The Missing Ship - The Log of the "Ouzel" Galley
by W. H. G. Kingston
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The men stationed at the aftermost guns obeyed the order, but the shot from those forward, manned by the new hands, flew wide of their mark; it might have been from their ignorance of gunnery, but, considering their late conduct, it was too probable that it was done on purpose. The rest of the crew took good aim, and then running in their guns, reloaded them.

"Here she comes!" cried the mate. "She will be aboard us presently."

As he spoke the stranger ranged up alongside, her decks covered with men. Four of the Ouzel Galley's guns alone went off, and ere they could be again loaded the stranger was alongside, throwing grappling-irons on board to secure her prey.

"Cut them clear!" cried Owen. "Resist boarders!"

As he issued the order, the pirates, who stood ready in the main and fore-rigging of their ship, leaped down on the deck of the Ouzel Galley, when, with a feeling almost of despair, Owen saw Routh and several of his crew join them. Still, rallying his men round him, he resolved, if possible, to drive back the pirates in spite of their numbers. Firing his pistols, he gallantly attacked them, cutlass in hand, seconded by his mates and several of his men, Dan and Pompey fighting with undaunted courage.

"On, my lads! on!" he shouted; and so sturdily did he and his companions attack the pirates, that they drove the greater number back to their own ship. This, success encouraged his men, and once more they began to hope that they should get free.

At this moment, a voice was heard from among the pirates cheering them on, and a fresh party leaping down on the deck of the Ouzel Galley bore all before them. In vain Owen and his faithful followers, Dan and Pompey and others, fought with the most determined bravery; they were soon overwhelmed by far superior numbers. Owen's foot slipping, he fell upon the deck. At that moment one of his assailants raised his cutlass, and was on the point of giving him a death blow, when the leader of the pirates interposed his own weapon.

"Let him live!" he exclaimed. "He is one I am bound to protect; and these fellows with him—we will spare their lives. You hear?" he shouted, turning to Dan and Pompey; "if you wish to have a longer spell of life, drop your cutlasses. The ship is ours; give in, or in another moment you will be among those who lie there on the deck."

"Faix, thin, yer honour, if yer are going to spare the captin's life, I have no objection at all at all to live a little longer," answered Dan— still, however, keeping his cutlass ready to defend himself.

"And I'se too glad to 'cept your offer!" cried Pompey, who also wisely stood on his guard.

"Let no one touch them, or the boy there," said the pirate, pointing to Tim Maloney, who, though he had done his part, had now got behind Dan and Pompey.

A dizziness had come over Owen's eyes as he fell, but now looking up, he caught sight of the pirate gazing at him. Their eyes met.

"Owen Massey," said the pirate, taking his hand; "I know you and remember my promise." He pointed to the ring which Owen wore upon his finger.

"O'Harrall!" exclaimed Owen. "Is it possible that you are the leader of such men?"

"It is fortunate for you that I am their leader," answered O'Harrall, helping Owen to rise. "Were I not, you would have shared the fate of your crew. I will protect you and the three survivors, although it will be no easy matter to do so."

"I accept your offer, and trust that you will keep your word regarding my men," answered Owen.

More he could not say, for his feelings overpowered him, as looking round he saw his two mates stretched dead on the deck, and the rest of the men who had remained faithful to him weltering in their blood not far off. Though bruised from his fall, he was not otherwise hurt, nor were either Dan, Pompey, or Tim wounded.

"The safest place for you and these three men is your own cabin," said O'Harrall. "Go in there with them, and I will place a sentry at the door. I cannot trust my own people, and still less the fellows who turned traitors to you."

Owen, fully agreeing that O'Harrall was right, followed his advice. As he was going below, he saw Routh approaching O'Harrall. After gazing at each other for a moment, they shook hands. Owen, on seeing the two together, no longer wondered that he should have mistaken one for the other, so great was the likeness.

"They must be brothers, and the man who calls himself Routh is the younger, of whom my mother has spoken to me," he thought.

Thankful to have escaped with his life, more for his mother's and Norah's sake than his own, Owen Massey, sad and almost broken-hearted at the loss of the ship, threw himself into a chair in his cabin, Dan, Pompey, and Tim standing round him.

"Cheer up, Cappen Massey; tings when dey come to de wust begin to mend, dey say," observed Pompey, anxious to console his beloved master. "As de pirate sabe our lives, he set us free p'raps, and den we go back to Jamacee and you get oder ship."

"Bad luck to the pirates for taking us, though!" exclaimed Dan. "It's my belafe we should have bate them off, if it hadn't been for that thafe of the world, Routh, and the other villains. By the powers! if I ever get the chance, I'll make him repint his treachery; but as you have escaped, captin dear, the rest matthers but little to my mind in comparison."

Owen thanked his followers for their kind expressions towards him, but he severely felt the loss of his mates and the rest of the crew, besides that of his ship, while he could not look forward with much hope to the future. He was very doubtful, also, how O'Harrall might treat him. He knew too well the savage and lawless character of the man, who, though he had saved his life, might at any moment, in a fit of passion, turn upon him and his other prisoners; and although he might withhold his hand from killing him, would without compunction put the others to death. For the present, however, their lives were probably safe; and Owen resolved to follow the pirate's advice and remain in the cabin until summoned to leave it. He could judge by the sounds on deck that the pirate crew were engaged in repairing the damages the Ouzel Galley had received. After this he heard the order given to make sail, and he found by a small compass in the cabin that the ship was standing to the eastward.

After some time O'Harrall himself entered the cabin. "I was compelled to take your ship, Massey," he said, "and now I have got her I am equally obliged to keep her; but I repeat to you that your life and the lives of the two Irishmen are safe, provided you remain below. The black runs no risk from my people, and he may go on deck and make himself useful. He will act as your steward, and bring you your meals while you remain on board. I intend to take command of the Ouzel Galley, so that I shall be able to look after you till you are put on shore."

Owen was not inclined, it may be supposed, for conversation; while O'Harrall had matters to attend to on deck. He therefore, having sent Pompey there, soon left the cabin. After some time the black returned with a substantial meal, which he had prepared by O'Harrall's orders.

Night came on, and the ship still continued her course. Owen's only hope was that she might be sighted by some man-of-war and recaptured. This hope, however, was but slight. The pirates were likely to be wary, and they would take care to keep away from any strange sail. The wind was light, and the Ouzel Galley made but slow progress. Owen recollected that the pirate ship was in company. O'Harrall, when he came occasionally into the cabin, showed no inclination to give him any information.

Another and another day went by, and Owen began to lose all hope of being retaken; still, as long as the ship was at sea, there was a probability of this occurring.

"Suppose we are chased—won't the pirates be after cutting all our throats, sure?" suggested Tim, who was more out of spirits than either Owen or Dan.

Owen could not help thinking that such might be the case; yet if the Ouzel Galley were to be recaptured, notwithstanding the injury O'Harrall had done him, he determined to plead for his life. Not that he could perceive a single good quality in the man, except his undaunted bravery, and he himself felt grateful to him for saving his his life, though it was done in return for his twice having saved O'Harrall's.

On the morning of the fourth day the wind freshened, and the ship made better progress. Towards evening, Owen and his fellow-prisoners could distinctly hear the roar of breakers. Occasionally the loud voice of O'Harrall, issuing his orders, reached their ears. The ship rose and fell several times as if passing over a bar, then Owen felt that she was gliding on through perfectly calm water. He heard the orders for shortening sail; still she continued her course for some distance, till the anchor was dropped and all movement ceased. He could have no doubt that she had entered a harbour, the rendezvous of the pirates, where they would consider themselves safe from attack, and that his chances of escape were now likely to be small indeed. The Ouzel Galley had been some time at anchor when O'Harrall entered the cabin.

"I have made arrangements for you and the two Irishmen to live on shore," he said; "the black can attend on you, and you must make the best of the circumstances in which you are placed. As to your escaping, that is out of the question, so I will not go through the ceremony of taking your word that you will not make the attempt. As to the future, I can say nothing. If I can prudently at any time set you at liberty, I will do so, although when that may be is more than I can at present say. You are at liberty to take with you your clothing, and any books you may require for your amusement. I have obtained that favour for you. According to our laws, every article on board the ship is public property, and must be divided accordingly. I will accompany you on shore as soon as it is dark. In the mean time, you can employ yourself in putting your things together, and taking farewell of the old ship. I little supposed when I was before on board that I should one day find myself her commander."

O'Harrall spoke the last sentence in a somewhat ironical tone, and, without further remark, left the cabin. It was already dark, and Dan had lighted the lamp which hung from the deck above when O'Harrall returned.

"I will take you and your followers on shore now, Captain Massey," he said. "Ask no questions, and take no notice of anything you see. While I am with you, you are safe; obey my directions and you will continue so, but I cannot answer for the conduct of the people hereabouts if you venture anywhere by yourself. Your men will carry your chest and their own bags."

Pompey had entered with O'Harrall, to assist Dan and Tim; taking up Owen's chest, they followed him and the pirate on deck. Not a man was to be seen on board; the ship appeared to be deserted. A boat was alongside, with two people in her. The Irishmen and Pompey lowered down the chest.

