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Title: Barney Blake, The Boy Privateer - or, The Cruise of the Queer Fish
Author: Johnstone, Herrick
Language: English
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BEADLE'S HALF DIME Library

Entered as Second Class Matter at the New York, N. Y., Post Office.

Copyrighted 1897, by BEADLE AND ADAMS. February 9, 1897.

No. 1020. $2.50 a Year. PUBLISHED WEEKLY BY BEADLE AND ADAMS.
Price, 5 cents. Vol. XL.

No. 92 WILLIAM STREET, NEW YORK.

BARNEY BLAKE, THE BOY PRIVATEER;

Or, The Cruise of the Queer Fish. BY HERRICK JOHNSTONE


[Illustration: WITH A LUSTY CHEER THEY BID GOOD-BY TO THE SHIP.]



Barney Blake, the Boy Privateer;

OR,

THE CRUISE of the QUEER FISH.

BY HERRICK JOHNSTONE.



CHAPTER I.

THE SHIP AND HER CREW.


It was upon a bright morning of the month of May, 1813, as I, a sailor
just paid off from my last ship, was wandering along the wharves of
Boston, that I was hailed by an old messmate, named Tony Trybrace.

"Ship ahoy!" cried Tony.

"The Barney Blake," I responded. "Out of employment, with compass gone,
and nothing to steer by."

"What!" cried Tony, giving me his flipper. "Do you want a ship? A
strange wish to go unsatisfied in these times."

"Yes," I hesitatingly rejoined, "but, you see, I've never been in the
navy--always sailed in a merchantman--and--"

"Nonsense!" cried Tony. "That kind of blarney won't do for these times.
I shipped the other day on as cracky a craft as ever kicked the spray
behind her. Come and join us."

"What! on a man-o'-war?"

"Better than that. On a bold privateer! Look out there to windward,"
said Tony, directing my attention with his pointing hand, "and tell me
what you think of her. That's her, the brigantine, with her r'yals half
furled."

The vessel indicated to me by my friend did not go back on his off-hand
description of her.

"She's a splendid ship!" I exclaimed. "What name does she go by?"

"The Queer Fish," was the reply. "She has six
guns--eighteen-pounders--three on each side--with the prettiest
thirty-pound brass swivel at her starn, this side of Davy Jones. She
starts to-morrow for a year's cruise. Will you go?"

"Yes."

"Spoken like a Yankee tar. Come."

A boat of the privateer was in waiting, and in a few moments we were in
it.

Scarcely had we pulled half way before a funny looking old fellow,
squint-eyed, red-whiskered, and enormously wide-mouthed, whom they
called Old Nick--a Norwegian by birth, was detected by the second mate
attempting to take a pull at a green bottle, which he slyly whisked from
the inside breast pocket of his pea-jacket. He was rowing at the time,
and it required much sleight of hand to disengage one of his hands for
the purpose in view. Nevertheless, he succeeded, took a long pull at the
bottle, thinking no one saw him, corked it up again, and was about to
return it to his pocket, when, at a wink from the second mate, Tony
Trybrace, accidentally on purpose, skipped the plunge of his oar and
brought it up against the old fellow with such a jostle that overboard
flew the bottle, where it bobbed about.

Every one who saw the trick burst into fits of laughter. For a moment
Old Nick seemed undetermined what course to pursue. Then nature
vindicated her sway. He dropped his oar, rose in his seat, and plunged
overboard after the green bottle and its precious contents!

He made straight for the bottle, recovered it, took a long pull at it
while he trod water, returned it to his bosom, and made a back track to
the yawl.

"You'll git up early in de morgen to rob ein Deitcher of his schnapps,"
he growled, as he clambered over the gunwale.

So, with many a laugh and jeer at the old fellow's expense, we pulled
the balance of the way without further incident, and were soon upon the
deck of the Queer Fish Privateer.

I was pleased with her more than ever upon a closer acquaintance.
Everything was trim and tidy. Her decks were almost spotless, and
nothing could exceed the beauty of her long bright swivel. She was
polished up like a looking-glass, and I longed to hear her speak, with
an iron pill in her throat.

Tony Trybrace had told nothing but the truth, when he had said that the
people of the privateer were the jolliest afloat. They were a comical
set from Captain Joker down to Peter Pun, the cabin-boy. Tony was the
boatswain, and, as soon as we were aboard, he escorted me down to the
cabin, to see the captain and sign the ship's papers.

I shall never forget the impression created upon me by my first
introduction to the captain. I thought him the funniest-looking little
man I had ever seen. He was a dried-up, weazen-faced, bald-headed little
fellow, of fifty or thereabouts, with a red, gin-loving nose, twinkling
gray eyes, so small that they were usually almost out of sight, and the
expression of his mouth was so intensely humorous, that his lips always
seemed to be fighting back a burst of laughter. To add to this, he was
every inch a seaman, with the freshness of the ocean breathing from
every pore of his wiry frame, and every seam of his weather-beaten face
giving evidence of stormy service in sun and clime.

By a great effort, Captain Joker put on a severe expression of
countenance as I entered, eyed me with those quick professional eyes of
his, and emptied, at a draught, the tumbler of old Santa Cruz which
stood at his side on the cabin-table.

Upon Tony's saying that I wished to ship on the Queer Fish, the captain,
by a still greater effort, put on a still severer expression, and began
to catechize me, while a wink from Tony told me which way the land lay.

"Where do you hail from?" demanded the captain pompously.

"From Salem, sir."

CAPTAIN. (_With a sly twinkle in his eyes, in spite of himself._) What
are the chief staples of Salem?

I. Shoemakers, old maids and sharks' teeth.

CAPTAIN. What is your name?

I. Barney Blake, sir.

CAPTAIN. Who was your mother?

I. Never had any.

CAPTAIN. (_With his eyes twinkling more than ever._) Who are you the son
of?

I. I'm the son of a sea-cook, was weaned on salt water, reared on
sea-biscuit, and am thirsty for prize-money.

"You'll do!" cried the captain, shaking with merriment like a bowl of
bonnyclabber, and striking the table with his fat fist. "Boatswain,
enter him on the books as Barney Blake, son of a sea-cook; give him a
cutlass and two pistols, and make him stand around. Avast, you
vagabonds, and look sharp, or I'll be down on you with a cat and
spread-eagle!"

The laughter of the captain, as we left him, was anything but in
accordance with this monstrous threat.

"Good for you!" whispered Tony, encouragingly, as we ascended the
companion-ladder.

He then brought me forward and introduced me to the entire forecastle.
His words, upon this occasion, were somewhat characteristic, and here
they are:

"Look yer', messmates, this 'ere cove is a perticklar chum o' mine. I've
know'd him fer ten year--ran away from school with him, fell in love
with the same gal, and cruised with him on the Constitution for three
year. All I got ter say is, treat him well, or some o' yer'll git a eye
so black yer own mother won't know yer, unless she's a black woman with
a sore head: for he's as lively on his pins as a four-year-old
cater-mountain, plucky as a Mexican gamecock, and the sweep of his fist
is like the flounder of a ground-shark's fluke. Messmates, this 'ere is
Barney Blake, Son of a Sea-Cook."

Although I could not consistently indorse this opinion of my abilities,
the gusto with which it was received by my future messmates rendered it
poor policy to deny it, so I went forward, and a general handshake was
the result.

How shall I describe the crew of the Queer Fish? They numbered one
hundred and twenty-five men, all told, and were as motley a set as were
ever grouped together under hatches.

The majority were American-born, but there were four Hollanders, two
Englishmen, six Frenchmen, two Malays, one Norwegian (Old Nick) and half
a score of Irishmen. Each one was a character, but to describe each
separately, and do him justice, would alone require a thousand pages; so
I must be content with sketching the few who most prominently figured in
the scenes I am about to narrate.

I have already mentioned Tony Trybrace and Old Nick, as well as the
second mate, whose name was Pat Pickle, at least, so-called--a capital
fellow as ever spoke through a trumpet, and brave as steel. Next in
importance to these worthies was, perhaps, Dicky Drake, the butt of the
whole crew. He was a green chap from somewhere down in Pennsylvania--had
never been to sea before, except as a cod-fisher--and was the subject of
a great number of practical jokes some of which will be duly recorded.

Probably the next worthy to be considered was our cook, a gigantic negro
from the Virginia swamps, who went by the name of Snollygoster. I verily
believe he was seven feet high, if an inch, and was possessed of the
most prodigious strength.

I never saw the celebrated Milo of old. He must have been considerable
in his way; but all I have got to say is that I would pit Snollygoster
against him any day in the week and have no fear of my money. I have
seen him raise a barrel of Santa Cruz and drink from the bunghole as
easy as a common mortal would lift a box of cheese, and he was said to
have felled an ox by a single blow of his fist. He was as good-humored a
fellow as ever lived, and stood any amount of practical joking. The
queerest inconsistency in his character was his peaceable disposition.
Although no one could accuse him of downright cowardice, he was as timid
as a hare and would go a long way out of his way to avoid a fight. But,
if this was shown in his intercourse with men, it did not appear, it
seems, in any other description of danger. He was the merriest man on
board the ship in a tempest, and one of the Malays who had shipped with
him in the Indian Ocean, swore that he had no more fear of sharks than
of so many flying fish.

There was another queer fellow by the name of Roderick Prinn, who hailed
from Southampton. There was nothing very funny about him, either. He had
a sad, puritanical aspect, never drank, smoked or even chewed, and had
very little to say. The most singular thing was his extraordinary
attachment to another of the crew. This was a boy, and a very pretty
little fellow to boot, named Willie Warner. They had both shipped at
Philadelphia, and there was a thread of mystery between them, which was
quite incomprehensible. They would associate together almost entirely,
and would frequently converse together in the low tones of a language
which no one else could understand. Nevertheless, they did their work
well, and, although they were considerably reserved with the rest of the
crew, they were generally so kindly and agreeable in what they _had_ to
say, that no one could find fault.

Then there was an old salt, just such another as Old Nick, who was full
of an innumerable quantity of stories. I don't know what his real name
was, but we called him Bluefish, and he liked the name. The amount of
_yarn_ that was wound round somewhere inside that old fellow's jaw was
somewhat marvelous. He was a regular old spool, and had only to open his
mouth to let out the longest and wildest lies on record, this or the
other side of the Equator. Many a night, I can tell you, did we sit,
gaping, round that old man of the sea, when the gale was blowing through
the rigging a boreal tune, and all was snug below, to listen to his
wild, weird, and, sometimes, humorous tales. Perhaps the reader will
have one or two of them before we get through--who knows?

Well, I must let up on these descriptions, or our story will go
a-begging.

I must say a few words about our first mate, and then I shall be all
ready for the story, with royals spread, rigging taut, and everything
trim to scud before the wind.

There wasn't anything funny about our first mate. He was, on the whole,
an ugly, ill-natured dog, and thoroughly hated by every one on the ship,
except the captain, who generally stuck to him through thick and thin.
He was a Scotchman--one of your low-browed, lantern-jawed, gaunt-boned,
mean-livered Scotchmen--a regular Sawney all over, from the top of his
red head to the sole of his bunioned feet. He had a voice like a cracked
bugle and a heart as hard as the hardest flint on Ben Inverness, with
never anything pleasant to say or do. We detested him, and only waited
our chance to play a joke upon him.

That will suffice for the men. As for the ship, she was as stanch and
pretty a craft as ever plowed the blue waters, was built at Portland,
masted at Bangor, and rigged at Boston, with an armament the best that
money could procure. She was also a very swift sailer, and we calculated
to play hob with John Bull's East Indiamen and whalers before we got
through with the cruise.



CHAPTER II.

OUTWARD BOUND.

                                   "Then come,
     My friends, and, sitting well in order, strike
     The sounding furrows, for my purpose holds
     To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
     Of all the western stars until I die."

     --TENNYSON.


A brighter morning never flung its golden beams upon the dancing
dominion of old Neptune than that bright May morning when the windlass
of the Queer Fish creaked with the rising anchor, and the mainsails,
topsails and top-gallants fluttered slowly out from her graceful spars.
All Boston knew we were going, and a large number of people were out
upon the piers to see us start. So we ran up the Stars and Stripes to
our peak, and gave a rousing salute with our guns, as we moved
majestically down the harbor. We were soon out of it, and "the world was
all before us," our path to choose. Taking the line of the southeast, we
got all of the gale into our bellying sails, and bowled along gleefully,
with a good lookout at the mast-head, to spy a prize, or sing out, if a
cruiser hove in sight.

How could the Queer Fish even _start_ to sea without something funny
happening? There was one incident which I must not omit mentioning.

We had been overwhelmed with peddlers, bumboat women and fruit-sellers,
for some time before our departure. Although they had all been warned to
leave the ship in time, one of them, a Polish Jew, allowed his avarice
to get the better of him, and remained parleying and auctioneering his
trinkets till the anchor was up and we were fairly under way. He then
coolly went to the captain, and requested to have a boat to be put
ashore, when he was greeted by a sound rating, and an assurance that he
couldn't leave the ship short of the Bay of Bengal.

The astonishment of the unfortunate Hebrew can better be imagined than
described. At first, he was simply crushed, and, like Shylock, kept a
quiet despair. Then, as the land grew beautifully less behind us, terror
and rage began to take possession of his soul.

"Mine Gott! mine Gott!" he exclaimed, tearing up and down the deck, and
wringing his hands. "V'at vill de vife of mine poosom zay v'en I comes
not vonce more to mine house? Oh, Repecca, Repecca, mine peloved vife,
varevell, varevell!"

We all enjoyed his misery to our hearts' content, for he was an arrant
skinflint, who had swindled three or four of the crew out of their very
boots. The captain also enjoyed the sight until we brought up alongside
a pilot-boat, on board of which we put the pork-despiser in a summary
way, and left him to find his way back to Boston as best he might.

A number of British cruisers were hovering along the coast, and we
expected to have some trouble before getting fairly to sea. Nor were we
disappointed. We were hardly four hours out before a sail was descried
on our starboard quarter and another on our larboard bow. We hoisted the
British jack and drove right between them, hoping to escape molestation,
as we had little doubt that the sails in view belonged to British
men-o'-war. We were correct in this. And, although we escaped the bigger
customer to the northward, the other stranger came so close that we were
right under her guns. She was a heavily-armed brig, and could have sunk
us at a single broadside, but contented herself with questioning us.

"What ship is that?" was bellowed from her quarter deck.

"The brigantine Spitfire," sung our little captain through his trumpet.

"What luck have you had?"

"Have destroyed sixteen smacks off Gloucester and are now in the wake of
an Indiaman that got out last night."

"All right."

And the unsuspicious brig drove by us with all sails set.

"We pulled the wool over _her_ eyes, at any rate," mused our little
captain, with twinkling eyes, as we continued on our course.

We next fell in with an American vessel, homeward bound, and gave her
directions how to escape the blockaders.

"Sail ho!" sung out the lookout, an hour later.

We were immediately in a stew of excitement, thinking that this, at
least, must be a prize. But this also proved to be an American, and we
were compelled to chew the cud of disappointment.

"Why in blazes ain't you a Britisher?" muttered Tony Trybrace, yawning
indignantly, as the true character of the stranger was discovered.

We kept our course, without incident, until the sun went down behind us,
and the stars, one by one, began to stud the darkening vault.

Behind us flowed our wake of fire; Tony Trybrace played several tunes on
his scrapy violin; and then, as it bade fair to be a peaceful night, we
gathered round old Bluefish for a promised yarn.



CHAPTER III.

THE YARN OF THE YELLOW MAST--CUTTING HAMMOCKS.


"Yer see," said old Bluefish, lighting his pipe, "it all happened on
board the Big Thunder. She was a splendid East Indiaman, and I was
captain onto her."

"Captain? YOU captain?" exclaimed Snollygoster. "Come now, Massa
Bluefish, dat won't do, you know. Dat am de--"

"Hold yer tongue, yer red-mouthed savage, and let me spin my yarn
without a break in the thread! Yer see," continued Bluefish, "it all
happened on board the Big Thunder. I went to bed feelin' fu'st-rate. It
was kinder calm, with a prospect of being more so 'an ever. When I wakes
up in the mornin' I was somewhat taken aback at seein' that a new post
had sprung up in the cabin durin' the night. It ran straight up through
the center of the cabin and was as yaller as a chaw of cavendish, when
it's pretty well chawed.

"Well, while I lay there, wondering at the cussed affair, the first
lieutenant, he comes roarin' down the companionway, thumpin' at my door
like mad:

"'Come in!' I sings out.

"He dropped in, accordin' to orders, lookin' like the very Old Scratch,
and inspectin' the new post of the cabin with curious eyes.

"'What's up?' says I.

"'Captain, does yer see this 'ere yaller post?" says he solemnly.

"'I does,' I replies.

"'Captain,' says he, 'this 'ere yaller post takes its root somewhere at
the keel and grows up higher than the peak of the mainmast. An' what's
more,' says he, 'it all growed up in one night.'

"'Ye'r' talkin' like a ravin', incomprehensible, idiotic fool,' says I.

"'It may seem so,' says the lieutenant, 'but come an' see for yourself.'

"This wasn't no more'n fair. So I gits into my duds, and goes on deck.
Thar, sure as yer live, this 'ere yaller post run straight up between
the mizzenmast and the tiller, reachin' about forty feet higher than the
tallest mast on board. All the crew were standin' round, gaping, and
nudging each other, and lookin' kinder skeered, when I begins to take
observations from a philosophic point of view."

"From a _what_?" interrupted Tony Trybrace. "Takin' observations, from a
phil--phil--philly--_what_?"

"Avast, you lubber, and let me spin my yarn! If yer ain't got no
edication, is it _my_ fault? If you was brought up outside o' college,
am I to blame? Avast, I tell yer.

"Well, as I was a-sayin'. I begins to look at the thing kinder sharp. So
I takes a cutlass down from the mast, and begins to cut little chips off
the yaller mast. What do yer think came out o' that 'ere yaller mast?"

"Pitch," suggested one.

"Turpentine," said another.

"Old Jamaica," suggested Old Nick.

"Not a bit of it," resumed the narrator. "Nothin' longer, nor shorter,
nor hotter, nor reddern'n BLOOD. That 'ere's what came out o' that 'ere
yaller mast. Blood, and nothin' else!

"Well, all of 'em were sort o' dumb-foundered when they see'd the blood
flowin', and some on 'em was more skeery 'n ever. But I turns to 'em,
an' says I:

"'Does yer notice how slow the ship is goin'?'

"And they says:

"'Yes, we does. She isn't makin' much o' any headway, though the breeze
are a fair capful.'

"'Well,' says I, 'and doesn't yer know the reason why?'

"'Not a bit on it,' says they.

"'_It's because ye'r' towin' a sword-fish under yer keelson_,' says I.
'He's pierced the craft in the night, an' this 'ere yaller mast ain't
nothin' short of his cussed nose.'

"Well, they were all taken aback at this, yer see, an' now began to
crowd up an' examine the thing. It was perfectly round, about two feet
through, an' the eend of it was as taperin' an' sharp as a needle. Sure
as yer live, it was all true. Well, it was a question what to do with
the thing. Most on 'em was in favor of goin' down inter the hold, and
cuttin' off the snout, in order to let the thing float; for, as it was,
if we should come anywhar whar the water was less'n fifteen fathoms, we
should be stranded by the cussed critter afoul of us.

"'Not at all,' says I. 'We don't git a good tough mast for nothin' every
day in the week, and I'm in favor of cuttin' clear of the fish on the
outside.'

"They were all kinder astonished at this 'ere, but I didn't give 'em
breathin'-time, but says again:

"'Now which one on yer'll volunteer to dive under the keel with a
handsaw and cut loose from the varmint on the outside?'

"Would yer believe it, not one on 'em wanted to go. So I says:

"'If ye'r' all so pesky skeered, why, _I'll_ go myself. Carpenter, bring
me yer handsaw, an' jist sharpen her up while I'm disrobin' my graceful
form.'

"So the carpenter brings his handsaw, with a piece of bacon-fat to
grease her with, and, when I gits ondressed, overboard I goes with the
saw between my teeth. I dove right under the keel in a jiffy, and thar,
sure enough, lays the sword-fish, with his nose hard up ag'in' the
timbers, and his body danglin' down through the brine about seventy-five
feet.

"'What are you goin' ter do?' says he.

"Says _who_?" broke in Tony.

"Yas, Massa Bluefish, who was it says dat?" demanded Snollygoster, with
an incredulous look on his ebony face.

"Why, the sword-fish, yer ignorant lubbers! Doesn't yer know that they
talk like lawyers when they git inter a scrape? I knowed a feller what
heerd one of 'em sing the Star Spangled Banner fit to kill.

"Well, as I was a-sayin', says he ter me, 'What air you goin' ter do?'

"'Ter saw yer loose from the ship,' I corresponded.

"'All right,' says he," only I'm afeard it'll hurt some.'

