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Jack Tier or The Florida Reef by James Fenimore Cooper

Part 8 out of 10

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able to contradict him; and as to Spike and the men with him, they
would probably never hear anything about it.

Don Juan Montefalderon was struck with the boldness of Jack Tier's
plan, but refused his assent to it. He deemed it too hazardous, but
substituted a project of his own. The moon would not rise until near
eleven, and it wanted several hours before the time of sailing. When
they returned to the brig, he would procure his cloak, and scull
himself ashore, being perfectly used to managing a boat in this way,
under the pretence of wishing to pass an hour longer near the grave
of his countryman. At the expiration of that hour he would take Jack
off, concealed beneath his cloak--an exploit of no great difficulty
in the darkness, especially as no one would be on deck but a hand or
two keeping the anchor-watch. With this arrangement, therefore, Jack
Tier was obliged to be content.

Some fifteen or twenty minutes more passed; during which the Mexican
again alluded to his country, and his regrets at her deplorable
situation. The battles of the 8th and 9th of May; two combats that
ought to, and which will reflect high honour on the little army that
won them, as well as on that hardly worked, and in some respects
hardly used, service to which they belong, had been just fought. Don
Juan mentioned these events without reserve; and frankly admitted
that success had fallen to the portion of much the weaker party. He
ascribed the victory to the great superiority of the American
officers of inferior rank; it being well known that in the service
of the "Republic of the North," as he termed America, men who had
been regularly educated at the military academy, and who had reached
the period of middle life, were serving in the stations of captains,
and sometimes in that of lieutenants; men who, in many cases, were
fitted to command regiments and brigades, having been kept in these
lower stations by the tardiness with which promotion comes in an
army like that of this country.

Don Juan Montefalderon was not sufficiently conversant with the
subject, perhaps, else he might have added, that when occasions _do_
offer to bestow on these gentlemen the preferment they have so
hardly and patiently earned, they are too often neglected, in order
to extend the circle of vulgar political patronage. He did not know
that when a new regiment of dragoons was raised, one permanent in
its character, and intended to be identified with the army in all
future time, that, instead of giving its commissions to those who
had fairly earned them by long privations and faithful service, they
were given, with one or two exceptions, to strangers.

No government trifles more with its army and navy than our own. So
niggardly are the master-spirits at Washington of the honours justly
earned by military men, that we have fleets still commanded by
captains, and armies by officers whose regular duty it would be to
command brigades. The world is edified with the sight of forces
sufficient, in numbers, and every other military requisite, to make
one of Napoleon's _corps de armée,_ led by one whose commission
would place him properly at the head of a brigade, and nobly led,
too. Here, when so favourable an occasion offers to add a regiment
or two to the old permanent line of the army, and thus infuse new
life into its hope deferred, the opportunity is overlooked, and the
rank and file are to be obtained by cramming, instead of by a
generous regard to the interests of the gallant gentlemen who have
done so much for the honour of the American name, and, unhappily, so
little for themselves. The extra-patriots of the nation, and they
form a legion large enough to trample the "Halls of the Montezumas"
under their feet, tell us that the reward of those other patriots
beneath the shadows of the Sierra Madre, is to be in the love and
approbation of their fellow citizens, at the very moment when they
are giving the palpable proof of the value of this esteem, and of
the inconstancy of popular applause, by pointing their fingers, on
account of an inadvertent expression in a letter, at the gallant
soldier who taught, in our own times, the troops of this country to
stand up to the best appointed regiments of England, and to carry
off victory from the pride of Europe, in fair field-fights. Alas!
alas! it is true of nations as well as of men, in their simplest and
earliest forms of association, that there are "secrets in all
families;" and it will no more do to dwell on our own, than it would
edify us to expose those of poor Mexico.

The discourse between the Señor Montefalderon and Mulford was
interesting, as it ever has been when the former spoke of his
unfortunate country. On the subject of the battles of May he was
candid, and admitted his deep mortification and regrets. He had
expected more from the force collected on the Rio Grande, though,
understanding the northern character better than most of his
countrymen, he had not been as much taken by surprise as the great
bulk of his own nation.

"Nevertheless, Don Henrique," he concluded, for the voice of Spike
was just then heard as he was descending the stairs of the
light-house, "nevertheless, Don Henrique, there is one thing that
your people, brave, energetic, and powerful as I acknowledge them to
be, would do well to remember, and it is this--no nation of the
numbers of ours can be, or ever was conquered, unless by the force
of political combinations. In a certain state of society a
government may be overturned, or a capital taken, and carry a whole
country along with it, but our condition is one not likely to bring
about such a result. We are of a race different from the
Anglo-Saxon, and it will not be easy either to assimilate us to your
own, or wholly to subdue us. In those parts of the country, where
the population is small, in time, no doubt, the Spanish race might
be absorbed, and your sway established; but ages of war would be
necessary entirely to obliterate our usages, our language, and our
religion from the peopled portions of Mexico."

It might be well for some among us to reflect on these matters. The
opinions of Don Juan, in our judgment, being entitled to the
consideration of all prudent and considerate men.

As Spike descended to the door of the light-house, Harry, Rose, and
Jack Tier retired within that of the dwelling. Presently the voice
of the captain was heard hailing the Mexican, and together they
walked to the wharf, the former boasting to the latter of his
success in making a brilliant light. Brilliant it was, indeed; so
brilliant as to give Mulford many misgivings on the subject of the
boat. The light from the lantern fell upon the wharf, and he could
see the boat from the window where he stood, with Spike standing
nearly over it, waiting for the men to get his own yawl ready. It is
true, the captain's back was toward the dangerous object, and the
planks of the bridge were partly between him and it; but there was a
serious danger that was solely averted by the circumstance that
Spike was so earnestly dilating on some subject to Don Juan, as to
look only at that gentleman's face. A minute later they were all in
the yawl, which pulled rapidly toward the brig.

Don Juan Montefalderon was not long absent. Ten minutes sufficed for
the boat to reach the Swash, for him to obtain his cloak, and to
return to the islet alone, no one in the vessel feeling a desire to
interfere with his imaginary prayers. As for the people, it was not
probable that one in the brig could have been induced to accompany
him to the graves at that hour; though everybody but Josh had
turned-in, as he informed Mulford, to catch short naps previously to
the hour of getting the brig under way. As for the steward, he had
been placed on the look-out as the greatest idler on board. All this
was exceedingly favourable to Jack Tier's project, since Josh was
already in the secret of his absence, and would not be likely to
betray his return. After a brief consultation, it was agreed to wait
half an hour or an hour, in order to let the sleepers lose all
consciousness, when Don Juan proposed returning to the vessel with
his new companion.

The thirty or forty minutes that succeeded were passed in general
conversation. On this occasion the Señor Montefalderon spoke more
freely than he had yet done of recent events. He let it be plainly
seen how much he despised Spike, and how irksome to him was the
intercourse he was obliged to maintain, and to which he only
submitted through a sense of duty. The money known to be in the
schooner, was of a larger amount than had been supposed; and every
dollar was so important to Mexico, at that moment, that he did not
like to abandon it, else, did he declare, that he would quit the
brig at once, and share in the fortunes of Harry and Rose. He
courteously expressed his best wishes for the happiness of the young
couple, and delicately intimated that, under the circumstances, he
supposed that they would be united as soon as they could reach a
place where the marriage rite could be celebrated. This was said in
the most judicious way possible; so delicately as not to wound any
one's feelings, and in a way to cause it to resemble the
announcement of an expectation, rather than the piece of paternal
advice for which it was really intended. Harry was delighted with
this suggestion of his Mexican friend--the most loyal American may
still have a sincere friend of Mexican birth and Mexican feelings,
too--since it favoured not only his secret wishes, but his secret
expectations also.

At the appointed moment, Don Juan Montefalderon and Jack Tier took
their leave of the two they left behind them. Rose manifested what
to Harry seemed a strange reluctance to part with the little
steward; but Tier was bent on profiting by this excellent
opportunity to get back to the brig. They went, accordingly, and the
anxious listeners, who watched the slightest movement of the yawl,
from the shore, had reason to believe that Jack was smuggled in
without detection. They heard the familiar sound of the oar falling
in the boat, and Mulford said that Josh's voice might be
distinguished, answering to a call from Don Juan. No noise or
clamour was heard, such as Spike would certainly have made, had he
detected the deception that had been practised on himself.

Harry and Rose were now alone. The former suggested that the latter
should take possession of one of the little bed-rooms that are
usually to be found in American dwellings of the dimensions and
humble character of the lighthouse abode, while he kept watch until
the brig should sail. Until Spike was fairly off, he would not trust
himself to sleep; but there was no sufficient reason why Rose should
not endeavour to repair the evil of a broken night's rest, like that
which had been passed in the boat. With this understanding, then,
our heroine took possession of her little apartment, where she threw
herself on the bed in her clothes, while Mulford walked out into the
air, as the most effective means of helping to keep his eyes open.

It was now some time past ten, and before eleven the moon would
rise. The mate consequently knew that his watch could not be long
before Spike would quit the neighbourhood--a circumstance pregnant
with immense relief to him, at least. So long as that unscrupulous,
and now nearly desperate, man remained anywhere near Rose, he felt
that she could not be safe; and as he paced the sands, on the off,
or outer side of the islet, in order to be beyond the influence of
the light in the lantern, his eye was scarcely a moment taken away
from the Swash, so impatiently and anxiously did he wait for the
signs of some movement on board her.

The moon rose, and Mulford heard the well-known raps on the
booby-hatch, which precedes the call of "all hands," on board a
merchant-man. "All hands up anchor, ahoy!" succeeded, and in less
than five minutes the bustle on board the brig announced the fact,
that her people were "getting the anchor." By this time it had got
to be so light that the mate deemed it prudent to return to the
house, in order that he might conceal his person within its shadows.
Awake Rose he would not, though he knew she would witness the
departure of the Swash with a satisfaction little short of his own.
He thought he would wait, that when he did speak to her at all, it
might be to announce their entire safety. As regarded the aunt, Rose
was much relieved on her account, by the knowledge that Jack Tier
would not fail to let Mrs. Budd know everything connected with her
own situation and prospects. The desertion of Jack, after coming so
far with her, had pained our heroine in a way we cannot at present
explain; but go he would, probably feeling assured there was no
longer any necessity for his continuance with the lovers, in order
to prevail on Rose to escape from Spike.

The Swash was not long in getting her ground-tackle, and the brig
was soon seen with her topsail aback, waiting to cat the anchor.
This done, the yards swung round, and the topsail filled. It was
blowing just a good breeze for such a craft to carry whole sail on a
bow-line with, and away the light and active craft started, like the
racer that is galloping for daily exercise. Of course there were
several passages by which a vessel might quit the group of islets,
some being larger, and some smaller, but all having sufficient water
for a brigantine of the Molly's draught. Determined not to lose an
inch of distance unnecessarily, Spike luffed close up to the wind,
making an effort to pass out to windward of the light. In order to
do this, however, it became necessary for him to make two short
tacks within the haven, which brought him far enough to the
southward and eastward to effect his purpose. While this was doing,
the mate, who perfectly understood the object of the manoeuvres,
passed to the side of the light-house that was opposite to that on
which the dwelling was placed, with a view to get a better sight of
the vessel as she stood out to sea. In order to do this, however, it
was necessary for the young man to pass through a broad bit of
moonlight but he trusted for his not being seen, to the active
manner in which all hands were employed on board the vessel. It
would seem that, in this respect, Mulford trusted without his host,
for as the vessel drew near, he perceived that six or eight figures
were on the guns of the Swash, or in her rigging, gesticulating
eagerly, and seemingly pointing to the very spot where he stood.
When the brig got fairly abeam of the light, she would not be a
hundred yards distant from it, and fearful to complete the exposure
of his person, which he had so inadvertently and unexpectedly
commenced, our mate drew up close to the wall of the light-house,
against which he sustained himself in a position as immovable as
possible. This movement had been seen by a single seaman on board
the Swash, and the man happened to be one of those who had landed
with Spike only two hours before. His name was Barlow.

