Part 3 out of 9
every act of the young man that was any way connected with her;
preventing his even feigning that religion which he certainly did not
feel, and the want of which was the sole obstacle to the union he had
now solicited for near a twelvemonth, and which, of all others, was the
object by far the closest to his heart. With Andrea Barrofaldi and Vito
Viti, and most especially with the hated English, it was a very
different thing, however; and seldom was Raoul happier than when he was
employed in precisely such a scene of mystification as that in which he
was at that moment engaged.
The vice-governatore having established relations so completely amicable
with the "Signor Smees," could do no less than invite his guest to enter
the palazzo, along with himself and the podesta. As it was yet too light
for the sailor to seek an interview with Ghita, he cheerfully accepted
the offer; making a careful examination of the whole of the northern
margin of the sea, from his elevated position, however, before he
crossed the threshold. This little delay on Raoul's part enabled the
podesta to have a passing word with his friend unobserved.
"You have found 'Sir Smees,'" said Vito Viti, with earnestness, "all
that your wisdom and prudence could desire, I trust? For my part, I
consider him a most interesting youth; one destined at some future time
to lead fleets and dispose of the fortunes of nations."
"He is more amiable and even better informed than I had thought,
neighbor Vito Viti. He gives up his Sir Cicero with a grace that causes
one regret it was necessary; and, like yourself, I make no doubt of his
becoming an illustrious admiral in time. It is true his father, 'Milordo
Smees,' has not done justice to his education; but it is not too late
yet to repair that evil. Go, desire him to enter; for I am impatient to
draw his attention to certain works that may be useful to one in his
line of life."
At this suggestion the podesta returned to the door in order to usher
the imaginary Guernsey-man into the residence. He found Raoul still
standing on the entrance, examining the sea, There were two or three
coasters, feluccas, as usual, stealing along the coast, in the Italian
fashion, equally afraid of the barbarians of the south shore and of the
French of the north. All these would have been good prizes; but, to do
the privateersman justice, he was little in the habit of molesting
mariners of so low a class. There was one felucca, however, that was
just rounding the promontory, coming in from the north; and with the
people of this craft he determined to have some communication as soon as
he returned to the port, with a view to ascertain if she had fallen in
with the frigate. Just as he had come to this resolution, the podesta
joined him, and he was ushered into the house.
It is unnecessary to give the discourse which succeeded. It related more
to literature and matters in general than to anything connected with our
tale, the worthy vice-govenatore being disposed to reward the
ingenuousness of the young sailor, by furnishing him as much instruction
as the time and circumstances would allow. Raoul bore this very well,
waiting patiently for the light to disappear, when he felt a perfect
confidence of again meeting Ghita on the promenade. As he had discovered
how much more safety there was in diffidence than in pretension, he
found his task of deception comparatively easy; and by letting the
vice-governatore have his own way, he not only succeeded in gaining that
functionary over to a full belief in his assumed nationality, but in
persuading him to believe the "Signor Smees" a young man of even more
erudition than he had at first supposed. By means as simple and natural
as these, Raoul made more progress in the good graces of Andrea
Barrofaldi in the next two hours, than he could have done in a year by
setting up his own knowledge and reading as authority.
There is little doubt that the vice-governatore found this interview
agreeable, from the time he was disposed to waste on it; and, it is
certain, Raoul thought it some of the hardest duty in which he had ever
been engaged. As for Vito Viti, he was edified, and he did not care to
conceal it, giving frequent manifestations of his satisfaction by
expressions of delight; occasionally venturing a remark, as if expressly
to betray his own ignorance.
"I have often known you great, vice-governatore," he cried, when Andrea
had closed a dissertation on the earlier history of all the northern
nations, which lasted fully half an hour, "but never so great as you are
to-night! Signore, you have been most illustrious this evening! Is it
not so, Signor Smees? Could any professor of Pisa, or even of Papua, do
more justice to a subject than we have seen done to this to which we
have been listening?"
"Signor Podesta," added Raoul, "but one feeling has prevailed in my mind
while attending to what has been said; and that has been deep regret
that my profession has cut me off from all these rich stores of profound
thought. But it is permitted us to admire that even which we
"Quite true, Signori," answered Andrea, with gentle benevolence, "but
with dispositions like yours, Sir Smees, it is not so very difficult to
imitate what we admire. I will write out a list of works which I would
recommend to your perusal; and, by touching at Livorno or Napoli, you
will obtain all the books at reasonable prices. You may expect to see
the list on your breakfast table to-morrow morning, as I shall not sleep
until it is completed."
Raoul gladly seized upon this promise as a hint to depart, and he took
his leave with suitable acknowledgments of gratitude and delight. When
he got out of the palazzo, however, he gave a long, low whistle, like a
man who felt he had escaped from a scene in which persecution had been a
little lightened by the ridiculous, and uttered a few curses on the
nations of the north, for being so inconsiderate as to have histories so
much longer and more elaborate than he conceived to be at all necessary.
All this passed as he hastened along the promenade, which he found
deserted, every human being having apparently left it. At length he
thought he perceived a female form some distance ahead of him and in a
part of the walk that was never much frequented. Hastening toward it,
his quick eye discerned the person of her he sought, evidently waiting
for his approach.
"Raoul," exclaimed Ghita, reproachfully, "in what will these often
repeated risks finally end? When so fairly and cleverly out of the
harbor of Porto Ferrajo, why did you not possess the prudence to
"Thou know'st the reason, Ghita, and why ask this question? San Nettuno!
was it not handsomely done; and is not this brave vice-governatore
rarely mystified!--I sometimes think, Ghita, I have mistaken my
vocation, which should have been that of a diplomate."
"And why a diplomate in particular, Raoul--thou art too honest to
deceive long, whatever thou may'st do on an occasion like this, and in a
"Why?--but no matter. This Andrea Barrofaldi and this Vito Viti will one
day know why. And now to our business, Ghita, since le Feu-Follet cannot
always decorate the bay of Porto Ferrajo."
"True," interrupted the girl, "and I have come for no other purpose than
to say as much myself. My dear uncle has arrived, and he intends to
sail for the Torri with the first felucca."
"There!--this has done more to make me believe in a Providence than all
the preaching of all the padri of Italy! Here is the lugger to take the
place of the felucca, and we can sail this very night. My cabin shall be
yours entirely, and with your uncle for a protector no one can raise an
evil tongue against the step."
Ghita, to own the truth, expected this very offer, which, agreeable as
it was, her sense of propriety would certainly have prevented her from
accepting, but for one consideration: it might be made the means of
getting Raoul out of an enemy's port and, in so much, out of harm's way.
This, with one of her affectionate heart, was an object to which she
would have sacrificed appearances of even a graver character. We do not
wish the reader, however, to get a false impression of this girl's
habits and education. Although the latter, in many particulars, was
superior to that received by most young women of her class in life, the
former were simple, and suited to her station, as well as to the usages
of her country. She had not been brought up with that severe restraint
which regulates the deportment of the young Italian females of
condition, perhaps in a degree just as much too severely, as it leaves
the young American too little restrained; but she had been taught all
that decorum and delicacy required, either for the beautiful or the
safe, and her notions inculcated the inexpediency, if not the
impropriety, of one in her situation taking a passage in a privateer at
all, and particularly so one commanded by an avowed lover. But, on the
other hand, the distance between Porto Ferrajo and the Towers was only
about fifty miles, and a few hours would suffice to place her in safety
beneath her own roof, and, what was of more importance in her view just
then, Raoul in safety along with her. On all this had she pondered, and
she was consequently prepared with an answer to the proposal that had
just been made.
"If my uncle and myself could accept this generous offer, when would it
be convenient for you to sail, Raoul?" the girl demanded; "we have now
been absent longer than we intended, and longer than we ought."
"Within an hour, if there were any wind. But you see how it is, Ghita;
the zephyr has done blowing, and it now seems as if every fan of Italy
had gone to sleep. You can depend on our sailing the instant it shall be
in our power. At need, we will use the sweeps."
"I will then see my uncle and mention to him that there is a vessel
about to sail, in which we had better embark. Is it not odd, Raoul, that
he is profoundly ignorant of your being in the bay? He gets more and
more lost to things around him every day, and I do believe he does not
recollect that you command an enemy's vessel half the time."
"Let him trust to me; he shall never have occasion to know it, Ghita."
"We are assured of that, Raoul. The generous manner in which you
interposed to save us from the corsair of the Algerines, which began our
acquaintance, and for which we shall always have occasion to bless you,
has made peace between you and _us_ for ever. But for your timely
succor, last summer, my uncle and myself would now have been slaves with
"That is another thing that inclines me to believe in a Providence,
Ghita! Little did I know, when rescuing you and your good kinsman from
the boat of the Algerine, who I was saving. And yet you see how all has
come to pass, and that in serving you I have merely been
"Would thou could'st learn to serve that God who disposes of us all at
his holy pleasure!" murmured Ghita, tears forcing themselves to her
eyes, and a convulsive effort alone suppressing the deep emotion with
which she uttered the words: "but we thank thee again and again, Raoul,
as the instrument of his mercy in the affair of the Algerine, and are
willing to trust to thee now and always. It will be easy to induce my
uncle to embark; but, as he knows thy real character when he chooses to
recollect it, I hardly think it will do to say with _whom_. We must
arrange an hour and a place to meet, when I will see to his being there
and in readiness."
Raoul and Ghita next discussed the little details; a place of rendezvous
without the town, a short distance below the wine-house of Benedetta,
being selected, in preference to choosing one that would necessarily
subject them to observation. This portion of the arrangements was soon
settled, and then Ghita thought it prudent to separate. In this proposal
her companion acquiesced with a better grace than he might have done,
had he not the girl's assurance of meeting him within an hour, in order
that everything might be ready for a start with the first appearance
When left alone, Raoul bethought him that Ithuel and Filippo were on
shore as usual, the New Hampshire man consenting to serve only on
condition of being allowed to land; a privilege he always abused by
driving a contraband trade on occasions like the present. So great was
the fellow's dexterity in such matters, that Raoul--who disdained
smuggling, while he thought himself compelled to wink at it in
others--had less apprehensions of his committing the lugger than he
might have felt in the case of one less cunning. But it was now
necessary to get these two men off or abandon them; and fortunately
remembering the name of the wine-house where they had taken their
potations the previous night, he repaired to it without delay, luckily
finding Ithuel and his interpreter deep in the discussion of another
flask of the favorite Tuscan beverage. 'Maso and his usual companions
were present also, and there being nothing unusual in the commander of
an English ship of war's liking good liquor, Raoul, to prevent
suspicion, drew a chair and asked for his glass. By the conversation
that followed, the young privateersman felt satisfied that, though he
might have succeeded in throwing dust into the eyes of the
vice-governatore and the podesta, these experienced old seamen still
distrusted his character. It was so unusual a thing for a French
frigate, while it was so usual for an English frigate to be standing
along the coast, near in, that these mariners, who were familiar with
all such matters, had joined this circumstance to the suspicious signs
about the lugger, and were strongly disposed to believe the truth
concerning both vessels. To all this, however, Raoul was more
indifferent than he might have been but for the arrangement to sail so
soon. He took his wine, therefore, with apparent indifference, and in
proper season withdrew, carrying with him Ithuel and the Genoese.
"Within our bay, one stormy night,
The isle's men saw boats make for shore,
With here and there a dancing light
That flashed on man and oar.
When hailed, the rowing stopped, and all was dark.
Ha! lantern work!--We'll home! They're playing shark."
It was dark when Raoul quitted the government-house, leaving Andrea
Barrofaldi and Vito Viti in the library of the former. No sooner was the
young seaman's back turned, than the vice-governatore, who was in a
humor to display his acquirements, resumed a discussion that he had
found so agreeable to his self-esteem.
