Part 2 out of 10
"Why is everybody so still and seemingly so anxious, Harry Mulford?"
she asked, speaking in a low tone herself, as if desirous of
conforming to a common necessity. "Is there any new danger here? I
thought the Gate had been passed altogether, some hours ago?"
"So it has. D'ye see that large dark mass on the water, off the
Point, which seems almost as huge as the fort, with lights above it?
That is a revenue-steamer which came out of York a few hours before
us. We wish to get past her without being troubled by any of her
"And what do any in this brig care about her questions? They can be
"Ay, ay, Rose--they may be answered, as you say, but the answers
sometimes are unsatisfactory. Captain Spike, for some reason or
other, is uneasy, and would rather not have anything to say to her.
He has the greatest aversion to speaking the smallest craft when on
"And that's the reason he has undressed his Molly, as he calls her,
that he might not be known."
Mulford turned his head quickly toward his companion, as if
surprised by her quickness of apprehension, but he had too just a
sense of his duty to make any reply. Instead of pursuing the
discourse, he adroitly contrived to change it, by pointing out to
Rose the manner in which they were getting on, which seemed to be
Although the Swash was under much reduced canvas, she glided along
with great ease and with considerable rapidity of motion. The heavy
night air kept her canvas distended, and the weatherly set of the
tide, trifling as it yet was, pressed her up against the breeze, so
as to turn all to account. It was apparent enough, by the manner in
which objects on the land were passed, that the crisis was fast
approaching. Rose rejoined her aunt, in order to await the result,
in nearly breathless expectation. At that moment, she would have
given the world to be safe on shore. This wish was not the
consequence of any constitutional timidity, for Rose was much the
reverse from timid, but it was the fruit of a newly-awakened and
painful, though still vague, suspicion. Happy, thrice happy was it
for one of her naturally confiding and guileless nature, that
distrust was thus opportunely awakened, for she was without a
guardian competent to advise and guide her youth, as circumstances
The brig was not long in reaching the passage that opened to the
Sound. It is probable she did this so much the sooner because Spike
kept her a little off the wind, with a view of not passing too near
the steamer. At this point, the direction of the passage changes at
nearly a right angle, the revenue-steamer lying on a line with the
Neck, and leaving a sort of bay, in the angle, for the Swash to
enter. The land was somewhat low in all directions but one, and that
was by drawing a straight line from the Point, through the steamer,
to the Long Island shore. On the latter, and in that quarter, rose a
bluff of considerable elevation, with deep water quite near it; and,
under the shadows of that bluff, Spike intended to perform his
nicest evolutions. He saw that the revenue vessel had let her fires
go down, and that she was entirely without steam. Under canvas, he
had no doubt of beating her hand over hand, could he once fairly get
to windward; and then she was at anchor, and would lose some time in
getting under way, should she even commence a pursuit. It was all
important, therefore, to gain as much to windward as possible,
before the people of the government vessel took the alarm.
There can be no doubt that the alterations made on board the Swash
served her a very good turn on this occasion. Although the night
could not be called positively dark, there was sufficient obscurity
to render her hull confused and indistinct at any distance, and this
so much the more when seen from the steamer outside, or between her
and the land. All this Spike very well understood, and largely
calculated on. In effect he was not deceived; the look-outs on board
the revenue craft could trace little of the vessel that was
approaching beyond the spars and sails which rose above the shores,
and these seemed to be the spars and sails of a common foretopsail
schooner. As this was not the sort of craft for which they were on
the watch, no suspicion was awakened, nor did any reports go from
the quarter-deck to the cabin. The steamer had her quarter watches,
and officers of the deck, like a vessel of war, the discipline of
which was fairly enough imitated, but even a man-of-war may be
overreached on an occasion.
Spike was only great in a crisis, and then merely as a seaman. He
understood his calling to its minuti‘, and he understood the Molly
Swash better than he understood any other craft that floated. For
more than twenty years had he sailed her, and the careful parent
does not better understand the humours of the child, than he
understood exactly what might be expected from his brig. His
satisfaction sensibly increased, therefore, as she stole along the
land, toward the angle mentioned, without a sound audible but the
gentle gurgling of the water, stirred by the stem, and which sounded
like the ripple of the gentlest wave, as it washes the shingle of
some placid beach.
As the brig drew nearer to the bluff, the latter brought the wind
more ahead, as respected the desired course. This was unfavourable,
but it did not disconcert her watchful commander.
"Let her come round, Mr. Mulford," said this pilot-captain, in a low
voice--"we are as near in as we ought to go."
The helm was put down, the head sheets started, and away into the
wind shot the Molly Swash, fore-reaching famously in stays, and, of
course, gaining so much on her true course. In a minute she was
round, and filled on the other tack. Spike was now so near the land,
that he could perceive the tide was beginning to aid him, and that
his weatherly set was getting to be considerable. Delighted at this,
he walked aft, and told Mulford to go about again as soon as the
vessel had sufficient way to make sure of her in stays. The mate
inquired if he did not think the revenue people might suspect
something, unless they stood further out toward mid-channel, but
Spike reminded him that they would be apt to think the schooner was
working up under the southern shore, because the ebb first made
there. This reason satisfied Mulford, and, as soon as they were
half-way between the bluff and the steamer, the Swash was again
tacked, with her head to the former. This manoeuvre was executed
when the brig was about two hundred yards from the steamer, a
distance that was sufficient to preserve, under all the
circumstances, the disguise she had assumed.
"They do not suspect us, Harry!" whispered Spike to his mate. "We
shall get to windward of 'em, as sartain as the breeze stands. That
boatin' gentleman might as well have staid at home, as for any good
his hurry done him or his employers!"
"Whom do you suppose him to be, Captain Spike?"
"Who,--a feller that lives by his own wicked deeds. No matter who he
is. An informer, perhaps. At any rate, he is not the man to outwit
the Molly Swash, and her old, stupid, foolish master and owner,
Stephen Spike. Luff, Mr. Mulford, luff. Now's the time to make the
most of your leg--Luff her up and shake her. She is setting to
windward fast, the ebb is sucking along that bluff like a boy at a
molasses hogshead. All she can drift on this tack is clear gain;
there is no hurry, so long as they are asleep aboard the steamer.
That's it--make a half-board at once, but take care and not come
round. As soon as we are fairly clear of the bluff, and open the bay
that makes up behind it, we shall get the wind more to the
southward, and have a fine long leg for the next stretch."
Of course Mulford obeyed, throwing the brig up into the wind, and
allowing her to set to windward, but filling again on the same tack,
as ordered. This, of course, delayed her progress toward the land,
and protracted the agony, but it carried the vessel in the direction
she most wished to go, while it kept her not only end on to the
steamer, but in a line with the bluff, and consequently in the
position most favourable to conceal her true character. Presently,
the bay mentioned, which was several miles deep, opened darkly
toward the south, and the wind came directly out of it, or more to
the southward. At this moment the Swash was near a quarter of a mile
from the steamer, and all that distance dead to windward of her, as
the breeze came out of the bay. Spike tacked his vessel himself now,
and got her head up so high that she brought the steamer on her lee
quarter, and looked away toward the island which lies northwardly
from the Point, and quite near to which all vessels of any draught
of water are compelled to pass, even with the fairest winds.
"Shake the reef out of the mainsail, Mr. Mulford," said Spike, when
the Swash was fairly in motion again on this advantageous tack. "We
shall pass well to windward of the steamer, and may as well begin to
open our cloth again."
"Is it not a little too soon, sir?" Mulford ventured to remonstrate;
"the reef is a large one, and will make a great difference in the
size of the sail."
"They'll not see it at this distance. No, no, sir, shake out the
reef, and sway away on the topgallant-mast rope; I'm for bringing
the Molly Swash into her old shape again, and make her look handsome
"Do you dress the brig, as well as undress her, o'mights; Captain
Spike?" inquired the ship-master's reliet, a little puzzled with
this fickleness of purpose. "I do not believe my poor Mr. Budd ever
"Fashions change, madam, with the times--ay, ay, sir--shake out the
reef, and sway away on that mast-rope, boys, as soon as you have
manned it. We'll convart our schooner into a brig again."
As these orders were obeyed, of course, a general bustle now took
place. Mulford soon had the reef out, and the sail distended to the
utmost, while the topgallant-mast was soon up and fidded. The next
thing was to sway upon the fore-yard, and get that into its place.
The people were busied at this duty, when a hoarse hail came across
the water on the heavy night air.
"Brig ahoy!" was the call.
"Sway upon that fore-yard," said Spike, unmoved by this
summons--"start it, start it at once."
"The steamer hails us, sir," said the mate.
"Not she. She is hailing a brig; we are a schooner yet."
A moment of active exertion succeeded, during which the fore-yard
went into its place. Then came a second hail.
"Schooner, ahoy!" was the summons this time.
"The steamer hails us again, Captain Spike."
"The devil a bit. We're a brig now, and she hails a schooner. Come
boys, bestir yourselves, and get the canvas on Molly for'ard. Loose
the fore-course before you quit the yard there, then up aloft and
loosen everything you can find."
All was done as ordered, and done rapidly, as is ever the case on
board a well-ordered vessel when there is occasion for exertion.
That occasion now appeared to exist in earnest, for while the men
were sheeting home the topsail, a flash of light illuminated the
scene, when the roar of a gun came booming across the water,
succeeded by the very distinct whistling of its shot. We regret that
the relict of the late Captain Budd did not behave exactly as became
a shipmaster's widow, under fire. Instead of remaining silent and
passive, even while frightened, as was the case with Rose, she
screamed quite as loud as she had previously done that very day in
Hell-Gate. It appeared to Spike, indeed, that practice was making
her perfect; and, as for Biddy, the spirit of emulation became so
powerful in her bosom, that, if anything, she actually outshrieked
her mistress. Hearing this, the widow made a second effort, and
fairly recovered the ground some might have fancied she had lost.
"Oh! Captain Spike," exclaimed the agitated widow, "do not--do not,
if you love me, do not let them fire again!"
"How am I to help it!" asked the captain, a good deal to the point,
though he overlooked the essential fact, that, by heaving-to, and
waiting for the steamer's boat to board him, he might have prevented
a second shot, as completely as if he had the ordering of the whole
affair. No second shot was fired, however. As it afterward appeared,
the screams of Mrs. Budd and Biddy were heard on board the steamer,
the captain of which, naturally enough, supposing that the slaughter
must be terrible where such cries had arisen, was satisfied with the
mischief he had already done, and directed his people to secure
their gun and go to the capstan-bars, in order to help lift the
anchor. In a word, the revenue vessel was getting under way,
man-of-war fashion, which means somewhat expeditiously.