"Captain Spike, sir," called out Barlow, who was coiling up rigging
on the forecastle, and was consequently obliged to call out so loud
as to be heard by all on board, "yonder is a man at the foot of the

By this time, the moon coming out bright through an opening in the
clouds, Mulford had become conscious of the risk he ran, and was
drawn up, as immovable as the pile itself, against the stones of the
light-house. Such an announcement brought everybody to leeward, and
every head over the bulwarks. Spike himself sprang into the lee
main-chains, where his view was unobstructed, and where Mulford saw
and recognised him, even better than he was seen and recognised in
his own person. All this time the brig was moving ahead.

"A man, Barlow!" exclaimed Spike, in the way one a little bewildered
by an announcement expresses his surprise. "A man! that can never
be. There is no one at the light-house, you know."

"There he stands, sir, with his back to the tower, and his face this
way. His dark figure against the white-washed stones is plain enough
to be seen. Living, or dead, sir, that is the mate!"

"_Living_ it cannot be," answered Spike, though he gulped at the
words the next moment.

A general exclamation now showed that everybody recognised the mate,
whose figure, stature, dress, and even features, were by this time
all tolerably distinct. The fixed attitude, however, the immovable
statue-like rigidity of the form, and all the other known
circumstances of Harry's case, united to produce a common and
simultaneous impression among the superstitious mariners, that what
they saw was but the ghostly shadow of one lately departed to the
world of spirits. Even Spike was not free from this illusion, and
his knees shook beneath him, there where he stood, in the channels
of a vessel that he had handled like a top in so many gales and
tempests. With him, however, the illusion was neither absolute nor
lasting. A second thought told him it could scarcely be so, and then
he found his voice. By this time the brig was nearly abreast of
where Harry stood.

"You Josh!" called out Spike, in a voice of thunder, loud enough to
startle even Mrs. Budd and Biddy in their berths.

"Lor' help us all!" answered the negro, "what _will_ come next
t'ing aboard dis wessel! Here I be, sir."

"Pass the fowling-piece out of my state-room. Both barrels are
loaded with ball; I'll try him, though the bullets _are_ only lead."

A common exclamation of dissatisfaction escaped the men, while Josh
was obeying the order. "It's no use."

"You never can hurt one of them things," "Something will befall the
brig on account of this," and "It's the mate's sperit, and sperits
can't be harmed by lead or iron," were the sort of remarks made by
the seamen, during the short interval between the issuing the order
for the fowling-piece and its execution.

"There 't is, Cap'in Spike," said Josh, passing the piece up through
the rigging, "but 't will no more shoot _that_ thing, than one of
our carronades would blow up Gibraltar."

By this time Spike was very determined, his lips being compressed
and his teeth set, as he took the gun and cocked it. Then he hailed.
As all that passed occurred, as it might be, at once, the brig even
at that moment was little more than abreast of the immovable mate,
and about eighty yards from him.

"Light-house, there!" cried Spike--"Living or dead, answer or I

No answer came, and no motion appeared in the dark figure that was
now very plainly visible, under a bright moon, drawn in high relief
against the glittering white of the tower. Spike dropped the muzzle
to its aim, and fired.

So intense was the attention of all in the Swash, that a wink of
Harry's could almost have been seen, had he betrayed even that
slight sign of human infirmity at the flash and the report. The ball
was flattened against a stone of the building, within a foot of the
mate's body; but he did not stir. All depended now on his perfect
immovability, as he well knew; and he so far commanded himself, as
to remain rigid as if of stone himself.

"There! one can see how it is--no life in that being," said one. "I
know'd how it would end," added another. "Nothing but silver, and
that cast on purpose, will ever lay it," continued a third. But
Spike disregarded all. This time he was resolved that his aim should
be better, and he was inveterately deliberate in getting it. Just as
he pulled the trigger, however, Don Juan Montefalderon touched his
elbow, the piece was fired, and there stood the immovable figure as
before, fixed against the tower. Spike was turning angrily to chide
his Mexican friend for deranging his aim, when the report of an
answering musket came back like an echo. Every eye was turned toward
the figure, but it moved not. Then the humming sound of an advancing
ball was heard, and a bullet passed, whistling hoarsely, through the
rigging, and fell some distance to windward. Every head disappeared
below the bulwarks. Even Spike was so far astonished as to spring in
upon deck, and, for a single instant, not a man was to be seen above
the monkey-rail of the brig. Then Spike recovered himself and jumped
upon a gun. His first look was toward the light-house, now on the
vessel's lee-quarter; but the spot where had so lately been seen the
form of Mulford, showed nothing but the glittering brightness of the
white-washed stones!

The reader will not be surprised to learn that all these events
produced a strange and deep impression on board the Molly Swash. The
few who might have thrown a little light on the matter were
discreetly silent, while all that portion of the crew which was in
the dark, firmly believed that the spirit of the murdered mate was
visiting them, in order to avenge the wrongs inflicted on it in the
flesh. The superstition of sailors is as deep as it is general. All
those of the Molly, too, were salts of the old school, sea-dogs of a
past generation, properly speaking, and mariners who had got their
notions in the early part of the century, when the spirit of
progress was less active than it is at present.

Spike himself might have had other misgivings, and believed that he
had seen the living form of his intended victim, but for the
extraordinary and ghost-like echo of his last discharge. There was
nothing visible, or intelligible, from which that fire could have
come, and he was perfectly bewildered by the whole occurrence. An
intention to round-to, as soon as through the passage, down boat and
land, which had been promptly conceived when he found that his first
aim had failed, was as suddenly abandoned, and he gave the command
to "board fore-tack;" immediately after, his call was to "pack on the
brig," and not without a little tremour in his voice, as soon as he
perceived that the figure had vanished. The crew was not slow to
obey these orders, and in ten minutes, the Swash was a mile from the
light, standing to the northward and eastward, under a press of
canvas, and with a freshening breeze.

To return to the islets. Harry, from the first, had seen that
everything depended on his remaining motionless. As the people of
the brig were partly in shadow, he could not, and did not, fully
understand how completely he was himself exposed, in consequence of
the brightness of all around him, and he had at first hoped to be
mistaken for some accidental resemblance to a man. His nerves were
well tried by the use of the fowling-piece, but they proved equal to
the necessities of the occasion. But, when an answering report came
from the rear, or from the opposite side of the islet, he darted
round the tower, as much taken by surprise, and overcome by wonder,
as any one else who heard it. It was this rapid movement which
caused his flight to be unnoticed, all the men of the brig dodging
below their own bulwarks at that precise instant.

As the light-house was now between the mate and the brig, he had no
longer any motive for trying to conceal himself. His first thought
was of Rose, and, strange as it may seem, for some little time he
fancied that she had found a musket in the dwelling, and discharged
it, in order to aid his escape. The events had passed so swiftly,
that there was no time for the cool consideration of anything, and
it is not surprising that some extravagances mingled with the first
surmises of all these.

On reaching the door of the house, therefore, Harry was by no means
surprised at seeing Rose standing in it, gazing at the swiftly
receding brigantine. He even looked for the musket, expecting to see
it lying at her feet, or leaning against the wall of the building.
Rose, however, was entirely unarmed, and as dependent on him for
support, as when he had parted from her, an hour or two before.

"Where did you find that musket, Rose, and what have you done with
it?" inquired Harry, as soon as he had looked in every place he
thought likely to hold such an implement.

"Musket, Harry! I have had no musket, though the report of
fire-arms, near by, awoke me from a sweet sleep."

"Is this possible! I had imprudently trusted myself on the other
side of the light-house, while the moon was behind clouds, and when
they broke suddenly away, its light betrayed me to those on board
the brig. Spike fired at me twice, without injuring me; when, to my
astonishment, an answering report was heard from the islet. What is
more, the piece was charged with a ball-cartridge, for I heard the
whistling of the bullet as it passed on its way to the brig."

"And you supposed I had fired that musket?"

"Whom else could I suppose had done it? You are not a very likely
person to do such a thing, I will own, my love; but there are none
but us two here."

"It must be Jack Tier," exclaimed Rose suddenly.

"That is impossible, since he has left us."

"One never knows. Jack understood how anxious I was to retain him
with us, and he is so capricious and full of schemes, that he may
have contrived to get out of the brig, as artfully as he got on
board her."

"If Jack Tier be actually on this islet, I shall set him down as
little else than a conjuror."

"Hist!" interrupted Rose, "what noise is that in the direction of
the wharf? It sounds like an oar falling in a boat."

Mulford heard that well-known sound, as well as his companion, and,
followed by Rose, he passed swiftly through the house, coming out at
the front, next the wharf. The moon was still shining bright, and
the mystery of the echoing report, and answering shot, was
immediately explained. A large boat, one that pulled ten oars, at
least, was just coming up to the end of the wharf, and the manner in
which its oars were unshipped and tossed, announced to the mate that
the crew were man-of-war's men. He walked hastily forward to meet

Three officers first left the boat together. The gold bands of their
caps showed that they belonged to the quarter-deck, a fact that the
light of the moon made apparent at once, though it was not strong
enough to render features distinct. As Mulford continued to advance,
however, the three officers saluted him.

"I see you have got the light under way once more," observed the
leader of the party. "Last night it was as dark as Erebus in your

"The light-house keeper and his assistant have both been drowned,"
answered Mulford. "The lamps have been lit to-night by the people of
the brig which has just gone out."

"Pray, sir, what brig may that be?"

"The Molly Swash, of New York; a craft that I lately belonged to
myself, but which I have left on account of her evil doings."

"The Molly Swash, Stephen Spike master and owner, bound to Key West
and a market, with a cargo of eight hundred barrels of flour, and
that of a quality so lively and pungent that it explodes like
gunpowder! I beg your pardon, Mr. Mate, for not recognising you
sooner. Have you forgotten the Poughkeepsie, Captain Mull, and her
far-reaching Paixhans?"

"I ought to ask your pardon, Mr. Wallace, for not recognising _you_
sooner, too. But one does not distinguish well by moonlight. I am
delighted to see you, sir, and now hope that, with my assistance, a
stop can be put to the career of the brig."

"What, Mr. Mate, do _you_ turn against your craft?" said Wallace,
under the impulsive feeling which induces all loyal men to have a
distaste for treachery of every sort, "the seaman should love the
very planks of his vessel."

"I fully understand you, Mr. Wallace, and will own that, for a long
time, I was tied to rascality by the opinions to which you allude.
But, when you come to hear my explanation, I do not fear your
judgment in the least."

