Full Online Books
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesHurricane Hurry - Chapter 25
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 25 Post by :24HourCash Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :2335

Click below to download : Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 25 (Format : PDF)

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 25



I must endeavour to get on more rapidly than heretofore with my account of public matters. On the 18th of January the British army marched from Smithfield southward, and the squadron moved down to Newportneuse. Among the most active of the English officers was Colonel Simcoe. On the 16th he surprised and took prisoners an American officer of militia and fifteen privates. From the report I heard I was much in fear that Colonel Carlyon was the officer taken, but I had no means of ascertaining whether or not such was the case. At all events, I hoped that his daughter was in a place of safety.

On the 18th the army reached Mackey's Mills, and I received orders to proceed with a detachment of boats to supply them with bread and other provisions. I hoped now to gain the information I was so anxious to possess. Our present expedition was very different to those in which I had before been engaged. We now went up in daylight, with a force which no enemy was likely to attack. Mackey's Mills were reached soon after noon, and when I had delivered the provisions I was ordered to remain to assist in passing the troops across the river on their way to the attack of Portsmouth. The embarkation was not to take place till midnight, so I had ample time to go up the river to ascertain whether the house where Madeline had been residing had been attacked. O'Driscoll was ready enough to accompany me, to give me, as he observed, one chance more of doing the proper thing; but, before I went, I was anxious to ascertain whether Colonel Carlyon had indeed fallen into our hands. I had, at the same time, no reason to fear that he would be treated harshly or with want of courtesy. Only, if he was a prisoner, I naturally wished to see him, that I might offer him all the assistance in my power. Going on shore, after some difficulty I found out Colonel Simcoe's quarters at a farm-house a mile away from the mills. I introduced myself to him, and told him my errand--that I was acquainted with Colonel Carlyon's family, and that I wished to be of service to him. He replied that the officer he had taken had refused to give his name and rank to the party who had captured him.

"I understood that he and his men were surprised," I remarked.

"Not at all," was the answer. "He was apparently covering the retreat of another party who appeared to have some women and other encumbrances among them. To do the rebel gentleman justice, he fought very bravely, and did not yield till he was completely overpowered."

I begged that I might see the prisoner, and, after some little hesitation on the part of the colonel, he handed me the necessary order. Thanking him for his courtesy, I set off for the cottage used as a prison. It was situated a quarter of a mile nearer the mills. A strong guard was posted in the neighbourhood, and a couple of sentries paced up and down before it. I showed my order to the lieutenant in charge of the party and was at once admitted. I looked round the chamber. Near a casement window, seated on a rough stool, with a cask serving as a table, I beheld Colonel Carlyon. He turned his head when I entered, and I thought that his countenance brightened when he saw me. He rose and held out his hand.

"I regret, sir, to see you here as a prisoner," said I. "Hearing that an officer had been captured, I hastened, should it prove to be you, to offer such services as I am able to render."

"The fortune of war, Mr Hurry. I may be thankful that I have escaped wounds or death," he answered in a cheerful tone. "Believe me, I am grateful to you for this attention, and I only wish that I had the means of showing my gratitude."

He, of course, well knew that he might some day have the power of showing it most effectually. My first inquiry was, of course, respecting the safety of his daughter, and he assured me that he had every reason to believe that she and her companions had reached the house of some relations in the interior, and that he should have accompanied them had he not been so hotly pursued by Colonel Simcoe's persevering and lightly-accoutred troops. When he heard that I had made preparations to go up to Mrs Langton's house he exclaimed--

"You may render me a great service by so doing. In the hurry of our departure, in consequence of your warning, a small desk was left behind. It contains not only money and jewels of considerable value, but some papers of the greatest importance. I had but just discovered my loss when I was taken prisoner, and the only person I could have entrusted to go in search of it was killed in the same skirmish in which I became a prisoner."

