Tải bản đầy đủ

Captain brand of the centipede (1)


The Project Gutenberg eBook, Captain Brand of the "Centipede", by H. A.
(HenryAugustus)Wise
ThiseBookisfortheuseofanyoneanywhereatnocostandwith
almostnorestrictionswhatsoever.Youmaycopyit,giveitawayor
re-useitunderthetermsoftheProjectGutenbergLicenseincluded
withthiseBookoronlineatwww.gutenberg.org

Title:CaptainBrandofthe"Centipede"
APirateofEminenceintheWestIndies:HisLoveandExploits,Togetherwith
SomeAccountoftheSingularMannerbyWhichHeDepartedThisLife
Author:H.A.(HenryAugustus)Wise
ReleaseDate:June5,2009[eBook#29047]
Language:English
Charactersetencoding:ISO-8859-1
***STARTOFTHEPROJECTGUTENBERGEBOOKCAPTAINBRANDOF
THE"CENTIPEDE"***

E-textpreparedbyRobertCicconetti,KatherineWard,
andtheProjectGutenbergOnlineDistributedProofreadingTeam
(http://www.pgdp.net)

fromdigitalmaterialgenerouslymadeavailableby
InternetArchive/CanadianLibraries
(http://www.archive.org/details/toronto)

ImagesoftheoriginalpagesareavailablethroughInternet
Note: Archive/CanadianLibraries.See
http://www.archive.org/details/captainbrandofce00wiseuoft





CAPTAINBRAND.


CAPTAINBRAND,
OFTHE

“CENTIPEDE.”
APIRATEOFEMINENCEINTHEWESTINDIES:
HisLovesandExploits,
TOGETHERWITHSOMEACCOUNTOFTHESINGULARMANNER
BYWHICHHEDEPARTEDTHISLIFE.

BY

HARRYGRINGO,
(H.A.WISE,U.S.N.),
AUTHOROF“LOSGRINGOS,”“TALESFORTHEMARINES,”AND“SCAMPAVIAS.”

“OurGodandsailorswealikeadore,
Intimeofdanger––notbefore;
Thedangerpassed,botharealikerequited:
Godisforgotten,andthesailorslighted.”
WITHILLUSTRATIONS.
NEWYORK:
HARPER&BROTHERS,PUBLISHERS,
FRANKLINSQUARE.
1864.
Entered,accordingtoActofCongress,intheyearonethousandeighthundred


andsixty-four,by
HARPER&BROTHERS,

IntheClerk’sOfficeoftheDistrictCourtoftheSouthernDistrictofNewYork.



CONTENTS
PARTI
CHAPTER

I.
II.
III.
IV.
V.
VI.
VII.
VIII.
IX.
X.
XI.
XII.
XIII.
XIV.
XV.
XVI.
XVII.
XVIII.
XIX.
XX.
XXI.
XXII.
XXIII.
XXIV.
XXV.
XXVI.


SPREADINGTHESTRANDS
CALM
HIGHNOON
SUNSET
DARKNESS
DANGER
THEMEETINGANDMOURNING
CAPTAINBRANDATHOME
CAPTAINANDMATE
ANOLDSPANIARDWITHONEEYE
CONVERSATIONINPOCKETSANDSLEEVES
DOCTORANDPRIEST
AMANLYFANDANGO
APIRATES’DINNER
DROWNINGAMOTHERTOMURDERADAUGHTER
NUPTIALSOFTHEGIRLWITHDARKEYES
DOOMOFDOÑALUCIA
ENDOFTHEBANQUET
FANDANGOONONELEG
BUSINESS
TREASURE
PLEASURE
WORK
CAUGHTINANET
THEMOUSETHATGNAWEDTHENET
THEHURRICANE

PAGE

5
7
15
21
24
33
42
44
53
61
69
73
79
85
92
103
112
119
122
133
138
144
150
154
160
166


XXVII.
XXVIII.

THEVIRGINMARY
THEARKTHATJACKBUILT

168
173



PARTII
XXIX.
XXX.
XXXI.
XXXII.
XXXIII.
XXXIV.
XXXV.
XXXVI.
XXXVII.
XXXVIII.
XXXIX.
XL.
XLI.
XLII.
XLIII.
XLIV.
XLV.
XLVI.
XLVII.
XLVIII.
XLIX.
L.

LAYINGUPTHESTRANDS
OLDFRIENDS
THECOMMANDEROFTHE“ROSALIE”
ASPLICEPARTED
THEBLUEPENNANTINTHECABIN
THEDEVILTOPAY
ANDTHEPITCHHOT
THECHASE
THEWRECKOFTHE“CENTIPEDE”
VULTURESANDSHARKS
ESCONDIDO
PAULDARCANTEL
INSTINCTANDWONDER
TRUTHANDTERROR
PEACEANDLOVE
SNUFFOUTOFADIAMONDBOX
LILIESANDSEA-WEED
PARTING
DEVOTION
ALLALIVEAGAIN
THEROPELAIDUP
ONABEDOFTHORNS

179
186
193
198
201
203
208
214
220
226
231
236
243
247
252
256
262
266
270
273
278
288