Mulford now led the way into the house, whither Rose had already
retreated, and where she had lighted candles, and made other womanly
arrangements for receiving her guests. At Harry's suggestion, some
of the soup was placed over coals, to warm up for the party, and our
heroine made her preparations to comfort them also with a cup of
tea. While she was thus employed, Mulford gave the whole history of
his connection with the brig, his indisposition to quit the latter,
the full exposure of Spike's treason, his own desertion, if
desertion it could be called, the loss of the schooner, and his
abandonment on the rock, and the manner in which he had been finally
relieved. It was scarcely possible to relate all these matters, and
altogether avoid allusions to the schemes of Spike in connection
with Rose, and the relation in which our young man himself stood
toward her. Although Mulford touched on these points with great
delicacy, it was as a seaman talking to seamen, and he could not
entirely throw aside the frankness of the profession. Ashore, men
live in the privacy of their own domestic circles, and their
secrets, and secret thoughts, are "family secrets," of which it has
passed into a proverb to say, that there are always some, even in
the best of these communities. On shipboard, or in the camp, it is
very different. The close contact in which men are brought with each
other, the necessity that exists for opening the heart and expanding
the charities, gets in time to influence the whole character, and a
certain degree of frankness and simplicity, takes the place of the
reserve and acting that might have been quickened in the same
individual, under a different system of schooling. But Mulford was
frank by nature, as well as by his sea-education, and his companions
on this occasion were pretty well possessed of all his wishes and
plans, in reference to Rose, even to his hope of falling in with the
chaplain of the Poughkeepsie, by the time his story was all told.
The fact that Rose was occupied in another room, most of the time,
had made these explanations all the easier, and spared her many a
blush. As for the man-of-war's men, they listened to the tale, with
manly interest and a generous sympathy.

"I am glad to hear your explanation, Mr. Mate," said Wallace,
cordially, as soon as Harry had done, "and there's my hand, in proof
that I approve of your course. I own to a radical dislike of a
turncoat, or a traitor to his craft, Brother Hollins"--looking at
the elder of his two companions, one of whom was the midshipman who
had originally accompanied him on board the Swash--"and am glad to
find that our friend Mulford here is neither. A true-hearted sailor
can be excused for deserting even his own ship, under such

"I am glad to hear even this little concession from you, Wallace,"
answered Hollins, good-naturedly, and speaking with a mild
expression of benevolence, on a very calm and thoughtful
countenance. "Your mess is as heteredox as any I ever sailed with,
on the subject of our duties, in this respect."

"I hold it to be a sailor's duty to stick by his ship, reverend and
dear sir."

This mode of address, which was used by the "ship's gentleman" in
the cant of the ward-room, as a pleasantry of an old shipmate, for
the two had long sailed together in other vessels, at once announced
to Harry that he saw the very chaplain for whose presence he had
been so anxiously wishing. The "reverend and dear sir" smiled at the
sally of his friend, a sort of thing to which he was very well
accustomed, but he answered with a gravity and point that, it is to
be presumed, he thought befitting his holy office.

It may be well to remark here, that the Rev. Mr. Hollins was not one
of the "lunch'd chaplains," that used to do discredit to the navy of
this country, or a layman dubbed with such a title, and rated that
he might get the pay and become a boon companion of the captain, at
the table and in his frolics ashore. Those days are gone by, and
ministers of the gospel are now really employed to care for the
souls of the poor sailors, who so long have been treated by others,
and have treated themselves, indeed, as if they were beings without
souls, altogether. In these particulars, the world has certainly
advanced, though the wise and the good, in looking around them, may
feel more cause for astonishment in contemplating what it once was,
than to rejoice in what it actually is. But intellect has certainly
improved in the aggregate, if not in its especial dispensations, and
men will not now submit to abuses that, within the recollections of
a generation, they even cherished. In reference to the more
intellectual appointments of a ship of war, the commander excepted,
for we contend he who directs all, ought to possess the most
capacity, but, in reference to what are ordinarily believed to be
the more intellectual appointments of a vessel of war, the surgeon
and the chaplain, we well recollect opinions that were expressed to
us, many years since, by two officers of the highest rank known to
the service. "When I first entered the navy," said one of these old
Benbows, "if I had occasion for the amputation of a leg, and the
question lay between the carpenter and the doctor, d--e, but I would
have tried the carpenter first, for I felt pretty certain he would
have been the most likely to get through with the job." "In old
times," said the other, "when a chaplain joined a ship, the question
immediately arose, whether the mess were to convert the chaplain, or
the chaplain, the mess; and the mess generally got the best of it."
There was very little exaggeration in either of these opinions. But,
happily, all this is changed vastly for the better, and a
navy-surgeon is necessarily a man of education and experience; in
very many instances, men of high talents are to be found among them;
while chaplains can do something better than play at backgammon, eat
terrapins, when in what may be called terra-pin-ports, and drink
brandy and water, or pure Bob Smith.1

"It is a great mistake, Wallace, to fancy that the highest duty a
man owes, is either to his ship or to his country," observed the
Rey. Mr. Hollins, quietly. "The highest duty of each and all of us,
is to God; and whatever conflicts with that duty, must be avoided as
a transgression of his laws, and consequently as sin."

"You surprise me, reverend and dear sir! I do not remember ever to
have heard you broach such opinions before, which might be
interpreted to mean that a fellow might be disloyal to his flag."

"Because the opinion might be liable to misinterpretation. Still, I
do not go as far as many of my friends on this subject. If Decatur
ever really said, `Our country, right or wrong,' he said what might
be just enough, and creditable enough, in certain cases, and taken
with the fair limitations that he probably intended should accompany
the sentiment; but, if he meant it as an absolute and controlling
principle, it was not possible to be more in error. In this last
sense, such a rule of conduct might, and in old times often would,
have justified idolatry; nay, it _is_ a species of idolatry in
itself, since it is putting country before God. Sailors may not
always be able to make the just distinctions in these cases, but the
quarter-deck should be so, irreverend and dear sir."

Wallace laughed, and then he turned the discourse to the subject
more properly before them.

"I understand you to say, Mr. Mulford," he remarked, "that, in your
opinion, the Swash has gone to try to raise the unfortunate Mexican
schooner, a second time, from the depths of the ocean?"

"From the rock on which she lies. Under the circumstances, I hardly
think he would have come hither for the chain and cable, unless with
some such object. We know, moreover, thut such _was_ his intention
when we left the brig."

"And you can take us to the very spot where that wreck lies?"

"Without any difficulty. Her masts are partly out of water, and we
hung on to them, in our boat, no later than last night, or this
morning rather."

"So far, well. Your conduct in all this affair will be duly
appreciated, and Captain Mull will not fail to represent it in a
right point of view to the government."

"Where is the ship, sir? I looked for her most anxiously, without
success, last evening; nor had Jack Tier, the little fellow I have
named to you, any better luck; though I sent him aloft, as high as
the lantern in the light-house, for that purpose."

"The ship is off here to the northward and westward, some six
leagues or so. At sunset she may have been a little further. We have
supposed that the Swash would be coming back hither, and had laid a
trap for her, which came very near taking her alive."

"What is the trap you mean, sir--though taking Stephen Spike alive,
is sooner said than done."

"Our plan has been to catch him with our boats. With the greater
draft of water of the Poughkeepsie, and the heels of your brig, sir,
a regular chase about these reefs, as we knew from experience, would
be almost hopeless. It was, therefore, necessary to use head-work,
and some man-of-war traverses, in order to lay hold of him.
Yesterday afternoon we hoisted out three cutters, manned them, and
made sail in them all, under our luggs, working up against the
trades. Each boat took its own course, one going off, the west end
of the reef, one going more to the eastward, while I came this way,
to look in at the Dry Tortugas. Spike will be lucky if he do not
fall in with our third cutter, which is under the fourth lieutenant,
should he stand on far on the same tack as that on which he left
this place. Let him try his fortune, however. As for our boat, as
soon as I saw the lamps burning in the lantern, I made the best of
my way hither, and got sight of the brig, just as she loosened her
sails. Then I took in my own luggs, and came on with the oars. Had
we continued under our canvas, with this breeze, I almost think we
might have overhauled the rascal."

"It would have been impossible, sir. The moment he got a sight of
your sails, he would have been off in a contrary direction, and that
brig really seems to fly, whenever there is a pressing occasion for
her to move. You did the wisest thing you could have done, and
barely missed him, as it was. He has not seen you at all, as it is,
and will be all the less on his guard, against the next visit from
the ship."

"Not seen me! Why, sir, the fellow fired at us _t_wice with a
musket; why he did not use a carronade, is more than I can tell."

"Excuse me, Mr. Wallace; those two shots were intended for me,
though I now fully comprehend why you answered them."

"Answered them! yes, indeed; who would not answer such a salute, and
gun for gun, if he had a chance. I certainly thought he was firing
at us, and having a musket between my legs, I let fly in return, and
even the chaplain here will allow that was returning `good for
evil.' But explain your meaning."

Mulford now went into the details of the incidents connected with
his coming into the moon-light, at the foot of the light-house. That
he was not mistaken as to the party for whom the shots were
intended, was plain enough to him, from the words that passed aloud
among the people of the Swash, as well as from the circumstance that
both balls struck the stones of the tower quite near him. This
statement explained everything to Wallace, who now fully
comprehended the cause and motive of each incident.

It was now near eleven, and Rose had prepared the table for supper.
The gentlemen of the Poughkeepsie manifested great interest in the
movements of the Hebe-like little attendant who was caring for their
wants. When the cloth was to be laid, the midshipman offered his
assistance, but his superior directed him to send a hand or two up
from the wharf, where the crew of the cutter were lounging or
sleeping after their cruise. These men had been thought of, too; and
a vessel filled with smoking soup was taken to them, by one of their
own number.

The supper was as cheerful as it was excellent. The dry humour of
Wallace, the mild intelligence of the chaplain, the good sense of
Harry, and the spirited information of Rose, contributed, each in
its particular way, to make the meal memorable in more senses than
one. The laugh came easily at that table, and it was twelve o'clock,
before the party thought of breaking up.

The dispositions for the night were soon made. Rose returned to her
little room, where she could now sleep in comfort, and without
apprehension. The gentlemen made the disposition of their persons,
that circumstances allowed; each finding something on which to
repose, that was preferable to a plank. As for the men, they were
accustomed to hard fare, and enjoyed their present good-luck, to the
top of their bent. It was quite late, before they had done "spinning
their yarns," and "cracking their jokes," around the pot of
turtle-soup, and the can of grog that succeeded it. By half-past
twelve, however, everybody was asleep.

Mulford was the first person afoot the following morning. He left
the house just as the sun rose, and perceiving that the "coast was
clear" of sharks, he threw off his light attire, and plunged into
the sea. Refreshed with this indulgence, he was returning toward the
building, when he met the chaplain coming in quest of him. This
gentleman, a man of real piety, and of great discretion, had been
singularly struck, on the preceding night, with the narrative of our
young mate; and he had not failed to note the allusions, slight as
they were, and delicately put as they had been, to himself. He saw,
at once, the propriety of marrying a couple so situated, and now
sought Harry, with a view to bring about so desirable an event, by
intimating his entire willingness to officiate. It is scarcely
necessary to say that very few words were wanting, to persuade the
young man to fall into his views; and as to Rose, he had handed her
a short note on the same subject, which he was of opinion, would be
likely to bring her to the same way of thinking.