I naturally was much pleased with this opportunity of rendering a service to Colonel Carlyon. I had but little time, however, left in which to perform it. After he had explained to me in what part of the house I was to look for the desk, I took my departure and hastened back to the river, where I found O'Driscoll with Rockets and two other men waiting for me. The tide was favourable, so that we had no difficulty in getting there. The scenery wore so different an aspect by daylight to what it had done in the dark that we could scarcely recognise the spots we passed. We landed and approached the house. There, indeed, was a melancholy change. The shrubberies had been cut down, the garden trampled under foot, and the house itself plundered and set on fire--I think by accident--I scarcely believe it could have been done wantonly. I began to fear, when I saw what had occurred, that I must give up all hopes of finding the desk of which I was in search. O'Driscoll and I felt very indignant when we saw the destruction which had been wrought by our troops.

"Well, after all, war is a dirty business!" he exclaimed, after contemplating the scene of ruin for some minutes without speaking. "Fighting in the open field, where hard blows are given and taken, and man meets man on equal terms, is all very well in its way. I don't object to sacking a town which holds out when it should have given in, but the burning down of old ladies' houses, and injuring the property of people who could not have caused any offence, I cannot stand. I should like now to discover the officer who was commanding here and allowed this. I would pick a quarrel with him and call him out to a certainty."

My friend had certainly curious notions, not uncommon among his countrymen in these days. Sad, indeed, was the scene of havoc and destruction which met our gaze on every side, not only about the house, but in the fields and cottages in the surrounding country--war's melancholy consequences. We had no time to contemplate it.

"Come, O'Driscoll," said I, "we will search through the ruins for my friend's case, but I scarcely expect to find it."

"Something like looking for a needle in a rick of hay," he answered; "or, rather, far more hopeless, for it is very unlikely that the case should have escaped being burnt or carried off."

O'Driscoll, Rockets and I hunted in different directions. I first endeavoured to find the room which Colonel Carlyon had described to me. That portion of the house had not suffered so much as the rest; most of the flooring of the room was burnt, but the fire had been extinguished before the whole had been consumed. I climbed up to it, not without risk, for the burnt rafters gave way under my feet. I knew the room from the position of the window, which looked into a little courtyard. A portion of the furniture had escaped, though blackened and disfigured. My hopes revived as to finding the desk. I hunted eagerly round. It was too evident that everything considered of value had been carried away. I was about to scramble down again by the way we had come up when I bethought me of looking out of the window for the enjoyment of the prospect, which was a very beautiful one. Woods, fields, the terraced garden, distant hills, and the river rushing by were well combined to form it. As I looked out, my eye fell on a heap of rubbish in one corner of the courtyard, with burnt and broken pieces of furniture, and I fancied that I saw the edge of such a case as I was in search of sticking out from among them. I quickly descended and found my way to the spot. I eagerly pulled out the object I had seen. It was a peculiarly old-fashioned, unattractive-looking case, and from its outward appearance no one would have supposed that it contained objects of value. I felt sure that I was right, and that I had got the object I was seeking. I sang out to O'Driscoll, who after a little time heard my voice and was delighted at my good fortune. Calling Rockets, we then hurried back to the boat. There was no time to be lost, for night was coming on; we had a long pull before us, and I was anxious to deliver the case to Colonel Carlyon without delay. After this I had to assist in getting the boats ready for the embarkation of the troops. Away we pulled. O'Driscoll was in high feather, laughing and joking to his heart's content.

"You're in a fair way now, at all events, to win the lady, my boy," said he. "Only just keep moving, and put yourself under my guidance. We must soon knock this rebellion on the head, and then, do ye see, you can step in and be of still greater service to the father and the family, and claim your reward. Oh! it's beautiful. I see it all now as clear as a pikestaff."

Certainly, we neither of us at the time thought what a different turn affairs were to take from what he was then calculating on. Yet, I must own, I had even then my misgivings on the subject. As soon as we landed, I hurried as fast as my legs could carry me to the cottage where Colonel Carlyon was kept a prisoner. His satisfaction was very great when I delivered the case to him, and the way in which he expressed his gratitude was manly and cordial in the extreme.

"It is useless for a prisoner to make promises, which, should your party finally triumph, he may never be able to fulfil," he observed with a grave look. "In the latter case, those taken with arms in their hands may be hung, drawn and quartered as traitors, in accordance with the time-honoured custom of our fathers. If the patriots are victorious, the prisoners will be liberated with all the honours which can be showered on them, and I may have the satisfaction of proving that I am not ungrateful for what you have done for me and mine."

