as to the
strength of the United States Navy while this cruise was being made, the
following extract is taken from Lossing's "War of 1812."

"As we take a survey from a standpoint at mid-autumn, 1813, we observe
with astonishment only three American frigates at sea, namely, the
_President_, 44; the _Congress_, 38; and the _Essex_, 32. The
_Constitution_, 44, was undergoing repairs; the _Constellation_, 38,
was blockaded at Norfolk; and the _United States_, 44, and _Macedonian_,
38, were prisoners in the Thames above New London. The _Adams_, 28, was
undergoing repairs and alterations, while the _John Adams_, 28, _New
York_, 36, and _Boston_, 28, were virtually condemned. All the brigs,
excepting the _Enterprise_, had been captured, and she was not to be
trusted at sea much longer. The _Essex_, Commodore Porter, was the only
government vessel of size which was then sustaining the reputation of
the American Navy, and she was in far distant seas, with a track equal
to more than a third of the circumference of the globe between her and
the home port from which she sailed. She was then making one of the most
remarkable cruises on record."

In October, 1812, Captain William Bainbridge was appointed the successor
of Captain Hull in the command of the _Constitution_; and, according to
Lossing, "a small squadron, consisting of the _Constitution_, 44,
_Essex_, 32, and _Hornet_, 18, were placed in his charge. When
Bainbridge entered upon his duty in the new sphere of flag officer, the
_Constitution_ and _Hornet_ were lying in Boston harbor, and the
_Essex_, Captain Porter, was in the Delaware. Orders were sent to the
latter to cruise in the track of the English West Indiamen, and at the
specified time to rendezvous at certain ports, when, if he should not
fall in with the flagship of the squadron, he would be at liberty to
follow the dictates of his own judgment. Such contingency occurred, and
the _Essex_ sailed on a very long and most eventful cruise in the South
Atlantic and Pacific Oceans."

The _Essex_ left the Delaware October, 1812, in pursuance with the
command received by Captain Porter; and he must have already outlined in
his own mind what course to pursue in case he failed to meet the little
squadron, for Lossing says, "Captain Porter took with him a larger
number of officers and crew than was common for a vessel of that size.
Her muster roll contained three hundred and nineteen names; and her
supplies were so ample that she sank deep in the water, which greatly
impeded her sailing qualities."

On Porter's monument, which stands in Woodlawn Cemetery, Pennsylvania,
are the following inscriptions:

"Commodore David Porter, one of the most heroic sons of Pennsylvania,
having long represented his country with fidelity as minister resident
at Constantinople, died at that city in the patriotic discharge of his
duties March 3, 1843."

"In the War of 1812 his merits were exhibited not merely as an intrepid
commander, but in exploring new fields of success and glory. A career
of brilliant good fortune was crowned by an engagement against superior
force and fearful advantages, which history records as an event among
the most remarkable in naval warfare."

"His early youth was conspicuous for skill and gallantry in the naval
services of the United States when the American arms were exercised with
romantic chivalry before the battlements of Tripoli. He was on all
occasions among the bravest of the brave; zealous in the performance of
every duty; ardent and resolute in the trying hour of calamity; composed
and steady in the blaze of victory."





An awkward, raw-boned lad of fourteen was I when an opportunity came to
enlist as a boy on board the _Essex_, a United States frigate of
thirty-two guns, commanded by Captain David Porter. My desire ever had
been to join the navy, in which my cousin, Stephen Decatur McKnight, had
already won much of glory and a commission; it was through him that I
was finally able to satisfy my longings, which had increased from year
to year until it seemed as if I could be content in no other sphere of
action than that of serving my country upon the ocean.

War had been declared; once more was it proposed to give England a
lesson in good manners; and while that lesson was being taught, I
intended to so act my part that when it was finished I might have
gained a recognized position among men, even though I was no more than
a boy.

Stephen had won his way upward, and why might not I? True, there were
times when my heart grew cowardly; but as I figured it to myself at such
moments, I was too timorous even to run, and therefore might gain the
credit of being a hero, when in reality, had I been a trifle more brave,
I might have shown the white feather.

Perhaps it is not well for me to set down all that was in my mind when I
went on board the _Essex_, for it can be of no especial interest to
those who may chance to read what is written here. It is enough if I say
that two days before the _Essex_ left the Delaware River, or in other
words, on the 28th of October in the year 1812, I was rated on her
papers as "boy," and had already begun to make the acquaintance of one
Philip Robbins, a lad of about my own age, who held the same rank. If
there had been any lower station aboard the frigate, of a truth we two
would have been found occupying it, for he knew no more concerning a
seaman's duty than did I.

A certain portion of the cruise, which proved to be one of the most
adventurous ever made by a vessel of war, must be omitted here for the
very good reason that I have little or no knowledge concerning it.
During three days after we left the capes of the Delaware it was to
Philip Robbins and myself as if we lingered in the very shadow of death,
and while so lingering received no word of cheer from those around us
because of the fact that we were enduring only that which every lad must
endure who sets out to learn the trade of a sailor. Sick? It was to me
as if that man who should put an end to my life would have been
rendering me a service, for I doubted not but that death must eventually
come, and only when it did would I be free from the pangs of that
overpowering illness which beset me.

Both Philip and I had vaunted ourselves before the lads of Philadelphia
because we could lay claim to being members of the crew of the _Essex_;
but from the moment the good ship courtesied to the swell of the
Atlantic until we were recovered and could laugh at the past, either of
us would willingly have given up all which we prized most dearly in the
world for the sake of being set back on shore in the humblest station
that might be imagined.

It is enough if I say that we gained the experience which comes to all
who venture upon the sea, whether for pleasure or for profit, and once
having gained it, were in proper condition ever after to laugh at those
who might be learning the same severe and disagreeable lesson.

There was never a man on board the ship who did not know that she was
bound for the purpose firstly, of capturing any English vessels that we
might be able to cope with, and secondly, to come across the
_Constitution_ and the _Hornet_, with which ships we would afterward
cruise in company.

Among our crew, and there were, counting officers as well as men, three
hundred and nineteen all told, were a dozen or more who had fought under
Preble at Tripoli; and while we were headed for Port Praya we heard so
many yarns concerning the doings of our fleet with the Barbary pirates
as would more than suffice to fill a dozen such books as I count this
will make. Therefore it is not well that I attempt to set down any of
them, entertaining though the least exciting would prove.

When Philip and I signed our names to the ship's papers, both believed
that we should be called upon to take part in sea battles from the time
we gained the offing until we were once more in port; but yet there was
nothing of bloodshed, save such as could be found in the yarns spun by
the men, from the time of sailing until the 27th of November, when we
sighted the mountains of St. Jago and entered the harbor of Port Praya,
hoping there to gain some news of Commodore Bainbridge.

Nothing was learned, however, as we on the gun-deck soon came to know;
for it must be understood that the crew soon have repeated to them every
word which is spoken aft. Some old shellback hears a bit now and then,
and by piecing the fragments together generally hits upon the truth;
while the marines on guard are ever ready to carry forward such scraps
of conversation as they have overheard when on duty. It is thus, as I
have said, that the ordinary seaman, who is supposed to be in ignorance
of everything save the happenings of the moment, is generally possessed
within a few hours of all the information gained by his superior

All we got from the Portuguese governor of Port Praya was a bountiful
supply of pigs, sheep, poultry, and fruit, and it can well be supposed
that our officers were not exerting themselves to let him understand
exactly why we had to enter the port. When we set sail again, it was on
a seaward course, as if we were bound for an African port; but as soon
as we were beyond sight of land the ship was hauled around to the
southwest, and on the 11th of December we crossed the equator in
longitude 30° west.

Philip and I were in no very comfortable frame of mind as we neared the
equator, knowing full well that lads, and for that matter seamen, who
have never crossed the imaginary line, are subjected to rough if not
absolutely brutal treatment at the hands of every messmate; and we
expected, because of certain remarks that had been made, to receive an
unusually severe dose.

But fortune favored Captain Porter as well as our humble selves; for
just at noon, when the men were making ready to introduce us to King
Neptune, a Britisher hove in sight, and there was no longer thought of
playing pranks. The enemy had been sighted at last, and even the eldest
among us were quivering with excitement, for it was believed that our
success or failure in this first enterprise which presented itself would
indicate the results of the voyage.

I was burning with a desire to question my cousin McKnight as to what
might possibly be the result of losing this craft; but you must
understand that a boy on board a frigate is not supposed to speak to his
superior officer without permission. Even had the lieutenant been my
father, I should have been forced by the rules of the ship to keep at
quite as respectful a distance from him as from Captain Porter himself.

Up to this time neither Philip nor I had succeeded in cultivating the
acquaintance of the older members of the crew; therefore we stood alone,
so to speak, ignorant of what might be the possibilities, but not daring
to ask a single question lest we bring the ridicule of the seamen upon

If the success of this first venture since we left port had been a true
token of the entire voyage, then were Philip Robbins and myself to reap
the greatest possible benefit from it; for when the _Essex_ was finally
come up with the Britisher on the following day, we lads not only aided
in the capture of the rich prize, but made ourselves such a friend among
the crew as we most needed.

A lad on board a man-of-war sees hard lines if there be not one among
the older seamen who stands in a certain degree sponsor for him;
otherwise the younger members of the crew will put upon him until his is
indeed a slavish life. Now up to this day we boys could call no man our
friend, and in this I am not counting my cousin, the lieutenant, for his
kindness toward us would count for but little while we were among our

However, I am saying overly much of myself, and perchance may be
accused of giving undue importance to those members of the ship's
company who were looked upon as of no especial consequence.

As I have said, we crossed the equator and sighted a strange sail on the
same day. As a matter of course chase was made at once, and before the
sun went down we knew beyond a peradventure that at last we had before
us one of the enemy's vessels.

There was nothing particularly interesting in the chase as it presented
itself to me. During the greater portion of the time Philip and I were
kept at work below by one task-master or another, and all we knew
regarding our chances of overhauling the stranger was what could be
gathered from those who came near where we were. When night fell, and we
lads were at liberty to go on deck, there was absolutely nothing to be

In the morning, however, when the first shot was fired, just before
daybreak, Philip and I tumbled out of our hammocks, wild with
excitement, and at the same time inwardly quaking lest peradventure we
were upon the eve of a naval engagement.

I question if any orders, however strict, could have kept us below. We
forgot for the moment that one is not allowed to roam over a naval
vessel at will, but clambered on deck as if free to follow our every
inclination; and well for us, perhaps, was it that both officers and
crew were considerably excited at the prospect of finally taking a
prize, otherwise we might have been treated to a dose of the rope's end
because of having unwittingly ventured so far aft.

The stranger was the British government packet, _Nocton_, carrying ten
guns, and had been hove to when our shot went across her bow. There was
no attempt made at resistance, and she fell into our hands as a ripe
apple falls from the tree, with no particular effort on our part.

Later, and while the prize crew was being told off to take possession of
her, we learned that she carried thirty-one men, was bound for Falmouth,
and had on board fifty-five thousand dollars in gold and silver coin.

Lieutenant Finch was made prize-master, and a crew of seventeen told off
to man the packet; for Captain Porter counted on sending her to the
United States, she being a craft that would make a reasonably good
addition to our small navy.

These men were transferred from our ship to the prize without delay, and
then was begun the work of bringing back the specie,--a task, it is
needless to say, in which Philip and I had no share.

The scene was such, however, as to attract the attention of any one,
however much experience he might have had in such matters, and we lads
watched with breathless eagerness all the manoeuvres, as the two vessels
rolled lazily upon the long swell, while the small boats plied to and
fro like ants. We gazed curiously at the iron-bound boxes which were
said to be filled with gold or silver, and in our ignorance it seemed as
if already was the cruise a success, since we had taken from the enemy
such a vast amount of money.

Among the crews of our boats was a seaman by the name of Hiram Hackett,
with whom Philip and I had vainly tried to scrape an acquaintance. A
weather-beaten old shellback was he, who had, against his will, served
the king, having been made prisoner by one of the press-gangs, and who
escaped only a few months before enlisting on board the _Essex_.

His shipmates looked up to him as to a man of great experience, and well
they might, for I question if Hiram Hackett had not seen more of the ups
and downs of a sailor's life than any among us. He was the only member
of the crew who had not made sport of, or imposed upon, us two in some
way; but yet never a kindly word had he given us.

Master Hackett was pulling the bow oar of No. 2 boat when she came
alongside with a load of stores, for Captain Porter was taking from the
prize such provisions as would not be needed during the homeward voyage.

The goods were being hoisted out while the boats lay a few yards off our
lee rail; and as this work was being done a cheese incased in a wooden
box slipped from the sling, and, falling, struck Master Hackett a
glancing blow on the head and shoulder, knocking him senseless into the

The only thought in my mind at the instant, and Philip and I were
perched on the brig's rail directly opposite the boat, was that the
seaman, having been rendered unconscious by the blow, would be quickly
drowned; and without stopping to think of possible danger, I leaped

Philip was moved by the same impulse at the same instant, and we struck
the water side by side.

Looking back upon that attempt at rescue, after so many years of
experience, I believe of a verity that not once in twenty times would
two lads succeed in the effort; for the chances were that we should
come up directly beneath the frigate, or, as we rose to the surface, be
dashed against the hull with force sufficient to kill us.

As it was, however, we went down side by side until we came in contact
with the man we would save, and him we brought to the surface to
windward of the boat, yet so near her that it was only necessary the
crew should reach out and pull us on board.

We had done nothing which merited praise,--in fact, should have been
blamed for interfering when we might have hampered the movements of
those who knew better what ought to be done; and yet Captain Porter was
pleased to compliment us when we clambered on board looking like a
couple of half-drowned rats, and the sailors clasped us by the hands as
if to say that in their opinion we had proved ourselves worthy to be
called shipmates.

It was natural that I should be somewhat puffed up by the attention
which was paid us; but I little dreamed what an important bearing it
would have upon our lives.

The old sailor, still unconscious, was taken below; Philip and I
overhung the rail once more, watching the men as they transferred the
provisions and specie, for the work had not been interrupted many
moments by the mishap, and all was as before, save for that sense of
satisfaction and pride within my heart when Master Hackett, looking none
the worse for the blow and the ducking, came up behind us.

We were not aware of his presence until he laid his hands on our
shoulders, and said in a deep, grave voice, much as if speaking to

"I don't know whether it was a service or contrariwise that you lads did
me, for I'm told that but for your tumblin' over the rail I was like to
have lost the number of my mess, bein' knocked out by the blow in such
fashion that I went down like a stone, with but little chance of

I looked around at the old sailor, hardly understanding what he said;
and he, gazing to windward as if there he saw something which we could
not, continued:--

"An old shellback like me is of but little account; and if he hangs on
to life, mayhap it's only to pay off some grudge which them as claim to
know say shouldn't be harbored."

I knew from this that he referred to the grudge he owed the Britishers
for having pressed him into the king's service, and wondered why he
should speak in such a solemn tone when it stood to reason he ought to
be rejoicing because of having escaped death.

It was a full minute before the old man went on, and then he spoke more
nearly natural, as it seemed to me:--

"We'll set it down that you two lads have done a big service--that you
saved my life--an' it isn't much for me to say that I'm obliged to you,
'cause mere words are cheap. Boys aboard a ship stand in need of a
friendly hand, an' that's what I'm allowin' to hold out toward you until
such time as I've squared off the account begun this day. Whatsoever a
sailorman can do for a mate, I'm bound to do for you; an' all hands are
to understand that what's sauce for you is certain to be sauce for me,
or they'll know the reason why."

Having said this, Master Hackett went aft to where Lieutenant McKnight
was standing, tugged at a wisp of hair which hung over his forehead, and
at the same time scraped one foot behind him, which answered for a
sailor's bow, saying as he did so:--

"I'm ready for duty, sir."

"Your place in the boat has been taken, therefore you are at liberty
until we get under way," my cousin said with a smile, whereupon the old
man went below, never so much as looking at Philip or me.

It seemed as if his manner was decidedly curt. After having voluntarily
acknowledged that we saved his life, it appeared as if he might have
said something more, or at least stood near us a few moments to let it
be seen that he had indeed taken us under his wing, and I said
laughingly to Philip:--

"Master Hackett is proving to us that words are indeed cheap. He has
thanked us, and that seems to be all that is necessary."

"And so it is," Philip replied, for he was a better-natured lad than I
by far, and ever ready to make excuses where I found fault. "It was
really nothing of consequence for us to go overboard where there are so
many to lend a helping hand, and when we came on deck again I was
trembling with fear lest one of the officers give us a tongue lashing
for putting ourselves forward at such a time."

"If we hadn't done so, Master Hackett would likely have gone to the
bottom, for I saw no one making ready to go after him."

"You didn't give them time, Ezra McKnight," Philip replied laughingly.
"The old man had no more than struck the water before we were on the
rail; and yet I am not to be praised for it, because, to tell the truth,
I didn't realize what I was about."

That same was true in my case; but there was no reason just then why I
should speak overly much regarding it when I was hungering for yet more
praise, and I put an end to the conversation by turning my attention
once more to the work going on before us.

The task of transferring the provisions and specie to our ship was not a
long one, and perhaps no more than three hours elapsed from the time the
_Nocton_ hove to until the _Essex_ was on her course once more, while
the prize, with her prisoners below decks, was stretching off for the
home port.

Before the sun set on this night, Philip and I had good proof that
Master Hackett's gratitude was more than the mere thanks we had
received. Every member of the crew treated us in a different
fashion--more as if we were in fact shipmates, although I saw no
particular change in the old man's behavior.

It is difficult for me to explain the difference in our positions, and
yet it was very decided. We were called upon to do quite as much work,
to wait upon this one or that one as before, and yet the orders were
given in a more friendly tone. There were not so many kicks bestowed
upon us, nor did a single man lay a rope's end upon our backs; whereas
from the time of leaving port until we leaped overboard for Master
Hackett I question if there was a waking hour when we did not receive a
blow from some one.

The old man who had declared he would stand our friend no longer wore an
air which seemed to forbid our coming nearer him, and yet I cannot say
that he spoke any very kindly words; but we understood that, if ever we
needed a helping hand, his would be stretched forth.

That night when we were ready to get into our hammocks, Philip said to
me with a certain tone of triumph:--

"This has been a lucky day for the _Essex_. She has captured a prize
that will bring all hands money with which to tassel our handkerchiefs,
if it be so the _Nocton_ reaches a home port, and Captain Porter has the
credit of gathering in fifty-five thousand dollars from the enemy; but I
question if any aboard have been so fortunate since sunrise as you and
me, for we have suddenly become shipmates with the one man among all the
crew who is able to put us on a better footing with those who have
lorded it over us."



In order to hold a true course to my story, if perchance it should prove
to be a story, it is necessary I set down here very much of what is
little more than pricking out on a chart the movements of the _Essex_,
for many a long, weary day passed before we had opportunity to work harm
to shipping belonging to subjects of the English king, whom we were
teaching a lesson in good manners.

On the second day after the capture of the _Nocton_ we hove into sight
the island of Fernando de Noronha; and as our commander had been told at
this place we might gain information of Commodore Bainbridge's squadron,
we came to anchor, but not before the ship had been disguised as a

Then, flying English colors, we let go our ground tackle off the port,
and Lieutenant Downes went ashore to ask permission of the governor for
us to take on water and such stores as might readily be procured.

The lieutenant came back with a quantity of fruit for the cabin, and
information that two alleged British vessels of war had called at the
island a week previous, and left there a letter for Sir James Yeo of his
Majesty's ship _Southampton_.

It seems, as we of the crew learned later, that these were the names
agreed upon between Commodore Bainbridge and our commander, to be used
in an unfriendly port. Captain Porter believed that a lie was not a lie
when told for the benefit of one's country, therefore he sent the
lieutenant back with a present of cheese and ale, and the assurance that
a gentleman on board our vessel, a friend of Sir James Yeo's, counted on
sailing for England from Brazil, and would take the letter with him.

The governor could do no less than deliver up the missive; and on being
brought aboard it was found to be only such a letter as one English
commander might send to another, with nothing in it to show that the
writer was an American.

Captain Porter had no idea that the commodore would be such a simple as
to trust his secret with a Britisher, and therefore set about trying to
solve the mystery which he felt confident was contained in the letter.

Finally, by holding the sheet for some time over a lighted candle, it
was found that a second message had been written in what is known as
sympathetic ink, and this the heat brought out plainly, showing, as was
afterward told us on the gun-deck, the following lines:--

"I am bound for St. Salvador, thence off Cape Frio, where I intend to
cruise until the 1st of January. Go off Cape Frio, to the northward of
Rio Janeiro, and keep a lookout for me."

It surely seemed now as if the course was marked out for us clearly, and
that we would soon be in the company of friends; but it was not to come
about, else I might not be trying to set down the particulars of that
which proved to be a most extraordinary voyage.

Day after day we cruised up and down the Brazilian coast between Cape
Frio and St. Catherine, but meeting neither American nor English
vessels. The Portuguese craft which we spoke from time to time could
give us no information; and from Captain Porter down to Phil Robbins and
myself, all hands were most decidedly puzzled to know what would be the
outcome of the voyage, when it seemed, despite the luck which attended
us in the beginning, that we had cut ourselves off so completely from
both friend and foe that it might not be possible to get back.

The old shellbacks told us youngsters that the Brazilian government,
being at peace with England, would not allow us to provision the ship at
any of their ports, and it was unnecessary we be told that the supplies
were growing lower every day. With three hundred men to be fed, even a
full cargo of stores soon grows slim.

Finally one of the marines who had been on guard in the cabin, told us
that he heard Captain Porter say to some of his officers that it had now
come to a choice between capture, a blockade, or starvation.

As a matter of course all the sea lawyers on the gun-deck argued the
matter in and out of season, laying down the law in great shape,
according to their own ideas; but, so far as Phil or I could see, not
suggesting anything which offered the slightest hope of relief.

I might fill many pages with an account of what we two lads thought and
said during this time when it appeared as if the _Essex_ had got the
worst of the voyage, although having captured the only enemy she came
across; but it would be of little interest to a stranger if I should
make the attempt. It is enough to say that every man of the crew, and
the boys, too, for the matter of that, believed we would have a taste of
an English prison before many days had passed, when, suddenly, came most
startling news from one of the marines who had been on duty aft.

The man declared, and we afterward came to know he spoke no more than
the truth, that he had overheard a consultation between Captain Porter
and his officers, when it was decided that, having failed to find
Commodore Bainbridge, we were to double Cape Horn and strike a blow at
the British whaling fleet in the Pacific.

Captain Porter argued, so the tale-bearing marine told us, that among
the whalers he stood a good chance of replenishing his naval stores, for
the vessels in that trade were always well armed, and it would be
possible to provision the ship as often as might be necessary, once we
were among the South Sea Islands. He had decided to live on the enemy,
and it only remained to be seen whether that might indeed be possible.

Of all who heard the story as told by the marine, none believed it save
Master Hackett; and he said, in answer to my question as to whether he
thought we might be able to come out of the scrape with whole skins:--

"Ay, that I do, lad; an' it's in my mind that the _Essex_ can do
British shippin' more harm in the Pacific than would be possible
elsewhere. For a time we'll have everything our own way, an' then the
king will have a pretty good idee of what the Yankees can do."

"But how will it be possible to get home, Master Hackett?" I asked,
thinking more of my own safety than of brave deeds to be accomplished.

"That's somethin' that don't concern us,--leastways, not until the
_Essex_ has come to the end of her cruise. We've shipped to do all the
harm we can to Englishmen, for that's the meanin' of war, lad. After
we've done our duty will be time enough to think about ourselves, though
I'm allowin' that if we ever see the United States again it'll be after
we've had a reasonably long taste of British prisons."

Such talk as that was not calculated to make me very comfortable in
mind. As a matter of course I wanted to strike a blow at the king, since
we'd shipped for that purpose; but I wasn't well pleased at doing so
when it was a foregone conclusion that the task would be concluded only
when we were prisoners. We had captured a rich prize already, and I for
one would have felt better if it had been decided that we were to take
the chances of starvation while working back to the home port. This
cutting loose, as it were, did not strike me in a pleasant fashion.

Before many hours had passed, however, the doubters understood that the
marine had told no more than the truth.

We were off the harbor of St. Catherine when Captain Porter decided to
take chances which would have deterred many another, and next morning,
that is to say, on the 26th day of January, 1813, the _Essex_ was headed
down the coast for Cape Horn.

It seemed strange to me at the time, and even at this late day I am
moved to wonderment that such should have been the case--it seemed
strange, I say, that almost without exception the members of our crew
hailed with delight the captain's determination to push forward rather
than turn back. Surely it was a hazardous venture to leave friendly
ports behind, and sail away toward that portion of the world where the
power of the British was exceeding strong.

Those among the crew who argued in favor of thus trying our fortunes in
the Pacific Ocean were forced to admit that we would be treated with but
scant courtesy by the small nations, who dared not brave the anger of
the English by showing friendship for us. Ours was but a single vessel
of thirty-two guns, and should we come upon two or three whalers at the
same time, it was reasonable to believe that we might find ourselves
opposed by a weight of metal exceeding our own.

We could not depend upon the government of the United States for so much
as a spare belaying-pin, and all we might get, whether in the way of
stores or ammunition, must come from the enemy. I do not believe any
vessel of war was ever sent into such danger of every form, and it is
hardly to be wondered at that Phil Robbins and I were filled with
apprehension as to the result of the cruise, more particularly since we
heard the evils described in most glowing colors during nearly every
hour of the day, even by those who were in favor of the enterprise.

"We didn't ship with the agreement that we'd do our best to run into
every possible danger when it might be better to shape a course for
home," Phil said, in what was very like a mutinous tone. "When it comes
to fighting Britishers, then we're bound to risk our lives in the hope
of killing them; but sailing around the world with fair chance of
starving to death before we can run across a craft of any kind, is a
good bit outside of duty."

Phil was not the only member of the crew who spoke in much the same
tone, and yet I defy any person to say with truth that we were in the
slightest degree mutinous as we faced such a venture as was never known

Master Hackett seemed well content on the day when the bow of the
_Essex_ was turned toward the south pole, and I was resolved he should
have no opportunity of believing that Phil and I were afraid of what
might lie in our path.

As a matter of course, we two lads discussed the weighty affair in all
its aspects, enabled to do so with some degree of fairness because of
the opinions which we heard on every side; but we took good care to do
so where no one might overhear us.

It was only during the first day of this venturesome cruise, however,
that we indulged in what was neither more nor less than mutinous
criticism of our officers' plans; for within twenty-four hours after
leaving the harbor of St. Catherine the wind increased to a full gale,
which for more than eighteen days showed no signs of abatement.

Never before had I believed it possible that a ship could be so tossed
and buffeted by the waves without being literally torn to pieces! It was
as if our craft had been no larger than a long-boat, and I dare venture
to say that many times she actually stood on end.

Phil and I were both sick and frightened, and in about the same degree,
which was fortunate for us; for had we been one whit less ill, we might
have lost our wits entirely. Whenever the deathly nausea permitted of
thought I was firmly convinced we would all go to the bottom before
making Cape Horn, and by the time this idea had become firmly fixed in
my mind the sickness of the sea overwhelmed me again, bringing in its
train partial unconsciousness of my surroundings.

Nor were we lads alarmed without good cause; it was possible to
understand by the behavior of the crew, at such times as we were able to
understand anything, that every man jack believed the _Essex_ would be
finally overcome in her struggle with the elements; and once, when the
turmoil was at its height, Master Hackett came to where I lay in my
hammock for no other apparent purpose than to clasp my hand.

It was much as though he was bidding me good-by, and I wept bitter tears
of sorrow because I was not to see my dear mother again in this world.

I could write very much concerning the dreary, painful hours we spent
while it seemed as if death stood very near to each of us; but it is not
well to allow such personal matters to interfere with the tale of what
was accomplished before the good ship _Essex_ was destroyed through a
British trick and British cowardice.

On the 14th day of February Master Hackett brought word to Phil and me
that we were at last off Cape Horn; and to give a faint idea of the
situation I will set down the fact that, old seaman though he was, it
had become absolutely necessary for him to crawl along the gun-deck like
a crab, otherwise he would have been flung fore and aft by the wild
movements of the ship.

During that night I fancied we were in smoother water, and within
twenty-four hours it was possible for Phil and me to leave our hammocks
with some degree of safety.

Almost immediately after rounding the cape the wind shifted to the
southwest, blowing with no more force than was needed to keep our canvas
full; and from that hour we began to live once more.

We skirted the coasts of Patagonia and Lower Chili for nineteen days,
and at the end of that time the glittering peaks of the Andes were seen
far, far in the distance, and those who had been most despondent
concerning the outcome to the cruise, now began to believe that it would
be possible for us to give a good account of ourselves to the people at
home before death overtook us.

We now talked of taking rich prizes, even as we previously had discussed
the probability of immediate disaster, and speculated as to how we might
weather the cape once more when, the work having been accomplished, we
would be homeward bound.

It was the 5th day of March when we were off the island of Mocha, on the
coast of Araucania, with the prospect of a day to be spent on shore
after so many dangers had been encountered and passed.

To us two lads, who were sick with the odor of the salt breeze, the
scene was entrancing. The mountain on the island towered a full thousand
feet from the sea line, and around it could be seen countless numbers of
birds, while in the surf near the shore hundreds upon hundreds of seals
played like so many dogs.

For the first time since leaving St. Catherine our ground tackle was let
go, and word came from the cabin that on the morrow we were to be given
a full day's hunting. This last was become a real necessity, rather
than a pleasure, for our stores were sadly in need of being replenished;
but we thought not of this last fact, preferring to believe that
permission to go ashore had been given solely that we might enjoy

And what a day it proved to be! The island had been inhabited by
Spaniards before the buccaneers reigned in that region, and the forest
was literally teeming with hogs and horses so tame that but little skill
was necessary to shoot them down.

From sunrise to sunset we hunted, and before noon had proved to our
entire satisfaction that horseflesh was more palatable than pork,
therefore we killed no more hogs than persisted in coming within easy
range. By nightfall we had fresh meat enough to furnish us with food for
many a long day, provided it was salted down before becoming tainted.

The next day was spent in caring for what we had captured, and in
filling the ship's water-casks, after which we were in fairly good
condition to continue the voyage. The eight-and-forty hours spent on
shore had been sufficient to raise the courage of the most timorous,
among whom could be counted Phil and myself; and all hands were in the
best of spirits as the _Essex_ filled away on her course once more,
despite the fact that there was no possibility of receiving aid from
the friends at home.

As we ran up the coast Captain Porter made preparations for the work
which all hoped we should find in plenty. The running rigging of the
_Essex_ was carefully overhauled; the ship was repainted and otherwise
put in as good condition as was possible without going into dock. The
boats we carried--seven in all--were strengthened in every manner, and
crews told off for each, so that at a moment's notice we might send out
a flotilla of small craft against an enemy.

Lieutenant Downes was given command of this little squadron; and from
the way in which he looked after the armament, we knew without being
told that he was ready for any kind of fighting which might come his

It was in a certain sense a relief to Phil and myself when the boats
were made ready for independent action; as a matter of course, our
strength was not increased one whit by such means, yet it seemed to us
lads that we were in much better trim to meet an enemy than before such
preparations had been made.

Greatly to our disappointment we were not told off as members of the
boats' crews; and I plucked up sufficient courage to ask Master Hackett
concerning what seemed to us an oversight, hoping he might aid us in
receiving treatment such as we believed to be our due.

"Frettin' because you haven't been given an independent command, eh?" he
said with a laugh, when I had made what was little less than a

"We are not such fools as to think we can do anything very brave or
wonderful; but at the same time it seems much as if we might perform our
fair share of work," I replied, considerably nettled because he appeared
to treat us as if we were children.

"I'm allowin', lad, that you'll be called on for all the tasks you can
do conveniently. It stands to reason that the pick of the crew should be
detailed for the boats, seein's how them as put off from the ship under
Lieutenant Downes's command will be forced to jump lively, both as to
fightin' an' work. Now, it looks to me as if you two would have chances
enough, once that fleet of small craft have left us; for the _Essex_
will be short-handed, an' you lads'll be asked to do the duty of men."

With this we were content, knowing that Master Hackett would not buoy us
up with false hopes; and it began to seem as if we might, within a
reasonably short time, show that we were made of such material as
warranted our being reckoned among the _men_ on board the _Essex_.

From the day of leaving the island of Mocha a watch was kept for the
enemy, and each morning we two lads tumbled out of our hammocks firm in
the belief that by nightfall we should be in chase of another prize.
Then, as the sun set before we had sighted the British flag, we felt
quite as positive we should see it when the morning came again.

Thus the time passed in anticipation unfulfilled until the 14th day of
March, when, on rounding the Point of Angels, the city of Valparaiso lay
full before us like something which had suddenly been thrown up by the

Until this moment we had had a stiff breeze, such as sent the _Essex_
along at a full ten knots an hour; but on rounding the point the wind
died out suddenly, leaving us becalmed under the guns of a battery,
which was hardly to our liking, for we believed Chili was still under
the rule of Spain.

Captain Porter, not minded to take any more chances than was absolutely
necessary, had hoisted English colors; and as we came into view it gave
me a most disagreeable feeling in the region of the heart to see an
armed American brig tricing up her ports as she prepared for action,
although I could not restrain a sensation of pride that my countrymen
should be willing to fight at an instant's notice, and against great
odds, to uphold the stars and stripes.

Three Spanish ships were getting under way, and Captain Porter
understood that he might miss many a rich prize if he allowed the crews
of those vessels to know who we were and why we had come.

Therefore it was that three boats' crews were called away to pull the
ship's head around beyond the point, where she might catch so much of a
breeze as was stirring outside, and in less than two hours we were
beyond sight of the city.

Phil and I mourned the necessity of being forced to leave port so soon,
when we might have met countrymen who could give us later news from home
than we had; but Master Hackett did much toward consoling us when he

"Take my words for it, lads, we'll be in the harbor of Valparaiso before
you're very much older. The captain didn't count on lettin' the
Spaniards find out who we are, thus puttin' the Britishers on their

The old man was in the right, as was usually the case, for on the next
day we ran into port; and our anchors were hardly down when we heard
important news.

Chili had just gained her independence from the Spaniards, and was more
than ready to welcome us as friends; but it was reported that the
Viceroy of Peru was fitting out armed cruisers to prey upon the American
shipping in the Pacific.

Of a verity we had arrived in the nick of time, and there was great
rejoicing fore and aft because of such fact. So long as we could keep
secret from the British government the fact of our whereabouts, we might
work the enemy great damage at the same time we protected Yankee
vessels; and even after it was known that we had ventured so far from
home, there was fair opportunity of taking many a prize before being
overhauled by a British squadron.

Well, the people of Valparaiso gave us a royal welcome. The forts
saluted the stars and stripes with twenty-one guns; nine shots were
fired by the armed brig, and we replied to them all, as a matter of
course, until it was as if everybody was celebrating the Fourth of July.

The American Consul General came down from Santiago to greet us; the
Chilians strove to show how friendly they felt toward the United States,
and there was a great time, in which the officers gathered most of the
fun, for ordinary seamen are not counted in at such affairs.

The commissioned officers must have enjoyed themselves in fine style,
however, and we of the crew managed to get a small slice of the welcome
which repaid all hands for the long, disagreeable voyage.

Only a portion of our crew were allowed shore leave at a time, and by
rare good luck Phil and I were given liberty on the same day when Master
Hackett took his furlough; therefore we saw more of the city than would
have been possible had we set out alone.

The old gunner was well acquainted in Valparaiso, and before setting out
to visit acquaintances, he showed us all the sights. Then, presenting
each of us with two silver shillings, he went his way, after cautioning
us to be at the shore in time to go aboard before sunset.

It would have pleased both Phil and me had the old man remained with us;
but it could not be expected that he would give all his time of liberty
to two lads, even though they had gone over the rail to save his life;
therefore we made it appear as if we were eager to be by ourselves, and
began to explore the chief seaport town of Chili.

Unable to speak the language, we could not expect to make any new
acquaintances ashore, nor did we try, although more than one Chilian lad
gave token that he was as ready to extend the hospitalities of the port
to Yankees as were the dignitaries of the town.

We had wandered here and there as fancy dictated until noontime, and
Phil proposed that, since we had had our fill of sight-seeing it would
be a good idea to go on ship, or find some of our messmates.

Strolling with a party of sailors whose chief aim would most likely be
to take aboard all the liquor they could drink, was not to my liking,
and I had just suggested that we go to the rendezvous on the chance of
finding a boat putting off for the _Essex_, when we were surprised by a
hail in our native tongue.

"Hello, you two lads! Are you from the Yankee ship?"

Wheeling suddenly around, we saw a boy eighteen years of age or
thereabouts, who was regarding us with an expression which might equally
well have been one of friendship or enmity.

"We're from the _Essex_," Phil replied, and as he spoke the stranger
came toward us.

"Can you speak Spanish?" he asked; whereat I replied glibly:--

"Not a word, and more's the pity, else we might have had companions in
our sight-seeing."

"If that's all you're wanting, come with me. I'll show you a good

"Do you live here?" I asked, fancying that he spoke like one lately from

"Yes, for the time being; and since I have nothing better to do, suppose
we travel together."

Every person in the town had been so friendly toward us that we had no
reason to suspect evil, and even though we had considered the
possibility that any one was wickedly disposed, why should harm come to
us who were of so little importance?

Phil was so delighted at the idea of making a friend in this place where
almost nothing but Spanish was spoken, that he accepted the proposition
without delay, and at once we three set off in company.

Oliver Benson was the name of this friendly appearing lad, as we soon
learned; and before we had been together half an hour he knew very
nearly as much as we ourselves concerning our position and life aboard
the _Essex_.

"Boys are not of much account on Yankee ships, according to your story,"
he said, in a peculiar tone; and Phil replied glibly:--

"It doesn't seem so, except when there's a lot of dirty work to be done.
If we never went back to the _Essex_, I reckon there wouldn't be much
mourning over our loss."

I insisted that Master Hackett at least would miss us, and declared that
my cousin Stephen's heart would be sore with grief if any accident
happened to either of us; but Benson laughed me to scorn.

"If you failed to return there isn't one aboard who'd remember your
absence after four-and-twenty hours," he said. "An enemy might work his
will on you and stand no chance of coming to grief, for I doubt not but
that the frigate will sail by to-morrow."

"We have no enemies here," Phil replied with a laugh, "therefore we
needn't spend time discussing that question."

I noted a peculiar expression on Benson's face, but gave no great heed
to it, for at that instant he had turned down a narrow street and was
unlocking the door of a stone dwelling.

"Do you live here?" Phil asked.

"Yes; and I count on showing you two lads what a Chilian dinner is like.
It will be something to talk about when you get home."

He held the door open as invitation for us to enter; and although there
was absolutely no reason why I should suspect him of having unfriendly
designs upon us, I hesitated about going in.

"Go on," Phil said, pushing me forward. "We're fortunate in having run
across Benson, for there are not many lads, either here or at home, who
would spend their time entertaining strangers."