"'I shouldn't wonder if it do,' says I; and with that I grabs his nozzle
an' begins to saw like sixty.

"The way that poor devil hollered and snorted and flopped was a caution
to seafarin' men. The men above water swore it sounded like ninety-three
earthquakes piled on to a bu'stin' big volcano, an' I reckon it did. But
I kept on sawin' and sawin', till at last the varmint dropped off, while
the sea for 'bout ten miles round the ship became perfectly crimson with
his blood. He made a big bite at me, but I ducked about like a porpoise,
and succeeded in reachin' the deck without a scratch.

"The varmint was bent on vengeance, and made his appearance with his
mouth wide open--big enough to have swallered a seventy-four, without so
much as a toothache. But we fired a broadside of shrapnel and red-hot
shot down his throat, an' he went off, waggin' his tail as if he didn't
like it.

"Well, yer see, the blood all ran out of the yaller mast, and left it
hard and dry. So I jist had a set of spars and sails rigged on to the
thing, an' we arrove into Southampton with four masts."

Bluefish knocked the ashes out of his pipe, from which we judged that
his yarn was brought to a close.

"Am dat all true, Massa Bluefish?" asked the innocent giant of a
snollygoster.

"Every word on it," was the solemn rejoinder. "It was a thing as
occurred in my actual experience."

Singular to relate, some of us had our doubts on this subject.

It was now bedtime for those who were not on duty, and we prepared to
turn in.

I was up to seamen's tricks, and examined the stays of my hammock
carefully before getting into it. I found them firm, and was about to
turn in for a long snooze, when a crash in another corner of the
forecastle told me that _some_ one had had the trick played on him, at
least.

The dim light of the lantern revealed the state of the case. Dicky
Drake's hammock-strings had been all but severed, and he, upon turning
in, had come down on the floor with a hard head-bump.

"Who did that? Where is he? Show him to me!" exclaimed the verdant
youth, in a rage, plucking out his jack-knife and running through the
laughing crew like a wild man.

"It was a mighty mean thing!" Tony Trybrace opined, roaring with
laughter.

"Dat's so. I wonder who did it?" Snollygoster asked.

Every one else had some suggestion to make, but the doer of the deed was
not found; and Dicky Drake swallowed his fury, reslung his hammock and
turned in.

We were all tired and sleepy. I, at least, was soon in the arms of
Morpheus, dreaming of the land I had left, and of the bright eyes that
would look so long in vain for my return.



CHAPTER IV.

A PRIZE AND A JOHN BULL.

     BUTLER. Footman, why art so happy? Art going to be married?

     FOOTMAN. No, meester.

     B. Then thou art married already, and art going to be divorced?

     F. No, meester.

     B. What then?

     F. I've drawn a _prize_.

     --OLD PLAY.


I was awakened about daylight by a tramping on deck, and presently Tony
Trybrace's shrill boatswain's whistle pealed out, followed almost
immediately by his merry voice with:

"Tumble up! tumble up, you lubbers, if you care for prize-money!"

Every one heard what he said, and every one was on deck in a twinkling.

The morning was just dawning, and, far off, set against the just
brightening sky, a sail was visible. I was rather provoked at having
been summoned up from my nap, because the vessel was a good five miles
off, and, if it was to be a stern chase, a long time would elapse before
we could bring her to. Nevertheless, as I was on deck, and as my watch
would be on hand in an hour, I thought I might as well stay up and see
the thing out.

The men were all stationed, as if for battle, as was the custom of the
captain on the slightest provocation. This was certainly the safest and
wisest plan, but sailors seldom lose a chance for grumbling. Our little
captain himself, however, if he brought the men up to the mark, never
failed to toe it himself. There he was now, pacing the poop in his
merriest mood. He was always familiar with us, and now he had a smart
word for everybody.

"Take a peep through my telescope and tell me what you think of her,
Barney."

This was addressed to me, and as there was quite a compliment in the
request, I was not slow to comply. I sighted the strange craft well and
examined every inch of her as well as the imperfect light would permit.

"Well, well, well," said the captain, impatiently. "What do you make of
her?"

"She's a British brig," I replied. "She was built in London. Her name is
the Boomerang. Her captain's name is George Willis, and she's very
probably loaded with rum and sugar from Jamaica."

The captain was astounded.

"Are you crazy?" he ejaculated.

"I sincerely hope not, captain," was my smiling reply.

"How do you know what you say to be true?"

"Because I made a six months' cruise in that brig, captain, and I know
every spar and ratlin of her from the mizzen-peak to the for'ard
spankers."

"Well, if that is so, you certainly are the Son of a Sea-Cook all over
and a sailor worth promoting," said Captain Joker, laughing as he spoke.
"Clap on more sail!" he bawled. "Let out the r'yals to the full! Loosen
the jib-sheets! I'll catch the stranger if I have to scrape the sky in
doing it."

We sprung into the shrouds, and his orders were promptly executed. The
gale, which had been stiff before, also blew stronger, and we bounded
from crest to crest like a sea-bird under the influence of the fresh
canvas. But when the sun arose we were still three miles from the
stranger, who evidently had a suspicion of our character and was
cracking on all sail for escape. But we now let out our skysails and
came down on her rapidly. Our masts fairly groaned under the added
impulse. We actually seemed lifted from billow to billow, rather than to
plow through them.

At eight bells we were a mile and a half from the flying ship and fired
a shot from our swivel to bring her to. We saw the shot dance off and
kick up the spray right under her bows, but she ran up the Union Jack of
England and kept on her way. Another shot from our bow-gun had no better
effect. We, however, kept on our way, until within a mile, when we let
fly again with the swivel, this time striking the vessel in the stern,
and sending up a shower of splinters. We thought this would bring her
to. But, she was plucky, and seemed determined to show fight. Scarcely
had the boom of our Long Tom died away before a column of smoke shot out
from the stern of the merchantman, and, before we could fairly make up
our minds as to what was going to happen, the end of our bowsprit was
knocked off like a pipe-stem, as well as a big splinter gouged out of
our mainmast by a thirty-two pound shot.

"She's determined not to be taken alive," said Tony Trybrace.

"We'll see about that!" exclaimed our little captain; "just let _me_
have a shy at her with that bow gun!"

With that he jumped down from his station on the poop, sighted the
bow-gun carefully, and, just as we rose majestically on the summit of a
huge wave, let her off. The ball danced over the crests with a charming
ricochet, and we saw it strike the stranger fair and broad in the
mizzenmast, which instantly went by the board, trailing a tangled maze
of rigging and canvas into the sea.

"I thought she'd think better of it, after a little while," exclaimed
the captain, triumphantly, as we saw the ensign of the stranger lowered
in token of surrender, and, at the same time, she hove to. We came on
with a rush, and hauled to close under her bows.

"What ship is that?" bawled Captain Joker through his trumpet.

"The brig, Boomerang, of London," was the reply.

"What are you loaded with?"

"Rum and sugar."

"Just stand where you are, and consider yourself a prize. You were
right, you Son-of-a-Sea-Cook," added the captain, turning to me. "I'll
promote you as soon as I get a chance."

A boat was immediately lowered, placed in command of Pat Pickle, the
second mate, and in her a dozen sailors, I among them, pulled for the
prize. We boarded her, and she came up to our largest expectations. I
here had the satisfaction of renewing my acquaintance with my old
skipper, Captain Willis, as well as with some of the crew. They all
expressed their regret at seeing me in the character of a privateersman,
at which I was not at all put out, but recommended them to merciful
treatment, and succeeded in enlisting three of the crew, who were
Canadians, for a cruise on the Queer Fish.

There was an Englishman on board the Boomerang, who was a passenger, but
as he admitted that he was a consul to the South-American port of Rio de
Janeiro, we made a prisoner of him in short order. This worthy will bear
a brief description. He was one of the most genuine examples of the John
Bull cockney genus it had ever been my fortune to fall in with. Rather
short--about five feet and a half, I should judge--he weighed fully two
hundred pounds, was dressed in the genuine London plaid trowsers, gaiter
shoes and bell-crown hat of the time. His features were red and coarse,
and his hair as red as fire. His name was Mr. Adolphus de Courcy. His
indignation at learning that he was a prisoner was extreme, but, as the
second mate didn't look as if he could bear much bullying, the dignitary
reserved his spleen for the captain's ears.

Well, after we had supplied the Queer Fish with all the rum she would be
likely to consume in the next six months, we put a prize crew on board
the Boomerang, and started her for home, leaving her captain and crew on
board. We brought off Mr. Adolphus de Courcy, determining to keep him
until we should fall in with some American cruiser to whose safe-keeping
we could transfer him. It took several hours to complete all these
arrangements, but they were completed at last, and we rowed back to the
Queer Fish, leaving the prize crew behind us, and, shortly afterward,
the two vessels parted company.

As soon as we were on our own deck once more, Mr. Adolphus de Courcy
strode up to our little captain with a majestic air.

"'Ave I the honor to haddress the captain of this piratical craft?" he
asked in a most grandiloquent way.

"My name is Captain Joker, and this ship, which I have the honor and
good fortune to command, is the Queer Fish, a regular letter-of-marque,
commissioned by the United States Government."

"Wery vell, all I 'ave to say is, as 'ow I consider this transaction a
wery houtrageous haffair; and I demand hinstant release from your
villainous ship."

By this time the Boomerang was a mile or two away, and I saw a merry
gleam in the little eyes of Captain Joker, which was premonitory of some
fun.

"How can I release you now, sir?" said he, with an air of some concern.

"No matter 'ow, sir, I demand hinstant release from this willainous
wessel," exclaimed the cockney, thinking that he had succeeded in
browbeating the captain, and that he should now have it all his own way.

"I understand you to mean what you say?" asked the captain.

"Hexactly!" was the lofty reply. "I demand a hinstantaneous deliverance
from this wile captivity! I demand it as a peaceable citizen of hold
Hingland, whose broad hægis is powerful alike hon the land hand hon the
briny deep."

"All right, sir, you shall have your wish: only be careful that you do
not change your mind, as it will be of no use. Trybrace!" added Captain
Joker, singing out to the boatswain: "have that ar little gig
provisioned for two days, put in this little man's luggage, then put
_him_ in, and cut him loose. He wants to leave the Queer Fish."

"Ay, ay, sir," sung out Tony, cheery as a cricket; and he immediately
set about giving the necessary directions.

"I wish you a good-morning, sir," and, with this Captain Joker bowed
courteously to the cockney, and retired to the precincts.

Mr. Adolphus de Courcy appeared at first unable to comprehend what was
to be done with him; but, when the truth dawned that he really was to be
turned adrift, he seemed perfectly stunned.

"Vill you 'ave the kindness to hexplain this 'ere little harrangement?"
he said, going up to Tony, who was busily superintending the outfit of
the little boat.

"Ain't got no time, sir. The captain's orders were positive, and he
ain't in the habit of repeating them. Clew up that gearing at the bows,
you lubbers. And caulk up that 'ere seam in the labbard side. Do you
suppose the gentleman wants ter go to Davy Jones's Locker afore he gits
well started on his way? Put in the water and the sea-biscuit. Now for
the gentleman's luggage. All right! Lower her!"

The arrangements were all completed, and the little craft was lowered
from the davits over the stern. She was so small, and her cargo was so
great, that she settled down almost to the gunwales, and it was
questionable how long she would float after the bulky form of the
cockney should have occupied the small amount of room left vacant for
him at the stern.

We all preserved a solemn silence. The wretched Englander kept
flattering himself that it was a good joke until the final preparations
left no room for a doubt.

"All ready, sir," said Tony, touching his hat respectfully. "Will yer
Honor be pleased to step inter yer Honor's craft?"

"Ha! ha! a wery good joke hindeed!" exclaimed the cockney, with a forced
laugh. "A wery good joke! 'Ave you got out a patent for it? I should
like to 'ave it, to hintroduce into hold Hingland."

"It's no joke at all, yer Honor," said Tony, as sober as a judge. "Will
yer Honor condescend to make haste? We cain't stand in the middle of the
ocean in this way, while there's so much prize-money lyin' about loose."

"My wery good friend," said De Courcy, taking the boatswain
affectionately by the hand, "'ave you the serious intention of perwiding
a fellow 'uman being with such han houtfit, and consigning him to the
mercy of the wast and 'eaving hocean?"

"Them's the orders, sir."

"I then demand to see the captain of this willainous craft
hinstantaneously."

"All right, sir. Dicky Drake, jist tell the skipper as how the gentleman
wants to bid him good-by."

The message was sent, and Captain Joker made his appearance almost
immediately. His face was beaming with cordial farewells as he advanced
with outstretched hand toward the dumfounded De Courcy.

"Good-by! good-by, my dear fellow, and a prosperous voyage!" he
exclaimed, shaking him warmly by the hand.

"Captain, I vant to know as 'ow--"

"No thanks! no thanks! my dear sir: I make you a present of the boat.
There, there, good-by!" and the captain, in the zeal of his farewell,
almost thrust the poor fellow over the bulwarks.

"But," persisted the latter, "I vant to know as 'ow--"

"I tell you I will not hear any thanks at all! There, there, farewell!"

The crew now crowded forward, with similar well-wishes, and the
unfortunate cockney was fairly hustled over the ship's side into the
frail gig, which was almost swamped by his weight.

"There are the oars, sir," sung out the captain. "I hope you will find
them easy to your hands. Farewell! _Bon voyage!_ Cut her loose, lads!"

The order was executed at once, and the boat, with its occupant, drifted
off. At the same moment we let out our main sheet and continued on our
course. We looked back over the stern, and saw the little boat going up
and down, in and out of the troughs of the great swells, with its
occupant sitting in the stern, looking the very picture of despair.

You needn't suppose that Captain Joker was cruel enough to leave the
cockney in this predicament. He merely wanted to learn him a lesson in
good manners. And, just as the gig and its occupant were almost cut of
sight, we rounded to and bore down for her, tacking against the strong
breeze. To show you the captain's kindness of heart, just as we were
preparing to round to, a sail was signaled on our starboard bow. Ten
chances to one it was another prize, and the temptations to keep on our
course were exceedingly strong in us all, especially in the skipper, who
was as fond of prize-money as any man I ever saw. Nevertheless, he
ordered us to round to and bear up for the gig. The mean old dog of a
first mate undertook to argue him into leaving the Englishman to his
fate, when he was met with a stern rebuke.

"Mr. Saunders," (that was the name of the first mate) said he, "if you
have nothing but such heartless cruelty to urge, I will beg you to defer
your suggestions to a more fitting occasion. I am compelled to say, sir,
that your heartlessness-not to say avarice--is astonishing, sir,
astonishing!"

But the merry captain could not remain long in a bad humor, even with
such a flinty-minded old Sawney as Saunders. When we had got pretty
close to the gig, the forlorn, disconsolate aspect of Adolphus de Courcy
was too much for a mirth loving nature to endure with solemnity, and
Joker burst into laughter, as did the entire ship's company, who were
all congregated forward, looking over the bows.

At a look from the captain, Tony Trybrace sung out:

"Would your Honor like to come aboard?"

A motion of the Britisher's head signified his assent to the
proposition, and, with great difficulty, owing to the roughness of the
running sea, we grappled the boat, and hoisted the entire compoodle, bag
and baggage, to the deck of the Queer Fish.

The cockney had long ago resigned himself to despair, and when he found
himself safe and dry at last, the revulsion was too great, and he burst
into tears.

Captain Joker went up and took him by the hand, kindly.

"My dear fellow," said he, "I had no intention of cutting you adrift
more than temporarily. It seemed to me that the tone which you assumed
to me, on board my ship, was so very extraordinary for a prisoner to
address his captor with, that a little lesson of this kind would not be
bestowed in vain. Trust me, my dear sir, if I have caused you any pain,
you compelled me to do so, and I'm sorry for it. As long as you remain
upon my ship, pray consider my cabin your own. I would treat you as a
guest rather than as a prisoner. Pray dine with me to-day. And dinner is
almost on the table."

This magnanimity almost crushed the poor prisoner. He dried his tears,
and said in a much manlier voice than heretofore, as he grasped the hand
of his generous foe:

"Captain, you 'ave the goodness to treat me like ha gentleman. This 'ere
is returning good for evil vith a wengeance, hand I beg to hacknowledge
that I ham halmost crushed by your noble hand belated sentiments."

With that, they went down into the cabin together, and, from the way we
heard the corks popping, they must have had a jolly time.

The lesson was not lost upon the cockney. His tone to everybody was
thereafter greatly improved. He remained for some time with us, and,
though we were frequently amused at his vanity and his antipathy to the
letter H, we found him, in the main, a pretty good fellow.



CHAPTER V.

ANOTHER PRIZE--FISHING FOR SHARKS.


It was on the third morning following the event narrated in our last
chapter that we fell in with another--our second prize. She was a noble
East Indiaman, a ship that could almost have picked up our saucy little
privateer, and carried her at her stern like a yawl, had it not been for
the difference of the cannon we carried. But, of course, that made all
the difference in the world.

She was loaded with silks, spices and preserved fruits, and was
immensely valuable. We had a brisk chase after her, but brought her to
in an hour by a shot from our irresistible amidships gun. A large number
of passengers were on board, which made a disposal of her somewhat
uncomfortable. We had to deplete our ship's company again by putting a
prize-crew on board. But we, here again, had some consolation in this,
inasmuch as we received several recruits from the crew of the prize.

We had struck a bee-line southward some days before, and were now
approaching the equator--the days not growing much cooler in
consequence. One day, when we had got becalmed, the whole ship's company
(almost) went in bathing, and a thrilling incident was the result.

The captain, always glad to make the men happy, had caused the mainsail
to be slung over the side, with either end upheld by the overhanging
yards, the belly of the canvas making a long dip in the brine, thus
making a delightful shallow for the more timid swimmers to exercise
their talents in, while bolder spirits might strike out to any distance
they pleased. A great peril was involved in this operation of mid-sea
tropical bathing, on account of the sharks, which are always more or
less numerous in the wake of a ship.

Well, we all had an excellent time in the water, and were not in a hurry
to come out. The captain had got tired of laughing at us, and had gone
below for a siesta.

Old Snollygoster, after having got through with his ablutions, was
lazily watching us from the rail of the ship. He was probably as able a
swimmer as ever lived. He now amused us with sundry suggestions and
cautions with regard to sharks, warning us not to go too far from the
ship, and solemnly averring that _his_ assistance need not be counted
on, in event we were attacked. Several of us had swum to a considerable
distance from the vessel, when suddenly some one sung out:

"Sharks! sharks!"

I thought it was a joke at first, but upon turning and casting a look
seaward, I, sure enough, discovered several of the ominous black fins
cutting water toward us.

I gave the alarm and struck out for the ship, with the strength of
forlorn hope, followed by all the rest. To experience the horrible
sensations of such a situation is an event which no after events,
however stirring, can ever obliterate. It is horrible! horrible! That is
all I can say. Every instant you expect to hear the snap of the ravenous
jaws in your rear, and the next to feel them on your limbs. I think I
never in my life swam so swiftly as upon that occasion. The ship was not
distant--only a few rods, but it seemed a league to our excited
imaginations. At length, however, with a wild cry of relief, I felt the
canvas of the outstretched sail under me, and, clambering quickly up the
side, was safe on the bulwarks. My comrades followed right at my heels,
and the next moment I had the satisfaction of seeing them safe at my
side. _All_ of them? No, not all. A feeble cry behind apprised us that
one was less fortunate than the rest. It was Dicky Drake. He had
succeeded in almost reaching the sail, and was now all but surrounded by
the infernal, swiftly-moving black fins of the monsters, who were
actually pushing him about with their muzzles. They evidently thought
that they had a sure thing, and might as well have a little sport with
their morsel before devouring it. The poor fellow floated on the waves,
paralyzed with horror and fright, unable to move hand or foot for his
own salvation. It is very probable that this circumstance helped to save
his life.

We were all so horrified at the spectacle that we were powerless to
render any assistance, even if it were possible.

"Avast there, you lubbers!" said a clear, rough voice behind us.

Upon looking back we saw that it was the giant negro, Snollygoster, who
spoke. Unbeknown to us, he had stripped himself, and now stood naked,
with a long clasp-knife, open, and between his teeth. With one bound he
was in the shallow of the sail below, and, with another, he grasped poor
Dicky Drake by the hair of the head and drew him in, and we let down a
rope and had the satisfaction of drawing the poor devil, more dead than
alive, to the deck.

But the matter did not end here. Right in the midst of the sharks sprung
the heroic Snollygoster. He dove out of sight. In an instant the water
became suffused with blood.

"By Jove! they've nabbed him!" exclaimed old Bluefish, excitedly.