Spike understood the sounds that reached him, among which was the
call of the boatswain, and he bestirred himself accordingly.
Experienced as he was in chases and all sorts of nautical artifices,
he very well knew that his situation was sufficiently critical. It
would have been so, with a steamer at his heels, in the open ocean;
but, situated as he was, he was compelled to steer but one course,
and to accept the wind on that course as it might offer. If he
varied at all in his direction it was only in a trifling way, though
he did make some of these variations. Every moment was now precious,
however, and he endeavoured to improve the time to the utmost. He
knew that he could greatly outsail the revenue vessel, under canvas,
and some time would be necessary to enable her to get up her steam;
half an hour at the very least. On that half hour, then, depended
the fate of the Molly Swash.
"Send the booms on the yards, and set stun'sails at once, Mr.
Mulford," said Spike, the instant the more regular canvas was spread
forward. "This wind will be free enough for all but the lower
stun'sail, and we must drive the brig on."
"Are we not looking up too high, Captain Spike? The Stepping-Stones
are ahead of us, sir."
"I know that very well, Mulford. But it's nearly high water, and the
brig's in light trim, and we may rub and go. By making a short cut
here, we shall gain a full mile on the steamer; that mile may save
"Do you really think it possible to get away from that craft, which
can always make a fair wind of it, in these narrow waters, Captain
"One don't know, sir. Nothin' is done without tryin', and by tryin'
more is often done than was hoped for. I have a scheme in my head,
and Providence may favour me in bringing it about."
Providence! The religionist quarrels with the philosopher if the
latter happen to remove this interposition of a higher power, even
so triflingly as by the intervention of secondary agencies, while
the biggest rascal dignifies even his success by such phrases as
Providential aid! But it is not surprising men should misunderstand
terms, when they make such sad confusion in the acts which these
terms are merely meant to represent. Spike had his Providence as
well as a priest, and we dare say he often counted on its succour,
with quite as rational grounds of dependence as many of the
pharisees who are constantly exclaiming, "The Temple of the Lord,
the Temple of the Lord are these."
Sail was made on board the Swash with great rapidity, and the brig
made a bold push at the Stepping-Stones. Spike was a capital pilot.
He insisted if he could once gain sight of the spar that was moored
on those rocks for a buoy, he should run with great confidence. The
two lights were of great assistance, of course; but the revenue
vessel could see these lights as well as the brig, and she,
doubtless, had an excellent pilot on board. By the time the
studding-sails were set on board the Swash, the steamer was aweigh,
and her long line of peculiar sails became visible. Unfortunately
for men who were in a hurry, she lay so much within the bluff as to
get the wind scant, and her commander thought it necessary to make a
stretch over to the southern shore, before he attempted to lay his
course. When he was ready to tack, an operation of some time with a
vessel of her great length, the Swash was barely visible in the
obscurity, gliding off upon a slack bowline, at a rate which nothing
but the damp night air, the ballast-trim of the vessel, united to
her excellent sailing qualities, could have produced with so light a
The first half hour took the Swash completely out of sight of the
steamer. In that time, in truth, by actual superiority in sailing,
by her greater state of preparation, and by the distance saved by a
bold navigation, she had gained fully a league on her pursuer. But,
while the steamer had lost sight of the Swash, the latter kept the
former in view, and that by means of a signal that was very
portentous. She saw the light of the steamer's chimneys, and could
form some opinion of her distance and position.
It was about eleven o'clock when the Swash passed the light at
Sands' Point, close in with the land. The wind stood much as it had
been. If there was a change at all, it was half a point more to the
southward, and it was a little fresher. Such as it was, Spike saw he
was getting, in that smooth water, quite eight knots out of his
craft, and he made his calculations thereon. As yet, and possibly
for half an hour longer, he was gaining, and might hope to continue
to gain on the steamer. Then her turn would come. Though no great
traveller, it was not to be expected that, favoured by smooth water
and the breeze, her speed would be less than ten knots, while there
was no hope of increasing his own without an increase of the wind.
He might be five miles in advance, or six at the most; these six
miles would be overcome in three hours of steaming, to a dead
certainty, and they might possibly be overcome much sooner. It was
obviously necessary to resort to some other experiment than that of
dead sailing, if an escape was to be effected.
The Sound was now several miles in width, and Spike, at first,
proposed to his mate, to keep off dead before the wind, and by
crossing over to the north shore, let the steamer pass ahead, and
continue a bootless chase to the eastward. Several vessels, however,
were visible in the middle of the passage, at distances varying from
one to three miles, and Mulford pointed out the hopelessness of
attempting to cross the sheet of open water, and expect to go unseen
by the watchful eyes of the revenue people.
"What you say is true enough, Mr. Mulford," answered Spike, after a
moment of profound reflection, "and every foot that they come
nearer, the less will be our chance. But here is Hempstead Harbour a
few leagues ahead; if we can reach that before the blackguards
close, we may do well enough. It is a deep bay, and has high land to
darken the view. I don't think the brig could be seen at midnight by
anything outside; if she was once fairly up that water a mile or
"That is our chance, sir!" exclaimed Mulford cheerfully. "Ay, ay, I
know the spot; and everything is favourable--try that, Captain
Spike; I'll answer for it that we go clear."
Spike did try it. For a considerable time longer he stood on,
keeping as close to the land as he thought it safe to run, and
carrying everything that would draw. But the steamer was on his
heels, evidently gaining fast. Her chimneys gave out flames, and
there was every sign that her people were in earnest. To those on
board the Swash these flames seemed to draw nearer each instant, as
indeed was the fact, and just as the breeze came fresher out of the
opening in the hills, or the low mountains, which surround the place
of refuge in which they designed to enter, Mulford announced that by
aid of the night-glass he could distinguish both sails and hull of
their pursuer. Spike took a look, and throwing down the instrument,
in a way to endanger it, he ordered the studding-sails taken in. The
men went aloft like cats, and worked as if they could stand in air.
In a minute or two the Swash was under what Mrs. Budd might have
called her "attacking" canvas, and was close by the wind, looking on
a good leg well up the harbour. The brig seemed to be conscious of
the emergency, and glided ahead at capital speed. In five minutes
she had shut in the flaming chimneys of the steamer. In five minutes
more Spike tacked, to keep under the western side of the harbour,
and out of sight as long as possible, and because he thought the
breeze drew down fresher where he was than more out in the bay.
All now depended on the single fact whether the brig had been seen
from the steamer or not, before she hauled into the bay. If seen,
she had probably been watched; if not seen, there were strong
grounds for hoping that she might still escape. About a quarter of
an hour after Spike hauled up, the burning chimneys came again into
view. The brig was then half a league within the bay, with a fine
dark background of hills to throw her into shadow. Spike ordered
everything taken in but the trysail, under which the brig was left
to set slowly over toward the western side of the harbour. He now
rubbed his hands with delight, and pointed out to Mulford the
circumstance that the steamer kept on her course directly athwart
the harbour's mouth! Had she seen the Swash, no doubt she would have
turned into the bay also. Nevertheless, an anxious ten minutes
succeeded, during which the revenue vessel steamed fairly past, and
shut in her flaming chimneys again by the eastern headlands of the
The western wave was all a flame,
The day was well nigh done,
Almost upon the western wave
Rested the broad bright sun;
When that strange ship drove suddenly
Betwixt us and the sun.
The Ancient Mariner.
At that hour, on the succeeding morning, when the light of day is
just beginning to chase away the shadows of night, the Molly Swash
became visible within the gloom of the high land which surrounds so
much of the bay of Hempstead, under easy sail, backing and filling,
in order to keep within her hiding-place, until a look could be had
at the state of things without. Half an hour later, she was so near
the entrance of the estuary, as to enable the look-outs aloft to
ascertain that the coast was clear, when Spike ordered the helm to
be put up, and the brig to be kept away to her course. At this
precise moment, Rose appeared on deck, refreshed by the sleep of a
quiet night; and with cheeks tinged with a colour even more delicate
than that which was now glowing in the eastern sky, and which was
almost as brilliant.
"We stopped in this bit of a harbour for the night, Miss Rose, that
is all;" said Spike, observing that his fair passenger was looking
about her, in some little surprise, at finding the vessel so near
the land, and seemingly so much out of her proper position. "Yes, we
always do that, when we first start on a v'y'ge, and before the brig
gets used to travelling--do n't we, Mr. Mulford?"
Mr. Mulford, who knew how hopeless was the attempt to mystify Rose,
as one might mystify her credulous and weak-minded aunt, and who had
no disposition to deal any way but fairly by the beautiful, and in
one sense now helpless young creature before him, did not see fit to
make any reply. Offend Spike he did not dare to do, more especially
under present circumstances; and mislead Rose he would not do. He
affected not to hear the question, therefore, but issuing an order
about the head-sails, he walked forward as if to see it executed.
Rose herself was not under as much restraint as the young mate.
"It is convenient, Captain Spike," she coolly answered for Mulford,
"to have stopping-places, for vessels that are wearied, and I
remember the time when my uncle used to tell me of such matters,
very much in the same vein; but, it was before I was twelve years
Spike hemmed, and he looked a little foolish, but Clench, the
boatswain, coming aft to say something to him in confidence, just at
that moment, he was enabled to avoid the awkwardness of attempting
to explain. This man Clench, or Clinch, as the name was pronounced,
was deep in the captain's secrets; far more so than was his mate,
and would have been filling Mulford's station at that very time, had
he not been hopelessly ignorant of navigation. On the present
occasion, his business was to point out to the captain, two or three
lines of smoke, that were visible above the water of the Sound, in
the eastern board; one of which he was apprehensive might turn out
to be the smoke of the revenue craft, from which they had so
"Steamers are no rarities in Long Island Sound, Clench," observed
the captain, levelling his glass at the most suspected of the
smokes. "That must be a Providence, or Stonington chap, coming west
with the Boston train."
"Either of them would have been further west, by this time, Captain
Spike," returned the doubting, but watchful boatswain. "It's a large
smoke, and I fear it is the revenue fellow coming back, after having
had a look well to the eastward, and satisfying himself that we are
not to be had in that quarter."
Spike growled out his assent to the possibility of such a
conjecture, and promised vigilance. This satisfied his subordinate
for the moment, and he walked forward, or to the place where he
belonged. In the mean time, the widow came on deck, smiling, and
snuffing the salt air, and ready to be delighted with anything that
"Good morning, Captain Spike," she cried--"Are we in the offing,
yet?--you know I desired to be told when we are in the offing, for I
intend to write a letter to my poor Mr. Budd's sister, Mrs. Sprague,
as soon as we get to the offing."
"What is the offing, aunt?" inquired the handsome niece.