An hour later, all the officers, Harry and Rose, were assembled in
what might be termed the light-house parlour. The Rev. Mr. Hollins
had neither band, gown, nor surplice; but he had what was far
better, feeling and piety. Without a prayer-book he never moved; and
he read the marriage ceremony with a solemnity that was communicated
to all present. The ring was that which had been used at the
marriage of Rose's parents, and which she wore habitually, though
not on the left hand. In a word, Harry and Rose were as firmly and
legally united, on that solitary and almost unknown islet, as could
have been the case, had they stood up before the altar of mother
Trinity itself, with a bishop to officiate, and a legion of
attendants. After the compliments which succeeded the ceremony, the
whole party sat down to breakfast.

If the supper had been agreeable, the morning meal was not less so.
Rose was timid and blushing, as became a bride, though she could not
but feel how much more respectable her position became under the
protection of Harry as his wife, than it had been while she was only
his betrothed. The most delicate deportment, on the part of her
companions, soon relieved her embarrassment however, and the
breakfast passed off without cause for an unhappy moment.

"The ship's standing in toward the light, sir," reported the
cockswain of the cutter, as the party was still lingering around the
table, as if unwilling to bring so pleasant a meal to a close.
"Since the mist has broke away, we see her, sir, even to her ports
and dead-eyes."

"In that case, Sam, she can't be very far off," answered Wallace.
"Ay, there goes a gun from her, at this moment, as much as to say,
`what has become of all of my boats?' Run down and let off a musket;
perhaps she will make out to hear that, as we must be rather to
windward, if anything."

The signal was given and understood. A quarter of an hour later, the
Poughkeepsie began to shorten sail. Then Wallace stationed himself
in the cutter, in the centre of one of the passages, signalling the
ship to come on. Ten minutes later still, the noble craft came into
the haven, passing the still burning light, with her topsails just
lifting, and making a graceful sweep under very reduced sail, she
came to the wind, very near the spot where the Swash had lain only
ten hours before, and dropped an anchor.

1. In the palmy days of the service, when Robert Smith was so long
Secretary of the Navy, the ship's whisky went by this familiar


The gull has found her place on shore;
The sun gone down again to rest;
And all is still but ocean's roar;
There stands the man unbless'd.
But see, he moves--he turns, as asking where
His mates? Why looks he with that piteous stare?


Superstition would seem to be a consequence of a state of being, in
which so much is shadowed forth, while so little is accurately
known. Our far-reaching thoughts range over the vast fields of
created things, without penetrating to the secret cause of the
existence of even a blade of grass. We can analyze all substances
that are brought into our crucibles, tell their combinations and
tendencies, give a scientific history of their formation, so far as
it is connected with secondary facts, their properties, and their
uses; but in each and all, there is a latent natural cause, that
baffles all our inquiries, and tells us that we are merely men. This
is just as true in morals, as in physics--no man living being equal
to attaining the very faith that is necessary to his salvation,
without the special aid of the spirit of the godhead; and even with
that mighty support, trusting implicitly for all that is connected
with a future that we are taught to believe is eternal, to "the
substance of things _hoped_ for, and the evidence of things
_unseen_." In a word, this earthly probation of ours, was intended
for finite beings, in the sense of our present existence, leaving
far more to be conjectured, than is understood.

Ignorance and superstition ever bear a close, and even a
mathematical relation to each other. The degrees of the one, are
regulated by the degrees of the other. He who knows the least
believes the most; while he who has seen the most, without the
intelligence to comprehend that which he has seen, feels, perhaps,
the strongest inclination to refer those things which to him are
mysteries, to the supernatural and marvellous. Sailors have been,
from time immemorial, more disposed than men of their class on the
land, to indulge in this weakness, which is probably heightened by
the circumstance of their living constantly and vividly in the
presence of powers that menace equally their lives and their means,
without being in any manner subject to their control.

Spike, for a seaman of his degree of education, was not particularly
addicted to the weakness to which we have just alluded.
Nevertheless, he was not altogether free from it; and recent
circumstances contributed to dispose him so much the more to admit a
feeling which, like sin itself, is ever the most apt to insinuate
itself at moments of extraordinary moral imbecility, and through the
openings left by previous transgression. As his brig stood off from
the light, the captain paced the deck, greatly disturbed by what had
just passed, and unable to account for it. The boat of the
Poughkeepsie was entirely concealed by the islet, and there existing
no obvious motive for wishing to return, in order to come at the
truth, not a thought to that effect, for one moment, crossed the
mind of the smuggler. So far from this, indeed, were his wishes,
that the Molly did not seem to him to go half as fast as usual, in
his keen desire to get further and further from a spot where such
strange incidents had occurred.

As for the men forward, no argument was wanting to make _them_
believe that something supernatural had just passed before their
eyes. It was known to them all, that Mulford had been left on a
naked rock, some thirty miles from that spot; and it was not easy to
understand how he could now be at the Dry Tortugas, planted, as it
might be, on purpose to show himself to the brig, against the tower,
in the bright moonlight, "like a pictur' hung up for his old
shipmates to look at."

Sombre were the tales that were related that night among them, many
of which related to the sufferings of men abandoned on desert
islands; and all of which bordered, more or less, on the
supernatural. The crew connected the disappearance of the boat with
Mulford's apparition, though the logical inference would have been,
that the body which required planks to transport it, could scarcely
be classed with anything of the world of spirits. The links in
arguments, however, are seldom respected by the illiterate and
vulgar, who jump to their conclusions, in cases of the marvellous,
much as politicians find an expression of the common mind in the
prepared opinions of the few who speak for them, totally
disregarding the dissenting silence of the million. While the men
were first comparing their opinions on that which, to them, seemed
to be so extraordinary, the Señor Montefalderon joined the captain
in his walk, and dropped into a discourse touching the events which
had attended their departure from the haven of the Dry Tortugas. In
this conversation, Don Juan most admirably preserved his
countenance, as well as his self-command, effectually preventing the
suspicion of any knowledge on his part, that was not common to them

"You did leave the port with the salutes observed," the Mexican
commenced, with the slightest accent of a foreigner, or just enough
to show that he was not speaking in his mother tongue; "salutes paid
and returned."

"Do you call that saluting, Don Wan? To me, that infernal shot
sounded more like an echo, than anything else."

"And to what do _you_ ascribe it, Don Esteban?"

"I wish I could answer that question. Sometimes I begin to wish I
had not left my mate on that naked rock."

"There is still time to repair the last wrong; we shall go within a
few miles of the place where the Señor Enrique was left; and I can
take the yawl, with two men, and go in search of him, while you are
at work on the wreck."

"Do you believe it possible that he can be still there?" demanded
Spike, looking suddenly and intently at his companion, while his
mind was strangely agitated between hatred and dread. "If he is
there, who and what was _he_ that we all saw so plainly at the foot
of the light-house?"

"How should he have left the rock? He was without food or water; and
no man, in all his vigour, could swim this distance. I see no means
of his getting here."

"Unless some wrecker, or turtler, fell in with him, and took him
off. Ay, ay, Don Wan; I left him that much of a chance, at least. No
man can say I _murdered_ my mate."

"I am not aware, Don Esteban, that any one _has_ said so hard a
thing of you. Still, we have seen neither wrecker nor turtler since
we have been here; and that lessens the excellent chance you left
Don Enrique."

"There is no occasion, señor, to be so particular," growled Spike, a
little sullenly, in reply. "The chance, I say, was a _good_ one,
when you consider how many of them devils of wreckers hang about
these reefs. Let this brig only get fast on a rock, and they would
turn up, like sharks, all around us, each with his maw open for
salvage. But this is neither here nor there; what puzzles me, was
what we saw at the light, half an hour since, and the musket that
was fired back at us! I _know_ that the figure at the foot of the
tower did not fire, for my eye was on him from first to last; and he
had no arms. You were on the island a good bit, and must have known
if the light-house keeper was there or not, Don Wan?"

"The light-house keeper _was_ there, Don Esteban--but he was in his

"Ay, ay, one, I know, was drowned, and buried with the rest of them;
there might, however, have been more than one. You saw none of the
people that had gone to Key West, in or about the house, Don Wan?"

"None. If any persons have left the Tortugas to go to Key West,
within a few days, not one of them has yet returned."

"So I supposed. No, it can be none of _them_. Then I saw his face as
plainly as ever I saw it by moon-light, from aft, for'ard. What is
your opinion about seeing the dead walk on the 'arth, Don Wan?"

"That I have never seen any such thing myself, Don Esteban, and
consequently know nothing about it."

"So I supposed; I find it hard to believe it, I do. It may be a
warning to keep us from-coming any more to the Dry Tortugas; and I
must say I have little heart for returning to this place, after all
that has fell out here. We can go to the wreck, fish up the
doubloons, and be off for Yucatan. Once in one of your ports, I make
no question that the merits of the Molly will make themselves
understood, and that we shall soon agree on a price."

"What use could we put the brig to, Don Esteban, if we had her all
ready for sea?"

"That is a strange question to ask in time of war! Give _me_ such a
craft as the Molly, with sixty or eighty men on board her, in a war
like this, and her 'arnin's should not fall short of half a million
within a twelvemonth."

"Could we engage you to take charge of her, Don Esteban?"

"That would be ticklish work, Don Wan. But we can see. No one knows
what he will do until he is tried. In for a penny, in for a pound. A
fellow never knows! Ha! ha! ha! Don Wan, we live in a strange
world--yes, in a strange world."

"We live in strange _times,_ Don Esteban, as the situation of my
poor country proves. But let us talk this matter over a little more
in confidence."

And they did thus discuss the subject. It was a singular spectacle
to see an honourable man, one full of zeal of the purest nature in
behalf of his own country, sounding a traitor as to the terms on
which he might be induced to do all the harm he could, to those who
claimed his allegiance. Such sights, however, are often seen; our
own especial objects too frequently blinding us to the obligations
that we owe morality, so far as not to be instrumental in effecting
even what we conceive to be good, by questionable agencies. But the
Señor Montefalderon kept in view, principally, his desire to be
useful to Mexico, blended a little too strongly, perhaps, with the
wishes of a man who was born near the sun, to avenge his wrongs,
real or fancied.

While this dialogue was going on between Spike and his passenger, as
they paced the quarter-deck, one quite as characteristic occurred in
the galley, within twenty feet of them--Simon, the cook, and Josh,
the steward, being the interlocutors. As they talked secrets, they
conferred together with closed doors, though few were ever disposed
to encounter the smoke, grease, and fumes of their narrow domains,
unless called thither by hunger.

"What _you_ t'ink of dis matter Josh?" demanded Simon, whose skull
having the well-known density of his race, did not let internal
ideas out, or external ideas in as readily as most men's. "Our young
mate _was_ at de light-house beyond all controwersy; and how can he
be den on dat rock over yonder, too?"