"Come, Massey, bid farewell to the old craft," said O'Harrall, in the same tone in which he had before spoken; and he went down the side of the ship into the boat.

Owen and his three companions descended after him.

"Shove off," said the pirate in Spanish; and the crew, obeying, began to pull towards the low shore, which could dimly be distinguished through the obscurity. A few trees rose above it, and here and there at intervals twinkling lights could be perceived, as if proceeding from the huts of the inhabitants.

Owen, as he glanced round, saw at once that the ship lay in the centre of a lagoon of some size, the shores of which were in most parts low; but to the southward, the direction of which he knew by the stars shining brightly from out of the unclouded sky, the ground rose to a considerable height, with what appeared to be cliffs directly above the water. Near the Ouzel Galley lay another large ship, and he guessed that she was the one which had captured her, but he wisely forebore to ask questions.

"You see the sort of place you are in," said O'Harrall. "It is not one from which you could easily escape, however much you might desire it; but let me advise you not to make the attempt. You would to a certainty be retaken, and I could not save you from the fate to which you would be doomed. I have already shown that I desire to serve you. I could not help capturing the Ouzel Galley, for the signal made by one of your crew showed my people that she was a prize worth taking; although I knew her at once, and guessed that you must be in command, I could not help myself."

Owen made no reply to these remarks. Bad as a man may be, he generally endeavours to offer some excuse to those he respects. But little further conversation passed till the boat reached the beach. O'Harrall then gave some orders to the men in her, who, as soon as he and his companions had landed, pulled away. The black and the two seamen then, shouldering the chests, followed O'Harrall and Owen, the former conducting them directly inland, passing some groves of cocoa-nut and other trees, and avoiding any of the huts which were scattered about here and there. After they had walked nearly a quarter of a mile, a largish building, which might have been a barn or store, met their gaze, a light gleaming from one end of it.

"Open the door, Mammy; here are your guests," said O'Harrall, and immediately an old black woman appeared, with a lamp in her hand, which she held up to enable her to scrutinise her visitors.

"All right, massa cappen," she said. "Glad to see the gen'lemen. I'se take good care ob dem, neber fear."

"Go in, Captain Massey," said the pirate. "Mammy will be your hostess while you remain with us."

Owen and the rest entered the hut. He saw that the room in which they found themselves occupied only a part of the ground-floor of the building, being divided off from the larger portion by a wooden partition or bulkhead. On looking round he saw a ladder, which led through a trap-door to the floor above.

"Your lodging is to be up there," said O'Harrall, pointing to it. "It may remind you of a place in which you once gave me shelter. I have not forgotten that. I wish that I could afford you better accommodation; however, it is sufficiently large and airy, and you will, I hope, find it as comfortable as you desire. Mammy will supply you with food, which your black fellow can cook, with her assistance. The only charge I have to give you is not to leave the house until you hear from me. A tackle hangs from the beam overhead. Let your men get your chest and their bags up at once; so that, should any one come to pay Mammy a visit, it will not be suspected that you are here. You see, I took precautions for your safety, and they were not unnecessary. Some of the gentry who inhabit this island would not scruple to stick a knife into you, if they thought that you were prying into their proceedings."

"I will follow your directions," answered Owen, telling Dan to go up the ladder and lower the tackle.

They at once hoisted the chest and bags to the floor above. A second lamp, which the old woman supplied, showed them a large room which extended the whole length of the building. At one end was a cabin table, with some chairs and a cot; at the other several bunks and seamen's chests. There were numerous bales and boxes placed against the walls, on which also hung a variety of arms: firelocks, blunderbusses, and pistols, cutlasses and sabres, apparently the spoils of various captured vessels.

"You see that I am not afraid of trusting you with weapons," said O'Harrall who had followed his prisoners into the place, and he pointed to the arms. "If by chance you are attacked you are welcome to defend yourselves, but I do not expect that that will happen. This building is my property; no one will come here, if you keep yourselves quiet. I have directed Mammy to get some supper for you, and the black will bring it up shortly. Now, good night. I have matters to attend to on board the Eagle, and it may be some days before I again visit you."

"I have to thank you for the care you take of us," answered Owen. He could not bring himself to offer his hand to the pirate, nor did the latter apparently expect him to do so.

Without further remark O'Harrall descended the ladder, and, after exchanging a few words with the old negress, took his departure.

Owen paced up and down the room, meditating on the strange position in which he was placed; while Dan and Tim sat on two chests at the further end, feeling very disconsolate. Pompey, meantime, could be heard below, chattering away to the old woman while he assisted her in preparing supper. In a short time he appeared, with a tray on his head, up the ladder.

"Cheer up, cappen," he said. "She not so bad ole woman, me tink, and p'raps tings go better dan we suppose. At all events, she make berry good fricassee." And he pointed to the dish of fowl prepared as he had described, which looked very tempting.

Notwithstanding their misfortune, Owen and his companions managed to discuss the viands placed before them with tolerable appetites, the two seamen and Pompey especially doing their part. At length Owen threw himself into his cot, and endeavoured to forget his sorrows in sleep. His followers, having secured the trap-door, imitated his example.

The next day passed without a visit from O'Harrall. Pompey alone went below to obtain food, Owen thinking it prudent to follow the pirate's advice. He spent the time walking up and down the room, occasionally trying to calm his mind by reading; so that he found the hours pass away more rapidly than did Dan or Tim, who were ignorant of the art. It occurred to him at last that he might amuse them as well as himself, and as several of his books were of an interesting character, he read aloud to them, greatly to their delight.

"Faix, captin, I niver knew there was sich beautiful things in books," exclaimed Dan, who had not in his life been read to before; "and I'll jist make bould to axe you to tache Tim and meself, and you'll find us apt scholars, if you don't think us too simple to learn."

"With all my heart," answered Owen; and thenceforth he devoted several hours during the day to the instruction of Dan and the lad, who, giving their minds to the task, rapidly learnt to read.

One day passed very much like another. A month went by without O'Harrall's making his appearance, so that Owen concluded that he had again sailed. Pompey could obtain no information. Mammy, he said, had made him promise not to go outside the door, and had threatened him with fearful punishment if he ventured to do so. There were windows to the room, but they were high up and strongly barred. Dan and Tim climbed up to them, but a grove of trees intervened between the house and the harbour, so that nothing could be seen of the vessels, while on the other side was a wide extent of sandy country, with the blue ocean in the distance.

Owen was naturally getting very weary of his captivity. What the pirate's object was in keeping him a prisoner, it was difficult to understand. He could scarcely intend to keep him a captive for life; but when would he give him his liberty was the question. Owen determined to ask him as soon as he returned. He naturally often thought over some plan for making his escape, but, unacquainted as he was with the surrounding country, and without means of gaining any knowledge of it, it was impossible to decide what to do. Dan and Tim often talked over the subject with Pompey, who, however, declared that they were so narrowly watched by the old woman that it would be impossible to succeed.

"Mammy always sleep wid one eye open and ear wide-awake," he observed. "Suppose we get out and she not raise a hullabaloo, where we go to? Wait a bit, and den we see what we do."

Pompey, in truth, was no more able than the rest of the party to devise any feasible plan for getting away.

Imprisonment is galling to all men, but it was especially so to Owen, who had hoped to make a successful voyage, and to marry his beloved Norah at the end of it. He had no means of communicating with her, and she, naturally supposing him to be lost, would be plunged in grief. He felt that he could better bear his hard fate if he could but let her know that he was alive. He might some day regain his liberty. He had no doubts about her constancy; he was sure that she would be faithful to him; and although her friends might try to induce her to marry, he felt confident that she would not do that.

At length, one evening when Pompey was sitting with his shipmates in the loft, voices were heard below.

"Hi, dat de pirate cappen," he exclaimed; and Owen prepared himself for an interview with O'Harrall.

Before long the pirate came up the ladder. A dark scowl was on his brow. Owen rose to receive him. O'Harrall advanced and threw himself into a chair, scarcely glancing at the men as he passed them.

"I am glad to see you, Captain O'Harrall, for I hope that you will allow me and my companions to quit this place, and we shall be ready to enter into any arrangement you may dictate not to betray its position," said Owen.

"I am not in the habit of placing myself in the power of others when I can help it," answered O'Harrall. "Your word may be as good as your bond, but both may be broken. I tell you plainly I intend to keep you prisoners as long as I remain in these seas. Circumstances may induce me to return to Europe, and if so, I may either carry you with me or land you at some island, from whence you may find your way to Jamaica. When that may be I cannot say. In the mean time, you must make up your mind to be content with your lot."

"You might land me, when you next sail from this, at some such place as you speak of without any detriment to yourself," said Owen; and, bethinking him that he would appeal to the pirate's better feelings, he added, "You have deprived me of my vessel and ruined my prospects of advancement. I was engaged to marry a young lady who is sincerely attached to me, and for her sake I plead for my liberty, that I may be able to return to her, or at all events inform her that I am still alive."

"Who is she?" asked O'Harrall, "although I need scarcely put the question."

"Captain Tracy's daughter—you have often seen her," answered Owen.

"I thought so," exclaimed O'Harrall. "You have counted too much on my generosity. I have not only seen her, as you say, but admire her more than any woman I have met, and should I ever wed I intend to make her my wife. Is it likely, then, that I should allow you to return home and forestall me?"