ILLUSTRATIONS
PAGE

CAPTAINBRAND
“WHENTHEWINDCOMESFROMGOODSANANTONIO”
THEPIRATESBOARDINGTHEBRIG
THENIGHTCHASE
THEPIRATEDEN
THE“PANCHITA”
“HETOUCHEDTHEBELLOVERHEADASHESPOKE”
APIRATES’DINNER
THEPIRATE’SPREY
“ASUPERNATURALWARNING!”
SHRIVINGASINNER
“HECREPTFORWARDONHANDSANDKNEES”
“ADULL,HEAVY,BOOMINGROAR”
“SEEIFYOUCANNOTSLIPTHATPRETTYSILKROPEOVERMY
HEAD”
BUILDINGTHEBOAT
THEUNITEDSTATESFRIGATE“MONONGAHELA”
“QUEEROLDSTICK,THAT!”SAIDTHECOMMODORE
ANDTHEPITCHHOT
THESTERNCHASE
“HISRIGHTARMPOISEDWITHCLENCHEDHANDALOFT,”ETC.
THEOLDWATER-LOGGEDLAUNCH
“NOWCAPTAINBRANDKNEWWHATWASCOMING”

Frontispiece
12
26
38
47
50
65
85
94
116
124
141
156
162
174
183
188
208
217
256
280
294


PARTI.
CHAPTERI.
SPREADINGTHESTRANDS.
“Shoutthreetimesthree,likeOcean’ssurges,
Join,brothers,join,thetoastwithme;
Here’stothewindoflife,whichurges
Theshipwithswellingwaveso’ersea!”

“Masters,Icannotspinayarn
Twicelaidwithwordsofsilkenstuff.
Afact’safact;andyemaylarn
Therightso’this,thoughwildandrough
Mywordsmayloom.’Tisyourconsarn,
Notmine,tounderstand.Enough––”
IT WAS in the year of our Lord eighteen hundred and five, and in the River
Garonne,wherealarge,wholesomemerchantbriglayplacidlyonthebroadand
shining water. The fair city of Bordeaux, with its great mass of yellow-tinted
buildings, towers, and churches, rose from the river’s banks, and the din and
bustleofthegreatmartcamefaintlytotheear.Thesailsofthebrigwereloosed,
thecrewwerehaulinghomethesheetsandhoistingthetop-sailswiththeclear,
hearty songs of English sailors, while the anchor was under foot and the cable
rubbingwithatautstrainagainstthevessel’sbluffbows.Atthegangwaystooda
large,handsomeseaman,bronzedbythesunandwindsofabouthalfacentury,
dressed in a square-cut blue jacket and loose trowsers, talking to the pilot––a
brown little Frenchman, in coarse serge raiment and large, clumsy sabots. The
conversationbetweenthemwascarriedonpartlybysigns,for,inanswertothe
pilot, the other threw his stalwart arm aloft toward the folds of the spreading
canvas,andnoddedhishead.
“Fortbien!vitedonc!monCapitaine,”saidthepilot;“thetideisontheebb;let
usgo.Upanchor!”
6


“Ay, pilot!” replied the captain, pulling out his watch; “in ten minutes. The
ladies,youknow,musthavetimetosay‘good-by.’Isn’titso,mypilot?”
ThegallantlittleFrenchmansmiledinacquiescence,and,takingoffhisglazed
hat with the air of a courtier, said, “Pardieu! certainly; why not? Jean Marie
wouldlosehispilotageratherthanhurryalady.”
Goingafttotheraisedcabinonthequarter-deck,thecaptainsoftlyopenedthe
starboarddoor,andlookingin,said,inakindlytone,
“It is time to part, my friends; the pilot says we are losing the strength of the
tide,sowemustkissandbeoff.”
Two lovely women were sitting, hand clasped in hand, on the sofa of the
transom.Yousawtheyweresistersofnearlythesameage,andalittleboyand
girltumblingabouttheirkneesshowedtheyweremothers––youngmotherstoo,
for the soft, full, rounded forms of womanhood, with the flush of health and
matronlypridetingedtheircheeks,whilemassesofdarkhairbandedovertheir
smoothbrowsandtearfuleyestoldthestoryataglance.Theyrosetogetheras
thecaptainspoke.
“Adieu, chère Rosalie! we shall soon meet again, let us hope, never more to
part.”
“Adieu,Nathalie!adieu,dearestsister!adieu!adieu!”
Thelovingarmsweretwinedaroundeachotherinthelastembrace;thetearsfell
likegentlerain,butwithsmilesofhopeandtrustfulnesstheyparted.
“Ay,” said the sturdy skipper, as he stood with eyes brimful of moisture
regarding the sisters, “ay, trust me for bringing you together again. Well do I
rememberwhenyouwerelittleweethings,whenIbroughtyoutoFranceafter
the earthquake in Jamaica; just like these little rogues here”––and he laid his
brawnyhandsontheheadsofthechildren,whoclungtoeachotherwithinthe
foldsoftheirmothers’dresses;“butneverfear,mydarlings,”hewenton,“you
willmeethappilyagain.Ay,thatyoushall,ifoldJacobBluntbeabovelandor
water.”
A boat which was lying alongside the brig shoved off; the little boy, who had
beenleftonboard,washeldhighabovetherailinthearmsofasturdynegro,
while the mother stood beside him, waving her handkerchief to the boat as it
pulledrapidlyawaytowardtheshore.
“Man the windlass, lads!” cried the captain. “Mister Binks, brace round the


head-yards,andupwiththejibassoonastheanchor’sa-weigh.”
Thewindlassclinkedastheironpallscaughtthestrainofthecable,theanchor
waswrenchedfromitsoozybed,thevessel’sheadfelloff,and,gatheringway,
shemovedquietlydowntheRiverGaronne.