"It is easy to see, good Vito Viti, that this young Inglese is a gentle
of noble birth, though not of a liberal education," he said; "doubtless
his father, Milordo Smees, has a large family, and the usages of England
are different from those of Italy, in respect to birthright. There, the
eldest son alone inherits the honors of the family, while the cadets are
put into the army and navy to earn new distinctions. Nelsoni is the son
of a priest, I hear--"
"Cospetto! of a padre! Signor Vice-governatore," interrupted the
podesta--"it is most indecent to _own_ it. A priest must be possessed of
the devil himself to _own_ his issue; though issue he may
"There, again, good Vito, it is different with the Luterani and us
Catholics. The priests of England, you will please remember, marry,
while ours do not."
"I should not like to be shrived by such a padre! The man would be
certain to tell his wife all I confessed; and the saints could only say
what would be the end on't. Porto Ferrajo would soon be too hot to hold
an honest man--aye, or even an honest woman in the bargain."
"But the Luterani do not confess, and are never shrived at all, you will
"San Stefano!--How do they expect, then, ever to get to heaven?"
"I will not answer that they do, friend Vito--and we are certain that if
they _have_ such expectations they must be most treacherous to them.
But, talking of this Sir Smees, you perceive in his air and manner the
finesse of the Anglo-Saxon race; which is a people altogether distinct
from the ancient Gauls, both in history and character. Pietro Giannone,
in his _Storia, Civile del Regno di Napoli_, speaks of the Normans, who
were a branch of these adventurers, with great interest and
particularity; and I think I can trace in this youth some of the very
peculiarities that are so admirably delineated in his well-told but too
free writings. Well, Pietro; I was not speaking of thee, but of a
namesake of thine, of the family of Giannone, an historian of Naples, of
note and merit--what is thy will?"
This question was put to a servant, who entered at that moment, holding
in his hand a piece of paper, which he desired to lay before his master.
"A cavaliere is without, Signor Andrea, who asks the honor of an
audience, and who sends in his name, as your eccellenza will find it on
The vice-governatore took the slip of paper and read aloud: "Edward
Griffin, tenente della marina Inglesa."
"Ah! here is an officer sent from 'ze Ving-y-Ving' with some
communication, friend Vito; it is fortunate you are still here to hear
what he has to say. Show the lieutenant in, Pietro."
One who understood Englishmen better than Andrea Barrofaldi would have
been satisfied at a glance that he who now entered was really a native
of that country. He was a young man of some two or three and twenty, of
a ruddy, round, good-natured face, wearing an undress coat of the
service to which he professed to belong, and whose whole air and manner
betrayed his profession quite as much as his country. The salutations he
uttered were in very respectable Italian, familiarity with the language
being the precise reason why he had been selected for the errand on
which he had come. After these salutations he put a piece of parchment
into Andrea's hand, remarking:
"If you read English, Signore, you will perceive by that commission I am
the person I represent myself to be."
"Doubtless, Signor Tenente, you belong to ze Ving-y-Ving and are a
subordinate of Sir Smees?"
The young man looked surprised and at the same time half disposed to
laugh, though a sense of decorum suppressed the latter inclination.
"I belong to His Britannic Majesty's ship Proserpine, Signore," he dryly
answered, "and know not what you mean by the Ving-y-Ving. Captain Cuffe
of that ship, the frigate you saw off your harbor this morning, has sent
me down in the felucca that got in this evening to communicate
intelligence concerning the lugger which we chased to the southward
about nine o'clock, but which, I see, is again snug at her anchor in
this bay. Our ship was lying behind Capraya when I left her, but will be
here to take me off, and to hear the news, before daylight, should the
wind ever blow again."
Andrea Barrofaldi and Vito Viti stared, and that, too, as if a
messenger had come from the lower regions to summon them away for their
misdeeds. Lieutenant Griffin spoke unusually good Italian for a
foreigner, and his manner of proceeding was so straightforward and
direct as to carry with it every appearance of truth.
"You do not know what I mean by ze Ving-y-Ving?" demanded the
vice-governatore, with emphasis.
"To be frank with you, I do not, Signore. Ving-y-Ving is not English;
nor do I know that it is Italian."
Mr. Griffin lost a good deal of ground by this assertion, which implied
a doubt of Andrea's knowledge of foreign tongues.
"You say, Signor Tenente, if I comprehend your meaning, that Ving-y-Ving
is not English?"
"Indeed I do, sir; at least no English that I have ever heard spoken, at
sea or ashore; and we seamen have a language of our own."
"Will you, then, permit me to ask you what is the translation of _ala e
ala_, word for word?"
The lieutenant paused a moment and pondered. Then he laughed
involuntarily, checking himself almost immediately with an air of
respect and gravity.
"I believe I now understand you, Signor Vice-governatore," he said; "we
have a sea-phrase something like this, to describe a fore-and-aft vessel
with her sails swinging off on both sides; but _we_ call it
"Si, Signore--ving-y-ving. Such is the name of the lugger of your king
that now lies in our bay."
"Ah! we thought as much, Signori; the scoundrel has deceived you, as he
has done a hundred before you, and will do a hundred again unless we
catch him to-night. The lugger is a celebrated French privateer, that we
have six cruisers in chase of at this moment, our own ship included. She
is called le Feu-Follet, which is not Wing-and-Wing, but
Will-o'-the-Wisp, or Jack-o'-Lantern, in English; and which you, in
Italian, would call _il Fuoco Fatuo_. Her commander is Raoul Yvard than
whom there is not a greater desperado sailing out of France; thought it
is admitted that the fellow has some good--nay, some _noble_ qualities."
At every word uttered by the lieutenant, a page of history was blotted
out from the memory of his listener. The vice-governatore had heard the
name of Raoul Yvard, and even that of le Feu-Follet, which the
malignancy of a bitter war had blackened nearly to the hues of piracy.
The thought that he had been the dupe of this corsair--nay, that he had
actually been entertaining him with honors and hospitality, within an
hour--was almost too much for his philosophy. Men do not often submit to
such humiliating sensations without a struggle; and before he would, or
could, accord full credence to what was now told him, it was natural to
oppose the objections that first offered.
"All this _must_ be a mistake," observed the vice-governatore; "there
are English as well as French luggers; and this is one of the former.
Her commander is a noble English gentleman, a son of Milordo Smees; and
though his education has been in a trifling degree neglected, he shows
his origin and national character in all he says and does. Ze
Ving-y-Ving is commanded by Sir Smees, a young officer of merit, as you
must have seen yourself, Signore, by his evolutions this very morning.
Surely, you have heard of Il Capitano Sir Smees, the son of
"We do not deny that his escape this morning was a clever thing,
Vice-governatore, for the fellow is a seaman, every inch of him, and he
is as brave as a lion; but, then, he is as impudent as a beggar's dog.
There is no Sir Smees, nor Sir Anybody else, in command of any of our
luggers anywhere. In the Mediterranean we have no cruiser of this rig at
all; and the two or three we have elsewhere are commanded by old
sea-dogs who have been brought up in that sort of craft. As for Sirs,
they are scarce out here, though the battle of the Nile has made a few
of them for the navy. Then you'll not meet with a nobleman's sort in a
clipper like this, for that sort of gentry generally go from a frigate's
quarter-deck into a good sloop, as commander, and, after a twelvemonth's
work or so in the small one, into a fast frigate again, as a
Much of this was gibberish to Andrea Barrofaldi, but Griffin being
exclusively naval, he fancied every one ought to take the same interest
as he did himself in all these matters. But, while the Vice-governatore
did not understand more than half of the other's meaning, that half
sufficed to render him exceedingly uneasy. The natural manner of the
lieutenant, too, carried conviction with it, while all the original
impressions against the lugger were revived by his statements.
"What say you, Signor Vito Viti?" demanded Andrea; "you have been
present at the interviews with Sir Smees."
"That we have been deceived by one of the most oily-tongued rogues that
ever took in honest men, if we have been deceived at all,
vice-governatore. Last evening I would have believed this; but since the
escape and return of the lugger I could have sworn that we had an
excellent friend and ally in our bay."
"You had your signals, Signor Tenente; and that is proof of amity and
"We made our number when we saw the lugger with an English ensign set,
for we did not suppose a Frenchman would be quietly lying in a Tuscan
port; but the answer we got was nonsense; and then we remembered to have
heard that this Raoul Yvard was in the habit of playing such tricks all
along the Italian coast. Once on the scent, we were not the men to be
easily thrown off it. You saw the chase and know the result."
"There must be some error in all this! Would it not be well, Signore, to
see the commander of the lugger--or to go on board of her and satisfy
yourself with your own eyes of the truth or falsehood of your surmises?
Ten minutes might clear up everything."
"Your pardon, Signor Vice-governatore; were I to trust myself on board
le Feu-Follet, I might remain a prisoner until a peace was made; and I
have yet two steps to gain before I can afford that risk. Then as to
letting Yvard know of my presence here, it would just give him the
alarm, and cause us to lose the bird before we can spring the net. My
orders are positive, not to let any one but the authorities of the
island know of my visit or its object. All we ask of you is to detain
the lugger until morning; then _we_ will see to it that she will never
trouble the Italian coast again."
"Nay, Signore, we have guns of our own and could easily dispose of so
small a vessel, once assured of her being an enemy," returned the
vice-governatore, with a little pride and loftiness of manner; "convince
us of that fact, and we'll sink the lugger at her anchors."
"That is just what we do not wish you to do, Signore," answered the
lieutenant, with interest. "From what passed this morning, Captain Cuffe
has thought it probable that Monsieur Yvard, for some reason best known
to himself, would come back here as soon as he was rid of us, or that,
finding himself on the south side of the island, he might put into Porto
Longone; and, had I not met him here, I was to get a horse and ride
across to the latter place and make my arrangements there. We wish by
all means to get possession of the lugger, which, in smooth water, is
the fastest craft in the Mediterranean, and would be of infinite service
to us. We think the Proserpine would prove too much for her, blowing
fresh; but in moderate weather she will go six feet to our five. Now if
you open on her she will either escape or be sunk; for Raoul Yvard is
not a man to strike to a town. All I ask is to be permitted to make
night-signals, for which I am prepared, as soon as the frigate
approaches, and that you will throw all the delays, by means of forms
and permits, in the way of the Frenchman's sailing, until to-morrow
morning. We will answer for the rest."
"I should think there would be but little danger of the lugger's
departing in the night, Signor Tenente, her commander rather expressing
an intention of passing several days with us; and it is this ease and
confidence of his which cause me to think that he cannot be the person
you take him for. Why should Raoul Yvard and le Feu-Follet come into
Porto Ferrajo at all?"
"No one knows: it is the man's habit: and doubtless he has reasons for
it. 'Tis said he has even been in at Gibraltar; and it is certain he has
cut several valuable store-ships out of our convoys. There is an
Austrian loading with iron, I perceive, in the harbor; probably he is
waiting for her to fill up, and finds it easier to watch her at an
anchor than by lying outside."
"You naval gentlemen have ways known only to yourselves; all this may be
so, but it seems an enigma to me. Have you any other proofs of your own
character, Signor Tenente, than the commission you have shown me? for
Sir Smees, as I have been taught to call the commander of the lugger,
has one, too, that has an air of as much authenticity as this you have
shown; and he wears quite as English-looking a uniform; how am I to
judge between you?"
