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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesThe Water-witch; Or The Skimmer Of The Seas - Chapter 26
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The Water-witch; Or The Skimmer Of The Seas - Chapter 26 Post by :imported_n/a Category :Long Stories Author :James Fenimore Cooper Date :May 2012 Read :1029

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The Water-witch; Or The Skimmer Of The Seas - Chapter 26

Chapter XXVI

"If it were done when 'tis done, then 'twere well
It were done quickly--"

Macbeth.


The words of the immortal poet, with which, in deference to an ancient usage in the literature of the language, we have prefaced the incidents to be related in this chapter, are in perfect conformity with that governing maxim of a vessel, which is commonly found embodied in its standing orders, and which prescribes the necessity of exertion and activity in the least of its operations. A strongly-manned ship, like a strong-armed man, is fond of showing its physical power, for it is one of the principal secrets of its efficiency. In a profession in which there is an unceasing contest with the wild and fickle winds, and in which human efforts are to be manifested in the control of a delicate and fearful machinery on an inconstant element, this governing principle becomes of the last importance. Where 'delay may so easily be death,' it soon gets to be a word that is expunged from the language; and there is perhaps no truth more necessary to be known to all young aspirants for naval success, than that, while nothing should be attempted in a hurry, nothing should be done without the last degree of activity that is compatible with precision.

The commander of the Coquette had early been impressed with the truth of the foregoing rule, and he had not neglected its application in the discipline of his crew. When he reached the deck, therefore, after relinquishing the cabin to his visiters, he found those preparations which he had ordered to be commenced when he first returned to the ship, already far advanced towards their execution. As these movements are closely connected with the future events it is our duty to explain, we shall relate them with some particularity.

Ludlow had no sooner given his orders to the officer in charge of the deck, than the whistle of the boatswain was heard summoning all hands to their duty. When the crew had been collected, tackles were hooked to the large boats stowed in the centre of the ship, and the whole of them were lowered into the water. The descent of those suspended on the quarters, was of course less difficult and much sooner effected. So soon as all the boats, with the exception of one at the stern, were out, the order was given to 'cross top-gallant-yards.' This duty had been commenced while other things were in the course of performance, and a minute had scarcely passed before the upper masts were again in possession of their light sails. Then was heard the usual summons of, 'all hands up anchor, ahoy!' and the rapid orders of the young officers to 'man capstan-bars,' to 'nipper,' and finally to 'heave away.' The business of getting the anchor on board a cruiser and on board a ship engaged in commerce, is of very different degrees of labor, as well as of expedition. In the latter, a dozen men apply their powers to a slow-moving and reluctant windlass, while the untractable cable, as it enters, is broken into coils by the painful efforts of a grumbling cook, thwarted, perhaps, as much as he is aided by the waywardness of some wilful urchin who does the service of the cabin. On the other hand, the upright and constantly-moving capstan knows no delay. The revolving 'messenger' is ever ready to be applied, and skilful petty officers are always in the tiers, to dispose of the massive rope, that it may not encumber the decks.

Ludlow appeared among his people, while they were thus employed. Ere he had made one hasty turn on the quarter-deck, he was met by the busy first-lieutenant.

"We are short, Sir," said that agent of all work.

"Set your top-sails."

The canvas was instantly permitted to fall, and it was no sooner stretched to the yards, than force was applied to the halyards, and the sails were hoisted.

"Which way, Sir, do you wish the ship cast?" demanded the attentive Luff.

"To seaward."

The head-yards were accordingly braced aback in the proper direction, and it was then reported to the captain that all was ready to get the ship under way.

"Trip the anchor at once, Sir; when it is stowed, and the decks are cleared, report to me."

This sententious and characteristic communication between Ludlow and his second in command, was sufficient for all the purposes of that moment. The one was accustomed to issue his orders without explanation, and the other never hesitated to obey, and rarely presumed to inquire into their motive.

"We are aweigh and stowed, Sir; every thing clear," said Mr. Luff, after a few minutes had been allowed to execute the preceding commands.

Ludlow then seemed to arouse himself from a deep reverie. He had hitherto spoken mechanically, rather than as one conscious of what he uttered, or whose feelings had any connexion with his words. But it was now necessary to mingle with his officers and to issue mandates that, as they were less in routine, required both thought and discretion. The crews of the different boats were 'called away,' and arms were placed in their hands. When nearly or quite one-half of the ship's company were in the boats, and the latter were all reported to be ready, officers were assigned to each, and the particular service expected at their hands was distinctly explained.

