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thing along with it; that guana. I had a dislike to eating a lizard at first, but I have got over it somehow ;—and a thin slice of ham, a small taste of the unclean beast, Obed—peach-fed, I'll warrant."
There was a pause. The report of a great gun came booming along, reverberated from side to side of the lagoon, the echoes growing shorter and shorter, and weaker and weaker, unlit they growled themselves asleep in a hollow rumble like distant thunder.
'Ha, ha ! Dick Gasket for a thousand ! Old Blowhard has stuck in your skirts, Master Obed—but Lord help us, man ! let us finish our breakfast; be won't be here this half hour.'
I expected to see mine host's forehead lowering like a thunder cloud from my ill-timed funning ; but to my surprise, his countenance exhibited more amenity than I thought had been in the nature of the beast, as he replied,—
'Why, Lieutenant, the felucca put to sea last night, to keep a bright look-out at the mouth of our cove here. 1 suppose that is him overhauling some vessel.'
'It may be so ;—hush ! there's another gun—Two!'
Obed changed countenance at the double report.
* I say, Obed, the felucca did not carry more than one gun when I saw her, and she has had no time to load and fire again.'
He did not answer a word, but continued, with a piece of guana Od the end of his fork in one hand aud a cup of coffee in the other, as if he had been touched by the wand of a magician. Presently we heard on': or two dropping shots, quickly thickening into a rattle of musketry. He threw down his food, picked up his hat, and trundled down stairs, as if the devil had kicked him. 'Pedro que hay,' 1 could hear him say to some one below, who appeared to have arrived in great haste, for he gasped for breath—
'Aqui viene la felucha,' answered Pedro; 'perseguido por dos Lanchas Canoneras llenas de Gente.'
'Abordo entonces, Abordo todo cl mundo, arm.i arma, aqui viencn los Engleses, arma, arma.'
And all from that instant was a regular hillabnloo. The drums on board the schooners beat to quarters, a great bell w hich had been slung on the fork of a tree, formerly the ornament of some goodly ship, no doubt, clanged away at a furious rate, the crews were hurrying to and fro, shouting to each other in Creole Spanish, and Yankee English, while every cannon-shot from the felucca, or the boat guns, came K.uder and louder, and the small arms peppered away sharper and sharper. The shouts of the men engaged, both friends and foes, were now heard, and I could hear Obed's voice on board the largest schooner, which lay full in view from my window, giving orders, not only to his own crew, but to those of the others. I heard him distinctly sing out, after ordering them to haul upon the spring on his cable, ' Now, men, I need not tell you to fight bravely, for if you are taken every devil of you will be hanged—so hoist away the signal;' and a small black ball flew up through the rigging, until it reached the main-topgallant-mast-head of the schooner, wnere it hung a moment, and in the next blew out in a large black swallow-tailed flag, like a commodore's broad pennant. 'Now,' shrieked he, 'let me see who dares give in with this voucher for his honesty flying aloft."
I twisted and craned myself out of the window, to get a view of what was going on elsewhere; however, I could see nothing but Obed's large schooner from it, all the other craft were out of the range of my eye, being hid bv the projecting roof of the shed. The noise continued—the shouting rose higher than ever—the other schooners opened their fire, both cannon and musketry; and from the increasing vehemence of the Spanish exclamations, and the cheering on board Obed's vessels, I concluded the attacking party were having the worst of it. My dog Sneezer now came jumping and scrambling up the trap-stair, his paws slipping between the bars at every step, his mouth wide open, and his tongue hanging out, while he barked, and yelled, and gasped to get at me, as if his life depended on it. Afte- him I could see the round wool.y pate of Peter Mangrove, Esquire, as excited apparently as the dog, and as anxious to get up; but they got jimined together in the small hatch, and stuck there, man and beast. At length Peter spoke—' Now, sir, now; Nancy has run on before to the beach with two paddles; now for it, now tor it.' Down trundled master, and dog, and pilot By this time there was no one in the lower part of the shed, which was full of smoke, while the infernal tumult on the water still raged as furiously as ever, the shot of all sorts and sizes hissing, and splashing, and ricochettinfr along the smooth surface of the harbor, as if there had been a sleet ot musket and cannon balls and grape. Peter struck out at the top of his speed, Sneezer and I followed; we soon reached the jungle, dashed through a path that had been recently cleared with a cutlass, or hillhooks, for the twigs were freshly shred, and in about ten minutes reached the high wood. However, no rsst for the wicked, although the row seemed iessenititr now. 'Some one has got the worst of it,' said I. .