"That difficulty has been foreseen, Signor Vice-governatore, and I come
well provided with the necessary proofs. I handed you my commission, as
that is a document which, if wanting, might throw a distrust on all
other proofs. But here is a communication from your superior at
Florence, recommending us to the kindness of the authorities of all the
Tuscan ports, which you will readily understand. Captain Cuffe has
furnished me with other proofs, which you can look over at
Andrea Barrofaldi now set about a cautious and deliberate examination of
the papers shown him. They proved to be of a nature to remove every
doubt; and it was not possible to distrust the party that presented
them. This was a great deal toward convicting the Signore Smees of
imposition, though both the vice-governatore and the podesta were of
opinion that Captain Cuffe might yet be mistaken as to the identity of
"It is impossible, Signori," answered the lieutenant; "we know every
English cruiser in these seas, by name and description at least, and
most of them by sight. This is none; and everything about her,
particularly her sailing, betrays her real name. We hear there is a man
in her who once belonged to our own ship, a certain Ithuel Bolt--"
"Cospetto!" exclaimed the podesta. "Then we must set down this Sir
Smees, after all, for an arrant rogue; for this is the very man we met
at Benedetta's the past night. An Americano, Signor Tenente, is he not?"
"Why, the fellow _pretends_ to be some such thing," answered the young
man, coloring, for he was loath to confess the wrong that had been done
the deserter; "but half the British seamen one falls in with nowadays
call themselves Americans, in order to escape serving his Majesty. I
rather think this rascal is a Cornish or a Devonshire man; he has the
twang and the nasal sing-song of that part of the island. If an
American, however, we have a better right to him than the French;
speaking our language and being descended from a common ancestry and
having a common character, it is quite unnatural for an American to
serve any but the English."
"I did not know that, Vice-governatore! I thought the Americani a very
inferior sort of people to us Europeans, generally, and that they could
scarcely claim to be our equals in any sense."
"You are quite right, Signor Podesta," said the lieutenant, briskly;
"they are all you think them; and any one can see that at a glance.
Degenerate Englishmen, we call them in the service."
"And yet you take them occasionally, Signor Tenente; and, as I
understand from this Ithuello, frequently contrary to their wishes and
by force," dryly observed Andrea Barrofaldi.
"How can we help it, Signore? The king has a right to and he has need of
the services of all his own seamen; and, in the hurry of impressing, we
sometimes make a mistake. Then, these Yankees are so like our own
people, that I would defy the devil himself to tell them apart."
The vice-governatore thought there was something contradictory in all
this, and he subsequently said as much to his friend the podesta; but
the matter went no further at the moment, most probably because he
ascertained that the young lieutenant was only using what might be
termed a national argument; the English Government constantly protesting
that it was impossible to distinguish one people from the other, _quoad_
this particular practice; while nothing was more offensive to their
eyes, in the abstract, than to maintain any affinity in appearance or
The result of the discussion, notwithstanding, was to make the two
Italians reluctant converts to the opinion of the Englishman, that the
lugger was the dreaded and obnoxious Feu-Follet. Once convinced,
however, shame, revenge, and mortification united with duty to quicken
their exertions and to render them willing assistants in executing the
schemes of Captain Cuffe. It was, perhaps, fortunate for Raoul and his
associates that the English officers had so strong a desire, as Griffin
expressed it, "to take the lugger alive"; else might she have been
destroyed where she lay by removing a gun or two from its proper
embrasure and planting them behind some natural ramparts among the
rocks. The night was dark, it is true, but not so much so as to render a
vessel indistinct at the short distance at which le Feu-Follet lay; and
a cannonade would have been abundantly certain.
When all parties were of a mind as to the true character of the little
craft in the bay, a consultation was had on the details of the course
proper to be pursued. A window of the government-house that looked
toward the direction of Capraya, or that in which the Proserpine was
expected to arrive, was assigned to Griffin. The young man took his
station at it about midnight, in readiness to burn the blue-lights with
which he was provided the instant he should discern the signals of his
ship. The position of this window was well adapted to the desired
object, inasmuch as the lights could not be seen from the town, while
they were plainly open to the sea. The same was essentially true as to
the signals of the frigate, the heights interposing between her and the
houses, and there being a still greater physical impossibility that
anything lying in the bay should discover an object at sea on the
northern side of the promontory.
In this manner, then, did hour after hour pass away, a light land-breeze
blowing, but coming so directly into the bay as to induce Raoul not to
lift his kedge. Ghita and her uncle, Carlo Giuntotardi, had come off
about ten; but there were still no signs of movement on board the
lugger. To own the truth, Raoul was in no hurry to sail, for the longer
his departure was protracted the longer would he have the happiness of
retaining the lovely girl on board; and the zephyr of the succeeding day
would be almost certain to carry le Feu-Follet up to the island-like
promontory of Monte Argentaro, the point where stood the watch-towers of
which Carlo was the keeper, and in one of which he resided. Under these
circumstances, therefore, it is not surprising that the rising of the
land-breeze was overlooked, or at least disregarded; and that Raoul sat
conversing with Ghita on deck until long past midnight, ere he allowed
her to seek her little cabin, where everything had been properly
arranged for her reception. To own the truth, Raoul was so confident of
having completely mystified all on shore that he felt no apprehensions
from that quarter; and, desirous of prolonging his present happiness as
much as possible, he had very coolly determined not to sail until the
southerly air of the morning should come; which, as usual, would just
suffice to carry him well into the canal, when the zephyr would do the
rest. Little did this hardy adventurer suspect what had occurred on
shore since he quitted it; nor was he at all aware that Tommaso Tonti
was at watch in the harbor, ready to report the slightest indication on
the part of the lugger of a wish to quit the bay.
But, while Raoul was so indifferent to the danger he ran, the feeling
was quite the reverse with Ithuel Bolt. The Proserpine was the bane of
this man's life; and he not only hated every stick and every timber in
her, but every officer and man who was attached to her--the king whose
colors she wore and the nation whose interest she served. An active
hatred is the most restless of all passions; and this feeling made
Ithuel keenly alive to every chance which might still render the frigate
dangerous to the lugger. He thought it probable the former would return
in quest of her enemy; and, expressly with a view to this object, when
he turned in at nine he left orders to be called at two, that he might
be on the alert in season.
Ithuel was no sooner awaked when he called two trusty men, whom he had
prepared for the purpose, entered a light boat that was lying in
readiness on the off side of the lugger, and pulled with muffled oars
toward the eastern part of the bay. When sufficiently distant from the
town to escape observation, he changed his course, and proceeded
directly out to sea. Half an hour sufficed to carry the boat as far as
Ithuel deemed necessary, leaving him about a mile from the promontory,
and so far to the westward as to give him a fair view of the window at
which Griffin had taken post.
The first occurrence out of the ordinary course of things that struck
the American was the strong light of a lamp shining through an upper
window of the government-house--not that at which the lieutenant was
posted, but one above it--and which had been placed there expressly as
an indication to the frigate that Griffin had arrived, and was actively
on duty. It was now two o'clock, or an hour or two before the
appearance of light, and the breeze off the adjoining continent was
sufficiently strong to force a good sailing vessel, whose canvas had
been thickened by the damps of night, some four knots through the water;
and as Capraya was less than thirty miles from Porto Ferrajo, abundant
time had been give to the Proserpine to gain her offing; that ship
having come from behind her cover, as soon as the sun had set, and the
haze of evening settled upon the sea.
Ithuel, usually so loquacious and gossiping in his moments of leisure,
was silent and observant when he had anything serious on hand. His eye
was still on the window in which the lamp was visible, the pure olive
oil that was burning in it throwing out a clear, strong flame; when
suddenly a blue-light flashed beneath the place, and he got a momentary
glimpse of the body of the man who held it, as he leaned forward from
another window. The motion which now turned his head seaward was
instinctive; it was just in time to let him detect a light descending
apparently into the water like a falling star; but which, in fact, was
merely a signal lantern of the Proserpine coming rapidly down from the
end of her gaff.
"Ah! d--n you," said Ithuel, grating his teeth and shaking his fist in
the direction of the spot where this transient gleam of brightness had
disappeared--"I know you, and your old tricks with your lanterns and
night-signals. Here goes the answer."
As he said this he touched a rocket, of which he had several in the
boat, with the lighted end of the cigar he had been smoking, and it went
hissing up into the air, ascending so high as to be plainly visible from
the deck of le Feu-Follet before it exploded. Griffin saw this signal
with wonder; the frigate noted it with embarrassment, for it was far to
seaward of the lamp; and even 'Maso conceived it necessary to quit his
station in order to report the circumstance to the colonel, whom he was
to call in the event of any unusual occurrence. The common impression,
however, among all these parties was that a second cruiser had come
through the canal from the southward in the course of the night, and
that she wished to notify the Proserpine of her position, probably
expecting to meet that ship off the island.
On board le Feu-Follet the effect was different. The. land-breeze of
Italy is a side-wind to vessels quitting the bay of Porto Ferrajo; and
two minutes after the rocket exploded the lugger-was gliding almost
imperceptibly, and yet at the rate of a knot or two, under her jigger
and jib, toward the outer side of the port, or along the very buildings
past which she had brushed the previous day. This movement was made at
the critical instant when 'Maso was off his watch; and the ordinary
sentinels of the works had other duties to attend to. So light was this
little vessel that a breath of air set her in motion, and nothing was
easier than to get three or four knots out of her in smooth water,
especially when she opened the comparatively vast folds of her two
principal lugs. This she did when close under the citadel or out of
sight of the town, the sentinels above hearing the flaps of her canvas,
without exactly understanding whence they came. At this instant Ithuel
let off a second rocket, and the lugger showed a light on her starboard
bow, so concealed, however, on all sides but one, as to be visible only
in the direction of the boat. As this was done she put her helm hard
down and hauled her fore-sheet over flat to windward. Five minutes later
Ithuel had reached her deck, and the boat was hauled in as if it had
been inflated silk, Deceived by the second rocket, the Proserpine now
made her number with regular signal lanterns, with the intention of
obtaining that of the stranger, trusting that the promontory would
conceal it from the vessels in the bay. This told Raoul the precise
position of his enemy, and he was not sorry to see that he was already
to the westward of her; a fact that permitted him to slip round the
island again, so near in as to be complete concealed by the background
of cliffs. By the aid of an excellent night-glass, too, he was enabled
to see the frigate, distant about a league, under everything that would
draw, from her royals down, standing toward the mouth of the bay on the
larboard tack; having made her calculations so accurately as to drop
into windward of her port, with the customary breeze off the land. At
this sight Raoul laughed and ordered the mainsail taken in. Half an hour
later he directed the foresail to be brailed, brought his jigger-sheet
in flat, put his helm hard down, and hauled the jib-sheet to windward.
As this last order was executed, day was just breaking over the
mountains of Radicofani and Aquapendente. By this time le Feu-Follet lay
about a league to the westward of the promontory, and abreast of the
deep bay that has been already mentioned as being in that direction from
the town. Of course she was far beyond the danger of missiles from the
land. The night wind, however, had now failed, and there was every
appearance that the morning would be calm. In this there was nothing
extraordinary at that season; the winds which prevailed from the south
being usually short and light, unless accompanied by a gust. Just as the
sun appeared the south air came, it is true, but so lightly as to render
it barely possible to keep the little lugger in command, by heaving-to
with her head to the southwest.
The Proserpine stood in until the day had advanced far enough to enable
her lookouts to detect le Feu-Follet braving her, as it might be, in the
western board, at the distance of about a league and a half, under her
jib and jigger, as described. This sight produced a great commotion in
the ship, even the watch below "tumbling up," to get another sight of a
craft so renowned for evading the pursuit of all the English cruisers of
those seas. A few minutes later Griffin came off, chopfallen and
disappointed. His first glance at the countenance of his superior
announced a coming storm; for the commander of a vessel of war is no
more apt to be reasonable under disappointment than any other
potentate. Captain Cuffe had not seen fit to wait for his subordinate on
deck; but as soon as it was ascertained that he was coming off in a
shore-boat, he retired to his cabin, leaving orders with the first
lieutenant, whose name was Winchester, to send Mr. Griffin below the
instant he reported himself.
