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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Three Midshipmen - Chapter 4. Alas, Poor Paddy!
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The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 4. Alas, Poor Paddy! Post by :gfranklin Category :Long Stories Author :William H. G. Kingston Date :May 2012 Read :1234

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The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 4. Alas, Poor Paddy!


The night was very dark: Jack and Murray and their companions, in perfect silence, climbed up the rugged precipice which formed the outworks of the island fortress. They knocked their knees and cut their shins against the sharp points of the rocks, and scratched their hands and faces with the thorny plants which grew out of the crevices; but, undeterred by these obstacles, they boldly scrambled on till they saw some figures moving above them, and a shower of stones came rattling down on their heads.

"Powder is scarce among the pirates, I suppose, that they treat us in this way," remarked Jack, as he was nearly knocked over by a stone striking his shoulder.

"Yes; these Greek heroes are defending their stronghold as the Tyrolese defended their Alpine homes," answered Murray; "but come along, we shall soon have them at close quarters."

"Hurrah! the enemy have found us out. Fire the rocket down there below!" shouted the lieutenant in command. The order was quickly conveyed to the boat, and up flew a rocket with a loud hiss through the darkness, its bright stream of light forming a beautiful curve over the fortress. All necessity for silence was now over, the men shouted and cheered and cut many a joke at each other's mishaps as they clambered on up the height, some of them slipping half the way down again, as, indifferent to danger, they too carelessly attempted to scale unscalable rocks. Still the whole body, by no small exertion, foot by foot, worked their upward way till they reached the summit. What was next going to happen? The enemy, it was evident, had a due respect for British courage, for they had fled from the ramparts and undoubtedly had taken up a stronger position in the interior of the fortress. Perhaps they had formed a mine ready to spring, and the idea that such might be the case created a few very uncomfortable sensations in the breasts of some of the assailants. To feel the ground shaking under the feet during an earthquake is far from agreeable, but it is a mere pleasant excitement compared to the feelings a person experiences, when he knows that at any moment he may be lifted off his legs and blown up into the sky in company with some dozen wagon-loads of stones and earth, and bricks and mortar, and beams and rubbish of all descriptions. I do not know that Jack allowed such an idea to trouble him much, and if Murray thought about the matter it did not make him hang back at all events; for on he and all the rest pushed to meet the enemy. Had they made any calculations on the subject, they would have found that it is better to move quickly across dangerous ground just as it is to skate rapidly over thin ice. The shouts and cheers of the seamen, it appeared, had struck terror into the hearts of the pirates, for they did not come forth from their places of concealment. The storming-party passed by some low huts, but no one was within, and then they came to an open space. Just then, through the gloom, they caught sight of a band emerging from behind some buildings opposite, and advancing boldly to defend the place. They themselves, apparently being hidden by the dark shade of the huts, were not seen. So, waiting a little, out they rushed, clearing the open space at full speed to meet the pirates. Pistols were flashing, cutlasses were clashing in an instant of time, and all parties were engaged to their hearts' content in a desperate struggle. Jack descried a young pirate, as his size showed him to be, on the right of the party, and they at once, as if by mutual consent, singled each other out, and were instantly hot at work like the rest, slashing away with their cutlasses most desperately. "Yield, you young pirate, yield!" sang out Jack, finding that he could gain no advantage over his opponent.

"Pirate! I'm no more pirate than you are," was the reply, in a voice which Jack instantly recognised as that of Paddy Adair, whose skull he had been endeavouring so hard to split.

"Oh! Paddy, is that you?" cried Jack. "Well, I'm so glad that I didn't hurt you. But I say, old fellow, if you are not a pirate, where are the rascals? Let's go and find them out."

"Hillo! what's all this about?" sang out Mr Thorn. "Why, Hemming, is that you? I thought you were pirates."

"I paid you the same compliment, sir," answered the old mate, with a slight touch of irony in his tone, for Mr Thorn had just shot off the rim of his cap. "You very nearly spoilt my beauty by mistake."

"I am very sorry for that, Hemming," answered the lieutenant coolly; "but I wonder where the fellows have got to. We must rout them out."