Owen's heart sank: he could not reply.

"You have but ill pleaded your cause," continued O'Harrall in the cold sarcastic tone in which he often spoke. "You saved my life, and I have preserved yours; more you cannot expect from me. Those men there behaved well to me on board the Ouzel Galley, and I therefore could not allow them to be killed. My sense of justice does not go further than that. You and they must make up your minds to remain where you are for an indefinite period. I came to see how you had acted, and if you behave as wisely as you have hitherto done you need not fear being subjected to any further restraint. I will, by-the-by, send you some books for your amusement. You will see by this that I do not wish to treat you with greater severity than is necessary. Now, good evening."

O'Harrall rose as he spoke, and without further remark descended the ladder, drawing the trap after him.

A parcel of books was delivered through Mammy the next day; they consisted chiefly of voyages and travels, and proved a great boon to the prisoners. O'Harrall, however, did not again appear until some weeks after this. He was, when he then came, evidently in a bad humour, his manner being even threatening towards his prisoners. He spoke as if he regretted having spared their lives, exhibiting by the expressions he used his abandoned disposition. Owen knew that his only safe course was not to answer him. He felt that it would be hopeless to attempt to arouse any better or more generous feelings. He, however, was more than ever resolved to try and escape.

Dan proposed, could they ascertain that the pirates had sailed on any expedition, to secure the old woman, make their way down to the harbour during some dark night, and attempt to gain the open sea. Once clear of the island, they might hope to get picked up by some ship, and under their circumstances they might trust even to an enemy, or they might succeed in reaching Jamaica. They must wait, however, until the hurricane season was over, and they might then, even in a canoe, navigate these calm seas without much danger.

Owen thought the plan feasible, although it might prove difficult and dangerous. It could scarcely be hoped that the pirates would leave the harbour unguarded. It might be a hard matter to find a canoe suitable for their object, and they must also obtain a supply of provisions and water. Mammy's watchful eye would effectually present them from doing this, and herein lay their first and chief difficulty.

O'Harrall had now been for some time absent. It struck Owen that perhaps the account he had given of the savage character of the inhabitants was to prevent then from leaving the house, and he resolved to try how Mammy would behave should they attempt to go out.

Pompey undertook to try and persuade her to allow them to take some exercise, as their health was suffering from their long confinement. He got her, therefore, one day into conversation, when she appeared to be in a better humour than usual, and after some time he made a signal to Tim, who was on the watch, to come down. Owen and Dan followed. Then, telling her that they would go out and take a short walk, they left the house without further ceremony, notwithstanding her expostulations.

"Nebber mind, Mammy," said Pompey; "dey come back. Me help you cook dinner meantime."

Owen took a path in the first instance away from the harbour, but as his great object was to obtain a view of it, he doubled back on the other side, and then hurried towards it. Just as they had caught sight of the water through the trees, they came upon a hut, near which they were about to pass, when Owen heard the voice of a man, as if in pain, proceeding from it. Prompted by a kind feeling and a wish to relieve the sufferer, he entered. On a rude bunk lay a white man, apparently ill of fever. He appeared greatly astonished at seeing Owen and his companions.

"Who are you?" he asked. "I thought the ship had sailed."

"I would inquire who you are?" said Owen.

"Well, sir, I am an unfortunate fellow, who wishes that he was anywhere but where he is. I see that you are not one of the Eagle's crew, and so I don't mind telling you. I joined her to save my life, and now that I am ill I am allowed to die like a dog by myself, with no one to look after me. I was left on shore sick, and since I grew worse I have been unable to get any food, and I am too weak to walk."

Owen promised to try and induce Mammy to supply the poor fellow with nourishment. He would at once have hurried back, but he was anxious, having got thus far, to obtain a view of the harbour. Accordingly, telling the man he would send him relief as soon as possible, he, with Dan and Tim, left the hut, and made their way on, keeping themselves concealed as much as possible among the trees and bushes till they came in full view of the harbour.

It was a wide lagoon, which narrowed towards the southern end, where a perpendicular cliff of some extent rose directly out of the water, its summit covered with trees. Both Owen and Dan were of opinion that this formed one end of the channel leading to the sea. No boats or canoes could be discovered on the beach. Further along it to the northward were seen a number of huts and buildings of larger size, probably storehouses. People were moving about among them, but it was impossible at the distance they were to know if they were blacks or whites. In the centre of the harbour lay the Ouzel Galley, much in the condition in which she had been when captured, and there were several smaller vessels at anchor, completely dismantled.

So far the inspection of the harbour had been satisfactory; there was nothing that Owen could see to prevent the possibility of their escaping. The party hastened back to the house. Mammy scolded them for being so long absent. "If cappen here, you no do it," she observed; by which remark they guessed that, though she held O'Harrall in awe, she had herself no ill-feeling towards them. On Owen's telling her of the sick man, she consented to let Pompey take him some food, and undertook to visit him herself, provided they would promise not to leave the house during her absence. This they readily agreed to do.

Some days afterwards, when Owen again managed to get as far as the hut, he found the man greatly recovered. John Hempson (as he said was his name) professed himself very grateful, and declared his intention of escaping from the pirates on the first opportunity. "I suppose that they will take me to sea the next time they go," he observed, "and if I then have the chance, I will leave them. They are likely to be back soon, and, indeed, I wonder they have not come in before this."

"Well, then," said Owen, "if you ever return to the old country, you must promise to find out Captain Tracy, living near Waterford, and tell him that I am alive, and hope some day to get back. Depend on it, the captain will reward you for your trouble."

"How will he believe me?" asked Hempson.

"I will write a letter for you to deliver," said Owen. He, however, recollected that he possessed no writing materials, and he might not again have the opportunity of communicating with Hempson. That moment it occurred to him that he had a small book in his pocket. It contained but a portion of a blank leaf. He tore it out, and with the end of a stick he wrote the letters "O.M."

"When my friends see this, they will know that you are speaking the truth," he said, giving the man the paper.

Just then Dan, who had gone on ahead, came hurrying back with the information that a ship was entering the lagoon, and Owen thought it prudent at once to return to the house. Mammy, on hearing this, told her captives that they must not again venture forth, and they, of course, saw the prudence of obeying her.

O'Harrall, who had returned in the ship, paid them but one visit, when he evidently wished to find a cause for quarrelling with Owen. Owen wisely kept his temper, though Dan looked as if he would like to try the strength of his shillelagh on the pirate's head. Whether or not O'Harrall suspected that his prisoners contemplated trying to make their escape, it was difficult to say; but they found that a hut was put up close to their abode, and that it was occupied by two Spaniards, ill-looking fellows, who seemed to have nothing to do but to sit at the door and smoke all day. They did not, however, prevent Mammy going out, accompanied by Pompey, to obtain provisions; and the latter brought them word that the ship had again sailed. Pompey also found out that Hempson had gone on board the ship, and Owen hoped that he would carry out his intention of escaping. Slight as was the chance that he would convey any information to Captain Tracy, it yet raised Owen's spirits.

"We, must wait, howeber, to get 'way till we can manage dese rascal Spaniards," said Pompey. "Dey keep de eye too wide open to let us go just now."

Days and weeks and months went by, and nothing occurred to vary the monotony of their existence. The Spaniards kept too strict a watch to enable them to make any excursions out of the house, and Mammy herself seemed as cautious as she had been on their first arrival. Had it not been for the interest Owen felt in teaching his two countrymen to read, his own spirits would have broken down. Pompey also begged to go to school and join their class, but he had great trouble in learning his letters, although after he knew them he got on as rapidly as either of his companions.

Thus several months more passed by. Twice the Eagle came in, and again sailed without their receiving a visit from O'Harrall. Owen was becoming more and more sick at heart. It may seem strange that he and his three companions should have been kept in such thraldom by an old woman and two Spaniards, but could these ever-watchful guardians have been overpowered, and even a canoe secured, it would have been madness to have put to sea without provisions and water, with the chance of being pursued or picked up by the pirate ship. He waited, therefore, for an opportunity, which, however, he at times thought might never arrive.

Pompey had at length one day gone out with Mammy, when on his return he brought the news that the Eagle had been lost, and that the captain, with a portion only of the men, had returned in a small vessel they had captured. Owen naturally feared that O'Harrall, after his misfortune, would be in a worse temper than before, and was thankful that he did not make his appearance. Pompey accounted for it by informing them that he and all hands were on board the Ouzel Galley, busily employed in fitting her out.

It was now again the hurricane season, and some time would probably elapse before the pirates would venture to put to sea. For the same reason Owen considered that it would not be prudent to try and make their escape. Their chance, however, of getting off undiscovered was less than it had been before, for so great was the demand for hands to man the Ouzel Galley that the two Spaniards were called away from their post, and no others were sent to take their places. One evening, about this time, Pompey made his appearance in a great state of agitation.

"What do you tink, Cappen Massey?" he exclaimed. "I talk berry often to Mammy, and not 'spect anyting, but dis berry morning I'se tell her dat, when I was one piccaninny, I'se carried away from Africa wid my mudder; when I'se come to Jamaica, one massa buy her and anoder buy me, and from dat day I neber set eyes on her. We talkee for some time, and den she cry out, 'You Pompey, my son,' and she trew her arms round my neck and burst into tears. Den I kiss her and tell her dat she right, and we laugh and cry togeder for two 'ole hours."