CHAPTERII.
CALM.
“Itceased:yetstillthesailsmadeon
Apleasantnoisetillnoon––
Anoiselikethatofahiddenbrook
IntheleafymonthofJune.
Tillnoonwequietlysailedon,
Yetneverabreezedidbreathe;
Slowlyandsmoothlywenttheship,
Movedonwardfrombeneath.”
THEgreatlumberingbrig,withyardssquare,main-sailhauledup,andthejiband
trysailinthebrails,laylistlesslyrollingontheeasyswellofthewater,givinga
gentle send forward every minute or so, when the sluggish sails would come
withathunderingslapagainstthemasts,andtheloosecordagewouldrattlelike
adrum-major’sratanonaspree.Theseawasoneglassymirrorofundulations,
shimmeringoutintofullblazeastherisingsunjustthrewitsraysalongthecrest
oftheoceanswell;andthen,dippingdownintotherollingmass,thehuewould
change to a dark green, and, coming up again under the brig’s black counter,
wouldswishoutintoalittleshowerofbubbles,andsparkleagainjoyously.
Away off in the distance lay the island of Jamaica––the early haze about the
mountaintopsrisinglikeawhitelaceveilfromthedeepvalleysbelow,withhere
andthereawhitedotofaclusterofbuildingsgleamingoutfromthesombreland
like the flicker of a heliotrope, and at intervals the base of the coast bursting
forthinalong,heavyfringeoffoam,asthelazybreakerschafedidlyaboutthe


rocks of some projecting headland. Nearer, too, were the dark succession of
waving blue lines in parallel bars and patches of the young land wind, tipping
thebacksoftherollersinaflutteringrippleofcats’-paws,andthenwandering
sportivelyawayouttosea.
Onboardthebrig,forward,werethreeorfourbarefootedsailors,inloosefrocks
andtrowsers,movinglazilyaboutthedecks,drawingbucketsofwateroverthe
side and dashing it against the bulwarks, while others were scrubbing and
clearingupthevesselfortheday.Thecaboose,too,begantoshowsignsoflife,
andathincolumnofsmokerosegracefullyupinthecalmmorningairuntilit
camewithintheeddyinginfluenceofthesailsandtop-hamper,whenabitofroll
wouldpuffitawayinbluecurlsbeyond.
Abaft stood a low, squat-built sailor at the wheel, his striped Guernsey cap
hangingononeofthespokes,andhisbodyleaning,halfasleep,overthebarrel,
which gave him a sharp twitch every now and then when the sea caught the
rudder on the wrong side. Near at hand, with an arm around an after top-mast
backstay, and head resting over the rail, was the mate, Mr. Binks, with a spyglass to his eye, through which he was peering at the distant hills of Jamaica.
Presently,ashewasabouttowithdrawthebrasstube,andastheoldbrigyawed
withherheadinshore,somethingappearedtoarresthisattention;for,changing
hisposition,andclimbinguptothebreakofthedeckcabin,hesteadiedhimself
bytheshrouds,andrubbinghiseyewiththesleeveofhisshirt,hegavealong
lookthroughtheglass,mutteringtohimselfthewhile.Atlast,havingapparently
madeuphismind,hesangouttothemanatthewheelinthisstrain:
“Ben,mylad,lookalive;catchaturnwiththemhalliardsovertheleewheel;and
justtakethis’ereglassandtripuptothefore-yard,andseewhatyemakeofthat
fellow,hereawayundertheeastermostheadland.”
Ben,withoutmoreado,securedthespokesofthewheel,clappedhiscaponhis
head,hitcheduphistrowsers,and,takingtheglassfromthemate,rolledaway
upthefore-rigging.MeanwhileMr.Binkswalkedforward,stoppingamomentat
thecaboosetotakeatinpotofcoffeefromthecook,andthen,goingontothe
topsail-sheetbitts,hecarefullyseatedhimself,andleisurelybegantostirupthe
sugarinhisbeveragewithanironspoon,makingalittlecymbalmusicwithiton
theoutsidewhilehegulpeditdown.Hehadnotbeenmanyminutesoccupiedin
thiswaywhenBenhailedthedeckfromthefore-yard.
“Ondeckthere!”
“Hallo!”ejaculatedMr.Binks.


“I see that craft,” cried Ben; “she’s a fore and after, sails down, and sweeping
alongtheland.Shehasn’tgotabreathofwind,sir.”
“Verywell,”saidMr.Binks,speakingintothetinpotwithasoundlikeasheetironorgan;“comedown.”
AsBenwriggledhimselfoffthefore-yardandcaughtholdofthefuttockshrouds
to swing into the standing rigging, he suddenly paused, and putting the glass
againtohiseye,hesangout:
“I say, sir! here is a big chap away off on the other quarter, under top-sails.
There! Perhaps ye can see him from the deck, about a handspike clear of the
sun”––pointingwiththespy-glassashespokeintheproperdirection.
“Allright!”saidthemate,ashebeganagainthecymbalpotandspoonmusic;
“becalmed,ain’the?”
“Yes,sir;notenoughairtoraiseahaironmyoldgrandmother’swig!”muttered
Ben,asheslowlytrotteddowntherigging.
The sun came up glowing like a ball of fire. The land wind died away long
beforeitflutteredfarofffromtheisland,and,savingtheuneasyclatterattimes
of the loose sails and running gear, all remained as before. It was getting on
towardeighto’clock,andwhilethecookwasdishingthebreakfastmessforthe
crewbeneathanawningforwardofthequarter-deck,thecaptaincameupfrom
hiscabinbelow.Thestalwartoldseamansteppedtothebulwarks,and,shading
hiseyeswithhishandfromtheglare,hetookabroadglanceoverthewaterto
seaward,noddedtothemate,andsaid,inacheerfulvoice,
“Dulltimes,matey!Nosignsofabreezeyet,eh?”
“No,captain,”saidMr.Binks;“deadasditchwater;notbeenenoughairtolifta
feathersinceyouwentbelowatfouro’clock.Butwehavesaggedinshorebythe
current a few leagues during the night, and here’s old Jamaica plain in sight
broadoffthebow.”
“Well,it’snotsobadafterall,aforty-fourdays’passage––soI’lltellmyLady
Birdpassenger.”
Goingtothelatticeddoorofthedeckcabin,thejollyskipperthrewitwideopen,
clapped his hands together thrice, and then, placing them to his mouth like a
speaking-trumpet,hebellowedout,inadeep,lowroar,
“Heaveoutthere,allhands!Heaveout,LadyBirdandbaby!Landho!”