Fortunately, the most serious injury inflicted was to Hemming's cap, and, as Paddy afterwards declared (not very correctly, as they had found no one to conquer), the victorious party hurried off in search of fresh enemies. They soon came to the door of a large building; it was bolted and barred. "The pirates are inside here, my lads, there can be no doubt of it," shouted Mr Thorn. They soon found a spar, a brig's topmast. The heel made a capital battering-ram, and with a cheery "Yeo, ho, ho!" the seamen gave many a heavy blow against the oaken door. It cracked and cracked and groaned, and at length, with a loud bang, burst open. "Stand by, my lads, to cut down the fellows as they rush out," cried Lieutenant Thorn; but as the pirates did not come out, the sailors, following their officers, cutlass in hand, rushed in. They found themselves in a large hall; they looked about for the ferocious pirates armed to the teeth, and resolved with the last drop of their blood to defend their hearths and homes. Loud shrieks and cries, however, assailed the ears of the seamen, and by the glare of a brazier of burning coals in the middle of the apartment they beheld three old women. Their appearance was not attractive; they were very thin and parchment-like, and dark; but they might have been very good old bodies for all that. They had, distaff in hand, been sitting, spinning, and talking over affairs in general, if not those of their neighbours, when they had been aroused by the unwelcome sounds of the battering-ram. While the door resisted its efforts they had prudently kept quiet, but when it gave way, they expressed their very natural fears by the sounds which had reached the seamen's ears. As the storming-party advanced, they shrieked louder and louder, but did not run away, because apparently there was no where to run to.

"Don't be frightened, missis," exclaimed Hemming, taking one of them by the arm. "Tell us where the men are, whose heads we have come to break. We won't hurt you."

The old ladies, however, made no reply to this assurance; but only screamed on, probably because they did not understand English. As no one of the party spoke a word of Greek, there was little chance of any information being obtained from the ancient dames. Perhaps they had an object in screaming, to cover the retreat of their friends; so thought Lieutenant Thorn, because if the pirates were not in the fort, who else could have pitched down the stones on their heads as they scrambled up? Certainly not the three old women; that would have been a disgrace. They would not have had time even to have hobbled away and retreated to the place where they were found. Many of the men declared vehemently that they had seen the heads of the pirates, long-bearded fellows, looking over the ramparts, and that they could not be, even then, very far off. Accordingly, leaving Murray with a couple of sailors to look after the three old women, the two parties of seamen, under their respective officers, once more divided to go in search of the outlaws.

"I say, Jack, don't you take me for a pirate again, if you please," said Terence, as they separated. They wandered about in all directions, putting their noses into huts, and their cutlasses into heaps of straw and litter of all sorts; but the whole place seemed deserted. They found nothing. Perhaps this was because they had no torch, and the night was very dark. Already a few faint streaks of daylight were appearing in the sky, when, as Terence was standing near Hemming, a trampling of feet was heard, and loud shouts in the distance.

"Hurrah! here come the Greeks, they have been routed out at last," cried Paddy. They could just make out a body of men stooping down, they thought, and hurrying towards them, not seeing that their enemies were ready to intercept them.

"Cut them down, if they don't yield themselves prisoners," sang out Hemming, leading on his men. Paddy sprang on boldly, in his eagerness to meet the foe, and instantly afterwards was knocked head over heels by one of his opponents. He felt as if he had been run through by a bayonet or a pike, or something of that sort, though he could not make out exactly where he had been wounded. There was a terrific shouting in the rear of the enemy, and he had no difficulty in recognising the voices of his shipmates, especially those of Jack and Murray. The shouts came nearer and nearer. He picked himself up to see what had become of the enemy, but they were nowhere to be found. Instead of them, a flock of goats, chased by Mr Thorn's party, and frightened by their shouts, were butting away with heroic valour at anybody and everybody who came in their way, while daylight revealed the laughing countenances of his friends, who had seen his overthrow and the enemy which caused it. Paddy did not much mind, however. He rubbed himself over, and finding that he had no bones broken, or any puncture in his body, burst into a loud laugh.