"Dat is imposserbul," answered Josh; "derefore I says it is n't
true. I surposes you know dat what is imposserbul is n't true,
Simon. Nobody can't be out yonder and down here at de same time. Dat
is imposserble, Simon. But what I wants to intermate to you, will
explain all dis difficulty; and it do show de raal super'ority of a
coloured man over de white poperlation. Now, you mark my words,
cook, and be full of admiration! Jack Tier came back along wid de
Mexican gentle'em, in my anchor-watch, dis very night! You see, in
de first place, ebbery t'ing come to pass in nigger's watch."

Here the two dark-skinned worthies haw-haw'd to their heart's
content; laughing very much as a magistrate or a minister of the
gospel might be fancied to laugh, the first time he saw a clown at a
circus. The merriment of a negro will have its course, in spite of
ghosts, or of anything else; and neither the cook nor the steward
dreamed of puting in another syllable, until their laugh was fairly
and duly ended. Then the cook made his remarks.

"How Jack Tier comin' back explain der differculty, Josh?" asked

"Did n't Jack go away wid Miss Rose and de mate, in de boat dat got
adrift, you know, in Jack's watch on deck?"

Here the negroes laughed again, their imaginations happening to
picture to each, at the same instant, the mystification about the
boat; Biddy having told Josh in confidence, the manner in which the
party had returned to the brig, while he and Simon were asleep;
which fact the steward had already communicated to the cook. To
these two beings, of an order in nature different from all around
them, and of a simplicity and of habits that scarce placed them on a
level with the intelligence of the humblest white man, all these
circumstances had a sort of mysterious connection, out of which
peeped much the most conspicuously to their faculties, the absurdity
of the captain's imagining that a boat had got adrift, which had, in
truth, been taken away by human hands. Accordingly, they laughed it
out; and when they had done laughing, they returned again to the
matter before them with renewed interest in the subject.

"Well, how all dat explain dis differculty?" repeated Simon.

"In dis wery manner, cook," returned the steward, with a little
dignity in his manner. "Ebbery t'ing depend on understandin', I
s'pose you know. If Mr. Mulford got taken off dat rock by Miss Rose
and Jack Tier, wid de boat, and den dey comes here altogedder; and
den Jack Tier, he get on board and tell Biddy all dis matter, and
den Biddy tell Josh, and den Josh tell de cook--what for you
surprise, you black debbil, one bit?"

"Dat all!" exclaimed Simon.

"Dat just all--dat ebbery bit of it, do n't I say."

Here Simon burst into such a fit of loud laughter, that it induced
Spike himself to shove aside the galley-door, and thrust his own
frowning visage into the dark hole within, to inquire the cause.

"What's the meaning of this uproar?" demanded the captain, all the
more excited because he felt that things had reached a pass that
would not permit him to laugh himself. "Do you fancy yourself on the
Hook, or at the Five Points?"

The Hook and the Five Points are two pieces of tabooed territory
within the limits of the good town of Manhattan, that are getting to
be renowned for their rascality and orgies. They probably want
nothing but the proclamation of a governor in vindication of their
principles, annexed to a pardon of some of their unfortunate
children, to render both classical. If we continue to make much
further progress in political logic, and in the same direction as
that in which we have already proceeded so far, neither will
probably long be in want of this illustration. Votes can be given by
the virtuous citizens of both these purlieus, as well as by the
virtuous citizens of the anti-rent districts, and votes contain the
essence of all such principles, as well as of their glorification.

"Do you fancy yourselves on the Hook, or at the Five Points?"
demanded Spike, angrily.

"Lor', no sir!" answered Simon, laughing at each pause with all his
heart. "Only laughs a little at _ghost_--dat all, sir."

"Laugh at ghost! Is that a subject to laugh at? Have a care, you
black rascal, or he will visit you in your galley here, when you
will least want to see him."

"No care much for _him,_ sir," returned Simon, laughing away as hard
as ever. "_Sich_ a ghost ought n't to skear little baby."

"_Such_ a ghost? And what do you know of _this_ ghost more than any

"Well, I seed him, Cap'in Spike; and what a body sees, he is
acquainted wid."

"You saw an image that looked as much like Mr. Mulford, my late
mate, as one timber-head in this brig is like another."

"Yes, sir, he like enough--must say _dat_--so wery like, could n't
see any difference."

As Simon concluded this remark, he burst out into another fit of
laughter, in which Josh joined him, heart and soul, as it might be.
The uninitiated reader is not to imagine the laughter of those
blacks to be very noisy, or to be raised on a sharp, high key. They
_could_ make the welkin ring, in sudden bursts of merriment, on
occasion; but, at a time like this, they rather caused their
diversion to be developed by sounds that came from the depths of
their chests. A gleam of suspicion that these blacks were acquainted
with some fact that it might be well for him to know, shot across
the mind of Spike; but he was turned from further inquiry by a
remark of Don Juan, who intimated that the mirth of such persons
never had much meaning to it, expressing at the same time a desire
to pursue the more important subject in which they were engaged.
Admonishing the blacks to be more guarded in their manifestations of
merriment, the captain closed the door on them, and resumed his walk
up and down the quarter-deck. As soon as left to themselves, the
blacks broke out afresh, though in a way so guarded, as to confine
their mirth to the galley.

"Cap'in Spike t'ink _dat_ a ghost!" exclaimed Simon, with contempt.

"Guess if he see _raal_ ghost, he find 'e difference," answered
Josh. "One look at raal sperit wort' two at dis object."

Simon's eyes now opened like two saucers, and they gleamed, by the
light of the lamp they had, like dark balls of condensed curiosity,
blended with awe, on his companion.

"You ebber see him, Josh?" he asked, glancing over each shoulder
hurriedly, as it might be, to make sure that he could not see "him,"

"How you t'ink I get so far down the wale of life, Simon, and nebber
see sich a t'ing? I seed t'ree of the crew of the `Maria
Sheffington,' that was drowned by deir boat's cap-sizin', when we
lay at Gibraltar, jest as plain as I see you now. Then--"

But it is unnecessary to repeat Josh's experiences in this way, with
which he continued to entertain and terrify Simon for the next
half-hour. This is just the difference between ignorance and
knowledge. While Spike himself, and every man in his brig who
belonged forward, had strong misgivings as to the earthly character
of the figure they had seen at the foot of the light-house, these
negroes laughed at their delusion, because they happened to be in
the secret of Mulford's escape from the rock, and of that of his
actual presence at the Tortugas. When, however, the same
superstitious feeling was brought to bear on circumstances that lay
_without_ the sphere of their exact information, they became just as
dependent and helpless as all around them; more so, indeed, inasmuch
as their previous habits and opinions disposed them to a more
profound credulity.

It was midnight before any of the crew of the Swash sought their
rest that night. The captain had to remind them that a day of
extraordinary toil was before them, ere he could get one even to
quit the deck; and when they did go below, it was to continue to
discuss the subject of what they had seen at the Dry Tortugas. It
appeared to be the prevalent opinion among the people, that the late
event foreboded evil to the Swash, and long as most of these men had
served in the brig, and much as they had become attached to her, had
she gone into port that night, nearly every man forward would have
run before morning. But fatigue and wonder, at length, produced
their effect, and the vessel was silent as was usual at that hour.
Spike himself lay down in his clothes, as he had done ever since
Mulford had left him; and the brig continued to toss the spray from
her bows, as she bore gallantly up against the trades, working her
way to windward. The light was found to be of great service, as it
indicated the position of the reef, though it gradually sunk in the
western horizon, until near morning it fell entirely below it.

At this hour Spike appeared on deck again, where, for the first time
since their interview on the morning of Harry's and Rose's escape,
he laid his eyes on Jack Tier. The little dumpling-looking fellow
was standing in the waist, with his arms folded sailor-fashion, as
composedly as if nothing had occurred to render his meeting with the
captain any way of a doubtful character. Spike approached near the
person of the steward, whom he surveyed from head to foot, with a
sort of contemptuous superiority, ere he spoke.

"So, Master Tier," at length the captain commenced, "you have
deigned to turn out at last, have you? I hope the day's duty you've
forgotten, will help to pay for the light-house boat, that I
understand you've lost for me, also."

"What signifies a great clumsy boat that the brig could n't hoist in
nor tow," answered Jack, coolly, turning short round at the same
time, but not condescending to "uncoil" his arms as he did so, a
mark of indifference that would probably have helped to mystify the
captain, had he even actually suspected that anything was wrong
beyond the supposed accident to the boat in question. "If you had
had the boat astarn, Captain Spike, an order would have been given
to cut it adrift the first time the brig made sail on the wind."

"Nobody knows, Jack; that boat would have been very useful to us
while at work about the wreck. You never even turned out this
morning to let me know where that craft lay, as you promised to do,
but left us to find it out by our wits."

"There was no occasion for my tellin' you anything about it, sir,
when the mast-heads was to be seen above water. As soon as I heard
that them 'ere mast-heads was out of water, I turned over and went
to sleep upon it. A man can't be on the doctor's list and on duty at
the same time."

Spike looked hard at the little steward, but he made no further
allusion to his being off duty, or to his failing to stand pilot to
the brig as she came through the passage in quest of the schooner's
remains. The fact was, that he had discovered the mast-heads
himself, just as he was on the point of ordering Jack to be called,
having allowed him to remain in his berth to the last moment after
his watch, according to a species of implied faith that is seldom
disregarded among seamen. Once busied on the wreck, Jack was
forgotten, having little to do in common with any one on board, but
that which the captain termed the "women's mess."

"Come aft, Jack," resumed Spike, after a considerable pause, during
the whole of which he had stood regarding the little steward as if
studying his person, and through that his character. "Come aft to
the trunk; I wish to catechise you a bit."

"Catechise!" repeated Tier, in an under tone, as he followed the
captain to the place mentioned. "It's a long time since I've done
anything at _that!_"

"Ay, come hither," resumed Spike, seating himself at his ease on the
trunk, while Jack stood near by, his arms still folded, and his
rotund little form as immovable, under the plunges that the lively
brig made into the head-seas that she was obliged to meet, as if a
timber-head in the vessel itself. "You keep your sea-legs well,
Jack, short as they are."

"No wonder for that, Captain Spike; for the last twenty years I've
scarce passed a twelvemonth ashore; and what I did before that, no
one can better tell than yourself, since we was ten good years

"So you say, Jack, though I do not remember _you_ as well as you
seem to remember _me_. Do you not make the time too long?"

"Not a day, sir. Ten good and happy years did we sail together,
Captain Spike; and all that time in this very--"

"Hush--h-u-s-h, man, hush! There is no need of telling the Molly's
age to everybody. I may wish to sell her some day, and then her
great experience will be no recommendation. You should recollect
that the Molly is a female, and the ladies do not like to hear of
their ages after five-and-twenty."

Jack made no answer, but he dropped his arms to their natural
position, seeming to wait the captain's communication, first
referring to his tobacco-box and taking a fresh quid.

"If you was with me in the brig, Jack, at the time you mention,"
continued Spike, after another long and thoughtful pause, "you must
remember many little things that I do n't wish to have known;
especially while Mrs. Budd and her handsome niece is aboard here."

"I understand you, Captain Spike. The ladies shall l'arn no more
from me than they know already."

"Thank 'e for that Jack--thank 'e with all my heart Shipmates of our
standing ought to be fast friends; and so you'll find me, if you'll
only sail under the true colours, my man."