'Nevur mind, master,' quoth Peter, 'or we shan't get de betterest ourself.' Ami away we galloped again, until I had scarcely a rag an inch square 0:' my back, or any where else, and my skin was torn in pieces by the prickly bushes and spear grass. The sound of firing now ceased entirely, although there was loud shouting now and then, still.
'True enough, Peter—but what is that?' as we came to a bundle of clouts wallopping about in the morass.
'De devil it must be, I link,'saifl the pilot. 'No, my Nancy it is, sticking in the mud up to her waist; what shall us do? you tink, massa, we liab time for can stop to pick she out?'
'Heaven have mercy, Peter—yes, unquestionably.'
'Well, massa, yoa know best.' So we tugged at the sable heroine, and first one lojf came homs out of the tenacious clay, with a plop, then the other was drawn out of the quagmire. We then relieved her of the paddles, and each taking hold of one of the poor half-dead creature's hands, we succeeded in gutting down to the beach, about half a mile to leeward of the entrance to the cove. We fouml the canoe there, plumped Nancy stern firemost into the bottom of it for ballast, gathered all our remaimng energies for a grand shove, and ran her like lightning into the surf, till the water flashed over and over us, reaching to our necks. Next moment we were both swimming, and thu canoe, although full of water, beyond the surf, rising and filling on the long swell. We scrambled on board, set Nancy to bile with Peter's hit, seized our paddles, and sculled away like fury for ten minutes right out to sea, without looking once about us, until a musketshot whistled over our h^ada, then another, and a third ; and I had just time to hold up a white handkerchief, to prevent a whole platoon being let drive at us from the deck of his Bntunnic Majesty's schooner Gleam, lying to about a cable's length to windward of us, with the Firebrand a mile astern of her out at sea. In five minutes we got on board of the former.
'Mercy upon me, Toiri Cringle, and is this the way we are to meet again ?' said old Dick Gasket, us he held out his large, bony, sun-burnt hand to me. 'You have led me a nice dance, iu a vain attempt to redeem you from bondage, Tom ; but I am delighted to see you, although 1 have not had the credit of being your deliverer—very glad to see you, Tom; but come along, man, come down with me, and let me rig you, not quite a Stultze's fit, you know, but a jury rig—you shall have as good as Dick Gasket's kit cau furnish forth, for really you are in a miserable plight, man.'
'Bad enough indeed, Mr. Gasket—many thanks though—bad enough, as you say; but I would that your boats' crew were in so good a plight.'
Mr. Gasket looked earnestly at me—'Why I have my own misgivings, Mr. Cringle; this morning at daybreak, the Firebrand in company, we fell in with an armed felucca. It was dead calm, and she was out of gunshot, close in with the land. The Firebrand immediately sent the cutter on board, fully armed, with instructions to me to man the launch and arm her with the boat-gun and then to send both boats to overhaul the felucca. I did so, standing in as quickly as the light air would take me, to support them ; the felucca all this while sweeping in shore as fast as she could.null. But the boats were too nimble for her, and our launch had already saluted her twice from the six-pounder in the bow, when the sea-breeze came thundering down in a white squall, that reefed our gaff topsail in a trice, and blew away a whole lot of light sails, like so many paper-kites. When it cleared away, the devil a felucca, boat, or anything else, was to be seen. Capsized they could uot have been, for all three were not likely to have gone thai way; and as to any creek they could have run into, why we could see none. That they had pulled in shore, however, wus our conclusion ; but here have we been the whole morning, firing signal guns every five minutes without success.'