But they hadn't done anything of the kind. The next instant the woolly
head of the negro made its appearance above the surface. It was shark's
blood that was dyeing the water. Again the darky disappeared, and the
water grew redder and redder, as another of the monsters floated, belly
up, with a terrific gash in his paunch. The negro seemed to be as much
at home in the sea as the fish themselves. It was a terrific combat, but
one of intense interest. In vain would the monsters roll over on their
backs and snap at their inexorable foe, or attempt to cut him in two
with a sweep of their tremendous flukes. He was away again as quick as
he came, attacking them from under the surface. In this he now had an
advantage, as the water was so bloody that the fish could not see the
blows by which they were being momentarily stricken to death, by the
terrible right arm of heroic negro. At length, five of them were
floating, dead or dying, on the surface, and the rest of them, with one
exception, beat a retreat and did not venture within several rods. But
the grand combat was yet to come. The one shark that lingered was by far
the biggest of the group. I think he was, without doubt, the largest of
the species I have ever seen, and I have seen plenty to choose from. He
was thirty-five feet in length, if an inch, and when he opened his jaws
the cavity Within was a terrible affair, with its double rows of tusks.

He seemed determined to take upon himself the championship of the whole
family and advanced warily upon the negro, who did not flinch for a
single instant. At length and as quick as lightning the monster leaped
entirely clear of the sea and brought around his tail like the sweep of
a scythe. The darky was out of reach just in time. As it was, the ragged
edge of the animal's fluke just grazed his temple, drawing the blood.
But before the unwieldy monster could recover himself for a renewal of
the attack the knife of the negro was buried in his side. The wound was
not mortal, but it must have been a painful one, to judge by the way the
brute lashed the sea in his fury. It, however, served to render him more
wary than before. He now began to swim round and round his foe in the
hope of wearying him. But the negro stood bolt upright in the water,
treading it with perfect ease, and ever keeping his face to the shark.

At length the latter, losing patience, charged, hoping to tear down
Snolly with his snout. But quick as a wink, just as the animal was upon
him, the negro disappeared, and the great effusion of blood that
instantly followed made us aware that he had received his death-blow
from beneath.

I shall never forget the shout with which we greeted the invincible
Snollygoster as his woolly head appeared above the blood-dyed waters,
while the conquered monster drifted off from the side of the ship,
lashing the sea feebly with his tail, but fast expiring. Snolly slowly
came out of the water and up the ship's side.

The captain, who had witnessed the last combat, shook him warmly by the
hand when he reached the deck, while we all gathered around him with
rousing cheers. Little Dicky Drake caught him by the hand and fairly
sobbed. I must say that I had a strong impulse to catch the great negro
in my arms and hug him for very joy. But Snolly rapidly replaced his
clothes, with the simple remark:

"Dis nigga nebber see'd de fish he was afeard of."

You may think that this is quite sufficient for one fish story, but it
isn't. We weren't done with the sharks yet. As the blood faded out of
the water the school of sharks again clustered about the ship, and the
captain determined to afford the men greater sport by catching one, if
possible.

"'Ow will you do it?" exclaimed our prisoner. "'Ow will you 'ook one
when you 'aven't any _worms_ to bait with?"

"Ha! ha! ha!" laughed the captain. "It's true we haven't any fishing
worms, nor grasshoppers, for that matter. But you have been complaining
of the mosquitoes all day, my dear sir, and why not use them? However,
we might as well try 'em first with a little bacon. So Pickle, just
order some one to fetch up the carcass of that pig that died last
night."

The bait was duly brought up on deck, much to the astonishment of the
Britisher.

In the mean time Tony Trybrace proceeded to rig up the necessary tackle.
Upon the end of a rope about an inch and a half in thickness he
fastened a large boat-hook. We then slung the rope through a block and
made the latter fast to the jibboom. We thus had a first-rate purchase
wherewith to fetch up anything short of a few tons' weight. Having made
all ready, we hooked on the bait, and with a dozen stout seamen holding
on to the other end, to be ready for any emergency, we lowered her
slowly down. The stench of the putrid meat had already set the sharks
wild for first bite, but as we wanted to take our choice and capture one
of fair size, whenever a little fellow would jump at the bait we would
quickly haul up and let his jaws gnash together with nothing between
them.

At last, however, one rousing big fellow, who had evidently scented the
battle from afar, came rushing up at railroad speed, pushing his
voracious way through his smaller fellows. The bait was suspended fully
six feet from the surface of the sea, but with a flying leap he took the
whole hog at a swallow, and was hooked, of course. His weight drew the
line down into the sea with a tremendous splash, almost jerking one or
two of us overboard. But the next instant we were ready for him, and
began to haul in with a will and a "yo-heave-ho!"

The old fellow didn't like it, but come he must, and, in spite of
himself, he began to rise clear of the water. He then endeavored to bite
off the rope, but Tony had been too sharp for him there, by twining the
line, for three or four feet above the hook, with stout wire, so that
the teeth of the monster gritted but harmlessly against the tough rope
by which he was held.

Slowly but surely we drew him up until we got him taut up against the
tackle-block, when another squad of sailors threw out some grapnels to
haul him on deck, tail-foremost. The other men stood by, armed with
cutlasses, hatchets and boarding-pikes.

"Now, be ready to pull him in when I give the word," sung out the
captain, who was dancing about, the merriest man on the ship. "And be
sure you keep out of reach of his flukes, or your mothers will forget
you before they see you."

"'Eave 'im hin! 'eave 'im hin!" cried Adolphus de Courcy, who was
impatient to try the efficacy of a sword-cane, which he held in his
hand.

"Now, lads, haul away!" ordered the captain.

Slowly we brought him in, lowering him by the head as the other squad
dragged in the tail. At last the monster was fairly on deck, when, at a
signal from the captain, the men at the tail released the grip of their
grapnels, while we simultaneously cut the line at his head. You had
better believe we sprung out of reach lively, as soon as we had done
this. And with reason; for the shark began to flounder at a most
terrific rate, and if any one had happened within the reach of his
flukes, he would have been a goner.

One laughable incident occurred.

The cockney was either not spry enough in getting out of the way, or he
was too intent to get in a shy with his sword-cane; at any rate he
caught a side wipe from the flat of one of the flukes, which sent him
head over heels into the bow-scuppers.

"W'y, 'ow did that 'appen?" exclaimed the poor fellow, picking himself
up, amid a storm of applause. "You see, I just vanted to get von vipe at
the willain vith my walliant blade, when down I goes vithout knowing
v'ere I vas hit."

It is astonishing how high a shark can leap from the water, but to see
one of them bounce up when he has got solid oak beneath him as a
purchase, is worth a long voyage. This shark would leap up
perpendicularly fully thirty feet in the air, and come down with a crash
that would make the vessel tremble to her keel. The blood poured from
his mouth from the severe contusions he had received, but he seemed to
lose nothing of vitality; until, at length, when we had enjoyed his
gymnastics sufficiently, the captain made a sign to commence the
assault.

The sailor regards the shark as his natural enemy, and never misses a
chance to slay or maim him. So, as soon as the signal was received, we
all began to dance about our victim, to get in a blow, which was
anything but an easy matter, and, at the same time, avoid the sweep of
his flukes, or the snap of his awful jaws.

"First blood!" yelled the cockney, with enthusiasm, as he succeeded in
inflicting a slight scratch from which a few drops of blood oozed out.

"Do yer call _that_ blood?" exclaimed old Bluefish contemptuously, as he
danced in and fetched the shark a deep gash with his tomahawk, and this
time the fountain of life began to flow in earnest.

Then the captain got in a blow, with his cutlass, between the eyes, and
almost at the same time I ran my sharp pike clear through the black fin
on the shark's back.

The struggles grew sensibly more feeble as the wounds told upon him,
until at length the shark lay almost motionless. You may be sure that
all hands, even down to Dicky Drake, were as brave as lions when
injuries could be inflicted without danger to themselves.

Everybody now rushed, and a general thrusting, slashing and hacking took
place until there was nothing left of the shark but a bloody and
shapeless mass.

Every one then fell off exhausted, except Adolphus de Courcy, who
enjoyed the fun so much that he couldn't be prevailed upon to stop.

"Just let me 'ave von more vipe at the willain!" he exclaimed, stabbing
the lifeless mass again and again, until forced at last to desist by the
laughter which his ferocity called forth.

Well, the fun was all over, and the next thing to do was to heave the
carcass overboard, and to wash the decks, the last of which was
performed in a vein somewhat less merry than before. But the captain
made quite a holiday of it, gave us plenty of grog, and there was as
little grumbling on board the Queer Fish that day as you would be likely
to fall in with in a year's voyage.



CHAPTER VI.

CROSSING THE LINE.


The greatest holiday at sea is that of crossing the Equator. It is rare
fun to the initiated, but to those who have the process in prospect it
is a cause of sleepless nights and considerable mental anguish.

The time drew rapidly on for the celebration of this holiday on board
the Queer Fish. We were busy making preparations for it, a long time
beforehand. Almost every one was in excellent humor. Our cruise had,
thus far, been eminently successful. We had captured upward of twelve
vessels since our departure from Boston--a period of not more than two
months. The prospect was that, if we should bring the cruise to a
successful conclusion, we would each and all have something snug laid up
at home, with ease and comfort the balance of our lives. So we were in a
most excellent frame of mind for the merry-making that drew nigh.

Stop! There were a few exceptions. If any of you had been on the Queer
Fish for a day or two prior to the passage of the equinox, you would
have noticed, I think, a certain fidgetyness in the manner of both Dicky
Drake and Mr. Adolphus de Courcy, in strange contrast to the general
cheerfulness of every one else. The latter of these individuals, it is
true, would pretend to be exceedingly careless and free-and-easy. He
would be heard to hum the scraps of a great many little melodies and to
whistle scraps of a great many more, but you would notice, upon close
observation, that it was all put on, and that he was in reality faint at
heart.

Poor Dicky Drake hadn't the duplicity necessary for any such
make-believe as this. He began to look miserable from the very moment
that it became known that the equinox was to be passed, and continued to
grow worse from day to day, until the despondency of the poor lad was
positively pitiful, and I secretly promised myself to exert my influence
to render _his_ share of the initiation as light as possible.

There had existed some controversy as to whether Roddy Prinn and his
little chum, Willie Warner, were not also "liable." But they had
succeeded in proving to the satisfaction of Captain Joker, that they had
made the passage from Rio to the Bermudas, and it had eventually been
decided that they were exempt.

There were several others of the crew, who were prospective victims. But
they were genuine sailors, who really took the thing philosophically.
One of them, a little Irishman, by the name of Teddy Tight, swore that
he longed for the day to arrive, and that he didn't sleep "aisy" for
thinking of the fun in store for him.

The preparations we had been and were making, were somewhat extensive.
Everything was prepared beforehand, and we had several rehearsals. Old
Nick was to represent Neptune, and, from the description I have given of
him, you may judge that he suited the character to a T. Bluefish was
chosen for Amphitrite, the wife of the Ruler of the Waves, and, though
he had an unladylike habit of hitching up his skirts whenever he wanted
to use his jack-knife, it was thought that he would go off very
creditably. I was one of the Tritons, whose principal duty, on the
occasion, was to assist at the initiation of neophytes, while Tony
Trybrace, Roddy Prinn and Willie Warner were among the Nereids, who sung
the mystic songs of the ceremony. I can't vouch for the poetic merit of
these musical attempts. One of them was:


     "We come from the depths of the ocean
       Where Neptune is the king.
     And the waves, with their commotion,
       Keep time with what we sing.

     "Huzza for the flag of the Union,
       The Stars and the Stripes of the free
     Our flag is the flag of the ocean,
       Huzza for the flag of the free!"


I cannot say who was the author of these stanzas, but am compelled to
admit that I should keep exceedingly dark on the subject, if _I_ were
the author.

Another fragment (even worse than that already quoted) ran:


     "Father Neptune, he is jolly,
       Drink, lads, drink away!
     Father Nep. hates melancholy,
       Joy reigns at the bottom of the _say_.

     "Drink, lads, drink, for Union,
       The old flag must have sway,
     Father Nep. hates communion,
       Down at the bottom of the say."


I reckon the author of these must have been an Irishman; at any rate, no
one can question him as a poet.

Well, the day at length arrived.

According to rules, the novices were kept in strict confinement, till
the performance was ready to commence. The little captain stood looking
on, impatiently waiting for the opening ceremonies.

At eight bells, all was ready. Neptune was in his throne, with a beard
as blue as the sea, and with a great crown of shells and sea-weed strung
round his brows. He had a conch-shell for a breast-pin, and each of his
shoes, or, rather, slippers, were surmounted with a large,
brilliant-hued bivalve.

Amphitrite sat by his side, with her flowing locks--constructed of
oakum--spangled with many varieties of weeds and shells and her long
beard (think of a sea queen with a beard!) daintily braided and plaited
into grotesque ringlets, while her long, blue paper-muslin robe was
intended to have a resemblance to the sea she ruled. The Nereids were
grouped around, looking excessively feminine and bewitching (to a
sailor), with their long hair, and sea-green garments; while we merry
Tritons were rigged in a little more convenient costume, as our work was
to be heavy; but, rely on it, we looked hideous enough.

As the ship's bells struck eight, three of us, at a signal from the
Ruler of the Waves, dove down below, and appeared, a moment afterward,
with Dicky Drake, our first victim.

The poor fellow was almost scared to death. He eyed the various
contrivances, which had been prepared for his benefit, and shuddered
from his cap to his boots.

"Bring forth the culprit!" roared Father Neptune, in a voice of thunder;
and we led the trembling victim before the throne.

"What is his crime?" was the lofty question of the ocean king.

"I ain't done nothin', yer Honor," began Dicky, thinking he might get
off by an eloquent appeal. "Yer see, I was brought up in Salem, I was--a
place as has furnished a great many sailors for yer Majesty's dominions.
It's true I never crossed the line, yer know, but yer see, I almost did
it onc't. It all as happened in this 'ere way. Ole Si Jinkins and I, we
started out on a mackerel fishin' an' got driv' away down south, almost
onto the equator, when a sou'east storm springs up, and sends us back a
joe-kiting. Well, as I was about ter say--"

"Peace!" roared Neptune in a voice of thunder.

"Yes, your Majesty, but yer see--"

"Peace!"

"Oh, yes! Wery good! but, as I was about ter say, the--"

"Peace, or I'll kick yer inter Davy Jones's locker!" was the dignified
interruption, and Dicky stopped short.

"Lead the prisoner to the plank!" was the final order of Neptune.

Visions of "walking the plank" immediately rose up before the wretched
youth, and he began to appeal in heartrending accents.

"But I didn't go an' do nothin', yer know. I was allers exceedingly
respectful and perlite. Onc't on a time, I see'd a feller spit inter the
sea, an' I remonstrated with indignation, because I thought yer Honor
might be averse to tobacco. Yer see--"

"Silence! Lead him to the plank and shave him!" roared the implacable
sea-god, and we led him away.

A great tank of water was situated right in front of the throne, and
between the fore and mainmasts of the ship. Over this was drawn a light
plank of pine. And the tank, we might as well mention now as any time,
was filled with salt water.

Upon this plank we seated our victim, and began to lather him with
soft-soap, without paying any regard to his sight. He gave a wild shriek
as the suds went into his eyes (but he had had fair warning from me to
keep them shut). Then, as my comrade held him fast, I proceeded to
scrape his face with the piece of an iron hoop, which I had picked up
and somewhat sharpened for the purpose. I laid it on as lightly as I
could, but, nevertheless, the performance was so ridiculously painful
that the poor fellow yelled again with agony. For the sharp but gritty
edge of the saw-like razor would grab the few hairs he had on the chin,
and would pull outrageously.

At length the barbering performance was over, and poor Dicky thought
that he had got through the whole passage of the equinox.

But, no sooner was he shaved than the plank was suddenly jerked from
under him, and down he went into the cold sea-water, where he floundered
about fully a dozen seconds before he could scramble out.

He was next submitted to the tumbling apparatus. This was nothing more
nor less than the mizzen-royal in the hands of a dozen men or so, two or
three grabbing each corner, while the victim was tossed into the middle,
where he was flung up and down, now and then letting him down far enough
to give him a good bump against the deck. We finished him up with a
keel-haul. There are two ways of doing this. The old way consisted in
making the victim fast by either ankle, and then flinging him overboard
at the bow, dragging him under the keel, with a rope on either side of
the ship. But this was never resorted to as pastime; in fact, it was
considered the worst of nautical punishments. Victims frequently died
under its infliction. If anything of that kind had been tried under the
Queer Fish, the sufferer would most certainly have had a hard time of
it. For our bottom was completely covered with that small variety of the
carbuncle shell-fish, known to seamen as ship-lice, and any one being
dragged against them, would have been terribly lacerated.

But, of course, nothing of _that_ kind was to be attempted upon such a
merry and good-humored craft as the Queer Fish. _Our_ keel-hauling
simply consisted in making the victim fast by the ankles, and shooting
him out far behind in the wake of the vessel (always making sure that
there were no sharks in the neighborhood), and whisking him back again
before he could well know how wet he was.

Poor Dicky Drake had stood everything else like a man, but his soul
instinctively revolted from keel-hauling--though, to tell the truth, it
was by far the easiest punishment inflicted in our category.

We made fast to his ankles, and swung him over the side, in spite of his
entreaties. The ship was going at a spanking pace--a good eight knots an
hour--as Dicky touched the water at her foaming wake. We let out lively
on the lines, and away he sped, a good fifteen fathoms, from the ship.
He squealed like a stuck pig as he hit the water, but we brought him
back so quick that his head swam.

We then led him up to the throne of Father Neptune, who stretched his
withered hands over his head, blessed him, and proclaimed him a true son
of the sea--made so by his last baptism therein. The victim was then
permitted to dress himself, was given a rousing glass of grog, and in a
few moments felt as merry as a king, quite anxious to laugh at the next
victim. They followed, one after another, amid roars of laughter. Most
of them were old tars, who took the thing as an excellent joke, and we
therefore made little out of them.

At last there were only two victims left. These were Teddy Tight and Mr.
Adolphus de Courcy. The latter was reserved as the last, because we
expected to have the most fun out of him; end the former was kept as
next to last, because we half suspected that his eager anticipation of
the fun that was in store for him was all gammon, and merely put on to
cloak his terror.

In fact it was the testimony of each of his predecessors in the
"ceremonies" that, as his turn came nearer and nearer, Teddy's courage
began to sink until, at last, it was at zero. When we led the doughty
little Irishman on deck, he was as pale as a ghost, and shook like a
leaf.

On being led before the august presence of Father Neptune, however, his
native blarney began to overflow, and excuse after excuse began to be
poured out in a profusion which would have been limitless, if we had not
cut him short.

"Och, yer Honor!" he cried, "w'at has yer Honor got ag'in' sich a poor
little spalpeen as meself? Sure, an' hav'n't I sarved yer Honor well, by
land and by say? Let me off this time, and I'll sarve ye better than
iver. Och, yer Honor, ye must surely remimber me father. He was owld
Barney Tight of Killarney. The way he would lick any one who would dare
to say onything ag'in' yer Honor's character was a caution to the
woorld. An' there was me uncle. Och, an' he was an ixcellent mon, yer
Honor. I see'd him onc't knock the top-lights out of a murtherin'
spalpeen who was afther injurin' yer Honor's reputation. An' there was
my sister--God rest her sowl!--you should 'a' see'd her when she--"

"Silence!" was the gruff reply of the ruler of the waves; and Teddy,
though he kicked and squirmed like an ugly worm on a bodkin, was put
through the necessary course of sprouts in short order, but with a will.

Then Mr. Adolphus de Courcy was led up amid peals of laughter. He had
had the philosophy to strip himself, with the exception of a pair of old
pantaloons, and now appeared on deck with an air of offended dignity,
which made him ridiculous in his present attire.

"What is yer crime?" was the gruff question of Neptune.

Adolphus eyed the venerable figure of the ruler of the waves with a
lofty air of scorn, and did not, at first, deign to reply.

"Yer crime?" bawled the king, seizing his scepter with a menacing
gesture.

"May hit please your hill-favored 'Ighness, has I hain't got hanything
of that kind habout my person, I hain't hable to produce hany."

"You'r' accused of striving to usurp our throne," exclaimed old Neptune,
wrathfully.

"_W'ot!_" exclaimed the astonished cockney, with his breath almost taken
away by the novelty of the charge. "I--I husurp your throne! My dear
hold fellow, I vouldn't 'ave it for ha gift."

"Ha! do yer insult us? Executioners, do your duty!" roared the indignant
monarch.

"Now, 'old hon, hexecutioners," argued the cockney, remonstrating, "let
me warn you not to go han' do hanything so wery rash. Do you 'appen to
know 'oo I ham?"

"Yes, you're the grandson of--the Lord Knows Who," said Father Nep.

"Bless me, now, and 'ow did you know that my grandfather was a lord?
That's wery astonishing, I declare. Wery well, you see I'm considerably
different from halmost all of you fellows, hinhasmuch has I was brought
hup a gentleman, hand was born hin dear hold Hingland, the Hempress of
the Hocean. Now, certainly, your Hexcellency won't be so unfortunately
rash has to hoffend the Hempress of the Hocean by hany hundue
hinterference with one of her favorite sons, while hin the pursuit of
'is peaceful havocation."