There came a joyous note from a soft womanly voice within a screen drawn
across the after cabin, mingled with a little cooing grunt from a child, and
presently an inner door swung back, and the sweetest little tot of a boy came
tumblingoutintotheopenspace,andsprangatonceintothecaptain’sarms.The
little fellow buried his brown curly head into the old skipper’s whiskers, and
then,kickinguphisfatnakedlegs,helaughedandchatteredlikeamagpie.
“Aha!youyoungscamp,thissmallnosesmellstheorangesandcinnamon,eh?
And dear lazy mamma shuts her pretty eyes, and won’t look for papa, and so
nearhome,too!”
HereMadameRosalie’slowsweetvoicetrilledoutmerrilyinaslightlyforeign
accent,whilethecontraltotonesvibratedontheearlikethenoteofaharp.
“Ah!boncapitaine,howcouldyoudeceiveme?Still,Iforgiveyou fortelling
melastnightthatweweresofarfromKingston.Whenyouknow,too,”shewent
oninherCreoleaccent,“howIloveandwanttoseemydearhusbandtheselast
fouryears,sinceyoucarriedhimawayinyourgoodbigship.Butnevermind,
mygoodfriend,Ishallpayyouoffoneofthesedays;andnowsend,please,for
Banoutodresshislittleboy.”
Scarcely had the worthy skipper reached a bell-rope near at hand, and given it
onejerk,thanthecabindooropened,andinsteppedabrawnyblack,whosebare
woollyheadandwhiteteethandeyesglitteredwithdelight.Therewasthatabout
his face which indicated intelligence, courage, devotion, and humanity––those
indescribable marks of expression which Nature sometimes stamps in
unmistakablelinesontheskin,whetheritbewhiteorblack.Hewasbelowthe
middle height, but the large head was set with a great swelling throat on the
shouldersofaTitan.Hisloosewhiteandredstripedshirtwasthrownwellback
over his black and broad chest; and putting out a pair of muscular arms that
seemedasmassiveandheavyaslignumvitæ,theboyjumpedfromthecaptain
to meet them; and then sticking his little soft legs down the slack of Banou’s
shirt,heranhisrosyfingersinhiswool,andshoutedwithglee.
“Oho!”saidtheblack,ashepassedhishugearmsaroundthelittlefellow,and
smootheddownhisscantynight-dressasifitweretheplumageofabird,“oho!
littleMasterHenriloveshisBanou,eh?Good,hetakebath.”
Bearing his charge out upon the quarter-deck beneath the awning, he pulled a
largetubfromunderaboatturnedupsidedownoverthedeckcabin;andthen,
while the young monkey had scrambled round to his back, and was beating a
tattoo with his tiny fists on his shoulders, Banou caught up a bucket and


proceededtodrawwaterfromovertheside,whichhedashedintothetub.When
hehadnearlyfilledthetubhefeltaroundwithhisblackpawsasdelicatelyasif
hewasabouttoseizeamusquito,and,clutchingthekickinglegswithonehand,
hespunthelittlefellowasomersaultoverhishead,andskinningoffatthesame
time his diminutive frock, plunged him into the sparkling brine, singing the
whileinalaughingchant:
“DisisthewaystrongBanoucatchhim,
Firsthestripanddenhe’plashhim;
Henrihejumpand’creamforhismoder,
ButBanoulubhimmoredanhisbroder!”
Herethebrawnynursewouldsousehimheadoverheelsinthesparklingwater,
lifthimupateverydip,rubhisblacknosealloverhim,makingmockbitesat
the little legs and stomach; and, finally, holding him aloft, dripping, laughing,
andstruggling,goonwithhisrefrain:
“Whatwillpapasaywhenheseeshim,
Picaninnyboydatissuretopleasehim?
BigBanouherubanddresshim,
ButlittleHenrihekickandpinchhim!”
Allthistimethemenseatedforwardonthedeck,peggingawaydeepintotheir
mess-kids,wouldpauseoccasionally,shaketheirgreattarryfingersattheimp,
and chuckle pleasantly with their mouths full of lobscouse, as if the urchin
belongedtothemasindividualproperty.
“Whatatidylittlechaphe’llmakesomeofthesedays,”saidBen,“a-furlin’the
lightsailsinasquall!Myeye!wouldn’tIliketoliveandseehim!”
“No,no,messmates,”repliedthatworthy,ashecrunchedabiscuitandtookasip
of coffee out of the pot, “that ’ere child will, some of these times, when he’s
growedabit,bea-wearinggoldswabsonhisshoulders,anda-givin’hisorders
likeahadmiralofafleet!”
“Quiteright,myhearty!It’llneverdoforsichaknowin’littlechubtospendhis
daysalongshorea-bilin’sugar-caneonaplantation,anda-footin’upaccounts;
for,yemind,hewaslikethechipaswas
“‘Bornatsea,andhiscradleafrigate,
Theboatswainhenursedhimtrueblue;
He’llsoonlearntofight,drink,andjigit,
Andquizeverysoulofthecrew!’”