"Why you have hardly been at sea long enough to understand me,
child, should I attempt to explain. The offing, however, is the
place where the last letters are always written to the owners, and
to friends ashore. The term comes, I suppose, from the circumstance
that the vessel is about to be off, and it is natural to think of
those we leave behind, at such a moment. I intend to write to your
aunt Sprague, my dear, the instant I hear we are in the offing; and
what is more, I intend to make you my amanuensis."
"But how will the letter be sent, aunty?--I have no more objections
to writing than any one else, but I do not see how the letter is to
be sent. Really, the sea is a curious region, with its
stopping-places for the night, and its offings to write letters at!"
"Yes, it's all as you say, Rose--a most remarkable region is the
sea! You'll admire it, as I admire it, when you come to know it
better; and as your poor uncle admired it, and as Captain Spike
admires it, too. As for the letters, they can be sent ashore by the
pilot, as letters are always sent."
"But, aunty, there is no pilot in the Swash--for Captain Spike
refused to take one on board."
"Rose!--you don't understand what you are talking about! No vessel
ever yet sailed without a pilot, if indeed any can. It's opposed to
the law, not to have a pilot; and now I remember to have heard your
dear uncle say it wasn't a voyage if a vessel didn't take away a
"But if they take them away, aunty, how can they send the letters
ashore by them?"
"Poh! poh! child; you don't know what you're saying; but you'll
overlook it, I hope, Captain Spike, for Rose is quick, and will soon
learn to know better. As if letters couldn't be sent ashore by the
pilot, though he was a hundred thousand miles from land! But,
Captain Spike, you must let me know when we are about to get off the
Sound, for I know that the pilot is always sent ashore with his
letters, before the vessel gets off the Sound."
"Yes, yes," returned the captain, a little mystified by the widow,
though he knew her so well, and understood her so well--"you shall
know, ma'am, when we get off soundings, for I suppose that is what
"What is the difference? Off the Sound, or off the soundings, of
course, must mean the same thing. But, Rosy, we will go below and
write to your aunt at once, for I see a light-house yonder, and
light-houses are always put just off the soundings."
Rose, who always suspected her aunt's nautical talk, though she did
not know how to correct it, and was not sorry to put an end to it,
now, by going below, and spreading her own writing materials, in
readiness to write, as the other dictated. Biddy Noon was present,
sewing on some of her own finery.
"Now write, as I tell you, Rose," commenced the widow--"My dear
sister Sprague--Here we are, at last, just off the soundings, with
light-houses all round us, and so many capes and islands in sight,
that it does seem as if the vessel never could find its way through
them all. Some of these islands must be the West Indies"--"Aunty,
that can never be!" exclaimed Rose--"we left New York only
"What of that? Had it been old times, I grant you several days might
be necessary to get a sight of the West Indies, but, now, when a
letter can be written to a friend in Boston, and an answer received
in half an hour, it requires no such time to go to the West Indies.
Besides, what other islands are there in this part of the
world?--they can't be England--"
"No--no,"--said Rose, at once seeing it would be preferable to admit
they were the West Indies; so the letter went on:--"Some of these
islands must be the West Indies, and it is high time we saw some of
them, for we are nearly off the Sound, and the light-houses are
getting to be quite numerous. I think we have already seen four
since we left the wharf. But, my dear sister Sprague, you will be
delighted to hear how much better Rose's health is already
"My health, aunty! Why, I never knew an ill day in my life!"
"Don't tell me that, my darling; I know too well what all these
deceptive appearances of health amount to. I would not alarm you for
the world, Rosy dear, but a careful parent--and I'm your parent in
affection, if not by nature--but a careful parent's eye is not to be
deceived. I know you look well, but you are ill, my child; though,
Heaven be praised, the sea air and hydropathy are already doing you
a monstrous deal of good."
As Mrs. Budd concluded, she wiped her eyes, and appeared really glad
that her niece had a less consumptive look than when she embarked.
Rose sat, gazing at her aunt, in mute astonishment. She knew how
much and truly she was beloved, and that induced her to be more
tolerant of her connection's foibles than even duty demanded.
Feeling was blended with her respect, but it was almost too much for
her, to learn that this long, and in some respects painful voyage,
was undertaken on her account, and without the smallest necessity
for it. The vexation, however, would have been largely increased,
but for certain free communications that had occasionally occurred
between her and the handsome mate, since the moment of her coming on
board the brig. Rose knew that Harry Mulford loved her, too, for he
had told her as much with a seaman's frankness; and though she had
never let him know that his partiality was returned, her woman's
heart was fast inclining toward him, with all her sex's tenderness.
This made the mistake of her aunt tolerable, though Rose was
exceedingly vexed it should ever have occurred.
"Why, my dearest aunt," she cried, "they told me it was on your
account that this voyage was undertaken!"
"I know they did, poor, dear Rosy, and that was in order not to
alarm you. Some persons of delicate constitutions--"
"But my constitution is not in the least delicate, aunt; on the
contrary, it is as good as possible; a blessing for which, I trust,
I am truly grateful, I did not know but you might be suffering,
though you do look so well, for they all agreed in telling me you
had need of a sea-voyage."
"I, a subject for hydropathy! Why, child, water is no more necessary
to me than it is to a cat."
"But going to sea, aunty, is not hydropathy--"
"Don't say that, Rosy; do not say that, my dear. It is hydropathy on
a large scale, as Captain Spike says; and when he gets us into blue
water, he has promised that you shall have all the benefits of the
Rose was silent and thoughtful; after which she spoke quickly, like
one to whom an important thought had suddenly occurred.
"And Captain Spike, then, was consulted in my case?" she asked.
"He was, my dear, and you have every reason to be grateful to him.
He was the first to discover a change in your appearance, and to
suggest a sea voyage. Marine Hydropathy, he said, he was sure would
get you up again; for Captain Spike thinks your constitution good at
the bottom, though the high colour you have proves too high a state
of habitual excitement."
"Was Dr. Monson consulted at all, aunt?"
"Not at all. You know the doctors are all against hydropathy, and
mesmerism, and the magnetic telegraph, and everything that is new;
so we thought it best not to consult him."
"And my aunt Sprague?"
"Yes, she was consulted after everything was settled, and when I
knew her notions could not undo what had been already done. But she
is a seaman's widow, as well as myself, and has a great notion of
the virtue of sea air."
"Then it would seem that Doctor Spike was the principal adviser in
"I own that he was, Rosy dear. Captain Spike was brought up by your
uncle, who has often told me what a thorough seaman he was. `There's
Spike, now,' he said to me one day, `he can almost make his brig
talk'--this very brig too, your uncle meant, Rosy, and, of course,
one of the best vessels in the world to take hydropathy in."
"Yes, aunty," returned Rose, playing with the pen, while her air
proved how little her mind was in her words. "Well, what shall I say
next to my aunt Sprague?"
"Rose's health is already becoming confirmed," resumed the widow,
who thought it best to encourage her niece by as strong terms as she
could employ, "and I shall extol hydropathy to the skies, as long as
I live. As soon as we reach our port of destination, my dear sister
Sprague, I shall write you a line to let you know it, by the
"But there is no magnetic telegraph on the sea, aunty," interrupted
Rose, looking up from the paper, with her clear, serene, blue eyes,
expressing even her surprise, at this touch of the relict's
"Don't tell me that, Rosy, child, when everybody says the sparks
will fly round the whole earth, just as soon as they will fly from
New York to Philadelphia."
"But they must have something to fly on, aunty; and the ocean will
not sustain wires, or posts."
"Well, there is no need of being so particular; if there is no
telegraph, the letter must come by mail. You can say telegraph,
here, and when your aunt gets the letter, the postmark will tell her
how it came. It looks better to talk about telegraphic
Rose resumed her pen, and wrote at her aunt's dictation, as
follows:--"By the magnetic telegraph, when I hope to be able to tell
you that our dear Rose is well. As yet, we both enjoy the ocean
exceedingly; but when we get off the Sound, into blue water, and
have sent the pilot ashore, or discharged him, I ought to say, which
puts me in mind of telling you that a cannon was discharged at us
only last night, and that the ball whistled so near me, that I heard
it as plain as ever you heard Rose's piano."
"Had I not better first tell my aunt Sprague what is to be done when
the pilot is discharged?"
"No; tell her about the cannon that was discharged, first, and about
the ball that I heard. I had almost forgot that adventure, which was
a very remarkable one, was it not, Biddy?"
"Indeed, Missus, and it was! and Miss Rose might put in the letter
how we both screamed at that cannon, and might have been heard as
plainly, every bit of it, as the ball."
"Say nothing on the subject, Rose, or we shall never hear the last
of it. So, darling, you may conclude in your own way, for I believe
I have told your aunt all that comes to mind."
Rose did as desired, finishing the epistle in a very few words, for,
rightly enough, she had taken it into her head there was no pilot to
be discharged, and consequently that the letter would never be sent.
Her short but frequent conferences with Mulford were fast opening
her eyes, not to say her heart, and she was beginning to see Captain
Spike in his true character, which was that of a great scoundrel. It
is true, that the mate had not long judged his commander quite so
harshly; but had rather seen his beautiful brig, and her rare
qualities, in her owner and commander, than the man himself; but
jealousy had quickened his observation of late, and Stephen Spike
had lost ground sensibly with Harry Mulford, within the last week.
Two or three times before, the young man had thought of seeking
another berth, on account of certain distrusts of Spike's
occupations; but he was poor, and so long as he remained in the
Swash, Harry's opportunities of meeting Rose were greatly increased.
This circumstance, indeed, was the secret of his still being in the
"Molly," as Spike usually called his craft; the last voyage having
excited suspicions that were rather of a delicate nature. Then the
young man really loved the brig, which, if she could not be
literally made to talk, could be made to do almost everything else.
A vessel, and a small vessel, too, is rather contracted as to space,
but those who wish to converse can contrive to speak together often,
even in such narrow limits. Such had been the fact with Rose Budd
and the handsome mate. Twenty times since they sailed, short as that
time was, had Mulford contrived to get so near to Rose, as to talk
with her, unheard by others. It is true, that he seldom ventured to
do this, so long as the captain was in sight, but Spike was often
below, and opportunities were constantly occurring. It was in the
course of these frequent but brief conversations, that Harry had
made certain dark hints touching the character of his commander, and
the known recklessness of his proceedings. Rose had taken the alarm,
and fully comprehending her aunt's mental imbecility, her situation
was already giving her great uneasiness. She had some undefined
hopes from the revenue steamer; though, strangely enough as it
appeared to her, her youngest and most approved suitor betrayed a
strong desire to escape from that craft, at the very moment he was
expressing his apprehensions on account of her presence in the brig.