The Britisher argued this in his most solemn and impressive style, and
looked, when he was through, as if he thought the argument to be
conclusive. But he roused a new enemy in an unexpected quarter. Scarcely
had he finished his harangue, before Amphitrite (_née_ Bluefish) sprung
from her throne, with a wild yell, and caught him by the hair.

"Who dares to style any other than me the hempress of the briny deep?"
she shrieked in his ear. "Ha! villain, thou art convicted out of thine
own mouth. Usurper, thy time's come! Tritons, do your work!"

"But I protest! I demand ha hinstantaneous release has a Hinglishman on
the 'igh seas! Captain, I happeal to you! This houtrage to Hinglishmen
will be hawfully havenged! I protest--I--"

But he was now on the plank, undergoing the operation of shaving, and
his open mouth received the great brush of lather full between his
teeth, almost choking him, and completely gagging him for some time to
come. Then the plank was whipped from under him, and down he went with
an awful splash into the tub, protesting, amid the shouts of laughter,
something about his being "a chosen son of hold Hingland."

We tossed him in the sail with the jolliest vehemence, but, when the
ropes were being adjusted for the final part of the programme, that of
keel-hauling, he begged off piteously.

"Captain, I shall drown, I know I shall," he pleaded, turning with an
imploring gesture, to Captain Joker, who was enjoying the thing
amazingly. "Captain, I 'ave a natural hantipathy to hanything but 'ot
water. A bath hin my present state of perspiration will be the certain
death of me, I know hit will. Now, please, captain, for the sake of hour
hold and hardent friendship--for the sake--"

But the captain was implacable, and the cockney, though struggling
violently, was swung over the taffrail. He was truly in a melting mood.
The day was hot enough, as you may judge by the latitude we were in, and
the course of sprouts through which we had been rushing our English
victim, had made the sweat come from every pore of his skin. The
revulsion, therefore, as his body hit the coolness of the rushing ocean
stream, must have been very great. As it was, he gave an awful scream,
and floundered like a stranded shark. Away he went, far out from the
stern in the swift wake of the gliding ship. When we drew him in and
landed him safe and sound, once more on deck, he was so overjoyed at his
rescue, that he pretended to have liked his bath.

"Do you know, I henjoyed hit himmensely," he exclaimed.

And when he was dressed, with a good, stiff glass of grog in his hold,
he really was one of the merriest men on the ship.

Well, that ended the ceremonies, but the holiday was not over by any
means. We had an extraordinary dinner, and, after the sun had set and
the bright tropic moon had risen, Snollygoster brought out his violin,
and we had a glorious dance. Grog was freely distributed, and I am
afraid there were a good many heads that felt abnormally large next
morning.



CHAPTER VII.

FUN ON SHORE.


In the latter part of the month of July, we succeeded in making a safe
entrance into the neutral port of Rio de Janeiro, after having captured
several more valuable prizes, and bringing two or three along with us.
There was a British man-o'-war, the Atalanta, in this port, when we
entered. She could have blown us out of water by one broadside of her
great guns, but, nevertheless, she respected the neutrality of the port,
and did not dare to molest us.

It may seem strange, from the manner in which Adolphus de Courcy had
been treated on board the Queer Fish, that he should regret leaving us.
But it is, nevertheless, a fact. When his freedom was given him, he
assembled the entire crew around him, thanked them for the jolly time
they had afforded him, and shook the captain warmly by the hand. He was
really an excellent-hearted fellow, and we gave him three hearty cheers
as he went over the ship's side to the boat which was to convey him and
his luggage to the British ship before-mentioned. And his sincerity was
not of a transient kind; for we afterward learned that he spoke well of
us to the officers of the Atalanta.

Going on shore, after a long voyage, is the sailor's paradise. I reckon
some of those old streets of Rio were glad enough when we disappeared;
for a noisier, wilder, more devil-may-care set of tars never raised a
rumpus in a seaport town than did we in Rio. We were allowed to go on
shore in squads alternately; and as many of the British sailors were
also, more or less, in the town, we had several collisions of a very
serious character, though the disturbances were usually speedily quelled
by the authorities.

The first disturbance of this kind that I was in happened a few days
after we entered the port. A large squad of us--perhaps twenty--had gone
on shore, but Tony Trybrace and I had somehow got separated from our
companions. We were both of us somewhat in liquor, and had a
hankering--a usual one under the circumstances--to have something more
to drink. So we entered a queer sort of Spanish gin-shop, and, not
understanding the lingo very fluently, proceeded to help ourselves--of
course with the intention of paying our way.

In the course of this proceeding, Tony was rudely thrust back from the
counter by the proprietor of the place, a wiry Brazilian, and, at the
same time, admonished by a torrent of invectives in the unknown lingo.

It is poor policy to treat a drunken man rudely, unless you are a
policeman. A sailor, especially, will bear but little handling. Tony
staggered back a moment, but, the next, the Brazilian was lying on the
floor from a terrific blow between the eyes. Just at this moment,
several English sailors entered the room, and, seeing that we were
Americans, of course took the landlord's part. The latter was but little
hurt and soon got up, muttering a great string of oaths, the usual
consolation of the Spaniard, but, this time, in a much lower voice, and
taking care to be out of the reach of Tony's powerful fist.

"Hit's ha hawful mean shame for to see ha poor cuss treated hin that
'ere way," mused one of the Englishmen to his comrades, in a tone so
loud that it was evidently meant for our special benefit.

"That's so! Shiver my timbers eff I would stand it eff I was the Spanish
cuss," was the elegant rejoinder.

"Whoever don't like it, can take it up whenever he wants," bluntly
interposed Tony.

"His that 'ere remark hintended for me?" asked the first speaker.

"Well, it is," said Tony, "and so is this 'ere."

And before I could guess his intention, or move an inch to hinder it,
down went the cockney before the same stanch fist of the Yankee sailor.
The rest of the Britishers immediately sprung forward to avenge their
comrade's fall; and, as I couldn't stand by and see little Tony
overpowered, I also went in. There were ten of them, at least, and we
were soon on the verge of destruction, when our cries for help reached
the ears of friends outside, and in dashed Old Nick and Bluefish, at the
head of a dozen or more of our lads, when the way that the Britishers
and that entire gin-shop was cleaned out was a caution. Three policemen
now dropped in, but we _dropped_ them in as summary a way as the rest of
them, and made our escape up the street.

This may be a rude picture, but it is one of truth, and I merely give it
as a sample of sailors' life ashore in foreign parts.

But there were other scenes in our Brazilian experience that were much
more novel and satisfactory than the foregoing. The town itself--or,
rather, city; for it is a large place--is full of interest to the
foreigner.

The men are mostly very homely, the women very pretty. The higher
classes make a great display in a worldly way. I have seen as elegant
"turn-outs" here, as in other parts of the globe. The ladies--some of
them--are attired with unparalleled magnificence. You know it is a
country of diamonds. The ladies sport a good many of them, but they have
another kind of ornament which, perhaps, will be new to most of you.
This is a peculiar kind of _firefly_ which the ladies wear in their
hair. I have seen them fastened among the black locks of a Brazilian
belle at night-time, when the effect was striking in the extreme.

Gambling is very prevalent among the people.

Even the lowest classes are infatuated with their favorite game of
_monte_. They play the clothes off their backs, and would play the hair
off their heads, if they wore wigs. They are great lovers of spicy food,
like all the rest of the South Americans, as well as the Mexicans. The
amount of red peppers which a genuine Spanish-American will consume at
one sitting would make a Yankee sneeze for the balance of his lifetime.
They stew it and fry it and broil it, and eat it as we do tomatoes.

When I was in Mexico, the body of a Mexican, who had died of exposure,
remained all night exposed on the mountains, where the wolves are as
thick as grasshoppers, and we found the body next morning untouched. I
verily believe that he was so excessively peppery that the wolves
couldn't find palate or stomach for him.

Another favorite article of food is the inevitable _tortillo_. This is
almost identical with what our hunters and soldiers call slapjacks. It
is a sort of pancake in a modified form, and goes very well on a hungry
stomach.

There are also many lamentable things to witness in Brazil. The
condition of the slaves is wretched in the extreme. Never--except,
perhaps, it was in the Isle of France--did I witness the yoke of slavery
fit the neck of the poor negro so gallingly as at Rio; and I was told
that the condition of the slaves further up the country--especially in
the diamond districts--was even more deplorable.

But my intention is to devote myself mainly to the fun we had, so we
will quit this distressing subject for a livelier theme.

One of the greatest attractions which Rio afforded us was the inevitable
bull-fight. Great preparations had been making for one of these
performances before we arrived. Of course, as soon as we got wind of it
on board the Queer Fish, every man was wild to see the show. The dear
little captain wished to oblige us all; but, as all could not go, it was
decided who should, by lots. It was my fortune to be one of the lucky
ones.

So, on an exceedingly bright morning in the month of July, we--about
twenty of us--landed at Rio to see the bull-fight. The affair was to
take place at a distance of several miles from the city, and we had
taken the precaution, several days beforehand, of securing conveyances.
These were nothing to boast of. They consisted of one barouche, an
old-fashioned transportation wagon, and a light, rickety affair, with
shafts about fifteen feet long, which is of very frequent use in Spanish
countries (_vide_ Havana).

We made some wry faces at seeing these turn-outs, but the horses
attached to them looked spry, and we were resolved to make the best of
the bargain. We were soon seated, or, rather, _heaped_ upon the sorry
vehicles, the drivers cracked their long whips, and away we went through
the narrow streets of Rio, singing songs, yelling discordantly, and
getting outside of a large amount of bad alcohol.

At length we reached the plains back of the city--the pampas--the broad,
glorious, rolling pampas; and we could see the inclosure where the
bull-fight was to take place, together with the flag-decorated,
red-roofed buildings surrounding it. A vast concourse had preceded us
there, but we had secured seats beforehand, and had no difficulty in
reaching our places. Those Brazilians in our immediate vicinity must
have remembered for a long time the crowd of Yankee privateersmen. These
Spanish people have ways and manners very singular to a foreigner. While
we were waiting for the bulls, all the ladies amused themselves with
smoking their universal cigarettos and fanning themselves. They never
stop smoking, save, perhaps, to make and light a new cigar, and it has
often been a matter of reflection to me, how they could keep up that
everlasting fanning of their pretty faces. They never stop. The fan
keeps moving incessantly. They must be very powerful in the right arm. I
am sure it would make me, or any other strong man, very tired to swing
one of those fans for half an hour, yet these pretty ladies keep it up
continually and never seem fatigued.

While waiting for the bulls, the men either talk to the ladies or play
_monte_ among themselves. They frequently quarrel during their games,
talk very boisterously, lay their hands on their knives, and look very
savage. But gaming quarrels among them very seldom go any further.

We had plenty of time to observe all these things, as we were fully half
an hour before the time, as was almost everybody else. We spent a
portion of our time in eating Brazil-nuts, oranges, bananas and other
fruit, with now and then a cheer or two for the Queer Fish and the flag
that flew at her peak. The native policemen would bob up and down about
us, endeavoring to maintain better order, but not liking to arrest any
individual one of us, while they did not dare to attempt a whole arrest.
All this weary interval of waiting an American caterer would have filled
up with strains of music; but not until almost at the moment of the
commencement of the performance, did the Brazilian musicians (wretched
ones) discourse their strains.

At last, however, the band pealed out, and the performers came running
into the ring. The fighters of the bull, on this occasion, were of two
classes. One class consisted of men, dressed in tights and spangles,
after the manner of our circus actors. These men bore red scarfs or
flags, wherewith to blind the beast, while each of them carried a number
of little darts at his belt. The darts were a sort of fireworks, one of
the various modes adopted for the torture and goading of the bulls. The
other class consisted of the _matadores_, whose duties are of a more
sanguinary nature than their brothers of the arena. Most of them on this
occasion were mounted, and armed with spears, but the most famous were
on foot, armed simply with a long, sheathless rapier. These latter are
in a bull-fighting country about the same as first-class theatrical
performers are in America and England. They become very famous when
successful, and star it through the country in the same way as our
actors. The main office of the star _matadore_ is to give the finishing
blow to the bull--the hight of the accomplishment being in the art of
killing at a single, graceful thrust of the sword.

When the performers had taken their positions, a signal from the major
domo caused the opening of a suspicious-looking door at the upper end of
the arena, and out bounded an enormous black bull, with a bellowing
noise, and lashing his sides furiously with his tail.

The game now commenced in earnest.

The ball was opened by one of the horsemen couching his spear and
rushing in to the attack. But, quick as a wink, and as lively as a cat,
the bull leaped on one side, avoided the thrust, and ripped up the
_matadore's_ steed, killing him instantly. The poor bull-fighter was
hurled high in the air, and fell to the ground. I looked to see him
destroyed instantly. But now the flag-bearers rushed in, flinging their
red scarfs over the animal's horns, and engaging his attention until
their discomfited comrade recovered, and was enabled to limp out of the
ring. The other horsemen, three in number, now spurred forward, and
succeeded in inflicting several painful wounds.

Infuriated with agony, the bull rushed at them blindly, this way and
that; but they glided away from him, and inflicted new wounds.

At last the flagmen (I forget what the Spanish name for them is) rushed
in and flung their little darts into the animal's side. The torch was
applied immediately afterward, and the bull was transformed into an
enormous fiery porcupine, and a very frightful-looking figure he cut.
Although considerably enfeebled by loss of blood, the ungovernable fury
of the bull sustained him for another assault, when he gored another
horse and tossed the rider almost to the top of the pavilion. But now
the master of ceremonies gave the signal, and one of the pedestrian
_matadores_ stepped out, sword in hand.

There were three of these men. They had remained standing motionless in
a very nonchalant way, waiting for the signal of the _coup de grace_.
The one who now stepped out to the task, was a lithe, handsome fellow.
With a light bound, he sprung at the side of the bull, avoided the
side-sweep of his angry horn, and plunged his weapon in the animal's
neck.

A storm of hisses burst from the audience, for the blow was not the
death-blow; and the _matadore_ recovered his sword and returned to his
former position; for one of the rules of the bull-fight is that the blow
which is intended to be final must not be repeated, if it be
unsuccessful.

And now, at another signal from the major domo, an old _matadore_, who
had stood gravely in front of us throughout the entire performance, now
advanced easily toward the bull, who made a staggering charge upon him.
But he easily evaded the charge, gained the animal's side, and drove in
his thin sword to the hilt, right behind the shoulder-blade. This time
it was the _coup de grace_. The bull stumbled forward, and then fell to
the ground dead, while a thundering cheer greeted the successful
_matadore_, who bowed carelessly, as if he was used to it, wiped his
sword, and quietly resumed his former position.

Now the supernumeraries entered the ring, with a wagon, to remove the
dead bull and horses and other _débris_.

Several other bulls, more or less formidable, were disposed of in rapid
succession.

But the greatest bull was reserved for the _finale_. A hum went through
the audience as he sprung into the arena. I think I never saw a nobler
animal than this bull. He was of a bright bay, and as glossy as the
costliest satin. His eyes were brilliant and large. The strength as
displayed in the splendid limbs and glorious neck was prodigious. All
"our crowd" sent up a rousing cheer as soon as this animal made its
appearance.

Well, the usual performance was gone through with at first. The horsemen
charged; one of the horses was killed; the flag-bearers charged, and one
of them was killed. The fireworks had become exhausted: so _that_ part
of the show--a very disgusting part to me, I must say--had to be
skipped. The master of ceremonies seemed loth to give the signal for the
death of this noble beast. And while he was deliberating, the bull made
a sudden and most effective charge upon all the horsemen and flagmen,
who were very injudiciously, all grouped together. The result was that
the horses were immediately overthrown and disabled, one of the flagmen
was immediately killed, and another one badly hurt, while one of the
three _matadores_,[1] who had been in the group, was tossed high into
the air and, by the rules of the arena, was out of the fight, on
account of his having left his proper position at the edge of the ring.
There were now, literally, as the only remaining fighters, two
_matadores_ or swordsmen. One of these, at the sign from the master of
ceremonies--which was now very hastily given--rushed in to the attack.
But his blow was a bad one. The old _matadore_--the one who had finished
up the the first bull so nicely, was now the only one left, and he,
without losing a particle of his composure, went in with a confident
air.

But he made a mistake, just as he reached the animal's side, and had his
arm paralyzed by hitting a horn with his crazy-bone, and away flew his
sword out of his hand. The next instant, he was tossed sky-high and Mr.
Bull had it all his own way.

A murmur of horror ran through the audience, for it seemed that now, as
every one of the fighters was either prostrate or weaponless, there
would be a great carnage. Even the hitherto imperturbable major domo
lost his presence of mind and turned as pale as death.

At this momentous juncture, old Bluefish, to our unmitigated
astonishment, started up with a wild whoop.

"I'll spike him! I'll spike him! Smash my top-lights, if I don't spike
him!" he shouted.

And, before we could guess his intention, he had leaped the railing, and
was in the ring. Snatching up the sword of one of the fallen
_matadores_, he made at the bull. The latter charged him, with a roar
that shook the pavilion to its center. But the sturdy old sailor leaped
on one side, got in his blow, and drove it in behind the shoulder, the
weapon rapping up against the skin, close to the hilt. The magnificent
beast tottered forward an instant, and then dropped to the earth, stone
dead.

Cheer after cheer greeted the brave deed of the Yankee tar.

"Bravo! bravo! Americano! Americano!" echoed from the crowd of
Brazilians.

"I told yer I'd spike him!" was the simple and only self-comment of
Bluefish, as he returned to our midst.

We were proud enough of him, you may be sure. But we were prouder still,
when, as we were going out with the throng, the band struck up "Hail
Columbia." The master of ceremonies had ordered it as a compliment to
us.



CHAPTER VIII.

ROUND THE HORN--THE PATAGONIANS.


A week after our experience at the bull-fight, we were ready for sea. It
was an easier matter, however, to be ready for sea, than to be able to
get to sea. For several of John Bull's cruisers were watching for us
just outside the harbor, determined, if possible, to put a stop to
further depredations on British commerce as far as we were concerned.
But, on a stormy night in the early part of August, Captain Joker
determined to make an attempt to run the blockade. All the men were
quietly posted at quarters, and we started, cautiously hugging the land
on the south side of the bay. We got along capitally till we reached the
mouth of the harbor. Here we almost ran into a man-o'-war. The night was
so dark that you couldn't see your hand before your face. We just saw
her lantern in time to bring our helm hard-a-port. As it was, we grazed
her stern with our bowsprit.

"What ship is that?" was immediately bawled from the man-o'-war.

"British sloop-of-war Achilles," sung out Captain Joker. "What ship is
that?"

"The Hercules."

"All right!"

We passed on, holding our breaths, and were soon out of reach.

But we were scarcely two miles out to sea, when the signal lantern of
another of our blockaders appeared, and a shot was fired across our
bows. But we kept straight on our way without paying the least attention
to it. Another shot followed us as harmlessly as its predecessor, but a
third struck the taffrail of our stern, sending up a shower of
splinters.

"Blast 'em! blaze away with the Long Tom!" cried our little captain,
getting in considerable of a tantrum for such a good natured fellow.

Bang! went the long brass swivel, and a flash from the enemy's guns,
immediately afterward, let us see our ball strike her fair and broad in
the starboard bow. We gave her one more compliment of a similar
character, and then kept on our way, without further molestation, for we
could easily outsail anything the enemy could bring against us.

It was the beginning of a tempest which raged with but little
intermission, for several days; and we were kept hard at work, as a
consequence. It let up, however, when we had reached a latitude far down
the coast. We here had the satisfaction of capturing two richly-laden
brigs from Valparaiso, which more than compensated us for our
privations.

It had been decided, at first, to double the Horn, but as the weather
bade fair to be more than commonly bad, we entered the Straits of
Magellan, intending to gain the Pacific by this avenue. There was more
danger attended by this route than by the Horn, as it was quite probable
that we should meet some armed vessel of the enemy. In view of this
probability, Captain Joker decided to make no captures while in the
straits, however tempting an opportunity might offer, in order to disarm
suspicion, if we should happen to fall in with a man-o'-war.

The Straits of Magellan--that broad avenue between the southern portion
of the South American Continent and Terra del Fuego--links the Atlantic
and Pacific Oceans by a fine channel, deep enough for the largest ship
that floats. It is a wild and dreary scene. On both sides of the straits
the character of the shore is eminently precipitous and inhospitable.
The great cliffs of black granite rise from the water's edge, in most
places, to a great hight, sparsely grown with stunted trees and a
description of rank grass. The climate is almost always cold and dismal,
with something falling all the time--snow or rain.

The impression produced upon the mind of the rover, when, for the first
time, he views these remote and cheerless scenes, is one that can never
be effaced. One of the first queries which one makes to himself is, "How
can anything--man or beast--live in the region of desolation and gloom?"
Yet inhabitants there are, of both species.