Whiletheseoldsaltswerethuscarvingoutadestinyfortheyoungster,theblack
gavehimafinalsouseinthetub,andthenholdinghimuptodrain,asitwere,
forthelasttime,exclaimed,whilehisfacelightedupwithpleasure,
“Oho, my little massa! what will papa say to-morrow when he sees his brave
Henri?”
“Ah!howhappyhewillbe,Banou!”saidthelovelymother,whohadjustcome
ondeck,asshekissedthemouthoftheyoungscamp,whiletheblackwrapped
anddriedhislittlenakedbodyinalargetowel.
“Ah!yes,mymistress,weallwillbehappyoncemoretogethometomasteron
theplantation.”
“Tellme!tellme,goodcapitaine,”saidshe,turninginaprettycoquettishwayto
theskipper,“whenshallwegetinport?”
Itwasasighttoseeher,intheloosewhitemorning-gownfoldedinplaitsabout
theswellingbosom,herslenderwaistclaspedbyaflowingbluesash,thedark
brown satin bands of her hair confined by a large gold filigree pin, and half
concealedbyajauntylittleFrenchcap,withtheribbonsfloatingaboutherpearshaped ears; and while her soft, dark hazel eyes were bent eagerly toward the
solid old skipper, her round, rosy, dimpled fingers clasped a miniature locket
fastenedbyamassivelinkedgoldchainaroundherneck.Ah!shewasasightto
seeandlove!
“Tell me, mon cher Capitaine Blunt, how many hours or minutes will it be
beforeIshallbeholdmyhusband?”
The good-natured skipper laughed pleasantly at the eagerness of his beautiful
passenger,andopeninghishandswide,hegaveventtoalong,lowwhistle,and
replied,
“WhenthewindcomesfromgoodSanAntonio,myLadyBird––whentheseabreezemakes––thentheoldbrigwillreelofftheknots!Butsee!justnownota
breathtokeepatropicbird’swingsout.There,lookatthatfellow!”
Highupintheheavens,twoorthreemen-of-warbirds,withwide-spreadpointed
wings, and their swallow tails cut as sharp as knife-blades, were heading
seaward, and every little while falling in a rapid sidelong plunge, as if in a
vacuum,andthenagaingivinganalmostimperceptibledashwiththeirpinions
astheyrecoveredthelostspaceandcontinuedonintheirsilentflight.
“That’s a sure sign, Madame Rosalie,” continued the skipper, “that the trade


windhasblownitselfout,andthechancesarethatthishotsunwilldrinkupthe
flyingclouds,andleaveusinadeadcalmtillthemoonquartersto-night.What
sayyou,Mr.Binks?amIright?”
“Neverknow’dyoutobewrong,sir,”saidthemate,withanhonestintonationof
voice,ashetriedtostarethesunoutofcountenanceinfollowingthecaptain’s
glance.
“Hélas!” said the young mother, with a little sigh of sadness, as she stood
peering over the lee rail to the green hills and slopes of the island, standing
boldlyoutnowwiththeloftybluemountainscuttingtheskytenthousandfeetin
mid-heaven;“sonear,too;andheisthinkingandwaitingforus!”
“Come,”exclaimedtheskipper,heartily,“theyoungsterwantshisbreakfast!”


“WHENTHEWINDCOMESFROMGOODSANANTONIO,MYLADYBIRD––”

15

CHAPTERIII.
HIGHNOON.
“Nolifeisintheair,butinthewaters
Arecreatureshuge,andterrible,andstrong;
Theswordfishandthesharkpursuetheirslaughters;
Waruniversalreignsthesedepthsalong.
Thelovelypurpleofthenoon’sbestowing
Hasvanishedfromthewaters,whereitflung
Aroyalcolor,suchasgemsarethrowing
Tyrianorregalgarnitureamong.”
HIGH noon! Still the stanch old brig bowed and dipped her bluff bows into the
long, easy swell of the tropics; the round, flat counter sent the briny bubbles
sparkling away in the glare of the noontide sun; the sails flapped and chafed
against the spars and rigging, while the crew sheltered themselves beneath the
awnings,anddozedonpeacefully.
Offtoseawardafewdeadtrade-cloudsshowedtheirwhitebulgingcheeksalong
the horizon, and occasionally a fluttering blue patch of a breeze would skim
furtivelyoverthebacksoftherollers;butlongbeforetheyreachedthebrigthey
hadexpendedtheirforce,andexpiredintheboundlesscalm.
Notso,however,withthelargesailthathadbeenseenfromthebrigintheearly
morning.For,withaloftyspreadofkitesandastudding-sailortwo,sheattimes
caught a flirting puff of air, and when the sun had passed the zenith she had
approached within half a mile or less of the brig. There was no mistaking the
stranger’scharacter.Hertaunt,trimmasts,squareyards,andclear,delicateblack