At that moment Jack longed to let the captain know how strenuously
he had insisted that very night on rejoining his vessel; and this at
a time, too, when the brig was falling into disrepute. But this he
could not do, without betraying the secret of the lovers--so he
chose to say nothing.

"There is no use in blabbing all a man knows, and the galley is a
sad place for talking. Galley news is poor news, I suppose you know,

"I've hear'n say as much on board o' man-of-war. It's a great place
for the officers to meet and talk, and smoke, in Uncle Sam's crafts;
and what a body hears in such places, is pretty much newspaper
stuff, I do suppose."

"Ay, ay, that's it; not to be thought of half-an-hour after it has
been spoken. Here's a doubloon for you, Jack; and all for the sake
of old times. Now, tell me, my litle fellow, how do the ladies come
on? Does n't Miss Rose get over her mourning on account of the mate?
Ar' n't we to have the pleasure of seein' her on deck soon?"

"I can't answer for the minds and fancies of young women, Captain
Spike. They are difficult to understand; and I would rather not
meddle with what I can't understand."

"Poh, poh, man; you must get over that. You might be of great use to
me, Jack, in a very delicate affair--for you know how it is with
women; they must be handled as a man would handle this brig among
breakers; Rose, in partic'lar, is as skittish as a colt."

"Stephen Spike," said Jack, solemnly, but on so low a key that it
entirely changed his usually harsh and cracked voice to one that
sounded soft, if not absolutely pleasant, "do you never think of
hereafter? Your days are almost run; a very few years, in your
calling it may be a very few weeks, or a few hours, and time will be
done with you, and etarnity will commence.--Do you never think of a

Spike started to his feet, gazing at Jack intently; then he wiped
the perspiration from his face, and began to pace the deck rapidly,
muttering to himself--"this has been a most accursed night! First
the mate, and now _this!_ Blast me, but I thought it was a voice
from the grave! Graves! can't they keep those that belong to them,
or have rocks and waves no graves?"

What more passed through the mind of the captain must remain a
secret, for he kept it to himself; nor did he take any further
notice of his companion. Jack, finding that he was unobserved,
passed quietly below, and took the place in his berth, which he had
only temporarily abandoned.

Just as the day dawned, the Swash reached the vicinity of the wreck
again. Sail was shortened, and the brig stood in until near enough
for the purpose of her commander, when she was hove-to, so near the
mast-heads that, by lowering the yawl, a line was sent out to the
fore-mast, and the brig was hauled close alongside. The direction of
the reef at that point formed a lee; and the vessel lay in water
sufficiently smooth for her object.

This was done soon after the sun had risen, and Spike now ordered
all hands called, and began his operations in earnest. By sounding
carefully around the schooner when last here, he had ascertained her
situation to his entire satisfaction. She had settled on a shelf of
the reef, in such a position that her bows lay in a sort of cradle,
while her stern was several feet nearer to the surface than the
opposite extremity. This last fact was apparent, indeed, by the
masts themselves, the lower mast aft being several feet out of
water, while the fore-mast was entirely buried, leaving nothing but
the fore-topmast exposed. On these great premises Spike had laid the
foundation of the practical problem he intended to solve.

No expectation existed of ever getting the schooner afloat again.
All that Spike and the Señor Montefalderon now aimed at, was to
obtain the doubloons, which the former thought could be got at in
the following manner. He knew that it would be much easier handling
the wreck, so far as its gravity was concerned, while the hull
continued submerged. He also knew that one end could be raised with
a comparatively trifling effort, so long as the other rested on the
rock. Under these circumstances, therefore, he proposed merely to
get slings around the after body of the schooner, as near her
stern-post, indeed, as would be safe, and to raise that extremity of
the vessel to the surface, leaving most of the weight of the craft
to rest on the bows. The difference between the power necessary to
effect this much, and that which would be required to raise the
whole wreck, would be like the difference in power necessary to turn
over a log with one end resting on the ground, and turning the same
log by lifting it bodily in the arms, and turning it in the air.
With the stern once above water, it would be easy to come at the bag
of doubloons, which Jack Tier had placed in a locker above the

The first thing was to secure the brig properly, in order that she
might bear the necessary strain. This was done very much as has been
described already, in the account of the manner in which she was
secured and supported in order to raise the schooner at the Dry
Tortugas. An anchor was laid abreast and to windward, and purchases
were brought to the masts, as before. Then the bight of the chain
brought from the Tortugas, was brought under the schooner's keel,
and counter-purchases, leading from both the fore-mast and main-mast
of the brig, were brought to it, and set taut. Spike now carefully
examined all his fastenings, looking to his cables as well as his
mechanical power aloft, heaving in upon this, and veering out upon
that, in order to bring the Molly square to her work; after which he
ordered the people to knock-off for their dinners. By that time, it
was high noon.

While Stephen Spike was thus employed on the wreck, matters and
things were not neglected at the Tortugas. The Poughkeepsie had no
sooner anchored, than Wallace went on board and made his report.
Capt. Mull then sent for Mulford, with whom he had a long personal
conference. This officer was getting grey, and consequently he had
acquired experience. It was evident to Harry, at first, that he was
regarded as one who had been willingly engaged in an unlawful
pursuit, but who had abandoned it to push dearer interests in
another quarter. It was some time before the commander of the
sloop-of-war could divest himself of this opinion, though it
gradually gave way before the frankness of the mate's manner, and
the manliness, simplicity, and justice of his sentiments. Perhaps
Rose had some influence also in bringing about this favourable

Wallace did not fail to let it be known that turtle-soup was to be
had ashore; and many was the guest our heroine had to supply with
that agreeable compound, in the course of the morning. Jack Tier had
manifested so much skill in the preparation of the dish, that its
reputation soon extended to the cabin, and the captain was induced
to land, in order to ascertain how far rumour was or was not a liar,
on this interesting occasion. So ample was the custom, indeed, that
Wallace had the consideration to send one of the ward-room servants
to the light-house, in order to relieve Rose from a duty that was
getting to be a little irksome. She was "seeing company" as a bride,
in a novel and rather unpleasant manner; and it was in consequence
of a suggestion of the "ship's gentleman," that the remains of the
turtle were transferred to the vessel, and were put into the
coppers, _secundum artem,_ by the regular cooks.

It was after tickling his palate with a bowl of the soup, and
enjoying a half-hour's conversation with Rose, that Capt. Mull
summoned Harry to a final consultation on the subject of their
future proceedings. By this time the commander of the Poughkeepsie
was in a better humour with his new acquaintance, more disposed to
believe him, and infinitely more inclined to listen to his
suggestions and advice, than he had been in their previous
interviews. Wallace was present in his character of "ship's
gentleman," or, as having nothing to do, while his senior, the first
lieutenant, was working like a horse on board the vessel, in the
execution of his round of daily duties.

At this consultation, the parties came into a right understanding of
each other's views and characters. Capt. Mull was slow to yield his
confidence, but when he did bestow it, he bestowed it
sailor-fashion, or with all his heart. Satisfied at last that he had
to do with a young man of honour, and one who was true to the flag,
he consulted freely with our mate, asked his advice, and was greatly
influenced in the formation of his final decision by the opinions
that Harry modestly advanced, maintaining them, however, with solid
arguments, and reasons that every seaman could comprehend.

Mulford knew the plans of Spike by means of his own communications
with the Señor Montefalderon. Once acquainted with the projects of
his old commander, it was easy for him to calculate the time it
would require to put them in execution, with the means that were to
be found on board the Swash. "It will take the brig until near
morning," he said, "to beat up to the place where the wreck lies.
Spike will wait for light to commence operations, and several hours
will be necessary to moor the brig, and get out the anchors with
which he will think it necessary to stay his masts. Then he will
hook on, and he may partly raise the hull before night return. More
than this he can never do; and it would not surprise me were he
merely to get everything ready for heaving on his purchases
to-morrow, and suspend further proceedings until the next day, in
preference to having so heavy a strain on his spars all night. He
has not the force, however, to carry on such duty to a very late
hour; and you may count with perfect security, Captain Mull, on his
being found alongside of the wreck at sunrise the next day after
to-morrow, in all probability with his anchors down, and fast to the
wreck. By timing your own arrival well, nothing will be easier than
to get him fairly under your guns, and once under your guns, the
brig must give up. When you chased her out of this very port, a few
days since, you would have brought her up could you have kept her
within range of those terrible shells ten minutes longer."

"You would then advise my not sailing from this place immediately,"
said Mull.

"It will be quite time enough to get under way late in the
afternoon, and then under short canvas. Ten hours will be ample time
for this ship to beat up to that passage in, and it will be
imprudent to arrive too soon; nor do I suppose you will wish to be
playing round the reef in the dark."

To the justice of all this Capt. Mull assented; and the plan of
proceedings was deliberately and intelligently formed. As it was
necessary for Mulford to go in the ship, in order to act as pilot,
no one else on board knowing exactly where to find the wreck, the
commander of the Poughkeepsie had the civility to offer the young
couple the hospitalities of his own cabin, with one of his
state-rooms. This offer Harry gratefully accepted, it being
understood that the ship would land them at Key West, as soon as the
contemplated duty was executed. Rose felt so much anxiety about her
aunt, that any other arrangement would scarcely have pacified her

In consequence of these arrangements, the Poughkeepsie lay quietly
at her anchors until near sunset. In the interval her boats were out
in all directions, parties of the officers visiting the islet where
the powder had exploded, and the islet where the tent, erected for
the use of the females, was still standing. As for the light-house
island, an order of Capt. Mull's prevented it from being crowded in
a manner unpleasant to Rose, as might otherwise have been the case.
The few officers who did land there, however, appeared much struck
with the ingenuous simplicity and beauty of the bride, and a manly
interest in her welfare was created among them all, principally by
means of the representations of the second lieutenant and the
chaplain. About five o'clock she went off to the ship, accompanied
by Harry, and was hoisted on board in the manner usually practised
by vessels of war which have no accommodation-ladder rigged. Rose
was immediately installed in her state-room, where she found every
convenience necessary to a comfortable though small apartment.

It was quite late in the afternoon, when the boatswain and his mate
piped "all hands up anchor!" Harry hastened into the state-room for
his charming bride, anxious to show her the movements of a vessel of
war on such an occasion. Much as she had seen of the ocean, and of a
vessel, within the last few weeks, Rose now found that she had yet a
great deal to learn, and that a ship of war had many points to
distinguish her from a vessel engaged in commerce.

The Poughkeepsie was only a sloop-of-war, or a corvette, in
construction, number of her guns, and rate; but she was a ship of
the dimensions of an old-fashioned frigate, measuring about one
thousand tons. The frigates of which we read half a century since,
were seldom ever as large as this, though they were differently
built in having a regular gun-deck, or one armed deck that was
entirely covered, with another above it; and on the quarter-deck and
forecastle of the last of which were also batteries of lighter guns.
To the contrary of all this, the Poughkeepsie had but one armed
deck, and on that only twenty guns. These pieces, however, were of
unusually heavy calibre, throwing thirty-two pound shot, with the
exception of the Paixhans, or Columbiads, which throw shot of even
twice that weight. The vessel had a crew of two hundred souls, all
told; and she had the spars, anchors, and other equipments of a
light frigate.