It was snowing furiously as we entered the straits, and we had not
proceeded far, with the Patagonian coast in view, before we saw an
immense flock of ostriches on the high table-land, looking down at us in
a very curious way. Something, however, occurred to frighten them, and
away they went, vanishing inland. These South American ostriches are not
quite so large as their brothers of tropical Africa; but they seem to be
stronger. Their legs are much thicker, and their wings are so small as
hardly to appear at all, being concealed under the heavy feathers of the
side. They run with great speed, outstripping the swiftest racer. They
seem to resemble the cassowaries of Southeastern Asia more than the
ostriches of the Sahara, and are not nearly so valuable as the latter
for their plumage.

We also saw some wolves before the day was over. We lay up for the
night, under the shelter of the high cliffs of the Terra del Fuego side
of the straits. It blew strong during the night, and was so cold that we
suffered considerably. The next morning a boat expedition was started,
to obtain some wood. I was along, and Tony Trybrace was in command. We
rowed up an inlet which deeply indented the coast, in order to find, if
possible, a landing-place, where wood could be obtained.

The scenery of Terra del Fuego is, if possible, more desolate and
cheerless than the opposite side of the straits. It was the very
incarnation of gloomy solitude, as we pulled up the narrow inlet, with
the high, rocky cliffs on either side; and I felt a sensation of
loneliness and awe creep over me as the ship was shut from our view. The
very waters through which we glided appeared black and somber--there was
nothing of the glad coast greenness, or of the true sea-blue about it.
Now and then a lone eagle would rise from some jagged crag, and soar
over us with a hungry scream, which only served to render the solitude
more impressive and solemn.

It was up this inlet that we saw human inhabitants for the first time
since entering the straits.

The Indians of Terra del Fuego are nothing like so formidable in size as
their brethren of Patagonia. In fact, they are rather below than above
the medium size of humanity. They are extremely filthy in their habits.

"As for their customs," as the midshipman said, "they are
incomprehensible; and as for their manners, they haven't got any."

They live in wretched habitations, which are semi-subterraneous, and are
partially dressed in the skins of wild beasts--mostly of wolves and
foxes.

As we rowed up the estuary, quite a number of these savages appeared
upon the rocks to our left, and greeted us with friendly gestures. As
we, soon after, descried a favorable landing-place, we made for the
shore, and, as soon as we were on it, were surrounded by upward of fifty
Indians. We took good care to keep together, with an eye always on our
arms, for we did not know what treachery might be preparing for us. But
we wronged these savages in our suspicions. They were of an exceedingly
mild disposition, and manifested no other feeling for us than
friendship, though the curiosity with which they examined our clothes
and arms was rather annoying. They had evidently seen but few white men,
as the Straits of Magellan were not frequently visited by vessels in
those days. One of the young lady Terra del Fuegans, who appeared to be
quite a "belle" among her companions, took quite a fancy to me. She
examined my hands with wonder, but, upon pushing up my sleeve and
viewing the whiteness of my arm, she was much struck at my appearance,
and greeted me with a torrent of questions in her native lingo, which
must surpass the Chinese in incomprehensibility, I think. These people
are not devoid of a certain frankness of expression, which commends them
to the notice of the stranger. They have a mild, placid look, but, when
angry, give tokens of the most furious tempers. They are armed with bows
and arrows and rude spears, and live to a large extent upon fish and
shell-fish. The latter are procurable in large numbers, and the former
are generally captured by means of the spear, after the manner of the
Northern tribes of North American Indians. The males and females dress
precisely alike--the garment generally consisting of a loose robe of
skins, reaching from the neck to the feet--and this, together with a
very slight dissimilarity of facial characteristics, renders it
difficult to distinguish the two sexes apart. One very praiseworthy
quality in these Indians--in strong contradistinction to the savages of
North America--is displayed in their almost universal contempt for
trinkets. They do not seem to care a button for any ornament--unless it
comes in the shape of a piece of useful clothing--while any gift which
they can put to immediate use is received with exuberant tokens of
delight and satisfaction.

One of our men offered to one of the chiefs a large, bright naval
button, when it was discarded with contempt, with the single comment of
"_waywoo nexel_," which, by a free translation, may be rendered into
"What is it good for?" "It is pretty, but worthless." Whereas, a large
nail which was offered by another of the men, was delightedly accepted,
with a profusion of thanks.

There was some utility in _this_. It might be fashioned into a spear or
arrow-head, or crooked for a hook to hang dried fish on. And it was,
therefore, far more valuable to the simple natives than the brightest
ornament of gold or precious stones.

We gathered our boat full of wood--such as it was--which we cut and
collected from the dwarf forests in the vicinity, and in a few hours
were ready to take our departure. I do not know whether they had ever
seen a ship, but, by some intuitive faculty, they seemed to conjecture
that we hadn't come all the way from the other side of the world in the
long boat--that there must be a vessel of larger proportions somewhere
in our vicinity, and they all wanted to accompany us on board the ship.
Strange to say, these natives are very poor boatmen. They are almost
devoid of any water conveyance.

We could not accommodate all of them, so they deputed one of their
number--quite a lad--to accompany us. He got in at the bow, we followed,
and pushed off, with our load of fuel, having a much better opinion of
the natives than before.

It was worth a long journey to witness the wonder and awe of our little
passenger upon first beholding the Queer Fish, as she lay at anchor in
the straits. At first the solemnity of the thing kept him silent. His
feelings of awe, however, gradually wore off, and he began to clap his
hands and utter wild exclamations at everything he saw. When on board of
the ship, he danced about in perfect ecstasy. We had a great deal of fun
with him, and the captain offered him a glass of grog, "just to see," to
use the skipper's own language, "how civilized the youngster was." Upon
the latter's rejecting the liquor in unutterable disgust, Joker
unhesitatingly declared him to be in the lowest depths of primitive
barbarism.

The next day, after putting our guest ashore--much to his
dissatisfaction--we proceeded westward through the straits. In two days
we arrived at the western extremity, without encountering a solitary
ship. It was here that I met with quite an adventure.

I was again a member of a boat expedition to procure wood, and as we
had seen a good many animals on the rocks, I, together with several
others, provided myself with a musket and ammunition, in hopes of
procuring something edible in the way of game.

So, after we had loaded our boat, those who had guns--myself among
them--started off in different directions through the rocks and woods.
For my part, I struck a bee-line inland, through the scrub trees, and
had not proceeded more than a mile or so when I sighted a small grayish
fox, and brought him to a standstill with a bullet through his skull. It
occurred in a singularly gloomy and dreary sort of dingle or ravine,
surrounded by frowning rocks and ragged trees. I hastened forward to
secure my prey, but, just as I was bending down to pick it up, a deep
growl startled me, and upon looking up I perceived a monstrous gray
wolf, who was approaching me with a hungry and ferocious aspect. Almost
immediately I perceived several more of the same ugly customers
approaching from the summit of the ridge. I had neglected to reload my
gun, and was somewhat taken aback by this strange apparition. But I have
seldom been at a loss for expedients in times of peril. I now snatched
up the carcass of the little fox, and tossed it at the wolf to attract
his attention, at the same time springing to a scrub-oak, which I
succeeded in climbing, bringing my gun with me.

No sooner was I safely ensconced in the crotch of the tree, than I saw
myself surrounded by a pack of at least fifty of the gaunt, ferocious
beasts, who had gobbled up the little fox in the twinkling of an
eye--more or less--and now seemed especially thirsty for my blood. To my
further dismay, I now saw a large reinforcement of wolves coming at a
brisk trot over the opposite ridge. You see, I was considerably uneasy
in my mind, on account of the lowness of the tree. I straddled the
crotch, and my feet swung, at most, only six feet from _terra firma_,
and there wasn't much chance of standing on my feet without dropping my
gun. I was debating the grave question in my mind as to whether the
wolves were spry enough to leap as high as my feet, when the biggest
"varmint" among them dissolved all dubiousness on the subject by taking
a short run and a flying leap at my feet. He missed them by about six
inches, and his teeth gnashed together with a most villainous snap. He
made several more trials, as did some others of the pack, but as they
could not succeed in coming any nearer, I felt easier in my mind on this
score. The entire pack then surrounded me, gazing up at me wistfully, as
at a dainty piece of meat hung beyond their reach, and set up a
prolonged, dismal howl.

I forgot all about my gun at first. The strangeness of my situation, as
well as its peril, lay upon my spirit like a spell. Can you imagine
anything more ridiculously lonesome and desolate than a Yankee tar treed
in the middle of Terra del Fuego by a pack of unreasonable, gigantic and
hungry wolves? I can't. I believe I would as lief climb the North Pole
and take a lonely roost on its summit.

Presently, however, I remembered that I had a musket and a large
quantity of ammunition; and the idea occurred to me that, as the wolves
were hungry, I had better feed them on each other, as the most
charitable course I could pursue.

So, having found a niche in the trunk of the tree, just below my right
foot, where I could securely rest my gun, I rapidly reloaded. Having
done so, I took a steady aim, and knocked over the biggest, ugliest
rascal I could see. No sooner did the other wolves see and scent the
running blood of their comrade than they rushed upon him with joyful
yells and rapidly tore him to pieces--for many mouths make light work,
as well as many hands. As soon as this was disposed of I shot another,
which was also instantly devoured. So I went on, knocking them down as
fast as I could reload, and rarely missing my aim. But the voracity of
the infernal brutes seemed to have no end, and fresh squads kept coming
in from every side, until I began to think that it was incumbent upon me
to fill the stomachs of the entire wolf population. I destroyed fifty of
them, if I did one, and yet they yelped for more, as if they hadn't had
a meal in six weeks. Only having about ten charges left, I now ceased
firing for a while, sincerely hoping that the wolves would leave me in
peace. But they had not the remotest idea of doing anything of the kind.

I remained six mortal hours a prisoner in the crotch of that miserable
tree. At length, however, as it began to grow dark, I began to be
alarmed, and recommenced my firing, in the hope that it would bring my
comrades to the rescue. By the blessing of Providence, they did at last
hear me, and I was saved. I shall never forget the thrill of deep joy
with which I heard their encouraging cheer, as they advanced to the
rescue, over the summit of the eastern ridge. They numbered a dozen
stout fellows, each armed with a musket, led on in solid column by
little Tony Trybrace. A loud shout of laughter burst from their lips
upon perceiving the ridiculous position in which I was placed. But their
merriment was something that I was little disposed to join in.

Nevertheless they advanced resolutely forward, pouring destructive
volleys into the bewildered wolves, who now began to scatter in every
direction. And, in a few moments not a live one was to be seen.

I slid down from the tree as lively as possible, and told the story of
my adventures; but they had to support me to the boat, as I was so weak
from the cramped position I had so long maintained, that I could hardly
use my legs at all.

That was the last of my experience in Terra del Fuego. The next morning
we sailed northward, skirting the western coast of Patagonia.

The water which we had taken on board at Rio having proved of very
inferior quality, the captain decided to make a stop somewhere on the
Patagonian coast--where the water is very delicious--in order to refill
the casks. In several days we arrived at Wellington Island. This is a
long, narrow, almost herbless island on the western coast, about midway
between the Island of Chiloe and the western extremity of the Straits of
Magellan. There is quite an archipelago here, there being a continuous
line of islands stretching along almost the entire coast. Keeping the
southern extremity of Wellington Island on our left, we steered in
toward the coast, and soon made an excellent natural harbor on the
mainland.

The country here is not nearly so bleak as down at the straits. There is
quite a spontaneous growth of grass, forests of oak, beech and cedar;
and I was told that there were extensive grassy plains inland. Indeed,
there must be something of the kind to feed the large numbers of horses
and guanacos (a wool-growing beast, a sort of Patagonian llama) that
roam the wastes, many of which we saw, even on the coast, which is rocky
and bold. You can't say much for the climate, even in antithesis to
Terra del Fuego. It is simply, universally, equably wretched. It rains
all the time, with no cessation at all. At least, it did while we were
there, and the natives assured us that it always rained. They did not
know what a dry day was, and laughed heartily when told of countries
where the sun frequently deigned to smile for an entire day at a
stretch.

We remained at our anchorage off the mainland for nearly a week, and as
there were plenty of natives in the vicinity, we had an excellent
opportunity of observing them, which we were glad to improve. The coast
of this remote region was not visited in those days, except at rare
intervals. Some few adventurous navigators had explored the seas and
inlets to some extent; but to most of the natives whom we met, we were
as strange a race as though we had dropped from the sky.

Many erroneous ideas were then, and are to the present day, entertained
with regard to the inhabitants of Patagonia. They were represented as of
gigantic proportions, herculean strength and ferocious and cannibalistic
propensities. Nothing of the kind. It is true, they are a very tall
race. I have seen them as high as seven feet. But six feet four inches
is not considered dwarfish, even in Patagonia. I am told that the
natives of the west coast are the shortest of the different races of
Patagonia, and that those of the most easterly and central regions are
of an average hight of seven feet, frequently attaining a still loftier
growth. This is doubtless true, as it comes from sources that should be
authentic. But those of the west coast are as I have indicated. They are
also very bulky of body, but their limbs are quite disproportionate, and
I do not think them equal to the Caucasian race in point of physique. As
in the case of the Terra del Fuegans, the men and women dress alike, are
of almost equal hight, and are with difficulty distinguished from each
other. They dress in long, loose robes, reaching nearly to the feet.
They are excellent horsemen, and skillful hunters with their spears.
They are also expert with the bow and arrow. The principal game consists
of horses (large herds of which range the country), ostriches and
guanacos, which we have already described as being a species of llama.
Besides these, there is a species of hare, several kinds of edible
birds, and shellfish are most abundant on all parts of the coast. The
latter is one of the principal articles of food, and the manner of
obtaining the oysters, clams and mussels is excessively primitive. The
women dive for them. As the climate is very cold, the privations which
these poor creatures undergo to supply the appetites of their selfish
lords with the luscious bivalves are very great. The water is always of
icy temperature. I have seen these poor women kept in the sea for an
hour diving for mussels, and, when they were permitted to come out, they
were so benumbed as to be hardly able to stand. As soon as they come out
of the sea, they are carried in front of blazing fires, where they are
gradually thawed into their normal state. I think this must be a main
cause for the paucity of the inhabitants of this coast. If they increase
in population at all, it must be very tardily. The women, on account of
these cruel privations they undergo, are seldom so long lived as the
men. Some of them are not devoid of beauty, but, as with our own
savages, an excessive prominence of features is the ruling facial
characteristic.

Another article of food which is much prized, is a species of wild
celery which grows in great quantities along the coast. It makes an
excellent salad, and is the only vegetable I saw in use among the
natives. The people are very similar in disposition to their brethren of
the Cape. Their voices are sometimes of surprising sweetness, although
the language they use is harsh and unmusical. They are usually of a mild
and serene temperament, but, when thoroughly aroused, exhibit passions
of an ungovernable fury, which I have never seen equaled outside of
Africa. Unlike the Terra del Fuegans, they are a nomadic race. They
wander from place to place, engaged in hunting and fishing, and in the
course of a year probably traverse a distance of many hundred miles.

Their lodges consist of skins, sticks and earth, and are, owing to their
temporary occupation, less substantial than those of the Fuegans, but,
from what I saw, I should judge that the Patagonians are a much cleaner
people.

We were on very friendly terms with them, and made them several presents
of a useful character, for which they were duly grateful. In return,
they brought us large quantities of shell-fish and the delicious wild
celery.



CHAPTER IX.

HUNTING THE OSTRICH.


Before we set out from the coasts of Patagonia, Captain Joker, together
with several of his crew--myself among the number--who had ingratiated
themselves in the good graces of the natives, received an invitation
from the chief to go with him upon an ostrich-hunt in the interior.

We gladly accepted the offer.

The chief, whose name was Walgilka--I spell it to produce the
pronunciation as I remember it--signified the day upon which we were to
start, and promised to have the requisite number of horses in readiness.
The party who were to accompany him consisted of the captain, the second
mate (Pat Pickle), Tony Trybrace, Bluefish, Dicky Drake and myself.
Dicky had specially ingratiated himself with the chieftain by presenting
that individual with an old, dog-eared testament, which was looked upon
by the natives as containing something of mystical import.

On the appointed morning, we duly landed, each provided with a musket,
and were escorted by several natives to Walgilka's lodge, which was
located inland, about a mile from the coast.

When we came in sight of it, we saw that about twenty horses were in
waiting, saddled and bridled after the primitive manner of the
Patagonians.

The horses are not large, but are strong and wiry; usually of an iron
gray or sorrel hue. The "saddle" is merely a wolf or guanaco skin bound
over the back in several folds; and the "bridle" consists of a stout
thong of hide made fast, from shifting, at the throat, but connected
with a piece of hide of greater thickness, which goes through the mouth
after the manner of a bit.

As I gazed upon these uncouth, stirrupless steeds, I must confess that
my heart sunk within me, and, in imagination, I felt sore already, as I
thought of the ten or fifteen mile gallop that was probably in store for
us. But I put as cheerful a face on the matter as was possible.

The chieftain came out from his lodge, attended by numerous huntsmen,
armed with their spears and bows, in readiness for the chase. He
greeted us cordially, and in a short time we were mounted and moving at
a brisk pace for the prairies of the interior, where the ostriches most
do congregate.

It would be impossible to chase the ostrich successfully if he started
as fresh as his pursuer, as they are not only far fleeter than the
swiftest steed, but have also far greater powers of endurance. But they
have a way of managing it in Patagonia, by which the birds are taken at
a disadvantage. It is one of the peculiarities of the ostrich of South
America to always run before the wind, if possible, when pursued.

The strong gales that are prevalent, and, indeed, almost incessant in
this region, blowing against their plumes from behind, thus serve to
give them a considerable acceleration of speed. Therefore, when a
Patagonian chief decides to have a day of ostrich-hunting, he usually,
the night beforehand, sends some of his people twenty or thirty miles
down the coast (that is, if a _south_ wind is blowing, for instance.)
These outriders then proceed inland, and slowly drive what birds they
may meet with northward. The men do not approach near enough to cause
any excessive alarm, but maintain a sufficient distance in the rear to
keep the timid creatures on a moderate trot before the wind, giving them
no time to halt for any considerable length of time. In this way, they
keep them almost perpetually on a trot for the entire distance of twenty
or thirty miles, whatever it may be. Then the sagacious chieftain, with
his train of fresh horsemen, do not have much difficulty in running down
the poor ostriches, already fatigued from their long thirty-mile trot.
In this way the endurance of the ostrich is tested by the combined
endurance of two stout horses, and, of course, is found wanting.

Dicky Drake, when he heard of this _modus operandi_, swore that it was a
mean, unfair thing on the ostrich, and vowed, if it wasn't for the sake
of seeing the thing through, he would drop the enterprise.

Well, _our_ outriders had been dispatched down the coast on the
preceding night, and Walgilka assured us we should meet with excellent
sport. The inevitable, incessant rain of Patagonia was falling, but not
heavily, and we had come to look upon a mere drizzle almost as a
sunshiny day.

At length we broke from the rough country, upon a bare hill, whence, far
below and beyond us, rolled the glorious land of the pampas--portions of
it almost as level as a floor, but the greater part rolling like the
billows of the sea. A large troop of ostriches were feeding below us,
and we could see several herds of horses and guanacos in the distance.

Walgilka immediately gave the signal to charge, and, with a ringing
shout, we dashed down the hill upon the astonished ostriches, who
immediately started off at a tremendous pace.

"They run well for having just finished a twenty-mile trot!" said Tony
Trybrace, who was riding at my side.

I thought the same thing. But we had not got very far before we heard a
cry in our rear.

Walgilka turned and then gave the signal for a halt. When we looked back
we perceived one of the natives pursuing us at a great rate, and, upon
coming up, we were informed that we were pursuing the wrong flock of
birds. Those which had been specially fatigued for our benefit were
feeding some miles further inland. So, with many a joke at our own
mistake, we left the pursuit of the fresh flock--and it would probably
have been a long stern-chase, if we had kept it up--and proceeded
eastward, over the pampas, to find the tired game.

We came upon them in about half an hour. And this time it was no
mistake. Although the birds ran very swiftly at first, several of them
limped painfully, and soon, one by one, they began to drop behind each
other. We could see them flap their little wings painfully, as they
panted on before our fresh and momentarily nearing steeds. At length,
one of the poor creatures stopped and laid down, at the same time
extending its head despairingly along the ground, and tacitly receiving
the deadly arrow of the nearest horseman.

We rapidly gained on the whole flock and were soon in the midst of them,
knocking them down in every direction. I got a shot at a very fine bird
and laid him low, while, almost simultaneously, Tony and the captain
each brought one down. Bluefish also did well, but little Dicky Drake,
as usual, made a laughing-stock of himself. His tender heart got the
better of his desire for carnage just as we got in the midst of the
flock, and he conceived the brilliant conception of taking one of the
birds alive.