"Well, sir," commenced Cuffe, as soon as his lieutenant came into the
after-cabin, without offering him a seat--"here _we_ are; and out yonder
two or three leagues at sea is the d--d Few-Folly!" for so most of the
seamen of the English service pronounced "Feu-Follet."
"I beg your pardon, Captain Cuffe," answered Griffin, who found himself
compelled to appear a delinquent, whatever might be the injustice of the
stiuation; "it could not be helped. We got in in proper time; and I went
to work with the deputy-governor and an old chap of a magistrate who was
with him, as soon as I could get up to the house of the first. Yvard had
been beforehand with me: and I had to under-run about a hundred of his
lying yarns before I could even enter the end of an idea of my own--"
"You speak Italian, sir, like a Neapolitan born; and I depended on your
doing everything as it should have been."
"Not so much like a Neapolitan, I hope, Captain Cuffe, as like a Tuscan
or a Roman," returned Griffin, biting his lip. "After an hour of pretty
hard and lawyer-like work, and overhauling all the documents, I did
succeed in convincing the two Elban gentry of my own character, and of
that of the lugger!"
"And while you were playing advocate, Master Raoul Yvard coolly lifted
his anchor and walked out of the bay as if he were just stepping into
his garden to pick a nosegay for his sweetheart!"
"No, sir, nothing of the sort happened. As soon as I had satisfied the
Signor Barrofaldi, the vice-governatore--"
"Veechy-govern-the-tory. D--n all veechys, and d--n all the
governatorys, too; do speak English, Griffin, on board an English ship,
if you please, even should your Italian happen to be Tuscan. Call the
fellow vice-governor at once, if that be his rank."
"Well, sir, as soon as I had satisfied the vice-governor that the lugger
was an enemy, and that we were friends, everything went: smoothly
enough. He wanted to sink the lugger as she lay at her anchor."
"And why the devil didn't he do it? Two or three heavy shot would have
given her a stronger dose than she could bear."
"You know, Captain Cuffe, it has all along been your wish to take her
alive. I thought it would tell so well for the ship to have it to say
she had _caught_ le Feu-Follet, that I opposed the project. I know Mr.
Winchester hopes to get her as a reward for carrying her, himself."
"Aye, and that would make you first. Well, sir, even if you didn't sink
her it was no reason for letting her escape."
"We could not prevent it, Captain Cuffe. I had a lookout set upon
her--one of the very best men in Porto Ferrajo, as everybody will tell
you, sir; and I made the signals of the lamp and the blue-lights, as
agreed upon; and, the ship answering, I naturally thought all was as it
should be, until--"
"And who burnt the rockets off here where we are at this moment? They
deceived me, for I took them to be signals of their presence from the
Weasel or the Sparrow. When I saw those rockets, Griffin, I was just as
certain of the Few-Folly as I am now of having my own ship!"
"Yes, sir, those rockets did all the mischief; for I have since learned
that, as soon as the first one was thrown, Master Yvard tripped his
kedge and went out of the bay as quietly as one goes out of a
dining-room when he don't wish to disturb the company."
"Aye, he took _French_ leave, the _b--y sans culotte_" returned the
captain, putting himself in a better humor with his own pun. "But did
you _see_ nothing of all this?"
"The first I knew of the matter, sir, was seeing the lugger gliding
along under the rocks so close in that you might have jumped aboard her;
and it was too late to stop her. Before those lazy _far nientes_ could
have pricked and primed, she was out of gun-shot."
"Lazy what?" demanded the captain.
"_Far nientes_, sir; which is a nickname we give these siesta-gentry,
you know, Captain Cuffe."
"I know nothing about it, sir, and I'll thank you always to speak to me
in English, Mr. Griffin. That is a language which I flatter myself I
understand, and it's quite good enough for all my wants."
"Yes, sir, and for any man's wants. I'm sure, I am sorry I can speak
Italian, since it has led to this mistake."
"Poh--poh--Griffin, you mustn't lay everything to heart that comes wrong
end foremost. Dine with me to-day, and we'll talk the matter over
"Now in the fervid noon the smooth bright sea
Heaves slowly, for the wandering winds are dead
That stirred it into foam. The lonely ship
Rolls wearily, and idly flap the sails
Against the creaking masts. The lightest sound
Is lost not on the ear, and things minute
Attract the observant eye."
Thus terminated the setting-down, like many others that Captain Cuffe
had resolved to give, but which usually ended in a return to good-nature
and reason. The steward was told to set a plate for Mr. Griffin among
the other guests, and then the commander of the frigate followed the
lieutenant on deck. Here he found every officer in the ship, all looking
at le Feu-Follet with longing eyes, and most of them admiring her
appearance, as she lay on the mirrorlike Mediterranean, with the two
light sails just holding her stationary.
"A regular-built snake-in-the-grass!" growled the boatswain, Mr. Strand,
who was taking a look at the lugger over the hammock cloths of the
waist, as he stood on the heel of a spare topmast to do so; "I never
fell in with a scamp that had a more d--n-my-eyes look!"
This was said in a sort of soliloquy, for Strand was not exactly
privileged to address a quarter-deck officer on such an occasion, though
several stood within hearing, and was far too great a man to enlighten
his subordinates with his cogitations. It was overheard by Cuffe,
however, who just at that instant stepped into the gangway to make an
examination for himself.
"It is a snake-_out_-of the grass, rather, Strand," observed the
captain, for _he_ could speak to whom he pleased, without presumption or
degradation. "Had she stayed in port, now, she would have been _in_ the
grass, and we might have scotched her."
"Well, your honor, we can _English_ her, as it is; and that'll be quite
as nat'ral, and quite as much to the purpose, as _Scotching_ her, any
day," answered Strand, who, being a native of London, had a magnificent
sort of feeling toward all the dependencies of the empire, and to whom
the word scotch, in that sense, was Greek, though he well understood
what it meant "to clap a Scotchman on a rope"; "we are likely to have a
flat calm all the morning, and our boats are in capital order; and,
then, nothing will be more agreeable to our gentlemen than a row."
Strand was a gray-headed seaman, and he had served with Captain Cuffe
when the latter was a midshipman, and had even commanded the top of
which the present boatswain had been the captain. He knew the "cut of
the captain's jib" better than any other man in the Proserpine, and
often succeeded with his suggestions, when Winchester and the other
lieutenants failed. His superior now turned round and looked him
intently in the face, as if struck with the notion the other thus
indirectly laid before him. This movement was noted; and, at a sign
secretly given by Winchester, the whole crew gave three hearty cheers;
Strand leading off as soon as he caught the idea. This was the only
manner in which the crew of a man-of-war can express their wishes to
their commander; it being always tolerated in a navy to hurrah, by way
of showing the courage of a ship's company. Cuffe walked aft in a
thoughtful manner and descended to his cabin again; but a servant soon
came up, to say that the captain desired to see the first lieutenant.
"I do not half like this boat-service in open daylight, Winchester,"
observed the senior, beckoning to the other to take a chair. "The least
bungling may spoil it all; and then it's ten to one but your ship goes
half-manned for a twelvemonth, until you are driven to pressing from
colliers and neutrals."
"But we hope, sir, there'll be no bungling in anything that the
Proserpine undertakes. Nine times in ten an English man-of-war succeeds
when she makes a bold dash in boats against one of these picaroons. This
lugger is so low in the water, too, that it will be like stepping from
one cutter into another to get upon her decks; and then, sir, I suppose,
you don't doubt what Englishmen will do?"
"Aye, Winchester, once on her deck, I make no doubt you'd carry her; but
it may not be so easy as you imagine to get on her deck. Of all duty to
a captain, this of sending off boats is the most unpleasant. He cannot
go in person, and if anything unfortunate turns up he never forgives
himself. Now, it's a very different thing with a fight in which all
share alike, and the good or evil comes equally on all hands."
"Quite true, Captain Cuffe; and yet this is the only chance that the
lieutenants have for getting ahead a little out of the regular course. I
have heard, sir, that you were made commander for cutting out some
coasters in the beginning of the war."
"You have not been misinformed, and a devil of a risk we all ran. Luck
saved us--and that was all. One more fire from a cursed carronade would
have given a Flemish account of the whole party; for, once get a little
under, and you suffer like game in a _batteau_." Captain Cuffe wished to
say _battue_; but, despising foreign languages, he generally made sad
work with them whenever he did condescend to resort to their terms,
however familiar. "This Raoul Yvard is a devil incarnate himself at this
boarding work, and is said to have taken off the head of a master's mate
of the Theseus with one clip of his sword when he retook that ship's
prize in the affair of last winter--that which happened off Alicant!"
"I'll warrant you, sir, the master's mate was some slender-necked chap
that might better have been at home, craning at the girls as they come
out of a church-door. I should like to see Raoul Yvard or any Frenchman
who was ever born take off _my_ head at a single clip!"
"Well, Winchester, to be frank with you, I should _not_. You are a good
first; and that is an office in which a man usually wants all the head
he has; and I'm not at all certain you have any to spare. I wonder if
one could not hire a felucca, or something larger than a boat, in this
place, by means of which we could play a trick upon this fellow, and
effect our purpose quite as well as by going up to him in our open boats
"No question of it at all, sir; Griffin says there are a dozen feluccas
in port here, all afraid to budge an inch in consequence of this chap's
being in the offing. Now one of these trying to slip along shore might
just serve as a bait for him, and then he would be famously hooked."
"I think I have it, Winchester. You understand; we have not yet been
seen to communicate with the town; and luckily our French colors have
been flying all the morning Our head, too, is in-shore, and we shall
drift so far to the eastward in a few minutes as will shut in our hull,
if not our upper sails, from the lugger where she now lies. As soon as
this is done you shall be off with forty picked men for the shore.
Engage a felucca and come out stealing along the rocks as close as you
can, as if distrusting _us_. In due time we will chase you in the boats,
and then you must make for the lugger for protection as fast as you can,
when, betwixt the two, I'll answer for it, you get this Master Yvard, by
fair means or foul."
Winchester was delighted with the scheme, and in less than five minutes
orders were issued for the men to be detailed and armed. Then a
conference was held as to all the minor arrangements; when, the ship
having become shut in from the lugger by the promontory, as expected,
the boats departed. Half an hour later, or just as the Proserpine, after
wearing, had got near the point where the lugger would be again open,
the boats returned and were run up. Presently the two vessels were again
in sight of each other, everything on board of each remaining apparently
_in statu quo._ Thus far, certainly, the stratagem had been adroitly
managed. To add to it, the batteries now fired ten or twelve guns at the
frigate, taking very good care not to hit her; which the Proserpine
returned, under the French ensign, having used the still greater
precaution of drawing the shot. All this was done by an arrangement
between Winchester and Andrea Barrofaldi, and with the sole view to
induce Raoul Yvard to fancy that he was still believed to be an
Englishman by the worthy vice-governatore, while the ship in the offing
was taken for an enemy. A light air from the southward, which lasted
from eight to nine o'clock, allowed the frigate to get somewhat more of
an offing the while, placing her seemingly beyond the reach of danger.
During the prevalence of the light air mentioned, Raoul Yvard did not
see fit to stir tack or sheet, as it is termed among seamen. Le
Feu-Follet remained so stationary that, had she been by compass from
any station on the shore, her direction would not have varied a degree
the whole time. But this hour of comparative breeze sufficed to enable
Winchester to get out of the harbor with la Divina Providenza, the
felucca he had hired, and to round the promontory, under the seeming
protection of the guns by which it was crowned; coming in view of the
lugger precisely as the latter relieved her man at the helm for ten
o'clock. There were eight or nine men visible on the felucca's deck, all
dressed in the guise of Italians, with caps and striped shirts of
cotton. Thirty-five men were concealed in the hold.