In another great particular did the Poughkeepsie differ from the
corvette-built vessels that were so much in favour at the beginning
of the century; a species of craft obtained from the French, who
have taught the world so much in connection with naval science, and
who, after building some of the best vessels that ever floated, have
failed in knowing how to handle them, though not always in that. The
Poughkeepsie, while she had no spar, or upper deck, properly
speaking, had a poop and a topgallant-forecastle. Within the last
were the cabins and other accommodations of the captain; an
arrangement that was necessary for a craft of her construction, that
carried so many officers, and so large a crew. Without it,
sufficient space would not be had for the uses of the last. One gun
of a side was in the main cabin, there being a very neat and amply
spacious after-cabin between the state-rooms, as is ordinarily the
case in all vessels from the size of frigates up to that of
three-deckers. It may be well to explain here, while on this subject
of construction, that in naval parlance, a ship is called a
single-decked vessel; a _two-_decker, or a _three-_ decker, not from
the number of decks she actually possesses, but from the number of
_gun-_decks that she has, or of those that are _fully_ armed. Thus a
frigate has four decks, the spar, gun, berth, and orlop (or haul-up)
decks; but she is called a "single-decked ship," from the
circumstance that only one of these four decks has a complete range
of batteries. The two-decker has two of these fully armed decks, and
the three-deckers three; though, in fact, the two-decker has five,
and the three-decker six decks. Asking pardon for this little
digression, which we trust will be found useful to a portion of our
readers, we return to the narrative.

Harry conducted Rose to the poop of the Poughkeepsie, where she
might enjoy the best view of the operation of getting so large a
craft under way, man-of-war fashion. The details were mysteries, of
course, and Rose knew no more of the process by which the chain was
brought to the capstan, by the intervention of what is called a
messenger, than if she had not been present. She saw two hundred men
distributed about the vessel, some at the capstan, some on the
forecastle, some in the tops, and others in the waist, and she heard
the order to "heave round." Then the shrill fife commenced the
lively air of "the girl I left behind me," rather more from a habit
in the fifer, than from any great regrets for the girls left at the
Dry Tortugas, as was betrayed to Mulford by the smiles of the
officers, and the glances they cast at Rose. As for the latter, she
knew nothing of the air, and was quite unconscious of the sort of
parody that the gentlemen of the quarter-deck fancied it conveyed on
her own situation.

Rose was principally struck with the quiet that prevailed in the
ship, Captain Mull being a silent man himself, and insisting on
having a quiet vessel. The first lieutenant was not a noisy officer,
and from these two, everybody else on board received their cues. A
simple "all ready, sir," uttered by the first to the captain, in a
common tone of voice, answered by a "very well, sir, get your
anchor," in the same tone, set everything in motion. "Stamp and go,"
soon followed, and taking the whole scene together, Rose felt a
strange excitement come over her. There were the shrill, animating
music of the fife; the stamping time of the men at the bars; the
perceptible motion of the ship, as she drew ahead to her anchor, and
now and then the call between Wallace, who stood between the
knight-heads, as commander-in-chief on the forecastle, (the second
lieutenant's station when the captain does not take the trumpet, as
very rarely happens,) and the "executive officer" aft, was "carrying
on duty," all conspiring to produce this effect. At length, and it
was but a minute or two from the time when the "stamp and go"
commenced, Wallace called out "a short stay-peak, sir." "Heave and
pull," followed, and the men left their bars.

The process of making sail succeeded. There was no "letting fall" a
fore-topsail here, as on board a merchant-man, but all the canvas
dropped from the yards, into festoons, at the same instant. Then the
three topsails were sheeted home and hoisted, all at once, and all
in a single minute of time; the yards were counter-braced, and the
capstan-bars were again manned. In two more minutes it was "heave
and she's up and down." Then "heave and in sight," and "heave and
pull again." The cat-fall was ready, and it was "hook on," when the
fife seemed to turn its attention to another subject as the men
catted the anchor. Literally, all this was done in less time than we
have taken to write it down in, and in very little more time than
the reader has wasted in perusing what we have here written.

The Poughkeepsie was now "free of bottom," as it is called, with her
anchor catted and fished, and her position maintained in the basin
where she lay, by the counter-bracing of her yards, and the
counteracting force of the wind on her sails. It only remained to
"fill away," by bracing her head-yards sharp up, when the vast mass
overcame its inertia, and began to move through the water. As this
was done, the jib and spanker were set. The two most beautiful
things with which we are acquainted, are a graceful and high-bred
woman entering or quitting a drawing-room, more particularly the
last, and a man-of-war leaving her anchorage in a moderate breeze,
and when not hurried for time. On the present occasion, Captain Mull
was in no haste, and the ship passed out to windward of the light,
as the Swash had done the previous night, under her three topsails,
spanker and jib, with the light sails loose and flowing, and the
courses hanging in the brails.

A great deal is said concerning the defective construction of the
light cruisers of the navy, of late years, and complaints are made
that they will not sail, as American cruisers ought to sail, and
were wont to sail in old times. That there has been some ground for
these complaints, we believe; though the evil has been greatly
exaggerated, and some explanation may be given, we think, even in
the cases in which the strictures are not altogether without
justification. The trim of a light, sharp vessel is easily deranged;
and officers, in their desire to command as much as possible, often
get their vessels of this class too deep. They are, generally, for
the sort of cruiser, over-sparred, over-manned, and
over-provisioned; consequently, too deep. We recollect a case in
which one of these delicate craft, a half-rigged brig, was much
abused for "having lost her sailing." She did, indeed, lose her
fore-yard, and, after that, she sailed like a witch, until she got a
new one! If the facts were inquired into, in the spirit which ought
to govern such inquiries, it would be found that even most of the
much-abused "ten sloops" proved to be better vessels than common.
The St. Louis, the Vincennes, the Concord, the Fairfield, the
Boston, and the Falmouth, are instances of what we mean. In behalf
of the Warren, and the Lexington, we believe no discreet man was
ever heard to utter one syllable, except as wholesome crafts. But
the Poughkeepsie was a very different sort of vessel from any of the
"ten sloops." She was every way a good ship, and, as Jack expressed
it, was "a good goer." The most severe nautical critic could
scarcely have found a fault in her, as she passed out between the
islets, on the evening of the day mentioned, in the sort of undress
we have described. The whole scene, indeed, was impressive, and of
singular maritime characteristics.

The little islets scattered about, low, sandy, and untenanted, were
the only land in sight--all else was the boundless waste of waters.
The solitary light rose like an aquatic monument, as if purposely to
give its character to the view. Captain Mull had caused its lamps to
be trimmed and lighted for the very reason that had induced Spike to
do the same thing, and the dim star they presented was just
struggling into existence, as it might be, as the briliance left by
the setting sun was gradually diminished, and finally disappeared.
As for the ship, the hull appeared dark, glossy, and graceful, as is
usual with a vessel of war. Her sails were in soft contrast to the
colour of the hull, and they offered the variety and divergence from
straight lines which are thought necessary to perfect beauty. Those
that were set, presented the symmetry in their trim, the flatness in
their hoist, and the breadth that distinguish a man-of-war; while
those that were loose, floated in the air in every wave and
cloud-like swell, that we so often see in light canvas that is
released from the yards in a fresh breeze. The ship had an undress
look from this circumstance, but it was such an undress as denotes
the man or woman of the world. This undress appearance was increased
by the piping down of the hammocks, which left the nettings loose,
and with a negligent but still knowing look about them.

When half a mile from the islets, the main-yard was braced aback,
and the maintopsail was laid to the mast. As soon as the ship had
lost her way, two or three boats that had been towing astern, each
with its boat-sitter, or keeper, in it, were hauled up alongside, or
to the quarters, were "hooked on," and "run up" to the whistling of
the call. All was done at once, and all was done in a couple of
minutes. As soon as effected, the maintopsail was again filled, and
away the ship glided.

Captain Mull was not in the habit of holding many consultations with
his officers. If there be wisdom in a "multitude of counsellors," he
was of opinion it was not on board a man-of-war. Napoleon is
reported to have said that _one_ bad general was better than _two_
good ones; meaning that one head to an army, though of inferior
quality, is better than a hydra of Solomons, or Cæsars. Captain Mull
was much of the same way of thinking, seldom troubling his
subordinates with anything but orders. He interfered very little
with "working Willy," though he saw effectually that he did his
duty. "The ship's gentleman" might enjoy his joke as much as he
pleased, so long as he chose his time and place with discretion, but
in the captain's presence joking was not tolerated, unless it were
after dinner, at his own table, and in his own cabin. Even there it
was not precisely such joking as took place daily, not to say
hourly, in the midshipmen's messes.

In making up his mind as to the mode of proceeding on the present
occasion, therefore, Captain Mull, while he had heard all that
Mulford had to tell him, and had even encouraged Wallace to give his
opinions, made up his decision for himself. After learning all that
Harry had to communicate, he made his own calculations as to time
and distance, and quietly determined to carry whole sail on the ship
for the next four hours. This he did as the wisest course of making
sure of getting to windward while he could, and knowing that the
vessel could be brought under short canvas at any moment when it
might be deemed necessary. The light was a beacon to let him know
his distance with almost mathematical precision. It could be seen so
many miles at sea, each mile being estimated by so many feet of
elevation, and having taken that elevation, he was sure of his
distance from the glittering object, so long as it could be seen
from his own poop. It was also of use by letting him know the range
of the reef, though Captain Mull, unlike Spike, had determined to
make one leg off to the northward and eastward until he had brought
the light nearly to the horizon, and then to make another to the
southward and eastward, believing that the last stretch would bring
him to the reef, almost as far to windward as he desired to be. In
furtherance of this plan, the sheets of the different sails were
drawn home, as soon as the boats were in, and the Poughkeepsie,
bending a little to the breeze, gallantly dashed the waves aside, as
she went through and over them, at a rate of not less than ten good
knots in the hour. As soon as all these arrangements were made, the
watch went below, and from that time throughout the night, the ship
offered nothing but the quiet manner in which ordinary duty is
carried on in a well-regulated vessel of war at sea, between the
hours of sun and sun. Leaving the good craft to pursue her way with
speed and certainty, we must now return to the Swash.

Captain Spike had found the mooring of his brig a much more
difficult task, on this occasion, than on that of his former attempt
to raise the schooner. Then he had to lift the wreck bodily, and he
knew that laying the Swash a few feet further ahead or astern, could
be of no great moment, inasmuch as the moment the schooner was off
the bottom, she would swing in perpendicularly to the purchases. But
now one end of the schooner, her bows, was to remain fast, and it
became of importance to be certain that the purchases were so placed
as to bring the least strain on the masts while they acted most
directly on the after body of the vessel to be lifted. This point
gave Spike more trouble than he had anticipated. Fully one half of
the remainder of the day, even after he had begun to heave upon his
purchases, was spent in rectifying mistakes in connection with this
matter, and in getting up additional securities to his masts.