A master's mate in the captain's barge, with the crew strengthened by half-a-dozen marines, was ordered to pull directly for the Cove, into which he was to enter with muffled oars, and where he was to await a signal from the first-lieutenant, unless he met the brigantine endeavoring to escape, in which case his orders were imperative to board and carry her at every hazard. The high-spirited youth no sooner received this charge, than he quitted the ship and steered to the southward, keeping inside the tongue of land so often named.

Luff was then told to take command of the launch. With this heavy and strongly-manned boat, he was ordered to proceed to the inlet, where he was to give the signal to the barge, and whence he was to go to the assistance of the latter, so soon as he was assured the Water-Witch could not again escape by the secret passage.

The two cutters were intrusted to the command of the second-lieutenant, with orders to pull into the broad passage between the end of the cape, or the 'Hook,' and that long narrow island which stretches from the harbor of New-York for more than forty leagues to the eastward, sheltering the whole coast of Connecticut from the tempests of the ocean. Ludlow knew, though ships of a heavy draught were obliged to pass close to the cape, in order to gain the open sea, that a light brigantine, like the Water-Witch, could find a sufficient depth of water for her purposes further north. The cutters were, therefore, sent in that direction, with orders to cover as much of the channel as possible, and to carry the smuggler should an occasion offer. Finally, the yawl was to occupy the space between the two channels, with orders to repeat signals, and to be vigilant in reconnoitring.

While the different officers intrusted with these duties were receiving their instructions, the ship, under the charge of Trysail, began to move towards the cape. When off the point of the Hook, the two cutters and the yawl 'cast off,' and took to their oars, and when fairly without the buoys, the launch did the same, each boat taking its prescribed direction.

If the reader retains a distinct recollection of the scene described in one of the earlier pages of this work, he will understand the grounds on which Ludlow based his hopes of success. By sending the launch into the inlet, he believed he should inclose the brigantine on every side; since her escape through either of the ordinary channels would become impossible, while he kept the Coquette in the offing. The service he expected from the three boats sent to the northward, was to trace the movement of the smuggler, and, should a suitable opportunity offer, to attempt to carry him by surprise.

When the launch parted from the ship, the Coquette came slowly up to the wind, and with her fore-top-sail thrown to the mast, she lay, waiting to allow her boats the time necessary to reach their several stations. The different expeditions had reduced the force of the crew quite one-half, and as both the lieutenants were otherwise employed, there now remained on board no officer of a rank between those of the captain and Trysail. Some time after the vessel had been stationary, and the men had been ordered to keep close, or, in other words, to dispose of their persons as they pleased, with a view to permit them to catch 'cat's naps,' as some compensation for the loss of their regular sleep, the latter approached his superior, who stood gazing over the hammock-cloths in the direction of the Cove, and spoke.

"A dark night, smooth water, and fresh hands make boating agreeable duty!" he said. "The gentlemen are in fine heart, and full of young men's hopes; but he who lays that brigantine aboard, will, in my poor judgment, have more work to do than merely getting up her side. I was in the foremost boat that boarded a Spaniard in the Mona, last war; and though we went into her with light heels, some of us were brought out with broken heads.--I think the fore-top-gallant-mast has a better set, Captain Ludlow, since we gave the last pull at the rigging?"

"It stands well;" returned his half-attentive commander. "Give it the other drag, if you think best."

"Just as you please, Sir; 'tis all one to me. I care not if the mast is hove all of one side, like the hat on the head of a country buck; but when a thing is as it ought to be, reason would tell us to let it alone. Mr. Luff was of opinion, that by altering the slings of the main-yard, we should give a better set to the top-sail sheets; but it was little that could be done with the stick aloft, and I am ready to pay Her Majesty the difference between the wear of the sheets as they stand now, and as Mr. Luff would have them, out of my own pocket, though it is often as empty as a parish church in which a fox-hunting parson preaches. I was present, once, when a real tally-ho was reading the service, and one of your godless squires got in the wake of a fox, with his hounds, within hail of the church-windows! The cries had some such effect on my roarer, as a puff of wind would have on this ship; that is to say, he sprung his luff, and though he kept on muttering something I never knew what, his eyes were in the fields the whole time the pack was in view. But this wasn't the worst of it; for when he got fairly back to his work again, the wind had been blowing the leaves of his book about, and he plumped us into the middle of the marriage ceremony. I am no great lawyer, but there were those who said it was a god-send that half the young men in the parish weren't married to their own grandmothers!"