"I shouldn't be surprised but that those are the very fellows with the long beards we saw standing at the top of the ramparts, and whom everybody took for pirates," he exclaimed. "As they turned round to scamper away, they kicked the stones down over us. We are all in one box, that's a comfort. No one can laugh at the other." Thus Adair very adroitly turned the laugh from himself. Every one acknowledged the probable correctness of his surmises, but still Mr Thorn thought it right to continue his search for the outlaws. No information could be obtained from their fair captives, as Paddy called them. There could be little doubt that there must have been very lately a number of men in the fort, for it could not be supposed that three old women would be left as the regular garrison of a pretty strong fortification. They were still continuing their search, when daylight revealed to them a couple of boats under all sail, standing away to the northward, and by the course they were steering looking as if they must but a short time before have left the island. Mr Thorn ordering Hemming to take charge of the place, leaving him Rogers and a few more men, hurried down the height, to go in pursuit of the flying enemy.

"Remember the captain's orders were, that we were to attack and make prisoners of the men alone, but that goods of every description and all private property is to be strictly respected."

"Ay, ay, sir," answered Hemming, meaning that he understood the orders received.

Hunting about they discovered a very steep winding path down to the harbour. By it Mr Thorn and his followers descended to their boats, and away they went in hot pursuit of the pirates. The wind was light, but as they could both pull as well as sail, they made tolerable way after the chase. Meantime the party in charge of the fort became very hungry, and as they had left their provisions in the boats, it was necessary to send for them. Adair accordingly, with a couple of men, was despatched on this duty. He had no great difficulty in finding his way, as he could see from one end of the island to the other, and he soon reached the top of the cliff, below which the boats had been left; he looked over the edge of the cliff, but he could discover no boats. He hallooed to the boat-keepers, but there was no answer.

"They must be asleep, Mr Adair," observed one of the men.

"So I might think if I saw any boats," answered Terence. "But the boats are not there, I am sure."

To ascertain the fact, however, more certainly, they descended to the beach. No boats were to be seen. They looked behind the points of rock on either side, but no boats were visible. They shouted at the top of their voices, but the only sound in reply was the shriek of some sea-fowl, startled from their resting-places in the cliffs.

"Have we got to the right spot, do you think?" suggested Terence, hope springing up in his breast that they had made a mistake.

"No doubt about it, sir," was the answer; "I remember climbing up through this very gap; there are the marks of our feet plain enough."

"And the marks of a good many other feet too," observed Terence, examining the ground. "I am very much afraid that the boats have been run away with by the pirates; but what can have become of our poor shipmates, I cannot think."

His men agreed with him in the opinion that the pirates must have made off with the boats; and, after searching about in every direction for the poor fellows who had been left in charge of them, they returned to the fort with the unsatisfactory news. All hands had, in the meantime, grown ravenously hungry. The old women could not, or would not, give them any food. At all events, they turned a deaf ear to all their hints and signs that it would be acceptable. Some very black dry bread was discovered, and also some fowls, but no eggs were to be seen; and fowls, Mr Hemming was afraid, would be looked upon as private property. What was to be done? The provisions from the boats would soon arrive, and then they might lawfully satisfy their appetites. I forgot to say that Mr Dobbin, the mate of the merchantman which had been plundered, had come to try and identify the stolen property. While storming the fort, he had been as active as any one, and showed that had there been work to be done he was the fellow to do it. To employ the time till they could get some breakfast, Hemming determined to commence a systematic search for the stolen property. They hunted and hunted about with great zeal, examining every hut and every heap of rubbish.

"I wonder, after all, if this is the place the pirates are accustomed to hide in," observed Jack. "It would be a sell if we had made a mistake altogether."

"What could have put that into your head, Rogers?" exclaimed Hemming, feeling rather queer. "Oh, no! there's no doubt about it."

Still, as he got more and more hungry, and searched still farther in vain, his spirits began to sink to zero, and he could lot help believing that Jack might be right. Just then here was a shout from some of the party. They were standing before a dilapidated hut, the door of which they had broken open. Presently the mate of the merchantman appeared dragging out a bale of goods.