In one respect Spike had, from the first, made a good disposition.
The masts of the brig raked materially, and by bringing the head of
the Swash in the direction of the schooner, he converted this fact,
which might otherwise have been of great disadvantage, into a
circumstance that was favourable. In consequence of the brig's
having been thus moored, the strain, which necessarily led forward,
came nearly in a line with the masts, and the latter were much
better able to support it. Notwithstanding this advantage, however,
it was found expedient to get up preventer-stays, and to give the
spars all the additional support could be conveniently bestowed.
Hours were passed in making these preliminary, or it might be better
to say, secondary arrangements.

It was past five in the afternoon when the people of the Swash began
to heave on their purchases as finally disposed. After much
creaking, and the settling of straps and lashings into their places,
it was found that everything stood, and the work went on. In ten
minutes Spike found he had the weight of the schooner, so far as he
should be obliged to sustain it at all, until the stern rose above
the surface; and he felt reasonably secure of the doubloons. Further
than this he did not intend to make any experiment on her, the Señor
Montefalderon having abandoned all idea of recovering the vessel
itself, now so much of the cargo was lost. The powder was mostly
consumed, and that which remained in the hull must, by this time, be
injured by dampness, if not ruined. So reasoned Don Juan at least.

As the utmost care was necessary, the capstan and wind-lass were
made to do their several duties with great caution. As inch by inch
was gained, the extra supports of the masts were examined, and it
was found that a much heavier strain now came on the masts than when
the schooner was raised before. This was altogether owing to the
direction in which it came, and to the fact that the anchor planted
off abeam was not of as much use as on the former occasion, in
consequence of its not lying so much in a straight line with the
direction of the purchases. Spike began to have misgivings on
account of his masts, and this so much the more because the wind
appeared to haul a little further to the northward, and the weather
to look unsettled. Should a swell roll into the bight of the reef
where the brig lay, by raising the hull a little too rudely, there
would be the imminent danger of at least springing, if not of
absolutely carrying away both the principal spars. It was therefore
necessary to resort to extraordinary precautions, in order to
obviate this danger.

The captain was indebted to his boatswain, who was now in fact
acting as his mate, for the suggestion of the plan next adopted. Two
of the largest spare spars of the brig were got out, with their
heads securely lashed to the links of the chain by which the wreck
was suspended, one on each side of the schooner. Pig-iron and shot
were lashed to the heels of these spars, which carried them to the
bottom. As the spars were of a greater length than was necessary to
reach the rock, they necessarily lay at an inclination, which was
lessened every inch the after body of the wreck was raised, thus
forming props to the hull of the schooner.

Spike was delighted with the success of this scheme, of which he was
assured by a single experiment in heaving. After getting the spars
well planted at their heels, he even ordered the men to slacken the
purchases a little, and found that he could actually relieve the
brig from the strain, by causing the wreck to be supported
altogether by these shores. This was a vast relief from the cares of
the approaching night, and indeed alone prevented the necessity of
the work's going on without interruption, or rest, until the end was

The people of the Swash were just assured of the comfortable fact
related, as the Poughkeepsie was passing out from among the islets
of the Dry Tortugas. They imagined themselves happy in having thus
made a sufficient provision against the most formidable of all the
dangers that beset them, at the very moment when the best laid plan
for their destruction was on the point of being executed. In this
respect, they resembled millions of others of their fellows, who
hang suspended over the vast abyss of eternity, totally unconscious
of the irretrievable character of the fall that is so soon to occur.
Spike, as has been just stated, was highly pleased with his own
expedient, and he pointed it out with exultation to the Señor
Montefalderon, as soon as it was completed.

"A nicer fit was never made by a Lunnun leg-maker, Don Wan," the
captain cried, after going over the explanations connected with the
shores--"there she stands, at an angle of fifty, with two as good
limbs under her as a body could wish. I could now cast off
everything, and leave the wreck in what they call `_statu quo,_'
which, I suppose, means on its pins, like a statue. The tafferel is
not six inches below the surface of the water, and half an hour of
heaving will bring the starn in sight."

"Your work seems ingeniously contrived to get up one extremity of
the vessel, Don Esteban," returned the Mexican; "but are you quite
certain that the doubloons are in her?"

This question was put because the functionary of a government in
which money was very apt to stick in passing from hand to hand was
naturally suspicious, and he found it difficult to believe that
Mulford, Jack Tier, and even Biddy, under all the circumstances, had
not paid special attention to their own interests.

"The bag was placed in one of the transom-lockers before the
schooner capsized," returned the captain, "as Jack Tier informs me;
if so, it remains there still. Even the sharks will not touch gold,
Don Wan."

"Would it not be well to call Jack, and hear his account of the
matter once more, now we appear to be so near the Eldorado of our

Spike assented, and Jack was summoned to the quarter-deck. The
little fellow had scarce showed himself throughout the day, and he
now made his appearance with a slow step, and reluctantly.

"You've made no mistake about them 'ere doubloons, I take it, Master
Tier?" said Spike, in a very nautical sort of style of addressing an
inferior. "You _know_ them to be in one of the transom-lockers?"

Jack mounted on the breech of one of the guns, and looked over the
bulwarks at the dispositions that had been made about the wreck. The
tafferel of the schooner actually came in sight, when a little swell
passed over it, leaving it for an instant in the trough. The steward
thus caught a glimpse again of the craft on board which he had seen
so much hazard, and he shook his head and seemed to be thinking of
anything but the question which had just been put to him.

"Well, about that gold?" asked Spike, impatiently.

"The sight of that craft has brought other thoughts than gold into
my mind, Captain Spike," answered Jack, gravely, "and it would be
well for all us mariners, if we thought less of gold and more of the
dangers we run. For hours and hours did I stand over etarnity, on
the bottom of that schooner, Don Wan, holdin' my life, as it might
be, at the marcy of a few bubbles of air."

"What has all that to do with the gold? Have you deceived me about
that locker, little rascal?"

"No, sir, I've _not_ deceived you--no, Captain Spike, _no_. The bag
is in the upper transom-locker, on the starboard side. There I put
it with my own hands, and a good lift it was; and there you'll find
it, if you'll cut through the quarter-deck at the spot I can p'int
out to you."

This information seemed to give a renewed energy to all the native
cupidity of the captain, who called the men from their suppers, and
ordered them to commence heaving anew. The word was passed to the
crew that "it was now for doubloons," and they went to the bars and
handspikes, notwithstanding the sun had set, cheerfully and

All Spike's expedients admirably answered the intended purposes. The
stern of the schooner rose gradually, and at each lift the heels of
the shores dropped in more perpendicularly, carried by the weights
attached to them, and the spars stood as firm props to secure all
that was gained. In a quarter of an hour, most of that part of the
stern which was within five or six feet of the tafferel, rose above
the water, coming fairly in view.

Spike now shouted to the men to "pall!" then he directed the falls
to be very gradually eased off, in order to ascertain if the shores
would still do their duty. The experiment was successful, and
presently the wreck stood in its upright position, sustained
entirely by the two spars. As the last were now nearly
perpendicular, they were capable of bearing a very heavy weight, and
Spike was so anxious to relieve his own brig from the strain she had
been enduring, that he ordered the lashings of the blocks to be
loosened, trusting to his shores to do their duty. Against this
confidence the boatswain ventured a remonstrance, but the gold was
too near to allow the captain to listen or reply. The carpenter was
ordered over on the wreck with his tools, while Spike, the Señor
Montefalderon, and two men to row the boat and keep it steady, went
in the yawl to watch the progress of the work. Jack Tier was ordered
to stand in the chains, and to point out, as nearly as possible, the
place where the carpenter was to cut.

When all was ready, Spike gave the word, and the chips began to fly.
By the use of the saw and the axe, a hole large enough to admit two
or three men at a time, was soon made in the deck, and the sounding
for the much-coveted locker commenced. By this time, it was quite
dark; and a lantern was passed down from the brig, in order to
enable those who searched for the locker to see. Spike had breasted
the yawl close up to the hole, where it was held by the men, while
the captain himself passed the lantern and his own head into the
opening to reconnoitre.

"Ay, it's all right!" cried the voice of the captain from within his
cell-like cavity. "I can just see the lid of the locker that Jack
means, and we shall soon have what we are a'ter. Carpenter, you may
as well slip off your clothes at once, and go inside; I will point
out to you the place where to find the locker. You're certain, Jack,
it was the starboard locker?"

"Ay, ay, sir, the starboard locker, and no other."

The carpenter had soon got into the hole, as naked as when he was
born. It was a gloomy-looking place for a man to descend into at
that hour, the light from the lantern being no great matter, and
half the time it was shaded by the manner in which Spike was
compelled to hold it.

"Take care and get a good footing, carpenter," said the captain, in
a kinder tone than common, "before you let go with your hands; but I
suppose you can swim, as a matter of course?"

"No, sir, not a stroke--I never could make out in the water at all."

"Have the more 'care, then. Had I known as much, I would have sent
another hand down; but mind your footing. More to the left,
man--more to the left. That is the lid of the locker--your hand is
on it; why do you not open it?"

"It is swelled by the water, sir, and will need a chisel, or some
tool of that sort. Just call out to one of the men, sir, if you
please, to pass me a chisel from my tool-chest. A good stout one
will be best."

This order was given, and, during the delay it caused, Spike
encouraged the carpenter to be cool, and above all to mind his
footing. His own eagerness to get at the gold was so great that he
kept his head in at the hole, completely cutting off the man within
from all communication with the outer world.

"What's the matter with you?" demanded Spike, a little sternly. "You
shiver, and yet the water cannot be cold in this latitude. No, my
hand makes it just the right warmth to be pleasant."

"It's not the water, Captain Spike--I wish they would come with the
chisel. Did you hear nothing, sir? I'm certain I did!"

"Hear!--what is there here to be heard, unless there may be some
fish inside, thrashing about to get out of the vessel's hold?"

"I am sure I heard something like a groan, Captain Spike. I wish you
would let me come out, sir, and I'll go for the chisel myself; them
men will never find it."

"Stay where you are, coward! are you afraid of dead men standing
against walls? Stay where you are. Ah! here is the chisel--now let
us see what you can do with it."

"I am certain I heard another groan, Captain Spike. I cannot work,
sir. I'm of no use here--_do_ let me come out, sir, and send a hand
down that can swim."

Spike uttered a terrible malediction on the miserable carpenter, one
we do not care to repeat; then he cast the light of the lantern full
in the man's face. The quivering flesh, the pallid face, and the
whole countenance wrought up almost to a frenzy of terror,
astonished, as well as alarmed him.

"What ails you, man?" said the captain in a voice of thunder. "Clap
in the chisel, or I'll hurl you off into the water. There is nothing
here, dead or alive, to harm ye!"

"The groan, sir--I hear it again! _Do_ let me come out, Captain

Spike himself, this time, heard what even _he_ took for a groan. It
came from the depths of the vessel, apparently, and was sufficiently
distinct and audible. Astonished, yet appalled, he thrust his
shoulders into the aperture, as if to dare the demon that tormented
him, and was met by the carpenter endeavouring to escape. In the
struggle that ensued, the lantern was dropped into the water,
leaving the half-frenzied combatants contending in the dark. The
groan was renewed, when the truth flashed on the minds of both.

"The shores! the shores!" exclaimed the carpenter from within. "The
shores!" repeated Spike, throwing himself back into the boat, and
shouting to his men to "see all clear of the wreck!" The grating of
one of the shores on the coral beneath was now heard plainer than

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