I could do no less than follow our host, who led us up one flight of
stairs, and thence to the rear of the building. Then he opened the door
of a room and stepped back a pace, that we might advance in front of

At the outer entrance, I led the way, and while Phil followed close at
my heels, the door was slammed behind us, the clicking of iron telling
that we had been locked in.

For an instant I was so bewildered as to be incapable of speech, and
then I heard from the other side of the locked door a mocking voice:--

"I'll keep you two Yankees here till your ship sails, and then find you
a berth aboard a British whaler; it will be a paying speculation for me,
and you'll have good opportunities for seeing the world."



Phil Robbins and I stood gazing into each other's eyes as if incapable
of speech, during at least sixty seconds after the fellow who had
trapped us announced the purpose of his scheme. That we two lads, who
were of no consequence whatsoever in the sight of the officers of the
_Essex_, should have been made the victims of a plot seemed too
ridiculous to be true; but yet the locked door was sufficient evidence
for the most incredulous.

It was Phil who first found his tongue, and he asked sharply, as if
positive I could give him a satisfactory answer:--

"What does the villain mean by locking us in here? He must think we are
rare prizes!"

"I'm not making any mistake as to what you're worth," Benson cried from
the hallway. "Yankees don't bring any extravagant price in this part of
the world; but the demand is so great that I won't be forced to keep
you many hours after your tub of a ship leaves port."

My head was so thick that even then I failed to understand his purpose,
but had an idea the fellow looked upon us as his personal enemies
because England was at war with the United States, and said to Phil,
giving no heed to the fact that I spoke sufficiently loud for Benson to

"The fellow is such a fool as to believe he serves his country by
imprisoning us."

"That's where you are making a big mistake, my Yankee cub. Whalers in
this portion of the world are not overly particular as to how they ship
a crew, and pay a decently good price to whoever delivers them
able-bodied hands."

Now I understood what this enterprising Britisher had in mind. I
remembered reading, before I left home, a long account of how sailors
were trapped in foreign ports by the captains of whaling vessels who had
lost members of their crews by death or desertion.

If we could be held prisoners until there was no longer any American
vessels in port, Benson might literally sell us to a British whaler; and
once on board such a craft, our chances for escape or relief before the
voyage had come to an end would be very small.

I was overwhelmed with grief and anger. The knowledge of our
helplessness increased my wrath until for a certain length of time I was
little better than an insane lad.

I stormed and raved from one end of the small apartment to the other,
now and again throwing myself against the stoutly barred door as if by
such means I might break it down; and during the paroxysm Phil lay at
full length on the floor, giving noisy vent to his sorrow and despair.
There was no care in my mind that Benson was most likely listening to
all we said or did, and would set us down as chicken-hearted; I only
gave heed to our situation, knowing full well how entirely we were in
his power.

It was not to be supposed that the _Essex_ would remain many days longer
in port; in eight-and-forty hours she would most likely get under way,
and we two lads who had dreamed of winning honor and promotion would be
set down as deserters. Even Master Hackett must believe we had run away,
since, by trying to make him think we were not eager to remain in his
company, lest he should waste all his time of liberty upon us, we had
made it appear as if our greatest desire was to be alone.

Like a flash all the possibilities of the situation came into my mind. I
heard the comments of our shipmates, saw the word "deserter" written
opposite our names on the ship's register, and imagined the grief of my
parents when the _Essex_ returned to port with such a disgraceful story
concerning us. Meanwhile I could see Phil and myself forced to this or
that disagreeable task, and the end of it all, a tardy release in some
foreign port from which we would be forced to work our way home as best
we might.

It was a most mournful picture, view it in whatever light I might, and
the stoutest-hearted could well be excused for growing faint and sick
with apprehension.

Whether we spent one hour or three in such useless wailings I am unable
to say; it seemed to me much as if we had been a full day in that place
before I so far recovered composure of mind as to be able to look at the
situation with some degree of common sense, and then my first act was to
soothe Phil, who still remained stretched at full length upon the floor,
weeping and wailing.

It was not a difficult task to persuade him into something approaching
calmness; he had literally exhausted himself by giving way so violently
to sorrow, and was, like myself, ready to play a more manly part.

Our first act, after thus coming to our senses, so to speak, was to
make a thorough examination of this apartment which served as prison;
for of course the thought of escape had been uppermost in our minds,
even when our grief was most violent.

The room was not different from what one might have fancied after seeing
the exterior of the building. It was, however, twelve feet square, with
a ceiling so low that I could touch it by standing on tiptoe. There were
two windows, both closely barred with iron, as I had already noticed was
usual in Valparaiso, and the view from them was confined to a small plat
of ground enclosed by a high wall of stone, the top of which was nearly
on a level with one of the windows.

"If we could get out of here, it would not be a difficult task to reach
the ground," Phil said, in a certain tone of hopefulness.

"I'd guarantee to bring up on the ground all right, wall or no wall, if
it wasn't for the bars."

Then, with one accord, we laid hold of the iron rods, wrenching at them
with all our strength, but not moving them by so much as a single hair's
breadth, so far as I could see.

That Benson yet remained in the hall outside, and could hear all that
was said or done, we knew when he cried mockingly:--

"Keep on pulling at the bars so long as such work pleases you; they
have held stronger men than you ever will be, and I'm not afraid of your
giving me the slip in that way!"

Thus we knew that the wretch had made a business of trapping strangers
to sell them to whalers, and this but served to make our case appear
more hopeless; for if he had had experience in such scoundrelly work, it
was probable he would be on his guard against anything we might try to

By this time I was weary, mentally and bodily, and, not minded to give
the villain any more pleasure,--for I doubted not but that he enjoyed
hearing his prisoners beat vainly against the bars of their cage,--I
whispered to Phil:--

"Don't speak nor move. We'll remain silent until he grows tired of
listening and goes away."

My comrade nodded to show that he agreed, and, seating ourselves on the
floor where we could look out of the window, even though there was
nothing save the small patch of grass to be seen, we held our peace
until the shadows of evening began to lengthen.

Now was come the time when our shipmates would be returning to the
_Essex_ after a day's pleasuring, and as I fancied them standing on the
shore, discussing the cause of our absence, it was impossible to
restrain my tears.

Not until the night had fully come did we hear anything from the
hallway, and then the faint sound of stealthy footsteps told that the
villanous Benson, wearied with his fruitless vigil, was descending the

We listened in vain for some noise betokening that the building had
other occupants than our enemy and ourselves; not a sound broke the
silence, and it seemed only reasonable that the scoundrel put the
dwelling to no other purpose than that of a prison.

It would be useless for me to make any attempt at setting down here all
Phil and I said during the hours of the night, for much of our
conversation was wild in the extreme, and we repeated the same words
again and again, as would any lads in such a situation as we had so
suddenly been plunged.

About midnight we fell asleep, still sitting on the floor, for there was
no furniture whatsoever in the room; and the day was just breaking when
a noise in the yard outside awakened us.

Looking out from between the bars we saw Benson, who was placing a
ladder against the building, directly under our window.

"If he'd only come near enough for me to hit one blow!" Phil muttered
between his teeth, and I wished we might have so much satisfaction as
that, even while knowing he would never give us such an opportunity.

"I'm not counting on starving you Yankees," the villain said with a
laugh, "and yet I'm no such fool as to open the door long enough to
shove in food. You see I'm running this business alone, for the profits
are not large enough to permit of my hiring a clerk, therefore some of
my arrangements are not really convenient. I'm going to pass you the end
of a rope. Then I can stand on the ground and serve you with food and
water to be hauled up."

"I wonder if he thinks we'll indulge him in his monkey shines?" Phil
whispered angrily; and I, suddenly realizing that we could only succeed
in biting our own noses if we went contrary to Benson's commands, said
hurriedly in a low tone:--

"Hold your tongue! We're bound to eat and drink if we count on making
any effort at getting away. Take what he gives us, and we may thereby
keep up our strength to be used in case an opportunity for escape
presents itself."

By this time Benson was nearly at the top of the ladder; but he took
good care not to come within reach of our fists.

He passed in to us a half-inch Manila rope, and I seized the end,
whereupon the villain descended and bent on a small tin vessel filled
with what appeared to be a stew of beans and other vegetables.

"When you've hauled in, let down the rope again and I'll send you up
some water," Benson cried; and I obeyed his commands in silence.

When we had thus been served, he said in the tone of one who imparts
pleasing information:--

"You'll have to get along without me to-day, for I'm counting on
catching two or three more Yankees before sunset."

Phil shook his fist at the scoundrel; but I, without knowing exactly
why, felt a certain amount of satisfaction because he reckoned on making
more prisoners.

Then the fellow disappeared from view, and Phil said angrily:--

"I hope our messmates will have more sense than we displayed when we
agreed to let him show us the town."

"And I'm hoping he'll make a big haul."

Phil gazed at me in anger and astonishment, whereupon I hastened to
explain myself.

"There is no doubt but that he can easily do with us as he has proposed,
and our officers will make no great effort to find two boys who are
believed to have deserted. If that scoundrelly Britisher can capture
half a dozen of our crew there'll be a big stir aboard ship, and, in
addition, he won't be able to work his will with so many. One or more
may succeed in escaping, and then the truth will be known."

Phil's face brightened wonderfully, for he had not looked at the matter
in that light before, and without further conversation we set about
making a hearty breakfast.

Once our stomachs were filled, hope revived. We were eager that a large
number of our men might be entrapped by Benson, and discussed the
possibility of his success with as much zest as he might have done.

Then, after two hours or more had elapsed, we began to reflect that it
would not be possible for a lad like him to scrape acquaintance with men
as easily as he had with us boys, and we grew despondent once more.

Finally I gave up all belief that he could entice any of the crew into
his prison, and said with more of hope in my tones than was actually in
my heart:--

"Two great hulking lads like ourselves should be able to get out of an
ordinary house! If this place had been built for a jail, the situation
would be changed; but it is no more than an ordinary dwelling, and I
dare say these bars are not set in the wall so solidly but that we can
succeed in moving them."

"Tell me how to go about it, and I'll do my best; but I fail to
understand how we can accomplish anything."

Phil's despair served to give me what was very like courage; and even
though there was but little hope in my heart that we could effect
anything, I spoke as if certain of success.

"We have our knives, and with such tools many a man has worked his way
toward freedom. The mortar which holds the wall in place can be picked
out in time, and Benson won't have a chance to sell us for several days
after the _Essex_ leaves port."

"It would require a month of hard work to loosen even one of these
stones," Phil replied gloomily.

"We shall be better off by making some effort at escape, even though we
never succeed. It is almost cowardly to sit here idle, waiting until
that villain can entrap our comrades."

Having said this I set myself at work pricking out particles of mortar
with the point of my knife; and although the work progressed but slowly,
I could soon see some slight results.

Phil watched me listlessly until I had taken out as much as would fill
a large spoon, and then he began to see that the task was possible if we
had sufficient time.

"It's better than doing nothing," he said, as if the idea was his own,
and at once began upon the seam of mortar next that on which I was

Occupation of some kind was what we most needed; and as the moments wore
on we increased our efforts until, when the sun marked the hour of noon,
we had made quite a showing, although at the expense of grinding away
our knife-points.

We had worked upon that stone which held the side bar in place, and if
it might be removed we would have an aperture not less than eight inches
in width. As a matter of course, neither of us could pass through such a
narrow space; but if two of the bars were pulled out, then was the way

We were both resting from our labors when I was seized by a sudden
thought, and cried exultantly:--

"We can escape if no time is wasted!"

"I can't see but that the situation is much the same as when we were
first thrust into this place," Phil said gloomily.

"So it is; but since the villanous Benson passed us the rope, I'm of the
idea that we can do considerable work."


"We have surely done something toward loosening the stones. Now, if we
make the rope fast to the lower end of the bar, and also to the handle
of the door, one or the other must give way when we get purchase

"Yes, I reckon all that is true; but we're no more likely to get a
purchase on it than we are to walk out of here this minute."

"I believe it can be done."

"Then the handle of the door will give way first."

This was rather in the nature of a wet blanket on my hopes; but I would
not admit that the plan had any defects which might not be rectified,
and set about solving the problem.

Finally I hit upon a plan,--not anything very brilliant, but a makeshift
which might possibly serve our purpose.

Doubling the rope, I made one end fast to the bar set into the stone we
had been working upon, and the other end I bent on to the corresponding
bar in the next window, hauling it taut as possible.

"With our feet against the lower edge of the window we should be able to
fetch something away," I said in a hopeful tone; "and even though we
fail at first, the plan is sure to succeed after we've picked out a
little more of the mortar."

Well, we tugged and strained to the utmost of our strength for ten
minutes or more, and then, just as I had said to myself that we never
could succeed, one end of the bar started ever so slightly.

"It can be done!" Phil cried exultantly, and would have bent himself
once more for a supreme effort but that I stopped him.

"There's little chance we could pull two bars out before sunset, and if
the job is but half done when Benson comes back, he'll understand what
we're trying to do. A fellow who makes a business of trapping men won't
stop at anything, however desperate, in order to prevent his villany
from being known to the authorities."

"Well, are we to sit here idle?" Phil asked angrily.

"Not a bit of it! We'll amuse ourselves picking mortar from the next
seam, and thus have both stones loosened by nightfall. After dark we can
yank two bars out, or I'm mistaken."

Now it seemed as if liberty was near at hand; and after I had cast off
the rope that we might be able to lower it from the window in case
Benson proposed to give us any more food, we set to work on the
difficult task of scraping away the hard mortar.

It must not be supposed that we removed any very great amount during
this long day; but we had laid bare a deep seam, and thus accomplished
more than I had at first believed would be possible.

When evening had come there was no doubt in my mind but that we could,
by aid of the rope, wrench away the bars, and I felt brave as a lion
when footsteps on the stairs outside told that the scoundrelly Benson
was returning.

"He didn't succeed in trapping any one else!" Phil said jubilantly. "We
were the only fools on board the _Essex_."

"Hello in there!" Benson cried out; and I said gruffly:--

"Well, what do you want?"

"It's well to let you know that I'm around. Your ship is ready to leave
port in the morning, and forty-eight hours later you two duffers will be
getting an idea of whale fishing."

"Which will be better than staying here forced to listen to the voice of
a cur like you!" Phil replied.

"That little show of temper will cost you your supper," Benson cried in
a rage. "I'll starve you into submission, if you turn rusty, so have a

"I reckon you've lost your temper because of not finding any more fools
among the crew of the _Essex_!"

"I don't keep all my birds in one cage."

"But you've got all from the _Essex_ in this one, and we two make up the
list," Phil cried with a laugh, for he was finding considerable sport in
thus baiting the villain.

"Better keep a quiet tongue in your head," I whispered, "otherwise he
might come inside and see what we've been doing."

"I only wish he would!" and Phil flourished his knife in a manner which
told what he would do if our enemy should be so indiscreet as to come
within striking distance.

Benson stalked to and fro in the hallway when we ceased to reply to his
jibes, and after half an hour or more we heard him descending the stairs

Then, by gazing through the bars, we could see that he had gone into the
enclosure,--most likely to make certain everything was as he had left
it; and we listened to the noise of his movements until all was silent
once more.

"He's gone out in the hope of catching such of our men as have
overstayed their shore leave," Phil whispered. "Now is our time to
begin work with the rope."

I insisted that we wait ten minutes longer, to make it more certain the
scoundrel had left the building, and then we began the task which I
confidently expected would result in our release.

The rope was made fast as before, and we two laid hold of it with a
will; but haul and pull as we would, the bars remained firmly in place.
That one which we had started during the afternoon was immovable, and
the perspiration was running down our faces in tiny streams before we
were ready to admit that the plan was a failure.

"He'll work his will with us," Phil said with a sob as we ceased our
efforts and stood facing each other in the darkness. "We can't get out!"

"Don't lose your courage so soon. We can work at the mortar all day
to-morrow, and then I'm certain the bars will yield."

"By that time the _Essex_ will have left port."

"Other American vessels put in here, and surely we can work our way home
without being forced to serve on board a whaler. Besides, the _Essex_ is
likely to visit this port more than once before her work in the Pacific
is concluded."

Phil would not be soothed, and he turned from me impatiently just as I
fancied a low whistle sounded outside, near the garden wall.

In an instant I was at the window, pressing my face against the bars
until the iron made great ridges on my cheeks; but the silence was
profound, and I believed that which I heard was nothing more than the

Turning from the window in disappointment, I was about to speak to Phil,
when the whistle sounded again, low and soft, but so distinctly that
there could be no mistake.

Phil heard it as I did, and we two sprang to the gratings once more,
expecting, hoping, to hear the voices of our messmates.

Everything was silent, and I stood there like a simple fully thirty
seconds before gathering sufficient sense to speak. Then I cried

"_Essex_ ahoy!"

"Ahoy in the shanty!" a voice replied, and I sank to my knees in fervent
thanksgiving, for I recognized the tones of Master Hackett. Now, even
though we might not be released, it would be known aboard ship that we
had not deserted.

"Where are you?" the old seaman asked in a loud whisper, after remaining
silent a few seconds.

"At a window just above the height of the wall," Phil replied, and then
a happy thought came to me.

"We've got a half-inch rope here, Master Hackett, and can let it down if
perchance you might be able to use it."

"If an old shellback like me can't use a rope, I'd like to see the man
who can. Let it down, lads, an' move lively, for I've had hard work to
keep out of the course of a British cub who's been actin' in a way that
don't seem honest."

While he spoke I was lowering the rope over the wall, and when Master
Hackett sung out that he had it, we belayed the remaining portion to a
couple of the bars, knowing full well that the old man would soon appear
at the top of the wall unless some one on the street interfered with

Nor were we mistaken. Before I could have counted ten he was clutching
the bars of our prison, asking how we chanced to be in such a scrape.

In the fewest possible words I explained how we had been trapped and
what Benson proposed to do with us; whereupon the old man said half to

"Now I can see what he was after when he came rubbin' alongside some of
us, offerin' to show fine sights if we'd go with him. But instead of
standin' here yarnin', I reckon we'd better get you out of the trap."

"Wouldn't it be well to report on board that we've been made prisoners,
and ask that a squad of men be sent on shore?" Phil asked timidly. "If
Benson should get an inkling of your being here, he'd make more trouble
for us in some way; and it won't pay to take any chances."

"I don't count on takin' any more'n is wholesome, an' at the same time
ain't willin' to flash up on board with the yarn that I couldn't get the
best of one Britisher, an' him in a foreign country."

Then Master Hackett made an examination of the bars, after which he
suddenly disappeared from view, and, to my great surprise, I saw that,
pulling the rope inside the wall, he had slipped into the enclosure.

Now he was almost as much of a prisoner as were we; and if the Britisher
should come back, the old man might find himself in tight quarters, for
it was reasonable to suppose that a man engaged in such a villanous
business as was Benson always went well armed.

However, it was destined that Master Hackett should not be disturbed;
and we could see him faintly in the darkness, moving here and there as
if in search of something.

Then he placed the ladder against the wall, and when he had ascended to
the level of our window we saw that he had with him a short piece of

Using this as a lever, after we had told him which bars we had been
working on, he forced the iron rods from their sockets in short order,
thus making for us an open door through which we could pass to the top
of the wall.


"You can come out now," the old man said with a chuckle, "an' the next
time you're in a strange port I reckon you'll be more careful about
followin' them as agree to give a free blow-out."

It can readily be imagined that we lost no time in acting upon the
suggestion, and by the aid of the rope we slid down to the ground,
exulting in the sense of freedom.

Master Hackett led us into one of the main streets, and while doing so
explained that when we failed to return to the ship on time he suspected
we had fallen into trouble, although more than one of the men suggested
that we had deserted.

"I didn't reckon you were the kind of lads who'd turn around in that
fashion, an' so got permission to come ashore for a spell, agreein' to
report to-morrow mornin' if I hadn't come across anything that would
show why you'd failed to turn up. Then it was I run across that
Britisher, an' found he was mighty anxious to give me a free spree. It
was that which made me believe he could tell somethin' about you, an' I
set about findin' where he lived. It wasn't any easy matter for an old
shellback to follow that sneak, who had good reason for thinkin' some of
us might want to know where he anchored hisself nights; but I managed
the traverse in fair shape, an' here we are."

"Can we go on board the _Essex_ to-night?" Phil asked.

"I reckon we might by hirin' a boatman; but there's no reason why we
need be in a hurry."

"I'd rather be on the gun-deck than in this town," Phil replied with a
shudder, and at that instant, just as we were turning a corner, we came
face to face with Oliver Benson, the young Britisher who made a business
of selling Yankee seamen to English whalers.

My first impulse was to run away, but before I could so much as move
Master Hackett had leaped upon the villain, and then I would not have
beat a retreat no matter what might have been the cost of remaining.

I joined the fray, for the Britisher immediately began to fight
desperately; and during several moments the three of us had quite as
much of a task as we could perform, for Benson was armed with a wicked
looking knife, and knew right well how to use it.

But for Phil, the villain would have succeeded in stabbing Master
Hackett in the back while the two were locked in each other's embrace;
but once his weapon was taken from him, the scoundrel showed signs of

"Don't give him a chance to play us any tricks," the old man said as he
unknotted his neckerchief preparatory to binding Benson's hands behind
his back; and I wondered greatly why we should burden ourselves with a
prisoner in a town where, for aught we knew, he might have many friends
or accomplices.



This taking a prisoner in a friendly port was, as I considered the
matter for the moment, a serious affair, and without waiting to reflect
I advised Master Hackett to let the fellow go free.

"He can't do us any more harm, and we'll warn others as to his scheme.
There's no knowing how much of a row may be kicked up by our depriving
him of his liberty."

"That's no more'n he did to you, an' the chances are that many a poor
fellow is eatin' his heart out aboard a British whaler because of him.
We've got the scoundrel fast, an' I count on keepin' him so, at least
until after he's been brought face to face with Captain Porter."

Benson spoke no word; the pallor of his face told that he was afraid,
and if we had not known it before, we understood then that at heart he
was a thorough coward.

I expected each instant that he would call for help, and there were
enough rough characters around Valparaiso to give us no end of trouble
in case they espoused his cause.

But Benson remained silent, therefore after a time I came to believe he
did not stand on very good terms with the inhabitants of the town, and
had good reason for thinking his summons would not be answered by aid.
This last surmise of mine was soon found to be very nearly correct, as
will presently be seen.

After tying the Britisher's hands behind his back, Master Hackett seized
him by the arm and led the way toward the shore, followed closely, as
may be supposed, by Phil and me.

It was near to midnight; the peace-loving inhabitants of the town were
asleep, and the rougher element must have had a rendezvous at some
distance from the water's edge, for we did not meet a single person
until after having walked to and fro on the shore half an hour or more
shouting for a boatman.

Then a sleepy looking fellow lounged up to Master Hackett, professing
his willingness to do whatsoever might be required, providing a
sufficient amount of money was forthcoming.

He had no more than given us to understand this much when a moonbeam
lighted up Benson's face, and in an instant the boatman was animated.

"Where did you get that fellow?" he asked of Master Hackett in Spanish,
and the latter replied in the same language, repeating the conversation
to Phil and me after we were on board the _Essex_; but for the time we
were completely in the dark so far as understanding the drift of the
talk was concerned.

"We picked him up a short distance from here," the old seaman replied.
"He had jugged two boys belongin' to our ship, countin' on sellin' 'em
to British whalers after the _Essex_ left port."

"I know him for a villain, an' have had it in mind that he spent his
time shanghaing sailors, but never could bring it home to him. His game
doesn't stop at Yankees; for when there are none in port he'll pick up
anybody, so it's said."

"Then you have no objections to carryin' him aboard the ship?"

"What will you do with him there?"

"Let the captain settle his hash. We've got good proof of what he's been
up to, an' I promise you he won't be treated any too gently."

"I'll carry you an' him out to the ship for nothing, if by so doing we
can rid ourselves of the villain."

"I can't say whether the captain will take him out of your way; but you
may be certain it'll go hard with him."

Until some time later Phil and I were surprised at seeing the boatman
scurrying around as if we had been commissioned officers who promised a
big fee; and he it was who tossed Benson on board the small boat with no
more ceremony than he would have used in handling a bundle of

In a twinkling we were hailed by the sentry on board the _Essex_, so
rapidly did the boatman work his oars, and Master Hackett gave such an
account of his party as gained us permission to come up the gangway

Not seeing the old seaman offer to pay the man for having pulled us out
to the ship, I took one of the silver shillings from my pocket, offering
it to him; but he shook his head as he pointed with a grin to where
Master Hackett stood arm in arm with Benson.

The remainder of the night was spent by the Britisher in the prison of
the ship, or, as a sailor would put it, "in the brig"; and we two lads,
after hearing from the old seaman a literal translation of the
conversation he had had with the boatman, tumbled into our hammocks with
thankful hearts.

A few hours previous it had seemed certain we would be sent on board a
whaler, while our friends believed us deserters, and now we were in our
proper stations once more. Surely, Master Hackett had repaid whatsoever
of a debt he might have owed us for jumping over the rail to rescue him!

The reception we met with from our messmates next morning was well
calculated to make lads feel proud. Every man jack came up with some
pleasant word as if we were particular friends with all the crew; and
many were the hopes expressed that the Britisher, Benson, would get such
sauce as he deserved.

There was never a man on board who did not believe our captain would
deal out the most severe punishment in his power, yet it was agreed by
the idlers on the gun-deck that if the villain was let off too easily,
they would ask for permission to go on shore again and make it their
duty to trim him in proper fashion.

The yarn which had been told Phil and me regarding the sailing of the
_Essex_ was a hoax. She was taking on board provisions for a long
cruise, and it was hardly probable could be got under way for two or
three days at the earliest.

Half an hour after inspection one of the marines brought the word
forward that Phil and I were to go aft for an interview with the
captain; and while it was no more than we had been expecting, both of us
were considerably excited by the prospect.

We were rigged out in our best bibs and tuckers, Master Hackett himself
seeing to it that our hats were properly tilted on "three hairs," and
half a dozen of the older men inspecting us gravely to make certain we
were togged in shipshape and Bristol fashion.

We found the captain with half a dozen of the officers, among whom was
my cousin, Stephen McKnight, seated around a large table in the after
cabin, looking grave as owls; and certain it is that I was trembling
like a leaf when I bowed and scraped in such fashion as Master Hackett
had said was proper.

"Well, lads," the captain said, speaking as if he believed we were as
good as himself, "I understand that you had quite an adventure ashore
yesterday, and were near coming to grief."

"Yes, sir," I replied, after waiting in vain for Phil to speak, and my
voice quivered till it was like a wheezy flute.

"Tell us the whole story from the time you left Hackett, and do not be
afraid of making it too long."

Again I waited for Phil; but since he showed no signs of piping up I was
obliged to spin the yarn, for it would never have done to keep the
captain waiting.

All hands were still as mice while I told of our meeting with Benson;
and to make certain they'd believe me, I made Phil pipe up from time to
time with his, "That's true, sir," or, "It's all as Ezra says, sir."

When I was at the end of the yarn,--and it was a long one, as you may
believe, for I told every little detail from our meeting with Benson
until we were on board ship again,--the captain said, as polite as a

"You may go, lads, and send Hackett aft."

Phil came very near tumbling over me as he tried to get out of the cabin
in a hurry; and we were hardly more than amidships before we met Master
Hackett, togged out within an inch of his life.

"The captain has sent for you, sir," I said with all due respect; and
instead of making any reply, the old fellow turned on his heel stiff as
a ramrod, walking aft till his bowlegs cut a perfect circle.

Once on the gun-deck again we two lads were forced to tell the idlers
all that had occurred; and we were no sooner done with our yarn than
Master Hackett appeared, looking much as if he had just been made master
of a prize.

With all his fine looks and lordly manner, he could not tell the idlers
more than we had already done, and all hands of us were forced to wait
in suspense until some long-eared marine should come forward with his
budget of news gathered by eavesdropping.

Half an hour later the crew of the cutter was called away to carry
Lieutenant Downes ashore; and when that officer came back No. 4 boat was
manned, and the prisoner, Benson, put on board.

It was not until the next day that we learned the whole of the story,
and then all hands were satisfied that justice would be done by the
Chilian authorities in such a fashion that the Britisher would for some
time be unable to continue his scheme of catching Yankees.

What we finally learned was much like this: Having inquired into the
case thoroughly, as I have already set down, Captain Porter was
convinced that a flogging would be too slight punishment for such a
villain as Benson, and Mr. Downes made an official report of the case to
the authorities of the port. Those officers promised that the
enterprising Britisher should be imprisoned with hard labor for a year
at the very least; and that this was done, Master Hackett, Phil, and I
knew before the _Essex_ left port, for we three visited the jail and saw
the scoundrel picking oakum under charge of well-armed keepers.

He glanced out of the corner of his eye at us for a single second, and
then looked steadily at his work, nor could we provoke him into
speaking. I thought at the time, however, and had good reason to
remember it afterward, that if the opportunity should ever present
itself for him to get one or all three of us into his power, he would
not be likely to show us much mercy.

It was on the day we visited the jail that the brig _Jane_, an American
whaler, came into port, and from her master Captain Porter learned very
much which it was necessary he should know. It was reported that nearly
all the British whalers were armed and provided with letters of marque,
which really put them on a footing with ships of war; and, unless their
plans were speedily nipped in the bud, all the vessels hailing from the
United States would be captured. In fact one of them had already been
seized, the Britisher having no difficulty in coming alongside because
the Yankee craft had been so long at sea that her commander had no idea
war had been proclaimed.

Captain Porter did not linger after receiving such information. He had
proposed to put additional stores on board; but now decided that he
could not afford to spend any more time in port, and immediately signals
were hoisted recalling those who were in the town on shore leave.

Master Hackett, Phil, and I were no more than on board before the
_Essex_ was under way, and I believe of a verity we would have been left
behind had we loitered half an hour longer.

We had been at sea two days when we spoke the Yankee whaleship
_Charles_, and ran so close alongside that it was possible to hail her,
when the skipper was summoned on board to give information.

A more surprised set of men than those who rowed the Nantucket captain
over to us, I never saw. They stared at the _Essex_ in open-mouthed
amaze, and fired volleys of questions at us as we overhung the rail,
knowing full well that we could get the same news from these men as was
being dealt out in the cabin to our commander.

Not until after we had explained the meaning of our being in the
Pacific, however, could we get any information, and then we learned that
there was work in plenty before us.

A Peruvian corsair, in company with an armed British brig, had already
captured the ships _Walker_ and _Barclay_ while they were cruising off
Coquimbo, and unless we took a hand the entire Yankee fleet would soon
be gobbled up.

The Nantucket skipper did not stay in the cabin more than half an hour;
and immediately he was over the rail, our ship was being brought around
"to take a hand in the fun," as Master Hackett announced, while the
_Charles_ followed in the wake of the _Essex_.

It can readily be imagined that all hands were in a fine state of
excitement by this time, knowing as we did that our work was cut out for
us; but we counted on cruising two or three days at the very least
before coming up with an enemy.

Our surprise was quite as great as our pleasure, when, not more than
three hours later, and while the _Charles_ was within two miles of us,
we sighted the Peruvian vessel to the northward.

In a twinkling we ran up the British colors to coax her within striking
distance; and the captain of the _Charles_ showed himself to be quite as
shrewd as are Nantucket men in general, for no sooner was our false
ensign straightened out than he hoisted the English flag over the stars
and stripes, thus making it appear as if he had been captured by us.

The Peruvian fell into the trap at once, and came down upon us in fine
style, throwing a shot ahead of the _Essex_ when he was about a mile
away. It was carrying matters with a high hand; but I reckon Captain
Porter wasn't very greatly displeased, since it only made our work more

Orders were at once given to pitch three shots directly over the
stranger as a token for him to come nearer, which the Peruvian did, at
the same time sending an armed boat to board us.

Every man jack of us, save those at the starboard guns, were on deck
when the boat came alongside, a lieutenant in full rig standing in the
stern-sheets, and thus it was Phil and I heard all that was said between
this fine fellow and our commander.

Captain Porter professed to be in a towering rage; he ordered the
lieutenant to go back at once with an order for the Peruvian to run
under our lee, and then send an officer on board to apologize for having
dared to fire at an English man-of-war.

How that fellow scurried back! He never so much as suspected that we
were other than what had been represented, and in the shortest possible
space of time another lieutenant, wearing so much gold lace that he
looked like a brazen image, came up the gangway ladder grinning and
bowing like an ape.

Captain Porter received him on the quarter, but never so much as invited
him into the cabin, and Phil and I crowded well aft to hear what we
allowed would be a mighty interesting conversation.

The lieutenant reported that his ship was the Peruvian privateer
_Nereyda_, armed with fifteen guns, and carrying a full crew. They were
cruising for Americans, he said, and had already captured two,--the
_Walker_ and the _Barclay_; but the British letter of marque _Nimrod_, a
whaler, had driven their prize crew from the _Walker_ and taken
possession of her. The Peruvian had mistaken us for the _Nimrod_, and
fired for the purpose of showing that they did not count on having their
prizes taken from them in such an unceremonious fashion.

It puzzled me to make out how the Peruvians, who were under Spanish
rule, dared to attack our vessels while Spain was not at war with the
United States; but the old sea lawyers of the gun-deck explained matters
that evening to their entire satisfaction, by saying the Peruvians must
have believed that Spain, who was so dependent upon England, would soon
declare war against us because the king of Great Britain had done so,
and this would make the capture of the whalers legal.

Whether that was the right view of the case or not, I can't say; but it
satisfied our old shellbacks, and that was enough.

But to go back to the Peruvian lieutenant who stood on the quarter
shaking hands with himself because he had straightened out the matter of
having fired on us. I suppose he thought our captain would pat him on
the back for being engaged in the work of destroying Yankee whalers, and
was most likely counting on being invited into the cabin to a blow-out
of the best from the officers' stores.

It was comical to see the fellow jump when Captain Porter gave a signal
for the British ensign to be hauled down and the stars and stripes run
up! He stared first at the flag, and then at the men amidships who were
watching him, until our gun-deck crowd laughed aloud.

Captain Porter scowled, for it wasn't good manners to make sport of a
prisoner, and then told the Peruvian who we were, although there was
little need of that after he had seen our flag.

The next minute orders were given to pitch a couple of shots over the
_Nereyda_, and down came her colors as if our balls had cut away the
halliards. They didn't care to dispute the question, but surrendered
off-hand, as if afraid we might take it into our heads to sink their
piratical craft.

After that, and until three hours were passed, our men had a lively time
taking the privateer's crew aboard the _Essex_ and stowing them in the
cages on the lower deck. It was good practice for Lieutenant Downes's
fleet of boats, and he did all the work, us idlers overhanging the rail
as we watched the sport.

When all this had been done and the ship's brig was literally packed
with prisoners, Lieutenant McKnight, my cousin, was sent on board the
_Nereyda_ with a prize crew, and all three vessels (for the Nantucket
skipper hung close to us, as if eager to take part in a fight) stood
inshore to look into Coquimbo with the hope of finding there the
_Nimrod_ and her prizes.

I had almost forgotten to say that when the _Nereyda_ was overhauled,
our men found in the privateer's brig the master and crew of the
captured ship _Barclay_. Of course they were brought on board the
_Essex_, the officers being quartered aft, and the men messing with us
of the gun-deck. A mighty happy crowd they were on finding themselves on
an American man-of-war, after feeling certain they'd be sent to a
Spanish prison.

From them we learned that there were no less than twenty-three Yankee
whalers in the Pacific, and fully twenty Britishers, all of the
last-named being heavily armed and on the lookout to capture our ships.
The Englishmen were neglecting the fishery, so the newcomers told us, in
order to catch a Yankee, and the _Essex_ hadn't arrived an hour too
soon. Surely, it seemed as if our misfortune in not meeting Commodore
Bainbridge was a blessing in disguise.

Well, we didn't find in the harbor of Coquimbo that for which we were
searching, and the captain of the _Charles_, disappointed in not getting
an opportunity to take part in a scrimmage, hauled off to attend to the

There was no reason why we should hold possession of the Peruvian, and
good cause why we ought to give her up, for we were not at war with
Spain; therefore, after our unsuccessful visit to Coquimbo, the two
ships were hove to within a mile of each other, that Lieutenant Downes's
fleet might gain more experience in handling their boats.

In the first place, all the privateer's ammunition, shot, small arms,
and light sails were thrown overboard, which left that craft in such
shape that she couldn't do much harm to anything except herself, and
then her crew was sent on board once more. One of the marines told us
that Captain Porter had made the officers of the _Nereyda_ swear to
deliver a letter to the viceroy of Peru as the price of their liberty,
and in that letter our commander denounced the conduct of the
privateer's captain, insisting that he be punished for having acted as a

Both Phil and I would like very much to know if that letter was ever
delivered, and in case the officers kept their promise, what was done
with them for having made prizes of vessels belonging to a nation with
which Spain was not at war.

There was no need for any one to ask what our course would be after
parting company with the Peruvian cruiser. Captain Porter would search
for the captured Yankees, as a matter of fact; and the only question in
the minds of us on the gun-deck was as to where he would look for them.

It goes without saying that our old shellbacks wagged their tongues
furiously over this, and finally it was settled among them that the
_Essex_ must perforce cruise around the island of San Gallan. It was
exactly this which our commander did, and those who had predicted it
plumed their feathers mightily at showing so much seamanship.

Well, we made good headway until the 28th day of March, with nothing of
interest occurring save that half the crew were constantly on the
lookout for the captured vessels, and then we were well up with San
Gallan. On this day we hauled off to the northward and westward,
counting to cross the track of inward-bound craft.

It appeared that again were we just in the nick of time, for in less
than sixteen hours after changing the course we sighted three sail
standing for Callao.

It was a case of prize money and no mistake, for there wasn't one chance
in an hundred that either of the strangers was a Yankee, and there was
some lively jumping and hauling as we put the _Essex_ in trim for a
stiff chase.

The crew of the _Barclay_ declared that the craft nearest was the one
which had been taken from them by the Peruvian, and Captain Porter set
about cutting her out, regardless of others.

During four hours we had a most exciting time of it, and then it began
to look very much as if we would get the worst end of the bargain. I
wish I was able to set down here a picture of our ship and crew as we
stood with our eyes fixed on the chase, save at such times as it became
necessary to perform some task; but it is beyond a thickheaded lad like
me. One must needs take part in such a race in order to understand all
the sensations which come to a fellow as he watches eagerly the progress
of the craft, trembling with excitement lest the chase will escape, and
then feeling the cold shivers run down his spine as he realizes that
when he is once where he wants to be, he may, perhaps, be called upon
to scrape an acquaintance with death; for if all the enemy in those
waters were heavily armed, it was not probable every one would fall into
our hands as readily as had the Peruvian privateer.

It was the "luck of the _Essex_," so Master Hackett declared, which
enabled us to win that race; for when the chase doubled the point of San
Lorenzo we were fully three miles astern, and the most sanguine among us
believed that she'd gain harbor before we could run near enough to fire
a shot.