Owen, upon further questioning Pompey, was convinced that he was not mistaken. It greatly raised his spirits, and he had now hopes that Mammy would connive at their escape, even if she would not venture to assist at it. Pompey was very sanguine about the matter. "She so happy to find me dat she do anyting I ask," he said positively. "Neber fear, cappen, we get away soon."

It was, of course, necessary to wait till the Ouzel Galley, now fitted out as a piratical ship, should sail. With varied feelings Owen saw her one morning gliding out of the harbour. He, accompanied by Pompey, had gone as near to her as he could venture. He had but little to fear of being discovered, as the whole population of the place were watching the departing ship. It was certainly trying to see his own vessel sailing away in the hands of the miscreants who had captured her, on an expedition which boded ill for any merchant vessels she could overtake. She was rigged exactly as before.

Owen would not have delayed making the attempt to escape, but the nights were moonlight, and they would run a great risk of being discovered. After this bad weather came on, and a further delay occurred. Pompey had undertaken to look out for a suitable craft. It was necessary to use caution in the search lest their intention might be suspected. He had made several trips along the shore, and had discovered places where boats and canoes were hauled up, but some were too large and heavy, and others too small. At last he said that he had found one of a proper size to hold five persons, and provisions and water sufficient to last them for a week or ten days. "Five persons!" exclaimed Owen.

"Yes, cappen. Mudder says she go too. If she stop, dat fellow cut her troat."

Although Owen would rather have dispensed with the company of the old woman, yet, in common humanity, he felt bound to take her if she wished to go. It showed, also, that she had confidence in their success, and would contrive to obtain the necessary provisions. About this she had been engaged for some time, getting some in one place and some in another, so that no suspicions might be raised as to her object.

The Ouzel Galley had sailed a fortnight or more, when Pompey announced that all was ready. Mammy packed up all the provisions in bundles, and had obtained two small casks of water, besides a number of gourds filled with the precious liquid. Pompey and Dan started as soon as it was dark, carrying loads, which they intended to hide near where the canoe was drawn up.

"We carry all de tings dere first," he said, "and den you, cappen, and mudder, and Tim, come along, and we shove off widout delay."

The last trip was made at about an hour before midnight, when Pompey and Dan returned, and Owen, with the old woman and Tim, accompanied them down to the beach. The night was very dark; no human being was stirring. As silently as possible the canoe was launched, when the stores were quickly put on board.

"Now, mudder, we put you 'longside cappen," whispered Pompey. "Whateber happen, don't cry out."

And taking the old woman up in his arms, he waded with her till he plumped her down in the stern of the canoe. She knew no more of the navigation than they did, so she could not be of further use to the adventurers, and they thus had to depend on their own judgment.

Owen took the after paddle. Pompey placing himself in the bows, Dan and Tim gave way, and the canoe noiselessly glided down towards the supposed entrance to the harbour. They hoped that any look-outs who might, under ordinary circumstances, have been stationed on the other side of the channel, would be withdrawn to man the Ouzel Galley. They therefore trusted that they could escape without being questioned. Still the expedition was one to try the best strung nerves. Owen feared that, should they be hailed, Mammy might forget her son's injunction. He was not aware of the determined character of the old woman.

They soon got into the narrow channel, in the centre of which Owen steered the canoe. It was necessary to proceed slowly, as from the darkness the shore on either side was in some places scarcely visible. The channel was long and intricate, but Owen, of course, knew that there must be considerable depth of water to allow large ships to get up it. They had just got to the end of the cliff, when a light was seen. Whether it proceeded from a hut or from a man with a lantern, it was impossible to say.

"Cease paddling," whispered Owen; and the canoe glided on with the impulse already given to it.

The light remained stationary.

"Give way," he again whispered. The men plied paddles as before. They had got some way further down, when they were startled by hearing a man shout, "Who goes there?"

They all remained perfectly silent and motionless. Just then the noise of the surf on the shore reached their ears, and they knew that they must be close to the entrance.

The man did not repeat his question for nearly a minute. As soon as he again began to speak, Owen told Dan and Tim to paddle away. He and Pompey did so likewise, and the canoe glided forward at a far more rapid rate than before. A shot was heard, but the bullet came nowhere near them. It was evident they could not be seen by the guard. The channel now widened out considerably, and they could distinguish the open sea beyond; they made towards it. There was but little or no surf on the bar, and they crossed without shipping a drop of water.

Owen had made up his mind to steer to the southward till they should sight Cuba. He felt sure that the pirate island was one of those which exist close to the Bahama Bank. Owen steered by the stars. His crew plied their paddles all night, the wind being too light to make it worth while to set the sail, and they hoped to be far out of sight of the island by daybreak. They were not without fear, however, that they might be pursued. The man who had fired at them would suppose that they were fugitives.

"Ill luck to the spalpeens who may be sent in chase after us!" observed Dan, showing what he was thinking about.

"Me no tink dat any boat come off after us," said Pompey, "'cos ebery man who can pull an oar is on board Ouzel Galley, so we safe as to dat."

The black's remark was cheering to Owen, who had hitherto thought it very probable that they would be pursued. Mammy, who as yet had not uttered a word, corroborated her son's statement.

When morning broke the island could scarcely be seen astern, nor was any land in sight ahead. The sea was perfectly calm; the sky overhead undimmed by a cloud. Owen looked round; no sail was visible in any direction. All they could do was to paddle on, in the hope that a favourable breeze would spring up to carry them on their course, when two at a time might get some sleep. The weather looked perfectly settled, and, though the canoe was somewhat deeply laden, Owen felt confident that she would be able to go through any sea which was likely to get up. His chief anxiety arose from the possibility there was of falling in with the Ouzel Galley. Should they do so, they could scarcely expect any mercy from the pirates. He, of course, intended to do his best to keep clear of her. This he trusted that he might easily do, as the canoe, being low in the water, was not likely to be attract the attention of those on board the ship, while she could be seen in time to be avoided.

A breeze came at last; the sail was hoisted, and the canoe ran merrily before it. Dan begged that he might take the steering paddle, and that the captain would lie down and get some rest, which Owen was glad to obtain, as he intended to steer during the night. The sun was setting when he awoke, and after some supper was served out he resumed the steering paddle, and told Dan and Pompey, who had hitherto been keeping watch, to turn in. Notwithstanding the sleep he had obtained, towards morning he began to feel very drowsy; still his eye was fixed on the star by which he was directing the course of the canoe.

Tim had been stationed forward to keep a look-out, and Owen had hailed him every now and then to ascertain that he was awake. He had not done so, however, for some time, and was on the point of crying out, when Tim exclaimed, "By the powers, captin, there's a big ship ahead!"

"Lower the sail!" exclaimed Owen. "Dan and Pompey, out with your paddles."

They started up at hearing their names called, and obeyed the order.

"Paddle for your lives, lads!" cried Owen, keeping the canoe to the eastward.

Tim was not mistaken. The wide-spread canvas of a large ship was seen towering upwards not half a mile away; in a few minutes more she would have been close to the canoe. Owen and his companions watched her anxiously; there could be little doubt that she was the Ouzel Galley. Although she was clearly seen, they might hope to escape observation. They continued, however, paddling away at right angles to her course till they were well abreast of her, when Owen once more put the canoe's head to the southward; but not, however, till she was out of sight did he venture again to hoist the sail. The danger he had chiefly feared was past. It would take her probably a day or two before she could reach the harbour and discover their flight, and they might hope thus to keep well ahead of any boat sent in pursuit of them.

Two days more they stood on. One passed by very like the other. The wind remained steady, the sea smooth.

On the fourth day, some time after sunrise, a sail was seen ahead. Had not they all felt sure that the ship they had passed was the Ouzel Galley, they would have avoided her. Although prepared, if necessary, to perform the whole voyage to Jamaica, Owen judged that it would be far safer to get on board the first ship they could fall in with. He resolved, therefore, to approach her, and should she prove to be English, to run alongside. He little doubted that, even should she be French or Spanish, on their giving an account of their escape from the pirates, they would be treated with humanity. He accordingly steered towards her.

"Hurrah!" cried Dan. "She's a frind, she's a frind—for, there, up goes the English flag."

His quick eye had seen the character of the bunting as it ascended in a ball to the peak, even before it blew out to the breeze.

As the canoe approached, the ship hove to, and in a few minutes the party of fugitives were alongside. Owen was quickly on deck, when the first person he encountered was Gerald Tracy. Exclamations of surprise burst from their lips, and Owen was soon shaking hands with Norman Foley and the rest of the Champion's officers. His companions had followed him, Pompey shoving up old Mammy with his shoulder, while Dan hauled away at her from above. Numerous questions were put to Owen as to where he had come from, and he had to answer them before he could ask others in return.

At first he had experienced a feeling of intense satisfaction upon finding himself on board a friendly ship, but his grief may be imagined when he now heard that Captain Tracy and his daughter had fallen into the power of O'Harrall and his savage crew. Instead of rejoicing at his escape, he regretted having left the island, lest they might retaliate on their hapless prisoners. He trembled at the thought of what might be Norah's fate. Gerald, of course, shared his feelings; and, indeed, every one sympathised with them both.