I found some difficulty in answering properly to these remarks. I could not say that I wished the royal cause not to succeed, and yet I certainly did not desire to see the Americans completely defeated and humbled. I therefore said--

"I trust that a peace, honourable to both parties, may ere long be established, and that the Americans may gain to the full what they consider their just rights."

"That will never be unless victory smiles on our arms," he replied with a faint smile. "We must conquer to obtain our rights. What has hitherto been denied will never be otherwise granted."

I looked at my watch. I found that I must hasten back to the boats.

"Farewell, sir!" I said. "I have duties to which I must attend at present, but I will endeavour, if possible, to see you again before I return to my ship."

"Stay one moment," said he; "I would ask you to ascertain from our friends at Hampton if they have received positive information as to the safety of my daughter and her relatives. When you gain it send me word, and you will add to the weight of the debt of gratitude I already owe you."

He said this in a stiff way, as if unwilling to give me the task. This I thought but natural. Though I was conferring obligations on him, my position as a poor lieutenant was unaltered, and I knew that he could not desire to entrust his daughter's happiness to my charge, even should peace be established. It was almost the hour appointed for the embarkation of the troops when I got down to the river. So well had our arrangements been made, that I doubt whether the enemy knew what we were about. There is something particularly exciting and wild in the movement of a large body of armed men at night. I could not help remarking the scene in which I was taking so active a part. Rapidly flowed by the dark river; boats crowded with men and horses were continually passing, while others were returning empty for a further supply; people with torches were stationed on both banks of the river, to enable the soldiers, as they came down, to take their proper places in the boats, the lights from the flaming brands throwing a ruddy glare over the stream, and making the tall buildings of the mills stand out prominently from the dark forest in the background. All night long the work was going on, for it was a slow process to get across horses, artillery and ammunition, provisions and baggage. The first thing in the morning, after his men had rested but a couple of hours, the indefatigable Colonel Simcoe set off towards Portsmouth to summon the town to surrender. At 2 p.m. the army began their march, and arrived before the place the following day, when the inhabitants, finding that resistance was useless, surrendered at discretion. I endeavoured to ascertain where Colonel Carlyon and the other prisoners had been placed, but was unable to discover any clue to their place of imprisonment. As soon as the rear of the army was out of sight, all the officers commanding boats assembled on board a brig, which had been captured in the Nansimond river, previous to returning to our ships. It was with much regret that I heard it proposed to burn Mackey's Mills, and to ravage the country round, in consequence of the attack which had been made on our boats. I opposed the suggestion with all my might. I said that I thought it a wanton destruction of property, that would in no way advance our cause, and would certainly exasperate the sufferers against us. Not only were my counsels disregarded, but several remarks were made hinting pretty broadly that I was too friendly disposed towards the enemy. I had to stand a severe fire from several of my brother-officers. Some, among whom was O'Driscoll, began to joke, and I took it very ill from him, as he knew the depth of my sentiments, and I considered his conduct a breach of confidence. Others went on from joking to make more serious remarks, which I felt reflected on my honour, so much so that I rose up and declared that if another observation of the sort was ventured on by any present, I must insist on settling the matter at another time and place. Some held their peace after this, but some continued to talk of officers showing lukewarmness and want of loyalty to the king's cause, and to declare that such had better declare themselves to be the rebels they were at heart.

The last man who spoke was a Lieutenant Dawson. I was surprised that he should venture to speak thus, for he was a man of whose spirit or courage I had but a mean opinion. My impulse was to throw a pocket-pistol I seized hold of across the table at his head, but I restrained my anger. Though he was my junior in the service, we were engaged on public duty together, and, under these circumstances, it was a serious matter for one officer to strike another, even in those days.

"Mr Dawson, you must know what you say is false, sir," I exclaimed. "Can any one here say that I have been slack in my duty--that I have ever shown the white feather--that I have ever done anything derogatory to the character of an officer and a gentleman? If no one here condemns me--then, sir, I shall make you eat your words, and acknowledge that the insinuations on which you have ventured were most foul and unjust."

No one spoke. Dawson looked confounded.

"No one condemns me," I added. "That is well; but will no one speak in my favour--will no one say that, to the best of his knowledge, I have never failed in my duty, or acted otherwise than as a British officer ought to act?"

