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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesAfloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 15
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Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 15 Post by :Infobiz Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :2880

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Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 15


_1st Lord_.--"Throca movonsas, cargo, cargo, cargo."
_All_.--"Cargo, cargo, villianda par corbo, cargo."
_Par_.--"O! ransome, ransome:--Do not hide mine eyes"
_1st Sold_.--"Boskos Thromuldo boskos."
_Par_.--"I know you are the Muskos' regiment,
And I shall lose my life for want of language.--"
_All's Well That Ends Well._

The Crisis was tacked, as soon as the body of Smudge was cut down, and she moved slowly, her crew maintaining a melancholy silence, out of the little haven. I never witnessed stronger evidence of sadness in the evolutions of a vessel; the slow and stately departure resembling that of mourners leaving the grave on which they had just heard the fall of the clod. Marble told me afterwards, he had been disposed to anchor, and remain until the body of poor Captain Williams should rise, as it probably would within the next forty-eight hours; but the dread of a necessity of sacrificing more of the natives, induced him to quit the fatal spot, without paying the last duties to our worthy old commander. I always regretted we did not remain, for I think no Indian would have come near us, had we continued in the harbour a month.

It was high-noon when the ship once more issued into the broad bosom of the Pacific. The wind was at south-east, and as we drew off from the land, it came fresh and steady. About two, having an offing of ten or twelve miles, orders were issued to set all the larboard studding-sails, and we stood to the southward and westward under a press of canvass. Every one saw in this change, a determination to quit the coast; nor did we regret the measure, for our trade had been quite successful, down to the moment of the seizure, but could hardly be prosperous after what had passed. I had not been consulted in the affair at all, but the second-mate having the watch, I was now summoned to the cabin, and let into the secret of our future movements. I found Marble seated at the cabin table, with Captain Williams's writing-desk open before him, and sundry papers under examination.

"Take a seat, Mr. Wallingford," said the new master, with a dignity and manner suited to the occasion. "I have just been overhauling the old man's instructions from the owners, and find I have done right in leaving these hang-gallows rascals to themselves, and shaping our course to the next point of destination. As it is, the ship has done surprisingly well. There are $67,370 good Spaniards down in the run, and that for goods which I see are invoiced at just $26,240; and when you consider that no duties, port-charges, or commissions are to be deducted, but that the dollars under our feet are all our own, without any drawbacks, I call the operation a good one. Then that blundering through the Straits, though it must never be talked of in any other light than a bold push for a quick passage, did us a wonderful deal of good, shoving us ahead near a month in time. It has put us so much ahead of our calculations, indeed, that I would cruise for Frenchmen for five or six weeks, were there the least probability that one of the chaps was to the westward of the Horn. Such not being the fact, however, and there still being a very long road before us, I have thought it best to push for the next point of destination. Read that page of the owner's idees, Mr. Wallingford, and you will get their advice for just such a situation as that in which we find ourselves."

The passage pointed out by Captain Marble was somewhat parenthetical, and was simply intended to aid Captain Williams, in the event of his not being able to accomplish the other objects of his voyage. It had a place in the instructions, indeed, solely on account of a suggestion of Marble's himself, the project being one of those favourite schemes of the mate, that men sometimes maintain through thick or thin, until they get to be ruling thoughts. On Captain Williams it had not weighed a feather; his intention having been to proceed to the Sandwich Islands for sandalwood, which was the course then usually pursued by North-West traders, after quitting the coast. The parenthetical project, however, was to touch at the last island, procure a few divers, and proceed in quest of certain islands where it was supposed the pearl fishery would succeed. Our ship was altogether too large, and every way too expensive, to be risked in such an adventure, and so I told the ex-mate without any scruple. But this fishery was a "fixed idea," a quick road to wealth, in the new captain's mind, and finding it in the instructions, though simply as a contingent course, he was inclined to regard it as the great object of the voyage. Such it was in his eyes, and such it ought to be, as he imagined, in those of the owners.