As soon as the canoe was hoisted up the sails were filled, and the Research again stood on her course towards the pirate's island.



The two old captains were well aware of the numerous perils they might possibly have to encounter when they sailed on their voyage in the Research, but for the sake of Norah they took care to make light of them whenever their prospects of success were discussed in her presence. Norah very naturally would ask questions, and to those questions they were compelled to try and find answers. In what part of the numberless groups of those western islands were they to search for Owen and Gerald? One subject absorbed all their thoughts—on that alone could they converse. Even when Captain O'Brien, as he frequently did, tried to introduce any other, it before long was sure to merge into that one. Norah day after day would unroll the chart of the West Indies, and pore over it for hours, till she knew the form and position and size of every island and key, and reef and sandbank, delineated thereon. The ship had already reached the tropics when a heavy gale sprang up from the westward, before which she was compelled to run for three days. She then had a long beat back, and the weather being unusually thick, no observations could be taken to determine her position. Day after day the two captains and the first mate came on deck at noon with their quadrants, but not a break in the clouds appeared through which they could get a glimpse of the sun.

They calculated at last that they could not be far off the most western of the Bahamas, and, as they hoped, near the entrance of the Windward Passage. At sunset the clouds dispersed, the wind shifted to the northward, the stars shone brightly forth from the clear sky, and it was hoped that the next day they might be able to determine their position. As no land had yet been seen, they stood on for the greater part of the night; but towards morning, Captain Tracy; afraid of running further, hove the ship to, to wait for daylight.

Even before the first streaks of dawn appeared above the eastern horizon, the two mates, followed by Captain O'Brien, went aloft, eager to catch the expected sight of land. What was their surprise to discover it not only to the westward, where they had looked for it, but away to the south-east and over the starboard quarter. The ship had run in during the night among a group of islands, but what islands they were it was difficult to determine. Norah had dressed and appeared from her cabin as her father and Captain O'Brien came below to consult the chart.

"Here is our position, if I mistake not," said Captain Tracy, placing his finger on the chart. "We are further to the south'ard than I had supposed. An ugly place to have got to, but it might have been worse; the ship would have chanced to run foul of a reef had we stood on. But, Heaven be praised, we've escaped that disaster, and we'll now try to thread our way into the Windward Passage."

While the course to be pursued was still under debate, a cry from aloft was heard of—"A sail to the nor'ard!"

The captains hurried on deck, followed by Norah. "What is she like?" asked Captain Tracy.

"A large ship under all sail, standing this way, sir," answered the second mate.

In a short time it became evident that the Research was seen by the stranger, for the latter set every stitch of canvas she could carry, and steered directly after her.

A small island appeared ahead. At first it was proposed to pass to the westward of it, but the look-out from the mast-head discovering several dark rocks rising above the surface, and extending to a considerable distance in that direction, the ship's course was altered so that she would run along the eastern side of the island, as close in as prudence would allow. It was hoped that, to the southward of the island, a channel might be found which would lead her clear of the rocks and shoals by which she was surrounded.

Norah, who had continued on deck, had seldom withdrawn her eyes from the stranger, which appeared to her to be much nearer than when first seen. "What do you think, Captain O'Brien—is not that vessel fast gaining on us?" she asked.

"That may be, my dear Miss Norah, but it need not make us fear that she will come up with us," answered the old captain, who could not deny the fact. "She hitherto has had the advantage of a stronger breeze than has filled our sails, but we may shortly get more wind and slip away from her. If she does come up with us, we may find that she is perfectly honest, and that we had no cause to try and keep out of her way; so don't be alarmed, my dear, but go below and have some breakfast—it is on the table by this time—and your father or I will join you presently. One of us must remain on deck to look out for any reefs which may run off that island yonder."

Captain Tracy giving Norah the same advice, she unwillingly went below, and took her seat at the breakfast-table to await their appearance. She waited and waited, but neither of the captains nor the first mate came below. They were all, indeed, too busily engaged in watching the progress of the stranger and discussing her character to think of breakfast. She had been bringing up a much stronger breeze than had hitherto filled the sails of the Research, to which she had now got almost within gunshot. Captain Tracy had for some time been intently examining her through his telescope.

"Tell me if you have ever seen that craft before," he said, handing it to Captain O'Brien. "My eyes may deceive me, and it may be mere fancy, but I cannot help thinking that she is a ship I ought to know well."

"By my faith, I ought to know her too," exclaimed Captain O'Brien. "If that vessel isn't the Ouzel Galley, she has been built to look like her. Perhaps, after all, our friend Owen may have run her on one of the unfrequented keys to the nor'ard, and, having only lately got her afloat and refitted, is now on his way to Jamaica. He is therefore naturally anxious to speak an English ship, to hear news from home."

"That vessel may be the Ouzel Galley, but Owen Massey would never hoist such a piece of bunting as that," cried Captain Tracy, who, having again taken the telescope, was looking towards the stranger, which had just then run up to her fore topgallant mast-head a black flag with the well-known pirate's device of a death's head and cross-bones. The object was evidently to intimidate the crew of the chase.

Directly afterwards the stranger yawed and fired her foremost gun. The shot came flying across the water, but, after several times striking the surface, sank short of the Research. There was no longer any doubt of the character of the stranger.

"Lads," cried Captain Tracy, "you see that flag! Death or worse than death will be our lot if we don't beat off the piccarooning villains who have hoisted it. They think to frighten us; but stand to your guns like men, and we'll beat her off." The crew cheered, and promised to do their duty.

Norah had not heard the sound of the gun fired by the pirate, but the men's hearty cheers reaching the cabin, she hurried on deck to learn what caused them. Just as she appeared, the pirate, again yawing, fired three shot in rapid succession, one of which glanced along the side of the Research. Captain Tracy had just ordered two guns to be brought aft, and the crew were engaged in the operation, when, seeing Norah, he begged Captain O'Brien to take her below and to place her where she could be out of the way of harm. She had seen enough, however, to show her the state of affairs; her fears were realised.

"Come away, my dear," said the old captain, taking her hand. "Bound shot are ugly playthings for young ladies, and the sooner we get you stowed safely away the more ready we shall be to carry on the game with yonder gentleman. We'll beat him, so don't be alarmed when you hear our guns firing. Perhaps we shall knock some of his spars away, and we shall then take the liberty of leaving him to repair damages at his leisure."

Captain O'Brien thus talked on, endeavouring to keep up Sarah's spirits, as he conducted her to a secure place in the hold, which, with the help of the cook and steward, he set about arranging for her. It reminded her of the place to which she and Gerald had been sent on board the Ouzel Galley, when her father and Owen, with their handful of men, had so bravely fought the famous Captain Thurot and his numerous crew. The recollection of that event encouraged her to hope that the well-manned Research would beat off a vessel much larger than herself, however desperately the pirate's ruffianly crew might fight. She sat with her hands clasped, endeavouring to retain her composure. She would have been thankful for any occupation, but she could do nothing but sit still and wait for the result of the impending fight—yes, she could pray; and earnestly she did so, that her beloved father and his friends might be protected from the shot of the foe.

When Captain O'Brien returned on deck, he found that the two guns had been pointed through the stern-ports. The match was applied, and both were fired by the first mate in quick succession; but no visible effect was produced on the enemy's spars.

"Run them in, my lads, and load again," cried Captain Tracy. "Let me see what I can do; if we can wing the pirate, we shall be saved further trouble." Running his eye along one of the guns, he fired; Captain O'Brien at the same time discharging the other. Looking through his telescope, Captain Tracy uttered an exclamation of impatience as he could discover no damage caused by the shot on the pirate's rigging. The broad spread of white canvas remained extended as before to the yards. "We must try again and again till we succeed," he exclaimed; "maybe we shall have better luck next time." While the guns were being run in and loaded, he turned his telescope towards the island, which was now broad on the starboard beam. "Why, as I live, there is a British ensign flying above what looks very like a fort in the centre of the island!" he exclaimed. "If there is anchorage under it, we can run in and set the pirate at defiance. He does not appear to have discovered the fort, or he would not venture so near it."

Captain O'Brien took the glass, and minutely examined the coast. "I see no opening between the reefs through which we could get up anywhere near the fort," he observed. "Were we to attempt to run in, we should very probably get the ship on the rocks, and be far worse off than we are likely to be if we stand on and trust to our guns to beat off the piccaroon. Though the sea is so smooth here, the surf is breaking heavily on the reefs and shore. If you'll take my advice, you'll not make the attempt. There must be Englishmen on the island, though how they came there is more than I can say, but I am very sure that, on seeing a British ship chased by a pirate, they would come off to our assistance if they could launch their boats through the surf."

Captain Tracy acknowledged that his friend was right. To stand in closer to the reefs in order to look for an opening through them would be, should one not be found, to allow the pirate to come up and attack them with rocks close aboard.