This contradiction arose from a certain esprit de corps, which
seldom fails, more or less, to identify the mariner with his ship.
But the writing was finished, and the letter sealed with wax, Mrs.
Budd being quite as particular in that ceremony as Lord Nelson, when
the females again repaired on deck. They found Spike and his mate
sweeping the eastern part of the Sound with their glasses, with a
view to look out for enemies; or, what to them, just then, was much
the same thing, government craft. In this occupation, Rose was a
little vexed to see that Mulford was almost as much interested as
Spike himself, the love of his vessel seemingly overcoming his love
for her, if not his love of the right--she knew of no reason,
however, why the captain should dread any other vessel, and felt
sufficiently provoked to question him a little on the subject, if it
were only to let him see that the niece was not as completely his
dupe as the aunt. She had not been on deck five minutes, therefore,
during which time several expressions had escaped the two sailors
touching their apprehensions of vessels seen in the distance, ere
she commenced her inquiries.
"And why should we fear meeting with other vessels?" Rose plainly
demanded--"here in Long Island Sound, and within the power of the
laws of the country?"
"Fear?" exclaimed Spike, a little startled, and a good deal
surprised at this straight-forward question--"Fear, Miss Rose! You
do not think we are afraid, though there are many reasons why we do
not wish to be spoken by certain craft that are hovering about. In
the first place, you know it is war time--I suppose you know, Madam
Budd, that America is at war with Mexico?"
"Certainly," answered the widow, with dignity--"and that is a
sufficient reason, Rose, why one vessel should chase, and another
should run. If you had heard your poor uncle relate, as I have done,
all his chasings and runnings away, in the war times, child, you
would understand these things better. Why, I've heard your uncle say
that, in some of his long voyages, he has run thousands and
thousands of miles, with sails set on both sides, and all over his
"Yes, aunty, and so have I, but that was `running before the wind,'
as he used to call it."
"I s'pose, however, Miss Rose," put in Spike, who saw that the niece
would soon get the better of the aunt;--"I s'pose, Miss Rose, that
you'll acknowledge that America is at war with Mexico?"
"I am sorry to say that such is the fact, but I remember to have
heard you say, yourself, Captain Spike, when my aunt was induced to
undertake this voyage, that you did not consider there was the
smallest danger from any Mexicans."
"Yes, you did, Captain Spike," added the aunt--"you did say there
was no danger from Mexicans."
"Nor is there a bit, Madam Budd, if Miss Rose, and your honoured
self, will only hear me. There is no danger, because the brig has
the heels of anything Mexico can send to sea. She has sold her
steamers, and, as for anything else under her flag, I would not care
"The steamer from which we ran, last evening, and which actually
fired off a cannon at us, was not Mexican, but American," said Rose,
with a pointed manner that put Spike to his trumps.
"Oh! that steamer--" he stammered--"that was a race--only a race,
Miss Rose, and I wouldn't let her come near me, for the world. I
should never hear the last of it, in the insurance offices, and on
'change, did I let her overhaul us. You see, Miss Rose--you see,
Madam Budd--" Spike ever found it most convenient to address his
mystifying discourse to the aunt, in preference to addressing it to
the niece--"You see, Madam Budd, the master of that craft and I are
old cronies--sailed together when boys, and set great store by each
other. We met only last evening, just a'ter I had left your own
agreeable mansion, Madam Budd, and says he, `Spike, when do you
sail?' `To-morrow's flood, Jones,' says I--his name is Jones;--Peter
Jones, and as good a fellow as ever lived. `Do you go by the Hook,
or by Hell-Gate--'"
"Hurl-Gate, Captain Spike, if you please--or Whirl-Gate, which some
people think is the true sound; but the other way of saying it is
"Well, the captain, my old master, always called it Hell-Gate, and I
learned the trick from him--"
"I know he did, and so do all sailors; but genteel people,
now-a-days, say nothing but Hurl-Gate, or Whirl-Gate."
Rose smiled at this; as did Mulford; but neither said anything, the
subject having once before been up between them. As for ourselves,
we are still so old-fashioned as to say, and write, Hell-Gate, and
intend so to do, in spite of all the Yankees that have yet passed
through it, or who ever shall pass through it, and that is saying a
great deal. We do not like changing names to suit their uneasy
"Call the place Hurl-Gate, and go on with your story," said the
"Yes, Madam Budd--`Do you go by the Hook, or by Whirl-Gate?' said
Jones. `By Whirl-a-Gig-Gate,' says I. `Well,' says he, `I shall go
through the Gate myself, in the course of the morning. We may meet
somewhere to the eastward, and, if we do, I'll bet you a beaver,'
says he, `that I show you my stern.' `Agreed,' says I, and we shook
hands upon it. That's the whole history of our giving the steamer
the slip, last night, and of my not wishing to let her speak me."
"But you went into a bay, and let her go past you," said Rose,
coolly enough as to manner, but with great point as to substance.
"Was not that a singular way of winning a race?"
"It does seem so, Miss Rose, but it's all plain enough, when
understood. I found that steam was too much for sails, and I stood
up into the bay to let them run past us, in hopes they would never
find out the trick. I care as little for a hat as any man, but I do
care a good deal about having it reported on 'change that the Molly
was beat, by even a steamer."
This ended the discourse for the moment, Clench again having
something to say to his captain in private.
"How much of that explanation am I to believe, and how much
disbelieve?" asked Rose, the instant she was left alone with Harry.
"If it be all invention, it was a ready and ingenious story."
"No part of it is true. He no more expected that the steamer would
pass through Hell-Gate, than I expected it myself. There was no bet,
or race, therefore; but it was our wish to avoid Uncle Sam's
cruiser, that was all."
"And why should you wish any such thing?"
"On my honour, I can give you no better reason, so far as I am
concerned, than the fact that, wishing to keep clear of her, I do
not like to be overhauled. Nor can I tell you why Spike is so much
in earnest in holding the revenue vessel at arm's length; I know he
dislikes all such craft, as a matter of course, but I can see no
particular reason for it just now. A more innocent cargo was never
stuck into a vessel's hold."
"What is it?"
"Flour; and no great matter of that. The brig is not half full,
being just in beautiful ballast trim, as if ready for a race. I can
see no sufficient reason, beyond native antipathy, why Captain Spike
should wish to avoid any craft, for it is humbug his dread of a
Mexican, and least of all, here, in Long Island Sound. All that
story about Jones is a tub for whales."
"Thank you for the allusion; my aunt and myself being the whales."
"You know I do mean--can mean nothing, Rose, that is disrespectful
to either yourself or your aunt."
Rose looked up, and she looked pleased. Then she mused in silence,
for some time, when she again spoke.
"Why have you remained another voyage with such a man, Harry?" she
"Because, as his first officer, I have had access to your house,
when I could not have had it otherwise; and because I have
apprehended that he might persuade Mrs. Budd, as he had boasted to
me it was his intention to do, to make this voyage."
Rose now looked grateful; and deeply grateful did she feel, and had
reason to feel. Harry had concealed no portion of his history from
her. Like herself, he was a shipmaster's child, but one better
educated and better connected than was customary for the class. His
father had paid a good deal of attention to the youth's early years,
but had made a seaman of him, out of choice. The father had lost his
all, however, with his life, in a shipwreck; and Harry was thrown
upon his own resources, at the early age of twenty. He had made one
or two voyages as a second mate, when chance threw him in Spike's
way, who, pleased with some evidences of coolness and skill, that he
had shown in a foreign port, on the occasion of another loss, took
him as his first officer; in which situation he had remained ever
since, partly from choice and partly from necessity. On the other
hand, Rose had a fortune; by no means a large one, but several
thousands in possession, from her own father, and as many more in
reversion from her uncle. It was this money, taken in connection
with the credulous imbecility of the aunt, that had awakened the
cupidity, and excited the hopes of Spike. After a life of lawless
adventure, one that had been chequered by every shade of luck, he
found himself growing old, with his brig growing old with him, and
little left beside his vessel and the sort of half cargo that was in
her hold. Want of means, indeed, was the reason that the
flour-barrels were not more numerous.
Rose heard Mulford's explanation favourably, as indeed she heard
most of that which came from him, but did not renew the discourse,
Spike's conference with the boatswain just then terminating. The
captain now came aft, and began to speak of the performances of his
vessel in a way to show that he took great pride in them.
"We are travelling at the rate of ten knots, Madam Budd," he said
exultingly, "and that will take us clear of the land, before night
shuts in ag'in. Montauk is a good place for an offing; I ask for no
"Shall we then have two offings, this voyage, Captain Spike?" asked
Rose, a little sarcastically. "If we are in the offing now, and are
to be in the offing when we reach Montauk, there must be two such
"Rosy, dear, you amaze me!" put in the aunt. "There is no offing
until the pilot is discharged, and when he's discharged there is
nothing but offing. It's all offing. On the Sound, is the first
great change that befalls a vessel as she goes to sea; then comes
the offing; next the pilot is discharged--then--then--what comes
next, Captain Spike?"
"Then the vessel takes her departure--an old navigator like
yourself, Madam Budd, ought not to forget the departure."
"Quite true, sir. The departure is a very important portion of a
seaman's life. Often and often have I heard my poor dear Mr. Budd
talk about his departures. His departures, and his offings and
"Land-falls," added Spike, perceiving that the shipmaster's relict
was a little at fault.
"Thank you, sir; the hint is quite welcome. His landfalls, also,
were often in his mouth."
"What is a land-fall, aunty?" inquired Rose--"It appears a strange
term to be used by one who lives on the water."
"Oh! there is no end to the curiosities of sailors! A `land-fall,'
my dear, means a shipwreck, of course. To fall on the land, and a
very unpleasant fall it is, when a vessel should keep on the water.
I've heard of dreadful land-falls in my day, in which hundreds of
souls have been swept into eternity, in an instant."
"Yes; yes, Madam Budd--there are such accidents truly, and serious
things be they to encounter," answered Spike, hemming a little to
clear his throat, as was much his practice whenever the widow ran
into any unusually extravagant blunder; "yes, serious things to
encounter. But the land-fall that I mean is a different sort of
thing; being, as you well know, what we say when we come in sight of
land, a'ter a v'y'ge; or, meaning the land we may happen first to
see. The departure is the beginning of our calculation when we lose
sight of the last cape or headland, and the land-fall closes it, by
letting us know where we are, at the other end of our journey, as
you probably remember."
"Is there not such a thing as clearing out in navigation?" asked
Rose, quickly, willing to cover a little confusion that was manifest
in her aunt's manner.