"Hurrah! we have not searched for nothing!" he exclaimed. "There seems to be a good bit of the ship's cargo in here."

A number of valuable bales of cotton and cloth, and some silk, were hauled forth, all of which the mate identified as having formed part of the cargo of his ship. Still there was a very large part of the missing property not forthcoming. Nothing else was found for some time, till one of the men, of an inquisitive turn of mind, happened to poke his head into one of the pigsties, where, in the farthest corner, his eye fell on several bales piled up one above the other to the roof. The clue to the sort of place in which the well-known ingenuity of the Greeks had taught them to conceal their booty once being discovered, a considerable amount more was brought to light. Still much was missing. Just then Adair and his men were seen returning.

"Hurrah I now we'll have breakfast," cried Jack, who declared that he could eat a porcupine or a crocodile, outside and all, he was so hungry. What was his dismay, and that of all the party, when they found that no food was forthcoming, and that the boats were not to be found. Just then their hunger was most pressing, and they left the subject of what had become of the boats for after consideration. The brown bread by itself was very uninviting. Jack looked at a fat pig in the sty with the eye of an ogre.

"Is it possible that the pirates could have stuffed some of the silks and laces inside that huge porker, Hemming?" asked Jack, "I've heard of some Flanders mares coming across the Channel stuffed up to the mouth with lace," observed Adair.

"If it were possible, I think we should be right to search that pig," said Hemming, looking very hard at the unconscious object under discussion, who went grunting on, asking somewhat loudly for food.

"There's no doubt about it," cried the mate of the merchantman. "She'll make prime pork chops too."

The men had been meantime collecting sticks and lighting a fire: perhaps they shrewdly guessed how the discussion might end.

"Here, butcher, you'll understand how to cut that pig up better than any of us, so as to see what is in her inside," said Hemming. In a very short time the fat pig was converted into pork, and some prime chops were frizzling and hissing away before the fire. No laces or satins were found inside, but instead some very delicious pig's fry, which, under the circumstances, was perhaps more acceptable, especially as the laces would, I think, have been spoilt had they been stuffed down the pig's throat. The old women made a great lamentation when they saw their pig being killed, but they were pacified by having some of the chops presented to them, and then they produced some salt, and some better bread, and some lemons, and plates, and knives, and forks, which latter were of silver. Their female hearts evidently softened when they found that no harm was done to them, and that killing the pig was a case of necessity; and though they were not communicative, simply from want of language to express themselves, they chattered away to each other most vehemently. They spread a table in the hall where they had been first seen, and seemed to wish to do their best to serve their uninvited guests. The seamen made very merry over their feast of pig, though they were rather in want of something to wash it down. Poor fellows! they had neither tea nor coffee. At length the old ladies produced a jar of arrack--very vile stuff it was, but the seamen would have drunk it without stint had Mr Hemming allowed them. He, however, interposed, and insisted on serving out only a little at a time to a few of the men. The effect was such as to make him jump up and kick over the jar, by which all the liquor was spilt, very much to the disappointment of those who had not had any.

"I don't mean to say that these respectable old ladies put anything into the spirits, but somebody did, and you would have been very sorry for yourselves if you had taken much of it," he observed, as he reseated himself.

This little incident rather astonished the old ladies, but not understanding what was said, they took it to be the effect of pure accident, and continued as attentive as before.

"When the boats come back, you shall have your grog, my lads," said Hemming; "in the meantime, if any of you are thirsty, there's a well of cool water. The pirates will scarcely have thought of poisoning that."

By the time the feast was concluded, very little of the pig remained; the seamen declared that they had never eaten better pork in their lives. The rest of the day was spent in searching for stolen property, though only a few bales of merchandise were discovered, stowed away here and there, in the oddest places imaginable. Meantime Hemming and Jack began to be somewhat anxious about Mr Thorn and the boats. Evening was coming on, and they ought long before to have returned. In vain the old mate and the midshipman scanned the horizon. Not a sail was to be seen approaching the island. Two or three vessels only passed far away in the offing. Many other rocky isles were rising out of the ocean like blue mounds, some of them faint and misty from the distance they were off. Towards one of them the boats had directed their course. It was well-known that many of them were, and had been for ages, the haunts of pirates.