The two ships ran on for some distance, the pirate gaining but slightly, if at all, on the chase. All the time a rapid fire was kept up from the two guns run through the stern-ports of the Research, the pirate almost as frequently discharging her bow-chasers. Her shot as she drew close began to tell with deadly effect. The second mate was the first to fall; two of the crew were soon afterwards desperately wounded, and another was killed; still the spars and rigging had hitherto escaped much damage. Matters were becoming very serious, when the shot from a gun trained by Captain O'Brien brought down the pirate's fore-topsail yard; the studding-sail booms being carried away at the same time, the studding-sails were seen flapping wildly in the wind.

"I am thankful that my old eyes are still of some use," he said, as he saw the effect he had produced. The British crew cheered right lustily.

The wind, which had been falling, breezed up a little, and the Research glided on out of reach of the pirate's guns. Not a moment was lost in repairing the slight damages her rigging had received. It was seen, however, that the pirates were similarly employed.

"The yard was only shot away in the slings, without damaging the mast, I fear," observed Captain O'Brien. "It will take the rascals some time, however, before they can sway it aloft, and ere then, if this breeze holds, we shall have run the pirate well out of sight."

But the breeze did not hold. As the day advanced the wind fell, and the two vessels lay becalmed just within long range of each other's guns. Both continued firing as before.

Poor Norah, as she sat all alone in the dark hold, was not forgotten. Sometimes Captain O'Brien and sometimes her father hurried below to say a few cheering words, assuring her that they hoped before long to get clear of the pirate.

The calm continued, allowing time to repair damages, and to commit the poor fellows who had been killed to the deep. A breeze was eagerly looked-for by all on board the Research. Should it come from the eastward, she would probably get it as soon as the pirate and retain her present advantage, but if from the northward, the enemy might creep up to her before she could move. Preparations were made for every emergency. The crew stood ready to brace the yards, from which the sails hung down against the masts, as might be required; the guns were loaded, and run out; pikes, cutlasses, muskets, and pistols were placed ready, in convenient positions to be grasped, should the pirate succeed in getting alongside.

The day wore on, and evening was approaching. The old captains were looking out astern.

"Do you see yonder dark line of water?" asked Captain O'Brien, grasping his friend's arm. "The pirate, after all, will get the wind before we do."

"It cannot be helped. We must do our best, and trust in Providence," answered Captain Tracy. "Our men will prove staunch, and though the villains outnumber them, and their metal is heavier than ours, we may still beat them off."

In less than a minute the sails of the pirate were seen to blowout, and she began slowly to glide through the water. Those of the Research gave a few loud flaps against the masts, and then hung down again, then swelled slightly to the breeze; but before she had gathered way, the pirate had gained considerably on her.

"We must try to stop her progress," exclaimed Captain O'Brien. "A gold doubloon to the man who first knocks away a spar; and if I succeed myself, I'll keep it in my pocket."

The old captain fired one of the stern guns as he spoke, but the shot did no harm to their pursuer. The first mate and the most experienced gunners among the crew tried their hands with no better success. The speed of the Research was increasing, but the pirate, having now got a steady breeze, came on faster than she was going through the water.

"If we can maintain our present distance, we may still escape the enemy during the night," observed Captain Tracy.

The sun was setting on the starboard hand, casting a ruddy glow on the sails of the two ships.

"Would that we could knock away a few of her spars, though," said Captain O'Brien; "it would make the matter more certain."

"It is to be hoped that she'll not knock away some of ours," remarked the first mate, as he observed the pirate yawing.

By doing so she brought her starboard broadside to bear on the Research, and every gun from it was fired at once. Although no one on deck was hurt, it wrought sad havoc in the rigging: braces and shrouds were shot away, the main-topsail yard was cut almost in two, the foreyard was severely damaged, and two or three of the lighter spars were knocked away. The old captains gazed up at the injuries which had thus suddenly been produced. To repair them seemed almost hopeless.

"I feared it would be so," muttered the first mate. "These fellows have some good gunners among them, as we shall find too soon to our cost."

Still neither of the sturdy old captains were inclined to despair. Hands were sent aloft to fish the foreyard, and to knot and splice the most important parts of the running rigging. The main-topgallantsail was let fly, the main-topsail brailed up so as to take the strain off the yard. The two stern guns were in the mean time kept actively employed.

The pirate gained more and more on the chase.

"We shall have to fight it out, yardarm to yardarm, if the pirates so choose, or maybe they think fit to board us," muttered the first mate. "They have the game in their own hands, and if we cannot manage to beat them back, they'll be masters of the Research before long."

He spoke too low for the rest of the crew to hear him, but his words reached Captain O'Brien's ears.

"Cheer up, Mr Rymer; never say die while there's a chance of life," he observed. "Though we may not like the look of things, it's better not to let the men know what we think, or our good captain either. He must be sorely troubled with the thoughts of the fearful position in which his young daughter will be placed, should the pirates overcome us."

"Overcome us!" exclaimed the mate. "I'd sooner blow the ship up with all hands, if it comes to that."

"No, no, my friend; don't attempt so mad and wicked a deed," said the old captain. "In doing that, we should be imitating the rascally buccaneers themselves. We are bound to leave our lives in God's hands, and He'll order things as He sees best. All we have to do is to fight to the last, and to try and save the ship from the pirate's hands."

"I hope we may succeed, sir," said the mate, his spirits animated by the old captain's remarks. "I, for one, will do nothing desperate, and I'll tell the gunner and boatswain what you say."

The pirate continued creeping up on her expected prey, firing her guns as they could be brought to bear; while the crew of the Research, firm to their promise, returned shot for shot, some aiming at their antagonist's rigging, others at the hull—though two more of their number were killed, and three or four wounded. The latter, however, having stanched the blood flowing from their limbs, returned to their guns, and continued fighting them with all the energy of despair.

They could not fail to see that they were suffering more than their opponent. The pirate ship was already on the starboard quarter of the Research, and in a short time would be on her beam, and thus prevent her from rounding the southern end of the reef, which it was calculated she had already reached.

The gloom of night had settled down on the world of waters, but it was lighted up by the rapid flashes of the guns.

"If we could but knock away her foremast, we should still have time to luff round ahead of her," cried Captain Tracy. "Aim at that, my lads; if you do it, you will save the ship."

Twice the starboard broadside was fired, but the pirate's masts and spars still appeared to be uninjured.

The crew of the Research were about again to fire her guns, when the pirate, putting up her helm, ran her alongside.

"Boarders, be prepared to repel boarders!" shouted Captain O'Brien, sticking a brace of pistols in his belt, and seizing a cutlass and pike. "We must drive them back, my lads, if they attempt to get on our deck."

The mate and other officers followed his example, and the crew armed themselves with the weapons to which they were most accustomed. The next instant the pirates were seen swarming in their own rigging, led by one of their officers—a bearded, dark man, who was encouraging them by his shouts and gestures. The first mate sprang forward to encounter him, and the next moment was brought to the deck by a blow from his cutlass. In vain the two old captains endeavoured to prevent the ruffians from setting foot on the deck of the Research; on they came, far outnumbering her crew.

The pirate captain had cut down the gunner and boatswain, and the rest of the diminished crew found themselves opposed to four times their own number. They well knew beforehand that it would be useless to ask for quarter, and to the few who cried out for it, none was given. The remainder, though fighting desperately, were quickly overpowered. The two old captains had wonderfully escaped being wounded; standing shoulder to shoulder, they were driven back to the companion-hatch, when the pirate captain made his way close in front of them.

"Yield, old men!" he shouted.

"Not while we have cutlasses in our hands," answered Captain O'Brien, warding off a blow made at his friend, who was wielding his own weapon with all the vigour of youth.

Just then the pirate captain exclaimed, "Yield, Captain Tracy, yield! all further resistance is useless. Your present ship is ours, as is your former craft. If you will drop your weapons, I will save your life and that of your companion. It is mad of you to hold out longer."

"He speaks the truth," said Captain O'Brien. "Tracy, we have lost the day. For the sake of your child, listen to his offers. He can but kill us at last, and we may if we live be able to protect her."

"Say what you like, and I'll agree to it," answered Captain Tracy.

"We will give in if we have your word that we and all the survivors on board will be protected from further injury or insult. We have a lady passenger, and I plead especially on her account. Will you promise that she is in no way injured or molested?" said Captain O'Brien.

"If you will take the word of a man who fights under yonder dark flag, you have it," answered the pirate.

"We yield, then," said Captain O'Brien, dropping his sword.

Captain Tracy did the same, though both felt very uncertain whether the next instant they might not be slaughtered by the savage miscreants, who had now entire possession of the deck of the Research.

"Go below, my friend, before the pirates find their way there. Tell Norah what has happened, and urge her to prepare for what may occur," whispered Captain Tracy. "I will try, meantime, to engage the attention of the pirate."

The latter made no remark when he saw the old captain disappearing down the hatchway.

"We have met before, Captain Tracy," he said. "I owe my life to the good services rendered me on board your ship, and I should be loth to have your death on my conscience. I have enough on it already. I know your friend, too; he is one of the few people to whom I have cause to be grateful."

"If you are the man I take you for," said Captain Tracy, intently regarding the pirate, "you owed a heavier debt to the master of the ship which I now find in your possession. You know how I regarded him, and you will relieve my mind if you can tell me where he is to be found."