"In faith, Hurry, I'll speak in your favour, my boy, and gladly too," cried O'Driscoll, with all the enthusiasm of which his warm heart was capable. "If every one fought as well, and did their duty as completely as you do, we should have had this war over long ago--that's my belief; and small blame to you if you think a pair of bright eyes in this western hemisphere brighter than any to be found in the old country; besides, you've never been in my part of Ireland, or you might be of a different opinion. Now, gentlemen, if any one has anything to say against Mr Hurry, then let him say it to me. I'll settle the matter for him."

This diversion of O'Driscoll's completely silenced all opposition to me, and Dawson, not wishing to come into a personal conflict with my hot-headed though warm-hearted Irish friend, slunk out of the cabin.

I was, however, left in a decided minority with respect to an attack on the mills, which it was determined forthwith to destroy. I was of course under the orders of the commanding officer of the brigade of boats, who happened to be Lieutenant Edwards, first of the Charon, so that I had no choice but to obey. As soon as our crews had taken some refreshment we pulled away in battle array for the mills. A few irregulars and armed peasantry, who had entered the place when the army had quitted it, were speedily put to flight when we landed. Piles of brushwood were collected and heaped up inside the building in different parts of it. Fire was set to them, and rapidly the flames burst forth, and, catching the dry wood-work of the mills, were soon seen climbing up from storey to storey, twisting themselves in and out of the windows, and encircling the beams and rafters in their deadly embrace. I never saw any building so rapidly consumed. Higher and higher rose the devouring flames; down came tumbling the roof and lofty walls; with loud crashes the floors fell in; showers of bright sparks flew on every side, and nothing but a mass of burning ruins--a huge bonfire--remained before us. The men shouted when they saw the destruction they had caused, like mischievous schoolboys. They little thought or cared to whom the property belonged, or who were the sufferers. They would just as readily have burnt it had it belonged to royalists. They enjoyed the sight of the conflagration--the effects of their own handiwork. Many of the officers, too, shouted and clapped their hands, and seemed to take as much pleasure in the mischief they were producing as the men; but this might have been a mere exhibition of their loyalty and patriotism. Having thus effectually destroyed the mills, our commanding officer ordered us to march into the interior to forage, or, in other words, to plunder any farms the army had spared, and to commit any other acts of mischief the time would allow. I need not enter into particulars. Cattle we spared, as we could not carry them off, but we collected sheep and pigs and fowls wherever we could find them. To this, of course, I could not object, as provisions were necessary; but at length we came to the house of a gentleman--a colonel of militia we were told--and, though no defence of it was attempted, it was proposed to burn it to the ground. Against this further wanton destruction of property I loudly protested--

"It has lately been said that I am a friend of the rebels," I exclaimed. "That I deny; but I do not deny that I am ashamed to see my countrymen destroy the property of people who make no resistance, and who are Englishmen as much as we are. Such conduct can only cause a bitter hatred to spring up in the breasts of the sufferers, which will make them refuse ever again to become our fellow-subjects and friends."

Mr Edwards did not at all like my interference; but my remonstrance had an effect, and though he allowed the house to be plundered, and the furniture to be destroyed, he soon after ordered a retreat, observing that he could not depend on my co-operation or assistance. The owner of the house, as it turned out, was in the neighbourhood, with a considerable body of men, and he very nearly succeeded in inflicting a severe retaliation on us by surprising and cutting off our party. However, we discovered his approach in time to get into order, and, though he and his men followed us for some way, we kept him at bay, and reached the river without loss. Lieutenant Edwards at once returned on board our ship in the Charon's barge, leaving me in command of the boats--directing me to land and forage at any convenient spot towards the mouth of the river. Here again, however much against my inclination, I must obey orders. We had observed a large farm a little above the town of Nansimond. As we proceeded down the river we suddenly pulled in towards the shore. Sixty men, without a moment's delay, ran on and surrounded the farm before the inmates had time to drive away any of the stock, or, indeed, had perceived our approach. We soon collected everything eatable on which we could lay hands, and were in our boats and away again before any force had time to assemble from the neighbourhood to attack us. Such was the system of warfare which I believe General Arnold recommended and encouraged--the most galling and injurious to the unhappy colonists. We got on board our ships by midnight, with provisions sufficient to supply all the ships' companies for a couple of days.