We kept on, however, as if believing our chances were of the best,
although knowing that in a short time we would be in the unfriendly port
of Callao, and ten minutes later Master Hackett cried out the words I
have just set down. It was the "luck of the _Essex_" that the wind
should leave the chase as she rounded the point, and we brought a good
breeze with us until we were less than half a mile off.

Then Lieutenant Downes's command was called to quarters; the small fleet
of boats was lowered away, and the crew bent to the oars as if a fortune
of gold awaited every man jack of them.

We had no idea but that the chase would make some kind of a fight, and
yet, much though I disliked running my head into the path of a round
shot, so great was my excitement that I would have given all my small
possessions could I have been on board the foremost boat.

Nor was Phil Robbins behind me in enthusiasm. As the fleet got under way
he flung his arms around my neck and bawled in my ears as if I had
suddenly gone stone deaf:--

"Why couldn't it be our luck to be there! Why don't Lieutenant Downes
give us lads half a chance?"

I shook him off just as Master Hackett came near where we were standing,
and was about to make some impatient reply, for it seemed as if we lads
were receiving shabby treatment by being thus left out of all the good
things; but the old seaman interrupted me by saying:--

"You young cubs needn't howl because of not gettin' the thick end of all
that's goin' on. Unless our captain has changed from what he was as a
lieutenant when we licked the Turks, you'll get all the 'burnin' powder'
that's needed before this cruise comes to an end."

Phil and I were not greatly consoled at being thus told that our turn
would come by and by; but in our chagrin we did not lose sight of what
was taking place so near at hand.

We saw the boats as they approached the becalmed craft spread out like
a fan, that the attack, in case one was needed, might come from all
points at the same time; and to our great surprise the ship's colors
were struck before a gun had been fired.

She was the _Barclay_, as the blindest among us could see, for the name
was painted on her rail, and we had robbed the Peruvian privateer of
half her prizes!

Lieutenant Downes did not even take the trouble of sending the prize
crew off to us as prisoners. He put them beneath the hatches, hoisted
three of his boats inboard and sent the others back, signalling to know
what the next move was to be.

It was by long odds the tamest capture I ever saw, for not a single
grain of powder was burned, and there was no noise save when our crew
cheered the returning boats.

Captain Porter soon told, by means of the tiny signal flags, what he
expected of those who were in possession of the whaler. We hoisted the
British colors, and the _Barclay_ sent up the English ensign over the
stars and stripes, after which the wind breezed up with sufficient force
to carry us into Callao.

We were to enter the port as an Englishman with a prize, and there get
such information as might be useful.

It was my cousin Stephen who went ashore with a boat's crew, never
heeding the fact that both Phil and I were eager to go with him; and
when he came out, two hours later, signals were shown for both vessels
to gain an offing.

As we on the gun-deck afterward learned, the fact that the _Essex_ was
so far from home had not yet been made known along the coast, and our
commander was not the kind of a man to dawdle in port when he might be
out attending to business.

Once we had gained a good offing, the officers and crew of the _Barclay_
were given the opportunity to go on board their own craft; but nearly
all of them decided to remain with us, and some of our people were
drafted to man her.

It seems, as we soon came to know, that the captain of the _Barclay_
proposed that his ship cruise with us, acting as pilot to point out the
enemy, and this proposition was accepted.

Captain Porter now had a fleet of two ships, and with them he stretched
off the coast to the northward and westward, hunting for whatsoever
might be picked up in the way of Britishers.

On that night, when our cruise was begun from a new point of departure,
the sea lawyers began to argue as to what should be done now we were on
profitable grounds, and before it was time to turn in they had settled
to their own satisfaction all that our commander should or should not

I was tired with hearing their tongues wag, and had turned to go further
aft where the chin music was not so loud, when Phil came up, the
expression on his face telling plainly that he had some important matter
in mind.

"You're to go to your cousin to-morrow morning, Ezra, and beg of him
that we be given permission to join Lieutenant Downes's fleet. It is not
fair that we should miss all the most exciting portion of the work by
being forced to remain aboard the _Essex_ when there are prizes to be

"It may be exciting enough if we fall afoul of a Britisher who is in
trim to fight," I said grimly, not minded to let him know how sore my
heart was because we had not been selected by Lieutenant Downes when he
drafted his crew.

"Master Hackett says we won't see a real fight this side of Cape Horn,
because there's nothing here with metal enough to stand us off, except
the British 64-gun _Standard_, and it's reported that she has already
left Lima, bound for England."

"We may find some craft that will show her teeth, despite all Master
Hackett says," I replied, little dreaming how nearly the truth I was



It would please me greatly to be able to go into all the details of what
was done by the officers and crew of the _Essex_ while a new fleet was
being gotten together, for we did actually collect a squadron of vessels
while so far from the home port; but we met with so many startling
adventures, each of which would be of greater interest to a stranger
than the setting down exactly how that or the other vessel was captured,
that I shall tell this portion of the yarn as briefly as possible.

First let me say, however, that Phil Robbins and I were treated by the
men on the gun-deck more as shipmates and less like boys after our
adventure in Valparaiso, although why there should have been any change
I am wholly unable to say, for we did nothing of moment, save to show,
by our willingness to accompany Benson when he baited the trap for us,
that we were more simple than lads of our age ought to have been.

It is not to be supposed that the old shellbacks showed any very intense
desire to be with us, and sometimes plainly said that the room we
occupied was better than our company; but they spoke with us now and
then as if we were in fact shipmates, sometimes even going so far as to
tell us a particularly interesting yarn. It goes without saying that we
were forced to wait upon the whole boiling of them, and were seldom
allowed an idle hour; but, to describe the situation in a word, there
was a decided and agreeable change so far as we two lads were concerned.

After the _Barclay_ had been recaptured and remanned, we stood across
from the mainland toward the islands without meeting a craft of any
kind. On the 17th of April we made Chatham Island, but were not rewarded
by the sight of an enemy, and a few days later we hove to off Charles's
Island, where was located the whalers' post-office.

This last consisted only of a stout box nailed to a tree, where the
fishermen deposited letters for each other, or to be taken home by the
craft heading in that direction. Captain Porter did not hesitate to
rifle the "mail," and by so doing gained much valuable information
concerning the different ships in the Pacific.

We cruised around among the islands, seeing nothing which interested us
in the way of business, until the 29th of April, just at sunrise, when
all hands rushed on deck at the welcome cry of "Sail ho!" the first we
had heard since the day we came across the _Barclay_.

A large ship could be seen to the westward, and an hour after we began
the chase two other craft were sighted a trifle farther south.

With three ships in sight, and the odds in favor of all being enemies,
it can well be understood that we were in a fine state of excitement.

Until this time I had positively refused to do as Phil desired in the
way of asking my cousin, Lieutenant McKnight, to use his influence with
Lieutenant Downes to the end that we might be considered as members of
his fleet; but on this morning, when it seemed positive there would be
hot work in plenty before night, I plucked up sufficient courage, as my
kinsman was standing on the break of the quarter, to approach him.

It was the first time since we left port that I had ventured so far as
to speak to an officer without first being accosted, and Stephen--I mean
Lieutenant McKnight--looked surprised, as indeed he had good cause to
be, since it is not customary for boys aboard a man-of-war to address
familiarly those who are so far above them in station.

However, it so chanced that the lieutenant was in good humor, as he
should have been, with so many possible prizes in sight, and kindly
answered my salute by asking what I would have.

Had he been ashore and had I never sailed under his command, I should
have accosted him by the name of Stephen, and made known my wants
boldly; but now I stuttered and stammered like a simple, thus showing
what a difference a uniform and a commission can make.

After a time, however, I managed to say, he kindly encouraging me to
"speak up man fashion":--

"There's like to be much work for all hands before night, sir, and
Philip Robbins and I are sore at heart because of never having a chance
to prove that we can do more than falls to the lot of boys aboard ship."

"So!" the lieutenant said with a laugh. "You are growing down-hearted
because there isn't danger enough?"

"It's not exactly that, sir; but when danger does come, we want our full
share of it."

"Then you have no cause for complaint, lad. A round shot is as likely to
take you off as me; aboard ship we all run the same chances."

"But those who are under Lieutenant Downes when his fleet is called away
are likely to see more service and have better opportunities for earning
advancement," I stammered, whereat he laughed heartily, thus putting me
considerably more at my ease.

"You are eager to try your hand at close work?" he said, rather than
asked; and I fancied he was not displeased because I had ventured to
approach him on such an errand.

"That is what we most desire, sir," I replied. "If you could only
persuade Lieutenant Downes to take us with him when next the boats are
called away, I would do anything I could to repay you when we get

"But what would my uncle, your father, say when I saw him? Do you think
he is as eager that his son should be shot as you are?"

"We're not counting on that part of it, sir. All who come to close
quarters with an enemy are not shot, else you would never be standing on
this quarter-deck, wearing the uniform of a lieutenant."

He smiled at this bold speech of mine, whereat I plucked up courage
sufficient to continue by saying:--

"Unless you had been given an opportunity of showing what you could do,
a commission would never have come your way."

"Now we are getting at the real reason for this request!" he exclaimed
cheerily. "You and Robbins believe that by taking part in one sharp
engagement rapid advancement is assured?"

"We never will advance, sir, until we have shown ourselves worthy, and
there is no great chance of doing good work while we loiter on board
when others are paving their way to a commission."

"You speak right sensibly, Cousin Ezra," he said, in a tone which went
straight to my heart; for it proved that he had not forgotten the ties
of kinship which bound us, even though he was so much higher in station.
"I will do all I may properly to persuade Mr. Downes to take you under
his wing. If I succeed, remember that I would be equally shamed if you
showed the white feather."

"None of the McKnights have ever done anything of the kind, sir, and
it's not likely your cousin would be the first to write himself down a

"I begin to believe that you're of the right sort, Ezra; and if you
don't make your way in the navy, it won't be because I haven't done my
share toward it."

Surely, a lad could not ask for a fairer promise than that; and after
saluting properly I went forward, feeling remarkably well pleased with

I found Phil on the forecastle-deck, and the lad was so overjoyed by the
news, having come to believe I would never dare ask such a favor of my
cousin, that he would have kissed me then and there, but I sprang back
in time to prevent an exhibition which must have made us the
laughing-stock of all our messmates.

From this time on it can well be imagined that we watched the chase with
even more of interest than would ordinarily have been displayed, and
Phil said again and again that he hoped the wind would die away, so we
might be called to the boats.

If all his wishes could have been granted so quickly, he might have
counted himself the most fortunate lad in all the world.

We rapidly overhauled the ship first sighted, and it was no more than
nine o'clock in the morning when we came within half a mile, pitching a
shot across her bows which brought her to in short order.

The _Essex_ was run within hailing distance, and then we learned that
our prize was the British whaleship _Montezuma_, with fourteen hundred
barrels of oil on board.

We could not afford to spend very much time on her because the other two
craft were near at hand, and without further ceremony than that of
hailing to learn who she was, a prize crew was called away to board her.

We waited only long enough to make certain our men were not opposed
when they went over the rail, and then the _Essex_ was headed for the
other ships, both of whom were clawing off at the best possible speed.

For two hours we cracked on every inch of canvas that could be spread,
overhauling the strangers in fine style, and then, while we were yet
fully eight miles distant, Phil's wish was granted. The wind died away
so suddenly that, save for the general excitement of taking prizes, all
hands would have been on the lookout for a squall, and Phil cried in my

"Now we shall see something of real business. Those craft won't submit
tamely to our small boats, and we shall know what a sea-fight is like!"

I believed he spoke only the truth, and once more the cold shivers
chased themselves up and down my backbone; for despite all the fine
words with which I had regaled my cousin, I was not really hankering to
put myself in the way of the smallest shot that might be fired. The
mischief had been done, however, and by no one but myself; therefore the
least I could do was to look pleasant, although I hoped most fervently
that Mr. Downes would give no heed to my cousin's request.

In this last I was most wofully disappointed, for Phil had hardly more
than ceased speaking when a marine came to summon me aft.

I went, knowing full well why the order had been sent, and blaming
myself for a meddling fool, when by holding my tongue I might have
remained safe and sound on board the _Essex_ instead of pulling a heavy
oar two or three hours simply that the Britishers could have an
opportunity to kill me.

Lieutenant Downes was on the quarter talking with Captain Porter when I
came up, and not until his interview with the commander was come to an
end did he turn toward me. Then it was to say:--

"So you and your comrade are eager for a taste of boat-work?"

I could do no less than agree with him after all the fine speeches I had
made to my cousin; and he said, as if believing he was doing me a
wonderful favor:--

"When the boat crews are called away, you two lads will take your places
alongside me. I have promised Mr. McKnight to have an eye out on you
bloodthirsty youngsters, and it won't be my fault if he doesn't hear
exactly how you behaved under fire."

If I had not been on the quarter-deck I believe of a verity I should
have groaned; as it was I said to my miserable self that if we caught it
very hot, my cousin would wish I had never been born.

I thanked the lieutenant in a shaky voice, and, saluting, went forward
to wreak my vengeance on Phil for having persuaded me into such a scrape
when there was no sense in it.

I changed my mind very quickly after joining the lad; he, like me, had
grown faint-hearted now the opportunity for hot work was close at hand,
and I knew by the expression on his face that he regretted, as did I,
having made any such foolish request.

"I suppose we've got to go," he said in a faint tone; and the contrast
between his manner now and when I first told him what my cousin had
promised, was so comical that I could not keep my face straight. "It's
all very well for you who are really brave," he continued, believing
from the smile on my face that there was no fear in my heart; "but I
don't think I want to go."

Since he had given me the credit of being brave when, as a matter of
fact, I was more cowardly even than he, I did not propose to undeceive
him, but said as stoutly as possible:--

"You can't back out now, Phil, else every man on board will set you
down for the veriest kind of a coward."

"That's just what I am," he whispered, and again I laughed, this time
because I had earned the reputation of being stout-hearted when any lamb
would have outclassed me in that respect.

We were not given much time to mourn over the situation. Our
conversation was hardly more than come to its sorrowful end when the
word was given for the crews of the boats to stand ready, and we two
lads ranged ourselves meekly beside Mr. Downes.

We embarked in proper fashion once the boats came alongside, and were
stationed in the stern-sheets near the lieutenant, when it would have
been more to my liking had we been forced to work the oars; for by so
doing we might keep our thoughts from what seemed surely to be before

As I have said, it was about eleven o'clock when the wind died out, and
the _Essex_ was fully eight miles from the nearest stranger.

I could see that the men were settling to the oars for a long pull, and
the knowledge that whatsoever danger awaited us was an hour or more in
the future enabled me to keep my cowardly fears in check. Phil also
revived when he understood that some considerable time must elapse
before we had come within range of the enemy's guns, and looked quite
cheerful as we answered the cheers of those on board the _Essex_.

Not until two o'clock, and by that time I was terribly cramped with
sitting so long in one position, did we come near the strangers. Then we
were about a mile distant when they hoisted the British colors and
opened fire.

We were so far away, and their aim was so bad, that the shots failed to
come within an hundred yards of us, whereat my courage increased once
more; my heart came out of my boots where it had gone at the sound of
the first gun, and I began to think the danger was not so great as had
been represented.

Phil remained silent, clutching my belt, and I could feel his hand
trembling violently.

"They can't send a shot anywhere near us," I whispered encouragingly.

"Ay, there's little danger while we're so far away; but we're going
nearer each moment, and then of a surety they must strike us."

This was a very unpleasant suggestion, and I ceased my efforts at
bolstering up his courage as I tried to stiffen my own.

The Britishers were lying about a quarter of a mile apart, and because
the men were at the guns ready for action, I fancied we were very near a
bloody engagement.

Lieutenant Downes gave a command for the boats to form in open order,
and each craft shot out of line until she was heading a course of her
own, the whole advancing after the fashion of the sticks of a fan.

It seemed strange to me that the enemy ceased firing at the moment we
began the advance in proper fashion. We could see that on board the
nearest ship they were training their guns on us, and expected each
instant one of our craft would be struck, yet not a piece was

Nearer and nearer we approached, until it was possible to see distinctly
every person on deck; but still the guns remained silent.

I hardly dared to breathe, nor would I look at Phil lest he should read
in my eyes the fear that was in my heart.

We were come within fifty yards; every gun on the port side was trained
upon us, and the officers on the quarter stood as if on the point of
giving the order to open fire.

I shut my eyes, for it seemed certain that the battle could not longer
be delayed, and to my mind there was little chance any of our boats
would survive the first broadside.

The rousing cheers of the men startled me into opening my eyes again,
and for an instant I could not understand the meaning of the shouts; but
Phil soon enlightened me as he exclaimed in a tone of most intense

"They've struck their colors! They've struck their colors!"

It was indeed a fact, and our boat's crew scrambled on board, we two
lads following in silent amazement, hardly conscious of what we were
doing until Lieutenant Downes began calling off the names of those who
would remain on board as prize crew.

We had captured the _Georgiana_, a British whaler which had originally
been built for the East India Company's service, and was credited with
being a fast sailer. She was pierced for eighteen guns, but had only six
mounted when we took possession of her.

After the crew had been sent below, the hatches closed, and the officers
were imprisoned in the cabin, Lieutenant Downes called away such of our
men as had been selected to man the prize, and off we went to try
conclusions with the second craft.

By this time Phil and I were quite brave; we had come to understand
that danger cannot be lessened by fear, and were disposed to believe
that the British whalers were not such fighters as had been supposed.

Our small fleet dashed on toward the second ship in the same order as
when we came upon the _Georgiana_, and the same peaceful capture was
ours. All the ship's crew were at the guns, yet they hauled down their
colors when we were close upon them, and the Essex had taken three
prizes in one day.

This last ship proved to be the _Policy_, a whaler, pierced for eighteen
guns and having ten mounted.

How our men cheered when we were on board the third prize without so
much as a scratch! It was something to boast of, this taking three fine
ships in one day, and again did it appear as if the "luck of the
_Essex_" was an established fact.

Lieutenant Downes did not think it necessary to pull back to the frigate
now that the work was finished and there did not appear to be anything
of importance on hand. The crews were set about this trifling duty or
that, and we waited until sunset for a wind, when the prizes were sailed
down to where the flagship lay close alongside the _Barclay_ and the

It was a veritable fleet which Captain Porter now had under his command,
and the only drawback was the number of prisoners we were forced to
look after; but that was a trifling matter when one considered it as the
only cost of four fine ships.

Master Hackett thought it proper to compliment Phil and me on our
manliness in applying for permission to go with Lieutenant Downes at a
time when it seemed positive there was hot work ahead, and I felt much
as though I was acting a lie when I remained silent while the old man
was bestowing so much praise upon us.

If he had known all that was in our hearts as we were pulling toward the
whalers, I question if he would so much as have spoken to us again.

Now we two, Phil and I, began to ask ourselves if we were regularly
drafted to Mr. Downes's fleet, or whether we had been taken for that one
cruise only; and, ashamed though I should be to confess it, there was a
great hope in my heart that in the future we would be forced to remain
on board the _Essex_ when there was any more cutting out to be done.

Before another day had come to an end we of the gun-deck learned,
through one of the marines, as a matter of course, that Captain Porter
had decided to equip the _Georgiana_ as a cruiser, with Lieutenant
Downes as commander. By so doing he would have an able assistant in
searching for the enemy, and also a consort on which the crew of the
_Essex_ might find refuge in case of any serious injury to the frigate.

And now it was that, remaining at sea as if we were in dock, the work of
making the fleet ready for service was begun; and the old shellbacks
insisted that by so doing we were adding to the marvellous achievements
of our ship. She had sailed halfway around the world, depending upon the
enemy for supplies, going where there could be no possibility of
receiving assistance in case she was overtaken by disaster,--which was
something that had never been attempted before,--and now we were to
eclipse even that feat by remodelling the enemy's merchantmen into war
vessels while in mid-ocean, using for the purpose supplies we had just

If ever there was a case of living on the enemy, ours surely was this

From this day until the difficult task had been performed every man and
boy was kept busy from early dawn until darkness rendered it difficult
to see what we were about; and in this general furbishing our own ship
was not neglected. The rigging of the _Essex_ was overhauled and tarred;
strained spars were replaced by new ones, and the frigate was given a
complete coat of paint.

The _Georgiana_ was transformed by the taking down of her try-work,
which had been used for getting oil from the blubber of whales, and all
the small arms from the other prizes were sent on board. She was given
her full complement of guns, those from the _Policy_ being transshipped,
and on the 18th day of May Lieutenant Commandant Downes hoisted the
American pennant on board the _Georgiana_, 16, firing a salute of
seventeen guns, all of which were answered by the _Essex_, while the
remaining prizes made as much noise as was possible.

We had a great celebration that day when a new ship was added to the
United States Navy, and the cooks did their share toward it by filling
our duff so full of plums that one could almost believe he was eating a
regular, home-made pudding.

The manning of our prizes cost us so many of our crew that after all the
ships were in sailing trim we had on board the _Essex_ only two hundred
and sixty-four, including officers, a small number, as Master Hackett
declared, to handle the frigate in case we found ourselves in
action,--an event which seemed only too probable when it should be known
in England what mischief we were working among the whalers.

Our new man-of-war was given a fair trial to prove whether she was as
good a sailer as had been believed, and we soon learned that the
Britishers were decidedly at fault regarding her. She could not hold her
own with the _Essex_ even under the most favorable circumstances; but
yet she was by no means a tub, and might be of great service before
falling in with an enemy sufficiently heavy to send her to the bottom.

Four days after being put into commission the _Georgiana_ set off on an
independent cruise, and we hung around Charles's Island until the 28th
of May before sighting another sail.

Then one hove in sight dead ahead, and, success having made us
confident, we piled on the canvas, believing she was the same as ours

Our three prizes, with good working crews, were close aboard us at the
moment the stranger was sighted, and away we dashed in the finest style,
ready to meet anything from a line-of-battle ship to a couple of

The chase was begun late in the afternoon, and we held on all night,
keeping her well in sight, and heaving in view another sail of which we
took no notice, save to send a couple of boats after her, for the bird
which we had almost in our hand was worth any two well down on the

The stranger was a big ship, and sailed well; but she could not hold
her own with the _Essex_, and by nine o'clock next morning we were
alongside with the crew at quarters.

We believed of a verity that this fellow would fight, since he had ten
ports on a side, and once more did I feel too nervous for comfort; but
no sooner were we in a position to open the battle than she surrendered,
and we were in possession of the British whaler _Atlantic_, of three
hundred and fifty-five tons burden, carrying twenty-four men. She had
eight eighteen-pounders mounted, and might have held us in check long
enough to show that English sailors are the gluttons at fighting which
they claim to be.

No sooner had we thrown a prize crew on board, and seen to it that the
Britishers were secured where they couldn't make any trouble for our
men, than the _Essex_ was put about in chase of the sail we had sighted
during the night, our consorts following a long distance in our wake,
unable to keep the pace we were setting.

We came up with the chase about noon, and then were becalmed within two
miles of her.

She appeared to be heavily armed, and we were short-handed in
consequence of having distributed so many men among the prizes taken
thus far, as well as sending out the two boats, which had probably been
picked up by some of our fleet before this time.

To equip the fleet of small boats would require nearly every man and boy
on board, leaving no one to handle the frigate in case the wind sprang
up, and as we noted this fact--I mean as the old shellbacks discussed
it--Master Hackett said to me with a long-drawn sigh of relief:--

"It's the luck of the _Essex_ to find Britishers so plentiful; but this
time she's got more'n a mouthful, an' that fellow yonder is like to give
us the slip unless our slow-movin' prizes work up this way before the
wind rises."

"Do you mean, Master Hackett, that we can't make any effort at capturing
her?" I asked in surprise.

"Look about an' see if that ain't the size of it. Do you reckon Captain
Porter would strip his own ship, leavin' her helpless in case this 'ere
calm ended with a squall?"

It surely did not seem possible our commander would do anything of the
kind, and my heart was heavy as I gazed at the Britisher lying so near
at hand and we unable to so much as come up with her.

Before our crew had much time for discussion we were startled, and some
of the oldest hands almost frightened, by being called to man the boats;
and our surprise may be imagined when we learned that every craft was to
be sent off.

I saw the old shellbacks looking at each other furtively, exchanging odd
glances and shrugging their shoulders as much as to say that Captain
Porter must have taken leave of his senses; but into the boats they
went, and all hands followed until there were none left aboard the
frigate except the captain himself, the chaplain, the captain's clerk,
and the boatswain.

Four men only to look after the _Essex_ in case of sudden danger, or in
event of our being forced to surrender! It surely seemed as if we were
gazing upon the frigate for the last time, when the boats were pulled
away, and I heard Master Hackett mutter to the man nearest him:--

"Take your good-by squint at the old hooker, matey, for I'm reckonin'
there's many a chance you'll never see her again. I'm willin' to admit
that a man-o'-warsman is bound to run many a risk; but this 'ere beats
anything I ever saw or heard of before."

And from the expression on the faces of all I understood that to a man
the crew believed we were going far beyond our duty,--which fact, as may
well be imagined, was not calculated to make me very comfortable in
mind. There were an hundred things likely to happen that would leave us
without a ship, and it was by no means even chances that we could gain a
foothold on the deck of the stranger. Surely, the day must come when we
should find a Britisher who would fight, even though he was no more than
a whaler, and this might be the day.

Looking back I could see Captain Porter pacing the quarter-deck, and I
wondered if he believed himself fully justified in thus leaving the
frigate to the mercy of the sea and weather when we might not succeed in
our errand.

However, it was not for a lad like me to speculate as to whether the
captain was going beyond duty and reason. I was a member of the boat's
crew, and as such must do my utmost to make of the expedition a success,
regardless of what threatened the _Essex_.



Our fears as to what fate might overtake the _Essex_ while we were away
and she had only four men to care for her, were forgotten in a great
measure as we neared the Britisher.

Probably the question in the minds of all was as to whether the stranger
would show fight. I know it fully occupied my thoughts; but, greatly to
my surprise, I was not very much afraid of what might happen. Perhaps
because there were so many things to think about, I gave less heed to
the enemy than I would have done under other circumstances.

There is no good reason why I should spin out this portion of the yarn
any longer than is absolutely necessary, more especially since there is
so much of later happening and greater importance to be set down.

It is enough to say that we approached the enemy in proper fashion,
ready for any kind of a scrimmage, and instead of firing a gun he hauled
down his colors as the others had done. Cowardly though I was, it
disappointed me because these Britishers submitted so tamely.

We now had, as the second prize of the day, the letter of marque ship
_Greenwich_, three hundred and thirty-eight tons burden, carrying ten
guns and a crew of twenty-five men.

Captain Porter had taken many chances in sending us all away at the same
time, yet by doing so he had gained another prize which, had she been
left at liberty, might have worked serious mischief to our merchantmen.

It can readily be supposed that we did not lose any time in getting back
to the frigate. Men enough to take care of the prisoners and work the
prize were left on board, and the remainder of us pulled to the _Essex_
at full speed, feeling, when we went on deck once more, as if the old
ship had escaped some deadly peril.

By the time the remainder of our fleet came up, bringing with them the
two boats we had sent out during the night, the _Essex_ was lying
alongside two fine prizes which had not cost us a single charge of

We now had four prizes, in addition to the _Barclay_, and I was arguing
with Phil as to how it would be possible to care for them all, and at
the same time take any more, when Master Hackett joined us.

"I reckon you lads think the old _Essex_ has got about as much as she
can stagger under, eh?" he began; and I repeated to him what Phil and I
had been saying.

"I allow we've got a good big job on our hands, lads," the old man said,
speaking thoughtfully, as if weighing well every word, "an' now's come
the time when Captain Porter is bound to make port. We're feedin' a
crowd of men, an' can't do any great amount of work with so many craft
to look after."

"Will we go to Valparaiso?" Phil asked, thinking of Benson.

"It's beyond an old shellback like me to say, lad; but if I was the
captain of this 'ere frigate, I'd think twice before I poked my nose
into that port the second time."

"Why? They treated us well before."

"Ay, an' that's why I'd keep my weather-eye liftin' while we're in these
waters. England is a strong nation, an' these 'ere young republics won't
dare hold out against her commands very long. There'll be a big lot of
kickin' in Great Britain when word is sent there of what we've been
doin', an' you'll find that she'll shut every port on the Pacific
against us."

I did not fully understand all Master Hackett said; but no particular
harm was done because of my ignorance, since it matters little whether a
boy aboard ship knows the whys and wherefores of everything.

However, there must have been good reasoning in the old man's words,
since Captain Porter did exactly that which Master Hackett would have

When prize crews were on board all our captured ships we were so short
of hands that Lieutenant Gamble of the marines was given charge of the
_Greenwich_, because we had no naval officer to put in command, and the
entire fleet was gotten under way without unnecessary delay.

None of us on the gun-deck knew for what port we were bound, until the
19th of June, when we ran into the harbor of Tumbez, and came to anchor.

Why it was, none of our old sea lawyers could determine satisfactorily;
but not one of the crew was given shore liberty. There was no unusual
amount of work to be done on the ships, yet we were kept aboard as close
as if there was danger some of us might desert.

The captain went on shore every day to bargain for provisions to be
paid for with the money we captured from the _Nocton_, and boatloads of
stores were put aboard this ship or that; therefore it was certain the
inhabitants were friendly, or would be so long as our cash lasted.

There was no little amount of grumbling because we were kept so snug;
but as a matter of course none of the hard words were spoken where they
might be overheard by the officers, therefore nothing came of it.

Five days after we let go our ground tackle three sail were seen
standing into the bay, and we were summoned to get the frigate under
way, but the order was countermanded when those on the foremost ship
lowered a boat as if to come ashore.

Captain Porter waited to learn who the visitors were, and soon we had
the great satisfaction of seeing Lieutenant Downes in the stern-sheets
of the boat, although it puzzled us not a little as to why he had
returned thus soon.

Of course the lieutenant came on board the _Essex_, as did those who had
manned his boat, and we of the gun-deck heard the whole story of the
_Georgiana's_ adventures while Mr. Downes was having his confab in the

And what a story it was! We cheered and yelled as our old shipmates
spun it off, and nearly went wild with rejoicing.

Here is the yarn boiled down, and that it was true we knew full well,
for yonder were the prizes coming to close under the _Georgiana_ stern.

It seems that after leaving us Lieutenant Downes cruised off James's
Island, where he fell in with two Britishers. Hoisting the English
colors, he soon had the captains of the whalers sitting comfortably in
his cabin, and then he told them who he was. Well, the prizes were taken
without resistance, as a matter of course, and the United States entered
into possession, less what prize money would be coming to us, of the
ship _Catherine_ of two hundred and seventy tons burden, carrying eight
guns and twenty-nine men, and the _Rose_, two hundred and twenty tons,
eight guns and twenty-one men.

After manning these prizes, Lieutenant Downes had only twenty as a crew
all told, and yet that fact did not prevent him from giving chase next
day to the whaler _Hector_, a ship of two hundred and seventy tons,
twenty-five men, and carrying eleven guns, although she was pierced for

This last craft was a Britisher who stood ready to fight, and when Mr.
Downes understood that he had an action on his hands, with hardly men
enough to work his ship, he put the prisoners in irons so that they
might not be able to lend a hand to their countrymen.

When the _Hector_ was ordered to surrender she refused, and Mr. Downes
let her have a broadside which brought down her main-topmast. The crew
had good pluck, however, and fought their ship until nearly all her
standing and running rigging was shot away, when they could do no less
than haul down their colors. The Britishers had two men killed and six

After putting a prize crew on board this last capture, Lieutenant Downes
had but ten men left in the _Georgiana_, and, including the wounded, he
held seventy-three prisoners. Now it seems that the _Rose_ was an old
tub of a ship which it wouldn't pay to bring into port under the
circumstances; therefore he threw her guns overboard, and filled her
with the prisoners, on condition that they head direct for St. Helena.

When that had been done he steered for Tumbez, for it appears that he
and Captain Porter had agreed to go there when it was necessary to make
a port.

Now our fleet consisted of nine sail, and it began to look as if we
might take possession of every port in the Pacific Ocean, if we were so
minded. The beauty of it was that all our ships and ammunition had come
from the Britishers, which was surely an economical way of carrying on a

Even Phil and I were puffed up with pride because of what had been
accomplished, and we crowed as loud as any man on the gun-deck when we
went over and over again the "luck of the _Essex_."

We soon learned that the fleet was not yet to the captain's liking, and
on the morning after the arrival of Mr. Downes our people set about
making a change.

The _Atlantic_, which, as you will remember, we captured just before
running for Tumbez, was an hundred tons larger than the _Georgiana_, and
had shown herself to be a better sailer, as well as possessing superior
qualifications for a cruiser; therefore Mr. Downes and his crew were
transferred to her. Twenty guns were mounted in this new sloop of war,
and she was manned by sixty men. Her name was changed to _Essex Junior_,
and a right trim little ship she was, I can assure you.

The _Greenwich_ we made over into a store-ship, and all the spare stores
of the other vessels were put into her. She was armed with twenty guns,
but had no more of a crew than was absolutely necessary to work her;
therefore we could not count that she would do much in the way of making

The carpenters were yet busily at work on the _Essex Junior_ when we
left port; but we had become accustomed to fitting at sea, therefore a
little thing like that did not disturb the most nervous.

A brave show we made as we passed out of the harbor with the stars and
stripes floating in the breeze, and I would have given half my share of
prize money if the people at home could have seen us, and known how this
squadron had been gotten together.

We were yet at sea on the Fourth of July, and then was held a Yankee
celebration which must have astonished the mermaids. Every ship fired a
salute, and, what pleased us most, did it with powder we had taken from
the Britishers. We had plum duff till we could eat no more, to say
nothing of roast pig, vegetables, and other such cabin stores as tickle
the appetite.

Phil and I had by this time come to believe we were quite brave, and
counted on the moment when in action we should do that which would cause
Captain Porter to praise us from the quarter-deck in the presence of all
the ship's company.

On the 9th of July the _Essex Junior_ was in good sailing trim, and the
fleet was hove to in order to part company with the new sloop of war.
Our commander had decided to send the prizes, _Hector_, _Catherine_,
_Policy_, and _Montezuma_, as well as the recaptured ship _Barclay_,
into Valparaiso, and Commandant Downes was to take charge of the matter.

We parted company about noon, the frigate, with the _Greenwich_ and
_Georgiana_, remaining hove to until the _Essex Junior_ and her convoy
were hull down in the distance, after which we squared away for a cruise
among the Gallipagos, so the marines who had stood guard in the cabin
reported; but we knew that between where we then were and the islands in
question was a good chance of taking more prizes, and, because of the
"luck of the _Essex_," reckoned on adding to our list of captures before
arriving at this new cruising ground.

We counted on having our average good fortune; but never dreamed,
confident though we were, of the success which was so soon to be ours.

Four days after we parted company with our prizes and the _Essex
Junior_, that is to say, on the 13th day of July, the lookouts sighted
three sail off Banks's Bay, all on a wind, but a good deal separated.

Phil and I were no longer excited by such information. Both of us felt
elated; but we had thus far captured everything which had been sighted,
and when a sail was reported, we of the gun-deck at once reckoned her
as a prize. Had we failed to take two or three craft during our cruise,
then we would have been in suspense until the chase was ended; but so
good had been our fortune that the worst grumblers among the crew began
to find fault because the Britishers fell into our hands like over-ripe

Our little fleet was in a bunch, hardly more than a quarter of a mile
separating each craft, when the word was given that more ships had come
up to be captured; and on this day we had an opportunity of learning how
well the squadron could manoeuvre.

Captain Porter signalled that he would give chase to the ship in the
middle of the line, which was farthest down to leeward, while the
_Greenwich_ and the _Georgiana_ endeavored to cut off one of the others.

This race was different from others which had fallen to our lot,
inasmuch as we were eager to know what was going on astern as well as
ahead; and every man jack of us off duty gathered on the
forecastle-deck, confident that all three of the strangers would be
taken, but curious as to how it might be done.

We of the frigate overhauled our portion of the chase rapidly; but the
stranger was so far to leeward that we were forced to run a long
distance from our consorts, and when the _Essex_ was a couple of
leagues off, those who were watching astern could see that one of the
strangers which we had left for the _Georgiana_ and the _Greenwich_ to
look after, had tacked, and was evidently manoeuvring to cut the
_Georgiana_ out.

Now had matters become interesting for a verity. Short-handed as our
consorts were, there was a good chance that one would be captured while
we were running to leeward, and I literally held my breath in suspense,
expecting each moment to see the tiny wisp of red and white which we
knew to be the stars and stripes, hauled down in response to the
stranger's threats.

If any proof had been needed that Yankees were not inclined to surrender
without a fight, we had it then, when we saw the _Greenwich_ heave to,
take a portion of the crew from the _Georgiana_, and bear boldly down on
the enemy.

What a cheer went up from our men when this had been done! I was proud
of my countrymen then, and could have hugged every old shellback on
board the _Greenwich_ with a good zest, had it been possible to get at

"I'll answer for it that our comrades hold those two Britishers in check
until we can get back," Master Hackett said in a tone of satisfaction,
and again we cheered until those on the ship we were overhauling so
rapidly must have heard and wondered why we were making such a fuss
about the capture of a whaler.

Well, we bore down on the chase hand over hand, and when we were so near
that a shot might have been pitched into any part of her, the ship hove
to without the slightest show of resistance.

Captain Porter hailed as the British colors were hauled down, and then
we learned that this last prize was the English whaler _Charlton_, two
hundred and seventy-four tons, with ten guns and twenty-one men.

Her officers were transferred to the _Essex_, a prize crew was thrown on
board in a twinkling, and the frigate hauled her wind to take care of
the others.

Captain Porter was so eager for information that he questioned the
captain of the _Charlton_ on the quarter-deck, and many of the gun-deck
inquisitives heard the whole story.

By this means our commander learned that the largest of the ships we now
counted on taking was the _Seringapatam_, three hundred and fifty-seven
tons, carrying fourteen guns and forty men. It was this craft which had
been manoeuvring to cut out the _Georgiana_, and unless we had been
near at hand to lend assistance the job might have been done.

The other Britisher was the _New Zealander_, of two hundred and
fifty-nine tons, eight guns, and twenty-three men.

The _Seringapatam_ had been built for a cruiser, so our prisoners said,
and was the most dangerous ship, so far as the American trade was
concerned, of any craft west of Cape Horn.

There was not one of us who did not feel the most intense desire to
capture this craft, and particularly to do so before she could work any
serious damage to our consorts.

We could see that the _Greenwich_ had already gone into action with the
Britisher, and we cheered ourselves hoarse by way of encouragement to
the brave fellows who had tackled a craft heavier than themselves,
although there was not the slightest chance they would hear our cries.

Our ship, meaning the _Greenwich_, was manoeuvred beautifully; she
poured in three broadsides before the enemy could get into position to
fire one, and we were yet more than a league distant when the Britisher
showed that she had had enough. As her colors came down we cheered and
shouted like wild men, some of the old shellbacks dancing around the
deck like apes who have suddenly gone mad; but before many minutes
passed we saw that we had begun our rejoicings a trifle too early.