"I hope the match was agreeable to the family," said Ludlow, relieving one elbow by resting the weight of his head on the other.

"Why, as to that, I will not take upon me to say since the clerk corrected the parson's reckoning before the mischief was entirely done. There has been a little dispute between me and the first-lieutenant, Captain Ludlow, concerning the trim of the ship. He maintains that we have got too much in forward of what he calls the centre of gravity; and he is of opinion that had we been less by the head, the smuggler would never have had the heels of us, in the chase; whereas I invite any man to lay a craft on her water-line----"

"Show our light!" interrupted Ludlow. "Yonder goes the signal of the launch!"

Trysail ceased speaking, and, stepping on a gun, he also began to gaze in the direction of the Cove. A lantern, or some other bright object, was leisurely raised three times, and as often hid from view. The signal came from under the land, and in a quarter that left no doubt of its object.

"So far, well;" cried the Captain, quitting his stand, and turning, for the first time, with consciousness, to his officer. "'Tis a sign that they are at the inlet, and that the offing is clear. I think, Master Trysail, we are now sure of our prize. Sweep the horizon thoroughly with the night-glass, and then we will close upon this boasted brigantine."

Both took glasses, and devoted several minutes to this duty. A careful examination of the margin of the sea, from the coast of New-Jersey to that of Long-Island, gave them reason to believe that nothing of any size was lying without the cape. The sky was more free from clouds to the eastward than under the land and it was not difficult to make certain of this important fact. It gave them the assurance that the Water-Witch had not escaped by the secret passage, during the time lost in their own preparations.

"This is still well;" continued Ludlow. "Now he cannot avoid us--show the triangle."

Three lights, disposed in the form just named were then hoisted at the gaff-end of the Coquette. It was an order for the boats in the Cove to proceed. The signal was quickly answered from the launch, and then a small rocket was seen sailing over the trees and shrubbery of the shore. All on board the Coquette listened intently, to catch some sound that should denote the tumult of an assault. Once Ludlow and Trysail thought the cheers of seamen came on the thick air of the night; and once, again, either fancy or their senses told them they heard the menacing hail which commanded the outlaws to submit. Many minutes of intense anxiety succeeded. The whole of the hammock-cloths on the side of the ship nearest to the land were lined with curious faces, though respect left Ludlow to the sole occupation of the short and light deck which covered the accommodations; whither he had ascended, to command a more perfect view of the horizon.

"'Tis time to hear their musketry, or to see the signal of success!" said the young man to himself, so intently occupied by his interest in the undertaking, as to be unconscious of having spoken.

"Have you forgotten to provide a signal for failure?" said one at his elbow.

"Ha! Master Seadrift;--I would have spared you this spectacle."

"'Tis one too often witnessed, to be singular. A life passed on the ocean has not left me ignorant of the effect of night, with a view seaward, a dark coast, and a back-ground of mountain!"

"You have confidence in him left in charge of your brigantine! I shall have faith in your sea-green lady, myself, if he escape my boats, this time."

"See!--there is a token of her fortune;" returned the other, pointing towards three lanterns that were shown at the inlet's mouth, and over which many lights were burnt in rapid succession.

"'Tis of failure! Let the ship fall-of, and square away the yards! Round in, men, round in. We will run down to the entrance of the bay, Mr. Trysail. The knaves have been aided by their lucky star!"

Ludlow spoke with deep vexation in his tones, but always with the authority of a superior and the promptitude of a seaman. The motionless being, near him, maintained a profound silence. No exclamation of triumph escaped him, nor did he open his lips either in pleasure or in surprise. It appeared as if confidence in his vessel rendered him as much superior to exultation as to apprehension.

"You look upon this exploit of your brigantine, Master Seadrift, as a thing of course;" Ludlow observed, when his own ship was steering towards the extremity of the cape, again. "Fortune has not deserted you, yet; but with the land on three sides, and this ship and her boats on the fourth, I do not despair yet of prevailing over your bronzed goddess!"

"Our mistress never sleeps;" returned the dealer in contraband, drawing a long breath, like one who had struggled long to repress his interest.