The Rattlesnake, a ship pierced for fourteen guns, but mounting ten three-pounders and six swivels, had been captured at Portsmouth, and the next morning I received orders to take command of her, to fit her for sea, and to hold myself in readiness to proceed with charge of all the rest of the prizes to New York.

The army was at this period employed in throwing up works for the defence of Portsmouth, and in making excursions into the surrounding country to crush, it was said in the despatches, any embers of rebellion which might yet be smouldering there. As I have before remarked, the way taken to produce the desired result was anything but effectual. I was very nearly being deprived of my new command in a somewhat summary way by the sinking of my vessel. A terrifically heavy gale of wind sprang up on the night of the 21st, and first driving one of the larger prizes foul of her, which carried away my fore and cross-jack yards, fore channels, both quarters and best bower-anchor, (such a grinding and crushing and crashing I never before got on board any craft); scarcely was she clear when another craft came thundering down aboard of me, and very nearly completed the work which the other had commenced. However, I did manage to swim while several other vessels drove on shore and were, with all their crews, lost. For several days after that I was employed in refitting my ship for sea.

On the 25th I proceeded with my convoy of prizes to Portsmouth, and when there, General Arnold sent for me and informed me that the commodore had assured him I should immediately sail in the Rattlesnake for New York with despatches for Sir Henry Clinton. After he had handed me his despatches I took my departure. He informed me of their contents that, should I be compelled to throw them overboard, I might be able to give a verbal report to Sir Henry of the wants of the army. Those wants were not a few. More guns, ammunition, food and clothing,--all were required.

On reaching Sewel's Point, where I brought up to receive the commodore's despatches, I was surprised to receive an order to return immediately and to give back those entrusted to me by General Arnold. This order originated, I afterwards discovered, in consequence of some unaccountable disagreement which had arisen between the general and the admiral. General Arnold said nothing when I gave him back his despatches, but he looked not a little angry and astonished. When the heads fell out it is not surprising that want of success was the result of their undertakings. My journal is full of various little incidents which happened at this time. The Charlestown and Hope captured in the Chesapeake a rich fleet of eight rebel merchantmen bound for the Havannah. The lieutenant of the Swift was made prisoner in consequence of an illegal use of a flag of truce. Several officers and men were blown up when chasing a rebel brig, and an artillery officer, heading a foraging party, was killed. The squadron was kept on the alert by an account brought by the General Monk sloop-of-war of a French ship of the line and two frigates having sailed from Rhode Island, it was supposed, for the Chesapeake.

Once more, on the 31st, the old Charon, during a heavy gale of wind, drove on shore, but by great and prompt exertion was got off. To keep her in countenance, when on the 5th of February I sailed with my prizes under convoy of the Charlestown for New York, on going down the West Branch I also got on shore, but succeeded in quickly getting off again. I had no little trouble in keeping the prizes in order. The Americans left on board one of them persuaded the people to side with them, and they ran her on shore, purposing to give her up to the rebels. I went in chase of her, fired several shots into her, and then, manning one of my boats, boarded her, captured her crew, who had been unable to escape, and got her off, made sail with my recaptured prize, and rejoined the fleet at midnight, when I put the mutineers on board the Charlestown, to be dealt with according to martial law.

On the 11th, at night, finding the "Langolee," one of my prizes, some distance astern, and suspecting that she was about to give us the slip, I dropped astern, and, taking her in tow, brought her into the middle of the fleet. At midnight, however, a heavy gust of wind compelled me to cut the hawser and clap before it. With the small crew I had I found no little difficulty in handing my sails, which, after some time having done, I struck topgallant yards and masts and lay-to under a close-reefed mainsail. Once having made the ship snug I endeavoured to discover the whereabouts of the rest of the convoy, but not a trace of them could I discover. I hoped, however, with the morning light to make them out. When the cold-grey dawn spread over the ocean and I went aloft not a sail was in sight.