"Not exactly in navigation, Miss Rose, but clearing out, with honest
folk, ought to come first, and navigation a'terwards. Clearing out
means going through the Custom-House, accordin' to law."
"And the Molly Swash has cleared out, I hope?"
"Sartain--a more lawful clearance was never given in Wall Street;
it's for Key West and a market. I did think of making it Havana and
a market, but port-charges are lightest at Key West."
"Then Key West is the place to which we are bound?"
"It ought to be, agreeable to papers; though vessels sometimes miss
the ports for which they clear."
Rose put no more questions; and her aunt, being conscious that she
had not appeared to advantage in the affair of the "land-fall," was
also disposed to be silent. Spike and Mulford had their attention
drawn to the vessel, and the conversation dropped.
The reader can readily suppose that the Molly Swash had not been
standing still all this time. So far from this, she was running
"down Sound," with the wind on her quarter, or at south-west, making
great head-way, as she was close under the south shore, or on the
island side of the water she was in. The vessel had no other motion
than that of her speed, and the females escaped everything like
sea-sickness, for the time being. This enabled them to attend to
making certain arrangements necessary to their comforts below,
previously to getting into rough water. In acquitting herself of
this task, Rose received much useful advice from Josh, though his
new assistant, Jack Tier, turned out to be a prize indeed, in the
cabins. The first was only a steward; but the last proved himself
not only a handy person of his calling, but one full of resources--a
genius, in his way. Josh soon became so sensible of his own
inferiority, in contributing to the comforts of females, that he
yielded the entire management of the "ladies' cabin," as a little
place that might have been ten feet square, was called, to his
uncouth-looking, but really expert deputy. Jack waddled about below,
as if born and brought up in such a place, and seemed every way
fitted for his office. In height, and in build generally, there was
a surprising conformity between the widow and the steward's deputy,
a circumstance which might induce one to think they must often have
been in each other's way, in a space so small; though, in point of
fact, Jack never ran foul of any one. He seemed to avoid this
inconvenience by a species of nautical instinct.
Towards the turn of the day, Rose had everything arranged, and was
surprised to find how much room she had made for her aunt and
herself, by means of Jack's hints, and how much more comfortable it
was possible to be, in that small cabin, than she had at first
After dinner, Spike took his siesta. He slept in a little state-room
that stood on the starboard side of the quarter-deck, quite aft; as
Mulford did in one on the larboard. These two state-rooms were
fixtures; but a light deck overhead, which connected them, shipped
and unshipped, forming a shelter for the man at the wheel, when in
its place, as well as for the officer of the watch, should he see
fit to use it, in bad weather. This sort of cuddy, Spike termed his
The captain had no sooner gone into his state-room, and closed its
window, movements that were understood by Mulford, than the latter
took occasion to intimate to Rose, by means of Jack Tier, the state
of things on deck, when the young man was favoured with the young
"He has turned in for his afternoon's nap, and will sleep for just
one hour, blow high, or blow low," said the mate, placing himself at
Rose's side on the trunk, which formed the usual seat for those who
could presume to take the liberty of sitting down on the
quarter-deck. "It's a habit with him, and we can count on it, with
"His doing so, now, is a sign that he has no immediate fears of the
"The coast is quite clear of her. We have taken good looks at every
smoke, but can see nothing that appears like our late companion. She
has doubtless gone to the eastward, on duty, and merely chased us,
on her road."
"But why should she chase us, at all?"
"Because we ran. Let a dog run, or a man run, or a cat run, ten to
one but something starts in chase. It is human nature, I believe, to
give chase; though I will admit there was something suspicious about
that steamer's movements--her anchoring off the Fort, for instance.
But let her go, for the present; are you getting things right, and
to your mind, below decks?"
"Very much so. The cabin is small, and the two state-rooms the
merest drawers that ever were used, but, by putting everything in
its place, we have made sufficient room, and no doubt shall be
"I am sorry you did not call on me for assistance. The mate has a
prescriptive right to help stow away."
"We made out without your services," returned Rose, slightly
blushing--"Jack Tier, as he is called, Josh's assistant, is a very
useful person, and has been our adviser and manager. I want no
better for such services."
"He is a queer fellow, all round. Take him altogether, I hardly ever
saw so droll a being! As thick as he's long, with a waddle like a
duck, a voice that is cracked, hair like bristles, and knee high;
the man might make a fortune as a show. Tom Thumb is scarcely a
"He is singular in `build,' as you call it," returned Rose,
laughing, "but, I can assure you that he is a most excellent fellow
in his way--worth a dozen of Josh. Do you know, Harry, that I
suspect he has strong feelings towards Captain Spike; though whether
of like or dislike, friendship or enmity, I am at a loss to say."
"And why do you think that he has any feeling at all? I have heard
Spike say he left the fellow ashore, somewhere down on the Spanish
Main, or in the Islands, quite twenty years since; but a sailor
would scarce carry a grudge so long a time, for such a thing as
"I do not know--but feeling there is, and much of it, too; though,
whether hostile or friendly, I will not undertake to say."
"I'll look to the chap, now you tell me this. It is a little odd,
the manner in which he got on board us, taken in connection with the
company he was in, and a discovery may be made. Here he is, however;
and, as I keep the keys of the magazine, he can do us no great harm,
unless he scuttles the brig."
"Magazine! Is there such a thing here?"
"To be sure there is, and ammunition enough in it to keep eight
carronades in lively conversation for a couple of hours."
"A carronade is what you call a gun, is it not?"
"A piece of a one--being somewhat short, like your friend, Jack
Tier, who is shaped a good deal like a carronade."
Rose smiled--nay, half laughed, for Harry's pleasantries almost took
the character of wit in her eyes, but she did not the less pursue
"Guns! And where are they, if they be on this vessel?"
"Do not use such a lubberly expression, my dear Rose, if you respect
your father's profession. On a vessel, is a new-fangled Americanism,
that is neither fish, flesh, nor red-herring, as we sailors
say--neither English nor Greek."
"What should I say, then? My wish is not to parade sea-talk, but to
use it correctly, when I use it at all."
"The expression is hardly `sea-talk,' as you call it, but every-day
English--that is, when rightly used. On a vessel is no more English
than it is nautical--no sailor ever used such an expression."
"Tell me what I ought to say, and you will find me a willing, if not
an apt scholar. I am certain of having often read it, in the
newspapers, and that quite lately."
"I'll answer for that, and it's another proof of its being wrong. In
a vessel is as correct as in a coach, and on a vessel as wrong as
can be; but you can say on board a vessel, though not `on the boards
of a vessel;' as Mrs. Budd has it."
"I beg a thousand pardons, Rose, and will offend no more--though she
does make some very queer mistakes!"
"My aunt thinks it an honour to my uncle's memory, to be able to use
the language of his professional life, and if she does sometimes
make mistakes that are absurd, it is with motives so respectable
that no sailor should deride them."
"I am rebuked for ever. Mrs. Budd may call the anchor a silver
spoon, hereafter, without my even smiling. But if the aunt has this
kind remembrance of a seaman's life, why cannot the niece think
equally well of it?"
"Perhaps she does," returned Rose, smiling again--"seeing all its
attractions through the claims of Captain Spike."
"I think half the danger from him gone, now that you seem so much on
your guard. What an odious piece of deception, to persuade Mrs. Budd
that you were fast falling into a decline!"
"One so odious that I shall surely quit the brig at the first port
we enter, or even in the first suitable vessel that we may speak."
"And Mrs. Budd--could you persuade her to such a course?"
"You scarce know us, Harry Mulford. My aunt commands, when there is
no serious duty to perform, but we change places when there is. I
can persuade her to anything that is right, in ten minutes."
"You might persuade a world!" cried Harry, with strong admiration
expressed in his countenance; after which he began to converse with
Rose, on a subject so interesting to themselves, that we do not
think it prudent to relate any more of the discourse, forgetting all
about the guns.
About four o'clock, of a fine summer's afternoon, the Swash went
through the Race, on the best of the ebb, and with a staggering
south-west wind. Her movement by the land, just at that point, could
not have been less than at the rate of fifteen miles in the hour.
Spike was in high spirits, for his brig had got on famously that
day, and there was nothing in sight to the eastward. He made no
doubt, as he had told his mate, that the steamer had gone into the
Vineyard Sound, and that she was bound over the shoals.
"They want to make political capital out of her," he added, using
one of the slang phrases, that the "business habits" of the American
people are so rapidly incorporating with the common language of the
country--"They want to make political capital out of her, Harry, and
must show her off to the Boston folk, who are full of notions. Well,
let them turn her to as much account in that way as they please, so
long as they keep her clear of the Molly. Your sarvant, Madam
Budd"--addressing the widow, who just at that moment came on
deck--"a fine a'ternoon, and likely to be a clear night to run off
the coast in."
"Clear nights are desirable, and most of all at sea, Captain Spike,"
returned the relict, in her best, complacent manner, "whether it be
to run off a coast, or to run on a coast. In either case, a clear
night, or a bright moon must be useful."
Captain Spike rolled his tobacco over in his mouth, and cast a
furtive glance at the mate, but he did not presume to hazard any
further manifestations of his disposition to laugh.
"Yes, Madam Budd," he answered, "it is quite as you say, and I am
only surprised where you have picked up so much of what I call
useful nautical knowledge."
"We live and learn, sir. You will recollect that this is not my
first voyage, having made one before, and that I passed a happy,
happy, thirty years, in the society of my poor, dear husband, Rose's
uncle. One must have been dull, indeed, not to have picked up, from
such a companion, much of a calling that was so dear to him, and the
particulars of which were so very dear to him. He actually gave me
lessons in the `sea dialect,' as he called it, which probably is the
true reason I am so accurate and general in my acquisitions."
"Yes, Madam Budd--yes--hem--you are--yes, you are wonderful in that
way. We shall soon get an offing, now, Madam Budd--yes, soon get an
"And take in our departure, Captain Spike--" added the widow, with a
very intelligent smile.
"Yes, take our departure. Montauk is yonder, just coming in sight;
only some three hours' run from this spot. When we get there, the
open ocean will lie before us; and give me the open sea, and I'll
not call the king my uncle."
"Was he your uncle, Captain Spike?"
"Only in a philanthropic way, Madam Budd. Yes, let us get a good
offing, and a rapping to'gallant breeze, and I do not think I should
care much for two of Uncle Sam's new-fashioned revenue craft, one on
each side of me."
"How delightful do I find such conversation, Rose! It's as much like
your poor, dear uncle's, as one pea is like another. `Yes,' he used
to say, too, `let me only have one on each side of me, and a wrapper
round the topgallant sail to hold the breeze, and I'd not call the
king my uncle.' Now I think of it, he used to talk about the king as
his uncle, too."