Marble had excellent qualities in his way, but he was not fit to command a ship. No man could stow her better, fit her better, sail her better, take better care of her in heavy weather, or navigate her better; and yet he wanted the judgment necessary to manage the property that must be committed to his care, and he had no more ideas of commercial thrift, than if he had never been employed in any of the concerns of commerce. This was, in truth, the reason he had never risen any higher in his profession, the mercantile instinct--one of the liveliest and most acute to be found in natural history--forewarning his different owners that he was already in the berth nature and art had best qualified him to fill. It is wonderful how acute even dull men get to be, on the subject of money!

I own my judgment, such as it was at nineteen, was opposed to the opinion of the captain. I could see that the contingency contemplated by the instructions had not arisen, and that we should be acting more in conformity with the wishes of the owners, by proceeding to the Sandwich Islands in quest of sandal-wood, and thence to China, after a cargo of teas. Marble was not to be convinced, however, though I think my arguments shook him a little. What might have been the result, it is difficult to say, had not chance befriended the views of each of us, respectively. It is proper to add, that Marble availed himself of this opportunity to promote Talcott, who was brought into the cabin as third-mate. I rejoiced greatly in this addition to our little circle on the quarter-deck, Talcott being a man of education, much nearer my own age than the two others, and united to me by unusual ties since our common adventure in the prize. I was not only rejoiced to be able to associate with him, but to hear him called _Mr_. Talcott.

We had a long, but mild, passage to the Sandwich Islands. This group occupied a very different place, in the opinions of the world, in the year 1800, from that it fills to-day. Still it had made some small advances in civilization since the time of Cook. I am told there are churches, taverns, billiard-tables, and stone dwellings in these islands now, which are fast turning to the Christian religion, and obtaining the medley of convenience, security, vice, roguery, law and comfort, that is known as civilization. It was far different then, our reception being by men who were but a small degree removed from savages. Among those who first came on board us, however, was the master of an American brig, belonging to Boston, whose vessel had got on a reef, and bilged. He intended to remain by the wreck, but wished to dispose of a considerable amount of sandal-wood that was still in his vessel, and for the safety of which he was under great concern, as the first gale of wind might scatter it to the winds of the ocean. If he could obtain a fresh stock of goods to trade on, he proposed remaining on the islands until another vessel belonging to the same owners, which was expected in a few months, should arrive, on board which vessel he intended to embark with everything he could save from the wreck, and such wood as he could purchase in the interim. Captain Marble rubbed his hands with delight, when he returned from a visit to the wreck, his arrangements all completed.

"Luck is with us, Master Miles," he said, "and we'll be off for them pearl fisheries next week. I have bought all the sandal-wood in the wreck, paying in trumpery, and at prices only about double Indian trade, and we will heave up, and carry the ship round to the wreck, and begin to take in this afternoon. There is capital holding-ground inside the reef, and the ship can be safely carried within a hundred fathoms of her cargo!"

All turned out as Marble had hoped and predicted, and the Crisis was back at her anchorage in front of the village, which is now the city of Honolulu, within the week named. We got our supply of hogs, and having procured four of the best divers going, we sailed in quest of Captain Marble's Eldorado of pearls. I was less opposed to the scheme than I had been, for we were now so much in advance of our time, that we could afford to pass a few weeks among the islands, previously to sailing for China. Our course was to the south-west, crossing the line in about 170 degrees west longitude. There was a clear sea, for more than a fortnight, while we were near the equator, the ship making but little progress. Glad enough was I to hear the order given to turn more to the northward again; for the heat was oppressive, and this was inclining towards our route to China. We had been out from Owyhee, as it was then usual to call the island where Cook was killed--Hawaii, as it is called to-day--we had been out from this island, about a month, when Marble came up to me one fine, moon-light evening, in my watch, rubbing his hands, as was his custom when in good humour, and broke out as follows:--

"I'll tell you what, Miles," he said, "you and I have been salted down by Providence for something more than common! Just look back at all our adventures in the last three years, and see what they come to. Firstly, there was shipwreck over here on the coast of Madagascar," jerking his thumb over a shoulder in a manner that was intended to indicate about two hundred degrees of longitude, that being somewhat near our present distance from the place he mentioned, in an air line; "then followed the boat business under the Isle of Bourbon, and the affair with the privateer off Guadaloupe. Well, as if that wern't enough, we ship together again in this vessel, and a time we had of it with the French letter-of-marque. After that, a devil of a passage we made of it through the Straits of Magellan. Then came the melancholy loss of Captain Williams, and all that business; after which we got the sandal-wood out of the wreck, which I consider the luckiest transaction of all."