"You will probably meet in a few days," answered the pirate. "He is well in health, though I considered it necessary to keep him a prisoner. You and Captain O'Brien will now have the opportunity of solacing him in his confinement."

"I thank you for the information," answered Captain Tracy. "We shall be ready to share his lot, whatever that may be."

The pirates, though they had obtained possession of the deck, had hitherto not made their way below; for they were all fully engaged, some in the barbarous work of putting the wounded out of their misery and heaving the dead overboard, and others in clearing the two ships. The wind had suddenly increased, and, as they had a dangerous reef aboard, it was necessary as quickly as possible to get them under command. Captain O'Brien had thus time to make his way into the hold and to break the intelligence of what had occurred to Norah. She, poor girl, had been intently listening to divine by the sounds which reached the hold how affairs were going. She knew too well that the engagement her father was so anxious to avoid was taking place; and the rapid firing of the guns told her that the crew of the Research were gallantly defending themselves. Then came the crashing sound as the pirate ran alongside. The shrieks and cries which arose informed her of the desperate hand-to-hand struggle that was going on. The comparative silence which ensued when the remnant of the British crew were cut down, alarmed her even more than did the occasional shouts of the pirates engaged in clearing the ship which reached her ears. She dreaded the worst, and had sunk down on her knees praying for strength to endure whatever trial might be in store, when, by the faint light of the lantern which hung in the hold, she saw Captain O'Brien standing before her.

"Is my father safe? Oh, tell me!" she exclaimed, grasping his hand.

"Yes; thank Heaven, he has escaped without a wound," he answered. "But affairs have not gone as we should wish," he continued, in as calm a voice as he could command. "The pirates have possession of the Research, but their captain, who appears to be an Englishman, has spared our lives and promised that we shall not be molested. I have hopes that he will keep his word, and you must not be cast down. We will not be separated from you, whatever may occur; but it is useless remaining longer in this dark place. We will go back into the cabin, where I will stay with you till your father comes down."

Saying this, Captain O'Brien, taking the lantern, led Norah up from the hold through a passage, by which they reached the state cabin without going on deck.

Norah's agitation made her scarcely able to stand, so Captain O'Brien led her to a sofa and took a seat by her. The next instant Captain Tracy entered. She sprang up, and, throwing her arms round his neck, burst into tears. While he was supporting her a step was heard, and the pirate leader appeared at the doorway. He gazed for a moment at Norah.

"Miss Tracy," he exclaimed, "had I known that the shot fired from my ship were aimed at the one which you were on board of, I would sooner have blown up my own craft or sent her to the bottom. I trust that you will pardon me for the alarm and anxiety I have caused you."

Norah gazed at the speaker with a look of terror as she clung to her father's arm. His countenance had been too deeply impressed upon her memory for her ever to forget it. She recognised in him the once second mate of the Ouzel Galley, when he had gone under the name of Carnegan—the man who had attempted to carry her off, and who had afterwards audaciously presented himself, when an officer on board the French privateer under the command of Thurot. Now he was the acknowledged captain of a band of pirates, and she and her father were in his power. He had spared the lives of the two old captains, but of what outrage might he not be guilty when he found that the love he professed was rejected? She endeavoured to recover herself sufficiently to answer him, but her efforts were for some time vain. Her limbs trembled under her; her voice refused to utter the words she would have spoken. Her father could not fail to observe her agitation.

"Retain your presence of mind, my child," he whispered, "but don't offend our captor."

By a strong effort, while the pirate stood gazing at her, she recovered herself.

"I claim nothing beyond the mercy any helpless woman might ask for on board a captured vessel," she answered at length; "and if you would save me from further suffering, I would pray that you would put my father and me, with our friend, on shore at the nearest spot at which you can land us. The vessel and cargo are yours, by right of conquest, but you can gain nothing by keeping us prisoners."

"You are mistaken, Miss Tracy," said the pirate; "I can gain everything which for long years it has been my fond desire to obtain. You recognise me, I am sure, and you cannot have forgotten the deep—the devoted love I have expressed for you. Promise me that you will no longer despise it, and your father and his friend shall not only be protected, but treated with every respect and attention they can require."

This address increased rather than allayed Norah's alarm.

"Oh, what shall I say to him?" she whispered to her father. "For your sake and Captain O'Brien's, I would not, if I can help it, arouse his anger."

Norah was, however, saved from the difficult task of answering the pirate by the appearance of one of his officers, who came to summon him on deck, that he might give his orders for the management of the two vessels. He hurried away, and left the trio to consult as to the best mode of treating him. He was for some time absent, the shouting of the officers and the tramping of the men's feet overhead showing that various operations were going forward on deck.

"You spoke well and bravely, Norah," exclaimed Captain O'Brien, after her father had placed her on the sofa, that she might the better attempt to recover from the fearful agitation she was suffering; "keep to that tone. Don't tell him how you fear and dislike him, but don't let him suppose that you are ready to consent to any proposals he may make. Humour him as much as you can, and above all things don't allude to Owen, or let him discover that he has a rival in the affection he asks you to bestow on him."

"Oh no, indeed I will not," said Norah; "and for my father's sake and yours, I will do all I can to soften his temper and make him treat you well."

"I wish you to do as Captain O'Brien suggests, for your own sake rather than for ours," observed her father. "We may defy him, as he can only murder us; but we wish to live that we may protect you. At present he appears to be in a tolerably good humour, and well he may, after capturing our good ship and her valuable cargo. He would rather have found her laden with ingots and chests of dollars; but she's a richer prize to him than the Ouzel Galley could have been, laden with hogsheads of sugar."

"The Ouzel Galley!" exclaimed Norah. "Has she fallen into that man's hands? Oh, father! has he, then, got Owen in his power?"

"He's not likely to have taken Owen's ship without capturing Owen too; but we know that he could not have put him to death, or Owen couldn't have sent us the message we received," answered her father.

"Perhaps our capture may, after all, be the means of our discovering Owen," observed Captain O'Brien. "You will not regret it then so much, Norah; and if we can regain our liberty, we may, by some means or other, carry him off also. It's an ill wind that blows no one good, depend on that."

Terribly alarmed as Norah felt, the idea suggested by Captain O'Brien somewhat cheered her.

The two captains sat, with Norah between them, endeavouring to prevent her spirits from sinking. Silence, by all means, was to be avoided, Captain O'Brien taking upon himself to be the chief spokesman. He did his best not to allude to the battle, or the slaughter of their brave crew. Little did Norah think that of all those she had seen that morning on deck, full of life and activity, not one was then in existence. She herself felt no inclination to speak of the fight, and she asked no questions about it. It was sufficient for her to know that the Research had been captured, and that the great object of the voyage—the recovery of Owen and Gerald—had come to nought. Weary and sad, she could not even venture to seek for the consolation of sleep. The lamp, which had been lighted at sundown, still hung from the beam above their heads, shedding a subdued light over the cabin. Some time thus passed. Occasionally the two old captains exchanged a few words in low tones, but they could not say all they thought, for they were unwilling to alarm Norah more than was necessary. They must act according to the pirate's conduct. As he had spared their lives, he might behave generously towards them and Norah, but of this they had but slight hopes.

It flashed across Captain O'Brien's mind that he was one of the O'Harralls, whom he had saved, when a boy, from drowning, while serving on board a ship he had commanded, he having jumped overboard in a heavy sea, and supported the lad till a boat came to their assistance. He had afterwards had cause to regret having done so, when O'Harrall became notorious for his evil deeds. "It would have been better to let him drown, than allow him to gather the sins on his head for which he has to answer," thought the old captain. "But no, I did what was right; for the rest he alone is answerable. If he's the man I suspect, he may have been prompted by the recollection of the services I rendered him to spare my life, and it may induce him still to act decently towards us."

Though these thoughts passed through Captain O'Brien's mind, he did not express them aloud, or tell his friend that he believed the pirate to be any other than the outlawed ruffian, O'Harrall.

Captain Tracy was addressing a remark to him, when the cabin door opened, and the man he had been thinking about stood before them. As he examined the pirate's features, he was sure that he had not been mistaken, but he thought it prudent to keep the idea to himself.

The pirate stood for a moment gazing at Norah.

"I have come to summon you on board my vessel," he said. "Your old craft has been too much knocked about, I find, to proceed before her damages are repaired. This can be done under the lee of the island, where we will leave her while we return into port. I wish you to prepare at once to accompany me. Anything you desire to take with you shall be brought on board, but I cannot allow you much time for your preparations, Miss Tracy. Your father or Captain O'Brien will assist you in packing your trunk."

Captain Tracy, knowing that it would be useless to remonstrate, replied that they should be speedily ready; and the pirate left the cabin.

Norah, endeavouring to calm her agitation, immediately set to work to pack up the things she knew that she should most require, while her father and Captain O'Brien tumbled theirs into a couple of valises; so that in a few minutes, when the pirate again entered the cabin, they were prepared to obey his orders. He was accompanied by a couple of men who, taking up their luggage, followed them on deck, to which he led the way. The darkness fortunately prevented Norah from seeing the marks of blood which stained the planks; she could only distinguish a number of dark forms moving about, engaged in repairing the damages the ship had received. She lay hove to, with the other vessel a short distance from her. A boat was alongside, into which the pirate desired the two old captains and Norah to descend, he offering his hand to assist her. She thanked him in as courteous a tone as she could command, and, the boat shoving off, the crew pulled away for the Ouzel Galley.

