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head toward the town, securely moored, awaiting to be boarded by the custom-house boat, which had already left the shore for that purpose.
• What brig is this ? inquired the naval officer, as he touched the deck.
• The Growler, of Halifax, at your service, Sir,' replied the commander, coming forward with a graceful air, and a smile playing about his lips.
Ah, indeed ? Barnett and Company's craft, eh ?' • The same, Sir.' * And are you Captain Hecate ?'
• I have that honor,' replied the captain, with another smile, touching his hat at the same time, although a sly twinkle in his eye almost seemed to cast a doubt upon the sincerity of his politeness.
* And so, Captain Hecate, your brig is a fast sailer?'
• The very best, Sir. The Sentinel frigate tried a race with her off the harbor, the last time we went out, but she was soon left bull down. I'll put her against any craft that ever walked over the waters. She is a first-rate American built vessel, although now English property, and
How's that? - how's that ?' interrupted the officer, looking up from the paper, upon which he had been taking notes, probably of the appearance of the vessel ; ‘how's all that ? • American built
- English property,' eh ?'
Just so, exactly,' was the reply: ‘she was built during the war, at Marblehead; fitted out as a privateer up the Merrimack, at Newburyport; went to sea; was captured on her first cruise, sent down to Halifax, condemned,* and bought by Barneti and Company, who fitted her out as a merchantman, put your humble servant in her as commander, and bade her 'God speed.”
• Where are you from ?'
• Malaga, eh ? repeated the officer, with somewhat of a tone of surprise ; 'so-so; and what passage had you home?'
• Thirty days.'
• Ve-ry good,' continued he, in a drawling tone, minuting down the conversation ; ‘and pray what may your cargo be? I don't imagine that you came home in ballast — eh ?'
By no means,' replied the captain, laughing; she is loaded to the water-line with wines, of almost every variety; and from that to the deck, the space is filled up with fruit, of an excellent quality, I assure you.'
• Indeed! Perhaps I may taste of it sooner than you think for. Do you intend selling your cargo at auction ?'
• No: it is all engaged at private sale.' • The engagement will be cancelled, I'm thinking, Captain Hecate;
* It may be proper to state, that one of the regulations of the old Navigation Act of Great Britain, forbade the importation of any article whatever by her colonies, from any foreign place, except through the mother country; consequently, all produce or merchandise, whether manufactured or in the crude state, must first be imported into Great Britain, and thence shipped to whatever place should be its ultimate destination. A breach of this law was punished with extreme severity. VOL. XVI.
the hammer will knock your loading off, depend on it. Let me see your papers.'
The papers were brought, and while they were being examined, Captain Hecate thrust his hands in his pockets, and leaning against the long-boat, between the masts, took a minute survey of the person of his querist, who was performing the functions of his office with an odd mixture of drollery and seriousness depicted upon his fine intelligent countenance. The head of the naval officer, and in fact his whole person, was indeed an admirable subject for the pencil of a Hogarth. By some misfortune, his eyes had become crossed, so that when he bent his head over his paper, one of them appeared to be perusing it, while the other was quietly fixed upon the truck, at the summit of the flag-staff, on George's Island. In addition to this, he had a pair of large bowed spectacles, resting upon the tip of bis ruby nose, so very near the extreme edge, that it seemed as if the slightest motion would dance them off upon his sharply-pointed knees, which were now raised nearly parallel with a curiously-carved chin. These spectacles had probably been originally sold as 'silverbowed,' but time and constant use bad worn the leaf off, in various places, so that they now presented the speckled appearance of a variegated hen. On his head, covering a wig of thick, coarse hair, and shading a somewhat scanty pattern of red whiskers, which were straggling about in so many directions, that had they been soldiers, a drum and fife would have been necessary to call them together, rested a broad brimmed, tower-like palm leaf hat, of such dimensions that it would have formed a spacious pavilion for a cortège composed of such beings as Gulliver met in Lilliput. This coat, which was a faded blue, with a brass and a cloth button placed alternately up and down in front, was buttoned close up to his neck : his nether garments were formed from a kind of pepper-and-salt-mixtured cloth, and his equipments were completed with a pair of thick, heavy cowhide boots, which rose to his knees, upon the outside of bis pantaloons. Thus habited, he remained seated upon the deck, patiently spelling out the Growler's papers; for from the trouble under which he appeared to labor, it was evident that he was not burdened with any superfluous erudition.