Springing from his horse, he made at a very large ostrich with
outstretched arms, when he received a most unmerciful kick from the
powerful leg of the bird, which doubled him up and laid him sprawling.
Nevertheless, he was plucky and immediately got up to try it again. This
time, evading the legs of the bird, he made a spring and alighted upon
her back, when the bird, no doubt extremely terrified at this maneuver,
summoned up her remaining energies and started on a brisk run. Dicky
clung to her, probably as much frightened as she, and bellowing like a
good 'un amid the noisy laughter of all the huntsmen.

"Stick to her! Good-by, Dicky!" shouted old Bluefish.

But the bird ran only a few rods before she dropped and expired, and the
amateur hunter returned to his horse looking rather sheepish.

We killed about thirty birds altogether and took up our homeward way
with our horses heavily laden, after having enjoyed the novel sport
hugely.

We saw vast herds of guanacos, as well as a great many horses on our way
back, but we were in no condition to take up another chase, although the
opportunity was very tempting.

I here also had the opportunity of seeing, for the first time in my
life, that enormous bird, the Condor of the Andes. He had been feeding
upon some carrion a few rods in front of us, and, startled at our
approach, rose slowly up with a guttural cry and flew toward his
mountain home. I let off my gun at him at rather short range, I thought,
but without effect.

The reports of the size of this bird have been greatly exaggerated, but
I am sure this one was twice as large as the largest eagle I ever saw.
The condor flies higher than any other bird and is only found in the
Andes of South America--usually frequenting the most elevated and
inaccessible parts. Its strength is prodigious. Walgilka informed me
that it was not an unfrequent thing to see them seize upon and carry off
the guanaco; and this animal is of about equal weight I think with the
merino sheep.



CHAPTER X.

VALPARAISO.


In a few days after our ostrich-hunt, our preparations for leaving
Wellington Sound and our kind Patagonian friends were complete. Walgilka
was very pressing in his desire for us to defer our departure, promising
us all the hunting we could desire, but duty was duty, so we bade
farewell to him and his people, and hoisted sail.

The American Government had agents in the Chilian port of Valparaiso,
whom it was important for Captain Joker to see, and it was therefore
decided to make sail in that direction. Another inducement for entering
Valparaiso was our scarcity of hands, owing to the depletion our crew
had suffered through the many detachments we had been compelled to make
in the way of prize-crews. We hoped to obtain some recruits among the
merchantmen of Valparaiso. But there was even more difficulty in
entering this port than we had experienced at Rio, because the former
was then one of the principal rendezvous of the British Pacific
squadron, and we expected little mercy if we should be so unfortunate as
to run afoul of one of them.

Nevertheless, we had been so successful thus far that we were not by any
means specially apprehensive. We had not lost a single man since we
started. But now, on our way to Valparaiso, there was a little event
happened on board the Queer Fish, which, though it at first appeared
trifling, was afterward viewed in the light of importance.

Little Willie Warner, our pretty cabin-boy, received a severe contusion
of the head by a fall down the companionway, and had to go under medical
treatment in consequence. He had always been exceedingly quiet and
reticent, but was beloved by the whole crew on account of his gentleness
and beauty. Every kindness was now evinced for him from every quarter.
The captain especially was very considerate. He allowed Roddy Prinn to
be nearly altogether excused from duty, in order that he might wait upon
his little chum--a favor for which Roddy was exceedingly grateful. The
doctor--I have forgotten to mention him; he was a good old body by the
name of Benedict--the doctor was very attentive to Willie Warner, and
always had something encouraging to say about his charge.

But, one day, we noticed Doctor Benedict come hastily up from below,
looking very queer in the face. He went up to Captain Joker, and spoke
apart with him in low tones, when they both looked pretty serious, and
there was an expression on the captain's smiling lips--they always
smiled more or less--which I had never noticed them wear before. Well,
we didn't know what to make of this mystery; and it was not cleared up
for a long time afterward.

Willie got well and returned to his duties, but the captain and doctor
were, somehow, kinder and more gentle with him than they had ever been
before, and his duties were made as light as possible.

Before Willie's convalescence was thoroughly over, we arrived off
Valparaiso, but did not dare to enter openly, for fear of being stopped
at the entrance by a British man-o'-war. We expected a signal from our
agents, and hung off the coast a long time, watching for it. But none
appeared, and Captain Joker resolved to attempt an entrance at his own
hazard.

Luckily, he was perfectly familiar with the harbor, and, choosing a dark
and stormy night, we succeeded in running in, without meeting any
molestation.

The tempest went off during the night, and the bright sunlight of the
ensuing morning saw us riding safely at anchor, not forty fathoms from
the city's wharves.

Valparaiso was a city of much less importance then than now, but it was,
nevertheless, a smart seaport for that remote portion of the globe. It
is built right at the water's edge, with the grand mountain-wall of the
Andes running so stiffly, loftily and impenetrably up behind, that you
wonder how the rays of the rising sun ever reach the little city nestled
at their rocky feet. At least you think they must have daylight on the
level pampas beyond many moments before it surmounts those mountains to
reach the narrow strip of plain between them and the sea. There is a
fine cathedral in the city now, but when I was there, the largest
establishment of this kind appeared to be a wooden structure. It was
surmounted by a great red, wooden cross, and every morning and evening,
we heard the sweet music of the Catholic service come floating to us
over the waters of the bay.

We only remained in this port a few days, but, while at anchor there, I
was a party in a kind of sport seldom, probably never, met with in any
other portion of the globe. This was nothing more nor less than a hunt
for electric eels.

Tony Trybrace and I became acquainted, while at Valparaiso, with a
Chilian gentleman named Jose Gonzales. He possessed a large landed
estate in the interior, and, when Tony had told him of our ostrich hunt
in Patagonia, invited us to visit him at his country place, and he would
promise us sport of, at least, a more novel character. Dicky Drake
begged us to have the invitation extended to him also, which was readily
complied with by Don Jose. And, one morning, having obtained a
three-days' "leave" of Captain Joker, we mounted some fine mules, and
set forth with our pleasant host. A portion of our journey lay through
mountain land--the outskirts of the Andes, and we had a good opportunity
of observing the inhabitants of the country.

Chili is, at present, considered, and with justice, the first of South
American countries in point of everything pertaining to population; and
evidences of her future were not lacking in the year 1812. The Spanish
population of the mountain region were a simple and hardy race; whose
hospitality alone causes the heart of the stranger to warm toward them
with a kindly thrill.

We saw a great many of the llamas of the country, more condors, as well
as monkeys, and many other strange and interesting individuals of brute
creation.

A ride of about six hours from Valparaiso brought us to the ranch of our
host. It was most beautifully situated on the fertile table-land, and
made me in love with South American rural life. As we approached the
mansion, we passed several black-looking pools, or lagoons, and were
much surprised when told, by our host, that they were to be our
hunting-grounds.

As we rode by the largest of these lagoons, which was scarcely a furlong
from the ranch, Don Jose drew a biscuit from his saddle-bags and tossed
it into the middle of the still, black waters. Instantly, and before it
touched the surface, the lifeless-looking lagoon was filled with a
strange and horrible existence. Myriads of snakes (as they appeared)
rose suddenly to the surface, and engaged in a furious combat for the
floating biscuit. Presently we saw the little fins on either side of
their necks, and we then knew them to be eels. Some of them were very
large--from six to seven feet in length, I should judge--but they
averaged a much briefer length. Presently one of the larger snapped the
biscuit under the water, which caused a sudden disappearance of all of
them. One little fellow, however, swam around the edge of the tarn, in
hopes of more food, projecting his shining head out of the water, and
even climbed up the slimy bank, eying us with a peculiarly villainous
gaze from his dull, leaden-colored eyes. Here was a chance for Dicky
Drake, for, of course, there was no liability of a scrape that he did
not seize with avidity.

"I allers wanted a specimen of that cuss for my old uncle's cabinet at
hum', and here's my chance!" he exclaimed, springing from his mule, and
advancing, with hands innocently outstretched; while, from the peculiar
expression of Don Jose's features, Tony and I suspected that there was
something in the wind.

"I've got yer, yer varmint!" exclaimed Dicky, stooping joyfully over the
reptile.

But no sooner did he clutch it than over he went, head over heels, with
a bellow of pain, at the same time dropping the "critter" as if it was a
candent thunderbolt.

"Don't give it up, Dicky! At him again!" roared Tony through his
laughter.

"Bravo! Buena!" exclaimed the señor.

Smarting at the merriment which his mishap occasioned, Dicky picked
himself up in a rage and again grabbed the reptile, which was making
tracks for the water. But again he was knocked over by the electric
shock, and the eel made its escape to the water.

The discomfited eel-catcher regained his feet, and slowly returned to
his mule.

"Where's your specimen?" I asked.

Everybody else had something similar to say.

"Blast ther critter!" said Dicky, sulkily. "I never heer'd of a snake as
was stuffed with red-hot needles afore."

With no other incident worthy of recording, our party soon arrived at
the comfortable ranch of Don Jose.

The next day, at an early hour, we were summoned from our beds by the
servants, and, descending, found our host already on muleback, with an
eel-prong in his hand. Our mules and weapons of the same kind were
awaiting us. We mounted and were soon on our way to the lagoon.

It was a glorious morning. The sun had not yet appeared, but the golden
spears of his coming shot high above the sublime peaks of the Andes,
gilding their ancient summits with a thousand hues, and flashing down,
with a glittering swoop, upon the luxuriant plains. Everything was
bright and blooming. Monkeys were leaping amid the branches of the
tropical trees, and gaudy-plumed paroquets were flitting here and there;
while the bright-green lizards glided across our path, rejoicing
silently in the morning beams.

We reached the lagoon, which looked as lifeless and stagnant as ever. I
was surprised at not seeing any boats; for I thought that, of course,
they were necessary for the pursuit of our game. But they have a better,
though more cruel, way of catching the festive eel in Chili.

We were accompanied by a large number of Don Jose's peons, who proceeded
on foot, with legs bare as far up as the thigh, and each armed with an
eel-prong, which is a four-pronged "trident," so to speak, sharply
pointed, and provided with a wooden handle, or stalk, about four feet in
length. They were a merry set, and kept up an incessant conversation and
song in their mongrel Spanish, which the devil's interpreter couldn't
understand.

We reached the margin of the lagoon, and waited there a short time, when
we were aroused by a great trampling of the ground, and perceived a herd
of some hundreds of wild horses and mules coming over the prairie toward
the tarn at a thundering gait.

Don Jose now condescended to explain. These animals had been purposely
kept without water for two days, and now, so soon as released, were
rushing to the nearest lagoon to satisfy their fiery thirst. The
character of the inhabitants of the pool was well known to them, and,
under ordinary circumstances, not a horse or mule could be induced to
put nose or foot into the electric waters. But now, maddened by thirst,
and forgetful of everything but the frantic desire to satisfy it, they
were making for the nearest water that glittered on the plain.

On came the thundering troop of steeds from the opposite side neighing
and snorting, with their tongues lolling out. They burst through the
chaparral and thick-growing cacti of the border, and in a moment were in
the center of the pool--which was but a few rods in diameter.

Then commenced a scene which completely beggars description.

A most furious contest commenced between the animals and the
electric-eels--who, thus suddenly aroused and trampled upon, were
striking their strong enemies with all their power. Now and then an eel
or two would flash up through the surface, but they were mostly
invisible. The horses plunged frantically, uttering cries of agony
almost human-like. They bit at the water, shrieked, and endeavored to
reach the bank, but in vain. Stricken down by their unseen foes, many of
them lost their legs, and went down, with difficulty keeping their heads
above the water; and those that fell blocked the path of escape to those
less fortunate. The appearance of the horses was most agonizing. Their
manes fairly bristled with horror and pain, while it made me sick to
hear their cries. The mules also suffered terribly, but not quite so
acutely, it seemed to me, as the horses. Don Jose and his people enjoyed
the scene immensely, shouting and crying out in the exuberance of their
joy.

The singular contest lasted fully ten minutes, when it became evident
that the fury of the attack of the eels was sensibly abating. In about
five minutes more, the fear and pain of the horses and mules totally
ceased. Those which had fallen regained their feet, and the whole herd,
after quietly drinking their fill, left the pool, and galloped off over
the pampas.

The reason of this was that the electric power of these eels becomes
completely exhausted or expended after it has been exercised malignantly
for a certain time, and it requires several hours of rest to recuperate
their electric power. And during this time they are powerless of harm.

And now the peons advanced into the lagoon, brandishing their spears,
while the Don, Tony, Dicky and myself dismounted and stood on the
margin, watching our chance. The peons drove their prongs along the
bottom, spiking the enfeebled reptiles, which they threw on the shore in
great numbers, and then, retracing their steps, drove them toward our
position on the bank, where we soon had our fill of the sport. The eels
came up, first singly, then in knotted masses, and we darted our spears
into them at our pleasure.

Dicky Drake enjoyed the sport hugely, but, as usual, met with some
mishap. He had taken off his shoes, and was toddling barefoot in the
slime, when he accidentally trod on an eel which had been prudent enough
to hold off from the attack on the horses.

The poor fellow leaped back, with a loud scream, and went limping up the
bank.

"Did you ever tread on a paper of red-hot pins?" he asked of me at the
conclusion of the sport.

"Never did," I replied.

"If you'd like to know how it feels, just sot yer hoof on that air
innocent-lookin' varmint," said he, pointing ruefully to the reptile by
which he had suffered; but I had no anxiety to make the attempt.

At length we grew weary of the sport, left the peons to carry home the
captured eels--which are much esteemed as an article of food--and
proceeded on our return. Many thousands of eels were captured on that
day.

We returned to the ranch and enjoyed ourselves in other, and less novel,
ways than eel-hunting.

Before we left, our hospitable host showed us some curious relics of the
ancient Indian inhabitants. These, from appearances, seem to have been
mound-builders. We saw one of the mounds which had been excavated, and
Don Jose, afterward, shewed us some specimens of earthenware and
instruments of war--the latter fashioned of stone--which he had procured
in the neighborhood.

We also made a short expedition with our host, to the crater of an
extinct volcano, and looked with wonder, upon the vast basin, which had
once--long, long ago, perhaps--vomited fire and lava upon the plains
below.

Thanking our host for the pleasure he had afforded us, we, at the close
of the second day, set out upon our return to Valparaiso, at which place
we shortly arrived.

Captain Joker having transacted his business to his satisfaction, and
the coast being clear of British cruisers, we, shortly afterward,
weighed anchor, set all sail to catch the trade-winds, and danced out
seaward and westward, intending to create an excitement among the
British whalers of the South Pacific.



CHAPTER XI.

AMONG THE WHALERS.


One interesting point which we visited on our way westward was the
Island of Juan Fernandez, which has been made so famous by the fabulous
adventures of Robinson Crusoe.

The island is quite small and girt with a thin line of reefs through
whose intricacies it is almost impossible for a vessel larger than a
long-boat to make a channel. The island itself is surpassingly
beautiful. It is one of these little heavens of the summer sea which
forcibly recalls the beautiful description of Tennyson:--


     "Oh to burst all links of habit, and to wander far away,
     On from island unto island, at the gateways of the day.
     Larger constellations burning, mellow moons and happy skies,
     Breadths of tropic shade, and palms in cluster, knots of Paradise.
     Never comes the trader, never floats an European flag.
     Slides the bird o'er lustrous woodland, swings the trailer from
       the crag;
     Droops the heavy-blossomed bower, hangs the heavy fruited tree--
     Summer isles of Eden lying in the dark-purple spheres of sea.
     There, methinks, would be enjoyment more than in this march of
       mind.
     In the steamship, in the railway, in the thoughts that shake
       mankind.
     There the passions, cramped no longer, shall have scope and
       breathing space:
     I will take some savage woman, she shall rear my dusky race.
     Iron-jointed, supple-sinewed, they shall dive and they shall run.
     Catch the wild goat by the hair, and hurl their lances in the sun;
     Whistle back the parrot's call, and leap the rainbows of the brooks.
     Not with blinded eyesight poring over miserable books."


We left this delightful isle astern and drove to the westward, capturing
many whalers by the way. We had succeeded in filling up our ship's
company to more than repletion at Valparaiso, and now had prize-crews in
abundance. When we had been short of men Captain Joker, in as many as
three cases, had allowed valuable vessels of the enemy to go on their
course on account of not having sufficient men to put prize-crews
aboard.

It had been frequently urged by the first mate to destroy such vessels
(after the manner of Captain Semmes) but Captain Joker invariably
refused to do anything of the kind, swearing, in his rough, manly
fashion, that he would sooner let the vessels go free than give them to
the flames.

There was not much adventure in the capture of these vessels. It was
merely a firing of a few shots across the bows of the blunt-bowed,
heavily-laden craft, which seldom failed to bring her to, and then a
peaceable taking possession of her. There was one instance in which
there was a difference.

We one day (in the latter part of October, I think,) brought a vessel to
somewhere within two degrees southward of the Sandwich Islands. She was
a whaler from Hull, England, and as we came up to capture her was
engaged in the capture of a whale. All her boats were out in pursuit.
When we boarded her (her name was the Jenny Hollins) and the captain
learned our true character, he immediately signaled his boats to
return--or was about to do so, when Captain Joker stopped him with:

"Let them alone, my dear captain, they're very creditably engaged."

"But, sir," exclaimed the English skipper, "I have surrendered to you. I
do not care to have my men employed to enrich your Government."

"My dear captain, pray let them alone. Boatswain," (turning to Tony
Trybrace) "just take the long-boat with a complement of men, follow the
boats of the Jenny Hollins and see that they do their work well, and
then order them to the ship. We cannot afford to lose a good whale in
these times."

So, in spite of the mortified pride of the skipper of the Jenny Hollins,
Tony set out in the long-boat, wherein myself and most of my chums were
rowers. The whale-boats were busily engaged in tackling a huge whale,
probably thinking our craft to be nothing more than a brother whaler,
stopped to take pot-luck.

They had harpooned their prey several times, and he had come up to
breathe for the last time, and to die, when we rowed up. Now, a sperm
whale in his death-flurry, as it is called, is not to be approached
incautiously, without danger. But we were by no means experienced
whalers, and rowed in, regardless of expense or peril, when, suddenly,
we caught his tail squarely under our keel, and were lifted up skyward
about forty feet, the boat capsizing in the air and tumbling everybody
and everything out in the shake of a sheep's tail. Well, we all came
down with a rush, as you may be sure. I am sorry to state that I,
instead of coming down in the water, alit, head-first, on the back of
the Leviathan, stunning me, and leaving me floating around in the water
like a dead man. But, fortunately, our boat had fallen bottom downward,
old Bluefish had regained her, and we were all picked up, one after
another, more dripping than hurt. I remember coming to slowly, and
hearing old Bluefish murmuring in my ears, with as much of tenderness as
could inform his rude voice:

"Wake up! wake up! There's a dear fellow! I know'd as how a son of a
sea-cook was never born to be drownded in salt water!"

Well, the whale breathed his last soon after our mishap, and we helped
the men tow her to the ship; though they were, of course, somewhat
crestfallen to learn that they had been in the employ of Uncle Sam for
the last hour or two.

Nevertheless, we had a gay time in trying out and cutting up the
monster. There was a singular mishap occurred at about the close of this
operation.

It is the custom to have the carcass of the whale lashed to the side of
the ship while the work of cutting up is going on. I may as well
mention, by way of parenthesis, that this operation of cutting up
allures a great number of sharks to the side of the ship, for the sake
of the worthless blubber and other _débris_. And, at this time, any man
may venture among the black-fins with perfect impunity--so much more is
whale-meat esteemed above human flesh by epicurean sharks. As soon as
the flesh that is triable is taken from the whale, the carcass becomes a
dead weight in the water, descending through the waves with a rush as
soon as the stays are cut.

It happened that, in the case of our whale, when all but the last
lashing were cut, one of the crew of the whaler, who was standing on the
carcass, got his feet entangled in some of the cordage remaining on it.
Just as the last stay was severed, he was discovered, and was rapidly
being drawn to the bottom of the sea, when Old Nick threw a rope about
his shoulders, and this served to hold him up. But, in the interim, the
entire weight of the enormous skeleton was sustained by the body of the
unfortunate seaman, who thereupon began to shriek out in mortal agony.
The poor fellow would very probably have been dismembered, had not our
heroic and shark-defying Snollygoster jumped overboard, with a knife,
and severed the lashings by which he was held to the carcass. The latter
immediately disappeared, followed by a great whirlpool of brine. Had the
man not been caught, he would have been dragged down many fathoms below
the sea; had his feet not been released from the weight of the carcass
in time, he would very probably have been disjointed and slain with
horrible agonies. As it was, he was more scared than hurt, and
Snollygoster added another plume to his cap.

Before I quit our whaling experience, I must recur to another striking
event of a more truly tragic character than the one just described.