Thus far everything was favorable to the wishes of Captain Cuffe and his
followers. The frigate was about a league from the lugger, and half that
distance from la Divina Providenza; the latter had got fairly to sea and
was slowly coming to a situation from which it might seem reasonable and
a matter of course for the Proserpine to send boats in chase; while the
manner in which she gradually drew nearer to the lugger was not such as
to excite distrust or to appear in the least designed. The wind, too,
had got to be so light as to favor the whole scheme.
It is not to be supposed that Raoul Yvard and his followers were
unobservant of what was passing. It is true that the latter wilfully
protracted his departure, under the pretence that it was safer to have
his enemy in sight during the day, knowing how easy it would be to elude
him in the dark; but, in reality, that he might prolong the pleasure of
having Ghita on board; and it is also true that he had passed a
delightful hour that morning in the cabin; but, then, his understanding
eye noted the minutest fact that occurred, and his orders were always
ready to meet any emergency that might arise. Very different was the
case with Ithuel. The Proserpine was his bane; and, even while eating
his breakfast, which he took on the heel of the bowsprit, expressly with
that intent, his eye was seldom a minute off the frigate, unless it was
for the short period she was shut in by the land. It was impossible for
any one in the lugger to say whether her character was or was not known
in Porto Ferrajo; but the circumstance of the blue-lights burnt in the
government-house itself, and witnessed by Ithuel, rendered the latter,
to say the least, probable, and induced more caution than might
otherwise have been shown. Still, there was no reason to suspect the
character of the felucca, and the confident manner in which she came
down toward the lugger, though considerably in-shore of her, gave reason
to believe that _she_ at least was ignorant that le Feu-Follet was
"That felucca is the craft which lay near the landing," quietly observed
Raoul, who had now come on the forecastle with a view to converse with
Ithuel; "her name is la Divina Providenza; she is given to smuggling
between Leghorn and Corsica, and is probably bound to the latter at this
moment. It is a bold step, too, to stand directly for her port under
"Leghorn is a free port," returned Ithuel; "and smuggling is not
"Aye, free as to friends, but not free to come and go between enemies.
No port is free in that sense; it being treason for a craft to
communicate with the foe, unless she happen to be le Feu-Follet,"
observed Raoul, laughing; "we _are_ privileged, _mon brave_!"
"Corsica or Capraya, she'll reach neither to-day, unless she find more
wind. I do not understand why the man has sailed with no more air than
will serve to blow out a pocket-handkerchief."
"These little feluccas, like our little lugger, slip along even when
there seems to be no wind at all. Then he may be bound to Bastia; in
which case he is wise in getting an offing before the zephyr sets in for
the afternoon. Let him get a league or two out here more to the
northwest, and he can make a straight wake to Bastia, after his
siesta is over."
"Aye, there go those greedy Englishmen a'ter him!" said Ithuel; "it's
as I expected; let 'em see the chance of making a guinea, and they'll
strive for it, though it be ag'in law or ag'in natur'. Now, what have
they to do with a Neapolitan felucca, England being a sworn friend
Raoul made no reply to this, but stood watching the movement in silence.
The reader will readily enough understand that Ithuel's remark was
elicited by the appearance of the boats, which, five in number, at that
instant pulled off from the frigate's side and proceeded steadily toward
It may be necessary now to mention the relative positions of the
parties, the hour, and the precise state of the weather, with a view to
give the reader clear ideas of the events that succeeded. Le Feu-Follet
had not materially changed her place since her jib-sheet was first
hauled over. She still lay about a league a little north-of-west from
the residence of Andrea Barrofaldi, and in plain view of it; a deep bay
being south of her and abeam. No alterations had been made in her canvas
or her helm; most of the first being still in the brails and the latter
down. As the head of the frigate had been kept to the westward for the
last hour, she had forged some distance in that direction, and was now
quite as near the lugger as was the promontory, though nearly two miles
off the land. Her courses were hauled up, on account of the lightness of
the air; but all her upper sails stood, and were carefully watched and
trimmed, in order to make the most of the cats'-paws, or rather of the
breathings of the atmosphere, which occasionally caused the royals to
swell outward. On the whole, she might be drawing nearer to the lugger
at the rate of about a knot in an hour. La Divina Providenza was just
out of gun-shot from the frigate and about a mile from the lugger when
the boats shoved off from the former, though quite near the land, just
opening the bay so often named. The boats, of course, were pulling in a
straight line from the vessel they had just left toward that of which
they were in pursuit.
As to the time the day had advanced as far as eleven, which is a
portion of the twenty-four hours when the Mediterranean, in the summer
months, is apt to be as smooth as a mirror and as calm as if it never
knew a tempest. Throughout the morning there had been some irregularity
in the currents of air; the southerly breeze, generally light and
frequently fickle, having been even more light and baffling than common.
Still, as has been seen, there was sufficient air to force a vessel
through the water; and, had Raoul been as diligent as the people of the
two other craft, he might at that moment have been off the western end
of the island and far out of harm's way. As it was, he had continued
watching the result, but permitting all the other parties gradually to
It must be allowed that the ruse of the felucca was well planned; and it
now seemed about to be admirably executed. Had it not been for Ithuel's
very positive knowledge of the ship--his entire certainty of her being
his old prison, as he bitterly called her--it is not improbable that the
lugger's crew might have been the dupe of so much well-acted ingenuity;
and as it was, opinions were greatly divided, Raoul himself being more
than half disposed to fancy that his American ally, for once, was wrong,
and that the ship in sight was actually what she professed to be--a
cruiser of the republic.
Both Winchester, who was in la Divina Providenza, and Griffin, who
commanded the boats, played their parts in perfection. They understood
too well the character of the wily and practised foe with whom they had
to deal, to neglect the smallest of the details of their well-concerted
plan. Instead of heading toward the lugger as soon as the chase
commenced, the felucca appeared disposed to enter the bay and to find an
anchorage under the protection of a small battery that had been planted
for this express purpose near its head. But the distance was so great as
obviously to render such an experiment bootless; and, after looking in
that direction a few minutes, the head of la Divina Providenza was laid
off shore, and she made every possible effort to put herself under the
cover of the lugger. All this was done in plain view of Raoul, whose
glass was constantly at his eye, and who studied the smallest movement
with jealous distrust. Winchester, fortunately for his purpose, was a
dark-complexioned man of moderate stature and with bushy whiskers, such
as a man-of-war's-man is apt to cultivate on a long cruise; and, in his
red Phrygian cap, striped shirt, and white cotton trousers, he looked
the Italian as well as could have been desired. The men in sight, too,
had been selected for their appearance, several of them being actually
foreigners, born on the shores of the Mediterranean; it being seldom
indeed that the crew of an English or an American vessel of war does not
afford a representation of half the maritime nations of the earth. These
men exhibited a proper degree of confusion and alarm, too, running to
and fro as soon as the chase became lively; exerting themselves, but
doing it without order and concert. At length, the wind failing almost
entirely, they got out two sweeps and began to pull lustily; the real as
well as the apparent desire being to get as near as possible to
"_Peste!_" exclaimed Raoul; "all this seems right--what if the frigate
should be French after all? These men in the boats look like my brave
"They are regular John Bulls," answered Ithuel, positively, "and the
ship is the spiteful Proserpyne," for so the New Hampshire man always
called his old prison. "As for them French hats and the way they have of
rowing, they act it all for a take-in. Just let a six-pound shot in
among 'em, and see how they'll throw off their French airs and take to
their English schooling."
"I'll not do that; for we might injure a friend. What are those fellows
in the felucca about now?"
"Why, they've got a small gun--yes, it's a twelve-pound carronade, under
the tarpaulin, for'rard of their foremast, and they're clearin' it away
for sarvice. We shall have something doin' 'fore the end of the week!"
"_Bien_--it is as you say--and, _voila_, they train the piece on the
As this was said, the felucca was half concealed in smoke. Then came the
discharge of the gun. The shot was seen skipping along the water, at a
safe distance from the leading boat certainly, and yet sufficiently near
to make it pass for indifferent gunnery. This leading boat was the
Proserpine's launch, which carried a similar carronade on its grating
forward, and not half a minute was suffered to pass before the fire was
returned. So steady were the men, and so nicely were all parts of this
plot calculated, that the shot came whistling through the air in a
direct line for the felucca, striking its mainyard about half-way
between the mast and the peak of the sail, letting the former down
by the run.
"Human natur'!" ejaculated Ithuel--"this is acting up to the contract,
dollars and cents! Captain Rule, they shoot better in sport than when
they're in downright airnest."
"This looks like real work," answered Raoul. "A man does not often shoot
away the mainyard of his friend on purpose."
As soon as the crews of the boats saw the end of the yard come down,
they ceased rowing and gave three hearty cheers, taking the signal from
Griffin, who stood erect in the stern of the launch to give it.
"Bah!" cried Raoul--"these are English John Bulls without a shadow of
doubt. Who ever knew the men of the republic shout like so many Italian
fantoccini pulled by wires! Ah! Messieurs les Anglais, you have betrayed
your secret by your infernal throats; now look to hear us tell the
remainder of the story"
Ithuel rubbed his hands with delight, perfectly satisfied that Raoul
could no longer be deceived, though the fire between the felucca and the
launch was kept up with spirit, the shooting being such as might have
done credit to a _bona fide_ conflict. All this time the sweep of the
felucca were plied, the boats advancing at least two feet to the chase's
one. La Divina Providenza might now have been three hundred yards from
the lugger: and the launch, the nearest of the pursuers, about the same
distance astern of the felucca. Ten minutes more would certainly bring
the seeming combatants alongside of each other.
Raoul ordered the sweeps of le Feu-Follet to be run out and manned. At
the same time her guns, twelve-pound carronades, were cast loose and
primed. Of these she had four of a side, while the two sixes on her
forecastle were prepared for similar service. When everything was ready,
the twelve sweeps dropped into the water, as by a common instinct, and a
powerful effort started the lugger ahead. Her jib and jigger were both
brailed at that instant. A single minute sufficed to teach Winchester
how hopeless pursuit would be in the felucca, if not in the boats
themselves, should the lugger endeavor to escape in this manner; it
being quite practicable for her strong crew to force her through the
water by means of her sweeps alone from three to three and a half knots
in the hour. But flight did not appear to be her object; for her head
was laid toward la Divina Providenza, as if, deceived by the artifice of
the English, she intended to prevent the capture of the felucca and to
cover a friend.
Raoul, however, understood himself far better than this supposition
would give reason to suppose. He swept the lugger up in a line with la
Divina Providenza and the boats, in the first place, as the position in
which she would be the least likely to suffer from the fire of the
latter, well knowing that whatever shot were thrown were purposely sent
so high as to do no mischief, and, in the second place, that he might
bring his enemies in a single range from his own guns. In the mean
while, the felucca and the boats not only continued to use their
carronades, but they commenced on both sides a brisk fire of musketry;
the former being now distant only a hundred yards from le Feu-Follet,
exceedingly hard pressed by her adversaries, so far as appearances were
concerned. There being no wind at all, at this juncture, the little
there had been having been entirely killed by the concussions of the
guns, the sea was getting to be fast covered with smoke; the felucca, in
particular, showing more than common of the wreathy canopy over her
decks and about her spars; for in truth powder was burnt in considerable
quantities in different parts of the vessel with this express object.
Ithuel observed, too, that in the midst of this confusion and cloud the
crew of la Divina Providenza was increasing in numbers instead of
diminishing by the combat, four sweeps next being out, each manned by
three men, while near twenty more were shortly visible, running to and
fro, and shouting to each other in a language that was intended to be
Italian, but which sounded much more, in his practised ears, like
bastard English. The felucca was not fifty yards distant when this
clamor became the loudest, and the crisis was near. The cheers of the
boats on the other side of her proclaimed the quick approach of Griffin
and his party; the bows of la Divina Providenza having been laid, in a
species of blind haste, directly in a line which would carry her
athwart-hawse of le Feu-Follet.