So, Captain Hecate,' he said, rising to his feet, after consuming a space of nearly half an hour in arriving at a knowledge of the contents of the papers, 'so it seems that this brig is the Growler, Captain Hecate, last from Malaga, with a cargo of fruit, consigned to Messrs. Barnett and Company, Halifax ?' Quite right. Is there any flaw or inaccuracy in the papers
that you have in your hands ?'
Oh, no; I was merely going to say that Umph! Have you got a pinch of snuff about you?'
* I do n't use it,' replied Hecate, laughing. • How unlucky! replied the officer, suffering his sallow visage to fall so rapidly, that had it been a barometer, instead of a human countenance, the action would have created the most alarming apprehensions : 'it is very unlucky indeed; do n't your men use it, Sir ?'
'I can't say; you must inquire yourself.'
An appeal was made to the whole crew, but without success, and he turned away, seemingly disappointed.
Well, no matter,' he continued ; 'I was going to say, Captain Hecate, that this brig being American built, although now English property, and that
I really do wish you had a little snuff; do try, Sir, and see if you can't obtain some for me. I really stand in very great want of it, believe me.'
* I am not aware that there is a particle aboard, and I am thankful for it,' answered Hecate.
· Well, Sir, have it your own way, Sir; have it your own way,'continued the officer, a little touched; but as for me, I can't do without it, Sir ; no, and I wont. Are you in any particular hurry, Sir ?'
Hurry? No, not much.' * Had you just as lieve lay here for fifteen or twenty minutes longer, to oblige me?'
Certainly : I have no particular desire to hurry up to the wharf; it being Sunday, I cannot enter my vessel, or discharge my cargo ; and so, to oblige you, I will lie here a little longer.'
• Thank you, Sir, thank you,' said the officer, apparently very grateful; •and with your permission, I 'll run over to the battery there, on George's Island. You won't move while I'm gone ?'
*Not a cable's length.'
• Then I'll just sail over there, and get a pinch of spuff, and be right back. I'll come right back.'
Captain Hecate could scarcely refrain from giving vent to a loud and hearty laugh; but he succeeded in suppressing his risibilities, and bowing the officer over the side, watched him until his boat grazed the shore of the island, and then seating himself upon a coil of ropes, gave way to a burst of violent cachinnation.
The officer was as good as his word. In fifteen minutes the painter of his boat was fastened to the brig's shrouds, and he came on board again with a most benign smile resting upon his unique countenance.
How soon do you intend to haul up to the wharf, Captain Hecate ?' was his first inquiry:
• As soon as the tide serves, which will be in about three hours,' was the reply.
Well, Sir, I put a veto upon that; do n't you move from this spot until you hear from me.'
Most certainly, Sir, I shall not wait long for you,' replied Hecate, somewhat offended at his
peremptory tone. • Well, but you will. Do you stir one cable's length — only one cable's length — and the guns of the battery there will send you and your vessel dancing sky high. Do try it once, only once; why can't
• By what authority do you address me thus ?' demanded Captain Hecate.
• By the best in the world. Do you know that your brig and whole cargo are forfeited ?'
• No! For what ?'
• For breaking the Navigation Act. How does that set ? Wait until to-morrow, Sir, and I'll seize your vessel ; I would do it now, only it happens to be Sunday. What do you suppose I went to George's Island after, eh ?
· For a pinch of snuff, as you said,' said Hecate, smiling.
' A pinch of snuff, eh? Ha! ha! ha!' laughed the little officer. Al fudge, Captain Hecate, I assure you. What do you suppose I wanted of snuff, eh? I see you do n't understand trap; you an't up to snuff.' I went to give orders to the commander of the battery there, to bring his guns to bear upon your vessel; and if you moved in the slightest degree, to blow you to — Sancho! Good by, Sir, good by; do n't attempt to run off, unless you wish to cut a hornpipe through the air.'
Captain Hecate remained watching the receding boat, until it shot in among the wharves of the town, and was lost to his sight; then turning, he gave orders for hoisting out the boat, and having it manned; he then went below. In about fifteen minutes he came upon deck again, and after speaking a few words apart to his mate, entered the boat and seated himself in the stern-sheets. The jovial, reckless, and contented appearance which his countenance generally wore,
had given place to an expression of anxiety and alarm, and he gave the command in a low tone :
• Give way, men !'