We had captured a whaler from Southampton under very similar
circumstances with the foregoing. Her boats were out--all but one--and I
got permission from the captain to accompany this one, as I was anxious
to see a whale capture through, from its inception to its close.

There were six boats in all, and ours the hindmost, but the whale--a
very large one--dove and came up nearest us, so that we got in the first
harpoon. Our harpooner, an athletic Yorkshireman, stood up in the bow of
the boat, and struck home in the broad back of the whale as it rose
above the water. The whale went down like lightning at the first prick
of the harpoon. The lines connected with the harpoon are carefully
coiled around in the middle of large tubs, with grooves at the bow for
them to slip over. When a whale dives, these lines run out with
indescribable swiftness. The groove fairly smokes, and several buckets
of water are always dashed upon it to prevent the boat from taking fire.
At the same time, a leg or an arm, caught in one of the coils, would be
almost certain death to the owner.

On the occasion of which I speak, one of the oarsmen, with his back to
the bow of the boat, had carelessly stepped into one of these tubs when
the whale was struck. Down went the whale with a flash and a whirlpool.
The man saw his danger, but too late, and just had time to sing out,
"Clear away the line!" when he was whipped overboard and was never seen
again.

We played havoc among the whalers for a long time, capturing as many as
thirty valuable vessels, and sending them home.

We met with a terrible squall when a few leagues north of Otaheite, and
weathered it with much difficulty. As it was, we sustained such damages
that it was imperative to make for some port for repairs. It wouldn't do
to enter Otaheite (Tahiti, it is sometimes called--probably the most
beautiful spot in the world in all respects) on account of British
influence prevailing there, so we set sail for the Sandwich
Islands--intending, if unable to procure the necessary repairs there, to
proceed to some port on the coast of California.



CHAPTER XII.

THE WATER-SPOUT--THE ONLY TRAGEDY ON BOARD THE QUEER FISH.


When we were about half-way to Honolulu--the chief island of the
Sandwich group--we had the monotony of our voyage broken by an adventure
with those dangerous phenomena of the ocean water-spouts. Early in the
morning, Dicky Drake, who was at the mast-head, descried a vessel to the
northeastward, and we immediately steered for her. We had come within a
mile or so, and easily made her out to be a brigantine--of what nation
we could not determine when the lookout again sung out:

"Water spouts on the larboard bow!"

We could see nothing of the kind at first, but the captain brought his
glasses to bear, and reported that the lookout was correct.

Presently every one could see them from the deck. They appeared far
away, like vast water-trees, growing from the sea to the sky, and
expanding there in funnel shape; but as they appeared to be going away
from us, we kept on our course, in order to overtake the brigantine.

The best definition of a water-spout represents it as a remarkable
natural phenomenon, usually observed over the sea, but sometimes over
the land. "It usually consists of a dense, black cloud, depending from
the sky in a conical form toward the earth. Sometimes it unites with a
corresponding portion, ascending from below, thus forming a continuous
column from the surface of the earth (or sea) to the cloud."

The genuine--destructive--water-spout, that of the sea, consists of
cloud thus partially depended from the sky, while the column which
ascends to meet it is of the ocean brine. An immense quantity of
water--probably many millions or billions of tons--is thus elevated to
an enormous hight above the surface--following the course of the cloud,
as it is driven by the wind, and falling, when deprived of the
cloud-suction above, with a force sufficient to crush to splinters the
combined navies of the world.

We had about lessened the interval between us and the stranger craft to
one-half, when we saw her suddenly 'bout ship and tack toward us with
all possible speed. This singular-conduct upon her part was soon
explained by our perceiving that the wind had changed, and that the
water spouts--of which there appeared to lie about a dozen--were bearing
down upon us, with a rapidity which was terrible.

We 'bout ship with all possible speed, and tacked away from the danger
with every stitch of canvas that we could cram. But our speed was as a
snail's pace compared to the awful swiftness of the scudding
water-spouts. In less than five minutes after we tacked, we were
completely surrounded by the terrible columns of smooth, up-lifted
brine, and we came almost to a standstill. It was a very terrible thing,
for, as the water-spouts reached our position, the gale died away, and
we, together with the strange brigantine, were left immediately in their
midst, until it appeared that we were about to be forever entombed in a
magnificent temple of pillared brine. For it was next to impossible to
steer clear of them, without bringing one of them upon our heads, by the
wind of our motion. They leaned to the eastward--still feeling the
influence of the gale that had just died away.

If we had been either altogether to the larboard or starboard of them,
we might have let them all down to their proper level by a few
cannon-shots, but, surrounded as we were, our predicament was most
distressing.

The water-spouts kept wheeling about us, slowly and silently. They were
vast, smooth, glassy columns of brine, reaching to the heavens, some of
them four or five feet in diameter in the most slender part.

At length, however, a broad opening was created to the southward and we,
throwing out our sweeps, made for it with the good will of men whose
lives are suspended upon the muscles of the arm. We reached it and were
soon out of danger of the _forest_ (so to speak) of water-spouts; but
several more were to be seen far to the southward, and we swung around
our swivel to send a shot in the midst of the multitude from which we
had just escaped.

Now here was a predicament, for the brigantine was unprovided with
sweeps, and, as there was not a breath of wind--a dead calm--was
compelled to remain where she was. In vain we signaled her to put out
her boats and attempt to tow out; she paid no attention to us whatever.
Through the telescope we could see her crew kneeling and praying upon
the deck. Her officers had evidently lost their presence of mind, and
piped all hands to prayers when work with a will might have saved her.

And now, to our anguish, a slight breath of air came from the northward.
It would freshen to a gale in ten minutes. We would again have the
watery labyrinth around us, with little hope of escape. What were we to
do? If we fired our guns we would envelope the unfortunate brigantine in
certain destruction; if we neglected to fire them we would, just as
certainly, involve the destruction of our own ship. It was one of those
hard questions of fatality where self-preservation is the only solution.

So, with a heavy heart, doubtless, the captain gave the order and our
Long Tom sent a shower of grape-shot and six-pounders among the
labyrinth of water-columns. The effect was grand and terrible.

Simultaneously with the report of the swivel the tops of the
water-spouts were seen to tremble, then to sway to and fro, and then,
down they came with the most terrific noise I ever heard in my life.

"Try up the main-to'gallants! All hands aloft! Steady, there, at the
helm! Port! hard a-port!" bawled our captain through his trumpet, and
his orders were just obeyed in time to allow us to breast the enormous
billows occasioned by the falling water-spouts, while we were all
drenched to the skin by the spray of their splash, although the one
which had stood nearest to us was fully half a mile away.

As for the stranger--the brigantine--she was never seen again. We never
saw a floating splinter of that ill-fated ship, whereby to tell the port
whence she came or whither she was bound.

       *       *       *       *       *

I come now to the most painful episode that was connected with the
cruise of our almost uniformly merry privateer, the Queer Fish. I have
had little of the painful--much of the glad and rollicking--to treat of
thus far, and would gladly spin my yarn to its termination as merrily as
I began. But truth directs me to a different course.

Besides, as this event which I am about to describe is about the only
one of a sorrowful character directly connected with the Queer Fish, it
may serve to throw the other features of my yarn into a more distinctly
cheerful light. Nevertheless, be that as it may, the truth must, like
murder, out at last, and here it is.

Little Willie Warner, our pet, the cabin-boy, had never totally
recovered from the effects of the accident we have narrated as having
befallen him. The climate was exceedingly bad as we approached the
latitude of the Sandwich Islands--much rain, followed by days of the
most intense tropic heat--and little Willie, probably from the cerebral
contusion he had formerly received, contracted a brain fever, which soon
brought him very low.

Roddy Prinn, as in the former instance, was permitted to devote all his
time to the duties of a nurse, and all of us did what we could. But, on
the morning of the fourth day of the fever, good Doctor Benedict
sorrowfully informed the captain that the days and hours of little
Willie Warner were numbered, and that the number was brief indeed.

We had noticed, from the commencement of this illness, that same
appearance of mysterious information, between the captain and the
doctor, which had before been indicated to us. And now, at this solemn
moment of the announcement of the approaching end of the sufferer, this
mystery was still more apparent.

The prognostication of the doctor proved only too true. Willie Warner
breathed his last before the set of sun.

Deeply grieved as was every one on the ship at this deplorable event,
there was one whose grief dwarfed all others in the magnitude of its
agony. This was Roddy Prinn. The poor fellow went almost insane. Above
all, he besought the captain to preserve the body of his little chum,
until our approach to the islands would enable us to accord a Christian
burial on land to the remains. But, as we were yet within a hundred and
fifty miles of our destination, compliance with this request was
rendered impossible.

Poor Roddy then waxed violent, but was only confined in the gun-room.
For, in keeping with the gentle treatment which Willie Warner had always
received from the captain, he (Roddy) was treated with an unaccountable
leniency. The poor fellow's mind was, undoubtedly, somewhat deranged
through his grief.

The day after the death of Willie Warner, the body of the little
cabin-boy was consigned to the deep.

It was a sad and impressive ceremony.

All the crew stood around, with their heads uncovered, preserving a deep
silence, while the funeral Service was read in measured tones by Doctor
Benedict. Then, with a heavy plunge, the shotted sack struck the blue
waters, and the form of him we had loved so much was lost to us forever.

On the same day, an excitement was created on shipboard by intelligence
that Roddy Prinn had attempted suicide, while in his confinement, he had
opened a vein in his arms, and was discovered by Doctor Benedict just in
time to be saved. As it was, he was almost exhausted through loss of
blood, and was not able to be about for some days afterward. He next
threw himself into the sea, out of the ports of the gun-room, but was
rescued by Snollygoster. Roddy then seemed to give up self-destruction
as a bad job, acted very reasonably, and was allowed to return to his
duty.

A few nights after this last attempt, it was my watch upon deck, and,
observing that Roddy was more melancholy than usual, I resolved to keep
a sharp eye upon him.

The night was one of surpassing beauty. I think I never saw so many
stars as studded the glorious vault upon that night; and, presently, the
moon, the broad, lucid, tropic moon rose above the ocean's edge, with a
luster by which you could have read small print with no difficulty. In
spite of myself, my attention was directed to the beauty of the heavens,
and was only called thence by the noise of a loud splash in the water,
over the starboard bow.

Instantly divining that Roddy had made another attempt at suicide, I
sung out, "Man overboard!" and ran to the bow.

We were completely becalmed, and, as the water was devoid of even a
ripple, I could see far down into the sea. And, looking down, I was not
long in discovering the figure of the unfortunate young man. Just then
the captain, first mate and Doctor Benedict came to the bows, and looked
over.

Snollygoster had also heard the splash, had also rightly conjectured the
cause, and was tearing off his coat and shoes, preparatory for a plunge
to the rescue.

One remarkable thing in the appearance of the figure below the water was
that it neither sunk any deeper, nor rose up, but appeared silently
suspended, face downward, at a distance of several fathoms below the
surface. We were at a loss to account for this singular phenomenon.

Suddenly Snollygoster went overboard with a sharp dive. The water was
shaken so much by the plunge that we, for a moment, lost sight of
everything below the surface. But the disturbance quickly faded out of
the glassy brine, and we could see both the silent form of the drowner
and the active figure of the would-be rescuer.

We saw Snolly keep under the water by great effort and skill, and
frequently touch the body to draw it to the surface, but it as often
resisted his efforts, floated about uneasily when disturbed, and then
settled down into quiescence, as before--with the head down, silently
suspended in the blue crystal of the sea. After repeated efforts, all of
which were unavailing, the heroic negro was compelled to come up to the
surface for breath.

"Try it once more--that is, if possible!" cried Doctor Benedict and down
again went the indefatigable rescuer.

We, this time, saw him tug with all his force at the suspended form of
Roddy Prinn. This time he was more successful; for suddenly, as if
relieved of some heavy weight, the body became wonderfully buoyant, and
swiftly rose to the surface of its own accord, whence, with the
assistance of Snollygoster and a line from the Queer Fish, it was
brought on deck. But all restoratives were of no avail. The suicide was
a _fait accompli_ at last, and Roddy Prinn was no more.

"What caused the body to come up so suddenly, Snolly?" asked Doctor
Benedict.

"Bekase, Massa Ben'dick, I shook out de t'irty-pound shot which it held
in de hands," was the reply.

It was true.

In order to be successful in drowning himself, the suicide, before
leaping over the taffrail into the sea, had firmly clutched in his two
hands a thirty-pound cannon-ball. This had kept him silently suspended
below the surface, until at last, the cannon-ball being shaken from its
hold by the rude grasp of the negro, the body had risen to the surface.

Whatever may be said of this singular suicide, it must be acknowledged
that Roddy displayed considerable resolution in carrying out his
intention.

Next day the body of this unfortunate young man was also consigned to
the deep. And then the mystery, which we had noticed to exist between
the captain and the doctor, leaked out, and became the property of all.

It became known that Willie Warner was not a man, but a woman, and that
Roddy Prinn was her husband.

They had shipped on board the Queer Fish at the Boston docks, and it was
only upon the occasion of the first sickness of the pseudo-cabin-boy
that her sex was revealed to the physician, and, through him, to the
captain.

The reasons which induced the lady to assume the disguise of a sailor
may have been known to the captain or doctor, but they never transpired
among the crew.

In consequence of this we had many preposterous rumors afloat--strange
stories wherein cruel parents, inexorable step-mothers, crimes committed
on land, and other wild theories as to the history of the lovers, whose
lives were so mysterious, and whose deaths were so melancholy and
strange.

But, however wild the stories may have been, and however far from the
real history of the lovers, we held their memory dear and sacred. And
while we remembered with gentle kindness the gentle disposition of Roddy
Prinn, our recollections of our pretty little cabin-boy, Willie Warner,
were mixed up with purity and sweetness.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE VOLCANO.


We must have been still fifty miles from our destination, when the
bright and continued light to the northward made it evident that the
volcanic mountain of the Sandwich Islands was in active operation.

No one was especially apprehensive of this, for chances to witness
volcanoes are not to be met with every day in the year.

As night came on, the light to the northward became more and more vivid,
and as we neared the islands, we could hear the roar of the volcano,
resembling the rumble of distant thunder.

We drew within ten knots of the scene, and then came to anchor on a
coral foundation--in water about twelve fathoms deep.

The scene of a great volcano, in process of eruption, is an event to be
remembered throughout one's immortality. Words can but faintly express
its grandeur, its terrible splendor. The painter's brush is powerless
here, even if wielded by the hand of genius.

The noise of the eruption was terrible as we cast anchor, and the waves
were running high, although there was but little wind. From this
circumstance we judged that the eruption was accompanied by an
earthquake of no ordinary character.

Imagine to yourselves a lofty mountain-peak, surrounded by many others
of lesser hight and magnitude, piled around, with their clothing of dark
and somber trees. Then fancy this central peak to become an instrument
for flooding the world with the original fire, and you may have some
faint conception of the grandeur of the scene we witnessed.

The stars, except at the horizon's edge, were completely dimmed by the
mighty effulgence of the blazing peak, or blotted out by the dense
volumes of smoke which drifted in the light breeze between the sea and
the heavens like a pall for the world.

The whole of that side of the peak presented to our view was a liquid
mass of red-hot lava. It rolled down the smooth slopes, or plunged from
the cliffs in cataracts of living flame. We could see the ocean boiling
along the horses as the hot rivers found their way to the water; and
millions of dead fishes floated by the ship on the surface of the sea.

The sides and rigging of the Queer Fish were thronged with the crew, who
gazed long upon the terrible but fascinating scene.

The smoke which poured in black volumes from the crater of the mountain
was usually intermingled with sheets of flame in about equal quantity;
but sometimes the smoke would preponderate so much as almost to shut out
the fire, while at others the crater would vomit flame alone, when the
glare would be so distressingly vivid that we were compelled to shield
our eyes with our hands.

The gray ashes emitted by the eruption must also have been very great,
for the deck of the ship was covered with a thin coating of it as it
drifted aboard like snow, being so fine and dense as to render the air
difficult to breathe.

The eruption continued all night, and as there appeared no evidence that
it would be likely soon to abate we hoisted anchor and sailed for
California on the following morning.



CHAPTER XIV.

CALIFORNIA IN EARLY TIMES.


We had succeeded much better than we had anticipated in making our own
repairs, so that our object in making for the port of Santa Barbara was
more to obtain fresh water and provisions than anything else.

Our passage to this little port was attended by some rough weather, but
on the whole we had not much to complain of throughout our entire
Pacific Ocean experience. We made two prizes on the way. One of them was
a British brig from the Columbia River of tolerable value; the other was
a rich whaler from Acapulco, on her way to the northern whale-fields,
but already half-full of excellent sperm; and we also captured a
schooner, but as she had nothing in her hold but ballast we permitted
her to pursue the even tenor of her way--not thinking her of sufficient
value to warrant our depleting our company by another prize-crew.

We arrived at Santa Barbara in the early part of January--just at the
close of the rainy season, and came to anchor close under the town, for
the harbor is deep.

California in the time of which I treat was far different from now. With
the exception of a few Mexican settlements along and near the coast, it
was nothing but wilderness. There was probably not a house where the
present fine and populous city of San Francisco stands, and very few
settlements in that neighborhood of the coast--the northern part of
which was but little known.

Santa Barbara was nothing but a collection of fifty or sixty adobe
houses, with a larger structure called (I could never understand why)
the Fort, in which the Mexican commandant of the place made his
residence. The coast range of the Rocky Mountains comes down close to
the water here and, back of the town, we could see lofty peaks uplift
themselves grandly (though not so lofty as in the case of Valparaiso),
some of them covered with perpetual snow. But their lower slopes are
fertile and sunny, and the natives had done a good deal in the raising
of vineyards upon them--terracing the steeps to prevent the soil from
washing down by the rains or the melting of the snows above.

Ships very seldom made a port of entry of Santa Barbara in those days,
and the arrival of the Queer Fish was quite an event among the
inhabitants, who treated us with uniform kindness.

As with the other inhabitants of Spanish America, hospitality is a
ruling and virtuous feature of the poor, ignorant Mexicans. Long after
the time I speak of, I traveled much among them, and was ever received
with the open arms of hospitable friendliness by even the most ignorant
and indigent among them.

We got excellent water at this place, as well as plenty of grapes and
other fruit.

As we remained here several weeks, we had many adventures on shore. One
of the most interesting of these occurred shortly after our coming to an
anchorage.

Old Bluefish and myself had obtained permission for a day on shore to
enjoy ourselves hunting, and having each of us procured an excellent
mustang, set off at a brisk pace in the early morning. We were not long
in getting through the mountains--wherein we saw several grizzlies which
were too far off to be attacked--and soon emerged from the defiles upon
the level plains that lie to the westward.

We halted for refreshments at a little town called San Fernandino, if I
remember rightly, and then proceeded on our way, through a colony of
marmots or prairie-dogs, intending or hoping to kill some antelope
farther on.

We had a first-rate day's sport, considering that we were sailors. We
killed three antelope and about a dozen of the large hares, which have
since won the name of jackass-rabbits. The name is not altogether
inappropriate--so far as it applies to the animal's ears, which are of
extraordinary length and size. The animals themselves are of the hare
species. They do not jump as a rabbit, but run as a fox, and with
surprising swiftness withal. They are very large, much larger than the
English hare, and are excellent eating.

It was growing late in the afternoon when we concluded to relinquish our
hunt, and return homeward. So we slung our game across the necks of our
steeds, and proceeded westward, over the faintly-distinguished trail
whereby we had come.

We had not traveled many miles before we witnessed a singular and novel
sight.

Old Bluefish called my attention to a great dust in our advance, which
we soon perceived to be caused by four Mexican hunters in pursuit of a
grizzly bear. We took our stand on a little eminence, and waited to see
the sport.

The bear could run almost as fast as the horses of his pursuers, and on
they all came at a terrific pace, the Mexicans shouting at the top of
their lungs and brandishing their lassoes at a great rate. We now saw
that their intention was to take his bearship alive.

Just as the grizzly came opposite our point of observation, one of the
Californians let his lariat fly, and, catching Bruin by the hind paw
tripped him up, while the rest of the horsemen began to circle round the
beast on their wild steeds, swinging their lariats, and watching for a
chance to noose the monster.

The latter rose up on his hind feet, clutched the line which held him,
and began to draw his entrapper toward him--horse and all. I never saw a
more striking instance of the great muscular strength of the grizzly
than this. He seemed to draw the horse and rider toward him with the
most perfect ease.

We expected to see the Californian draw his knife and cut the line
immediately, thus releasing himself from his unpleasant predicament. But
he did nothing of the kind. He retained his seat with the most perfect
coolness--exhibiting his exquisite horsemanship in so doing; for,
although the horse which he bestrode gave tokens of the utmost fright,
the horseman kept him in perfect subjection to his will, and calmly
allowed the bear to pull him forward inch by inch.