After giving token of surrender the captain of the _Seringapatam_
evidently thought he yet had an opportunity to escape, for he slipped
off to windward before a prize crew could be thrown on board.

We gazed in breathless suspense as the _Greenwich_, never stopping to
pick up the crew in the two boats which had been lowered to take
possession of the prize, crept up on the enemy's quarter and poured in
such a fire as was most surprising, considering the number of men which
were left on board.

The Britisher soon came to understand that we Yankees were too much for
him, even though he outclassed us both as to metal and men, for he wore
around and came down to us as meekly as any lamb.

Captain Porter lost no time in throwing a prize crew on board, after
transshipping the officers, and away we went for the _New Zealander_,
who was doing her feeble best to crawl out of the way; but succeeding
very badly.

When we passed within half a mile of the _Greenwich_ our crew lined the
yards and gave her the heartiest of salutes, while Captain Porter
winked at the performance when he should have reprimanded us severely
for daring to do so without permission or orders.

The _New Zealander_ was taken without opposition, and again we found
ourselves with more prizes and prisoners than could conveniently be

Before nightfall Captain Porter learned that the commander of the
_Seringapatam_ had taken one prize illegally, he having no letter of
marque; and since this was neither more nor less than piracy, the
venturesome Britisher was put in irons to be sent home for trial.

Next morning the _Charlton's_ guns, ammunition, small arms, and spare
sails were taken out; all the prisoners were put on board, and she was
allowed to make sail for Rio de Janeiro, every man jack being under
parole to go to that port and none other.

Hardly had she filled away on her course than we set to work putting the
_Seringapatam_ into shape for our own use. The guns of the _New
Zealander_ were mounted in her, which brought up the number to
twenty-two, but we could leave on board no more than a sufficient crew
to work her.

Then orders were given that the oil which we had taken, and which was
stored on the _Essex_, the _Greenwich_, and the _Georgiana_, should be
put on board the latter ship, and she sent home.

Loading a ship in mid ocean with such heavy articles as casks of oil, is
a slow and laborious task, as we soon learned. It was necessary to sling
each hogshead into a boat, pull to the craft which was being loaded, and
there hoist it inboard, working disadvantageously all the while because
of the heavy swell.

It was not until the 24th day of July that the _Georgiana_ was ready for
the voyage to the United States, and then the captain of the
_Seringapatam_ had been sent on board as a prisoner to be closely
guarded; but no crew selected to take charge of her.

On this evening our men, greasy and stained with their work of handling
oil, were called amidships while Captain Porter stood on the break of
the quarter.

All hands knew that we were now to learn who would sail in the
_Georgiana_, and each man looked at his neighbor to know how he felt
about going home while the most dangerous portion of the work yet
remained to be done, which would be when the British men-of-war came
around the Horn to wind up our career.

The captain began by reminding us that our term of service had nearly
expired, and that a certain number must be sent home to work the

"I will give you all the same show," he said; "and if too many
volunteer to make up the crew, we will take those whose time of
enlistment is nearest at an end. You are to think it over this evening;
try to settle the matter among yourselves; but if that can't be done, I
will take a hand at it to-morrow morning."

With this we were dismissed, and once all hands were on the gun-deck,
with the exception of those who remained above on watch, a most
tremendous jawing was begun. Every man tried to speak at the same time,
and the uproar was so great that no single word could be distinguished.
I could not make out whether the men were excited lest they should not
be able to go, or if there was a desire to remain.

Phil and I went into a corner by ourselves, where we could hear each
other speak, and there I asked him what he thought about volunteering
for the _Georgiana_.

"I count on staying here, if Captain Porter don't drive me out," he said
emphatically, thus showing that his decision had been made before we
came below. "You know, Ezra, that I don't amount to much when it comes
to a show of bravery; but I'm not such a coward as to turn now, when the
greatest danger is yet to be met."

I flung my arms around the dear fellow and kissed him on both cheeks.
He had spoken that which was in my own heart, although I could not have
put it in such proper words; and then it was decided between us that we
would remain by the _Essex_ so long as should be permitted us.

By the time we two had settled the question, Master Hackett had
succeeded in quieting the wranglers sufficiently to make himself heard,
and the old man proved to be quite a dandy at handling a meeting.

"Hold your jaw, you lubbers!" he shouted with such a volume of sound
that he must have been heard distinctly by those on the quarter-deck.
"The captain wants to know how many of us is achin' to get home before
the Britishers send half a dozen frigates down here to blow us out of
the water, an' he'll never get the information unless you settle down
into peaceable sailormen. There's no use waggin' your chins over this
thing; every man has a right to do what pleases him best, an' now he's
got a fair chance. What I say is this: Let them as want to go aboard the
_Georgiana_ toddle to the port side, and them who count on holdin' by
the old hooker, step over to starboard."

The men looked around curiously for an instant, and then every one of
them moved to starboard, Phil and I among the rest.

There was a broad grin on Master Hackett's face when he cried with a
semblance of anger:--

"This 'ere won't do at all. Some of us are bound to go, seein's how we
can't let that cargo of oil run to waste. Of course _I'll_ hold to the
frigate; but them as have got wives an' children ashore ought 'er get
over to port, an' we'll feel no shame for 'em, knowin' as we do that a
crew must be made up for the _Georgiana_."

"It's none of your business how many wives or children we've got, Hiram
Hackett!" one of the throng shouted. "It's as much our right as yours to
stick to the frigate, an' we count on doin' it. Why not send the boys?
They can do the work of sailormen aboard the _Georgiana_! Then you'll
have two towards a crew."

"Come here, you skulkers!" Master Hackett roared, looking at Phil and
me, and there was nothing for it but to step out from among the crew.

"Act as spokesman, Phil," I whispered. "You can go ahead of me when it
comes to jawing; but remember that they can't drive us off unless the
captain gives the word, and I'm thinking that my cousin Stephen will
stand up for our rights."

"Are you two infants ready to obey orders an' go aboard the
_Georgiana_?" Master Hackett asked, looking as fierce as if he counted
on eating us.

"No, sir!" Phil shouted at the full strength of his lungs. "We've got
as much right to stay as you have, an' we won't volunteer!"

"Three cheers for the infants!" some one shouted, and the men yelled
until their throats were like to split.

Then the crew crowded around Master Hackett, each man trying to make
himself heard, and I understood that there was little chance of finding
a crew for the _Georgiana_ if every one was to do as he pleased.

By this time the noise was so great that Lieutenant McKnight was sent
below to learn whether or no a riot was in progress, and, luckily, I
succeeded in gaining speech with him before the men knew he was on the

"Surely you will stand our friend in this matter, Cousin Stephen," I
said, clutching him by the coat-sleeve without regard to the
proprieties; for it is looked upon as insubordination for a common
sailor to lay hold of an officer.

"In what way, Ezra? Are so many eager to see home again that you fear
there'll be no room for you?"

"It's just the other way, sir," Phil broke in. "Not a man will
volunteer, and some of them have said that we two lads must go whether
we like it or not."

"It isn't right to force us because we are lads!" I cried. "We've done
our duty so far as we knew, and our age shouldn't give license for

"See here, my lads, you're not looking at this matter in the proper
light. We shall soon be turning and twisting to get out of a British
frigate's way, and many of us will lose the number of his mess before
the _Essex_ doubles Cape Horn again. You can go now without being called
a coward, and it's far better to get out of the scrape while affairs are
flourishing as they are at present."

"Are you going in the _Georgiana_, Cousin Stephen?" I asked.

"What? Me? Never, unless the captain gives a positive order to that

"If you are allowed to remain, why should we be forced to go?"

He turned from me quickly, and, without making any attempt to restore
order, went on deck.

The men jawed and argued more violently than ever after my cousin
disappeared, and very soon the master-at-arms came below with an order
for every man jack of us to show himself abaft the mainmast.

We found the captain waiting for us as before; and although there was
very good reason why he should read the riot act because of the uproar,
I understood by the expression on his face that he was well pleased the
men had not shown a willingness to leave the frigate.

When all hands had quieted down once more he made a little speech in
which he thanked us for being so eager to stay by the _Essex_, and
declared that he felt proud of every old barnacle there; but at the same
time it was absolutely necessary a crew be sent on board the

"Those men who have families must go," he said finally, after declaring
that it had become necessary for him to settle the matter, since the
crew themselves could not. "A list shall be made out of such as have
others depending upon them, and it will then be posted on the gun-deck.
Abide by my decision as you ever have, and I will make it my solemn duty
to let the people of the United States know that those who returned in
the _Georgiana_ did not do so of their own free will."

We were sent below once more, and Phil and I felt well content, for by
the captain's ruling we could not be sent home in the oil-laden craft.



The _Georgiana_ left us next morning, carrying a sorrowful-looking crew,
as can well be imagined, for every man jack of them felt as if he might
be accused of cowardice in leaving the _Essex_ at a time when there was
good reason to expect she would meet with a superior force.

I fail to understand yet why it had come into the minds of all that we
would never double Cape Horn in the old frigate. No one put such a
belief into words, and yet I knew full well it was looked upon as a
fact, because of certain remarks let drop now and then when was being
discussed the question of seeing the friends at home.

It had really come to be the belief of us all, although carefully kept
in the background, that the time must come when we would meet with such
a force of Britishers as could put an end to the "luck of the _Essex_."

And it is little wonder that our crew, even counting the boys, should
have considered it as inevitable that the dear old frigate would come
to an end of her cruising before many months had passed, for we knew
full well the English people must soon demand that we who had done so
much mischief be put out of the way of working yet further damage.

Consider well what had been done, and then it may be seen that the
British navy would speedily come after us with a heavy force. Here is
the situation as it was defined by a member of the United States Navy,
he looking at the matter a few weeks after the _Georgiana_ had sailed,
and we were in an island port refitting and overhauling the fleet:--

"The situation of the _Essex_ was sufficiently remarkable, at this
moment, to merit a brief notice. She had been the first American to
carry the pennant of a man-of-war round the Cape of Good Hope, and now
she had been the first to bring it into the distant ocean. More than ten
thousand miles from home, without colonies, stations, or even a friendly
port to repair to, short of stores, without a consort, and otherwise in
possession of none of the required means of subsistence and efficiency,
she had boldly steered into this distant region, where she had found all
that she required, through her own activity; and having swept the seas
of her enemies, she had now retired to these little-frequented islands
to refit, with the security of a ship at home. It is due to the officer
who so promptly adopted and so successfully executed this plan, to add,
that his enterprise, self-reliance, and skill indicated a man of bold
and masculine courage; qualities that are indispensable in forming a
naval captain.

"In the way of service to the public, perhaps the greatest performed by
the _Essex_ was protecting American ships in the Pacific, nearly all of
which would probably have fallen into the hands of the enemy but for her
appearance in that ocean. But the positive injury done the English
commerce was far from trifling. The _Essex_ had now captured about four
thousand tons of its shipping, made near four hundred prisoners, and for
the moment had literally destroyed its fisheries in this part of the
world. In October, 1812, she had sailed from America alone, with six
months' provisions and the usual stores in her; and in October, 1813,
she was lying, in perfect security, at an island in the Pacific, with a
respectable consort, surrounded by prizes, and in possession of all the
means that were necessary to render a frigate of her class efficient.
Throughout the whole of these movements we see a constant tendency to
distress the enemy, and to maintain the character of the ship as an
active, well-organized, and high-toned man-of-war."

All this was written concerning us after we had made that island port
which I shall describe later; but before entering it we were to see some
service, and experience our first disappointment in the way of capturing
every sail we sighted.

It was on the 25th day of July when the _Georgiana_ left us, only to be
recaptured, as we afterward learned to our sorrow, before gaining an
American port.

We remained hove to until the oil-laden prize was hull down on the
horizon, and then, with the _Essex_ leading, our little squadron,
consisting of the frigate, the _Greenwich_, _Seringapatam_, and _New
Zealander_, trailing along in fine style, cruised here and there in
search of another Britisher.

On the morning of the third day thereafter, while we lay becalmed, a
strange sail was sighted carrying with her a fine breeze.

As a matter of course she soon ran out of our range of vision, but
Captain Porter was not the kind of a commander to give up the hope of
catching an enemy, once having clapped his eyes on her; and at sunset,
when the wind sprang up again, signals were set for every ship to crowd
on sail in pursuit of the Britisher, although by this time she had many
leagues the start.

The "luck of the _Essex_" was with us yet, for next morning at sunrise
the lookouts at the masthead sighted the stranger standing across our
bow on a bowline.

By this time the breeze fined down again, and the dullest among us knew
that unless we could get the frigate through the water at a better pace,
our hope of taking another prize that day was at an end.

Captain Porter had a scheme of his own, however, and at once set about
executing it, to the surprise and admiration of all our old shellbacks,
even though it cost us considerable labor.

A three-cornered frame was knocked together by the carpenters, covered
with canvas, and weighted by four-pound shot on one side. This was
rigged to run from the spritsail-yard to an outrigger aft. It was
dropped into the water forward, and then half the crew, trailing on to a
small hawser made fast to the triangle as boys tie the string of a kite,
hauled it quickly astern.

This, acting as a paddle, sent us ahead in fine style, and as soon as
the contrivance was well aft, it would be hoisted out of the water, run
forward, and dropped again.

The labor required to work such a machine was very great; but we made
light of it on seeing that we were forging ahead faster than the
stranger could sail, and, with the perspiration running in great
streams down our bodies, we pulled and hauled with a will until, having
come within about four miles of the ship, we counted on making a prize.

By this time it could be seen that she was a British whaler, and an
uncommonly fine craft. What was more, we began to understand that she,
unlike many we had already overhauled, did not intend that we should
capture her without paying the piper for our dancing.

Her boats were got out to tow, and we could not work the canvas-paddle
fast enough to hold our own in the way of speed.

The remainder of our fleet were hull down astern, therefore it was
useless to expect assistance from them,--a fact which caused Master
Hackett to say despairingly:--

"I allow, lads, that we've come to an end of the 'luck' for the time
bein'. That 'ere craft will muster more men accordin' to her size than
we can."

"Gettin' afraid, eh?" some one shouted scornfully; whereat Master
Hackett replied with considerable show of spirit:--

"Not a bit of it, you lubber; but men count in the kind of a breeze
we're tryin' to work up, an' towin' that ship with boats is child's
play compared with what it would be to drag the _Essex_ through the

I believed our men would begin squabbling among themselves, because of
their disappointment in being thus prevented from taking a prize; but
one of the lieutenants quickly put an end to the words by bawling out an
order which showed us that the Britisher might not find towing a very
profitable job.

The word was passed to lower the gig and one of the whale-boats, and our
men cheered lustily while this was being done, for they had a fairly
good idea of what the captain was counting on doing.

Lieutenant McKnight, my cousin Stephen, was announced as commander of
the small expedition, and he began calling off the names of those whom
he counted on taking with him, after word had been passed that each man,
as he was thus chosen, should arm himself with a musket and plenty of
powder and bullets.

Master Hackett was the first selected, and then followed name after name
so rapidly that I soon understood Phil and I would be left out of the
business unless something was done quickly.

Without waiting to consult my comrade, I walked across the deck,
coughing loudly, and passing within a few feet of where the lieutenant
was standing.

He looked up, smiled oddly, and then, after a show of hesitation

"Ezra McKnight! Philip Robbins!"

"You're a beauty!" Phil whispered, as he ran past me on his way below to
get the musket and ammunition, and my only regret at that moment was
because I could not thank my cousin for the favor he had done us.

We two lads tumbled into the gig alongside Master Hackett, who asked

"What is the lieutenant thinkin' of to send a couple of infants out on a
job like this?"

"Perhaps it would be a good idea for you to ask him; I don't care to
take the chances of so doing, even though your curiosity is not
satisfied," I said pertly. "If shooting is to be done, which seems
reasonable after we've been ordered to arm ourselves, I reckon the
'infants' can do as much as some others who are older."

Master Hackett did not reply; but by the movements of his mouth I knew
he was not so displeased but that he was trying to hide a smile.

Just then Stephen McKnight stepped aboard the gig, and as he did so
Captain Porter cried over the rail:--

"Remember, McKnight, that you are not to make any effort at boarding,
however tempting may be the opportunity. Get ahead of the chase and
drive in her boats, after which you will return as soon as possible."

"I understand, sir," Stephen replied, and then came the order to "give
way with a will."

Phil and I were not counted among the oarsmen, as I saw when the work
was begun; but we did a trifle toward helping the good work along by
pushing on Master Hackett's oar, and he made no effort to prevent us,
even though we were "infants."

It would not have been good seamanship to go any nearer the enemy than
was necessary, in the effort to get ahead of her, therefore we made a
wide sweep around to port; and when we were opposite, not more than
three hundred yards distant, her gunners let fly a couple of pieces
which had been loaded with grape.

The whistling of the shot, which struck everywhere around us, sent the
cold shivers up and down my back; but I pushed on Master Hackett's oar
all the harder, keeping my eyes fixed straight ahead lest the old man
should read in them more than I cared to have him know.

Phil started ever so slightly; but managed to hold himself firm after
that, and each of us knew that the other was sorely afraid, although it
is certain neither would have gone back had the opportunity presented

We were treated to more grape, the biggest portion of which passed over
our heads, and after that second volley I somehow forgot that I was
frightened; but loaded my musket carefully, hoping the time would soon
come when I could do a little to help balance the account.

Soon we were out of range of the grape, and then we ran across the
ship's bow, every man loading and discharging his musket at the crew of
the towing-boats as rapidly as possible.


"They can't stand that kind of a game very long," Master Hackett said,
as he wounded one of the Britishers in the foremost boat. "They've come
out to pull an oar an' ain't in shape for a fight, so it don't stand to
reason they'll hold their ground a great while."

The British oarsmen were already beginning to slacken their pace, and I
looked astern to make out what our people counted on doing while we lay
there preventing the work of towing.

The sight was one to warm the blood even of a coward. All our boats were
out and being manned rapidly, and I had no need to ask what would be the
next move.

"Ay, lad, the captain is goin' to board her," Master Hackett said
quietly, when I called his attention to the frigate. "I counted the old
man would be at that fun mighty soon after we'd got into position, an'
the worst of it is that we don't have a hand in the scrimmage."

We soon learned to our sorrow that we had a scrimmage of our own which
would occupy us in good shape so long as the towing-boats were kept out.

The Britishers had brought two guns on the forecastle-deck, and began
giving us our medicine just as the _Essex's_ crew were pulling away from
her side.

The first discharge did us no damage; but it was not difficult to guess
that after the gunners once got our range we would suffer severely, and
again I had hard work to prevent showing the white feather.

The grape came nearer and nearer, the gunners working the pieces faster
than I had ever thought could be possible, and we kept peppering away at
the men in the boats, firing so lively that soon they were driven in;
but it had cost two of our fellows slight wounds.

The grapeshot would settle our business very speedily, I believed,
unless our boarding party came along soon, and I looked anxiously

The oars flashed in the water at the rate of forty strokes a minute,
and our men were cheering lustily as they thought of adding another to
the long list of prizes credited to the _Essex_.

Now the grape was coming with truer aim; two of our oars had been
sheered off close to the rail, as neatly as if done by an axe, and it
seemed certain some one of us would soon lose the number of his mess;
yet, strange to say, I was not so terribly frightened as the situation

"The boarders will soon be goin' over the Britisher's rail, an' then
comes the time for us to pull a little nearer," Master Hackett whispered
to me, as if thinking I needed cheering. "Take aim at the gunners, an'
it'll make you a heap easier in mind if you can knock one over."

I discharged my musket with careful aim, and then looked over my
shoulder while reloading to ascertain whether the rest of our people
were coming up.

The boats from the _Essex_ were making rapid way over the water, the
spray from their bows glittering in the sunlight like diamonds, and the
enemy now turned his attention from us ahead to those who were so
rapidly overhauling him from astern.

A full broadside was fired at the boarders, but the heavy shot passed
over their heads without doing any damage, and we in advance added our
shouts of joy to those of the boarding party.

The Britishers must have turned cowardly as they saw our men coming
toward them without heed to their fire, and in another instant we were
yelling at the full strength of our lungs, as the English flag was
hauled down in token of surrender.

"The 'luck of the _Essex_' still holds good," Master Hackett cried
gleefully. "Yonder ship will show well among our fleet, an' it's a pity
we can't give her a crew of decent size."

The boats which we had been trying to drive in were now called
alongside, and our people were coming hand over hand to take possession,
when a breeze from the eastward sprang up like a squall, filling the
sails of the prize in an instant.

Before I was well aware of what had happened the Britisher was hauled up
close on the wind. Her colors were hoisted again, and off she went to
the northward like a flash, leaving the boarding party astern as if
their craft had been anchored.

Just for an instant I believed the enemy would succeed in running down
those of us who were in the gig and whale-boat. She came up until we
were close under her forefoot; but the helmsman could not bring her
nearer, and we swept astern like a flash.

It was well for us that she came so close, otherwise we might have been
knocked to flinders, for no less than six charges of grape were fired
point-blank at our boats; but the missiles passed over our heads, and,
instead of congratulating themselves upon the escape from instant death,
the men grumbled long and loud because we had lost the first ship which
by rights should have been made a prize.

"If that 'ere squall had held off five minutes longer, we'd have been in
possession," Master Hackett said in a tone so sorrowful that one could
well believe the tears were very near his eyelids.

To Phil and me it was most singular, this seeing one ship filling away
with all the wind she needed, and another, our frigate, lying no more
than four miles distant with not breeze enough to lift the vane at her

The only thing which prevented our men from having a desperate fit of
the sulks was the belief that when the _Essex_ did get the wind she
would make chase; but as the hours wore on we understood that the
Britisher was really lost to us, for this time at least.

It was near to nine o'clock in the evening before the last of our boats
was hoisted inboard, and, owing to the darkness which hid the enemy from
view, it was useless to think of making sail.

We laid hove to until our consorts came up, and then the fleet was kept
jogging to and fro in the hope that when morning came the "luck of the
_Essex_" would show us the Britisher.

We were doomed to disappointment, however, so far as this particular
craft was concerned, for when day broke not a sail was to be seen.

Captain Porter did all a commander should do under the circumstances.
During three days we cruised to the northward and eastward, and at the
end of that time there was no longer any question, even in the minds of
the most sanguine, but that the Britisher had given us the slip.

Once this unpleasant fact was impressed upon him beyond the shadow of a
doubt, Captain Porter hauled away for James's Island, where we had good
reason to believe more British whalers might be found.

Not a sail was to be seen in the little bay when we entered on the 4th
day of August; but, believing the men would be the better for a short
cruise ashore, our commander gave the word to anchor.

Next morning, before a single man had time to ask for liberty, it was
reported by one of the gunners that a goodly portion of the powder which
we had brought with us from the United States, had been damaged by water
while we were doubling the Horn. But for the fact that this particular
man was nosing around where he really had no business to be, the _Essex_
might have gone into action only to discover, when it was too late, that
she had nothing with which to fight.

"What will we do?" I asked of Master Hackett when our misfortune was
known on the gun-deck. "We're not likely to come across ammunition in
these waters, unless by taking more prizes; and it begins to appear as
if we'd driven all the Britishers away."

"It ain't as bad as it might be, lad, although I allow it's rough
enough. Accordin' to all accounts the _Seringapatam_ has enough aboard,
although when the _Essex_ takes what she needs, it'll leave Lieutenant
Downes well-nigh helpless."

It was a disaster so great, that not a man so much as thought of asking
for shore leave, and on the gun-deck we gathered to discuss the sudden
change of affairs until word was brought that one watch might land to
enjoy themselves, at the same time that they took in a supply of wood
and water.

After a short run on the island the men succeeded in putting from their
minds all thoughts of the discovery made by the meddlesome gunner,
believing that Captain Porter would succeed, no one knew how, in
supplying the lack of powder.

During more than two weeks we lay at James's Island, bringing in
supplies of pork, water, and wood, and during all that time not a single
sail hove in sight.

Then came the word, on the evening of August 21, that the fleet would
proceed to Banks's Bay, and next morning we were under way, making the
run in thirty-six hours.

No sooner had the ship been brought to anchor than we understood how
Captain Porter proposed to supply us with ammunition. It was reported,
by one of the marines, as a matter of course, that the _Essex_ would on
the next morning make a short cruise by herself, leaving the prizes in
the bay.

Our old shellbacks were perfectly satisfied on hearing this news. The
only way in which more powder could be procured, was by taking it from
the Britishers, and we had no doubt but that we should soon pick up an
armed whaler who would be forced to supply us.

Well, to make a long story short, we cruised from the 24th of August
until the 15th of September without seeing anything in the form of a
sailing craft, and all hands were growing discouraged when, in the early
morning, a ship was reported apparently lying to a long distance to the
southward, and to windward.

There was no hope of coming up with her if we began the business boldly,
for she had a big advantage of us in position; therefore our commander
set about playing a trick which might bring the stranger into our hands
with but little labor.

Our light yards were sent down, and the frigate otherwise disguised
until she had much the look of a whaler. Then she was slowly kept
turning to windward, each moment drawing nearer the Britisher, for by
this time we had settled in our minds that the stranger was one of the
enemy's ships.

This trick worked to a charm, and by noon we were so near that it was
possible to see that our intended prize was fast to a whale, which she
was cutting in, at the same time drifting rapidly down on us.

An hour later we were no more than four miles apart, and then it was
that the Britisher began to scent our trick. He had come to the
conclusion that a big ship like ours, even though she might be a
whaler, would not loaf around in that fashion unless for mischief; and
once this idea was in his head the skipper cast off from his prize,
making all sail to windward.

There was no longer any reason why we should keep the disguise. Our
yards were hoisted once more, and with everything drawing we began the
chase, each man of our crew watching the progress eagerly, for the
capture of this ship meant something more than taking a prize. We could
see that she was pierced with six ports on a side, and it was reasonable
to suppose that on board was powder enough to provide us with as much as
might be needed until another armed Britisher could be overhauled.

Not until four o'clock in the afternoon did we come near enough to pitch
a few shots ahead and over her, when she hove to under our lee, and a
mighty shout of mingled satisfaction and triumph went up from the crew.

This prize was the _Sir Andrew Hammond_, of three hundred and one tons,
twelve guns, and thirty-one men.

And now comes the odd part of the capture: From the time our ship had
brought her well in sight the men declared that she had a familiar look;
and when finally she came to within half a mile of us, Master Hackett
cried joyously:--

"We haven't outrun our luck, an' that's a fact! Yonder craft is the same
we lost in the squall--the one that gave us such a long job with nothin'
but a few broken oars to show for it!"

That the old seaman had spoken only the truth we all understood now it
had been suggested; the ship lying under our lee was none other than the
last we had chased and lost, but only to find again on this day when we
were growing discouraged with much useless cruising.

The _Hammond_ proved to be a rich prize for us just at that time, for
she had on board a large supply of prime beef, pork, bread, wood, and
water, and none of such stores would be wasted. The ammunition was in
good condition, but not of such quantity as to satisfy us; however, half
a loaf is better than none at all, and after taking the prisoners on
board the _Essex_, leaving a small prize crew to handle the new addition
to our fleet, we made sail for Banks's Bay.

We had hardly more than arrived there and overhauled the _Hammond_,
than the _Essex Junior_ came into port on her return from Valparaiso,
where she had left the prizes to be sold.

She reported that five or six heavy frigates had been sent out from
England to search for us, and, what seemed of more importance at the
time, that the Chilian government was no longer as friendly to us as
when we left port. The Britishers had most likely been threatening them.

"Well," Master Hackett said deliberately, when the news I have set down
above was made known on the gun-deck, "if we had all the powder that our
fleet needs, I reckon we could afford to wait for the Britishers, an',
what's more, flog the whole boilin' of 'em when they come. But seein's
how we ain't in condition for heavy work, it's bound to be a case of
twistin' an' turnin' till we can clean up our job of capturin' whalers."

"What then, Master Hackett?" Phil asked.

"What then, lad? Why, I reckon we'll have to take our medicine like
little men; an' in the swallowin' of it we'll know what British prison
ships are like."

"Then you don't believe we can double the Horn without coming upon some
of them?" I asked, my spine growing chilly for an instant.

"I'm allowin' that the old frigate will see her finish this side the
cape, for it ain't good sense to believe she can fight her way through.
I've said all along that the Britishers were bound to smash us some day,
'cause it don't stand to reason a nation what claims to rule the sea can
afford to let a little craft like ours play hob with 'em in such fashion
as we've been doin'. For the sake of their reputation they've got to
gather us in."

It could plainly be seen that the majority of our crew held the same
opinion as did Master Hackett, and yet I failed to discover anything
which looked like fear. The men were satisfied that they had worked the
game for all there was in it, and now believed the day to be near at
hand when we'd be forced to haul down the stars and stripes, although I
venture to say that never one of them fancied it would be brought about
in such a cowardly fashion as finally was the case.

The marines soon brought important news to us of the gun-deck. They
reported that Captain Porter and his officers had decided to make port
somewhere among the Marquesas, that group of islands in the Pacific
concerning which so little was known at the time.

We were to search for some secluded harbor, so the marines declared,
and there refit the fleet for the homeward bound voyage, which was to be
begun at the earliest possible moment, in the faint hope that we might
save the frigate from those who were coming in such force to capture

Two days afterward, when the stores from the _Sir Andrew Hammond_ had
been distributed among the vessels of the fleet, all the craft were
ordered to get under way, and we set out to find a natural dockyard, for
it must be remembered that ships cannot remain long at sea without
gathering so much marine growth on their bottoms that the swiftest soon
becomes a sluggish sailer.

It was to scrape the hulls, paint all the woodwork and put it in
condition for that battle with the elements which awaited us off Cape
Horn, if we succeeded in getting there, and otherwise make ready for
whatever might be before us, that we set off in search of a hiding-place
which should at the time serve as a dock for refitting our battered



We set sail from Banks's Bay October 2, in company with the _Essex
Junior_ and our prizes, but the latter were such slow sailers as
compared with the frigate that we did not make the group of the
Marquesas until the 23d, when we ran here and there seeking such a
harbor as would admit of our performing the work the captain counted on

Not until four days more had passed did we find that which seemed to
suit us in every particular, and then the fleet came to anchor in a fine
bay at the island of Nukuheva.

Now a word in regard to the spelling of the island's name. My cousin,
Lieutenant McKnight, gave it as set down above; but I have since seen it
written "Nooaheevah," and "Noukahiva," therefore the reader, if it so
chances that any one ever reads what has cost me so much time to set
down, may take his choice of the names. I believe, however, that it
should be written Nukuheva, because my cousin, the lieutenant, told me

And now, before I relate anything concerning our visit to this island,
which proved to be so full of adventure, I ask permission to copy here
that which I read many years afterward, and this I do because it would
be impossible otherwise to describe the beautiful place--the most
beautiful I have ever seen.

That which follows was written by a sailor[1] who spent many months on
the island, and was fortunate in being able to describe in a most
entertaining manner everything he saw, which is by long odds more than I
can do.

"The cluster comprising the islands of Roohka, Ropo, and Nukuheva were
altogether unknown to the world until the year 1791, when they were
discovered by Captain Ingraham of Boston, nearly two centuries after the
discovery of the adjacent islands by the agent of the Spanish viceroy.

"Nukuheva is the most important of these islands, being the only one at
which ships are much in the habit of touching, and is celebrated as
being the place where the adventurous Captain Porter refitted his ships
during the late war between England and the United States, and whence
he sallied out upon the large whaling fleet then sailing under the
enemy's flag in the surrounding seas. This island is about twenty miles
in length and nearly as many in breadth. It has three good harbors on
its coast; the largest and best of which is called by the people living
in its vicinity, 'Tyohee,' and by Captain Porter was denominated
Massachusetts Bay. Among the adverse tribes dwelling about the shores of
the other bays, and by all voyagers, it is generally known by the name
bestowed upon the island itself--Nukuheva.

"In the bay of Nukuheva was the anchorage we desired to reach. We had
perceived the loom of the mountains about sunset; so that after running
all night with a very light breeze, we found ourselves close in with the
island the next morning; but as the bay we sought lay on its farther
side, we were obliged to sail some distance along the shore, catching,
as we proceeded, short glimpses of blooming valleys, deep glens,
waterfalls, and waving groves, hidden here and there by projecting and
rocky headlands, every moment opening to the view some new and startling
scene of beauty.

"Those who for the first time visit the South Seas, generally are
surprised at the appearance of the islands when beheld from the sea.
From the vague accounts we sometimes have of their beauty, many people
are apt to picture to themselves enamelled and softly swelling plains,
shaded over with delicious groves, and watered by purling brooks, and
the entire country but little elevated above the surrounding ocean. The
reality is very different; bold rock-bound coasts with the surf beating
high against the lofty cliffs, and broken here and there into deep
inlets which open to the view thickly wooded valleys separated by the
spurs of mountains clothed with tufted grass, and sweeping down toward
the sea from an elevated and furrowed interior, form the principal
features of these islands.

"... As we slowly advanced up the bay, numerous canoes pushed off from
the surrounding shores, and we were soon in the midst of quite a
flotilla of them, their savage occupants struggling to get aboard of us,
and jostling one another in their ineffectual attempts.

"Occasionally the projecting outriggers of their slight shallops,
running foul of one another, would become entangled beneath the water,
threatening to capsize the canoes, when a scene of confusion would ensue
that baffles description. Such strange outcries and passionate
gesticulations I never certainly heard or saw before. You would have
thought the islanders were on the point of flying at one another's
throats, whereas they were only amicably engaged in disentangling their

"Scattered here and there among the canoes might be seen numbers of
cocoanuts floating closely together in circular groups, and bobbing up
and down with every wave. By some inexplicable means these cocoanuts
were all steadily approaching toward the ship. As I leaned curiously
over the side, endeavoring to solve their mysterious movements, one mass
far in advance of the rest attracted my attention. In its centre was
something I could take for nothing less than a cocoanut, but which I
certainly considered one of the most extraordinary specimens of the
fruit I had ever seen. It kept twirling and dancing about among the rest
in the most singular manner, and as it grew nearer I thought it bore a
remarkable resemblance to the brown shaven skull of one of the savages.
Presently it betrayed a pair of eyes, and soon I became aware that what
I had supposed to have been one of the fruit was nothing else than the
head of an Islander, who had adopted this singular method of bringing
his produce to market. The cocoanuts were all attached to one another by
strips of the husk, partly torn from the shell and rudely fashioned
together. Their proprietor, inserting his head into the midst of them,
impelled his necklace of cocoanuts through the water by striking out
beneath the surface with his feet.

"... We had approached within a mile and a half, perhaps, of the foot of
the bay, when some of the islanders, who by this time had managed to
scramble aboard of us at the risk of swamping their canoes, directed our
attention to a singular commotion in the water ahead of the vessel. At
first I imagined it to be produced by a shoal of fish sporting on the
surface, but our savage friends assured us that it was caused by a shoal
of 'whinhenies' (young girls), who in this manner were coming off from
the shore to welcome us. As they drew nearer, and I watched the rising
and sinking of their forms, and beheld the uplifted right arm bearing
above the water the girdle of tappa, and their long dark hair trailing
behind them as they swam, I almost fancied they could be nothing else
than so many mermaids--and very like mermaids they behaved too....

"The bay of Nukuheva in which we were then lying is an expanse of water
not unlike in figure the space included within the limits of a
horseshoe. It is, perhaps, nine miles in circumference. You approach it
from the sea by a narrow entrance, flanked on either side by two small
twin islets which soar conically to the height of some five hundred
feet. From these the shore recedes on both hands, and describes a deep

"From the verge of the water the land rises uniformly on all sides, with
green and sloping acclivities, until from gentle rolling hillsides and
moderate elevations it insensibly swells into lofty and majestic
heights, whose blue outlines, ranged all around, close in the view. The
beautiful aspect of the shore is heightened by deep and romantic glens,
which come down to it at almost equal distances, all apparently
radiating from a common centre, and the upper extremities of which are
lost to the eye beneath the shadow of the mountains. Down each of these
little valleys flows a clear stream, here and there assuming the form of
a slender cascade, then stealing invisibly along until it bursts upon
the sight again in larger and more noisy waterfalls, and at last
demurely wanders along to the sea.

"The houses of the natives, constructed of the yellow bamboo, tastefully
twisted together in a kind of wickerwork, and thatched with the long
tapering leaves of the palmetto, are scattered irregularly along these
valleys beneath the shady branches of the cocoanut tree.

"Nothing can exceed the imposing scenery of this bay. Viewed from our
ship as she lay at anchor in the middle of the harbor, it presented the
appearance of a vast natural amphitheatre in decay, and overgrown with
vines, the deep glens that furrowed its sides appearing like enormous
fissures caused by the ravages of time. Very often when lost in
admiration of its beauty, I have experienced a pang of regret that a
scene so enchanting should be hidden from the world in these remote
seas, and seldom meet the eyes of devoted lovers of nature.

"Besides this bay the shores of the island are indented by several other
extensive inlets, into which descend broad and verdant valleys. These
are inhabited by as many different kinds of savages, who, although
speaking kindred dialects of a common language, and having the same
religion and laws, have from time immemorial waged hereditary warfare
against each other. The intervening mountains, generally two or three
thousand feet above the level of the sea, geographically define the
territories of each of these hostile tribes who never cross them, save
on some expedition of war or plunder. Immediately adjacent to Nukuheva,
and only separated from it by the mountains seen from the harbor, lies
the lovely valley of Happar, whose inmates cherish the most friendly
relations with the inhabitants of Nukuheva. On the other side of
Happar, and closely adjoining it, is the magnificent valley of the
dreaded Typees, the unappeasable enemies of both these tribes.

"These celebrated warriors appear to inspire the other islanders with
unspeakable terrors. Their very name is a frightful one; for the word
'Typee' in the Marquesan dialect signifies a lover of human flesh.

"It is rather singular that the title should have been bestowed upon
them exclusively, inasmuch as the natives of all this group are
irreclaimable cannibals. The name may, perhaps, have been given to
denote the powerful ferocity of this clan, and to convey a special
stigma along with it.

"These same Typees enjoy a prodigious notoriety all over the islands.
The natives of Nukuheva would frequently recount in pantomime to our
ship's company their terrible feats, and would show the marks of wounds
they had received in desperate encounters with them. When ashore they
would try to frighten us by pointing to one of their own number, and
calling him a 'Typee,' manifesting no little surprise that we did not
take to our heels at so terrible an announcement. It was quite amusing,
too, to see with what earnestness they disclaimed all cannibal
propensities on their own part, while they denounced their enemies--the
Typees--as inveterate gormandizers of human flesh....

"Although I was convinced that the inhabitants of our bay were as arrant
cannibals as any of the other tribes on the island, still I could not
but feel a particular and most unqualified repugnance to the aforesaid
Typees. Even before visiting the Marquesas, I had heard from men who had
touched at the group on former voyages, some revolting stories in
connection with these savages; and fresh in my remembrance was the
adventure of the master of the _Katherine_, who only a few months
previous, imprudently venturing into this bay in an armed boat for the
purpose of barter, was seized by the natives, carried back a little
distance into their valley, and was only saved from a cruel death by the
intervention of a young girl, who facilitated his escape by night along
the beach to Nukuheva.