"I say, Hemming, suppose Mr Thorn has been entrapped by some of those piratical fellows out there; what will become of them, I wonder?" said Jack.

"We shall have to go and hunt them out," was the answer. "The pirates will scarcely venture to hurt them."

The evening drew on and darkness returned, and still no boats made their appearance. Mr Hemming, who was really a very good officer, especially when in command, and when he felt the responsibility of his position, had a strict watch kept all night, for he thought it probable that some of the pirates might be hid in the island, and, when they found how few were left in charge of the fort, might attempt a surprise to recover the booty. The night, however, passed away quietly, and in the morning Jack was despatched in the cutter to carry information of what had occurred to the frigate. Jack had a long pull, for the wind was contrary. He kept his eyes about him all the way, looking into every nook and corner, for he could not tell in which a pirate-boat might have taken shelter, and he thought it more than likely that one might suddenly pounce out and try to capture him. None appeared. This, however, did not make him less cautious for the future. One of the many pieces of advice given him by Admiral Triton was never to despise an enemy, and always to take every precaution against surprise. A soldier or sailor in war time should always sleep with one eye open, and his arms in his hands, the Admiral used to say, speaking somewhat metaphorically. The foolhardy folly which had made many officers neglect proper precautions, has caused the destruction of many brave men, as well as the failure of many important enterprises. At last Jack reached the frigate. Captain Lascelles was very much vexed at hearing of the loss of the boats. He instantly ordered the _Racer to be got under weigh to go in search of them. It was very intricate navigation among those isles and islets and rocks, especially at night, but the wind was fair, and there was a moon to shed her pale light over the ocean. The lead was kept constantly going, and hands were stationed aloft as lookouts. The _Racer had got just off the island of which Hemming was left in charge, when a lookout forward announced a boat on the starboard bow. The boat was pulling towards them, and the frigate being hove-to, she came alongside, and Alick Murray appeared on board. He reported that they had overtaken the pirates who were in possession of the boats close to a rocky island, and were on the point of capturing them when half a dozen boats started out and completely turned the fortunes of the day. On this, Mr Thorn, seeing that they must inevitably be overpowered, ordered him to endeavour to make his escape, and to give notice of what had occurred. This, though pursued, he had been able to do. Jack having reported the starving state of the garrison, a boat was sent with provisions and men to ascertain also how Hemming and his party were getting on. She returned in half a hour with a favourable report, bringing off Mr Dobbin, the mate of the merchantman, and the frigate then continued her course for the second piratical stronghold. She did not come off it till near noon the next day, and then had to sail twice round it before a landing-place could be discovered. Some little anxiety was felt for the fate of Mr Thorn and his men, for the pirates were not supposed to be gentlemen who stood on ceremony as to the treatment of their prisoners.

"If they dare to injure our people, the Greeks well know that we would sweep every one of them off their rock into the sea," said Captain Lascelles. "Clemency on such an occasion is cruelty to others."

Scarcely had the frigate hove-to off what appeared to be a little harbour, than a boat with a white flag was seen coming out of it. In ten minutes a splendidly dressed Greek came up the side armed with a handsomely chased sword and pistols, and a red cap set jauntily on one side.

"Can any one speak Italian?" he asked, in a soft tone, in that beautiful language.

"Yes, I can," answered Captain Lascelles.

"Then, sir, I have to make great complaints of ill-treatment from your people," replied the Greek; and he made out a long story to the effect that he, a quiet, respectable landowner, whose sole aim was to cultivate in peace a few acres of land descended to him from a long line of illustrious ancestors, that he had been insulted, attacked by an aimed force, suspected of robbery, of which he was incapable; that some of his poor peasants, in their horror and alarm, finding some boats, had jumped into them and induced their crews to assist in pulling them to a neighbouring island, hoping there to be safe; that they had been pursued, and that then, and not till then, had they been compelled to resort to some gentle force for their own protection. While the Greek was speaking, Mr Dobbin came up behind him, and made signs that he was the very man who had plundered their brig.