"_Mes enfans_," shouted Raoul--"_soyez calmes_--Fire!"
The whole of the five guns, loaded heavily with canister, were
discharged into the smoke of la Divina Providenza. The shrieks that
succeeded sufficiently proclaimed with what effect. A pause of solemn,
wondering silence followed on the part of the English, and then arose a
manly shout, as if, prepared for every contingency, they were resolved
to brave the worst. The boats were next seen coming round the bows and
stern of the felucca, dashing earnestly at their real enemy, while their
two carronades returned the fire, this time loaded and aimed with deadly
intent. But it was too late for success. As Griffin in the launch came
out of la Divina Providenz'a smoke he saw the lugger's sails all opened
and filled with the dying effort of the southerly air. So light,
however, was le Feu-Follet that a duck could hardly have sailed away
more readily from the fowler, than this little craft shot ahead,
clearing the smoke, and leaving her pursuers an additional hundred yards
behind her. As the air seemed likely to stand long enough to place his
party in extreme jeopardy, under the fire of the French, Winchester
promptly ordered the boats to relinquish the pursuit and to rally round
the felucca. This command was reluctantly obeyed, when a moment was
given to both sides for deliberation.
Le Feu-Follet had sustained no injury worth mentioning; but the English
had not less than a dozen men slain or hurt. Among the latter was
Winchester himself; and as he saw that any success which followed would
fall principally to the share of his subordinate, his wound greatly
indisposed him to pursue any further a struggle that was nearly hopeless
as it was. Not so with Raoul Yvard, however. Perceiving that the frigate
had taken the breeze as well as himself, and that she was stealing along
in the direction of the combatants, he determined to take an ample
revenge for the audacity of the attempt, and then proceed on his voyage.
The lugger accordingly tacked, and passed to windward of the felucca,
delivering a close and brisk fire as she approached. At first this fire
was returned, but the opposition soon ceased; and when le Feu-Follet
ranged up past her adversary, a few yards to windward, it was seen that
the English had deserted her to a man, carrying off their wounded. The
boats were pulling through the smoke toward the bay, taking a direction
opposite to that in which the lugger's head was laid. It would have been
easy for the French to wear and probably to have overtaken the
fugitives, sinking or capturing them to a man; but there was a touch of
high chivalry in the character of Raoul Yvard, and he declared that as
the artifice had been ingeniously planned and daringly attempted, he
would follow up his success no further. Perhaps the appearance of Ghita
on deck, imploring him to be merciful, had its influence; it is certain
that not another shot did he allow to be fired at the enemy. Instead of
pursuing her advantage in this manner, the lugger took in her
after-sails, wore short round on her heel, came to the wind to leeward
of the felucca, shivered all forward, set her jigger again, and luffed
up so near what may be called the prize that the two vessels came
together so gently as not to break an egg, as it is termed. A single
rope secured the felucca to the lugger, and Raoul, Ithuel, and a few
more stepped on board the former.
The decks of la Divina Providenza were reeking with blood, and grape and
canister were sticking in handfuls in different parts of the vessel.
Three dead bodies were found in her hold, but nothing having life was
met with on board. There was a tar-bucket filled at hand, and this was
placed beneath the hatch, covered with all the combustible materials
that could be laid hold of, and set on fire. So active were the flames
at that dry season that Raoul regretted he had not taken the precaution
to awaken them after he had removed his own vessel; but the southerly
air continuing, he was enabled to get to a safe distance before they
actually ascended the felucca's rigging and seized upon her sails.
Ten minutes were thus lost, and they had sufficed to carry the boats out
of gunshot in shore, and to bring the frigate very nearly down within
gunshot from the southeast. But, hauling aft all his sheets, Raoul soon
took the lugger clear of her flaming prize; and then she stood toward
the west end of Elba, going, as usual in so light an air, three feet to
the frigate's two. The hour, however, was not favorable to the
continuance of the breeze, and in ten more minutes it would have puzzled
the keenest senses to have detected the slightest current of air over
the surface of the sea. Such flickerings of the lamp before it burnt
entirely out were common, and Raoul felt certain that there would be no
more wind that day until they got the zephyr. Accordingly he directed
all the sails to be hauled up, an awning to be spread over the
quarter-deck, and permission was given to the people to attend to their
own affairs. The frigate, too, seemed to be aware that it was the moment
for the siesta of vessels as well as of men; for she clewed up her
royals and topgallant-sails, brailed her jib and spanker, hauled up her
courses, and lay on the water as motionless as if sticking on a shoal.
The two vessels were barely long gunshot apart, and, under ordinary
circumstances, the larger might have seen fit to attack the smaller in
boats; but the lesson just given was a sufficient pledge to the French
against the renewal of any such attempt, and they scarcely paid their
neighbor's prowess the compliment to watch him. Half an hour later, when
Winchester got back to the ship, limping with a hurt in his leg, and
with his people exhausted and mortified, it was found that the
undertaking had cost the lives of seven good men, besides the temporary
suspension of the services of fifteen more.
Captain Cuffe was aware that his enterprise had failed as soon as he
perceived the lugger under her canvas, playing around the felucca, and
the boats held in perfect command. But when he discovered the latter
pulling for the shore he was certain that they must have suffered, and
he was prepared to learn a serious loss, though not one that bore so
large a proportion to the whole numbers of the party sent on the
expedition. Winchester he considerately declined questioning while his
wound was being dressed; but Griffin was summoned to his cabin as soon
as the boats were hoisted in and stowed.
"Well, Mr. Griffin, a d--d pretty scrape is this into which you have led
me, among you, with your wish to go boating about after luggers and
Raoul Yvards! What will the admiral say when he comes to hear of
twenty-two men's being laid on the shelf, and a felucca to be paid for,
as a morning's amusement?"
"Really, Captain Cuffe, we did our best; but a man might as well have
attempted to put out Vesuvius with snowballs as to stand the canister of
that infernal lugger! I don't think there was a square yard in the
felucca that was not peppered. The men never behaved better; and down to
the moment when we last cheered I was as sure of le Feu-Follet as I ever
was of my own promotion."
"Aye, they needn't call her le Few-Folly any longer--the Great Folly
being a better name. What the devil did you cheer for at all, sir? did
you ever know a Frenchman cheer in your life? That very cheering was the
cause of your being found out before you had time to close. You should
have shouted _vive la republique,_ as all their craft do when we engage
them. A regular English hurrah would split a Frenchman's throat."
"I believe we did make a mistake there, sir; but I never was in an
action in which we did not cheer; and when it got to be warm--or to
_seem_ warm--I forgot myself a little. But we should have had her, sir,
for all that, had it not been for one thing."
"And what is that, pray? You know, Griffin, I must have something
plausible to tell the admiral; it will never do to have it published in
the gazette that we were thrashed by our own hallooing."
"I was about to say, Captain Cuffe, that had not the lugger fired her
first broadside just as she did, and had she given us time to get out of
the range of her shot, we should have come in upon her before she could
have loaded again, and carried her in spite of the breeze that so much
favored her. Our having three men hurt in the launch made some
difference, too, and set as many oars catching crabs at a most critical
instant. Everything depends on chance in these matters, you know, sir,
and that was our bad luck."
"Umph! It will never do to tell Nelson that. 'Everything was going well,
my lord, until three of the launch's people went to work catching crabs
with their oars, which threw the boat astern.' No, no, _that_ will
never do for a gazette. Let me see, Griffin; after all, the lugger made
off from you; you would have had her had she not made sail and stood to
the southward and westward on a bowline."
"Yes, sir, she certainly did _that_. Had she not made sail as you say,
nothing could have prevented our getting alongside."
"Well, then, she ran. Wind sprung up, enemy made sail--every attempt to
get alongside unsuccessful. Brave fellows, cheering and doing their
utmost. Not so bad an account, after all, but how about that d--d
felucca? You see, she is burned to the water's edge and will go down in
a few minutes."
"Very true, Captain Cuffe, but not a Frenchman entered her while we were
"Yes, I now see how it was--threw all hands into the boats in chase, the
felucca being too unwieldy and every effort to get alongside
unsuccessful. He's a devil of a fellow, that Nelson and Bronte; and I
had rather hear the thunder of ten thousand tempests than get one of his
tempestuous letters. Well, I think I understand the affair now and shall
speak of you all as you deserve. 'Twas a gallant thing, though it
failed. You deserved success, whatever may have caused you to lose it."
In this Captain Cuffe was nearer right than in anything else he uttered
on the occasion.
"Oh! 'tis a thought sublime, that man can force
A path upon the waste, can find a way
Where all is trackless, and compel the winds,
Those freest agents of Almighty power,
To lend them untamed wings, and bear him on
To distant climes."
The situation of Ghita Caraccioli, on board the lugger, was of the most
unpleasant nature during the fierce struggle we have related.
Fortunately for her, this struggle was very short, Raoul having kept her
in profound ignorance of the approach of any danger until the instant le
Feu-Follet commenced her fire. It is true she heard the guns between the
felucca and the boats, but this she had been told was an affair in which
the privateer had no participation; and the reports sounding distant to
one in the cabin, she had been easily deceived. While the actual
conflict was going on, she was on her knees, at the side of her uncle;
and the moment it ceased, she appeared on deck, and interposed to save
the fugitives in the manner related.
Now, however, the scene was entirely changed. The lugger had escaped all
damage worthy of notice; her decks had not been stained with blood; and
her success had been as complete as could be desired. In addition to
these advantages, the result removed all apprehension from the only
source of danger that Raoul thought could exist as between his own
vessel and the frigate, of a boat-attack in a calm; for men who had just
been so roughly handled in an enterprise so well concealed would not be
likely to renew the attempt while they still smarted under the influence
of the late repulse. Affairs of this sort exact all the discipline and
resolution that a well-regulated service can afford; and are not to be
thought of under the temporary demoralization of defeat. All in the
lugger, therefore, considered this collision with the Proserpine at an
end, for the moment at least.
Ghita had dined, for the day had now turned some time, and the girl had
come on deck to escape the confinement of a very small cabin, leaving
her uncle to enjoy his customary _siesta_. She was seated under the
awning of the quarter-deck, using her needle, as was her wont at that
hour on the heights of Argentaro. Raoul had placed himself on a gunslide
near her, and Ithuel was busy within a few feet of them, dissecting a
spy-glass, with a view to clean its lenses.
"I suppose the most excellent Andrea Barrofaldi will sing a Te Deum for
his escape from our fangs," suddenly exclaimed Raoul, laughing.
"_Pardie!_ he is a great historian and every way fit to write an account
of this glorious victory, which Monsieur l'Anglais, _la bas_, is about
to send to his government!"
"And you, Raoul, have no occasion for a Te Deum after your escape?"
demanded Ghita, gently, and yet with emphasis. "Is there no God for you
to thank, as well as for the vice-governatore?"
"_Peste!_--our French deity is little thought of just now, Ghita.
Republics, as you know, have no great faith in religion--is it not so,
_mon brave Americain?_ Tell us, Etooel; have you any religion
As Ithuel had often heard Raoul's opinions on this subject and knew the
prevailing state of France in this particular, he neither felt nor
expressed any surprise at the question. Still, the idea ran counter to
all his own notions and prejudices, he having been early taught to
respect religion, even when he was most serving the devil. In a word,
Ithuel was one of those descendants of Puritanism who, "God-ward," as it
is termed, was quite unexceptionable, so far as his theory extended, but
who, "manward," was "as the Scribes and Pharisees." Nevertheless, as he
expressed it himself, "he always stood up for religion," a fact that his
English companions had commented on in jokes, maintaining that he even
"stood up" when the rest of the ship's company were on their knees.