"I have heard too of an English vessel that many years ago, after a
weary cruise, sought to enter the bay of Nukuheva, and arriving within
two or three miles of the land, was met by a large canoe filled with
natives, who offered to lead the way to the place of their destination.
The captain, unacquainted with the localities of the island, joyfully
acceded to the proposition--the canoe paddled on and the ship followed.
She was soon conducted to a beautiful inlet, and dropped her anchor in
its waters beneath the shadows of the lofty shore. That same night the
perfidious Typees, who had thus inveigled her into their fatal bay,
flocked aboard the doomed vessel by hundreds, and at a given signal
murdered every soul on board."

After reading the description which I have copied word for word, it is
possible to have a good idea concerning that harbor into which our fleet
sailed, all hands knowing full well that here we might remain secure
alike from the elements and Britishers, so long as it should please us
to stay.

In addition, we were free from any fears regarding what the natives
might attempt to do, partly owing to our strength, but chiefly because
the first person to greet us was neither more nor less than a member of
the American navy.

Fancy meeting a Yankee gentleman in this out-of-the-way place whose
inhabitants were credited with being the most ferocious of cannibals,
eager to devour anything in the way of human flesh that crossed their

The natives came out in boats to meet us exactly as is set down in that
which I have copied; but all hands gave way to a canoe in which we saw
one of our own countrymen.

He came over the side, spoke a few words with Lieutenant McKnight, who
immediately treated him with the greatest consideration, and then
introduced the stranger to our captain.

It can well be supposed that every man jack of our crew stood by in
open-mouthed astonishment at seeing this white man come aboard as if he
felt himself at home in the Marquesas group; but we were forced to
remain in ignorance until that evening, when one of the marines
unravelled the yarn which at first had seemed too strange to us.

Our visitor was Mr. John Maury, a midshipman of the navy, who, with
three sailors, had been left in this harbor by the captain of an
American merchantman, himself a lieutenant in the service, to gather
sandalwood while the ship was gone to China. Now that he heard of the
war for the first time, and believed his captain would not dare come to
fetch him away, the midshipman proposed to Captain Porter that he and
his companions join our frigate; a proposition which was quickly
accepted. A little later that evening the three sailors came on board,
and mighty good shipmates did they prove to be.

These last told us of the gun-deck that a fierce war was raging between
the Typees over the mountains and the Happars who dwelt along the shore
of the bay, and most likely it would be necessary for us to take part in
it against the Typees if we counted on being allowed to remain
unmolested while the repairs were being made to our ships.

This did not cause us very much uneasiness, however, and Master Hackett
but echoed the thought in the minds of all when he said to the

"Seein's how we've driven the Britishers out of the Pacific Ocean, so to
speak, I reckon it won't be any very hard job to wipe up the earth with
a lot of niggers that ain't supposed to know the muzzle of a musket from
the stock."

The new sailors made no reply to this rather bold remark, and I fancied
from the expression on their faces that they did not believe we would
find it very easy work to do the "wiping," even though the Typees were
ignorant as to the use of a musket.

These jolly fellows also told us another yarn which caused some
surprise, and led us to wonder whether we might not find more of our
countrymen on the island.

According to the story which they had heard from the Happars, a small
schooner had gone ashore further up the coast, and at least one of her
crew was yet living with the Typees, which went to prove, according to
my way of thinking, that these natives were not quite the cannibals
they had been represented; although Phil suggested that the man, too
lean for good eating, was thus being kept until he had gathered fat
enough for the roasting.

However, we gave but little heed to the story, because in the first
place, none of our visitors had seen the man, and secondly, owing to the
fact that the natives might easily have been mistaken.

Perhaps it would have been better for Phil and me had we paid more
attention to the yarn and kept it well in mind.

Next morning when the captain and two of the lieutenants went on shore,
Mr. Maury accompanied them. He, having learned the language, was to act
as interpreter, which assistance, so all hands believed, would help us
along in great shape.

It was owing to my cousin, Lieutenant McKnight, that Phil and I had an
opportunity of seeing the landing, which was a rare sight, I assure you.

When the boat's crew was called away Stephen motioned for us two lads to
take our places in the boat, and since each of us pulled an oar, it is
doubtful if the captain knew that we were out of place.

The natives had been swimming around our ship since early daylight,
passing up fruit and flowers until the gun-deck of the _Essex_ had much
the appearance of a country fair-ground; and now when the captain was
rowed ashore they followed our boat, tossing and tumbling in the water
like a lot of seals, or, perhaps, mermaids, though I'm not just certain
how these last would act under the same circumstances.

Well, the natives gave Captain Porter a fine reception,--though perhaps
they would have made him into a stew but for the fact that they were
needing help in their war,--and, later in the day, we learned by way of
the marines that our commander had agreed to do whatever he might to end
the war.

As we were situated he couldn't have done less than agree to this, so
our old sea lawyers declared after a tremendous lot of jawing; for
unless the natives were willing to help us with the repairs and keep the
peace, Nukuheva harbor was no place for us.

During the afternoon one watch from each ship was given shore leave, and
every Happar who owned a house set out his best in the way of a feast
for the frolicsome sailors.

We were given quarts and quarts of peoo-peoo, which looks exactly like
thick flour paste and tastes like a nice stew, and in the eating of it
we made fun enough for the natives to keep them laughing half a
life-time. It seems, as we learned afterward, that the people stick
their finger into the stuff, twist it around a bit, and manage to hook
up a portion as large as a walnut; but there's considerable of a knack
in that kind of work, as we soon learned to our cost.

Master Hackett, Phil, and I, the guests of an old native who was covered
with tattooing till his body looked like a piece of calico, contrived to
cover our hands and face with the sticky stuff; and if the old woman who
appeared to be our host's wife had not swabbed us off with a mop, we
would have been glued fast to whatever we touched.

We were also treated to the milk of young cocoanuts, which comes
precious near being the best drink you ever tasted, and fruit of all
kinds, which would have been received with more show of gratitude but
for the fact that the gun-deck of the _Essex_ was literally lumbered up
with such stuff.

Describe what we saw and did that afternoon? It's beyond me entirely,
and I must give over the attempt by saying that it was the queerest and
quite the most enjoyable half day I ever spent. Of course we couldn't do
any chinning with the natives; but we looked at them and laughed, and
they looked at us laughing still harder, until we managed to get the
same idea they probably did, that the whole boiling of us were firm
friends forever.

I wish you could have seen those boys and girls swim! They were like so
many ducks in the water, and spent the greater portion of their time,
when there was no company at home, drifting around the bay with, so far
as Phil and I could make out, no effort whatever to keep themselves

Next morning the other watch was given shore leave, and meanwhile our
officers were making preparations for the war which must be fought
before we could set about getting the fleet into trim for another rub
with the Britishers.

There was more than one man on our gun-deck who began to believe, now
there was no question but we should have a scrimmage ashore, that it was
risky for our captain to take any part in the quarrel, and the argument
they put forth was a good one, as even Master Hackett was forced to

In the first place we were so few in numbers that not a single vessel in
the fleet was fully manned, and there would be no opportunity to enlist
others to make up a crew. Every man killed or disabled would weaken our
force just so much when we met the British ships of war, and such
chances as these we had no right to take.

In the second place our jackies understood nothing about fighting on
land, particularly in such a wild country as we saw before us. The
natives might not be overly well armed; but we knew for a fact that they
possessed weapons of some kind and could use them to good advantage.

"How much show would an old shellback who must depend upon a cutlass or
a boarding pike, stand against these black fellows in a bit of woods so
thick that you couldn't swing a cat?" one of the men asked, and Master
Hackett replied sharply:--

"We've muskets enough to arm all hands, an' I allow that you've got
sense enough to pull the trigger after the piece has been loaded, eh?"

"I can do that much all right, matey; but what about the rest of it.
While I'm mixed up with a lot of bushes tryin' to reload, how am I to
keep the villains from comin' to close quarters where I'm outclassed?"

"If you're goin' to pick up sich imaginin's as that, I reckon you
wouldn't be fit timber for a shore fight; but I'd hate to say I was a
Yankee, an' didn't dare to stand up in front of these heathen."

"I'm willin' enough to stand up pervidin' I can find out what it all
amounts to. We're mixin' in this 'ere row without gettin' any benefit
from it."

"We shall have the use of the bay while we're refittin', an' won't
stand in danger of bein' knocked over by a dirty heathen and a club."

"There's plenty of islands about here with bays as big as we need, an'
no bloomin' war on hand," the old barnacle said in a surly tone,
whereupon Master Hackett jumped upon him, so to speak:--

"How do you know that? Have you been knockin' 'round these seas so many
years that you can call to mind every hole and corner? If three white
men can live here a matter of ten months, as we know has been the case,
why isn't it the choice island of the whole group for us?"

"I ain't kickin' about the island; it's the war that sticks in my crop."

"Let it stick there then," Master Hackett growled. "Send word aft that
you've got a rush of light-colored blood to the head, an' ain't fit to
be trusted ashore. I reckon the captain will let you off without makin'
much of a fuss."

"See here, Hiram Hackett, you're too free with your tongue, an' that's
no lie either. When I try to get out of a scrimmage, jest let me know,
an' I'll make you a present of the best pair of black eyes you ever
wore. I reckon a man can have his growl without it bein' told all over
the ship that he's gettin' weak in the upper story, eh?"

This last remark brought the squabble to a close, and each man appeared
to think that he had come off at the top of the heap, when, according to
my idea, they ended in the same place they began.

Phil and I did a good bit of thinking and arguing over this new war in
which we were to take part; but we were mighty careful not to speak of
it where any sailorman might hear us, and in the meantime we watched and
took part in the preparations.

On the third day after our arrival a crowd of Typees appeared on the
crests of the mountains, brandishing spears and clubs as if they counted
on killing and eating us in short order.

One of the marines told us of the gun-deck that Captain Porter had sent
word to the Typees that he had force enough to take possession of the
island, and if they didn't mind their eyes and keep peaceable, he'd
settle the hash of the whole tribe before their chief could so much as
say, scat! I didn't believe the yarn, however, for if all that Mr.
Maury's sailormen had told us was true, where did the captain find a
messenger to carry his threats?

Phil and I had supposed, from the preparations which were being made,
and the talk we had heard, that we'd begin our share of the war before
work was commenced on the vessels; but this we soon learned was a

The muskets, cutlasses, and ammunition had been taken out where we might
get at them handily, I suppose, and the boats were fitted up with small
2-pounder guns, after which we were set to work on other duties.

Camps, made of spare sails, were set up in a grove a short distance from
the shore, and the frigate pulled in where we might clean her bottom by
diving, or, what was better still, hire the natives to do it.

Phil and I were detailed for shore duty, and we had a soft snap of it,
since our only work was to help the cooks; and while the men were
setting up rigging, scraping spars, or slushing down the masts, we
loafed in the cool grove, enjoying ourselves mightily.

We didn't see anything that looked like war, except once in a while when
a crowd of Typees came out on the top of the mountain and shook their
clubs at us; but all that was such harmless amusement for them, and did
not interfere with us in the slightest, that we came to think of the
promise to the natives as something already forgotten.

Now and again we would hear of the white man who was with the Typees,
evidently enjoying himself, and more than one of our crew seemed to
think it was the captain's duty to go in search of him; but nothing was
done in that line, and meanwhile the work on the fleet was progressing
in great shape.

All the ships had been cleaned of the marine growth which prevented them
from sailing at their best speed, and on each a fair share of other work
had been done.

Captain Porter had given out that the name of the bay was to be
"Massachusetts" instead of Nukuheva; but otherwise than that, and the
fact that we had grown fast friends with the natives, particularly the
girls and young fellows, all was as when we first arrived.

Then came the day when we found that our commander meant all he
promised, so far as taking a hand in the war was concerned.

The Typees, having danced and shaken their clubs without being
disturbed, probably came to believe that we wouldn't attempt to do them
any harm if they cut capers with the Happars, so they began operations
by coming into the valley one dark night, tearing down houses, trampling
over gardens, and killing bread-fruit trees.

The scoundrels did a big lot of mischief, and having grown bolder by
action, even had the cheek to send a messenger to Captain Porter with
the announcement that he was a coward who didn't dare come on the

Master Hackett was near by when the Typee boy arrived, and heard Mr.
Maury translate the message. This is the old sailor's story:--

"The captain kept his face straight when the lad begun, and then Mr.
Maury tried to back down from repeatin' all that was said; but our
commander wouldn't have any such sneakin' as that. 'Repeat every word,
sir!' he cried, an' the little midshipman went at it lookin' as if he
counted on bein' kicked after it was finished. When all was said, the
captain sent his message back, which was this: 'Tell him who sent you
that I will be on the mountain before the sun has risen three times, an'
then it will be seen which of us is the coward.' The boy went off,
though some of the Happars claimed he ought 'er be killed jest for the
sake of keepin' their hand in at such work; an' I reckon we'll know
mighty soon what it's like to be standin' up against a lot of niggers
with nothin' but a musket an' a cutlass to help out."

The island war was to be begun, and I felt very uncomfortable in the
region of my spine, for there was good reason to believe I would soon
succeed in proving myself an arrant coward.


[1] Herman Melville.



Phil and I were not the only ones who felt disturbed in mind by the
knowledge that within a few hours we should be waging war against the

Many an old shellback shook his head ominously on hearing of the message
sent by Captain Porter, and more than one predicted that the "luck of
the _Essex_" would desert her immediately we began to "fool 'round on
shore, sticking our noses into other people's business."

It was not for a couple of lads like Phil and me to criticise the
movements of our commander, and yet we did venture to do so when certain
there was no one within earshot to repeat our words where trouble might
be brewed for us.

Thus far we had succeeded in carrying on the work of refitting, with no
interruption whatsoever,--unless you might reckon it a disturbing
influence to have a crowd of Typees on a hill-top two or three miles
away shaking their clubs at us,--and, so far as any one could say, we
might be able to continue at the task until it was finished.

At all events, so Phil argued, it would be wiser if we kept at work as
long as possible, and knocked off to fight only when it was absolutely
necessary to do so in order to save our lives or protect our property.

It was not reasonable to suppose that our sailormen would be able to
make much of a fist at fighting amid the thickets and on the cliffs
against those who had been accustomed all their lives to such work, even
though ours might be superior weapons; and should we gain the victory,
the cost might be greater than we could afford.

When a commander lacks a sufficient number of men to handle all the
vessels of his fleet, it surely seems like taking a great risk to run
the chance of having that number made less by the spears of an enemy, to
vanquish whom can be no very great honor.

Thus Phil and I argued; but there was another phase of this war which
struck us more keenly, although we did not talk about it very much.
Suppose any of us should be taken prisoners! There appeared to be no
question but that the natives were cannibals, and the idea of being
cooked and eaten was something so horrible that we did not venture to
so much as speak of it. The possible fact remained in our minds more
clearly, perhaps, because we did not put the thoughts into words.

It did not afford any great relief to know that Master Hackett had very
much the same mental trouble. After we three had done our share in
bringing on shore a 6-pounder to be used in the battle on the mountain,
and were lying in the grove taking a short rest, the old man said
musingly, as if speaking to himself:--

"I don't reckon him as serves for the roast at one of these 'ere feasts
knows very much about what's goin' on, seein's how he's dead an' baked;
but it has always struck me that I'd rather have a grave in the ground,
than inside one of these 'ere niggers."

"Do you suppose they eat all who are killed in battle?" Phil asked, his
voice trembling perceptibly.

"It would come to that in the end, lad; though if the fight was a big
one, I reckon some of them as were dead would have to be salted down."

"I wish we were to get under way to-morrow, instead of going out through
that tangle of trees and vines to prove that Captain Porter is no
coward," Phil said with a sigh.

"So do I, lad. I reckon we could refit our ships without doin' very
much fightin', an' what little trouble might be necessary could be
carried on here in the open, where we sailormen would have a fair show."

More than this Master Hackett did not say at the time, but from it I
understood that he had come to look upon a battle with the Typees as
something which might well be postponed until we had a larger crew.

I must say a word in favor of our commander's decision, otherwise it may
be thought that he sent his men into danger without due cause.

In order to gain the assistance of those natives living near about the
bay, he had been forced to promise the Happars that he would give the
Typees a lesson such as they deserved; and now was come the time when
that should be done, otherwise we might count on having trouble with
those who had stood our friends.

While Master Hackett and we lads were taking our ease in the grove, a
party of natives numbering two or three hundred carried the 6-pounder to
the summit of the nearest mountain, and from that moment until the
expedition was really begun the Happar warriors continued to come in
from their homes ready for battle until there were not less, so my
cousin, Lieutenant McKnight, declared, than two thousand men stationed
on or near the hill where was the gun, all in something approaching
military order.

These soldiers were most imposing in appearance, even though they were
heathen. The ordinary costume, now they were attired for battle, was
much like this, and I have taken the description from a writer who,
having lived two years among them, can well be considered as an

"The splendid, long, drooping tail-feathers of the tropical bird,
thickly interspersed with the gaudy plumage of the cock, were disposed
in an immense upright semicircle upon his head, their lower extremities
being fixed in a crescent of guinea-beads which spanned the forehead.
Around his neck were several enormous necklaces of boar's tusks,
polished like ivory, and disposed in such a manner that the longest #and
largest were upon his capacious chest.

"Thrust forward through the large apertures in his ears were two small
and finely shaped sperm-whale teeth, presenting their cavities in front,
stuffed with freshly plucked leaves, and curiously wrought at the other
end into strange little images and devices. The loins of the warrior
were girt about with heavy folds of dark-colored tappa, hanging before
and behind in clusters of braided tassels, while anklets and bracelets
of curling human hair completed his unique costume. In his right hand
he grasped a beautifully carved paddle spear, nearly fifteen feet in
length, made of the bright koa wood, one end sharply pointed, and the
other flattened like an oar blade.

"Hanging obliquely from his girdle by a loop of sinnate, was a richly
decorated pipe; the slender stem was colored with a red pigment, and
round it, as well as the idol-bowl, fluttered little streamers of
thinnest tappa. But that which was most-remarkable in the appearance of
the splendid islander was the elaborate tattooing displayed on every
noble limb. All imaginable lines and curves and figures were delineated
over his whole body, and in their grotesque variety and infinite
profusion I could only compare them to the crowded groupings of quaint
patterns we sometimes see in costly pieces of lacework."

Now fancy that two thousand of these fierce-looking fellows were hanging
around, while you knew that just over the mountain were seven or eight
thousand more, and you will have some idea of how Phil and I felt when
we knew that our little company of white people were to make, or help
make war, understanding full well that the dead and those taken
prisoners would serve as food for the living victors.

It was by no means a cheering prospect, view it from whatever
standpoint you choose.

However, all troubles are greatest when looked at from a distance, and
this was no exception to the rule.

On the morning of the second day, when Phil and I had worked ourselves
into a regular perspiration of fear, the Happar army, with the exception
of those on the mountain guarding the 6-pounder, were drawn up near the
beach awaiting the coming of our men before proceeding to smoke out the

I listened in fear and trembling to hear the order for all hands to fall
into line, and my surprise was as great as my relief, which is putting
it very strong, when I learned that Captain Porter did not count on
risking many of his men in an encounter.

Forty sailors and marines had already been told off, and Lieutenant
Downes was placed in command, after which Mr. Maury was ordered to let
the Happar leaders know that our force was ready.

Master Hackett was not among the number chosen, and although he had
protested that we had no right to take part in this war, he appeared
decidedly disgruntled because of being left behind.

"I see they've taken the younger sailors," he said to Phil and me as we
watched the small body of white men, completely encircled by the
fierce-looking savages, march off toward the mountain. "If the captain
thinks that a crowd of boys will do the work of men, then I allow he's
makin' the mistake of his life."

"After all that's been said against the war, you ought to be well
satisfied that you're not called upon to take part," I said in surprise,
whereat the old man turned upon me as if in anger.

"It makes no difference what I think, when a part of the crew are called
out on an expedition like this. It's my right to go with 'em, an'
perhaps Captain Porter will come to the conclusion, before this day is
ended, that he's made a mistake in puttin' all his dependence on young
fellows who haven't had experience enough to steady them!"

Neither Phil nor I were disposed to quarrel with that which enabled us
to remain in a position of at least partial security, while the other
poor fellows were perspiring and fuming as they made their way through
the jungle on a six-mile tramp.

It would be no slight task to scale the mountains when the heat, even
while one remained on the seashore, was most intense; and we could well
fancy what the temperature must be amid the thicket.

Ten minutes after the rear-guard of the army had passed by our
lounging-place, the entire force was hidden from view by the foliage,
and we saw nothing more of them until two hours later, when the foremost
of the gaudily bedecked warriors appeared on the naked mountain-side
above the line of trees.

At such a distance they looked like ants, rather than human beings; and
finding it impossible to distinguish our men from the savages, we ceased
to strain our eyes, accounting it too much of an exertion while the heat
was so great.

Mr. Maury had told us that the Typees had a strong fort on the summit of
the second mountain, and it was probable the engagement, if one ensued,
would be at such a distance from the shore that we could have no view of
it whatsoever; therefore we set about our duties of waiting upon the
cooks, well content with such menial offices as we thought of our
shipmates in the forest.

Master Hackett found enough on board the _Essex_ to occupy his time
profitably, and half an hour after the army set forth, all hands of us
on the shore of the bay were working as quietly as if there was no
possibility a battle would be fought which might affect us most keenly.

Until dinner had been cooked and eaten we two lads found little
opportunity for conversation with one another; but after the meal had
come to an end, and those detailed for work upon the ships were at their
tasks once more, our hour of idleness was come.

We were at liberty to do as we pleased until it was time to prepare
supper, and Phil said, when I started for our old lounging-place, the

"With all the afternoon before us, why shouldn't we have a look at
what's going on over yonder?" and he pointed toward the mountain summit.

"Do you mean that we, being clear of such danger because of our duties,
shall voluntarily take part in a fight?" I asked in surprise.

"I'm not counting on having anything to do with one, save as spectator,"
he replied with a laugh. "Mr. Maury has said that the Typee fort is on
the second summit, therefore our people have far to go before beginning
their work. Now, it wouldn't be such a very hard task for us to climb to
the top of this first mountain and there have a full view of all that's
being done. A battle between savages must be something fine, and there
are few lads who ever had such an opportunity as is ours if we choose to
take advantage of it."

There was much of truth in what he said. The idea had not come into my
head before, that I might, from some secure spot, see all that was being
done, but now that it had been suggested I was decidedly in favor of the

True, it would cost us severe labor to climb the mountain-side; but the
descent would be easy, and surely we could well afford to spend some of
our strength in order to witness such a sight as might at this moment be

"I'm with you," was my reply as I rose quickly to my feet. "Shall we
tell Master Hackett what we propose doing?"

"There's no real need of it, and it would cost us a good half hour's
time to go out to the _Essex_ and back. By hurrying up a bit now, we can
be down here again before he has knocked off work."

"Come on!" I cried gleefully, and we ran forward, following the
footsteps of the war party until we were come to some huge boulders
about two miles from the shore, directly over which the trail seemed to

"We can afford to go around such a barrier as that," I said lazily, as
we came to a halt. "The savages, accustomed to such climbing, and in
haste to get into position, most likely took the shortest cut."

Phil was of my opinion, and thus each of us proved himself to be a
simple, for we should have realized that the Happars would take the best
course, and if a pile of boulders might be avoided by a slight detour,
they would not hesitate about making it.

We went on our own course, however, and after climbing for half an hour
over the mossy slope which seemed slippery as glass, found the barrier
still on the port side, with no indication of coming to an end.

"It can't make much difference to us," Phil said cheerily. "We're not
bound for the Typee fort; but only ask for a place where we can see what
is being done on the next mountain."

During fully half an hour more we climbed, and then, without warning,
found ourselves in the midst of tall yellow weeds growing together as
thickly as they could stand, and as tough and stubborn as so much iron.

I tried to force them apart with my hands; but such an attempt was
useless, and, half crouching, I brought my shoulder to bear against the
yellow stalks, when I found it possible, by the exercise of all my
strength, to move forward slowly.

We toiled on for thirty minutes more, expecting each instant to come to
the end of the growth, and then Phil threw himself down exhausted.

The reeds closed in upon us as we advanced, and thus we were completely
shut out from any breath of air which might be stirring. The heat was
more intense than I had ever experienced, and it seemed almost
impossible that I could continue the ascent ten minutes longer.

"We'd best put back, and try our luck over the boulders!" Phil said,
panting so heavily that it was only with difficulty he could speak

"We've fought our way through this stuff for an hour, and it will take
us as long to go back," I said petulantly. "It stands to reason that we
must come to an end of such work very soon, and we'd better push on, if
only to find an easier way of descent."

Phil made no decided objection to this proposition, and after a short
time of rest I led the way once more, straining my eyes in vain for some
token that we were near the end of this most fatiguing journey.

On, on we pressed, I wishing most devoutly that I had never fallen in
with Phil's scheme, and then, suddenly, the ironlike weeds became less
dense. It was possible to make my way with far less exertion, and I
shouted the joyful information to Phil, who I knew needed something to
cheer him on.

"We're getting out where it will be possible to take our choice of
paths!" I cried; "and if you're of the same opinion, we won't travel
many miles farther for the sake of seeing a battle between the savages,
but make our way back to the shore."

I had no more than thus spoken when there was a rustling of the stiff
stalks just in front of me, and looking up quickly I saw the muzzle of a
musket within three or four inches of my face.

While standing like a statue gazing at the metal tube, so much surprised
that it was impossible to speak, a voice cried harshly:--

"Throw down your weapon, or I'll put a bullet through you."

"We haven't any weapons!" I cried; and a great simple I was for having
given such information.

Then there came into my mind the thought that he who had shouted must be
one of our men, because it was not probable there were any on the island
besides them who spoke English, and I cried gleefully to Phil:--

"Come on, lad, we've run upon our sailors!"

Phil increased his pace as much as possible, and was just at my heels
when I stepped out to find myself confronted by none other than the lad
who, I had good reason for believing, was in prison at
Valparaiso--Oliver Benson.

He stood there grinning, with musket at his shoulder, ready to fire at
the first show of enmity from either of us.

Phil was quite as much astonished as I had been, when finally he came
into view; but it was possible for him to speak, and he cried:--

"Where did you come from?"

"The last port I left was Valparaiso, where you and your friends spent
so much time lodging me in jail. I'm stopping on this island just now
with the natives who count on wiping your folks out of sight this
afternoon, and I had an idea that you two young scoundrels might be
picked up in the rear of the sailors, for I knew full well you wouldn't
be found in front."

We stood gazing at him in speechless astonishment, and he, grinning as
usual, seemed to enjoy our display of cowardice.

"Come up here one at a time and turn your pockets inside out."

"What's this for?" I asked; but at the same moment taking good care to
obey promptly.

"I want to make certain you haven't any weapons."

"We're willing to give you our word as to that," Phil said promptly.

"I'd rather have better proof," the Britisher replied sharply; and in a
very few seconds we convinced him of our defenceless condition.

While we were thus being overhauled, I asked myself bitterly how it
chanced that we had been such idiots as to leave camp without so much as
a knife between us; but could find no satisfactory answer to the

When he was convinced that we were really without weapons, Benson laid
the musket carefully down at his feet and drew a huge clasp-knife, which
he opened.

"Stand around here!" he commanded sharply, and, as a matter of course,
we did as we were bidden.

Then the fellow drew from his pocket a small coil of ratline-stuff with
which he proceeded to tie my left arm to Phil's right one in such a
manner that we could not get at the knots with our free hands.

Now we were entirely in his power and he proceeded to get such
satisfaction as was possible out of the capture.

"Look at me!" he said sharply. "Did you count that there wouldn't be a
day of reckoning when you left me in jail?"

"We never thought anything about it," I replied, my anger causing me to
appear bold. "You deserved punishment, and should be behind the bars
this very moment."

"You evidently know very little about Chilian jails," he went on
complacently. "Money will buy the freedom of any prisoner who is not
accused of murder, and even such an one has been known to escape if he
could show gold enough to convince the keepers. As soon as your
miserable ships were out of the harbor, I quietly walked away one fine
night, for I'd made enough selling Yankees to have a very
respectable-sized hoard where no one could get at it but myself."

"But how did you chance to be on this island?" Phil asked, curiosity
overcoming his fear.

"I took passage on a craft bound to the Galapagos on a trading voyage.
We met heavy weather, and were cast away here. Four came ashore; but
three have been roasted, and I'm living on the fat of the land, having
shown the king of the Typees that I can be of more service to him alive
than dead."

"Then you knew we were in Nukuheva Bay?" I stammered, so much surprised
that I could not speak in proper fashion.

"Of course I did, and more than once I've crept near enough the shore to
see you lads. I made up my mind that you would soon be where I could
work off old scores, and began operations by advising the king to send
that message to Captain Porter, knowing he'd come out. I believed you
two sneaks would be with the war-party; but on finding you had hung
back, like cowards, was on my way to learn where you were."

Having made such explanation Benson, who had been seated while we stood
like culprits before him, leaned back in a more comfortable fashion,
surveying us gloatingly.

"Well, what do you propose doing with us now that the plan has worked to
your satisfaction?"

"I count on waiting here till your crew and the Happars have been
thoroughly whipped, when I'll take you into the valley and see Typees
roast you in proper fashion. I know how it's done, for I saw the three
who came on shore with me slaughtered and cooked in fine style. My only
trouble is, they'll cut your throats as if you were pigs, and that's too
easy a death for those who did what they could to keep me in jail."

I had no doubt whatsoever but that the wretch would do exactly as he had
said, and it is not surprising that I literally grew sick with terror.

Involuntarily I glanced at Phil. His face was pallid, and beadlike
drops of perspiration stood on his forehead, telling of the fear in his

It was reasonable to suppose that Benson was well acquainted with the
paths from one mountain to the other, and could readily keep out of the
way of the Happar army, whether it should be successful or beaten. There
appeared to be no ray of hope for us; but I did my poor best to prevent
the murderous Britisher from understanding what was in my heart.

Phil showed himself braver than was I, for instead of being forced to
spend his time trying to keep himself from showing cowardice, he could
afford to indulge in anger, and he cried, bold as if we were the masters
instead of Benson:--

"It's a bad practice to crow very loudly before you've worked your will.
We have more friends on this island than you may claim; and if it so
chances that you can turn us over to the cannibals, they will make you

"If the situation was different, my bantam, I'd admit that what you say
might turn out true; but your people haven't any idea that Oliver Benson
is anywhere except in the jail at Valparaiso, and will set it all down
to the account of the Typees. I shouldn't cry very much if a few hundred
of them were killed to pay for having eaten you."

After that we fell silent for a time, Benson eying us greedily, as if
he had it in mind to learn what human flesh tasted like, and Phil and I
trying in vain to devise some relief from our troubles.

There was no way out, as I speedily came to believe. This vindictive
fellow could easily keep us hidden from the returning Happars, and that
the Typees would welcome more captives we knew full well.

When perhaps fifteen minutes had passed and Benson gave no sign of
leaving this hiding-place in the stiff weeds, Phil asked curtly:--

"How much longer do you count on staying here? There'll be no chance of
seeing us roasted, unless you try a hand at the cooking, while we are
hidden in this place."

"You shall have a chance to travel in due time, so don't grow impatient.
I reckon on staying here until the battle is over, and then there won't
be any risk, so far as I am concerned, in going across the valley."

Even as he spoke I fancied it was possible to hear faintly the report of
muskets; but it might have been that my imagination played me a trick,
because I was eager to hear such sounds close at hand.

We remained standing in front of Benson, while he lolled on the ground
at his ease, until it seemed impossible to remain on my feet another
second longer. The work of climbing up the mountain had brought us
almost to the verge of exhaustion, which was forgotten for the time
being in our fears, but now made itself felt more keenly than before.

Save for that of which I have already spoken, not a sound had been heard
to give token that there were other human beings on the island, and I
began to believe that neither Happars nor Typees were within many miles
of us.

"Look here, Benson," I finally said, speaking as though he was in my
power rather than I in his, "if you keep us standing here much longer
it'll be a case of carrying us bodily to the roasting-place, for we've
had more of a tramp this day than is really good for our bones."

"If you so much as move a finger, I'll shoot you like curs."

"Shoot and have done with it!" Phil cried boldly, scuffling his feet and
waving his arm to provoke the fellow. "I allow that it's within your
power to carry us where we'll be roasted and eaten, therefore the
greatest favor you can do is to shoot now without further parley."

Having said this Phil threw himself on the ground, dragging me with
him, and I could have kissed the lad for displaying so much spirit while
I was acting the more cowardly part.

Benson did not shoot, and for two very good reasons: first, he wanted to
carry us in as prisoners that he might gain credit for having captured
two white fellows; and secondly, because he dared not discharge his
musket, lest by so doing he bring down upon him a party of Happars, or,
perhaps, some of our own men.

I believe that I would have welcomed death if it came in the guise of a
musket ball, so positive did I feel that we should be delivered to the
Typees within a certain length of time, when I had good cause for
knowing what our fate would be; and I would have done anything within my
power to provoke him into killing us quickly, even though I was usually
so cowardly when death seemed near at hand.

Strange, and almost extravagant, as it may seem, Phil's eyes were closed
in slumber within a very few minutes after he was stretched at full
length upon the ground. The dear lad was so nearly exhausted after his
long climb and the subsequent struggle with the stiff yellow weeds, that
bodily fatigue caused him to forget the danger.

I, who was probably less weary, could not have lost myself in the
unconsciousness of slumber even though my bed had been the most
rest-inviting ever made. Death was standing very near to me at that
time, and I believed the supreme moment must come before many hours had
passed, for it was not probable we would be aided by those of our crew
who had gone to fight the battles of the friendly Happars.

Then, after many moments, came a gleam of light into my mind. Benson's
eyes were beginning to grow narrow; I saw his head droop on his bosom,
and he roused up with a start, thus showing that slumber would be
grateful to him. Then it was that a great hope looked in at my heart.

If he should be overcome by slumber, it was not impossible that Phil and
I might be able to creep up on him so far as to gain possession of the
musket; and once that weapon was in our hands, we would give the villain
a most pressing invitation to go with us to where he could have a second
interview with Captain Porter.

I watched him as a cat watches a mouse, literally holding my breath in
suspense, and ready to take any chance, however desperate, when the
opportunity should come.



Then, when I was praying most fervently that sleep would overpower him,
his head drooped lower and lower until I understood that the chains of
slumber had bound him for a certain time at least.

It was most unfortunate that Phil was also asleep. I tugged gently at
his arm, not daring to make any movement which would result in the
slightest noise; but without arousing him. Had his eyes been open as
wide as were mine, I venture to say that without a peradventure we might
have succeeded in gaining our freedom.

As it was, however, it became necessary to awaken him, regardless of the
possibility that Benson might take alarm, and I pressed my free hand
over his mouth while I prodded him vigorously with my shoulder.

Even such a violent effort as this failed of its purpose until after
three or four precious moments had elapsed, and then he stared up into
my face inquiringly:--

Softly as possible I whispered in his ear:--

"Benson is asleep; by leaping upon him suddenly we should be able to get
the upper hands, bound though we are."

Now he understood what I would have him do, and motioned that he was
ready for any venture.

Together we worked our way toward the sleeping Britisher. It is not to
be supposed that we two, fettered as we were, could move without making
some noise; but yet we advanced with reasonable stillness until arriving
within two feet of Benson.

It was my idea that we throw ourselves upon him, pinning the villain
where he lay, with the chance that during the struggle one or the other
of us lads might gain possession of the musket.

There was no time to decide upon any combined course of action, for it
would have been in the highest degree dangerous had we attempted to
carry on a whispered conversation just then.

We rose to our feet softly; but were hardly more than standing erect
when Benson leaped up as if he had been watching from under his eyelids,
and in a twinkling struck me down with the butt of his musket.

Phil would most likely have been treated to the same kind of a dose;
but, as a matter of course, he fell when I did, or, rather, was dragged
down by me, and the Britisher stood over us with a grin of satisfaction.

"Thought to get the best of me, eh?" he asked in a loud voice. "Do you
two lads think I'm to be done up like a lamb?"

Then he began kicking us, helpless though we were, and I believed that
more than one of our bones would be broken before he came to an end of
such amusement.

We endured the punishment in silence, for it would have afforded him too
much satisfaction had we cried aloud with pain, and not until he was
wearied with the exertion did he cease.

"You're going into the valley of the Typees, my fine birds, kick against
it as you may; and I shall see you roasted and eaten before eight and
forty hours have passed!"

Phil was about to make an angry reply; but I prodded him with my
shoulder as token that he remain silent, for it was giving this brute
too much pleasure to bandy words with him.

Now that our attempt at escape had failed, there was no doubt in my mind
but that what he said would come true, and I bent all my energies to
appearing unconcerned; but fearing meanwhile that at the supreme moment
I should give evidence of the cowardice in my heart.

Benson knew, of course, that he had fallen asleep, and most likely had
no idea of how long a time he remained unconscious. He must have
believed that the nap lasted quite a while, for now he began hurriedly,
after having berated us to his heart's content, to look about with a
view to continuing the journey.

He forced us to remain perfectly quiet, threatening to fell us with his
musket if we made any noise, while he listened for some token of friend
or foe.

No sound was heard; it seemed as if we, among all the inhabitants of the
island, were the only ones upon the mountain.

"I reckon we'll move ahead," he said at length. "You two cubs are to
march in front of me; and if you try to kick up any bobbery, I'll put a
stop to it by a blow over the head,--such as won't kill outright, but
will give a good idea of what's to follow. Step out now, and don't dare
to shout! It won't do you any good, and will cost a lot of trouble."

We obeyed; what else was there for us to do? My head was humming like a
top from the effects of the blow he had already delivered, and I knew
full well he would not hesitate to maltreat us in any way which came to
his evil mind.

After we had marched straight ahead for half an hour over a trail which
led first up and then down a stiff slope, we heard sounds of triumph and
joyful songs from what appeared to be a large party three or four
hundred yards to the left of us.

Benson stopped suddenly, listened an instant, and then a look of
perplexity came over his face, the reason for which I could not so much
as guess.

When the noise had died away in the distance, those who made it being
apparently on their way to the bay, Benson ordered us forward once more;
but he had lost his confident bearing, and seemed to be studying deeply
over some vexing problem.

He continued in such mood until we arrived at what had evidently been at
some time a flourishing village, but was now only a smoking ruin.

Phil and I glanced at each other in triumph. Now we understood why
Benson was perplexed. He had recognized the shouts of triumph as coming
from the Happars instead of the Typees, and began to believe his friends
had lost the battle. Until that moment he was confident the Typees could
vanquish any force sent against them, and that the fact had thus been
disproved, probably worried him.

I was at a loss to understand whether this might work to our benefit or
injury; but for the time being it pleased me that Benson was not
getting along as swimmingly as he fancied when we first ran so unluckily
upon him.

