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“ True — true!” said Hardy, musing for a second ; “ but never mind, there is only one ; and even if he happen to be an enemy, we shall have our business over, if we manage cleverly, before he can possibly get round to us. Bear right down upon the light!”
The impetus of the vessel was hardly diminished by the precautions of the helmsman and the lowering of the sails, when her keel, towards the bows, grated upon the sand, and stuck hard and fast. The hatches were then thrown open, and the goods handed, piece by piece, to the accomplices, who had by this time gathered round the bowsprit to the number of ten or twelve. This employment had continued for about twenty minutes ; during which the cargo, as soon as it quitted the ship, disappeared in the ledges of the rock, being instantly snatched away by the smugglers to a place of safety, by paths known only to themselves. It now became almost absolutely dark, and this, added to the roughness of the sea, which howled along the shore and dashed on the vessel in angry torrents, rendered the operations of the sailors both difficult and dangerous. Hardy, with his accustomed prudence—and to which, in fact, was owing the success of his usual boldness, had caused the shorelights to be extinguished the moment his ship touched the beach; but now, when the happy termination of the adventure seemed so near, and was only rendered doubtful by the increasing darkness of the night, he promptly gave the word for re-lighting them, with several others from the vessel. The exertions of the sailors were now renewed with double eagerness, and the scene became singularly animated. The lights rushing and faring along the land, and dancing among the rocks, as if borne by the night-fiends themselves—the strange, wild faces of the men, as they were now illumined for a moment by the red flame, and now disappeared in the gloom — the blackness of the overhanging cliffs, their fantastic summits only faintly observable far overhead, against the dull sky—the rocking and plunging of the vessel, that swung by her bows as if fixed on a pivotthe hoarse roaring of the troubled sea, and the portentous flashing of the spray, as the waves rushed against the ship, mounted, split, and, parting into innumerable fragments, swept over her decks from stern to stem - all conferred a character of strange interest upon the picture, heightened to intensity by the ideas of terror, mystery, and ferocity inspired by its details.
In the midst of the hurry and confusion, the voice of their young commander again broke upon the ear of that half-savage group.
“ Avast!” he cried, in a tone, stern, sudden, and yet subdued. “Out with the lights! Steady!” The lights hissed in the water and disappeared; and for a moment, almost the only noise heard was the swinging of the rising storm. At length the sound of voices and hurrying footsteps rose distinctly in the distance. The mate, who had thrown himself down, and put his ear to the sand, jumped furiously up, and exclaimed with an oath, “ There are not a dozen of them! There is no need to fly--out with your cutlasses, my lads ! Steady-stand fast!”
“Who is he,” cried Frank Hardy, “ that dares to give orders in my place ?” and, springing on shore, he levelled a pistol at the mate's head. “By all that is holy!” he continued, “the first blood shed to night shall be that of the man who disputes my authority. Jump among the rocks, you land-rascals, and disappear; and let those who belong to the ship shove off!” The voices and footsteps were now close at hand; but so promptly were the smuggler's orders obeyed, that Frank, covering the embarkation, was now the only man on shore, while the cutter, loosened from the beach, was ready at a moment 's notice to swing off. At this instant, however, the leader of the revenue party reached the scene of action.
“ In the King's name!” he cried, levelling a blow at the smuggler, which almost knocked him into the sea. Frank, without an attempt at retaliation, leaped on board, and was followed by his enemy, whose comrades were now at the water's edge. These, however, were an instant too late -- the shore was steep, and the vessel already drifting. Frank, half stunned by the blow he had received, and uncertain, from the darkness, how many of the king's officers were on board, grappled with the fated man as he touched the deck. The struggle was
furious, but brief. As his enemy's foot slipped upon an oar, the outlaw bent him, by main force, over the gunwale; and the next moment a smothered cry, and a plunge in the troubled waters, told the event. The vessel was by this time a cable's length from the beachthe night was dark, and the wind was off shore !
Frank Hardy remained for a considerable time in the same position, leaning over the gunwale, and fixing a stupified gaze upon the abyss; and when at length he recovered his recollection, the shore was already far distant, and the vessel standing out to sea. .“ To the point!” he shouted, suddenly and sternly“ to the nearest point!” and seized the helm himself, to give effort to his orders. They once more neared the beach, but at a different place, and Frank leaped upon the rocks.
• Mate,” said he, " the goods that still remain on board are of little value—I resign the charge of them to you. Land them when you will — my Last Trip is ended-good night!” and so saying, he darted up the cliff, heedless of the tumult which his hasty desertion had occasioned on board.
“ His companions were near him," muttered Frank, on his hasty journey, while drops of cold perspiration trickled down his brow—“ their boats could not be far distant- and he was a fine, able fellow, one who would not suffer himself to sink without good cause !” The heaviness of his heart, however, gave the lie to his words, and he took the way to Mr. D'Arcy's house, in an agony of soul which it is impossible to describe. It was late when he arrived, and Mr. D'Arcy was from home; but Jane was up, and dressed as if to receive company. When the young pair met, they stood silent for some moments, reading strange things in one another's faces. Jane's face and figure had lost all their finely rounded proportion. Her features were sharp; her eyes wild and anxious ;-and not a tinge of colour was visible on her cheek.
“ You are unwell, Jane !" said Frank, pressing her sorrowfully to his heart—" but we shall be happy yet. My Last Trip is ended!”
“ Indeed !” said Jane, and she looked with deep, strange meaning in his face—" all, then, is over- and well over?”
“ I hope so," replied Frank, and they sunk again into silence.
“ Come, come,” said he at length, with a start ; “ you infect me with your strange sadness. An accident has happened; but a slight one. We were attacked at the Cove, and a man knocked into the sea. A ducking at the worst! My hands are now washed of the business; the Beauty is my own, as my share of former profits; and I tell you, love, we shall he happy still. What is the news? what of your family ? are all well?”. .“ I could almost be happy,” said Jane, with a momentary return of former spirits, “when I think that