A few long, measured strokes sent the boat to the desired point, and Captain Hecate, stepping ashore, bade them secure the boat, and wait his return.
A full hour bad elapsed, before he was seen again, and then he entered the boat, seated himself in the stern-sheets, with a single wave of bis hand, and was immediately rowed back to bis vessel.
As he stepped on deck, he made a sign to his mate that he wished to speak with him; and the two descending to the cabin, the door was fastened, and they seated themselves at the table.
• Well, Carpenter, it seems that we've got into a scrape,' said Captain Hecate.
* I supposed as much, from the manner of the officer who boarded us.
What's to pay ? • Indeed I do n't know what they will let us off for, so I cannot say how much is to pay,' rejoined Hecate, laughing, but this is certain, that having broken the Navigation Act, though unintentionally, our vessel, if we lie here until to-morrow morning, will be seized.'
• Well, do you intend to lie bere and be seized ?'
• Intend to lie here and be seized !' echoed Captain Hecate; 'no! I am too old for that. Mr. Barnett, whom I've just seen, is coming aboard with one of his clerks about dusk, and ihen we're going to walk her out of Halifax harbor about as quick as canvass will carry her.'
· And what then ??
• Put into some American port, Boston or New York, in distress, and sell our cargo. Come, open the door, and we 'll go upon deck to put things in order for the attempt. Mind ! not a word to any person aboard, or the plan will be spoilt.'
During the whole day, the Growler remained in the same place where she had first anchored. For several hours the wind had been vacillating in various quarters, and was now blowing steadily from the north-west, a quarter very favorable for the success of the pro
posed hazardous scheme, as it would carry them straight out to sea, without once tacking or hauling. As night settled upon the waters, and darkness gradually grew denser, Captain Hecate, who was pacing the quarter-deck, became more anxious and impatient; and his excitement was increased by the delay of his owner, who had not yet appeared.
Strange that they are not here !'he muttered apart to Carpenter; *I cannot imagine why they absent themselves, when so much depends upon promptuess and quick execution. What time is it?'
Nine o'clock.' • At eight, they were to have been aboard. How's the tide ? • It is about turning.' * And we shall lose it through their means! Tarrying ashore, when Hark! was not that the dip of oars ? There, again!'
No, it was nothing 'I tell you it was ; they ’re coming off: see there, that is the signal !' said Hecate, pointing to the upper-loft window of a store on the wharf, through which a light was streaming.
In a few moments a boat containing several persons was floating alongside, and a low voice hailed the brig:
•Growler ahoy! On board there !
*Hush! not so loud, Mr. Barnett, unless you wish to draw the shot of the battery on George's Island,' answered the voice of Captain Hecate.
* Ah! Hecate, is that you? Is every thing ready?' • Yes, and has been these two hours.'
Well, do n't grumble, my good fellow; there's time enough,' rejoined Mr. Barnett; 'Loring, jump up there, and I 'll follow.'
As soon as the two stood upon the deck, a motion was made to the others in the boat, and turning the bows, they moved noiselessly away.
Now put your brig before this fine breeze, Captain Hecate, and we'll walk off!' said Barnett, seating himself with his clerk at the stern of the brig. Every thing having been previously prepared, it required but a short time to get her under way, so that in less than fifteen minutes from the time Barnett made his appearance, she had left her rather disagreeable position under the guns of the battery, and was moving silently yet swiftly down, impelled by the flowing breeze that filled her bellying sails, and borne on also by the tide, which was setting outward, George's Island was passed in safety; the sails were trimmed, and a third of the distance between that battery and Point Sandwich was already left behind, when a bright flash shot out from the embrasures of the island fort, and a heavy piece of ordnance sent its startling report rolling over the waters, which was immediately answered by the guns on Citadel Hill.
• Discovered !' exclaimed Hecate ; and now there's no use for secrecy. Spread out upon the yards, there ! Unfold every thing that looks like canvass! Ha! there's an answer from Point Sandwich ; and, by Jupiter ! another from the Half-moon and Sanbro' light!'
As he spoke, a gun from Point Sandwich, followed by others from the Half-moon, and Sanbro' light, answered the signal, too plainly telling them that they were on the alert.