The Britisher stood facing the ruins for an instant as if at a loss to
know what course to pursue, and then he bade us march ahead of him up a
narrow path which led to the right through a dense thicket.

We travelled at a smart pace for fifteen or twenty minutes, and then
were come to a dwelling, unoccupied, which Benson entered without
hesitation and with evident relief of mind.

This same house has been described by another, and I can do no better
than give his exact words in picturing it:--

"About midway up the ascent of a rather abrupt rise of ground waving
with richest verdure, a number of large stones were laid in successive
courses to the height of nearly eight feet, and disposed in such a
manner that their level surface corresponded in shape with the
habitation which was perched upon it.

"A narrow space, however, was reserved in front of the dwelling, upon
the summit of this pile of stones (called by the natives a 'pi-pi'),
which, being enclosed by a little picket of canes gave it somewhat the
appearance of a veranda.

"The frame of the house was constructed of large bamboos planted
uprightly, and secured together at intervals by transverse stalks of the
light wood of the hibiscus, lashed with thongs of bark. The rear of the
tenement--built up with successive ranges of cocoanut boughs bound one
upon another, with their leaflets cunningly woven together--inclined a
little from the vertical, and extended from the extreme edge of the
'pi-pi' to about twenty feet from its surface; whence the shelving
roof--thatched with the long, tapering leaves of the palmetto--sloped
steeply off to within about five feet of the floor; leaving the eaves
drooping with tassel-like appendages from the front of the habitation.

"This dwelling was constructed of light and elegant canes, in a kind of
open screen-work, tastefully adorned with bindings of variegated
sinnate, which served to hold together its various parts. The sides of
the house were similarly built; thus presenting three-quarters for the
circulation of the air, while the whole was impervious to the rain.

"In length this picturesque building was perhaps twelve yards, while in
breadth it could not have exceeded as many feet.

"Stooping a little, you passed through a narrow aperture in its front;
and facing you on entering lay two long, perfectly straight, and well
polished trunks of the cocoanut tree, extending the full length of the
dwelling, one of them placed closely against the rear, and the other
lying parallel with it some two yards distant, the interval between them
being spread with a multitude of gayly worked mats, nearly all of a
different pattern. This space formed the common couch and lounging place
of the natives, answering the purpose of a divan in Oriental countries.
Here they would slumber through the hours of the night and recline
luxuriously during the greater part of the day. The remainder of the
floor presented only the cool, shining surfaces of the large stones of
which the 'pi-pi' was composed.

"From the ridge-pole of the house hung suspended a number of large
packages enveloped in coarse tappa; some of which contained festival
dresses and various other matters of the wardrobe held in high
estimation. These were easily accessible by means of a line which,
passing over the ridge-pole, had one end attached to a bundle, while
with the other, which led to the side of the dwelling and was there
secured, the package could be lowered or elevated at pleasure.

"Against the farther wall of the house were arranged in tasteful figures
a variety of spears and javelins and other implements of savage
warfare. Outside of the habitation, and built upon the piazza-like area
in its front, was a little shed used as a sort of larder or pantry, and
in which were stored various articles of domestic use and convenience. A
few yards from the 'pi-pi' was a large shed built of cocoanut boughs,
where the process of preparing the peoo-peoo' was carried on and all
culinary operations attended to."

Such is a good picture of the dwelling which Benson entered, we walking
ahead according to his orders; and here he appeared to be perfectly at

I fancied that he was somewhat surprised because there was no one to
greet him; but he made himself comfortable by lying stretched out on the
divan at full length, while we two lads were ordered to make a
resting-place of the stone floor.

My first glance fell upon the collection of weapons, and I must have
been eying it eagerly, for the Britisher said threateningly:--

"Thinking that if you could get hold of them I might have the worst of
it, eh? Well, don't you dare so much as move, else I'll knock in the
whole top of your head!"

To this threat we made no reply, for it was useless to bandy words with
the fellow, who held us securely in his power. We were so weary that
even the smooth side of a stone seemed rest-inviting, and, despite our
danger, enjoyed this being able to stretch out at full length on our

At that moment, sore in both body and mind, I would have welcomed the
assurance that we were to remain here undisturbed until another morning
had come. But it seemed as if we had no more than settled ourselves down
as well as the rope on our arms would permit, than the head of a native
appeared from around the corner of the building; and after satisfying
himself that there were no enemies to be feared, the owner of the head
entered, followed by no less than ten men, all of whom appeared to have
been having a rough-and-tumble fight.

Benson, without troubling himself to rise, said something to the leader
in the party; and because he pointed at us from time to time, both Phil
and I believed he was giving an account of our capture.

I was literally shaking with fear, fancying we would immediately be
taken out and eaten; but, greatly to my surprise, all the men seemed to
be angry with Benson.

He talked to them sharply for an instant, and was replied to in such
fashion that I understood the villain was alarmed, for he arose with a
certain degree of humility, and began making a long speech.

Before this was ended a large crowd came in, filling the building to
its utmost capacity, and Phil whispered to me:--

"It seems as if every man, woman, and boy had some cause for complaint
against the Britisher, and there's no question but that he's feeling
uncomfortable in mind. I wonder why they don't set about roasting us?"

"I reckon Benson has done something they don't like, and he'll be hauled
over the coals before anything is done with us," and as I spoke a faint
hope sprang up in my heart, although I could not understand that there
was any reason for it.

The Britisher talked for more than ten minutes, the Typees listening to
him most intently; but no sooner had he come to an end than the man who
entered first--he to whom I believed the dwelling belonged--began to
question Benson angrily, and before he was come to an end every man
present was speaking.

Then, when the uproar was greatest, one of the party cut the bonds which
bound Phil and me, indicating by gestures that we were to recline on the
couch just vacated by the Britisher.

This was indeed a startling reception, as compared with what we had
anticipated, and our surprise amounted almost to bewilderment when
another of the party brought us a young cocoanut with the top removed
that we might drink the milk, while a third and fourth offered fruit
which they laid before us on the divan.

While we were thus being treated as honored guests, the majority of the
party were evidently scolding Benson with many a menacing gesture.

"He's got himself into trouble somehow," Phil said with a chuckle of
content, "and we seem to be getting the best of this party. Talk about
your cannibals! Why, these people couldn't treat us any better if they
were missionaries!"

Presently Benson seemed to have lost his temper, and, after loud words,
attempted to stalk out of the building with his musket under his arm.

Before one would have had time to wink, the Britisher was lying on the
stones of the pi-pi, and the chief man of the party was in possession of
the gun.

It was a most startling transformation, and Benson appeared quite as
surprised as Phil and I; but instead of showing fight he rose to a
sitting posture, where he remained as meek as any lamb, evidently
satisfied that it would not be well for him to make further move toward
leaving the building.

With the Britisher thus disposed of, there was a tremendous lot of
jawing done by the men, and at short intervals other parties came up,
the greater number looking as if they had been running, until it seemed
as if we had near us the entire population of the town which had been

Puzzle our brains as we might, Phil and I were wholly at a loss to
understand the meaning of what was going on around us; but were
perfectly satisfied with the position of affairs so far as we were

But for the knowledge that Benson was treated so roughly, I should have
thought that we were being fed up in order to get us in a better
condition for roasting; but it had been shown that he was in disgrace,
and no one could have mistaken the fact that they wished us to look upon
them as our very friendly hosts.

Finally there was a great commotion outside and an old man appeared,
showing by his manner as well as his costume that he was higher in
authority than any of those around him.

The owner of the dwelling now began to tell him about our having been
taken prisoners, as we could understand from the gestures; and when the
story was come to an end, some order was given the Britisher, who came
to his feet all standing.

The chief man--he may have been the king, for all I know--seemed to be
giving Benson a severe rating; and when he had come to an end, our enemy
approached us so sweetly that butter wouldn't have melted in his mouth.
It was difficult then to realize that he was the same villain who had
promised we should be roasted and eaten.

"You lads are to be taken to Nukuheva Bay, if you feel able to walk so
far before resting," he said without raising his eyes.

"Nukuheva Bay!" I repeated in astonishment. "Do you mean that the Typees
no longer intend to serve us up as a roast?" and a glimmer of the truth
now flashed across my mind.

"The Typees are your friends."

"Then how does it happen you reckoned so confidently on our being
killed?" I asked, grown bolder now the danger appeared to be over.

"The Yankees have beaten them in the battle which was fought this
forenoon, and you are to be sent back as a peace offering," Benson said
meekly; but it must have cost him an effort to admit the truth of the

"And what about you?" Phil asked curiously.

"I am in more danger than since the first hour after being cast ashore,
when my companions were being killed. If the battle had gone in the
Typees' favor, then I should have been praised for bringing you in; but
now they make a scapegoat of me, and I stand a good chance of being
roasted myself before this scrape is over."

The fellow really believed what he said, and I could not keep down a
feeling of pity for him; but Phil was less soft-hearted, and said

"I think it will be a very nice ending, Master Benson. When you have
satisfied the hunger of these natives, you will probably have done the
first really good deed of your life. Besides, it will save you from
being hanged."

That Benson was thoroughly cowed and terrified could be told from the
fact that he made no reply to this cruel speech, and my pity for him
increased, although it is doubtful if I would have saved him had it been
in my power, unless I knew for a certainty that he would be sent
immediately to a prison from which he could not escape.

The Britisher stood before us silently until one of the men prodded him
with a sharp point of a knife, and he asked humbly:--

"Are you ready to go back to Nukuheva Bay now, or would you like to
rest a while longer?"

"We'll go now," I replied quickly, thinking it wisest to take the Typees
while they were in the humor, lest they should suddenly come to believe
that more might be gained by holding us prisoners; and Phil nodded his
head to show that he was quite in my way of thinking.

No sooner had Benson repeated the words than two men stepped forward,
and the Britisher explained that they would act as our guides during the

"Won't you do good for evil by telling Captain Porter that a white man
is here in great danger of being killed?" he asked piteously. "Whatever
your commander asks now will be granted; and if he sends back such
request by those who conduct you, I shall be saved."

"You would be brought to Nukuheva Bay, and once there our captain would
make you close prisoner."

"I care not what he does, so that I am saved from these cannibals."

"An hour ago they were your very good friends; but now you are howling
to be taken from them," Phil suggested.

"They were my friends, and would be now but for the fact that I advised
them to make war against the Yankees and the Happars, assuring them
they would whip the whole boiling in a twinkling."

"And now, after trying not only to have us killed, but to bring about
the death of all hands, you coax us to save your miserable life!" Phil
cried angrily, whereat half a dozen pairs of hands were stretched out,
pulling the Britisher violently backward until he fell with a thud on
the stones of the pi-pi.

Phil and I rose to our feet, although feeling mighty sore in the joints,
and the throng separated in a friendly fashion to give us passage.

As we walked out of the building Benson cried piteously on us to do what
we could to persuade the captain into demanding his release; and the
last sound we heard on leaving the dwelling where we had fully expected
to meet death in a most horrible form, was his prayers that we would be

The whole change in affairs was rather perplexing, despite the brief
explanation made by Benson; but at the time we gave very little heed to
our ignorance, because of the fact that we were comparatively free once

If I have set down but few words concerning our feelings while we were
prisoners, and afterward when walking rapidly toward Nukuheva Bay, it is
because I cannot even make a beginning at describing our condition of
mind. To be at one moment the most miserable of human beings, and in
another freed from all troubles, is such a wonderful change that words
fail of picturing it.

The Typees who conducted us were not disposed to delay on the journey,
although again and again they asked by gestures if we would like to rest
a while, and to each of these questions in turn we shook our heads most
decidedly. I had no desire for rest, wearied though I was, when a couple
of cannibals were to stand watch over us. The sooner I was out of such
company the better pleased should I be.

There is no reason for making an overly long story of our tramp across
the mountains, for it would be repeating over and over an account of our
great fatigue--fatigue which could not have been borne, I believe, under
less dangerous circumstances.

Not until late in the evening did we come within hailing distance of the
Happar village near the shore of the bay, and then our guides told us by
gestures that we must lead the way. They evidently did not care to take
the chances of advancing boldly into the settlement while all hands were
celebrating the victory which had been won that day.

Neither Phil nor I felt any too secure about suddenly appearing before
the Happars, and instead of entering the village, we stood on the
outskirts shouting "_Essex_ ahoy!" at the full strength of our lungs.

More than fifteen minutes was spent in this effort to summon our
shipmates before the cries were answered, and then who should suddenly
appear before us but Master Hackett!

I fancied he would greet us affectionately after all the dangers we had
encountered; but in this I was mistaken.

"Well, have you two infants got enough of skylarkin'?" he asked in a
severe tone, and Phil cried:--

"Skylarking! If you have any idea we've been enjoying ourselves, it
would please me well for you to have a turn at such fun."

"Don't wag your tongues about nothin'; but tell me where you've been,
an' what you count on doin' with them niggers."

We made a short story of our adventures, for we were so nearly exhausted
that it seemed impossible we could remain on our feet another moment;
but the time had not yet come when we might indulge in rest.

"You're to go aboard that the captain may speak with you, an' I reckon
them two fellers had better keep close behind."

"Can't we speak with the captain in the morning?" I asked, hoping to be
allowed a long trick below in my hammock.

"Not a bit of it. After givin' us all to understand that you'd come to
grief, an' bein' the means of havin' half a dozen men trampin' over
these bloomin' mountains in search of you, the least to be done is to
make a report in proper shape."

Without further protest we followed the old sailor, our Typee guards
keeping close behind us, and as we walked toward the shore I asked
Master Hackett for an account of the day's doings.

"There ain't much of a yarn to it," he replied laughingly. "Our men did
the most of the business, an' might have worked the traverse alone,
accordin' to all accounts. They marched over the mountains, drivin' the
Typees before 'em, until comin' to a kind of fort, where it's said no
less than four thousand of the niggers made a stand. Then the Yankees
an' the 6-pounder got in their work. It wasn't any great shakes of a
battle, 'cause it was so soon over. We drove 'em right an' left, an'
wound up the business by pullin' the fort apart. I reckon all the
natives on this 'ere island think we're the toughest fighters they ever
struck. Our people came in about three o'clock, an' since then we've had
visits from this gang an' that, all claimin' to be our best friends.
When them as have been sent out to search for you get back, they'll be
feelin' sore 'cause a couple of worthless infants have caused 'em so
much hard labor."

Then it was that I thought of Benson's prayers and entreaties until my
heart grew soft, and I asked Master Hackett if he believed the captain
would do anything toward saving his worthless life.

"I allow he will, lad, though it seems like a waste of good breath to
spend it talkin' about him. Even though we are at war with the
Britishers, we can't let one of 'em be roasted an' ate up like a pig;
but I'll guarantee the captain will keep the brute carefully caged till
we can put him into a stronger prison than is to be found in Chili."

"And you believe we should say anything about it to Captain Porter,
after Benson did his best to have us roasted and eaten?" Phil asked

"I do for a fact, lad. Just at present you're hot against him; but in a
month from now you'd be eatin' your heart out if you'd held your tongue
when he might 'er been saved."

We ceased talking of Benson after this, and Master Hackett regaled us
with stories of the battle which he had got from those of our people who
took part in it, until we were on board the ship in Captain Porter's

"Tell me all you have done and seen this day," the captain said when
Master Hackett, with many a flourish and tug at his hair, reported
having found us and our guides.

We obeyed the command, he interrupting us with questions from time to
time, and then Mr. Maury was summoned that he might act as interpreter
for the Typees.

This ended the interview so far as we were concerned, for Master Hackett
dragged us backward out of the cabin, leaving the two savages looking
around very suspiciously.

We had repeated Benson's request, and stated as our belief that he would
speedily be killed and eaten unless a demand was made that he be brought
on board the ship; but to all this the captain gave no reply, and we
left the cabin uncertain as to whether the Britisher would be rescued,
or left to take the punishment he had brought upon himself through
trying to do the Yankees a mischief.

"Why didn't you let us stay and hear what was said?" Phil asked angrily
of Master Hackett when we were outside.

"Because he'd got through with you. Are you thinkin' a couple of
troublesome infants like you can loiter around in the after cabin at
your own sweet will?"

"We might at least have stayed until Captain Porter told us to go," Phil
retorted in an injured tone.

"That's exactly what he did do when he nodded to me. It was jest the
same as if he'd said, 'Take 'em away,' an' I did it to save you from a
wiggin' such as our captain can give a man with more vim than I ever
heard put into it by any one else."

I was not quite certain that Master Hackett had received such a signal;
but it was too late now to repair the mischief, and we went below ready
for our hammocks, as you can well believe.

Never before had I even fancied that a sailor's bed was soft; but on
this night I had been inside of it no more than two minutes before I was
snoring like a top.



Next morning at sunrise Phil and I were routed out by the cry of "All
hands ahoy!" and if we had expected to be received with open arms and by
our shipmates' congratulations on a narrow escape from death, we would
have been most wofully mistaken.

Many of the crew, including those who had been forced to roam over the
mountains in search of us, believed we should be brought up for
punishment because of having left the encampment during hostilities
without orders or permission; and those who held to it that there was no
reason, in the absence of orders to the contrary, why we were not
allowed to move around at will, blamed us severely for being such fools
as to run blindly into the arms of an enemy.

Thus it was that, in one way or another, we had earned a reproof from
all our comrades; and it was administered by their silence or severe
looks when we made our appearance believing a warm reception awaited us.

Even Master Hackett glanced at us reproachfully for a time; but he grew
more friendly as the forenoon wore on, and then we ventured to ask if he
knew what Captain Porter had done in regard to Benson's appeal for aid.

"The two natives stayed aboard all night, an' were set ashore less than
half an hour before you turned out. Of course I don't know what orders
our captain gave them; but I'll wager a doughnut against a dollar that
they'll be here again, bringin' the Britisher with 'em, if it so be he's
yet alive, before sunset."

"What will the men say to being thus careful of a man who admits having
made a business of trapping Yankee sailors in order that he may sell
them like so many slaves?" Phil asked indignantly.

"I ain't overly certain as to what they'll say; but you can set it down
as a fact that never a mother's son of 'em will so much as open his
mouth where there's a chance his words may be repeated aft. Captain
Porter ain't the kind of a seaman that a crew can afford to monkey with.
He'll do as he believes right, no matter what them as sail under him may

This conversation was interrupted by a command which surprised even the
oldest shellbacks among us.

Word was passed that a party of forty men were to take four 6-pounders
from the _Greenwich_, and put them in position on a small hill
overlooking the harbor and our encampment ashore.

Another force was called off to carry empty water-casks to the same
place, and Master Hackett muttered sufficiently loud for me to hear the

"I reckon we're to make a naval station of this 'ere island; an' if it
so be we show our heels to the Britishers who've been sent out to sink
us, this will be a likely property to hold in the name of the United

Phil and I knew full well that we had no right to linger on board the
_Essex_, for we had been assigned to duty ashore; and, therefore, while
the working parties I have spoken of were being made up, we clambered
into the first boat that put off for the land.

Then, as a matter of course, we took up our tasks as cooks' assistants
once more, although it would have pleased us better had we been allowed
to take part in the work of building the fort; for that, as we soon came
to understand, was the purpose for which our men had been called off
from the labor of refitting.

We two lads had ample time, however, in which to observe all that was
being done, for, as I have already set down, we were allowed many a
spare hour between meals.

The empty water-casks were filled with earth and sunk a couple of feet
into the summit of the hill in such manner as to form a circle. Then
sand was shovelled against the outside of these, and an excavation made
inside, until we had a breastwork not to be despised even as a
protection against musket balls. The guns were mounted so that they
would cover the harbor and camp, and a flag-staff, on which was hoisted
the stars and stripes, set up in the middle of the enclosure, the whole
presenting the appearance of a regular fort.

Before all this work had been completed, however, we saw two of the
Typees coming down the mountain-side, escorting a third person whom we
knew full well was none other than Benson, and the question as to
whether our captain would take any trouble to save the life of a
Britisher was answered.

Phil and I were near the beach when this party came in, waving green
palm-leaves, which answered the purpose of a white flag; and while they
halted, awaiting some word from the ship as to where they should leave
the living peace-offering, we two lads had an opportunity of holding
converse with our enemy.


He was as humble and friendly as possible, as well he might be,
considering the fact that we had been the means of saving him from being
served up as a Typee roast or stew.

"If ever it comes my way, I'll do you boys a good turn," he said in a
tone of thankfulness, and I was disposed to let the promise pass without
comment; but Phil did not hold the same opinion.

"That is to say, you count on being friendly to us until another chance
comes your way of selling us to the whalers, or of seeing us roasted and
eaten," he said angrily; whereupon Benson replied with what I believed
was sincere regret for having attempted to do us bodily harm:--

"If you'd been in my position since yesterday, you'd know full well that
I couldn't be other than thankful for what you have done."

"I allow we were in much the same situation when you had us in your
keeping, and was determined we should be roasted!" the lad said hotly.
"But for the fact that the Typees got the worst of the battle, we'd be
ready for cooking this very minute."

Benson could make no reply to what was neither more nor less than the
truth, and he hung his head, as seemed to me most proper.

After a few moments of silence he asked:--

"Do you know what your captain counts on doing with me?"

"He isn't in the custom of telling the crew what he proposes to do,"
Phil said curtly; "but this you can set down for a fact, that if he
turns you loose around the bay, you'd better be mighty careful, for
there are those among the men who wouldn't count it a crime to kill you
as they would a mad dog."

By this time a boat had come ashore from the _Essex_; Benson and the
Typees who had brought him in were taken on board, and we did not get a
glimpse of the Britisher until many days afterward. The natives,
however, came ashore half an hour later and were conducted by our men a
short distance up the mountain, lest the Happars, disregarding the flag
of truce, should set upon them.

Three days later Captain Porter took possession of the fort and island
in a formal manner. He and his officers went into the fortification
where the flag, which had been lowered a few moments previous, was
hoisted while the ships saluted it in fine style, and then it was
announced that the island had become a portion of the United States.
From that hour, so the captain declared, Nukuheva should be known as
Madison Island, in honor of the President, and the fort was given the
same name. The bay had already been christened Massachusetts, and at the
time it seemed to me that my country had come into possession of a
valuable territory; but those at home thought differently, for in after
years no effort was made to hold what the gallant old _Essex_ had fairly

The remainder of this day when we took possession was spent in sport,
all hands having full liberty until one hour before sunset; and a grand
jollification we had, visiting the most respectable Happar families.

Next morning twenty-one men were told off as the force to man the fort,
and command of the same was bestowed upon Lieutenant Gamble of the
Marines. The duty of this little party was to guard the remainder of the
company while at work on the fleet, and otherwise keep peace between the
Happars and the Typees. Then the task of putting the ships into sailing
trim was continued, and Phil and I sincerely regretted having been
assigned to the cook's department, otherwise we might have been numbered
among the defenders of the fort,--a position which would have pleased me
mightily, for it seemed certain that the Typees were more than willing
to let us severely alone.

As I stop writing at this point for an instant, I come to realize that
my yarn is being spun out too long. It would please me greatly to be
able to set down here all we did while on Madison Island, for we spent
many a happy hour there, despite the hard work; but by so doing I might
never come to an end of that which I hope will pass for what landsmen
call a "story," although every word is no more than the truth, as all
our ship's company can testify.

In order, therefore, that nothing of importance concerning the cruise of
the _Essex_ may be omitted through lack of time and space, I will copy
here what was afterward written by a great historian[2] concerning what
cost us three days of fighting, and to relate which in detail would
force me to write over many pages.

"After their first fears had been allayed, or they came to understand
how small was our force, the powerful Typees remained hostile, and
became more and more defiant, to the great discomfort of the Happars and
the annoyance of the Americans. At length Porter resolved to make war
upon them.

"An expedition of thirty-five Americans, including Captain Porter, and
five thousand Taeehs and Happars, moved against the incorrigibles. The
Typees, armed with slings and spears, met them with such overwhelming
numbers and fierce determination, that at the end of the first day they
were compelled to fall back to the beach, numbering among their
casualties a shattered leg belonging to Lieutenant Downes, caused by a
sling-man's stone. That night the valley of the Typees resounded with
shouts of victory, and the sonorous reverberations of many beaten drums.

"Porter renewed the attempt the next day, and led his motley army boldly
over the rugged hills into the Typee valley, in the midst of great
exposure to hostile missiles from concealed foes, and many privations.

"Village after village was destroyed until they came to the principal
town, in which were fine buildings, a large public square, temples and
gods, huge war-canoes, and other exhibitions of half-savage life. These
were all reduced to ashes, and by the broom of desolation that beautiful
valley, four miles in width and nine in length, was made a blackened
desert. The Typees, utterly ruined and humbled, now submissively paid

It seems almost cruel to tell so brave a yarn in such few words; but for
the fact that there are yet more important adventures of our cruise to
be set down, it should not thus be hurried over.

Neither Phil nor I was of the party which Captain Porter himself led
over the mountains. I am not prepared to say that we would have gone
with the army if permission had been given; we knew what fate awaited
those who might be made prisoners, and would have shrunk from thus
taking the chances of being the principal dish at a Typee feast.

When our men came back to the beach whipped, at the close of the first
day's fight, and we saw Lieutenant Downes brought in by four Happars,
looking as if death sat on the litter with him, it began to appear as if
Massachusetts Bay was not a desirable naval station.

Nor were Phil and I the only ones among the company who grew
faint-hearted when the reverses were made known. The old shellbacks who
had previously grumbled because we were to take part in a native war,
now came out strong with their predictions of evil; and to have heard
them scold and mutter, one would have said that already were we
hopelessly overcome.

Next day, when our men set out leading the entire army, we watched until
they were lost to view in the distance, firmly believing we would never
see them again. During the time we spent anxiously waiting for news from
the battle-field, all hands were in the fort or on board the ships,
ready to open fire if the Typees should chase our people to the shore of
the bay; but at nightfall our anxiety was changed to rejoicing.

A Happar messenger came in with the information that Captain Porter had
whipped the Typees thoroughly, and would remain absent from the bay
another day in order to destroy the villages belonging to the enemy.

It was my good fortune to have the opportunity of carrying this news to
Lieutenant Downes, who lay in his cabin on board the _Essex_, and to my
great surprise I discovered that he had never been in doubt as to the
result of the expedition.

"It couldn't have been otherwise," he said, when I had emptied my budget
of news. "Thirty-five white men with ample supply of ammunition could
beat off all the natives of the island, providing they were not
ambushed. It went without saying that Captain Porter would flog them
into submission."

Because he spoke to me so familiarly, I ventured to ask him concerning
Benson, for up to this time neither Phil nor I had been able to learn
anything regarding him.

"He is below, in such snug quarters that I promise you there is no
chance of his escaping."

"Will he be taken back to Valparaiso?" I ventured to ask.

"I think not, my lad. It is my opinion that he will remain on board
until we arrive at the home port, and then be delivered over to the
proper authorities. So long as Captain Porter holds command of the
_Essex_, there's little chance the young scoundrel will play any more
tricks on honest seamen."

As a matter of course, Phil and I knew full well that Benson was on
board the frigate; but we were not just certain what the captain
proposed to do with him when we made Valparaiso again, and this
assurance of Lieutenant Downes's caused me to feel decidedly better
mentally, for we were not minded he should escape his just deserts.

When our people came back, escorted by the triumphant Happars and
followed by the chief men of the Typees, who were eager that peace be
made between us, we gave them a grand reception, which was not
prolonged, for on the following morning the work of refitting the ships
of the fleet was continued as if our commander was impatient to be at
sea once more, as really was the case if the statements made by Master
Hackett the evening following the return of the army were true.

I had asked him why Captain Porter was bent on pushing the work forward
to the utmost limit of speed, and the old man said gravely, as if he
considered it an exceedingly serious matter:--

"It is near time for the arrival in the Pacific of one or more of the
frigates sent out from England to destroy us. From all I've gathered,
an' by puttin' this an' that together when I've overheard the officers
talkin' it amounts to considerable, it's our commander's idee to meet
the Britishers one by one as fast as they arrive, instead of givin' them
a chance to come at us with a squadron after due preparation. We've got
to fight our way home, if we ever get there; an' accordin' to my way of
thinkin' Captain Porter couldn't do a wiser thing than to meet the enemy
as soon as possible after they round the Horn."

"Why then, Master Hackett?"

"Because after such a voyage every ship is bound to be at her worst, an'
it's our best chance; if we give them time to overhaul an' lay plans, we
stand a show to get beaten."

"And are we to give up the island after having so much trouble to subdue
the Typees?"

"Not a bit of it, if all I've heard be true. Lieutenant Gamble, with
midshipmen Feltus an' Clapp, are to remain behind in command of the
force detailed for the fort."

"And they are to stay here to keep peace among the natives," Phil
exclaimed in a tone of surprise, whereupon Master Hackett corrected him
by saying:--

"It goes without sayin' that they will keep peace on the island; but
that ain't the reason for leavin' 'em here, by a long shot. We'll need a
harbor for repairs while we stay in the Pacific, especially after two or
three battles at sea, which I reckon will fall to our share. Them as
remain behind will see to it that the Britishers don't take possession
by some of their whalin' vessels or otherwise, an' we'll have a port to
run to if the odds are too great against us."

I failed to figure out what was to become of those left behind in case
the _Essex_ was destroyed, or if she was forced to flee around the Horn;
and Master Hackett could not help me to a solution. He seemed to treat
it as one of the chances of war which the defenders of the fort must
take, and as such, not worthy of discussion.

Well, the refitting was pushed forward with all speed, and near about
the first of December we were so far ready for sea that it was only
necessary to take in a quantity of water and fresh provisions.

The prizes were warped in close under the fort, and moored there in
such manner that nothing short of a most violent tempest could disturb

The encampment ashore was broken up, and all the men ordered on board
the ships which were to venture out.

When this last order was given, we had signs of serious trouble.

The natives, who had become fast friends with our men, set up a terrible
howl, and from morning until night we could see them on the beach crying
and begging that the crew be sent ashore again, while on board the
frigate and the _Essex Junior_ the sailormen themselves were bewailing a
fate which seemed unnecessarily hard.

There was little mutinous talk on our ship; but we heard again and again
that the crew of the _Essex Junior_ was nearly in a mutinous frame of
mind because the pleasant stay ashore had come to an end.

As a matter of course the old shellbacks were not concerned in this
insubordination. They recognized the fact that we must put to sea as
speedily as possible, and were even eager to be gone; but many of the
younger fellows would have deserted except for the strong guard which
was kept both night and day.

Only those who could best be trusted were sent on shore for the stores,
and among these was Master Hackett, therefore we lads heard much of what
was happening aboard of our consort.

It was the evening of the second day after we had been ordered aboard
ship that Master Hackett told Phil and me, while he was smoking
comfortably near No. I gun, the following startling news:--

"Bob White of the _Essex Junior_ has been blowin' his gaff so loud that
it has come to the ears of our officers, an' all hands will be called up
for a wiggin' from the commander before another day goes by, or I'm a
Dutchman, which I ain't."

"What has he been saying?" Phil asked curiously.

"That we of the frigate have come to a solemn agreement not to get under
way when the order comes; or, if we're forced to do that, we're to seize
the ship in three days after leavin' port, an' them on the _Essex
Junior_ are to stand by us."

"But all that is a lie!" I cried hotly. "If there had been a mutiny on
board this ship, surely it would have come to the ears of Phil and me!"

"I allow that some of our youngsters have been makin' foolish talk
against puttin' to sea when there's so much fun to be had ashore; but as
for downright mutiny, why it's all in your eye, Biddy Martin. I count
that the worst insubordination has been argufied in my hearin', an' that
only went so far as to swimmin' ashore for a night's frolic. Bob White
will find himself in trouble, or I'm mistaken."

Master Hackett's prediction was verified early next morning, when the
crew of the _Essex Junior_ was ordered aboard the frigate, and, in
company with all our men, summoned to the break of the quarter, where
was standing Captain Porter and his officers, decked out in their newest

The captain did not show any sign of anger when we stood before him, but
began like a preacher, by telling what he had heard was talked of among
the men.

It goes without saying that this was the same yarn Master Hackett had
spun for us the night before, and the commander said flatly that he
didn't allow there was any truth in it.

"I can't believe any of you who have braved so many dangers during this
most glorious cruise would turn mutineers simply because life on the
island is so pleasing. If it should be, however, that you came to such a
pass, rather than allow the shame put upon us, I will without hesitation
hold a match to the magazine and blow all hands into eternity, for it
is better that the ship and every man in her perish, than have it told
at home that we were ready to sacrifice the interests of our country to
personal desires. While I don't believe it possible such an agreement
could have been made, there may be some hot heads among you who do not
care for the disgrace which would come upon all this ship's company,
therefore I wish to see who will agree to obey my commands in the future
as you have in the past. Let those who are ready to do their duty like
men, by remaining on board when we go to meet the enemy, step over on
the starboard side--I mean those who are not only willing, but eager, to
get the good ship _Essex_ under way when the order may be given to do

In a twinkling every man jack of us was lining the starboard rail,
looking curiously behind to see who would dare show himself mutinously

No one remained on the port side, and Captain Porter looked pleased; but
the end of the matter was not yet, as he then proved by saying:--

"Let Bob White come forward!"

The mutinous sailor obeyed sheepishly; and when he stood out from the
rest of us, a mark for every eye, the captain said sternly:--

"This is the man who has reported that you had not only agreed to
disobey orders, but were ready to turn pirates for the sake of spending
your lives on the island. He who will spin such yarns about honest
sailormen is not fit to associate with them. Mr. McKnight," he added,
turning to my cousin Stephen, "see to it that this scoundrel is dropped
into one of the canoes which are hanging around, and let it be
understood that the sentries are to fire at him if he makes any effort
to come aboard again."

My cousin had hardly more than stepped off the quarter to give the
necessary order, when Master Hackett and a couple of his cronies seized
Bob White, and before one could have counted ten the mutineer was
kicking and splashing in the water alongside. They had not taken the
trouble to see whether a canoe was close at hand.

There were so many islanders near about, however, that White was
speedily picked up, and from that time he was never seen again, unless,
perchance, it may have been by those who garrisoned the fort.

Then, after thanking us for what we had already done while under his
command, and for what he expected we would do in the future, the captain
dismissed us that we might get about the work of the day.

It was only natural that while engaged in this task or the other my
mind should be filled with thoughts of the insubordination, and the
possible result if the crew had been able to remain on the island.

The seamen among us who had had the most experience in such matters,
believed that we stood but little show against those ships which had
been sent from England in search of us; that the _Essex_ would never
round Cape Horn with the stars and stripes flying. In such case we had
only death or imprisonment to look forward to, and it is not so very
surprising that some of the men should desire to remain among the

As for myself, and I can also speak for Phil in the same words, cowardly
at heart though I was, it seemed far wiser to make a brave fight for it
than go into voluntary exile among cannibals. Yet, while I thus decided,
there was a great fear in my heart concerning our fate, and I would have
given up anything I possessed, with a mortgage on everything which might
come to me in the future, had it been possible to step at that moment
into my own quiet home. I had seen enough of war, although having viewed
it only from the brightest side, and I quaked at the prospect of what
lay before us, even though we might, in the end, succeed in giving our
enemies the slip.

It was the morning of December 12, 1813, when we got under way, amid
the booming of the guns from Fort Madison, and I venture to say there
was not a man in either ship, whether officer, ordinary seaman, or
marine, who did not wish we might have remained there a few weeks
longer, providing it could be done safely and honorably.

The prizes were left under the guns of the fort, for now we were going
out to meet the foe in battle, and could not be bothered with such as
they. The _Essex Junior_ and the frigate were to perform the hard work,
receive the British fire, and then, if we were successful, which hardly
seemed probable, would return to take our captured craft to a home port.

By nightfall the island was lost to view in the distance, and on the
vast expanse of the ocean nothing could be seen by us save the good
frigate _Essex_ and her namesake and consort, _Essex Junior_.

Now let me set down something which I have copied from a yarn spun by an
old sea-dog[3] who can jockey a spar or make a book with equal ease:--

"Up to this time not a dollar had been drawn to meet the expenses of the
frigate. The enemy had furnished provisions, sails, cordage, medicines,
guns, anchors, cables, and slops. A considerable amount of pay even,
had been given to the officers and men, by means of the money taken in
the _Nocton_. Thus far the cruise had been singularly useful and
fortunate, affording an instance of the perfection of naval warfare in
all that relates to distressing an enemy, with the least possible charge
to the assailants; and it remained only to terminate it with a victory
over a ship of equal force, to render it brilliant. It is, perhaps, a
higher eulogium on the officers and crew of this memorable little
frigate to add, that while her good fortune appeared at last to desert
her, they gave this character to their enterprise by the manner in which
they struggled with adversity."

On this our first evening at sea, after so long a stay in port, Master
Hackett was unusually agreeable and friendly with us lads who had done
our best toward saving his life, whether that best was ill-advised or
opportune. Instead of smoking in the company of the other old sea-dogs,
he joined us near No. 1 gun, and there began to hold forth on the "luck
of the _Essex_" as if believing we needed heartening now that we were
pressing forward to meet an enemy of equal or greater strength than our

"You lads haven't made quite as bad a fist of sailorin' as I counted on
when you first came aboard," he began. "You've given good attention to
your duties, an' when next you ship, I reckon it should be as ordinary

"Providing we ever get a chance to ship again," Phil interrupted. "It
seems to be the opinion among all hands that we're on our last cruise."

"Pay no attention to what those old croakers are sayin'," Master Hackett
replied quickly. "Sailormen always borrow trouble when there's little
show for it, an' don't take the pains to work out the traverse that can
be made. I hold that the 'luck of the _Essex_' is still with her, an'
will be when we meet the Britishers yard-arm to yard-arm, or at whatever
range our commander believes to be best. No man can go into an
engagement an' do his full duty if he counts on bein' knocked out before
it's over. Believe that you've _got_ to lick the other fellow, an' then
you'll have an advantage."

Master Hackett could not have said anything which would have caused me
to believe more firmly that he, like many another on board the _Essex_,
was convinced we had come to an end of our "luck," and I turned away
abruptly rather than listen further.


[2] Benson J. Lossing.

[3] J. Fenimore Cooper.



I forgot to set down the fact that we brought away from Nukuheva, or, I
suppose I should say, from Madison Island, Mr. Maury and his companions.
They had had quite enough of the place and the life there, beautiful
though the first was, and enticing as the latter might be. It was said
Captain Porter proposed that these men remain in the fort, since,
conversant with the language as they were, communication with the
natives would be more readily had.

To such a proposition they declined flatly, and this fact should have
been sufficient to show those of our crew who still hankered for the
flesh-pots of Nukuheva, what would have been their condition of mind
after having remained as long in that veritable garden of Eden.

Our voyage had hardly more than begun, that is to say, it was on the
second day after leaving port, when one of the marines brought word that
Phil and I had been summoned to the quarter-deck.