"I hope you don't set down the loss of Captain Williams among our luck, sir!"

"Not I, but the stuff is all logged together, you know; and, in overhauling for one idee, in such a mess, a fellow is apt to get hold of another. As I was saying, we have been amazingly lucky, and I expect nothing else but we shall discover an island yet!"

"Can that be of any great service to us? There are so many owners ready to start up and claim such discoveries, that I question if it would do us any great benefit."

"Let them start up--who cares for them; we'll have the christening, and that's half the battle. Marble Land, Wallingford Bay, Talcott Hills, and Cape Crisis, would look well on a chart--ha! Miles?"

"I have no objection to see it, sir."

"Land ho!" cried the look-out on the forecastle.

"There it is now, by George!" cried Marble, springing forward--"I overhauled the chart half an hour since, and there ought to be nothing within six hundred miles of us."

There it was, sure enough, and much nearer to us than was at all desirable. So near, indeed, that the wash of the breakers on the reef that so generally lies off from the low coral islands of the Pacific, was distinctly audible from the ship. The moon gave a strong light, it is true, and the night was soft and balmy; but the air, which was very light, blew directly towards this reef, and then there were always currents to apprehend. We sounded, but got no bottom.

"Ay, this is one of your coral reefs, where a man goes on the rocks from off soundings, at a single jump," muttered Marble, ordering the ship brought by the wind on the best tack to haul off shore. "No notice, and a wreck. As for anchoring in such a place, a fellow might as well run a line out to Japan; and, could an anchor find the bottom, the cable would have some such berth as a man who slept in a hammock filled with open razors."

All this was true enough; and we watched the effect of our change of course with the greatest anxiety. All hands were called, and the men were stationed, in readiness to work the ship. But, a few minutes satisfied us, the hope of clawing off, in so light an air, was to the last degree vain. The vessel set in fast towards the reef, the breakers on which now became apparent, even by the light of the moon; the certain sign they were fearfully near.

This was one of those moments in which Marble could show himself to be a true man. He was perfectly calm and self-possessed; and stood on the taffrail, giving his orders, with a distinctness and precision I had never seen surpassed. I was kept in the chains, myself, to watch the casts of the lead. No bottom, however, was the never-failing report; nor was any bottom expected; it being known that these reefs were quite perpendicular on their seaward side. The captain called out to me, from time to time, to be active and vigilant, as our set inshore was uncontrollable, and the boats, if in the water, as the launch could not be for twenty minutes, would be altogether useless. I proposed to lower the yawl, and to pull to leeward, to try the soundings, in order to ascertain if it were not possible to find bottom at some point short of the reef, on which we should hopelessly be set, unless checked by some such means, in the course of the next fifteen or twenty minutes.

"Do it at once, sir," cried Marble. "The thought is a good one, and does you credit, Mr. Wallingford."

I left the ship in less than five minutes, and pulled off, under the ship's lee-bow, knowing that tacking or waring would be out of the question, under the circumstances. I stood up in the stern-sheets, and made constant casts with the hand-lead, with a short line, however, as the boat went foaming through the water. The reef was now plainly in sight, and I could see, as well as hear, the long, formidable ground-swells of the Pacific, while fetching up against these solid barriers, they rolled over, broke, and went beyond the rocks in angry froth. At this perilous instant, when I would not have given the poorest acre of Clawbonny to have been the owner of the Crisis, I saw a spot to leeward that was comparatively still, or in which the water did not break. It was not fifty fathoms from me when first discovered; and towards it I steered, animating the men to redoubled exertions. We were in this narrow belt of smooth water, as it might be in an instant, and the current sucked the boat through it so fast, as to allow time to make but a single cast of the lead. I got bottom; but it was in six fathoms!