"I'm a little afraid, Monsieur Rule," he answered, "that in France you
have entered the rope of republicanism at the wrong end. In Ameriky, we
even put religion before dollars; and if that isn't convincing I'll give
it up. Now, I do wish you could see a Sunday once in the Granite State,
Signorina Ghita, that you might get some notion what our western
religion ra'ally is."
"All real religion--all real devotion to God--is, or ought to be, the
same, Signor Ithuello, whether in the east or in the west. A Christian
is a Christian, let him live or die where he may."
"That's not exactly platform, I fancy. Why, Lord bless ye, young lady,
_your_ religion, now, is no more like _mine_ than my religion is like
that of the Archbishop of Canterbury's, or Monsieur Rule's, here!"
"_La mienne_!" exclaimed Raoul--"I pretend to none, _mon brave_; there
can be no likeness to nothing."
Ghita's glance was kind, rather than reproachful; but it was profoundly
"In what can our religion differ," she asked, "if we are both
Christians? Americans or Italians, it is all the same."
"That comes of knowing nothing about Ameriky," said Ithuel, filled with
the conceit of his own opinion of himself and of the part of the world
from which he came. "In the first place, you have a Pope and cardinals
and bishops and all such things in your religion, while we have none."
"Certainly, there is the Holy Father, and there are cardinals; but they
are not my religion," answered Ghita, looking surprised. "Bishops, it is
true, are appointed of God and form part of his church; and the bishop
of Rome is the head of the church on earth, but nothing more!"
"Nothing more! Don't you worship images, and take off and put on
garments at your prayers, and kneel down in a make-believe, profane
way: and don't you turn everything into vain ceremonies?"
Had Ithuel been engaged, body and soul, in maintaining one of the
propositions of the Oxford Tracts' controversy, he could not have
uttered these words with greater zeal or with a more self-righteous
emotion. His mind was stored with the most vulgar accusations of an
exceedingly vulgar set of sectarian distinctions; and he fancied it a
high proof of Protestant perfection to hold all the discarded usages in
abhorrence. On the other hand, Ghita listened with surprise; for, to
her, the estimation in which the rites of the Roman church are held by
the great bulk of Protestants was a profound secret. The idea of
worshipping an image never crossed her innocent mind; and although she
often knelt before her own little ivory crucifix, she had never supposed
any could be so ignorant as to confound the mere material representation
of the sacrifice it was meant to portray with the divine
"It is decent to use proper vestments at the altar," she replied; "and
its servants ought not to be clad like other men. We know it is the
heart, the soul, that must be touched, to find favor with God; but this
does not make the outward semblance of respect that we show even to each
other the less necessary. As to worshipping images--that would be
idolatry; and as bad as the poor heathens themselves."
Ithuel looked mystified; for he never doubted in the least that the
worshipping of images was a material part of Catholic devotion; and, as
for the Pope and the cardinals, he deemed them all as indispensable to
the creed of this church, as he fancied it important in his own that the
priests should not wear gowns, and that the edifices in which they
worshipped should have square-topped windows. Absurd as all this may
seem to-day, and wicked as it will probably appear a century hence, it
formed, and forms, no small part of sectarian belief, and entered into
the animosities and jealousies of those who seem to think it necessary
to quarrel for the love of God. Could we but look back at our own
changes of opinion, it would render us less confident of the justice of
our sentiments; and, most of all, one would think that the American who
has lived long enough to witness the somersets that have been thrown in
the practices and creeds of most of the more modern sects of his own
country, within the last quarter of a century, would come to have
something like a suitable respect for the more stable and venerable
divisions of the Christian world.
"Proper vestments!" repeated Ithuel, with contempt; "what vestments are
wanting in the eyes of the Supreme Being? No; if I _must_ have
religion--and I know it's necessary and whullsom'--let it be a pure,
_naked_ religion that will stand to reason. Is not that your way of
thinking, Monsieur Rule?"
"_Ma foi, oui_. Reason before all things, Ghita; and, most of all,
reason in religion."
"Ah, Raoul! this it is which misleads and betrays you," returned the
girl, earnestly. "Faith and a meek dependence is what makes a proper
state of feeling; and yet you demand a reason of Him who created the
Universe and breathed into you the breath of life!"
"Are we not reasoning creatures, Ghita," returned Raoul, gently, and yet
with a sincerity and truth for the circumstances that rendered even his
scepticism piquant and respectable; "and is it unreasonable to expect us
to act up to our natures? Can I worship a God I do not understand?"
"Couldst thou worship one thou _didst_? He would cease to be a deity and
would become one of ourselves were his nature and attributes brought
down to the level of our comprehensions. Did one of thy followers come
on this quarter-deck and insist on hearing all thine own motives for the
orders given in this little felucca, how readily wouldst thou drive him
back as mutinous and insolent; and yet thou wouldst question the God of
the universe and pry into his mysteries!"
Raoul was mute, while Ithuel stared. It was so seldom that Ghita lost
her exceeding gentleness of manner that the flush of her cheek, the
severe earnestness of her eyes, the impassioned modulations of her
voice, and the emphasis with which she spoke on this occasion produced a
sort of awe that prevented the discourse from proceeding further, The
girl herself was so much excited, that, after sitting for a minute with
her hands before her face, the tears were seen forcing their way through
her fingers. She then arose, and darted into the cabin, Raoul was too
observant of the rules of propriety to think of following; but he sat
moody and lost in thought, until Ithuel drew his attention to himself.
"Gals will be gals," said that refined and philosophical observer of the
human family, "and nothing touches their natur's sooner than a little
religious excitement. I dare say, if it wasn't for images and cardinals
and bishops and such creatur's, the Italians (Ithuel always pronounced
this word _Eye_talians) would make a very good sort of Christians."
But Raoul was in no humor to converse, and as the hour had now arrived
when the zephyr was to be expected, he rose, ordered the awning to be
taken in, and prepared to make himself master of the state of things
around him. There lay the frigate, taking her siesta, like all near; her
three topsails standing, but every other sail that was loose hanging in
festoons, waiting for the breeze. Notwithstanding her careless
appearance, so closely had she been tended, for the last few hours,
however, and so sedulously had even the smallest breath of air been
improved, that Raoul started with surprise when he found how much nearer
she was than when he had last looked at her. The whole trick was
apparent to him at a glance, and he was compelled to acknowledge his own
remissness when he perceived that he lay within the reach of the shot of
his powerful foe, though still so distant as to render her also a little
uncertain, more especially should a set get up. The felucca had burnt
to the water's edge; but, owing to the smoothness of the water, her
wreck still floated and was slowly setting into the bay, there being a
slight current in that direction, where she now lay. The town was
basking in the afternoon's sun, though hid from view, and the whole
island of Elba had the appearance of being asleep.
"What a siesta!" said Raoul to Ithuel, as both stood on the heel of the
bowsprit, looking curiously at the scene: "sea, land, mountains,
bourgeois, and mariners all dozing. _Bien_; there is life yonder at the
west, and we must get further from _votre Proserpine_. Call the hands,
Monsieur Lieutenant. Let us get our sweeps and put the head of le
Feu-Follet the other way. _Peste_! the lugger is so sharp, and has such
a trick of going exactly where she looks, that I am afraid she has been
crawling up toward her enemy, as the child creeps into the fire that
burns its fingers."
All hands were soon in motion on board le Feu-Follet, the sweeps were on
the point of being handled, when the jigger fluttered and the first puff
of the expected western breeze swept along the surface of the waters. To
the seamen it was like inhaling oxygen gas. Every appearance of
drowsiness deserted the people of both vessels, and every one was
instantly busy in making sail. Raoul had a proof into what dangerous
proximity to the frigate he had got by the sound of the calls on board
her, and the stillness of the sea was yet so great that the creaking of
her fore-yard was actually audible to him as the English rounded in
their braces briskly while laying their foretopsail aback.
At that moment a second respiration of the atmosphere gave birth to the
breeze. Raoul whistled for the wind, and the lugger moved ahead, gliding
toward the frigate. But in half a minute she had gathered sufficient
way, her helm was put down, and she came round as easily and as
gracefully as the bird turns on his wing. Not so with the heavier
frigate. She had hauled in her starboard head-braces and had to get the
foretopsail aback, and to pay well off with her head to leeward, in
order to swing her yards and fill her sails, while le Feu-Follet was
slipping through the water, going seemingly into the wind's eye. By this
single evolution the lugger gained more than a cable's length on her
enemy, and five minutes more would have put her beyond all immediate
danger. But Captain Cuffe knew this as well as his competitor, and had
made his preparations accordingly. Keeping his head-yards aback, he
knocked his ship round off, until her broadside bore on the lugger, when
he let fly every gun of his starboard batteries, the utmost care having
been taken to make the shot tell. Twenty-two heavy round-shot coming in
at once upon a little craft like le Feu-Follet was a fearful visitation,
and the "boldest held their breath for a time" as the iron whirlwind
whistled past them. Fortunately the lugger was not hulled; but a grave
amount of mischief was done aloft. The jigger-mast was cut in two and
flew upward like a pipe-stem. A serious wound was given to the mainmast
below the hounds, and the yard itself was shivered in the slings. No
less than six shot plunged through both lugs, leaving holes in the
canvas that made it resemble a beggar's shirt, and the jib-stay was cut
in two half-way between the mast-head and the end of the bowsprit. No
one was hurt, and yet for a moment every one looked as if destruction
had suddenly lighted on the lugger. Then it was that Raoul came out in
his true colors. He knew he could not spare a stitch of canvas just at
that moment, but that on the next ten minutes depended everything.
Nothing was taken in, therefore, to secure spars and sails, but all was
left to stand, trusting to the lightness of the breeze, which usually
commenced very moderately. Hands were immediately set to work to get up
a new stay; a new main-yard and sail were got along, and everything was
prepared for hoisting both as soon as it could be ascertained that the
mast would bear them. Nearly similar preparations were made forward as
the shortest way of getting rid of the torn foresail; for that it was
the intention to unbend and bend, the yard being sound.
Luckily, Captain Cuffe determined to lose no more time with his guns,
but swinging his head-yards, the frigate came sweeping up to the wind,
and in three minutes everything was trimmed for the utmost. All this
time le Feu-Follet had not stood still. Her canvas fluttered, but it
held on, and even the spars kept their places, though so much injured.
In a word, the wind was not yet strong enough to tear the one or to
carry away the other. It was an advantage, too, that these casualties,
particularly the loss of her jigger, rendered le Feu-Follet less
weatherly than she would otherwise have been, since, by keeping the
frigate directly in her wake, she was less exposed to the chase-guns
than she would have been a little on either bow. Of this truth Raoul was
soon persuaded, the Proserpine beginning to work both her bow-guns, as
soon as she came to the wind, though neither exactly bore; the shot of
one ranging a little to windward and the other about as much on the
other side. By these shot, too, the young Frenchman soon had the
satisfaction of seeing that, notwithstanding her injuries, the lugger
was drawing ahead--a fact of which the English became so sensible
themselves that they soon ceased firing.
So far things went better than Raoul had reason at first to hope, though
he well knew that the crisis was yet to come. The westerly wind often
blew fresh at that period of the day, and should it now increase he
would require all his canvas to get clear of a ship with the known
qualities of the vessel in chase. How much longer his mast or his
mainyard would stand he did not know, but as he was fast gaining he
determined to make hay while the sun shone, and get far enough ahead, if
possible, before the breeze grew fresh, to enable him to shift his sails
and fish his spars without being again brought within the reach of
visitors as rude as those who had so lately come hurtling into his thin
hamper. The proper precautions were not neglected in the mean time. Men
were sent aloft to do what they could, under the circumstances, with the
two spars, and the strain was a little relieved by keeping the lugger as
much away as might be done without enabling the frigate to set her
There is always something so exciting in a chase that seamen never fail
to wish for more wind, forgetful that the power which increases their
own speed may also increase the speed of the other party, and that, too,
in an undue proportion. It would have been more favorable to le
Feu-Follet to have had less wind than even now blew, since her relative
rate of sailing was greater in light than in strong breezes. Raoul knew,
from Ithuel's statements, that the Proserpine was an exceedingly fast
ship, more especially when it blew fresh; and yet it did not appear to
him that his lugger got along with sufficient speed, though his enemy
would be certain to follow at a rate of sailing in a just proportion to
his own, did there come more wind.