tracery of rigging, shadowed by a wide spread of snow-white canvas over the
low,darkhull––whichateveryrollinthegentleundulationsexposedarowof
portswithaglanceofwhiteinnerbulwarks––whilethebrassstarsofherbattery
reflectedsparksoffirefromtheblazingraysofthesun,showedshewasamanof-war.
“She’soneofourcruisers,Ithink,sir,”saidthemate,ashehandedthespy-glass
to the captain; “but Ben here believes contrariwise, and says she is a French
corvette.”
“Have to try again, Mr. Binks; for, to my mind, she’s an out-and-out Yankee
sloop-of-war.Ay!theregoeshiscolorsuptothegaff!soupwithourensign,or
elsehe’llbeburningsomepowderforus.”
Evenwhiletheywerespeakingaflagwentrapidlyupinarolltothecorvette’s
peak,when,shakingitselfclear,itlaywhiteandred,withagalaxyofwhitestars
inablueunion,ontheleesideofthespanker;whileatthesameinstantalong,
thin, coach-whip of a pennant unspun itself from the main truck, and hung
motionlessinthecalmdownthemast.Herdeckswerefullofmen,standingin
groups under the shade of the sails to leeward; and on the poop were three or
four officers in uniform and straw hats. One of these last stood for some time
gazingatthebrig––onehandrestingontheratlinesofthemizzenshrouds,and
theotherslowlyswingingatrumpetbackwardandforward.Presentlyanofficer
with a pair of gleaming epaulets on his shoulders mounted the poop ladder,
touchedhishat,andwavedhishandtowardthebrig.Amomentafter––
“Brigahoy!”cameinasharp,clear,manlytonethroughthetrumpet.
“Sir?”
“Whatbrigisthat?”
“The‘MarthaBlunt!’namedaftermydearoldwife,Godblessher!andmyself,
JacobBlunt,Godblessme!”addedthejollyskipper,inasottovocechuckleto
thefairpassengerwhostoodbesidehim.
“Whereareyoufrom,andwherebound?”cameagainthroughthetrumpet.
“Bordeaux, and bound to Kingston. We have a free passport from Sir Robert
CalderandAdmiralVilleneuve.”
There was a wave of the trumpet as the speaker finished hailing, and then
touchinghishattotheofficerwiththegoldswabs,andpausingonlyamoment,
hemovedtotheothersideofthecorvette’spoop.


“Itwouldbenomorenorpoliteinhimtotelluswhathisnameis,arterallthe
questionshe’saxed.”
“Don’tyeknow,Mr.Binks,”brokeinthecaptain,“thatthedignityofaman-ofwarissichthatitwouldn’tbediscreettotellnomorethanthatshehasacargoof
cannon balls, and going on a cruise any wheres? which ye may believe is as
muchvaluableinformationaswemightgetoutofourowncalabasheswithout
askingaquestion.”
“Youareallersright,CaptainBlunt,butIdidnottaxmymindtothinkwhenI
spokethemremarks,”saidBinks,deferentially.
Thecruiser,however,seemedmorecommunicativethanthemategavehercredit
for,andamomentaftertheofficerwiththetrumpetsangout,
“This is the United States ship ‘Scourge,’ from Port Royal, bound on a cruise!
Pleasereportus.”
Andagain,afterafewwordsapparentlywiththeofficerwiththeepaulets,the
trumpetwasraisedtohislips,andheasked,“Haveyouseenanyvesselslately?”
The skipper was on the point of answering the hail, when his mate said, “Beg
pardon,CaptainBlunt,but Benandmemade outafore-and-aftschoonerairly
thismorning,withsweepsout,pullinginundertheoutermostheadlandthere,”
pointingwithhishornyfingerashespoke.
“Nothing,sir,butasmallschooneratdaylightsweepingtowindward.”
“What?”camebackinaclear,quicknotefromthecorvette.
“Smallfore-and-after,sir,withsailsdownandsweepsout,closeundertheland.”
Inamomenttwoorthreeofficersonthecruiser’sdeckputtheirheadstogether,
several glasses were directed toward the now dim mirage-like shadow of the
island, and the next instant the sharp ring of a boatswain’s whistle was heard,
followedbyagruffcallof,“Awaythere!Ariels,away!”
Immediately a cluster of sailors, in white frocks and trowsers and straw hats,
sprangovertheship’squartertothedavits;andthenwithachirruping,surging
pipe,aboatfellrapidlytothewater.Thefallswerecastoff,thecutterhauledup
tothegangway,andsoonanofficersteppedoverthesideandtrippeddownto
theboat.Thewhitebladesoftheoarsstooduponendinadoubleline,theboat
pushed off, the oars fell with a single splash, and she steered for the brig.
Descendingdownintothegentlevalleyofthelongswell,shewoulddisappear
foraninstant,tillnothingbutthewhitehatsandfeatherbladesoftheoarswere