The boat was turned, and headed out again, as if life and death depended on the result. The ship was fortunately within sound of the voice, steering still by the wind, though setting three feet towards the reef, for one made in the desired direction; and I hailed.

"What now, Mr. Wallingford?" demanded Marble, as calmly as if anchored near a wharf at home.

"Do you see the boat, sir?"

"Quite plainly;--God knows you are near enough to be seen."

"Has the ship steerage-way on her, Captain Marble?"

"Just that, and nothing more to boast of."

"Then ask no questions; but try to follow the boat. It is the only hope; and it may succeed."

I got no answer; but I heard the deep, authoritative voice of Marble, ordering the "helm up," and the men "to man the weather-braces." I could scarcely breathe, while I stood looking at the ship's bows, as they fell off, and noted her slow progress ahead. Her speed increased sensibly, however, and I kept the boat far enough to windward to give the vessel room fairly to enter the pass. At the proper moment, we moved towards the inlet, the Crisis keeping more and more away, in order to follow. I was soon in the pass itself, the water breaking within ten fathoms on each side of me, sending portions of its foam, to the very blades of our oars; but the lead still gave me six fathoms. At the next cast, I got ten; and then the shin was at the point where I had just before found six. Two breakers were roaring behind me, and I pulled round, and waited for the ship, steering to the southward, sounding as I went. I could see that the ship hauled up, and that I was already behind the reef. Straining my voice, I now called out--

"Anchor, sir--bear a hand and anchor, as soon as possible."

Not a word came back; but up went the courses, followed by the top-gallant-sails, after which down went the jib. I heard the fore and main-top-sail-halyards overhauling themselves, spite of the roar of the breakers, and then the ship luffed into the wind. Glad enough was I to hear the heavy plunge of one of the bowers, as it fell from the cathead into the water. Even then I remained stationary, to note the result. The ship took her scope of cable freely, after which I observed that she was brought up. The next moment I was on board her.

"A close shave, Mr. Wallingford," said Marble, giving me a squeeze of the hand, that said more for his feelings than any words such a being could utter; "and many thanks for your piloting. Is not that land I see, away here to leeward--more to the westward, boy?"

"It is, sir, beyond a doubt. It must be one of the coral islands; and this is the reef that usually lies to seaward from them. There is the appearance of trees ashore!"

"It's a discovery, youngster, and will make us all great names! Remember, this passage I call 'Miles's Inlet;' and to the reef, I give the name of 'Yawl Reef.'"

I could not smile at this touch of Marble's vanity, for concern left me no thoughts but for the ship. The weather was now mild and the bay smooth; the night was fine, and it might be of the last importance to us to know something more of our situation. The cable might chafe off, probably _would_, so near a coral reef; and I offered to pull in towards the land, sounding as I went, and otherwise gaining the knowledge that might be necessary to our security. After a little reflection, the captain consented, ordering me to take provisions and water in the boat, as the duty might detain me until morning.

I found the bay between the reef and the island about a league in _breadth_, and across its entire _width_, the soundings did not vary much from ten fathoms. The outer barrier of rock, on which the sea broke, appeared to be an advanced wall, that the indefatigable little insects had erected, as it might be, in defence of their island, which had probably been raised from the depths of the ocean, a century or two ago, by some of their own ancestors. The gigantic works completed by these little aquatic animals, are well known to navigators, and give us some tolerably accurate notions of the manner in which the face of the globe has been made to undergo some of its alterations. I found the land easy of access, low, wooded, and without any sign of habitation. The night was so fine that I ventured inland, and after walking more than a mile, most of the distance in a grove of cocoa and bananas, I came to the basin of water that is usually found in the islands of this particular formation. The inlet from the sea was at no great distance, and I sent one of the men back to the yawl, with orders for the boat to proceed thither. I next sounded the inlet and the bay, and found everywhere a sandy bottom, and about ten fathoms of water. As I expected, the shoalest spot was the inlet; but in this, which I sounded thoroughly, there was nowhere less than five. It was now midnight; and I should have remained on the island until morning, to make further surveys by daylight, had we not seen the ship, under her canvass, and so much nearer to us than we had supposed possible, as to satisfy me she was drifting in fast towards the land. Of course I did not hesitate, but pulled on board.