I was almost ready to yell out with excitement when I saw the fearless
horseman dragged up to within a few feet of the ferocious beast. But, at
this instant, whiz went another lariat through the air, and Bruin was
caught around the gullet and choked so taut that he could hardly
breathe. This caused him to release his hold on the line of his first
captor and make at the new assailant. But another noose quickly followed
the second, catching him by one of his forepaws, while his remaining
hind-foot was quickly caught up by the remaining hunter.

Poor Bruin was fairly in the toils, for his prodigious strength could
now avail him nothing.

The horsemen commenced circling around him on their swift and
well-trained steeds, in such a manner as to wind their long, stout
lariats of hide repeatedly round the body and limbs of their prey. When
he was no longer capable of effective exertion, the horsemen dismounted,
and completed their work by a few ingenious knots, so that the bear was
completely powerless.

A light wagon or cart, which had been waiting in the distance, then came
up, and, after a great deal of pulling and hauling and leverage, the
monster was safely loaded.

We now made our appearance, and made friends with the hunters, as well
as imperfect knowledge of their language would admit of. We were
surprised and gratified to learn that the bear had been entrapped for a
show--a bear and bull fight--which was to take place at Santa Barbara in
a few days.

So, as we all had one destination, we started homeward together, and
arrived at the town shortly after dark.



CHAPTER XV.

BULL VERSUS BEAR.


Two days after this, a great festival came off, and almost all the
people of the Queer Fish were on shore to see the fun.

Mexican holy days are a singular institution, if the one about to be
cited may be considered a fair sample of them all.

Church-going forms a small portion of the ceremonies. It is true, the
priests went through the town in the morning, jingling their little
bells, and asking for alms, while the people of the place almost
prostrated themselves before them, and the miserable old bell in the
belfry of the adobe cathedral kept up a dismal clang all the time, as if
tolling the burial service of all mankind. But then, a few hours later,
and the population were amusing themselves with firing off cannon at
imaginary demons in the air--the priests directing the guns to the
proper spots. I could not believe this at first, and it was only upon
diligent inquiry that I found it to be true. But I never before heard of
this duty being numbered among the sacerdotal functions of any
country--even those of Catholic persuasion.

Horse-racing was the next celebration in order, and we experienced
considerable pleasure in seeing the Californians compete with each other
on their swift steeds.

After the horse-racing came the bull and bear fight, in which old
Bluefish and myself evinced an especial interest.

A broad tract of sward was inclosed in palings and ropes, just outside
the town, on the ocean-shore. Long before the animals appeared, the
merry people of Santa Barbara crowded round this inclosure, smoking
their cigarettoes and having a good time generally, while the
distinguished visitors from the Queer Fish were allotted a good place of
observation underneath a little pavilion, which was reared at the
command, and for the benefit, of the commandant and his family.

We waited a good while, but it was almost sunset, and the heat was not
oppressive. At last, amid the cheers of the populace, the cart appeared
bearing the grizzly. He was driven, still bound, within the inclosure,
and there dumped unceremoniously upon the ground. Then the bull, a very
fine and ferocious one, was driven into the inclosure. While he was
prancing and bellowing about, taking his "bearings," the strong gates of
the palisades were closed, and one of the Californians, who officiated,
proceeded to cut the thongs which fettered the bear, by means of a knife
made fast to the end of a long pole, thus enabling him to perform the
operation and stand outside the stockade at the same time.

Released from his long confinement, Bruin staggered to his feet and
stretched himself. He was pretty soon himself again, and now began to
eye the bull with suspicious glances, keeping on the opposite side of
the ring, and not seeming especially anxious for a nearer acquaintance.
The bull appeared somewhat more belligerent, but likewise averse to
commence the fight. He would advance this way and that, pawing the
ground and lashing his flanks with his angry tail, while the great
bear--which probably outweighed his antagonist by several hundred
pounds, although he was not quite so bulky--shifted as the bull did,
keeping his nose close to the ground, but apparently ready for any
emergency.

The ceremony of making each other's acquaintance becoming rather tedious
to the impatient spectators, the latter began to yell and shriek in a
hideous manner, in the apparent hope of inducing a commencement of the
scrimmage. But both bull and bear still being wary and cautious, the man
who had cut the thongs of the former commenced to goad, now the bull and
then the bear with his pole-knife.

This had the desired effect, for presently the bull lowered his horns,
and rushed upon the bear with a fierce bellow. Bruin took it coolly,
stood on his hind legs, avoided the coming horns, and fetched his
antagonist such a wipe with one of his terrible forepaws that the bull
staggered back to his side of the arena, with one side of his neck raw
and bloody.

But Bruin, elated with his success, no doubt, forgot his caution, and
followed up his antagonist, fetching him another wipe between the hips,
but receiving, in his turn, one of the formidable horns under his left
shoulder, which seemed to paralyze one of his paws. He then retreated in
his turn, walking on three feet, and watching the bull with a
distrustful wariness.

The spectators were very much excited at this exhibition, and began to
make wagers as to the result of the combat. But I took notice that
almost all of them preferred to bet on the bull.

At length the bull lowered his head again and made another rush, but
only to be repulsed a second time by his powerful antagonist. But this
time the "round" was much more protracted than before, and both of the
beasts were much injured.

The bear moved about with evident pain, but his injuries were more of
the character of bruises than otherwise, while those of the bull
occasioned much loss of blood, the effects of which were already
beginning to tell painfully upon him. His courage was sublime. He did
all the attacking, charging repeatedly, in spite of the terrible
slashing he received from the forepaw of the grizzly, until at last both
of his sides were streaming with gore, and his eyes were almost blinded
with his blood.

But now the bull, evidently feeling that his strength would soon be
exhausted, gathered himself up for a prodigious effort, and sprung upon
his adversary with the momentum of a locomotive.

In vain did Bruin lash out with those long sharp talons of his; the bull
would not be denied, and goring him to the ground, fairly pinned him to
the earth. One of his horns held the bear by the neck and the other
pierced deeply into his breast. The bear bellowed with pain and fought
with all his paws, but his struggles grew gradually feebler, and the
bull held him down bravely, until at last the movements of Bruin ceased
altogether, a token that he breathed no more.

Then, and only then, did the bull extract his horns from the fallen body
and lift his bloody head. The plaudits of the spectators rung loud, but
the brave animal only staggered a few paces, when he fell in the center
of the arena and expired. His victory had cost him his life.



CHAPTER XVI.

ACAPULCO--ANOTHER YARN FROM BLUEFISH.


After a delay of a week or more with our friends at Santa Barbara we
weighed anchor one bright morning in the middle of January and started
southward for Acapulco, intending to pick up what prizes might chance to
cross our path on the way thither.

But our passage southward was scarcely broken by a single event so
important as the capture of a British trader. We had splendid weather
all the way down.

When off Cape St. Lucas I for the first time witnessed that phenomenon
of the desert and of the ocean which is denominated a mirage. It
happened just about an hour before sunset. The day had been
characterized by a peculiar kind of haze ever since noon. This silvery
haze or vapor completely banked the western horizon, and was smitten by
the beams of the descending sun into many beautiful hues, when--about
the time before mentioned--the lookout suddenly sung out:

"A sail on the larboard bow!" then again in a few seconds:

"A sail on the starboard bow!"

At last he sung out in a tone of amazement:

"Sails all around the ships!"

This was true enough, but they were visionary sails, not on the ocean,
but high up in the misty air, and probably belonging to those vessels
which came to the poet in his visions, when he


     "Saw the heavens fill with commerce, argosies of magic sails,
     Pilots of the purple twilight, dropping down with costly bales;
     Heard the heavens fill with shouting, and there rained a ghastly dew
     From the nations' airy navies grappling in the central blue."


Some of these visionary vessels were very distinctly seen, with men on
their decks and flags flying, but, as the apparitions were colorless, of
course, the character of the airy flags could not be determined. We were
almost becalmed while we were the witnesses of this strange phenomenon,
and we had an hour or so to observe it in. But, as the night began to
fall, an easterly gale sprung up, and, in a few moments, our "airy
navies" vanished away.

We arrived at Acapulco, after a prosperous voyage of only a few days'
duration, and remained there two days.

Acapulco was much then as it is now. It is a very solidly-built place,
resembling Panama in this, and is possessed of more than one handsome
ecclesiastical building. The bay of Acapulco is one of the finest in the
world--by far _the_ finest in America. It is well sheltered, is
capacious, deep and excellent in every respect. The region around
Acapulco equals any in Mexico in point of fertility. Almost every
tropical fruit flourishes profusely, and most of us were down somewhat
with dysentery, through indulging too freely.

Our ship was surrounded most of the time while in port by natives, most
of them children, who almost live in the water. Probably no people in
the world--except, perhaps, the natives of the South Sea Islands--are
so much at home in the water as these Mexicans of the Southwest Coast.
They would swim and dance in the water around us by the hour, begging to
have some one toss a shilling to them. I have repeatedly tossed a small
silver coin overboard into the sea, when one of these children of the
waters would dive like a fish, catch the coveted coin before it reached
a depth of many fathoms, return to the surface, display it triumphantly,
and then put it in his mouth for safe-keeping and clamor for some one to
try him again with a similar bribe.

The people are very ignorant, contented and happy. They have few or no
cares to distract their attention. Their wherewithal of subsistance
grows on the trees above their heads; and for clothing--they wear so
little that it can hardly be taken into account as an item of expense.

We intended to sail from Acapulco on a certain day in the latter part of
January, but a severe storm sprung up in the afternoon which made it
much more prudent to lie for a while longer under the shelter of the
excellent harborage in which we were. Nevertheless all hands were got
aboard ship and everything put in readiness for a start on the morrow,
wind and weather permitting.

It was on this evening, when a number of us were merrily gathered round
our table in the forecastle discussing our grog and pipes, that old
Bluefish, upon earnest solicitation, spun us one of his exceedingly
improbable yarns.

Clearing his throat with a long pull at his glass of rum, and lighting a
fresh pipe, he commenced his yarn of


THE PHANTOM SHIP.

"P'r'aps most on yer," said he, "has hearn tell on the Phantom Ship, but
I'll bet my old boots ag'in' a new tarpaulin and westcut that none on
yer ever was aboard o' that craft, as my mother's son was, in the person
of myself. Howsomedever that is neither this way nor that, for I must
pick up the eend of my yarn at a shorter beginning.

"It happened all along o' the schooner Jolly Admiral. I was a cabin-boy
on her. We had been to Hong Kong for a load o' tea and was somewhar
atwixt Bombay and the Cape of Good Hope on a bright moonlight night in
the month of June when we first see'd the Phantom Ship. We didn't know
her true character until we came within a quarter of a mile of her and
saw her flimsy, threadbare canvas and the devil's blue-lights burning on
her bowsprit and after-jib. We could see the captain and the crew going
about on her in a ghostly sort of way. They all looked very melancholy
and didn't pay any attention to us whatsoever.

"We could hear their voices, too, and jist let me tell yer, if you had
heard them 'ere voices you wouldn't want to do it ag'in in a hurry.
Well, all of a sudden, although there warn't no breeze to speak of, the
sails of the Phantom Ship bellied out, and away she scudded to the
southward like a streak of blue thunder stuffed with lightning, leaving
us jist nowhars at all.

"We was somewhat taken aback, but not so much surprised nuther, for, yer
see, we had been made acquainted with the fact that them 'ere seas was
particularly haunted by the devil's craft, and we was, therefore, sort
of prepared for meeting her. But somehow, as soon as the critters faded
away from our sight I jist whispers to myself, 'If ever I gits the
chance I'm going to board that 'ere craft, or I ain't a Bluefish, but
only a blarsted mackerel.'

"It warn't long afore I had the chance. Only two nights arter the one
aforesaid, the sea was swept by one of them 'ere orful hurricanes or
simooms as is nat'ral to them parts. Although we was pretty well
prepared to meet it, the darned thing struck us so suddenly that we was
almost throwed on our beam-eends. The night grew as black as pitch. You
couldn't 'a'see'd your hand afore your face if you was as white as a
snowdrift. I never see'd, afore or since, sich orful waves. You'd go
down inter the hollers of 'em and think you'd never come up ag'in. And
the wind--well, it's no use tryin' to describe one o' them 'ere simooms.
Suffice ter say that it lifted us clean out of the sea more than once,
and sometimes carried us, like a Mother Carey's chicken, for a mile or
two over the waves, without our keel touchin' a single crest."

"Is this story true?" I here interposed, with a solemn voice, quite
aghast at the imagination of the old salt.

"In course it is, yer lubberly son of a sea-cook! Does yer suppose a
cove as old as I be would tell yer anything as wasn't right-down
genuine?

"As I was a-sayin', the force of the wind was orful. Howsomdever, we had
as jolly a little craft as ever cut blue water, and we weathered it
bravely. Sometimes, when the wind would sort of sink away a little, we
would drive right through the big waves, until even our main-tops were
all under water; but, as our hatches were clewed down and our deck was
pretty tight, we allers came out of our bath as fresh as ever. Then the
gale would start up again, and away we would go over the tops of the
waves.

"It was on one of these occasions that our lookout sung out, 'Lights on
the starboard bow!' In course, we was all curious enough at first; but,
jist as we rose up on a big crest, what should we see but the Phantom
Ship, holdin' right across our course, and we jist ready to run inter
her larboard bulwarks with the next pitch we made. She had all her blue
lights burnin', and there was a sort of yaller haze all around her.
Notwithstandin' we was under bare poles, and found it hard work to keep
from bein' blown skywards at that, the stranger had every stitch of
canvas spread, and didn't seem to suffer anywise nuther. We hadn't time
to make many observations, howsomdever, before we struck the cussed
thing right in her side, and began to shoot through her, jist as if she
was made of smoke. I was standin' in the bows of the Jolly Admiral at
the time. 'Now or never!' I sings out to myself; and, simultaneous, I
made a jump and caught the ratlin's of the stranger, while the Jolly
Admiral passed on her way and left me swingin' like a pendulum in the
air.

"I fell down on the deck of the stranger, but immejiately resumed my
legs and took a survey of things in gineral. All the crew moped about
the deck, attendin' to their duties, while the captain bellered out his
orders through a trumpet made of condensed wind, lined with p'izen and
streaks of lightning.

"At first none on 'em paid any attention to me. But at last the first
mate--an orful-lookin' cuss--came right up to me, grabbed me by the
gullet, and dragged me to the quarter-deck, and stood me up afore the
skipper of the Phantom Ship.

"'Here, Cap,' says he, 'is a little cuss of a cabin-boy, as was left
behind by that infernal craft as jist ran through us.'

"(I forgot to mention as how the hole, which the Jolly Admiral made in
passin' through the stranger, healed itself up ag'in in the most
supernatural way in the world.)

"Well, the phantom skipper looked at me a moment without sayin' a word,
even so much as a civil 'How d'ye do?' He was the orfulest-lookin' cuss
it was ever my fortin' to stumble across. His flippers were those of a
skeleton, and his head was a reg'lar death's head, with eyes as burned
like two coals of fire, while a pair o' cross bones was suspended across
his bosom. I suppose they was some sort o' medals given the cuss on
account o' meritorious conduct. At length the critter spoke to me, an'
his voice was orful strange. You could hear it very distinctly, but it
sort o' seemed to come from a long ways off, jist like the voice of a
speerit.

"'What's the name o' that 'ere ship what jist ran through us?' says he,
in a melancholy way.

"'Please yer Honor,' says I, respectfully touchin' my cap, 'it warn't a
ship, but a schooner--the Jolly Admiral of New Bedford.'

"'Ha, boy,' says he, 'dostest thou dare to banter me with thy jokes.
Howsomdever, what's your name?'

"'Bluefish,' says I.

"'The son of old Sol Bluefish of Nantucket, the man as was hanged?' says
he.

"'The same,' says I.

"'Ha! is it indeed so?' he ejaculated, leanin' his chin on his breast,
in a meditatin' mood. 'He was a nice man,' he added; 'he was also a
particular friend o' mine.'

"'Allow me to take your flipper,' says I, puttin' on a free-and-easy
air. 'It allers gives me a vast amount of pleasure to meet any one as
was on good terms with the old man.'

"With that, I grabbed him by the bony hand, but immediately let the
thing drop like a piece of a thunderbolt, for it burned like a coal of
fire. He contemplated me with an affectionate smile.

"'Yes,' said he, 'I knowed the old man well. And how's your mother? Do
you know,' says he, 'I came mighty near marryin' that gal once myself?'

"'God forbid!' says I, with a unconscious shudder.

"When I said these 'ere words, the skipper's knees trembled, and he
almost fainted away.

"'Young man,' says he, slowly recoverin' himself, 'be very careful how
you utters the name o' that individual on this 'ere ship, or we'll all
be knocked into the middle of kingdom come. Tell me,' says he, 'what was
your object in boardin' this 'ere craft?'

"'I was jist sort o' curious ter see about the state of yer health,'
says I. 'And now, if its all the same to you, suppose you put me
ashore.'

"'Thou hastest thy wish, my son,' says he, in a kindly voice. And with
that he taps me gently over the head with that 'ere trumpet of his, and
I immediately sunk inter a deep state of non-sensibility.

"When I woke, I found myself sleeping quietly in my hammock on board the
Jolly Admiral, and when I tells my story, all on 'em laughs at me, and
even denies that there was any Phantom Ship at all.

"But, in course, that didn't make no difference to me, since it was all
true."

"It was a dream," suggested Tony Trybrace.

"Certainly," said I.

"Avast, yer lubbers! Doesn't I know as what I knows?"

And with this conclusive argument, Bluefish "turned in."



CHAPTER XVII.

HOMEWARD BOUND.


The next day, the tempest having abated, and everything being snug on
board the Queer Fish, we weighed anchor, took the northeasterly trades
on our top-gallants, and started on our return round the Cape.

Every one was exceedingly jolly, as is usually the case on board a
vessel homeward bound, after a long and prosperous voyage.

Very little occurred worth recording. We didn't meet with a single prize
on our way to the Cape, but had another merry time with our Patagonian
friends.

On the voyage up, on the Atlantic side, however, we captured four more
prizes, one of them a very large and valuable ship, loaded down almost
to the gunwales with coffee and spices.

When off the Bahama Banks, we were chased by a fast-sailing British
war-vessel, and had our mizzen-top knocked off by her bow-chasers. But
we successfully returned the compliment with our swivel, and, as nothing
could overhaul the Queer Fish before a stiff breeze, succeeded in making
our escape.

We arrived at Boston in the early part of March, after one of the most
memorably successful voyages on record. Our prizes numbered thirty-six
in all, and, of these, all but one safely reached American seaports.

So, with our pockets stuffed with prize-money, you may guess that we had
a jolly time. My yarn is over, and you will hear no more at present from
The Boy Privateer.


THE END.


FOOTNOTE:

[1] _Matadore_ is a name applied generally to the men who attack the
bull, either on horse or on foot; but the distinctive and legitimate
meaning of the term applies to those footmen who carry swords and whose
office is especially that of the _coup de grace_.



Beadle's Half-Dime Library.


BY T. J. FLANAGAN.

     +909 Midshipman Dare, the Pirate Catcher.+

     +925 The Young Cowboy Captain.+

     +933 The Two Midshipmen+; or, The Corsair-Chaser's First Cruise.

     +949 The Three Lieutenants.+

     +959 The Mascot Middy+; or, The Four Commanders.

     +966 Fighting Jack Shubrick.+

     +972 Fighting Jack's Middies+; or, Dandy Dick's Dash.

     +999 Jack Lung+, the Privateer Rover.


NEW ISSUES.

     +1016 The Boy Bugler in Cuba+; or, The Cowboy Clan On Deck. By Col.
     P. Ingraham.

     +1017 Detective Matt's Man-Hunt+; or, Downing the Desperate Dozen.
     By Ned St. Meyer.

     +1018 Deadwood Dick, Jr.'s, Big Four.+ By E. L. Wheeler.

     +1019 Burd Bayard's Close Call.+ By Capt. Hawthorne.

     +1020 Barney Blake+, the Boy Privateer. By H. Johnstone.

     +1021 Doctor Paul, Detective.+ By Leon Lewis.

     +1022 Dean Dangerfields's Desperate Game.+ By Maj. Dangerfield Burr.


JUST ISSUED.

     +1010 Kit Bandy's Big Six+; or, The Rustlers of Jackson Basin. By
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     +1011 Deadwood Dick, Jr.'s, Dutch Pard+; or, Rooting Out the Rascals
     of Skeleton Gorge. By E. L. Wheeler.

     +1012 The Cripple's Dead-Sure Clinch+; or, Trapping the Old Fraud.
     By Charles Morris.

     +1013 Buffalo Bill's Texas Team.+ By Col. P. Ingraham.

     +1014 Middy Ned+, the Runaway; or, Hairbreadth Escapes Afloat and
     Ashore. By T. J. Flanagan.

     +1015 The Reporter-Detective's Big Pull.+ By Wm. P. Brown.


A New Issue Every Tuesday.

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copy, or sent by mail on receipt of six cents each.


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