"Terms are still in your power. I shall not conceal that the Commissioners of Her Majesty's customs set so high a price on the possession of the Water-Witch, as to embolden me to assume a responsibility from which I might, on any other occasion, shrink. Deliver the vessel, and I pledge you the honor of an officer that the crew shall land without question.--Leave her to us, with empty decks and a swept hold, if you will,--but, leave the swift boat in our hands."

"The lady of the brigantine thinks otherwise. She wears her mantle of the deep waters, and, trust me, spite of all your nets, she will lead her followers beyond the offices of the lead, and far from soundings;--ay! spite of all the navy of Queen Anne!"

"I hope that others may not repent this obstinacy! But this is no time to bandy words; the duty of the ship requires my presence."

Seadrift took the hint, and reluctantly retired to the cabin. As he left the poop, the moon rose above the line of water in the eastern board, and shed its light along the whole horizon. The crew of the Coquette were now enabled to see, with sufficient distinctness, from the sands of the Hook to the distance of many leagues to seaward. There no longer remained a doubt that the brigantine was still within the bay. Encouraged by this certainty, Ludlow endeavored to forget all motives of personal feeling, in the discharge of a duty that was getting to be more and more interesting, as the prospect of its successful accomplishment grew brighter.

It was not long before the Coquette reached the channel which forms the available mouth of the estuary. Here the ship was again brought to the wind, and men were sent upon the yards and all her more lofty spars, in order to overlook, by the dim and deceitful light, as much of the inner water as the eye could reach; while Ludlow, assisted by the master, was engaged in the same employment on the deck. Two or three midshipmen were included, among the common herd, aloft.

"There is nothing visible within," said the captain after a long and anxious search, with a glass. "The shadow of the Jersey mountains prevents the sight in that direction, while the spars of a frigate might be confounded with the trees of Staten Island, here, in the northern board.--Cross-jack-yard, there!"

The shrill voice of a midshipman answered to the hail.

"What do you make within the Hook, Sir?"

"Nothing visible. Our barge is pulling along the land, and the launch appears to be lying off the inlet; ay--here is the yawl, resting on its oars without the Romar; but we can find nothing which looks like the cutter, in the range of Coney."

"Take another sweep of the glass more westward, and look well into the mouth of the Raritan,--mark you any thing in that quarter?"

"Ha!--here is a speck on our lee quarter!"

"What do you make of it?"

"Unless sight deceives me greatly, Sir, there is a light boat pulling in for the ship, about three cables' length distant"

Ludlow raised his own glass, and swept the water in the direction named. After one or two unsuccessful trials, his eye caught the object; and as the moon had now some power, he was at no loss to distinguish its character. There was evidently a boat, and one that, by its movements, had a design of holding communication with the cruiser.

The eye of a seaman is acute on his element, and his mind is quick in forming opinions on all things that properly appertain to his profession. Ludlow saw instantly, by the construction, that the boat was not one of those sent from the ship; that it approached in a direction which enabled it to avoid the Coquette, by keeping in a part of the bay where the water was not sufficiently deep to admit of her passage; and that its movements were so guarded as to denote great caution, while there was an evident wish to draw as near to the cruiser as prudence might render advisable. Taking a trumpet, he hailed in the well-known and customary manner.

The answer came up faintly against the air, but it was uttered with much practice in the implement, and with an exceeding compass of voice.

"Ay, ay!" and, "a parley from the brigantine!" were the only words that were distinctly audible.

For a minute or two, the young man paced the deck in silence. Then he suddenly commanded the only boat which the cruiser now possessed, to be lowered and manned.

"Throw an ensign into the stern-sheets," he said when these orders were executed; "and let there be arms beneath it. We will keep faith while faith is observed, but there are reasons for caution in this interview."

Trysail was directed to keep the ship stationary, and after giving to his subordinate private instructions of importance in the event of treachery, Ludlow went into the boat in person. A very few minutes sufficed to bring the jolly-boat and the stranger so near each other, that the means of communication were both easy and sure. The men of the former were then commanded to cease rowing, and, raising his glass, the commander of the cruiser took a more certain and minute survey of those who awaited his coming. The strange boat was dancing on the waves, like a light shell that floated so buoyantly as scarce to touch the element which sustained it, while four athletic seamen leaned on the oars which lay ready to urge it ahead. In the stern-sheets stood a form, whose attitude and mien could not readily be mistaken. In the admirable steadiness of the figure, the folded arms, the fine and manly proportions, and the attire, Ludlow recognized the mariner of the India-shawl. A wave of the hand induced him to venture nearer.