"This is no great misfortune," said I to Grampus when I came on deck. "The Rattlesnake is a prime sailer, and by taking advantage of the winds we shall reach New York much sooner than if we had been obliged to whip up the convoy. We are a match, too, for any of the smaller rebel vessels we are likely to fall in with, and we must run away from the bigger ones."

"That may be, sir," answered the old man, "but d'ye see, sir, I've no great opinion of this here craft if it was to come on any long course of bad weather. I've a notion she's an old craft, and I doubt much the soundness of her timbers and planks."

I was rather inclined to laugh at Nol's prognostication, and thought no more about his remarks. Before, however, many hours had passed, the gale, which had hitherto been blowing pretty steadily, increased in fury; the sea ran very high, and the spray, as it broke on board, froze hard on deck and sheathed the rigging in ice. When short-handed this is very trying, as double the strength is required to make the running rigging work. Happily we were under snug canvas, for I do not think we could have made or shortened sail. Towards evening Grampus came up to me with a look of concern in his countenance.

"I told you so, sir," he said, touching his hat. "The old ship has sprung a leak. She has not lost time in letting in the water, for there are four feet already in the hold."

Immediately on hearing this appalling news I gave orders to man the pumps, but it was at once found, to our further dismay, that they were useless, for they were choked with ice. Since the gale sprang up we had been unable to light a fire. In vain for a long time we tried. Without boiling water or a hot iron it was impossible to clear the pumps. The water was rapidly gaining on us. There seemed every probability of the ship sinking under our feet. Such has been the fate of many poor fellows--to have gone down in a cold, icy sea, hope and help far away. Such was the risk I had often before run, but never before had the expectation of it been brought so prominently before me. Never before had I, it seemed, so much to lose. Never so much to which to look forward with hope. Our efforts to light the fire became more and more frantic. At last I bethought me of applying salt to the ice in the pumps. We fortunately had a good supply of it on board. By forcing the salt down with a long iron the ice was melted, and the pumps at length got to act. Frantically we pumped away with our two pumps. We sounded the well; the water had decreased. This gave us courage to continue our exertions. At length we were able to keep the ship free. Still the gale continued, and I had my apprehensions, from the condition of the ship, that another leak might yet be sprung and all our efforts prove vain. Even a winter gale of wind in those latitudes off the American coast must come to an end, and this, by the morning of the 5th, sufficiently abated to allow me to set the fore and main stay-sails. I then stood towards the land. At noon Rockets came into my cabin, where I had gone to snatch a few minutes' sleep, and reported a ship and two schooners in sight.

"An enemy, I'll warrant," I said to myself testily. "I shall be driven out to sea again, or perhaps, after all, fall into their hands."

Still I stood towards them, ready to make all sail to escape should my suspicions be realised. I could not make them out. When I got within signalising distance I made the private signal, and great was my satisfaction to find in answer that the ship was the Charlestown, and the schooners two of the convoy.

The next day we made the high land of Neversink, and that evening reached the entrance of New York harbour. It was with the greatest difficulty, however, that we could work our way into it, so full was it of floating ice, through which it was often scarcely possible to steer. The other prizes which had parted company with me in the gale arrived all safe three days afterwards. The accommodations of one of the prizes, the Charity Brig, being much superior to those of the Rattlesnake, I took up my quarters on board her. I invited also some of the more gentlemanly and pleasant of the midshipmen to live on board her also, so that we were able to form an agreeable society among ourselves. At New York there was none in which we could mix with any satisfaction. Whenever I went on shore I did not fail to visit the house of my old Dutch friend, the widow Von Tromp. It was already so crowded with soldier officers that I could not live there altogether, had I been so disposed, but in truth I preferred remaining on board ship with my brother-officers. As I was allowed a guinea a day for my table I was able to live in comparative luxury and comfort.

On the 10th we began to discharge our prizes, which were loaded with tobacco. On clearing the Rattlesnake I had indeed reason to be thankful that I and those who had been with me on board were still in the land of the living. Her entire bottom was completely rotten, and all who saw her were astonished that she had made the passage from Portsmouth to New York. It seemed a miracle that the water had been kept out of her. Her whole bottom had to be replanked before she was again fit to put to sea. This is only one of the numberless escapes from destruction which I have had during my life.