The wooden-headed fellow had not taken the trouble to find out why such
an order was given, nor which of the officers had sent it; he only knew
that his sergeant told him to summon us, and we two lads were in a fine
state of excitement. Even Master Hackett looked grave when he questioned
us closely as to whether we had made foolish talk which might have been
overheard by the officers, or if our duties had been seriously neglected
at any time lately.

He was helping us make ready for the visit all the while he asked these
questions, therefore no time was lost in such converse.

We could not have neglected our duties, for, as a matter of fact, we had
none while at sea save to answer the beck and call of every member of
the ship's crew, and were so far beneath the officers in station that
they did not even take the trouble to look at us, except when our
services were required.

However, there was neither rhyme nor reason in our speculating very long
as to why we were thus summoned. We were bound to answer the call as
soon as might be or find ourselves slated for punishment; and as soon as
Master Hackett announced that we were togged out in proper fashion, Phil
and I went aft feeling very uncomfortable in mind. And we came to know
then, if never before, that there is no sense in crossing bridges till
you come to them, or, in other words, it's unwise "to trouble trouble
till trouble troubles you."

On going aft we found my cousin, Lieutenant McKnight, standing near the
break of the quarter-deck, and, saluting him as I would have done had
there been no kinship between us, I asked if he knew who had summoned

"I did, lad," he replied. "It is the captain's orders that you and your
mate look after the prisoner, Oliver Benson. He has been cared for by
one of Robert White's cronies, and it is believed best to give him in
charge of those who have personal reasons for holding him fast,
particularly while we are in the harbor of Valparaiso. You'll find him
in the brig, and separate rations will be served out for him. See to it
that he holds no communication with any of the crew; but allow him to
walk about for half an hour every day while you stand guard over him
with loaded muskets. In order to render you more careful, lads, I may
say that we believe the fellow has some plan for escape in his mind, and
you are detailed as his keepers in order that we may be certain of
nipping it in the bud."

This was the longest speech the lieutenant, my cousin, had favored me
with since I came on board, and it pleased me mightily, as did also the
fact that we two lads were rated by our officers as being better able to
look after the prisoner than some others of the crew.

Having spoken, Lieutenant McKnight turned on his heel, and we were left
to set about the new duties according to our own ideas as to how they
should be performed.

We went below from the after end of the gun-deck, and there found the
gloomy cage guarded by a single sentinel, with whom Benson appeared to
be carrying on a lively conversation.

This portion of the ship would have been shrouded in darkness but for a
lantern which hung over against the bench where I fancied the guard
should remain, and the light was so dim that for the moment Benson did
not recognize us.

"Have you come to relieve me?" the marine said as we approached, and
while replying to him I was seized by a sudden thought.

"Will you ask Lieutenant McKnight if he expects us both to remain on
duty, or may we stand watch and watch?"

"It ain't likely he counts on two lads at the same time lookin' after
one man who's locked in where he can neither help hisself nor hurt
others," the marine replied pertly, whereupon I told him that we should
expect him to bring an answer directly from the lieutenant, otherwise I
would go on deck and learn the reason why.

He looked at me for an instant as if surprised that a boy aboard ship
should speak to him in such a fashion, and indeed I was rather
astonished at my own air of authority; but I would not lower the words,
once having given them utterance, and he, most likely knowing of the
kinship between the lieutenant and myself, turned on his heel without
giving vent to the sharp words I believed were trembling on the tip of
his tongue.

Five minutes later, and before either Phil or I had gone so near the
cage that Benson could distinguish our features, the man came back with
the word that we were to look after the prisoner according to our own
ideas of how such work should be done.

When the marine had left us once more, I went boldly up to the bars of
the prison, and Benson uttered a low cry of what I took to be mingled
disappointment and anger.

"So you two are to look after me?" he said with a sneer, evidently
having forgotten that he had promised ever to remember us with
liveliest gratitude because of what we had done when he was in the power
of the cannibals.

Phil, who had never believed soft words should be wasted on a villain
like Benson, answered his remark, which was at the same time a

"It is only right we should do so, if for no other reason than to repay
you for the care you have had over us on two occasions. We shan't
threaten, however, either to sell you to the whalers or make certain you
are roasted and eaten; therefore the account won't be really squared
however long a time may elapse before we gain a home port."

"Home port?" he cried as if in dismay. "Am I not to be sent ashore at

"Captain Porter doesn't consider it necessary to tell us all he intends
to do; but I'd be willing to wager considerable that you'll remain in
this cage until we are anchored in some port of the United States."

Benson appeared to be staggered by this reply, and during two or three
minutes remained as if in deep thought, after which he asked sharply:--

"Why has the guard been changed? Isn't an armed marine enough to keep me
here, when it would be impossible to get out unless some one supplied
me with the proper tools for prying off the bars?"

"We know nothing more than that we have been ordered on duty," Phil
replied curtly. "If the captain had counted on your understanding fully
about the business, I reckon one of the lieutenants would have been here
before this to make explanations."

Benson gave over for the time being trying to learn the reason for our
coming, and appeared eager to be friendly with us, as might be seen when
he tried to enter into conversation; but neither Phil nor I gave him any
encouragement. We believed there was some serious cause for thus
changing the guard, and were determined not to hold more converse with
the prisoner than was absolutely necessary.

It was agreed between us that we would stand watch and watch, two hours
at a stretch, and that he who was off duty should not leave the other
alone more than fifteen minutes at one time.

You see, we suspected that the marines had shown themselves too friendly
to the Britisher; and because it was believed by our officers that an
escape was being connived at, we were assigned the duty of making
certain the sailor-selling Benson remained on board the frigate until
he might be sent to some prison more secure than could be found in

Quarters on the gun-deck were luxurious as compared with those we were
forced to occupy while acting as jailers. Above we had good air and
plenty of it, save during a severe gale; but in the hold of the frigate
we were shut out from everything, even the light of day. One hour was
the same as another in that place of blackness; the _Essex_ might
overhaul and capture half a dozen prizes without our being any the
wiser, and we could only judge what might be the weather by the heel or
lurch of the ship. All this we understood before having been on duty an
hour; and as I realized that many, many long, dreary days might be spent
by us in this disagreeable task, I began to wish most fervently that the
Britisher had been left in the Typee village to supply the cannibals
with the materials for a feast.

When an hour had passed and we had come to an end of discussing the
reasons for our having been assigned to this duty, we drew lots to
decide who should take the first trick, and Phil was thus selected;
whereupon I proposed to go and have a chat with Master Hackett, to learn
if he could throw any light on the subject.

"Remember, you are not to remain away more than fifteen minutes," Phil
said warningly, and I promised to keep that fact well in mind.

When I gained the gun-deck once more, I found the old sailor in a fine
state of anxiety concerning us. Because we had not returned, he believed
we yet remained in the cabin, and was worrying lest we had been accused
of some serious misdemeanor.

He was evidently relieved and considerably surprised by my explanations,
but could give us no information whatsoever, save that he, like us lads,
believed the captain had reason to suspect that one or more of the
marines had become too friendly with the prisoner.

"I'll keep my eyes an' ears open, lad, an' it'll be odd if I don't pick
up a bit of news here an' there. It goes without sayin' that the captain
has good cause for givin' such an order, an' the reason is bound to leak
out sooner or later."

"Will you come below sometimes and have your smoke with us?" I asked.

"If it so be there are no objections made, I will, lad. It might be a
good plan, in case you have a chance of speakin' with Lieutenant
McKnight, to ask if I would be allowed there. The rule is that none save
the guards are to go near the brig."

It was time for me to join Phil once more, the fifteen minutes having
been spent, as nearly as I could judge, and back I went to the dreary
post of duty.

I had hardly more than repeated to him the brief conversation held with
Master Hackett, when my cousin Stephen came down the ladder, greeting us
in most friendly fashion.

After he had spoken of our duties, enjoining upon us the necessity of
keeping the prisoner in full view all the time, he was pleased to give
the following explanation for what appeared almost like an excess of

"It is your especial duty to see that no one has an opportunity of
speaking with the prisoner. It is not supposed that he can escape
unaided; there is a possibility some of our people have been taken in by
his smooth talk, and the captain is determined he be lodged in prison at
a port where we may be certain he will be held."

Then it was that I made bold to ask if Master Hackett might be allowed
to visit us, and the permission was given without hesitation.

"There is nothing to prevent his paying you a visit at such times as he
is off duty; but if any other member of the crew should come without
authority from one of the officers, you are to warn him away at once,
and in case he refuses to go immediately, give the alarm aft without

With that the lieutenant left us, and Benson, who must have overheard at
least a portion of the conversation, said mockingly:--

"I always believed the Yankees were cowards; but never before fancied
the crew of a frigate could be scared by one Englishman."

Phil would have made an angry reply, but that I motioned him to be
silent, afterward saying in a low tone:--

"It is worse than foolish to bandy words with the fellow. We know by his
anger that our coming here has broken up some scheme he had in mind, and
he may as well be allowed the poor satisfaction of gibing at us now and

"He may have full swing of his tongue once in a while, but I'm not
minded to let him go on as he pleases all the time. While you were on
deck he had altogether too much to say. Suppose you let Master Hackett
know what Lieutenant McKnight said, and then we'll settle down to the
work in shipshape fashion."

Once more I went on deck; the old sailor seemed greatly pleased at the
confidence which the officers appeared to have in him, by thus
stipulating he should be the only visitor allowed near the brig, and
promised to keep us posted on all that was happening aboard ship.

And he kept his promise to the letter. No less than twice each day, and
sometimes much oftener, he sat with us repeating the talk of his
shipmates, until we who were forced to remain alone in the darkness had
a very good idea of what was going on above us.

The gun-deck barnacles were positive, according to Master Hackett, that
at least two of the marines had been detected in favoring the prisoner
more than was allowable, and some of them went so far as to say with
assurance that a plot to liberate him when the first port was made had
been discovered.

Not until the new year had begun did we learn anything of the outside
world, and then Master Hackett reported that we were lying at San Maria,
on the coast of South America, taking in water. No sail had been sighted
during all this time; but information was given us at this port that the
British frigate _Phoebe_, 36, Captain Hillyar, had weathered the Horn
searching for the _Essex_.

One week after this, Master Hackett reported that we were entering the
port of Conception; and before the day had come to an end we learned
that no vessels had been found, but that the news regarding the
_Phoebe_ was confirmed.

"We're now under way for Valparaiso," the old man said, "an' unless I'm
way off in my reckonin', we'll find there that the Chilian authorities
have had a change of heart so far as we Yankees are concerned."

"Are you of the mind that they'll make trouble for us?" Phil asked.

"I ain't reckonin' they'll go quite so far as that, but it'll stand us
in hand to be prepared for anything while we're lyin' there."

"Why doesn't the captain give that port the go-by?" I asked. "Why should
we put in there if the Chilians are like to be disagreeable to us?"

"Captain Porter isn't the kind of a man to run away from an enemy, lad,
an' that's what it would look like if we tried to slip around the Horn
just now. His plan, accordin' to my way of reckonin', an' I've said it
before, is to take the Britishers one by one as they come along, until
we've given the whole boilin' of 'em a floggin'. If we didn't look in at
Valparaiso, the enemy would say we were afraid to tackle anything but a

"How much heavier than our frigate is a 36-gun ship?"

"She'd be about the same in weight of metal, though there might be
considerable difference in the way it was distributed. Now, a regular
36-gun ship should carry twenty-six long eighteens below, with sixteen
32-pound carronades an' two chase guns above, makin' forty-four in all.
We've got, as you know, forty 32-pound carronades, an' six long twelves,
which would make the _Phoebe_ heavier than the _Essex_, even though our
craft has two guns more. Now, there isn't a man aboard this 'ere frigate
who wouldn't kick, an' kick hard, if Captain Porter should try to run
away from the Britisher. Give us half a show, an' we'll prove that
whalers are only taken by us in order to replenish stores an' protect
our own merchantmen."

"That's brave talk; but you'll sing a different tune when we're
alongside the _Phoebe_!" Benson cried from his cage; and this taunt
threw Master Hackett into a towering passion.

Although it was forbidden that he should hold any converse with the
prisoner, he freed his mind by telling us in a tone sufficiently loud to
be heard by the Britisher, what he would do, regardless of rules, in
case "that chimpanzee in the cage" had anything more to say against the

"I've heard too much talk from him already," the old man continued, "an'
the next time he so much as peeps while I'm around, I shall go straight
aft an' ask permission to give him a dozen flicks with the cat, laid on
by myself, which will be all he'll need by way of puttin' a stopper on
his tongue."

From that moment until we were done with him forever, Benson never so
much as snored while Master Hackett was near at hand.

On the 3d day of February we knew the frigate had come to an anchor, and
shortly afterward the old sailor appeared to give us the news.

"Yes, we're in Valparaiso again, an' now we're salutin' the fort."

We could both hear and feel the report of the guns as they were
discharged, and already knew as much as the old man was telling us.

"The captain will go ashore to chin with the governor accordin' to the
rules an' regulations of the navy, an' after that the old chap will
visit us."

"But what of a change of heart, Master Hackett?" I asked with a laugh.
"I thought you counted on our getting a different reception from what we
met with last."

"All this visitin' an' firin' salutes don't cut any ice. It's a way
these 'ere swells have, no matter how they're feelin'. That puffed up
old governor might come aboard of us a dozen times, hobnobbin' with the
officers, an' yet be jest as willin' to cut our throats. Wait till the
_Phoebe_ heaves in sight, an' then we'll have a fairly good idee of
whether they're friendly or not."

"Are we lying at our old anchorage?" Phil asked.

"Not a bit of it, my lad. We're well out in the bay, where we can get
under way in a jiffy, an' the _Essex Junior_ is cruisin' around outside,
so's to give us warnin' when the Britisher heaves in sight."

"Then the captain is expecting a fight?"

"Expectin' it, lad? Why, he knows it's got to come! The only thing we're
in the dark about is how soon the Britisher will show up."

Phil and I took turns going on deck during this and the following day,
and I was on the forecastle twenty-four hours after our arrival, when
the governor, his wife, and a boat-load of officers, came off to pay a
ceremonious visit.

It was near sunset when Master Hackett visited us again, and this time
he had quite a budget of news to unfold.

In view of the fact that the enemy might appear at any moment, shore
leave was forbidden the crew, and only three of the officers had been
allowed to land since they made their calls upon the governor; but these
last visits were enough to show that Master Hackett's predictions were

The officers found, so the marine gossips reported, that there was no
longer any great show of friendliness among the people regarding us,
and, in fact, it was openly said that the Chilians would be well pleased
if we were beaten in the battle which seemed so near at hand.

"The British government has been threatenin', I reckon," Master Hackett
said with an air of great wisdom, "an' the governor himself is countin'
on our gettin' the worst of the fight; but there's where he's makin' a
mistake, unless it so chances that too many Englishmen come up at the
same time."

"We shall have the _Essex Junior_ to help us," I said like a simple,
whereupon the old man replied scornfully:--

"What would she amount to in a fight? In an action with a frigate she
wouldn't be any force to speak of. A craft carryin' ten 18-pound
carronades and ten short sixes, with a crew of only sixty men, would
likely be in the way rather than lend any help. No, lad, the _Junior_
ain't to be thought of; an' when we go to quarters, you'll find that
she'll get orders to keep at a proper distance, if only for the sake of
showin' that we don't put two craft against one. The _Phoebe_ will get
fair play, an' no mistake."

There was never a thought in Master Hackett's mind that the commander of
the _Phoebe_ might not count on giving us fair play; but the fact was
soon made known to us.

"How many men can we muster?" Phil asked.

"What with prize crews, an' them as have been drafted to the _Junior_,
I'm told that there are only two hundred an' twenty-five aboard this
'ere ship, countin' officers, cooks, boys, and sich-like useless

"How many would likely be on board the _Phoebe_?"

"A full hundred more than we've got, an' when it comes to boardin', or
close quarters where muskets can be used, that extra hundred will count
against us terrible."

"Are you growing faint-hearted, Master Hackett?" Phil asked with a
laugh; at which question the old man turned upon him savagely.

"An old shellback like me grow faint-hearted? You're talkin' at random,
lad! My time is bound to come before many years have passed, an' I only
hope to lose the number of my mess while standin' by the guns in a fair
fight. A sailorman ain't built to die in his bed, nor does it beseem him
to be buried on shore. What he needs to put him out of this world
comfortably is the roaring of a broadside, the cheers of his messmates,
an' a shot tied to his feet when he's dropped over the rail after havin'
done his duty. So that we win the battle, it don't make much difference
when I go into the next life; but if you should speak of bein' took
prisoner, an' kept cooped up in a cage like that day in an' day out,
there's where I might show the white feather, an' small blame to me."

The conversation was taking on altogether too gloomy a turn, more
especially since we knew beyond a peradventure that before many days the
frigate would be in action, and I put an end to it by proposing that one
or the other of us go on deck for a whiff of fresh air.

Phil took advantage of the opportunity; Master Hackett followed him up
the ladder, and I was left with only my gloomy thoughts for company,
unless one counts the prisoner, as perhaps would be correct, since on
this occasion he took it upon himself to be unusually friendly.

"I'm not counting on saying what your chances will be when the _Essex_
meets the _Phoebe_" he began. "Your people may get the best of her--"

"As we surely will!" I replied angrily, for I did not like the tone of
doubt which accompanied the words.

"Very well, say that you whip her handsomely. Do you think it can be
done without sacrificing some of your men?"

"Of course we must expect that more than one poor fellow will lose the
number of his mess."

"The _Phoebe_ isn't the only ship that's likely been sent out against
you; and even though you whip the first two or three you come across,
the time must arrive when you'll be too short-handed to work the
frigate. In other words, no matter how successful your ship may be,
you're bound to come to grief finally."

It was some such thought as this which was in my own mind, and it
angered me that the Britisher should put it into words, for I did not
relish being reminded of what appeared to be a fact.

"Why should you figure on our meeting vessel after vessel until we no
longer have a crew left?" I asked sharply.

"Because it proves that in the long run I shall be set free by my
countrymen, and then will come the time when I'll have the upper hand
once more."

"Well?" I asked, failing to grasp his meaning.

"Well?" he said with a laugh. "To save your own neck, why not make
friends with me now? It isn't to be expected that you could set me
ashore; but you might leave the door unlocked by accident, and when the
time came that you were in the brig of a British man-of-war, I would do
you a good turn."

It surprised me so much, this speech of Benson's, that I allowed him to
finish, instead of checking the villain as I should have done when it
first dawned upon me that he was proposing I play the traitor.

"Look you, Oliver Benson!" I cried, speaking slowly that the words would
have more weight. "If I knew beyond a peradventure that I might save my
own life by doing the wicked thing you propose, I would say 'no' with my
last breath. If you so much as hint at such a proposition again I will
go straight to the captain with the story, and then you may be certain
he'll give you a taste of the cat."

"My turn will come before the _Essex_ is out of this scrape, and of that
there is no doubt," he replied venomously; and I questioned not but that
he would wreak vengeance upon Phil and me whenever the opportunity
presented itself.

I was yet in the dumps when Phil returned, refreshed by a sniff of the
sea air and a glimpse of the sun; but did not think it well to give him
an account of the conversation just held with Benson. In the first place
it could do no good, and, secondly, might make him as dispirited as I
had become; for a fellow may not speak of death or imprisonment, when
one or the other is sure to come soon, without experiencing a certain
heaviness of heart which does not tend to mental comfort.

If we were to suffer death or imprisonment as the conclusion of the
cruise, there was no good reason for looking forward to it.

Phil reported that the _Essex Junior_ could be seen in the offing; that
the frigate was lying near the entrance of the harbor where she could be
gotten under way whatever the direction of the wind, and that
everything, save the taking down of the bulkheads aft, was in trim for a

"You'd hardly recognize the gun-deck now," he said in conclusion. "The
men are not lounging around jawing or spinning yarns; but appear on the
alert as if expecting the call to quarters at any instant, and it needs
only sand on the deck, so Master Hackett says, to give the proper

"Sand on the deck?" I repeated.

"Ay, so that the planks shall not be slippery when covered with the
blood of our men. I am told that it is always strewn around before a
ship goes into action."

I could not repress a shudder. It was bad enough to hear Benson talk of
what must surely come to us finally, without listening to an account of
the preparations made for the actual approach of death.

At that time, when it seemed as if we were cornered like rats, I thought
of my home which I had left so many months, and with the thought came a
great wonderment that boys should ever be eager to leave their mother's
side in order to take part in the wickedness of the world--for surely a
war is wicked, whatever the cause.

While I sat there in the darkness, staring at the bars of Benson's
prison, I heard again my mother's voice, and for the hundredth time
since leaving home realized that she was my best friend; that I had
voluntarily left her in order to come at last face to face with death or
a lingering imprisonment.

Surely, this world never held a lad so foolish as I had proved myself to



After making the proposition that I allow him to escape, Benson gave
over holding any intercourse with Phil and me. According to orders, we
allowed him to come out of the cage every day and pace to and fro on the
deck by way of exercise; but he did so in silence, and I was by no means
disgruntled because he held his peace.

Master Hackett spent considerable time with us two lads while we were in
port awaiting the enemy; but, after the conversation lately set down, he
did not indulge in any speculations which might arouse disagreeable
thoughts in our minds. Perhaps he understood that, confined in the dark
hold, we would quite naturally give ourselves more wholly up to
reflection and foreboding than would be possible on the gun-deck, and
brooding over possible dangers while we were thus virtually alone would
cause them to seem greater than they really were.

Whatever may have been his motive, I noted with satisfaction the fact
that he spoke in a more cheery strain of the expected action, and on one
or two occasions even went so far as to predict that the _Essex_ would
live to carry the stars and stripes around the Horn again.

Both Phil and I had come to believe that when the Britishers did arrive
to give us battle, he and I would be forced to remain below, guarding
our prisoner, and again and again we questioned the wisdom of setting
two to watch one when the frigate was really short-handed.

Despite the cowardly thoughts which we realized would come into our
minds as soon as an engagement was begun, we were sad because there
seemed to be no chance we should bear our share of it. It would have
pleased both of us very decidedly if it could have been possible to sail
the _Essex_ into a home port without a severe fight; but since one must
come, we were eager to perform our full part, whatever might be the
result, and this could not be done if we were forced to act as jailers.

However, this, like many another trouble, was of slight consequence when
the decisive moment arrived, as we soon learned.

One morning when the men were beginning to believe that the information
regarding the Britishers having passed around Cape Horn was false,
Master Hackett came below with every evidence of excitement on his face
and in his movements.

"The enemy are in the offin' at last!" he cried, slapping us two lads on
the back as if believing he had brought most glorious news.

"Can we see them from the deck?" Phil asked as he leaped toward the
ladder, for it was my time of duty.

"No, lad, not yet: but the _Junior_ is headin' for the harbor with
signals set that she has sighted the enemy, an' it won't be very long
now before we'll be showin' the _Phoebe_ what we're made of!"

Having said this much Master Hackett went swiftly on deck again, and I
was left with my own fears and Oliver Benson for company.

I fully expected that he would try once more to persuade me into letting
him escape, but fortunately for his own skin he said not a word, and I
sat there silent and motionless, trying to picture my behavior in case
it should by some lucky chance be possible for me to bear a hand in the
action which seemed to be so near at hand.

The moments passed slowly yet quickly, and I believed that a full hour
had elapsed when Phil finally showed himself with excuses for having
stayed away so long.

"The _Junior_ is close alongside with her anchors down, and Lieutenant
Downes is with Captain Porter, most likely getting orders as to how his
ship is to be handled during the engagement."

"Can you see the Britisher?" I asked breathlessly.

"Not yet; the boat's crew which brought the lieutenant on board says
that they should be off the harbor in an hour at the longest."

"_They_ should be off the harbor. Is there more than one?"

"Ay, two, so it's reported, and Master Hackett says we'll tackle all
that come, even if it's a whole squadron."

"He is talking foolishly!" I cried petulantly. "It isn't reasonable to
suppose our commander will take any more chances than are absolutely

"I can't say what he may do; but our people are wild with excitement,
and if the decision was left to them I doubt not but that Master
Hackett's statement would sound less improbable. Go on deck and have a
look around; but give me a chance when the Britishers heave in sight."

I lost no time in acting on his proposition, and as I came into the
open air I saw Lieutenant McKnight approaching.

"Well, lads, your disagreeable work has come to an end for a time at
least, and I can't fancy that you'll be sorry."

I looked perplexed, as indeed I was, and my cousin added:--

"The prisoner will be sent on board the _Junior_ for a while."

"May I ask why, sir?"

"Because it would not be quite the proper treatment to keep him under
fire. As soon as Lieutenant Downes comes on deck again some of our men
will be sent below to iron the fellow and bring him on deck for

I did not wait to hear more, or even to take a look around; but ran
below with all speed to impart the cheering news to Phil.

On hearing what my cousin Stephen had said the lad was almost beside
himself with joy; but Benson was overpowered by rage. He tore and beat
with his fists at the bars of the cage, now crying out that we should be
paid off with interest for treating him in such a manner, and again
begging that we ask Captain Porter to allow him to remain on board.

There could be but one cause for his frenzy, which was that he had
really made friends with some of the marines, and counted on their
aiding his escape during the excitement of a battle.

We gave no attention to either his threats or entreaties; but it was a
wonderful relief when three men, headed by Master Hackett, came below,
the latter telling us we were free to go on deck since there was nothing
we might do to aid them in their work.

I breathed freely for the first time since we had been given charge of
the Britisher, when we stepped on the spar-deck and had a look around.

Within half a cable's length lay the _Essex Junior_, her boat alongside
our ship, and in the offing two British men-of-war standing directly
into the harbor.

"I wonder if the fighting will be done while we lay at anchor?" I said
like a simple that I was, and Phil replied with the air of one who is
wiser than his comrade:--

"Certainly not. In the first place, Master Hackett says it is against
all the rules for ships to fight in a harbor belonging to a nation with
which we are not at war. Then again, it is necessary to manoeuvre the
frigate while the fighting is going on, and to do that she must be on
the open ocean."

"I see no signs of our getting under way."

"Then you must be blind indeed! Notice the men; each is at his proper
station, and on the gun-deck the ammunition has already been brought
out. Perhaps they have sanded the decks."

I turned away from him impatiently. Of what good was it to mention such
a sinister preparation as that? It quickened the blood in one's veins to
see the crew standing motionless, ready to execute on the instant the
first order which should be given; and made the cold chills run down a
fellow's spine to think that measures were being taken to cover that
which represented the life of our people.

While I stood, half a coward and half eager to have a hand in the work
about to be done, Benson was brought up from below--literally brought
up, for he refused to lift hand or foot--and then dropped bodily into
the boat alongside.

Lieutenant Downes took his station in the stern-sheets, and the small
craft was pulled quickly away, leaving us on the _Essex_ to meet the
coming enemy.

The wind fined down as the Britishers came into the harbor, the
_Phoebe_ leading the way, and we had a good opportunity of examining
them minutely.

I had taken a station by Master Hackett's side, and therefore came to
know a good many things which otherwise would have failed of attracting
my attention.

"They've taken on extra metal to meet us," the old sailor said with a
chuckle, as if such fact pleased him wonderfully. "Thirty long
eighteens, sixteen 32-pound carronades, one howitzer, an' six 3-pounders
in her tops. That's givin' us the credit of bein' good fighters, even
though they do accuse us of not darin' to tackle anything but whalers."

"Did you ever see the other ship, Master Hackett?" I asked.

"Ay, lad, time and time again. She's the _Cherub_, a 20-gun ship; but
now she's carryin' twenty-eight in all--eighteen 32-pound carronades
below, with eight 24-pound carronades and two long nines above. There
can't be less than two hundred men on board, an' take it all in all,
we've got a decently tough job laid out for us; but we'll tackle it in
great style, lad. Why, the fact that the Britishers don't care to meet
us with such a frigate as the _Phoebe_ alone, is enough to stiffen the
backbone of every man jack belongin' to this 'ere craft."

As the leading ship came nearer we could see that her crew was at
quarters, and more than one old sea-dog looked aft questioningly, as if
expecting our captain would give the word to prepare for action.

Friendly port or not, it seemed very much as if the Britisher was making
ready to give us a broadside without the courtesy of hailing.

Nearer and nearer came the _Phoebe_, forging ahead slowly, and when she
was less than a pistol shot distant her commander, Captain Hillyar,
hailed, asking after Captain Porter's health as if the two were warm


Our commander answered politely, and then warned the Britisher that he
was coming too near.

"If you foul us, sir," Captain Porter cried, "there will necessarily be
much confusion, and I cannot be answerable for the consequences."

"I certainly do not meditate making an attack, my dear sir," the
Britisher replied with a bow; but there was that in his voice which
caused me to believe he was not speaking the truth, and Master Hackett

"He'll take us if he gets into position, an' now's the time when our
captain should give him somethin' more'n soft talk. If I was in command
of this 'ere frigate I'd sink him off-hand."

At that moment the wind shifted, taking the _Phoebe_ suddenly aback,
and her bow payed off directly upon the _Essex_.

It was as if they were minded to board us, and Captain Porter must have
believed that such was the case, for suddenly came the command to call
away the boarders.

"Now we're in for it, lad!" Master Hackett cried gleefully as he ran to
his station, I following close by his side. "The Britisher counts on
havin' a scrimmage whether we're in a neutral port or not, an' I reckon
we're in the mood to give him all he wants!"

"I do not intend to board you, sir!" the British captain shouted when he
saw that we were ready for him, and Captain Porter replied with a warmth
that pleased me wonderfully, considering the fact that at heart I am a

"If your ship fouls this frigate, sir, I shall open upon you, for I am
fully prepared for action!"

"I do not intend to board you, sir!" Captain Hillyar cried again; but
all the while the _Phoebe_ was creeping nearer to us.

"Stand ready, boarders!" Captain Porter shouted, giving no further heed
to the Britisher's announcement. "Get away the instant she touches us,
and once on her decks you know your duty!"

By this time the jib-boom of the _Phoebe_ was across our forecastle, and
the ship in such a position that we might have sunk her before the
_Cherub_ could come near enough to take part in the work. Master Hackett
had already laid hold of the spar, and I was alongside of him, never for
an instant remembering that I should have been frightened. Phil, a huge
cutlass in his hands, was looking about for a place on which to leap;
and, taking it all in all, if I had been capable of connected thought, I
would have said that neither ship could avoid an action.

Fortunately--there were many aboard us who would say
_unfortunately_--the two frigates did not come into actual contact, and,
seeing that he had put his ship into a most dangerous situation, Captain
Hillyar began shouting:--

"It is all an accident, sir! I have no intention of opening an

While he spoke he waved his hands, the better to attract attention, and
otherwise behaved much like a man who is afraid after he has voluntarily
got himself into a bad scrape.

Captain Porter gave the word for our men to retire from the
forecastle-deck, and the Britisher slowly drifted by, her captain bowing
and waving his hat, as well he might, considering the fact that our
commander would have been justified in sinking him while it was not
possible for him to strike a blow.

How our men raved and stormed when the Englishman went by to the inner
harbor uninjured; but they took precious good care that our commander
did not hear their angry words.

Then, after the _Cherub_ passed us and joined the _Phoebe_ at a berth
nearer the town, leaving our men at liberty to do as they pleased, what
a noisy confab went on among the deck lawyers! All were agreed that we
should have sunk the Britisher; that the boarders should have been sent
away because by coming across us there was every indication that the
enemy intended mischief; and again, that there can be but one meaning
when a man-of-war approaches with her crew at quarters.

I do not think the men were actually enraged with Captain Porter for not
having taken advantage of the opportunity; but they blamed him severely
for accepting the apology instead of beginning an action which could
have had but one ending, owing to the fact that the _Phoebe_ would
surely have been sunk before her consort could creep up.

"Mark my words!" one of the old barnacles shouted. "Captain Porter
won't find the Britisher so willin' to let him sneak out of a small
hole; an' if the time ever comes when he can get at us unfairly, we may
count on his doin' it."

"That's the solemn truth!" half a dozen voices shouted, and I asked
Master Hackett to tell me exactly what he thought of the whole affair.

"Well," the old man said slowly and thoughtfully, "I don't feel called
upon to rough into our commander simply because he acted the part of a
gentleman. That man Hillyar is a bully, or he'd never come into the
harbor with his men at quarters, an' I'll lay all my prize money against
a herrin', that if he'd found us unprepared, his boarders would have
been called away in short order."

"Then you think he really meant to attack us?" Phil, who had just come
up, asked.

"What else could he have counted on doin'? He was takin' the chances of
gettin' the advantage in some way; but his consort didn't keep quite as
near as he'd have liked, an' then when the ship was taken aback, he
found himself at our mercy. If he wasn't up to mischief, why should he
have come so close alongside before luffin'? Captain Porter wouldn't be
fooled by the fine words thrown aboard the _Essex_ when the Britisher
was quakin' in his boots; but he acted the gentleman, as sailors always
should, an' I ain't the man to blame him, though I do wish he could have
seen it in his way to rake the _Phoebe_ when she'd come into such a
beautiful position for the work!"

The people aboard the _Essex Junior_ were in quite as high a state of
excitement as were we. When word was passed for the boarders, Lieutenant
Downes began warping his ship alongside the frigate in order that he
might have a hand in the scrimmage, and now the _Junior_ was so near
that we could talk in whispers to her crew, who still overhung the rail.

I suppose Captain Porter knew full well how disappointed our people were
because of having lost such a fine opportunity. He went below, calling
some of the lieutenants after him, and it is in my mind that he did so
simply in order that our old shellbacks might have a chance to ease
their hearts by hard words.

The Britishers were at anchor, therefore all hands knew we would not
have an encounter for some time to come; and after each man had talked
himself hoarse over the matter, we began to turn our attention to other

Phil and I were eager to learn if Benson would be kept safely on board
the _Junior_, and questioned some of her men regarding the villain.

"Don't worry your heads about him," one of the crew replied with a grin.
"We've got no bloomin' marines here, an' every man jack of us has it
well in mind that he's to get what's due him this time. He'll stay where
he is until we make the home port, unless it so be that some of his
friends overhaul us."

"Is there a brig aboard the _Junior_?" I asked.

"We've got what answers much the same purpose. He's ironed, an' made
fast to a stanchion."

"How long are you to keep him?"

"Until you've given that Britisher the floggin' he deserves, an' ought
to have had half an hour ago. Don't fear the Yankee-seller will give us
the slip; an' if you're feelin' lonesome on his account, come aboard an'
see him now an' then."

"No, thank you, we've had all we want of that fellow, although we'd
rather take him on board if there's any chance of his getting overboard
in the harbor," I replied with a laugh, feeling much relieved in mind at
knowing that we were not to be burdened with him again immediately.

Simply to show that we of the frigate were not the only ones who
believed Captain Hillyar had not spoken the truth when he apologized
for coming alongside, I want to set down here that which was written by
the historian Lossing many years after the occurrence, while I have been
trying to put this yarn into something like proper shape for reading:--

He says: "It was afterward generally believed that Hillyar had positive
orders to attack the _Essex_, even in a neutral South American port, and
that his intentions were hostile, until the moment when he discovered
his imminent peril in the power of the gallant American."

Twenty-four hours later the British ships stood out to sea, having taken
on board whatever supplies they needed, and you may be certain they gave
us a wide berth while passing. Our crew was at quarters, ready for any
kind of a trick they might attempt; but Captain Hillyar had had quite
enough of running us down; one experience was sufficient to show him
that Yankee sailors in an unfriendly port are not easily caught napping.

Now all hands were certain the _Phoebe_ would speedily show her
willingness to engage us, for she was the heavier craft, and we remained
with our nerves strung to their highest tension until it was shown
plainly that the Britisher did not intend to tackle us except at that
moment when it would be possible for her to take us at a disadvantage.

On the day after the two ships left the harbor we stood boldly out, with
good reason to expect that a ship carrying so much metal as did the
_Phoebe_ would not hesitate to attack us even though the _Essex Junior_
was near at hand; but, if you please, that valiant Captain Hillyar had
no idea of fighting us on anywhere near even terms. His ship was
superior to ours by at least twenty-five per cent, and yet when we were
outside, ready for a fair battle, he refused to fight until the _Cherub_
was in position to share a full half of the scrimmage.

It is not to be supposed that our commander would engage against both
the Britishers, if it could be avoided. He was ready enough to show them
of what stuff his crew was made; but did not propose to do so when it
was impossible we could even so much as hold our own.

The days went by until four weeks had passed, we ready to fight the
_Phoebe_ alone, and Captain Hillyar showing the white feather on every
occasion when an engagement was possible and the Cherub chanced to be at
a distance.

Our men chafed and fumed at the cowardice, as we called it, but all in
vain; and one day I asked Master Hackett flatly if he believed Captain
Hillyar was afraid to tackle us.

"No, lad, I don't," he replied promptly. "It's showin' yourself a fool
to claim that all the Yankees are brave, an' all the Britishers cowards.
The commander of the _Phoebe_ has had his orders to capture or sink us.
He and his consort together can readily do it, an' considerin' that he's
got us bottled up where we've no choice as to comin' out, he counts to
hold the advantage. From his standpoint it's all right, an' I'm not
certain but that our commander would do much the same thing if the
tables were turned."

It wasn't all idleness with us, however, as we waited for a chance to
engage one or the other of the enemy singly.

Time and again we got under way as if determined to tackle them both,
and, standing out of the harbor, gave the Britishers an opportunity of
measuring speed with us. We might have shirked a battle by leaving the
_Essex Junior_ to her fate; but Captain Porter did not count on doing
one or the other.

Each time we stirred up the Englishmen we came back to our anchorage
again, as much as to say that we would leave in company with our
consort, or not at all.

One day I overheard little Midshipman David Farragut talking with
Lieutenant McKnight about a boat expedition which was to be sent out
some dark night for the purpose of capturing the _Cherub_, and I burned
to make one of the party; but when I spoke of it to my cousin he
reproved me sharply, saying that it was not seemly for boys to be
listening to the conversations of their superiors.

Now, I never looked upon midshipmen as my superiors. Of course they
lived aft, and ordered the other boys, and old men for that matter,
about in the most ferocious manner; but it seemed as if the lieutenant
was stretching matters when he allowed that thirteen-year-old David
Farragut's conversation should not be listened to by such as me, even
though he was the captain's adopted son.

However, nothing came of the boat expedition, and perhaps no one save
Midshipman Farragut seriously thought of such a rash venture.

It was on the 27th day of February when we believed the time had come
for the battle; when Captain Hillyar gave every evidence of being
willing to meet us singly.

The _Cherub_ was fully a league to windward when the _Phoebe_ ran in
toward the entrance to the harbor, and hoisted a banner on which were
the words, "God and Our Country; British Sailors' Best Rights: Traitors
Offend Both." Then she fired a gun to windward, giving as plain a signal
as sailormen could that she was ready for action.

You may well believe that we did not spend many minutes in getting under
way, and on the _Essex_ was flying a banner with this motto, one which
we had run up many times before when coaxing the Britishers to stand up
like men:--

"Free Trade and Sailors' Rights!"