"It was all talk, aunty. He had no uncle, and, what is more, he had
"That's quite true, Miss Rose," rejoined Spike, attempting a bow,
which ended in a sort of jerk. "It is not very becoming in us
republicans to be talking of kings, but a habit is a habit. Our
forefathers had kings, and we drop into their ways without thinking
of what we are doing. Fore-topgallant yard, there?"
"Keep a bright look-out, ahead. Let me know the instant you make
anything in the neighbourhood of Montauk."
"Ay, ay, sir."
"As I was saying, Madam Budd, we seamen drop into our forefathers'
ways. Now, when I was a youngster, I remember, one day, that we fell
in with a ketch--you know, Miss Rose, what a ketch is, I suppose?"
"I have not the least notion of it, sir."
"Rosy, you amaze me!" exclaimed the aunt--"and you a ship-master's
niece, and a ship-master's daughter! A catch is a trick that sailors
have, when they quiz landsmen."
"Yes, Madam Budd, yes; we have them sort of catches, too; but I now
mean the vessel with a peculiar rig, which we call a ketch, you
"Is it the full-jigger, or the half-jigger sort, that you mean?"
Spike could hardly stand this, and he had to hail the
topgallant-yard again, in order to keep the command of his muscles,
for he saw by the pretty frown that was gathering on the brow of
Rose, that she was regarding the matter a little seriously. Luckily,
the answer of the man on the yard diverted the mind of the widow
from the subject, and prevented the necessity of any reply.
"There's a light, of course, sir, on Montauk, is there not, Captain
Spike?" demanded the seaman who was aloft.
"To be sure there is--every head-land, hereabouts, has its light;
and some have two."
"Ay, ay, sir--it's that which puzzles me; I think I see one
light-house, and I'm not certain but I see two."
"If there is anything like a second, it must be a sail. Montauk has
but one light."
Mulford sprang into the fore-rigging, and in a minute was on the
yard. He soon came down, and reported the lighthouse in sight, with
the afternoon's sun shining on it, but no sail near.
"My poor, dear Mr. Budd used to tell a story of his being cast away
on a light-house, in the East Indies," put in the relict, as soon as
the mate had ended his report, "which always affected me. It seems
there were three ships of them together, in an awful tempest
directly off the land--"
"That was comfortable, any how," cried Spike;--"if it must blow
hard, let it come off the land, say I."
"Yes, sir, it was directly off the land, as my poor husband always
said, which made it so much the worse you must know, Rosy; though
Captain Spike's gallant spirit would rather encounter danger than
not. It blew what they call a Hyson, in the Chinese seas--"
"A what, aunty?--Hyson is the name of a tea, you know."
"A Hyson, I'm pretty sure it was; and I suppose the wind is named
after the tea, or the tea after the wind."
"The ladies do get in a gale, sometimes, over their tea," said Spike
gallantly. "But I rather think Madam Budd must mean a Typhoon."
"That's it--a Typhoon, or a Hyson--there is not much difference
between them, you see. Well, it blew a Typhoon, and they are always
mortal to somebody. This my poor Mr. Budd well knew, and he had set
his chronometer for that Typhoon--"
"Excuse me, aunty, it was the barometer that he was watching--the
chronometer was his watch."
"So it was--his watch on deck was his chronometer, I declare. I am
forgetting a part of my education. Do you know the use of a
chronometer, now, Rose? You have seen your uncle's often, but do you
know how he used it?"
"Not in the least, aunty. My uncle often tried to explain it, but I
never could understand him."
"It must have been, then, because Captain Budd did not try to make
himself comprehended," said Mulford, "for I feel certain nothing
would be easier than to make you understand the uses of the
"I should like to learn it from you, Mr. Mulford," answered the
charming girl, with an emphasis so slight on the `you,' that no one
observed it but the mate, but which was clear enough to him, and
caused every nerve to thrill.
"I can attempt it," answered the young man, "if it be agreeable to
Mrs. Budd, who would probably like to hear it herself."
"Certainly, Mr. Mulford; though I fancy you can say little on such a
subject that I have not often heard already, from my poor, dear Mr.
"This was not very encouraging, truly; but Rose continuing to look
interested, the mate proceeded.
"The use of the chronometer is to ascertain the longitude," said
Harry, "and the manner of doing it is, simply this: A chronometer is
nothing more nor less than a watch, made with more care than usual,
so as to keep the most accurate time. They are of all sizes, from
that of a clock, down to this which I wear in my fob, and which is a
watch in size and appearance. Now, the nautical almanacs are all
calculated to some particular meridian--"
"Yes," interrupted the relict, "Mr. Budd had a great deal to say
"That of London, or Greenwich, being the meridian used by those who
use the English Almanacs, and those of Paris or St. Petersburg, by
the French and Russians. Each of these places has an observatory,
and chronometers that are kept carefully regulated, the year round.
Every chronometer is set by the regulator of the particular
observatory or place to which the almanac used is calculated."
"How wonderfully like my poor, dear Mr. Budd, all this is, Rosy!
Meridians, and calculated, and almanacs! I could almost think I
heard your uncle entertaining me with one of his nautical
discussions, I declare!"
"Now the sun rises earlier in places east, than in places west of
"It rises earlier in the summer, but later in the winter,
everywhere, Mr. Mulford."
"Yes, my dear Madam; but the sun rises earlier every day, in London,
than it does in New York."
"That is impossible," said the widow, dogmatically--"Why should not
the sun rise at the same time in England and America?"
"Because England is east of America, aunty. The sun does not move,
you know, but only appears to us to move, because the earth turns
round from west to east, which causes those who are farthest east to
see it first. That is what Mr. Mulford means."
"Rose has explained it perfectly well," continued the mate. "Now the
earth is divided into 360 degrees, and the day is divided into 24
hours. If 360 be divided by 24, the quotient will be 15. If follows
that, for each fifteen degrees of longitude, there is a difference
of just one hour in the rising of the sun, all over the earth, where
it rises at all. New York is near five times 15 degrees west of
Greenwich, and the sun consequently rises five hours later at New
York than at London."
"There must be a mistake in this, Rosy," said the relict, in a tone
of desperate resignation, in which the desire to break out in
dissent, was struggling oddly enough with an assumed dignity of
deportment. "I've always heard that the people of London are some of
the latest in the world. Then, I've been in London, and know that
the sun rises in New York, in December, a good deal earlier than it
does in London, by the clock--yes, by the clock."
"True enough, by the clock, Mrs. Budd, for London is more than ten
degrees north of New York, and the farther north you go, the later
the sun rises in winter, and the earlier in summer."
The relict merely shrugged her shoulders, as much as to say that she
knew no such thing; but Rose, who had been well taught, raised her
serene eyes to her aunt's face, and mildly said--"All true, aunty,
and that is owing to the fact that the earth is smaller at each end
than in the middle."
"Fiddle faddle with your middles and ends, Rose--I've been in
London, dear, and know that the sun rises later there than in New
York, in the month of December, and that I know by the clock, I tell
"The reason of which is," resumed Mulford, "because the clocks of
each place keep the time of that place. Now, it is different with
the chronometers; they are set in the observatory of Greenwich, and
keep the time of Greenwich. This watch chronometer was set there,
only six months since; and this time, as you see, is near nine
o'clock, when in truth it is only about four o'clock here, where we
"I wonder you keep such a watch, Mr. Mulford!"
"I keep it," returned the mate, smiling, "because I know it to keep
good time. It has the Greenwich time; and, as your watch has the New
York time, by comparing them together, it is quite easy to find the
longitude of New York."
"Do you, then, keep watches to compare with your chronometers?"
asked Rose, with interest.
"Certainly not; as that would require a watch for every separate
part of the ocean, and then we should only get known longitudes. It
would be impracticable, and load a ship with nothing but watches.
What we do is this: We set our chronometers at Greenwich, and thus
keep the Greenwich true time wherever we go. The greatest attention
is paid to the chronometers, to see that they receive no injuries;
and usually there are two, and often more of them, to compare one
with another, in order to see that they go well. When in the middle
of the ocean, for instance, we find the true time of the day at that
spot, by ascertaining the height of the sun. This we do by means of
our quadrants, or sextants; for, as the sun is always in the zenith
at twelve o'clock, nothing is easier than to do this, when the sun
can be seen, and an arc of the heavens measured. At the instant the
height of the sun is ascertained by one observer, he calls to
another, who notes the time on the chronometer. The difference in
these two times, or that of the chronometer and that of the sun,
gives the distance in degrees and minutes, between the longitude of
Greenwich and that of the place on the ocean where the observer is;
and that gives him his longitude. If the difference is three hours
and twenty minutes, in time, the distance from Greenwich is fifty
degrees of longitude, because the sun rises three hours and twenty
minutes sooner in London, than in the fiftieth degree of west
"A watch is a watch, Rosy," put in the aunt, doggedly--"and time is
time.--When it's four o'clock at our house, it's four o'clock at
your aunt Sprague's, and it's so all over the world. The world may
turn round--I'll not deny it, for your uncle often said as much as
that, but it cannot turn in the way Mr. Mulford says, or we should
all fall off it, at night, when it was bottom upwards. No, sir, no;
you've started wrong. My poor, dear, late Mr. Budd, always admitted
that the world turned round, as the books say; but when I suggested
to him the difficulty of keeping things in their places, with the
earth upside down, he acknowledged candidly--for he was all candour,
I must say that for him--and owned that he had made a discovery by
means of his barometer, which showed that the world did not turn
round in the way you describe, or by rolling over, but by whirling
about, as one turns in a dance. You must remember your uncle's
telling me this, Rose?"
Rose did remember her uncle's telling her aunt this, as well as a
great many other similar prodigies. Captain Budd had married his
silly wife on account of her pretty face, and when the novelty of
that was over, he often amused himself by inventing all sorts of
absurdities, to amuse both her and himself. Among other things, Rose
well remembered his quieting her aunt's scruples about falling off
the earth, by laying down the theory that the world did not "roll
over," but "whirl round." But Rose did not answer the question.
"Objects are kept in their places on the earth by means of
attraction," Mulford ventured to say, with a great deal of humility
of manner. "I believe it is thought there is no up or down, except
as we go from or towards the earth; and that would make the position
of the last a matter of indifference, as respects objects keeping on
"Attractions are great advantages, I will own, sir, especially to
our sex. I think it will be acknowledged there has been no want of
them in our family, any more than there has been of sense and
information. Sense and information we pride ourselves on;
attractions being gifts from God, we try to think less of them. But
all the attractions in the world could not keep Rosy, here, from
falling off the earth, did it ever come bottom upwards. And, mercy
on me, where would she fall to!"