"What is asked of the royal cruiser?" demanded the captain of the vessel named, when the two boats were as near each other as seemed expedient.

"Confidence!" was the calm reply.--"Come nearer Captain Ludlow; I am here with naked hands! Our conference need not be maintained with trumpets."

Ashamed that a boat belonging to a ship of war should betray doubts, the people of the yawl were ordered to go within reach of the oars.

"Well, Sir, you have your wish. I have quitted my ship, and come to the parley, with the smallest of my boats."

"It is unnecessary to say what has been done with the others!" returned Tiller, across the firm muscles of whose face there passed a smile that was scarcely perceptible. "You hunt us hard, Sir, and give but little rest to the brigantine. But again are you foiled!"

"We have a harbinger of better fortune, in a lucky blow that has been struck to-night."

"You are understood, Sir; Master Seadrift has fallen into the hands of the Queen's servants--but take good heed! if injury, in word or deed, befall that youth, there live those who well know how to resent the wrong!"

"These are lofty expressions, to come from a proscribed man; but we will overlook them, in the motive. Your brigantine, Master Tiller, lost its master spirit in the 'Skimmer of the Seas,' and it may be wise to listen to the suggestions of moderation. If you are disposed to treat, I am here with no disposition to extort."

"We meet in a suitable spirit, then; for I come prepared to offer terms of ransom, that Queen Anne, if she love her revenue, need not despise;--but, as in duty to Her Majesty, I will first listen to her royal pleasure."

"First, then, as a seaman, and one who is not ignorant of what a vessel can perform, let me direct your attention to the situation of the parties. I am certain that the Water-Witch, though for the moment concealed by the shadows of the hills, or favored perhaps by distance and the feebleness of this light, is in the waters of the bay. A force, against which she has no power of resistance, watches the inlet; you see the cruiser in readiness to meet her off the Hook. My boats are so stationed as to preclude the possibility of escape, without sufficient notice, by the northern channel; and, in short, the outlets are all closed to your passage. With the morning light, we shall know your position, and act accordingly."

"No chart can show the dangers of rocks and shoals more clearly!--and to avoid these dangers----?"

"Yield the brigantine, and depart. Though outlawed, we shall content ourselves with the possession of the remarkable vessel in which you do your mischief, and hope that, deprived of the means to err, you will return to better courses."

"With the prayers of the church for our amendment! Now listen, Captain Ludlow, to what I offer. You have the person of one much loved by all who follow the lady of the sea-green mantle, in your power; and we have a brigantine that does much injury to Queen Anne's supremacy in the waters of this hemisphere;--yield you the captive, and we promise to quit this coast, never to return."

"This were a worthy treaty, truly, for one whose habitation is not a mad-house! Relinquish my right over the principal doer of the evil, and receive the unsupported pledge of a subordinate's word! Your happy fortune, Master Tiller, has troubled your reason. What I offer, was offered because I would not drive an unfortunate and remarkable man, like him we have, to extremities, and--there may be other motives, but do not mistake my lenity. Should force become necessary to put your vessel into our hands, the law may view your offences with a still harsher eye. Deeds which the lenity of our system now considers as venial, may easily turn to crime!"

"I ought not to take your distrust, as other than excusable," returned the smuggler, evidently suppressing a feeling of haughty and wounded pride. "The word of a free-trader should have little weight in the ears of a queen's officer. We have been trained in different schools, and the same objects are seen in different colors. Your proposal has been heard, and, with some thanks for its fair intentions, it is refused without a hope of acceptation. Our brigantine is, as you rightly think, a remarkable vessel! Her equal, Sir, for beauty or speed, floats not the ocean. By heaven! I would sooner slight the smiles of the fairest woman that walks the earth, than entertain a thought which should betray the interest I feel in that jewel of naval skill! You have seen her, at many times, Captain Ludlow--in squalls and calms; with her wings abroad, and her pinions shut; by day and night; near and far; fair and foul;--and I ask you, with a seaman's frankness, is she not a toy to fill a seaman's heart?"

"I deny not the vessel's merits, nor her beauty--'tis a pity she bears no better reputation."

"I knew you could not withhold this praise! But I grow childish when there is question of that brigantine! Well Sir, each has been heard, and now comes the conclusion. I part with the apple of my eye, ere a stick of that lovely fabric is willingly deserted. Shall we make other ransom for the youth?--What think you of a pledge in gold, to be forfeited should we forget our word."