"You are not a stranger to this ship, Miss Tracy," observed the pirate, as he handed Norah on deck. "I regret that I was compelled to capture her, and to deprive her former master, my worthy friend Owen Massey, of his command." He spoke in a somewhat sarcastic tone, which Norah observed, but she wisely made no reply. "You will be safer in the cabin, where you will find yourselves at home," he continued; "my brave fellows are somewhat lawless, and it is as well to keep out of their sight." The pirate, as he spoke, led the way into the cabin. As they entered it, he requested that she would consider herself its mistress. "My black steward will attend to your wants, and will bring you whatever you may order. I have now to see to the navigation of the ship, so that I cannot for the present enjoy your society," he said.

Having led Norah to a sofa and desired his other guests, as he choose to call them, to be seated, he hurried from the cabin.

The light from a handsome silver lamp hung in the usual position showed them that no change had been made in its arrangements since the Ouzel Galley had sailed from Waterford.

"We might have been worse off, faith! but it's somewhat trying to find one's self on board one's own ship in the character of a prisoner," observed Captain Tracy. "However, our captor appears inclined to behave with as much courtesy as can be expected, and as I hope we shall not again be interrupted, I wish, Norah, you would try to obtain some sleep. O'Brien and I will watch by you, and you will be the better able to endure what you may have to go through."

"I cannot sleep; I don't wish to sleep," murmured poor Norah. "I should only dream of the dreadful events which have occurred."

After some persuasion, however, she consented to try and obtain the rest she so much needed, and in spite of her assertions, her father saw that she had dropped off into a calm slumber. He and Captain O'Brien could now speak more freely than they had hitherto done. Their firm resolution was not, on any account, to be parted from her. They had each retained their pistols, which they had concealed in their pockets, and Captain O'Brien vowed that, should any violence be threatened, he would shoot O'Harrall, and trust to win over the piratical crew by promising them the most ample rewards.

"If we kill their chief, the fellows will be awed, and we shall have time to throw the bait in their mouths; for the chances are that many of them will be glad enough to escape from the perilous course they are now compelled to follow, and if we can gain over some, the rest will not long hold out," he observed.

Captain Tracy thought his friend's plan too desperate, but he was at length won over to consent to it should O'Harrall's behaviour render some such proceeding necessary.

By a compass fixed in the forepart of the cabin, they saw that the vessel was standing to the westward, and that the wind must have shifted, as she appeared to be directly before it. After running on this course for some distance, they found that she was then hauled up to the northward. From this she appeared to deviate but slightly, sometimes a point or two to the eastward, and sometimes to the westward. They thus surmised that she was threading her way between reefs with which the pirates must have been well acquainted. Daylight at length streamed through the cabin windows, and as the sun rose above the horizon, they saw his rays glancing across the tiny wavelets which rippled the surface of the water, showing that a moderate breeze was blowing, and that the ship was under the lee of an island, which impeded the progress of the undulations rolling in from the wide ocean.

"Wherever we are going, it would be a hard matter, I suspect, without an experienced pilot, to get out again," observed Captain O'Brien.

"We must trust to protection from above, and we may hope to find the means of escape," answered Captain Tracy.

In spite of their intentions to keep awake, the two old captains could not avoid dozing off, till they were aroused by the entrance of a black, who announced himself as the steward.

"Me Jumbo—come to lay breakfast, and cappen say you hab what you like ask for, especially someting nice for de young lady."

"We shall be thankful for anything you are able to bring us, Jumbo," said Captain O'Brien. "We do not wish to give you more trouble than necessary."

"Dat berry good," answered the black, nodding as he went out of the cabin.

Before long he returned with an ample repast, consisting of several West Indian dishes and some others, the materials of which had probably been brought from the Research. The prisoners in reality cared but little for the food, but it was satisfactory to believe that the pirate intended to treat them with courtesy. Norah, who had taken nothing for many hours, was persuaded to eat some breakfast.

"You will feel all the better for it, my dear," said Captain O'Brien. "I never saw any use in starving one's self, even though one might be in the midst of an ocean of troubles. Matters always look worse when people are hungry, and perhaps now that we have had some food, we shall be able to see things in a brighter light. I have been thinking a good deal about Owen Massey, and should not be at all surprised that we, after all, accomplish the object of our voyage and find him. We shall have paid a high price, to be sure, by the loss of our good ship, but even that you will, at all events, not think too much if we get him back safe."

Norah smiled faintly. She almost dreaded the effect her presence might produce on the treatment of Owen, should he be in the pirate's power. The terrible thought had even occurred to her mind that the pirate might offer her the dreadful alternative of becoming his wife or seeing Owen murdered before her eyes. The idea, however, was too horrible to allow her to give it utterance.

Captain O'Brien endeavoured to amuse Norah by talking on in his usual way. He succeeded but ill in his attempts. Impossible was the task to draw her thoughts from present circumstances. "I wonder if we are to be kept prisoners below all day, or whether our piratical captor will take it into his head to invite us on deck?" he continued. "I should have no objection to smoke my pipe and enjoy a little fresh air. When Jumbo next appears, I'll send our compliments and request the favour."

The old captain carried out his intentions, and Jumbo returned with a message from the pirate captain, to the effect that they were welcome to come on deck if they chose.

Norah would have far rather remained in the cabin, but, as she dreaded being left alone, she agreed to accompany her father and Captain O'Brien. The pirate bowed as she appeared, and placed a seat for her on the poop, inquiring simply whether she had been supplied with everything she required. She briefly thanked him, and turned aside her head to avoid the gaze of the ruffianly crew, as they moved towards the after-part of the deck in the prosecution of their various duties. O'Harrall merely nodded to the two old captains, who stood by her side. The wind was baffling, and he was continually engaged in trimming sails, so that he was prevented for some time from again addressing her.

The Ouzel Galley had now got into a more open part of the sea, though neither of the old captains could tell exactly where they were. Again the wind became steady, and O'Harrall was coming up, apparently to speak to Norah, when the look-out from the mast-head shouted, "A sail on the starboard quarter!"

One of the chief officers was immediately sent aloft. On coming down, he reported the stranger to be a large ship running free.

"Does she look like a merchantman?" inquired O'Harrall.

"Much more like a man-of-war, judging by the cut of her canvas," was the answer, in a low voice.

"Perhaps she will take no notice of us," remarked O'Harrall. "It will be time enough if she gives chase to make sail; but it would only be drawing her attention towards us, if we were to do so now."

Captain Tracy overheard these remarks, but endeavoured to look as unconcerned as possible, though, as may be supposed, he earnestly hoped that the officer's surmise was correct, and that the stranger would endeavour to overhaul them.

The pirate continued to walk the deck, every now and then turning his glass in the direction the stranger had been seen, while the officer again went aloft. Presently he hurriedly came down and spoke a few words to the pirate captain, who instantly issued orders to the crew to make all sail.

Royals were set, and even lighter sails above them. The studding-sails were rigged out, and various strange-shaped sails were set between the masts and above and below the bowsprit. The studding-sails, however, were quickly taken in again, as the wind was too much abeam to enable them to be carried.

Captain Tracy managed, whenever the pirate's glance was turned the other way, to take a look over the quarter, and soon had the satisfaction of seeing the lofty sails of a large ship appearing above the horizon. It was pretty evident that the stranger was suspicious of the character of the Ouzel Galley, and was coming in chase of her.

O'Harrall and his crew seemed to be of the same opinion. They turned many an angry glance towards the old captains and Norah, as if they considered them the cause of the risk they were running of being captured. Though the Ouzel Galley was a fast vessel, the stranger was evidently much faster.

"What do you think she is, O'Brien?" asked Captain Tracy.

"A frigate or a large sloop of war; and though it is a difficult matter to judge of her nationality, she looks more like an English ship than a foreigner," he answered.

"Grant Heaven it may be so, and that the pirates may see the uselessness of fighting, should she come up with us," said Captain Tracy.

"They are not likely to give in without a desperate struggle, when they know that halters are in store for most of them if they are captured," replied Captain O'Brien.

O'Harrall was pacing the deck with hurried strides. He could only depend on the speed of his ship for escaping, and he well knew that no British man-of-war would engage him without doing her utmost to make him her prize. Suddenly he walked up to his prisoners, his countenance exhibiting a more ferocious aspect than they had hitherto seen it wear.

"You must go below," he said in a harsh tone; "your presence has brought us ill luck. At all events, my people think so, and I don't know how they may behave, should they see you on deck when yonder ship gets up to us."

"We will of course obey you," said Captain Tracy, taking Norah's hand; and, followed by Captain O'Brien, they descended to the cabin.

The latter would gladly have remained to watch the progress of the stranger, which he was more than ever convinced was a man-of-war. Some hours must, however pass, before she could get the Ouzel Galley within range of her guns. Should darkness come on, the latter would still have a chance of escaping without fighting. The eagerness of the pirate to avoid a contest showed clearly enough that they were only ready to fight when they had the hope of booty before them.

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