'Did you hear no firing after the squall?' said I.
- Why, some of my people thought they did, but it was that hollow, tremulous, reverberating kind of sound, that it might have been thunder; and the breeze blew too strong to have allowed us to hear musketry a mile and a half to windward of them. I did think I saw some smoke rise, and blow off now and then, but'
'But me no buts, Master Richard Gasket ; Peter Mangrove here, as well as myself, saw your people pursue the felucca into the lion's den, and I fear they have been crushed in his jaws.' I briefly related what we had seen—Gasket was in great distress.
'They must have been taken, Mr. Cringle. The fools, to allow themselves to be trepanned in this way ! we must stand out and speak the corvette—AH hands make sail!'
I could not help smiling at the grandeur of Dick's emphasis on the all when twenty hands, one-third of them boys, and the others landsmen, scrambled up from below, and began to pull and haul in no very seamanlike fashion. He noticed it. 'Ah, Tom, I know what you are grinning at; but 1 fear it has been no laughing matter to my poor boats' crew—all my best hands gone—God help me!'
Presently, being under the Firebrand's lee quarter, we lowered down the boat and went on board, where, for the first time, the extreme ludicrousness of my appearance and following flashed on me. There we were all in a bunch, the dog, Mr. and Mrs. Mangrove, and Thomas Cringle, gent., such in appearance as I shall shortly describe them.
Old Richard Gasket, Esq., first clambered up the side, and made his
bow to the Hon. Captain N who was standing near the gangway
on the snow-white deck, where everything was in the most apple-pie order, himself, both in mind and apparel, the most polished concern in the ship, amidst a group of officers ; while the whole crew, with the exception of the unfortunate absentees in the cutter, were scrambling to get a good view of us.
I have already said, that my uniform was torn to pieces; trowsers ditto; my shoes bad parted company in the quagmire; and as for hat, it was left in my cot. I had a dirty bandage tied round my neck, performing the twofold office of a cravat and a dressing to my wound ; while the blood from the scratches had dried into black streaks adown and across my face and paws, and f was altogether so begrimed with mud that my mother would not have known me. Dick made his salam, and then took up a position beside the sally port, with an important face, like a showman exhihiting wild beasteses, a regular ' stir-him-up-with-n-long-pole' sort of look.—I followed him—' This is Lieutenant Cringle, Captain N .'
'The devil it is?' said N trying in vain to keep his gravity. * Why,
I see it is —How do you do, Mr.Cringle !glad to see you.'
'This is Peter Mangrove, branch pilot,' continued Gasket, as Peter, bowing, tried to slide past out of sight.
Till this instant 1 had not had time to look at him—he was even a much queerer-looking figure than myself. He had been encumbered with no garment beside his trowsers when we started, and these had been reduced, in the scramble through the brake, to a waisthand and two kneebands, from which a few shreds fluttered in the breeze, the rest of his canvass having been entirely torn out of the bolt-ropes. For an upper dress he bad, borrowed a waistcoat without sleeves from the purser of the schooner, which hung loose and unbuttoned before, while behind, being somewhat of the shortest, some very prominent parts of his stern frame were disclosed, as even an apology for a shirt had he none. Being a decent man, however, he had tied his large straw hat round his waist, by strings fastened to the broad brims, which nearly met behind, so that the crown covered his loins before, like a petard, while the sameness of his black naked body was relieved by being laced with blood from numberless lacerations.