It seems that the sail-makers had been at work on another banner, for as
we came out of the harbor a second was run up to the masthead of the
_Essex_, and on it in bold letters were the words:--

"God, Our Country, and Liberty; Tyrants Offend Them."

Our crew was at quarters, Phil and I among the rest, with the officers
in fighting trim on the quarter-deck, and I heard little Midshipman
Farragut say to one of the lieutenants:--

"This time we've got them, and we'll show how Yankees fight!"

I took a fancy to the lad from that moment, although I had seen but
little of him previous to this last visit at Valparaiso; and even though
he was a Spaniard by birth, it did not surprise me to hear him claim to
be a Yankee, although he had no right to the name save by grace of his
adopted father, our commander.

The crew cheered lustily when the _Phoebe_ stood her ground until we
were within range, and every man was worked up to the highest pitch of
excitement as the order was given for us to let fly a broadside.

The cheers were changed to groans and yells a moment later, however, for
the Britisher, instead of returning our fire, ran down and joined her

After that, even Master Hackett allowed there must be a strain of
cowardly blood in the make-up of Captain Hillyar.

Once more I set down what another[4] has written, this time concerning
the trick the Britisher played us that day:--

"This conduct excited a good deal of feeling among the officers of the
_Essex_, who rightly judged that the challenge should not have been
given if it was not the intention of the enemy to engage singly. Taking
all these circumstances in connection, there can be little question that
Captain Hillyar had been positively instructed not to fight the _Essex_
alone, if he could possibly avoid it. As he bore the character of a good
and brave officer, it is not easy to find any other reasonable solution
of the course he pursued. His challenge off the port was probably
intended as a ruse to get the _Essex_ into his power; for demonstrations
of this nature are not subject to the severe laws which regulate more
precise defiances to combat."

Well, we went back to our anchorage again, not in the best of spirits,
for we believed firmly that we could whip the _Phoebe_ in a fair fight,
and every man jack among us, including several of the officers, had
harsh words in his mouth regarding the British captain, Hillyar.

Within a very few days after this Captain Porter learned that other
English frigates were working their way up to Valparaiso; and when the
blockade should be stronger, it was almost positive both our ships would
fall prizes to the enemy.

All this we heard from the marines, as a matter of course, and finally
they brought that information which aroused us to the highest pitch once

It was said by these eavesdroppers that there had been a consultation
of officers in Captain Porter's cabin, and it had been decided that we
bend all our energies to giving the _Essex Junior_ an opportunity of
escape, while we would remain and take the brunt of the fight.

On some day in the near future, when the wind should be strong and
favorable, we were to put out as if willing to meet both the Britishers.
The _Essex_ could outsail them, as had been proven several times
already, and she was to run two or three leagues off the coast, knowing
full well that the enemy would follow.

When we were hull down in the distance, the _Essex Junior_ would get
under way, and do her prettiest at doubling the Horn without running
afoul of a British frigate.

Surely, it seemed as if that plan would work without a hitch, so our old
sea-dogs argued, for the _Phoebe_ and _Cherub_ must follow us, since
neither of them was willing to meet us singly, and they could not run
the chance of waiting for the _Junior_, because we might be trying to
save our own skins, which would not seem improbable in view of the fact
that the frigate was the more valuable ship of the two.

By such a course we would not be bringing the matter to an issue as far
as the _Essex_ was concerned; but it would open the way for the
_Junior_ to make a home port and give tidings of us who were ready to
venture all rather than have it believed we dared not stand up to a ship
of our size, or even two of them.

Now we thought and talked of nothing save the scheme to outwit the
Britisher, and it is safe to say that never a crew watched the sky more
intently than did we, for a strong, favoring wind was to be the signal
for getting under way, as we knew by this time from the officers as well
as the marines.

We were to make a venture which might bring us to grief; but we believed
firmly that the _Junior_ would get safely out of the scrape.


[4] J. Fenimore Cooper.



We were not kept long watching the weather, nor did we play the ruse
exactly in the same manner which had been determined upon, as will be
seen shortly.

It seems, as I afterward learned, that when the eavesdropping marines
announced to us of the gun-deck that the scheme had been decided upon,
our officers were as yet only discussing it.

To be precise, as one should be while setting down facts which go to the
making up of history, it was not until the afternoon of March 27 when
Captain Porter came to the conclusion that, under the circumstances,
there was nothing better to be done than give the _Essex Junior_ an
opportunity to slip out of the harbor while we were leading the
Britishers a long chase seaward.

In case the _Junior_ got safely off, we would not soon again be troubled
with Oliver Benson; for, as Master Hackett declared, there was every
reason now why he should remain where he was, and, if all went right
with us Americans, he would soon find himself in a prison from which he
could not depart at will.

I will set down at this point, lest it be forgotten in that whirl of
excitement which always comes over me when I ponder upon the thrilling
deeds of bravery I witnessed within a few hours after Captain Porter had
decided to give the _Junior_ a chance for her life--I will set it down
that from that 27th day of March I ceased to know aught concerning
Oliver Benson. He was in irons on the evening before the gallant frigate
was overtaken by misfortune, and there his history ends so far as I am
concerned. Neither Phil nor I heard of the villain again, although in
after years we made many inquiries concerning him.

And now I am come to that portion of my poor yarn where the _Essex_ lost
her "luck," and the losing of it cost the life of many a brave man, each
of whom stood facing death with a cheer and a smile until the grim
messenger gained the victory.

No time in my life stands out in memory so vividly as does the evening
of March 27, 1814, and yet nothing of particular interest to a stranger
occurred at that time. That portion of the crew not on duty had gathered
well forward on the gun-deck, discussing the chances that the _Junior_
would take in trying to weather the Horn when we knew that the
Britishers had many ships between that point and a home port.

The majority of our men believed she would pull through all right, for
Mr. Downes was a skilful and at the same time careful seaman, who would
not run unnecessary risks. Besides this fact, our people still relied on
the "luck of the _Essex_," for they were as yet ignorant of the fact
that it had at last deserted the old frigate whose career had been so

There was much jawing and arguing on that evening, but in a friendly
way. Never a man lost his temper, and, to the best of my knowledge, not
a harsh word was spoken during that time of tongue wagging. All hands
were in the best of spirits, thinking that soon we would show the
Britishers a trick worth half a dozen of their clumsy ones, and
believing we might yet prove the _Essex_ to be a match for both the
ships in the offing. It was the most enjoyable time I ever spent aboard
the frigate, for on the eve of that terrible disaster we had forgotten
entirely the dangers which threatened.

And now let me describe the entrance of Valparaiso harbor, for the
better understanding of that which follows:--

It opens to the northward, being formed by a headland on its western
side, and a cove that makes to the southward within it; the main coast
sweeping round to the north and east again, affording the necessary

When Phil and I turned in on this 27th day of March it was nearly a dead
calm, with no indication landward that a stiff breeze was concealed by
the fleecy clouds which had been lighted to a crimson glory by the
setting sun.

Next morning on turning out we found the wind blowing half a gale from
the southward, and the frigate leaping and plunging to the anchors as if
bent on getting under way on her own account.

My first thought was that the moment had come when we might play our
trick on the Britishers, and I went directly to Master Hackett to learn
if there was any show of leaving port that day.

"I reckon we'll hold to the ground, lad," the old man said as he gazed
around after the general fashion of sailormen before replying to a
question regarding the weather. "That 'ere Britisher is so careful of
himself that he mightn't think it safe to chase us very far at such a
time, so it stands to reason we'll stay where we are till things look
more promisin'."

Having satisfied myself on this score, I went with Phil for our
pannikins of tea and whatever the cooks might be pleased to dish out in
the shape of breakfast; but before we had succeeded in our purpose, and
while yet standing in line, with a dozen men ahead of us, the ship gave
a mighty plunge; we heard a noise like the muffled report of a
24-pounder, and the frigate swung around with a lurch that brought us up
all standing against the starboard rail.

For the instant I was at a loss to understand what had happened, and
then came the cry:--

"The port cable has carried away!"

The heavy chain had snapped under the enormous strain put upon it as the
frigate made a wilder plunge than usual, and in an instant we were being
driven stern foremost directly toward the entrance of the harbor, where
could be seen, less than a mile in the offing, the two Britishers with
everything snugged down to the gale.

In a twinkling there was a scene of apparent confusion on board the
frigate, although as a matter of fact the seamen were working with a
well-defined purpose, each intent on his portion of the task.

There was nothing to be done but crowd on all sail, and, whether we were
ready or no, begin that trick which we believed would result in giving
the _Junior_ an opportunity of running the blockade.

Our men worked like beavers, and even Phil and I took a hand in pulling
and hauling until the good frigate was well under way, staggering toward
that jutting land known as the Point of Angels, a dangerous bluff to
double in the best of weather, because of the sudden and violent squalls
which are frequent there. As a rule all ships reef down while going
around, and here was the _Essex_ under full sail.

We expected the order which came a moment later, and the topmen were
already standing by the rail to execute it.

In with the gallant-sails! We were going to haul close by the wind,
counting on holding our weatherly position, and surely it seemed as if
all would go as was desired; but the "luck" of the _Essex_ had left her!

The Britishers were at such a distance that we might easily, by hugging
the land, give them the slip, and then the chase would begin.

There was no time for tongue wagging. Every man stood at his post ready
for the next command which might be given, and Phil and I, sheltered by
the starboard rail and the forecastle-deck, were breathlessly watching
the old ship's gallant fight against both the elements and the enemy.

On the maintop four men stood ready to loose the canvas after we passed
the danger point, and it was to me as if we had already doubled the
bluff when there was a great crash, a swaying of the ship as if she had
received a deadly wound, and we saw the maintopmast with its raffle of
cordage trailing in the water alongside, pounding and threshing against
the side as if bent on staving in the planks.

The four brave seamen went with the spar; but no effort could be made to
save them. It was a case of holding on hard and running for dear life,
otherwise the _Essex_ would soon have been piled up on the rocks with
all hands battling to keep off death a few seconds longer.

Phil gripped my arm till it was as if an iron band encircled it, and I
believe of a verity that I ceased to breathe for a full minute.

To run before the wind with our top hamper dragging astern would have
been to throw ourselves into the arms of the enemy, and while one
portion of the crew were trying to cut away the wreckage, the remainder
did their best to put the frigate about.

Even green lads like Phil and me understood that we could not beat up to
our old anchorage, even though the frigate had not been wounded, and we
gazed anxiously aft to learn what might be the course whereby we should
slip past the Britishers and the yet more dangerous headlands.

That question was speedily answered when the _Essex_ was headed directly
across the harbor entrance to its northeastern side, and the anchors
were let go within a pistol shot of the shore, just under a bluff on
which was the Chilian battery.

I drew a long breath of relief. The ship was no more than three miles
from the town; she lay hard by the land, and equally as much, if not
more so, within a neutral port as before.

"That was a tight squeeze!" I said, bawling in Phil's ear, because the
roar of the wind rendered ordinary conversation difficult; and he
replied by saying:--

"At one time I counted it as a certainty that we must run on such a
course as would allow the Britishers to rake us!"

At the same instant I noted the fact that while our crew should have
been snugging down the canvas, they were moving here and there as if
going to quarters, and, pouncing on Master Hackett who chanced to pass
near at hand, I asked him for an explanation.

"Look yonder, lad," he cried. "Are you blind that you can't see both
the Britishers comin' down upon us with motto flags and jacks set? The
brave Captain Hillyar whom our commander spared when we might have sent
him to the bottom, is countin' on tacklin' us while we're wrecked aloft,
an' in no position to manoeuvre."

"But we're still in the port!" I cried, almost beside myself with
astonishment and fear.

"He doesn't give a fig for the port, now we're the same as disabled.
It's what the coward has been waitin' for, an' he'd take advantage of us
if we were lyin' just off the town! A gallant Britisher he, who wouldn't
give fair battle, but hangs off an' on till he finds us in a tight
place! Show me a Yankee who'd play so contemptible a game, an' I'll help
keel-haul him!"

The first boat's crew was called away to get a spring on our cable, and
the _Phoebe_ was bearing down upon us with her men at quarters, thus
showing, if we had had any doubt before, that it was her intention to
open the action when we were well-nigh helpless.

Our commander was not one to show the white feather, however great the
danger. At every point where we could reeve a halliard, flags were
hoisted, and orders were given to go to quarters, although if the
spring was not got on the cable we might never be able to give them a

None but a bully and a braggart like Captain Hillyar would have attacked
an enemy while in such a condition.

The _Phoebe_ rounded to when nearly astern of us, and while our men were
working at the spring she opened fire at long range. The _Cherub_ hauled
off our starboard bow and blazed away at the same time.

The engagement was on, and I hardly realized that I was taking part in
as cruel a sea-fight as was ever waged. Phil and I served the ammunition
for Nos. 1 and 2 guns, and so rapidly did our people deliver their fire
that we were kept on the jump every minute.

I saw the men throwing sand on the decks, and forgot to be frightened. I
even understood how necessary it was, how greatly it might be to my
advantage in the work, for a 24-pound shot had come through one of the
midship ports, killing three men and wounding as many more, and the red
blood with its odor of salt flowing across the planks where no sand had
been strewn, caused me to slip and slide as if on greased timbers.

My shirt was covered with blood; my throat smarted with the fumes of
burning powder, and my eyes were half blinded by the smoke. Here and
there lay the body of a shipmate who would never again answer to the
call of his superior; a wounded man had crawled against the forward
bulkhead and was trying to stanch the flow of life fluid, and amid it
all I had no consciousness of fear. The fever of battle was upon me like
a consuming fire, and my only thought, outside of the duties I should
perform, was that we might be mowing down as many of their men as they
were of ours.

Now and then I saw Phil dimly through the smoke as he passed me going to
and from the magazine. His shirt had been torn away, or flung off, and
thus, half-clad, begrimed with powder until one might have mistaken him
for an African, he cheered whenever we succeeded in firing a broadside,
or waved his arms now and then in response to some command from the

Now I heard a shout from the hatchway that a spring had been got on the
cable, and as we sent a broadside toward the _Phoebe_ or the _Cherub_,
as the case might be, I added my voice to the others, exulting in the
thought that we had sent death aboard the cowardly Britishers.

Again I heard the cry that our springs had been cut away by a shot, and
was sensible of the fact that the gallant old frigate was being swung
around by the wind until the after gunners were forced to cease work
because they could not bring their pieces to bear.

Three several times did our brave fellows, working under the enemy's
heavy fire, succeed in getting the springs on the cable, and as often
were the hawsers shot away.

"The _Phoebe_ is punishing us terribly," so I heard Midshipman Farragut
say; but through an open port I saw the _Cherub_ running down to leeward
to take a position near her consort. Surely, we had given that ship
enough, although not succeeding in doing the frigate any great injury.

The _Phoebe_ was so far away that we had hardly a gun which could touch
her, while because of her station and long pieces, she sent nearly every
shot aboard us.

Then came a lull in the fighting, and I heard the word passed from one
to the other that we were to get three long twelves out aft, and side by
side with Phil I aided to the best of my ability in the work.

The Britishers poured in a heavy fire while we were thus engaged, and
here, there, and everywhere on our decks were dead or wounded men before
we got the new pieces in position.

Then our most skilful gunners were sent to the long twelves, and we lads
brought ammunition till we were ready to drop from mingled excitement
and fatigue, yet were hardly conscious of our condition, for now were
our guns beginning to tell, and we could see that the Britishers were
suffering as they had made us suffer.

Then, suddenly, a deafening cheer went up from our men, and running to
one of the ports I squeezed my body out past the gun till I could see
the _Phoebe_ and _Cherub_ hauling off like crippled ducks.

I believed the battle was at an end, and began to cheer like a crazy
lad, when Master Hackett caught me by the shoulder with a jerk that
brought me up all standing.

"I reckon the fumes of powder an' blood have gone to your head, lad.
Quiet down a bit, or you'll need to be sent into the cockpit."

"We've whipped the Britishers!" I shouted, trying vainly to squirm out
of the old sailor's grasp. "They thought to cut us up because we were
well-nigh helpless, and it's themselves who've got the worst of it."

"Hold your jaw, you young monkey! This is no time for such crowin' as
you're doin'. We've beat 'em off for a time, an' it's allowable we kick
up a bit of a shindy over it; but the battle isn't ended by a long

"Not ended?" I cried, coming to my senses in a measure. "Then why have
the Britishers crawled away?"

"They've only hauled off for repairs, an' it stands you in hand to help
make ready for what's yet to come. Stow your jaw, an' bear a hand with
the rest of us!"

I was to "bear a hand" in moving the dead to one side where they would
not hamper our movements, and aid in carrying the wounded below, as I
soon saw, and straightway it was as if all strength had departed.

Now that the heat and excitement of the action was past for the time
being, my stomach revolted at the horrible sights everywhere around,
and, leaning out one of the ports, I yielded to the sickness which beset
me even as it had when first we put to sea.

That I could have gloried in the terrible carnage; that I had passed the
dead bodies of those who that morning had greeted me with a friendly
word, and not felt my heart quiver, seemed incredible, and I shed
bitter tears because of my hard-heartedness.

It was cruel as it was wicked, and I must have been possessed by a demon
to have found a savage pleasure in such sickening work!

Almost without being aware of the fact I listened to a conversation
among the men as to the injury we had received.

Eleven men had been killed outright, twenty-one were wounded, and two
died after being carried into the cockpit. Our topsail sheets, topsail
halliards, jib and foretopmast staysail halliards had been cut away, and
almost the only canvas that could have been spread was the flying jib.
How many shot had hulled us it was impossible to say; but, looking over
the rail, one could see the big splinters sticking up here and there
until it seemed that we must have been wounded in every square yard of
hull on the stern and starboard side from the water line upward.

It seemed impossible that we could continue the action another moment,
and yet our men were cheerily making preparations to renew the fight.

I believe it was the knowledge that we would soon be under fire again
which aided me in so far pulling myself together that I could obey
orders; and even when I was in the thick of the terrible work the sight
of a pool of blood would cause an upheaval of my stomach, although when
the wounds were received and I might have said a soothing word to the
dying, all this carnage was as nothing.

It is beyond my poor skill with a pen to set down the second portion of
this wicked fight into which we had been so cowardly forced, and also
because I know very little of it from my own knowledge. When the
Britishers came down upon us again the fever of battle took hold of me
once more, and I was little less than crazy.

Here is the remainder of the story, at which Britishers should blush, as
told by one who quietly pieced together the accounts given him by the

"The enemy was not long in making his repairs, and both ships next took
a position on the starboard quarter of the _Essex_, where it was not in
the power of the latter vessel to bring a single gun to bear upon him,
as he was too distant to be reached by carronades. His fire was very
galling, and it left no alternative to Captain Porter between submission
and running down to assail him. He gallantly decided on the latter. But
by this time the _Essex_ had received many serious injuries in addition
to the loss of her topmast. The only sail that could be got upon the
ship to make her head pay off was the flying jib, which was hoisted when
the cable was cut, and the vessel edged away with the intention of
laying the _Phoebe_ aboard.

"The foretopsail and the foresail were not let fall, though for want of
tacks and sheets they were nearly useless. Still the _Essex_ drove down
on her assailants, closing near enough to open with her carronades. For
a few minutes the firing on both sides was tremendous, the people of the
_Essex_ proving their discipline and gallantry at that trying moment in
a way to justify all the high expectations that had been formed of them,
though their decks were already strewn with killed, and the cockpit was
crowded with the wounded. This work proved too hot for the _Cherub_,
which hauled off a second time, nor did she come near enough to use her
carronades again, during the remainder of the action keeping up a
distant fire with her long guns.

"The _Phoebe_ discovered no disposition to throw away the immense
advantage she possessed in her long eighteens; and when she found the
_Essex's_ fire becoming warm she kept edging off, throwing her shot at
the same time with fatal effect, cutting down the people of her
antagonist almost with impunity to herself. By this time many of the
guns of the American ship were disabled, and the crews of several had
been swept away. One particular gun was a scene of carnage that is
seldom witnessed in a naval combat, nearly three entire crews falling at
it in the course of the action. Its captain alone escaped with a slight

"This scene of almost unresisting carnage had now lasted nearly two
hours, and finding it impossible to close with his adversary, who chose
his distance at pleasure, Captain Porter felt the necessity of taking
some prompt measure if he would prevent the enemy from getting
possession of his ship. The wind had hauled to the westward, and he saw
a hope of running her ashore at a spot where he might land his people
and set her on fire. For a few minutes everything appeared to favor this
design, and the _Essex_ had drifted within musket-shot of the beach when
the wind suddenly shifted from the land, paying the ship's head off in a
way to leave her exposed to a dreadful raking fire. Still, as she was
again closing with the _Phoebe_, Captain Porter indulged a hope of
finally laying that ship aboard.

"At this moment Lieutenant Commandant Downes came alongside the _Essex_
in order to receive the orders of his commanding officer, having pulled
through all the fire in order to effect this object. He could be of no
use, for the enemy again put his helm up and kept away, when Mr. Downes,
after remaining in the _Essex_ ten minutes, was directed to return to
his own ship and make preparations to defend, or, at need, to destroy
her. On going away he carried off several of the _Essex's_ wounded,
leaving three of his own men behind him in order to make room in the

"The slaughter in the _Essex_ having got to be too horrible, the enemy
firing with deliberation and hulling her at almost every shot, Captain
Porter, as a last resort, ordered a hawser to be bent to the sheet
anchor, and the latter let go in order to bring the head of the ship
around. This effected the object, and once more the Americans got their
broadside to bear, remaining stationary themselves, while their enemy, a
good deal crippled, was drifting slowly to leeward. Even in these
desperate circumstances a ray of hope gleamed through this little
advantage, and Captain Porter was beginning to believe that the _Phoebe_
would drift out of gun-shot before she discovered his expedient, when
the hawser parted with the strain.

"There was no longer any chance of saving the ship. To add to his
distress she was on fire, the flames coming up both the main and forward
hatchways; and for a few moments it was thought she would thus be
destroyed. An explosion of powder also occurred below, to add to the
horrors of the scene, and Captain Porter told his people that, in
preference to being blown up, all who chose to incur the risk might
attempt to reach the shore by swimming. Many availed themselves of this
permission, and some succeeded in effecting their escape. Others
perished, while a few, after drifting about on bits of spars, were
picked up by the boats of the enemy. Much the greater part of the crew,
however, remained in the ship, and they set about an attempt to
extinguish the flames, although the shot of the enemy was committing its
havoc the whole time. Fortunately, the fire was got under, when the few
brave men who were left went again to the long guns.

"The moment had now arrived when Captain Porter was to decide between
submission or the destruction of the remainder of his people. In the
midst of this scene of slaughter he had himself been untouched, and it
would seem that he felt himself called upon to resist as long as his own
strength allowed. But his remaining people entreated him to remember
his wounded, and he at last consented to summon his officers. Only one,
Lieutenant McKnight, could join him on the quarter-deck! The first
lieutenant, Mr. Wilmer, had been knocked overboard by a splinter and
drowned, while getting the sheet anchor from the bows; Lieutenant
Cowell, the next in rank, was mortally wounded; Lieutenant Odenheimer
had just been knocked overboard from the quarter, and did not regain the
vessel for several moments. The reports of the state of the ship were
fearful. A large portion of the guns were disabled, even had there been
men left to fight them. The berth-deck, steerage, wardroom, and cockpit
were full of wounded, and the latter were even killed by shot while
under the surgeon's hands. The carpenter was sent for, and he stated
that of his crew, he alone could perform any duty. He had been over the
side to stop shot-holes, when his slings were cut away and he narrowly
escaped drowning. In short, seventy-five men, officers included, were
all that remained for duty, and the enemy, in perfectly smooth water,
was firing his long eighteens at a nearly unresisting ship, with as much
precision as he could have discharged them at a target. It became an
imperative duty to strike, and the colors were accordingly hauled down
after one of the most remarkable combats to be found in the history of
naval warfare.

"In this bloody contest the _Essex_ had fifty-eight men killed,
including those who soon died of their hurts, and sixty-six wounded,
making a total of one hundred and twenty-four, or nearly half of all who
were on board at the commencement of the action. Of the missing there
were thirty-one, most of whom were probably drowned, either in
attempting to swim ashore when the ship was on fire, or by being knocked
overboard by splinters or pieces of rigging. Including the missing, the
entire loss was one hundred and fifty-two out of two hundred and

"The _Essex_, with a very trifling exception while closing, fought this
battle with her six long twelves, opposed by fifteen long eighteens in
broadside, the long guns of the _Cherub_, and, a good deal of the time,
while they lay on her quarter, by the carronades of both the enemy's
ships. Captain Hillyar's published official letter makes the loss of the
_Phoebe_ four killed and seven wounded; that of the _Cherub_ one killed
and three wounded. Captain Tucker of the _Cherub_ was wounded, and the
first lieutenant of the _Phoebe_ was killed.

"The English ships were cut up more than could have been expected under
the circumstances, the latter having received no less than eighteen
12-pound shots below the water line. It would seem that the smoothness
of the water rendered the fire very certain on both sides, and it is
only to be regretted that the _Essex_ could not have engaged under her
three topsails from the commencement.

"The engagement lasted nearly two hours and a half, the long guns of the
_Essex_, it is said, having been fired no less than seventy-five times,
each, in broadside. The enemy must have thrown, agreeably to the
statements made at the time, not less than seven hundred 18-pound shot
at the _Essex_."



During the greater portion of that terrible time which has been so
vividly described by one who afterward became familiar with all the
horrible details, I had but little idea of what was going on, save among
us on the gun-deck.

We had nothing to do with the poor efforts at handling the sorely
wounded ship, and could only load and fire so long as a gun's crew
remained alive.

When one fell dead or wounded at his task another was called to fill his
place, and speedily the deck was so littered with the lifeless or the
dying that some of us would be summoned to aid the surgeon's force in
dragging them out of the way.

As during the first portion of the engagement, I was burning with the
fever of battle, and had so little knowledge of what was being done that
I could not have said whether one hour or ten had elapsed since the
action was begun. It seemed to me as if we had been half an ordinary
lifetime at this business, and I had stood so long beneath the shadow
of the death angel's wings that I took it for granted I should be
numbered with the slain when the conflict ceased, but gave no heed to
such possibility.

Phil and I knew vaguely, because of the dreadful slaughter which
followed, when the frigate's bow payed off while Captain Porter was
trying to beach her, and we came to realize dimly--as though it was
something which did not concern us personally--that we were being so
badly cut to pieces as to make it certain our people must finally yield
to the enemy; but above all was the one thought, a single desire, to do
as much damage as possible to the Britishers before our ship went down.

Then, when we were in position where we could fire a broadside, we began
to cheer once more, believing that after all our disadvantages we might
compel the foe to retire; but our hearts did not sink, perhaps because
we were too much excited to realize it, when the hawser of the sheet
anchor parted, leaving us once again where we could be raked.

When the ship was on fire we ran to the spar-deck, yet fighting the
flames, and neither Phil nor I knew until afterward that permission had
been given the men to leap overboard and save themselves.

We would not have deserted the ship, however, because both of us were
following Master Hackett very closely; it seemed much as though he had
become a part of us, and we could do nothing save by his side or under
his direction.

Why we three, when all those brave hearts were sent into eternity on
that 28th day of March, should have escaped a wound I am unable to say;
it must have been, as my mother said, that God was not yet ready to
receive us into that portion of his kingdom that had been allotted us.

The old man took us lads by the hand when finally Captain Porter gave
orders that the colors be hauled down in token of surrender, and there
we stood as if unable to move or speak, when the Britishers came on

The living were allowed to bury the dead; the wounded were taken on
shore, and then we were, with many others, sent on board the _Cherub_,
where we were by no means badly treated. More than one Britisher on
board that ship was ashamed, as I myself heard them say, at our having
been attacked while disabled, and nearly all did whatsoever they might
to ease the burden of grief and disappointment.

There is no good reason why I should set down here what we did or said
during such time as we remained in the harbor of Valparaiso, for it
would be sad reading. It can well be supposed that we mourned for our
brave fellows who had been killed, and our hearts went out in sympathy
to those wounded ashore; but as for ourselves, we could do nothing save

Then came the day when it was made known that Captain Hillyar had
decided it would be quite out of the question to hamper himself with so
many prisoners, and the _Essex Junior_ was to be converted into a
cartel[5] to take us home after we had given our paroles.

It seemed most wonderful that after passing through so many dangers we
were really to see our native country once more. I wept tears of joy
when the news came to me, and was not ashamed of so doing. During the
fight, and for many a long day afterward, I thought of myself as so
nearly in the clutches of death that I was already done with the things
of this world.

When the arrangements had finally been made, however, we learned that my
cousin, Lieutenant McKnight, Mr. Adams, the chaplain, Mr. Lyman, a
master's mate, and eleven of our sailors had already been exchanged for
some prisoners taken from the _Sir Andrew Hammond_, and were then on
board the _Essex Junior_.

Later, after we had sailed for the United States, my cousin and Mr.
Lyman went to Rio de Janeiro in the _Phoebe_ in order to give some
testimony in behalf of the captors. From that port they sailed in a
Swedish brig bound to England, and since that moment it has been
impossible to learn aught concerning their fate. The captain of the brig
declares that his passengers were sent on board the British sloop-of-war
_Wasp_, at their own request. The _Wasp_ was never heard from after she
parted company with the brig; but it is my opinion, and shared by many,
that Lieutenant McKnight and his companion were foully murdered by the

We left the port of Valparaiso with our papers in good order, and all on
board rejoicing at the prospect of seeing their loved ones once more. At
that time I believed nothing could tempt me to leave my mother again;
but "once a sailor always a sailor" is the proverb, and I am inclined to
think it has in it much truth.

The voyage was a prosperous one; we doubled Cape Horn without
difficulty or incident, and had we but been in the good ship _Essex_,
returning home after a successful cruise, the days would not have been
long enough for all our happiness. As it was, however, we lived over and
over again the past, discussing the battle which had cost us so dearly
and left the poor old frigate a wreck in the harbor of Valparaiso, and
speaking tenderly with many a choking sob of the shipmates who stood
gallantly to their posts of duty until death struck them down.

Now we were returning on parole, the survivors of a ship's company which
had struck their colors to the enemy, and it weighed us down, even
though we knew full well that the cruise of the _Essex_ had been of
greatest value to our country.

We talked of the old ship as if she had once been a living thing, and
regretted most deeply that we had not succeeded in beaching her, or that
we had extinguished the flames when her hold was apparently a mass of

In fact, we went over all the details of our voyage which was ending so
sadly, never tiring during all the long weeks, and many times did we
conjure up pictures of our shipmates who had been left behind on
Nukuheva, wondering what they would do after months had passed and we
failed to return, or speculating upon the possibility that they would
attempt the homeward cruise in one of the prizes.

Poor fellows! While we spoke of them as living happily and amid plenty,
they were battling for life, as I may one day set down in detail, if it
so be that this feeble apology for a landsman's yarn finds favor with
those who may read it.

The voyage on the cartel was a prosperous one, as I have already said,
and in due time we were off the port of New York, believing that within
a few hours, at the longest, we would be at liberty to go wheresoever it
pleased us. The _Essex Junior_ was no more than thirty miles from land
when we sighted a Britisher who speedily gave us to understand that we
must heave to and show our papers.

The stranger proved to be the _Saturn_, a razee (meaning a ship-of-war
cut down to a smaller size by reducing the number of decks), commanded
by Captain Nash.

We had not supposed there might be any question of our detention, for we
had a passport in due form from Captain Hillyar; but this Britisher took
it into his head that there must be something wrong with our craft; he
even questioned the right of Captain Hillyar to parole us, and ended by
giving the order that we lay by him during the night.

Immediately visions of a British prison danced before our eyes. We had
been forced into a fight when our ship was little better than a wreck,
by one Englishman, and now here was another who proposed to take in
charge a lot of paroled men who were free to sail to their port of
destination according to the usages of war among all nations.

After a time of jawing and tongue wagging among our sailors, we came to
believe that Captain Porter was the one whom the Britisher particularly
desired to hold; for surely he could have no wish to hamper himself with
a lot of seamen whom he must, beyond a peradventure, set at liberty when
his government learned the facts in the case.

What they would do with our captain no one seemed to so much as guess;
we had decided among ourselves that some indignity would be put upon
him, and when the word was passed from one to another that Captain
Porter was inclined to make his escape in one of the small boats, every
man jack volunteered to pull him ashore.

To row a ship's boat thirty miles, with the chances of being lost in the
fog which was even then creeping over the waters, seemed like a
desperate undertaking; but when Master Hackett, who had been selected by
the crew as their spokesman, went aft and made known to Captain Porter
what they desired to do, he accepted the offer without hesitation.

One of our boats was launched to leeward, where she might not be seen by
those on the razee, and our commander, with little Midshipman Farragut
by his side, lowered himself into the stern-sheets after the crew were
at their stations.

Six hardy seamen gave way at the oars, and Phil and I waved our hats in
parting at Master Hackett, whom we did not see again until many a long
day had passed.

The Britisher caught a glimpse of the small boat as she pulled out past
our ship, and he pitched a shot after her as a signal to heave to; but
the old shellbacks who sat at the oars were not the kind to be
frightened by the burning of British powder. They had sniffed the odor
many times before, and if they would voluntarily remain on a burning
ship while the enemy was plugging ball after ball into her as if she had
been no more than a target, they could be depended upon to hold their
course regardless of Captain Nash and the razee _Saturn_.

Before the Britishers could fire at them again they were lost to view
in the fog, and, as we learned two days afterward, landed in safety on
Long Island.

Next morning Captain Nash, after examining our papers once more, gave us
permission to continue the voyage, and before nightfall we were lying in
the harbor of New York, rejoicing at having escaped death or a British

Yes, we were made much of, once it was known in the city who we were,
but of that there is no reason why I should speak at any length.

I should add, however, that after sailing and rowing sixty miles or
more, the boat in which was our commander arrived at Babylon, on the
south side of Long Island, and even then her occupants were not free
from trouble. Captain Porter was suspected by the citizens of being a
British officer, and but for the fact that he had his commission from
Congress in his pocket, he might have been detained.

He made his way to New York, where he was received with demonstrations
of most profound respect; and when the exploits of the _Essex_ had been
told, every city, village, and hamlet in the country sung the praises of
the frigate and those who manned her.

Phil and I went home as soon as it was possible to escape from those who
were eager to show their admiration of what had been done by the
_Essex_, and I carried in my pocket a song which was made especially for
the frigate. It was printed and sold on the streets; there was in the
verses no little praise for all hands; but the lines I set down here
pleased me more than all the rest, since they referred to that gallant
sailor who by his skill and courage had made it possible for any of us
to see home again.

     "From the laurel's fairest bough
       Let the muse her garland twine,
     To adorn our Porter's brow,
       Who, beyond the burning line,
     Led his caravan of tars o'er the tide.
       To the pilgrims fill the bowl,
       Who, around the southern pole,
       Saw new constellations roll,
           For their guide."


[5] A ship employed in the exchange of prisoners, or in communicating
with the enemy.



A TALE OF 1812

_By James Otis_

_307 pp. Cloth, $1.50_

Characters and incidents largely historical. A lively rendering of a
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Graphically does Mr. Otis tell the story of the naval battle won by
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with strict adherence to history, is given in the first person by a boy,
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An account of the brave but often fruitless struggles and attempts of
young Commodore Perry to get into fighting trim the famous Lake Erie
fleet, handicapped as he was by lack of men and material. The author has
in no wise departed from the strict truth, as given by the best
historians, and it is this fact which renders his entertaining story
particularly valuable as a book for the young.--_Dial._

_With Preble at Tripoli_



349 pages. Cloth. 12mo. $1.50

Second Volume in "_The Great Admiral Series_"

It is a typical, dashing, instructive, and thrilling story. It is
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This volume gives us a most vivid description of the exploits of the old
"Constitution" and the brave men under Commander Preble's command. It is
of the best juvenile literature.--_The Indianapolis Journal._

It is a thrilling account of the loss of the "Philadelphia," and of the
most famous "cutting out" party in our naval history. It adds a second
volume to one of our most interesting series of books for young
people.--_The Dial._

The ever-stimulating account of "Old Ironsides" and her famous campaign
against the Tripolitan pirates forms the basis of one of Mr. Otis's best
stories; correct in its historical facts, interesting from beginning to
end, it will be welcomed not only by the younger reader, but by the
older one as well.--_The Presbyterian._




_300 pp. Cloth. $1.50_

If ever a writer knew how to tell a rattling story that almost lifts you
off your feet on the first page, it is William Drysdale. His style is
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but, aside from its interest, it gives an insight into the life of a
great daily paper of the city that it would be hard to find elsewhere.
Thus the book is instructive as well as captivating.--_Lutheran

"The Young Reporter" is a rattling book for boys. It is written by Mr.
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A genuine boys' book for genuine boys. It is full of life, clean, clear
cut, and inspiring. We can commend this book to any lover of boys'
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the attractiveness of the book.--_Journal of Education._

This is a story of real power, full of life and action, and will enlist
the interest of every stirring and wide-awake boy.--_Herald &

_Fighting Under the Southern Cross._

A Story of the Chile-Peruvian War.



335 pages. Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50.


This is one of the best stories for boys that has been issued, and with
great pleasure we heartily recommend it.--_Observer._

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This volume is so real that one imagines he is in the centre of action.
This doubtless is due to the author's thorough acquaintance with the
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The bitter war of conquest waged by Chile against Peru has never been
given any popular presentation until now. The author is a traveler who
has covered all of South America and was a resident of Peru when the war
broke out. His picture of that period is absorbingly interesting, and
the promised sequel of this volume will be awaited with great
eagerness.--_The Interior._

W. A. WILDE COMPANY, Boston and Chicago.


A Story of Adventure in the interior of Peru and the closing chapters of
the War with Chile.



309 pp. Illustrated. 12mo. Cloth, $1.50


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W. A. WILDE COMPANY, Boston and Chicago.



_352 pages. Cloth. $1.50._

In "Cadet Standish of the St. Louis" Mr. William Drysdale tells the
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This is a story of the recent naval combat in Cuban waters. The book is
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the narrative interest. The story is that of a young cadet on board the
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It is pleasant to be able to say that this tale of Cadet Standish is
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young business man, and with his associates in the navy.--_The Literary




_By Everett T. Tomlinson, Ph. D._

_12mo. 353 pp. Cloth, $1.50. Ill._

This story is patriotic, exciting, and pleasing, and instructs in the
early history of our country without appearing to do so.--_Tribune._

Dr. Tomlinson's Revolutionary stories have so whetted the appetites of
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given.--_Christian Endeavor World._

No books are more welcome than those from the pen of this writer.
Besides being thoroughly interesting and of literary merit, they strike
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This volume is patriotic in tone and treatment, and has all the fire and
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This author's books are not only entertaining for the moment, but they
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history.--_Bookseller, Newsdealer & Stationer._

Dr. Tomlinson has done remarkably helpful work along the line of
supplying young people with history in a most attractive form. In this
volume he combines historical facts with exciting and interesting
adventure, which meets the most vigorous demands of a practical
imagination.--_Cumulative Index._

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