"You ask impossibilities. In treating thus at all, I quit the path of proud authority, because, as has been said, there is that about the 'Skimmer of the Seas' that raises him above the coarse herd who in common traffic against the law. The brigantine, or nothing!"

"My life, before that brigantine! Sir, you forget our fortunes are protected by one who laughs at the efforts of your fleet; You think that we are inclosed and that, when light shall return, there will remain merely the easy task to place your iron-mounted cruiser on our beam, and drive us to seek mercy. Here are honest mariners, who could tell you of the hopelessness of the expedient. The Water-Witch has run the gauntlet of all your navies, and shot has never yet defaced her beauty."

"And yet her limbs have been known to fall before a messenger from my ship!"

"The stick wanted the commission of our mistress," interrupted the other, glancing his eye at the credulous and attentive crew of the boat. "In a thoughtless moment, 'twas taken up at sea, and fashioned to our purpose without counsel from the book. Nothing that touches our decks, under fitting advice, comes to harm.--You look incredulous, and 'tis in character to seem so. If you refuse to listen to the lady of the brigantine, at least lend an ear to your own laws. Of what offence can you charge Master Seadrift, that you hold him captive?"

"His redoubted name of 'Skimmer of the Seas' were warranty to force him from a sanctuary," returned Ludlow, smiling. "Though proof should fail of any immediate crime, there is impunity for the arrest, since the law refuses to protect him."

"This is your boasted justice! Rogues in authority combine to condemn an absent and a silent man. But if you think to do your violence with impunity, know there are those who take deep interest in the welfare of that youth."

"This is foolish bandying of menaces," said the captain, warmly. "If you accept my offers, speak; and if you reject them, abide the consequences."

"I abide the consequences. But since we cannot come to terms, as victor and the submitting party, we may part in amity. Touch my hand, Captain Ludlow, as one brave man should salute another, though the next minute they are to grapple at the throat."

Ludlow hesitated. The proposal was made with so frank and manly a mien, and the air of the free-trader, as he leaned beyond the gunwale of his boat, was so superior to his pursuit, that, unwilling to seem churlish, or to be outdone in courtesy, he reluctantly consented, and laid his palm within that the other offered. The smuggler profited by the junction to draw the boats nearer, and, to the amazement of all who witnessed the action, he stepped boldly into the yawl, and was seated, face to face, with its officer in a moment.

"These are matters that are not fit for every ear," said the decided and confident mariner, in an under tone, when he had made this sudden change in the position of the parties. "Deal with me frankly, Captain Ludlow:--is your prisoner left to brood on his melancholy, or does he feel the consolation of knowing that others take an interest in his welfare?"

"He does not want for sympathy, Master Tiller--since he has the pity of the finest woman in America."

"Ha! la belle Barberie owns her esteem!--is the conjecture right?"

"Unhappily, you are too near the truth. The infatuated girl seems but to live in his presence. She has so far forgotten the opinions of others, as to follow him to my ship!"

Tiller listened intently, and, from that instant, all concern disappeared from his countenance.

"He who is thus favored may, for a moment, even forget the brigantine!" he exclaimed, with all his natural recklessness of air. "And the Alderman----?"

"Has more discretion than his niece, since he did not permit her to come alone."

"Enough.--Captain Ludlow, let what will follow. We part as friends. Fear not, Sir, to touch the hand of a proscribed man, again; it is honest after its own fashion, and many is the peer and prince who keeps not so clean a palm. Deal tenderly with that gay and rash young sailor; he wants the discretion of an older head, but the heart is kindness itself--I would hazard life, to shelter his--but at every hazard the brigantine must be saved.--Adieu!"

There was strong emotion in the voice of the mariner of the shawl, notwithstanding his high bearing. Squeezing the hand of Ludlow, he passed back into his own barge, with the ease and steadiness of one who made the ocean his home.

"Adieu!" he repeated, signing to his men to pull in the direction of the shoals, where it was certain the ship could not follow. "We may meet again; until then, adieu."

"We are sure to meet, with the return of light."

"Believe it not, brave gentleman. Our lady will thrust the spars under her girdle, and pass a fleet unseen.--A sailor's blessing on you--fair winds and a plenty; a safe landfall, and a cheerful home! Deal kindly by the boy, and, in all but evil wishes to my vessel, success light on your ensign!"

The seamen of both boats dashed their oars into the water at the same instant, and the two parties were quickly without the hearing of the voice.

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