Mulford saw that argument was useless, and he confined his remarks,
during the rest of the conversation, to showing Rose the manner in
which the longitude of a place might be ascertained, with the aid of
the chronometer, and by means of observations to get the true time
of day, at the particular place itself. Rose was so quick-witted,
and already so well instructed, as easily to comprehend the
principles; the details being matters of no great moment to one of
her sex and habits. But Mrs. Budd remained antagonist to the last.
She obstinately maintained that twelve o'clock was twelve o'clock;
or, if there was any difference, "London hours were notoriously
later than those of New York."
Against such assertions arguments were obviously useless, and
Mulford, perceiving that Rose began to fidget, had sufficient tact
to change the conversation altogether.
And still the Molly Swash kept in swift motion. Montauk was by this
time abeam, and the little brigantine began to rise and fall, on the
long swells of the Atlantic, which now opened before her, in one
vast sheet of green and rolling waters. On her right lay the
termination of Long Island; a low, rocky cape, with its light, and a
few fields in tillage, for the uses of those who tended it. It was
the "land's end" of New York, while the island that was heaving up
out of the sea, at a distance of about twenty miles to the eastward,
was the property of Rhode Island, being called Blok Island. Between
the two, the Swash shaped her course for the ocean.
Spike had betrayed uneasiness, as his brig came up with Montauk; but
the coast seemed clear, with not even a distant sail in sight, and
he came aft, rubbing his hands with delight, speaking cheerfully.
"All right, Mr. Mulford," he cried--"everything ship-shape and
brister-fashion--not even a smack fishing here-away, which is a
little remarkable. Ha!--what are you staring at, over the quarter,
"Look here, sir, directly in the wake of the setting sun, which we
are now opening from the land--is not that a sail?"
"Sail! Impossible, sir. What should a sail be doing in there, so
near Montauk--no man ever saw a sail there in his life. It's a spot
in the sun, Madam Budd, that my mate has got a glimpse at, and,
sailor-like, he mistakes it for a sail! Ha--ha--ha--yes, Harry, it's
a spot in the sun."
"It is a spot on the sun, as you say, but it's a spot made by a
vessel--and here is a boat pulling towards her, might and main;
going from the light, as if carrying news."
It was no longer possible for Spike's hopes to deceive him. There
was a vessel, sure enough; though, when first seen, it was so
directly in a line with the fiery orb of the setting sun, as to
escape common observation. As the brig went foaming on towards the
ocean, however, the black speck was soon brought out of the range of
the orb of day, and Spike's glass was instantly levelled at it.
"Just as one might expect, Mr. Mulford," cried the captain, lowering
his glass, and looking aloft to see what could be done to help his
craft along; "a bloody revenue cutter, as I'm a wicked sinner! There
she lies, sir, within musket shot of the shore, hid behind the
point, as it might be in waiting for us, with her head to the
southward, her helm hard down, topsail aback, and foresail brailed;
as wicked looking a thing as Free Trade and Sailor's Rights ever ran
from. My life on it, sir, she's been put in that precise spot, in
waiting for the Molly to arrive. You see, as we stand on, it places
her as handsomely to windward of us, as the heart of man could
"It is a revenue cutter, sir; now she's out of the sun's wake, that
is plain enough. And that is her boat, which has been sent to the
light to keep a look-out for us. Well, sir, she's to windward; but
we have everything set for our course, and as we are fairly abeam,
she must be a great traveller to overhaul us."
"I thought these bloody cutters were all down in the Gulf," growled
the captain, casting his eyes aloft again, to see that everything
drew. "I'm sure the newspapers have mentioned as many as twenty that
are down there, and here is one, lying behind Montauk, like a snake
in the grass!"
"At any rate, by the time he gets his boat up we shall get the start
of him--ay, there he fills and falls off, to go and meet her. He'll
soon be after us, Captain Spike, at racing speed."
Everything occurred as those two mariners had foreseen. The revenue
cutter, one of the usual fore-top-sail schooners that are employed
in that service, up and down the coast, had no sooner hoisted up her
boat, than she made sail, a little off the wind, on a line to close
with the Swash. As for the brig, she had hauled up to an easy
bowline, as she came round Montauk, and was now standing off south
southeast, still having the wind at south-west. The weatherly
position of the cutter enabled her to steer rather more than one
point freer. At the commencement of this chase, the vessels were
about a mile and a half apart, a distance too great to enable the
cutter to render the light guns she carried available, and it was
obvious from the first, that everything depended on speed. And speed
it was, truly; both vessels fairly flying; the Molly Swash having at
last met with something very like her match. Half an hour satisfied
both Spike and Mulford that, by giving the cutter the advantage of
one point in a freer wind, she would certainly get alongside of
them, and the alternative was therefore to keep off.
"A starn chase is a long chase, all the world over," cried
Spike--"edge away, sir; edge away, sir, and bring the cutter well on
This order was obeyed; but to the surprise of those in the Swash,
the cutter did not exactly follow, though she kept off a little
more. Her object seemed to be to maintain her weatherly position,
and in this manner the two vessels ran on for an hour longer, until
the Swash had made most of the distance between Montauk and Blok
Island. Objects were even becoming dimly visible on the last, and
the light on the point was just becoming visible, a lone star above
a waste of desert, the sun having been down now fully a quarter of
an hour, and twilight beginning to draw the curtain of night over
"A craft under Blok," shouted the look-out, that was still kept
aloft as a necessary precaution.
"What sort of a craft?" demanded Spike, fiercely; for the very
mention of a sail, at that moment, aroused all his ire. "Arn't you
making a frigate out of an apple-orchard?"
"It's the steamer, sir. I can now see her smoke. She's just clearing
the land, on the south side of the island, and seems to be coming
round to meet us."
A long, low, eloquent whistle from the captain, succeeded this
announcement. The man aloft was right. It was the steamer, sure
enough; and she had been lying hid behind Blok Island, exactly as
her consort had been placed behind Montauk, in waiting for their
chase to arrive. The result was, to put the Molly Swash in exceeding
jeopardy, and the reason why the cutter kept so well to windward was
fully explained. To pass out to sea between these two craft was
hopeless. There remained but a single alternative from capture by
one or by the other,--and that Spike adopted instantly. He kept his
brig dead away, setting studding-sails on both sides. This change of
course brought the cutter nearly aft, or somewhat on the other
quarter, and laid the brig's head in a direction to carry her close
to the northern coast of the island. But the principal advantage was
gained over the steamer, which could not keep off, without first
standing a mile or two, or even more, to the westward, in order to
clear the land. This was so much clear gain to the Swash, which was
running off at racing speed, on a north-east course, while her most
dangerous enemy was still heading to the westward. As for the
cutter, she kept away; but it was soon apparent that the brig had
the heels of her, dead before the wind.
Darkness now began to close around the three vessels; the brig and
the schooner soon becoming visible to each other principally by
means of their night-glasses; though the steamer's position could be
easily distinguished by means of her flaming chimney. This latter
vessel stood to the westward for a quarter of an hour, when her
commander appeared to become suddenly conscious of the ground he was
losing, and he wore short round, and went off before the wind, under
steam and canvas; intending to meet the chase off the northern side
of the island. The very person who had hailed the Swash, as she was
leaving the wharf, who had passed her in Hell-Gate, with Jack Tier
in his boat, and who had joined her off Throgmorton's, was now on
her deck, urging her commander by every consideration not to let the
brig escape. It was at his suggestion that the course was changed.
Nervous, and eager to seize the brig, he prevailed on the commander
of the steamer to alter his course. Had he done no more than this,
all might have been well; but so exaggerated were his notions of the
Swash's sailing, that, instead of suffering the steamer to keep
close along the eastern side of the island, he persuaded her
commander of the necessity of standing off a long distance to the
northward and eastward, with a view to get ahead of the chase. This
was not bad advice, were there any certainly that Spike would stand
on, of which, however, he had no intention.
The night set in dark and cloudy; and, the instant that Spike saw,
by means of the flaming chimney, that the steamer had wore, and was
going to the eastward of Blok, his plan was laid. Calling to
Mulford, he communicated it to him, and was glad to find that his
intelligent mate was of his own way of thinking. The necessary
orders were given, accordingly, and everything was got ready for its
In the meantime, the two revenue craft were much in earnest. The
schooner was one of the fastest in the service, and had been placed
under Montauk, as described, in the confident expectation of her
being able to compete with even the Molly Swash successfully, more
especially if brought upon a bowline. Her commander watched the
receding form of the brig with the closest attention, until it was
entirely swallowed up in the darkness, under the land, towards which
he then sheered himself, in order to prevent the Swash from hauling
up, and turning to windward, close in under the shadow of the
island. Against this manoeuvre, however, the cutter had now taken an
effectual precaution, and her people were satisfied that escape in
that way was impossible.
On the other hand, the steamer was doing very well. Driven by the
breeze, and propelled by her wheels, away she went, edging further
and further from the island, as the person from the Custom-House
succeeded, as it might be, inch by inch, in persuading the captain
of the necessity of his so doing. At length a sail was dimly seen
ahead, and then no doubt was entertained that the brig had got to
the northward and eastward of them. Half an hour brought the steamer
alongside of this sail, which turned out to be a brig that had come
over the shoals, and was beating into the ocean, on her way to one
of the southern ports. Her captain said there had nothing passed to
Round went the steamer, and in went all her canvas. Ten minutes
later the look-out saw a sail to the westward, standing before the
wind. Odd as it might seem, the steamer's people now fancied they
were sure of the Swash. There she was, coming directly for them,
with squared yards! The distance was short, or a vessel could not
have been seen by that light, and the two craft were soon near each
other. A gun was actually cleared on board the steamer, ere it was
ascertained that the stranger was the schooner! It was now midnight,
and nothing was in sight but the coasting brig. Reluctantly, the
revenue people gave the matter up; the Molly Swash having again
eluded them, though by means unknown.
"Leander dived for love, Leucadia's cliff
The Lesbian Sappho leap'd from in a miff,
To punish Phaon; Icarus went dead,
Because the wax did not continue stiff;
And, had he minded what his father said,
He had not given a name unto his watery bed."
We must now advance the time several days, and change the scene to a
distant part of the ocean; within the tropics indeed. The females
had suffered slight attacks of sea-sickness, and recovered from
them, and the brig was safe from all her pursuers. The manner of
Spike's escape was simple enough, and without any necromancy. While
the steamer, on the one hand, was standing away to the northward and
eastward, in order to head him off, and the schooner was edging in
with the island, in order to prevent his beating up to windward of
it, within its shadows, the brig had run close round the northern
margin of the land, and hauled up to leeward of the island, passing
between it and the steamer. All this time, her movements were
concealed from the schooner by the island itself, and from the
steamer, by its shadow and dark back-ground, aided by the distance.