visible; and again rising on the crest, the water flashed off in foam from her
bowsasshecamedancingon.
Inafewminutesthecoxswaincried,“Wayenough,”andthrowinguphishand
with the word “Toss,” the cutter shot swiftly alongside; the boat-hooks of the
bowmenbroughtherupwithasuddenjar,andthenextmomentanofficerwith
an epaulet on his right shoulder and a sword by his side stepped over the
gangway. The skipper was there to receive him, to whom he touched his cap
withhisforefinger;butashiseyeglancedafthesawalady,andhegracefully
removed his cap and bowed like a gentleman to her. He was a man of about
eight-and-twenty,withafine,manly,sailor-likefigureandair,andwithapairof
bright,determinedgrayeyesinhisheadthatarascalwouldnotcaretolookinto
twice.
“I am the first lieutenant of the ‘Scourge,’ sir,” he said, turning to the skipper,
“andifyouwillstepthisway,I’llhaveafewwordswithyou.”
This was said in a careless tone of command, but withal with frankness and
civility.Thecaptainledhimafttowardthetaffrail,butincrossingthedeckthe
littletotofaboyfollowedcloselyinhiswake,andgettingholdoftheofficer’s
sword,whichtrailedalongbyitsbelt-strapsonthedeck,hegotastrideofit,and
seizedontothecoat-skirtsofthewearer.Thelittletughegavecausedtheofficer
toturnround,andwithacheerfulsmileandmannerhesnatchedtheurchinupin
hisarms,kissedhimonbothcheeks,andasheputhimdownagainanddetached
hisswordforhimtoplaywith,heexclaimed,
“Whatagloriouslittlereeferyou’llmakeoneofthesedays!Won’tyou?”
“Oui!oui!monpapa!”saidthe littlescamp,ashelookedknowingly upinthe
officer’sface.
“Excusemylittleboy,sir,”saidhismother,whowasinchaseofhim;andthen
turningtothechildwithablushspreadingoverherlovelyface,“Itisnotyour
papa,Henri!papaisinKingston.”
“Ah!madame,Ilovechildren.Ihadonceadearlittlefellowlikethis,butboth
heandhissweetmotherareinheavennow.Godblessthem!”
Aflushofsadnesstingedhischeeks,andhepassedhishandrapidlyacrosshis
eyes,asifthedreamwastoosadtodwellupon;butchanginghistone,andwhile
withonehandhepattedthelittlefellow’shead,hewenton:“Madamelivesin
Jamaica?”
“Oh yes; I was born there, but my parents were destroyed by an earthquake


whenIwasquitealittlechild,andthisgoodcaptainherecarriedmysisterand
myselftoFrancesoonafter,whereMonsieur––”hereshehesitatedandblushed
with pleasure––“where I married my husband, who is a planter on the island.
PerhapsyoumayknowMonsieurJulesPiron?”
“Piron!”saidthenavyman,withwarmth.“Ay,madame,forasfineafellowas
everplantedsugar!Knowhim?Why,madame,itisonlyaweekagothatalotof
usdinedwithhimathisestateofEscondido;youknowit,madame?inthegrand
piazza which looks down the gorge. But he behaved very shabbily,” said the
officer,ashisfacelightedupgayly,“forhekeptaspy-glasstohiseyeoftener
thanthewine-glasstohislips,inlookingoutseaward,andintalkingofhiswife
andthelittleboyhehadneverseen.”
“Oh, monsieur! you make me so happy,” said the lovely woman, as with
sparklingeyesandheavingbosomshecried,“Banou!Banou!thisgentlemanhas
justseenyourgoodmaster.”
The black, who had been standing near and guarding every movement of his
littlecharge,whowastrailingtheswordaboutthedeck,immediatelyapproached
theofficer,and,fallingonhisknees,seizedhishandanddrewittowardhisface.
“Ah!madame,Iseethatkindnessmeetswithareturnaswellfromadarkasa
fairskin,” saidtheofficer,ina lowtone,as hegentlywithdrewhishandfrom
Banou’sgrasp.
“But,” he continued, turning toward the skipper, as the clear sound of the
cruiser’sbellstruckhisear,“ImustnotforgetwhatIcamefor.”
“You say, captain, that you saw a schooner at daylight, eh? This way, if you
please”––asheraisedhiscaptoMadamePironandwalkedovertotheotherside
ofthedeck.“Whatwasshelike?”
“Shewasreportedtomebythemate,”repliedJacobBlunt.
“Pleasesendforhim.”
“Oh!Mr.––a’––”
“Binks, sir,” said that individual, touching his hat and making an awkward
scrapeatabow.
“Well, Mr. Binks, did you clearly make out the vessel you saw this morning
undertheland?”
“Can’tsayexactly,sir,asIdid;butBenBrowntherewasonthefore-yard,and


hegotagoodsquintather.”
“Ah!canIseetheman?”
Thematestraightwaywentforward,and,afterafewpokesabouttheleewaist,
Benwasrousedoutfromunderthejolly-boatandcamerollingaft.
“You saw the schooner, eh?” said the lieutenant, as if he was in the habit of
askingsharpquestionsandgettingquickanswers.
“Yes,sir,”saidthesquatseaman,ashehitcheduphisknife-belt,andwipedhis
mouthwiththebackofhishand,andtookoffhiscap.
“Where?”
“Hereaway,sir,”withawaveofhispaw,“justclearofthatbluffforelandwhere
thegapopenswiththeBlueMountain.”
“Howwassherigged?”
“Baresticks,sir,notmuchofabowsprit,andnosailspread.Iseeherfirstbythe
flash of her sweeps in the rising sun, as she was heading about sou’-sou’-east
intotheland.”
“Twomasts,yousay?”
“Ay,sir;butIthoughtas’owtherewasajigger-likeyarda-stickingoutoverher
starn,thoughIwasn’tsartin.”
“So!” said the lieutenant, in a musing tone, and with rather a grave face and
compressedlip;“thatwilldo;thankyou,myman.”Thenplacinghishandonthe
skipper’sshoulder,hedrewhimtooneside,outofear-shot,andsaid,
“CaptainBlunt,areyoumuchacquaintedintheselatitudes?”
“Oh yes, sir, me and my old brig are regular traders here, from Bordeaux to
Jamaica,andsohometoEngland.”
“Notreasure,Ipresume?”wentontheofficer,withasmile.
“Why,lieutenant,nonetospeakof,p’raps;justahandfulofdollarsandaguinea
ortwointhebagforafewsacksofsugarorcoffee,orapipeofrum,orsichlike,
onmyownaccount.”
“Well,myfriend,thereisprobablynothingtofear,butifthebreezespringsup,
keep as close to the corvette as you can, and I shall ask the captain to keep a
look-outforyouduringthenight.”