Next came the female—' This is the pilot's wife, Captain N ,'
again sung out old Dick ; but decency won't let me venture on a description of poor Nancy's equipments, beyond mentioning that one of the Gleam's crew had given her a pair of old trowsers, which, as a sailor has no bottom, and Nancy was not a sailor, were most ludicrously scanty at top; and devil another rag of any kind had the poor creature on, but a handkerchief across her bosom. There was no standing all this; the crew forward and in the waist were all on the broad grin, while the officers, after struggling to maintain their gravity until they were nearly suffocated, fairly gave in, and the whole ship echoed with the most uproarious laughter ; a young villain, whether a Mid or no I could not tell, yelling out in the throng, ' Hurra for Tom Cringle's tail!'
I was fairly beginning to lose countenance, when up jumped Sneezer to my relief out of the boot, with an old cocked hat lasbed on his head, a marine's jacket buttoned round his body, and his coal-black muzzle bedaubed with pipe-clay, regularly monkeyfied, the momentary handiwork of some wicked little reefers, while a small pipe sung out quietly, as if not intended to reach tho quarter-deck although it did do so, 'And here corned the last joint of Mr. Cringle's tail.' The dog began floundering and jumping about, and walloping amongst the people, most of whom knew him, and immediately drew their attention from me and my party to himself ; for away they all bundled forward, dog and men tumbling and scrambling about like so many children, leaving the coast clear to ine and my attendants. The absurdity of lhe whole exhihition had for an instant, even under the very nose of a proverhially taught hand, led to freedoms which 1 had believed impossible in a man-of-war. However, there was too much serious matter in hand, independently of any other consideration, to allow the merriment created by our appearance to
last long. Captain N , immediately on being informed how matters
stood, with seamanlike promptitude determined to lighten the Gleam, and send her in with the boats, for the purpose of destroying the baunt of the pirates, and recovering the men, if they were still alive ; but before anything could be done, it came on to blow, and for a week we had great difficulty in maintaining our position off the coast against the strength of the gale and lee current. It was on the Sunday morning after I had escaped that it moderated sufficiently for our purpose, when both vessels stood close in, and Peter and I were sent to reconnoitre the entrance of the port in the gig. Having sounded and taken the bearings of the land, we returned on board, when the Gleam's provisions were taken out and her water started. The ballast was then shifted, so as to bring her by the head, that she might thus draw less water by being on an even keel, all sharp vessels of her class requiring much deeper water aft than forward ; the corvette's launch, with a l-2-pound carronade fitted, was then manned and armed with thirty seaman and marines, under the command of the second lieutenant; the jolly boat, and the two quarter boats, each with twelve men, followed in a string, under the third lieu tenant, the master, and the senior midshipman ; thirty picked hands were added to the schooner's crew, and I wbs desired to take the gig, with six smart hands and Peter Mangrove, and to accompany the whole as pilot; but to pidl out of danger so soon as the action commenced, so as to be ready to help any disabled boat, or to carry orders from the commanding officer. At nine in the morning, we gave three cheers, and leaving the corvette, with barely forty hands on board, the Gleam made sail towards the harbor's mouth, with the boats in tow ; but when we got within musket-shot of the entrance, the breeze failed us, when the order of sailing was reversed, the boats now taking the schooner in tow, preceded by your humble servant in the gig. We dashed safely through the small canal of blue water, which divided the surf at the harbor's mouth, having hit it to a nicety ; but when about a pistol shot from the entrance, the channel narrowed to a muddy creek, not more than twenty yards wide, with high trees, and thick underwood close to the water's edge. All was silent, the sun shone down upon us like the concentrated rays of a burning-glass, and there was no breeze to dissipate the heavy dank mist that hovered over the surface of the unwholesome canal, nor was there any appearance of a living thing, save and except a few startled water-fowl, and some guanoes on the trees, and now and then an alligator like a black log of charred wood, would roll off a slimy bank of brown mud, with a splash into the water. We rowed on, the schooner every now and then taking the ground, but she was always quickly warped off again by a kedge; at length, after we had in all proceeded it might be about a mile from the beach, we came to a boom of strong