It was as I suspected. The rocks so near the reef had chafed off the cable; the ship struck adrift, and Marble was under his canvass waiting my return, in order to ascertain where he might anchor anew. I told him of the lagoon in the centre of the island, and gave him every assurance of there being water enough to carry in any craft that floats. My reputation was up, in consequence of the manner the ship had been taken through the first inlet, and I was ordered to conn her into this new haven.

The task was not difficult. The lightness of the wind, and uncertainty about the currents proving the only source of embarrassment, I succeeded in finding the passage, after a short trial; and sending the boat ahead, under Talcott, as an additional precaution, soon had the Crisis floating in the very centre of this natural dock. Sail was shortened as we came in, and the ship made a flying moor; after which we lay as securely, at if actually in some basin wrought by art. It is my opinion, the vessel would have ridden out the hardest gale, or anything short of a hurricane, at single anchor, in that place. The sense of security was now so strong upon us, that we rolled up our canvass, set an anchor watch of only one man, and turned in.

I never laid my head down, on board ship, with greater satisfaction, than I did that night. Let the truth be frankly stated. I was perfectly satisfied with myself. It was owing to my decision and vigilance that the ship was saved, when outside the reef, out of all question; and I think she would have been lost after she struck adrift, had I not discovered her present berth. There she was, however, with land virtually all round her, a good bottom, plenty of water, and well moored. As I have said already, she could not be better secured in an artificial dock. In the midst of the Pacific, away from all custom-house officers, in a recently discovered and uninhabited island, there was nothing to fear. Men sleep soundly in such circumstances, and I should have been in a deep slumber in a minute after I was in my berth, had not Marble's conversation kept me awake, quite unwillingly on my part, for five minutes. His state-room door was open, and, through it, the following discourse was held.

"I think, on the whole," commenced the captain, "it will be better to _generalize a little more,"--this was a favourite expression of the ex-mate's, and one he often used without exactly knowing its application himself.--"Yes, to generalize a little more; it shall be Marble Land, Wallingford Bay, Yawl, Reef, _Talcott Inlet, Miles's Anchorage--and a d----d bad anchorage it was, Miles; but, never mind, we must take the good with the bad, in this wicked world."

"Very true, sir; but as for taking that anchorage, you must excuse me, as I shall never take it again."

"Perhaps not. Well, this is what I call comfort--ha! Talcott?--Is Talcott asleep, Miles?"

"He and the second-mate are hard at it, sir--full and by, and going ten knots," I muttered, wishing my tormentor in Japan, at the moment.

"Ay; they are rackers at a sleep! I say, Miles, such a discovery as this will make a man's fortune! The world generalizes in discoveries, altogether, making no great matter of distinction between your Columbuses, Cooks, or Marbles. An island is an island and he who first discovers it, has the credit. Poor Captain Williams! He would have sailed this ship for a whole generation, and never found anything in the way of novelty."

"Except the Straits--" I muttered very indistinctly, breathing deep and hard.

"Ay, that _was an affair! Hadn't you and I been aboard, the ship never would have done that. We are the very offspring of luck! There was the affair of the wreck off Madagascar--there are bloody currents in the Pacific, too, I find, Miles."

"Yes, sir--hard-a-weather--"

"The fellow's dreaming. One word, boy, before you cut loose from all reason and reflection. Don't you think it would be a capital idea to poke in a little patriotism among the names; patriotism goes so far in our part of the world. Congress Rocks would be a good title for the highest part of the reef, and Washington Sands would do for the landing you told me of. Washington should have a finger in the pie."

"Crust isn't down, sir."

