« PreviousContinue »
PUBLISHED BY WILLIAM AND ROBERT CHAMBERS.
'They are at it!-they are at it!' now for the first time shouted our skipper, who had served his time, and held a lieutenant's commission in the royal navy; 'I'll stake my life, some of our cruisers have taken the pirate in tow! Will she do nothing?'-(to the man at the wheel, for we were still completely becalmed)— What would I not give, were it but to have a view of them?'
'She minds the helm no more than if she were a brute beast!' responded the helmsman in a tone and key in happy sympathy with our captain's impatient query, while he kept rocking from foot to foot with the rapidity of a stop-watch mainspring.
It is impossible to describe the excitement which prevailed amongst the crew, most of whom were old manof-war's men. After some time, the sound of the large guns entirely ceased, while that of the smaller ones incessantly continued—implying, as was natural to suppose, that the latter had silenced the others, and that the crew of the supposed pirate were following up their advantage. At this crisis, a deputation of about twenty of our crew came aft, and entreated the captain's permission to hoist out a couple of boats, and allow them to pull to the scene of action. But the skipper understood his duty too well to give way to the enthusiasm of his men, although evidently gratified at their disinterested courage.
Morning at length dawned, and the nature of the conflict became distinctly visible, as also that the island of St Domingo was about two leagues to lecward of us. A British frigate lay about a mile ahead of us, with the national flag drooping from the mizen-peak, but without any other rag upon her spars. At about two miles' distance was the identical schooner that had alarmed us so much during the night, her long mainmast being entirely bare excepting her royals, which, however, were now entirely useless, as not a breath of air lifted them. But long sweeps had been put in requisition, and were every moment increasing the distance betwixt her and her assailant. The latter, however, had got out the jolly-boat, which, with a couple of large swivels fixed on her bows, maintained
SCENES AT SE A.
THE PIRATE-THE SHARK.
ON a beautiful Sunday evening, after prayers had been said on board the Hector, a merchant-vessel bound for Jamaica, the crew and passengers continued to lounge upon deck, in order apparently to enjoy the tranquillity, if not the beauty of the scene, which harmonised remarkably well with the character of the day. We were now amongst the Lesser Antilles; and both for this reason, and the fact that slavers and pirates were then very numerous in the Caribbean Sea, we were obliged always to keep a sharp look-out, more especially at sundown. To take a minute survey of the horizon, was the regular practice of the captain before the expiry of the short twilight; but on this occasion, not a speck of any description whatever was visible. With the daylight the wind also died completely away; but, in case of sudden squalls during the night, our studding, and a great part of the other sails, were clewed up, and all made snug aloft,' to use the technical phrase. It might be about two hours after sunset, but the greater portion of the passengers were still on