The wish of the young privateersman, however, was soon gratified. The
wind freshened materially, and by the time the two vessels opened the
Canal of Corsica, as the passage between that island and Elba is called,
the frigate was obliged to take in her royals and two or three of those
light and lofty staysails which it was then the custom for ships to
carry. At first Raoul had thought he might fetch into Bastia, which lies
due west of the southern end of Elba; but, though the wind drew a little
down through the canal, it soon blew too fresh to allow any formation of
the land materially to alter its current. The zephyr, as the afternoon's
summer breeze of southern Italy, in particular, was termed by the
ancients, is seldom a due west wind, there generally being a little
northing in it, as seamen say; and as one gets further up the coast this
same wind ordinarily comes round the head of Corsica, blowing from
nearly west-northwest. This would have enabled the lugger to lay her
course for a deep bay on which lies the town of Biguglia, could she have
been jammed up on a wind, as might usually have been done; but a few
minutes of experiment convinced Raoul that he must be more tender on his
wounded spars and keep off for the mouth of the Golo. This was a river
of some size into which it was possible for a vessel of a light draught
to enter; and, as there stood a small battery near the anchorage, he
determined to seek shelter in that haven in order to repair his damages.
His calculations were made accordingly, and, taking the snow-clad peaks
in the neighborhood of Corte as his landmarks, he ordered the lugger to
be steered in the proper direction.
On board the Proserpine, there was scarcely less interest felt in the
result than on board le Feu-Follet. If the people of the frigate had
nothing to apprehend, they had something to revenge; in addition to the
anticipated credit of having captured the boldest privateer that sailed
out of France. For a short time, as the ship came up with the west end
of Elba, it was a serious question whether she would be able to weather
it, the lugger having gone past, within a cable's length of the cliffs,
on the very verge of the breakers and much closer in than the frigate
would dare to follow. But the last had taken the breeze further off the
land than the first, and might possibly fetch past the promontory on the
tack she was then steering. To have gone about would have been to have
abandoned the chase, as it would have carried the ship off due north,
while le Feu-Follet was gliding down to the southward and westward at
the rate of seven knots. The distance across the canal is only about
thirty miles, and there would not have been time to recover the
This uncertainty made a most feverish moment on board the Proserpine,
as she came up fast toward the headland. All depended on getting by
without tacking. The appearances were favorable for deep water close in;
but there is always the danger of rocks to be dreaded near mountainous
coasts. The promontory, too, was comparatively low; and this was rather
an indication that it ought not to be approached too closely.
Winchester was in his berth, just beginning to feel the smart of his
wound; but Griffin was at the captain's elbow, both he and the third
lieutenant entering keenly into all their commander's wishes and
"There she goes, into the very breakers!" exclaimed Cuffe, as they
watched le Feu-Follet in her attempt to pass the promontory; "Monsieur
Yvard must be determined to cast away his craft rather than be taken. It
will be touch and go with him."
"I think not, Captain Cuffe," answered Griffin; "the coast is bold
hereabouts, and even the Proserpine would find sufficient water there,
where the lugger now is, I hope we shall not be obliged to tack, sir."
"Aye, this is very well for an irresponsible--but, when it got to a
court, and punishment, I fear that all the last would fall on my
shoulders, should his Majesty's ship happen to lay her bones along-shore
here. No, no, Griffin; we must go a clear cable's length to windward of
_that_, or I go about, though Raoul Yvard were never taken."
"There, he fetches up, by George!" cried Yelverton, the youngest
lieutenant; and for a moment it was in truth believed in the frigate
that le Feu-Follet, as a breaker actually curled directly under her lee,
was aground. But this notion lasted a moment only, the little lugger
continuing her course as swiftly as before; and a minute or two later
keeping a little away to ease her spars, having been jammed up as close
as possible previously, in order to weather the extreme end of what was
thought to be the dangerous point. The frigate was fully two miles
astern; and, instead of losing anything of her vantage-ground, she was
kept so near the wind as to be occasionally touching. This was the more
safe, inasmuch as the sea was perfectly smooth, and the vessel made no
lee-way. Still the frigate looked, as it is termed, barely up to the
point it was deemed indispensable to weather; and as ships rarely "do"
better than they "look," it became a question of serious doubt on board
the Proserpine, as she came up with the headland, whether she
could clear it.
"I am afraid, Captain Cuffe, we shall never clear it with a good-enough
berth, sir," observed the fidgeting Griffin; "it seems to me the ship
sets unaccountably to leeward to-day!"
"She never behaved better, Griffin. I am really in hopes there is a
slight current off-shore here; if anything, we actually open the
highlands of Corsica by this promontory. You see that the wreck of la
Divina Providenza is sweeping round the bay and is coming out to
"_That_ may serve us, indeed! All ready in the chains, sir!--shall we
make a cast of the lead?"
Cuffe assented, and the lead was hove. At this moment the ship was going
eight knots, and the man reported no bottom, with fifteen fathoms of
line out. This was well, and two or three subsequent casts confirmed it.
Orders were now given to drag every bowline, swig-off on every brace,
and flatten-in all the sheets. Even the halyards were touched in order
that the sails might stand like boards. The trying moment was near; five
minutes must decide the matter.
"Let her shake a little, Mr. Yelverton, and eat into the wind," said
Cuffe, addressing the officer of the watch; "we must do all we can here;
for when abreast of the breakers everything must be a rap-full to keep
the ship under quick command. There--meet her with the helm, and give
her a good full."
This experiment was repeated twice, and each time the frigate gained her
length to windward, though she necessarily lost more than three times
that distance in her velocity. At length the trial came, and a profound
silence, one in which nervousness and anxiety were blended with hope,
reigned in the vessel. The eyes of all turned from the sails to the
breakers; from the breakers to the sails; and from both to the wake
of the ship.
At such moments the voice of the lead's-man prevails over all other
sounds. His warning cry is listened to with breathless attention when
the songs of a siren would be unheard. Cast after cast was made as the
ship drove on, and the answer to Cuffe's questions was uniformly, "No
bottom, sir, with fifteen fathoms out"; but just at this instant arose
the regular song from the weather main-chains of "by the mark seven!"
This came so suddenly on the captain's ear that he sprang upon the
taffrail, where he could command a full view of all he wanted to see,
and then he called out in a stentorian voice:
"Heave again, sir!--be brisk, my lad!--be brisk!"
"Be-e-e-ther-r-r-dee-e-e-eep six!" followed almost as soon as the
Captain's voice had ceased.
"Ready-about," shouted Cuffe. "See all clear, gentlemen. Move lively,
men; more lively."
"Stand by!--What the devil are you at, sir, on that forecastle?--Are
you ready, forward?"
"All ready, sir--"
"Down with your helm--hard down at once--"
"Meet her!--up with your helm. Haul down your sheets forward--brail the
spanker--let go all the bowlines aft. So--well, there, well. She flew
round like a top; but, by Jove, we've caught her, gentlemen. Drag your
bowlines again. What's the news from the chains?"
"No bottom, sir, with fifteen fathoms out--and as good a cast, too, sir,
as we've had to-day."
"So--you're rap full--don't fall off--very well dyce" (_Anglice_,
thus)--"keep her as you are. Well, by the Lord, Griffin, that _was_ a
shave; half-four was getting to be squally in a quarter of the world
where a rock makes nothing of pouting its lips fifteen or twenty feet at
a time at a mariner. We are past it all, however, and here is the land,
trending away to the southward like a man in a consumption, fairly
under our lee. A dozen Raoul Yvards wouldn't lead me into such a d--d
"The danger that is over is no longer a danger at all, sir," answered
Griffin, laughing. "Don't you think, Captain Cuffe, we might ease her
about half a point? that would be just her play; and the lugger keeps
off a little, I rather suspect, to ease her mainmast. I'm certain I saw
chips fly from it when we dosed her with those two-and-twenty pills."
"Perhaps you're right, Griffin. Ease her with the helm a little, Mr.
Yelverton. If Master Yvard stands on his present course an hour longer,
Biguglia would be too far to windward for him; and as for Bastia, that
has been out of the question from the first. There is a river called
Golo, into which he might run; and that, I rather think, is his aim.
Four hours, however, will let us into his secret."
And four intensely interesting hours were those which succeeded. The
wind was a cap-full; a good, fresh, westerly breeze, which seemed to
have started out of the oven-like heat of a week of intensely hot
weather that had preceded it, and to have collected the force of two or
three zephyrs into one. It was not a gale at all, nor did it induce
either party to think of reefing; no trifle would have done that, under
the circumstances; but it caused the Proserpine to furl her fore and
mizzentopgallant-sails, and put Raoul in better humor with the loss of
his jigger. When fairly round the headland, and at a moment when he
fancied the frigate would be compelled to tack, the latter had seized an
opportunity to get in his foresail, to unbend it, and to bend and set a
new one; an operation that took just four minutes by the watch. He would
have tried the same experiment with the other lug, but the mast was
scarce worth the risk, and he thought the holes might act as reefs, and
thus diminish the strain. In these four hours, owing to the disadvantage
under which le Feu-Follet labored, there was not a difference of half a
knot in the distance run by the two vessels, though each passed over
more than thirty miles of water. During this time they had been drawing
rapidly nearer to the coast of Corsica, the mountains of which, ragged
and crowned with nearly eternal snows, had been glittering in the
afternoon's sun before them, though they lay many a long league inland.
But the formation of the coast itself had now become plain, and Raoul,
an hour before the sun disappeared, noted his landmarks, by which to
make for the river he intended to enter. The eastern coast of Corsica is
as deficient in bays and harbors as its western is affluent with them;
and this Golo, for which the lugger was shaping her course, would never
have been thought of as a place of shelter under ordinary circumstances.
But Raoul had once anchored in its mouth, and he deemed it the very spot
in which to elude his enemy. It had shoals off its embouchure; and
these, he rightly enough fancied, would induce Captain Cuffe to be wary.
As the evening approached the wind began to decrease in force, and then
the people of the lugger lost all their apprehensions. The spars had all
stood, and Raoul no longer hesitated about trusting his wounded mainmast
with a new yard and sail. Both were got up, and the repairs were
immediately commenced. The superiority of the lugger in sailing was now
so great as to put it out of all question that she was not to be
overtaken in the chase; and Raoul at one time actually thought of
turning up along the land and going into Bastia, where he might even
provide himself with a new mainmast at need. But this idea, on
reflection, he abandoned as too hazardous; and he continued on in the
direction of the mouth of the Golo.
Throughout the day the Proserpine had shown no colors, except for the
short period when her boats were engaged, and while she herself was
firing at the lugger. The same was the fact with le Feu-Follet, though
Raoul had run up the tri-color as he opened on the felucca, and he kept
it flying as long as there was any appearance of hostilities. As the two
vessels drew in near to the land several coasters were seen beating up
against the westerly wind, or running down before it, all of which,
however, seemed so much to distrust the appearance of the lugger as to
avoid her as far as was possible. This was a matter of indifference to
our hero, who knew that they were all probably countrymen; or, at least,
smugglers, who would scarcely reward him for the trouble, had he time to
bring them to and capture them. Corsica was then again in the hands of
the French, the temporary and imperfect possession of the English having
terminated three or four years earlier; and Raoul felt certain of a
welcome anywhere in the island and of protection wherever it could be