By making short tacks, this expedient answered perfectly well; and,
at the very moment when the two revenue vessels met, at midnight,
about three leagues to leeward of Blok Island, the brigantine, Molly
Swash, was just clearing its most weatherly point, on the larboard
tack, and coming out exactly at the spot where the steamer was when
first seen that afternoon. Spike stood to the westward, until he was
certain of having the island fairly between him and his pursuers,
when he went about, and filled away on his course, running out to
sea again on an easy bowline. At sunrise the next day he was fifty
miles to the southward and eastward of Montauk; the schooner was
going into New London, her officers and people quite chop-fallen;
and the steamer was paddling up the Sound, her captain being fully
persuaded that the runaways had returned in the direction from which
they had come, and might yet be picked up in that quarter.
The weather was light, just a week after the events related in the
close of the last chapter. By this time the brig had got within the
influence of the trades; and, it being the intention of Spike to
pass to the southward of Cuba, he had so far profited by the
westerly winds, as to get well to the eastward of the Mona Passage,
the strait through which he intended to shape his course on making
the islands. Early on that morning Mrs. Budd had taken her seat on
the trunk of the cabin, with a complacent air, and arranged her
netting, some slight passages of gallantry, on the part of the
captain, having induced her to propose netting him a purse. Biddy
was going to and fro, in quest of silks and needles, her mistress
having become slightly capricious in her tastes of late, and giving
her, on all such occasions, at least a double allowance of
occupation. As for Rose, she sat reading beneath the shade of the
coach-house deck, while the handsome young mate was within three
feet of her, working up his logarithms, but within the sanctuary of
his own state-room; the open door and window of which, however, gave
him every facility he could desire to relieve his mathematics, by
gazing at the sweet countenance of his charming neighbor. Jack Tier
and Josh were both passing to and fro, as is the wont of stewards,
between the camboose and the cabin, the breakfast table being just
then in the course of preparation. In all other respects, always
excepting the man at the wheel, who stood within a fathom of Rose,
Spike had the quarter-deck to himself, and did not fail to pace its
weather-side with an air that denoted the master and owner. After
exhibiting his sturdy, but short, person in this manner, to the
admiring eyes of all beholders, for some time, the captain suddenly
took a seat at the side of the relict, and dropped into the
"The weather is moderate, Madam Budd; quite moderate," observed
Spike, a sentimental turn coming over him at the moment. "What I
call moderate and agreeable."
"So much the better for us; the ladies are fond of moderation, sir."
"Not in admiration, Madam Budd--ha! ha! ha! no, not in admiration.
Immoderation is what they like when it comes to that. I'm a single
man, but I know that the ladies like admiration--mind where you're
sheering to," the captain said, interrupting himself a little
fiercely, considering the nature of the subject, in consequence of
Jack Tier's having trodden on his toe in passing--"or I'll teach you
the navigation of the quarter-deck, Mr. Burgoo!"
"Moderation--moderation, my good captain," said the simpering
relict. "As to admiration, I confess that it is agreeable to us
ladies; more especially when it comes from gentlemen of sense, and
intelligence, and experience."
Rose fidgeted, having heard every word that was said, and her face
flushed; for she doubted not that Harry's ears were as good as her
own. As for the man at the wheel, he turned the tobacco over in his
mouth, hitched up his trousers, and appeared interested, though
somewhat mystified--the conversation was what he would have termed
"talking dictionary," and he had some curiosity to learn how the
captain would work his way out of it. It is probable that Spike
himself had some similar gleamings of the difficulties of his
position, for he looked a little troubled, though still resolute. It
was the first time he had ever lain yard-arm and yard-arm with a
widow, and he had long entertained a fancy that such a situation was
trying to the best of men.
"Yes, Madam Budd, yes," he said, "exper'ence and sense carry weight
with 'em, wherever they go. I'm glad to find that you entertain
these just notions of us gentlemen, and make a difference between
boys and them that's seen and known exper'ence. For my part, I count
youngsters under forty as so much lumber about decks, as to any
comfort and calculations in keepin' a family, as a family ought to
Mrs. Budd looked interested, but she remained silent on hearing this
remark, as became her sex.
"Every man ought to settle in life, some time or other, Madam Budd,
accordin' to my notion, though no man ought to be in a boyish haste
about it," continued the captain. "Now, in my own case, I've been so
busy all my youth--not that I'm very old now, but I'm no boy--but
all my younger days have been passed in trying to make things meet,
in a way to put any lady who might take a fancy to me--"
"Oh! captain--that is too strong! The ladies do not take fancies for
gentlemen, but the gentlemen take fancies for ladies!"
"Well, well, you know what I mean, Madam Budd; and so long as the
parties understand each other, a word dropped, or a word put into a
charter-party, makes it neither stronger nor weaker. There's a time,
howsomever, in every man's life, when he begins to think of settling
down, and of considerin' himself as a sort of mooring-chain, for
children and the likes of them to make fast to. Such is my natur', I
will own; and ever since I've got to be intimate in your family,
Madam Budd, that sentiment has grown stronger and stronger in me,
till it has got to be uppermost in all my idees. Bone of my bone,
and flesh of my flesh, as a body might say."
Mrs. Budd now looked more than interested, for she looked a little
confused, and Rose began to tremble for her aunt. It was evident
that the parties most conspicuous in this scene were not at all
conscious that they were overheard, the intensity of their attention
being too much concentrated on what was passing to allow of any
observation without their own narrow circle. What may be thought
still more extraordinary, but what in truth was the most natural of
all, each of the parties was so intently bent on his, or her, own
train of thought, that neither in the least suspected any mistake.
"Grown with your growth, and strengthened with your strength,"
rejoined the relict, smiling kindly enough on the captain to have
encouraged a much more modest man than he happened to be.
"Yes, Madam Budd--very just that remark; grown with my strength, and
strengthened with my growth, as one might say; though I've not done
much at growing for a good many years. Your late husband, Captain
Budd, often remarked how very early I got my growth; and rated me as
an `able-bodied' hand, when most lads think it an honour to be
placed among the `or'naries.'"
The relict looked grave; and she wondered at any man's being so
singular as to allude to a first husband, at the very moment he was
thinking of offering himself for a second. As for herself, she had
not uttered as many words in the last four years, as she had uttered
in that very conversation, without making some allusion to her "poor
dear Mr. Budd." The reader is not to do injustice to the captain's
widow, however, by supposing for a moment that she was actually so
weak as to feel any tenderness for a man like Spike, which would be
doing a great wrong to both her taste and her judgment, as Rose well
knew, even while most annoyed by the conversation she could not but
overhear. All that influenced the good relict was that besetting
weakness of her sex, which renders admiration so universally
acceptable; and predisposes a female, as it might be, to listen to a
suitor with indulgence, and some little show of kindness, even when
resolute to reject him. As for Rose, to own the truth, her aunt did
not give her a thought, as yet, notwithstanding Spike was getting to
be so sentimental.
"Yes, your late excellent and honourable consort always said that I
got my growth sooner than any youngster he ever fell in with,"
resumed the captain, after a short pause; exciting fresh wonder in
his companion, that he would persist in lugging in the "dear
departed" so very unseasonably. "I am a great admirer of all the
Budd family, my good lady, and only wish my connection with it had
never tarminated; if tarminated it can be called."
"It need not be terminated, Captain Spike, so long as friendship
exists in the human heart."
"Ay, so it is always with you ladies; when a man is bent on suthin'
closer and more interestin' like, you're for putting it off on
friendship. Now friendship is good enough in its way, Madam Budd,
but friendship is n't love."
"Love!" echoed the widow, fairly starting, though she looked down at
her netting, and looked as confused as she knew how. "That is a very
decided word, Captain Spike, and should never be mentioned to a
woman's ear lightly."
So the captain now appeared to think, too, for no sooner had he
delivered himself of the important monosyllable, than he left the
widow's side, and began to pace the deck, as it might be to moderate
his own ardour. As for Rose, she blushed, if her more practised aunt
did not; while Harry Mulford laughed heartily, taking good care,
however, not to be heard. The man at the wheel turned the tobacco
again, gave his trousers another hitch, and wondered anew whither
the skipper was bound. But the drollest manifestation of surprise
came from Josh, the steward, who was passing along the lee-side of
the quarter-deck, with a tea-pot in his hand, when the energetic
manner of the captain sent the words "friendship is n't love" to his
ears. This induced him to stop for a single instant, and to cast a
wondering glance behind him; after which he moved on toward the
galley, mumbling as he went--"Lub! what he want of lub, or what lub
want of him! Well, I do t'ink Captain Spike bowse his jib out pretty
'arly dis mornin'."
Captain Spike soon got over the effects of his effort, and the
confusion of the relict did not last any material length of time. As
the former had gone so far, however, he thought the present an
occasion as good as another to bring matters to a crisis.
"Our sentiments sometimes get to be so strong, Madam Budd," resumed
the lover, as he took his seat again on the trunk, "that they run
away with us. Men is liable to be run away with as well as ladies. I
once had a ship run away with me, and a pretty time we had of it.
Did you ever hear of a ship's running away with her people, Madam
Budd, just as your horse ran away with your buggy?"
"I suppose I must have heard of such things, sir, my education
having been so maritime, though just at this moment I cannot recall
an instance. When my horse ran away, the buggy was cap-asided. Did
your vessel cap-aside on the occasion you mention?"
"No, Madam Budd, no. The ship was off the wind at the time I mean,
and vessels do not capsize when off the wind. I'll tell you how it
happened. We was a scuddin' under a goose-wing foresail--"
"Yes, yes," interrupted the relict, eagerly. "I've often heard of
that sail, which is small, and used only in tempests."
"Heavy weather, Madam Budd--only in heavy weather."
"It is amazing to me, captain, how you seamen manage to weigh the
weather. I have often heard of light weather and heavy weather, but
never fairly understood the manner of weighing it."
"Why we do make out to ascertain the difference," replied the
captain, a little puzzled for an answer; "and I suppose it must be
by means of the barometer, which goes up and down like a pair of
scales. But the time I mean, we was a scuddin' under a goose-wing
"A sail made of goose's wings, and a beautiful object it must be;
like some of the caps and cloaks that come from the islands, which
are all of feathers, and charming objects are they. I beg
pardon--you had your goose's wings spread--"
"Yes, Madam Budd, yes; we was steering for a Mediterranean port,
intending to clear a mole-head, when a sea took us under the
larboard-quarter, gave us such a sheer to-port as sent our cat-head
ag'in a spile, and raked away the chain-plates of the top-mast