"The fellow's off, and I may as well follow, though it is not easy to sleep on the honour of a discovery like this. Good night, Miles!"

"Ay, ay! sir."

Such was the account Marble afterwards gave me of the termination of the dialogue. Sleep, sleep, sleep! Never did men enjoy their rest more than we did for the next five hours, the ship being as silent as a church on a week-day, during the whole time. For myself, I can safely say I heard nothing, or knew nothing, until I was awakened by a violent shake of the shoulder. Supposing myself to have been aroused for an ordinary watch at sea, I was erect in an instant, and found the sun's rays streaming into my face, through the cabin-windows. This prevented me, for a moment, from seeing that I had been disturbed by Captain Marble himself. The latter waited until he perceived I could understand him, and then he said, in a grave, meaning manner--

"Miles, there is a mutiny in the ship! Do you understand me, Mr. Wallingford?--a bloody mutiny!"

"A mutiny, Captain Marble! You confound me, sir--I had thought our people perfectly satisfied."

"Umph! One never knows whether the copper will come up head or tail. I thought, when I turned in last night, it was to take the surest nap I ever tasted afloat; and here I awake and find a mutiny!"

I was on my feet and dressing in an instant, as a matter of course, having first gone to the berths of the two other mates, and given each a call.

"But how do you know this, Captain Marble?" I resumed, as soon as there was a chance. "I hear no disturbance, and the ship is just where we left her," glancing through the cabin-windows; "I think you must be mistaken, sir."

"Not I. I turned out, ten minutes since, and was about to go on deck to get a look at your basin, and breathe the fresh air, when I found the companion-doors fastened, precisely Smudge-fashion. I suppose you will allow that no regular ship's company would dare to fasten the officers below, unless they intended to seize the craft."

"This is very extraordinary! Perhaps some accident has befallen the doors. Did you call out, sir?"

"I thumped like an admiral, but got no answer. When on the point of trying the virtue of a few kicks, I overheard a low laugh on deck, and that let me into the secret of the state of the nation at once. I suppose you will all admit, gentlemen, when sailors laugh at their officers, as well as batten them down, that they must be somewhat near a state of mutiny."

"It does look so, indeed, sir. We had better arm the moment we are dressed, Captain Marble."

"I have done that already, and you will each find loaded pistols in my state-room."

In two minutes from that moment, all four of us were in a state for action, each man armed with a brace of ship's pistols, well-loaded and freshly primed. Marble was for making a rush at the cabin-doors, at once; but I suggested the improbability of the steward or Neb's being engaged in any plot against the officers, and thought it might be well to ascertain what had become of the two blacks, before we commenced operations. Talcott proceeded instantly to the steerage, where the steward slept, and returned in a moment to report that he had found him sound asleep in his berth.

Reinforced by this man, Captain Marble determined to make his first demonstration by way of the forecastle, where, by acting with caution, a surprise on the mutineers might be effected. It will be remembered that a door communicated with the forecastle, the fastenings of which were on the side of "'twixt decks." Most of the cargo being in the lower hold, there was no difficulty in making our way to this door, where we stopped and listened, in order to learn the state of things on the other side of the bulkhead. Marble had whispered to me, as we groped our way along in the sort of twilight which pervaded the place, the hatches being on and secured, that "them bloody Philadelphians" must be at the bottom of the mischief, as our old crew were a set of as "peaceable, well-disposed chaps as ever eat duff (dough) out of a kid."

The result of the listening was to produce a general surprise. Out of all question, snoring, and that on no small scale of the gamut of Morpheus, was unequivocally heard. Marble instantly opened the door, and we entered the forecastle, pistols in hand. Every berth had its tenant, and all hands were asleep! Fatigue, and the habit of waiting for calls, had evidently kept each of the seamen in his berth, until that instant. Contrary to usage in so warm a climate, the scuttle was on, and a trial soon told us it was fast.

"To generalize on this idee, Miles," exclaimed the captain, "I should say we are again battened down by savages!"

"It does indeed look so, sir; and yet I saw no sign of the island's being inhabited. It may be well, Captain Marble, to muster the crew, that we may learn who's who."