"Why, sir, the master of an English merchantman complains that you ill-treated his people and robbed his vessel."

"_O Signori, impossibile_; that I should be guilty of such an act!" and the Greek smiled sweetly and put his hand on his heart.

For a moment he was, however, a little taken aback when Mr Dobbin, stepping forward and confronting him, said, "Do you know me?"

"_Ah si, adesso me ricordo_! Ah yes, now I recollect," said the Greek, with a bland smile. "But you shall judge, sir, how unjustly I am accused. I did lately take charge of a brig for a friend. I was suffering from want of water and bread. See the deceitfulness of the world; I asked it humbly, they gave it willingly, and at the same time this certificate," and he produced the paper signed by the master of the brig. The impudence of the Greek almost overcame the captain's composure.

"Notwithstanding that paper, I must detain you," he observed.

"What! Detain an independent chieftain, who comes on board your ship under the sacred protection of a flag of truce, a thing unheard of by all civilised nations," exclaimed the Greek in a tone of indignation and astonishment; "no, no, you will not do that."

The Greek was right; Captain Lascelles would not do a wrong even to obtain an undoubted right. The Greek knew that he had outwitted us. The result was that he undertook to send the boats and their crews on board the frigate unharmed, on condition that the island was not attacked by an armed force. To these terms Captain Lascelles was obliged to consent. Mr Thorn and Murray soon came back, very well, but very much vexed at what had occurred. The island was afterwards searched, but nothing was found, and the _Racer_, having taken on board all the recovered booty, conveyed it to Corfu, where the merchantman was waiting to receive it. After a month or so, when the frigate got back to Malta, Captain Lascelles found that the independent Greek chieftain had lodged a complaint to the effect that his cattle and poultry had been wantonly destroyed. On inquiry, the matter resolved itself into the slaughter of the pig. It came out that Jack and Adair had proposed the crime. The Admiral at the time thought it better to take no notice of the affair. However, he soon after invited the two midshipmen to dine with him, and both of them found themselves served with rather a large helping of roast pork.

"You are fond of pig, young gentlemen, are you not?" said the Admiral, with a laugh in his eye.

"Yes, sir, very, especially when I have to kill one in the line of duty, and am ravenously hungry into the bargain," answered Paddy, with all the simplicity of an Irishman. The Admiral laughed, and as he was fond of a joke, and knew both Lord Derrynane and Admiral Triton, he often asked the two youngsters for the sake of passing it off and telling the story about the pig and the pirates.

Soon after this Jack and Terence met with a severe trial. For the first time since they came to sea they were separated, and Adair was appointed to a ten-gun brig, the _Onyx_. Happily that class of vessels no longer exists in the navy. They obtained the unattractive title of sea-coffins, from the number of them which had been lost with all hands. They carried a heavy weight of metal on deck, had but little beam, but were rigged with taut masts and very square yards. Still these circumstances did not trouble Adair half as much as parting from Jack and Murray.

The frigate and the brig were sent to cruise in different directions, and for several months did not meet.

"A brig of war is in sight," said Jack, entering the captain's cabin, sent by the officer of the watch; "she has made her number the _Onyx_."

"Signalise her to heave-to when she nears us," said Captain Lascelles. "I will be on deck presently." In a short time another signal was run up. It was to invite the captain and officers of the brig to dine on board the frigate. It was very readily accepted, and in a short time the tall frigate and her little companion might have been seen quietly floating near each other, their sails scarcely filled by the light breeze, and their rigging and hulls reflected vividly in the calm water. The midshipmen had a great deal to talk about, and numerous adventures to describe more interesting to themselves than to anybody else. They had a very merry party also in the midshipmen's berth, and all were sorry to find that it was time for the officers of the brig to return on board. When Captain Lascelles and his party came on deck he cast his eye round the horizon.