The widow Von Tromp was delighted to see me, and especially interested in all I had to tell her. I was amused with her notions about the war. Her sympathies were evidently with the American party, but at present she assuredly reaped no small profit from the custom which the military brought to her house. She tried sore to reconcile the two opinions--she wished well to the patriots, and yet she was in no hurry to see the war brought to an end. Often since have I seen people on more serious matters halting between two opinions.

"Ah me, Mr Hurry, I wish the war were ended and my dear friends from the south would come back, but den dees nice young officers all go away and I see dem no more! Oh, it is vary sad, vary sad!" she used to exclaim, after descanting on the liberality of her guests. "But den you come back, Mr Hurry; member dat. You always come and see de widow Von Tromp."

Of course I promised, and intended faithfully to fulfil my promise, little dreaming at that time the course which events would take.

Having discharged faithfully and, as I hoped, to the satisfaction of all concerned, the duty on which I had been sent, I requested the commanding officer of the port that he would enable me and my people to return to the Charon by the first opportunity. Just as I had done so I called on board the Chatham, now commanded by my old friend Captain Hudson, with whom I sailed in the Orpheus. He received me most kindly, and informing me that two of his lieutenants were sick in the hospital, requested that I would perform the duty of first lieutenant on board till I could rejoin my own ship. Anxious as I was, for private reasons, to get to the south, I could not refuse his request. I accordingly at once went on board with my people and commenced the duty of first lieutenant, and pretty hard duty it was; but it is a satisfaction to me to feel that I never refused, during the whole course of my naval career, any duty offered me, however hard or irksome it might have promised to be.

On the 18th of March we sailed from Sandy Hook for the southward, having under our orders the following fleet, viz. Chatham, Roebuck, Raleigh, Bonetta, Savage, Halifax, Vulcan, fire-ship, with a number of transports, which had on board two thousand troops under the command of General Phillips, who had not long before been released by a cartel concluded a few months previously with the enemy. We were going, I found, to the assistance of General Arnold, who was under very serious apprehensions of being overwhelmed by a French fleet with an expedition on board, which it was supposed had sailed from Rhode Island to attack him.

On the 18th we spoke the Pearl and Iris, from which ships we learned that an action had been fought a few days before between the British fleet, under Admiral Arbuthnot, and the French fleet from Rhode Island. Although pretty fairly matched as to numbers the general opinion was that the English ships should have done much more than they did. They drove back the French and prevented them from reaching the Chesapeake before our arrival, but not a Frenchman was sunk or taken, whereas I believe that Admiral Arbuthnot might have followed, cut up, and dispersed the whole French squadron had he possessed the spirit which should animate the bosom of every officer in the service. His only excuse was that some of the ships under his command had suffered in the late hurricane, and that the crews were worn out in their exertions to repair damages and put again to sea. I would gladly see the accounts of such engagements expunged from the annals of English history.

We arrived at Lynhaven Bay in the Chesapeake on the 28th, and found Admiral Arbuthnot's squadron lying there repairing the damages of the late action. On the next day I rejoined the Charon, having been absent from her nine weeks. I was now in hopes of being able to get on shore to make inquiries for Colonel Carlyon and his daughter, but as I found that we were every moment expecting to sail in search of the French fleet I was compelled to restrain my impatience and to endure as I best could all the anxiety I felt about them.

If you like this book please share to your friends :

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 26 Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 26

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 26
CHAPTER TWENTY SIX A CRUISE.--LEAVE THE CHESAPEAKE.--NEW YORK.--PRESS-GANGS AT WORK.--CRUEL SCENES.--EVIL TIDINGS FROM HOME.--BRITISH TAKE POSSESSION OF YORK TOWN.--PREPARATIONS FOR DEFENCE.--A DANGEROUS TRIP.--MORE LOSSES--A NARROW ESCAPE.--SLIGHT HOPES OF SUCCESS. At this period of the American war both parties seemed so equally balanced that it appeared doubtful which after all would come off successful in the contest. The superior discipline of the British, and the experience and talent of their generals, had frequently obtained for them the victory in the expeditions which had of late been undertaken. General Arnold's plans had hitherto never failed in Virginia. Lord Rawdon had obtained

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 24 Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 24

Hurricane Hurry - Chapter 24