"Quite right--do you turn 'em up, and send 'em all aft into the cabin, where we have more daylight."

I set about awaking the people, which was not difficult, and in a few minutes everybody was sent aft. Following the crew, it was soon found that only one man was missing, and he was the very individual whom we had left on deck, when we had all gone below on securing the ship. Every soul belonging to the vessel was present in the cabin, or steerage, but this solitary man--Philadelphians and all!

"It can never be that Harris has dared to trifle with us," said Talcott; "and yet it does look surprisingly like it."

"Quite sure, Miles, that Marble Land is an uninhabited island?" said the captain, interrogatively.

"I can only say, sir, that it is as much like all the other uninhabited coral islands we have passed, as one pea is like another; and that there were no signs of a living being visible last night. It is true, we saw but little of the island, though to all appearances there was not much to see."

"Unluckily, all the men's arms are on deck, in the arm-chest, or strapped to the boom or masts. There is no use, however, in dillydallying against one man; so I will make a rumpus that will soon bring the chap to his bearings."

Hereupon Marble made what he called a rumpus in good earnest. I thought, for a minute, he would kick the cabin-doors down.

"'Andzomelee-'andzomelee," said some one on deck. "Vat for you make so much kick?"

"Who the devil are you?" demanded Marble, kicking harder than ever." Open the cabin-doors, or I'll kick them down, and yourself overboard."

"Monsieur--sair," rejoined another voice, "_tenez_--you air _prisonnier_. _Comprenez-vous_--prisonair, eh?"

"These are Frenchmen, Captain Marble," I exclaimed, "and we are in the hands of the enemy."

This was astounding intelligence; so much so, that all had difficulty in believing it. A further parley, however, destroyed our hopes, little by little, until we entered into an arrangement with those on deck, to the following effect: I was to be permitted to go out, in order to ascertain the real facts of our situation; while Marble and the remainder of the crew were to remain below, passive, until the result should be reported. Under this arrangement, one of the cabin-doors was opened, and I sallied forth.

Astonishment almost deprived me of the power of vision, when I looked around me. Quite fifty armed white men, sailors and natives of France, by their air and language, crowded round me, as curious to see me, as I could possibly be to see them. In their midst was Harris, who approached me with an embarrassed and sorrowful air--

"I know I deserve death, Mr. Wallingford," this man commenced; "but I fell asleep after so much work, and everything looking so safe and out-of-harm's-way like; and when I woke up, I found these people on hoard, and in possession of the ship."

"In the name of wonder, whence come they, Harris? is there a French ship at the island?"

"By all I can learn and see, sir, they are the crew of a wrecked letter-of-marque--an Indiaman of some sort or other; and finding a good occasion to get off the island, and make a rich prize, they have helped themselves to the poor Crisis--God bless her! say I, though she is now under the French flag, I suppose."

I looked up at the gaff, and, sure enough, there was flying the _tri-color!

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Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 16 Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 16

Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 16
CHAPTER XVI"The morning air blows fresh on him:" "The waves dance gladly in his sight;" "The sea-birds call, and wheel, and skim--" "O, blessed morning light!" "He doth not hear their joyous call; he sees No beauty in the wave, nor feels the breeze." DANA.Truth is, truly, often stranger than fiction. The history of the circumstances that brought us into the hands of our enemies will fully show this. La Pauline was a ship of six hundred tons, that carried letters-of-marque from the French government. She sailed from France a few weeks after we

Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 14 Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 14

Afloat And Ashore: A Sea Tale - Chapter 14
CHAPTER XIV_Court_--"Brother John Bates, is not that the morning which breaks yonder?" _Bates_.--"I think it be; but we have no great cause to desire the approach of day." _Will_.--"We see yonder the beginning of the day; but I think we shall never see the end of it----" _Henry V._The ship did not lose her steerage-way. As soon as past the point of the island, a gentle southerly breeze was felt; and, acting on the spars and hull, it enabled me, by putting the helm a little up, to keep her head off shore, and thus