“By the way”––the officer continued in a low tone as he moved toward the
gangway––“in case any thing should happen, you had better hoist a lantern at
yourpeakorinthemain-rigging––wehavesharpeyesforuglycustomers,and
oneortwoofthemhavebeenparticularlytroublesomeoflatehereabouts.”
Turningforamomenttobidadieutothefairladypassengeronthequarter-deck,
andrecoveringhisswordafteraplayfulstrugglewiththeyoungster,hebuckled
itaroundhiswaist,and,steppinglightlyoverthesideandintotheboat,theoars
fellwithasinglesplash,andthecuttershotrapidlyawaytowardthecorvette.

CHAPTERIV.
SUNSET.
“Lightisamidthegloomycanvasspreading,
Themooniswhiteningtheduskysails,
Fromthethickbankofcloudsshemasters,shedding
Thesoftestinfluencethato’ernightprevails.
Paleisshe,likeayoungqueenpalewithsplendor,
Hauntedwithpassionatethoughtstoofond,toodeep;
Theveryglorythatshewearsistender,
Theveryeyesthatwatchherbeautyfainwouldweep.”
NOTabreathfromthelungsofÆolus.Thesunwentdownlikeaglobeoffire;
butjustasittouchedthehorizonitflattenedoutintoanovaldisk,and,sinking
behindadead, slate-coloredcloud,shotup halfadozenbroadroseandpurple
bands,expandingastheymountedheavenward,andthenfadingawayinpearlytintedhuesinthesofteningtwilightuntilitmingledinthelightofthehalfmoon
nearlyatthezenith.Therelaytheisland,too,nowallclearagain,withtheblue
tops of the mountains marked in pure distinct outline, and falling away from
peaktopeakoneitherhand,tilltheseaflashedupinsluggishcreamyfoamat
the base. The man-of-war birds came floating in from seaward, high up, like
blackmusquitoes,withtheirpointedwingswidespreadandheadingtowardthe
land,butnowwithneveraquivertotheirsilentpinions.Aschoolofporpoises,


too,brokewaterfromtheoppositedirection,and,crossingandrecrossingeach
other’strack,cameleapingandpuffingoverthegentleswellsuntiltheystruck
thebrig’swake,whentheywheeledaroundherbows,dashedoffonaswiftvisit
tothecorvette,andthen,closingupinwateryphalanx,wentgamboling,leaping,
andbreakingwateragaintowindward.Presently,alongtheeasternhorizon,the
banks of clouds, which had been lying dead and motionless all the sultry day,
seemedtobeimbuedwithlife,and,separatingintheirfleecymasses,mounted
upabovethesea,andsoonspreadout,likealady’sfan,inalldirections.
“Ho! ho!” shouted Captain Blunt, clapping his hands, “what said I, Madame
Rosalie,whenwesawthesunsettinguphisleebackstaysawhileago?Abreeze,
eh?Come,Mr.Binks,bewideawake!Weshallbebowlingofftheknotsbefore
thewatchisout.”
Thematecaughttheenthusiasmoftheskipper,and,jumpinguponthebreakof
thedeckcabin,hesangout,
“D’yehearthere,lads?giveusagoodpullofthetop-sailhalliards,androundin
them starboard braces a bit! That’s your sort! Well, the head-yards! That’ll do
withthemain!Upwiththeflyingjib,andtrimaftthemstarboardjibandstaysail
sheets!There!Belayall.”
Meanwhile the corvette, with her lofty dimity kissing the sky, caught the first
lightairsbeforetheslightestrippledarkenedthesurfaceofthewater;andwith
her helm a-starboard, and her after-yards braced sharp up, she silently swung
roundonherheel,whilethespankercameflataft,likeasheetofwhitepaper,
andwiththehead-sailstrimmed,sheslowlymovedathwartthesternofthebrig.
Thesharpwhistlesoftheboatswainandhismates,pipinglikegoldfinches,were
theonlysoundsthatwereheard;andasthecruisermovedoninhercourse,the
decliningmooncastamellowlightoverthefoldsofhercanvas,and,likeagirl
inbridalattire,shethrewagracefulshadowoverthesmoothandswellingwaters
awayofftowindward.
Thesailsofthebrig,whichhadbeguntoswelloutineasydroopinglines,fell
back again flat to the masts as the ship crossed her wake. But as the corvette
passed,theofficerofthewatchonthepoopraisedhiscaptothelovelywoman
whowasstandingoutingracefulreliefontheuppercabindeck,withherlittle
boyheldupbesideherinthesturdyarmsoftheblack,andplacingthetrumpetto
hislips,said,inadistinctvoice,asifaddressingtheskipper,
“We shall go about at midnight. Remember the directions I gave you this
morning.Bonvoyage,madame!”Heshookhistrumpetplayfullyattheboy,who


Tài liệu bạn tìm kiếm đã sẵn sàng tải về

Tải bản đầy đủ ngay

×