"I do not like the look of the sky out there," he remarked, pointing with his hand to the eastward. "Captain Sims, I must advise you to get on board as soon as possible and shorten sail, or your brig will be caught in a squall before you are ready." Captain Sims was not a man fond of rapid movement, but on this occasion he saw that no time was to be lost.

"Good-bye, Paddy," said Jack; "take care of yourself aboard the little hooker there, and we'll have many a jovial day together before long."

"Good-bye, Rogers; good-bye, Murray; good-bye, old fellows," answered Terence.

"The brig is a jolly little craft, in spite of what they call her."

"What's that?" asked Murray.

"The sea-coffin," answered Terence, as they shoved off. The two boats which had brought the captain and his officers made the best of their way to the brig. They were soon close to her. The white cloud had meantime been growing larger and larger, and yet there was scarcely a breath of wind. Many on board the frigate did not believe even that a squall was brewing. Suddenly the clouds, as if impelled by some mighty impulse, came rushing on, not in a direct line, but with a circular motion, towards the spot where lay the two ships of war.

"All hands shorten sail," cried the first lieutenant. "Man the fore and main clew-garnets, spanker brails--topsail-halyards--clew up--haul down, let fly of all." These and sundry other orders followed in rapid succession. The squall, seeming to gain rapidity as it advanced, struck the frigate before it was expected. Jack and Murray had hurried with others to their stations aloft, and were endeavouring as rapidly as they could to get those orders they received executed, but the exertions of all were insufficient to take the canvas off the ship in time. Over heeled the frigate on her beam end, the water rushing in at her lee ports--some of the sails were split to ribbons, sheets and halyards were flying loose, and a scene of confusion prevailed such as she had never before been in. The whole surface of the ocean was a mass of white foam, surrounded by which the ship lay an almost helpless wreck. The helm was put up but she would not answer it.

"We shall have to cut away the mizen-mast," observed the captain. "But we'll try and make head sail on her first." This was done. A suppressed shout of satisfaction showed that she felt its power, and away she flew like a sea-bird before the squall, the darkness of night coming on to bide all surrounding objects from their view. Then, and not till then, had any one time to turn a glance towards the _Onyx_. Not a glimpse of her was to be seen. Jack and Murray had watched the boats get alongside, and they were on the point of being hoisted in when the squall struck the frigate. Both of them had a sad apprehension that they had seen the masts of the brig bending down before the squall, but so great at the moment was the uproar and confusion that it appeared more like the vision of a dream than a reality. The instant the squall blew over, the frigate beat back towards the spot where, as far as it could be calculated, the brig had last been seen. Had she bore up she must have been passed. In vain every eye on board was engaged in looking out for her. All night long the frigate tacked backwards and forwards. Not a trace of her could be discovered. Daylight returned; the sun arose; his glorious beams played joyfully over the blue surface of the ocean just rippled by a summer's breeze, but it was too evident that all those they sought and the gay little craft they manned lay engulfed beneath its treacherous bosom.

"There's one of us gone," said Jack, as he bent his head down over the table of the berth to hide his face. "Poor Paddy!"

Murray said nothing, but his countenance was very sad.

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CHAPTER FIVE. ROASTING THE BULLY The midshipmen were aroused by the cry of "All hands shorten sail!" The boatswain's whistle had not ceased sounding along the decks before Jack and Murray were on their way aloft, the first to the fore, the other to the maintop they were stationed. A heavy squall had struck the frigate, and she was heeling over with her main-deck ports almost in the water. Up they flew with the topmen to their respective stations, while the officer of the watch was shouting through his speaking-trumpet. "Let go topgallant-halyards. Clew up, haul

The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 1. Early Days The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 1. Early Days

The Three Midshipmen - Chapter 1. Early Days
CHAPTER ONE. EARLY DAYS Ours was a capital school, though it was not a public one. It was not far from London, so that a coach could carry us down there in little more than an hour from the _White Horse Cellar_, Piccadilly. On the top of the posts, at each side of the gates, were two eagles; fine large birds I thought them. They looked out on a green, fringed with tall elms, beyond which was our cricket-field. A very magnificent red-brick old house rose behind the eagles, full of windows belonging to our sleeping-rooms.